Ravi Kant made non-executive Vice-Chairman of Tata Motors

Ravi KantAuto major Tata Motors today announced that Mr Ravi Kant, the Managing Director of Tata Motors, will retire from his executive position on June 1 on reaching the retirement age of 65 years as per the company's policy.

The Board of Directors of the company has decided to retain Mr Kant on the Board as the non-executive Vice-Chairman of the company, a statement said.

The Board has also decided to elevate Mr Prakash M Telang, the current Executive Director (Commercial Vehicles), as the Managing Director – India operations, effective June 2, the statement added.


Yasho Rajya Lakshmi passes away

Mrs Yasho Rajya Lakshmi, wife of former Union Minister Karan Singh, passed away here on Sunday night after a prolonged illness, sources close to the family said.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh offering his condolences to Dr. Karan Singh on the demise of his wife, today.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh offering his condolences to Dr. Karan Singh on the demise of his wife, today.

She was 71. Her cremation at the Nigambodh Ghat was attended by a large number of people, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

President Patil was among those who mourned her death and expressed condolences to Dr Karan Singh and his family.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and several Cabinet Ministers visited Dr Karan Singh's residence to offer condolences.

Mrs Yasho Rajya Lakshmi was married to Dr Karan Singh 60 years ago when both of them were teenagers. She travelled around the world with him to places where his assignments took him, including the United States, where he was posted as the Ambassador of India.

She was a social worker in her own right having for many years been Chairperson of the Jammu & Kashmir State Social Welfare Board when Dr Karan Singh was Sadr-i-Riyasat. In this capacity she undertook several important activities in various parts of the State, including the setting up of work centres, crèches and other social welfare projects. The J&K branch of the All India Women’s Conference was set up by her in 1956, and she also developed the Ladies Club of Srinagar and Jammu, which undertook a series of social and community welfare programmes. During the 1962 and 1965 Wars she was active in relief work both in Srinagar and in Jammu.

After they moved to Delhi she founded the Delhi Society for the Welfare of the Mentally Handicapped Children. In fact the building that has been constructed for the Society is named ‘Yasho Bhavan. This Institution caters to over 300 mentally retarded children and includes a sheltered workshop, a vocational training centre, a diagnostic clinic for evolution of such disadvantaged children and several other rehabilitation facilities. It is now acknowledged as one of the finest institutions of its kind in the country.

Mrs Yasho Rajya Lakshmi was the grand-daughter of Maharaja Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, the last Rana Prime Minister of Nepal from the Rana Dynasty of the Himalayan nation.


Malvinder Singh quits as Ranbaxy chief


Ranbaxy headquarters in Gurgaon. (Inset) Malvinder Singh, who stepped down as CEO and Managing Director at Ranbaxy.

Mr Malvinder Mohan Singh, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of pharmaceutical major Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited, has stepped down from his positions with immediate effect, a statement from the company and Daiichi Sankyo Co of Japan said today.

Mr Atul Sobti, currently Chief Operating Officer of Ranbaxy, has been appointed as the new CEO and Managing Director, it said.

Dr Tsutomu Une, non-executive Director of Ranbaxy, has been elected as Chairman of the Board, the statement said, adding that the decisions were taken at the meeting of the company's Board of Directors today.

"We very much appreciate the efforts of the Singh family, which grew Ranbaxy from a small, local Indian company to the large multi-national company it has become today. We especially acknowledge the contributions of Mr. Singh. His strategic vision and passion for the pharmaceutical industry will be missed in Ranbaxy's operations. We wish him continued success as he pursues his many other business interests," Mr. Takashi Shoda, a director of Ranbaxy and the CEO of Daiichi Sankyo, which owns 63.92% of Ranbaxy's outstanding shares, said.

“I am pleased that Mr. Sobti has been appointed as CEO and Managing Director, providing continuity at the senior management level,” he added.

"It was a difficult decision to separate from Ranbaxy," said Mr. Singh, "but it was the right time for me to do so. I leave with complete confidence that the initial transition phase that followed Daiichi Sankyo's acquisition of majority shareholding interest in Ranbaxy has been completed successfully; and that the Company's excellent team of management colleagues are well-positioned to take full advantage of the Company's growth opportunities.”

Mr. Sobti has held the role of Chief Operating Officer at Ranbaxy since January 2007 and has been a senior executive at the Company from October 2005.

Dr. Une is currently a Non-Executive Director of Ranbaxy, a post he has held since December 2008, and is Senior Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Daiichi Sankyo.

Mr Malvinder Singh and his brother Shivinder Singh, grandsons of Ranbaxy founder Bhai Mohan Singh, had sold their entire 34.8 per cent stake in the pharmaceutical giant to Daiichi Sankyo in June last year for nearly Rs 10,000 crore.

Though Mr Malvinder Singh had no stake in Ranbaxy, it was decided that he would continue as CEO for the rest of his five-year term. He had defended his decision to sell by saying that it had become necessary for the company's advancement. The brothers were also apparently keen on pursuing their other business interests, which include Fortis.

A global pharma innovator, Daiichi Sankyo was established in 2005 through the merger of two leading Japanese pharmaceutical companies. A central focus of Daiichi Sankyo's research and development are thrombotic disorders, malignant neoplasm, diabetes mellitus, and autoimmune disorders. Equally important to the company are hypertension, hyperlipidemia or atherosclerosis and bacterial infections.

Ranbaxy, India's largest pharmaceutical company, is an integrated, research based, international pharmaceutical company producing a wide range of quality, affordable generic medicines. It is now a subsidiary of Daiichi Sankyo.
Image: Ranbaxy headquarters in Gurgaon. (Inset) Malvinder Singh, who stepped down today as Ranbaxy's CEO and Managing Director

Air Marshal P K Barbora new VCAS


Vice Air Chief of Staff P K BarboraAir Marshal PK Barbora, presently Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, has been appointed as the new Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS), an official press release said.

He will take charge of his new assignment on June 1, the release said.

Air Marshal NAK Browne, presently Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (DCAS) at Air Headquarters, will take over as the new Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command from June 1.

In other major appointments that also come into effect from June 1, Air Marshal NV Tyagi, presently Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO), South Western Air Command (SWAC) will replace Air Marshal Browne as the new DCAS.

Air Marshal DC Kumaria, Director General Air (Operations) at Air Headquarters, will replace Air Marshal Tyagi as the new SASO at SWAC in Gandhinagar. Air Vice Marshal AK Gogoi on promotion will take over as the new Director General Air (Operations) at Air Headquarters in his place, the release added.


Kiran Mazumdar Shaw gets Nikkei Asia Prize


Kiran Mazumdar ShawMs Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon Limited has been honoured with the Nikkei Asia Prize 2009 for Regional Growth.

The awards are given by Japan's prestigious business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) annually to individuals or institutions from Asia Pacific region in recognition of outstanding achievements that improve the quality of life in Asia.

In addition to Ms. Shaw's Regional Growth category, prizes are given in the categories of Culture and Science, Technology & Innovation.

Lauding her role as the head of India's leading biotechnology enterprise, Biocon, Ms. Shaw was nominated by the prize committee for her pioneering work in the field of biotechnology in India, by establishing a business model that believes in innovation and intellectual excellence, her achievements as a first generation entrepreneur and her status as an icon of entrepreneurship in India.

Under her stewardship, Biocon has evolved from its inception in 1978 as an industrial enzymes company to a fully integrated bio-pharmaceutical enterprise encompassing a range of products and services with a research focus on diabetes, oncology and auto-immune disease.

Established in 1996 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Nikkei Inc.'s founding, the prizes serve to promote mutual understanding among Asian nations and to help people around the world deepen their understanding of Asia. Candidates nominated for the award include scholars, business executives and journalists.

Among the prominent past winners of the Nikkei Asia Prize are Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,Professor Mohammed Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh and Infosys co-founder and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy.

The award will be formally conferred on Ms. Shaw at the ceremony for the 14th Nikkei Asia Prizes in Tokyo, Japan on May 20, a Biocon press release added.


Former Navy Chief S M Nanda passes away


Admiral S M NandaFormer Chief of Naval Staff Admiral S M Nanda died here last night after a prolonged illness, an official statement said here today.

Mr Nanda, 93, was admitted to a hospital here yesterday morning with complaints of fever and breathlessness. The end came around 11 pm last night, sources said.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Suresh Mehta expressed deep condolences at the demise of Admiral Nanda, describing him as one of the greatest stalwarts of the Indian Navy.

"In his passing, the nation has lost a hero and a visionary leader, who contributed significantly to the growth of the modern Indian Navy. He will always be remembered in the most glowing terms for his leadership of the Indian Navy during the Indo-Pak Conflict of 1971, in which the Indian Navy carved its name in golden letters in the annals of history by its sterling offensive actions.

"Admiral Nanda remained in constant touch with the Navy even in his twilight years and continued to be a source of inspiration and support to the Naval community. His demise is a great loss to the Navy and the Nation," Admiral Mehta added.

Adm. Nanda, who was honoured in 1972 with the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second highest civilian honour, was cremated at the Delhi Cantonment with full military honours.

Adm. Nanda was the Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy from February 28, 1970 until February 28, 1973.


Arvind Jadhav takes over as CMD of Air India


Arvind JadhavMr  Arvind  Jadhav, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1978 batch (Karnataka cadre)  today  assumed  charge  as  the new Chairman and Managing Director of National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL), which runs national carrier Air India.

NACIL was established in 2007 to facilitate the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, both state-owned national carriers.

Mr Jadhav   was   earlier   Principal  Secretary,  Infrastructure  Development Department, Government of Karnataka.

Born  on June 5, 1956, Mr Jadhav did his post-graduation in Geography after graduating  from  Kanpur University. He did his MBA in Strategic Management from  the University of Curtin, Perth, Australia, where he was awarded Gold Medals for being the 'Best All-round Student' and for attaining distinction in  'Strategic  Management'. Mr Jadhav also holds post-graduate diplomas in International  Trade  from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and Export Promotion from the Italian Institute of Foreign Trade, Rome.

Among  the  various  positions  held  by  him  are: Commissioner,   Karnataka  Housing  Board;  Secretary,  Energy  Department; Managing  Director,  Mysore Minerals Limited and Commissioner, Commerce and Industries  Department.

During  his  tenure  at  the  Centre, he was Joint Secretary,  Ministry  of Power, where he was responsible for reforms in the power  sector.  He  has  also  served  as  Central  Vigilance  Officer, Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL).

The government had appointed Mr Jadhav to head Air India on May 1 after the airline's chairman and managing director, Mr Raghu Menon, also an IAS officer, was removed suddenly.

The government gave no reasons for the removal of Mr Menon, also an IAS officer, but media reports suggested that it was unhappy with him over the slow pace of the process of merger and integration between Air India and Indian Airlines.


Infosys inducts K V Kamath to its Board of Directors


Information technology services major Infosys Technologies Limited has announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Mr. K. V. Kamath, non-executive Chairman of ICICI Bank, as an additional director to the Infosys Board.

The Nominations Committee of the Board had earlier recommended Mr. Kamath’s induction, the company said in a press release yesterday.

Mr. Kamath will serve as an additional director till the annual general meeting (AGM) of the company, to be held on June 20, when his appointment as a non-executive director will be recommended for the approval of the members. With his induction, the Infosys Board will have 16 directors.

Welcoming Mr. Kamath to Infosys’ Board of Directors, Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor, said, "Mr. K. V. Kamath is an outstanding corporate leader. His success in creating a grand vision for ICICI Bank and implementing that vision is a rare example of excellent leadership that is at par with the best in the corporate world internationally. His contribution to the Infosys Board will be significant. I welcome him and look forward to working with him to make this company even more successful."

Mr. Kundapur Vaman Kamath has a degree in mechanical engineering as well as one in management studies from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He started his career in 1971 at ICICI, an Indian financial institution that founded ICICI Bank and merged with it in 2002.

In 1988, he moved to the Asian Development Bank and spent several years in South-east Asia before returning to ICICI as its Managing Director and CEO in 1996. Under his leadership, the ICICI Group transformed itself into a diversified, technology-driven financial services group that has leadership positions across banking, insurance and asset management in India, and an international presence.

He retired as Managing Director and CEO last and took up his present position as non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of ICICI Bank.

Mr. Kamath was awarded the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian honours, in 2008. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the NDTV Profit Business Leadership Awards 2008; was named ‘Businessman of the Year’ by Forbes Asia and The Economic Times ‘Business Leader of the Year' in 2007; Business Standard’s ‘Banker of the Year' and CNBC-TV18's ‘Outstanding Business Leader of the Year’ in 2006; Business India's 'Businessman of the Year’ in 2005; and CNBC's 'Asian Business Leader of the Year' in 2001. He has been given an honorary Ph.D. by the Banaras Hindu University.

Mr. Kamath was the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry for the year 2008-09.


Malay Mishra concurrently accredited to Dominica


Mr Malay Mishra, the Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, has been concurrently accredited as the country's next High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of Dominica.

An official statement said the appointment would be with residence in Port of Spain.


Cornell's Kleinberg chosen for ACM-Infosys Award


Jon KleinbergThe Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) today announced that Prof. Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University had been chosen for the 2008 ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences for his contributions to improving web search techniques that allow billions of web users worldwide to find relevant and credible information on the ever-evolving Internet.

Kleinberg, 37, developed models that document how information is organized on the Web, how it spreads through large social networks, and how these networks are structured to create the small world phenomenon known as "six degrees of separation."

Kleinberg’s use of mathematical models to illuminate search and social networking tools that underpin today’s social structure has created interest in computing from people not formerly drawn to this field.

The ACM-Infosys Foundation Award, established in August 2007, recognizes personal contributions by young scientists and system developers to a contemporary innovation that exemplifies the greatest recent achievements in the computing field. Financial support for the $150,000 award is provided by an endowment from the Infosys Foundation.

"Professor Kleinberg’s achievements mark him as a founder and leader of social network analysis in computer science," said Dame Wendy Hall, President of ACM.

"With his innovative models and algorithms, he has broadened the scope of computer science to extend its influence to the burgeoning world of the Web and the social connections it enables. We are fortunate to have the benefit of his profound insights into the link between computer network structure and information that has transformed the way information is retrieved and shared online."

Kleinberg was cited for his work on the use of link analysis, a search technique that ranks the absolute number as well as the most relevant, trusted sources of pages linked to a Web search query. Using this approach, Kleinberg authored an influential algorithm that rates Web pages for their links to other pages (known as hubs) as well as the links they receive (known as authorities). This Hubs and Authorities algorithm along with Google’s PageRank algorithm appeared at a time when Web search techniques were based on keyword indexing. Together, this work revealed a basic relationship between network structure and information that fundamentally changed the direction of research and commercial activity on the Web.

Now in its second year, the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award recognizes young researchers who are currently making sizeable contributions to their fields and furthering computer science innovation. The goal is to identify scientifically sound breakthrough research with potentially broad implications, and encourage the recipients to further their research.

"We are especially proud to honor Jon Kleinberg whose research in the relationship between networks and data has led to a revolution in the way all of us seek, retrieve and share information around the globe," S. Gopalakrishnan, CEO and Managing Director, Infosys Technologies, said.

According to a press release, the small-world experiment of social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s inspired Kleinberg to think about how social networks might be structured to enable people to find each other. Milgram’s groundbreaking experiments had examined the average path length for social networks of people in the U.S., suggesting a small-world phenomenon in human society that is often associated with the phrase "six degrees of separation."

Kleinberg developed a model to predict an optimal way in which social connections could be distributed for the network to guide messages between distant pairs of people. This model was validated by subsequent research on large social-networking sites, revealing how virtual connections tend to link people who are close in geographic and other dimensions. Kleinberg’s work has had a direct effect on the design of peer-to-peer systems and on Web crawling techniques that methodically browse the Web and index downloaded pages to provide faster searches.

As the Web grew, Kleinberg observed that it was developing a "time axis" – a dimension that reflected both a vast virtual library as well as a rapidly evolving repository of information. To determine how different topics and ideas evolve, Kleinberg created search techniques that track words and phrases that "burst" or jump in frequency over time, revealing when different topics are active. His current research on meme-tracking and the news cycle employs a version of this approach, using words and phrases as quotes appearing in news articles and blog posts. This process automated efforts to spread ideas through word of mouth. Among its varied impacts is the ability to know how different stories compete for news coverage each day, and how certain stories persist while others fade quickly.

Kleinberg, dubbed the "Rebel King" by students at Cornell who noted that it was an anagram of his last name, has become a leader in both established areas of computer science and in the emerging areas of networks and information science. His undergraduate course at Cornell on Networks, co-taught with economist David Easley, illuminates the central role of computational ideas in modern society. Topics include how opinions, fads, and political movements spread through society; the robustness and fragility of food webs and financial markets; and the technology, economics, and politics of Web information and online communities.

A highly successful class that is being adopted by other institutions in the U.S. and abroad, the Networks course drew 350 students representing 30 disciplines this semester, and has helped to redefine educational programs in the Information Sciences worldwide. A book based on this course is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2010 by Cambridge University Press. Kleinberg is also the co-author with Eva Tardos of Algorithm Design, which is based on an undergraduate course he teaches. At both the graduate and undergraduate levels, he has also built a reputation as an engaging teacher with a creative ability to explain complex ideas in a clear and lucid manner.

In 2005, Kleinberg was named a MacArthur Fellow. He was awarded the Nevanlinna Mathematics Prize in 2006, and in 2008, he was named one of the "20 best brains under 40" by Discover Magazine. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Kleinberg received an A.B. in computer science and mathematics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since 1996, he has been a professor of computer science at Cornell as well as a visiting scientist at IBM’s Almaden Research Center.

ACM will present the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award at the annual ACM Awards Banquet on June 27, 2008, in San Diego, California.

ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges.

Established in 1996, the Infosys Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Infosys Technologies Ltd. and has the sole objective of fulfilling the social responsibility of the company by creating opportunities and working toward a more equitable society.


Actor Feroz Khan passes away


Well-known Bollywood producer, director and actor Feroz Khan died here late last night after a year-long battle with cancer, sources said.

He was 69. He is survived by his actor son Fardeen Khan and daughter Laila. The funeral was planned for later today in Bangalore, the sources said.

The actor had been diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago and was being treated in a Mumbai hospital.

Feroz Khan produced, directed and acted in several successful Hindi movies such as Dharmatma, Qurbani and Jaanbaaz. He was recently seen in the hit film Welcome which also starred Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar and Nana Patekar.

He made his Hindi film debut in Didi (1960) and got noticed with Oonche Log, in which his heroine was the Malayalam actress K R Vijaya.

Feroz Khan was born on September 25, 1939, in Bangalore to Sadiq Ali Khan Tanoli, who was a Pathan and Fatima, who hailed from Iran.

Of his three brothers, Sanjay Khan is a well-known actor in his own right, while the other two, Sameer Khan and Akbar Khan, have also dabbled in films.

In his early years in Bollywood, Feroz Khan ended up playing second lead in many movies and acting in low-budget thrillers opposite starlets. After Oonche Log won his some attention, he went on to do Aarzoo. He won a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor in Aadmi aur Insan in 1969. In the early 70s, he appeared in a film, Mela, with his brother Sanjay.

In 2000, Filmfare gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award. He got the Zee Cine Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008.

In 1975, he turned producer with Dharmatma, the first Indian film to be shot in Afghanistan. He went on to make Qurbani in 1980, which was the biggest hit of his career.

Some of the other films directed by him included Jaanbaaz, Dayavan and Yalghaar. With Prem Aggan, he launched his son Fardeen's career in 1998.

He had some time ago announced his plans to remake Qurbani.


Raghupathy takes over as Chairman of SSC


Mr N K Raghupathy, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) has taken over as Chairman of the Staff Selection Commission.

Before taking over his new assignment, he was the Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Mr Raghupathy has also held various senior positions in the Central Government and in the Government of West Bengal, an official press release said.

The Staff Selection Commission was set up in 1975 and was initially known as the Subordinate Services Commission. It makes recruitment to Group B (Non-Gazetted) and non-technical Group C non-gazetted posts in the Ministries, Departments, attached and subordinate offices of the government of India, as well as the offices of the Comptroller and Auditor General and its Accountant-General offices, the Election Commission and the Central Vigilance Commission.


Centenarian Maj Gen (Retd) U C Dubey passes away


Major General U C Dubey (Retired), a centenarian, passed away here today of old age.

Born at Sujanpur in Gurdaspur district of Punjab on March 26, 1909, Maj Gen Dubey was amongst the first batch to join the Rashtriya Indian Military College in 1922 and passed out in 1928. He was amongst the three cadets selected for commissioned officers training at Royal Military College ,Sandhurst (UK).

Taking over the Command of 2nd Dogra , he led the battalion into the Kashmir valley to successfully fight against the Pakistani marauders in November, 1947. For the gallantry displayed by the brave Dogras, the unit earned Battle Honour ‘Uri” and theatre honour ‘J&K’.

After relinquishing the command, the Gen Officer commanded 5 Infantry Brigade during which he organized a spectacular military parade at Ram Lila grounds, Delhi to raise the morale of the civil population. The parade was a precursor of the Republic Day parade of later years and was inspected by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru.

Maj Gen Dubey was the General Officer Commanding of Rajasthan Area, Bombay Area, 25 Inf Div in J&K , Delhi Area and UP Area Bareilly successively. The General has had a ring side view of momentous and historical events, both pre and post independence.

He had celebrated his 100th birthday at the Infantry Hostel on March 28.


Om Prakash concurrently accredited as Ambassador to Estonia


Mr Om Prakash, India's Ambassador to Finland, has been concurrently accredited as the country's next Ambassador to Estonia, the Ministry of External Affairs said today.

The appointment will be with residence in Helsinki, an official statement added.


Hardeep Singh Puri to be Ambassador to UN


Mr Hardeep Singh Puri, currently Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs, has been appointed as India's next Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

Mr Puri, 57, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1974 batch, who will succeed Mr Nirupam Sen, is expected to take up his assignment shortly, a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Mr Sen, whose extended term ended on March 31, has been appointed as a Special Senior Adviser to the UN General Assembly.

Mr Puri, who is regarded as an expert on World Trade Organisation (WTO) issues, long years of experience in multilateral institutions. He was till some time ago India's ambassador to Brazil, where he had an important role in the shaping of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit. Before that he had served as India's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and as the Deputy High Commissioner in London.



Ameet Mehta wins American Center logo contest

Ameet Mehta, a young Mumbai-based designer, has won a nationwide contest to design the American Center's new logo.

His shooting star, which will be the new face of the American Center in India, was chosen from more than 1300 entries. It will now become the nationwide brand of the American Centers throughout India, a United States Embassy press release said.
The winning entry in the American Center logo design contest, designed by Ameet Mehta.
The winning entry in the American Center logo design contest, designed by Ameet Mehta.

Mehta was awarded a Motorola phone and a ten-day study tour to the US to meet with top design schools and professionals.

Mehta, a 2004 graduate of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), is a principal designer at Pineapple Consulting in Mumbai.

Although he primarily designs bags, footwear, and leather articles, he is also an expert in branding. Says Mehta,"I emphasized bringing dynamism and visual integration of the two forces -- India and America -- fusing together to make one cohesive unit! I'd consider myself extremely fortunate if this logo can really invoke a new spirit to the glorious Indo-U.S. relationship!"

First runner-up Inderjit Singh, a Delhi resident, also works in the field of graphic design as director of creative services at Shapes & Forms. Singh’s eagle icon with wings shaded in the colors of the U.S.and Indian flags drew praise from judges.

Second runner-up Michelle Shieh Chiao Shieh was thrilled to be among the top finishers. Shieh, from Chennai, has a Masters in Communication from M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women and is a junior art director with JWT. Her logo connected the Indian chakra with a star to symbolize the partnership of the world’s great democracies.


Indu Liberhan takes over as Secretary, Defence Finance


Ms Indu Liberhan, till recently an Additional Controller General of Defence Accounts in the Ministry of Defence, has taken over as Secretary (Defence Finance), an official statement said here today.

Ms Liberhan, 58, is an officer of the 1972 batch of the Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS).

Ms Liberhan has an MA and an M.Phil. degrees. She has served in the past as Principal Controller of Defence Accounts and Principal Adviser to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). She has also worked in the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Department of Power and the Border Security Force in various capacities, the statement added.


Sindushree Khullar is new Sports Secretary


Ms Sindushree Khullar, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) of the 1975 batch (Union Territory cadre), has been appointed as the new Secretary of the Department of Sports in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Ms Khullar is at present the Secretary, Department of Youth Affairs in the same ministry.

An official press release said the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had also approved the appointment of Ms Jayati Chandra, also of the 1975 batch of the IAS (Uttar Pradesh cadre), presently Principal Adviser in the Planning Commission, as the new Secretary of the Department of Youth Affairs.


Marshal of IAF Arjan Singh turns 90

The Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, India's only living five-star general, turned 90 today.

His family marked the event with private celebrations, Air Force sources told NetIndian.
Air Marshal Arjan Singh at the event yesterday marking his 90th birthday.
Air Marshal Arjan Singh at the event yesterday marking his 90th birthday.

The Indian armed forces have had only three officers who have reached the rank of Marshal, the highest honorary rank possible.

The first was Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who is considered as the architect of the swift military operation that saw the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. He died last year at the age of 94.

The second was Field Marshal K M Cariappa, the first Commander-in-Chief of the army, who died in 1993, also at the age of 94.

Arjan Singh was Chief of the Air Staff from 1964 to 1969 and the first to be promoted to the rank of Air Chief Marshal in December, 1965.

He was born on April 15, 1919 at Lyallpur. He was educated at Montgomery and later at Government College, Lahore.
Air Marshal Arjan Singh at the event yesterday marking his 90th birthday.
Air Marshal Arjan Singh at the event yesterday marking his 90th birthday.

In 1938, he was selected for Pilot’s training at Cranwell, UK and was commissioned as a pilot in the Royal Indian Air Force in December 1939. He joined No. 1 Squadron in September 1943. He was awarded the ‘Distinguished Flying Cross’ in 1944, for his outstanding leadership in the Burma Campaign during World War II. At that point in time, the country was still under the British rule and for an Indian to be awarded such a high honour was indeed a matter of immense pride for the nation.

He was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander in 1945 and attended the first course at Royal Staff College, Bracknell. After partition, as a Group Captain, he commanded Air Force Station Ambala. In 1949, as an Air Commodore, he was appointed as the Air Officer Commanding Operational Command and in 1952, he was appointed the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Operational Command. Subsequently, he held key appointments such as Deputy Chief of Air Staff and Vice-Chief of Air Staff. During 1960, he was specially selected for the Imperial Defence College, UK (later named as the Royal College of Defence Studies).

In recognition of his services of an extremely high order, and for his leadership during the 1965 War against Pakistan, Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest national award. He retired from the Air Force in July 1969. During his tenure as the Chief of Air Staff, he brought about significant changes in the structure and functioning of the Air Force, to charter it towards a path of strong professional growth.

After retirement, he served as the Indian Ambassador to Switzerland from 1971-74 and then as High Commissioner to Kenya from 1974-77. Later, he was appointed as Member of the Minorities Commission and the Lt Governor of Delhi State in 1989.

Many officers and airmen, who served with him, still fondly remember the Marshal as a hands-on, non-formal, incisive and humane person, who flew himself to visit stations and units in his Canberra.

An avid aviator all his serving years, he flew all the types of aircraft in the IAF during his time, from its inception till the jets and supersonic types.


Sainath, Thapar among winners of Goenka Awards in journalism

Magsaysay award winner P Sainath, who writes extensively about rural India and the poor, and Karan Thapar, who is in the news constantly with his combative television interviews with politicians and other newsmakers, won the top honours at the 3rd Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards here last night.
P. Sainath being given the award by Vivek Goenka.
P. Sainath being given the award by Vivek Goenka.

Sainath, who is the Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, was chosen the Journalist of the Year 200708 for print media and Thapar for broadcast media.

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan gave away the awards at a function here yesterday evening.

The awards were decided by a jury that included former Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, director Bakul Dholakia, HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh, jurist Fali S Nariman, industrialist Keshub Mahindra, agricultural scientist M S Swaminathan, former Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra, Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy, marketing strategist Rama Bijapurkar, Hindustan Times chairperson Shobhana Bhartia, film-maker Shyam Benegal and former ONGC Chairman Subir Raha.
Karan Thapar being awarded at the awards function.
Karan Thapar being awarded at the awards function.

The following is a full list of the awardees:

• Journalist of the Year, Print: P. Sainath

• Journalist of the Year, Broadcast: Karan Thapar

• Prakash Kardaley Memorial Award For Civic Journalism, Print: Sayli Udas Mankikar,The Hindustan Times

• Uncovering India Invisible, Broadcast: Mridu Bhandari, CNN-IBN

• Uncovering India Invisible, Print: Neelesh Misra & Nagendar Sharma, The Hindustan Times

• Excellence In Journalism Award, Hindi, Broadcast: Umashankar Singh, NDTV

• Excellence In Journalism Award, Hindi, Print: Punya Prasun Bajpai, Pratham Pravakta

• Film and Television Journalism, Broadcast: Vaishali Sood, CNN-IBN

• Film and Television Journalism, Print: Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka

• Reporting On HIV/AIDS, English, Print: Dnyanesh V. Jathar, The Week

• Reporting On HIV/AIDS, Marathi, Print: Savita Vikram Harkare, Lokmat

• Books (Non-Fiction), Print: Ramchandra Guha

• Regional Languages, Broadcast: M.S. Raghavender & Shital Morjaria, TV9

• Regional Languages, Print: P.K. Prakash, Madhyamam Daily

• Sports Journalism, Broadcast: Rudraneil Sengupta, CNN-IBN

• Sports Journalism, Print: Sandeep Dwivedi, The Indian Express

• Reporting from J&K and the North-East, Broadcast: V.K. Shashi Kumar & Nidhi Razdan, CNN-IBN & NDTV

• Reporting from J&K and the North-East, Print: Muzamil Jaleel, The Indian Express

• Environmental Reporting, Broadcast: Swati Thiyagarajan, NDTV

• Environmental Reporting, Print: Sonu Jain, The Indian Express

• Business And Economic Journalism, Broadcast: Abhishek Upadhyay, IBN7

• Business And Economic Journalism, Print: P. Vaidyanathan Iyer, Business World

• Foreign Correspondent Covering India, Print: Joseph Johnson, Financial Times

• Political Reporting, Broadcast: Sreenivasan Jain, NDTV

• Political Reporting, Print: Subrata Nagchoudhury & Ravik Bhattacharya, The Indian Express

Mr Justice Balakrishnan urged the media to guard against "intrusive news gathering" and abstain from "undue sensationalism." He said care must be taken to ensure the media remains accurate and responsible.

Viveck Goenka, Chairman of the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Foundation that administers the awards, said: "Acknowledging excellence in journalism is the best way to nurture it. Some of the best work in journalism is about shining light in dark corners...we hope that the awards magnify that light for all of us to see."

"Excellence in journalism, whatever the technology, whatever the trend, is all about telling us what we don’t know, making us question what we think we know. With honesty. The winners reaffirm our faith in journalism as an act of character," he said.

While accepting his award, Sainath said he was grateful recognised "a kind of journalism normally given the short shrift". Thapar gave credit to his entire team. "Though I might be the face, questions are put into my mouth by them."

The Indian Express group also presented two awards for its staff members under 30, instituted in the name of journalists who died on duty. The Sanjiv Sinha Memorial Award for Excellence in Reporting went to Smita Nair for her exclusive reports on the Malegaon blast investigation. Nair dedicated the award to Hemant Karkare, the ATS chief who led the investigation, and was later killed in the Mumbai terror attack. Sinha, an Express Special Correspondent, was killed along with Madhavrao Scindia in a plane crash in 2001.

The Priya Chandrashekhar Memorial Award for Excellence in Editing was awarded to Amrita Dutta. Priya, a copy editor, died in a car crash while on an assignment in Jammu in 1997.

Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said the awards would be bigger in terms of scale and prize money next year. He said three more categories would be added: Comment and Interpretative Writing (Print), and Investigative Reporting and Spot Reporting (Print and Broadcast).


B N Kumar inducted into "PR Hall of Fame"

Mr B N Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Concept Public Relations, Mumbai, was inducted by the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) into its prestigious "Hall of Fame" at its third Global Meet here recently.
Concept PR CEO, B N Kumar, being inducted into PR Hall of fame
Concept PR CEO, B N Kumar, being inducted into PR Hall of fame

PRCI said in its announcement that Kumar, known as BNK to his friends, started out as a media professional more than three decades ago when he joined news agency United News of India (UNI) as a reporter.

Later, he was part of the team that set up Ogilvy & Mather PR, now Ogilvy PR, in 1986. He also had a stint with Reliance Infocomm before joining Concept PR at its headquarters in Mumbai in 2006.

Mr. Ad De Visscher, India Head of Shell Technology and Mr.M.B Jayaram, Chairman PRCI, and Mr. Vaughn Richtor, CEO & MD ING Vysya Bank, Mr. Mahesh Joshi Director, Doordarshan and noted Kannada film personality Ms Parvatamma Rajkumar, were amongst those who felicitated Kumar. .

Concept PR is a wholly owned subsidiary of Concept Communication Limited, an integrated financial communication agency. Headquartered in Mumbai, the agency has offices in six other cities within India - New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad -- and an office in Dubai. It is aligned to International Public Relations Network (IPREX), a body formed of PR companies to provide members with an international platform across 48 countries.

Concept PR, with a team of over 150 professionals, has been acknowledged as one of the most effective agencies in the country, being felicitated with the ‘PR Agency of the Year, 2007’ by PRCI.


President condoles passing away of Shakti Samanta


President Pratibha Patil today condoled the passing away of renowned film-maker Shakti Samanta.

"A renowned filmmaker, producer and director, Shri Shakti Samanta shall always be remembered for his memorable superhits such as 'Howrah Bridge', 'Aradhana', 'Anuraag', 'Amanush', 'Kati Patang' and 'Amar Prem'," Ms Patil said in a condolence message to Samanta's wife Nilima.

"His singular contribution to Indian cinema was recognized through a number of awards. In his passing away, the nation has lost a creative filmmaker," she added.

Samanta, 83, had suffered a stroke about two weeks ago and finally passed away on Thursday in Mumbai.

His first directorial venture was "Bahu" in 1955 and three years later he turned a produce with "Howrah Bridge". In all, he produced 45-odd films, three of which---Aradhana, Anuraag and Amanush---got him Filmfare awards.

Some of his big hits included "Kashmir ki Kali" in which Sharmila Tagore made her Bollywood debut. She went on to star in several of his later films, including "An Evening in Paris" and "Aradhana".


PM pays tributes to Umrao Singh


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today condoled the passing away of former Punjab Minister and well-known sports adminstrator Umrao Singh in Jalandhar this morning.

"It is with profound grief that I learnt of the sad demise of your husband Sardar Umrao Singh. Sardar Umrao Singh was a dear friend and a valued colleague. His passing away is a great personal loss for me. He will always be remembered for his fine human qualities and his commitment to the cause of uplift of the poor and the underprivileged," he said in a message to Mr Umrao Singh's wife.

Dr Singh recalled that Mr Umrao Singh had served both the Congress party and the country with dedication and commitment.

"He distinguished himself as Member of the Legislative Assembly of Punjab, Minister in the Punjab Government and as Member of Parliament. Sardar Umrao Singh was also an avid sports lover who was associated with many sports bodies. He made an important contribution to the organisation of the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi.

"Sardar Umrao Singh's passing away has left behind a void which will be very difficult to fill," he added.

Mr Umrao Singh, who was president of the Athletics Federation of India, died this morning at a private hospital in Jalandhar after a prolonged illness. He was 85 and is survived by his wife and three daughters.

He had served as a minister in Punjab under Giani Zail Singh, Darbara Singh and Beant Singh. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in a bye-election in 1994 but lost in 1998 to Mr Inder Kumar Gujral.

In the area of sports adminstration, Mr Umrao Singh had served as general secretary of the Indian Olympic Association and as president of the Punjab Olympic Association. But he will be remembered most for his role in organising the ninth Asian Games in Delhi in 1982, for which he was later honoured by the government with the Padma Bhushan.


Kalam to get Hoover Medal


Former President A P J Abdul Kalam will be honoured here later this month with the prestigious 2008 Hoover Medal, given by five prominent American engineering organisations, it was announced here today.

Established in 1929, the medal commemorates the civic and humanitarian achievements of engineers. It is conferred upon an engineer whose professional achievements and personal endeavors have advanced the well-being of humankind.

The medal is  administered by a board representing five engineering organizations: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

A press release issued by the Hoover Board said Dr Kalam was being recognised for making state-of-the-art healthcare available to the common man at affordable prices, bringing quality medical care to rural areas by establishing a link between doctors and technocrats, using spin-offs of defence technology to create state-of-the-art medical equipment, and launching telemedicine projects connecting remote rural-based hospitals to a super-specialty hospital.

"A preeminent scientist, a gifted engineer, and a true visionary, he is also a humble humanitarian in every sense of the word," it said.

The statement said upliftment of the the rural population of India had always been of prime concern to Dr. Kalam.  Many of the projects that Dr. Kalam launched during his career have been ingeniously designed to bring some of the advantages of the modern world to the remote and economically deprived segments of the Indian population at an affordable price.

A prime example is the key role Dr. Kalam played in the creation of "telemedicine," a system that helps connect rural hospitals with super-specialty medical centres in India and abroad. The success of this project proved that it is indeed possible to bring cutting edge medical care to even the most isolated rural areas, it said.

The statement said yet another of Dr. Kalam's spectacular achievements has been the establishment of the Society of Biomedical Technology (SBMT) in 1993.  This initiative that provided diverse opportunities to several million people was designed to combine Indian defence technology with local medical expertise to produce state-of-the-art medical  equipment and low cost consumables that were previously being imported at  steep rates.  Some of SBMT's successful products include a coronary stent christened Kalam-Raju stent, an ophthalmic laser and medical calipers.

The statement also referred to another of Dr. Kalam's ambitious projects, PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), a public-private enterprise that works by improving four types  of "connectivities"; physical connectivity with better roads, electronic  connectivity with reliable communication, knowledge connectivity with better education and finally all integrated to create economic connectivity and  growth.  Four PURA units, composed of committed teams are already in  progress and many more are in the process of development.

It noted that as a part of his plan to promote national development by inspiring young minds, Dr. Kalam has been tirelessly traveling across the country and speaking to students all over India. It also referred to the several inspiring books authored by him, including "Wings of Fire".

The Hoover Medal is named after Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st President of the United States (1929-33). Besides his political career, Hoover was a professional mining engineer. As Secretary of Commerce under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he had promoted government intervention under the rubric "economic modernisation."

The inspiration to establish the medal was supplied by the devotion and dedication of Hoover and a group of engineering associates who  sought to solve the problems of countries from the beginning of World War I to their reestablishment following the war.
The first medal was presented to President Hoover in 1930.  Other recipients include President Dwight David Eisenhower, President James Earl Carter, and industrialists David Packard and Stephen Bechtel.

Prof. P. Somasundaran of Columbia University, Vice Chair of the Hoover Medal Board reflected on the magnanimity in Dr. Kalam, by noting that "when you meet him in person, he makes you feel as if you are the catalyst of great changes, and not he. As a professor and a scientist, I truly believe that Dr. Kalam has been instrumental in using science and engineering for  vital humanitarian needs."

The award ceremony will be presented at Columbia University's dome shaped Low Rotunda on April 28, the statement added.


Dinesh Kumar Jain to be concurrently envoy to Belize

Mr Dinesh Kumar Jain, currently India's Ambassador to Mexico, has been concurrently accredited as the country's next High Commissioner of India to Belize with residence in Mexico City.

An official statement said Mr Jain was expected to take up his assignment shortly.


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