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G N Venkataraman elected President of ICWAI

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G N Venkataraman
G N Venkataraman
Mr G N Venkataraman was today elected as the new President of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI).

In elections held in Kolkata, Mr B M Sharma was chosen as the new Vice-President of premier professional management accounting institute.

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Deepak Vohra is next High Commissioner to New Zealand

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Mr Deepak Vohra, currently India's Ambassador to Sudan, has been appointed as the country's next High Commissioner to New Zealand.

An announcement to this effect by the Ministry of External Affairs said Mr Vohra was expected to take up his assignment shortly.

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Ashok Kumar to be next High Commissioner to Cyprus

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Mr Ashok Kumar, currently Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs here, has been appointed as India's High Commissioner to Cyprus.

An announcement in this regard by the Ministry of External Affairs said he was expected to take up his assignment shortly.

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Vishvanathan takes over as MD & CEO of SBI Caps

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S Vishvanathan
S Vishvanathan
Mr S Vishvanathan has assumed charge as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of SBI Capital Markets Ltd, the investment bank subsidiary of the State Bank of India (SBI).

A press release issued by SBI Capital Markets said Mr Vishvanathan had overall charge of the company's business operations, strategy, and marketing, including activities supported by the company's principal global offices.

Prior to this assignment, Mr Vishvanathan was the Chief General Manager of SBI's North-Eastern operations.

He had joined the SBI as a probationary officer way back in 1976 and has served the bank in important assignments, including a stint with its New York branch.

According to the release, he has extensive experience of treasury and global markets, both in the domestic as well as international markets, and has been associated with SBI's foray into structured products and derivatives in his capacity as General Manager (Global Markets).

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Shekhar Agarwal appointed Addl. Secretary in Minstry of Defence

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Mr Shekhar Agarwal has been appointed as Additional Secretary in the Department of Ex-Servicemen's Welfare in the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Agarwal, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) of the 1977 batch (Uttar Pradesh cadre), was earlier working as the Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser (Acquisition) in the Ministry of Defence, an official statement added.

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Pradeep Kumar to be next Defence Secretary

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The new Defence Secretary, Pradeep Kumar
The new Defence Secretary, Pradeep Kumar
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has approved the appointment of Mr Pradeep Kumar, currently Secretary, Department of Defence Production, as the next Defence Secretary.

Mr Kumar is an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) of the 1972 batch (Haryana cadre).

He will succeed Mr Vijay Singh (IAS, MP:70), who is due to superannuate on July 31, an official statement said.

Mr Kumar, who will turn 60 in September this year, will have a tenure of two years from the date of taking over the charge of the post, the statement said. This is in keeping with a decision taken by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in its previous tenure about ensuring a two-year tenure for officials in key positions.

Mr Kumar is a B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi and has done his Masters in Economic and Social Sciences from the University of Wales, United Kingdom.

Mr Raj Kumar Singh, an IAS officer of the 1975 batch (Bihar cadre), presently serving in the Bihar government, has been appointed to succeed Mr Kumar as Secretary, Department of Defence Production.

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Pratip Kar joins Globsyn Business School governing council

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Pratip Kar
Pratip Kar
The Globsyn Business School today announced the appointment of former Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Executive Director Pratip Kar as a member of its governing council.

Mr Kar will chair the Globsyn Centre for Corporate Governance & Ethics and also be the Adviser, Asian Institute of Family Business, a new initiative of Globsyn, a press release from the school said.

Mr Kar had left SEBI in 2006 after nearly 14 years as its Executive Director. He has since been associated with IFC Global Corporate Governance Forum and the World Bank as a consultant. He has also served as Dean of Finance and Corporate Governance at the Tata Management Training Centre in Pune.

Speaking on the appointment, Mr. Bikram Dasgupta, Chairman, Globsyn Group, said, "I feel delighted to welcome Mr. Pratip Kar in the Globsyn Business School family. The students will surely benefit from his rich experience and knowledge. His contribution will be instrumental in achieving our goal of providing intellectual discourse along with corporate experience."

Mr. Pratip Kar said, "I have a special interest in the field of academics as I get to work with young and bright minds of the country. At the time when economy is doing so well and Indian professionals are heading prominent organizations across the world I feel happy to be associated with an Institute like Globsyn Business School which always believes in providing the best of talents to match business needs so that they can leap in the future with confidence".

The Globsyn Business School, established in 2002, has two campuses in Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

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Arup Gupta to join Birlasoft as CEO

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Birlasoft (India) Ltd, the IT services arm of the $ 1.7-billion C K Birla Group, has announced the appointment of Mr. Arup Gupta as the Chief Executive Officer of the company.

He will take over his new assignment on August 1, 2009, the company said in a press release.

Mr. Gupta has more than 30 years of experience in the industry. He has most recently been the President & Executive Director of Polaris. Before that, he had been with Tata Consultancy Services since 1979 and was President, North America, in his last assignment there.

"Birlasoft is a dynamic organization. I am confident that Arup, with his experience and commitment, will channelize this energy in the right manner and enable Birlasoft to scale new heights," the company's chairman, Ms. Amita Birla, said.

Mr. Gupta said, "These are challenging times for global business, particularly the IT industry. However, I am sure that given its established intellectual capital, proven delivery capability, customer centricity and top-rung talent, Birlasoft will be able to reach new levels of growth."

Mr. Gupta replaces Mr. J. Ramachandran, who has decided to move on for personal reasons. "Ram has been instrumental in helping steer Birlasoft through the difficult times of the global recession and in streamlining operations. We wish him the very best for the future," Ms. Birla added.

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Wipro appoints Martha Bejar as President - Global Sales and Operations

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Wipro Technologies, the global IT services business of Wipro Limited, has announced the appointment of Martha Bejar as President, Global Sales and Operations.

"In her role as global head of sales and operations, Martha will focus on the global ‘Go to Market’ strategy, drive revenue growth and leverage on Wipro’s strength in innovation, technology, process insight and globalization to further enhance the company’s position as a business transformation catalyst," a Wipro press release said.

Prior to this, Ms Bejar has served as Corporate Vice President for the Communications Sector at Microsoft Corp.and as President of Nortel's Caribbean and Latin America regions.

"We are excited to have Martha on board, and value the global experience and diversity of perspective that she adds to our management team. This coupled with the changes we made last year will substantially strengthen our geo teams and enable us to build even closer client relationships," said Mr Suresh Vaswani, Jt. CEO – IT Business, and Member of the Board, Wipro Ltd.

Commenting on her new role, Ms Bejar said, "I am excited about this opportunity to be part of Wipro, a phenomenal growth organization. Wipro’s ability to provide services that transform clients’ business is clearly a result of the huge talent and capabilities that lie within, and I look forward to being a part of the Wipro team. My focus areas will be to strengthen our relationships with our alliance partners and our customers."

Ms Bejar holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from the University of Miami and an MBA from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She also is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University Business School, the release added.

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Artist Tyeb Mehta passes away

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Former President A P J Abdul Kalam presenting the Padma Bhushan to Tyeb Mehta in 2007.
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam presenting the Padma Bhushan to Tyeb Mehta in 2007.
Well-known artist Tyeb Mehta, whose paintings sold at record prices for Indian works at auctions at home and abroad, passed away here today.

The 84-year-old artist was said to have been suffering from a heart ailment. He his survived by his wife Sakhina, a son and a daughter.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was amongst those who expressed grief over the demise of Mehta. "I am deeply grieved to learn of the sad demise of the renowned painter Mr Tyeb Mehta," he said in his condolence message.

"A celebrated artist, Mr Mehta occupied a very prominent place in the progressive art movement of our country. His creative paintings won him wide acclaim and recognition at the international level. He was a source of inspiration to many artists and his memory and legacy will continue to endure. Mr Mehta's unfortunate passing away is a major loss to the art world," he said.

"On this sad occasion, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the members of his bereaved family and to his wide circle of friends, admirers and followers. I pray for peace of the departed soul," the Prime Minister added.

Born in 1925 at Kapadvanj in Gujarat, Mehta studied at the J. J. School of Art, Bombay between 1947 and 1952.

In 1959 he left for Europe and lived and painted in London for several years, returning to India in 1965.

During this period, he held exhibitions of his paintings in London and at Oxford. From his first solo exhibition in 1959, Mehta remained engaged in creating some personal images that reflected the trauma of the partition in the sub-continent that he witnessed in 1947. Those who knew him said that the events of that period changed the course of his life and he never quite came out of them.

In the years that followed, Mehta produced many works, exhibited in all the major cities and at all the major shows of the world and won several awards.

His "Celebrations" was sold for $ 317,500 at Christie's in 2002, the highest price at which an Indian painting had been sold till then. In May, 2005, his "Kali" sold for Rs one crore at Indian online auction house Saffronart. A painting based on the tale of Mahishasura sold for $ 1.58 million. In December, 2005, Ranjit Malkani, the chairman of Kuoni Travel, bought his painting "Gesture" for Rs 3.1 crore, making it the highest price ever paid by an Indian for a work of Indian contemporary art at an auction in India.

Mehta won the Filmfare Critics Award for his film "Koodal" in 1971. He was awarded the J. D. Rockfeller III Fellowship to live and work in USA in 1968 and was also invited to the Vishva-Bharati, Santiniketan as an Artist-in-Residence in 1984-86. In 1988, he was honoured by Madhya Pradesh Government with Kalidas Samman. In 2004, Maharashtra Government honoured him with ‘Manpatra’. The Union Government honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 2007.

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Lt Gen Joshi, first Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, passes away

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Lt Gen (Retd.) P S Joshi, who served as the first Chief of Integrated Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces, passed away after a prolonged illness at the Apollo Hospital in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, yesterday. He was 66.

Lt Gen Joshi had a Bachelor's degree in Russian Language from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, an M.Sc. degree from Madras University and a diploma in Security Management from National Defence University, Washington D.C. He was a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command Course at the College of Combat and the United States Army War College.

He was commissioned in December, 1962, in the First Battalion of the Eight Gorkha Rifles. In his early career, he served in Ladakh, actively participated in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War and served in Sikkim. He was wounded in a mine clearing operation in 1967 during his tenure at Sikkim.

Lt Gen Joshi held various important instructional and staff appointments including those of a Directing Staff (DS) at the Defence Service Staff College (DSSC), Wellington in Tamil Nadu and Higher Command Wing, College of Combat, Mhow in Madhya Pradesh. His command experience included command of a Mechanised Infantry Battalion, an Armoured Brigade in the Semi Desert Sector, an Armoured Division in Central India and a Corps in the Desert Sector.

In addition, he also held the appointment of Additional Director General, Mechanised Forces at the Army Headquarters, was Commandant of the College of Combat, Mhow (MP) and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Command, a Defence Ministry press release added.

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R D Goyal takes over as Director (Projects) in GAIL

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R D Goyal
R D Goyal
Mr R D Goyal has taken over as Director (Projects) in GAIL (India) Limited, succeeding Mr Santosh Kumar who superannuated on June 30.

Prior to his new assignment, Mr Goyal was Executive Director (Projects) and had spearheaded the task of concurrent implementation of some of the company's major cross-country gas pipeline projects such as Dahej - Vijaipur, Vijaipur - Dadri, Dadri – Bawana - Nangal, Chainsa – Jhajjar - Hissar Pipelines stretching over 2,200 km. and installation of four compressor stations at Jhabua, Vijaipur, Kailaras and Chainsa.

Mr Goyal has a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from MITS, Gwalior, and a Master in Production Engineering from the University of Roorkee, now an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

He started his career as a Graduate Apprentice with National Fertilizers Ltd. and , during his stint with the company, was involved in the commissioning of the first gas-based fertilizer plant on the Hazira - Vijaipur - Jagdishpur Pipeline at NFL, Vijaipur.

After joining GAIL in 1990, Mr Goyal has held several key positions and some of the initial assignments included construction and commissioning of the twin LPG extraction plants at Vijaipur and Jamnagar – Loni cross country LPG Pipeline. After a brief stint as the Head of Zonal Marketing Office at Jaipur, he was entrusted with the charge of running the HVJ- GREP pipeline networks in addition to the LPG plants at Vijaipur. The Dahej- Vijaipur pipeline (DVPL) to evacuate LNG from Dahej was completed during the period.

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Takahara is non-executive director of Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra)

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Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Limited (TTML) has announced the appointment of Mr Koichi Takahara as a non-executive director of the company with immediate effect.

Mr Takahara has been the chairman of Japan's Docomo inter-Touch and the executive director and head of business development team at the global business department of NTT Docomo.

He also has significant experience in handling global alliance activities with cellular operators in the Asian region, development of mobile multimedia services, and has contributed to Docomo’s 3G (FOMA) launch, fix-mobile conversion (FMC) service and public wi-fi internet access service, a press release from TTML said.

Mr Takahara has completed his masters in business administration (MBA) from the University of Maryland (USA) and holds a master of engineering degree from Kyoto University (Japan).

It may be recalled that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had approved a proposal by NTT Docomo to acquire upto 20.25 per cent of TTML and to convert it into an operating-cum-holding company from an operating company.

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Vinod Sachdeva to be first Ambassador to Niger

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Mr Vinod Kumar Sachdeva, currently Minister in the High Commission of India in Ottawa, has been appointed as India's Ambassador to the Republic of Niger.

A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said Mr Sachdeva would be the country's first Ambassador to Niger with residence in Niamey.

He is expected to take up his assignment shortly, the release added.

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Soni condoles death of film-maker Lohithadas

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Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni today expressed grief on the demise of well-known Malayalam screenplay writer and director A K Lohithadas, who died in Kochi on Sunday morning after a heart attack.

Describing Lohithadas as one of the finest writers in the history of Malayalam cinema, the Minister said that the void created by his death at such a young age would be hard to fill.

"My heartfelt condolences go to the bereaved family. The world of cinema has been deprived of a real talent," she said.

Lohithadas created quite an impact with his maiden script, Thaniyavarthanam (1987 with Mammootty in the lead), which is still regarded as one of the finest films in Malayalam cinema history.

He went on to write the screenplays for several successful movies and directed many films that won critical acclaim and also became major box office successes. He won a number of awards for his screenplays and direction during his career.

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Nirupama Rao to be next Foreign Secretary

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Nirupama Rao
Nirupama Rao
Ms Nirupama Rao, currently India's Ambassador to China, has been appointed as the country's next Foreign Secretary, an official announcement said here today.

This was decided at a meeting of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister, it said.

Ms Rao, an officer of the 1973 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), will take over from the present incumbent, Mr Shivshankar Menon, when he retires on July 31.

She will be the second woman to hold the prestigious post after Ms Chokila Iyer, who served as Foreign Secretary from March, 2001 to June, 2002.

Ms Rao was born in Kerala on December 6, 1950. Her early education took place in cities such as Bangalore, Pune, Lucknow and Coonoor. She has a first class Masters degree in English Literature from the Marathwada University. She joined the IFS in 1973.

As a career diplomat, Ms Rao has served in various world capitals, including Washington and Moscow. She served in the East Asia Division of the Ministry of External Affairs from 1984 to 1992, including as Joint Secretary (East Asia).

Ms Rao was Minister in the Indian Embassy in Washington from 1993-1995, in charge of Press Affairs. She was Ambassador of India to Peru from 1995 to 1998. From 1998-1999, she was Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in Moscow. In 1999-2000 she was Distinguished International Executive in Residence at the University of Maryland, USA.

From 2001 to 2002, she served as the first woman spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. Thereafter she was Additional Secretary in charge of Administration & Personnel in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Ms Rao served as the High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka from 2004-2006. In October, 2006, she took over as the Ambassador of India to China.

Ms Rao was a Fellow of the Centre for International Affairs (now the Weatherhead Centre) of Harvard University from 1992-93.

She is married to Mr Sudhakar Rao, a senior civil servant, who belongs to the Indian Administrative Service and is currently posted as the Chief Secretary of Karnataka. They have two sons, Nikhilesh and Kartikeya.

Ms. Rao’s hobbies include music (Hindustani, Carnatic and Western), theatre and writing. She is also an accomplished singer in her own right. Her first book of poems "Rain Rising" was published in India in 2004 and also released in Sri Lanka.

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IAF veteran Gurdial Singh Paul passes away

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Group Captain Gurdial Singh Paul, a retired air warrior who served the Indian Air Force (IAF) from its formative years, passed away here on Saturday night, IAF sources said today.

He was 93. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and three grandchildren. His funeral was held near Brar Square here today. A wreath was placed on behalf of the IAF by Air Officer Commanding, Air Force Station, Race Course, Air Commodore Ajit S Bhonsle.

Born on 3rd November 1916, in Chittavatni in Pakistan, Gurdial Singh studied at Khalsa College, Amritsar for his B.A. in History.

He joined the Royal Air Force and was commissioned to the IAF at AF Station Tambaram. In 1943, during the Second World War, he visited the United Kingdom for training, sailing from Mumbai to Durban to Southampton on the Elle de France, encountering German U-boats in the Atlantic.

He spent time at various stations of the RAF in London, Cranfield, and Branham. He had the privilege of serving in the same squadron as the actor Clark Gable.

In the IAF, Gurdial Singh had served the with officers like Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh, Air Chief Marshal I H Latif, Air Marshal S Mukherjee and others.

After serving at the AF stations Jalahalli and Secunderabad, Gurdial worked at Air Headquarters, New Delhi for several years in the Adminstration Branch, eventually going to AF Station Avadi as Station Commander in 1967. Before this tenure, it was the Staff College Hyderabad and NDC, New Delhi. Gurdial retired from the Air Force in 1971, as Station Commander Race Course, New Delhi.

In 2003, a surgeon, Col Rai at the Research and Referral Hospital here, decided to operate Gurdial Singh for a stent operation of the intestine, which was relatively new in India at that time. The surgeon was so confident of the health of his patient of 88 years that the four-hour operation was telecast live in a closed circuit to 200 doctors and surgeons attending a conference in the capital.

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Former St Stephen's Principal Anil Wilson passes away

Well-known educationist Anil Wilson, who served as Principal of Delhi's prestigious St Stephen's College for more than 15 years until 2007, died here yesterday after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was 62. He is survived by his wife, educationist Rita Wilson, son Amit Wilson and daughter Aparna Wilson.

The funeral service was held yesterday at the St James Church and he was later buried in the Nicholson Cemetery at Kashmere Gate.

Dr Wilson, who hailed from Himachal Pradesh, did his schooling at St Edward's School in Shimla. He graduated in Science with additional English from the Punjab University and later did his M.A. in English Literature from the Centre for Post-Graduate Studies in Shimla. He taught at the Government College in Shimla for some years before he became the principal of St Stephen's in 1991.

He remained in that post until 2007, except for a short break in 1996 when he was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Himachal Pradesh University.

After his tenure at St Stephen's, Dr Wilson became the Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University but resigned after some time. He had a short stint with a private university in Gurgaon, but did not stay there long either.

Dr Wilson was also a member of the Board of Governors of Bishop Cotton School in Shimla.

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Bharat Doshi is President of Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Bharat Doshi
Bharat Doshi
Mr Bharat Doshi, Chairman, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Ltd. and Executive Director and Group Chief Financial Officer of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, today took over as President of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mr Doshi succeeds Dr Rajiv Lall, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of IDFC.

"The theme going ahead is about making a difference by change with continuity. The interaction between business and government will be through proactive participation and concurrent dialogue whilst the policies are being shaped," Mr Doshi said, outlining a three-tier agenda for the ensuing year.

"The chamber will endeavour to evolve a code of ethics and good governance that the member companies can voluntarily adopt.

"The chamber will bring an innovative approach to Corporate Social Responsibility activities – an opportunity for employees of member companies to voluntarily contribute their time and energy for CSR initiatives," he said.

Mr. Nitin Paranjpe, Managing Director and CEO, Hindustan Unilever Ltd., will be the new Vice President of the Chamber.

Established in 1836, the Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry is one of the oldest industry organisations in the country and has more than 2000 prime companies as its members.

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Nilekani to be Chairperson of UIDAI, quits Infosys Board

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The Government announced on Thursday it would appoint Infosys Technologies Limited Co-Chairman Nandan Nilekani as the Chairperson of the Unique Identification (UID) Authority of India in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister.
Nandan Nilekani
Nandan Nilekani

Infosys Technologies Limited Co-Chairman Nandan Nilekani will be the Chairperson of the Unique Identification Authority of India in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister, an official announcement said here today.
 
It said the Cabinet had approved the creation of the position and that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had invited Mr Nilekani, 53, to join the UIDAI as Chairperson.
 
Over a period of time, the UID is expected to become the single universal identification mechanism for all Indians across all government and private sector institutions in the country.
 
Mr Nilekani is one of the founders of Infosys and has served as a director on the company's board since its inception in 1981. From March 2002 to June 22, 2007, he had served as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the company.
 
In Bangalore, Infosys announced that Mr Nilekani would relinquish the position of Co-Chairman and Member of the Board at the company on taking up his new assignment.
 
An Infosys statement said its Board of Directors today accepted Mr Nilekani's  resignation, which will be effective from July 9.  
 
"The Board placed on record its deep sense of appreciation for the services rendered by Mr. Nandan Nilekani as a co-founder, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, and as the Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors." it said.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor of Infosys, said, "We are glad that an extraordinary individual like Nandan has got an opportunity to add value to India through this position. As a company that has always put the interest of the society ahead of itself, Infosys will accept his absence with a sense of duty to a larger cause, but with deep sadness at the departure of one of her most illustrious sons. We, the Infoscions, wish him the best in his new assignment".
 
In 2006, Time magazine had placed the software entrepreneur in the Time 100 list of the World's Most Influential People. In 2004, was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
 
More recently, Mr Nilekani was in the news for his book, "Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation" in which he discusses the future of India, its recent history, its young population, information technology, caste politics, labour reforms and a host of other topics and ideas.
 
An official press release issued today, announcing Mr Nilekani's appointment, said the functioning of the UID Authority and its activities would serve multiple objectives.
 
It shall have the responsibilities to lay down plan and policies to implement the UID Scheme, shall own and operate the UID Number database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis, it said.
 
The UID is expected to obviate the need for multiple documentary proof, facilitate easy verification, facilitate easy availing of government and private services, help welfare programmes reach intended beneficiaries and serve as a basis for e-governance services.
 
The government recognises that the creation of a UID system in a country with over a billion people poses several monumental challenges. The proposed system envisages collaboration among several government agencies backed by intensive use of information technology.
 
The UID has been a long-felt need in India. It was felt that a system of unique identification of every individual would help in better targeting of government's development schemes, serve regulatory purposes (including taxation and licensing), security purposes, and be useful in banking and financial sector activities, among other areas.
 
At present, in the absence of such a nationwide system, each sector of the economy or department of the government or agency adopts its own system of identification.
 
As a result, there are PAN cards, ration cards, Electoral Photo Identity Cards, and so on.
 
These cards issued for specific purposes were of ten found to have inherent limitations in accuracy and currency levels on account of low frequency of usage. Moreover, the multiplicity of such systems renders it impossible to correlate information across sectors and even across institutions within the same sector for providing better services to people. Similarly, different agencies of government are unable to correlate their data relating to any particular individual.
 
The Unique Identity Project seeks to assign a unique identity (UID) number to each individual in the country that would remain a permanent identifier right from birth to death of the individual.
 
From the point of view of any person in the country, the UID offers many benefits. First and foremost, it would obviate the need for a person to produce multiple documentary proofs of his identity for availing of any government service, or private services like opening of a bank account.
 
This is expected to end the needless harassment that people face for availing of basic government services like issuance of passports, driving licences, Electoral Identity Cards, and so on.
 
Backed by intensive use of technology, the UID would greatly facilitate easy verification of a person’s identity and enable a single communication to trigger address changes in all relevant agencies records. It would also serve as the basis for many e-governance services incorporating online verification of a person’s identity.
 
The UID would enable government to ensure that benefits under various welfare programmes reach the intended beneficiaries, prevent cornering of benefits by a few people and minimize frauds. It would enable financial institutions to exchange information regarding defaulters and encourage responsible borrower behaviour.
 
The scheme envisages that at the inception, the UID number will be assigned to all voters by building on current electoral roll data and progressively adding other persons including persons below 18 years of age who are not a part of the voters list in the country.
 
Over a period of time, through failsafe procedures backed by intensive use of technology and with the help of multiple government agencies, the currency and comprehensiveness of the database will be perfected.
 
The scheme is designed to leverage intensive usage of the UID for multiple purposes to provide an efficient and convenient mechanism to update information. Photographs and biometric data will be added progressively to make the identification foolproof. Easy registration and information change procedures are envisaged for the benefit of the people.
 
An Empowered Group of Ministers had in November last year also approved the modalities of collation of the UID scheme with the National Population Register proposed to be created by the Home Ministry through the Registrar General of the Census of India concurrently with the census 2011 in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Citizenship Act.
 
The UID Authority will be responsible for creating and maintaining the core database and to lay down all necessary procedures for issuance and usage of UID including arrangements for collection, validation and authentication of information, proper security of data, rules for sharing and access to information, safeguards to ensure adequate protection of privacy and all aspects related to all of these issues.
 
Any agency, public or private, which deals with individuals and incorporates the UID number of each such individual in its databases, will be able to share information with other agencies which do likewise.
 
According to a tentative time-frame worked out in November last year, the UID is expected to become available to an initial set of users by early 2010. Its usage will be progressively extended to various government programmes and regulatory agencies as well as private sector agencies in the banking, financial services, mobile telephony and other such areas.
 
Mr Nilekani received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, India in 1978.
 
In January 2006, he became one of the youngest entrepreneurs to join 20 global leaders on the prestigious World Economic Forum (WEF) Foundation Board.
 
He is a co-founder of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) as well as the Bangalore Chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE).
 
He was on the Board of Reuters as a non-executive member from January 2007 till the merger of Reuters with Thomson in April 2008.
 
He is the Vice Chairman of The Conference Board, Inc., an international research and business membership organization. He is on the Board of Directors of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and is a member of the Board of Governors of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER).
 
He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and serves as the Co-chairman of the IIT Bombay Heritage Fund.
 
Mr Nilekani is a member of the National Knowledge Commission and also part of the National Advisory Group on e-Governance. He is also a member of the review committee of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. He took over as the elected President of NCAER (the premier, independent, applied economics research institute in India) in April 2008.
 
He has been involved in various initiatives of the central and state governments. He was the Chairman of the Government of India’s IT Task Force for power. He has also served as a member of the sub-committee of the Securities and Exchange Board of India that dealt with issues related to Insider Trading, and as a member of the Reserve Bank of India’s Advisory Group on corporate governance.
 
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Dinesh Jain concurrently accredited to Guatemala

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Mr Dinesh Kumar Jain, currently India's Ambassador to Mexico, has been concurrently appointed as the country's next Ambassador to Guatemala with residence in Mexico City.

In a separate announcement, the Ministry of External Affairs also said that Mr Vishnu Namedo Hade, presently Ambassador of India to Panama, has been concurrently accredited as the country's next Ambassador the El Salvador with residence in Panama.

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Sunil Chopra to be Kellogg interim dean from Sep 1

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Sunil Chopra
Sunil Chopra
Prof Sunil Chopra, currently the Senior Associate Dean for Curriculum and Teaching at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, has been named interim Dean of the school.

Making the announcement, Provost Daniel I Linzer said the appointment would be effective September 1.

Prof Dipak C Jain, who has been dean of the prestigious school for the last eight years, had earlier this month announced his decision to step down on September 1 and return to the school's faculty.

Prof Chopra, who joined Kellogg in 1989, is also the IBM Distinguished Professor of Operations Management at the school.

"Sunil brings a deep understanding of the school, an outstanding record of scholarship and significant administrative experience," Linzer said in the announcement posted on the school's website.

"We will soon begin a national search for a successor to Dean Dipak Jain, who will step down September 1. I am confident that Kellogg will continue to flourish under Sunil’s leadership as interim dean while we conduct the search."

Prof Chopra’s research and teaching interests are in Operations Management, Supply Chain Management and network design. Besides several papers, he has co-authored the books Managing Business Process Flows and Supply Chain Management: Strategy, Planning, and Operation.

Both books are published by Prentice Hall and are used at several of the top business schools to teach Operations Management and Supply Chain Management respectively.

The Supply Chain Management book was awarded the best book of the year for 2002 by the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE). He also has won several teaching awards at Kellogg.

"Kellogg has a strong commitment to excellence based on its culture of collaboration and innovation among its faculty, students, alumni and staff," Prof Chopra said. "I look forward to building on this vibrant environment where we partner with our students to develop global leaders who make contributions of lasting significance and faculty continue to do path breaking research and develop new pedagogy."

Prof Chopra has been Senior Associate Dean for Curriculum and Teaching since August 2006. In that position, he is responsible for planning the curriculum, teaching needs and other student activities for the Full-Time, Part-Time and Executive MBA programs. Prior to coming to Kellogg, Chopra was an Assistant Professor at the Stern School of Business Administration at New York University. He has a PhD in Operations Research from SUNY Stony Brook.

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Sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan passes away

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Ali Akbar KhanRenowned sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan has passed away in San Rafael in California after a prolonged illness, reports reaching here today said.

He was 87. He is survived by his wife, Mary, three sons and a daughter. Two of his sons, Alam Khan and Aashish are accomplished sarod players, and Alam Khan had only about three weeks played in a concert at San Rafael, California, to help raise funds for the Ali Akbar College Library Project. The whole family was there for the concert, except Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, who was too ill to attend.

President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were among those who expressed grief at the passing away of the maestro.

Ms Patil said Ustad Ali Akbar Khan had left an indelible mark in the world of Indian classical music. "In his passing away, the nation has lost a versatile artiste who played the sarod with a magical touch," she said.

"Ustad Ali Akbar Khan was one of the most accomplished Indian classical musicians of his generation. A colossus who strode the world of Hindustani classical music for over five decades, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan worked towards making Indian music popular around the world," the Prime Minister said.

Dr. Singh expressed his sincere condolences to the wife and children of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and his innumerable admirers around the world.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, who had settled down in San Rafael, attracted attention amongst European audiences in a big way with his sarod solo on Media Traffic's 1967 single "Hole in My Shoe". He became the first Indian musician to record a long-playing album of Indian classical music in the United States and to play sarod on American television.

He was nominated for five Grammy Awards during his career and was also honoured by India with its second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, in 1989.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan was born to the legendary musician Baba Allauddin Khan and Madina Begum on April 14, 1922 in Shibpur village, Comilla, in what is now Bangladesh. He began learning vocal and instrumental music at an early age under his father. Though he was trained on several instruments, including drums, he finally decided to focus on the sarod and performed on stage for the first time in Allahabad at the age of 13. At the age of 22, he had become the court musician of the royal family of Jodhpur.

He set up the Ali Akbar College of Music in Kolkata in 1956 and founded another institution with the same name two years later at Berkeley in California. The college was moved after some time its present location in San Rafael. The college also has a branch in Basel, Switzerland.

Poor health forced Ustad Ali Akbar Khan to cut down on his concert tours for the past many years.

The late violinist Yehudi Menuhin described him as "an absolute genius...the greatest musician in the world." It was at Menuhin's request that Ustad Ali Akbar made his first visit to the US in 1955 and the two performed together at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan's family traced its "gharana" to Mian Tansen, the 16th century court musician of Mughal Emperor Akbar.

He had also composed music for films, including "Aandhiyan" by Chetan Anand (1953), "Householder" by Ivory-Merchant, "Khudita Pashan", Satyajit Ray's "Devi" and "Little Buddha" by Bernardo Bertolucci.

When Ustad Ali Akbar Khan's father was a centenarian, he told his son one day that he was very proud of him. "I am so pleased with your work in music that I will do something which is very rare. As your Guru and father, I am giving you a title, Swara Samrat (Emperor of Melody)."

Of all the awards he got in his long career, Khansahib, as he was popularly known, considered this blessing from his father as the most fortunate.

"If you practice for 10 years, you may begin to please yourself, after 20 years you may become a performer and please the audience, after 30 years you may please even your guru, but you must practice for many more years before you finally become a true artiste--then you may please even God," Khansahib had said once.

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Amal Allana re-appointed Chairperson of NSD

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The President has appointed eminent theatre personality Amal Allana as the Chairperson of the National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi, India's premier theatre training institute, for a second four-year term with immediate effect, an official statement said here today.

Ms Allana, 62, is herself a graduate of the NSD, having passed out in 1968, majoring in direction and winning the Girish Ghosh and Bharat Puruskar Awards.

She went on to study at the Berliner Ensemble, the National Theatre, Weimar and the State Theatre at Dresden.

On her return to India, she set up "The Workshop", a theatre group, along with her husband, Dr Nissar Allana, a stage and lighting designer.

In 1975, Ms Allana was awarded the Homi Bhabha Fellowship for her research in traditional Indian and Japanese theatre. As part of that project, she visited Japan and studied the Noh and Kabuki theatre.

In 1977, she became the head of the Department of Indian Theatre at the Punjab University, Chandigarh.

The following year, she set up "Studio 1" with her husband and the group came up with several memorable productions, including Aadhe Adhure, Hayavadana, Khamosh Adalat Jari Hai, Ashadh Ka Ek Din, King Lear and Begum Barve.

In 1990, she received a Ford Foundation Fellowship to research the contemporary theatre movement. Ms Allana has done over 40 productions so far and also produced some television shows. She has won many awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Direction in 1998.

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G N Bajpai joins Accelerator Group as Senior Advisor

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The Michigan, United States, based Accelerator Group today announced that former Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Chairman G N Bajpai had joined its advisory board and would actively guide its strategic alliance advisory and health practice areas.

Mr Bajpai had served as Chairman of SEBI from 2002 to 2005. Before that, he was Chairman of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) from September, 2000 to February, 2002. He has also served on the boards of many organisations in India and abroad.

"Mr. Bajpai is an eminent leader and champion of the Indian financial service and insurance industries and has guided several major institutions in India under his impactful leadership," a press release from the Accelerator Group said.

Commenting on Mr. Bajpai’s becoming a Senior Advisor of Accelerator Group’s advisory board, its Managing Director Seema Chaturvedi said, "This is a tremendous honour for our organization to have the guidance from such a luminary. We are extremely excited to have an opportunity to work with Mr. Bajpai to create impactful positive changes in our organization and the industries we serve."

Mr. Bajpai commented that he was "impressed with the entrepreneurial vision, tenacity and energy of Accelerator’s team" and said that he looked forward to creating significant value with the company.

Accelerator Group LLC is an investment banking advisory services firm focused on providing services in the areas of business combinations, mergers and acquisitions and raising growth capital. It also provides customized knowledge services in areas of business intelligence and market research. The firm specializes in the healthcare & pharmaceutical, manufacturing (automotive & aerospace) and food & agriculture industries.

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