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Deep Joshi among 2009 Magsaysay Award winners

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Social activist Deep Joshi who is one of the 2009 Magsaysay Award winners
Social activist Deep Joshi who is one of the 2009 Magsaysay Award winners
Well-known Indian social activisit Deep Joshi, whose non-profit organisation Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) helps to professionalise the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is among the six Asians chosen for the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards for 2009.

The Board of Trustees of the Manila-based Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) said Joshi, 62, was being recognised for "his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism to the NGO movement in India, by effectively combining 'head' and 'heart' in the transformative development of rural communities."

The other five winners of this year's awards, often described as Asia's Nobel Prize, have gone to Krishna Kraisintu of Thailand, Yu Xiaogang of China, Antonio Oposa, Jr. of the Phillipines, Ma Jun of China and Ka Hsaw Wa from Myanmar.

"The Magsaysay awardees of 2009," said RMAF President Carmencita T. Abella, "are true Asian Heroes, putting their advanced knowledge and skills at the service of critical needs of their people. They are, each one, addressing major issues affecting the growth and preservation of their respective societies - health care, mass poverty, community displacement, environmental degradation, human rights. They are each using calibrated strategies to craft lasting solutions to problems besetting their people. Nevertheless, these six awardees share a greatness of spirit which infuses their leadership for change. They all build collaboration and seek consensus wherever possible. They all refuse to give up, despite adversity and opposition. Four of them share a passionate concern for the environment, which the Foundation wishes to give special attention to at this time.

The six 2009 Magsaysay awardees join 271 other laureates who have received Asia's highest honor to date.

This year's Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during the Presentation Ceremonies to be held on August 31 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The Award was created in 1957 in the memory of former Phillipines President Ramon Magsaysay who died that year in a plane crash. It was established by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), with the concurrence of the Phillpine government, to honour Magsaysay's memory and perpetuate his example of integrity in public service and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.

Joshi, who grew up in a remote village in Uttarakhand, got a degree from the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Allahabad, a master's degree in engineering from the Masachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) and a management degree from MIT's Sloan School.

He returned to India and worked as a Ford Foundation programme officer and gained experience in development work. He was particularly inspired by a visit to US-trained doctors Rajanikant and Mabelle Arole, who were working on rural health in remote West-Central India.

"Deeply impressed by how the Aroles combined their sophisticated training with strong empathy for the poor, Joshi concluded that if only more people equipped with both knowledge and empathy decided to work in the villages, India's rural society would be transformed," the citation for Mr Joshi said.

With some colleagues, he formed PRADAN in 1983 as a non-profit organisation. It recruits university-educated youth from campuses across the country and grooms them to do grassroots work through a rigorous year-long apprenticeship which combines formal training and guided practice in the field.

"Civil society needs to have both head and heart. If all you have is bleeding hearts, it wouldn't work. If you only have heads, then you are going to dictate solutions which do not touch the human chord," the citation quoted Mr Joshi as saying.

According to it, PRADAN staff empower village groups with technical, project implementation, and networking skills that increase both their income-generating capabilities and their actual family income. Its staff, combining their professional expertise with local knowledge, also train villagers as para-veterinarians, accountants, and technicians who support their fellow-villagers in building and sustaining collective livelihood projects.

PRADAN has reached over 170,000 families in over three thousand villages of India's poorest states. Over a thousand graduates have joined its apprenticeship program. More than three hundred professionals comprise its staff, most of them working in field-based teams across the country, it said.

Mr Joshi now works as an Adviser to Pradhan, having retired at the policy-prescribed age to create institutional space for second-generation leaders.

According to the citation, Mr Joshi wanted to show that, for people with the finest education, there are few intellectual challenges more worthy than addressing rural poverty.

He says: "Development work is considered intellectually inferior to high science, industry, or diplomacy. We want to prove it is both a challenging and a noble choice."

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Nirupama Rao takes over as Foreign Secretary

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Nirupama Rao
Nirupama Rao
Nirupama Rao today took over as India's new Foreign Secretary, saying that, in a rapidly evolving world situation, the country needed to augment its diplomatic and professional capabilities as it was called upon to play an even more prominent role in world affairs.

"I have before me a complex and yet fascinating assignment. I strongly believe that our diplomacy and our diplomats play a vital role in promoting the national interest and safeguarding our national goals of development in an atmosphere of peace and security," Ms Rao said in a statement after assuming office.

She said Indian diplomats today worked with dedication and professionalism in some of the world's most challenging environments and the country's foreign service counted among the best in the world.

"Today, in a rapidly evolving world situation, the task is to further augment our diplomatic and professional capabilities as we are called upon to play an even more prominent role in world affairs. This, will be an important area of focus in my new responsibilities," she said.

Ms Rao said the foreign policy interests of India encompassed a number of areas, which were both regional and global, and which concern relations with its neighbours and the world beyond.

She said economic diplomacy and public diplomacy were also issues that demanded increased attention.

"We are called upon as diplomats to deal with a number of these issues, at any one given time, in a manner that is focused, mature and balanced, that is persuasive and has vision and long term perspective. This is an absorbing task and I look forward to it with great hope and optimism," she added.

Ms Rao has succeeded Mr Shivshankar Menon, who retired from service yesterday after an eventful tenure.

Ms Rao, an officer of the 1973 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), was until recently the country's Ambassador to China.

She is 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 Master's 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 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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Nirupama Rao to take over as Foreign Secretary on Saturday

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Nirupama Rao
Nirupama Rao
Ms Nirupama Rao will take over as India's new Foreign Secretary tomorrow, succeeding Mr Shivshankar Menon, who has retired from service today.

Ms Rao, an officer of the 1973 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), was until recently the country's Ambassador to China.

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 Master's 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 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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Gayatri Devi dies at 90

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The former Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi, who was listed among the ten most beautiful women in the world by Vogue in the mid-1950s, died in Jaipur today after a prolonged illness. She was 90.

Mrs Gayatri Devi, who was later known as Rajmata Gayatri Devi, was discharged from hospital only a few days ago after being treated for gastro-intestinal problems. She was admitted again to the hospital yesterday for a lung infection, sources said.

After Independence, Mrs Gayatri Devi took an active interest in politics. She was a founder-member of the Swatantra Party and was elected three times to the Lok Sabha.

As it has turned out, Mrs Gayatri Devi's death has come just a day after the passing away in Mumbai of the well-known actress, Leela Naidu, who was the other Indian in that list of ten most beautiful women published by Vogue.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was amongst thosee who condoled the death of Mrs Gayatri Devi, describing her as a close friend and an exceptional human being.

"In her public life she worked with devotion for the socio-economic development of her people. She was an international celebrity, named in a list of the ten most beautiful women of her times. She contributed substantially to the cause of the uplift of the girl child. She also promoted the dying art of blue pottery in Rajasthan," Dr Singh said.

Mrs Gayatri Devi was born into the royal family of Cooch Behar to Prince Jitendra Narayan and Prince Indira Raje, who belonged to the Gaekwad family of Baroda. She was married to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur in 1940. They had one child, Jagat Singh.

She won the Jaipur Lok Sabha seat in 1962 with a landslide victory and retained it in 1967 and 1971 on an anti-Congress plank. She served five months in Delhi's Tihar jail for alleged tax law violations and retired from politics after that.

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Malayalam actor Rajan P Dev passes away

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Rajan P. Dev
Rajan P. Dev
Veteran Malayalam stage and film actor Rajan P Dev, who became popular for his character roles and was equally at home in villainous roles and in comedy, died in Kochi early this morning after a brief illness.

He was 58. He is survived by his wife Santha, daughter Ashamma and son Jibile Raj. The funeral will take place at the St Xavier's Church in Angamaly near Kochi tomorrow morning, sources said.

Dev was admitted to the Lakeshore Hospital in Kochi for treatment of a liver ailment the sources said.

His last movie is "Ee Pattanathil Bhootham", featuring Malayalam superstar Mammootty, which is currently playing in theatres in Kerala.

Dev, who had also acted in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu movies, grabbed atention with his portrayal of the character "Kochu Vava" in the play "Kattukuthira". The play was later made into a film, but it was another veteran actor, Thilakan, who was asked to play the pivotal role.

Born at Cherthala in Alapuzha district, Dev entered films in the early 1980s and appeared in about 180 movies in his three-decade long career.

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Ajay Dua to be new Chairman of Areva T&D India

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Dr Ajay Dua has been nominated as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Areva T&D India in place of Mr Saroj Kumar Poddar, who has announced his decision to step down from the position.

"Mr. Poddar’s decision comes as more and more of his time is required by his family enterprises and his commitments in India and abroad as an industry leader," a press release from Areva T&D India said.

"On behalf of the members of the board and our staff in India, I convey our sincere thanks to Mr. Saroj Poddar for his valuable contribution as the longest-serving Chairman of Areva T&D India Ltd. In just over 10 years, since 1998, he has overseen the growth of the company in India to its T&D market leadership position today," Mr. Karim Vissandjee, global Chief Financial Officer, Areva T&D, and board member of Areva T&D India, said.

Dr Dua has served in the Government of India and Government of Maharashtra in several senior capacities. Apart from working as a joint secretary in the Union Ministry of Power, he has also served as Chairman and Managing Director of National Hydro-Electric Power Corporation and the Rural Electrification Corporation. He has also served as Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Mr. Philippe Guillemot, global Chairman and CEO of Areva T&D, said, "I sincerely congratulate Dr. Ajay Dua and welcome him to Areva T&D. We are confident that, as its new Chairman, Dr. Dua will provide the vision and energy required to achieve the expected ongoing growth of Areva T&D India and realize value for its shareholders."

Areva T&D currently employs more than 4600 people in India and has 14 manufacturing units and 22 sales offices.

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A Balasubramanian is CEO of Birla Sun Life Asset Management

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The Birla Sun Life Asset Management Company Limited (BSLAMC) has appointed Mr. A. Balasubramanian as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Balasubramanian is currently the Chief Investment Officer at Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund and will continue to handle this portfolio, a press release from the company said.

According to it, he will report on key governance issues to the Board and on business and operating matters to Mr. Pankaj Razdan, Deputy Chief Executive - Financial services, Aditya Birla Group.

Mr. Balasubramanian has been with the Fund House since January 1995. Under his leadership as the CIO, over the years, Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund has gained recognition as a consistent performer, across asset classes.

Commenting on the appointment Mr. Ajay Srinivasan, Chief Executive - Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group, said, "Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund is a top 5 player, recognized for its customer focus and consistent performance. Balasubramanian's appointment is an endorsement of our strong talent base and the valuable role he has played over the last 14 years, in our mutual fund's success."

Established in 1994, BSLAMC is a joint venture between the $ 29 billion Aditya Birla Group, a well-known Indian conglomerate, and Sun Life Financial Inc, a leading international financial services organization from Canada.

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Pratap Singh is new Ambassador to South Korea

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Mr Pratap Singh has been appointed as India's next Ambassador to South Korea in succession to Mr Zile Singh, an official announcement said here today.

Mr Pratap Singh is currently Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs here. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly, the statement added.

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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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