Delhi Metro chief Sridharan hospitalised after complaining of chest pain

File photo of Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan.
File photo of Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Managing Director E Sreedharan was admitted to a local hospital this morning after he complained of uneasiness while waiting at the Delhi airport to board a flight to Kolkata.

DMRC sources told NetIndian that Mr Sreedharan, 77, was rushed to the Apollo Hospital here, where his condition was said to be stable.

Later, the hospital said Mr Sreedharan was admitted there after he complained of severe chest pain.

"He was immediately investigated and is currently being actively managed for his ailment in the Coronary Intensive Care. A multidisciplinary team of doctors is monitoring his progress," a statement from the hospital added.


Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan hospitalised after complaining of uneasiness

File photo of Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan.
File photo of Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Managing Director E Sreedharan was admitted to a local hospital after he complained of uneasiness while waiting at the Delhi airport to board a flight to Kolkata.

DMRC sources told NetIndian that Mr Sreedharan, 77, was rushed to the Apollo Hospital here, where his condition was said to be stable.


Lt Gen Bikram Singh is new GOC-in-C of Eastern Command


Lt Gen Bikram Singh today assumed charge as the General Officer Commanding –In-Chief of the Eastern Command in Kolkata, suceeding Gen V K Singh, who has become the Chief of the Army Staff.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA), he was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in 1972. He is a post-graduate from the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. He has done Higher Command Course at Mhow and US Army War College, Pennsylvania, United States.

An official press release said Lt Gen Bikram Singh has, in 38 years of active service, held a number of important Command and Staff appointments. He commanded an Infantry Battalion in the North East and along the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir. He was the Corps Commander of the prestigious 15 Corps in his last command tenure.

Lt Gen Bikram Singh has served in three UN Peace Keeping Missions. In his last UN assignment, he was the Deputy Force Commander and GOC of a Multinational Division in Africa, comprising officers and troops of 48 nationalities. He has been awarded the Uttam Yudha Seva Medal (UYSM), Ati Vishisth Seva Medal (AVSM), Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) for his meritorious service so far.

He has also held some important staff appointments at Army Headquarters, which include two tenures each in the Directorate General of Military Operations and the Directorate General of Perspective Planning. Before taking over as GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, he was the Director of General of Staff Duties at IHQ of Ministry of Defence (Army).

Besides holding two Master's degrees from India, he also has a Master's in Strategic Defence Studies from the US.


Air Marshal Raha is Senior Air Staff Officer, Western Air Command


Air Marshal Arup Raha took over as the Senior Air Staff Officer at Western Air Command, New Delhi today.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla, he was commissioned into the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force on December 14, 1974.

Air Marshal Raha has approximately 3400 hours of flying to his credit. A Fighter Combat Leader and an experienced Flying Instructor, he is an alumnus of the prestigious Tri-Services Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) and National Defence College (NDC).

He has held various important field and staff appointments besides serving as a Directing Staff at Flying Instructors School (FIS), Tambaram and Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE), Gwalior.

He has also functioned as an Inspector in the Directorate of Air Staff Inspection (DASI), at Air Head Quarters, Military and Air Attaché in Embassy of India, Kiev, Ukraine and Deputy Commandant at Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.

He has commanded a MiG-29 Squadron and two frontline bases in the Western Air Command and is the Commodore Commandant of 47 Squadron, a Mig- 29 Squadron known as the "Black Archers".

Prior to the present appointment, he was Commanding the Advance Head Quarters, Western Air Command, Chandimandir.

For his distinguished service, Air Marshal Raha was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal in 1995 and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2009, an official press release added.


Sanjiv Handa takes over as Member Mechanical, Railway Board

Sanjiv Handa takes over as Member (Mechanical), Railway Board, in New Delhi on March 31, 2010.
Sanjiv Handa takes over as Member (Mechanical), Railway Board, in New Delhi on March 31, 2010.

Mr Sanjiv Handa, who was the General Manager of the East Central Railway, took over as Member Mechanical, Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India here today.

He has succeeded Mr Praveen Kumar, who superannuated from the post yesterday, an official press release said.

A Special Class Railways Apprenctice Officer of the 1969 Batch, Mr Handa joined the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineering on January 19, 1974.

Before becoming General Manager of the East Central Railway on November 19 last year, Mr Handa held various keypositions in the Railway Board, South Eastern, South East Central, Southern and South Western Railways. He also worked as Additional Member (Mechanical Engineering) in Railway Board.

During his tenure as Divisional Railway Manager, Kharagpur, the Route Relay Interlocking system at Howrah station was upgraded. The prolonged non-interlocking working forced suspension of virtually all trains into Howrah for some days through Eastern Railway. However, Mr Handa ensured that train services from South Eastern Railway did not cease. Overnight an alternate was created at Santraganchi with no disruption to any of the long distance trains.

As Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME), South East Central Railway he introduced 25 tonne operation for the first time on Indian Railways. Initial manufacture of Box ‘N’HL wagons which have become the mainstay of Indian Railways began in Golden Rock Workshop while he was CME, Southern Railway.

Goods trains through the steepest Ghat section of Indian Railways, the Castle Rock-Quelem section, were earlier running only after breakup of loads to distribute 8 WDG3 required for each train. Mr Handa started using 5 WDG4 instead and confined them to the front and rear only. Load split was therefore avoided and overnight the line capacity was doubled.

Features like opposite dynamic brakes were exploited for the first time on Indian Railways and even today the South Western Railway is the only Railway on Indian Railways to do so. Again South Western Railway became the first Railway to introduce distributed power system on locomotives allowing the traffic department to avoid engine and break van reversal at terminals. All these strategies radically improved the efficiency of operation.


Gen V K Singh takes over as Chief of the Army Staff

General Vijay Kumar Singh took over as the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army here on Wednesday, succeeding General Deepak Kapoor who has superannuated.
General V.K. Singh takes over the charge as new Chief of Army Staff from General Deepak Kapoor, in New Delhi on March 31, 2010.
General V.K. Singh takes over the charge as new Chief of Army Staff from General Deepak Kapoor, in New Delhi on March 31, 2010.

General Vijay Kumar Singh took over as the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army here today, succeeding General Deepak Kapoor who has superannuated.

The change over of the baton was solemnised in a brief ceremony in the Army Chief's office.

Gen Singh is a third generation officer of the Rajput Regiment. An alumnus of the Birla Public School, Pilani and the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla, Pune, he was commissioned in 2 Rajput and later commanded the same batallion with distinction.

An official press release said Gen Singh had participated in the Bangladesh War of 1971 and Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka, where he was awarded the Yudh Seva Medal. He has vast operational experience in Counter Insurgency Operations, Line of Control and High Altitude Area environment.

According to the release, he has had an illustrious career with outstanding performance in all courses of instruction. A graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington with a competitive vacancy, he has also excelled on a number of professional courses abroad. He is also a graduate of US Army Rangers Course of US Army War College.

The release said the General has wide ranging experience of various high profile command, staff and instructional appointments. He commanded his battalion in an active LC environment and Brigade in an operationally sensitive area.

General V.K. Singh, the new Chief of Army Staff with the General Deepak Kapoor, in New Delhi on March 31, 2010.
General V.K. Singh, the new Chief of Army Staff with the General Deepak Kapoor, in New Delhi on March 31, 2010.

While in command of a Counter Insurgency Force in Jammu & Kashmir, he was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for his distinguished service as General Officer Commanding.

The General Officer commanded the prestigious Strike Corps in Western Sector before taking over the reins of the Eastern Command. He has been an instructor at Infantry School twice and Chief Instructor at JLW (Commando Wing). He has also served as an Instructor at the IMTRAT headquarters.

He was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal by the President in recognition of his exceptional and distinguished services on eve of Republic Day 2009.


Air Marshal Karnik to take over as DG (Inspection and Safety)


Air Marshal Ajay Shriniwas Karnik will take over as Director General (Inspection and Safety) at Air Headquarters here tomorrow, an official press release said.

An alumnus of National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla, he was commissioned into the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in June, 1972.

Air Marshal Karnik has flown over 3000 hours on fighter aircraft like MiG-21 Bis and MiG-29. A fighter combat leader and a qualified flying instructor, he is also an alumnus of Air War College, University of United States Air Force (USAF), Montgomery, United States.

Having trained in the erstwhile Soviet Union on MiG-29, he went on to command a prestigious MiG-29 Squadron. He has also commanded important operational Air Force bases in the Western Desert Sector and the Western Coastal Region of India.

Air Marshal Karnik has vast experience in operational flying, training, Command and Staff appointments, having served as Head of Training Team (Air) and Senior Instructor at the premier tri-services Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington, and Air Officer Commanding, Maritime Air Operations, Mumbai. He has also served as Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) Eastern Air Command (EAC), Shillong.

He has been awarded the Ati Vishist Seva Medal and Vayu Sena Medal by the President of India for his distinguished service of very high order.

Air Marshal Karnik is presently Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) at Western Air Command.


Carl-Peter Forster appointed MD of Tata Motors


Automobile major Tata Motors today said its Board of Directors had appointed Mr Carl-Peter Forster as Managing Director and Group CEO of the company with effect from April 1.

A press release from the company said the decision, taken by the Board at its meeting today, was in continuation of the announcement on February 15 of the appointment of Mr Forster as the Group CEO, with overall responsibility for Tata Motors' operations globally, including Jaguar Land Rover.

Mr. Forster, 55, has 24 years of international experience in the automobile industry. Most recently he was the head of General Motors, Europe, where he looked after Opel/Vauxhall, Saab and the European activities of Chevrolet.

Before joining General Motors in 2001, Mr. Forster had 13 years of experience in BMW where he held various positions including that of Managing Director of BMW South Africa and was also on the Managing Board of BMW responsible for manufacturing.


Swami Nithyananda resigns as head of his ashram

File photo of Swami Nithyananda
File photo of Swami Nithyananda

Swami Nithyananda, who allegedly figured in a sleazy video clip aired by a South Indian television channel some weeks ago, today said he was resigning as the head of the Dhyanapeetam ashram near here and all the trusts associated with it.

"I have decided to live a life of spiritual seclusion, for some indefinite time, to which the acharyas have agreed in principle," he said in a statement posted on Dhyanapeetam's website.

He said he had, in view of the developments in the last three weeks following the media reports about him, met some of the leading Hindu acharyas at Hardwar.

He said he had briefed them about "what is fact and what is fiction" and candidly discussed what had happened. He said he had sought their spiritual and moral support, guidance and their views on the future course for Dhyanapeetam. "I had also undertaken that I would act entirely in accordance with their counsel," he said.

"In view of this, and to enable the Dhyanapeetam to function with such amended agenda as may be necessary, I am resigning as the head of the Dhyanapeetam and from all the trusts associated with it. A board of trustees consisting from sadhakas of the Dhyanapeetam, who are non-controversial, will henceforth manage the Dhyanapeetam. I have also requested the Acharyas to help the newly constituted trust reorient the activities of the Dhyanapeetam increasingly to undertake spiritually oriented service activities and to guide the trustees. I have also directed the new trustees of Dhyanapeetam to seek the counsel and go by the advice of the Acharyas," Swami Nithyananda said.

"I sincerely thank all those who I had the good fortune of being associated with and guiding in the last decade and more. I request all of them to pursue the Sadhana they had been initiated into, for, the Sadhana is more important than the Initiator. The recent media reports do not in any way affect the validity or the success of one’s Sadhana. Whenever, if required I will return and talk about all that had happened as an independent witness to my conduct with a clean heart and pure soul, and also in a less prejudiced atmosphere," he added.


Justice Reddi takes over as Chairman, Law Commission


Mr Justice P.V.Reddi, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, has taken over as Chairman, 19th Law Commission of India here today.

He was, before the present assignment, Chairperson, Authority for Advance Rulings, an official press release added.


Justice V Gopalagowda appointed CJ of Orissa High Court

Justice V.Gopalagowda
Justice V.Gopalagowda

The President has appointed Mr Justice Venkategowda Gopalagowda, a Judge of the Karnataka High Court, as the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.

An official press release said here today that the appointment would be with effect from the date he assumed charge of his office.

Mr Justice Gopalagowda, 58, enrolled as advocate on November 14, 1975 and practised in the Karnataka High Court for several years before he was appointed as an Additional Judge in June, 1997 and as a permanent Judge in June, 1999.

A separate announcement said the President had, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transferred Mr Justice Ishrat Masroor Quddusi, Judge of the Orissa High Court, as a Judge of the Chhattisgarh High Court.

He has been directed to assume charge of his office in the Chhattisgarh High Court on or before April, 5, 2010, the release added.


Karan Singh recalls his French Connection

Dr Karan Singh President ICCR being presented a certificate by the Cannes City Council in front of Hotel Martinez where he was born.
Dr Karan Singh President ICCR being presented a certificate by the Cannes City Council in front of Hotel Martinez where he was born.

Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) President Karan Singh spoke here last night about his not-so-well-known French connection and a sentimental journey he had made to the Mediterranean town of Cannes, famous for its annual film festivals, last month.

"By a curious concatenation of circumstances I was born in the Hotel Martinez, one of the leading establishments on the Cote d' azur way back in 1931, well before the Second World War broke out," Dr Karan Singh, the only son of then Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, said.

He was speaking at a function hosted by the Ambassador of France at the French Embassy to bring the curtains down on the Bonjour India Festival, a festival of France in India.

Dr Karan Singh, a former Union Minister and now a senior Congress leader, explained that his father was representing the Indian princes at the Round Table Conference in London in 1930.

"As I was already in my mother's womb, he decided that they would all go to the salubrious climate of Cannes," he said.

"He had taken the entire third floor of the then newly constructed hotel Martinez located on the sea front, and it was in the Suite 318-319-320 that I was born," he said.

Dr Karan Singh said that, during his visit last month for the UNESCO Executive Council, he had one day free and had decided to take a brief private trip to Cannes, where he spent a night in the room where he was born. He said he had done this once earlier with his wife half a century ago, but felt that another sentimental journey was indicated.

"My mother was a village girl from Kangra, and I kept thinking how she must have felt being suddenly transported into not only in an alien family but in alien country. The hotel is still flourishing, and they were astonished that someone was actually born inside their hotel and returned for a visit almost eight decades later. In fact, the Cannes City Council gave me a special certificate and the local press ran the story in a big way," he said.

"I suppose the place of one's birth has something to do not only with past life karma, but also must have some effect upon the present life," he said.

"I was brought back to India when I was six weeks old, but the knowledge that I was born in Cannes is indelibly imprinted in my mind because this had to be mentioned in all my school certificates, passports and other official documents. Expecting to be born among the mountains, I found that in fact I was born on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps this fact subconsciously helped me to develop a global consciousness long before the actual process of globalization took place," he said.

He said that, because of this, he found himself at home wherever in this world he might travel.

"My late wife and I travelled incessantly to all continents(except the Arctic once) for half a century, visiting places as diverse and far-flung as Macchu-Picchu in Peru and Angkor Vat in Cambodia; Bariloche in Argentina and Hamilton Island in Australia. In fact, I have been literally a born traveller because I started my travels even as I was in my mother's womb," he added.

Dr Karan Singh is due to return to France to inaugurate the reciprocal Festival of India in France, titled "Namaste France" in Paris on April 14.

During the Festival of France in India, the Embassy of France and Cultures France presented the richness and diversity of the cultural links between the two countries.

More than 100 events in 18 cities were held during the three-month-long festival featuring 250 artistes, musicians, researchers and entrepreneurs from France.


Mani Shankar Aiyar, Javed Akhtar, B Jayashree nominated to RS

Mani Shankar Aiyer
Mani Shankar Aiyer

Former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, well-known lyricist Javed Akhtar, development economist and educationist Bhalchandra Mungekar, Kannada actress B Jayashree and scholar and music exponent Ram Dayal Munda were today nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

An official press release said the President had nominated them to fill the vacancies caused due to the retirement of nominated members.

Mr Aiyar, 69, is a former career diplomat who left the Indian Foreign Service to join politics in the 1989 after having served under then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi while in the Government.

Educated at Doon School, Dehradun, St Stephen's College, Delhi and Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, Mr Aiyar was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1991 and then in 1999 and 2004. He served as Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Panchayati Raj from May 2004 to January 2006.

Javed Akhtar
Javed Akhtar

Later, Petroleum was taken away from him and he was given charge of Youth Affairs & Sports as well as Development of North-Eastern Region. In April 2008, Youth Affairs and Sports was taken away from him.

Apart from four books, Mr Aiyar is a columnist and a regular contributor to various newspapers and magazines in India and abroad. He was conferred the "Outstanding Parliamentarian Award" for 2006 by the President.

Mr Munda is a former Vice-Chancellor of Ranchi University. In 2007, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and he was chosen for the Padma Shri this year for his contribution to the field of arts.

Dr Mungekar is a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mumbai and served as a Member of the Planning Commission from 2004 to 2009. He is the President and Chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. He has served as a Member of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices.

Professor Bhalchandra Mungekar
Professor Bhalchandra Mungekar

Ms Jayashree is the grand-daughtr of Gubbi Veeranna, the architect of the well-known Gubbi Company and is recognised as one of Karnataka's best theatre artistes. She has directed and acted in several players under the banner of "Spandana", a group where she served as Creative Director. She has won several awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1997.

Mr Akhtar, 65, is a well-known Urdu poet, lyricist and scriptwriter and was part of the script-writing duo Salim-Javed in the late 1970s and 1980s. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2007. He has won several awards, including the National Award five times.


Deepak Vohra is next Ambassador to Poland


Mr Deepak Vohra, Ambassador of India to Sudan, has been appointed as the country's next Ambassador to Poland.

An official press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said Mr Vohra was expected to take up his new assignment shortly.


B S Meena appointed Secretary, Heavy Industries


Mr B S Meena, at present Special Secretary and Financial Adviser in the Ministry of Steel, has been appointed as the Secretary, Department of Heavy Industries, in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.

Mr Meena, an officer of the 1975 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Maharashtra cadre, will succeed Mr Satyanarayana Dash, who will retire from service on March 31.

An official press release said the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) had also approved the appointment of Mr Jamini Kumar Sharma as Member Secretary of the Tariff Commission under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Mr Sharma, an officer of the 1975 batch of the IAS (Madhya Pradesh cadre), will succeed Mr Raghubir Singh, a retired Indian Accounts & Audit Service (IA&AS) officer, and will have the rank and pay of Secretary, the release added.



Arif Khan, Indian envoy to Italy, passes away


Indian Ambassador to Italy Arif S Khan passed away in Rome in the early hours of today after a brief illness, official sources said.

He was 58. He is survived by his wife Farida and two sons.

According to sources in the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Khan was undergoing treatment for cancer for some time.

Mr Khan, a Secretary-rank officer, had served in key positions, including as Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs and later as the first head of the Public Diplomacy Division that was was set up a few years ago to help domestic audiences understand diplomacy and foreign policy better.

An officer of the 1975 batch of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Mr Khan also served in the Indian missions in Paris and New York.


Mohan Lal, Resul Pookutty conferred D. Litt. degrees

File picture of Mohan Lal.
File picture of Mohan Lal.

Well-known Malayalam actor Mohan Lal and Oscar Award-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty were today awarded honorary D. Litt. degrees by the Sri Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit at Kaladi in Kerala.

The degrees were conferred on them by Kerala Governor R S Gavai, who is the Chancellor of the University, at a special convocation.

Eminent Sanskrit scholar M. Harihara Puthra Sarma, popularly known as M H Sastrikal, was also awarded the honorary degree in absentia. His son, Madhavan, accepted the honour on his behalf.

The Syndicate of the University had in September last year recommended the award of the honorary degrees to the three persons for their meritorious contributions to their respective field.


Former AP Deputy CM Konera Ranga Rao passes away


Fomer Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Koneru Ranga Rao died in Hyderabad today after a brief illness.

Mr Rao, 75, was admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad about ten days ago for treatment of respiratory problems. He breathed his last around 1700 hours today, sources said.

He is survived by two sons and two daughters. His wife had predeceased him. His funeral will be held tomorrow at his native village Gudavalli in Krishna district.

Mr Rao served as Deputy Chief Minister during the regime of Chief Minister K Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy during 1989-94.

Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy condoled Mr Rao's death, saying Andhra Pradesh had lost a senior political leader.

"As a leader from Dalit community, he was a model of simplicity and sincerity. His dedication is evident from the simple fact that he lived in the 'basti' he was born into, in spite of the fact that he came to occupy big public offices. The best tribute we can pay to him is to follow his example of commitment and modesty," he said.


Mukesh Ambani richest Indian, ranked 4th in world: Forbes

File photo of Mukesh Ambani.
File photo of Mukesh Ambani.

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani has retained his position as the richest Indian with a net worth of $ 29 billion in the Forbes Billionaires list published today.

Ambani is one of two Indians in the top 10 of the list that has a new richest man at the top: Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, who has beaten Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to take the first spot. Gates is at number two and Buffet is in the third place.

The Reliance chief has jumped three places to fourth this year from last year's seventh rank. He is followed at number five by steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal with a net worth of $ 28.5 billion.

Ambani has been ranked the richest Indian for the second straight year. According to the magazine, his net worth has increased by $ 9.5 billion in the last one year.

Mukesh Ambani's estranged younger brother Anil Ambani has slipped two ranks to finish in the 36th spot. The younger Ambani's net worth has increased by $ 3.6 billion to $ 13.7 billion.

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, who has a net worth of $ 17 billion, vastly improved his ranking from 83 last year to 28 this time, adding $ 11.3 billion during the period. He figures in the list as the third richest Indian, followed by Anil Ambani in the fourth place.

Brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia of the Essar Group improved rankings from the 86th to the 40th spot with a net worth of $ 13 billion.

Forbes estimated Slim's fortune at $ 53.5 billion, Microsoft chief Gates' at $ 53 billion and investor Buffet's fortune at $ 47 billion.

"Most of the richest people on the planet have seen their fortunes soar in the past year," the magazine said.

This year, the world's billionaires had an average net worth of $3.5 billion, up $500 million in 12 months, the magazine said.

"The world has 1,011 10-figure titans, up from 793 a year ago but still shy of the record 1,125 in 2008. Of those billionaires on last year's list, only 12% saw their fortunes decline," it said in the report.

"U.S. billionaires still dominate the ranks--but their grip is slipping. Americans account for 40% of the world's billionaires, down from 45% a year ago. The U.S. commands 38% of the collective $3.6 trillion net worth of the world's richest, down from 44% a year ago," it said.

Of the 97 new members of the list, only 16% are from the U.S. By contrast, Asia made big gains. The region added 104 moguls and now has just 14 fewer than Europe, thanks to several large public offerings and swelling stock markets, the magazine said.

Finland and Pakistan both welcomed their first billionaires. For the first time China (including Hong Kong) has the most billionaires outside the U.S. with 89.

Russia has 62 billionaires, 28 of them returnees who had fallen off last year's list amid a meltdown in commodities. Eleven countries have at least double the number of billionaires they had a year ago, including China, India, Turkey and South Korea.

According to the report, the number of Indian billionaires more than doubled from 24 earlier to 50 now. Their cumulative wealth went up by $ 118.9 billion to about $ 227.9 billion, it said.

The list also includes a college dropout from Gujarat, Shahid Balwa, who is in the 937th position with a net worth of $ 1 billion. He is in the real estate businessman.

Indians in the top 100 of the list are: Savitri Jindal (44, $12.2 billion), K P Singh (74, $ 9 billion), Kumar Mangalam Birla (86, $ 7.9 billion) and Sunil Mittal (87, $ 7.8 billion).

Other Indians in the list include Anil Agarwal (113, $ 6.4 billion), Pallonji Mistry (129, $ 5.8 billion), Adi Godrej & family (148, $ 5.2 billion), Gautam Adani (167, $ 4.8 billion), Dilip Shanghvi (173, $ 4.6 billion) and Shiv Nadar (201, $ 4.2 billion).


Shoma Chaudhury, Monalisa Changkija win Chameli Devi Jain Award


Ms Shoma Chaudhury, Executive Director of Tehelka, the Delhi-based magazine, and Ms Monalisa Changkija, Editor of the Nagaland Page, Dimapur, have been chosen joint winners of the 2009 Chameli Devi Jain Award for an Outstanding Woman Mediaperson.

This was announced here today by the Media Foundation, which said the award would be presented at a function here on March 17.

The jury that decided the winners consisted of columnist and author Madhu Jain, former Information and Broadcasting Secretary Bhaskar Ghose and Prof Dipankar Gupta, Senior Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

The presentation of the awards will be followed by a panel discussion on "The Influence of Public Relations on Journalism" with Mr Vinod Mehta, Editor, Outlook, Mr Pankaj Pachauri, Editor, NDTV-India, and Mr Dilip Cherian of Perfect Relations as the panelists. Journalist Paranjoy Guha-Thakurta will be the moderator of the discussion.


Justice Chelameswar transferred as Chief Justice of Kerala High Court

Chief Justice Jasti Chelameswar, B.Sc., B.L.
Chief Justice Jasti Chelameswar, B.Sc., B.L.

The President has transferred Mr Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, as the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.

An official press release said Mr Justice Chelameswar had been directed to assume charge of his new office on or before March 17.

Mr Justice Chelameswar, 57, has a degree in Physics from the Loyoola College in Madras and then graduated in Law from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, in 1976.

After practising as an advocate for several years, he was appointed as Additional Advocate General in October, 1995. He was elevated as Additional Judge of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in June, 1997 and as Judge in May, 1999. He became Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court on May 3, 2007.

A separate announcement said the President had appointed Mr Justice Sambhaji Shiwaji Shinde, Mr Justice Ashok Pitamber Bhangale, Mr Justice Anand Vasant Nirgude and Mr Justice Rajiv Yadunath Ganoo, Additional Judges, to be Judges of the Bombay High Court, in that order of seniority.

The President has also appointed Mr Sanjay Vijaykumar Gangapurwala as an Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court for a period of two years.

Mr Akhilesh Chandra, Mr Gopal Prasad and Mr Mungeshwar Sahoo have been appointed as Additional Judges of the Patna High Court, in that order of seniority, for a period of two years.

Similarly, the President has appointed Mr Benedict Victor Pinto, Mr Bijoor Manohar, Mr K.Govindarajulu, and Mr Hosahalli Sheshadri Kempanna as Additional Judges of the Karnataka High Court, in that order of seniority, for a period of two years.

The appointments will be with effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices, the release added.


Jitendra Nath Misra named Ambassador to Laos


Dr Jitendra Nath Misra, currently Consul General of India in Ho Chi Minh City, has been appointed as the country's next Ambassador to Laos.

An official statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said Dr Misra, who will succeed Mr Suresh Kumar Goel, was expected to take up his assignment shortly.


Veteran Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh passes away

File photo of Nanaji Deshmukh.
File photo of Nanaji Deshmukh.

Veteran Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh, who was a respected party ideologue and had a long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), passed away at the Sadguru Seva Sangh hospital at Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh this evening. He was 93.

Deshmukh, who had been keeping unwell for some time, had complained of chest pain this morning after he was taken to the hospital, where he breathed his last.

He was one of the rare Indian politicans who withdrew from active politics on attaining the age of 60, after which he devoted the rest of his life to constructive work. The present-day Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the successor organisation to the Jana Sangh, was formed after he had already quit the political scene.

Former Prime Minister and BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee said that, in Deshmukh's death, the country had lost a dedicated social worker and a senior political leader.

He said he had worked with Deshmukh in the Jana Sangh and found he had the rare ability to remain calm in the midst of opposition and adverse circumstances. He said Deshmukh was never afraid of challenges and had a magnetic personality which won the loyalty of all those who came to know him.

Mr Vajpayee said Deshmukh had also been associated with Jayaprakash Narayan's movement and had gone underground to campaign against the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

BJP leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani said the death of Deshmukh was a great loss for the Sangh Parivar. He said Deshmukh would always be remembered for his practice of value-based politics.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari described Deshmukh as one of the early architects of the Jana Sangh who stood for true value-based politics. He said India had lost one of her greatest sons

"When the younger generation experiences a dearth of ideals, the life and mission of Nanaji serves as a living embodiment of sacrifice and dedication. His work for rural resurgence firstly at Gonda and later at Chitrakoot is the testimony of his unflinching commitment to the cause," he said.

Born on October 11, 1916 in Kadoli in the Parbhani district of Maharashtra, Deshmukh was deeply inspired by Lokmanya Tilak and was one of those who joined the RSS after the death of Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, with whom he had come into contact in his early life. The RSS sent him to Uttar pradesh as a "pracharak".

Later, he was associated with journals launched by the RSS in 1947, but after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, when the organisation was banned, the work had to move underground.

When the ban was lifted and the Jana Sangh was launched as a political party, Nanaji became its General Secretary in Uttar Pradesh. He went on to be associated with the Bhoodan movement of Vinobha Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan's Total Revolution.

Deshmukh was one of the main architects of the Janata Party, of which the Jana Sangh was a part, and he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Balrampur constituency in Uttar Pradesh. But he declined a ministerial berth offered by then Prime Minister Morarji Desai and in fact announced his retirement from politics soon after.

He remained associated with the Deendayal Research Institute that he himself had established in 1969. He also set up the Chitarkoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya in Chitrakoot. In 1999, he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha.


Rajan Bharti Mittal takes over as President of FICCI


Bharti Enterprises Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Rajan Bharti Mittal today took over as the President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) at the conclusion of its 82nd Annual General Meeting here.

Mr. Mittal, 50, has held several key positions in various industry associations in the past. He is a member of the Managing Committee and Standing Committees of PHDCCI. He is also a Member of the Council of Management of All India Management Association as welll as a Member of the Executive Committee of International Chambers of Commerce – India Chapter.

In FICCI, he was Chairman of the Retail Committee in 2007, Chairman of Infrastructure Committee in 2006, Chairman of Telecom Committee in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and Chairman of Telecom & IT Committee in 2004 & 2005.

He was also the President of Association of Basic Telecom Operators (now known as Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India - AUSPI) during the period 1999-2000.

Bharti Enterprises has interests in telecommunications, financial services, retail, manufacturing, realty and agri-business. Bharti Airtel, a group company, is Asia’s leading integrated telecom services provider with operations in India and Sri Lanka.

An alumnus of the Harvard Business School, Mr Mittal is actively involved in overseeing the activities of the group at the corporate level and in many of its new business ventures.


Prabhat Singh joins GAIL (India) as Director (Marketing)


The public sector gas distribution major GAIL (India) Limited today said Mr Prabhat Singh had taken over as Director (Marketing) of the company.

Mr Singh has a degree in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur and around 29 years of experience in the hydrocarbons industry.

Before taking up his current assignment, he headed the Upstream Business Development and the Strategy Divisions in British Gas since April 2006.

During his earlier stint in GAIL, he headed its Exploration and Production Department as General Manager. He made a major contribution in the execution of world's longest exclusive LPG pipeline project from Jamnagar to Loni.

He was also instrumental in ushering in of the "Open Access Common Carrier Principle" in India which brought in a paradigm shift and contributed manifold in transitioning the pipeline transportation industry of the country into the matured industry that it is today.

Before joining GAIL (India) Limited and serving the company for almost 20 years, Mr Singh had also served public sector consultancy firm Engineers India Limited (EIL) and power major NTPC Limited.


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