Talmiz Ahmad is next Ambassador to Saudi Arabia


Mr Talmiz Ahmad, at present India's Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been named as the country's next Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Mr Ahmad, who will succeed Mr M O H Farook, was expected to take up his assignment shortly, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said.

This will be Mr Ahmad's second stint as Ambassador to the kingdom, having served as Ambassador in Riyadh from January, 2000 to July, 2003. He has also been India's Ambassador to Oman and Deputy High Commissioner in Pretoria, South Africa.

Mr Ahmad, who joined the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1974, has served as the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs and headed the Gulf and Haj Divisions. He has worked in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas as Additional Secretary for International Cooperation and as Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). He took over as Ambassador to the UAE in August, 2007.

In his early years in the IFS, Mr Ahmad has served in Indian missions in Kuwait, Baghdad, Sana'a and Jeddah as well as in London and New York.

Mr Ahmad writes and lectures regularly on Political Islam, the politics of the Middle East and energy security. His book, "Reform in the Arab World: External Influences and Regional Debates" was published in July 2005.


Vijaya Latha Reddy apointed Secretary, MEA


Ms Vijaya Latha Reddy, who was until recently the Indian Ambassador to Thailand, has been appointed as Secretary at the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Ms Reddy, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1975 batch, will succeed Mr N Ravi, who retired from service today.

In other decisions taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), Ms Bhupinder Prasad (IAS, UT:76), at present Special Secretary, in the Department of Law and Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, has been made Secretary in the same department.

Mr R Gopalan (IAS, TN:76), presently Special Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, will be Secretary in the same Department after the post of Additional Secretary held earlier by Mr G C Chaturvedi has been upgraded to its original level of Secretary.

Mr Chaturvedi (IAS, UP:77) will continue as Additional Secretary in the Department of Financial Services until further orders, an official press release added.


Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan passes away


Leading Kannada film actor Vishnuvardhan died in the early hours of today after a massive heart attack at the Vikram Hospital in Mysore, sources said.

They said he had complained of pain in the chest last night and was taken to hospital, where he breathed his last around 0230 hours this morning.

He was 59. He is survived by his wife Bharati, an actress, and two daughters, Keerthi and Chandana.

Thousands of people gathered outside the actor's residence in Bangalore's Jayanagar area on hearing about his death. Later, his body was kept at the National College grounds in the city to enable people to pay their last respects.

Born on September 18, 1950 as Sampath Kumar to the late H L Narayan Rao, a well-known artiste and script writer for movies, and the late Kamakshamma, Vishnuvardhan did his primary schooling at Mysore's Gopalswamy School and later studied at the Kannada Madari School and the National College in Bangalore.

In his 37 years in the Kannada film industry, Vishnuvardhan, popularly kown as Sahasasimha, had acted in nearly 200 films and created for himself a very loyal fan following.

He started his career with the National Award winning film "Vamshavruksha" made by Girish Karnad. He adopted his screen name Vishnuvardhan at the suggestion of Puttana Kanagal, who directed "Nagarahaavu", in which he played a lead role for the first time and became a star overnight. Over the years, he built a reputation as a very versatile, talented and stylish actor, who was at home in all kinds of roles -- romantic, action, comedy and family drama.

He had won as many as seven state awards and five Filmfare awards for his roles in various movies.

Vishnuvardhan also sang in some of his films and had recorded devotional songs for albums.


Vivek Sahai takes over as Member Traffic, Railway Board


Mr Vivek Sahai, who was until now the General Manager of Northern Railway, has taken over as Member Traffic, Railway Board and ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India.

He succeeds Mr Shri Prakash, who has been appointed as Chairman of the Standing High Power Committee on Infrastructure Planning, Business Development and Projects in the Ministry of Railways.

Mr Sahai will continue to look after the duties of the post of General Manager, Northern Railway, in addition to his own for three months or until further orders, an official press release said.

Mr Sahai is an Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer of the 1973 batch and has held several key posts on the Railways. These include General Manager, North Central Railway, Additional Member Traffic, Railway Board, Chief Operations Manager, Western Railway, and Divisional Railway Manager, Mumbai, Central Railway. He has also served as Executive Director, Railway Board, Chief Operations Manager, Konkan Railway Corporation and Additional General Manager, Western Railway.

He has a post-graduate degree in Physics from Allahabad University and has been trained in US Rail Roads and SNCF (French Railways) under a UNDP project in 1989. He has also participated in an advanced leadership programme at Stern Business School, New York, in 2007.


RIL Director R Ravimohan passes away


Mr R Ravimohan, Executive Director of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and former Chairman of Crisil Limited, passed away here late on Monday evening after a cardiac arrest, sources in the company said.

He was 52. He is survived by his wife, Madhuralakshmi, a daughter and a son. The funeral was scheduled for later today, the sources said.

Mr Ravimohan, who also served as Managing Director and Region Head of Standard and Poor's for South and South-East Asia, was appointed as a wholetime Diretor, designated as Executive Director, of RIL with effect from September 1 this year.

"We are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Ravimohan. He was a keen supporter of Reliance Industries and a very dear friend," RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said.

Mr Ravimohan was a chemical engineer and had completed the Advanced Management Programme from the Harvard Business School.

He was credited with building Crisil into the largest rating, financial and business research and advisory service company in India. He was closely involved with the modernization of Indian financial system and pioneered the era of electronic stock markets in the country. He was involved in critical policy assignments, including being a member of the Primary Market Advisory Committee of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Technical Advisory Committee and Financial Stability and Stern Test Assessment Committee of Reserve Bank of India and Raghuram Rajan Committee on Financial Sector Reforms.


Prof C N R Rao to get Hoffman International Medal


Eminent scientist Professor C N R Rao, one of the world's foremost solid state and materials chemists, has become the first Indian to be chosen for the prestigious August-Wilhelm von Hoffmann medal for his outstanding contributions in Chemistry by the German Chemical Society.

This is the highest international medal in Chemistry awarded once in two or three years, an official press release said. Previous winners of the award include Nobel Laureates and leaders in chemical research.

The medal will be presented to Prof. Rao at the European Chemical Congress in Nurnberg on August 29, 2010, the release added.

Prof. Rao,75, is presently working as chairman of Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.

Among other positions, Prof Rao is currently a National Research Professor, the Linus Pauling Research Professor and the honorary President of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore.

Prof Rao was appointed chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister in January, 2005. He had held the position earlier during 1985-89.

He took his B.Sc. degree from Mysore University and M.Sc. from Banaras Hindu University before completing his Ph.D. from the Purdue University in the United States.

Among other institutions, he has taught at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, Purdue, Oxford and Cambridge. He was the director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, from 1984-94.


Van De Vijver is new President and CEO of Reliance E&P DMCC


Petroleum and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today announced the appointment of Mr Walter Van De Vivjer as President and CEO of Reliance Exploration & Production DMCC.

Mr Van De Vivjer, who has decades of global expertise and leadership in the exploration & production (E&P) business, will be responsible for overseeing the operations of RIL's current portfolio of international assets.

A press release from RIL said he would also focus on developing the company's E&P portfolio in North America and other high potential countries globally.

Mr Van De Vivjer will succeed Mr Atul Chandra, who will work with the Chairman's office as Senior Adviser on international business opportunities, the release said.

According to the release, Mr Van De Vivjer has been associated with RIL as an Adviser over the last three years.

He is the former Group Managing Director of Shell and has also been the Chief Executive Officer of Shell's Global E&P Business. He joined Shell in 1979 and, during the 25 years with the company, has gained extensive technical and managerial experience in both the upstream and downstream oil industries in various countries including the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States of America, Qatar and Oman. He has also served as CEO and co-founder of Delta Hydrocarbons B.V>


Air India Executive Director T R Ramachandran passes away


Mr T R Ramachandran, Executive Director-Industrial Relations, of national carrier Air India passed away here early this morning following a heart attack.

He was 55. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. His body will be cremated in Chennai tomorrow, Air India sources said.

Condolence meetings were held in the airline's offices in Mumbai and Delhi today. Mr Ramachandran's body was kept at the Delhi airport to enable his colleagues to pay their respects before it was flown to Chennai.

Mr Ramachandran joined the erstwhile Indian Airlines in 1978 as a Personnel Officer and rose to the position of Executive Director.


Vineet Nayyar apppointed Chairman of Satyam


Mahindra Satyam, formerly Satyam Computer Services, today announced that Mr Vineet Nayyar had been appointed as the Chairman of its Board and Mr M Damodaran and Mr Gautam S. Kaji had been appointed as additional directors.

With this, the size of the Board has increased to eight directors, comprising four independent directors, including two nominee directors of the Government of India, two non-executive and two whole-time directors.

Mr Nayyar, 70, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, is the Executive Vice-Chairman of Tech Mahindra, which now has a controlling stake in Satyam. Apart from various postings in the Government, he worked with the World Bank for over ten years.

He was the founding Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the public sector Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL). He has served as Managing Director of HCL Corporation Litd and as the Vice-Chairman of HCL Technologies. He was also a co-founder and CEO of HCL Perot Systems.

Mr Damodaran, also a former IAS officer, has served as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), CMD of Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) and Chairman of Unit Trust of India (UTI).

Mr Kaji is the former Managing Director for operations of the World Bank with responsibility for Africa, East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia. He also led the World Bank's finance and private sector development programs and served as chair of the World Bank's operations committee, which reviews all projects put forward for World Bank support. Prior to this he worked in a commercial bank. He is currently Chairman of Centennial Group, a Washington based Policy and Strategic advisory firm and their non-profit initiative The Emerging Markets Forum.

Following these appointments, the Board has also appointed Mr. Damodaran and Mr. Gautam S Kaji as members of the Audit Committee, a press release from Satyam said.

The Board also appointed Deloitte Haskins & Sells as Mahindra Satyam’s statutory auditors.

Satyam suffered a major setback when its founder and then Chairman B Ramalinga Raju disclosed on January 7 this year that the company's profits had been overstated for years and that about $ 1 billion of cash and bank balances on its books did not exist. He and some of his close associates are now under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation in what is India's biggest case of corporate fraud.

Following the sensational disclosure, the Government appointed a Board of Directors to look after the affairs of the company. In a strategic sale that was conducted in April, Venturbay Consultants Private Limited, a subsidiary controlled by outsourcer Tech Mahindra Limited, a part of the Mahindra Group, paid Rs 1756 crore to acquire 31 per cent of Satyam.


R C Misra is Secretary Admn. Reforms, Public Grievances & Pensions


Mr R C Misra has been appointed as Secretary in the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances and Department of Pensions & Pensioners Welfare.

Mr Mishra, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of 1976 batch (Orissa cadre), is at present Special Secretary and Financial Adviser, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. He will succeed Ms Rajni Razdan, an official press release added.


Kaushik Basu joins as Chief Economic Adviser in Finance Ministry


Well-known economist Kaushik Basu today joined as Chief Economic Adviser, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.

Dr Basu, 57, was Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies, Department of Economics at Cornell University in the United States. He was also Director of the Centre for Analytic Economics at Cornell.

After doing BA (Hons.) in Economics in 1972 from St. Stephen’s College in, Delhi University, Dr. Basu completed M.Sc. and then Ph.D in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Dr. Basu was honoured with the Padma Bhushan by the Government in 2008. He was awarded the National Mahalanobis Memorial Medal in 1989. He has been a Fellow of the Econometric Society since 1991.

During a long and distinguished teaching career, Dr Basu has served as a Reader at the Delhi School of Economics (DSE) from 1978-85 as as Professor of Economics at DSE from 1985-94. He has also been a Visiting Professor at several well-known institutions, including Princeton, LSE, Harvard, MIT and Stockholm University.

He began his assignment as Professor of Economics at Cornell in 1994.

Dr Basu has been on the editorial boards of several journals and associated with several professional organisations. He has also served on many committees. He has written and edited several books. He has authored scores of papers and popular essays. Apart from this, he wrote a monthly column for BBC News Online and a fortnightly column for the Hindustan Times.


Photo coutesy Press Information Bureau

Syamal Sarkar is Addl. Secretary, DoPT


Mr Syamal Kumar Sarkar has been appointed as the Additional Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

Mr Sarkar, an officer of the 1979 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (West Bengal cadre), is at present the Joint Secretary in the same department.

He will succeed Ms Vibha Puri Das who was last month named as the new Secretary, Department of Higher Education, in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.


Balachandran takes over as MD of Chennai Petroleum


Mr K Balachandran took over as Managing Director of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) here today, succeeding Mr K K Acharya, who has superannuated.

Mr Balachandran will also hold the additional charge of the post of Director (Operations), the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) holds 51.88 per cent in CPCL, while the National Iranian Oil Company holds 15.40 per cent. The rest of the stake is held by mutual funds, banks, insurance companies and the public.

CPCL has two refineries at Manali and Nagapattinam with a combined refining capacity of 10.5 million tonnes per annum (MMTPA).



Vice Admiral Dhowan is new Deputy Chief of Naval Staff


Vice Admiral Robin Dhowan, who was the Commandant of the prestigious National Defence Academy, took over today as the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff.

A navigation and direction specialist, Vice Admiral Dhowan is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy (45th Course C Sqn) and the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC). He has undergone various courses in India and abroad including the Sea Harrier Direction course at Yeovilton, UK and the Naval Command Course at Naval War College, Rhode Island, United States.

An official press release said the Vice Admiral has held various important staff appointments at Naval Headquarters, which include Deputy Director Naval Operations, Joint Director Naval Plans and as Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Policy and Plans), Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy). He has also served as the Senior Instructor at DSSC Wellington.

Ships commanded by him include INS Khukri, INS Ranjit and INS Delhi. He served as the Naval Adviser at the High Commission of India, London and as Chief Staff Officer (Operations), Headquarters Western Naval Command.

The Vice Admiral had commanded the Eastern Fleet as Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, one of the two operational fleet of the Indian Navy and subsequently took over as Chief of Staff at Headquarters Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam. The Admiral took over the duties of Commandant NDA on December 31, 2008.


Economist Banerjee, historian Upinder Singh get Infosys Prize 2009


Abhijit Banerjee
Abhijit Banerjee

Economist Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee of the Massachuetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States and historian Upinder Singh of the University of Delhi, who is the daughter of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are among the five scientists and social scientists chosen for the Infosys Prize 2009 here today.

The other winners announced by the Infosys Science Foundation for their outstanding contributions to scientific research in India were theoretical physicists Thanu Padmanabhan and Ashoke Sen and developmental geneticist and neurobiologist K VijayRaghavan.

The winners of this year's prizes were announced by the Trustees of the Foundation at an event where Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal was the chief guest via video conference.

Thanu Padmanabhan
Thanu Padmanabhan

The awards will be presented by the Prime Minister at a ceremony to be held on January 4 in New Delhi.

Dr Padmanabhan, who is currently at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, has been chosen for the award in recognition of his contribution to a deeper understanding of Einstein's theory of gravity in the context of thermodynamics and large scale structure in cosmology, the Foundation said.

His principal fields of research are cosmology and the interface between gravity and quantum theory. He has won several national and international awards, including the Birla Science Prize, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, the Sackler Distinguished Astronomer, the Miegunah Fellowship Award and the G D Birla Award for Scientific Research. The Government honoured him with the Padma Shri in 2007.

Ashoke Sen
Ashoke Sen

Dr Sen, 53, of the Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, was given the prize in recognition of his fundamental contributions to Mathematical Physics, in particular to String Theory, it said.

He has made several major original contributions to the subject of string theory, including his landmark paper on strong-weak coupling duality or S-duality, which was influential in changing the course of research in the field. He pioneered the study of unstable D-branes and made the famous Sen conjecture about open string tachyon condensation on such branes. He was awarded the ICTP Prize in 1989, the S.S. Bhatnagar award in 1994 and the Padma Shri in 2001.

K. VijayRaghavan
K. VijayRaghavan

Dr VijayRaghavan is currently the Director of the National Centre of Biological Sciences in Bangalore. He is a developmental biologist whose research has focused on myogenesis in Drosophila. More recently his group has been examining how neuronal shape and connectivity is regulated and how this relates to the development of behaviour.

Dr Banerjee was chosen for his outstanding contributions to the economic theory of development and for his pioneering work in the empirical evaluation of public policy. He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at MIT. In 2003, he founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, along with Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan and remains one of the directors of the lab. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. His areas of research are development economics and economic theory.

Upinder Singh
Upinder Singh

Dr Singh was given the prize for her contributions as an outstanding historian of ancient and medieval India. She is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Delhi and had taught history at St. Stephen's College in the capital from 1981 until 2004. Her wide range of research interests and expertise include the analysis of ancient and early medieval inscriptions; social and economic history; religious institutions and patronage; history of archaeology; and modern history of ancient monuments.

The jury decided not to award any prize for Engineering Sciences this year as they did not find a suitable candidate.

The Infosys Science Foundation was established in February 2009 to promote world-class research in the natural and social sciences in India. The Infosys Prize is an annual prize across five disciplines to reward and recognize outstanding inventions or discovery, or a cumulative body of work done in India that has a positive impact on the nation.

The Prize is amongst the highest in terms of prize money for any award in India, and carries with it a cash award of Rs. 50 lakh, a citation and a medallion.

"Indian scientific talent has strong roots and is well respected the world over. The work done by the winners of the Infosys Prize for 2009 are clear examples of the world-class quality of scientific talent in this country. Research in the sciences is key to India’s development and progress, and we must find ways to recognize and reward relevant, leading research in India. The Infosys Prize is Infosys Technologies’ commitment to the country to promote and honour outstanding research efforts in India," Mr N R Narayana Murthy, founder-chairman of Infosys Technologies, and the President of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation said.

Commending the winners of the Prize for their exceptional achievements, Mr Sibal said research was the foundation on which a nation's growth rested.

"The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s recognition of the critical importance of scientific research for India’s development can be seen in the doubling of the science and technology expenditure in the recent budget. To realize India’s scientific potential, the government’s efforts need to be supplemented by non-governmental efforts as well. In this context, I welcome the initiative of the Infosys Science Foundation to recognize and encourage scientific achievement in India," he said.

The minister spoke about the need for industry and academia to collaborate in developing an environment that encourages and supports scientific research in India. He pointed out that the government is giving a policy thrust for higher levels of research in the country, in sciences and in humanities.

The Infosys Prize seeks to recognize outstanding contributions in the fields of Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Computer Sciences, Life Sciences and the Social Sciences. The winners of the Infosys Prize were chosen by individual category panels, comprising international jurors against a backdrop of international research.

The objective of the Infosys Prize is to elevate the prestige of scientific research in India and to inspire young Indians to pursue a career in scientific research. It also seeks to boost the confidence of economists, social scientists and other researchers who are already engaged in significant research, an Infosys press release said.


Vibha Puri Das takes over as Secretary, Higher Education


Ms Vibha Puri Das, Additional Secretary, Department of Personnel & Training, today took over as the Secretary, Department of Higher Education, in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Ms Das is an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) of the 1976 batch (Uttarakhand cadre).

Her other postings at the Centre include those Joint Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, and Executive Director, Central Social Welfare Board.

Ms Das has an M.A. in Political Science from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She has also done a Certificate Course in International Approaches to Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation in the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, United Kingdom. She has edited the newsletter of the South Asia Rural Reconstruction Association and Worked with SEWA, Ahmedabad to develop curriculum for human rights based on home based workers’ movement, an official press release added.


Former Union Minister B Shankaranand passes away


Former Union Minister and veteran Congress leader B Shankaranand died at a private hospital in Belgaum, Karnataka, today after suffering a cardiac arrest.

He was 84. He is survived by two sons and five daughters.

Mr Shankaranand, who was elected to the Lok Sabha eight times from the Chikodi reserved constituency in Karnataka, had served as a minister in the Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narasimha Rao governments.

He had also headed the Joint Parliamentary Committee that probed the Bofors gun scam.

Mr Shankaranand had been admitted to the hospital a couple of days ago for treatment of kidney problems.

His run of eight consecutive wins in Lok Sabha elections came to an end in the 1996 elections when he was defeated by a newcomer, Ratnamala Savanur.

Born on October 19, 1925, Mr Shankaranand was educated in Belgaum and Mumbai and had a B.A. and an LL.B. degree.

In a long political career, which began with a stint in the Belgaum Municipal Corporation, he served as General Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party and on several Parliamentary committees.

He was Deputy Minister for Parliamentary Affairs from May, 1971 to March, 1977. He handled Education, Health and Family Welfare from January, 1980 to October, 1980, and then Health and Family Welfare from October, 1980 to October, 1984.

After a stint as Union Water Resources Minister, he became the Chairman of the JPC on Bofors, an issue that had rocked the Rajiv Gandhi Government.

Later, he handled the portfolios of Law and Justice and Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Union Law and Justice Minister described Mr Shankaranand as a wonderful human being, a mentor for many leaders and an outstanding Parliamentarian.

"With his sharp intellect and exemplary knowledge of the Constitution, he played an exceptional role in the development of Karnataka and the Nation," he said in a condolence message.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Mr Shankaranand had worked tirelessly for the upliftment of the downtrodden and the underprivileged.

"In his death, the Congress Party lost a very senior Member and Karnataka a son of the soil," he added.


Former HLL chief Ganguly, journalist Dua nominated to Rajya Sabha


Former Hindustan Lever Chairman Ashok Sekhar Ganguly and well-known journalist H K Dua have been nominated by the President to the Rajya Sabha.

They will fill the vacancies caused due to the retirement of nominated members, an official press release said today.

Dr Ganguly spent more than 35 years with Unilever and served as chairman of Hindustan Lever from 1980 to 1990 and a member of the Unilever Board from 1990 to 1997.

Since then he has served as Chairman of several companies, including Firstsource Solutions (formerly ICICI OneSource Ltd and ABP Pvt Ltd. He has also served on the Boards of several other companies as well as a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry. He is also a member of the National Knowledge Commission.

Earlier, he had served as member of the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (1985-89). He was honoured by the Government with the Padma Bhushan in 1987.

Mr Dua is currently the Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune Group of newspapers. He has also served in the past as the Editor of the Hindustan Times, the Editor-in-Chief of the Indian Express and as Editorial Adviser of The Times of India. He was Press Adviser to two Prime Ministers and also served as India's Ambassador to Denmark before taking up his present assignment in The Tribune.

He was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 1998.


Former Union Minister P Upendra passes away


Former Union Minister and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) leader Parvathaneni Upendra died in Hyderabad today after a brief illness, reports reaching here said.

He was 73. He is survived by his wife Vasundhara, three sons and a daughter.

Mr Upendra, who had an M.A. in English Literature and post-graduate diplomas in Public Administration and Journalism, started his career as a journalist and worked briefly as a public relations officer in the Railways before plunging into politics by joining the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) launched by film actor-turned-politician N T Rama Rao.

He was elected to the Rajya Sabha for two terms from 1984-96 and served as Leader of the TDP from 1984-91.

He was Secretary of the National Front from 1988-91 and was Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs in the V P Singh Government in 1989-90.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996 and re-elected in 1998.

Mr Upendra, who had joined the Congress Party in 1994, quit the party last November to join the PRP launched by actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, complaining that the aprty had not used his services.

Union Minister for Urban Development S Jaipal Reddy condoled the death of Mr Upendra, saying the country had lost a distinguished parliamentarian, an able administrator and a scholarly politician.

"As a Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs, he displayed a great skill as a political leader. He was also a prolific author, who left behind notable publications on national politics of the last three decades. I feel intensely for this loss of a close personal friend. I convey my condolences to Smt. P. Upendra and her children," he added.


Lt Gen A K Singh is GOC of the Strike Corps on the Western Front


Lieutenant General A K Singh has taken over as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Strike Corps on the Western Front, an official press release said here today.

Commissioned into the 7th Light Cavalry in June 1973, Gen Singh is a graduate of the Staff College at Camberley, Higher Command Course and the prestigious National Defence College. He has also attended a number of other prestigious courses abroad.

An expert on manoeuvre warfare and operational planning, he converted the first T-90 Brigade of the Indian Army during Operation Parakram and has commanded a prestigious Armoured Division.

Gen Singh has varied exposure in Staff at high altiude, Military Operations, the Foreign Division and Perspective Planning. He is Colonel of the Scinde Horse, 74 and 51 Armoured Regiments, the release added.


Achal Malhotra concurrently accredited to Georgia


Mr Achal Malhotra, at present the Ambassador of India to Armenia, has been concurrently accreditd as the country's next Ambassador to Georgia.

A press release form the Ministry of External Affairs said Mr Malhotra would have residence in Yerevan, Armenia.


Obama names Indian-American Rajiv Shah as head of USAID


United States President Barack Obama has named Indian-American Rajiv Shah, a trained medical doctor and health economist, as the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Dr Shah is currently serving as Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"The mission of USAID is to advance America’s interests by strengthening our relationships abroad. Rajiv brings fresh ideas and the dedication and impressive background necessary to help guide USAID as it works to achieve this important goal," Mr Obama said on Tuesday while announcing the appointment that makes Dr Shah one of the senior most Indian-Americans in the current Administration.

"I am grateful for all that USAID has accomplished under the leadership of Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham, and the thousands of career men and women who fulfill USAID’s mission day in and day out – particularly their hard work in jumpstarting a landmark initiative to bring more than $20 billion for agriculture development to the world's most food-insecure countries. I look forward to working with Rajiv in the months and years ahead," Mr Obama added.

In his current assignment, which he joined in June this year, Dr Shah manages the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistical Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. He is responsible for managing more than 10,000 staff worldwide including 2,200 federal scientists and a budget of more than $2.6 billion. He also leads the Department’s participation in President Obama’s global food security initiative.

In his tenure at USDA, Dr. Shah launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – a new scientific institute created to elevate and enhance the capacity of agricultural research to address sustainable food production, climate change, bioenergy and human nutrition.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Shah served as the Director for Agricultural Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Before that, he had worked as the foundation’s first Director for Financial Services to the Poor and led the Strategic Opportunities initiative through which he worked with foundation co-chairs to identify, assess and recommend new areas of giving.

Earlier, Dr. Shah had worked on health care policy for the Al Gore 2000 presidential campaign and served as a member of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's transition committee on health.

He is a co-founder of Health Systems Analytics and Project IMPACT for South Asian Americans. In addition, he has served as a policy aide in the British Parliament and worked at the World Health Organization. In 2007, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Dr. Shah earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his Master of Science in health economics at the Wharton School of Business. He has attended the London School of Economics, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Dr Shah as a leader in the development community, an innovative and results-oriented manager, and someone who understands the importance of providing people around the world with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty and chart their own destinies.

"By nominating Raj to lead the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), President Obama has reaffirmed that development must be a core pillar of American foreign policy," she said.

Dr Shah will take up his new assignment after his appointment is confirmed by the US Senate, a process that is expected to be completed soon.

"If confirmed, Raj will bring an impressive record of accomplishment and a deep understanding of what works in development to his role as USAID Administrator. I look forward to working closely with him to advance the President's agenda and to elevate and integrate development in our foreign policy," Ms Clinton added.


Durgesh Shankar joins CBDT as Member


Mr Durgesh Shankar today assumed charge as a Member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) under the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.

Mr Shankar belongs to the 1973 batch of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and was until now a Chief Commissioner of Income Tax in Delhi.

He has also served, on deputation, as Managing Director of the Central Cottage Industries Corporation and in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Department of Science & Technology and Ministry of Railways.


Journalist Prabhash Joshi passes away


Veteran journalist Prabhash Joshi died after a heart attack at a private hospital here late last night.

He was 73. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

Joshi was taken to the hospital after he complained of pain in the chest. Doctors at the hospital declared him dead, sources said.

A well-known writer, speaker and political analyst, Joshi was the founding editor of Hindi newspaper Jansatta, published by the Indian Express Group. He had begun his career with Nai Duniya, the Indore-based Hindi newspaper.

Joshi was a regular in political programmes on television and also a popular writer on cricket.

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni expressed grief on the demise of Joshi.

"The journalistic fraternity has lost a multi-faceted personality in the demise of Mr Joshi," Ms Soni said, recounting his career as a noted columnist, political analyst and a popular television commentator in his later years.

The Editors Guild of India also mourned the death of the veteran editor and Gandhian activist, who was also one its active members.

In a statement, the Guild's President Rajdeep Sardesai and General Secretary K Sachidananda Murthy said Joshi had strived hard throughout his career in journalism to uphold the freedom of the press and worked for perfecting professional standards.

"He was one of the pioneers of Hindi journalism, who introduced new styles of writing both in political and sports fields. Joshi launched Jansatta and as its editors for 12 years, broke new ground in journalism. He continued as the chief editorial adviser. He was also very adept in English journalism, as he served the Indian Express as Resident Editor at Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Delhi," it said.

The statement said Joshi's column Kagad Kare and his commentaries on proceedings of Parliament and state legislature were eagerly anticipated by readers of the newspapers he served. Recently he had launched the weekly column Aughat Ghat in Tehelka Hindi.

"Joshi has led the struggle against repression of press freedom during the Emergency. He always believed that freedom of the press was not only for journalists and editors, but it was a right enjoyed by the citizen. Hence he was always insistent that journalists should use press freedom only on behalf of the people, and not on behalf of any vested interest," the statement added.


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Yash Pal receives UNESCO's Kalinga Prize


Well-known scientist and educator Yash Pal was awarded UNESCO's prestigious Kalinga Prize for the Popularisation of Science in Budapest on Thursday jointly with Prof Trinh Xuan Thuan of Vietnam.

The prize was presented by UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura during the opening of the World Science Forum in the Hungarian capital.

The Kalinga Prize, established in 1951, is given annually to a person who has helped interpret science, research and technology for the general public.

Prof Yash Pal, 83, a former Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, was chosen for the award for helping to develop the concept of a number of television shows that popularise science, such as the "Science is Everywhere" series for rural children in India.

The citation for prize also noted that he had contributed to the development of several institutions in India, including the University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune and the Centre for Educational Communication in Ahmedabad, a UNESCO press release said.

Prof Thuan is an astrophysicist internationally recognized for his research in extragalactic astronomy (concerning objects beyond the Milky Way). In 2004, he discovered the youngest known galaxy in the universe. Author of over 200 articles on the formation and evolution of galaxies, Prof Thuan has published numerous books for non-scientific readers. Among his best known are "Birth of the Universe - The Big Bang and After", an illustrated history of the Big Bang; and "The Quantum and the Lotus", a dialogue with the Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard.

Among the other awards presented at the event was the Great Man-Made River International Water Prize for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones, given every two years for significant contribution to the management or development of water resources in arid and semi-arid regions. The laureate this year is Dr Bellachheb Chahbani, whose research over the last 25 years at the Institute of Arid Regions in Medenine (Tunisia) has helped improve water management and optimize irrigation systems by reducing evaporation and run-off.

The Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation for 2009 has been awarded to the Autonomous Authority for National Parks in Spain.

Prof Yash Pal took a degree in Physics from the Punjab University in 1949 and completed his Ph.D. in Physics at the Masachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1958. He has served at the Niels Bohr Institute, the California Institute of Technology and the Danish Space Research Institute.

In India, Prof Yash Pal has worked as Chief Consultant to the Planning Commission in 1983-84 and as Chairman of the University Grants Commission (1986-91). The Government honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1976.

In recent times, Prof Yash Pal was in the news for heading the committee that submitted a report on "Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education" in the country to the Government.


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