- Indian Railways to upgrade the IRCTC Reservation System
- US takes U-Turn, welcomes Indian professionals aboard
- Ganguly removed from the Captainship of Pune Warriors
- Parliament to have special 60th Anniversary session on Sunday
- Congress Challenges US jurisdiction in 1984 riots
- Edinburgh University opens Center dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore
- Kerala places Bekal on its Tourism Hot Spots
- Haryana bans its Officers from paving Luxury Path
- India sees a 3.2 percent Increase in Exports
- Indian Women preferring Career over Motherhood
Posted: 11 May 2012 11:27 AM PDT
Government today said over one lakh vacancies in Railways will be filled up during this fiscal, including the safety related posts, and the e-booking site will be upgraded to enable one million ticket sale per day. Railway Minister Mukul Roy said while 75,000 candidates have been recruited following the streamlining of the examination process, “1.44 lakh candidates are proposed to be recruited during 2012-13.
This will also include the safety related posts”. He said this in Rajya Sabha while winding up discussion on the Railway Appropriation Bill, which was later returned to Lok Sabha.
Promising that safety will be provided the definite thrust and “railway is duty-bound towards this end”, he said all unmanned railway level crossings will be done away with in the next 10 years with road over-bridges and under-bridges. In this context, the minister said the number of unmanned level crossings have come down from 20,786 in 1995 to 13,471 as of today while manned level crossings have increased from 15,435 to 18,305 during the said period.
Noting that renewed thrust will be put on PPP initiatives and a focused approach on utilisation of vacant land and air space, he said their endeavour would also be on bringing the railway’s operating ratio at a “healthy level”.
Roy blamed the weakened financial position of the railways to the implementation of the sixth pay commission and downturn in world economy and said they were “striving to improve the financial position”.
He said the outlay for railway for the 12th Plan Period would be 7.35 lakh crore of which 2.04 lakh will be received through budgetary support. Roy said efforts would be made to mobilise additional funds through advertisements at railway stations and use of vacant railway lands.
Posted: 11 May 2012 10:18 AM PDT
With India threatening to drag the US to the WTO against its discriminatory visa fee hike,a senior state department official has said professional Indians are welcome in America. “We understand that the demand (for professional visas) is even greater.
We’re working through those issues. But we continue to fully support the admission of qualified Indians under these programs,” spokesperson of the US State Department Victoria Nuland said yesterday. She said Indians are the greatest beneficiaries of both L-1 visa and B-1/H-1 visa programmes of America.
India has warned that it proposes to seek consultations with the US under WTO rules against the latter’s visa fee hike, which discriminates Indian software companies against American firms.
Meanwhile in India, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed said in Parliament that the government is in dialogue with the US and Canada for facilitation of movement of people, professionals and business travelers.
Posted: 11 May 2012 08:22 AM PDT
Sourav Ganguly will no longer be the captain of Pune Warriors in Indian Premier League and will serve only as the team’s mentor, putting an end to intense speculation over the struggling batsman’s fate following a string of poor results. Ganguly’s future role in the team was spelt out by franchise owner Subrata Roy who said that the veteran batsman wants to remain in the team as mentor only.
“Sourav will be the mentor next season. We rather pushed him to play in IPL 5 as he is such a fantastic captain,” Roy said. The Warriors are already out of the race for the play-offs berth and Roy said Ganguly would like to sit out the team’s last three matches for the youngsters’ sake.
“Sourav wants to give youngsters a chance in the last games,” Roy told NDTV. Ganguly has been under the scanner for his failure as a batsman in the current edition of IPL while the team’s below-par show has also put a question mark on his waning leadership skills.
Pune have lost nine of their 13 matches in the league so far.
After a decent start, Ganguly has gone through a lean patch both as a batsman and skipper and his captaincy of late has been a subject of speculation. Roy, however, came to the left-hander’s defence. “Ganguly is a fine captain, our team lacked good Indian talent,” the owner said.
Posted: 11 May 2012 07:16 AM PDT
Both Houses of Parliament will mark the 60th anniversary of their first sitting by holding a special sittings on Sunday. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will meet at 11 AM on Sunday (May 13) to discuss ‘The Journey of 60 years of Indian Parliament’.
A function will be held in the Central Hall of Parliament House at 5.30 PM when President Pratibha Patil will address the members of the two Houses. Vice President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha Mohd Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar will also address the joint sitting.
Two living members of the first Lok Sabha Reishang Keishing and Resham Lal Jangde will be felicitated on the ocassion. 91-year-old Keishing, a member of the Rajya Sabha, was member of the first and third Lok Sabha. Jangde was a member of first, second and ninth Lok Sabha. Patil will release coins of Rs 5 and Rs 10 denomination to mark the occasion along with a special stamp.
The President will release three books — Members’ Introduction: First Lok Sabha; Speakers of Lok Sabha and ’60 years of the Lok Sabha: An Analysis’ on the ocassion. The books are published by the Lok Sabha Secretariat. Patil will also release five other books ‘Selected Speeches of Women Members of the Constituent Assembly’, ‘Welcome Respected Chairman’, ’60 years of the Rajya Sabha’, ‘Computerisation of the Rajya Sabha: An Overview’ and ‘Nominated Members of the Rajya Sabha’.
A cultural programme featuring santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Sitarist Debu Chaudhuri, Carnatic vocalist Maharajapuram Ramachandran, singer Shubha Mudgal and Iqbal Khan will light up the evening.
Posted: 11 May 2012 06:12 AM PDT
India’s Congress party has challenged the jurisdiction of a US court to hear a case filed against it by a Sikh advocacy group for its alleged role in the November 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
During oral arguments in the US federal court here Wednesday, Judge Robert Sweet noted that the Congress had only challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case and not filed any defence on the merits of the allegations against it.
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had filed a complaint against the Congress in March 2011 under Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA).
According to SFJ, attorneys for the Congress argued that service of summons on the Congress through Hague Convention is flawed as the party’s headquarters in New Delhi did not receive the summons and the complaint.
Congress party lawyers also argued that it cannot be sued as a per a reecent appellate court decision (Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum), that a “corporation” cannot be sued under Alien Tort Claims Act for human rights violations by its members.
SFJ lawyers in turn argued that there is difference between the status of a “corporation” and “political organization”.
Unlike “Royal Dutch Petroleum”, Congress is a political party with a mass following and political network across India, which was used to organize attacks on Sikh population of the India during November 1984, it alleged.
As the Congress is taking the defence that a political party cannot be sued under Alien Tort Claims Act, SFJ will amend its complaint to include the names of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the party’s national leadership, SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said.
Posted: 11 May 2012 05:08 AM PDT
Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore has found yet another permanent roosting perch in Europe. A centre dedicated to the life and works of Tagore, described in Britain as India’s ‘Robert Burns and the Bengali Shakespeare’, has been opened in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Scottish Centre for Tagore Studies centre (ScoTs) will promote Indian culture, education, philosophy, art and literature by highlighting Tagore’s legacy.
It is the first-of-its kind UK university centre dedicated to the writer to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth, said the Edinburgh Napier University’s Institute of Creative Industries in a statement. The Tagore centre is located at the institute.
The creation of the centre follows an agreement with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), which will bring Indra Nath Choudhuri, academic director of the Indira Gandhi Institute, to the university as Scotland’s first chair in Tagore Studies.
The ICCR is also funding two PhD fellowships dedicated to researching the works of the influential bard.
At a three-day event in the Scottish capital, delegates including the High Commissioner of Bangladesh joined Tagore scholars from across the world to celebrate the official launch of ScoTs May 7.
Rabindranath Tagore had strong links to Scotland, mainly through his friendship with Sir Patrick Geddes, who designed Tagore’s International University, Visva-Bharati at Santiniketan.
Tagore’s grandfather, entrepreneur Prince Dwarkanath, was also honoured with the Freedom of the City award by the Edinburgh administration in 1845.
Edinburgh Napier has the second largest Indian student population in any Scottish university.
Bashabi Fraser, lecturer in literature and creative writing at the university, said: ‘ScoTs will celebrate the life, teachings and vision of Rabrindranath Tagore, whose spirit continues to inspire’.
‘The centre is ideally placed to promote cultural connections between Scotland and India and will highlight Tagore’s importance to a new audience,’ Fraser said.
‘By working alongside other European organisations and cultural bodies we’ll be able to spread Tagore’s influence and attract research interest from far and wide,’ the lecturer added.
Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs in the Scottish government said: ‘Rabrindranath Tagore was India’s greatest artist, musician and poet and had many close ties to Scotland. ScoTs will celebrate these connections and Tagore’s legacy, deepening the relationship between our two countries.’
Posted: 11 May 2012 04:00 AM PDT
After firmly placing stations such as Kovalam and Kumarakom on the global tourism map, the Kerala government has picked this idyllic town of beaches and backwaters as destination next for visitors to ‘God’s Own Country’.
The ‘Know Bekal’ campaign to kick-off the tourism initiative in this pristine and scenic town was launched Thursday at the Vivanta by Taj resort, not far from the landmark Bekal Fort built by the Portuguese in 1640 and spread over 40 acres.
‘Bekal is the next amazing destination for tourism in Kerala. Our efforts that started 17 years ago have now begun to bear fruit. Our top priority is to improve road, rail and air connectivity,’ Chief Minister Oomen Chandy told IANS here.
He was referring to the state-run Bekal Resorts Development Corp that was set up in 1995 with the specific task of capacity-building and infrastructure development here.
‘Where else can you find beaches, backwaters and hills all within a few kilometers?’ asked the chief minister, referring to the variety of options offered by this town, which has settings similar to Goa.
‘Bekal received some 3.2 lakh tourists (320,000) last year. We would like the numbers to go up to more than six lakh by 2015. That is our target, that is our aim.’
The chief minister also said this resort destination was the fifth to come up under the Kerala government’s drive to promote sustainable and responsible tourism — after Kovalam, Kumarakom, Wayanad and Thekkady.
Otherwise on National Highway 17, less than 10 km from Kasaragod in north Kerala, Bekal is also easily accessible by rail network, some eight kilometres away. The nearest airport is at Mangalore in Karnataka, 70 km north.
Talks are on with the central government to upgrade the railway station, improve the national highway and build an airstrip. To develop resorts, 230 acres were acquired and a part of it was allotted for six private projects.
‘As of now, two resorts have already come up Vivanta by Taj and the Lalit Resort and Spa. Four more projects are under various stages of development,’ said Rani George, director of Kerala Tourism.
‘Around 50 other properties in the area offer around 1,000 rooms. You also have home-stays villas and Ayurvedic centres. Accommodation will be expanded and people are welcome to invest, especially in budget hotels,’ George told IANS.
Detailing the major attractions in and around Bekal, she not only referred to the majestic Bekal Fort, but also those at Hosdurg and Chadragiri.
‘There are also many stunning beaches, backwaters and hill stations in and around Bekal,’ she added.
Ancient temples and mosques, handicraft like lamps, utensils and curios made of bell metal, and preservation of rich culture like Theyyam dance form and Kalaripayattu martial arts are other attractions, George said.
‘Most other existing resort destinations are close to urban centres and therefore over-developed. Bekal, on the other hand, is still virgin and pristine.’
Posted: 11 May 2012 02:56 AM PDT
The Haryana government, as part of its austerity measures has banned all its officers from purchasing luxury items such as new cars, air-conditioners and expensive sofas and from flying business class.
“The Haryana government has completely banned the purchase of luxury items, especially air-conditioners, carpets, costly furniture, crockery, and also imposed a complete ban on domestic air travel in business class for any category of officers. Purchase of new cars and vehicles, except as replacement, has also been banned,” a state government spokesman said here Thursday.
The directions have been issued by the Haryana finance department to all heads of departments in the state.
The finance department has also directed all heads of departments to effect a mandatory five percent cut in non-plan expenditure in domestic and foreign travel, publications, professional services, advertising and publicity, office and administrative expenses.
“A total ban has also been imposed on the upgradation of new posts. Creation of new posts would be allowed only under exceptional circumstances by the finance department. Posts lying vacant for more than two years would be filled up only after the approval of the department. These measures would be continued till further orders,” the spokesman added.
Posted: 11 May 2012 01:54 AM PDT
) India’s exports grew by a sluggish 3.2 percent to $24.50 billion in the first month of the current financial year, after recording nearly 21 percent growth in 2011-12, Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said Thursday.
Imports increased by 3.8 percent to $37.9 billion in April year-on-year, leaving the monthly trade deficit of $13.4 billion. This is the lowest level of imports in a year.
Imports of gold and silver slumped 33 percent at $3.1 billion. Imports of the precious metal was low mainly due to an industry shutdown in early April. Jewellers had gone on a 21-day strike, protesting against the budgetary proposal to levy additional duties on sale of jewellery. The government early this week withdrew that proposal.
Exports of gems and jewellery also fell 25.7 percent to $2.6 billion in April.
Talking to reporters here Khullar said growth in exports was sluggish also because of low demands of Indian garment and cotton yarn in traditional markets.
“Though India is getting an edge in engineering and chemical exports, bad news is about export of readymade garment, made-ups and cotton yarn,” Khullar said while releasing the provisional data.
Exports of engineering products grew by 14.2 percent at $5.2 billion. Electronics exports grew by 5.4 percent to $0.6 billion, drugs and pharmaceuticals exports rose by 33 percent to $1.1 billion.
Other sectors that registered positive growth included leather, 3.2 percent higher at $0.3 billion; basic chemicals, 11.4 percent higher at $0.9 billion and marine products, 21 percent higher at $0.2 billon.
However, exports of cotton yarn and fabric made-up slumped by 20.4 percent at $0.49 billion.
India’s total exports had grown by 20.94 percent to $303.71 billion in 2011-12, surpassing the government’s target of $300 billion.
The trade deficit widened to a record $184.92 billion in 2011-12, substantially higher than the government’s target of $150 billion, and $118.63 billion deficit recorded in the previous fiscal.
As regards imports during April 2012, it was led by the increase in petroleum products, coal and machinery.
Imports of coal rose by 25.5 percent to $1.5 billion. Machinery imports grew by 14.9 percent to $2.9 billion and that of petroleum, oil and lubricants rose by 7 percent to $13.9 billion.
However, imports of gold and silver fell by 33 percent to $3.1 billion and that of pearls and precious stones slumped by 63.3 percent to $1.2 billion.
Posted: 11 May 2012 12:29 AM PDT
About 1,200 married, working women without children in the age group of 24-30 in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and other major cities were interviewed by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) during March and April.
While Mumbai topped the survey, Bangalore came in second followed by Delhi.
“Over 650 of the working women said that they won’t be starting a family anytime soon as career advancement and higher education was their priority, which they couldn’t sacrifice to raise kids,” said the survey.
Another 200 respondents were of the view that pregnancy would spoil their physical appearance while around 70 considered themselves too young to be a mother.
However, about 220 respondents had no qualms in becoming mothers as it would make them feel happier, and were not fearful of the effect motherhood might have on their career.
The remaining candidates wanted to accumulate enough wealth before they started a family.
The survey also included interview of about 800 stay-at-home mothers and 40 percent of them said that it was better to raise their kids at home rather than pay a bomb at day care units.
Besides, a majority of them said they were proud of choosing motherhood over work as it would lead to comprehensive development of their wards during the pre-school years.
About 35 percent said they had sacrificed their social life to raise their kids while 25 percent said they regretted not being able to work, tangled as they were in managing their houses and kids.
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