- India becomes a popular destination among World Leaders
- Air India puts Banner Ads on Aircrafts for additional revenue
- RBI Governor and SBI Chairman fight over Banking Regulations
- Aarushi Case: Scientist Fails to answer Defense Queries
- Iran India Relationship to spur after NAM Summit 2012
- Village in Goa shuts down against Pollution by Iron Processing Plant
- COALGATE : No Zero Loss in Auction says Chidambaram
- 7 Millions Bihari Households are without proper Toilets
- Ghana President shifting to Palace built by India
- Bihari Youth Death spurs Doctor Strike in Kerala
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 06:30 PM PDT
India is fast becoming a must-visit country for world leaders. In past 8 months 21 Heads of State and countless number of delegations have visited India.
India continued to be a favourite overseas destination for world leaders with as many as 21 heads of state or government visiting the country in the first eight months of this year and the leaders of Russia, Australia and Canada on the way.
The diplomatic calendar promises to be busy for the next few months as well, with Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to come to India in October. India is also gearing to host the leaders of Australia and Canada, two important uranium-producing countries who could play an important role in enhancing this country’s ambitious nuclear energy plans.
Cutting across geographies and continental distances, 21 heads of state and government from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe have already visited India in search of fresh investment opportunities and diplomatic consultations on key international issues with a country that is seen as having a growing say In international affairs and remains one of the world’s premier economies.
The showpiece diplomatic event was the March 29 summit of the BRICS grouping, which brought leaders of top emerging economies, including Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, to New Delhi to firm up new pathways of cooperation among these regional giants.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s day-long visit April 8 was another show-stealer which imparted a fresh momentum to the revived dialogue process between India and Pakistan.
There were many visits from the leaders of African countries, underscoring the growing importance of a resurgent Africa in India’s foreign policy calculus.
The visits by Seychelles President James Alix Michel in January and his Mauritian counterpart Navinchandra Ramgoolam in February culminated in substantive plans to expand maritime cooperation in view of the escalating threat of piracy in the region.
The global slowdown, with eurozone crippled by a deepening recession, has made the Indian market an attractive destination.
In recent months, various international rating agencies have downgraded forecasts for the Indian economy, but this has not deterred world leaders from visiting the country, which is playing an increasingly proactive role in international fora, ranging from the UN to multilateral bodies like the BRICS, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Nuclear Security Summit and the East Asia Summit.
India is currently serving a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
With 2012 being the year of India’s Look East policy, which will culminate in the special India-ASEAN summit in December, India hosted Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as chief guest on its Republic Day, January 26, and rolled out the red carpet for Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in July.
The Dec 20-21 India-ASEAN summit promises to be the mega diplomatic event which will bring together leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 05:30 PM PDT
National Carrier Air India will allow placing Banner Ads on its Aircrafts in a move to generate additional revenue and meet expenditure.
Flag carrier Air India, reeling under accumulated losses and loans of around Rs.67,520 crore ($12 billion), is planning to carry advertisements on its aircraft to mobilise additional revenue.
The airline is looking to earn around Rs.500,000 to Rs.2 million per aircraft per month for an advertisement. More than one advertisement it hopes would raise the monthly earnings to Rs.4 million per aircraft.
Air India currently has 111 aircraft in its fleet and this revenue is expected to ease the carrier’s financial stress.
“The revenue from this segment depends on the kind of advertisement customers want to place on the aircraft. Most ads in the industry come for aircraft operating on the domestic sector as there are more stopovers, which increases visibility,” said the source.
The airline is, however, more bullish on the in-flight advertisements and claims that it has received many queries for the same as this kind of advertisement has an assured visibility.
“The passenger may or may not see the advertisement on the aircraft body. But the passenger will definitely see it (advertisements) on the panels, bins, screens, pillows and seat covers.”
The airline is also mulling creating advertisement space on its boarding passes and bag tags. This form of advertising has been around for some time and is gaining popularity.
“We have lost out on this opportunity but we have business proposals for the same that can be implemented soon,” said the source.
Air India expects substantial revenue addition from the advertisement space on some 22 million per annum boarding passes.
A third way to generate revenue is allowing in-flight sampling of products by consumer durables companies.
“The concept is quite old and we were pioneers in it, but it was discontinued for some reasons. Now we are planning the restart of this practice sans passenger inconvenience,” said the source.
In the early 2000s, the airline used to provide free VSNL prepaid international sim cards to its business class and frequent flier category passengers.
The civil aviation ministry has meanwhile asked the airline not to provide any free ride to any government-run promotion schemes and said the state-owned units have to go through a competitive bidding process for their advertisement campaigns.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 04:30 PM PDT
Tussle between Reserve Bank of India and State Bank of India gained momentum after a Senior RBI Official instigated War of Words against SBI Chairman.
A senior Reserve Bank of India (RBI) official on Monday ticked off the chairman of State Bank of India (SBI) in public, saying he should look for other work if he is unable to function within the parameters laid down by the central bank.
Answering a student’s question on SBI chairman Pratip K. Chaudhuri’s recent comments on phasing out of cash reserve ratio (CRR), at Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM) Chennai , K.C. Chakrabarty, deputy governor of RBI said: “If the SBI chairman is not able to do business as per our regulatory environment, he has to find out some other place.”
Chaudhuri had said that the CRR (Cash Reserve Ratio) – a percentage of deposits that banks have to maintain with RBI – has been unfairly imposed on the banks while so such restriction is there on insurance companies, non-banking finance companies and mutual funds.
The SBI chairman also said that the RBI does not pay any interest on the CRR maintained by the banks.
Chakrabarty was at GLIM to participate in the Financial Conference on Systemic Risk.
However Chakrabarty supported SBI as the bank to be supported as it is a big banking tree to be allowed to fall.
Chakrabarthy said the interest rates will come down automatically if the inflation is controlled.
According to him the major focus should be on increasing the productivity in manufacturing and the farm sectors.
Chakrabarty said the country is facing three challenges – high inflation, current accout deficit and fiscal deficit.
He said it is enough if the country replicates the Punjab, Haryana and West Uttar Pradesh the achievements in farm sector in other states then the food inflation would come down.
According to him India and China cannot afford to import food as the global prices would shoot up if they do that.
On containing the manufacturing inflation, Chakrabarty said the sector should adopt technology to reduce cost.
According to him reducing imports of gold and oil would enable the country to check current accout deficit while subsidies should be targeted to reduce the fiscal deficit.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 03:30 PM PDT
A forensic expert could not answer in a special court at Ghaziabad on Monday some defence queries on samples lifted from the scene of the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder.
Defence lawyer Manoj Shishodia said the Central Forensic Science Laboratory B.K. Mahapatra said he did not remember from which place at the murder spot he lifted which sample.
Mahapatra had visited the spot along with 12 other scientists June 1, 2008.
Aarushi, 14, was found murdered at her parents’ Noida residence May 16, 2008. The body of Hemraj was found the next day on the terrace of the house.
The cross-examination of Mahapatra was held for the fifth day before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge S. Lal.
The court adjourned the proceedings till Tuesday, Shishodia said.
The defence lawyer said Mahapatra said in the court that he did not remember whether a pillow found in Aarushi’s room was of her own or of somebody else.
He said that Mahapatra’s statements pointed that the CBI had failed to establish the crime scientifically.
Shishodia said that when the expert was asked whether he clicked photos of the articles collected for performing tests as per the rules laid down by the National Accreditation Board of Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), the scientist answered in negative.
The scientist claimed that the CFSL followed its own manual, he said.
Teen Aarushi’s father Rajesh Talwar and mother Nupur Talwar are the accused in the double murder.
Nupur Talwar was taken into custody April 30 and she challenged in the apex court the May 31 Allahabad High Court order rejecting her bail plea. She is lodged in Dasna jail in Ghaziabad. Her husband is out on bail.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 02:30 PM PDT
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjead meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Tehran Wednesday, he is expected to pitch for fast-tracking the project, ahead of a meeting of energy officials of the three countries in Islamabad.
The joint working group on hydrocarbons comprises officials of the energy ministries of the three countries.
The meeting is expected to revive the stalled negotiations over the ambitious $7 billion pipeline proposal that seeks to bring Iranian gas via Pakistan to India, reliable sources said.
Iran and Pakistan have already sealed a bilateral deal on the pipeline, but India has tended to vacillate due to a host of reasons. Iran, the most ardent backer of the project, has however not given up on India joining what Tehran projects as the “peace pipeline” connecting the three countries in a web of prosperity.
India has security concerns as the proposed pipeline passes through the volatile regions of Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The talks have also deadlocked over transport and transit fees with Pakistan.
Apart from scepticism about the economic and logistical unviability of the pipeline, it is being opposed by the US, which feels it will amount to defeating its larger strategy of isolating Tehran in the region.
In India, the pipeline has been virtually written off, but there are signs that it may be revived.
Early this month, a parliamentary panel asked the petroleum ministry to “vigorously” pursue and settle all pending issues related to the project as it would help address the country’s energy gap.
In a report, the standing committee on petroleum and natural gas sought the earliest possible start for the project.
Besides, India in May signed on to Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. The gas from the pipeline is expected to start flowing into energy-starved India in another five years, official sources said.
India has signed the gas sales-purchase agreement for the $7.6 billion project that is to begin in Turkmenistan and pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan before terminating in India.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 01:30 PM PDT
Navelim village in Goa’s mining belt shut down Monday in protest against what they called “heavy pollution” emitted from an iron processing plant operated by the Sesa Goa Limited (SGL).
Navelim is 40 km from Panaji.
Schools, markets as well as other establishments remained closed in the area, after the village panchayat (council) Sunday formally resolved to shut down the village in protest for 12 hours through the day.
“The pollution is such that our houses, clothes and food get covered by black dust caused due to the pollution from this processing plant,” Gopinath Gawas, the sarpanch (village head) of Navelim village, told reporters here.
“The bandh has been supported by the panchayat gram sabha and will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” he further said.
“Even our water bodies are being polluted by the effluent and the black soot,” Gawas added.
SGL, along with the Timblo family-owned mining empire, are the two major mining companies in Goa.
The SGL pig iron plant processes several hundred thousand tonnes of iron ore annually.
SGL, a Vedanta Resources-owned company, has not issued a formal statement on the issue yet.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 12:30 PM PDT
Three days after claiming that there was no question of gain or loss in coal block allocation as the coal has not been mined, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Monday said the government never used the term “zero loss”.
“None of us used the phrase zero loss. Nevertheless, a section of the press has incorrectly reported that government claimed that there was zero loss in the allocation of coal blocks,” Chidambaram said in a written statement.
“In fact, what I said was: If coal is not mined, if coal remains buried in mother earth, where is the loss. The loss can arise only if one tonne of coal is taken out of mother earth and sold at some unacceptable price or value,” he said.
In a joint press conference with Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and Law and Justice Minister Salman Kurshid, the finance minister had said Friday that the notion of presumptive loss by the official auditor in the coal block allocation was flawed.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said in its report that the lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private players had resulted in the loss of a whopping Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer.
Chidambaram said he was wrongly quoted by a section of media.
“I said question of loss or gain arises only in respect of coal actually mined from any of the 57 blocks. If the coal is not being mined, there is no question of a gain or a loss. That is what I said. So please quote me accurately,” the finance minister said.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 11:29 AM PDT
Millions of poor families in Bihar are still living without toilets as the state government has failed to provide the facility at their homes.
Latest data from Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) shows that over 7.57 million households in Bihar, particularly in rural areas, don’t have toilets.
“The government has aimed at providing toilet facilities to more than 11 million families in the state this year. But till last month, only 41,13,545 households had been provided toilets,” a PHED official said.
PHED will provide toilets to 8,25,248 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and 4,52,350 Above Poverty Line (APL) families during 2012-13. “The government has decided to achieve its target of providing toilet facilities to more than 11 million families by 2017,” the PHED official said.
Bihar PHED Minister Chandra Mohan Rai told IANS that it is a hard fact that millions of poor people in Bihar still don’t have toilet facilities, which forces them to defecate in the open.
“The state government is working to provide toilets to all families,” Rai said.
The Bihar government launched a special scheme named after veteran socialist leader Rammanohar Lohia in 2007 to speed up construction of toilets, but its implementation has been lagging.
The central government has launched the Total Sanitation Campaign to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas to eradicate open defecation. But Bihar is among the states lagging behind.
Two years ago, Oliver Cumming, a senior policy analyst with London-based international NGO WaterAid was in Bihar to devise ways to make the state free of open defecation in two years.
Cumming observed that an estimated 85 million toilets were needed to stop open defecation.
WaterAid, in partnership with PHED, has tied up with Unicef, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme and Britain’s Department for International Development for a project to make Bihar free from open defecation by 2012.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 10:30 AM PDT
Ghana: Is the Ghanaian head of state finally planning to move into Flagstaff House, the presidential palace that has a colonial past and has been rebuilt with an Indian grant of $30 million?
It would seem so as President John Dramani Mahama has set up a special committee to advise on a phased movement from the Osu Castle in Accra to Flagstaff House, which was onece home to independent Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah.
Presidential spokesman John Abdulai Jinapor said in a statement that the decision follows an inspection of Flagstaff House by the president. He was accompanied by Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Chief of Staff John Martey Newman, National Security Coordinator Lt. Col. (retd) Larry Gbevlo-Lartey and other officials of the Presidency.
“The inspection revealed that in addition to other identified problems, there are also leakages in the main block while the central air-conditioning units are also non-operational. The lifts in both the presidential and vice presidential blocks are also not working,” the statement added.
Use of the presidential palace has attracted some debate after it was completed by the previous government under president John Agyekum Kufuor. Soon after taking over the government in January 2009, the late president John Atta Mills, who died on July 24, 2012, refused to move into the palace in line with a campaign promise he made.
Pelpuo said the Osu Castle, which is the current seat of the government, had become “a moribund piece of architecture which should no longer reflect the presidency”. The castle was originally built by the Danes in about 1660. Since then, it had changed hands between Denmark, Portugal and the Akwamu, a local tribe before the British took control.
“The Committee will, among other things, review the security, logistics and equipment-related issues required to make Flagstaff House usable and appropriate for the presidency,” Jinapor said.
Pelpuo, who is deputy majority leader in parliament, said in an Accra radio programme that President Mahama, who is serving the unexpired term of president Mills before the next election in December 2012, “should solve the security issues that prevented his predecessor from moving into the palace immediately in order to take occupancy”.
The late President Mills held a number of credential ceremonies and meetings at the Flagstaff House and President Mahama has directed the Committee to work fast so that such ceremonies and cabinet meetings can take place there.
At the time the building was completed, President Kufuor named it Jubilee House, but the ruling NDC changed it to Flagstaff House because, Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Segbefia said, former president Kufuor’s regime tried to wipe out the memory of Kwame Nkrumah, whose name is synonymous with the Flagstaff House. In fact, it was from Flagstaff House that Nkrumah was ousted in a military coup on February 24, 1966.
Deputy Minister of Information James Agyenim-Boateng also said the government took the decision to rename the building because the name Jubilee House had no legal backing.
Posted: 27 Aug 2012 09:30 AM PDT
Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) has threatened to go on strike after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy refused to revoke action against five doctors for dereliction of duty leading to the death of a Bihari youth.
“On Sep 27, we will stage a ‘dharna’ (sit-in) in front of the (state) secretariat. We will have one more round of talks (with chief minister) and if that too fails then we will have no option but to go on an indefinite strike from Oct 1,” said a KGMOA official after meeting with the chief minister.
The doctors also announced that from Sep 6 they would start a “non-cooperation” strike when they will not perform duties other than examining patients at hospitals.
Later, Chandy told reporters that the decision to take action against the doctors was based on two reports submitted to the government.
“These reports point out that there were certain lapses on part of the doctors. We made it clear that the action was not disciplinary but based on the report. During the strike period, if any patient suffers then strict action would be taken against doctors,” Chandy said.
A 24-year-old Bihari youth, S.S. Mann, was brought dead from a mental hospital here to the Medical College Hospital on Aug 4.
Action was taken against five doctors: One doctor appointed on contract basis at the mental hospital here, dismissed from service; two others transferred, and two doctors in Kollam district.
The KGMOA has been protesting against the government action.
Mann, who was suffering from a mental illness, was earlier arrested for creating a ruckus at spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi’s Ashram near Kollam on Aug 1. Later, he was sent to a police station and moved to two government hospitals in Kollam.
A crime branch probe was ordered Aug 6 and two employees of the mental hospital were arrested.
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