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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Left Front struggling to tick in West Bengal

26 September 2009

Kolkata, Sep 26: Once regarded as electorally invincible, West Bengal's ruling Left Front is facing the biggest crisis in three decades with a united opposition determined to dethrone it in 2011.

There are enough signs that the coalition led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is finally facing the heat for the first time since taking office in June 1977.

Left Front veterans admit they are under siege. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee looks as if he is losing his earlier zeal for governance and industrialization.

"The Left is falling apart. They have remained in power so long by adopting strong-arm tactics. The people are fed up and the opposition is united. All their strategies are failing," Trinamool Congress central minister Sougata Roy told IANS.

Added Congress leader Subrata Mukherjee: "Recent trends reflect a general desire among the people for a change of government. People are determined to throw them out in 2011. The Left is in total disarray."

PWD Minister and Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Kshiti Goswami admitted that all was not right in the multi-party Front. "There have been exchanges among us. Some steps were taken which were against the interests of the farmers."

Ever since the CPI-M and its allies suffered a rout in the April-May Lok Sabha polls at the hands of the Trinamool and the Congress, the chief minister has stayed away from CPI-M leadership meetings.

Naturally, there is speculation that he may step down. He has denied this, but the rumours persist.

People who have seen the chief minister for decades insist that his body language and lacklustre speeches betray his drooping spirits.

The main reason for this is the collapse of his dream of making West Bengal an industrial hub again. Instead of boosting the Left's electoral fortunes, it only caused its electoral decimation.

While the government shelved a chemical hub at Nadigram following violent protests led by opposition parties, Tata Motors shifted its famed Nano car project from Singur to Gujarat after a Trinamool-sponsored campaign.

In 15 months, the Left has suffered heavily in all levels of elections.

The Lok Sabha elections saw the opposition grab almost two-thirds of all seats from the state.

Now the opposition is on a high. Ministers are suddenly talking at cross purposes, the CPI-M's allies pillory the government at every opportunity while inertia has gripped the administration.

The Left's downhill journey has continued even after the Lok Sabha ballot.

It fared poorly in civic body polls in June. In August it suffered humiliation when an independent backed by it lost her security deposit in a by-election from Bowbazar in Kolkata -- for the first time since 1977.

The Congress-Trinamool alliance wrested the Siliguri Municipal Corporation in north Bengal, ending 27 years of Left hegemony.

Indirectly blaming the CPI-M, Minister Goswami told IANS: "There were issues of attitude. Front partners were not taken into confidence on some decisions. There is no doubt that public support for us has waned."

CPI-M central committee member Mohammed Salim told IANS that it was too early to make any forecast about 2011.

"The Trinamool-Congress combine won in Siliguri by mobilising the votes of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) which was happy to ensure the defeat of the Marxists at any cost.

"We are neither heart-broken nor complacent. We will expose the Trinamool and how it is using Maoists to kill our comrades in the three districts of Bankura, West Midnapore and Purulia," he said. "We are rejuvenating. Come 2011, the scene may be absolutely different."

But Amulya Saha, in his late 20s, wants the Left to go.

"My father was all through a CPI-M supporter. He is also now totally disenchanted. He hates the lack of readiness on the part of CPI-M leaders to carry out development work to benefit all sections."

However, 70-year-old Swapan Giri of West Midnapore still swears loyalty to the CPI-M. "The opposition can never run the government. The Left is the best bet for the toiling masses."

Tharoor says he'd tweet, but in moderation

26 September 2009

Tharoor says he'd tweet, but in moderation
New Delhi: Unfazed by the controversy surrounding his comments on the microblogging site Tweeter, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is upbeat about using this "innovative method of communication" used by the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

"(US President) Barack Obama uses it, (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton used it while she was in Delhi and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd does it," Tharoor said in an interview to the India Today magazine.

Describing tweeting as "an innovative medium of communication", he said he will continue it but with "some moderation."

"So, twitter will continue and I will not exercise self-censorship but some moderation," said the former UN official who believes he is in politics to make a difference.

Tharoor drew flak from some of his colleagues in the Congress party for his "cattle class" remark on Twitter to describe airline economy class travel.

He was responding to a question by a journalist whether, in view of his party's austerity drive, he would continue to travel "cattle class" - a popular slang for economy class. He reacted by tweeting that he would travel "cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows".

"Of course. I was disappointed as I had come here to make a difference," Tharoor said when asked about his party spokespersons taking offence to his 'cattle class' tweet.

Tharoor met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee after his return from two African countries amid the controversy over his remarks seen as offensive and insensitive by some of his party leaders.

Some Congress leaders like Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi even demanded Tharoor's resignation for the remarks. However, Manmohan Singh sought to downplay the remarks at his Iftar party, saying it was just "a joke".

India pleased as G20 summit scales new height

Genuine forward movement on several key issues, says Manmohan Singh

Pittsburgh: The G20 inverted an apparently iron law of multilateral summitry — that the significance of a final statement is inversely related to its length — by turning in a bulky communiqué at the end of its summit here on Friday whose genuine heft is likely to be felt in the global economy for years to come.

Whether the new frameworks of oversight, regulation, decision-making and accountability envisaged finally get implemented or not, this much is clear: the world’s leading economies appear to recognise that any reversion to the ‘business as usual, banking as usual’ model of global capitalism which existed prior to last year’s financial meltdown will only perpetuate the current crisis and help trigger fresh instability in the international system.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy described the agreement as a “revolution.” Speaking to reporters at the end of the G20 summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was more guarded. But he highlighted several key issues on which, he said, genuine forward movement had taken place.

Of these, he said, the most important was the designation of the G20 as the “premier forum” for future discussion of international economic issues. “This is an important development broadening the international governance structure,” he said. The change will kick in immediately.

Next year’s G20 summit will take place in Canada, alongside the summit of the G8 whose deliberations will, presumably, be confined to non-economic matters and be far less crucial than the larger, more representative forum.

In line with this diffusion of power, the G20 also agreed to effect a 5 per cent shift in the IMF quota share — used to allocate voting rights — from over-represented countries to dynamic emerging markets and developing countries which are currently under-represented, by early 2011. Dr. Singh told reporters India had wanted more. “As of now, the developing countries quota is about 43 per cent. The four BRIC countries had suggested a rebalancing to the extent of 7 per cent, in which case the developing countries would have more than 50 per cent or nearly that.” But this was not acceptable to the West, which today has a majority quota share.

A further levelling of existing power relations could potentially be ushered in by the G20 decision to set up a mechanism for peer review of each other’s policy frameworks and performance. Much will depend on how the IMF implements its mandate to analyse “in a candid, even-handed and balanced” manner whether policies pursued by individual G20 countries “are collectively consistent with more sustainable and balanced trajectories for the global economy.” But this process will allow for the macroprudential and regulatory policies in the rich countries — which failed to prevent, and even encouraged, the rise of destabilising credit and asset price bubbles — to be the target for international scrutiny in much the same way that developing country fiscal, monetary, trade and structural policies have been for decades. This was a positive development, Prime Minister Singh told reporters, rejecting the suggestion that the autonomy of policymaking in India would be affected. “As far as our domestic policy is concerned, the IMF already reviews it … so I don’t see what more can be done as far as Indian policy is concerned. But the policies of major developed countries within the framework of review by the G20 will give us an opportunity to pick holes in the functioning of their economies.”

Maoists gun down Chhattisgarh MP's son

26 September 2009

Raipur: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Baliram Kashyap's two sons were shot by suspected Maoists in Chhattisgarh's Bastar district Saturday, killing one of them, police said.

"Maoists fired several rounds at Kashyap's sons, Dinesh and Tansen, when they were at a temple performing Mahashtami Durga Puja in their ancestral village Gharguda in Bastar district," a top police official told IANS.

The site of the attack lies 300 km south of here.

Four Maoists, described by eyewitnesses as minors, opened fire minutes after Kashyap's another son Kedar, a state cabinet minister, left the temple with his security guards.

"The attackers managed to escape. We have alerted police stations across the Bastar district and launched a massive search to apprehend them," T.J. Longkumer, inspector general of police of Bastar range, told reporters.

According to a family source: "The two were rushed to Maharani Hospital in Jagdalpur with multiple bullet wounds, where Tansen succumbed to his injuries. Dinesh is reportedly out of danger after an operation."

Veteran tribal leader Kashyap, a four-term MP who was also a state minister in undivided Madhya Pradesh, and his family members have been on the hit-list of the Maoists for years, mainly for their open support to a controversial government-backed civil militia movement Salwa Judum.

Salwa Judum, launched in June 2005, aims to flush out the Maoists from the state's mineral rich Bastar region where the Leftist radicals have held sway since the late 1980s.

CIAL registers 25 per cent income growth

Kochi: The greenfield Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) airport has registered a 25 per cent growth in its income with a turnover of Rs 173 crore during fiscal 2008-09, Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said here.

Speaking at the 15th Annual General Meeting of the company, Achuthanandan, who is also the Chairman of CIAL, said the growth in revenue has been achieved by adhering to a very focused strategic growth plan.

The aeronautic revenue comprising of landing and parking charges and other allied sources of income clocked an aggregate revenue of Rs 82.60 crore which forms around 48 per cent of the total income, marking an increase of eight per cent over the previous year, he said.

The Board of Directors had recommended a 10 per cent dividend for shareholders. Identifying cargo operations as a potential growth opportunity, CIAL which is under private-public participation, was making all efforts to develop the airport as a 'cargo hub' in the region, he said, adding "our company has already commissioned the Centre for Perishable Cargo which is a much wanted facility for the export industry, especially, agro and marine exporters."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Over the moon

Sep 25, 2009

What is the big takeaway from Chandrayaan’s discovery of water on the moon?

These findings are a remarkable first, finally confirming what we had long wondered about. For decades, we thought that the moon was bone dry, that it couldn’t possibly have any water. There isn’t that much water, it’s not like there’s a swimming pool – but what’s really interesting is the way the water is produced. Solar winds blowing on to the moon’s surface contain protons and some other particles, which interact with chemicals and minerals in the top layer of the moon’s soil. This produces OH and then water molecules. The water produced dries up on the hotter parts of the moon, but there are wetter patches near the polar areas. We can surmise what this might lead to, whether it could seep into large permanentaly dark caverns near the moon’s poles. What was phenomenal about this effort was the way it pooled the imagination, intellectual resources and working styles of different groups of scientists across the world. In terms of cooperation, selection of instruments, in terms of the enormous data collected, it was a fantastic success.

India knew about moon water last year

2009-09-25 Bangalore

The discovery of water on the moon may have been made public only now, but scientists at ISRO had got wind of it almost a year ago.

"The NASA scientists suspected it was water when they noticed a thermal signature of 3 micron wavelength.

They were confused and surprised at the same time," a highly placed ISRO source told MiD DAY.

The first signs were detected by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a NASA-built instrument that came as a guest payload on Chandrayaan 1, when it was operated on November 18, 2008.

The data from the M3 which would change lunar exploration forever - was confirmed only after checking against data from two earlier missions who had detected similar signs: the Visual Infrared Mapping Spectrometer on the Cassini spacecraft and the High Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on the EPOXI spacecraft.

Though it was NASA scientists who interpreted the data, their Indian counterparts were clued in on the discovery from an early stage. However scientific procedure and a strict policy of confidentiality meant that the findings couldn't be revealed until they were confirmed, he added.

Not so dry: These images show a very young lunar crater on the side of the moon that faces away from Earth, as viewed by NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organisation's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft.
pic courtesy

ISRO's role

Not only was the mission completely run by ISRO, the agency also "decided the orbit of the satellite, which played a big role in the discovery," the scientist said. The M3 data too was routed by ISRO to NASA, which then interpreted it.

"ISRO followed a process of feeding continuous data to NASA by setting up a link from Bangalore to Maryland" said the source, a top ISRO scientist. "All credit to them for looking at the data."

All the raw material, about 1,000 gigabytes of information, was supplied by ISRO. "Our main aim was to supply information," he explained. "Everything came through us. We first brought the information down to earth and processed it."

The ISRO had also signed a data policy with NASA, which laid down that only principal scientists in the US would look at the information.

The scientist, gagged by an official order, opened up on condition of anonymity when MiD DAY requested information.

Bad days

Post August 29, 2009, when contact with the Chandrayaan was lost, scientists were feeling low. "But this news has brightened everything. Internally we had an inclination of what was happening but we waited patiently," he said.

ISRO scientists were elated. He was all praise for NASA and congratulated and complemented them on their work.

The scientist felt ISRO had already established itself, and "a mission of this size puts us in a fairly strong position."

Friday, September 25, 2009

India Hails Role Played by its Space Mission in Gathering Evidence of Water on Moon

New Delhi
25 September 2009

An image from India's Chandrayan 1 spacecraft shows the distribution of water-rich minerals around a small crater on the surface of the Moon, 24 Sep 2009

India is triumphant at the role played by its inaugural moon mission in helping gather evidence that there is water on the moon. Indian scientists hope the latest discovery will bring international recognition to its space program.

The announcement that there is evidence of water on the moon has been made by the U.S. space agency, NASA, after data from their instruments on board an Indian satellite and two other satellites was analyzed.

The unmanned Indian spacecraft, Chandrayan, was launched to orbit the moon last October by the Indian space agency, but the mission was terminated last month after scientists lost communication with the satellite.

However, data gathered before the Chandrayan mission was aborted has shown that very fine films of water particles coat the particles that make up the lunar surface. Scientists say it is not enough moisture for homegrown life on the moon but if it were to be processed in mass quantities it might provide drinking water for future moon-dwellers.

The head of India's space agency, G. Madhavan Nair, called it a "path breaking find" and said that Indians should be proud of the fact that Chandrayan played a role in the discovery.

"I am proud to announce that our Chandrayan I has confirmed presence of water molecules on the surface of the moon," he said. "One of the main objectives of Chandrayan was to look for water on the lunar surface. The instruments, especially the mineral mapping instrument of NASA has caught the signature very clearly. "

Nair said the Indian satellite had helped point the NASA-made instrument to the right location and the right spot.

Indian scientists say the latest discovery shows that the country's inaugural moon mission was a huge success and not a failure even though it was prematurely terminated.

Indian newspapers also greeted India's role in the find. The leading daily Times of India called it a "One Big Step for India, Giant Leap for Mankind."

Finding evidence of water on the moon is seen by scientists as a key step in enabling mankind to set up bases on the moon for further probes. Until now they had advanced the theory that the moon is dry.

Scientists say further studies will be needed to establish the quantity and quality of water on the moon.

India has been scaling up its space program in recent years, wanting to join other major space faring nations like USA, Russia and China. And the role it has played in establishing the presence of water on the moon is seen as a significant advance for its space program.

India mulling deeper exploration of water on moon

Bangalore, Sep 25 (PTI) Euphoric over finding traces of water by a Chandrayaan payload, confirmed by NASA's spacemate onboard the country's maiden moon mission, India is mulling exploring lunar surface deeper for water in its next Odyssey.

"What data we have got is really exciting. We want to see what further additions we can make to Chandrayaan-II's payload. We will definitely revisit the scientific objectives", Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Madhavan Nair told reporters here.

ISRO was exploring a "mid-course correction" of the Chandrayaan-II's objectives, Nair said a day after the discovery of evidence of traces of water was announced by NASA in Washington and ISRO here.

Nair said ISRO was considering going deeper during Chandrayaan II, like landing a rover and drilling the surface to detect if there was any presence of water underneath the moon's surface.

"I think there is a strong interest that we should have more instrumentation for water.

Indian scientists rejoice as Chandrayaan-1 traces water on moon

24 September 2009

NEW DELHI: As news trickled out about Indian maiden lunar mission tracing water molecules on the moon's surface, scientists rejoiced at the discovery and hope that it will pave the way for growing vegetation in the earth's natural satellite in future. ( Watch Video )

"I am really very happy to know that the NASA payload on Chandrayaan-1 has traced water. If it is true then it will pave the way for growing vegetation in moon surface in five or 10 years from now," renowned scientist Y S Rajan said.

"Even if there is no water in its complete H20 format, still it's a great feat. It will help make human venturing to moon a more enriching experience. Those going to moon can combine the molecule and get water.

"They can also break it and get oxygen which is a major problem for scientists in space," said Rajan, who has written the book India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, along with former president A P J Abdul Kalam.

He said India's moon mission was a "great success" that proved ISRO's capability and efficiency in managing key space projects. "We have received loads of data from moon via our mission. It has certainly enriched the global scientific community."

"The moon has distinct signatures of water," top American scientist Carle Pieters confirmed on Thursday.

"The evidence of water molecules on the surface of the moon was found by the moon mineralogy mapper (M3) of the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on board Chandrayaan-1," M3 principal investigator Pieters said in a paper published in the journal Science.

Amitabha Ghosh, space scientist at NASA, said: "This is a very, very important finding... If somehow water was found on the moon, you could use that water right out there. You could extract it."

"Right now, we don't know what temperature it is, and whether there is a cost effective way of extracting it," he added.

Mila Mitra, a scientist formerly associated with NASA said: "This is truly significant because it will help find any trace of life on moon."

"Now you will see more money being invested in moon missions. There might be manned moon missions. Now you will see more emphasis on such endeavours," she added.

S Chandrasekaran, another leading scientist, said: "Yes, we are very happy. I was not part of the mission so cannot give technical details but yes, the discovery is very significant. It is great and very important."

Last year, former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan had told the news agency: "For me personally, if Chandrayaan-1 manages to find evidence of water on the moon, then that would be the biggest achievement."

Chandrayaan-1 was India's first unmanned lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The spacecraft carried five Indian instruments and six from abroad, including M3 and another from NASA, three from the European Space Agency (ESA), and one from Bulgaria.

One big step for India, a giant leap for mankind

25 September 2009

BANGALORE/MUMBAI: It is a giant leap for India's space programme and the biggest scientific discovery of the 21st Century. India's maiden moon mission, Chandrayaan-1 has found water, a discovery that scientists say will upend thinking about space and boost research. And, of course, it has helped shake off the failure tag from the Rs 386-crore Chandrayaan-I project that was aborted last month.

The historic development, that TOI in a global newsbreak reported in Wednesday's edition, took place just prior to the termination of the mission on August 30, 2009. Although water was spotted by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), a NASA probe and one of the 11 payloads on the spacecraft, glory shone on ISRO for the discovery that was made after nearly five decades of lunar exploration by Western nations.

``If it weren't for them (ISRO), we wouldn't have been able to make this discovery,'' Carle Pieters, the Brown University researcher who analyzed the data from the NASA probe.

Pieters, a planetary geologist, has told scientists the discovery ``opens a whole new avenue of lunar research but that we have to understand the physics of it to utilize it''. A Brown University statement on Thursday said, ``The discovery by M3 promises to reinvigorate studies of the moon and potentially upend thinking of how it originated.''
Water molecules (H20) and hydroxyl ^ a charged molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom ^ were discovered across the surface of the Moon. The M3 had covered almost 97% of the Moon before Chandrayaan-1 was terminated.

Brown University scientists say that while the abundance is not precisely known, ``as much as 1,000 water molecule parts-per-million could be in the lunar soil: harvesting one tonne of the top layer of the Moon's surface would yield as much as 32 ounces of water''.

ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair described it a path-breaking event and Chandrayaan-I project director Mylswamy Annadurai called it one of the greatest examples in international collaboration in space.

Chandrayaan's surprise find triggered tremendous excitement among Indian space scientists who were disappointed that the mission had to be terminated because of a communication breakdown.

Narendra Bhandari, who is associated with Chandrayaan, told TOI from Ahmedabad: ``It is a good observation and after all it was one of the main aims of the Indian Moon programme. According to well-known astrophysicist, S M Chitre, water on the Moon could have been deposited by the comets several billion years ago. ``The comets are like water carriers,'' he told TOI.

Regarding the significance of the discovery, Chitre said that it will have far reaching consequences with regard to the human colonization of the Moon and future rocket launches from the lunar surface. ``The real significance of this mission is that it surveyed the entire moon. Nasa's Apollo manned missions between 1969 and 1972 did not find any water at all because they surveyed only a bare 25% of the lunar surface,'' he said.

President of National Space Society (NSS), Suresh Naik, told TOI finding water will help in making rocket fuel.

``Launching rockets from the Moon definitely have an advantage because the escape velocity is much less than on Earth,'' he said. On Earth, the escape velocity, ie, the speed a rocket needs to escape the Earth's gravity, is 11km per second. With the Moon's gravity being one-sixth that of the Earth's, the escape velocity would be much less, he explained. In plain terms, it means less energy is needed to launch rockets from the Moon.

The US, Russia and China are exploring the possibility of building human habitats on the Moon after 2020. Space experts said that in this race, India cannot lag behind and Isro officials also have not ruled this out.

Pieters said findings from M3 reveal new questions about ``where the water molecules come from and where they
may be going''. Scientists have for long speculated that water molecules may migrate from non-polar regions of the Moon to the poles, where they are stored as ice in ultra-frigid pockets of craters that never receive sunlight. If, indeed, the water molecules are mobile, there is then the possibility of getting water to the permanently shadowed craters.

She said: ``When we say water on the Moon, we are not talking about lakes, oceans or even puddles. Water on the Moon means molecules of water and hydroxyl that interact with molecules of rock and dust specifically in the top millimeters of the Moon's surface,'' she explained.

The M3 team found water molecules and hydroxyl at diverse areas of the sunlit region of the Moon's surface as well as at the Moon's higher latitudes where it seemed more definitive in presence. The M3 discovery has been confirmed by data from two NASA spacecrafts ^ the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) ^ on the Cassini spacecraft and High-Resolution Infrared Imaging Spectrometer on the EPOXI spacecraft.

The M3 is a joint project of Nasa's Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Brown University.

Need to quantify lunar water resources: Scientists

Express news service
Sep 25, 2009

Days after the Chandrayaan-I mission to the moon had to be aborted prematurely, US space agency NASA tonight said India’s maiden lunar mission had confirmed the presence of water molecules in the polar region of moon’s surface. Indian Space Research Organisation’s chairman G Madhavan Nair called the finding “path breaking”.

NASA said data from its Moon Mineralogy Mapper, or M3, one of the 11 payloads aboard the Chandrayaan-I spacecraft, had revealed water molecules in “amounts that are greater than predicted, but still relatively small”. It said the instrument had also found traces of hydroxyl, a molecule containing one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, in the lunar soil.

“Water ice on the moon has been something of a holy grail for lunar scientists for a very long time,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This surprising finding has come about through the ingenuity, perseverance and international cooperation between NASA and the India Space Research Organisation”.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DLF sells 1,250 flats within two hours

22 Sep 2009, PTI

NEW DELHI: DLF, the country's largest real estate developer, today launched the second phase of its housing project in the heart of National Capital and sold all the 1,250 apartments within two hours.

The company sold all the flats, offered at prices of up to Rs 1.86 crore, though it has raised the selling price of its units by up to 26 per cent compared to the first phase.

"Even with increased price, we have received tremendous response for our product. We initially planned to launch 650 units in the second phase, but due to huge demand we decided to offer more," DLF Managing Director T C Goyal told PTI.

The company has launched the second phase of the project -- Capital Greens -- at Rs 6,750 (2-BHK), Rs 7,500 (3-BHK) and Rs 8,000 (4-BHK) per sq ft.

However, the effective rate would come down to Rs 5,677, Rs 6,363 and Rs 6,820 per sq ft respectively as DLF would offer a discount of Rs 500 a sq ft for timely payment and 8.5 per cent rebate on down payments.

The sizes of the apartments would be of 1,210 sq ft-2,720 sq ft and would carry effective price tags between Rs 68.69 lakh and Rs 1.86 crore.

The price announced by DLF is higher than the rates at which the company had sold its flats in the first phase. DLF had launched about 1,400 units in Phase-I at a price of Rs 4,500 (2-BHK) and Rs 5,500 (3-BHK).

Goyal said the success of Capital Greens would help in boosting confidence of the real estate sector.

The project is coming up at Shivaji Marg, near Moti Nagar. In 2007, DLF had acquired the 38 acres from DCM Shriram and Lohia Group for Rs 1,675 crore.

In the National Capital, Parsvnath has two residential projects. The selling price of Subhash Nagar project is Rs 7,500 per sq ft and that of Civil Lines project is Rs 10,000 a sq ft.

Emaar MGF is selling apartments at Rs 12,700 per sq ft in its Commonwealth Games project

Ford unveils much awaited small car, Figo

23 Sep 2009

NEW DELHI: US auto giant Ford Motor Co on Wednesday unveiled its first small car for the Indian market, "Ford Figo". Ford launches small car, Figo I

New Ford Endeavour

The Figo, which is colloquial Italian for "cool", will be manufactured at the company's Chennai facility and launched in markets by early 2010.

The Chennai unit is undergoing a $500-million upgrade as Ford seeks to make India a global production hub for its small cars.

"The Figo is designed to compete in India's small car segment, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the market," said Ford's global president and chief executive Alan Mulally, who unveiled the car at a function here. \

“Our exciting new Ford Figo shows how serious we are about India,” Mulally said. “It reflects our commitment to compete with great products in all segments of this car market. We are confident the Ford Figo will be a product that Indian consumers really want and value.”

Figo leverages Ford's small-car platform architecture, sharing underlying technology with the Ford Fiesta. The press conference was the first public preview of the exterior design of the new Ford Figo.

Figo is a four-door hatchback, powered by an indigenous diesel and petrol engine. The company, however, declined to give specific details like price and engine capacity.

"Ford is reserving further details about the car till its launch in early 2010," said Mulally.

Figo, which is expected to compete with the Hyundai i20 and the Suzuki Swift, was also showcased to its dealers in Chennai recently. Ford gave a pep talk to dealers whose sales have been under pressure due to competition in the recent past.

Asked about the price range of the Figo, Michael Boneham, Ford India president and managing director, said: "It's going to be very competitive with the current market leader and will offer a tremendous value for our consumers."

Maintaining that Ford Figo would be "a big game changer" for his company, Boneham said: "It will transform our brand into a volume player in India."

Ford is also planning to double its manufacturing capacity at its Chennai facility to 200,000 units per annum by 2010.

Ford India’s portfolio includes the Ikon, Fiesta sedan, Fusion car and the Endeavour SUV.

The US auto major is keen to accelerate focus on emerging markets such as China and India with fuel-efficient products. Globally, consumers are seen to be moving towards fuel-efficient small cars and Ford India is currently present only in mid-sized cars and SUV segments.

China refutes A Q Khan's charges on nuclear proliferation

22 September 2009

BEIJING: China on Tuesday rejected suggestions that it had engaged in nuclear proliferation by getting Pakistan to share technology and materials with North Korea and Iran. China has firmly opposed the proliferation of nuclear weapons in whatever forms, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said here Tuesday.

The statement came after a London based newspaper published letters written by A Q Khan, regarded as the father of Pakistan nuclear bomb, revealing that his country helped China in enrichment technology in return for bomb blue-prints.

"As a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, China has always strictly abided by its international obligation on the non-proliferation issue," she was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

The 74-year-old Khan also revealed that the Pakistani government had pushed him to share nuclear secrets with North Korea and Iran.

Khan spills the beans on Islamabad’s nuclear fusion

21 Sep 2009, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: A Q Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, has gone public with what the world at large had always suspected — that his efforts to help out North Korea, Iran and China in building their capabilities had the backing of the Pakistani government and army.

Pakistan has all along denied that it had abetted Khan’s project, maintaining that he was doing it all alone, but the latest revelations are certain to make its claims suspect in the eyes of the US and other western nations. Khan writes about the Pakistani leadership in a December 2003 letter to his wife Henny that has finally been made public by an interlocutor. The interlocutor is a journalist contact by the name of Siman Henderson. He has now made the letters public.

“The b******* first used us and are now playing dirty games with us. If the government plays any mischief with me, I’ll take a tough stand. They might try to get rid of me to cover up all the things they got done by me,” Mr Khan writes about the Pakistani leadership. The letter was exposed by Henderson in The Sunday Times.

Describing the four-page letter as “extraordinary”, Henderson says in numbered paragraphs, it outlines Pakistan’s nuclear co-operation with China, Iran and North Korea, and also mentions Libya. Some of the disclosures are stunning, and in one para that is bound to embarrass Beijing, besides implicating it, Khan writes about how Pakistan helped China in enrichment technology in return for bomb blueprints. “We put up a centrifuge plant at Hanzhong (250 km southwest of Xian). The Chinese gave us drawings of the nuclear weapon, gave us 50 kg of enriched uranium, gave us 10 tonnes of UF6 (natural) and 5 tons of UF6 (3%),” says Khan.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Q+A-India and China's disputed border

Thu Sep 17, 2009

By Alistair Scrutton and Emma Graham-Harrison

NEW DELHI/BEIJING, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Here are some questions and answers about the Indian-Chinese border, the source this year of increasing tension between the two Asian powers.


Both still claim vast swathes of each other's territory along their 3,500 km (2,173 mile) Himalayan border after a 1962 war.

Chinese troops overran Indian military positions in parts of the Buddhist region of Ladakh and the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh before a ceasefire.

China withdrew to pre-war positions dividing the two countries along Arunachal Pradesh and now lays claim to 90,000 sq km of land on the eastern sector of this border that Beijing sees as "southern" Tibet. It kept 38,000 sq km of Ladakh, an area about the size of Taiwan, on the western stretch.

India also says Beijing is illegally holding 5,180 sq km of northern Kashmir ceded to it by Pakistan in 1963.

The ceasefire line became known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The two sides cannot even agree on the location of the LAC.


Indian media and some military commanders report a rise in the number of Chinese troop incursions, something denied by New Delhi.

Beijing has declined direct comment on the reports, as they often do on military issues, but questioned their accuracy and says it sticks firmly to a consensus that the two nations will "make joint efforts" to safeguard peace and tranquility.

This has coincided with growing disquiet over other issues. China is outspoken in its opposition to many of the activities of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is exiled in India.

He plans to visit a 400-year-old Buddhist monastery in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh state in November, a place claimed by China. Beijing sees this as a deliberate provocation.

India in turn says China upped the tension by opposing a $60 million Asian Development Bank loan for a project in Arunachal Pradesh.


The main problem is that much of the border, criss-crossing remote mountainous areas, is not demarcated. So one man's patrol is another man's incursion.

What experts say, though, is that Chinese patrols have increased in quality and frequency along with improved infrastructure, like modern highways, along the border. So the Chinese presence is, at least, "felt" more by India.

Some analysts say the news of incursions reflects leaks by an Indian military worried about the Chinese army's growing mobility and strength in the area. India lags China both in terms of infrastructure work and military strength.

China may have increased patrols to counter what it sees as an Indian military border buildup, and to more tightly monitor the borders of Tibet and Xinjiang regions, after outbreaks of deadly ethnic violence in both areas.


In India, the border issue can easily become a political football that the opposition can use against the Congress-led government, accusing leaders of not doing enough against Chinese influence. The 1962 war is burned into the Indian psyche, a defeat that still has New Delhi wary of Beijing.

China currently has little interest in stoking tensions, as it has been trying in recent years to reassure nervous Western nations that its economic rise will not be matched by military expansion; diplomats like to talk of "peaceful development".

It also celebrates 60 years of communist rule on Oct 1, and the government wants to keep media and public attention focused on parades and parties in Beijing.


Highly unlikely. Both sides are enjoying booming trade and any conflict would cause a huge amount of damage to their increasingly globalised economies.

But the border conflict is one of the major issues that stops the two Asian powers from drawing closer together.


Probably not, at least in the short to medium term. The two countries have widely divergent positions on the border and 13 rounds of talks since 2005 have yielded no results.

China strikes back on Arunachal

Sep 18, 2009

Incursion indicates China's unease over India's rise: Experts

Barely weeks after it failed in its attempt to block Asian Development Bank (ADB) funds to a project in Arunachal Pradesh, China has successfully struck back.

Last month, in a development New Delhi has been quiet about, China won a vote on a “disclosure agreement,” which prevents ADB from formally acknowledging Arunachal Pradesh as part of India. (A disclosure agreement is a formal notification of a project once it’s approved by the ADB Board).

On June 16, India had successfully isolated China — the entire ADB Board except Beijing had voted in India’s favour — and secured approval for its $2.9-billion country plan. China had raised objections to the plan because it included $60-million projects in Arunachal Pradesh. It argued that ADB cannot fund projects in “disputed areas” like Arunachal Pradesh.

Clearly, China did not give up after that defeat and the reversal is symptomatic of its growing clout. It’s learnt that India lost the vote despite US and most of the Western bloc voting in India’s favour. In what was relatively a narrow margin, the scales were tilted in China’s favour by Japan, Australia and a group of other South East Asian countries. Despite US support, India was also surprised by the fact that Australia chose to go with China. Pakistan, of course, also went with China.

Arunachal part of India: Krishna

New Delhi, Sep 17 (PTI) Asserting that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has said integrity of country's sovereignty will certainly have to be respected by China.

The minister said that both India and China are "mature" and "powerful" neighbours who needs to have trust and faith in each other.

Asked about China's objection to Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama's proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh in November and its efforts to stop Asian Development Bank from funding Indian projects in the state, Krishna said India's stand is very clear "Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India".

China has territorial claim over Arunachal Pradesh and its hackles are raised every time the Dalai Lama wants to visit that state.

"China has its own perception. India has a very clear perception about Arunachal Pradesh.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Re advances most in 6 weeks, bonds move up

17 Sep 2009

MUMBAI: The rupee had its biggest advance in more than six weeks as speculation of an economic recovery is gathering pace in the US, encouraged investors to add to holdings of emerging-market assets.

The rupee climbed 0.9% to close the day at 48.23/24 per dollar on Wednesday. That is the biggest gain since July 31 and the strongest closing level since August 13. The currency has appreciated 1.2% this month.

Offshore contracts indicate bets the rupee will trade at 48.26 to the dollar in a month, compared with expectations for a rate of 49.74 at the end of last week.

Currencies and shares rose across most of Asia’s emerging markets after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday the worst US recession since the 1930s “is very likely over,” and a report showed retail sales in the world’s biggest economy increased the most in three years.

“The rupee is stronger because of the fund flows the stock market is attracting,” said Krishnamurthy Harihar, a Mumbai-based treasurer at the Indian unit of FirstRand, South Africa’s second-largest financial services company. “The near-term outlook is for the rupee to gain as it seems unlikely the economic stimulus packages will be withdrawn anytime soon.”

In the bond market, the benchmark 10-year papers gained for a fourth day, the best run since the notes were issued two months ago, after RBI offered to buy existing debt at an auction on Thursday.

Yields on most-traded notes due 2019 fell to the lowest level in a month after RBI said on Tuesday that it will purchase as much as Rs 6,000 crore ($1.2 billion) of securities. The government is scheduled to borrow record amounts in the fiscal year ending March 31.

Tharoor's taunt on austerity angers Congress

16 September 2009
New Delhi, Sep 16: The Congress Wednesday said Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor's remarks that he would travel in "cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows" were not acceptable and the party high command may also decide if any disciplinary action is to be taken against him.

"The party strongly disapproves the statement of the minister. It is unacceptable, not respecting political or any other sensibilities," said Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan.

On his page on the micro-blogging site Twitter, Tharoor was asked, "Tell us minister, next time you travel to Kerala, will it be cattle class?" His reply: "Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows."

Asked whether any disciplinary action would be taken against the former UN diplomat, the spokesperson said: "This is something that the high command will decide."

The Congress and the government it leads have launched an austerity drive against the backdrop of drought in some parts of the country and rising prices of essential commodities.

Tharoor as well as External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna were asked earlier this month to move out of five-star hotels where they had been staying for over three months - though at their own expense.

Tharoor, who was staying at the Hotel Taj Mahal on Man Singh Road, is now staying at an Indian Navy guesthouse.

Don't break the law, Rudd warns Indians

17 September 2009

Sydney: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Thursday warned students from India not to take the law into their own hands after writer and activist Farrukh Dhondy reportedly urged Indians in the country for "some form of retaliation" following the brutal assault on four Indians in Melbourne. Dhondy has urged Indians in Australia to take matters into their own hands, The Age reported Thursday.

"There really has to be some form of retaliation from the Indian community as a whole. India has to stand up," he told ABC Radio.

Rudd said Australia was a law-abiding nation.

"The laws are there for a purpose and that is for all citizens to adhere to them," he was quoted as saying by The Age.

When asked what message he had for anyone who took the law into their own hands, Rudd said: "People should not".

The four Indians were attacked by a group outside a bar in Epping Saturday and the attackers told the victims "You Indians, just go back to your country".

The attack comes as Victoria's Premier John Brumby prepares to go on a mission to India to help repair Australia's reputation.

The victims say they were bashed by up to 70 people in a car park in High Street at Epping Saturday night.

But the police say there were only four or five offenders, although there were another 15 people making racist comments.

There have been a string of attacks on Indian students since May this year. The attacks have caused an uproar in India.

India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna was assured by Canberra that students from India would be taken care of.

The latest attack takes place after a brief lull in such incidents in which the victims maintain that the assaults were racially motivated.

The brother-in-law of two of the victims, Onkar Singh, had told ABC's AM programme that his relatives have suffered serious injuries.

"Sukhdip got very badly injured in that, and Gurdeep has his jaw broken, and Mukhtair's (the uncle) shoulder is broken," he was quoted as saying.

"When the attack happened there was a lot of people, about 70 and they might have run away or something because they can all see the whole car park was full with them

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Equities end sharply higher; Nifty shies away from 4900

15 Sep 2009, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: Equities ended on a strong note Tuesday buoyed by strong advance tax numbers reported by India Inc suggesting robust quarterly earnings. Realty, metals and banking stocks were frontrunners in the rally.

National Stock Exchange’s Nifty shied away from the 4900 mark to settle at provisional 4893.05, up 1.76 per cent or 84.45 points. The index surged to a high of 4899.45 after opening at 4808.35.

Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex ended at 16,448.66, higher by 1.45 per cent or 234.47 points from the previous close. The index touched a high of 16,477.23 and low of 16,255.42 intra-day.

The BSE Midcap Index climbed 1.66 per cent and BSE Smallcap Index rose 1.38 per cent.

BSE Realty Index surged 4.1 per cent, BSE Metal Index climbed 3.76 per cent and BSE Bankex advanced 2.56 per cent.

Significant gains in Jindal Steel (3.2%), DLF (2.99%), Nalco (2.89%), Sterlite Industries (2.36%) and Unitech (2.08%) drove the Nifty higher.

ONGC (-0.98%), Bharti Airtel (-0.88%) and Hindustan Unilever (-0.33%) were the laggards in the 550-share index.

Market breadth on BSE was extremely strong with 1770 advances against 1014 declines.

Monday, September 14, 2009

India elect to bat against Sri Lanka

14 September 2009

NEW DELHI: Indian skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat against Sri Lanka in the Tri-series final at the R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo on Monday.

Team India will look to get back the confidence by winning the final before the Champions Trophy. They had started off well in the tournament but failed to keep the momentum and were defeated by the Lankans in the last match.

On the other hand Sri Lanka will be high on confidence after defeating both the visitors in the Tri-series tournament so far.

India have made only one change, Virat Kohli has replaced Dinesh Karthik, while Sri Lanka retained the same team that beat the Indians by 139 runs on Saturday.

Anil Ambani group seeks to join NTPC-Reliance Industries row

14 Sep 2009

NEW DELHI: The Anil Ambani group Monday moved the Supreme Court, seeking to intervene in the dispute between state-run power utility NTPC and the Reliance Industries' KG-D6 facility

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries over natural gas supplies from the Krishna-Godavari basin.

The petition said both Reliance Natural Resources of the Anil Ambani group and NTPC have common issues in their disputes with Reliance Industries over supplies of natural gas from the said fields at $2.34 per unit for a period of 17 years.

"It is submitted that the issues that arise in the case filed by NTPC in this honourable court directly affect Reliance Natural Resources' case against Reliance Industries," the application said.

"It is just as necessary that Reliance Natural Resources is permitted to be impleaded as a party in the present case."

The application said Reliance Industries was making one pretext or the other to wriggle out of its commitment to both NTPC and Reliance Natural Resources in the supply of natural gas.

"Reliance Industries is abusing the process of law to frustrate the lawful commitments to both NTPC and Reliance Natural Resources."

The petition also sought to highlight the observations made in the government's petition that quoted the law minister as having told a ministerial panel that the two cases being fought against Reliance Industries were different.

"We have to keep these cases beyond the scope of our deliberations and take a decision in general on New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) pricing issue," the government application had said, quoting from the minutes of the ministerial panel meeting.

The application by Reliance Natural Resources to the apex court Monday came a day after it accused the Mukesh Ambani-led company of charging an "illegal and unauthorised" marketing margin on sale of gas from the Krishna-Godvari basin.

The company said this would lead to a loss of Rs.10,000 crore to the government.

"The so-called marketing margin is nothing but a device illegally adopted by Reliance Industries to charge a higher sale price, without even paying the lawful share of such revenues to the government.

RIL keen on buying Cairn's oil from Rajasthan fields

14 Sep 2009, PTI

GADIMOGA: Reliance Industries is keen on buying Cairn India's Rajasthan crude oil but said it cannot take the oil unless the pipeline from fields to Gujarat coast is built.

RIL wants 30,000 to 60,000 barrels per day of Cairn crude at each of its two refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat.

"We want Rajasthan crude but have no facility to receive (oil in) tankers," RIL Executive Director P M S Prasad told reporters here.

Cairn, which began crude oil production from its prolific Rajasthan fields on August 29, will transport initial volumes to refiners by trucks and tankers. A pipeline from the Barmer district fields to Gujarat coast will be completed by the year-end.

"We will be willing to take Rajasthan crude once the pipeline is completed," he said.

The government has so far nominated Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Mangalore Refinery to buy the Rajasthan crude. But the three have committed to lift only a small portion of the 175,000 bpd peak output from the fields, necessitating sale to private refiners.

Essar Oil, the only other private refiner in the country, has also written to the Petroleum Ministry seeking 30,000 bpd of Rajasthan crude this year and 120,000 bpd by 2011 when it expands its Vadinar refinery in Gujarat.

By-poll results give BJP reason to smile

Ahmedabad/Dehradun: In a morale-boosting performance after the Lok Sabha defeat, the ruling BJP today wrested five Assembly seats from Congress in Gujarat and won one each in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where the party got a majority in the state Assembly.

In Gujarat, the BJP wrested Jasdan, Chotila, Dehgam, Danta and Sami-Hariz from Congress while it lost Kodinar to the main opposition party which retained Dhoraji. Out of the seven Assembly seats in Gujarat where by-polls were held on September 10, six were held by the Congress while one was with BJP.

With today's win, BJP's strength in the 182-member Assembly goes up to 122 while that of Congress 54. Others account for six. The by-elections results will come as a great relief for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, after the unimpressive performance in the Lok Sabha polls and defeat to Congress in Junagadh Municipal Corporation body elections.

In the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won 15 of the 26 seats with the rest going to the Congress. The by-polls were considered to be test of popularity of Modi, who chose to abstain from campaigning. Party cadres and workers celebrated throughout the state. BJP also secured a wafer-thin majority on its own in the Uttarakhand Assembly by winning the Vikasnagar seat, taking its tally to 36 in the 70-member House.

In Madhya Pradesh, the ruling BJP wrested Tendukheda from Congress which retained Gohad seat. In Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim, ruling Congress and Sikkim Democratic Front respectively won Tekkali and Namchi-Singhithang seats.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pakistani forces fire rockets at India, BSF retaliates

12 Sep 2009 PTI

AMRITSAR: Pakistani forces tonight fired two rockets towards Indian territory which fell in agriculture fields in two adjacent villages, drawing retaliation from BSF using machine guns.

There was, however, no casualty on the Indian side in the Pakistani action, BSF Inspector General Himmat Singh said.

Singh said Pakistan fired rockets which landed in an open area at villages Modhey and Dhoneya Khurd at around 10 pm after which the BSF troops hit back by opening fire from machine guns.

He said BSF authorities got in touch with their Pakistani counterparts for a flag meeting where India would lodge a strong protest against the action.

Team India now No 1 ODI team

Colombo, Sep 12

It is not official yet. But, for the first time, India on Friday climbed to the number one spot in the International Cricket Council’s one-day rankings. The ICC’s official website, updated after Friday’s match, shows India at the top of the pecking order.

The six-wicket win over New Zealand in the tri-series here powered India past South Africa as the top one-day side in the ICC rankings system introduced seven years ago, in October 2002. The emphatic win over the Kiwis helped India to accumulate 128 ratings points, one more than South Africa’s 127 rating points.

Australia, which has consistently been the top side since the introduction of the ICC rankings system, are in third position with 124 points.

The table reflects results in all one-day internationals played since August 2007. In that period, India have amassed 3,443 points in 27 matches, giving it 127.52 ratings points, while South Africa have 2280 points from 18 matches for a ratings points of 126.67.

But India could slip back from the top position even before the ICC officially acknowledges the position that emerged in the wake of the Friday win. That is because the official announcement of the weekly rankings is due only next week.

Before that happens Dhoni’s boys will be playing two more matches here, both against Sri Lanka. They must win both the matches to stay on top of the charts.
If India lose one of the two remaining matches, they will drop to 126 ratings points and slip back to the second spot before the weekly rankings are announced next week. Worse still, two successive defeats will mean a drop to 123 ratings points which will push India down to the third position, below Australia. But this will also depend on the result of the fourth one-dayer between Australia and England at Lord’s on Saturday.

India meet Sri Lanka in the final league tie of the competition on Saturday, and face the same opposition in the final on Monday.

With Sri Lanka ranked sixth in the one-day table, India stand to lose more rating points if they don’t get the better of the hosts than they will gain in the event of their success over the 1996 World Cup winners.

Cockpit vs cabin

The Indian Express Sep 11, 2009

A young woman, who works as part of Jet’s ground crew, told reporters that the pilots are paid “salary which amounts to 40 per cent of the company’s revenue. But they are forgetting the rest of us.” In a few words, the Jet employee has summed up the farcical nature of the Jet pilots’ claim to be a genuine trade union. For those institutions, however perverse the incentives they supply, however they deteriorate into goondaism and insider-privilege, can at least claim — however doubtfully — to represent vulnerable employees regardless of rank or station. It was the final indication, as if any more was needed, that the pilots’ strike is nothing more than white-collar activism of the most contemptible sort.

At around this time last year, during the festive season, Jet Airways sacked about 850 employees. Of course, they sacked the lower-paid ones, groundstaff and flight attendants. At that point India saw genuine employee outrage, and this newspaper took a stand that the firing was badly done, and clearly an attempt by the airlines to put pressure on the government. The visual image of last October, of young people proud to wear their employers’ uniform but speaking out against injustice, meshes well with this September, of the same young people proud to wear that uniform, and speaking out against unfairness again - but this time of another selfish clique.

Jet pilots' strike: Talks fail, deadlock continues

11 Sep 2009, PTI

NEW DELHI: Conciliation talks between Jet Airways pilots and the management to end the four-day pilots' stir remained deadlocked tonight, as the Chaos at airports Full Report:

The marathon nine -hour talks before the Chief Labour Commissioner here where the pilots and the management representatives came face to face for the first time since the stir started on Tuesday were inconclusive.

Further talks where only the two sides will be present will resume in Mumbai tomorrow, according to Capt Girish Kaushik, the president of the pilots' body National Aviators Guild (NAG) leading the stir. Kaushik said the pilots will not resume work "as of now" and the stir will continue but was hopeful of a solution tomorrow.

A solution to end the stir which has severely disrupted flights affecting thousands of passengers was widely expected on the first day of conciliation talks today especially after the two sides were reported to have worked out a broad understanding last night to break the impasse.

Sources said the talks saw a lot of hard bargaining by the two sides especially over issues which have a larger impact on the employees of the private airline.

Labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge raised prospects of an early end to the stir saying he was confident of a solution and was expecting it "within 48 hours."

Besides Chief Labour Commissioner S K Upadhyay, the conciliation proceedings were attended by Jet executive director Saroj Dutta, CEO Hafiz Ali and head of operations Capt Mohan. The NAG was also represented by Capt Sam Thomas and Capt.Balraman.

Kaushik said the Jet management has agreed to take back the four sacked pilots but Datta said everything is under discussion. "The talks itself are inconclusive," Dutta said.

Sterlite ups Asarco offer

12 Sep 2009, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: Metals major Sterlite Industries on Friday raised its bid for acquiring Asarco, the third-largest copper company in the US, for the third time in two months. The Anil Agarwal-controlled company said the revised bid would now include an all-cash offer of $2.56 billion (about Rs 12,300 crore at current exchange rates), compared with its earlier bid of $2.13 billion that was rejected by the Texas Bankruptcy Court, which had recommended rival Grupo Mexico’s offer instead.

“After extensive discussions and review, in order to provide full cash payment to asbestos creditors and to allow late file claims and to provide for surplus cash... for the smooth operations of Asarco, Sterlite increased its offer,” Sterlite said in a statement to BSE.

Sterlite’s latest announcement is a shade better than rival Grupo Mexico’s offer, which consisted of $2.2 billion in cash plus a $280-million promissory note to the creditors.

The District Court in Texas is taking a final view of the two competing bids and the court is expected to pronounce its judgement by September-end.

The bid to acquire Asarco, which started last year, was described as one of India’s largest buyout deals, before the financial collapse last September led to a devaluation in Sterlite’s offer price.

Acquisition of copper mines and an entry into the US market were the main reasons for the contest between Sterlite and Grupo Mexico to own Asarco.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

India monitoring Chinese activities: Krishna

10 September 2009

New Delhi: Downplaying incursions into Indian territory, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Thursday said India was closely monitoring the Chinese build-up along Arunachal Pradesh. "Incursions here and there should not be magnified. We have a long border with China and an ongoing relationship that we would want to see developing into a partnership," Krishna told the Headlines Today in an interview.

"Teams from both sides are going through the entire gamut of border issues and have already met 13 times," he said, referring to 13 rounds of talks the special representatives of India and China have held to resolve their long-standing border dispute.

"We have been monitoring the Chinese build-up along Arunachal Pradesh and elsewhere. Our defence preparedness is a continuing process," Krishna said when asked what India was doing to counter China's military and infrastructure build-up in Tibet and along the borders.

India's northeastern state Arunachal Pradesh is claimed in its entirety by China.

Krishna also sought to dispel apprehensions in sections in India about what some see as the growing Nepal-China bonhomie. "Nepal understands our security concerns and has reassured us that it won't let any other country use its soil to work against us," Krishna said.

Early this week, Krishna said whenever any incursions took place, the two sides tried to resolve the issue through flag meetings and diplomatic channels.

According to the India-China 2005 protocol, a flag meeting for clarification is to be called within 48 hours of any air intrusion. The incident then has to be investigated by the country accused of intrusion and the result communicated to the other country within four weeks.

Jet crisis: From takeoff to turbulence

10 September 2009

NEW DELHI: Every time an angry passenger goes on a TV channel to narrate his ordeal due to the pilots’ strike, Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal immediately calls up senior Jet officials from his “war room” — a suite in a Delhi five-star hotel — and demands an explanation.

Clearly, he is battling to save the image of his 16-year-old airline that has set high standards in passenger service. But some costly ‘misadventures’ in the past few years, along with the current downturn — and now this pilot revolt — mean that the 59-year-old Goyal has a big battle ahead.

Jet Airways was founded in 1993 and over the next few years established itself as a leading Indian player, becoming a case study for inflight excellence. Possibly excited by this euphoria, industry insiders say, the management made its first big gamble by eying Air Sahara in 2006. Apart from Jet and Air India, Sahara was among the only three Indian carriers that flew abroad during that period. Goyal moved in to buy Sahara a year later for a whopping Rs 1,450 crore. Jet fulfilled its desire to be the only private Indian carrier to fly abroad in 2006 but it also flew into a financial air pocket.

Acquiring Sahara meant a huge drain on Jet’s resources, both on financial and management fronts. All this happened at a time when the concept of low-cost carriers was completing two years in India. The domestic aviation market was growing at 30-40% and players like Air Deccan were challenging the might of full service carriers. Not surprisingly, Jet has been constantly incurring losses since 2007-08.

"Buying Sahara was a big strategic mistake by Jet. This happened at a time when Jet was growing aggressively internationally and facing tremendous competition in local market," Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) India head Kapil Kaul says. With domestic market getting new players, Jet focussed on international expansion and lost nearly 10% market share in two years. For instance, the international departures rose from 1,731 in October-December 2006 period to 3,198 for same quarter next year.

The first sign of real trouble in Jet became apparent exactly a year ago when Goyal did the unthinkable by entering into an operational tieup with arch rival Vijay Mallaya’s Kingfisher. This step was followed by Jet sacking 1,900 cabin crew. Following the political uproar, Jet had to reverse the order. But in the past one year it has gradually retrenched close to 2000 employees.

Possibly, Jet could have weathered this crisis had the global economy not gone into a tail spin. The full service model virtually became redundant in the domestic market and Jet responded by launching Konnect this April and shifting most of its domestic operations to LCC section. Over 20% domestic capacity has been cut and today the airline has 280 daily flights within India and 100 overseas.

Saddled with losses and a debt burden of nearly $3 billion, Goyal embarked on an ambitious saving programme of nearly $600 million that saw staff being retrenched; loss-making flights withdrawn and salaries of senior officials slashed by up to 25%.

This cost-cutting meant giving up things that Goyal fought for dearly. For instance, he tried hard and finally got clearance to operate a Mumbai-Shanghai-San Francisco flight. But with this flight’s loss meter clocking up $57 million, this flight was stopped. Similarly, several loss-making domestic flights facing overcapacity were diverted to nearby international routes.

But the high-profile labour unrest in the form of pilots reporting sick en masse could not have come at a worse time for the airline. Cost-cutting could entail pay cuts and possible retrenchments in the 13,000 employee-strong airline. “Having a belligerent union at this time means trouble. Moreover, the airline is also looking at raising $400 million from the market. Investors also don’t like to put in money with troubled labour relations. Most airlines across the world have not had a good fate ever since unions became strong. Air India and Alitalia are classic examples,” says an industry insider.

Goyal’s fight to take the airline to its old position of strength will no doubt be an uphill task. Jet shares were first listed in 2005 for Rs 1,100. The scrip has never touched that level and closed at

Rs 262.55 on Wednesday. Its high and low price in past year has been Rs 551 and Rs 115. Interestingly, during the pilot stir, Jet shares have risen marginally, lending credence to the current aviation wisdom — airlines lose more by flying than by having planes parked at airports.

On his part, Goyal admits that the industry and his airline are facing the toughest challenge ever. “But along with my employees, I will weather the storm and Jet will remain the one company that had made India proud. For me, Jet is a symbol of Indian excellence and it will remain that. If anyone tries to change the core belief of the airline on excellence, I will not hesitate to close it down,” he said.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nifty, Sensex end at new 52-week highs

7 Sep 2009, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: The Indian stock market indices touched new 2009 highs on Monday, taking cues from the positive global markets. Much to dealers delight, the market has doubled up from March lows in just six months.

“There is upside in the market based on funds flow and earnings in the first quarter. Based on tax holdings and other seasonal factors, earnings per share on the Sensex could be quite a bit higher than the consensus and probably highest on the street right now. So our thought is that market could potentially break out.

One concern that has developed last week is on the interest rate side. The consumer price index readings are becoming quite serious and I don’t think the Reserve Bank of India can ignore it for too long. So probably by the end of this calendar year, the RBI may increase rates and that may affect interest rate sensitive sectors,” said Pankaj Vaish, MD, Nomura Financials.

After trading range bound for quite sometime, the indices finally broke out of reistance levels and charted new territory. Bombay Stock Exchange ended at 16,016.32, up 327.20 points or 2.09 per cent. The index touched an intra-day high of 16,035.50 and low of 15793.27.

National Stock Exchange’s Nifty closed at 4782.90, up 102.5 points or 2.19 per cent from Friday’s close. The broader index hit a high of 4790 and low of 4679.30.

"Market has finally managed to break out of crucial resistance levels. Benchmarks are moving in a fresh range and next target for Nifty is seen at 5050/5300. We expect large moves in midcaps segment," said a senior market analyst.

Analysts are expecting the upmove to continue provided Asian markets don’t falter (US markets are shut Monday for Labor Day), but the relatively low volumes raise doubts over strength of the upmove.

Traders continued to pick up stocks from the mid and small cap space, which are playing a catch-up game with the index stocks. BSE Midcap Index was up 2.31 per cent and BSE Smallcap Index moved 2.83 per cent higher.

Oil India IPO Fully Subscribed

MUMBAI -- The $570 million initial public offer of Oil India Ltd. was fully subscribed within an hour of its opening Monday, suggesting that investor appetite for Indian share sales is still alive.

"The issue has been fully subscribed. Most of the bids are at the top end of the price band," an investment banker, who didn't wish to be named, told Dow Jones Newswires.

The issue has been priced in an indicative band of 950 rupees ($19.5)-1,050 rupees.

Latest data from the National Stock Exchange - which doesn't include bids on the Bombay Stock Exchange - showed the issue was subscribed 0.91 times.

The issue of nearly 26.45 million shares received almost 24.05 million bids, according to data on the NSE Web site. Bidding for the issue closes Thursday.

Earlier in the past fortnight, Adani Power Ltd. and NHPC Ltd. made muted debuts on the bourses, despite encouraging subscriptions, raising questions on investor appetite for fresh paper.

Market participants expected a spillover from these muted debuts to affect sentiment towards Oil India.

The Indian primary markets have seen fresh activity over the past couple of months after a 15-month lull, following the global credit crisis.

"The book getting fully subscribed seems to be bids from the qualified institutional subscribers, which isn't really exciting and along expected lines. Subscriptions on the retail and high net worth individual section is a better indicator of investor sentiment," said National Stock Exchange member S.P. Tulsian.

The oil and gas company intends to use the issue proceeds for exploration activities, developing its production fields and buying equipment.

At least 60% of the net issue will be allocated to qualified institutional buyers, 10% to high net worth individuals and the remaining 30% to retail investors.

JM Financial Consultants Pvt. Ltd., Morgan Stanley Co. India Pvt. Ltd., Citigroup Global Markets India Pvt. Ltd. and HSBC Securities & Capital Markets (India) Pvt. Ltd. are the lead arrangers to the issue.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Jagan's supporters demand he be made next Andhra CM

Hyderabad, Sep 6 (PTI) Notwithstanding the Congress high command's call for restraint till the period of mourning for Y S Rajasekhara Reddy is over, supporters of his son Y S Jaganmohan Reddy today openly demonstrated their demand for making him the next Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.

The emotional outpouring of their demand apparently in a bid to put pressure on the Congress leadership was made at the end of a condolence meeting for Rajasekhara Reddy organised by the state PCC at its headquarters here in the presence of interim Chief Minister K Rosaiah, PCC President D Srinivas, Union Minister S Jaipal Reddy and a couple of YSR detractors V Hanumant Rao and K Kesava Rao.

Jaganmohan leaves for Hyderabad

Idupulapaya (Kadapa), Sept 6 (PTI) Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who is being projected as the next chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, left for Hyderabad today, two days after his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was laid to rest here.

Accompanied by his mother Vijayalakshmi and sister Sharmila, he left by a helicopter.

Though the Congress high command has sought to restrain his supporters from openly campaigning for making him the next chief minister, his presence in Hyderabad is expected to again galvanise the drive.

Meanwhile, a multi-religious prayer meeting to condole the death of Rajasekhara Reddy was held at the state Congress headquarter, Gandhi Bhavan, in Hyderabad.

Interim Chief Minister K Rosaiah, PCC President D Srinivas, former Chief Minister Janardhan Reddy, Union Minister S Jaipal Reddy and Rajya Sabha member T Subbirami Reddy were among those present on the occasion.

India to invest $10bn in IMF, says Pranab

5 September 2009

LONDON: India is set to invest up to $10 billion in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of a major thrust to wrest a greater say in the running of international financial institutions, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee announced on Friday.

"India has decided to invest up to $10 billion of its reserves in notes issued by the International Monetary Fund," Mukherjee said after a meeting of the finance ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) in London. The Indian pledge is part of a total of $80 billion that the four BRIC countries will invest into the IMF in order to replenish its fund aimed at helping out countries that are struggling in the current financial crisis.

China will account for $50 billion of this amount, and the rest will be borne by India, Russia and Brazil. In return, the BRIC countries want a greater say in the running of the IMF and other international financial institutions such as the World Bank, including a larger share of quotas and voting, said Brazil's finance minister Guido Mantega.

Part of the BRIC meeting was joined by US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner in a move that Mukherjee described as "an acknowledgement of the group's emergence as a key voice in global economic and financial issues".

Re-energising Doha Round, India leads the way

NEW DELHI: The ‘successful’ conclusion of the Ministerial Meeting on re-energising the Doha Round of WTO talks has put India in a commanding position as it has assumed the leadership of not only getting the talks moving but also becoming the voice of the developing nations, poor countries and various regional blocks.

The two-day Ministerial engagement witnessed “informal talks” between India and various regional blocks on how to cater to the interests of the poor and developing countries and ensure that their issues and concerns are addressed without any compromise.

“India is showing leadership. India stands firm. The entire developing world is looking towards India and we will take care of their interests during the negotiations in Geneva,” Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma remarked at the end of the meet.

While the trade ministers from 35 nations were engaged in making their point of view known behind closed doors, Indian officials and particularly Mr. Sharma engaged the African-Caribbean Pacific Group, the Least Development Countries (LDCs), and the African Group and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in their individual capacity to work out a common platform for representation in the talks when they are scheduled to formally resume at Geneva on September 14.

“India took the initiative to put together a ‘rainbow coalition’ and made inclusiveness as the focal point.

Its attempts to re-energise the Doha Round have made substantial progress. We did not go in to technicalities but have various reaffirmations from different groups.

India has emerged as the focal point in this whole affair where the issues of food security and livelihood are of prime importance to us and the other developed and poor nations,” Mr. Sharma said at the end of the talks.

“All the participating ministers of the informal meeting were unanimously appreciative of India’s effort to revive the flagging negotiations by bringing together such a widely representative group of WTO groups, representing practically all shades of opinion and interests at the WTO in an effort to bring about a broad-based consensus on the road ahead for the Doha Development Round,” Mr. Sharma said.

Russia, China, Brazil endorse India's stand on protectionism

5 Sep 2009, PTI

LONDON: India's stand that protectionism remains a real threat to the global economy and emerging economies need to guard against tendencies in some developed nations to extend it beyond trade to financial markets and investment has been endorsed by Russia, China and Brazil.

A joint communique issued at the end of the two-hour meeting of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries' Finance Ministers here last evening asserted that "protectionism remains a real threat to the global economy and should be avoided, both in direct and indirect forms."

Addressing a press conference along with his counterparts from Brazil, China and Russia, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that "emerging markets also need to guard against tendencies in some developed countries to extend protectionism beyond trade to financial markets and investment."

He said it could "collectively undermine not only growth in developing countries but also the hard earned welfare gains from globalisation."

The communique also emphasised that the reform of international financial institutions is crucial to ensuring a stable and balanced global economy.

"For the IMF and the World Bank Group, the main governance problem, which severely undermines their legitimacy, is the unfair distribution of quotas, shares and voting power. Priority should be given to a substantial shift of quotas and shares in favour of emerging markets and developing countries," the communique said.

"We propose the setting of a target for that shift of the order of 7 per cent in the IMF and 6 per cent in the World Bank Group so as to reach an equitable distribution of voting power between advanced and developing countries," it said, adding "this would lead the overall share of emerging markets and developing countries in the IMF and World Bank to correspond roughly to their share in world GDP."

Emphasising that emerging markets were not the cause of the ongoing financial crisis as their financial systems were conservatively regulated, Mukherjee said "their growth prospects have nevertheless been badly damaged. It is particularly gratifying that BRIC countries are leading the global recovery."

Stating that he expected India to grow between 6-7 per cent in both 2009 and 2010 on the back of strong fiscal and monetary measures that saw the central bank repeatedly lowering its benchmark interest rates by 425 basis points over a short period following the Lehman debacle, he added that government has also tried to cover the fall in private demand through fiscal stimulus equipment to 3-4 per cent of the GDP in 2008-09, and this is being carried through to 2009-10.

Mukherjee, however, cautioned that a return to earlier levels of 9 per cent trend growth in India on a sustainable basis hinged on stabilisation of western markets.

"The recovery would be greatly assisted if international trade is kept open. In this context, we are keen for an early, successful conclusion of the stalled Doha Round," he said.

The BRIC countries expressed their support for an open and merit-based selection of IMF and World Bank management. "The next Managing Director of the IMF and the next President of the World Bank should be elected in such a manner, irrespective of nationality or any geographical preference," the communique said.

They also supported a revision in the composition of the executive boards of the IMF and the World Bank, of the IMFC and of the Development committee to allow for a more adequate representation of the emerging markets and developing countries.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Will son Jagan step into YSR's shoes?

4 September 2009

NEW DELHI: While the Congress legislature party in Andhra Pradesh will meet after the mourning period for Y S Rajasekhara Reddy is over, the party high command could be looking for the right mix of experience and loyalty in deciding who will inherit the dead chieftain's mantle.

Congress leaders tasked to assess the political situation are being careful in airing their views with a senior minister saying the succession issue was not on the table at present. Apart from guarding against media speculation as tenancy of a key state is very much a concern for the leadership, there is a lack of obvious choices to fill a large void.

Party sources tended to agree that Congress would not like to experiment at the present juncture and look for a leader who could carry factions and keep the government on a steady course. There is a lot at stake as various factions in the state have been kept in check by YSR's dominance. The party also hopes that the YSR's cremation and the next few days, will allow emotions to ebb.

Even though the party leadership sees the upsurge in favour of YSR's son Jagan Reddy as an "emotional reaction", the family's interests would be kept in mind. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has considered YSR to be close to her and party leaders are pretty certain that his son Jagan Reddy will be very much part of her calculations. Whether this would extend to the CM's post is not clear.

Some Congress MPs felt the rush by YSR loyalists to sign a petition could be counter-productive as the leader's cremation has not even taken place. It does seem obvious the Reddy and backward caste (BC) factors would have to be taken into consideration. The two communities have backed Congress and it is felt that anyone who is now made CM will have the benefit of a grace period as political rivals will have to offer some deference to YSR's memory.

In this context the name of MoS defence Pallam Raju is seen as a possibility. The Kakinada MP is seen to have a good image and is in the good books of the Congress leadership and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. NTR's daughter and MoS HRD D Purandeshwari is seen as having done well in government but is a Kamma, a caste not compatible with the Congress in Andhra Pradesh at all.

Senior minister S Jaipal Reddy was being seen as a leader who met the experience and loyalty test but he was also an obvious choice for the media to discuss. But he has been out of state politics for decades and is still a bit of an "outsider" in the party, being out of the loop in terms of Congress politics at the Centre. The minister himself is understood to be chary of the job.

State Congress chief D Srinivas is a BC and a contender for the post and is also seen in positive light by the Congress leadership. However, he suffers the disadvantage of having lost the last Assembly polls.

Despite known names being discussed, party sources admitted that it was very difficult to predict just who could make the cut. It is a situation where, given YSR's long stint in politics and his nearly six years as CM, no one seems to be close to looking a like-for-like choice.

Succession row: A section pushes for YSR's son

4 Sep 2009, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: A succession row sparked off in Andhra Pradesh within hours of chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy being declared dead. Officially, Chopper mystery
Congress has refused to entertain questions on the succession issue, postponing it till the mourning period is over.

The hunt for a successor to Y S R Reddy is unlikely to be easy. There is apprehension that ugly factionalism, which marked the Andhra Pradesh unit of Congress in the pre-YSR days, is likely to rear its head again. Some leaders fear that the absence of YSR’s iron hand will turn the clock back for the AP Congress.

Already a sizeable section of the state unit is claiming the state’s top job for YSR’s son Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, whose tenure in politics is just about 100-day old. Other names doing the rounds include those of Union urban development minister Jaipal Reddy, Union minister of state for HRD D Purandeshwari and PCC chief D Srinivas.

In a bid to maintain order for the time being, state finance minister K Rosaiah was sworn in as the caretaker chief minister on Thursday. Keeping the final decision in abeyance, state AICC in-charge Veerappa Moily described Mr Rosaiah’s appointment as an “interim arrangement”. Mr Rosaiah’s name as the interim chief minister was cleared by the Congress high command.

Part of the problem that the Congress high command faces in selecting a suitable successor to YSR is the absence of powerful second rung of leaders in the state. The late chief minister brought in stability in the APCC by marginalising important and older leaders in the state. Leaders like Janardhan Reddy were over the time sidelined.

Given that a vast majority of the Andhra legislators were handpicked by YSR, there is a strong interest in maintaining status quo situation and they are batting for his son. This demand was reiterated when Mr Rosaiah met with the members of YSR’s cabinet shortly after being sworn in. It would appear that nearly 10 ministers were of the view that since YSR’s successor should be “a person who thinks on his lines and cares for the poor”, his son would be the best bet.

For second day, Andhra Pradesh shuts down to mourn YSR's death

4 September 2009

HYDERABAD: Normal life across Andhra Pradesh came to a crippling halt on Friday as the state mourned the death of chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy who died in a helicopter crash on Wednesday.

Schools, colleges, offices, shops and business establishments remained closed as a mark of respect to the leader, whose last rites will be performed in his native town Pulivendula in Kadapa district later on Friday.

Hundreds of mourners continue to pour in at the chief minister's camp office, where YSR's body lies in state. The body will be shifted to LB Stadium to enable people to pay their last respects, before being flown to his native town.

While the roads around the camp office in Begumpet and LB Stadium were teeming with mourners, the streets in the rest of the state capital wore a deserted look. The usual morning bustle was missing as the government declared a two-day holiday -- Thursday and Friday.

Vehicular traffic was off the roads while all petrol pumps remained shut for the second day, causing severe inconvenience to people. Even public transport was off the roads and only a few taxis were plying.

The IT companies in this technology hub also declared a holiday. Banks and even ATMs of most banks were closed. Hotels and cinema halls downed shutters too.

Telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) also declared a holiday for all its offices in the state as a mark of respect to YSR. Parks and restaurants were deserted as well.

The state government has declared a seven-day mourning period. Cable TV operators took all entertainment channels off air. They are airing only news channels.

The situation is similar in all major towns across the state. Holding black flags, Congress activists were roaming on their motor bikes in coastal city Visakhapatnam and in Vijayawada.

Guntur, Ongole, Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram, Nellore, Tirupati, Puttaparthi, Kurnool, Kadpa, Anantapur, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal and all other towns remained completely shut for the second day.

Congress activists, YSR's admirers and followers gathered at various places in the towns and paid floral tributes to the departed leader. At some places, people lit candles and raised slogans of "long live YSR".

Thousands of tearful mourners pay last respect to YSR

Thursday , Sep 03, 2009

Thousands of mourners on Friday swarmed the city to bid a tearful adieu to Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday, on his final journey to his native Kadapa district.

The body of 60-year-old YSR, the man who revived the Congress party's fortunes in Andhra Pradesh in 2004 after a 10-year hiatus, will be laid to rest in his hometown of Pulivendula in Kadapa at 5 p.m. today.

The last journey began from his house in Begumpet here after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and top Congress leaders paid homage and placed wreaths on his body.

Wrapped in tri-colour and kept in a bedecked open army truck, the body was taken first to Gandhi Bhavan-the state headquarters of Congress-in Nampally here to chants of 'YSR

Thereafter, the funeral cortege moved out of the premises and moved along a designated route towards the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, where the late chief minister's body will lie in state till about 1 pm to allow the general public and the political leadership to pay their last respects. It will then be flown to his native village for final rites.

Campaign for making YSR's son chief minister

3 September 2009

HYDERABAD: Within hours of the official confirmation on Thursday that chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had indeed died in a helicopter crash in the forests of Kurnool district a day earlier, a public clamour and a silent campaign has begun for making YSR’s son and Kadapa Congress MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy the next CM of the state.

While several senior leaders including a Rajya Sabha member are said to be carrying out the silent campaign, several MPs, MLAs, party leaders and workers who had assembled at the Secretariat, the CM’s camp office and Gandhi Bhavan (state Congress headquarters) publicly demanded that Jagan be made CM.

At the CM’s camp office, which houses the YSR residence and where his body was expected to arrive later in the day, at least 22 Congress MPs told reporters that they wanted Jagan to be the next CM and that they would submit a memorandum to this effect to the Congress high command. The MPs included Lagadapati Rajagopal, Anjan Kumar Yadav, G Sukhender Reddy, Suresh Sheckar, Nandi Yellaiah, Sarve Satyanarayana, P Prabhakar and L Rajaiah.

Congress workers, who had pitched up tents at various major intersections of the city, held up portraits of YSR and shouted slogans in favour of Jagan as CM. Sources told TOI that a silent campaign is also on within a section of the party to ensure that Jagan succeeds his father.

Thirty-six-old Jagan is a first time MP and is only a little over 100 days old in politics. The sources said the group that is campaigning for Jagan as CM is doing so because it wants the status quo to continue, by which they can ensure that their interests are not destabilized with the death of YSR.

But analysts were aghast at the campaign. "How shameless can they be? YSR's body has not arrived in Hyderabad and these selfish fellows are lobbying for YSR's son so that their interests are not affected," a political analyst said.

Hunt for successor to YSR begins

New Delhi, Sep 3 (PTI) The hunt for a new Chief Minister in Andhra Pradesh has begun in the Congress in right earnest with names of state Finance Minister K Rosaiah high on the list of probables doing the rounds.

77-year-old Rosaiah, the seniormost leader in the state, has been a minister in successive Congress governments and has taken over as interim Chief Minister.

The Congress Legislature Party is likely to meet in the next few days to elect the successor to Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, who was killed in a helicopter mishap yesterday.

Rosaiah, a non-controversial figure, belongs to Vaishya community and hails from Prakasham district.

The other names that have cropped up in the succession race are Union Minister S Jaipal Reddy and PCC chief D Srinivas, who belongs to the backward class.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


YSR's body along with those of co-passengers found

Kurnool, Sept 3 (PTI) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and four other persons were killed in the helicopter that crashed in the Nallamala Hills in bad weather yesterday losing radio contact an hour after take off from Hyderabad.

The bodies of 60-year-old Reddy, who led his Congress party to a spectacular second consecutive victory in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, and his Special Secretary P Subramanyam, Chief Security Officer A S C Wesley, pilot Group Captain S K Bhatia and co-pilot M S Reddy were found on Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles east of here, besides the mangled remains of the helicopter.

There was no official confirmation of the deaths, but highly placed Congress sources in Delhi said that the bodies have been found. An official statement is expected shortly.

A scheduled meeting of the Union Cabinet was cancelled following the tragedy. .

Andhra Pradesh CM dead in chopper crash

3 September 2009

NEW DELHI: Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy has died in an air crash, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday.

The bodies of 60-year-old Reddy, who led his Congress party to a spectacular second consecutive victory in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, and his Special Secretary P Subramanyam, chief security officer A S C Wesley, pilot Group Captain S K Bhatia and co-pilot M S Reddy were found on Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles east of here, besides the mangled remains of the helicopter.

Highly placed Congress sources in Delhi said that the bodies have been found and an official statement is expected shortly.

The Union Cabinet is meeting to discuss the matter.

Andhra Pradesh finance minister K Rosaiah has been appointed caretaker CM.

The helicopter carrying YSR Reddy, two of his staff and two pilots went missing in pouring rain Wednesday morning over the Naxal and tiger-infested Nalamalla forests.

Nearly 24 hours after YSR's chopper went missing, it was located atop Serai Salem hill, at a distance 40 nautical miles (70 kms) east of Kurnool.

The CM left Hyderabad on a six-seater Bell chopper at 8.35am for Chittoor accompanied by his secretary and chief security officer. After 9.27am, radio contact was lost with the helicopter.

Soon after the chopper lost contact, multiple agencies of the state launched a massive hunt for possible wreckage in the desolate terrain. By evening, it expanded into the country's biggest-ever search operation with satellites in the sky joining remote sensing aircraft, fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, troops on the ground and even barefoot deer-hunting tribals with bows and arrows.