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Monday, November 30, 2009

Sensex soars on robust Q2 data, easing Dubai woes

Mumbai, Nov 30 (PTI) The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex today snapped the two-day 3.3 per cent losses, to close with a significant gain of over 294 points or 1.71 per cent, driven by the more than expected GDP growth at 7.9 per cent amid easing tension in the Dubai debt crisis.

The Sensex, which had lost 223 points on Friday on the Dubai bubble, recovered to close with a gain of 294.21 points to 16,926.22 soon after a report showed the economy grew by a significant 7.9 per cent in the second quarter of this fiscal, up from 6.1 per cent in the previous quarter. This is the fastest GDP growth in over 18 months.

The Benchmark touched the day's high of 17,026.91 during the day, as 26 of the 30-BSE Sensex counters closed higher and four ended lower.

Reactions to India's Q2 GDP growth of 7.9%

30 Nov 2009, REUTERS Report

NEW DELHI: India's economy grew by 7.9 percent in the quarter through September from a year earlier, shattering forecasts as stimulus measures boosted demand and manufacturing activity surged.

Here are reactions to the GDP figures:

ATSI SHETH, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MACRO-SUTRA "Our sense is that this was a quarter where we had three excellent factors; abundant liquidity, global recovery and domestic demand was stimulated. So while the headline number has surprised on the upside, it hasn't yet blown all future expectations out of the water." "We think this will be the highest growth rate this fiscal year as agriculture will be a drag in the third quarter, which was the harvest season. We expect a negative number for agriculture in the third quarter.

"On the fiscal side, we think they will remove some measures introduced in 2008 next fiscal year, while the RBI is already poised to raise rates in January. We do not think this number will bring forward or delay the central bank's decision as the situation is yet not clear about the extent of post-festival moderation though it is clear growth momentum is strong enough not to be collapse on account of a rate hike."

RUPA REGE NITSURE, CHIEF ECONOMIST, BANK OF BARODA, MUMBAI: "Numbers are a big surprise, but I still feel there is a concern for sustainability. In the third quarter the agriculture growth is bound to be negative and if the rabi (winter) crop is also a problem, then the overall GDP growth is also bound to suffer."

"We are expecting growth at 6.5 percent with upward bias for the year as a whole. As long as credit doesn't pick up sizeably, the Reserve Bank of India is unlikely to hike rates."

A. PRASANNA, ECONOMIST, ICICI SECURITIES PRIMARY DEALERSHIP, MUMBAI: I think most people had underestimated the services sector growth number. However, we need to watch the farm sector number. This is just the first estimate of the kharif (summer) crop and more estimates will come later. Also, another mitigating factor is government spending. One should look at GDP number setting aside the farm sector.

The non-farm sector, industry and services, are on a strong footing. But I don't think one should overreact as at the beginning of recovery there can be one or two quarters with such surprises." "I continue to maintain that RBI may hike rates by 50 basis points in January and CRR (Cash Reserve Ratio) by 50 bps. Inflation is not out of hand, and I don't expect RBI to do something outside before the January monetary policy."

RAJEEV MALIK, ECONOMIST, MACQUARIE CAPITAL, SINGAPORE: "The strength is mainly from agriculture. Industry performance is broadly in line. While the number is much better than expectations, I suspect the agriculture number will show a decline when revised numbers are announced."

"The December quarter will show agriculture declining, because that's when the harvest shortfall will get captured, but industry is where bulk of the juice is and there was no new information there because monthly industrial data had been doing well in any case." "Overall a very positive report but exaggerated by the performance of agriculture."

"I don't think they (RBI) are going to be swung by what agriculture has done on a technical basis." "We still think RBI would begin liquidity management rather than rate hikes in December-January."

India GDP Growth Roaring

India's Economy Grows at Fastest Pace since Global Financial Crisis

India's economy beats growth forecasts

NEW DELHI -World reports.
India's economic growth surged in the third quarter at a much faster pace than expected, increasing the odds that the central bank will hike interest rates in January to head off a burst of inflation.

Gross domestic product grew 7.9% from a year earlier in the July-September period, accelerating from a 6.1% expansion in the previous quarter and marking the fastest growth since the January-March quarter of 2008, the Central Statistical Organization said Monday.

The reading was higher than even the most bullish forecast in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of 13 analysts, where the median estimate was for a 6.3% rise.

The government didn't release quarter-on-quarter figures, but according to HSBC calculations, GDP grew at a sizzling 13.9% annualized pace from the previous quarter, likely the fastest since the government started releasing GDP data every three months in 1996.

Officials from the Reserve Bank of India and the Planning Commission, the country's top policy think tank, said they were likely to revise upward their economic growth forecasts in response to the figures, suggesting the economy's strong performance caught the authorities off guard.

"This is better news than we sort of expected," the RBI's new Deputy Governor Subir Gokarn told reporters.

The data underscore India's smart rebound from the deep global downturn last year, and provides more evidence that Asia is leading the recovery. Growth was led by manufacturing, mining and social spending, which rose on the back of government stimulus measures and previously unpaid salary increments to civil servants.

Activity at India's factories and mines has been humming as sharp interest rate cuts and fiscal stimulus measures lift demand for automobiles, steel and cement. A protracted slump in exports has also abated while overseas investors have poured billions into the country's stock market.

The agriculture sector, which employs nearly 60% of India's workforce, also defied most analyst forecasts for a decline by posting a modest increase.

"The GDP numbers indicate response to initiatives taken by government in various policy measures including injecting stimulus, which we did in three doses over the last 11 months," said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mukherjee said he thinks growth will likely to top the ministry's current 7% forecast for the current fiscal year ending March 31. The RBI currently expects the economy to grow by around 6% this financial year while the Planning Commission tips a 6.5% expansion.

The data sent Indian stocks prices higher, helping recoup some of last week's declines when global markets swooned after Dubai's government said it was seeking a freeze on Dubai World's debt repayments. Government bonds fell.

The benchmark 30-stock Sensex ended 1.8% higher at 16,926.22 while the 6.90% 2019-dated bond fell to INR97.54 from its previous close of INR97.99. Yield on the note climbed seven basis points to 7.26%.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Planning Commission's deputy chairman, played down the impact of the Dubai crisis on India's economy. Dubai's construction boom has relied heavily on Indian workers, who send money back home to relatives.

"What I know is that the direct exposure of our banks to Dubai is very, very low and you cannot necessarily conclude that there will be negative impact on remittances," he said.

The strong GDP growth could mean an earlier a rate hike by the RBI, which many economists had been expecting to wait until March or so before withdrawing some of its monetary stimulus. Inflation is set to accelerate in the coming months as a favorable statistical base effect that masked a steady rise in prices since the turn of the financial year in April is now wearing thin.

"Today's data strengthens the case for the Reserve Bank of India to exit from its very easy policy settings," said Sonal Varma, an economist with Nomura Financial Advisory and Securities.

"We expect the policy rate hiking cycle to begin in January with a cash reserve ratio hike likely this December," she said.

Dubai govt won't guarantee Dubai World's debts

Investors face huge losses as Dubai abandons debt company

The Government of Dubai said today that it will not stand behind its wholly-owned subsidiary Dubai World, prompting fears that the company’s creditors could lose billions of dollars.

Today's comment, from Abdulrahman al-Saleh, the director general of Dubai’s Department of Finance, effectively confirms that country does not have enough money to repay Dubai World’s $60 billion of liabilities. Deloitte, the accountancy firm, has been called in to restructure the giant business.

Last week, the state-owned conglomerate sought a six-month standstill on repaying its debts.

Dubai World's borrowings include a $3.5 billion Islamic bond that was due to be repaid by Nakheel, the property developer behind the Palm Jumeriah islands, in two weeks.

Many creditors had assumed that the structure of Islamic bonds implied there was state backing for this type of financing and Dubai’s failure to support the Nakheel debt could have damaging implications for the wider Islamic market.

UK banks are among 70 institutions to have loaned Dubai World money in recent years as the company grew rapidly and bought foreign assets such as the Turnberry golf course in Scotland and P&O ports. Dubai's Department of Finance said creditors will be affected in “the short term” by the Dubai World's restructuring.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has arranged $2.3 billion of loans for Dubai World since 2007, although it is not known how much the bank could lose if the company defaults.

The Financial Services Authority, the City watchdog, is understood to be discussing possible exposure to Dubai World losses with the UK banks.

There had been hopes the Dubai government would issue a statement on Dubai World earlier this morning.

Markets across Europe and Asia had rallied this morning after this weekend’s intervention by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates, which will provide an emergency liquidity facility for local lenders.

Abu Dhabi, Dubai's rich sister nation, also said it would provide support on a “case-by-case” basis.

However, hours of silence from the Dubai government knocked investors' confidence and the FTSE fell 47.72 points to 5,198.96 in early afternoon trading.

There are also fears that US shares could plunge for a second day.

US shares tumbled more than 154 points on Friday, but the number of shares changing hands was relatively small since many investors were away following Thanksgiving on Thursday.

It is thought that today’s trading in America would give a more realistic reaction to Dubai’s financial woes as people return to work.

Dubai’s main stock exchange slid more than 7 per cent and Abu Dhabi markets fell more than 8 per cent. Today is the first time UAE investors have had the chance to react to last week’s announcement following the four-day religious holiday for Eid al-Adha.

It has also emerged today that Nakheel has requested that all three of its sukuks (Islamic bonds) traded on the Dubai stock exchange be suspended. This includes the $4 billion sukuk due to mature on December 14, which triggered the current crisis.

The group’s statement said the three sukuks would remain suspended “until it is in a position to fully inform the market”.

Jebel Ali Free Zone, a division of Dubai World, made an interest coupon payment on its 7.5 billion Dirham (£1.24 billion) sukuk, which matures in 2012. The payment, believed to be around 130 million Dirhams, was confirmed by banking sources in Dubai.

Dubai stock market crashes

Nov 30, 2009

Dubai stock market has crashed post Dubai World debt restructuring. The index was down close to 7%. Dubai World, the government's holding company, had asked for delays on payments of debts worth £35bn. The announcement sent shock waves through global stock markets amid fears that Dubai would default on its debt payment.

Following the announcement on Wednesday 25 November by the Government of Dubai, Nakheel has asked for all three of their listed Sukuk’s- Nakheel Development Limited, Nakheel Development 2 Limited and Nakheel Development 3 Limited to be suspended until it is in a position to fully inform the market. Nakheel, owned by Dubai World, has a $ 3.5 bn Islamic bond maturing on December 14

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dubai in deep water as ripples from debt crisis spread

Work has been halted on the artificial islands

Fears of a dangerous new phase in the economic crisis swept around the globe yesterday as traders responded to the shock announcement that a debt-laden Dubai state corporation was unable to meet its interest bill.

Shares plunged, weak currencies were battered and more than £14 billion was wiped from the value of British banks on fears that they would be left nursing new losses.

Nervous traders transferred the focus of their anxieties from the risk of companies failing to the risk of nation states defaulting. Investors owed money by Mexico, Russia and Greece saw the price of insuring themselves against default rocket.
Although the scale of Dubai’s debts is comparatively modest at $80 billion (£48 billion), the uncertainty spooked the markets, with no one sure who its creditors are. Several banks rushed out statements to reassure investors that their exposure was small.

The FTSE 100 plunged by 171 points to 5,194 — its biggest one-day fall in eight months in one of the most jittery days in the financial markets since the depths of the banking crisis.

The Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority were monitoring events closely and are demanding figures from UK banks on their loan exposures to Dubai.

According to a senior government official, Dubai’s crisis is regarded as modest and manageable for Britain, but there were growing fears that Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich neighbouring emirate that has in the past given rescue loans, would leave Dubai to its fate.

Dubai World, the state-owned corporation that began the panic on Wednesday by demanding a standstill on its interest payments, worsened the mood when it postponed a teleconference for its bond holders, saying the phone lines were overwhelmed.

Gerard Lyons, chief economist with Standard Chartered, said: “The market reaction shows how vulnerable some economies are to the aftermath of the debt binge. This highlights how fragile confidence is.”

The Eid al-Adha religious holiday in the Middle East, and the closure of financial markets in the United States for Thanksgiving, exacerbated the sense of uncertainty in markets that were open for business.

A computer crash at the London Stock Exchange, which by coincidence is 21 per cent owned by the Dubai Government, left dealers unable to trade for three and a half hours.

Shares in HSBC slumped by 5 per cent, wiping £6.2 billion from its value. According to the United Arab Emirates Banks Association, HSBC has £11 billion of loans outstanding to the UAE, of which Dubai is one of seven emirates. HSBC declined to comment.

More than £2.6 billion was slashed from the value of Barclays, while Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, both partly owned by the taxpayer, saw their values fall by £1.7 billion and £1.5 billion respectively.

One analyst said that the fears were overdone because Abu Dhabi would eventually come to the rescue to save the UAE from embarrassment. Dubai World has liabilities of £36 billion, about three quarters of Dubai’s total state debt. Its subsidiary Nakheel built The Palm Islands development, but the property bubble in the emirate burst a year ago, leaving buildings unfinished, debts unpaid and paper fortunes erased.

Sreesanth wrecks Lanka on his return

FANTASTIC RETURN: Back in the Test side after a 19-month hiatus, S. Sreesanth breathed fire on the third day of the second Test in Kanpur on Thursday.

Kanpur: Banishing the demons from the past, S. Sreesanth whipped up a display of compelling swing bowling at Green Park here on Thursday.

At peace with himself and bowling with sustained hostility on a sub-continental track, Sreesanth posed searching questions to the batsmen. His mind and body were in harmony.

The comeback paceman’s five for 75 in the Sri Lankan first innings has put India on course for a comprehensive win in the second Test.

Wilting under pressure

Bowled out for 229 and following on, the visitors were tottering at 57 for four when bad light ended third day’s play. There was no devil in the pitch but the Sri Lankans wilted in the cauldron.

The dismissals of Mahela Jayawardene — skipper Kumar Sangakkara had set out for a non-existent single after playing Pragyan Ojha to mid-wicket — and Sangakkara — loose stroke outside off stump to Harbhajan Singh — in the dying moments summed up Sri Lanka’s day.

Skipper Dhoni led smartly and the Indian plans fell in place. The dismissals of Mahela and Tharanga Paranavitana are cases in point.

The fleet-footed Mahela danced down to debutant left-armer Ojha in the Sri Lankan first innings to loft the ball over the man at mid-on.

When Ojha returned for his next over, Sachin Tendulkar was moved to a deeper, wider mid-on; the bait was laid. Mahela, on 47, attempted the stroke again and Tendulkar accepted the offering gleefully. The experienced Mahela failed to notice the subtle change in the field.

Surprise move

When the Sri Lankans followed on, Dhoni surprised the visitors by introducing occasional off-spinner Virender Sehwag, who foxed the left-handed Paranavitana with a delivery that came in with the arm from round-the-wicket.

Earlier, Sreesanth opened the path for India, bowling with much heart and craft in a morning spell of 9-2-28-3. He returned for a crucial burst after lunch.

Operating to a telling line around the off-stump, Sreesanth set the batsmen up by denying width and room, and gradually dragged them wider for the fatal inside-edge or the outside nick.

The Sri Lankans were sucked into the trap. Paranavitana (38), Sangakkara (44), Thilan Samaraweera (2) and Prasanna Jayawardene (39) were all dismissed attempting extravagant strokes with limited footwork.

Sreesanth switched his line to the right and the left-handers effectively. And he varied his pace cleverly.

A gem

When the Sri Lankans batted a second time, the paceman prised out Tillakaratne Dilshan with a gem. The ball pitched on off, moved and lifted to find the edge.

A wonderful wrist and seam position makes Sreesanth an engaging swing bowler. The cocking of the wrist that is held straight is the key to his bowling.

Sreesanth generated impressive speeds and generally bowled a fuller length that is mandatory for swing.

He mixed the one leaving the batsman with the delivery either swinging or angling in. The short-pitched delivery and the yorkers were effective variations.

Pace bowling is much about rhythm and Sreesanth was running in smoothly, his action blending with release.

He harried Paranavitana in the morning and hit the left-hander on the helmet with a sharp bouncer to set up a soft dismissal; Dhoni took a low diving catch.

After ending the threatening association between the Jayawardenes — Prassana appeared to have got a thin nick chasing a widish delivery — Sreesanth bowled the left-handed Rangana Herath with a peach of a delivery that pitched on middle and hit off. It was his fifth strike.

Spinners impress

There was some encouragement for the spinners and Harbhajan and Ojha performed their roles. Delivering from wide of the crease, Harbhajan breached Angelo Mathews’s forward defence with a well-flighted ball that angled into the right-hander.

The off-spinner consistently got the ball to straighten when the batsmen played for turn. Ojha was steady and stuck to his task.

Catching was the only area of disappointment for the Indians. Mahela was let off thrice. In the first innings, he edged Sreesanth between first slip and the ’keeper; both failed to move. And Harbhajan saw Rahul Dravid at slip put down Mahela in either innings. Both were sharp chances.

India Inc, banks play down Dubai blues

November 28, 2009

Analysts say the crisis may discourage realty firms from venturing into that market

The stock markets skidded today as Dubai’s debt woes sparked fears over corporate and bank exposure to a key trading partner. But Indian companies and banks played down the impact, saying the exposure was not significant and they had already pulled out or stopped taking work in Dubai since the slowdown last year.

The banking regulator and the government also tried to calm sentiments by saying the impact looked marginal. The central bank, however, has asked for data from Indian banks on their exposure to Dubai World, the centre of the crisis.

On Wednesday, the Dubai government said it would ask creditors of two of its companies, Dubai World and real estate developer Nakheel, for a standstill on debt worth billions of dollars as a first step towards restructuring.

A host of Indian companies such as L&T, Nagarjuna Construction, Omaxe, Afcons Infrastructure and Country Club of India said they were reviewing their options in Dubai.

A M Naik, chairman of construction and engineering giant L&T, said, “Dubai does not have any prospects and we are concentrating on other emirates such as Oman, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and so on.” The company has a total exposure of Rs 100 crore in Dubai projects and has already recovered 90 per cent of dues from its projects there.

Delhi-based realty developer Omaxe, which had bought two plots from Nakheel, a Dubai World company, for around Rs 450 crore and paid Rs 45 crore as the first instalment, is yet to get development rights from Nakheel and is said to be exploring exit options. "Nakheel has put the project on hold and has not handed over the plots. We are asking for refund for the project,'' said Rohtas Goel, chairman of Omaxe.

Though around $55 billion of deals were announced between companies in India and the UAE, many have not seen the light of the day. For instance, the joint venture between L&T and Dubai Aluminium (Dubal) to set up a three-million tonne alumina refinery in Orissa is still in limbo even after four years, according to brokerage CLSA.

The joint ventures between DLF, the country's largest developer, and Dubai World companies — Nakheel and Limitless — did not take off as the JV partners did not go ahead with the projects.

Analysts said the Dubai crisis could discourage both realty and construction companies from venturing into that market.

"There will be a negative impact, since this is a situation where prices are expected to come down in Dubai. These players would have acquired projects to sell them at a particular price. With pricing taking a beating, the profitability of these projects reduces. Construction firms, which had gone to Dubai to carry on contract jobs, would also be affected, since payments would get delayed and project sizes will be curtailed, thereby affecting their bottom line. Commitments from Dubai-based companies into India will also reduce,'' said Anuj Puri, chairman of international property consultant Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.

The importance of the Indian link to Dubai and the UAE, of which Dubai is a part, can be gauged from the fact that Indians constitute 40 per cent of its population, forming 10-12 per cent of India's inward remittances. Thirty one per cent of the 5.3 million Indians in the Gulf region are in the UAE, CLSA said.

Even DP World, part of Dubai World, runs five container terminals in India, accounting for 40 per cent of India's container traffic.

Indian companies had already become cautious in taking up projects in Dubai since the economic slowdown last year. "We do not take up any projects in Dubai unless funding is secured there. But we will work in other emirates,'' said a senior executive from Afcons Infrastructure which is executing the Rs 700-crore Dubai Race Course Connectivity Project.

Real estate giants DLF and Unitech said they had zero exposure in Dubai’s realty markets.

Dharmendra Raichura, managing director of BSEL Infrastructure, which is building a waterfront project and six towers in Emirates City in the nearby emirate of Ajman at a cost of Rs 1,762 crore, said he expected the turnover to fall by 10 to 15 per cent and defaults by 8 to 10 per cent in the project. "But it is nothing new. Sales have been down 10 to 12 per cent since the last 12 months,'' Raichura said.

Hyderabad-based Nagarjuna Construction Company Limited (NCCL), which is executing two projects in Dubai, has completed 45 per cent of a pipeline project and sold one tower in a realty project. ''We will study the market and start construction of the second tower if the market improves", said Y D Murthy, executive vice-president, finance, at NCCL.

Bank of Baroda, which had an exposure of around $200 million (Rs 928 crore at today’s rates) to Dubai World, said the amount was due for repayment only after 2011. "It is paying interest and there are no overdues. So, we have absolutely no immediate concern,” a senior bank executive said.

However, talking about the bank’s total loan book, Bank of Baroda Chairman and Managing Director M D Mallya told PTI: “We have only 7-8 per cent of our total loan book in the entire Gulf region, which amounts to Rs 10,000 crore. These accounts are well-maintained and unlikely to cause any kind of impact on the balance sheet.” Out of the total Gulf loan exposure, Dubai constitutes nearly half of the loan book, which comes to less than Rs 5,000 crore, Mallya said, adding that the industry needed to wait a few more days to get a clearer picture of the crisis.

Other banks said the impact on their operations was marginal. State Bank of India officials said the bank has only a $50- million exposure to Dubai World and there was no reason to worry over the "low" exposure.

Some analysts played down the impact on the markets, saying the money involved was not as big as in other cases in the past. However, valuations of some real estate initial public offerings set to hit the market may come under pressure

Friday, November 27, 2009

Asian markets feel impact of Dubai crisis

HK Shares End Sharply Down On Dubai; Biggest Points Drop This Year

Hong Kong shares fall almost 5 per cent as Middle East crisis looms

Wall Street Poised For Sharp Decline On Dubai World Crisis

Dubai debt shakes world markets

Dubai shock! Why it happened, how it hits India

Europe Options Signal Concern Stocks May Drop Further on Dubai


Taiwan's stock market felt the shockwaves from the Dubai debt crisis on Friday, as did other markets in the region. The weighted index of the Taiwan stock exchange fell by 3.21% with financial stocks leading the decline. Solar energy was one of the few stocks to buck the trend and stand firm.

The market on Friday opened already 124 points down on yesterday's closing figure. By close of trade that loss had doubled, with the index shedding 248 points to finish the day at 7,490.91.

Markets in Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea proved a huge drag on the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific banking shares traded outside Japan. The MSCI dropped 4%, reflecting widespread fears that Dubai's debt could create another world financial crisis.

Dubai crisis?What impact will this have on the global economy?

Concern over Dubai’s debt problems has driven down Europe’s share markets for the second day running. What impact will this have on the global economy?

Earlier, the state-owned Dubai World announced that it would delay repaying some of its debt.

The biggest underlying fear is that Dubai's problems could reignite the financial turmoil of the credit crisis, lowering global demand for a whole range of commodities, including oil.

The Gulf state, which has less oil money than many of its neighbours, has grown to rely on trading and tourism.

Has development in Dubai been too swift? Will Dubai manage to keep afloat? Could this reignite the financial turmoil? Have you invested or are you working in Dubai? Have you been affected?

Dow futures at 6 a.m.: down 234.

November 27, 2009

Dubai's sovereign-wealth woes could mean U.S. market correction, 'firesale of prime properties from London to New York'

CNBC’s “Squawk Box” opens at 6 a.m. by warning of “reigniting worries of a global financial turmoil,” and the possibility of big “downdraft” in U.S. markets.

Reuters, DUBAI/TOKYO: “Investors recoiled from risky assets on Friday and dumped shares in Asian banks and builders, fearing a Dubai debt default could reignite the financial turmoil of the credit crisis. Stocks from Tokyo to Mumbai were haunted by suspicion of lenders' exposure to Dubai firms that built islands in the Gulf, planned cities from Pakistan to Africa and fashioned the financial hub of the world's biggest oil exporting region. Dubai, part of the oil-exporting United Arab Emirates, said on Wednesday it would ask creditors of state-owned Dubai World and Nakheel to agree to a standstill on billions of dollars of debt as a first step toward restructuring.”

Good Friday morning. It could be Black Friday for more than retailers. While we were focused on turkey and football, markets around the world took a licking following Wednesday’s announcement by Dubai that it couldn’t pay debts of Dubai World, one of the globe’s biggest sovereign wealth funds. The possibility of default created panic in markets, with many sell-offs around 3%. The story sneaked up on many revelers in the U.S., buried on page B3 of the Thanksgiving Day New York Times “(Dubai Asks for Stay on Debt Payments”). Now, Treasury, the West Wing and the Street are paying close attention to the potential fallout.

TRADERS FEAR THIS IS MORE OF A DOMINO THAN A BLIP. The concern is less the size of the potential default than the specter of global credit contagion. The reaction shows that despite early signs of global recovery, the markets suspect there’s another shoe to drop. Here’s a speed read of the coverage as Americans head out to door-buster sales:

THE PSYCHOLOGY -- FT banner – “Dubai sends markets into turmoil”: “Stock markets around the world were convulsed yesterday as investors scrambled to understand the implications of Dubai World’s restructuring and unexpected debt standstill. The lack of information about Dubai’s flagship government-owned holding company, made worse by a religious holiday in the Middle East, prompted indiscriminate selling of stocks linked to the region. The cost of insuring against default in emerging markets around the world also leapt. ‘In the absence of definitive information, it’s hard to see the market treating this as an isolated one-off,’ said one trader.”

THE FRENZY -- DRUDGE banner, with photo of Dubai’s palm islands: “DUBAI IN DEEP WATER.” The (London) Times banner: “Dubai in deep water”: “Fears of a dangerous new phase in the economic crisis swept around the globe yesterday as traders responded to the shock announcement that a debt-laden Dubai state corporation was unable to meet its interest bill. According to a senior government official, Dubai’s crisis is regarded as modest and manageable for Britain, but there were growing fears that Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich neighbouring emirate that has in the past given rescue loans, would leave Dubai to its fate.”

Large, diversified financial institutions provide significant value to our economy, by meeting the needs of large, globally active firms which spurs job creation and growth.

REAL-ESTATE FALLOUT – FT p.1: “Real-estate investors are preparing for a firesale of prime properties from London to New York should Dubai decide to raise cash by selling liquid assets held by its investment companies … Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, was one of the busiest investors in ‘trophy’ properties during the global property boom. Its investments range from the Adelphi in Strand, London, and Grand Buildings in Trafalgar Square to the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York.”

“US MARKETS BRACING FOR SELLOFF ON WORRIES ABOUT DUBAI’S DEBT” CNBC. “Market Insider” column, by Patti Domm: “US markets are bracing for a shakeup Friday after investors fled risk assets globally on concerns about Dubai's debt rescheduling. Markets worldwide reacted to concerns about bank exposure to the debt, particularly in Europe, and fears it is a signal of greater problems in emerging markets. The news comes as investors are closing out the year, many with sharp gains. It also comes at a time when there's been heavy buying by funds and others seeking the comfort of US treasurys. The Dubai story was the topic of concern Wednesday but many traders made an early exit ahead of the holiday and stocks traded quietly.”

Dubai debt fears hit world markets hard

27 Nov 2009, AGENCIES

LONDON: World stock markets tumbled on Thursday as investors fretted over the debt problems at Dubai World, a government investment company, and the continuing slide in the dollar, which earlier fell to a 14-year low against the yen.

Markets are usually relatively quiet when Wall Street is closed for a holiday, as it is Thursday for Thanksgiving Day. Not so today, as the rest of the world digested the stunning news from Dubai that the government's flagship investment company was in financial trouble.

European markets followed Asia lower with the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closing down 170.68 points, or 3.2 per cent, at 5,194.13, having been out of action earlier for over three hours because of technical problems.

Germany's DAX fell 188.85 points, or 3.2 per cent, to 5,614.17 while the CAC-40 in France was 129.93 points, or 3.4 per cent, lower at 3,679.23.

Sentiment in stocks was dented by the news that Dubai World, which is thought to have debts totaling around $60 billion, has asked creditors if it can postpone its forthcoming payments until May. That stoked fears of a potential default and contagion around the global financial system, particularly in banks and emerging markets.

"Fear of sovereign default in the Middle East rattled the markets," said Jane Foley, research director at

Banks bore the brunt of the selling in Europe, amid fears of potential exposure to Dubai. In London, Royal Bank of Scotland PLC was down nearly 8 per cent, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE. In Germany, Deutsche Bank was the biggest faller on the DAX, down around 6 per cent.

Investors were also keeping a close eye on associated developments in the currency markets after the dollar slid to a new 14-year low of 86.27 yen, while the euro pushed up to a fresh 15-month high of $1.5141.

By late afternoon London time, the dollar had recouped some ground and was trading at 86.55 yen, down 0.9 per cent on the day, while the euro was 1 per cent lower at $1.4988.

The continued appreciation in the value of the yen continued to dent Japanese stocks as investors worry that the rising currency will have a detrimental effect on the country's exports. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 58.40 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 9,383.24.

Dubai saga leaves Indian banks, infrastructure, realty cos in limbo

27 Nov 2009, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: The Dubai debt fiasco rattled equity markets across the globe particularly battering realty, infrastructure and banking names, which have their exposure to the emirate.

Dubai said on Wednesday it wanted creditors of Dubai World and property group Nakheel to agree a debt standstill as it restructures Dubai World. Dubai World's debt burden stands at $59 billion of the total $80 billion debt of the state. The government of Dubai has authorised the restructuring of Dubai World to be spearheaded by the Dubai Financial Support Fund.

Even as a number of corporates declared their non-exposure to the real estate sector in Dubai, investor sentiment was badly bruised.

"Dubai debt crisis came as a nasty surprise and acted as a trigger for the market, which was otherwise also ripe for correction and looking for some major trigger for correction. Though market participants were not confident and had no conviction to buy in to a market at upper band of trading range, bears were not having courage to push the sales aggressively. But yesterday's events in Dubai led to a panic situation; leading to sharp losses in many bank stocks across Asia and Europe; plus a general selling trend in eqities, and an appreciation in dollar.

What will be the real impact of the Dubai issue will depend upon how the newly appointed Dubai World's chief Aidan Berkett will handle the restructuring of this investment and property giant. But it has triggered much awaited correction in global equities, which can last longer then expected. So traders be cautious, lighten the long positions and wait for situation to calm down or let the restructuring happen or help to flow in from friends and neighbours of Dubai. For now, extreme caution is warranted," said DD Sharma, senior vice president-research at Anand Rathi Securities.

The Dubai government's announcement prompted Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service to sharply cut their ratings on several government-related entities. Moody's slashed some units to junk status and S&P said the restructuring could be considered a default.

Engineering and construction firm, Punj Lloyd said it has no exposure in the real estate sector in Dubai. Developer DLF and Punjab National Bank also said they had no current exposure to Dubai.

On the other hand, engineering major Larsen & Toubro's exposure to Dubai is in the range of $20 million to $25 million. Bank of Baroda said it has total loan book exposure of 7-8 percent at around Rs 100 billion in the United Arab Emirates.

Other than Larsen & Toubro, which has been the most aggressive Indian company in the GCC region, smaller infrastructure companies, also have a strong presence. (See table top)

In the banking space, Bank of Baroda is the most active with 10 branches in the Gulf, but mostly small banking exposure, mainly for remittances. Meanwhile, ICICI Bank which has three branches across the Gulf region said there is no material non-India linked exposure to Dubai corporates.

However, Krishna Sanghavi of Kotak Mahindra AMC was of the opinion that the exposure of Indian companies to Dubai being limited, it may not have a substantial impact on our markets. "From a pure India perspective, the financial markets are impacted by the global sentiment. Certain sectors may also be under pressure on account of their business in terms of realizing that the existing money lent or to be received from these geographies or to an extent of implications where the existing order book may not be implemented at the right time frame. However, it is difficult to find any particular sector with a substantial exposure to the geography which can have a grave impact on the business models or the financials of the companies. India continues to be a domestic consumption story although there are companies which have had a vision of expanding to newer geographies. However, in the overall international exposure, Dubai will have a relatively lesser presence and domestic investors need not be worried from an Indian market perspective," he said.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why LyondellBasell is a goldmine for RIL

Mon, Nov 23, 2009

After bankrupt petchem giant LyondellBasell (LB) confirmed it had received a preliminary non-binding offer from India’s Reliance Industries (RIL) to acquire for cash a controlling interest in the company. CNBC-TV18’s Gautam Broker tracks the deal and analyses how it impacts both companies.

The one thing that catches attention is that LB is not new to RIL. The Dutch giant already is Reliance’s technology partner for poly-propelene and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE).

How RIL, Lyondell stack up

RIL today is the world’s seventh largest producer of polypropelene while LB is its largest producer. Thus, if the deal goes through, RIL would have a global monopoly in polypropelene. LB's product portfolio also complements that of RIL’s — the former is a large producer of oxy fuels and polyethelene while the latter leads in producing paraxylene, purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and monoethylenglycol (MEG). The Mukesh Ambani company would thus have strength across a diversified portfolio.

The deal would also help RIL consolidate its petro-chemical business. LB has many pet-chem facilities in the Middle East — going on-stream from December — that use ethane as feedstock secured at long-term supply contracts of USD 1.2-1.4 per mmbtu. RIL, on the other hand, uses naptha as feedstock, which is much costlier.

More global presence

RIL would also gain by getting to increase its limited global presence — it currently has trading desks in Singapore, Rotterdam, Dubai but little distribution presence.

Also, RIL would, via the deal, have a manufacturing edge by having several facilities. RIL currently has most of its 14 facilities concentrated in Maharashtra and Gujarat states of India while LB has 50 manufacturing facilities in 19 countries.

RIL can also use some of LB’s sites as storage facilities — something it has been scouting for since long.

RIL had been eyeing Basell (before LB came into existence) since quite some time before it was taken over by Access Industries. Valuation-wise, LB is much bigger and comes much cheaper than in the past and with idle cash and low leverage and debt, RIL is in a good position to move in for the kill.

Other bidders to line up?

Sources say other private equity players such as Apollo and KKR have made offers to LB though they are equity financing proposal to sponsor the company’s rights issue, and not a cash offer like RIL’s.

Even though big by India standards, RIL is not in the same league as US’ Dow Chemicals. Thus, a bid to buy out LB would not invite governments' concerns on creation of a monopoly in the global market.

Also, RIL, which has about USD 12 billion in cash (about the same amount as that of the deal) is not expected to use the entire amount to pick up stake in LB. It is learnt that the deal would have a 40% cash infusion while 60% would be raised via debt.

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Raj Kundra arrives in a chariot to marry Shilpa

Mumbai, Nov 22 (PTI) Clad in a maroon and gold sherwani, businessman Raj Kundra today arrived in a horse-drawn chariot to marry Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in Khandala.

Kundra arrived at the Bawa Villa in Khandala, about 100 kms from here, where the wedding is scheduled to be held later this evening.

He was accompanied by his family and friends.

Bollywood actor Jackky Bhagnani was also a part of the 'barat' (procession).

The groom was welcomed by Shipa's parents and her sister Shamita Shetty, who recently left reality show 'Bigg Boss' to attend the wedding of her 34-year-old sister.

The Bollywood beauty will be wearing a saree cum lehnga by designer Tarul Tahiliani, which will be embellished with Swarovski crystals with red details.

The marriage vows will be exchanged in the Mangalorean tradition while the pre-marriage rituals were conducted in the Punjabi style. Shetty belongs to the Bunt community in Mangalore while Kundra is a Punjabi.

Education without values serves none: Baba

23 Nov 2009

PUTTAPARTHI: Higher education should not be pursued with an aim to amass wealth and get power.

It should be done for selfless service to the society, says Sri Sathya Saibaba.

Addressing students at the 28th convocation of Sri Sathya Sai University at Sai Kulwanth Hall in Prasanthi Nilayam today, Saibaba said the real purpose of education is served, when the needy are helped and the society gets the benefit. Love is all powerful and with it the world can be won. One should remember that education without values serves none and good conduct is far more valuable than wealth. There is no greater education or love than that of mother’s love. There is also no greater degree than love, he said.

Emphasising that what one learns through education should be used for the good of society, he said the greater meaning of education is love towards fellow humans and all living beings in the universe. Education is physical and educare is spiritual knowledge.

Expressing concern over the increased rat race for the worldly pursuit, he advised students to learn Sanatana Dharmas, which are truth, love and non-violence. ``Love is God and it is in every living being. Inner satisfaction is far more worthy than physical satisfaction.’’ He advised people to reduce the use of cellphone which has become a hindrance to love and respect to people. ``Instead of bringing people together, it is widening the gap among them,’’ he observed.

In his convocation address, Samuel Sandweiss of University of California, who is also the author of `Saibaba: The Holyman and Psychiatrist, Spirit and Mind’ and `With Love Man is God’, elaborated on the purpose and value of education in the context of spiritual needs of human beings.

He said education is the very process which lays the foundation for Dharma (Righteousness) by removing ignorance and letting the self inner shine. Citing examples of the earliest universities Oxford, Salamanca and Soroban in Europe and Nalanda and Taxila in ancient India, he said these institutions had deep religious and presumably spiritual foundations. He lauded the growth achieved by Sri Sathya Sai University and its endeavour for social welfare.

Varsity Vice-Chancellor Vishwanath Pandit presented a report. In all, 21 students received gold medals from the hands of Sri Saibaba.

District Collector P Janardhan Reddy, SP MK Singh, Puttaparthi MLA P Raghunath Reddy and others were present.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Headley said: 'We'll retaliate against India'

22 Nov 2009
David Headley, a Pakistani origin American citizen at the centre of a global terrorism investigation on charges of plotting terror attacks in India and Denmark, has been portrayed as a man 'with feet in East and West.' He also wrote in e-mail messages about retaliation against India.

'The trip from a strict Pakistani boarding school to a bohemian bar in Philadelphia has defined David Headley's life,' the New York Times wrote on Sunday in a report with inputs from Pakistan, Canada and the US.

Raised by his father in Pakistan as a devout Muslim, Headley arrived back in Philadelphia at 17 to live with his American mother, a former socialite who ran a bar called the Khyber Pass.

'Today, Headley is an Islamic fundamentalist who once liked to get high. He has a traditional Pakistani wife, who lives with their children in Chicago, but also an American girlfriend - a makeup artist in New York,' the daily said citing a relative and friends.

'Depending on the setting, he alternates between the name he adopted in the United States, David Headley, and the Urdu one he was given at birth, Daood Gilani. Even his eyes - one brown, the other green - hint at roots in two places,' the Times said.

Headley, is accused of being the lead operative in a loose-knit group of militants plotting revenge against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Accused co-conspirator, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who was born in Pakistan, is a citizen of Canada and runs businesses in Chicago.

The men, who became close friends in a military academy outside Islamabad, were arrested last month in Chicago. Since then, the investigation has widened beyond Chicago and Copenhagen.

The authorities havelearned more, with cooperation from Headley, about the two men's network of contacts with known terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taeba, a Pakistani militant group, as well as officials in the Pakistani government and military, the Times said.

United States and Indian investigators are also looking closely into whether the two Chicago men, who travelled to Mumbai before the deadly assault there last November, may have been involved in the plot.

Headley, 49, and Rana, 48, stand out from the young, poor extremists from fundamentalist Islamic schools who strike targets in or close to their homelands, the times noted.

Instead, their privileged backgrounds, extensive travel and bouts of culture shock make them more like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed architect of the Sep 11,2001 attacks, who attended college in the US, and Mohammed Atta, one of the lead hijackers.

In 1998, Gilani, then 38, was convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin into the country from Pakistan, the Times said. In 2006, he changed his name to David Headley, apparently to make border crossings between the US and other countries easier, court documents say. Headley also shifted to Chicago where he claimed to work for Rana's immigration agency.

E-mail messages of his show that Headley stayed in regular contact with classmates from the military high school he attended in Pakistan, often engaging in impassioned debates about politics and Islam, the Times said.

Earlier this year, Headley complained about 'NATO criminal vermin dropping 22,000 lbs bombs on unsuspecting, unarmed Afghan villagers' or 'napalming southeast Asian farmers.' Writing about Pakistan's chief enemy, he said, 'We will retaliate against India.'

Pakistani father-son duo held in Italy over Mumbai attack

London: A Pakistani father-son duo in Italy, who managed a money transfer agency that was used to finance the Mumbai terror attacks, were arrested on Saturday in the northern Italian city of Brescia.

The two men were arrested in an early morning raid, policein Brescia said.

In a statement, police said the suspects managed a money transfer agency and helped fund the November 26 attacks.

The day before the attacks last year they transferred money to activate an Internet phone account that was used by the attackers and their accomplices, Stefano Fonzi, the head of anti-terror police in Brescia, was quoted as saying by AP.

Pak denies Afghan Taliban chief is in Karachi

Islamabad: Pakistan has dismissed a report that Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar had fled from Quetta to Karachi with the help of ISI to avoid the possibility of being targeted by US drones.

'This is ridiculous to say the least,' Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told reporters. He said there had been speculation about Omar's presence in Pakistan 'for years'.

'According to our information,the head of the Taliban in Afghanistan should be in Afghanistan. If someone knows about his whereabouts, it would be far better if that information is shared with us rather than speculating through the media,' Basit said.

He said there 'is simply no truth' in the assertion that Omar is in Pakistan.

Two senior US intelligence officials and a former CIA officer had been quoted by The Washington Times as saying that Omar travelled to Karachi last month after the end of the holy month of Ramzan.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

9 in 10 men say wives refuse sex

By: Kranti Vibhute
Mid Day,20 Nov Mumbai

Nationwide survey conducted by government body says husbands refuse to wear a condom and wives fear STDs, as they suspect extramarital affairs

'Not now, darling, I have a headache', is easily the most often 'no sex' phrase bandied around in popular culture. Now, there are statistics to prove it.

In a research conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), based out of Govandi, a whopping 89 per cent of married men complained that their wives say no to sex. But there's a rider.

The women say no because their husbands refuse to wear a condom, which they feel is absolutely necessary to protect them from sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

Clearly, this means 89 per cent of women feel their husbands cheat on them.

The survey reveals the truth. One in 20 Indian married men have multiple affairs more than two sexual partners apart from their wives.

However, doctors in Mumbai believe that the number is far higher and the respondents may not have been entirely truthful.

The study has revealed that 5.3 per cent married men engaged in high-risk sex, which means having sex with more than two partners without using protection.

This survey, conducted for the first time by IIPS across India, had a sample size of 80,000 men.

Wife is justified

Hearteningly, 83 per cent say the wife is justified in asking them to use condoms.

S K Singh, a researcher with IIPS, said, "On one hand the National Family Health Survey portrays a very impressive picture of Indian men who believe that if a husband has a sexually transmitted disease, his wife is justified in refusing to have sex with him. Or have sex only if they wear a condom.

But the survey also throws up a picture that men are cheating their wives with more than two partners."

The IIPS is an autonomous institution administered by the ministry of health and family welfare. It also conducts a national family health survey every year on behalf of the government.

YOU CHEAT: About 89 per cent of women feel their husbands cheat on them, reveals a survey by the International Institute for Population Sciences.

However, sexologists and psychiatrists believe that the number of men having multiple sex partners is higher than what the survey says and will only increase.

Anjali Chhabria, a psychiatrist, said, "Men want excitement and novelty. They experiment out of boredom and also want to feel young and desirable. The increasing number of cell phone usage helps them contact anyone easily."

Added Rajan Bhonsle, a sexologist, "Male sexuality is body-oriented and there is rarely emotional involvement. Therefore, there are multiple partners and I believe they are either colleagues or neighbours, as access is easier."

Agreeing with Bhonsle, Dr Rajiv Anand, sexologist and psychiatrist, said, "The survey may or may not be applicable to everyone, but the fact is men are always looking for something new and different."

Syed Husaini, a senior family court lawyer, said, "About 25 per cent of divorce cases at the Bandra family court is because spouses have extramarital affairs, in addition to cruelty and harassment.

But when such allegations are placed in court, only six per cent turn out to be true."

He gifted wife Rs 2.33 Crore for repeated infidelity

A cheating husband showered his wife with expensive jewellery every time he cheated on her, leading her to gather a collection worth almost Rs 2.33 crore (£300,000).

Businessman Robert Charlton, from Leicester, UK, made up for breaking his wedding vows by gifting diamond jewels to wife Elizabeth, who was apparently aware of his extra-marital activities.

The unusual arrangement was said to have worked for the couple until Charlton passed away aged 63 in 1979.

Elizabeth, who allegedly told friends the gifts made it easier for her to forgive her husband, died in 2006, leaving her collection to their only child Marie.

98 per cent men say wives refuse to have sex

Case Study

Three months ago, 33-year-old Anita Sharma (name changed) approached a detective agency to spy on her husband who she felt was spending too much time talking on the phone.

The detective traced the husband to Alibag, necking with a former girlfriend and also dug up more extra-marital affairs that the man had been involved in before he was caught.

The couple had a seven-year-old child and so haven't divorced.

Reliance bid to make India's largest global acquisition

22 November 2009

NEW DELHI: The country’s largest company, Reliance Industries (RIL) has offered to buy a controlling stake in the world’s third largest chemical company LyondellBasell, RIL announced on Saturday.

LyondellBasell filed for bankruptcy in the US in January. RIL did not disclose how much it had bid but a senior merchant banker said it would have to pay at least $ 12 billion. This is the gap between LyondellBasell’s assets and liabilities.

But RIL might have to pay more, making this the biggest acquisition ever by an Indian company. Till now, the biggest overseas acquisition was Tata Steel’s 2006 purchase of Corus for $ 12.2 billion. In 2008, LyondellBasell’s market capitalisation was $ 58 billion, while its earning before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBIDTA) was $ 1 billion.

A banker said that RIL would have to make a fresh infusion of capital in LyondellBasell in order to pay its debtors. It’s learnt that RIL has already offered to acquire fresh shares in the company to infuse capital.

The acquisition will take RIL higher up the Fortune 500 list, where it is currently ranked 264th. In a statement RIL said that the company is reviewing a number of global opportunities for growth of its core business. ‘‘This review is ongoing and there can be no assurance of the outcome with respect to any of the opportunities under review, including with respect to LyondellBasell,”the statement said.

The acquisition would make RIL one of the world’s largest petrochemical companies and it will also be able to penetrate developed markets.

LyondellBasell is headquartered in the Netherlands but based in the US. It was created when Basell Polyolefins merged with Lyondell Chemical Company in December 2007. It is one of the worlds largest polymers, petrochemicals and fuels companies. It filed for bankruptcy in the US under Chapter 11 because of the global financial crisis. A LyondellBasell confirmed it had “received a preliminary non-binding offer from Reliance Industries Limited.” E.T

Actor Mohanlal seeks blessings of Sri Satya Sai Baba

Lt.Col.Padmasree Dr.Mohanlal seeks blessings of Sri Satya Sai Baba at Prashanti Nilayam in Puttaparthi of Anantapur district on Friday the 20th Nov.

Gold prices soar

Kochi: Gold prices continued to rally for the third consecutive day as investors found the yellow metal as a better alternative in investing. Prices for gold increased Rs 80 on Saturday. The current prices for 1 gm of gold come in at Rs 1.630, while 8 gm of gold costs Rs 13,040.

The surge in price of the precious metal has resulted in a fall in its consumption in India, a major consumer of the yellow metal. In July -September period,consumption of gold declined nearly 42 per cent to reach 111.6 tonnes.

In the international market, gold traded at Rs 1,630 at close on Friday. The surge in prices is manly due to a weaker dollar as well as the recent sale of 200 metric tonnes of gold to the reserve bank of India by the International Monetary Fund or IMF – analysts observed.

According to Analysts, the precious metal is likely to continue its bullish trend through at least the first half of 2010. Analysts estimates gold price to reach at $2,000 an ounce that would reflect a gain of about 73% from current record levels.

India-US partnership is essential: PM

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said India is looking forward to building on the strategic dialogue with the US and seeking greater cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, services, energy, science and technology and defence.

'The last several years have witnessed a transformation in India-US relations. Today, they are characterized by greater maturity, depth and convergence of interests,' Manmohan Singh said in his departure statement before his four-day trip to Washington as the first state guest of the Obama White House.

'The United States is our largest trading partner in goods and services, and we have deep economic ties. There is a large Indian American community and robust people-to-people exchanges. Above all, we share common values and commitment to democracy, pluralism and human rights,' he said.

'A sustained and dynamic India-US partnership is essential if we are to meet the global challenges of the 21stcentury.'

During his visit, the prime minister said, he would exchange views with President Obama on major global threats and challenges including international terrorism, climate change, the global economic slowdown, the Doha round of trade negotiations, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Manmohan Singh and Obama are expected to firm up a global partnership on issues ranging from giving an institutional framework to their counter-terror cooperation and curbing greenhouse gas emissions to wrapping up the remaining steps of the nuclear deal and the multibillion-dollar defence contracts.

After his visit to the US, the prime minister will travel to Port of Spain to attend the meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government.

'This is the 60th anniversary year of the Commonwealth. We attach high importance to the role of the Commonwealth in promoting cooperation amongst its members and in engaging the world in shaping a cooperative, equitable and development-friendly world order,' he said.

The theme for CHOGM-2009 is 'Partnering for a More Equitable and Sustainable Future'.

Market rebounds on Ahluwalia comments; Sensex reclaims 17K

20 Nov 2009, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: Markets staged a smart recovery in the afternoon on Friday as bulls took charge of the rangebound session following comments from the government on capital inflows and tracking positive European markets.

According to reports, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia ruled out the possibility of imposing tax to curb foreign funds. This gave a boost to traders who covered shorts in the last hour of session. Gains in European markets also helped boosted sentiments.

National Stock Exchange’s Nifty closed at 5052.45, up 63.45 points or 127 per cent. The broader index hit a high of 5063.30 and low of 4932.80.

Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex ended at 17021.85, up 236.20 points or 1.41 per cent. The index touched a high of 17041.79 and low of 16635.75.

“Major resistance for Nifty is seen at 5090. The index is likely to spend some time here as supply will emerge around these levels. Once this hurdle is breached then the next Nifty target is seen at 5200,” said Anu Jain, vice president - IIFL Private Wealth Management, India Infoline.

The BSE Midcap Index was up 1.08 per cent and BSE Smallcap Index moved 0.43 per cent up.

Amongst the sectoral indices, BSE Bankex was up 1.95 per cent, BSE Oil&gas Index moved 1.52 per cent higher and BSE Metal Index gained 1.37 per cent.

ACC (5%), SAIL (3.59%), Hindalco Industries (3.50%), M&M (3.25) and Jaiprakash Associates (3.24%) were amongst the top Nifty gainers.

Losers included Reliance Capital (-2.77%), Suzlon Energy (-2.46%), Reliance Power (-1.69%), Bharti Airtel (-1.50%) and HCL Technologies (-1.25%).

Market breadth was positive on the BSE with 1,452 advances and 1,240 declines.

European markets failed to hold on to early gains. FTSE 100 was down 0.34 per cent, CAC 40 slipped 0.62 per cent and DAX declined 0.51 per cent.

In India, you're in gold's own country

21 November 2009

The legend goes that when Venkateswara, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, wanted to marry princess Padmavati, the king asked him to gather wealth comparable to his khazana. Venkateswara, born in a poor family, then sought a loan of gold from Kuber, the god of wealth. Since then, down the ages, devotees have donated gold and jewellery - a symbolic gesture to help Venkateswara win the hand of the princess. At the heart of this practice is the temple at Tirupati, known to be the world's richest. The glitter of gold has attracted Indians for centuries for a variety of reasons - ranging from a medium of transaction to protecting wealth, securing the future and as jewellery. In the recent past, the volatility of the stock markets has only added to the luster of the yellow metal. The fact that gold has traditionally been considered a hedge against inflation and a depreciating dollar too has fuelled its demand.

It is estimated that about 15,000 tonnes of gold is privately held in India, more than twenty-five times as large as the official hoard of 558 tonnes after the RBI's recent purchase of 200 tonnes from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In one year, gold has appreciated by 53 per cent, from $742 to $1,134 an ounce in international markets. Considering this jump, the value of the country's privately held gold reserve, the highest in the world, has jumped from $357 bn to $547 bn, posting a rise of $190 bn (Rs 7.64 lakh crore). "Over a period of ten years, privately held gold reserves have increased significantly in the country as consumers have bought more gold to preserve their wealth," says Dharmesh Sodha, director, World Gold Council- India.

Sodha estimates that the reserve has gone from 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes in the last decade, going by the average net import of 500 tonnes annually. Southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu have the highest per capita gold holding, he added.

Gold is valued in India as a savings and investment vehicle and is the second most prefered investment behind bank deposits. PP Jose, Joy Alukkas Traders India, a Kochi-based jewellery firm, says Kerala accounts for at least 15-20 per cent of the gold business in the country. "Traditionally, people here buy gold at weddings to secure the future of their son or daughter," says Jose. The wealth taken by the bride to her new home also gives her a sense of economic empowerment, he feels.

"As gold offers safety and better liquidity, people prefer to park their savings in the yellow metal," said GR Ananthapadmanaban of GRT Thanga Maligai, a Chennai-based jewellery firm.

Gold purchases in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are almost exclusively meant for weddings, but among the relatively more market savvy Gujaratis, Marwaris and other business communities, gold buying is also driven by the metal's attractiveness as an investment. "I have been buying gold since the last thirty years, but my allocation for gold has increased in the last two years. Earlier, I used to buy 500 grams of gold a year and now I buy about double that amount," says Manoj Soni, a leading bullion investor in Ahmedabad.

Religiosity too seems to make common cause with the most universally recognized symbol of material wealth. Parimal Nathwani, a trustee of the Dwarka and Nathdwara temple trusts, says, "Most temple trusts get a lot of gold as offerings. People believe that God also likes new things."

Whether it's for security, returns or other purposes, what's clear is that India's hunger for gold remains insatiable.

India clears weather ahead of Copenhagen climate summit

19 Nov 2009

NEW DELHI: With a political statement on the anvil in Copenhagen, India put forward its contribution to the mitigation strategy in dealing with climate change.

While indicating that it was willing to be “part of a solution” , New Delhi has reiterated that developed countries will have to take on binding targets.

While acknowledging that India could be a big polluter considering its large population and growing economy, New Delhi has said it would ensure that its per capita emissions never exceed that of developed countries.

“India’s per capita emissions are now around 1.2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent and are expected to be around 2-2 .5 tonnes by 2020 and 3-3 .5 tonnes by 2030. The per capita limit is an onerous binding that India has imposed on itself,” said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

The only concession that India was willing to make was on submitting a national communication on climate change actions and their impact on emissions every two years. In keeping with the offer first made in September by the minister , India has suggested that the national communication could be used as a basis for international consultations.

“This will more than meet the demand for internationalisation of domestic commitments and obligations taken on unilaterally. The format of reporting could be decided by the UNFCCC after discussions and consensus among parties,” Mr Ramesh submitted.

The government could find it difficult to sell this line to the domestic audience as a section has been seeing it as the first step towards accepting international monitoring of establishments funded with domestic resources. But the government leadership has been arguing that national communication and per capita emission limits will help the country counter pressure from the developed world to accept legally binding emission limits.

Another plank of India’s mitigation strategy is the proposal to convert some of the nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMA) into nationally accountable mitigation outcomes (NAMO).

This will be undertaken both through executive or legislative action. This effort would mean indicating specific performance targets in industry, energy, transport, agriculture, buildings and forestry for 2020 and 2030.

These actions will be derived from the National Action Plan on Climate Change and Eleventh Plan document. As early as September, Mr Ramesh had announced that the government was considering bringing a legislation that would broadly indicate targets. There is no forward movement on this as there was political opposition to the proposal.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Incredible India bags Grand Prix Award

New Delhi, Nov 14(PTI) In yet another feather to its cap, the Incredible India campaign bagged the prestigious Grand Prix Award.

Tourism Minister Kumari Selja received the award for the Incredible India promotional film in Vienna yesterday.

"It is a great privilege for me to receive the Grand Prix Award for our new Incredible India promotional film. The film has been used extensively in our global marketing campaigns and has received worldwide recognition," Selja said.

Earlier in the week, Incredible India had got the World Tourism Award for the best destination marketing campaign in London.

"After winning a series of international awards at Berlin, Poland, Romania, France, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Croatia, the film has now been honoured with the prestigious Grand Prix Award," she said.

Food prices jumped 13.32 pc in October

14 Nov 2009

NEW DELHI: India's annual rate of inflation, based on wholesale prices, rose sharply to 1.34 per cent in October from 0.5 per cent in the previous month, mainly on account of a 13.32 per cent jump in prices of food articles.

Data on the official wholesale price index released on Saturday showed that over the past year, prices of potatoes have nearly doubled while onions have become dearer by 37.6 per cent.

Similarly, pulses are costlier by 22.81 per cent, vegetables by 17.02 per cent, rice by 13.22 per cent, wheat by 6.88 per cent, milk by 10.03 per cent and fruits by 5.83 per cent, showed the statistics released by the industry ministry.

During the 12-month period under review, the index for manufactured products was up 1.36 per cent while that for fuels, the other major commodity group, declined by 6.55 per cent.

As per a decision taken by the cabinet, the data on official wholesale price index is now released only on a monthly basis, doing away with the practice of weekly updates, in a bid to curb "volatility" in the markets.

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said food prices would come down "after a month or so" as a result of steps taken to import food and create a buffer stock.

The Reserve Bank of India and the government have warned India's annual inflation rate based on wholesale price index for all commodities will rise to 6-6.5 per cent by March, while the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council has pegged the rate at 6 per cent.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

RSS chief Bhagwat says China becoming a huge threat for India

November 9th, 2009

SHIMLA - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has said that Beijing was becoming a security threat for New Delhi.

Talking to reporters here on Sunday, Bhagwat said: “China has encircled us, it has its base in Burma (Myanmar). We should also have a similar policy and should not allow these neighbouring countries to go with Beijing, and make them friends. They should favour India. Everyone knows China’s policies, but we did not pay attention and have almost lost Nepal.”

Bhagwat further said China makes claims on India’s Arunachal Pradesh State and at the same time wants good ties with New Delhi.

“Intentions of China are not hidden, it attacks Arunachal Pradesh and on the other hand says wants good relations with India,” he said.

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s visit that began on Sunday to Arunachal Pradesh also claimed by China has renewed tensions between the Asian giants.

The visit, as well as reports of border incursions in recent months, has triggered tensions between the two nations.

Beijing, which claims Arunachal Pradesh a part of Tibet, criticised the visit of Dalai Lama. It has slammed the Dalai Lama’s ” visit as a scheme to wreck China’s relations” with India. (ANI)

Headley's phone number in India found; probe makes headway

Mumbai, Nov 10 (PTI) Central security agencies have located the mobile phone number used by David Headley, arrested by FBI for his involvement in an LeT plot to carry out attacks in India, during his stay in Mumbai.

The clue to the mobile phone used by Headley was given by a 38-year-old Parsi lady who was working with him at his immigration services office set up in Mumbai, official sources said.

The security agencies have already started analysising the call records of Headley who has been arrested by FBI on October three for allegedly hatching a conspiracy with Pakistan-based terror group Lashker-e-Taiba to carry out strikes inside and outside the US.

This may also help the security agencies to ascertain whether disappeared cadres of banned SIMI

David Headley posed as Jew in Mumbai

DNAMonday, November 9, 2009

New Delhi: David Coleman Headley and Tahawwura Hussain Rana, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives arrested in the US for planning attacks in India and Denmark, were linked to a Bangladesh-based terror network that was involved in several attacks in South India, sources in the security establishment have told DNA.

Mumbai under attackIt is also learnt that Headley -- who operated an immigration service in Mumbai between 2006 and 2008 as reported by DNA on Sunday -- had allegedly posed as a Jew during his time in the city and even had people buying into his claim.

The Bangladesh-Pakistan network is headed by Syed Abdul Rahman, the unidentified LeT leader in the criminal complaint filed by the FBI in Headley's arrest, before a US court a few days ago.

Shahid Bilal, a Hyderabad-born terrorist who masterminded several terror strikes in India (including the twin-blasts in Hyderabad in 2007) and who was mysteriously killed
in Karachi in August 2007, was also part of the same network, American and Indian investigators believe.

This network -- which includes members from the LeT as well as HuJI -- could have played a role in the Mumbai attacks through Headley and others, some investigators are now beginning to believe.

Investigating officers have fanned out in Mumbai and elsewhere to piece together details of Headley's activities. Details of Rana's visits to India are also being probed. As was reported on Sunday, Rana left Mumbai just five days before the 26/11 attacks, while Headley was in Mumbai on several occasions between 2006 and 2008. There are indications that Rana may have travelled to Gujarat during his visit to India.

Several aspects of Headley's operations in Mumbai during that period are also emerging as investigators interview people who were familiar with him during those days. Apart from the finding about him posing as Jew, it has also been learnt that Headley used rarely used mobile phones and computers.

Details of his mobile phone as well as that of a Tata Indicom landline number he used while operating his business -- a firm named Immigrant Law Centre from AC Market, Tardeo in Mumbai - are now with the investigating team. Officially, his job was to facilitate visas for the US and Canada for semi-skilled and unskilled workers.

Headley preferred to pay salaries and make other payments in cash. He rarely used banking channels, sources also indicate. Headley spent hardly two hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening in the office while in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Union home secretary GK Pillai confirmed that Headley had made repeated visits to India. "We do know that Headley had visited India a number of times. That is being investigated," Pillai told reporters.

On Sunday, DNA had reported that the two terror suspects arrested in the US few days ago, Headley and Rana, had travelled to India in the run-up to the Mumbai attacks and that investigations are on to establish their role in the 26/11 carnage.

Using own name, David Headley stayed at Mumbai hotel

Monday November 9, 2009

David Coleman Headley, arrested by the FBI for planning a terror attack against Delhi, spent a fortnight at a hotel in South Mumbai in 2006.

Headley checked in using his own name at Hotel Outram. Hotel authorities say at that time, they had submitted documents to the Mumbai police as part of the standard procedure of sharing information on foreigners staying at the hotel.

The Mumbai police has confirmed that Headley visited Mumbai at least four times; his accomplice, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, had also visited India. Rana and Headley were both arrested in Chicago last month. Headley allegedly exchanged several emails with top operatives of terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiyaba.

Headley, a US citizen, lived for several years in Pakistan. He was about to catch a flight to Pakistan when he was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare airport.

The Mumbai police says Rana and Headley also met in Mumbai. Between November 2006 and July 2008, Headley also reportedly ran a firm by the name Immigrant Law Centre at the AC Market. The police says that officially, the firm helped applicants to get visas for the US and Canada

A team of Indian officials is in America to interrogate Headley. It has already been revealed that he planned to attack the National Defence College in Delhi.

David Headley's terror mission in Mumbai

David Headley, the Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in October, is proving to be an important link in unraveling the terror network.

Intelligence Bureau agents have informed the Mumbai [ Images ] police that Headley made several visits to the city. The police are now probing Headley's links with the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, IB sources told

According to information available with the IB, Headley visited Mumbai in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He changed his name to David Headley from Daood Gilani around 2006.

Sources say Headley traveled on a business visa; he got in touch with a US firm which specialised in creating fake visas and passports. He located a similar firm in Tardeo, central Mumbai, which helped him procure fake travel documents.

With the help of these fake documents, Headley traveled to India [ Images ] at least five times. During each visit, he made it a point to visit the visa agency.

Headley was present in India when the terror attacks on Mumbai was being planned and he may have been aware of such a plan, the IB sources say.

If investigations reveal that Headley activated a local module to assist the 26/11 attacks, the Mumbai police may file an additional charge-sheet detailing this link, the sources added.

IB agents suspect Headley's brief in Mumbai was to establish a network of sleeper cells to assist terror attacks.

Headley also traveled to other states including Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh [ Images ], using his business visa. The FBI has revealed that Headley had conducted a reconnaissance of the National Defence College in New Delhi where he planned a terror attack.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

China continues to protest Dalai's visit

10 Nov 2009
Beijing condemned Dalai Lama's visit Arunachal Pradesh saying on Tuesday (November 10), it is evidence of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leaders anti-China nature. However, sources in the government clarified that the Dalai Lama won't be involved in anything political and that his visit is spiritual. It is also said that there are no restrictions on his travel in any part of India.

"China strongly opposes the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh. It fully exposed the anti-Chinese nature of the Dalai Lama. China expresses its strong dissatisfaction with India in allowing the Dalai Lama's visit to the disputed area," Qin Gang, Spokesperson, Chinese foreign ministry said.

A day after both the Indian government and the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama openly took a swipe at China, the Dragon has issued a veiled but audacious threat to India. In its state-run paper the People's Daily, China has said that India seems to have forgotten the lessons of 1962 war.

In a provocative article lashing out at India, China also said that Dalai Lama was being used by the Indian government to further its own agenda.

Here is what the People's daily has said, warning of a potential war-like situation: "India may have forgotten the lesson of 1962, when its repeated provocation resulted in military clashes warning. India is on this wrong track again."

Attacking the Dalai Lama for his visit to Tawang, China has also accused the Indian government of using the Dalai Lama to push its own agenda and has once again warned that when the conflict gets sharper and sharper, the Chinese government will have to face it and solve it “in a way India has designed.”

"The Dalai Lama went to southern Tibet at this critical moment probably because of pressure from India. By doing so, he can please the country that has hosted him for years. The appearance and activities of the Dalai Lama in southern Tibet may foment anti-China sentiment among people living in the region. When the conflict gets sharper and sharper, the Chinese government will have to face it and solve it in a way India has designed,” a Chinese analyst Hu Shisheng, a researcher of Southern Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Sunday (November 9).

Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s recent meeting with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh was "just like a gentle breeze" which helped clear up the "suspicion and misunderstanding" clouding bilateral ties, the state-run media here said, seeking to reach out to India after breathing fire over Arunachal Pradesh. In its first positive assessment of the October 24 meeting between Singh and Wen on the margins of the ASEAN Summit in Thailand amid the Chinese protests over Arunachal Pradesh, an editorial in the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling CPC, said the two Prime Ministers reached consensus that the two neighbours should forge a strategic partnership.

"The consensus between Premier Wen and Indian PM Singh is just like a gentle breeze, clearing up all the suspicion and misunderstanding that have hindered bilateral relations over the past decades," it said, two days after China blamed the Dalai Lama for the recent tension in Sino-India ties. The paper noted that during their meeting, Wen and Singh agreed that the two countries should forge a strategic partnership to maintain regional peace and stability, achieve the goal of common development and harmonious prosperity.

China "strongly dissatisfied" with India over Dalai Lama's visit to disputed region


BEIJING, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday said it is "strongly dissatisfied" with India over the Dalai Lama's visit to a disputed China-India border region.

"The Indian side allowed the Dalai Lama to visit the disputed eastern section of the China-India border regardless of China's grave concerns, and China is strongly dissatisfied with this," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a news briefing.

Reports said the Dalai Lama arrived at the so-called "ArunachalPradesh", a disputed region of the China-India border, on Sunday.

"We firmly oppose the Dalai Lama's visit to the region," said Qin. The visit "fully exposes the Dalai Lama's separatist nature."

"His attempt will not succeed," Qin said.

Bajaj, Renault bury hatchet; to announce details of ultra low cost car

10 Nov 2009

Bajaj Auto and Nissan-Renault have resolved their differences and are set to announce the details of the proposed joint venture for making the ultra Bajaj small car prototype

low-cost car on Tuesday. Nissan Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn met Bajaj Auto MD Rajiv Bajaj Monday evening to settle issues relating to branding and the basic concept of the car that were delaying the project.

With Rajiv Bajaj being the only partner Mr Ghosn met in this current visit to India, it seems likely that the $2,500 car will be Nissan-Renault’s flagship project in India. The two partners have decided to go to market together with the ultra low-cost car. Nissan has a joint venture with Ashok Leyland for light trucks and Renault with Mahindra & Mahindra for the Logan sedan. Both these joint ventures are facing problems and Mr Ghosn had last month said it was possible that his group would end up with only one partner in India.

Announced in 2007, the Bajaj-Nissan-Renault partnership has been working on the small car for two years now. The project ran into hiccups over branding, product detail and concept issues. This summer Rajiv Bajaj went on record to say he had asked for all the work done on the project to be scrapped. He wanted major modifications on design, positioning and other details. The new concept that the team came up with has now met with Mr Ghosn’s approval as well.

Mr Ghosn’s India strategy has come under pressure lately because of the poor performance of the Logan sedan which Renault makes and markets in India in partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra.

Relations between Renault and M&M became strained with the Indian partner unhappy over its lack of control on product design. His other JV between Nissan and Ashok Leyland will also see a significant reduction in investment from the earlier announced $500 million.

At the ongoing World Economic Forum summit, Mr Ghosn admitted that there were problems with his partnerships in India but added that he was gung ho about the $2500 car which will compete with the Rs 1 lakh Tata Nano when it rolls out in 2011. He told ET Now on Sunday that Renault, which had earlier frozen overseas investments during the financial crisis, will now resume its investments in India including its share of the $1 billion new factory in Chennai which it will share with Nissan.

"We had suspended the second phase of Chennai investment until we could see where the global car market would end up," Mr Ghosn had said. "Now that the estimate is that the year will end with around 60 million units, up from around 55 million last year, we seem to have hit a plateau. So all plans of expansion can be resumed with a more solid understanding of the future. The Chennai plant will be inaugurated early 2010 and I will be there for it."

With the investment tap turned back on, the ultra low cost car is likely to be the biggest beneficiary. The $2500 car is crucial to Nissan Renault not only because it has been Mr Ghosn's pet dream since 2007 but also because it is at the center of his plan to make India a frugal engineering hub for the group. "I am absolutely convinced about not only the potential of the internal market in India, but also the potential of India as an exporter and also the potential of India as an important participant to the engineering effort and product planning effort of the group," Mr Ghosn had said on Sunday.

Renault had earlier reportedly invited Bajaj to be a part of its 49:51 JV with M&M but Mr Bajaj had turned down the offer. The Logan sedan, Renault's best-selling low cost car worldwide, did not succeed in India. Its product size made it ineligible for the small car excise benefits in India. Cars that are less than 4 metre long or have engines bigger than 1.2 litre for petrol and 1.5 litre for diesel, pay only 8% excise duty while bigger cars pay 20%. Logan sales have declined 69% during the April-September period to 2,901 vehicles.

Economic Times News

China says India has forgotten lessons of 1962 war

Mon, Nov 9 ANI
China says India has forgotten lessons of 1962 war

Tawang, Nov. 9 (ANI): While China has blamed New Delhi for trying to provoke Beijing by orchestrating Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s controversial visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India has rubbished the allegation.

“The Dalai Lama went to southern Tibet at this critical moment probably because of pressure from India. By doing so, he can please the country that has hosted him for years,” the People’s Daily quoted Hu Shisheng, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, as saying.

The report published in China’s state-run newspaper Global times even said that India seems to have forgotten the lessons of 1962 war.

“India may have forgotten the lesson of 1962, when its repeated provocation resulted in military clashes warning. India is on this wrong track again…When the conflict gets sharper and sharper, the Chinese government will have to face it and solve it in a way India has designed,” Hu said.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor, on Monday denied Chinese charges, pointing out that New Delhi does not deal with the travels of religious figures.

“The Dalai Lama is free to travel anywhere in India… I have not heard the suggestion comes from us as we do not deal with the spiritual travels of spiritual leaders. He has to visit his flock as he sees fit,” Tharoor told the India Economic Summit.

He added that he was “sure that the initiative (to visit Tawang) would have come from him”.

Tharoor also said that India had been “very generous” by giving over “58,000 business visas” to the Chinese.

“As far as our basic policy is concerned, we would certainly be hesitant to offer employment to a foreigner for a job which could be done by an Indian in India,” said Tharoor.

Earlier, addressing the mass at Arunachal’s Tawang, Dalai Lama said Beijing’s accusations that his visit was anti-China and damaging to India-China relations are “baseless”.

“My visit to Tawang is non-political and aimed at promoting universal brotherhood and nothing else,” the Nobel Peace laureate had said. (ANI)

Friday, November 6, 2009

13 killed and 30 injured at US Army base

06 Nov 2009

A US army officer called Major Nidal Malik Hasan has been named as the man responsible for killing 13 people and injuring 30
more in a mass shooting at a Texas military base.

Major Hasan, a military psychiatrist who had allegedly called for Muslims to attack Americans over the Iraq war, is critically ill and under guard in hospital.

CCTV images unearthed by US news broadcaster CNN appear to show Hasan in traditional Muslim clothing, including a prayer cap, in a shop on the base in the hours before the killings.

Fort Hood shooting: how the massacre unfolded

Nidal Malik Hasan 'wrote about suicide bombings' The authorities initially believed he had been killed in the ensuing gun battle with police but it later emerged he was still alive despite being shot four times in the incident at Fort Hood base, the largest American military installation in the world.

The serviceman was about to be posted to either Iraq or Afghanistan and argued regularly against the wars, it has been claimed.

Hasan, armed with two handguns, walked into a training centre and opened fire on fellow soldiers who were having last-minute medical check-ups before being deployed to Afghanistan. Thirteen were killed and 30 injured.

However, there were suggestions that some of the dead might have been shot by the authorities in their attempt to stop the gunman.

Hasan is now under guard in hospital where he is unconscious and on a ventilator.

A Muslim by birth, Hasan was born in Virginia, and his family is believed to have come from Jordan.

A former colleague, Col Terry Lee, said Hasan had fallen out with other soldiers on the base. He claimed that Hasan said he was “happy” when a US soldier was killed in an attack on a military recruitment centre in Arkansas in June.

However, Hasan’s cousin said that he had been the victim of harassment but had never expressed violent sentiments.

“He never went to Iraq. He was dealing with people coming back, trying to help them with their trauma,” Nader Hasan said. “He was just normal, loved sports, never got into trouble.” He said his family was “shocked and baffled” by the incident.

Ten of the victims were soldiers and one was a civilian police officer. The identities of the other two are not known.

One of the victims was Amber Bahr, 19, who was shot in the stomach but was later in a stable condition in hospital.

Her mother Lisa Pfund of Wisconsin said: "We know nothing, just that she was shot in the belly."

Earlier, gunfire erupted around the base as two men, thought to have been accomplices, were captured. Police feared there may have been more than one gunman but the two soldiers were later released.

More than 500 soldiers were deployed to lock down Fort Hood as helicopters hovered overhead. Lt Gen Bob Cone, the base’s commander, said: “It has been a terrible tragedy, it’s stunning.

“Soldiers, family members and the civilians that work here are absolutely devastated.

“The shooter was killed. He was a soldier. There were eyewitness accounts that there may have been more than one shooter.”

The shootings took place in the 'soldier readiness center', a former sports dome, where soldiers are sent for final checks before being sent overseas. As well as soldiers about to be deployed, those returning and undergoing medical screening would have been there.

The attack happened shortly before a graduation ceremony for soldiers was due to start at the base.

President Barack Obama, speaking from Washington, described the attack as a “horrific outburst of violence.”

He said: “These are men and women who have made the selfless and courageous decision to risk, and at times, give their lives to protect us. It’s difficult enough when we lose these brave men and women overseas. It is horrifying when we lose them on American soil.”

Officials are examining the possibility that some casualties may have been victims of "friendly fire" according to a senior US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hasan had transferred to Fort Hood in July from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he received a poor performance evaluation, according to an official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said generals at Fort Hood told her that Hasan was about to deploy overseas. Retired Col Terry Lee, who said he had worked with Hasan, told Fox News he was being sent to Afghanistan.

Fort Hood is one of America’s most important bases for training its forces and tens of thousands of soldiers go through every year.

It covers an area of 340 sq miles near Killeen, some 50 miles from Waco, Texas. There are up to 65,000 people, including military families, on the site at any one time.

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said: “Our dedicated military personnel have sacrificed so much in service to our country and it sickens me that the men and women of Fort Hood have been subjected to this senseless, random violence.”

John Carter, a local Republican congressman, said: “I had a man on the scene, who is the former chaplain at Fort Hood. He was waiting to go to a graduation ceremony when a soldier came running up to him saying somebody was shooting. He heard small arms and rifle fire.”

Fort Hood has also been working to rehabilitate many soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, Mr Carter said.

Base commanders and the Pentagon said they had no early indication of a motive for the shootings.

The base has seen other violence in recent years. In September last year a 21-year-old 1st Cavalry Division soldier shot dead his lieutenant and then killed himself.

Five American soldiers also died in Baghdad earlier this year in a shooting by one of their comrades at a combat stress clinic. It had been set up following criticism that the US military had not done enough to treat soldiers who had undergone repeated tours of duty.

Fort Hood is close to the site of one of the worst mass shootings in American history. On October 16, 1991, George Hennard smashed his pickup truck through a window of Luby's Cafeteria window in Killeen, Texas, and fired on the lunchtime crowd with a high-powered pistol, killing 22 people and wounding at least 20 others

Rupee strengthens to over one-week high

6 November 2009

MUMBAI: The rupee strengthened to its highest in more than a week on Friday as traders sold dollars on expectations of gains in the local sharemarket and watched the US unit's moves versus majors for direction.

At 9:30 am, the partially convertible rupee was at 46.78/79 per dollar, off an early high of 46.7650, its strongest since October 27 and half a per cent above its previous close of 47.0150/0250.

"Stocks are up globally, which is supporting sentiment for the rupee as well," a senior dealer at a private bank said, predicting a range of 46.70-46.90 for the day.

At 0400 GMT, the MSCI index of Asian stocks ex-Japan was 1.7% higher, while the Nifty India stock futures traded in Singapore were up 0.9%.

Local shares are set to open higher, mirroring the rise in world equities after better-than-expected US jobs data bolstered investor confidence in the global economy.

Foreign funds have so far this year purchased a net $14.2 billion worth of Indian shares, helping the rupee recover from a record low of 52.2 in early March.

Last year, they had sold more than a net $13 billion, pushing the rupee down by a fifth. The dollar held steady on Friday with investors consolidating positions ahead of October non-farm payrolls data due later in the session, a report that would highlight the durability of an economic recovery.

One-month offshore non-deliverable forward rupee contracts were quoting at 46.74/84, marginally stronger than the onshore spot rate, suggesting a bullish outlook in the near term.