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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is china's Growth slowing?

Asian Markets Slump On Concerns About China Growth (Report)
The markets across Asia ended trading session Tuesday sharply lower taking cues from China's Shanghai Market, where the index plunged more than 4% after the Conference Board stated that the leading indicators' index for April, released earlier on June 15, has been revised downwards to a gain of 0.3% against 1.7% growth reported in the earlier report. Concerns that the Chinese economy might face headwinds in near future, unable to sustain the growth momentum, also impacted markets across the region, leading to sharp declines.

Monday, June 28, 2010

When Singh speaks, people listen: Obama


Praising the statesmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the rise of India, U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday said he was “looking forward” and “excited” about visiting India with First Lady Michelle later this year.

Personally thanking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and wife Gurcharan Kaur for their friendship, Mr. Obama also hoped his visit to India — scheduled for the early part of November — would be extremely productive for the two sides.

“It is a trip that I’m very much looking forward to,” said Mr. Obama, before holding talks with Dr. Singh after the conclusion of the G20 Summit that also saw the convergence of views expressed by India and the U.S.

“We are also just excited because of the tremendous cultural, as well as political and social and economic examples, that India is providing the world and has in the past,” said the U.S. president.

Mr. Obama, particularly, had a lot of praise for Dr. Singh.

“I can tell you that here at G20, when the prime minister speaks, people listen,” he said, adding it was because of his deep knowledge of economic issues, the nuances of India’s rise as a world power and its commitment towards global peace and prosperity.

The U.S. president also recalled that the State dinner hosted by him for Dr. Singh — the first for his presidency — was “wonderful” and that it had set the tone for India-U.S. ties that they had both termed as a strategic partnership.

“We want to make sure that in addition to government-to-government ties, we were initiating people-to-people ties,” he said, adding emphasis also remained on how to get the businesses of the two side to work together.

Dr. Singh, on his part, also praised Mr. Obama no length and said it was because of him that the strategic partnership between India and the U.S. was getting a new thrust, meaning and endeavour.

“You are a role model for millions and millions of people all over the world,” said the prime minister said of Mr. Obama, almost 30 years his junior. “Your life history is a history that inspires millions of people everywhere.”

Dr. Singh said it was his privilege to enjoy Mr. Obama’s friendship, and assured that he was waiting to welcome the US president and his family to India so that they could also see for themselves the transformations the nation was undergoing.

I'm one of the most watched scandal on YouTube: Nityananda

BANGALORE: Freed from the confines of prison, where he spent 53 days on charges of rape, self-styled godman Nityananda says the purported video footage of him with an actress has not affected him spiritually, but socially - 'from being one of the most watched gurus on YouTube to one of the most watched scandals.

'Spiritually nothing changes, because the truth is always the same. But socially I can say many things have changed. I used to be the one of the most watched guru on youtube - now I am one of the most watched scandal on YouTube!' the 32-year-old swami said.

The godman defended himself from 'media reported charges' of sexually exploiting gullible women, pointing out that over 23 lakh women have so far attended his programmes. 'In my ashram, I have female ashramites aged between eight and 80. Though CID issued repeated appeals since March this year, not a single woman has lodged any complaint so far.'

'Over 300 women come to the ashram each day for darshan and blessing', said the swami, whose ashram faces allegations of asking women devotees to sign an agreement stating that the course enrolled for could involve exposure to nudity.

He appeared in no hurry to clear his name. 'After three months, I think devotees and public are beginning to understand the truth. All their queries are being automatically answered. I think I can say I don't need to clear my image because in course of time the truth will emerge on its own strength.'

Nityananda felt spirituality has not entered deep enough into money, sex or politics.'

'We always have an idea that spirituality should be kept separate from regular activities. No! Only if spirituality penetrates every dimension of our life can even material life become sacred. And only then can planet Earth move to the next level of super consciousness', he said.

The 'godman' hit the headlines last March after a purported video footage showing him in a compromising position with a Tamil actress was aired on local TV channels.

Told that swamis being embroiled in controversies seemed the order of the day and asked when religion, money, sex and politics has got mixed, he said 'The problem is exactly the opposite! Religion - or rather, spirituality - has not entered deep enough into money, sex or politics'.

Asked whether the incident had made him mentally stronger, Nityananda Swami,who reportedly spent hours meditating in prison, said 'I can say all devotees who survived so much sensationalism have emerged stronger. It has been a tremendous learning experience for all.'

Nityananda Swami does not appear to hold a grudge against those who distanced themselves from him following legal wrangles. 'Any individual handles a life situation according to his own intelligence and understanding', he said.

'So some people got carried away by rumours. Those who experienced the truth around me stayed strong throughout. Some were shaken, but are bouncing back as the rumours are being cleared', he said.

The alleged video had allegedly been shot by his driver Lenin, who is being questioned by police.

'Let us move towards peace and positivity. Let us work towards a world where there is space for everyone to coexist peacefully. Let us live and let live', he said.

Reiterating his philosophy that inner peace, freedom and contentment were not results of any favourable conditions, but of perception, he said he perceived little difference in the days spent in prison and ashram.

'When you clutch onto one place, one lifestyle, one set of people as your own, all other places become alien for you. When no place is your own, all places are yours!', he said.

'Physically there may be some hardship in prison life, but mentally I am always free, always blissful. Your outer freedom can be taken away, but your inner freedom is always your own choice', said the swami

Asked whether his prison stay would impact his missionary goals, Nityananda who has several followers all over the globe said 'The mission is poised for a giant leap. Between the mission as it was and what is going to happen now, I can say these few months are nothing more than a small 'intermission.'

My mission never changes- to raise spiritual consciousness of our planet and create a harmonious world through yoga and meditation.

'Whether happens through words or silence, let the Divine decide', he said when asked of plans to continue his missionary goals in the face of a court directive restraining him from preaching.

'My concern is for my ashramites, devotees and seekers who chose this path and want to receive spiritual guidance. I feel their suffering. But I shall abide by the High Court direction', said the swami who has now sought relaxation of bail conditions.

He reiterated his trust in truth and prevalence of justice. 'Satyameva jayate - Truth alone triumphs. Clouds can only hide the sun, they cannot destroy it! Yes I believe in the judicial system. Ultimately, justice will prevail', he said

India, Canada sign civil nuclear deal

Toronto:Ending a 36-year-old freeze in nuclear cooperation, Canada signed a landmark civil nuclear deal with India with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assuring that imported uranium and atomic technology will not be used for 'any unintended purpose.' Singh said the nuclear cooperation pact 'breaks new grounds' in the history of Indo-Canadian cooperation in the atomic sector while his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper called it a good agreement because 'we cannot live in the past of 1970s'.

The agreement signed in the presence of Singh and Harper came 36 years after Canada halted nuclear cooperation with India and slapped sanctions after it exploded a nuclear bomb in 1974 for which Canadian-designed reactors were used. Singh and Harper also provided eassurances that there were adequate safeguards in the civilian deal. The agreement will enable India to import Canadian atomic equipment and technology and secure uranium by providing the Canadian nuclear industry access to theexpanding multi-billion dollar Indian nuclear market. The possibility of having joint ventures will also be explored.

Canada is the eighth nation to reach a civil nuclear deal with India since the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, a cartel which trades in nuclear fuel, equipment and technology, lifted a 34-year ban on India in 2008. US, France and Russia are among the countries with which India has civil nuclear pacts. 'We have complete civilian control and there is no scope whatsoever for any nuclear material or equipment being
supplied going for any unintended purpose,' Singh told a joint press conference with Harper after the agreement was signed by Srikumar Banerjee, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy and host Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon.

'Nuclear material supplied to India will be fully safeguarded in terms of agreement signed with IAEA. We have fool-proof system of export controls,' Singh said responding to a question whether there were enough safeguards to prevent nuclear material coming to India under such agreements being used for any weapons programme. Singh the first Indian Head of the Government to visit Canada after I K Gujral's trip here 16 years ago, said the agreement 'breaks new grounds' in the history of bilateral cooperation in the sector.

'It reflects the change in International realities and will open new doors for mutually beneficial cooperation in nuclear technology,' he added.
In an apparent reference to sanctions imposed by Canada on India after the Pokhran-I and Pokhran-II atomic tests in 1974 and 1998, Harper said his country cannot live in the past. 'We cannot live as a country in 1970s. We have got assurances of safeguards in place in relation to the nuclear cooperation which is bigger than in the past. India is very important in the future. It shares with us many ideals,' he
said. A joint statement issued at the end of the Singh-Harper meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit said the two Prime
Ministers committed themselves to the ratification of the nuclear agreement and completion of all remaining steps necessary to ensure its early implementation. The two leaders also strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and agreed to direct their respective governments toward greater cooperation in counter-terrorism and security related matters.

Singh also made it clear to Canada and the Sikh community that the Canadian soil should not be allowed to be used for promoting extremism against India and hoped the government here was 'alive to what is happening'. PTI

Reliance Communication in Rs 50,000 Cr telecom tower deal

Anil Ambani group today announced a Rs 50,000-cr deal to merge its telecom tower business with GTL infrastructure, a move that would help RCom cut down its debts by more than half.

The Boards of RCom, its subsidiary Reliance Infratel Ltd. and GTL Infrastructure today in-principle approved a Rs 50,000-crore (USD 11 billion) deal to create the world’s largest independent telecom infrastructure company, neither owned nor controlled by any telecom operator, the company said in a statement.

RCom in a statement said that the cash infusion and equity swap ratio would be decided in due course of time.

Sources close to the deal said that the deal would help RCom reduce its Rs 33,000-crore debt by Rs 18,000 crore.

The deal comes soon after the warring Ambani brothers called off their five-year-long dispute and scrapped the non-compete agreement between the two.

This transformational deal will be implemented through a demerger of RINFRATEL’s tower assets into GTL INFRA, it added.

India’s largest optic fibre network of over 200,000 kms and related assets owned by RINFRATEL will remain under RCom’s ownership.

Earlier this month, the RCom Board had separately in-principle approved a proposal for induction of strategic and/or private equity investors for a 26 per cent shareholding in the company at an appropriate premium to the prevailing market price, and/or appropriate consolidation / combination options, and those discussions are continuing.

Elaborating on the deal structure, the company said that the cash infusion into RCom will lead to substantial reduction of its consolidated gross debt and improved leverage ratios, which in turn would result in enhanced financial flexibility.

Besides, the two million shareholders of RCom would get free listed shares of the merged entity, the ratio for which will be decided soon.

“Details of the quantum of cash infusion to RCom, and the share swap ratios for RCom and RINFRATEL minority shareholders will be finalised in due course with the help of independent valuers and advisors,” an ADAG statement said.

Upon closing itself, the merged entity will have over 80,000 towers and over 1,25,000 tenancies from over 10 telecom operators, such as Reliance Communications, Aircel, Etisalat DB Telecom, MTS, Uninor Telecom, Videocon Mobile, Tata Teleservices, Vodafone, S Tel. In addition, the merged entity will have a firm option on additional 75,000 tenancies from leading players.

Based on the developments in the Indian telecom sector, including inter alia, and the likely future demand for telecom infrastructure across the country from 14 players in 2G, and winners in the recent auction for 3G (9 players) and BWA (Broadband Wireless Access — 8 players), the merged entity is expected to derive substantially higher tenancy ratios, apart from scale benefits and operational synergies.

The interests of RCom as the largest tenant of the merged entity will be adequately protected through appropriate contractual arrangements.

The proposed transaction is subject to receipt of all necessary approvals, customary due diligence, definitive documentation, among others. It is anticipated that, barring unforeseen circumstances, the transaction will achieve final closing over the next 6 months.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pakistan for cooperation between FIA, CBI over terrorism, 26/11

June 27, 2010

Islamabad: Singalling a step forward, Pakistan Saturday indicated its willingness to provide voice samples of the handlers of the Mumbai attacks and said that the investigating agencies of the two countries will work together to prevent any future 26/11-like attack.

Turning the spotlight firmly on its continuing concerns over cross-border terror, India conveyed to Pakistan that more people were behind the Mumabi terror spree and asked for "visible" action against those involved in 26/11 that led to the suspension of the composite dialogue between the two countries.

In a joint press interaction with Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik suggested that its Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) and India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) work together on the issue of terrorism, including on the Mumbai terror attack.

"We will like our FIA and CBI to interact with each other in matters of terrorism including the Mumbai attacks," Malik said.

"We have resolved together that both agencies from India and Pakistan will be working together and we will not allow any such incident in future," he replied when asked about India’s contention that another 26/11 would derail the resumed dialogue process.

Both ministers struck a positive and hopeful note on the course of future engagement.

"I will leave tomorrow with the conviction that we have both exchanged views, we both understand the requirements of the situation," said Chidambaram about his talks with Malik here Friday evening.

"We both agreed that we shall address the situation with seriousness it deserves. So I go back with confidence that the outcome of our meeting and interaction will be very good for both the countries," he said.

"Nobody is questioning anyone’s intention. It is the outcome that will decide whether we have the right track," Chidambaram replied when asked about the slow pace of the probe and trial by Pakistan in the 26/11 case.

"Let the outcomes be visible. We have agreed that there are certain outcomes we are looking forward to."

Malik, on his part, promised to bring the Mumbai trial to its logical conclusion. "Our resolve is against terrorism and the resolve is to take the Mumbai attack terrorists, criminals to their logical conclusion."

"We are both against the acts of terrorism and we will work together to clear this menace in this region," he said.

Addressing a press conference separately, Malik said that Pakistan "will provide every possible assistance in addition to what you are talking about - voice samples".

In a hard-hitting reminder to Pakistan to come clean on the Mumbai attacks, Chidambaram said: "We think more people were behind the Mumbai attack and more people should be prosecuted."

"That point has been made to the Pakistan government and I wish to remain positive on the outcome of the meeting with Rehman Malik," he said.

Without going into specifics, Malik told journalists: "What we have discussed we should have discussed. The idea is to strike heavily against terrorists. We will take India into confidence."

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had a separate meeting with Chidambaram, assured India that his country would move with "full force" against terrorists.

Saying terrorists wanted to derail the dialogue between India and Pakistan, he said: "We ourselves are victims of terrorism. We should join hands to defeat the common enemy."

India called off the dialogue with Pakistan after the November 26-29, 2008 Mumbai carnage that killed 166 Indians and foreigners and which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani terrorists.

After initially denying any Pakistani link to Mumbai, in which one Pakistani terrorist was caught alive, Islamabad later blamed "non-state" actors.

Chidambaram did not elaborate on what he and Malik had discussed one-on-one.

"We know seven people are being prosecuted (for Mumbai). How far this prosecution has proceeded, this is for Pakistan to tell," he said, while noting that the trial scheduled for Saturday had been adjourned for a week.

"I have conveyed whatever was unnecessary to my Pakistani counterpart, and he has conveyed whatever was necessary.

"We spoke with each other. We spoke directly to each other, and I am confident that something good will emerge out of that meeting. So, let us try to remain positive."

Pakistan, too, stressed the need to remain positive ahead of next month’s meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers, S.M. Krishna and Qureshi, in Islamabad.

Qureshi said when India suspended the dialogue with Pakistan following the Mumbai attack, the net beneficiaries were the terrorists.

"It is in our mutual interest to have tangible progress, and we will make tangible progress," he said. "I am confident these meetings will develop into positive outcomes."

In his discussions with Malik, Chidambaram impressed upon his host to address India’s core concerns over terrorism with the seriousness they deserve and asked Islamabad to take concrete action against the Mumbai attackers and their handlers in Pakistan.

Building on the June 24 talks between the two foreign secretaries in Islamabad, Chidambaram sought concrete action against Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of 26/11, he sought the evidence presented by the Pakistan government against Saeed. Islamabad had earlier cited legal grounds due to which Saeed could not be prosecuted.

Friday, June 25, 2010

India to Pakistan: Time for dossiers over, act against Saeed

Islamabad/New Delhi: A day after their foreign secretary-level talks focused on trust-building measures, India Friday turned the spotlight on terror and asked Pakistan to act urgently on the dossiers provided by New Delhi, saying there was enough material to move against Mumbai terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the first Indian minister to visit Pakistan since the 26/11 terror attack and the first Indian home minister to visit Islamabad in decades, held wide-ranging talks focused on the Mumbai attacks with his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik at the interior ministry in Islamabad.

Chidambaram also met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Signalling a distinct easing of ties strained after the 26/11 attacks, Malik went to the Chaklala Air Base in Rawalpindi and personally received Chidambaram, who was wearing his trademark spotless white shirt and dhoti. He was accorded a red carpet welcome and presented a ceremonial Guard of Honour.

Chidambaram is to participate in the SAARC home ministers' conference in Islamabad Saturday.

The Chidambaram-Malik talks lasted for nearly one and a half hour, but it ended without any announcement to the media. The sources said the bilateral talks between the two ministers may continue Saturday on the margins of the SAARC conference.

In his discussions with Malik, official sources said, Chidambaram impressed upon his host to address India's core concerns over terrorism with the seriousness they deserve and asked Pakistan to take demonstrable action against the Mumbai attackers and their handlers in Pakistan.

Building on Thursday's foreign secretary-level talks that were held in the spirit of the Thimphu thaw to bridge the trust deficit, Chidambaram underlined that India has given enough dossiers - an 11th was given a few days ago - and it was time for Pakistan to act and bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage swiftly to justice.

Stressing on concrete action against Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group, Chidambaram sought the evidence presented by the Pakistan government against Saeed as Islamabad had earlier cited legal difficulties in prosecuting the anti-India ideologue. He also sought voice samples of the Pakistani handlers of the 10 Pakistani terrorists who stormed Mumbai Nov 26-29, 2008 that left 166 people, including 26 foreigners, dead and took up the recent spike in infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, unlike the foreign secretary level talks that were seen as exploratory trust-building exercise, Chidambaram reverted to a hardline on terror, underlining that if Islamabad continued to drag its feet over taking action against the 26/11 attackers and their handlers, no meaningful progress in relations can be made.

The two ministers began bilateral talks, with Malik saying that they are meeting with an 'open heart'.

'We are meeting with an open heart,' Malik told Pakistani reporters before Chidambaram flew into Islamabad.

Before leaving for Islamabad, Chidambaram made it clear that he will tell 'politely, but firmly' that the time has come to address issues concerning the Mumbai attack.

'I will use the opportunity to bring home to Pakistan the gravity of issues and the need for response that is appropriate to the gravity of the situation,' he said in New Delhi.

'It has been 18 months since I took over. The time has come to address these issues (regarding the Mumbai attack) with seriousness that they warrant. That is what I am going to tell them politely, but firmly,' Chidambaram said.

In an interview to Times Now TV news channel in New Delhi before leaving for Islamabad, Chidambaram said unambiguously that the time for giving dossiers was over and asked the Pakistani leadership to act against its nationals, including Hafiz Saeed. He also ruled out any dilution of India's stand on terrorism.

'I am not going there to score debating points. I am going to ask the Pakistani leadership to deliberate on the material that has been given and take appropriate action,' Chidambaram said.

Malik, on his part, said he would satisfy India's concerns over Hafiz Saeed and terrorism.

'Let's exchange hearts and not dossiers. We are meeting with a clean state,' Malik said in Islamabad before holding talks with Chidambaram.

The foreign-secretary level talks and the meeting between the home ministers will prepare the stage for the meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi July 15.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao held talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Islamabad Thursday.

Busy schedule awaits Manmohan Singh in Canada

PTI June 26, 2010

Toronto: Prime minister Manmohan Singh will have a series of meetings with world leaders, including his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, on the sidelines of G-20 summit, officials said here today.

Singh, who is scheduled to arrive at the Pearson International Airport here this evening, will meet Harper later today to discuss regional and global issues of shared interests, officials said.

He would also have separate meetings with US president
Barack Obama, British prime minister David Cameron, French
president Nicolas Sarkozy and Japan's prime minister Naoto Ka.

Singh is also scheduled to meet the leaders of the BRIC countries -- Brazil, Russia and China.

Apart from Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement, India and Canada are expected to sign an MOU for Cooperation in Mining, an MOU for Cooperation in Higher Education, an MOU for Cooperation in Culture and a Social Security Agreement,
the sources said.

Agreements and MoUs will be signed after a bilateral meeting between Singh and his Canadian counterpart Harper on
June 27.

Harper will host a special dinner in honour of Singh which is expected to be attended by over 400 dignitaries. Singh is scheduled to leave Toronto on Monday to return to India.

Before conclusion of his visit, Singh will meet Indo-Canadian members of the House of Commons and Senate and members of Ontario legislative assembly and others.

He may also visit Air India Memorial and meet families of victims if time permits.

"Canada and India are developing the tremendous potential of our relationship by rapidly expanding commercial, cultural and educational ties," Harper had said in a statement.

"I look forward to working with prime minister Singh to further capitalise on our shared strengths," Harper added.

Prior to his departure to Canada for G20 Summit, Singh said: "India will participate in this exercise and project our expectations from the global economic and financial system, and the kind of global growth processes that we seek."

"The challenge of the summit will be three fold - to ensure that global economic recovery is durable, balanced and sustainable; to calibrate exit strategies in the light of growing concerns over expansionary fiscal policies; and to focus on medium and long-term structural issues relating to governance issues. To meet our ambitious development targets it is necessary that the global economy continue to recover in a stable and predictable manner," Singh added.

Sun TV Network to launch music show

Chennai: South Indian satellite channel Sun TV Network will launch a music game show on its four popular southern language channels, a top company official said.
The one hour programme 'Sangeeta Mahayuddham,' patterned on the popular Hindi programme 'Music ka Maha Muqabla' will run for 14 weeks at 9.30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays on Sun TV (Tamil) and Gemini (Telugu). The time and date for the programme to be aired on Surya (Malayalam) and Udaya (Kanada) channels are yet to be announced.

'This is going to be the biggest music game show on the southern channels in which six popular singers and their teams will be competing against each other,' Ajay Vidyasagar, chief operating officer Sun TV Network Ltd told reporters.

Produced by Mumbai-based Saibaba Telefilms Pvt Ltd, the music programmes will be hosted by playback singer Chinmayi K Sripadaa in Tamil and by actress Udaya Bhanu in Telugu.

As per the format, six teams led by popular singers will battle it out in the Sangeeta Mahayuddham for 14 weeks.

'Some of the team members are fresh talent. In Tamil, each team will have a child competitor,' Vidyasagar added.

In the Tamil format, three teams led by Vijay Yesudass, Mathangi and Srilekha Parthasarathy have got sponsors while the other three teams are expected get their sponsors soon.

Similarly in Telugu language format, two teams led by Hemachandra and Malavika have got sponsors.

Government clears addition of channels in DD Direct

New Delhi:The government has cleared the incorporation of up to 100 channels in DD Direct Plus by March 31 next year and 200 channels by December 2011, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni Friday said.
DD Direct Plus, a direct-to-home service that provides television and audio programming, was free to air and the government intended to keep it that way, she told media persons at an interaction.

Soni also said her ministry is likely to seek an amendment to the Prasar Bharti Act to remove a provision which called for setting up a committee of parliamentarians to oversee the functioning of the Prasar Bharti Board.

The minister said that there was a feeling that there was no need of another committee since a standing committee already existed.

She said that that group of ministers on Prasar Bharti was looking at the recruitment rules and was likely to give its report by July 31.

On the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill, she said a task force under the secretary of the information and broadcasting ministry had consulted various stakeholders and would soon finalise its results.

The minister also said that International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will have a restructured two-tier jury.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gold Prices breaks records -Are we heading for a double dip recession

London Gold Bullion Market Historical
Average Gold Prices (1968 - 2010)

Year AVG.
1968 38.69
1969 41.09
1970 35.94
1971 40.80
1972 58.16
1973 97.32
1974 159.26
1975 161.02
1976 124.84
1977 147.71
1978 193.22
1979 306.68
1980 612.56
1981 460.03
1982 375.67
1983 424.35
1984 360.48
1985 317.26
1986 367.66
1987 446.46
1988 436.94
1989 381.44
1990 383.51
1991 362.11
1992 343.82
1993 359.77
1994 384.00
1995 384.17
1996 387.77
1997 331.02
1998 294.24
1999 278.98
2000 279.11
2001 271.04
2002 309.73
2003 363.38
2004 409.72
2005 444.74
2006 603.46
2007 695.39
2008 871.96
2009 972.34
2010 1260 ( As on June 19 / 2010)

Investors Fear Winds of Debt Crisis and Future Inflation, Gold Sails to Record Highs

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A renewed interest in safe-haven assets lifted gold prices to new nominal highs Friday and market watchers said the near-term trajectory for the yellow metal is to $1,350 an ounce and higher by year’s end.

Gold prices built on the record high set Thursday, this time rising past $1,260. August gold futures at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange traded as high as $1,263.70 Friday, while spot gold touched $1,256.90. Other precious metals were not to be undone, and they rose in unison. At 12:45 p.m. EST August gold was up $12.20 to $1260.90.

The backdrop that has lifted gold this year – the European debt crisis, worries of future inflation, the desire to hold physical hard assets – continue to be winds behind gold’s sails. Technical chart formations add to the bullish undercurrent, allowing the yellow metal to glide higher.

“The credit issue in Europe – a lot of those countries are diversifying to hold metals,” said Daniel Pavilonis, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock. “We’re seeing flight to quality from the euro.”

Concern over fiat currencies is one reason that investors have turned to gold and to a lesser extent other precious metals as part of a larger flight to quality to less risky assets. Although the U.S. dollar is also a fiat currency, it is benefitting at this time from safe-haven buying, and like gold is rising to multi-year highs against the euro. Although the U.S. has its own public debt problems, risk-averse buyers are seeing it as a “best of the worst” currencies.

Spencer Patton, founder of Steel Vine Investments, said technical charts are acting perfectly for bulls. “We’re making a series of higher highs and higher lows. We’ve had a break out day,” he said.

He said given that gold is making new highs it’s hard to point to specific price targets, but he said his next objective for gold is $1,350, based on measurements from gold’s break out.

The slow steady climb of gold is a positive sign for higher prices. It’s much better to see rallies of $10 or $15. Rallies of $40 or $50 show signs of a top,” he said. “Gold is really behaving well. We’ve worked out that overbought condition (from the last rally) and we’re seeing new buying come in.”

Pavilonis said some of the buying comes from a “snowball” effect where smaller investors are coat-tailing the action of larger investors.

Investors in exchange-traded funds continue to pile in, with Barclays Capital noting holdings in SPDR, the largest physically backed exchange-traded fund increased by 1.83 metric tons, to a fresh record high of 1,307.96 tons. The bank said the vigor of investor buying is overshadowing otherwise bearish fundamentals such as mine supply growing on balance, official sector sales rising and Indian imports slowing.

“In our view, barring profit taking and margin requirements in the near term, the external environment is set to remain favorable for investor interest to drive prices higher as the year unfolds,” the bank said in a research note.

While Thursday’s economic data in the form of U.S. jobless claims and housing data pressured the larger markets, Pavilonis said overall the economic data is mixed, noting the manufacturing data is showing some growth. The main concern, though, is that the jobs data is not picking up as it should if the U.S. economy was picking up steam, which is part of gold’s allure.

He said by the end of the year, gold prices could see $1,500 as a “conservative” estimate.

Among Thursday’s economic reports was the U.S. consumer price index, an inflation gauge. The main number fell again, which could be a sign of deflation. If deflation is truly happening, Patton said then that is negative for gold prices. “A double-dip recession where we turn from slow growth to negative is bearish for gold. It would make me change my investment thesis and I’d be a seller in that case,” he said.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Will June 18 Witness a New Era for Ambanis and Corporate India

The scene is now set for an expected arrival of the younger sibling at the annual shareholders meeting of Mukesh-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd after the brothers holidayed together with their families last week in South Africa.

After five years of bitterness, reconciliation between the warring Ambani brothers seems to be on the cards. Sources told Headlines Today that Mukesh and Anil Ambani might reunite at Mumbai's Birla Matoshree on Friday when the Reliance Industries Limited's (RIL) annual general meeting takes place.

It is believed that Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) chairman Anil would attend the AGM along with his wife to settle the fratricidal strife once and for all.

Thousands of RIL shareholders will gather at Mumbai’s Birla Matoshree hall, looking forward to the crucial announcements by company’s chairman, Mukesh Ambani.

June 18 also marks five years to the day since mother Kokilaben Ambani inked the family settlement, dividing the Reliance group empire between Anil and Mukesh.

There could be a twist in the tale. There is the near-certainty of Mukesh unveiling plans for RIL’s big-bang entry into new areas of business such as telecoms, power, coal and renewable energy – signalling the end of a non-compete pact with Anil.

With its recent acquisition of Infotel Broadband, RIL has already announced its entry into the telecom space.

“RIL has been making enquiries on coal mines as also thermal power generation,” a senior government official confirmed.

A senior RIL official said, “The group is evaluating all areas including coal and power but we are in no hurry.”

Mukesh, sources said, will also talk about the gas pact, which was the main bone of contention with younger brother Anil.

A six-week deadline set by the Supreme Court to the Ambani brothers to work out a new gas pact that went to the country’s highest court draws to a close on June 21.

Sources close to the Ambani family said the agreement is more or less sealed.

“The broader terms and conditions of the pact are settled,” said a source, adding only the quantity of gas to be given by Mukesh’s RIL to Anil’s RNRL has to be decided by a ministers’ group.

Biz tycoon Mallya wins BJP backing for Rajya Sabha

Bangalore: Business tycoon Vijay Mallya is set to win the Rajya Sabha poll here Thursday as an Independent with the support of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Janata Dal-Secular.

The BJP, however, is fighting shy of openly saying its surplus votes will go to Mallya as he is backed by arch-rival JD-S.

'We have decided to defeat the Congress,' state BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa told reporters after a meeting of party legislators here Wednesday. It was attended by former BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu, state Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and all party legislators.

The meeting was called to formally decide on what the party should do with its surplus votes.

Asked why the party is not openly saying it will support Mallya, a spokesperson said: 'When we say we have decided to defeat Congress, it indirectly means we will support Mallya'.

Voting will take place for four seats. There are five candidates, two each from BJP and Congress, and Mallya, who has entered the fray as an Independent sponsored by the JD-S.

Mallya, who is assured of support by the 27 JD-S assembly members, needs another 17 votes for victory and has been lobbying with BJP for those ballots.

A candidate needs 45 first preference votes of assembly members, who make up the electoral college for the Rajya Sabha polls, to get elected.

The BJP, with 116 legislators and support of five independents, is assured of victory of its two candidates, former party president M. Venkaiah Naidu and state leader Ayanur Manjunath.

The Congress with 74 members can win one seat for which it has fielded general secretary and former union minister Oscar Fernandes.

The battle for the fourth seat is between Mallya and Congress' second candidate T.V. Maruthi, one of the biggest silk merchants in Karnataka.

BJP's formulation of 'defeat the Congress' has been arrived at as there was opposition by a section within the party to back Mallya because JD-S had proposed his name.

BJP is angry with JD-S as it had gone back on transferring power to it in 2007 as part of the understanding when the two formed a coalition government in 2006.

Another reason is that Mallya had defeated BJP's candidate in the 2002 Rajya Sabha poll from Karnataka.

His entry as an Independent then had prompted several BJP legislators to vote for him against the party's nominee D.K. Tharadevi, who was earlier a Congress Lok Sabha member.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Arjun Singh sent Anderson out to protect law and order: Pranab

Kolkata: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said that then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh had decided to send Union Carbide Corporation CEO Warren Anderson out of Bhopal in view of the deteriorating law and order situation after the gas tragedy in 1984.

Mukherjee, speaking to reporters here, quoted Arjun Singh's statement on Dec 8, 1984, five days after the gas leak at the Union Carbide India Ltd's pesticides unit in Bhopal that killed an estimated 25,000 people over the years.

'In his statement, Arjun Singh had clearly said there was deterioration of law and order... Therefore it was thought right to send him out of Bhopal. Arjun Singh made the statement Dec 8, 1984 as chief minister,' said Mukherjee, the number two in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

On the question of extraditing Anderson, he said: 'The question of extradition has come up. We will explore the possibility of extradition.'

He refused to comment on the verdict delivered by the Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court in Bhopal June 7, but said the government will go to a 'higher judiciary'.

Singh has not broken his silence on issues related to the gas tragedy since the court June 7 convicted seven accused in the gas leak case. However, they were sentenced to a mere two years in jail and were immediately freed on bail.

Anderson, a proclaimed offender in India in the 1984 chemical disaster, is currently in the US.

600-800 militants waiting to infiltrate: Army commander

There is no let-up on Pakistan's part to send terrorists from across the border and 600-800 militants were waiting to infiltrate, Northern Army Commander Lt General B S Jaswal said.

Top army officer, Jaswal, however, said the Army has succeeded in keeping the infiltrators at bay by adopting a three-pronged strategy.

'There is no let-up on the part of Pakistan in trying to send across terrorists. But if you see the statistics this year, they have not been able to make any inroads,' he told NDTV.

The top commander said 600-800 militants were waiting to infiltrate from across the border.
He said according to the statistics, 70 militants had infiltrated by this time last year while this year, only 12 could infiltrate as per the assessment.

Explaining the army's strategy to prevent infiltration, Jaswal said, 'First strategy is to ensure no one comes in. Second is the intelligence base and the third is the defence line and the anti-infiltration position'.

The Congress has been facing uncomfortable questions on who had ordered Anderson's extradition hours after his arrest in the aftermath of the tragedy, with some suggesting that he was allowed to go out of the country following a directive from the central government.

On the intervening night of Dec 2-3 1984, poisonous methyl-iso-cyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, killing thousands immediately and many more over the years and maiming numerous others.

Cong out in defence of Rajiv

New Delhi/June 12

The Congress on Saturday swung into action to clear the name of its late leader in the wake of ''revelations'' from the recently declassified US Central Intelligence Agency records that the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had ensured Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson’s escape from India.

Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh Satyavrata Chaturvedi claimed during the day that Arjun Singh, the then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, had admitted in 1984 itself that the decision to allow Anderson to escape from the country was taken at the state level.

He referred to three alleged statements Arjun had made in this regard. “Arjun Singh should break his silence and come forward to tell whether he stands by the three statements he had made after Anderson left the country, which clearly bring out the fact that the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had no role in it”.

Chaturvedi said: “On December 8, 1984, Arjun Singh had said that Anderson was allowed to leave the country because the police felt his presence was not required. Then, on December 9, Singh said there was no pressure on him from anybody (to allow Anderson to fly out of the country), while on December 14, he said he had briefed the Rajiv Gandhi on the circumstances that led to Anderson’s arrest and then leaving the country.”

The three statements, Chaturvedi claimed, “clearly show that Rajiv had no role in this decision, which was taken at the level of local administration and state government.” However, Arjun, who had fallen out with the party leadership on the eve of the 2009 parliamentary elections, has so far maintained silence on who in the Indian establishment had arranged the Union Carbide chief’s escape to the US.

In Bangalore, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily, too, rejected any talk of the late leader’s involvement. In the process, he, however, contradicted Chaturvedi. Adopting an offensive political strategy, Moily blamed Rajiv’s principal secretary P C Alexander for the escape of the Union Carbide chief.

“He (Alexander) was the principal secretary to the prime minister then. I think he is responsible for whatever happened at that time,” the law minister alleged. Moily was countering Alexander’s remarks that suggested that Rajiv had a role. He asserted that the former principal secretary to Rajiv was blaming the late former prime minister because he was now in the BJP camp. “He is a new convert to the BJP and Shiv Sena. He is anti-Congress after the Congress did not support him for the President’s post, hence his statement is motivated,” he asserted.

But former chief justice of India A M Ahmadi broke his silence on Moily’s recent assertion that he was responsible for diluting the cases against the accused in the gas tragedy. He said “the government is always responsible. When something of this nature happens to the people of the country, does the government say it has no responsibility? I am unable to understand that.”

Explain how Anderson fled India: MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan to Arjun

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday said his government will go to any extent to get justice for Bhopal gas victims and demanded an explanation from then Chief Minister Arjun Singh on how former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson fled the country.

"We will go to any extent to get justice for the victims...This is not an issue of Bhopal or the state. It should act as an example of how to give punishment in such cases," he told reporters here.

Noting that the people of the state felt "let down" following the gas tragedy verdict, Chouhan said he has written to Arjun Singh and asked for a reply on the circumstances that led to Anderson's escape.

"Let Arjun Singh explain it. Whether he did it (gave permission for providing state aircraft) himself or anybody told him to do so. We want a reply from him if a wrong direction was given. And after all, why such a direction was given.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan

The clashes in the southern city of Osh involving Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths turn into gun battles with automatic rifles and shotguns.

Reporting from Moscow — Ethnic violence that began as fistfights and escalated to raging gun battles broke out in the Central Asia nation of Kyrgyzstan, leaving at least 45 people dead and more than 600 injured, Russian news reports and an eyewitness said Friday.

The clashes in the southern city of Osh began Thursday evening between several hundred Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths, said the witness, human rights activist Almaz Kalet.

Combatants at first battled with fists, sticks and metal rods, but by about 2 a.m. Friday their numbers had grown to several thousand and they were fighting across the city center using automatic rifles, shotguns and other weapons, Kalet said in a telephone interview from Osh, where he lives.

"Youths armed with sticks, metal rods, guns and bottles with Molotov cocktail were running after each other wearing white, blue and red armbands and kerchiefs over their noses and mouths," said Kalet, who works with the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, a Moscow-based rights group. "They were overturning cars in the streets and setting them on fire, looting shops and houses and setting them on fire too."

The fighting calmed down after troops in armored personnel carriers and tanks rolled into the city shortly before dawn, Kalet said. But it flared up again in the late afternoon.

"We heard gunfire, shouts and screams, and glass breaking all over the place," Kalet said. "The troops came here and the fighting moved on to the suburbs. We can still hear sporadic gunfire all around the city."

The violence provided a fresh challenge to the interim government of Kyrgyzstan, which has struggled to impose control since a coup in April drove President Kurmanbek Bakiyev from power and into exile. The country, a former Soviet republic, has been racked by occasional violence since Bakiyev's overthrow.

On Friday, the interim government declared a state of emergency in the south.

"Regrettably for us, we're clearly talking about a standoff between two ethnicities," interim President Roza Otunbayeva said in the capital, Bishkek, Reuters news service reported. "We need [to muster] forces and means to stop and calm these people down, and this is what we are doing right now."

The ethnic violence appeared to be the worst in Kyrgyzstan since 1990, when clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks claimed several hundred lives.

Uzbeks, who make up 14% of the population, are the second-largest ethnic group in the country after the Kyrgyz, at 70%. But Osh is evenly divided between the two groups.

"I don't know what caused the fighting," Kalet said. "For these youths, whether they are Kyrgyz or Uzbeks, ethnic hatred is just a handy cover to indulge in rampage and looting."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in neighboring Uzbekistan for a meeting with leaders of Central Asian nations, told reporters in remarks carried by Vesti-24 channel that "the absence of power and control creates the best grounds for violations of elementary human rights.

"We express hope that the interim leadership of [Kyrgyzstan], which has yet to prove its legitimacy and efficiency, will take the situation under control," said Medvedev. "We are ready to consider offering advantageous loans but we need to understand how all this will be spent."

Kyrgyzstan hosts a major U.S. air base that provides support to the Western military forces in Afghanistan. Bakiyev threatened to close the base last year, but later agreed to continue the arrangement with a significant increase in rent.

Ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan

The clashes in the southern city of Osh involving Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths turn into gun battles with automatic rifles and shotguns.

Reporting from Moscow — Ethnic violence that began as fistfights and escalated to raging gun battles broke out in the Central Asia nation of Kyrgyzstan, leaving at least 45 people dead and more than 600 injured, Russian news reports and an eyewitness said Friday.

The clashes in the southern city of Osh began Thursday evening between several hundred Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths, said the witness, human rights activist Almaz Kalet.

Combatants at first battled with fists, sticks and metal rods, but by about 2 a.m. Friday their numbers had grown to several thousand and they were fighting across the city center using automatic rifles, shotguns and other weapons, Kalet said in a telephone interview from Osh, where he lives.

"Youths armed with sticks, metal rods, guns and bottles with Molotov cocktail were running after each other wearing white, blue and red armbands and kerchiefs over their noses and mouths," said Kalet, who works with the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, a Moscow-based rights group. "They were overturning cars in the streets and setting them on fire, looting shops and houses and setting them on fire too."

The fighting calmed down after troops in armored personnel carriers and tanks rolled into the city shortly before dawn, Kalet said. But it flared up again in the late afternoon.

"We heard gunfire, shouts and screams, and glass breaking all over the place," Kalet said. "The troops came here and the fighting moved on to the suburbs. We can still hear sporadic gunfire all around the city."

The violence provided a fresh challenge to the interim government of Kyrgyzstan, which has struggled to impose control since a coup in April drove President Kurmanbek Bakiyev from power and into exile. The country, a former Soviet republic, has been racked by occasional violence since Bakiyev's overthrow.

On Friday, the interim government declared a state of emergency in the south.

"Regrettably for us, we're clearly talking about a standoff between two ethnicities," interim President Roza Otunbayeva said in the capital, Bishkek, Reuters news service reported. "We need [to muster] forces and means to stop and calm these people down, and this is what we are doing right now."

The ethnic violence appeared to be the worst in Kyrgyzstan since 1990, when clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks claimed several hundred lives.

Uzbeks, who make up 14% of the population, are the second-largest ethnic group in the country after the Kyrgyz, at 70%. But Osh is evenly divided between the two groups.

"I don't know what caused the fighting," Kalet said. "For these youths, whether they are Kyrgyz or Uzbeks, ethnic hatred is just a handy cover to indulge in rampage and looting."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in neighboring Uzbekistan for a meeting with leaders of Central Asian nations, told reporters in remarks carried by Vesti-24 channel that "the absence of power and control creates the best grounds for violations of elementary human rights.

"We express hope that the interim leadership of [Kyrgyzstan], which has yet to prove its legitimacy and efficiency, will take the situation under control," said Medvedev. "We are ready to consider offering advantageous loans but we need to understand how all this will be spent."

Kyrgyzstan hosts a major U.S. air base that provides support to the Western military forces in Afghanistan. Bakiyev threatened to close the base last year, but later agreed to continue the arrangement with a significant increase in rent.

"$500 is plenty good for an Indian."

Why did India accept a mere $500 for every Bhopal life?

June 11, 2010

In 2002, Dow Chemicals paid 10 million dollars to the family of a child who became brain-injured after being exposed to their pesticide. A few years before that, the Indian government had settled with Union Carbide, which was bought by Dow in 2001, on a compensation of a mere 500 dollars per Bhopal Gas Tragedy victim.

When asked about the double standards, a Dow spokesperson made this appalling remark: "$500 is plenty good for an Indian."

Did the Indian government at that time too think that $500 was enough for an Indian life? Why did India settle with Union Carbide for a pittance in 1989?

The then Attorney General, K Parasaran, who oversaw the settlement, has said it was the Supreme Court which decided the settlement amount with Union Carbide.

Parasaran talked to NDTV's Group Editor Barkha Dutt on India Decides at 9. Here are portions of that interview.

Q: Mr. Parasaran there is huge controversy and huge criticism over why India agreed to settle at all with Union Carbide.

Parasaran: The settlement was arrived at on the calculations made by the court itself. In fact, I told the court in a matter like this, at whatever amount it may be settled, even if it is billions and billions of dollars, there'll be criticism. I don't propose to take the responsibility on my shoulders... The court said our shoulders are broad enough, we will take the responsibility... and after full debate between me and Mr Nariman and some two or three private institutions were also represented before the court, the court decided that this is a reasonable amount.

Q: What would you say Mr Parasaran to the victims of Bhopal who have been campaigning for 25 years to try and get the attention of the country, who say that they have got neither justice in the sense that Anderson is out there on the run nor adequate compensation?

Parasaran: No, that's a matter of views and opinions. There were genuine victims, there were people who hadn't suffered, there were all sorts of claims made. If government took up the case of each victim, the case would have gone on for 30-40 yrs. What the government was concerned about was getting immediate action.

Credits NDTV

Pak wants India, US to share details of Headley's interrogation

Pak wants India, US to share details of Headley's interrogation

Islamband, Jun 12: To bust the 'myth' of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistan has called on India and the United States to share the details of the interrogation of the Pakistani-American jehadi David Coleman Headley.

“Although India and the US are not bound to share findings of investigation, however, they need to share them with Pakistan in order to unearth the myth of Mumbai attack,” a top Pakistani official told The Nation on conditions of anonymity.

This is the only statement from Pakistan on the questioning of the 26/11 terrorist, held in Chicago. No official statement has come from the country.

India's National Investigative Agency (NIA) team was given access to Headley so that they could unearth the conspiracy that went into the Nov 2008 attacks on India's financial capital, in which over 200 lives were lost.

In a statement issued by the US Justice Department stating that Headley has answered all the questions put forth to him by the four member investigative team, it was made clear that both New Delhi and Washington have agreed not to disclose any detail of Headley’s interrogation in order to protect the secrecy of the probe.

Obama lauds Indian woman who came to build her dreams

Washington: US President Barack Obama has lauded an Indian woman entrepreneur who came to America 'to build your own dreams and be your own boss' and set up a successful technology services company.

This 'promise of being able to build your own dreams and be your own boss led Prachee - Prachee Devadas to come to this country, become a citizen, and open up what's become a successful technology services company,' he said at a White House event Friday.

'Prachee told me that when she started, she had just one employee. Today, she employs more than a hundred people-including her husband Anand, who is here today,' said Obama with the Indian American couple sharing the stage with him after a meeting with a group of small business owners.

'Historically, small businesses have created roughly two out of every three new jobs in our country. To replace the millions of jobs lost in the recession, we need to make sure small companies are able to open up, expand, and add names to their payrolls,' he said.

'Small businesses will help lead this economic recovery. And that's why we will continue to stand by them,' Obama said. 'But ensuring that small businesses can thrive is about more than just economic success.'

'It's also about who we are as a people. It's about a nation where anybody who's got a good idea and a willingness to work hard can succeed. That's the central promise of America.'

'It's that promise that has drawn millions of people to our shores. It's what drives workers to become their own bosses. It's what propels some basement inventor to bring a new concept to market,' Obama said citing the example of Devadas couple.

Prachee Devadas is president & CEO of Synergy Enterprises, while Anand Devadas is its vice president. Synergy Enterprises Inc (SEI), a certified woman-owned company, provides information technology and management consulting services to local, national, and international clientele in the public and private sectors.

Before starting SEI, Prachee J. Devadas worked for small companies gaining experience in business development, managing multimillion-dollar contracts while providing professional services in training and technical assistance, publication development, grant review and conference management.

Prachee arrived in the US States in 1986 after receiving her bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Pune. Since inception, Synergy Enterprises, Inc. has grown from 1 to over 120 employees and was named among Washington Technology's 2008 Top 25 small contractors.

Ahmadi reduced Bhopal tragedy into truck accident: Moily

Bangalore:Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily came out strongly against Former Supreme Court Chief Justice AH Ahmadi saying that Ahmadi reduced the Bhopal gas tragedy into a truck accident, media reports said. He said that one cannot treat man-made disasters like Bhopal as accidents referring to the former CJI's verdict that reduced the charges against those involved in the Bhopal gas case from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing death by negligence.

Justice Ahmadi headed the two-judge Supreme Court bench in 1996 that converted the CBI charge under the stringent provisions of 304-II that provided for maximum of 10-year imprisonment to Section with two-year maximum imprisonment
Ahmadi on Saturday offered to resign from the post of Bhopal Memorial Hospital Trust chairman saying that it was easy for people to talk and make allegations but judges have to work as per the system.

Moily also lambasted PC Alexander, the principal secretary to Rajiv Gandhi, for suggesting that the then prime minister may have had a role in the release of former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson accused in Bhopal gas case, saying he was a new convert to BJP-Shiv Sena camp.
'I think he (PC Alexander) had joined BJP, and with Shiv Sena's support he became a Rajya Sabha member. He is a new convert to the BJP-Shiv Sena and anti-Congress camp because he was not considered for Presidentship. It is a motivated statement,' he told reporters here.
He said many persons like Alexander, former principal secretary to Rajiv Gandhi, suddenly wanted to be martyrs. 'I think he is responsible (for Anderson's sudden release after his arrest in December 1984) because he was the then Principal Secretary,' he added.
Alexander had hinted that Rajiv Gandhi might have had a role in the release of Anderson as the then prime minister could have agreed with the decision on letting him off.

Blast on rail track in Tamil Nadu, narrow escape for passengers

Chennai: Passengers of Chennai-bound Rockfort Express had a miraculous escape Saturday morning when the driver stopped the train immediately after receiving a warning about a blast on the track near Perani station, 160 km from here.

The blast damaged three feet of tracks and caused a four feet crater, Vellupuram police officials told IANS.

The driver stopped the train 200 feet before the damaged spot, they said, adding that the railway officials at Trichy and Chennai were informed immediately.

Railway Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Pon Manickavel and other officials rushed to the spot.

Repairing work is on and the traffic is expected to be restored by 9 a.m., the officials said.

Trains coming from southern districts to Chennai were delayed because of the blast. Rockfort Express, Pearl City Express, Kanyakumari Express, Mumbai-Madurai Express and others have been stopped midway. Trains departing from here to Guruvayoor, Puducherry and other places were also delayed

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

India, Lanka sign 7 pacts, discuss resettlement of Tamils

India and Sri Lanka on Wednesday signed seven agreements and discussed devolution of powers to the provinces and opening of negotiations with Tamil groups.

In delegation level talks led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the two sides also touched upon ensuring livelihood to Sri Lankan Tamils and steps to ensure the speedy resettlement of those still in makeshift camps over a year after the war ended with the LTTE.

The two leaders also touched on other bilateral and global issues such as stepping up trade and investment, ensuring energy security and better cooperation in counter-terrorism.

Mr. Rajapaksa assured reassured Dr. Singh about his Government’s plans to resettle refugees who continue to remain in camps. Sri Lanka claims that bulk of the displaced Tamils in its northern part have been resettled and of the 50,000 who remain, half move in and out of the camps. Colombo agreed with New Delhi’s perception that a sense of dignity and livelihood has to be ensured to all those displaced by the war.

The Sri Lankan President also briefed the Prime Minister about his Government’s plans to settle the ethnic grievances and appreciated India’s assistance in relief and resettlement to the civilians caught in the war.

Of the seven agreements inked by both sides, officials put store on the pact on interconnection of electricity grids which would help meet Sri Lanka’s energy needs. A pact in the railways would enable India take up the construction of the Talaimannar-Madhu railway line.

On the security side Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Secretary to the Sri Lankan President Lalith Weeratunge signed a Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and MoU on transfer of settled prisoners. These agreements are said to stepping stones to greater security related partnership between the two countries.

Besides renewing a MoU on SDP schemes, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Sri Lanka High Commissioner Prasad Kariyawasam agreed on the setting up a centre to assist in the rehabilitation of war widows with help from the Ahmedabad-based Self Employed Women’s Association. The two officials also inked a MoU on renewing the cultural exchange programme.

With the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in a limbo for two years due to opposition in Sri Lanka, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee called on Mr. Rajapaksa on Tuesday to discuss ways of increasing bilateral trade and investment

American Malayalee bags award for best teacher

Washington: An American Malayalee woman bagged the American president's award for best science teacher. Radhika Plakott from Palakkad, bagged the award. 103 teachers who teach mathematics and science were chosen for the awards. The award comprising $10,000 will be given at a function to be held in Washington.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Anil withdraws defamation suit against Mukesh

Mumbai:In the spirit of truce arrived at with his elder brother, Anil Ambani today dropped a Rs 10,000 crore defamation suit against Mukesh Ambani in the Bombay High Court. 'Yes, we have withdrawn the suit claiming Rs 10,000 crore as damages', a Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group spokesman told PTI. The defamation suit was filed by Anil Ambani in September 2008 shortly after Mukesh's RIL put a spoke in his attempts to acquire South African telecom giant MTN that year. RIL had sent a legal notice to MTN asserting its right of first refusal on stake in RCom, a move that forced the Anil Ambani group to drop plans for a merger with the South African mobile company. Incidentally, the defamation suit was dropped within days of RCom deciding to offload 26 per cent stake in a strategic sale.

Anil had dragged his brother to court, alleging that Mukesh had defamed him in an interview to New York Times (dated June 15, 2008) that was reproduced in two leading Indian newspapers. The suit against the newspapers has alsobeen withdrawn.
The Ambani brothers signed a truce agreement late last month, ending a bitter public and legal battle despite arriving at a family settlement to divide the Reliance empire in 2005 based on a formula worked out by mother Kokilaben. As part of the truce, the two brothers decided to scrap a non-compete agreement between their respective groups, a move that would give each side flexibility to utilise resources more efficiently and enter businesses hitherto inaccessible. They had also pledged to expeditiously renegotiate a gas supply agreement on the lines of the Supreme Court verdict of May 7.

Announcing the truce, the two sides had said, 'RIL and Reliance ADA group are hopeful and confident that all these steps would create an overall environment of harmony, cooperation and collaboration between the two groups, thereby further enhancing overall shareholder value for shareholders of both the groups'. While RCom has already announced its intention sell 26 per cent stake, as part of efforts to raise resources, there is speculation that cash-rich RIL could also venture into
telecom arena soon and may partner Venugopal Dhoot-led Videocon's telecom arm. The Ambanis had parted ways in June 2005, and out of four of the last five years they have been engaged in a legal row over supply of gas from Mukesh-run RIL to Anil Ambani group's RNRL.

A spokesperson for Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries declined to comment. The defamation case itself was based on an interview given by Mukesh Ambani to the leading American publication wherein the New York Times quoted him as saying that a network of lobbyists and spies were overseen by his brother before they split. 'What most distinguishes Reliance from its rivals is what Ambanis friends and associates describe as his 'intelligence agency' a network of lobbyists and spies in New Delhi who they say collect data about the vulnerabilities of the powerful, about the minutiae of bureaucrats' schedules, about the
activities of their competitors,' the New York Times had said. Mukesh is purported to have said in the interview that
all such activities were overseen by his brother before they split, and had since been expunged from his tranche of the
company. 'We de-mergered all of that,' Mukesh was quoted as saying. PTI

Israel says it will ban entry of Iranian ships to Gaza

Jerusalem, Jun 8 : Israel has reportedly banned the entry of two Iranian relief vessels saying any such move by Tehran would be seen as an act of aggression and a challenge to Tel Aviv's authority.

Buzz up!"The Iranian regime has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and has a proven track record of supplying dangerous weapons to Hamas and Hizbullah, Obviously, any shipment from Iran to Gaza would be a major concern", an Israeli diplomatic official was quoted, as saying.

"We cannot take a chance that there is weaponry on the ships." he added.

This is the second time that Israel will block the entry of Iranian ships after 2009, when it had despatched an Iranian ship during Operation Cast Lead, the Jerusalem Post reports.

The Gaza blockade has attracted the attention and criticism of several Middle Eastern countries.

"This embargo, this blockade must be lifted, and at the same time Israeli must be placed in a cage of crime," the Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the blockade as a blatant violation of international law and human values.

Strong efforts are on to end the blockade. (ANI)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Iran Revolutionary Guards offer escort to convoys

TEHRAN • Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards are ready to provide a military escort to cargo ships trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday.

“Iran’s Revolutionary Guards naval forces are fully prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys to Gaza with all their powers and capabilities,” Ali Shirazi, Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative inside the Revolutionary Guards, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Any intervention by the Iranian military would be considered highly provocative by Israel, which accuses Iran of supplying weapons to Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza.
The Iranian state news agency IRNA said yesterday Iran would try to send humanitarian aid to Gaza in ships under an Iranian flag. It said Iran had decided to ditch previous plans to send its aid in ships flying the flag of another state.

“The Iranian humanitarian assistance will include foodstuffs, medicines and medical equipment,” the head of Iran’s Red Crescent Society, Abdolraouf Abidzadeh, was quoted as saying. He gave no more details.

Last Monday, Israeli troops killed nine activists on board one ship in a convoy trying to deliver aid to Gaza, sparking international outrage, especially in Muslim countries

Friday, June 4, 2010

Air disaster averted at Mumbai airport

Mumbai: Barely a week after a near-miss, a mishap was averted at the Mumbai airport on Thursday night when a Kingfisher flight was cleared for landing at a runway where a Spicejet plane was stationed after a technical fault.
The Mumbai-Chennai Spicejet flight was to about to take off at around 11 pm but developed a technical problem at the last minute after which the Air Traffic Control asked it to abort the take-off, airport sources said.
But, at the same time, a Delhi-Mumbai Kingfisher Airlines aircraft was given permission for landing at the same runway.
However, just in time, the ATC asked the pilot of the Kingfisher plane to go around after which the flight landed.
The Kingfisher Airline spokesperson confirmed the incident and said that the pilot complied with the ATC instruction.
The flight, however, landed at Mumbai airport safely, he said.
'Shortly before the Kingfisher Airline flight IT318 was to land at Mumbai Airport, the ATC requested the captain of the flight to do a go around. The captain immediately complied with the ATC instruction and was revectored a fresh approach' the spokesperson said.
The aircraft which was operating from Delhi landed at Mumbai Airport shortly thereafter, he said.
On May 27, a major disaster was averted at the airport here as a Jet Airways plane was asked to abort landing at the last minute after an IndiGo aircraft entered the runway.

Ties with India top priority, proud to go there: Obama

Washington: US President Barack Obama said he plans to visit India in November to together make 'history and progress that will be treasured by generations to come', as he described Indo-US ties as 'one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century'.

'Our relations with India are at the highest of priorities for my administration and for me personally as president of the United States,' Obama said at a reception Thursday at the State Department hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna after the inaugural US-India Strategic Dialogue.

'I am delighted to announce tonight that I plan to visit India in early November,' he said.

'When it comes to building a future of greater prosperity, opportunity and security for people there is no doubt I have to go to India, but even more I am proud to go to India.

'And I look forward to the history that we will make together, the progress that will be treasured not only by this generation, but by future generations to come,' he said.

The rare gesture of attending a reception at the State department was seen as a way to ease India's concerns that the US views ties with New Delhi through the prism of Pakistan and Afghanistan or a rising China.

Obama called India 'a responsible global power' and said the 'unprecedented' US-India relationship 'will be a defining partnership of the 21st century' that will help shape the future of the world on issues such as economy and security.

'We value our partnership... because of what we share and where we can go together,' he said, adding that the two countries share a vision of the future built on 'security and prosperity'.

Obama said he has to go to India to experience 'all that India and its people and its incredible ancient culture have to offer'.

'Whatever sphere of the human mind you may select for your special study, whether it be language or religion or mythology or philosophy, whether it be law or customs, primitive art, or science, you have to go to India, because some of the most valuable and instructive material of the history of man are treasured up in India, and India only,' he said while citing a quote from a European scholar who travelled to India over 100 years back.

'So I look forward to advancing our partnership, to experiencing all that India and its people and its incredible ancient culture have to offer. So when it comes to the sphere of our work, building a future of greater prosperity, opportunity and security for our people, there is no doubt; I have to go India.

'But even more, I am proud to go to India, and I look forward to the history that we will make together, progress that will be treasured not just by this generation but by generations to come.'

Krishna too stressed the importance of the US-India relationship, saying New Delhi can be a 'dependable anchor of the region's growth'.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had visited the White House on Obama presidency's first state visit in November 2009, Krishna said, had 'asked me to reiterate the importance he attaches to this strategic dialogue'.

'There are few relationships in the world that have so much potential as India-US relations, because, I believe, that our cooperation is not only for great mutual benefit, but is destined to have a strong impact on global peace, prosperity and stability in the 21st century,' Krishna said.

Earlier, at a joint press conference with Krishna, Clinton said echoing Obama's words about India as an indispensable partner: 'We believe that a rising India is good for the US and good for the world.'

'Our two nations, great democracies, dynamic and interconnected economies and engines of progress, understand that our fortunes in this new century are increasingly linked,' she said.

Noting that both India and the US have experienced violent extremists, Clinton said she and Krishna discussed the importance of India's leadership to promoting security, stability and prosperity across Asia and beyond.

'Security is more than a priority, it's an imperative,' she said.

Krishna said they had agreed that terrorist groups operate as a syndicate, leveraging each other's assets and strength, and were increasingly converging together on motivation and targets.

India was pleased with the way the counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries has progressed and that they have agreed to intensify it further, he said.

On Afghanistan, Krishna said India and the US have a shared convergent goal of a stable, peaceful, pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan, which protects the rights and the dignity of all sections of Afghan society

Karnataka gets Rs 4 lakh-cr investment this year

Fri Jun 04 2010

Karnataka has reconfirmed its status of being one of the premier investment destinations in the country by sewing up investments totalling over Rs 4 lakh crore this year. As part of the two-day Global Investors Meet (GIM) that began Thursday over 400 MoUs will be signed, some of which involve global giants such as Posco, ArcelorMittal, Infosys, Wipro, Essar, GAIL and the Aditya Birla Group.

The state’s image as an investment destination had taken a beating over the years, with the successive state governments, post the SM Krishna regime, taking little or no decisive steps to attract global firms. But it looks like the state has caught hold of the magic wand again, and has even attracted investments in districts like Gulbarga, Bagalkot and Belgaum. Over 60% of the projects would be located outside Bangalore.

“We are very buoyant on Karnataka,” said Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group which is investing Rs 8,500 crore in different ventures in the state, a bulk of it in cement plants. The new investment can create 15,000 jobs in the state. The group, which has a presence in Karnataka since the 1970s, has so far invested around Rs 5,000 crore in the state including investments in its fibre and aluminium plant, financial services and retail.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mamata Banerjee jubilant; calls for early polls

Kolkata, Jun 2: Mamata Banerjee who is jubilant over her success in the Bengal semifinals said that this is a 'landmark victory'. She added that she is happy as it is people's victory as she won Kolkata and leads Bengal.

Buzz up!Mamata has called for immediate assembly polls in Bengal. She told CNN IBN that she is ready for the alliance with Congress for the polls if they want. She added that she never thought of breaking up the rapports with Congress. She revealed that Congress should appreciate their success, too.

Mamata who arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday, Jun 2, said that it is the moral responsibility of the state government to step down. State government should have resigned after the Lok Sabha Polls, she added.

TMC won Kolkata corporation with 95 out of 141 wards. Trinamool won Salt Lake municipality too.

TMC leads 95 out of 141 municipal bodies in Kolkata civic poll, where as Left could win 33, Congress 10 and others, 3. In overall Bengal results, Left won 17 seats, TMC 30 and Congress 8. CPM and TMC fought neck and neck in the Bengal battle, when Trinamool won Kolkata. The scores in Salt Lake is 9 for Left , 16 for TMC and zero for congress and others.

Trinamool humbles Left in Bengal, snatches Kolkata

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress Wednesday wrested control of the prestigious Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) in an electoral sweep of the civic polls that saw it humble West Bengal's ruling Left Front across the state.
The state's urban voters gave the thumbs down to the Left, which suffered a humiliating defeat although the major opposition parties, the Trinamool Congress and the Congress, failed to come to an electoral understanding.

The results have come as a big boost to the Trinamool, which defied exit poll predictions of a close contest and improved its bargaining power vis-a-vis the Congress which performed dismally.

Trinamool candidates won 95, the Left Front bagged 33, Congress got 10 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clinched three of the total 141 wards in the KMC.

The Left has controlled the KMC since 2005. However, the Trinamool had run the board between 2000 and 2005, after 20 years of Left rule in the civic body since 1985 when the new municipal act came in place.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool also gained control of the Bidhan Nagar municipality, which includes the city's posh satellite township of Salt Lake, for the first time. Its candidates won 16 of the 25 seats in Bidhan Nagar, with the Left Front getting only nine.

In the districts, the Trinamool bagged 26 municipalities while the Left Front got success in 17. The Congress was poised to win in seven bodies.

Among the municipalities the Trinamool won were Memari in Burdwan district and Bolpur in Birbhum district as well as Khardah, Baranagar and Naihati in North 24 Parganas district.

The Left Front retained Bally in Hooghly district and Toofanganj and Dinhata in Cooch Behar district in northern West Bengal.

The Congress retained the Katwa Municipality in Burdwan.

An upbeat Banerjee, who flew into the city from Delhi, said the Left had lost the right to rule the state.

'We congratulate the people of Bengal. The state government has lost all right to be in power and assembly elections should be held immediately in West Bengal,' Banerjee told journalists at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here.

As the results poured in, Trinamool candidates celebrated wildly all over Kolkata. The outcome is considered a huge blow to the Left, which had been in control of 54 of the 81 civic bodies, including KMC, which saw polling.

Sunday's civic polls were considered a semi-final ahead of next year's make-or-break assembly elections at a time the Left Front, which has ruled West Bengal since 1977, is facing its most serious challenge to power.

More than 70 percent of the voters exercised their franchise Sunday, two days after the Gyaneshwari Express rail disaster blamed on Maoists claimed 148 lives in West Midnapore.

Sunday's elections were the first popularity test after the Lok Sabha polls of 2009 that saw the Trinamool-Congress combine decimate the ruling Left Front.

Israel cries foul over flotilla attack; drags India into row

Jerusalem: In an unusual step, Israel, which is facing global criticism for attacking an aid flotilla, has said violent incidents in countries like India and Pakistan in the past one month which claimed 500 lives have been 'ignored' while it is being condemned for its 'unmistakably defensive actions'. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 'reminded' the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that in the past month alone 500 people were killed in various incidents in Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and India, a Foreign Ministry statement said. 'While the international community remained silent and passive, and generally ignored the occurences, Israel is being condemned for unmistakably defensive actions,' a Foreign
Ministry statement quoted Lieberman as saying.

This is the first time that Israel has dragged India intoa controversy. New Delhi has already condemned the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip saying there was no justification for indiscriminate use of force. He is understood to have told Ban that the incident related to Gaza aid flotilla was about the 'basic right of Israeli soldiers to defend themselves against an attack by a gang of thugs and terror supporters who had prepared clubs, metal crowbars and knives in advance of confrontation.' Lieberman expressed 'regret' at the behaviour of the international community. 'All of Israel's proposals to the Turkish government to transfer the humanitarian aid in an orderly manner were rejected by flottila's organisers,' Lieberman was quoted as saying.

He also accused activists participating in the mission of intentionally trying to breach Israel's sovereignty and creating 'provocation that would cause bloodshed'. In an emergency session yesterday,the UN Security Council called for an investigation into Israel's deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip on Monday, condemning the act that resulted in the loss of at least nine lives. '... the Security Council resolution is unacceptable and contributes nothing to the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East,' Lieberman said. PTI