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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Tragedy averted, two more bombs defused in Surat

NEW DELHI: Just two days after four bombs were found in Surat, two more live bombs were found in the city and have been defused by the bomb disposal squad.

The first bomb was found near the Ladeshwar Police Chowky in the Varacha area of the city. Following which, another live bombs was recovered from a market in Santosh Nagar, as confirmed by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Surat.

Following initial reports of the same, Surat police officials rushed to the area. The bomb is reportedly a detonator, which could have gone off causing minor damage to the surroundings.

Police officials suspect that more explosive-like substances have been planted in different parts the city. Following the alerts, the police cordoned off the area and restricted the traffic. Pedestrians were asked to keep off the area for security reasons.

Thanks: ET

RS Brar, Commissioner of Surat Police said, "We have cordoned off the area. We have appealed to the public to inform us if they find any objects of suspicion. We will take immediate action and are doing our best to ensure safety in the city."

Meanwhile, unconfirmed sources told that the OPD has been evacuated in Ahmedabad's Civil Hospital after authorities reportedly received a call informing of a possible bomb.

High alert had been sounded in Surat after four live bombs were defused on the outskirts of the city on Monday.

Sachin Tendulkar to make Bollywood debut

MUMBAI: Sachin Tendulkar will make his Bollywood debut with a cameo role in a film about the miracles of the elephant-headed deity Ganesh.

Tendulkar, widely regarded as one of the world's best batsmen, will play himself in "Vighnaharta Shri Siddhivinayak," a film about the god, who is sometimes referred to as Siddhivinayak.

"He will play a small role, as himself, either in a song sequence or in an actual scene," said Rajiv Sanghvi, whose company is handling the film's production.

Tendulkar's office confirmed the cricketer would be shooting for the film after he returns from Sri Lanka where India is touring at the moment.

Tendulkar, a devotee of Ganesh, had offered to be a part of the project and will not be charging for the role, Sanghvi said.

The film is being produced by the Siddhivinayak Temple Trust, which looks after a famous temple dedicated to Ganesh in Mumbai.

"Sachin has been a regular at the temple for many years now and he never gives up an opportunity to show his devotion," said Subhash Mayekar, chairman of the trust.

"Vighnaharta Shri Siddhivinayak" is due to begin shooting next month, and will also feature a voice-over by Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan.

Thanks: ET

GPS to track vehicles attending to power failure

Let us Congrats - TNEB's Initiative...


Monitoring movement: A GPS in one of the TNEB vehicles.

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board’s Computer-based Power Failure Redressal Centre of Chennai has been provided with global positioning system (GPS) to track down vehicles of fuse of call centres.

The GPS facility has been installed in 57 vehicles of the FOC centres to help the call centre monitor vehicles attending to power failures and faults. Once a complaint is received from a consumer at the ‘hunting number’ of 155333, it will be relayed to the FOC centre. The GPS helps in tracking down the movement of the vehicles with the help of the city map containing complete data on streets on the computer.

An official said earlier the call centre was able to only relay the complaint to FOC centre, but with GPS now in place, the call centre is able to keep track of all FOC centre vehicles.

The GPS has features displaying the status of the vehicle movement and the exact location.

Thanks: the hindu

No ‘unconditional’ NSG nod for India, says U.S.

New Delhi: Though India has made it clear that it expects the United States to deliver a “clean and unconditional exemption” for it from the export guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Washington says it is committed only to a “clean” and not “unconditional” waiver for New Delhi.

The distinction has not been lost on Indian officials as they await the American draft changes to the NSG guidelines.

According to sources, the draft is still going through the “inter-agency process” in Washington and might be handed over to New Delhi by Tuesday.

At a press conference on July 23, U.S. Ambassador David C. Mulford was at pains to clarify to journalists the distinction between the two concepts. He also said the “review by Congress” would be one of the “pieces” that NSG members would consider in granting their waiver, thereby opening the possibility of America seeking to tie the cartel down to not moving ahead with India until the domestic legislative process in the U.S. is complete.

During the internal negotiation process in Washington over the wording of the Hyde Act, the State Department’s principal nuclear negotiator, Richard Stratford, had argued that Congress was getting the sequencing wrong in vetting the 123 Agreement after the NSG had already acted. By insisting that the NSG act first, he said, India would be free to access nuclear supplies from elsewhere even if the U.S. Congress were to shoot down or delay ratification of the 123 Agreement.

Partly in order to deal with this problem, the U.S. is believed to have secured a “political understanding” from Russia and France that they would not rush to conclude export deals with India as soon as the NSG waiver comes through and would wait till Congress has the chance to ratify the 123 Agreement.

But with Congress now looking at a very tight schedule, it is possible some attempt will be made to include language in the NSG waiver making its implementation conditional on America completing its internal steps first.

To the extent to which this kind of drafting language would infringe on the sovereignty of the NSG’s 44 other members, officials here expect that any such move will be resisted by countries such as Russia.


N-deal spin-off - 100,000 new jobs, more research opportunities

CHENNAI: One of the spin offs of the India-US civil nuclear deal coming through will be the creation of 100,000 new jobs for the 30-odd reactors that India hopes to set up to meet its nuclear power deadline of 20,000 MW by 2020, experts say.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi highlighted the fillip the deal is expected to give to employment generation and the energy sector. Interacting with students of Ravindra Bharati in Hyderabad on Saturday, Gandhi said: "The nuclear deal means millions and millions of jobs, and lights in the houses of the poor in this country."

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh, visiting the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)'s Kalpakkam campus in Tamil Nadu, said: "Nearly 10,000 MW of nuclear power would be generated from indigenous reactors, 8,000 MW from light water reactors and 2,000 MW from Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR)."

Thousands of engineers, technicians and scientists would be needed to run these establishments, he underlined.

"India's 17 nuclear reactors have the capacity to generate 4,120 MW, but in 2007 they could produce only 1,800 MW due to lack of fuel," Ramesh said.


Monday, 28 July 2008

ABB first half net up 28 %

BANGALORE: ABB India, with Rs. 4,904 crore in orders garnered in the first half of this year (January-June), reported a 16 per cent growth in revenues at Rs. 3,191.40 crore and a 28 per cent rise in net profit at Rs. 249.50 crore, as compared to the same period in the previous fiscal.

ABB India’s Chairman Ravi Uppal said, the company had supplied equipment for many of the older nuclear energy plants in India and was prepared to take on new orders “if the requirements are within our product range”. Renewable energy generation, especially wind energy, was an area ABB was seriously involved in now, besides robotics equipment for the automobile sector, he said.

“The second quarter (ended June 30) brought the company Rs. 385 crore worth orders, mostly exports to the Middle East and Indonesia for power plant equipment,” ABB India Managing Director, Biplab Majumdar, told reporters here on Friday. Orders for industrial automation and capacity addition by power utilities also grew business.

“The combined effects of inflation, higher energy costs, volatile markets and interest rates are a challenge. But, long-term growth prospects will not be affected.

Thanks: The hindu

SBI seeks CDM consultants to earn carbon credits

Country's largest public sector lender State Bank of India is looking for energy consultants to save power and earn carbon credits.

As part of its exercise to go green, the SBI has invited applications from Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) consultants for energy saving projects.

The consultants will advise SBI on usage of energy efficient devices in its buildings and help the bank earn carbon credits as per the Kyoto Protocol.

As per the protocol, the CDM allows the industrialised countries with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries. It is an alternative to more expensive emission reduction in their own countries.

Carbon credits are the key component for emission trading schemes, that mitigate global warming and can be used finance carbon reduction schemes around the world.

The prospective consultants, SBI said on its website, "should have adequate exposure for earning CDM projects for earning Carbon Credits, assuming overall responsibility for the CDM projects of 7500 CERs (Certified Emission reductions) and above."

SBI is proposing to earning carbon credit by using power condition-cum-energy saving devices in light and fan circuits in large buildings, the bank said.

The CDM consultants can send their applications to SBI by August 5.

Thanks: ET.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

India undisputed leader in offshore services: Gartner

NEW DELHI: India remains the "undisputed leader" in a list of the top 30 countries for offshore services prepared by IT market research major Gartner Inc.

The research firm based in Connecticut, US, applied a list of 10 criteria to find its top 30, but many of the conclusions are already well known - India is the "undisputed leader" in offshore services, with China, Russia and Brazil providing credible alternatives, while Ireland, Israel, Northern Ireland and South Africa are strong in language skills.

According to Gartner, however, there's a stampede of new locations determined to get more offshore business. For the 30 countries that met its criteria, Gartner reports, another 35 were viable contenders, giving companies plenty of choices in 2008.

And of those 35, 13 "came darn close to making the list", according to Helen Huntley, an author of the Gartner report prepared in December 2007.

Thanks: ET

ONGC offering cars, laptops to retain employees

KOLKATA: At a time when inflation threatens to burn a crater in nearly every corporate’s pockets and early recessionary signs have induced most companies to tighten salary packets, state-owned explorations major ONGC is swimming against the tide.

For starters, ONGC plans to offer its near 10,000 officials new cars with a Rs 7 lakh to Rs 8 lakh price tag. There is a catch though. ONGC will own the cars since it will be procuring them. But the vehicles will be available to eligible executives 24x7.

The move, claim top ONGC officials, is part of a new employee retention drive to prevent flight of top talent to the private sector. Lately, the public sector explorations major has suffered heavy attrition since private sector rivals are offering more generous emolument.

தேங்க்ஸ்: ET

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Oil hits six-week low, storm fears ease

NEW YORK: Oil prices fell to a six-week low on Tuesday amid concerns over sliding U.S. energy

demand and expectations that a hurricane pushing through the Gulf of Mexico would spare most

offshore oil production. The losses extend a decline from the July 11 peak over $147 a barrel that has marked the steepest price fall in dollar terms in oil`s history -- leading some analysts to question how soon the market will resume its six-year rally.

"We`ve now seen more than a $20 decline in the crude oil market from the highs and this suggests that we`ve seen enough of a shift in the supply and demand balance on a larger scale to cap the market," said Tim Evans, energy analyst for Citi Futures Perspective in New York.US crude futures fell $3.09 to settle at $127.95 a barrel after dipping as low as $125.63 -- the lowest level since early June. London Brent crude fell $3.23 to $129.38 a barrel.

Dealers said mounting economic trouble in the United States and continued lackluster energy demand from the world`s biggest consumer nation were the key focuses of oil`s slide. Gasoline consumption in the United States is running about 2.2 percent below year-ago levels in a

sign drivers stunned by soaring pump prices are curbing their road travel. Even so, oil remains nearly 30 percent higher than at the start of this year, and more than six times higher than in 2002, in a rally driven by startling growth in China and other developing Asian economies. Courtesy:Economic Times


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Distributive Wind Power Offers Solutions to Energy Crisis

by Jim Fugitte, CEO, Wind Energy Corp.

On May 12, 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a report entitled "20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030."

The report, which identified the possibility of wind energy accounting for 20 percent of our nation's energy supply by 2030, focuses on the need to develop large-scale wind farms, new transmission lines and an overall major expansion of the electricity grid system in the U.S.

In other words, it outlines a noble destination but maps, I believe, an incomplete course.

The federal government has done what the federal government typically does; take a look at what is perceived to be conventional wisdom, commission a study and celebrate the results as groundbreaking.

That's a long way of saying I think they've got it wrong. The U.S. government, and the renewable energy industry in general, understand that there is a very real energy crisis. However, they desperately need to reexamine the utility-scale solutions that many see as the only answer.

Focusing solely on traditional means to generate and deliver electricity is the problem, not the solution. Utility-scale electricity, whether provided by fossil fuels or renewable sources like wind and solar, obviously has a role in our energy future. But there are other options.

A recent news story in San Diego is a perfect example of the many problems associated with the government-outlined strategy.

According to the Associated Press, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) has proposed to build "one of the world's largest solar power operations in the Southern California desert and surround it with plants that run on wind and underground heat." A visionary proposal to be sure.

Unfortunately, an electricity plant large enough to supply power to nearly 750,000 homes also needs to build a 150-mile transmission line. As you can imagine, while nearly everyone supports the development of the solar power plant, many are concerned with the additional transmission lines needed to distribute the power.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that we need proposals like the one put forward by SDG&E. But I also believe that the inherent problems associated with utility-scale electricity generation and distribution are paving the way to new solutions.

The best way for communities, institutions and commercial enterprises to mitigate rising fuel costs and ensure less reliance on fossil fuels is to invest in on-site renewable energy generation assets that can work in conjunction with their traditional sources of power.

While solar energy has been an on-site energy option for years, new, state-of-the-art wind turbines are making it possible to harness one of earth's most renewable resources, wind, without the need for large open spaces, massive propellers or an intricate transmission grid system.

The new generation of wind turbines makes distributive wind solutions feasible in urban areas and other settings where wind power is just not an alternative today. And micro-wind research is enabling applications and sites never before considered; meaning consumers, no matter where they're located, have the potential to harness a new energy resource for themselves.

Wind Energy Corporation is a pioneer in this untapped commercial and community distributive energy market. "Distributive" means providing power directly to, and under the control of, consumers and businesses. While the government is focused solely on large wind farms designed to sell electricity into the overtaxed national power grid, Wind Energy Corporation is bringing an alternative wind energy solution to the marketplace.

Though obviously part of the answer, the sole solution to our energy needs can't simply be large wind farms located in high-wind areas and the construction of thousands of miles of new transmission lines. Using distributive solutions, in virtually any environment, and putting wind energy directly in the hands of individuals, gives people the power to lower their costs and improve the environment.

In 1943, Thomas Watson at IBM said "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." In 1975, Bill Gates' vision of having a computer in every home launched a new era in information and communication worldwide. Our vision of every community and commercial organization being energy independent is facing the same magnitude of skepticism — and can have the same magnitude of global impact.

Jim Fugitte is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Elizabethtown, KY-based Wind Energy Corporation, a manufacturer of wind turbines for the commercial and community wind market designed to operate in urban areas as well as other sites with low wind speeds. Mr. Fugitte received a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Kentucky, an M.A. in Economics from the University of Oklahoma, and completed the Graduate School of Retail Bank Management at the University of Virginia where he continues as a Bank Financial Management instructor for two weeks each summer.

Thanks:Renewable energy online

UN Report Says Clean Energy Investment Grows in China

Wind power plants are attracting increasing investment in China, according to statistics from the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP).

The newly released UNEP report, Global Trends in Substantial Energy Investment 2008, shows that China's sustainable energy investment increased by 91 per cent in 2007 to a record high 10.8 billion US dollars, most of which has flowed to wind power generating units.

The heavy investment enabled China's wind capacity to double to 6 GW last year.

Meanwhile, new investment in sustainable energy surpassed 148.4 billion US dollars on a global scale, up 60 per cent year on year. Funds in the wind power sector became the biggest contributor to the surge.

"At present, wind and solar power have already stood as the hottest spots for renewable energy investment. Alternatives like hydropower and nuclear energy are also coming into the field," said Zhang Shigang, representative of UNEP China office.

Beijing has taken quick action to catch up with the new global trend in clean energy development. Guanting wind power plant, in suburban Beijing, began full operation here on Saturday, supplying wind generated electricity into China's capital for the first time.

With the last 10 wind power generating units officially certificated by Beijing Electric Power Company, the plant has now installed 43 domestically developed wind power units, with a capacity of 64.5 thousand kW.

The plant is expected to supply 100 million-kWh electricity per year, or 300,000 kWh per day, to meet the daily demand of 100,000 households.

Officials with Guanting called the wind power plant a key project for the success of Green Olympics. Statistics from Guanting shows that the power plant could help cut yearly emission of carbon dioxide by 100 thousand tonnes and save 50 thousand tonnes of coal each year.

Originally published by Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 1347 19 Jul 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Thanks: ECN

20 pct of power supply for Beijing's Olympic venues to be wind-generated

A wind power plant has become operational in suburban Beijing, considered a major step towards making 20 percent of the power supply to the city's Olympic venues during the games wind-generated.

The Guanting Wind Power Plant, beginning operation on Saturday, would not only help fulfil Beijing's promise of a "green Olympics", but symbolize the first-ever large-scale employment of wind power generation project in the Chinese capital, said a spokesman for the project.

With an installed capacity of 64,500 kilowatts, the plant has 43 domestically developed wind power units at work.

Since its first unit went into operation on Jan. 20, the plant has supplied 35 million kWh of "green power" to Beijing.

It is expected to supply 100 million-kWh electricity per year, enough to meet the daily demand of 100,000 households.

The power plant could help cut yearly emission of carbon dioxide by 100,000 tonnes and save 50,000 tonnes of coal each year.

The Beijing Olympics opens on Aug. 8.

Thanks : ECN

Monday, 21 July 2008

Areas covered under Load shedding in city

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has announced a two-hour load shedding schedule to be adhered to in distribution across the city on a rotation basis from July 21.

6 a.m. to 8 a.m.: Patel Road, Power House back side, part of Ramnagar and Brook Bond Road, Cross Cut Road, Gokhale Street, Gandhipuram, 100 Feet Road, Radhakrishna Road, Kongu Hospital (backside), Easwaran Koil Street, Kottaimedu, Big Bazaar Street, part of Oppanakara Street, NH Road, Raja Street, Vincent Road, Good Shed Road, Railway Station, Variety Hall Road, R.G. Street, Ismail Street, C.M.C. Colony, Tamil Murasu office area, Nava India Road, Dental College (part), Ramakrisha Dental Hospital Road, Ramakrishna Auditorium, K.R.Puram, Avaramaplayam, Serayampalayam, Chinthamani Pudur, Pappampatti Pirivu, Trichy Road, Irugur, Gandhinagar, Bhagat Singh Nagar, Ranganathapuram (part), Karanampettai, Kamaraj Road, Masakaliapalayam (part).

8 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Flower market, Central Theatre, Chintamani, Mcricar, Bafna Complex, D.B. Road, R.S.Puram (part), Kattoor, Ramnagar, Hindu Grey Tower, V.O.C Park, Upplipalayam, Police Quarters, Dhandumariamman Temple, Dr.Nanjappa Road (part), Circuit House, Military Campus, Avinashi Road, Puliakulam Main Road, Appasamy Layout, B 7 Police Station Road, Tata Telecom, I.N.S.Agrani, P.K.D.Nagar, Balaguru Gardens, Nava India Road (part), Peelamedupudur (part), Jagannatha Colony, Government Hospital, Classic Towers, Trichy Road (from GH to Sungam), part of Race Course up to Surya Hospital, Income Tax office, Collectors Bungalow, Masonic Hospital, Raheja Enclave, T-Stanes, Thomas Park Housing Unit area, areas south of Trichy Road from GH to Sungam, CTC Depot, Bannariamman Sugars, LIC, GRD College, Medical College, CODISSIA Hall, Nehru Nagar (part), Ondipudur, Nesavalar Colony, Kaveri Nagar, Irugur (part), SIHS Colony (part), Pattanam, Pattanampudur M.G.Pudur, Kaliapuram, Karanampettai, P.G.Palayam, Kadampaddy, and Paruvai.

10 a.m. to 12 noon: North Coimbatore to Mettuppalayam Road, Sai Baba Koil, Telephone Exchange, Murugan Mill adjoining areas, TVS, Alagesan Road, Pattunool Sandhu, Stanes Mill, NH Road, Marakkadai, Variety Hall Road (part), Theppakulam Street, GM Nagar, Corporation sewage farm, Fish Market, South Ukkadam, Palakkad Main Road up to Electric Crematorium, lorrypet, MM Market, Karumbukkadai areas, Bharat Nagar, Saramedu road, Azad Nagar, Vallal Nagar, Pollachi Main Road from Aatuppalaam up to Podanur Pirivu, Peelamedu Pudur, Perumal Koil, PSG Estate, Sowripalayam Housing Unit, Nehru Street, Anna Nagar, Balasubramania Nagar, Kalloori Nagar, Ramalakshmi Nagar, Netha Layout, Arumugam layout, Bharathi Colony, Gopal Nagar, Perumal Koil, VOC Colony, Ellai Thottam, Akilandeswari Nagar, Ellai Thottam salai, Kalapatty, Valiampalayam, PLS Nagar, Singanallur (one area), Vellalore, Kamarajar Road, Irugur (part), SIHS Colony (part), Kannampalayam (part), Chinthamanipudur, Selvarajapuram, Bharathipuram, NT Nagar, Pallapalayam, Sulur (part), Sengathurai, Kadampaddy, Kangayampalayam and Aero Nagar.

Noon to 2 p.m.:

Ramakrishna Hospital area, VG Rao Nagar, Avarampalayam, Ganapathy bus stand, Sivanandha Colony, Gandhi Nagar, KR Puram, Viswanathapuram, Lakshmipuram, TK Market Area (entire), part of Raja Street (from Witco Jem to Ther Mutti), Vysial Street, Ayyasamy Koil Street, part of RG Street, parts of Big Bazaar Street, Slaughter House areas, Ukkadam fish market, STV Nagar, Bharathi Colony (part), Surya Garden, Avarampalayam road (east), Kurani Colony, Shobha Nagar, Elango Nagar, Ganapathy Industrial Estate, Murugan Nagar.,

Thaneerpandal, Ganapathy Maanagar, VOC Nagar, Gandhimaanagar, Avarampalayam Road (west), Ambal Nagar, Bharathi Nagar (part), Ramakrishna Puram, Police quarters, Housing Unit, Athipalayam Pirivu, Nehru Nagar, Ramanuja Nagar, Avanashi Road (part), Civil Aerodrome area, Hope College Park, Chinniampalayam, Goldwins, Thottipalayam Pirivu, Thirumagal Nagar and Tiruchi Road.

2 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Saibaba Colony (part), SBI Colony, Alagesan Road, Jeeva Nagar, R.S.Puram (part), Ramalingam Colony, K.K.Pudur (part), Pappanaickenpalayam, Paramasivam layout, Kuppuswamy Naidu Hospital, Mani High School, Pazhayur, GKD, GKS Nagar, Kempatty Colony areas, Sundakkamuthur Byepass Road, Ashok Nagar areas, parts of Selvapuram, Adwaith Mill, Chetty Street, IUDP Colony, part of Sullivan Street, Perur main road up to Selvapuram, Sreepathy Nagar, Kongu Nagar, Nethaji Nagar, Balaji Nagar, Nanjundapuram Road, Ammankulam, Periyar Nagar, Pankaja Mills, Hindusthan College Road, Meena Estate, Udaiyampalayam, Rajiv Gandhi Nagar, Sowripalayam, Chinnapaathai, Chinna Sowripalayam, Periya Sowripalayam, Velumurugan Street, Krishna Colony, Balasubramaniam Nagar, Karuprayan Koil Street, Sowripalayam Road, Thirumagal Nagar, Ranganayaki Nagar, P.S.G.Hospital, Deivanayaki Nagar, N.K.Palayam (part), Nanda Nagar (part), Trichy Road (part), Singanallur (part), Cheranma Nagar (part), Vilankurichi (part), Kalapatty (part), Chinniampalayam, Venkatapuram, Kulathur, Kannampalayam (part), S.K.K.Nagar, Ranganathapuram.

4 p.m. to 6 p.m. : Bharathiar Road, Balasundaram Road, RTO Office, Corporation Office, Race Course (part – near Anna Statue), Lakshmi Mills, Siddhapudur, Alamu Nagar, Balaji Nagar, Sungam (part), areas lying South East of Ukkadam – Sungam Byepass Road, Pari Nagar, Sivram Nagar, Sriram Nagar, Rukamni Nagar, Park Town, Trichy Road from Sungam to Ramanathapuram EB Office, Karunanidhi Nagar, AIR, AVP, Bishop Ambrose College, Puliakulam, Dhamu Nagar, Pankaja Mill Road, Trichy Road, Nanjundapuram Road, Ayyappan Koil Street, Avinashi Road, Puliakulam Main Road, Krishnaswamy Nagar, Indian Express, Nava India Road (part), Kallimadai, Krishna Colony, Kannapiran Mill Road, Vasantha Nagar, Hindusthan College Road (part), Lakshmi Nagar, Vilankurichi, Maheswari Nagar, Thanneerpandal Industrial Estate, Vilankurichi Road, CODISSIA Road, Peelamedu Industrial Estate, N.K.Palayam (part), Mylampatty, A.G.Pudur, Neelambur (part), Irugur (part), Kamatchipuram, Peedampalli, Nagamanaickenpalayam and Sulur.

Thanks: The Hindu

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Citigroup posts another big loss

Citigroup has reported another big loss, although it lost less money than had been expected.

The biggest US bank by assets lost $2.5bn (£1.3bn) in the three months to the end of June, weighed down by another $11.7bn of write-downs.

Citigroup said it had cut 11,000 jobs in the first six months of the year and planned to continue at the same rate.

The company's shares rose 7.7% to close at $19.35, following the smaller-than-expected losses.

It is Citigroup's third consecutive quarter of losses, following shortfalls of $5.11bn and $9.83bn.

Credit losses

The losses spring from problems in the credit markets because of uncertainty about the value of mortgage-backed debt issued by US banks.

It has left banks worldwide reluctant to lend money to each other, because they are uncertain about whether the other banks are creditworthy and whether they will need the money themselves.

The credit market turmoil has forced the industry to axe thousands of jobs as it attempts to reduce costs, with more cutbacks expected in the year ahead.

Chief executive Vikram Pandit said: "While there is still much to do, we are encouraged by our progress."

An element of bad news in the three-month results is that Citigroup's credit costs have jumped to $7.2bn, as more of its own customers are defaulting on their loans.

That means that while the losses from mortgage-backed debt may be slowing, the losses from Citigroup's own mortgages, car loans and credit cards are growing.

But some analysts believe there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

"While several global or major national banks delivered lousy earnings, the mortgage or credit market related write-offs weren't nearly as bad as expected and appear to be lessening," said Fred Dickson, an analyst at DA Davidson & Co.

Thanks: BBC

Friday, 18 July 2008

FIH awards 2010 hockey World Cup to India

HYDERABAD, July 18: The International Hockey Federation, the game's world governing body, formally awarded the hosting rights of 2010 men's World Cup to India.

FIH President Els van Breda Vriesman, who met Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi who is also the chairman of the ad-hoc committee which is running the game in the country, said the dates of the tournament would be declared later.

"FIH 2010 men's world cup has been confirmed and the venue for it is New Delhi, which will also host the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Dates for the men's world cup will be announced later," she told reporters here.

The mega-event will be a joint venture between the FIH and the IOA, Vriesman said.

"Holding of the event will be a joint venture between FIH and IOA and the profits will be reinvested for promotion of India Hockey," she added.

The FIH, over a year ago, had proposed to stage the event in India, subject to various factors related to the game and infrastructure and after being satisfied with all that they announced that India would be the hosts.

Vriesman also said that FIH has decided in principle to award the Men's Champions Trophy in 2011 or 2012 to India, subject to sponsorship and other arrangements, besides promising a Women's tournament in the country in the next few years.

Kalmadi disclosed that National Stadium would be the venue for the World Cup.

"The National Hockey Stadium in New Delhi will be the venue of the mega event. The stadium will also be the venue of hockey competition of Commonwealth Games in 2010," he said.

Thanks: ITS

Sensex closes 500 points up

MUMBAI: Market continued its northward journey Friday powered by lower than expected inflation figures and lower crude oil prices. Interest sensitive sectors like banks and real estate were the major gainers.

Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex closed at 13635.40, up 523.55 points or 3.99 per cent. It touched a high of 13684.27 and low of 13093.34.

National Stock Exchange’s Nifty ended at 4078.85, up 3.34 per cent or 104.90 points. The broader index touched a high of 4,110.55 and low of 3,926.30.

Tier II and III stocks under performed the benchmarks. BSE Midcap Index closed 1.63 per cent high at 5239.39 and BSE Smallcap Index ended 1.08 per cent up 6,455.89.

Biggest Sensex gainers were ICICI Bank (12.46%), HDFC (10.13%), Jaiprakash Associates (8.86%), HDFC Bank (7.54%), Bharti Airtel (7.5%) and DLF (6.51%).

Thanks: ET

Losers comprised Satyam Computer (-7.5%), Wipro (-4.42%), Ranbaxy Laboratories (3.72%), Tata Steel (3.38%) and Infosys Technologies (1.51%).

Market breadth on BSE showed 1608 advances and 985 declines, while on NSE, there were 849 gainers and 349 losers.

Data released after market closed on Thursday showed annual inflation at 11.91 percent in early July, slightly higher than the previous week's 11.89 percent, but below market expectations for more than 12 percent.

Oil prices bounced above $130 a barrel on Friday as buyers came back into the market after a more than 10 per cent slide in three days. But prices are still well below the record high of $147.27 on July 11.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Infosys beats TCS in net profit!

In what is probably the first time, Infosys Technologies beat its close rival and India's largest software company TCS in net profit reported in Q1.

In Q1, TCS has registerd net profit lower than that of Infosys Technologies although its total revenue is higher.

While Infosys had a net profit of Rs 1,302 crore for the first quarter, the comparable figures for TCS were Rs 1,291 crore, under Indian accounting standards.

TCS net income under the US GAAP fell marginally to Rs 1,243.6 crore, compared to Rs 1,255.8 crore in the previous quarter. Revenue in the same period grew 6% to Rs 6,410.7 crore. The weaker rupee also had a net negative impact on the profits, coupled with salary hikes given out during the quarter.

TCS said it saw a forex loss of Rs 75.3 crore in the first quarter, compared with a Rs 59 crore forex gain in the previous quarter.

Thanks: TOI

Economy still under inflationary pressure: FM

NEW DELHI: Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said economy is still under inflationary pressure, a view expressed by the RBI Governor Y V Reddy.

Reddy feels that the measures being taken by the RBI would help ease pressures on prices.

"I met RBI Governor Y V Reddy. Governor said there is still pressure on prices ... I am in broad agreement with him," Chidambaram told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

"So, if these monetary measures take effect, Governor expects some moderation (in inflation) over a period of time...," Chidambaram said.

He said the call money rates are indicative of a squeeze in money supply. "There are some signs of tightening of liquidity as you can see from call money rates," the Finance Minister said.

The overnight rates (call money rates) at which banks lend to each other have escalated to 7-9.1 per cent.

After briefing members of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance earlier this week, Reddy had met Chidambaram.

RBI had last month raised short-term lending (repo) rates by 0.75 per cent to 8.5 per cent and made banks to park more money with it through hike in cash reserve ratio by 0.50 per cent to 8.75 per cent.

On the back of high prices of crude oil and food items, inflation has reached 11.89 per cent giving handle to the opposition parties to attack the UPA Government in an election year.

The RBI is expected to take further tightening measures, including the interest rate revision, to cool the demand and check the price rise when it reviews its credit policy on July 29.

Thanks: TOI

Oil workers, Petrobras enter strike talks

BRAZIL: Brazilian oil workers and state oil company Petrobras began talks on Wednesday toward

ending a three-day-old strike, a union official said. Negotiations started in the afternoon after the

company met a workers` demand and ferry them home from the offshore rigs, said Glauber Barreto,

a spokesman, which represents oil workers in the Campos Basin. The region is the source of 80

per cent of Brazil`s oil production.

"They are still talking and no one knows when they will end," Barreto said. Petroleo Brasileiro SA

confirmed talks had begun. The oil workers launched a five-day strike on Monday to demand an

extra day off for every two-week shift they work on the platforms, noting it takes a full day off to

get to the platform and another to get back.

Brazilian refinery workers are planning a two-day work slowdown for Thursday and Friday to

support their offshore colleagues and demand a greater share of company profits. Most other

Petrobras workers are set to launch a larger, general strike for improved working conditions and

profit sharing on August 5, according to National Oil Workers Federation spokeswoman Alessandra Morteira. Courtesy:Economic Times


Now, a 50 megapixel digicam

NEW YORK: The Swedish company Hasselblad's announcement of the launch of Hasselblad H3DII-50, featuring a new Kodak 50-megapixel sensor, has pushed the available resolution in digital cameras to a new high.

/photo.cms?msid=3244023 Such high resolution goes beyond the needs of most consumers but professional photographers would appreciate the unprecedented level of detail provided by it.

"The H3DII-50 has been designed to meet the challenging demands of high-end photographers who require the best in image quality, performance and creative freedom," said Hasselblad CEO Christian Poulsen in a press release.

The camera, which would be available from October 2008, would also prove useful for applications such as aerial photography as the availability of higher resolution allows the plane to fly higher and the number of pictures necessary for covering a given area is also reduced.

The new Kodak image sensor, which produces an array of 8,176-by-6,132 pixels, would be implemented in the same size housing as Hasselblad's existing 39 megapixel H3DII-39 camera.

Kodak has also added a set of new features on the sensor, such as new dyes, that would result in richer colours. It also includes quick flush technology that enables faster image capture and lower power consumption, resulting in longer battery life.

Source: TOI

Data shows Mars' wet and balmy past

NEW YORK: Mars once hosted vast lakes, flowing rivers and a variety of other wet environment that had potential to support life, researchers say.

The conclusions are based on two studies conducted on data of American space agency's Mars Reconnaissance orbiter.

One study, published in the July 17 issue of Nature, shows that vast regions of the ancient highlands of Mars, which cover about half the planet, contain clayminerals which can form only in the presence of water.

Volcanic lavas buried the clay-rich regions during subsequent, drier periods of the planet's history, but impact craters later exposed them at thousands of locations across Mars, it showed.

The data for the study derives from images taken by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, or CRISM, and other instruments on the orbiter.

"The big surprise from these new results is how pervasive and long-lasting Mars' water was, and how diverse the wet environments were," said Scott Murchie, CRISM principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The clay-like minerals, called phyllosilicates, preserve a record of the interaction of water with rocks dating back to what is called the Noachian period of Mars' history, approximately 4.6 billion to 3.8 billion years ago, researchers say.

This period corresponds to the earliest years of the solar system, when Earth, the moon and Mars sustained a cosmic bombardment by comets and asteroids. Rocks of this age have largely been destroyed on Earth by plate tectonics.

They are preserved on the moon, but were never exposed to liquid water. The phyllosilicate-containing rocks on Mars preserve a unique record of liquid water environments possibly suitable for life in the early solar system.

Source: TOI

N-deal: Foreign Secy leaves for Vienna to brief IAEA

NEW DELHI: Even as the UPA government continues to face opposition from different quarters over the nuclear deal, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on Thursday left for Vienna to meet the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials.

Shivshankar Menon will brief 30 members of the IAEA and 10 nations of the strategically crucial Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the importance of India's nuclear deal with the US. Getting a nod from these nations will be high on Shivshankar Menon's agenda as any further progress on the deal hinges on the support of both the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers' group.

Among the 35 members of the IAEA Board, 26 are NSG countries. Rest of the NSG countries have also been invited for the special briefing, considering that the India has to seek waiver from the 45-nation grouping after the safeguards agreement is approved by the IAEA Board.

R B Grover, Secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy, is accompanying Menon to Vienna for the briefing. Earlier, India had decided to brief all the 140 members of the IAEA but the plan has now been scaled down as it was considered unnecessary as the safeguards agreement is to be approved only by the 35-nation Board. The IAEA Board of Governors will meet on August 1 to consider the safeguards agreement initialled on July 7.

Burns to reach Vienna for Indo-US nuclear deal consultations

The US State Department said that Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will be in Vienna at the International Atomic Energy Agency on consultations related to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

Burns, who is travelling to Geneva for a meeting on the Iranian issue, will stop off Vienna on Friday.

Left blast government

Back home, the Left parties had reacted sharply when the IAEA safeguards draft text was revealed by the government.

CPM leader Prakash Karat had lashed out at the UPA government saying it has lost credibility over the issue.

Saying that he had great respect for Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar, Karat had expressed surprise that even though Kakodkar had said on that the draft was not yet final, how could the government go ahead with it so fast.

However, congress scion Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday hailed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's "vision, tenacity and leadership" over the Indo-US nuclear deal. He said that the accord was worth the risk and "if the government falls in the process so be it.

Coming out fully in support of the deal he, however, expressed confidence that the government would secure the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha.

Describing the nuclear deal as fundamental to India's energy problems and one which can make the country a global player, he said, "I also believe that you need guts to do it. I appreciate it. I would tell him (PM) to take the risk again, again and again. That is leadership."

In a reference to Left parties, which have withdrawn support to the government, he said they may be opposing it for political reasons but the deal was absolutely in the interest of the country. The Left has an ideological position but the Congress has decided it is good for the country.


India, Pakistan, Iran to meet in Tehran to push IPI project

ISLAMABAD: Iran, Pakistan and India are expected to hold a meeting in Tehran later this month to push the $ 7.4-billion IPI gas pipeline project that had been delayed after being caught in wrangling over transit fee.

India will be attending tripartite talks on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project, that has been opposed by the US due to Tehran's involvement, after a long time as it had stayed away from discussions while a caretaker government was in power in Pakistan late last year.

After the Pakistan People's Party-led government assumed office in March, Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora had travelled to Islamabad for talks on the IPI and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline projects.

Ahead of the meeting in Tehran, Pakistan's Steering Committee on the pipeline project will meet here on July 17 to review the status of the gas transit fee to be paid by India for transporting Iranian gas across Pakistani territory.

Finance Secretary Farrukh Qayyum, Federal Board of Revenue Chiarman Abdullah Yousuf, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Salman Farooqui and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir will attend the meeting, a senior petroleum ministry official told the Daily Times newspaper.

The Steering Committee earlier met on January two and approved the draft Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA) with Iran for the IPI project.

The Steering Committee is expected to review the draft GSPA and the financial impact of the IPI project on Pakistan's economy. The pipeline is expected to bring benefits worth two billion dollars for Pakistan's economy.

The official said Iran had invited Pakistan to attend the tripartite meeting in Tehran though the date for the meet had not yet been finalised. The date will be finalised after the meeting of the Steering Committee on July 17.

Thanks: ET

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Massive power cuts in parts of Jammu region, Vohra intervenes

Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra today asked the officials of the power development department to look into possibilities of improving electricity supply in areas of Jammu region affected by the damage to a grid station.

Chairing the meeting of Administrative Secretaries at the state secretariat here, the Governor said while the cause of damage was being looked into, the officers of Power Development Department must explore all possibilities to improve the power supply urgently.

Due to damage to the Gladni transformer, parts of Jammu and Poonch and Rajouri districts are witnessing massive power cuts, an official spokesman said.

Vohra expressed serious concern over the power shortage in Jammu in the wake of damages caused to the 400 MVA transformer at Gladni Grid Station.

He said he had taken up the matter with the concerned authorities in Delhi who had promised to help in the time-bound repair of the transformer which had been dispatched to the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) unit at Ranchi.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Haryana takes measures to supply adequate power to farmers

With a view to supply adequate power to farmers in Haryana during the ongoing paddy season, the Steering Committee for Power Planning of the state has taken short term and long term arrangements for procuring additional electricity.

Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary (Power) Ashok Lavasa in a meeting here directed the officials to ensure that electricity is supplied to tube wells and public water works strictly as per the schedule and adequate power is supplied to all sectors.

Under the short-term arrangements, the state would purchase around 84 to 138 lakh units daily during July, 126 lakh units per day during August and 163 lakh units daily during September from Uttarakhand, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Referring to purchase of power on long-term basis, Lavasa said Haryana has entered into an agreement for supply of 24 MW share from Kehalgaon thermal power station located in eastern region.

The power from first unit of this project is likely to be available from August and that of the second and third unit from October and February 2009, respectively.

Consent has also been given to Power Trading Corporation to arrange 75 MW power on long term basis from Baglihar hydro power project in J&K.

Energy from non-conventional source is the future

GANDHINAGAR: Generating energy from non-conventional sources and production of `clean fuel` will

be the future for the energy sector world over, said chairman and managing director of Gas

Authority of India Limited (GAIL) U D Choubey here on Monday. "Today, out of the total oil and gas consumed in our country, 75 per cent is being imported, which is nearly 6 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This demand could go upto 95 per cent by the year 2020," Choubey said while launching the two year post graduate management programme for executives in petroleum sector at the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU) in Raisan here. "It is also expected that the energy needs in the country could grow 5-7 times by 2030. So, in order to cope up with the rise in energy demands we need to sustain the economic growth rate at 8 per cent and explore new sources of energy like solar, wind, hydrogen and nuclear energy," Choubey added. Courtesy:Economic Times


Monday, 14 July 2008

Punjab to get 1200 MW power from its renewable sources

State Science and Technology Minister Bikram Singh Majithia today said Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) has been working hard to contribute 1,200 MW power to PSEB in next two years.

While addressing a press conference here, he said PEDA has took a major leap forward in its endeavour to put up renewable energy projects in the state and it has set up Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) Power Projects in MW scale in the state.

He said that four companies including Moser Baer, PQES Inc, India Bulls Electricity and Azure Power have been shortlisted for 17 MW SPV projects to be set up on Build-Own-Operated basis at various locations in the state.

These projects would be completed and commissioned by December 2009 and power generated would be fed into the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) grid.

Inflation to touch 17% by September: Barclays

NEW DELHI: Global investment banker Barclays Capital has projected that inflation may surge to 17 per cent by September on back of another round of hike in fuel prices in the same month.

"We believe WPI inflation will remain in double-digit territory until May 2009. We expect WPI inflation of 17 per cent by September 2008," the report said.

For the week-ended June 28, wholesale prices-based inflation touched a new 13-year high of 11.89 per cent much higher than the Reserve Bank's tolerance limit of 5.5 per cent for the current fiscal.

According to the report, the government is likely to hike fuel prices between 10 and 20 per cent again as early as September to limit fiscal risks.

Rise in the price of the Indian crude oil basket to $145-150 per barrel from the current $132 per barrel could be the trigger for another round of increase in fuel prices, it said.

The government last revised retail petroleum prices with effect from June 5, when petrol prices was increased by Rs 5 a litre, diesel by Rs 3 per litre and cooking gas by Rs 50 per cylinder.

This resulted in inflation touching a double digit figure of 11.05 per cent for the week ended June 7.

Last week, even Finance Minister P Chidambaram's adviser Shubhashis Gangopadhyay predicted that double digit inflation will continue throughout the year 2008 and could impact the economic growth negatively.

Barclays Capital said, "we believe the momentum in core inflation will pick up steam in the next two quarters".

Over the next two quarters, manufacturing sector inflation would add to 200-300 basis points to the headline WPI rate, food and oilseed inflation would add 100-200 basis points, and energy inflation a further 100-150 basis points, it said.

The second-round effects of recent commodity price shocks are already passing through, and this process is expected to accelerate, it added.

RBI is also expected to further tighten monetary policy by hiking short term lending rate (repo rate) and mandatory cash requirements for banks to tame inflation.

The two monetary policy tools the RBI would utilise to rein in inflation would be the CRR and repo rate, it said.

"We forecast repo rate hikes of 200-250 basis points by end-2008, versus our earlier outlook for 150-200 basis points, from the current 8.5 per cent," it said.

In addition, the CRR which is currently at 8.75 per cent would be increased by 125-175 basis points by the year-end, it added.

The investment banker also revised average WPI forecast for the current year to 14 per cent from the earlier estimate of 13 per cent.

Health: Working on a computer? Watch your back

Most of us do it. Some do not pause once, others take breaks. Yes, all of us spend quite a good time on the computer. But have you wondered being glued to the monitor for hours at length could actually be dangerous for your back?

Of course, computers have become a necessity in everyone’s life. With increasing broadband penetration and last mile connectivity on the rise, the number of computer users are expected to grow at a fast rate in the coming years. But mind you, increased number of hours spent in front of the computer also brings with it a number of potential health hazards. People affected by health disorders such as occupational overuse syndrome (OOS) and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) are on an all-time rise. OOS, also known as repetition strain injury (RSI), is a collective term for a range of conditions, characterised by discomfort or persistent pain in muscles, tendons and other soft tissues, with or without physical manifestations.

CTS occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. Approximately 3-5% of the population has CST due to repetition of motion needed for computing tasks. It causes numbness, tingling, pain and weakness in the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers.

A wrong posture at work may also cause pain in the neck and back, sleeplessness, irritability and anxiety. The serious problems could include spondylosis and severe back pain. A friend working with a data entry firm recently faced it — and quite seriously. Used to chomping furiously at the keyboard for long hours, he complained of low-back pain the other day and had to see a doctor.

He was diagnosed as suffering from repetitive stress injuries that come from poor posture and typing habits. He was advised rest and educated on how these injuries could be easily avoided.

Here’s a dekko at the severity of the problem: Up to 15-25% of the workforce is affected by posture and back-related problems at any given point in time across the globe. According to a study, over 500 million man hours are lost every year in the US alone due to posture and ergonomics problems.

Clearly, there are huge economic implications which practically get unnoticed in a country like India. Expert say poor awareness among the people and lack of knowledge among doctors about industrial health lead to such problems. Says Dr S K S Marya, director, orthopaedics, Max Healthcare, New Delhi: "Simply put, ergonomics is all about postures and their relationship with health. The science of ergonomics studies how people interact with their environment, and then figures out ways to make these interactions more efficient and safe. That means designing backpacks to put less stress on the back, or arranging computer monitors so that you don’t have to strain to see the monitor."

Experts feel workplaces should pay more attention to chair design and ergonomics so as to avoid complications. “The spine should always have contact with the chair and the angle of head should be neutral. That’s the only way you can get away from problems like cervical spondylosis while doing repetitive work for long hours. In fact, people spend 8-14 hours in front of a computer everyday. If you do something wrong for prolonged hours, complications will arise,” Dr Marya adds.

In fact, ergonomics should be an essential part of any office design as this has a direct bearing on the health of the workers. Doctors say that if you have to do a repetitive work for long hours, like sitting in front of the computer, then you must get up for three-four minutes every hour and stretch your muscles because they can hold the spine for some time only. Centre of gravity is another important factor which ergonomics should look into.

Experts say that practising ergonomists must have a broad understanding of the full scope of the discipline. That is, ergonomics promotes a holistic approach in which considerations of physical, cognitive, social, organisational, environmental and other relevant factors are taken into account. One of the important goals of ergonomics is to design jobs to fit people. This means taking account of differences such as size, strength and ability to handle information for a wide range of users. Well, it’s time to sit up and take note.

Thank: ET

Thursday, 10 July 2008

MS.Dhoni - sometime Leaders may born

Dhoni's message: Let's change cricket in India

Mahendra Singh Dhoni
"Desh badla, bhesh badlo (The nation's changed, now change your deportment)", says Indian one-day captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in one of his latest advertisements. And now, he may as well add: "Ab cricket badlo (Now, let's change cricket)".
Instead of resorting to doublespeak, Dhoni has put his mouth where his money is. Within days of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) vice-president Rajiv Shukla saying that tired players can inform the board and opt to rest, Dhoni has done just that.
Like parents need to keep a check on kids running amuck in a candy store, the board needs to take care of its players. Instead of asking them to take a decision to opt out of tours, they probably need to cut down on cricket and preserve the charm of the game.
I don't even remember who played whom last week, let alone last month. And the list of injured players is such that it may as well lead the board to even float a tender for an official hospital.
Dhoni has for some time been indicating that there is a lot of cricket with little rest and recently when he chose to articulate it in public, the BCCI - or at least its most vocal Shukla - reacted fairly strongly. Dhoni, in his typical way, has answered back in style.
That's something not many Indian cricketers - barring Sachin Tendulkar - have ever done in the past decade and a half. Many players have confided in private that they are scared of opting out of a series simply because of the danger of players coming in their place doing well and cementing their place in the side. Of course, there's that little matter of a few extra million rupees in the bank.
Sceptics might say players from here on will tend to preserve themselves for the lucrative shorter versions of the game. Remember, Dhoni was not fully fit after the strenuous Australia tour and yet he played in all three Tests against South Africa, leading the side to victory in the last Test to square the series in the absence of an injured skipper Anil Kumble.
Sceptics may also say Dhoni could well have opted out of the Bangladesh tri-series or the Asia Cup. But wouldn't that have looked ridiculous coming on the back of the backbreaking Indian Premier League, where Dhoni earned a whopping $1.5 million? Also remember he is a successful captain in both one-day and Twenty20 cricket.
Dhoni has often indicated that he is building a team for the 2011 World Cup but he also understands the importance and intrinsic value of Test cricket. His decision to skip the Sri Lanka tour is a pragmatic one, keeping in view his long career ahead.
The last year and a half have seen him play no less than 14 Test matches, four times that number - 56 - of one-dayers and about 25-odd Twenty20 matches. That really is an awful lot of cricket - nearly 150 days - and as many days of travelling in about 540 days.
Dhoni's decision may indeed be path breaking - like much else that he has done - and is a clear message to the administrators that they are indeed pushing the players beyond their physical limits. So what if they are professionals - they are human too.
Players are moving around like zombies; they are carrying injuries or are on the verge of breaking down. Look at the fast bowlers - all of them look tired but still want to carry on. And if their injuries are discovered, the media pans them and out they go. Who knows they may not even get back into the team.
Yes, Dhoni has the stature and the guts to take such a decision, but will others be able to do the same? Unlikely.
Source: Indo-Asian News Service

IAEA Draft...

IAEA Draft

Thanks TOI

Karat blasts UPA govt over IAEA draft text


Reacting to the unveiling of the IAEA safeguards draft text, CPM leader Prakash Karat has lashed out at the UPA government saying it has lost credibility over the issue.

Speaking to journalists here, Karat said it is strange the government, that was till Wednesday convinced that the text of the draft was confidential, had now put it up on the Ministry of External Affairs website. He wondered what had happened between Wednesday and now that warranted such a turnaround.

On Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had categorically said that Parliament would be taken into confidence before making such a move.

"The government's decision to go ahead with the nuclear deal is nothing but shocking betrayal of commitment to the country and the people," said Karat.

Saying that he had great respect for Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar, Karat expressed surprise that even though Kakodkar had said on wednesday that the draft was not yet final, how could the government go ahead with it so fast.

He ridiculed the government by saying that even before the MEA site put up the text, some website in the US had put it up. "It is a shame," he said.

Karat said the Left would do everything politically possible to stop the deal from going through.

Thanks: TOI

South Australia drought worsens : BBC

A New South Wales farmer walks through a dusty field after its barley crop failed, 26 October, 2006
Australia is facing its worst drought in a century

A long-running drought in Australia's main food-growing region, the Murray-Darling river basin, has significantly worsened according to a new report.

Three months of dry weather, and the driest June on record, have plunged the area back into drought, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission says.

Crossing much of south-east Australia, the Murray-Darling is the country's most important river system.

The basin produces 40% of Australia's fruit, vegetables and grain.

Experts say the drought will hit irrigated crops like rice and grapes the hardest, because other crops, such as wheat, depend more on rainfall during specific periods.

'An absolute shocker'

The Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Wendy Craik, said that until there was significant rain and run-off, prospects for irrigation remained grim.

Dr Craik warned that while human demand along the Murray Darling river would still be met, other water requirements might not.

"If the sort of climatic regime we've had in the past couple of years becomes a feature of the future, it's pretty clear we don't have the volume of water available that we've had in the past. Clearly the basin is not going to be the same," she said.

A spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology National Climate Centre, Neil Plummer, added: "Autumn can only be described as an absolute shocker in terms of climate conditions for the basin".

Government leaders recently agreed an Aus$3.7bn (US$3.6 bn) plan to conserve water in the area.

But scientists say that without sufficient water flow by October, the unique ecology of the lower reaches of the river system will be irreversibly damaged.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has already admitted that his government's new conservation plan will not produce results fast enough to meet this deadline.

Large swathes of Australia have been affected by the worst drought in a century, hindering the country's economic growth and bankrupting many farmers.

Thanks: BBC

Alternative Energy

Billionaire oilman endorses wind power

Billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens is putting his clout behind renewable energy sources like wind power.

Nissan plans electric cars in Portugal

Automakers Nissan and Renault will sell electric vehicles in Portugal in 2011 and the allied companies have partnered with the government in an attempt to create a national network of charging stations.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Patni hands pink slips to 400 'non-performers'

MUMBAI / BANGALORE: After Tata Consultancy Services and IBM Global Services, Patni Computer Systems has laid off close to 400 employees citing non-performance issues. The country’s sixth-largest exporter said it was part of a routine appraisal exercise, carried out every year to weed out non-performers, and not related to any slowdown issues.

“This was an absolutely regular appraisal that is important for any performance-driven organisation. It is something standard we do every year. Employees who have got 0-1 rating on a scale of 5 typically form the basis for the first-level shortlist. These are performance-based resignations; we’ve not issued any termination letters,” said Rajesh Padmanabhan, executive vice-president and head – global HR, Patni. He said the comparable figure for last year was 148.

In February this year, in the backdrop of a pronounced slowdown in the US, TCS had asked about 500 employees to leave for non-performance. Shortly afterwards, IBM was reported to have laid off 700 freshers. In case of TCS, the figure was about 0.5% of its total workforce and for IBM, about 1% of its India workforce. For Patni, the figure is closer to 3% of its 14,800 workforce.

A Patni spokesperson said the company continued to be a net hirer. “Retrenchment is a word used when you are facing negative growth or no growth and cutting down on your labour costs. We continue to recruit — the number of new employees we intend to hire, according to our quarterly results communication, is about 2,000,” said a Patni spokesperson.

FM. Mr. P.Chidambaram: Economy will bounce back

Asserting that economy would bounce back, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said "right attitude and patience" could help the country face the problems like soaring inflation.

"Fast growing economies (like India) will face such problems. But the right attitude, patience and grit can help us not only face the problem but also tackle it," he said after laying foundation stone for Indian Bank's new head office here.

"We came out of crises like the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and the 1989-90 foreign exchange reserve crisis. Can't we come out of the present situation?" he said.

India had bailed itself out of other crises like the "first oil shock in 1973" and the 24 per cent inflation rate in 1979-80, he said.

Thanks: ET

Iran tests new missile

Iran has successfully test fired a conventional missile capable of reaching Israel, state media have said.

Video from BBC

More video from BBC

(Source BBC)

Siemens plans to cut 16,750 jobs

Siemens plans to cut 16,750 jobs worldwide as the German conglomerate streamlines its operations to weather the economic downturn.

The company employs around 400,000 staff worldwide. The cuts amount to about 4% of the workforce.

Siemens issued a profit warning in March and its shares have fallen almost 35% since the beginning of the year.

The firm plans to eliminate 5,250 jobs in Germany, where around 136,000 of its workforce is located.

The Munich-based engineering group said the cuts will include 12,600 mostly administrative jobs.

"Against the backdrop of a slowing economy, we have to become more efficient," said Peter Loescher, president and chief executive.

The job cuts are part of a scheme to reduce costs by 1.2bn euros ($1.9bn; £0.95bn) by 2010.

Siemens said it would only make forced dismissals as a last resort and would offer staff early retirement.

The company has also been grappling with an alleged corruption scandal that involved accepting bribes to win overseas contracts.

Thanks: BBC

Left demands nuke deal be made public

The left has accused the Manmohan Singh government of pushing forward the “notorious” nuke deal in its bid to fulfil its commitment to US President Bush. The Left said the government has shown complete callousness towards fulfilling its commitments to the people of India.

Addressing the media after a meeting with President Pratibha Patil, CPM chief Prakash Karat said the government had not been transparent about the deal at all.

In a clear indication that the parting is complete and a lot of dirty linen would be washed in public in the days to come, Karat said that the Left will release all the exchanges between them and the government over the nuclear deal issues. Adding that he is unable to make available two more notes as this "secretive" government took them back.

In a detailed account of why they were forced to withdraw support, Karat said the UPA and the Congress have violated the agreement that they had with the left on the nuke deal.

They had made a commitment on November 16, 2007, that they would talk to the IAEA, and based on the discussions there, would present a paper to the UPA-Left joint committee, which would then be examined, and only then the next steps would be taken. However, the convenor of the nuclear deal sub committee, Pranab Mukherjee, told them that they could not do so as the papers were classified.

He demanded to know who had termed the papers classified and whether it was the UPA govt, or the IAEA.

Asserting that the text of the nuclear agreement is going to bind us in perpetuity over safeguards, he took another swipe at Manmohan Singh and his love for the USA.

“The Congress leadership and Dr Manmohan Singh always look up to the USA, but there are some good things they should learn from the USA,” he said, before delving into the latest US move to place before the Congress some additional protocols that US wants for its own nuclear deal with IAEA.

Saying that these documents are available to be viewed by anyone on the internet, he wondered how Congress can now say that IAEA wants these documents to be termed as classified. "Are we to believe that the IAEA has one standard for the US and another for us," he asked, adding that "no text can be classified unless the government itself wants it to be termed so”.

He demanded that the text be made public as the country's nuclear scientists, experts and the people have a right to know what it contains.

Thanks: TOI

Left parties withdraw support

NEW DELHI: Political developments over the civilian nuclear deal with the United States reached a crescendo on Tuesday with four Left parties announcing withdrawal of support to the United Progressive Alliance government over its move to go to the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors to seal the safeguards accord.

Left leaders will meet President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday and formally hand over a letter of withdrawal of support.

Announcing the decision after a meeting of the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat said the Left parties decided that if the government “goes to the IAEA Board of Governors, they will withdraw support. In view of the Prime Minister’s announcement, that time has come.”

On way to Japan on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that the government would go to the IAEA “very soon.”

At a press conference , Mr. Karat reminded External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that since the UPA refused to provide the text of the safeguards agreement to the members of the UPA-Left committee on the deal, “no purpose will be served by having a meeting on July 10.”

Reading out their reply to Mr. Mukherjee’s letterin which he proposed a meeting of the committee on July 10, Mr. Karat said that at the sixth meeting of the committee on November 16, 2007, it was decided that the “government will proceed with the talks with the IAEA and the outcome will be presented to the committee for its consideration before it finalises its findings.”

The Left reply said, “Till now, the ‘outcome of the talks’, i.e., the text of the Safeguards Agreements negotiated with the IAEA Secretariat, has not been made available to the Committee. Without the text, the Committee cannot come to any findings. Since the UPA has refused to provide the text to the members of the Committee, no purpose will be served by having a meeting on July 10.”

The reply was signed by Mr. Karat and the general secretaries of the CPI, Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party, A. B. Bardhan, Debabrata Biswas and T. J. Chandrachoodan.

Thanks: VK, The Hindu,Photo:R. V. Moorthy

Don't kill Right to Education Bill

In August 2005, a bill was drafted with a sense of hope. This was the bill that would change the face of education in India. The draft brimmed with new ideas, the most radical being a clause that made it compulsory for private schools to have reservations so that rich and poor rubbed shoulders in the schoolroom and learnt about the way the other India lived.

The ministers and bureaucrats were unimpressed by this Gandhian vision, authored by the Government of India's Central Advisory Board for Education. More than unimpressed, they were unwilling. Reservations is a prickly political chestnut at the best of times and this ambitious clause was something they certainly did not want on their heads.

Three years have passed. The bill has been bounced around like an unwanted ball from department to department, it has been buried and resurrected and sent to limbo land. The cabinet has not bother- ed to read or discuss it. It was not introduced in the budget session. Right now, it is stuck somewhere in the bewildering maze that is the bureaucracy.

After the 2002 86th constitutional amendment made education a fundamental right for children under fourteen, the NDA government drafted a bill on the right to education. The bill never reached parliament. When the UPA government was elected, the issue was brought up again and a new bill was drafted in 2005. While the NDA bill had been drafted by government officers alone, the UPA bill involved a much wider range of professionals including university teachers, NGOs and government servants. The signs were good but educationists have long learnt not to always trust the signs.

So what is the Right to Education bill all about? Broadly speaking, it aims at setting minimum standards for both public and private schools so that the quality of education improves throughout the country and current inequities are levelled. While most will have no quarrel with this aim, many may have serious reservations about the method. A controversial clause makes it compulsory for all private schools to reserve 25% of their seats for poor children from the neighbourhood. This includes elite ICSE and IB schools, too. So even a school like a DPS in Delhi would be subject to this clause as would a Cathedral or a Dhirubhai Ambani in Mumbai and a St Xavier's and a La Martiniere in Kolkata. The bill has been fiercely opposed by the private school lobby which feels that opening its doors to the dhobi's son and the driver's daughter will dilute its brand value and lower standards. There is also the problematic issues of the high fees that some schools charge and the culture of elitism they espouse.

On another front, the bill aims at plugging some of the loopholes in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan. For instance, it wants to outlaw non-formal education and do away with the contract system of recruiting teachers which has proved disastrous.

"All non-formal schools across the country will as per the bill have three years to upgrade themselves to formal schools, which provide the minimum standards prescribed by the bill," says Vinod Raina, one of the architects of the bill. A physics teacher at Delhi University, Raina was one of the founders of the Eklavya Program, set up in Madhya Pradesh in 1972 to bring quality education to disadvantaged children.

As for the contract system, the government currently allows schools to appoint teachers on a contract basis and pay them a paltry sum of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 a month. Very often these teachers are simply not qualified to teach. The bill wants that this be abolished and that all teachers, both in private and government schools, be appointed on a permanent basis and given a full salary as long as they are qualified. Recognising the fact that there is a huge shortage of trained teachers across the country, the bill provides for a five-year period for the government to create a talent pool by launching wide-scale teacher-training programs.

One of the reasons given for the delay is that the costs to implement this bill will be staggering. The current estimates stand at Rs 1,51,000 crore. "It's sad that we do not believe that the right to education is as important as the right to life," says Nilesh Nimkar, Unicef advisor in Maharashtra and director of Quest, an organisation that works for the education of adivasi children. "Without education it's virtually impossible to lead a life of dignity. It's important for the government, within reasonable limits, to spend on education." India spends around 3.7% (under 4%) of its GDP on education. This is meagre given that most countries that put a premium on education spend at least 6% of the GDP, if not more, on education.

After the bill was drafted in August 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent it to a High Level Group (HLG) which included the finance minister and the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission. The HLG decided there was no need to pass any central legislation on education. So the bill was converted into a model bill and sent to all the states.

State governments were told to pass their own legislation, with a note from the central government asking them to put education on top of their list of priorities, second only to law and order. The states promptly sent the model bill back and asked the Centre to heed its own advice.

The bill was virtually buried for two years. In between, a mid-census correction reduced the child population by six million so budgets were halved from Rs 3,21,000 crore to Rs 1,51,000 crore. Finally, a team of educationists, two of whom were involved in the drafting of the bill, wrote a letter to the prime minister raising the issue of central legislation on education.

The PM met them in August 2007. Subsequently, the PM chaired a meeting of the HLG in February 2008 and directed that central legislation be introduced in the budget session. A new draft of the bill was created by the end of February 2008. However, there are still many hurdles. The bill required the approval of the Planning Commission as well as several ministries such as the ministries for woman and child development, finance and law.

Not surprisingly, the budget session came and went with the bill still bouncing between departments. The good news is that it has been cleared by the finance ministry and the Planning Commission. Right now it is with the law ministry. The monsoon session is upon us. Will the UPA government deliver on its promise and pass a landmark bill or will it be banished to a dark corner of the deep freeze?

Thanks: Times of India...

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