Monday, January 31, 2011

CASE Neuberg Solutions - Product Catalog - Digital Edition

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Publisher Software from YUDU

Composite Aqua Systems & Equipments Pvt Ltd

CASE group is in the market with its registered situated in New Delhi and corporate office in Faridabad. For improved market penetration and local service support the company has an efficient network of three factories located at strategic positions - Bangalore (Karnataka), Bahadurgarh (Haryana), Kolkata (West Bengal). The company today has established itself in the market and is known for Operational Efficiency, Functional capability, Unbeatable Design & Workmanship.

They offer a wide range of state of the art technologies for Coal Gasifiers , Cooling Solutions, Air Pollution Solutions, Water Treatment Solutions, Direct Reduced Iron and Solar Energy Based Power Plants. CASE is backed up by a vibrant and dynamic Marketing Team capable to understand and deliver to the demands and requirements of the client. A relentless After Sales Team adds to the satisfaction levels of the end user.

An innovative Research & Development section that repeatedly keeps adding up-to-the-minute features which facilitate our products for better performance and resilience.

Their Mission is to 'deliver globally the best of quality products at the most economic rates within minimum lead times'.

They are an ISO 9001:2000 certified organization, having a corporate affiliation with the prestigious CTI, USA. These affiliations assist us in meeting product qualities and performance with respect to International Standards. Their unending Client Base is an example of our non stop hard work and unbeatable capabilities.


Manufacturers of Industrial Cooling Towers, Water Treatment Equipments, Air Pollution Control Equipments and Scale-Ban (Non-Chemical Water Treatment Equipments). CASE Group is currently also putting Turnkey projects in India in the field of Coal Gasifiers, DRI plants, Solar Power Plants and automatic steel rolling mills.

Pattinson, Stewart love riding bicycles

London: "Twilight" co-stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart love riding bicycles.

The two actors, who are rumoured to be dating, have been spotted riding their bikes together around Louisiana when not filming their scenes for the upcoming "Twilight" movies.

"I see Rob and Kristen riding around the parking lot almost daily," quoted a source as saying.

"Recently I spotted Rob riding out of the main studio gates on his bike and the next thing I knew, he was in front of my car at a stop sign, and Kristen was behind me," the source added.

A R Rahman honoured with Crystal Award at WEF

A day after he won two Academy award nominations, Indian musician A R Rahman was honoured with the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum.

Rahman received the award at the opening ceremony of the Forum's annual meet here, attended by 2500 global leaders from business, government, art, culture and religion.
Khan, 44, clad in a embroidered black kurta, received the award which is given annually by the WEF to outstanding artistes who use their talent for social and charitable work.
While the WEF recognised Rahman for his music in 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'Bombay Dreams', it took note of his work in the field of child welfare.
Accepting the award, the 'Mozart of Madras', who has won several national and international awards, including the two Grammys and two Oscars, said that he gets "motivation" from the social work.
Jose Carreras, an opera artist from Barcelona, was also given the Crystal Award for his work for the patients of leukemia.
The award function was attended by several heads of governments, including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, top CEOs, religious leaders and academicians.
A strong 130-member delegation from India is attending the five-day annual WEF meet.

Madhuri and SRK come together again!

The Dhak Dhak girl and King Khan are said to be sharing stage space together at the very starry Filmfare night ...

The very sizzling legendary pair of Madhuri Dixit and Shahrukh Khan is likely to be back yet again to enthrall viewers and the industry alike very soon! The Dhak Dhak girl and King Khan are said to be sharing stage space together at the very starry Filmfare night which is to be held on 29th January, 2011 at the Yash Raj film studios in Mumbai. The two are supposedly performing on a romantic number together, for which rehearsals have begun with much spirit and vigor. Their sublime chemistry is said to be the highlight of the award show.

Madhuri is apparently very excited to be working with friend-cum-co-star Shahrukh, after almost a decade and is looking forward to giving some of her best jhatkas with the superstar. The two had last teamed up together for Hum Tumhare Hai Sanam in 2002, which did fairly well at the box office. But what the audience hasn't forgotten is the magic Madhuri and SRK created as 'Maya' and 'Rahul' in Yash Raj's romantic blockbuster Dil Toh Pagal Hai in 1997. Keeping this in mind, everyone's expectations are fairly high from the much talked about onscreen pair.

After 11 years, it would be an absolute delight to see this charming pair light up the stage once again! Tune in to the Filmfare award ceremony to catch their performance on the 6th of Feb, 2011 on Sony Entertainment Television.


See this intelligent Boy

AIIMS doctor sexually abused 8-yr-old patient?

NEW DELHI: An eight-year-old patient was allegedly sexually abused by a doctor of the AIIMS neurosurgery department within the hospital premises on January 23.

The child, who had been admitted to the hospital on January 18, underwent surgery on January 20 and was to be discharged on January 24. In a written complaint submitted to the AIIMS administration on January 24, the victim's father has alleged that his son was taken from the ICU to the duty room and sexually harassed by the accused doctor.

In a written reply to the boy's father, Dr A C Ammini -- head of the committee for prevention of sexual harassment at AIIMS -- acknowledged receipt of the complaint and asked the parents to attend a meeting of the committee on January 28 along with their son. TOI has copies of both the written complaint as well as Ammini's response. We are also aware of the name of the accused doctor but have chosen not to publish it as we have been unable to obtain his version.

The AIIMS administration has asked Dr Ammini to conduct an internal inquiry into the matter. When contacted, she said she was not authorized to speak to the media. AIIMS director R C Deka said, "It could be a misunderstanding between the patient and the doctor. An inquiry has been set up and we are awaiting the result."

The victim's father told TOI, "My son was taken from the ICU to the duty room around 10.30pm on January 23 while he was still admitted in the hospital. After he was harassed, he was threatened by the doctor not to tell anyone or he would not be discharged from hospital. My son, who was very scared, kept quiet until he was discharged on January 24 morning and told us afterwards. It was only then that we approached the police at the hospital who directed us to the medical superintendent where we gave a written complaint at 4.40pm. We were called by the committee of three doctors on January 28 and my son was questioned about the incident and asked to draw some things as well. However no physical medical test was conducted. We are planning to lodge a police complaint on Monday."

When contacted, local police claimed they were yet to receive a complaint on the matter. "We have not received an intimation of the matter and cannot register a case even suo moto. The victims should have immediately approached the police and we would have immediately looked into the matter," said a senior police officer.

Hospital sources said the committee has already questioned doctors, nurses and other staff on duty, though it has not submitted any report yet.

When TOI spoke to Dr D K Sharma, the medical superintendent, he said, "I am not aware of such an incident. If something like this happened, you should wait for the inquiry report."



Pakistan blocks Facebook over Prophet Mohammad online competition row

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) directed Internet service providers to block Facebook indefinitely on Wednesday because of an online competition to draw the Prophet Mohammad.

The order followed a decision by the Lahore High Court temporarily banning Facebook in Pakistan after the country's media reported that the competition would be held on May 20.

"The court has ordered the government to immediately block Facebook until May 31 because of this blasphemous competition," Azhar Siddique, a representative of the Islamic Lawyers Forum who filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, said.

"The court has also ordered the foreign ministry to investigate why such a competition is being held." A spokesman for the PTA, the country's telecommunication watchdog, said the government on Tuesday ordered Internet providers to block only the Facebook page showing these caricatures.

But on Wednesday the court ordered the entire Facebook site blocked. Any representation of the Prophet Mohammad is deemed un-Islamic and blasphemous by Muslims.

By late afternoon, Facebook was unavailable to Pakistan's computer users, although Blackberries and other mobile devices appeared able to access the site.

But some warned the court's response could backfire. "Blocking the entire website would anger users, especially young adults, because the social networking website is so popular among them and they spend most of their time on it," said the CEO of Nayatel, Wahaj-us-Siraj.

"Basically, our judges aren't technically sound. They have just ordered it, but it should have been done in a better way by just blocking a particular URL or link."

On the Facebook information page for the contest the organisers described it as a "snarky" response to Muslim bloggers who "warned" the creators of the Comedy Central television show " South Park" over a recent depiction of the Prophet in a bear suit.

"We are not trying to slander the average Muslim," the Facebook page creators wrote. "We simply want to show the extremists that threaten to harm people because of their Mohammad depictions that we're not afraid of them. That they can't take away our right to freedom of speech by trying to scare us into silence." Publications of similar cartoons in Danish newspapers in 2005 sparked deadly protests in Muslim countries.

Around 50 people were killed during protests in Muslim countries in 2006 over the cartoons, five of them in Pakistan. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on Denmark's embassy in Islamabad in 2008, killing six people, saying it was in revenge for publication of caricatures.

Pakistan also blocked the popular video sharing site YouTube in 2007 for about a year for what it called un-Islamic videos.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Driver, gunman flee with Rs. 68.5 lakh to be deposited in ATMs

New Delhi: A gunman and driver of a private security agency van fled with Rs. 68.5 lakh meant
to be deposited in different ATMs in the city when the cash custodians were depositing money in an ATM.

Police said the accused have been identified as Ram Kumar, driver of the cash van and Sanjeev Kumar, the gunman.

The incident took place in Alaknanda in Southeast Delhi on Friday evening, police said, adding that the accused even managed to disconnect the Global Positioning System installed inside the van.

The accused worked for Scientific Security Management Private Limited.

Ram, a resident of Mahipalpur, and Sanjeev, resident of Kotla Mubarakpur, were waiting outside the HDFC Bank ATM in the market at around 3.15 PM when the custodians Rajesh and Suresh went to the ATM to deposit the cash.

After waiting for sometime, Sanjeev handed over his gun to the ATM guard and told him that he and his colleague will come after having lunch.

"However, they never came back," police said. Police have formed a team to nab the accused and investigate the incident. The police said that the company employed the two last year in November.


Revenue official beaten by sand mafia

Sangli, Maharashtra: As more details are emerging on Additional Collector Yashwant Sonawane's burning to death by the oil mafia, another government official has allegedly been assaulted but by the sand mafia.

Revenue official Srinivas Patil says he was beaten by goons belonging to the sand mafia on the 25th of January when he stopped a tractor carrying sand at Shergaon village in Tasgaon, which is incidentally Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil's constituency.

Four people have been arrested in the case.

''We saw sand mafia goons leaving with a tractor full of sand. When I tried to stop them, they tried to kill me. I immediately called my bosses and reported the incident. They contacted the police who arrived at the scene. By then, the goons were nowhere to be seen," said Srinivas Patil, Revenue Department Official.

"I have taken note of the attack and have asked the concerned police to probe the matter," said Shyam Vardhane, District Magistrate.

Even though the attack took place in Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil's constituency, all he is prepared to say on the case is that the police have taken action.

Patil's tame response is worrisome, at a time, when Sonawane's death has sparked statewide protests among government workers.


Obama calls on Mubarak, asks to halt crackdown on protestors

US President Barack Obama on Saturday called on his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak to halt the crackdown on protestors, saying Washington would continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work along with their government to ensure a better future.

US President Barack Obama
Obama, who spoke to Mubarak for 30 minutes, asked the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.

"The people of Egypt have rights that are universal.

That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere," Obama said in his statement to the press.

Obama spoke with Mubarak after the latter addressed the nation, in which he ordered the resignation of his entire Cabinet.

The US President also called on the Egyptian government to restore services of Internet and cellphone, which was earlier suspended following the protests.

"At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek," he said in his remarks addressed to the protestors.

"Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we've cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region.

But we've also been clear that there must be reform -- political, social and economic reforms that meet aspirations of the Egyptian people," he said.

Noting that grievances have built up over time in the absence of these reforms, Obama said Mubarak pledged for a better democracy and greater economic opportunity when he addressed the Egyptian people.

"I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise," Obama said.

Violence, he argued, would not address the grievances of the Egyptian people.

"And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What's needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people."

Observing that ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people, Obama said that they want the same things like every one -- a better life for themselves and their children, and a government that is fair, just and responsive.

"Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization."

Expressing America's commitment to work with all the sections in Egypt to achieve a better future, Obama said, "Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That's true here in the US; that's true in Asia; it is true in Europe; it is true in Africa; and it's certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard," he said.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Karmapa's home raided in Dharamsala, Rs 1.32 crore seized

The Himachal Pradesh Police have recovered around Rs 1.32 crore, including 4,000 euros, in cash from the residence of the 17th Karmapa and a vehicle carrying Buddhists monks to Dharamsala.
The police on Thursday raided the Gyuto Tantric Monastic University, home of the Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorjee. "The monastery was raided around 1.30 pm. The police recovered Rs 5 lakh in cash and 4,000 euros there," SP (Kangra) Diljeet Singh Thakur said. The cash is suspected to be slush money.
A day earlier, the police seized Rs 1.25 crore in cash from a car in Una, bordering Punjab. Some monks and two other persons were in the car and they were on their way to Dharamsala.
The Karmapa's close aide Rubgi Chosang was arrested after the unaccounted money was seized. The police believe that the money was meant for some "illegal" land deal in Dharamsala in Kangra district with the involvement of the Karmapa's aide. Police suspect that the cash was drawn from two private banks in New Delhi a few days ago. They said the Karmapa would be questioned if needed.
The Karmapa, spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school which is one of the four sects of Buddhism, fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000. He has mostly lived in the Gyuto Tantric monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala - the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, the Karmapa's activities have been under the scanner following reports of his alleged links with the Chinese authorities.
The government had confined his movement within 15 km of his residence, which lies close to the Dalai Lama's abode. Of late, he has not even been allowed to visit the Dalai Lama frequently. In July 2008, the Karmapa was denied the permission to visit the monasteries in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir which are situated close to China.
This apart, he reportedly had started a multi-crore religious structure on a large site in Kotla, 42 km from Dharamsala. This came under the scanner a month ago when the income tax department and the security agencies questioned the source of funding. The matter was also reported to the foreign ministry, which later stopped the construction.


Was IPL auction fair? Mumbai Indians raise questions

MUMBAI: Until now, there were just rumours. Now, it seems that the IPL players' auction on January 8 and 9 could well have been rigged. Or so it would seem if you look at the angry letter that Mumbai Indians have shot off to every member of the IPL's governing council, demanding an explanation for the last-minute changes to the auction process. They have categorically stated that the changes were not only unjustified but also unacceptable.

The three-page letter, a copy of which is with TOI, points out that most franchises were taken by surprise when they were told about a change in the rules in the January 6 briefings, a day before the auction.

In the first briefing on December 17, the franchises were told that the players would be arranged in pre-defined sets. The plan, they were informed, would be to start with the marquee players and then move to sets of same specialization (meaning: batsmen, bowlers, allrounders etc).

Critically, they were told that "the order of all these sets will be determined by (a) random draw that will take place in the auction room."

At 5 pm on the eve of the auctions, though, the franchises received another email - just two hours before the GC was to take them through another briefing. It said: "An updated version of the auction briefing (has been sent). The only changes are in paragraphs 37 and 38. Please read as paragraph 38 will impact your strategy."

The MI letter says "the so called updated version of the auction briefing reads as follows: The final sentence of paragraph 18 is to be deleted. The sets will be presented to the Auction in order of the auction list (which need not have same speciality players in the same set)".

MI claim that the 'amended' rule resulted in a fundamental change to the auction process as "selection of sets at random" was substituted by a 'pre-decided order of the auction list'."

The primary purpose of deciding the order of auction (whether for subsequent sets or players within sets) through a random draw in the auction room in presence of bidders was to ensure transparency and a level-playing field. In the changed scenario, certain individuals or franchises could have been privy to the exact sequence of the auction which would have allowed them to plan better. More significantly, if they got this information earlier, they could have waited for the right moment to bid for the right player.

Therefore, MI says "Any last-minute change can have justification if, and only if, strong justifiable and emergent reasons can be demonstrated to be present" and adds further "we see a complete absence of such reason or justification. Kindly let us know how and whose instance these changes were introduced."

It should be mentioned here that Chennai Super Kings owner N Srinivasan sat as a member of the GC at the auctions even as his team bid for players and, as TOI had reported on January 10, franchises had already started murmuring that they were unhappy about last-minute changes.

Srinivasan's family owns the franchise even as he happens to be a GC member, BCCI secretary, its president-elect and president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA). Interestingly, CSK successfully managed to bid for all premier Tamil Nadu cricketers.

TOI had also questioned GC chairman Chirayu Amin about the same on January 10, to which the answer was a meek one: "We always ensure complete transparency. If any franchise feels otherwise, they are free to mention it."

The agenda of the meetings were approved, the quorum and minutes were recorded, the basis - if any - on which order of sets in auction list was determined. Then, MI's question to the GC is "Who authorized to amend these rules and what was the source of such authority?"

If Amin says there was complete transparency, then why are these questions coming out of the closet now?


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Facebook is shutting down in March 2011. Is this true?

"Facebook is closing down. The Roman Emperor of social networking is tired of it all. He is heading for pastures new. Oh, and you might never be able to get your photos (or your pokes) back." ......

I saw somewhere that facebook was shutting down march 2011. Is this true? 

Omar foils BJP's flag-hoisting plan

JAMMU: Police on Wednesday released four top BJP leaders detained as part of the crackdown on the saffron party's Ekta Yatra to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on the Republic Day.

The state government deployed thousands of troops and arrested hundreds of BJP activists to foil the march "aimed at vitiating the state's peaceful atmosphere" on Tuesday.

Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Shanta Kumar were released from a hotel in Kathua, where they were being held, after the official Republic Day celebrations ended at Jammu's Maulana Azad Stadium. Officials said a case against the four for violating prohibitory orders in Kathua was withdrawn before their release. DIG Gareeb Dass escorted them to Jammu where they addressed party workers at BJP's state headquarters.

"The yatra has concluded because it was to culminate on January 26. Now it is for the government to answer why opposition leaders were kept in custody on Republic Day," Swaraj told reporters.

The BJP leaders earlier spurned Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah's invitation to attend the celebrations in Jammu or Srinagar. "It was a face-saving exercise. We were released at 12.40 when these functions had concluded," said Swaraj.

Republic Day celebrations ended peacefully in Kashmir amid heavy security. Police said BJP activists made several attempts to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk. "Seven BJP workers were arrested around Lal Chowk while trying to hoist the flag there," said an officer. One worker was identified as Gurgaon's Srikant Sharma. "He was arrested after he appeared at Lal Chowk carrying the flag in the morning."

Hundreds of troops carrying automatic rifles, patrolled empty streets and put up barricades to prevent a separatist march to Lal Chowk. "Curfew was imposed in several parts of Srinagar," the officer said.

Several separatist leaders, including JKLF leader Yasin Malik, were arrested to foil their Lal Chowk march.

BJP youth wing president Anurag Thakur, who led the yatra from Kolkata, claimed three activists managed to unfurl the tricolour at Lal Chowk. "The culmination of the yatra with hoisting of the tricolour at Lal Chowk is the victory of nationalism."

Blocking yatra shores up CM's image

J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah's tough handling of BJP's Tiranga Yatra made him unpopular with the saffron party but it appears to have improved his image in the Valley.

The Rising Kashmir newspaper, that was scathing in its criticism of his handling of the summer agitation in the state, likened Omar's approach to the yatra to his grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah's crackdown on Bhartiya Jan Sangh leader Shyama Prasad Mookerjee's march in 1953.


Primary school intake drops, UP prime culprit?

NEW DELHI: The mysterious decline in enrolment of more than 10 lakh children in class I to V in Uttar Pradesh alone over a year has pulled down India's primary admission by over nine lakh in 2009-10 as compared to 2008-09.

However, there has been an increase in enrolment of Muslim children both at primary (class I-V) level at 13.48% in 2009-10 from 11.03% in 2008-09, and upper primary (class VI-VIII) level 11.89% in 2009-10 from 9.13% in 2008-09.

Karnataka has shown a big improvement from 14.67% in 2008-09 to 35.52% in 2009-10. Muslim girls form nearly 50% of the community's enrolment at both primary/upper primary level. Enrolment of children belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Class has seen a marginal decline.

There has been improvement in percentage of schools with computers — Kerala, Punjab, Puducherry, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep and Delhi schools have computer coverage ranging between 85% and 100%. Bihar brought out the rear. The state has only 2.5% schools with computers. Mid-day meal is being provided in 87.45% schools. Karnataka fared poorly on this count, where the coverage extended to only 45.87% schools.

The exhaustive statistics on primary/upper primary education by National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) — to be released on February 1 — says in 2009-10, 13.34 crore children were in class I-V. In 2008-09, the corresponding figure was 13.43 crore.

While Uttar Pradesh made the maximum contribution, marginal decline was noticed in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and a few other states. While maintaining that decline in UP is a cause for concern, experts in NUEPA attribute the marginal decline to stabilization in enrolment at primary level, but point to parallel increase in upper primary (VI-VIII) admissions. "Enrolment at primary level has almost become constant nationally at 1.34/1.33 crore, but at upper primary it will go on increasing," said Arun Mehta of NUEPA.

In 2009-10, enrolment in upper primary was 5.44 crore — an increase of 11 lakh — as compared to 5.33 crore in 2008-09. Enrolment in government and private management schools stood at 69.51% and 30.42%, respectively.

Bihar and Lakshwadeep have almost 100% enrolment in government schools. But private schools (aided by government as well as unaided) dominate in Goa, Kerala, Puducherry, Meghalaya and other states. Percentage of private share to total schools was 19.49%.

Between 2002-03 and 2009-10, the government added 1.32 lakh primary and 58,720 upper primary schools. More than 40% primary schools have pupil-teacher ratio of more than 30:1 and 33.17% upper primary schools have pupil-teacher ratio of more than 35:1. Survey also showed that 14 days were lost on account of teachers being asked to perform non-teaching jobs.


A Rs 10,000cr kerosene black market killed Yeshwant Sonawane

NEW DELHI: A thriving black market in kerosene, estimated to be worth Rs 10,000 crore every year, killed additional collector Yeshwant Sonawane. A litre of kerosene sold at ration shops is often costlier than a bottle of packaged water. Most of this "poor man's fuel" is pilfered and sold in the black market for a price that's two or three times higher.

It's really money for jam. Sonawane tried to meddle with this lucrative illegality and paid with his life. Actually, most enforcement officers make peace with the fuel mafia and get some crumbs from the mafia. It would appear Sonawane didn't.

The oil ministry has tried to work out the maths of this black market. According to its estimates — said to be conservative — as much as 40% of the kerosene supplied for the poor is siphoned off by "organized gangs of mafia proportion". But even going by this estimate, the illegal trade is humungous.

Here's a quick calculation. State-run oil companies annually supply 9-10 million tonne of the fuel for sale through ration shops; 40% of that means almost 4 million tonne — or about 5200,000,000 litres of kerosene — is flowing into the parallel market. At around Rs 31 per litre in the open market, this trade is worth Rs 16,120 crore. That's why the official estimate (done in 2006) is said to be conservative.

"Even at the government-capped price, the value of this diverted kerosene will be huge. Add to that the money these fuel gangs would be making by selling it in the black market for more than twice the controlled price, and you will get a really large trade involving thousands of people," said a senior marketing executive of biggest fuel retailer IndianOil Corporation said.

An interim report by National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) had in 2005-06 said nearly 4-5 million kilolitres of kerosene was being diverted every year. It had put the stakes at Rs 10,000 crore at the time when consumption levels were hovering a tad higher at 10-11 million tonne a year.

Around the same time, a study by National Institute of Public Finance and Planning (NIPFP) said government subsidy gave kerosene an undue price advantage against other fuels and created ground for diversion. The NIPFP study also said kerosene and cooking gas subsidies benefit semi-urban and urban consumers more, respectively, rather than the rural poor. "Decades of subsidies have failed to shift the fuel consumption patterns away from biomass in rural areas."

Oil company executives said about 20% of the total kerosene supplied to the ration shops are used for adulteration of diesel and lubricants used by truckers. Now a substantial quantity is smuggled to Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan as the fuel is priced much higher in those countries. "When the studies were being conducted, kerosene was even being smuggled to Sri Lanka. But it may not be the case now," the IOC executive said.

Oil company executives say that about a third of the diverted kerosene is used as fuel (no doubt, by the poor at a hefty premium). The remaining quantity is used for adulteration or is smuggled out of the country. Usually adulteration with diesel is done in the ratio of 30:70 but in cases it can go upto almost half. "It all depends on how quick a buck the adulterator wants to make or on the diesel supply position," one executive said.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Now, common test for PG, MPhil, PhD in central univs

NEW DELHI: A committee of vice-chancellors of central universities (CUs) has recommended common entrance test for admissions into postgraduate (PG) and MPhil/PhD courses across 42 CUs.

Sources in the committee said if the model works well, it can be adopted at the undergraduate level. However, the report is silent on admissions into undergraduate courses.

Another panel on Nava-ratna Universities — Indian equivalent of Ivy League varsities — has recommended direct funding from the central government, freedom to fix salaries, fee structure; reward for performing teachers, cutting increment to non-performers and flexibility to invite the best faculty from any part of the world.

The recommendation on common entrance test could evoke strong reactions. Set up late lst year by HRD minister Kapil Sibal, it said common entrance for PG courses should be based on both performances in entrance test and in the graduate examination. Performance in the first two years of graduation would be factored. The weightage for performance in graduate course may be 30%, and 70% weightage could be given to performance in the entrance test.

The entrance test will consist of two sections: scholastic aptitude and knowledge of subject in which admission is being sought. The committee has suggested that relative weightage between the two could be in the ratio of 40:60. The panel has said universities with special character/historical reasons could be free to have their own admission process.

In case of MPhil or PhD courses, the committee has recommended, common entrance could be similar to the UGC National Eligibility Test for Junior Research Fellowship. The varsities would be free to have their own interviews for MPhil and PhD courses. The institutions would also have the freedom to decide weightage for the interview, but it should not be more than 40% in any case.


Won't give up, we will enter J&K again: Sushma Swaraj

CHANDIGARH: Hours after being deported out of Jammu, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said that she, Jaitely and Anant Kumar will once again lead BJP workers to enter J&K on Tuesday.

"If we had our say we will reach Lal Chowk at Srinagar on January 26 with large number of people to hoist the national flag," she added.

Sushma tweeted, "We did not come for a Satyagraha. We have come for Tiranga Yatra. Won't give up. Come what may...We will enter J&K again."

Around 50,000 BJP and BJYM activists are likely to gather at Madhpur on Tuesday morning where first they will be addressed by senior party leaders and then they will head for Lakhanpur border to enter J&K.

Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Anant Kumar held a close door meeting alongwith BJYM national president Anurag Thakur to decide their strategy for Tuesday morning.

Anurag Thakur before heading for meeting with top BJP leaders told TOI that they are determined to enter Jammu to hoist national flag at Lal Chowk.

The three leaders were brought to Lakhanpur border from Jammu airport under tight security. Even the doors of their cars were locked and were opened only by security officials when the cavalcade reached Lakhanpur.

They were brought to Lakhanpur border in three bullet proof amabassador cars which were further surrounded by four gypsys and one jammer.

Meanwhile, reacting to the move by Omar Abdullah government to forcibly move them out of Jammu, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitely said that the situation in J&K today is worst than it was in 1953 when one needed a permit to enter the state.

"Today you can physically pick up people and throw them out of the state," he said.

He described the Jammu and Kashmir government's action against them as "unprecedented and undemocratic."

Jaitely said "I don't know whether there is any rule of law left in the country and in this state. There is absoutely no law."

He said the Yuva Morcha is determined to proceed ahead with the yatra.


At least 31 killed, 130 injured in Moscow airport terror attack

An explosion ripped through the arrivals hall at Moscow 's busiest airport on Monday, killing 31 people and wounding about 130, Health Ministry officials said.

In this Sunday, April 18, 2010 file photo passengers are seen at Domodedovo airport outside Moscow, Russia. An explosion ripped through the arrivals hall at Moscow's busiest airport on Monday, killing some travellers and wounding others, Health Ministry officials said. The state RIA Novosti said the explosion may have been caused by a suicide bomber.
The state RIA Novosti said the explosion may have been caused by a suicide bomber.

The Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei radio station cited a traveler, identified as Viktor, as saying he heard the bang outside the airport, where he was waiting for a car.

"There was an explosion, a bang. Then I saw a policeman covered in fragments of flesh and all bloody. He was shouting 'I've survived! I've survived!'"

Domodedovo is generally regarded as Moscow's most up-to-date airport, but its security procedures have been called into question.

In 2004, two suicide bombers were able to board planes at Domodedovo by buying tickets illegally from airport personnel. The bombers blew themselves up in mid-air, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.

In more recent suicide bombings in Moscow, twin blasts in the subway last March killed 39 people and wounded more than 60 people.

In December 2009, Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for blowing up a high-speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, an attack that killed 26 people and injured scores.

Monday, January 24, 2011

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Kiran Reddy avoids Jagan 'bait'

HYDERABAD: A day after his belligerent posturing against Jaganmohan Reddy, chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy found himself in a tight corner. Having realised that his bravado of challenging the Jagan camp MLAs to resign and get themselves re-elected had backfired on him as it would reduce his government into a minority, the CM tried to buy peace by merely saying that his government's immediate focus is Rachchabanda and nothing else.

Making a quick somersault, the CM said on Sunday, "raat gayi, baat gayi (the issue is over and there's nothing to discuss)."

Kiran had earlier launched a broadside in Delhi on Jagan campers by asking them to quit the party and asserting that his government was not surviving at the mercy of any leader (read Jagan).

The CM was ill at ease here on Sunday while interacting with media personnel on the Rachchabanda programme, which was aimed at bringing the administration to the doorstep of the comman man. Refusing to entertain questions on his vituperative attack on Jagan and other issues, Kiran said: "Let us not talk about anything else other than Rachchabanda programme."

The CM even brushed aside queries on former minister and his bete noire Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy who defiantly said that he would not allow Rachchabanda to be conducted in the CM's home turf of Chittoor district. " I am only appealing to all public representatives not to politicise the programme since it is aimed at bringing benefits to 1.25 crore people who are below the poverty line," the chief minister said. When asked whether he would stand by his challenge and what he said to the media in Delhi, he merely smiled and said, "raat gayi, baat gayi." While the import of his reply is anybody's guess as the CM is not in a position to dictate terms to any leader at this stage, minister for civil supplies D Sridhar Babu came to his rescue by saying that no motives should be attributed to the remark of the CM as it was made in a "different context."

Meanwhile, the CM listed out the various programmes that would be taken up during the Rachchabanda which would be launched from Srikakulam district on Monday and would continue till February 12. He said he would tour all districts including the 10 Telangana districts as part of the programme. He said the programme would cost the government Rs 2,500 crore and already Rs 1,200 crore has been released.


World's baby No. 7 billion could be born in UP

In the midst of all the handwringing over population explosion in the country, the Indian government might miss preparing for a global record-setting event — the birth of the baby that would take the population of planet earth to the seven billion mark.

The momentous birth is projected to happen towards the October or November. But what's that got to do with India? Well, we just happen to be the country with by far the highest number of babies born every minute at 51. That means the probability of Baby 7 Billion being an Indian is higher than for any other nationality. In fact, Uttar Pradesh alone has about 11 babies born every minute a figure that no nation other than China exceeds and Nigeria matches.

Actually, the event may even happen as late as early or mid-2012 depending on which person or organization`s estimates you take as valid. After all, there is no agreement even on when exactly the six billion mark was crossed. While the UN said its calculations showed that the six billion figure was reached on October 12, 1999, the US Census Bureau said it was reached on July 22, 1999. The quibbling over the exact date seems quite pointless considering the fact that 267 babies are estimated to be born every minute in the world, almost a fifth of them in India.

With even the date of the event being in question, clearly deciding on exactly which birth tips the scales is an arbitrary process. How does one decide which out of the 16,000 babies born each hour or 384,000 babies born each day becomes the record-breaking seven billionth baby?

The UN had chosen Adnan Nevic born in Sarajevo, Bosnia on October 12, 1999 as the symbolic six billionth baby. UN officials insisted that there was no special significance in the choice of Sarajevo. Similarly, Matej Gaspar born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia on July 11, 1987 was designated the five billionth baby.

If it's as random as that, don't bet on a UP-ite or indeed an Indian baby being conferred the title this time round. The depressing news, of course, is if the baby is born in UP, the chances of he or she celebrating a fifth birthday will be slim as the state has the dubious distinction of having the highest under-five mortality in the country - 96.4 per 1,000 much higher than the national figure of 74.3 per 1000.

Whichever baby gets chosen as the symbolic seven billionth, the concern is about the kind of world that awaits these children. As the date to cross the next billion draws closer, there is panic about whether there will be enough food, water and energy for the billions being added too quickly and whether the earth can support them. Between now and 2050, virtually all population growth will take place in the Low Development Countries. This paints a grim picture of the future of the millions who will be born in some of the poorest families in the world.

After taking about 250,000 years to reach the first billion sometime around 1800, humanity has been increasing its pace of growth rapidly. In just 127 years, the human population crossed the next billion in 1927 and then accelerated further, reaching the next billion within 33 years in 1960. It then raced to touch four billion in 1974. Since then, the pace has not been increasing as fast, as it touched five billion 13 years later in 1987 and six billion 12 years later in 1999. Now, another 12 years later, it is expected to touch seven billion.


Income tax officials raid residences of Priyanka Chopra and Katrina Kaif

NEW DELHI: Income tax officials are conducting raids at residences of Bollywood actresses Priyanka Chopra and Katrina Kaif, TV channels reported on Monday.

The income tax sleuths reached the residences of Katrina and Priyanka at 7:30am in the morning and are conducting searches at all premises of both the actresses.

Further details are awaited.

Pathan ton in vain, SA win by 33 runs

Hosts South Africa beat India by 33 runs (D/L method) in the rain-marred fifth and final ODI to win the series 3-2 at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday. SCORE

Chasing 268, India were all out on 234. The win could have been massive but for Yusuf Pathan's batting blitzkrieg, that saw him score a 68-ball ton towards the end.

 Yusuf Pathan on way to his 105 in Centurion. AP
Coming in to bat at the stage when India were 60/5, Pathan changed the face of the game with his sixes and fours. Spinners or pacers - all were sent across the park. In fact, the over before he was dismissed he hit two sixes and two fours in Lonwabo Tsotsobe's over.

He forged a 100-run ninth wicket stand with Zaheer Khan bringing down the escalating run rate to run-a-ball. But a lofted shot off paceman Morne Morkel ended his 105-run innings that was decorated with eight sixes and an equal number of fours.

Morkel completed his four-wicket haul when Faf du Plessis caught him at extra cover.

Keeping aside Pathan's impressive knock, the hosts dominated the proceedings from the start.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss but failed to capitalise on it. He chose to field first under overcast conditions - a surprising decision keeping in mind that the lopsided Duckworth Lewis method was lurching round the corner.

That and Hashim Amla's impressive 116 not out, took the game away from the Indians.
South Africa put 250 on board in their stipulated 46 overs. But the same target after the D/L calculations swelled and India ended up chasing 268 for a win.

Batting second with a huge total looming large and ball doing wonders in the moist air, India had little chance.

Opener Rohit Sharma was the first to get a taste of South Africa attack that had become lethal under the prevailing conditions.

Even before he could settle down he was bowled out by Lonwabo Tsotsobe on 5 with an inside edge crashing into his stumps. There wasn't any foot movement and his bat-pad gate was wide open.

With a poor stance Sharma's chances were slim, but what followed could have been avoided as Virat Kohli, who had scored a fine 87 in the last match, too fell early.

Morne Morkel's ball took an outside edge off Kohli's bat to carry to wicketkeeper AB de Villiers. He fell for two and India slumped to 32/2.

Then it was skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's turn to walk. It's time he does something about his batting that has hit a new low in South Africa. He managed to score five before Morkel send him back on 45/3.

Post Dhoni, Morkel upped the ante and claimed Parthiv Patel too and India fell to 60/4. Parthiv could only score 38, still his innings was a lot better than those who failed to cross the single digit number.

Hashim Amla en route to his century. AP
However, South Africa's experienced pacer Dale Steyn was still wicket-less. He got an opportunity to open his account when Yuvraj Singh edged his ball to Duminy in the slips when batting on eight. India fell to 60/5. He followed that up with Suresh Raina's wicket.

The left-handed batsman scored a four off Steyn but the next ball was tinge higher than what Raina had expected. He played it on the up but failed to clear Morkel in the deep. India were 74/6 at the stage with practically no chance of a win.

Finally, Yusuf Pathan did what he is famous for - go after the bowlers without thinking of the outcome.

He along with Zaheer Khan batted on to forge a 100-run ninth wicket partnership that highlighted the Indian innings that came to an end on 234 in the 41st over.

Zaheer, who supported Pathan in his endeavour scored a useful 24.

SA innings

Earlier, Hashim Amla became the first batsman to score a century in this ODI series even as the rain gods tried to spoil his concentration.

South Africa were batting on 226/3 in 42 overs against India when showers pushed the covers on.

Post the rains, which lasted for more than an hour, India scalped six wickets in quick succession to reduce the hosts to 250/9 in 46 overs. But Amla carried his bat through the innings to remain unbeaten on 116. The effort earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.

As is the norm in rain-reduced matches, the teams batting second get a revised score with the Duckworth Lewis method coming into the picture.

In this case too the D/L method was applied and the revised score for India was 268 in 46 overs.

Put in after India won the toss, Amla batted with determination scoring an unbeaten 116. On the way he forged two partnerships even as the India bowlers found hard to contain the Protea charge.

South Africa' Morne van Wyk en route to his 56 in Centurion on Sunday. AP
First Amla put on 97 runs for the second wicket with Morne van Wyk and then got busy with another long innings with Jean-Paul Duminy.

Amla and Duminy had put on 102 for the fourth wicket before Munaf Patel scalped Duminy caught and bowled on 35 after the match resumed.

From there on the India pacers got busy counting their victims. Zaheer Khan ended up with two while Munaf claimed three wickets.

In the morning, Protea skipper Graeme Smith failed to read a Zaheer Khan ball and departed early. Pitched on the off, the ball took a strong edge off his bat and Yusuf Pathan did the rest in the slips cordon. He fell for 7 as the hosts went one down with 16 runs on board.

However, India bowlers failed to work on the advantage as Hashim Amla and Morne van Wyk batted on to push the score to 113.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

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Dhobi ghat: MC's dream project flops

CHANDIGARH: Launched in 2007, the much-publicized pilot project of "modern dhobi ghat" was started in Sector 15 to facilitate the area residents and a large number of students staying as the paying guests (PGs) but the project was abruptly closed in 2008. This ambitious project of Chandigarh municipal corporation ran into rough weather because of the non-payment of electricity bills. Later on, it was closed and with it ended MC's plan of more such 'dhobi ghats' in other sectors.

Expressing her concern over her dream project's failure, councillor Harjinder Kaur stated that the civic body mayors could not take forward the project the way it should have been expanded. "MC authorities had even decided to go ahead with the modernization and upgradation of three more 'dhobi ghats' at a cost of Rs 105 lakh. But the proposal was shelved after Sector 15-D laundry mart was closed due to a dispute between the washermen and the MC authorities on water and electricity bill payment," she said.

Senior nominated councillor AP Sanwaria said, "This was a fantastic move to start a modern 'dhobi ghat' for the benefit of students and PGs in and around Sector 15. For one-and-half-a-year, it ran smoothly but later troubles starting pouring in. There ensued a difference of opinion between the 'dhobi ghat' society and corporation officials. As it failed to reach an agreement then, the UT electricity department disconnected the supply and the it was closed."

Another nominated councillor MPS Chawla had different take on the issue. "First of all, the municipal corporation should not have run this project on its own. They should have given it to a private sector company and have given them subsidy as well to run this people-friendly project in a smooth manner."

Area councillor and former city mayor Anu Chatrath said, "Earlier, the modern 'dhobi ghat' in Sector 15 was closed due to dispute over electricity bills between the dhobi association members and the corporation officials. But now, it has stared functioning. Another dhobi ghat is coming up in Sector 7."


Sikhs' bravery in world wars

AMRITSAR: To remember the forgotten Sikh soldiers and make the world aware of their heroic deeds in 'Sikhi Saroop' (complete Sikh appearance), Birmingham-based film-maker Jay Singh Sohal officially released his documentary movie 'Sikhs at War' on the net on Thursday.

The film recalls the forgotten Indian Sikhs who had fought the world wars for the British Empire in the name of king and country they had never seen.

Earlier, the movie was screened in the British Parliament in December.

More than 1,00,000 Sikhs had participated in these wars. Sikhs comprised 20% of the British Indian army in action, despite being only 2% of the Indian population.

Fighting on all fronts in Europe, Turkey and Africa, miles away from their homeland, the Sikhs displayed immense bravery and courage.

Of the 22 Military Crosses awarded for conspicuous gallantry to Indians, 14 were to Sikhs. Out of those, who had left the lush fields of Punjab, thousands did not return.

As many as 83,005 Sikh soldiers were killed during both the world wars and more than 1,09,045 were wounded.

Sohal said launch of the movie in the British parliament was a momentous occasion and expressed gratitude towards the British attorney general, Dominic Grieve, for his support to the Sikh community.

''For a senior government official to pay such a tribute is a sign of how important the Sikh contribution has
historically been and how vital this vibrant community still is in all walks of British life,'' he said.

The film narrates Sikhs' story for the first time by following a young teenager retracing his great grandfather's footsteps in the trenches of Flanders.

Jaspal Singh, 15, was inspired by his forefather's heroic action during the wars to maintain his own Sikh identity (with uncut hair and turban) despite being bullied.

''From his hometown of Coventry to Ypres and Neuve Chapelle, Jaspal discovers the important role that the Sikh soldiers had played in stopping the German advance towards Europe,'' said Hardeep Singh, who is also attached with the movie crew.


SA beat India by 48 runs (D/L method)

 South Africa beat India by 48 runs (D/L method) in the rain-reduced fourth ODI at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth on Friday. SCORE

India were batting 137/6 in the 31st over with Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh at the crease when rain halted play.
 South Africa's Jean-Paul Duminy en route to his unbeaten 71 against India. AP
The game resumed only to end within minutes as rain again stopped play - this time for ever as India score read 142 for 6 in 32.5 overs. Virat Kohli (87) and Harbhajan Singh (3) remained unbeaten.

Earlier, the duo got busy chipping away from the 266-run target even as the South Africa pacers were busy tightening the noose around India.

First South Africa pacer Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who has been in good from throughout the series struck early to claim both openers Rohit Sharma and Pathiv Patel. India were 32/2 post Pathiv's dismissal.

New man Yuvraj Singh had only stayed in the middle for twenty minutes before offie Johan Botha scalped him.

He followed the unwritten rule - if you don't understand which way the ball is turning just sweep it. But the sweep proved costly, the timing was entirely wrong and the ball took the aerial route only to come down at skipper Graeme Smith's throat. He fell for 12 and India to 49/3.

Then Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli formed a 64-run partnership for the fourth wicket before Raina fell to left-arm spinner Robin Peterson on 20. India were 112/4 at the stage.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2) dropped by for a visit before Peterson thought he looked better on the benches. And India slumped to 123/5.

In came Yusuf Pathan, famous for his heavy heaves, and up went India's hopes only to crash land with a big thud.

A fatal edge off paceman Morne Morkel and Pathan was walking back on 2 with India score reading a poor 128/6.

Finally Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh decided to do the unthinkable before rain and Messrs Duckworth and Lewis dampened their spirits.

Earlier, the hosts treated their Indian visitors to some fine stitching exercise with Jean-Paul Duminy and Johan Botha showcasing their craftsmanship with the bat.

India bowlers were left awestruck as the duo put 70 runs on board for the sixth wicket. The end result was a fine 265/7 in 50 overs.

India didn't fall far behind. They too displayed their wares. In fact the South Africa total could have stretched on had India not used the scissors at the right time.

South Africa opener Hashim Amla en route to his 64. AP
Four quick wickets and South Africa were reeling on 118/5. The figure in the runs column could have been even lesser had opener Hashim Amla not posted 64 before being run out.

Yuvraj Singh, who finished with three wickets in the bag, started the snipping job with Morne van Wyk's dismissal on 15. Wyk departed edging an away moving ball to Virat Kohli in the slips.

At the stage the hosts were batting on 106 - not a bad figure considering that they had lost just one wicket (Graeme Smith) before.

Amidst all this cutting and snipping, Amla decided to display his running skills. But he was too greedy and paid heavily for it, falling short on the second run and South Africa fell to 111/3. Still his 64 proved to the central piece in South Africa's design.

AB de Villiers showed how good he is at marching. He marched back on 3 with Yuvraj claiming his wicket and the Protea score was 115/4.

Young Faf du Plessis knew he was good at running and he has proved it before with a half-ton in the last ODI. But today he ran out of steam and got out run out on 1. By now the hosts had slumped to 118/5.

But Duminy with his unbeaten on 71 and Botha, who scored 44 before being sent back by Yuvraj, turned out to be their team lifeguards. Duminy earned a Man-of-the-Match award for his efforts.

With this win, South Africa have levelled the series 2-2 against India. The two now meet on Sunday for the final ODI in Centurion.


Rath first serving Lt-Gen to be court-martialled

NEW DELHI: The court martial against Lt-General P K Rath, one of the four generals indicted in the Sukna land scam, has found him guilty on three counts in the infamous case which even cast a dark shadow on then Army chief General Deepak Kapoor.

The court martial in Shillong, headed by Lt-Gen I J Singh and consisting of six other Lt-Gens, will pronounce the sentence against Lt-Gen Rath on Saturday or Sunday, which will then have to be ``confirmed`` by Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command as well as Army HQ in New Delhi.

Depending on the gravity of the charges, a court martial can impose sentences ranging from loss of seniority to even imprisonment and being ``cashiered`` from service, which entails loss of rank, decorations and all retirement benefits.

This is the first time a serving three-star general has been court-martialled in the history of Indian armed forces. While a few other Lt-Gen rank officers have been indicted in ration and other scams, none of the courts martial could actually commence before they retired.

Lt-Gen Rath, incidentally, was all set to take over as the new Army deputy chief (information systems and training) in November 2009 after commanding the crucial 33 Corps based in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, under which the Sukna military station comes, when the case exploded in Army`s face. Since then, the Adarsh and Kandivali-Malad land scams have also rocked the armed forces.

The seniormost of the four indicted generals, Lt-Gen Avadhesh Prakash, who was Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor`s close aide as military secretary and later retired in January 2010, will be the other officer to undergo a court-martial now.

Lt-Gens Prakash and Rath were charged with conspiring to aid the transfer of the 71-acre Chumta tea estate adjacent to Sukna military station to real estate developer Dilip Agarwal on the pretext of opening an educational institute affiliated to the Ajmer-based Mayo College, in complete disregard of all security and other norms.

With the conspiracy being detected before it could be executed, it was found that Agarwal was Lt-Gen Prakash`s family friend and the military secretary ``influenced`` Lt-Gen Rath to favour the realtor`s ``vested agenda``. Lt-Gen Rath, said the inquiry report, ``fast-tracked all actions`` to favour Agarwal ``by affirmative endorsements``.

The court martial held Lt-Gen Rath guilty for issuing the `No Objection Certificate`, signing of the MoU with Geetanjali Trust for construction of the educational institute and failing to inform the Eastern Command about the proposed agreement.

``We will wait for the final outcome before deciding what to do next. Lt-Gen Rath has been found guilty only of procedural lapses. He has been cleared of the four more serious charges of intent to defraud and others,`` defence counsel S S Pandey told TOI.

The other two generals, Lt-Gen Ramesh Halgali and Major-Gen P C Sen, and four other officers named in the case only faced administrative action for failing to do proper ``staff work`` in the chain of command.

While Maj-Gen Sen retired last year, Lt-Gen Halgali has since been rehabilitated by present Army chief Gen V K Singh and is currently the director-general of military training at Army HQ.

The case, of course, also led to an unseemly rift in the top Army brass. Gen Singh, who was the then Eastern Army commander and took over as the Army chief in April 2010, had locked horns with Gen Kapoor, who was perceived to be dragging his feet in the case.

Defence minister A K Antony, in fact, had to himself step in to overrule Gen Kapoor`s decision to only take ``administrative action`` against Lt-Gen Prakash, rather than the harsher ``disciplinary action`` in the shape of a court martial.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Corrupt public servants may face summary dismissal

NEW DELHI: The Centre is mulling summary dismissal of public servants chargesheeted for corruption.

The move will ensure that government will not have to wait for long-drawn court battle to sack officials found guilty of corruption. But it is to be seen if such a provision will extend to politicians who are classified as "public servants" in the anti-graft law.

A GoM on tackling corruption will take a call on the issue while hammering out an action plan to plug graft and fast-track punishment, as announced by Congress Sonia Gandhi. Also on the GoM agenda is Lok Pal bill, state funding of elections and relevance of government sanction for registering a Preliminary Enquiry against joint secretaries and above.

There are doubts that the provision for summary sacking via "constitutional amendment" to Article 311 can run afoul of statutory guarantees and invite legal challenge on grounds of miscarriage of justice. The government has proposed an independent advisory board to vet chargesheets and evidence to decide if a case is fit for summary axing. "The safety filter is to shield the amendment from being ultra vires," a source said.

The Centre is considering compulsory seizure of assets of corrupt officials by making provisions in the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

The GoM will decide if the much-lauded legislation of Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on confiscation of assets is better than the provisions under Public Money Laundering Act 2002. It is a tricky issue. UPA-1 decided against giving investigating agencies the autonomy to move court for seizure of assets. A GoM mulling changes to PCA felt agencies could misuse such power.

The government's sole authority on assets seizure is a hurdle in cracking down on ill-gotten assets. The agencies, after government nod, move court under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 1944 to seize assets, which is way milder than compulsory seizure in corruption cases.

GoM will take a hard look at Madhav Menon committee's report on CrPC reforms to fasttrack graft trials. The Centre has come out against inserting in PCA a time limit for corruption trials, arguing "it will not help without systemic changes".

The Centre has suggested a committee to vet cases pending over 10 years — found to be 2,400 — and suggest ways for their speedy disposal.

Anti-graft camp is keen on fast-tracking trials as delays help the accused get away. Around 113 CBI cases are awaiting Centre's sanction for prosecution. The pendency in disciplinary action and vigilance probe is on the higher side.

Source :-

Mobile number portability launched by PM.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday launched the nationwide Mobile Number Portability at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, a move that would empower mobile subscribers to change their operator while retaining their mobile number and force telecom operators to improve their services.

If you are unhappy with your service provider's tariff plan, call drops or signal strength, but have tolerated it all just because you want to retain your number, you don't have to wait much longer now.

How can you take advantage of Number Portability?

- Subscribers can contact the new service provider they want to opt and get customer acquisition form and porting form from them. - If you fulfil the eligibility norms, you will then obtain a 'unique porting code' by sending an SMS from the mobile number you want to port to 1900 with text 'PORT' followed by your 10 digit mobile number you want to port. - Then provide duly filled porting and customer acquisition form along with requisite documentary proof to the service provider. - Post paid subscribers are also expected to submit a copy of their last bill along with the form.- You have the option of withdrawing your porting request within 24 hours of applying.- You will be charged only Rs 19 for using this service.

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Study says India most vulnerable to tiger skin, parts trade

NAGPUR: From 40,000 tigers hundred years ago, today India is down to just 1,411. No wonder. Latest study by Traffic International, the wildlife trade network in 11 of the 13 tiger range countries, reveals that India is most vulnerable when it comes to tiger skin and body parts trade.

The study 'Reduced to skin and bones', an analysis of tiger seizures from 11 tiger range countries in a decade (2000-2010), reveals that in addition to habitat loss and degradation, human encroachment, excessive poaching of key prey species and illegal trade in tiger parts were greatly contributing to the rapid decline of tigers in the wild.

"The study included all seizure information available from January 2000 to April 30, 2010. No data were recorded from Cambodia and Bhutan and hence these countries were omitted," said Samir Sinha, head, Traffic India. A total of 481 seizures were analysed, suggesting a minimum of 1,069 (annual average 104.2) and maximum of 1,220 (annual average 118.9) tigers killed for their parts and derivatives. The vast majority of these seizures took place in India (276), followed by China (40), Nepal (39), Indonesia (36) and Vietnam (28).

"Owing to the illicit nature of the trade, it must be assumed that the 1069-1220 tigers implicated in this analysis are fewer than the actual number of tigers killed and their parts trafficked around the world," the study says. Parts seized in tiger range countries were most commonly in the form of skins (480), bones and skeletons (1253.53 kg), dead individuals (197) and claws (1,313).

Source :-

Will Kolkata's Prince be Kochi king?

KOLKATA: Eleven days after the auctioneer brought down his hammer for the last time at IPL players' auction in Bangalore, a ray of hope has emerged for Sourav Ganguly, who was ignored by all the 10 franchises.

Team Kochi, which will be making its IPL debut in the ensuing T20 event, have belatedly realised their folly and are keen to take Ganguly on board. The Kochi management, who clearly showed no aptitude for team composition and failed to net a single capped Indian batsman other than VVS Laxman, have approached the Governing Council to allow them to sign the former India captain. However, they can do so only if the other nine franchises raise no objection to this out-of-auction deal.

The BCCI, on its part, has no objection. "If the franchises have no objection, why should we stand in any player's way to play in the IPL? However, there is no question of bending the rule or making an exception," said a Governing Council member.

IPL rules state that capped players put up for auction, can only be bought through an open bidding process. Ganguly, along with Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer and Punjab pacer VRV Singh were the only three Indian players to remain unsold at the end of the two-day auction.

The onus is clearly now on Kochi bosses to convince the other franchises to let them take Ganguly on board. Having rejected the southpaw outright at the auction, it is hard to fathom why the other franchises would object to Kochi hiring Ganguly - unless, of course, they are bent upon keeping Dada away from IPL.

If the Kochi deal works out, Sourav can look forward to joining forces with his old KKR mates Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge and Owais Shah and one-time Sri Lankan foes of Mahela Jayawardene and Muttiah Muralitharan.

For the moment, though, Ganguly is keeping his fingers crossed.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eight Indian MFs in World's 25 best funds in a decade

Eight domestic equity mutual fund schemes, including SBI Magnum Contra , HDFC Equity and Reliance Growth , are among the 25 best-performing open-ended equity funds in the world of the last decade, according to investment research firm Morningstar. These funds benefited from the 10-fold growth in total value of India's stock markets, led by a robust performance of one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

The eight funds returned 31% to 38% on a compounded basis in the past decade. The Sensex returned 17.8% on a compounded basis during the 10 years. Russia's RTS fetched 28.6% and Indonesia's JSX Composite gave 24.4% returns during the period.

Twelve equity mutual fund schemes from India figure among the 25 best-performing open-ended equity funds in the world over 15 years, Morningstar said in a note.

"Russian and Indonesian stock markets have performed better than ours in the last 10 and 15 years, but Indian equity funds crowd the list because the other countries did not have enough funds to capture those returns," said Dhruva Raj Chatterji, senior research analyst, Morningstar India.

India's total stock market capitalisation grew to over $1.6 trillion in December 2010 from $148 billion early last decade.

But no Indian fund made it to the list of best performing funds in the last five years or in 2010. China-focussed funds swamped the list for the top-25 performers during the last five years.

The Sensex fetched 16.9% returns in the five years to December 2010 and 17.4% in 2010. China's Shanghai composite rose 19.3% in the five years ending December 2010; in 2010 it had fallen 14.3% .

The worst performing market in 2010 within Asia was China, whose benchmark Shanghai Composite index closed in the red, falling by more than 14% after registering an 80% gain in 2009, the Morningstar note said.

"Concerns over monetary tightening, measures taken by the government to curb assets bubbles, including in the real estate market, and capital diversion to the huge number of IPOs weighed down on the performance of the benchmark index. This was despite the country's economy continuing to soar during the year," it said

Cabinet rejig with eye on polls

NEW DELHI: Congress seized the reshuffle window to rev up its election machine in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala by broadbasing participation from these states in the Union ministry.

The elevation of Salman Khurshid and Sriprakash Jaiswal and induction of Beni Prasad Verma as steel minister have upped the share of UP in the Cabinet to put it on a par with its political heft. (Read: PM inducts 3 new ministers, drops none )

K V Thomas's surprise elevation as food and consumer affairs minister and the filling of Shashi Tharoor's slot is another leg-up for the party in Kerala which takes on the Left Front in May polls. Giving temporary charge of civil aviation to Vyalar Ravi and making K C Venugopal junior minister for power fits the 'K C Venugopal' pattern.

Sources said the focus on short-term political battles in the reshuffle, which was expected to be a performance appraisal of UPA-2, underlined the importance of the coming polls in the party matrix.

Congress is banking heavily on victories in Kerala and Assam where it is the main player to turn the tide after the negativity of scams.

Victories on ally turfs such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu would supplement party strategy. UP polls would also decide the fate of the party's revival attempt in the 80-seat state and give a peep into the possibilities of 2014 Lok Sabha battle.

The rejig seeks to broadbase Congress's UP outreach. A position to Verma can renew the party's appeal among OBCs. Verma's entry in the power echelons is a snub to Samajwadi Party, his home before the high-voltage rebellion against Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2007.

Verma's gain compounds Mulayam's woes because he too is eyeing a power perch at the Centre to rival the clout of an imperious Mayawati. His PMO visit on Monday evening had set tongues wagging in the Congress camp.

A cabinet rank for Khurshid aims to neutralise SP's bid to dent Congress among Muslims. SP's Azam Khan has accused Congress of denying the community its due share in power with only Kashmir's Congress among Muslimshaving Cabinet status. Khurshid's elevation sets right the balance.

Congress has lent weight of key portfolios to Kerala leaders to add to its momentum in the Left-held state. Autonomous charge of food and consumer affairs to Thomas and civil aviation to Ravi are steps in that direction.

The criticality of Kerala in Congress matrix stems from the prospect of double whammy for Left in Bengal and Kerala. A defeat-induced disarray in Left camp can soften the Red resistance in Delhi which will be big relief for the cornered Congress.

The political subtext of the rejig in UP follows a realisation in Congress that the waning of post-2009 mood after scams and price rise will test its bare cupboard of leaders and appeal among caste groups. Though Rahul Gandhi leads a campaign among dalits who are loyal to Mayawati, the key to party success in the state lies with Muslims, OBCs and upper castes.

Also read: PM will now keep a sharper eye on key economic ministries


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Delhi: Korean tourists robbed, abducted boy killed

Two foreigners thought they had been snatched, a kidnapped boy was found dead while another boy was abducted though he was rescued six hours later. Welcome to the 'Kidnap Capital'. The two South Korean women still don't believe they are alive to tell the tale. Lee Jung Yi (40) and daughter Hardason (22) went through hell after arriving in New Delhi on Tuesday night when a man, to their horror, got into their taxi, held a gun to them and drove off. They thought they had been abducted and braced for the worst.

 The Koreans who were robbed
The man asked the driver to stop the car in an orchard at a deserted patch on the Delhi-Meerut bypass road, where he and three others tailing the car robbed the motherdaughter of their cash. The assailants fled without harming them. Worst could have happened to them. They might have been murdered or raped, like Dawn Emilie Griggs. In 2004, the 59- year- old Australian was murdered outside the city airport within hours of her arrival by the driver of the taxi she had hired.
After arriving at the city airport at 3.15am on Tuesday, Lee Jung and Hardason set off for Haridwar in a taxi. Hardason is pursuing BA in yoga from Dev Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, run by Shanti Niketan Kunj in Hardwar. Lee Jung is doing her masters in yoga from the same university.

At 4.15am near the Sardana intersection on the Delhi- Meerut bypass road, a car blocked their way. One of its four occupants came out and held a pistol to Lee Jung and Hardason.

Forcing his way into their taxi, he asked the driver to drive towards Pawali Khas village. His accomplices, meanwhile, tailed the Koreans' cab. At 4.30am, they stopped inside a mango orchard.

"The assailants asked us to hand over whatever we had. They took away Rs 10,000 and some South Korean currency notes kept in our bag," Lee Jung said. " They also snatched Rs 500 from the driver, his mobile phone and the car keys. Then, they told us to open our bags and asked what was inside.

We told them there were clothes and food." The assailants then fled. The four men, however, did not touch their laptops, cellphones and a camera.

Shaken, Lee Jung called up people at Shanti Niketan Kunj, who called up the principal of an institute in Meerut and asked him to rush to their help.

"I got a call at 5.15am. I immediately left for the location. I found the foreigners in the orchard. I then called the police," R. C. Savita Singh, principal of Venkateswara Insitute, said.

In another incident, a nine- year- old boy was kidnapped and murdered allegedly by a distant relative in Meerut after his father refused to pay Rs 40,000 in ransom. Chetan was kidnapped from outside his house in east Delhi's Kalyanpuri on January 2.

The police couldn't save Chetan but succeeded to rescue a 12-year-old boy who was allegedly kidnapped by 21-year-old Shabbir Ali from Bhajanpura on Monday. The police rescued the boy, Babar Ali, from a house in the same colony where the accused was residing. Shabbir allegedly kidnapped the boy to pay off debts.

Fearing action, 'wife-beater' diplomat seeks patch-up

LONDON: Fearing administrative action and possible loss of job, the Indian diplomat in London docked for domestic violence told TOI on Tuesday he wants to patch-up with his wife.

Anil Verma, the third-ranking official in the high commission, said, "I am willing to work it out. I want to patch up." He said he is texting messages to his wife Paromita Verma ever since she left their London home without telling him, but she isn't responding. The two had had a fight early in December and he allegedly hit her, causing a nose-bleed. Verma, an IAS officer, has been recalled by the Indian government and is expected to report to New Delhi this weekend.

"The high commission has been informed that a decision has been taken by the government to transfer Mr Anil Verma and his family to India at the earliest," said a high commission spokesman, and added, somewhat cryptically, "The high commission further sought assistance of UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to facilitate their early return."

This remark puts the onus on the FCO to ensure that not only Verma, but his wife, children and other dependents (stepson, mother-in-law and maid), in UK on diplomatic passports, return to India concurrently.

Paromita Verma has applied to the British government for "leave of indefinite stay" in the UK on grounds that her life would be in danger if she is sent to India. However, if Paromita — Verma is her second husband — doesn't return to India with him, she is likely to lose her diplomatic passport and not be issued an ordinary passport. She will then become stateless unless British authorities come to her rescue.

Paromita's employment with the Indian Railways — from where she in on two-year study leave — could also be in jeopardy. She is said to visit Chiltern Railways one or twice a month as part of her studies.

The FCO has not responded to the high commission and there is no indication which way the British home ministry will go on Paromita's representation.

After the police got involved, the FCO last month wrote to the high commission asking it to either waive Verma's diplomatic immunity or withdraw the Verma family from UK.

Govt feels the heat on black money haul

Under pressure from Supreme Court, the govt is signing agreements with 22 tax havens to dig out unaccounted wealth.

Name Swiss bank account holders: BJP
Swiss money: 'Indian' link revealed?
CIC asks for affidavit on Swiss accounts
Secret Swiss bank accounts revealed

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Damien Wright joins Worcestershire

Worcestershire have signed Victorian allrounder Damien Wright for the early part of the 2011 season. Wright will arrive in time for the first home Championship match against Yorkshire on 8th April.

Wright is currently in the middle of the Australian season and has taken 19 wickets at 24.10 in the Sheffield Shield. His exploits with that bat have been less impressive, with 59 runs at 11.80.

Wright played for Somerset in the early part of last season and joins a Worcestershire side that was promoted from Division Two after a successful season in 2010.

Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire's director of cricket, thinks Wright's bowling will be well suited to the challenges of moving up a level. "Damien is an ideal bowler for early season conditions in England and his experience and quality will be a huge bonus in getting a good start to what will be a very challenging year in Division One," said Rhodes.

"His hard working no nonsense style of cricket will be terrific for our dressing room and to gain his signature in front of other county interest is a boost for our players, staff and supporters."

Wright is similarly excited about his move and feels he has something to offer both on and off the field at New Road. "I can't wait to arrive at Worcester in April," he said.

"I have loved every minute of my previous experiences in county cricket and the opportunity to play at New Road is an exciting one. Worcestershire have a group of talented young bowlers that I look forward to playing alongside and also working with off the field as well."

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