Monday, February 28, 2011

I-T limit raised to Rs 1.8 lakh; 60-yr-olds are now seniors

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today proposed to raise the income tax exemption limit for general tax payers to Rs 1.80 lakh per annum from Rs 1.60 lakh at present and introduced a high new tax slab for senior citizens of 80 years and above.
Unveiling the Budget proposals for 2011-12 in the Lok Sabha, he also proposed to reduce the age limit for consideration as senior citizens from 65 years to 60.
Senior citizens will get tax exemption for income up to Rs 2.5 lakh, higher from Rs 2.4 lakh now.

As per the announcement, the increase in the income tax exemption limit for general tax payers (excluding women and senior citizens) to Rs 1.8 lakh per annum would translate into a benefit of Rs 2,000 for all tax payers.

At present, the general tax payers earning more than Rs 1.6 lakhs per annum are required to pay income tax.

Introducing a new tax slab for very senior citizens (80 years and above), Mukherjee said, they will not have to pay any tax for annual income up to Rs 5 lakh.


India's weakness exposed when not holding a bat

(Reuters) - India snatched a thrilling tie against England on Sunday but their tag as World Cupfavourites is starting to face increasing scrutiny as the humdinger exposed serious chinks in their armoury when they are not batting.
India's batting line-up is arguably the best on paper and, more importantly, in top form as they notched up scores in excess of 300 in their first two games of the tournament.

But take away the bat, and it is a whole different story.

While it may sound harsh, it was more a case where England threw the match away rather than India grabbing a point in the run-feast which ended with a dramatic tie off the last ball in Bangalore -- leaving both teams stranded on 338 runs.

The featherbed of a batting pitch meant that bowlers on either side were always going to suffer.

But Tim Bresnan's career-best haul of five for 48 for England highlighted the lack of bite the Indian bowlers had in their own backyard.

If not for India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who claimed three quick wickets in England's batting powerplay to wrest the initiative back, the visitors would have cruised to victory despite chasing a daunting 339 victory target.

Munaf Patel, who partnered Zaheer with the new ball, spinners Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla posed no threat to the English batsmen, who put up partnerships of 68, 43 and 170 for the first three wickets to almost take their side home.

For the second straight match, the experienced Indian bowling put up an insipid performance. They conceded 283 runs against Bangladesh, failing to bowl out a side filled with average batsmen just finding their way in world cricket.

It is not that India have a lot to choose from with the bench strength consisting of the wayward Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, the injury-prone Ashish Nehra and the inexperienced Ravichandran Ashwin.

While Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni chose to credit the opposition's batting and put some of the blame on the pitch, he admitted that a lack of choices limited his bowling attack.

"You have to manage the resources. It's not that the bowlers are not good. Maybe this was a game where the conditions didn't really suit them," Dhoni said.


"At times when you play international cricket, the opposition team also plays well and I think it was an example where the England team batted really well."

LIC exam paper leaked; one arrested, four candidates in dock

NEW DELHI: The question paper of an all-India examination for the post of Assistant Administrative Officer of LIC was today leaked in the city ahead of the test following which police arrested a youth who allegedly sold the papers for Rs five lakh each. 
Four candidates, who allegedly bought the question papers for the test for Life Insurance Corporation's office cadre post from one Pawan Kumar, a 33-year-old Geography graduate from Delhi University, are also facing arrest, police said. 

Terming the incident as unfortunate, Anju Banerjee, Chairman and Managing Director of Educational Consultants India Limited (EDCIL), which is conducting the exams for LIC, said they will decide on whether to cancel the tests after police investigations are over. 

The incident came to light after Delhi Police's crime branch got hold of the copies of two sets of question papers for both morning and afternoon sessions last evening and arrested Kumar from Naraina where a raid was conducted. 

The test is being conducted in two sessions in 160 centres across the country and 1.65 lakh candidates are appearing for the test. In Delhi, there are 16 centres. 

"The question papers have been leaked. We got the copies of the question papers and when we tallied these copies with the original question paper, they were found to be the same," Ashok Chand, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime), told reporters here. 

Chand said they went to three centres in Delhi and one in Chandigarh to crosscheck whether the question papers were genuine. The candidates who allegedly benefitted by the leakage have been identified as Inderjit, Rahul Kumar, Praveen and Dharamvir. 

"Pawan had appeared for Civil Services examination earlier but failed. He is in the trade since 2005. He was earlier arrested for impersonation in Delhi Pre-Medical Entrance Test in 2005," he said. 

Three suspected candidates were to appear for the test in Delhi while one was to appear in Chandigarh. "We recovered the question papers and found that they tallied with the original ones. The candidates are being interrogated. They are likely to be arrested soon," Chand said. 

The candidates in Delhi were to appear for the test in three Kendriya Vidyalayas in Andrews Ganj, R K Puram and Jankapuri, he said. 

Investigators are now trying to locate a man who gave the papers to Kumar for selling. "He is one of the modules of the gang," Chand said. 

An LIC spokesperson said the entire examination process is being conducted by EDCIL, a public sector company, under the Human Resources Development Ministry. 

"This contract has been given to EDCIL through an open tendering process. We have sought a detailed report from EDCIL," the spokesperson said.

World Cup: India-England thriller ends in a tie

BANGALORE: This was a game both India and England deserved to lose but in the end it was a tie. If the Indians seemed listless while defending a more than healthy 338, the English after being in a position to spoil the Indian party on a pitch on which the expected demons did not surface, suddenly seemed to have invoked the devil himself. In the end what transpired was the fourth ever tie in the history of the World Cup. 

The match swayed like a pendulum. The Indian total of 338, set up by a record fifth World Cup ton from Sachin Tendulkar, looked good enough at the break, more so as the hosts had gone in with two spinners. England captain Andrew Strauss had different ideas as he set about all but obfuscating Tendulkar's knock with his maiden World Cup ton. 

Then came the batting Powerplay. Suddenly from an impregnable 280/2 from 43 overs, when Strauss (158, 145b, 18x4, 1x6) and Bell (69, 71b, 4x4, 1x6) were going strong with a 170-run stand off 156 balls, things turned upside down. Zaheer Khan, hit around in his first two spells and held back by Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the Powerplay, got two in two, sending back Bell and Strauss to open up the game again. 

Suddenly the Indians were pumped up, as the English middle and late order collapsed. But then two sixes, one each by Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan, both off Piyush Chawla's final over, the penultimate one of the innings, again changed the game. Fifteen had come from that over leaving 14 required from the last to be bowled by Munaf Patel. With number 10 Ajmal Shazad on strike, the match looked to be in India's grasp, but the drama wasn't over by any means. A solid six and some hurriedly run singles brought the equation to two runs off the ball. They got one and the Bangalore crowd, some of whom had left early seeing India's chances all but gone, got what they expected least. A tie! 
Before that, the Indians had got most things right. Having decided to play with two spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Chawla, it was important that Dhoni won the toss and allowed his spinners the second use of the pitch. That part went along the script as did the batting, with the top-order firing for the second match in succession. It was even better that the middle-order too got a chance to show their wares and they didn't do too badly either. 

Only Tim Bresnan stood up and got noticed among English bowlers. Having dismissed the fortuitous as well as dangerous-looking Sehwag off his fifth ball, Bresnan came back at the death, to keep the Indians from running away to a total in excess of 350. His final analysis of 10-1-48-5 was true reflection of his showing on the afternoon. 

No other English bowler went under five an over, with James Anderson in real danger of going for twice that. Every Indian batsman got stuck into him. Tendulkar and Gambhir used his wayward line and length to full effect. That Tendulkar (120, 115b, 10x4, 5x6) picked boundaries even off his better deliveries, ensured that it was not to be Anderson's day. 

Once Sehwag (35, 26b, 6x4) had gone, poking at Bresnan for wicketkeeper Matt Prior to bring off a fine one-handed catch diving to his right, the right-left pair of Tendulkar and Gambhir (51, 61b, 5x4) took charge. Without looking in any sort of hurry, the master-blaster milked the bowlers before assaulting them. 

The innings wasn't just about Tendulkar and Gambhir though, even if their 134-run second wicket stand set it up. There was also Yuvraj Singh, rightly promoted ahead of Kohli seeing that it was the 30th over, and Dhoni, whose 25-ball 31 went almost unnoticed. Yuvraj (58, 50b, 9x4) wasn't at his fluent best but who knows this knock could well be the launching pad for more to come. 

Warne predicted it 8 hours ago 

Shane Warne was bang on target when before the start of the match he Tweeted saying "Looking forward to the game between India and England today. My prediction... a tie." And the cracker of a contest which saw 676 runs being scored did actually end up in a tie, making Warne's prediction come true.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Capacity addition failure haunts NTPC

The power ministry has asked NTPC Ltd to add 5,000 megawatt (MW) capacity annually from next year. For now, it seems like a pipe dream.

Also See | Keeping Pace (PDF)

That number is a tad less than the approximately 6,000MW it has added since fiscal 2008. In the past couple of years, the firm’s execution record has been poor. Take the 11th Plan (fiscal 2008-2012), during which NTPC was expected to add some 22,400MW. Even if it installs 5,000MW in the year to April 2012, it will have fallen some 50% short of its target.

Yet, for a company that enjoys regulated 15.5% return on equity (RoE), it is capacity addition that will make it more attractive for investors.

The delay in building new factories is roughing up its profits as well. For the quarter ended December, NTPC’s power generation grew by a measly 0.2% from a year ago. Grid problems and the parlous finances of state electricity boards, its main consumers, also meant that some of them could not take delivery of contracted power. As a result, energy units actually delivered rose 0.8%. However, revenue grew 20% from a year ago. This was due to a 23% rise in fuel costs (a pass through in the assured RoE model), due to a price hike by main supplier Coal India Ltd at the end of December 2009.

A rise in employee and other costs means that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization grew 10%. Higher taxes (moving to minimum alternate tax due to an increase in RoE) have also hit the profits and net profit grew 0.3% from a year ago. Shorn of some one-offs, such as prior period sales, the new tax norms and a change in depreciation policy, the adjusted profit after tax shows a growth of 11%, in line with estimates.

But that isn’t overly impressive. Many brokerages have cut down their earnings estimates for the next two years. That, coupled with the execution track record, has meant that investors are not very gung-ho about NTPC. For a stock that is considered a defensive bet, its returns mirror those of the Sensex since the beginning of this year. The numbers are more telling since the firm declared its results. Since then, NTPC has underperformed the benchmark index by 7.5%.

PPP, PML(N) part ways in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was expelled from the ruling coalition in Punjab on Friday after the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) shored up its government with the help of a breakaway faction of the PML (Quaid).

The break-up of the “blow-hot-blow-hot” relationship between the two main political parties of the country was announced by the PML (N) chief and former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and the reason cited was failure of the PPP to implement a bulk of the 10-point agenda presented by his party in January as a pre-condition for continuing with the ruling arrangement in Punjab.

The announcement came at the expiry of the 45-day deadline set by the PML (N) and after an eleventh-hour meeting between the leaderships of the two parties on Thursday. The PPP as always stressed the need to continue with the policy of reconciliation to ensure that the democratic set-up was not destabilised. This was reiterated after the break-up by federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Raza Rabbani when he was fielded by the PPP to provide a point-by-point response to the PML (N) charge of failure to implement the 10-point agenda.

Mr. Rabbani said his party would play the role of an “effective opposition” in Punjab. Maintaining that the PPP would not play the politics of the 1990s when political parties were busy destabilising democratically elected governments, he said his party would, however, hold the Punjab government accountable for its actions.

As to whether the break-up would impact the federal government, Mr. Rabbani was confident there would be no mid-term election and asserted the PPP-led ruling dispensation would complete its term. While the failure to implement the 10-point agenda is being cited as reason for the PML (N) to dump the PPP in Punjab, the primary reason is to create a distance with its principal political opponent in the country.

Ever since it decided to have a coalition with the PPP in Punjab and became part of the ruling alliance at the Centre before leaving it over the issue of reinstatement of the superior judiciary, the PML(N) has had to face ridicule for being a “friendly opposition party”.

With elections due in two years, pressure is mounting on the PML(N) leadership from its workers to distance itself from the PPP.

Police play spoilsport at Shahid’s birthday bash

Mumbai: Police played spoilsport at actor Shahid Kapoor’s 30th birthday bash on 25th February. The ‘Kaminey’ star who was celebrating his special day with close friends had to call off his bash abruptly after complaints were lodged by the local residents over loud music and noise that was being created at Olive club, a pub in Mumbai. 

The media was quick to reach the spot and the Police followed. The event organisers have been held responsible for not abiding by the rules set for late night parties and events. However, no one has been arrested.

But Sasha would not have wanted things to get so ugly on his big day, especially when his ladylove Priyanka Chopra was not by his side. But a sport that he is, Shahid was cool and composed even amidst the chaos. 

Nevertheless, all is well that ends well. Are we right Shahid?

Aus vs NZ: Convincing 7-wicket win for Aussies against Kiwis

Australia beat their trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand by seven wickets in a one-sided World Cup Group B match at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground in Nagpur on Friday. 
Chasing a partly 207, the Australians got off to a fine start with openers Shane Watson and Brad Haddin milking away the Kiwi bowlers. The duo batted on at ease even as the Kiwis tried hard to figure out a way to stop their charge.
Their bowling lacked the kill and the Aussies continued to pound away boundaries. Finally Kiwi pacer Hamish Bennett managed to break their partnership when the Aussie score was 133 runs. It was a slower ball that did the trick albeit a bit late. Haddin went for an aerial shot and ended up giving a catch to James Franklin at deep midwicket. Haddin scored 55.
With the partnership broken, the other opener Shane Watson too lost his rhythm and got out in the 20th over when the Aussie score was 136/2. He was cleaned bowled by Bennett on 62.
A few minutes later Aussie skipper Ricky Pointing too fell trying to play Tim Southee down the leg side. The ball was wide off the leg side and Ponting still touched it trying to play it towards the fine-leg boundary. But keeper Brendon McCullum had other plans, he collected the ball and even before Ponting could realise his error his bails were off. He scored 12 as the Australia score read 167/3.
Finally, Michael Clarke and Cameron White batted on to carry the Aussies to victory in the 34th over.
New Zealand innings
New Zealand posted a meagre 206 against Australia in their World Cup Group A match. The total could have been all the more dismal hadn't Nathan McCullum and skipper Daniel Vettori staged a late revival at death.
In the morning, Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting won the toss and decided to bowl under overcast conditions - a move aimed helping his pacemen excel. And that's what they did with Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson ripping the Kiwi batting apart.
Shaun Tait started the job rather early removing opener Brendon McCullum in the fourth over of the day.
However, it was more of McCullum's fault in the way he got out. He went for a big hit right away and Jason Krejza took a fine catch in the deep. He fell for 16 as New Zealand slumped to 20/1 in 3.4 overs.
Shortly after McCullum's dismissal, the other opener Martin Guptill too walked back with Shane Watson castling him on 40/2 in the 9th over. He scored 10.
But, that was just the beginning of the Aussie charge as Mitchell Johnson claimed two wickets in the space of two balls to push the Kiwis to the wall. Ryder fell for 25 while James Franklin hadn't even opened his account, when Johnson removed them. The New Zealand score at the stage was 66/4 in 13.5 overs.
Clearly the Aussies pacemen were at a party and Shaun Tait struck back to make sure he had more reason to cheer. After removing McCullum in early, he claimed seasoned batsman Scott Styris in the 15th over when the Kiwi total was 67/5. Poor Styris hadn't even opened his account.
Tait was far from satisfied and in his next over he struck again to get rid of Ross Taylor (7) with a fine yorker. Kiwis were reeling on 73/6.
Six wickets down and the pitch dry by then, the Kiwis finally managed to forge a small 48-run partnership with Nathan McCullum and Jamie How sticking together for 40 minutes.
The two used 12 overs and scored the rate of four runs an over helping their team cross the 100-run mark. But in the 29th over, leg-spinner Steve Smith decided to break their stand. He tossed the ball in the middle and removed How with an LBW decision. The Kiwis went for a decision review, but it proved to be unsuccessful as New Zealand slumped to 121/7.
Finally, Nathan McCullum decided to stage a comeback, but it was too late for the Kiwis as he along with skipper Daniel Vettori were the last recognised batsmen in their camp. Nathan carried on and even scored the team's highest individual total with 52 on board.
However, after staying at the crease for more than an hour a change in bowling foxed Nathan as he became Mitchell Johnson's third victim on 175/8 in the 42nd over. Once again the Kiwis decided to use the review and once again it proved unsuccessful.
Skipper Daniel Vettori too departed with Brett Lee claiming his wicket. He scored a resolute 44 helping the Kiwis cross 200-run mark.
Eventually New Zealand were all out for a partly 206 on the first ball of the 46th over with Shaun Tait (3-35) and Mitchell Johnson (4-33) claiming seven wicket between them.

India vs England: Going down memory lane

The very first game of the World Cup was played between India and England, back in 1975 at Lord's. Since then, this rivalry has grown into a fascinating duel, with India enjoying a upper hand in recent times. We look at four games between the two sides that are worth remembering for years to come.. 

When Freddie took off his shirt... 
The teams went into the final game with India leading 3-2. This match, at the Wankhede in Mumbai, provided the fitting climax as England eked out a thrilling five-run win to draw the series 3-3. England made 255 based on opener Marcus Trescothick's 95. They looked like making much more at 153-2, but collapsed, with Harbhajan Singhpicking up a five-for. Sourav Ganguly (80) led India's chase, but Andrew Flintoff (3-380 won it for England. To rub salt into India's wounds, Flintoff took off his shirt and ran around the ground with his teammates in jubilation. 
Feb 3, 2002 at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Brief scores: England 255 in 49.1 overs (M Trescothick 95, N Hussain 41, A Flintoff 40; Harbhajan 5-43) beat India 250 in 49.5 overs (S Ganguly 80; A Flintoff 3-38) by five runs. 

When Aleem Dar did India in 

It was the decider of the NatWest series, which had gone right down to the wire at 3-3 till that point. At Lord's, however, everything went wrong for India. England, expectedly, prepared a fast and bouncy wicket and bowled out India for 187. The game, unfortunately, was spoiled by Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar's folly in judging Sachin Tendulkarout caught behind off Flintoff when television replays showed that the ball had brushed the batsman's shoulder. 

Sept 8, 2007 at Lord's 

Brief Scores: India 187 in 47.3 overs (MS Dhoni 50; A Flintoff 3-45, A Mascarenhas 3-23) lost to England 188-3 in 36.2 overs (K Pietersen 71 not out, P Collingwood 64). 

The Lord at Lord's 

It was probably the second most impactful win for India after the 1983 World Cup triumph. The Natwest tri-series final looked like England's for the taking after Nasser Hussain & Co made 325 for five. With the top order in the hut, all hope looked lost at 146-5, before Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif scripted a sensational turnaround with a 121-run partnership. The most abiding memory though was Sourav Ganguly twirling his shirt on the Lord's balcony. 

July 13, 2002 at Lord's 

Brief scores: England 325-5 in 50 overs (M Trescothick 109, N Hussain 115; Z Khan 3-62) lost to India 326-8 in 49.3 overs (M Kaif 87, Yuvraj 69, S Ganguly 60, V Sehwag 45) by two wickets. 

The Nehra sixer 

In a must-win game for India, Ashish Nehra produced perhaps the best-ever spell delivered by an Indian fast bowler. Playing with a badly damaged knee, Nehra ran through the English batting line-up on a seaming Durban pitch. In between, the charged up pacer had a banana and threw up instantly! The other thing worth remembering from this game is Sachin Tendulkar's pulled six off seamer Andy Caddick.

World Cup: Bangladesh beat Ireland by 27 runs

MIRPUR: Bangladesh spinners, so ineffective against India, rediscovered their magical touch on Friday to fashion an exciting 27-run win over Ireland in a low-scoring Group B match of the 2011 World Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here. 

It was a torturous win for Bangladesh, who were bowled out for a meagre 205 after frittering away a blistering start, but it kept the co-hosts firmly in contention for a berth in the knock-out stage. 
Ireland batsmen, who had no inkling about how to play the play the turning ball, were easy pickings for wily Bangla spinners, who bundled them out for 178 in 45 overs with some help from pacer Shafiul Islam, who passed a fitness test in the morning. Shafiul, who grabbed three of the last four Ireland wickets, finished with figures of 4/21. 

Ironically, it was part-timer Mohammad Ashraful's innocuous off-spin that turned the match Bangladesh's way after frontline spinners Abdur Razzak, skipper Shakib Al Hasan made the initial breakthroughs. Playing in place of Mahmudullah, Ashraful, who had earlier played a horrendous shot to get out cheaply, made amends by dismissing the experienced duo of Ed Joyce (16) and Andrew White (10), fooling both with a clever variation of pace and trajectory. 

Ireland's hopes of sneaking an improbable win under the lights rested on the O'Brien brothers, Niall and Kevin. While Niall, looked more compact of the two, Kevin showed he had the big shots. They contributed 38 and 37, respectively, but threw away their wickets after having played themselves in. 

Joyce's soft dismissal to Ashraful showed why he failed to win an England Test cap and skipper William Porterfield's unshakable faith in gangly pacer Boyd Rankin was hard to fathom, particularly as he struggled with both length and direction right through the Bangladesh innings. 

In the end, it was a crucial 23-run ninth-wicket partnership between Naeem and Razzak, that made all the difference. Bangladesh, who got off to a rousing start through their openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes, ought to have posted a total in excess of 250 after Shakib elected to bat. 

Tamim, who top-scored with 70 against India, looked to be in super touch as he cut, drove and flicked Rankin and Trent Johnston to log 44 off 43 balls that won him the Man-of-the-Match award. With Kayes also joining the party with a brilliantly square-driven boundary off Rankin, Bangladesh raced to 50 off 5.4 overs. 

A smart leg-side stumping off a wide, effected by wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien to send Kayes packing, and Joyce scoring a direct hit from mid-off to catch Junaid Siddique short of the crease, brought Ireland back in the game. 

Alarm bells started ringing in the Bangla dressing room when Tamim played a lazy cut off Andre Botha shortly afterward and was held by Porterfield at point. Shakib began with a flourish, but refused to mix caution with aggression despite being dropped by Porterfield at point off Rankin when he was on 15. He paid the price for pushing early at a Botha delivery as the ball popped up for nicely for the bowler to hold. 

Mushfiqur Rahim and Rokibul Hasan rebuilt the Bangladesh innings with a sensible 61-run partnership for the fifth wicket before the former had a rush of blood and departed, top-edging an intended sweep off left-arm spinner George Dockrell. And with Mohammad Ashraful departing much in the same fashion two overs later, early 'dinner' was on cards. However, Roqibul (38), Naeem (29) and Razzak (11) ensured that Bangladesh spinners had something to bowl at.

Railway Budget: 'Bengal bias' plays to Mamata's poll script

NEW DELHI: Delivering perhaps the longest-ever budget speech by a rail minister, Mamata Banerjee was speaking on the Kolkata Rail Vikas Corporation when the Bihar contingent erupted. 

When Banerjee claimed that the corporation "will kickstart Kolkata's return to its glory", MPs belonging to JD(U) and BJP from Bihar protested against the discrimination against their state. "Why don't you shout when I announce things for Hyderabad and Gujarat or Kerala. Why is it that you scream only when I mention Bengal," Banerjee retorted. 
The aggression failed to cut ice with the complainants, leading to disruptions and a short suspension of proceedings. The hold-up would not have displeased Banerjee one bit. 

In fact, it played to the script that she has in mind for the coming West Bengal elections: paint herself as the saviour of Bengal, someone who has unabashedly used her perch in Rail Bhawan to shower projects on the home state. 

The charges of partiality towards her home state only enhances her persona as the benefactor of Bengal. 

Parochialism, just like nepotism, has never been considered to be a vice in India. But when grafted to a larger cause; for instance, rescuing West Bengal from the morass of backwardness and unemployment, it becomes glamorous and, politically speaking, profitable. 

Banerjee, who used her maiden rail budget to add steel to her campaign to dislodge the Marxists, knows it very well. Which was why moments after protesting that she had wrongly been charged with parochialism, she responded to the same charge with a defiant "I will do it" declaration. That she has no qualms in demonstrating her bias for West Bengal is brought out by her plans for exhibition trains. 

Banerjee knows that she can get away with the brazenness not just because her support is crucial for UPA's survival but also because no one with a stake in Bengal politics can afford to come in her way. That she has reckoned right was evident when CPM's criticism skirted the bias for Bengal. Congress has also to play along for the same reason, although Banerjee kept in mind the party's interests in the poll-bound states of Kerala, Assam and Tamil Nadu, as well as the besieged stronghold of Andhra Pradesh. BJP did protest against what it called the Bengal-centric budget, but that is only because it has bigger stakes elsewhere. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wind power India 2011 to chart roadmap for additional 50 GW by 2020

Wind energy which has witnessed a phenomenal growth in India over the past few years. The country’s current cumulative installed wind farm capacity is 13 GW (as on Dec 2010), reaching 64 GW by 2020.

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) announced in June 2008 by the Govt. of India proposes increasing the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix to 15% by 2020. In order to achieve this, NAPCC recommends pegging the minimum share of renewable energy in the national grid at 5%, starting from 2009-10, to be increased by 1% per annum in the following years so as to reach 15% by 2020.

‘WIND POWER INDIA 2011’ TO CHART ROADMAP FOR ADDITIONAL 50 GW BY 2020 Chennai, 24 February 2011 

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) announced in June 2008 by the Govt. of India proposes increasing the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix to 15% by 2020. In order to achieve this, NAPCC recommends pegging the minimum share of renewable energy in the national grid at 5%, starting from 2009-10, to be increased by 1% per annum in the following years so as to reach 15% by 2020. 

This requires a quantum jump in renewable energy generation across the country. Wind energy which has witnessed a phenomenal growth in India over the past few years could make a significant contribution towards the shift to a low-carbon and energy secure future. 

The country’s current cumulative installed wind farm capacity is 13 GW (as on Dec 2010), reaching 64 GW by 2020 (as per GWEC estimates). The current annual wind power market is about 2200 MW with forecasts predicting a 5000 MW annual market by 2015 (research done by the World Institute of Sustainable Energy). As per NAPCC, if India needs to achieve 15% RE by 2020, wind’s contribution to the total energy mix would need to transcend even greater heights, requiring an additional installed capacity of almost 50 GW by 2020, over and above the present level! 

This poses several challenges for policy makers and regulators, and wind industry stakeholders in India, who would need to rise up to the occasion and develop suitable strategies, policies and regulations to meet the NAPCC target. This includes a major focus on augmenting the power evacuation/grid facilities and transmission planning, availability of non-recourse project financing and skilled manpower, speedy and appropriate implementation of the latest policy/regulatory measures such as renewable energy certificates (RECs) [linked with state-specific renewable purchase specification (RPS) with penal provisions for non-compliance], the Indian Electricity Grid Code (IEGC) 2010, etc.

To understand, deliberate and discuss all these critical issues and challenges related to the role of wind power in attaining the 50 GW mark by 2020, the World Institute of Sustainable Energy (WISE), Pune, in association with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), and the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association (IWTMA) is organising WIND POWER INDIA 2011 from 7–9 April 2011 at the Chennai Trade Centre, Chennai. 

The event would witness the presence of 1000+ delegates, around 100 exhibitors and nearly 100+ renowned speakers from the national and international wind industry. The opening day of the conference is highlighted by the main panel discussion on the role that wind power would play in achieving the 15% RE target by 2020. The theme paper on the subject would be presented by G M Pillai, Founder Director General, WISE, and the panel discussion on the topic would feature distinguished personalities including V P Raja, Chairperson, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC); Jan Declercq, Chief Business Development Officer, CG Power, Belgium; and Jose Donoso, Director–Business Development, Gamesa, and President, Spanish Wind Energy Association. 

Some other major distinguished speakers who would be present at the conference include, Hans Jorgen Koch, Dy. Secretary of State, Danish Energy Agency; Steve Sawyer, Secretary General, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), Belgium; Dr Klaus Rave, Chairperson, GWEC; Christian Kjaer, CEO, European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), Belgium; Stephen Miner, Sr. Vice President, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Dr Andrew Garrad, CEO, GL-Garrad Hassan, UK; Deepak Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Govt. of India; and Dr Pramod Deo, Chairperson, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, New Delhi. 

The opening day would also feature the CEO’s Forum, wherein chieftains of the wind industry would congregate on one single dais to discuss wind power development in south and south-east Asia. In addition, the conference would also focus on issues related to the role of wind power in climate mitigation; policy, regulation and market development of wind; technology, project development and operation of wind. 

The official side event, a ‘One-day conference on Small Wind Power’—aimed at tapping the huge opportunities for expansion of the small wind and hybrid market in the country—would be organised on 8 April 2011. The main objective of the side-event is to demystify the small wind and hybrid sector so as to increase transparency, infuse investor confidence, and overall, change the dynamism of the ‘small’ wind market into a ‘big’ investment opportunity. 

The conference would also feature Knowledge Fora—a series of official side events comprising customised business meets and workshops offering unique networking opportunities. Under the Business to Business meet format, select suppliers and service providers will have the opportunity to present cost optimisation opportunities and strategies, customised business proposals, technology updates, product ranges, and service solutions in their area of specialisation in the wind industry. 

The topics for the fora include: Structuring optimization: wind turbine tower and hub; Gearing up: mechanical drive train; Generating savings: wind turbine electricals, electronics and services; Wind power forecasting in India; and Design, testing and certification of wind turbines. A major highlight of the conference would be the presentation of ‘Wind India Awards’. 

These awards are an initiative of WISE and were first instituted during WIND INDIA 2006 in Pune. The awards are recognition of the contributions made by the Indian wind industry and associated stakeholders in shaping a ‘clean and green India’, and would be presented in 17 different categories for the FY 2008–09 to 2009–10. The major categories include ‘Best capacity addition by manufacturer’; ‘Best service provider among manufacturers’; ‘Best O&M independent service provider’; Best performing wind turbine’; ‘Best wind power developer state’; “Best wind power project financier’, Best media report/publication on wind power, etc., including select awards for the small wind and hybrid sector in India. For more information on the conference and exhibition, you may visit the conference website or email to

WISE The World Institute of Sustainable Energy (WISE) is a not-for-profit institute committed to the cause of promoting sustainable energy and sustainable development, with specific emphasis on issues related to renewable energy, energy security and climate change. Since its inception in 2004, WISE has pioneered many important initiatives. 

Some of these include, piloting a model Renewable Energy Law for India, proposing a roadmap for generation-based incentives (GBI) for wind and solar power, developing state-level action plans for clean energy technologies, etc.

GWEC The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) is the credible and representative forum for the entire wind energy sector at the international level. With a combined membership of over 1,500 organisations, GWEC’s member associations represent the entire wind energy community. GWEC’s mission is to ensure that wind power establishes itself as one of the world’s leading energy sources, providing substantial environmental and economic benefits.

The Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers’ Association (IWTMA) is the only body representing the country’s wind turbine manufacturers, providing a single contact point for policy makers, regulators and utilities at the national and state level. IWTMA’s main objective is to promote wind energy in India, facilitate the extension of knowledge in the field and interact with national and global energy bodies. IWTMA is a founding member of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) alongside other national and regional associations.


AI wants Rs 17,500 cr more to clean books

To come out of the financial mess, Air India, in its turnaround plan, will be asking for one-time infusion of Rs 17,500 crore from the government. The turnaround plan has been vetted by financial advisory firm Delloite and will be taken up in a board meeting of the airline slated for next month. The matter will then be referred to the government.

“Air India is asking for Rs 17,500 crore to clean its books and start its finances afresh. This demand is huge considering the airline has not been able to perform in the past,” said a senior ministry official, who did not want to be identified.

This government support, which could be in the form of equity infusion and loan waiver, is set to clean Air India’s books, which has a debt of over Rs 40,000 crore on an equity base of Rs 2,145 crore — it received an equity infusion of Rs 800 crore in 2009-10 and Rs 1,200 crore in 2010-11. Out of the Rs 40,000 crore, working capital debt is at Rs 21,000 crore and the rest are loans taken to fund aircraft acquisition.

The national carrier had ordered 111 aircraft worth Rs 46,000 crore and taken deliveries of 80 aircraft till now.

Air India also has an annual interest payment of around Rs 1,800 crore and has accumulated losses of over Rs 15,000 crore. The carrier lost Rs 2,226 crore in 2007-08, Rs 7,189 crore in 2008-09, and Rs 5,551 crore in 2009-10.

The airline is also losing money on a daily basis. Out of the Rs 22 crore the national carrier earns every day, Rs 13.5 crore go to the oil companies and Rs 8 crore to the airport operator and ground handlers and spare-parts companies, leaving the airline with only Rs 50 lakh a day. This translates into only Rs 15 crore a month. The monthly wage bill and interest payment of the airline are about Rs 250 crore and Rs 150 crore.

The five-year turnaround plan also talks about Air India increasing domestic market share to over 30 per cent, operating a fleet of 280 aircraft and around 10 per cent of its employees retiring.

The national carrier with a fleet of 130 aircraft is consistently losing its market share in the domestic sector and flew only 15.4 per cent of the total passengers in January.

The report projects that around 2,600 employees of the airline will retire from the airline in the coming three-year period. Currently, Air India has around 30,000 employees and the airline also plans to shift people to these subsidiaries. It has created a ground-handling subsidiary called Air India-Singapore Airport Terminal Services and is awaiting Cabinet approval for an aircraft maintenance subsidiary called Air India Engineering Service.


NOC for pak actors and singers must

Pakistani actors and other artistes will have to get an NoC from their interior ministry before coming to India. The decision was taken in a high level meeting held with the interior minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad on Thursday evening. 

The meeting was attended by representatives of all ministries where it was decided that no artiste would be allowed to travel to India without an NOC after March 15. 

It maybe recalled here that Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and his manager Maroof were charged under FEMA and customs act for carrying undeclared foreign currency of Rs 60 lakh.

FM may raise tax exemption limit to Rs 2 lakh

NEW DELHI: With an eye on improving the public mood ahead of crucial polls in five states, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee appears set to appease the middle class as well as UPA`s aam aadmi constituency. 

An increase in the income tax exemption limit from Rs 1.6 lakh to Rs 2 lakh is expected to be part of Mukherjee`s Union budget speech on Monday. Though the exemption limit is Rs 1.6 lakh, this year, there is an additional benefit of Rs 20,000 for those who invest in infrastructure bonds. 

The benefit available for investment in these bonds is expected to continue though Mukherjee, who will present his third budget in his second innings in finance ministry, is unlikely to heed demands for a Rs 50,000 benefit for investment in these instruments. 

The veteran politician is also likely to announce a debt relief scheme for weavers who draw largely from the Muslim community and are a sizeable constituency in poll-bound Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, besides states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. 

The amnesty may cost the Centre Rs 3,400 crore and would be similar to the Rs 70,000-crore debt waiver scheme for farm loans which is said to have turned the tide for UPA in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. 

Heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi led a party delegation to Mukherjee on the weavers` scheme on Wednesday, lending weight to the demand. His authorship on the relief for minorities is part of an extended campaign for organisational revival in Uttar Pradesh which goes to poll next year. 

That powerloom and handloom weavers are also present in Tamil Nadu, which goes to polls in April, makes the proposed waiver a key election sop. It would be a magnet for the ruling DMK and textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran is learnt to have lobbied hard. 

Tax exemptions on cotton and silk yarns may add to weavers` relief. 

Congress circles are hoping that the budget will help beat down the perception of UPA`s decline, somewhat alleviate the pain of prices and turn people`s attention away from the scams that have eroded the goodwill that the Manmohan Singh regime enjoyed in 2009. 

The goodies will form part of Congress`s political outreach for key social groups in the backdrop of unrest over inflation. 

As per political calculations, the higher exemption limit may help blunt the pressure on the government from middle class which is weighed down by the burden of high inflation, which latest numbers put above 8%. Despite some moderation, food inflation remains above 11% and has upset monthly calculations for most households in the country.

Though the government could lose some revenue due to higher exemptions, the estimate is that higher growth will help rake in more revenue besides keeping fiscal deficit under check. 

Estimates suggest that the economy, despite the burden of higher interest rates and the spike in oil and metal prices, would grow at around 9%, helping the government to stay on course to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 4.8% of GDP

SA vs WI: De Villiers hits a ton as SA win by 7 wickets

South African batsman Abraham Benjamin de Villiers celebrated his century as his team-mates celebrated a fine seven wicket win over the West Indies in New Delhi on Thursday. 
Chasing a meagre 223 for victory in their World Cup Group B match at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium, the South Africans reached the target in the 43rd over.
Their chase was disrupted by light showers post the 38th over when the team total was 199/ 3 with de Villiers batting on 97 and J.P. Duminy on 28. The match resumed within minutes giving de Villiers an opportunity to complete his ton.
De Villiers remained unbeaten on 107 and Duminy on 42
However, the Proteas didn't get off to a good start losing early wickets in their chase. First they lost their opener Hashim Amla and then it was the big-match player Jacques Kallis to walk off the crease with 4 runs written against his name. 
Both wickets fell in controversial fashion. In case of Amla (14), paceman Kemar Roach had overstepped slightly while bowling and Kallis had just walked off after being caught by skipper Darren Sammy in the slip off left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn. There was doubt that the ball had carried off his bat. South Africa fell to 20/2 in 5 overs. Whatever the case, the spinner-pacer combination worked well for the West Indies.

But South Africa, considering the form that they are in, had little reason to worry and their skipper Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers went about their business as usual. The two put on an impressive 119 runs for third wicket milking the opposition bowlers at ease.
Their partnership lasted for more than an hour and erased away the early advantage that the Windies had earned. Finally in the 29th over, paceman Kieron Pollard curved in a delivery to left-hander Smith and uprooted his off-stump on 139/3. Smith fell for 45. 
West Indies innings
West Indies were all out for 222 as the opposition bowlers tightened the noose at death.
South Africa skipper Graeme Smith put the Windies in the middle and West Indies opener Chris Gayle departed on the third ball of the match with offie Johan Botha claiming his wicket.
A surprising decision by South Africa skipper Graeme Smith to give the ball to off-spinner Johan Botha in the very first over. But, the moved paid off as in the third ball of the over he struck to send danger-man Chris Gayle back into the pavilion.
A good length ball from Botha pitched outside off took the edge off Gayle's bat to and Jacques Kallis did the rest in the first slip. West Indies slumped to 2/1 in the very first over.
One wicket down early on but West Indies had little to fear as their other opener Devon Smith and new man Darren Bravo continued to bat on and frustrate the Protea bowlers. The duo put on 111 for the second wicket before a change in bowling accounted for Bravo on 113/2.
On this occasion too it was Botha, who did the trick, claiming him Leg Before. Bravo scored a fine 73 off 82 balls. Post his dismissal Smith too fell on 117/3 with another spinner Imran Tahir claiming his wicket on 36.
Tahir struck again to scalp another danger-man Ramnaresh Sarwan when the West Indies score was 120. He only put two on board before a LBW decision send him back.
Then Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwyane Bravo got on with another partnership. They put on 58 runs for fifth wicket before Bravo got run out on 40. The Windies score at this juncture was 178/5 in 37.5 overs.
However, post Dwyane Bravo's wicket the West Indies batting line-up faltered and they lost quick wickets. Chanderpaul departed when the score was 209/6 and South African paceman Dale Steyn claimed Kieron Pollard on a duck when the score was 213/7. From here on things became easy for the Protea pacers, who got busy counting the opposition scalps.
West Indies could only manage to put 222 on board and were bowled out in the 48th over.

Rail Budget will be pro-passenger: Mamata

After giving finishing touches to the Rail Budget, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjeeon Thursday said it will be a "passenger-friendly budget" dedicated to the common man of the country.
Rail Budget 2011-12 will be presented in Parliament on Friday.
Without revealing any budget details, she said: "It will be people-friendly, passenger-friendly and country-friendly budget."
Speculations are rife that the budget may see some marginal increase in upper class AC fare with sleeper class fare remaining untouched.
Keeping the passengers' complaints in mind, the budget is likely to propose a slew of passenger-friendly measures like setting up of more Janahaar outlets at stations to provide quality food at reasonable rates.
The budget could also find mention of mega base kitchens in the metros preparing 50,000 to 1 lakh meals per day for train passengers. This would be managed by railway itself as per the new catering policy, sources said.
The budget could also announce launching off a new SMS-based service to lodge complaints against rail service by passengers.
In order to provide clean linens to passengers, Railways are likely to announce setting up of mechanised laundry service at zonal levels.
The Rail Budget is likely to announce introduction of about 100 new trains including a dozen super fast Durontos.
The Budget comes at a time when the Railways are facing financial crunch with its operating ratio inching close to 100 level mark. "So there will be a few measures for generation of more internal resources," sources said.
Mamata, facing Assembly elections in West Bengal in two months, could also announce a slew of projects for her state, including a rail link connecting the busy Howrah and Sealdah stations running through the densely populated central districts of Kolkata.
In order to promote cultural activities, Railways are also planning to construct auditorium in Kharagpur, Jalpaiguri and Jabalpur.
Catering to the student community, she could also announce running of student special trains keeping in mind the travel requirement during examinations and trains with only bookings under Tatkal scheme.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Srinagar, Feb 23 : The scenic beauty of Kashmir Valley has once again attracted the attention of Bollywood stars.

Apart from Ranbir Kapoor, the film's actress Nargis and director Imtiyaz Ali were also spotted at the tourist destination Pahalgam.
While talking to IBNS, Production Controller Mahesh said that Valley is known for its beauty and it is very cheap to shoot here as the film unit doesn’t require any artificial set. 

He said due to unconducive atmosphere, Bollywood stars are reluctant to come over here, but the situation has changed a lot. 

Large number of people arrived at Pahalgam to have a glimpse of the stars present there. 

Pertinently, Ranbir's father Rishi Kapoor had shot his first film as a hero- ‘Bobby’- in Kashmir as well.

Warner Bros. to Remake 'The Bodyguard'

Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer have been hired to pen the script.
Warner Bros. is in the midst of remake fever, with the 1992 hit The Bodyguardthe latest to get a retread.

The studio has hired Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer to write the script. Studio-based Dan Lin will produce.

The original starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston and spawned one of the biggest ballads of all time, "I Will Always Love You." It entered on a former Secret Service agent hired to protect a world famous pop singer. While initially uncomfortable in her glitzy world, the man eventually falls for her, compromising his ability to protect her.

The original was written by Lawrence Kasdan and was the first script written by the scribe, best known for penning Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Big Chill. It was meant as a vehicle for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross.

In the remake, the story would be updated so that the man would be a former Iraqi war vet.

Sarah Schecter is overseeing.

Friedman and Palmer wrote the action-comedy script Family Getaway, which is set up at the studio and made the 2010 Black List. The duo is repped by UTA and Mosaic.

Justin Bieber First Artist to Have Four Albums on Billboard's Top 40 Since Garth Brooks

Not winning any Grammys didn't hurt Justin Bieber's records sales.
He dominated the Billboard album charts this week, thanks to Never Say Never: The Remixes(Island), the soundtrack to his new 3-D concert film. It claimed the No. 1 spot with 161,000 copies sold. 

Three of his other albums also were in the Top 40: My World 2.0 (No. 8); My Worlds Acoustic(No. 18) and My World, the mini-album that was his debut (No. 31).

According to Billboard, the singer - who just debuted a shorter new 'do - is the first artist to have four albums in the top 40 since Garth Brooks in 1993.


International Animated Film Society Considers Adding Editing Category to Annie Awards

American Cinema Editors, DreamWorks Animation and Sony Pictures Animation lobby organization for new category.

A growing number of individual and companies -- as well as American Cinema Editors group -- have asked the International Animated Film Society to consider adding an editing category in its annual Annie Awards.

DreamWorks Animation hosted a meeting Wednesday at its Glendale campus to discuss the issue. The meeting included a group of those that would like to see the category added -- including representatives from DWA, ACE and Sony Pictures Animation -- and ASIFA board members. An ASIFA board meeting was scheduled for Wednesday night, when a decision could be reached.

Darren Holmes, a co-editor of How to Train Your Dragon and an editor on such movies asRatatouille, brought the group into his cutting room, where he explained the editor's role in the story development process. Academy Award nominee Chris Sanders, who co-directedDragon, also spoke about role of the editor, whose work shaping the story begins early on with the director, writers and other key members of the creative team.

"A lot of the writing gets completed in the editing room," Holmes said, showing a series of early storyboards that were meant to open Dragon, featuring Hiccup waking up in his bed during the start of an attack. The film actually begins with an introduction to the Vikings' village. "The dramatic timing elements aren't in place until we build them here. ... Even the dialogue and performances themselves --sometimes a single sentence may be cut from five different takes."

"I look at editorial as a huge storytelling tool," Sanders said. "There was a critical moment inDragon where there was something about the movie that felt leaden." He said the team decided to step back and leave the film in editorial, where revisions were made.

"That really was really the turning point for the film," he said. "That version is the version that came to the screen. ... We spend more time in the cutting room there any place else (during production). It is the objectivity, among other things, that we rely on."

He added: "Layout is a gigantic part (of the animation process). Trying to figure out (elements such as where the camera is placed) before the animation is in, is a huge part of this -- and it all happens in editorial."
The editor of an animated movie may in fact be on a film for three or four years, Holmes noted.

"(Editors) work with the director to shape the final product," Oscar-nominated editorStephen Rivkin (Avatar), a member of ACE's board of directors, said during the presentation. "That may be trimming, adjusting, sometimes it is even rewriting,"

ASIFA's Annie Awards do recognize various roles, with categories including direction, writing, production design and music. For some, editing is a conspicuous absence from this list.

Even in live action, the role of editing -- often referred to as the "invisible art" -- can be overlooked. ACE is also asking certain competitions and film festivals to consider adding an editing category. Letters have been sent to the Shanghai International Film Festival, New York PictureStart Awards, Durban International Film Festival, Boston Film Festival and San Sebastian Film Festival. Rivkin explained that ACE is approaching festivals that already honor cinematography and/or production design.

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