Friday, March 25, 2011

I have realised my dream of helping India beat Australia: Yuvraj Singh

Star batsman Yuvraj Singh on Thursday said that he has realised the dream of piloting India to a victory against defending champions Australia in the World Cup though it was very difficult to keep his emotions in check in the high-octane quarter-final match in Ahmedabad.
"Over the last one year I have been dreaming of staying till the end and taking the team to victory against Australia in the World Cup and the moment has come. This is the moment I have lived for as a cricketer," he said at the post-match press conference.

Yuvraj guided India to a sensational five-wicket victory over holders Australia with an unbeaten half century after claiming two wickets and he was adjudged man-of-the-match for the fourth time in the tournament.

He admitted that it was a really tough situation with enormous pressure on him and any small mistake on his part could have thrown India out of the World Cup.

"It was very hard to control emotions. It was difficult to control oneself in such a situation as one mistake and you will be out of the World Cup. I tried to just watch the ball, play down the ground and not lift the ball in the air," said the left-handed batsman.

Yuvraj said he was playing in the tournament with the thought of someone special in his life, though he did not specify the person.

"I am playing for a very special person that comes in my mind and whenever things are not going well I think of that person and things work out," he remarked.

He conceded that the dismissal of Gautam Gambhir, who was run out due to a misunderstanding with him, and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in quick succession had put the team under pressure but Suresh Raina lived up to the challenge and showed nerves in crucial stages.

"When Gambhir got out I thought I will get a good partnership going with M. S. (Dhoni) but when MS got out I knew I was in trouble. When Raina came in I told him to take his time and let's get 20-30 run partnership. He has shown nerves in a crucial stage and this will boost his confidence also," he said.

He said he had already apologised to team-mate Gambhir for the mix-up that resulted in his partner getting run out today.

"I have apologies to Gautam for the miscommunication on the field. We have not played together much. I think it was probably my fault," said Yuvraj.

Though he got his fourth man-of-the-match award in the tournament today, Yuvraj sounded modest and said it was a team effort that was crucial.

"I feel good to have contributed to the team but the victory cannot be achieved by one person, it's a team effort," he said.

He said though he cherished the centuries he had scored in his career, even scores like his 52 not out today were special as they resulted to the team winning a crucial tie.

"Though centuries are very special for a player, when you are able to contribute 20 or 30 runs which help the team win crucial matches they also become special," he said.

Looking ahead to the semifinal clash against arch-rivals Pakistan at Mohali on March 30, Yuvraj said it was going to be another dream game after the India-Australia match today.

"The India-Pakistan game is going to be another dream game after India-Australia. It's a great victory for India today. We would be playing our best cricket against Pakistan.

They know our game we know theirs both teams are equal. They have had a very good tournament and have beaten West Indies and Australia," he said.

"We don't want to think about the Pakistan game now. It has been a high-pressure game for us (against Australia) and lot of our system has been drained. We would like to relax for a couple of days and then make plans about Pakistan game," he added.

Looking back the past one year which had seen him being axed from both the ODI and Test teams, Yuvraj said was very happy that things have turned around for him.

"Last year everything I touched turned into mud. This year it has been a good year," he said.

Praising coach Gary Kirsten for the contributions he has been making, Yuvraj said that was the vital difference from 2007 when the team was knocked out in the first round of the World Cup.

"In 2003 team was very great (when it made the final). I don't want to talk about 2007. In 2011 with Gary coming in, our confidence in each other has grown. Players confide in each other and the way Gary keeps the team like a family that shows in our performance," he pointed out.

- With inputs from PTI

TC MP questioned at IGI airport for carrying Rs 57 lakh

NEW DELHI: A Trinamool Congress MP was stopped at the Indira Gandhi International airport here after he was found carrying Rs 57 lakh but was later allowed to go after he informed authorities that the money belonged to his company, sources said here today. 

Kanwar Deep Singh, the Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand and owner of Alchemist Group, was stopped after CISF officials found that he was carrying a large amount of money, the sources said. He was on his way to Guwahati. 

The CISF officials informed Air Intelligence Unit of the Income Tax department, who found that he was carrying Rs 57 lakh, they said. He was accompanied by seven others in a private plane. 

Sources said Singh was allowed to go after questioning after he informed the officials that the money belonged to his company. 

Airport officials have stepped up checking after the Bureau of Civil Aviation has instructed them to keep a strict vigil on movement of cash in view of the upcoming Assembly elections. Incidentally, Singh was on way to election-bound Assam. 

The Alchemist Group comprises 11 companies in various sectors such as food processing, health care, hospitality, food and beverages, steel, real estate and infrastructure development. 

Reacting to the development, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said her party has demanded that the government should take notice of this and file a criminal case against him and take required action.

"This is the immorality of Trinamool. If they can do it in Assam, where they have no presence, you can imagine what they are going to be doing in Bengal. It is a shameful thing that has happened," she said.

IT majors on hiring overdrive

CHENNAI: The hiring numbers of IT majors leave nothing to doubt about how far the companies have left behind the recession. From the quarter ended March 31, 2010 to the one ended December 31, 2010, the top 5 IT majors in India-Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Cognizant, Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technologies-together clocked a staggering figure of 1,14,038 net additions in terms of headcount. This stands in sharp contrast to the net addition figure of 47,462 in the corresponding year ago period. 

Net addition subtracts the number of people leaving the company from the gross additions, and, therefore, is a better indicator of the actual increase in staff numbers. 

"It reflects the buoyancy in the market. 2009 numbers show the uncertainty and the low sentiments prevailing at that point. Companies are feeling a lot more confident now and can afford some redundancy in anticipation of big projects which wasn't the case earlier," said E Balaji, MD and CEO, MaFoi Randstad, a HR consulting firm. 

The numbers have shown a marked increase for each of the big IT companies. The net addition of TCS for the period from March quarter to the December quarter in 2010 was 37,260 which is almost double the figure of 19,311 clocked in the year ago. 

Cognizant's net addition numbers increased from 16,700 in 2009 to 25,557 in 2010. Much bigger increases were seen for the other 3 IT majors-Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technologies. The same numbers for Wipro for instance, increased from 3,977 in 2009 to 16,745 in 2010; for HCL Tech, the number rose from 670 to 16,579; and for Infosys, from 6,804 to 17,897. 

"During recession, companies weren't recruiting freshers. So there was a deficit, especially at lower levels. So what is happening now is that companies are replenishing the stock, with freshers accounting for a big part of it. The higher attrition in the current buoyant mood in the market is also playing a role in increasing these hiring numbers," said Amitabh Das, CEO of Vati Consulting, a recruitment firm. 

Not only are the companies compensating for the lull in hiring, they also anticipate bigger and more valuable projects in the coming times. They are building up bench strengths to handle the bigger size and variety of projects they expect to come their way. "Companies are bullish on future. Such an outlook is not totally off the mark given the kind of growth we are seeing," said James Agrawal, consulting director and business head at BTI consultants India, an executive hiring firm. 

The current optimism has a lot to do with the increasing confidence in the western markets which constitute the major markets for most Indian IT companies. "Tech is more of a support industry, an enabler. So if sectors like telecom, pharma, banking etc are booming or experiencing a slowdown, the same is reflected in the numbers of IT companies too. With the global outlook much more positive, things are looking up in a big way for IT companies," said Sunil Goel, director at Golbal-Hunt, an executive search firm. 

Picking up from the December 2009 quarter, the net addition numbers have remained strong in every quarter of 2010 signaling solid growth. Recruiters expect this trend to sustain in the coming years. "Globally, jobs might be shrinking but that's certainly not the case in India. In fact, increasing attrition today is itself indicator of the fact that the overall number of jobs in the economy is increasing," said Goel. "I expect the strong hiring trend to sustain at least for next 2-3 years." 

"We have begun 2011 in an economy that is considerably more stable than it was at this time in 2010. After recession, it's clear that our industry is again at an inflection point," said Shankar Srinivasan, chief people officer at Cognizant.

At least 75 killed in Myanmar quake: Officials

 YANGON: At least 75 people were killed when a strong earthquake struck Myanmar, officials said Friday, with fears that the toll would rise as news filtered through from remote areas still cut off. ( In pics: Quake rocks Myanmar

Tremors were felt as far away as Bangkok, almost 800 kilometres (500 miles) from the epicentre, Hanoi and parts of China when the earthquake hit late on Thursday, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) measured at magnitude 6.8. ( 1 dead, ancient sites damaged in Thailand

A Myanmar official said 74 people were killed and 110 were injured in five areas close to the epicentre. More than 240 buildings had collapsed. 

"We are trying to reach the remote areas," the official said. 

"The military, police and local authorities are trying to find some people injured in those affected areas but the roads are still closed." 

Across the border, Thai authorities said a 52-year-old woman was killed in Mae Sai district after a wall in her house collapsed. 

Terrified residents across the region fled their homes, tall buildings swayed and hospitals and schools were evacuated. 

In Yangon Chris Herink, Myanmar country director for the charity World Vision, said there did not appear to be "catastrophic infrastructure damage" in the affected areas of Kengtung and Tachileik, although buildings were cracked and water supplies disrupted in some parts. 

"Of real concern though are the more rural areas. There will be more, I am afraid to say, unhappy information coming throughout the day," he said. 

"It is a hilly area near the border between Thailand and Laos, the so-called Golden Triangle. There is a lot of commerce that goes on in the area." 

World Vision helps care for around 7,000 children sponsored by overseas donors in the affected areas. 

"We want to ensure that they and their families are safe, secure and accounted for and to offer assistance to them as a first priority but also to help anyone in the area that has humanitarian needs," he said. 

The quake struck 90 kilometres (60 miles) north of Chiang Rai and 235 kilometres (150 miles) north-northeast of Chiang Mai, Thailand's second city and a popular tourist destination. 

Thailand's meteorological department on Friday said it had registered six large aftershocks following the initial quake. 

Residents in Chiang Rai city raced from their homes again on Friday morning as a large tremor again shook the ground. 

Four pagodas in the historic town of Chiang Saen near the northern Thai border were damaged, including Chedi Luang, where its three-metre (10-foot) long pinnacle crashed to the ground. 

The shaking was felt throughout China's southwestern province of Yunnan, according to state-run China National Radio, but no casualties or major structural damage had been reported as of Friday morning. 

However, the earthquake reportedly caused cracks in some homes and schools in and around the rugged Xishuangbanna region that borders Myanmar, and fear of aftershocks forced many people in the area to spend the night outdoors. 

Some residents of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi fled their homes when the quake shook the city. 

Le Huy Minh, assistant director of the national Global Geophysics Institute in the capital, reported no victims or damage. 

"There was big panic among the local residents," as high buildings shook for half a minute, said Nguyen Thai Son, of the institute's office in northwestern Dien Bien town, 350 kilometres from the epicentre. 

But he added there were "neither victims nor material losses here". 

Laos government spokesman Khenthong Nuanthasing said there had been no reports of casualties in his country from the earthquake. 

"In Vientiane it was not strong," he said. 

The quake comes two weeks after Japan was hit by a monster earthquake and tsunami that left around 27,000 people dead or missing and triggered a crisis at its Fukushima nuclear plant. 

Myanmar and Japan sit on different tectonic plates, separated by the vast Eurasian plate. 

No tsunami warning was issued after the Myanmar quake as US seismologists said it was too far inland to generate a devastating wave in the Indian Ocean. 

The USGS initially recorded the quake as magnitude 7.0, but later revised it down to 6.8.

Ponting predicts India will beat Pakistan in the semifinals

AHMEDABAD: Australian captain Ricky Pontingon Thursday predicted that India would beatPakistan in the World Cup semifinal and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men are the strong favourites to win the coveted title after a gap of 28 years. 
"India played well as a team today and deserved victory. Today we were not good enough (to win). Going forward they will be pretty hard to beat. They will beat Pakistan in the semifinal and go on to win the World Cup now," Ponting said at the post-match press conference after Australia were knocked out of the World Cup by India. 

"India have a very good batting line-up. We played very competitive cricket tonight but I'm disappointed with the two successive losses (against Pakistan in their last league game and today against India)," he said after his side's five-wicket loss in a high-octane World Cup quarterfinal. 

He said he would not be playing in the next World Cup but ruled out quitting one-day cricket. 

"I am not quitting one-day cricket but this is probably my last World Cup game. I will be happy to look back after retirement that I made a century in my last innings in the World Cup," Ponting said

He also said that the talk of the end of an era in Australian cricket was misplaced. 

"It's a bit premature to say it was the end of an era for Australian cricket, it was a pretty good game tonight. I do not think we were far away from winning the game against a very good Indian team on their home soil. I think it's a bit too early to say it's the end of an era," said Ponting. 

Ponting said his side had the chances to win the game and they were devastated by the loss. 

"We had great expectations from the game. We were a well organized group. We are devastated. We found it difficult to get momentum. Not performing at critical moments cost us the game. We did not grab our opportunities," he said. 

"We were 15 to 20 runs short with the bat. 250-260 was a good total but we lost wickets at bad time and never got the momentum going. We did not execute the plans properly," said the 36-year-old Tasmanian who scored a superb 104 after having struggled in the earlier part of the tournament. 

The Australian captain felt the schedule of the tournament could have been spread out better but said that that cannot be an excuse for his side's crashing out in the quarterfinals. 

"The schedule did not help us. But that cannot be put as an excuse for the loss. Over the last ten days my team has played four games. It would have been nice to have them (games) evenly spread out," he said. 

He sympathised with his key fast bowler Brett Lee who had made a great effort to get back into the team after a 14-month injury lay-off. 

"Brett has given a lot for Australian cricket during his entire career and at times coming back after big injuries. He will be shattered as he has worked very hard to get here," he said.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ind vs Aus Live: Ponting stays but India go after the others

Australia are 158/4 in 35 overs with Ricky Ponting and Cameron White at the crease against India in their World Cup quarter-final match at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad, on Wednesday. Live Score
Earlier, Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat. Not an unusual decision considering that seamers won't have much bounce and carry and it is a good batting wicket.

The wicket looks dry and there will be some turn in offer for the spinners. Considering this, it was a good move by India captain MS Dhoni to give the ball to offie R Ashwin in the first over. And Ashwin did get the breakthrough though a bit late. On the last ball of the 10th over he scalped Satson with his turner that crashed into his stumps. He fell for 25 and Aussies went down to 40/1.
Post that wicket, Brad Haddin and Ricky Ponting got on with a fine partnership to put 70 runs for the second wicket. Brad Haddin went on to score his fourth half-century in the World Cup, but he could not carry any further as Yuvraj Singh got the man India wanted. Haddin went for a big hit off Yuvraj but failed to get the elevation and Suresh Raina took a fine catch to dismiss him on 53. Aussies lost their second wicket on 110/2.
Yuvraj, who is on a purple patch at the World Cup, came up with another vital breakthrough to send Aussie vice-captain Michael Clarke home. A top edge off Clarke's bat was taken by Zaheer Khan at mid-wicket. He departed for 8 and Australia fell to 140/3 in the 31st over. 
Then it was the turn of India paceman to join the party and Zaheer came headon scalping Michael Hussey with his slower ball that pitched on the off and turned in a little to take the batsman's off stump. Australia lost their fourth wicket on 150. 
In World Cups, India and Australia have played each other nine times. Australia have won seven times and India have won twice. However, in the knock-out stages of ICC events, they have met four times where India have won thrice and the Australia just once. At Motera, they have played twice and both have won one game each. 
Teams -
India: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt./wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel  
Australia: Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Ricky Ponting (capt.), Michael Clarke, Cameron White, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait 

Bookies rule out India, bet on SA

NEW DELHI: Local bookies seem to be counting onSouth Africa to lift the cricket World Cup even though India has been heavily tipped to beat Australia in the quarterfinals on Thursday. This is in stark contrast to what is being projected by international agencies like William Hill who are banking on India as the most likely country to win the Cup. India's slip from the top (it had started as favourites at the start of the tournament) came after its unimpressive show - both in batting and bowling - against South Africa, England and even the West Indies, which India finally managed to beat. 

According to bookies, South Africa are strong favourites with the odds staked at 3.75:1 for a win. This is comparable to the international odds that have been pegged at 10:3. Though the English bookies have kept India as the most probable country to lift the Cup, local bookies have given India the second spot at 3.80:1. Given its number one rank in ODIs, Australia has managed the fourth spot at 5.65:1. India's neighbour Sri Lanka(5.40) is ahead of Australia. South Africa, often dubbed as the greatest chokers of the game, was initially in the fourth spot before clinching the number one spot now. Bookies though are banking on the hosts to prevail over the Kangaroos at Ahmedabad with an offer of Rs 75/79 for Rs 100 for an India win and Rs 78/81 on Rs 100 for an Australian win. The real rates, though, will open only on the day of the game. 

"The fact remains that Sri Lanka too will play at home. With several all-rounders in both the Indian and South African teams, we believe the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ajantha Mendis and even Virendra Sehwag will play a major role. However, this is a long tournament and there are always chances of players getting injured. These rates will certainly change once the quarterfinals are over," said a bookie. The rear end is brought up by Pakistan (6.35), England (11.50) and New Zealand (26) after West Indies was knocked out on Wednesday. 

The Delhi police, though, seem reluctant to act against Delhi-based bookies this time round. Most bookies are expected to operate from different areas of central and northwest Delhi. "We nabbed some bookies during the last FIFA football World Cup. But till date, no one has been prosecuted. Many of them, wanted in cases dating back to the last cricket World Cup, have escaped after paying petty fines. You can only stop them temporarily, but the industry - worth crores - manages to bounce back," said a senior district officer on condition of anonymity. 

, a bookie told TOI that with "heightened" police action still likely, since the tournament has reached the quarterfinal stages, they will be "rotating" their hideouts across the city. "We will be entertaining bets only through proven references so that our business is not affected," said the bookie.

At $309bn, Japan quake costliest-ever disaster

TOKYO: The Japanese government on Wednesday said this month's tsunami which has killed over 9,000 people so far may have caused damages of up to $309 billion (nearly Rs 13.85 lakh crore), making it the largest ever natural catastrophe in terms of economic damage. 

So far the record was held by Hurricane Katrina, which is said to have caused damages of around $75 billion. The first official estimates from Japan mean that the tsunami's economic impact is nearly four times that of Katrina. 

At this scale, the damage caused by the tsunami is 10% higher than India's total spending in 2011-12 , which is budgeted at Rs 12.58 lakh crore. 

The damage is over 30 times of what was caused by the Asian tsunami that hit India and other countries in December 2004, killed nearly 2.3 lakh people in the Indian Ocean region and affected around 5 lakh in all. The economic damage from this was estimated to be in the region of $10 billion (Rs 45,000 crore at today's exchange rate). 

According to latest reports, the death toll in Japan is estimated at 9,400, while 14,700 persons have been reported missing and another 2,750 are injured . On Wednesday, the Japanese government said it estimated damage from the tsunami at anywhere between $197 billion (around Rs 8.8 lakh crore) and $308 billion. The estimate covers damage to infrastructure in seven prefectures affected by the disaster, including damages to nuclear power facilities north of Tokyo. Wider implications on the economy, including how radiation will affect food and water supply, are not included in the estimate. 

Economists had initially estimated losses of up to $184 billion (Rs 8.2 lakh crore). Encyclopedia Britannica had estimated that the damage caused by World War II was of the order of $1 trillion. 

The official Japanese government report didn't include specific forecasts for how the damage would affect GDP, which economists at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities forecast may contract as much as an annualized 12% in the second quarter. GDP expanded at a 3.2% in the second quarter after the 1995 Kobe quake. 

The destruction will push down GDP by as much as 2.75 trillion yen (around $34 billion ) for the year starting April 1, Wednesday's report showed. The figure, about 0.5% of the 530 trillion yen ($6.5 trillion) economy, reflects a decline in production from supply disruptions and damage to corporate facilities without taking into account the effects of possible power outages. 

Japan may set up a reconstruction agency to oversee the rebuilding effort and the central bank has injected record cash to stabilize financial markets. 

Bank of Japan board member Ryuzo Miyao said on Wednesday that it may take more time to overcome the damage of the tsunami than it did after the 1995 quake in Kobe, western Japan. 

"The ability to depress economic activity from the supply side is larger than the Great Kobe earthquake and we must bear in mind that these effects could linger for some time," Miyao said in a speech. "The short-term effects are not insignificant."

Ind vs Aus: India on the edge as Men in Blue face Australia

AHMEDABAD: This is it. Hold your breath whenIndia take on Australia on Thursday, for there will be no second chances. The biggest stage, and the crucial moment, has arrived. 

Reputations are at stake for MS Dhoni and his beleaguered counterpart Ricky Ponting. India lost to Australia in the 2003 World Cup final and endured an awful campaign in 2007, but the scales have tilted since. This isn't the invincible Australia of old. Rather than a sublime and uplifting battle between two powerhouses of the international game, current form indicates this second quarterfinal might be more of a scrap. 

Neither side has been awe-inspiring in the build-up to this moment. Both have obvious chinks in the armour just waiting to be exploited, and both need to shed the blow-hot, blow-cold approach which has characterized their campaign so far. 

Then there's the enormous pressure breathing down their necks, especially Dhoni's men. India are playing at home and millions expect nothing less than victory. The backlash, in case of defeat, will be painful. Australia have dominated this stage for so long that this bunch of players wouldn't like to be remembered as children of a lesser god. Whichever team can raise its game now will go through to meet Pakistan. 

As many as six players in Dhoni's current squad were losing finalists in 2003 and will be looking to make amends. It's a great opportunity to settle an old score. Yet, making a statement of intent might not be easy, even though the Motera is expected to be dry and spin-friendly. India's bowling, apart from Zaheer Khan, has been ordinary. Time and again, they have faltered in the Batting Powerplay. Even the middle-order has collapsed twice. Australia's pacers can be a handful. Can the sight of a familiar opponent get the competitive juices flowing? 

The issue of Virender Sehwag's fitness is another complication the team could have done without. The opener is struggling with a troublesome knee and Dhoni said a call on his availability would be taken in the morning. Sehwag, however, spent a lot of time at the nets fielding and batting, and seems more likely to play than not. 

The Australians too have been anything but impressive. Ponting's time seems to be running out. His form and confidence is under the scanner and his fierce temper has shown through. Controversy and bad blood seems to be hounding the Aussies and they've been forced to maintain a quieter profile. The loss to Pakistan meant drawing the curtains on a 34-game unbeaten streak in this tournament and this loss of aura is a boost for opponents. 

Will this be India's turn to deliver a knockout blow?

Life's about planting trees for others: Warren Buffett

BANGALORE: On the second day of his India trip on Wednesday, Warren Buffett was a busy man, having a brief chat with the Karnataka CM before a factory visit to the only Buffett investment in India, TaeguTec India, a high-end tooling company. After pounding the shop floor, addressing employees and planting a sapling, it was time for a meeting with city CEOs. Before leaving for Delhi, the 'Sage of Omaha' spoke exclusively to TOI. Excerpts. 

Q. We noticed that when you were planting the tree, there was a different Warren Buffett, different from the persona of an investor or a philanthropist. You seemed to open up in a different way. 

A. Well, I like to think that I open up even otherwise (laughs). But part of life is to plant trees that other people will sit under. Somebody planted a tree for me long ago in the form of an educational institution and I sat under that tree, metaphorically. The same happened in one area after another in my life. 

Q. The chairman of Infosys, Narayana Murthy, talks of compassionate capitalism. Is philanthropy going to be the compassionate side of capitalism? 

A. I think philanthropy should be part of humanity. I don't relate it to capitalism or to business. When you have everything that you possibly could need yourself and other people need what you have that is of no use to you and has enormous use to them, I think you need to do something about it. 

Q. Philanthropy till now largely has been an individual effort. As it becomes bigger, it might become an institutional effort with its own systems, processes, checks and balances. Will it take away from the spontaneity of the individual effort that it is today? 

A. No, I don't think so. What we are encouraging is more individual effort. We are not asking people to join us or to give to what we believe in. We are encouraging people to enjoy giving and do it their own way. They can do it when they want, with whom they want. Maybe they can learn from each other. I have learnt from other people I have met. It's not designed to centralize anything. It's designed to encourage people individually and in their families to do the things we found so enjoyable. 

Q. In India, the greatest potential is in the infrastructure sector. Would you be looking at gas, power, steel, utilities in general for investment? You did say on Tuesday that you would look at making one big investment a year in India. 

A. I would like to make a big one, but it will have to be in a field that I understand. A company in which I have a good feeling about where it will be in 5/10 years, competitively. 

Q. From what we have read, gut instinct plays a large role in your investment decisions. Many investors like to kick the tiles, go to the shop floor to see if an investment makes sense. Are you that kind of an investor? 

A. No, I look at the people who run it. I would not know what to do if tomorrow morning you make me in charge of a plant (laughs). But I do know who should be in charge of it. 

Q. Your only investment in India so far is in Bangalore-based TaeguTec. Would you future investments here be in such specialist, high-end manufacturing companies? 

A. These kind of companies will do very well. But there are a whole group of companies that will do well in India. So, I will not limit my interest to something like this.

Batcha's driver fled with Rs 6 crore, wife tells cops

CHENNAI: Sadiq Batcha's driver had escaped with Rs 6 crore from his car last August, his widow Reha Banu told cops investigating the suicide of A Raja's aide on Wednesday, according to police sources. 

Police, questioning several people as part of the probe into the death of Batcha, quoted Reha Banu as saying that Batcha, who was found dead on March 16, was upset after his driver disappeared with the money but preferred not to file a police complaint. 

The investigation has revealed that Batcha spoke to a friend called Subbudu (Subramanian) 40 times on the day before he allegedly took his life. Subramanian is a partner in Sadiq Real Estate Agency based in Perambalur, Raja's hometown. 

A Mylapore police district officer said: "We have been instructed not to probe the 2G spectrum case. We have been told to only probe Batcha's suicide." 

Reha Banu appeared upset during the questioning, police said. They also quoted her as saying that the money he had dreamt of making claimed his life. "Driver Salim was very loyal initially and Batcha took him along on business trips. But when Batcha left his briefcase containing Rs 6 crore in his car and came home, Salim took it and never returned. I insisted that he file a police complaint but Batcha ignored it as the driver belonged to his hometown Lebbai Kudi Kadu near Perambalur," Reha Banu was quoted as saying by the police. 

Another police officer, assigned to look into Batcha's mobile call records, said, "Batcha spoke to his close friend Subramanian Subbudu at least 40 times on March 15, a day before his suicide. He even mentioned Subbudu in his suicide note, which was found in his room on March 16." 

Subramanian had also been questioned by the CBI in connection with the 2G spectrum scam case. "Subramanian and Batcha jointly started Sadiq Real Estate Agency on Elambalur Road in Perambalur. Batcha later moved to Chennai and started Green House Promoters and made Raja's wife and a few others directors of the company," the officer said.

Army probe faults 10 top officers in Adarsh building scam

NEW DELHI: An Army court of inquiry (CoI) has found two former Army chiefs, Gen Deepak Kapoor and Gen N C Vij, and several other senior Army officers responsible for the Adarsh housing society scam. 

The CoI probing the scam, which was exposed by The Times of India, has said the conduct of several top Army officers—among them the two ex-Army chiefs, four lieutenant generals and three major generals—was "blame-worthy". This is the first time that so many top Army officers have been indicted by an Army court. 

Apart from Gen Kapoor and Gen Vij, the other officers blackballed by the CoI include Lt Gen G S Sihota, Lt Gen P K Rampal, Lt Gen Shantanu Choudhry , Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, Maj Gen Ram Kanwar Hooda, Maj Gen A R Kumar, Major Gen V S Yadav and Maj Gen Tej Kishen Kaul. 

The CoI report was recently submitted to the defence ministry. The Army has recommended that the CBI should be asked to look into specific evidences established by the CoI against the officers, most of whom are retired. Three serving officers found "blame-worthy'" would face Army punishment, most likely administrative action such as loss of seniority, sources said. 

The possibility of a full-fledged court-martial is being ruled out for now. The Army had constituted a three-member CoI in December last year in Pune, the headquarters of Southern Army Command, in the wake of TOI's expose of senior Army officers who overlooked objections or played along with the lead players of the housing scam and received apartments in the upscale Mumbai complex. 

The senior-most serving officer figuring in the list of those against whom prima facie evidence has been found by the CoI is Major Gen Ram Kanwar Hooda, who was the General Officer Commanding, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, until a few months ago. 

Gen Hooda owns at least one flat in Adarsh complex. The Army headquarters has already taken him off the list of those to be considered for next rank. He is to retire this month-end. He could also be summoned for further Army disciplinary action, sources said. 

In the dock 

Gen Nirmal Chander Vij 

Gen Deepak Kapoor 

Lt Gen G S Sihota 

Lt Gen P K Rampal 

Lt Gen Shantanu Choudhry 

Lt Gen Tejinder Singh 

Maj Gen Ram Kanwar Hooda 

Maj Gen A R Kumar 

Maj Gen V S Yadav 

Maj Gen Tej Kishen Kaul.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sensex moves northward on fresh buying

Mumbai: The BSE benchmark Sensex shrugged off initial losses and was up by 165 points in early trade Wednesday on the back of renewed buying in banking, FMCG, healthcare and metal stocks.

The Sensex, which shed 16.26 points at the onset of trade, bounced back to trade higher by 172.75 points, or 0.96 percent, at 18,161.05 at 1000 hrs.

Similarly, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty rose by 57.75 points, or 1.06 percent, to 5,471.60.

Brokers said a recovery in financial, healthcare and metal sector stocks helped the Sensex trade notably higher.

The BSE banking index rose by 1.40 per cent to 12,407.95, with the country's largest lender State Bank of India gaining 0.43 percent to Rs 2,632.10, while private lender ICICI Bank rose by 2.26 percent to Rs 1,026.

Shares of health care companies were also in better form after the government decided to roll back 5 percent service tax imposed on private hospitals with 25-bed or more capacity.

The healthcare index was up by 1.08 percent at 5,922.35 at 1000 hours, with stocks of Fortis Healthcare rising by 0.13 percent to Rs 151.50 and Piramal Healthcare up by 1.55 percent at Rs 478.80.

Sugar sector stocks also evoked good buying support after the government allowed sugar export of up to 5 lakh tonnes.

Among the Sensex pack, 16 stocks advanced, while the rest declined. Hero Honda Motors (up 1.11 percent) and Jindal Steel and Power (up 1.03 per cent) gained in the early trade.

In contrast, Mahindra & Mahindra (down 1.46 percent), and TCS (down 0.66 percent) were among the prominent losers.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares dropped in early trade Wednesday, surrendering a portion of Tuesday's large gains, with the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake still weighing on some shares.

The Nikkei 225 average was down 1.21 per cent, though most other Asian shares rose. Key benchmark indices in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and China rose between 0.12 percent and 0.78 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng, however, fell by 0.21 percent.

Few Japanese knew of nuclear danger

FUKUSHIMA, Japan — When the massive earthquake and tsunami rocked northeast Japan on March 11, residents who had been prepared by years of drills knew exactly what to do: They scrambled for cover until the shaking stopped, then ran for higher ground to avoid the giant wave.

But when word came that the disasters had left the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant leaking radiation, residents were baffled. Should they run? Stay indoors? Drink the water? Eat the food?Story: Worries over husband, home at Japan evacuation center

Japan, famous for drilling its citizens on how to prepare for all manner of natural disasters, has done far less to prepare those who live near its many nuclear reactors for emergencies. This has left neighbors of the crippled Fukushima power station confused, misinformed and angry in the face of the country's worst-ever nuclear crisis.

"The only time I ever learned anything in school about nuclear stuff was when we studied about Chernobyl in history class," said Chiyo Maeda, a bank clerk who lived only 16 miles (25 kilometers) from the plant before her home was destroyed by the tsunami. "If we had known more before this happened, maybe we could have reacted more calmly."

Japan takes disaster preparedness seriously. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese take part in an annual drill every Sept. 1 — the anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake in Tokyo that killed 142,000 people. The exercise, which usually involves the military and civilians — including the prime minister — has sometimes even seen participation by the U.S. Navy.

And yet, in dozens of interviews with The Associated Press, residents evacuated from the most dangerous areas said they never received any information about how to avoid the radiation threat in an emergency, a basic requirement in some other countries that operate nuclear power facilities. Video: Nukes expert: ‘Not out of the woods yet’ (on this page)

They hadn't heard of any drills organized by the government or the power company that runs the plant. And they were mystified by the radiation readings and technical language used by officials to explain the crisis.

'No one ever expected this' 
Yuji Kusano, a maintenance worker at the doomed plant, said staffers were trained for fires and emergencies. "But nothing was done to educate the residents nearby," he said. "I just think no one ever expected this."

Government and utility officials conceded they did not have the resources, nor did they think it was necessary, to distribute pamphlets or conduct a public awareness campaign on what to do in the event of a nuclear emergency, except in the immediate vicinity of the plant.

Fukushima prefecture distributes leaflets in newspapers twice a month to 20,000 households immediately around the nuclear plant with basic instructions, like close the windows and stay inside. But that's only a fraction of the 245,000-or-so people living within 19 miles (30 kilometers) of the plant who have either been told to evacuate or stay indoors since the crisis began.

Takeyoshi Murakami, a prefectural official in charge of nuclear safety, conceded that authorities would have to review the entire public outreach program. "Nobody anticipated it would cover such a large area," he said. Interactive: Crisis in Japan (on this page)

Yoshihiro Amano, a grocery store owner about 3½ miles (6 kilometers) from the reactors, said he never paid much attention to them. "They mainly just said everything was safe" about the reactors, he said.

And though they did hold a drill three years ago at the Fukushima plant, only a tiny fraction of residents in the danger zone participated, while others had no idea it was even held.

"We have no manual on what to do in case of a nuclear accident," said Yukio Nishiyama, a disaster prevention official in Tamura, a city of about 41,000 that lies partly within the zone where officials have told residents to stay indoors. "So far the only thing we can do is just follow instructions from the government."

Varying requirements 
Other countries have varying requirements for nuclear emergency preparedness.

In the U.S., nuclear plants are required to provide annual detailed emergency plans to residents within the 10-mile (16-kilometer) evacuation zone. The Indian Point nuclear plant near New York City, which has preparedness plans typical of other U.S. nuclear sites, sends manuals to every resident and business in the evacuation zone explaining everything from evacuation procedures to the usefulness of potassium iodide pills in helping prevent radiation-induced thyroid cancer. Residents can sign up to receive warnings by telephone or email and there is a warning siren for those in the evacuation area.

In Britain, plant operators are required to distribute information to surrounding residents, including basic facts about radiation and its effects, and what to do in an emergency.

An internal disaster management plan for Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant obtained by the AP outlined contingency plans, coordination with the government and employee education about nuclear accidents. But the 82-page plan devoted only one sentence and four brief bullet points to the subject of public preparedness, including the need to inform people about radioactivity and the special nature of nuclear disasters.

Japan requires nuclear plants to hold disaster prevention exercises, but preparedness generally does not involve the general public, government officials and executives at Tokyo Electric acknowledged.

Yuhei Sato, Fukushima's governor, said nuclear accident drills are held once a year, but only for selected local representatives.

"We can't possibly do them for tens of thousands of people," he told the AP.

Japan's Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama said the government and nuclear operators hold drills several times a year, including an annual nationwide exercise headed by the prime minister. Still, he acknowledged more must be done to raise public awareness.

'We should learn a lesson' 
"Even though we try to provide information regarding nuclear accidents as much as possible, it would have been difficult for most residents to anticipate a crisis like this to actually happen in their neighborhood," he said. "I think we should learn a lesson from what happened and review our contingency plans."

But even the most detailed preparedness can't solve one major problem: Many people simply don't pay attention until disaster strikes.

"Getting people to actually come for a briefing or participate in a drill or whatever is like pulling teeth," said Matthew Bunn, professor of public policy at Harvard University. "People who live near nuclear power plants usually don't know a whole lot more than other people do, about what the risks are or what the procedures would be, if there were a crisis."

Officials did hold a drill at Fukushima in 2008 that involved 4,000 people, including 1,800 residents from nearby towns.

The mock scenario was based on one of the reactors losing its cooling capacity and releasing radiation — similar to the current situation. The exercise was intended to give people more information about how they could protect themselves in an emergency, evacuation procedures and what medical assistance is available for radiation exposure.

In an evaluation report written after the drill, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said there was a need for better public education. But none of that appears to have trickled down to the people now affected by the disaster.

"Nobody here knows what a microsievert is," said 59-year-old Tomio Hirota, referring to the unit used to measure a dose of radiation. "I had never heard of that until all this happened. We don't understand what's going on, so we worry."

Chiho Watanabe, a teacher in Fukushima, said the school has regular fire and earthquake drills, but had done nothing to plan for a nuclear crisis. Nor did it have any monitoring devices for radiation.

"We had done absolutely nothing to prepare for a nuclear crisis. This experience serves as a lesson for us that we need to be better prepared," Watanabe said. "I hope others around the world who live near nuclear plants will study what happened here and learn from it.

Getting better, clearer information to the public could not come too soon for Yumiko Ogata, a rice and vegetable farmer in Fukushima who is worried that radiation, which has already contaminated water, milk and some vegetables, could destroy her own livelihood growing radishes and lettuce.

"I guess we just trusted the government that the nuclear plants were safe," she said. "What else could we do? The nuclear facilities never instructed us that we needed to be ready for something like this."

Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi, Tomoko A. Hosaka, Shino Yuasa and Joji Sakurai in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Syrian forces kill 6 at protest site, residents say

DAMASCUS — Syrian forces killed at least six people Wednesday in an attack on the Omari mosque in the southern city of Deraa, site of six days of unprecedented protests challenging Baath Party rule, residents said.

Those killed included Ali Ghassab al-Mahamid, a doctor from a prominent Deraa family who went to the mosque in the city's old quarter to help victims of the attack, residents said.

It was not immediately clear whether the protesters had any weapons.

The attack, which occurred shortly after midnight, brought to 10 the number of civilians killed by Syrian forces in confrontations with protesters calling for political freedoms and an end to corruption.

It came a day after the U.N. Office for Human Rights said the authorities "need to put an immediate halt to the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, especially the use of live ammunition."

The protesters, who erected tents in the mosque's grounds, said earlier they were going to remain at the site until their demands were met.

Before the attack, electricity was cut off in the area and telephone services were severed.

Cries of "Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest)" erupted across neighborhoods in Deraa when the shooting began.

On Tuesday, Vice President Farouq al-Shara said President Bashar al-Assad was committed to "continue the path of reform and modernization in Syria," Lebanon's al-Manar television reported.

A main demand of the protesters is an end to what they term repression by the secret police, headed in Deraa province by a cousin of Assad, who faces the biggest challenge to his rule since succeeding his father, Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

Authorities arrested a leading campaigner who had supported the protesters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It said Loay Hussein, a political prisoner from 1984 to 1991, was taken from his home near Damascus.

Syria has been under emergency law since the Baath Party took power in 1963, banning any opposition and ushering in decades of economic retreat characterized by nationalization.

Assad, who lifted some bans on private enterprise after he took power, has ignored increasing demands to end emergency law, curb Syria's pervasive security apparatus, develop rule of law, free thousands of political prisoners, allow freedom of expression and reveal the fate of tens of thousands of dissenters who disappeared in the 1980s.

DMK minister's assets rose 780 times in 5 years

CHENNAI: In five years of DMK rule, a state minister has multiplied his assets 780 times. At least that's what the official figures show. 

Tamil Nadu food minister EV Velu, contesting from Tiruvannamalai assembly segment, declared at the time of the 2006 assembly polls that his assets were worth around Rs one lakh. Apart from a 1.1-acre agricultural plot in Pinjur village worth Rs 60,000, Velu had shown cash deposits of Rs 25,000 and jewellery worth Rs 15,000 five years ago. As per his affidavit, his wife did not own any assets then. 

Now, five years later, the affidavit filed by Velu on Monday shows his assets have multiplied in every form - land, buildings, jewellery and cash deposits. The 60-year-old minister and his wife are currently worth Rs 7.8 crore. He has bank deposits running into Rs 17.47 lakh, agricultural lands worth Rs 1.75 crore, buildings worth Rs 1.25 crore and a house valued at Rs 4.5 crore. In addition, his wife has jewellery that costs Rs 5.76 lakh and agricultural land worth Rs five lakh. 

Asked about the astronomical rise in his fortunes and the source of income that helped him accumulate assets, Velu told TOI, "My assets have gone up primarily owing to the increase in their market value. The new EC guidelines which seek more information is another reason for my showing more assets. My accounts are audited regularly and I am an income tax assessee (in the 2006 affidavit he claimed that he was not an assessee) for the past 10 years. My main source of income is from agriculture. I can only say that my auditor prepared the asset details." 

The Election Commission of India has made it mandatory for all candidates contesting polls to declare their assets as well as those of their spouses, children and other dependents. State labour minister T M Anbarasan, contesting from Pallavaram assembly segment, has also seen a considerable appreciation in wealth during the five years in the state cabinet. His listed assets have increased in value from Rs 91.49 lakh in 2006 to Rs 4.95 crore in 2011. They include those owned by his wife. One of the additions is a Mitsubishi Pajero, valued at Rs 22.9 lakh. He has also bought two buildings worth Rs 25 lakh at Kundrathur in 2008 while his cash deposits have gone up from Rs 10,866 to Rs 20.6 lakh.

Bengal worse than Gujarat for Muslims?

NEW DELHI: These are figures the Left Frontshould be wary of as it prepares to defend its citadel of 34 years in West Bengal. 

An analysis of data on the Muslim community released by the chief economist of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, Abu Saleh Sheriff, reveals that the state's minority has benefited little from development measures. In terms of human development indices, the Muslims have fared very poorly. 

Of the 25.2% Muslim population, only 2.1% have government jobs and 50% children are out of school at the primary level. Only 12% go on to complete matriculation. These numbers are all the more astonishing given the fact that Left swears by its secular credentials and positions itself as a protector of minority rights. 

Alarm bells have already started ringing, especially after a postmortem of the Left's poor showing in the civic elections last year. An important factor which could have resulted in the dismal performance was Muslim disenchantment. In what may be viewed as the party's efforts to make amends, there is a steep 33% hike in the number of Muslim candidates fielded by Left Front. It has gone up from 42 in 2006 to 56 this time in the 292-member Assembly. 

Throughout his lecture, Sheriff — who has also been the member secretary of the Sachar panel — spoke of Gujarat and West Bengal in the same breath. In fact, he used the data to project the Left-ruled state in a far worse light than the state ruled by Narendra Modi, not regarded by many as a benefactor of the minorities. And this comparison appeared all the more relevant because the West Bengal government had gone out of its way to provide shelter to Qutubuddin Ansari, the man who became the face of the post-Godhra riots with his folded hands and tearful eyes. 

"If a substantial fraction of the state's 25% Muslim population have traditionally voted for the alliance it could be because of the projected gains of the land reforms even though if you look at the figures, it shows that these reforms do not seem to have made any significant difference to the living standards of the community. With the elections coming, it is time this reality is brought to the knowledge of the public," Sheriff said. He was addressing a seminar on "Relative development of West Bengal and Socio-Religious Differentials" organized by the Institute of Objective Studies at theIndia Islamic Cultural Cultural Centre. 

Shariff's figures on education, sourced, according to him from the census database and the Planning Commission, show 50% Muslim children attend school at the primary level, 26% remain in middle school and only 12% complete matriculation against 54%, 30% and 13% respectively for SC/STs and 80%, 58% and 38% for others. 

Of the 90 minority-concentrated districts in the country, West Bengal has 12. "The worst are the state government employment figures where even Gujarat with its 9.1% Muslim population and with a 5.4% share in jobs is way ahead of West Bengal which is by far the worst in the country. We had to try very hard to get these figures out from the state government because, for obvious reasons, they are very secretive about this," Shariff said.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

India vs Australia: We are a better side, says Sourav Ganguly

Former captain Sourav Ganguly on Monday saidTeam India have the ability to beat Australia in theWorld Cup quarterfinals in Ahmedabad on Thursday, maintaining 'M.S. Dhoni's men are a better side'.

Sourav's team had lost to Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting's side in both the league match and the final in WC 2003. 

On being asked if India can beat Australia in what is being called a revenge game, Sourav told Headlines Today Executive Editor Rahul Kanwal, "Yes, there is no doubt about it. India have a good chance of beating Australia. India is a better side."

Speaking on India's prime hope against the Aussies, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav said, "I don't mind him failing against the West Indies. Every time he has got out cheaply, he comes out all guns blazing (referring to his two centuries against England and South Africa in this WC) in next match. I hope to see him putting India in a good position against the Aussies."

Tendulkar had failed to score big in both the games in WC 2003, when India won all their matches, except against the Aussies. 

India's only WC winning captain Kapil Dev also said, "They have the ability to do it (beat the Aussies)."

Shah Rukh Khan abandons Twitter, joins Facebook

Even as almost every big Bollywood star has been active on micro-blogging site Twitter, actor Shah Rukh Khan seems to have abandoned it (his last tweet, as appearing on the site on Monday, was posted on January 2).

Having over 8 lakh followers on Twitter, the news might shock his fans but SRK has joined popular social networking site Facebook instead. He however said that he would go back to Twitter as he has promised to do so.

"I went on Twitter for two reasons -- one, Karan told me and... I'll go back to it because I have promised one gentleman," SRK told Headlines Today recently admitting abandoning the micro-blogging site.

Reasoning it he said, "I have enough faces and names not liking me and saying it on my face. I'm ok with that, I can deal with that. But when it became nameless and faceless people saying things to me 'oh you are saying this because this is the agenda attached to it'... because people like to believe that if you are a movie star then you are manipulative, you have some agenda, that's why you are talking about."

"Like, suppose I write '@India Today Conclave having fun', somebody would write 'oh he is trying to show off that he was called to India Today Conclave and somebody else wasn't' or something nonsense. I started finding it ochha (cheap). I said I'm not going on this (Twitter). And there are only two people maybe out of 100 who are saying this but I'm over sensitive," Khan added.

Asked if he would be back on Twitter, the actor referred to a recent interview wherein he had promised to do so.

On the other side, SRK recently surprised his fans by joining Facebook. His Facebook page was inaugurated on Sunday with the online premiere of his 22-minute documentary on Mughal-e-Azam, which celebrates 51 years of the classic directed by K. Asif.

Khan would also be promoting his upcoming film Ra.One on Facebook.

MIT award for 18 top Indian techies

A synthesiser inspired by physicist Stephen Hawking's talking gadget, a cell phone system that gives alerts on cooking gas cylinder leaks and robots that perform root canal treatment and underwater clean- up - innovations such as these have won a bunch of young Indian techies a prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT) award.

TR35, a MIT Technology Review initiative, will honour this year's 18 top Indian innovators - who are aged under 35 - here on Tuesday.

Over two days, these young women and men will share the stage with top scientists. The innovators have been selected for developing technological solutions to common problems and their contributions hold great promise, the award jury said.

The innovations will change the world of many people. Rohit Jain, born in Chennai with cerebral palsy that affected his brain and immobilised him into silence, finished high school last year thanks to one of these gadgets.

Jain now studies Sociology at Loyola College, Chennai.

Made by a team of IIT Madras graduates, AVAZ - a custommade speech synthesiser - is now available for tests in institutions like Delhi's Tamanna special school.

AVAZ helps the children convert their gestures with head or fingers into speech with the aid of a micro- processor and sensors.

Ajit Narayanan, the key person behind AVAZ, has won this year's TR- 35 Innovator of the Year award.

Gautam Kumar, 26, of RoboticWares, Bhubaneshwar, won the Social Innovator award for a gadget that detects the smell of a LPG leakage. And it automatically sends text messages to five designated people over their cell phones.

The trigger for the device was a Bhubaneshwar blast that reminded Kumar's colleague Kushal Nahata of an earlier blast at Chandni Chowk in Delhi, where his parents lived.

Deepak Ravindran, 22, of Innoz Technologies in Gurgaon, won the telecom prize for a text- based cell phone search engine.

SMSGyan is a platform that can work with different databases to give answers of up to 500 characters - from dictionaries, cricket, stock market and gadgets price lists.

The digital slate developed by Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan of Microsoft Research Lab in Bangalore finds application in Kalahandi, Orissa, among poor people.

" Earlier self- help group members had to write out their accounts and leave a copy in a box," Sabyasachi Kar of the NGO Pradan, said. A messenger would collect them and take it to a far- away place with computer and electricity every week. Now the local women just have to place a plain paper on the new slate and enter data with a special pen.

Sameer Jain - of MGV Dental College, Nashik - won an award for his root canal machine. Then, there are robots that go underwater and those that clean ducts.

Others have developed technologies to secure Internet service provider's routing network and make printing ink eco- friendly.

Technology Review India Editor Srinivas Rao who led the project said: " It is heartening to see an increase in technology innovation in India."

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