New Delhi: Amid all the hullabaloo and competing claims by various political parties, the government has decided not to confer the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, this year. This is the seventh year in a row that no one has been named for the award.
On Friday, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil approved the list of civilian honours, naming 13 people for the second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, 35 for Padma Bhushan, and 71 for Padma Shri.
Big winner: Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata is among those chosen for the Padma Vibhusan. (Photo: Ramesh Pathania/ Mint )
Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, hotelier P.R.S. Oberoi, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, Infosys Technologies Ltd founder N.R. Narayana Murthy and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee are among those chosen for the Padma Vibhushan.
Mt Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary, who died this month, cricketerSachin Tendulkar, Delhi Metro Rail Corp. Ltd chairman E. Sreedharan and film playback singer Asha Bhosle also feature in the list of the second highest civilian honour.
Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, will be conferred on eminent economist and professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, Lord Meghnad Desai, for his contribution to public affairs, and K.V. Kamath, managing director and CEO of the country’s biggest private lender ICICI Bank Ltd, for trade and industry. Thirty-three others from diverse fields such as art, literature, education, sports, science and technology have been named for the award. The prestigious Padma Shri ward will go to Amit Mitra, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, ophthalmologist Dr Tatyarao Pundlikrao of the Sir J.J. Hospital in Mumbai, University Grants Commission chairman Prof. Sukhdeo Thorat and social worker Sister Karuna Mary Braganza.
Nationwide stir hits banking operations
Mumbai:Banking operations across the country were hit on Friday due to a strike by bank employees opposing the country’s largest lender State Bank of India’s (SBI) merger proposals with its associate banks, demanding a second pension option, appointment on compassionate grounds, and early settlement on wage revision.
The strike, called by United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), was observed by about 1 million employees, including officers. UFBU comprises nine all-India unions and organizations. The strike not only affected public sector banks, but all foreign banks and some private banks also remained closed. However, some new private banks such as ICICI Bank Ltd, Axis Bank Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd and Yes Bank Ltd functioned as usual as they don’t have unions. “Nothing is working today. Only people who are not part of any union have come. Branches are closed as we could not even manage a skeleton staff,” said an executive with a public sector bank.
Carrefour to enter Indian mkt: Embassy
New Delhi: France’s Carrefour SA, the world’s second largest retailer, plans to enter the cash-and-carry market in India, and is in final negotiations to pick a partner for other retail stores, a French Embassy statement said on Friday.
“Carrefour confirms its decision to enter the Indian market with cash-and-carry stores and confirms it is in the final round of negotiation to select an Indian franchisee partner for all other retail stores,” the statement said. It was issued at a meeting of Indian and French business leaders in New Delhi.
Foreign multiple-brand retailers are only permitted franchise and licence operations in India, besides wholesale.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a venture with Bharti Enterprises Ltd for cash-and-carry. Metro AG and Shoprite Holdings Ltd also operate cash-and-carry stores. Mint had reported in November that Carrefour was in talks with real estate firm Parsvnath Developers Ltd about setting up hypermarkets in India.
BJP leaders meet to chalk out poll plan
New Delhi: Can the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat serve as a template for the upcoming elections in five key state assemblies later this year, and the Parliament, scheduled for next year?
In the first full-scale intra-party deliberation since naming L.K. Advani as the prime ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance, the BJP is expected to debate this at a one-day meeting of its national executive, followed by a two-day meeting of its national council in New Delhi from 27 January. Fresh from its victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the principal opposition party is keen to replicate the Gujarat model of focus on economic development, coupled with a tough stance on terrorism. Outlining the agenda of the three-day meetings, party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the national executive would discuss resolutions to be presented at the national council, which is to be attended by about 4,000 party delegates.
Bird flu spreads, rain hampers culling
Kolkata: Health authorities battled on Friday to stop the country’s worst bird flu outbreak from spreading to the densely populated city of Kolkata as heavy rain hampered culling efforts.
The disease has spread to more than half?of Bengal, including areas just 20km from Kolkata, since the presence of the deadly H5N1 strain in dead chickens was first confirmed more than a week ago.
“The government has banned the smuggling of chicken to city markets from affected areas,” said state animal resources minister Anisur Rahaman.
India has so far not had any cases of bird flu among humans. But Rahaman said he feared the disease would spread to humans.
Feedback invited on workings of AICTE
New Delhi: In an effort to improve the functioning of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development has invited suggestions from the public.
In a notice published in some national newspapers on Thursday, the panel said interested organizations, institutions, and individuals could send their comments on the working of AICTE and suggestions for improvement. These could be sent to J. Sundriyal, joint director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat, or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org within 15 days. The suggestions would form part of the records and would be treated as confidential, the notice said.
Independent News CEO?Chintamani?quits
New Delhi: The CEO of Independent News Service Pvt. Ltd, Chintamani Rao, resigned on Friday. The firm, promoted by journalist Rajat Sharma, broadcasts Hindi news channel India TV. Prior to joining India TV in September 2005, Rao was president of integrated communications at McCann Worldgroup, a leading media buying house. Independent News had said on Wednesday that Bangalore-based Shyam Equities Pvt. Ltd has picked up a 20% stake in the company for Rs100 crore, raising the valuation of the firm to Rs500 crore. Shyam Equities is promoted by entrepreneur Bharat Goenka, founder of Tally Solutions Pvt. Ltd.