Singhvi rejects criticism of delay in tabling report on Lokpal
New Delhi: Parliamentary Committee chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Tuesday rejected criticism of delay in tabling the report on Lokpal Bill in Parliament and said only a procedural extension of a few days was being sought.
Singhvi, who met vice-president and Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari apparently on the issue of seeking one more extension to table the report in Parliament, said the “procedural extension” sought for translation of the report and its binding should not be termed as a delay.
Placards showing pictures of social activist Anna Hazare. Photo: Reuters
“If the report is adopted tomorrow, then very soon, in the next two to three days, it will be tabled in Parliament,” he told reporters after meeting Ansari.
He said perhaps no other Parliamentary committee has completed a report on such a “vast and complicated” subject in two-and-a-half months time.
The Lokpal Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice in August this year and given three months time to submit its report. On 9 November the committee’s deadline on submission of report on Lokpal Bill was extended till 7 December. (PTI)
Power ministry seeks legal opinion over CAG queries on Sasan UMPP
New Delhi: The government has sought a legal opinion on the comptroller and auditor general’s observations on the Rs 20,000 crore Sasan ultra-mega power project (UMPP) in Madhya Pradesh.
Responding to a query on the legal issues related to the Sasan UMPP on which the attorney general of India’s opinion was solicited, power ninister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters on the sidelines of an Assocham event, “The CAG was enquiring about the PFC (Power Finance Corporation) records. Some problems have come up, we pointed them out to the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM). On that, we are seeking legal opinion.”
In a meeting late Monday night, the EGoM headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee asked the power ministry to seek the attorney general’s opinion on the 4,000-MW Sasan UMPP.
The EGoM comprising Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, power minister Sushilkumar Shinde and coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal is also believed to have discussed the progress of the Sasan (Madhya Pradesh), Mundra (Gujarat), Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Tilaiya (Jharkhand) ultra-mega power projects.
PFC, the nodal agency for UMPPs in the country, has so far allotted four such projects, three of which have been bagged by Reliance Power - Sasan, Krishnapatnam and Tilaiya. One such project, at Mundra, has been bagged by Tata Power. (PTI)
AP Assembly: Kiran Kumar govt survives no-confidence motion
Hyderabad: The Kiran Kumar Reddy government has defeated a no-confidence motion moved against it by the Telugu Desam Party by a margin of 38 votes after a marathon 16-hour debate in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.
While 122 MLAs voted in favour of the no-confidence motion last night, 160 voted against it and one legislator was neutral.
As many as 16 Congress MLAs also voted in favour of the motion. These MLAs have been sailing with YSR Congress of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy for sometime now. One Congress MLA walked out of the House minutes before voting began. (PTI)
RIM appoints Sunil Dutt as MD
New Delhi: BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) on Tuesday announced the appointment of Sunil Dutt as its managing director (MD) for India.
Dutt is an industry veteran with 27 years of extensive experience in the Indian mobile technology and telecom sector.
“Dutt brings a wealth of experience to RIM. His strong managerial and communication skills, as well as an institutional understanding of the technology and telecom sector, will be instrumental in driving the next stage of our business’ growth in India,” said Urpo Karjalainen, senior vice-president (APAC) for RIM. (PTI)
Bashir tipped to become Pak’s High Commissioner in India
Islamabad: Foreign secretary Salman Bashir is set to become Pakistan’s high commissioner in India as part of the biggest reshuffle of envoys approved by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, according to a media report on Tuesday.
Bashir, 59, who is due to retire next year, will replace High Commissioner Shahid Malik, whose current contract is valid till the second quarter of next year. Malik retired some time ago and his contract has been periodically renewed for six months at a stretch.
Malik could be replaced by Bashir before the expiry of the contractual period of the high commissioner, The News daily quoted its sources as saying.
Gilani had decided that no envoy who is currently on a contract would be given further extensions. (PTI)
Afghanistan opens bids on gold, copper deposits
Kabul: Afghanistan has opened bids on copper and gold deposits in four areas of the country that together are roughly half the size of the Grand Canyon. Afghanistan hopes its budding mining industry will generate billions in revenue to help rebuild the nation after 30 years of war.
The Afghan ministry of mines on Tuesday opened bids for multiple contracts to unearth copper and gold hidden beneath 2,191 square kilometres in Badakhshan, Ghazni and Herat provinces and a fourth area that spans both Balkh and Sar-e-Pul provinces.
The US defence department put a $1 trillion price tag on Afghanistan’s deposits of iron ore, copper, gold and other minerals. (AP)
Merck to invest $1.5 bln for R&D in China
Hong Kong: Merck & Co Inc said on Thursday that it will establish a new Asian R&D headquarters in Beijing and commit $1.5 billion to research and development in China over the next five years.
In an interview with the news agency in late 2010, the company said it expected emerging markets to make up a bigger part of total revenue in coming years because of an explosion in chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
It said seven countries - Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and Turkey - were especially important.
By the end of 2010, emerging markets were responsible for about 18% of overall global business and that figure was estimated to grow to 25% by 2013, the company said.
The United States (US) is Merck’s largest market, generating between 40 and 45% of revenue. (Reuters)
Gold weakens after S&P downgrade warning
Singapore: US gold fell 1% and spot gold lost 0.5% on Tuesday in thin trade, as fears of a possible credit rating downgrade for euro zone nations by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) weighed.
The ratings agency announced the warning just as leaders of France and Germany agreed a master plan involving treaty change to impose budget discipline across the euro zone, ahead of a key European Union (EU) summit on Friday.
Lack of swift action on the two-year-old euro zone debt crisis would not only split up the 17-nation single currency bloc, but also endanger the global economy. (Reuters)
Diamond demand to outpace supply growth to 2020: Bain
London: Chinese and Indian appetite for diamonds will fuel demand growth of more than 6% a year over the next decade and almost double the size of the market, far outpacing supply increases limited by a lack of new mines, Bain & Company said in a report.
That is set to hold up prices even through periods of volatility and could be supported by additional demand for diamonds as investment, the management consulting firm said.
The concept of diamonds as a potential investment commodity has long been debated, but - unlike for gold and silver - difficulties with valuation, the lack of a spot market and a lack of liquidity means efforts to create diamond funds have struggled.
Bain, however, said industry efforts to increase transparency could help attract investors to individual, high-end polished gems, with the lack of supply also making top quality diamonds increasingly rare. (Reuters)
Flipboard app launches first international edition in China
Shanghai: Popular Apple iPad news application, Flipboard, said on Tuesday it has partnered with China’s Sina Corp and Renren Inc to launch a Chinese edition of the application to woo users in the world’s largest Internet market.
Flipboard’s chief executive officer (CEO) tweeted in May this year that the application, which integrates Facebook, was blocked in China. Beijing fears that unfettered access to the Internet will lead to social instability and thus blocks Facebook and Twitter on the mainland.
However, the Chinese edition of Flipboard, the first international edition for the application, will feature Chinese content and integrate posts shared on Sina’s microblog Weibo and status updates from Facebook clone Renren.
“We chose China for our first international edition because we had a unique opportunity to create an amazing experience with Sina and Renren. Also, China has the second largest Apple App Store in the world and it’s one of the fastest growing markets for the iPad,” said Mike. (Reuters)
South Korea eyes steps to spur home transactions
Seoul: South Korea plans to abolish punitive capital gains taxes on those owning two or more homes as part of steps to be unveiled on Wednesday to spur home transactions, media reported on Tuesday.
A media official at the ministry of land, transport and maritime said the government plans to announce measures to help boost the depressed housing market but refused to confirm the reports, saying details have yet to be finalised.
Yonhap news agency and other media cited unnamed government officials as saying the government plans to abolish the policy of levying 50% or 60 % capital gains tax when multiple-home owners sell their homes.
The tax rates are much higher than the rate of between 6% and 35% applied to single-home owners and were introduced before the 2008-2009 global crisis to calm the then-overheated property market. (Reuters)
Japan sees atomic power cost up by at least 50% by 2030
Tokyo: The cost of nuclear generated electricity in Japan is set to skyrocket due to the Fukushima disaster but will remain cheaper than alternative energy sources, according to government estimates quoted by the Nikkei newspaper.
The government panel has estimated that nuclear generated electricity will soar by at least 50% and perhaps by as much as 70% by 2030 compared to 2004 levels, the Nikkei said, quoting a draft of the report.
The projections from the panel will help Japan formulate a new energy policy by next summer as its reassesses the role of nuclear power in the wake of the world’s worst atomic disaster in 25 years.
After the disaster, then prime minister Naoto Kan floated ambitious targets for renewable energy, pledging to wean Japan away from atomic power but his successor Yoshihiko Noda has not gone that far, only acknowledging that public concerns will make it tough to build new reactors.
Prior to the diaster, Japan had planned to raise the share or nuclear generated power to 53% from a third by 2030. (Reuters)
Nixon’s tilt towards Pak, China led India to 1st nuclear test
Washington: US tilt towards Pakistan and its overtures to China in the early 70s apparently led India to go ahead with the decision to conduct its first nuclear test in Pokharan in 1974, which caught the entire western intelligence by surprise.
A secret State Department intelligence note, dated 14 January 1972, acknowledged that US policy had an impact on India’s decision making on nuclear weapons, saying there was “little doubt” that the then president Richard Nixon’s announcement of his trip to China changed New Delhi’s calculations.
The late US president, who was forced to step down in the wake of Watergate scandal, had troubled relations with India because of his tilt towards Pakistan in the 1971 Indo-Pak war and his moves to reconcile with China.
Declassified American documents of the era reveal that as of early 1971, all evidence indicated that the government of India had decided to defer indefinitely the development and explosion of a test device.
“In early August, however, the cabinet undertook a review of Indian nuclear policy in the wake of President Nixon’s 16 July announcement of his proposed trip to China. There can be little doubt that the 16 July announcement has had major implications for India’s security calculations and its nuclear policy,” the six-page intelligence note said, which was released by the National Security Archive.
“In New Delhi’s view, the announcement appeared to rule out all hope that India (not a signatory to the NPT) could anticipate a joint US-Soviet umbrella against the threat of Chinese nuclear attack,” it said, adding that the decision to detonate a nuclear device may have been triggered by the deepening crisis in Indo-Pakistani relations. (PTI)
Aus defence minister rules out uranium export to Pakistan
Melbourne: Australian defence minister Stephen Smith, who had pitched for reversing ruling Labor party’s policy on uranium export to India, has ruled out similar treatment to Pakistan, citing its poor proliferation record.
Strongly backing Labor Party’s decision on Sunday to export uranium to India despite it being a non signatory to the Nuclear Non proliferation Treaty, Smith said he did not support uranium exports to Pakistan.
Smith, who is set to leave for India on Tuesday, said he was a strong supporter of uranium export to India, calling it an exceptional case.
“India brought itself under the governance of the international nuclear regulators, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Smith said. “That has not occurred with Pakistan. There has never been a suggestion of (nuclear) proliferation from India,” he said adding, “Regrettably, over preceding years, there have been serious concerns about proliferation from Pakistan.” (PTI)