New Delhi: Avoiding mention of the deadlock with Left parties over the India-US civilian nuclear deal, Congress president and chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Sonia Gandhi, in her address to the Congress Parliamentary Party on Tuesday, virtually ruled out early polls.
Instead, while attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for neglecting farmers, Gandhi exhorted her party to reach out to the people and take credit for the recent Budget, learn from the recent electoral setbacks and prepare much harder for the next elections.
“The simple lesson is that we need much harder work and meticulous preparation, much more careful selection of our candidates and strategies, much greater unity and discipline,” Gandhi said, referring to the elections held in three north-eastern states, in one of which, Tripura, the Left Front retained power for the fourth successive term and returned with a three-fourths majority.
“Inevitably, we have also to start preparing for the Lok Sabha polls next year.”
Soon after presenting the Budget, which included a Rs60,000 crore farm debt-relief package, the government had indicated that it would go ahead with the nuclear deal.
The Left parties responded by renewing their threat to withdraw support in case the government ‘operationalized’ the deal.
Parth J. Shah, president of the Centre for Civil Society, said the Congress needed more time to assess the impact of the proposals on the voters.
While V.K. Malhotra, deputy leader of the BJP in Lok Sabha, said his party was always prepared to play the role of the opposition for full five years if the UPA managed to complete its term, Gurudas Dasgupta, leader of the Communist Party of India in Lok Sabha, said he still believed the Congress wanted to advance the next polls.
“I don’t think they have given up on their plan. They designed the Budget only for this purpose,” Dasgupta said.
Govt denies World Bank report on corruption
New Delhi: Reacting to the World Bank’s DIR (detailed implementation review) report on fraud and corruption in health projects in the country, the government has categorically denied many of the findings and said the report could cause incalculable damage to the credibility of disease control programmes in future.
In its detailed reply submitted to the World Bank, the Union health ministry has said the report erroneously created an impression that the health sector delivery system in India is beset with fraud and corruption. “The DIR has done incalculable damage to the credibility of successful disease control programmes,” it said.
The delivery of health services is organic in nature and it is extremely necessary to maintain the credibility of these health programmes. “This damage would be far greater than what was sought to be fixed by the DIR,” it said.
The report was to be taken up by the World Bank at its board meeting on Tuesday which has been postponed.
“We will get the World Bank’s reaction only once they take it up,” Union health secretary Naresh Dayal said. PTI
Tata Motors plans to raise Rs4,000 crore
Mumbai: The country’s largest commercial vehicle maker, Tata Motors Ltd, on Tuesday said it plans to raise Rs4,000 crore by way of appropriate securities for its expansion plans. The company will decide the specific terms for raising these securities and a consequent increase in its authorized capital at a later date
Tata Motors is likely to ink an agreement with Ford Motor Co. to buy Jaguar and Land Rover brands as
early as in the week starting 17 March. “Whilst this (raising funds) may require incurrence of expenditure for organic growth over the next 3-4 years, the acquisition opportunities will have to be financed upfront. The said funds are being raised to part-finance overall funding requirements to meet some of the strategic plans,” Tata Motors said in a statement. Ammar Master
GMR: Begumpet airport to close from 16 March
Hyderabad: Amid demands from various quarters for continuing operations of the existing airport at Begumpet in Hyderabad, GMR Infrastructure Ltd, the developer of new international airport at Shamshabad here, said the civil aviation ministry has confirmed the closure of commercial operations at Begumpet airport from 16 March.
GMR said it has received the gazette of India notification issued by the ministry to commence operations at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad from 16 March.C.R. Sukumar
Marico sells unit to Denmark’s Good Food
Mumbai:Marico Ltd, India’s biggest maker of coconut hair oil, agreed to sell its processed foods division Sil, to Denmark’s Good Food Group A/S for an undisclosed sum.
Good Food’s Scandic Food India Pvt. unit will retain the employees at Sil, Mumbai-based Marico said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. Bloomberg
Tata Steel Q3 profit at Rs1,400 crore
Mumbai: Tata Steel Ltd, India’s biggest steelmaker, said third-quarter profit, including that of Corus Group Plc., was Rs1,400 crore.
Net sales for the three months ended 31 December was Rs31,900 crore, the Mumbai-based company said in an emailed statement. Bloomberg
Saran to be PM’s special envoy on climate change
New Delhi: Reflecting India’s seriousness to deal with the problem of climate change, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran was Tuesday named as the Prime Minister’s special envoy on the issue of critical importance.
Saran has been given the charge in addition to his role as Prime Minister’s special envoy on the nuclear issue. He will be mandated to coordinate all actions and plans on dealing with the issue. PTI
Maoists have Rs60 crore war chest, minister says
New Delhi: Maoist rebel groups, dubbed the nation’s biggest security threat by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have built up a Rs60 crore war chest to buy weapons and explosives, the government said.
The spending covers a procurement drive from 2007 to 2009, Union minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal said in a written statement in the Parliament on Tuesday, citing a Maoist insurgent arrested in Jharkhand.
Left-wing Maoist guerrillas, known as Naxalites, are active in at least 11 of the country’s 28 states, which are rich in iron ore, coal, bauxite, manganese and other minerals, and have the potential to attract billions of dollars in investment.
The Naxalites, who have waged a campaign of violence against landowners and police for more than three decades, were responsible for killing 696 people and security personnel in 2007, according to government statistics.
Maoists are now targeting vital economic infrastructure to cripple transport and slow down any developmental activity in the country. They have killed political leaders in some states. The government is trying to combat extremism through economic development measures, backed up by police action. The Centre is helping states through measures such as deploying additional forces, straightening state police and intelligence agencies and assisting in developmental works, Jaiswal said .
The term Naxalite is derived from Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal, where the Communist rebel group movement began in 1967. Bloomberg
Five firms seek govt nod for chip fab units
New Delhi: Five Indian firms, including Moser Baer Ltd and Videocon group, have applied to the Union government to set up semiconductor fabrication units, a senior official said on Tuesday.
“The total investment will be Rs40,000 crore on the plants,” Jainder Singh, secretary of the department of information technology, said on Tuesday. Reuters
Moody’s slashes outlook as credit crisis widens
New York: Moody’s Corp, the parent of credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service, slashed its 2008 profit and revenue forecasts saying credit market turmoil will persist longer than expected. “We have just a complete freeze in some market sectors, and we are trying to, frankly, catch up with that reality,” chief executive Raymond McDaniel said at a Bear Stearns and Co. meet in Palm Beach, Florida on Tuesday. “We have declining prices, we have liquidity issues, we have confidence issues.” Reuters
ING Vysya Bank seeks to double deposit base
Bangalore: After posting a 199% increase in its quarterly profit, ING Vysya Bank now expects to double its deposit base and raise its customer base over five times in two years.
The Bangalore-based bank’s deposit base stands in the excess of Rs17,000 crore as of December. The growth would come from an increase in raising deposits by the bank’s existing branches as well as from new branches, said managing director and chief executive Vaughn Richtor. The bank, which currently has 407 branches, plans to open 56 new branches across the country this year.
“We have streamlined our customer processes to increase our account generation. We will also be increasing our investment in advertising and promotion in 2008,” Richtor said. The bank has a customer base of 1.63 million and expects it to grow over a million in 24 months. Deepti Chaudhary
Russia to modernize Indian MiG fighters
Moscow: Russia’s MiG Aircraft Corp. has signed a $1 billion contract with India to upgrade 64 MiG-29 fighters it had previously sold to the country, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday. It quoted a source in the Russian defence manufacturing sector as saying the deal was signed last week in New Delhi. MiG could not immediately be contacted for comment.
Under the deal, the jets will be equipped with new Russian-made radio equipment and radar to extend their life cycle by 15 years. The modernization will be completed in two or three years, Interfax said.
India, along with China, is the leading buyer of Russian arms, including warplanes. But in the past few years, leading US and European arms producers have started challenging Russia on the lucrative Indian market.
They are now gearing up to compete for a potential $10.2 billion contract to supply the Indian Air Force with 126 new multi-role fighter aircraft.
Military analysts have said improving the servicing of the Russian jets already sold to India would help improve Russia’s chances of landing the larger contract. Reuters
India very optimistic in hiring intention: survey
New Delhi: India has emerged as the second most optimistic nation in the world in terms of employment outlook, with 36% of employers having positive hiring plans for the April-June quarter this year, says a survey.
Among the 32 countries and territories surveyed globally this quarter, hiring intentions among Indian employers continue to be the most optimistic with an overall net employment outlook of 36%, the latest ‘Manpower Employment Outlook Survey’ said.
“In terms of hiring prospects for the April-June period, Indian employers are the second most optimistic in the world, next only to Singapore. Further, India shares the second place with Peru and Romania. The sentiments of employers are buoyant...,” Manpower’s managing director Naresh Malhan said.
Mining and construction sector witnessed the most optimistic outlook of 47%, while employers in the public administration, education, wholesale and retail trade sectors reported the least robust outlooks. “Employers in this sector predict the strongest hiring plans among all industry sectors surveyed because of ongoing public and private investments in infrastructure sector,” Malhan added. PTI
Money market liquidity seen tightening soon
Mumbai: Liquidity is likely to tighten in India’s money markets in mid-March, although not as acutely as last year when a cash shortage caused a big spike in overnight rates, JP Morgan said in a research note.
The liquidity shortfall could be around Rs70,000 crore in March, the end of India’s fiscal year, although inefficiencies in the banking system could see a peak shortage of up to Rs1 trillion, JP Morgan economists said.
The central bank would face difficult choices about how to respond to any such tightness, but it was unlikely to cut either the cash reserve ratio or the statutory liquidity ratio as the cash shortfall was likely to be only temporary, they said. The amount of available cash in the market can be volatile in second half of March due to unexpected and sizeable variations in the Central and state governments’ cash balances with the central bank and capital inflows, the economists said.
Advance tax payments drain liquidity out in the middle of the month, but then government spending tends to pick up in the final week, helping conditions. JP Morgan estimates this month’s tax outflow at Rs60,000 crore. Reuters
Barkha Dutt among Young Global Leaders
New Delhi: The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday named 17 Indians among 245 executives, public figures and intellectuals from across the world as Young Global Leaders for 2008.
The winners, all 40 or younger, were drawn from a pool of almost 5,000 candidates, a WEF statement issued in Geneva said. The Indians who figure in the list include Barkha Dutt, managing editor of news channel NDTV 24X7, Hotmail co-founder Sabeer Bhatia, Jeh Wadia, managing director of the Mumbai-based low-cost carrier Go Airlines (India) Pvt. Ltd and Pia Singh, managing director, DLF Retail Developers Ltd. In all, 88 candidates from Asia were chosen as global decision-makers, of which 24 are from South Asia. Staff Writer