Naco to give second-line AIDS treatment

Naco to give second-line AIDS treatment

New Delhi: As the world observed the international AIDS Day on 1 December, there was some relief for people living with HIV/AIDS in India with the National AIDS Control Organisation (Naco) agreeing to provide second-line AIDS treatment.

Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss said the government would from 1 January launch the life-saving second-line antiretroviral treatment (ART) for those affected. India is believed to have about 2.5 million people affected with HIV/AIDS and among them only 100,000 are currently receiving the first-line antiretroviral AIDS treatment (ART). The first-line drugs are highly active and cost-effective and are recommended by the World Health Organization. But the second-line drugs are more advanced.

“Many are in urgent need of second- line treatment due to the failure of their first-line treatments. There are a million people in India who need, or will soon need, basic first-line antiretroviral treatment," said Dr. Mahesh Ganesan, advocacy co-ordinator for AIDS Health Foundation (AHF)/India Cares.

Dr. Chinkholal Thangsing, Asia-Pacific bureau chief for AHF, said antiretroviral drugs for both the regimens were available and accessible. The first-line treatment is available at retail vendors and through the ART centres of the government.


DRDO test fires interceptor missile

New Delhi: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the government’s primary defence research agency, on Sunday announced the successful launch of a single-stage interceptor missile against an electronic ballistic missile.

The interceptor missile, launched from Wheeler Island, off the Orissa coast, intercepted the ballistic missile at an altitude of 15km. “All the elements of ballistic missile defence (BMD) required for control and monitoring performed in copybook fashion... validating the design of the ‘endo-atmospheric’ layer of the BMD system," the government said in a statement. DRDO will further test the missile system, the statement added.

Rahul Chandran

Pandit, Shaukat Aziz in race for Citigroup top job

New York: A new face-off is seen developing here between India and Pakistan—that for the position of chief executive at the world’s largest bank —Citigroup Inc.

The list of contenders for the top job include Vikram S. Pandit, currently Citigroup’s investment banking head and a former Morgan Stanley investment banker, and Shaukat Aziz, formerly the bank’s global private banking business head and most recently the prime minister of Pakistan.

A report in ‘The New York Times’ this weekend said Citigroup board expects to name a new CEO next week and Pandit’s name has emerged as a favourite.

Meanwhile, reports have been surfacing in the US and international media that Aziz, who resigned as Pakistan’s prime minister last month, could also be a potential candidate.

An ‘’ report said that Aziz could be a good choice for the post. Aziz might be tempted to find an exit from Pakistan politics, given its current state of emergency, the report added.

Queries by ‘PTI’ to Citigroup spokesperson Christina Pretto on the candidature of Pandit and Aziz remained unanswered.


Govt initiates steps to check counterfeiting

New Delhi: In a move to prevent counterfeiting of Indian currency, the Union home ministry has ordered an intensified surveillance of borders while the finance ministry has suggested additional security features in the currency notes.

The home ministry has directed its agencies to ensure patrolling on foot, by boats and vehicles, laying border ambushes and setting up observation posts all along the international border to prevent fake notes from coming into the country.

Upgrading intelligence network and coordination with sister intelligence agencies were some other measures being taken up, sources in the ministry said.


SC nod for CBI probe into Nafed loan diversion

New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) has approved an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into alleged misuse of a Rs150 crore loan from the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed).

In its complaint, Nafed had said that Mumbai-based exporter, Guru Swarup Srivastava, proprietor of Swarup Group of Industries, had taken the loan for iron ore exports, but instead diverted the money into commissioning 100 paintings by M.F. Husain, in real estate or sponsoring functions such as film awards and beauty pageants.

Srivastava and Nafed had entered into an agreement in 2004 for a Rs236 crore loan.

Nafed said it received Rs86.06 crore from Srivastava, but the balance of Rs149.50 crore, plus the interest, was still to be recovered.


Wipro’s foreign tie-ups to fetch $2 bn: Premji

New Delhi: India’s third largest computer services provider, Wipro Ltd, said alliances with overseas software and equipment makers led by Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. will generate more than $2 billion (Rs7,940 crore) in annual sales within three years.

Customizing software and providing technical support for customers of Cisco, the world’s largest maker of networking equipment, Microsoft, the biggest software company, SAP AG and EMC Corp. will each add at least $500 million in annual revenue, chairman Azim H. Premji said on Sunday.

“In the two to two-and-a-half-year time frame, these partnerships should be able to generate revenue in excess of half a billion dollars per alliance per year," Premji said. “The alliances with Cisco and Microsoft are larger than that."

Allying with Microsoft gives Premji access to larger clients in the US and Europe. Wipro needs to boost revenue in its global unit, its biggest revenue earner, to lift its shares, the third worst performer on the benchmark Sensitive Index this year.


Coca-Cola?plans?$250?mn investment to expand

New Delhi: The world’s largest soft drink maker, Coca-Cola Co., plans to invest $250 million (Rs992 crore) in India to expand capacity, its president Muhtar Kent said.

Coca-Cola will invest the amount over the next three years, Kent said at a conference in New Delhi. India, Brazil and China are key growth markets for Coca- Cola, Kent had said on 10 June.


Reliance Energy to add Rs8,000 crore of capital

Mumbai: The board of Reliance Energy Ltd has approved the infusion of Rs8,000 crore of equity capital as it seeks to fund power, highway, metro and real-estate projects in India.

The capital will be raised through a preferential offer of equity shares or equity-related securities to the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, Life Insurance Corp. and five other insurance companies that own shares in the company, Reliance Energy said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

The offer “will be made at a price of Rs1,812 a share, representing a record 5% premium to the current market price, and the minimum price as per applicable Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) guidelines", the company said.

Shares of Reliance Energy, the best performer on the country’s benchmark stock index this year, gained 4.5% to Rs1,738.1 on 30 November.

Reliance Power Ltd, the unit of Reliance Energy that’s planning an initial share sale, will need almost Rs40,000 crore for two power project contracts that it has won.

The orders are to build a Rs20,000 crore, 4,000MW power plant in Andhra Pradesh and a Rs18,000 crore plant of similar capacity in Madhya Pradesh.

The new equity capital will enhance Reliance Energy’s net worth and augment its borrowing capabilities, the company said. It will facilitate participation in “a large number of forthcoming mega projects," the statement cited chairman Anil Ambani as saying.

The company’s net worth after the equity infusion will increase to Rs20,000 crore from Rs10,500 crore. That will double its borrowing ability to Rs20,000 crore , assuming an equal ratio of equity and debt, Reliance Energy said.