Agni-II Prime nuclear-capable missile successfully test-fired

Balasore (Odisha): Adding teeth to its nuclear deterrence, India on Tuesday successfully test-fired an advanced variant of nuclear-capable Agni-II ballistic missile with a strike range of 3,000 km from an island off Odisha coast.

“The surface-to-surface intermediate range missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher" at 0900 hours from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheeler Island, about 100 km from here, defence sources said.

Christened “Agni-II Prime", the new missile is a two- stage weapon system powered by solid propellant. It is 20 metres long and launch weight is 17 tonnes. It can carry one tonne pay-load.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said in Delhi that from now on, the missile will be called ‘Agni-IV´.(PTI)

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Army chief meets Omar

New Delhi: Wrapping up his “productive" visit to the national capital, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had a meeting with Army chief General V K Singh this morning during which the two discussed AFSPA and security-related issues.

File photo of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah

41-year-old Chief Minister has been pitching for partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain areas in the state which have witnessed very little violence.

Both sides remained tight-lipped about the meeting, and Omar only twitted on micro-blogging saying “Off to Jammu now. Last engagement was breakfast with the COAS Gen V.K. Singh. That wraps up this Delhi visit."(PTI)

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Govt may impose 0.003% stamp duty on commodities, stocks

New Delhi: The government may impose a stamp duty of 300 per crore (0.003%) on transactions in commodities, stocks and other derivatives, with the finance ministry moving a proposal to Cabinet for taking the final call, sources said.

Despite strong opposition from the ministry of consumer affairs (MCA), the finance ministry has placed the proposal before Cabinet, they said.

“The finance ministry has proposed a uniform stamp duty of 0.003% on all kinds of derivatives, including commodities, stocks and even electricity. But we have strongly opposed for commodities," sources said.

Barring one or two states like Maharashtra, no other state governments have imposed stamp duty on commodity derivatives, they said.(PTI)

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Huawei to acquire Symantec stake in JV for $530 mn

Bejing/New Delhi: Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei Technologies (Huawei) will acquire Symantec’s 49% stake in their joint venture firm, Huawei Symantec Technologies, for $530 million (nearly 2,680 crore).

Upon closing the agreement, Huawei will have full ownership of the joint venture firm, Huawei said in a statement.

“The integration of Huawei Symantec’s innovative security and storage technology with Huawei’s enterprise products will reinforce Huawei’s leading position in cloud computing. Looking ahead, Huawei will continue to increase investment in Huawei Symantec, reaffirming its commitment to customers," Huawei deputy chairman Guo Ping said.(PTI)

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Steel demand growth down to 2.8% in H1: Steel Secy

Hyderabad: Growth in domestic steel demand dipped to 2.8% in the first half this fiscal from 8.8% in the first four years of the 11th Five-Year Plan, says steel secretary P K Mishra, who has opined that it will be a challenge to meet 12th Plan production targets. Mishra also said the country needs some policy corrections to ensure that promised private sector investments in the sector become a reality. “The Indian steel industry is facing challenging times. The growth rate in steel demand, after registering an annual growth rate of 8.8% in the first four years of the 11th Plan, has fallen to 2.8% in the first six months of this current year," Mishra said.(PTI)

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India remains leader of developing world, NAM: US

Washington: Calling India a “growing world power," the US has said the country, which aspires to become a permanent member of the UNSC, remains a leader of developing nations and the Non-Aligned Movement in the post-Cold War era.

India’s size, population, and strategic location give it a prominent voice in international affairs, and its growing economic strength, military prowess and scientific and technical capacity give it added weight, the State Department said in a background note on India released here yesterday.

“The end of the Cold War dramatically affected Indian foreign policy. India remains a leader of the developing world and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)," it said.

India is now strengthening its political and commercial ties with the United States, Japan, the European Union, Iran, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“Always an active member of the United Nations, India seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The country holds a non-permanent seat on the Security Council 2011-2012. India has a long tradition of participating in UN peacekeeping operations," said the background note.(PTI)

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SBI reactivates DRI scheme for loans to weaker sections

Dehra Dun: State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender, on Tuesday reactivated its differential rate of interest (DRI) scheme to provide loans to weaker sections as part of the financial inclusion programme.

Under the scheme, SBI provided loans to nearly 1,500 people to start entrepreneurial projects with the Uttarakhand government and urged other banks to come forward to launch similar schemes.

Loans ranging between 5,000 and 15,000 would be disbursed under the DRI scheme, said SBI officials, adding that the interest rate would be 4% in this regard.(PTI)

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India to match Chinese military infra buildup: Antony

New Delhi: Expressing concern over Chinese military infrastructure buildup, defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday said India was working to match it to protect the country’s territory and build an effective deterrence.

“China is expanding its military capabilities and their infrastructure in the border area is also increasing substantially and we are concerned about that," he said.

The minister made these remarks when asked about India’s response to Chinese military modernization in the Eastern and Northern sectors.

“We have been improving our infrastructure and military capabilities in the eastern sector. We are strengthening our military capability and infrastructure not for confrontation, but to protect our territory and also to build an effective that we can protect every inch of Indian territory," Antony said.(PTI)

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No one should expect a ‘miracle’ in Indo-Pak ties: Antony

New Delhi: Terming the recent thaw in India-Pakistan relations as a “positive sign" and a “good breakthrough", defence minister A K Antony on Tuesday said one should not expect a “miracle" out of it.

“At the moment we find positive signs in relations with Pakistan in areas of economic cooperation. There is a real breakthrough, its a beginning," he told reporters here on the sidelines of Fifth South Asia Conference.(PTI)

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Power ministry asks MOEF to fast-track Sarguja coal block clearance

New Delhi: The power ministry has asked the ministry of environment and forests to fast-track the process for grant of green clearance to coal mines attached to the 4,000-MW Sarguja ultra-mega power project in Chhattisgarh, failing which the invitation of bids may get further delayed.

“We have written to the environment ministry to speed up the process of granting clearance to coal blocks for the Sarguja UMPP," a power ministry official said.

Initial bids for the Sarguja project have been postponed several times in the past eighteen months due to delays in the grant of environment and forest clearance for coal blocks attached to the project.

The ministry of environment and forests (MOEF) had classified coal mines into two categories -- “go" and “no-go" areas. As per the classification, mining in “no-go" areas was barred on the grounds that it would have an adverse impact on the environment.(PTI)

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NLC disinvestment move faces company’s opposition

New Delhi: Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) has opposed the government proposal to disinvest 10 per cent of its stake, contending stock market conditions do not favour such a move.

The NLC, which is a listed Navratna PSU with a net worth of 11,121 crore and lignite mines in Tamil Nadu, has conveyed its reservations on the disinvestment move to the Coal Ministry.

“Every disinvestment move is primarily undertaken to mobilise targeted resources in the (Union) Budget and considering the present adverse market conditions, the proposed disinvestment may not fetch the expected quantum of resources," NLC said in a note to the Coal Ministry.(PTI)

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Defence Ministry gives security clearance for Vizhinjam port

Thiruvananthapuram: The defence ministry has given security clearance for two companies that had bid for developing the Vizhinjam International Deepsea Container Terminal near here.

Defence minister A K Antony informed chief minister Oommen Chandy and state port minister K Babu about this in a letter, an official press release said here today.

The Kerala cabinet had shortlisted Mundara Port and a consortium led by Welspun for awarding the contract early this month, after these companies qualified in their technical bid.(PTI)

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Nearly 600 cr loss due to inexperienced consultant: CWG OC

New Delhi: Close to 600 crore in potential revenue was lost as an international consultant hired by Commonwealth Games Organising Committee did not have the desired expertise and experience, a report said.

The ‘Delhi 2010 Post Games Report´ by the Organising Committee which reviewed the whole process of planning and execution of the sporting event blamed poor planning and delay for cost escalation of various key projects.

“As againts a target of 960 crore, the contracted sponsorship revenue could barely touch 375 crore. This shortfall (of 585 cr) was perhaps a consequence of the fact that the international consultant did not have experience and expertise of the local conditions," it said without disclosing the firm’s name.(PTI)

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Gehlot Cabinet resigns, reshuffle soon

Jaipur: The entire Rajasthan Cabinet resigned on Tuesday to pave the way for chief minister Ashok Gehlot to carry out a reshuffle after the Congress government was hit by a series of controversies including the mysterious disappearance of nurse Bhanwari Devi.

The ministers in the Gehlot government gave their collective resignation to the chief minister at a Cabinet meeting chaired by him.

“All the ministers took collective decision to submit resignation to show faith and express confidence in the leadership of Ashok Gehlot so that he can strongly can say before the party high command in New Delhi that his team is with him," Shanti Dhariwal, who resigned as home minister, told reporters after the meeting.(PTI)

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India finance ministry sources still in talks with RBI on raising FII debt cap

New Delhi: India’s finance ministry is still in talks with the RBI about raising foreign institutional investment (FII) limit in government debt, two finance ministry sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Tuesday. The sources said the government has not finalised the timeframe for raising the limit nor has the amount of increase in the limit been finalised. Currently, the limit stands at $10 billion.

India’s most traded new 10-year bond rose 1 basis point to 8.94% after the finance ministry sources comments. The Reserve Bank of India governor Subbarao had said in late October any decision on the matter needed to take into account external sector viability issues, besides the government’s borrowing needs.(Reuters)

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RBI will take action if strain on liquidity: deputy

Mumbai: The Indian central bank will take action to ease any strain on liquidity, a deputy governor of the bank said on Tuesday, adding the Reserve Bank of India’s objective is to manage liquidity.

“The RBI does not target yields. Our objective is to manage liquidity. If we find there is stress on liquidity, we would take action to ease the stress...not with direct objective to target bond yields," Subir Gokarn told reporters on the sidelines of a banking event. (Reuters)

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Singapore: Most emerging Asian currencies weakened on Tuesday as the euro zone’s debt crisis sparked a fresh round of selling with the yuan as traded in Hong Kong proving an exception due to a shortage of the Chinese currency in that market.

The rupee and the Indonesian rupiah were among key losers in a cautious session that followed a change in leadership in Italy and Greece which failed to reduce selling pressure in their bond markets. (Reuters)

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US ‘very encouraged’ by Indo-Pak PMs’ meeting

Washington: Stating that it is “very encouraged" by the recent positive meeting between Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, the US has contended that improvement in relationship between the two neighbours enhances prospects for regional integration of South Asia.

“The recent progress between India and Pakistan has been so important, not only to reduce tensions between those two important countries, but also to enhance prospects for regional integration," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, told a news conference here. (PTI)

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HAL shortlists Goldman Sachs, 3 others for $200 mn IPO

Mumbai: India’s state-run military aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has shortlisted four banks including Goldman Sachs and Barclays for an initial public offering that is likely to raise $200 million, sources with direct knowledge said.

The company has also shortlisted SBI Capital, a unit of the country’s largest lender State Bank of India, and Enam Securities, said two sources, who declined to be named as the information was not public yet. (Reuters)

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Greece, banks to start bond swap talks on Wednesdays

Ahens: Greece and its private lenders will begin talks on a bond swap to cut 50% of the country’s debt on Wednesday in Frankfurt, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said on Tuesday without citing sources.

The talks are part of an EU bailout plan for the debt-laden country agreed last month. Under the plan, about €200 billion of Greek debt owned by private bondholders would be cut by €100 billion. (Reuters)

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NY police clearing out anti-Wall Street protesters

New York: Police wearing helmets and carrying shields early on Tuesday began to clear Zuccotti Park in New York City’s financial district, where protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement have been camped since September.

The office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the protesters should “temporarily leave" the park and remove their tents and tarps. The protesters said hundreds of police were mobilizing around the park and that the eviction of the demonstrators was in progress. (Reuters)

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China vulnerable to asset bubbles, warns IMF

Beijing: China’s biggest commercial banks face systemic risks if a combination of credit, property, currency and yield curve shocks that could be withstood in isolation were to occur together, the International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday.

But China can contain these dangers by freeing up financial markets to give investors, commercial banks and the central bank greater autonomy from government control, the fund said in its first-ever review of the Chinese financial system. (Reuters)

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Tech firms in Thailand need 2-6 months to recover-industry

Bankok: Thailand’s flood-hit electronics sector is expected to take two to six months to resume operations now that floodwater in central Ayutthaya province is receding, the head of a private industry group said on Tuesday.

The flooding in central provinces of Thailand should continue to affect the industry’s supply chain until early next year, Sampan Silapanad, president of the Electronics and Computer Employers’ Association, told Reuters. (Reuters)