GM to pump another $ 200 Million in Pune facility

For global auto giant General Motors, Maharashtra is fast emerging as the investment hotspot. The car maker, which already has a car manufacturing plant at Talegaon near Pune, pledged $200 million more for the facility to manufacture diesel and petrol engines.The company officials said the initial investment in the power train unit would exceed $200 million, which is over and above more than $300 million GM has invested in the car plant. GM India president and managing director Karl Slym and Maharashtra’s principal secretary, industries, Azeez Khan, signed an MoU to this effect on Thursday in Mantralaya, the state administrative headquarters, in the presence of chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.Mr Khan pointed out that GM had already invested about $300 million at the Talegaon facility and the total investment in this plant, including the engine manufacturing facility, was expected to reach $800 million in the next seven years. GM officials said the new plant would have a production capacity of 1,60,000 engines per annum. The capacity will be scaled up to 3 lakh engines per year. Mr Slym said the MoU with the Maharashtra government had taken GM’s total investment in India to $1 billion. The first sets of cars at the Talegaon facility, for which GM had signed an MoU with the state government two years ago, would roll out on September 2, GM officials said. The engine plant is expected to provide direct employment to 1,400 people. Mr Slym also explained the rationale behind GM making huge investments in Maharashtra. “Maharashtra has a very good employee base, infrastructure is cost-effective, the state offers geographical advantage and the vendor base is well-developed,” he pointed out.

Goa seeks Special Status

Seeking to preserve the state’s “unique identity”, the Goa legislative Assembly passed an unanimous resolution on Friday strongly recommending that the state government take up with the Centre the urgent need to grant special status to Goa.Coming in the wake of another legislation that bans the sale of land to foreigners in Goa, Friday’s resolution seeks to ban sale of agricultural and orchard land to persons from outside the state. The Assembly was unanimous in the need, “for granting special status to Goa to ensure that the state preserves its unique identity.” The original motion, moved by BJP’s Mapusa MLA Francis D’Souza and Congress’ Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco had sought special status, “on the lines of special status granted to states of Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal under Article 371 of the Constitution of India, for regulating ownership and transfer of land especially with respect to sale of land to non-residents/foreigners...” Replying to this, CM Digambar Kamat said he agreed, “fully with the sentiments of the members,” but clarified that Himachal and Uttaranchal were given special status in terms of their economic situation and not on land. He said, “I accept the resolution in principle. But let there be unanimity on special status on Goa. We need to sit down and discuss before we approach the Centre.” Moving the motion, D’Souza said, “There is a need to protect our land and to protect our identity. There has been massive in-migration into Goa and Goans feel like strangers in their own land. If this is not stopped today, it might be too late tomorrow.”He appealed to the members not to hanker after credit on this resolution but to show unanimity. D’Souza also said Goa deserves special economic status as it makes a sizeable contribution to the Centre. D’ Souza said the Centre has already granted special status to Uttaranchal and Himachal under Article 371 of the Constitution.
The Road Ahead :On Friday, Goa’s legislative assembly passed a unanimous resolution seeking special status for Goa, with the aim of protecting its agricultural and orchard lands from foreign and outside buyers, and also to protect the state’s identity .he Goa government would now have to forward the resolution seeking special status for Goa, to the Centre.The Union government would have to review the resolution and take a decision on the same .If it considers giving special status to Goa, the Centre would have to introduce the same as a bill in Parliament.The bill would have to be passed by a simple majority, that is, more than half the members present would have to vote in favour of the bill .The bill would then go to the President for approval . With the President’s nod, the bill would become an Act applicable to the state of Goa .
Part XXI of the Indian Constitution provides for temporary, transitional and special provisions to be made by Parliament with respect to certain states:
Article 370 gives special status to Jammu & Kashmir. The power of Parliament to make laws with respect to the state is limited .
Article 371 makes special provisions for Maharashtra and Gujarat. It provides for the establishment of separate development boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of Maharashtra, Saurashtra and Kutch.
Article 371 A states that no act of Parliament in respect of religious or social practices of the Nagas, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides. A provision similar to that for Nagaland is inserted for Mizoram under Article 371 G .
Article 371 D empowers the President to make an order regarding the state of Andhra Pradesh and provide for equitable opportunities and facilities in the matter of public employment and education. This constitutional amendment can be carried out by a simple majority of Parliment

Kingfisher is ready for London

The advertisement announcing the launch of the international operations of UB Groups' Kingfisher Airlines between Bangalore and London on 3rd September 2008.
Kingfisher Airlines is positioning its inaugural international link between Bangalore and London as a premium service, as it takes on British Airways, its main rival on the route.Travel industry sources also said that nearly two-thirds of the British carrier’s passengers stop over in London en route to other destinations. Kingfisher is expected to announce in a few days alliances with international carriers so that its passengers to London can link up for onward travel. As Kingfisher spreads wings internationally, a non-stop flight from Bangalore to San Francisco on the US west coast is also on the cards. Kingfisher says first-class passengers on its Airbus A330-220 link between Bangalore and London can expect, among other things, an inseat massager, five-course meals, a social area with a bar and even a spectacle-cleaning service! The flight from Bangalore will leave at 8.40 am and arrive at London Heathrow’s Terminal 4 at 2.50 pm, local time. The return flight will depart Heathrow at 10.05 pm and arrive in Bangalore the next day at 12.35 pm, local time.Bangalore will be the hub for Kingfisher’s wide-bodied aircrafts and international operations.

Get arrested for planting a tree!

And this happens in Kolkata!
Ever heard of someone being taken to the police station for planting saplings? Some workers hired by New Alipore residents Haradhan Das, Anjali Mukherjee, Sarda Swami and Anil Ray actually went through the tribulation.The police action has left the four senior citizens, involved in the green movement for the last three years, dumbfounded. They were still in a state of shock as they recounted the episode of detention by New Alipore thana officers last Saturday. “We were supervising the work when local Trinamool councillor Aroop Biswas came and told us to stop immediately. We instructed the labourers to do so,” said 76-year-old Das, a retired engineer. The matter didn’t end here. A little later, a police van carrying policemen from New Alipore thana arrived and picked up the labourers. Das and his associates tried, in vain, to reason with the councillor and the police that they had obtained a permission from the KMC’s parks department for planting trees. Finally, the elderly residents had to send a lawyer to the police station for the labourers’ release. “Our lawyer demanded to know how the police could arrest or detain persons involved in planting trees. Eventually, the thana officials relented,” said Das.So how do the police explain this over-enthusiasm? Swadhin Sarkar, OC of New Alipore thana, said: “The local councillor complained to us that some people were digging up newly constructed sidewalks. So, we called them to the thana for questioning. We asked them if they had the forest department’s sanction. They showed us relevant papers and we let them go.” The detention has created quite a flutter in the area because this group is known for its passion for saving greenery. Over the last three years, they have taken care of every sapling planted. Thanks to their efforts, New Alipore now has a lot of trees. Mayor Bikash Bhattacharya is amused by the incident. He said: “Planting trees is a noble job and no one has the right to stop anyone from doing it. We will look into the matter.” Member, mayor-in-council (parks), Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, echoed: “We will take appropriate action.” The local councillor said he had “no knowledge of the incident”.

Pune,PCMC BRTS Update

S.K. Lohia, director, urban transport, Union ministry of urban development, said that the Bus Rapid Transit Systems (BRTS) being introduced in major cities have to be funded through revenue earned from hoardings and parking charges.Lohia, who inspected the proposed BRTS corridors in Pimpri-Chinchwad, said that passenger fares alone cannot be the sole revenue source for the BRTS. Instead, urban local bodies need to come up with parking and advertisement policies for revenue generation for the transport system, he said.“Roads are meant for vehicle movement and not for parking. Urban local bodies have to give importance to public transport while planning land usage,” he said. According to Lohia, there would not be any consistent model for implementing the BRTS in all cities, and that their levels of implementation may also vary. “There would be changes in implementation based on road width and other features. For instance, there are elevated pedestrian subways on the highway stretch in Pimpri-Chinchwad, while in Pune, there would be elevated pedestrian subways only at some locations,” he stated.The BRTS, he said, has to be supplemented by feeder services such as autorickshaws and also by a highly well-managed public transport system. When asked whose responsibility it really is to improve public transport, Lohia said that funds for the same have to be provided one way or the other. According to Lohia, the BRTS is a new concept for the country and that there are some valid questions being raised regarding central and side lanes, the nature of pedestrian crossings, and so on. “The BRTS has to have various features such as smart ticketing systems, passenger information systems, reliability of services, modern comfort levels, and affordability,” he added.
According to Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal commissioner Ashish Sharma, work on the BRTS corridor on the 13-km stretch between Nigdi and Dapodi is expected to be completed by September 15. The PCMC would soon form a special purpose vehicle for the implementation of transport and traffic mobility projects, to be funded through the JNNURM, World Bank and other financial institutions. The corporation has been asked to prepare a parking policy and an advertisement policy on which discussions are already on, he added.City engineer Eknath Ugile, who gave a presentation on the twin township’s comprehensive mobility plan, said the current system of two-way traffic on service roads will soon be stopped. The PCMC is initially working on two BRTS routes – one on the highway stretch, and the second on the Aundh-Ravet stretch, he added.
S.K. Lohia also said that the pilot BRTS implemented on the Katraj-Swargate-Hadapsar route in Pune is just a dedicated bus lane service and not a complete bus rapid transport system. The corporation was working on improving it, he added. Lohia said the BRTS needed to have various modern features and that people should be able to take pride in using it.

PMRDA at last?

In a major boost to the development of Pune region, municipal corporations and councils, cantonment boards as well as grampanchayats will finally come under the purview of a parent body, which will ensure integrated development.The Maharashtra state government has decided to form Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) by December 2008. The government plans to amend the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act to help clear the hurdles in forming the long-pending authority.“The PMRDA will be formed by December 2008, in any case. The state government has decided to amend the MRTP Act to include the city development chapter in the same. The move will help in integrated development of about 2,200 sq km region, falling under the PMRDA,” principal secretary T C Benjamin said.Elections for the 30-member Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) were held in April 2008.
Total area under PMRDA 2,200 sq km ( approx).
Municipal corporations : Pune, PCMC .
Municipal councils : Lonavla, Talegaon, Bhor,Shirur and Saswad.
Cantonment boards :Pune, Khadki and Dehu Road.
Grampanchayats: 100.
The thirty-member body of the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) that came into existence in April holds the key to development in the entire Pune metropolitan region. The committee is expected to enhance co-ordination between the various government agencies and local governing bodies, on the lines of the District Planning and Development Council (DPDC). It will also be responsible for the integrated development plan for the region.“The Pune region requires integrated development, including in the rural areas around Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. The MPC will play a major role in drafting the development plan for the region as a whole. As of now, every local governing body has its own plan which is implemented individually. Not only does this lead to problems of funds for the fringe areas but, sometimes, prevents a holistic development of the entire metropolitan area, which could be avoided in the future with the MPC and the PMRDA becoming functional,” said newly elected member of the MPC Ujwal Keskar.Keskar said the PMRDA would raise funds for the implementation of the draft development plan as drawn up by the MPC. “In the end, the actual role and operations of the PMRDA is the government’s decision. But there is need to give a free hand to the MPC, as also the PMRDA, for planning and developing the region. This is in accordance with the true spirit of the 74th constitutional amendment, where the MPCs are expected to prepare and implement the development plans,” he said.It may be noted that it is compulsory for state governments to form MPCs for cities that have a minimum population of 30 lakh to claim funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).During the period 1817-1997, a span of 180 years, the Pune urban area has grown from a mere five sq km to 700 sq km, which is 140 times the original area.The city mainly grew during the post-independence period. According to the Pune Municipal Corporation statistics, between 1901 and 2001, Pune’s urban population has grown from 1.64 lakh to about 42 lakh (estimated figure for 2001) which is 25 times the original figure.“The MPC will draft a plan for development and the PMRDA will have to raise funds for its implementation. The burgeoning population of Pune is taking a toll on the lush greenery and hills of the fringe areas. Once we have a detailed development plan for the entire region,it would be much easier to work out solutions for local as well as overall problems,” says Ramchandra Gohad, former deputy director of town planning.
Formation of the MPC and the PMRDA is good news for the fringe locations, as the move will ensure that central government funds under the JNNURM now trickle down from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad city limits to the surrounding rural and developing areas. As per the 74th constitutional amendment, MPCs are expected to prepare and implement an integrated development plan for a region. The committee deals with matters of common interest including co-ordinating spatial planning of areas under its purview. Areas falling under the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations, municipal councils, panchayat samitis and gram panchayats, which will be part of the MPC, now stand to partake of the JNNURM funds. Matters of sharing water and other physical resources will be dealt with by the MPC, which will also deal with disputes and matters arising due to overlapping jurisdictions of local bodies. On the whole, these committees will boost the development of rural areas surrounding Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, which were left out of the development planning of the twin cities. The MPCs will prepare integrated development plans and seek funds from the JNNURM, which was earlier restricted to municipal corporations. This is expected to bridge the development gap between the urban and rural areas of the Pune region.

Q1 2008-09 GDP dips to 7.9%

The slowdown is beginning to be felt.

Cabinet approves new Companies Bill

A liberal regulatory set-up for corporates is on the anvil with the Cabinet approving the introduction of a new Companies Bill that will replace the archaic and voluminous Companies Act of 1956. The Companies Bill 2008 also paves the way for the formation of a oneperson company (OPC) that would help start-up entrepreneurs operate as a company without facing the liabilities attached to a sole partnership firm.Corporate affairs minister Prem Chand Gupta said companies should expect a liberal and less cumbersome regime in India as the proposed Bill suggests cutting down many provisions that are not relevant in today’s economic environment. “Against the 800-odd provisions in the existing act, the proposed law aims at pruning this to almost half,’’ Gupta said, adding that the aim was to bring in “self regulation, but with accountability’’. Gupta had initiated the process to revamp the existing Companies Act in 2004 and the government had formed a committee, headed by JJ Irani, to help draft the new law for which it also held consultations with industry bodies as well as professional organisations like ICAI and ICSI.The Companies Bill 2008 would be tabled in the coming session of Parliament, Gupta said, adding that it contained various provisions aimed at bringing in a flurry of changes for the corporate sector.The Bill aims at cutting down many of the approvals companies need to take from the government at present. These include matters like remuneration of directors, related party transactions, attachment of balance sheet of subsidiary companies.“In another crucial recommendation, we have done away with promoters buying shares at a discount,’’ the minister said. Also, it lays down higher and stringent penalties for corporate offences, many commensurate with the nature of default and its effect on ordinary shareholders.The proposed Bill also states that 33% of directors on a company’s broad should be independent, which appears relaxed compared to the 50% norm stipulated by market regulator Sebi. Gupta said sectoral regulators were free to prescribe higher limits if they deemed fit. “So unlisted companies can have one-third independent directors while for listed companies, it has to be 50%, as prescribed by Sebi’s Clause 49,’’ he said. The Bill also proposes to raise the number of partners in a firm to 100 from the present 20, while not recommending any restrictions over the number of subsidiaries a company can have. It also recognises board meeting held through video conferencing and accepts communication and voting through e-mails and books of account in electronic form.
Unshackling INDIA INC.
1 Bill seeks appointment of a minimum 33% independent directors on board and restrictions on firms to raise deposits from public.
2 No issue of shares on discount .
3 Provides for a single forum for M&As.
4 Investors can claim dividend or security even after 7 years .
5 Investor education and protection fund will be administered by a statutory authority.
6 Taking care of small cos, the bill proposes a new entity in the form of oneperson company.
7 Proposes stringent regime for misuse of ‘not-for-profit’ cos.
8 No restrictions on number of subsidiaries. Wider choice on number of partners in a partnership firm.
9 Seeks consolidation of financial statements of subsidiaries with those of holding cos mandatory 10 Provides special courts to deal with offences and scrapping of minimum paid-up cap requirement.
11 Regulation of insolvency, winding up and liquidation made effective .

Rs.2.1 Lakh Crore Transport Upgrade plan for Mumbai

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region’s (MMR) public transport network needs a massive Rs 2.1 lakh crore upgrade if it is to meet the requirements of the sprawling 4,350 sq km region by 2031.This is the conclusion drawn by a consultancy firm that presented the results of a study to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The MMRDA has placed the study before the state government for action.Astonishingly, the study indicates that although 78% of journeys made in the MMR from 1991-2005 were by suburban trains and buses, the number of daily rail trips increased by only 35% over this period and bus trips went up by a paltry 9%. Meanwhile, the number of registered autos went up by 420%, bikes by 308%, cars by 137% and taxis by 128%.All other modes of transport account for one-fifth of travel by train or bus, leading to huge congestion on roads due to private vehicles. “Unaffordable housing in the city forces residents to move further away in surrounding municipalities, where they often remain captive to rail,’’ the study by Lea Associates says. The result is that the average rail commuter travels 23.8 km, much more than other commuters.The consultants have suggested an expansion in three phases—by 2016, 2021 and 2031. It is recommended to increase the Metro Rail corridor from the present proposed 148 km in Mumbai to 435 km across the MMR,which includes Mumbai, Thane, Raigad and Pen-Raigad.
Metro Rail : Build 148 km more, 435.5 km by 2031. New lines: Dahisar-Mira Rd-Manikpur-Virar, Thane Ring Metro, Vashi-Belapur-New Airport Rd-Panvel, Horniman Circle-Uran-Dronagiri & Sewri-Kharkopar.
Suburban Trains: Add 247.5 km of track .Build and augment services on Diva-Vasai Rd, Panvel-Karjat, Panvel-Uran and Thane-Bhiwandi lines.
Highway Corridors :1,739 km of roads needed by 2031, 538.6 km in a few years . 21 new projects on major stretches.
Exclusive Bus Lanes :Up to 165 km by 2016.Andheri-Dahisar-Thane, Dahisar-Virar, Airport-Kanjurmarg-Ambarnath and Thane-Panvel lanes by 2016 .

Maximum City's History

Some very interesting facts on Mumbai. Mumbai is ancient yet modern, fabulously rich yet achingly poor. The city of Bombay originally consisted of seven islands, namely Colaba, Mazagaon, Old Woman's Island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel, and Matunga-Sion. This group of islands, which have since been joined together by a series of reclamations, formed part of the kingdom of Ashoka , the famous Emperor of India.After his death, these islands passed into the hands of various Hindu Rulers until 1343. In that year, the Mohammedans of Gujarat took possession and the Kings of that province of India ruled for the next two centuries. The only vestige (mark) of their dominion over these islands that remains today is the mosque at Mahim.In 1534 the Portuguese, who already possessed many important trading Centers on the western coast, such as Panjim, Daman, and Diu, took Bombay by Force of arms from the Mohammedans. This led to the establishment of numerous churches, which were constructed in areas where the majority of people were Roman Catholics. There used to be two areas in Bombay called ' Portuguese Church '. However, only one church with Portuguese-style facade still remains; it is the St.Andrew's church at Bandra. The Portuguese also fortified their possession by building forts at Sion, Mahim, Bandra, and Bassien which, although in disrepair, can still be seen. They named their new possession as 'Bom Baia' which in Portuguese means 'Good Bay '. A hundred and twenty-eight years later the islands were given to the English King Charles II in dowry on his marriage to Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza in 1662. In the year 1668 the islands were acquired by the English East India Company on lease from the crown for an annual sum of 10 pounds in gold; so little did the British value these islands at that time. The Company, which was operating from Surat , was in search for another deeper water port so that larger vessels could dock, and found the islands of Bombay suitable for development. The shifting of the East India Company's headquarters to Bombay in 1687 led to the eclipse of Surat as a principal trading center. The British corrupted the Portuguese name'Bom Baia' to 'Bombay '. The Kolis used to call the islands 'Mumba' after Mumbadevi, the Hindu Deity to whom a temple is dedicated at Babulnath near Chowpatty's sandy beaches.The first Parsi to arrive in Bombay was Dorabji Nanabhoy Patel in 1640. The Parsis, originally from Iran , migrated to India about 900 years ago. This they did to save their religion, Zoroastrianism, from invading Arabs who proselytized Islam. However, in 1689-90, when a severe plague had struck down most of the Europeans, the Siddi Chief of Janjira made several attempts to re-possess the islands by force, but the son of the former, a trader named Rustomji Dorabji Patel (1667-1763),successfully warded off the attacks on behalf of the British with the help of the 'Kolis', the original fisher-folk inhabitants of these islands.The remnants of the Koli settlements can still be seen at Backbay reclamation, Mahim, Bandra, Khar, Bassien and Madh island. Sir George Oxenden became the first British Governor of the islands, and was succeeded later by Mr. Gerald Aungier who made Bombay more populous by attracting Gujarati traders, Parsi ship-builders, and Muslim and Hindu manufacturers from the mainland. He fortified defenses by constructing the Bombay Castle (the Fort, since then vanished except for a small portion of the wall) and provide stability by constituting courts of law.Between 1822 and 1838, cattle from the congested fort area used to graze freely at the Camp Maidan (now called Azad Maidan), an open ground opposite the Victoria Terminus. In 1838 the British rulers introduced a 'grazing fee' which several cattle-owners could not afford. Therefore, Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy spent Rs. 20,000 from his own purse for purchasing some grass lands near the seafront at Thakurdwar and saw that the starving cattle grazed without a fee in that area. In time the area became to be known as 'Charni' meaning grazing. When a railway station on the BB&CI railway was constructed there it was called Charni Road. The Zoroastrian Towers of Silence on Malabar hill were built by Seth Modi Hirji Vachha in 1672. The Zoroastrians believe in venerating the earth, fire, and water and hence they prefer to expose their dead to the elements and flesh-eating birds within the confines of the Towers of Silence. Seth Vachha also built the first fire-temple in the same year opposite his residence at Modikhana within the British fort. Both of these structures can still be seen today although they have been expanded and strengthened.The inroads of the sea at Worli, Mahim, and Mahalaxmi turned the ground between the islands into swamps making Bombay an extremely unhealthy place at that time. Many commuters going to the Fort by boat between islands lost their lives when there was a storm during the monsoons (July to September). During the next 40 years much was done to improve matters. Reclamation work to stop the breeches at Mahalaxmi and Worli were undertaken. The Hornby Vellard was completed in 1784,during the Governorship of Mr. Hornby. In 1803 Bombay was connected with Salsette by a causeway at Sion. The island of Colaba was joined to Bombay in 1838 by a causeway now called Colaba Causeway and the Causeway connecting Mahim and Bandra was completed in 1845 at the total cost of Rs.1,57,000 donated entirely by Lady Avabai JamsetjeeJeejeebhoy, wife of the first baronet Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy with a stipulation that no toll would be charged to citizens for its use by the government. Initially the cost was estimated at Rs.100,000 but asthe work commenced in 1842 the cost escalated. When the initial sumwas exhausted and work about to stop Lady Jeejeebhoy once again dipped in to her personal purse with a second donation to the treasury of Rs.57,000.Sir Robert Grant (1779-1838) governed Bombay from 1835 to 1838 and was responsible for the construction of a number of roads between Bombay and the hinterland. The Thana and Colaba Causeways were built during his tenure as well as the Grant Medical College attached to the Sir Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy ( J.J.) Group of hospitals.On Saturday 16th of April, 1853 a 21-mile long railway line, the first In India , between Bombay 's Victoria Terminus and Thana was opened.The Great Indian Peninsular (GIP) and the Bombay Baroda and Central India (BB&CI) Railway were started in 1860 and a regular service of steamers on the west coast was commenced in 1869. Also during this period Bombay enjoyed Great economic wealth. Raw cotton from Gujarat was shipped to Lancashire in England through Bombay port, and after being spun and woven into cloth, returned to be sold in the Indian market. The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 increased the demand for cotton in the West and several Personal fortunes were made during this period from the resulting trade. The Opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 brought the West closer to Bombay, and as the city became more prosperous; many schemes were launched for reclaiming additional land and building more roads and wharves. Bombay began to attract fortune hunters by the hundreds and the population had swelled from 13,726 in 1780 to 644,405 in 1872, in a little less than a hundred years. By 1906 the population of Bombay was to become 977,822.In 1858, following the First War of Independence (the British called it The 'Sepoy Mutiny') of 1857 in which the Rani of Jhansi and her infant son strapped on her back were killed, the East India Company was accused of mismanagement and the islands reverted to the British Crown. In 1862 Sir Baartle Frere was appointed Governor, an office that he held until 1867. By 1862 the town has spread over the lands reclaimed through constructions of causeways and it is from this date we have the rise of the modern city of Bombay. In 1864 a fountain was to be erected in his honour at the Victoria Gardens by the Agri-Horticultural Society of Western India. Somehow, the plans were changed at the last moment and the fountain, named after the Greek goddess Flora, was placed in the centre of the city on what used be known As Hornby Road. Unfortunately, no plaque was placedon the fountain to commemorate the name of Governor in whose memory it was supposed to have been erected.Around 1860 the piped water supply from Tulsi and Vehar lakes (and later Tansa) was inaugurated. One reform, which met with much superstitious opposition, before it was implemented, was the sealing and banning the use of water from open wells and tanks that bred mosquitoes. A good drainage system was also constructed at the same time. However, several decades later, the same wells were to serve Bombay by providing non-potable water to supplement the same from thelakes.This was true especially during those years when the monsoons failed to provide sufficient water in the catchment areas of the lakes. However, well water is now used all over the city to supplement the water received from the lakes. The later half of the 19th century was also to see a feverish construction of buildings in Bombay, many of which such as, the Victoria Terminus, the General Post Office, Municipal Corporation, the Prince of Wales Museum, Rajabai Tower and Bombay University, Elphinstone College and the Cawasji Jehangir Hall, the Crawford Market, the Old Secretariat (Old Customs House) and thePublic Works Department (PWD) Building, still stand today as major landmarks.The Gateway of India was built to commemorate the visit of King George V And Queen Mary for the Darbar at Delhi in 1911. The docks at Bombay are a monument of the industry, enterprise and integrity of the Wadia family which moved in from Surat at the instigation of the British. In 1870 the Bombay Port Trust was formed. In 1872, Jamshedji Wadia, amaster ship-builder constructed the 'Cornwalis', a frigate of 50 guns,for the East India Company, a success which led to several orders from the British Navy. In all the Wadias, between 1735-1863 built 170 war vessels for the Company, 34 man-of-war for the British Navy, 87 merchant vessels for private firms, and three vessels for the Queen of Muscat at Bombay docks. The Princess Dock was built in the year 1885 and the Victoria Dock and The Mereweather Dry Docks in 1891. Alexandra Dock was completed in1914. The closing years of the 19th Century were tragic for Bombay as the bubonic plague caused great destruction of human life once more.One significant result of the plague was the creation of the City Improvement Trust which in later years encouraged the development of the suburbs for residential purposes to remove the congestion in the city.As Bombay's superintendent of police in 1885, Charles Forjett was a favourite of the Indian people. Many wept openly when he returned toEngland. He sacked British constables who unduly harassed the locals and Cracked down on the Parsi mafia which was involved in the liquor business in the Falkland Road area,which included the famous 'PlayHouse' which the Locals corrupted to 'pillhouse'. The 'Pillhouse' area would acquire notoriety in later years as the infamous 'cages' area housing Bombay 's infamous red-light district.Lord Sandhurst governed Bombay between 1895 and 1900 and it was during His tenure that the Act was passed which constituted the City Improvement Trust which, among other things, built the Sandhurst Road in 1910 and handed it over to the municipality. The Sandhurst Road railway station (upper level) was built in 1921. As a result of a mysterious fire which started in one of its holds, on a very hot summer's day on Friday April 14,1944, the ship 'Fort Stikine' 7420 tons) blew up in the Bombay docks. At the time the ship was about to unload a lethal combination of cargo of dried fish and cotton bales (loaded from Karachi), timber, gunpowder, ammunition, and gold bars from London (the latter to stabilize the Indian Rupee,which was sagging due to the Second World War and fear of invasion from Japan).The gold bullion was valued at approx. two million Pounds Sterling at that time. Nobody is certain as to how the fire started but the two explosions, which followed, were so loud that windows rattled and/or shattered as far away as Dadar, a distance of 8 miles. The destruction in the docks and surrounding area was immense and several hundred dock workers were killed instantly. A majority of brave men of the Bombay Fire Brigade, who answered the call to duty immediately after the first blast, lost their lives in the second explosion (a monument has been erected in the docks in their honour).The population of the city was panic stricken as rumours spread rapidly That the explosions signaled the commencement of hostilitiesby the Japanese On the same style as the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour in the Hawaiian islands in December 1941. The Japanese were infact nowhere near Bombay since they were engaged in fighting a losing battle with the British army in Burma at that time. Nevertheless, the Bombay Central (BB&CI) and Victoria Terminus (GIP) stations were packed to capacity with terrorized people fleeing the city in whichever train they could board for their villages with all belongings they could carry. At the time of the explosion, one of the gold bars crashed through the roof of the third floor apartment of a Parsi named D.C. Motivala more than a mile from the docks. He promptly returned the gold bar to the authorities. Almost all of the other gold bars were subsequently recovered from different parts of the city; the last ones to be found were hauled up from the bottom of the sea in the docks. However, during normal dredging operations carried out periodically to maintain the depth of the docking bays one or two gold bars were found intact sporadically as late as the 1970s and returned to the British government. The government took full responsibility for the disaster and monetary compensation was paid to citizens who made a claim for loss or damage to property.The Port Trust Railway from Ballard Pier to Wadala was opened in 1915.Along this railway were built grain and fuel oil depots. The kerosene oil installations were developed at Sewri and for petrol at Wadala. In the same year the first overhead transmission lines of the Tata Power Company were erected, and in 1927 the first electric locomotives manufactured by Metropolitan Vickers of England were put into service for passenger trains up to Poona and Igatpuri on the GIP railway and later electric multiple unit (EMUs) commuter trains ran up to Virar onthe BB&CI railway and up to Karjat and Kasara of the GIP railway.During the Second World War these EMUs were joined together to form long trains which carried troops and small arms and ammunition to and from Bombay to the hinterland. The Fort (downtown) area in Bombay derives its name from the fact that the area fell within the former walled city, of which only a small fragment survives as part of the eastern boundary wall of the St. George's Hospital.In 1813 there were 10,801 persons living in the fort, 5,464, or nearly 50%, of them Parsis. With the growth of the city more people came from the Fort to such suburbs as Byculla, Parel, Malabar Hill, and Mazagaon. European sports clubs for cricket and other games came in to existence early in the 19th Century. The Bombay Gymkhana was formed in 1875 exclusively for Europeans. Other communities followed this example, and various Parsi, Muslim, and Hindu gymkhanas were started nearby with fierce sports competitions among them being organized on a communal basis. This was opposed by several secular minded persons, such as the late A.F.S.Talyarkhan, and sports teams based on community, especially cricket teams, came to an end gradually after independence from British rule in 1947.The historic session of the All India Congress Committee began on the 7th of August 1942. Its venue was the Gowalia Tank Maidan, where the Congress was born in 1885. It was at this session that the 'Quit India' call was given by Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian National Congress leaders. The Indian leaders were arrested by The British soon afterwards but the momentum of the Quit India movement could not be stopped and led to the final withdrawal of the British on 15 August 1947. The last British troops on Indian soil left for England through the archway of the Gateway of India on that day. They bade farewell from where they had entered 282 years before. The people of Bombay ,in a gesture of generosity wished them bon voyage, forgetting the bitter memories of the fight for independence. Today the maidan from where the call to 'Quit India' was given is called the 'August Kranti Maidan'.After independence the Congress party led by Jawaharlal Nehru at the Center was swept to power in most of the Indian States, which were constituted on the basis of language spoken by the majority of its people. The Bombay State included the city as its seat of government.In 1960 the state of Bombay was split into Maharashtra and Gujarat states again on linguistic basis, the former retaining Bombay city as its capital. The Congress party continued to administer Maharashtra until 1994 when it was replaced by the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya JanataParty (BJP) coalition. With the success of the back-bay reclamation scheme in the late 1960s and early 1970s Nariman Point became the hub of the business activity.Several offices shifted from the Ballard Estate to Nariman Point,which ultimately became one of the most expensive real estate in the world as high demand pushed prices to astronomical limits. Nariman Point is named after K.F.Nariman, president of the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee and Former mayor of Bombay . Churchgate Street was also renamed as Veer Nariman Road after independence. The Stock Exchange at Bombay was established in 1875 as 'The Native Share and Stockbrokers Association' which has evolved over the decades in to its present Status as the premier Stock Exchange in India. It is one of the oldest in Asia having preceded even the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which was founded in 1878. In the early days the businesswas conducted under the shade of a banyan tree in front of the townhall. The tree can still be seen in the Horniman Circle Park . In 1850 the Companies Act was passed and that heralded the commencement Of the joint stock companies in India . The American Civil War of 1860 helped Indians to establish brokerage houses in Bombay. The leading broker at the time, Premchand Roychand, assisted in framing conventions, ground rules and procedures for trading which are respected even now. He was the first Indian broker who could speak and write in fluent English. The exchange was established with 318 members with a fee of Re. 1/-. This fee has gradually increased over the years and today it is a over a crore. In January 1899, James M. MaClean, M.P, inaugurated the Brokers' Hall.After the First World War the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) was housed in an old building near the Town Hall. In 1928, the present plot of land was Acquired surrounded by Dalal Street, Bombay Samachar Marg,and Hammam Street. A building was constructed in 1930 and occupied in December of that year. In 1995 the operations and dealings of the BSE were fully computerized And thus the famous out-cry system of share trading was replaced byscreen Based trading as in other modern stock exchanges around theworld. Today Bombay is the financial and business capital of India . The BSE is housed in the 28-storied Phiroze Jeejeebhoy Towers in the same place where the old building once stood. Sir Phiroze Jamshedji Jeejeebhoy was the Chairman of the Exchange from 1966 till his deathin 1980. The building has been named after him since its construction commenced during his Chairmanship and was completed just as he passed away.


Shyam-Sistema get pan-India CDMA spectrum

Shyam Telecom and Russian major Sistema combined became the first new telecom operator to get pan-India start-up spectrum to offer mobile services.Communication and IT Minister A Raja has signed the file for allotting CDMA spectrum to Shyam Telecom, which has sold majority stake to Russian conglomerate Sistema Inc.Shyam-Sistema had opted to offer mobile services in CDMA technology and had applied for 21 circles except Rajasthan where the company is already offering services under the brand name Oasis.Shyam-Sistema will be the third private pan-India operator offering mobile services using CDMA technology apart from Anil Ambani group company RCOM and Tata Teleservices.Other new telecom operators like Datacom, Unitech, Loop Telecom and Swan telecom have been alloted GSM radio frequency in six circles and the government is looking at the availability of spectrum in other circles too.Shyam-Sistema has already started rolling out network in various parts of the country and is hoping to start the services soon.

Nuclear Deal Update

The US has “principal focus” on the nuclear deal with India, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said.“Our principal focus right now has been on the India civil nuclear deal, having worked through the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), now working through the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group), and still trying to get into a position to make the appropriate presidential determinations in early September,” Rice told reporters on her way to Tel Aviv. “So that’s our focus right now on the civil nuclear side.” Rice’s comments came at a time when India’s foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon is in talks with US officials in Washington to address reservations expressed by some countries at NSG over the draft waiver that is required to push the deal forward. The 45-member group is scheduled to meet again on this issue on 6 September since a meeting in Vienna last week ended inconclusively. The NSG reaches decisions only by consensus. Meanwhile, NSG member New Zealand will continue to press for nonproliferation of nuclear weapons when it resumes talks, a senior government minister said in Wellington.New Zealand and other countries want conditions added to the agreement because India has not signed the Nonproliferation Treaty. India and the US did not want any conditions written into any supply agreement.
New Zealand disarmament minister Phil Goff said that while India had a good nonproliferation track record, it has developed, tested and possesses nuclear weapons.NSG’s key function is to formulate guidelines for managing exports of nuclear material, equipment and technology to ensure that this trade does not contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation

Currency Futures launched in India

Currency Futures begin in India today with trading to kick off at the National Stock Exchange.The MCX and the BSE also have received permissions to start trading in Currency Futures.

Four more Tiger Reserves

The National Tiger Conservation Authority has given an inprinciple approval for four new tiger reserves in different states in the country.The Rapa Pani Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh,Sahyadri Sanctuary in Maharashtra,Pilibhit Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh and Suna Beda in Orissa will be notified as Tiger Reserves.Pilibhit which gets a spill over tiger population from the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is reeling under poaching.The other three sanctuaries have a scattered tiger population.With the addition of these four tiger reserves,the total number of tiger reserves in the country will go up to 40. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of 6 Tiger Reserves in India.

India's Domestic IT Sector Snapshot

India's Domestic IT sector is all set to grow at a faster pace than other countries in the region.

India's Forex

Inspite of the recent reduction in India's Forex Reserves,the IMF says the position is healthy.

Mayawati debuts in Forbes' Powerful Women List

Making her debut in the club of 100 most powerful women in the world, Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati has joined Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a list compiled by US magazine Forbes.While Gandhi, also the chairperson of ruling UPA alliance, has slipped from her previous year's sixth rank to 21st this year, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has made her debut at 59th. The list also includes Indra Nooyi,the Indian-origin chief of global softdrink major PepsiCo, at third position, up from fifth lastyear,and Indian biotechnology firm Biocon's chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw at 99th. The list has been topped by German chancellor Angela Merkel. On Gandhi, the magazine said the Italian-born leader of India's most powerful political party has by now assumed the role of elder stateswoman. "Although she remains firmly at the head of the country's ruling party, a rising star, known by the single name Mayawati, is challenging Gandhi's position as the country's most powerful woman." The magazine said that Mayawati has aligned herself with the nationalist Hindu BJP party and joined its members in vociferously opposing Gandhi's party's historic agreement with the US on nuclear cooperation.
The magazine described Mayawati as the one, "in the running to be prime minister, from her perch as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state." "In 1995, at 39,she was the youngest politician elected to the post and was also the first Dalit... to head a state government," it said. The report further said that Mayawati commands a large following and goes simply by her firstname. "In 2007,she shrewdly built an alliance with Brahmins,and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which she heads,has started to increase its national presence. Some say she could trail-blaze again as India's first Dalit prime minister."
According to Forbes, its annual ranking of the most powerful women in the world measures "power" as a composite of public profile and financial heft. The economic component considers job title and past career accomplishments, as well as the amount of money the woman controls.
Merkel is followed by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp chairman Sheila C Bair of the US at the second position.

India-ASEAN FTA Update

About two billion people from 11 countries, with a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion, will come under a free trade regime by the year-end. After six years of negotiations,India and the ten-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) successfully wrapped up talks for the landmark free trade agreement in goods.The agreement,when signed in December,will be second only to a similar free trade pact China has with Asean. A joint media statement by India and Asean, said:
"Both the sides were able to reach an agreement on the modality for tariff reduction and/or elimination, which is among the key elements that will facilitate the creation of an open market in the region."Total Asean-India trade is around $38billion and is likely to grow to $50 billion by 2010.On Thursday, Asean also sealed a comprehensive free trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand with an aim to boost the $48-billion yearly trade between them.Along with India and China, there is now a free trade umbrella over the other ten fastest growing economies of the world that form Asean. These are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. For India, which had made FTAs a major part of its economic diplomacy, this agreement is the most significant one.
For Indian consumers, the agreement will bring cheap imports like plastics, electrical machinery, leather and rubber products from Asean. For industry, sourcing chemicals, including pesticides, and major raw materials like coal and petrochemicals would be far cheaper. At the same time, each country involved in the agreement would be able to protect around 500 items each from tariff cuts. India has chosen to keep mostly sensitive agriculture items in this negative list. In the talks there were acute differences on duty cuts on items like palm oil, coffee, pepper and tea.
The trade agreement will also enable India to be a part of the Asian trade integration, with Asean having trade pacts with China and Japan and South Korea. India's Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore will continue separately, with its emphasis on the services sector.
India has a partial FTA covering 82 items with Thailand and is in discussions with Malaysia and Indonesia for trade pacts. Terming the conclusion of the talks as a "key regional milestone", commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath, who represented India, said, "The countries of East Asia are important drivers of growth, with large consumption to drive global economies." Currently, India is Asean's seventh largest trading partner. Pointing out that India's trade with Asean is 9.6% of the country's total trade, Nath, however, said Asean's trade with India is just 2% of the trading bloc's global trade. "So the potential for enhanced economic engagement between Asean and India is profound".The formal inking of the AIFTA and the Asean-India Agreement on Dispute Settlement Mechanism would take place during the India-Asean summit in Bangkok in December and the implementation of tariff reduction commitments would start from January 1, 2009. Trade experts and industry bodies like CII and Ficci welcomed the conclusion of India-AseanFTA negotiations in goods trade. Ficci urges for an early start of negotiations in services and investment so that we could reap the full benefits of a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement.

The Rupee Rate

The Rupee has slid to a 17 month low against the US Dollar.

MMRDA plans new approach roads for Bandra Kurla Complex

The MMRDA is planning new approach roads to link the Bandra Kurla Complex to the other suburbs in Mumbai inproving east -west connectivity.The proposed access shall connect the business district to the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road via CST Road in Kalina.The second part of the plan calls for building a cable stayed bridge connecting to the Eastern Express Highway near Somaiyya Ground passing over the Mithi River and railway tracks.

Waste Plastic Bitumen Roads

Waste Plastic Bitumen roads make a lot of sense as not only are the roads more durable, at the same time plastic which is not easily bio degradable is used up.


Mukesh Ambani bats for the Nano

In a rare show of solidarity for a fellow industrialist, Mukesh Ambani came out in support of Ratan Tata’s Nano venture at Singur by terming the small car project one of “national importance’’ which deserved to be allowed to function without any hindrances. In a statement, the Reliance Industries chairman said: “The Nano project is a unique and innovative initiative which will establish India’s position as a small car hub. Indian industry must be encouraged to make such large investments in order to build the country’s competitiveness as well as support job creation.’’ Claiming that a “fear psychosis’’ is being created to slowdown a few projects of national importance, Ambani said this would be counterproductive for the country’s economic growth, its global image as well as its ability to attract investments from across the world. “Indian industry and the political leadership in the country need to work together to deliver on the aspirations of the millions of Indians in urban and rural areas,’’ Ambani said. Mukesh Ambani’s decision to comment on the Nano venture is somewhat unexpected because the older Ambani brother always prefers to keep a low profile and is not known to comment publicly on controversial issues. The Reliance chairman, who usually evades the media as far as possible, has never commented on his very public spat with his younger brother.


Pune's new International Airport update

Following a high-level meeting held by the chief minister in Mumbai , the district administration is all set to speed up the land acquisition process for the proposed international airport at Rajgurunagar.District collector Chandrakant Dalvi said that the administration would soon initiate talks with farmers and villagers regarding acquisition of land.Dalvi said, “The site for the airport has been finalised near Rajgurunagar, which is about 30 km from Pune. The Maharashtra Airport Development Company has been mandated to develop the airport, while the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation will carry out the land acquisition process. Nearly 3,330 hectares of land from more than seven villages has been identified for the airport project.” Dalvi said, “Along with the airport work, the administration also has plans to develop the region. This includes construction of roads to other parts of the district. We will ask the respective authorities to chalk out and develop road links to the airport simultaneously. Due attention will be given to finalisation of the plan and submission of the same to the infrastructural development committee for further approval.” The estimated cost of the airport is Rs 7,000 crore.

The End for Air Deccan

Air Deccan, which introduced the concept of low-cost flying in India, will cease to exist from next week and replaced by Kingfisher. The airline, which was taken over by Kingfisher, will stop using DN code for its flights, instead will start using the owner's IT code.This transition will happen even as Air India-Indian Airlines and Jet-Sahara (now JetLite) combines continue to use different codes for each airline. "We are going to be on a common platform," a Kingfisher official said when asked about the two codes. Under the common IT code and Kingfisher brand, the group will offer three distinct levels of service to passengers — economy and business class in the full service Kingfisher and an all economy section in the budget carrier.Kingfisher has been working on bringing the two airlines on a common platform for some time now as there were several complaints that a Deccan ticket being bought on Kingfisher website costs more than if it purchased on Deccan website.

Kosi submerges Bihar

Every once in a while, nature reminds humans it is the boss. The Kosi, which gathers water from some of the highest mountains in the world, including Everest, and enters India in north Bihar, has changed its course and shifted over 120 km eastwards, going back to a course it had abandoned more than 300 years ago.In the process it has rendered useless more than 300 km of embankments built to control its ever-angry waters. The effect has been enormous, inundating numerous towns and villages that had not seen such floods for decades.It is a Katrina moment in Bihar — nobody expected Hurricane Katrina to breach the levees protecting New Orleans, that too in 53 places flooding 80% of the city and leaving a trail of death and destruction. Just like the people of New Orleans, who felt secure because the levees were there, the people of Madhepura, Araria and Supaul districts had faith in the embankments to keep the waters from flooding the adjacent plains. But they had not reckoned with the enormous pent-up force unleashed by 51 billion cubic metres of water. It broke through the embankment just after the barrage at Bhimnagar — and swept into its old course.On Tuesday, panic swept through the flooded Purnia and Araria districts as rumours of pressure on the Raja bund in Nepal began floating around. Thankfully, the administration quickly allayed fears and said a crack had already been repaired.The Kosi is called the Sorrow of Bihar because among all the fast-flowing rivers speeding into Bihar, it is the most dangerous. It carries over 81 million tons of silt every year in its roiling waters. And, it is a young river, not having matured enough to settle on a course. As it enters the northern plains the incline drops off, and the water starts slowing down. Over the years silt gets deposited giving Kosi its braided shape — it has several channels that diverge and again merge, like a braid, as the water tries to find new ways to go further. As it shifts it leads a deposit of sand, which renders the land barren. Seen from a satellite, the area looks like a conical fan. Created by hundreds of years of shifting, it is the largest such cone in the world, covering an area of over 15,000 square km. The tip is near Chatra on the Nepal border. The cone is made up of the various courses of Kosi and the land in between. The Kosi used to wind its way on the eastern-most course. But as the silting raised the level of the bed, it kept shifting westwards. However, because there is an incline from the west to the east, the waters couldn’t move westward any more and have returned to the east.Experts argue that the embankments allowed too much silt deposition in a shorter stretch, leading to devastation. In other words, young Kosi is not being allowed to grow up and settle down.


1963 Dalwa–Nepal

1968 Jamalpur–Darbhanga

1971 Bhatania–Supaul

1980 Bahuarwa – Saharsa

1984 Nauhatta–Saharsa

1987 Samani–Saharsa

1991 Joginia–Nepal

2008 Kusaha–Nepal

FLOOD OF FURY Districts Hit: Supaul, Madhepura, Saharsa, Araria, Purnia and Katihar Population Hit: 21 lakh in 417 villages Worst Kosi flood was in: August 1954 with a magnitude of 8,50,000 cusecs Kosi barrage was designed for a peak of 9,50,000 cusecs. The massive breach of Aug 18 indicates the threshold was crossed Kosi, a transboundary Nepal-India river, drains an estimated 69,300 sq km before meeting the Ganga in Bihar Over past 250 years, Kosi has shifted over 120 km from east to west. The present shift is exactly reverse—to the east

Maximum City to get branded

International advertising agencies are making their pitch for a contract to make Mumbai a global brand. Two London-based firms—Achanchi and Start Limited—recently made a presentation on branding Mumbai before a meeting of the Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU) of the All-India Institute of Local Self Government.The head of the MTSU, UPS Madan, said, “The agencies have been asked to chart out an action plan for the city. After that we will discuss it. If found suitable, we will approach the government to fund the plan.’’ Madan said the strategy will highlight the city’s strengths and diversity to give it a stronger international presence.Chairman of Bombay First, Narinder Nayar, who attended the meeting along with secretary, urban development, Manu Srivastava, and Agni coordinator, Gerson Da Cunha, said that a number of cities worldwide have gone in for branding exercises, including New York, London, Dubai and Johannesburg.“It is essential to get involved in branding the city if you are to make a mark on the global scene,’’ said Nayar. Another big name in international marketing, Wally Olins, who runs the Saffron Brand Consultancy in London, also held talks with government officials a few months ago. In their presentation, Fiona Gilmore, chairman of Achanchi, along with Darren Whittingham and Rob Yates of Start Limited made it clear that branding and building a brand strategy is not about trademarks. “Cities become brands, they are marketed like products in order to attract investment,’’ she said. Madan said a strategy to brand Mumbai will have to be worked out after some research and meeting of various government departments.

Poverty in India

Some startling information...

India is home to roughly one-third of all poor people in the world. It also has a higher proportion of its population living on less than $2 per day than even sub-Saharan Africa. That is the sobering news coming out of the World Bank’s latest estimates on global poverty.The fine print of the estimates also shows that the rate of decline of poverty in India was faster between 1981 and 1990 than it was between 1990 and 2005.This is likely to give fresh ammunition to those who maintain that economic reforms have failed to reduce poverty at a faster rate.India, according to the new estimates, has 456 million people, or about 42% of the population, living below the new international poverty line of $1.25 per day. The Indian poor also constitute 33% of the global poor, which is pegged at 1.4 billion people.India also has 828 million people, or 75.6% of the population, living below $2 a day. Sub-Saharan Africa, considered the world’s poorest region, has 72.2% of its population, or 551 million people, below the $2-a-day level. The estimates are based on the recently recalculated purchasing power parity exchange rates, which makes comparisons across countries possible. The dollar exchange rates being referred to here are not the ones used in normal exchange rates. Although the World Bank is still to release its full report on the latest estimates on global poverty, a briefing note sent by it had some of the data which showed that the poverty rate—those below $1.25/day level—for India had come down from 59.8% in 1981 to 51.3% by 1990, or 8.5 percentage points over nine years. Between 1990 and 2005, it declined to 41.6%, a drop of 9.7 percentage points over 15 years, clearly a much slower rate of decline.An FAQ on the new estimates, also provided by the Bank, makes no mention of this and states, “India has maintained even progress against poverty since the 1980s, with the poverty rate declining at a little under one percentage point per year.’’ The note does point out that while India had 421 million below the $1.25-aday mark in 1981, that number had gone up to 456 million by 2005. Thus, while there has been a decline in the poverty ratio, the ranks of the poor are still swelling. According to the note, the new international poverty line of $1.25 PPP per day has been arrived at as “the average poverty line found in the poorest 10-20 countries’’. In other words, more than four out of 10 Indians live below what the world’s poorest countries consider the poverty line.The new estimates are sobering not just for India but for the developing world as a whole as they reveal higher levels of poverty than earlier estimated. For instance, even in China’s case, they suggest that 208 million people—16% of the population—live below the new international poverty line rather than the 130 million estimated earlier. However, that is still a sharp decline from the 730 million (84%) poor in that country in 1981. East Asia, in fact, is the region that has recorded the sharpest reductions in poverty—from about 79% of the population in 1981 to 18% in 2005. In contrast, Eastern Europe and Central Asia—broadly the former Soviet bloc—have seen poverty rates go up from 1.6% to 5%. What is noticeable in this region is the decline in poverty until 1987, when it was down to just 1% of the population, and the sharp rise subsequently.For sub-Saharan Africa, the worrying sign is that poverty rates are virtually unchanged from 1981, which is why the Bank estimates that by 2015, this region may be home to one-third of the world’s poor.


The Strategic Forces Command

For the first time since it was set up in 2003 to ‘‘manage and administer” India's nuclear arsenal, the crucial tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) will be getting an Army officer as its chief,Lt-General Balraj Singh Nagal. It was after the 10-month troop mobilisation along the Indo-Pak border under Operation Parakram in 2002 that the government had announced the creation of the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) headed by the PM as well as SFC in January 2003. Since then, SFC has made considerable progress, considering that for quite some time it did not have weapon delivery systems, adequate manpower or even a headquarterBut while a major gain has been a much higher degree of military confidence as far as nuclear command and control structures and related tasks are concerned, SFC still has some way to go before it becomes a fullfledged operational command, ready to respond at short notice. SFC, incidentally, only has the nuclear-capable Prithvi (150 to 350-km range), Agni-I (700-km) and Agni-II (2,500-km) ballistic missiles under its operational control at present. IAF, which sees itself as the primary custodian of the country's nuclear assets and delivery systems, has so far not handed over dedicated fighters to the SFC. ‘‘IAF says it does not have enough assets at present. Instead, it itself maintains some ‘dual tasked’ fighters, jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons. The SFC should ideally have at least half a squadron of dedicated bombers,” said a source. Similarly, the Navy has only two ‘‘dual-tasked” warships -- INS Subhadra and INS Suvarna --armed with the Dhanush (variant of Prithvi with a 330-km range) missiles.

Delhi to add 3,000 more low floor buses

With the number of buses in the Capital set to double before the Commonwealth Games, the transport department has sought at least 75 more bus depots for the city. For this, land for nine depots has been acquired from gram sabhas. In a first, the government is also planning to cover half the drains at Barapullah and Burari to construct double-storey bus depots spanning across several kilometres.The DTC fleet is going to increase from 3,000 to 6,900 buses, and another 5,000 buses which will come as a replacement for Bluelines also need to be provided parking space. So far, only the DTC buses were parked in depots. The private bus operators parked buses on the road-side. But with corporatization, they will be provided space in DTC depots after paying a nominal lease amount to DTC. ‘‘Parking space for an additional 7,700 buses needs to be created before March 2010 as the existing DTC depots can accomodate only 4200 buses. Land from gram sabhas is being taken over and two nallahs will also be covered to create double-storeyed bus depots,’’ said transport minister Haroon Yusuf.Each of the depots needs to be developed on an area of minimum five acres so that it can accommodate 100 buses. After a survey, the department has identified land for depots in Gadaipur, Dera Mandi, Mitraon, Asola, Dhansa, Chhawla, Raghopur, Bakkarwala and Kair villages and formalities have been initiated for the transfer. Two nallahs at Barapullah and Burari will also be covered half to create two storey bus depots. Meanwhile, the government, in Monday’s Cabinet meeting, has taken a decision to redevelop DTC depots and terminals as per the recommendations of Master Plan 2021, wherein multi-level structures will be created for parking buses and part of the area will be opened for commercial development. This is aimed at reducing DTC’s dependence on the government and would also help the corporation in taking up further improvement. This process of re-development would be initiated from the Vasant Vihar Depot, decided upon after an extensive survey by DIMTS. The Cabinet also approved purchase of 3,000 low-floor DTC buses, which include 1250 AC buses. This is 25% more than the number of buses decided for earlier. ‘‘The decision has been taken with the aim of augmenting intra service bus fleet of DTC. The new buses will include both low-floor AC and non-AC buses and the Cabinet has directed DTC to initiate negotiations for purchase of buses,’’ said an official.

India adds 9.22 million mobile users in July

India, the world's fastest-growing mobile services market, added a record 9.22 million wireless subscribers in July as against 8.94 million in June. The total user base now stands at 296.08 million in the country, said Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. However, wireline or fixed line connections fell by 0.16 million, pulling down the overall increase in telephone connections to 9.06 million in the month under review, according to data released by telecom regulator Trai. The prospect of 10-million mobile user addition is a good possibility, said a private player. The overall tele-density was 29.08% in July 2008 as against 28.33% in June. Though there has been an increase in the addition of wireless subscribers, fixedline users continued to dwindle with the subscribers base declining to 38.76 million in July from 38.92 in June, 2008.The total number of telephone connections reached 334.84 million at the end of July 2008, as compared with 325.78 million in June 2008, the statement added. The total wireless subscribers {GSM, CDMA and WLL(F)}, base stood at 296.08 million in July as against 286.86 in June, it noted. The broadband subscribers reached 4.57 million mark in July as compared with 4.38 million in June. Top mobile operator Bharti Airtel added about 2.67 million new customers. The company had 72.07 million mobile users at the end of July.Reliance Communications added about 1.74 million wireless users to have 52.53 million subscribers and Vodafone Essar added 1.75 million mobile customers in July, taking its total to 50.95 million.

Infosys to acquire Axon Group

In what will be the largest ever overseas acquisition by an Indian company in the IT services domain, Infosys Technologies has made an offer to acquire UK-based SAP consultancy services firm Axon Group in an all-cash deal valued at £407 million (Rs 3,310 crore, $753 million). The move marks a clear attempt by India’s second largest software services exporter to move up the value chain. Kapil Dev Singh, country manager for technology research firm IDC India, said the acquisition signals a trend among Indian IT services firms to enhance their focus from low hanging maintenance kind of services, with a higher bias for top line growth, to high-end domain services that could add to the bottom line.Infosys will pay a price of $11.12 per share for the London Stock Exchange-listed Axon, which is a 33% premium over its six month average price and 19% premium over its closing price last Friday. Axon, which has 2,000 employees, reported a revenue of £205 million (Rs 1,660 crore) and a profit after taxation of £20 million (Rs 160 crore) in the year ended December 31, 2007. The UK company’s revenue is estimated to be growing at 42.7% year-on-year.Infosys is paying nearly double Axon’s revenue to buy it. The acquisition helps Infosys narrow the lead that TCS has over it. Last year, TCS recorded a revenue of $5.7 billion, as against Infosys’ $4.18 billion.Explaining the rationale for the deal, V Balakrishnan, CFO of Infosys Technologies, said at a press conference on Monday that the company’s SAP practice revenue grew by 65.5% (CAGR over last three years) and is showing good growth momentum for the future. “Around 19% of our revenues come from enterprise solutions of which one-third is due to SAP. With Axon, we can strengthen our offerings to high-end clients as well as get consultancy services for SAP segment,’’ he added.Axon provides consultancy services that designs, implements and supports solutions in companies that have selected SAP as their strategic enterprise platform. The company services 200 plus clients in 30 countries. About 55% of Axon’s revenues are from the European region. This will help Infosys in its diversification strategy. The company has been trying to reduce its dependence on the US, given that the US economic slowdown is compelling clients there to delay orders.“Axon is looking for financial scale, global delivery and leveraging on its growth,’’ said Balakrishnan. Infosys MD Kris Gopalakrishnan said the company expects the deal to be completed by November 2008. Infosys had last year acquired three captive BPOs from Netherlands-based Philips NV for $250 million. It had also acquired Expert Information Services of Australian in December 2003 for about $23 million.


SEZs in Maharashtra

Even as more than half a dozen multicrore special economic zones remain locked in agitations involving the acquisition of land in the coastal Konkan region, the high-level board of approval headed by Union commerce secretary G K Pillai cleared nine SEZs in the state.They will require a total of nearly 6,000 hectares of land, attract investment of Rs 20,000 crore,and generate 3.5 lakh jobs.An official said that in view of the farmers’ response, it was high time the board of approval and entrepreneurs first examined the availability of land and only then cleared projects. Among the SEZs cleared were the Cavalcade IT SEZ, Skyzone IT SEZ, D S Kulkarni multiproduct SEZ and Bharat Forge multiproduct SEZ (all in Pune), Rameshwar Vaibhav SEZ (Raigad), Sun Infrastructure IT SEZ (Nashik), JSW port-based SEZ (Ratnagiri), MIDC engineering SEZ (Satara), and Essel multipurpose SEZ in Gorai (Mumbai). L&T’s IT SEZ in Powai has been held up on account of a minor deficiency. For an IT SEZ, the minimum land requirement is 25 acres, and L&T’s proposed project is short by 0.7 acres. Investment in the project will be Rs 720 crore. It is expected to create 14,000 jobs, and have an export potential of Rs 8,000 crore. “L&T has written to the Centre it is in the process of acquiring the remaining 0.7 acres of land. So far, they have not submitted any specific undertaking for the purpose. Once it submits the letter, we will quickly forward it for approval,’’ the official said. Bharat Forge’s proposal said, SEZ will require 1,200 hectares of land, attract an investment of Rs 5,000 crore, and create 15,000 jobs. Rameshvar Vaibhav will require 2,000 hectares of land, an investment of Rs 13,380 crore and is expected to create 1.5 lakh jobs. Essel Infrastructure’s Gorai project will require 100 hectares of land and an investment of Rs 807 crore, and will generate 1.5 lakh jobs. Essel, which owns land in Gorai, will not require government or private land. It claims its export potential will be nearly Rs 20,000 crore. Cavalcade Properties’ SEZ in Pune requires ten hectares of land, and investment worth nearly Rs 307 crore. It is expected to create 20,000 jobs.

Konkan: 48%

Western region: 34%

Marathwada: 11%

Vidarbha: 7%

More SEZs in Maharashtra

Even as more than half a dozen multicrore special economic zones remain locked in agitations involving the acquisition of land in the coastal Konkan region, the high-level board of approval headed by Union commerce secretary G K Pillai cleared nine SEZs in Maharashtra.They will require a total of nearly 6,000 hectares of land, attract investment of Rs 20,000 crore,and generate 3.5 lakh jobs.“The entire 6,000 hectares of land will not have to be acquired, since the state-run industrial development corporation is already in possession of part of the land. Certainly, for the remaining land, we are facing an uphill task in view of the strong opposition from farmers,’’ a senior industries department official said. The official said that in view of the farmers’ response, it was high time the board of approval and entrepreneurs first examined the availability of land and only then cleared projects. Among the SEZs cleared were the Cavalcade IT SEZ, Skyzone IT SEZ, D S Kulkarni multiproduct SEZ and Bharat Forge multiproduct SEZ (all in Pune), Rameshwar Vaibhav SEZ (Raigad), Sun Infrastructure IT SEZ (Nashik), JSW port-based SEZ (Ratnagiri), MIDC engineering SEZ (Satara), and Essel multipurpose SEZ in Gorai (Mumbai). L&T’s IT SEZ in Powai has been held up on account of a minor deficiency. For an IT SEZ, the minimum land requirement is 25 acres, and L&T’s proposed project is short by 0.7 acres. Investment in the project will be Rs 720 crore. It is expected to create 14,000 jobs, and have an export potential of Rs 8,000 crore. “L&T has written to the Centre it is in the process of acquiring the remaining 0.7 acres of land. So far, they have not submitted any specific undertaking for the purpose. Once it submits the letter, we will quickly forward it for approval,’’ the official said. Bharat Forge’s proposal said, SEZ will require 1,200 hectares of land, attract an investment of Rs 5,000 crore, and create 15,000 jobs. Rameshvar Vaibhav will require 2,000 hectares of land, an investment of Rs 13,380 crore and is expected to create 1.5 lakh jobs. Essel Infrastructure’s Gorai project will require 100 hectares of land and an investment of Rs 807 crore, and will generate 1.5 lakh jobs. Essel, which owns land in Gorai, will not require government or private land. It claims its export potential will be nearly Rs 20,000 crore. Cavalcade Properties’ SEZ in Pune requires ten hectares of land, and investment worth nearly Rs 307 crore. It is expected to create 20,000 jobs.

Konkan: 48%

Western region: 34%

Marathwada: 11%

Vidarbha: 7%

Expressways planned

Bangalore and Chennai will be connected by an expressway that will cost Rs 465 crore. This is part of the Centre’s efforts to build four expressways of about 1,000 km at a cost of Rs 15,000 crore. The other expressways will come up between Kolkata and Dhanbad, New Delhi and Meerut and Vadodara and Mumbai. These will be toll roads. “All will be taken up on ‘build operate transfer’ basis under the PPP model,’’ Union minister of state for road transport K H Muniyappa told reporters in Bangalore .The Bangalore-Chennai expressway will be a greenfield project. Its alignment will be different from the existing roads that pass through Hosur and Chittoor.

FDI State Rankings

Foreign Direct Investment inflows into the states of India during the period April 2008 to May 2008.

The K Question

Kashmir is everywhere.Glance through newspapers,magazines..flip through television channels.You cannot miss Jammu and Kashmir or Jammu versus Kashmir as they call it.Views and opinions are varied on the issue.Still there is no solution in sight.

Gurcharan Das's take on the situation:
A Kashmiri Muslim student came to see me last week and it was not long before our conversation turned to the current azadi wave in the valley. He did not think that an independent Kashmir was viable, and its only choice was either to be with India or with Pakistan. After a pause he asked guilelessly, why was India a democracy and Pakistan an autocracy? This set me thinking. I told him that Pakistan was more the norm — Third World countries do not generally become stable democracies. India is an exception. India’s democracy and Pakistan’s autocracy have deep roots in history. India’s nationalist movement was older and more widespread. Millions of ordinary Indians were drawn in by Mahatma Gandhi. Muslim nationalism emerged later and did not become a mass movement — Jinnah was more comfortable in the drawing room rather than the ‘dusty road’. While Indians prepared for democracy over three generations, Pakistanis-to-be got the itch only a couple of years before independence. After independence, Pakistan’s politicians performed abysmally. The Muslim League Party disintegrated; there were nine governments in 10 years and the army under Ayub Khan seized power in 1958. Jinnah’s great error was to impose Urdu as the national language when only 8% of Pakistanis spoke Urdu and 55% spoke Bengali. Thus, he sowed the seeds of Bangladesh. Sri Lanka made the same tragic mistake. India did not succumb to this anti-democratic temptation by imposing Hindi. This is how India gave space for subidentities to flourish, allowed the rise of peoples’ leaders from linguistic states, and deepened democracy. Although his slogan in the 1945-46 elections in undivided India was ‘Islam is in danger’, Jinnah wanted to build a modern nation. Even though General Zia-ul-Haq reinforced theological priority, i do not believe Islam prevents Pakistan from being democratic. The rise of Islamism does tear the ordinary Pakistani’s loyalty between the brotherhood and the state, but the maulvi is not Pakistan’s natural leader as in Iran. The chief obstacle to democracy is the army. Hence, i am relieved that Musharraf is gone. It does create a vacuum that might be filled by extremists, but in the longer term the best thing for India is to have a democratic Pakistan. For a brief moment in the mid-1970s the two nations seemed to converge. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto began to steer Pakistan towards genuine democracy while Indira Gandhi took India on the path of dictatorship. The paths diverged after 1977 as Mrs Gandhi called an election and Bhutto was executed by Zia in 1979. India returned to the path of democracy, whose binding glue is the liberal notion that all Indians are equal citizens before the law, owing loyalty to the Constitution. This is a British legacy. Before that we were a collection of communities and kingdoms. Although we still feel loyal to our caste or community, we are different from the tragic Pakistanis whose land has been hijacked by the military. Once there is military rule you get a state within a state. You are powerless to stop your secret service from creating monsters like the Taliban and before you know it your country has become the world’s top university for terrorists. I then turned to my young Kashmiri friend. He wished more Kashmiris could come and see India’s vibrant democracy, its confident economy and the rise of the lowborn. ‘‘There is a simple choice before all Kashmiris,’’ he said. ‘‘If you want to be a citizen of a modern democracy with unparalleled opportunities, you will choose self-assured India. If you believe that Islam is in danger and you want the army’s protection, you will choose tragic Pakistan.’’
The Times of India conducted a survey in Urban India to gauge the opinion of the citizens of India.Here are their findings: