UP gets 3 more districts

Prabudhnagar, Bhimnagar and Panchsheelnagar will be the three new districts of Uttar Pradesh. Chief minister Mayawati made an announcement about the formation of these districts on Wednesday. The step has been taken to provide better administration, she said after touring the three districts to start her election campaign. With this, UP now has 75 districts. In a swift move, the state government also posted the district magistrates and police chiefs in the new districts. Announcing the formation of Hapur as a district, Mayawati said the new district – Panchsheel Nagar – will be carved out of the existing Ghaziabad. Consisting of the existing Hapur and Garhmukteshwar tehsils of Ghaziabad, the district will comprise a third tehsil, Dhaulana, which has been formed for inclusion in the new district. With a population of 14.22 lakh, the headquarters of Panchsheelnagar will be at Hapur. Similarly, the Prabudhnagar district will be carved out of erstwhile Muzaffarnagar, comprising Shamli and Kairana tehsils. The new district will have a population of 12.54 lakh. The official creation of Shamli as a district is being regarded as chief minister Mayawati’s attempt to make good on the poll promise she made to her vote bank ahead of the previous assembly elections in 2007. With the state ready to go to the polls again in 2012, the chief minister will play the caste card this time, reaching out to the majority Jat community in the region.

PANCHSHEELNAGAR : Population: 14.2 lakh; HQ: Hapur. It will be carved out of the existing Ghaziabad & comprise Hapur & Garhmukteshwar tehsils of Ghaziabad and a new tehsil, Dhaulana

PRABUDHNAGAR : Population: 12.54 lakh; HQ: Shamli. It will be carved out of erstwhile Muzaffarnagar, comprising Shamli & Kairana tehsils

BHIMNAGAR : Population: 22.12 lakh; HQ: Not decided. It would be formed by joining Sambhal and Chandausi tehsils of Moradabad, along with Gunaur tehsil of the existing Badaun district

Bhimnagar district, Mayawati said, would be formed by joining Sambhal and Chandausi tehsils of Moradabad, along with Gunaur tehsil of the existing Badaun district. Apart from three tehsils, the district will also comprise seven development blocks and have a population of 22.12 lakh. Though the district headquarters have not been identified yet, the chief minister said that it will be created in the centre of the three tehsils for easy access. Attributing the decision to form smaller administrative units to the spirit of Dalit icon Bhim Rao Ambedkar the Chief Minister said small units helped in better administration. Playing the trusted caste card, Mayawati also talked about reservations for Muslims and Jats, adding that there was an urgent need for quota in accordance with their population. She had, in this connection, written a letter recently to the Union government in this connection. Mayawati also said there should be a bench of the High Court in western UP. Using the district formation plank to articulate her familiar grouse against the Centre, Mayawati also said that the state government had undertaken several schemes for the over all development of western UP. Most schemes –like the International airport at Jewar, the Ganga expressway as well as the Upper Ganga Canal Expressway – have all been delayed because the Union government has dragged its feet on giving approvals to the state government. Development of Bundelkhand, Mayawati said, has suffered for the same reasons.

Chennai ATC to control south sky

Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) in Chennai now have the entire South Indian region on their radar screens. Thanks to a highly advanced integrated radar technology that became accessible from Thursday last, flight movements above 26,000-46,000 feet will mainly be coordinated. Airliners can look forward to better economic flying levels, advanced safety surveillance and less carbon in the skies. More flights can be operated as the system expands air space capacity while reducing carbon emissions. A recent study by INSPIRE (Indian Ocean Strategic Partnership to Reduce Emissions) says that in 2011, integrated radar networks and better navigational technologies can help save about 2.47 million litres of fuel and cut down about 6,850 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the skies. Chennai, among the four flight information centres in the country besides Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, will now have Hyderabad, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore under its control. The high frequency radio conversations between ATCs and pilots from different area control centres can easily be coordinated from the Chennai Flight Information Center using a VHF Cross Coupling technology. The system will help pilots switch on to the respective radar stations with a remote system at the Chennai ATC. The system also helps ensure desired flight levels for pilots. By flying at the desired height, a navigator can ensure an economic level of flying — reducing fuel consumption and carbon emission. The new air traffic control technology, AUTOTRACIII Plus, was supplied and installed by US-based Raytheon, integrating various radars in the specified region.

Calcutta HC's Singur ruling snippets

In a major victory for Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta high court on Wednesday ruled in favour of her government in the Singur land battle, saying it was well within its rights to repossess the land given to Tata Motors for a small car factory. Tata Motors can’t get back possession of the land but can apply to the district judge of Hooghly for compensation. Justice I P Mukherjee announced an unconditional stay on his order until November 2, giving Tata Motors an opportunity to file an appeal before a division bench of the Supreme Court. He observed that the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, and the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Rules, 2011, were valid and constitutional. He pointed out that the court had failed to see any public purpose served in the handing over of the land to Tata Motors in the first place. As no socio-development had taken place in Singur due to the plans for a small car factory, the court said it would serve public purpose to hand over part of the land to the farmers. The court, however, pointed out that the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, was unclear about compensation. This made it essential for the court to interpret the issue of compensation. While doing so, it decided that compensation should be decided on the basis of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The compensation will have to paid by the government as decided by the district judge within six months of an application by Tata Motors.

Pipavav ties up with Airbus

After it's tie up with Mazgaon Docks has been put on hold by the Ministry of Defence, Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company (formerly Pipavav Shipyard) on Wednesday announced its foray into the aviation sector by signing a pact with Airbus to set up an aircraft maintenance facility in the country through ajoint venture. As per the MoU, European Aeronautic, Defence and Space Co, (EADS), the makers of Airbus, will pick up 26% equity in the project and have the option to increase it to 49%, Pipavav said in a regulatory filing. The filing added that 51% stake in the proposed JV will be held by Pipavav, while its promoters SKIL Infra will also hold some stake. The JV to develop maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities and associated infrastructure is likely to cost $100 million in the first phase and will be used for civilian and military applications, the filing stated. “This will be a one of its kind joint venture being set up in India with equity participation from EADS, France (Airbus) which is the global leader in defence and aerospace.”

Mallya grounds Kingfisher Red

Vijay Mallya on Wednesday said he was shutting down Kingfisher Red and exiting the low-cost aviation sector in what is seen as a bid to salvage his debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines. “We are doing away with KF Red as we don’t intend to compete in the low-cost segment. We believe there are more than enough guests who prefer to travel the full service Kingfisher Class,” Mallya, who entered the low-cost arena four years ago by acquiring Air Deccan from Captain Gopinath for $300 million, said.

Modi has put Gujarat on the world map : Mukesh Ambani

RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani has hailed Narendra Modi for putting Gujarat on the world map. “You have made India and Indians proud by putting Gujarat on the global map. The world is taking note of Gujarat’s model and your flawless execution. Gujarat is blessed to have an inspiring leader like you. All I can say is thank you,” Ambani told the BJP leader at the second convocation of the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University on Tuesday. Addressing the students, Ambani, the president and chairman of the varsity, said, “I wish I was 25 years younger and in your place. It reminds me of a time when I felt all impossible things were possible. If an arid land in Jamnagar can be converted into the refining capital of the world and if a sleepy village in Gujarat can become the automotive hub of Asia, I feel anything can be done.”


Gloomy August IIP numbers !

Somewhere in J&K....

Chief minister Omar Abdullah has said that his government will start the process of exhuming and DNA profiling of bodies that lie in 38 graveyards. “It shall not happen overnight, but we will follow the recommendations of the state human rights commission,” the CM said. The issue of graveyards is tied to the emotive subject of those who “disappeared” in Kashmir’s 20-year-old insurgency. Organizations like Association for Parents of Disappeared Persons put the figure at 10,000 people. The government and security forces have long said the figure is exaggerated. It’s here the SHRC report on the 2,700 graves in north Kashmir comes in. Many see this as affirmation of the story of thousands of innocents who vanished in the nightmare of torture cells and fake encounters.

Honda launches the Brio

Honda made an aggressive pitch in the high volume compact car segment by rolling out Brio on Tuesday, pricing the base variant at Rs 3.95 lakh (exshowroom Delhi). The lowest-priced car from the Japanese company’s stable will compete with models like Maruti’s Swift and WagonR and Hyundai’s i10 and i20. After effecting major price cuts on its two models —Rs 66,000 cut on the City sedan and Rs 1.6 lakh reduction on Jazz — Honda expects the 1200cc Brio will lead its revival in India. However, the push comes at a time when demand for diesel vehicles has gone up in a big way and Honda does not have diesel engine. Company officials said they were confident that the Brio would manage to generate sufficient demand just as its R&D (research & development) centre works on developing diesel engine. Honda has fallen behind due to absence of diesel variants from its line-up and rising competition from companies like Volkswagen and Hyundai. While the overall car market grew at 30% in the last financial year, Honda’s sales fell 4%. In the first five months of the current financial year (April-August 2011-12), the company’s sales have dropped 13%, though this has happened in a struggling passenger vehicle market, which has managed only a 2% growth. “The Brio gives us entry into the big-volume segment,” Takashi Nagai, president and chief executive of Honda Siel Cars India, said. Nagai did not speak on the company’s profitability in India post the price cuts on City and Jazz, but industry analysts said Honda has decided to go in for volumes at the cost of margins.

Cash - for - votes case update

Sudheendra Kulkarni (54), who was sent to Tihar jail on Tuesday for his alleged role in the cash-for-votes scam, had not appeared before the court on two previous dates despite summons to him as he was in the US. Stating that he was a “whistleblower” in the scam, Kulkarni had moved an application for interim bail on the ground that he was not arrested by the Delhi police even during the probe into the case. But special judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal denied Kulkarni relief and ordered that he be taken into judicial custody till October 1 after which the court will hear his regular bail plea. The police, he claimed, had turned an expose into a case of entrapment. The court also reserved for Wednesday its order on the regular bail plea of Amar Singh who is out on interim bail, which was extended till Wednesday. During the arguments, the judge pulled up the prosecution for arresting only some of the accused named in the chargesheet. “They (prosecution) have no justification for arresting 2-3 accused and leaving the others behind. They cannot pick and choose,” the judge said. Seeking interim bail, Kulkarni said, “I cannot be made an accused in this case. An impression has been gathered that I did not appear before the court intentionally, but I was actually performing some fatherly duties. If you (judge) want, I can show you the documents in this regard.” Describing him as a person keen to expose corruption, Kulkarni’s counsel said no purpose would be served by keeping him in jail as the chargesheet was already filed and it would not prejudice the prosecution case if he was given bail. On the court’s query as to why he did not inform the law enforcement agencies immediately after the MPs were approached for their votes , the lawyer said, “I (Kulkarni) did not inform because I wanted to expose it in the Lok Sabha.”

We will complete full term : PM

On Board PM’s Special Aircraft: Speaking to reporters on his way back from the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “Nothing should be done to weaken the self-confidence of the nation.” Asked about the escalation in the opposition’s attack on the 2G scam issue, he said, “The opposition is getting prematurely restless. We have a mandate from the people to govern and the opposition should wait for two-and-a-half years. The opposition feels that they have got hold of some weakness of the government and therefore by focusing attention on that, they can force an early election. It is not going to happen. This government has the mandate for five years and will stay its full course and we will do things which, when you look back, will surprise the country.” Singh fielded questions on an array of issues, including ones like the perceived Mukherjee-Chidambaram feud over a finance ministry document which suggested that Chidambaram, while in charge of the ministry, eventually supported former telecom minister A Raja’s stand not to auction 2G spectrum. He played down the perception of dissension in the government, asserted that India would defy global slowdown to grow at 7-8% and that the scoresheet of UPA-2 at the end of its tenure would surprise people, while acknowledging that his government lacked a good communications strategy. He expressed confidence in both Chidambaram and Mukherjee, saying there was no “dissension” between the two. He said his ministers may have different perspectives on a given issue, but that did not amount to “lack of cohesion” in the government. The PM also indicated that he was not considering a significant reshuffle of the portfolios of his ministers.


Precious metals slip

Fixed income....the only stable investment option at the moment?

Cartoon Capers

Happenings in India thru cartoonists ....

Rahul baba in Kashmir

Rahul Gandhi @ the University of Kashmir
From invoking his Kashmiri roots to relating his personal ordeal and projecting himself as a terror victim, Rahul used all his tools to connect with the young Kashmir students at the university. Around 2,500 students snubbed Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani and came in hoardes to listen to the Gandhi scion at the same place where a few months ago religious zealots forced the cancellation of a fund-raising cultural show — Ilham. Geelani had called on students not to participate in any youth Congress membership drive in the university."This is a special day ….I am a Kashmiri, as most of you know," Rahul told the cheering crowd.The Congress leader then referred to remarks of University officials who said he was one of the youngest parliamentarians in the country. "Unfortunately that is not the case. I joined parliament seven years ago. I am not middle aged but almost middle aged," he said. During the tete a tete, he told the students they were much younger to him. "I am 40 and you are 20. It is not a small difference," Rahul said. Rahul poured his heart out to reach out to the students. He minced no words while describing his life as a child who lost his grandmother and father in quick succession."I was 14 when my grandmother Indira Gandhi was killed and that was the single biggest incident that shook me up. I remember the day when I was in the classroom studying geography and a woman helper came to me and asked me to come back. I was later told that my grandmother has been shot dead. It shattered my inner core," he said. If Rahul could invoke his personal tragedy, can Kashmiri students remain far behind? A student in the audience also revealed the tragic story about his father's death. "I lost my father when I was only nine," he remarked while Rahul listened with rapt attention. Another student was candid enough to raise the issue of harassment of Kashmiris in other states. "Why are Kashmiri students being harassed outside," the student asked. Another student asked Rahul why MNCs are reluctant to invest in Kashmir. Students were enthused to meet the Congress leader despite the tight security checks. "I was waiting since morning for Rahul Ji to come," a student said.

GE to set up facility in Pune

General Electric, one of the world's most admired conglomerates, has chosen Pune for its integrated manufacturing facility.GE will invest $200 million ( Rs.1,000 crore, approximately) in the multi-technology and multi-business facility that would come up in a 60 acre plot in Pune, GE's India president and CEO John L Flannery announced in Bangalore on Monday. It would have a manpower requirement of around 2,000 and help the company expand its product portfolio to increase its market share and revenues in India, he said. The Pune facility will be a source for all of GE's India businesses and help the conglomerate localise it products for India, Flannery said. GE said it plans to add another 6,000 to its workforce (GE currently employs 14,000 people in India) in the next two to three years. Jeffrey Immelt, GE chairman and CEO said that the conglomerate was aiming to use the India technology centres — in Bangalore and Hyderabad — to develop 30% of its products for the local market. Currently 15% of the R&D centres' product development is for the local market. Discounting fears of a double-dip recession, Immelt said that was not what most businesses were seeing today. "I think it is a mixture of different sentiments that are going on," he said, adding that "business is better than the mood".Immelt said that there was a robust demand for infrastructure products and that the growth in the sector will continue."We still see robust demand for our infrastructure products and financial services in the Indian sub-continent. We will continue to focus on aviation, transportation, energy and healthcare to grow our business, which had seen about 30% increase last year," Immelt said.He said he remained bullish on India as it ranks among the three fastest growing businesses for GE. "We have substantial business coming up in the renewable sector, especially wind energy with orders for $100 million this year and hope to do $250-million business in the sector next year," he said.

The most preferred retail destination

India is the most preferred new destination for global retailers who now bet on emerging markets to offset worsening economic conditions in the developed world, says a new study. India topped the list in a survey of 323 international retailers about the markets they entered for the first time last year, done by property agents CB Richard Ellis. Yet, several global retailers — who gathered at the annual World Retail Congress in Berlin — seem to have taken a wait-and-watch approach to investing in the country because they are not permitted to enter multi-brand retailing yet. “We think India has the potential but, honestly, we haven’t even studied the market,” said Janet Grove, vice-chair at US department stores chain Macy’s, which is now gung-ho on China. “India is down the road, but first will be China.” India does not allow foreign investment in multibrand retailing. The only way such retailers can operate in the country is through franchise partners. According to the CB Richard Ellis study, which covered 75 countries, eight retailers entered India last year, while seven entered second-placed Turkey. “If many retailers are already entering the Indian market, then I don’t think there is so much of an entry barrier,” said Neville Moss, director – head of EMEA Retail Research at CB Richard Ellis. “International retailers will just be more confident on the sense of ownership given in a foreign country,” he added. In terms of number of international retailers who have presence in a country, India ranks 35 with just about one-fourth of the world’s retailers having set shop here. China is ranked seventh with a presence of 46% of retailers. The list is topped by UK with 57.6% retailers’ presence in 2011. New Delhi ranked as the fourth most popular city for new retail entrants at city level. Retailers are increasingly looking at economies such as India and China, which have the best growth prospects and are least likely to be affected by austerity measures. Many retailers are working to persuade the government to loosen the foreign direct investment (FDI) restrictions in the country with more than a billion customer base. The CB Richard Ellis report expects a change in legislation is expected in the medium term, which may woo many international retailers to India.

Mayawati's poll-itics

Poll practice has begun. And it’s about to give districts number 73, 74, and 75. A practised hand at creating and renaming districts after dalit icons, the BSP government has decided to add Hapur, Shamli and Deoband to the existing list of 72 districts (according to UP government records). In the past, forming or renaming geographical units, analysts say, was aimed at enhancing dalit pride. According to rough estimates, it has won BSP nearly three dozen assembly seats in districts named after dalit icons. This time, though, Mayawati is doing things differently. “She’s creating districts to appeal to a votebank that has not, traditionally, been loyal to her. It also speaks volumes of her prime ministerial aspirations. She wants to appeal to a wider audience; beyond the dalit community,’’ a Lucknow-based political analyst said. Mayawati had carved out new administrative units even during her previous tenure. In 2010, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar was created from Sultanpur and Rae Bareli, a move that assumed political significance because it was believed to be the political borough of the Gandhi clan


MAHAMAYA NAGAR Till 1997, Hathras was an ordinary town famous for its culture and literature. Its first brush with an identity crisis came when Mayawati took over as UP chief minister and renamed Hathras after Gautam Buddha’s mother Mahamaya. Once a sub-divison of Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar was also declared a new district. In 1998, though Mayawati lost power, the town was renamed Hathras. In 2002, Mayawati returned to the CM’s chair and once again, Hathras became Mahamaya Nagar. This was not the end of Hathras’ change in identity. In 2006, when Samajwadi Party was voted to power, then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav renamed Mahamaya Nagar to Hathras. Maya, after she regained power in 2007, changed the name of the town for the fifth time

CHHATRAPATI SHAHUJI MAHARAJ NAGAR Though it still hasn’t gained recognition as UP’s 72nd district in Census 2011, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar (CSMN) is, according to UP government records, the state’s newest district. It came into existence on July 1, 2010, when three tehsils of erstwhile Sultanpur district – Amethi, Gauriganj and Musafirkhana – and two tehsils of Rae Bareli – Salon and Tiloi – were merged. Significantly, the new district incorporates the entire Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, considered the political borough of the Gandhi family. The notification for creating CSMN was issued by the Mayawati government on May 21, 2003. But it was revoked by the Mulayam Singh government in the same year. Finally, in 2010, the decision to re-create the district was taken at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Mayawati. The district comprises five tehsils, 16 development blocks, 17 police stations and 401 lekhpal areas. Even though the decision for forming the district was settled in favour of UP in July 2010, the state government notified the Registrar General of Census Operations that census work could continue without including CSMN as UP’s newest district.

RAMABAI NAGAR Earlier known as Kanpur Dehat, the district was renamed as Ramabai Nagar after Dr BR Ambedkar’s first wife on July 1, 2010. In an official statement after the district’s formation, BSP spokesperson had said that Kanpur Dehat was renamed after Ambedkar’s wife because she was a great source of inspiration and played an important role in Ambedkar’s life. The spokesperson clarified that the need for renaming the district was felt because two adjoining districts that counted almost the same – Kanpur Nagar and Kanpur Dehat – were leading to enormous “administrative confusion’’. Political analysts, however, saw this as Mayawati’s attempt to build a dalit votebank.

AMBEDKAR NAGAR Mayawati created Ambedkar Nagar out of Faizabad in June 1995 after being sworn in as chief minister for the first time. Out of five assembly seats falling in the district at that time, her party had won only two — Katehari and Akbarpur. But she reaped the dividends of her strategy in the 2007 assembly election when she also won the three remaining seats — Chanda, Gosainganj and Ambedkar Nagar. Significantly, the BSP chief repeatedly reminded the voters during campaigning that she had named the district after a dalit icon for the community’s pride.

SANT KABIR NAGAR This district was carved out of Basti in March 1997, when Mayawati became CM for six months. This too was seen as an attempt to woo a fresh voter base. After the fresh formation, in fact, BSP’s prospects did change for the better. Where her party staked claim to one assembly seat – Haisar Bazaar – in 1997, by 2007, BSP won 4 out of 5 assembly seats. The party improved its performance in Basti district was well, from which the Sant Kabir district was originally carved out

KANSHIRAM NAGAR was created in April 2008 by separating Kasganj, Patiali and Sahawar tehsils from Etah district. The district is named after Mayawati’s political mentor Kanshi Ram. Following her decision to create the new district, large-scale protests followed in the region, with local groups demanding that the district be names after Sant Tulsidas, who was born in the area, instead of after Kanshi Ram. Mayawati, however, did not relent, and Kanshiram Nagar was given the official status of UP’s 71st district

GAUTAM BUDH NAGAR In June 1997, Mayawati ordered the creation of Gautam Budh Nagar from Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr districts.

JYOTIBA PHULE NAGAR came into being in April 1997 and was named after social reformer Sant Mahatma Jyotiba Phule. Situated on the west of Moradabad district, JP Nagar adjoins Meerut, Ghaziabad and BulandShahr. The district was carved out of Moradabad by combining Amroha, Dhanora and Hasanpur tehsils of the district

SANT RAVIDAS NAGAR, erstwhile Bhadohi, was created on June 30, 1994, as the 65th district of the state

HAPUR, the newest in the line of UP’s districts, awaits official christening by the state government. Stealthy operations by local levels officials, however, have already begun. A formal announcement of the district is expected to be made on September 28, when chief minister Mayawati visits the region

SHAMLI She is also expected to announce the creation of Shamli district, which will be carved out of Muzaffarnagar district of UP

DEOBAND A growing demand for Deoband has existed. If Mayawati announces the formation of this district—pulling it out of the existing Saharanpur district, she could, experts feel, win over some Muslim votes

Prithvi II test fired

Displaying high accuracy, India's nuclear capable Prithvi-II ballistic missile, with a striking range of 350km, was on Monday successfully testfired as part of user trial by the armed forces from Chandipur. Describing the trial of the indigenously developed strategic missile as “fully successful”, ITR director SP Dash said: “It met all the mission objectives and was perfect like a text book launch.” The launch operations were carried out by the armed forces as part of user trial and regular training exercise and monitored by the scientists of Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO). Being handled by the specially raised strategic force command, the short-range sleek missile has a length of 9 metres and is one metre in diameter.

Rajbala dies

Rajbala, the Ramdev supporter who was allegedly injured during the forced evacuation of Ramlila Grounds on June 5 during yoga Guru Baba Ramdev’s fast succumbed to her injuries around 10.25am on Monday. The 51-year-old, who had suffered spinal injuries during the police action, was on ventilator support and had been admitted in the ICU of GB Pant Hospital and was battling for survival for close to four months. The hospital’s medical report stated, “The patient died of cardiac arrest. She had suffered fracture and dislocation of cervical C4 and C5 vertibrae and could not be revived.” But, her family has claimed that they have never received any written medical report on Rajbala’s medical treatment. The Delhi police has said that she was injured in the stampede during the protestors’ eviction at Ramila Maidan on June 4.


World Economic Outlook September 2011

Motown snapshotz

After Sadhbhavna..it's maharally time

PM in waiting?

A Rupee's story

India - Pakistan trade

Being a prisoner of the past, political issues still overshadow economic logic as Pakistan is still not willing to see reason in giving most favoured nation (MFN) status to India that would open up huge opportunity for bilateral trade and economic cooperation. This issue is likely to figure prominently when Pakistan commerce minister Makhdoom Muhammad Ameen Faheem visits India on Monday for bilateral trade talks with his counterpart Anand Sharma to sort out thorny economic issue between the two countries.
The formal bilateral trade between two countries might have grown four fold to $2.7 billion during 2010-11 in seven years but it is still one fourth of the informal trade of over $10 billion between the two countries According to Ficci study, informal trade through third countries or circular trade as it is called is mainly conducted via agents operating in free ports like Dubai or Singapore and Central Asian Republic (CAR) countries. The size of circular trade underlines the potential of flourishing bilateral trade between the two countries. Converting this into direct trade between the two countries would help Pakistan immensely as it would enable it get Indian goods at cheaper price due to reduced transportation cost.
Despite India and Pakistan being two most populous and largest economies of the South Asian region, official bilateral trade remains negligible and neither country falls in the category of top ten trading partners of each other. Pakistan’s share in India’s total exports increased from 0.45 per cent 2003-2004 to 0.78 per cent in year 2008-09 and imports from Pakistan as percentage of total imports of India, marginally increased from 0.07 per cent in 2003-04 to 0.12 per cent in 2008-09.
While Pakistan exports a host of items to India, it has maintained a positive list of 1938 items vis-à-vis imports from India. On the other hand, India does not impose equivalent formal restrictions on exports to or imports from Pakistan as it had unilaterally granted MFN status to Pakistan decades ago in accordance with theWTO rules. India and Pakistan have no formal trade agreement.
Though India has accorded MFN status to Pakistan in 1995-96, Pakistan is yet to grant MFN status to India for which extraneous political, economic and other reasons have been cited by Pakistan, the Ficci study said.
Lately Pakistan recognized that granting MFN status to India would help in expanding bilateral trade relations and as a step towards this end, it has agreed to replace its present ‘positive list’ with ‘negative list’ by October this year. This virtually amount to granting MFN status.
During his three-day visit beginning on Monday, India Inc is expected to impress upon Faheem the need for granting MFN status early that would not only pave the way for manifold increase in bilateral trade but also possible investments. Faheem, who heads an 80-member Pakistan business delegation, will have an interactive session with Indian businessmen in Mumbai on September 26.
Faheem is slated to meet Sharma on September 28 in Delhi. Pakistan government has invited Indian Investors including Tata, Reliance and Essar to discuss the development of Thar coal power projects.
India and Pakistan have mostly common multinational companies operating in their respective countries. According to a Ficci study these can act as meaningful conduits for trade and investment if they source raw material from each other.
Creation of exclusive economic zones in Pakistan for Indian-based investors may be a good option to attract their investment.
Pakistan is the only country in Saarc region where Indian investments do not take place. Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry has identified Indian investment possibilities in Pakistan in sectors such as fish processing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, automobile components and information technology. Pakistan has huge potential to export cement and textiles to India.
Pakistan had linked granting of MFN status to trade concessions given to Pakistan by European Union (EU). EU offered a timebound tariff concession on 75 textiles product lines.

Somewhere in Paschimbanga....

The by-elections to West Bengal's Bhowanipore Assembly constituency, from where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is seeking her maiden entry into the legislature, and Basirhat (Uttar) seat were being held on Sunday amid heavy rains. The by-elections in both the constituency went off peacefully, West Bengal chief electoral officer (CEO), Sunil Gupta said after polling ended. Mamata exercised her franchise around 4.30 pm, half an hour before closing time. Rains started at around 9 am — some two hours after polling was underway. As a result, many voters could not turn up. In many booths across Bhowanipore, voter turnout was abysmal in the morning. EC officials said barely 33% votes had been polled in Bhowanipore till 1 pm. However, the percentage did increase by late afternoon. According to Gupta, nearly 50% votes were polled in Bhowanipore. After casting her vote, Mamata told reporters she is confident about winning the Basirhat (North) seat this time which was won by Mostafa Ben Kashem of the CPM during the April-May Assembly elections this year.

India builds naval might

Jostling for the same strategic space with China in the Indian Ocean and beyond, with the oil exploration stand-off in South China Sea being just the latest indicator, India is slowly, but surely, building a Navy for the future. A powerful three-dimensional Navy, which can protect India’s geo-strategic interests stretching from Hormuz Strait to Malacca Strait, will not come cheap. Neither will it be built overnight. In the pipeline are ongoing warship, submarine and maritime aircraft acquisition programmes as well as some concrete projects, which will together cost well upwards of Rs 3,00,000 crore. When Admiral Nirmal Verma on Saturday commissions the second fleet tanker from Italy, the 27,500-tonne INS Shakti, the Navy’s force-levels will stand at 132 ships, with just over 50 “major combatants” and 14 ageing submarines. But the numbers will dip in the coming months, with older ships slated for retirement. China, in contrast, has close to 100 major warships and over 60 submarines, and is now increasingly flexing its muscles in international waters. India cannot hope to match it. The good news, however, is there are 46 ships “on order” for the Navy at different domestic shipyards. Ranging from two aircraft carriers, six submarines and seven guided-missile destroyers to four anti-submarine warfare corvettes, nine naval offshore patrol vessels and eight amphibious craft, the combined price tag for these 50 ships comes to over Rs 1,00,000 crore. There are two other major projects taking concrete shape now. One, the Rs 52,000-crore “Project-75 India” to acquire six newgeneration stealth submarines. Seven more stealth frigates are to be built at MDL and GRSE (Kolkata) under “Project-17A” for around Rs 45,000 crore. This will follow the three 6,200-tonne stealth frigates built at MDL for Rs 8,101 crore.

Key financial reforms soon : Pranabda

Faced with the anxiety of investors over languishing financial sector reforms, the government is likely to make a fresh push for early passage of the banking and insurance bills and Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill. For nearly seven years now, the crucial reforms have not materialized. This was indicated by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. The minister said he had apprised the PM of the matter, indicating that the government might attempt to get the banking and insurance bills — which among other things, seek to provide more space to foreign investors — passed in the winter session of the Parliament. He said it was possible to allow FDI in retail with the help of “broad political consensus”. Mukherjee also spoke of concern over the risk of a double-dip recession, saying the government was worried whether instruments at its disposal would be enough to tackle the challenge.



Mobile phone subscriber additions

Seat factor snapshot

Of a terrible Thursday

Of low frill airports

Low-frills airports may finally get a push in India, with the government mulling formulating a policy on setting up such terminals. Private airport operators and investors have for at least half a decade contemplated setting up airports or terminals dedicated to low-fare airlines, but none has materialized.
With more full-fare airlines embracing low-cost services and many carriers wooing traffic from small cities and towns, the government is waking up to the concept of no-frills airports to keep fares low for passengers. Low-frills airports have minimal infrastructure in terms of runways, terminal facilities and navigational aids, all of which will translate into huge savings for airlines in airport charges. India's existing airports do not differentiate between full and low-cost airlines and airport charges get built into passenger fares.
An official in the aviation ministry said the government has started discussing low- frills airports as a concept.
Airport operators GVK group and GMR Group, German airport operator and GMR's partner in the Delhi airport Fraport AG, and low- cost aviation pioneer G.R.Gopinath have considered set- ting up low-frills airports, but have seen little progress because of various reasons.
Low-frills airports are prevalent in advanced markets such as the US, Europe and Singapore. In India, experts say demand for such terminals will rise as local airlines expand their low-fare operations.
Jet Airways (India) Ltd, the country's largest airline by passengers carried, said in August it will introduce more low-fare flights. The country's second largest low-fare carrier SpiceJet Ltd will begin flying to smaller cities this month.
A Jet executive said statistics show more passengers are flying low-fare the past six months and his airline is forced to shift more flights to this category. Three of every four tickets Jet sells are in the low-cost segment.
The first ministry official said the government is aware more carriers are moving towards the low-fare category and investors are willing to set up no-frills airports.
KPMG's Dubey said low-cost airports in tier II and III cities may not be viable in the near-term given the small traffic, and proposed creating a fund to subsidize the operations of low-frills airports.

Somewhere in Madhya Pradesh....

And they all fell down !

Where are we heading from here ?

Kolkata Metro snippets

The proposed New Garia-to-Kolkata Airport Metro project is all set to be implemented. The Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) has cleared the proposed Metro alignment on the important stretch from Salt Lake to airport via Rajarhat. Hidco officials met officials of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) last week to discuss and finalize the alignment. RVNL authorities submitted the alignment plan to Hidco. “The alignment has now been finalized. There were some technical issues that had to be sorted out. The authorities had to review whether the alignment will affect underground utilities like the drainage and sewerage system,” a Hidco official said. “The alignment has, in principle, been cleared and approved. We are not allowing the alignment to go over the wetlands,” said Hidco chairman-cum-managing director and urban development secretary Debasis Sen. According to the final alignment, the Metro will enter Rajarhat from Sector V and run parallel to the Rajarhat Main Arterial Road along Action Area-I. It will then gradually take a left turn along the main arterial road avoiding the water bodies and finally go underground after nearing the airport. There will be a few stations along the route through Rajarhat. The route will crisscross with that of the East-West Metro near Wipro at Sector V. A station of the East-West Metro will also come up there. This crisscrossing will drastically improve connectivity in the city and immensely help passengers by enabling them to commute in several directions. They could head for Howrah taking the East-West Metro or for New Garia by the proposed Metro. The New Garia-to-airport project is scheduled to be completed by 2014. The alignment on this particular stretch had to be finalized before implementing the project. Starting from New Garia, the proposed Metro route will move along EM Bypass and enter Sector V from Chingrighata. It will be an elevated route before reaching the airport where it will go underground. The project went through rough weather during the previous Left-run government rule. There was a verbal duel between then housing minister and Hidco chairman Gautam Deb and Mamata Banerjee, who was then railway minister. Deb had repeatedly said that they were ready to hand over land to the railways free of cost, but blamed Mamata for “not cooperating”. Once the Metro interlink comes up near Wipro in Sector V and the New Garia-airport Metro route starts operating, the passenger count from the spot will be huge. The NDITA has already started working on an upgraded traffic system to cope with the pressure.

Telangana turmoil continues

Even as the entire Telangana region including Greater Hyderabad got paralysed further on Saturday, the first day of the 48-hour rail roko and auto strike in the region called as part of the Sakala Janula Samme (people’s strike) seeking a separate state, the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising about 133 associations belonging to various departments hardened its stance by threatening to lay siege to the Secretariat unless the state government withdraws its decision to terminate the services of contract and other ad hoc employees. As part of what they called the transition from a passive first stage to a militant second stage of the agitation, the leaders, including Telangana Employees JAC convener K Swamy Goud, said the employees would first stage dharnas in front of the residences of Telangana elected representatives for three days beginning Monday. The employee association leaders ruled out entering into a dialogue with the state government over the strike. On Saturday, the entire region came to a grinding halt and the scenario is expected to be repeated on Sunday as all long-distance, local train and auto services remainsuspended for the next 24 hours as well. Already reeling due to the absence of public transport in view of APSRTC employees striking work, the commuting woes of Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts residents multiplied on Saturday due to the absence of local train services and autos. The entire region also continued to be in the grip of power cuts ranging from as much as 10 hours in the rural areas to two to three hours in urban areas. Of the total installed capacity of 5000 MW, the thermal generation in view of the strike by Singareni Collieries employees dropped to 3,100 MW on Saturday. Despite arranging for coal from other sources, the stock is sufficient only for the next two days, said sources. Some of the coal supplies that were expected to reach the state did not happen because of the twoday rail roko. In just 12 days of the Sakala Janula Samme called by the state government employees belonging to the Telangana region, Andhra Pradesh has lost a whopping Rs 3,564 crore of gross state domestic product (GSDP). While the entire Telangana lost Rs 2,700 crore due to the strike, Hyderabad city alone saw a dip of Rs 864 crore revenue in view of the strike. The estimates of the total revenue loss for the state were prepared by the planning department with the help of Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) and submitted to chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Saturday. As per the study, about 7 lakh agriculture labour in the Telangana region are not getting their daily work due to the strike. Nearly 33 lakh students are not attending their classes.

Somewhere in Chhatisgarh....

A tigress was killed in Chhattisgarh near the Maharashtra border, when, with better planning, she could have been tranquilized. After six hours of being pounded by stones, when the bloodied tigress finally collapsed in a heap, a delirious cry broke out in Aamgaon Bagrutola village.As forest officials took away her carcass, villagers took out a victory march. For nearly a month, residents of the area had been living in fear of the tigress, who had lifted cattle, injured two men, and killed a woman in Gondia. “But she was not a man-eater, she had not consumed human flesh. Ideally, she should have been tranquilized and captured by the forest department,” said Sanjay Yadav, deputy director, National Tiger Conservation Authority. Forest officials claimed that a team had camped in the area for 10-12 days but was forced to return as Naxalism is a big problem in this area.

Somewhere in Odisha....

Suspected Maoists shot dead a 39-year-old wheelchairbound Biju Janata Dal legislator and his personal security officer at a public meeting in Orissa’s Nabarangpur district on Saturday, marking a new high for Naxal brutality. The police said Umerkote MLA Jagabandhu Majhi was killed while he was distributing land pattas (record of rights) to the poor at Gona village, close to the Orissa-Chhattisgarh border, around 500km from Bhubaneswar. The security officer has been identified as P K Patro. SP (Nabarangpur) Niti Sekhar said the two were attacked by three assailants on a motorcycle. A civilian was also injured in the incident. The assailants first shot the PSO from behind and then fired at the MLA in presence of around 300 villagers. Both had two bullet wounds each and died on the spot, an eyewitness said. Sekhar said Majhi had never told the police about any threat to his life. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik described the incident as “shocking” and “horrible” and ordered a CID inquiry into it. Majhi faced several criminal cases. He was left wheelchair-bound after unidentified people attacked him in 2004. The tribal leader had suffered debilitating injuries to his body’s lower half in the attack. The slain legislator gained prominence as he led violent tribal movement under the banner of Dalit Samaj against alleged land grab by Bangladeshi settlers in Raighar and other parts of Nabarangpur during the past decade. Majhi was elected to the state assembly from Umerkote for the first time in 2009.