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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Mafia Rule already handed over natural resources, aborigin Mulnivasi Bahujan humanscape and national Security and Integrity to Global Zionist Manusmriti Corporate Order of War and civil War. Foreign policy is decided in Washington and Jerusalem!Comin

French n-regulator nod for Jaitapur's EPR nuclear reactors!Government notifies 100% FDI in single brand retail!EC halts sub-quota for minorities in 5 States!Multinational Imperialist Nuclear Energy drive continues despite Mass Resistance. Nuclear liability Bill has already diluted compensation claims.Now India is in the process of holding technical level discussions with France and the US for its civil nuclear programmes!Worst ahead for euro zone, but it will survive!Global shares dawdle, euro struggles on funding worries!Fiscal deficit will be 'very significantly' worse than budgeted 4.6%: Montek Singh Ahluwalia,India no match for China on social indicators, says Amartya Sen,LPG Mafia Rule already handed over natural resources, aborigin Mulnivasi Bahujan humanscape and national Security and Integrity to Global Zionist Manusmriti Corporate Order of War and civil War. Foreign policy is decided in Washington and Jerusalem!Coming soon, BrahMos Aerospace to develop world's fastest hypersonic missile!

Difficult to meet 4.6 per cent fiscal deficit target: Pranab Mukherjee
Cash-rich PSUs told to invest aggressively to strengthen the economy: PMO

Indian economy slides into danger zone; Investments plunge to 5 year low

West Bengal will increase to 50 the job days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) from 19 till date.

Joseph Stiglitz for government role in land acquisition!

FIIs invest Rs 6,500 crore in first week of New Year

Pranab Mukherjee holds pre-budget consultations with various stakeholders

Indian Holocaust My Father`s Life and


Palash Biswas

Pranab Mukherjee holds pre-budget consultations with various stakeholders!

India [ Images ] and Israel on Tuesday vowed to upgrade their relations in all fields and work out a joint strategy to "checkmate" terrorism, while deciding on a roadmap to elevate cooperation in multiple areas like defence, agriculture, trade and hi-tech over the next two decades.
Setting the ball rolling, Krishna, who is the first Indian foreign minister to visit Israel in over a decade, called Israel a "natural ally" in all frontiers of science during his over one and half hour breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, a rare gesture accorded to only dignitaries from countries sharing special relations with Israel.
After his meeting with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, Krishna termed his visit as "excellent and productive".
"During our meeting we reviewed all areas of cooperation in our bilateral relations -- political, economic, scientific and cultural," he said.
Krishna said India and Israel, who on Tuesday signed two treaties -- one on extradition and the other on transfer of sentenced persons -- face the common problem of terrorism.
"So I think we will have to work out a strategy as to how we address ourselves the scourge of international terrorism which has become the curse for the entire humanity.
"I think are effort should be to checkmate it and ultimately eradicate terror from the face of the earth," Krishna said.
The minister, who held a series of meetings with top Israeli leadership, including President Shimon Peres, during his visit starting Monday, said "India is also keen to have Israel as a partner in several other sectors in which innovation and cutting edge technologies are essential for our continued growth".
These sectors include water management, bio-technology, telecom, hi-tech industries, homeland security and several others, he emphasised.
While the two sides discussed a number of bilateral and regional issues, both Krishna and officials said the focus was about setting the agenda for the next two decades.
"The principal focus was on future. How we should move this relationship in future," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told PTI.
Asked about where he sees relations with India going, Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman said, "Our relations are excellent. What we see is a very positive tendency. We enjoy cooperation at many levels and I really hope that we would accomplish in the next five years more growth in all fields, including political level.
"We have had positive engagement during the first twenty years and now want to further upgrade it".
Liberman added, "What is really the most important thing is the determination and intention of both sides to deepen our bilateral relations in all fields".
He said India has become one of the most popular destinations for young Israeli generation and "of course cooperation in the field of agriculture, water management and homeland security has become more efficient".
Krishna pointed out that Indian economy provides immense potential and opportunity for the application of Israeli research as well as for Israeli investment.
Krishna said a Free Trade Agreement was presently under negotiations and "we hope to finalise it soon".
"Several other innovative ideas of promoting financial and technologic cooperation are also being explored. We are also keen to further enhance tourism from Israel to India and to intensify cultural exchanges and thus increase mutual understanding and goodwill," he said.
Though diplomatic relations between Israel and India were set up only 20 years back, both sides have seen a steep increase in cooperation in all fields especially in trade and defence.
The bilateral trade and economic relations have progressed rapidly in recent years.
From a mere $200 million in 1992, the bilateral trade with Israel was expected to reach a $5 billion by last year-end. The figure does not include defence purchases.
Israel has also emerged as the second biggest defence supplier to New Delhi [ Images ] after Russia [ Images ].
From a buyer-seller relationship, both India and Israel are now trying to branch out to joint research and development initiatives.
"Both sides are looking at going beyond buyer-seller relations. We are looking at joint investments not just in production but also research, I-T and bio-technology," an official source said giving an insight into the talks that Krishna held with Israeli leadership.
Another area of discussion included energy as both the countries are trying to cooperate in renewable energy as well as wind energy. "The increasing idea is to do things together," the source said.
Asked if increasing relations with Israel would affect ties with certain other countries that are not at good terms with Tel Aviv, a source said, "our relations with countries are based on our bilateral interest. A relation with a country does not affect our relations with any other country. We have states positions on world issues".
  1. Terror push in Israel ties

  2. Calcutta Telegraph - 18 hours ago
  3. 10: Foreign minister SM Krishna today pressed for deeper counter-terrorism co-operation between India and Israel to "checkmate" the scourge as he wrapped up...
  4. India won't come in way of Israel-Pak ties: KrishnaEconomic Times
  5. India, Israel vow to augment ties, jointly confront terrorismRediff
  6. Counterweight: India won't oppose Pakistan-Israel tiesThe Express Tribune
  7. AFP - Deccan Chronicle
  8. all 335 news articles »
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  10. India, Israel to 'upgrade' ties

  11. The Asian Age - 11 hours ago
  12. PTI India and Israel on Tuesday vowed to upgrade their relations in all fields and work out a joint strategy to "checkmate" terrorism, while deciding on a ...
  13. Iran should work within IAEA's parameters: SM KrishnaTimes of India
  14. Indian FM: Tehran has right to civilian nuke powerJerusalem Post
  15. The road to another
  16. all 2578 news articles »
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  18. India, Israel seal treaties on extradition, convicts' transfer

  19. - 23 hours ago
  20. ... ties, including greater cooperation against terror, India and Israel have ... There are only a fewIsraelis and Indians lodged in each other's jails, ...
  21. Closer ties with Israel can help Pak vis-à-vis India: Musharraf

  22. The Hindu - 4 days ago
  23. Seeking closer ties with Israel, former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf said the Jewish state is a fait accompli, relations with it can help ...
  24. Pakistan should tie up with Israel: MusharrafTimes of India
  25. all 1164 news articles »
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  27. Israel to Open Consulate in Bangalore

  28. Outlook - 1 day ago
  29. ... to his Indian counterpart, SM Krishna, here on a two day visit, emphasising that the move will give a big push to the burgeoning Indo-Israel trade ties. ...
  30. Israel to give new business gift to IT capital BangaloreOneindia
  31. all 9 news articles »
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  33. Israel, India to expand agricultural ties

  34. Ynetnews - 3 days ago
  35. Israel and India have taken another step towards widening their bilateral cooperation in the field agriculture, as Jerusalem and New Delhi have announced ...
  36. Israel to include Punjab in its next action plan

  37. Newstrack India - 1 day ago
  38. Jerusalem, Jan 9 (ANI): To expand its agricultural ties with India, Israel intends to include India'snorthern agro states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in ...
  39. Musharraf's views on Pak-Israel ties

  40. - 2 days ago
  41. Furthermore, Israel has always been pro-India against Pakistan, ... give up stubbornness and intolerance and establish diplomatic ties with each other in ...
  42. *
  43. Taking ties with Israel forward

  44. Hindu Business Line - 4 Jan 2012
  45. It also has friendly ties with India's neighbours like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar. The India-Israel relationship has quietly, but most importantly, ...
  46. Foreign Minister SM Krishna to meet Israel, Palestine leadersAsian Tribune
  47. all 432 news articles »
  48. *
  49. China and India: Rival Middle East strategies

  50. - 1 day ago
  51. To be sure, India has its own reasons for forging closer ties with the Gulf ...embrace of the Gulf monarchies have any adverse effect on Indo-Israeli ties. ...
  52. *

Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, began pre-budget consultations with several stakeholders, including agriculturists and economists on Wednesday in New Delhi.

with a motive to receive feedback on the various policies which are to be incorporated in the budget for the financial year 2012-2013, Pranab Mukherjee will be holding a series of meetings with the industry bigwigs, sectoral experts and trade union leaders over the next three weeks.

The Union minister has scheduled to hold a meeting with trade union leaders on January 16, while a meeting with the experts from the social sector is slated for the next day.

Mukherjee would also hold discussions with the CEOs of banks and other financial institutions and take up issues like bank recapitalisation, access to affordable financial services and also interest rates.

On January 20, Mukherjee would meet renowned economists to finalise policies for better growth in the future, since the growth dipped to 6.9 percent in the second quarter, the lowest in nine quarters.

Earlier, Mukherjee had presided over a meeting of the Cabinet committee on Parliamentary Affairs to finalise the date for the presentation of the budget.

It is expected that the budget for 2012/13 will be presented after elections scheduled in five states.

Andaman tour operators offer 'human safari' to visitors, video shows Jarawa ...

India Today - ‎23 minutes ago‎

There might be various forms of safaris to promote tourism, but a video released by two leading British newspapers has now exposed a "human safari" being promoted by the tour operators in Andaman and Nicobar islands.


Govt rules out barring Salman Rushdie's India visit

NDTV - ‎1 hour ago‎

The row over author Salman Rushdie is refusing to die down. Today, Law Minister Salman Khurshid made it clear that Mr Rushdie cannot be stopped from coming to India as he has a valid PIO card, which means he does not need a visa.

EC halts sub-quota for minorities in 5 States!

Terming religion-based quota for Muslims as a "dirty gameplan" of the Congress to divide the nation again, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said it will oppose any such move by launching a nation-wide mass movement and exposing the "dirty face" of its rival party.
"The nation is on the verge of another partition — this time an ideological partition. The BJP will not allow any such partition on the basis of religion," said BJP leader Uma Bharti.
Charging the Congress with playing "dirty politics" for petty political gains in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP leader said, "The sole purpose behind this dirty politics is the OBC vote bank and the target is Uttar Pradesh."
She said the BJP will launch a countrywide "Jan Andolan" (mass movement) from the streets to Parliament to expose the "dirty face" of the Congress.
"I will myself come forward in opposing the move for religion-based reservation, as it poses a threat to the nation's unity and integrity," she said.
She added that the Congress party was trying to play such dirty politics merely to increase its votes by one or two per cent in one state.
Ms. Bharti also accused the Congress of having a "bigoted mentality" illustrated by its proposal for "religion-based reservation" ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, as it could not tolerate anyone opposing it.
The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister also urged the "so-called" leaders of OBCs and Dalits, besides Muslim leaders to oppose religion-based reservation.
Ms. Bharti said the BJP will also talk to Muslim leaders asking them not to support the move as religion—based reservation went against the basic tenets of Islam.
"Islam is based on the primary principle of universal brotherhood. It does not accept reservation. Caste inequality has been a part of the Hindu society," Ms. Bharti said.
Urging Muslim leaders to come forward in opposing such a reservation, Ms. Bharti said, "If Muslims accept and adopt this, then they should come out of Islam..."
Naming Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, she lamented that the "so-called leaders of Dalits and backward classes" had remained silent so far on the issue.
Ms. Bharti went on to recall Nehru's words spoke on May 5, 1949 that "If you seek to give safeguards to the minority, you isolate it. Maybe you protect it to a slight extent. But at what cost? At the cost of isolating and keeping it away from the main current."
Charging the Congress for its "dirty and divisionary" politics, Ms. Bharti said India was a secular state which did not practise religion—based reservation.
"Our nation is a secular state. It is not a religious state...By announcing such religion-based reservation, does the Congress say that India is a Hindu State. We say it is a Hindu nation, but not a Hindu state," the BJP leader said, while asking the Congress to clarify its stand on the issue.

10 JAN, 2012, 05.48PM IST, PTI

Government notifies 100% FDI in single brand retail

Read more on »foreign retailers|foreign investment|FDI in retail


Govt to notify 100% FDI in single-brand retail: Reuters



French n-regulator nod for Jaitapur's EPR nuclear reactors!Technical Director of Nuclear Power Corporation Of India Limited (NPCIL), S A Bhardwaj on Wednesday termed the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu as the safest power plant in the world.
"It is based on our specifications, what are our regulatory requirements, what are the Indian requirements and this plant therefore has been typically designed for us. To my mind as being a nuclear technologist, this is the safest nuclear power plant of the world," he said.

Despite repeated assurances, residents of Kundakulam have stepped up their protests in the past few weeks, aiming to ratchet up pressure on the government to shutdown the Kudankulam project, fearing a possible recurrence of the recent disaster witnessed in the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

Bhardwaj further stressed that the plant does not pose any serious threat to the people of the state.

"There are rays which we use for purifying water that we use in plant, they will have some radioactivity. So this is the type of waste which a nuclear power station generates and these are very convenient to handle and they are handled right in the plant," he said.

Highlighting the need of nuclear power plants, Bhardwaj said at this point of time when prices of oil and gas prices are surging at fast pace, country needs such projects, which are cost and energy efficient.

"India is getting into the deep crises of power, deep crises because of the coal unavailability and oil and gas, as you know everyday the prices are going up. So nuclear is the answer. Yes, we will have as much of the solar power, as much of wind possible but that does not satisfy our need, therefore this is the demand of India," he added.

The project has also met the approval of former Indian President and country's eminent nuclear scientist, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who has vouched for the safety standards set up at the plant after visiting the site to check the existing mechanisms.

Established in a joint collaboration between India and Russia, the Kudankulam nuclear power project envisages to build two 1,000 MW VVER type reactors by end of December 2011.

However, in the wake of the Fukushima incident, several nuclear projects across India, such as the one at Jaitapur in western Maharashtra state, have run into rough weather as protesting locals and activists argued that such plants could adversely affect the environment.

Speaking to media in Chennai city, Technical Director of NPCIL, S A Bhardwaj said though they have constructed the plant imitating Russian design but it is based on Indian specifications.

Indian authorities are considering various locations to store nuclear waste generated by atomic power plants, a senior official of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) said here Wednesday. "We are studying locations for storing nuclear waste generated by atomic energy plants. The waste will be in very small quantities and would be stored underground with no possibility of radiation," S.A. Bhardwaj, NPCIL technical director, told mediapersons after a scientific meet on 'Radiation and Cancer'.

According to him, states like Bihar and Haryana have expressed their willingness to house nuclear power plants.

Stressing that the fast reactors are an integral part of India's policy to close the nuclear fuel cycle, Bhardwaj said: "We have to go for fast reactors as we do not have sufficient uranium. However, other countries are also planning to build fast reactors."

Bhardwaj also said India was capable of handling nuclear disasters if at all they happen.

"Nuclear power plant disasters are different from the likes of the Bhopal gas leak. In the case of nuclear power plant disasters, there will be sufficient time available for the people to take safety action. Further, the radiation level threshold stipulated in India for evacuating people is quite low which, in turn, is safe for people," he added.

Bhardwaj said the radiation dosage from Indian nuclear plants is far less than the average background natural radiation that people are exposed to daily.

Presenting the study on the health profile of employees of NPCIL, chief medical superintendent S.K.Jain said the employees working in nuclear power stations are not prone to any higher rate of occurrence of disease, particularly 'cancer', than the general public.

He said the average natural incident rate of cancer among the general public is 98.5 out of every 100,000 of population as against 54.05/lakh among the NPCIL employees.

Jain said the mortality due to cancer, the average death rate in the general public is 68/lakh as compared to 29.05/lakh among NPCIL employees.

Ruling out any linkage between nuclear power plants and cancer V. Rangarajan, head, Department of Bio-imaging at Tata Memorial Centre said the highest incidence of cancer is in the north-eastern states which do not have any atomic power plant.

He said the incidence of cancer in cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore with nuclear power plants near them are similar to other cities that do not have any atomic power plants.

Citing a Canadian study on 17,700 workers of uranium mining, he said the workers are found to be keeping better health than the general public in that country.

Government notifies 100% FDI in single brand retail!

West Bengal will increase to 50 the job days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) from 19 till date.

Voicing strong opposition to the decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in single retail, CPI(M) today threatened to launch a nationwide agitation if the government goes ahead with its move to permit it in multi- brand retail.

"After allowing 100 per cent FDI in the single brand, as the Prime Minister himself stated, after the assembly elections are over, they would like to go for FDI in general retail trade as a whole.

"We would like to tell the government that this widespread opposition to FDI in retail trade is due to the shopkeepers and small traders, their livelihood being threatened by the entry of big multi-national chains. Our party has decided that if the government goes ahead with this decision, we shall conduct a countrywide movement to stop such retail chains opening their shops and supermarkets in India," CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here.

Maintaining that the Food Security bill brought in by the Centre had several "objectionable" features, he demanded that major amendments be made to it.

"If you look at the Bill, it is actually curtailing that right (to food). In states like Andhra, Tamil Nadu and many others, rice is available through PDS, either at two rupees or one rupee a kilo. Here in the law it says, we will give rice at three rupees a kilo for BPL category," Karat said.

"Those above poverty line, they have been called general sector. They will get rice at half the minimum support price. It will mean that they will have to pay much more than what they are paying today. They will get only three kilos per head per month. This is curtailing the right to food, not giving food security. There are so many other objectionable features in the bill," he said.

FIIs invest Rs 6,500 crore in first week of New Year!

Multinational Imperialist Nuclear Energy drive continues despite Mass Resistance. Nuclear liability Bill has already diluted compensation claims.Now India is in the process of holding technical level discussions with France and the US for its civil nuclear programmes!LPG Mafia Rule already handed over natural resources, aborigin Mulnivasi Bahujan humanscape and national Security and Integrity to Global Zionist Manusmriti Corporate Order of War and civil War. Foreign policy is decided in Washington and Jerusalem!
Notwithstanding its inability to open multi-brand retail for foreign investment, government on Tuesdsay notified 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail, paving way for global chains like Adidas, Louis Vuitton and Gucci to have full ownership of their India operations.

"Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), up to 100 per cent , under the government approval route, would be permitted in single brand product retail trading," a press note by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) said.

However, in respect of proposals involving FDI beyond 51 per cent, the mandatory sourcing of at least 30 per cent would have to be done from the domestic small and cottage industries which have a maximum investment in plant and machinery of USD 1 million (about Rs 5 crore).

"FDI in single brand has led to emergence of some global majors in Indian market...This will provide stimulus to domestic manufacturing value addition and help in technical upgradation of our small industry," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said.

The decision to increase FDI in single-brand retail was taken by the Cabinet on November 24 along with opening the gates for overseas investment in multi-brand retail.

However, the Government was forced to put on hold FDI in multi-brand retail by several political parties, including UPA ally Trinamool Congress.

At present, for single-brand retailers, 51 per cent FDI is permitted. Removal of investment cap would help global fashion brands especially from Italy and France to strengthen their interest in the growing Indian market.

Many big names have already set up their operations in the country by partnering with Indian partners. The new policy would allow them to buy out the domestic partners.

The government said the move which comes into effect immediately would enhance competitiveness of Indian enterprises through access to global design, technologies and management practices.

According to the riders, however, the products by the global chains should be of 'single brand' only and be sold under the same brand internationally.

Single brand retailing would cover products which are branded during manufacturing and the foreign investor should be owner of the brand.

Though 51 per cent FDI in single brand was allowed in February 2006, not much investment has come in the sector. During last three and half years, FDI worth only Rs 196 crore was received in the sector.

Experts hailed the decision and said that the move would make India a retail destination and help in enhancing foreign investments.

"It is an excellent move which would help in bringing more FDI into the country," KPMG Executive Director Krishan Malhotra said. "The decision would help in bringing latest products and technologies. It would also provide more choices to consumers," PricewaterhouseCoopers Associate Director Goldie Dhama said.

NPCIL on Monday said a safety review by the French nuclear regulator has made no comments on having additional systems EPR reactors proposed for the Jaitapur nuclear project, setting he stage for restarting negotiations on the delayed venture.

"A quick scan of the ASN report shows that there are no clear comments on any system that has to be added to the EPRs," S A Bhardwaj, Director (Technical), Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) told reporters here.

He said a detailed review of the report of the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) would take a week and the NPCIL would like to restart negotiations by the end of this month.

The talks on signing a commercial agreement between NPCIL and French company Areva had been stalled after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The Indian nuclear operator was awaiting a report on the safety aspects of the Evolutionary Pressurised Reactor (EPR) which was reviewed by ASN along with the 58 nuclear power units under operation in France.

Post-Fukushima, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had carried out a similar safety review of all 20 operational nuclear power plants in India and suggested some additional safety measures.

On the Kudankulam project, Bhardwaj said the first unit of the nuclear power plant could be started three months after the ongoing agitation is called off.

He said a number of contract employees at the Kudankulam nuclear power project have taken other jobs elsewhere as the anti-nuclear protestors were not allowing them inside the plant premises.
CHENNAI: India is in the process of holding technical level discussions with France and the US for its civil nuclear programmes, a senior Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) official said today.

"We are also talking to the French right now. The French regulators' report post Fukushima has come just a couple of days back, and we are studying it. Thereafter, we will again have a detailed technical discussion with the French vendors and we wish to go for that reactor, that is offering 1650 MW from one unit, a very large capacity," Shiv Abhilash Bhardwaj, Director (Technical), NPCIL told reporters here.

As for the US collaboration, he said, "In the next plan, what we propose is that we will make eight units of 700 MW each and eight units of light water reactors, which includes four reactors of United States technology (two each, with two vendors from the US). We are talking to them on technical level."

Strongly believing in the nuclear option to cater its energy needs of the country, the Centre has already approved plant proposals in many states, he said.

"Government has approved two locations in Madhya Pradesh, one each in Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal...Right now, we are looking at Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, where two sites have been offered. And we hope that within this year, we should be able to start work there. So there will be four units of 700 MW," he said.

Bhabha Atomic Reseach Centre was carrying out a research on effects of the mild radiation and mild temperature of the nuclear waste on hard rocks over which they were stored, he said, replying to a query on the storing of nuclear waste.

FIIs invest Rs 6,500 crore in first week of New Year
Overseas investors have pumped nearly Rs 6,500 crore into the Indian market, including stocks and bonds, in the first week of the New Year.

Between January 2-6, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased equities and debt securities worth a gross amount of Rs 15,168 crore.

However, they also sold shares and bonds worth Rs 8,674 crore in the same period, translating into a net investment of Rs 6,494 crore for the period, according to information available with market regulator Sebi.

Market experts believe that positive global cues along with lower food inflation number helped boost investor confidence in the market during the week.

Investors were more bullish on the debt market in the first week, making a net investment of Rs 5,488 crore during the period, while their investment in stocks stood at Rs 1,006 crore.

Buoyed by FII inflow, the stock market barometer Sensex (of the BSE) gained 413 points or 2.67 per cent to close at 15,867.73 on the last trading session at Friday.

Meanwhile, an announcement was made by the Government on January 1 thereby allowing qualified foreign investors ( QFI), including overseas individuals to invest directly in Indian stock markets. This has been done with the intention of widening the profile of investors and attracting more foreign funds in the wake of FII money being withdrawn from the markets.

The move is also expected to reduce market volatility and deepen the Indian stock markets. Earlier, QFIs were permitted to invest only in mutual find schemes. The foreign nationals could earlier invest into Indian markets through opening accounts with Sebi registered FIIs or through participatory notes.

In the year 2011, FIIs purchased stocks and bonds worth Rs 8 lakh crore during 2011, but sold securities worth 7.9 lakh crore, resulting into a investment of Rs 1,7480 crore for the year.

However, investors have flocked towards the debt market and made an investment of Rs 20,293 in the year 2011, while at the same time they stayed away from equity market and pulled out Rs 2,812 crore.

Full coverage

Oil retreats as risk aversion returns

Reuters - ‎4 minutes ago‎
* Nuclear scientist blown up in Iran; Israel accused * European debt problems sap confidence * Coming Up: EIA oil stocks data; 1530 GMT (Updates prices and Iran, Nigeria developments in paragraphs 10, 13) By Simon Falush LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Oil ...

German and European economies weigh on oil price; benchmark price around $101 ...

Washington Post - ‎7 minutes ago‎
NEW YORK — Oil prices are down to about $101 per barrel after Germany said its economy contracted in the final three months of 2011. The announcement heightened concerns about the rest of Europe's economy as well. Germany, the eurozone's strongest ...

Oil price drops close to $101 on Europe concerns - ‎9 minutes ago‎
By Chris Kahn AP Energy Writer / January 11, 2012 NEW YORK—Oil prices are down to about $101 per barrel after Germany said its economy contracted in the final three months of 2011. The announcement heightened concerns about the rest of Europe's economy ...

Scraping the barrel on oil

Hindu Business Line - ‎28 minutes ago‎
There has to be some rationalisation of consumption, which cannot happen if prices are not allowed to adjust even reasonably for forces of supply and demand to balance each other. There is arguably no bigger immediate problem facing the Indian economy ...

The Great EU-China Oil Swap

Wall Street Journal (blog) - ‎40 minutes ago‎
By James Herron AP Once hysteria about Hormuz blockades and war in the Persian Gulf dies down, the end result of tighter sanctions on Iran may simply be a giant oil swap between Europe and China, analysts at Goldman Sachs said Wednesday. ...

Oil Falls After German GDP Decline Bolsters Recession Concern

BusinessWeek - ‎48 minutes ago‎
By Mark Shenk Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Oil declined on concern that a contacting German economy, the largest in Europe, may drag the region into recession, curbing fuel demand. Futures fell as much as 1.1 percent, equity markets retreated and the euro ...

OIL FUTURES: Crude Weaker On Worries Of Slowdown In Europe

Wall Street Journal - ‎1 hour ago‎
By David Bird Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Crude oil futures prices were lower early Wednesday on fresh worries about a slowdown in European economies. Germany said the country's economy contracted by around 0.25% in the fourth quarter, ...

'Iran premium' not reflected in oil prices: Goldman

Financial Post - ‎1 hour ago‎
An Iranian Army soldier stands guard on a military speed boat during the navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on December 28, 2011. The Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened to block if the West applies sanctions on its oil ...

Crude Oil Falls After Decrease in German Growth Bolsters Recession Concern

Bloomberg - ‎1 hour ago‎
Oil declined on concern that a contacting German economy, the largest in Europe, may drag the region into recession, curbing fuel demand. Futures fell as much as 1.1 percent, equity markets retreated and the euro weakened against the dollar after ...

Iran tension could weigh on oil prices: Goldman

Economic Times - ‎2 hours ago‎
LONDON: Tensions over Iran's nuclear programme and a fresh wave of sanctions against it could weigh on oil prices, while signs of improvement of the US and Chinese economy have prompted recent gains, Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday. ...


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Al Jazeera  -  21 hours ago
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Terror push in Israel ties

Netanyahu and Krishna in Jerusalem. (Jay Mandal/ On Assignment)

New Delhi, Jan. 10: Foreign minister S.M. Krishna today pressed for deeper counter-terrorism co-operation between India and Israel to "checkmate" the scourge as he wrapped up a visit to the West Asian nation with an assurance of increased ties from his hosts.
Krishna, the first Indian foreign minister to visit Israel in over a decade, said Delhi looked forward to inking a free-trade agreement to increase the volume from the current level of $5 billion.
"The free-trade agreement now under negotiation is a step in the right direction. It will boost our economic and commercial ties," he said.
The minister, who held talks with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, said the two countries needed to work out a strategy to "checkmate" terror and "ultimately eradicate" it from the "face of the earth".
The two sides signed an extradition treaty and another on transfer of sentenced prisoners.
While Krishna described Delhi as "a natural ally" of Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said India and Israel were "two ancient peoples, seizing the future, in technology, in innovation, in enterprise".
"I think we can seize it even better by our co-operation," he added.
Krishna thanked Israel for its help in agriculture and water management, which has benefited large sections of Indian farmers. He said this co-operation wouldn't have been possible without the "wealth of goodwill and cultural empathy between the people" of the two countries, "demonstrated most obviously by the large number of Israeli tourists visiting India today".
But differences persisted on Iran's alleged nuclear proliferation. Krishna said India's consistent stand was that all countries, including Iran, had the right to "pursue its nuclear energy ambitions to its logical level".
"Just like India has exercised the option of resorting to nuclear energy in order to meet its growing energy demands, so is every nation entitled to develop that," he said, adding that every country had that right "subject to the parameters" set by atomic watchdog IAEA.His counterpart Lieberman said Israel expected the UN Security Council to move forward on sanctions against Iran and every country should abide by those decisions.
Krishna left for Palestine after concluding his two-day trip to Israel.

Joseph Stiglitz for government role in land acquisition
KOLKATA: Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz today said that State should have a role to play in acquiring large pieces of land for setting up industry.

"For those who want to acquire large tracts of land from fragmented ownership holdings, it is really a problem and land purchase becomes difficult," Stiglitz said on the sidelines of a seminar at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) here.

The noted economist said this when pointed out that the present West Bengal government's declared stand was that it would not acquire land for setting up industry.

He said that land acquisition was really a sensitive issue across the world.

Citing the instance of Columbia University in the US, where he is a professor, Stiglitz said that a huge amount of land was needed for expansion of the 'varsity.

He said that the university was unable to acquire land on its own and the expansion process was halted. Ultimately, the local city government intervened arguing that it was in the interest of the people that the university expanded.

"Only then that the land acquisition process became a success," he said.
Joseph Stiglitz against foreign investment in market
GUWAHATI: Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz on Tuesday said opening doors to foreign investment would have disastrous consequences and would lead to serious economic instability.

"Insufficiently regulated capital market and financial market liberalization can contribute to instability, and instability is bad for growth and bad for the poor," Stiglitz, one of the worlds's most cited economists and professor at Columbia University, told a seminar here.

Stiglitz was addressing a seminar titled 'Asia Rising' here organized by Youth Forum on Foreign Policy, a think-tank. The seminar was moderated by Lord Meghnad Desai, economist and author.

"These policies of opening up financial market and capital market liberalization have not brought faster economic growth in a sustained way, but led to consistent instability," the Nobel laureate said, referring to India's plans at encouraging foreign direct investment.

Stiglitz stressed the need for boosting primary, secondary, and tertiary education in India for comprehensive economic growth. Commenting on the anti-dam protests in Assam, Stiglitz said he did not favour big dams but said hydro-power was required now in India and other parts of Asia.

"I don't think big dam is the right approach, but I advocate medium and small dams. But one should also recognize the importance of hydro-power as we must keep in mind the issue of global warming," Stiglitz said.

West Bengal will increase to 50 the job days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) from 19 till date.
West Bengal will increase to 50 the job days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) from 19 till date in this fiscal and hold talks with banks to ensure wages at the end of each working day.

"Under MGNREGA, the average minimum days of work was 19 days in our state," state Panchayat andRural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee told reporters here Tuesday.

"We target that the number of days be increased to 50 within the current financial year," he added.

Currently it takes three to four weeks for the money given by the central government to reach people working under the project, he said.

"The government will hold talks with the banks and different agencies so that daily wage earners get their money by cash or cheque at the end of every working day," the minister said.

EC halts sub-quota for minorities in 5 States

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The Hindu"To ensure a free and fair poll and to provide equal opportunities to all political parties and candidates, the minority quota has been put on hold", the Election Commission said on Wednesday. File photo: R.V. Moorthy



BJP to oppose religion-based reservationNo violation of Model Code of Conduct, says KhurshidSub-quota for minorities in OBC quotaEC show-cause to KhurshidMuslim groups see "minorities" quota as a googlyQuota decision will make SP irrelevant in U.P. polls: VermaBJP accuses Khurshid of code violationBattle lines being drawn over minority sub-quota


electionpolitical campaigns
regional elections
The Election Commission on Wednesday ordered the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training) shall not be given effect to the office memorandum dated December 22, 2011, providing a 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities within the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in the Central government jobs and educational institutions, in the five poll bound States.
The direction will be applicable till the completion of the election process in the five States.
The Commission also took into account the fact that the decision was taken and announced by the Centre on December 22, before the coming into force of the model code of conduct , i.e., December 24 when the poll schedule was announced.
The EC said it had been brought its notice that the order had been issued in violation of the model code of conduct and there was also a plea to stop the order.
The Commission's latest directive would be applicable to Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, where Assembly polls are to be held during January-March. The EC took the decision to ensure a free and fair poll and provide equal opportunities to all the political parties and candidates.
Sources in the Election Commission referred to the sections in the model code relating to political parties, candidates and the State/Central governments which stated:
Para 1(3): There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.
Para VII: The Party in power whether at the Centre or in the State or States concerned, shall ensure that no cause is given for any complaint that it has used its official position for the purposes of its election campaign
Para VII (vi): From the time elections are announced by the Commission, Ministries and other authorities shall not announce any financial grants in any form or promises thereof......, which may have the effect of influencing the voters in favour of the party in power.
Many political parties, particularly the BJP, had strongly opposed the decision of the union cabinet, and said the announcement was made to induce Muslims, who are in sizable numbers in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The decision will benefit Muslims more than other minorities as there are many Muslim communities designated as OBCs, they said.
Even some Muslim organisations felt that the cabinet decision would betray their interests. Earlier the various OBC Muslim communities listed for 27 percent OBC quota managed to get 2.3 per cent. Now the OBC Muslims would have to compete with Christians, Sikhs and Parsi OBCs for 4.5 percent quota. In other words all these minority communities representation would be restricted to 4.5 percent and the remaining 22.5 percent quota would be for Hindu OBCs, they claimed.


India must implement food security law despite flaws: Amartya Sen


India must not obsess with how fast its economy is growing and instead pay more attention to its human development indicators which are worse than even that of Bangladesh, Nobel prize-winning economistAmartya Sen said. Sen, known among his peers as the Conscience of Economics, said slower growth is not a good enough reason for national gloom. If India really must feel upset, it should be because the country is unable to provide proper nourishment to millions of its children or adequate healthcare to the poor, he said in an interview after chairing a jury meeting to select the winners of the Infosys Foundation's awards in the social sciences category. If the government is really serious reviving national sentiment, it must forthwith implement the proposed food security law, despite its flaws, he told ET NOW'sChandra Ranganathan . Edited excerpts:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that GDP growth in the current fiscal will be only 7%. Are we starting 2012 on a gloomy note?

It's a bit of Indian eccentricity that we have got 7% as a very gloomy note. I think in Europe or the United States they would be happy with this. I think it is important not to look at just GDP. You have to see how our lives are improving. India may have the second-fastest growth rate but we have largest number of under-nourished children in world. We have lower literacy.

In all the human development categories, (girls' education, basic medical care), Bangladesh has overtaken India while we have established the lead on GDP. We are the worst performer among South Asian countries. GDP is important but it is very wrong to focus on 8% and 7%. We have to take a bigger view of economics.

You mentioned under-nourishment. Can the proposed food security law address the issue? What is your view the cost of implementing the law?

There are two aspects--is it well thought out in terms of delivery and food choice? These questions remain. But the attack and scepticism has come from those saying this adds another Rs 27,000 crore and isn't it fiscally irresponsible?

But I don't think it is. Because there are so many ways we are losing revenue. The foregone customs duty in imported gold and diamond would have generated Rs 50,000 crore. I'm very keen on fiscal responsibility but I'm not keen on the idea that you don't question things such as subsidy on diesel for rich people or fertiliser subsidy. Whenever something is thought of to help poor, hungry people, some bring out the fiscal hat and say, 'My God, this is irresponsible.'

The government's commitment is right, but technology and delivery should be improved. I think government shouldn't shy away from helping people in the bottom of the layer, which can make a dent on India's unenviable reputation as being the country with the highest number of under-nourished children.

Global shares dawdle, euro struggles on funding worries!

Fiscal deficit will be 'very significantly' worse than budgeted 4.6%: Montek Singh Ahluwalia

Coming soon, BrahMos Aerospace to develop world's fastest hypersonic missile,TNN reports:


COIMBATORE: In a move aimed at facing external threats against the country with more sophisticated weapon, the BrahMos Aerospace, under the ministry of defense, will soon start to develop the fastesthypersonic missile in the world.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an international conference on Computer Communication and Informatics at Sree Sakthi Engineering College here on Tuesday, BrahMos CEO and managing director A Sivathanu Pillai said air version of BrahMos missile would be inducted into the Indian Air Force within one year and works for developing BrahMos 2, the fastest hypersonic missile in the world, would begin soon. BrahMos would take final shape in another five years, he added. While the BrahMos missile has the speed of Mach 3 (speed of sound) moving at one km per second, the hypersonic missile would achieve a speed of Mach 6 to Mach 7, he said.

"We have the guidelines and technology to make hypersonic missile. However, tests have to be conducted for configuring with the propulsion and for engine and flight tests, which would take at least five years," Pillai said. Once operational, BrahMos 2 would be the fastest missile in the world, he stressed. Having achieved the land and sea versions of BrahMos missile, the air version was in the final stage and after carrying out the critical test, it would be inducted into the Indian Air Force to be used in Sukhoi-30, the main strike aircraft. The missile would be a versatile system in the Defence Force, he said.

Pillai said since there was no equivalent to BrahMos, many countries were queuing up for the missile for use in multiple platforms in their force. However, there is a huge requirement for this missile in India and only after fulfilling our demand, the company will think of supplying to foreign countries, he added.

When asked about the raging controversy over commissioning of Kudankulam nuclear power project, Pillai said all safeguards have been taken during construction of the plant. "Experts like Dr A P J Abdul Kalam have studied all aspects about the power project. Dr Kalam had reviewed every possible aspect and came out with the report declaring its safety. Every possible safety safeguards have been taken care. There are around 12 such powers stations in operation around the world. Those power plants have been working without any problem. So, we can definitely assume that they are safe. Most of the fears expressed are imaginary," he opined.

India no match for China on social indicators, says Amartya Sen

PUNE: India is not match for neighbouring China when it comes to social development indicators, eminent economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has said.

"There is a huge gap there (on social front) as China is one of the best performers in terms of social indicators," Sen said while speaking at the Indian Economic Association convention here.

Making an assessment of the Indian economy and the benefits that have percolated down the social sector, he said, "India's disadvantage can be seen even in comparison with countries that are doing far less well than China, but still a lot better than India."

While India has been overtaking other countries in the progress of its real income, it has been lagging behind others in terms of basic social indicators of quality of life, he said. In fact, India is being overtaken in these respects by many other countries even within the region of South Asian itself, he added.

He said India's average ranking among six South Asian economies (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan) has "fallen from being the second best to being second worst and this is so despite the fact that India has grown immensely faster than all other economies in South Asia in terms of GNP orGross Domestic Product (GDP)."

The relation between economic growth and advancement of living standards depends on many factors. One of them is what is done with the public revenue that is generated by economic growth, said Sen who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for his contributions to welfare economics.

Comparing the two leading Asian economies, Sen pointed out "The fact that China devotes 2.3 per cent of Government expenditure on health care compared with India's relatively miserable 1.4 per cent, is directly relevant to the much greater health achievement of China compared with India."

"It contributes to China's much higher life expectancy than India's (the former being 73.5 years compared with India's 64.4 years)."

"One result of the relatively low allocation to public health care in India is the development of a remarkable reliance of many poor people on private doctors, many of whom have little medical training," Sen said.

"India has moved towards reliance on private health care without developing solid basic public health facilities."

The comparison in terms of social indicators such as those covered in the Human Development Reports of the United Nations or in the list of Millennium Development Goals, tend to be entirely in favour of China against India, he noted.

The Union budget for 2012/13 should send a credible signal on fiscal consolidation by reforming the petroleum subsidy, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of planning commission, said in an interview.

The government is expected to present a budget in mid-March for the fiscal year that begins on April 1, amid slowing economic growth and mounting concerns about public finances.

New Delhi had budgeted a fiscal deficit of 4.6 per cent of GDP for this fiscal year.

However, a slippage on that target is near-certain as a result of sluggish revenue receipts and high spending.

"It is quite clear that it will be very significantly worse. I can't quantify," Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of planning commission, said in an interview on Wednesday.

"The markets have to know that the government is not unconcerned about the fiscal deficit, and I am sure the finance minister will be aware that the credibility of our macro-stance next year depends upon both the extent and the quality of the fiscal correction," Ahluwalia said.

Subsidies that India doles out on fuel, food and fertilizer to help the poor and marginal farmers have been the bane of its public finances.

The original estimate for the fuel subsidy bill for this fiscal year was 236 billion rupees ($4.6 billion), but it is already 300 billion rupees more than that figure.

Fertilizer subsidies are set to top 900 billion rupees, against about 500 billion rupees originally budgeted.

The rising subsidy bill has compelled New Delhi to seek parliament's approval for spending 978 billion rupees extra this year.

In a country where any talk of tinkering with subsidies raises a political storm, the government feels it has little option but to pay the increased bills.

Ahluwalia conceded that reforming the petroleum subsidy would not be easy, but said the government needed to move forward on this after elections in five Indian states in the next few months.

"The credibility on subsidies does not, in my view, depend on what happens on food subsidy because that is a limited capped subsidy. The danger about the petroleum subsidy is that it is an uncapped subsidy," Ahluwalia said.

"If you were to say, should the government give a credible signal? It is a very tough signal to give. But I agree it should give a credible signal."

Difficult to meet 4.6 per cent fiscal deficit target: Pranab Mukherjee
India is unlikely to meet the 4.6 percent fiscal deficit target for the financial year ending March 31, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Wednesday.

"It will be difficult to achieve the target of fiscal deficit of 4.6 percent for the current financial year though we will make our best efforts to reach as near as possible," Mukherjee said in pre-budget consultation with the representatives of agriculture sector here.

The finance minister said the financial year 2011-12 was a challenging one for both domestic and global economy.

The economic growth is estimated to fall to around 7 percent from the budgetary estimate of around 9 percent.

Other major budgetary targets including that of inflation, deficit and growth are unlikely to be met because of the turbulence in the global economy.

Mukherjee said inflation especially the food inflation remained very high during the major part of the year.

"It is only after tightening monetary policy over the year to contain demand side inflationary pressures and removal of supply side constraints that we were able to contain the food inflation."

In his first pre-budget consultation for 2012-13, Mukherjee said monsoon was normal in the last two years and Kharif production was expected to be around 124 million tonnes in the current financial year.

He invited suggestions from the representatives of the agriculture sector to enhance farm productivity, ensure balanced pricing and on measures required to meet food security needs and dealing with malnutrition and issues relating to procurement, marketing, cold chains and maintenance of buffer stocks.

Cash-rich PSUs told to invest aggressively to strengthen the economy: PMO
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NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is nudging cash-rich state firms to invest aggressively in 2012-13 and diversify into the infrastructure sector, as it seeks to revive the flagging economy.

The PMO wants to lean on the public sector to stimulate the economy with heavy investments and shrink the fiscal deficit with share buybacks, using their huge cash reserves - 162,000 crore in 17 state companies. It wants to tap public sector undertakings that have cash and bank balance in excess of 1,000 crore and investment plans of above 1,000 crore in 2012-13.

At a meeting chaired by the principal secretary to the prime minister, Pulok Chatterjee, these PSUs were asked to draw up ambitious investment plans or to transfer unused reserves to the government via share buy-backs so as to pare the fiscal deficit.

Chatterjee said public sector investment can provide stimulus to the economy and that it was important for state-run firms that hold significant cash and bank balances to draw up credible investment programmes. "This will help the companies achieve maximum benefits and strengthen the economy," he said.

Coal India, for example, has modest investment proposals for 4,275 crore, less than a tenth of its cash pile of about 50,000 crore. It has been asked to formulate investment plans outside coal in roads, railways, waterways and power - areas where lack of investment has created infrastructure bottlenecks.

BEL, which says it cannot realistically invest more than a third of its 4,500 crore cash and reserves, has been asked to buy back its own shares from the government, to help cut the fiscal deficit.

At the meeting, coal secretary and CMD of Coal India were asked to find ways to advance some of its investments. "If it not possible to significantly step up investment in the coal sector, CIL should actively consider investment in allied sectors which would help the coal sector through improved evacuation and utilisation of coal," said Chatterjee.

Indian economy slides into danger zone; Investments plunge to 5 year low


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MUMBAI: Investment proposals plunged to a five-year low in 2011 as companies such as GMR and Reliance Power halted projects due to administrative hassles, threatening to amplify the economic slowdown in 2012 and delay recovery even with rate cuts from the central bank.

A prolonged phase of weak investments could increase loan defaults by companies or call for restructuring of debt, denting banks' profitability.

New investment proposals in 2011 fell 45% to 10.46 lakh crore, from 18.88 lakh crore a year earlier, data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) shows.

"If investment-led growth does not happen, we will manage to have a GDP of around 6.5% over the next 3-5 years," said A Subba Rao, chief financial officer,GMR Group, which runs airports and utilities. "Investment is weak and if the government does not act fast, it may come to a grinding halt. The government needs to work overnight and carry forward reforms and approve policies over the next 2-3 months for things to improve."

Companies have frozen investments as government flip-flop on policies are blurring returns, especially in the power sector that guzzles capital and needs scores of departmental approvals for smooth execution. State investments are also slowing as welfare programmes take precedence over asset creation.

With many projects stalled, banks are also reluctant to lend for fear of bad loans. The 13 rate increases by the RBI have made funds expensive.

While private sector investment proposals declined nearly 48% year on year, the government, which is struggling to achieve the fiscal deficit target, was not behind as investments declined 40%.

Gujarat, the most favoured by corporate India, bucked the trend, pulling 18% of the newly announced projects and registering a 14% increase year on year, including a mega expansion by Maruti Suzuki that faced labour problems in Haryana, which saw a near-90% fall from a year earlier, the CMIE data shows.

"Capex has come down because of higher interest rates and low liquidity," Rashesh Shah, chairman,Edelweiss Financial Services. "But, this is just a short-term trend. Capex numbers will bounce back from a low base when rates start going down."

(With inputs from Rachita Prasad & Shailesh Menon)

The worst is yet to come in the euro zone's debt crisis but the currency union will survive 2012 intact, according to a Reuters poll of economists who say France will probably lose its top-notch credit rating.

While just nine out of the poll's 64 economists said the bloc had turned the corner on a sovereign debt crisis, only 10 said the euro zone would not survive the year in its current form. The rest were reasonably confident it would.

A similarly firm majority of those surveyed in the last few days said France would lose its coveted 'AAA' rating in the next three months, while Belgium, Italyand Spain will suffer further cuts to their ratings.

Athens, which is racing to secure funding from its euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund to avoid a sovereign default in March, was cited as the most pressing risk to the euro zone's economic stability.

"All eyes are still on Greece. The situation looks extraordinarily bleak. The household sector is getting hammered ... the banking sector is getting pummeled to pieces," said James Nixon at Societe Generale. "But if someone keeps writing the cheques Greece will survive."

The poll indicates at least some improvement in sentiment compared with late last year. A November poll of leading academics and former policymakers, for instance, said the euro zone was not likely to emerge from the crisis intact.

However, many of the economists in the latest poll work for the large European banks that stand to lose the most under the gloomier scenarios for the single currency bloc - perhaps one factor behind the relatively more hopeful outlook.


Late last year, the European Central Bank pumped around half a trillion euros of cheap three-year money into the banking system to ease tensions in money markets.

Four-fifths of respondents said this had relieved pressure on the bank to start printing money, given that some of this excess cash has found its way into the government securities the ECB is reluctant to purchase.

ECB policymaker Christian Noyer noted last week that European sovereign debt sales had been going much better since the central bank started to extend long-term loans to banks.

The ECB has bought government bonds from some member states, notably Italy and Spain, to lessen painfully high borrowing costs in its regular programme. But it has "sterilised" these purchases by draining equal amounts of liquidity from the banking system.

Otherwise, the process would be quantitative easing (QE), purchasing bonds with freshly printed money. TheFederal Reserve and the Bank of England have been conducting QE for several years in vast sums.

Asian shares gave up earlier gains and the euro struggled on Wednesday, as concerns over euro zone sovereign funding ahead of Spanish and Italian debt auctions later this week overrode earlier optimism about the U.S. and Chinese economies.

Gold extended gains to edge up 0.3 percent even when the dollar index, measured against six key currencies, rose 0.3 percent as safety bids prevailed on worries over Europe.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outsideJapan was nearly flat, retreating on profit taking after earlier hitting its highest since Dec. 9 amid hopes of robust U.S. corporate earnings and monetary easing in China.

European shares were expected to open lower, with financial spreadbetters expecting Britain's FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 to fall around 0.3-0.5 percent.

"It's got a little bit overdone over the past couple of days, particularly in the Shanghai Composite, but the pullback today is really pretty small, so I think it is technical in terms of the market getting a little bit overbought," said Guy Stear, head of research withSociete Generale in Hong Kong.

Shanghai shares have risen about 7 percent since Friday's low, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index has climbed about 4 percent this week. But on Wednesday, Shanghai shares fell 0.4 percent and Hong Kongstocks were flat.

"You need more clarity to take on more risk, but that's still not immediately clear. People are betting on aggressive policy-easing, particularly in the mainland, but conditions are still not bad enough to warrant that," said Beijing-based CICC global equity strategist Hong Hao.

Australian shares rose and the pan-Asian materials sector outperformed for a second day in a row on the back of Tuesday's rally in copper, oil and gold.

Japan's Nikkei average took comfort from a rise in U.S. stocks on hopes for better U.S. corporate earnings, but Euro zone worries limited gains to 0.3 percent.

Some see more resilience in Asia this year than last two years.

"Asia's lower price-to-book and less net foreign buying suggests less risk of a January correction," Credit Suisse said in a research note, referring to 2010 and 2011 when the pan-Asia index peaked in the first week of January after some early exuberance.

But overall market sentiment remains cautious about the prospects of Europe extricating itself from its deep-rooted debt problems any time soon, raising concerns that the crisis would eventually overshadow the modest improvement seen recently in U.S. data and also dampen growth in Asia's powerhouse, China.

China's trade data released on Tuesday showed a record copper imports but also hinted at a trend for shrinking exports and imports, making an eventual policy easing plausible.

"I am not pessimistic about China, but demand hasn't exceeded beyond what is seasonally based while industrial orders are held back," said Tomomichi Akuta, senior energy researcher at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting in Tokyo.

"Manufacturing activities after the Lunar New Year holidays will be key in gauging the economic strength," he said.

5 JAN, 2012, 05.09AM IST, KUNAL SEN,

Economic reforms have not reduced dualism in Indian manufacturing


Indian manufacturing has two very different segments. A modern one, where production occurs in factories with moderate to high levels of technology, and under generally wellregulated conditions for workers, who are relatively well paid, have strong protection against dismissal in the courts, and who often have other benefits such as gratuity and paid leave. In economics parlance, we call this segment the formal sector.

Then there is the informal sector, where production often takes place in small sweatshop-type conditions , where there is very little use of modern technology , where workers can be fired at will, are paid badly and have almost no benefits. Unfortunately, in India, the majority of firms and workers are in the informal sector , leaving only a small section of firms and workers in the formal sector.

Estimates vary on the size of the informal sector, but a recent official report puts the proportion of workers employed in manufacturing in the informal sector at 80%. Even by developing country standards , India's manufacturing sector is highly dualistic. India's high level of dualism is bad both from the point of view of efficiency and equity. A large presence of the informal sector implies that overall productivity is lower than what may have been if the informal sector were smaller, given the low productivity in the informal sector as compared to the formal sector.

At the same time, large differences in earnings between workers in the informal and formal sectors contribute to a high level of income inequality in the country, and the lack of skills and education in workers in the informal sector constrains their ability to move to the better-paid jobs in the formal sector.

It has been often argued that the major reason behind the prevalence of dualism in Indian manufacturing has the policy regime in the past, and that the Licence Raj along with restrictive trade policies pursued by the Indian government till 1991 contributed to the dualism structure of the manufacturing sector, as these policies have been protective of the formal sector and constrained the growth of the informal sector.

An oft-repeated view, particularly originating from the World Bank, is that economic reforms that allow for a level playing field between the informal and formal sectors can reduce dualism significantly . Given that significant economic reforms have occurred in India since 1991, has this happened? The answer is in the negative.

While average efficiency levels in both the informal and the formal manufacturing sectors have increased in industries that witnessed the most reforms, economic reforms have increased the difference in average efficiency between the more efficient formal firms and the less efficient informal firms in Indian manufacturing. Economic reforms have also increased the gap between the most efficient firm in an industry and the average firm in that industry, and this widening of the efficiency gap has happened more in the formal sector.

Economic reforms have, thus, increased dualism in manufacturing , both by increasing the difference in efficiency between formal and informal firms and by increasing the efficiency gap between the most efficient firm and the average firm in both the formal and informal sectors. Surprisingly, even the withdrawal of reservation policies of the small-scale sector , a set of reforms that many believed would allow informal firms to catch up with formal firms, has in fact had the opposite effect, exacerbating the differences in productivity between informal and formal firms.

The glory and the blemishes of the Indian news media

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The HinduAMARTYA SEN: "The political support for tolerating — and defending — the present profligacy in catering to the relatively better off contrasts sharply with the fiscal alarm bells that are sounded whenever proposals for helping the poor, the hungry, the chronically unemployed come up." Photo: S.R. Raghunathan



Indian media need progressive reforms to ensure accountability: N. RamJustice Markandey Katju on the role of media in IndiaIndian media in a challenging environmentN. Ram's address on media at the Indian History CongressMusings on the media in the dockSurvey on Internet use needed to reshape media strategy: N. RamMedia Matters: A lot of virtual noiseFreedom of the press and journalistic ethicsMedia and issues of responsibility


economy, business and financemedia
politicsfreedom of the press
Our free media, including our largely unfettered press, are a hugely important asset for democratic India. And yet the celebration of the Indian news media can go only so far — and no further.
One of the great achievements of India is our free and vibrant press. This is an accomplishment of direct relevance to the working of democracy. Authoritarianism flourishes not only by stifling opposition, but also by systematically suppressing information. The survival and flowering of Indian democracy owes a great deal to the freedom and vigour of our press. There are so many occasions when, sitting even in Europe or in America, I have wished for something like the vigour and many-sided balance of the Indian press to confront the vilification of chosen targets.
One longstanding example of some moment is the organised mischaracterisation in the USA of the British National Health Service and similar public health arrangements in most of Europe. Despite the fact that America has some superb newspapers, such as The New York Times, the information industry has managed to undermine thoroughly the understanding of the great accomplishments of public health care in Europe, and its contribution to enhancing health security, life expectancy, and the quality of life. Rather, the National Health Service and other such medical arrangements are often seen as some kind of a "health lock-up," generating a widespread horror of what is called "socialised medicine" (I have heard of a rumour that American children are persuaded to eat broccoli by threatening them with "socialised medicine" as a dreaded alternative).


Despite the limitations of the Indian news media, some of which I will discuss presently, we have every reason to applaud our free media, including our largely unfettered press, as a hugely important asset for democratic India. And yet the celebration of the Indian media can go only so far — and no further. There are at least two huge barriers to quality that are very worth discussing: one is concerned with the internal discipline of the media and the other relates to the relation between the media and society. The first problem is that of some real laxity in professionalism in achieving accuracy, which can be harmed even without any deliberate intention to mislead or misinform. The second is the bias — often implicit — in the choice of what news to cover and what to ignore, and the way this bias relates particularly to class divisions in India.
Indian reporting can be, and often is, extremely good. I always marvel at the skill of the reporters, often very young men and women, in being able to capture and bring out the nuances of points that are hard to summarise accurately. However, Indian reporting is characterised by great heterogeneity, and sometimes serious inaccuracies can receive widespread circulation through the media (or initiating in the media). While I have been personally lucky, most of the time, I am aware of problems that others have had, and sometimes I see them in my own experience. As an Indian reader, I would like to be sure, when I open the morning newspaper, that what I am reading — that A said B — is actually accurate. It is hard to have that assurance.
Let me give a couple of examples, despite — I should re-emphasise — my generally good experience with reporting in the press. Four days ago in a public discussion I said in answer to a question about the Lokpal initiative that the solution to the extremely important problem of corruption would have to be sought within the Indian democratic system (including our courts and Parliament), and also that I had not seen the blueprint of any effective Lokpal Bill – neither from the government nor from any faction of the Opposition.
When, later on, I opened the web, I found reports with the following headlines: "Lokpal Bill well thought out: Amartya Sen" (The Times of India, India Today, Zee News, NDTV, among others); and "Lokpal Bill not well thought out: Amartya Sen" (DNA News, Money Control, The Telegraph [which did not make it a headline], among others). One paper first distributed the former story and then the latter, without noting that there is a correction here, and I was amused because it is a paper — The Economic Times — with which I am personally associated, since I was given the privilege of editing the paper for one day a few years ago (it was a great day for me, though I gather from the Editor that I drove them all mad, by rejecting entries and asking for several rewrites).
Based on another meeting in Kolkata on the same day, a lecture for the Cancer Foundation of India, I found the following headlines: "To smoke is individual option" (The Statesman) and "Curb smokers' liberty: Amartya" (Hindustan Times). All this is just from one day. Unfortunately, a misreport on one day can have quite big consequences. The Times of India said on December 15: "Amartya Sen: People on street can't deal with corruption." I had said nothing of the sort, as the audio record of the speech confirms, but once that misreporting, coming from a news agency apparently used by many newspapers, is in the public domain, it is hardly surprising that I would be showered with rebuke and moral advice. Dozens of pages of denunciations materialised immediately. Much of the moral advice to me would be sensible enough had the statement reflected something I had said. The one I liked best said: "I think Mr. Sen should keep his mouth shut" — an eminently sensible piece of advice given the constant danger of misreporting by a careless press — or, as in this case, a careless news agency on which many papers mechanically rely.
What I had, in fact, said was that the judgment and penalty for corruption cannot be a matter for street justice, and must come through the democratic procedures that we cherish in India, including the courts and Parliament. I believe the Indian people are fully committed to that democratic priority, rather than "summary justice." What they really complain about is that the democratic procedures are not being applied sufficiently vigorously and stringently to corruption. This is indeed an important demand, and this understanding is very far from any dismissal of the ability of "street people" to comprehend the political challenge arising from corruption. Since I have taken part in street demonstrations myself, complaining about many injustices in India (one recent activity of this kind was related to the public agitation for the right to food), I must stand up for the right of ordinary folks — what the news agency called the "street people" — to be heard loud and clear.


So what can the media do to deal with the lapses from accuracy in reporting? I don't know the answer — my main intention here is to raise the question — but one thought that is fairly straightforward is to get all the newspapers to agree to publish corrections of their own stories as a regular feature (and highlight them online, along with the corrected accounts). This is done with much effectiveness by The Guardian and The New York Times, and some Indian papers already have such a section (the host of this essay, The Hindu, has had this for many years), but the practice can be made more universal among the papers, and also more active and more well-known.
There is also an issue of journalistic training. Taking notes in a rush is never easy, and it has become harder still since most reporters today, unlike those in the past, do not know shorthand. But there are marvellous recording devices in our modern world, and they can perhaps be used more uniformly, rather than the reporters tending to rely on memory, as many still seem to do. There are surely other ways of reducing inadvertent inaccuracy, and it would be nice to see more discussion on it. But now I must move to the second problem to which I referred.


If greater accuracy is mainly an internal challenge for the media, avoiding — and fighting — class bias involves an external challenge that relates to the divisiveness of the Indian society. Of course, class divisions are present elsewhere as well. The "Occupy Wall Street" movement has drawn attention to what it sees as the contrast between the very prosperous — the 1 per cent at the top — and the rest of the 99 per cent in the United States. I will not comment here on the veracity of this 1%-99% contrast, as applied to the United States, but relying on a similar division in India would miss the mark by a long margin. There are, of course, many divisions in India — and some apply to newspaper ownership as well — but the division that introduces a generic bias in Indian news coverage, related to the interest of the newspaper reading public, is more like one between a fortunate fifth of the population who are doing just fine on the basis of the economic progress that is taking place in India, and the rest who are being left firmly behind.
There is, in fact, a substantial part of the Indian population — a minority but still very large in absolute numbers — for whom India's economic growth is working well, along with those who were already comparatively privileged. An exaggerated concentration on their lives, which the Indian media tend typically to display, gives an unreal picture of the rosiness of what is happening to Indians in general. There tends to be fulsome coverage in the news media of the lifestyles of the fortunate, and little notice of the concerns of the less fortunate. To refer to three of many unfortunate facts (the list can be quite long): (1) India has the highest percentage of undernourished children in the entire world, measured in terms of the standard criteria; (2) India spends a far lower percentage of its GNP than China on government-provided health care and has a much lower life expectancy; and (3) India's average rank among South Asian countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan — in the standard social indicators, varying from life expectancy and immunisation to infant mortality and girls' schooling, has dropped over the last twenty years from being second-best to second-worst (even as India has surged ahead in terms of GNP per capita).
The problem here does not, of course, originate in the media, for it is social division that feeds this bias in coverage. But the media can play a more constructive part in keeping the reality of India persistently in the view of the public. The bias in coverage, even though it is by no means unpleasant to the reader, contributes quite heavily to the political apathy about the urgency of remedying the extreme deprivation of the Indian underprivileged. Since the fortunate group includes not only business leaders and the professional classes, but also the bulk of the country's intellectuals, the story of unusual national advancement gets, directly or indirectly, much aired — making an alleged reality out of what is at best a very partial story.


The group of relatively privileged and increasingly prosperous Indians can easily fall for the temptation to assume that given the high rate of economic growth, there is no particular need for special social efforts to enhance the lives of people. When, for example, the government introduced, as it did recently, its plan of providing subsidised food for the Indian poor, an enormous number of critics pointed immediately to the fiscal problems involved, and some even talked about the sheer "irresponsibility" that is allegedly reflected in the Food Security Bill.
There are indeed many serious problems with the Food Security Bill that has been tabled, and the Bill can be much improved and one hopes it will be. Furthermore, fiscal responsibility is certainly a serious issue and the financing of food subsidies, like other social programmes, demands critical examination. But it is worth asking why there is hardly any media discussion about other revenue-involving problems, such as the exemption of diamond and gold from customs duty, which, according to the Ministry of Finance, involves a loss of a much larger amount of revenue (Rs.50,000 crore per year) than the additional cost involved in the Food Security Bill (Rs.27,000 crore). The total "revenue forgone" under different headings, presented in the Ministry document, an annual publication, is placed at the staggering figure of Rs.511,000 crore per year. This is, of course, a big overestimation of revenue that can be actually obtained (or saved), since many of the revenues allegedly forgone would be difficult to capture — and so I am not accepting that rosy evaluation. And yet it is hard to understand why the cost of the Food Security Bill should be separated out for fiscal gloom without examining other avenues of fiscal soundness. An active media can draw attention to what is being probed and what remains underdiscussed and underexplored.
The impact of India's division between the privileged and the non-privileged can also be seen in the political power of the advocates of continuing — and expanding — subsidies on fuel use, even those that go particularly to the relatively rich (such as petrol for car owners), or of fertilizers, which yield major transfers of a regressive kind, even as they help with agricultural production. It is possible to redesign these fiscal arrangements to introduce more economic rationality, greater environmental awareness, and the demands of equity with efficiency. The political support for tolerating — and defending — the present profligacy in catering to the relatively better off contrasts sharply with the fiscal alarm bells that are sounded whenever proposals for helping the poor, the hungry, the chronically unemployed come up.
If the first problem I referred to, that of accuracy, is one of improving the performance of the news media through better quality control, the second, transcending class bias, concerns the media's role in reporting and discussing the problems of the country in a balanced way. The media can greatly help in the functioning of Indian democracy and the search for a better route to progress including all the people — and not just the more fortunate part of Indian society. What is central to the functioning of the news media in Indian democracy is the combination of accuracy with the avoidance of bias. The two problems, thus, complement each other.
(Amartya Sen, the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998. The Bharat Ratna was conferred on him in 1999.)

Palash Biswas
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