Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New industrial thrust in western Bengal


The Government of West Bengal is all set to reverse the global economic meltdown and this was amply demonstrated when documents for a vast landmass of 750 acres were officially handed over to Jai Balaji Group for its integrated steel plant at Raghunathpur in Purulia district by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation(WBIDC) on December 29.

The state Government has worked out an industrial development plan, spanning the least developed districts of Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia with the Durgapur industrial belt in the background v where West Bengal first made its industrial tryst after independence.

As a matter of fact, these areas belong to the geological area where mineral rich deposits like coal, iron and other minor metals are available and capital investment is required to exploit such minerals. To make things politically correct, the WBIDC and the state government are taking all measures to involve all shades of political opinions, prior research activities and compensation packages to land losers to make the upcoming mega projects to succeed in the above districts.

In fact, economic development needs to address socio-economic issues that are more important than displacement or evacuation. The corporate social responsibility of Balaji Group would go to the extent of meeting the critical gap like community development education. health, skill-training, counseling on careers for villagers who are unable to cultivate drought-prone soil. All these programme would be executed in association with the local panchayet bodies.

So far, 2793 landowners have given up their land for the Jai Balaji project which is setting up a 2 million ton steel plant, a 400 MW power and a one million ton cement plant in the first phase with an investment of Rs 16,000 crore. The eligible local people
Have already been inducted into various technical training schemes in the industrial training centre at Raghunathpur which has been upgraded with Rs 5 crore and in this scheme the Damodar Valley Corporation has involved itself which is also setting up a power facility there. It is expected that around 5000 persons will be recruited in the Jai Balaji plant.

However, Aditya Jajodiya CMD of Balaji Group admitted that the global meltdown would affect the project to the extent of 30 per cent because of demand recession.On the other hand the company has been able to get financial support worth Rs 700 crore of line of credit from 20 bankers with the State Bank of India in the lead.

FDI inflows up by 259% in September 2008 – DMIC Project aims to double employment potential



Consequent to the policy changes and procedural simplifications, FDI equity inflows have registered a phenomenal upswing. The FDI equity inflows in the month of September, 2008 were US $ 2.56 billion, representing a growth of 259% over the same month in the previous year (during September, 2007, the FDI equity inflows were US $ 713 million). FDI equity inflows during April-September 2008 have been US $ 17.21 billion. This represents a growth of 137% over the previous year (FDI equity inflows during April-September 2007 were US $ 7.25 billion). The sectors attracting the highest FDI equity inflows during April to August, 2008 have been the services sector (US $ 2.34 billion), construction activities including roads and highways (US $ 1.64 billion), housing and real estate (US $ 1.62 billion) and computer hardware and software (US $ 1.36 billion). The top investing countries in terms of FDI equity inflows during April to August, 2008 have been Mauritius (US $ 5.27 billion), Singapore (US $ 1.72 billion), USA (US $ 1.15 billion) and Netherlands (US $ 580 million). 

The government has, on a review of the FDI policy, further liberalised the following Sectors: (1) Petroleum & Natural Gas; (2) Civil Aviation; (3) Commodity Exchanges; (4) Credit Information Companies; (5) Mining of Titanium bearing minerals and ores and its value addition; and (6) Industrial Parks; 

The UNCTAD World Investment Report 2008, in its analysis of the global trends and sustained growth of FDI inflows, has reported a significant increase in FDI inflows in India. The increase is mainly due to an improved investment environment and further opening up of the telecommunications and other industries. The report also says that the prospects for FDI to the region (South, East and South-East Asia) remain promising despite concerns about the impact of the financial crisis. 


With the objective to create strong economic base with globally competitive environment and state-of-the-art infrastructure to activate local commerce, enhance foreign investments and attain sustainable development, the government accorded ‘in principle’ approval for the DMIC Project. DMIC Project aims at doubling the employment potential, tripling the industrial output and quadrupling exports from the region in the first five years.  

On requests from the Southern States, DIPP initiated action on the Chennai -Bangalooru - Mumbai Industrial Corridor (CBMIC) Project. The work of preparation of the Concept Paper for the CBMIC Project has been assigned to M/s IDFC Projects Ltd.  


A plan scheme for Modernisation and Strengthening of Intellectual Property Offices at an outlay of Rs.300 crore has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for implementation during the 11th Five Year Plan. As part of implementation of the scheme, 414 new posts have been created in Intellectual Property Office.

The intellectual property office has received record number of applications during the financial year 2007-08 compared to the financial year 2006-07. During the period, the number of patent applications increased from 28,882 to 35,067; the number of trade marks applications increased from 1,03,419 to 1,23,514. Number of applications for registration of designs during 2007-08 was 6402 as against 5521during 2006-07.

The number of Geographical Indications registered so far crossed 100 and stood at 104. 


Four projects, 3 in industrially less developed States and one against cancellation of a project have been sanctioned with a total cost of Rs.205 crore including Central grant of Rs.142 crore. These projects are: Handloom Cluster, Chanderi, Readymade Garments Cluster, Jabalpur, Auto Cluster, Adityapur (Jharkhand) and Engineering Cluster, Nashik. The IIUS has been recast based on critical evaluation of the Scheme carried out by an independent agency and EFC has already approved the recast IIUS with an allocation of Rs.450 crore for taking up 10-15 projects in the 11th Five Year Plan.


Rs.629.06 crore was released during the year under Transport Subsidy Scheme, Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme, Interest Subsidy Scheme and Comprehensive Insurance Scheme.


The main function of Project Approval Board/ Industrial Licences is receipt and disposal of applications for grant of Industrial Licences and Foreign Technical Collaborations. The details of approvals / licences issued during the year 2008 are: (a) Direct Industrial Licences - 102; (b) Converted Industrial Licences - 12; (c) Foreign Technical Collaboration approvals - 94; and (d) Letter of Intent - 4.

Import of coal by power utilities rises

The various coal utilities of the country have already imported around 10 million tonnes of coal to meet the shortages in the supply of domestic coal. The utility majors including NTPC have tied up for the import of 19.46 million tonnes of coal by the end of this fiscal against a target of 20 million tonnes. 

Shri Anil Razdan, Power Secretary exhorted the power utilities not only to achieve the import target this fiscal, but also to complete the procurement formalities by January, 2009, so that the target of 25 million tones is achieved. Rigorous monitoring should be continued to meet the gap on coal supply. 

Secretary (Coordination), Cabinet Secretariat has also reviewed the coal supply position and import of coal. She expressed her satisfaction at the import so far and expected that power utilities complete the import as per target. She advised that two remaining utilities be also persuaded to start import of coal soon, so that loss of generation can be avoided.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Strong interest in Matrix Metals copper assets

Matrix Metals (ASX:MRX) receivers Gary Doran and John Greig from professional services firm Deloitte have received strong interest from more than 30 potential buyers for the Company’s Queensland copper assets.

The receivers are pleased to today report that Matrix’s existing copper assets including the production facility (9,0000 tonnes per annum capacity) at Mt Cuthbert in Queensland are currently operating and delivering value for all stakeholders.

Matrix Metals went into Voluntary Administration on 11 November, 2008, after which Glencore International AG, a secured creditor, appointed Mr Doran and Mr Greig as receivers and managers.

Mr Doran said Deloitte has received strong interest from parities wishing to acquire all or part of the Company’s assets, or participate in a reorganisation of the Company.

“We have seen a really strong interest and positive response,” Mr Doran said.

“To date, more than 30 firm expressions of interest have been received, with the closing date for indicative offers on 12 January 2009.

“The interest demonstrates that there are buyers out there for good assets, and that if you are cashed up, there are certainly some good buying opportunities in the current market,” Mr Doran said.

Matrix’s Queensland assets include mining pits at Mt Watson and Mt Cuthbert, an operating production facility (9,000 tonnes per annum capacity) at Mt Cuthbert, and exploration tenements covering 3,600 km2 in and around Leichhardt and Cloncurry.

Mr Doran said the receivers had moved quickly, in collaboration with the administrators, to obtain funding and to continue operations of the Matrix assets.

“The best outcome for stakeholders was to take the company to the market as a going concern,” Mr Doran said.

“We have secured some funding to help achieve this, and have been able to capitalise on the deep mining and technical expertise within Deloitte to get the operation back on track and generating some cash flow from copper metal sales,” he said.

Mr Doran said the receivers had sold approximately 500 tonnes of copper metal since being appointed. The company has also retained the majority of the Matrix workforce.

“We have secured funding, continued partial operations of the Matrix facilities and have been able to generate cash flow through copper sales in the current market – all of which we believe is in the best interest of stakeholders,” he said.

Deloitte is fortunate to have Partner, Corporate Finance Division, Dr Eric Lilford, a qualified mining engineer, working with the receivers.

“Unlike traditional receiverships, Dr Lilford has been assisting with the ongoing operation of Matrix’s assets and assisting with identifying potential purchasers as part of the Expression of Interest process.

“Having joined Deloitte in July 2008, Dr Lilford brings additional strength to Deloitte’s reorganisation team in the areas of operational, investment and merchant banking experience across the global resources sector. Many insolvency firms need to source external advisors to assist with ongoing mining operations and facilitating an EOI process. Fortunately, Deloitte can offer a one stop service for corporate reorganisation and we’re finding this a very powerful combination for our clients,” Mr Doran said. 


Friday, December 26, 2008


Blue Star awarded ‘Grade 1’ accreditation by Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)

Blue Star, India’s leading central airconditioning and commercial refrigeration company has been awarded the highest accreditation of Grade 1 among Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).

BEE, which is a part of Ministry of Power, Govt of India, has been promoting energy conservation measures across the country by institutionalizing energy efficiency delivery mechanisms through the development of Energy Service Companies (ESCOs). ESCOs specialize in energy audits and in implementing energy efficiency practices in existing buildings/ facilities.

With the need to increase the numbers of ESCOs and promote large scale implementation of energy efficiency through the ESCO route, BEE undertook an exercise to shortlist eligible ESCOs across the country through an open invitation and evaluation process. At the end of the process only 37 ESCOs were shortlisted. The stringent process of rating the applicants was carried out by CRISIL and ICRA, which involved an assessment of success in implementation of energy efficiency projects, ability of technical power and financial strength to invest in such projects.

Blue Star has been involved with ESCO related activities for 4 years and has over 390 engineers and 30 accredited auditors making it one of the largest ESCOs in India. Blue Star’s CRISIL-BEE Grade 1 indicates ‘Very High’ ability of the Company to undertake energy efficiency projects. Only 6 companies in the country have been awarded the accreditation of Grade 1 and Blue Star is one of them. According to CRISIL, the major strengths of Blue Star included an impressive track record of managing HVAC projects and a strong organizational structure and competent team.

In addition to energy audits, Blue Star also provides comprehensive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) consultancy services for Green Buildings and has 3 accredited professionals to provide expert Green Building consultancy for new construction as well as existing buildings.



The year 2008 saw India achieving record food production followed by record procurement. This has ensured the country’s food security and has helped in keeping food prices in check except for seasonal and temporary price variations. 

In the crop year ending September 2008, over 28.4 million tonne rice was procured. The procurement of rice during the current crop year as on 23.12.2008 is 20.5% higher at 14.23 million tones as against 11.8 million tones during the same period. 

Coming after a record 22.6 million tonne wheat procurement during the year, it has helped in maintaining very comfortable foodgrain stocks with government agencies. This would facilitate timely intervention in the market to keep the prices at reasonable level.
The Government has also decided to create a strategic reserve of 5 million tonne of food grains out of the domestic procurement, in addition to the buffer stock held by FCI. 

The sugar industry reeled under excess production in the 2007-08 sugar season, and the government took several measures for helping the industry and the farmers. These included interest subsidy to sugar mills for loans taken to meet cane price arrears, buffer subsidy, export assistance and blending of ethanol with petrol. Cane price arrears have considerably reduced, leaving a balance of only Rs. 802 crore, 3.3% of total price payable.

A number of steps were taken to check rise in prices of food commodities and to ensure their availability. On account of prevailing higher international prices, rising demand and to meet domestic availability, particularly in respect of pulses and edible oils, several measures were taken including regulation of export and import of essential food items. Thus, import duties on rice, wheat, pulses, edible oils (crude) other than soya oil, maize, butter and ghee have been kept at zero; and import duties on refined and hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils have been reduced to 7.5 per cent. Export of non-basmati rice, wheat, all major edible oils and pulses has been banned. Stock limits have been imposed on paddy rice, wheat, pulses, edible oils and oilseeds.

A scheme to distribute one million tonnes of edible oils to States at a subsidy of Rs. 15 per kg was also launched during the year to make edible oils available to ration card holders at subsidized rates. It was followed by distribution of imported pulses through the PDS at a subsidy of Rs. 10 per kg.

The Centre kept pressure on State Governments to improve the functioning of the public distribution system. As a result, the off take by States for TPDS has increased to 84.77% this year. Under a pilot project, smart cards are to be issued to TPDS beneficiaries in Haryana and Chandigarh. Concurrent evaluation of TPDS has been done in 12 States and is in progress in 14 States and UTs.

Rs. 6,000 crore outlay approved for Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the Scheme of repair, renovation and restoration of wide variety of water bodies all over the country with an approximate cost of Rs. 6,000 crore during XI Plan period.. The scheme will cover about 23000 water bodies across the country with a Culturable Command Area of 16.8 lakh hectares. When completed, the project will create an additional irrigation potential of 7.5 lakh hectares. 

The scheme envisages that the States will prepare projects with a sub-basin approach with regard to public water bodies on Government land/ Gram Panchayat / Municipalities / Corporations, Registered Societies in Agriculture and Allied sectors as well as Public Trusts, etc. 

The objective is comprehensive improvement of selected tank systems including restoration, improvement of catchment area of tank commands, increase in storage capacity of water bodies, improvement in agriculture / horticulture productivity, increase in recharge of ground water in downstream areas of water bodies, development of tourism, cultural activities, increased availability of drinking water, etc. 

Under the scheme, it will copver about 23000 water bodies having Culturable Command Area of about 16.8 lakh hec. After the completion of the scheme about 7.5 lakh hec. Of additional irrigation potential would be created.

Integrated Energy Policy Approved for Longterm Sustainable Growth & Energy Security

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the Integrated Energy Policy for the country. It also decided to set up a Monitoring Committee under the Chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary for reviewing the progress of implementation of the policy. The Integrated Energy Policy envisions a roadmap for sustainable growth with energy security over a reasonable period of time. 

India needs to sustain an economic growth of at least 9 percent over the next 25 years if it is to eradicate poverty and meet its larger human development goals. Meeting the energy requirements of this growth in a sustainable manner presents a difficult challenge and one that has become more formidable following the steep rise in international energy prices since 2006. It is necessary in this backdrop to evolve an integrated energy policy that provides a coherent framework of policy covering different energy sources in a consistent manner.

Integrated Energy Policy

India needs to sustain an economic growth of at least 9 percent over the next 25 years if it is to eradicate poverty and meet its larger human development goals. The primary energy supply (including gathered non-commercial such as wood and dung) must increase at the rate of 5.8% annually for fuelling the growth. Meeting this requirement is a challenge which needs to be addressed through an Integrated Energy Policy. The broad vision behind the Integrated Energy Policy is to reliably meet the demand for energy services of all sectors including the lifeline energy needs of vulnerable households in all parts of the country with safe, clean and convenient energy at the least-cost. 

Salient features of the Policy:

ð Provide appropriate fiscal policies to take care of externalities and independent regulation to take care of anti-competitive market behaviour.

ð Both the tax structure and regulatory philosophy applied in each energy sector should be consistent with the overall energy policy should provide a level playing field to all players whether public or private. 

ð Taxes should be neutral across energy sources except where differentials in taxation across energy sources are specifically intended to counter differential externalities, such as those reflecting environmental externalities.

ð Subsidies must be transparent and targeted. Consideration should be given to alternative means of achieving the social objectives sought to be achieved by energy subsidies.

ð Promote energy-efficiency by enforcing energy standards effectively.

ð PSUs operating in the energy sector must operate with autonomy and also full accountability to ensure incentives for adequate investment through their own resources and improvements in efficiency in energy production and distribution. 

ð India will have to pursue all available fuel options and forms of energy and must seek to acquire new energy sources abroad. 

ð India must actively promote technologies that maximise energy efficiency, demand side management, conservation and energy security and this must be done by encouraging domestic research into such technologies and free access to suitable energy related technologies available abroad.  

ð For economic efficiency and for promoting optimal investment in energy, energy markets should be competitive wherever possible. Competitive markets would lead to trade parity prices ensuring that energy use and inter-fuel choices would be economically rational. But a truly competitive market requires that there are multiple producers and that there are no entry barriers to new producers or to imports.

ð Energy prices must send the right signal to producers and energy users to conserve energy and, where relevant, switch to preferred sources.

ð Prices of all commercial primary energy sources which are tradable should be set at trade parity prices at the point of sale.

ð A phased adjustment of domestic petroleum prices to trade parity prices must be undertaken in a relatively short period.

ð Coal prices should ideally be left to the market and trading of coal, nationally and internationally, should be free. Coal prices should be made fully variable based on Gross Calorific Value (GCV) and other quality parameters instead of the current system of pricing on the basis of broad bands of useful heat value.

ð Trade parity principles cannot be easily applied to Natural Gas because it requires significant investments in pipelines or, alternatively, in liquefaction, cryogenic shipping & re-gasification for trading. Natural gas price can be determined through competition among different producers where multiple sources and a competitive supply-demand balance exist. 

ð Reduce technical and commercial losses in transmission and distribution utilities.

ð Separate the cost of the pure wires business (carriage) from the energy business (content) in both transmission and distribution.

ð All generation and transmission projects should be competitively built on the basis of tariff-based bidding.

ð Set multi-year tariffs and differentiate them by time of day tariff.

ð Incentives for promoting renewables should be linked to outcomes (energy generated) and not just outlays (capacity installed). Alternative incentive structures such as mandated feed-in-laws or differential tariffs or specifying renewable portfolio percentage in total supply would encourage utilities to integrate wind, small hydro, cogeneration etc. into their systems.

ð Fuel wood plantations, bio-gas plants, wood gasifier based power plants, bio-diesel and ethanol should be promoted.

ð Set-up a National Energy Fund (NEF) to finance R&D in Energy sector.

ð A number of technology missions including Solar Energy Mission should be mounted for developing near-commercial technologies and rolling out in a time bound manner new technologies that emphasise nationally relevant sources of energy.

ð Ensure energy security by

- lowering the requirement of energy, 

- substituting imported fuels with alternatives, 

- expanding the domestic energy resource base,

- maintaining reserve equivalent to 90 days of oil imports,

- building strategic stockpile of nuclear fuel to counter the risk of disruption of international fuel supply,

- acquiring energy assets abroad and setting up energy using industries such as fertiliser plants in energy rich countries.

ð Provide electricity to all rural households through Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) and clean cooking energy such as LPG, NG, biogas or kerosene to all within ten years. 

ð Subsidy for electricity and cleaner fuels, kerosene or LPG to targeted households should be delivered through a system of debit card in phased manner.

ð A large scale socio-economic experiment should be financed to operate community sized bio-gas plants as a commercial enterprise either by a community cooperative or by a commercial entrepreneur. Bio-gas plants on this scale could meet the need for clean cooking energy of a sizable segment of the rural population.

ð Recommended initiatives would have effect on reducing the green house gas intensity of the economy by as much as by one third. 

 Approval of M/s. Suzlon Energy Limited, Ahmedabad for permission to undertake Right Issue of equity shares to its existing shareholders including persons residents outside India for an amount not exceeding Rs.1800 cr. 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today gave its approval to the proposal of M/s. Suzlon Energy Limited, subject to the conditions recommended by FIPB, to undertake Right Issue of equity to its existing shareholders including persons residents outside India for an amount not exceeding Rs.1800 crore.

Finance Ministry’s statement on inflation


Following is the text of the statement issued by the Finance Ministry on inflation here today. 

“Annual rate of inflation, year-on-year, declined to 6.61 per cent for the week ending December 13, 2008 compared to a rate of 6.84 per cent reported in the previous week. Inflation continues to be in single digit for seven weeks consecutively, with a small decline of 23 basis points over last week. 

Contribution of primary articles to the year-on-year inflation rate for the week ending December 13, 2008 show that this group accounted for 41.59 per cent, as against their share of 22.03 per cent to the WPI basket, while the fuel and power group has registered negative contribution. Prices of primary articles continue to rule high, despite the decline in overall inflation, due to the base effect. 

However, the rate of inflation in essential commodities has declined from 9.01 per cent in the previous week to 8.78 per cent in the week ended December 13, 2008, while for the combined food index (weight = 25.43 per cent), the year-on-year inflation was higher at 8.71 per cent in the current week compared to 8.51 per cent last week and 0.94 per cent last year. 

Commodity group-wise examination of year-on-year inflation shows that inflation in the ‘fuel and power’ group declined to (-) 0.18 per cent in the current week compared to 0.58 per cent reported in the previous week, while for manufactured products, the inflation rate in the current week decreased to 7.00 per cent, compared to 7.32 per cent in previous week. However, in the ‘primary articles’ group, the rate of inflation increased to 12.15 per cent, as compared to 11.81 per cent reported last week, accruing mainly from increase in iron ore prices. 

Prominent among the items showing decline in the week-on-week inflation rate are seasonal vegetables, rice, maize, tea and arhar, while those which have registered increase are pulses, other cereals, onions, brinjal, cabbage and fish. Items in the fuel and power group remained stable. Among the manufactured products, sugar, certain edible oils, steel products and cement show decreased inflation rate, while gur, newspaper, PVC items and imported edible oils have increased. 

Inflation rate as captured by the Consumer Price Indices for Agricultural Labour (CPI-AL) and Rural Labour (CPI-RL) declined by 3 basis points in November 2008 to 11.11 per cent compared to the previous month. 

The current price pressure from minerals, particularly iron ore, has contributed substantially to the increase in the monthly deseasonalised inflation rate in the primary articles group.”

The Law Commission of India has submitted its 216th Report on “Non-feasibility of introduction of Hindi as compulsory language in the Supreme Court of India” 

The Law Commission of India has submitted to the Government of India, its 216th Report on “Non-feasibility of introduction of Hindi as compulsory language in the Supreme Court of India”. The Hon’ble Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Justice AR. Lakshmanan, former Supreme Court Judge, forwarded the said report to the Hon’ble Union Law Minister, Dr. H.R.Bhardwaj, on 17th December, 2008. 

The Law Commission received a reference from the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice which forwarded a copy of the note dated 29.3.2006 from Joint Secretary & Legislative Counsel, Legislative Department along with a copy of the recommendations of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language to obtain the views of Law Commission of India on the recommendations of the said Committee made in its Report at S.No.16.8(d) and 16.8(e) stated under Resolution No. 11011/5/2003-OL (Research) dated 13.7.2005 of the Department of Official Language, Ministry of Home Affairs. 

Paragraphs 16.8(d) & (e) of the report of the said Committee envisage that Article 348 of the Constitution may be amended to enable the Legislative Department to undertake original drafting in Hindi. After the amendment of Article 348 of the Constitution, High Courts/Supreme Court should be asked to start delivering their judgments and decrees etc. in Hindi so that large number of Government Departments, who are carrying out judicial/ quasi-judicial functions, could be able to deliver orders in Hindi. At present, these departments are unable to pass orders in Hindi, because the appeal against their orders in High Courts/Supreme Court would have to be conducted in English. 

The Law Commission addressed letters to some of the retired Chief Justices and Judges of the Supreme Court of India, Senior Advocates from different parts of India and also from the different Bar Associations in different States regarding recommendations of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language on the proposal to amend article 348 of the Constitution of India. 

In response to the letter, the Law Commission has received written responses from former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the High Courts, Senior Advocates, High Court Advocates’ Associations on the said proposal. The Commission has deeply gone into the views so obtained and has unanimously recommended that -

i) Language is a highly emotional issue for the citizens of any nation. It has a great unifying force and is a powerful instrument for national integration. No language should be thrust on any section of the people against their will since it is likely to become counter-productive. 

ii) It is not merely a vehicle of thought and expression, but for Judges at the higher level, it is an integral part of their decision-making process. Judges have to hear and understand the submissions of both the sides, apply the law to adjust equities. Arguments are generally made in higher courts in English and the basic literature under the Indian system is primarily based on English and American text books and case laws. Thus, Judges at the higher level should be left free to evolve their own pattern of delivering judgments. 

iii) It is particularly important to note that in view of the national transfer policy in respect of the High Court Judges, if any such Judge is compelled to deliver judgments in a language with which he is not well-versed, it might become extremely difficult for him to work judicially. On transfer from one part of the country to another, a High Court Judge is not expected to learn a new language at his age and to apply the same in delivering judgments. 

iv) At any rate no language should be thrust upon the Judges of the higher judiciary and they should be left free to deliver their judgments in the language they prefer. It is important to remember that every citizen, every Court has the right to understand the law laid down finally by the Apex Court and at present one should appreciate that such a language is only English. 

v) The use of English language also facilitates the movement of lawyers from High Courts to the Apex Court since they are not confronted with any linguistic problems and English remains the language at both the levels. Any survey of the society in general or its cross-sections will clearly substantiate the above proposition which does not admit of much debate, particularly in the present political, social and economic scenario. 

vi) It may, however, be admitted that in so far as legislative drafting is concerned, every legislation although authoritatively enacted in English may have a Hindi authoritative translation along with the same at the central level. Same analogy may be applied even in respect of executive actions at the central level, but the higher judiciary should not be subjected to any kind of even persuasive change in the present societal context.

Major Initiatives of I&B Ministry during 2008


Year-end-Review 2008

  The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has taken several policy initiatives and operational measures to ensure smooth flow of information to the masses as well as quality of content and reception of telecast signals on the electronic media during the year. The major initiatives include:

Policy on Internet Protocol TV 

The policy on Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) was announced on 8th September this year by the Government. This opened up the doors for another mode of distribution of signals by close to 400 permitted satellite TV channels through the Telecom Networks. This gives a new digital visual experience to the Indian viewer with added value to cater to the ever-persisting demand of the subscribers for new and interactive services. This also provides increasing opportunities to create diverse business models both for the broadcasters as well as for the platform service providers. The policy on IPTV offers greater clarity on the issues involved, and both the telecom operators and the cable operators are able to provide IPTV services which is to be regulated as per their respective licensing conditions. Under the Policy, the content will be regulated as per the Programme and Advertisement Codes as prescribed under the Cable Act, which takes care of several apprehensions including those with respect to provisioning of obscene content. It defines the liability for violations of content codes and how they will be dealt with and takes care of the concerns relating to national security. The policy also enables Multi System Operators (MSOs) and Cable operators along with broadcasters to provide content to Telecom licensees providing IPTV services. The policy also enables IPTV service providers to create its own content except for the news and current affairs. With the Government committed to expanding the Broadband penetration, IPTV is slated to play a big role in distribution of content. 

Digitalization of Cable Services

Government is also working on devising a suitable regulatory framework for Digitalization of Cable Services. This is the key factor in getting rid of problems such as under-declaration of subscribers and the practice of carriage fee being charged by cable operators, particularly in TRP cities. As per TRAI estimates the cost of conversion of existing about 6000 analog cable head ends from one-way analogue cable network to one-way digital cable network works out to Rs. 15,000 Crores. If the cable networks are to be upgraded to two-way 750-850 MHz broadband digital cable networks, then the cost of upgradation would work out to about Rs 64000 crore. One major policy initiative that could bring down the investment required from Rs. 15000 crore to about Rs. 1200 crore with some recurring cost is the introduction of Head-end-in-the-Sky (HITS). 

The other policy intervention being considered is on the lines suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its recent recommendations on restructuring of cable services. It has been proposed to prescribe a time period of 5 years within which the existing and new Multi System Operators (MSOs) and Local Cable Operators (LCOs) will have to digitalise with some incentivisation from the license fee as also support from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) for setting up two way cable networks for providing broadband services in rural areas. Beyond the five-year period no new license for cable operation will be given for analog services. 

Ministry is also working on extending the Conditional Access System (CAS) area firstly to the remaining parts of the three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and then to the 55 cities as suggested by the TRAI group. Measures are also being considered to bring down the cost of the Set Top Box by rationalization of tax and duty structure. 

Head-end-in-the-Sky (HITS)

The key factor in conversion of small time cable operators to the digital mode of delivery is the investment required to be made in the setting up of the digital head end, CAS and Short Messaging Service (SMS). Head end-in-the-sky mode of delivery of content can help bring down these costs for the small time cable operators, thus speeding up the transition. The TRAI recommendations on HITS are being considered in the Ministry for laying down a policy. The broad outlines of the HITS policy under consideration is already in the public domain, which aims at increasing the penetration of cable market further into rural areas where it has been absent because of unviability with reduced cost of Set Top Boxes. It is also likely to lead to further consolidation of the cable market and attract further investments by improving the return on investments. 

Mobile TV

Because of the large potential of the Mobile TV sector and interest shown by the industry the Ministry of I&B had requested TRAI to make its recommendations after due consultations with stakeholders. TRAI has since sent its recommendations, which are under examination of the Government. Ministry is also considering permitting field trials for different broadcasting technologies for mobile TV transmission. 

DTH Service 

Direct-to-Home (DTH) Service refers to distribution of multi-channel programmes in Ku Band by using a satellite system, for providing TV signals direct to subscribers’ premises. DTH provides subscribers the advantage of geographical mobility meaning thereby that once a customer purchases DTH hardware, he/she can continue to use the same unit anywhere in India. DD DIRECT+ is India's first and only FTA Direct-To-Home (DTH) Service being provided by Prasar Bharati. Besides, M/s Dish TV, Tata Sky, Sun Direct TV, Reliance Big TV, Bharti Telemedia and Bharat Business Channel are the other private commercial DTH service operators.

Satellite Radio Service

The recommendations of the TRAI on satellite radio were considered in the Ministry and a draft policy was prepared and referred to TRAI for further recommendations. TRAI’s recommendations on the Draft policy have since been received and Government is in the process of firming up its views on the same.  

A draft Content Code formulated by the Committee with Secretary I&B as its head to review the existing Programme and Advertising Codes was posted on the website of the Ministry and after considering the response from broadcasting organizations, Civil Society groups, Consumer Forum etc., the Committee submitted its final report to the Government on 5.3.2008.

The News Broadcasters’ Association (NBA), a representative organization for the TV news channels, submitted its Code of Ethics and the guidelines for the Disputes Redressal Authority to the Ministry, which has started functioning from 2nd October, 2008 on self-regulation basis. NBA was basically formed as the News Broadcasters were opposed to any kind of regulation or Content Code drawn by Government.

Detailed guidelines framed for the State Level and District Level Monitoring Committees to look into the violation of Cable TV Networks Rules in a uniform manner. These Committees would inter alia comprise representatives of leading NGOs working for the women, academicians/psychologists/sociologists etc.

General Advisories/warnings issued to the private TV channels to remind them of the provisions of the Programme and Advertising Codes which they are required to follow as per the permission issued to them for operating TV channels in India specially keeping in mind the impact of obtrusive content on the impressionable minors.

State-of-art facility, Electric Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) has been set up with effect from 9.6.2008 to continuously record the broadcast signals being received in India. To begin with 100 TV channels are monitored and it is proposed to upgrade it to 300 TV channels during the current Financial Year.

Abstract of number of TV channels permitted so far is as under:

Total number of Pvt. TV Channels : 417

Private channels (Uplinked) : 357 (197 News Channel + 160 Non-News & Current Affairs Channels).

Number of Downlinked TV Channels : 60 (13 News Channel  + 47 Non-News & Current   Affairs Channels).

Doordarshan & Parliamentary Channels : 33.

A Special Package for Jammu and Kashmir amounting to Rs.300 crores was approved for improvement of content of Kashir Channel.

Coverage of Important Events

CCEA approved the proposal of Prasar Bharati as Host Broadcaster and PIB as Press Organ for coverage of Commonwealth Youth Games Pune 2008 and Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010. Commonwealth Youth Games, Pune 2008, was widely covered by Prasar Bharati with its in-house resources, winning wide accolades.

FM Radio 

During the year, the Cabinet approved the grant of permission to the FM broadcasting companies for creation of subsidiaries, and merger/demerger/amalgamations of companies by way of transfer of shares in partial modification of the policy on expansion of FM Radio Broadcasting services through Private Agencies (Phase-II). Total 241 private FM Channels are operational in 83 cities of the country. A total amount of Rs.1609 crores received by way of licence fees from private FM Channels, including Rs.40.5 crores during the current year. The Government has also conveyed its views on FM Phase III policy to TRAI and sought for its recommendation.

Community Radio

The Policy on Community Radio was liberalized during the year to bring in the civil society and voluntary organizations working not for profit also under its ambit. Only educational institutions were earlier permitted to set a community radio. The policy has been liberalized by the government with a view to allow greater participation by the civil society on issues of development and social change. 

54th National Film Awards 

The 54th National Film Awards for the year 2006 were presented by the President of India in September, 2008. The Best Film Award went to the Malayalam film ‘PULIJANMAM’. The Best Actor award went to Shri Soumitra Chatterjee and the Best Actress award went to Ms.Priyamani. The Best Child Artist award went to the child artist Divya Chaphadkar. The Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2006 was given to the Film Director Shri Tapan Sinha. The Life time Achievement Award in commemoration of 60th Anniversary of India’s Independence was given to Shri Dilip Kumar, Smt. Lata Mangeshkar , Shri Tapan Sinha and Smt. B. Saroja Devi.  

39th International Film Festival of India  

The 39th edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was held at Goa from 22.11.08 to 02.12.2008. On the sidelines of IFFI, National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) organized a Film Bazaar, a market platform for the film industry.

Azadi Express 

The mobile Train Exhibition on commemoration of 150 years of 1857, 60 years of independence and birth centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, which was flagged off on 28th September, 2007 concluded its final destination in May, 2008 after covering over 70 destinations. This prestigious project was implemented by the Ministry through DAVP & Ministry of Culture. The eleven-coach exhibition depicted 150 years of our history through photographs, dioramas, cut outs, scrollers & audio-videos. 

Public Information Campaigns 

Press Information Bureau has been organizing Public Information Campaigns all over India to create greater awareness about flagship Programmes of the Government. Development schemes of the Government are highlighted during the campaigns. The publicity efforts are supplemented through other media units of I&B. Till date 234 PICs have been organized across the country. 

Print Media Policy 

During 2008, the Government also decided to allow publication of Indian editions of foreign magazines publishing news and comments on public news i.e., periodicals falling in the news and current affairs category, by Indian publishers, with or without foreign investment. Publishers of such editions may draw foreign investment up to 26 per cent. The ceiling of total Foreign Direct Investment {which includes foreign direct investments by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and portfolio investments by recognized Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), together} is up to 26%, as per the provisions of the FDI Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting from time to time.

‘Magazine’ for the purpose of these guidelines is defined as ‘a periodical publication brought out on non-daily basis containing public news or comments on public news’.

Revision of DAVP Rates for Advertisements

The Ministry enhanced the existing rates for the DAVP advertisements by 24 per cent during the year, which is applicable for the advertisements released on or after September 01, 2008. All categories of newspapers and periodicals empanelled with DAVP are covered under the revised rates.

This decision would benefit more than 4000 newspapers and periodicals. The small and medium newspapers, among others, would however be benefiting most as the percentage of advertisements to be released to these categories of newspapers was increased earlier.  

Revision of DAVP’s Advertisement Policy

The Government has earlier brought in changes in the Press Advertisement Policy to help the small and regional newspaper industry. The quantum of advertisements was increased from 10% to 15% in case of Small newspapers and from 30 to 35% in case of Medium newspapers, in money terms.  

Minimum publication period requirement was drastically reduced from 36 months to 6 months for regional languages newspapers in Bodo, Dogri, Garhwali, Khasi, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Manipuri, Mizo, Nepali, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Urdu and Tribal Languages. Similar concession was extended to all newspapers in all languages published from backward, remote hilly and border areas and in J&K, Andaman Nicobar & the 8 North Eastern states.

Newspapers which achieve a massive one lakh circulation within one year of its publication are now be considered for empanelment after one year of publication so that Government does not lose this huge readership for its messages.

Increased support to Urdu Newspapers has been ensured by earmarking 3.54 per cent of total allocation for print advertisement.

Achievements/Inititatives of Ministry of Panchayati Raj in 2008


Year End Review 2008

The Panchayati Raj Institutions in India have an electorate of around 52 crore. The number of grassroots institutions is about 2.40 lakh and the number of persons elected in the Panchayats is about 28 lakh. In terms of the empowerment of women at the grassroots, this is the greatest experiment in democracy ever undertaken anywhere in the work at any time in history. 

More than 10 lakh women have been elected to our panchayati Raj Institutions, constituting some 37 per cent of all those elected and rising to as high a level as 54% in Bihar. Reservation of seats for the persons belonging to the scheduled casts, the scheduled tribes and in some State for the other backward classes has been legally enforced in proportion to their share of the population in each panchayat area. 

The mandate of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj is enshrined in part IX of the Constitution (“The Panchayats”) read with Article 243 ZD of Part IXA relating to the District Planning Committees and the Eleventh Schedule which illustratively sets out a list of 29 matters, which might be considered by State Legislatures for devolution to the Panchayats in respect of the planning of economic development and social justice as well as the implementation of “entrusted” schemes of economic and social development in such a manner as to ensure that they function as “units of self-government.” 

Major achievements and initiatives of the Ministry in the year 2008 are as under: 

The 3-day National Convention of Chairpersons of District and Intermediate Panchayats: The Convention was held from 22nd to 24th of April 2008.It was inaugurated by Mani Shankar Aiyar Union Minister of Panchayati Raj.. 

Around 8000 delegates from 26 States & 5 UTs participated in this National Convention. This included around 1500 women. The delegates were mainly the Chairpersons of District and Intermediate Panchayats. The15th anniversary charter on Panchayati Raj was unanimously adopted by the delgates.The Charter focuses on “inclusive growth through inclusive Governance. The Charter recommends consolidating all schemes into single Panchayat Sector Window for the budgets of ‘Line Departments’ to ensure the flow of funds to each tier of Panchayats. Other recommendations relate to Functional empowerment of Panchayats, Financial empowerment of Panchayats, improving the capacities of Panchayats through devolution of functionaries, training, Panchayat level office infrastructure and provision of technical support, provision of staff for the Panchayats, provision of adequate remuneration for elected Panchayat representatives, training for Panchayat elected representatives and officials, provision of Physical infrastructure and Information Technology for Panchayats, decentralized planning and implementation, Constitution of District Planning Committees by States in conformity with the provisions of Article 243ZD of the Constitution, arranging technical support for DPCs to prepare district plans. The Charter was on the concluding day handed over the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The Prime Minister assured that the recommendations on improvement of the Panchayati Raj system will be considered. 

Rural Business Hubs: MoUs have been signed for setting up 162 RBHs in 15 States. RBH initiative is aimed at linking the rural products / producers with the national/ international markets through establishing business relationship and assured buy back arrangements. The role and responsibility of the different stake holders are clearly defined in the MoUs. Work on 30 RBHs has started so far in different parts of the country. These RBHs have facilitated the cultivation and marketing of Jatropha in Haryana, Assam, Tripura and Jharkhand with assured buy back of seeds based on a transparent pricing mechanism. Through the RBHs, market linkages have been established for passion fruit in Manipur, fruit and vegetables in Uttrakhand, pulses and chillies processing in Rajasthan and lac and tamarind in Jharkhand. RBHs have also provided marketing avenues in sericulture, dairy products, vermi compost and compressed bricks in Tamil Nadu. Besides these, hand knotted carpets in Rajasthan, bell metal and wooden handicrafts in Chhattisgarh and folk arts in West Bengal are being marketed through RBH initiatives. 

The RBH initiative is taking the benefits of economic development to the rural areas of the country through promotion of Public-Private-Panchayat Partnership. This will also help in developing a holistic and integrated partnership between decentralized rural production units and larger marketing entities. 

While the present RBH initiative is focused in 33 districts identified in consultation with the State Governments and services of Gateway Agencies have been made available to these districts for hand holding the Panchayats in getting the projects going, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, in partnership with State Governments, plans to expand coverage to each of the 6100 intermediate Panchayats of the country. 

Co-operation between India and Afghanistan in Local Governance: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Republic of India and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on Cooperation in the field of Local 

Governance was signed by the Minister of Panchayati Raj, Government of India and the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Government of Afghanistan on 17th May, 2008 at Kabul. To operationalize the MoU, a set of agreed conclusions were also signed. 

The salient features of the MoU are as under: 

(a) The parties shall set up, at the official level, an India-Afghanistan Joint Working Group on Local Governance (JWG). 

(b) The JWG will recommend a schedule of activities for bilateral exchanges between India and Afghanistan to the Joint Forum on Local Governance with the Minister of Panchayati Raj of the Government of India and the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Government of Afghanistan as its Co-Chairs. 

(c) The JWG will also recommend technical assistance programmes for strengthening local self governance in Afghanistan including capacity building of individuals, institutions and elected representatives of local administration focusing on areas relating to micro-planning, devolution of powers and funds, as well as mobilization of resources. 

Both Afghanistan and India will stand to benefit from sharing of their respective experiences in the area of Local Governance. It will also be a step in the direction of improving bilateral relations between the two SAARC countries. 

MoU signed between Ministry of Panchayati Raj and KVIC 

A memorandum of cooperation was signed between Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Khadi and Village Industry Commission (KVIC) in the presence of Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister of Panchayati Raj and Mr. Mahabir Prasad, Minister of MSME in August 2008. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj and KVIC have come together under the Rural Business Hubs (RBH) initiative to promote Khadi and Village Industries in rural areas by providing proper role to the Panchayats in this initiative. 

Objectives of this joint working include generating rural employment, higher and sustained income for rural producers by better marketing of products through convergence of Schemes and efforts of KVIC and Panchayats. 

Under this initiative, Panchayats and KVIC/KVIB will jointly identify potential projects that can be supported under KVIC schemes and also extend marketing support through the corporate members of industry working on the RBH initiative. For this purpose, District level meetings are being arranged in the selected districts in which the relevant schemes will be familiarized to the Panchayats. KVIC will also extend the services of its Rural Industries Consultancy Services (RICS) to potential beneficiaries for project formulation and linkages with banks. Such proposals will be processed through the fast track system. Wherever required, skill development/skill upgradation training will be provided to the potential beneficiaries by KVIC through accredited training agencies. Ministry of Panchayati Raj will facilitate the Panchayats to set up Common Facility Centres and other minor infrastructure by converging resources from various schemes. Panchayats will also provide backward linkages in terms of identifying genuine beneficiaries for the KVIC Schemes. 

E-governance at grass roots 

Stage is set for people in the rural areas to look forward to getting services like birth and death certificates, use of tax payments, e-mail etc. in their gram panchayat offices itself through e-governance. The Gram Panchayat President or Sarpanch will soon be able to monitor panchayat centric schemes, do financial accounting and reporting, keep records of gram sabha and panchayat meetings’ on her computer in the panchayat office through the induction of information and communication technologies (ICTs). 

The Expert Committee on Information Technology for Panchayati Raj submitted its recommendations to the Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar in January 2008. The report recommends use of information and communication technologies to be an integral part of multi-mode training and capacity building. The Committee has given extensive recommendation on hardware and system software, application software, open standards, connectivity, domain specific Data and Meta Data Standards, capacity building, adoption of national panchayati portals (NPP), and facility management. 

Introduction of ICT at Panchayat level will not only allow experimentation with the technology but will also give immense opportunity to the people to handle technology, be it relating to software, hardware, networking, power supply or any other issue due to which such technology has been traditionally denied to them. Such an initiative will create large-scale job opportunities at the grassroots level, as it has done in urban areas, in the form of operational services, maintenance and many other ancillary areas. The initiative would permeate a culture of ICT usage in rural areas to such a magnitude which probably no other initiative would match. The initiative will also throw up totally new challenges to ICT technology developers as they gear up to meet the requirements of technology diffusion in the villages. Finally, it is likely to create an improved cyber space covering the entire government spectrum of the country, where information could flow seamlessly.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 22, 2008 - Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has invested more than $40 million since 2001 in capital improvements to increase energy efficiency and lower emissions from its business operations. As a result, Lockheed Martin saves more than 125 million kilowatt hours of energy annually - enough to power 10,000 homes for a year. 

In 2007, the Corporation launched a comprehensive environmental program with the long-term goal of eliminating adverse impact on the environment as a result of its operations. This includes annual carbon, waste, and water use reduction goals and an aggressive 2012 target of an absolute 25 percent reduction in each of those areas.

“At Lockheed Martin, we recognize the value of effective environmental, safety and health programs,” said Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our Energy, Environment, Safety & Health (EESH) team supports our customers’ objectives, builds community confidence, promotes employee health and well-being, and helps us to achieve our business goals. Most significantly, delivering environmental and safety excellence is the right thing to do for this and future generations.”

The company recently won several awards for environmental stewardship at its operations in Fort Worth, Texas; Marietta, Ga.; and Palmdale, Calif. Some examples of accomplishments follow:

Fort Worth – The North Texas Clean Air Coalition awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics several clean air awards, including the TryParkingIt.com Employer Highest Participation Rate award. In addition, the company also received the Clean Air Champion and Vanpool of the Year award. Company employee Debbie Boles, a data processor, won the TryParkingIt.com Individual award for reducing her community mileage by 14,580 miles in a year.

Marietta – The Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia recognized Lockheed Martin Aeronautics with the Continual Improvement Award. The Partnership presents this award annually to an organization that makes strides toward a more sustainable Georgia.

“Lockheed Martin Aeronautics demonstrated environmental excellence by reducing hazardous waste, improving water quality, saving 27 thousand gallons of fuel, and reducing water use by 62.2 million gallons of water,” said Suzanne Burnes, assistant director of P²AD and manager of the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia. “We look to see other organizations in Georgia follow their lead.”

Palmdale – The California Environmental Protection Agency awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics the state’s Waste Reduction and Awards Program.
Last year the Palmdale facility diverted 1,094 tons of waste from landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1.8 million pounds of CO2, and earned $156,167 (a total savings of $440,607) from recycling and reuse efforts. The state awarded the Lockheed Martin Palmdale facility with the WRAP award because it has incorporated waste reduction, reuse and recycling efforts into daily business activities and is steering the community along a path towards zero-waste. 

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2007 sales of $41.9 billion.



FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 19, 2008 – Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] second F-35 Lightning II ground-test aircraft rolled out on Wednesday at the company’s Fort Worth plant, where it will be fully instrumented before being shipped to the United Kingdom for testing. 

The new F-35, called AG-1, is the full-scale static test article for the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, which will be flown by the U.S. Air Force and eight of the nine F-35 partner countries. The static test aircraft for the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant was delivered earlier this year and has successfully completed a third of its planned test program in Fort Worth.

“AG-1 will be placed in a state-of-the-art test rig where twisting, bending and pulling forces are applied to validate that the CTOL variant’s structure can sustain the tremendous forces and loads exerted during flight,” said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. “This test article enables F-35 to retire technical risk as quickly as possible so flight testing can progress toward the CTOL’s full nine-G performance envelope on schedule.”  

In late March, AG-1 will depart Fort Worth by truck and will be transferred to a cargo ship for the final voyage to the BAE Systems Structures Laboratory in Brough, England. Arrival is expected in late April. Prior to shipping, AG-1 will undergo pressure testing of the canopy and fuel tanks, and will be outfitted with final instrumentation and load-application pads and fittings. 

Upon the completion of the full-scale static testing program, AG-1 will be shipped back to the United States.

Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2007 sales of $41.9 billion.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Card For India

What, according to you,is THE major problem facing the Nation? Take a post card, fill in your response an send it across. Its that simple. Only one condition : try to be as creative as possible. We'll do the rest. Suffice to say, this is a movement in the making, a lil wave that hopes to become a deluge someday.

Post your response to :

A Card For India

Core Sector Communique

46, Sarat Bose Road,

Kolkata 700 020.


ACS Acquires Grupo Multivoice to Strengthen Global Customer Care Services

South American Acquisition Represents Expansion Into Key Market

DALLAS, TEXAS: December 23, 2008 – Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (NYSE: ACS) today announced it has acquired Grupo Multivoice, an Argentina-based customer care services provider. Financial details were not disclosed.

With its headquarters in Córdoba, Argentina and additional locations in Santiago, Chile; Bogota, Colombia; and Lima, Peru, Multivoice’s revenues for the 12 months ended November 2008 were approximately US $40 million. The company has approximately 6,000 employees.

The combined ACS Multivoice offering will provide customers throughout the Americas and Europe a suite of high quality, cost competitive, bilingual services in English and Spanish for their business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions. Multivoice’s local and international customers will now be backed by a FORTUNE 500 company offering a diversified suite of BPO solutions with demonstrated global delivery capabilities serving clients in more than 100 countries.

“The acquisition will benefit customers, employees and shareholders,” said Tom Blodgett, executive vice president and group president of ACS Business Process Solutions. “ACS will capitalize on Multivoice’s wealth of local talent and relationships to expand its global capabilities, giving customers around the world more options and services.”

Multivoice Expands Global Capabilities

ACS will continue Multivoice’s well-defined plan of: targeting regional growth within South America; expanding key client relationships; enhancing their impact as an outsourcing provider to Europe; becoming a high quality, cost competitive, bilingual outsourcing location to companies in the United States.

“This deal will enable us to enhance the diversity of our services so that our clients can benefit from ACS’ expertise, prestige and capability in BPO services,” said Guillermo Gastardelli, president of Grupo Multivoice. “There will be no policy changes in the services we provide to our customers. Our employees will also have the opportunity to expand their experience and capabilities within an industry leading Fortune 500 company.”

Multivoice was founded by Gustavo Barrionuevo, shareholder and general director, in Argentina in 1994 and during the past several years has expanded to become an industry leader in customer care throughout South America. The company’s core services include customer care, sales promotion, debt collection and back office support. 

ACS has been in the customer care industry for more than 20 years and before the acquisition had more than 20,000 agents handling in excess of one million interactions every day from more than 100 customer care centers around the world. ACS employees support customers in 20 different languages.

The company will operate under the name ACS Multivoice and continue to be managed by Multivoice’s existing executive team.

About ACS

ACS, a global FORTUNE 500 company with approximately 63,000 people supporting client operations reaching more than 100 countries, provides business process outsourcing and information technology solutions to world-class commercial and government clients. The company's Class A common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "ACS." 

PM addresses Heads of Missions

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today addressed the Conference of Indian Heads of Missions organized by the Ministry of External Affairs. 

Prime Minister emphasized that India’s foreign policy should be an extension of our enlightened national interests. The biggest challenges which the country faced were the removal of poverty, disease and ignorance. The removal of poverty and emancipation of our people should be given the pride of place in India’s foreign policy. India’s diplomatic efforts should be geared to removing obstacles which stand in the way of achieving these objectives. Particular attention needed to be paid to ensuring food security, the management of water resources, energy security and overcoming technology denial regimes. 

Prime Minister noted that globalization had come to stay, and interdependence among nations was today a fact of life. The implication of this was that the destinies of nations were increasingly interlinked. India was a country that was not well endowed with natural resources on a per capita basis, and therefore India would have to be a major trading nation of the world. Indian diplomacy should be geared to ensuring an open and transparent multilateral trading system, and to overcoming barriers to Indian trade. 

Prime Minister referred to the international security environment, and said that threats such as terrorism and piracy required a well thought out strategy. India sought peace and stability in its neighbourhood. The situation was however worrisome. Non-state actors were practicing terrorism aided and abetted by state establishments. The Mumbai terrorist attacks were an attack on India’s ambitions to emerge as an economic power. India would not accept a situation where terrorism is used as an instrument to cripple India’s economy or the values it stands for. 

In conclusion, the Prime Minister said that India was destined to become a major economic and knowledge power which was at peace with itself. India’s diplomatic efforts should be geared in this direction and reflect the aspirations of its people.

Requirement of iron-ore in the Country

The Minister of Mines, Shri Sis Ram Ola informed the Lok Sabha today that steel production in the year 2007-08 was reported at 53.90 million tonnes, with an estimated iron ore consumption of 80 million tonnes. The Working Group on Steel Industry for the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2011) has estimated that the total requirement of iron ore in the country will be 130 million tonnes by 2011-12.

Geological Survey of India (GSI) had been carrying out exploration for iron ore upto 1982-83 field season, and it again resumed its exploration for iron ore in field season of 1997-98. Currently in field season 2007-08, GSI is carrying out regional exploration for iron-ore in the states of Jharkhand (West Singhbhum district), Orissa (Kendujhar district), Karnataka (Bellary and Gadag districts), Tamil Nadu (Namakkal district) Chattisgarh (Kanker district) and Rajasthan (Jaipur, Sikar, Dhausa, Jhunjhunnu and Alwar districts). During the XIth Plan, GSI proposes to extend its exploration activities for iron-ore in the states of Andhra Pradesh (Anantapur district), Madhya Pradesh (Jabalpur, Katni, Sidhi, Gwalior and Shivpuri districts), Maharashtra (Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts) and Chattishgarh (Durg district).

Mid Year Review Presented in Parliament


The Minister of State for Finance, Shri P.K. Bansal presented the Mid Year Review of India Economy 2008-09 in Parliament, here today. This mid-year review is the second quarterly review as required under Section 7(1) of the FRBM Act, 2003. It reports the developments in the economy and presents the finances of the Central Government in the first half of the fiscal 2008-09. 

The Mid Year Review states that compared to other emerging economies, India has several strengths that can help mitigate the adverse effects of the global financial crisis and OECD recession / depression, provided appropriate policy action is initiated. To begin with, India has a relatively high share of services in GDP than many other emerging economies and developing countries. Historically, across countries, services tend to be less affected by cyclical downturns than manufacturing. This factor is likely to moderate the negative effect on overall GDP growth. Secondly, five years of nearly 4 per cent agriculture growth followed by a projected 2.5 to 3 per cent growth along with scaling up of the NREGA program means that rural income and consumption are strong and likely to remain so. Thirdly, like other high growth Asian economies India’s domestic saving rate remains high and has risen sharply with higher growth during the last five years. In fact the increase in the gross domestic saving rate over the last five years was greater than the increase in gross domestic investment rate over the same period. The saving rate of 36 per cent in 2007-08 was sufficient to maintain a growth rate of 9 per cent. Fourthly, the ambitious programme of infrastructure investment designed for the Eleventh Five Year Plan period, provides the basis for offsetting some slowdown in corporate investment in manufacturing by increased investment in infrastructure by government and by the private sector through PPP. This will require greater urgency in removing the policy and institutional hurdles to investment by private sector as well as government agencies. Fifthly, having run a tight monetary policy during H1 2008-9, there is considerable scope for monetary policy easing over the next 6 to 12 months to offset the global increase in demand for money that is being transmitted to India. A pro-active monetary policy may be necessary if the global economic depression continues to adversely affect manufacturing. Finally, the available data for H1 2008-09 suggests that the investment rates may have increased by about 1 per cent over H1 2007-08. This means that the investment rate for the fiscal 2008-09 may not be very different from that in 2007-08. 

In the face of global slowdown and a moderation in private investment demand, accelerating the pending policy reforms is the answer to flagging business sentiments and brining the economy back to the 8.5 to 9 per cent growth path. 

Fiscal 2008-09 started off on a positive note with the economy decidedly on a higher growth path with macro-economic fundamentals inspiring confidence and a general optimism about the medium to long term prospects of the economy. High oil prices and domestic inflation were areas of concern, as was the possibility of a worsening of the international financial crisis which had surfaced in 2007. As it happened, the global situation deteriorated dramatically after mid September 2008. There has been a massive choking of global credit since then and a global crash in stock markets. The slowdown that was expected in the global economy became much worse with the US, Europe and Japan moving into recession. 

A crisis of this magnitude in industrialized countries is impacting economies around the world and India has also been affected. GDP growth in real terms in the first half of the fiscal year has been 7.8 per cent, which is fairly robust. However, it is likely to be significantly slower in the second half as the impact of slower export growth and weaker domestic demand, including a possible dampening of private investment, begin to be felt. It is difficult to make a precise forecast about growth prospects for the whole year at this stage because of uncertainty, though the expectation is that it would be in the range of 7 to 8 per cent. We have to be prepared, however, for growth to be around 7 per cent in 2008-09 as a whole. 

In respect of agriculture, as per the first advance estimates of kharif production for 2008-09, production of foodgrains, oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane is estimated at 115.3 million tonnes, 17.9 million tonnes, 23.9 million bales and 294.7 million tonnes, respectively. With respect to the First Advance Estimates of 2007-08, this represents an increase of 2.8 per cent in foodgrains production, but in comparison to the Fourth Advance Estimate, it shows a decline of 4.7 per cent. This decline is across most coarse cereals and pulses. Rice output, however, is expected to record modest gains. Output of kharif oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane is also expected to decline. 

As per the index of industrial production (IIP) data for April-September 2008 released by CSO, the overall growth in April-September 2008 is estimated at 4.9 per cent year-on-year basis compared to a growth of 9.5 per cent in April-September 2007. The growth in manufacturing GDP during this period was slightly higher at 5.3 per cent. The moderate growth phase which kicked in towards the second half of 2007-08 has continued in the 2008 H1. Deceleration in growth was significant for manufacturing and electricity sectors, and somewhat moderate for the mining sector. 

There has been considerable increase in inflation in the first half of 2008 as against the corresponding period in 2007 on all the indices, WPI as well as the various consumer price indices. The headline WPI inflation rate for the 34th week ending November 22, 2008 was 8.4 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent in the corresponding week last year (week-ending November 24, 2007). Since then it has come down further to 6.8 for the week ending December 6, 2008. From the beginning of November 2008 inflation is in single digit after remaining in double-digit territory for 22 weeks since June 2008. It is expected that this decline in inflation rate will continue for the remaining period of the current fiscal year. 

Merchandise exports during the first seven months of 2008-09 (April- October) valued at US $ 108 billion was higher by 23.7 per cent (in US dollar terms) over the previous year. However, exports during October 2008 registered a negative growth rate of (-) 12.1 per cent over October 2007, mainly due to a spike in the growth rate to 48.8 per cent registered in October 2007. For the same period, total value of imports was US $ 181 billion registering a growth rate of 36.2 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year. The trade deficit, for this period is estimated at US$ 73 billion, which is 60 per cent higher than the deficit of US $ 45.6 billion during April-October, 2007. In the current financial year, as per the data on BOP released by the RBI the current account deficit was at US$10.7 billion. Foreign exchange reserves (excluding Gold, SDRs and Reserve Tranche Position in the IMF) stood at US $ 244.0 billion at the end of October, 2008. 

In the first six months of the current year (April-September 2008), gross tax revenue increased by 25.3 per cent over the corresponding period of the last year. During the same period total expenditure grew by 23.6 per cent (after netting the onetime expenditure of Rs.35,531 crore for the acquisition of RBI’s stake in SBI) and plan expenditure grew by 25 per cent. After similar adjustment for the acquisition of RBI’s stake in SBI, the non-plan expenditure grew by 23 per cent and the capital expenditure grew by 11.1 per cent over the corresponding period of the last year. The fiscal deficit during the first six months of the current year was higher as compared to the corresponding period of last year, but well within the target set in 2008-09 budget. However, revenue deficit was higher both as compared to corresponding period of last year and the target set in the 2008-09 budget. 

The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, 2003 mandates a review of trends in receipts and expenditure in relation to the Budget on a quarterly basis. The Mid Year Review outlines issues and emerging challenges that have a bearing on the prospects of the Indian economy in the short to medium term.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

IMF to Focus on Crisis Response, Policy Recommendations, and New Financial Architecture

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will focus in the period ahead on helping its members respond to the financial and economic crisis, and on reforming the global financial architecture, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said during the Executive Board's discussion of the institution's work program on November 24.

"The International Monetary and Financial Committee and the G-20 leaders have emphasized the central role of the Fund as a crisis responder and a developer of ideas," Mr. Strauss-Kahn said in reference to guidance by the IMFC, the Fund's policy-steering committee, and the recent summit of advanced and emerging market countries. "We will take this mandate forward to help restore global financial stability and stimulate sustained economic growth."

"Meeting these front-line challenges will be difficult in a tight budgetary environment and will require exceptional focus and commitment. I am confident that the Fund with its dedicated staff and cooperative membership will deliver and help steer the world through these turbulent times," Mr. Strauss-Kahn said, adding that the Fund's work priorities will center on three key areas over the next months.

Timely financial support that meet members' needs:

Emergency Financing. The Fund has been and will continue to deploy its lending resources in substantial amounts both rapidly and flexibly in support of key policy measures that most effectively address the economic crisis, while mitigating the impact on vulnerable sectors of the population.

Reforming Fund Instruments. As the crisis spread, the Fund promptly established a new Short-Term Liquidity Facility (SLF) to help countries with strong fundamentals and domestic policies cope with short-term liquidity pressures arising from external market developments. Further, the Executive Board will examine other elements of Fund lending such as the scope for innovation and streamlining of its instruments and conditionality. It will also review access limits, maturities and charges, and the adequacy of Fund resources, along with options for supplementing them.

Fully understanding the causes and effects of the crisis:

Drawing lessons and Recommending Responses. The Fund is taking the lead in providing a comprehensive analysis of the causes of the crisis and the lessons for macroeconomic policy and regulation. Informed by this analysis, the Fund is developing recommendations for policy responses across these areas, both to exit the crisis and address longer-term challenges.

Early Warning. The Fund is intensifying work on monitoring systemic and country-specific vulnerabilities. More generally, the Fund will strive to be ahead of the curve, anticipating emerging issues to bring them to the attention of policy makers.

Impact on Low-Income Countries. The Fund will monitor closely the impact of the overlapping shocks caused by the global financial crisis and strained food and fuel prices on low-income countries. It will review low-income countries' prospects for macroeconomic stability, growth, balance of payments positions, and financial sector soundness. The Fund stands ready to support low-income members with technical and financial assistance and will be examining the need for adaptations of its policy and financial engagement with these members for better tailoring to their needs.

Contributing to improving the international financial architecture:

Coordinating Efforts. With its near universal membership, core macro-financial expertise, and mandate to promote international cooperation, the Fund is prepared to participate fully in the efforts to overhaul the rules governing financial markets. The Fund has a unique responsibility to provide the machinery for consultation and collaboration, allowing the entire membership to delve into these issues and embed these efforts into a unified framework for safeguarding global macroeconomic and financial stability.

Strengthening Collaboration. The Fund will work closely with the G-20 on the action plan outlined during the G-20 summit, and contribute to the efforts of the working groups set up by the G-20 for developing proposals on a range of issues, including enhancing sound regulation and strengthening transparency; reinforcing international cooperation and promoting integrity in financial markets, and reforming the International Financial Institutions. The Fund will also further strengthen its collaboration with the expanded Financial Stability Forum along the lines agreed with its chairman. In particular, they will collaborate to conduct early warning exercises on risks to systemic stability.

Advancing Surveillance. Work will continue on advancing surveillance priorities for 2008-2011 endorsed by the IMFC in October. In particular, the Fund will analyze the implications of the deleveraging process for credit creation and linkages across countries, as well as conditions for economic recovery from financial stress. A special Review of the Stability of the Exchange Rate System will also be undertaken; and a review of the Financial Sector Assessment Program (jointly with the World Bank) will be undertaken to assess the need for adaptations of this tool, drawing on the lessons from the financial crisis and evolving ideas on the new architecture.

While the Fund's priorities are focused on the global financial crisis, work on further governance reform and modernization continues. Mr. Strauss-Kahn reminded member countries to work toward domestic legislative steps required to take forward the Fund's governance reform and implement the quota and voice reforms and the Fund's new income model. "Timely action by members will enhance further the Fund's legitimacy, credibility, and effectiveness," Mr. Strauss-Kahn said.

Monday, December 22, 2008

100% Special Interim Dividend by Sonata Software

The Board of Directors of Sonata Software Limited has declared a special interim dividend of 100% at its meeting held today. The record date for the purpose of payment will be December 29, 2008. The Board had already declared a 50% interim dividend after the first half of this financial year. This takes the total dividend to 150% for the financial year 2008-09 as compared to 110% for the previous financial year 2007-08.

The Special Interim Dividend is in commemoration of Sonata’s 10 years of listing. In the light of this special dividend, no final dividend is intended to be recommended for the financial year 2008-09. Ever since it was first listed on January 14, 1999, Sonata has a record of uninterrupted dividends for the last 10 years.

About Sonata Software 

Sonata Software, headquartered in Bangalore, India, is a leading IT consulting and services company. Sonata's customers are located across the US, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Its portfolio of services includes IT Consulting, Product Engineering Services, Travel Solutions, Application Development, Application Management, Managed Testing, Business Intelligence, Infrastructure Management and Packaged Applications. As per the industry rankings released by NASSCOM for FY07-08, Sonata Software ranked among the Top 20 IT Software and Service Exporters in India

Novera, a leading independent UK renewable energy company, is pleased to announce that it has submitted its eleventh wind site planning application in little over two years. 

The latest application for the four-turbine Bullamoor Wind Farm was made to Hambleton District Council last week. The site has an anticipated capacity of 10-12MW and is located approximately 2km east of Brompton in North Yorkshire. 

David Fitzsimmons, CEO of Novera, said: “We are delighted to have submitted this latest wind farm into the planning process, maintaining the momentum of our wind portfolio, despite challenging economic times.

“Of the eleven applications, the 30MW Lissett Airfield is under construction and two sites with a combined capacity of up to 73MW are consented. Looking forward to 2009, we expect to receive planning decisions on the remaining eight sites now in planning and to submit further applications during the course of the year.”

Novera’s wind portfolio also includes the 15MW Mynydd Clogau Wind Farm in mid-Wales which has been in production since January 2006.

Railway Revenue earnings up by 14.49 per cent during April- November 2008

The total approximate earnings of Indian Railways on originating basis during 1st April – 30th November, 2008 were Rs. 50931.98 crore compared to Rs. 44484.60 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 14.49 per cent.

The total goods earnings have gone up from Rs. 29733.82 crore during 1st April-30th November, 2007 to Rs. 34393.78 crore during 1st April-30th November 2008, registering an increase of 15.67 per cent.

The total passenger revenue earnings during first eight months of the financial year 2008-09 were Rs. 14440.93 crore compared to Rs. 12869.41 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 12.21 per cent.

The revenue earnings from other coaching amounted to Rs. 1297.71 crore during April-November 2008 compared to Rs. 1215.99 crore during the same period last year, an increase of 6.72 per cent.

The total sundry earnings have gone up from Rs.665.38 crore during April-November 2007 to Rs. 799.56 crore during April-November 2008, showing an increase of 20.17 percent.

The total approximate number of passengers booked during April-November 2008 was 4717.37 million compared to 4430.75 million during the same period last year, showing an increase of 6.47 per cent. In the suburban and non-suburban sectors, the number of passengers booked during April-November 2008 was 2510.40 million and 2206.97 million compared to 2428.48 million and 2002.27 million during the same period last year, an increase of 3.37 per cent and 10.22 per cent respectively.

Mining sector: the top 10 issues for 2009 according to Deloitte

Deloitte’s Energy & Resources Group has released a round-up of global perspectives covering the most pressing and significant issues facing mining companies in 2009.

Deloitte Head of Energy & Resources in Australia, Phil Hopwood said: “Tracking the trends 2009: the top 10 global mining issues, covers the following key issues:

- the commodity price rollercoaster

- the double squeeze of higher costs and lower prices

- the credit tightening and risks to expansion 

- the chronic talent and equipment shortages

- political and tax policy volatility

- the growing difficulty of finding quality assets

- the imperative to consolidate

- the need for sustainable development

- the tightening regulatory environment, its complexity and cost; and

- the increasing shortage of electrical power

Mr Hopwood said: “Whether volatile markets or operating cost pressures, regulatory compliance or carbon permits, the report offers insights and strategic advice intended to help executives chart their companies’ courses over the coming months. 

“There is neither a magic bullet nor a one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges mining companies face. But there is opportunity. Between managing costs, mitigating shortages, reducing risk, streamlining consolidation and improving compliance, the mining sector can continue to lay the foundation for growth despite current economic conditions.

Commenting further Dr Eric Lilford, Deloitte Corporate Finance Partner said: M&A activity will increase in 2009 as companies strive for survival or growth through targeting economies of scale, leveraging off each others’ balance sheets and opportunistic transactions. Inbound investments will also pick up as our neighbours aim to secure attractive mineral assets.”

 Deloitte Head of Mining Bhavesh Morar said: “The pendulum has definitely shifted back. With the rapid falls in commodity prices mining companies must re-evaluate the economics of their mines and mitigate through cost reduction, or face mine closure. Some mines will just not be economic given the price falls and the operating cost structures.


But the longer term outlook is strong, according to Deloitte Economics partner and resources expert, Jon Stanford: “The commodities boom had to end sometime but the market reaction to it has been overdone. While commodity prices have fallen from their historic highs, world growth will resume before too long and once again Australian resources will be in increasing demand. The Federal Government deserves credit for taking the long term view and committing to invest in some of the infrastructure projects needed to eliminate bottlenecks that have restricted export growth in the recent past.”