Saturday, November 29, 2008

Spring Testing Machines

Faster, Accurate

The latest series of touch panel controlled Spring Testing Machines are low cost alternative to Imported more expensive options. The machine is operated through 15” LCD touch panel control. Not only these machines are more rugged , easy to operate but also at the same price as a normal computer controlled machine. Main advantages are Single screen operation, easy test report printing through a laser/inkjet printer, results storage, ZERO breakdown and one day training. The machine electronics is designed around INTEL Dual Core and XILINX FPGA Processors giving precise motion control, accurate results, very slow to high speed travel and fault free operations. On site training, installation is included. The machines are available in the range or 5 Kg to 100 Tons. Customer support through dedicated team of support professionals is available round the clock. Upgradation of old machines is available for any working or non working Universal, Spring, or Endurance Testing Machines or Test rigs to complete computerized/touch controlled automated machine. Similar machines have been manufactured in India by AG Measurematics for Endurance Systems, Munjal Showa, MINDA Industries, Ordnance Factories, Godrej & Boyce , Vijay Chandra Industries etc. Other types of available machines are Endurance Testing, Torsion Testing and Universal Testing.
For more details contact.
AG Measurematics Pvt. Ltd.
Roorkee-247667, UK, INDIA

Tel: 01332-275425, 278662
Fax: 01332-271172

Friday, November 28, 2008

ThyssenKrupp in fiscal year 2007/2008

Earnings before taxes and major nonrecurring items ahead of forecast at €3.5 billion / Order intake and sales higher year-on-year / Further increases in net income (€2.28 billion) and earnings per share (€4.59) / Due to increasing uncertainty on financial and real markets, no quantifiable forecast for fiscal year 2008/2009 

ThyssenKrupp again achieved excellent results in fiscal 2007/2008. Executive Board Chairman Dr. Ekkehard Schulz: "They validate our strategy of further focusing the Group in its conglomerate structure and going for long-term sustainable and profitable growth."

The key data of fiscal 2007/2008:

Earnings before taxes were €3,128 million (fiscal year 2006/2007: €3,330 million). Earnings before taxes and major nonrecurring items came to €3.5 billion, exceeding our raised forecast of August 2008 of over €3.2 billion. 
Demand for the Group's products and services increased further. Order intake reached €55.2 billion, compared with €54.6 billion in fiscal 2006/2007. 
Sales at €53.4 billion (€51.7 billion) were higher than forecast and higher year-on-year. 
Earnings per share reached €4.59, up 7 percent from fiscal 2006/2007 (€4.30). 
The solid earnings situation allows us to continue our policy of dividend continuity. In January 2009, the Executive Board and Supervisory Board will propose to the Annual General Meeting the payment of an unchanged dividend of €1.30 per share. Compared with the first dividend in 1998/1999 of DM1.40 - or €0.72 - the payout has now almost doubled. In addition, in the past two years the Group has repurchased around 10 percent of its shares. 
Net financial debt amounted to €1.58 billion. Schulz: "With cash and cash equivalents of €2.8 billion and unused committed credit facilities of €4.6 billion, we are starting the new fiscal year on a very solid financial footing." 
ROCE stood at 18.3% in the past fiscal year, compared with 20.7% in fiscal 2006/2007. 
The Group's equity ratio was 27.6 percent at the end of the fiscal year, almost unchanged from a year earlier (2006/2007: 27.4 percent). 
ThyssenKrupp employed 199,374 people worldwide on September 30, 2008, 4% more than at the end of the previous fiscal year (191,350). 85,097 of these were employed in Germany, roughly the same as in the prior year. 
The share purchases by the management illustrate our confidence in ThyssenKrupp's value potential.
In the uncertain environment of the financial crisis, ThyssenKrupp has reviewed its plans and targets for the current fiscal year 2008/2009. The downturn in the auto, machinery and construction industries will also leave its mark on ThyssenKrupp. Schulz: "We therefore face a significant drop in sales in 2008/2009, the extent of which cannot yet be predicted. This will have a corresponding effect on earnings. The increasing uncertainty on the financial and real markets makes it impossible to provide a quantifiable forecast at this time. We will supply more concrete information on the current fiscal year in our quarterly reporting". If - as currently predicted - the global economy emerges from the downturn and gathers momentum again in 2010, ThyssenKrupp will also return to its long-term growth track.

To safeguard earnings and liquidity ThyssenKrupp has taken clear steps to reduce costs in the Group, lower net working capital and flexibilize the investment program. These measures will be supported by the continuation of our portfolio optimizations. 

Schulz: "We are firmly convinced that the growth strategy we launched in 2005 is right. The financial crisis may cause delays, but the long-term success of the Company will remain unaffected". 

In the medium to longer term, in particular after the start-up of the Steel and Stainless segments' major investments in North and South America and those of the other segments in other regions, we expect to achieve earnings before taxes and major nonrecurring items of €4 to 5 billion and sales of €60 to 65 billion.

With sales of 53.4 billion euros and 199,374 employees in over 70 countries, ThyssenKrupp is one of the world's major technology groups and occupies excellent positions on the international markets. The three main business areas of steel, capital goods and services, organized in five segments - Steel, Stainless, Technologies, Elevator and Services - mark out the Group's areas of competence. 

ASEAN Secretariat and Shaanxi Province Promote Economic and Trade Cooperation

 The Shaanxi-ASEAN Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum was held today at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta. The Forum was jointly organised by the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government and the ASEAN Secretariat. The aim is to bring together the business communities and government officials from ASEAN and China to appreciate the trade and investment prospects that the two regions have to offer. 

In a message delivered by Mr Dhannan Sunoto, Principal Director of Bureau for External Relations and Coordination, Dr Surin Pituswan, Secretary-General of ASEAN said, “Shaanxi is one of the provinces where ASEAN businesses need to look more closely at the opportunities available, even as traditional markets are affected by the global economic slowdown. The ASEAN business community should, at this time, strive even harder to look for new markets and ventures.” Dr Surin also encouraged the Shaanxi business community to fully explore opportunities in ASEAN for joint ventures, partnerships and closer business relations.”

At the Forum, both sides agreed to the final text of and initialised the Memorandum of Cooperation which will promote cooperation activities in areas of mutual interest. The Memorandum will be signed by Dr Surin and Mr Yuan Chunqing, Governor of the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government, at the earliest convenience. 

Present at the Forum were delegates from the Shaanxi Province, Ambassador and officials from the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Indonesia, representatives from the ASEAN Embassies in Indonesia and the ASEAN Secretariat, as well as the business community.

The ASEAN Secretariat had earlier signed Memorandum of Cooperation with Hubei Province and Guangdong Province. The objective is to explore cooperation possibilities with the Central and Western provinces of China which can offer opportunities to deepen and widen ASEAN-China economic relations.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kakatiya Longwall Project of Singareni Collieries Company Limited

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today gave its approval to Kakatiya Longwall Project of Singareni Collieries Company Limited for a net capital requirement of Rs.453.63 crore and a total capital outlay of Rs.620.03 crore (excluding IDC of Rs.18.90 crore). The CCEA has also gave its approval for flexibility in the implementation stage within the approved cost estimates to respond to improvements in technology and equipments which would result in improved profitability and productivity parameters. 

The 2.747 Mty of coal produced would meet the demand of pit head power station of APGENCO and other units. 

The Kakatiya Longwall Project is located in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh and is well connected by road.

Statement of Finance Ministry on Inflation


“Annual rate of inflation, year-on-year as conventionally measured, declined to 8.84 per cent for the week ending November 15, 2008 compared to a rate of 8.90 per cent reported in the previous week. Though the Wholesale price index in the current week rose marginally from 235.0 as on November 8, 2008 to 235.1 on November 15, 2008, for the third week in a row inflation continues to be in single digit with the decline moderating further to 6 basis points as compared to 8 basis point last week and 174 basis points witnessed in the week ending November 1, 2008. In the previous year, on November 17, 2007 inflation at 3.35 per cent was significantly lower. 

An analysis of the contribution of commodity groups to year-on-year inflation rate for the week ending 15 November shows that primary articles covering food, non-food and minerals (having a weight of 22.03 per cent in the WPI basket), accounted for nearly 31 per cent of inflation, the major contributor being food articles. While fuel and power (with a weight of 14.23 per cent) contributed 19 per cent to the inflation rate, the manufactured products (with a weight of 63.75) accounted for 50 per cent of the inflation. Within manufactured products, the non-food contributed more than 44 per cent to the overall inflation. 

In the ‘primary articles’ group, the annual year–on-year inflation increased further to 11.90 per cent, as compared to 11.66 per cent reported last week. Out of a total of 98 articles, 21 articles have shown a decline in prices in the current week as compared to November 8, 2008. These included among others, fish-marine, sapota, brinjal, peas (green), cashewnuts, ginger dry, raw rubber, tapioca, gram, cotton seed, tea, groundnut seed, , raw cotton, turmeric, potatoes, raw silk coconut and some spices. A total of 55 articles have shown no increase in prices. There was an increase in inflation rate for 20 items, which included tomatoes, soyabean, papaya, cabbage, some pulses and a few cereals. 

In the commodity group ‘fuel and power’, the rate of year–on- year inflation declined to 7.81 per cent in the current week compared to an inflation of 8.21 per cent reported in the previous week. Prices of all 19 commodities reported in this group remained unchanged over the previous week. 

In the case of ‘manufactured products’, the year-on-year inflation rate in the current week declined marginally to 8.01 per cent, as compared to 8.02 per cent in previous week. Out of 318 commodities, a large number, 276 in all, have shown no increase in prices over the last week. For 21 commodities, there has been a decline in prices. These commodities included among others, ferro silicon, steel ingots, PVC fittings & accessories, basic and foundary pig iron, cotton oil seeds, vitamin liquids, imported edible oil, rice bran oil, zinc, synthetic yarn, gur, groundnut cake, steel sheets, plates and strips, groundnut oil and sugar. A total 21 products, particularly acetylene, bran, cotton yarn-cones, gingelly oil witnessed an increase in prices. 

Inflation of 30 essential commodities increased by 40 basis points to 8.00 per cent as of the week ending November 15, 2008 from 7.60 per cent reported in the earlier week. There was an increase in the prices of primary essential commodities including pulses such as urad, masoor, moog, arhar and cereals like wheat, rice, bajara and atta. There was also an increase in the prices of onions. The prices of other essential commodities moderated or declined over previous week. 

The monthly deseasonalised inflation rate has been negative during September and October, suggesting a continuing moderation in WPI inflation in the coming months. For the month of October 2008, the deseasonalised inflation for primary food showed some increase, though there was significant decline in inflation rate of manufactured food. The overall monthly deseasonalised inflation in manufactured products shows a continuing decline since September 2008.”

PM's address to the Nation

“Dear Citizens, 

The dastardly terror attacks that took place in Mumbai last night and today leading to the loss of many precious lives and injuries to many others have deeply shocked the nation. I strongly condemn these acts of senseless violence against innocent people, including guests from foreign countries. I offer my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and sympathies to those injured. The Government will take all necessary measures to look after the wellbeing of the affected families, including medical treatment of injured. 

The well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks, probably with external linkages, were intended to create a sense of panic, by choosing high profile targets and indiscriminately killing foreigners. 

I salute the courage and patriotism of the police officers, including the Chief of the Anti-Terror Squad, Shri Hemant Karkare and men who have laid down their lives in fighting these terrorists. I assure the country that we will attend in an urgent and serious manner to police reform so that the law and order authorities can work unitedly, effectively and in a determined manner to tackle such threats to national integrity. 

We are not prepared to countenance a situation in which the safety and security of our citizens can be violated with impunity by terrorists. It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, based outside the country, had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the commercial capital of the country. 

We will take the strongest possible measures to ensure that there is no repetition of such terrorist acts. We are determined to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. 

Instruments like the National Security Act will be employed to deal with situations of this kind. Existing laws will be tightened to ensure that there are no loopholes available to terrorists to escape the clutches of the law. Most importantly, it is essential to immediately set up a Federal Investigation Agency to go into terrorist crimes of this kind and ensure that the guilty are brought to book. 

We will take up strongly with our neighbours that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated, and that there would be a cost if suitable measures are not taken by them. We will take a number of measures to strengthen the hands of our police and intelligence authorities. We will curb the flow of funds to suspect organizations. We will restrict the entry of suspects into the country. We will go after these individuals and organizations and make sure that every perpetrator, organizer and supporter of terror, whatever his affiliation or religion may be, pays a heavy price for these cowardly and horrific acts against our people. 

In this hour of tragedy, I appeal to the people to maintain peace and harmony so that the enemies of our country do not succeed in their nefarious designs. All concerned authorities are on alert and will deal sternly with any attempts to disturb public order. 

I am confident that the people of India will rise unitedly to face this grave challenge to the nation’s security and integrity. 

Jai Hind !”

ArcelorMittal launches voluntary separation programmes

Luxembourg, 27th November 2008 (12.45 CET) - ArcelorMittal is today meeting with its European Works Council to present voluntary separation programmes to be launched across the group. This is to help achieve the company’s stated aim of reducing SG&A (Selling, General and Administrative) expenditure by US$1 billion in response to the current economic situation.
The focus is primarily on non-production employees, in particular those in SG&A functions across the globe. These programmes may involve up to 9,000 employees, approximately 3% of the total globalwork force. The processes will be run in close collaboration with stakeholders and in accordance withthe appropriate social considerations of the respective countries involved.
Commenting, Bernard Fontana, Executive Vice President and Member of ArcelorMittal’s
Management Committee with responsibility for Human Resources stated: “This has been a very
difficult decision for the company to take as all of our employees are extremely important to us. Sadlyhowever the global economic reality means that it is only sensible to adopt such measures. Our priorityis now to meet with all our stakeholders to explain the reasons for this decision and to reassure themthat the process will be carried out in accordance with all social considerations. We are very grateful for the professionalism and dedication of our employees, all of whom have played an important role inbuilding ArcelorMittal.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Geodynamics Funded $10 million For Hunter Valley Project


Geodynamics Limited has been awarded a $10 million grant by the New South Wales Government to develop a commercial hot rocks geothermal project in the Hunter Valley region of NSW.
The NSW government will invest $27 million in seven renewable energy projects, including $10 million for Geodynamics to develop its Hunter Valley tenements.
Geodynamics Managing Director Gerry Grove-White said the funding will be staged over the life of the project with the full amount expected to be received following the commissioning of a small geothermal power plant in the Hunter Valley in 2012.
He said the awarding of the funding will allow Geodynamics to accelerate the exploration and development of its resource in the Hunter Valley.
“The first stage of this will be the drilling of a 2km exploration well in early 2009 to confirm temperature gradients,” he said.
Mr Grove-White said Geodynamics was close to achieving major milestones at its key project in the Cooper Basin region of South Australia, including the successful completion of the ‘proof of concept’ stage.
He said a 1 MW pilot plant to power the company’s joint venture operations with Origin Energy in the outback town of Innamincka is planned to be commissioned from February 1, 2009, and the town powered by geothermal energy by March 31, 2009.
Mr Grove-White said there was strong evidence that the Company’s Hunter Valley tenements at Bulga and Muswellbrook may also hold significant geothermal resources.
“Geodynamics intends to pursue this potential and the funding from the NSW Government will enable us to continue our work in the Hunter Valley,” he said.
Mr Grove-White said the knowledge and expertise Geodynamics has achieved in the Cooper Basin over the past five years will be used in the development of the Hunter Valley project.
“As the development continues in the Cooper Basin, learnings will continue to be achieved and applied to the Hunter Valley,” he said.
Hot rock geothermal energy is produced using heat extracted from buried hot granites by circulating waters through an engineered, artificial reservoir or underground heat exchanger. Geodynamics has created the largest of these reservoirs in the world at its Cooper Basin site.


Statistics of Growth 

“It ( Tourism) is the largest service industry in the country. Its importance lies in being an instrument for economic development and employment generation, particularly in the remote and backward areas”- Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-08 to 2011-12) 

Tourism is a major engine of growth for Indian economy. In the year 2007, it contributed 6.23% to the GDP, 8.78% of total employment in the Country was in the Tourism sector, generating about 53 million jobs, both direct and indirect. 

The growth of tourism in India has been significant and consistent in the last five years recording a double digit growth. During 2007, 5.08 million foreign tourists arrived in India marking a growth of 14.2% over the year 2006. This growth rate is more than the world growth figure of tourist arrivals which stood at 6.6% and that of Asia Pacific Region which was 10.4%. In terms of International tourism receipts India has performed exceptionally well by recording an earning of 10.73 billion US $ during 2007 thereby marking a growth of 24.3% as compared to the year 2006. Here again India exceeded the world growth rate which was 15.4% and also that of Asia Pacific which was 8.78%. The rank of India in international arrivals and tourism receipts rose from 51st and 37th respectively in 2003 to 42nd and 20th respectively in 2007. 

The period January to October of the current year has recorded a total of 4.32 million foreign tourist arrivals, an increase of 9.4% as compared to the corresponding period last year, whereas foreign exchange earning during the same period saw an increase of 16.9%, touching the figure of 9.70 Billion US $. 

Domestic tourism visits in India increased from 309 million in 2003 to 527 million in 2007. 

Infrastructure Development

The Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned Rs. 610.51 crore for Infrastructure development in the year 2007-08 and Rs.482.07 crore in the year 2008-09.(Upto Oct.2008) 

The Ministry has launched a scheme for development of nationally and internationally important destinations and circuits through Mega Projects. To date 22 mega projects have already been identified and of these 15 projects have been sanctioned for an amount of Rs.320.15 Crore . Of these, Amritsar, Agra, Varanasi, Gangtok, Bhubaneswar, Aurangabad and Hyderabad are also being developed as mega destinations through the joint plans of all the key Ministries of Government of India, which includes connectivity through road, rail and air and upgradation of civic infrastructure. 

Sustainable Tourism 

The true potential of tourism lies in responsible practices on both the demand and supply sides of the tourism chain, enabling an effective response to climate change. This is closely interlinked with inclusive growth through sustainable community participation. This ‘sustainable’ tourism route has been adopted by the Ministry of Tourism in the innovative Rural Tourism Project, by strengthening skilled rural artisan communities in association with United Nations Development Programme. This innovative Rural Tourism Project positions India’s rural way of life as a unique visitor experience in low-impact settings. In addition, Mega shopping festivals are also being organized in different regions of the country such as Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Aurangabad and Noida where artisans and artists from rural tourism sites would be given a platform for exhibition and sale of their handicraft products and for cultural performances. This kind of exposure to the domestic and international tourists would have far reaching benefits for the socioeconomic development of the rural artisans. 

136 Rural Tourism sites have been identified till date across the country . An amount of Rs. 50 lakh is provided to these sites as Financial Assistance for Infrastructure Development. Besides Ministry of Tourism has also provided an additional amount of Rs. 20 Lakhs to 91 identified Rural Tourism sites for capacity building of the Village community . Ministry of Tourism has partnered with UNDP for projects in 36 sites where UNDP has provided financial assistance for capacity building. 

PATA Travel Mart 2008 

India successfully hosted the PATA Travel Mart 2008 in Hyderabad from September 16 to 19, 2008. Approximately 1,089 trade delegates from 56 countries, comprising 374 global buyers from 324 organisations and 715 Asia Pacific seller delegates from 301 organisations participated in the Travel Mart. 

Hotel Infrastructure 

Due to the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism, the Finance Ministry has announced a 5 year Tax Holiday under Section 80-ID to hotels of 2, 3 and 4 star category and Convention Centres which will be coming up between 1.4.2007 to 31.3.2010 in the districts of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Gautam Budh Nagar (NOIDA) and Ghaziabad. The Ministry of Tourism also successfully persuaded the Finance Ministry to announce in the budget of 2008-09, a five year holiday from income tax to two, three or four star hotels established in specified districts which have UNESCO-declared 'World Heritage Sites'. The hotels should be constructed and start functioning during the period April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2013. 

Bed and Breakfast Scheme 

In order to supplement the availability of accommodation in the Metros and other tourist destinations, Ministry of Tourism launched the ‘Incredible India Bed & Breakfast Scheme’ which would provide clean and affordable accommodation as well as give tourists the opportunity to stay with Indian families and experience Indian customs, traditions and authentic Indian cuisine. 

Policy on Camping Sites 

The growth of newer niche tourism products viz. rural tourism, eco-tourism, adventure tourism and camp tourism etc. has seen the emergence of a new segment of tented accommodation which provides an altogether new experience. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has introduced a voluntary scheme for project approval and classification of operational Tented Accommodation in the country. 

Tourism Manpower Development 

During the last four years, 12 Institutes of Hotel Management (IHMs) were sanctioned, out of which 3 were sanctioned in the North-East. Similarly, 6 Food Craft Institutes (FCIs) have been sanctioned during this period including 1 in the North-East. Currently there are 28 IHMs & 6 FCIs in the country. These efforts of the Ministry will further boost tourism and hospitality education and will help in augmenting the availability of trained manpower for the hospitality industry. 

With an increase in international and domestic tourism, there is a growing need for English and foreign language speaking guides. To encourage and promote this segment, a new Scheme for college students under the nomenclature ‘Earn while you Learn’ has been launched by the Ministry of Tourism. Under this Scheme, college students are given 21 days training in history & culture, to groom them as tourism volunteers. The basic idea underlying the Programme is to sensitize youth to the importance of tourism. 

It has been the endeavour of the Ministry of Tourism to put in place a system of training and professional education with necessary infrastructural support, capable of generating manpower to meet the needs of the tourism and hospitality industry, both quantitatively and qualitatively. For the purpose, the Ministry has a scheme that provides for the setting up and up-gradation of the Institutes of Hotel Management and Food Craft Institutes in the country. The Indian Institute of Tourism & Travel Management (IITTM) and the National Council for Hotel Management & Catering Technology are also eligible for assistance under the Scheme. The Scheme's scope has been recently enlarged, to also cover the funding of infrastructure-creation in vocational schools, ITIs, government (including Kendriya Vidyalayas / Central School) polytechnic, universities, colleges owned by universities/governments, public sector undertakings for starting hospitality courses. The Scheme's sweep has been extended to meet, in greater measure than hitherto, the Industry’s demand of trained manpower. Presently, against the annual trained manpower demand of the industry of 0.2 Million persons, the supply is only of 12000 persons (after adjusting attrition). 


Cruise Tourism 

Cruise Tourism is a relatively new but an emerging sector with a high potential for growth. With the approval of the Cruise Tourism Policy, the huge potential of this tourism product has been opened up. Together with the Port Trust Authorities and the State Governments, the Ministry is now focusing on infrastructure development as well as motivating cruise operators to make cruises operational. 

Adventure Tourism 

Adventure tourism has immense potential for growth. For experiencing the different types of adventure tourism right from rock climbing, river rafting, para gliding, mountaineering and under water diving, the Ministry has sanctioned several projects to different States during last four years. The South Asian Winter Games being organized in Feb. 2009 in Uttarakhand marks the beginning of several such events which will bring India to the International Adventure Tourism platform. 

Wellness Tourism 

India, as the world knows, is a Wellness destination. The potential of wellness systems, developed through centuries of wisdom of this ancient civilization would be fully tapped. This is being done by positioning India as a centre of Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha, Naturopathy, etc. together with the spiritual philosophy that has been integral to the Indian way of life. The Ministry of Tourism has highlighted wellness in a big way through publicity and promotional activities. The Ministry is developing Haridwar- Rishikesh as well as Puducherry (formerly known as Pondicherry) as Wellness centres, to give visitors a complete experience which is physically healing, spiritually enriching and mentally rejuvenating. 

International Cooperation 

International Cooperation through tourism has been a hall mark of the Ministry’s efforts to reach out. At the ASEAN India Tourism Minister’s Conference earlier this year, there was a very positive response to India’s initiative for launching the India ASEAN website, as also to the initiative in organizing a Workshop for travel agents from ASEAN countries, called ‘Beyond Boundaries’. 

To strengthen Cooperation between India and China, Ministry of Tourism opened its India Tourism Office in Beijing and is organizing several promotional activities in this key market. 

Another international forum in which there is progress is the IBSA dialogue forum between India, Brazil and South Africa. An IBSA Workshop was organized in Kochi on September 21, 2008, which provided an opportunity for Tour Operators from Brazil and South Africa to interact with their Indian counterparts and deliberate on issues related to the promotion of tourism between the three countries. A total of 26 Tour Operators from Brazil and South Africa participated in this workshop. The IBSA Workshop was preceded by a Joint Working Group Meeting on Tourism, in which members agreed to finalization of the tripartite agreement for cooperation in the tourism sector. This Agreement was subsequently signed at the IBSA Summit held in New Delhi on October 15, 2008. 

The Hon’ble Minister of Tourism and Culture, chaired the 84th Session of the Executive Council of United Nations World Tourism Organization held in Madrid, Spain on 14-15 October 2008 in her capacity as the Chairperson of the Executive Council. India’s stand on climate change was reiterated in the Executive Council’s resolution which emphasized that there should not be any discrimination against developing countries and the meeting agreed to take consensus based measures to implement the resolution within the framework of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

International Recognition The success of the Incredible India Media Campaigns won India wide spread international recognition in the field of tourism. 

• Conde Nast Traveller, UK, in its Readers Travel Awards 2008 has ranked India among the top 2 most favoured countries in the world, consecutively for the 2nd year. 

• India received the award for the leading destination at the Asia World Travel Awards 2008-“ Asia and Indian Ocean” Ceremony, in Shanghai, China. 

• Bronze Lion Award was won at the. 55th International Advertising Festival held at Cannes, France for the creative on the ‘Taj Mahal’ which was used for Ministry of Tourism’s Incredible India Campaign in the international market. 

• PC World adjudged a winner of the PC World Web Award 2008 

• India received the World Travel Award 2008 for leading Responsible Tourism Destination.

Speech of Minister of Comm. & IT at Economics Editors Conference 2008

“I would like at the outset to extend a hearty welcome to all the editors who have assembled here today for this conference on the achievements of the Government during the last two years. It gives me great pleasure to be amongst you today and explain the various policies of the Government which have helped in strengthening the communication and information technology sector and place it at the vanguard of the economic development. The pro-active policies of the present Government have resulted in an unprecedented development in all the three sectors of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology namely Telecom, Posts and Information Technology. We have been able to raise the standards of these sectors so that they deliver world class services to the citizens of this country at competitive rates and are also responsive to the needs of the people. 

In the telecommunication sector we have been able to provide state of the art world class infrastructure at globally competitive tariffs and reduce the digital divide by extending connectivity to the unconnected areas. We are adding over 8 million subscribers per month and in the last month we have added more than 10 million subscribers. Handsets are being sold at a price which are within the reach of common man and has made this country one of the most sought after telecom manufacturing destination. Some broad indices of the telecom development during the last two years are witness to what I have said above. The total number of connections have gone up from 142 million in March, 2006 to 353 million in September 2008. What is more important is that rural telephones have gone up from 18.5 millions in March, 2006 to 105 million in September, 2008. The massive thrust in rural telephony is finally bearing fruit as more and more rural areas get connected to the telecom growth story. The Government is also actively encouraging rural telephony by releasing funds form the Universal Service Obligation Fund. Upto 31.03.2008 approximately Rs. 6,400 crores have been released for rural telephony and during the last one and half years Rs. 1646 crores have been released from USOF. The focused programme to provide VPTs in 66,822 uncovered villages have also been undertaken and till 31st October 2008 nearly 55,420 villages have been provided with telephones. The overall tele density has gone up from 7 per cent in March, 2004 to 30.64 per cent in September, 2008. While rural tele density has gone up from 5.9 per cent in March, 2007 to 12.89 per cent in September, 2008. Thus, the target set by National Telecom Policy 1999 for teledensity at 15 per cent by 2010 and 4 per cent in rural density by 2010 have already been achieved. 

I will now turn on, to some of the major achievements in the Telecom Sector in the last 18 months. 

1. You are aware that USO Fund has been set up with the objective of subsidizing telecom infrastructure in rural and remote areas. So far the USO mandate was restricted to supporting wirelines and by providing Village Public Telephones (VPTs) and Rural Direct Exchange Lines. In the recent past USOF has floated schemes to provide support for about 19,000 shared towers by providing mobile telephone services in rural areas. These towers are spread out over more than 500 districts in the country and each will be shared by at least 3 service providers to give choice to consumers. I have also enlarged the mandate of USO Fund for providing support for broadband services. This will enable good quality broad band services even in rural areas and help our rural brethren access e-governance and other facilities being provided under various programmers of the Government. The USO Fund rules have been amended to enable it to compensate BSNL to the tune of Rs. 2000 crores per year for 3 years in lieu of Access Deficit Charges. This will help BSNL sustain their rural wirelines which because of fixed tariffs mandated by TRAI are not economically viable. 

2. With a view to enhance availability of wireless services in rural areas I have taken a decision to exempt rural wirelines from license fees from 1st October 2008. This will give a boost to rural telephony and will also encourage extension of broadband services in rural areas. 

3. In order to reduce input cost of Telecom Access Providers and thereby facilitating reduction in tariff and enhanced teledensity particularly in rural areas new guidelines on sharing of infrastructure have been announced. These guidelines provide for sharing of active infrastructure amongst service providers based on mutual agreement entered amongst them. Financial incentives have also been given for sharing of infrastructure in rural areas to all eligible service providers. 

4. New Guidelines for intra service area merger of Cellular Mobile Access Services and Unified Access Services have also been announced. Under these guidelines the prior approval of the Department of Telecommunications would be required for merger of licenses and any permission for merger shall be accorded only after completion of three years from effective date of the licenses. The market share of the merged entity in the relevant market shall not be greater than 40 per cent either in terms of subscriber based separately for wireless as well as wireline subscriber base or in terms adjusted gross revenue. The post merger licensee entity shall be entitled to the total amount of the spectrum held by the merged entities and will have to fulfill all the conditions applicable for holding such spectrum within 3 months of the merger. In case of failure to meet the spectrum allocation criterion within 3 months the excess spectrum would have to be surrendered. 

5. The Government has in a pioneering decision, decided to auction 3G and BWA spectrum in January, 2009. Broad guidelines have been issued and independent auctioneer M/s N.M. Rothschild has been selected. Spectrum will be allotted through simultaneous ascending e-auction. The Reserve Price for one block of Pan India spectrum is Rs. 2020 crores. On an average 5 blocks will be auctioned. The Reserve Price for auction of 5 blocks will be Rs. 10100 crores. Government expects to realize significantly higher amounts. BWA spectrum is to be auctioned in a similar fashion. Four blocks will be auctioned, each having a Pan India Reserve Price of Rs. 1010 crores. The auction of BWA spectrum will bring Wi-Max services to rural areas and will help in broadband roll out. I have allotted 3G and Wi-Max Spectrum to both BSNL and MTNL in the month of September 2008 with a view to ensure early roll out of 3G and Wi-Max services in the country. MTNL will be launching services in December 2008 in Delhi and BSNL in January 2009 in Chennai. They will pay the same price for the spectrum as discovered through the auction. 

6. Another major decision which I have taken recently is the introduction of Mobile Number Portability. This policy decision will enable customers to change their service provider without changing their mobile numbers and thereby provide increased choice to the consumers. It will encourage service providers to give better quality services at competitive rates so as to retain their customers. Mobile Number Portability will be available by June 2009 in four metros and thereafter will be extended in phases to the rest of the country. 

7. The Department of Telecom is also actively considering increasing revenue from various sources. The license fee and spectrum charges of more than Rs. 55,000 crores have been collected since 2003 when the UASL regime came into effect. Every year telecom revenues are growing by about 15%. In addition, the Telecom Commission has taken a decision for increasing annual spectrum charges for 2G Spectrum. This decision, when implemented, will realize additional revenue of about Rs. 1200 crores per year. 

8. As per the New Telecom Policy 1999 Government decided to foster more competition in the telecom sector so as to reduce tariffs for consumers and increase teledensity. TRAI has also recommended issue of new licenses. Consequent to this recommendation, Government has issued new licenses and when these operators roll out their network within three years, rural teledensity as well as revenue receipts of the Government will increase sharply. 

9. Due to various measures taken by the Government the Telecom sector in India has become more vibrant and the Foreign Direct Investment inflow has gone up form US$ 478 million in 2006-07 to US$ 1261 million in 2007-08. This two and half times increase is unprecedented. 

10. All the above policy initiatives would go a long way in helping the consumer to utilize the telecom services to the full. 

10. With regard to the Postal Department, I have launched a freighter aircraft connecting Kolkata-Guwahati-Imphal-Agartala-Kolkata in August, 2007 which has expedited the delivery of mails and parcels in and from the North Eastern States of India. I propose to acquire three more freighter aircraft to provide connectivity throughout the country under the 11th Plan. 

11. Through my initiatives the India Post Network has been collaborating with 11 State Governments for rolling out social welfare schemes under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme through Post Office Savings Bank Schemes. 

12. I have opened the booking of Railway tickets through Post Offices through joint cooperation with Railways for the people who reside in far off places away from the railway stations. Money Orders are being sent through electronic transmission, which enables the remittances to reach distant locations very fast. 

13. Sale of Gold Coins from Post Offices was launched this year on 15th October in association with Reliance Money and World Gold Council. Gold in small quantities like 0.5 gms, 1 gms, 4 gms, 8 gms are available for sale at 108 Post Offices. This has been a hit with the small investors and very soon it will be extended to other post offices. 

14. Finally we have launched our ambitious Project Arrow as all of you might be aware. In the first phase the Project was introduced in 50 Post Offices and in the next phase it is being introduced in 450 Post Offices. 4500 Post Offices will be taken up shortly. We have upgraded infrastructure and business processes of Post Offices as part of the project. We have also, with this reason in mind, redesigned the logo of the India Post to make it more flexible and dynamic. 

15. In the midst of turbulence in global markets, the IT sector in India continues to maintain a healthy growth rate both in the IT software and IT enabled services as well as in the IT and Electronics hardware sectors. A number of pro-active steps were taken by the Government to sustain and facilitate growth of the sector. These include extension of the benefits of income-tax exemption under Section 10 A and 10 B to the industry and introduction of a new IT Investment Regions Scheme to develop infrastructure facilities in tier II and tier III cities. Three States have already shown strong interest and have begun taking steps to set up such IT Investment Regions. 

16. Last year we had also announced the Special Incentive Package Scheme (SIPS) to encourage investment for setting up of Semiconductor Fabrication and other micro and nano technology manufacture industries in India. The scheme has received very positive response from prospective investors. Seventeen proposals involving an investment of the order of Rs.1, 55,000 crores (over a period of 10 years) covering setting up of Semiconductor fab., LCD and solar photovoltaic industries have been received under the Scheme. As a result of the various measures taken by Government as well as stepped up investment by Government in e-Governance, the IT and electronics hardware and the software and services sectors are expected to continue to grow at a rate of over 20% per annum. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Electronics Hardware sector has shown phenomenal growth. I would like to mention that FDI during the last one year (May 2007 to July 2008) was 183 million US $ as against the cumulative FDI of US $ 160 million during the three year period from May 2004 to April 2007.In case of Software sector FDI during May 2007 to July 2008 has been 2400 million US $. During the period May 2004 to April 2007 the FDI in this sector had been 4568 million US $. With this robust growth in the IT Sector, the IT industry is expected to continue to employ professionals at a similar incremental rate. 

17. A key step being taken to facilitate the growth and penetration of IT services and to curb misuse and Cyber Crime is the Amendment of the IT Act of 2000 taking into account further developments and emerging needs. The Cabinet has very recently approved the proposed amendments and we will be introducing them in Parliament shortly. 

18. Under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), the establishment of Common Service Centres (CSCs) is proceeding briskly and out of the 1,00,000 CSCs envisaged by the Government, 20,000 have already been established and we expect most of the remaining CSCs to come up by the middle of next year. Investment by the private sector in this scheme is 2-3 times the Rs.5742 crores originally estimated. Six States have already implemented State Wide Area Networks (SWAN) and most of the remaining States are at an advanced stage of implementation. Similarly, the State Data Centres (SDCs) being set up to host government information and services in States are expected to be operational by next year. We have also initiated a fast-track action plan for making available a minimum level of Government services to the common man in rural and urban areas through CSCs within the next 6-9 months. A number of major e-Governance projects have been awarded to implementing agencies by the Departments and Ministries concerned such as the Passports project of MEA. Many of these projects have been facilitated and supported by the Department of Information Technology. Cumulatively, these measures are not only improving governance but are also contributing to the continued high demand growth in the domestic sector. 

19. In the last few minutes I have tried to explain some of the important achievements and policy initiatives of the government which has taken this sector to great heights. I would like once again to thank all the editors who have assembled here for this conference and I hope to have a fruitful discussion on this sector.”

BHP Billiton Approves Major Capacity Expansion At Western Australia Iron Ore

BHP Billiton today announced approval of the Rapid Growth Project 5 (RGP5) with a total capital investment of US$4.8 billion (BHP Billiton share). This includes previously approved capital of US$930 million.

RGP5 will increase installed capacity across our Western Australia Iron Ore operations by 50 million tonnes to 205 million tonnes per annum* (100 per cent basis). RGP5 is expected to deliver first production in the second half of the 2011 calendar year.

The majority of production growth will come from the Yandi and Mining Area C operations. RGP5 will also deliver significant infrastructure upgrades including additional shipping berths at the Port Hedland inner harbour (Finucane Island), substantial double tracking of the company’s rail system and additional crushing, screening and stockpiling facilities at Yandi.

BHP Billiton Chief Executive of Ferrous and Coal, Marcus Randolph, said that “while there is substantial uncertainty in the short term outlook, this investment decision highlights BHP Billiton’s confidence that the long term outlook remains positive. The expansion also underscores our belief that high-quality West Australian iron ore with close proximity to China and the Asian markets, is an important source of supply. With our strong balance sheet, we are well positioned to invest in hiqh-quality and low-risk projects such as RGP5”.

BHP Billiton’s partners in the Western Australia Iron Ore operations are Itochu Minerals & Energy of Australia Pty Ltd, Mitsui-Itochu Iron Pty Ltd and Mitsui Iron Ore Corporation Pty Ltd.

*BHP Billiton attributable share is approximately 85%.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BHP Billiton abandons Rio Tinto takeover plans

BHP Billiton has scrapped its plans to take over rival Rio Tinto, saying the fall in commodity prices and current financial environment no longer make the $66bn deal worthwhile.

In a statement to the Australian stock exchange today, BHPB said it understood the European Commission would require it to sell off iron ore and metallurgical assets before allowing the merger with Rio.

However, BHPB said given the current economic situation and “uncertainty regarding our ability to achieve fair divestment values in the required time frames”, any such sales of its assets would add to the cost and risk of buying Rio.

“Against this backdrop BHP Billiton will not offer any remedies to the European Commission antitrust authorities, and BHP Billiton expects that without remedies European Commission clearance will be withheld,” chief executive Marius Kloppers said in the statement. The EU was due to rule on the proposed merger in January 2009.

BHPB reiterated its belief that the merged company’s assets and infrastructure remained a “compelling proposition” but that the decision not to proceed was “first and foremost” about the interests of its shareholders. BHPB has spent $450m on fees on the transaction over the past 18 months, according to industry sources.

A senior China Iron & Steel Association (CISA) iron ore official alerted of the news by SBB described it as “good news for China’s steel industry.” "We have been against this merger all along," the official says.

Pakistan Gets $7.6 Billion Loan from IMF

Measures to stabilize economy while protecting the poor .Pakistan seeking additional donor support to improve safety net.Tightening of monetary conditions will help combat inflation

The IMF's Executive Board has approved a $7.6 billion loan for Pakistan to support its program to stabilize and rebuild the economy while expanding its social safety net to protect the poor.

The 23-month Stand-By loan will enable the government to implement a stabilization program that envisages a significant tightening of fiscal and monetary policies to bring down inflation and reduce the external current account deficit to more sustainable levels. The program seeks to address current macroeconomic imbalances while protecting the poor and preserving social stability in the South Asian country of 170 million people.

"By providing large financial support to Pakistan, the IMF is sending a strong signal to the donor community about the country's improved macroeconomic prospects," said IMF Deputy Managing Director Takatoshi Kato.

Pakistan's economic program

"The Government's program has two objectives: first, to restore overall economic stability and confidence through a tightening of macroeconomic policies, and second, to do so in a manner that ensures social stability and adequate support for the poor during the adjustment process," said Juan Carlos Di Tata, the IMF mission chief to Pakistan.

The Pakistan authorities have already taken some difficult steps to achieve these objectives: energy subsidies have been cut and the interest rate has been increased to tighten monetary policy. The authorities' program for the coming 24 months envisages a number of additional steps:

• The fiscal deficit, excluding grants, will be brought to down from 7.4 percent of GDP in 2007/08 (starting July 1) to a more manageable 4.2 percent in 2008/09 and 3.3 percent in 2009/10—in line with what it was three years ago. This fiscal adjustment will be primarily achieved by phasing out energy subsidies and strengthening revenue mobilization through tax policy and administration measures. The reduction in expenditures will create room to increase spending on the social safety net.

• The State Bank Of Pakistan (SBP) will act on monetary policy to build its international reserves, bring down inflation to 6 percent in 2010, and eliminate central bank financing of the government. The program includes measures to improve monetary management and enhance the SBP's bank resolution capacity, and avoid the use of public resources to support the stock market.

• Expenditure on the social safety net will be increased to protect the poor through both cash transfers and targeted electricity subsidies. The fiscal program for 2008/09 envisages an increase in spending on the social safety net of 0.6 percentage points of GDP to 0.9 percent of GDP. Pakistan will also work with the World Bank to prepare a more comprehensive and better targeted social safety net program.

Contribution of the IMF

The financing from the IMF will help to ease the path of adjustment and will provide a strong signal of support to the international community. Of the $7.6 billion loan, $3.1 billion will be made available by the IMF immediately to strengthen the reserve position. And the regular monitoring of the economy by the IMF will show how the macroeconomic objectives set by the Government are being met and whether they need to be adjusted in the light of changing circumstances. 

"It is important to point out that the program—and its conditionality—is based on the targets and measures that the authorities have themselves set for the next two years. The IMF is convinced that the best implemented programs are the ones that are home grown and fully owned by the country," Di Tata said. 

Alongside the IMF's financial support, there is an urgent need to mobilize additional donor support to strengthen Pakistan's resilience to potential shocks, help finance the expanded social safety net, and allow for higher spending on development programs. "The Fund stands ready to participate in any donor meeting to provide the economic and financial analysis that could underpin expanded support."

Implementation key to success

Success of the program could be affected by a number of risks. They arise from security and implementation uncertainties, a more severe-than-anticipated slowdown in economic activity in trading partners, and lower-than-expected private capital inflows. 

"Sustained and forceful implementation will be key to the success of the program," Di Tata stated.

Previous gains

From the early 2000s to mid-2007, Pakistan's macroeconomic performance was robust. During the period 2000/01-2004/05, when Pakistan successfully implemented two IMF-supported programs, real GDP growth averaged 5 percent a year with relative price stability. The improved macroeconomic performance enabled the country to reenter international capital markets in the mid-2000s. 

The macroeconomic situation, however, deteriorated significantly in 2007/08 and the first four months of 2008/09 on account of domestic and external factors. Adverse security developments, large exogenous price shocks (oil and food), and the recent global financial turmoil buffeted the economy. 

Quick IMF response

The IMF has moved quickly to help emerging market and developing countries affected by fallout from the financial crisis originating in advanced economies.

The IMF has more than $200 billion in lendable resources and says it is ready to process loan proposals quickly through its Emergency Financing Mechanism. Japan has offered to provide additional resources to the IMF if needed.


Perilya (ASX:PEM), the New South Wales zinc and lead miner, today confirmed the appointment of Paul Arndt as Managing Director after overwhelming shareholder approval at the Company’s Annual General Meeting.

Patrick O’ Connor, who will remain as Non-Executive Chairman, confirmed the Board’s confidence in Mr Arndt’s proven abilities, and his suitability for the role.

“The Board is extremely pleased with the appointment of Mr Arndt. With immediate effect, a number of executive responsibilities will pass to Mr Arndt in his capacity as Managing Director. In the short term however, I intend to remain very much hands-on during the bid period, in particular to ensure the current external interest in Perilya is concluded with the best possible outcome for Perilya’s shareholders,” Mr O’ Connor said.

In his Chairman’s address, Patrick O’ Connor attributed the successful repositioning of Perilya against a challenging market environment, largely to the leadership of Mr Arndt.

“Since February 2008, we have achieved productivity improvements of more than 80% at the Broken Hill Operations, and are on track to reduce the net cash cost per pound of zinc produced to US$0.65 to US$0.60 by January 2009,” Mr O’ Connor said.

“Importantly, the recent reductions in operating costs and step improvements in productivity are sustainable, and will reposition the Company significantly lower on the industry cost curve.

“We have also just extended the life of mine at Broken Hill from three years to nine years at conservative metal price assumptions. The extended life of mine is a result of the increased Reserves and Resources that have been achieved with the cost reductions and productivity improvements in the past year.

Mr O’ Connor commended Mr Arndt and the team at Broken Hill for securing the lower cost profile of the operations at a time when several other lead and zinc operations in Australia and worldwide have been forced to close their doors.

Mr Arndt said he is committed to utilising Perilya’s established infrastructure at Broken Hill, including its fully-owned 2.8Mtpa processing plant, to drive shareholder value.

“I am confident that having taken all the tough, yet necessary, decisions in the past several months, the costs of which have largely been paid for in the past quarter, we are starting off the new year in the enviable possible position of having a clean balance sheet, no corporate debt, cash in the bank, and a lean, sustainable operation.

“We are well positioned to weather a sustained period of low metal prices; and to rapidly ramp up production in response to rising metal prices when economics allow,” Mr Arndt said.


Metso Australia (OMX), the global engineering and technology corporation said today it has successfully integrated its newly-acquired conveyor belt fabrication and service facility in Jandakot into the group’s Mining and Construction Division.
Metso purchased the Jandakot operation in October this year from G & F Beltline Services Pty Ltd (Beltline), a private family trust providing conveyor belt installations and maintenance services to the Australian resources sector.
Metso’s Administrative Managing Director - Asia Pacific Region, Helen Herbage, said the Company’s US$9 million investment in the Jandakot facility is an expression of confidence in the future of Western Australia’s resources sector.
“Metso’s local investment at a time when capital expansions around the country are being shelved, is a clear indication that we are here for the long haul.
“Metso is a household name in the Australian resources and bulk commodities sectors. We have been, and continue to be a significant provider of equipment, services and process solutions to a range of industries.
“Particularly now in the context of the global financial crisis, we have an important role to play to provide appropriate solutions to customers who are competing for scarce finance capital.  
“In recent months we have seen a shift in inquiries from new capital installations, to increasing interest on Metso’s repair and refurbishment services. This is where we can add the most value to customers in the current market context,” Ms Herbage said.  
“We look forward to continuing servicing the belt lines for Beltline customers and to expanding the installed base further. We will use the acquired service network and resources to further reinforce Metso’s overall service offering to the mining industry in Western Australia,” said Ms Herbage.The acquisition provides Metso with a belt fabrication shop in Jandakot and four service workshops close to Western Australia's mining activity. With an experienced workforce of 90 staff, the shop fabricates conveyor belts and auxiliary equipment and is able to handle belt reels and jobs of any size and complexity. 

Sonata wins its first customer for Microsoft SharePoint Online

Bangalore, November 24, 2008
Sonata Software today announced that it has developed applications on the Microsoft SharePoint Online offering and has already acquired a customer. The customer, a global leader in marketing and design staffing services, will use the application for collaboration. This announcement follows the launch of Microsoft Exchange Online and SharePoint Online for businesses of all sizes in the US market. These tools will enable organizations to adopt applications on hosted environments, resulting in savings on license and infrastructure costs, thereby reducing their total cost of ownership. 
A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Sonata has been building competencies on SharePoint Online since its beta stage. Sonata’s services, targeted towards companies looking to embrace the new platform, include consulting services, application development services and application integration services of SharePoint Online hosted applications with on-premise applications. Sonata is currently building technology infrastructure frameworks for their customers in the areas of food chain franchise collaboration, knowledge management and project collaboration. These frameworks reduce application development cost by up to 40%. 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. PVSN Raju, Head of Enterprise Solutions and Microsoft COE at Sonata Software said, “We are excited to be a part of this new wave. Not only can our customers accrue savings in their IT expenditure, they also get to stay ahead of competition by hosting applications that are at the cutting edge of technology.” 

“In today's competitive global market, businesses need technology that cost-effectively enables flexibility and adds value to their organization” said Robert Deshaies, Vice President, US Partner Group at Microsoft Corp. “By virtue of their deep capabilities on SharePoint Online, partners like Sonata are empowered to translate these advantages to direct business benefits for the customer.”
About Sonata Software Limited
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, 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.

Excerpts of Finance Minister's speech at the Economic Editor's Conference

Growth performance and outlook for 2008-09

I now turn to the events that have so far marked 2008-09 and the prospects for the remainder of the year. 

The financial crisis that has enveloped the world since 2007 has become worse. Many developed countries are, officially, in recession. Among them are Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Many more, including the United States and France, are expected to slip into a recession shortly. A recession is defined as two successive quarters of contraction of the GDP. I wish to emphasize that India is nowhere near a recession. The growth estimate for the first quarter of 2008-09 is 7.9 per cent and the second quarter will, undoubtedly, show high positive growth. Therefore, we must banish the thought of recession. I also urge the media not to use the word “recession” while describing the Indian economy. 
Nevertheless, we face a difficult situation. From time to time, both the Prime Minister and I have taken the country into confidence on the state of the economy. After the Cabinet reviewed the situation on October 8, 2008, Government made a statement in which we noted that: 

“liquidity conditions in India too have tightened in the last few weeks. Our authorities have responded to the situation. The Reserve Bank of India has taken steps to infuse more liquidity into the market.”
 Again, on October 20, 2008, the Prime Minister made a statement in Parliament in which he said: 

“India, like other developing countries, is experiencing the ripple effects of the financial crisis. However, we have taken a number of steps to minimize the impact.

“The Government is conscious of the fact that it is not enough to infuse liquidity. The liquidity must translate into expanded flow of credit to industry, trade and business. 

“Nevertheless, we must be prepared for a temporary slowdown in the Indian economy……… Our effort will be to minimize the negative effect of the financial crisis and, once the global situation stabilizes, to return to the growth trajectory of 9 per cent. I would urge Honourable Members and the people of India to continue to repose faith in the fundamentals of the Indian economy. 

“India has faced challenges in the past and has overcome them. We have the strength to overcome the current challenges too.“ 
The World Economic Outlook (WEO) of the IMF (October 2008) places the global output growth at 3.9 per cent in 2008 and 3.0 per cent in 2009. In India, we have already seen the impact of the crisis on the equity and foreign exchange markets. The money, debt and the credit markets have also been affected, albeit indirectly. However, the macroeconomic impact of the global financial turmoil has been muted due to the overall strength of domestic demand and the predominantly domestic nature of financing of investment. 
There is a silver lining in this crisis. While insulating ourselves, to the extent feasible, from the adverse changes in the global economic environment over the next few years, we have to seize the opportunity to review and revisit pending reforms. As and when required, we must introduce measures, particularly in the financial sector, to make our economy more competitive and the economic regulatory and oversight system more efficient, quick and responsive to global developments.

Challenges facing the economy

Let me now share our assessment of the economic developments in the current year.
After three years of plus 9 per cent growth in GDP, the current year has seen some moderation essentially due to external factors. Growth in the first quarter of 2008-09 has been estimated at 7.9 per cent.
There are two inter-related macroeconomic challenges that we face in maintaining high GDP growth on a sustained basis. These relate to capital inflows and inflation. High GDP growth attracts foreign capital looking for profitable investment opportunities. In a positive cycle this inflow will indeed find profitable investment opportunities that others have missed and lead to even higher growth. In recent years, especially in 2006-07 and in 2007-08, the capital inflows had spurted to an average of around 7 per cent of GDP, far in excess of the current account financing requirements, leading to large accumulation of reserves and a buildup of pressure on prices. 
In order to curb inflationary expectations, the RBI raised interest rates which had, to some extent, implications for the growth rate from the demand side as well as the supply side. While inflation has moderated, there is still some distance to go before we can say that the inflation rate has reached a tolerable level. Taking note of the downturn in the inflation rate, RBI has lowered the policy rate as well as the reserve requirements. RBI’s policy is now biased towards stimulating growth. 
We must remember that the current growth phase is primarily investment driven. There has been a significant increase in the growth rate of investment. Private consumption, for the first time, ranks below investment as a driver of growth. 
In terms of sectoral growth drivers, manufacturing, communications, trade, agriculture and construction have been the major contributors to the spurt in the growth rate. In the current year, there is likely to be moderation of growth in these sectors. The Index of Industrial Production data for April-September 2008 shows an overall growth of 4.9 per cent year-on-year basis compared to a growth of 9.5 per cent in April-September 2007. Deceleration in growth was significant in the manufacturing and electricity sectors, and somewhat moderate in the mining sector. 
There is still a lot to be done in the infrastructure sectors – both economic and social. More investment and quicker implementation of projects and programmes are required in roads, ports and airports, power, education, health and skill development. Increasing expenditure in the infrastructure sector is an important part of the countercyclical measures that are being contemplated to address the impact of the global slowdown. 
On the whole, the general outlook continues to be one of cautious optimism. In its review of macroeconomic policy for the first quarter of 2008-09, RBI indicated that the median forecast of professional agencies for GDP growth during 2008-09 was 7.9 per cent. In its mid-term review, barring domestic or external shocks, RBI has estimated GDP growth during 2008-09 to be between 7.5 and 8.0 per cent. In our view, we may expect a moderation in growth rate in the current year to a level between 7 and 8 per cent. India would still be the second fastest growing large economy in the world. 

Prices and inflation management

The weeks ending November 1, 2008 and November 8, 2008 have recorded a significant decline in inflation measured by the WPI. As on November 8, 2008, headline inflation was 8.90 per cent. The monthly de-seasonalized inflation rate has been negative during September and October, suggesting a continuing moderation in WPI inflation in the coming months. These figures indicate that the measures initiated to tackle inflation are bearing fruit.
On the fiscal side, Government has given up revenues to the extent of Rs.31,000 crore post Budget. This has to be viewed in the context of increased expenditure. While the total expenditure was placed at Rs.750,884 crore in the Budget documents, an additional expenditure of Rs.105,613 crore was approved in the First Supplementary Demands for Grants. 
 In addition to the fiscal measures, monetary instruments were used by the RBI for demand management. These included a gradual increase in the Repo rate to reach 9.0 per cent on August 30, 2008 and an increase in CRR, in steps, by 400 basis points to reach 9.0 per cent effective August 30, 2008. Since then, the direction of policy has changed. The Repo has been brought down to 7.5 per cent effective November 3, 2008 and the CRR has been reduced to 5.5 per cent effective November 8, 2008. 

If the rate of inflation continues to decline, the policy rates may also moderate and the bias in favour of growth may deepen. 

External Sector

India’s external sector continued to be robust and reflected the strengths of the economy in 2007-08. In the current fiscal, merchandise trade data is available for April-September 2008. Exports and imports have registered an impressive growth of 30.9 per cent and 38.6 per cent, respectively. Oil imports, however, grew faster (59.2 per cent) than non-oil imports (29.3 percent). There has, however, been a deceleration in the growth rate of exports in September 2008. India is diversifying its exports to various other countries. For example, during the first quarter of this financial year there has been an increase in the share of India’s exports to China, Singapore, Netherlands and Saudi Arabia. China remained the major source of imports followed by UAE, Saudi Arabia and USA in the first quarter of this year.

Preliminary BOP estimates released by the RBI for the first quarter of the current year (April – June 2008) point to a moderation in capital inflows and a widening of the trade and current account deficits on a quarter-on-quarter basis. The current account deficit was placed at US$ 10.7 billion primarily due to strong growth of imports (33.3 per cent) vis-à-vis exports (22.2 per cent). Net invisibles at US$ 20.9 billion could only partly offset the trade deficit of US$ 31.6 billion. Foreign direct investment (net) inflows remained buoyant at US $ 10.1 billion, while portfolio (net) flows were negative at US $ -4.2 billion in the first quarter of 2008-09.

India has evolved a liberal and transparent policy on foreign direct investment (FDI). Except for a small negative list, FDI is allowed mostly on the automatic route. A liberal investment regime is complemented by a tax regime that is moderate and stable. FDI equity inflows during April-September 2008 were US $ 17.21 billion, representing a growth of 137% over the previous year (US $ 7.25 billion). The sectors attracting the highest FDI equity inflows have been the services sector, construction activities including roads and highways, housing and real estate, and computer hardware and software. 

Fiscal Consolidation

Fiscal consolidation remains a priority of this Government. Although the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 was passed in Parliament during the tenure of the NDA Government, it was only after the UPA Government took over that it was notified on July 2, 2004. Fiscal consolidation has been on course until the end of March, 2008. While buoyant tax revenues have helped, we have also maintained a strict watch over expenditure. However, there has been a deliberate and conscious shift in expenditure in favour of health, education and the social sector. This expenditure is classified as revenue expenditure. Besides, we have also provided for more expenditure in the current year as a counter cyclical measure. As a consequence, we may need one more year to achieve the FRBM target of eliminating the revenue deficit and containing the fiscal deficit to below 3 per cent of GDP. 

Social Sector Development and Inclusive Growth

Faster economic growth has also begun to get translated into more inclusive growth, both in terms of employment generation and poverty reduction. The 61st Round of the NSSO Survey estimated that 47 million additional work opportunities were created during 1999-2000 to 2004-05, at an annual average of 9.4 million as against an annual average of 4 million job opportunities during 1993-94 to 1999-2000. The proportion of persons below the poverty line declined from around 36 per cent of the population in 1993-94 to 28 per cent in 2004-05 as per the uniform recall period. Based on the mixed recall period, the number of persons below the poverty line declined from 26 per cent in 1999-2000 to 22 per cent in 2004-05.  
No estimates have been made after the 61st Round of the NSSO Survey. However, the annual GDP growth rate since 2004-05 has been significantly higher by an average of 3 per cent. Hence, on a parity of reasoning, it can be argued that the additional work opportunities created since 2004-05 would have been more every year and the proportion of persons below the poverty line would have declined further. I have no doubt that the next round of the NSSO Survey would vindicate these conclusions. 

In pursuance of the objective of inclusive growth, Government has been implementing eight flagship programmes supported by sizeable outlays. These include National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA), Mid-day Meal(MMS), Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS), Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission(JNNURM), Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission and the Total Santation Campaign. Together, these flagship programmes aim to improve the livelihood of people as well as provide them with easy access to basic facilities like education, health, clean drinking water and sanitation. Besides, Bharat Nirman, which is an important programme to improve the quality of life and mainstreaming of the rural population, has received high priority.  
 The Government can legitimately take some credit for the initiative it has taken in the rapid expansion and universalization of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. In 2007-08, 3.39 crore households were provided employment and 143.5 crore person-days were generated in 330 districts. In 2008-2009 (upto September 2008), 2.93 crore households have been provided employment and 109.30 crore person-days have been generated. The enhanced wage earnings have led to a strengthening of the livelihood resource base of the rural poor in India. This is also reflected in the increased demand for and consumption of wage goods. 
There are many other initiatives that have been taken by the UPA Government but, in view of the constraints of the time, I shall not dwell on them in my opening remarks. However, I would like to make special mention of the National Action Plan on Climate Change and the Skill Development Programme. 
It is our endeavour to continue to provide a stable and conducive investment climate, both for the domestic investor and the foreign investor, and to manage the economy in a manner that facilitates inclusive growth driven by enhanced investment and consumption. We believe that our policy of encouraging both the public sector and the private sector and fostering competition has stood us well. It is only an open economy that will bring gains in efficiency and productivity, reward innovation and enterprise, and ensure inclusive growth. I would like to conclude by saying that the five years of the UPA Government – including the current difficult year – will mark a phase of development that put India on a high growth path. It will also mark the starting point of a journey that, say 20 years from now, would have placed India as a middle-income nation that has been successful in eliminating abject poverty and providing a decent standard and quality of life for its people.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

PM's address at DGPs/IGPs Conference

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has said that globalisation has produced a new range of interactive threats and risks blurring distinction between external and internal threats. Speaking at the Conference of Directors-General of Police in New Delhi today he called for finding ways and means to deal with the terrorism and improve the techniques needed for this purpose. Referring to the criticism of police and intelligence agencies every time after a terrorist attack, he underlined that many terrorist attacks have been prevented due to the vigil of these agencies, but a single incident of reasonable magnitude causes repercussions and calls into question the capability of the government and its agencies. 

Calling for guarding against the spread of fundamentalist and extremist ideas, Prime Minister said, ¡§We are a nation of over a billion people, belonging to different religions, communities, castes and speaking different languages who have lived together peacefully for hundreds of years. Our inclusive society must be preserved and protected for posterity.¡¨ He emphasised that communal violence must be checked in time. ¡§Whatever be the circumstances, the police must not remain passive spectators, when deliberate efforts are made by communal elements or others to disturb the peace,¡¨ he added. 

Dr. Singh also referred to the challenge before the police in restoring the faith of the people specially those belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and the weaker sections as to the impartiality and effectiveness of police. Recognising that much of the aspersions cast on police is motivated, he emphasised that police must face up to the reality that many are convinced that the police is less than fair, even though policemen die in the line of duty. Dr. Singh stress that the police need to win the trust of civil society as they work with, and amongst people and also need their support and help. ¡§Above all you must carry conviction to one and all about your impartiality and honesty of purpose. This is fundamental if the police has to succeed in a functional democracy,¡¨ he added. 

Notwithstanding limitations, the Prime Minister said that a great deal could be done, such as closer supervision at every level, effective and advance communication between policemen on duty and headquarters etc. 

The Prime Minister also said that a Task Force chaired by National Security Adviser should come out with a roadmap within 100 days detailing steps to be taken immediately and over next several months for translating a proper networked/net-centric security architecture into reality. He also suggested setting up a Standing Committee of DGPs, comprising five state DGPs on ration basis, to advise government on police & related ¡V legal matters. He also felt that the MHA could devise a scheme to induce a certain number of executive level police personnel in the ministry to induce field level experience into various police formulations. 

On this occasion the Prime Minister also gave away the President¡¦s Medals to Intelligence Bureau Officers for distinguished service. 

Following is the text of the Prime Minister¡¦s address on the occasion: 

¡§At the outset, I would like to congratulate the recipients of the highly coveted President¡¦s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. Their consistent and efficient performance in a very difficult sector of policing has earned them this medal. I am sure that they would continue to strive harder to achieve still greater heights in their profession. 

In October last year, I had an opportunity to address the Conference of Directors-General of Police. The international environment is in far greater turmoil to-day than it was a year ago. This has major consequences for us, for in a globalised world, what affects one part of the globe often affects the other parts as well. The current international financial crisis is a good index of the inter-active nature of to-day¡¦s globalised world. Likewise, in the realm of security, globalisation has produced a whole new range of interactive threats and risks. Globalisation has also led to a blurring of the distinction between external and internal threats. 

It is appropriate that the theme of this year¡¦s Conference of Directors-General of Police should be Terrorism. The advent of many non-state actors has greatly increased our vulnerabilities. Terrorism is now recognized as the main scourge of the modern world. To-day¡¦s terrorists ¡V whether they be non-state actors or others ¡V use modern communications and exploit cyber space to carry out their disruptive activities, and I hope that this Conference will find ways and means not only to deal with the problem of terrorism but also improve the techniques needed for this purpose. 

I only wish to emphasise here that time is not on our side. We cannot afford a repetition of the kind of terrorist attacks that have recently taken place in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Guwahati and some other urban centers. Every time a terrorist attack takes place there is a public outcry over the failure of the Government, accompanied by criticism of the police and the intelligence agencies. I am aware that many terrorist attacks have been prevented, thanks to the vigil of the police and intelligence agencies, but a single incident of reasonable magnitude causes repercussions, and calls into question the capability and the capacity of the Government and its various agencies. The globalisation of terror has made Terrorism an all ¡V encompassing danger. We should anticipate that the scale of such terrorist incidents would only grow in the future and this would then become a major test of our capabilities. You must therefore be prepared for such an eventuality. 

Alongside this, we need to guard against the new danger posed by the spread of fundamentalist and extremist ideas. We have, of late, been witnessing the emergence of such pernicious tendencies and trends, and there are elements in our society who are actively pursuing such programmes. We are a nation of over a billion people, belonging to different religions, communities, castes and speaking different languages who have lived together peacefully for hundreds of years. Our inclusive society must be preserved and protective for posterity. 

The virus of communal violence that threatens the secular fabric of our society needs to be checked and checked effectively in time, otherwise our multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-caste society could well unravel. This cannot be done by the police and law & order agencies alone, but the Police are often the first responders and have, hence, a critical role to play. Many years ago, our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru had remarked: ¡¥All of us, of whatever religion we belong to, are equal children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations¡K..No nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.¡¦ Sixty years and more after Independence, this remains the leit motif of our liberal pluralistic democracy. Whatever be the circumstances, the police must not remain passive spectators, when deliberate efforts are made by communal elements or others to disturb the peace. 

It is important that you have a proper understanding of the complex forces that are at work to-day in our country. You will need to avoid stereotypes that might wittingly, or unwittingly, enlarge the fault lines in our society. As the most visible symbol of our pluralistic democracy and national identity, you must create an image of the police as a fair and impartial entity. You will come under attack from those sections of society who are determined to undermine India¡¦s liberal ethos, but this challenge have to be met and met effectively. You may rest assured that in carrying out your responsibilities and duties you will have the fullest support of our Government. 

Another major challenge before the Police will be restoring the faith of the people - specially those belonging to religious and ethnic minorities and the weaker sections - in the impartiality and effectiveness of the police. To-day, aspersions are being made regarding police impartiality and capabilities, and while I recognize that much of this is motivated, you must face up to the reality that many are convinced that the police is less than fair. This is so even when policemen die in the line of duty. 

You must introspect deeply why this is happening. An adverse image of the police undermines its efficiency. It makes your task so much more difficult. Your work is with, and amongst, people, and you require their support, understanding and help. You need to win the trust of civil society. You need understanding from and rapport with the media. Above all you must carry conviction to one and all about your impartiality and honesty of purpose. This is fundamental if the police has to succeed in a functional democracy. An appropriate media policy, which could assist the police in gaining public confidence, through informing the public about what it needs to know and avoiding random or baseless speculation, is thus very important. 

In his address yesterday, the Home Minister would have covered the broad trends in the prevailing security scenario. I do not, hence, propose to enlarge upon this theme. All I would like to add is that while no one is questioning the professional competence of individual members of the Police Force, some misgivings do exist as to whether the police is adequately geared to deal with to-day¡¦s complex security scenarios. The contours of internal security have changed fundamentally over the years, and the basic character of threats has become greatly enlarged and also more complicated. A question that is often posed is whether the police have adequately upgraded their skills, have an indepth understanding of to-day¡¦s security problems, are technologically qualified, and have honed their abilities in every direction. In my interaction later to-day, I hope to hear from you what progress has been achieved in these critical areas. 

This is particularly true of the threat posed by Left Wing Extremism ¡V perhaps the most serious internal security threat that we face. It is evident that despite the efforts that have, and are being made, the measures taken so far have not yielded desired results. The police need to demonstrate greater resourcefulness, greater strength and strength in term of both their intelligence machinery and their response capacity. This is equally true in some measure in regard to the threat from terrorist outfits. The inability of the Intelligence - Agencies and the police to obtain pinpointed and actionable intelligence and in time - has enabled these outfits to carry out some high-profile attacks. 

There could be several reasons for this, and I am aware of some of them. The resources at the disposal of the police are often inadequate. The strength of personnel in police stations clearly needs to be augmented. There are far too many vacancies, and much larger numbers need to be recruited into the police, particularly into the civil police. The intelligence machinery at both the Central and State levels needs to be upgraded and should be more sophisticated. Police training has not kept pace with requirements. A quantum increase in the Police Budget across the country is also called for. 

There is, however, a great deal, notwithstanding all these limitations, that you could still do as leaders of the police force. To begin with, closer supervision at every level of the police hierarchy would yield better results. There is scope for effective connectivity between a policeman on duty and his headquarters through an effective and advanced communication system that could result in a 2-way flow of messages as well as data. With more senior level appointments in the Police, it should be possible to innovate better and create new instrumentalities for more effective policing. Training, in particular, can receive greater attention. Efforts can also be concentrated as much on the lowly beat constable as on members of Specialized Forces such as the Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh and the COBRA battalions of the CRPF. 

I am aware that some work is already in place and the Ministry of Home Affairs and the various agencies under the MHA, including the Bureau of Police Research & Development, are engaged in this task. Yet, as I stated just now, when it comes to high-tech crimes, terrorist situations, insurgent problems, or complex law & order matters, the perception remains that the police have a great deal of leeway to make up. This is something that has to be taken up urgently. 

There is thus a great deal of pressure to re-energise and re-vitalise our police force. In 2005, while addressing this Conference, I had recommended a ¡¥Police Mission¡¦ approach with a view to achieving focused attention on different police related tasks. The intention was to create an image of the Indian Police as a professionally competent and technologically advanced force, one that would be an agent of socio-economic change endowed with a spirit of humanism. I am told that some steps have been taken in this direction and meetings of the ¡¥Micro Missions¡¦ that were established have been held. On the ground, however, tangible results are yet to be seen. I think a Committee of the Directors-General of Police should assess what needs to be done so that the original spirit with which the idea of the ¡¥Police Mission¡¦ was initiated, is re-created. 

I believe that in the dynamic environment that we find ourselves, in which the pace, scale and complexity of changes are unprecedented, we need and should evolve a networked security architecture. Risks are often unforeseen in to-day¡¦s work. Threats are often hidden. This has made the work of law and order professionals far more challenging than ever before. We need therefore to be able to anticipate better. To ensure a proper networked security architecture, I suggest the establishment of a Task Force which would initiate a 100-day plan to: 

„« Develop an integrated capability to address emerging challenges in areas such as Left Wing Extremism, Terrorism and Insurgency; 

„« Improve the ability to anticipate and prevent surprises, through closely networked intelligence collaboration and upgradation of both human and technological intelligence; 

„« Create an awareness regarding the critical importance of strategic foresight in regard to social and political developments; 

„« Develop a net-centric information command structure that enables both State and Central agencies to access and exploit information in a secure manner and well in time; 

„« Strengthen inter-State and inter-agency cooperation; 

„« Ensure innovation and technological leadership. 

In a period of 100 days, the Task Force should come out with a road map regarding the detailed steps to be taken immediately, as also the subsequent steps to be taken over the next several months so as to translate this vision of an integrated net-centric capability into reality. The Task Force could be chaired by the National Security Adviser with suitable representation from the Central and State agencies. 

I also suggest the setting up of a Standing Committee of State DGPs to advise the Government on police and police-related legal matters. This institutional mechanism could comprise five State DGPs taken on a rotation basis. Side by side with this, it would be advantageous if the MHA could devise a scheme by which a certain number of Executive level police personnel could be inducted into the Ministry to help with policy formulation and induce a degree of field experience into various formulations involving police matters. 

I am sure the DIB and the DGPs and other delegates, present here, would work towards these objectives. 

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate you and through you the members of the Police Force for the selfless and untiring work that you have been performing. I pay my homage to all those policemen and women who have died while serving the interests of our nation. The Police are seldom praised and are almost always the butt of criticism. Nevertheless, the work done by the Police Force is invaluable and our nation has every reason to be grateful to the two million strong Police Force of the country