Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Outokumpu confirms agreement in principle with ThyssenKrupp to create a global stainless steel leader

31 January 2012 at 12.20 pm EET

Outokumpu confirms that it has reached an agreement in principle in its negotiations with ThyssenKrupp to combine Inoxum, the stainless steel unit of ThyssenKrupp, with Outokumpu under the operational leadership of Outokumpu. This is pending the approval of Outokumpu's Board of Directors later today and execution of definitive agreements.

The agreement reached with the German labor representatives overnight marks a significant milestone in the negotiations. Specifically, it covers the following areas:

- Closure of the Krefeld meltshop by end of 2013.
- The melt shop in Bochum will be preserved until the end of 2016.
- No compulsory redundancies in German production sites until end of 2015.
- Planned total reduction of 850 jobs in Germany of which ThyssenKrupp has committed to offer alternative jobs within ThyssenKrupp for up to 600 of current Inoxum employees.

According to the tentative agreement reached with ThyssenKrupp, the transaction would value Inoxum at an enterprise value of EUR 2.7 billion. The Consideration for Inoxum would comprise a cash payment of EUR 1 billion, new Outokumpu shares representing 29.9% of total share capital (post rights offering and directed share issue to ThyssenKrupp), a loan note of EUR 235 million (initial value) to be issued to ThyssenKrupp and the assumption by Outokumpu of certain liabilities of Inoxum of EUR 422 million. In connection with the transaction, Outokumpu plans to conduct a fully underwritten rights offering of EUR 1 billion, supported by certain key shareholders.

The combination would create significant cost synergies, starting in 2014 and estimated to reach a run-rate of EUR 225-250 million p.a. by 2017 at the latest. Any definitive agreement would be subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals.

ThyssenKrupp confirms planned combination of Inoxum with Outokumpu; Agreement reached with employee representatives
ThyssenKrupp AG confirms that an agreement in principle has been reached about the combination of Outokumpu and Inoxum, ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel business. The Management Board of ThyssenKrupp AG has already generally approved the transaction. In addition to that, an agreement was reached between the negotiating partners and the employee representatives this morning. The agreement includes rules for site and employment protection. The melt shop in Krefeld will be gradually shut down until the end of 2013. At least until this point in time the strip casting equipment will continue to operate. The melt shop in Bochum will be preserved until the end of 2016. The agreement also generally excludes compulsory redundancies until the end of 2015. All German production sites of Inoxum will be preserved without restrictions at least until 2015.

The results of the agreement with the employee representatives are subject to confirmation by the Management Board of ThyssenKrupp AG. The entire transaction requires the approval by the Supervisory Board of ThyssenKrupp AG and the Board of Directors of Outokumpu. The Supervisory Board of ThyssenKrupp AG will have an extraordinary meeting this afternoon.

The transaction agreement values Inoxum at an enterprise value of approx. EUR 2.7 bn. Under the agreement, ThyssenKrupp would obtain a minority stake of 29.9 % in the new company for its transfer of Inoxum. In addition, the consideration would include a significant cash payment from Outokumpu to repay ThyssenKrupp's financial receivables towards Inoxum as well the assumption of third-party financial liabilities and pension liabilities of Inoxum by Outokumpu.

Other than the board approval, the planned combination will be subject to a number of conditions, including regulatory approval.

ThyssenKrupp is a diversified industrial group. It has 180,000 employees in over 80 countries developing ideas and innovations into solutions for sustainable progress. In fiscal year 2010/2011 ThyssenKrupp generated sales of €49 billion.

For us innovations and technical progress are key factors in managing global growth and using finite resources in a sustainable way. With our engineering expertise in the areas of "Material", "Mechanical" and "Plant", we enable our customers to gain an edge in the global market and manufacture innovative products in a cost and resource efficient way.

Production Report for the 12 months ended 31 December 2011
  • Record annual production from our Australian thermal coal operations following the successful commissioning of the greenfield Mangoola mine on budget and ahead of schedule, the expansion of Newlands Underground thermal coal operation and a strong second half performance;
  • Record production of mined nickel, including first ore ahead of schedule from the Kikialik expansion at Raglan mine and record nickel metal volumes from a second successive record year at Nikkelverk;
  • We completed an expansion to extend the life of the Kidd copper mine in Canada on time and within budget and began commissioning the expansion at the Antamina copper-zinc joint venture in Peru at the end of 2011;
  • During the second half, we commissioned the 120,000 tonnes per annum Black Star Deeps and 40,000 tonnes per annum Handlebar Hill zinc-lead projects on schedule and on budget;
  • Our Falcondo ferronickel operation in the Dominican Republic exceeded expectations to operate at an annual rate of almost 15,000 tonnes per annum, following its restart in February;
  • We approved seven key projects representing total capital expenditure of $2.6 billion during the year:
  • The 7 million tonnes per annum Ulan Open Cut thermal coal project in Australia;
  • The Tweefontein optimisation coal project in South Africa, which will, subject to receipt of final environmental approvals, produce 4 million tonnes per annum of thermal coal;
  • The 6,000 tonnes per annum Fraser Morgan nickel mine and expansion to 40,000 tonnes per annum at Raglan nickel mine, both in Canada;
  • Our share of capital to expand the joint venture Cerrejón thermal coal operation in Colombia to 40 million tonnes per annum;
  • The 126,000 tonnes per annum greenfield Lady Loretta zinc project in the Mount Isa region, Australia; and
  • Mount Margaret, a 30,000 tonnes per annum copper project in Australia.
  • During 2011, we announced significant increases in mineral resource estimates at the Antamina copper and zinc mine and Las Bambas and Coroccohuayco copper projects in Peru, the El Pachón copper project in Argentina and the Frieda River copper-gold project in Papua New Guinea.
Neither the content of the company's website nor the content of any other website accessible from hyperlinks on the company's website is incorporated into, or forms part of, this announcement


Black Beauty

Launching Frederique Constant Black Beauty, an exciting addition to Frederique Constant's bestselling Double Heart Beat Collection. The deep black mother of pearl dial and many diamonds of the Black Beauty will certainly attract attention. The original and registered design of this range - with two intertwined hearts forming an aperture in the dial revealing the 'heart beat' of the movement- makes the Frederique Constant Double Heart Beat more than just a watch. These fine timepieces have been developed with passion to reflect the values and aspirations of today's woman. Frederique Constant's Double Heart Beat watches are created with precision design and assembled by hand, allowing for a high quality timepiece each and every time. Perceived value is important, so we know that quality must be consistent in our work and is vital to our success. Passion definitely shows through our craftsmanship, as well as our charitable donations. We are equally as passionate about charity, with US$50 from each watch sold in our Double Heart Beat Collection donated to various charities. These charities include those related to the heart and children. Hence the slogan for this collection "Assembled by hand to touch your heart".

Heart Beat

Frederique Constant signature is the Heart Beat. In 1994, Frederique Constant developed its first Heart Beat watch. The purpose of the Heart Beat development was to show the mechanical nature of these Frederique Constant watches. Heart Beat watches have an aperture at the position of the balance wheel to show that the movement of the watch is mechanical. Early in the 1990’s, automatic mechanical watches were slowly making their return to the market after the quartz crisis of the 1970-1980’s. Typically, the exterior of such mechanical watches looks similar to quartz watches except that the second hand moves continuously. On quartz watches, the second hand makes 60 steps per minute. At Frederique Constant, we considered it important to better show the difference between mechanical and quartz watches. In a mechanical watch, the balance wheel beats 28’800 times per hour. The balance wheel rotates clockwise and counter clockwise on its axes in a large ruby jewel. Its rotation is controlled by the hairspring, which constantly coils and uncoils, and can be seen through the open eye of the Heart Beat watches.

Heart related charities

The next time you see someone wearing one of the beautiful Double Heart Beat Collection watches, remember that part of the cost for that watch went to help a patient.
Somewhere out there is a child with a bad heart that could end a potentially eventful life and a future replete with possibilities. Frederique Constant donated two cheques in the value of US$ 50’000 (2008) and US$ 75’000 (2011) to the International Children’s Heart Foundation, a passionate organization that brings skills, technology and knowledge to diagnose and care for children with congenital heart disease to developing countries.

In 2009, we lent our support by funding Paint a Smile’s bid to decorate the Beijing Children’s Cardiology Department and put smiles on the faces of children dealing with heart-related issues.

In 2010, we awarded the American Heart Association with a US$50,000 check for their charitable efforts to prevent heart disease and stroke. We stated, “Driven by Passion since we started our company, Frederique Constant is very honoured to award the American Heart Association and their passionate projects to save lives. We wish and hope that our donation will permit them to actualise their goal.”

In 2011, we also held a benefit for the Hong Kong Children’s Heart Foundation, with Chinese actress and Frederique Constant brand ambassador ShuQi helping us drum popular support for the cause of children with congenital heart problems.

With passion, we continue to provide support to heart and child related charities. In 2012, we will again donate a major cheque to a charitable cause.

About Frederique Constant

Over the years, we have earned a reputation as a leading maker of Swiss luxury watches despite the relative youth of our brand. The quality of our watches and the detail involved in crafting each watch is only part of our success story; the rest was driven by watch aficionados and lovers of our brand who saw that we had something different and unique to offer. It is by appealing to this same group of people that we hope to make a difference in the lives of many by soliciting for their support to extend the same affection they have for the brand, towards charities and causes we are associated with.

Interview with Aletta Stas

Cofounder and COO of Frederique Constant

How did you design the DHB Collection?

About 7 years ago, while having a coffee with Peter at home, we discussed the question how to make our Ladies Heart Beat watches more feminine. At that moment, our Ladies Heart Beat watches had MOP dials with diamonds and a round opening at 12 o clock. "What about using Hearts?", I proposed. We went together behind the computer and drew the first Double Heart Beat Dial with our design program. This was the start of the Double Heart Beat Collection. The Double Heart represents for me the hearts of 2 people who love each other.

What does the Charity Campaign mean for you?

For me, the Charity Campaign is a way to give something back to the Community. We are lucky to be born in a country where there is a good health system, where there is help from the government when you are in need. Unfortunately in some other parts of the world it is not the case. By donating the cost of a lifesaving heart scan (US$ 50) for each Double Heart Beat watch sold, we and our customers help children who are in need. I am very happy to be able to help and hope to further develop our charity activities.

How many DHB watches do you own and how do you wear them?

During the past year, I have been wearing our Chocolate Double Heart Beat and I am looking forward to wearing our latest version: the Black Double Heartbeat. It is elegant, contemporary and classy at the same time.

4 Ways to Turn Less into More

Money, time, connections -- you need more of everything, right? Stop whining and start using your contraints to your advantage.Sometimes less really is more, especially when you’re starting a company.

If you have plenty of resources, it’s easy to convince yourself you’re doing well. Problems get overlooked, waste goes unnoticed, and revenue shortfalls are covered by cash reserves… often until it’s too late.

More—whether more money, more time, more automation, or a bigger network—can actually make long-term success more elusive. On the other hand a constraint can be a blessing in painful disguise, forcing you to pay attention to what really matters.

Here are four ways to turn less into a lot more:

1. Money. No startup has “enough” money. Many businesses are started with no money.

If capital is tight, make that an advantage. Instead of spending time—and the little capital you do have—on things that make your business seem like a “real” business, spend all your time finding ways to generate revenue as soon as possible.

Like Jason Fried says, starting a business is not the same thing as making money. A successful entrepreneur masters one skill that is more important than all others: Making money.

When you don’t have money you’re forced to focus on finding customers and generating revenue. Learn how to do that and then worry about running a business, because without customers you don’t have a business.
2. Time. You have a great idea. You just need time to pull it off. If only you could quit your job and devote yourself full-time…

Don’t. Except in rare cases, the smart move is to keep your full-time job while you start a business on the side. Granted it's not easy: Sacrifice, discipline, and a lot of hard work are definitely required.

But that's okay—if you aren't willing to sacrifice and work hard, your start-up will fail whether you keep your full-time job or not.

If you’re truly committed to your idea, you will naturally maximize the time you are able to devote to your start-up; the three hours a day you are able to spend will be a lot more focused. And you’ll naturally strip out “nice to have” features and focus solely on what customers really need—and will pay for.

3. Automation. Most large companies improve processes and cut costs with automation. It’s tempting to copy the big boys, but in a start-up, adopting automation early on is often unnecessary and even counter-productive.

For example, I bought a product from a small company. A couple days later I received a recorded call thanking me for my purchase and encouraging me to contact them if I had questions or wanted to provide input. I’m sure it was intended to be a nice touch but it just felt tacky.

In the early stages of a business, avoid automation where it touches the customer. If you want to thank a customer for their purchase, email or call them personally. If a customer complains, respond personally. Automation can save time, but if you want to build a customer base—and get ideas for how you can improve your business from the people who matter most—communicate with customers the old fashioned way.

Less automation typically leads to more engagement. Stay personal for as long as you can.

4. Network. A huge network is a huge advantage, right? Not in a start-up. You don’t have time to nurture dozens or hundreds of connections.

Quality of connections, not quantity, is what matters most. And don't worry about the “status” of a connection; all that matters is whether you can help each other reach your goals.

Find someone you can help. Reach out. Give before you worry about receiving. That person may help you in return or may connect you with someone who can.

Spend 90 percent of your networking time building a few quality connections; devote the remainder to building a large group of social media connections. Remember, any tool that automates or makes the process of making connections easy will rarely establish the connections you really need.

Most of us aren’t visionaries. We can’t, even if given unlimited resources, sit down and map out a groundbreaking new product or service. But most of us are great at solving problems. Constraints are problems you can solve.

And every time you do, you build a better product or service—and a better business.......

- Umesh Shanmugam

Handling the energy crisis

A 35-km car journey consumes as much energy as running an LED tube-light for four hours every day, for a year.

Low-cost domestic coal can be reserved for the poor and the rich made to use renewable energy.

Societies across the globe have become used to guzzling energy, a phenomenon which has come into focus especially during the last few years. Despite the current recession and the climate imperative, global energy use has increased at an unprecedented rate during the last decade. Limits to available energy resources are hurting economies and curtailing development in poorer countries. India, being more vulnerable to energy shortages than most other countries, needs to urgently implement a multi-dimensional solution to avoid a crisis.

For the last 25 years, new oil sources that have been unearthed have been of lower volumes compared to the extraction of oil. At present, they account for less than half of oil production. Despite a substantial increase in oil prices, conventional oil production hasn't increased since 2004. Unconventional (difficult to extract) gas and oil are bridging part of the gap. However, their cost and environmental impacts are high. The coal situation is better, but the veracity of claimed reserves is doubtful.


To avert economic hardship and work towards mitigating climate change, we must find answers to the energy conundrum soon. This is possible through a three-pronged strategy to ‘replace, improve, and reduce'. Among these approaches, replacing conventional energy by renewable energy like wind, solar and biomass gets the most attention. The cost of power from wind is now comparable to that of power from imported coal.

The Indian wind potential has recently been assessed at 100,000 MW, and is likely to be re-evaluated upwards. Solar energy costs have dramatically fallen and are only double that of coal-based power, and comparable to nuclear power. It is no surprise that the head of the Indian nuclear programme, Dr Kakodkar, now heads the solar mission! 

Another approach should be to improve the method of using energy by extracting more work from that energy, through super-efficient appliances, vehicles and buildings. These equipments use half the energy to provide a similar level of service. Mass-scale adoption of new irrigation systems or green buildings, which use only half to a quarter of the energy, is constrained only by a limited trained workforce. Novel programmes to harness this massive potential are crucially needed as we build up our infrastructure. These two strategies, though essential, are insufficient to address the energy crisis if we don't curtail the unabated growth of energy-intensive activities. Some alternatives, like improved urban layouts that reduce commute distances, are feasible and involve little or no lifestyle changes.

However, in some other cases, moderating the extravagant lifestyles of the rich is essential, because certain activities consume much greater energy than others. A two-way flight from Delhi to Washington, once a year, consumes as much energy as 35 km of daily car driving round the year! And one 35-km journey by car consumes as much energy as running an LED tube-light for four hours every day for an entire year!


The Indian economy faces tougher energy challenges than some other large economies because a majority of the population has started using modern energy only recently, and their need for energy to lead a dignified life is bound to increase the demand substantially. However, our domestic energy resources are limited, and we are already importing 85 per cent of our oil and 15 per cent of our coal requirements.

These energy imports amount to 8 per cent of the national income, and are poised to claim a share beyond 10 per cent soon. This percentage is twice that of China, the US, and the EU. For every rupee of tax paid to the government, we give half a rupee to other countries which goes out of our economy — this certainly isn't a happy situation. If energy imports are reduced by half, 4 per cent of GDP would remain within our economy, increasing GDP growth by 1 per cent.

The failure to understand this phenomenon is a primary cause for concern. The sale of air-conditioners and air travel is doubling every four to five years, while the sale of cars is doubling every seven to eight years. This rapid increase in energy-guzzling activities by a small section of the elite is unsustainable and cannot be simply seen as a sign of development.


A sustainable future requires urgent action on all fronts of the ‘replace, improve, and reduce' strategy. Policy tools must integrate these strands of the solution. The central electricity regulator has suggested a green cess for commercial consumers, which can be used to promote solar energy and super-efficient appliances. Similarly, taxes on air travel or cars can be used to build public transport or efficient railways, which can help reduce air or car travel.

Electricity tariffs can also be linked to the efficiency of electricity use, by say, new commercial buildings. Based on the floor space of a building and its monthly electricity use, an energy guzzling office can be made to pay a higher tariff than a frugal office. Efficient buildings will then become a norm.

Reserving low-cost domestic coal for the basic needs of the poor, and making the rich use renewable energy if they indulge in extravagant energy consumption, is morally superior. It's also economically prudent, as it will promote energy security and stimulate the next industrial revolution of renewable energy. Such a transformation of India into an energy-efficient economy is possible, provided we change our national policies rapidly in this direction.

- Umesh Shaqnmugam

Belgian bourses host buyers from across the globe
at third edition of Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair

Antwerp, Belgium, January 30, 2012 - The Antwerp Diamond Bourse and the Diamond Club of Antwerp opened their doors on Sunday as the third edition of the Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair was launched at the trading halls of the historic bourses. Diamond buyers from Europe, the Middle East and Turkey visited the booths of some 70 Antwerp diamond firms where an unprecedented collection of diamonds, gemstones and diamond jewellery were on display.

Phillipe Ringer, sales manager of the Antwerp-based DTC sight holder Trau Brothers, said the company was pleased to see a sizable delegation of Middle Eastern buyers at the fair. "Countries like Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have become increasingly important target markets for Antwerp diamond firms. These countries are showing a strong demand for high-end goods, both for large loose diamonds and for unique, high-quality diamond jewellery creations. To cater to these buyers, we are presenting both single stones as well as some extraordinary jewellery items," he said.

Khaled Yosef Al-Owaymer, a member of the National Committee for Precious Metals and Precious Stones of the Council of Saudi Chambers, confirmed Ringer's comments, saying Middle Eastern buyers were eager to gain direct access to the Antwerp diamond market. Making his first trip to Antwerp, Al-Owaymer said he was looking to buy diamonds in the range of half a carat up to five carats and larger. "The variety of goods on offer on a single location is something we have not experienced before. For a jeweller such as me, as well as for my colleagues, this is a great opportunity to create direct ties with dozens of leading diamond manufacturers and traders who are participating in this unique fair."

Suzanne Eid, general manager of Collection, a Beirut-based jewellery publication, coordinated the visit of the Saudi and Lebanese buyers' delegation. She noted that while Antwerp was already a regular destination for many of the buyers, the fair provided an excellent opportunity to increase their sourcing for goods. "Gauging the reactions of the delegation's members, I think the ADTF's format and platform is a great fit for jewellers who seek access, and often first time access, to Antwerp's diamond market. I have no doubt that many of them will be back soon," she said.

The first day of the fair concluded with a Gala Dinner, sponsored by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC). Raphael Rubin, a member of the ADTF's Organizing Committee, welcomed the buyers who had come from India, Thailand, the Ukraine, the Middle East and Turkey. "This third edition of the fair is the proof that we are up to the challenge of organizing an international trade fair here in Antwerp," he declared. Rubin also revealed that buyers from North America, China and SouthEast Asia would be invited to take part in the 2013 fair.

The Gala Dinner's highlight was a concert by award-winning soprano Ana Camelia Stefanescu, accompanied by the Nuovi Musiche orchestra, conducted by Maestro Eric Lederhandler. Stefanescu and the orchestra performed works by Donizetti, Verdi and Leonard Bernstein.


MARIETTA, Ga., Jan. 30, 2012 – Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] C-130 Hercules program has reached yet another historic milestone with the delivery of its 2400th aircraft. The aircraft is an MC-130J Combat Shadow II assigned to U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command and will be operated by the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

The delivery of this aircraft follows a record year for C-130J production at the company’s facility in Marietta, Ga. In 2011, 33 C-130J Super Hercules were delivered − a new production record for the C-130J model. Aircraft were delivered in six different configurations for six operators: the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, U.S. Marine Corps, Canada, India and Qatar.

The C‑130 production line in Marietta is the longest continuously operating military aircraft production line in history.

“As we start a new year it is only fitting that the C-130 breaks yet another record and sets a new milestone,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin vice president for C-130 programs. “The C-130 is the benchmark for airlift around the world and we look forward to this year being another year of excellence for our world-wide customers.”

C-130J aircraft are currently in production for the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps, Iraq, Israel, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Oman and Tunisia. C-130Js are also flown by Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 123,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Growth of Hotel Accommodation in the Country

The Government has taken various measures to augment growth of hotel accommodation in the country.

Hotel and Tourism related industry has been declared as high priority industry and Foreign Direct Investment upto 100%, under the automatic route is permitted in ‘Hotels & Tourism Sector’, subject to applicable laws/regulations, security and other conditionalties.

To encourage the growth of hotels, on the request of Ministry of Tourism, a five Year Tax Holiday was announced in the Budget of 2008-09 for two, three & four star hotels that are established in specified districts which have UNESCO declared ‘World Heritage Sites’ except the revenue districts of Mumbai and Delhi. The hotel should be constructed and start functioning during the period April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2013.

The Government has also announced the extension of Investment Linked Tax incentive under Section 35 AD of the Income Tax Act to new hotels of 2-Star Category and above anywhere in India.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also issued revised Guidelines on Classification of exposures as Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Exposures. Thus, RBI has classified exposures to hotels outside the CRE Exposure.
Shri Dinsha J.Patel to Inaugurate 50th meeting of the Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB)
Shri Dinsha J. Patel, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Mines will inaugurate the 50th Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB) meeting of the Geological Survey of India on 2nd February 2012 at ICAR, Pusa, New Delhi.
The 50th Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB) meeting of the Geological Survey of India is being held on 2-3 February 2012. The Minister will also inaugurate the exhibition being organized at the venue on both these days on the theme of ‘Gems, Gemstones, Precious Metals, REE and Technology Metals/Minerals’ in which GSI and its sister organizations will showcase their activities on the theme. Shri Vishwapati Trivedi, Secretary to the Govt. of India, Ministry of Mines will chair the meeting on both the days. This is an important platform where of the progress of work carried out by GSI till date during the Field Season 2010-12 will be reviewed and the Annual Field Season Programme for 2012-13 will be finalized. The meeting will be attended by members from the Central Ministries, State Directorates of Mining and Geology, industry, related PSUs, and other stakeholders. The outcome of the 12 CGPB Committee (Group I-XII) meetings held during the period Nov 2011 - Jan 2012 will also be presented by the Conveners of these committees.

It may be mentioned that the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, vide notification dated 13th March 2009 has revamped/reconstituted the CGPB Committee into 12 theme-based groups with an objective to enable the States and other Stakeholders to accrue benefit from wider participation and interaction with GSI to further their activities and avoid duplication. It would also provide a forum for better coordination between Central and State level stakeholders by encouraging the regular functioning of State level Geological Programming Boards, set up by the State Governments. It was decided that the 12 Committees for the various sub-sectors would comprise members and invitees from the concerned States and Agencies engaged in activities in the field relevant to that particular sector.

It is a matter of pride that during the current field season, GSI which was founded way back in 1851 with the prime task of locating coal resources of the country, has made three important findings namely, discovery of copper mineralization in the Khera Block, Mundiyawas-Khera area, Alwar district, Rajasthan; gold deposits with an average grade of 3 g/t in the Ajjanahalli schist belt of Tumkur district, Karnataka; and gold mineralization, with a surface average value of 4 g/t in the Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. GSI’s endeavor in taking up hyperspectral mapping of the country besides the national geomorphological mapping programe, is a matter of pride. Further, with the operationalisation of the heliborne survey and acquisition of blue water ocean-going vessel by GSI, the search for mineral resources both on shore and offshore is all set to gain momentum. GSI is also in the process of making its Chemical Labs ISO compliant. It is important to mention that the MoM /GSI have entered into a number of MoUs with a host of other countries like Canada, Republic of Columbia and Saudi Arabia for international cooperation in the fields of mineral exploration, geosciences involving societal issues, transfer of technology and capacity building.
Financing Institutions Need to Adopt a More Flexible Approach and a More
Positive Orientation in Serving the Housing Needs of Low Income Segments: Kumari Selja

The Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja has said that the financing institutions will need to adopt a more flexible approach and a more positive orientation in serving the housing needs of low income segments. Speaking at the NHB-APUHF-APMCHUD International conference on Growth with Stability in Affordable Housing Markets here today she said, they should develop the requisite skills to mobilise domestic savings through innovative methods and devise schemes to lend at affordable rates.

The Minister said, in the Indian context, there has been steady growth in the Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) who are serving as dedicated outlets for the housing credit delivery. With the commitment of the Government towards the financial, social and economic upliftment and inclusion of the social and economically backward section, it is an appropriate time for the Banking sector to come forward in a big way to cater to their housing requirements by devising suitable appraisal and processing models.

She said, Government of India has extended a range of monetary and fiscal incentives to promote lending and investment in affordable housing. These include income tax benefits for the borrowers, lenders, investors, savers and construction agencies. The state governments have also come out with supportive housing policies, lower transaction cost and incentives to the developers.

Here is the text of the Minister’s speech:

“It gives me great pleasure to be present at this august gathering of experts and representatives of national and international institutions working for housing and human settlements in the Asia Pacific region. The theme of the Conference `Growth with Stability in the Affordable Housing Markets` is extremely relevant to the current context and depicts various dimensions of housing and housing finance. I am pleased to note that the National Housing Bank and the Asia-Pacific Union for Housing Finance (APUHF) and the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (APMCHUD) are jointly organizing this conference. I am sure that these knowledge sharing platforms which are promoting coalition and coordination among the Asia-Pacific countries in the field of housing and housing finance, will consolidate and evolve rapidly in the best interest of all the countries.

The Asia Pacific region is characterized by the dynamics of growth, rapid urbanisation, and varying levels of development. Growing urbanisation in this region is coupled with proliferation of informal habitat with inadequate basic services. My Ministry worked with the UN-Habitat to establish a platform in this region for interaction at the Ministerial level and consequently Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (APMCHUD) was created in 2006. APMCHUD has been promoting close collaboration within the Asia-Pacific countries to jointly address the major challenges of Sustainable Urban Development including affordable housing for improving the quality of life of the underprivileged within the region.

With globalization and economic liberalization, being pursued by most of the countries in the Asia Pacific region, there is greater interdependence and integration among countries and economies. Opening up of the economies has resulted in flow of finances and investments across countries. In this inter-dependent world with inter-connected financial markets, it is important for each country to sustain investor confidence and also expand opportunities to attract new investments. I am happy to note that the subject matter of the deliberations is focused both on growth and stability in the Affordable Housing Markets, the two factors important for sustainability. The collateral global consequences of the sub-prime crisis need no elaboration. I am sure that the experts and professionals working in the field of financing and regulating housing development in their respective countries realise the importance of getting the policy right, particularly as most countries in this region are emerging economies.

Housing throughout the world has been recognized as one of the engines of economic growth because of its forward and backward linkage with other ancillary industries. Housing, in its most basic sense, provides social and economic security to the individual and at the macro level, adds to the economic growth. Recognizing this, the housing sector has been accorded importance by the governments across the countries. The major challenge today is to provide affordable housing to the masses. Many countries within the Asia-Pacific region face similar problems and issues with regard to the affordable housing.

The subject of affordable housing is the cornerstone of the Government of India`s National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy, 2007. Most of the emerging economies face this challenge which is critically linked to availability of financial resources, the depth and reach of the financial market and the institutional infrastructure for credit flow in the sector. India faces an estimated housing deficit of about 26 million, predominantly in the low income segments. This is an overwhelming number in itself. The proliferation of slums and informal settlements further add to the challenge. The role of the banks and the specialised mortgage lenders in various countries and their experience in addressing these problems could provide useful lessons for policy makers in both financial markets as well as the housing sector.

There has been consistent growth and expansion in the retail housing loan market in recent years. But this growth has been uneven, and large segments of the population continue to be outside the formal financial system. There is a definite need at this point in time to reorient our approach and develop programmes for reaching out to these segments. There must be a range of products to serve the needs of the different segments of the market.

The financing institutions will need to adopt a more flexible approach and a more positive orientation in serving the housing needs of low income segments. They should develop the requisite skills to mobilise domestic savings through innovative methods and devise schemes to lend at affordable rates. We should also explore solutions outside the fiscal support framework which we all collectively must strive to search and explore. I am sure that the Conference will deliberate on these issues and come out with valuable recommendations for the countries in Asia Pacific region.

In the Indian context, there has been steady growth in the Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) who are serving as dedicated outlets for the housing credit delivery. With the commitment of the Government towards the financial, social and economic upliftment and inclusion of the social and economically backward section, it is an appropriate time for the Banking sector to come forward in a big way to cater to their housing requirements by devising suitable appraisal and processing models.

Government of India has extended a range of monetary and fiscal incentives to promote lending and investment in affordable housing. These include income tax benefits for the borrowers, lenders, investors, savers and construction agencies. The state governments have also come out with supportive housing policies, lower transaction cost and incentives to the developers.

Along with incentives for encouraging the private sector in housing, Central as well as State governments also directly intervene in tackling the problems of housing of the low income groups. The most important programme initiated by the Central Government in recent years is the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM). It was launched in December 2005. It is a reform-driven initiative on a mission mode that provides for integrated development of urban infrastructure, housing and basic services. The Central government also launched the Interest Subsidy for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP) in 2009 to meet the credit requirements of the Lower Income Groups population living outside slums.

Learning from the experience of implementation of JnNURM, the Central Government has launched a new scheme Rajiv Awas Yojana or Rajiv Housing Scheme, named after our late beloved Prime Minister, in 2011. The government has unveiled a bold vision of slum free India through this scheme. The scheme is designed on the premise that providing property rights to the slum dwellers over the land under their informal settlements would unlock the trapped value of land and catalyze flow of finances to them.

The scheme also seeks to identify the failures of our systems and policies which have given rise to slums and take corrective action to redress them. In particular, the scheme mandates reforms in rent laws, land conversion, land development and land use policies, and simplification of building approval processes for housing development. The scheme also makes it compulsory for the earmarking of 20 to 25% of the developed housing land for EWS and LIG housing with appropriate incentives to the developers. Recognising the importance of a ‘push’ for credit to flow to the urban poor, the scheme proposes a Credit Risk Guarantee Fund. This fund would stand guarantee to the lending agencies for small housing loans to the EWS and LIG groups. This would enhance the credit worthiness of the lower income groups.

Various state governments have also made efforts to provide housing to the urban low income groups. Here, I would like to mention the INDIRAMMA Housing Programme of Andhra Pradesh Government. A few state governments have already created a legal framework for providing property rights to the slum dwellers on the government lands. The state of Madhya Pradesh has been a pioneer in this regard.

These initiatives have resulted in an appreciable growth in the affordable housing stock in the country as well as improving the quality of life of the slum dwellers and urban poor. There has been a net addition of about 20 million dwelling units in urban areas, rise in ownership housing from 63% to 67% and further reduction in overcrowding in the decade of 1991-2001. The impact of the initiatives for direct interventions for the poor in the last decade by central and state governments would be reflected in the latest census data which is expected to be available soon.

However, these achievements are inadequate when we look at the magnitude of the problem. Apart from direct interventions by government, we also need to pay attention to the development of the debt market for housing, encouragement of Public Private Partnerships; rental housing finance and promotion of community led housing finance and housing construction initiatives. The livelihood activities need to be strengthened in order to augment incomes and also to fulfil basic housing needs and access to the services. Micro-finance or credit to initiate such activities and strengthening institutions and regulatory framework to manage such activities are being actively pursued in our country and I know that we have a lot to learn from the other countries participating in this conference. Projects and programmes with strong partnership arrangements between communities, local agencies and private sector are of great interest to us.

There are good lessons to be exchanged among the countries in this region. Examples of successful schemes and programmes combined with the experience of sound and sustainable financing institutions have resulted in good market practices. The market oriented Government Housing Bank of Thailand, also represented in this Conference, combined with the subsidy-supported Community Organization Development Institute (CODI) has proved to be a good combination to work for the government programme in Thailand. We have examples of Urban Poor Programmes through Community Mortgage Schemes being implemented in Philippines which also represents a combination of mortgage financing and subsidy financing. The central banks in various countries including Mongolia, Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India have also played a very supportive role in developing the mortgage market, both primary and secondary mortgage.

All these country experiences show that the solution neither entirely lies with the government nor with the market, but somewhere in between the two. Therefore, there is need for partnership amongst all stakeholders-governments at the central, state and city level, private sector construction agencies, banks and financial institutions and non-governmental organisations representing the large section of the informal market. Looking at the range of the subject matter for this conference, I am sure all these issues and many others which I may not have mentioned, will be deliberated upon by the experts and eminent speakers from various countries.

I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of city planning and regulatory frameworks, which, if structured innovatively can effectively address the issue of affordable housing. We need to adopt innovative planning and management approaches proactively to address the issues of housing, civic services and urban poverty.

I wish the Conference all success in their deliberations, and I am confident that the suggestions and recommendations that emerge from the discussions will play an important role in shaping the policy and implementation strategies with regard to development of affordable housing in South Asia and Asia Pacific countries.”
India, Japan Coast Guard Meeting and Combined Exercises Conclude

The visit of a high level Japanese delegation led by Admiral Hisayasu Suzuki, the Commandant, Japan Coast Guard (JCG), for the XIHigh Level Meeting and Combined Exercises with the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) concluded today. The five-day visit, was in pursuance of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC), signed between the two Coast Guards on 24 November 2006, which stipulates that the heads of the two organizations meet alternately in India and Japan, to discuss maritime issues of mutual concerns and formulate a cooperative approach to address these.

The Memorandum of Cooperation between the two Coast Guards encompasses issues of maritime search and rescue, combating marine pollution, technical assistance for responding to natural disasters and exchange of information regarding crimes at sea, including smuggling and illicit trafficking.

The first ICG-JCG combined exercises were carried out in November 2000 off Chennai, in which one JCG ship participated and was overseen by a high level delegation of JCG, led by the then Commandant of JCG. This also laid the foundation for development of close interaction between the two organisations that included regular visits and exercises, sharing of information and expertise and training visits.

During the 11th ICG-JCG High Level discussions, it was mutually agreed to strengthen the cooperation on evolving collaborative approach, in addressing a spectrum of maritime issues concerning safety and security. The visit was also very significant in providing renewed impetus to strong ties that exist between the two Coast Guards as the Japan Coast Guard Ship has visited India, after a gap of six years, for the combined exercises with the ICG off Chennai.

A delegation from the Information Sharing Centre, Singapore established under the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) also participated in the exercise. This was significant in furthering the interaction among the participating agencies on anti-piracy issues.
Index of Eight Core Industries (Base: 2004-05=100)
December 2011

The Eight core industries have a combined weight of 37.90 per cent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The combined Index was 147.30 in December 2011 with a growth rate of 3.1% compared to their 6.3% Growth in December 2010. During April-December 2011-12, the cumulative growth rate of the Core industries was 4.4% as against their growth at 5.7% during the corresponding period in 2010-11.


Coal production (weight: 4.38%) registered a growth of 5.6% in December 2011 compared to its growth at 3.8% in December 2010. However, in cumulative terms Coal production had a negative growth of (-) 2.7% during April-December 2011-12 compared to its growth at 0.8% during the same period of 2010-11.

Crude Oil

Crude Oil production (weight: 5.22%) registered a growth of (-) 5.6% in December 2011 compared to its growth at 15.8% in December 2010. Cumulatively Crude Oil production registered a growth of 1.9% during April-December 2011-12 compared to its growth at 12.0% during the same period of 2010-11.

Natural Gas

Natural Gas production (weight: 1.71%) registered a growth of (-) 10.8% in December 2011 compared to its growth at (-) 0.2% in December 2010. Natural Gas production registered a growth of (-) 8.8% during April-December 2011-12 compared to its growth at 17.3% during the same period of 2010-11.

Petroleum Refinery Products (0.93% of Crude Throughput)*

Petroleum refinery production (weight: 5.94%) had a growth of 0.8% in December 2011 compared to its growth at 8.3% in December 2010. In cumulative terms Petroleum refinery production registered a growth of 4.1% during April-December 2011-12 compared to its 1.7% growth during the same period of 2010-11.


Fertilizer production (weight: 1.25%) registered a growth of 0.8% in December 2011 against its growth at 0.3% in December 2010. Cumulatively Fertilizer production had a negative growth of (-) 0.5% during April-December 2011-12 corresponding to (-) 1.5% growth during the same period of 2010-11.

Steel (Alloy + Non-Alloy)

Steel production (weight: 6.68%) had a growth rate of 2.2% in December 2011 against its 9.4% growth in December 2010. Cumulatively Steel production had a 7.5% growth during April-December 2011-12 compared to its 8.3% growth during the same period of 2010-11.


Cement production (weight: 2.41%) registered a growth of 13.3% in December 2011 against its (-) 2.2% growth in December 2010. The cumulative growth of Cement Production was 5.3% during April-December 2011-12 compared to its 4.4% growth during the same period of 2010-11.


Electricity generation (weight: 10.32%) had a 8.0% growth in December 2011 compared to its 5.0% growth in December 2010. Electricity generation on the other hand had a cumulative growth of 9.2% during April-December 2011-12 as against its 4.7% growth during the same period of 2010-11.
Rs. 332.87 Crore Released for Green Revolution in Eastern India
Rs. 332.87 crore have been released to seven States for extending green revolution to east India in the current financial year (2011-12) as on 20.1.2012.

Rs. 400 crore have been earmarked for this sub-scheme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for this year. The programme targets improvement in the rice based cropping system in the selected States.

Eastern India with 2-3 times more rainfall compared to the Northwest States, unexploited good quality ground water aquifers, and vast resources of social capital have relative advantage for sustainable production of rice, banana, sugarcane and aquaculture. The agricultural productivity in this region is comparatively low in spite of the adequate availability of natural resources required for higher production. The scheme is aimed at increasing crop productivity of the region by intensive cultivation through promotion of recommended agricultural technologies and package of practices.

Government of Odisha conducts joint review of externally aided projects in the state

BHUBANESWAR, 30 January 2012: The Government of Odisha (GoO), today conducted a joint review of all externally aided projects with senior officials from the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) in the Ministry of Finance, and representatives from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) also made a presentation on how the state can improve its business environment, and leverage the investments from the private sector and the development potential of its entrepreneurs.

Three World Bank projects, totaling a commitment of $ 404.8 million, were reviewed. These included the Odisha Community Tank Management Project ($ 75.1 million), the Odisha State Roads Project ($ 250 million), and the Odisha Rural Livelihoods Project ($ 79.6 million). The ADB supported Odisha Integrated irrigated Agriculture and Water Management Improvement Program ($139 million)and the IFAD supported Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood program ($ 20 million) were also reviewed.

Chairing the meeting, B. K. Patnaik, Chief Secretary, Government of Odisha (GoO) said,” With preparation for the 12th plan underway, this review of the state’s externally funded projects is extremely timely. By implementing the current projects effectively and ensuring that people of Odisha receive the full benefits, we hope to attract more funds during the implementation of the new plan. Faster implementation and close monitoring will be key.”

The joint review is aimed at understanding the implementation status of these projects, to share learning, and to find solutions for issues that might be impeding progress,” said Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. “The Ministry is committed to ensure that low income states, such as Odisha, receive full support both in terms of access to external funds, as well as the knowledge and global implementation experience that accompany such loans.”
Earlier, on Sunday, the officials from DEA and the World Bank visited two projects covering water and rural finance in Cuttack and Puri districts, to review implementation, and to interact with members of the Pani Panchayats and women self help groups.
It is encouraging to see how rural communities, once empowered through partnership and training, can effectively work towards carving out a better future for themselves,” added Rajamony.The women self help groups are a part of a quiet revolution happening across India, and have the potential to bring about major changes at the grassroot level.”
Reviewing the implementation of the projects, Hubert Nove-Josserand, World Bank’s Operations Adviser in India, said,” We saw good progress in two projects we visited yesterday – the community tank management project and rural livelihoods project – especially in the area of community mobilizing and training. However, the utilization of funds needs to speed up across all projects. Implementation of the State Roads project needs substantial improvement. An eight point action plan has been identified and a team will be visiting in February to review progress on them.”
The state government has assured us that these issues will receive special attention and will be addressed on an urgent basis,” he added.
In addition to the review of the existing projects, GoO also proposed three new projects for the DEA to consider and pose to the World Bank - in water management, urban and mining sectors.
Implementation update on the three World Bank-supported projects reviewed today:
The Odisha State Roads Project: The US$ 250 million Odisha State Road Project, which was approved by the Bank in September 2008, is an important initiative by Government of Odisha. The Project aims to remove bottlenecks in selected transport corridors in the state and thereby significantly reduce transport costs for businesses and households in the project areas.
The Odisha Rural Livelihoods (Tripti) Project: The US$ 79.6 million Project aims to enhance the socio-economic status of the poor, especially women, through improved livelihoods. The Project currently reaches 990 village panchayats and over 300,000 target households in 10 districts of Odisha. Around 42,000 new Self Help Groups (SHGs) have been formed by the Project with a particular focus on the poorest women and inclusion of extremely poor households.
Odisha Community Tanks Project: The US$ 75.1 million Project aims to improve agricultural productivity and the effectiveness of water user associations to manage tank systems. The investments are for rehabilitation of tanks through civil and earth work, setting up field channels for water distribution, agriculture livelihoods promotion and capacity building of water user associations (Pani Panchayat or PP). Work has been initiated in nearly 150 tanks. Of which in 40 tanks implementation is at an advance stage. Demonstration on Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) has been taken up and women poultry vaccinators have been trained in convergence with line departments.

Shri Samir Saraff,  expresses his concern over the incidents of violence and indiscipline 

Shri Samir Saraff, Chairman, Standing Committee on Education, MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry expresses his concern over the incidents of violence and indiscipline across various colleges of West Bengal and views that in most cases these follow as a corollary of student politics to gain control of students’ union through elections. Students’ Unions are meant to aid in the core function of the colleges, i.e. to impart education to create men and women for tomorrow. But unfortunately, these bodies and the politics surrounding them end up hampering if not altogether negating this core activity. Shri Saraff opines that many meritorious teachers and students find it nearly impossible to survive in such an environment marred by continuous physical and verbal violence and indiscipline where peaceful classes are held as an exception rather as a rule and unless the situation is set right at the earliest, a generation of students will be lost as it had been in the past, causing irreparable damage to the individual, family, state and nation.

Shri Saraff says that we cannot do away with elected Students’ Union as it is neither desirable nor necessary because they can be an asset to the college and hone leadership qualities in students. The experience at St. Xavier’s College, IIT/IIM etc shows that if handled properly, these bodies can be free of violence and indiscipline and yet be of immense help in different activities of the college.

Elaborating on what needs to be done, he mentions that we should take the politics and the election process out of the campuses and into the cyber world such that nobody is allowed to indulge in any political activity like sloganeering, canvassing or putting up posters or graffiti in the college campus. It should all move to the internet by making use of designated websites, chat rooms and social networking sites. In this regard, Shri Saraff suggests that the Higher Education Department or the Higher Education Council can consider setting up dedicated website for this purpose with separate notice boards and chat rooms etc. for each college.

He also suggests that the nomination form should be available online. Completed forms should not be submitted and scrutinized in the college, but in separate location like the BDO’s office or the DSP’s office or maybe even the local Thana. After scrutiny, a list of eligible candidates should be put up on the website of the Education Department or the Higher Education Council. The college principal, teachers and website should be kept out of the election process as far as possible; otherwise they will be at the receiving end of the students’ ire.

Shri Saraff is of the opinion that voting should not take place in the college premises but in some other location and the class list along with the photographs shall help form the electoral roll. The students should be asked to carry the college identity card along with another photo ID card issued by the government like EPIC, driving license, etc. As far as possible the recommendations of the Lyngdoh committee should be followed and students with poor marks and attendance should be filtered out.

Along with these measures, a proper grievance redressal mechanism should be put in place to address the issues/complaints of the students in a time bound manner. It should also be accessible online and comprise of multiple layers in order to enable the student to escalate the complaint if he/she is not satisfied with the solutions provided by the concerned authority. In this context, it is to be noted that actual or perceived grievances of the students are taken up by student leaders of all hues and colours and used as a pretext to vitiate the academic environment by indulging in violence, sloganeering, gheraos and indiscipline. The government should also take immediate steps to appoint all vacant posts of teachers and principals in all colleges and a proper plan should be drawn to upgrade infrastructure in a time bound manner.

Shri Saraff views that if these steps are implemented after proper deliberations, West Bengal colleges shall become free of violence and the academic environment shall improve and we shall again become the preferred destination for students from all over India as we were 4 decades ago.

For this to be successful, all political parties should come together and form a consensus for the sake of the youth of the state of West Bengal in the centenary year of Swami Vivekananda.