Storm Sandy heads for US after killing 44 in Caribbean

   Miami, Oct 27,2012: After leaving 44 people dead in the Caribbean, hurricane Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm today as it inched toward the US East Coast, threatening to wreak havoc on a large slice of the country in the final week of an election campaign.    What has been dubbed Frankenstorm was expected to make landfall somewhere between Virginia and Massachusetts during the frenzied final week of campaigning in advance of the November 6 presidential, congressional and local vote.    Concern is mounting that storm damage and power outages could have a major impact on voter turnout, polling station readiness, and last-minute campaigning by President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney.    US Vice President Joe Biden cancelled an appearance today in Virginia Beach to allow officials to focus on storm preparations and Romney did the same.    Forecasters predicted the storm could collide early next week with a seasonal nor'easter weather system that would super-charge it while dragging it west on to land and hitting states such as Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and even inland Ohio.    Before then, Sandy is expected to lumber up the coast as a huge, slow-moving system while the eastern United States braces for huge tidal surges, power outages, inland flooding and even heavy snowfall on high ground far from the coast.    As emergency response teams and frightened families stocked up on essential supplies, meteorologists said Sandy could affect as much as a third of the country, from the Carolinas up to New England and as far inland as Ohio.    It is going to be a challenging storm, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate said, as officials warned it was too early to say when and where the storm would make its initial landfall.    We know somebody is going to get hit. We just cannot say who that somebody is going to be, said James Franklin, branch chief of the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC), during a telephone press conference yesterday.    Meteorologists have nicknamed the unusual confluence of weather patterns a Frankenstorm, because it will hit just before Halloween on October 31 and is composed of parts from different sources, as was Frankenstein's Monster.    The sprawling US Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia said it was sending an entire fleet of ships out to sea to get out of the way of the storm.    Further north, the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, said the city was ready for anything Sandy could throw at it, and cautioned against panic.

India, US can forge new international order, says US

Washington, Oct 27 ,2012: Calling the potential of India-US bilateral relationship as limitless, a top US official has suggested that as two of the world's leading democracies and most influential powers, they can help build a new international order."Much is possible as we deepen strategic cooperation and strengthen our economic and people-to-people ties," Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said in an address Friday to Centre for American Progress on "The United States and India: A Vital Partnership in a Changing World.""But we have to tend carefully to our partnership," he said noting "Further progress is neither automatic nor pre-ordained.""Keeping a partnership on track between two proud, noisy democracies takes vision and steady commitment," Burns said. "It's a little like riding a bike; either you keep peddling ahead, or you tend to fall over."Suggesting that "there has never been a moment when India and America mattered more to one another," he said, "And there has never been a moment when partnership between us mattered more to the rest of the globe."As two of the world's leading democracies and most influential powers, India and the US, he said, can help build a new international order.In such an order "other democracies can flourish, human dignity is advanced, poverty is reduced, trade is expanded, our environment is preserved, violent extremism is marginalized, the spread of weapons of mass destruction is curbed, and new frontiers in science and technology are explored," Burns said."That is the moment, and the promise, which lies before us."
Noting that the "promise of US-Indian partnership -- is one of those rarest of Washington species, especially ten days before a Presidential election, a genuinely bipartisan policy priority," he said: "The essence of the vital partnership that we're building lies in a simple truth.""For the first time, for both of us, our individual success at home and abroad depends significantly on our cooperation," Burns said.
Saying that progress between the two countries won't always be measured in dramatic breakthroughs,  he highlighted "three important dimensions of the work -- and the promise -- that lies ahead of us: strengthening strategic cooperation; building shared prosperity; and deepening people to people ties."

US GDP grows in third quarter

Washington, Oct 27,2012:  US gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual rate of 2 percent in the third quarter of this year, the US Commerce Department reported.The growth rate was an acceleration from 1.3 percent in the second quarter, and was slightly stronger than market expectations, reported Xinhua.The increase of the nation's real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), federal government spending, and residential fixed investment, said the department Friday.Real personal consumption expenditures rose 2 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 1.5 percent in the second quarter. Personal consumption accounted for about 70 percent of the total economic activity in the world's largest economy. Real residential fixed investment gained 14.4 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 8.5 percent in the second quarter. Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment increased 9.6 percent in the third quarter, in contrast to a decrease of 0.2 percent in the second quarter, noted the report. In the July-September period, real exports of goods and services decreased 1.6 percent, in contrast to an increase of 5.3 percent in the second quarter. The key economic numbers came less than two weeks before the Nov 6 presidential election day in the US.

New US envoy arrives in Pakistan

Islamabad, Oct 27,2012:  US Ambassador-designate to Pakistan, Richard Olson, who arrived in Islamabad Saturday, promised to "build a relationship based on mutual respect and common interests".
"I am excited to begin my work in Pakistan. I look forward to presenting my credentials to President Zardari as soon as possible and to start working with Pakistanis from all sections of society," Olson said upon his arrival, the US embassy said. He said there is tremendous potential in Pakistan and he wants to work with the people of this country "to increase economic opportunity, expand trade between our two countries, address the energy crisis, and improve the quality of education and health care for all", reported Xinhua.Olson said he wants to see as much of this beautiful country as possible and meet its talented people. Olson was sworn in by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as ambassador to Pakistan Sep 24. His previous assignment was the coordinating director for Development and Economic Affairs at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. He served as US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 t

Romney maintaining small lead over Obama: Opinion polls

 Washington, Oct 27,2012:  Ahead of the November 6 US Presidential election, Republican challenger Mitt Romney is maintaining a small lead over incumbent Barack Obama who, however, still has a narrow advantage in key battle ground states, according to opinion polls. Romney, 65, is having a lead of five points over Obama in the Gallup's rolling daily tracking, while in RealClearPolitcs he has a lead of just 0.9 point. The Washington Post-ABC poll says the Republican nominee has one point lead. However, in the key battle ground state of Ohio, Obama was leading by four points, according to CNN, which said the race here is still close. The State has 18 electoral college vote. Most polls at this moment suggest GOP nominee Romney is in the lead nationally, but surveys in the nine or so swing states are registering a narrow advantage for President Obama, said The Washington Post, which a day earlier had endorsed Obama for his second term. Mark McKinnon, who was a political strategist for former president George W Bush, told the daily that there is a 50-50 prospects of Romney carrying the popular vote but also Obama regaining the presidency by winning 270 votes or more in the electoral college. If the election were held tomorrow, it wouldn't just be a possibility, it would be actual, William A Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who also served as a policy adviser to former president Bill Clinton, told The Post. The CNN reported that Barack Obama insists he is ahead but is running like the underdog, adopting a street-fighting posture. Romney, on the other hand, seeks to make his election seem inevitable and calls Obama's campaign desperate, the news channel said. Darrell West, the vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said that while Obama has shifted to underdog status Romney is playing the role of front-runner.
 President Obama last time ran as a candidate of change. There was no incumbent, but he was all about change. This time, Mitt Romney is all about change, promising big change on the campaign trail, said CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

India-American director's 'Patang' wins Rising Star awards

 New York, Oct 27,2012:  Indian-American writer/director Prashant Bhargava and producer Jaideep Punjabi have won the South Asian Rising Star Film Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for the feature film "Patang" (The Kite).The two received the awards at a ceremony here. The jury consisted of Indian film critic Rajeev Masand, India Abroad editor Arthur Pais, singer/songwriter and Goldspot frontman Siddhartha Khosla, American actress and musician Janina Gavankar and American actor Maulik Pancholy."Patang" is one of the most critically celebrated Indian films of the year. "Patang" had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and its North American premiere in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival.The film has gone on to play at 30 film festivals worldwide and won numerous accolades including Best Feature Narrative at the Hawaii International Film Festival, Best World Narrative at the Indy Film Festival, Special Jury Award and the Best Feature Narrative at the Dc Apa Film Festival and the Special Jury Award at the Osian's Film Festival (New Delhi).Described as a poetic journey to the old city of Ahmedabad, "Patang" weaves together the stories of six people transformed by the energy of India's largest kite festival.Seven years in the making, the cast features award winning actress Seema Biswas ("Water", "Bandit Queen"), Nawazuddin Siddiqui ("Gangs Of Wasseypur", "Peepli Live", "Dev D") and Sugandha Garg ("Tere Bin Laden", "My Name is Khan", "Janne Tu Ya Janne Na").Hailed as a "masterful" filmmaker with "hypnotically beautiful visuals", "naturalistic storytelling" and a "colourfully vivid" poetic style, Prashant Bhargava stands at the leading edge of independent Indian cinema."Patang" is his feature length debut. Born and raised in Chicago, Bhargava started out as a graffiti artist. He went on to study computer science at Cornell University and theatrical directing at The Actors Studio MFA program.

US refrains from commenting on Krishna's resignation

 Washington, Oct 27 ,2012: Amid reports of Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's resignation, US refrained from expressing its views on the resignation as this has not been formally announced, the State Department said. We've seen the press reports that he's offered to resign. To my understanding, there are still ongoing discussions inside India, so we'll withhold comment until there are decisions, Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesperson said during a conference yesterday. Nuland was responding to a question on the reports of resignation of Krishna, over in the Obama Administration he had developed a personal relationship with the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Both Clinton and Krishna were instrumental in the launch of the annual India-US Strategic Dialogue. Krishna made several trips to US, the last one being in September this year to attend the General Assembly of the US, during which he met Clinton.

Indian companies created 50,000 jobs in US: Burns


 Washington, Oct 27,2012:  At a time when unemployment is a major issue in the US due to its poor economic status, Indian companies through its massive investments in America have created 50,000 jobs in the country, a top US diplomat said. Our economic relationship is very much a two way street. Both of us are focused on attracting growth and investment to our shores. Indian owned Tata factory in Ohio puts thousands of Americans to work, part of the over 50,000 jobs Indian firms have created in the US. Opportunities for small, medium and large American businesses in India are staggering, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said yesterday. Burns added that India is being projected as world's third largest economy by 2025. But 90 per cent of India is still without broadband, 80 per cent of India's infrastructure for 2030 hasn't yet been built, according to McKinsey, India plans to invest one trillion dollars on infrastructure in the next five years alone. Burns praised the recent Indian decisions with regard to next phase of economic reforms. Of course, for our companies to provide the technology and expertise to help India prosper, India's government must create an environment that encourages growth, he said. He added that India's recent easing of some restrictions on Foreign Direct Investment are promising. Indian multi-brand retail, aviation, power grid and broadcasting companies and markets will be more open to investment, technologies and best practises from all around the world. It will be easier to bring food to market. He emphasised that greater economic openness is not a concession to the US. It is one of the most powerful tools India has to maintain and expand its growth. Burn Observe that India has no more important partner than US. Total direct investment of US in India in 2000 was USD 2.4 billion which in 2010 get to USD 27 billion. During the same period Indian direct investment in America grew over USD 200 million to nearly USD 5 billion, which is more than a twenty fold increase. So we have never invested in each other's country to such extent. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley get USD 60 million in two way businesses from his India visit. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear visited India three times and bring about USD 7 billion private sector energy deal. Norfolk has a sister city alliance with Kochi in Kerala that has helped Virginia export nearly USD 300 million in goods to India each year, he said.Indian companies created 50,000 jobs in US: Burns

'Modi's potential visa request to be handled as per US laws'

 Washington, Oct 27,2012: Against the backdrop of Britain warming up to Narendra Modi after boycotting him for 10 years, the US has said it would handle the Gujarat Chief Minister's potential visa application as per its immigration laws. At the same time, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said, the United States supports the business interests of American companies in Gujarat. Well, I mean, the question has often arisen about Mr Modi's potential application for visas, for example, to come to the United States. And you know, the truth is I can't comment on individual visa applications. You know, those get handled, according to US immigration law at the time there's an application, Burns said yesterday. He was responding to questions if there has been a change in the US stance on the Gujarat Chief Minister, to whom it has been denying visa, in view of the shift in policy of the British government towards Modi. John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, had asked Burns Is it still US policy, and will it remain US policy for the time being, to maintain its cold-shoulder policy with respect to Mr Modi?
 Burns replied: With regard to Gujarat in general, you know, obviously, to, you know, come back to the question about business activity, a lot of American businesses have interests there.  We continue to support that. Obviously, there are a lot of Indian-Americans who come from Gujarat too. So there's a strong connection. But I don't have anything new to suggest with regard to personalities.
On October 11, Britain, ending a 10-year boycott of Modi imposed after the 2002 riots, had announced that it had decided to resume engagement with Gujarat. Britain's envoy to India James Bevan also met Modi recently.

Mallya rues display of wealth; takes jibe at rich politicians

 New Delhi, Oct 27,2012:  Liquor baron Vijay Mallya today said he has learnt the hard way that wealth should not be displayed in India, and that it is better to be a multi- billionaire politician in the country.
 I have learnt the hard way that in India wealth should not be displayed. (It is) Better to be a multi-billionaire politician dressed in Khadi, Mallya tweeted amid a long- continuing crisis at his UB Group's Kingfisher Airlines and his exit from the league of Indian billionaires. Yesterday, Mallya had posted on the social networking site that he was thankful to 'the Almighty' for losing his billionaire status, and hoped it would lead to less jealousy, less frenzy and (less of) wrongful attacks on him. Often referred to as 'King of Good Times', Mallya has slipped out of the billionaire league in the Forbes rich list, as bad times in his aviation business have dragged down his networth to below the USD 1 billion mark. According to the business magazine's latest list of 100 richest people in India that was published yesterday, Mallya is now ranked 73rd with a fortune of USD 800 million (about Rs 4,285 crore) -- a sharp plunge from 49th place last year with a fortune of USD 1.1 billion. Cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines, part of Mallya-led UB Group, is going through turbulent times for several months now and had to halt operations earlier this month. King of good times is having nothing but bad times lately. His (Mallya's) Kingfisher Airlines, weighed down by what is believed to be USD 2 billion in debt, had its licence suspended in mid-October... Forbes had said.Mallya is attending Formula One race at Greater Noida near the national capital, where a team part-owned by him, Sahara Force India, is participating.The UB Group Chairman further tweeted that the qualifying prospects of Sahara Force India is secondary and the focus of even sports journalists was on Kingfisher only. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Formula One venue, Mallya said: We are here to enjoy Formula One, so let's enjoy it. But I have always been available and whatever settlement has been reached (between the airline management and the employees) it's because of my participation.
 The employees of the airline, who were on strike since September 29, agreed to resume work on the management's promise to clear three months dues before Diwali.
 During the entire impasse, agitating employees had demanded his presence and even threatened to stage protest at the venue of Formula One race. If they wanted to say something to me they could have come to my house. What is the point of coming here? There is no question of any disturbance or protest, Mallya said.

American Youths support Obama: Kal Penn

 Washington, Oct 27,2012:  There is a lot of enthusiasm and support for President Barack Obama among American youths, Indian-American actor Kal Penn has said. Entrusted with the task of mobilising the youths of the country, Penn said, I think when you're looking at social media, even if you're looking at something as simple as how many follow the president on Twitter versus Governor Romney (Mitt), obviously it's not going to be a reflection of how folks vote, but I think it is a reflection of the young people's trends.  Pen, who has travelled to more than 16 battleground states, said that there was a lot of enthusiasm and support for Obama among the youths of the country. Led by Penn, the Obama campaign is targeting the young voters of the country.

US supports modernisation of Indian army, navy

 Washington, Oct 27,2012:  The US has come out in strong support of modernisation efforts of Indian army and navy, calling it a good investment as India contributes to peacekeeping across the world and stability of Asia-Pacific. We would certainly have an interest in security and stability across the Asia-Pacific region, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said. His remarks came in response to a question after he delivered his remarks on 'The United States and India: A Vital Relationship in a Changing World' at the Center for American Progress. Burns' statement in support of Indian military modernisation assume significance as they have come at a time when the United States has expressed its concerns about the modernisation of the Chinese military and navy and sought more transparency on the part of Beijing in this regard. ... whether it's China or India or the United States, looking out over the next few years, each of us obviously have a lot of very important domestic priorities to sort through in terms of economic modernisation ...and that gives us, I think, a common interest in a stable external environment, he said. And what that means is that each of the key players across the region can make security contributions to that to ensure, for example, that maritime commerce is preserved. So that's why the modernisation of the Indian navy or the Indian military in general is a good investment, I think, in that kind of stable Asia-Pacific, Burns said. It is a good investment in India's contributions to peacekeeping around the world and its ability to respond to disasters or catastrophes that occur, he said.
 And so for all those reasons we think it's in our interest to deepen that defence partnership with India, he said in response to another question. The only other thing I'd add is that I think it's important to measure it not just in terms of defence sales -- you know, we've done about USD8 billion worth of sales in recent years; I think we could easily double that over the next few years -- but the reality is that what we also want to do is look at areas like co-production and co-development, joint research, so that we build a defence partnership that goes beyond -- important as they are -- defence sales, Burns said.

Vettel storms to second straight pole at Indian GP

Greater Noida(Newdelhi), Oct 27,2012: Very few would bet against Sebastian Vettel winning the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix again. The defending champion was the fastest in qualifying here Saturday to go with his dominance in free practice.Vettel's best lap of 1:25.283 was enough for the 35th pole position of his career. Mark Webber secured a Red Bull front row with 1:25.435.McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will start the race from the second row while Vettel's championship rival Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and teammate Felipe Massa will line-up fifth and sixth.Vettel's flying lap towards the end of Q3 was 0.6 of a second faster than his morning effort. He had topped both practice sessions Friday.Despite his sheer dominance, Vettel was modest about his chances in the race."You know the races these days. Anything can happen despite the pole. But still very happy with the result. I have liked the circuit from day one. The conditions were much better than last year's qualifying," said Vettel, who won the inaugural Indian Grand Prix from pole.Significantly, Vettel's timing in Q3 is more than a second slower than last year, when he clocked 1:24.178.Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) completed the top 10.It was a disappointing outing for Sahara Force India with Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta setting the 12th and 16th fastest time at their home race.
Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes also missed the cut.
Narain Karthikeyan, the lone Indian on the grid, finished 0.001 seconds behind teammate Pedro de la Rosa.
The other drivers relegated in Q1 were Jean Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Vitaly Petrov (Caterham), Heiki Kovalainen (Caterham), Timo Glock and Charles Pic (Marussia).
Interestingly, Maldonado pipped Vettel to be fastest in Q1.

Daly tops in MRF race

Greater Noida, Oct 27,2012:  Conor Daly scored a lights-to-flag victory in Round 1 of the MRF Challenge, a support event for the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit here Saturday.Conor charged off the start line from his second place grid position, out-dragging pole-sitter Jordan King to the first corner. He then held on to his position for a well-deserved win.Conor arrived in India early Friday morning, direct from a World Series test in Barcelona and after just three hours of sleep, left for the circuit to make his seat in time for the single 30 minute free practice session at noon.Later in the afternoon, after a short 30-minute nap on the sofa in MRF hospitality, he put the car on second place for the grid of Race 1.The reigning FIA Formula 2 champion Akshay Luciano Bacheta, who recorded the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:56.670 seconds, took third place in the nine-lap race which was a very close battle between the top three.Alice Powell and Jon Lancaster battled hard for fourth and fifth places. Powell found a way past Lancaster mid-way through the race, and then holding the position until the chequered flag.Parthiva Sureshwaren and Ashwin Sundar were the only two Indian racers in the field after Parth Ghorpade had an electrical malfunction on his car just minutes before the race started, causing a short circuit in his cars electrical system. Sureshwaren finished ahead of Sundar in seventh after another race long battle.Race 2 of the MRF Challenge will be held Sunday morning. Jordan King will once again start the race from pole position, ahead of Jon Lancaster, Matthew Mason, Bacheta and Powell while Daly will start in sixth place.

Nobel Memorial Wall at two Metro stations

 New Delhi, Oct 27,2012:  Want to know about Nobel Laureates from India? Walk into Rajiv Chowk and Noida City Centre Metro stations before November 2. The Embassy of Sweden and the Delhi Metro jointly inaugurated 'The Nobel Memorial Wall' at these stations to spread awareness about all the Nobel Laureates from India. The Indian Nobel Laureates are being honoured as a part of the sixth edition of The Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week and a initiative undertaken by the DMRC. DMRC chief Mangu Singh and Swedish Ambassador to India Harald Sandberg unveiled the Nobel Wall. It is a matter of pride for us to host the Nobel Memorial Wall with the Embassy of Sweden to honour our Nobel laureates. The contributions of our Nobel laureates have given India recognition all over the world, Singh said. I would like to thank DMRC for partnering with us in this initiative, Sandberg said. The Nobel Memorial Wall will have portraits of the seven Nobel Laureates from India -- Rabindranath Tagore, C V Raman, Dr Hargobind Khorana, Mother Teresa, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Amartya Sen and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan. It also provide details about their contribution to society and a panel each on Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prizes.

Prince Charles' wife Camilla in Bangalore for holistic healing

Bangalore, Oct 27,2012:  Prince Charles' wife Camilla Parker-Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, today arrived here for a week-long holistic healing session. The Duchess of Cornwall, along with ten others, arrived at the Bengaluru International Airport at 4.30 am and checked into Dr Issac Mathai's Soukhya Holistic Health Centre in Whitefield where she would stay till Novevmber 2, police said. Camilla will undergo several ayurveda and naturopathy procedures like yoga, mud therapy and hydro-therapy and will be on a South Indian vegetarian organic diet, they said. Dr Mathai has been a health adviser for the British royal family for the past two years. Soukhya practises different systems of medicine like ayurveda, naturopathy, homoeopathy, yoga and other therapies on an organic farm.

Reward for missing Indian toddler increased to 50,000

 Washington, Oct 26,2012:  The reward for information on a kidnapped Indian toddler in the US has been increased to USD 50,000 as investigators look for clues to find the 10-month old girl who went missing early this week. The reward is being offered by the Telugu Association of North America, the Citizens Crime Commission of the Delaware Valley, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office and the Upper Merion Township Police Department for information leading to the safe return of Saanvi Venna. On Wednesday, the authorities had announced an award of USD 30,000. Saanvi Venna was kidnapped by unknown kidnappers in a Philadelphia township on Monday morning, and her grandmother Satyavathi Venna, 61, was killed. Pennsylvania State Police has issued an Amber Child Abduction Alert. According to District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, the body of Satyavathi Venna, the paternal grandmother of Saanvi, was discovered inside the apartment. She was babysitting the child. The grandmother had arrived in the US from Indian in July 2012 and was scheduled to return home in January 2013. The parents of the child Venkata Konda Siva Venna and Chenchu Latha Punuru emigrated from India in February 2007 and have previously lived in San Antonio Texas, Troy Michigan, and Cleveland Ohio. In June this year, they moved to King of Prussia in Pennsylvania.

SBI opens seventh branch in South Africa


 Johannesburg, Oct 26,2012:  The State Bank of India (SBI) has opened its seventh branch in South Africa in the Laudium area, near Pretoria, as it seeks to expand services to locals and expatriates. At the inauguration of the new branch, Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta said South Africa is seen as a launchpad for investment into Africa and most of the big business houses of India have set up business here. The increasing trade between South Africa and India, growing political and economic ties between the two nations and the admission of South Africa into the BRICS community of nations has provided the impetus for SBI's expansion in South Africa, Gupta said. SBI's presence in South Africa started with establishment of the Johannesburg branch in March 1996, followed by the opening of the Durban Branch later that year, SBI Regional Head (Africa) M G Vaidyan, who was also present at the inauguaration ceremony, said. At present, SBI has six offices in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Lenasia, Chatsworth and Port Elizabeth, he added. He said SBI's policy in South Africa focuses on recruitment of local talent, capacity building through intensive training and all round personality development. SBI's banking presence in the African continent, apart from South Africa, extends to Mauritius, Nigeria, Egypt and Angola. SBI is also in the process of setting up its subsidiary bank in Botswana and is keenly looking to expand to other growing economies of the continent, Vaidyan said.

American Ami Bera sees victory chances go up

Washington, Oct 26,2012:  Having bagged the endorsement of former US president Bill Clinton, Indian American Democratic Congressional candidate from California, Ami Bera appears to have moved closer to victory. The independent Center for Politics at the University of Virginia moved his seat (California 7th Congressional District) from a tossup to a Lean Democratic which means that Bera has now greater chances of winning the seat by defeating the incumbent Dan Lungren of Republican Party. If there is one state where Republican House chances appear to be slipping, it's in heavily Democratic California, which is why we've added Representatives Dan Lungren (R, CA-7) and Jeff Denham (R, CA-10) to Representative Brian Bilbray (R, CA-52) in the 'leans Democratic' column, meaning we believe all three incumbents are underdogs in their battles to return to Congress, the Center for Politics said in its report yesterday. This new ranking comes as a further boost to Bera's campaign, which early this month was endorsed by Clinton and the popular daily newspaper Sacramento Bee from California. In the third quarter ending September 30, Bera added more than USD 731,000 to his campaign funds, and dramatically outraising his opponent Dan Lungren by more than USD 223,000. Bera, whose parents migrated to the United States from India over 50 years ago, has now successfully outraised Lungren for 12 out of the last 13 quarters and netted almost USD 2.7 million this cycle. Along with Bera, a record number of six Indian American candidates are in fray for the US House of Representatives. The other five are Upendra Chivukula from New Jersey, Ricky Gill and Jack Uppal from California, Manan Trivedi from Pennsylvania and Syed Taj from Michigan. Gill, the only Republican Indian American in the fray, according to political analysts too appears poised to make an upset victory over the three-time Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney. Insiders on both sides of the aisle agree that Gill has become a serious threat to McNerney. Democrats are scratching their heads in disbelief over the development, while Republicans are simply happy with the situation, political analyst Stuart Rothenberg wrote in the Roll Call newspaper listing it as one of the four possible upset Congressional seats for the November 6 elections. He raised USD 2.3 million during the campaign, as against less than USD 2 million of McNerney. According to another poll in Michigan, Indian American candidate, Syed Taj, a doctor, performed unexpectedly better considering that he is contesting from a Republican bastion. In the new polling released this week by pollster Mark Grebner of Practical Political Consulting, Taj received 47 per cent of the vote compared to 53 per cent for his Republican opponent Kerry Bentivolio. The poll's margin of error is five per cent. In the Rasmussen tracking, Taj is trailing behind by eight per cent. If recent polls are of any indication, Trivedi in Pennsylvania has a lot of round work to do to stop incumbent Jim Geralch from his fifth term in the Congress. In a Monmouth University survey Gerlach is having a comfortable 10-percentage-point edge over Trivedi, 54 per cent to 44 per cent. In the third quarter ending September 30, Trivedi, an Iraq War veteran and primary care physician, raised over USD 437,000 compared to Gerlachs's USD 333,000. In New Jersey, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) recently named the 7th Congressional district race to their candidate's list of emerging races, where Indian American Upendra Chivukula is giving a tough fight to his opponent the Republican incumbent Leonard Lance. Chivukula has been the Assembly's Deputy Speaker since 2007. The weakest of the six Indian American candidate is Jack Uppal, who is contesting from the 4th Congressional District in California, pitted against Republican incumbent Tom McClintock. This week he started running new a television commercial advertisement. Uppal has charged that McClintock's bad record on Medicare is one of the chief reasons the incumbent has refused to debate him, and has turned down all offers, including one made by the impartial League of Women Voters, to meet Uppal on the debate stage.

Indians more racially targeted now than other Asians in Aus

 Melbourne, Oct 26,2012:  Indians are now the focus of racist attacks in Australia than in the past when people from east Asian descent were the primary targets, a major social survey has found. The targets of racism in Australia have changed  the Indian community is now most often singled out rather than people of east Asian descent in the past, despite official attempts in recent years to calm anger over a spate of attacks on Indian students, researchers found, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.. According to the survey, only 12.2 per cent Australians had very positive feelings towards the Indian immigrants in 2012 whereas 4.7 per cent had very negative feelings towards them. Last year only 3.8 per cent people had admitted being very negative about the Indian community. The findings show Sydney is home to a higher percentage of people born overseas than Melbourne, but they are typically poorer and concentrated in fewer suburbs than those in the southern state. The stocktake of attitudes towards immigrants in Australia's two largest cities offers a rare and fascinating insight into the community's experience of a growing national population  up 3 million in the past decade, a figure that includes births as well as the migrant intake. The survey findings also warned of broader problems creeping into immigrant neighbourhoods in both cities, with people born in Australia more likely to feel vulnerable in their homes than those of non-English-speaking backgrounds. The research is built on data collected over several years by Monash University, backed by the Scanlon Foundation and the Australian Multicultural Foundation. The extensive surveys, drawing on a sample of 15,000 people, also delves into the fears and aspirations right across the country  with the economy, the quality of politicians, and boats ferrying asylum seekers ranked as the three most serious problems facing Australia. Many immigrants are actually more positive about Australia than the Australian-born because their reference point is where they come from, study author, Andrew Markus, told The Age. Attacks on Indians have escalated in Australia in the past few years with nearly 100 such cases reported in 2009 as against 17 incidents of assaults in 2008.

India, China trade expected to touch USD 100 bln by 2015

  New Delhi, Oct 26,2012:  India today exuded confidence of achieving the USD 100-billion bilateral trade target set with China by 2015 and hoped the issue of New Delhi's widening trade deficit with Beijing will be addressed. The target of USD 100-billion bilateral trade would not be difficult to achieve by 2015, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Asit Tripathy said.
He said both nations should strive to attain a sustainable balanced trade, which is currently in favour of China. Tripathy was speaking at the inauguration of the India Show  in Beijing, where more than 80 Indian automobile companies are participating. The exhibition is being organised by CII in association with Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Indian Embassy in Beijing at the China International Auto parts Expo, which is in progress, CII said in a statement. Besides, CII has sent a 19-member business delegation to China to discuss ways to strengthen trade and investment ties between the two countries.
 In 2011-12, the bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 75.45 billion. While India's exports were at USD 17.90 billion, imports stood at USD 57.55 billion. Thus, the trade deficit between the two nations stood at USD 39.65 billion in favour of China.
 Indian Ambassador to China, S Jaishankar, said the economic cooperation between India and China in the last decade has been a remarkable story.
 While this is heartening, it has posed its own challenges in terms of a trade deficit, which is difficult to sustain or to defend. Market access for Indian companies (in China) is a major concern..., he said.
 Also, he said, a number of Chinese auto manufacturers are contemplating projects in India.
 CII President Designate S Gopalakrishnan said Indian companies, operating in areas like manufacturing and IT, are also investing in China.
 He added that more than 200 Indian companies are currently present in China. These companies apart from tapping the domestic market have been using China as their base to produce for other markets.

Rajaratnam seeks reversal of conviction


 New York, Oct 26,2012:  Imprisoned hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam is seeking reversal of his conviction on insider trading charges, arguing that the government mislead the court by providing misrepresentations and material omissions in seeking permission to wiretap his phones to build its case against him. Rajaratnam's appeal against his conviction comes a day after a federal judge sentenced his friend and business associate Indian-American Rajat Gupta to two years imprisonment for leaking boardroom secrets to him. The Sri Lankan is currently serving an 11 year prison term after being convicted last year of running one of the biggest insider trading scams in US history. A ruling on Rajaratnam's appeal is expected in the next few months. His lawyer Patricia Millett told a panel of federal appeals court judges here yesterday that the government violated his constitutional right to privacy and federal law on wiretaps by providing incomplete information to authorising judge Gerard Lynch in seeking permission to wiretap his phones. Rajaratnam's lawyers said the government made a long pattern of falsities, misleading misrepresentations and material omissions to Lynch, a district court judge in 2008, when it sought authorisation to wiretap his mobile phone. Millett said the law requires that federal authorities should first exhaust all other conventional investigative procedures, like interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents, before seeking authorization to secretly record telephone conversations. The government has to prove that it tried all other options to collect information against a defendant but failed before it is allowed the use of wiretaps. Millett said the government had failed to disclose to Lynch that the Securities and Exchange Commission was conducting a parallel civil investigation against Rajaratnam for over a year on insider trading. This lack of disclosure showed a reckless disregard for the truth and had misled Lynch in making his decision. Millett asked the appeals court to suppress the wiretaps that prosecutors had used at Rajaratnam's trial, a move that could mean the government would have to retry Rajaratnam without the dozens of phone calls in which he is heard swapping confidential information about publicly traded companies. The FBI had recorded more than 2,000 calls between Rajaratnam and 130 business associates, friends and family over nine months. The government used that evidence to build its case against him and won his conviction after a two-month jury trial in May last year.

Higher education: US University fair on Nov 3

New Delhi, Oct 26,2012:  The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) will organise a 'US University Fair' here on November 3 for students desirous to pursue higher studies in America. Representatives from over 50 US universities will participate in the fair and will provide detailed information about their programmes ranging from undergraduate, graduate and doctorate level. USIEF is committed to helping Indian students find accredited US universities that are the best fit for their academic and professional needs and goals. We welcome Indian students to obtain genuine and relevant advice from us through these fairs, which have gained tremendous popularity over the years, USIEF executive director Adam J Grotsky said. The fair is being organised in partnership with the Institute of International Education. It is being held a few months after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while addressing the US-India Higher Education Dialogue, had emphasised the importance of greater cooperation between the two countries in the field of higher education. Organisers said the education fair is an important part of the US government's effort to make trustworthy and reliable information available to prospective Indian students. They said the fair will provide students with the unique opportunity to get accurate, comprehensive and current information on various programs offered by the attending universities and specific information on the entire admission cycle. Students can also meet with admissions officers and get reliable information about their programmes of interest, standardised tests and financial aid. A consular officer from the US Embassy will familiarise students with the student visa process.

IT consultant killed in a freak accident, inquest told


 London, Oct 26,2012:  A 48-year-old NRI IT consultant was crushed to death by his own car after his seven-year-old son accidentally released the handbrake while looking for sweets, an inquest into the six month old incident has heard. According to a report in the Daily Mail, Pratik Pandya tried to stop the car containing his boy rolling away when he was killed on his driveway. He suffered abdominal injuries and a deep cut to his left leg when the VW Touran pinned him against a wall outside the family home in west London. Pandya died two days later in hospital after three operations to try to stop internal bleeding. He was preparing to go shopping with his son and his accountant wife when tragedy struck on May 5 this year. According to the report, Pandya spotted the car rolling away as he went inside the semi-detached house to collect something, and rushed outside to try to stop it. His young son had accidentally released the handbrake while looking for sweets. He was taken to West Middlesex University Hospital around 45 minutes after the crash after complaining of back and arm pain. He was rushed into surgery where three litres of blood from internal injuries was removed, and it was discovered his colon had been severely damaged. His condition deteriorated despite undergoing three operations for internal bleeding and died on May 7, two days after being admitted to hospital. The coroner said no one is to blame for Pandya's death after hearing it was unlikely the handbrake of the people carrier had been released accidentally. It is not for me to say, but it is not apparent there is anyone to blame for this, especially Pandya's young son. It is plain to me, very strongly, that this was an accident. It is not something someone could have prevented, it was untoward, she said. Recording a verdict of accidental death, Pygott said in trying to prevent his car from rolling backwards down the front drive on to the road, he became trapped between the driver's door of the car and a brick pillar at the top of the drive. This caused severe internal injuries which were not amenable to treatment, she said. She recorded the cause of death was haemorrhaging and internal abdominal injuries.

Indian Cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, will Rahul be inducted?

   New Delhi, Oct 25,2012:  The Union Council of Ministers is likely to undergo a substantive reshuffle which could see the possible induction of Rahul Gandhi into the Cabinet along with some other new faces and the exit of a few ministers.   The changes, expected to take place on Sunday, could also witness ministers holding more than one portfolio shed their extra responsibilities, according to political sources.
   It is no no secret that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keen to have  Rahul Gandhi inducted into his Cabinet but so far the young MP was not not inclined as he was focused on building the Congress organisation, especially the youth wing.
   Another proposal making the rounds is that Gandhi may be elevated from being a General Secretary to the revived post of Working President.   Road and Transport Minister C P Joshi may shed his additional responsibility of Railways while External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's continuance is a subject of considerable speculation amidst indication that he may be shifted to Karnataka where Assembly polls are due before next May.
   Gandhi may have indicated to the prime minister when he met him on Oct 17 that he is willing to join the Cabinet and take a portfolio like Rural Development that touches the lives of people  ahead of the 2014 elections. The Congress is said to be working on more measures to reach the 'aam aadmi' (common man) on the lines of the NREG scheme which had paid rich dividends to the party in the last elections.
  A number of names is being considered for External Affairs portfolio which includes Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Salman Khurshid, who have not not have exactly helped his case by his handling of the issue of allegations against the trust run by him and his wife.
  Younger ministers like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia are likely to be promoted and may get independent portfolios.
  There has been speculation about a reshuffle in the Cabinet for quite some time now, especially after the exit of Trinamool Congress ministers both at the levels of Cabinet and Ministers of State levels.
  There have been berths vacated by DMK representatives A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran in the last two years after their names cropped in the 2G scam.  However, DMK President M Karunanidhi had recently made clear that his party will not not like to reclaim their lost berths.
  Today also  Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy met Karunanidhi at his residence in Chennai, his third in a month.  There was no no official word on what transpired.Congress sources said that the reshuffle and induction could be largely from the party. There is also speculation that some young faces, considered close to Rahul, like Manicka Tagore and Meenakshi Natarajan could be inducted into the council of ministers.  HRD Minister  Kapil Sibal (Telecom),  Road and Transport Minister C P Joshi (Railways),  Law Minister Salman Khurshid (Minority Affairs)  and Corporate Affairs Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily (Power) and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi (MSME, S and T and Earth Sciences).
  With six ministers from TMC leaving, two to three Congress leaders from West Bengal are expected to be accommodated. The names of Deepa Dashmunshi and Adhir Choudhury, known detractors of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and West Bengal PCC chief Pradeep Bhatacharjee are doing the rounds.
  With the death of Vilasrao Deshmukh, there is a vacancy for a cabinet minister from Maharashtra.
  Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaisawal have come under attack from the Opposition on the coal block allocation issue.
 Changes in the government and the party could be taking place in tandem as there is a possibility that some of the ministers would be drafted for party work, sources said.

Reform initiatives to be showcased in Indo-Mauritius biz meet

New Delhi, Oct 25,2012:  Government will project latest wave of reform initiatives to woo investment from Mauritius at a meeting tomorrow with industry leaders and Indian-origin businessmen in Port Louis. The India-Mauritius Business Round Table is being organised jointly by the Government of India and the Government of Mauritius in association with the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC). Mauritius is the top source of FDI in India, accounting for nearly 45 per cent of the total foreign investment. Around 200 business leaders from Mauritius are expected to participate in the Round Table besides representatives of CII and FICCI. The business round-table aims to bring together and facilitate the business leaders and the vibrant Indian diaspora, forge trade ties and explore investment linkages with each other, Chief Executive Officer of OIFC, Sujata Sudarshan said. The Round Table is being held a day ahead of the commencement of the two-day mini Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) in Port Louis. The mini PBD is being organised by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to showcase India's colourful culture and traditions and to strengthen engagement with the overseas Indian community in the country. Regional PBD conventions provides a unique platform for overseas Indians to interact with the Government of India. The Government of India will showcase investment opportunities in India and its potential in various sectors, Sudarshan said. OIFC, a not-for-profit, public-private-partnership between the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry and the CII, was established in 2007 with the objective of helping the Indian diaspora connect better with India and to assist them in deepening their economic and intellectual engagement with India.

Indian, American navies carrying out joint drill

New Delhi, Oct 25,2012:  For the first time, navies of India and the US are carrying out joint drill to save sailors stuck in submarines during mid-sea mishaps off the coast of Mumbai in an exercise codenamed INDIAEX 2012. The three-week-long exercise between the two countries started on October 19 and is scheduled to get over by November 13 in which cooperation between the US submarine rescue system and Indian submarines is being demonstrated, Navy officials said here. Four Indian submarines are taking part in the exercise with the US Navy's Undersea Rescue Command to practice rescue scenarios using the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System, they said. These vessels can be used to rescue sailors stuck in submarines such as the Russian nuclear powered submarine Kursk, which lost all its personnel when it sank in the Barents sea in 2000. Under the drill, the US equipment will be tagged with Indian submarines for transferring personnel from the simulated distressed under-water vessel to the rescue vessel. This is the first exercise of its kind between the two sides which have so far been practising joint operations under the UN mandate in the Malabar series of joint drills. India, which operates more than 10 submarines of various kinds, is also planning to acquire submarine rescue vessels but efforts in this direction have not been successful so far.

About quarter of babies in Britain are born to immigrant mums

 London, Oct 25,2012:  Nearly a quarter of infants born in Britain are the children of immigrant mothers, with women from Poland, Pakistan and India holding the top three positions. There were 808,000 births in the UK last year, of which 196,000 - or 24.3 per cent - were children of women born outside Britain, according to the latest data. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows there has been a steady increase in the number of children born to mothers who were born abroad since 2001, when the figure stood at 15.3 per cent. Polish women, who live in Britain, gave birth to around 23,000 children last year while Pakistani women had 19,200 babies and Indian women 15,500 children in the same period, The Sun tabloid reported today. Four in 10 children born to immigrant mothers were delivered in London. Half were born in other parts of England, and just one in 10 was born in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland combined. The ONS said that fertility rates for non-UK born women are higher than those born in Britain.

Virgin to resume Mumbai-London flight from Sunday

 New Delhi, Oct 25,2012:  With a rebound in India-UK-US passenger traffic, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways would re-launch its Mumbai-London flight from Sunday after three years, with convenient onward connections to New York and Washington. The airline, which had closed down Mumbai operations 3 years ago but continued to fly out of Delhi, would launch its Mumbai services from October 28 with a wide-body Airbus SAS A330, of which Virgin is due to receive six this year, Virgin's officials said. Branson and Virgin's Chief Executive Officer Steve Ridgway are currently in India. Virgin would not only connect Mumbai to London but its daily flights would also offer easy connectivity from London Heathrow to New York, Boston, Miami and Washington, with only a couple of hours of stop-over, officials said. The aircraft would feature the new Upper Class service, including a new onboard bar and long flat-bed seats and the flight would be staffed by a mix of Indian and British crew. The announcement of launch of Virgin's flight comes at a time when some of the bigger international carriers like American Airlines and Qantas withdrew flights from the Indian market. Virgin flights from New Delhi to London and New York have seen a growth of 20 per cent last year. Over a million passengers have flown Mumbai-London-US sector since Virgin stopped operating from Mumbai, which justified the resumption of Mumbai flights, officials said.

Software engineer, jailed in Pak for 5 yrs, returning tomorrow

 Mumbai, Oct 25,2012: Mumbai-based software engineer Bhavesh Parmar, who claimed to have inadvertently crossed to Pakistan in 2007 by Samjhauta Express while suffering from depression, and who was jailed in that country for five years, would be returning here tomorrow. Parmar will arrive in Mumbai tomorrow afternoon, Vile Parle MLA Krishna Hegde, who helped his family to take up the matter of his repatriation with Indian and Pakistan governments, said. He was handed over to us after completion of necessary formalities at the border today, Hegde, who is accompanying Parmar, told PTI. We will reach Delhi tomorrow morning and take an afternoon flight to Mumbai, the Congress legislator added.
 32-year-old Parmar, a resident of suburban Vile Parle, crossed over to India at the Attari-Wagah border check post today, and was received by his mother Hansa Kanti and Hegde. After spending five years in detention in Pakistan's Kot Lakhpat Jail at Lahore, Bhavesh was given `Emergency Travel Certificate' by Indian High Commission in Islamabad to enable him to return to India.

Rajat Gupta --a corporate honcho's stunning fall from grace


New York, Oct 25,2012:  From India Inc's Wall Street poster boy to being reduced to a convict in one of the biggest insider trading cases in the US, Rajat Gupta's stunning fall from grace has been improbable. Gupta, 63, today was handed down a two-year prison term by US District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, who also ordered him to pay a USD 5 million fine. He was also ordered to serve a year of supervised release after the end of his prison term. The rise and fall of 63-year-old Gupta, who went from being one of the most successful India-born businessmen in the US to being called deceptive and dishonest after his conviction on insider trading charges, has been the stuff of legends. The Diwali of 2011 saw Gupta surrender himself before the FBI after charges of insider trading were filed against him by Manhataan's top federal prosecutor India-born Preet Bharara. Born in Maniktala in Kolkata, Gupta is the son of a freedom fighter-turned-journalist father and school teacher mother. An orphaned Gupta, who came to Harvard Business School on a scholarship after completing his B-Tech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Delhi, charted an enviable career graph for himself. Following initial years of struggle after his parents' untimely death, Gupta topped his class at Harvard and applied for a position at McKinsey, but was turned down for lack of business experience. After a professor personally intervened with the then head of McKinsey, Gupta joined its New York office in 1973. In just over 20 years, he rose to the position of global head of the company, becoming the first ever India-born CEO of a US international corporation. Gupta's rise through the ranks of Corporate America was stellar with enviable posts like board seats at Goldman Sachs and Procter and Gamble, co-founder of the prestigious Indian School of Business, adviser to the executive leadership of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as also the United Nations dotting his resume. Gupta was also a director of the AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines. The Rockefeller Foundation appointed him a trustee; he was named special adviser on management reform to then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and additionally served on the UN Commission on the Private Sector and Development and was co-chairman of the United Nations Association of America. He was hailed as a poster-boy of Indians scaling great heights in corporate echelons abroad and his friends described him as a god-fearing, first-class guy. However, after a stellar career that was 40 years in the making, it took only one year for Gupta's downfall. He was slapped with insider trading charges on October 26 last year and the shine and honour that had become synonymous with Gupta's name began eroding after the FBI arrested him. A US court held Gupta guilty in June this year of providing insider information to Galleon hedge fund founder and friend Raj Rajaratnam, in one of America's biggest insider trading cases. Gupta's downfall began when his billionaire friend Rajaratnam, a Sri Lankan, was charged by federal prosecutors of running one of the biggest insider trading scams in US history. Gupta had met Rajaratnam through another Indian-American McKinsey partner and ISB co-founder Anil Kumar. Rajaratnam had made an anonymous contribution of a million dollars to ISB and in 2006, Gupta and Rajaratnam served as founding partners of a private equity fund called New Silk Route. Gupta became the Chairman of the fund with a large ownership stake. The two became friends and occasionally had lunch together. However, federal prosecutors, who had Rajaratnam on their radar, used wiretaps and listened in on telephone conversations between Gupta and Rajaratnam as the two talked about boardroom discussions. A July 29, 2008 telephone conversation between Gupta and Rajaratnam provides an extraordinary window into Gupta's state of mind and willingness to breach his duties to please Rajaratnam, prosecutors have said.

Mallya loses billionaire tag; networth down to $800 mn

 New York, Oct 25,2012:  Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, often referred to as 'King of good times', has lost his billionaire tag as bad times in his aviation business have dragged down his networth to below the USD 1 billion mark. According to Forbes magazine's India rich list released today, Mallya is now ranked 73rd with a fortune of USD 800 million (about Rs 4,285 crore), a sharp plunge from 49th place last year with a fortune of USD 1.1 billion. However, Mallya ranks well above Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways, who has been ranked by Forbes at 94th position with a fortune of USD 600 million. King of good times is having nothing but bad times lately. His (Mallya's) Kingfisher Airlines, weighed down by what is believed to be USD 2 billion in debt, had its license suspended in mid-October after it apparently failed to address Indian regulator's concerns about its ability to operate, the magazine said. Moreover, the airline hasn't paid staff in seven months and now is offering three months salary but staff wants more and has asked to hear from Mallya directly. ...the tycoon, who has pledged a chunk of his shares, is believed to be trying to sell his stake in his liquor company, United Spirits, to Diageo to help pay off the airline's debts. He has already sold part of his stake in his Formula One team. He owns a cricket team and millions worth of Gandhi memorabilia, Forbes said. The magazine said the networth is based on shareholding and financial information from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and India's regulatory agencies. The fortune is calculated on the basis of stock prices and exchange rates information available as of October 12, it added.

Giving Indian language writers their place under the sun

New Delhi, Oct 25,2012: Come November and Delhi will turn into an intellectual delight for readers who like to immerse their souls into the rustic writings of India and its multiple languages. A festival that celebrates Indian writings and their very own Shakespeares and Spencers is returning to the capital for a second time, a year after it debuted and charmed its way into the hearts of many people. A 'Samanvay' of Indian diversity, the festival will bring together a host of literary figures who will not only discuss the trends in the world of Indian languages, but interestingly also focus deeply on the significance of our dialects. Those in attendance include luminaries like Hindi doyen Ashok Vajpeyi, Malayalam great K Satchidanandan, Rajasthani writer-poet Arjun Deo Charan, and several others like Sitanshu Yashaschandra, Arun Kamal and Alok Rai among others. While a lot is written and discussed in elite circles and the media about the trends and currents in English writing, Indian languages generally struggle for space and visibility. So do the writers of regional languages. By giving them a central space, this festival aims to bridge this gap. Our focus is to connect literature to the masses but concentrate on Indian languages which are producing writers of great calibre, who are unfortunately not getting the right kind of visibility and attention, festival curator Satyanand Nirupam told PTI in the middle of hectic arrangements for the three-day event beginning November 2. It is not that we have any bitterness towards writers in English or their work. Our effort is to make sure that as we recognise works of art and literature, the justifiable pride we take in our own languages which have a very rich heritage, should not be forgone, he said. The marginalisation of Indian language writers is not the only undercurrent that runs through the festival and its raison de'tre. The value of dialects that are losing hold in a fast urbanising society is another theme that finds resonance. The festival, that is hosted by the India Habitat Centre, revolves this year around the theme of 'Boli-BaniBhasha' or the interconnectedness between languages and its dialects, which are aplenty in India. Last year, our focus was on Indian literature. This time we are taking it ahead to its roots, its components and the forms of its expression, its dialects, Nirupam said. In a country as large as India, for every given language, at any given time, there are different trends and currents that can be identified in its writings.While social churnings can become a major driving force behind writings in one region, violence and tumult can become the theme of another language, and the festival has been planned to acknowledge the themes the different Indian languages are revolving around. So while a session on Manipuri language will discuss the 'Idea of a Nation' from the perspective of Manipuri writers, the session featuring Kashmiri will come to talk about what writers in the language have to say about their world, at a time when the Kashmiri reality is represented in the national mainstream through writings in English. Another session featuring Marathi language will revolve around Mumbai and its identity as 'The City of No Outsiders' as seen in the writings emerging from the metropolis. In the next 10 years, we want to take this festival to every state so that people start recognising it as their own. We will in the coming years also try to touch and bring to the discussion table the dialects that are under the threat of being wiped out, he said. India's only Nobel prize in literature, Rabindranth Tagore's 'Gitanjali', has come for a work in an Indian language (Bengali). Another great artist of this calibre might well be waiting for attention and translation.

Mamata painting auctioned in New York for USD 3000

 Kolkata, Oct 25,2012:  Purple flowers on a bed of green leaves in acrylic and oil on canvas by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been auctioned in New York for USD 3000 dollars, her first painting to be sold abroad. With a reserved price of USD 2500, five bids were made before the painting titled 'Flower Power' was sold at 3000 USD to Sundaram Tagore Gallery, a spokesperson of the US-based NGO Children's Hope India which auctioned the painting to raise funds for the welfare of underprivileged children in India, told PTI. The auction was held at a gala event in New York City to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NGO. Founded in 1992 by a group of Indian American women professionals, Children's Hope India sponsors health, education and vocational programmes for thousands of children in India. Among other items, a cricket bat with the signature of Team India members including M S Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar was auctioned for 15,000 USD. Out of about 200 paintings made so far by the Trinamool Congress supremo, this was was the first time her work went abroad. She has held three exhibitions so far. Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien, who was also present during the auction, said the NGO had requested the chief minister to contribute a painting. Since it was for a good cause she readily agreed. She painted it two months ago at her office, said the party leader. Another painting was sent to Israeli Ambassador Alon Ushpiz in Delhi last week. He paid a courtesy visit on the CM and wanted to buy one of her paintings. Banerjee said she would gift it, said Derek, who had organised Banerjee's first sale-cum-exhibition in 2005. Titled '25 Hours In A Day', the first lot was sold for Rs four lakh. The second exhibition in 2007 fetched Rs 14 lakh and the proceeds were donated to the victims of Nandigram violence. Ahead of the last year's Assembly elections, her collection of 95 paintings were sold out within three days for a staggering price of more than a crore of rupees. The proceeds were used for the party's poll expenses. Derek said Banerjee's fourth exhibition with 50 paintings would be held in Kolkata early next year.

PMEAC expects near 6 pc GDP growth in current fiscal


New Delhi, Oct 25,2012:  Faced with subdued manufacturing sector performance, Prime Minister's key advisor C Rangarajan today lowered the growth projection for the current fiscal to 6 per cent from 6.7 per cent estimated earlier. The disturbing area is manufacturing, therefore one may have to revise estimates downwards. It is quite possible for the economy to pick up in second half and give a growth rate close to 6 per cent for the year as a whole, Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) Chairman C Rangarajan told PTI in an interview. The PMEAC, in its 'Economic Outlook for 2012-13' report released in August had projected the Indian economy to grow at 6.7 per cent. The Indian economy grew at a faster pace of over 8 per cent in two consecutive fiscal before falling to a nine year low of 6.5 per cent in 2011-12.
 Rangarajan said the economic growth in the second (July-September) quarter would be around 5.5 per cent, as recorded in the first quarter, as the recent set of industrial output data does not show any improvement. Industrial output in the April-August period this fiscal was 0.4 per cent, down from 5.6 per cent in the same period in 2011-12. Rangarajan said that the growth would recover in the second half on the back of good agriculture produce and some pick-up in industrial activities in the key infrastructure areas.
 I see a strong pick up in the growth of key manufacturing sectors like coal, power, road and railways. The monsoon has turned out to be little better than what was expected, therefore agriculture production may do better than what was originally expected, Rangarajan said. He said the growth in manufacturing production was low in the second half of 2011-12 fiscal and hence the benefit of lower base would accrue in the current fiscal, which could push up the growth. Rangarajan said the public sector undertakings (PSUs) with huge resources should go ahead and utilise the funds in order to expand capacity, increase investment and production. What is needed is strong action at the ground level in order to see production and capacity creation targets as laid down for the year are achieved. This will act as catalyst to higher growth, Rangarajan added.

Indian man loses bid to buy Brazilian woman's virginity


New York, Oct 25,2012: A Japanese man fended off strong competition from an Indian to secure a date with a 20-year-old Brazilian student, who sold her virginity for a USD 780,000 after putting it up for on-line auction for charity. Catarina Migliorini, sold her virginity to Natsu, from Japan, who won the competition against a big-spender from India, Rudra Chatterjee and American bidders Jack Miller and Jack Right. The physical education student  who said she will use the cash to build homes for poverty-stricken families  was the subject of 15 bids, the 'New York Daily News' reported. Catarina's move sparked outrage across the globe as she revealed that she would be followed every step of the way by an Australian crew for a documentary film called Virgins Wanted. I saw this as a business. I have the opportunity to travel, to be part of a movie and get a bonus with it. The auction is just business, I'm a romantic girl at heart and believe in love. But this will make a big difference to my area, she told Folha newspaper. Catarina will be delivered to her buyer on board a plane between Australia and the US  being interviewed before and after loosing her virginity at a secret location. Natsu will retain a right to be anonymous, without his picture appearing in the media, the report said. Catarina previously said she wanted to plough the money  USD 20,000 and 90 per cent of the final auction price  into a non-governmental organisation that will construct modern houses in her home state of Santa Catarina. She signed up to the project two years ago when she saw an advertisement by Thomas Williams Productions looking for virgins to film.

A Sharmila Tagore gets honorary degree from Edinburgh University


 London, Oct 25,2012:  Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore has been given an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University for her outstanding contribution to Indian cinema. The 67-year-old actress, who is the great grand-niece of noted poet Rabindranath Tagore, joined leading figures from the world of foreign affairs, education and almost 1000 students at the ceremony to collect the award. It is indeed a privilege to be conferred an Honorary Degree by Edinburgh Napier University. It recognises the significant influence of Indian Cinema on the global cultural arena and the small role that I have played in its history. As we celebrate a hundred years of Indian Cinema, this is both a happy and humbling moment, Sharmila said while accepting her Doctorate. The honour comes just months after the University's Institute for Creative Industries opened The Scottish Centre for Tagore Studies (ScoTs), the first centre of its kind in the UK. ScoTs promotes Indian culture, education, philosophy, art and literature by highlighting the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. With a glittering career spanning six decades, Sharmila has won National Film Awards and Filmfare awards for her performances in films like 'Apur Sansar', 'Kashmir Ki Kali', 'An Evening in Paris', 'Aradhana'and 'Amar Prem'. Sharmila has had an astonishing career and her films are enjoyed all over the world. She is an excellent ambassador for Indian culture and at the same time, through her various charity endeavours, is a strong advocate for the educational rights of children in India, said Professor Dame Joan Stringer, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University.

Mukesh Ambani richest Indian for 5th yr; networth dips: Forbes

New York, Oct 25,2012:  Mukesh Ambani has retained his position as the world's richest Indian for the fifth year in a row, despite a decline in his networth to USD 21 billion, according to an annual rich list released today.Although Ambani's networth declined for the third year in a row, including a plunge of USD 1.6 billion in past one year, his fortune remains more than 30 per cent above that of the second-ranked Lakshmi Mittal, as per business magazine Forbes' latest annual ranking of 100 wealthiest Indians. Steel baron Mittal's networth fell by USD 3 billion to USD 16 billion.Ambani, who heads energy-to-retail conglomerate Reliance Industries group, and Mittal are followed by IT czar Azim Premji (USD 12.2 billion), construction major and Tata group's major shareholder Shapoorji Pallonji group patriarch Pallonji Mistry (USD 9.8 billion) and drugmaker Sun Pharma's Dilip Shanghvi (USD 9.2 billion) in the top-five.Mukesh's younger brother Anil Ambani is ranked 11th (USD 6 billion), as he movs up two positions from 13th last year.Others in top 10 include Adi Godrej at 6th position (USD 9 billion), followed by Savitri Jindal (USD 8.2 billion), Shashi & Ravi Ruia (USD 8.1 billion), Hinduja Brothers (USD 8 billion) and Kumar Mangalam Birla (USD 7.8 billion). Telecom czar Sunil Mittal and Gautam Adani have moved out of the top 10 and are now ranked 12th and 16th respectively. Last year, Mittal was ranked sixth and Adani was seventh.Even as the networth of top-ranked persons like Ambani and Mittal fell, the collective wealth of India's richest 100 rose by 3.7 per cent (USD 9 billion) to USD 250 billion in the past one year, Forbes said. In the preceding year, the total wealth of India's 100 richest had fallen by 20 per cent.The number of billionaires has risen to 61, from 57 last year. Sun Pharma's Shanghvi has made his debut in top five this year.

Gavaskar to receive BCCI's lifetime achievement award

 Mumbai, Oct 25,2012:  Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar will be conferred the Col C K Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award at the annual BCCI awards function. The BCCI's Col C K Nayudu Award Committee met here today and decided to confer the honour on the legendary opener, a release from BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said. The award comprises a trophy, citation and a cheque for Rs 25 lakh. Gavaskar will receive the honour at the BCCI Awards Ceremony, to be held shortly. Gavaskar represented India in 125 Tests from 1970-71 to 1986-87, scoring a record 774 runs in his debut series in the West Indies. He was the first batsman to score 10,000 runs in Tests, and the first to play 100 consecutive Tests. He was the first batsman to score hundreds in each innings of a Test thrice and was the first batsman to surpass Sir Don Bradman's tally of 29 Test centuries. He led India in 47 Tests and his greatest triumph as captain was India's victory in the World Championship of Cricket, a limited-overs tournament featuring all the then Test-playing nations, in 1984-85. Post retirement, he became a cricket expert. He was also the chairman of the BCCI's Technical Committee, and the chairman of the ICC's Cricket Committee.
 Meanwhile, the committee has also decided to honour seven individuals posthumously with Special Award for their outstanding contribution to Indian cricket. The yesteryear cricketers -- Vijay Merchant, Vinoo Mankad, Dattu Phadkar, Vijay Manjrekar, Ghulam Ahmed, M L Jaisimha and Dilip Sardesai -- will receive a trophy and cheque of Rs 15 lakh at the award ceremony.

Matteson produces magical 63, Woods trails by three

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 25,2012:  American Troy Matteson produced a magical eight-under-par 63, thanks to four closing birdies, including a closing hole "slam-dunk", as he put the shade on Tiger Woods in the first round of the $6.1 CIMB Classic here Thursday.Matteson revelled in steamy conditions at the Mines Resort and Golf Club to lead by one stroke from countrymen Brian Harman, Robert Garrigus and Jeff Overton, who finished runner-up here last year.In form Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar, who has won twice on the Asian Tour in the past two months, was a further stroke back with American Tom Gillis while 14-time Major champion Woods, Malaysia's Danny Chia and Jbe Kruger of South Africa were amongst those in tied seventh place on 66.
Woods, the tournament's top draw, lit up his back nine with five birdies to end the day three behind the leader. He struggled with a cold putter on his outward nine, missing two short putts on eight and nine to turn in level par before lighting up his inward stretch with five birdies.
"I felt in control on the back nine. Towards the end of the front nine, I was hitting it really well. Just missed a couple of short putts on eight and nine but I was hitting it really well. Just continued it and it felt really good on the back nine. I hit some really good shots," said Woods, who is returning to Malaysia for the first time since his triumph in the World Cup of Golf in 1999.
"Turning at even par, I felt like I just got run over there. It felt like I had to shoot something at least three, four under par on that back nine, and I happened to get one more, which is nice. It's going to take something like 20-plus to win the tournament, so got to be aggressive and go get it."
Two-time PGA Tour winner Matteson, making his debut at the CIMB Classic, was flawless and closed out his round with a birdie from the greenside bunker.
"The pin is really tricky on 18. I thought I hit a pretty good shot in there, and it just barely landed over the bunker and trickled back in the bunker, left me on the upslope. I knew I'd be doing good if I could leave myself seven or eight feet for par, and it bounced and slam dunked in the hole," he said.
Defending champion Bo Van Pelt shot a 70 to lie in tied 30th place.

Indian Auto component firms set to make a splash at China Expo

 Beijing, Oct 25,2012: Top Indian Auto component manufacturers are set to make a big splash at the three-day China International Auto Parts Expo beginning here tomorrow. More than 80 Indian companies would be taking part at the India show being organised during the expo event. The event will provide the Indian auto industry an opening into Chinas automobile market, which is currently the leading global market, said Nagraj Naidu, Trade Consular of the Indian Embassy here.
 The show is being co-hosted by the Indian mission and the Confederation of Indian Industry. India Show in Beijing assumes greater significance in the context of enhanced economic and strategic cooperation between the two nations, said an official. The event is organised in an year, which has been declared as the Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation, pledging to push the strategic cooperative partnership to a new level, CII Representative in China, E.B Rajesh said. Also a 19 member Business delegation, including CEOs will take part in the event.
 It will be led by S Gopalakrishnan, President Designate of CII and Executive Co-Chairman Infosys Technologies Ltd and include Rajive Kaul, CII Past President and Chairman of NICCO Corporation Ltd. The delegation will call on senior Chinese Government leaders and discuss new areas for collaboration for enhancing trade and investment between the two countries, Rajesh said. More than 80 Indian companies are participating in the three day exhibition.  The India Pavilion will showcase the wide variety of top class Indian auto parts, a CII press release said.
 This included engine, body and chassis systems, high technology equipment and parts, innovative hybrid energy parts etc along with maintenance and tuning equipment and general components, it said.  CII is also organizing the India-China Business Seminar tomorrow coinciding with the inauguration of India Show. Leading Indian companies like Tata, Aditya Birla, Reliance Industries, Infosys, Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro, NIIT, among others, will be participating in the event.
  This will also provide a good opportunity for the local companies to interact with them and explore new areas of cooperation, the CII release said. .  During the occasion, the Indian organisers will be releasing a book titled Retracing the Path to Prosperity  Lessons from India-China Business Partnership.
 This will showcase the contributions of Indian companies that have invested in China.  The book will also be a good reference for the potential investors to understand the strategies adopted by the successful Indian Corporates in China.     Further, as part of the India Show an Indian food & wine festival is being organised by Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).
  Participants will also be able to witness an Indian Cultural and Dance Performance organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).   The Indian Ministry of Commerce & Industry and CII attach great importance to this show as it will help enhance ties between two emerging economies and build Brand India in China, the release said.

Sleep apnea can reduce severity of heart injury: Study


 Houston, Oct 25,2012:  People suffering from sleep apnea may suffer less severe heart injury during an acute non-fatal Myocardial Infarction (MI) compared to those without the condition, according to a new study lead by an Indian-origin researcher. In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a person's breathing is disrupted during sleep because their airway becomes narrowed or blocked, causing pauses or decreases in air flow. Although the new findings do not contradict the widely accepted view that sleep apnea is a risk factor for heart disease that can lead to a heart attack, it do suggest that obstructive sleep apnea can provide some heart protection in the event of a heart attack, lead investigator Dr Neomi Shah said. Shah is the associate director of the pulmonary sleep lab at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. The study entitled, Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Acute Myocardial Infarction Severity: Ischemic Preconditioning, screened over 6,000 hospitalised patients on the cardiology units at Montefiore found that this degree of cardioprotection can reduce the severity of the heart attack. A number of factors led to this conclusion. First, acute MI patients with severe sleep apnea tended to have a lower median level of peak Troponin-T compared to those without OSA.  Troponin-T is a marker in the blood for myocardial cell death and it accurately predicts the severity of a heart attack. In addition, patients with OSA had lower levels of creatine phosphokinase (CPK) as compared with non-OSA patients. CPK is an enzyme found in the blood and when it is high, it usually indicates that there has been an injury or stress to muscle mass. These novel findings suggest that OSA may be cardioprotective in the acute phase of a MI. Our results appear to be contrary to existing literature that identifies obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to be a risk factor for Myocardial Infarction, said Shah. While our data do not refute a widely accepted view that sleep apnea is a risk factor for the development of a coronary artery disease related event such as a Myocardial Infarction, our study suggests that obstructive sleep apnea can provide a degree of cardioprotection during the acute phase of a Myocardial Infarction.

Indian origin author chronicles her life in book


 Melbourne, Oct 25,2012:  A new book providing fresh insight into the Indian tradition of arranged marriages has been launched here. The Deranged Marriage by a British Australian journalist of Indian origin Sushi Das chronicles her life growing up in London of 70's with strict Indian parents who tried to arrange her marriage. The book discusses her and her family's journey from India to Britain and adjusting in the western world under a strict Indian traditions. The journalist turned author said her book was not about criticising all arranged marriages but only for people to understand that it was not meant for everybody. But the book is not just her take on arranged marriage, it also illustrates the responsibilities on migrant population. The interesting novel from Das can be seen as many stories, from Indian migrants to Indian wedding to relationships, weaved into in one story.