Sunday, December 30, 2012

A lost opportunity for the real estate sector

MUMBAI, December 30, 2012

The year 2012 was a difficult one for the Indian real estate sector as tough economic conditions led to lower sales and higher construction costs.

There is a general industry view that 2013 will see an improved economic climate and the real estate sector will follow suit, albeit with some lag.

However, Lalit Kumar Jain, National President, Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (CREDAI), felt that the year 2013 would be "make or break time for the real estate sector as it is going through a liquidity crisis. The year 2012 is one of lost opportunity for the sector as no corrective steps were initiated".

But Anuj Puri, Chairman & Country Head, Jones Lang LaSalle India, a real estate consultancy, was more sanguine.

"The most tangible benefits of economic improvements on the Indian real estate space will be seen in the second-half of 2013," he said.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also recently allowed established real estate developers and housing finance companies to raise up to $1 billion through external commercial borrowings.

Some projects in mass housing segments that sold well were priced in the range of Rs.4,000-5,500 per sq. ft. in areas such as Noida, Navi Mumbai and Bangalore. Projects in the Rs.16,000-19,000 per sq. ft. range in Central Mumbai, too, sold well.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail was permitted. Pranab Dutta, Chairman, Knight Frank India, a real estate consultancy, felt that "This will attract foreign investment which will not only benefit the retail industry but also boost the demand for commercial real estate".

On measures to boost the sector, developers felt that it was essential to have a 'single window' clearance for projects as there were 50-odd permissions required to begin construction of a project and this could take two years to obtain. "For the common man's benefit, interest rates should be corrected soon," said Jackbastian Nazareth, Group CEO, Puravankara Projects, adding, "the first quarter of 2013 is likely to see some consolidation but thereafter and into 2014, we are likely to see good growth".

The year 2013 is likely to reap the benefit of the Real Estate Regulation Bill and the Land Acquisition Bill. "The change in sentiment on account of these measures will certainly make 2013 a much better year in comparison to the last year," said Mr. Dutta.
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IBS Software vetting IPO option

KOCHI, December 30, 2012

IBS Software Services is toying with the idea of an initial public offering (IPO) in end-2013 or first-half of 2014, said V. K. Mathews, Founder & Executive Chairman of the IBS group.

Talking to The Hindu here on Saturday, Mr. Mathews was optimistic that external market situation was expected to be conducive for IPO during this period.

Looking back at 2012, Mr. Mathews said it was the best for IBS in terms of business with significant wins and noteworthy implementation of IT solutions. (IBS has posted a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47.5 per cent over the last 15 years).

Starting with 55 staff at Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram, IBS has become a multi-national company, now employing over 2,000 staff, doing business from ten offices in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. It is a leading provider of new generation IT solutions to the global travel, transportation and logistics industries. From a start-up company in 1997, the IBS products and customised solutions today manage the mission-critical operations of major airlines, airports, oil and gas companies, seaports, cruise lines and tour operators world-wide.

IBS has acquired HBSi, a U.S.-based company in the hospitality industry. This multi-million dollar acquisition brings to IBS fold leading players in the hospitality industry, including names like Starwood, Harrahs, Raffles, Ramada, Fairmont, Expedia, Orbitz and Travelcity. IBS has made six strategic acquisitions — one acquisition in India, two in Europe, and three in the U.S. — in its 15-year history, expanding its solution portfolio to cover travel, hospitality and aircraft engineering areas.


Lufthansa Cargo, the third largest cargo carrier in the world, has chosen IBS solutioniCargo to manage the airlines' air cargo movement worldwide. IBS solution will replace the legacy system used by the airline for the past 30 years. IBS was selected from among 400 global solution providers after an intense selection process lasting over 18 months, Mr. Mathews pointed out. The cargo platform project will cost Lufthansa around Rs.700 crore and is one of the largest IT system deals.

Asked about the significance of the Lufthansa deal for the country, Mr. Mathews said this deal was perhaps one of the biggest IT product deals in India, and in that sense signalled the emergence of India as an IP and IT product destination, an important and inevitable goal for Indian IT industry to promote non-linear growth. This success should be positive and encouraging news for the several emerging product companies in the country.

Most of the contracts entered in to by Indian IT companies are service deals where Indian companies supply people for executing the job specified by the customers. The cheaper cost of Indian IT professionals is primarily what helps win the contract. The IBS-Lufthansa deal is different. "We are substituting value arbitrage for cost arbitrage. Here, an IT product for which an Indian company has an IP will be used by one of the largest airlines in the world to manage a mission-critical operation like movement of cargo. A global customer is using a product that is conceptualised, developed and owned by an Indian company. In one way, this signals the coming of age of the Indian IT industry," Mr. Mathews said, signing off.
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Dhoni rescues India after top-order collapse

CHENNAI, December 30, 2012 PTI

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni single-handedly resurrected India's innings with a defiant unbeaten century as the hosts recovered from a top-order collapse to post a fighting 227/6 against Pakistan in the first cricket one-dayer in Chennai on Sunday.

Pacer Junaid Khan had justified his captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to bowl first in damp conditions with a four-wicket haul, which cleaned up the Indian top order, before Dhoni (113 off 125 balls) got going and brought the home team back into the match.

The under-fire skipper, who also completed 7,000 ODI runs during the course of his innings, rescued the hosts with some fine support from Suresh Raina (43) and R Ashwin (31 not out) down the order.

Dhoni and Ashwin shared the best-ever seventh-wicket partnership for India, adding 125 runs.

But to start with, it seemed like a nightmare unfolding for India with struggling opener Virender Sehwag becoming Junaid's first victim.

The Delhi batsman, considered a game-changer for his ability to take the attack to the opposition, swung it Pakistan's way after slogging for 11 balls to get four runs.

The right-hander, already under fire for failing repeatedly in the lost Test series against England, did his reputation no good by failing to pick a Junaid inswinger, which crashed into his middle and off stumps.

What followed was a procession of sorts as the top half of the Indian line-up made quick return to the dressing room.

Big guns such as Gautam Gambhir (8), Virat Kohli (0) and Yuvraj Singh (2) made blink-and-miss appearances as Junaid worked his magic, getting ample support from Mohammed Irfan and pace spearhead Umar Gul.

The big four of the Indian batting order were all bowled, three of them by Junaid, who seemed unplayable in the damp conditions due to overnight rain.

The proverbial promising batsman of the side, Rohit Sharma, added another one to his growing list of failures, becoming Junaid's fourth victim after scratching around for 14 deliveries for his four runs.

Rohit's last six ODI innings now read a disappointing 4, 4, 4, 0, 0 and 5. In fact, the top five managed to pull off just two fours for the team.

At 29/5 in a little less than 10 overs, India were staring firmly down the barrel before Raina and Dhoni came together to repair the innings slowly and steadily.

The cautious duo added 73 runs for the sixth wicket and defied Pakistani bowlers for a good 23 overs.

Dhoni got a life on 16 when in the 26th over rival skipper Misbah-ul Haq dropped him at midwicket of Mohammed Hafeez's bowling and the Indian, who smashed seven fours and three sixes, made it count.

Dhoni was suffering from dehydration and also battled cramps towards the end of India innings.

Meanwhile, Raina's patient innings came to an end when he lost his leg stump to Hafeez. But Dhoni was unfazed and, in fact, accelerated from that point, reaching his fifty with a whip over midwicket boundary off Umar Gul.

For a man not exactly known for solid technique, Dhoni was the lone Indian batsman to smash spin ace Saeed Ajmal for a six. A new ball had to be sought to replace the one which went out of the ground.

He also brought up his hundred in style, hoicking Irfan over cover in the 49th over, which produced 21 runs with Dhoni doing most of the scoring. For Pakistan, Junaid was the most successful bowler, grabbing 4/43 in his nine overs.

This was the first match played under the new ICC rules.

Under these rules, one new ball was used at each end, bowlers were allowed two bouncers an over, there was no batting Power Play, the bowling Power Play was completed before the 40th over, and at no stage in the innings more than four fielders were allowed outside the 30-yard circle.


India innings:

G Gambhir b Mohammad Irfan 8

V Sehwag b Junaid Khan 4

V Kohli b Junaid Khan 0

Yuvraj b Junaid Khan 2

RG Sharma c Mohammad Hafeez b Junaid Khan 4

SK Raina b Mohammad Hafeez 43

MS Dhoni not out 113

R Ashwin not out 31

Extras: (LB—11, W—9, NB—2) 22

TOTAL: (for 6 wkts in 50 overs) 227

Fall of wickets: 1—17, 2—17, 3—19, 4—20, 5—29, 6—102

Bowling: Mohammad Irfan 9—2—58—1, Junaid Khan 9—1—43—4, Umar Gul 8—0—38—0, Saeed Ajmal 10—1—42—0, Mohammad Hafeez 10—2—26—1, Shoaib Malik 4—0—9—0.
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Nearing peak form, Keshavan guns for medal at Winter Olympics

NEW DELHI, December 30, 2012 PTI

To enter 30s might signal decline in many sports, but for veteran luge racer Shiva Keshavan, it is the start of his peak form which, he feels, would make him the first Indian to win a Winter Olympics medal come 2014.

The 31-year-old, who is called the 'fastest Indian on ice', believes that 30s is the prime age for a luge athlete.

"For a luge athlete prime age is late 30s. With experience comes technique. So, 2014 and 2018 is when I should be at the peak of my abilities," Keshavan said in an interview.

After a second successive Asian title, Keshavan is expecting financial assistance from the government to realise his dream.

"From now on every race I participate in, I would look to better my international rankings so that I qualify for the next Olympics. There will be nine world cup races next and would like to participate in most of them," Keshavan said.

All his practice sessions would be organised keeping in mind the Winter Olympics to be held at Suchi, Russia. He hopes to keep his world rankings consistent, in order to get a call for what would be his fifth Olympics since 1998.

"Next winter games would be my fifth Olympics. I am really determined to win the country the first ever gold in a winter sport and practicing hard for it," Keshavan, who still holds the world record for being the youngest luge athlete to compete in Olympics, said.

He recently did the country proud by successfully defending the Asian title at Nagano in Japan.

"I am really happy to retain my title. The level of competition was much tougher this time around. After last year's defeat, the Japanese were trying to get get the medals back. They had really good preparation. So it makes it all the more special," a proud Keshavan said.

In doing so, Keshavan also set up a new Asian record by clocking just 49.59 seconds on a 1320 metre long track.

Keshavan had his share of bad luck in the run up to prepare for the tournament when he overdid physical training and tore two shoulder ligaments and could recover just a few weeks ahead of the Asian championship.

"My preparations suffered due to the injury. I concentrated on things I could do such as driving, technical aspect. Fortunately, it paid off," he said.

The fastest Indian on ice has made a representation to the Sports Ministry, seeking financial support to fund his training sessions abroad and other international competitions.

"Training is very important in our sport. We do not have sufficient infrastructure. So, we have to travel abroad for it. I had made a representation to the government to provide me financial assistance. But nothing has materialised till now," Keshavan said.

Keshavan believes that there is no dearth of talent in the country but it requires constant support from the government.

The Sochi track where winter Olympics will take place is the largest luge track in the world at over 1800 metre long.

Keshavan seemed confident after faring well on that track during an international compulsory training week earlier in the year.

"I will be going for three World Championships in January and February. I will try to get enough points in these three races to get qualification (for the Olympics) as I do not have funds to participate in all," he lamented.

Keshavan was pleasantly surprised on receiving a communication from Sports Minister Jitendra Singh congratulating him for his achievement.

"For the first time I received an e-mail from the ministry yesterday congratulating me for my win. I am all the more hopeful now that my case would be expedited," Keshavan said.
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Woman charged with \'hate crime\' in US over Indian’s killing

NEW YORK, December 30, 2012 PTI

A 31-year-old woman, arrested for shoving an Indian immigrant to his death onto a subway train track in New York, has been charged with murder as a hate crime after she admitted before police that she pushed him because she "hated Hindus and Muslims".

Erika Menendez of Queens is charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime for the death of 46-year-old Sunando Sen.

She is to be arraigned in Queens criminal court and faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison if convicted, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Sunando Sen, an immigrant from India, had lived in Queens for years and recently opened his own printing and copying business near Columbia University.

He was unmarried and his parents were dead, according to roommates who lived with him in a small apartment.

Police have notified Sen's family in India about his death.

Ms. Menendez pushed an unsuspecting Sen on to the subway tracks in front of an oncoming train at a Queens station as he was waiting on the platform on the night of December 27.

Mr. Brown said Ms. Sen was struck by the train and died of "multiple blunt force trauma."

He was hit by the first car of the train and his body was pinned under the second car before the 11-car train came to a stop.

In a statement released by the district attorney's office, Mr. Brown quoted Ms. Menendez as having told the police "in sum and substance" that "I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers I've been beating them up."

Ms. Menendez was referring to the September 11, 2001 attack on Manhattan's World Trade Centre towers. After being on the run for almost two days, Ms. Menendez was apprehended by police early on Saturday morning after it received a tip from a citizen who spotted her on a Brooklyn street and identified her from the sketch and surveillance video the police had released.

Police had also offered a $12,000 reward for information leading to the woman's arrest and conviction.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said the citizen called 911 and police took the woman in custody after confirming her identity.

Ms. Menendez made statements implicating herself in the crime, admitting she pushed Sen before an oncoming train because she thought he was a Muslim.

Mr. Brown said "the hateful remarks" made by Menendez and "which precipitated the defendant's actions can never be tolerated by a civilized society."

He said Sen was shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself. "The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter's worst nightmare - being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train."

According to the charges, Ms. Menendez was observed talking to herself while seated on a bench at the subway station and was also observed pacing on the platform and muttering to herself.

Sen was standing on the subway platform as the train approached at which time Ms. Menendez allegedly pushed him from behind into the path of the oncoming train.

Witnesses said the attack happened so quickly that Sen could not react and nor could the bystanders do anything to help him.

The woman fled the station, running down two flights of stairs and down the street.

Mr. Brown said he had no information about the woman's criminal or mental history.

"It will be up to the court to determine if she is fit to stand trial," he said.
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NRIs demand justice for Delhi gang-rape victim

LONDON, December 30, 2012

Non-resident Indians from across Britain held a protest here on Saturday to demand justice for the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim, and held a candle-lit vigil in her memory.

In a petition to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, submitted through the Indian High Commission, they called for a stricter law against rapists and the setting up of fast-track courts to deal with sexual assault cases.

They said that as "concerned'' Indian citizens they were shocked and ashamed by what had happened.

Members of Pravasi Bharat, which had organised the protest, gathered near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Tavistock Square and observed a minute's silence. They carried placards, "Strict law against rapists'', "Fast-track courts please'' and "Respect women''.
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Gang-rape victim’s body flown to Delhi, cremated

NEW DELHI, December 30, 2012 PTI

Amid outpouring of anger and grief in the country, the body of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim was flown to New Delhi from Singapore early on Sunday morning and cremated within hours.

The mortal remains of the gangrape victim, who lost her brave battle for life in a Singapore hospital on Saturday, were consigned to flames here early on Sunday, away from public glare, shortly after her body was received by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the small hours.

The funeral pyre was lit by her sobbing father at a crematorium in Dwarka sub city after traumatised relatives and friends said their final prayers at a ritual at the house where the girl lived in south-west Delhi.

Mr. Singh and Ms. Gandhi waited at the Palam technical area of the IGI Airport where a special aircraft of Air India carrying the body of the girl as also her parents and two brothers taxied down the tarmac in heavy fog in a sombre atmosphere, reflecting the national mood against the bestial attack on her two Sundays ago that ultimately claimed her life.

After the plane landed at IGI airport at around 3.30 a.m., Mr. Singh and Ms. Gandhi met the disconsolate parents and brothers of the paramedical student and commiserated in their grief.

Amidst heavy deployment of Delhi Police, BSF and Rapid Action Force personnel in riot gear, the body was then taken to the house, where the girl lived, and rituals were performed before being taken to the crematorium at Dwarka Sector 24.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, Minister of State for Home Affairs R.P.N. Singh, West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra, Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta were also present at the cremation from which the media was kept out.

It was only late last night that police had approached the officials of a crematorium for an early morning cremation of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim.

The cremation plans were kept closely-guarded till the last moment as police apprehended a large gathering may cause law and order problems.

Authorities also wanted the last rites to be performed at 6.30 a.m. but their plan did not materialize as Hindu traditions did not allow cremation before sunrise.

At 7.30 a.m., the father of the victim lit the funeral pyre in the presence of her brothers, relatives and others.

Media was not allowed in the crematorium.

The girl, a physiotherapy student, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted allegedly by six men in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16th night. She died yesterday morning.

While undergoing treatment at Safdarjung hospital, she was shifted to the Singapore hospital for further treatment.

The aircraft AIC-380A took off from Singapore at around 12:30 a.m. local time (10:00 p.m. IST Saturday), Indian High Commission officials said.

On the chartered plane, sent by the Indian government, were her family members who have been in Singapore since the girl was brought to the hospital here in an extremely critical condition.

The victim, who underwent three surgeries, had damaged internal organs in the assault. She also suffered a cardiac arrest and brain injury.

Police have slapped murder charges, which has death penalty in rarest of rare cases, against the six accused and will file the chargesheet against them on January three.

Investigators said they will seek the harshest punishment for the culprits.
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In Memory of the Unknown Citizen

December 30, 2012

We may never know her name. But not every memory needs a name or a pile of stone. Her memorial need not claim space on a city street, or square, or on the river-front. Let the well-known Leader and the Unknown Soldier have their real estate, but for the Unknown Citizen, let us not fire gun salutes, fly flags at half-mast or build portals and pedestals. And let us not for even a moment imagine that instituting police measures against the people the Prime Minister calls 'foot-loose migrants' will mean anything remotely resembling justice.

We can think about what the contours of enduring justice can be without being hangmen. Only safe cities, safe towns and safe villages, and freedom for all men and women will mean justice. Justice does not come from the gallows. It springs from a freedom from fear, and the gallows only perpetuate fear. Hangmen will turn the bullies who rape into the cowards who will automatically murder so that there may not be a trace of their rape. It will make fathers who rape their daughters into fathers who rape and murder their daughters. Capital punishment will lead to less, not more convictions for rape and heinous sexual violence. That can never lead us to justice.

But, even if justice is done, or is seen to be done, in this specific case, how can we undertake the other important task — that of remembering a nameless woman? We can think of a 'nirgun' place, a form-less, flag-less memorial. It can be a place in our hearts and minds. It can be a spark in our eyes. It can be the resolve not to forget her, even if we can never speak or remember her name. (And no, we need not deploy the made-up names she never had, just because some people on television cannot deal with the profound challenge of her anonymity to their limited imagination and constrained moral compass).

She, the unknown citizen, fought well and lived bravely, and now she cannot fight and live anymore. We have to fight and live in her memory. This only means that every person who thinks of herself and himself as a citizen (and here, by 'citizen' I do not necessarily mean a subject of a state alone, but any person who claims the polis) has to make themselves known against the brute force as well as the cold indifference of power. All kinds of power — especially the kind that answers to the whispers of the ghosts of dead patriarchs, that hard-codes into living boys and men that sense of impunity that rapes, gropes and traps girls, women and others who are deemed different because of the nature of their bodies or their desires. All kinds of power — especially the kind that emanates from the office, the flag and the uniform, from guns and cars and cold cash. All kinds of power — especially the kind that comes wrapped in the sanctity of scripture, the patronising confidence of expertise and law, and the perverse armour of honour. We will have to defeat these everyday. For the rest of our lives.

The unknown citizen has given us all a reason to challenge every kind of power there is. She has bequeathed to us many reasons, to fight and live. The young women and men who came out in solidarity with her in Delhi, elsewhere, are changed by the way they were touched by her. But they are not the only ones who are changed. The veterans of many marches, those more used to teargas than tears, were also surprised by their new companions, by the grace and steadfastness of the young.

The young were touched by her valour, and by their own courage in the face of the brutal repression and deceit that the government let loose in response to them.

The best homage we can continue to pay to the memory of this brave 23-year-old paramedic is to hold on to that courage, to recognise and acknowledge the transformation that we have all witnessed, in ourselves, in each other.

The words 'Martyr,' and 'Shaheed,' tend to be used too loosely in our time, and generally bring in their wake a cult of death which can never yield anything generative, let alone a positive politics. But in their original sense, both Martyr (in Greek) and Shaheed (in Arabic), do not mean a person who is killed, with or without reason. They both mean 'witness.' When we tag the terms Shaheed or Martyr to the Unknown Citizen today, we have a responsibility to ask what her witnessing tells us? What will it mean for us to continue to bear witness in her memory?

A name is no protection against oblivion. We know a name called Manorama from Manipur, others from Kashmir and Chhattisgarh. We know the family that was attacked in Khairlanji. And they are almost forgotten, even by some of those who weep crocodile tears for this 23-year- old paramedic.

There are other names we know. We know the names of those who raped and murdered the Unknown Citizen. We know that a man called Ankit Garg, SP, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, supervised the humiliation of Soni Sori and was awarded with a police medal for gallantry. We know that a man called Altaf Khan, a sometime Deputy SP of the Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police in Handwara, who has rape allegations against him that go un-investigated, was awarded a presidential medal for meritorious service. There are many other such men. In the Army, in the police, in our factories, schools and homes. Justice does not have to mean hanging these men, but justice does at least mean that similar crimes should lead to similar punishment, regardless of whether they occur in Delhi, or Kashmir, Manipur and Chhattisgarh. Justice at least requires that laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which foster rape and violence, are done away with. Justice at least requires that we do not forget place-names like Kunan Poshpora, in Kashmir, and what happened there.

We know names like Abhijit Mukherjee, Anisur Rahaman, Botsa Satyanarayan, Mansukh Bhuva, Shriprakash Jaiswal, Narendra Modi, Kakoli Ghosh-Dastidar, Sushma Swaraj and Mamata Banerjee. We know their glib talk, and how it speaks the patois of patriarchy. We know now that these men and women deserve neither the offices they hold, nor our confidence. They cannot represent us.

In the last few days, the streets of Delhi have erupted with protest. We have heard the infectious roar — hum kya chahtey, Azaadi. The Azaadi (freedom) that the young women and men of Delhi are demanding for is a place where ammunition, money and machismo do not rule. That is a new city, and building it will make us leave the protocols of this tattered republic far behind. We will all build that new city in the memory of the Unknown Citizen.
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Delhi’s forensic lab fails the litmus test

NEW DELHI, December 30, 2012

While the Forensic Science Laboratory plays a key role in investigation of criminal cases in the Capital, there has been no mention of its working or even existence in the annual Working Report issued by the Delhi Government. The reason is not far to see.

In an order recently Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau criticised this laboratory for "unusual delay" in giving DNA test reports in a rape case. This, the Judge had noted, was "adversely affecting the administration of justice".

And it was not for lack of manpower that the laboratory was causing the delay. Dr. Lau said: "There has been an unusual delay in giving the reports with regard to DNA finger printing on the plea of non-availability of chemical." She also pointed out that "many of the reports which are now being received do not appear to be up to the mark/satisfactory".

At a time when the conscience of the city and the nation has been pricked by a gruesome gang-rape case and demands are being made for dispensing speedy justice, the court's observations have exposed the chinks in the armour.

While the Delhi Government had appealed to and got the sanction for five fast-track courts from the Delhi High Court, recent developments suggest it is definitely not prepared to provide the necessary back-up for timely investigation of cases.

Dr. Lau had also taken the Investigating Officer and Station House Officer of Delhi Police concerned to task for not sending the forensic samples to the FSL on time in the case of an alleged rape of a minor by her uncle.

Incidentally, this is not the first time the FSL has been in news for the wrong reasons.

Last year, the Delhi High Court had issued notices to the Union Public Service Commission, the recruiting authority for FSL, after it was alleged that nearly 15 scientists at the facility were not qualified for their jobs and had been hired on the basis of forged documents or false information.

The petitioner, who had obtained information through Right to Information Act applications, had also alleged that these appointments had led to a drop in standards of investigation of criminal cases. Some scientists had claimed that in an accident case of Khan Market, even the blood samples were not lifted properly.

This does not augur well for investigation of rape cases in Delhi. A senior forensics expert said: "While DNA fingerprinting reports can come within two weeks, provided there is proper manpower, infrastructure, instrumentation and chemicals at the facility, in the case of FSL, there have been delays of up to two to three years in the past."

"Over 50 per cent of the samples from Delhi go out to labs in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhopal and others places. This itself shows the state of affairs," he said.

The forensic expert said lifting of samples, their preservation and examination is key to securing conviction in any case. "In the gang-rape case, the culprits got the bus washed to destroy evidence. Similarly, often the women are forced to take bath for destroying evidence. But if a forensic expert is skilled, he would still find enough evidence to nail the culprits."

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who also looks after the Home Department, said: "We would be taking steps to ensure that there is no paucity of chemical or any other infrastructure or manpower at the FSL."

Ms. Dikshit said money would also not be a constraint in the matter. "Whatever shortcomings are there would be removed. I would get the Chief Secretary to personally oversee the effort. We want all the systems to be in place before the special fast-track courts become operational in the first week of January 2013."

It remains to be seen if the awareness generated by the recent gang-rape and the demands to streamline the entire criminal investigation system would indeed bear fruit.
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Delhi Police invoke murder charge against rape accused

NEW DELHI, December 30, 2012

A Delhi Police team had gone to Singapore to support the grieving family of the gang rape victim, and for investigation and necessary documentation.

The team comprised the Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Defence Colony sub-division and the Station House Officers of the Vasant Vihar and Safdarjung Enclave police stations.

While the post-mortem was conducted by a Singaporean medical team in the presence of Indian officials and the young woman's relatives, the Delhi Police Crime Branch invoked the murder charge under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code against the accused. "Section 302… has been added to the case," Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dharmendra Kumar said.

The police said a Special Public Prosecutor of eminence was also appointed to conduct the trial in a fast-track court on a daily basis. The charge sheet is expected to be filed on January 3.

"Dayan Krishnan, an eminent lawyer and counsel in the Delhi High Court, will work as Special Public Prosecutor in the… case registered at the Vasant Vihar police station. Mr. Krishnan has himself volunteered to do it free of cost. He will be assisted by two juniors," a police officer said.

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar tweeted: "Praying hard for the rape victim will ensure accused are given severest punishment and quickly. Reqst ppl to stay calm and maintain peace."

It is learnt that some recoveries have been made at the instance of Akshay Singh, the last to be arrested, after he was sent back to police custody earlier this week. Some forensic reports are expected on Monday.

Ossification test

An ossification test was conducted on one of the arrested persons to verify his claims of being a juvenile. "The results of the test are expected to be in before January 3. However, if it comes after that and the claims are proven wrong, he will face trial in the same court along with other accused," a senior police officer said.

Action against bus owner

The police are examining whether any action could be taken against Dinesh Yadav, owner of the bus on which the crime was committed, after reports emerged of the bus being challaned eight times and impounded six times in the past two years. It is also alleged that Mr. Yadav had deployed musclemen to intimidate staff members of some DTC buses plying on the same routes as his
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No candlelight protest for Lalli Devi

December 30, 2012

Who will listen to the voices of the margins? Margins mean those who are not in the capital, those who are not part of the urban middle-class, and those who are not in the gaze of the TV camera. Margins mean those who are silent because they have no one to tell their stories to.

Delhi citizens rightly raised their voices against the brutal gang-rape of the 23 year-old woman who tragically died on Saturday morning. But what about the other statistically established truth? That rape and assault are daily occurrences in the lives of Dalit women? Most crimes committed against Dalits remain unrecorded because the police, the village councils, and government officials reflect the biases of the Hindu caste system. Crimes against them also go unreported because of fears of reprisals, intimidation by the police and their inability to pay bribes.

A report released by the Amnesty International in 2001 found an "extremely high" number of sexual assaults on Dalit women perpetrated by the powerful combine of landlords, upper-caste villagers, and police officers. The study estimates that only about 5 per cent of the attacks are registered, with 30 per cent of the rape complaints dismissed as false. The study also found that the police routinely demand bribes, intimidate witnesses, cover up evidence, and beat up the women\'s husbands. Even where rape victims are murdered, the culprits go unpunished.

Often rape and assault happen as part of caste warfare with militia-like vigilante groups, assisted by the local police, conducting raids on villages, burning Dalit homes and raping the women. Legal records, media reportage and personal testimonies reveal that upper-caste men claim sexual access to Dalit and lower-caste women as a matter of caste privilege. Consider this recent incident at Sheetalpur Tikari village under Tharwai police station, around 30 kilometers from Allahabad. Lalli Devi, 45, was constructing a house allotted to her under the Indira Awas Yojna when a local money-lender arrived there with other influential people and demolished the house. As Lalli tried to reason with the man, she, her husband Gulab and her son aged 12 years were beaten mercilessly by the goons. Her hut, where she used to sleep and cook, was razed to the ground. Even today marks of the Brahminical violence are visible on Lalli\'s body. And yet, the police kept her in the thana for 24 hours and denied that any violence had occurred.


Dalit women are the worst victims of sexual violence because they face oppression at three levels — caste, class and gender. Indeed she faces atrocities as a Dalit, as a woman and as a member of the working class. Dalit women undergo sexual oppression, economic exploitation and socio-cultural subjugation. But the judicial system routinely fails them.

Immediately after V.P. Singh became Prime Minister in 1989, his constituency, Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh, was rocked by the news of the gruesome murder of Dhanraj, a Dalit, by some Thakurs in whose fields he worked. Dhanraj had been ordered by the landlords to let his wife spend a night with them. When he defied the diktat, he was dragged out and burnt alive. Singh, who projected himself as a messiah of the oppressed classes, rushed to the spot and offered the widow Rs. 1,000 from his welfare fund and some land as compensation. However the land that was allotted lay within the boundaries of the land of the Thakurs, making it totally inaccessible to her. In the court case that followed all the Thakurs were acquitted of the crime.

In another case that occurred in village Dauna near Allahabad on January 21, 1994, Shivpatia, an old Dalit woman was paraded naked in the village because her son had objected to her vegetable field being plundered by some boys from the dominant Kurmi (OBC) caste. This incident happened when Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram were in an alliance and had formed a government in U.P.. The incident hit the national headlines, prompting both men to rush together to the spot. The victim was offered land and money as compensation and the culprits arrested.

Seventeen years have passed since the incident but the case is still pending in the sessions court even as Mayawati became Chief Minister of the State four times. The irony is that the case was on fast track. In reality, the harassment has increased for Shivpatia and her relatives who are forced to visit the court for their 'sunwai', thereby reliving the incident over and over. Today all that they want is that the case should come to an end so that they do not need to forgo their daily wages in order to answer summons from the court.

Dalit women are invisible not just for the media and the police but also seemingly for the judiciary, considering the glaring lack of genuine efforts to resolve their cases. For the public outrage against the Delhi gang rape to have real significance, it must also lead to the victimised Dalit women also getting justice.
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Saturday, December 29, 2012


Ludhiana- 29.12.2012

All responsible citizens of city are very much shocked by the death of Delhi gang rape victim. It is just one more incident exposing ineffective measures to protect rights and dignity of women. Members of working women forum, BJGJ and Punjab Istri Sabha condoles the death of this brave heart and demands strong, speedy and stringent action against culprits.

Dr Narjit Kaur, Convener Working Women Forum said Govt should take urgent measures to ensure safety of all its citizen especially women. We should be heading towards a society where there is no place for these type of incidents.Dr Narjit Kaur expressed a strong concern about the political interference in police stations. She said this is the main reason for delay in justice in many cases.

Mrs.Gurcharan Kochar – President Punjab Istri Sabha Ludhiana cautioned that it brings us to the urgent question of what needs to be done to prevent more of our daughters being deprived of their happiness, esteem, health and often, their lives. To act strongly and firmly. The female foeticide, honour killings and discrimination against the girl child are a reflection of gender bias prevailing in the society.

Dr Arun Mitra – General Secretary Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha said that such crimes are generally committed by the well connected people who feel that they will go scot free after committing the crime. The economic gaps which have increased in the last about two decades have further marginalized the already deprived section of the society who have become more vulnerable to violence.

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Press Note


On the sixth day of NSS Camp organized by Govt. College for Girls Ludhiana day began with Slogan "Remove Child Labour save County" Silence for Two minutes was kept for victim of Gang Rape. Rally was organized on the social evils like Child Labour, Female feoticide, Drugs, Women safety, Illiteracy and Environment Pollution. Play on Child labour was played during the rally to aware the public. In the second session of the camp. Beautification of college was done by NSS Volunteers by cleaning the college campus.

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Obama ‘modestly optimistic’ after meeting Congress leaders

WASHINGTON, December 29, 2012 PTI

U.S. President Barack Obama appeared "modestly optimistic" after meeting top Congressional leaders and urged them take immediate measures to address the looming fiscal cliff before the December 31 midnight deadline, in absence of which the nation faces the prospect of another economic recession.

"I'm modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved. Nobody is going to get 100 per cent of what they want, but let's make sure that middle-class families and the American economy — and, in fact, the world economy — aren't adversely impacted because people can't do their jobs," Mr. Obama told reporters at the White House following his hour-long consultations with the top Congressional leaders on Friday.

"We're now at the point where, in just four days, every American's tax rates are scheduled to go up by law.

Every American's paycheck will get considerably smaller. And that would be the wrong thing to do for our economy, it would be bad for middle-class families, and it would be bad for businesses that depend on family spending.

"Fortunately, Congress can prevent it from happening if they act right now," he said.

Mr. Obama cut short his Hawaii vacation and returned to Washington on Thursday, leaving the First Lady and two daughters behind, in his last-ditch effort to avoid the nation hitting a fiscal cliff.

But as of Friday, not much visible progress were seen despite his meeting with Congressional leaders and some behind the scene hectic paralysis, which were expected to continue over the weekend.

"I just had a good and constructive discussion here at the White House with Senate and House leadership about how to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time," he said.

The Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid, and the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, were working on such an agreement, he noted.

"But if an agreement isn't reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up-or-down vote — one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike, extends the vital lifeline of unemployment insurance to two million Americans looking for a job, and lays the groundwork for future cooperation on more economic growth and deficit reduction," Mr. Obama said.

"I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities as long as those leaders allow it to actually come to a vote.

"If members of the House or the Senate want to vote no, they can — but we should let everybody vote. That's the way this is supposed to work. If you can get a majority in the House and you can get a majority in the Senate, then we should be able to pass a bill," he said.

Mr. Obama said American people are watching all this and their patience is already thin.

"This is deja vu all over again. America wonders why it is that in this town, for some reason, you can't get stuff done in an organised timetable; why everything always has to wait until the last minute.

"Well, we're now at the last minute, and the American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. Not right now," he said in his brief remarks to the press.

Mr. Obama said the economy is growing, but sustaining that trend is going to require elected officials to do their jobs.

"The housing market is recovering, but that could be impacted if folks are seeing smaller paychecks. The unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since 2008, but already you're seeing businesses and consumers starting to hold back because of the dysfunction that they see in Washington," he said.

"Economists, business leaders all think that we're poised to grow in 2013 -- as long as politics in Washington don't get in the way of America's progress," he added.
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Putin signs anti-U.S. adoptions bill

MOSCOW, December 28, 2012

President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children, part of a harsh response to a U.S. law targeting Russians deemed to be human rights violators.

Although some top Russian officials including the foreign minister openly opposed the bill and Mr. Putin himself had been noncommittal about it last week, he signed it less than 24 hours after receiving it from Parliament, where both houses passed it overwhelmingly.

The law also calls for closure of non-governmental organizations receiving American funding if their activities are classified as political a broad definition many fear could be used to close any NGO that offends the Kremlin.

It was not immediately clear when the law would take effect, but presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying "practically, adoption stops on Jan. 1."

Children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said 52 children who were in the pipeline for U.S. adoption would remain in Russia.

The bill has angered Americans and Russians who argue it victimises children to make a political point, cutting off a route out of frequently dismal orphanages for thousands.

"Our unlucky children, our orphans are suffering because they became small change in a political game between two states. This is immoral, this is cannibalism," veteran human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva was quoted as saying by the state news agency RIA Novosti.

Vladimir Lukin, head of the Russian Human Rights Commission and a former ambassador to Washington, said he would challenge the law in the Constitutional Court.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia while about 18,000 Russians are on the waiting list to adopt a child. The U.S. is the biggest destination for adopted Russian children more than 60,000 of them have been taken in by Americans over the past two decades.

Russians historically have been less enthusiastic about adopting children than most Western cultures. Putin, along with signing the adoption ban, on Friday issued an order for the government to develop a program to provide more support for adopted children.

Lev Ponomarev, one of Russia's most prominent human rights activists, hinted at that reluctance when he said Parliament members who voted for the bill should take custody of the children who were about to be adopted.

"The moral responsibility lies on them," he told Interfax. "But I don't think that even one child will be taken to be brought up by deputies of the Duma."

The law is in response to a measure signed into law by President Barack Obama this month that calls for sanctions against Russians assessed to be human rights violators.

That stems from the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was arrested after accusing officials of a $230 million tax fraud. He was repeatedly denied medical treatment and died in jail in 2009. Russian rights groups claimed he was severely beaten and accused the Kremlin of failing to prosecute those responsible; a prison doctor who was the only official charged in the case was acquitted by a Moscow court on Friday.

The U.S. law galvanized Russian resentment of the United States, which Putin has claimed funded and encouraged the wave of massive anti-government protests that arose last winter.

The Parliament initially considered a relatively similar retaliatory measure, but amendments have expanded it far beyond a tit-for-tat response.

Many Russians have been distressed for years by reports of Russian children dying or suffering abuse at the hands of their American adoptive parents. The new Russian law was dubbed the "Dima Yakovlev Bill" after a toddler who died in 2008 when his American adoptive father left him in a car in broiling heat for hours.

Russians also bristled at how the widespread adoptions appeared to show them as hardhearted or too poor to take care of orphans. Astakhov, the children's ombudsman, charged that well-heeled Americans often got priority over Russians who wanted to adopt.

A few lawmakers even claimed that some Russian children were adopted by Americans only to be used for organ transplants or become sex toys or cannon fodder for the U.S. Army. A spokesman with Russia's dominant Orthodox Church said that children adopted by foreigners and raised outside the church will not enter God's kingdom.
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Gang-rape victim’s body to be brought back today

SINGAPORE/NEW DELHI, December 29, 2012 PTI

The body of the Delhi gang rape victim, who died on Saturday morning, will be flown to India by a special chartered aircraft this afternoon, Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, T.C.A. Raghavan said.

An Air India aircraft has been chartered by the government and sent to Singapore to bring back the body of the gang-rape victim and her family members, Air India officials said in New Delhi on Saturday.

The chartered plane, an Airbus A-319, left the IGI Airport at 0800 hours for Singapore and expected to return around 2000 hours on Saturday night, after taking off from there around 1700 hours local time, the officials added.

The aircraft is carrying some senior government officials, including those from the Union Home Ministry.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Raghavan said the formalities, including getting a death certificate, for sending her body were being completed. Once they are done, the body will be flown back.

Mr. Raghavan told reporters that the family of the girl including her parents will accompany the body and that the family is yet to decide about their plans for the last rites once the body reaches Delhi.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the members of the family of the girl," he said.

The envoy said he has passed on the condolence message of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the family in which he had spoken of the desire to make India a demonstrably better and safe place for women to live in.

Mr. Raghavan said the High Commission has received numerous messages from various quarters including the Singapore government deeply mourning the death.

He appreciated the help extended by the Singapore Foreign Ministry, the government and the Mount Elizabeth Hospital for all their support in the last two days.

Replying to questions on the shifting of the girl from Delhi to Singapore, he said consultations were held between doctors of Safdarjung hospital and Mount Elizabeth Hospital and they must have given full thought to it before taking it.

Asked whether doctors felt that she could have died to her shift from Delhi to Singapore, Mr. Raghavan said "no such sentiments were expressed to me. Both the doctors (P.K. Verma of Safdarjung and Yatin Mehta of Medanta Medicity) said she was very badly injured in the assault of December 16 night".

He said the best possible treatment was given to the girl in Delhi and in Singapore and the cause of her death was "the injuries she sustained".

"All possible medical efforts were made to treat the injuries. The efforts were not successful in helping her to overcome the injuries," he said.

Declining to go into the details of the family, he said they had requested that the privacy of their identity be protected.
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Owaisi-Kiran spat at all-party meet in Delhi

NEW DELHI, December 29, 2012

MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi found its echo at the all-party meeting on Telangana here on Friday.

Sources said that while airing his party's views on the statehood issue, Mr. Owaisi reportedly referred to the recent incidents in the old city of Hyderabad and the handling of the situation by the government particularly, the Chief Minister.

It is understood that Mr. Owaisi complained bitterly on how the Chief Minister had violated the Supreme Court order on allowing any sort of construction at the Bhagyalaxmi temple adjoining the historic Charminar. Not stopping at that, he lamented how Muslim youth were being targeted and arrested by the police.

It is believed that Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy interrupted the MIM chief saying that this was not the platform to air such issues.

'Intellectual dishonesty'

"You need not tell me what issues I have to raise at this meeting," Mr. Owaisi said and added that the Chief Minister was indulging in "intellectual dishonesty".

When Mr. Owaisi alleged that the Chief Minister had joined hands with Sangh Parivar, Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy objected saying that everybody knew who was secular. The Union Home Minister had to intervene to calm down the two leaders.
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Brave heart gang-rape victim wanted to live

NEW DELHI, December 29, 2012 PTI

Fighting with great fortitude and courage after sustaining grievous injuries, the 23-year-old gang-rape victim had expressed her intention to live and wanted her tormentors to be brought to justice.

"I want to live," the girl had told her brother and mother when they first met her on December 19, three days after she was brutally gang-raped and assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi.

During the entire process of her treatment, the girl remained communicative through signs most of the time, spoke to her parents and gave statements to a magistrate not once but twice.

The paramedical student was courageous and brave throughout the treatment period and even expressed some thoughts about her future when psychiatrists assessed her thrice during her 10-day treatment at the Safdarjung Hospital.

She also gave a "brave statement" to a Sub-Divisional Magistrate on December 21 in which she gave details about the incident and the sequence of events which was also corroborated with the statement given by her male friend who was with her in the bus.

When the statement landed in a controversy, she again narrated the incident to the magistrate and expressed her wish that the men who brutally raped and assaulted her be brought to justice.

Doctors have been lauding the spirit of the girl calling her "brave" especially as she withstood the extensive treatment that she underwent since December 16.

The victim, whom doctors described as "psychologically composed and optimistic about future", had shown signs of improvement during treatment but her condition worsened on Christmas night after her pulse rate plummeted for a brief period and was shifted to Singapore hospital.

The girl, who was rushed to Safdarjung Hospital on December 16, underwent two major and one minor surgeries in the past 10 days during which major part of intestine was removed.

The 23-year-old victim has been on ventilator for majority of her stay in the hospital, except for two days when she was taken off ventilator and started breathing on her own.
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India Gate, Raisina Hills closed for public, security beefed up

NEW DELHI, December 29, 2012 PTI

Anticipating protests following the death of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim, Delhi Police on Saturday stepped up security in the capital closing India Gate and Raisina Hill for the public besides 10 Metro stations.

A large number of police personnel were deployed at Rajpath, the stretch connecting India Gate and Raisina Hill where large-scale protests were witnessed last weekend, and roads leading to this was closed.

Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar last night tweeted, "praying hard for the rape victim will ensure accused are given severest punishment and quickly Reqst ppl to stay calm and maintain peace."

A senior police official said the entire central Vista including Rajpath, Vijay Chowk and all roads leading to India Gate will be closed for general traffic.

"Kamal Attaturk Marg also closed. All travellers are advised to avoid these roads," the official said.

Ten Metro stations in Central Delhi were closed down for an indefinite period, as a precautionary measure by Delhi Police to prevent protesters from reaching the India Gate.

The stations which will remain out of bounds for people are Pragati Maidan, Mandi House, Barakhamba Road, Rajiv Chowk, Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan, Race Course, Jor Bagh and Khan Market.

However, inter-change facility will be available at Rajiv Chowk and Central Secretariat stations, DMRC officials said.

Peaceful protests at Jantar Mantar

Scores of people started gathering at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday at around 10 a.m., mourning in silence the death of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim and demanded stringent punishment for the culprits.

The mourners protested against the security lock down of India Gate and Raisina Hill, where violent demonstrations were witnessed last weekend over the rape.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Kumar Vishwas also joined the protest along with some of their supporters with their mouth tied with black cloth.

Aam Aadmi Party National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "her death is a matter of shame and sorrow for all of us. Let's resolve that we will not let her death go in vain."

"Aren't we all responsible for her death? Can we all now do something so that half of humanity starts feeling safe amongst us?" he said.

"The government is not even allowing mourning of the death. This is insensitivity. There is complete lock down. You have the metro stations shut. You have a road completely blocked. This is undemocratic," a protester Sunil said.

Mr. Sisodia said the government was muzzling the voice of people by shutting Metro and closing down India Gate.

In a statement, AAP said, the girl, who became the symbol of women's insecurity and their courage, is no more.

"This is a moment of national grief. This is also a moment of national shame. We, as a nation, have failed to provide conditions in which women can lead a normal life without being subjected to indignities. We, as a society, have failed to evolve a culture of respect and equality for women.

"This event and the subsequent developments have no doubt generated widespread outrage and justified anger. But today we must convert this into a positive resolve. Let us all resolve that we shall convert this moment into a movement to end all forms of violence against women. Let No Violence Against Women be our national new year's resolution," it said.

In tweets, activist Kiran Bedi said, "today is a day of reflection and personal audit on the way we as parents and teachers are grooming boys in this country.

"Today is day of mourning on lives we have lost because of failure of our criminal justice system and resolve to not fail it in future. Today is a day to also reflect the way we project our women in media," she said.

India Gate and Raisina Hill had witnessed violent protests against the gang-rape and police resorted to baton charge, water cannons and lobbing teargas shells to disperse protesters.

Police constable Subhash Tomar died last Sunday, during the violent protests.
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Delhi gang-rape victim succumbs to injuries

SINGAPORE, December 29, 2012

The rape victim who was brought for medical treatment "passed away peacefully" with her family and officials of the Indian embassy by her side," said Dr. Kevin Loh, the chief executive of Mount Elizabeth hospital where she had been treated since Thursday. "The Mount Elizabeth Hospital team of doctors, nurses and staff join her family in mourning her loss," he said in a statement.

"Despite all efforts by a team of eight specialists in Mount Elizabeth Hospital to keep her stable, her condition continued to deteriorate over these two days. She had suffered from severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain. She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome." Dr. Loh said.

Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, T.C.A. Raghanvan told reporters that the scale of the injuries she suffered was "very grave" and in the end it "proved too much\". He said arrangements are being made to take her body back to India

But by late Friday, the young woman\'s condition had "taken a turn for the worse" and her vital signs had deteriorated. It was clear then that she would not survive long.

PTI adds:

The girl who was admitted on Thursday morning at the multi-organ speciality facility, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, in an extremely critical condition, in Singapre, died at 4:45 a.m. local time (2:15 a.m. Indian time), the hospital said in a statement. She was earlier treated at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.

The body has been moved to the mortuary in the Singapore General Hospital for completion of some formalities since she is a foreigner, sources said.

The family of the girl wants the body to be taken to India, Indian High Commissioner to Singapore T.C.A. Raghavan told reporters.

He said the girl, who was conscious, fought a brave battle till the end. She was brought to Singapore for being provided good medical treatment.

"The family is shattered by this development. At the same time, they realised that best possible medical attention was given. And in the end it was the scale of injuries that proved too much for the medical attention provided to her," the envoy said.

He said the final few hours was a trying time for the girl's family and they bore the entire process with a great deal of fortitude and courage.

Mr. Raghavan said the family has requested that their privacy be respected in their hour of grief.

The girl, accompanied by her parents, was flown in an air ambulance in a critical condition on Wednesday night, after her health had suffered a setback that morning in the Delhi hospital following a government decision over which experts were divided.

The six-hour journey itself was said to have been eventful with her blood pressure having dipped alarmingly.

The patient had remained in an extremely critical condition since admission to Hospital in the morning of 27 Dec. (Singapore time), the Mount Elizabeth hospital statement said.

"Despite all efforts by a team of eight specialists in Mount Elizabeth Hospital to keep her stable, her condition continued to deteriorate over these two days." the hospital statement said, adding, "She had suffered from severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain. She was courageous in fighting for her life for so long against the odds but the trauma to her body was too severe for her to overcome."

"We are humbled by the privilege of being tasked to care for her in her final struggle. We acknowledge the faith the Indian Government and the patient's family have placed with us to ensure the best care possible was indeed provided to her at Mount Elizabeth Hospital," it said.

"We share their huge sadness at her passing and will work with the High Commission of India to provide the family support in this time of grief," said Dr. Loh.

Late on Friday night, the hospital said the condition of the rape victim had taken a "turn for the worse".

"As of 9 p.m. (6:30 p.m. IST), the patient's condition has taken a turn for the worse. Her vital signs are deteriorating with signs of severe organ failure," Dr. Loh had said in a statement.

"This is despite doctors fighting for her life including putting her on maximum artificial ventilation support, optimal antibiotic doses as well as stimulants which maximize her body's capability to fight infections," the CEO had said.

During her treatment in Safdarjung Hospital, the girl's condition had recorded several ups and downs. Three days after the attack, her gangrenous intestine was removed.

The bestial attack on the girl and her male friend in the bus had sparked off protests by students and women activists which took a violent turn in the capital last Saturday and Sunday.

Death for rapists was one of the demands of the protesters and the victim's demise could trigger fresh display of emotions on the streets.

One of the Delhi police constables, Subhash Chand Tomar, died in a government hospital on Tuesday and the post-mortem report had said that he had suffered a cardiac arrest from complications arising out of injuries on his chest and neck.

Shaken by the public outrage, the government constituted a Commission of Inquiry into the incident and also set up a three-member Committee under former Supreme Court Chief Justice A.S. Anand to look into the possibility of rewriting the laws relating to aggravated sexual assault and enhancing penalty for it.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi had on Friday demanded speedy action against the perpetrators of the "barbarous" attack, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government was committed to bringing the guilty to justice as soon as possible.
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Knowledge Up gradation Training concludes at GADVASU

Ludhiana-28-Dec, 2012

Department of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Extension Education, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University(GADVASU), Ludhiana organized the 9th knowledge Upgradation Programme for Dairy Farmers of Utter Pradesh from 24th to 28th december 2012. These training programmes are sponsored by Indian Immunologicals Limited, Hyderabad. DR S P S Sangha, Dean College of Dairy Science and Technology GADVASU Ludhiana was chief guest at this occasion. He said that through the adoption of scientific and recommended practices it is very easy to increase the milk productivity of the animals. We cannot afford to increase the population of animals, as country is already having large number of animals of world, but we can definitely improve the performance of our animals through University recommended advanced practices in dairy farming. On this occasion Mr CH. Srinivasa Sastry, Customer Relations Manager, Indian Immunologicals revealed that the company is trying its best to upgrade the scientific knowledge of the dairy farmers of the country and for that, the company has shortlisted the farmers and other technical officers from the country and they are being trained at GADVASU, Ludhiana. Forty three farmers pertaining to nine states viz UP, Chhatisgarh, MP, AP, Bihar, Maharashtra , Rajasthan, , Jharkand and Punjab participated in this training programme in which, information regarding milch breeds of animals, balanced feeding of dairy animals, housing, vaccination, deworming, infertility problems, right time of insemination, , clean milk production, marketing of milk and milk products were provided to the farmers. Dr RS Sahota Director Extension Education GADVASU was the guest of honour on this occasion and he revealed that university extension progarmmes are very well woven and were well received by the farmers of the nation . He appreciated the Indian immunological efforts to get the progressive farmers trained at the university. Dr HK Verma, Head, Department of Animal Husbandry Extension Education told that the Department is continuously organizing training programmes on all species of livestock (dairy, piggery, goat, poultry, rabbit and fish farming) and also tailor made training programmes as per demand. Further, Dr Verma told that due to many option in livestock farming, it is the best viable option for self employment for the unemployed youth. One can start with little inputs farming like goat; poultry to large input farming like dairy farming after getting basic training on these farming's from Veterinary varsity. All the participants who underwent this training were highly appreciative of the course structure, the state of art facility and the high quality of training imparted during the programme. Dr SK Kansal Coordinator of this training programme revealed that the participants were very progressive and enthusiastic to know more about the scientific knowledge about dairy farming. Almost all the participants had purchased the university literature.

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Poultry Training concludes at GADVASU

Ludhiana-28-Dec, 2012

The Department of Veterinary & Animal Husbandry Extension Education, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary & Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana organized two weeks poultry training. Dr. Harish Kumar Verma HOD said that seventy participants including two ladies from different parts of the State participated in the training programme. Participants were peculiar collection of businessmen, representatives, graduates and unemployed youths. The complete capsule training programme on poultry was provided to the trainees on all aspects starting from selection of land, procurement of feeding, management of poultry birds, schedule of vaccination, handling of eggs, marketing of poultry birds including preparation of project report and loan facilities etc. Such large number of trainees registered for the course depict that more farmers are going to adopt diversification, in-livestock farming through adopting poultry farming. A field visit to a progressive farmer was also organized to know about the practical aspects on poultry farming. After undertaking this training programme, one can start his own venture. All participants appreciated the efforts of Directorate of Extension Education, Guru Angad Dev Vety & Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana for organizing this training programme. Dr. RS Sahota, Director of Extension Education was the chief guest at the concluding function and he said that poultry farming is an excellent field for employment as well as to meet the protein needs of the people. He also said that like other functional farmers' associations, poultry farmers can form an association with the help of University, which can be useful for the growth of poultry farming in the state. Dr.Verma, informed to trainees that department is organizing various publications in local language as well providing training on Dairy, Pig, Goat, value addition of the livestock produce.

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On the 5th day of N.S.S. Camp in Govt. College for girls day began with the slogan "SAVE WOMEN SAVE COUNTRY". A talent hunt competition was organized, in which N.S.S. voluntaries took part in various activities like Creative Writing, Poster Making, Slogan Writing, Mehandi Designing, Poem Resitation, Singing Competition, Folk Dance. In the Second Session of the camp beautification of the college was done by N.S.S. voluntaries by cleaning college campus.

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Ratan Tata, toast of India Inc, bids adieu

MUMBAI, December 28, 2012 PTI

Ratan Tata, an iconic corporate leader, retired as Chairman of Tata Group after a 50-year run on Friday but kept away from office on his last day at the helm of one of country's oldest business empires.

Mr. Tata, who turned 75 on Friday, is in Pune for his birthday, sources at Bombay House, headquarters of the salt-to-software conglomerate, told PTI, adding there was no clarity on whether he would visit his office later in the day.

Chairman-designate Cyrus Mistry, who made a visit to Bombay House on Friday, will on Saturday take charge of the new assignment, sources in Tata Sons said.

Mr. Mistry was groomed for the assignment by Tata for a year.

The group had earlier announced that he has been appointed chairman with effect from tomorrow.

Mr. Mistry chose the group company Tata Motors entry-level sedan Indigo Manza to travel to work on the important day, marking an end to an era.

The narrow lane leading to Bombay House, one of the oldest buildings in the heritage Fort area of south Mumbai, has heavy media presence since this morning in anticipation of Tata visiting Bombay House.

Mr. Ratan Tata, who helmed the group for 21 years after being chosen successor by his uncle, the iconic JRD Tata, in 1991, is credited with transforming the group through bold decisions including large global acquisitions, even as some of its peers struggled to stay relevant post economic liberalisation.

Mr. Mistry, who has been with the group since 2006 in various capacities hails from the Shapoorji Pallonji family, the largest private share holder of the group's holding company Tata Sons.

Born on July 4, 1968, Cyrus Mistry completed his graduation in Civil Engineering from London's Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine and followed it up with a masters in Management from the London Business School.

He was chosen by a 5-member panel last year to succeed Ratan Tata.

During Ratan Tata's tenure, the group's revenues grew manifold, totalling $100.09 billion (around Rs 475,721 crore) in 2011-12 from a turnover of a mere Rs. 10,000 crore in 1991.

Mr. Tata led the group into some notable acquisitions, starting from Tetley by Tata Tea for $450 million in 2000, to steelmaker Corus by Tata Steel in 2007 for GBP 6.2 billion and the landmark Jaguar LandRover in 2008 for $2.3 billion by Tata Motors.

Courtesy the acquisitions, over half of the salt-to-software group's revenues are derived from outside the country.

Not limiting himself to big-ticket acquisitions, Tata also displayed sensitivity to the needs of the burgeoning middle class with the launch of the Rs 1 lakh Nano battling the odds in West Bengal.

The group was forced to shift the project from Singur, where he was invited by Marxist Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, to Sanand in Gujarat at the invitation of Narendra Modi.

Although Nano could not live up to the expectations after its initial worldwide acclaim, the small car will still be remembered as Tata's desire to provide a "safer" option to many Indian lower-middle class families riding two-wheelers.

In a recent interview to PTI, Mr. Tata has said that Singur was a "great disappointment" because he went there "in a leap of faith" thinking that part of the country was being ignored industrially. Tatas will still go to West Bengal someday, he has said.

Under Tata, the group also made great strides when it capitalised on the sunrise industry of information technology in the 90's. With revenues of over $10 billion in 2011-12, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is today India's largest IT company, ahead of giants in the field like Infosys and Wipro.

On his post-retirement plans, Tata, a bachelor, has said he will spend time on technology which is quite a passion with him. He will brush up on his piano, which he learnt as a school boy and pursue flying, apart from his focus on philanthropic activities.
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Chidambaram defends tough measures

NEW DELHI, December 28, 2012

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, on Thursday, expressed optimism over the Indian economy continuing to growth 'at a healthy rate' and defended some of the tough decisions taken by the government in the recent past saying that some measures may have caused 'immediate pain' but they were necessary to contain the fiscal deficit.

Addressing the 57th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) here, Mr. Chidambaram said: "It was imperative to contain the fiscal deficit by augmenting resources and controlling expenditure…some measures may cause immediate pain but this was necessary to ensure that the fiscal deficit came down to three per cent in the next three years."

Ostensibly, the Finance Minister was referring to the hike in diesel prices by over Rs.5 a litre and the cap imposed on the number of subsidised LPG cylinders to six per family in a year as 'some measures' which led to vociferous protests in and outside Parliament.

"Steps were also being taken to contain the current account deficit (CAD)," Mr. Chidambaram said while stressing the need to control gold imports. Gold imports worth a massive $64 billion contributed in a large measure in widening CAD.

However, expressing optimism that the Indian economy would continue to grow at a healthy rate — despite the global economies facing recession — Mr. Chidambaram said this was because "our economy has strong fundamentals and factors such as high savings rate, growing services sector, a large middle-class which continues to create demand and technical and qualified manpower and the youth."

Dubbing the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme as a 'game changer', Mr. Chidambaram asked the States to adopt the programme as it sought to provide a technology-enabled platform to transfer benefits in an efficient manner directly to the people. "The Direct Benefit Transfer will be a game changer and it will be a transform the way in which subsidies are managed and will be past breaking for governance," he said.

Amenable subsidies

In the initial phase, subsidies relating to petroleum, food and fertilizer would not be distributed through this scheme and only those schemes which are amenable would be taken up, he said.

Mr. Chidambaram also lauded State governments for containing the fiscal deficit to 2.1 per cent of the GDP (gross domestic product) and also for generating revenue surplus of 0.75 per cent.
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Sri Lanka slumps to innings defeat against Australia

MELBOURNE, December 28, 2012 AP

Australia inflicted a humiliating defeat on Sri Lanka in the second Test, bowling out the tourists in quick time on Friday to win by an innings and 203 runs.

Mitchell Johnson followed an unbeaten 92 with two wickets and a run-out as Australia won in just 2-1/2 days and clinched the series with back-to-back wins.

After Australia's first innings ended on 460 for a commanding lead of 304, Sri Lanka made a dismal start to its second dig, collapsing to 3-3 in the first two overs.

Sri Lanka only briefly halted the flow of wickets and was bowled out for 103, with the injured Prasanna Jayawardene and Chanaka Welegedara not batting and Kumar Sangakkara retiring hurt.

Faced with a daunting target just to make Australia bat again, Dimuth Karunaratne was run-out for 1 by Johnson off a David Warner relay with the third ball of the second innings.

Tillakaratne Dilshan fell for a duck off Johnson's next ball when he was caught by Ed Cowan at short-leg.

Debutant paceman Jackson Bird claimed a wicket in the very next over when Mahela Jayawardene (0) looked to leave the ball, only to watch it deflect onto his stumps and leave Sri Lanka at 3-3.

Thilan Samaraweera added just 1 run before being trapped lbw by Bird (2-10).

Sangakkara (27) looked to be settling in before retiring shortly after lunch after taking a Johnson delivery on his left index finger. He left the field for scans and did not retake the field.

Angelo Mathews then played a rash shot at a seaming Johnson delivery and dragged the ball onto his stumps for 35, exposing the Sri Lanka tail.

Dhammika Prasad provided some entertainment, hitting sixes off consecutive balls to start Nathan Lyon's second over, but was caught at cover by Phillip Hughes at cover for 17 off the next delivery.

Shaminda Eranga was out for a duck shortly after to complete Sri Lanka's capitulation.

Johnson narrowly missed his second Test century when he ran out of batting partners, with Australia unable to build much on the big innings total set up by a 194-run partnership between Michael Clarke and Shane Watson on Thursday.

Resuming on 440-8, Nathan Lyon added just 1 run before offering an easy catch to substitute fielder Dinesh Chandimal at mid-wicket off Angelo Mathews in the third over of the morning.

Bird failed to get off the mark in his first Test innings and was bowled by Shaminda Eranga, leaving Johnson stranded.

Clarke scored 103 for his 22nd Test century and first at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and earlier became Australia's highest-ever run scorer in a calendar year. The Australia captain has 1,595 runs for 2012, eclipsing Ricky Ponting's previous record of 1,544 in 2005.

Watson fell short of his third century when he was out for 83.
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Kashyap reaches career-best ranking after title win

NEW DELHI, December 28, 2012 PTI

India's ace shuttler Parupalli Kashyap, who recently triumphed in the Syed Modi International India Grand Prix, made a leap of six places to reach a career-best ranking of 14th in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings released on Thursday.

The title win in Lucknow was the 26-year-old's maiden one in tier three event.

P V Sindhu, who lost in the women's singles final of the Syed Modi tournament, also reached her career-best ranking of 19 after gaining five places.

Shuttle queen and London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, who had pulled out of the Lucknow event in controversial circumstances, will end the year as the third best in the world behind the Chinese duo of Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan.

The men's list is being headed by Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei followed by China's Chen Long.

London Games gold medallist Lin Dan from China is in the fourth place behind Chen Jin.
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Mother\'s death anniversary, launch pad for Bilawal

ISLAMABAD, December8, 2012

Five years after former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, her only son and anointed heir Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stepped out of his father, President Asif Ali Zadari\'s shadow on Thursday to address his first political rally in Garhi Khuda Baksh where the `Bhutto family mausoleum\' stands.

Though Mr. Bhutto has spoken in public before, this is the first time that he has addressed such a mammoth gathering and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had made a big show of using the fifth death anniversary of his mother as a launch pad of the 24-year-old.

Speaking in a style that brought back memories of his mother, Mr. Bhutto took on all the forces - the hidden hands - that have been conspiring to destabilize the PPP-led government from the day it took charge. Referring to earlier efforts to oust PPP governments and citing the Asghar Khan case which established the conspiracy to keep Benazir Bhutto out of power, he said: ``They have still not learnt their lesson and are continuing with their ways; sometimes with `Memogate\' and sometimes by using institutions of the State against us.\'\'

Mr. Bhutto - who has earlier spoken up for minority rights and Malala Yousafzai - sought to sound firm on terrorism and the rights of minorities. ``With Benazir Bhutto as my witness, I promise you that the PPP will never fear terrorists or bow to dictators,\'\' he reiterated in a bid to silence those critics who said he could afford to speak out on these issues from the safe confines of his room in Oxford University.

As Mr. Bhutto stepped up to address the gathering, his every action and word was put under the scanner on mass media and social media. In particular, his accent given that his Urdu has always been heavily accented. According to keen watchers of the Bhutto clan, his Urdu was better than that of his mother\'s in 1988. But there was no mistaking the Benazir Bhutto-like effort put in to animate the crowd with slogans including ``BB ke qaatil sharminda hai, BB aaj bhi zinda hai\'\' (BB\'s murderers have been shamed and humiliated, BB is still alive.)

Though the rally was billed as Mr. Bhutto\'s launch, close associates of the family insisted that there was no need to launch him. According to Mr. Zardari, his son had finished his learning phase and was now coming out to work with the people. Born in September 1988, he will not be eligible to contest the elections if they are held as scheduled in the first half of next year but increasingly Mr. Bhutto has been seen by his father\'s side not just in internal meetings of the PPP but also on Mr. Zardari\'s international visits.
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China tightening controls on Internet

BEIJING, December 27, 2012 AP

China's new communist leaders are increasing already tight controls on Internet use and electronic publishing following a spate of embarrassing online reports about official abuses.

The measures suggest China's new leader, Xi Jinping, and others who took power in November share their predecessors' anxiety about the Internet's potential to spread opposition to one-party rule and their insistence on controlling information despite promises of more economic reforms.

"They are still very paranoid about the potentially destabilizing effect of the Internet," said Willy Lam, a politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "They are on the point of losing a monopoly on information, but they still are very eager to control the dissemination of views."

This week, China's legislature took up a measure to require Internet users to register their real names, a move that would curtail the Web's status as a freewheeling forum to complain, often anonymously, about corruption and official abuses. The legislature scheduled a news conference on Friday to discuss the measure, suggesting it was expected to be approved.

That comes amid reports Beijing might be disrupting use of software that allows Web surfers to see sites abroad that are blocked by its extensive Internet filters. At the same time, regulators have proposed rules that would bar foreign companies from distributing books, news, music and other material online in China.

Beijing promotes internet use for business and education but bans material deemed subversive or obscene and blocks access to foreign websites run by human rights and Tibet activists and some news outlets. Controls were tightened after social media played a role in protests that brought down governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

In a reminder of the Web's role as a political forum, a group of 70 prominent Chinese scholars and lawyers circulated an online petition this week appealing for free speech, independent courts and for the ruling party to encourage private enterprise.

Xi and others on the party's ruling seven-member Standing Committee have tried to promote an image of themselves as men of the people who care about China's poor majority. They have promised to press ahead with market-oriented reforms and to support entrepreneurs but have given no sign of support for political reform.

Communist leaders who see the Internet as a source of economic growth and better-paid jobs were slow to enforce the same level of control they impose on movies, books and other media, apparently for fear of hurting fledgling entertainment, shopping and other online businesses.

Until recently, Web surfers could post comments online or on microblog services without leaving their names. That gave ordinary Chinese a unique opportunity to express themselves to a public audience in a society where newspapers, television and other media are state-controlled. The most popular microblog services say they have more than 300 million users and some users have millions of followers reading their comments.

The Internet also has given the public an unusual opportunity to publicize accusations of official misconduct.

A local party official in China's southwest was fired in November after scenes from a videotape of him having sex with a young woman spread quickly on the Internet. Screenshots were uploaded by a former journalist in Beijing, Zhu Ruifeng, to his Hong Kong website, an online clearing house for corruption allegations.

Some industry analysts suggest allowing Web surfers in a controlled setting to vent helps communist leaders stay abreast of public sentiment in their fast—changing society. Still, microblog services and online bulletin boards are required to employ censors to enforce content restrictions. Researchers say they delete millions of postings a day.

The government says the latest Internet regulation before the National People's Congress is aimed at protecting Web surfers' personal information and cracking down on abuses such as junk e—mail. It would require users to report their real names to Internet service and telecom providers.

The main ruling party newspaper, People's Daily, has called in recent weeks for tighter Internet controls, saying rumours spread online have harmed the public. In one case, it said stories about a chemical plant explosion resulted in the deaths of four people in a car accident as they fled the area.

Proposed rules released this month by the General Administration of Press and Publications would bar Chinese—foreign joint ventures from publishing books, music, movies and other material online in China. Publishers would be required to locate their servers in China and have a Chinese citizen as their local legal representative.

That is in line with rules that already bar most foreign access to China's media market, but the decision to group the restrictions together and publicize them might indicate official attitudes are hardening.

That comes after the party was rattled by foreign news reports about official wealth and misconduct.

In June, Bloomberg News reported that Xi's extended family has amassed assets totaling $376 million, though it said none was traced to Xi. The government has blocked access to Bloomberg's website since then.

In October, The New York Times reported that Premier Wen Jiabao's relatives had amassed $2.7 billion since he rose to national office in 2002. Access to the Times' Chinese-language site has been blocked since then.

Previous efforts to tighten controls have struggled with technical challenges in a country with more than 500 million Internet users.

Microblog operators such as Sina Corp. and Tencent Ltd. were ordered in late 2011 to confirm users' names but have yet to finish the daunting task.

Web surfers can circumvent government filters by using virtual private networks software that encrypts Web traffic and is used by companies to transfer financial data and other sensitive information. But VPN users say disruptions that began in 2011 are increasing, suggesting Chinese regulators are trying to block encrypted traffic.

Curbs on access to foreign sites have prompted complaints by companies and Chinese scientists and other researchers.

In July, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said 74 percent of companies that responded to a survey said unstable Internet access "impedes their ability to do business."

Chinese leaders "realize there are detrimental impacts on business, especially foreign business, but they have counted the cost and think it is still worthwhile," said Lam. "There is no compromise about the political imperative of controlling the Internet."
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High marks for Michelle; mixed reviews for Obama’s cabinet

WASHINGTON, December 28, 2012 PTI

While U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cabinet received mixed reviews in a new opinion poll, the first lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have scored high marks for their performance.

Mr. Obama, 51, who has won a second term in the White House, had an approval rating of 52 per cent while 43 per cent of those who took part in the poll said they disapproved his handling of various issues.

Vice President Joe Biden's approval rating stood at 54 per cent, with 40 per cent disapproving of how the 70-year-old Democrat handled his role, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released yesterday.

But Mr. Obama's wife, Michelle, 48, got high marks as she prepares for another four years in the White House.

Seventy-three per cent of Americans approved of the way Ms. Michelle was handling her job as first lady, compared to 20 per cent who disapproved.

Among the causes the first lady has championed since 2008 is the "Let's Move!" programme, designed to combat childhood obesity by encouraging healthier eating habits and exercise.

She has also taken on unemployment among America's military veterans through the "Joining Forces" programme, which matches servicemen and women with job search resources.

In the poll, Hillary Clinton, 65, also received high marks -- 66 per cent of Americans approved of the job she is doing, compared to 30 per cent who disapproved, CNN reported.

The poll was taken almost entirely ahead of a scathing report reviewing the September attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans, including the US Ambassador dead.

The report cited "systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the department Ms. Clinton heads.

Ms. Clinton is on her way out as the nation's top diplomat, a move she has long planned. While many speculate she's considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, she has consistently claimed she's out of politics for good, and will use her post-State Department life to relax.

Last week Mr. Obama nominated U.S. Senator John Kerry, 69, to succeed Ms. Clinton, and Mr. Kerry is expected to be confirmed easily by his colleagues in the Senate.

Another Cabinet member, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, received lower marks in the CNN poll released Wednesday.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents approved of the job Mr. Geithner, 51, is doing at the Treasury, compared with 42 per cent who disapproved and 21 per cent who were unsure.

Like Ms. Clinton, Mr. Geithner has said that he would step down for a second Obama term, but not before the fiscal cliff crisis is resolved.

The poll was conducted with 620 Americans by telephone from December 17-18.
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