Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kipyego, Wude win Delhi half-marathon

NEW DELHI, September 30, 2012 (PTI)

Braving hot and humid conditions, Kenya's Edwin Kipyego emerged victorious in the men's elite category, while Ethiopia's Yimer Wude won the women's title of the Airtel Delhi half-marathon on Sunday.

Kipyego covered the 21.097 km distance in one hour and 55 seconds to pocket USD 25,000 winner's purse. He however was behind previous editions wining time of 59:30s, set by Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia.

Two-time winner Deriba Merga holds the course record of 59:15 seconds clocked in 2008, which is his personal best in this distance.

Last year's champion Desisa suffered from Achilles tendon pain during the course of the run to finish seventh with a timing of 1:02:50s.

Kenya dominated the men's elite field as Kipyego's compatriots Leonard Langat and Silas Kipruto finished second and third respectively.

Langat, who was matching the pace of Kipyego most of the distance, failed to accelerate towards the end and clocked 1:01:07s to settle for silver. Kipruto clocked 1:01:57s to win the bronze.

In the women's event, Ethiopia had one and two with Yimer Wude emerging victorious with a timing of one hour, 11 minutes and 10 seconds. Her compatriot Waganesh Amare and Kenya's Helah Kiprop finished second and third clocking 1:11:12s and 1:11:18s respectively.

Two-time winner Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia could not finish the race because of a leg injury.

Rahul Kumar Pal (1:06:12s) finished first among Indian men and overall 16th in the race. Nitender Singh and Indrajeet Patel came second and third among Indian winners respectively.

Sudha Singh was the fastest woman among Indians, clocking 1:19:34, followed by Kavita Raut and last year's champion Lalita Babbar.
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Triple Five scheme to boost tea export, says Scindia

COONOOR, September 30, 2012

The Union Government has set up a directorate, as part of the Tea Board, exclusively for small tea growers to address the issues of these growers, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said here on Friday.

Speaking to presspersons after inaugurating the 119th conference of the United Planters' Association of Southern India (UPASI), he said this was an important measure for the welfare of small growers. The initiative was now only for the tea sector. This could be extended to other plantation sectors, if needed.

The plantation sector was expected to see higher outlay in the XII Plan with focus on various areas such as research and development and small growers. The Minister said that some of the areas of importance for the tea sector were re-plantation and rejuvenation, increase in exports, and tackling challenges such as labour shortage and higher mechanisation.

The domestic market for tea was seeing healthy growth. However, India should also increase its tea exports, and, hence, the government had come out with the Triple Five (555) scheme.

"I am monitoring the scheme closely myself," he said. Under this, the focus would be on five markets with five major measures for five years. For the first phase, the government had sanctioned Rs.6.5 crore for this scheme.

Tea production was 976 million kg last year and domestic consumption 840 million kg. Exports were 191 million kg.

The Ministry would also pursue the demand of the tea industry to share the social cost for the welfare of the workers, he said.

The price sharing formula scheme would be restructured to increase its popularity and make it more beneficiary-friendly, he added. The scheme for mechanisation, which was introduced for coffee, would be continued in the XII Plan.

C. S. Bedi, Chairman of the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations, said some of the challenges faced by the sector were availability of land and the need for sustainable growth.

D. Hegde, President, UPASI, expressed concern over the steep increase in the cost of production. He also felt the need for revamping some of the legislations, including amendments made to the Employees Provident Fund Scheme.

Ancheril is UPASI President

PTI reports:

G. J. Ancheril, on Saturday, was today elected as President of the United Planters' Association of Southern India (UPASI) for 2012-13.

Peter Mathias was elected Vice-President of the association at the 119th annual conference of UPASI, an association release said.
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Madrid anti-austerity protests turn violent again

MADRID, September 30, 2012

Tens of thousands of Spaniards and Portuguese rallied in the streets of their countries' capitals Saturday to protest enduring deep economic pain from austerity measure. The demonstration in Madrid turned violent after people, enraged over a long-lasting recession and sky-high unemployment, clashed with riot police for the third time in less than a week near Parliament.

The latest violence came after thousands of Spaniards who had marched close to the Parliament building in downtown Madrid protested peacefully for hours. Police with batons later moved in just before midnight to clear out those who remained late because no permission had been obtained from authorities to hold the demonstration.

Some protesters responded by throwing bottles and rocks. An Associated Press photographer saw police severely beat one protester who was taken away in an ambulance.

Spain's state TV said early Sunday that two people were hurt and 12 detained near the barricades erected in downtown Madrid to shield the Parliament building. Television images showed police charging protesters and hitting them with their batons, but the violence did not appear as severe as a protest on Tuesday when 38 people were arrested and 64 injured.

Earlier, the boisterous crowds let off ear-splitting whistles and yelled "Fire them, fire them!" referring to the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and venting their anger against tax hikes, government spending cuts and the highest unemployment rate among the 17 nations that use the euro currency.

On Friday, Mr. Rajoy's administration presented a 2013 draft budget that will cut overall spending by 40 billion ($51.7 billion), freezing the salaries of public workers, cutting spending for unemployment benefits and even reducing spending for Spain's royal family next year by 4 percent.

Pablo Rodriguez, a 24-year-old student doing a master's in agricultural development in Denmark, said the austerity measures and bad economy mean most of his friends in Spain are unemployed or doing work they didn't train for. "I would love to work here, but there is nothing for me here," Mr. Rodriguez said. "By the time the economy improves it will be too late. I will be settled somewhere else with a family. One of the disasters in Spain is they spent so much to educate me and so many others and they will lose us."

Madrid authorities put the number of protesters at 4,500 though demonstrators said the crowd was larger.

In neighbouring Portugal, tens of thousands took to the streets of Lisbon Saturday afternoon to peacefully protest against even deeper austerity cutbacks than Spain has imposed.

Retired banker Antonio Trinidade said the budget cuts Portugal is locked into in return for the nation's 78 billion ($101 billion) bailout are making the country's economy the worst he has seen in his lifetime. His pension has been cut, and he said countless young Portuguese are increasingly heading abroad because they can't make a living at home.

"The government and the troika controlling what we do because of the bailout just want to cut more and more and rob from us," Mr. Trinidade said, referring to the troika of creditors he European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. "The young don't have any future, and the country is on the edge of an abyss. I'm getting toward the end of my life, but these people in their 20s or 30s don't have jobs, or a future."

In Spain, Mr. Rajoy has an absolute majority and has pushed through waves of austerity measures over the last nine months trying to prevent Spain from being forced into the same kind of bailouts taken by Portugal, Ireland and Greece. But the country has an unemployment rate of nearly 25 per cent, and the jobless rate is more than 50 per cent for those under age 25.

Investors worried about Spain's economic viability have forced up the interest rate they are willing to pay to buy Spanish bonds. The country's banks hurting from a property boom that went bust are set to get help soon from a 100 billion ($129 billion) financial lifeline from the eurozone, and Mr. Rajoy is pondering whether to ask for help from the ECB to buy Spanish bonds.

Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said Saturday that the budget cuts for next year were necessary to ease market tensions and try to bring down high interest rates Spain must pay to get investors to buy its bonds.
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In China, local retailers thrive after gradual opening

September 30, 2012

Every morning, dozens of Beijing residents make their way to the east gate of Tuanjiehu park, a sprawling oasis of trees and ponds located in the heart of the Chinese capital.

For several hours every morning, the streets of the Tuanjiehu neighbourhood are clogged with vegetable vendors, fruit sellers and farmers from the villages of nearby Hebei province.

Beijing residents, mostly the elderly and stay-at-home mothers, make their way to Tuanjiehu on bicycles from across eastern Beijing, and begin a daily ritual of inspecting produce and haggling with vendors as they exchange greetings with familiar faces.

In the two decades since China first opened its doors to 26 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector, neighbourhood markets such as this one in the Chinese capital have continued to coexist with big Chinese retail chains that have emerged in the past fifteen years, favoured by many Chinese as a source of fresher, and cheaper, produce.

While the experience of China has been cited by many as an argument for opening India's sector, there are, however, at least two key differences in the organisation of China's retail and in its opening process that are markedly different from the Indian context.

For one, unorganised retail — the sector that stands to be affected the most — has a much larger presence in India. Shi Yongheng, an economics professor from Tsinghua University who has studied the role of FDI in China's retail sector, told The Hindu in an interview earlier this year that he believed that farmers and small retailers had, on the whole, benefited from the allowing of FDI which had improved logistics and procurement in the supply chain, even if many had indeed moved out of their jobs to cities as the sector underwent a reorganisation.

Mr. Shi and most Chinese economists welcomed the reorganisation in the sector, seeing it as employing too many people and too inefficient.

"The job losses have not been felt because of the pace of urbanisation and the growth of cities" which absorbed the lost jobs, Mr. Shi said, saying the process was part of China's larger plan to accelerate urbanisation. Last year, China's urban population exceeded its rural population for the first time.

The second crucial difference is that China gradually opened the sector, giving local chains enough time and protection to learn to compete with foreign entrants. China first allowed 26 per cent FDI in 1992, and expanded this to 51 per cent — what India has allowed — only 12 years later.

The government in China also set up what Mr. Shi describes as "invisible barriers" to limit foreign entry. Foreign firms were first only allowed to open in three cities, and given land in locations where local retail firms did not have a presence.

Mr. Shi said the entry of Walmart and Carrefour had helped make China's retail sector more efficient, modernising the sector and increasing investment in supply chains. In China, the "foreign invasion" that many feared would harm the local sector and dominate the market did not materialise.

Today, China's biggest retail chains are all Chinese, such as the Bailian group. Walmart, which has more than 350 stores in China, only has a 5.5 per cent market share, according to the China Market Research Group. The sector is diversified enough to ensure prices are kept low, Mr. Shi said.
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FDI decision marks departure towards authoritarian state: Prabhat Patnaik

CHENNAI, September 30, 2012

The Union government's recent policy decisions on FDI in multi-brand retail and hike in diesel prices represent an "enormous departure towards an authoritarian State," economist Prabhat Patnaik said here on Saturday.

Delivering a lecture at the Asian College of Journalism, Prof. Patnaik said: "A democratic state is not supposed to become a prisoner of any private rationality that happens to be operating in the realm of economy. What is happening now marks a fundamental shift in this position as far as the Indian society is concerned."

What was being said was that "the state can act only by ensuring that the foreign financiers are happy. The state acts to promote their private rationality," he said.

He stressed the need for the announcement of a scheme for ensuring that no retail trader was harmed by FDI in multi-rand retail. "If [the government] actually thinks no retail trader is going to be harmed, it should be all the more emboldened to announce such a scheme."

"This had been a remarkable aspect of policy making in India, when policies that distinctly had an adverse effect on a large number of very poor people were nonetheless announced as being part of the social good, even though they are, in terms of any social rationality, irrational," he said.

Prof. Patnaik said the argument that lack of fiscal resources led to the recent decisions was not acceptable, as the last two or three budgets had facilitated tax concessions for corporate entities, amounting to an annual loss of Rs. 5 lakh crore.

Anyone who was under the notion that in the current situation of globalisation, there was nothing one could do, should not be at the helm of affairs. "If the global scenario imposes an anti-democratic stance, we have to delink from the scenario," he said.

Neoliberal technocrats had latched on to liberal bourgeois parties not only in India but elsewhere. "But, fundamentally the essence of these policies would remain anti-democratic," Prof. Patnaik said, adding that "if this is not the time to intervene, it will become too late."
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Indian Internet economy all set to explode: study

NEW DELHI, September 30, 2012

The Internet has established its role as a powerful economic force multiplier with a new study projecting that its contribution to India's GDP will explode to $100 billion (Rs. 5 lakh crore) by 2015 from $30 billion (Rs.1.5 lakh crore) at present.

The study on the "Impact of Internet on the Indian Economy" by McKinsey, which is still to be released, could well become a new anchor for the government's programmes to enhance digital citizenship.

Revealing the highlights of the study, in the presence of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal at a curtain raiser held to announce a two-day multistakeholder conference on Internet governance to be held at FICCI here on October 4-5, McKinsey said the contribution of the Internet to global GDP is roughly three per cent or $1.7 trillion and its performance in India will eventually mirror this trend.

We're not for control, says Sibal

The government is also alive to the growing power of the Internet, including as a communications multiplier. Mr. Sibal, while stating that "the government of India does not want control over the Internet," emphasised that "any nation which wants to be a stakeholder and key player in the 21st Century must come to terms with the cyberworld."

The world currently has 2 billion Internet users, of whom 50 per cent live outside the developed world. The global Internet population is projected to climb to 2.6-2.9 billion by 2015. According to McKinsey, of this, 30 "aspiring countries" with a very high economic growth have seen Internet users grow at five times the level in the developed world. In the next 10 years, netizens in these 30 countries are projected to grow at 10 times the pace in the developed world.

By 2015, based on existing projections, India, which with 120 million users has the third largest Internet user base in the world, is projected to hit 350 million, catapulting it to a global ranking of 2, with the fastest rate of growth. An alternative growth model used by McKinsey, factoring in the trend that wireless-based expansion usually overshoots any standard formula, presents a more ambitious forecast of half a billion Internet users by 2015. This is good news for mobile companies since three out of every four or 75 per cent of all new Internet users in India are expected to go online, using wireless devices. Globally, 15-20 per cent of the users access Internet on wireless technologies, while in India this figure will eventually be closer to 55 per cent.

Recognising this move, Mr. Sibal told mobile operators to focus on data for revenues rather than voice. Of the Internet's $30 billion contribution to India's GDP, individual users investing in smart devices and phones, PCs and telecom services spend $9 billion. The spend of private enterprise, both large and SME investment in hardware, software, including cloud technologies, is $8 billion. The government spends roughly $2 billion and the export sector, net of imports, roughly $10 billion. The Indian Internet economy is larger than several of the service sectors such as hospitality or even the utility sector with an additional 1.6–2 times multiplier effect, since this expenditure creates a demand for up and downstream industries. The growth, however, in terms of both the GDP and users, is faced with several barriers and the need to ensure that individual pieces of the Internet's ecosystem work in harmony with one another.
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Small is big in Asia’s booming retail sector

September 30, 2012

Look East to find out what happens when foreign retailers set up shop. Asia's recent economic history is one of epic battles between big international retailers and small traders. Across the region, governments that opened the door to big stores as they restructured their economies or sought better ties with the West, had to eventually step in to prevent their own small trade from being swallowed up.

Japan, which registered retail sales of more than $1,500 billion, has legislation to protect small and medium stores from the impact of large stores. Small traders comprise a large portion of the Liberal Democratic Party's support base. In 1973, Yasuhiro Nakasone, then the Trade Minister, assured them that the government would "nurture" small and medium-sized companies and "increase resistance" to foreign capital. He introduced a new large stores law that gave powers to local authorities to regulate retail outlets sized between 500 and 1,500 square metres. The authorities could insist on changing the size of the store, working hours and even the number of holidays in deference to small stores.

American companies such as Kodak and Toys "R" US, which were trying to enter the Japanese market, found these regulations stifling. The U.S. government, through the U.S.-Japan Structural Impediments Initiative, put pressure on their behalf and even took the matter to the WTO in 1995. Buckling under pressure, the Japanese government repealed the large stores law.

The gates open, upwards of $1 billion of American investments flowed in — but not without consequences. Between 1997 and 2004, the number of large stores grew at the rate of about 3 per cent on average. In the same period, the number of small stores declined at the rate of 2 per cent on an average (Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry, Tokyo, 2009). The loss of livelihood became an important political issue. In 2007, the government revised three pieces of legislation — the City Planning Law, the Large-scale Retail Location Law and the City Centre Revitalization Act — to control the expansion of large-scale stores. The country had come full circle in about 10 years. In today's Japan, small stores exist alongside big stores, not because of a benign large store culture but due to government regulations.

Indonesia, which registered retail sales of more than $290 billion, also learnt the lessons the hard way.

As part of IMF's $43-billion rescue package for the country after its 1997 financial crisis, the government agreed to implement a series of reforms, including opening of the retail market, lifting restrictions that had until then prevented foreign retailers from operating in provincial capitals and other large cities.

Biggies such as Carrefour arrived and large-scale stores spread throughout the country. A study conducted in 2007 found that the sales in supermarkets grew an average of 15 per cent while sales in small stores declined by 2 per cent a year between 1999 and 2004 (SMERU 2007). The negative impact continued. In 2009, Jakarta Post, quoting the Indonesian Market Traders Association, reported that the turnover and occupancy rates of traditional markets dropped by 60 per cent and 40 per cent respectively between 2005 and 2009.

This compelled the government to pass two major regulations — one in 2007 and the other in 2008 — to protect small traders. The new rules established categories of stores based on sizes, stipulated a minimum distance between large and small stores, permitted hypermarkets only on arterial roads, prevented supermarkets in local neighbourhoods and regulated their working hours. Another important rule prevented large stores from selling select goods at prices lower than in the nearest traditional market. Reports of poor implementation of rules abound, but the fact is that Indonesia learnt that large stores had to be overseen.

Thailand, with retail sales of more than $100 billion a year, is another Asian country grappling with the issue of proliferating large stores. Like Indonesia, it too went through a financial crisis in 1997 and sought IMF help. Policy changes followed. Foreign companies bought struggling stores from local companies and fuelled a retail boom.

In the process, the share of the traditional markets reduced from 74 per cent in 1997 to 42 per cent by 2001 in sale value. In 2002, a survey done by Thailand Development Research Institute revealed that traditional retail outlets in a one-km radius of a hypermarket suffered.

When the small traders started to complain, the government brought in a draft law in 2007 to regulate strictly the location of large stores using zoning laws.

Foreign investors complained that the new law would make Thailand a most unattractive destination for investment. The bill was never passed.

But the small Thai traders succeeded in pushing for amendments to the zoning laws. In 2003, the Public Works and Town and Country Planning Department prohibited large retail stores of 1,000 square metres or more within 15 km of commercial town centres.

The question to ask is why these Asian countries, which invited foreign retail under duress or otherwise, have regulations on size, location, working hours, pricing and other aspects of large retailers.

Evidently, that is because they poach on the clientele of the small and medium stores. Their deeper pockets gave them an unfair advantage to mobilise resources and acquire prime space for their high-volume, low-margins business model.

Forced by political circumstances, Asian governments tried to provide a level playing field, framing regulations to balance everyone's interests. Even though the results have been mixed, the fact remains that foreign or even local investment in large retail is a real issue for those who are disadvantaged by it.
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Why are women disappearing from workforce, asks Brinda

GUWAHATI, September 30, 2012

Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat on Saturday called for a deeper analysis of figures brought out by the National Sample Survey of 2009-2010 which had revealed that there were 21 million fewer women workers in the labour force compared to 2004-2005.

"The large number of disappearance of women from the labour force signifies distress and a much deeper analysis is required," Ms. Karat said, while delivering the 8th Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Lecture on "Gender Concerns and Strategies in the Resistance to Imperialist Globalisation" here.

Reacting to government claims that many more young women, over 15 years of age, who had been counted as part of the labour force had now registered education as their principal activity, Ms. Karat said while there had been a welcome increase in adolescents studying in secondary schools, this could not explain the huge decrease of women in the work force.

"Either there is something drastically wrong with the surveys, or women have tried hard to find work and not having found it have withdrawn from the labour force. A large number of women take in home-based work but may not register themselves as workers. It is also possible that there has been an increase in women's migration due to economic distress, making them truly invisible, and which has not been captured," she said.

The senior CPI (M) leader also said the government, which was the main employer of women in the organised sector, has, through its policy of disinvestment and downsizing, restricted their recruitment. While in the public sector, the growth of the unrecognised sector through contract, casual and outsourcing has grown phenomenally.

"Approximately 50 lakh women are employed in various government schemes without being recognised as government workers with the right to government level wages. Flagship programmes like the ICDS, NRHM and the Mid Day Meal Scheme are dependent on them. But not only are they denied recognition as government employees, the government exploits their services, paying them a pittance," Ms. Karat alleged.

Refuting the claim that liberalisation had provided them more opportunities, the Marxist leader argued that while this was true to the extent that a certain class of women had found increased employment in IT, the hospitality industry, and the communications industry, these had been in relatively smaller numbers.

She pointed out that in urban India it was not these high profile industries, but work as domestic maids which had seen the largest growth for employment for women.

"Even while this is the reality, India has refused to sign the ILO convention that accords recognition to basic rights of workers to those in domestic service as maids," she alleged.

The number of women in manufacturing came down from 11.64 million to 10.75 million while the number of women in construction work has more than doubled from around 2.07 million to 6.50 million in 2009-2010.

The former Vice Chancellor of Gauhati University Dr. Debo Prasad Barooah chaired the memorial lecture and the former Assam Chief Secretary, Harendra Nath Das, inagurated the annual lecture organised by the Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Trust.
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Army faces shortage of officers

NEW DELHI, September 30, 2012

The Indian Army is facing a peculiar problem – not enough youngsters are attracted to join the 1.1-million strong force as officers.

Expressing concern at the situation, the Army Chief, General Bikram Singh, has said that about 10,500 officers are needed. The shortage, he said, was impacting the officer-jawan relationship.

According to official figures, the shortage is around 10,500 in the Army, 1,400 in the Navy and 1,100 in the Air Force.

Union Defence Minister A. K. Antony has said the shortage is "partly attributable to accretions from time to time, tough selection procedures and difficult service conditions coupled with perceived high degree of risk involved in recruitment and training."

He said a number of steps to attract youth to the armed forces have been taken. These include increase in tenure of Short Service Commission (SSC) officers from 10 years to 14 years, increasing promotional avenues for officers by implementing the A.V. Singh Committee recommendations on restructuring of officers' cadre of the Indian Army and implementing the suggestions of the Sixth Pay Commission report. Last week, the Government had broadly rolled out the one rank-one pension scheme for ex-servicemen and also hiked family pension.

For the purpose of recruitment, the country is divided into recruiting zones and every zone is allotted a quota based on a percentage of its population and ethnic grouping. A legacy, slowly being diluted, is that of combat arm units or regiments recruiting from a particular zone or mixture of ethnic groups.

The shortage of officers has been plaguing the force for several years, resulting in poor management at the unit level. The Army's sanctioned strength is about 46,600 officers. Army officials attribute the shortage to accretion in force levels from time to time and say that as a career option the job is characterised by hardship in the form of unsettled life, disruption of children's education, risk factor and early retirement age. Every year about 600 officers retire as Lt. Colonels and Colonels at the age of 54.

The Army Chief said programmes were being held in several colleges and universities to motivate the youth to join the force.

"The youngsters feel motivated to join but their motivation level goes down when they discuss the Army as a career option with their parents. We intend to reach out to parents. Risks are everywhere but in the armed forces these are managed well," said General Singh.

"We are taking measures like spreading awareness and convincing parents to send their children into the force to address the shortage. The disenchantment is also affecting soldiers as more than 10,000 took pre-mature retirement from the force last year. In 2011, 10,315 soldiers opted for premature retirement, while the figure for 2010 and 2009 was 7,249 and 7,499 respectively. The jawans, who are better educated than in the past, retire around a productive age of 35 years to look for greener pastures instead of continuing in the force," senior Army officials added.

They said the Government has sanctioned establishment of two additional Service Selection Boards (SSBs) under the selection centre in the North at Roopnagar, Ropar, in Punjab which would facilitate the intake of more officers.

With its motto of "Live for something rather than die for nothing", the Army is planning intensive publicity campaigns targeting both urban and rural areas. Officials said a number of "image projection campaigns" have been launched by the recruitment directorate to attract quality youth and spread awareness about the "Army as a career".
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Director CIPHET lays foundation of International Training Center

Ludhiana, September 29:

An earth breaking ceremony was today performed at the Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) to lay foundation of International training center at the institute campus. The facility is expected to come up with a cost of Rs 1.25 crore approximately.

ITC would be having state of the art facilities including conference hall, multi media center, guest house facilities for entrepreneurship development. CIPHET Director Dr U.S Shivhare said that ITC would be a unique facility and would help in training of farmers and entrepreneurs coming from country and abroad. He performed the earth breaking ceremony and lay foundation of the building. Senior faculty members including Project Coordinator (PHT) Dr S.K Nanda, Project Coordinator (APA) Dr P.R Bhatnagar, Head Transfer of Technology (TOT) Division Dr Deepak Raj Rai, Head Agriculture Structures & Environmental Control (AS&EC) Dr S.N Jha, Senior Administrative Officer (SAO) Raj Kumar and officials of the Central Public Works department were also present on the occasion.
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Com Nirmal Dhaliwal, President and Com Bant Singh Brar, General Secretary Punjab unit of AITUC.

Ludhiana, 29.09.2012

We note with anguish that the UPA-II Govt. is increasingly working in the interest of big corporate business houses of India and the international cartels undermining the national interest. Latest decisions of the Govt. are enough indicators of the rightist shift in the policies detrimental to Indian growth and progress based on justice and equality as was directed to the national govt. by the Indian constitution. The Govt. is more inclined to respond to the demands of the international finance capital and the MNCs.

Com Amarjeet Kaur said that the rising prices of essential commodities is further making the life of common man miserable, the farmers suicides continue unabated in the wake of persistent agrarian crises and indebtedness of farmers a fact of gross failure of the govt. on that score, the job insecurity and the job losses on the one hand and increased trends of contractorization and outsourcing, contractualisation and casualisation of labour is norm of the day. There is attack on unionization itself and pressure on existing unions to suppress and intimidate them to contain their activities. The natural resources of the country are being put on sale to private companies- Indian as well as International on throw away prices. Bringing in FDI in retail trade will be big blow to more than 4 crore small traders, shopkeepers, marginal and poor farmers, other small producers of goods in home based and small scale industries etc. The government has been responsible for unprecedented rise in corruption at higher places with loss to national revenue and denial of rightful share of common people in the wealth being produced in the country. She further deplored that accumulation of wealth in the hands of few, whereas the vast majority is suffering under acute poverty and unemployment. The latest reports have indicated that 100 top rich families own assets to the tune of 16 lakh crores of rupees whereas 70% Indians are forced to live on meager spending of Rs.16.60 paise per day. With the policies being pursued will further hasten these gaps.

The govt. continues to act in ruthless manner against the common people and the response to people's agitations by the Prime minister and some of his ministers are arrogant to the core. This situation demands of people's response on wider scale to meet the challenge of policy framework of the govt. and seeking change of direction.

In this background the trade unions have come out with their strategies to fight the attacks of government on working people. National convention of workers organized by 11 central trade unions and other independent federations and associations representing several sectors of economy held on 4th September at New Delhi noted with grave concern on the government's non-responsive attitude to the plight of the working people and their agitations for a dignified life, decent working and living conditions, for meeting of the basic needs of their families. They have decided to intensify their joint agitations on the charter of demands which includes seeking check on price rise of essential commodities, end to labour law violations, for social security and pension to all workers, abolition of any ceiling on Provident Fund, gratuity and bonus, abolition of contract labour, steady regularization of them and equal pay for equal work, no disinvestment of public sector/ govt. sector enterprises and resources, national minimum wage to be raised to not less that Rs. 10,000, universal entitlement of maternity benefit to working women etc.

It is decided in the convention that 18th – 19th December 2012 would be observed as All India Law Violation Day and on 20th December there would be march to Parliament which will be carried forward later on through intensive campaign for organizing two days national general strike on 20-21 February 2013. It is to be noted that it will be for the first time in the history of independent India that whole of the trade union movement of all political colour and creed as well as independent unions will be acting in unison for success of this 2 days general strike which will be unprecedented as the economic crisis is also very grim and unprecedented.

Com Nirmal Dhaliwal, President and Com Bant Singh Brar, General Secretary of Punjab unit of AITUC said that the state govt. of Punjab is not following a different course as regards the economic policies in general are concerned. Rather it has been taking anti labour and anti farmer measures. It tolerates and permits communal activities of several groups reminding the dark days of terrorism which people of Punjab would never want to be revived in this land of peace and harmony amongst common masses. The people of the state while fighting against retrograde, anti people economic policies of the central and state govt. would have also to be continuously vigilant and brave fighters against divisive forces. They informed that several conventions will be held in the state on these issues, first one being at Ludhiana on 5th October where Com Gurudas Dass Gupta MP, General Secretary AITUC will address.
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Centre is confident of mopping up Rs.30,000 crore through disinvestment

NEW DELHI, September 28, 2012

Contrary to the underlined pessimism expressed by the Kelkar Committee with regard to the likely disinvestment proceeds during 2012-13, the government, on Friday, appeared confident in mopping up about Rs.25,000-30,000 crore through sell-off of the Centre's equity in public sector undertakings (PSUs) and thereby remain as close as possible to the fiscal deficit target of 5.1 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) set for the financial year.

At a press briefing here to present the government's stance on the recommendations of the 'Report of the committee on roadmap for fiscal consolidation' headed by 13th Finance Commission Chairman Vijay L. Kelkar, Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram said: "There is now a decision for disinvestment in several PSUs. Some more are under consideration. And, therefore, we believe that we could net about Rs.25,000-30,000 crore from that itself…Then there is spectrum auction, which is on stream. We have a target of Rs.40,000 crore…"

Dr. Mayaram's statement needs to be seen in the light of the Kelkar Committee report pegging the receipts from disinvestment this fiscal at Rs.10,000 crore, way below the budgeted target of Rs.30,000 crore.

In its report, the committee said: "It would be extremely difficult for the government to move ahead with its disinvestment programme, given the subdued equity market conditions. In our assessment, a conservative estimate for disinvestment receipts, if no policy interventions are made, would stand at around Rs.10,000 crore".

Asserting that policy interventions were in the pipeline and the government was watchful and would take steps to curb wasteful spending as also plug leakages in the implementation of various social and welfare schemes, Dr. Mayaram said: "Wasteful expenditure, if any, will be strongly curbed and, therefore, I am confident that we will be able to come pretty close to our fiscal deficit target...We are cognizant of the fact that there could be a possibility [of wasteful expenditure]...we will be watchful".

Even as the fiscal deficit during the April-August period this fiscal spiked to Rs.3.38 lakh crore or about 66 per cent of the budgeted target of 5.1 of GDP for the entire fiscal year, the DEA Secretary pointed to a development in the currency market which many may have not taken into account. Dr. Mayaram was referring to the steady appreciation of the rupee against the U.S. dollar.

"If rupee further strengthens, which we hope it will, with the steps the government is taking, we expect it could even touch 50 in the next three or four months…," he said while pointing to appreciation of the Indian currency to an over five-month high of 52.49 against the greenback to end the day's trading at 52.85 on the back of strong capital flows and hopes of more policy reforms.

"Now there is a much better foreign exchange management in terms of flows on account of decision that the government has taken in the last two to three weeks. We expect higher FDI flows to come into the country. So the pressure on the rupee is decreasing to that extent," Dr. Mayaram said while maintaining that the appreciation of the rupee would help in reducing the subsidy bill and containing inflation.

The net positive impact of a hardening rupee would be a lower import bill for petroleum products, considering that 80 per cent of the requirements are met through imports.

"(As and when the rupee strengthens further] our subsidy burden will go down even further…We expect inflation to come down because of that…A one rupee change [vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar] gives you about eight basis points of drop in inflation," the DEA Secretary said.

"We are expecting that we will be able to come very close to our fiscal target if we are prudent in our expenditure where all important critical expenditure commitment will be fully met," he said.
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Watson, Warner wallop India into submission

COLOMBO, September 28, 2012

Remember Adam Gilchrist and Mathew Hayden's brutal assault against the Indian attack at Johannesburg during the 2003 World Cup final?

A similar but even more bruising tale unfolded under the Colombo skies on a Friday night at the R. Premadasa Stadium with Shane Watson and David Warner running riot.

Their shots brooked no resistance be it from fielders or gravity and the openers' pulse-pounding 133-run partnership propelled Australia to a nine-wicket victory over India in an ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights Group II match.

Chasing India's 140 for seven in 20 overs, Australia blazed away to 141 for one in 14.1 overs.

India stepped into the game with five bowlers and M.S. Dhoni, perhaps enthused by the spin-dominance in the earlier match between Pakistan and South Africa, retained Piyush Chawla. But the expected ambush remained a failed fantasy.

Early assault

'Man of the Match' Watson (72, 42b, 2x4, 7x6) dismantled R. Ashwin and Warner (63 n.o., 41b, 7x4, 3x6) caned Zaheer Khan and with the Power Play gifting 47 runs, the Indian fielders kept staring at a white ball constantly flying into the night sky.

Ashwin strayed in his line and when Zaheer offered marginal width, the Australian duo's bats were greased lightning.

No bowler was spared and every fresh spell was dented with sixes, be it Harbhajan Singh, Piyush, Irfan Pathan, Virat Kohli or Yuvraj Singh.

If ever there was a fair distribution of destruction on a cricket pitch, this was it and the Indians were resigned to a forlorn night.

Watson eventually fell to Yuvraj but his 81-ball alliance with Warner had put the game far beyond India's grasp.

Earlier, India's quest for a sizeable score was squandered through a regular fall of wickets.

As expected, Virender Sehwag was dropped and Irfan accompanied Gautam Gambhir to the crease.

Gambhir picked a four each off Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins but got run-out and after that India's search for a critical partnership remained a futile one.

Irfan struck a six off Watson and Kohli drilled two deft fours but the firm tread and the quick-silver runs, still remained a dream.

Quick dismissals

Kohli holed out in the deep after failing to get on top of a Cummins delivery, Yuvraj fell on the pull and within the next six deliveries, India lost two more. Irfan perished to Watson and Rohit Sharma failed to counter Starc.

Dhoni and Suresh Raina then added 30 industrious runs for the sixth wicket before the Indian captain flung his bat at a wide delivery.

Raina and Ashwin lent some belated but sporadic energy to the last few overs, as Starc and Watson briefly suffered.

Those runs proved too meagre once the Australian openers launched their pulverising attack.


India: G. Gambhir (run out) 17 (12b, 3x4), Irfan c White b Watson 31 (30b, 2x4, 1x6), V. Kohli c Christian b Cummins 15 (13b, 2x4), Yuvraj c Maxwell b Watson 8 (10b, 1x4), Rohit b Starc 1 (2b), S. Raina c Maxwell b Watson 26 (19b, 4x4), M.S. Dhoni c Bailey b Cummins 15 (21b, 2x4), R. Ashwin (not out) 16 (12b, 1x4, 1x6), Harbhajan (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-2, lb-2, w-6): 10; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 140.

Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Gambhir), 2-56 (Kohli), 3-70 (Yuvraj), 4-74 (Irfan), 5-74 (Rohit), 6-104 (Dhoni), 7-137 (Raina).

Australia bowling: Maxwell 2-0-11-0, Starc 4-0-27-1, Cummins 4-0-16-2, Watson 4-0-34-3, Christian 2-0-19-0, Hogg 4-0-29-0.

Australia: S. Watson c (sub) Tiwary b Yuvraj 72 (42b, 2x4, 7x6), D. Warner (not out) 63 (41b, 7x4, 3x6), G. Maxwell (not out) 4 (6b); Extras (w-2): 2; Total (for one wkt. in 14.5 overs): 141.

Fall of wicket: 1-133 (Watson).

India bowling: Ashwin 3.5-0-32-0, Zaheer 3-0-18-0, Harbhajan 2-0-20-0, Piyush 1-0-14-0, Irfan 1-0-19-0, Kohli 1-0-10-0, Yuvraj 2-0-16-1, Rohit 1-0-12-0.
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Patil & Co. set for exciting time

RAJKOT, September 29, 2012

Some thirty years ago after he earned the sobriquet 'The Adelaide Hero' Sandeep Patil finds himself at the helm of the India's senior selection committee. He ought to be a happy man, although knowing well that selection matters can be at times as annoying as a long thorn in the flesh.

Batting in the middle may have been easy, he may think so, as he takes charge from the NKP Salve Challenger series set to start from Saturday at Khanderi village on the Rajkot-Jamnagar highway.

During the heady days when he took international cricket by storm, he thrashed big, muscular and skilful fast bowlers like Dennis Lillee, Rodney Hogg, Len Pascoe for a memorable 174 at the Adelaide Oval and soon he was in his elements at Old Trafford when he smashed fast bowler Bob Willis for six fours in a single over that a no-ball in between. His buccaneer approach saw him make an unconquered 129 against Wills, Derek Pringle, Ian Botham, Phil Edmonds and Geoff Miller.

It was exhilarating stuff from the swashbuckling right-hander, who learned to play the game at Shivaji Park, Mumbai and one was thrilled to hear his big hitting endeavour from Alan McGilvray on Radio Australia and thereafter from John Arlott and Brian Johnston on BBC Test match special. Two years later in 1983, this correspondent was lucky to see Kapil Dev's Indians in action in the World Cup and in the semifinal when Mohinder Amarnath and Kirti shared 24 overs and pinned down the England batsmen, Patil hastened India's victory with a scintillating unbeaten half-century.

Patil provided many joyful days while turning out for Mumbai and India. He would readily admit though that he fell short of his own expectations, but he was the crowd puller of Indian cricket after Salim Durani, responding with sixes when demanded. After his stint with Mumbai he played for Madhya Pradesh, but it must be said that he had a rollercoaster ride in the post-retirement days.

He was deeply hurt when ejected as a coach of the Indian team in the mid 1990s. He sought solace in Nairobi coaching the Kenyan national team and guiding to them to the 2003 semifinals of the ICC World Cup in South Africa and while spending time at Mount Kilimanjaro in the course of his visits to Kenya.

With no one in the BCCI inclined to give him some work, he coached Mumbai Champs in the erstwhile Indian Cricket league (ICL). When things became uncertain about ICL and the BCCI offered them amnesty, he took it, returned to the mainstream of Indian cricket and was appointed director of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) at Bangalore. Not in the any realm - public or even within the BCCI - Patil's appointment as chairman of the selection committee was a surprise sprung by the BCCI President N. Srinivasan at the AGM at the Cricket Centre, Mumbai on Thursday and it has been well received by the fraternity.

Many Mumbai cricketers -- raised by some extraordinary coaches like Vasant Amladi, Mohini Amladi, Ramnath Kenny, V.S. 'Marshal' Patil, Anna Vaidya, Hemant Hadkar, and Ramakant Achrekar - have been drawn into coaching and seek knowledge. Patil and Chandrakant Pandit (chairman of the BCCI junior national selection committee) bring to the table the knowledge they have gained over several decades as player and coach of junior and senior teams and having had the experience of running cricket academies.

With Indian cricket admittedly in the transition stage - following the exit of Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, Patil's committee that has the knowledgeable Saba Karim, Roger Binny, Vikram Rathour and Rajinder Singh Hans can look forward to exciting times with Indian cricket in the immediate future. Spotting the gifted for big league cricket, which comes in the three formats of Test, one-day and Twenty20, placing faith in them and giving direction to the national team would be exercise they should look at as an enjoyable role and not a chore.
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Bo a ‘negative example’, says Party

BEIJING, September 28, 2012

Suspended Politburo member and former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai has been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition meeting to be held on November 8.

The CPC's 24-member Politburo decided on Friday to hand over Mr. Bo's case to judicial authorities. This means the once-powerful Chongqing secretary will stand trial in coming months and will likely face a lengthy imprisonment after being charged with a range of crimes by the party's internal disciplinary body.

'Discipline violated'

The official Xinhua news agency said the Politburo had accepted the findings of an investigation which found Mr. Bo had "seriously violated party disciplines". He was accused of taking advantage of his office to receive "huge bribes" for himself and his family.

The Politburo also decided to convene the 18th Party Congress on November 8, ending weeks of anticipation about the crucial meeting which will formalise China's next leadership line-up.

The case of Mr. Bo — mired in a scandal following the murder of British businessman and Bo family associate Neil Heywood — had presented the Party with an unexpected challenge just months before the transition. Mr. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was on August 20 given a suspended death sentence for the murder of Heywood.

The two previous Politburo members to be expelled from the Party over corruption charges and amid factional infighting were sentenced to jail terms of 16 and 18 years.

Strong words

The strongly worded statement from the Politburo suggested Mr. Bo may face a stiffer punishment. Mr. Bo had "badly undermined" the reputation of the party and the country, the Politburo said, calling on all levels of the party to use his "negative example" to fight corruption.

'Position abused'

Listing a range of professional, financial and moral crimes, the Politburo said he was found to have "violated organisational and personnel disciplines". His position was "abused" by his wife and family to seek profits and property, the statement said, adding that he also maintained improper sexual relationships with many women.

In Chongqing, the sprawling metropolis on the Yangtze river where Mr. Bo was a popular Party chief for five years, his expulsion has been seen by many as having little to do with corruption.

"Is there any leader in China who hasn't taken bribes or isn't corrupt?" asked a Chongqing taxi-driver. "Bo Xilai did a lot for the people in Chongqing. It's all about politics".

Bigger crime

Mr. Bo's bigger crime, said one Chongqing scholar, was breaking unwritten party rules and challenging the authority of the Central government by promoting himself as a populist candidate for the Standing Committee.

Mr. Bo's trumpeting of his welfare-focused "Chongqing model", which, the scholar said, was built on financial support from the Central government, "angered Beijing".

He pointed out that Mr. Bo's successor in this municipality, Zhang Dejiang, had contrastingly stressed the authority of the Central government in every meeting. "Zhang has even said there is no Chongqing model," the scholar said.

Mr. Zhang is expected to be promoted to the next Standing Committee — likely to comprise seven members and headed by Vice-President Xi Jinping — at the November Congress, while Mr. Bo faces charges that could land him in prison.
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Aircraft crash kills 19 in Nepal

KATHMANDU, September 28, 2012

An aircraft crash in Nepal's capital on Friday morning led to the death of all 19 people on board.

A Dornier aircraft of Sita Air, a private airline operator, crashed minutes after taking off from the capital's Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on the banks of the Manhara river in the adjacent Bhaktapur district. The aircraft was headed to Lukla, the entry point for the Mount Everest region. Seven of the victims are Nepali, seven are British and five are Chinese.

According to TIA general manager Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, preliminary investigations showed that the aircraft hit a bird while taking off. The Air Traffic Control had given the plane clearance at 6.17 a.m. local time. A minute later, pilot Bijay Tandukar reported a bird had hit an engine and he would attempt an emergency landing back at the airport on a single engine. He was, however, unable to do so and the aircraft crashed a few hundred metres away from the runaway on the river banks, near a squatter settlement.

"In such a situation of single engine failure in a twin-engine aircraft, if the plane has reached a safe altitude and attained a certain speed, it can continue to fly while the pilot plans his next move. This is conjecture, but in today's case, the pilot seems to have panicked as is natural under the circumstances. He may have tried a turn a little too early and too low," aviation expert Hemant Arjyal told The Hindu

While Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai pledged to improve air safety, and the government constituted a five-member committee to investigate the causes of the crash, commentators were sceptical of results given the spate of recent aircraft crashes, and said the new report may well "gather dust".

Friday's accident could have been due to factors beyond human control, but as the Nepali Times weekly said in a special report on its website, "most crashes in Nepal are caused by pilot disorientation while flying through the mountains in cloudy weather". It pointed out that this is the fifth instance of a domestic airliner crashing in the last two years, besides four helicopter crashes. Aircraft crashes have caused 114 deaths in the last six years.

In May this year, another Dornier aircraft hit a mountain near Jomsom airport; last year, a mountain flight crashed near Kathmandu, killing all passengers on board —many of whom were from Tamil Nadu.
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Syrian rebels launch “decisive battle” for Aleppo

BEIRUT, September 28, 2012

Fighting over Syria's largest city intensified on Friday with some of the fiercest battles in two months as rebel forces launched a new offensive to rout President Bashar Assad's forces from Aleppo, activists said.

The city of 3 million, once a bastion of support for Assad, has emerged as a key battleground in Syria's civil war.

Activists reported some of the fiercest clashes yet, between rebels and government forces in Aleppo, where the two sides have been stalemated for weeks.

Fighters from the main rebel group known as the Free Syrian Army began a new push to drive regime forces from their strongholds Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital on Thursday, calling it the "Decisive Battle".

The Syrian military sent text messages on cellular phones to members of the armed rebellion reading- "Game over."

Aleppo had been relatively quiet until rebels stormed parts of it in late July. Neither side has been able to deliver a decisive blow, despite sporadic clashes.

"The city is witnessing one of the most violent days. All fronts are on fire," said Aleppo-based activist Baraa al-Halabi. He said clashes had broken out in neighbourhoods including Midan, old Aleppo, Maysaloun, Azamiyeh, Salaheddine, Seif al-Dawla and Sheikh Maksoud.

Some activists and rebels said that members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which for decades had close ties with the Syrian government, were participating in the Aleppo battles for the first time since the uprising against Assad's regime began in March last year.

Al-Halabi said some of the heaviest battles were taking place in a predominantly Kurdish area of Sheikh Maksoud where PKK fighters were fighting alongside regime forces.

Meanwhile, state-run Syrian TV says, government troops repulsed an attack on the neighbourhood with the help of its residents.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the pro-government gunmen in Sheikh Maksoud are local Syrians known as "Mardiliyeh", a clan known to support the regime.

The reports could not be independently confirmed because the government has imposed tight restrictions on the media.

In July, government forces withdrew from Kurdish areas in north-eastern Syria and were quickly replaced by Kurdish fighters from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD. The group is affiliated with the PKK, rebels fighting for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast region of Turkey.

Government forces also stormed several tense neighbourhoods in the Syrian capital, Damascus, activists said. Troops raided homes looking for activists in Barzeh, Jobar and Qaboun, according to the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees.

Both groups also reported some fighting between rebels and troops in and near the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

In recent months, young Palestinian refugees enraged by mounting violence and moved by Arab Spring calls for greater freedoms have been taking to the streets and even joining the rebels.
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About 75,000 Rohingyas in Myanmar camps: Refugee International

BANGKOK, September 29, 2012

Up to 75,000 Muslim Rohingyas are housed in temporary camps under poor conditions, four months after violence broke out between Buddhist and Muslim communities in western Myanmar's Rakhine state, Refugees International said Saturday.

"There are somewhere between 65,000 to 75,000 Rohingyas living in camps in Sittwe," said Sarnata Reynolds, programme manager for statelessness at the advocacy group for refugee rights.

Although the camps in the state capital, located 500 kilometres north-west of Yangon, are receiving humanitarian aid from the United Nations and Medicines Sans Frontiers, sanitary and health conditions were bleak, it said.

"We went to a school that has 1,800 living in it in one big room with two latrines and no showers," Ms. Reynolds said. "There is acute malnutrition and some cases of tuberculosis." A Refugees International team was permitted last week to visit eight camps for Rohingya refugees in Sittwe.

The refugees have been living in the camps since mid-June when communal fighting in Sittwe forced the vast majority of the Muslim Rohingya population to flee.

Out of the 12 Rohingya neighbourhoods previously in Sittwe, one remained. Its estimated 8,000 residents have been barricaded into the neighbourhood.

"This community was able to defend themselves during the violence, but now they are restricted to their neighbourhood," Ms. Reynolds said. "If they leave, they face attack or arrest." An informal system of traders is providing the community with food, she said.

Refugees International called on the Myanmar government to take steps towards bringing the Rohingya displaced by the violence back to Sittwe and in the long term to provide citizenship for the Muslim minority group.

The Rohingya, who number about 800,000 in the three northernmost Rakine townships, have been legally discriminated against in Myanmar for decades.

Their statelessness dates to the 1982 Citizen Law, which identified 135 ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. It excluded the Rohingya and stipulated that people of Indian and Chinese descent who could not prove their ancestry predated the 1824-1948 colonial period were not entitled to citizenship.

The plight of the Rohingya came to world attention with the June clashes, which left at least 89 dead and about 90,000 displaced.

About 3,000 Buddhist Rakhine were also displaced by the violence and they also continue to live in temporary camps, Ms. Reynolds said.
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US intelligence reassesses Benghazi attack as terrorist act

WASHINGTON, September 29, 2012

The office of the U.S. intelligence chief revised its assessment of a strike this month on a U.S. consulate in Libya, calling it a planned terrorist attack.

U.S. officials initially described the September 11 attack in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including ambassador Christopher Stevens, as spontaneous, arising from protests against an anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims.

"As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organised terrorist attack carried out by extremists," Shawn Turner, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said Friday.

"It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate," he said. "However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with or sympathetic to al-Qaeda." Mr. Turner emphasized that the attack was still under investigation and information released thus far was preliminary and could change.

President Barack Obama's government has come under criticism, particularly from rival Republicans, for changing its assessment of the Benghazi attack, which occurred on the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York.

A leading Republican member of the House of Representatives called Friday on Susan Rice to step down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, accusing her of making misleading statements about the consulate attack.

Representative Peter King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Ms. Rice had misstated the facts when she said the attack was spontaneous.

"I believe that this was such a failure of foreign policy ... and leadership," Mr. King said on CNN.

Mr. King referred to comments Ms. Rice made in television appearances five days after the attack. The comments left "the very clear impression that this was not a terrorist attack," he told Newsday, a New York newspaper.

"This to me was such a gross misstatement of the facts," Mr. King told Newsday. "It was sending wrong information to the country and the world." Ms. Rice said September 16 that the best assessment at the time was that the attack "was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo," referring to protests at the U.S. embassy in Egypt that were sparked by the film Innocence of Muslims.

Recently, Obama administration officials have said the attack was a terrorist strike.

U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that there was no question the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was committed by terrorists.

Mr. Panetta, however, stopped short of pinning the attack on a specific group although Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton late Wednesday suggested there were ties with an al-Qaeda-linked group in nearby Mali.

Ms. Rice already had defended what she said five days after the attacks even before Mr. King called for her resignation.

"Ambassador Rice's comments were prefaced at every turn with a clear statement that an FBI investigation was under way that would provide the definitive accounting of the events that took place in Benghazi," spokeswoman Erin Pelton said.
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Manmohan: FDI has nothing to do with U.S.

NEW DELHI, September 29, 2012 (PTI)

Unfazed by the uproar over FDI in retail and other tough decisions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday indicated that the government may continue with the reforms process and expressed willingness to discuss issues with allies.

"We will do what is good for the country... reforms are not one-off process," he said.

The Prime Minister was responding to questions on demands for rollback of decisions on FDI in multi-brand retail, diesel price hike and cap on subsidised LPG cylinders by the opposition.

When asked to respond to reservations expressed by allies that the recent decisions could hurt their electoral prospects, Dr. Singh said the issue could be discussed. "We are far away from elections."

Dr. Singh was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the swearing-in ceremony of new Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

During the week, the UPA coordination committee had discussed the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail and other decisions.

When his attention was drawn to allegations by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's that FDI was aimed at pleasing the U.S., he responded saying, "What has the U.S. got to do with this. We are not a country to be dictated by others."

Asked about attacks on him by Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who recently walked out of the UPA, he said, "I am not bitter about anything."

On the Supreme Court's opinion on the issue of auction of natural resources, the Prime Minister said, "We honour the judgement."
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Over Rs. 5 crore looted in cash van ambush

NEW DELHI, September 29, 2012

In a sensational broad daylight heist, armed men in a car waylaid a cash van in the capital's upmarket Defence Colony area on Friday and drove away with Rs. 5.25 crore after shooting and injuring a security guard, who succumbed to injuries late at night. The van was later found abandoned in Malviya Nagar.

The van belonged to a private cash replenishment agency and was on its way to deliver the amount to its office in C-Block of Lajpat Nagar. While it was passing through a service lane along the Defence Colony flyover around 1 p.m., a white Hyundai Verna car intercepted it near a Nature's Basket outlet.

Wielding firearms, half-a-dozen men burst out of the vehicle and ambushed the van. Two security guards, Munne Singh and Ajab Singh, along with cashier Ashok and driver Anil were in the vehicle. The robbers trained their weapons at the occupants and asked them to get off the van. When Munne Singh offered resistance, one of them shot him in the chest. Before the other guard could retaliate, the robbers pushed the occupants out, forced their way into the vehicle and drove away. They left their car behind.

The security company's employees immediately called up their supervisor and the police. A profusely bleeding Munne was rushed to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences Trauma Centre, where he was operated upon.

Soon an alert was sounded and barricades were erected on all major roads and at the borders. Senior police officers rushed to the spot along with Crime Branch sleuths. A forensic team collected evidence, including fingerprints from the vehicle.

A couple of hours later, the van was found abandoned at Khirki Gaon. The cash, however, was missing.

Preliminary investigations suggested that the vehicle bore a fake Haryana registration number plate and its chassis and engine numbers had been tampered with. The police are trying to identify the real owner. "These facts suggest that it was a well planned robbery. The robbers apparently carried out a reconnaissance before they struck," said a police officer.

The van occupants told the police that they had collected the cash from the Hauz Khas branch of a bank. The police have sought assistance from the security company to prepare a list of its present and former employees.
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Biodiversity norms for green clearances coming, says Environment Minister

NEW DELHI, September 29, 2012

In a move that will bring cheer to wildlife lovers but could dismay industry lobbyists already complaining about the difficulty in obtaining green clearances, the government plans to add biodiversity conservation as a new criterion to grant environmental and forest clearances.

"There is no biodiversity clearance till now," admitted Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, speaking ahead of the United Nations summit on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which begins in Hyderabad next week.

"I know industries will panic if I say we are adding one more layer of clearances, but I would like to assert today that conservation of biodiversity should certainly be a part of forest and environment clearances. I will make every effort to integrate it into environmental or forest or both clearances, at whichever level it operates."

Focus on species

In fact, the Biodiversity Act already says the government must assess the impact of any industrial or developmental activity on biodiversity. However, this is largely ignored or given lip-service while appraising applications for environmental and forest clearances.

Environmental impact assessment reports usually include a list of flora and fauna in the affected area, but there is little understanding of the interaction between species or the wider impact on biodiversity in the area.

Forest working plans often allow a focus on timber or plantations in afforestation measures, rather than requiring that the species cut and the species replanted are the same.

Holistic approach

"The impact assessment needs to be much more diverse and holistic," says Kanchi Kohli of the environmental NGO Kalpavriksh. "And it really needs to be done at the planning stage, not at the individual project level."

She also suggests that biocultural aspects should be taken into account, as mentioned in the CBD.

India takes over the presidency of the CBD's Conference of Parties at a time when the need to mobilise scarce financial resources to safeguard the planet's rich natural resources is taking the centre stage. At the last such summit held in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010, nations agreed to ambitious conservation targets.

For instance, by 2020, they agreed to halve the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, and ensure that at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas — in comparison to the present 1.6 per cent — are conserved. Other targets were set to sustainably manage areas used for agriculture, aquaculture and forestry.

However, the last summit could not agree on funding targets to meet these goals. A report to be presented in Hyderabad shows that an annual flow of $150 billion to $430 billion is needed to actually implement the conservation targets, of which somewhere between $74 billion and $191 billion are needed for developing countries alone between 2014 and 2018. Currently, the international funds for biodiversity are stuck at a measly $6 billion per year.

Major themes

"The first agenda item is the implementation of the strategic plan," said Ms. Natarajan, adding that other major themes include biodiversity for livelihood and poverty reduction, coastal and marine biodiversity and the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

This historic agreement provides for equitable access and benefit sharing of genetic resources, ensuring that local communities will gain when multinational firms commercially exploit their natural resources.

For example, a pharma company which develops a new drug from ingredients found in an Indian plant will now have to give a fair share to the Indian communities which nurtured the plant in the first place.

However, the protocol will only come into effect when at least 50 nations ratify it. So far, 92 nations have signed the deal, but only six have ratified it. While India is a signatory to it, Parliament is yet to ratify the protocol.

"This is our priority. We expect ratification within a couple of months," said M. F. Farooqui, special secretary to the Ministry.
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K.S. Narayanan passes away

CHENNAI, September 29, 2012

K.S. Narayanan, Chairman Emeritus of the Sanmar Group, passed away here on Friday. He was 93 and is survived by his sons, N. Sankar and N. Kumar.

Mr. Narayanan, as one of his long-time associates remarked, "walked with kings and commoners." He treated all alike, and earned the respect of one and all in and outside his organisation.

A co-promoter of the India Cements Ltd., he went to Denmark in the late 1940s and returned with a thorough knowledge of cement and PVC. A technology-savvy industrialist, it used to be said that he could run the plant on his own. With a well-diversified knowledge base, he dealt with a range of industries — cement, plastics, sugar, drugs and pharmaceuticals, shipping, ceramic insulators, rubber and calcium carbide. He was involved in the promotion of diverse enterprises such as Chemplast Sanmar Limited, Sanmar Shipping Limited, WS Industries Ltd. and Tamil Nadu Dadha Pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Narayanan was the founder president of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce-Southern Region and former president of the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce. He also served as the Sheriff of Madras (1974) and as the Honorary Consul of Denmark for South India.

He was involved in the management of several educational and charitable organisations such as the Indian Education Trust, Mrs. Madhuram Narayanan Charitable Foundation, the Sanmar Welfare Trust and the Uttara Swamimalai Trust, among others.

Mr. Narayanan lent a helping hand to good causes — from fighting cancer and eye ailments to promoting schools. He had a long association with the Music Academy, Chennai, and was once its Managing Trustee.

Much before the Indian Premier League took the Indian cricket by storm, Mr. Narayanan was an owner of a cricket team, Jolly Rovers.
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Bar bids farewell to Justice Kapadia

NEW DELHI, September 29, 2012

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, S.H. Kapadia, retired on Friday. At a farewell function organised here by the by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Mr. Justice Kapadia, hailing from the Parsi community, said he started his career as an assistant in Mumbai.

Recalling the great help rendered by his seniors in the legal profession, Mr. Justice Kapadia said during his career as a judge spanning over 22 years, he had never taken a single day's leave.

In an emotional voice, he said that all these years he could not remain with his father (92) and mother (88) and they were being looked after by his brother. He said his father imbibed in him the values of honesty and integrity.

He said he was also inspired by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, whom he called as an excellent judge. Indian judges could match their foreign counterparts, sometimes they were even better. Thanking his companion judges for their cooperation, Mr. Justice Kapadia told them: "Please remember that in times of trouble do what you are obligated to do. You [Judges] should have professionalism, objectivity, judicial reticence and knowledge more subtle than intellect." "Do the right thing. Rest leave it to God. We judges can\'t change the world. If you do your duty and dispense justice, you have done your job."

Justice Altamas Kabir, who is to be sworn in as the Chief Justice of India on Saturday, said that for Mr. Justice Kapadia integrity was an asset and he imposed self-discipline. His tenure was remarkable.

Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati said that Mr. Justice Kapadia was a giant of a judge with high integrity and inflexible rectitude.

President of the Supreme Court Bar association P.H. Parekh was among others who paid encomiums to Mr. Justice Kapadia.
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Friday, September 28, 2012



Red cross Society organized the seminar in the premises of Government College for Women with the cooperation of World Diabetes Foundation with the purpose of spreading awareness in the youth about gestational diabetes. The worthy principal Mrs Gurminder Kaur was the chief guest . She said diabetes is the very serious problem that is being faced by India and we should take suitable measures to eradicate this disease from our country. Mrs Kirpal kaur , head of the physics department welcomed the chief guest and Dr. Geeta puri Arora and her team for being the part of this seminar. Dr. Mohinder kaur, Prof.Krishan Singh,Mrs Varinderjit kaur, Mr. Baldev Singh and Miss Ramanjit Bhatti,Mrs.Gagandeep,Ms Jatinder Kaur were also the part of the seminar.

Mrs. Arora shared her views on the state of India being the world capital of diabtes.(from the sources of WHO Report). She said that due to negligence towards this disease it has increased from 2% to 20% in the past few years. It has become more prevalent in the pregnant women as they are fed on food loaded with fats and sugar. Such food habits have led to enhance the sugar level not only in the body of mother but also in the infant. She also stressed on the fact that it is not only the obese people who prone to this disease, however people with average weight are becoming victims to this disease.

Our everyday diet mostly consists of the tempting fast foods thait is also playing the vital to enhance the menance created by diabetes. They motivated the students to cut down the intake of fast food. The seminar was concluded with the vote of thanks by Ramanjit Bhatti.
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Hindi pakwara concludes at CIPHET

Ludhiana, September 28

Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) today organized a special function to mark the conclusion of Hindi pakwara celebration began from September 14. On the occasion, certificates and prizes were distributed to the winners.

Distributing certificates to winners, Head of Hindi Department of Government College for Boys, Ludhiana, Prof Rajinder Jain, who was also th chief guest, said that many developed countries in the world were giving preference to their own language. Saying that one should be proud of the national heritage, he said that there was no better language than Hindi to communicate and we must make every effort to protect and promote our language. CIPHET Director Dr U.S Shivhare said that scientist should make effort to do maximum publications in Hindi. He informed the Chief Guest that CIPHET had organized number of programmes for promotion of Hindi and saw huge participation from CIPHET faculty.

Head Transfer of Technology Division Dr Deepak Raj Rai said that that on September 14, 1905 Hindi was declared the official Language of the Indian union. He said that by organizing various programme they made an attempt to inculcate national pride in staff for use of Hindi. Senior members of CIPHET faculty were also present on the occasion:

Winners of Hindi pakhwara competition

1. Hindi computer typing competition: Mr Harbhopinder Singh

2. Essay writing competition: Dr Deepika Goswami

3. Hindi translation competition: Yashpal Sharma

4. Handwritten poster competition: Ms Monika Sharma

5. Poetry recitation competition: Dr Sangeeta Chopra

6. Letter writing competition: Mr Shalikgram Drivedi

7. Scientific discussion competition: Dr Anil Kumar Dixit

8. Hindi noting and drafting competition: Mr Ajay Kumar Dixit

9. Singing competition (team event): Dr Manisha Mangal, Dr Sangeeta Bansal, Ms Deepika Goswami, Ms Monika Sharma

10. Employee doing maximum work in Hindi: Sohan Lal

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Sulabh gesture to Vrindavan widows

NEW DELHI, September 28, 2012

Making a humble effort to lift the spirits of abandoned widows who have made Vrindavan their home, Sulabh International on Thursday dedicated five well-equipped ambulances to them for dealing with medical emergencies. Sulabh International, which had earlier taken steps for the welfare of the widows of Vrindavan after the Supreme Court expressed shock on their plight and the inhuman disposal of bodies, arranged a visit to Delhi for some of them, where they were felicitated.

Sulabh has already committed to provide adequate medical care for the widows. The ambulances would be kept on alert round-the-clock in Vrindavan. Besides, it gave them certain medical equipment, TV sets and refrigerators. Responding to the court directives, Sulabh initiated measures for them to lead a dignified life. "We have started giving Rs. 1,000 per month to each widow living in five government-run shelters in Vrindavan. Besides, we have opened a centre to provide proper healthcare and last rites," said Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh.

With his vast experience in the field of low-cost sanitation and social upliftment of manual scavengers, the Sulabh founder said his first task would be to motivate the orphans and able-bodied widows to undergo vocational training so that they can earn their livelihood.

The court had recently taken strong exception to the manner in which the bodies of the widows, who lived in government shelter homes, were disposed — by chopping them into pieces and putting them in gunny bags — on the plea of insufficient money for proper cremation. The court had expressed serious concern regarding shortage of food as well. It had asked the National Legal Service Authority to contact Sulabh to find out if they could come forward to help the widows living in the government shelters.

Sulabh would also regularly monitor the success of its noble efforts, he said, adding that a monitoring cell would be set up for the purpose.

"For the time being, we will start on our own, but simultaneously, we will approach the Central as well as state governments, and big corporate houses for help. The idea is to provide a dignified life to the widows," Dr. Pathak said.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Training course on “Application of Diagnostic Ultrasound Techniques in Animal Reproduction” concludes at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary & Animal Sciences University

Ludhiana-27-Sep, 2012

The 21 days training course on diagnostic ultrasonography in livestock organized by Centre of Advanced Faculty Training (CAFT) in Department of Veterinary Gynaecology and Reproducion, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana, Punjab under the auspices of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi concluded here on Tuesday. The training started on 5th September 2012. The valedictory function was attended by Dr SNS Randhawa, Dean PGS cum Director Research and Dr HS Sandhu, Dean COVS. Dr P S Brar, Course Director and Head of Department, informed that 15 faculty members from Universities and ICAR institutes of nine states of India participated in this course. Dr Brar informed that the Participants were trained and equipped with hands-on experiences of set ups and buttonolgy of different types of ultrasound machines, practice on different animal species including cattle, buffaloes, equine, caprine and canines and use of color flow doppler ultrasonography. The intensive training also involved the use of special technique of trans-vaginal ultrasound guided ovum-pick up in cattle and buffaloes. Drs M Honparkhe and SPS Ghuman were the course co-coordinators. For the first time, on-line expert lectures by scientists from University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada were also delivered to the participants. Also, experts from Hisar and Pantnagar took part in the course.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Randhawa, urged the participants to ensure the use of learned techniques for resolving the diagnostic issues related to animal fertility. He stressed on the fact that optimal reproductive potential is must to ensure sustainable and profitable livestock farming and to make India the leader in livestock productive output. Dr Sandhu lauded the efforts of CAFT Centre inraising the background knowledge of participants and building their capacities through improving their abilities to do diagnostic ultrasonography.

The ecstatic participants shared their experiences about the course and expressed their gratitude to the CAFT Centre and the faculty for instilling in them the spirit and zeal to use ultrasonography as a diagnostic aid. The course ended amidst loud applauds as the participants, kindled with a spark to rise and make a difference. Dr VK Gandotra, Professor, thanked all for their support in organizing the course.

The CAFT Centre was constituted by ICAR with the objective to respond to the learning needs and make the facilities of the Institute available for the training of the veterinary fraternity of India. Right from 1995, Department of Veterinary Gynaecology and Reproducion, GADVASU has been organizing the training programmes for veterinary faculty from other State Agricultural/Veterinary Universities and ICAR institutes for learning of recent advances in animal reproduction. The centre has organized 22 training courses and more than 200 faculty members from all over India have been benefitted.

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Press Release

Date: 27.09.2012

Meeting of the Joint Council of Trade Union was held to discuss the issues concerning the workers of organized as well as unorganized sectors. Expressing concern at the recent hike in prices of Diesel and reduction of subsidy on LPG, the meeting felt that this will hit the working class the most as they are already low paid. Contractualisation has further added to their woes. It is ironical that even the public sector units are not paying minimum wages. The meeting which was attended by All Indian Bank Employees Association, PAU Employees Union, PSSF, Punjab Roadways Workers Union, PRTC Employees Union, Construction Workers Union, Hosiery Workers Union, Municipal Corporation Workers, AITUC, Asha Workers and Punjab Govt. Class IV Employees Union also condemned the Lathi Charge and registration of FIR against the agitating teachers demanding jobs at Ludhiana.

The meeting demanded the review of new pension scheme effective from 01.01.2004 on all govt. and public sector employees, Increased minimum wage of Rs. 10,000-00 per month, Enrollment of employees in various departments/sectors on regular basis instead on contract & daily wages, Effective implementation of already existing labour laws, Immediate implementation of security of service laws for the workers of un organized sector, Anganwadi and Asha workers be given regular employment with grade equivalent to class 3 and 4 employees, Pension for all, creation of social security fund for unorgnaised sector workers.

Com D P Maur – General Secretary Joint council of Trade Unions Ludhiana informed that a convention of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) will be held at Punjabi Bhawan, Ludhiana on 5th October to finalise the upcoming programme of the central trade unions i.e March to the Parliament by the Trade Unions at Delhi on 20th December 2012 and then nationwide general strike of the workers and employees on 21 and 22 February 2013. This convention will be addressed by Com Gurudas Das Gupta – M.P, General Secretary AITUC.

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The Board of Management (BoM) of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), during its 257th meeting, held under the Chairmanship of Vice-Chancellor, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, at University Camp Office, Mohali, made various new appointments.

The PAU Registrar informed that Dr Jaskaran Singh Mahal, Senior Research Engineer-cum-Head of Department of Farm Machinery and Power Engineering has been appointed as Additional Director of Research (Farm Mechanization and Bio-energy), Dr Pushpinder Paul Singh, Senior Plant Pathologist has been appointed as Head of Department of Plant Pathology and Dr Pawan Kumar Monga, Senior Chemist (Fruits) has been appointed as Director of Regional Research Station, Abohar. All the appointees have joined their posts.

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The seventh Kisan Mela, the last in the series, by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) was organized today at its Regional Research Station, Bathinda. The mela, which showcased farm technologies for the forthcoming Rabi season, saw huge participation of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

S. Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Member Parliament, inaugurated the mela while PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Baldev Singh Dhillon presided over. Dr. Jairup Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, was the special guest.

Addressing the farmers S. Bhunder said that Punjab farmers have made great strides to boost the agriculture in Punjab & contributed a lot in making India, a self sufficient nation. Praising farmers for their hard work, S. Bhunder said, Punjabi farmer have no parallel in the world, but in spite of his hard work he is not getting good returns. In recent years, the prices of agricultural inputs have sky rocketed, but there is no corresponding increase in the MSP, he said, adding that the farmers' profits from farming have greatly reduced. He was critical of the central Govt. for its 'pro- industry & anti- farmer' policies. He called upon the farmers to shift, at least ¼ of their farming area to crops, other than wheat and rice. He was also critical about inadequate storage facilities and shortage of bags during last harvesting. About the mela theme, "Pawan Guru Paani Pita Mata Dharat Mahat" he said, Guru Nanak could visualize the importance of water, soil & air, some 600 years ago & his words are quite relevant today. Urging the farmers to practice environment friendly technologies he said "we must adopt a simple life style & preserve water and environment for the coming generation".

In his presidential address, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon said that Kisan Melas provide opportunities to farmers to keep abreast with the latest developments in agriculture through their face-to-face interaction with university scientists, adding that such interactions are helpful for the scientists in reorientation of their research. He said that research at PAU is focused towards developing technologies for conserving natural resources and enhancing farmers' income. Highlighting the problems of water and soil, Dr Dhillon elaborated that the PAU scientists have developed need-based, region and crop-specific technologies. He said that Kisan Melas provide two-way communication channel and urged farmers to give their innovative ideas as feedback to PAU scientists. He expressed that cooperative actions were required in farm mechanization and marketing. He advised the farmers about processing & selling their produce although at small level. He gave the example of chickpea & said farmers can clean and make small packs to sell at small counters. He informed that university is developing technology for the production of bio-gas from paddy straw. Today's agriculture has become greatly knowledge–intensive and to succeed, a regular contact with farm experts is a must, stressed Dr Dhillon. He also thanked and honoured six farmers who contributed towards PAU endowment fund.

Dr. P.S. Chahal, the PAU Associate Director of Research while highlighting the research achievements of the university said that focus is being laid on developing technologies that are eco-friendly, cost-effective and user-friendly. Dr. Chahal informed that PAU, since its inception, has released 707 varieties of different crops, of which 117 have been recommended at the national level. He said, PAU aims at evolving crop varieties that are high-yielding, have better processing quality and are tolerant to stresses. He mentioned that in view of the climate change, efforts are on to develop new heat tolerant varieties of wheat. He further informed that PAU has recently released a variety of Sunflower PSH 996 – which matures in 96 days. The university has also evolved a few water saving technologies like laser land leveller, tensiometer and optimum irrigation schedules for various crops, he said.

Earlier, the PAU Director of Extension Education, Dr. M.S. Gill while welcoming the Chief Guest, VC, special guest and farmers emphasized that farmers should rigorously follow the recommendations and advice of PAU experts. He said farmers could enhance their profitability through starting auxiliary occupations such as bee-keeping, poultry, dairy, nursery production, mushroom growing etc. He suggested the farmers to keep a liaison with farm experts. \"Farmers should stay connected with PAU experts at Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Farm Advisory Service Scheme and the Regional Stations to know the latest developments in agriculture\", he said. He expressed great satisfaction that a large number of farmers have shown their enthusiasm for the mela. Dr Jaspal Singh Gill, Director Regional Station , Bathinda, proposed vote of thanks. On this occasion, the dignitaries and participating farmers were shown around demonstrations and exhibits organized to showcase the latest technologies developed by different departments. Subject matter specialists of PAU, provided farmers useful tips about the selection of varieties, new crop production and protection technologies, farm mechanization for rabi crops, etc.

The stalls by different KVKs, attracted farmers. There was a great rush of farmers for purchase of seeds of wheat (HD-2967, PBW-621, PBW-550, PBW-343, DBW-17), barley (DWRUB-52), oat (Kent), raya (PBR-91), mentha , peas (PB-89) and other rabi crops. Farmers also purchased farm literature, fruit plants and vegetable kits.
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The Directorate of Extension Education (DEE) of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) will organize various training courses in October.

Dr M.S. Gill, Director of Extension Education, said that a staff training course on "Biogas plants" will be held from October 3 to 5 at Kairon Kisan Ghar (KKG) of the PAU. The Agriculture Development Officers (ADOs), Horticulture Development Officers (HDOs), engineers of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and technicians of Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) and Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) will participate in the course.

Meanwhile, DEE in association with PAU Department of Microbiology will conduct a five-day training course on "Mushroom cultivation" from October 8 to 12 at KKG, informed Dr Gill. The farm experts will shed light on the importance of mushrooms, their seed production, marketing, economics, food value, and disease and insect-pest management in addition to substrate preparation. Besides, the trainees will be apprised of the cultivation of various mushroom varieties including dhingri, milky mushroom and shiitaki mushroom, he told, saying that the registration for the course will be held on October 8 at slated venue at 9.30 a.m.

Another training programme will be organized for the officers of category II and III of Food Corporation of India, from October 8- 14 at PAU Farmers' Service Centre. Dr Gill said that the experts will dwell upon the grading, classification and quality assurance of cereal and coarse grains, factors affecting quality of food grains and quality specifications and quality control equipments and procedures. The trainees will be educated about effect of various factors on storage of food grains with focus on importance of moisture and temperature, added he. The subject specialists will also delve upon the modern bulk storage and online quality control checks, handling of equipments used in modern grain storage and milling system, rice milling and quality control in modern rice mills, nutrition upgradation of damaged grains for use as animal feed and identification and management of insect-pests of stored grains. Dr Gill told that the safe use of pesticides in stored grains, problems and management of pesticide residue in stored grains, procurement policy and marketing practices of food grains will be the other highlights of the programme. The registration for the training will take place on October 8 at scheduled place at 9.00 a.m.

Apart from this, a training course on "Preparation of different food items" will be organized on October 11 and 12 and be jointly supervised by DEE and PAU Department of Food Science and Technology. Dr Gill said that the experts will impart practical as well as theoretical training to the farm women in the making of noodles, pasta and various types of snacks. The registration for the programme will be held on October 11 at 9.00 a.m. at KKG.

Besides, a training course on "Beneficial birds as bio-control agents and bird management in agriculture" and "Role of public-private partnership in agri-development" will be organized on October 19 and 23, respectively, for (ADOs), District Extension Specialists (DESs) and KVK scientists, informed he.
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