India-US trade summit to focus on collaborations
BANGALORE, Aug 7 (IANS): Cashing in on the upswing in ties following the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on September 10-11, the India-US trade summit in New York will explore collaborations in diverse sectors to boost investments in both countries.
“The summit for US-India Trade and Economics (SUITE 2009) will focus on investment-driven collaborations in education, environment, power and energy, business and financing, IT, infrastructure, food processing and healthcare,” said Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) secretary general R.K. Chopra.
Senior representatives of governments and trade bodies of both sides will participate in the event that will showcase business and investment opportunities.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg are among the prominent leaders who will address the summit.
The Indian government will be represented by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Food Processing Industries Minister Subodh Kant Sahay and Minister of State for IT and Communications Gurudas Kamat.
About 100 chief executives from India Inc, senior officials, policy makers, entrepreneurs and experts in legal, finance and healthcare sectors have confirmed their participation,” Chopra said.
Heads of American firms, academic experts and consultants will also be present.
From this tech hub, global networking products major Cisco’s Indian subsidiary, IT bellwether Wipro and Quest will be among the firms representing large, medium and small enterprises.
Though bilateral trade nearly tripled to $42 billion in 2007-08 from $14 billion in 2000, the financial crisis and the subsequent recession in the US have dipped Indian merchandise exports in the first five months of 2009 to $8.5 billion from $10.9 billion in the year-ago period.
In 2008, US exports to India were $17.68 billion while imports from India stood at $25.7 billion.
Similarly, in services trade, Indian exports increased steadily to $9.35 billion in 2007 from $1.89 billion in 2000, while imports from the US gathered momentum to touch $9.6 billion in 2007 from $2.54 billion in 2000.
According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, travel, passenger and transport segments accounted for 45 percent of total services from the US to India.
Educational services contributed 24 percent, business, professional and technical services 14 percent and royalties and license fees 10 percent.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) estimates the bilateral trades will double every three years to touch a whopping $320 billion by 2018.
A CII report entitled “India-US Economic Relations: The Next Decade” said considering that India accounts for a mere 1.3 percent of the US trade, there was huge potential to increase bilateral business in the next 10 years.
It recommended a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement, covering goods and services.
“As the only bilateral trade body between the two countries, we will take the initiative to advocate India as an innovation partner,” said IACC Karnataka wing’s chairman Vasanth Kini.
In this context, the chambers advocated incentives to US firms for setting up research and development centres in India.
The Indian delegation will also showcase opportunities in the healthcare sector, especially wellness tourism.
“The untapped areas for investments and partnerships are verification and legal services, aerospace, insurance and healthcare. The three agreements signed in nuclear, space and defence areas during Hillary Clinton’s visit pave the way for greater collaborations in other areas,” Kini said.
Gas allocation row again figures in Lok Sabha (wit pic)
NEW DELHI, Aug 7 (PTI): The issue of gas allocation from the KG-6 oilfield being developed by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries again figured in the Lok Sabha on Friday with an AIADMK member alleging that southern states, especially Tamil Nadu, were being left high and dry.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, M Thambi Durai said the company had secured a clearance from the Government for supply of gas from the KG basin in 2007 and it was supposed to lay main gas pipeline from Kakinada to Chennai.
Noting that the other pipelines were from Chennai to Tuticorin, Chennai to Bangaluru and Chennai to Cochin, he regretted that the company has not even dug a single KM for laying these pipelines.
“And deliberately, they are taking gas from Kakinada to Gujarat. They are concentrating only on Mumbai, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and other Northern states. The gas from Bombay High is already taken to U P and Bihar”, he rued.
Thambi Durai said in the federal setup, all states have to be accorded equal rights, “but here is a situation where the southern states are suffering. Southern states, especially Tamil Nadu, are being ignored and neglected continuously by the Government of India”.
He alleged that when “all this injustice” is being done, the DMK, despite being part of the central coalition, is keeping quiet.
The AIADMK member also wanted the Government to expedite exploration of natural gas from the Cauvery basin.
Life term for spurious drug peddlers: government (wit pic Ghulam Nabi Azad)
NEW DELHI, Aug 7 (IANS): Peddlers of spurious drugs can now be sentenced to life terms, parliament was informed on Friday.
“Short of capital punishment, everything that is possible under the law will be done to stamp out the circulation of spurious drugs,” Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said during question hour in the Rajya Sabha.
“I have signed the papers on Thursday. The new law will be notified within a week,” Azad added.
“So far, the law was very mild. No action could be taken against those who were caught. Now there will be special courts to fast track trials. Up to life imprisonment can be awarded to those who manufacture and sell spurious drugs,” the minister added.
Replying to a supplementary, he said the creation of a Central Drug Authority (CDA) was the “second step” in tightening the noose around manufacturers and peddlers of spurious drugs.
“We are holding a series of meetings with the pharmaceutical industry. The creation of the CDA will be the second step,” Azad said.
Referring to the circulation of fake “Made in India” drugs in Nigeria, he attributed this to “unscrupulous elements” taking advantage of the growth of this country’s pharmaceutical industry.
“The Indian pharmaceutical industry on Friday has a global presence. Unscrupulous elements are taking advantage of this. It has come to the notice of the government of India that such (“Made in India”) drugs have been seized by the Nigerian authorities.
“A probe has revealed that these drugs originated from China,” Azad said.
“There are international ramifications but the assistance of interpol has not been sought so far,” he said in reply to a supplementary.
Attack by hackers brings Twitter to its knees
WASHINGTON, Aug 7 (Agencies): Unidentified hackers brought the micro- blogging website Twitter to its knees for several hours on Thursday.
Twitter founder Biz Stone said the site, which was down altogether for about two hours, had suffered a so-called “denial of service” attack.
“We are defending against this attack,” Stone said.
He added that Twitter would continue to update its site even though it remained under attack, and noted that the situation would be subjected to an investigation.
In a denial of service attack, hackers try to prevent access to a site by overloading it. As Stone explained, this kind of attack is most often used against online banking and credit card systems.
State govt to take steps to increase livestock populati
SRINAGAR, Aug 7 (PTI) The state government is taking measures to increase hybrid livestock population in order to meet the rising demand of mutton, chicken and eggs in the state.
“We are taking steps to increase hybrid livestock population to meet the rising demand of mutton, chicken and eggs. This will also help in neutralizing capital outflow from Jammu and Kashmir,” minister for animal and Sheep Husbandry Aga Syed Ruhulla said at a function here on Friday.
He said poultry production has assumed great importance in the state and has emerged as one of those agro-based industries which not only provides highly nutritious food but can also be a source of employment.
The minister reiterated the government’s commitment to provide direct benefit to the farming community.
Both Ruhulla and the state minister for animal and sheep husbandry Ajaz Ahmed emphasised that innovative marketing strategies, embryo transfer technology, organized sheep and goat farming need to be explored and developed so that producers of livestock products are duly benefited.
They directed the Animal and Sheep Husbandry department officials to pursue new strategies for pasture development and improving fodder quality so that sufficient and nutritious fodder is available for the livestock even during winter season.
Power plants can now save on transmission cost
NEW DELHI, Aug 7 (PTI): In a development that would help private power producers save significantly in constructing a dedicated transmission line, power regulator CERC said that power plants with a capacity above a certain level will be directly connected to the central grid. According to estimates, private power producers can save up to Rs 500 crore provided they are generating at least 250 MW hydro powers or 500 MW thermal powers.
According to the notifications released by the power sector regulator Central Electricity Regulatory Commission today, any generating plant having an installed capacity of at least 250 MW can seek connectivity with the inter-state transmission system. In order to encourage private players in the power sector, CERC Chairperson Pramod Deo said, “Private firms have always complained that public sector companies have access to Power Grid Corporation whereas they have to build the transmission network on their own.
Kingfisher gets 5-bln-rupee loan from SBI (wit pic)
FRIDAY, Aug 7 (Agencies): “After these notifications, 500 MW thermal plants and 250 MW hydro power plants and any bulk consumer having at least a load of 100 MW can seek connectivity with the inter-state transmission system, which is handled by PowerGrid.
Kingfisher Airlines Ltd had sought a 10-billion rupee loan from State Bank of India and has been sanctioned half that amount, a junior finance minister said on Friday.
The bank has sanctioned the loan on specific terms and conditions, Namo Narain Meena told Parliament in a written reply, but did not provide details.
Cash strapped Kingfisher Airlines has posted a net loss of 2.4 billion rupees in April-June and has appointed bankers to help it raise up to 5 billion rupees.
At 2:06 p.m., shares in Kingfisher were down 3.23 percent at 46.50 rupees in a Mumbai market which was down 2.2 percent.
Govt convenes meeting of CMs to address price situation (wit Manmohan’s stock pic)
NEW DELHI, Aug 7 (PTI): Acknowledging that the situation regarding prices of food items is serious, the government today said it was taking long and short term measures and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will soon convene a meeting of Chief Ministers to address the problem.
Singh will probably meet the Chief Ministers on August 17 to specifically focus on measures to curb hoarding in the backdrop of reports of blackmarketing because of shortage of supplies, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said, while replying to debate on price rise in the Lok Sabha.
Dissatisfied with the reply, Opposition NDA and Left Parties staged a walkout in the House.
“The situation is serious… The government has taken the entire situation very seriously,” Pawar said as he outlined the steps that the government has taken and was contemplating to deal with the problem that had been aggravated by poor monsoon.
He said the government was ready to raise subsidy and import food items, especially pulses to bridge the demand-supply gap.
“We will also try to tell them (Chief Ministers) that every state has to take very deterrent and effective action against all hoarders”, he added.
The government, the Minister said, has also convened a meeting of state chief secretaries tomorrow to discuss the issue of rising prices and the steps being taken to control hoarders and blackmarketeers.
National Solar Mission proposal gets in-principle approval
NEW DELHI, Aug 7 (PTI) The government on Friday said the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change has given in-principle approval to the National Solar Mission proposal to achieve a target of producing 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020.
“A draft National Solar Mission document proposing a target of 20,000 MW for solar power by 2020 has received in principle approval of Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change in its meeting held on August 3, 2009,” New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah said while replying to a query in Lok Sabha.
Abdullah said that government was planning to add 15000 MW capacity from renewable energy sources during the 11th Plan Period.
By the end of 11th Plan, renewable power capacity is likely to cross 24,000 MW, which would be around 12 per cent of the then installed power capacity in the country.
The Minister said that by the end of 13 plan, renewable power capacity would be around 54,000 MW.
Economy looking up, but scanty rains a problem: Mukherjee (wit Mukherjee’s pic)
NEW DELHI, Aug 7 (IANS): Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday indicated the economy was beginning to look up but he was unsure of the way it was going because of the scarce rainfall this monsoon.
“Economy has started moving slightly, but still I am not sure, because other problems may come from the adverse impact of scanty rainfall,” Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha.
“The agriculture minister is making an assessment, we are also making assessment but this is a problem. We are trying to handle it,” added Mukherjee.
According to initial estimates of the meteorological department, the annual monsoon rains are likely to be 25 percent below the 50-year average during June 1-Aug 5.
Mukherjee said the government would take all steps to mitigate problems caused by inadequate rainfall. He, however, admitted results of such actions would take time to be reflected in the economy.
“Even if we take action today, it will take some more time to get its full impact on the economy,” said Mukherjee.
“We cannot expect the economy to move so soon. It is not like switch-off and switch-on,” he added.