Sunday, December 27, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
A day after China protested Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, and in a departure from its usual stand that simply restates the Indian position, New Delhi yesterday (October 15) criticised China for deciding to help Islamabad set up projects in those areas of Jammu and Kashmir 'illegally' occupied by Pakistan.
Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherjee also categorically rejected Chinese denunciation of Singh's Arunachal trip, asserting that the state is an integral part of the country, and the Prime Minister has every right to visit it.
The Indian response came even as a Chinese official newspaper yesterday said that an “overwhelming majority” of its web users were against the “frequent” visits to the “disputed area” by Indian leaders.
"We hope that the Chinese side will take a long term view of the India-China relations, and cease such activities in areas illegally occupied by Pakistan," external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.
During a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on October 14, Chinese President Hu Jintao had talked about upgrading the Karakoram highway that connects China and Pakistan and help with a hydroelectric project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
"We have seen the Xinhua report quoting the president of China as stating that China will continue to engage in projects with Pakistan inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," Prakash said.
In India's eyes, Pakistan was in "illegal occupation" of parts of Jammu and Kashmir since 1947, he said. "The Chinese side is fully aware of India's position and our concerns about Chinese activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," he said.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, speaking in Kolkata, made it clear that "Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India" and that the just-concluded Assembly elections were held under the Indian constitution.
"It was therefore appropriate that the Prime Minister of the country should visit Arunachal Pradesh as leader of the Congress for election campaign," Mukherjee said.
Beijing on October 14 had come out with an unusually strong criticism of Singh's visit to the border state on October 3 to campaign for the just concluded Assembly elections there, a statement that India rejected immediately.
On October 14, it appeared to up the ante, with the government-run Global Times reporting that 96 per cent of respondents of an Online poll conducted by huanqiu.com, the website of its Chinese edition were against the “frequent” visits to the “disputed area” by Indian leaders.
Meanwhile, Indian Air Force vice-chief Air Marshal PK Barbora said the IAF does not “fear” the Chinese military and that the neighbour should not have any problem with India’s upgrading of airstrips in the North-East. Air Marshal Barbora said Chinese reactions to the PM's visit to the border state should be “read between the lines,” as democratic elections were taking place in the state.
He noted that China had made no comment when Indian President Pratibha Patil went to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh earlier this year.
Home minister P Chidambaram, in Srinagar, Kashmir told reporters that India has made it clear to China it will only issue employment visas to its highly skilled workers and that it has decided against giving business visas.
The Opposition BJP termed the government's response to China's remarks on Dr Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh as “timid” and demanded an all-party meeting on the Chinese issue which will discuss the entire gamut of India's relationship with the country.
US Ambassador to India, Mr Timothy Roemer, who is visiting Kolkata, declined to comment on the ongoing diplomatic spat between India and China on the question of Arunachal Pradesh, but said the USA “respects the participation and the verdict of so many people of Arunachal Pradesh in the elections there.”
In Shimla, the Tibetan government-in-exile said China's objection to Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh was “absurd”. Mr Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the government-in-exile, also said the visit of the Dalai Lama to the state next month would be as per schedule.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Thirty Seven percent of the respondent said that they have lied on their resume at some stage in their careers, according to the study conducted by iimjobs.com. Twenty Six percent respondents confessed to lying about employment history and projects in their previous organisations while Six percent of the respondent said that they’ve lied about their academic credentials.
“There is no doubt that job seekers lie on their resume. It can go from lying about roles, responsibilities and accomplishments to marks and academic qualifications. Not every organization can afford background checks and it becomes very difficult to catch these lies. I’ve never seen a job seeker get the job if he is caught lying on resume, how trivial the lie may be”, said a recruitment manager with a large media company.
Sixty three percent of the respondents said that they search for new job listings at workplace using their employer’s resources. There is nothing wrong with looking for a job while being employed but using employer’s resources is questionable and risky given that it could be monitored
Eighty seven percent of the respondent said that they consider employer’s previous record of business ethics at the time of accepting job offers. Only Six percent of the respondent said they didn’t care about employer’s previous record. “The organisation’s past record is important but the problem is that it’s very difficult to find such information unless you know someone who is working there for a while”, said Ramesh Patil an IIM A graduate working with a large telecom operator.
iimjobs.com Business Ethics Survey
The survey was conducted from September 21 to October 5, 2009 with over 1700 MBAs from top business schools participating in the survey. Median age of respondents was around 28 years.
What do you think? Would you ever lie to get your dream job?
When swine flu broke out, the government revved up a massive information campaign centered on three words: Wash your hands.
The Obama administration now wants to convey similarly clear and concise guidance about one of the biggest national security threats in your home and office - the computer.
Think before you click. Know who's on the other side of that instant message. What you say or do in cyberspace stays in cyberspace - for many to see, steal and use against you or your government.
The Internet, said former national intelligence director Michael McConnell, "is the soft underbelly" of the US today. Speaking at a new cybersecurity exhibit at the International Spy Museum in Washington, McConnell said the Internet has "introduced a level of vulnerability that is unprecedented."
The Pentagon's computer systems are probed 360 million times a day, and one prominent power company has acknowledged that its networks see up to 70,000 scans a day, according to cybersecurity expert James Lewis.
For the most part, those probes of government and critical infrastructure networks are benign. Many, said McConnell, are a nuisance and some are crimes. But the most dangerous are probes aimed at espionage or tampering with or destroying data.
The attackers could be terrorists aiming at the US culture and economy, or nation-states looking to insert malicious computer code into the electrical grid that could be activated weeks or years from now.
"We are the fat kid in the race," said Lewis. "We are the biggest target, we have the most to steal, and everybody wants to get us."
And if, for example, the US gets into a conflict with China over Taiwan, "expect the lights to go out," he said. The exhibit at the Spy Museum - "Weapons of Mass Disruption" - tries to bring that threat to life.
A network of neon lights zigzags across the ceiling. Along the walls computer screens light up with harrowing headlines outlining the country's digital dependence.
Drinking water, sewer systems, phone lines, banks, air traffic, government systems, all depend on the electric grid, and losing them for weeks would plunge the country into the 1800s.
Suddenly, the lights go out and the room is plunged into silent darkness. Seconds later as the sound system crackles, a video ticks off a pretend crisis: no food, no water, system shutdown.
That faux threat has become a prime concern for the government, but fully protecting the grid and other critical computer systems are problems still waiting a solution.
Federal agencies, including the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, are pouring more money into hiring computer experts and protecting their networks.
But there are persistent questions about how to ensure that Internet traffic is safe without violating personal privacy.
One answer, experts said last week, is to begin a broader public dialogue about cybersecurity, making people more aware of the risks and how individuals can do their part at home and at work.
Some will find it easier than others.
Much of the younger generation has grown up online and are more likely to know about secure passwords, antivirus software and dangerous spam e-mails that look to steal identities, bank accounts and government secrets.
Older people moved into the digital universe as it began to evolve and most have not grown up thinking about how to protect themselves online.
"Detection and prevention are fast, but crime is still faster," said Phil Reitinger, director of the National Cybersecurity Center. The key, he said, "is to make sure that we're all getting the word out about not only the seriousness of the threat, but the fairly simple steps that people can take to help secure their systems and their lives and families from the threats that are out there."
In the computer world, "wash your hands" is less about tossing your keyboard into the dishwasher - although some have tried - and more about exercising caution.
Those steps include:
* Using antivirus software, spam filters, parental controls and firewalls.
* Regularly backing up important files to external computer drives.
* Thinking twice before sending information over the Internet, particularly when using wireless or unsecured public networks.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Liz O’Donnell, Director, International, LinkedIn swung by India recently and she was gushing about the success of the professional networking site in the country. “There are over one million members of the site with India given as their country of residence”, she said. That is the site’s second-largest international user base after the United Kingdom, and O’Donnell predicts that within the year, India will exceed the UK and be second only to the US, which still accounts for half of LinkedIn’s approximately 25 million user base.Explaining why she was in India, O’Donnell spoke about how the site was looking at expanding its reach in India and also looking at ways of leveraging advertising opportunities here. “We offer advertisers an extremely targeted demographic”, she said. Unlike other networking sites, LinkedIn does know about the industry that its members work in. “So if say, a car company wants to advertise to lawyers and dentists and we can deliver those demographics to them.” In fact, O’Donnell spoke about how the site is looking for new opportunities in India for both tie-ups and advertising.
“I would like to think that we are a different sort of networking site, we don’t crowd our pages with applications”, she says, but added that LinkedIn would soon start offering some applications to its users. And she also says that the site does not encourage ‘number games’, “If you look closely you will see that once people cross 500 connections we just put 500+”, she mentions, “Not that we don’t encourage connections, but making contacts for numbers is plain silly.”
Hours after the suicide blast near the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday morning (October 8) that killed at least 9 local Afghanis and injured scores, world reactions are coming in thick and fast.
While the Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the explosion a 'heinous act of terror', US envoy to India, Timothy Roemer also condemned the attack and said America supports India against terror.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the bomb blast outside the Indian Embassy, saying it was "heinous act of terror" planned to kill innocent civilians. Karzai said the perpetrators of the attack were vicious terrorists who were killing innocents to gain their malicious goals.
"This heinous act of terror was an obvious attack on civilians and the perpetrators of this attack and those who planned it are vicious terrorists who kill innocent people for their malicious goals."
Officials from the Afghan government have confirmed the attack was aimed at the Indian embassy. The latest suicide blast comes one year and 3 months after a blast of the same intensity rocked the Indian embassy premises on July 7.
In July 2008 a suicide car bomber had rammed the front wall of the Indian Embassy killing 41 people and wounding 147 in one of the deadliest attacks in the Afghan capital.
In August 2009 four civilians were killed in a suicide bomb attack near the American embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul. About 20 others were injured when a man driving a car blew himself up.
A month later in September a suicide car bomber struck near the front gate of NATO headquarters in Kabul, killing seven people and wounding nearly 100 in a brazen daylight attack.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Manash Pratim Bhuyan New Delhi, Apr 24 (PTI) The media industry, among the first to see revenue dry up due to the economic slowdown, is expected to be one of the major beneficiaries of this election for which ad spend is pegged at around Rs 800 crore. Experts say the total advertisement spending by the political parties would be around Rs 800 crore.
The Congress and the BJP alone could spend over Rs 400 crore on ads on television, radio and newspapers. The major political parties are spending a significant portion of their poll budget on advertisements.
'The media sector is going through a bad phase as even leading MNCs are cutting back on advertising. So the advertisement spending by political parties will definitely help the media sector,' said Bhaskar Rao Chairman of Centre for Media Studies.
However, CEO of NDTV Media Raj Naik said a major chunk of the advertisement spending by the political parties is going to general entertainment and regional TV channels. 'The news channels are not getting that much,' he said.
Rao said most of the leading media houses have reported higher revenue generation in the fourth quarter of the previous financial year due to elections. Rohit Gupta of Adwaves Advertising, a media buying agency, said media sector will be benefitted by the election as it would 'infuse huge sums of money' into the industry.
Expressing confidence that his party would win the elections, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Tuesday said the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) "was finished and existed "only in the mind".
The NDA is finished and has lost its fight. It's finished all over the country and only exists in the mind, Rahul Gandhi said at a press conference in the capital.
The fight has gone out of them and they are raising new issues every three to four days. There are no central issues.
A confident Rahul Gandhi also declared that his party would win the elections and the undercurrents this time were more positive than the 2004 polls.
We do not think we will sit in the opposition. We will win the elections, he said.
Rahul Gandhi reiterated that Manmohan Singh will be the party-led UPA's prime ministerial candidate post Election 2009 as he is the best man for the post.
"Manmohan Singh is a dynamic person. He has done tremendous things for the country. Manmohan Singh is the best prime minister the country can have," Rahul Gandhi said at a press conference here.
"My personal view is that he is the best prime minister for the country. Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) is also of this view. In general, if we think something is good for the country, we go for it. We thought the nuclear deal was good, we got that done. Now we think Manomohan is the best," Rahul Gandhi said, adding that the party would not compromise on the issue.
His remarks come a day after Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh said the party would not "guarantee" Manmohan Singh being the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) prime ministerial candidate post the elections, and the alliance partners would deliberate on the issue if it forms the next government.
Rahul Gandhi also said the Congress party has been campaigning hard for the last 30 days and its leadership feels the party will win the elections.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
|Since last summer, Gautam Gambhir, the diminutive left-hander, has been steadily etching a place for himself and after his centuries against New Zealand, it will be difficult to overlook him whenever the topic centres around the Indian batting line-up.|
The Indian batting line-up has been something to boast of more often than not and it is the Tendulkars, Dravids and Laxmans who are spoken about whenever the team needs to conjure up something special to wriggle out of a tight situation. While there is no doubt that their past achievements and enormous abilities are there for everyone to see, one sometimes tends to overlook the other players and it takes some extraordinary performances from the latter to come out of the sh adows of the seniors.
Since last summer, Gautam Gambhir, the diminutive left- hander, has been steadily etching a place for himself and after his centuries against New Zealand, it will be difficult to overlook him whenever the topic centres around the Indian batting line-up.
I first saw Gambhir in Indore when the NCA, in its early days, fielded a side against the visiting Zimbabweans. Even though Gambhir did not get a big score, it was obvious that he was different. The remarkable features of Gambhir’s knock in that game were his confidence and the verve to play his shots. I remarked to one of the selectors then that this little fellow needs to be followed closely, but, unfortunately, my observation was not taken with seriousness.
Within a year after that game, Gambhir created a big problem for the selection committee by amassing runs in the domestic circuit. But circumstances did not allow the selectors to draft him in. It was a blessing in disguise for the young man as he continued his apprenticeship in the domestic circuit in the next few years which enabled him to gain invaluable experience. The natural stroke-maker that Gambhir is, he took to the shorter version of the game like a duck to water and quite naturally he became an integral part of the team. However, he flattered to deceive in the Tests and there were serious doubts if he would fit into the scheme of things there. He was not a disastrous failure by any means, but he somehow kept getting out after making good starts.
It was common knowledge that a batsman in his mould would crack the code once he got to a three-figure mark. Then, of course, when a guy gets into the side and is trying to make a mark, the system does not give a long rope. Thus Gambhir was in and out of the team. The tour of Sri Lanka was a make or break tour for him and the youngster crossed that hurdle without too many hassles.
The coming of age happened against Australia last winter at home, when he notched up a double hundred and just when he was securing his place, he got involved in an altercation which cost him a Test. That was a setback in the sense that the confidence that a double century provides was not put to use.
However, his consistency has been remarkable and his growth in stature is critical for Indian cricket because Team India needs the likes of Gambhir and Yuvraj to become seasoned pros in Test cricket as the retirements of senior batsmen are not too far away. Besides, a left-hander at the top of the order is of immense value. The right-arm bowlers are generally not too comfortable bowling at left-handers and especially when the opening pair happens to be a left-right combination and as aggressive as Gambhir and Sehwag.
Gambhir has obviously worked on a few chinks in his batting and has grown as a batsman in the Test arena. As an opener, he will have the burden of easing the pressure on the middle-order batsmen by taking the shine off the new ball. But he along with Sehwag do more than just take the shine off. Gambhir does not seem as explosive as Sehwag is, but he gets his runs in quick time as well.
Despite his consistency in the last year or so, there were still some hushed whispers that he was a one-dimensional batsman. He does not get the latitude that Sehwag gets to indulge himself and probably realising this fact, Gambhir walked out in Napier to prove a point to himself and his detractors. His marathon innings might have probably been boring for the undiscerning, but in grinding the Kiwi attack under pressure, Gambhir ensured that India did not suffer any setback in its quest to create history. The importance of his century in Napier lies in the fact that it showed his resoluteness to become a well-rounded batsman.
He has gone through the first round of Test cricket with outstanding success and hopefully he will continue to amass runs in the years to come as well. In a way, being in the shadow of the other acclaimed batsmen in the side has helped Gambhir to slowly but steadily establish his own identity. Now that he has done that, he should constantly raise the bar with every passing series in order to live up to higher expectations.
The Congress on Tuesday said the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not negotiable after Lok Sabha elections in the event of the Left making its support conditional (removal of Singh).
"the Congress does not believe in negotiating leadership," party spokesman Anand Sharma said to a query whether Congerss would reconsider the name of Singh for the top job after the elections if the Left insisted on it in return for its support.
Mr. Sharma said government-formation was a game of numbers and "we are making it clear to our partners that they must not delude themselves on this. No secular government is possible without the Indian National Congress".
Monday, March 23, 2009
After the various flip-flops that the IPL has been throuigh over the last few months, the governming council decided yesterday (March 22) that the cricket extravaganza might be held in England. Following this, mixed reactions surfaced, includive of a blame game between the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) and the government.
No word was out over the hosting of IPL 2 from the Home Minister P Chidambaram immediately. However, he is slated to reply on the developments over the second edition of the cash-rich Twenty20 tournament, in a press conference on Monday (March 23), scheduled at 11.30 am.
Sources in the ministry said that thet are likely to say that the BCCI broke the consultation process, which is what led to the turn of events.
The BCCI had accused the government for pushing them to take decision of shifting the IPL out of the country. President of the BCCI, Shashank Manohar, blamed the governments of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh for the IPL being moved out of India.
Because of the attitude of the government that they are not ready to spare security forces for the cricket tournament, we are forced to take the decision to move the event out of India," BCCI President Shashank Manohar had told a press conference. "I apologise to the people of India for moving the tournament out," Manohar added.
Monday, February 16, 2009
External Affairs Minisiter Pranab Mukherjee, who currently also holds charge of the Finance Ministry presented the interim Budget for 2009-10 in Lok Sabha today (February 16) claiming that every effort has been made to fulfil promises made.
Refraining from tinkering with tax and duty rates in the interim Budget, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today (February 16) made a huge allocation of Rs 30,100 crore to Government's flagship rural employment programme and many other schemes in a bid to counter the economic recession.
Presentating the budget, Mukherjee said there was a need for acclerating pace of policy reforms, particularly in the financial sector.
"In these difficult times, when most economies are struggling to stay afloat, a healthy 7.1 percent rate of GDP growth still makes India the second fastest growing economy in the world," Mukherjee said.
Stocks extended losses to more than 3 percent on Monday after the interim budget failed to live up to investor expectations.
Despite the fact that revised estimates for tax collections during 2008-09 is projected at Rs 627,949 crore as against the budget estimate of Rs 687,715 crore, the Minister resisted the temptation of giving sops since it is an interim budget with General Elections just a few months away.
Highlights of the Budget
In view of the fact that security environment has deteriorated considerably with the Mumbai terror attacks giving an entirely new dimension to cross-border terrorism, the Budget increased the allocation for defence to Rs 141,703 crore including Rs 54,824 crore capital expenditure.
Aiming at enhancing expenditure on schemes to provide employment and lift the economy, the interim Budget for 2009-10 has planned a total expenditure of Rs 953,231 crore comprising Rs 285,149 crore in plan and Rs 668,082 crore in non-plan spending.
To counter the negative impact on exports due to the global economic crisis, the interest subvention of two per cent on pre and post shipment for certain employment sectors is proposed to be extended. Like the NREGS, the Bharat Nirman scheme gets a massive injection of Rs 40,900 crore in the coming year.
"In the current environment, there is a clear need for contra-cyclical policy and it calls for a substantial increase in expenditure in infrastructure development where we have a large gap and in rural development where the programmes such as Bharat Nirman and NREGS are playing a vital social role," Mukherjee said.
He said since the scope for revenue mobalisation is bound to be limited in a period of economic slowdown, any increase in plan expenditure will increase the fiscal deficit.
"Indeed, we may have to consider, the additional plan expenditure from 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent of GDP and gear up our systems accordingly," Mukherjee, who holds the additional charge of Finance, said in his 90-minute speech.
In the Budget estimates for 2009-10, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan has been given Rs 13,100 crore more while the Mid-day Meal Scheme will get Rs 8,000 crore, the Integrated Child Development Scheme Rs 6,705 crore and the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission will get an additional Rs 11,842 crore.
Among other schemes that got increased allocation are Rajiv Gandhi Rural Drinking Water Mission (Rs 7,400 crore), Total Rural Sanitation Programme (Rs 1,200 crore) and National Rural Health Mission (Rs 12,070 crore). To ensure continuity in financing of rural infrastructure projects, the Minister proposed RIDF-15 with a corpus of Rs 14,000 crore and continuation of the window for rural roads with a corpus of Rs 4,000 crore.
Mukherjee said the proposed provisions are appropriate for a vote-on-account but he pointed out that planned expenditure for 2009-10 will have to be increased substantially at the time the presentation of the regular Budget, if the economy has to be given a stimulus it needs to cope with the global recession that is likely to continue through the year.
The Budget makes a provision of Rs 95,579 crore for major subsidies including food, fertiliser and petroleum. For the coming year, gross tax revenue receipts at the existing rates of taxation are estimated at Rs 671,293 crore, of which the Centre's net receipts have been projected at Rs 500,096 crore.
With revenue expenditure estimated at Rs 848,085 crore, the revenue deficit amounts to 4 per cent of the GDP. Fiscal deficit is estimated at Rs 332,835 crore which is 5.5 per cent of the GDP. This would be lower than in 2008-09 but higher than would be appropriate under normal circumstances, he said.
"However, conditions in the year ahead are not likely to be normal and therefore the high fiscal deficit is inevitable. We will return to FRBM targets once the economy is restored to the recent trend growth path," he said.
Mukherjee said extraordinary economic circumstances merit extraordinary measures. "Now is the time for such measures. Our government decided to relax the FRBM targets, in order to provide much needed demand boost to counter the situation created by global financial meltdown.
"Indeed, depending on the response of the domestic economy and the revival of the global economy, there may be a need to consider additional fiscal measures when the regular budget is presented by the new government after the elections. However, the medium term objective should be to revert to the path of fiscal consolidation at the earliest," he said.
Touching on the revised estimates for 2008-09, he said the total expenditure has been revised to Rs 900,953 crore against Rs 750,884 crore, an increase of Rs 150,069 crore. The plan expenditure for 2008-09 was placed at Rs 243,386 crore in the Budget estimate which has now gone up to Rs 282,957 crore in the revised estimates. The additional plan spending of Rs 39,571 crore is on account of increase in the central plan by Rs 24,174 crore and an increase of Rs 15,397 crore in central assistance to state and UT plans.
On the non-plan side, the additional Rs 110,498 crore in the revised estimate is accounted for by an increase in expenditure of Rs 48,863 crore on fertiliser subsidy, Rs 10,960 crore on food subsidy, Rs 15,000 crore on agriculture debt waiver, Rs 7,605 crore on pensions and Rs 5,149 crore on police. An additional amount of Rs 9,000 crore has also been provided for in defence expenditure.
In keeping with the recent trend, the actual tax collections during 2007-08 exceeded the revised estimate for the year both for direct and indirect taxes. However, for 2008-09, the revised estimate for tax collection is projected at Rs 627,949 crore as against Budget estimate of Rs 687,715 crore.
This shortfall is primarily on account of government's proactive fiscal measures to counter the impact of global economic slowdown on the Indian economy, Mukherjee said. A substantial relief of about Rs 40,000 crore has been extended through tax cuts, including a fairly steep across-the-board reduction in central excise rates in December last. Despite this, it is expected that the tax collections will exceed last year's collection.
Taking into account the variations in receipts and expenditure, the current year expected to end with a revenue deficit of Rs 241,273 crore as against Budgeted figure of Rs 55,184 crore.
Accordingly, the revised revenue deficit stands at 4.4 per cent of GDP instead of 1 per cent in the Budget estimates. Similarly, the fiscal deficit of 2008-09 has gone up from Rs 133,287 crore in the Budget estimate to Rs 326,515 crore in the revised estimates. The revised fiscal deficit is estimated at 6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as against the budgeted figure of 2.5 per cent.
Rs 10 crore allocated for NIA
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), set up in the wake of audacious strikes in Mumbai, has
been allocated Rs 10 crore for 2009-10.
The NIA, which is under the administrative control of Home Ministry, was set up by an Act of Parliament in December 2008 soon after the November 26 terror strikes in which more than 180 people were killed.
The agency has concurrent jurisdiction which empowers the Centre to probe terror attacks in any part of the country, covering offences, including challenge to the country's sovereignty and integrity, bomb blasts, hijacking of aircraft and ships, and attacks on nuclear installations.
Last month, senior IPS officer Radha Vinod Raju was appointed as Director General of the NIA.
Highlights of Interim General Budget 2009-10
* Growth forecast at 7.1 per cent for 2008-09
* Total expenditure for FY'10 seen at Rs 9,53,231 crore
* Plan expenditure estimated at Rs 2,85,149 crore.
* Non-Plan expenditure pegged at Rs 6,68,082 crore.
* Revenue expenditure at Rs 8,48,085 crore.
* Centre's net tax revenue pegged at Rs 5,00,096 crore.
* Revenue deficit 4 per cent of GDP.
* Fiscal deficit at 5.5 per cent of GDP.
* Major subsidies estimated at Rs 95,579 crore.
* Two per cent interest subsidy for exports extended till Sept for employment oriented sector.
* Defence allocation at Rs 1,41,703 crore.
* Rs 30,100 crore allocated for rural employment scheme.
* Bharat Nirman allocated Rs 40,900 crore.
* Rs 12,070 crore for National Rural Health Mission.
* Rural drinking programme allocated Rs 7,400 crore.
* Rural sanitation programme gets Rs 1,200 crore.
* Rs 14,000 crore for rural infrastructure development.
* Mid-day Meal scheme allocated Rs 8,000 crore.
* Rs 6,705 crore for Integrated Child Development Scheme.
* Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan allocated Rs 13,100 crore.
* Urban renewal mission gets Rs 11,842 crore.
* Government to recapitalise public sector banks.
| Budget Trivia |
* This is the UPAs 6th Budget
* Pranab's first Budget Speech in the UPA govt
* Earlier five Budgets were presented by P Chidambaram
* Mukherjee was Finance Minister between 1982 to 1984
* During this period Dr Manmohan Singh was RBI Governor
What is an interim budget?
1. 'Interim Budget' is described as a Vote-on-Account in Article 116 of the Constitution.
2. Vote-on-Account is presented when government has no time to present full Budget or elections
are around the corner.
3. In such cases, propriety demands new government have lee-way to present a policy and
financial outlook as per their priorities.
4. Vote-on-account primarily takes Parliament sanction for spending to be incurred in the first few
months of a new financial year till new government takes over.
5. Nothing prevents the government from making new announcements or tax changes, but
conventionally this has not been done.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
This is not just that old 'guns vs. butter' argument, but a call of more of the latter and in a strictly literal sense, about roti, kapda and makaan. And if there is an argument here, it is about what kind of butter to buy.
In a few days, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, standing in for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will present the interim budget. Before he firms up the budget proposals, Mukherjee will have to asses the requests by the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, for additional sums for development work.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ahluwalia has asked for an additional Rs 55,000 crore for social welfare programmes, over and above what the finance ministry (now under Mukherjee) has earmarked for this year’s budget. As Ahluwalia says, the finance ministry has said Rs 285,149 crore is available for 2009-10. That, he flatly says, is not enough. And this is why:
* this is an increase of only 4 per cent in nominal terms over the gross budgetary support of
2008-09. In real terms, this is a reduction.
* As a result, it will not be possible for the government to provide any form of fiscal stimulus to
ward off the possibility of doom and gloom. While Ahluwalia doesn’t say that in so many words,
by referring to ‘stimulus,’ he has the global economic crisis in mind.
In an election year, when every possible sop has to reach the voter (he must at least know more are coming), this will not do. So, Ahluwalia is looking for growth, particularly as the wolf of depression is at the door. He wants:
* The fiscal deficit that is being kept at 5 per cent be increased. If the fiscal deficit is increased by
1 per cent, another Rs 55,000 crore would be available and that would swell the gross budgetary
support to Rs 340,000 crore.
* This, he says would be a substantial increase, as it would be a 24 per cent increase over the
Revised Estimates of the previous year’s budget.
The alternative to having this stimulus is pretty grim. The Rs 285,149 crore GBS would be only an increase of Rs 11,000 and very little can be done for the big schemes that the UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh is pinning its faith on. Also, there will be little for the new programmes like the National Knowledge Network, the construction of roads in Naxal-affected areas and such like. If you go with such a small increase in these economically difficult times, there is no stimulus and we are at the mercy of the wolves of the Great Depression of this century.
Yes, the additional Rs 55,000 crore will raise the overall deficit to about 9.5 percent but even that is tolerable compared with this year’s deficit of 11.3 per cent. If the increase remains at Rs 11,000 crore, some of it (about Rs 1,958 crore) crore will go as additional central assistance to the states.
* Rs 300 crore goes for the Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme
* Rs 600 crore goes for the New Delhi Commonwealth Games
* An additional Rs 910 crores will additional buses and other facilities under the Jawaharlal Nehru
Urban Renewal Mission
Central sector schemes will also benefit:
* About Rs 1800 crore will go for Railway overbridges
* Rs 2000 crore will go for highways in the Naxalite-affected areas
* About Rs 300 crore for the already lavishly funded Rural Employment Guarantee Fund
The Dr Manmohan Singh government has invested in a number of major projects. There is a belief that the success or failure of these projects will play a part in the elections three months away. And these projects are about big numbers.
* The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme: Rs 30,300 crore
* The National Rural Health Mission: Rs 12,050 crore
* The Midday Meal Scheme: Rs 8,000 crore
* The Sarva Siksha Abhiyan: Rs 12,050 crore
* The Indira Awas Yojana’s: Rs 8,800 crore
* The Integrated Child Development Programme: Rs 6,300 crore
The significant feature of these numbers is not how big they are: together these six programmes alone add up to 75 per cent of India’s entire defence budget. The important point is that the numbers are no different from this year’s revised estimates. This means that the government of India has no additional funds to bolster the six flagship programmes of the government, on which it has bet its life on.
With an Rs 11,000 crore increase, only a few major schemes will get some more money. These are:
* The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana: an additional Rs 1,470 crore
* The Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana: an additional Rs 500 crore and
* The Accelerated Power Development Programme: an additional Rs 580 crore
Also, strategic ministries would not get a penny more: atomic energy would stay at Rs 3,550 crore, space at Rs 3,600 crore and science and technology at Rs 1530 crore. Only highways and road transport and information technology would get big hikes of Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 1,500 crore respectively. (NOTE: All numbers mentioned are not projections by some chamber or association, but allocations being firmed up by the government itself. They WILL change if the additional money, or even some part of it comes through)
Severe burden on the exchequer they may be, the social welfare programmes have hopefully done some good. As Ahluwalia himself has said privately, the NREGA has done well in some states and not as well in others. As the government believes, even if they are partly successful (there are enough cases of leaks) some benefits will accrue and that will translate into votes.
So, think of the growth strategies with an additional Rs 55,000 crore. Not to speak of welfare schemes.
Friday, February 13, 2009
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday said that India would use all means at its disposal to end terror coming from Pakistan.
Welcoming the Pakistan Government''s admission that some part of the Mumbai attack conspiracy had been hatched on Pakistani soil, Mukherjee described the 26/11 incident as one of the "most gruesome" manifestations of terrorism."
"Pakistan's response (on Thursday) is a positive response, and we will share whatever we can with the neighbouring country," Mukherjee said.
"It remains India''s goal to bring the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai to book, and to follow this process through to the end. We would also expect that Pakistan takes credible steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan," he told corporate executives in the national capital.
Reiterating India''s determination to end the cross-border scourge, Mukherjee said Mumbai was chosen as the target by Pakistani terrorists as they wanted to hit India''s business and corporate "vistas".
Terrorism, he said, poses multi-dimensional challenges and "the Mumbai attack of 26/11 was only the most recent and the most gruesome example of this scourge of terrorism that needs to be tackled in a resolute manner," he said.
Quoting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said, "We will spare no effort to deal with terrorist and insurgent groups operating from neighbouring countries. We are determined to put an end to terrorism sponsored from across the border with all the means at our command."
"The government is fully aware and seized of the fact that security is not only of paramount importance in the life of the nation, but is also deeply intertwined to the running of business in our country," he said.
He said a large number of measures and significant steps had been taken to strengthen the apparatus for dealing with emerging challenges to national security. Mukherjee''s response came hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani''s Adviser for Interior Affairs, Rehman Malik, confirmed that part of the strategy for the terror attack on Mumbai between November 26 and 29, 2008, may have been hatched on Pakistan soil.
However, Malik also fired 30 questions at the Indian Government such as details of fingerprints of the 10 gunmen, their intercepted phone conversations with their handlers and the DNA of lone surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab, saying answers to them were needed by Islamabad to complete a credible probe from its end.
Malik urged India to provide more inputs to help Pakistan secure convictions of personnel allegedly involved in the 26/11 strikes.
Pakistan, he said, wanted Kasab''s national identity card, electronic and digital diaries seized and the confessional statement made by him in the Indian court and details of who helped in refuelling of one of the three boats used by the terrorists.
The other questions relates to the probe by Indian investigators on local links in the Mumbai carnage, call details from each of cellphone used by the terrorists since they had Indian SIM cards and DNA details of the nine dead terrorists.
Pakistan also wanted inputs on how Kasab identified Lashkar-e-Taiba Operations Commander and alleged 26/11 mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the Government will follow the process of action initiated by Pakistan through to its logical end as it is keen to ensure that perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice.
The statement was issued soon after Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Satyabrata Pal was "informed officially" by Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir of Pakistan''s response to the dossier of evidence that India had given to Pakistan on January 5 linking the Mumbai attacks to perpetrators in Pakistan.
It is expected that Mukherjee will give a formal response to Pakistan''s latest disclosure Friday.
Monday, February 9, 2009
India’s record breaking sequence of nine consecutive ODI triumphs was brought to an end on Sunday (February by Sri Lanka who salvaged some pride with a consolation 68-run win in the fifth and final One-day cricket match of the series which has already been clinched by the visitors.
The defeat means that India could not make a clean sweep of the series and had to be content with a 4-1 victory margin.
Sri Lankan opener Tillakaratne Dilshan missed a ton by just three runs and Kumar Sangakkara’s hit 84 while spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan regained form just in time to avoid the series whitewash.
Half centuries by Yuvraj Singh (73), debutant Ravindra Jadeja (60 not out) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (53) could not be enough as Indian top order failed to click and the visitors were rolled over with seven balls to spare in chase of Sri Lanka’s challenging 320 for eight on a batting track.
The Indians went into the final match without key players like Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and spinner Pragyan Ojha with the team management deciding to try out bench strength.
Yuvraj gave some stability to the run chase after his side was reduced to 85 for four inside the 15th over. India, however, struggled again after some time as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals on a day when nothing went right for them.
A cautious Dhoni and Jadeja only tried to delay the inevitable by putting on 55 runs off 66 balls for the seventh wicket.
Dhoni’s effort included two massive sixes and a hit to the fence. He reached his 50 with a towering six. Jadeja’s 77-ball knock was aided by four fours.
India round off the tour with a one-off Twenty20 international on February 10 before returning home next day.
The visitors got off to a shaky start with opener Virender Sehwag dismissed cheaply for six by Thilan Thushara on a poor shot after hitting the bowler for a four on the previous ball in the second over.
He was immediately followed by Suresh Raina, who was done in by an impeccable field placing by Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene in the third over and at that stage India were tottering at nine for two wickets in chase of a mammoth target.
The other opener Gautam Gambhir, who made 150 in the previous day-night affair, also buckled under pressure and was out for 13 off Nuwan Kulasekara, who got him caught by wicketkeeper Sangakkara in the ninth over. Rohit Sharma (15) then returned to pavilion in the 15th over.
India’s hopes suffered a further jolt when Muralitharan removed an in-form Yuvraj Singh. The offie caught the Punjab batsman, who adorned his 73-run knock with 11 boundaries and a six, off his own delivery.
Dhoni took charge of the proceedings for almost next 10 overs before he was sent packing by Sanath Jayasuriya.
For Sri Lanka, Dilshan (97) missed his century as Indian bowlers charged up only in the 42nd over to struck gold in the form of three crucial wickets. A blazing Sangakkara’s stint was also cut short on 84.
Sri Lanka were appearing to be doing everything right in their bid to salvage some pride as Jayawardene called the coin correctly and then veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya (37 off 35 balls) gave a superb start to his team.
It was great going for the hosts on a batting track till the 42nd over as they were 255 for two wickets with Dilshan and Sangakkara sharing the honours by stitching together a 143-run partnership for the second wicket.
But then Indian bowlers dismissed four Sri Lankan batsmen in the space of just two runs with Ishant triggering the collapse by bowling Thilina Kandamby (26) out on the second ball of the 42nd over.
Depleted bowling did India in: Dhoni
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni blamed lack of bowling resources for their defeat to Sri Lanka in the fifth and final cricket One-dayer, which halted their stupendous nine-match winning run.
India had rested its key players such as pacer Zaheer Khan, spinner Pragyan Ojha and batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar but Dhoni said it was crucial to try out youngsters with the series already in their pocket.
“Our bowling was not strong. But it was good to have a go at the guys who had not played. Ravindra Jadeja got a chance see what international cricket is all about and how tough it can be sometimes,” Dhoni said after 68-run loss which prevented them from making a clean-sweep of the series.
“Overall it was good, though we lost (today), we won the series,” he added.
The Indian captain dedicated the series win to his teammates, who, he says back each other and enjoy each others success.
“The overall team morale is good. It’s important to have good dressing room atmosphere and guys back each other and enjoy each other’s success.
“Whenever I needed them they were there, whether I needed a batsman or a bowler (to perform). So I dedicate this win to my teammates. Hopefully, we will continue to win more tournaments,” Dhoni said.
India 3rd at ranking
The loss in the final ODI has hurt India in the ICC rankings while South Africa maintain their lead at the top of the ODI rankings. It is Australia who have regained the second spot thanks to their win against the Kiwis in the 3rd ODI today.
But even though India lost the 5th ODI. It was a good day for Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who made his debut for India. The stylish left-hander slammed his maiden ODI fifty on debut and held his own against the top class Lankan bowlers. The 20-year-old scored his runs almost at a good scoring rate without taking too many risks. Jadeja who also bowled 6 wicketless overs earlier smashed 5 boundaries in his innings and looks set for a longer stint with the national team.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
The Australian cricket team's current decline is an unavoidable
fallout of a long-term plan to win the 2011 World Cup, insists
embattled skipper Ricky Ponting.
"One-day games and series come and go pretty quickly and while our
current results have been disappointing everybody has to understand
there is a long-term plan in place and things can change quickly,"
Ponting wrote in his column for 'The Australian'.
"Even now we are working toward the 2011 World Cup, blooding
players, testing tactics and finding out who performs under pressure,"
Recalling the 0-3 whitewash at the hands of New Zealand ahead of the
2007 World Cup in West Indies, Ponting said his team was lambasted
after that defeat but went on to win the World Cup without losing a
"Australia has not lost a game at the past two World Cups and that
didn't happen by accident, but I wonder if anybody remembers the 2007
one-day series against New Zealand over there," he said.
"I didn't go because my back was playing up. Adam Gilchrist had a
rest, which attracted a bit of comment at the time and Michael Hussey
was handed the captaincy," he recalled.
"It was a time when people like Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Shaun Tait
and Mitchell Johnson were given a chance to show what they had.
results weren't flash. We lost 3-0 and it was right on the eve of the
World Cup. I remember the criticism of the team and the speculation
about whether Gilly and I should have been rested, but it was part of a
plan to ensure our better players, or more experienced players, were
ready for the big tournament," Ponting said.
Ponting said the team is in a similar situation right now.
"We're a bit further out from the World Cup right at the moment, but
it's a similar situation. There's been criticism about me not playing
the next few games and I was probably the person who was most reluctant
about it, but it's all about the bigger picture. A lot of planning has
gone into this decision, just as there was before we decided to rest
Mitchell Johnson for the start of the one-day series," he said.
"People have to be a little patient with some of the younger
players. They are long-term investments. Shaun Marsh and David Warner
are learning on the job. Everybody can see what enormous talent they
have, but in this game there are going to be steps forward and steps
backward," he added.
Monday, February 2, 2009
The Spanish press heralded Rafael Nadal's Australian Open victory only minutes after the top-ranked player became the first Spaniard to win the season-opening Grand Slam.Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 at the Rod Laver Arena to win his sixth major trophy and third straight Grand Slam final over Federer, who was denied a chance to tie Pete Sampras' record 14 major titles on Sunday."Nadal reaffirms his legend in Australia," the Diario de Mallorca wrote on the front page of its Web site. El Mundo's Web site called the victory "Undeniably Nadal," and AS labeled the 22-year-old from Mallorca the "King of Australia."Nadal has won three of the last four majors after taking a fourth straight French Open and first Wimbledon title in 2008. Nadal replaced Federer at No 1 after a record 237 weeks in August and then won the Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games."He's a great champion, and a great example to all of the young people through the world," said Emilio Sanchez Vicario, Spain's former Davis Cup captain.Nadal has won five of the seven Grand Slam finals he's played against Federer and is 13-6 overall against the Swiss star.Three Spanish players had reached the Australian Open final before Nadal, with Carlos Moya being the last when he lost to Sampras in 1997.
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