Friday, March 16, 2012

A record made for centuries, Sachin scores his hundredth ton

Sachin Tendulkar on Friday became the first batsman in history to score 100 international centuries, adding another milestone in his record-breaking career. Tendulkar, who turns 39 next month, achieved the feat when he recorded his 49th one-day century in the Asia cup match against Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka. He has 51 Test hundreds.

The Mumbai batsman, who has compiled more Test and one-day runs than anyone in history, reached the record with a single, marking the moment with a modest glance to the sky while pointing to the Indian flag on his helmet.
Tendulkar is the most capped player in the history of the game with 188 Test and 462 one-day appearances since making his debut against Pakistan in Karachi in November, 1989.
Millions of fans in India and across the cricketing world endured an anxious year-long wait before Tendulkar finally reached the landmark in the four-nation tournament, the symbol of one-day supremacy in the continent.
After 33 innings and over a year, Tendulkar finally got to the elusive ton. It took him 138 deliveries, one of the most arduos one-day efforts by the 38-year-old right-hander, to get to the 100 that had become as much a talking point as the team's fortunes in the past 365 days.
The bowler against whom it came about was Shakib Al Hasan and the moment was the fourth delievry of the 43rd over of Indian innings.
Tendulkar clipped it down to square leg and jogged the single, gave a long hard stare to his bat after taking off his helmet before looking heavenward in his signature style. What was missing was emotion.
The diminutive batsman, the most successful batsman in internationla cricket right now, kept it subdued. He shook hands with Suresh Raina, his partner at the other end, and raised his bat to acknowledge the cheering fans with a straight face giving little insight into what was going on his mind amid the drama.
But the teammates in the dressing room were as expressive as they could be as they all got up from their seats to applaud the veteran as he added another feather to an already overcrowded cap.
However, reaching the milestone was no easy task for the player who often makes batting look effortless.
After getting what several former cricketers called a monkey off his back, Tendulkar was dismissed by Mashrafe Mortaza off the second last delivery of the 47th over. The 114-run knock was incidentally Tendulkar's maiden century against Bangladesh.
Upon his dismissal, the Bangladeshi players expectedly gave him a round of applause as he walked back to pavillion with fans cheering him on. His Indian teammates and coach Duncan Fletcher received him at the boundary lauding the iconic player.
But what would be remembered is the wait that Tendulkar endured to get to the milestone. It all began with the 99th ton that he got against South Africa in a World Cup match on March 12 last year.
For a man, who is considered nothing less than god of cricket in India, getting to 100th was considered nothing more than a stroll in the park.
He decided to skip the tour of West Indies that followed and the subsequent trip to England proved a disaster not just for him but for the entire team as it failed to notch a single win in any format of the game.
He got close to scoring the hundred a few times in the home Test series against the West Indies but missed out. The action shifted to Australia after that and though he seemed to be in good form, the Aussies kept their promise of not letting him the reach the milestone against them at least.
He was eventually selected for the ODI tri-series, his first one-day assignment after the World Cup, but once again the hundred eluded him.
Tendulkar then made himself available for the Asia Cup and as destiny would have it, the elusive ton came in the familiar sub-continental environs.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rail Budget today: Safety cess on higher class fares likely

,"Rail Budget is going to be like whatever it should be," railway minister Dinesh Trivedi said in New Delhi while giving finishing touches to the documents of budget 2012-13. Trivedi will present his maiden Rail Budget in the Lok Sabha after the Question Hour on Wednesday. Asked about the possibility of fare hike, which has not been touched since 2003, he declined to comment saying, "no preview."
There are speculations about the possibility of safety cess being imposed on train fares to mop up Rs 5,000 crore as recommended by Kakodkar Committee.
Parliamentary committees, Planning Commission and railway unions have suggested fare hike in all classes to raise funds for the national transporter.
Given the financial condition of railways, Trivedi has to make a tight ropewalk catering to the need of massive upgradation of rail infrastructure and also improving passenger amenities.
Pitching for expansion of rail infrastructure, the railway minister may allocate significant funds while presenting the Rail Budget on Wednesday for Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) to expedite its execution.
The ambitious Rs one lakh crore project had recently got a big push with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directing central departments and states to give the project "highest priority."
At a high-level meeting held recently, it was decided that state governments would set up monitoring committees to resolve the issues especially land-acquisition in an expeditious manner so that the project is completed by the projected deadline of 2017.
The 3,300-km long project, which will criss-cross various states, shall transform India's economic transport facility.
Railways aims to shift a major portion of road transport to rail once the DFC connecting Delhi to Mumbai and Ludhiana to Dankuni in West Bengal becomes operational.
According to railway sources, the focus of the budget would be more towards automation and strengthening the existing infrastructure.
The Rail Budget could also announce about 80 new trains, including the popular Duronto class of trains.
Trivedi is likely to announce transforming more stations as Adarsh stations which will provide better facilities for passengers.
The budget may continue with the practice of not raising the fares and freight rates but the possibility of imposition of a safety cess may not not be ruled out, at least on the higher class fares.
The Rail Budget could announce two new coach factories in Kolar in Karnataka and Kutch in Gujarat. Incidentally, both the ministers of states for railways KH Muniyappa and Bharatsinh Solank come from these two states.
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Just 8% Indians have Internet


Though known for its computer whizkids world over, the penetration of computers/ laptops in India is only 9.4% or less than one out of 10 households with only 3% having internet facility. The penetration of internet is 8% in urban as compared to less than 1% in rural area.
The 2011 housing census figures released on Tuesday by the Registrar General of India threw up some interesting facts bringing out stark realities in India that is trying to carve a place among the top advanced nations.
While the use of TV sets in Indian households saw an increase of 16 points from 31.6 to 47.2% in last one decade and penetration of mobile phones touched 59%, the country failed to match this progress in giving better sanitation to the people as 50% of the 24.67 crore households still defecate in the open and 41.6% have no bathroom facility.
The figures of modes of transport can give a reason to smile to the automobile manufacturers as only 4.7% households have four wheelers and only 21% have two wheelers. The majority, about 45%, still prefer to ride bicycles, while 17.8% households still have not personal transport assets. The last decade saw an increase of 9 point in two wheeler and 2 points in four wheelers, with bicycle showing increase of 1 point only.
As regards amenities 36% of households still have to fetch water from a source located within 500 mts in rural areas and 100 mts in urban areas while 17% still fetch drinking water from a source located more than half a kilometre away in rural areas or 100 metres in urban area.
For the main source of lighting, 31.4% households still depend on kerosene while electricity is available to 67.2%, an increase of 11 points over 2001. The rural urban gap for electricity reduced by 7 percentage points from 44% in 2001 to 37% in 2011.
Two-third of the households are using firewood/crop residue, cow dung cake/coal etc. and 3% households use Kerosene. There is an increase of 11 pts in use of LPG from 18% in 2001 to 29% in 2011.
The Census 2011 for over 24.66 crore households across was done over a period of 45 days and involved approximately 25 lakh enumerators and 2 lakh supervisors.
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Nobel scientist who warned of thinning ozone dies

F. Sherwood Rowland. File photoF. Sherwood Rowland, the Nobel prize-winning chemist who sounded the alarm on the thinning of the Earth’s ozone layer, has died. He was 84.
Rowland died Saturday at his home of complications from Parkinson’s disease, the dean of the University of California, Irvine’s physical sciences department said Sunday.
“We have lost our finest friend and mentor,” Kenneth C. Janda said in a statement. “He saved the world from a major catastrophe - never wavering in his commitment to science, truth and humanity and did so with integrity and grace.”
Rowland was among three scientists awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry for explaining how the ozone layer is formed and decomposed through chemical processes in the atmosphere.
The prize was awarded more than two decades after Rowland and post-doctoral student Mario Molina calculated that if human use of chlorofluorocarbons, a by-product of aerosol sprays, deodorants and other household products, were to continue at an unchanged rate, the ozone layer would be depleted after several decades. Their work built upon findings by atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen.
Their prediction caught enormous attention and was strongly challenged partly because the non-toxic properties of CFCs were thought to be environmentally safe. Their work gained widespread recognition more than a decade later with the discovery of the ozone hole over the Earth’s polar regions.
“It was to turn out that they had even underestimated the risk,” a Nobel committee said in its award citation for Rowland, Molina and Crutzen.
Mr. Molina said his former mentor never shied from defending his work or advocating a ban on CFCs.
“He showed me that if we believe in the science ... we should speak out when we feel it’s important for society to change,” Mr. Molina told The Associated Press.
“Isn’t it a responsibility of scientists, if you believe that you have found something that can affect the environment, isn’t it your responsibility to do something about it, enough so that action actually takes place?” Rowland said at a White House climate change roundtable in 1997.
“If not us, who? If not now, when?” he asked.
Rowland was survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Joan, a son and a daughter.
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Pay me a rupee more than SRK, says Salman: Report

While a lot has been said and written about the rivalry between Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, the story looks like it's getting more interesting by the day. The recent buzz is that Salman wants to be paid a rupee more for his film with a big production house than what they are paying SRK for his upcoming movie with Katrina Kaif.

Surprisingly, this information has come out at a time when SRK has already started shooting for the Yash Chopra film, while Salman has almost finished filming the Kabir Khan directed venture.

Race to the top
"Before Salman committed to the movie, he asked Aditya Chopra to pay him a rupee more than what SRK was being paid for Yashji's film," says our source, adding that Aditya couldn't promise this then as he's also asking for a percentage of the profit as part of his remuneration. "Aditya explained to him that his percentage of profit share depended on how much the film makes on release.

And no one can say for sure whose film will collect how much at the box office." Salman felt relieved when Aditya reassured him that they'd give him as fair a deal as he gets with any other filmmaker. "So Salman need not worry about being shortchanged as compared to SRK," pointed out our source.

Changing terms
Apparently, the three Khans are said to be getting a fixed fee of not less than Rs 15 crore each. "The Chopras weren't known to pay anyone's market price earlier. But with the change in the industry, they've agreed to the fees of the Khans being divided into a fixed amount and a share in the profits," said our informer.

About this, our first source reasons, "With back-to-back Rs 100 crore plus earners like Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard, Salman knows he's the biggest draw in India. So in keeping with his drawing power at the domestic box-office, if he's asking for a rupee more, he's not being unreasonable. Is he?"

Buzz is that the three Khans are being paid the same fixed fee upfront. However, who earns the most will be seen when the final India net figures are tabled.

Insecure of Aamir too?
Interestingly, there's another angle to this one-upmanship of the fees between the three Khans with reference to their movies with Chopra's production house. Another industry veteran tells us that when Salman was asked to sign the contract for the Kabir Khan film, he asked to see the kind of deal they had worked with Aamir, for their action thriller.

"It seems Salman was keen to see the kind of terms his friend was getting for the action thriller franchisee film that also features Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra," said our source. Not to be left behind, before committing to Yash Chopra's directorial venture with Katrina and Anushka Sharma, SRK wanted to be apprised of the terms and conditions Aamir and Salman had finalised with the banner.

"Considering that SRK has been long associated with the Chopras, he can't afford to let Aamir and Salman get a better deal than him. So he too was signed on for the same terms as Aamir," explains our source.

Rs 1 rules
Not surprisingly, ego issues between stars over money matters are not new. Industry sources tell us that the demand for a rupee more were first made many years ago. Apparently, Manmohan Desai was once confronted with this dilemma when he cast Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna in Amar Akbar Anthony. "Their rivalry was at the peak then and each wanted to be paid more than the other. Eventually, Amitabh Bachchan walked off with a fatter pay cheque," says an old source.

Kishore Kumar made no secret of his eccentricities. Known to be a miser, he charged a whopping amount of Rs 15,000 per song back then. However, he took Rs 1 less than what Lata Mangeshkar charged, as a mark of respect towards her.
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‘25 lakh gays in India, 7 pc are HIV-positive’

Gay population is 25 lakh, 7 pc HIV infected: Govt to SCThe Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that there were around 25 lakh homosexuals in the country of which 1.75 lakh — seven per cent — were HIV-infected.
An affidavit filed in the court by Sayan Chatterjee, Secretary, Department of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, says, “The population of men who have sex with men (MSM) was estimated to be 25 lakh in India.”
The affidavit cites the figures of the National Aids Control programme.
He said the government was working on bringing four lakh high-risk MSM under the AIDS control programme, of which two lakh are already covered. The incidence of HIV among female sex workers is 4.60-4.94 per cent and among MSM it is 6.54-7.23 per cent. In the case of drug addicts, HIV is the highest at 9.42-10.30 per cent, the affidavit, filed as per directions of the Bench at the last hearing, says.
It also says that due to the government’s AIDS control programme, there has been reduction of HIV prevalence and deaths due to AIDS.
During resumed hearing on the controversial issue of decriminalising same-sex relations, the Bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi told Additional Solicitor General Mohan Jain that the earlier “carefully-worded” affidavit filed by the Union Home Ministry did not say if the Cabinet had accepted the Delhi High Court reading down portions of Section 377, which criminalises sexual relations between members of the same sex.
At the last hearing on February 29, the Centre, which had earlier drawn flak for shifting its stance on the issue, had filed an affidavit saying that on the advice of a GoM, the Cabinet had decided against taking any stand on the issue and had decided to await the decision of the apex court.
During Tuesday’s hearing, counsel for NGO Naz Foundation, which was the petitioner in the Delhi HC, asserted that continued criminalising of gay sex prevents homosexuals from coming out in the open.
“This population is hidden in society and they are not available for getting proper healthcare facilities. There is a greater chance of the transmission of disease among them,” advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the NGO, said.
To this, the court asked him to place the reports and the studies done by experts to substantiate his arguments.
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What Sachin did not get, Gambhir and Kohli got

TWO TO TANGO: Virat Kohli (right) and Gautam Gambhir added 205 runs for the second wicket to help India post a winning total.
They weren’t expected to score a ‘Perfect 10’ on the compatibility front, but they actually did. Only a few days back, one was stripped of the vice-captaincy in favour of the other. However, if their 205-run partnership against familiar foes Sri Lanka on Tuesday was anything to go by, all seems well between Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli.
The duo joined hands after Sachin Tendulkar failed to score even 10 — and you were expecting a ton! — on a pitch which resembled a grass bank, but had no pace whatsoever.
The ball never rose beyond their knees and the Sri Lankans, perhaps, forgot that bouncers were legal. Evidently, the Delhi duo made merry and, in the process, notched up their 10th ODI hundreds.
Gambhir and Kohli now have six century stands, three of them yielding over 200 runs. Interestingly, each of these has resulted in an Indian win, five while chasing. Their 27 associations have been worth 1,762 runs and the average column boasts a staggering 70.48. The next best (minimum 20 innings) is the 63.37 between MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina (2,345 runs in 45 outings).
So what is it that works for them? Former India opener, chief selector and head coach Anshuman Gaekwad reckons that the Delhi connection is obviously working. “When you play for the same state or zone, you are bound to bond well,” he said.
Another factor that’s helping them milk attacks is their running between the wickets. “These are two technically sound players who play every shot in the book. And they run like hares,” Gaekwad said.
For the record, the duo ran 53 singles on Tuesday. Only 56 runs (both hit seven fours each) came off boundaries.
Gaekwad isn’t done. Sourav Ganguly and Tendulkar enthralled us for over a decade and they amassed 8,227 in each other’s company.
ODI cricket’s most successful pair registered a mind-boggling 26 century stands and 29 fifty-run partnerships. But the veteran says Kohli and Gambhir could go on and make that record their own. “Records are meant to be broken. These guys can do better. Ganguly was a poor runner,” Gaekwad said.
It’s a given that success in limited-overs cricket breeds success in the Test arena. With Rahul Dravid gone, Kohli’s elevation to No 3 cannot be ruled out. Who knows, the ‘Delhi Daredevils’ may pack a punch in white flannels too.
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Strykers edge out Lions

Pune Strykers edge Karnataka Lions in WSHPune Strykers edged out Karnataka Lions 3-2 in their World Series Hockey match at Major Dhyanchand Stadium in Pimpri on Monday.
Pune opened their account early, when Damandeep Singh tried to shoot from the dreaded spot, but goalie Devesh Chauhan, in an attempt to avert the danger, stepped out of the goalpost and deflected the ball. Taking advantage of the situation, Roshan Minz, who was standing diagonally right to the goalpost, struck a hard one in to put his team ahead.
After a series of attacks, Karnataka finally got a penalty corner in the 23rd minute. The strike was taken by Karnataka’s penalty specialist, Len Aiyappa, but his hit was blocked by Pune’s Vikram Yadav’s shoulder. This called for a penalty stroke, which Aiyappa converted.
Pune went up again through Lungile Tsolekile’s strike in the 46th minute, but the lead was nullified in the next minute by Karnataka’s Naveen Kumar.
Pune earned a penalty corner late in the match, but it was wasted by receiver Yadav, creating chaos in the D area. In the commotion, Damandeep found some room and hit the ball straight between the bars to give his team themuch-needed lead. The goal settled the issue.
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Govt to ensure universal access to free generic medicines in time-bound manner: President

The UPA government has announced that it would ensure universal access to free generic essential medicines in public health institutions in a phased and time-bound manner.

Addressing the Parliament on the opening day of the Budget session on Monday, President Pratibha Patil said the government was aiming to hike the both plan and non-plan expenditure in the Centre and the States together to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by the end of the 12th Plan.

“People need to be healthy if they have to learn, earn and lead a productive and fulfilling life. Our National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has started making a difference as reflected in the health indicators. The Infant Mortality Rate has declined from 58 per thousand live births in 2005 to 47 in 2010 and Maternal Mortality Ratio has declined from 254 per one lakh deliveries in 2004-2006 to 212 in 2007-2009. The Janani Suraksha Yojana registered impressive gains with 1.13 crore women benefitting during 2010-11. Polio has been almost eradicated from the country. The World Health Organisation has decided to take India off the list of countries with active endemic wild poliovirus transmission,” she said.

“In spite of the increased investment in health sector over the last 7 years, public expenditure on healthcare continues to be low. To attain the goal of universal healthcare, my Government would endeavour to increase both plan and non-plan public expenditure in the Centre and the States taken together to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by the end of the 12th Plan. Universal access to free generic essential medicines in public health institutions in a phased and time bound manner will be ensured. The NRHM will be converted into a National Health Mission covering urban areas also, in the course of the 12th Plan,” the President said.

“My Government launched the National Programme for Prevention & Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases & Stroke and The National Programme for Health Care of the Elderly. We will strengthen district hospitals to provide advanced level secondary care. My Government is also working to end the shortage of human resources in health sector. Over the last three years there has been a 26 per cent increase in MBBS seats and 62 per cent increase in post graduate seats,” she said.

“Drawing upon our rich heritage, Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) are being integrated with allopathic health care services. The States are given financial support for providing AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres and District Hospitals,” the President added.
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Steroid drops may cause glaucoma

Nursing students and staff of LVPEI participte in a rally to create awareness on glaucoma in Vijayawada on Saturday. Photo. Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar
PUNE: Prolonged and unsupervised use of steroid eye drops can result in steroid-induced glaucoma.
In a review of 1,000 newly diagnosed glaucoma patients seen between January 2008 and February 2012, twenty three patients were detected with secondary glaucoma caused by long-term use of steroid medications.
Glaucoma is a sight-threatening condition often diagnosed late as it produces minimal or no symptoms in its early stages. The World Glaucoma Association has declared March 11-17, 2012 as awareness week.
"Steroid drops are commonly used for treating eye inflammation and eye allergy. Although these medications may be necessary in the treatment of the disease, their indiscriminate and long-term use can result in steroid-induced glaucoma," eye surgeon and glaucoma specialist Roopali Nerlikar who conducted the study, said.
Steroid-induced glaucoma is the change in intraocular pressure with steroid administration. This high intraocular pressure can occur within a week or can be delayed for months or years. It eventually results in damage to optic (eye) nerve.
"Intraocular pressure is the fluid pressure inside the eye. This fluid, or aqueous humor, nourishes the cornea, iris, and lens, and it helps the eye maintain its globular shape," Nerlikar said.
The typical eye produces about 4 cc of fluid a day, which is circulated and then drains out of the eye. If the drainage system becomes clogged or if too much fluid is produced, pressure inside the eye can build up.
"Increased intraocular pressure can also result from the use of topical steroid eye drops such as those used in the treatment of an inflammation within the eye," Nerlikar said.
Many forms of steroids like eye drops, periocular injections, intraocular injections, systemic steroid and inhaled steroids can be associated with increase intraocular pressure. "But mostly it will occur with steroid eye drops," Nerlikar said.
Eye surgeon and glaucoma expert Shraddha Satav said, "A few non-specific eye conditions are commonly treated with steroid medications. These non-specific conditions are redness, itching, stinging and burning sensation in the eye."
Whenever a patient with such a condition approaches a medical store, the chemist dispenses or suggests a steroid eye drop known to give quick relief. The patient continues to use it whenever he or she suffers from similar conditions later without consulting a doctor.
But if the patient suffering from these conditions consults a doctor, he or she will, after thorough examination prescribe steroids only when there is significant inflammation. Milder symptoms like slight redness, dryness and mild inflammation of the eye can be treated easily with non-steroid eye drops. Besides, in certain viral infections steroids may aggravate the condition and may result in loss of vision, Satav said.

On treatment of glaucoma, eye surgeon and glaucoma specialist Medha Prabhudesai said, "Glaucoma is a progressive condition. If left untreated it can progress rapidly and may lead to blindness. The blindness caused by glaucoma is irreversible."
Prabhudesai said, "Whenever a patient is detected with glaucoma, the course of treatment is life-long. It is like diabetes. If a diabetic leaves treatment mid-way, the condition worsens. The same is true about glaucoma. Patients fail to understand this and leave treatment midway resulting in loss of vision in some cases."
Patients who do have regular examinations, ophthalmologists can detect glaucomatous optic nerve damage before there is noticeable visual loss by examining the back of the eye. Sometimes, damage to the nerve can be observed even before specialised tests detect a change of vision.
Over 40? Get a screening done
PUNE: India has 12 million people affected by glaucoma and the number is increasing. There are numerous misconcepts about the condition, like it occurs only in patients with neglected mature cataracts, it cannot occur after cataract surgery and it affects only old people.
"However, in our review of 1,000 newly diagnosed patients, 166 patients were less than 45 years of age and 58 of them had moderate to advanced damage in at least one eye at the diagnosis," Nerlikar said.
Commonly occurring glaucoma are of two types -- open angle and closed angle. In open angle glaucoma, resistance to the flow of eye fluid is increased while in closed angle glaucoma there is physical obstruction to the flow of eye fluid.
On an average patients with closed angle glaucoma were nearly a decade younger than the open angle patients and had greater damage at diagnosis. In contrast, among the open angle glaucoma patients, 28 patients had very early disease and had been diagnosed during a routine check-up indicating an improved diagnostic sensitivity amongst ophthalmologists.
"Glaucoma can occur as early as the second or fourth decade of life wherein visual disability can affect their ability to earn a living and drive safely with a greater risk of accidents," Nerlikar said.
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If your last name is Chutia, your FB a/c might be blocked!

The All Assam Chutia Students’ Union (Aacsu) has accused Facebook of blocking the accounts of thousands of people with the name Chutia saying that the social network has confused it with Hindi slang, reports the Times of India. Chutia, pronounced Sutiya, is the name of a community in Assam. But chutia, or chutiya, is also a mildly derogatory term in Hindi: Urban Dictionary translates its most common slang usage as ‘fool’.
Said Jyotiprasad Chutia, Aacsu general secretary:
“Facebook has blocked the accounts of all the subscribers belonging to the Chutia community of Assam thinking the names are false and fabricated. For Chutia being an abusive word in the Hindi language, Facebook authorities thought that the account holders are fake and fabricated. But, they are still unknown to the fact that Chutia is an ethnic tribe of Assam which has a rich historical background in the state history.”
The student group accused Facebook of taking down the account of artist Krishnamoni Chutia, but at the time of writing his page was fully functional and there were at least 300 results for a search on the family name Chutia.
The students’ protest against Facebook, which included the burning of an “an effigy of the social networking site” in five Assam districts is part of a wider campaign. A sit-in in Guwahati is intended to draw the government’s attention to demands for “tribal status and reservation for the Chutia community in educational institutions and preservation of historic monuments of the Chutia dynasty.”
Facebook, along with Google+ and other social networks, insists that users register with their real name and they will take action against anyone using a fake name.
Salman or Ahmed?
Facebook made another major faux pas last November when it insisted that author Salman Rushdie use his official first name, Ahmed. Said Rushdie at the time:
“Facebook deactivated my account because they thought I wasn’t me. Now they insist I call myself by the first name I have never used. What a bunch of morons.” 
After taking down his account on suspicion that it was fake, Facebook had insisted that Rushdie send them a copy of his passport so that they could verify his identity. When they reinstated him, it was with the first name Ahmed which he never uses.
Rushdie had little luck trying to get in touch with Facebook to remedy the problem, so instead he took to Twitter to raise awareness of the problem, saying:
“Have been trying to get somebody at Facebook to respond. No luck. Am now hoping that ridicule by the Twitterverse will achieve what I can’t.”
When Facebook finally caved, Rushdie celebrated:
“Victory! #Facebook has buckled! I’m Salman Rushdie again. I feel SO much better. An identity crisis at my age is no fun. Thank you Twitter!”
An impossible task
It seems irrational that Facebook continues to insist on real names, but their goal may be to become an international verified identity service, a sort of internet passport provider. Insisting on real names would be essential to the success of such a venture.  But if this is what Facebook is aiming for it would be one of the biggest bait-and-switches in history as people who signed up for a social network find themselves belonging instead to a centralised registry of internet identities.
However, the accusation that Facebook has taken action against a group of people whose name also happens to be a slang word reveals the difficulty that the social network faces in policing its real names policy in cultures where it has little expertise. Spotting anything but the most egregious false name is difficult even in Facebook’s native language of English. That difficulty multiplies as soon as the network spreads into cultures and languages where the company has inadequate expertise.
Any actions taken by Facebook against people with the name Chutia almost certainly come from ignorance rather than malice. But it also illustrates how absurd it is to think that Facebook can live their dream of creating a network of real-named people when they have 845 mn users communicating in over 70 different languages.
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Mitsubishi readying small car

Mitsubishi mulls entering Indian small car marketMitsubishi Motors, Japanese vehicle maker, launched its new sports utility vehicle (SUV), Pajero Sport, on Monday with an aim to sell about 5,000 units in the first year and double that figure in a couple of years.
The company is also looking at a small-car launch in India.
The vehicle will be initially imported as a fully built unit from Mitsubishi’s Thailand unit and will be assembled from the completely knocked down form at Hindustan Motors’ Tiruvallur plant near Chennai from September. The company will tie up with equipment manufacturers prior to assembling the SUV.
Once the cost comes down, the prices are expected to come down from its ex-showroom price of Rs23.53 lakh, Delhi, the company said. Hindustan Motors, which markets Mitsubishi vehicles in India, is currently investing around Rs50 crore in its Chennai facility.On plans to enter the small-car market, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Japan executive officer and corporate general manager of Asia and Asean, Masahiko Ueki, said, “We would also like to join that segment at some point of time in future”. He plans to get the service network in place before introducing small cars.
The company may consider launching its new global hatchback in India. This car will be powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine and will be first launched in Thailand this year. It is considering setting up more facilities in Southeast Asia and India is also on the radar. The company is also looking at bringing in smaller sedans.
On whether the company will go solo or with Hindustan Motors on small cars, he said, “Going on our own is also an option...we have many options and we are exploring all of them at the moment.”
Ueki said, “Using HM’s Chennai plant for manufacturing the small car is also an option”.
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Yahoo! accuses Facebook of patent infringement

Yahoo! accuses Facebook of patent infringementSan Francisco: Yahoo! filed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing the social networking giant of patent infringement.

Yahoo!, in the suit filed in US District Court yesterday for the Northern District of California, accused Facebook of infringing on 10 of its patents.

"For much of the technology upon which Facebook is based Yahoo! got there first and was therefore granted patents by the United States Patent Office to protect those innovations," Yahoo! said in the suit, a copy of which was posted online by the website All Things Digital. 

"Yahoo!'s patents relate to cutting edge innovations in online products, including in messaging, news feed generation, social commenting, advertising display, preventing click fraud and privacy controls," the suit said.

"Facebook's entire social network model, which allows users to create profiles and connect with, among other things, persons and businesses, is based on Yahoo!'s patented social networking technology," it said. 

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Twitter buys Tumblr competitor Posterous

PosterousThe nanocontent company Twitter is buying the microblog site Posterous, according to posts on both services (Twitter | Posterous). Terms of the deal are not yet public.

Posterous is a blog platform with a focus on simplicity. Like competitor Tumblr, it's designed so users can quickly create short posts. Items can be posted from the Web, the Posterous mobile app, or from e-mail.

The announcement posts say that the Posterous service Spaces will stay up and running "without disruption," but that users who wish to move off the system will get instructions for doing that shortly. The posts also say that the team is hiring.

Founder and CEO Sachin Agarwal said on his personal Posterous Space that, "This is one of the greatest days of my entire life." He says, "There is no better fit for Posterous than Twitter," and that, "The people at Twitter... share our vision for making sharing simpler." (Translation: Agarwal won't need to apply for food stamps once the sale goes through.)
Here's the announcement from the Twitter site:
Today we are welcoming a very talented group from Posterous to Twitter. This team has built an innovative product that makes sharing across the web and mobile devices simple--a goal we share. Posterous engineers, product managers and others will join our teams working on several key initiatives that will make Twitter even better.

Posterous Spaces will remain up and running without disruption. We'll give users ample notice if we make any changes to the service. For users who would like to back up their content or move to another service, we'll share clear instructions for doing so in the coming weeks.

We're always looking for talented people who have the passion and personality to join Twitter. Acquisitions have given us people and technology that have enabled us to more quickly build a better Twitter for you.

Posterous reports 15 million unique users.

The company launched out of Y Combinator in 2008. It went through a major conceptual redesign in September of 2011, with the launch of the Spaces product. Spaces layered a social architecture onto the platform, aping in some ways the Twitter concept of "subscribing" to other users' feeds. In addition to letting users read any other public content, the Spaces product was designed to give users a sense of community and reciprocal sharing.

Posterous still wasn't making money back in September, but the company was doing well, according to Agarwal. He said paid services were forthcoming then, though they haven't yet appeared. It's a safe bet that any such plans will be put on hold or canceled as Twitter absorbs the company and assigns its employees to integration efforts and non-Posterous activities inside Twitter.
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Notice to 7 telecos using ‘excess’ spectrum for free

The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Centre and seven telecom firms including Airtel on a plea for cancellation of 2G spectrum allocated without additional fees. File photo
The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Centre and seven telecom firms on a plea by ‘Telecom Watchdog’, seeking cancellation of 2G spectrum beyond 2x4.5 MHz for metros and 2x4.4 MHz for other circles, allocated to the firms without charging additional fees.
The court asked the companies to file their replies within a month.
The petitioner’s counsel Prashant Bhushan also argued for cancellation of additional spectrum allocated to these firms.
The companies which have been issued the notices are Bharati Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Telecom, Idea Cellular, Loop Mobile (India), Spice Communications and Aircel Cellular.
The court had in January last, sought replies of the Centre and telecom firms on a plea challenging the allocation of 2G spectrum beyond the entry level of 4.4 MHz and 6.2 MHz without charging additional fees from them.
It had also issued a notice to the Ministry of Finance, the Department of Telecom, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and various telecom firms including Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Loop and Tata on a plea for reclaiming all the spectrum quantity allocated beyond the contracted quantum of 6.2 MHz from the telecom firms.
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A Hot Dog a Day Raises Risk of Dying, Harvard Study Finds

A hot dog, hamburger, french fries and two glasses of beer are pictured in New York, U.S. Photographer: Paul Goguen/BloombergA daily meal of hot dogs, bacon or hamburgers raises the risk of dying from heart disease or cancer by as much as 21 percent, according to the largest assessment of the health effects from consuming red meat.
The study released today by the Archives of Internal Medicine adds to evidence of health risks associated with eating large amounts of red meat, which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancers, said An Pan, the lead study author and a research fellow at the Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston.
Still, red meat can be part of a healthy diet, said Dean Ornish, who wrote an accompanying editorial.
“It’s not all or nothing,” said Ornish, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of the book on healthy eating, “The Spectrum,” in a March 9 telephone interview. “To the degree you make red meat more of a treat or more of a condiment and substitute other things for it, you’re going to look better, feel better, lose weight and gain health.”
More than 75 percent of the $2.6 trillion spent each year on health care in the U.S. is for chronic diseases, he wrote in his editorial. Eating less red meat may reduce the incidence of these diseases and lower health care costs, Ornish wrote.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Meat Institute Foundation and the National Pork Board said that red meat is a healthy part of a well-balanced diet.

‘Balanced Diet’

“The scientific evidence to support the role of lean beef in a healthy, balanced diet is strong and there is nothing in this study that changes that fact,” said Shalene McNeill, executive director of human nutrition research at the Centennial, Colorado-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, in an e-mailed statement. “Overall, lifestyle patterns including a healthy diet and physical activity, not consumption of any individual food, have been shown to affect mortality.”
Ceci Snyder, a spokeswoman for the Des Moines, Iowa-based National Pork Board and a dietitian, said when people overeat any food they usually have other bad behaviors.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one cause for disease,” she said in a telephone interview today. “People should eat more fruits and vegetables definitely. People should exercise more. When they villainize one food, it doesn’t help people too much.”
Researchers in the study included 37,698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and 83,644 women in the Nurses’ Health Study. Their diets were assessed by questionnaires given every four years.

Study Results

The researchers found that those who increased consumption of unprocessed red meat by one serving each day had an 18 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease and a 10 percent greater risk of dying from cancer, while those who ate one more daily serving of processed red meat had a 21 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease and a 16 percent increased risk of dying from cancer.
Substituting one serving of a protein like fish, nuts and poultry for the red meat lowered a person’s chance of dying from those diseases, the researchers said.
Almost 24,000 people died in the two studies, of those 5,910 were from heart disease and 9,464 from cancer.
The Harvard study’s results aren’t reliable because the data relied on self-reporting of diet and weren’t produced by a randomized trial, Betsy Booren, the Washington-based American Meat Institute Foundation’s director of scientific affairs, said today in an e-mail.
“All of these studies struggle to disentangle other lifestyle and dietary habits from meat and processed meat and admit that they can’t do it well enough to use their conclusions to accurately recommend people change their dietary habits,” she said. “What the total evidence has shown, and what common sense suggests, is that a balanced diet and a healthy body weight are the keys to good health.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicole Ostrow in New York at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at
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F. Sherwood Rowland, Cited Aerosols’ Danger, Is Dead at 8

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1995 file photo, American professor F. Sherwood Rowland, left, receives the Nobel prize for chemistry from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf, right, at the Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. Rowland.
SAN FRANCISCO — F. Sherwood Rowland, whose discovery in 1974 of the danger that aerosols posed to the ozone layer was initially met with disdain but who was ultimately vindicated with the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, died on Saturday at his home in Corona del Mar, Calif. He was 84.
The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, according to the University of California, Irvine, where he was the Donald Bren research professor of chemistry in earth system science.
Industry representatives at first disputed Dr. Rowland’s findings, and many skeptical colleagues in the field avoided him. But his findings, achieved in laboratory experiments, were supported 11 years later when British scientists discovered that the stratospheric ozone layer, which blocks harmful ultraviolet rays, had developed a hole over Antarctica.
The discovery led to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a landmark international environmental treaty to stop the production of the aerosol compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFC’s, and other ozone-depleting chemicals and to eliminate inventories of them.
Along with a colleague, Mario Molina, Dr. Rowland found that chlorinated fluorocarbons, the supposedly inert building blocks of aerosol sprays that were then common in deodorants, hair care products and grocery freezers had the potential to deplete the ozone layer to dangerous levels.
In a paper published in the journal Nature in 1974, the two scientists showed that when CFC’s rise into the stratosphere, they are bombarded by powerful doses of ultraviolet rays. A single chlorine atom knocked free, they found, can absorb more than 100,000 ozone molecules. More disturbing, the atoms could linger in the stratosphere for up to a century.
“The clarity and startling nature of what Molina and Rowland came up with — the notion that something you could hold in your hand could affect the entire global environment, not just the room in which you were standing — was extraordinary,” Ralph Cicerone, the president of the National Academy of Sciences and a longtime colleague of Dr. Rowland, said in an interview.
“It really did spark research,” he added. “They started a whole new field. You can now see around the world scientific journals by the score, research programs in universities, universities hiring people to work on these problems.”
Drs. Rowland and Molina shared the Nobel Prize with Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute in Germany for their work on ozone.
Dr. Rowland, a 6-foot-5 former college basketball player who bore some resemblance to the actor James Arness of “Gunsmoke” television fame, had a genial, even-tempered demeanor that helped him shrug off industry attacks, his colleagues said. One article, in the trade publication Aerosol Age, accused him and Dr. Molina of being K.G.B. agents out to destroy capitalism.
“Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s — I call it the cold war period for ozone depletion — there were a lot of potshots taken at Sherry,” said Dr. Donald Blake, a colleague of Dr. Rowland’s at Irvine, “and I don’t think his pulse went up by a beat.”
He added: “How could he remain so calm? Because he believed what he did was right.”
Even so, colleagues in chemistry departments gave Dr. Rowland a wide berth for about a decade, until the British findings on the ozone hole were published, both Dr. Blake and Dr. Cicerone said.
“He mentioned to me that he had not been invited to any chemistry department to give a lecture” from about 1975 to 1985, Dr. Blake recalled. Dr. Cicerone said, “You could probably name any top chemistry department in the country and say, ‘Did they invite Rowland to lecture in that period?’ And the answer would be no.”
Dr. Cicerone, whose own work established the possibility of a chlorine chain reaction, said “the situation 30, 35, even 40 years ago was so different.”
“The territory they stepped into and defined were so new that most scientists felt they didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “They didn’t feel prepared — or they felt the linkage with an ongoing human activity was too big a step.”
Dr. Rowland did not shy from embracing the consequences of his theory and pushing Congress to ban CFC’s. Dr. Molina said in an interview on Monday that he and Dr. Rowland “were not sure we were going to be successful” in pushing for a ban on CFC’s.
“But we started something that was a very important precedent: people can make decisions and solve global problems,” Dr. Molina added. 
 In the first weeks in the laboratory, the import of their work soon became clear to them. As Dr. Rowland wrote in an autobiographical essay for the Nobel committee, “Within three months, Mario and I realized that this was not just a scientific question, challenging and interesting to us, but a potentially grave environmental problem.”

One evening, as that realization was dawning, according to an article in The Los Angeles Times, Dr. Rowland’s wife, Joan, asked how his research was going. “It’s going very well,” he said. “It just means, I think, the end of the world.”
Dr. Rowland met Joan Lundberg while he was studying for his doctorate at the University of Chicago. She was a Chicago graduate. At the same time, he was playing basketball for the university (Chicago allowed graduate students to play on its teams) and semi-professional baseball during the summer. He received his doctorate and married Ms. Lundberg in 1952. She survives him, as do their two children, Jeffrey and Ingrid, and two grandchildren.
Dr. Rowland was born on June 28, 1927, in the small Ohio town of Delaware, the second of three sons of Sidney A. Rowland, a mathematics professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, and Margaret Drake Rowland, a Latin teacher. Dr. Rowland enrolled at the university after graduating from high school in 1943 at the age of 15.
After two years, he took time off from college to join the Navy and teach radar operators. After returning and graduating, he enrolled at Chicago, where he studied with Willard F. Libby, who later won the 1960 Nobel Prize for his work on carbon dating.
After completing his doctorate, Dr. Rowland taught at Princeton and the University of Kansas before moving to the new University of California campus at Irvine in 1965 to become the first chairman of its chemistry department.
As a researcher and faculty member, Dr. Rowland was sensitive to the human side of science — the egos and rivalries that can be bound up in research. When Dr. Rowland was asked around the time of the Nobel ceremony if he considered himself a hero, he said, Not really. As Dr. Cicerone paraphrased his reply: When you make a big discovery, you either show that everybody else was wrong, or that they missed something important. How do you think that makes them feel?
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New Debris-Tracking 'Space Fence' Passes Key Test

This computer illustration depicts the density of space junk around Earth in low-Earth orbit. A prototype "space fence" designed to track Earth's burgeoning orbital debris population passed a key test recently, locking onto objects in a demonstration run.
The radar system, which is being developed by aerospace firm Lockheed Martin for the United States Air Force, has successfully detected orbiting space junk, company officials announced March 8. The Air Force also approved Lockheed's preliminary design for the system on Feb. 29, they added.
The Air Force is looking to replace the aging Air Force Space Surveillance System (AFSSS), which it has used since 1961 to track satellites and pieces of space junk — called "resident space objects" in industry jargon.
"The successful detection and tracking of resident space objects are important steps in demonstrating technology maturity, cost certainty and low program risk," Steve Bruce, vice president of the Space Fence program for Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. "Our final system design incorporates a scalable, solid-state S-band radar, with a higher wavelength frequency capable of detecting much smaller objects than the Air Force’s current system."
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Budget 2012: Why budget estimates are almost always off the mark

Budget Expectations: Subsidies, fiscal deficit play spoilsport for govt On March 16, when the finance minister presents the budget, expect him to announce a much bigger deficit for the year than he promised last February. The hike in the deficit figure could be as much as Rs 1,26,034 crore, or 6% of GDP (up from 4.6% of GDP announced in the budget).

More spending and lower revenues than expected are to blame. The slowdown in 2011 led to lower than expected tax collections and earnings from disinvestment. Moreover, the government cut taxes on petroleum products to cushion consumers from the impact of petrol price hikes. this too has led to a fall in tax revenue. As of January, 70% of the government revenues budgeted for the year had actually flowed into its coffers compared with 92% the previous year. On the expenditure side, the total expenditure grew by 13.4% year-onyear in the April-January period compared with budgeted estimates of a 3.4% growth.

Past Outcomes Not Great...

A stark difference between what the government expects its finances to be at the beginning of the year, and what the actual pattern of finances are is an old problem. The result .a sharp uptick in government borrowing, and frantic attempts at cutting exactly the kind of expenditure that we need more of, such as infrastructure.

Fiscal deficit exceeding targets by more than 15% in 4 out of 10 years is not a good signh says M Govind Rao, member of economic advisory council to the PM and director, National Institute of Public Finance Policy (NIPFP). There has historically been an underestimation of fiscal deficit, except between 2003-08, when fiscal deficit turned out to be actually better (lower ) than budgeted. The main reason for the better than expected performance in this period was a significant rise in income tax collections, partly due to better tax administration and enforcement.
A particularly bad year was 2008-09, when the fiscal deficit hit 6% of GDP compared with the budgeted 2.5%. This was mainly due to the global financial crisis and the consequent fiscal stimulus packages that were not budgeted at the start of the year. Moreover, there was significant under-budgeting of expenditure proposals on account of pay revision of government employees, funds for food and fertilizer subsidies, loan waiver schemes for farmers, and additional allocations for programmes like NREGA.

In the beginning of the year, expenditures are budgeted by the finance minister on the basis of proposals put forward by individual ministries. This is what parliament votes on, and approves during the budget session. During the rest of the year, though, the government could go back to parliament and ask for more funds in case budgets turn out to be inadequate.

According to a 2010 NIPFP paper by PR Jena, a large part of these supplementary demands have become routine. "This practice has raised questions relating to the sanctity of the annual budget as a policy instrument and the absence of a concept of a hard budget constraint in observing fiscal discipline," the paper says. In laymanspeak: if ministries feel they can keep asking parliament to approve more money even after their main budget has been passed, there is little incentive for them to control their finances. The paper notes that aggregate expenditure (net of interest payments) was substantially higher than budget estimates between 2006-09, the difference being 27% in 2008-09.

Better Planning Needed

But there is significant 'collateral damage' to the repeated overshooting of budget targets. The government may not be able to cut fuel subsidies for instance because that involves hiking fuel prices, which is a politically-sensitive issue.

So to offset that, it cuts spending in other less sensitive areas. A prime candidate is capital expenditure.

Actual capital expenditure has been less than budgeted in the last five years and the difference is close to 10% in two of those years. Even between 2006-07 and 2007-08, when realised revenues were higher than expected, capital expenditure was lower than promised, even as total spending exceeded the budgeted values. This is hardly ideal. what the government is doing is cutting long-term investments in critical areas such as infrastructure, to offset ballooning current expenditure.

Another component that has often faced the axe is Plan expenditure, which covers schemes under the Five-Year Plans.
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Cotton export ban decision likely on Monday

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday directed the GoM to review Commerce Ministry's decision to ban cotton exports on March 9. File photoThe government may lift ban on export of cotton imposed by commerce ministry on March 5 with farmer protests against the decision starting in Vidarbha region of Congress ruled Maharashtra. State chief minister Prithviraj Chavan met Congress
president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday even as BJP workers and farmer groups disrupted traffic in Viradbha to protest against the ban and sought immediate lifting of it. 
Chavan, who had a scheduled meeting with Congress president, is said to have discussed political implications of the ban on export of cotton. He was apparently of the view that the state government was not consulted before imposing the ban.
The Maharashtra CM had also met agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who has already expressed his anguish over the ban saying that the decision will hurt economic interest of cotton farmers. He has got support of state chief ministers such as Narendra Modi of Gujarat, who had shot off a letter to Prime Minister, terming the ban as a ill-conceived idea. 
With political pressure increasing on the UPA government to lift the ban, the government sources said a Group of Ministers, whose meeting remained inconclusive on Friday, is expected to meet again on Monday to decide on lifting the ban.
PTI quoted Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar to say that the government may lift the ban. "The government is contemplating lifting the ban on cotton exports," the commerce secretary said on Friday.
The commerce ministry on March 5 had banned exports of cotton fearing shortfall in the domestic market and hoarding in warehouses because of rise in international prices. But, the farmer organizations claimed the ban would deprive the farmers from getting economic benefits of high international prices.
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RBI delivers, can lame duck govt?

Reserve Bank of India.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday surprised the markets by slashing the cash reserve ratio (CRR) — or the portion of deposits that banks have to compulsorily keep with the banking regulator as a safety measure — by 75 basis points to 4.75% from 5.5%. (A 100 basis points make a percentage point, or, in layman terms, 1%)
The RBI preferred t
o call it a liquidity measure, essentially to facilitate the more than Rs20,000 crore of advance tax that companies will have to pay by March 15, taking it out of their bank accounts.
The CRR cut releases Rs48,000 crore back to banks.
But since the cut too is effective after March15, underscoring the RBI’s confidence that the move won’t stoke inflation. That’s a big change from its stance of the past two years, when it resorted to more than a dozen policy rate hikes and CRR hikes to control inflation.
While the RBI has done all it can for now, can the Union government reciprocate by cutting expenditure in the Union Budget next Friday, and allow the central bank to cut interest rates too, especially since the debacle at the hustings in Uttar Pradesh and other states?
Experts say the UPA has little elbow room to deliver.
“The options are very limited due to the huge fiscal deficit. While this limits the possibility of populist measures, on the other hand, the government can’t come out with bold and drastic steps because of the strong opposition from other parties,” said N Sethuraman Iyer, CIO at Daiwa Asset Management India.
The best that the central government can do is produce a fiscal deficit number that is believable and is based on credible assumptions, said Abheek Barua, chief economist, HDFC Bank.
“But the only change would be a more toned down approach towards controversial elements in the budget speech such as foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail,” Barua said.
If the government keeps spending on populist schemes, which essentially is putting more money in the hands of people — it increases inflation in the economy, which, in turn, limits the RBI’s ability to bring down interest rates.
Fiscal consolidation, therefore, is an imperative in the Budget this time. Barua pointed out that a large part of the recent liquidity squeeze was due to the recent foreign exchange intervention by the RBI to control the rupee’s fall.
“This move will help counter that and provide further space for future intervention,” Barua said.
The rupee falls when demand for dollars increases. To arrest the fall, RBI sells dollars and buys rupees, which sucks out the local currency from the banking system, crimping inter-bank liquidity.
The central bank has thus cut CRR twice in the past three months by 125 bps, showing a more relaxed monetary policy as against its aggressive anti-inflationary stance earlier this financial year. This shows that RBI is somewhat comfortable with the way the inflationary trajectory has panned out so far, the street believes.
Apart from the Budget, what can happen next when the RBI meets to review monetary policy on March 15?
“I don’t expect the RBI to make any changes in policy rates,” said Sonal Varma, economist at Nomura Securities.
“Till banks cut lending rates, the benefit will not be felt on the ground,” said Venugopal Dhoot, chairman of Videocon Industries.
That’s unlikely to happen till the April review of the policy, is the refrain on the street.
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Kingfisher may have to weather pilot storm next

Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. Chairman Mallya
MUMBAI: Kingfisher Airlines may face a critical test in keeping its schedule going from Monday with its pilots refusing to operate flights if their pending salaries and dues are not cleared in the next 48 hours. If a majority of pilots stick to the decision for long, the airline will find it hard to follow even its skeletal flight schedule. "About 80% of pilots will not be reporting for work from Monday," a pilot said, referring to a letter sent by them to Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya and other top officials on March 6. Kingfisher has about 500 pilots on its rolls and since they do not have a union, the decision will be left to each individual.

On Monday, there may not be a perceptible impact on flight schedules as management pilots are expected to continue their support to the airline. Besides, as the airline has continued to shrink its network, the pilot requirement is at an all-time low. For instance, from Monday, the airline will discontinue its daily Mumbai-Hong Kong flights. 

 "The airline operated this flight with an A330 aircraft. It apparently plans to restart the flights from April 4, although it does not seem likely,'' a source said. Moreover, Kingfisher's current flight schedule will continue only for two weeks as the carrier, as also other airlines, will have to switch to their summer schedule by the end of this month.

Despite these factors, if the pilots stick to their stand, the airline will be hard-pressed to find cockpit crew as flying duties come with prescribed time limits and management pilots cannot be rostered each time to cover up for the absentee crew. An email query sent to Kingfisher spokesperson remained unanswered.

What remains to be seen is how many pilots stick to their stand and for how long. The letter sent to Mallya had a stern tone, though. "A meeting was held on March 1 with the CEO, Sanjay Aggarwal, where a number of pilots had expressed their concern and were hoping to get some kind of confirmation on the salaries due to them,'' the letter said. "The conclusion of the meeting proved to be non-committal and there seemed to be no concrete answers. Consequently, a pilots' meeting was held on March 3 where it was decided that the pilots could not continue in this manner with no assurances, and have in majority decided that should no salaries be paid before March 12, the pilots would not be in a position to continue flying. We also request that at some point before March 12, you would be able to address the pilots in a meeting at a time suitable to you.''

In the last three months, the airline has been flying from one problem to another. Two days ago, International Air Transport Association barred Kingfisher from the billing and cargo settlement systems.

KFA pilots seek meet with Mallya

If Kingfisher Airlines pilots stick to their stand on not flying if their salary and dues are not cleared within 48 hours, the airline will be hard-pressed to find cockpit crew as flying duties come with prescribed time limits. Management pilots cannot be rostered each time to cover up for the absentee crew. An email query sent to Kingfisher spokesperson remained unanswered.

What remains to be seen is how many pilots stick to their stand and for how long. The letter sent to Mallya had a stern tone, though. "A meeting was held on March 1 with the CEO, Sanjay Aggarwal, where a number of pilots had expressed their concern and were hoping to get some kind of confirmation on the salaries due to them,'' the letter said. "The conclusion of the meeting proved to be non-committal and there seemed to be no concrete answers. Consequently, a pilots' meeting was held on March 3 where it was decided that the pilots could not continue in this manner with no assurances, and have in majority decided that should no salaries be paid before March 12, the pilots would not be in a position to continue flying. We also request that at some point before March 12, you would be able to address the pilots in a meeting at a time suitable to you.''

In the last three months, the airline has been flying from one problem to another. Two days ago, International Air Transport Association barred Kingfisher from the billing and cargo settlement systems.
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‘Netaji' yields place to Akhilesh

Click the link along the article to download the PDF version of this graphicAt 38, he will be youngest Chief Minister of the most politically sensitive State
Mulayam Singh, whose Samajwadi Party won a thumping victory in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, has handed over the reins to his son Akhilesh Yadav, who was unanimously elected leader of the party's legislature wing on Saturday.
U.P.'s new yuvraj (PDF)
At 38, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav will become the youngest Chief Minister of the country's most politically sensitive State, thumping the record for the youngest Chief Minister held by the outgoing Chief Minister, Mayawati, who first assumed office when she was 39 in 1995. He will take the oath of office and secrecy at a function to be held between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on March 15. The venue will be decided later.
After his election as leader of the Samajwadi Legislature Party, Mr. Yadav drove down to Raj Bhavan, met Governor B.L. Joshi and staked claim to form the government, handing him a list of 224 newly elected MLAs. He was accompanied by senior leaders Mohammad Azam Khan, Shivpal Singh Yadav and Ambika Chaudhary.
Many in the party feel that Mr. Akhilesh Yadav has won his spurs and is ready to step into his father's shoes, having revived the party's fortunes through the ‘kranti rath yatra,' which he launched on September 12 last year, and helped it score a landslide.
The Legislature Party meeting started at the party's headquarters around 11.30 a.m. and lasted an hour. The one-line proposal was moved by Mr. Khan and seconded by Mr. Akhilesh Yadav's uncle and Mr. Mulayam Singh's younger brother, Shivpal Singh Yadav. It was unanimously adopted. Mr. Mulayam Singh was present at the meeting, which was moderated by his cousin and national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav and attended by all newly elected MLAs and MPs.
Talking to journalists after his election, Mr. Akhilesh Yadav said his government would not pursue politics of vendetta: the memorials built by the previous BSP government would not be disturbed. But, since these complexes possessed large space, a decision on building hospitals and institutions there would be taken later. He said the party's poll promises would be implemented in letter and in spirit. Maintenance of law and order would be the priority; strict action would be taken against officials who failed to crack down on anti-social elements.
Mr. Akhilesh Yadav said that though Mr. Mulayam Singh would focus his attention on national politics, he would play an important role in the State politics. Thanking the people for giving the party an absolute majority by rising above caste and religion, he said there would be no discrimination against anyone.
The name of Mr. Akhilesh Yadav for Chief Minister was doing the rounds ever since the party stormed back to power. While a large section of young MLAs and workers wanted him to become the Chief Minister, he maintained that “Netaji” (as Mr. Mulayam Singh is known) was the party's choice. Mr. Ram Gopal Yadav and senior leader Naresh Agarwal also backed him. In fact, Mr. Mulayam Singh himself had decided to give the charge to his son, but kept the cards close to his chest.
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Mamata summons ‘anti-pay cut’ Bratya

Bratya Basu after meeting Mamata Banerjee on Saturday
School and Higher Secondary Minister Bratya Basu — who is learnt to be opposed to the government’s decision to cut a day’s salary of school teachers who were absent on February 28, the day of the strike — was on Saturday summoned by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to Writers’ Buildings.
Yesterday, the state government had issued a a circular declaring that teachers of government schools and colleges, including those working in government-aided institutions, who didn’t make it to their workplace on February 28 have to suffer a pay cut if they did not furnish a “proper reason” for their absence. The school education department on Friday forwarded the copy of the show-cause notice to government and government-aided schools. The higher education department followed suit.
Bratya, who is learnt to be against this circular, had an hour-long meeting with Mamata today in the presence of Mukul Roy, general secretary of AITC.
After the meeting, a police officer sent by the Chief Minister’s Office told the mediapersons waiting outside the CM’s room that Basu will not brief the media.
Significantly, this is the first instance in which a police personnel was sent by the CMO to tell reporters not to pose any questions to Basu.
This has sparked speculation that Mamata snubbed Basu for making such comments in public. Earlier on March 4, Basu had said he would not like to do “detective work” to find out who did not report to duty on February 28. He had added that “just as one has the right to work (when a strike is called) one also has the right not to come at work”.
According to sources, Mamata told Basu that his remarks were unwanted, and it was particularly so when the departments under him have circulated Chief Secretary’s directive before the strike to various educational institutions and are also preparing a list of the employees who did not report to duty on the day of strike.
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Writing on the wall

A MASTER DEPARTS: Rahul Dravid, an iconic sportsman and India’s second highest run-getter in Tests, announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket at a press conference in Bangalore on Friday. Photo: G.R.N. Somashekar
If Rahul Dravid did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent him. A mythical figure who loved the game so much he was willing to bat, keep wickets, make unpopular declarations , and probably arrange the sandwiches during the tea break, cut the grass, operate the gates at the stadium, anything. "I can't believe I am being paid to do what I love," he once said in wonder.

Clearly, Dravid was - the past tense seems so unnatural - 'Mr Cricket' . He restored the meanings and metaphors associated with 'cricket' as only one who embodied it can. Meanings that had been eroded, thanks to the modern player's restricted sense of what the word stood for.

Dravid was aware of the dual nature of his calling, aware that cricket was both more than a sport and a trivial pursuit. Players who don't understand this, who believe that cricket is not merely a metaphor for life but life itself, find when they retire that they had been fooling themselves. It can be devastating.

Yet, when he made his debut in 1996, Dravid believed, because he wanted to believe, and all his reading then had led him to believe , that cricket was more important than life even. It accounted for his intensity, his inward focus, his inability to let go when he didn't meet his own high standards. He never lost the intensity , but was able to channelize it away from avenues of self-destruction . Later, he laughed at the absurdity of it all for he realized he could be serious without being boring, correct without being dogmatic , and acknowledged that a cricket team works by the dint of differentiation.

What changed Dravid was oneday cricket, the format where he was initially seen as a misfit but in which, after top scoring at the 1999 World Cup, he became a world class batsman. It unclogged his mind. He discovered aspects of himself that may have remained hidden but for the dictates of the one-day game. He gradually freed himself of the shackles of excessive orthodoxy and began to play a more creative game.

Sachin Tendulkar is probably the more orthodox batsman of the two, and also the one who quite quickly built an unconventional structure on such a foundation. Dravid was the more elegant, and the more subtle, and in a five-year period from 2001 was also the more daring. That was a period when he shifted clubs, from being a member of the 'very good' to taking his appointed place among the 'great' . He saved Test matches in Port of Spain, Georgetown and Nottingham, and played key roles in victories in Headingley, Kandy, Adelaide and Rawalpindi. He had four double centuries in 15 Tests, and made an incredible 23% of India's total in 21 of Sourav Ganguly's 'victory Tests' , at an average of nearly 103.

But it wasn't the figures alone. Dravid believed that the best sportsmen were incomplete if they did not conduct their lives with dignity, integrity, courage and modesty, all of which were compatible with pride, ambition, determination and competitiveness . He lived his ideals. The worst thing he did on a cricket field was chew on a lozenge. You can't be in a team with a man like that without some of that philosophy rubbing off on you.

It was the quiet, dignified confidence of Dravid that has allowed the next generation to display the aggressive entitlement associated with the likes of Virat Kohli.

It is frightening to contemplate the turn Indian cricket might have taken without the presence of Dravid, Tendulkar, Kumble and Ganguly after skipper Mohammad Azharuddin made that most depressing statement in the annals of Indian sport: "Maine match banaya." The match-fixing scandal could have destroyed cricket. Already, by then, if India caught a cold, the world sneezed. Virender Sehwag, with whom Dravid once shared an opening partnership of 410 runs, spoke of how Dravid was the psychologist "to whom we took all our problems ." It was a role that came naturally to the better-read , more widely-aware Dravid, cricket's equivalent to the chess genius Vishwanathan Anand. There is something about batsmen at No.3 which makes them outstanding fielders. Ricky Ponting , Jacques Kallis, Viv Richards, Don Bradman were among the best. Dravid was their equal, and by some way, the finest slip catcher India has ever had. One suspects it is not the batting failures so much as the catches that he dropped in Australia that hastened the end. "I can get over a dismissal quickly, but I linger over a dropped catch for much longer," he confessed recently.

Dravid had nothing left to prove. Critic Cyril Connolly has spoken about two of the enemies of promise that reduce motivation . One is success, and the other is a happy family life. "Children dissipate the longing for immortality ," he wrote. Thankfully, Dravid has both and they have sustained him throughout his career.

Where does Dravid go from here? More significantly, where does Indian cricket? It is not difficult to imagine Dravid responding to an SOS some years from now, and making a century in a Test. His friend Javagal Srinath certainly thinks he is capable of the feat even at 45. Pragmatism and nostalgia would combine nicely then.

Meanwhile, India's greatest crisis man has just gone against the grain, causing a crisis rather than fixing it. But that's the nature of sport, and Dravid deserves to hang up his cap, set his X-ray vision aside and repair his teeth after so many years of catching bullets in them. He will be missed at number three, at first slip, and in the dressing room.
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Fishermen’s killing: EU steps in to resolve issue

The standoff with Italy over the killing of two fishermen off the Kerala coast seems to be snowballing with the European Union now wading into the troubled waters.

“On Italy’s request, we are undertaking contacts aimed at contributing to finding a satisfactory solutionas soon as possible,” said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, in Brussels.
However, India — which has arrested two Italian marines for the February 15 firing deaths — is adamant the law will take its course. “India has made its stand clear. There is no compromise,” minister for overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi said.
Italy has hardened its posture, saying its nationals can be tried under its own laws and that the Indian position risks creating a dangerous precedent regarding the fight against piracy. India insists the waters where the crime took place are not pirate-infested — the marines have said they mistook the fishermen for pirates — and even if it had been a pirate attack, the crew of the Italian ship didn’t follow protocol required in such a case.
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Massive preparations on for swearing-in ceremony


A combo file photo of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
CHANDIGARH: Five helipads, 1,500-odd VVIPs and VIPs and food packets for 20,000 public gathering -- These are part of the massive preparations for the oath-taking ceremony of SAD-BJP alliance ministry for the second consecutive term, at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur war memorial at Chappar Chiri village in Mohali, about 20 km from here.
Bikram Majithia, president of Youth Akali Dal and brother-in-law of SAD president Sukhbir Badal, has taken on the responsibility of turning the event into a successful gala show where at least seven-eight CMs of non-Congress ruled states, at least one Union minister and the NDA leadership are likely to put in their presence.
Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal is reported to have personally called up 12 CMs and invited them for the ceremony. A former minister of Pakistan's Punjab, Mian Manzoor Ahmed, and a former MP of Pakistan, Rai Aziz Ullah Khan, have also been invited for the ceremony, sources said.
Bikram, along with Dera Bassi MLA and prominent land developer N K Sharma, is learnt to be camping at the site, directing DC Varun Roojam and SSP Gurpreet Bhullar for ensuring a no-hassle show.
Chief secretary S C Aggarwal on Saturday held a meeting to finalise the details of the function, which would start with national anthem, followed by the oath-taking ceremony and would conclude with the police band playing national anthem.
The entire senior NDA leadership, including L K Advani, leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj and RS member Arun Jaitley, would be arriving in Punjab on March 14. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is learned to have accepted the invite of Badal, who had personally called her up.
Jharkhand CM Arjun Munda, J&K CM and Sukhbir's school mate in Sanawar, Omar Abdullah, and his father and cabinet minister Farooq Abdullah, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Chauhan and Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa have been sent invites for the ceremony.
List of VVIP invitees who are likely to come -
CM Gujarat - Narendra Modi
CM J & K - Omar Abdullah
CM Himachal Pradesh - Prem Kumar Dhumal
CM Bihar - Nitish Kumar
CM Jharkhand - Arjun Munda
CM West Bengal - Mamata Banerjee
CM Madhya Pradesh - Shivraj Chauhan
CM Tamil Nadu - J Jayalalithaa (her emissary likely to come)
CM Goa - Manohar Parrikar
CM Karnataka - Sadanand Gowda
CM Andhra Pradesh - Kiran Kumar Reddy
CM Kerala - Oommen Chandy
Union minister - Farooq Abdullah
MP and former Dy PM - L K ADvani
Leader of opposition - Sushma Swaraj
Former CM Rajasthan - Vasundhra Raje
Former CM Haryana - O P Chautala
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Consensus eludes Congress in Uttarakhand

Union Minister for Health Ghulan Nabi Azad. File photo
Consensus could not be reached on who should head the Congress Legislature Party in Uttarakhand and central observer Ghulam Nabi Azad and party in-charge of the State, Ch. Birendra Singh returned to New Delhi for consultations with the high command on Saturday.
The Congress has 32 MLAs of its own and enjoys the support of three independents — all Congress rebels who won — and the lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal ( Pawar) MLA — taking the total to the magic figure of 36 in a House of 70 having 31 Bharatiya Janata Party and three Bahujan Samaj Party members.
Mr. Azad will give his report to party president Sonia Gandhi who after consultations with the core group will announce the name of the CLP leader and subsequently the Chief Minister of the State.
The observer listened to the views of all 32 MLAs individually at the Bijapur Guest House here. The three independent MLAs supporting the Congress could not come as they were busy, it was said.
The MLAs are said to have backed different candidates — Union Minister Harish Rawat, MP Vijay Bahuguna, State Congress president Yashpal Arya, Leader of the Opposition Harak Singh Rawat, former senior Minister Indira Hirdeyesh and MP Satpal Maharaj — leaving Mr. Azad bewildered as none of them commanded general acceptance.
The maximum number of MLAs, 17, seem to be supporting Mr. Harish Rawat followed by 15 supporting Mr. Arya.
“These differences of opinion will end the moment Sonia Gandhi announces the name of the leader,” a senior Congressman said.
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‘International pressure led to Kazmi's arrest'

(From left) Turab Ali Kazmi, son of senior journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi, journalists Seema Mustafa, Sukumar Muralidharan, Saeed Naqvi and social activist Shabnam Hashmi express their anguish over the arrest of Mr. Kazmi, at a press conference organised by ANHAD in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty
Civil society representatives came together under the aegis of ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony And Democracy) here on Saturday to condemn the arrest of freelance journalist Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi by the Delhi Police for alleged involvement in the Israeli diplomat assassination attempt this past month.
Alleging that the arrest was made under
pressure from Israel and the United States to name and implicate Iran in the case, Manisha Sethi, president of the Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association, said strange stories were being planted in the media and demanded Mr. Kazmi's immediate release on bail.
Ms. Sethi expressed shock over the reports that Israeli intelligence officials were coming to India to interrogate Mr. Kazmi.
Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD alleged that Mr. Kazmi was also being targeted because he was a Muslim.
A statement issued on the occasion said: “Has Mr. Kazmi been picked up on tips provided by Israeli agencies? How credible can these inputs be, given Israel's clear intent to condemn and implicate Iran as the source of the attack?”
Senior journalist Seema Mustafa accused the government agencies of changing their position on the role of Iran in the Israeli Embassy car blast case. She said both in the on-record and off-record briefings they initially said Iran had no role. “Then what made them change their position?” she asked.
Ms. Mustafa said an atmosphere had been created wherein independent political views, thinking and writing were being stifled by the state. “This [the arrest of Mr. Kazmi] shows that if you hold views different from that of the government, you can be arrested,” she said, criticising a section of the media for publishing stories “planted” by the police through unnamed sources.
Eminent lawyer N.D. Pancholi said in most of the cases handled by the Special Cell evidence was fabricated. “The Special Cell in the court argued that it is a case of international terrorism. If so, why was the case not probed by agencies like the National Investigation Agency or the Central Bureau of Investigation?” he asked.
Reading out excerpts from a statement issued by the International Federation of Journalists, senior journalist Sukumar Muralidharan said: “With all respect for the legal process in India, the IFJ is concerned that Kazmi may have been identified for arrest based on his political views, rather than solid evidence. All reports available so far indicate that Kazmi is a sound professional who did not deviate from his commitment to a journalistic code of ethics, while not hesitating to express his well-considered views when required. We call on the authorities in Delhi to uphold the presumption of innocence, and provide a full explanation of the grounds on which Kazmi has been arrested and ensure that he is given all opportunities to clear his name.”
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