Yuva Sai Sagar

Online news channel!

Tag: group

Nuke club NSG draft rule may allow India in, leave Pakistan out: Report

Washington: A draft proposal for accepting new members into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) paves the way for India’s entry but leaves Pakistan out, says a US-based arms control organisation. The Arms Control Association (ACA), Washington, also warns that relaxing membership rules will undermine non-proliferation.

Last week, the US media reported that Rafael Mariano Grossi, a former chairman of the NSG, had prepared a two-page document, explaining how a non-Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) state, like India and Pakistan, could join the group. Grossi was acting on behalf of the current chairman, Song Young-wan of South Korea, and his document enjoys a semi-official status, Dawn reported.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

To prevent India from blocking Pakistan from joining the NPT, Grossi’s draft note proposes that “one non-NPT member state should reach an understanding not to block consensus on membership for another non-NPT member state”.

But ACA’s Executive Director Daryl Kimball warns that “Pakistan still has grounds to object to the formula outlined by Grossi”.

He explains that the document will require Pakistan to meet the same criteria for membership as India “but, to engage in civil nuclear trade with NSG states, it would have to win a separate NSG exemption from the full-scope safeguards requirement”.

India is seeking membership of the NSG on the strength of the fact that it is already doing business with NSG members.

The 48-nation NSG is a nuclear technology control organisation formed in 1975 in response to India’s first nuclear weapons test, which used plutonium produced with nuclear technology from Canada and the US. The NSG seeks to prevent similar future misuses.

Current NSG membership rules require a state to sign the nuclear NPT before joining this exclusive club. India remains one of only three countries, with Israel and Pakistan, never to have signed the NPT. Earlier this year, India formally applied for membership and was followed by Pakistan. The US, and a host of other powerful western nations, back India’s application, but China and half a dozen other nations are blocking India’s membership, which requires a consensus of all members.

India hoped to join the group during NSG’s last plenary session, held in Seoul in June this year, but the meeting ended without taking any decision on New Delhi’s application.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 11:18 IST

New NSG draft bill may ease India’s entry into elite group

Washington: A draft proposal for accepting new members into the Nuclear Suppliers Group paves the way for India’s entry but leaves Pakistan out, says a US-based arms control organisation.

The Arms Control Association (ACA), Washington, also warns that relaxing membership rules will undermine non-proliferation.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Last week, the US media reported that Rafael Mariano Grossi, a former chairman of the NSG, had prepared a two-page document, explaining how a non-NPT state, like India and Pakistan, could join the group. Grossi was acting on behalf of the current chairman, Song Young-wan of South Korea, and his document enjoys a semi-official status, Dawn reported.

To prevent India from blocking Pakistan from joining the NPT, Grossi’s draft note proposes that “one non-NPT member state should reach an understanding not to block consensus on membership for another non-NPT member state”.

But ACA’s Executive Director Daryl Kimball warns that “Pakistan still has grounds to object to the formula outlined by Grossi”.

He explains that the document will require Pakistan to meet the same criteria for membership as India “but, to engage in civil nuclear trade with NSG states, it would have to win a separate NSG exemption from the full-scope safeguards requirement”.

India is seeking membership of the NSG on the strength of the fact that it is already doing business with NSG members.

The 48-nation NSG is a nuclear technology control organisation formed in 1975 in response to India’s first nuclear weapons test, which used plutonium produced with nuclear technology from Canada and the US. The NSG seeks to prevent similar future misuses.

Current NSG membership rules require a state to sign the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) before joining this exclusive club. India remains one of only three countries, with Israel and Pakistan, never to have signed the NPT.

Earlier this year, India formally applied for membership and was followed by Pakistan. The US, and a host of other powerful western nations, back India’s application, but China and half a dozen other nations are blocking India’s membership, which requires a consensus of all members.

India hoped to join the group during NSG’s last plenary session, held in Seoul in June this year, but the meeting ended without taking any decision on New Delhi’s application.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 19:08 IST

Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandopadhyay, Tapas Paul summoned by CBI in chit fund case

New Delhi: CBI has issued summons to two MPs of Trinamool Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul, in connection with the alleged Rose Valley scam, one of the cases being probed by the investigating agency as part of the umbrella chit fund scams.

Both Bandyopadhyay and Paul have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on 30 December. CBI sources said Bandyopadhyay was called earlier also but he had cited ongoing Parliamentary session to seek exemption from personal appearance.

Now the agency has again asked the Member of Parliament to appear before its investigation team to be questioned in the connection with the chit fund scam related to Rose Valley group, the sources said.

When contacted in Kolkata, Bandyopadhyay told PTI, “I will appear in the first week of January.” “I will go because I want to know what are the exact charges that they have levelled against me. I feel that it is better to sit face-to-face rather than talking over phone,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Recently, there was speculation that Bandyopadhyay may be questioned by CBI after which Trinamool Congress had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using central agency to scare the party because of its opposition to demonetisation.

“By pursuing political vendetta you can’t stop Mamata Banerjee and TMC from protesting against demonetisation. You are using CBI and other central agencies to scare us. But you won’t succeed,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said.

“You feel you and your party are saints and all of us thieves. But the fact is you are the biggest thief,” he had said.

The CBI had filed its charge sheet in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam naming Kundu and three others in a special court in Bhubaneswar on 7 January. The firm was charged with defrauding depositors of Rs 17,000 crore from across the country of which Rs 450 crore was received by the ponzi firm from Odisha alone.

In its charge sheet, CBI had claimed that it was still probing the role of “influential people” in the scam. Besides role of regulatory authorities, money trail and larger conspiracy hatched by the accused persons to cheat the public are still under probe of the agency, they said.

The sources said that CBI, in its charge sheet, has named Kundu, the then Managing Directors Ashok Kumar Saha and Ram Lal Goswami, besides Rose Valley Real Estate and Constructions, Rose Valley Real Estate and Land Bank, and Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainment.

CBI has alleged that these persons and companies were allegedly responsible for running “illegal” ponzi scheme in violations of the norms of RBI, SEBI and Registrar of Companies.

The agency alleged that they kept running the schemes “knowing fully well” that these were “commercially unviable” and continued cheating people by keeping them associated with the group.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:12 IST

Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Tapas Paul summoned by CBI in chit fund case

New Delhi: CBI has issued summons to two MPs of Trinamool Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul, in connection with the alleged Rose Valley scam, one of the cases being probed by the investigating agency as part of the umbrella chit fund scams.

Both Bandyopadhyay and Paul have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on 30 December. CBI sources said Bandyopadhyay was called earlier also but he had cited ongoing Parliamentary session to seek exemption from personal appearance.

Now the agency has again asked the Member of Parliament to appear before its investigation team to be questioned in the connection with the chit fund scam related to Rose Valley group, the sources said.

When contacted in Kolkata, Bandyopadhyay told PTI, “I will appear in the first week of January.” “I will go because I want to know what are the exact charges that they have levelled against me. I feel that it is better to sit face-to-face rather than talking over phone,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Recently, there was speculation that Bandyopadhyay may be questioned by CBI after which Trinamool Congress had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using central agency to scare the party because of its opposition to demonetisation.

“By pursuing political vendetta you can’t stop Mamata Banerjee and TMC from protesting against demonetisation. You are using CBI and other central agencies to scare us. But you won’t succeed,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said.

“You feel you and your party are saints and all of us thieves. But the fact is you are the biggest thief,” he had said.

The CBI had filed its charge sheet in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam naming Kundu and three others in a special court in Bhubaneswar on 7 January. The firm was charged with defrauding depositors of Rs 17,000 crore from across the country of which Rs 450 crore was received by the ponzi firm from Odisha alone.

In its charge sheet, CBI had claimed that it was still probing the role of “influential people” in the scam. Besides role of regulatory authorities, money trail and larger conspiracy hatched by the accused persons to cheat the public are still under probe of the agency, they said.

The sources said that CBI, in its charge sheet, has named Kundu, the then Managing Directors Ashok Kumar Saha and Ram Lal Goswami, besides Rose Valley Real Estate and Constructions, Rose Valley Real Estate and Land Bank, and Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainment.

CBI has alleged that these persons and companies were allegedly responsible for running “illegal” ponzi scheme in violations of the norms of RBI, SEBI and Registrar of Companies.

The agency alleged that they kept running the schemes “knowing fully well” that these were “commercially unviable” and continued cheating people by keeping them associated with the group.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:12 IST

Chit fund row: CBI summons 2 Trinamool MPs in connection with Rose Valley scam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI has issued summons to two MPs of Trinamool Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul, in connection with the alleged Rose Valley scam, one of the cases being probed by the investigating agency as part of the umbrella chit fund scams.Both Bandyopadhyay and Paul have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on December 30. CBI sources said Bandyopadhyay was called earlier also but he had cited ongoing Parliamentary session to seek exemption from personal appearance. Now the agency has again asked the Member of Parliament to appear before its investigation team to be questioned in the connection with the chit fund scam related to Rose Valley group, the sources said.When contacted in Kolkata, Bandyopadhyay told PTI, “I will appear in the first week of January.” “I will go because I want to know what are the exact charges that they have levelled against me. I feel that it is better to sit face-to-face rather than talking over phone,” he said. Recently, there was speculation that Bandyopadhyay may be questioned by CBI after which Trinamool Congress had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using central agency to scare the party because of its opposition to demonetization. “By pursuing political vendetta you can’t stop Mamata Banerjee and TMC from protesting against demonetization. You are using CBI and other central agencies to scare us. But you won’t succeed,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said.”You feel you and your party are saints and all of us thieves. But the fact is you are the biggest thief,” he had said. The CBI had filed its charge sheet in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam naming Kundu and three others in a special court in Bhubaneswar on January 7. The firm was charged with defrauding depositors of Rs 17,000 crore from across the country of which Rs 450 crore was received by the ponzi firm from Odisha alone.In its charge sheet, CBI had claimed that it was still probing the role of “influential people” in the scam. Besides role of regulatory authorities, money trail and larger conspiracy hatched by the accused persons to cheat the public are still under probe of the agency, they said.The sources said that CBI, in its charge sheet, has named Kundu, the then Managing Directors Ashok Kumar Saha and Ram Lal Goswami, besides Rose Valley Real Estate and Constructions, Rose Valley Real Estate and Land Bank, and Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainment. CBI has alleged that these persons and companies were allegedly responsible for running “illegal” ponzi scheme in violations of the norms of RBI, SEBI and Registrar of Companies. The agency alleged that they kept running the schemes “knowing fully well” that these were “commercially unviable” and continued cheating people by keeping them associated with the group.

Myanmar says Muslim with links to government murdered in troubled Rakhine | Reuters

By Shwe Yee Saw Myint
| YANGON

YANGON A man has been found dead with stab wounds in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, in what the government said on Monday was the second murder in under a week of a Rohingya who cooperated with authorities as they crack down on suspected insurgents.Coordinated attacks on October 9 killed nine police officers and sparked a military operation in northern Rakhine. The government of predominantly Buddhist Myanmar blamed Muslim Rohingyas supported by foreign militants. State media has reported at least 86 deaths and the United Nations says 34,000 people have fled to Bangladesh.The violence poses a challenge to Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and has renewed international criticism that the Nobel laureate has done too little to help the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar.Residents and rights groups say soldiers have raped Rohingya women, burnt homes and killed civilians during the operation near the frontier with Bangladesh.The government denies the accusations, and has launched a social media campaign in an effort to demonstrate that security forces are acting properly in Rakhine.

An administrator in Yae Twin Kyun village, named as Rawphi, was found dead with knife wounds on Sunday, Lieutenant Colonel Aung San Win of the local border guard police told Reuters.He said the killing of the 28-year-old Muslim might be “related to terrorism”. Myanmar’s state counsellor’s office said on Monday evening on its Facebook page that the victim had been “cooperating with members of security forces in administration duties.”

The case is the second murder in Rakhine where authorities have highlighted the victim’s cooperation with the government, appearing to point the finger at Rohingya insurgents.On Friday, the state counsellor’s office said a Muslim man was decapitated after he had denied stories of Myanmar military abuse when speaking to reporters.”He told media that there was no case of arson by the military and police forces, no rape and no unjust arrests,” said a Facebook post accompanied by a picture of a headless body with English text that read: “truth teller beheaded”.

Neither the police nor the state counsellor’s office have said who was responsible for the decapitation.A Rohingya community leader, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, told Reuters many Muslims were sceptical about the government’s account of the beheading.A report by the International Crisis Group said insurgents calling themselves Harakah al-Yaqin were responsible for the attacks on October 9 that sparked the crackdown. The group also have killed Rohingyas who threatened to inform on them to authorities, the ICG said.Reuters could not independently verify the government accounts as access for independent journalists to northern Rakhine has been prohibited since security forces locked down the area. (Reporting By Shwe Yee Saw Myint and Simon Lewis; Writing by Yimou Lee; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 19:49 IST

Jordanian national radicalised Hyderabad’s ISIS suspect: NIA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A deceased Jordanian man has emerged as the one behind “initiating” a Hyderabadi man into the fold of the jihadist ideology, an act which culminated in the formation of an Islamic State (IS)-affiliated group in India. The terrorist group later named itself the Jhund Ul Khalifa al-Hind Fl Bilad or Army of the Caliph in south India.A charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday stated that it was between June 2013 and 2014 that Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, 30, met Jordanian national who went by the name Suhayb Al Abudi. Ibrahim was then working at the Riyadh-based Bazee Trading Company and made friends with the Jordanian, who was also working in the same company.According to the NIA, Abudi showed Ibrahim several videos of Syrian forces allegedly committing atrocities on Sunni Muslims. Through this, he convinced him that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad was the man responsible for these atrocities.”He (Abudi) also argued that Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian President, was committing atrocities on Sunni Muslims in Syria and the lS was waging jihad against the Assad government. lbrahim Yazdani visited India in June, 2014 for two months, but he kept communicating with Suhayb Al Abudi on Facebook,” reads the NIA document accessed by DNA.According to the probe agency, when IS declared itself a Caliphate under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in June 2014, and seized large areas in Syria and Iraq, Ibrahim was allegedly highly influenced by the declaration of the Caliphate and had come to a firm belief that it was every Muslim’s bounden duty to perform Hijrah, i.e. migration to the Caliphate.However, his plans hit a roadblock soon when he got to know that Abudi had been killed in Syria in September 2014. The news was broken to him by an individual named Sulaiman who identified himself as the brother of Abudi.Subsequently, after months of following the changing geopolitical situation in Iraq and Syria on Twitter and other social media websites, Ibrahim managed to get in touch with a person who identified himself as, “Abu lssa Al Amriki,” in January 2015.It was Amriki who became the main handler of the Hyderabad module of IS and guided the group through Ibrahim. He advised the 30-year-old not to visit Syria or Iraq and instead directed that, “he should carry on the work of Allah from India itself.”Investigators have referred to the Hyderabad module as the most dangerous in India, citing factors like covert methods employed to recruit the youth, the way in which the members of the terrorist module communicated with each other, and the expertise of the IS handler and those employed to collect arms and ammunition.Everything seemed to go as per plan as Ibrahim managed to recruit several youth from Hyderabad including his own younger brother — till June 29, the date when the NIA finally busted the module. But investigators say that interest in the Hyderabad module was on the wane with some youth, allegedly recruited by Ibrahim — and whose identities are protected by the NIA— left the group right before an alleged terror attack could have been carried. The chargesheet lists out four Protected Witnesses PW’s, who were recruited by Ibrahim and other members of the Hyderabad module at some point of time.In its charge sheet, NIA mentions a youth who was recruited and, “then grew fearful as he did not approve of the plans for the terrorist acts by the group. He then stage-managed his exit from the group by disappearing on the 15 May, 2016, by spreading a message that he was picked up by the police/NlA and questioned about his activities.” This was more than a month before the group was busted.NIA has claimed that even after his exit, the group continued to make plans of carrying terror attacks, but this was after disbanding for a period of five days.Starting May 29, it was business as usual, with the members of the module given different duties, including collecting weapons, planning escape routes, collecting money, and so on. On June 19, three years after Ibrahim was initiated into the jihadist fold, held a meeting during an iftar at the home of another accused named Habeeb Mohammad.It was on this day that Ibrahim, who himself was radicalized by Jordanian nationals, would try to do the same to two other individuals or protected witnesses. Ten days later, however the whole operation came at a staggering halt with NIA making the first arrest.

Lalu Yadav backs Rahul Gandhi, demands SC-monitored probe against PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav has backed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s assertion that corporates paid crores as bribes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2013-14 and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the same.Lalu said that Prime Minister Modi, who is now completely trapped, owes an explanation to the nation.”Rahul Gandhi has alleged Aditya Birla and Sahara Group had given Rs. 40 crores to Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister is completely trapped and now he will have to give an explanation. If any BJP spokesperson comes up with justification on his behalf then that would be unfair,” he added.The RJD chief further stated that the Congress vice-president wouldn’t have made such allegations against the Prime Minister without any proof.”Without proof, Rahul Gandhi won’t say this…or any leader won’t accuse the Prime Minister of this. It proves that the Prime Minister was involved in corruption. I demand a Supreme Court-monitored probe in this regard,” he added.Speaking in Gujarat’s Mehsana yesterday, Gandhi alleged that in the records with the Income Tax, there were notings of Sahara officials? claims that they paid Prime Minister Modi nine times between October 2013 and February 2014 and that the total amount was Rs. 40 crore.He also alleged that according to documents with the IT department, the Birla Group too paid Rs. 12 crore to the Prime Minister.Seeking an independent inquiry, Gandhi said that he was raising the issue ‘on behalf of the country’.

Cyrus Mistry’s charges of weak governance mischievous: Tata Sons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tata Sons on Wednesday rebutted ousted chairman Cyrus P Mistry’s allegations of weak corporate governance at India’s largest conglomerate, calling it amalgam of half-truths and untruths.Reached for comments on Mistry’s claim in a petition before National Company Law Tribunal that the governance framework at Tata Sons is weak, a Tata Sons spokesperson expressed “surprise” at the assertion.”It is mischievous on the part of any Tata Sons executive to suggest the lack of a strong governance framework at Tata Sons, more so someone who has been associated with the company as a director since 2006. One can only call these allegations as an amalgam of half-truths and untruths,” he said.Stating that a strong governance framework exists at Tata Sons, the spokesperson said: “In line with the Tata Group’s ethos, Tata Sons has always gone over and beyond the requirement of the law on matters of corporate governance. In fact, over the years we have reinforced this formal governance framework.” He added that in 2012-13, the Tata Sons board and Mistry had given their explicit approval to an amended governance framework involving Tata Trusts and Tata Sons.”Mr Mistry willingly participated in this process and his entire family shareholding in Tata Sons voted upon to effect these amendments,” he said. Tata Sons were advised on this by Justice BN Srikrishna and former Attorney General of Maharashtra Darius Khambatta and the spokesperson said Mistry was himself present in several meetings on this matter. “We reiterate Mr Cyrus Mistry and his family holdings in 2013 had fully supported and approved the governance framework that is embodied in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons,” he added.Mistry, who was abruptly removed as chairman of Tata Group’s holding company on October 24, yesterday filed a petition before NCLT seeking replacement of Tata Son’s current board and appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge as non-executive chairman. In a statement yesterday, Tata Sons had reiterated that it has followed the highest standards of corporate governance in its operations and views the petition filed by Mistry’s companies as an unfortunate outcome of the situation arising from his complete disregard of the ethos of the Tata Group and Jamsetji Tata.Despite Mistry’s recent assertions that it is not a personal issue, it is evident that it always has been for him a personal issue which reflects his deep animosity towards Ratan N Tata, said the statement.

US finds remains of WW II soldiers in NE

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After years of concerted efforts, US government officials have found remains of soldiers who fought during the World War II in Arunachal Pradesh. A team of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) visited several locations in Arunachal Pradesh.In a statement, American Ambassador to India Richard Verma lauded the findings. “The United States is committed to making sure all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who served our country come home. DPAA’s mission in India is a vital part of that commitment,” he said.Mission Commander Lt Col Pritz of the American Embassy, too, issued a statement thanking the Indian government.Efforts to locate the remains around Arunachal were going on since 2003. It was only in 2008 that India and the US entered into an understanding to let the American search crew inside the area.Between 2006 and 2010, the crash sites of several US aircraft have been discovered in the area. Some of these are the crash sites of C-87 transport (41-23696), B-24J bomber (42-73308) nicknamed as “Hot as Hell”, C-46A transport (41-24724), B-24D bomber (42-40069) nicknamed as “Pregnant Swan”, C-47DL transport (41-18518), C-87 transport (42-107259), C-46A transport #41-24739, C-87 transport (41-23791), 308th Bomb Group B-24J 42-100184, and, 08th Bomb Group B-24J 42-73242, nicknamed “Haley’s Comet”.In these crashes, the number of suspected casualties is over 50. In April this year, the crew found the remains of soldiers travelling in a C-109 that crashed on July 17, 1945, travelling from Jorhat in Assam to China’s Hsinching province.

Pakistan wary of NSG ‘exemption’ for India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan is wary of powerful countries pressurising smaller nations to exempt India in the admission process to the NSG and feels that strategic stability in South Asia would be undermined if Pakistan’s application was not treated equally with that of India.Pakistani official suspect that powerful countries could force the smaller partners to support India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership bid despite a growing realisation for a criteria-based approach for joining the 48-member elite grouping. “We are pretty confident that NSG countries would not go down the exemption way, but if they ultimately do so and give exemption to India,” Director General of Disarmament at the Foreign Office Kamran Akhtar said while speaking at a workshop on ‘Defence, Deterrence and Stability’ in South Asia. “…There would be serious repercussions not just for Pakistan, but also for other non-nuclear weapon states that may feel being unjustly denied their right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” he said.At the same time, Pakistani officials feel encouraged by growing support in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for establishing criteria for membership of non-NPT countries, Dawn reported. “There are a lot of countries that now recognise the need for a criteria-based approach rather than granting exemptions, but pressures are still being exerted on smaller countries,” he said.The workshop was jointly organised by Islamabad-based think-tank Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and London?s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).Last month in Vienna NSG members, for the second time in a year, failed to reach consensus on the admission of non-NPT countries. The NSG members have been divided between countries demanding strict adherence to the NPT criteria and the bloc wanting to embrace India immediately.A growing support within NSG has been noted for developing criteria for non-NPT states and the Chinese proposal for a two-step approach for new admissions which involves developing criteria in the first stage and then inviting applications for the membership. He said it was now up to NSG countries to decide if they wanted the group to be seen as being driven by political and commercial interests or else they would want non-proliferation goals to be strengthened.The official warned that strategic stability in South Asia would be undermined if Pakistani application was not treated equally with that of India.Pakistan has been pushing for its membership in the group by adopting a uniform criteria for any new country to join NSG despite US backing for India to join through a selective wavier of conditions.Foreign Office’s Additional Secretary Tasneem Aslam said the issue of membership of non-NPT countries was deeply linked to strategic stability in South Asia. “Today, the NSG stands at crossroads, once again, as it considers membership for non-NPT states. An even-handed and non-discriminatory approach by the NSG at this juncture would be of far-reaching significance for strategic stability in South Asia and global non-proliferation efforts,” she said.

Cyrus Mistry ouster: TCS was easy for Tatas but other companies may prove trickier

New Delhi – Moral victory for Cyrus Mistry or a vote of trust in Ratan Tata? The ouster of Mistry as chairman of the Tata Group’s cash cow, TCS, yesterday was a foregone conclusion as the Tatas hold about 73% stake in the company and had moved a resolution seeking his ouster.

According to a filing with the stock exchanges, an overwhelming 93% votes were on favour of the resolution, which ultimately led to Mistry being removed. But the same filing also noted that almost 11.77 crore valid votes were cast against the resolution. This amounted to less than 7% of the total votes cast but by itself, this is not a small number.

Cyrus Mistry. Reuters file photoCyrus Mistry. Reuters file photo

Cyrus Mistry. Reuters file photo

Calling the results a big moral victory, Mistry’s office said today that almost 20 per cent of shareholders of TCS — that accounts for more than 70 per cent of non-promoter shareholders — supported him by voting against the resolution or abstaining, which meant they were expressing disapproval of the promoters’ actions.

Whether Mistry’s interpretation of the EGM outcome is correct or not, one must note that shareholders raised several uncomfortable questions at the same EGM in Mumbai – clearly showing that while a majority voted for the resolution out of loyalty and respect for Tata, the group has a lot to explain on the arbitrary way in which it has ousted Mistry from the board of group holding company Tata Sons.

Another noteworthy development in the TCS EGM was the decision of LIC, an institutional investor, to abstain from voting. Though LIC holds just over 3% stake in TCS, should the decision to abstain be seen as a clear signal from the government that it is not taking sides – yet – in the battle between Tata and Mistry? This article in the VCCircle recounts how the governments in the past have not shied away from preventing hostile boardroom battles by prepping up the state-owned insurer to take sides, such as in the case of L&T and Escorts’ takeovers.

LIC’s vote either way may not have mattered much in TCS but it holds far more importance in some other group companies where insurers (LIC and private insurers) hold a higher stake and whose EGMs are coming with a resolution similar to TCS – seeking removal of Mistry from their respective board of directors.

According to proxy advisory firm Stakeholders Empowerment Services (SES), if LIC votes against the resolution to remove Mistry, the resolution could face defeat all across Tata group companies, with the exception of TCS. LIC and other insurers together hold over 10 percent stake in group companies Tata Motors, Tata Steel, IHCL, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals and Tata Global. They hold over 21% of Tata Power.

According to this report in the Business Standard, many shareholders asked for an explanation at the TCS EGM on reasons for removing Mistry from the TCS board.

Here are some questions the shareholders threw up:

1) What are the actual reasons for removing Mistry from the chairmanship of Tata Sons? Specially since TCS was doing “well” under Mistry

2) Of the 38 shareholders who spoke at the EGM, 34 supported the resolution to remove Mistry but also suggested both Tata and he to resolve the issue amicably, instead of fighting like “cats and cobras”.

3) Many shareholders suggested that Tata take help from other business heads such as Anand Mahindra, Kumar Mangalam Birla or Rahul Bajaj as mediators.

4) The annual report shows all decisions were taken unanimously by the board. Then, why is Mistry is being singled out, one shareholder wanted to know

5) This report quotes shareholder Dinesh Kotecha saying Mistry had raised some valid and pertinent points. “He is specific, he is humble. He has drawn attention to at least 50 issues and I think of those at least 40 points require deliberations.”

It is clear from these questions and reactions of shareholders that though the move by Tata Sons to oust Mistry as chairman of this holding company and the subsequent move to remove him as chairman of group companies may well succeed, it will not be an unqualified success.

As proxy advisory firms and other market watchers have noted in the past, the biggest question which still begs an answer is the reason or reasons for removal of Mistry as chairman of Tata Sons. Shareholders want to know what were the parameters for evaluating the performance the chairman of Tata Sons, whether they had been laid down previously and were these violated by Mistry?

Many shareholders also rightfully want the entire Tata-Mistry battle to be amicable, instead of becoming an ungainly public spectacle. And some others want a clear succession/leadership plan for Tata Trusts – which hold the largest stake in Tata Sons.

In summary, the Tatas may well succeed in removing Mistry from group companies after a prolonged process of shareholder approval and perhaps some legal challenges, but they would do well to put an institutional structure in place for future chairmen of the group.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 11:25 IST

Kashmir: On a day Valley remains calm, Yashwant Sinha-led delegation meet separatists for peace

Senior BJP leader and former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha said on Tuesday that his civil society group was trying to convince New Delhi to invite separatist leaders from Kashmir for talks and to hold unconditional dialogue with them to resolve the long pending issue of insurgency in the Valley.

“After our first visit, we interacted with people in Delhi and we apprised them about the ground reality in Kashmir through our reports and interactions,” Sinha told Firstpost.

Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha. Getty ImagesFormer External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha. Getty Images

Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha. Getty Images

Sinha, who is leading a civil society delegation — comprising Kashmir observers like Wajahat Habibullah, Sushoba Bharve, and former air vice-marshal Kapil Kak — said that though his group doesn’t enjoy a mandate from the government of India, the two visits did yield a positive outcome.

“Building trust and acceptance on both sides is important to have a meaningful conversation and to search for solutions,” Sinha said. “If our previous visit would have been a non-starter, we wouldn’t have come back for a second time.”

The group is visiting the state at a time when the Valley is witnessing one of longest shutdowns in history. Nearly 100 people have been killed in retaliatory action against protesters by government forces, over 12,000 protesters have been wounded — many of them blinded for life, and around 7,000 are either behind bars or detained in their homes.

“We had to build trust with the people and then start work. It’s not easy because of the mistakes previously committed. And though we don’t have the government’s mandate, we can try to influence the policy makers,” Sinha said.

However, the group’s visit has been clouded by the unceremonious binning of the report prepared by the three-member Kashmir interlocutor group headed by Dilip Padgaonkar, which was sent by the UPA government to provide a roadmap following the civilian uprising in 2010. It also meant there wasn’t much hope from the new delegation, other than providing the members an opportunity to meet with society.

In a curt six-page report, the group has written to the central government that the people of Kashmir believe that “Indian politics has taken such a turn (today) that there is no willingness to listen to even demands for autonomy. In terms of the agenda of alliance (between PDP and BJP), a dialogue process must be initiated with all stakeholders so that peace can be restored,” the report says.

Sinha had said that it is true that such processes had failed in the past, but they have started the process once again with a hope that any positive outcome will be yielded, due to which they chose to visit the Valley a second time. “The dialogue we have had from three days with people from different shade of opinion was fruitful,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 21:45 IST

World Bank ‘pauses’ Indus treaty processes of India, Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant development, the World Bank has paused the separate processes initiated by India and Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.”We are announcing this pause to protect the Indus Waters Treaty and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the Treaty and its application to two hydroelectric power plants,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said.The pause was announced by Kim in letters to the finance ministers of India and Pakistan. It was also emphasised that the Bank was acting to safeguard the Treaty.Pausing the process for now, the Bank would hold off from appointing the Chairman for the Court of Arbitration or the Neutral Expert — appointments that had been expected on December 12 as earlier communicated by the Bank.India had taken strong exception last month to the World Bank’s decision to set up a Court of Arbitration and appoint a Neutral Expert to go into Pakistan’s complaint against it over Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir.Surprised at the World Bank’s decision to appoint a Neutral Expert, as sought by the Indian government and at the same time establish a Court of Arbitration as wanted by Pakistan, India had said proceeding with both the steps simultaneously was “legally untenable”.Both processes initiated by the respective countries were advancing at the same time, creating a risk of contradictory outcomes that could potentially endanger the Treaty, the Bank noted.”This is an opportunity for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable over time. I would hope that the two countries will come to an agreement by the end of January,” Kim said.The current processes under the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants. The power plants are being built by India on, respectively, the Kishenganga and Chenab Rivers.Neither of the two plants are being financed by the World Bank.The bank said the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960, is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict.In September, the World Bank, which had mediated the Indus Water Treaty, had said it was approached by India and Pakistan and it is “responding in its limited, procedural role as set out in the treaty”.”India and Pakistan have informed the World Bank that each has initiated proceedings pursuant to the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 and the World Bank Group is responding in its limited, procedural role as set out in the Treaty,” it had said.The Treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission which includes a commissioner from each of the two countries.It also sets out a process for resolving so-called “questions”, “differences” and “disputes” that may arise between the parties.

Demonetisation: Meghalaya Police nabs three GNLA terrorists, hopes for more to surrender soon

Despite the Opposition claims that demonetisation has failed to make the desired impact on terrorist groups, Meghalaya Police has successfully used it as a tool to fight the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), one of the dreaded outfits in the state.

The Meghalaya Police has not only contained regrouping of the terrorist outfit but also made one of its top leaders, Nikam C Momin alias Baichung C, surrender using demonetisation as part of its strategy. Momin, who is the second in command of the outfit surrendered on last Friday after failing to convert old currency notes amounting to Rs 27 lakh.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Anand Mishra, Superintendent of Police, South Garo Hills District told Firstpost, “Due to incessant operations by the Meghalaya Police, the group had already become weaker than earlier. Demonetisation came as a bolt from the blue for the outfit. It was like a final blow to the GNLA. ”

Soon after Momin, another aide of the group, Lingdho N Sangma, surrendered on the same night. The Meghalaya Police expect the entire group to surrender soon along with its commander-in-chief Sohan D Shira.

“We have to wait for a month or so before the entire GNLA winds up,” says Mishra.

The surrender by the two GNLA members has happened after repeated claims in the media that demonetisation has failed to create the desired impact on north eastern terrorist outfits since a large number of tribes in the region are exempted from income tax.

“It is true that many tribes in the region are free from the legal compulsion to file income tax returns. Hence, it is often believed that money deposited in the bank accounts of the tax exempted region are not subject to scrutiny,” said an official in Assam Police, posted in the Assam-Meghalaya border of the region.

“But it is clearly not the case. A person suspected to be transacting terror money can be subjected to investigation and interrogation,” he added.

Rather than waiting for the terrorist groups to get frustrated on account of failure in currency conversion, the Meghalaya Police prepared a pro-active counter-terrorism strategy tailored to take advantage of the situation created by demonetisation.

“We learnt from sources that the GNLA has enough old currency notes to convert into the new ones. Since the leaders could not come to the banks themselves to convert the currency, we had every reason to believe that they will employ conduits to do the same,” said Mishra. The Meghalaya Police kept an eye on the over-ground cadres of the terrorist outfit.

“Since effective sensitisation has been made among the people about the risk of converting currency derived from doubtful sources, people have become cautious. So, terror groups are now left with no other option but to send their over-ground cadres to exchange the currency,” says a police official in Assam.

The strategy helped the police arrest three conduits who deposited Rs 27 lakhs of terror money in a bank, thus leading to the surrender of Baichung.

Mishra also informed that the Meghalaya Police has seized one crore rupees terror money after demonetisaion.

Normally, the extortion money that the GNLA collects is kept in the form of cash by the militant outfit. “The group wraps the currency notes with polythene and put them in a dry moulded plastic water tank. These tanks are then buried in the forest,” Mishra said, explaining the money hiding method used by the GNLA.

Earlier, the north-eastern terrorist groups had the option to convert Indian Rupee to Bangladeshi currency. However, Mishra says that this option is closed for them after demonetisation because old Indian currency notes are also not accepted in Bangladesh eiher.

The GNLA has also been debilitated by repeated counter-insurgency measures launched by the Meghalaya Police. “Now the group is left with only 20 to 25 cadres. After the final blow of demonetisation, we hope all of them will surrender soon,” said Mishra.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 08:33 IST

Demonetisation one month: Jewellers feel the heat of cash crunch as gold sales slump nearly 90%

Gold shopping in India is an activity indulged by both the rich and the poor. Demonetisation has dealt a body blow to the world’s second-biggest gold consuming nation and consequently to the demand for gold, a must-have accessory in Indian weddings. Demand for gold jewellery has dropped as much as 80 percent with jewellery shops witnessing drastically reduced footfalls and low volumes.

A month later, footfalls continue to be lacklustre, especially, at a time when weddings are held across the country starting by the year-end till mid-February. Business has thinned down to a mere 10 to 15 percent, say jewelers.

Demonetisation has been the biggest crisis ever for the business, said Ashok Minawala, partner in the 80-year-old Mumbai-based Danabhai Jewellers and Sons. Ticket sizes have dwindled to below Rs 2 lakh and that is the budget most weddings are also trying to adhere too with the cash crunch enveloping the entire country.

Jewellery is a high value purchase and customers are putting their decision to shop for the yellow metal on the back burner as they are focussed on taking care of the essentials items. People are focused on having cash reserves until they can access their money easily given the fact that banks and ATM are cash-strapped and are rationing money.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Unless there is a wedding in the family which necessitates spending or buying a gift for a close relative’s wedding, people are reluctant to enter jewellery stores. “We do not see our regular customers coming into the stores anymore,” said Minawala. He pegs the drop in business to almost 40-50 percent where cheques are given for gold purchases. Sales in cash purchases of gold has plunged to over 50 percent, he said.

Lacklustre half year

The jewellery industry has seen highs and lows in the current year. The industry had shut shop post the budget when the government reintroduced a one percent excise duty on jewellery after four years.

Industry estimates the loss incurred on account of the strike to be at Rs 18,000 crore.

Dhanteras brought a shine to the yellow metal which was otherwise lacklustre for nearly six months. The country’s gold demand had fallen 30 percent to 247.4 tonnes during the first six months of 2016, from 351.5 tonnes in the year-ago period, as per World Gold Council.

India is the world’s largest gold consumer and imports a sizeable chunk of its total annual consumption of around 900-1,000 tonnes.

Post-demonetisation

Since 9 November, the rush for gold has petered down to a trickle. The demand is down to almost 90 percent now, said jewellers. The reason for the fall can be mainly attributed to the limited availability of cash at ATMs and the banks in the country, said Sreedhar GV, chairman, All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation.

“We are witnessing a drop of around 75-80 percent. If there is not much circulation of money in the country due to demonetisation, business cannot be buoyant,” he said.

A month after demonetisation, the situation continues to be grim. Shailesh Sangani, director, Gitanjali Group, creators of Gili jewellery, said that though the trade has undergone several challenges particularly in 2016, demonetisation was the worst of it all. “We have been affected as sales has been dismal.”

Most jewellers said that they had clocked sales of 80-90 percent during Diwali and post-Diwali too and also on the day the demonetisation announcement was made. Now there is hardly 10 to 15 percent growth, they said.

In the south, the wedding season is on only until December and then mahurats or auspicious days begin post-January 15 till mid-March. But demonetisation has brought down business to almost 90 percent in the South. But some of them are happy at the trickle of footfalls in their stores. “We thought there would be hardly any business post-demonetisation,” said Ananthapadmanabhan, MD, NAC Jewellers, a 43-year-old jewellery chain with nine stores in Chennai, but is thankful that the wedding season has brought in a business of 20-25 percent.

“Usually, the big ticket buyers purchase their jewellery months in advance. It is the middle and lower middle classes who make their purchases closer to the wedding dates,” he said, adding that the latter’s purchases have been negligible so far. The footfalls to the store has begun to pick up to almost 20-25 percent because of small ticket purchases. After mid-December, non resident Indians arrive in the country to attend weddings or to buy jewellery, said Ananthapadmanabhan. He was worried wondering how their shopping behaviour would turn out to be under the prevailing circumstances post-demonetisation in the country.

Those jewellers dealing in small tickets like the south-based Muthoot Jewellers are seeing increased footfalls since the past week. The company deals in low-ticket purchases averaging 4 grams. “I don’t stock product and customers have to make bookings,” said Keyur Shah, CEO, Muthoot Pappachan Group, precious metals business. It has 3,500 stores across India.

Shah said that business was picking up and he was hopeful that it would be normalized by January 2017.

In the East in Calcutta too, limited shopping and footfalls have watered down the otherwise bright time of wedding season buys. P C Jewellers said the demand for wedding jewellery has fallen upto 60 percent due to demonetisation. The company expects the pent-up demand to drive revenue growth in the coming months.

Sangani said he expected this dismal phase in the gold jewellery business to continue until February.

In the south, in Tamil Nadu, Pongal is a big festival when jewellers are expecting sales to pick up. For rest of India, post makar sankranti (14 January), there is renewed interest. Until last year at least. However, the trader is not optimistic that trend will be evident in January 2017. “The only hope is Akshay Trithiya in April-May as of now,” said Sanghani.

Meanwhile, All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF), said the sales of jewellery have started to pick up slowly and there has been increase in cashless / credit and debit card / RTGS / NEFT / IMPS / cheques and pay order transactions over the last few weeks. Sreedhar of GJF  has urged the government to provide special consideration on cashless purchase of jewellery. “We urge the government to remove existing restrictive measures on cashless jewellery buying,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 15:14 IST

Tata Steel announces buyer for specialist business

Tata Steel announces its preferred bidder for the £100m sale of its specialist steel division based in South Yorkshire.

Seeking divine intervention amidst boardroom battle? Mistry visits Shirdi, Shani Shingnapur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid his boardroom battle with Tata Sons, industrialist Cyrus Mistry said on Saturday “everything will be fine” as he visited the famous Saibaba and Shani Shingnapur temples to offer prayers. Accompanied by his wife, Mistry, who was ousted as Chairman of Tata Steel on Friday, arrived in Shirdi by a helicopter this morning and had ‘darshan’ of Shri Saibaba at the temple, where tight security arrangements were made in view of his visit.Mediapersons, including photographers, were not allowed near the shrine during the short visit of Mistry, who was last month ousted at the chairman of Tata Sons – the holding company of Tata Group firms. Temple spokesperson Mohan Yadav confirmed Mistry’s visit to the popular shrine dedicated to Saibaba, a 19th century saint revered by people across communities.From there, Mistry and his wife went to the renowned Shani Shingnapur Temple. The shrine, dedicated to Lord Shani, who personifies the planet Saturn in Hindu belief, is located at a short distance from Shirdi in this Western Maharashtra district.
ALSO READ Mistry ousted from Tata Steel, hits back saying ‘erosion of core Tata values damaging brand’Keeping with the tradition followed by devotees, Mistry and his wife poured oil on an idol of Lord Shani. They, however, did not go up to the ‘chabutra’, or the sanctum sanctorum, as it was closed on Saturday. When reporters asked him about the ongoing boardroom brawl over control of the Tata Group, Mistry said, “Everything thing will be fine (sab theek ho jaega).” The 50-year-old businessman was abruptly ousted on October 24 as Chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the diversified Group. He was later removed as Chairman of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Veteran journalist Dileep Padgaonkar no more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noted veteran journalist Dileep Padgaonkar and Times of India’s consulting editor died in Oune’s Ruby hospital. He was 72 years old. As per the The News Minute, he had suffered a heart attack which led to multiple organ failure on November 18. He was on dialysis after his kidney failed.He was born in 1944 and matriculated from St Vincent’s College and graduated in Political Science from Fergusson College, Pune.He got into journalism at the age of 24. He joined the Times of India as its Paris correspondent in 1968 after receiving a a doctorate in humanities from the Sorbonne. After working at the daily in various posts, he took on as its editor in 1988. He also worked for the UNESCO in Bangkok and Paris from 1978 to 1986 as an international civil servant. Padgaonkar was appointed as one of the members of the three-member Interlocutors Group on Jammu and Kashmir, set up by the government after continuous unrest in the Valley in 2008Many from the sphere of politics and journalism condoled his death.

Nalanda’s governing body rejiged, Amartya Sen’s association ends

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nobel-Laureate economist Amartya Sen’s nearly a decade-long association with Nalanda University has come to an end with the government reconstituting the governing body of the prestigious institute.Sen, a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was chancellor of the university and his term had come to an end in July last year but he had continued his association as a member of its Governing Board. Sources said President Pranab Mukherjee, in his capacity as the Visitor of the university, approved the reconstitution of the Governing Board in accordance with provision of the Nalanda University Act, 2010. The President also approved giving temporary charge of Vice Chancellor to senior-most Dean of the University as the current VC Gopa Sabharwal’s one year extension expires tomorrow. It will be a stop-gap measure until the new Vice Chancellor is appointed.Niti Ayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations Lokesh Chandra, and Professor Arvind Sharma, Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University in Canada have been appointed as members of the GB under the category of renowned academicians. In February last year, Sen, in a letter to the Governing Board had said he will not seek a second term as Chancellor as the BJP government did not want him to continue.Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Bose and UK-based columnist Lord Meghnad Desai, who were also member of the GB, were not included in the newly-constituted board. The new governing board will be a 14-member body which will be chaired by the chancellor. It will also comprise vice-chancellor, along with five members nominated by India, China, Australia, Laos PDR and Thailand. Economist and former revenue secretary N K Singh, who was also member of the Nalanda Mentors Group, will represent India.The other members of the board will be Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, an Additional Secretary rank official of Ministry of HRD and two members representing the Bihar state government.While Sen could not be contacted for reaction, Bose, a former Harvard professor, said it was government’s prerogative to reconstitute the board. But at the same time he said, “There was a need to ponder whether this is the way we maintain national prestige.”Reacting to government’s decision, Singh said this is for the first time the governing board has been reconstituted in accordance with provision of the Nalanda University Act, 2010, adding it should have been done much earlier. The idea to revive Nalanda University was first mooted in 2005 by the then President APJ Abdul Kalam. The university is being built near the ruins of the historic academic place by the same name in Bihar and Sen was involved with the project since 2007. A number of countries are involved in the project.Indian government had enacted the Nalanda University Act, 2010 to implement the decisions arrived at the Second East Asia Summit held in January, 2007 in the Philippines and subsequently at the Fourth East Asia Summit in Thailand for establishment of the Nalanda University. In 2007, the Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) was formed to implement the project. The NMG was discharging the functions of the Governing Board.

West Bengal: Group C, D employees allowed to draw advance salary

Mon, 21 Nov 2016-09:32pm , Kolkata , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Providing some relief to Group C and D employees from the cash crunch following demonetization of high-value currencies, the West Bengal government on Monday allowed them to draw advance salary.A government release said that to reduce the hardship faced by Group C and Group D employees of the state government and all other state employees whose posts were equivalent to Group C and Group D might draw part salary or wages in advance in cash. Some employees are allowed Rs 5,000 from the salary of December while others are allowed Rs 2,000, it said.Those wanting to receive cash payout in advance should apply by November 25 while cash would be disbursed to them from their offices by November 30, the release said.

Kashmir unrest: Local policeman killed in gunfight in Baramulla district

Srinagar: A local policeman was killed on Wednesday in a gunfight between the security forces and militants in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, police said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Following specific information, about a group of militants hiding in the forest area of Zaloora near Sopore town, security forces launched an operation,” a senior police officer told IANS.

“As the security forces, including troops of 20 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operations Group (SOG), closed in on the hiding militants, the insurgents opened indiscriminate fire killing a police constable,” he said.

The victim was identified as Muhammad Shafi.

The officer said the operation against the militants was still on.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 11:25 IST

India’s NSG bid: China sticks to tough stand; calls for ‘non-discriminatory’, applicable solution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China, which has been blocking India’s NSG bid, on Tuesday maintained its tough stand on the issue and called for a two-step “non-discriminatory” solution to admit non-NPT members into the 48-member elite grouping.China’s remarks came as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at its meeting in Vienna November 11 discussed a formula acting on India’s application to join it.”We maintain that we should follow two-step approach. First we should find out a solution that is applicable to all non-NPT members applications to the NSG through consultations and discussions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing here outlining China’s stand at the Vienna meeting.The second step is to discuss specific non-NPT (Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty) members’ admission into the NSG, he said.”We believe that the solution should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT members and it must not damage the core value of the NSG as well as the authority, effectiveness and integrity of the NPT,” he said.”We hope that we can enter into the second step after finishing the first step at an early date which is to talk about specific non-NPT members joining the NSG,” he said.China’s stand for a non-discriminatory criteria is regarded significant as Pakistan, a close ally of Beijing too has applied for the NSG membership along with India.China, which has blocked earlier India’s entry on the ground that India has not signed the NPT, has held two rounds of talks with India and Pakistan about their admission into the group.India has secured the backing of the US and majority of the NSG members based on its non-proliferation record in comparison to Pakistan which faced serious allegations of nuclear proliferation in the past specially with regard to its nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan.Geng said at the Vienna meeting of the NSG, members talked about the technical, legal and political matters relating non-NPT members accession to the NSG.He said this is the first time the group talked about entry of the new members.Earlier a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “It is the first time a discussion, not only since the Seoul Plenary, but also since the NSG’s inception in 1975, for the Group to formally take up the issue of non-NPT states’ participation in an open and transparent manner”.Geng said the discussion about the entry of new members is a “good start”.”We believe it is good start and we will continue to support the NSG in following through on the first step and explore the final solution at an early date,” he said.India has been maintaining that NPT membership was not essential for joining the NSG, as was the case with France.

DNA Exclusive: Banks shower loans ‘wilful defaulter’ Niranjan Hiranandani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Defaulter!” This is exactly how India’s premier institution, the RBI, had described property tycoon and co-founder of the Hiranandani Group — Niranjan Hiranandani. But despite the RBI declaring Hiranandani as a “wilful defaulter” as far back as 2014, the group continues to receive loans from premier banks across the country.Documents exclusive to DNA reveal that the Hiranandani Group has received Rs 5,500 crore from the State Bank of India and Axis Bank, which was given to two firms belonging to the group. The SBI loan was given in February 2015 and March 2016 by Axis Bank. These loans, the documents make clear, come well after the RBI listed Hiranandani as a defaulter.When contacted, Hiranandani insisted that he had done nothing wrong. A spokesperson authorised to speak on behalf of him and the Group admits that Hiranandani’s name had figured in the RBI’s list of wilful defaulters. But he claimed that it was an “error” and has now been struck off.Niranjan Hiranandani’s name had first appeared in the RBI’s wilful defaulters’ list on June 30, 2014 following a default of Rs 350 crore loan with Punjab National Bank-led consortium by his company Sunny Vista Realtors Pvt Ltd (SVRPL). Other banks in this consortium were UCO and Andhra Bank. But eight months later while his name was still on the wilful defaulters’ list, SBI seemingly decided to deviate from RBI rules and lend his company – Hiranandani Builders – Rs 1,250 crore in February 2015.All these loans were sanctioned despite an RBI’s master circular on wilful defaulters, which reads: “No additional facilities (loan) should be granted by any bank/FI to the listed wilful defaulters”.What is even more shocking is that SBI was seemingly aware that they were flouting RBI rules. In a document issued while sanctioning the loan, SBI officials wrote: “…deviation from loan policy guidelines in respect to name of one partners, Niranjan Hiranandani appearing in the RBI wilful defaulters list dated 30 June 2014.”It’s not just the RBI. The SBI seems to have flouted its own guidelines when sanctioning the loans to the Hiranandani Group. The documents available with DNA show that the above loan of Rs 750 crore to Hiranadani Builders were sanctioned against the securitisation of rental income known as Lease Rental Discounting or LRD scheme with a tenure of 12 years. However, SBI policy allows that such a loan is only up to Rs 100 crore and that too only for a 10-year period.Asked about this, the Hiranandani Group maintained that this loan was pre-closed in March 2016, stating that “the funds were raised from private sources for closure”.But while the Hiranandani Group may have clarified this loan, other loans continue to have been given to them. Axis Bank pre-funded Rs 2,815 crore (Rs 1,480 crore to Lakeview Developers and Rs 1,335 crore to Hiranandani Builders in March 2016). Later on, Axis bank sold down the majority of the loan to SBI. SBI sanctioned Rs 750 crore loan with syndication of Axis Bank to Hiranandani Builders in August this year.The group, however, insists that it has flouted no guidelines. Asked about the date of removal of Hiranandani’s name from the RBI’s wilful defaulter list, his team forwarded a letter of Andhra Bank written to Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited (CIBIL) addressing concerns regarding Sunny Vista Realtors Private Limited (SVRPL) — a company belonging to the Group.The Andhra Bank letter dated December 11, 2015, addressed to CIBIL, says, “We request you to delete the name of company and its directors as wilful defaulters from your records.” Another letter released by the group, shows a communication from Andhra Bank to SVRPL, dated December 9, 2015, where the bank has recommended to its officials, “for deletion of company and its director’s name from RBI wilful defaulter list.”Despite these letters, questions continue to surround the Group. SBI documents show Niranjan Hiranandani to be a wilful defaulter during the loan process in 2015. Again, in August 2016, SBI cites a similar request letter of Andhra Bank during its risk analysis discussion for a new loan of Rs 750 crore requested by Hiranandani Builders from Axis Bank.When asked to comment, SBI and Axis bank officials have maintained that they can’t comments on any individual’s account status. In a statement, Axis Bank says, “As a matter of policy we don’t comment on individual borrowers. However, as a normal practice, we follow prudent underwriting, well-defined credit principles and effective loan approval process.” Similarly, RBI says in its response to DNA, “As a matter of policy, we do not reply to media queries relating to individual bank accounts.”Group denies chargesThe Hiranandani Group has denied all the allegations raised against it. A spokesperson for the Group said: “Mr Hiranandani’s name appeared in the RBI wilful defaulters list but on clarification by the bankers was removed from the wilful defaulter list. The listing of his name in the RBI defaulters list was an error and consequently rectified. Irrespective of the above, Mr. Hiranandani took over all the projects along with its loans and made sure that all banks were fully paid.”TimelineJune, 2014 – RBI declares Hiranandani ‘wilful defaulter’
February 2015 – SBI loan of Rs1,250 cr was given to Hiranandani Builders was in violation of rules
December, 2015 – Andhra Bank requested CIBIL to delete wilful defaulter tag from the HiranandaniGroup
March 2016 Axis Bank pre-funded Rs 1,335 cr to Hiranandani Builders Definition of a wilful defaulterAnyone who has enough cash, but is not willing to pay banks’ dues is a wilful defaulter.
Siphoning off funds, fabrication of bank records and fraudulent transactions by the borrower can also invite the chip of wilful defaulter. Action against a wilful defaulterRBI rules state that a “wilful defaulter can’t float new ventures for a period of five years from the date the name appeared in RBI “wilful defaulter” list.
Further, if a bank identifies siphoning or diversion of funds, misrepresentation, falsification of accounts and fraudulent transactions then that bank should debarred from that account.
Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said that wilful defaulter tag is a necessary tool in the hands of creditors to resolve distressed assets. Outstanding Loans: How much wilful defaulters owe banksSource-AIBEA

Kolkata: Private hospitals help patients to tackle cash crunch post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the cash crunch presenting a serious problem to patients in making payments to the medical facilities for treatment received, most city hospitals in the city have come forward to help them by accepting cheques and debit or credit cards.Some hospitals in the city are also accepting ‘undertaking’ in emergency cases promising future payment. Cheques are being accepted by most medical facilities from local people as well as overseas patients, mostly from Bangladesh and Nepal. Medica Super Speciality Hospital vice-chairman and consultant cardiac surgeon Dr Kunal Sarkar said, “It’s our responsibility to provide treatment to our patients. We have started a helpline where patients can contact us. In cases of emergency, we are accepting undertakings from patients (both local and foreign).”Sarkar said the hospital authority was also asking patients to bring one local guarantor, though there was an element of risk involved in asking them do so. “This is only a temporary crisis, anyway,” he remarked.AMRI Group of Hospitals Group CEO Rupak Barua said that the medical facility was accepting cheques as well as debit and credit cards. “We are asking our patients in cases of emergency to bring one local guarantor. And in cases of surgeries we are requesting them to deposit cheques two to three days prior the operation is scheduled,” Barua said.Talking to PTI, Narayana Health Network Zonal director (East) R Venkatesh said that they offered free consultation on November 9, the day after demonetisation was announced by the Centre, across all specialities in the state to extend maximum help to people. “We have not refused treatment during this period. Most patients from Bangladesh or Nepal are paying through US currency or using RTGS. In some cases we are accepting cheques. Otherwise patients are paying through credit or debit cards also. There are cases when we have admitted patients on credit and helped patients on highly discounted bills,” Venkatesh said.The Apollo Gleneagles Hospital is also accepting cheques and because the facility has a foreign exchange counter at the hospital, foreign patients admitted there are not facing any problem, a senior official said.”Most of the patients are paying through plastic cards. But we are accepting cheques also. We are not facing any problem at our facility,” the senior official said.

Watch: Dr Subhash Chandra backs PM Modi’s war on black money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Essel Group Chairman and Rajya Sabha member Dr Subhash Chandra threw his weight behind PM Modi’s war on black money stating that it was a ‘good thing for all us’. He said: “My humble submission to whosoever is listening to this is to support him (PM Modi). This is a good thing for all of us, particularly the common man. Maybe big people like me will hate, but I ask them also, let us stop this. Let us be clean. Let us enjoy the money we earn, because the enjoyment can be only if you make legitimate money. Our military give their lives for the country, why can’t we give him the 50 days that he has asked for. In fact, I am willing to give 500 days. Of course, even today I am very happy because we had no issue of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in our group.”

India’s nominee to be re-appointed to UN Joint Inspection Unit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A top Indian diplomat will be re-appointed to the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system following his endorsement as the sole candidate of the Asia-Pacific Group.Ambassador A Gopinathan is to be re-appointed to the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations by the General Assembly, the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations system-wide. Gopinath’s re-appointment follows his nomination by India and endorsement as the sole candidate of the Asia-Pacific Group. He will serve from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2022. Gopinathan was first appointed to the UN body for a term from January 2013 to December 2017. At that election, he had secured 106 votes out of 183 votes and had defeated Ambassador Zhang Yan of China, India’s Permanent Mission to the UN said in a statement. He is currently serving as Chairman of the Joint Inspection Unit.India also won elections to key UN organs during the past few days. First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Mahesh Kumar was elected last week by acclamation to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). The committee plays a crucial role in helping the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which deals with administrative and budgetary issues, examine the organisation’s budget and numerous management initiatives.The Investments Committee appointed eight members to serve three-year terms of office, beginning January 2017.The eight members included India’s Madhav Dhar, Japan’s Masakazu Arikawa, China’s Simon Jiang and Germany’s Achim Kassow among others. Kumar’s election came just a day after 33-year-old Indian lawyer Aniruddha Rajput won a hotly-contested election in the UN General Assembly for membership to the International Law Commission, the United Nations organ tasked with the progressive development of international law and its codification. Rajput got 160 votes, topping the Asia Pacific group in voting that was held by way of secret ballot.

Indus Waters Treaty: World Bank asks India, Pakistan to agree to mediation

Washington: The World Bank on Friday asked India and Pakistan to “agree to mediation” in order to settle on a mechanism for how the Indus Waters Treaty should be used to resolve issues regarding two dams under construction along the Indus river system.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The World Bank’s move came as it told the two countries that it was responding to their separate proceedings initiated under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960.

Simultaneously, the World Bank held a draw of lots to determine who will appoint three umpires to sit on the Court of Arbitration that Pakistan has requested.

The draw of lots was held at the World Bank headquarters in Washington.

“The World Bank Group has a strictly procedural role under the Indus Waters Treaty and the treaty does not allow it to choose whether one procedure should take precedence over the other. This is why we drew the lots and proposed potential candidates for the Neutral Expert today,” said Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel Anne-Marie Leroy.

“What is clear, though, is that pursuing two concurrent processes under the treaty could make it unworkable over time and we therefore urge both parties to agree to mediation that the World Bank Group can help arrange.

“The two countries can also agree to suspend the two processes during the mediation process or at any time until the processes are concluded,” Leroy said.

The Bank said the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict.

The Bank is a signatory to the Treaty.

The Treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission which includes a commissioner from each of the two countries.

It also sets out a process for resolving so-called “questions”, “differences” and “disputes” that may arise between the parties.

The current proceedings under the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants.

The power plants are being built by India on Kishenganga and Chenab Rivers.

Neither of the two plants are being financed by the World Bank Group.

Why bind ourselves to ‘no first use policy’, says Parrikar on India’s nuke doctrine

In what could intensify the ongoing tension between India and Pakistan manifold, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said that he sees no reason why India should bind itself a ‘no first use policy’ on nuclear weapons.

Explaining the need to be unpredictable in warfare strategy, according to PTI, Parrikar said: “Why should I bind myself? I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly. This is my (personal) thinking.”

India had declared a “no first use” nuclear policy following the nuclear weapons test in 1998. However, its arch-rival and nuclear-armed state Pakistan has no such policy.

Though the minister clarified that the remarks were personal in nature, and the nuke doctrine has not changed in the government, giving up the “no first use policy” could prevent “hoax” threats.

“It has not changed in the government. It is my concept. As an individual I also get feeling. I am not saying you have to use it first. Hoax can be called off,” PTI quoted the minister where he also added that prior to the surgical strike, the Pakistan defence minister used to threaten India with the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons.

“From the day surgical strike happened, no threat has come. They realised that we can do something which is not well defined,” he said.

“Necessarily if there is any question or danger to the country, I will not open the book first,” ANI tweeted.

However, soon after Parrikar’s interview was aired on television, according to ANI, the Ministry of Defence, issued a statement saying that the views expressed were the minister’s personal views and not his official stand on the issue. “What Defence Minister Parrikar said was his personal opinion and not the official position. What he said was that India being a responsible power should not get into 1st use debate…,” the news agency tweeted.

Although, the defence ministry was quick to call the opinion minister’s “personal” one, this kind of assertion could potentially hamper India’s bid to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group member as few countries including China are playing hard ball.

Tata’s boardroom battle with ousted chairman Mistry escalates | Reuters

By Aditi Shah
| MUMBAI

MUMBAI Tata Sons, holding firm of India’s $100-billion salt-to-software Tata conglomerate, launched a broadside on Thursday against its ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry, criticising his performance and removing him as head of the group’s flagship business.In a nine-page statement, Tata accused Mistry of trying to take control of one of Tata’s units and creating distance between the promoter, Tata Sons, and its group companies.It also blamed him for nearly causing losses and eroding shareholder value.Sources in Mistry’s camp dubbed the Tata Sons’ criticisms as “fallacious” and said they reflect “desperation.”The war of words between the two sides has escalated, as Tata attempts to convince the boards of Tata group companies, which it does not have majority stakes in, that it was justified in ousting Mistry as chairman of the conglomerate last month.The Tata Sons board has already suffered two major setbacks, as the board of Indian Hotels last week, and that of Tata Chemicals on Thursday, both backed Mistry, saying he would remain chair of those group companies. Tata Sons on Thursday axed Mistry as chair of its main cash cow Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), however, as it owns a stake of over 70 percent in that company.The corporate power struggle is set to continue over coming days as Mistry remains chairman of other key Tata companies like Tata Steel and Tata Motors, whose boards are set to meet soon.”It was fair expectation of Tata Sons that Mr. Mistry would gracefully resign from the boards of other Tata companies,” the group said in its statement, adding that his refusal to step down went against Tata’s values and ethos.Mistry’s office did not respond to an emailed request seeking comment.

Mistry was axed as chair of Tata Sons in a boardroom coup last month, with family patriarch Ratan Tata brought back to helm the company temporarily.Since then the camps have traded barbs on a regular basis, leading to a drop in share prices of listed Tata entities and sparking concern among shareholders and other stakeholders.DIVIDEND DECLINES
Tata Sons said on Thursday it had received queries from across the globe about its removal of Mistry as Tata Sons chair, and offered an explanation to provide the “desired perspective” behind the decision.The group has criticised Mistry for his inability to turn around loss-making units during his four-year term, instead continuing to blame them as “legacy hot spots” and writing off huge amounts which have also not resolved the problem.

The company would have shown operating losses over the past three years, but for dividends from its flagship firm TCS, Tata Sons said, adding that “significant dependence” on TCS was a source of concern for its board. bit.ly/2fzQiSj Dividends from 40 listed Tata companies, except TCS, fell to 7.8 billion rupees ($117 mln) in the fiscal year ending March 31, from 10 billion rupees three years ago, Tata Sons said.Expenses, other than interest on debt, more than doubled to 1.8 billion rupees over the same period and impairment provisions have jumped to 24 billion rupees from 2 billion rupees, “indicating inability to stem falling values,” it said.Sources close to Mistry said Tata Sons used selective data in its representation. Mistry has also blamed Ratan Tata for some of the company’s biggest debacles and alleged failures in corporate governance at Tata Sons and some group companies.

“ULTERIOR MOTIVE”
Tata Sons has blamed Mistry for “consciously dismantling” the group’s existing management structure, thereby reducing the control and influence, between Tata group companies and their major shareholder and promoter, Tata Sons.Tata Sons has alleged that Indian Hotels’ support for Mistry shows his “ulterior motive” of trying to gain control of the company with the support of the independent directors. Sources close to Mistry dismissed the allegation, and said Tata had attempted to fault independent directors for demonstrating their integrity and independence.Tata have now called an extraordinary general meeting of all Indian Hotels shareholders in an attempt to get Mistry removed as a director from the board.Tata Sons has made several other allegations against Mistry, including a conflict of interest with Shapoorji Pallonji group, his family firm, which also owns a 18.41 percent stake in Tata Sons.Sources close to Mistry said that Tata had nothing to show for its allegations of a conflict of interest and called them a smear campaign unworthy of either the Tata group or a response. ($1 = 66.3929 rupees) (Additional reporting by Devidutta Tripathy in Mumbai and Darshana Sankararaman in Bengaluru; Editing by Euan Rocha, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Tata Sons continues row with ex-chairman Cyrus Mistry

Tata Sons accuses former chairman Cyrus Mistry of presiding over falling income, rising costs and dismantling the company’s structure.

World Bank probe into Tata tea project finds it failed to protect Indian workers | Reuters

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A World Bank investigation into a tea plantation project in India that it jointly finances with tea giant Tata Global Beverages has found that it has failed to tackle alleged abuses of impoverished workers, the group said on Wednesday.The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – said its accountability office began a probe into the project, run by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), after reports tea pickers were being exploited.In a statement emailed to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the IFC said it welcomed the investigation by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) and would work towards improving conditions for workers in plantations in Assam.”IFC is continually working with APPL in its ongoing programme of improving living and working conditions and will continue to collaborate with the CAO on the next steps, post-audit,” it said.Officials from Tata Global Beverages and APPL were not immediately available for comment.APPL was set up in 2009 to acquire and manage tea plantations previously owned by Tata Global Beverages – which owns Tetley, the second-largest tea brand in the world.

The IFC’s $7.8 million involvement in the $87 million “Tata Tea” project was aimed at promoting shareholder workers and helping to create more than 30,000 permanent jobs.Tata Global Beverages took a 41 percent stake in APPL and the IFC took 20 percent, with the remainder held by workers and smaller firms.But complaints by charities and trade unions about exploitation and abuse of tea-pickers – including long working hours, low wages, lack of freedom of association, over-exposure to pesticides and poor health and living conditions – prompted the CAO to launch an investigation in February 2014.

The CAO’s findings, released on Monday, found the IFC failed to identify and address labour, social and environmental issues, including potential violations of Indian and international law, including those related to housing and wages.”CAO finds that IFC has not assured itself that the wages paid by the client are consistent with IFC’s commitment to support jobs which offer a ‘way out of poverty’ or ‘protect and promote the health’ of workers,” it said.The IFC’s investment also supported a problematic employee share-purchase programme, the CAO found. It said APPL misrepresented the risks associated with buying stock, resulting in debt incurred by workers who came under pressure to buy shares.

The CAO said the IFC supported issuing more shares, reducing the value of workers’ shares and diluting their stake in APPL, without consulting worker-shareholders. Human Rights Watch called on the IFC to conduct a review of the social impact of its investment and work with its clients to improve the plight of impoverished tea pickers in Assam. “The IFC has been sluggish in responding to its endemic failures and done little to remedy the impact of its past mistakes at the community level,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at HRW.”The IFC’s board should send the action plan back to the staff and require it to consult with workers and the groups that filed the complaints to make sure that all the violations are addressed and appropriate responses are developed.” (Reporting by Nita Bhalla; Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Centre’s plan for a hot winter in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Equipped with the information that unprecedented terror turbulence can hit Jammu and Kashmir as the snow melts next year which may spiral the situation out of hand, the Centre has evolved a four-pronged action plan to restore normalcy.To be executed between winter months – from November to February – the execution of the action plan will be monitored directly by small team under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), highly placed sources said. There is a strong apprehension in the security establishment that lack of governance and absence of administration during long period of unrest has helped create situation that has potential to put the Kashmiri society on the path of Talibanisation. “Burning down of schools on a massive scale across the valley is one indication of what Pakistan supported terror groups are planning to do. This is an unprecedented development in Kashmir that has never happened before. In all over 120 government buildings have been burnt down or damaged of which at least 27 are school buildings,” added sources. According to the plan, the Army and the Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K Police aided by central armed police forces (CAPFs) have been tasked to neutralise or apprehend all the 300 odd terrorists and militants present in the valley. Sources said, these terrorists aided by the prevailing confusion during unrest managed to find safe havens across several pockets and have been instrumental in abating and aiding further unrest.The next step of the plan includes action on a massive scale against over ground activists of resistance group who have aided, instigated and participated in “subversive” activities like stone throwing, burning down government properties and aiding terrorists and militants to hide, sneak in and escape. An important part of the plan is reclaiming back the so called liberated areas, especially in South Kashmir, from the violent agitators that also have strong presence of militants and over ground activists. Sources said this may prove to be long haul exercise as they want minimum collateral damage during action. At the same time, along with the tough approach, the government plans to launch programmes on massive scale for winning hearts and minds of Kashmiris, aimed especially at those who want peace to return to help their children study and business progress.Those involved in the plan believe that the Centre’s action will not find much resistance in Kashmir as majority of Kashmiri are fed up with the spiral of violence and unrest and want to lead normal life.

Islamic State losing ground but still a threat: analysts

Paris: The Islamic State group has been eroded by international efforts to crush the jihadist group but its ability to mount devastating attacks on the West remains very real, defence and security experts say.

As France prepares to mark the first anniversary of the Paris attacks by the group on 13 November, analysts say military defeats in its strongholds in Iraq and Syria will almost certainly not make its Western targets any safer.

“Depriving ISIS of control over population centres and sanctuary to raise funds and train fighters, and breaking it up as key organisation, matters,” said Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), using another name for the group.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters drive vehicles at the front line during a battle with Islamic State militants. ReutersKurdish Peshmerga fighters drive vehicles at the front line during a battle with Islamic State militants. Reuters

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters drive vehicles at the front line during a battle with Islamic State militants. Reuters

“Defeating it in any practical sense, however, will not begin to deal with the lasting threat,” he added.

It was in June 2014 that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi proclaimed the creation of a caliphate in land the group had seized in Iraq and Syria and urged Muslims who shared the group’s vision to join them.

Thousands of foreigners answered his call, among them several French and Belgian men who would go on to slaughter 130 people in a Paris concert hall and at bars and restaurants.

The bloodshed in Paris contributed to strengthening the resolve of the West to fight IS.

A year on, Iraqi forces backed by the air power of the United States and countries including France are locked in fierce fighting to re-take Iraq’s second city of Mosul from the jihadist group.

On Sunday, a US-backed Kurdish and Arab force said it had begun an assault on the city of Raqqa, IS’s stronghold in Syria.

Recruits drying up

These military efforts have led to a sharp reduction in the number of foreigners making the trek to join IS forces in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon says from 2,000 a month in early 2015, the figure is now just 200.

Tighter controls on the Turkish border — the main gateway to Syria — and improved surveillance by European intelligence have also helped stem the flow of foreign recruits.

The military onslaught on IS has also slowed the production of the slick, blood-drenched propaganda which has played a prominent role in attracting recruits.

The number of articles or videos posted online by the jihadists’ official media outlets dropped by 70 percent, from 700 items in August 2015 to 200 a year later, according to a report by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the elite US West Point military academy.

The author of the report, Daniel Milton, said while IS’s main selling point was the creation of its self-proclaimed caliphate, it was now “struggling to maintain the appearance of a functioning state”.

Most experts agree, however, that crushing IS’s hopes of establishing the caliphate will not diminish its ability to launch attacks against the West.

‘Powerful magnet’

“In the minds of supporters in the US, EU, North Africa, and elsewhere, the appeal of the Islamic State has not dissipated with its territorial losses. For some, the group remains a powerful magnet that attracts violence and a sense of belonging,” the US-based Soufan security analysis group said recently.

It is possible that the group’s losses in Mosul and elsewhere “could lead to an increase in external support, and a corresponding increase in the threat of terrorism around the world,” it added.

While IS may now find it harder to launch complex operations such as the Paris attacks, Western governments fear an increase in attacks by individuals who are merely inspired by the group.

“We are probably in a phase with fewer spectacular operations but more individual acts, with inspiration coming through from the Internet,” said Didier Le Bret, who was France’s national intelligence coordinator until September this year.

French authorities, for example, suspect a French-born IS propagandist, Rachid Kassim, guided an attack in July in which an elderly priest was murdered. Kassim, who is thought to be based in Syria, used the encrypted message system Telegram.

Another growing threat is the return of foreign fighters to their countries of origin as IS’s territory shrinks.

Joby Warrick, the American journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize this year for his book Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, believes 40,000 foreigners have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight.

He told AFP some will come home and try to resume normal lives. “Others will be, perhaps, these Trojan horse-type figures, ones that will be interested in carrying out terrorist attacks,” he said.

The challenge for law enforcement and for intelligence agencies would be “to separate those that have terrorist ambitions from the ones who just want to get on with regular lives, and perhaps be helpful, in the sense that they can counter the ISIS message,” Warrick said.

Le Bret meanwhile said regardless of its military defeats “IS retains its main strength — weakening our society from the inside”.

The group has proven adept at exploiting social divisions in France, where both the Paris attacks and the assault on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 hardened attitudes in some quarters towards the Muslim community.

And the jihadists have also sought to destabilise North African countries such as Tunisia, believing that weakening their economies is the best way to create new supporters.

WebMajor organisational changes at Tata Sons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tata Sons on Friday announced some major organisational changes amidst the ongoing spat between the group and ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry.Less than two weeks after the boardroom war broke out on October 24, the Group has brought in a new management structure, as promised by Interim Chairman Ratan Tata in his letter to group employees. It had disbanded the Group Executive Council (GEC) instituted by Mistry.On Thursday, DNA Money had reported that the Tata Group is all set to put in place a new management structure for the $100 billion (in combined annual revenue) salt-to-software conglomerate. The report had also said that brand custodian Mukund Rajan, and former Titan COO, Harish Bhat, who were earlier part of the now-disbanded GEC, would be offered fresh roles in the new structure.According to a media communiqué from the Tata Group, Rajan will continue to be responsible for ethics and sustainability, and will take additional responsibility of overseeing the operations of the overseas representative offices of Tata Sons in the US, Singapore, Dubai and China. Harish Bhat, in addition to his responsibilities for Marketing and Customer Centricity, will, henceforth, be responsible for managing the Tata Brand as well. In the interim, he will oversee the functions of Strategy and Business Development.S Padmanabhan, who currently heads the Tata Business Excellence Group, will also oversee the group’s human resources (HR) responsibilities. Gopichand Katragadda will continue to be the Group Chief Technology Officer, said the communiqué. Sanjay Singh will oversee Public Affairs out of the Delhi office.The statement also said Nirmalya Kumar, NS Rajan and Madhu Kannan have decided to explore options outside Tata Sons and have left the company.On October 24, Ratan Tata had written to employees that “a new management structure is being put in place”, with a selection committee formed to find a new Chairman. Meanwhile, on Friday, journalists and photographers, who were outside the Bombay House, the headquarters of the Tata Group, were assaulted during an altercation with the company’s security guards. Several journalists had assembled outside Bombay House to report on the scheduled board meeting of Indian Hotels Company, a Tata Group company. A Tata Sons spokesperson later apologised for the incident.

China not against India’s entry in NSG: Envoy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China on Friday sought to dispel the view that it was against India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”The notion that China is against India’s entry into NSG is not right. India and China are working together in this regard,” Consul General of China in Kolkata, Zhanwu Ma said. “Entry of any country into the Nuclear Suppliers Group needs certain procedures which are to be followed. It is not that simple,” Ma told reporters here.Asked about China’s stand on Indo-Pak relations, he said his country was neutral. “China is very friendly towards India. Some people do not seem to believe so. Of course, we have differences. But the shared interests outweigh the differences,” the Chinese Consul General said, adding the business relations between the two countries were mutually beneficial.”So far India’s relation with Pakistan is concerned, China’s position is neutral. India and Pakistan should settle the impasse via negotiations only,” he added.

Credibility biggest challenge facing media: PM Modi at journalism awards

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that credibility is the biggest challenge for media in the age of technology and it is important for media establishments to maintain it.

Speaking after giving away the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards organised by The Indian Express, he said earlier people with certain training and qualification came to journalism but today anybody with a mobile phone can click a picture and upload it.

“People now have a lot of news. In this context, maintaining credibility is a big issue and the biggest demand of time,” he said.

In a lighter vein, the Prime Minister said while media had full freedom to comment on everything and everybody, it does not like others’ views on it.

A file photo of PM Modi. PTIA file photo of PM Modi. PTI

A file photo of PM Modi. PTI

Tongue-in-cheek, he said he must be the only privileged politician after Independence to have got so much of media
attention and he is eternally grateful to it.

Setting two important matters before the media, Modi said he does not have any issue with the government being criticised by the media but there should be no mistake in reporting. National unity, he added, should be the priority as India is a diverse country.

“Any compromise is a news for you and you move on to the next news but such a compromise leaves behind deep wounds. We (politicians) may be making more mistakes than you but please strengthen forces of national unity.

He also pitched for a world-class Indian media organisation to propagate the country’s view strongly across the globe and cited current debate on environment and global warming. He said such an organisation should not belong to the government.

He said all big countries are working for having a strong media voice at the global level and for India it is an opportunity as well as a challenge.

Awards were given to journalists in print, TV and digital media in various disciplines.

Viveck Goenka, Chairman and Managing Director of the Express Group in his welcome address said that apart from these awards, the group would also be giving a new award to district-level officers for making a positive impact on governance.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Terrorists mutilate body of soldier in Kupwara; Pak violates ceasefire again; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Kupwara; terrorists mutilate body of Indian soldierOne terrorist was also killed in the gunbattle, army said. Read more.2. Pakistan violates ceasefire in Kathua sector of J&K; BSF retaliatesThe latest violation comes in the wake of a “barbaric” incident in which terrorists crossed the LoC and killed an Indian army jawan. Read more.3. Hillary Clinton presidential campaign hit by FBI email probe 11 days before electionFBI Director James Comey said in a letter to several congressional Republicans that the agency had learned of the existence of emails that appeared to be pertinent to its investigation. Read more.4. Cyrus Mistry denies Tata Group’s claim on Welspun BuySacked chairman Cyrus Mistry denied the group’s claim that the board was not properly consulted on Tata Power’s buy of Welspun Power. Read more.5. Aamir Khan’s double Diwali bashOne party to bring in festive season and the other to celebrate response to Dangal trailer. Read more.

Pak says it will attend Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan in Amritsar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Friday said it will attend the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan to be held in Amritsar in December but has not decided on the “manner and level” of participation, a day after India welcomed Islamabad’s decision to take part in the meet.”The Heart of Asia Conference is aimed at bringing development in Afghanistan with the collaboration of other regional countries, which is in line with Pakistan’s commitment of supporting all efforts towards peace and stability in Afghanistan. We will be attending the conference,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafess Zakaria said during his weekly briefing. The spokesman, however, did not specify the manner and level of Pakistan’s participation in the meet that comes amidst rising tensions and loss of life due to heavy firing across the Line of Control (LoC).”However, the decision on the level and manner of participation in the Heart of Asia Conference is yet to be taken,” he said.On Thursday in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup has welcomed Pakistan’s participation at the meet to be held on December 4. To another question, he said that the expelled Indian staffer at the Indian High Commission was involved in activities that were directly against the national security interests of Pakistan.”Unlike India, which has no proof but it keeps levelling baseless accusations against Pakistan, we have irrefutable proof of Indian state involvement in activities against Pakistan’s territorial integrity and national security,” he said.Commenting on reported comments of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said that India might be pushed to a war with Pakistan if the latter continues its support to terrorism, Zakaria said that in the past too, Indian politicians have cast aspersions on Pakistan and have used this as a tool in domestic politics.”We see the current political debate about Pakistan in India, in the same backdrop as also its desperation to deflect the world attention from its atrocities in Kashmir. The timing and pattern of heating up LoC by India are suggestive. Pakistan condemns such crass attempts to malign it,” he said.He also said that the 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver has helped India to embark on a nuclear buildup and increase its military nuclear programme and lamented that the waiver was granted without requiring India to make “any worthwhile non-proliferation commitments”.When asked to comment on a report by a Pakistani think-tank that India can produce a maximum of 356-492 nuclear weapons, Zakaria said, “Pakistan has long maintained that India’s rapidly expanding military nuclear programme poses a grave threat to peace and stability in the region and beyond.””These concerns have been fully validated by publicly available reports on significant upcoming fissile material facilities and build up of unsafeguarded weapon usable fissile material in India,” he said.”This buildup has been facilitated by the 2008 NSG waiver granted to India, which not only dented the credibility of the non-proliferation regime and undermined its efficacy, but also negatively affected the strategic balance in South Asia. It was unfortunate that the NSG did not require India to make any worthwhile non-proliferation commitments at the time.” He said that another country-specific exemption by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the membership question would only further exacerbate the ill effects of the 2008 exemption.”It remains our hope that the NSG member states would make a well-considered decision this time keeping in view its long- term implications for the global non-proliferation regime as well as strategic stability in our region,” he said. He blamed India for engaging in terror activities in Pakistan and said that Islamabad was working on dossiers based on confession of an alleged Indian agent.”We have irrefutable evidence of that. We have also shared with you many times that the investigations after the arrest of Kulbushan Jadhav is ongoing and the dossier is being compiled. As soon as the time is propitious, we will submit the dossier to the concerned, particularly the UN Secretary General,” he said.

Cyrus Mistry is right: The Nano is dying, and Ratan Tata ought to dump it

It is difficult to see Ratan Tata, or even the Tatas, emerging from the Cyrus Mistry affair without serious dents to their credibility. In his five-page letter to the Tata Sons board, Mistry has levelled many allegations, including poor business judgment on foreign acquisitions, and fraud in some cases. But the part that will do the most damage to Ratan Tata personally is where Mistry debunks the Nano car project, and casts doubts about the viability of the group’s investments in AirAsia and Air Vistara, the last being a full service airline venture between the Tatas the Singapore Airlines.

It is undisputed that the Nano was Ratan Tata’s dream “Rs 1 lakh car”. It was created as a cheap alternative to unsafe two-wheeler rides. It is also clear that aviation has been Tata’s personal passion.

Tata NanoTata Nano

Tata Nano

It is all right for promoters to indulge their passions, and many billion dollar businesses have been built by entrepreneurs staking their all in their passions. But in the Tata case, the money did not come from Ratan Tata’s personal kitty, but the group’s. And this raises a question-mark over whether Ratan Tata overawed his various boards by pushing his pet passions against the weight of down-to-earth business logic.

Mistry had this to say about the Nano project: “The Nano product development concept called for a car below Rs 1 lakh, but the costs were always above this. This product has consistently lost money, peaking at Rs 1,000 crore. As there is no line of sight to profitability for the Nano, any turnaround strategy for the company requires (the group) to shut it down. Emotional reasons alone have kept us away from this crucial decision. Another challenge in shutting down Nano is that it would stop the supply of the Nano-gliders to an entity that makes electric cars and in which Mr Tata has a stake.”

There is little doubt that the Nano is a failure despite being a breakthrough idea that has touched off global interest in “frugal engineering”. The successful Renault Kwid is one such car triggered by the Nano idea. Also the Hyundai Eon. The Tata Nano failed for several reasons: Indians do want “affordable” products, but that does not translate to “cheap”. The Nano got labelled as a knocked-down car with downmarket implications, and it did not meet any aspirational need. Few people wanted a car that may have compromised on essentials. This is why, despite several attempts to revive the Nano project (with the launch of the Nano Twist and subsequent versions, including the GenX which had automatic transmission), the car clearly has not lived up to its promise.

A bad product always carries with it the tag of failure, and the only sensible decision is to scrap it and take the losses on the chin. But, as Mistry has alleged, the project is being kept afloat primarily because it is emotionally linked to Ratan Tata, and no one wants to kill it for that reason. Does no one in the group have the courage to tell it like it is to the boss? Worse, Mistry alleges that the Nano may be kept afloat because Tata has a business interest in another company that uses Nano gliders. The last point may not be relevant, but the Nano’s continued existence shows Tata as someone who has a vested interested in a failed product for non-business reasons.

The Nano cannot be rescued, and even if the Tatas want to persist with the idea of an affordable car, they will need to develop a completely new platform and junk the Nano brand. It cannot be revived.

Investments in another Ratan Tata passion – aviation – are one of a piece with the Nano folly. Like his predecessor, JRD Tata, Ratan has been fascinated with aviation. Previous efforts to invest in an airline along with Singapore Airlines failed in the 1990s when the incumbents ganged up to ensure that the policy effectively blocked new entrants. So when the field was opened up to foreign investment after the failure of Kingfisher, Tata jumped in. Not just in one airline, but two, and both by apparently pressuring the Tata Sons board to buy into his passions, as alleged by Mistry.

One need not assume that these investments are flawed, for, after all, IndiGo has demonstrated that airlines can be run profitably with the right strategy, but there is no gainsaying the fact that it will be a long haul.

The moral of Mistry’s blast against the Nano and Tatas’ aviation investments is simple: promoter passions cannot dictate business decisions. Passions ought to be privately funded. This is what Ratan Tata has been doing post his retirement as Tata Sons Chairman in 2012.

New Zealand PM John Key arrives in India, to hold talks with PM Modi on Wednesday

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold talks on Wednesday with his New Zealand counterpart John Key, who arrived on a three-day India visit on Tuesday, during which he is likely to seek Wellington’s support for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

New Zealand PM John Key arrives in India. PTI

New Zealand PM John Key arrives in India. PTI

New Zealand was one of the countries that took the stand at the last NSG plenary in South Korea in June that no exception can be made in the case of India, a non-NPT country, while considering its membership bid of the elite group that regulates trade in atomic material. At the plenary, despite strong US support, China had blocked India’s bid on the ground that it was a not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Ahead of Key’s visit, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India will tell New Zealand it had “all the credentials” to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and that it would strengthen the NPT regime. “We believe that we have all the credentials to be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and we hope that at the end of the day the 48 member grouping will see the logic of India’s entry because it will only strengthen the global non-proliferation regime,” Swarup had said.

Key, who was scheduled to arrive in Mumbai on Monday, cancelled that leg of his tour, due to a technical problem in his aircraft. Apart from Delhi, where Key will hold extensive talks with Modi on key bilateral issues and call on President Pranab Mukherjee, besides attending a business summit, he will also travel to Kochi on Thursday.

In Kochi, he and his delegation will undertake a short tour of the new Cochin International Terminal and the work undertaken by the New Zealand company, Glidepath. Key will be accompanied by members of New Zealand Parliament Mark Mitchell, Chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, MP. He had last visited India in 2011.

Cyrus Mistry ouster: How the Tatas diminished themselves with the chairman coup

When it came to the crunch, the name probably mattered as much as anything else.

In the messy exit of Cyrus Mistry as chairman of Tata Sons, it is still not clear why he had to leave through a boardroom coup rather than being given a graceful exit when his initial term ended. His exit may have a lot to do with the fact that he didn’t carry the Tata name — one of the only two chairmen in the group’s long history to not do so. The other non-Tata to head the group was Sir Nowroji Saklatwala from 1932-38, a forgotten era.

Mistry’s premature removal saw the re-entry of the same man who brought him in: Ratan Tata. And that is the ultimate irony. Tata bid goodbye when he turned 75, as that was the age limit set by him in order to see off the troublesome satraps he inherited from his predecessor, JRD Tata’s tenure. He returns at the ripe old age of 79. Perhaps, the group needs a Tata to head it for some more time, till it moves to an even keel. But it did not cover itself with glory in the way it saw off Mistry.

File image of Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry. AFP

File image of Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry. AFP

When JRD was asked who he would choose as his successor, he was actually spoilt for choice between Russi Mody, Sumant Moolgaokar and Nani Palkhivala — among other super-achievers. But JRD told India Today in an interview that it would help if the group head bore the Tata name. That’s how Ratan Tata got the top job.

But it was a great choice, for only someone with the Tata name could have had the gumption to go after the satrapies in the flagship companies of Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Chemicals and Indian Hotels, headed by the redoubtable Russi Mody, Sumant Moolgaokar, Darbari Seth and Ajit Kerkar respectively. Under Ratan, the group became a true conglomerate. Earlier, the companies were linked less by shareholding, and more by the satraps’ personal regard for JRD. Ratan packed off the satraps by imposing an age limit on their active tenures, and the Tata name ensured that the group’s key holding company, Tata Sons, majority owned by several Tata trusts, stood by him in this difficult fight for supremacy.

But the same age limit that helped him consolidate his control also ensured that he himself was honour-bound to bid goodbye when he turned 75. A high-profile search committee ended up recommending the name of Cyrus Mistry, of the Pallonji Mistry Group, and Ratan went along with that name.

It could not have worked without Ratan’s active blessings and backing, and that is what Mistry seems to have lacked, especially over the last one year.

Why didn’t it work out? One hears all kinds of reasons, including some that indicated that Mistry’s values were not in conformity with those of the Tata group. There were also murmurs that some of his decisions – to sell off parts of the Corus group, or to let the split with DoCoMo end up in court – may not have gone down well with the major shareholders.

But these whispers are unlikely to be the real reasons for Mistry’s exit for the real issue was his ability to assert himself as the group’s boss at a time when it was in choppy waters.

There is nothing on record to show that Mistry has done badly, given that most of the group’s problems predated his arrival. When he took over in December 2012, many of the key Tata companies were overloaded with debt and facing global and domestic headwinds. The Tata Corus acquisition handed down by Ratan was bleeding red; the power sector was in trouble as Tata Power’s import-based coal plant at Mundra was in trouble after Indonesia clamped duties on exports; the Tata DoCoMo deal negotiated during Ratan Tata’s regime was coming unstuck; Tata’s own passionate car dreams were going up in flames, with both the Nano and the Indica hitting the skids. With the economy tapering down under the mismanagement of UPA-2, the Tata Group was staggering under debt and costly investment mistakes. But for the cash spewed by Tata Consultancy Services, and the fortuitous Jaguar Land Rover acquisition just in time for a China-led boom, the group as a whole would have been in deep, deep trouble.

Perhaps the only thing you can hold against Mistry is that he was slow in moving ahead with the drastic changes he needed to make. But this could be because he had to gain the confidence of the CEOs of group companies. While the decision to sell Tata Steel’s UK assets was needed to bring down the group’s debts, a decision was also taken to sell Tata Chemicals’ fertiliser unit at Babrala.

In fact, it was only last month that he gave his first-ever detailed interview, and that too to a group publication, Mistry opened up on his plans for the group. Among other things, he said the group would now take “hard decisions on pruning the portfolio” as it faced “challenging situations” in some of its businesses.

He said in that interview:

“The group has invested Rs 415,000 crore ($79 billion) in capex over the last decade. Our investment over the last three years alone has been in excess of Rs 170,000 crore ($28 billion). We recognise that growth has to be a function of the operating cash flows we generate. At the group level, over the last three years, our operating cash flows have grown by over 30 percent CAGR; but this, as we know, is not the appropriate way to use such data – our individual companies need to earn the right to grow. At the group level, we are focused on helping our companies earn this right by building strong operational cash flows and looking at their capital structures.”

Is it possible that Mistry’s move to tell each Tata company to earn its capital may have infuriated many of the CEOs drowning in debt?

In the interview, Mistry had this to say:

“Over the last three years, the gross debt across the group has increased by about 2 percent per annum in US dollar terms, while cash and equivalents have grown at over 10 percent, leading to a reduction of 3.3 percent in net debt in the same period. As of March 2016, the group had a net debt of about $24.5 billion. Capex has been on average $9 billion in each of the last three years. In the financial year 2016, cash from operations reached $9 billion a year and exceeded the capex. At the group level, therefore, the aggregate debt is not something I feel concerned about. In fact, such aggregations at the group level could mislead, as the companies which have high cash generation, capex and debt are not all necessarily the same, and resources of different companies are not fungible with one another, as they are distinct legal entities with different shareholders.”

Effectively, Mistry was saying that the group’s flagships had to take care of the bulk of their debts themselves, and that the group cannot always operate on an aggregated basis. This meant Tata Steel, Tata Power or Tata Teleservices, all upto their necks in debt, would have had to find ways to fend for themselves.

In effect, they would have had to downsize.

It is not difficult to surmise that the bosses of these companies, always treated as first among equals in the group, would not have taken kindly to this advice. It is also more than likely that Ratan may have lent them an attentive ear, assuming these tales reached him. That the debt was incurred largely during Tata’s tenure cannot be understated. Mistry was essentially trying to undo his excesses.

If we assume that Mistry’s correctives were unpalatable to the new satraps, the short-term return of Tata to the helm was only to be expected. No one barring Ratan Tata has the stature to pull off the deep surgery that the group requires.

Mistry’s fault – perhaps the main one – was that he could not do what was needed quickly. But this begs the question: could he have moved any quicker when he needed time to build trust with his senior executives so that he could assert himself? No outsider has the kind of advantage that the Tata name carries.

The closest Mistry came to admitting that things were not moving fast enough was when he said the following: “Tata as a business group, when compared with private equity firms, has distinct advantages as well as some drawbacks. From a nurturing perspective, the Tata brand, developed over 15 decades, adds huge value to our companies. This also makes exits more difficult as the Tata group has a deeper commitment to stakeholders and the brand cannot be transferred.”

That this interview now seems to have disappeared from the Tata.com site tells its own story. Mistry seems to have become a non-person overnight.

It is a pity that Mistry is being made a scapegoat for something he was not responsible for.

Perhaps the next chairman of Tata Sons will be someone whom the Tata Trusts and Ratan Tata trust fully.

But the group has lost a lot of its credibility in doing what it did to Cyrus Mistry.

Mistry’s exit has diminished the Tata name.

New Zealand PM arrives in Delhi, to hold talks with PM Modi tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold talks on Wednesday with his New Zealand counterpart John Key, who arrived on a three-day India visit on Tuesday, during which he is likely to seek Wellington’s support for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).New Zealand was one of the countries that took the stand at the last NSG plenary in South Korea in June that no exception can be made in the case of India, a non-NPT country, while considering its membership bid of the elite group that regulates trade in atomic material. At the plenary, despite strong US support, China had blocked India’s bid on the ground that it was a not a signatory to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty.Ahead of Key’s visit, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India will tell New Zealand it had “all the credentials” to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and that it would strengthen the NPT regime. “We believe that we have all the credentials to be a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and we hope that at the end of the day the 48 member grouping will see the logic of India’s entry because it will only strengthen the global non- proliferation regime,” Swarup had said.Key, who was scheduled to arrive in Mumbai on Monday, cancelled that leg of his tour, due to a technical problem in his aircraft.Apart from Delhi, where Key will hold extensive talks with PM Modi on key bilateral issues and call on President Pranab Mukherjee, besides attending a business summit, he will also travel to Kochi on Thursday. In Kochi, he and his delegation will undertake a short tour of the new Cochin International Terminal and the work undertaken by the New Zealand company, Glidepath.Key will be accompanied by members of New Zealand Parliament Mark Mitchell, Chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee and Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, MP. He had last visited India in 2011.

Defence Ministry will rectify discrepancies in ranks of armed forces personnel: Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said the ministry would check if ranks of armed forces personnel have changed vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, and any discrepancies would be rectified in a week.

A circular issued by the Defence Ministry, dated 18 October, on rank equivalence between defence officers and armed forces headquarters (AFHQ), and civil service officers brings the rank of armed forces officers a notch down compared to earlier status.

File image of union minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File image of union minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

According to the circular, a Major General in the army and equivalent – which will be Rear Admiral in the navy and Air Vice Marshal in the air force – will be equal to a principal director in the civil service ranks at AFHQ.

A Brigadier in the army, and equivalents – Commodore in the navy and Air Commodore in the air force – will be equal to a director, and a Colonel in the Army – Captain in the navy and Group Captain in the air force – will be equal to a joint director in the civil service.

Earlier, a Colonel was equated with a director, Brigadier was treated at par with a deputy director-general, and a Major General was treated as equivalent of a joint secretary.

Parrikar, however, said that the classifications do not reflect the status, but are related to “functional responsibilities”, and added that it is being studied.

The minister also said if any discrepancy is found, it will be removed in a week.

“If there are any discrepancies, we will get them corrected in a week,” Parrikar said.

“Those (classifications) are only for functional responsibilities… These are not status..,” he said when asked about the circular bringing armed forces ranks down as compared to civilian employees.

Parrikar said he has sought details about the letter and also older letters referring to the subject issued in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

“I have already asked for exact status… I have asked them to give me all those orders… I will see if I find any reduction in functional responsibility,” he said.

The minister also said that some lacuna may always appear as the ministry is dealing with a large number of serving and retired servicemen, and added that the intent of the government should be noted.

“What should be taken note of is whether the government is ready to act quickly or not… For example, when 7th Pay (Commission) order was issued, there was one such comparison, a small paragraph, when brought to my notice we got it removed,” he said.

“That means government is very sensitive. When you are handling 25 lakh pensioners and 20 lakh armed forces, there are certain areas of lacuna and difficulties created, this government is very sensitive to such issues.”

Parrikar said, “The moment they are brought out I have acted on them. Difficulties, when they become public discussion, I cannot be a party to the discussion.”

Ratan Tata not keen on Cyrus Mistry from the beginning? Seeds of Tatas-Pallonjis discord sown years back

New Delhi – The morning after initiating a boardroom coup and returning to Tata Sons as Chairman, Ratan Tata is chairing a meeting with CEOs of all group companies at Bombay House on Tuesday. At this meeting, three prominent people are conspicuous by their absence. Sources close to the Tatas told Firstpost N S Rajan, Nirmalya Kumar and Madhu Kannan, members of the erstwhile Group Executive Council (GEC), have not been invited.

Cyrus Mistry.AP.Cyrus Mistry.AP.

Cyrus Mistry.AP.

Remember, these three gentlemen were the nominees of ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry on GEC and seen to be close to him – the remaining two GEC members, Mukund Rajan and Harish Bhat – are participants in Tuesday’s meeting with Tata. Now that the GEC has been disbanded and Mistry ousted unceremoniously, these two Tata loyalists are expected to be given new roles in the group.

The finesse with which the entire boardroom drama was engineered on Monday has caught the attention of everyone at home and abroad. According to sources, Ratan Tata met each member of the Tata Sons’ board individually prior to Monday’s momentous board meeting. Though there had been murmurs about Tata being unhappy with Mistry’s style of functioning, no one really anticipated such a devastating strike by Tata, known to be a courteous man and one who upholds the principle of fairness. Why was Cyrus Mistry not given the mandatory 15-day notice period before resigning, and sacked instead, is still a matter of debate in India Inc this morning.

From what we have been able to piece together from Tata group veterans, a clash of ideologies seems to be the primary reason for deep unhappiness within the Tata group over Mistry’s style of functioning. It seems the GEC which Mistry formed after taking over the reins from Ratan Tata in 2012, had been under constant fire from Ratan Tata himself over the last few months.

Some of the most critical decisions for the group like the NTT DoCoMo fiasco or the acquisition of Welspun by Tata Power were seen as poor choices by Mistry and his men.

“To put it simply, the GEC was witnessing a severe clash between the working styles of the old and the new generation. Many recent decisions taken were questionable,” said a group veteran.

But recent business decisions apart, it seems the two sides – the Tata family and the Shapoorji Pallonji family – had little trust between them. The Shapoorji Pallonji family holds about 18% stake in Tata Sons and scion Cyrus was chosen as the first non-Tata chairman of the group in 2012. A Tata Group veteran went so far as to allege that Mistry’s appointment itself was a cleverly orchestrated event and that even then, Tata was more in favour of appointing half brother Noel Tata as Chairman. There is no way of checking out these assertions though.

“The choice even then was between appointing two members of the Shapoorji Pallonji family – Cyrus was the son, Noel the son-in-law. Not much of a choice really,” said this Tata group veteran. It is another matter that the selection of chairman took months, was done by a selection committee where Mistry and Ratan Tata were both members.

Anyway, this mistrust between the two most significant shareholders of Tata Sons, sources say, dates back to the 1920s when FE Dinshaw lent about Rs 2 crore to bail out Tata Steel and Tata Hydro. By 1930s, Dinshaw’s debt got converted to equity of 12.5% in Tata Sons, according to this graphic published in the Business Standard newspaper.

“This conversion of loan into equity is what nailed the coffin. No one expected the debt to be actually converted into equity since it was given in good faith. Shapoorji Pallonji later bought Dinshaw’s 12.5% stake from his heirs”.

And the share steadily climbed to about 18% now. The BS story says “the weight and might of the 18 per cent stake in Tata Sons inherited by Cyrus Mistry’s father Pallonji Shapoorji played a key role in him trumping international competition to take up the corner office in Bombay House. This stake will come into play again if things turn less friendly between the Mistrys and their fellow shareholders”.

Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust, which between them own 66 percent in Tata Sons, are headed by Ratan Tata.

A Tata group veteran pointed out that a lot of what was being pinned to Cyrus Mistry as his failures was actually legacy. “Look at the Corus buyout and the fracas with NTT DoCoMo or even the underwhelming performance of Tata Teleservices. All these were inherited by Mistry, not his creation. So it would be wrong to pin the blame entirely on him for all that was going wrong with the Tata group,” he said.

This widely quoted article in The Economist, which seems prescient now, aptly counted out Mistry’s challenges and also wondered when he will get off the “lumbering pachyderm”.

But it also comments on the “expansionist” strategy of Ratan Tata, which increased the group’s revenues from around $6 billion to $100 billion over two decades but also dented returns in some parts of its business. And notes that just one jewel in the Tata crown, TCS, accounted for over 80% of the group’s total profits last year.

There is much that is not right with the Tata group, be it complicated cross holdings, the bureaucratic structure which permeates group companies and struggling companies such as Tata Teleservices, the domestic automobile business etc. Not all has been due to Mistry’s four-year stint and not all of this will be corrected in any short time span, who ever succeeds Mistry to the corner office at Bombay House.

DNA Morning Must Reads: At least 60 killed in Pak police academy attack; Cyrus’ exit from Tata Group; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Pakistan: At least 44 killed, over 100 injured in attack on police academy in QuettaThe attack on a police training academy in Pakistan’s Quetta city came to a bloody end as all three militants were killed during a battle with security forces. Read more.2. Why Cyrus is a mystery in Tata Group coup?From decision to sell assets, aggressive approach, iron-hand style, underperformance of group companies, to his inability to take the group to a higher level, reasons for Cyrus Mistry’s exit is everybody’s guess. Read more.3. Yadav vs Yadav: Political foes count gains and losses in UP as SP crumblesSP’s rivals –BSP and BJP– have started counting their gains and losses.4, Women deal with break-ups better than men: Anushka SharmaAnushka Sharma on films, friendship, life, love, relationships and more…. Read more.5. Dhoni to play Vijay Hazare Trophy, to bat more at No 4India’s limiter-overs captain said he is keen to play more limited-overs matches to keep himself match-fit and the domestic tournament will be helpful in this regard. Read more.

Cyrus Mistry removed as Tata Sons chairman, Ratan Tata returns in interim

Tata Sons today replaced Cyrus P Mistry as chairman of Tata Sons and brought in former chief Ratan Tata as interim chairman.

The decision was taken at a board meeting held today, according to press release issued by the group.

The board has constituted a selection committee to choose a new chairman.

The committee comprises Ratan Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, as per the criteria in the articles of association of Tata Sons. The committee has been mandated to complete the selection process in four months.

CyrusMistry_RatanTata_AFPCyrusMistry_RatanTata_AFP

Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry in a file photo. AFP

Mistry had recently said that he is “not embarrassed” to admit that exits for the group, which has exited over 40 businesses in 20 years, are usually the last resort and the conglomerate does not take decisions about exiting through a “short-term financial lens”.

Mistry had then cited the turnaround and growth of Tatas’ jewelery brand Tanishq and its IT arm Tata Consultancy Services as examples “within the group where persistence and a long-term perspective have paid off.”

“And as we push the boundaries, there will always be failures, and we must expect these as part of our entrepreneurial model. Of course, critics could argue we could have been more aggressive with our exists and they most probably would be right if we were to take all our decisions through a short-term financial lens,” Mistry said here last week.

Mistry was the sixth group chairman of the Tata group. He was appointed as the Chairman of the Tata Sons board in December 2012. He has been a director of the company since 2006.

In addition to being group chairman, Mistry was also the chairman of leading Tata group companies including Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power Company, The Indian Hotels Company, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Tata Industries and Tata Teleservices.

Mistry was earlier managing director of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group. Under his leadership, Shapoorji Pallonji’s construction business grew into a billion-dollar enterprise, evolving from pure-play construction to execution of complex projects in the marine, oil and gas, and rail sectors, across a number of international geographies.

Mistry graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Imperial College, London, UK, in 1990. In 1997, he received an MSc in management from the London Business School. He is a recipient of the ‘Alumni Achievement Award’ from the London Business School, and is a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London.

With PTI

Greenpeace seeks US intervention after coming under scrutiny of Modi govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Environmental groups like Greenpeace and other international NGOs working in India had sought US government intervention after their funding came under increased scrutiny of the Modi government, according to emails released by the Wikileaks. The emails hacked from the email account of John Podesta, who is the chairman of the Clinton Campaign also indicates the global funding links of these NGOs, including those environmental groups opposing a massive mining project in Australia being undertaken by the Adani Group.”Adani is very close to (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi — so this will be a delicate diplomatic challenge,” Sergio Knaebel, grant director of the Sandler Foundation, wrote in an email to Podesta on May 27, 2015, months after he left the White House to be the Chairman of the Clinton Foundation.Based out of San Francisco, the Sandler Foundation till 2015 had charitable grants of more than $ 750 million to various NGOs globally working in areas like environmental protection, labour, education, and human rights. The Sandler Foundation among other things have funded the Sunrise Project, which is opposing Adani’s $ 21.7 billion mine project in Australia.”The situation for NGOs in Australia is also getting pretty serious. The Abbot government has set its sights on organisations fighting the expansion of coal and for protecting the reef — and is looking to withdraw charitable status and out foreign donours in an effort to cast the NGO’s work as foreign intervention. Same playbook as India (and Canada),” Knaebel wrote in an email to Podesta.Podesta did not make any commitment, but forwarded to Knaebel a series of email exchanges he had with Karen Sack from Ocean Unite, another environmental group. Sack is currently the managing director of Washington- based Ocean Unite.Before joining Ocean Unite, she was senior director for International Oceans at The Pew Charitable Trusts where she helped initiate the Global Ocean Commission. Before that, she was the Head of Greenpeace International’s Political and Business Unit and the Head of their international oceans campaign.”What’s going on in India is concerning. There are some interesting linkages between the coal industry there and in Australia,” Sack wrote on May 27, 2015.”Adani the coal billionaire from India is the person who plans to invest in building a coal port just near the Great Barrier Reef which has people up in arms down under. The fascinating thing is that some of the big banks are refusing to invest in the port development project because of the potential risks to investors from the uncertainty,” she told Podesta in the email.A day earlier, she sought the help of Podesta on the issue of Greenpeace asserting that because of the Indian government action it is on the verge of being closed.”I have had a request from some colleagues at Greenpeace as they are facing a very serious situation in India,” Sack wrote.”In a nutshell: an Indian Intelligence Bureau report was ‘leaked’ alleging Greenpeace India was responsible for a loss of 2-3 per cent of the country’s GDP. Since then the Ministry of Home Affairs has kept up a relentless attack of allegations of irregularities in their registration and has now frozen all their bank accounts, both foreign and domestic, despite a Delhi High Court ruling there was no basis for doing so,” she said.”The bottom line is that without some kind of intervention, they will have to close down by the end of June. This has never happened to a Greenpeace office in the entire history of the organisation,” Sack wrote.In the email, Sack said that Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace’s International Executive Director from November 2009 until December 2015, was planning to get in touch with him on this issue.”Kumi Naidoo was hoping to speak with you or to get advice on who might be able to help behind the scenes explaining to people close to the Prime Minister that their campaigns are about the issues of clean air and clean water and not personal and their office should not be forced to close because they have a different vision of India’s future,” Sack said.”Apparently, The Podesta Group has the contract for the Republic of India in the US, but Kumi has no way to reach Tony or another principal,” Sack said.Podesta did not make any commitment but did say he would be happy to connect the two. “Happy to put Kumi in touch with Tony, but the list of people similarly situated seems to be growing,” Podesta wrote in his email indicating that GreenPeace is not the only NGO facing the problem in India. Tony Podesta is the brother of John Podesta.Podesta Group is one of the two lobbying firms for the Indian government since 2010. It received $ 700,000 per annum for its lobbying activists on behalf of the Indian government.

Getting behind the lens

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Bollywood may be a so-called “privileged” field for the aspiring few in it, this does not deter other youth from trying their hand at the profession. There many who are studying or are just out of college, who are fascinated with film-making. To support this art form along with the overwhelming amount of young talent, we have Film Festivals provide both a push and the platform to showcase their talent.Here’s a short list of a few students who fit this bill:TEAM NOSTALGIATY: MUMBAIFrom a team of seven enthusiastic students, of at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai is Raashi Mètkari who assumes the role of cinematograher, Avinash Nongrum who takes care of production, Nilesh Chawhan who acts, Rahul Agarwal who is the assistant director, Simran Cherayil, a Production Manager, Mignonne D’souza who is the content head and Vivashwan Chaudhary who edits, writes and directs. The group worked on a film called “Year 2027”, which focused on water problems which could arise in the near future. “We researched and gathered a few statistics about water problems and then went out to shoot,” says Vivashwan. Participating in the Anvaya Film Festival, the Film won the place for Best Film.It was purely their love for filmmaking and the appreciation recieved for their work which kept them going. According to Vivashwan, among the many difficulties faced by college students who have a passion for making films is that of college projects and exams. Still, they continue to make short films such as “The Postmaster – A tale of incomplete letters” which was aired on Saam television last week to their utter delight.TEAM: ATRANGI THEATRE COMPANY: MUMBAITeam Atrangi Theatre CompanyLike their name the Atrangi Group participated in the India Film Project and were mandated to do a “sarcastic drama”. A team of 4, headed by Abirudh Kamble, an MBA student, made a short film called “Loan”. The story is of a young man loses his job and seeks refuge in his friends. Soon he gets a call from a bank offering him a loan of a few lakhs. Taking the opportunity he takes the loan and sets off on a journey fullfilling his “wish-list”. Although the story ends in suicide the team chose to parody it, rather than treat it with a sense of depression.TEAM NERDBOY: DELHITeam NerdboyThe Nerdboyis a team consisting of three students from St. Stephens College in Delhi. Kevin Missal, Ayush Dogra,Sanjeev Sikri who are pusuing their Bachelors in Arts have produced a short film called “Cracked “. The love story personifies the feeling of “being on top of the world”. When they sent the film to the India Film Project, a 50hour film-making competition they didn’t win. “We did not lose hope, we liked the film so much that we were happy that we made it.” says Ayush Dogra . The group continues to make films out of passion, which is the primary driving force.TEAM: IGNITED MIND ARTWORKSTeam Ignited Mind ArtworksA 14person complexity, it’s headed by Sudhanshu Saxena the director, who started his journey in what he calls “the rat race which is the educational system”. While in college he worked in ADD films and other commercial videos to generate income to fund his films. “I never chose fim-making, it chose me. Engineering was never my thing” says Sudhamnshu. He has the backing of a whole team who supports him by taking care of make-up, hair and other aesthetics while they shoot. The team refused to choose any one particular film as their best, however if had to pick one which was their favoriate, it would be “Smile” which depicted the problems of the woman at home when her man goes to work.

Aircel-Maxis case: Dayanidhi Maran refutes claims of pressurising Sivasankaran to sell stakes

New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Thursday refuted before a special court CBI’s claim that he had pressurised a Chennai-based telecom promoter to sell his stakes in Aircel to a Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006.

While arguing on framing of charges against him in the Aircel-Maxis case, the former union minister claimed that during the time period in which the alleged crime was committed, as claimed by the CBI, Chennai-based businessman C Sivasankaran was in talks with several other companies to sell his stakes in Aircel.

File image of Dayanidhi maran. AFP

File image of Dayanidhi maran. AFP

“There is no reason why I would try to facilitate a business transaction, which may even attract criminal charge, which was not even embryonic at that time. “Allegations against me are that I am trying to help in Aircel and Maxis business. Am I facilitating a deal which was non-existent,” the ex-minister’s counsel argued before Special Judge OP Saini.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Dayanidhi, said there were initial talks in 2004 with regard to this business. “Then Aircel tried to do business with several other companies and it was only in October 2005, the business transaction between Aircel and Maxis was finalised,” the counsel said.

CBI has claimed that Dayanidhi pressurised Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Maxis Group.
The agency had also claimed that the politician had forced Sivasankaran to sell his three companies to Malaysia’s Maxis Communication Berhad, also an accused in the case. The arguments on the point of framing charges remained inconclusive.

The court had earlier held it had the jurisdiction to try the matter against Dayanidhi Maran, Kalanithi Maran and others as the Aircel- Maxis deal “fairly and squarely falls within the description of 2G scam”.

The court’s order on jurisdiction issue had come as it dismissed the pleas of the Maran brothers and other accused challenging jurisdiction of the special 2G court to try two cases filed by CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the Airce-Maxis deal, claiming that these matters did not directly or indirectly fall into the category of 2G spectrum cases.

CBI had filed charge sheet against the Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall, T Ananda Krishnan, M/s Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd, M/s Astro All Asia Networks Plc, UK, M/s Maxis Communications Berhad, Malaysia, and M/s South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd, Malaysia and then Additional Secretary(Telecommunication) late Dr JS Sarma.

They were chargesheeted for the offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. All the accused persons have also moved bail pleas which are pending before the court.

The court had on 24 September, issued open warrants of arrest against Krishnan and Marshall on CBI’s plea stating that summons issued to them could not be served. The court had also ordered that the trial against Maran brothers and two accused companies be segregated from that of those based in Malaysia – Krishnan, Marshall, and two firms, Astro All Asia Network PLC and Maxis Communication Berhad, saying their appearance may take a long time which may lead to a delay in the proceedings.

Breaking through India’s glass ceiling

How can more women break through India’s glass ceiling to take on senior and board level roles?

Essar Oil-Rosneft deal: Why it is a lost opportunity for Indian companies

India’s debt-laden Essar Group confirmed on Saturday that it has agreed to sell a 98 percent interest in its Essar Oil unit to a consortium led by Russia’s Rosneft, giving the energy giant a gateway into the world’s fastest growing fuel market.

The deal will see Rosneft, along with its partners Trafigura and United Capital Partners (UCP), pay $10.9 billion for Essar’s refining and retail assets. Separately, $2 billion will be paid toward the acquisition of the Vadinar port in the western state of Gujarat, along with certain import and export facilities.

Here are all the key facts about the deal:

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

What are the key aspects of the deal?

The deal will give Rosneft a 49 percent stake in Essar Oil, with 49 percent being split equally between Trafigura and UCP. It has been carefully structured to avoid falling foul of western sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis. According to a Reuters report, Rosneft will not get a controlling stake, partly because of sanctions.

The all-cash deal will give Rosneft and its partners control of Essar’s 20 million tonne refinery in Gujarat, and its retail fuel outlets in India, where growth for refined petroleum goods in the next five years is expected to be in the 5 percent to 7 percent range.

It is also the biggest foreign acquisition ever in India and Russia’s largest outbound deal, according to Thomson Reuters data.

How will the deal impact Rosneft and Trafigura?

According to Chief Executive Igor Sechin, the deal gives Rosneft entry into one of the most promising and fast-growing world markets. It gives “unique opportunities for synergies” with its existing assets. Separately, Rosneft said it would use Venezuelan crude to supply the Vadinar refinery.

According to Vandana Hari, energy sector analyst, the deal is a feather in the cap of Rosneft and Trafigura. “Given that the purchase gives them control of the entire downstream business of Essar Oil, the companies are getting a relatively new and sophisticated refinery and retail network, which will continue to play a critical role in serving a fast-growing captive market at home, besides being well-placed to compete in the export markets,” she said.

Hari reckons that at a Nelson complexity index of 11.8, the 20 million mt/ year Vadinar refinery is capable of turning the dirtiest of crudes into high-quality Euro IV and V-grade refined products, assuring it relatively healthy refining margins.

How will it impact Essar?

The Essar group, with a presence in oil and gas, steel, ports and power, has been under pressure from its lenders to reduce its debt burden. The group, according to this report in Baron’s Asia, has loans Rs 1.2 lakh crore debt. The deal will be help the group reduce its debt burden by Rs 75,000 crore, Essar director Prashant Ruia has told The Business Standard.

Apart from this, the group’s assets will reduce by 30 percent with this deal and revenue by $10 billion to $17 billion, Ruia has told the BS.

The group will now focus more on its other businesses such as steel and ports, says a report in The Economic Times.

Why are Indian banks happier than Ruias, Rosneft, Trafigura and UCP?

Indian banks’ stressed assets stands at Rs 8 lakh crore. Of this, five sectors, namely steel, power, teelcom, infrastructure and textiles, account for 61 percent. Banks have a mandate to clean up their balance sheets by March 2017 and have been pushing debt-laden companies to sell assets to repay loans.

Essar’s debt has been one of the highest and the development has to be seen in this context. Welcoming to the development, Chanda Kochhar of ICICI Bank said, “This deal is also a significant step in the process of deleveraging the balance sheets of Indian corporates. ICICI Bank has been closely working with various companies including the Essar Group to help them deleverage their stressed balance sheets. We will continue working towards this objective with others.”

However, IDBI Bank’s MD Kishor Kharat has been more measured in his reaction because as part of the deal the debt of Essar Oil will now become Trafigura or Rosneft’s. “That is why I am saying that we need to understand how they are going to structure it entirely because if it is all cash deal and they are going to settle the lenders, it will be a different situation but if it is only the equities taken and then all debts are going to be transferred to new buyers, promoters, perhaps the situation will be different,” he told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.

But did Indian Inc lose out?

As Kochhar of ICICI Bank says, the deal definitely means Indian energy sector is attractive. But that also means Indian companies lost out on a golden opportunity. “While the deal makes good sense for the buyers and the Ruias, who will now be able to pay off a substantial part of the Essar Group debt, I think India Inc. looses. The country is essentially going to allow some foreign companies to profit from its downstream oil industry growth story,” says Vandana Hari.

Why could that opportunity not have been exploited by the Indian refiners? she asks.

Data contribution by Kishor Kadam

With inputs from Reuters

Mumbai International Airport operations to be hit from Tuesday to November end

Mumbai: Passengers flying in and out of the nation’s financial capital should brace for long delays from Tuesday till the end of November as the only runway of the nation’s second busiest airport will be shut for five hours for repair work.

Last time the airport, operated by the GVK Group, was shut for similar repair work in November 2010. Months after the spanking new terminal-T2 over Rs 12,000-crore was opened in February. Operations will be partly hit between October 18 and 31 for four hours between 1200 hrs and 1600 hrs for seven days on alternate days, as the main runway (Runway No 09-27) will be closed for surface repair. But the secondary runway (14-32) will be open during these hours, a MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Ltd) official told PTI.

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. PTIChhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. PTI

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. PTI

But operations will be completely shut for five hours from 1200 hrs to 1700 hrs in the second phase beginning 31 October through 28 November as both the main and the secondary runways will be closed, the official said, adding this is needed as the repair work involves inter-section work.

In total between 31 October and 28 November, both the runways will be closed for five hours on Mondays and Thursdays, while in the first phase the main runway will be closed for four hours on seven days, the official said. In total, the impact will be for nine days in November in the second phase of closure.

Notably, the second busiest airport in the country, Mumbai International Airport has only one runway (as one-third of the airport land is occupied by slum squatters), yet it manages around 50 flights during peak hours, making it one of the most efficient airports in the world in terms of aircraft handling.

On an average, the city airport handles over 800 flights a day. Against this the Delhi airport, with three runways handles around 78 flights during peak hours. “The runways — 09-27 main and 14-32 — will remain closed between 1200 hrs and 1700 hrs on Mondays and Thursdays till 28 November, to conduct ‘preventive runway surface work’, a technology to fill in gaps on the runway,” MIAL had said in an earlier statement last month wherein it advised airlines to reschedule their operations.

Willing to discuss ‘possibilities’ with India on Nuclear Suppliers Group, says China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China is willing to discuss ‘possibilities’ with India on its bid to become a fully fledged member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, holding out an olive branch ahead of a summit in IndiaIndia last month said it had held ‘substantive’ talks with China on its attempt to join the NSG, a 48-member grouping of countries that trades in civil nuclear technology.Prime Minister Narendra Modi is campaigning to join the NSG to back a multi-billion-dollar drive to build nuclear power plants in partnership with Russia, the United States and France, and reduce India’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels.Yet his bid to win accession to the group, founded in response to India’s first atomic weapons test in 1974, has failed to win over strategic rival China, which enjoys a de facto veto because it operates by consensus.Speaking to reporters ahead of a visit to India this week by Chinese President Xi Jinping for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging nations, Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said new NSG members needed to be agreed upon by all existing members.”These rules were not set by China,” Li said.”On the issue of joining the NSG, China and India have all along had very good communications, and (China) is willing to have further communications with the Indian side, to increase consensus,” he said.”On this, China is willing to jointly explore all kinds of possibilities with India, but this must accord with the charter of the NSG, and certain rules need to be respected by all sides,” Li said, without elaborating.The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognises the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – as nuclear weapons powers but not others.India has ruled out signing the NPT but says its track record of non-proliferation should entitle it to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India was granted an NSG waiver in 2008 that allows it to engage in nuclear commerce, but deprives it of a vote in the organisation’s decision making.Backers of India’s NSG bid, who include the United States, hope a deal can be reached despite a setback at the group’s annual meeting in Seoul in June.Xi will also visit Bangladesh and Cambodia on his Asian trip.The BRICS group of emerging nations include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Alibaba Pictures, Amblin to co-produce films for global, Chinese audiences | Reuters

Alibaba Pictures, Amblin to co-produce films for global, Chinese audiences | Reuters

Updated: Oct 9, 2016 19:43 IST

‘);
FB.XFBML.parse();
*/
});

BEIJING Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners and Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd, the film unit of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said on Sunday they will co-produce and finance films for global and Chinese audiences. They will also collaborate on the marketing, distribution and merchandising of Amblin Partner films in China, the companies said in a joint statement. Amblin Partners creates film, television and digital content under the Amblin Entertainment, DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media brands. Big Chinese companies including Dalian Wanda Group Co are looking to bring more Western films and movie-making prowess into China even as they seek to expand their footprint in Hollywood.China’s masses have the ability to keep Hollywood movies afloat, industry watchers say. They expect China to soon surpass the United States as the world’s biggest movie market.This year’s ‘Warcraft’, which was a box office flop in the United States, raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in China, making it one of the country’s highest-grossing films of the year.

“Some of the stories I’m hoping Jack and I can tell in this new partnership between Amblin Partners and Alibaba Pictures will be able to bring Chinese-themed stories to the American audience, and we can do co-productions between our company and your company,” Spielberg said at a briefing in Beijing. “And we can bring more of China to America, and bring some more of America to China.”Hong Kong-listed Alibaba Pictures has yet to release any films, although the company formerly known as ChinaVision Media Group Ltd has several projects in production.

Alibaba Pictures began investing in Hollywood films in 2015 with its stake in ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’. It was an investor in this year’s blockbusters ‘Star Trek Beyond’ and ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group paid about $800 million for a controlling stake in ChinaVision Media in 2014. Under the terms of the partnership, Alibaba Pictures will also acquire a minority stake in Amblin Partners, which is chaired by Spielberg, the award-winning U.S. movie director and producer.

Dalian Wanda, the conglomerate controlled by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, is partnering with Sony Pictures under which Wanda will market Sony Pictures’ films and co-finance some upcoming movie releases of Sony Corp’s film unit in China.In January, Wanda paid $3.5 billion for a controlling stake in U.S. film studio Legendary Entertainment. The group has also since said it would start co-investing in global blockbusters next year.”I heard a lot of people say the movie industries are dead. I think that’s a lack of imagination,” Ma said at the briefing. “All the cinemas in the future are going to be changed because of technology. So people will definitely have all kinds of experiences watching movies.” (Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Paul Tait and Clelia Oziel)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

MCD, PWD and Delhi government do not work: Vijay Goel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel expressed his unhappiness on Friday over insanitation in the city and alleged that the civic bodies and Delhi government “do not work” to maintain cleanliness. “They do not work. MCD does not work, PWD and Delhi government do not work. It’s such a big system that if everyone does work cleanliness can be maintained,” Goel said at an award function to felicitate persons associated with cleanliness movements in the country.Highlighting the achievements of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Goel said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent across a “message” and now people have started thinking about cleanliness. “The Prime Minister has given a message. People have started thinking about things like littering. Even if you don’t pick up a piece of paper and lodge it in a dustbin you think it should be there,” he said.Emphasising the role of people in realising the dream of clean India, the Minister said that he himself dreamt of a project wherein a special 15-day campaign was launched by all the agencies including MCDs, NDMC, and DDA to make the city clean. Many representatives of NGOs working in the field of sanitation in different parts of the country were felicitated by the Minister during the programme organised by Delhi Study Group.

Ratan Tata tweets: So proud of Indian govt’s firm stand to boycott Saarc Summit

Ratan Tata tweets: So proud of Indian govt’s firm stand to boycott Saarc Summit

‘);
FB.XFBML.parse();
*/
});

New Delhi – Leading industrialist Ratan Tata commended the government’s decision to boycott the Saarc Summit in the wake of Uri attacks.

Ratan Tata. AFPRatan Tata. AFP

Ratan Tata. AFP

“So proud of Indian govt’s firm stand on bycot of SARC mtg & overwhelming support by member nations (sic),” Tata tweeted.

The tweet by Tata Group Chairman Emeritus received nearly 10,000 likes and was re-tweeted more than 6,400 times.

Amid heightened tension with Pakistan over Uri terror attack in which 18 jawans were killed, India had announced its decision to pull out of the Summit late last night citing increased “cross-border” attacks.

Apart from India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan have also pulled out of the Saarc Summit in Islamabad to be held in November, indirectly blaming Pakistan for creating an environment which is not right for the successful holding of the meet, resulting in its collapse.

Chhattisgarh: Three naxals killed in separate incidents

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three naxals were on Saturday gunned down by security forces at separate places in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar division.While two cadres were killed in the Bastar district, another was eliminated in Bijapur, police said. In Bastar, the skirmish took place early on Saturday morning in restive Sanguel forest under Burgum police station area between a joint team of security personnel and ultras, Bastar Superintendent of Police, R N Dash told PTI.”There was input from local informers that a group of rebels was heading towards Bastanar valley after crossing Indravati river to receive a top maoist leader. The same information was also with the state intelligence branch,” he said. Acting on the inputs, a composite squad comprising District Reserve Group (DRG), Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and district force launched an anti-naxal operation in the region, located around 400 kms from here.Security forces confronted the Maoists in the forests near Sanguel village following which a heavy gun-battle broke out. The exchange of fire lasted for about an hour after which rebels escaped to core forest, he said.”During searches of the area, bodies of two male Maoists, a 12 bore rifle and one SBML (single barrel muzzle loading) gun besides several other items were recovered from the spot,” Dash said. The seized items include explosives, detonators, pipe bombs, codex wire, bags, magazine pouch, battery, electric wire and others, he added.”As per preliminary information, the naxals group reportedly belonged to Barsur Area Committee of Maoists and the same squad with which police had another exchange of firing in August last month,” he said, adding that the identity of the killed ultras was being ascertained.

KCR and Chandrababu Naidu claim PV Sindhu but she belongs to India, not a state

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu proved she is the Indian queen of the badminton court with her stellar performance in Rio but now she is being dragged into an equally competitive battle, off-court. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the two Telugu-speaking states that are daggers drawn on most issues after a bitter divorce in 2014, are now seeing red over the shuttler. Both claim ownership over Sindhu, calling her “mana ammayi” (our girl).

The twist in the tale is that Sindhu, thanks to her parents — former India volleyball players PV Ramana and P Vijaya — belongs to both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Ramana hails from Nirmal in Adilabad district of Telangana while Vijaya is from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, who spent her growing up years in Madras (now Chennai).

To ensure ownership over ‘Sindhustan’, Sindhu, in the last 24 hours, has been showered with all the sarkaari goodies possible. Andhra Pradesh was first off the blocks with the cabinet announcing a cash reward of Rs 3 crore to Sindhu. A plot of 1,000 square yards in Amaravati, the dream capital that chief minister Chandrababu Naidu is building and a Group-1 officer post in the Andhra government is also part of the package. The choice of post and department has been left for Sindhu to decide.

Coach Pullela Gopichand will be awarded Rs 50 lakh and also land in Amaravati for setting up an academy. Naidu plans to organise a lavish reception for the duo, where Sindhu’s Andhra roots will be emphasised.

K Chandrashekhar Rao, N Chandrababu Naidu and PV Sindhu

K Chandrasekhar Rao, N Chandrababu Naidu and PV Sindhu

In the game of political one-upmanship between the two chief ministers, K Chandrasekhar Rao, decided to dip more into his kitty. Telangana announced a cash prize of Rs 5 crore, plot of land in Hyderabad and a Group 1 level officer job as well. The Hyderabad Badminton Association will gift her a BMW car while Gopichand will be awarded Rs one crore. On Monday, the badminton star will be welcomed at the Hyderabad airport and taken to the stadium in a procession for a formal reception.

To ensure that Sindhu is recognised as a Telangana koothuru (daughter of Telangana), her pictures of participating in Bonalu, a festival indigenous to Telangana before she left for Rio, have been widely circulated. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) too has claimed credit for Sindhu, saying she was part of the summer camp for beginners in 2005. Its press note boasted: “GHMC paved the way for the Olympic journey of Sindhu”.

To ensure the job offers that are falling into Sindhu’s lap do not tempt her, her present employer, Bharat Petroleum has announced a cash reward of Rs 75 lakh and promoted her to the post of deputy manager.

But while the two states claim copyright, it has worked out well for Sindhu financially. Naidu and KCR can compete to score brownie points but at the end of the day, she is India’s daughter.

The fight is over Gopichand as well. He is an Andhra boy, hailing from Prakasam district and Naidu, when he was the Chief Minister of an united Andhra in 2003, was instrumental in allotting him 5 acres of land to set up the badminton academy in Hyderabad. But the division and his geographical location in Hyderabad meant that Gopichand now is the secretary of the Badminton Association of Telangana.

A lot has indeed changed in four years. In sharp contrast to the financial bonanza that is now being showered on Sindhu, a cash prize of just Rs 50 lakh was announced by the then Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy to London 2012 bronze medallist Saina Nehwal. In fact, even that amount was not released and in July 2014, Saina tweeted to Telangana minister K T Rama Rao to help her get the cash prize. It was only then that on August 15 that year, Saina received her due.

Saina was also caught between two states. The state where she was born, Haryana tried to woo Saina over to its side by offering her the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police in Haryana police in 2010. Perhaps realising that a danda, instead of a racquet, would look awkward in her hands, Saina declined the offer.

Another ugly fallout of the Sindhu success story is that a campaign has started on social media, asking the Telangana government to replace Sania Mirza as the state’s brand ambassador with PV Sindhu.

Member who blocked India’s entry into NSG will be held accountable: US

New Delhi: A week after India failed to get entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) due to China-led opposition, the US on Wednesday said one country can break consensus in the atomic trading bloc and insisted that such member should be held accountable.

US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon asserted that the US is committed to ensuring India’s entry into the NSG while expressing “regret” that Washington was unsuccessful in making India a member of the bloc in its pleanary in Seoul last week.

Representational image. News 18

Representational image. News 18

“We understand that in a consensus-based organisation, one country can break consensus. But in order to do so it must be (held) accountable not isolated.

“I think what we need to do going forward is, for both of us India and the US, sit down and take a call what happened in the Seoul, take a close look at the diplomatic process which is significant and see what more we can do and how we can ensure that next time we are successful,” he said during an interactive session at the Foreign Service Institute.

Calling India an “anchor of stability” in the Asia Pacifc region, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon also said what China was doing in South China Sea is “madness” and it wants New Delhi to play a major role in the Indian Ocean.

Shannon said managing the rise of China was a major challenge and that the US wants to work with India to have a strong and comprehensive presence in the Indian Ocean.

Describing India a responsible and important player in the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation, Shannon said, “We are committed to having India join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. We believe that through the kind of work we have done, the civil nuclear agreement, the way India conducted itself, it is worthy of this.”

On India’s NSG bid, he said the US would continue to work for India’s inclusion in the group.

Shannon, who met Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar earlier in the day, said India’s recent entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) highlighted that the country is a “responsible and important player in the road to non-proliferation.”

“We regret, in Seoul we and India, were unable to open space necessary to allow India to move into the NSG at this moment,” he said.

When asked whether he thinks India will ratify the Paris climate deal before Obama administration’s tenure got over and, at the same time, it will become a member of the NSG, he said “I hope so”.

He said India has given a commitment to ratify the climate deal.

Shannon said that Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation was a very important symbol of friendship between the two countries.

“Just a few weeks ago, President Obama and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi welcomed the start of preparatory work on a site in Andhra Pradesh for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by an American company.

“This is expected to provide jobs in both countries and bring clean, reliable electricity that will help meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.

© 2020 Yuva Sai Sagar. Theme by Anders Norén.