Sunday, February 28, 2010

BJP demands Srikrishna panel visit Telangana

The Andhra Pradesh unit of BJP on Sunday demanded that the members of Justice Srikrishna Committee visit villages in Telangana districts of Andhra Pradesh.
The five-member committee constituted by the Centre to examine demand for a separate state of Telangana and as well as the demand of unified Andhra Pradesh is scheduled to visit Hyderabad in the first week of March to hold consultations with various parties and organisations on the issue.
The people of Telangana region have been demanding for a separate state and they support the BJP, which is the only party openly supporting the people’s wish, state BJP chief and former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya told reporters here.
Just visiting Hyderabad and having consultations will not serve any purpose and let members of the Srikrishna panel visit the villages, he said.
Mr. Dattatreya said there is need for a political solution to the issue and Telangana statehood could not be achieved by the Srikrishna committee.
Referring to price rise of essential commodities, the BJP leader said the party would launch a signature campaign against the Centre and state governments for failing to curb price rise.

March against price rise on March 12: Karat

The general secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) Prakash Karat has said his party would organize a mass march to New Delhi in association with other Left parties on March 12 to protest against the unprecedented rise in prices and the wrong policies of the Central government.
Inaugurating the birth centenary celebrations of veteran Communist leader late E.M.S. Namboodiripad at Pattambi near here on Sunday, Mr. Karat said the Centre has given a tax concession of Rs.80,000 crore to the corporate sector in the Budget which represents just five per cent of the country’s population.
Instead of giving tax concessions to the corporate sector, the Government should tax them to mobilize funds for taking up welfare measures for the poor sections of the society, the CPI (M) general secretary said.
He asked the Central government and private sector companies to lift the ban on recruitment of employees.
He said the government should implement land reforms and distribute land to all landless agriculture workers and other poor sections of people.
He said Left parties have an alternative economic policy which is against surrendering the country’s interests to the U.S. and other imperialist forces.
He said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatheeya Janata Party (BJP) are trying to create communal division to further their political interest. Some from the minority communities are playing into the hands of militant organizations, he said.
The meeting was presided over by CPI(M) district secretary P. Unni. It was addressed by A. Vijayaraghavan, M.B. Rajesh (both MPs), M. Chandran, MLA, C.T. Krishnan, former MLA, among others.

Online CAT results announced

The results of the much-anticipated Common Admission Test, the qualifying examination for admission to the elite Indian Institutes of Management, are out. However, like every year, students are already experiencing difficulties in accessing their score cards due to "server issues".
The results, which were declared early on Sunday morning, can be accessed on, the official website of all the IIMs. The score card contains candidates scores, both absolute (out of 450) and percentile. The CAT is the first of two stage admission process to the IIMs' flagship two-year post-graduate programmes (PGP) in management. The second stage comprises Group Discussions/Essay Writing and Personal Interviews.
To retrieve their scorecards, candidates may use their CAT 2009 Register Numbers and email IDs, as it appears on their hall tickets. For those who are unable to do so, due to lack of sufficient details, the Prometric helpline (1 800 103 9293) will available, according to an announcement on the website.
The results, first slated to be released in the first week of January and then in mid-February, are well behind schedule. Roughly 2.4 lakh candidates took the exam this year. The seven IIMs located at Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Bangalore, Kolkata, Indore and Shillong will put up separate lists of shortlisted candidates, who will qualify for the second stage that comprises group discussion/ essay writing and personal interview. By Sunday afternoon only IIM Shillong and Ahmedabad had put up their lists. Over 120 other B-schools across the country also use these scores as a yardstick for admissions.
This year's CAT, the first computer-based CAT, was held over a 10-day window in November-December 2009, and then again in January for those whose tests were rescheduled due to technical glitches. The scorecard thus far does not explain any anomalies or queries students may have regarding how a comparative percentile can be determined for 12 different set of questions.Curiously, the score card has marked them out of 450 for a test that comprised 60 questions, spread over three sections that carry equal weightage.

India won the match by 4-1 against Pakistan

In World Cup Hockey  2010 India won the match by 4-1 against Pakistan in  their 1st match

Man of the Match : Sandeep Singh

Engalnd beat Australia in Hockey World Cup Second Match by 3-2

Engalnd beat Australia in Hockey World Cup Second Match by 3-2.

Spain beat S.Africa in Hockey World Cup opener by 4-2

Olympic silver medalist Spain recovered from a slow start to beat South Africa 4-2 in the opening match of the men’s Hockey World Cup that began on Sunday under tight security.

World Cup kicks off amidst unimaginable security

The 12th hockey World Cup goes on stage on Sunday amidst unimaginable security, organisational glitches and misgivings about the Indian team's performance.
“It is like a circus,” commented an exasperated official of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Friday. Compelled as he was to literally run from pillar to post not knowing who is responsible for what, with too many power centres hovering, he nevertheless was optimistic that the hockey on view would be soothing to the nerves.
There is more anguish than anger in the higher echelons of the FIH over the necessity to conduct the greatest show in the sport ringed by layers of armed, machine gun-toting security personnel. This is an enduring curse of modern sport. Hockey is no exception. 

The pools: Pool A: Argentina, Canada, Germany, Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand. Pool B: Australia, England, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain.
Sunday's matches: Spain vs. South Africa (4.35 p.m.); Australia vs. England (6.35 p.m.); India vs. Pakistan (8.35 p.m.).

3 Idiots shines at Filmfare Awards

3 Idiots made a clean sweep at the 55th Idea Filmfare awards by winning most of the popular choice awards, followed by Firaaq, Dev D and Paa

And the Black Lady goes to...

Popular Awards

Best Film: Vidhu Vinod Chopra for 3 Idiots
Rekha handed over the award to the 3 Idiots team including Maddy, Omi, Boman, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani.

Best Director: Rajkumar Hirani for 3 Idiots
Rajkumar Hirani received the award from Ramesh Sippy.

Best Actor in Leading Role (Male): Amitabh Bachchan for Paa
In his absence Vidya Balan received the award. Vishal Bhardwaj on stage said, "Diye ko ujaala dikhaane jaisa hai.”

Best Actor in Leading Role (Female): Vidya Balan for Paa
Sri Devi and Boney kapoor presented the award to the lovely lady.

Best Supporting Actor (Male): Boman Irani for 3 Idiots
Bipasha Basu and Ramesh Taurani were there on stage to present the award.

Best Supporting Actor (Female): Kalki Koechlin for Dev D
Neil Mukesh and Kunal Kohli gave the award to Kalki. She thanked everyone from the Dev D team and ended the speech by saying, “I also want to thank the most important person in my life, Anurag Kashyap.”

Best Debutante Director (Male): Ayan Mukherjee for Wake Up Sid
Deepika Padukone and Idea head honcho presented the award. Meanwhile, Karan Johar tweets, “I feel like a proud parent.”

Best Debutante Director (Female): Zoya Akhtar for Luck By Chance
Javed Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar presented the award to Zoya, making the moment more special for her.

Best Dialogue: Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra for 3 idiots
Minissha Lamba presented the Best Dialogue Award. Vidhu Vinod Chopra is a happy man today, 3 Idiots has won three awards so far, but he is hungry for more.

Best Screenplay: Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi for 3 Idiots
Urmila Matondkar and Abbas-Mastan presented the award to the duo.

Best Story: Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani for 3 Idiots
Genelia D'Souza and Harman Baweja gave the award.

Filmfare Critics Award

Best Film: Firaaq
Nandita Das won the Critics Best Film Award for her directorial debut Firaaq.

Best Actor (Female): Mahi Gill, Dev D
Mahie Gill won the Best Actress Award (Critics) for her debut film Dev D

Best Actor (Male): Ranbir Kapoor
Ranbir got the award for his consistently outstanding performances in 2009.

Filmfare Music Awards

Best Music: A R Rahman for Delhi 6
Kajol and Tabu gave away the award to Rahman. It’s his 25th Filmfare award.

Best Lyrics: Irshad Kamil for 'Aaj Din Chaddya' (Love Aaj Kal)
Prateik Babbar, Jonty Rhodes and Mugdha Godse presented the award.

Best Playback Singer (Female): Rekha Bharadwaj for Genda Phool (Delhi 6) and Kavita Seth for Iktara (Wake Up Sid)
Madhavan and Shahana Goswami presented the award.

Best Playback Singer (Male): Mohit Chauhan for Masakalli (Delhi 6)
Celina Jaitley and Chunky Pandey gave away the black lady to Mohit.

RD Burman Music Award: Amit Trivedi
Anu Malik and Sherlyn Chopra presented the award to Amit. After receiving the award he said, "I dedicate this award to my mother. This is the greatest achievement for any musician.”

Yamma, Yamma.. Shashi gets Lifetime Achievement Award!

Shashi Kapoor received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Shabana Azmi, Yash Chopra, while the song ‘Yamma Yamma’ from the evergreen movie Shaan played in the background. Shabana spoke a few words about Mr Kapoor, who in return only said ‘Thank You.” Shashi Kapoor holding and posing with his Lifetime Achievement Award trophy while sitting on a wheelchair was truly touching. He was accompanied by daughter Sanjana.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Khayyam
Asha Bhosle presented the award to the renowned music composer. Recalling his fond memories Khayyam saab said, “I started my career as an assistant music director with B R Chopra at the salary of Rs 125. So I dedicate all this success to him.” Asha Bhosle added, “I credit my ghazal singing and urdu to Khayyam saab”.

Nandita Das gets a Special Award for her film Firaaq

Filmfare Technical Awards:

Best Visual Effects: Kaminey

Best Choreography Award: Bosco-Ceasar, 'Chor Bazaari' from Love Aaj Kal

Best Production Design: Helen & Sukant for Dev D

Best Action: Vijayan Master for Wanted
With his hands around the black lady, Vijayan said, “I dedicate this award to Boney Kapoor and my hero Salman Khan.”

Best Sound Design: Manas Chaudhury for Firaaq

Best Editing: Sreekar Prasad for Firaaq

Best Cinematographer: Rajeev Ravi for Dev D
Anurag Kashyap received the award on his behalf.

Best Costume Design: Vaishali Menon for Firaaq

Best Background Score: Amit Trivedi for Dev D
Kabir Bedi and Mukesh Bhatt presented the award.

Amit Trivedi says “I kept very quiet about my work. I would let my work do the talking. This my first Filmfare. I have fallen in love with this Black lady.”

The hosts:

Actress Minissha Lamba tweeted on co-hosts Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan, “Show just started. SRK wearing red glasses that I love on him soooo much. Saif looking so dapper.. Mistook him for an Italian backstage!!”

When Atul Kulkarni went up the stage to present a technical award, SRK pulled his leg saying, “Atul ek smile toh kardo. Itne paise mein itna he milega kya?”. To this Atul smiled and wished a “Hi” to both SRK and Saif.

While hosting, SRK and Saif called Deepika Padukone on stage for an act and while at that, their pants just came off giving full view of their boxer shorts, making it a real funny act at that!

Karan Johar and Siddharth are hosting the show now and SRK introduced K Jo as sexy and gorgeous. To that Karan replied, “With a beautiful ladies like Gauri and Kareena, I am sure SRK and Saif are not getting time to look at other girls and so they are noticing me.’

SRK, Saif salute Sachin
Hosts Shah Rukh and Saif saluted Sachin Tendulkar for his amazing 200 score at the Gauhati ODI against South Africa.

Shruti Haasan and Siddharth takes over from SRK-Saif to host the next set of awards.

Saif turns a chicken!
Saif is back after a costume change. Wearing a white feather outfit, Saif is looking cute, somewhat like a chicken. Next gag is going to be interesting...
In a gag, Saif had an egg hatched on his head. When he and Shah Rukh went to meet Rekha, she reached to hug Saif and he said, “Baby I have this egg on my head.” To this Rekha seductively replied, “Anything for you baby.”

SRK goes Blue!
SRK became a shark from ‘BLUE’ while Saif became masakalli from ‘Delhi-6’ for a skit.

When Bipasha Basu came up to present an award, SRK asked her to do some aerobics and to everyone’s surprise she did do some of the fitness acts with SRK and Saif trying hard to cope up with her.

Saif fills in for Bebo
SRK announced that “here’s presenting Kareena.” Instead of Kareena, beau Saif Ali Khan played the lovely actress by doing a little jig on the song ‘San Sana San’ from the movie Asoka.

The Buzz off-stage...
Jonty Rhodes sitting backstage between two hot Marathi girls - Mugdha Godse and Urmila Matondkar, who were wearing beautiful saris. The two ladies were trying to get very friendly with the South African cricketer while Jonty was blushing non-stop.

Kajol and Urmila are bonding like a house on fire.

Kunal Kapoor should be given an award for the most active member at the Filmfare. He is doing whatever his friends are telling him to do. Be it going out for a smoke, or on the stage and off stage hanging out, choosing their clothes, giving them company for a drink etc. We wonder where the energy is coming from!

Prateik Babbar and Neil Nitin Mukesh have been constantly together like a magnet since they have entered. We are suspecting a new Dostana well.

Shruti Haasan is wearing a strapless gown and she was shivering with the cold due to the powerful A/C at the Yash Raj studio where the 55th Idea Filmfare Awards happened. She asked for a jacket from a friend to keep her warm.

Sizzling Performances...
Riteish Deshmukh and Jacqueline Fernandez, the Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai pair set the stage on fire, with a rocking performance.

A tribute to MJ...
Karan Johar talks about the ‘King of Pop’...Shahid’s performance follows...

Shahid Moonwalked...
When Shahid Kapoor performed a tribute to Michael Jackson the audience went into a frenzy. Shahid did each and every step of MJ including the trademark moonwalk with great ease. He performed on the songs Jam and Smooth Criminal. Farhan Akhtar and Kunal Kapoor looked quite impressed with Shahid’s act.

Biding adieu...
Filmfare also paid tribute to people who passed away last year. Bina Rai, Shakti Samanta, Feroze Khan, Prakash Mehra, Gulshan Kumar Mehta, Simple Kapadia, Joginder, Leela Naidu, Sujit Kumar, Tahir Hussain and Nirmal Pandey.

Red Carpet : The stars started arriving at the appointed hour at the famous Yash Raj Studio, Mumbai. Riteish Desumukh, Sanjay Gadhvi, Shahid Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan were among the first ones to reach the venue.

Divya Dutta, who has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actress Category for Delhi-6, arrives at the red carpet. The stunning lady says, “The competition is really tough. I am looking forward to SRK-Saif's kick-ass chemistry.”

SRK and Saif were spotted rehearsing backstage. SRK looked amazing in his red glasses and Saif exuded cool in his usual trademark bandana, t-shirt and denims.

Kaveeta Seth is nominated in the Best Playback Singer category for the song Iktara from Wake Up Sid. The newbie says, "I am nervous since the competition is with all established singers. But even if I don't win, I would consider being nominated as an achievement".

Imtiaz Ali who has been nominated in the Best Director category for Love Aaj Kal looked pretty chilled out while walking the red carpet with his parents and wife. He says, “I love being at the Filmfare awards. This is a time where all the friends can meet and party after the awards to celebrate each other’s win”

Imtiaz also walked the ramp at the Manish Malhotra’s show at the Filmfare pre-event party that was held on Thursday night.

Other B-Town celebs are also on the way! Minissha Lamba has decided on a hot pink gown and is running late, Dino Morea is also suiting up, and Neil Nitin Mukesh is on his way and remarks, “Let’s pray”! Filmmaker Tarun Mansukhani is rooting for Wake Up Sid director Ayan Mukherji, who is nominated for Best Debut Director and says, “Please pray he wins.... !”

Others in the house are Silencer Omi, the funny man, Simi Garewal wearing a little black with her usual white and yes... the reclusive Shashi Kapoor! The excitement is definitely  building up!

Farhan Akhtar is accompanied by his sister Zoya Akhtar for the ceremony. Farhan’s film ‘Luck By Chance’ has earned several nominations, when we asked him about his chances of winning he said, “I think we have good chance.”

Ayan Mukherjee wants Ranbir Kapoor to win the Best Actor award for Wake Up Sid but he knows Amitabh Bachchan will take that one away for Paa.

Shruti Haasan chose to wear beige colour outfit designed by Christion Dior for the event, but she failed to impress. Shruti will also play the host for a while and says, “I am very excited as this is the first time I will be compering for Filmfare.”

Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar have come in together. Yash Chopra, Padmini Kholapure and Shivangi Kapoor are also at the venue.

Sunidhi Chauhan, who has nominated in the Best singer category for her song ‘Chor Bazaari' from the movie Love Aaj Kal has also arrived. “May the best contender win”, was all she said.

Hottie Sherlyn Chopra who’s attending the filmfare awards for the first time says, “I am looking for Khan and Khan’s (SRK and Saif) double meaning jokes” the lady showed up wearing a gorgeous Black strapless gown.

Mahie Gill is wearing a Black and Golden gown. She is looking very stunning. “I have no idea if I have been nominated for the award. But I am very excited as this is my first Filmfare night.” Nandita Das has just come in with her husband.

SRK who is hosting the event with Saif is really excited and says, “This time we will be poking fun at ourselves rather than the others.”

Karan Johar just can’t stop talking about debutant Director Ayan Mukherjee. “It’s a matter of pride because it belongs to my production house. The film has received several nominations. May the best man win.” Karan who showed up wearing his own creations in association with Varun Bahl, cant wait to see Saif-SRK chemistry revive.

Boman Irani has arrived at the Red carpet. He has a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for 3 idiots.

Man of the moment, Raju Hirani, director of 3 Idiots is in the house. He said, “The award is a celebration for one’s hard work. If you start competition it’s not fun, its unhappy then. Anyway I wish we take away at least 10 awards. We will miss Aamir tonight, but what to do he doesn’t attend award function.” To that Vidhu Vinod Chopra added, “Actually I hope we take as many as our hands can carry.”

Director of Dev D Anurag Kashyap walks in with his girlfriend Kalki Koechlin. Anurag has been nominated in the Best Director category but thinks 3 Idiots will take away the Best Film award. Kalki has also earned a nomination in Best debut actress category. The lovely lady said, “This is my first nomination, I am really, really happy. It is a huge thing for me."

Bollywood divas Deepika Padukone, Celina Jaitly, Sameera Reddy arrive at the venue. Celina Jaitley is looking awesome in her Cavalli gown, she said “I’m definitely rooting for Paa.” Deepika who’s dressed in a black Shantanu-and-Nikhil, is looking one of the best dressed at the event.

Music mogul A R Rahman has just entered.

Tabu who is looking pretty in a Anita Dongre outfit, said she is here to have fun and is not rooting for anyone.

Interestingly, Harman Baweja roots for Priyanka and says “Priyanka will bag the best actress award for Kaminey.”

Urmila walks in with designer Manish Malhotra. Dressed in a green saree by Manish, the lady looks nice.

Lara Dutta, Mahesh Bhupati who are rumoured to be dating, walked in together holding hands. It is their first public appearance together. Lara and Mahesh said, “We are each other’s dates tonight. About whether we are officially seeing each other, you just have to wait and watch.”

The entire Roshan family has just entered. Arjun Rampal has come with his wife.

Dia Mirza slipped into a beige dress by Dress Circle for the event, whereas Mugdha Gode chose to dress in a lavender saree.

Hrithik has come in carrying a Kite in his hands and says that he will promote his forthcoming film Kites at the award night. He said, “Filmfare should give an award to every nominee, not just the winners."

Bollywood diva Rekha has just entered looking stunning as ever in her Golden saree.

Kajol has entered with Tanisha wearing what she says is her Blackberry. About SRK-Saif, Kajol said, “They are crazy and have forced me to come here.”

Bipasha Basu just walked in looking gorgeous in a Black off shoulder gown, minus beau John Abraham. Dino Morea too walked in alone.

Kangana stepped in a white Christian Dior gown and is rooting for everyone because they’re all friends. The actress who took ten minutes flat to get ready said ,”It doesn’t take me more time. I am born beautiful.”

Katrina made her red carpet entry in a Gauri and Nainika gown looking like the starlet she is.

Shilpa Shetty joins Twitter @theshilpashetty

Actor Shilpa Shetty is the latest celebrity to join the micro-blogging website Twitter, which is fast becoming a favourite hangout for Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan.
The 34-year-old, who has her own blog, joined the networking site on Friday. Shetty, who is also the co-owner of IPL team Rajasthan Royals, used the opportunity to promote her team. "Hello Hello i am the newest inclusion to twitterdom! In London now..IPL Jitters kicking in.Launched the new mascot 'Moochu Singh' too cute!! (sic)," the actor wrote.
Shetty was welcomed by filmmaker Karan Johar, an avid tweeter, who had earlier encouraged Arjun Rampal, Ranbir Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan to join the website. "Ok...@theshilpashetty in the house and joins the family...give her love!!!," Johar tweeted.
Other Bollywood celebrities on twitter are Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Mallika Sherawat, Riteish Deshmukh, Preity Zinta, Lara Dutta, Shahid Kapoor and Anupam Kher.

Chile struck by one of strongest earthquakes ever

One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded tore apart houses, bridges and highways in central Chile on Saturday and sent a tsunami racing halfway around the world. Chileans near the epicenter were tossed about as if shaken by a giant, and the head of the emergency agency said authorities believed at least 300 people were dead.
The magnitude-8.8 quake was felt as far away as Sao Paulo in Brazil — 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) to the east. The full extent of damage remained unclear as dozens of aftershocks — one nearly as powerful as Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake — shuddered across the disaster-prone Andean nation.
President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile but said the government had not asked for assistance from other countries. If it does, President Barack Obama said, the United States "will be there." Around the world, leaders echoed his sentiment.
In Chile, newly built apartment buildings slumped and fell. Flames devoured a prison. Millions of people fled into streets darkened by the failure of power lines. The collapse of bridges tossed and crushed cars and trucks, and complicated efforts to reach quake-damaged areas by road.
At least 214 people were killed and 15 were missing as of Saturday evening, Bachelet said in a national address on television. While that remained the official estimate, Carmen Fernandez, head of the National Emergency Agency, said later: "We think the real figure tops 300. And we believe this will continue to grow."
Bachelet also said 1.5 million people had been affected by the quake, and officials in her administration said 500,000 homes were severely damaged.
In Talca, just 65 miles (105 kilometers) from the epicenter, people sleeping in bed suddenly felt like they were flying through major airplane turbulence as their belongings cascaded around them from the shuddering walls at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. EST, 0634 GMT).
A deafening roar rose from the convulsing earth as buildings groaned and clattered. The sound of screams was confused with the crash of plates and windows.
Then the earth stilled, silence returned and a smell of damp dust rose in the streets, where stunned survivors took refuge.
A journalist emerging into the darkened street scattered with downed power lines saw a man, some of his own bones apparently broken, weeping and caressing the hand of a woman who had died in the collapse of a cafe. Two other victims lay dead a few feet (meters) away.
Also near the epicenter was Concepcion, one of the country's largest cities, where a 15-story building collapsed, leaving a few floors intact.
"I was on the 8th floor and all of a sudden I was down here," said Fernando Abarzua, marveling that he escaped with no major injuries. He said a relative was still trapped in the rubble six hours after the quake, "but he keeps shouting, saying he's OK."
Chilean state television reported that 209 inmates escaped from prison in the city of Chillan, near the epicenter, after a fire broke out.
In the capital of Santiago, 200 miles (325 kilometers) to the northeast, the national Fine Arts Museum was badly damaged and an apartment building's two-story parking lot pancaked, smashing about 50 cars whose alarms rang incessantly.
A car dangled from a collapsed overpass while overturned vehicles lay scattered below. "I can now say in all surety that seat belts save lives in automobiles," said Cristian Alcaino, who survived the fall in his car.
While most modern buildings survived, a bell tower collapsed on the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church and several hospitals were evacuated due to damage.
Santiago's airport was closed, with smashed windows, partially collapsed ceilings and destroyed pedestrian walkways in the passenger terminals. The capital's subway was shut as well, and transportation was further limited because hundreds of buses were stuck behind a damaged bridge.
Chile's main seaport, in Valparaiso about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Santiago, was ordered closed while damage was assessed. Two oil refineries shut down, and lines of cars snaked out of service stations across the country as nervous drivers rushed to fill up.
The state-run Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, halted work at two of its mines, although it said it expected them to resume operations quickly, the newspaper La Tercera reported.
President-elect Sebastian Pinera angrily reported seeing some looting while flying over damaged areas. He vowed "to fight with maximum energy looting attempts that I saw with my own eyes."
The jolt set off a tsunami that swamped San Juan Bautista village on Robinson Crusoe Island off Chile, killing at least five people and leaving 11 missing, said Guillermo de la Masa, head of the government emergency bureau for the Valparaiso region. He said the huge waves also damaged several government buildings on the island.
Pedro Forteza, a pilot who frequently flies to the island, said, "The village was destroyed by the waves, including the historic cemetery. I would say that 20 or 30 percent has disappeared."
On the mainland, several huge waves inundated part of the major port city of Talcahuano, near the hard-hit city of Concepcion. A large boat was swept more than a block inland. Pinera flew over the area and said an unspecified number of people had died in Talacahuano.
Waves also flooded hundreds of houses in the town of Vichato, in the BioBio region.
The surge of water raced across the Pacific, setting off alarm sirens in Hawaii, Polynesia and Tonga and prompting warnings across all 53 nations ringing the vast ocean.
Tsunami waves washed across Hawaii, where little damage was reported. The U.S. Navy moved a half-dozen vessels out of Pearl Harbor as a precaution, Navy spokesman Lt. Myers Vasquez said. Shore-side Hilo International Airport was closed. In California, officials said a 3-foot (1-meter) surge in Ventura Harbor pulled loose several navigational buoys.
About 13 million people live in the area where shaking was strong to severe, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. USGS geophysicist Robert Williams said the Chilean quake was hundreds of times more powerful than Haiti's magnitude-7 quake, though it was deeper and cost far fewer lives.
More than 50 aftershocks topped magnitude 5, including one of magnitude 6.9.
A tremor also hit northern Argentina, causing a wall to collapse in Salta, killing an 8-year-old boy and injuring two of his friends, police said. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.3 quake was unrelated to Chile's disaster.
The largest earthquake ever recorded struck the same area of Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 quake killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless. It caused a tsunami that killed people in Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines and caused damage along the west coast of the United States.
Saturday's quake matched a 1906 temblor off the Ecuadorean coast as the seventh-strongest ever recorded in the world.

Japan issues tsunami alert

The Japan Meteorological Agency on Sunday issued a major tsunami alert for its Pacific coast after a powerful earthquake struck Chile, Xinhua reported.
The tsunami alert is issued for the pacific coast of Aomori, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures in northeast Japan. Waves of up to three meters high are expected in the areas and "everyone near the coast must evacuate to higher ground", it said.
The tsunami is also expected to hit Hokkaido and Izu-Ogasawara islands around 1 p.m. followed by other areas, the agency said in a public broadcast.
A magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile Saturday, killing more than 200 people.

Botsa gets praise, brickbats over T

The senior minister, Mr Botsa Satyanarayana’s statement favouring bifurcation of the state has been welcomed by several Telangana leaders including some of his Cabinet colleagues, but has been criticised by leaders from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.
The IT minister, Mr Komatireddy Venkatareddy, the Congress leaders, Mr V. Hanumantha Rao and Dr P. Shanker Rao, the Telangana JAC convenor, Prof. Kodandaram and others have welcomed his statement. They said that leaders and MLAs from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions should accept the facts so that the state could be bifurcated amicably without any agitations and violence.
However Mr Botsa’s remarks angered leaders from non-Telangana regions.
Mr T.G. Venkatesh, the Kurnool Congress MLA and convenor of Rayalaseema Rights Forum, strongly criticised the minister’s statement. “How can he make such a statement without consulting us?” asked Mr Venkatesh.
The Telugu Desam Rajya Sabha member, Dr M.V. Mysoora Reddy, has asked Mr Botsa to resign from the cabinet. Otherwise, the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, should sack him, said the TD leader.
“How can he say that bifurcation alone is the solution, when the Justice Srikrishna panel was asked to ascertain the views of the people,” said Mr Mysoora Reddy.

Dog snatches newborn at Vizag KGH

In a spine-chilling incident, a stray dog entered the labour room of the King George Hospital on Saturday morning and ran away with a newborn baby between its jaws. People chased the dog and saved the baby, but it was found to be dead.
The hospital authorities admitted that the incident was horrific but claimed that the baby was stillborn and was not killed by the dog.
But the parents, Mr Kamal Kumar and Mrs K. Anuradha of Anakapalle, were inconsolable and threatened to sue the hospital for criminal negligence. “My baby was not dead,” said the tearful mother. “It was the dog that killed my child.”
“I cannot believe that such a thing has happened to my child,” said Mr Kamal Kumar, an autorickshaw driver, who was in a state of shock. Mrs Anuradha, who was in her seventh month of pregnancy, was admitted in the hospital on February 6 and gave birth to the child at around 1.30 am on Saturday.
A relative of the couple said that the mother was taken to the general ward at around 3 am but the baby was kept in the labour room.
“When we insisted on seeing the baby, the ayah demanded Rs 500,” said the relative. “We refused and she slammed the door on us. We had to wait outside.”
According to the relative, at around 6 am, people saw a stray dog entering the labour room and running out with the baby. They chased the dog around the hospital campus. Finally, it dropped the baby and scampered away. But the infant was found to be dead. However, hospital officials insisted that the incident occurred when the mother was asleep with the child next to her.
“It was a premature delivery and the child was stillborn,” said the hospital superintendent, Dr G. Santha Rao. “The pathology report confirms this. But I agree that such an incident should never have happened in the hospital. It is mainly because of dereliction of duty.”
The superintendent said that a security guard and sweeper were dismissed while the ayah was suspended and disciplinary action was against the staff nurse. A committee had also been asked to probe the circumstances in which the incident occurred, he added.
Meanwhile, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation swung into action and its dogcatchers trapped as many as 20 dogs from the hospital premises late in the evening.
“I have seen dogs making the rounds of every ward of the hospital,” said Mr Rama Rao, a teacher who witnessed the accident. “This horrible incident shows the irresponsibility of the staff.”

CAT (2009) results will be released today

The results of the Common Admission Test (CAT-2009) for admissions into B-schools will be released on Sunday. The results will be posted on the website by Sunday evening.
The IIMs have been postponing the CAT results for over a month now. CAT, which went online for the first time in November 2009, was marred by frequent technical glitches and the organisers were forced to reschedule the exam in January 2010 for those candidates who could not take the exam.
The results were earlier scheduled to be declared on January 22, but due to the re-scheduling of the test for thousands of candidates, the results got postponed to February 15. To the dismay of over two lakh candidates the results were further postponed by a week. This time, the delay was due to the time taken in uploading the photographs of lakhs of candidates. About 15,000 students from Andhra Pradesh appeared for the CAT-2009.
“I had to take the retest due to technical problems. Now, I am worried if the results would be released properly,” said Ms J. Madhurima, a CAT aspirant.
Once the results are declared, the IIMs will invite shortlisted students for the second phase of admission process. Several other business schools too accept the CAT score.

Chided by mom, girl ends life

Chided by her mother for skipping school, a class IX student committed suicide by hanging herself at her residence here on Saturday. The girl took the extreme step after her mother, a domestic hand, went to work.
Y. Durga, 15, of Afzalsagar, was studying at the Government Girls High School, Nampally. The Habeebnagar SI, Mr V. Venkateshwar, said on Saturday morning Durga’s mother, Samudram, scolded her for skipping school, before going to work. “Durga’s 11-year-old bro-ther Nani found her hanging at around 10 am and alerted the neighbours,” the SI said. Police registered a case under Section 174 CrPC (suspicious death).

Hike in fuel price to make food costlier

Consumers who felt relieved with the prices of essential commodities coming down in the recent past are worried again. Due to the hike in the prices of petroleum products, prices of essential commodities are likely to shoot up again.
Traders say the prices of pulses, rice and other essentials are set to increase in the coming weeks. The Greater Hyderabad Dal Millers and Wholesale Traders’ Association estimates that the hike in diesel prices will impose a burden of Rs 200 per quintal on pulses. This will further go up by the time the product reaches consumers through retailers.
“In the recent past, pulses were available at affordable rates due to an increase in production. The prices are likely to go up again because of the burden of transport charges,” said Mr Rajendra Kimtee, the president of the association.
Currently, red gram is available at Rs 58 per kg in the wholesale markets, black gram costs Rs 66 per ky and green gram Rs 79 per kg. Rice prices, which fell by 25 per cent recently, too are set to go up. The state government’s Rs 2 per kg rice scheme is going to be affected as well.
The APSRTC too is going to feel the pinch. The corporation has to bear an additional burden of Rs 160 crore with the hike in diesel prices.
The RTC, which spends Rs 1,500 crore every year for purchase 55 crore litres of diesel, is anticipating a financial crisis in the days to come. However, the officials have decided not to revise the RTC fares and pass on the burden to commuters.
About five lakh lorry owners too are on a warpath. Lorry owners say they are not in a position to bear an additional burden of Rs 2.5 per litre on diesel. Also, the prices of vehicles, including lorries, will go up with the increase in excise duty. Lorry prices are likely to go up by nearly Rs 50,000. Cost of tyres and spare parts will increase as well.

59 lakh bogus ration cards to be cancelled

Authorities have decided to remove around 59 lakh bogus names from ration cards and are awaiting a final nod from the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah.
A three-phase survey undertaken by different government departments — civil supplies, rural development and education — found 59,15,777 bogus names among beneficiaries of subsidised rations. In many instances the cards did not match proof of photo and address in the records.
This means that around 12.68 per cent of the 4.66 crore ration beneficiaries in the state are spurious.
The civil supplies department has already proposed deletion of 11,37,981 ration cards from the system for various reasons.
Deletions over death, permanent migration and bogus cases have been displayed on notice boards of respective gram panchayats.
Tahsildars and joint collectors have been directed to scrutinise objections on the deletions.
“A final decision in this regard would be taken by the Chief Minister as the deletion of cards might cause a stir among the public,” said a senior
Since the issue is likely to have political implications, the government is likely to take some more time to announce the decision.
“After completion of fourth phase survey by March end, all new enrolments would follow unique identification project standards including fingerprints and iris,” said an official.
The government is evaluating all technology options including biometrics and smart cards.

Two arrested for kidnap, murder of city lawyer Vinnakota Seetarama Kalyan

Two men involved in the kidnap and murder of city lawyer Vinnakota Seetarama Kalyan were arrested.
The superintendent of police, Mr Y. Nagi Reddy, told newsmen here on Saturday that Siva Kumar and his wife Rupa Surya Sri were having some family disputes. As lawyer Kalyan was coming in the way for sorting out the disputes with the family elders, Siva Kumar and his father Kanakaiah conspired to eliminate the lawyer.
Accordingly, Siva Kumar sought the help of his friends including Pranay Kumar, Kalesh, Polameti Pavan Kalyan alias Bablu and Vinay Kranti to arrive in Rajahmundry from Hyderabad and threaten the lawyer not to interfere in the issue. Siva Kumar came to Rajahmundry some 15 days ago and stayed in a lodge to watch the moments of the lawyer.
On February 22, when Kalyan was riding on a motorcycle at Prakash Nagar, he was abducted in a car belonging to Kalesh while Pavan Kalyan and Vinay Kranti trailed them on the bike.
While going in the car, Kalyan was put on sedation with chloroform and as they were on their way to Maredumilli forests, Siva Kumar hit Kalyan with an iron rod on his head and even when Kalyan was struggling, Siva Kumar, with his friend Pranay Kumar, put a belt around his neck as a noose and they also strangulated him with the banian.
As Kalyan died, they dumped the body in a valley at Maredumilli tiger forest. The superintendent of police said that crime circle-inspector Ch V. Rama Rao arrested Siva Kumar’s friends including S. Pranay Kumar and K. Kalesh involved in the murder in Hyderabad in the early hours on Friday and added that for killing Kalyan, Siva Kumar and his father Kanakaiah spent Rs 60,000.
Mr Nagi Reddy also said that they were on the look out for the main culprit Siva Kumar and his father Kanakaiah.

Chiranjeevi demands nationalisation of mines

The Praja Rajyam chief, Mr K. Chiranjeevi, demanded at Chimakurti on Saturday, Rs 10 lakh exgratia each to the kin of those who died in the quarry collapse at Hamsa minerals.
Referring to the deaths as homicide, he held Hamsa Minerals responsible for mishap by violating safety norms at the quarry.
Mr Chiranjeevi said that the owners of Hamsa and adjacent quarries are carrying out digging in the buffer zones. He opined that strict implementation of rules in the quarries will restrict these types of mishaps.
Calling the mines as a national treasure, Mr Chiranjeevi demanded that the Union government take steps for the nationalisation of mines.
Referring to the aid to the kin of victims who lost their lives in the mishap, through quarry management and Quarry Owners’ Association, the PR founder said that the government should bear the responsibility for the accident and provide exgratia as the state is getting royalty from these quarries.
Mr Chiranjeevi demanded judicial enquiry into the quarry collapse apart from stringent action against officials whose negligence claimed 14 lives.
Criticising the officials for the slow pace of debris removal, Mr Chiranjeevi said that family members of victims are waiting to get bodies of their people.
He announced Rs 10,000 aid to the kin of victims by Praja Rajyam.
Earlier, Chiranjeevi accompanied by PR district convenor, Mr M. Srinivas Rao, and other leaders inspected the quarry.
He wandered through the rocks and slippery soil to reach the accident spot and enquired about the mishap from quarry staff.
Mr Chiranjeevi met the minister for mines, geology, textiles and handlooms, Mr B. Srinivas Reddy, transport and Prakasam district in-charge minister, Mr S. Vijayaramaraju, Darsi MLA, Dr B. Siva Prasad Reddy, district Congress Committee president and MLC, Mr P. Rama Rao, at the quarry and enquired about the status of rescue operations.
Later, he went to house of a victim, M Pitchaiah at RL Puram and consoled the family members.

SKU unit to train rural youth to colour movies

The rural unemployed youth in drought-prone Anantapur district will get a chance at ‘colourful’ jobs, as renowned Goldstone Technologies and Trikona technologies under the aegis of Adi foundation jointly came forward to set up training units for the first time in the country in the Sri Krishnadevaraya University. Already, the companies have converted one of the all time favourite black and white Telugu movie Maya Bazar into colour also Mughal-e-Azam besides Nayadaur.
The Adi foundation programme director, Mr J.A. Chaudhary, said that 25 persons from rural areas would be selected under the pilot project, and training would be given to colour the negatives of black and white movies for a year.
He opined that 5,000 rural youth would be required to accomplish the movies conversion. The rural youth, who have completed Class X, and Intermediate fail students, are eligible to apply for jobs.
During the training, 50 Russian movies will be converted into colour along with other Telugu movies with about two lakh shades. Mr Chaudhary explained that conversion of Maya Bazar into colour gave impetus to film processing companies and created opportunities for creative multimedia students.
He said that the companies had also bought rights of 14 Telugu movies of Vijaya pictures of which 13 were in black and white, except one, and all the 13 movies will be converted to colour. The trained candidates will also be sent abroad for film negative conversions.

South African's clinch consolation win

It was an opportunity for South Africa to avert the embarrassment of losing the one-day series 0-3.
Pitted against a second string Indian team, depleted by seven regulars, the Proteas did not let go slip the chance, and ended their tour with a convincing 90-run win in the third ODI at the Sardar Patel Stadium here on Saturday.
AB de Villiers 102 (59b, 11x4 3x6) and Jacques Kallis 104 (94b, 5x4 3x6), played a contrasting innings as Proteas ended their tour on a similar note to the way they had started in Nagpur.
Once De Villiers and Kallis, with important contributions from opener Loots Bosman and Hashim Amla, had given South Africa their highest score, 365/2 in 50 overs, against India, there seemed to be no contest.
Without Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, the target was always going to be too much for the young Indian batsmen. They showed flashes of their ability but eventually folded up for 275 in 44.3 overs as the South African bowlers complemented their batsmen with the series’ best bowling performance. Dinesh Karthik and Murali Vijay didn’t last long, but Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, added 95 for the third wicket. Sharma 48 (61b 3x4), Kohli 57 (71b 4x4 1x6), and Suresh Raina 49 (30b 5x4 1x6) all played cameo roles but it would have needed a special effort from one of them to even get closer to the target. They also needed the experience of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to fire on the day, but Dale Steyn sent back Dhoni and Kohli in the space of five balls to reduce the Indians to 157/5. From there on the contest was over for the hosts, as South Africans completed the formalities with more than five overs to spare.
Earlier, De Villiers set the stage on fire after Bosman and Amla had done the early damage. Dhoni’s fixation of going with only three specialist bowlers, while beefing up the batting order was bound to backfire and it did on a day when there was nothing much to lose for the skipper. Having said that, it was the part-time spin bowling duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan, who were more disciplined compared to the three fast bowlers.
Sreesanth, recovered from a mild fever to take the field, with rookies Sudeep Tyagi, playing his fourth match and Abhimanyu Mithun making his debut, in place of Ashish Nehra.
Bosman, promoted ahead of Herschelle Gibbs, tonked four sixes and also nine fours in his 46-ball 68 before failing to clear long-off against Pathan, after a 113-run opening stand while Amla contributed 87 (103b 8x4). De Villers took to the pacers as he punched and pulled to race to his sixth and the seventh-fastest hundred in ODIs.
Kallis, on the other end was as solid ever, quietly reaching his century in the midst of De Villiers’ mayhem. Without looking explosive theKallis put on 173 for the third wicket as the duo averted the ignominy of a whitewash.


South Africa
Loots Bosman c Ravindra Jadeja b Yusuf Pathan 68, Hashim Amla c Murali Vijay b Ravindra Jadeja 87, Jacques Kallis n.o. 104, AB de Villiers n.o. 102
Extras (lb-2, nb-2) 4
Total (in 50 overs)
FOW: 1-113, 2-192
Bowling: S.Sreesanth 9-0-83-0, Sudeep Tyagi 8-0-59-0, Abhimanyu Mithun 8-0-63-0, Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-53-1, Yusuf Pathan 10-0-66-1, Virat Kohli 2-0-11-0, Rohit Sharma 3-0-28-0.
Dinesh Karthik c Hashim Amla b Dale Steyn 25, Murali Vijay c Mark Boucher b Lonwabo Tsotsobe 25, Virat Kohli c Mark Boucher b Dale Steyn 57, Rohit Sharma c Lonwabo Tsotsobe b Johan Botha 48, Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Mark Boucher b Dale Steyn 9, Suresh Raina c (sub) Wayne Parnell b Johan Botha 49, Yusuf Pathan c Dale Steyn b Lonwabo Tsotsobe 5, Ravindra Jadeja c Mark Boucher b Lonwabo Tsotsobe 36, S. Sreesanth lbw b van der Merwe 1, Abhimanyu Mithun st Mark Boucher b van der Merwe 24, Sudeep Tyagi n.o. 1
Extras (lb-5, w-4) 9
Total (in 44.3 overs) 275/10
FOW: 1-22, 2-40, 3-135, 4-156, 5-157, 6-179, 7-233, 8-237, 9-273, 10-275.
Bowling: D. Steyn 8-1-37-3, L. Tsotsobe 9.3-0-58-3, M. Morkel 7-0-48-0, R. van der Merwe 10-0-47-2, J. Botha 10-0-80-2.

Sachin better than Don: Harbhajan

Eulogising milestone man Sachin Tendulkar for his historic ODI double hundred, India’s star off-spinner Harbhajan Singh reckons his illustrious teammate is better than Australian great Sir Don Bradman.
Harbhajan could not witness the record-breaking double century as he skipped the first two matches of the series due to his sister’s wedding. “I am short of words to praise Sachin. Some players compared him with Don Bradman. Although I have not seen Bradman playing but I am confident, he (Sachin) is better than him for which his records speak,” Harbhajan said.
He added that Tendulkar’s hunger for runs and amazing focus makes him an altogether different cricketer. “Even after scoring 150 in the ODI, Sachin never looked tired and kept his focus on the game. I have learnt a lot from him, be it on ground or in dressing room. I always observe how he prepares himself for every match,” he said.
Harbhajan was disappointed that he could not witness Tendulkar’s achievement in Gwalior due to prior family commitments. “I am unfortunate, as I was not there on the ground to witness one of the historic moments. But Sachin’s performance definitely added to my happiness during the family function. I was busy in the family function, when one of my relatives came with the news of Sachin’s double century and I could not stop myself from dancing,” ,” Harbhajan said.
He also said the Indian Premier League will help the team prepare well for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Caribbean.

Stage set for big Indo-Pak fight : 12th Hockey World Cup

Emotion, intensity, passion... It is hard describe what lies in store as India lock horns with Pakistan in their opening game of the 12th Hockey World Cup beginning here on Sunday.
If the purists are to be believed, the sanctity of hockey as an art still remains in the sub-continent. And come Sunday, a nation of over billion people would be eager to witness just that.
The ‘real’ World Cup will begin only after the opening game, says Pakistan star striker Rehan Butt and the fact that the arch-rivals last played in a World Cup match in 1986 makes it a mouth-watering clash.
The opening tie carries a lot of significance, not just in terms of the 14-day extravaganza, but also the state of the game in both countries.
Once the kings of world hockey, both teams are now reduced to battling for the 8th to 12th spots at big events. “Not a true reflection of our potential and a turnaround is around the corner,” says Rehan.
The home team are in rebuilding mode under Spaniard coach Jose Brasa, who was hired after the eight-time Olympic champions failed to make the cut for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
New tactics, modern techniques, onus on fitness — a lot has changed and been talked about in the months gone by. It is now time to put all that to use and look ahead to the road to revival.
Brasa had sound advice for his boys on the eve of the game. “Concentration” is his word for the squad. “Indian hockey has always been of 65 minutes. I have just tried to add five minutes to it — the crucial five minutes,” is Brasa’s assessment.
The statement reflects India’s shortcomings — lack of mental toughness in finishing games after good starts and the physical fitness to last for 70 minutes. The two factors have been received meticulous attention at the national camps in the build-up to the World Cup.
“There have been many other positive changes in the team. The physical fitness of the players has improved and now they can carry out any strategic plan. Man-to-man marking has improved and there is perceptible change in our mode of attack, using the width of the turf in concerted moves,” said Brasa.
On paper, there is not much that separates the two teams, as both possess enough in their arsenal to deliver the goods. The individual battles though stand out.

‘Chalo Delhi’ by varsities teachers

Members of Telangana Federation of University Teachers Association (TFUTA), an umbrella group consisting of teachers from all the 10 universities in the Telangana region are planning a ‘Chalo Delhi’ programme in the third week of March.
This was decided at a meeting of TFUTA representatives at Kakatiya University here on Saturday. However, unlike the agitation led by Telangana Adv-ocates Joint Action Committee (TAJAC) in Delhi recently, TFUTA members have ruled out any protest march or dharnas there.
“The teaching fraternity from TFUTA would impress the need for separate Telangana with UPA and NDA allies,” said Association of Kakatiya University Teachers (AKUT) president Prof T. Papi Reddy.
The members decided to represent the case of the higher educational sector in Telangana region before Justice Srikrishna committee. For this, TFUTA has also announced constitution of separate sub-committees which would compile data on different aspects relating to general, technical and health universities of the region.
“These sub-committees would mainly compile reports based on the discrepancies in the allocation of funds, recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff and infrastructure in Telangana universities vis-à-vis their counterparts in non-Telangana region during the last 55 years,” added Papi Reddy, while also criticising the practice of appointment of non-Telangana teaching staff in Telangana universities.
Once these reports are compiled, sources said, it would be submitted to the Srikrishna committee.
The TFUTA members, were miffed with the priority given to Kadapa’s Vemana University by the government. Both Telangana University and Vemana University were established at the same time.
However, while the former was sanctioned only Rs 27 crore and 40 teaching staff, the latter received Rs 300 crore along with 250 teaching staff, the TFUTA members complained.

Warming panel, under attack, seeks outside review

The Nobel Prize-winning international scientific panel studying global warming is seeking independent outside review for how it makes major reports.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says it’s seeking some kind of independent review because of recent criticism about its 2007 reports.
Critics have found a few unsettling errors, including projections of retreats in Himalayan glaciers, in the thousands of pages of the reports.
The panel shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with former Vice President Al Gore. The panel was created by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization.
A top panel official, Chris Field, said yesterday it will be hard finding an independent organization, such as a scientific society, to do the review.

‘Flamingo Festival’ to be celebrated

Here is some good news for bird lovers. The Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, considered one of the biggest habitat for some hundreds of pelicans and other birds, will host the ‘Flamingo Festival,’ in Doravari Satram mandal, in Nellore district.
Elaborate arrangements are being made for the annual fete, to be held in the second week of March in Sulluripeta division in the district. Located about 20 km north of the Pulicat Lake on the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border, the sanctuary is spread in about 459 hectares.
Different species of migratory birds, roosting migrants and some rare and endangered species from various parts of the world visit the habitat from October to March every year. The winged species will prepare nests, brood the eggs and return to their native places along with their young ones by April.
Flamingos, Pelicans, Siberian Storks, Open Billed Storks, Night Herons, Egrets, Little Cormorant, Golden Backed Wood Pecker, Spotted and Ring Doves, King Fishers, Painted Storks, White Necked Storks, Spoon Bills and other species of birds will present a colourful gala for tourists at the sanctuary. The villagers treat the migratory birds with affection and provide protection to them.
District Collector K. Ramgopal held a meeting with the officials here on Friday and discussed arrangements for the Festival.

Committee on Telangana a farce: Venkaiah

Describing as “farce” the Justice Srikrishna Committee set up by the Centre to resolve the Telangana issue, senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday said that it does not serve any purpose and was a waste of public money.
“The Committee has no any statutory sanctity. It is a farce and is a sheer waste of time and resources, and a futile exercise,” Mr. Naidu told reporters here.
Questioning the Congress, which returned to power in the state in 2004, on its Telangana promise, Mr. Naidu asked, “What happened to the earlier committee -- headed by Pranab Mukherjee --Constituted to look into the demand for Telangana state?.”
“Committees can’t decide the future of the state and there should be a political solution to this burning issue,” he said.
When asked whether BJP would extend support to the Committee, scheduled to visit next month to hold consultations with various parties and organisations on the issue, the senior leader shot back saying “what purpose would it serve?”
Mr. Naidu said his party’s stand is very clear and it is in favour of separate statehood for Telangana region and wanted to know whether the Centre will actually implement the recommendations of the Committee.
The UPA Government has constituted a five-member Committee led by Justice B. N. Srikrishna to examine demand for a separate state of Telangana and as well as the demand to keep Andhra Pradesh united.

Dhruv helicopter crash-lands while rehearsing for air show

An advanced light helicopter Dhruv of the Indian Air Force crash-landed in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district while rehearsing for the ‘Vayu Shakti’ air power show to be held there on Sunday.
The helicopter was part of the Sarang helicopter display team of the IAF and was rehearsing for Sunday’s air show, when the incident occurred, IAF officials said here.
“Both pilots are safe after they had to make a controlled crash-landing due to loss of power in the chopper,” they added.
The IAF has ordered a Court of Inquiry to look into the reasons behind the incident, the officials said.
In 2005, the entire ALH Dhruv fleet had been grounded for several months after a similar incident in Andhra Pradesh and the subsequent probe had found a fault with the tail rotor blades of the choppers.
On whether the display team comprising four ALH Dhruvs will take part in the air show, for which the President and the Defence Minister are also coming.

BMC needs choppers to tackle disasters in Mumbai: Kshatriya

In order to cope up during emergency situations in the city, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) feels that there is need for helicopter to deal during disasters.
“The BMC should have a helicopter to tackle emergencies. We also plan to seek government’s permission to construct more helipads within the city so that people can be easily air—lifted during a disaster situation,” Municipal Commissioner Swadhin Kshatriya said on the sidelines of ’Tatpar Mumbai’ event here.
‘Tatpar Mumbai’, two-day exhibition organised by the BMC’s Disaster Management Cell, provided citizens an inner experience of various disasters. Mock drills on precautions and measures to be taken during disasters like earthquake, bomb blast, fire, flooding were also presented.
“During any kind of disaster, it becomes difficult to reach hospitals so a dedicated lane should be reserved only for ambulances to ensure that the victim gets timely treatment,” Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said.
Over 30 agencies and stakeholders including police, army, navy fire brigade, BARC, railways, MMRDA and BEST among others related to city’s disaster management participated in the exhibition.

Dera rampage: Tension prevails in Punjab, Haryana

Tension on Sunday prevailed in various parts of Haryana and Punjab, hit by violence following filing of a fresh murder case against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, as authorities stepped up security measures to restore calm.
Four companies (nearly 400 personnel) of central paramilitary forces have reached Haryana for deployment in the violence-hit areas, including Fatehabad, Sirsa and Ambala, police officials said.
The situation in the affected areas in Punjab, including Moga, Bhatinda and Sangrur districts, was tense but under control, they said.
They said patrolling has been intensified while security has been beefed up at public places like railway stations, bus stations and shopping malls.
There was a report of fire in a bus early this morning in Panipat, though the police maintained that it was not related to the Dera violence.
Resenting the filing of a murder case against Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by the CBI, sect supporters last evening went on a rampage setting ablaze four trains and around 37 vehicles, including 27 buses, and vandalising property in several places in Punjab and Haryana.
Dera’s chief spokesman Aditya Insaan had said the sect followers were not behind the violence which erupted in Punjab and Haryana after the registration of the fresh case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Last week, the CBI had booked the Sacha Sauda chief for the murder of sect Manager Faqir Chand in 1991. Besides the sect head, four others were booked by the CBI in the case.
The sect head also faces three other cases including one of sexual exploitation and two of murder of another sect Manager and a Sirsa-based journalist.
The protesters yesterday set afire a compartment each of the Ferozepur-Ludhiana Sutlej Express, the Narwana-Kurukshetra train and two local trains after asking the passengers to disembark. They also vandalised railway property at Tapa, Moga and Kalaiyat in Punjab, he said.
The mobs had torched and damaged 37 vehicles, 27 of them buses, including an air—conditioned one, in Bathinda, Mansa, Talwandi Sabo, Bhagapurana and other places in Punjab and at Kaithal, Sirsa and Fatehabad in Haryana.
In Moga, the protesters had tried to set ablaze the District Administration Complex, housing among others the offices of the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP, prompting police to fire in the air to disperse them.

Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan claim top honours

Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and Vidya Balan were cited as best actor and best actress respectively at the star-studded 55th Filmfare Awards ceremony here late on Saturday.
Bachchan won the award for his role in “Paa”, while Vidya Balan claimed the trophy for her role in the same movie. As Bachchan was not present in the ceremony, Vidya Balan took the award on his behalf.
Hosting the gala night were Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan, whose one liners had the audience in splits. Their on-stage chemistry was much appreciated by the Bollywood stars present at the ceremony at the Yash Raj Studios.
“3 Idiots” was declared the best film, while Rajkumar Hirani claimed the best director award for the movie.
A.R. Rahman won the best music director for “Delhi 6”.
Mohit Chauhan won the award for the best male playback singer for the song “masakali” from the movie “Delhi 6”, while the female playback singer honours were shared by Kavita Seth and Rekha Bhardwaj.
While Kavita was awarded for the song “Ik tara” from the movie “Wake Up Sid”, Rekha won the trophy for the song “Genda phool” from the movie “Delhi 6”.
Among the other highlights of the evening was a tribute to legendary pop singer Michael Jackson by Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor, who charmed the audience with his perfect dance moves.

Quake, tsunami kill at least 214 people in Chile

An 8.8-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami killed at least 214 people in Chile, Chilean Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma has said.
“This was a cataclysm of immense proportions, and it will be very difficult to have a single figure,” he said Saturday.
Perez Yoma asked the community to help, as the government seeks to coordinate aid. People should follow government instructions to remain calm in the face of continuing aftershocks, he said.
Twenty-two people were rescued from a collapsed building in the city of Concepcion, where a team of firefighters had laboured to find and free them.
Hundreds of people were missing and feared trapped under the rubble of buildings which buckled under the force of the quake, the worst to hit the South American nation since 1960.
The earthquake occurred at 3.34 a.m. (0634 GMT), some 90 km northeast of Concepcion, a city of 630,000 in Chile’s central coastal region. It also caused damage in the capital Santiago, 320 km north of the epicentre, affecting buildings, roads and closing the international airport.
The Pacific region was bracing for a tidal wave, with Japan, New Zealand and Hawaii going on alert. On Hawaii, sirens wailed and officials began moving people from low-lying areas to higher ground.
The capital’s modern international airport was knocked out of operation and will remain closed to incoming and outgoing flights for at least three days. The city’s underground rail network was also closed.
Overturned cars littered motorway flyovers, which buckled and crumbled during the quake.
Power lines were down, water supplies were cut and burst gas pipes raised fears of explosions. Internet communications were also cut and the mobile phone network badly disrupted.
In Concepcion, where according to television reports there was hardly a street without damaged buildings, the extent of the devastation remain unclear hours after the quake struck.
The offices of the region government were reported to have been destroyed and the walls of the city’s prison collapsed, leading to fears that convicts might have escaped.
The European Union (EU) granted three million euros ($4.1 million) in immediate aid. “We stand ready to do whatever it takes to help the Chilean authorities at this time of need,” EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed condolences for the victims and the UN “is on standby to offer rapid assistance to the Chilean government and people”.
President Barack Obama also expressed his condolences and said the US “have resources to deploy should the Chilean people need our help”.
A forward-planning team from Germany’s THW civil-defence agency left by air Saturday evening for the quake zone.
The quake was 50 times more powerful than the one which claimed more than 200,000 lives in the Caribbean nation of Haiti Jan 12, said the head of the University of Santiago’s Seismological Institute, Sergio Barrientos.
The worst earthquake to hit Chile was in 1960 when a 9.5 magnitude quake claimed 1,600 lives.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Landslip near Ongole: ‘retrieval of bodies will take 15 days’

The death toll is now 12 in the landslip that occurred in the quarry of Hamsa Minerals and Exports Limited on Thursday.

The accident is believed to be the worst tragedy that struck the dollar-rich galaxy granite industry at Chimakurthi, 24 km from here.

Mining officials decided to blast the massive boulder, clear the debris and retrieve the bodies. Stating that they had to follow all safety norms and blast the boulder using scientific methods, Director of Mines V.D. Rajagopal said it would take 15 days to complete the daunting task.

While two bodies were recovered, 10 bodies lay trapped under sixty-foot high debris weighing about 35,000 tonnes. The victims were crushed under a single boulder measuring 1,000 cubic metres and weighing 3,500 tonnes.

The bodies of two victims — I. Sivachandra Prasad (25), slotter operator from Nellore district and Vengala Venkatarao (28), plant supervisor from Prakasam district — were recovered.

Nine workers buried under the debris were identified as Muthuram Jaypaul (30) and Munuswamy Murugan (38) from Perumbakam, Vannur taluk, Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, V. Manjunatha Reddy (32) from Kadapa district, Chunchu Sudhakar (28), Chimakurthi (all poclain operators), Adapa Sathibabu (23), ranger helper from East Godavari district, Yelagala Saidulu, water engine operator from Guntur district, Yelagala Kondalu, slotter operator from Guntur district, Kamatham Nageswara Rao (36), slotter operator from Khammam district, Malineni Srinivsarao (26), worker from Chimakurthi. One more worker is yet to be identified.

Andhra Pradesh Minister for Mines Balineni Srinivasa Reddy has ordered closure of all the mines at Chimakurthi for three days to complete the rescue operations. Speaking to newspersons here, Mr. Srinivasa Reddy said that a high power committee would be constituted with officials of mines, mine safety and labour to inspect all mines for safety norms. Mines not following safety norms would be closed.
Firm to pay Rs. 5 lakh

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Rajagopal said the accident was due to a shear zone in the rock. Secondly, the licencee was quarrying the stone vertically leaving no support for the sheer zone at the base. Thirdly, the accident happened in a buffer zone where no quarrying was permitted. Mr. Rajagopal has asked the Hamsa company to pay ex gratia of Rs. 5 lakh to the kin of each victim.

Banned footage to be removed

Though a court order barred the electronic media from broadcasting CCTV footage of the German Bakery bomb blast, it remained available on the website for a long time. On Friday, the Pune police decided to take steps to take the footage off the website.

Speaking to journalists, Commissioner of Police Satyapal Singh said: “I have directed the ATS [Anti-Terrorism Squad] to do whatever is required to remove the footage from the website.”
“ATS working hard”

Amid speculation that the probe may be transferred to the National Investigation Agency as the ATS was not able to make any headway, Mr. Singh said the investigation was on the right track. The ATS was working hard on the case and had strong leads, he added.

Mr. Singh said the forensics science laboratory report — to ascertain the quantity of explosive and the triggering mechanism used — was still awaited.

“Budget adds fuel to fire”

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday accused Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee of adding fuel to the fire by rolling back the duty cuts on petroleum products. “The nation was hoping for a remedy against back-breaking prices. Instead, people have been given a budget that will further push up prices,” said BJP leader Yashwant Sinha in the party’s critique of the budget.

Instead of meeting the challenge posed by runaway inflation, the Minister has buckled under it. Now inflation and price rise cannot be contained, Mr. Sinha said, briefing the media after the budget was presented.

Justifying the Opposition walkout, he said Mr. Mukherjee violated the limits of tolerance of the masses with his announcements on fuel pricing. This time the government has given up the distinction between diesel and petroleum while tweaking prices. It has used the tax route to alter the price structure, and kept the difference in the hike of petrol and diesel at only nine paise, the former Union Finance Minister said.

Taking a dig at Mr. Mukherjee’s claim that “this budget belongs to the aam aadmi,” he said this was not reflected in the proposals. No attempt has been made to tackle urban unemployment and the Rs. 1,000 crore increase in the allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme was not even sufficient to take care of the rate of inflation. As for the agricultural sector, the allocations were too little to make any impact on the agrarian crisis.
Rationale questioned

Mr. Sinha has also questioned the rationale in the proposal to set up a ‘Coal Regulatory Authority.’ Does this mean that the government plans to open the coal sector to private players, he asked. If this were the case, then the government should come clean on it and admit that it wants to amend the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act.

In a separate statement, the former BJP president, Rajnath Singh, said: “The budget has not only disappointed the people but also dealt a body blow to the expectations of some announcement of concrete measures from the government to counter the mounting inflationary pressures on our economy.”

An exceedingly good budget: Manmohan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday described the Union budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as an “exceedingly good” and one which would help the economy return to nine per cent growth.

Stating that it represented “a job well done,” Dr. Singh said: “You must look at the total picture emerging from the budget. The net revenue gain for the Finance Minister is only Rs.20,000 crore. In an economy as large as India, this resource mobilisation effort and balance should not trigger any inflationary expectation. At the same time, it gives the muscle needed.”

Defending Mr. Mukherjee within minutes of the Finance Minister drawing the ire of nearly half the Lok Sabha for the proposal regarding restructuring of fuel prices, Dr. Singh said: “The Finance Minister has not called back to the pre-stimulus excise duty rate. He has still exercised moderation signalling the economy that you cannot have all things together.”

On the issue of fuel price restructuring, the Prime Minister explained that “the economy has the capacity to absorb this order of adjustments in excise duties and customs duties without generating a wholesale inflationary spiral.” Further, he sought to point out that these duties were reduced when petroleum prices had touched $112 a barrel. “Now, petroleum prices are much lower,” he added.

As for the introduction of Goods and Services Tax, Dr. Singh said it required a consensus and that all States would have to be on board for it to be implemented. Hopeful of addressing such contentious issues during the year, the Prime Minister sought to sound optimistic about the economy, maintaining that it would grow by 7.2 per cent despite a negative agricultural growth.

Three objectives

For his part, Mr. Mukherjee said he had three objectives while formulating the budget — fiscal consolidation, inclusive growth and returning the country to a growth trajectory as quickly as possible.

Confident of achieving the budgetary proposals vis-À-vis growth and fiscal consolidation, he underlined the fact that 37 per cent of the plan allocation had been set aside for the social sector.

Though he refused to field questions in the post-budget customary fleeting interaction with the media on Parliament House premises, Mr. Mukherjee further stressed the “aam aadmi” component by pointing out that 25 per cent of the plan allocation for infrastructure development — which alone accounted for 46 per cent of the total — was reserved for rural India.

19 killed in China fireworks blast

An explosion triggered by residents setting off fireworks to celebrate the Lunar New Year tore through a village in southern China, killing 19 people and wounding more than 30 as the country neared the end of its biggest holiday.

The blast late Friday in the southern province of Guangdong was the deadliest of the 15-day Lunar New Year, which ends on Sunday. Fireworks are a large part of the celebrations, especially at the beginning and end of the holiday, despite public safety campaigns.

China’s public security ministry has said fireworks-related accidents killed 11 people and injured more than 1,800 throughout the country during the first week of the holiday.

A police official in Puning city confirmed Friday night’s explosion and said police were investigating. State media reported 19 were dead.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported the explosion occurred when villagers were setting off fireworks in front of a house. It said two people were detained after the blast for questioning. Its reporters found damaged homes near the blast site.

Telephone calls to the government offices of Puning city and Shitouqiao village were not answered on Saturday morning.

Australian police identify Indian found dead in October

Australian police have revealed the identity of the Indian national whose body was found in October 2009 near the New South Wales-Victorian border.

The body of 33-year old Pardeep Kumar, who was a fruit-picking contractor and went missing from Mildura in September last year, was found at Monak, south of Mildura, in October last year, according to ABC report.

Police has identified him through DNA and has appealed for witnesses to come forward with any information.

“In particular we would like to speak to any farmers in the Mildura and Euston areas who may have been approached by Kumar offering his services as a fruit-picking contractor,” Detective Sergeant Andrew Spliet from Dareton Detectives said.

“Throughout this investigation, we have spoken to a number of people from the local Indian community, but there are many more we would like to hear from,” he said, adding we want to assure them that we have Indian-origin police officers attached to this investigation, which makes it easier for members of the Indian community to talk to us.

“Any piece of information they give could be vital to solving Kumar’s murder,” he said.

Kumar’s family will travel to Australia in the coming days to arrange collection and return of his body to Punjab.

Pune blast toll rises to 17

The death toll in the February 13 German Bakery blast here rose to 17 with a 23-year-old woman succumbing to injuries on Friday night, hospital sources said.

The victim, Aditi Jindal, was from Chandigarh and undergoing treatment in Inlaks and Budhrani hospital, sources added.

A 21-year-old Sudanese student Anas AlFatih Suleiman passed away at Jehangir Hospital on February 24. He is the fourth foreigner to die in the blast that rocked the popular eatery in Koregaon Park.

The blast claimed lives of three other foreigners — a 26-year-old Sudanese student Amjad Elgazoli, an Italian woman Nadia Macerini and an Iranian man Sayyed Syed Khani — besides injuring more than 50 people.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Raavan to release at Iifa Seoul

There’s something about the Iifa. The event seems to hold definite charm for Mani Ratnam, whose big budget extravaganza Raavan may premier at this year’s edition of the International Indian Film Academy Awards — to be held at Seoul in South Korea.
Of course, this isn’t the erstwhile director’s first brush with the Iifa. Yuva, also starring Abhishek Bachchan, had also premiered at Iifa. The Bachchans have a long connection with the Iifa, as Amitabh Bachchan is the brand ambassador of the event. The move may definitely do some good for Raavan, as the Iifa is a popular event and will provide the film with some much desired international exposure and acclaim.
Slated for a July 18 release, Raavan also stars Aishwarya Rai Bachahan, Govinda and South star Vikram.

AP Assembly adjourned after TDP MLAs’ uproar

Andhra Pradesh Assembly was abruptly adjourned on Friday following uproar by Telugu Desam Party MLAs over remarks made by a Congress MLA against Leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Congress MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan, facing corruption and criminal intimidation charges, sought to defend himself during Zero Hour following allegations that he and his brother have evaded tax to the tune of Rs. 5 crore in sand quarrying.

The Congress MLA was reacting to a reference made against him by TDP legislator A. Revanth Reddy in the House yesterday.

Revanth quoted a report by the Vigilance and Enforcement Department on the misdeeds of the Congress MLA and demanded that a House Committee be appointed to inquire into the allegations.

While making a statement in his defence, Krishna Mohan made certain remarks against Chandrababu Naidu and referred to previous instances where the latter obtained stay from courts to stall proceedings into corruption cases.

“I have not obtained any stay order and am ready for any probe against myself and my brother,” the Congress MLA said.

The TDP MLAs, however, took serious exception to Krishna Mohan’s remarks against Chandrababu Naidu and stormed the Speaker’s podium.

Deputy Speaker Nadendla Manohar, who was in the Chair, asked the TDP MLAs to resume their seats and not to disturb the proceedings. As the din continued, Manohar adjourned the House till Tuesday.

Explain deployment of Greyhounds in OU: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday sought an explanation from the Andhra Pradesh government as to why it had deployed the elite anti-Naxalite force Greyhounds to quell the students’ unrest in Osmania University, the hotbed of Telangana statehood agitation.

A bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly also constituted a three-member committee comprising the State Home Secretary, Hyderabad police commissioner and the vice chancellor of the University to review on a day-to-day basis the atmosphere in and around the campus.

The apex court wanted to know whether such anti-Naxalite force had ever been deployed to quell public rallies or meetings organised by various political parties.

The apex court while permitting the state to deploy civilian police at the campus said the committee would decide if and when there is a need for deploying Central paramilitary forces.

The court directed the State government to file its response in an affidavit and posted the matter for further hearing to March 19.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Anita and other university students who had challenged government’s decision before the High Court, had alleged over 3,000 Central paramilitary personnel were deployed there.

They alleged that they had brutally beaten up students, molested girls, assaulted journalists and damaged their cameras or video clippings.

However, senior counsel Harish Salve, representing State government in the matter, tried to justify deployment of Central forces on the ground that there were intelligence inputs to suggest that Maoists have infiltrated the University campus to instigate large scale violence on the separate state row.

The apex court, during last hearing on February 23 had asked the State government to furnish proof of “secret intelligence inputs” to prove that Maoists have infiltrated into Osmania University.

A division bench of the High Court had on February 16 upheld the directions of a single judge to move out the Rapid Action Force and CRPF personnel from Osmania University campus.

The division bench had said the single judge was right in his analysis that the Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in the university campus without any proper study of the prevailing situation.

The State government had assailed the February 16 order, saying the High Court cannot order the removal of paramilitary forces from the campus.

IT industry worried over non-extension of STPI

The software industry on Friday hit out at the government for increasing the minimum alternate tax and for ignoring the industry’s plea for extending STPI scheme, which would have continued to give tax breaks.

The Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) scheme would have continued to give tax breaks to their export revenues beyond 2011 onwards.

“The Finance Minister did not announce any extension of the STPI scheme which we were expecting. We still have one more year to go as the extension will expire in March 2011. We would take up the issue again,” Nasscom President Som Mittal said. Indian software export industry is set to touch USD 48.7 billion this fiscal and it is currently not taxed.

Most of the stock market listed IT companies reacted negatively to the government’s inaction on the crucial STPI scheme, pulling the sectoral index down marginally on a day when the overall BSE index Sensex was up by 175 points.

Companies such as TCS, Infosys and Tech Mahindra closed marginally lower than their previous day’s close. Only Wipro was up slightly (0.98 per cent) at Rs. 676.70.

Mittal, however, said it may not hit the industry yet but the association would demand some cushion for the small and medium IT companies who would be exposed without STPI benefit.

However, the country’s sixth largest software exporter Patni Computers said, “Budget has not addressed IT Industry’s demand for extension of tax holiday under STPI scheme which is a significant negative for the Industry“.

The increase of MAT to 18 per cent from 15 is also a big dampener, said companies and experts.

At least 9 Indians killed in Kabul attack

At least nine Indians, including government officials, were among 17 people killed as Taliban suicide bombers carried out a string of attacks in the heart of Kabul in yet another incident targeting Indian interests in Afghanistan.

The Indians, who died in the incident included government officials, an ITBP constable and a tabla player who was part of a cultural delegation to Afghanistan.

Embassy staffers from consulates in Herat and Kandahar and a member of a medical mission were also among those who died and 12 people were also injured, embassy sources said without giving their identity or breakup.

The bombers struck at a number of guest houses, particularly at Park Residence, rented out by the Indian embassy for its staffers and those linked to India’s developmental work in Afghanistan.

According to ITBP officials, force constable Roshan Lal is among the Indians killed in the blast. Lal, around 35 years of age, was a resident of Himachal Pradesh and deployed as the security personnel at the Indian Embassy.

Tabla player Nawab, part of the three-member cultural troupe which was sent by Indian Council for Cultural Relations to Afghanistan, was also among the killed.

Describing it as a “heinous terrorist attack,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said as per the preliminary information provided by Afghan Government officials, “up to nine Indians... have lost their lives”.

“A few Indians have been injured, most of whom are reported to be out of danger. Arrangements are being made for their adequate and expeditious treatment, if necessary, by evacuating them to India,” Mr. Krishna said in a statement.

Sources said 12 Indians were also injured in the attack which also killed an Italian diplomat, a French tourist and a number of policemen.

This is the fourth attack targeted at Indians in Kabul since July 2008 when 60 people, including four Indian embassy officials, were killed in a massive car bomb attack on the embassy building.

Strongly condemning the attack, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said it would not be allowed to hurt Afghan-Indian relations. “Attacks on Indian citizens will not affect relations between India and Afghanistan,” he said.

Mr. Krishna termed the attacks as “barbaric” and a matter of “deep concern” and said they were clearly aimed against the people of India and Afghanistan.

“These are the handiwork of those who are desperate to undermine the friendship between India and Afghanistan, and do not wish to see a strong, democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan,” he said.

Kasaif, an employee of the Indian embassy staying at the guest house said the attack came in the early morning. “We locked our rooms and stayed inside as the premises was rocked by gunfire,” he said.

A wounded Indian doctor, who was an eye-witness, said the “suicide attack was targeted at Indians”.
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