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Today's Hot Stories - January 25, 2013

10 Headlines for Today

(1) Govt. disappointed over Headley's sentence: Khurshid
(2) Jayalalithaa blasts dual pricing policy on diesel
(3) Netanyahu begins informal coalition talks in Israel
(4) Cabinet approves setting up of one-man committee to probe Walmart issue: Pilot
(5) Reserve Bank eases rules for FII investment in debt
(6) Lenders approve debt recast plan of Suzlon
(7) India retains third spot in T20 rankings
(8) Djokovic advances to Australian Open final
(9) Azarenka beats Stephens; sets up final against Li Na
(10) ‘Vishwaroopam’ screening stopped in Hyderabad

5 Stories for Today

(1) Back in Nagpur, Gadkari lashes out at Congress, I-T officials
(2) I don’t want a country called Europe: Cameron
(3) Inter-Ministerial Group to study problems of textile sector
(4) For Xerox’s outsourcing biz, India is key
(5) Strike balance between growth and inflation, FM tells RBI

(1) Back in Nagpur, Gadkari lashes out at Congress, I-T officials

The former BJP president, Nitin Gadkari, on Thursday lashed out at the Congress, the media and Income Tax officials “for defaming an honest karyakarta [party worker].”

“The Congress party and the UPA government planned a conspiracy to defame me by making false propaganda against me. But now I will expose the corruption of all Congress leaders. Until now, as president of the BJP, I had some limitations, but now I am a free man. And I dare the Congress to say and do all that you want against me.”

Mr. Gadkari was given a grand welcome by BJP workers at the Nagpur airport on his arrival after resigning from presidentship of the saffron party.

Addressing hundreds of supporters near the airport, Mr. Gadkari said: “Until now the Congress party has misused the CBI. They [Congress leaders] used it [the CBI] as a tool. Now they are using the Income Tax department. Night and day, IT officials are working overtime on these cases [related to the Purti group]. I know which officers are involved in this and what they are doing and how they are implicating me. Some officers who sympathise with the BJP and me have told me what kind of conspiracy is being planned. They [IT officers inquiring about the Purti group] should remember that the Congress party is like a sinking boat and it will go soon. When our party comes to power, there will be no Chidambaram or Sonia Gandhi to save you [IT people].”

Questioning the timing of IT raids on the companies in Mumbai, he said: “Deliberately a day before I was going to submit the form for the [party] election, some offices of companies in Mumbai were searched. It was not a raid but a simple search and not a single document was confiscated. But the media was invited. Inquiry was done, but deliberately I was given a summons, they came to my house and asked me to sign on it. I was asked why I mortgaged my house in Mumbai and helped Purti financially. I told them that this was true and that I helped Purti when it was in trouble. I have publicly given an affidavit about my property of Rs.13 crore but one Congress leader alleged that I own property worth Rs.1,000 crore. I challenge him if he can show Rs. 987 crore; I will donate it to him.”

“There was an attempt to defame me and the party [the BJP] by making false allegations and when all this started the day before yesterday [Tuesday], I considered it better to resign,” said Mr. Gadkari.

“Fake news”

“I would like to convey this to the media that ours is a democratic country and if we [politicians] commit mistakes, you have full right to run it as the breaking news. But the Indian Constitution has not given you the right to destroy the careers of honest workers and politicians. Some people from the media, by running fake news, played an important role in this [political conspiracy] ... kyomki unki dukan hai [they have their business]. But I have kept ready a record of all this.”

He said the Congress and the UPA government were practising vindictive politics. “They blackmail Mulayam Singh and Mayawati by showing a CBI file. They have sent [Om Prakash] Chautala to jail by implicating him. When our government was in power, we did not resort to this kind of politics against Congress leaders. But the truth will come out in open very soon,” said Mr. Gadkari.

(2) I don’t want a country called Europe: Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron wants nothing to do with a United States of Europe, an idea that’s gaining currency as the countries that use the euro struggle to fix their debt crisis.

A day after he shook up Europe’s political landscape by offering citizens the prospect of a vote on whether to stay in the 27-country European Union, Mr. Cameron insisted Thursday he wants Britain to remain an integral part of the bloc but that more unification would not be the answer.

“To try and shoehorn countries into a centralised political union would be a great mistake and Britain would not be a part of it,” he said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

Over the past few months, many in the EU, particularly among the 17 countries that use the euro, are on a drive for closer unification, and that’s raised particular concerns in Britain, which has often viewed the bloc through a business prism.

“If you mean that Europe has to be a political union, a country called Europe, then I disagree,” said Mr. Cameron, who insisted he is arguing for a more flexible EU not to walk out on it. On Wednesday, Mr. Cameron put an end to months of speculation by revealing he intends to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU if he wins the next general election, expected in 2015.

(3) Inter-Ministerial Group to study problems of textile sector

To hold a meeting every three months

The Central Government, on Tuesday, announced that an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) would soon be set up to take a look at the problems faced by the textiles sector, including high customs duty on synthetic fabric and labour-related issues.

“We will have a continuous dialogue with the textiles industry and like to have an IMG on textiles which will be set up soon,” Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth told reporters after inaugurating the three-day India International Garment Fair (IIGF).

Mr. Seth said IMG would take a holistic look at difficulties which had been expressed by the industry, and recommend suggestions to address them.

The group, which is likely to be set up after the Union Budget next month, is likely to hold a meeting every three months to review the sector’s issues and progress.

Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A. Sakthivel said the Cabinet Secretary chaired a consultative meeting with the exporters and listened to the demands related to higher import duty on synthetic fabrics, other taxes and labour issues.

Exporters have been pressing for import of synthetic/blended fabrics at a lower duty of 5 per cent. At present, the import duty on synthetic fabrics is about 21 per cent.

Besides, the sector has asked for allowing workers to do work beyond 60 hours a week for which they would be given overtime payment.

During April-December this fiscal, apparel exports declined by about 8 per cent to $9 billion as compared to the same period last year due to lower demand from western markets such as the U.S. and Europe.

In the last fiscal, the U.S. and EU accounted for about 70 per cent of the country’s $14 billion garment exports.

(4) For Xerox’s outsourcing biz, India is key

In the coming years, Xerox Corporation is more likely to be associated with business process outsourcing and document management, as the company looks towards India to cement its step away from its roots as a printer and copier firm.

The company is planning to scale up its nearly 10,000-strong employee base here in India, which is mainly focused on healthcare, human resources, transportation and customer care outsourcing.

“It goes something like this. In the first quarter of 2012, we realised that the revenue coming from our business process and IT services exceeded our product business revenue. We definitely project the same happening for India as outsourcing is a significant competency for us here,” said Sophie V. Vandebroek, Chief Technology Officer, Xerox Corporation, in an interaction with The Hindu here on Thursday.

“This doesn’t mean, however, that we are not going to focus on printers. As long as people wish to print, we will be there in that space. But just like newspapers, we too, must go digital,” she added.

Managed print services, where Xerox helps companies efficiently manage their printing requirements, has seen good growth in India, and is a space the company is eyeing.

“In the managed print services, we basically help clients cut down on costs by making them save electricity and so on while they print. While I don’t want to reveal names, we have some really great clients here in India which is making us take this seriously,” said Dr. Vandebroek.

The company recently moved its research and development centre to Bangalore, after initial hiccups took place here, which presently has 25 scientists.

“When we opened up a research centre in Chennai, we just couldn’t hire anybody. There is a serious lack of PhDs in computer science. By the end of this year, I’m looking at doubling the headcount to 50, and doubling again to a 100 scientists in the next three-to-four years,” she said.

The R&D centre is looking to push the envelope when it comes to BPO, with Xerox looking at crowdsourcing processing work to the semi-urban and rural areas of India soon.

(5) Strike balance between growth and inflation, FM tells RBI

Ahead of next week’s monetary policy, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, on Tuesday, said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) must strike a balance between the needs of pushing growth and controlling inflation.

“I don’t manage the RBI. I just convey the views of the government. It is for the RBI to take a call.

“Our stated position is that the RBI must balance between the needs of stimulating growth and containing inflation,” he told PTI.

The RBI is slated to announce its third quarter review of monetary policy on January 29 amid demands by industry that it should lower interest rates to boost industrial output, which contracted by 0.1 per cent in November.

Before announcing the policy, the RBI Governor holds a customary meeting with the Finance Minister.

In order to contain inflation, the RBI has refrained from lowering interest rates despite nudging by Finance and Commerce ministries that it should take steps to address concerns on growth.

Inflation based on wholesale prices declined to a three-year low of 7.18 per cent in December. However, retail inflation rose for the third successive month in December to 10.56 per cent.

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