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Today's Hot Stories - April 08, 2010

10 Headlines for Today

(1) Kyrgyzstan government ousted in violent revolt
(2) DoT to respond to CAG’s queries within a day or two: Raja
(3) Search operations continue; troops pour into Chintalnar
(4) Sensex falls over 34 points on weak global cues
(5) RBI needs to tighten policy: Sen
(6) US stocks pull back, Dow Jones hovers below 11000
(7) Clueless Deccan Chargers take on Challengers
(8) Knight Riders upstage Daredevils to stay in semi-final hunt
(9) Robben sends 10-man United crashing out of Champions League
(10) Indigenous cryogenic technology to take wings

5 Stories for Today

(1) Maoists fire at CRPF camp in Dantewada
(2) US says no to civil nuclear deal with Pakistan
(3) Montek for 35-kg grain a month to the poor
(4) Billionaires don't gain much: Premji's wealth rises; Singh, Mittal lose
(5) Global hedge fund assets may touch $ 2 trillion by year end

(1) Maoists fire at CRPF camp in Dantewada

Maoists on Wednesday night fired at a CRPF camp in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh defying stepped-up security in the wake of Tuesday’s bloodiest-ever attack on security forces.

The Maoists fired four rounds at the CRPF camp in Palampalli village, which was promptly retaliated by the security personnel, Chhattisgarh DGP Viswa Ranjan.

“This is nothing abnormal. This is a routine activity the Naxals indulge in,” he said.

The Maoists fled after the retaliatory fire in which no casualties were reported.

The firing comes a day after the Maoists wiped out virtually an entire CRPF company, killing 76 CRPF and police personnel in an ambush during a joint offensive against the ultras in the thick forests of Mukrana in Dantewada district.

(2) US says no to civil nuclear deal with Pakistan

Hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his country "qualifies" for a civilian nuclear deal with the US, like that of India, the Obama administration in a blunt message told it that such a deal is not on platter of its talks with Islamabad.

"We are focused on Pakistan's energy needs, but, as we said last week, right now that does not include civilian nuclear energy," assistant secretary of state for public affairs P J Crowley said.

A high-level Pakistani delegation led by the country's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was here last month to launch the US-Pak Strategic Dialogue.

The Pakistani delegation sought a civil nuclear deal with the US on the lines of that of India.

The Obama administration did not give any concrete assurance to Qureshi, neither did it totally reject the request.

Meanwhile, chairing a special meeting of parliamentary committee on national security in Islamabad, Gilani said Pakistan "fully qualifies" for it as it has put in place effective security and non-proliferation measures.

A "well established, foolproof safety and security culture fully qualifies Pakistan for equal participation in civil nuclear cooperation at the international level, which would help us in addressing our immediate energy problems and would bring greater stability as well," Gilani had said.

Crowley reiterated that US has full confidence in the safety and security of nuclear weapons in Pakistan.

"I think various US leaders have expressed confidence in the security of the Pakistani weapons. I'm not going to go any further than that," he said.

Earlier in the day, another Obama administration official said it favors a new global civil-nuclear architecture allowing countries to meet their energy needs without posing proliferation risk.

"The Obama administration has favored new international civil nuclear-energy architecture, an architecture that allows countries around the world to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy without increasing proliferation risks," Robert J Einhorn, special US advisor for nuclear non-proliferation and arms control, said.

"Ideas have been put forward, like fuel-supply assurances, international fuel banks. These are designed to give countries more options, to give them more access to the nuclear fuels they need to run a nuclear-energy program, a nuclear-power program. We have supported these international fuel banks to do that," Einhorn said.

(3) Montek for 35-kg grain a month to the poor

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia is pitching for supply of 35 kg of foodgrains every month at Rs. 3 a kg to the poor, up from 25 kg proposed under the new Food Security Act.It is not wrong or unreasonable to increase the quantity. “This will be costlier but if we are doing it for the poor, it will not be unreasonable,” he said on the sidelines of a CII-organised interaction with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner here on Tuesday night.

Dr. Ahluwalia's remarks came a day after the Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, asked the Commission to provide an exact definition of Below the Poverty Line (BPL) families which are entitled to a specified quantity of rice or wheat every month.

As for the Suresh Tendulkar Committee report on measuring poverty, he said: “We are examining it. We will certainly prepare an estimate of BPL households on the basis of the Committee report.”

The government, he said, would have to decide which data to use while providing the needy food security: the poverty line fixed in the 2004-05 survey or the one to be obtained from the ongoing survey (2009-10) or from a new census (2011).

“The Tendulkar Committee has suggested some increase in the poverty line for rural areas. I don't think it is unreasonable.”

The 2004-05 survey put the number of BPL families at 6.5 crore. It would increase to a little over eight crore, if the methodology suggested by the committee was taken in account.

(4) Billionaires don't gain much: Premji's wealth rises; Singh, Mittal lose

The sensex has taken more than 25 months to claw back to the 18k mark but for many billionaires representing the cream of India Inc, the wait to get back their lost billions has got even longer.

The wealth of many top billionaires is still much lower than what it was on February 1, 2008 when the sensex closed at 18242.6 points. However, a select few such as the Wipro chairman Azim Premji have seen their wealth swell over this period. Premji's fortune jumped 63.6% to Rs 83109.4 crore catapulting him past DLF's K P Singh and Bharti Airtel's Sunil Mittal.

While Mukesh Ambani is still way ahead of others with a total wealth estimated at around Rs 1.72 lakh crore (about $39 billion), it is still below the fortune he had amassed in February 2008. This is largely because the promoter group's stake in Reliance Industries has come down from 51.3% in March to 46.5% now. RIL had raised cash by selling treasury stock from its petroleum trust to prepare for overseas acquisitions.

Anil Ambani's wealth also fell during the period. The younger Ambani's stake in four of his large group firms — Reliance Communication, Reliance Power, Reliance Capital and Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) is now worth about Rs 73,305 crore. He had a fortune of around Rs 1.8 lakh crore in three firms (based on February 1, 2008 closing price for all firms barring RNRL).

Sunil Mittal and K P Singh were among the biggest losers in the billionaires pack. The real estate tycoon's wealth plunged 59.2% to Rs 49876.4 crore. While the fall in DLF's scrip from a heady level of over Rs 800 was the prime reason for the decline, promoter's dilution of about 10% stake in the company also contributed to the drop in wealth. Mittal's wealth dropped 27.2% to Rs 82556 crore.

The wealth of Kumar Mangalam Birla also declined but not much. His stake in four big group firms — Hindalco, Ultratech Cement, Idea Cellular and Grasim declined to Rs 36109.2 crore from about Rs 38300 crore.

Adani group's Gautam Adani also made an entry into the big league largely due to the listing of Adani Power that added Rs 18423.6 crore to his wealth. Adani's fortune is now worth about Rs 56217.6 crore. Top honchos of IT companies have seen a good accretion in their wealth. Despite equity dilution, the promoter's stake in Infosys is now worth Rs 24354.2 crore, up nearly 31%. Other IT firms such as HCL Technologies also witnessed growth.

However, the Indian growth story will shine and wealth of billionaires' will continue to grow. While the western economies are crawling out of the recessionary grip, economies of India and China are recovering faster and seen moving on higher growth trajectory of over 8%.

(5) Global hedge fund assets may touch $ 2 trillion by year end

Global hedge fund assets are likely to return to their pre-crisis peak of nearly $ 2 trillion by the end of the year, led by increased investments in Asia-Pacific focused schemes, a survey by financial services firm Credit Suisse said. According to the annual Hedge Fund Investor Survey, amid the rising optimism about the growth of hedge fund industry, assets are forecast to rise by 25 per cent this year.

“Hedge fund investors estimate that the industry will grow from an estimated $ 1.64 trillion at the end of 2009 to $ 1.97 trillion by the end of the year, which is above the pre-crisis peak and almost identical to the year-end forecast from managers,” the survey stated.

The leader by geographic focus is Asia-Pacific focused strategies, with 61 per cent of investors increasing allocations, the survey revealed.

“Appetite for Asia-Pacific is a clear illustration of the strong recovery in investors’ risk appetites and search for returns, as investors had actually planned net decreases to Asia-Pac at this time last year,” Credit Suisse Managing Director (London) Edgar Senior said.

“This reversal was confirmed by the record attendance at our Hong Kong Hedge Fund forum recently, where sentiment was dramatically more positive than in March 2009,” Mr. Senior said.

Hedge funds refer to investment funds that can take both long and short-term positions, use arbitrage, buy and sell undervalued securities, trade options or bonds and invest in almost any opportunity in any market where it foresees impressive gains at reduced risk.

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