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Today's Hot Stories - April 14, 2010

10 Headlines for Today

(1) Talks between Gujjars and Rajasthan Government on the reservation issue collapsing
(2) Karnataka government is considering giving second capital status to Belgaum.
(3) NATO troops open fire on bus, kill 4 Afghan civilians in Kandahar
(4) IT major Infosys Technologies reported Q-4 net profit at Rs. 1,617 crore
(5) GAIL ties up with Engineers India LTD. to sell CNG in cities
(6) Us military warns of world energy crisis by 2015.
(7) IPL: 3 – Mumbai Indians beat Delhi Daredevils by 39 runs
(8) India beat Pakistan by 58-24 in World Sup Kabaddi Final
(9) Pakistani Cricketer Shahid Afridi appeals against the fine imposed on him by PCB.
(10) The Trade deficit of USA increase 7.4 % in February

5 Stories for Today

(1) Rahul takes on Mayawati in her home turf on Ambedkar's Birthday
(2) Kyrgyzstan on threshold of civil war: Russia
(3) Infosys touches new high on strong sales outlook
(4) Yuan to raise ‘a Bit More,’ Brazilian central bank President Meirelles Says
(5) Centre releases Rs 34 crore for NFSM in Bengal

(1) Rahul takes on Mayawati in her home turf on Ambedkar's Birthday

With eyes firmly fixed on dalit votes, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday took on BSP supremo Mayawati on her home turf in Uttar Pradesh’s dalit dominated Ambedkar Nagar and termed her government as ‘anti-dalit’ and ‘anti-poor’ and exhorted people to support Congress for ‘changing the face of UP’.

Addressing a well attended meeting of party workers before flagging off 10 statewide ‘sandesh yatras’ (awareness march) to commemorate Congress' 125 years of establishment, Rahul alleged that the Mayawati government was not interested in the development of dalits.

“The centre sends crores of rupees to UP for various welfare schemes but the money does not reach the districts and villages. Rahul also castigated the BSP for questioning him whenever he visits a dalit household. “People question me when I visit villages, go to dalit households...I go there as I feel that India lives there,” he said.

Rahul stressed on a ‘new kind of politics in UP’, which he called the ‘politics of youth’. He asked the youths to come forward and change the state, which lagged behind other states in all the fields.

He also referred to the impressive performance of the congress in UP in the 2009 general elections and said that though the media had written the party off. “Everyone was surprised after the results,” he said. Exhorting the responsive crowd to support his party, Rahul Gandhi said that Congress would usher in development in the state.He involved in a political war of sorts with BSP supremo Mayawati over dalit votes in Uttar Pradesh, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was denied permission to garland the statue of dalit icon B R Ambedkar on Wednesday in Ambedkar Nagar town. And that’s turn the Political water to boiled on.

(2) Kyrgyzstan on threshold of civil war: Russia

Russia today warned that Kyrgyzstan was on the brink of a civil war and may split as the Central Asian Republic's warring leaders failed to strike a compromise on ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev's offer to step down.

In his first comments on Kyrgyz developments, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev blamed Bakiyev's government for failing to prevent the unrest and said the risk of a civil war in the Central Asian country is high.

"The risk of Kyrgyzstan splitting into two parts - North and South - really exists... Kyrgyzstan is on the threshold of a civil war, and the forces in Kyrgyzstan should be aware of their responsibility," Medvedev said in Washington, according to Russian media.

He said that if a civil war sparks off in the former Soviet republic bordering China in the east, terrorists and extremists of every kind will rush into this region.

"It is during such conflicts that a favourable ground for radicals and extremists is created, and then instead of Kyrgyzstan we get a second Afghanistan," Medvedev warned addressing 'Brookings' think tank.

Earlier, the US embassy in Bishkek had also denied any plans to grant political asylum to Bakiyev, who after fleeing the capital on April 7 in the wake of bloody riots and capture of power in the Central Asian republic had taken refuge in his native village Tyeit in Jalal-Abad region in the south of the country.

Russian and Kyrgyz media reported about negotiations by Kyrgyz NGO leaders with Bakiyev and interim government's one of several vice Premiers Azimbek Geknazarov's presence in the south of the country to negotiate the terms of Bakiyev's resignation, who has sought guaranties of security for him and close relatives.

In Bishkek, interim Prime Minister Roza Otunbayeva rejected Bakiyev's offer to step down, saying "the people and the nation will not permit this. He should be put on trial in the court" for the bloodshed during the recent protests against his regime.

"What concerns his (Bakiyev's) relatives and former defence minister - they are the persons who killed their fellow citizens and there can be no assurances of their security except for their legal protection in the court," Otunbayeva was quoted as saying by Interfax after her talks with visiting US assistance secretary of State Robert Blake.

Blake, the first high-profile US official to visit Bishkek after a violent coup, expressed "optimism" at the action plan of new authorities in the Central Asian Republic, where the US has a transit base for sending troops and materials to support Afghanistan operations.

Otunbayeva, however, did not rule out the possibility of negotiations with the deposed Kyrgyz president.

"Interim vice premier Azimbek Beknazarov is in the south (where Bakiyev has taken refuge) and will be travelling to Osh and Jalal-Abad," Otunbaeva was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Entrenched in his native village in South of the country, Bakiyev yesterday expressed readiness for talks and resignation if the interim government in Bishkek provided the guarantees of security for him and his close relatives.

In Moscow, a pro-Kremlin political pundit Sergei Markov, meanwhile, said like many newly independent states emerged on the map of former USSR, Kyrgyzstan is a "failed state" and the development there will destabilize the situation in other neighboring Central Asian republics.

(3) Infosys touches new high on strong sales outlook

Shares in Infosys Technologies surged to a new all-time high on Thursday after strong sales forecast by India's No. 2 software services exporter boosted the demand outlook for outsourcing services.

Analysts say Infosys' stronger-than-expected sales forecast for the fiscal year to March 2011 suggests a gradual recovery for India's $60 billion software services sector, though a stronger rupee and higher pay are worries.

At 11.30 am (0600 GMT), Infosys shares were trading up 1% at Rs2,810, after having risen as much as 1.5% to a record high of Rs2,823.80. The BSE Sensex was trading 0.3% higher.

The IT sector index rose as much as 1.5% to its highest since February 2007.

Shares in sector leader Tata Consultancy Services, which is expected to report a 38% rise in March quarter net profit on Monday, rose as much as 1.8% to Rs834.90.

Deutsche Bank said Infosys' dollar revenue outlook for fiscal year 2010-11 was higher than the 12-15% range expected by the Street, and that the growth momentum for the company was expected to continue in the coming quarters.

Infosys, which counts Goldman Sachs, BT Group and BP among its customers, on Tuesday forecast revenue for fiscal 2011 to rise 16% to 18% in US dollars.

Tata Consultancy, Infosys and No. 3 Wipro have revived hiring and are competing for staff and orders with IBM, Accenture and Hewlett-Packard as demand for outsourcing picks up.

Infosys is well placed to beat its outlook for this year due to the strong recovery in demand in the second half of the year to March 2011, Deutsche Bank said in a note, maintaining its "buy" recommendation on the stock.

(4) Yuan to raise ‘a Bit More,’ Brazilian central bank President Meirelles Says

China may let the Yuan gain “a bit more” within 12 months as the world’s third-largest economy moves away from a currency policy that creates distortions, Brazilian central bank President Henrique Meirelles said.

“We will see a bit more appreciated currency in a gradual move towards an open economy” a year from now, Meirelles, 64, said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Brasilia tomorrow. “We have expressed our opinion that all the currencies should float, and the Chinese currency should float as well.”

Meirelles’s comments add to international pressure on China to end the Yuan’s peg to the dollar just as the heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India and China ready for their second summit in Brasilia this week. Hu told President Barack Obama yesterday that China wouldn’t yield to “external pressure” after the U.S. leader urged the Asian country to move toward a “more market-oriented exchange rate.”

Twelve-month non-deliverable Yuan forwards rose 0.02 percent to 6.6353 per dollar as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The contracts reflect bets the currency will strengthen 2.7 percent from the spot rate of 6.8256.

A stronger Yuan would boost manufacturing exports for several countries, Meirelles said in the interview yesterday. For Brazil, a weaker Yuan creates fewer problems than for other countries, he said.

‘Severe Distortions’

China surpassed the U.S. as Brazil’s biggest trading partner last year, as exports of iron-ore and soy increased during the global financial crisis while sales of manufacturing goods to the U.S. declined.

The appreciation of the Yuan “probably would mitigate the fact that Chinese exports are low priced,” Meirelles said. The weak currency “is a problem for some industrial sectors. It creates severe distortions in the world economy.” ,

Yuan forwards rose by the most this year on April 8 after the New York Times reported that the Chinese government is “very close” to changing its exchange-rate policy that has held the yuan at about 6.83 per dollar since July 2008.

China may allow the Yuan to appreciate by June 30 to curb inflation while avoiding a one-time jump in value that might endanger export jobs, a Bloomberg survey showed. The Chinese central bank will allow the currency to float more freely this quarter, 12 of 19 respondents said in the survey.

‘Welcome Move’

Meirelles said it was up to China, as a sovereign nation, to manage its economy as it best saw fit. Any appreciation would be a “welcome move” that will help correct global economic imbalances, he said.

U.S. lawmakers such as Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, complain that China is deliberately keeping the value of the Yuan depressed to help its exporters, and have urged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to label China a currency manipulator.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, China and India held their first conference last June in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, and ended the summit calling for emerging economies to have a greater voice in international financial institutions. Meirelles said he expected that this week the leaders will discuss ways to increase trade in local currencies.

(5) Centre releases Rs 34 crore for NFSM in Bengal

With a view to enhance productivity of wheat, rice and pulses, Centre has released close to Rs 34 crore under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) for West Bengal.,

Out of this, about Rs 17 crore is meant for rice production, Rs 4.76 crore is sanctioned for wheat cultivation, and close to Rs 12 crore is earmarked for pulses, according to a circular available the West Bengal government website.

The fund comes as the second installment of funds under NFSM for the state in the year 2009-10.

The districts covered under the scheme are Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur,West Medinipore, East Medinipore, South 24-Parganas, Howrah, Purulia, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia and Birbhum.

According to information available at the NFSM website (minutes of the meeting held on 19 December 2009), the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC) had expressed concerns over “low performance” of West Bengal and UP, especially in the seed sector.

In the meeting, West Bengal had expressed in distribution of seeds as one of the reasons for poor performance.

The DAC has recently proposed to engage consultants assist National Mission Director and states in planning, execution and monitoring of the NFSM. At present, six states, viz Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal, account for nearly 70 per cent of funds under the Mission. Launched in 2007, NFSM is meant to increase production and productivity of wheat, rice and pulses on a sustainable basis so as to ensure food security of the country.

The approach is to bridge the yield gap in respect of these crops through dissemination of improved technologies and farm management practices.

The funds for implementing the mission programme are released directly to the state level agency, which in turn allocates the funds at the district level. The state-level agency is also expected to ensure the implementation of the programme in a time-bound manner.

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