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Today's Hot Stories - March 11, 2011

10 Headlines for Today

(1) Ship-based Dhanush missile test fired
(2) 57 pilots found drunk on duty in '09-10, 11 lost jobs
(3) Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable missile
(4) 90% of BSE 500 stocks in the red this year
(5) Infosys closes big transformational deals
(6) Subway chain longer than Mac's
(7) Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by 139 runs
(8) O'Brien double blow rocks West Indies
(9) Fedex primed for another run at top spot
(10) Stamp honour for Dumbledore

5 Stories for Today

(1) Muslim intellectuals oppose Jamiat's condom diktat
(2) Rebels flee key town under heavy attack
(3) Infosys introduces its new brand positioning
(4) China's trade deficit at 7-yr high
(5) Food inflation in single digit at 9.52%

(1) Muslim intellectuals oppose Jamiat's condom diktat

Muslim intellectuals have slammed a resolution of Jamiat-ulama-i-Hind's managing committee, which urged youth to shun TV and cinema and also hinted that condoms are root cause for sexual anarchy.

Jamiat has prescribed that reform panels should be set up in towns and villages to persuade youth to strictly practice religious rituals, and also steer clear of cinema, TV and other "morally corrupt influences". The blanket ban has evoked protests as many reason that channels like Peace TV and Win TV, which propagate the Muslim way of life, come under purview of the stricture. Mohammed Manzoor Alam, chairman of Institute of Objective Studies, concedes that TV has a lot of positive impact in disseminating information. "The challenge is to take the positive out of both TV and cinema," he says.

(2) Rebels flee key town under heavy attack

Rebel fighters fled this strategic refinery town on Thursday under ferocious rocket attacks and airstrikes by forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

The rout capped several days of fighting as bold plans of a westward drive to Tripoli by the undermanned and ill-equipped rebel army were dashed by the superior Gaddafi forces, which are seeking to retake several eastern oil cities that had slipped from the government's control in the first days of the uprising. Heavy shelling of the city seemed to presage a final assault by government troops.

Explosions rocked a mosque and a hospital that workers abandoned, leaving behind only the body of a man in civilian clothes who they said had been shot in the head by a sniper. Under a steadily escalating barrage, hundreds of rebels in trucks mounted with heavy weapons retreated east along the coastal road.

"There is no comparison between our weapons and theirs," said Mohammed Houni, a student. "They're trained, they're organized. They got their training in the Soviet Union or someplace. It's tough these days, but we still have God."

(3) Infosys introduces its new brand positioning

Infosys Technologies on Thursday introduced a new brand positioning and vision statement for itself, and said it's stepping into a whole new phase that it describes as Infosys 3.0.

The three-decade-old company said the world has changed in dramatic ways, particularly since the recession, which makes changes imperative. The changes are focused particularly on building its business transformation and innovation capabilities, and is clearly also an effort to compete more effectively with global peers like IBM and Accenture that have distinct advantages over Indian IT companies in these areas. For employees, it means developing their talents in these new directions to ensure progress in their careers.

Infosys COO S D Shibulal said that the idea is to move from a technology solutions company to a business solutions company and proactively help customers build the enterprise of tomorrow. The brand positioning statement has accordingly changed from 'Win in the flat world' to 'Building tomorrow's enterprise'.

The earlier statement was meant to convey Infosys's ability to help customers overcome information challenges and quickly adapt to changes through technology in a globalizing world. The new statement is meant to underscore its ability to help customers identify the directions that they should be taking in a world that's rapidly changing and use technology to deliver on those directions in a profitable manner.

Shibulal said that internally, the objective is to ensure that in the next 5-7 years, the company's revenues would come equally from business transformation projects, innovation projects and operational efficiency projects. The last of these is Infy's traditional business (using technology to improve efficiencies in portions of a customer's business) and accounts currently for as much as 65% of revenues. Business transformation deals account for about 25% of revenues and innovation/products business about 9.5%.

Shibulal, who is said to be in line to take over as CEO from Kris Gopalakrishnan later this year, described the company's first 20 years as Infosys 1.0, when it focused on developing and managing technology applications for customers and on building a global delivery model. In the following ten years, or Infosys 2.0, the company developed end-to-end service capabilities, systems integration capabilities, and added some consulting and innovation expertise.

"Now, in Infosys 3.0, we want to be at the intersection of the client's business and technology, and that of global trends, and use this knowledge and expertise to help them transform and move into new directions," he said.

Accordingly, the company is stepping up investments in developing expertise in what it sees as the most important global trends. These include what it calls 'digital consumer' (digital products permeating all aspects of life), 'new commerce' (mobile commerce leading to extremely small transactions), `healthcare economy' (healthcare becoming more preventive, affordable and inclusive), 'sustainable tomorrow' (doing things in an environmentally and socially sustainable way), `smarter organizations' (making organizations more adaptable, less complex), 'emerging economies' (global growth concentrated in these areas) and 'pervasive computing' (all devices becoming computing devices).

Big investments will also go into enhancing Infosys's innovation capabilities. The banking product Finacle has been an early success; more recently, there have been products like Flypp, an application platform that helps mobile operators to more easily monetize, and iEngage, a digital platform to engage consumers across the entire marketing lifecycle. The company now wants to do many more of those, as also co-create products with their customers. "As part of this, we have brought together all our software engineering and technology labs into one single, broad-based one that we now call Infosys Lab. We also have a new group looking at product incubation," Shibulal said.

(4) China's trade deficit at 7-yr high

China swung to a surprise trade deficit of $7.3 billion in February, its largest in seven years, as the Lunar New Year holiday dealt an unexpectedly sharp blow to exports.

It was China's first trade deficit since March last year and its biggest since February 2004. Economists, who had forecast a small surplus of $4.95 billion, said that the sudden drop was likely to prove temporary.

"We did expect exports to slow last month, but I think nobody had expected such a weak outcome," said Nie Wen, an analyst at Hwabao Trust in Shanghai. "There is little chance that China will have a trade deficit again, and the monthly trade surplus may pick up in the second half of this year," he added. Still, the extent of the slowdown in both exports and imports caught markets by surprise. Asian stocks tumbled on worries that monetary tightening in China and other emerging markets was taking a real chunk out of economic growth.

The deficit will at least be welcome news on two fronts for the Chinese government, helping it dampen inflationary pressure and deflect calls for faster yuan appreciation. Cash inflows from the country's vast trade surplus over the past few years have been a root cause of China's recent run-up in prices.

Inflation reached a 28-month high of 5.1% in the year to November. Data due on Friday is expected to show that it pulled back to 4.7% in February. With tightening policies beginning to have an impact, China is confident that it can achieve its 2011 goal of holding inflation to an average of 4% this year, Ma Jiantang, the government's statistics chief, said on Thursday.

His comments followed a report in an official newspaper that bank lending in February was much less than expected , indicating that Beijing has scored some success in reining in credit issuance , a crucial part of its campaign to control inflation .

(5) Food inflation in single digit at 9.52%

After a gap of nearly three months, food inflation fell to a single digit at 9.52 per cent for the week ended February 26 on account of a decline in prices of potatoes, pulses and wheat.

Food inflation stood at 10.39 per cent in the previous week. The rate of price rise of food items has fallen to a single-digit figure for the first time since the week ended December 4, 2010, when it was 9.46 per cent.

The latest figures are expected to give a breather to the government, which has been under increasing pressure to rein in the inflationary pressure caused by high food and crude oil prices.

For the week under review, prices of wheat declined by 1.07 per cent on an annual basis, while pulses rates fell by 3.91 per cent.

Prices of potatoes also fell by nearly 9 per cent year-on-year.

However, vegetables continued to be expensive and their prices went up by 9.23 per cent on annual basis. In particular, onion prices were up by 3.90 per cent year-on-year.

Rice also became dearer by 1.16 per cent year-on-year.

Egg, meat and fish became 15.38 per cent costlier.

Meanwhile, fruits prices rose by 18.75 per cent and milk by 8.42 per cent on an annual basis.

The non-food articles category saw a price rise of 29.85 per cent during the week on an annual basis.

Fuel and power also became 9.48 per cent more expensive, while petrol became costlier by 23.14 per cent.

High food prices have been one of the major factors behind high overall inflation. Headline inflation in the country stood at 8.23 per cent in January and the government has exuded confidence that it will fall to 7 per cent by March-end.

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