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Today's Hot Stories - March 29, 2011

10 Headlines for Today

(1) Kalmadi blamed for delay in executing CWG contracts
(2) CBI looks into Balwa-Huawei connection
(3) Libyan rebels gain ground, seize Gaddafi's home town
(4) Microfinance institutions face Rs 6,500-cr bad loans in AP
(5) Tepid response to NELP-IX
(6) China's Sina drops Google search service
(7) Petkovic upsets Wozniacki
(8) Ricky Ponting steps down as Australian captain
(9) Sri Lanka may exploit worn pitch with three spinners
(10) Temple to be built in Vasundhara Raje's honour

5 Stories for Today

(1) 'Operation alert' at Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan
(2) UAE to support India's UNSC bid
(3) Despite hiccups, a solid year for public issues
(4) Microsoft names ex-Oracle India MD as India chair
(5) Manufacturing sector records faster growth

(1) 'Operation alert' at Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan

The BSF has launched 'Operation Alert' along the Indo-Pak international border in Jaisalmer, ahead of Wednesday's cricket match between the two countries in Mohali. "Arrangements for special surveillance and patrolling with highly efficient equipments have been made in the border area. All the officers have been directed to ensure a perfect border management in their respective sectors, besides ensuring security," BSF DIG B R Meghwal said in Jaisalmer."The BSF in all the bordering areas, including Barmer, Bikaner,s Jaisalmer, Sriganganagar, in the state have been put on high alert, following an advisory from the Home Ministry in the view of the cricket match scheduled for tomorrow in Mohali," officials said.

(2) UAE to support India's UNSC bid

India's relations with the UAE touched a new high this year after the Emirates came out in strong support for New Delhi's quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. The pledge came during the maiden visit of President Pratibha Patil to the Emirates, home to 1.75 million Indians.

The visit came at a time when UAE has emerged as India's largest trading partner in terms of total trade exchange in the first half of 2010, with USD 43 billion bilateral trade, and oil imports by India accounting for USD five billion. Indian and UAE trade exchange has multiplied 13 times over the past 10 years with non oil sectors slowly gaining a predominant share.President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan stated that UAE would certainly support India, which had the right to be a permanent member of a reformed UN Security Council.

The two sides also agreed on regional security as an area of enhanced cooperation and to address issues relating to counter terrorism and maritime security. India has invited UAE's Interior Minister to New Delhi for signing an agreement on the issue.

India and the UAE agreed to enhance the strategic relationship by focusing on areas such as education, science and technology, regional security and many other areas where there is a potential for cooperation. India and the UAE politically share common perceptions on major international issues which became more evident during the visit of the President, said M K Lokesh, India's ambassador to the UAE.

During her visit, President Patil also launched a 24 hour helpline and counselling service dedicated to help Indian workers in distress in the UAE.

A striking display of India's growing soft power footprint in the Gulf region was the launch, on May 24 this year, of the international version of CBSE curriculum in Dubai. Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal had described the CBSE as an "internationally benchmarked curriculum", with 30 Indian schools in nine countries using it from the current academic year. The curriculum's global format is aimed at attracting schools catering to the large expatriate Indian population as well as non Indian students planning to pursue higher studies in India.

(3) Despite hiccups, a solid year for public issues

In a volatile financial year that saw India's premier index, the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex yo-yo from a low of 16,002 on May 25 to 21,004 on November 5, public share issues mobilised Rs 46,267 crore in 2010-11. This is the third highest ever collection, only lagging IPO and FPO collections in 2007-08 and 2009-10.

The highest amount raised in a year in public offerings was Rs 52,219 crore in 2007-08."The mobilisation in the year could have been higher but for the deferment of some large PSU offerings and the continuing volatility in the secondary market, especially in the last quarter; compared to Rs 29,514 crore raised in the 3rd quarter, the 4th quarter yielded only Rs 4,468 crore," said Prithvi Haldea, chairman and MD, Prime Database.

The year witnessed strong primary market activity by the PSUs and PSU banks that accounted for a total raising of Rs 27,537 crore or 60% of the total amount — compared to Rs 31,082 crore raised in 2009-10. Coal India raised Rs 15,199 crore — 33% of the total money raised in the primary market. Seven PSUs raised funds through public issues during the year.

According to Prime Database, there were 57 public issues in 2010-11, compared to 44 in the preceding year. This included 52 IPOs and 5 FPOs.

The average deal size for the year was Rs 811 crore, down from Rs 1,067 crore in 2009-10.

During the yea, only Rs 21,065 crore was raised through fresh capital, while the remaining Rs 25,201 crore were raised through offers for sale (proceeds go to the seller — government, promoters, venture funds and investors, not to the company).As the markets remained strong in the first three quarters, the issues witnessed good response. As many as 35 issues were oversubscribed by more than 3 times (including the Coal India's IPO, which got oversubscribed by 15 times).

(4) Microsoft names ex-Oracle India MD as India chair

The world's top software firm Microsoft has named former managing director of Oracle's India operations, Bhaskar Pramanik, chairman of its India unit. Microsoft said that Pramanik will oversee sales, marketing and services operations of Microsoft India, which employs more than 5,300 staff across two development centers and 13 marketing offices.

Outside of the United States, Microsoft's largest employee base is in India.

Pramanik's appointment is the latest in a line of top-level changes at the Indian operations of global technology firms.

Pramanik, who announced his resignation from Oracle in March, replaces Ravi Venkatesan, who quit Microsoft India in February.Venkatesan was the second top-rung official to quit Microsoft India in six months after former managing director Rajan Anandan, who was named head of Google's operations in January.

(5) Manufacturing sector records faster growth

India's manufacturing industry grew faster in the current fiscal compared to last year, with a majority of the sectors growing at more than 10%, according to a survey conducted by a leading industry body. Of the 121 sectors covered by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) ASCON survey, 41 grew at more than 20% in 2010-11, compared to 34 sectors in the previous fiscal.

The output from 26 more sectors increased between 10 and 20% against 30 sectors last fiscal, while 49 sectors grew by up to 10%, compared to 23 sectors which logged a similar output in 2009-10, the survey found.

"In spite of high inflation and rising input cost, a vast majority of industry sectors is set to record higher growth in the 2010-11 financial year than in the previous year", Chandrajit Banerjee, CII's director general, said in a statement.However, some five sectors, including edible oils like sunflower oil, asbestos cement and tea, saw a dip in production.There were 25 sectors that saw a fall in output in 2009-10.

Among the sectors that grew the fastest are machine tools (51%), nuclear electricity (39.9), fertiliser (37.2), ball and roller bearings (33), earth moving and construction equipment (30), air conditioners (29.4), vehicle industry (28.2) and textile machinery (25).

Also according to the survey, on the basis of sales and exports, out of 30 sectors that reported sales figures, 18 were expected to show more than a 20% rise, while eight sectors could see sales increase by 10-20%.The industry body, however, urged the government to address long-pending challenges faced by the manufacturing industry immediately to maintain the growth momentum.

Lack of proper infrastructure in power, transport and water, shortage of skilled labour, poor availability of finance - especially micro finance, delays in environmental clearances and no proper government policy on land acquisition were highlighted as some of the issues that were constraining growth.

"Many sectors are coming under pressure due to rising cost of raw materials and fuel. Rising interest costs will put further pressure on margins in the coming year," Banerjee said.

He added: "To allow industry to expand capacity, the government should pursue the reform agenda, including streamlining of land acquisition and faster environment clearance."

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