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Showing posts from March, 2011

'India among the most corrupt nations'

India finds itself bracketed with countries like Philippines and Cambodia, rated as the fourth most corrupt nation among 16 countries of the Asia Pacific region surveyed by leading Hong Kong-based business consultancy firm PERC.

The Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd (PERC) rated India at 8.67 on a scale of zero to 10 with the high end being the worst case of corruption scenario and ahead of the Philippines (8.9 points), Indonesia (9.25 points) and Cambodia (9.27 points).

Among the 16 countries reviewed in its latest report, Thailand was rated at 11 with a scale of 7.55, followed by China (7.93) and Vietnam (8.3).

Comparatively, Singapore was given a clean sheet with a score of 0.37, followed by Hong Kong (1.10), Australia (1.39), Japan (1.90) and USA (2.39), putting them in the top five.

In India, according to the report, civil and other local-level political leaders were found more corrupt than the national-level political leaders, with the former given a score of 9.25 and th…

'Child's education expenditure up 168 pc in 6 yrs'

Parents' annual spending on a child's education has risen by over 168 per cent to Rs 94,000 between 2005 and 2011, a study has said.

In 2005, the education expenditure was about Rs 35,000 a year, said the Assocham study.

"The expenses have increased due to hike in tuition fees, books, uniform, transportation, tuitions and extra-curricular activities," it added.

The chamber surveyed about 2,000 parents, with a minimum salary of Rs 7 lakh annually, in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

The rising cost of education has become a major cause of worry for parents with a majority of them spending more than 18-20 lakh on average on child's schooling, the study said.

The cost of education is increasing every year, parallel to the inflation, it added. The general inflation in February was 8.31 per cent.

The parents' annual income, on an average, has risen up to 32 per cent in the past six years, the study said.

It also said that majority of parents believe it is dif…

Much ahead of monsoon, MCD starts work to prevent dengue

Taking cue from last year's steep rise in the number of dengue cases, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has started working to prevent any deficiencies in containing mosquitoes through its 'rapid response teams'.

The 12 response teams, each comprising an entomologist, three-four field workers and two assistant malaria inspectors, will visit different zones of the city to detect mosquito breeding and if found, it will take immediate measures to prevent it from spreading, a senior MCD official said.

The teams have been set up to look into deficiencies and to contain mosquitoes, he said.

The MCD has decided that the domestic breeding checkers, who undertake house-to-house surveys to prevent mosquito breeding, will also start work on April 1, much ahead of the monsoon season.

The hastened steps from MCD come close on the heels of the first report of dengue fever in the city after a doctor at AIIMS was diagnosed with the virus earlier this month.

Much against the normal belief that…

Urea decontrol: Govt to meet fertiliser cos in 2-3 days

The Fertiliser Ministry today said it will hold a meeting with the industry in the next 2-3 days to discuss decontrolling of urea in line with potassic and phosphate fertilisers.This decision was taken at the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS), which is studying the feasibility of freeing the urea sector.

"Nothing is finalised yet (on urea decontrol). We still have to consult with stakeholders and that meeting we will have in next 2-3 days," Fertiliser Secretary Sutanu Behuria told reporters after the CoS meeting here.

The committee has not yet arrived at a subsidy model for urea, as it is still trying to address the issues of the stakeholders, he said.

Fertiliser companies such as DCM Sriram, Kribhco and Nagarjuna Fertilisers have expressed certain concerns, said a senior official present in the meeting.

The government had introduced the Nutrient-based Subsidy (NBS) scheme in April 2010 wherein it decontrolled potassic and phosphate fertilisers, but kept its control …

Water - a major future problem in Jharkhand

The growth and development of agriculture and allied sectors in Jharkhand faces a serious problem of scarcity and contamination of surface and ground water due to domestic and industrial waste, according to the Jharkhand Economic Survey 2010-11.

As per the survey, the acute shortage of irrigation water and shrinking watershed areas in forest regions poses additional problems.

The survey said surface water for agriculture was not sufficient due to inadequate storage facilities and ground water availability was poor due to little recharging through natural processes and the absence of artificial recharging facilities.

"As a result, the water level in the plateau is going down," said the survey.

The state government is implementing several schemes to reduce the adverse effect of water scarcity like rain water harvesting, enhancing the efficiency of the canal irrigation system, ground water management and watershed management.

"Water is the most critical resource and is expected…

Contribution of agriculture in Jharkhand's GSDP down to 10 pc

Contribution of the agriculture sector in Jharkhand's Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) has decreased from 16 per cent in 2000-01 to 10 per cent in 2009-10 at constant (1999-2000) prices, according to the Jharkhand Economic Survey 2010-11.

The peak agriculture output in real terms reached to Rs 6,500 crore in 2001-02 and since then it is fluctuating around Rs 5,000 crore, the survey said.

"Agriculture in the state continues to remain dependent on vagaries of monsoon and no breakthrough has been achieved since the formation of the state," it added.

Only in 2001-02 the agriculture experienced maximum growth rate of 37 percent, but it was almost stagnant from 2007-08 onwards with growth rate less than a percent, it says.

The report also says the state had not benefited from the green revolution technology either before or after the formation of the state.

The reason behind shortfall of growth rate, argues the report, was largely on account of delayed and erratic rainfall every…

Homoeopathy sector may touch Rs 4,600 cr by 2012

Indian homoeopathy market may grow by 30 per cent and touch Rs 4,600 crore by 2012, due to its effective treatment of chronic diseases like respiratory disorders and arthritis, an Assocham study has said.

In 2010 calendar year, the domestic homoeopathy market size was estimated at about Rs 2,758 crore.

"The main reason for growing homoeopathy market is its effective and cheaper treatment for chronic ailments compared to allopathic and ayurvedic medicines," the study said.

Besides, it said, the treatment is considered to be safe and has no side-effects.

"In 2009-10, the treatment helped around 10-12 crore people in diagnosing their ailments. This number is likely to exceed 16 crore in the next two to three years," the study said.

At present, there are more than five lakh registered homoeopaths in the country, it said.

The international homoeopathy market is also growing at a rate of 25 per cent annually and is estimated at Rs 26,300 crore, it added.

Over 37 per cent girls marry before 18 in Orissa: UNICEF

Praising the state government for successfully reducing the infant mortality rate by more than 25 points, state chief of UNICEF said that still 37 per cent girls get married before the age of 18.

Shairose Mawji, the state chief of UNICEF said while addressing a function marking the release of State of the World's Children report.

"This has serious repercussions particularly on the health of young women when we consider child birth," she said adding over 14 per cent women aged 15-19 years were already mothers or pregnant at the time of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-III) in 2005-06.

Main reason for all this is lack of education especially among women, she pointed out adding, in rural parts of the state, girls are less likely to attend school than boys and this gap increases by age.

The minimum legal age for marriage in India is 21 years for boys and 18 years for girls.

"Between the age of 6-10 years, 86 per cent boys and 82 per cent girls attend school. But by the ag…

Literacy rate in J&K rises by over 10%

The literacy rate in Jammu and Kashmir has risen to 65.57 per cent as against 55.52 per cent in 2001-02, state Education Minister said.

"All the parameters of education have witnessed marked improvement over the years and the state is marching fast towards total literacy," state Education Minister informed the Assembly.

While the male literacy has risen to 75.30 per cent, the female literacy has touched 57.11 per cent, he said, adding that the gender gap has also recorded significant drop to an all time low 16.59 per cent.

Presently 16.60 lakh children are studying in government schools with a total dropout recorded at 39,150 as against 3.76 lakh in 2004-05, state Education Minister said.

A total of 680 middle school buildings and 5,467 additional classrooms were constructed throughout the state to tide over accommodation problem of the students, state Education Minister said.

The government will provide free of cost uniforms to all the students of government schools next fiscal …

Over half of B'lore sewage flows into storm water drains,lakes

More than half the sewage generated in Bangalore is directly discharged into stormwater drains and lakes, contaminating water bodies and ground water, a CAG report revealed.

The existing sewage network covers only 40 per cent of Bangalore Metropolitan Region (BMR) and the sewage treatment plants receive only 47 per cent of the sewage generated, says the report of the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) for the year ended March 31, 2010.

"The remaining 53 per cent was discharged directly into stormwater drains and lakes, contaminating water bodies and groundwater", according to the report, tabled in the current session of the State Legislative Assembly.

"The groundwater quality in BMR was affected due to presence of pollutants in excess of permissible limits".

Though concentration of air pollutants continued to be high at many places in BMR, an effective plan to control air pollution could not be drawn up due to non-finalisation of source apportionment studie…

Telecom second most corruption-prone sector in India: Survey

Telecommmunications, under limelight in recent months due to the 2G scam, has been voted as the second most corruption-prone sector in India after real estate and construction, according to a survey by KPMG.

The survey, covering corporate India, also found that a huge majority of corporates believe India can surpass an annual growth rate of over 9 per cent if corruption is controlled, while self-critically admitting that private sector is greatly responsible for bribery and nepotism.

The survey is based on responses from 100 Indian and multi-national corporations operating in the country in diverse areas, including transportation and logistics, aviation, oil and gas, consumer goods, financial services, auto and chemicals.

As per the final results, 32 per cent of the respondents named real estate and construction sector as most prone to corruption. In second place came telecommunications, which was named by 17 per cent respondents as the most corruption prone sector in India.

The telecom s…

Women's Empowernment Festival held in Delhi

Women from marginalised sections of society Sunday had an opportunity to interact with experts who addressed their queries on self-employment, self defence, legal rights and health issues.

Jamia Millia Islamia and Delhi Education Society Sunday organised 'Women's Empowerment Festival' where the fair sex exchanged ideas concerning them.

The festival provided an opportunity for marginalised women to interact with experts and address their queries related to self employment, skill development, legal issues, self defence, rights and health.

"Jamia Millia Islamia and Delhi Education Society have organised this festival with an aim to empower and educate marginalised women, especially Muslims, of their rights and opportunities," Shabiha Hussain, organiser and Assistant Professor at JMI, said.

The university also provided free health and dental check up to women. "I have pain in joints and I came here to seek advise of physiotherapists here after several women of my co…

3,800 school vehicles challaned in Delhi

A whopping 3,800 vehicles ferrying school children were challaned this year for violating traffic regulations, with the maximum number of cases reported in the first fortnight of February.

According to Delhi Police statistics, 1,894 school buses and 1,916 mini-buses ferrying students were prosecuted in the capital this year till February 15 for flouting traffic rules, including violation of Supreme Court directions.

A senior police official said a driver was also arrested in connection with a non-fatal accident.

"A special drive against school vans and buses involved in overloading and unauthorised vehicles plying began on January 31," a senior police official said.

As many as 1,102 drivers were prosecuted in the national capital on a single day on February one for violating traffic rules while ferrying children to schools. During the first ten days of February, police challaned 2,011 drivers.

Prosecution included some of the drivers not having even driving licences, red light ju…

Graft charges against 128 MCD officials, booked

A total of 128 officials of Municipal Corporation of Delhi have been booked on corruption charges since 2008, though no such case was reported in the first two months of this year.

In the last three years, CBI and Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi government have registered 64 corruption cases involving 128 officials of the civic agency and 48 of them have been suspended during the same period.

The highest number of 60 officials were booked in 2008, followed by 43 in 2009 and 25 in 2010, official figures show. However, in the first month of this year, no such cases were filed against any official of the civic agency.

Of the 64 cases, 52 are at various stages of investigation, one is at the stage of prosecution sanction while 11 cases are under trial.

Just 9 pc of senior mgmt positions in India held by women

Few women hold top positions in corporate houses worldwide, but the situation is even worse in India, as a mere nine per cent of senior management level positions in the country are occupied by the fairer sex, a survey has found.

Globally, 20 per cent of senior management positions are held by women, down from 24 per cent in 2009, as per the latest finding of Grant Thornton's International Business Report.

What is more, about 38 per cent of businesses worldwide have no women at the senior management level.

The situation is, however, better in the Asian continent, as women representation is comparatively higher in Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, at 30-45 per cent.

However, women's presence in top corporate positions is below 10 per cent in India, Japan and UAE.

At some point in time, every women needs to strike a balance between her personal and professional life, if not make a choice between the two, and most Indian women tend to opt for family over career,study said.


States slow in abolishing manual scavenging: NHRC

Expressing concern over slow pace of abolition of manual scavenging and dry latrines, National Human Rights Commission today said the statistics projected in this regard by the public authorities, do not match the ground realities.

On the issue of manual scavenging, NHRC Chairperson Justice (retd) K G Balakrishnan said it is a matter of concern that the states are very slow in implementing the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993.

"As it is, even the 1993 Act is a half-hearted effort on abolition of manual scavenging given that there is no authority made accountable therein who can be held responsible for continuance of this practice", he said.

Equating manual scavengers with bonded labourers, the NHRC Chairperson said that they too need to be rehabilitated in a similar manner.

Describing shortage of water as an excuse in replacing dry latrines with flush latrines, Balakrishnan regretted that even the Railways have failed to pu…

IMPACT: 'Free sanitary napkins for poor students'

In a novel initiative, Delhi government will soon make available sanitary napkins free of cost to girl students from poor families in all schools run by it to ensure that their attendance do not suffer due to hygiene-related issues.

The initiative is being taken to address high levels of absenteeism by girls students from poor families.

"We had decided to come out with the scheme after finding that a large number of girl students skip school because of monthly periods," an official said.

The napkins will also be made available in all gender resource centres (GRC) across the city. The government had set up nearly 100 GRCs which are one stop shop for to get benefits of various government schemes.

As the poor families cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins for their children. So keeping that in mind government is coming out with the scheme.

Although there is no data available on how hygiene- related issues affect education of girl students from poor families in Delhi, a study (http:/…

Women's participation in politics: India ranks 98 in the world

On the occasion of International Women's Day, statistics reveal that India lags behind many countries, including its neighbours Pakistan and Nepal, when it comes to women's participation in politics.

With only 10.8 per cent of women representation in the Lok Sabha and 10.3 per cent in the Rajya Sabha, India ranks 98 in the world, according to the data released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an international group that works for promoting democracy, peace and co-operation in the world.

India, the world's largest democracy, has now only 59 women representatives out of 545 members in Lok Sabha, while there are 25 female MPs in the 242-member Rajya Sabha.

While India shares its position with Benin and Jordan, it is ranked 47 places below Pakistan and 80 places behind Nepal.

With 22.2 per cent women MPs in its Lower House and 17 per cent in the Upper House, Pakistan is placed 51 while Nepal is ranked 18, with 33.3 per cent of female MPs in its parliament, according to the …

More women should occupy leadership positions: Report

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh may have the highest rates of women's representation at different levels of governance due to quota system, but it has not translated into women occupying leadership positions in these countries, says a new UN report.

More emphasis must be placed on having women elected into leadership positions, says the new report from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Across different levels of sub-national government, it is countries with quotas such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan or other affirmative action policies such as Vietnam, which have the largest rates of women's representation, the report says.

"However, this does not translate into women's election to leadership positions such as council chairs or heads," it adds.

More countries in Asia and the Pacific than ever before have elected local governments and national parliaments, yet stronger action is needed to ensure women are elected to local representative and leadership…

Census of Homeless in Delhi- "another form of corruption"

They may have braved the winter chill and roamed many filthy by-lanes at night, but lack of sensitivity on part of enumerators to the poor has made a mockery of the Census of the homeless in the national capital with many of them left out of the process, study revealed.

Enumeration of the homeless in the city was officially concluded on March 1. But, a group of NGOs working for the homeless alleged that the exercise was flawed and a huge number of the destitute were left out of the counting process.

"The whole enumeration process was a farce," said Indo Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), an NGO working with the homeless.

"The attitude of the enumerators was actually the biggest problem in the whole exercise. They were insensitive towards the homeless and even some picked up fights with them on petty issues. Many of the enumerators were drunk," IGSSS told.

The Census of the homeless in Delhi had turned out to be "another form of corruption", IGSSS added.


Taiwan offers scholarship to Indian medical students

With an aim of enhancing academic cooperation between the two sides, Taiwan has decided to offer 10 full scholarships of medical-related courses for Indian students at the prestigious Taipei Medical University.

The scholarships are being offered by the Taiwanese Government for Indian students to pursue medical-related Master or PhD degree programme starting from the academic year September 2011.

Officials at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in New Delhi said the grant of scholarships to Indian students is aimed at increasing academic cooperation between India and Taiwan.

The full-scholarships will be awarded to 10 students for pursuing higher studies in medicine-related subjects, they said, adding the stipend will be awarded to the selected students every month.

The Taipei Medical University is one of the prestigious medical universities in Taiwan and enjoys partnership with 110 universities across the world.

Bangalore most preferred job city for Engineering students

Seven out of every 10 engineering students in India prefer Bangalore as their 'first job' city, ahead of the capital Delhi, reveals a survey.

According to employability measurement and recruitment firm Aspiring Minds Research Cell, about 72 per cent of the engineering students surveyed voted for Bangalore as the most preferred destination to work in.
"In India, Bangalore is the engineers' Mecca. It offers growth, options and a community of like-minded people. Bangalore has undoubtedly the largest base in terms of IT companies, opportunities and an existing engineering population," Aspiring Minds Founder and Director Himanshu Aggarwal said.
Bangalore was followed by Delhi, which was preferred by 32 per cent of the respondents, while Hyderabad was the favourite among 30 per cent of the students surveyed.
At fourth place is Pune, with 30 per cent of the respondents voting for the city, followed by Chennai, which was favoured by 23 per cent of students. Mumbai was sixth …

FERTILISER: Capital investment in fertiliser production to get tax rebate

To encourage investment in the fertiliser industry, the government decided to exempt capital expenditure incurred on production of farm nutrient from tax. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also included capital expenditure on fertiliser production as an infrastructure sub-sector.
At present, India imports the entire requirement of potash, about 90 per cent of phosphatic and about 20 per cent of urea.
"Investment in fertiliser sector is capital intensive and is considered high risk. It is proposed to include capital investment in fertiliser production as an infrastructure sub-sector," Mukherjee said in his Budget speech. By getting infrastructure status, the companies investing in manufacture of fertilisers would get favoured treatment in fund raising from overseas. He also proposed "to extend the benefit of investment linked deduction to businesses engaged in the production of fertilisers" to give a boost to production in the agriculture sector.
Under Section 35AD of t…

ENVIRONMENT: Rs 200 crore earmarked for Green India Mission

Union Budget has earmarked Rs 200 crore from the National Clean Energy Fund for protection of forests as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee underlined the need to reconcile legitimate environmental concerns with necessary developmental needs.
"Protection and regeneration of forests has great ecological, economic and social value. Our Government has launched an ambitious 10-year Green India Mission," Mukherjee said while proposing allocation of Rs 200 crore for its effective implementation in 2011-12.
Observing that environmental pollution has emerged as a serious public health concern across the country, the budget earmarked Rs 200 crore from the National Clean Energy Fund as Centre's contribution in 2011-12 for launching environmental remediation programme.
Mukherjee also specially allocated Rs 200 crore for cleaning "many rivers and lakes of cultural and historical significance".
"A number of projects under the National Ganga River Basin Authority have be…

AGRICULTURE: FM doles out cheaper loans to farmers

Providing a big pro-farm thrust, the government announced reduction in interest rate to 4 per cent for farmers who repay loans on time and raised agri-credit target by a whopping Rs 1 lakh crore to boost investments in the sector.
Faced with high food inflation, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee unveiled various schemes in the Budget 2011-12, with an outlay of Rs 2,200 crore to increase production of vegetables, millets, milk, pulses, palm oil and fodder.
Emphasising upon the need for affordable credit to farmers, he announced an "additional subvention to 3 per cent in 2011-12" for those farmers who repay in time.
"Thus, the effective rate of interest for such farmers will be 4 per cent per annum," Mukherjee said. The government decided to continue the existing scheme of providing short-term crop loans to farmers at 7 per cent for the next fiscal.
To increase investment in the farm sector, the Finance Minister raised the agri-credit lending target for banks to Rs 4…

MINORITY: 69% increase in allocation for MAEF

In a bid to promote greater educational activities among minorities, Government proposed a whopping 69 percent increase in the allocation of funds for Maulana Azad Educational Foundation (MAEF), which functions under the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

The foundation, which was granted Rs 125 crore in 2010-11 has got Rs 200 crore this time.
However, there is only a marginal rise in the over all allocation for the ministry. In the last financial year, the ministry had got Rs 2,514.50 crore in consolidated plan and non-plan heads. This time, there is an increase of about 12 percent with the government allocating Rs 2,866 crore. Last financial year, the ministry had got an increased allocation of more than forty five percent in comparison to what it had got (Rs 1723.44 crore) in 2009-10. As the ministry is now focussing on higher education among the minorities as well as monitoring of the welfare schemes, the allocation in this head has jumped by 70 percent from Rs 21.5 crore to Rs 35.7 crore.