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AGRO TECH '98

VSNL slashes Internet rates
NEW DELHI, Dec 3 — State-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited today cut down the Internet tariff by 30 per cent, in the face of stiff competition from private service providers following the opening up of the Internet market.

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Mini-Himachal in city
CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — There is a veritable mini-Himachal Pradesh at Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15, here. Himachal Pradesh State Handicrafts and Handloom Corporation Ltd. has brought an exhibition to the city.

NEW YORK : Bill Gates and his wife Melinda hold a news conference at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel to announce the creation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program, Wednesday. NEW YORK : Bill Gates and his wife Melinda hold a news conference at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel to announce the creation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program, Wednesday.
The goal of the $100 million program is to significantly reduce the time it takes for vaccines to reach children in developing nations. AP/PTI

Satyam Info launches Internet
NEW DELHI, Dec 3 — Satyam Infoway, India’s first private Internet Service Provider today launched its Internet service in the capital.

Crop forecast centre set up
NEW DELHI, Dec 3 — A National Crop Forecasting Centre, that will prepare crop forecasts on scientific lines and enable the government to take strategic decisions on the price front, has been set up in the Agriculture Ministry.

Product Expo opens
CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — A four-day exhibition, “Best of World Product Expo 98”, opened today at Hotel James Plaza in Sector 17. The exhibition is being organised by Blue Chip Expositions of Delhi.

 
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Israel keen on dairy tie-up with Punjab
By P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — “Israel has done it. India, particularly Punjab, can do it. We are there to provide the desired knowhow and technology”.

This assurance was held out by Dr Yehoyada Hai, Ambassador of Israel, in an interview to TNS during a coffee-break at the international conference on “emerging technologies in dairy industry” here today.

More than anything else, what Israel and India have in common is the “religious tolerance”. India is the only place where there has been no persecution of the Jews.

The country has “great love for Punjab and its people. Having interacted with Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the ambassador is all praise for the “action-oriented, practical man”, who is ever quick to cut across bureaucratic wranglings. It is for this reason that besides dairy Israel is keen to cooperate with Punjab on cotton crop.

On India-Israel trade, Dr Haim said it was for the first time that Indian exports to Israel had outstripped imports from Israel by 21 per cent in just nine months, between January and September last. Israel still depends mainly on India for rice imports. “Though this is getting costly now”.

Conscious of “perishable” nature of several farm produces Israel, he said, is willing to help with its technology anyone, anywhere to increase the shelf-life. He was enthusiastic on exchange programme of scientists and farmers between Punjab and Israel. Nearly 120 Indians visited Israel recently and Israel held 14 different courses in India.

What a small country like Israel can do a big country like India, which has more land, more sun and five times more water can do much more and much better, he emphasised.

Meanwhile, the two-day dairy conference which got under way talked of milk production, availability, preparing products, improving quality of milk and hygienic handling of milk and its products as well as their packaging. The conference started off with a welcome by Mr Krishan Goyal (CII) and Managing Director of Modern Dairies. He was followed by Punjab’s Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, who gave an “overview” of Punjab’s dairy and livestock scene.

While interacting with several delegates one was shocked to learn that despite all tall talk of 74 million tonnes milk production, annually, and other “achievements”, the fact remained that India is far behind in achieving its own target of per capita, per day, milk requirement.

Punjab may boast of highest milk consumption in the country with a population of 47 lakh buffaloes and cows, yet, a survey of primary schools in the state has revealed that children suffered from stark malnutrition. As a consequence, 32 per cent pupils of primary schools are anaemic, 8 per cent have weak eyesight and 10 per cent have bad teeth.Top


 

Importing birds and diseases
By Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — Should poultry livestock for breeding purpose be imported or not? This was the moot question debated at length in the concluding session of the international conference on recent development in poultry industry held at Agro-Tech 98 here today.

Raising the question, Mr B.M. Chadha, President of the poultry Federation of India, said when he had ventured into poultry farming there were only three diseases which used to affect hens and broilers etc.

But now the number gone up to the extent that it was difficult to remember the names of the diseases.

Mr K.A. Reddy, Director, Central Poultry Breeding Farm, said that a few years ago the import of birds was banned but due to certain “pressures” it was again allowed.

Mr Shashi Kapoor, Managing Director of INDOVAX, who presided over the concluding session, said all participants in the conference, including eminent speakers, were unanimous that there should be a system for importing the birds and these should be examined by doctors and also quarantined for some months to eiminate the chances of any disease entering the country.

Should ostrich farming be started in India? This was the other question. It fetches high price in the market. However, there was a mixed opinion on it. It would have to be imported and several diseases would be brought to India.

Mr Shyam Kuldeep Singh, General Manager of the Venkateshwara Hatcheries Limited, in a paper said that India was the fifth largest producer of eggs in the world and 17th largest broiler producer. The annual growth rate of egg production was 10 per cent.

Mr Jagmohan Singh, Mr Harish Garware, Mr Sierk Plat, Mr Ajit Brahma, Mr Sanjeev Sable and Dr R.N.S. Gowda, also presented their paper.Top


 

Less Agro, more Tech
By Kuljit Bains
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — Agro Tech ‘98 has more to offer to the agro-industrialist or the big farmer and little to a simple farmer.

All that is there for a keen visitor from a village with a limited farm budget is the “Agro Mela” and not “tech,” for most of the big names at the exhibition have put up technology demonstration stalls with products that have either not been introduced in the country or are way beyond the means of an Indian farmer who follows the Land Ceiling Act in spirit.

A “concept” introduction is of a rural transport vehicle by Hindustan Motors. Whether it sells or not at the show, it was a crowd-puller, what with a company executive going round and round a circuit that has a flight of steps for the vehicle to go across. It has a minimalistic design aimed apparently at keeping the cost down (Rs 3.5 lakh). At 50 HP and with a versatile body — can double as a passenger as well as a load carrier — it just might be a decent replacement for the “Marutas” and “Peter rehras” doing the rounds on dirt tracks in the countyside.

Several stalls, including those of J&K, had plants on display, but could give no information on where to get them if anyone wanted to.

The exhibitions put up by States like Rajasthan, UP, Andhra Pradesh, J&K and Punjab were more of propaganda affairs, just as expected. What were Spice Telecom and Max Page stalls doing at the exhibition could be anybody’s guess.

Tractors did attract farmers. New Holland had a range of Ford tractors, but most of them have not been introduced in the domestic market as yet. It did have one 50 HP tractor that has been launched, but it will face a rather stiff competition on the price front for it is far above other tractors in the category, its high technology notwithstanding.

Among the horde of tractors, there were two really practical exhibits — an “Orchard Special” by HMT and a “power tiller” from Greaves. The “Orchard Special” is a low, small, 25 HP machine that can be put to good use in vineyards or between fruit trees; there is no other such tractor available, so it just might capture a niche market.

The “power tiller” may not have many takers but it is just what the Indian farmer needs. A 14 HP engine mounted on frame with arrangement to hook on farm implements. Essentially, it works like an animal-driven plough, only it has a machine instead. It would be wise for loan-burdened farmers with small land holdings to go for such a thing instead of the ego-boosting 40-HP-and-above tractors.

A glittering show at a gloomy time for the farmer, but a grand show all the same.Top


 

THE ROVING EYE
Fun for some, confusion for others
By Peeyush Agnihotri
Tribune News Service

MOST of the visitors to the Agro Tech '98 had to resort to “search-for-yourself” efforts in the absence of any handouts that could precisely inform them about the hangar-wise location of stalls. Such things were simply not available. However, the information centre had a compiled data of ‘who’s-where’ arranged in alphabetical order — but then that was “their copy and not a handout” as the person behind the counter put it.

Confusion over timings left many visitors from villages crossed. Most of them arrived busloads in the morning to have a glance at the exhibits and the exhibitors, only to find that the price of the ticket during business hours (10am to 2pm) was a bit heavy on their pocket at Rs 50. They preferred to wait till 2 pm when the gates were thrown open to general public. And they did not regret it once they got in. Quite a few rural brethren, attracted by bevy of beauties (wo)manning the stalls, were bowled over by the demeanour of the exhibitors rather than the demonstration itself. Some of them were left wondering about the briefcase-like object in the hands of “laptop holding mannequin” at Punjab pavilion.

Officials manning the NABARD counter were visibly irritated and at their wits’ end after they encountered a bunch of rowdies. While one of the visitors challenged the authenticity of the cutouts and display material at the stall, another bagged a huge pile of brochures and walked off coolly.

A number of visitors were disappointed since some of the government departments with established names in the field of agriculture were conspicuous by their absence. Persons managing the stalls of a few of the government-run agencies grew visibly restless after 5pm, the usual office closing time. Old habits……. Further, there were just two stalls which dealt with tubewell irrigation peripherals

Hindustan Motors Rural Transport Vehicle (RTV), due to be launched this month, attracted huge crowds with grinning Jats hopping in for a ‘geri in the gaddi’ with popcorn in one hand and brochures tucked in the other.

Credit for illuminating the whole venue goes to the electricity department, who with their two transformers of 500 kva each, lighted up the venue. “The transformers have the capacity of producing power in excess than would be required at the venue,” an official stated.Top


 

CAPSULES

NRIs seek privacy
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — The State Bank of India, NRI branch, today organised an NRI’s meet to apprise them of facilities being offered by the banks. Mr R .L. Wig, Deputy General Manager of the bank, presided.

NRIs from Canada, the USA, Britain, Belgium, Kuwait, and Australia participated in the meeting and pointed out their difficulties. They demanded privacy of their accounts as is in other countries and sought interest on FDRs not renewed in time.

Mr Ramesh Khurana, AGM (Corp and International), assured them that time period in their money transfer will be curtailed and they will get interest from the day of the presentation of the cheque. Mr Wig said that most of the computerised bank branches in Chandigarh would be inter-linked by January next year and the certificates for the Resurgent Bonds will be despatched within a fortnight.

Exporters air woes
From Our Correspondent

JALANDHAR, Dec 3 — A meeting of importers and exporters, sponsored by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) and Conware, was held here today under the chairmanship of Mr Kishore G. Apte, Deputy Chairman of Trust.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Apte explained the various port-operations related to exports and imports. Grievances of importers and exporters were redressed on the spot by officials of The Trust, PSWC and Conware and suggestions to upgrade the port operations were also entertained.

France offers finance
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — France plans to play a major role in the Indian agriculture and food processing sector, according to Mr Jean Charles Rouher, Head of the Economics, Trade and Finance Commission of France, who is leading a French business delegation to Agro Tech. An innovative Indo-French financing scheme is at the disposal of the Indian private sector.

Seven major French equipment suppliers for the agriculture and food industry are participating in the exhibition.

“France-India 2000 towards a new millennium”, a year-round exposition will be held in New Delhi and Mumbai where 200 French companies from different sectors, including agriculture and food processing will participate.

Bank sells farm plans
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — Allahabad Bank, the co-sponsorer of Poultry Expo at Agro Tech, has displayed its various agricultural schemes and banking services in Hall No. 6. The bank’s recently launched a Green Card scheme for farmers was a special attraction. Farmers made enquiries about modalities of the scheme. The bank is also mobilising various poultry projects during the course of the fair.Top


 

VSNL slashes Internet rates

NEW DELHI, Dec 3 (PTI) — State-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limted (VSNL) today cut down the Internet tariff by 30 per cent, in the face of stiff competition from private service providers following the opening up of the Internet market.

VSNL has revised tariff for TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol) that allows users to surf the Internet with own software and without the help of local telephone carriers and offered in a new package named “flexihour”.

As per the flexihour tariff, a VSNL TCP/IP access for the first 100 hours would cost Rs 3000. The user can renew the account at a tariff of Rs 3,500 for 250 hours or at Rs 7,000 for 500 hours at the rate of Rs 14 per hour, according to VSNL.

Along with the new tariff, VSNL also offers a simple e-mail address to its users in the format of “myname@vsnl.com” in place of the exisiting lengthy address.

The existing TCP/IP tariff strucutre has three plans in which a one year usage of 100 hours costs Rs 3,000 at the rate of Rs 30 per hour, while plan II costs Rs 6,500 for usage of 250 hours at the rate of Rs 26 per hour.

The third plan, meant for heavy users who surf 500 hours in a year, costs Rs 10,000 for 500 hours at the rate of Rs 20 per hour.

VSNL also offers dial-up access which requires the users to dial some specified number to get connected to a host computer which can provide Internet services at a rate of Rs 5,000 for 500 hours, Rs 10 per hour.

A special subsidised service offered for students would cost only Re 1 per hour of use when taken at an annual rental for 500 hours.

The new tariff is part of the gearing up exercise by VSNL which currently has about 1.5 lakh subscribers spread across the country.

VSNL is also in the process of increasing its points of presence (PoP) from the existing 40 centres to 70 by year-end, besides improving the quality of service by increasing the speed to 56 kilobits per second (KBPS) from the present 33.4 KBPS.Top


 

Mini-Himachal in city
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — There is a veritable mini-Himachal Pradesh at Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15, here. Himachal Pradesh State Handicrafts and Handloom Corporation Ltd. has brought an exhibition to the city. To be on till December 15, the fair brings the choicest of HP artisans’ magical creations — all available for a discount of up to 25 per cent.

There is a range of 12 types of shawl — Kinnauri, Kulu, Pashmina, Angoora in pure and mixed forms and both plain or with designs and borders. Besides, woollen material for coats and jackets (patti) and readymade sweaters, achkans, reversible waistcoats and gowns in tweed with their every warp and weft woven into the typical ancient skill handed down through generations, promise to give the much needed warmth in the winter. Woollen blankets and carpets too vie for attention.

Typical HP Jewellery crafted in precious and semi-precious stones by the village folk assisted by the corporation comprises necklaces, bracelets and ear-rings in traditional styles.

Among gift items and knick knacks, cutlery in white metal stands out. Spoons, forks and knives carved in exquisite designs are a collector’s item. Ditto for the Thanka Buddhist paintings with Krishna Lila as the main motif.

There is also a stall selling cushion and pillow covers, crochet laced mats and bed covers.

Mr D.K. Gupta, General Manager of the Corporation, says it is an exercise in marketing artefacts and giving exposure to the artisans.Top


 

Satyam Info launches Internet
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 3 — Satyam Infoway, India’s first private Internet Service Provider (ISP) today launched its Internet service in the capital.

The service will cover Ludhiana and other cities of the region over the next two weeks.

During the first phase the network will cover 12 cities spread across the country which includes,Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahemdabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Coimbatore, Kochi, Mumbai, New Delhi, Pondicherry, Pune, Secunderabad and Ludhiana.

By March next year cities covered by the service will go up to 40, which also includes Chandigarh.

The subscription rates for the service are Rs 3,900 for 100 hours and Rs 9,900 for 500 hours.

Member Production and Ex-officio Secretary, Telecom Commission Mr R.R.N. Prasad who was present on the occasion said that steps were being taken to set up six more 2MB international gateways to reduce congestion.Currently there are six such international gateways.

“ We are looking at two million Internet customers in the next two years the present number of which is 1.5 lakh”, he said.

Mr Prasad said the government has allowed private operators to set up international gateways and there was no restriction on the number of players .The government would also shortly import STM16 technology enabling to provide lease lines on demand and lead to reduced dearth of bandwidth.

SatyamOnline will offer its Internet services using 2MBPs backbone network and comes along with CD which contains value added software. Some of the variants of the SatyamOnline Internet Access are: Discover 100 — a 100 hour browsing Internet account along with one e-mail account valid for 10 months, Discover 500 - a 500 hour browsing Internet account with one e-mail account valid for three months,Venture 500 - a 500 hour browsing time along with 5 user IDs and 5 e-mail accounts and valid for 12 months, net mail - additional one e-mail account, net world - one international roaming account with 25 hour access and Netname - one domain name of the user’s choice.

SatyamOnlie had earlier launched the service in Hyderabad and Chennai.Top


 

Crop forecast centre set up
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 3 — A National Crop Forecasting Centre (NCFC), that will prepare crop forecasts on scientific lines and enable the government to take strategic decisions on the price front, has been set up in the Agriculture Ministry.

The decision to set up the NCFC was taken at a meeting of the Chief Ministers convened by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, on November 27 here.

The Centre will adopt state-of-art techniques and methodologies in preparing the crop forecasts and would generate periodic advance estimates for all important crops including cereals, pulses, oilseeds, cotton, sugarcane, potato and onion.

The Centre will provide an effective unified institutional framework for the crop forecasting system in the country involving data flow, assimilation, analysis and dissemination of statistics. It will act as a Central level monitoring agency for the latest situation about crops, weather, supply of inputs, pests and diseases and market intelligence.Top


 

Product Expo opens
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 — A four-day exhibition, “Best of World Product Expo 98”, opened today at Hotel James Plaza in Sector 17. The exhibition is being organised by Blue Chip Expositions of Delhi.

According to Mr Sanjeev Pubra, the Chief Promoter, Blue Chip plans to organise mega exhibitions in April to coincide with the 300th birth anniversary of the Khalsa at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Chandigarh simultaneously.

Twenty more such shows will be organised after the present exhibition, sponsored by Hyundai Mink Blankets and Clearline. Those who have put up stalls include Pravar Magic Eyes, Duke, Portraits and Shubham, Kay and Kay, Madhur Supari, Navtex Tissues and Melmocraft.Top


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  ICICI issue from Dec 9
CHANDIGARH, Dec. 3 (TNS) — Under the series “ICICI Safety Bonds - December ‘98”, ICICI is offering for public subscription unsecured redeemable bonds aggregating Rs 300 crore with a right to retain oversubscription of up to Rs 300 crore. The issue will open on December 9 and close on December 21. In the fifth tranche four types of bonds are on offer: Encash Bond, Tax Saving Bond, Money Multiplier Bond in the nature of deep discount bond and Regular Income Bond. The investor can opt for the monthly income option or lock in for 24 years 5 months with no intermediate coupon payments. Encash Bond offers liquidity with returns whereas Tax Savings Bond can help the investor plan his taxes optimally.

SBI, S&P
MUMBAI, Dec 3 (PTI) — State Bank of India’s (SBI) underlying profitability actually weakened in 1997-98 though after-tax return on average assets (ROA) of 1.11 per cent was a significant improvement on the 0.90 per cent recorded in the previous year, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) today said.

Canara Bank
CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 (TNS) — A musical presentation of products marketed and manufactured by women entrepreneurs will be organised by Canara Bank at Tagore Theatre here on January 3 next. The last date for receiving entries for free participation is December 5.

Spice Telecom
CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 (TNS) — Spice Telecom has tied up with NDTV to offer an online news service to its subscribers. “Now by dialing 558, our subcribers can access live news even while they are on the move, Mr Sean Dexter, MD Spice Telecom Punjab said.

NOCIL div
CHANDIGARH, Dec 3 (TNS) — The Onkar S Kanwar group today signed an agreement with Mafatlal Industries Limited and Associates acquiring the latter’s 42 per cent share in the rubber chemicals division of NOCIL against a total consideration of Rs 55 crore. Mafatlal’s will initiate action to separate the rubber chemicals division of NOCIL. It is proposed that the rubber chemicals division of NOCIL, will be vested in a new company by the name Polyolefins Rubber Chemicals Limited (PRCL).

Forex
MUMBAI, Dec 3 (PTI) — The following are interbank forex and RBI rates: (in rupees per unit):

US $ 42.53/54
70.92/94
D. Mark 25.44/46
Jap Yen (100) 35.88/90

The reference rate was Rs 42.55.

Silver falls
NEW DELHI, Dec 3 (PTI) — Silver prices nosedived on the bullion market today on selling by stockists influenced by a weak trend in other Asian markets. Gold also turned soft on negligible buying.Top



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