Tuesday, April 11, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S
Buffer stocks: crisis of plenty
A major crisis is about to overwhelm the country and the Centre is not even aware of it. Wheat harvesting and procurement will start in a few days and there is no storage space in Punjab, the champion producer, and very little of it in Haryana, the proud runner-up.



Parents trying to give a feel to their kids of a 18- feet high cooler that has been set-up at Appu Ghar in New Delhi. The cooler company is trying to get entry in the Guinness book of world record for the biggest cooler in the world. — photograph by Sondeep Shanker

Punjab not to jail defaulters
JALANDHAR April 10 — Bowing to the pressure mounted by the trading community of the State, the Punjab Government has withdrawn the proposed Rs 2000 annual sales tax registration renewal fee.





Web tech to keep your privacy
MOUNTAIN VIEW (California), April 10 — Come June and a new web technology will be in place that will keep track of the sites you visit, recommend new ones based on your Net surfing habits and will do all that without divulging any personal information.



EARLIER STORIES
 
The painting was purchased by the Nazis in 1941 from a Berlin art dealer for the planned Fuehrer museum in Linz, Austria. It will be part of a list included in an Internet database, which was posted on Monday, April 10, 2000 by the German government. Anyone will be able to pursue items that may have belonged to their families. — AP/PTI
This painting, "Lot and his Daughters" by Jacopo Robusti, made in the 16th century, was purchased by the Nazis in 1941 from a Berlin art dealer for the planned Fuehrer museum in Linz, Austria. It will be part of a list included in an Internet database, which was posted on Monday, April 10, 2000 by the German government. Anyone will be able to pursue items that may have belonged to their families. — AP/PTI
  Bollywood actress Karishma Kapoor at the launching of a television network in New Delhi on Sunday night. — PTI photo
Bollywood actress Karishma Kapoor at the launching of a television network in New Delhi on Sunday night. — PTI photo

City, Canadian IT companies form jv
CHANDIGARH, April 10 — Canadian information technology company Creative Infowave Technologies and Chandigarh-based Creative Digital Technology have entered into a joint venture to provide e-commerce services in the region.

NABARD funds for HP water schemes
SHIMLA, April 10 — NABARD has offered to provide funds for execution of drinking water schemes, construction of bus stands, horticulture nurseries and cattle breeding farms.

Verka plant capacity doubled
AMRITSAR, April 10 — The milk preservation capacity of the Verka milk plant near here, has been doubled from fifty thousand litres to one lakh litres.Top






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NEWS ANALYSIS

Buffer stocks: crisis of plenty
Tribune News Service

A major crisis is about to overwhelm the country and the Centre is not even aware of it. Wheat harvesting and procurement will start in a few days and there is no storage space in Punjab, the champion producer, and very little of it in Haryana, the proud runner-up. Nor is there a market demand to absorb the fresh arrival and, more alarmingly, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has no way of getting rid of the huge buffer it is building. With the second increase in the price of foodgrains sold through fair price shops and to flour mills effected on March 31, wheat buyers have fled the FCI godowns.

The problem is more graphic in terms of statistics. On April 1, the FCI godowns, 1600 in all across the country, had 12.8 million tonnes of wheat against the buffer and operational stocks norm of 4 million tonnes. By July 1, after the procurement season is over, the stock will bloat to 28.8 million tonnes, more than double of what is the optimum — 14.3 million tonnes. This threatens to add a huge burden to the financially fragile FCI, even after a generous Finance Ministry supplementary grant of Rs 944.6 crore as subsidy to cover the cost of storage. But this is not all. Once the rice stocks are added, the FCI is estimated to have a mammoth 41.9 million tonnes of foodgrains, which is three times the normal offtake from the public distribution system and its own quixotic open market sale scheme (OMSS).

Faced with the mounting stocks but sworn to cut subsidies, the government sharply increased the price of foodgrains by 32 per cent in the case of the above poverty line consumers and by a hefty 80 per cent in the case of the very poor. It sells wheat to flour mills at Rs 900 a quintal while in the open market the grain, in fact of better quality, is available at less than Rs 700 a quintal. It cannot export either since Indian wheat is overpriced and countries like Australia are in the market at about 60 per cent of the cost.

This country and the ruling alliance are trapped in the mindset of the mid-sixties when India lived from "ship to mouth". There was a wide gap between demand and production and a foreign exchange-strapped country had to depend on concessional import of wheat from the USA. The advent of green revolution extricated the nation from that mess and since then food security has become the all-consuming motivation.

Concessional imports yes — the country bought 220,000 tonnes of Australian wheat two years ago and has no customer for it. But export of foodgrains, except for the fancy priced basmati rice, is a no-no proposition. In the recently announced Exim policy there is much emphasis on boosting export growth by 20 per cent but not a word about export of farm products.

Two things stand in the way of a faster growth in farm exports. One, transportation and storage loss of wheat and rice in India is scandalously high. Often, pilferage is written off as damage caused by faulty storage facilities, as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has pointed out. An Australian team was shocked to find that the loss of grain from the farm to the market was around 7 to 10 per cent and from the market to the distribution centre about 5 per cent.

This is what accounts for much of food subsidy and also pushing Indian grains out of the world market. All these problems will worsen, thanks to a bumper harvest of over 204 million tonnes in the current agricultural year and a steady rupee and the total absence of policy initiative by the government. Increasing prices of wheat and rice at a time of abundant supply is bad economics and dithering on a clear-cut export policy at a time of bulging godowns is hara-kiri politics. The kisan and the slum-dweller should deliver the judgement at the first opportune moment.Top



 

Punjab not to jail defaulters
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR April 10 — Bowing to the pressure mounted by the trading community of the State, the Punjab Government has withdrawn the proposed Rs 2000 annual sales tax registration renewal fee.

Stating this in a press note issued here today, Mr Tarsem Kumar Jain, General Secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, said an announcement to this effect was made by the Punjab Chief Minister during a meeting with a delegation of the Beopar Mandal at Punjab Bhavan in Chandigarh this morning.

Mr Jain said the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Adesh Partap Singh, made an announcement that Sections 24 and 24(A) wherein there was a provision for imprisonment of defaulters have also been revoked.

Similarly, new increased sales tax rates on rectified spirit, thread and molasses would be implemented from April 12 in place of April 4.

Traders will not be required to file the purchase return along with sales tax return till the submission of the report by a Cabinet Sub-Committee constituted in this regard.

Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh informed the delegation that the issue of implementation of the uniform sales tax structure in all States would be discussed during a meeting of Finance Ministers in Delhi on May 4. The Local Bodies’ Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, assured the meeting that the sales tax would eventually be divided into just four classes as has been recommended by a central committee, Mr Jain said.Top



 

Web tech to keep your privacy
From Lisa Tsering

MOUNTAIN VIEW (California), Apr 10 — Come June and a new web technology will be in place that will keep track of the sites you visit, recommend new ones based on your Net surfing habits and will do all that without divulging any personal information.

PurpleYogi, a free download, sits on the user’s hard drive and automatically builds a profile of the user’s browsing habits. This profile is stored only on the user’s machine and proactively searches the Internet for more sites of potential interest to the user. PurpleYogi can be turned on or off at will.

“The Web lacks a method of being able to know who I am and to use that information in a private fashion to bring me what I might want," said Rakesh Mathur, CEO of PurpleYogi.com.

Mathur, (43) made headlines when he and his partners at Junglee Corp. sold their shopping technology to Amazon.com in 1998, leaving him with around 225,000 Amazon shares. He also founded Armedia Inc., a developer of advanced semiconductor products in Bangalore, and sold it to Broadcom Corp. last year for $70 million.

Last July Mathur left Amazon to join Ramana Venkata and Ramesh Subramonian, formerly of Intel, on the new project after the two bombarded him with their business plan for three days straight. “Theirs was the biggest, most ambitious idea that I’d encountered,” Mathur told the California newspaper India-West. He expects to launch PurpleYogi.com at the end of June, after extensive focus group testing and market research.

To those familiar with Internet “cookies” — tiny packets of information on your hard drive left there by web sites you’ve visited — and the recent hubbub over privacy breaches by DoubleClick.com, RealNetworks and other companies that were discovered surreptitiously gathering information about web users, PurpleYogi is good news indeed.

And if you’re not alarmed about Internet privacy, you should be. “Privacy is going to be a huge concern in the future,” said Venkata, (34), the company’s chief technical officer. “You will start seeing more impact on your personal life. As time goes on, it will become vitally important to your interest that you control it. Otherwise it will be abused, and people will track you everywhere,” he said.

While working at Intel’s research laboratory, Venkata and co-founder Subramoniam, (37) developed an early version of PurpleYogi’s software and had secured $1.5 million in financing from Intel. At first, they played with the idea of staying inside Intel, working as an autonomous unit and holding equity in the new company, while retaining Intel stock options. "But we wanted to go out and do it on our own," said Venkata.

From a tiny, temporary office and a handful of staff, PurpleYogi has grown to employ more than 40 people, including some of India’s and the Silicon Valley’s brightest — Stanford doctorates, Rhodes scholars and three Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) top-of-the-class graduates.

Funding has now reached $4 million (Mathur and other executives have invested, along with Intel). Without going into specifics, the founders see revenue potentially coming from a variety of sources, including banner ads, a community buying model or a trilateral e-commerce relationship between consumers, vendors and PurpleYogi.

And what about the name? The founders considered naming their company Calpurnia (after Caesar’s wife, a woman above suspicion). But it was hard to spell and hard to remember, said Mathur.

The phrase “PurpleTomato” came up — but it belonged to some guy in San Francisco. Then, inspiration hit. "From a yoga standpoint, purple is a very important colour,” explained Mathur. “The chakra at the top of the head is the crown chakra, which is used to communicate with the divine. The colour of that crown chakra is purple.” — IANSTop




 

City, Canadian IT companies form jv
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 10 — Canadian information technology company Creative Infowave Technologies and Chandigarh-based Creative Digital Technology have entered into a joint venture to provide e-commerce services in the region.

Stating this here today, Mr Parmeet Singh, Director of Creative Digital Technology, said the two companies will set up a cafe — electracafe.com — and a retail outlet for their Electra brand of hardware and software in Chandigarh.

As part of the joint venture, the two companies will offer franchise in major cities in the region for e-commerce services and sale of computer hardware and software.

The first of its kind cafe and the retail outlet of Electra will soon be launched from its office in Sector 35. “Apart from providing computer-related products and Internet browsing services, the cafe will house entertainment with food and beverages”, says Dhan Balrajah, President of Electra Computers.

The Electra cafe will have computers for the Internet and gaming together with a retail products corner selling personal computers, related software and hardware from the USA and Canada.Top



 

NABARD funds for HP water schemes
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, April 10 — NABARD has offered to provide funds for execution of drinking water schemes, construction of bus stands, horticulture nurseries and cattle breeding farms.

Stating this at a press conference here today Mr A.K. Garg, General Manager of the bank, said the initiative taken by the bank in providing funds for construction of rooms in primary schools under the Saraswati Bal Vidya Sankalp Yojna had been appreciated and it was being followed by other States.

The total sanctions for rural areas had reached an all time high level of Rs 650 crore and the disbursements to banks and State Government now exceeded Rs 450 crore. The bank planned to significantly upscale its operations in Himachal Pradesh by sanctioning a record financial assistance of Rs 250 crore during 2000-2001.Top



 

Verka plant capacity doubled
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, April 10 — The milk preservation capacity of the Verka milk plant near here, has been doubled from fifty thousand litres to one lakh litres.

Punjab Minister for Cooperatives Ranjit Singh Brahmpura inaugurated a new plant amid villagers and milk producers.

Punjab Milkfed Managing Director Amrik Singh said the Verka milk plant was preserving milk upto 1.30 lakh litres and this had resulted in the plant heading towards profits.

Mr Brahmpura said the Verka management was paying thirty paise extra per litre to producers.Top



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CORPORATE NEWS

NIIT

NEW DELHI, April 10 (PTI) — NIIT today said it has bagged a $ 7.4 million (about Rs 32 crore) order for Internet-based learning software from a US company. The new e-Learning solutions order would be executed by NIIT’s software centre at Delhi, the company said in a statement.

Jain Studios

NEW DELHI, April 10 (PTI) — Jain Studios Ltd. (JSL) today announced a tie-up with Transaction Systems Architects (TSA) and Canada-based Prudential Consulting Inc to set up a nationwide Internet Payment Gateway for corporate and individual users to carry out credit card transactions on the Internet.

Dividends

Kothari Products Ltd has declared an interim dividend of 150 per cent (Rs 15 per Rs 10 share) for the fiscal 1999-2000. The company’s board, which met on March 31, also decided to take May 16, 2000, as the record date for the dividend.

The Board of Directors of Dabur India Limited on Monday announced a 50 per cent interim dividend taking the total dividend for the 1999-2000 fiscal to 100 per cent, having recorded a 53 per cent surge in the net profit during the year.

CRISIL has posted the higher net profit of Rs 12.92 crore during the fiscal year ended March 31,2000, as against Rs 12.50 crore of the previous year. The Board of Directors which approved the audited financial results at its meeting held here on Monday declared a dividend of 35 per cent (Rs 5.50 per share), the same level of the previous year.Top



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BIZ BRIEFS

Bullion
Gold Std Rs 4420
Gold 22-Ct Rs 4270
Silver Ready Rs 7635
Silver delivery Rs 7815

Forex
US $ Rs 43.61/62
Stg Rs 68.88/91
Euro Rs 41.72/74
Yen (100) Rs 41.01/03

E-commerce
MUMBAI, April 10 (PTI) — The first B2B e-commerce exchange devoted exclusively to the Rs 1,30,000 crore chemical industry in the country was formally launched here today.

VIP Polaris
CHANDIGARH, April 10 (TNS) — VIP Industries has launched VIP Polaris skybag available in two sizes (25” and 27”), three colours (Black, blue and green) and is priced at Rs 2745 (25”) and Rs 3,145 (27”).

Alloy shoes
CHANDIGARH, April 10 (TNS) — The House of Red Tape has introduced Alloy, economy range of rugged and sturdy footwear for men in India. Alloy has been specially designed, keeping in mind Indian climatic conditions.

Cardboard unit
JAMMU, April 10 (FOC) — The Minister for Tourism, Gardens, and Sports, Mr S.S. Slathia, today inaugurated an industrial unit of cardboard at Sarore village near here. The unit, set up by an educated unemployed local youth at a cost of Rs 31 lakh, has the production capacity of 100 bundles of cardboard per day.

Oriental Bank
NEW DELHI, April 10 (PTI) — The Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) today announced a 0.5 per cent cut in its prime lending rate (PLR) to 11.5 per cent from 12 per cent. The new rates will come into effect from April 17, a bank statement said here.Top



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