Monday, July 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


A model for Italian fashion house Versace presents this outfit as part of the Fall/Winter 2000-2001 Haute Couture fashion show designed by Donatella Versace. cgw/Photo by Eric Gaillard. — Reuters
A model for Italian fashion house Versace presents this outfit as part of the Fall/Winter 2000-2001 Haute Couture fashion show designed by Donatella Versace. cgw/Photo by Eric Gaillard. — Reuters

Are analysts low-profile criminals?
NEW YORK, July 9 — Ashok Kumar, who covers technology stocks for US Bancorp Piper Jaffray, is one of the most candid analysts quoted on the web. Problem is, he is not the one behind the colourful comments. Kumar is a victim of bogus Internet postings that falsely quote him as saying the darned things.

‘Chinese more professional than Indians’
DUESSELDORF: They began their businesses with small-scale imports from their native country, but Indians settled in Germany are now increasingly turning to other Asian nations that produce goods of superior quality and are more reliable in business dealings.

Five teenagers to get Lucent jobs 
BANGALORE, July 9 — Five Indian teenagers, among the “best and brightest minds” in the cities of Bangalore and Chennai, have been offered jobs by the US-based Lucent Technologies.

Microsoft centre for IIIT-H
NEW DELHI, July 9 — Microsoft Corporation will establish a “centre of excellence at the Indian Institute of Information Technology-Haryana that is being set up at Gurgaon.


  CII defends tariff hike
LUDHIANA, July 9 — The hike in power tariff ordered by the Punjab Government last week for various categories of consumers has deeply divided industry in the state.

Awards for coop banks
CHANDIGARH, July 9 — The Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank has been adjudged the best bank by NABARD for its performance during 1997-98 and 1998-99 among all agricultural and rural development banks in the country, Mrs Suman Rani Bansal, Managing Director, said here today.Top


Are analysts low-profile criminals?
From Brian Kelleher

NEW YORK, July 9 (Reuters)— Ashok Kumar, who covers technology stocks for US Bancorp Piper Jaffray, is one of the most candid analysts quoted on the web.

Problem is, he is not the one behind the colourful comments. Kumar is a victim of bogus Internet postings that falsely quote him as saying the darned things.

Kumar on Friday morning supposedly revealed a Wall Street tradition of analyst fraud when he was “quoted” in a story that ran on Yahoo Inc.’s website and financial Internet site

‘’If analysts got arrested every time we intentionally manipulated the price of a stock, we’d all be in jail,’’ Kumar was quoted as saying on the websites. ‘’Saying that analysts are low-life criminals is a bit of a reality stretch — don’t you think?’’

Kumar took the story in stride because it was not the first time his name came up in an imaginary news release.

‘’It’s bizarre,’’ he told Reuters. ‘’This is libel.’’

The incident shows how Internet message boards have become the epitome of ‘’buyer beware’’ — investors should not take postings at face value and investigate any rumours surfacing on the web.

In fact, the U.S. stock market watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission has warned investors to carefully examine information they see on Internet message boards, including the source of the posting why it is being posted and attempt to verify for themselves if the information is accurate.

The anonymity of most postings and the exuberance of investors sometimes makes this difficult, resulting in unsubstantiated rumours that can grow out of control.

The latest scam, in which Kumar was an unwitting participant, alleged that 24 employees of Salomon Smith Barney, the brokerage arm of financial services group Citigroup Inc., had been arrested on charges of securities fraud.

‘’The story is completely false,’’ sec spokeswoman Joanne Bamberger told Reuters, declining to elaborate.

A Salomon Smith Barney spokeswoman also said it was a hoax.

Indeed, the self-proclaimed message poster — with the Internet identity ‘’youtrustytheads’’ — eventually fussed up to the fake note.

‘’The above accounts in the story are fictional,’’ youtrustytheads posted on Thursday night.

‘’The story was made to illustrate the deeply seeded (sic) corruption in our capital markets,’’ he wrote and continued in to what he called a ‘’rant’’ against brokerage firms and the SEC.

Some false postings in the past have significantly moved share prices, although the price swings only last until cooler heads prevail.

Last year, a web page designed to look like a story from Bloomberg News trumpeted news that telecommunications company Pairgain Technologies Inc. was being sold, pumping pairgain shares up 30 per cent.

The news, alas, was false and Pairgain shares quickly came back to earth. Yet the incident was proof that information on message boards should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Despite its warning to investors, the SEC has maintained it has no plans to monitor private communication over the Internet, even if it deals with the stock market.

Yahoo and do not monitor their message boards, largely due to the high volume of postings, but each firm responds to complaints from members about fraudulent or offensive messages, representatives for the sites said.

Each service will delete a message if it breaks their individual codes of conduct and a pattern of inappropriate postings can result in suspensions or the cancellation of an account, Yahoo and representatives said.

So, the web can be a wild west of sorts for investors looking for a hot stock tip.

But for analysts like Ashok Kumar, it also can become high-tech ventriloquism. — Reuters Top


‘Chinese more professional than Indians’
From Manik Mehta

DUESSELDORF: They began their businesses with small-scale imports from their native country, but Indians settled in Germany are now increasingly turning to other Asian nations that produce goods of superior quality and are more reliable in business dealings.

China seems to have emerged as the favourite source country for several non-resident Indian (NRI) businessmen in Germany.

Kaushik Pandya, the owner of an import company called Pandya Fashions here which buys garments from a number of Asian countries, said till a few years ago he bought goods worth three million marks (1 DM=approx Rs. 22) from India. But his imports from India declined to less than half a million marks last year.

“I understand the problems of Indian exporters who are dependent on fabric imports from South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia needed for their products,” Pandya told IANS.

“There are several schemes announced by the Indian government for such imports but these schemes usually create more paperwork and problems for the Indian suppliers. They are also required to pay heavy duty on the imports, which results in their end products being exorbitantly priced. They also have other problems like arranging for exorbitant bank guarantees. In short, there is not much incentive for the Indian exporter to engage in exports and earn foreign exchange for the country,” Pandya said. He urged the Indian government to learn from the Chinese, who are providing support to shippers whose export performance has improved considerably within a short span of time. Besides, he said, “Chinese officials are disciplined and that country’s exporters behave in a more professional manner.”

Pandya cautioned that Indian suppliers could “be simply wiped out” if they did not brace themselves to meet the challenges that would emerge when China joined the WTO, giving its exporters a free hand as the global quota system is phased out.

“Once the quota system is removed under the WTO terms, Indian exporters are going to have major problems,” he said. “China is going to simply take over the world market. Globalisation will be merciless and only the fittest will be able to survive. Except for Indian ethnic garments such as saris, salwar kameez and related accessories, China will dominate the garment market in the West.” Rajive Ranjan, the proprietor of the Neuss-based Techno Mode Vertriebs-GmbH who imports women’s fashion garments, agreed that Indian suppliers lack discipline, professionalism and, sometimes, even integrity. Besides, he said, China has better infrastructure and that helps its trade.

Golak Misra, the Duesseldorf-based General Manager (Europe) of Orind International Limited, said his company was so happy with its dealings with Chinese suppliers that it had opened an office in Yinkou, in the Lioning province. Orind International, which supplies refractories to the global steel industry, has considerably increased its sourcing from China at the expense of India, which was its major supplier at one time.

“Indian refractory products became expensive and non-viable as a result of levies imposed by the Chinese government. We decided then to shift a major part of our manufacturing operations to China and use that country as an export base,” Misra said.

Comparing the work culture in the two Asian countries, Misra said: “Chinese workers are more productive and professional than their Indian counterparts.”

Orind is now also planning to increase the production capacity of its China plant. Its current production capacity is around 4,000 tonnes a month and is expected to increase to between 5,000-6,000 tonnes a month in a few months from now. — IANSTop



Five teenagers to get Lucent jobs 
From Imran Qureshi

BANGALORE, July 9 — Five Indian teenagers, among the “best and brightest minds” in the cities of Bangalore and Chennai, have been offered jobs by the US-based Lucent Technologies.

Lucent Technologies (India’s) Research and Development Department has handed over letters of offer of employment to the five teenagers studying in Class 11 and Class 12, to “encourage youngsters to get into the science and technology and mathematics area,” company officials said.

The four boys and a girl were selected for employment after they came up tops among 655 of the “best and highest minds” in Bangalore, Chennai as well as Hyderabad who took a two-four examination in physics, chemistry, mathematics and general knowledge, to become the first batch of Bell Labs scholars.

The five are Arjun K. Bansal and Vijay Kumar of National Public School, Indiranagar, Bangalore; Shruti Chandrasekhar of National Public School, Rajajinager, Bangalore; Arvind Thiagarajan of DAV Boys Sr. Secondary School, Gopalapuram, Chennai; and Sundeep Venkatraman of the N. Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan S.S. School, Nungambakkam, Chennai.

“They are the brightest of the brightest. If you see the scholarship selection criteria, they are really the cream of the crowd. So given that, we have absolutely no doubt that they will excel in whatever field they choose. They have the opportunity so they can focus on physics, chemistry and mathematics rather than worrying about which job or which career to choose,” says Krishna Tanaku, President and Managing Director, Lucent Technologies India Research & Development.

The five Bells Labs scholars will receive their awards — Rs 25,000 with the school getting Rs 50,000 per winner for equipment and tools to enhance the quality of education it provides — and the job offers at a function to be held in their city of residence at a later date.

Lucent Technologies is not putting any conditions on the students. It is an option from the individual student standpoint. Obviously, he or she can choose to go wherever he or she wants to. There is no binding agreement on the part of the student.

Will the scholars take up the job offer after they complete their graduation? “I may just take the job. If I get a job even before you have finished your education,” says Shruti. Arjun considers it the “best option” at the moment since R & D interests him. And, Vijay, who wanted to do electronics, and “always wanted to be there,” was excited. “There is nothing better than this,” says Sundeep Venkatraman. —IANSTop


Microsoft centre for IIIT-H
From Sumeet Chatterjee

NEW DELHI, July 9 — Microsoft Corporation will establish a “centre of excellence at the Indian Institute of Information Technology-Haryana (IIIT-H) that is being set up at Gurgaon.

“The centre will conduct advanced research in application software,” P.K. Chaudhery, industries and IT Secretary for the Haryana government told IANS.

The institute has also roped in US-based Silicon Graphics for setting up a training facility in animation and graphics, besides a couple of other leading software development and networking companies.

The institute, which will offer undergraduate and postgraduate degree and short-term diploma courses for working professionals, has been promoted by federal government-run Education Consultants India Ltd., Edutech Informatics of Singapore and the Haryana Government.

Edutech Informatics and the participating IT companies will develop the courseware for the institute, which will take in its first students from the next academic year. “Edutech will be an integral part of the institute courses in IT,” Chaudhery said.

A corpus fund of Rs 100 million has been set up, with equal investment by Edutech and the Haryana Government, to put the infrastructure in place.

The institute will generate a major part of its revenue from the IT companies which will set up ‘centres of excellence’ on the campus. These are expected to act as the hub for research activities in different IT applications.

“We are holding discussions with major IT companies like IBM, Oracle and Hughes Software, besides Mircosoft and Silicon Graphics, who have expressed their interest to participate in this initiative,” Chaudhery said. — IANSTop


CII defends tariff hike
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 9 — The hike in power tariff ordered by the Punjab Government last week for various categories of consumers has deeply divided industry in the state.

While one section of the organisations representing trade and industry is up in arms against the government decision to increase the power tariff from the first of this month and has threatened a state-wide agitation if the hike is not withdrawn within a fortnight, another influential section of the industry representing Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Punjab, Haryana, Delhi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI), Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) and the All India Steel Furnaces Association has come out openly in support of the hike.

Mr Shri Pal Oswal, Mr Amarjit Goyal, Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan and Mr Inder Mohan Singh Grewal who primarily negotiated the power hike deal with the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board along with other officers of the state government and the board at a series of meetings at Chandigarh last month, said today that this was the best deal they could have secured for the industry. While the board had proposed a hike of 65 paise per unit, the industry had got off lightly with an increase of between 19 to 36 paise per unit, which was quite reasonable.

They maintain that the arguments of those who oppose the hike, the hike are based on “an incorrect appreciation of the situation facing the government and the board. It is simplistic to say that since industry is already paying more than the cost of power generation by the board, there should be no hike. There are so many other factors which have to be taken into account”, they asserted.

Mr Oswal, Mr Goyal, Mr Grewal and Mr Pardhan were at pains to stress at an interaction with the media here that the Punjab Government had “created an atmosphere of constructive cooperation by consulting industry before carrying out a hike. We must appreciate the positive approach of the government and foster this atmosphere of cooperation”.

Giving details of the move for a hike in power tariff, they said that the proposed increased was discussed in the meeting convened last month by the Chief Minister at Chandigarh, which was also attended by the Finance Minister, Minister for Local Bodies, Chief Secretary, Chairman of the PSEB and other senior officers.

The Chief Minister presented the proposal of the board for an increase of up to 65 paise per unit. This was based on the following three arguments: a) the cost of power delivered worked out to be Rs 3.50 per unit; b) the board had around Rs 1000 crore of operating commercial loss because of which it was unable to honour its repayments of interest and principals. c) the power tariff of industry and domestic consumers was very low when compared with the existing tariff in the neighbouring states, particularly Haryana.

The industry questioned the boards cost calculation and it was decided that a few representatives of the industry would go into this question of ‘exact cost’ and the board would cooperate with them. The information was analysed and an agreement reached on two issues: i) The commercial cost of power sold/delivered by the PSEB worked out to be Rs 2.58 paise per unit after including the interest on loans, full depreciation in accordance with the statutes and 12% return on equity provided by the government (Rs 2800 crore of equity). However, the board received Rs 120 crore on account of meter rentals. When this was deducted, the commercial cost came down to Rs 2.53 paise. ii) There had been an increase in the commercial cost of the board between 1998, when the last increase was carried out, and the year 2000-2001 projected cost.

Therefore an increase of the order of 28 paise per unit was agreed upon.

The Chief Minister again met the group of representatives of industry and board officials, and differences were ironed out with board officials agreeing to the cost derived by industry from the board’s data.

The meeting ended with the consensus that the Chief Minister would take proper and suitable action on the issue. Four industry representatives were called for discussions in the evening at which the Board insisted on a minimum increase of the order of 15-20%. It also wanted medium and large industry categories to be merged for the purpose of tariff. If at all, the difference had to be maintained it should be a three per cent discount on the tariff applicable to large industry, while the difference between large and small should be narrowed down to five per cent.

Industry representatives argued that industry on average was already paying more than the commercial cost as determined for the year 2000-2001 and there was no rationale for the hike.

They eventually accepted a moderate increase to offset the incremental cost of the board, but did not yield on the merger of medium and large scale categories for the purpose of tariff.

One representative wanted the increase for small industry to be lower and the increase was moderate to 19 paise per unit against 25 paise for large and 36 paise for the medium sector.

“If we examine objectively the tariff applicable for different categories of consumer which is given as follows: small scale: Rs 2.50 per unit, medium: Rs 2.85 per unit and large: Rs 3.06 per unit, it will be observed that the small scale is marginally below the cost of Rs 2.53 paise, medium is paying 32 paise higher than the cost while large is paying 53 paise higher than the cost.

“Undoubtedly, this was the best outcome of the long drawn negotiations and discussions”, the industrialists told mediamen.Top


Awards for coop banks
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 9 — The Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank has been adjudged the best bank by NABARD for its performance during 1997-98 and 1998-99 among all agricultural and rural development banks in the country, Mrs Suman Rani Bansal, Managing Director, said here today.

Bansal said awards for 1997-98 and 1998-99 would be presented to the bank by Mr Yashwant Sinha at a function organised by NABARD at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, on July 12. The awards consist of a trophy and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh each for both years.

Apart from this the Primary Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank, Amloh, which has been adjudged the best bank for 1997-98, would receive best performance award which also includes a trophy and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh. Similarly, PADB Nabha has been selected for NABARD’s best performance award for 1998-99.

The Fazilka Central Cooperative Bank has topped among district-level cooperative banks in Punjab for its performance during 1997-98. Mr K.P. Agrawal, Chief General Manager of NABARD, said the bank will be given a trophy and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.Top


by K.R. Wadhwaney

Not virgin in fare affairs

THE inaugural flight of Virgin Atlantic Airline landed on July 6 at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) amid fanfare. The flight among paid passengers carried many guests from different walks of life.

Virgin is not ‘virgin’ in fare structure even in the UK. Its entrance, according to analysts, will further hit the market which is already polluted and murky in the region. Favourite travel agents and general sales agent (GSA) will reap a rich harvest as they have been promised higher quantum of over-riding commission than has been paid to them at presently.

Virgin’s boss Richard Branson is known for his dynamism and aggressive marketing strategy. He believes that attack is the best form of defence. He has had many brushes with British Airways. He has lost some and gained quite a bit but he has always succeeded in causing upheaval in the London market.

On his arrival in the Capital, Branson made it clear that he will provide all his rivals “run for their money” as his airline settles down in the new territory. The fare on the Delhi-London-Delhi sector will tumble down to about Rs 25,000, according to airlines experts. Maybe, it will come down to about Rs 22,000-23,000. The existing fare is more than Rs 32,000.

London for less: British Airways in partnership with the Economic Times, has launched an exclusive offer for customers to fly to London and back on a much reduced fare.

The analysts say it is because of the entry of Virgin Airline. But BA officials maintain that they have been having this kind of plan for a long time.



Wind up Oswal Agro Furane, says BIFR

NEW DELHI, July 9 (PTI) — BIFR has ordered the winding up of the ailing company Oswal Agro Furane Limited.

The two-member Bench comprising BIFR Chairman P.P. Chauhan and member G. Narayanan confirmed its prima facie opinion that Oswal Agro was not likely to make its net worth exceed its accumulated losses within a reasonable time while meeting all its financial obligations.

The bench said the company was not likely to become viable in future and thus it was just, equitable and in public interest to wind it up.

There was no rehabilitation proposal for the Board to consider despite several opportunities given to all concerned for submitting a viable package.

The Bench further said the company’s promoters were neither serious nor resourceful to revive the ailing company.



by R.N. Lakhotia

Q: Whether bank interest from FD accruing on deposits of retirement benefit i.e. PF A/c, Gratuity, computation of pension and leave salary is totally exempted from income tax with clause.

— Dalbir Singh Gill, Jalandhar

Ans: The interest from bank fixed deposit accruing on deposit out of your retirement benefits is exempted to the maximum extent of Rs 12,000 as per section 80L of the Income-tax Act. There is no specific exemption on bank interest in respect of fixed deposit which are invested out of retirement benefits.

Q: I retired from the services of the LIC of India on 21-8-96 as an Assistant Branch Manager.

In the columns of Business section of The Tribune dated 12-12-99, while answering a query on the “Gratuity amount” you have mentioned that “The maximum amount of gratuity which is exempted in Income tax is Rs 2,50,000 for employees who retire after April 1, 1995. Prior to this exemption limit of Rs 2,50,000 it was only Rs 1 lakh which was also the maximum limit of amount of gratuity payable to an employee. Since this exemption limit has been raised from Rs one lakh to 2.5 lakh with effect from 1-4-95, admittedly the maximum limit of gratuity payable to an employee must have also been raised from Rs one lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. If this is so, then please let me know when and under what notification of the Government of India, the maximum limit of gratuity payable was raised.

— K.C. Jain, Ambala City

Ans: The ceiling limit of Rs 1 lakh in respect of gratuity is applicable to employees retiring up to 31st March, 1995 vide Notification No. SO 394. Vide Notification No. 1959 dated 1.2.1996 the Central Board of Direct Taxes has made the maximum exemption limit of gratuity to Rs 2.5 lakh w.e.f. 1st April, 1995. Further, the exemption limit of gratuity has been raised to Rs 3,50,000 w.e.f. 24.9.1997 by the payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Act, 1998.

Q: What is the rate of interest on NSCs for different years for taking the benefit of accrued interest deemed reinvestment u/s 88? Can we take the benefit of tax on interest income up to Rs 15,000 from NSCs during the financial year 1999-2000? Does the benefit of interest on NSCs u/s 88 apply on five years or six years? Should the interest earned during the financial year 1999-2000 be included while taking benefit of re-investment u/s 88?

2. There is no clarity regarding surcharge on income-tax during the F.Y. 1999-2000? Please clarify is limited to Rs 1,000 only irrespective of income-tax? Should the surcharge be calculated on the total income-tax due on the employee during the financial year? Kindly clarify in detail.

3. Can the savings be made at the end of the year for getting the benefit u/s 88?

— Balram Chawla, Palwal.

Ans: The rate of interest on NSC for different years for the purpose of taking benefit of accrual interest which will be treated as reinvestment u/s 88 can be arrived at by referring to the interest rate as printed on the back side of the NSC certificate. The benefit of exemption u/s 80L in respect of interest accruing from NSC will be Rs 12,000 only for the Financial Year 1999-2000 and not Rs 15,000.

The benefit of tax rebate u/s 88 is applicable in respect of 5 years and not in the 6th year. This is because in the 6th year the investment in respect of accrued interest cannot be treated as deemed interest because the NSC has already been repaid during the year. Thus, the benefit of reinvestment u/s 88 cannot be taken during the Financial Year in which the NSC had matured.

As regard the calculation of surcharge in respect of income for the Financial Year 1999-2000 relevant to the Assessment Year 2000-2001 the surcharge should be calculated @ 10 per cent on Income-tax in respect of income exceeding Rs 60,000. It is not correct that the maximum amount of surcharge is to be limited to Rs 1,000 only irrespective of the Income-tax payable by the assesse. The saving as per law can be made even at the end of the accounting year for getting the tax benefit u/s 88 of the Income-tax Act, 1961.Top


by J.C. Anand

UGS-64 scheme offers safe returns

THERE are many who do not want to dabble in the stock market and seek good investment propositions for safe and good return in the form of interest. The banks offer rather low interest rates for fixed deposits now, and investment in debentures and fixed deposits offered by the corporate sector involves a degree of risk. An investor has to be sufficiently knowledgeable to pick up a good company for the safety of his fixed deposits. Some companies default on payment of interest on debentures and fixed deposits.

The UGS-64 (a scheme sponsored by the UTI ) offers a good and safe return to the investors. This year, the UGS-64 has declared a dividend of 13.75 per cent, which is higher than the last year’s dividend by just 0.5 per cent. It is a good gesture but not much of a gain for the investors. But it would have been unwise for the UTI to increase the dividend rate in the interest of the viability of the scheme.

The purchase price for the units at this time is Rs 13-50 per unit of the face value of Rs 10. This should provide a return of a little over 10 per cent to the investor for a year (July 2000 to July 2001), which is better than that offered by the banks. Investment in the UGS-64 units has other advantages too : at least for the next two years the dividend is free of income tax in the hands of the investor. For those who are placed in the high income tax brackets, the return from the units will be particularly good. Another advantage is that the scheme has a lot of liquidity; any investor can sell back the unit to UTI at any time at a rate announced by the UTI at that time. The UTI has also better service facilities than any other mutual fund.

Another good news is that the Monthly Income Scheme (MIS) holders will receive income tax free return on the scheme from the UTI. The UTI wanted to pass on the income tax liability to the MIS holders but SEBI has rejected the UTI plea.

The stock market is doing well and is expected to improve during this week. The FIIs who had withdrawn from the market and withdrawn Rs 1,323 crore in June have made a partial return.

The first quarter results for the current financial year are also good. Zee Telefilms has registered a 57 per cent rise in net profit at Rs 26.70 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2000 as against Rs 16.95 crore for the corresponding period last year. Pentasoft Technologies has done equally well; its net profit in the first quarter has gone up to Rs 29.99 crore from Rs 5.29 crore. The ICE shares are expected to perform very well but their market prices are soaring very high too and P/E ratios discourage long-term investments. The market capitalisation of these shares is bound to go up in the coming weeks due to trading activities of the speculators who concentrate only on this sector and neglect the old economy.

During the last week, Vikas WSP (which had been recommended at Rs 290 a month back in this column) closed at Rs 611 per share. This share is expected to move up by another 50 per cent by October 2001. Long-term investors should retain it and not book short-term gains. The share is unlikely to slide down from this level despite minor fluctuations.

Larsen & Toubro’s proposal to demerge its cement units is likely to take another eight to twelve months. The scrip is not likely to move up during this period till the demerger implementation is on its way. It may move down in the coming months but it remains a good long-term investment.


Tax returns by phone

CHANDIGARH: NIIT-Singapore accord putting in place an advanced system which enables people to file their income tax returns by telephone has been a big success. The “interactive voice response system” will enable 2,50,000 Singapore residents to file their tax returns by phone.

NIIT installed the new system in four months as required by the Singapore Inland Revenue Authority.

NIIT project leader Rajeev Jain said: “We had a fault-free run with maximum load for three consecutive days, with as many as 10,000 filings done in a single day.”

The application developed by NIIT uses two sets of servers supporting 144 telephone lines in all. Of these, the voice response system uses 70 lines for phone filing of income tax returns. The remaining lines are being used for a fax filing facility as well as information services not only for income tax but also other taxes like property tax.

The 1999 income tax filing period recorded over 1,10,000 filings over the phone, nearly thrice as many as 1998. The preference for this facility is expected to pick up rapidly because it is now available to both salaried tax-payers as well as business people. — TNS

Change, the only constant

NEW YORK: Girish Gaitonde, CEO of e-business provider Xoriant Corporation, firmly believes change is the only constant in the competitive world of entrepreneurship.

The 39-year-old Indian American wants to build a billion-dollar company and he has the credentials and strategy to make that happen. For starters, Gaitonde does not dabble in start-ups. He selects as clients only established companies.

After 10 years of being in existence, his Santa Clara-based company has announced a $ 30 million investment from Silver Lake Partners to accelerate its e-business strategy practice, delivery capabilities.

Since 1990, when the Mumbai-born graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, founded the company, Xoriant has undergone several transformations.

“Change is the only constant in business, ” Gaitonde told IANS. And that is the aspect the company focuses on for its own clients. By drawing on its 10-year history of designing and building scaleable customer solutions with leading technologies, Xoriant has honed its skills in process, systems and applications for real-time networks, including supply chain integration, fulfilment and logistics. — IANS

Passion for things wireless

NEW YORK: The Delhi-bred Indian American founder and CEO of AIR2LAN has a passion for wireless, otherwise he would be spending his time cruising around the world.

Jai P. Bhagat co-founded the well-known Sky Tel Communications, which sold out for a neat $ 1.3 billion to MCIWorldCom last December. Within six months, Bhagat started AIR2LAN, a high-speed wireless Internet access provider, because “my passion for wireless drives me.”

He has been in this field since 1971, and “When SkyTel was sold I thought I would not do anything but travel and have fun, but my passion took me to do a start-up,” he told IANS.

Currently serving the Jackson, Florida, area that BhTTagat has made his home since 1980, AIR2LAN expects to go to Dallas, Texax, in three months and go national in three years.

Born in western Punjab, now part of Pakistan, in 1947, Bhagat was brought up in Delhi. He went to the USA in 1969, did a master’s from Howard University, Washington, D.C., and worked with a succession of companies before moving to Jackson with Mobile Communications Corporation of America. — IANSTop


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