Monday, October 9, 2000,
 Chandigarh, India



Chautala meets Singtel chief
SINGAPORE, Oct 8 —Heading a high-level delegation, Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala today began his three-day hectic visit to woo investors from Singapore, an acknowledged leader in telecommunications and urban development.

IT-savvy CMs: e-aware or e-nabled?
NEW DELHI, Oct 8 — As the gains of information technology translate into big business, big growth, even a win at the hustings, more and more state governments are logging on to inter and intra Nets, to not only improve their economies but achieve overall growth by reaching the fruits of IT to the common man.

Two aircraft for Air-India soon
AUGHT in an unprecedented air pocket over the Bay of Bengal, Airbus-300 bounced like a balloon on a height of over 28,000 feet. The plane, on a scheduled operation from Chennai to Singapore, oscillated violently and dragged on both sides.




Chautala meets Singtel chief

SINGAPORE, Oct 8 (UNI) —Heading a high-level delegation, Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala today began his three-day hectic visit to woo investors from Singapore, an acknowledged leader in telecommunications and urban development.

Mr Chautala, who arrived here this morning, had a luncheon meeting with Mr Lee Hsien Yang, President and Executive Officer of Singtel—Singapore Telecommunications — and his top management including Vice-Presidents in charge of international finance, operations and human resource development.

It was considered a rare meeting organised by a Singapore-based telecom major for a visiting dignitary on a Sunday and that too by cancelling a scheduled meet in Indonesia.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang, who had been its Prime Minister for 25 years till he himself decided to lay down the office, expressed his keen interest in the presentation made by the PHDCCI President K S Mehta, who reeled out statistics to prove that Haryana was a favoured destination for potential investors.

Mr Lee, whose Singtel has joined Bharati Telecom in a strategic alliance just two months ago, evinced keen interest in the development of Haryana and thanked Mr Chautala for cooperation and assurances offered to potential investors from Singapore.

Earlier, Mr Chautala flew in here with a strong delegation from the PHD CCI, including its President K S Mehta, Mr Sushil Ansal, Mr Rajan Bharati Mittal, joint MD of Bharati Enterprises and several other captains of industry from North India. The delegation will be joined by some other members including Mr Jagdish Khattar, MD Maruti Suzuki and Mr Bhupinder Jauhar of Yamuna Auto during the next phase of delegations endeavour in Japan.

The delegation led by Mr Chautala, whose current foreign visit will also take him to Korea besides Japan, is also likely to be joined by a top brass of Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd.

Later this evening, Mr Chautala addressed a gathering of Indian community including several leaders in Tourism, IT and Entertainment industry at a reception.



Cut bank rate: Assocham

NEW DELHI, Oct 8 (PTI) — Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) has suggested to the RBI to reduce lending rate, bank rate and cash reserve ratio (CRR) to enhance availability of credit to the banking system.

In a memorandum submitted to RBI before announcement of the Busy Season Credit Policy, the chamber said lending rate should be reduced by at least 2 per cent in view of the current inflation rate, while bank rate and CRR should come down by at least 1 per cent each.

The chamber said the bank should also consider allowing full deregulation of interest rate for loans below Rs 2 lakh as these loans are advanced at PLR although cost and risk involved were high.

Banks should cross-subsidise by charging proportionately higher from those borrowing more than Rs 2 lakh, the chamber said in a release issued here today.

Assocham also suggested reduction in interest rate on export transaction for pre and post-shipment finance to about 6.5 per cent.

Assocham said interest rate applicable for Export Credit at 25 per cent per annum, from the date the bills fall due for payment, was exorbitant and needed urgent review.

It said the overdue interest rates should be 2 per cent extra for a maximum period of upto 180 days, 4 per cent extra for upto 270 days and thereafter the normal rates should be applicable.

The chamber pointed out that the current account convertibility had worked quite well but there were a number of areas in which either permission of RBI was necessary or there was a reporting requirement.

Despite harmful impact of high interest rate of cost of credit and consequent impact on industry, RBI had hiked bank rate by one per cent, CRR by 50 basis points to 8.5 per cent and halved the refinance facility available to banks. 



IT-savvy CMs: e-aware or e-nabled?

NEW DELHI, Oct 8 (PTI) — As the gains of information technology translate into big business, big growth, even a win at the hustings, more and more state governments are logging on to inter and intra Nets, to not only improve their economies but achieve overall growth by reaching the fruits of IT to the common man.

Profound as it may sound, but Microsoft Moghul Bill Gates’ statement on the ‘e-awareness’ level of Indian politicians did have a ring of substance, if reports and statistics from the states are an indicator.

Notwithstanding their political leanings, governments in majority of the states have set apart portions of their capital to develop communication networks, rely on information technology and are re-modelling their syllabi to churn out more and more IT professionals lest they miss the millennium’s key to development.

If ‘Y2K compliant’ Chandrababu Naidu, as the IT-savvy Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister is referred to after his re-election last year, has promised to provide “anytime, anywhere services to the citizens”, West Bengal’s Chief Minister Jyoti Basu says “we have delayed a bit in entering the IT era, but are fast progressing in spreading IT education to the grass roots level.”

Rajasthan, in its IT policy declared this year, has pledged to earmark three per cent of its plan outlay to IT sector by the year 2003 and make all departments use a state-wide Value Added Network (VAN) for inter and intra departmental communication.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh says “the main thrust of our IT policy is not to create a few millionaires, but to make it helpful to the common man.”

His government’s ‘Gyandoot’— an intranet network in Dhar district connecting 21 centres to provide vital commodity market information to 600 remote villages was awarded the Stockholm Challenge award for Democracy and Public Service.

The project, now connecting all the districts in the state, has helped millions of farmers save precious time by providing easy access to information, which earlier had to be collected from poorly connected district and tehsil head quarters.

Not lagging far behind are the states of Assam and Orissa and the Union Territory of Chandigarh which have put up their own websites as a first step towards transparent governance and plan to accept people’s pleas on e-mail, which the Karnataka Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna is already reported to be doing.

Krishna’s state which took the lead in logging on to IT as the route to successful growth announced its IT policy in 1997. The state revised its policy in March this year to include as objectives, utilisation of it as a means of eradicating poverty, reducing unemployment and ensuring empowerment of women.

This apart, it has pledged to use e-governance as a tool to make the government more pro-active and responsive to its citizens, says E.V. Ramana Reddy, Director, IT, Karnataka.

No empty words these. While states that took to IT earlier are fine tuning their networks to suit their needs, the late entrants are making an earnest bid to catch on.

Having reaped the benefits of IT, major IT players like Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are now making efforts to improve quality of administration through e-governance as also improve IT infrastructure to international standards.

Tamil Nadu, which earned Rs 2,000 crore by way of software exports this year, has established a Rs 350 crore state-of-the art IT facility TIDEL park in Chennai.

In administration, specific areas like registration, motor vehicles, land records and sales tax departments have been identified for computerisation. The process has been completed in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts.

In Andhra, Naidu has proposed to set up a unified government portal, that would provide the citizens unhindered access to government information through wireless technology.

He has also promised extensive use of IT in the area of distant education and primary health.

In Maharashtra, the government plans to use IT in governance by computerisation of government departments and computerised interface between the citizen and the government through bulletin boards and Public Teleinfo centres to ensure instant interaction with government programmes, policies and procedures.

The state has announced a slew of measures by way of tax holidays and concessions for the promoters of the IT industry to consolidate its leading position.

While the pioneers consolidate their position as leaders, late entrants are leaving no stones unturned in their endeavour to attract investments in the IT sector. 



By J.C. Anand

German Remedies, Glaxo good picks

INFOSYS and Satyam computers are scheduled to “announce” their quarterly results on October 10 and Vikas WSP on October 14. Both foreign and Indian analysts expect 80 to 100 per cent growth in net profits for the first six months in Infosys and Satyam. The market has, however, not responded to the news positively; in fact Infosys shed 96 points and Satyam 13 points in trading on Friday last week. Only Vikas WSP was up by 46 points.

The analysts, however, do not expect any substantial rise in the market price of Infosys and Satyam even after the results are announced. One explanation is that these shares are quoting at such high rates and P/E ratios that the expected growth rate has already been discounted in the current market prices. A great part of their market rating is based not so much on their present fundamentals as on their promise of maintaining this sustained growth for the next three to four years.

There are also reports that interest in information technology scrips in the USA is also declining. Dell Computers Corporation, the world number two personal computer maker said on Wednesday last week that its third quarter sales were expected to be 3 per cent lower due to weak demand in Europe, though its overall annual results will be good. Some of the largest semi-conductor companies have cut down their production due to fall in demand. An article in a highly influential US journal has also expressed the view that the profitability of ICE companies is stagnating but that of non-technical stock is gaining.

Ashit Kothari, the research head of ASK Raymond James Securities has said that a slowdown on global spending technology could affect growth rates of Indian firms over a longer period.

Vikas WSP is expected to show good quarterly results and its present market price is expected to hold on and even to improve by ten per cent or so. The company’s growth rate equals that of the top information scrips. In this column, I had recommended profit-taking when it was quoting around Rs 1100 or so. I have no hesitation in recommending long-term investment in this scrip.

The Sterlite Industries shares have now been split; and two companies have been formed out of the old Sterlite Industries company. That part which deals with copper smelting etc is quoting around Rs 154 for its Rs 5 face value scrip.

The other company which will be dealing with cables has not yet been registered with the stock exchange. It is expected that its Rs 5 face value share will be quoted in the Rs 500-600 range. Investment in this company may be more profitable that in the new Sterlite Industries.

Analysts are now recommending long-term investment in pharma shares. The Indian pharma companies are at present doing better on the stock exchanges than the pharma multinationals. But in two years time, the position is expected to be reversed completely. German Remedies and Glaxo are rated as good investment scrips. Hoechst also has a great future.



By K.R. Wadhwaney

Two aircraft for Air-India soon

CAUGHT in an unprecedented air pocket over the Bay of Bengal, Airbus-300 bounced like a balloon on a height of over 28,000 feet. The plane, on a scheduled operation from Chennai to Singapore, oscillated violently and dragged on both sides.

The bouncing of the aircraft was steep that many of the 174 passengers were thrown out of their seats. Some of them sustained injuries and a few had deep bruises all over their bodies. It was a horrowing time for 13 air hostesses who, in an effort to attend to injured passengers, particularly women and children, encountered many problems. At least six of them sustained bruises while performing their duties.

The flight IA 555 was scheduled to take off at 12.50 a.m. But the flight from Delhi landed at the Chennai airport much behind scheduled time. The delayed international flight became air-borne at 3.30 a.m. The flight was in air for about 20 minutes when the aircraft ran into severe air pocket. The pressure of the air pocket was so severe that was a virtual nightmare for the pilot to control the flight.

The plane had sustained damage as at least half-a-dozen seats were detached. The cockpit voice recorder bearing registration number EVD was taken possession of for the authorities to undertake a probe into the incident.

The aviation analysts said that the instances of getting caught in severe air pocket were not many. But the ‘air pocket’ over the Bay of Bengal was extremely rough and anything could have happened.

Lease aircraft
As board has approved augmentation of fleet, Air India will soon acquire two Airbus 310-300 (lease) aircraft from Singapore airline. The flight operation plans have not yet been finalised but two lease-in aircraft are likely to be pressed into service on lucrative Gulf-routes. There is a heavy traffic on the Hyderabad-Jeddah route and one aircraft may operate on this sector.

The board has approved of leasing three A-310-300s from the GECAS. This is a leasing company, part of the GE conglomerate. These aircraft will replace three Airbus 300B4s, which may be passed on to Indian Airlines.

The GECAS lease aircraft are expected to be with Air India before December starts. If the leasing company fails to deliver these three aircraft on time, it will be required to pay compensation to the national carrier.

While leasing out A-310-300 to Air India, Singapore Airlines plans to operate bigger aircraft on several of its longhaul routes. Singapore Airlines is in for bigger jump than many other affluent airlines. SIA has several promotional schemes to secure more quantum of passengers than it has been hitherto doing. SIA may be one of the early carriers to opt for extra jumbo jets which are being manufactured by Airbus Industry and Boeing.

Despite massive increase in fuel prices, Air India may not increase fares immediately, but it may seek government permission to hedge fuel prices. 



By R. N. Lakhotia

Q: How would be countable the surcharge 10 per cent on the income tax in the assessing year 1999-2000? Either on total or on net payable tax?

— B.S. Atwal, Kangra

Ans: The rate of surcharge for the financial year 1999-2000 relevant to the assessment year 2000-2001 is 10 per cent. This surcharge is on income exceeding Rs 60,000 per annum. The surcharge is to be calculated not on the tax payable but on the net tax payable. Thus it means that first a tax payer calculates the Income-Tax payable by him, from this amount deduct the rebate of tax and finally on the balance resultant amount surcharge has to be calculated @ 10 per cent for the Financial Year 1999-2000.

Q: I am a Central Government employee and was in receipt of personal pay of Rs 60 p.m. on account of undergoing family planning operation. On implementation of RPR-1996 the rate of personal pay has been revised to Rs 175 p.m.The decision for revision was taken by Central Government in August 1999. I was paid arrears of increase for the years 1996, 97, 98 & 99 amounting to Rs 5175 in December 1999. My audit authorities have deducted Rs 1600 out of this arrear i.e. @ 30 per cent of Income Tax as Income Tax for 1999-2000.

2. Please clarify whether the incentive given by the government for adopting small family norm is subjected to recovery of income tax or it is exempted.

3. Whether the arrears for the years 1996, 97, 98 & 99 paid in year 1999 are to be taken as income in the year 99 or it can be spread to the income-tax statements for the years 1996, 97, 98 & 99 when these became due.

4. No income tax was due to me had the payment of PP been made to me in the year 1996, 97 & 98 when they became due. How the income-tax on this PP can be avoided in the year 1999?

— Raj Kumar Sharma, Jalandhar

Ans: The personal pay received by you is liable to income tax. The employer will deduct income tax on the arrear amount received by you on account of personal pay. The arrears in respect of personal pay can be taxed in the year in which they are due. It is beneficial for you to adopt to get the arrear amount taxed in the respective years so that your liability to nil. Please remember that as per Section 89(1) relief in respect of arrear salary is available.

Q: I have following income. Kindly let me know which income out of following will be added to my income or not:-

For FY 1999-2000. Assessment Year 2000-2001.

(1) Dividend from company = 15430 (on shares)

(2) Intt. from N.S.C. = 12000

(3) Intt. on I.C.C.I. Safety Bond = 1200

(on Rs 10,000 invested above 6000 Investment)

(4) Debenture Intt. = 18435

(5) ULIP Dividend = 9435

— Neenu Gupta, Rohtak

Ans: For the financial year 1999-2000 relevant to the assessment year 2000-2001 dividend from company is fully exempted, interest from NSC exempted to the maximum extent of Rs 12,000 U/S 80L. For interest on ICICI safety bond, please go through the issue letter to find whether the investment is eligible for Section 80L benefit, debenture interest becomes fully taxable, ULIP dividend is tax free.



Germany woos IT investment firms

BERLIN, Oct 8 (PTI) — Germany has launched an initiative to woo Indian IT companies to set up shop in that country urging them to tap the vast opportunies offered by the $ 50 billion German IT market.

“An India division has been set up in the Berlin-based Industrial Investment Council (IIC), and negotiations are at an advanced stage to help the first Indian IT company to be set up,” ICC chairman Hans Christoph Von Rohr said.

The company, whose name has not been revealed, will come up in the eastern part of Germany. The eastern areas are being specially promoted for Indian companies, IIC officials said.

“We are very much interested in India because we feel that the Indian industry, especially the IT industry, is very powerful and strong, growing fast with the aim of not only serving the domestic, Asian and American markets but also to enter the European markets,” Rohr told PTI here.

Germany was looking towards India to forge strategic alliances and joint ventures in the field of computer software and hardware, telecommunications, e-commerce semi-conductors, broadcasting TV, film production and Internet.

The move to invite the Indian IT companies is beyond the “green card” initiative launched on August 1 to issue 20,000 special work permits to the computer specialists of non-European origin.

Portals for trade of steel launched

CALCUTTA, Oct 8 (PTI) — A number of B2B portals has been launched offering full range of e-commerce transactions catering to the steel players considered as the second largest industry in the world.

As the demand for steel in India is expected to grow from the present 23 million tonne to 40 million tonne by 2005 at a compounded annual growth rate of 12 per cent, portals like steelrx.Com, clickforsteel.Com and steelexchange.Com have been launched to act as facilitator for the industry.

For instance, the objective of steelrx.Com, according to the portal sources, is to target spot and strategic buying of steel. The portal will target the sale of slow moving inventory of steel suppliers.

SBP donates winter clothes to blind

CHANDIGARH, Oct 8 — Mrs Veena Batra, wife of Mr A.K. Batra, Managing Director, State Bank of Patiala distributed winter clothing to the blind persons of Home Come School for the Blind, Patiala run by the Society for the Welfare of Handicapped and Deaf and Dumb.

The quantum of financial assistance funded by the bank as on March 31,2000 stood at Rs. 34.77 crore with 27,872 borrowal accounts. The bank has already adopted an orphan girl whose overall expenditure till marriage will be met by the bank.



Welcome brickbats !

CHAMPAWAT: If you thought brickbats in any form are naturally unwelcome, wait till you visit the Devidhura village in Uttar Pradesh where it is considered fortunate to be hit by a brick!

In Devidhura in Champawat district, better-known as a favorite haunt of hunter-turned-conservator Jim Corbett, the bizarre annual ritual of ‘bagwal’ proved to be a big draw again, with hundreds flocking in from more than 32 nearby villages to participate and thousands pouring in as spectators.

An estimated 30,000 people watched as the participants passionately threw stones at each other for at least 10 minutes until the priest of the much revered local Barahi temple decided to call it a day.

The priest is in fact the referee in this weird game. And he stops the game when he is convinced that the blood-shed during the game is equivalent to the blood in a single human body.

Significantly, among the audience this year were top district officials, including DIG, Gopal Gupta, District Magistrate S.K. Maheshwari and all local public representatives.

Talking about the age-old tradition, the chief priest of the temple Raghubar Datt told IANS: “Legend has it that the gods in the Barahi temple had demanded annual human sacrifice by the local villagers, who formally resolved to fulfil the divine wish by offering the head of one member from each family annually.”

However, in some late period, an old woman, who had only one grandson left as the family’s breadwinner, made fervent appeals to the gods to provide an alternative.

“Eventually, the gods appeared to tell the old woman and the villagers to thenceforth observe this ritual of hitting each other with stones and shed enough blood that would make up for the sacrifice of one human being,” he pointed out. “But what is important in this case is that the brickbatting must be done without any kind of prejudice and with a clear heart,” he added. — IANS

Paula Jones uncovered!

WASHINGTON: Former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, whose sexual harassment case led to U.S. President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, is back in news, posing naked for Penthouse and embarrassing her friends.

The New York Daily News, which broke the story, says plastic surgery shrank her Pinocchio profile, and braces put a gleam in her smile. Now Paula Corbin Jones is showing the rest of her souped-up self.

The magazine, which is scheduled to hit the street on October 24, will feature a nine-page spread of a nude and seminude Jones with a story titled, “Paula Jones Uncovered! She shows all, she tells all: How the Far Right used and abused her to destroy Clinton.”

“This is the new and improved Paula Jones. ... She has a lovely body,” the publication quoted a spokeswoman for the publisher, General Media Communications Inc., as saying.

“It’s a Paula Jones who feels so good about herself that she wants to share the truth of what (the right-wingers) did to her with the rest of the world,” she said of the story by Joe Conason. — IANS

Protest against advertisement

DURBAN: An advertising bill board on a busy street in Johannesburg has been pulled down after members of the local Indian community protested that it offended the Hindu religion.

The “offending” bill board, on Jan Smuts Avenue in Randburg, a suburb of Johannesburg, showed a picture of a cow with Goddess Saraswathi’s picture on the forehead, while the other half showed a plate full of grilled steaks, with the words: “Only what you want”.

The Tamil community in Johannesburg said the “offending” bill board showed the insensitivity of certain people.

They protested to the government and the Human Rights Commission.

They alleged this was not the first time that advertisers had used Hindu deities to promote their products. They have done it in the past also when a Hindu deity was used to promote a burger.”

The ad was scrapped after complaints by the people of Indian origin. A spokesperson for the agency that promoted the latest bill board apologised for the advertisement and said it was never the intention of the company to offend the Hindus.

“We want to apologise if we had offended the Hindu community,” he said. — PTI

  • On the back of mixed price movements at the Silverline counter, market players have decided to hold on to the shares of this company.
  • Hold Polaris Software with a medium term perspective, avers a renowned fund adviser, who believes that the scrip has potential to appreciate.
  • A large foreign fund has turned bearish at the Himachal Futuristics counter, confided a source close to the company management.
  • Having risen marginally, operators have decided to book profits at the Bharat Petroleum counter, says an eminent market observer.
  • Buy Reliance Industries, as the scrip tops the list of priorities of many players, informs a well-known fund manager.
  • Buy DSO Software, the scrip has caught attention of a big Mumbai-based operator.
  • Zee Telefilms might soon recover on the back of fresh purchases from institutional investors, avers a well-known mutual fund manager.
  • Buy Satyam Computers, which is going cheap at this price, observes a market analyst.
  • Invest in Cadbury India, as the scrip might again witness a jump in its price, opines a veteran analyst.
  • A prominent portfolio manager is of the view that Hughes Software is looking very attractive at this price level.
  • After Dr Reddy’s spectacular performance in the last few trading sessions, the scrip has come under severe selling pressure, opines a leading market analyst.
  • Nestle was in the limelight recently on account of fund-based buying, market participants are of view that the scrip could be a good medium-term investment.
  • On the back of positive news at the SSI counter, the scrip had perked up on the bourses, however, the same is unsustainable in the present market conditions.



Inflation rises
NEW DELHI, Oct 8 (PTI) — The annual inflation rate crossed the 6 per cent mark after one and a half months to close at 0.5 percentage points higher at 6.06 per cent in the week ended September 23 due to sharp rise in manufactured products.

MUMBAI, Oct 8 (PTI) — IDBI has appointed i-Flex Solutions Ltd, the information technology arm of Citibank, to implement an integrated banking solutions package in a phased manner over a period of 12 to 18 months.

CHANDIGARH, Oct 8 — Samsung India Electronics Ltd, has launched a mega promotion for the wedding season titled ‘Samsung Shubh Wedding Bonanza’ October 1. It will last on December 31. The bonanza includes discounts on product bundling. Easy finance options, discounts on other brands, discount on annual maintenance contract and a mega contest offer.

NEW DELHI, Oct 8 (PTI) — Escotel Mobile Communications Ltd, a joint venture company of Escorts and Hong Kong-based first Pacific, would soon approach an Indian Financial Institution (FI) for debt, to part fund its Rs 230 crore expansion plan for the next two years.

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