Monday, October 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Centre clears 120 cr IT plan for J&K
NEW DELHI, Oct 15 —The Centre has approved a Rs 120 crore comprehensive information technology plan for militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir to provide an IT network throughout the state, assist in disaster management and create job opportunities.

Growth strategy for HP
NEW DELHI, Oct 15 — The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry has advised the Himachal Pradesh to adopt a four-pronged strategy for the overall growth of the state.

Haryana invites S. Korean companies
NEW DELHI, Sept 15 — Haryana today invited South Korean companies to invest in roads, automobiles sector and theme parks in the state.




Centre clears 120 cr IT plan for J&K

NEW DELHI, Oct 15 (PTI) —The Centre has approved a Rs 120 crore comprehensive information technology (IT) plan for militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir to provide an IT network throughout the state, assist in disaster management and create job opportunities.

The it plan is part of a 20-point economic development programme for the state initiated by Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Omar Abdullah.

In the first phase of the plan, pilot projects covering 30 blocks would be implemented at a cost of Rs 20 crore during the current fiscal.

“The IT package will be of great assistance to the state in governance, creation of job opportunities, exploring new avenues of higher education and better disaster management in the event of a crisis,” Mr Omar Abdullah told PTI here.

The Government has also approved setting up of a software technology park in Srinagar at a cost of Rs 6.12 crore of which an amount of around Rs four crore has already been sanctioned.

The state government had also approached the Planning Commission with an IT proposal to link the district and villages through the Internet.

The Government is also considering providing a financial package for the state similar to the one for the insurgency hit North-East.

“The Commerce Ministry has already made its recommendations on the issue to the Finance Ministry and a package is expected soon,” he said.

He has also sought upgradation of Srinagar airport and recommissioning of the cargo complex of the airport which is non-operational at present.

The centre has also approved a Rs 5 crore 50-bed hospital at Bari Brahmana in Jammu and works worth Rs 1.56 crore were already under execution, he said.

In the road sector, Rs 71 crore development work on the Jammu-Uri segment of the National Highway (nh-1) would be completed by March 2004 while feasibility report for Moghul road and Kishtwar-Sinthanpas-Anantnag road was awaited, Mr Abdullah said.

Work had also resumed on the Chenab bridge at Akhoor and the 30-km Kishtwar-Sinthanpas road stretch would be double laned, he said.

He has also sought railway reservation counters at district headquarters to extend the network of the Indian Railways in the state.

For the Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) unit at Srinagar, which is running into losses and was facing threat of closure, Abdullah has managed to compensate the losses made by the unit from the Communication Ministry and was pursuing the matter with them for taking innovative steps to make the unit viable.

A revival plan for loss making HMT Watch Factory at Srinagar was being worked out after the heavy Industries Ministry bailed out the unit by sanctioning Rs 2.74 crore towards employees salary. Efforts are being made for setting up industries in the state for creating more employment opportunities, he said.

Efforts were also on towards setting up of a food processing industry and putting in place a marketing support mechanism for the industries, the minister said.

For promoting handicraft and handloom sector, a Craft Development Institute Complex having a common facility centre for wood seasoning and for paper pulp would be set up in Srinagar while assistance would be provided to the state government to upgrade washing and finishing techniques in the carpet sector, Mr Abdullah added.

To promote exports of Pashmina and Kani Shawls, the Centre would augment its contribution in design and technical input and would assist in reconstruction of the burnt emporium building in the valley.

Assistance from the United nations development project (UNDP) for development of leather industry and setting up of sports goods complex has been sought, he added.



Growth strategy for HP
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 15 — The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) has advised the Himachal Pradesh to adopt a four-pronged strategy for the overall growth of the state.

In a set of recommendations, the chamber has asked the state government to mainly concentrate on exploiting hydro-power, developing new townships, promoting tourism through private sector participation and supporting eco-friendly industries to put the state on the growth path.

The chamber would will the recommendations to the state Chief Secretary, Mr A.K. Goswami at an interactive session on October 17, a chamber press release said.

It has proposed that the state government should develop a common market for sale of surplus power. By the end of the Tenth Plan, the state would 7,200 MW power through the joint efforts of public and private sectors.

The chamber has asked the Himachal Pradesh Government to prepare a perspective infrastructure development plan for the next 20 years adding that the Five Year Plan should focus on physical infrastructure of power, telecom and social infrastructure with better basic amenities.

“A specialised infrastructure development company should be floated with shareholding from the government, financial institutions, private investors and the industries for developing industrial township at Baddi-Barotiwala and Paonta Sahib”, the chamber said. For creating employment, the chamber has proposed the state government undertakings engaged in manufacturing be converted into joint sector companies and be managed by professionals.


Haryana invites S. Korean companies

NEW DELHI, Sept 15 (PTI) — Haryana today invited South Korean companies to invest in roads, automobiles sector and theme parks in the state.

Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, who is currently on an official trip of Seoul, held discussions with Korean companies for participation in the construction of roads and over-bridges, automobile sector and setting up of shopping malls and theme parks.

Mr Chautala will meet senior officials of automobile manufacturers Hyundai and Daewoo and white goods company LG tomorrow, a Haryana Government press release said here.

The Chief Minister held discussions with top management of Lotte World, a sprawling state-of-art integrated theme park and shopping mall.

He was accompanied by Haryana Finance Minister Sampat Singh and PHD Chambers of Commerce and Industry President K.S. Mehta.


by K. R. Wadhwaney

Improve Delhi & Mumbai airports

AIRBUS Industrie officials were careful in answering awkward questions. “We have faith in the Indian system. The Airbus A-320 was selected on merit”. This was all that the officials thought it prudent to say. Their replies were in response to the Delhi High Court observation whether it was desirable to continue business with the company till it provided information to the CBI on alleged commission paid in the purchase of A-320s in 1980.

The court had made these observations on PIL. The court was asked to direct the CBI to expedite investigations in this issue.

Whatever may be the verdict of the CBI and the court, Airbus Industrie has already entered into contracts with software companies in several parts of the country.

Airbus Industrie’s India chief Kiran Rao has been promoted as Vice-President of the company. He will be the sales Vice-President for India and Africa.

According to a CII-NCAER study, on the aviation sector bulk of air traffic at Indian airports is concentrated on only 10 of the 61 operational airports. What is needed to improve infrastructure instead of going in for new airports is that the airports that are in existence should be improved.

Delhi and Mumbai airports have the maximum traffic. The traffic on these two airports will grow rapidly. What is immediately required is to improve infrastructure facilities there. There is a talk of constructing a new airport at Mumbai. What the aviation experts maintain is that there is nothing wrong with Sahar Airport which should be improved upon.

According to the study, both airports have inadequate capacities to meet the growing demand and therefore new investments must take place here.


by R. N. Lakhotia

Q: I am a Central Government employee. I have a handicapped daughter. I am availing the rebate of Rs 15000 under 80-DD every year through the D.D.O. but this time the D.D.O. has refused to give me the rebate on the ground that the same has been enhanced from Rs 15000 to Rs 40000. He is of the opinion that refund in this regard can be obtained from the Income Tax Department by filing the I.T. return but my submission to him is that D.D.O. is competent to give rebate at the very first instance without claiming from the I.T. department. Please clarify the point.

— Mohan Lal, Patiala

Ans: The D.D.O. is competent to grant you tax rebate u/s 80 DD specially when the same has been granted in the previous year. Merely because of increase in the exemption limit he cannot refuse to say that the tax rebate will not be granted by him. Please inform your DDO that vide circular No 781 dated 5.11.99 issued by Central Board of Direct Taxes the Government has clarified that “DDOs may not insist production of vouchers/bills by the employees for having incurred expenditure on medical treatment of their handicapped dependent for allowing the deduction u/s 80 DD for the purpose of computing tax deductible at source”. Hence, the DDO should have no problem in granting you the necessary tax deduction.

Q: I had retired as Superintendent from the BBMB. As per prevailing instructions, the deductions towards G.P.F. are to be discontinued before 6 months from the date of retirement. According to above instructions I have stopped deductions towards G.P.F. from June, 1999. I have deposited Rs 10,500 as contribution towards G.P.F. from March, 1999 to May, 1999. The payment of my G.P.F. has been received by me during January, 2000. It may kindly be clarified whether rebate of G.P.F. amount deducted from my pay is admissible in the payment of Income Tax for the year 1999-2000 or otherwise.

— Sukhdev Chand, Nangal Township

Ans: The amount deducted towards payment of GPF will qualify for tax rebate for the Financial Year 1999-2000.

Q: A surcharge of 10 per cent on Income Tax has been levied. Whether this surcharge is calculated on total income tax calculated or on net payable income tax after deducting rebate u/s 88.

Different persons give different answers to this question. There is doubt about it. — Sohan Lal Sandha, Sardulgarh (Mansa)

Ans: The surcharge on income tax is to be calculated after granting tax rebate u/s 88 from the gross amount of tax payable. This issue is very clear and the same has also been explained by Government of India Central Board of Direct Taxes in their various circulars giving illustrations on this question.


by J. C. Anand

Have patience and don’t sell in panic

THE stock market has crashed. During the last week, Sensex lost 353.49 points (8.63 per cent) and NIFTY was down by 108.25 points (8.42 per cent). The ICE shares were the worst sufferers. Pharmaceutical sector was able to hold its own. Except for Hindustan Lever scrip, other FMCG shares like Britania and Nestle made some gains in their market prices. Philips India was buoyant on the announcement that the promoter company, Philips Holland, would be raising its stake in the Indian subsidiary from 51 to 74 per cent and buy shares at Rs 105 from the Indian shareholders.

What is more disturbing is the fact that two of the top information technology companies, Infosys and Satyam Computers have announced excellent results for the first half year ended September 30, but the market price of both the companies plummeted sharply. Net profit of Infosys for the second quarter increased by 134 per cent to touch Rs 154.01 crore (as compared to Rs 65.71 crore for the corresponding period last year) yet its market price came down from Rs 7580 per share to Rs 6479. Satyam Computers announced 117.76 per cent jump in its net profit for the second quarter but its market price (for its Rs 2 face value share) dropped from Rs 468 to Rs 368.

This rather surprising decline in the market price of the top information technology scrip can be explained in terms of two factors. First, in the USA, the technology-related scrips lack investor’s support. Some of the top companies in this sector in the USA have indicated drop in their earnings. There is also some evidence that both in Europe and the USA, there has been a slowdown in industry. These top information technology companies in India earn the major part of their revenues from exports to the top international companies. In case of slowdown in industry, there may also be a decline in the demand for software and related services. Interestingly, Mastek announced lower revenues and earnings and attributed this development to one of its major foreign client opting out from the company.

The second reason is the global meltdown in the stock markets in the USA as well as in Asia. This is largely attributed to high oil prices which would adversely affect industrial growth. Moreover, the international situation (which may be a transient phenomenon) has affected market sentiment. The mid-east flare up and some terrorist activity against the US naval vessal at Yemen are responsible for it.

The domestic situation is no better. The Reserve Bank as well as CMIE have indicated that the growth rate of the Indian economy was likely to be lower than the earlier (and rather optimistic) estimates. The GDP growth rate is likely to be in the 6.0-6.5 range as against 7 to 7.5 per cent range. Agricultural growth has declined due to erratic monsoon rains which caused floods in West Bengal and drought in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

The petrogood prices, even after these are scaled down somewhat in some items, are likely to affect industrial production and the economy in general. The recent drop in the profitability of Gujarat Ambuja has been attributed by the management to the depreciation in the value of the rupee and higher oil prices. According to a report there has been a decline of 68 per cent in the sales of medium and heavy vehicles. The Prime Minister has also warned that that tough days are ahead as the path of reforms is thorny and calls for hard decisions.

“Patience” is the word that long-term investors should keep in mind in the present situation. Do not sell in panic and do not make any purchases as long-term investment till the market settles down. Even the third quarter results are expected to be lower than market expectation. It may take a pretty long time for the market to get friendly for long-term investors.


Islamabad cleanest city 

ISLAMABAD: There is a near consensus in Pakistan that Islamabad, the national capital, is the country’s cleanest city, according to a survey.

Responding to a question on the subject, 81 per cent of a national urban sample of men and women rated Islamabad as the cleanest city.

Only 6 per cent regarded Karachi as the cleanest city, 5 per cent regarded Lahore as the cleanest city and the remaining 8 per cent were divided among a large number of miscellaneous cities, NNI news agency said.

The survey was conducted by Gallup Pakistan, the Pakistani affiliate of Gallup International among a representative sample of more than 1000 men and women in the urban areas of the country. — IANS

School, their favourite place

NEW DELHI: “School,” they shout in utter glee when asked about their most favourite place in the world. But until just a few years ago these 20-odd children had no idea what the word meant.

For they are all child labourers, some of whom have even worked as bonded labourers whose physical scars are telling proof of the brutality once inflicted on them.

They were among 100 child labourers from 14 states who have come here to attend an interactive programme “Learning together... moving ahead” focussing on children’s rights. — IANS

Pilots’ pledge

MUMBAI: The Indian Pilots’ Guild on Sunday took a pledge on the 68th anniversary of J.R.D. Tata’s historic flight from Karachi to Mumbai to take Air-India to greater heights and carry forward JRD’s dream.

JRD Tata’s feat was a precursor to many important developments, the most significant being the foundation of India’s international flag carrier, Air India. His Karachi-Mumbai air journey of a thousand miles was the beginning of India’s aviation history. —UNI


Gates scholarships to help Indian students
From H.S. Rao

LONDON, Oct 15 —The 210 billion-dollar Gates Scholarships set up at the Cambridge University last week on the pattern of the Nehru Scholarships will help gifted students from all over the world and particularly from India to pursue higher studies here.

“The newly instituted Gates Scholarships will be done very much like the Nehru Scholarships,” William H Gates, Senior, Co-Chairman of the bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told PTI in an interview.

Under the scheme there will be not less than 225 Gates Cambridge scholars in residence every year from 2001, Gates said.

He said graduate students from every country in the world outside the UK would be able to apply now for the scholarships for entry in 2001.

The last date for application will be next month end and the scholarships will cover all costs, including tution, maintenance and travel.

As regards India, William Gates said Microsoft chief Bill Gate, had already announced a donation of five million dollars for computer access and another 50 million dollars for polio vaccine which would help tackle lack of medical care in poorer countries.

“We (the Foundation) spend about 500 million dollars a year and some of the projects touch a number of countries and a fair amount of money goes to the people of India,” he said.

“With these programmes, Bill Gates hopes that the young people, we select, will be motivates to use their education to put something back into society for the benefit of a much wider community,” William Gates said.

For Cambridge, the benefaction is the largest single sum that the university has ever received, the Chairman of the Gates Cambridge Trust, Sir Alec Broers said.

The 210 million-dollars given by the Seattle-based Foundation set up by Bill Gates, will fund the 225 Gates Cambridge scholars each year and will run in perpetuity.

Sir Alec said: “We have always tried to bring in as wide a range of international students as possible through our independent trusts.

“However, this amazingly generous benefaction takes things to an entirely new level and will bring 225 more students a year here to study, primarily at graduate level”.

The scholarships are for a tenure of one to three years, with the possible extension of a fourth year. Scholarships will be awarded on the basis of the candidates’ intellectual abilities, leadership capacity and commitment to use their knowledge to contribute to the benefit of society throughout the world.

Sir Alec is the Chairman of the Gates Cambridge Trust and William Gates, Senior, the Co-Chairman. Other members include former President of the University of Washington, William Gerberding, Anne Lonsdale, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and President of New Hall, Sir Robert May, incoming President of the Royal Society, Baroness O’ Neill, Principal of Newnham and Viscount Runciman, President-Elect, British Academy. — PTI wins ‘best web site’ award
From Ela Dutt

NEW YORK, Oct 15 — has been named by Wired Magazine as the ‘Best News Website’ for its quality and popularity, Jai Singh, Vice-President and editor-in-chief of the site, has said. is part of CNET Networks Inc., a news source used by buyers, sellers and suppliers. It was named Best News Web site by Wired Magazine as part of the noted publication’s annual readers’ choice poll. Wired Readers’ Raves 2000 Awards highlights the technologies, companies, products, people and Web sites that are most popular among readers.

“We are extremely happy to have won this award. It reflects the editorial staff’s passion for news and commitment to journalistic integrity and means all the more coming from the readers of Wired Magazine,” Singh said.

The award recognises CNET for consistently high-quality levels of technology news reporting and analysis by an online media company. The winners were chosen based on more than 15,000 submissions in 17 categories by Wired Magazine readers.

CNET is known for delivering continuously updated technology news 24 hours a day, including exclusive stories, live event coverage, in-depth analysis of major issues and interviews with industry newsmakers. CNET is the first online news organization to provide content to the Associated Press (AP), the oldest and largest news organisation in the world. — IANS


Inflation up
NEW DELHI, Oct 15 (PTI) — The annual rate of inflation crossed the 7 per cent mark for the week ended September 30, touching 7.56 per cent mainly due to steep rise in prices of fuel, power, light and lubricants. The point-to-point inflation rate based on the wholesale price index (WPI) for all commodities (base: 1993-94 = 100) rose by 1.50 percentage points from 6.06 (provisional) in the previous week.

Petro scam
NEW DELHI, Oct 15 (PTI) — Petroleum Minister Ram Naik has ordered a nation-wide inspection of transport fuel retail outlets in the face of a scam detected in eight re-sited outlets in Uttar Pradesh. The order follows surprise checks in resited outlets of BPCL, HPCL and IBP. The outlets were selling fuel at both the old and new locations violating the guidelines which ban old locations from operating.

Voice network
NEW DELHI, Oct 15 — The world’s first cdma2000 1XRTT (IX) wireless data and voice network, developed by 3 Com Corporation (Nasdaq: COMS) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, is now in commercial service. S K Telecom of Korea has unveiled its third generation (3G) network. The new 3G cdma2000 IX network from 3Com and Samsung allows SK Telecom customers to access mobile data services at speeds of up to 144 kbps — dramatically faster than data transmission speeds common today.

UTI fund
NEW DELHI, Oct 15 (PTI) — UTI Internet Fund has picked up 5.5 per cent stake in Internet company Star Ya for Rs 1.2 crore. “Under the agreement, UTI has picked up 3,00,000 shares of the company, representing 5.5 per cent equity stake, for about Rs 1.2 crore,” Amin Merchant, Chairman and CEO of the company, said here. The firm, funded by Indian Capital Corporation (A Chatterjee-George Soros group company) has also approached UTI Internet with a proposal to acquire additional equity, to the tune of about 7 per cent for funding its expansion plans including rolling out of its entertainment operations in Delhi, Punjab, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Dubai, he said.

Rediff results
CALCUTTA, Oct 15 (UNI) — Rediff. com India has recorded a 53 per cent growth in net revenue at the quarter ended on June 30 when its gross margin also went up by 65 per cent. The net loss margin came down by 39 per cent to $ 1.1 million from $ 2.87 million in the previous quarter. In absolute terms Rediff. com’s marketplace revenues have also gone up by record 86 per cent as on June 30 compared to over 58 per cent during the previous quarter.

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