Saturday, October 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Sinha rules out UTI privatisation
New Delhi, October 5
The government today ruled out privatisation of the Unit Trust of India and declared that it would fully support the country’s largest mutual fund which had been in the eye of a financial storm.“This (privatisation) is not on our agenda,” Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha told reporters, adding that there was also no proposal to cut interest rates on small savings like post office schemes in the face of movement towards softer interest rate regime.

‘Rice bowl of India’ lags behind
New Delhi, October 5
For a state that has come to be known as the rice bowl of India, Punjab has what it takes to reap the benefits of innovation in agricultural practices. But the industrious farmer of Punjab, it seems, has lost out to his counterparts in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh in turning ideas into wealth

Peerless to tie up with HDFC Life
Chandigarh, October 5
The Peerless General Finance and Investment Company will tie up with HDFC Standard Life Insurance and Iffco Tokyo General Insurance companies to offer insurance policies with its new products. The new products will be launched in the recurring deposit and fixed deposit segment within two months.



EARLIER STORIES
 

Rs 20 crore offered for apparel park
Ludhiana, October 5
The Ministry of Textile has offered a grant of Rs 20 crore to set up an apparel park either in Ludhiana or Amritsar. This offer is subject to the state government’s ability to evince adequate interest and necessary funds to set up a modern apparel park, which would have all facilities for the textile units, said Mr Kanshiram Rana, Union Minister for Textiles, here today.

Bank advances to farm sector go up
Chandigarh, October 5
The performances of banks in Punjab during the period between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2001 was reviewed at the 77th state-level bankers’ committee (SLBC) meeting held here today. Presiding over the meeting, Mr A.K. Bhargava, General Manager, Punjab National Bank, (Head Office), New Delhi, said the banks in the state registered a better growth in advances to agriculture and weaker sections as compared to the previous year.

Powerware unveils UPS system
Chandigarh, October 5
Powerware International launched its most advanced 550VA UPS system in SOHO (Small office home office) segment here today. The company which claims to be the world's largest producer of industrial batteries and the second largest producer of telecom power systems will launch both these products in India by the end of the financial year, said Mr Deepak Sharma, Managing Director.

Variants of Zen, Accent launched
New Delhi, October 5
Maruti Udyog has launched two limited edition deluxe variants of its highest-selling premium small car Zen, company officials said today. The new variants called Zen Deluxe VX and Zen Deluxe VXi have been priced at about Rs 8,500 more than the current VX and VXi models which cost Rs 3.78 lakh and Rs 3.99 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), respectively, Maruti officials told PTI.

Rural Net kiosks for Rs 40,000
Chennai, October 5
The Indian IT dream, wheezing and stuttering in the stock exchanges, has a new destination — the thousands of villages where a majority of Indians still live. Researchers at an elite engineering college here are promising to set up rural Internet kiosks for just Rs.40,000 in a scheme they say could finally bring the information revolution to the countryside.

Industry welcomes cut in duty drawback
New Delhi, October 5
The industry today welcomed the increase in the duty drawback rates on 300 items and removal of the duty entitlement pass book (DEPB) value caps on 400 items. President of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) K.K. Jain said in statement that the move will give great relief to the exporters.

Panipat to be on WiLL network soon
Panipat, October 5
The city is all set to come on the Wireless in Local Loop (WiLL) network with the commissioning of the 1000-line exchange by the Director (Operations) of BSNL, Mr Prithipal Singh, on October 8.

Internet dhabas for 75 HP block headquarters
Shimla, October 5
Internet dhabas will be set up in all 75 block headquarters of Himachal Pradesh by BSNL by the end of this year and the mobile Telephone service will be introduced by March next. This was announced by Chief General Manager, Telephones, N.S. Gill, at a news conference here today. Mr Gill said 30 Internet dhabas have been set up so far.

ROUND-UP

Infosys office in Singapore
Bangalore, October 5
Infosys Technologies today announced the opening of its office in Singapore with an aim to provide leading corporations there with high value consulting services and enable clients to transform their business through technology.

  • Rakesh Roshan film not 'E.T.' remake

  • Dabur cream for backache

  • TCS ties up with Portal Software

Top








 

Sinha rules out UTI privatisation

New Delhi, October 5
The government today ruled out privatisation of the Unit Trust of India and declared that it would fully support the country’s largest mutual fund which had been in the eye of a financial storm.

“This (privatisation) is not on our agenda,” Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha told reporters, adding that there was also no proposal to cut interest rates on small savings like post office schemes in the face of movement towards softer interest rate regime.

When asked about the studies being conducted by the Finance Ministry on exploring UTI’s privatisation, Sinha said “discussions don’t mean a final decision.”

Contrary to fears that UTI might face a problem of discharging its liabilities by January, the Minister said hardly Rs 200 crore had been redeemed following demands since August after crisis surfaced in US-64, the flagship scheme of the mutual fund.

“Pressure which we expected has not materialised. UTI is now in very competent hands,” he said referring to change of guard after the controversial exit of P.S. Subramanyam as chief of the trust. Sinha said the government would fully stand behind UTI in case there was any pressure or need.

He asked financial institutions to speed up funding of the private sector projects which would now be given the “same kind of treatment’’ extended to the government and public sector projects.

Covering a wide-range of issues in his second press meet after the September 11 terrorist attack in the USA, Mr Sinha ruled out any further cut on postal and other contractual savings this fiscal.

The Minister said he held a meeting with FIs today to review the progress of private sector projects funded by them and asked them to clear the bottlenecks. He did not elaborate what he meant by same kind of treatment, but said funds would not be a constraint for completion of these projects.

Stating that the government was hopeful of meeting the revenue and fiscal targets, he said he had held meeting with the Board of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) and chalked out a plan to shore up direct and indirect tax revenue.

A software would be developed to plug tax evasion and computerisation speeded up. Assistant and Deputy Commissioners and the Commissioner would be held responsible to meet collection targets without harassing the tax payer. Those found wanting would be shifted out. Other measures to meet the target would include ensuring better compliance and expediting disposal of pending cases with appellate authorities.

Mr Sinha said senior tax officials had been asked to hold meetings with tax payers to address their grievances and also ask them to pay their taxes.

Mr Sinha said collection of service tax was encouraging and with the revival of the economy he hoped that the corporate tax revenue would also pick up.

The government had drawn up a contingency plan to meet any eventuality arising from the possible American military action in Afghanistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York, Mr Sinha said. He said the government was also prepared to tackle any flare up in the international oil prices which, however, appeared unlikely. PTI, UNI
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‘Rice bowl of India’ lags behind
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 5
For a state that has come to be known as the rice bowl of India, Punjab has what it takes to reap the benefits of innovation in agricultural practices. But the industrious farmer of Punjab, it seems, has lost out to his counterparts in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh in turning ideas into wealth.

In the three years following the institution of the Technopreneur Promotion Programme by the Ministry of Science and Technology, 50 individuals have been selected by government agencies for the funding of projects and none of them, incidentally, belongs to Punjab.

On the other hand, farmers and other enterprising residents of states like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have taken the lead and come up with innovative products that can be used for agricultural purposes, like the tilt able bullock cart and the cotton stripper from farmers of Gujarat or the fire-fighting robot and cattle-driven pump from people living in Uttar Pradesh. The lone ranger from North India happens to be Raman Kumar Govila from Gurgaon, Haryana. Govila is the proud inventor of the hydrogen-oxygen gas welding machine, an innovation that is also cost-effective considering that generally such machines use acetylene gas.

The Technopreneur Promotion Programme (TPP), jointly operated by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Science and Technology, has an annual budget of Rs 50 lakh that is shared equally by the two departments and used for funding innovative ideas. The TPP also provides assistance in patent support and guidance but of the 50 proposals taken up for funding, only one has secured a US patent while four have applied for one.

However, the private sector companies based in Punjab and Haryana have fared better, at least in sponsoring such ventures, if not coming up with original ideas or inventions.

Companies based in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and SAS Nagar are working in collaboration with the government agencies to make some of the innovations commercially viable.

Scientists working in organisations under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) say the program is aimed at all professionals, besides farmers. While the enterprising Gujaratis have been quick to innovate and make money in the process, people folks of Punjab seem disinterested.
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Peerless to tie up with HDFC Life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The Peerless General Finance and Investment Company will tie up with HDFC Standard Life Insurance and Iffco Tokyo General Insurance companies to offer insurance policies with its new products. The new products will be launched in the recurring deposit and fixed deposit segment within two months.

Peerless will offer free life insurance and medical insurance policies, said Mr S. K. Roy, Managing Director, while talking to the newspersons here today.

The company which has more than 4 crore depositors across the country mobilised around Rs 500 crore, a growth of 15 per cent over the previous year. The target for March, 2002, is Rs 600 crore, said Mr Roy.

The Peerless Finance which invests more than 90 per cent in government securities disburses more than Rs 1,000 crore every year.

"The company has been successful in maintaining the confidence of investors and has shown growth despite the slowdown and UTI crisis", said Mr Roy.

Peerless will shortly network all its branches throughout the country.

"The region which contributes around 7 per cent to the total revenues holds tremendous potential and we expect to mobilise around Rs 40 crore next year", said he. The company will also conduct training programmes for its employees.
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Rs 20 crore offered for apparel park
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 5
The Ministry of Textile has offered a grant of Rs 20 crore to set up an apparel park either in Ludhiana or Amritsar. This offer is subject to the state government’s ability to evince adequate interest and necessary funds to set up a modern apparel park, which would have all facilities for the textile units, said Mr Kanshiram Rana, Union Minister for Textiles, here today.

He was here to inaugurate a workshop on “Quality and compliances — Route to global competitiveness for Indian textile and clothing industry,” organised by the Textile Committee, Ministry of Textiles. It is the first of 25 workshops planned by the committee that will be held in different parts of the country during this financial year.

Talking to the mediapersons, Mr Rana disclosed that under the Rs 25,000 crore technology upgradation fund (TUF) scheme, set up for the modernisation of the textile industry, the Ministry had received so far proposals worth Rs 14,000 crore from the industry, out of which about Rs 7000 crore proposals had been sanctioned, and Rs 3500 crore had been released till today.

Regarding the slump in the textile sector, the Minister said,‘‘ one of the factors of fall in the garment exports is worldwide recession and the decline in the US market in the aftermath of attacks on the WTC and Pentagon as about 50 per cent of total Rs 25-30, 000 crore annual garments exports of the country are exported to the US market alone. The government is trying to check the decline in exports.’’

Asked if there was a proposal to set up a textile university in Ludhiana, Mr Rana said the Ministry would certainly provide the necessary funds if the state government submitted a proposal in this regard. There was no shortage of funds from the Centre, but it was the duty of the state to take the initiative.
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Bank advances to farm sector go up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The performances of banks in Punjab during the period between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2001 was reviewed at the 77th state-level bankers’ committee (SLBC) meeting held here today. Presiding over the meeting, Mr A.K. Bhargava, General Manager, Punjab National Bank, (Head Office), New Delhi, said the banks in the state registered a better growth in advances to agriculture and weaker sections as compared to the previous year.

Mr Bhargava informed that the aggregate deposits of the banks in Punjab increased by Rs 6,213 crore, from Rs 39,242 crore as in June, 2000 to Rs 45,455 crore as in June, 2001, thus posting a growth of 15.8 per cent. The gross credit in the state expanded by Rs 2661 crore, exhibiting a growth of 17.2 per cent.

He said the agriculture advances in the state during the review period witnessed an increase of Rs 656 crore to Rs 3,923 crore as in June, 2001, thus showing a record growth of 20.1 per cent as against an increase of 17.6 per cent during the same period last year.

Welcoming the participants, Mr P.N. Khurana, General Manager, Punjab National Bank and Convener SLBC (Punjab) said the implementation of the government-sponsored programmes and schemes in Punjab was on top priority of all branks.

Ms Vinnie Mahajan, Secretary-cum-Director, IF and B, Punjab, while delivering her address on this occasion, said to boost exports and make manufacturing activities WTO-compatible, the Punjab Government had mooted a separate export promotion policy.

Mr Madan Lal, General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, said the preparation of Annual Credit Plan 2002-03 would commence shortly and advised the banks to update village profiles well before the start of the exercise. 
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Powerware unveils UPS system
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
Powerware International launched its most advanced 550VA UPS system in SOHO (Small office home office) segment here today.

The company which claims to be the world's largest producer of industrial batteries and the second largest producer of telecom power systems will launch both these products in India by the end of the financial year, said Mr Deepak Sharma, Managing Director.

Mr Sharma, who was here to launch the new product, also addressed a re-seller's meeting yesterday.

"After India, the product will be launched in other South East Asian countries", said he.

"Despite the slowdown, the UPS market will grow and we expect an growth of 50 per cent - 60 per cent per anum", said Mr Sharma.

The company also announced Salora International, national distributor for its 550- 6KVA product range. This UPS comes with new electronic voltage controller (EVC) which corrects the incoming voltage fluctuations to ensure data integrity.

As a part of the introductory offer, the company is giving 100 hours of free Internet connection, student encyclopaedia and a software containing 1,000 fonts in 18 Indian languages.

The product will be manufactured in Chandigarh to be supplied throughout the country.

At present, Powerware is providing onsite service in 47 locations across the country and plans to increase this number to 60 by the end of March 2002.

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Variants of Zen, Accent launched

New Delhi, October 5
Maruti Udyog has launched two limited edition deluxe variants of its highest-selling premium small car Zen, company officials said today.

The new variants called Zen Deluxe VX and Zen Deluxe VXi have been priced at about Rs 8,500 more than the current VX and VXi models which cost Rs 3.78 lakh and Rs 3.99 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), respectively, Maruti officials told PTI.

The company would sell only about 3,000 units of the two versions, they said.

“In addition to regular features, the new variants would come fitted with suede leather finish fabric upholstery, suede leather finish fabric inserts in door trims and wood grain finish centre,” the officials said.

The Zen, which was launched in 1993, is fitted with a 998cc engine which delivers 60 brake horse power.

The car is currently available in six variants, Zen LX, VX, DX, VXi, Zen Diesel and AT.

Accent Tornado

With its latest offering in the passenger car market, Hyundai Motors India expects to increase its sales by at least 10 to 15 per cent in the coming months,

Launching Accent Tornado, the latest variant of its Accent range in the city today, AP Gandhi, President, HMIL, told reporters that on an average 150 units of new car, priced at Rs 7,08,117 (ex-show room Chennai) were expected to be sold every month.

The sale of Accent variants alone was expected to touch 20,000 units this fiscal, adding last month’s significant slowdown in sales (over 18 per cent) was only a temporary decline.

Accent Tornado, though priced at about Rs 60,000 above the earlier Accent versions, was likely to emerge as a favourite among Indian customers because of its distinct features. PTI 
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Rural Net kiosks for Rs 40,000

Chennai, October 5
The Indian IT dream, wheezing and stuttering in the stock exchanges, has a new destination — the thousands of villages where a majority of Indians still live.

Researchers at an elite engineering college here are promising to set up rural Internet kiosks for just Rs.40,000 in a scheme they say could finally bring the information revolution to the countryside.

The best part is there is no red-tape attached government subsidy, which often stifles the best development programmes in India.

Professor of electrical engineering Ashok Jhunjhunwala of the IIT (Madras) and some of his former students have spawned a company called n-Logue aimed at providing Internet and telephone services in villages and small towns.

Using wireless-in-loop technology to provide low cost telephony solutions, the company offers the rural, small-time entrepreneur wireless equipment with antennas, cables and mast, the telephone set and an STD-PCO meter.

For the computer bit comes a Pentium 700 Mhz personal computer with multimedia and a colour monitor and a battery backup of four hours and Indian-language software to make computing relevant to non-English speaking masses. All this for just Rs.40,000.

The plan is to tie up with LSPs or local service providers. These small rural businessmen will be 50 percent partners of the kiosks and will use their local contacts to generate awareness and revenue.

"We're providing all this at Rs 40,000. This was the most difficult thing. But this was one of the key tasks we have done over the last several years," he added. Work to set up Internet kiosks is on in Cuddalore district and Madurai in Tamil Nadu and at Dhar in Madhya Pradesh. Kiosks are also coming up at Bagru in Rajasthan and Sangrur in Punjab. IANS
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Industry welcomes cut in duty drawback
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 5
The industry today welcomed the increase in the duty drawback rates on 300 items and removal of the duty entitlement pass book (DEPB) value caps on 400 items.

President of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) K.K. Jain said in statement that the move will give great relief to the exporters.

At present, exporters are finding it extremely difficult to compete with other countries due to the severe recession in the world market. In this difficult market condition, such a relief would encourage the exporters in their export efforts, Mr Jain said.

Welcoming the move, the CII stated these measures would act as a shot in the arm for exporters who are facing the brunt of the slowdown in the global economy.

The export growth has slipped to a negative 2.3 per cent in the first five months of the current year and is expected to be impacted further after the September 11 events in the USA, the CII pointed out.

The CII said the duty drawback rates on certain products related to textiles, leather and engineering goods were reduced by about 20 per cent in June, 2001, which was rather steep compared to the removal of 10 per cent surcharge in the last budget.

The removal of the value cap on DEPB, the CII said, would be beneficial to those exporters dealing in high quality value added products, who would now be able to calim DEPB based on actual value of exports.

Chairman of the expert committee on International Trade of Assocham Anil Agarwal said these measures will give a boost to the exports and suggested that the government should announce continuation of DEPB for at least two more years.

President of the PHDCCI Sushil Ansal said the move was a step towards boosting exports.
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cPanipat to be on WiLL network soon
Tribune News Service

Panipat, October 5
The city is all set to come on the Wireless in Local Loop (WiLL) network with the commissioning of the 1000-line exchange by the Director (Operations) of BSNL, Mr Prithipal Singh, on October 8.

According to Mr C.S. Kataria, General Manager Telecom District, Karnal, around 730 applicants had been informed about the launch of the scheme and 185 acceptance letters had been received by the department.

The department would provide fixed telephone sets to the subscribers on demand and they would have to pay Rs 20 per month by way of insurance premium, said Mr B.M. Setia, Deputy General Manager, Panipat. However, if the subscriber paid Rs 10,000, he would not have to pay the premium, he added. On launching of the WiLL mobile service, he said it would also be launched soon.
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Internet dhabas for 75 HP block headquarters
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 5
Internet dhabas will be set up in all 75 block headquarters of Himachal Pradesh by BSNL by the end of this year and the mobile Telephone service will be introduced by March next.

This was announced by Chief General Manager, Telephones, N.S. Gill, at a news conference here today. Mr Gill said 30 Internet dhabas have been set up so far.

Ericsson has been awarded the job of installing the mobile telephone system for BSNL in the state and the survey for this purpose has already been started.

All villages will have telephone connectivity by March next and 27,500 telephones which have outlived their lives will be replaced.
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ROUND-UP

Infosys office in Singapore

Bangalore, October 5
Infosys Technologies today announced the opening of its office in Singapore with an aim to provide leading corporations there with high value consulting services and enable clients to transform their business through technology.

The cross-border experience the company had acquired by working with leading global 1000 clients like Toshiba, American Express, Microsoft, DHL and Telstra Corporation will significantly help clients in Singapore accelerate their initiatives, according to a release here. Infosys will announce results for its second quarter ended September 30, 2001 on October 10. UNI

Rakesh Roshan film not 'E.T.' remake

Mumbai: While conceding that his new venture "Koi Mil Gaya" has elements of science fiction, filmmaker Rakesh Roshan denies he's doing a remake of Steven Spielberg's "E.T."

The high-profile director, who has been holed up with his writers for the past few weeks giving finishing touches to his new script, says, "Agreed it has got elements of science fiction and there are space ships and aliens in my film. Any film with those is bound to have an element of 'E.T.' in it."

"My film tells the story of an alien. But, please, my film isn't a remake of 'E.T.' at all," Roshan says. "Did 'E.T.' have a hero and a heroine? There are so many people in my team, writers, dialogue writers etc. They talk among themselves and with friends. That's how the truth about a film gets distorted." IANS

Dabur cream for backache

New Delhi: Dabur India today launched Dabur Back-aid, a back ache remedy, and Dabur Boro Glow, an anti-septic cream.

Launching the products Mr Shyam Sundar, head of Health Care Products division of Dabur, said Boro Glow would be able to capture 10 per cent of the Rs 230 crore-anti-septic cream market dominated by Boro creams. This cream would have a unique blend of herbal ingredients of neem, lemon, chandan and badaam which would provide rapid healing and solution to dry and chapped skin, he said. UNI

TCS ties up with Portal Software

Chennai: Tata Consultancy Services has entered into a tie-up with Portal Software Inc with a view to making aggressive joint forays into the Asia Pacific telecom market.

Ravi Viswanathan, head of Telecom Practices, TCS, told reporters that under the tie-up, TCS would undertake systems integration projects for service providers based on Portal software’s infranet suit of products in India and the Asia pacific region. PTI
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BIZ BRIEFS

Haryana loan
Chandigarh, October 5
The Haryana Government has notified a loan of Rs 80 crore, at an annual interest of 9.45 per cent, which will be payable half yearly on April 10 and October 10 each year. The duration of the loan will be 10 years and it will be repayed on October 10, 2011. TNS

BoP tie-up
Chandigarh, October 5
Bank of Punjab has entered into a tie-up with Punjab State Cooperative Bank — for the issuance of co-branded debit cards to the customers of Punjab State Cooperative Bank and installation of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at select branches of the bank. TNS

Ford India
Kolkata, October 5
Ford India recorded a 141 per cent jump in the car sales for September 2001 compared to the same period previous year and sold 3220 Ford Ikon cars in the international market. UNI

Motorola contract
New Delhi, October 5
Bharti Enterprises has chosen Motorola to install a GSM mobile network in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The three-year contract valued at $ 70 million will also include general packet radio services (GPRS) to offer high speed mobile data services, a statement said today. PTI

Hughes telecom
Mumbai, October 5
Hughes Telecom (India) has reported a higher net loss of Rs 82.69 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, 2001, compared to Rs 29.61 crore in same period of previous fiscal. PTI

LIC sells stake
Mumbai, October 5
The LIC has sold 2.18 lakh equity shares of Otis Elevator Company at Rs 280 per share to Otis Mauritius and Otis Elevator of Hong Kong aggregating Rs 6.1 crore. PTI

Schneider India
Chandigarh, October 5
Schneider Electric India and Beltex Engineering Services, Panchkula, conducted a seminar on “Embedded Web Server Technology in PLCs.” The seminar focussed on use of Ethernet and Internet technologies on the factory floor. TNS
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