Saturday, December 15, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Stone of first IIIT in region laid
SAS Nagar, December 14
The Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy, today said the Central Government was determined to carry out reforms in different sectors. The government had also resolved to increase its expenditure on information technology (IT) to 3 per cent of the GDP by 2008 as against the present IT expenditure of around 6 per cent, he said.

Punjab takes a step to board IT bus?
S
o Punjab will finally have an IIIT at Mohali. It’s a major achievement and the Punjab Government and the three companies — M&M, Fortis Heathcare and Ranbaxy — deserve to be cheered. But how long will it take to complete? The Mahendras, who started their knowledge park at Mohali more than three years ago and are still at the preliminary stage, are also associated with the proposed Indian Institute of Information Technology and one can only hope that this project is not delayed.

Tata, BSES to sign pact on DPC soon
Mumbai, December 14
Tata Power Company (TPC) and BSES Ltd, the two bidders for bankrupt Enron’s stake in the Dabhol Power Company will sign a confidentiality agreement next week for carrying due diligence of buying the 2,184 mw power plant in Guhagar, Maharashtra.

Policy on power on the cards
Chandigarh, December 14
The Ministry of Power is aggressively pursuing the power reforms agenda, including the draft captive power policy, said Mr A. K. Sachan, Director, Ministry of Power, while addressing industrialists at a session on Captive Power Policy and Electricity Bill, 2001 here today.

Graphic: Assets of Nationalised banks

CORPORATE NEWS

VSNL recommends 750 pc
Mumbai, December 14
The Board of Directors of VSNL, at its meeting held here today, has recommended a special interim dividend of 750 per cent.

  • Plan to sell Modern Foods stake to HLL



A photo illustration of the coins contained in a Euro currency kit which are being distributed in France on Friday. The kits of Euro coins, equivalent of 100 French francs, are available to the public as of Friday ahead of the January 1, 2002, entry date of the new currency in the 12-nation euro zone. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 

ROUND-UP

Dr Reddy’s to sell asthma drug
Hyderabad, December 14
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to market Zafirlukast (generic name), used for the management of asthma, in the country.

  • Indica sales zoom 115 pc in Nov
  • Leyland sales dip, exports up
Acura announced on Thursday that it will debut its RD-X concept SUV (shown in this artist drawing), which combines street performance of a sports coupe with the ruggedness of a SUV, at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in January. The RD-X features a unique 2+2 configuration, which can seat four or, with the rear seats folded away, provide abundant room for bicycles, snowboards and other weekend getaway essentials. A wide-mouth rear opening features innovative doors that open by sliding out and to the side for easy access in tight, urban quarters. — Reuters


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Stone of first IIIT in region laid
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 14
The Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy, today said the Central Government was determined to carry out reforms in different sectors. The government had also resolved to increase its expenditure on information technology (IT) to 3 per cent of the GDP by 2008 as against the present IT expenditure of around 6 per cent, he said.

Mr Rudy, who was in the town to lay the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), claimed that the resolve of the BJP-led coalition to induce market reforms had been acknowledged all over, adding that the disinvestment reforms were part of it.

Quoting the contents of a World Bank survey in the USA, he said most of the IT vendors ranked India as their first choice for software-development services. The Indian IT professionals were the first choice of 82 per cent of the companies in the USA. He said the revenue earned by the Indian IT industry during 1999-2000 was around Rs 37,000 crore, which shows a growth of 50 per cent as compared to a revenue of Rs 24,781 crore in 1998-99. With 150 major hardware players and 800 ancillary units, the IT industry grew at rate of 53 per cent in 1999-2000.

Seeing a role of Punjab in the projected growth of jobs for IT professionals, Mr Rudy said the concept of IIIT’s, wherein the private sector handles its own schools in specialised areas of IT, would be able to fill in the gap between the demand and the supply. The IIIT at SAS Nagar was the seventh such centre being set up in India, the others being at Hyderabad, Bangalore, Gwalior, Chennai, Allahabad and Kolkata.

He claimed that the IT industry had registered a growth rate of more than 42.2 per cent, which was almost double of growth rate of the industry in many developed countries. The minister said for a targeted software export of $60 billion by year 2008, India would have to register a fast growth rate.

Deviating from his written speech, he said the Opposition was raising hue and cry about the disinvestment reforms of the BJP-led government. Of around Rs 74,000 crore invested in PSU’s the returns were very less, he observed. Citing the Balco case, he said even the Supreme Court had found the disinvestment move right. He said the potential of Punjab in the IT was proved from the fact that the Software Technology Park of India (STPI) was proposing to start its centre at Jalandhar after SAS Nagar.

Mr R.I. Singh, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Punjab, said the software export from units in SAS Nagar had touched Rs 52 crore this year. As per the concept of the IIIT, the industry prescribes the syllabus. The IIIT at SAS Nagar was established by the State Electronics Corporation in collaboration Mahindra and Mahindra group. at a cost of around Rs 45 crore. It would have an built-up area of 25,000 sq metre. In the first phase, admissions would be done for the academic session starting July 2002.

He said the state government had set up an IT vision group. The group had proposed the creation of a department of IT and setting up of a Punjab IT service to facilitate the IT usage in government departments. Allowing software units in residential premises and provision for automatic approval from Pollution-Control Board had also been decided, he said.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP, and Prof Jagir Singh Bhullar, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, also spoke on the occasion.
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Punjab takes a step to board IT bus?
Nirmal Sandhu

So Punjab will finally have an IIIT at Mohali. It’s a major achievement and the Punjab Government and the three companies — M&M, Fortis Heathcare and Ranbaxy — deserve to be cheered. But how long will it take to complete? The Mahendras, who started their knowledge park at Mohali more than three years ago and are still at the preliminary stage, are also associated with the proposed Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) and one can only hope that this project is not delayed.

Punjab has already missed the IT bus. It is much behind Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in realising the IT benefits. This sounds painful, given the fact that many Punjabis have excelled in IT globally. So many others have missed the opportunity because of lack of IT teaching infrastructure in Punjab. The IIIT at Mohali will, therefore, meet a long-felt need.

It was almost three years ago I read a detailed study on Punjab’s proposed IT projects authored by Mr N. S. Kalsi, an IAS officer. Most of them have remained on paper. The Punjab Government, enthused by the IT wave then sweeping the globe, set up a separate department for IT development, but it has remained dormant. The government set up a task force of experts. It has never met. A sum of Rs 100 crore was earmarked for IT development, but much of it perhaps remains unspent, if not diverted to more pressing areas. The concept of e-governance is at remained the talking stage only. The IT benefits to agriculture have remained unrealised.

The government did make a commendable beginning to introduce IT as a subject in schools and colleges with the participation of major companies. The state’s technical university, better known as PTU, went to an extreme when it allowed franchise to many private parties of unsound financial credentials within and outside Punjab. They opened up IT shops without the required infrastructure and qualified faculty. As a result, students lost money and precious time. The UGC has now banned this practice. An IT institute now requires to meet the minimum UGC prescribed standards to claim recognition. The scope for producing IT experts to meet the global demand is tremendous. Punjabis have displayed talent for computers and can gladly work anywhere.

Had the CM devoted as much time on building e-governance as he does on politicking, he would have earned the gratitude of many Punjabis. If every public-dealing government department sets up a site on the Internet to genuinely answer queries and give the required information, people would be saved from harassment and humiliation meted out in offices. Corruption would be minimised, if not eliminated. But officers and babus will not let that happen. Using the Internet to run the administration requires a bold and informed leader like Chandrababu Naidu.

In agriculture computers can work wonders. Providing Internet access to villagers will help them learn the latest farming practices, get latest information on commodity prices in different markets, understand demand and supply of farm products, get medical and veterinary help online, know about the weather in advance and cheaply interact with their relatives abroad through e-mail.

The Chennai-based M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation floated an information village project in Pondicherry in 1998 with a view to “reaching the unreached” and made these services available at the village level. The project, started with a $120,000 grant from Canada’s International Development Research Centre, has now earned the Foundation the Stockholm Challenge Award. Can’t the idea work in Punjab? More importantly, will someone try?
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Tata, BSES to sign pact on DPC soon

Mumbai, December 14
Tata Power Company (TPC) and BSES Ltd, the two bidders for bankrupt Enron’s stake in the Dabhol Power Company will sign a confidentiality agreement next week for carrying due diligence of buying the 2,184 mw power plant in Guhagar, Maharashtra.

“Enron, GE and Bechtel have agreed for carrying the due diligence of their $ 3 billion plant and will sign the confidentiality agreement to be finalised by the lenders, early next week,” a senior financial institution official told PTI from Singapore today.

Enron India Managing Director K. Wade Cline, however, said the multinational had assured both Indian and foreign lenders that he would apprise the other two shareholders, GE and Bechtel, which hold 10 per cent stake each in DPC, before coming to a final decision.

Cline said Enron “will communicate its final decision to the FIIs once the other two shareholders concur for a due diligence, which will begin soon.”

IDBI Chairman P.P. Vora said the two-day marathon negotiations had ended on a “positive note and a road map has been worked out” to go ahead with the proposed sale of DPC’s 2,184 mw plant in Guhagar, Maharashtra. PTI
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Policy on power on the cards

Chandigarh, December 14
The Ministry of Power is aggressively pursuing the power reforms agenda, including the draft captive power policy, said Mr A. K. Sachan, Director, Ministry of Power, while addressing industrialists at a session on Captive Power Policy and Electricity Bill, 2001 here today.

Clean, uninterrupted and economic power is the need of the industry to survive in the era of global competition. "Reforms and privatisation of certain areas of this important sector will go a long way in improving the situation", said he.

The Centre is to prepare a National Electricity Policy and Tariff Policy. Mr R. L. Mahajan, Vardhman Spinning and General Mills, Mr Kirpal Singh from the PSEB, Mr Andleeb Jain and Mr K Sachdev were present. TNS
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CORPORATE NEWS

VSNL recommends 750 pc

Mumbai, December 14
The Board of Directors of VSNL, at its meeting held here today, has recommended a special interim dividend of 750 per cent.

The dividend is subject to the condition that it is cleared by the competent authority since the amount involved is more than the up to date current year’s profit and would need to be paid out of past profits.

The special dividend has been recommended taking into account the investment plans of the company and expected profits. It was felt by the Board that no serious financial problems are anticipated if the Central Government’s proposal of special interim dividend of 750 per cent is accepted.

Plan to sell Modern Foods stake to HLL

Within two years of offloading a 74 per cent stake in Modern Foods Industries to Hindustan Lever Ltd, the government is considering selling the balance 26 per cent stake in the bread major to HLL.

The department of Disinvestment (DoD) is likely to seek approval of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment on sale of the remaining government stake in MFIL to strategic partner in accordance with some specific clause of the agreement signed with HLL in January, 2000.

As per the agreement, the government could sell its remaining stake to the strategic partner after one year of privatisation of MFIL, government sources said, adding that a proposal was being formalised for the purpose of selling the remaining stake.

HLL acquired the 74 per cent stake in MFIL along with management control last year for a consideration of about Rs 105 crore to the government besides committing Rs 20 crore to upgrade MFIL.

This corresponded to Rs 165.4 crore for sale of 100 per cent equity, against valuation range of Rs 28.51 crore to Rs 78.55 crore, determined as per valuation methodologies. Agencies 
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ROUND-UP

Dr Reddy’s to sell asthma drug

Hyderabad, December 14
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to market Zafirlukast (generic name), used for the management of asthma, in the country.

“Dr Reddy’s is the first company to get approval for marketing Zafirlukast in India,” a company press note said here today.

Zafirlukast is a non-steroidal drug that represents a new approach in the management of asthma and belongs to a new class of drugs called leukotriene modifiers, it said. PTI

Indica sales zoom 115 pc in Nov

MUMBAI: Tata Engineering has sold 5,185 ‘Indica’ cars in November, a rise of 115 per cent over sales in the same month last fiscal.

During the eight months of the current fiscal, the cumulative sales of Indica grew by 18 per cent at 38,043 units and the car’s market share grew to 21.6 per cent as against 17.4 per cent during the corresponding period last year, Tata Engineering said in a statement here today.

The company’s passenger car business registered a sale of 7,002 units in November. PTI

Leyland sales dip, exports up

NEW DELHI: Commercial vehicle-maker Ashok Leyland today said domestic sales had dropped by 16.7 per cent in November to 1,846 vehicles from 2,218 units sold in the same month last year. The exports, however, rose 27.9 per cent to 206 vehicles.

Overall, Leyland sold 2,052 vehicles, a 13.7 per cent dip over 2,379 units in November, 2000, a company statement said here. This was also an 8 per cent fall from 2,230 vehicles sold in October. PTI
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BIZ BRIEFS

New Zen variant
New Delhi, December 14
A new Zen LXi was launched by Maruti Udyog Ltd here today. The new steering is safer and provides a better car control compared to ordinary power steering, a company spokesperson said. UNI

Infotech ESOP
Mumbai, December 14
Infotech Enterprises Ltd is to issue 5,75,000 new equity shares, of Rs 10 each, to employees of the company and its subsidiaries in India and abroad under the employee stock option scheme (ESOP). The board today approved a proposal to issue and allot new shares in one or more tranches according to SEBI guidelines, IEL informed the Bombay Stock Exchange today. PTI

Office-bearers
New Delhi, December 14
Lalit Suri, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Hotels Limited, was unanimously elected president of the Hotel Association of India (HAI) at its fifth annual general body meeting held here today. According to a press into issued by the HAI, Priya Paul of the Park Hotels was elected Vice-President of the association. UNI

IDBI branch
New Delhi, December 14
IDBI Bank today opened its 69th branch, the seventh in the capital region, at Mahipalpur. The bank will soon open another branch at Ghaziabad and raise the number of ATMs to 350 by March 31, 2002, from the present 200, a press note by the bank said. UNI

Knitting contest
Ferozepore, December 14
More than 150 students from various schools of Ferozepure, Moga, Zira and Jallalabad participated in the zonal round of the knitting contest organised by Vardhaman Spinning and General Mills here today. The contest was introduced with an objective to generate awareness about the benefits of hand knitting. OC

UTI sells shares
New Delhi, December 14
The UTI has sold 363, 358 equity shares of Hardillia Chemicals to Schenectady (India) Holding Ltd at Rs 20 per share. The sale was worth Rs 72.67 lakh while the equity shares had accounted for 3.3 per cent of the paid up equity capital of Herdillia. UNI

L&T rating
New Delhi, December 14
ICRA has assigned a ‘CR1’ rating to Larsen & Toubro’s construction division. The highest construction rating will be valid for a period of three years, an L&T release said. PTI
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