SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Inflation shoots to 7.51 pc
New Delhi, August 6
Delayed monsoons and the resultant increase in prices of food articles and manufactured goods have pushed up the inflation rate significantly pushing it up to a level of 7.51 per cent — the highest in two years.

  Upward march may continue, warn economists

Insurance cos deluged with claims
Losses worth crores feared
Chandigarh, August 6
Tuesday’s monsoon patter has given way to the calculator’s clatter. The deluge has affected the industry and it has turned towards the insurance sector to seek compensation.

Ambani opens site for interaction
New Delhi, August 6
Communication and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran today launched a website of Reliance Industries Vice-Chairman and Rajya Sabha Chairman Anil Ambani.

Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran and Rajya Sabha member and industrialist Anil Ambani during the launch of Anil Ambani’s website at the minister’s chamber in New Delhi on Friday. Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran (R) and Rajya Sabha member and industrialist Anil Ambani during the launch of Anil Ambani’s website at the minister’s chamber in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI photo

Another Birla firm keen on removing Lodha
Kolkata, August 6
Indo-Gulf Fertilisers, an Aditya Birla Group company, has decided to consider removing Lodha & Company as its statutory auditor, an offshoot of the battle between Birlas and Rajendra S. Lodha for the control of M.P. Birla group.

Quota-free textile regime to spin 12 m jobs
New Delhi, August 6
The textile sector is likely to create 12 million employment opportunities, including five million direct jobs, once the quota comes to an end by the end of this year.

Punjab tops in governance
New Delhi, August 6
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today assured the investors that the state government would continue economic reforms in the agriculture and industrial sector with “ due consideration of the impact it will have on different sections of population.”


A model displays a dress created by Malaysia Handicraft during the Malaysia International Textile and Fashion Exhibition 2004 in Kuala Lumpur
A model displays a dress created by Malaysia Handicraft during the Malaysia International Textile and Fashion Exhibition 2004 in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Malaysia’s textile and fashion industry, ranked among the top five export earners for 2003, contributed over 2 per cent to the export of manufactured goods and total export turnover of $2.11 billion (8 billion ringgit) last year. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 

DishTV pans urban India
Chandigarh, August 6
With their own small dish antenna, urban TV viewers can now receive a never-before range of over 100 channels to view without cable operators.

Apollo initiative for farmers
Chandigarh, August 6
Apollo Tyres today announced the launch of exclusive outlets selling the entire range of Apollo tyres called Apollo Pragati Kendras for the farm segment.

Pawan Hans to buy Bell 407
New Delhi, August 6
Pawan Hans has signed an agreement for the purchase of a Bell 407 helicopter costing Rs 8.5 crore.

Tata unveils Turbo truck
New Delhi, August 6
India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer Tata Motors today unveiled its new Turbo truck LPT 909EX in the six-tonne payload segment and said it would introduce the range of new models with Bharat Stage II and III by March next.

TV artiste Gauri Pradhan at the launch of Titan’s wedding watch collection, Nebula, in New Delhi on Friday. TV artiste Gauri Pradhan at the launch of Titan’s wedding watch collection, Nebula, in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI

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Inflation shoots to 7.51 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
Delayed monsoons and the resultant increase in prices of food articles and manufactured goods have pushed up the inflation rate significantly pushing it up to a level of 7.51 per cent — the highest in two years.

The point-to-point wholesale price index (WPI) inflation shot up by one per cent and crossed 7.5 per cent during the week ended July 24 — substantially higher than the level of 4.27 per cent in the same time last year.

Food articles’ prices rose by over one per cent to 185.9 points as prices of vegetables rose by five per cent while that of fruits, jowar, condiments and spices increased by three per cent each.

Even though the prices of eggs fell down by one per cent, prices of milk, ragi, masur, gram, rice, maize and moong increased by one per cent.

The Government, however, sought to allay any fears about inflation rate spiralling to dangerous levels. “With the arrival of monsoon and an appropriate mix of policy, inflation is expected to go down,” Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahiri told newspersons.

The CEA said that rise in the overall price line was essentially because of the statistical carry-over effect, the late monsoons and increased international oil prices.

Market analysts, however, did not agree with the official line of thinking. They said that the rise in retail prices of transport fuel (petrol and diesel) is most likely to have an adverse impact on the price line.

The BJP meanwhile trained its guns on the government holding wrong economic policies of the UPA government.

BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu said the UPA government’s decision to restore the DEPB scheme on steel have given rise to a piquant situation where domestic steel producers are exporting steel adversely affecting the bulk steel consumers in the country. He said the BJP would take up the issue both within and outside the Parliament.
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Upward march may continue, warn economists

Expressing fears of further rise in inflation, which stood at 7.51 per cent, economists today said it could set new records in the short term if unchecked by the Government.

“The erratic monsoon has played havoc on prices of primary articles, especially food items. Rise in fuel prices further escalated the inflation rate,” Mr D K Pant of the National Council for Applied Economic Research, said.

He said the uncertainty over the revival of monsoon and hardening of global oil prices could see inflation march ahead in the coming weeks to touch new highs and the Government has to step in.

“Till the week ended July 24, the inflation has factored in only one fuel price hike. The second price hike is yet to be factored in. So, it is evident inflation will not recede, at least in the short run,” he added.

Citing the whopping 107.1 per cent rise in the index for minerals group, Mr Pant said the market has already discounted the excise duty change on steel and the latest hike could lead to further escalation of inflation in the coming weeks.

Reluctant to project any particular level, Ms Jayati Ghosh of Jawaharlal Nehru University said the Centre’s announcement in tax structures also contributed to the rise in inflation and panic over scanty rains has led to storing and hoarding of foodgrains, resulting in demand-supply mismatch. ICRA Chief Economist Saumitra Chaudhury said it was a cause of worry for the Government. — PTI
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Insurance cos deluged with claims
Losses worth crores feared
Peeyush Agnihotri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Tuesday’s monsoon patter has given way to the calculator’s clatter. The deluge has affected the industry and it has turned towards the insurance sector to seek compensation.

The branch, division and regional offices of the four subsidiaries of the General Insurance Company are busy gathering survey reports, giving estimates, assessing ground realities and drawing up actual losses.

Though it might be a few months before the actual claim report is publicised, senior officials admit that the cumulative industrial loss estimate in the region may run into seven digits or more.

“The insurance sector is a scattered affair now. Besides the four public sector subsidiaries, we have many private players. Losses are pouring in and the final figures are yet to be compiled. However, there is a strong possibility of the losses running into crores of rupees,” says a deputy manager with the technical branch at National Insurance Co Limited

Officials in New India Assurance say that their company estimates may be to the tune of nearly Rs 5 to 6 crore for the region. “Such a flood situation as that arose on Tuesday is covered under the Fire and Allied Policy. The premium and compensation rates for various industries like light engineering, plastics, trading units and shops vary. But the actual amount settled for is much less as usually those who suffer losses report more, either deliberately or out of sheer panic,” says a divisional manager of the company on the condition of anonymity.

Mr G.C. Gaylong, Regional Manager, Oriental Insurance Company Limited, is more forthcoming. “Survey reports are pouring in and an estimated loss of Rs 13 crore or so has been reported from Punjab and Chandigarh, Panchkula included. We are awaiting the final cumulative company’s assessment,” he says.

Sources say that in Ambala alone loss estimates run into a couple of crores.

Mr R.K. Sharma, Regional Manager, United India Insurance Company, says that the estimated figures being Rs 10 crore or more is not ruled out.

“The public sector insurance companies are governed by the IRDA (Insurance Regulatory Development Authority) rules and currently tariff rates are not very high. The government should have a fresh look at the premium to compensation ratio applicable to the industry,” a senior manager from the insurance sector says.
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Ambani opens site for interaction
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
Communication and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran today launched a website of Reliance Industries Vice-Chairman and Rajya Sabha Chairman Anil Ambani.

The website will be in Hindi, English and Urdu and a 24-hour call centre would be working for the interactive message service.

“For too long, our polity has been divided between those who know and those who do not know. This website is a means towards bringing our legislative institutions closer to the people to help build a better-informed India”, Mr Ambani said.

“I hope more Parliamentarians will follow suit and become interactive citizens in the digital age”, the minister said.
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Another Birla firm keen on removing Lodha

Kolkata, August 6
Indo-Gulf Fertilisers, an Aditya Birla Group company, has decided to consider removing Lodha & Company as its statutory auditor, an offshoot of the battle between Birlas and Rajendra S. Lodha for the control of M.P. Birla group.

The board of Indo-Gulf Fertilisers, which met in Mumbai on Thursday, decided to cancel the company’s AGM scheduled to be held on August 10, a company spokesperson said here.

The company in a communication to stock exchanges said the AGM would be held before September 30.

One of the resolutions that were to be considered at the August 10 AGM pertained to the reappointment of Lodha & Co as the statutory auditor of the company.

The spokesperson said the decision to cancel the AGM was taken because the board wanted to a take a view on Lodha & Co’s continuance as statutory auditor of Indo-Gulf Fertilisers in the wake of issues raised over the will of Priyamvada Birla.

The move by Indo-Gulf Fertilisers comes only five days after Lodha & Co was voted out as branch auditor of Hindalco, another Aditya Birla Group company.

The third Aditya Birla Group company that has Lodha & Co as its auditor is Grasim, but its AGM was held before the fight between Birlas and Lodha erupted last month. There are indications that Grasim may convene an extraordinary general meeting to oust Lodha as its auditor.

The Birla family is also planning to petition Calcutta High Court for appointment of an administrator for managing the assets of the M.P. Birla group. — PTI
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Quota-free textile regime to spin 12 m jobs
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
The textile sector is likely to create 12 million employment opportunities, including five million direct jobs, once the quota comes to an end by the end of this year.

The industry is estimating exports in the quota free regime, to surge to $ 40 billion by 2010 from the about $ 12 billion at present. The government has, however, pegged export targets to touch $ 50 billion by that period. It is contemplating to offer a comprehensive package to the industry that would include a tax-free structure for the industry and availability of finance amounting to Rs 1,40,000 crore from financial institutions, as sought by the industry.”

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has already announced tax exemptions amounting Rs 3,800 crore to the textile industry.

Industry representatives claim that Finance Minister has informed them that the government has identified the textile sector as a priority area keeping in view its employment potential and India’s inherent advantage in this sector. The government package is likely to deregulate the industry, especially the export units to reap the economies of scale.

Mr D.K. Nair, secretary-general, Indian Cotton Mills Federation (ICMF), says, “We have released a vision statement document that clearly spells out that over 12 million jobs will be created - five million through direct employment in the textile industry and another seven million jobs in the allied sectors. The industry’s target is to reach $ 85 billion by 2010 from the current size of $ 36 billion, registering a growth rate of 11 per cent annually.”

He claimed that the textile centers of Ludhiana, Amritsar, Panipat and Delhi would create thousands of new job opportunities in readymade garments, home furnishing and other value-added products. In addition, Tirupur in Tamil Nadu and Mumbai region would also create new jobs in this sector.

According to Mr Ravi Mohan, Managing Director, Crisil, a credit rating agency, “The Indian textile sector is certain to get a boost once the quota system is over. Textile exports could touch $ 40 billion by 2010 from $ 11 billion exports in 2002, raising India’s share in the global textile and clothing trade from the current 3 per cent to 6 per cent.”

Mr Nair said with a bumper cotton production likely to cross 170 lakh bales this year from the around 136 lakh bales of yield achieved last year, the textile sector was likely to get a fillip. The farmer would also benefit since the cotton prices are stable in the domestic market after a fall in cotton supply in the international market.

The vision document indicates that India’s current strengths are a strong multi-fibre base, low-cost manpower and presence across the entire value chain of the textile and apparel industry. The ICMF has claimed that though China was “emerging as the largest and fastest growing” textile exporter, yet India would emerge as second runner in the global market after the end of quota regime.”
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Punjab tops in governance
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today assured the investors that the state government would continue economic reforms in the agriculture and industrial sector with “ due consideration of the impact it will have on different sections of population.”

Capt Amarinder Singh was addressing Chief Ministers’ Conclave organised by a leading English news magazine India Today.

Punjab has been ranked as the best-governed state among Indian states on the parameters of investment services, agriculture, consumer market, infrastructure, and budget and prosperity by India Today.

Meanwhile, Kerala has been adjudged second in the overall ranking thereby capturing first position in three categories of health, law and order and education. Himachal Pradesh had been ranked third among 20 major states, and Chandigarh has been ranked first among union territories.

Addressing the gathering, the Punjab CM said: “We are a democracy and there is no way we can ignore the feelings and concerns of any section of our society. We have to proceed by building a consensus on reforms.” 
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DishTV pans urban India
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
With their own small dish antenna, urban TV viewers can now receive a never-before range of over 100 channels to view without cable operators.

DishTV brought direct-to-home television viewing to Indian in October last year. It was an instant hit in rural Indian with its nationwide range.

The DishTV bouquet encapsulates channels from 32 Indian and international broadcasters. They include Turner, ESPN, Star Sports, NDTV, TV Today, India TV, ETV Asianet and Prasar Bharati’s Apna DTH.

The range of content on offer provides a wide range of options on both territorial and interest niche. Viewers from the Hindi heartland, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat are offered distinct packages.

Mr Jawahar Goel, Additional Vice-Chairman, Essel Group, opines: “DishTV has the power to revolutionise India’s TV experience. Our ability to offer a superior solution in rural and semi-rural markets made us stupendously successful.”
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Apollo initiative for farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Apollo Tyres today announced the launch of exclusive outlets selling the entire range of Apollo tyres called Apollo Pragati Kendras for the farm segment.

The first Apollo Pragati Kendra (APK) was inaugurated at Rohtak in Haryana today.

Over the next 12 months, Apollo Tyres will set up 100 APKs in semi-urban and rural locations in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Apollo Tyres Marketing Chief Satish Sharma said, “ For Apollo Tyres, the rural customer is a key stakeholder. Apollo Pragati Kendras are a platform through which we can service its various needs more comprehensively. Our dealers in these kendras will be working with customers to ensure they use the right product for their needs. This is in keeping with our philosophy of jaisi zaroorat waisa tyre.” 
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Pawan Hans to buy Bell 407

New Delhi, August 6
Pawan Hans has signed an agreement for the purchase of a Bell 407 helicopter costing Rs 8.5 crore.

It will be inducted into the fleet by year-end, company’s Chairman and Managing Director Nagar V. Sridhar said.

The state-owned company has three Bell 206 L4 and two Bell 407 helicopters. By September, two new Dauphin AS 365 N3 choppers will be added, enhancing the total fleet strength to 33. — UNI
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Tata unveils Turbo truck

New Delhi, August 6
India’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer Tata Motors today unveiled its new Turbo truck LPT 909EX in the six-tonne payload segment and said it would introduce the range of new models with Bharat Stage II and III by March next.

Priced at Rs 6.26 lakh (ex-showroom Haryana), the LPT 909EX will be available in 3400-mm and 3800-mm wheelbase with strengthened suspension and chassis and the highest gross vehicle weight in the segment.

“We will introduce models with BS II in the next couple of months while the BS III version will be launched by the end of this fiscal,” Tata Motors Vice-President (Sales and Marketing) Shyam Mani told reporters here. — UNI
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BRIEFLY

Now, it is Bajaj Allianz
Chandigarh, August 6
Allianz Bajaj Life Insurance Co. Ltd today announced that it has changed its corporate name to Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Co. Ltd., effective from August 3. The change in company name comes in conjunction with research findings from existing customers, business associates, prospective customers and other stakeholders indicated higher comfort level and ease of recalling Bajaj name first and then Allianz, and hence the name Bajaj Allianz. — TNS

SBI branch
Chandigarh, August 6
The State Bank of India today opened its first specialised personal banking branch in Amritsar. Opened on the core banking solution platform, the branch will provide facilitics like telebanking, Internet banking and ATM. — TNS
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