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Trade policy gives more sops to exporters
New Delhi, April 19
The government today set an ambitious target of increasing its merchandise exports by 28 per cent to $160 billion in 2007-08 as it rolled out sops to exporters by way of removing service tax on exports.
Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath (centre), junior minister for industry Ashwini Kumar (left) and junior minister for commerce Jairam Ramesh at the launch of the annual supplement of foreign trade policy in New Delhi on Thursday
Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath (centre), junior minister for industry Ashwini Kumar (left) and junior minister for commerce Jairam Ramesh at the launch of the annual supplement of foreign trade policy in New Delhi on Thursday. —A Tribune photograph

Industry welcomes policy
New Delhi, April 19
Industry chambers and Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) generally appreciated the announcements made in the annual supplement to the foreign trade policy though there was some dissent on lack of any package for textiles sector, facing the brunt of surging rupee.

FDI touches $16 billion
New Delhi, April 19
Foreign direct investment in the country has grown three-fold to $16 billion in 2006-07, encouraging the government to set an ambitious target of $25 billion for this year.

Nissan unveils Teana

New Delhi, April 19
Japanese auto major Nissan, whose presence in India is limited to SUVs and luxury sedans, today said it would step into the compact and small car market.
Managing director Nissan Motor India Yoshie Motohiro poses with the newly launched Nissan's luxury sedan, Teana, in New Delhi on Thursday.
Managing director Nissan Motor India Yoshie Motohiro poses with the newly launched Nissan's luxury sedan, Teana, in New Delhi on Thursday. —Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal





EARLIER STORIES

 
Bollywood actress Preity Zinta poses at a function after she was appointed brand ambassador of "GoAir", a low-cost private carrier, in Mumbai on Thursday.
Bollywood actress Preity Zinta poses at a function after she was appointed brand ambassador of "GoAir", a low-cost private carrier, in Mumbai on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Biocon eyes Gulf, net up
Bangalore, April 19
Biotech major today reported a 15 per cent increase in its net profit for the financial year 2007 even as it disclosed its turnover for the same period had increased by 25 per cent to Rs 990 crore.

More autonomy for SBI subsidiaries
New Delhi, April 19
The union cabinet today cleared a bill to be introduced in Parliament, seeking to bring the seven subsidiaries of the State Bank of India on par with other nationalised banks.

  • SBI public offer this fiscal

Moderate credit growth, banks told
New Delhi, April 19
The government today asked public sector banks to moderate credit growth, exercise caution while lending to some high-risk sectors like commercial real estate, capital markets and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and open branches in 103 minority-dominated districts to increase credit flow to minorities.

Gold Is Old
GenX prefers gems over jewellery

New Delhi, April 19
Young and old women in India are no longer dipping into their grandmas’ jewellery box to get inspired for buying gold. Platinum, diamonds and rubies for them apparently shine more.

‘Happy Recharge’
Chandigarh, April 19
Bharti Airtel today introduced a range of “0” processing fee prepaid products. Airtel ‘Happy Recharge’ will enable the prepaid customer to get benefit of full talk time, without having to pay any processing fee and thereby increase the talk time by over 140 per cent.

New funds get drab response
Mumbai, April 19
Indian investors gave a muted response to new fund offers (NFOs) in financial year 2006/07 as compared to the previous year, showing their preference for track records over promising ideas, industry experts said. Only 24.77 per cent of the total Rs 931.5 billion mobilised by equity funds flowed into new funds, as against 43.49 per cent in 2005/06, data from Association of Mutual Funds in India showed.

ITC, Taj keen to set up hotels in Assam
Guwahati, April 19
The ITC and Taj Group have evinced interests to set up five star hotels in gateway to the north-east region here and requested the Assam Government for allotment of land.

ICICI-Sangli Bank merger gets nod
Mumbai, April 19
The RBI has approved the merger of Sangli Bank with country’s largest private lender ICICI Bank.

TCS to acquire land in Andhra
Hyderabad, April 19
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the leading IT services organisation, announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh government to acquire 75 acres of land to develop a state-of-the-art development facility near the new international airport in Hyderabad.

 

 

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Trade policy gives more sops to exporters
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
The government today set an ambitious target of increasing its merchandise exports by 28 per cent to $160 billion in 2007-08 as it rolled out sops to exporters by way of removing service tax on exports, giving thrust to incentivising agri exports and agro processing infrastructure, incentivising high technology exports and extending the time period of the DEPB scheme by another year.

  • Sets export target of $160 b in 2007-08
  • Service tax on exports to go
  • More sops for SEZs
  • DEPB scheme extended

Announcing the annual supplement of the foreign trade policy (FTP), commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said the export target of $125 billion during 2006-07 has been met and the government hopes to achieve $160 billion in the current financial year and exports envisaged to rise to $200 billion in 2008-09.

“India’s merchandise exports had almost doubled in three years — from $63.84 billion in 2004 to $125 billion, representing an annual compounded growth of 25 per cent compared to 12.73 per cent in the previous three years,” Nath said adding “Besides merchandise exports, the country also exported services worth $76.10 billion in 2006-07.”

In a big boost to the exporters competitiveness, the government has decided to exempt from service tax services rendered abroad and charged on exports from India and also on services rendered in India and utilised by exporters.

Announcing a series of measures to boost exports of agricultural products from India, he said the scope of Vishesh Krishi and Gram Udyog Yojana (VKGUY) was being expanded to include exports of value-added variants of several agricultural and forest products, including coconut oil, soyabean oil, potato flakes, meals and flours, cardamom, food preparations like soups, sauces, artistic wooden furniture, herbal extracts of forest products, malt and minor forest produce, etc.

A new scheme of incentivising agro-processing has been introduced with status holders being rewarded with duty credit scrips equal to 10 per cent of the value of agricultural exports, provided they use them for duty redemption on imports of cold storage, pack houses, reefer vans.

The government has also extended the popular Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme (DEPB) for exporters till March 2008. A new scheme to replace DEPB would be finalised by then. To enhance competitiveness of Indian exports, Nath announced rebating of customs duty on fuel and the 4 per cent special additional duty for non-cenvatable sectors under the DEPB Scheme.

To encourage SEZ, developers and co-developers of these zones would be covered under duty refund scheme.

Giving a special focus on handloom and handicrafts industry, Nath announced exemption from duty is being granted on the machinery and equipment needed for effluent treatment plants required by handloom and handicraft industries, to enable these sectors to meet environmental and other standards abroad.

To encourage high technology exports, Nath announced a new scheme providing 10 per cent duty-free benefit on incremental exports subject to a ceiling of Rs 15 crore for each firm or company. 

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Industry welcomes policy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
Industry chambers and Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) generally appreciated the announcements made in the annual supplement to the foreign trade policy though there was some dissent on lack of any package for textiles sector, facing the brunt of surging rupee.

“Focus on agriculture and hi-tech exports to cover wider spectrum,” FIEO president Ganesh K Gupta said appreciating the thrust on agro and high-tech exports.

“The concession given to status holders for infrastructure development meant for agro-processing would encourage them to enter this sector for boosting its exports,” Gupta said.

He, however, expressed concern over lack of any package for textiles sector whose share in exports is gradually going down.

PHDCCI welcomed the annual supplement to the FTP, especially some of the announcements like the exemption of exports from service tax, reimbursement of the cost of duty on fuel and interest on delayed payments.

“All these will help exporters in combating to some extent the adverse affect of the recent rupee appreciation,” PHDCCI said in a statement here.

Stating that the FTP announcement was reflective of a “confident India,” CII welcomed the enhanced focus on hi-tech exports and agricultural products.

“The series of measures announced to boost agricultural product exports, especially the value-added variants, is important to promote inclusive growth through exports,” CII president R Seshasayee said, adding agricultural exports would touch the lives of a majority of rural India and this could have a multiplier effect on economic growth.

Assocham president Venugopal N Dhoot appreciated simplification of procedures and particularly exemption from service tax on services and on exports of goods, besides extension of DEPB scheme up to March 2008.

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FDI touches $16 billion

New Delhi, April 19
Foreign direct investment in the country has grown three-fold to $16 billion in 2006-07, encouraging the government to set an ambitious target of $25 billion for this year.

"The FDI in the previous fiscal has touched $16 billion as against $5.5 billion in 2005-06. In the last three years of our government, the increase in FDI has been 725 per cent," commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said while announcing the annual supplement to the foreign trade policy today.

If the reinvested earnings are included in the FDI, the inflows would touch $19 billion in 2006-07, constituting 2.3 per cent of the GDP. This is about 6.8 per cent of the gross capital formation or gross investment in the economy, Nath said.

The directional flow of FDI into manufacturing and export of goods and services is contributing immensely to our export efforts, he said.

"This fiscal, FDI will touch $25 billion, driven primarily by services, telecom manufacturing, auto and auto components," a senior official said.

He said the completion of acquisition of i-flex by Oracle would itself bring in $2.8 billion. The official said Nokia and Foxcon have already announced expansion of their facilities. — PTI

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Nissan unveils Teana

New Delhi, April 19
Japanese auto major Nissan, whose presence in India is limited to SUVs and luxury sedans, today said it would step into the compact and small car market.

The company, which introduced its luxury sedan Teana priced at Rs 20.47 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) today, will be rolling out compact cars from the Chennai facility, set up under a tripartite joint venture with Renault and Mahindra & Mahindra.

“Besides products from the Chennai plant, we are even looking at introducing the small car model, which we will be sourcing from Suzuki,” Nissan Motor India managing director Yoshie Motohiro told reporters here.

She, however, reiterated that in the “second phase of its business in India, marked by the introduction of Teana, the company would be focusing on brand building through its premium offerings.”

“We have two more years before the Chennai plant goes on stream, during this period we are also looking at enhancing portfolio imported through the completely built-up unit route,” she said.

The three companies have envisaged an investment of Rs 4,000 crore spread over seven years at greenfield plant which would have a capacity of 4,00,000 units. — PTI

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Biocon eyes Gulf, net up
Tribune News Sevice

Bangalore, April 19
Biotech major today reported a 15 per cent increase in its net profit for the financial year 2007 even as it disclosed its turnover for the same period had increased by 25 per cent to Rs 990 crore.

As far as the fourth quarter ending March 2007 is concerned, the company saw a 30 per cent increase in revenue to Rs 279 crore as against Rs 215 crore in the corresponding quarter last year. It recorded a profit of Rs 61 crore in the quarter against Rs 49 crore in the same period last year.

The company’s research services and biopharmaceuticals delivered strong growth supported by statin exports to the US market and technology and licensing revenues. It disclosed its drug BIOMAb-EGFRTM had made a successful debut in the Indian market and would shortly commence label expansion trials for non-small cell lung cancer. The drug has also been licensed for the Pakistan market.

The company has also signed a pact with Abu Dhabi’s NMC Group to establish a joint venture to manufacture and market a range of bio-pharmaceuticals for the GCC region (Gulf Cooperation Council). This landmark agreement between the two companies heralds the region's first foray to develop and market life-saving biopharmaceutical products.
Speaking about the result, company CEO Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said: “Our strategy of building global scale in our products and services businesses has delivered robust profits this fiscal year.” She said Biocon and its facilities had created a matrix of capabilities that had earned it a reputation of a preferred partner of global pharma and biotech companies.

On the outlook of the company, Shaw said the company’s investments in research and development as well as the Biocon Park had begun to pay healthy profits. 

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More autonomy for SBI subsidiaries
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
The union cabinet today cleared a bill to be introduced in Parliament, seeking to bring the seven subsidiaries of the State Bank of India on par with other nationalised banks.

The State Bank of India (Bank Laws) Amendment Bill would enhance flexibility and powers of the banks' boards and improving corporate governance. The bill provides for adequate autonomy and independence to the boards of these banks to make regulations with the RBI approval.

The cabinet has approved most of the suggestions given by the Parliamentary committee.

The SBI’s subsidiaries will be allowed to hold board meeting through video conferencing. An officer of the subsidiary bank will also be considered for the post of chairman of the bank which is at present not possible.

The bill would put these arms of the SBI on par with other nationalised banks in terms of private and preferential placement of equity shares. The RBI is currently formulating the policy guidelines for this purpose. The bill also provides for nomination of one director in the board of these banks by the RBI.

SBI's subsidiaries are State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Saurashtra, State Bank of Indore, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today permitted foreign investments of up to $250 million (about Rs 1,050 crore) in projects of DHFL Venture Capital fund.

In a decision that would help bring in $500 million FDI into the country, the government today cleared a proposal of the GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd (GVKPIL) to issue over 78 lakh shares to NRI shareholders of its sister concern GVK Industries Ltd.

The signing of a bilateral investment promotion agreement between India and the Hellenic Republic was also approved to pave the way for increasing investment flow between the two countries. 

SBI public offer this fiscal

The SBI will come out with a follow-on public offer this fiscal to raise funds. "Some time this fiscal," SBI chairman O.P. Bhat told reporters when asked about the timing of the public offer.

Currently, RBI holds 59.73 per cent stake in SBI, which the government intends to purchase toward the close of June. SBI is also planning to curtail its credit growth by about 3 per cent this fiscal following directions from the finance ministry given at a meeting today. — PTI

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Moderate credit growth, banks told
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 19
The government today asked public sector banks to moderate credit growth, exercise caution while lending to some high-risk sectors like commercial real estate, capital markets and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and open branches in 103 minority-dominated districts to increase credit flow to minorities.

While cautioning the banks against raising bulk deposits at high costs, the government also asked them to focus more on extending credit at correct prices to productive sectors and concentrate on increasing current ccount and savings account (CASA) deposits to meet the capital requirement.

Regarding the home loan segment, the government wanted the public sector banks to hold interest rates on loans of up to Rs 10 lakh and remain cautious about lending to commercial real estate sector.

“I have asked them to rebalance portfolios and focus on lending to productive sectors,” finance minister P Chidambaram, who held a meetings with the chief executives of PSU banks and state-run financial institutions, told newspersons here.

Pointing that as part of the 15-point programme of the Prime Minister for the uplift of minorities, he said the government has identified 103 minority-dominated districts in the country and the banks have been asked to open their branches in these districts to ensure adequate flow of credit to the five minority communities in the country.

Chidambaram said the banks have also been asked to enhance their participation in infrastructure financing and asked them to form consortiums to finance 47 key infrastructural projects listed by the government.

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Gold Is Old
GenX prefers gems over jewellery

New Delhi, April 19
Young and old women in India are no longer dipping into their grandmas’ jewellery box to get inspired for buying gold. Platinum, diamonds and rubies for them apparently shine more.

According to legend, Akshya Tritiya, which falls today is an auspicious occasion, especially for Hindus to buy gold, real estate or start a new venture as the belief states that anything initiated or bought on this day brings prosperity.

One thing, which is now synonymous with Akshya Tritiya, are packed jewellery shops, especially those selling gold, which make a killing with overall sales figures running into crores.

But it seems the demand for gold jewellery is now limited only to this auspicious occasion as more and more people now prefer to go in for stones.

According to the latest report released by London-based precious metal consultancy GFMS, India saw a 90 tonne drop in demand for gold jewellery in 2006. The fall in gold demand was not limited just to India. The report states that world jewellery fabrication demand fell 16 per cent to a 15-year low of 2,280 tonnes in 2006.

GFMS report further adds that the demand for gold jewellery worldwide in 2007 is expected to decline further with India been no exception. Fall in demand for gold jewellery is due to fluctuating gold prices.

Added to this is the increased attraction, especially among the youngsters, for stones. — PTI

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‘Happy Recharge’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 19
Bharti Airtel today introduced a range of “0” processing fee prepaid products. Airtel ‘Happy Recharge’ will enable the prepaid customer to get benefit of full talk time, without having to pay any processing fee and thereby increase the talk time by over 140 per cent.

Sanjay Kapoor, president mobile services, Bharti Airtel, said, “As we expand existing markets and enter new ones, happy recharge is a strategic initiative that is aimed to speed up growth, enhance customer value and significantly contribute towards increasing our market and revenue share in the future.” 

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New funds get drab response

Mumbai, April 19
Indian investors gave a muted response to new fund offers (NFOs) in financial year 2006/07 as compared to the previous year, showing their preference for track records over promising ideas, industry experts said. Only 24.77 per cent of the total Rs 931.5 billion mobilised by equity funds flowed into new funds, as against 43.49 per cent in 2005/06, data from Association of Mutual Funds in India showed.

“The mindset of people has changed,” Aditya Agarwal, joint managing director at fund tracking firm ICRA Online Ltd., said. “They are not just looking at fancy names...they are looking at a solid portfolio backed by performance.” Inflows into existing funds jumped 41.9 percent to about Rs 701 billion in FY07 over the previous fiscal, data showed.

Backed by aggressive selling efforts and advertising campaigns, new equity funds saw huge interest from retail investors in 2005/06, which also saw India’s most successful equity NFO, Reliance Equity, collecting nearly Rs 58 billion.

In the midst of a booming equity market, retail investors thought new funds available at 10 rupees per unit were a bargain and saw them as the fastest way to financial success, Dhruva Raj Chatterji, research analyst with fund tracker Lipper, said.

To their surprise, “many of the big-ticket new fund offers of fiscal 05-06 have underperformed in the past one year,” Chatterji said, adding this “may have caused investors to shy away from some of the recent NFOs.” In year to March 30, less than a fifth of the funds launched in 2005/06 delivered a top quartile return, data from Lipper, a Reuters company, showed.

“They were hot for fund houses and distributors but not for investors,” Devendra Nevgi, chief executive officer, Quantum Asset Management Co. Pvt. Ltd., said, adding that many successful NFOs have seen redemptions.

While funds launched in 2005/06 had some fresh ideas or a focussed mandate, the majority of those on offer in 2006/07 had nothing special to lure investors, fund trackers said. “NFOs will definitely attract people if they have something different to offer,” Agarwal of ICRA Online said. “In most of the cases (in 2006/07) that was missing.” Experienced investors, who had seen funds promising the moon but failing to deliver, chose to stay away, Nevgi said. “As investors mature, you can not really lure them with repackaged ideas,” he added.

Adding to the woes of NFOs, the market regulator introduced a rule in April 2006 that restricted open-end funds from amortising issue expenses of up to 6 per cent in a bid to curb generous commissions paid out to distributors who pushed NFOs. This resulted into a slowdown in fund launches. “Most recent equity NFOs in the last fiscal have been three-year, close-ended funds,” Dhruva said. “This could have subdued investors’ interest in them.”

Half of the 34 new funds launched in 2006/07 were close-ended as compared to only four of 54 a year earlier, Lipper data showed. — Reuters

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ITC, Taj keen to set up hotels in Assam
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 19
The ITC and Taj Group have evinced interests to set up five star hotels in gateway to the north-east region here and requested the Assam Government for allotment of land.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has informed that a number of industries from different sectors are in touch with the government for setting up units as an immediate spin-off of the recently held north-east Business Summit in New Delhi.

He informed that his government was considering the ITC and Taj group’s requests for land within greater Guwahati for setting up the hotels.

Gogoi who met top bosses of several industry houses at Kolkata as a follow up to north-east Business Summit in New Delhi, said major concern raised by industry houses was about threats from the ULFA.

“I have told them that PSUs like Oil India Limited, Oil and Natural Gas Commission Limited, the Gas Authority of India Limited, Hindustan Paper Corporation, the Cement Corporation of India, Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Limited and tea companies are making profits in the state despite the ULFA activities. So the situation is not as bad as has been reported,” Gogoi said.

He also said the Assam Government would welcome private-public participation in setting up education institutions in fields of medical sciences and technology besides investments in tourism, power, hospital and hospitality industries.

Regarding problem of land allotment, Gogoi said the government would not object to private companies acquiring land on their own as per the laid down norms.

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ICICI-Sangli Bank merger gets nod

Mumbai, April 19
The RBI has approved the merger of Sangli Bank with country’s largest private lender ICICI Bank.

The RBI has approved the scheme of amalgamation of the banks and it would come into effect from today, ICICI Bank informed the BSE.

Following this, all the branches of Sangli Bank would start operating as ICICI Bank branches from today.

ICICI bank seeks to leverage Sangli Bank’s network of over 190 branches and existing customer and employee base across urban and rural centres in the roll out of its rural and small enterprise banking operations.

As per the scheme, the share exchange ratio was fixed at 100 equity shares of the ICICI Bank for every 925 equity shares of Maharashtra-based Sangli Bank. — PTI 

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TCS to acquire land in Andhra
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, April 19
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the leading IT services organisation, announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh government to acquire 75 acres of land to develop a state-of-the-art development facility near the new international airport in Hyderabad.

TCS will invest up to Rs 400 crore in the facility to create a capacity of 15,000 seats at Adibatla, which is part of Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) promoted Special Economic Zone.

A MoU was signed by the Secretary, Information Technology & Communications Shailendra Kumar Joshi and Hyderabad Regional Head of TCS V Rajanna in the presence of Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy and S Mahalingam, the Chief Financial Officer of TCS.

According to MoU, the AP government will help facilitate acquisition of land, provide

infrastructural support through APIIC and other related agencies as well as provide a single window clearance support for quick implementation of the project. The project will be part of an SEZ and eligible for all requisite incentives as per the state's policy.

TCS currently employs over 5,000 professionals in Hyderabad. 

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BRIEFLY

Cadila acquires Nippon
Mumbai, April 19
Cadila Healthcare has acquired Nippon Universal Pharmaceutical for an undisclosed sum. The Ahmedabad-based group has acquired 100 per cent stake in the company and is looking to jump start its operations in Japan where it has already set up Zydus Pharma Inc to spearhead its foray in the $3 billion generics market, Zydus Cadila informed the BSE. Nippon provides an opportunity for the group to establish itself in Japan’s rapidly evolving generics space. The group has identified a new product development programme that would add new products to their portfolio.— PTI

Indiabulls Fin
Mumbai, April 19
Oberon Ltd, promoted by US-based fund Farallon Capital Management along with some affiliates, has consolidated its stake in Indiabulls Financial to 10.47 per cent, wherein Oberon has 5.90 per cent stake and its affiliates have 4.57 per cent in the post-acquisition capital of the company, as per a regulatory filing by Indiabulls Financial on the Bombay Stock Exchange. — PTI

IPCL merger
Mumbai, April 19
Shareholders and creditors of IPCL have approved the merger of the company with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). At a court-convened meeting on April 14, they approved the merger with RIL, IPCL informed the BSE. RIL holds 47.3 per cent of IPCL’s equity share capital, which it acquired in June 2002 during the government’s disinvestment programme. — PTI

Essel group
New Delhi, April 19
Promoters of Essel group today said they have raised Rs 445 crore to expand its distribution businesses, Dish TV India Ltd and Wire and Wireless Ltd. They have placed 38.4 million shares of Dish TV with well known institutional investors, who are keen on Indian media and entertainment stocks with a long-term perspective, a statement said here today. — UNI

JP Morgan fund
Mumbai, April 19
JP Morgan Asset Management India today announced the launch of its maiden domestic fund, JP Morgan India equity fund. This equity growth scheme aims to generate income and long term capital growth from a diversified portfolio of predominantly equity and related securities including equity derivatives. Open for subscription from April 19 to May 18, units in the fund will be priced at Rs 10 during new fund offer. — UNI 

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