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India passing through difficult times, GDP to slip to 7 pc: PM

JAIPUR: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the country was passing through difficult times and the economic growth in the current fiscal would be 7 per cent, down from 8.5 per cent a year ago.

"Our country is going through difficult times ... We are up to the task of meeting these challenges we face as a nation", he said while addressing the 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas being attended by over 1,900 overseas Indians.

Despite an adverse international environment, Singh said, "the Indian economy is expected to grow by about 7 per cent this financial year ending March 31." The country recorded a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 8.5 per cent in 2010-11 and was initially estimated to grow by 9 per cent in the current fiscal. The growth rate projection, however, was scaled down gradually by the Reserve Bank as well as the Finance Ministry.

Although Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had yesterday said the growth rate in 2011-12 would be about 7.5 per cent, Singh further lowered the projection to 7 per cent.

The growth rate in the first half of the year slipped to 7.3 per cent from 8.6 per cent in the year ago period.

The Prime Minister, however, exuded the confidence that growth rate in the coming years would go up to 9-10 per cent as the "economic fundamentals are strong and ... constitutional processes are robust".

"...we hope to bring back the rhythm of our growth process to sustain an annual growth rate of 9-10 per cent in the medium-term. Our domestic savings rate which currently stands at 33-35 per cent of our GDP will greatly facilitate the realisation of our growth objectives", he said.

Singh also said that efforts to combat inflation have started yielding results and there has been an improvement in the situation. PTIBack


NRHM scam: ED may register case against Kushwaha

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate may register a money laundering case against former UP Family Welfare Minister Babu Singh Kushwaha after the CBI recently registered a case against him for alleged irregularities in funds allocated to the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

The ED, according to sources, will go through the facts of the First Information Report (FIR) filed against Kushwaha and others by the CBI and register a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and also under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) if the agency finds instances to indicate violations of the either two laws.

The ED FIR is called as the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR).

The former BSP minister is already courting controversy after he was recently inducted into the BJP after being sacked by UP Chief Minister Mayawati.

The CBI has already arrested four people in the case which is being probed by the agency for alleged irregularities in utilisation of about Rs 10,000 crore of Central funds allocated under the NRHM.

The agency had carried out inter-state searches at about 60 locations on January 4, including at the residence of Kushwaha.

The CBI had registered five cases on January 2 against certain government and private sector officials, including one against Kushwaha alleging loss of about Rs 28 crore in implementing the Centrally-sponsored scheme meant for 72 districts of UP.

Kushwaha, a BSP OBC leader of the state, was sacked by Mayawati following his alleged involvement in the multi-crore scam. PTIBack

SC to hear Rajesh Talwar's bail plea tomorrow

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will hear tomorrow the bail plea of dentist Rajesh Talwar who has been asked to face trial along with his wife for allegedly murdering their teenaged daughter Aarushi and domestic help in 2008.

A bench of justices A. K. Ganguly and J. S. Khehar, which had dismissed the couple's plea to quash the criminal proceedings against them, will hear the petition for interim bail in the sensational murder case.

The 14-year-old Aarushi, the only daughter of the Talwars, was found dead with her throat slit at the family's Noida residence on the intervening night of May 15-16, 2008, and the body of domestic help Hemraj was found on the terrace the next day.

The apex court had on January 6 asked the dentist couple to face trial in the murder of Aarushi, a class nine student, and Hemraj.

The Bench had said there was nothing wrong in the Ghaziabad magistrate's order taking cognisance against them and putting them on trial as the trial judge passed the order after applying his mind.

"We feel constrained to observe that the court should exercise utmost restraint before interfering in the magistrate's order," the Bench had said, adding, "The magistrate has applied his mind to come to the conclusion of taking cognisance in the case".

The investigation in the case was initially carried out by the Uttar Pradesh police which had arrested Aarushi's father on May 23, 2008.

The probe was subsequently handed over to the CBI on May 29, 2008, and Rajesh was granted bail by the Ghaziabad court on July 11, 2008.

The CBI after probing the murder for over two-and-half years filed its closure report in the case in the Ghaziabad special CBI court, saying it had been unable to find out any evidence to prosecute the Talwars.

The trial court, however, rejected the CBI closure report, saying there was enough prima facie material in the agency's report to put the couple on trial for their alleged involvement in the twin murders and had issued summons to them to face trial.

The magistrate took cognisance of the case and summoned Talwars on February 9, 2011.

Rajesh and Nupur had subsequently gone to the Allahabad High Court, which had dismissed their pleas to quash the trial court summons and the proceedings initiated against them.

The Talwar couple then approached the apex court which had on March 19 last year stayed the trial against them, but it vacated the stay on Friday. PTIBack



Hazare discharged from hospital

PUNE: Social crusader Anna Hazare was discharged from hospital today and said he would apply his mind to the next phase of the anti-corruption movement started by him on the Lokpal Bill issue after fully recovering from his health problems.

"I am all right now, but still feeling weak. I have to take a break as the doctors have advised rest for some days.

I will think about it (agitation) after I am fully recovered," Hazare told reporters, who asked him about his next move on the Lokpal Bill issue.

In reply to a question about charges of corruption being leveled against the members of his team, Hazare said, "I was not in touch with the outside world for ten days." He refused to answer queries in this regard.

On his proposed tour of the five poll-bound states, he said, he would not be able to undertake travel for the time being as per the doctors' advice.

"It is a long drawn-out battle (against corruption), which I am fighting for the last 25 years. I have to take some rest as per the doctors' advice. After I am fully recovered, I will go out," he added.

Hazare was admitted to Sancheti hospital here on December 31, after he developed acute bronchitis, soon after the fast he undertook in Mumbai on December 27 in support of a strong Lokpal Bill that was debated in Parliament.

According to Dr K. H. Sancheti, Hazare had recovered well, but needed one-month's rest to avoid relapse.

The Gandhian drove straight to Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district after his discharge from hospital.

Earlier this week, Kiran Bedi, Hazare's aide who visited him in the hospital, had made it clear that he would not be undertaking any campaign or fast in view of the medical advice. PTI





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