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Poor monsoon to pull down economic growth to 6 pc: Montek

NEW DELHI: Deficient monsoon is likely to pull down the economic growth in the current fiscal to about six per cent, from 6.5 per cent a year ago, the Planning Commission said on Thursday. 

“If we factor in that agriculture which would not be strong … (growth) would be closer to 6 per cent. I don’t think we have sufficiently strong industrial turn around yet,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters in New Delhi. 

In case of 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17), he said the annual average economic growth could be around 8.2 per cent as against the earlier estimate of 9 per cent envisaged in the Approach Paper to the policy document. 

As regards 2012-13, the Reserve Bank has lowered the growth projection from 7.3 per cent to 6.5 per cent in the wake of deficient monsoon and global economic problems. 

On whether special schemes were needed to tide over the drought like situation, Ahluwalia said, “I don’t think you need an incentive. These are all issues that state governments have to tackle. They are usually very keen to take corrective measures“. 

He further said that rural employment guarantee scheme MNREGA can deal with the problem of unemployment in rural areas. 

“The growth rate in agriculture will be lower and that means that certain amount of income and employment stress in rural areas will have to be countered. In that perspective, the existence of the MNREGA scheme provides a kind of automatic stabiliser. If people need work because of the drought, they will get work through MNREGA”, Ahluwalia said. — PTI




15 pc less rains expected this season

NEW DELHI: India’s crucial monsoon is expected to be 15 per cent deficient this season, the weather office said on Friday, the first indication of a drought in three years.

The country has received 20 per cent less rains than normal since the delayed onset of monsoon in June. Till Thursday, the country had received 378.8 mm rainfall against the normal of 471.4 mm. “We expect monsoon to be 15 per cent deficient than the long period average (LPA) which is 89 cm,” Laxman Singh Rathore, Director-General, India Meteorological Department (IMD), told reporters in New Delhi.

A country-wide drought is declared when the monsoon rains are less than 90 per cent of the LPA and at least 20 per cent area of the country experiences deficient showers of 25 per cent or more.

On the impact of failed monsoon on agriculture, Rathore said that paddy cultivation would not be affected but conditions were worrisome for production of coarse cereals.

However, monsoon in August is expected to be normal but a question mark looms over rainfall in September as El Nino conditions (warming of central Pacific Ocean) appear set to turn unfavourable for the country, IMD said in an update to the monsoon forecast. “In August, we are hoping for a better rainfall scenario but there will be some problem in the terminal part of the monsoon,” Rathore said. — PTI




Fight is for changing system, not power: Team Anna

NEW DELHI: Team Anna on Friday said its political alternative will not compromise on corruption, holding their fight is for changing the system and not power. 

“Anna is a hero of people. How long he can remain deaf to the voice of people? He has taken a decision to challenge the political class,” a statement posted on the India Against Corruption website said. 

“Now, Team Anna is ready to enter the battlefield of politics. Now, Team Anna is ready to enter the battleground to take on government. Anna has said that he will not dilute his beliefs. The political alternative that will come up will not compromise on corruption. This fight is not for changing power but changing system,” it said. 

It said political parties continue to say that Hazare and his supporters will not be able to win elections and to counter such claims, it is necessary to talk about political alternative. 

“Team Anna has sounded the bugle to enter the political battlefield and take on political parties. Now people have to take a decision whether the corrupt system will continue to exploit you or support a right alternative,” it said. 

However, a word of caution came from Medha Patkar, a member of Team Anna’s Core Committee who made a single appearance at the Jantar Mantar protest this time. 

“One has to ensure that people who are awakened remained so and one has to think a 100 times before taking a plunge into electoral politics. If he joins politics, then the momentum gained should not be lost. When people with noble intentions join politics, either they don’t last long or they don’t achieve much,” she said. 

Team Anna member Kiran Bedi defended the move, saying Hazare’s call is that he will help identify good and ethical people so that they could make it to politics. 

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said they were taking this step reluctantly but people have been telling them why don’t they work for providing a political alternative. 

Activist Manish Sisodia, whose fast entered 10th day, said, the ball is now in people’s court on how this fight can be taken to Parliament. 

“It will happen by forming a party or with the help of individuals or some other way will emerge. People are sending their suggestions. The bottom line is that this mission needs to be taken to Parliament from streets,” Sisodia said. — PTI




BMW hit-and-run case: SC refuses to enhance Nanda's jail term

NEW DELHI: Sanjeev Nanda, convicted in the BMW hit-and-run case, on Friday got a reprieve from the Supreme Court which refused to enhance the quantum of punishment of two years already undergone by him and directed him to do community service for two years. 

Sanjeev Nanda, grandson of former Naval Chief S.M. Nanda, was ordered by the court to pay a compensation of Rs. 50 lakh to the Centre which will be used for road accident victims. 

The 34-year-old Sanjeev Nanda had mowed down six people, including three policemen, with his BMW in 1999. 

A bench of justices Deepak Verma and K.S. Radhakrishnan partially set aside the Delhi High Court’s order convicting Sanjeev Nanda under lenient provision of 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for rash and negligent driving, but upheld the two year jail term that was awarded to him. 

The Supreme Court, however, convicted him under the stringent provision of 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC, which prescribes maximum punishment of 10 years. 

Flaying Sanjeev Nanda for running away after mowing down six people with his car on January 10, 1999, the bench said his conduct is “highly reprehensible”. 

The Supreme Court directed Sanjeev Nanda to perform community service for two years and also asked him to pay Rs. 50 lakh to the Centre which will be used for compensating victims of road accidents in which erring drivers could not be traced. 




Olympics: Saina Nehwal loses in semis, still in race for bronze

LONDON: India’s ace shuttler Saina Nehwal was beaten in straight games by world number one Yihan Wang in the women’s singles semifinals at the London Olympics here on Friday but remained in the medal hunt as she will be competing in the bronze medal play-off on Saturday. 

Up against the top seeded Chinese, Saina committed too many unforced errors to see her dreams of winning a gold medal crashing after slumping to a 13-21, 13-21 defeat in the semifinal tie which lasted for 42 minutes at the Wembley Arena here. 

The fourth-seeded Indian will next take on the loser of the other semifinal match between Xin Wang and Li Xuerui in the bronze medal play off on Saturday. 

There was very little margin for error for Saina as Yihan was sharper, more accurate and also used her powerful smashes to outwit the Indian here. 

The 22-year-old committed too many unforced errors to lag 6-11 at the interval in the first game. Although Saina tried to come back with the help of some brilliant net play, the Chinese employed some immaculate placements and powerful smashes to lead 1-0. 

In the second game, Saina tried to match her superior rival and did trouble her to enjoy a one-point lead at the break. But the Chinese world champion soon started forcing Saina to commit errors and moved ahead. 

Yihan anticipated the shots and was better prepared and, with Saina hitting wide and long, the Chinese had no problem in cementing her place in the finals. 

This was Yihan’s sixth victory over Saina in as many encounters. — PTI




Vijender moves into quarterfinals

London: Star Indian boxer Vijender Singh inched closer to an unprecedented second successive Olympic medal by entering the middleweight (75kg) quarterfinals with a thrilling one-point triumph over American Terrell Gausha at the ExCel Arena here.

The 26-year-old Indian, a bronze-medallist from the Beijing Olympic Games, is just one win away from being assured of another medal at the big event after he scraped past Gausha with a 16-15 verdict in a thrilling contest of skill and strategy.

"I admit I was very excited but I felt I had the measure of him and just needed to be prudent in the final round to ensure I got through," Vijender said after the bout.

Spurred on by a vociferous crowd which kept chanting 'India, India', Vijender took a slender one-point lead after the first round which ultimately proved decisive.

In the second round, Vijender allowed his opponent to come back a little bit as he let his guard down and though he landed a few punches, it was not enough to give him a clear lead. As a result, the second round ended with a 5-5 scoreline.

Vijender adopted a more attacking strategy in the third and final round but the American was equal to the task as he fended off the punches deftly and counter-attacked fiercely.

As the two boxers waited for the result, the crowd kept cheering for Vijender and a roar erupted in the stadium when he was declared the winner. Back




RSS ex-chief Sudarshan reported missing, traced

MYSORE: Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief KS Sudarshan, who was missing for about five hours after he went for a morning walk in Mysore on Friday, has been traced and is safe, the police said. The over 80-year-old Sudarshan, who was visiting his brother in Mysore, about 130 km from Bangalore, went for a walk around 6 a.m. A police complaint was lodged after he did not return five hours later, a Mysore city police spokesperson told reporters.

"He has been found and is safe," the spokesperson said.

The family of Sudarshan's brother had lodged a complaint, police said, adding efforts were on to trace him.

The RSS had also confirmed that Sudarshan was missing.

Sudarshan went for a walk and did not return, it said in a statement. — Agencies



Former Fiji PM jailed on corruption charges

SUVA: Fiji’s last democratically elected leader Laisenia Qarase has been jailed on corruption charges. Qarase was sentenced on Friday to one year in prison after being found guilty of abusing his office and failing to perform his duties. 

Court documents said the 71-year-old Qarase failed to disclose a private investment interest in three companies that he was helping manage in an official capacity. 

His supporters said the charges were politically motivated. Qarase served six years as Prime Minister before being ousted by Fiji’s current leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, during a 2006 coup.

Bainimarama has made clear his disdain for Qarase. Bainimarama has promised to hold free elections in 2014. Fiji is drafting a new Constitution ahead of the elections, which likely will include provisions to prevent convicted criminals running for office. — PTI



Top LeT militant killed in Handwara

Srinagar: A gunbattle between security forces and militants which was on since Thursday night in Handwara got over on Friday morning. The body of a top LeT commander Hanzullah has been retrieved from the debris of a structure that had caught fire.

Forces are continuing with their search operation for more militants. The encounter took place after the security forces had launched a search operation for militants in the Kupwara district of North Kashmir.

The encounter took place in the Rajwar belt of Handwara, 80kms from Srinagar.

After his three-peat in the Olympic men’s 200m medley, American swimmer Michael Phelps said on Thursday that he was slowly realising that his career was drawing to an end.Back




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