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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 3

Lord Venkateshwara in Srikrishna ruppam slaying Bakaasura being taken out on Muttyapu Pandiri Vahanam.

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 3

Beautiful floral decorations at Mahadwaram of Lord Venakteswara Temple in Tirumala for Srivari Brahmotsavam.


Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 3




















Lord Venkateshwara in Narasimha Rupam on Simha Vahanam

Syndicate Bank Deploys e-Circular

In an effort to replace its conventional paper based system of disseminating circulars and other sensitive information, Syndicate Bank is deploying Laser Soft Infosystem's e-Circular software across all its office and branch locations.

e-Circular is an intranet based software solution that will allow Syndicate Bank to cut down its paper and stationary related expenses such as printing, dispatch, storage etc by facilitating instant delivery of circulars and other operating guidelines in an electronic form from the bank's head office to all branches, over its Intranet.

In order to communicate regulatory directives or organizational information, large banks often issue directives and circulars to their regional offices and branches. To facilitate this they tend to use huge amount of stationary and incur substantial monetary expenses. Sometimes the figure can run into crores of rupees annually.

"e-Circular has been developed to tackle these very issues and cut down bank's spending considerably. Using e-Circular, banks can not only lessen dispatch/ courier costs but also utilize time in a more efficient manner. Additionally, Bank's head office can receive feedback from end recipients of circulars and create a well-defined workflow for creation and publishing of documents," said B. Suresh Kamath, MD, Laser Soft.

e-Circular also features a special keyword based search mechanism, which can be used to run a comprehensive search of any document/ circular from the past.

"The product has a centralized and n-tier architecture. It's a browser-based product running on a RDBMS and can handle very huge volumes of documents and online user connections," informed Kamath.

The USP of the product is that it does not require any additional IT set up and works seamlessly with bank's already existing Intranet.

e-Circular has already been implemented at several major public sector banks including State Bank of India, Corporation Bank, and United Bank of India.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 2




















Lord Venkateswara in Mohana Krishna Rupam on Chinna Sesha Vahanam.

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 2




















Snapana thirumanjanam being performed to Lord Venakteswara by priests on the evening of second day of Srivari Brahmotsavams.

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 2















Snapana thirumanjanam being performed in Srivari temple.

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 2




















Beautifully decorated balipeetam in the main temple of Lord Venkateswara as part of Brahmotsavam on September 26, 2006.

Onam celebrations at Muscat

MUSCAT — Malayali employees of Zubair Furnishing LLC rolled out their Onam celebrations in a grand manner, recently.
The celebration, which included a sumptuous onasadya (Onam feast), also featured a variety of musical presentations like theyyam, shingarimelam and pulikali.
Company’s executive vice-president Vivek Pai inaugurated the function, while Jayanandan T. P made the welcome speech.
Other programmes included the welcome of King Mahabali, Mohiniyattam, mimics parade, kuchipudi, traditional Onam boat race presentation, Punjabi dance, Manipuri dance, plus a ganamela (song feast).

‘Brand ambassador’ for Mangalore?

MANGALORE: Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) will float advertisements by the end of October inviting entries to name the best personality as ‘brand ambassador’ for Mangalore.

KCCI president John Prasad Menezes told media persons at KCCI hall that the entire Karavali region needs to be marketed in order to give tourism a major fillip along the coastal belt.

“Just as superstar Amitabh Bachhan is brand ambassador of Uttar Pradesh, we will welcome suggestions from public on who should be the ideal ambassador for Mangalore from a panel of personalities,” he informed.

KCCI will also welcome entries suggesting a mascot and a catch phrase, that has a bit of all local popular dialects like
Konkani, Tulu, and Kannada, for Mangalore.

Vice-president Kumble Narasimha Prabhu, Honorary Secretaries Srinivas S Kamath, M Shekhara Pujari and honorary treasurer M Ahmed Bava were also present in the media conference.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 1














Chakrathalvar being immersed in the Srivari Pushkarini.

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 1






Snapana thirumanjanam being performed on Srivari's processional idol of Lord Venakteswara.

Brahmotsavam 2006: Day 1











Lord Venakteswara along with his consorts being taken out in a procession on Golden Tiruchi prior to Dwajarohanam of Srivari Brahmotsavam in Tirumala on September 25, 2006.

Lakshmi Vilas Bank eyes Rs 10000cr biz

Lakshmi Vilas Bank Limited is targeting a total business of Rs 10,000 crore during this fiscal year. The 100-year-old bank, headquartered at Karur, recorded 25.38 per cent growth in its overall performance.
Addressing the media here, R M Nayak, chairman and CEO of the bank, said the bank had garnered a total business of Rs 7,289.20 crore in the beginning of the fiscal, compared with Rs 5,813.64 crore in the previous year.
With the addition of new branches and deployment of networking and other technologies, the bank was hopeful of achieving the target.
The bank will open 20 new branches before the end of this fiscal, in addition to its 332 branches across 10 states and one union territory. It is planning to set up five branches in the South, including one each at Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, at Bheemavaram and Khammam in Andhra Pradesh, and in Bangalore.
During the current year, the bank is targeting a growth of 30-35 per cent, Nayak added.
“In order to augment the capital to meet the expanding business needs, the bank has issued tier II subordinated bonds to the extent of Rs 30 crore. It has already filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) for the rights issue of shares in the ratio of 1:1 with a premium of Rs 40 per equity share of Rs10,” he said.
The networth of the bank is expected to cross Rs 450 crore and the capital adequacy ratio will be above 11 per cent as against the minimum requirement of 9 per cent, he added.
The bank garnered a profit of Rs 12.75 crore in the first quarter of this fiscal, as against Rs 4.30 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Konkani academy programme at Kumble

MANGALORE: The Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy, Mangalore is organising a programme `Mahan Munis Ek Mulakath' at Kumble Church premises on October 8. A press release from H.S. Shivarudrappa, registrar of the academy, here on Monday stated that Stany Crasta, senior Konkani litterateur, from Bela and Babuji Bhat, Dasa Sankeerthan artiste, from Kasargod would be felicitated on the occasion.

The audience too would be given an opportunity to interact with these personalities.

Bazil Vas, priest of Bela Church would be the chief guest on the occasion. M. Jayanth Kini, senior Konkani community leader would be the guest of honour.

Eric Ozario, chairman of the academy would preside over the function.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Birth defect in baby girl corrected

The life of a two-month-old baby girl with multiple birth defects was saved by a team of doctors recently at Manipal North Side Hospital in Malleswaram. The hospital is part of Manipal Health Systems.

The baby was born with one kidney which was further complicated by a birth defect called Pelvic-Uretric Junction Obstruction, causing kidney failure. The infant also had a condition of the windpipe called tracheomalacia and poor lung development and was malnourished.

Tracheomalacia is a condition where the trachea (windpipe) is not formed properly and is like a collapsible tube. Due to this, the child develops noisy breathing and when the child cries, it cannot breathe in air easily and consequently turns blue because of inadequate oxygen.

Anand M., consultant urologist at the hospital, who operated on the child said the procedure followed was pyeloplasty, to remove the pelvic obstruction and make the kidney function again.

The high-risk surgery was conducted by Dr. Anand with a team of paediatricians coordinated by Bhaskar Shenoy and G.K. Praksh, nephrologists.

Now the baby's one kidney is functioning normally and she has gained weight.

Magic relief

Almost two generations of Indians consider Amar Chitra Katha the definitive comic. Superman, Batman and co were aspirational, but very hard to come by. As western comic book heroes grew increasingly neurotic and un-heroic, Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) thrived, drawing from Indian history and mythology.

Of late, there are signs of a second coming of the brand, with a 20% jump over the last three years. It's a lot more visible, especially at large format bookstores. Says R Sriram, ex-CEO, Crossword, “It's the biggest comic in India - much bigger than Diamond. For Crossword, it's the number one by far.”

According to estimates from publisher Padmini Mirchandani, the brand accounts for 30% of the Rs 30-crore indigenous comic market. ACK is now attempting to make itself future-ready, examining more consumer touchpoints.

While 8% to 10% of annual sales happen over the internet, it plans to harness the medium better, making the comics downloadable for a fee. Plans for an animated show are around as well, once marketing and distribution glitches are ironed out.

Yet, at a certain level, the bare fact that copies can actually be bought at all is a minor miracle. ACK is among the few survivors of the great comic holocaust of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when seemingly unassailable brands like Target and Indrajal went belly up.

Close to its 40th year, the series is driven by the vision of founder and editor, Anant Pai. Uncle Pai, as he's popularly known, speaks of the origin of the comic with obvious enthusiasm. While in Delhi in 1967, he found himself amid a crowd gathered around a TV set, watching an inter-college quiz programme.

The teams were stumped by a question on the mother of Lord Ram, but seemed on familiar ground talking about the Gods at Mount Olympus. Later that summer, his nephew and niece made him a family newspaper, a tribute to Pai, a journalist by calling. He recalls, “There was a poem on daffodils in imitation of Wordsworth and a story about a boy called Robert who lived in a village in England and dreamt of going to London.

I felt there was something wrong when an Indian child has such dreams. Unless you accept your past, even if it's unpleasant, you will never be able to adjust to it.” Pai started ACK as we know it today with Krishna, a character Pai had a great personal interest in. Krishna is still the best selling comic, at over 12 lakh copies; a flagship title, that's been translated in several languages.

In the early days, production schedules were based on whether artists could deliver work on time. Due to the lack of a comic culture, Pai hired people from commercial art. Some like Ram Waeerkar from Ratan Batra remained mainstays of ACK.

The first two years were tough and the comic lost Rs 10,000, a substantial sum 30 years ago. But according to Pai, “The Mirchandanis stepped in and took a lot of interest in sales and promotion.” Part of the strategy was to ensure titles were unveiled with fanfare, effectively using the press to spread awareness. Which led ACK to probably be the first comic anywhere in the world to be endorsed by national leaders - Indira Gandhi launched the issue on Sri Ramakrishna; president Giani Zail Singh was roped in for a book on Mahamati Prannath and Rajiv Gandhi released an issue on the history of the Indian National Congress.

Uncle Pai also became a celebrity in his own right, touring the country and organising quiz competitions. He hit on the idea of distributing free copies at these packed venues. There was also extensive lobbying with schools (he got Baldev Mahajan of Kendriya Vidyalaya to issue a circular sanctioning the purchase of ACK), and seminars at which the comic was given props by heads of government bodies; the director of national museums and the archaeological survey of India, for example.

He sought to make it a truly national brand, bringing in heroes from under-represented parts of the country like Lachit Barphukan from Assam. To better capture the feel of a region, he used illustrators from the territory. Souren Roy did most of the art for issues on Durga, and Devender Singh worked on the Sikh gurus. The amount of research that went into each issue was staggering, with Pai quoting all his sources in the introduction.

The brand's glory days came to a close with TV becoming increasingly popular through the latter half of the 1980s. The fact that he vehemently opposed advertising didn't help either. The comic gradually moved to a more premium position on price, opting for a glossier format and clubbing multiple issues into specials and digests.

Today, ACK has 300 titles available at any given point. While favourites like Krishna, Rama and the Jataka tales were never taken out of circulation,other issues are in rotation. The number of new titles has trickled down. One of the most recent was on Kalpana Chawla.

Pai is very excited about an upcoming special issue that chronicles Tulsidas's version of the Ramayana. He explains, "We have to print at least 10,000 copies. Every month we reprint 20 to 25 titles.” There's a demand for many out-of-print comics with concerned groups clamouring for a reissue - Pai insists they assure him of a certain minimum off-take. With interest in the comics being revived, Mirchandani is gunning for a release schedule of an issue a month from March 2007.

ACK intends making up on lost time and is even open to updating some of its titles making the language more snappy and accessible. Mirchandani admits.

“A new dynamic spirit is going to be required. A lot of it is a bit prosaic - the editorial integrity will be maintained but the rendering has to be contemporised.”

ICICI Bank gets into teaching!

India’s second-largest bank, ICICI Bank, would soon be foraying into commercial training of candidates for financial services in partnership with NIIT.

The new venture – Institute of Finance, Banking and Insurance (IFBI) – will offer courses for entry-level professionals in the industry.

K V Kamath, CEO of ICICI Bank, said that there would be an additional demand of six lakh professionals in the banking sector in the next five years.

“The banking industry currently employs nine lakh people and this number is expected to grow to 15 lakh over the next 5 years,” Kamath said.

ICICI to take in all successful candidates of first batch

IFBI will commence admissions in October 2006 and its first offering, a 6-month full-time programme called the Post Graduate Diploma in Banking Operations (PGDBO), would include three months of field training.

The ICICI Bank has offered to recruit all students of this first batch as officers upon successful completion of the programme.

Rajendra Pawar, Chairman of NIIT, stated that they have kept a target of training 1,500 professionals in the current fiscal. “We have kept an introductory fee of Rs 48,000 for the programme,” he said.

The training programmes will be offered from IFBI education centres set up in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Calcutta.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pictures from the subconscious

Shrikrishna C Naik, a young and enthusiastic fine arts graduate, has put up his philosophically loaded abstract paintings at the Myriad Art Gallery, Panaji.

The exhibition titled ‘The Nature And Its Elements’ has about twenty works capturing the nature’s subtle character and various hues of the elements there in.

Shrikrishna’s works exhibit his spiritual interest and the unique individual philosophy he believes in. Having been seen Shrikrishna grow as an artist, from a very close quarter, this writer can safely say that the qualitative movement has consistently steered towards the north.

The pure abstract works displayed here are a far cry from the earlier figurative pictures. With just the pigment, brush and other tools of art, he has successfully articulated the thoughts from the subconscious and deciphered the language of the nature. He has been able to create palpable pictures with apt confluence of the mysteries of the boundless nature, the unfathomable depths of the subconscious mind and the agile motor ability present in him.

Fluid strokes and striking colours bring out the required message. “The super consciousness present in the nature fills the same with mysteries and beautiful wonders which invite the artist in me to explore and interpret the supernatural phenomena with the help of paint and brush” says Shrikrishna.

His spiritual urge and effort to explore bear fruit in the form of enigmatic yet very appealing paintings. He has been fairly successful in capturing the elements of nature in a precise form. They exude the right appeal. The reds, the blues, the greens etc. are diligently used to imply the envisaged concept.

Shrikrishna’s abstracts are best seen to be understood and appreciated.

The exhibition will be open till October 3.

Indian Court Lifts Ban on Colas in Southern State

The controversy erupted in August after a New Delhi environmental group claimed that the beverages sold by the two cola companies in India had traces of pesticides far above safety levels. The study triggered a countrywide uproar, and several Indian states banned the sale of the companies' products in schools, colleges, and hospitals.

The southern state of Kerala took the severest action, slapping a total ban on the manufacture and sale of soft drinks by Coca-Cola and Pepsi on the ground that they were unsafe.

But the state High Court has overturned the ban, calling it "harsh and arbitrary." It said the state government did not have the authority to ban the colas on the basis of a report by an environmental group. The ruling came after the two companies challenged the ban in court.

The judgment is being described as a victory for the drink companies, which have gone on an offensive in recent weeks to argue their products are safe and that they comply with international standards.

Consumer groups say the victory will help restore the companies' images, which took a beating after the environmental group's report.

The head of the Consumer Guidance Society of India, A.R. Shenoy, says the controversy was blown out of proportion in a country that faces more serious issues over food and water contamination.

"It was very much overblown, this was actually a non-issue," he said. "The issue itself is very flimsy, basically I do not think a normal consumer is affected."

The Kerala government says it will appeal the verdict, but the cola giants have welcomed the judgment. Coca-Cola officials say they hope the ruling will prompt other states to reconsider restrictions they imposed. Pepsi says the order validates the company's confidence in the quality of its products.

The judgment is the second piece of good news for the companies in the wake of the controversy. Last month, a government-appointed panel cast doubt on the findings of the environmental group, saying the sampling methods it used lacked a "scientific and statistically valid basis."

The environmental group hit back, saying the government is pandering to multinationals at the cost of public health.

Industry experts say the controversy had cut into the sales of Pepsi and Coca-Cola, which dominate India's soft drink market.

India's metamorphosis to a global hub for gems and jewellery

By Dr. Uday Lal Pai

India, the largest gold jewellery producer in the world, expects to attract foreign direct investment worth US$ 2 billion in this fiscal. India has a positive future in GJ sector that would be driven by increased exports to the US and other markets and growth in domestic consumption.

Gem and jewellery (GJ) sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Indian economy. Availability of skilled manpower, together with liberalized government policies has helped in the continuous growth of this sector, thereby making it a leading foreign exchange earner. India has been on the forefront, making an indelible mark in the global diamond and jewellery market year after year.

GJ exports accounted for 14.81 per cent of the total exports during January-December 2005; Total GJ exports grew to $17 billion from $14.8 billion.

The GJ sector consists of cut and polished diamond, gold jewellery, colored gemstones and silver jewellery sectors.

In the last fiscal 2005-06 (Apr-Mar), India's export of GJ rose to US$ 16.67 billion, a growth of more than 6 percent, the GJ Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said. The GJ sector is likely grow at 20-25% in 2006-07 (Apr-Mar), aided by new opportunities in the diamond segment, says Bakul R. Mehta, chairman of GJEPC, said. The country has the potential to become the next global trading hub of gems and jewellery, he added.

The growth drivers

The forward integration into jewellery manufacturing for export markets by Indian companies, which began in the late 1980s, has now turned the country into the fastest growing jewellery manufacturer in the world. It is not just the growth in exports but an overall development that this industry has attained, spurred by policy changes implemented by various governments over the past decade and even before.

According to data from the precious metal consultancy, GFMS Ltd, India with gold jewellery production of 539 tonnes in the calendar year 2005 was numero uno followed by Italy with 228 tonnes. Third spot went to China with 198 tonne and Turkey was fourth with 197 tonne. If scrap gold is included, India again emerged as No 1.

Recently, the Federazione Nazionale Orafi Gioiellieri Fabbricanti Aderente a Confindustria or Federorafi, which is the federation of Italian jewelers, said India has relegated Italy to second place in gold jewellery production.

Federorafi said India surpassed Italy due to "competitive production costs, better access to global markets due to lower customs tariffs, good product quality and a huge internal market," which they say is not accessible to Italian/European goods due to high tariffs and due to administrative barriers. It said Italy lost out due to high labour costs, absence of trade reciprocity from other countries, towards non Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries (India, China and South America amongst others), high rate of exchange of the euro compared to other currencies and difficulty in checking the distribution of goods.

The expansion of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) through both an increase in the capacity of the existing ones, as well as the setting up of new zones, is rapidly augmenting capacities in this sector. For example, the Seepz SEZ in Andheri in suburban Mumbai, with over 100 modern units and employing 35,000 workers, now has the single largest concentration of jewellery manufacturing facilities in the world.

Domestic market

As India makes rapid progress in the retail arena, the jewellery market is undergoing a gradual metamorphosis from a 'storehouse of value' to a fashion accessory bazaar. Plain gold has now given way to diamonds, platinum and colored gemstones.

Traditionally, Indians bought jewellery only from a 'family jeweler' based on a relationship cultivated over, sometimes, generations. Now, the 'family jeweler' is gradually being replaced by branded jewellery makers.

Currently, some of the world's biggest names in the jewellery and luxury items such as watches and cuff-links are making inquiries to set up shop in India. Multi-national jewellery brands such as Tiffany, Cartier, Zales and Harry Winston are in the process of establishing shops in India following the government's decision to allow foreign direct investment of up to 51 per cent in single brand retail stores. Most of these stores have been sourcing cut and polished diamond and gold items from Indian firms.

A large part of this growth was fuelled by the branded segment, which hurtled northwards at an amazing growth rate of 40 per cent. According to a study by consulting firm McKinsey, the branded jewellery market in India would touch US$ 2.28 billion mark by 2010.

Diamonds have not become cheap. The 'carat' is still as costly as ever. Now as the buying capacity has increased, the marketing is being done aggressively so the customers get attracted," explains a market observer. The country currently has 35 retail jewellery brands.

To monitor the quality of gold and silver jewellery sold in the country, the Government has asked the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to set up 500 surveillance centers across the country. The move comes after tests carried out by Government inspectors found out that the majority of jewellery shops in the country were selling jewellery that were below the prescribed standards.

"The BIS has been asked to set up about 500 surveillance centers all over the country so that no cheating takes place for small investors in gold and silver. These centers would shortly become operational in major metropolis and other cities," the Minister of Company Affairs, P.C. Gupta, said.

Diamond Manufacturing

At present, India is the world's leading diamond cutting and polishing centre. The Indian cut and polished diamond manufacturing industry is expecting a growth of 15 to 20 per cent growth in 2005. The US$ 1.6 billion-strong Indian diamond business is expected to grow at a rate of 20 per cent with diamond industry successfully building confidence in the consumers, experts feel.

"The growth in mini-metros' is encouraging and they are growing at 25 per cent compared to 18 per cent in other metros," stated Prasad Kapre, business director, Diamond Trade Corporation (DTC), an apex body covering the trade. The diamond giants contend that the customers' "walk ins" inquiring about diamonds have increased over past decade.

"We have given confidence to the consumer to walk in and buy diamond," Kapre stated pointing out to the series of diamond campaigns with catchy slogans. Diamond industry, which employs three million people, has also contributed to country's foreign exchange revenue to the tune of USD 14 billion, he said.

From being a leading diamond manufacturing centre, India has rapidly advanced on the path of becoming the global hub for gems and jewellery. And believe it or not, close to 90 per cent of the US$ 22 billion worth industry mostly comprise entrepreneurs with less than US$ 111 million turnover, or SMEs.

If the United States accounts for 50% of the global diamond consumption, India leads the globe in diamond manufacturing with 60% share in value, 85% in volume and 92% share in the number of pieces produced. While these statistics are impressive enough in themselves, it is the scale, breadth and depth of the industry which add the final sparkle to the sector.

Gold Jewellery

According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) India's gold jewellery exports are poised to rise to $6.77 billion by 2010, against its current export size of 3.76 billion. By 2015, Indian gold exports would further accelerate to $10.3 billion, it added.

India will continue to remain the largest consumer of gold, the ASSOCHAM states, while projecting that domestic gold demand is expected to rise to 980.83 tonnes by 2010 and to 1152.64 tonnes by 2015, against the current demand of 800 tonnes.

India will continue to remain the largest consumer of gold while projecting that domestic gold demand is expected to rise to 980.83 tonnes by 2010 and to 1152.64 tonnes by 2015, against the current demand of 800 tonnes. India imported an estimated 443 tonnes of gold during in the first six months of the current fiscal, valued at $5.82 billion. The domestic gold production was estimated at 3.05 tonnes during the financial year 2006, as compared with 3.53 tonnes during 2005.

India as of now estimated to hold nearly 14,000 tonnes of gold, accounting for 9 per cent of the world's cumulative production of around 153,000 tonnes. India's import percentage of gold bars in 2005 stood at 7.4, while the figure up to July 2006 is 6.6, making it one of the largest purchasers of coins and bars for investments, ASSOCHAM states.

Government Initiatives

The government of India (GoI) has been quite supportive of the industry in introducing policies time and again that help boost exports.

The import of gold of 8 carat and above was allowed under the replenishment scheme subject to the import being accompanied by an Assay Certificate specifying the purity, weight and alloy content. Duty free import entitlement of consumables for metals other than gold and platinum at 2 per cent of the FOB value of exports during the previous financial year.

The government also allowed duty free import entitlement of commercial samples at US$ 6,762, duty free re-import entitlement for rejected jewellery at 2 per cent of the FOB value of exports. The cutting and polishing of GJ is treated as manufacturing for the purposes of exemption under Section 10A of the Income Tax Act.

Customs duty on rough diamonds and colored gem stones, semi-processed, half-cut and broken diamonds has been abolished while that on cut & polished diamonds and colored gemstones has been reduced from 15% to 5% by the Government. This step will definitely boost the gems & jewellery market.

In the foreign trade policy for 2004-09 (April-March), commerce minister Kamal Nath had unveiled a string of measures, to develop the sector. The policy removed various hurdles to exports. But there is still enough room for changes and developments that need to fall in place to encourage foreign direct investment in the sector and for mining companies set up operations in India.

The Government has constituted an expert committee to look into the potential of the GJ industry and come up with recommendations to enable the country to become a hub for this sector. "The Indian GJ industry is now set to make a quantum leap forward. The Finance Minister has announced to set up an expert committee to consider the recommendations by the sector which will help India transform into an international GJ trading hub," the GJ Export Promotion Council Chairman Bakul R Mehta said.

In line with the strategy laid out in the latest annual supplement to Foreign Trade Policy to make India the global hub for diamond market, the Department of Commerce has set off a series of initiatives with major diamond producing countries and Russia in particular in recent months.

The future indications

The gems & jewellery (G&J) industry is expected to grow at a rate of 15-20 per cent this year, said Bakul Mehta, chairman, Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council." The industry faced a slowdown last year but this year we are expecting a growth rate of 15-20 per cent'', he said.

"The sector has huge potential. What we want to do is import polished diamonds, process them here (India) and re-export," says. "It's a huge business and we want it to move to India," he said. Currently, diamond-processing activity is concentrated in West Asia and Europe. Indian traders are mainly involved in cutting raw diamonds.

"We are confident of bringing in FDI of $2 billion (in terms of working capital) this year," GJEPC chairman Bakul Mehta said.

The council is also targeting a growth rate of 20-25 per cent in exports during the current year as against the growth rate of 6.32 per cent in last fiscal, he said, adding that a combination of factors like government policies, the new Foreign Trade Policy, the SEZ norms would help achieve us meet this growth rate.

Industry is in a stage of consolidation and the slow off take in the US market due to high interest and high value of gold are the main reasons for the low growth rate this year, Mehta said.

The Gems & Jewellery industry has a target to achieve 65 percent of the international market by 2010. The sharp increase in the exports of GJ during recent years is primarily attributable to pick-up in demand in major markets like the US, Belgium, Israel, and Hong Kong. GJ exports have also benefited from the supportive policy measures of the GoI.

Minister of Company Affairs, P.C. Gupta said that India is on the way to become the global hub for gold. "With the commencement of futures trading in the metal, India is no longer looked as a price taker or price seeker of the gold. With the demand for the precious metal going to over 800 tonnes in recent years according to the estimates of the World Gold Council, there is potential for the country to become a price-setter in the international market," said Gupta.

A study by ICRA says the GJ exports from the country are likely to touch $20 billion by 2007 with buyers from the US and European Union increasing bulk purchases of diamond studded jewellery from India because of its affordability. It said India has achieved a reputation of being world's leading diamond cutting and polishing centre for smaller stones. Now industry leaders are looking to process larger stones to clock greater growth by utilizing modern advanced technologies besides cheap abundant labour.

‘Heart run’ evokes good response

MANGALORE: The ‘Heart Run’ organised by KMC Hospitals in city to spread the message of keeping the heart ‘young’ evoked good response in the city on Sunday.

Citizens from all walks of life participated in the event to spread the message. Doctors from KMC and other hospitals, professionals, executives and government officials, Lions Club members among others participated in the run.

Prior to the run KMC Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dr Sunil Deshpande addressing the gathering at KMC clinic in Bejai said 30 per cent of heart diseases in India were occurring in the age group of 30 to 40 years, which is very alarming.

DK Deputy Commissioner Dr Maheshwara Rao said young people should inculcate the habit of walking to control heart disease and stroke. DK district Superintendent of Police B Dayanand thanked KMC Hospitals for conducting the event. KMC Dean Dr C V Raghuveer was also present.

Later DK Deputy Commissioner Dr Maheshwara Rao flagged of the run. Cardiologists from KMC Dr Padmanabh Kamath, Dr Narayan Bhat and Dr Narashimha Pai lighted the torch and handed it over to Arjun Awardee Vandana Shanbhag.

The participants jogged through KMC Hospital, Lalbagh, M G Road, PVS Circle and Bunts Hostel covering a total distance of 4 kms. Indian Olympian Athlete and Arjuna Award winner Vandana Shanbhag was felicitated by Lions Club President-Mangalore Chapter Kripa Alva

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kandahar apart, the ruckus was avoidable

By M.V. Kamath

A Call To Honour: In Service of Emergent India; Jaswant Singh; Rupa & Co; pp 426, Rs 495.00

“The word ‘Hindutva’ is in reality, an extension of ‘Bharatiya’ rather than any flanking manoeuvre by this often derided ‘Hindu nationalism’ as an anti-Islam or Christianity, etc thought.”

There is something wrong with our media; judging from the hours of airtime and reams of newsprint wasted on whether or not there was a mole in the late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s office as indirectly revealed in Shri Jaswant Singh’s delightful memoirs A Call to Honour, a mountain was made out of a molehill when a more sensible approach would have been to review the book on its own, which surely would have paid rich dividends to the reader.

For it is years since a diplomat, and a former army officer to boot, has written such a classic study of events in India, especially in the last three decades with such fluency and linguistic merit. This is not, by any means, an autobiography, in the strictest sense of the term. When Jaswant Singh describes his work as belonging to a ‘distinct genre’ he is eminently believable, considering that a great deal of the work is devoted to an analysis of event such as Pokhran II and the implosion of nuclear apartheid, the troubled time that India went through in its relations with Pakistan, China and a ‘natural friend’ of doubtful merit, namely the United States of America, that it is truly hard to put it down.

Some of the early sections are lyrical in style and content to the point that Jaswant Singh makes of the desert of Pakistan a paradise on earth. He was born in 1938 and was too young to truly appreciate the trauma of Partition. He and his joint family lived as neighbours with Muslims for years in a long-standing tradition of goodwill that nothing could break.

In his concept of our treacherous neighbour there is then no sense of ill-will. As he says Pakistan may aspire to be ‘a modern extension of the Mughal dynasty’ but it is no more than a gross misreading of historical reality. Pakistan for Jaswant Singh unfortunately is no more than a “rented state” and its cultural links with Central Asia (which India had through centuries) do not make Pakistan “a boundary land”. And what is keeping Pakistan together is “only hostility towards India”. Jaswant Singh has no illusions about India either, whose Independence he says was won “not by any account peaceful” but as a result of “a hasty abandonment of imperial authority by an utterly fatigued Britain, drained by the Second World War” true, even if not very flattering of the Independence struggle non-violently waged by thousands.

Most admirable, however, is his brief, but intensely relevant, references to secularism, which, in India, he insists, “is not and cannot be a separation of the church and the state” considering that in sanatan thought (that is, in a ‘Hindu’ India) “there can be no such thing as an all-embracing, all-powerful church”. As Jaswant Singh sees it, “Religion is an essentially semitic enterprise. “Santana dharma cannot simply discriminate, it is sanatan for all who are on India’s soil and accepts everything whether atheism, non-duality or a self-obliterating faith. Accommodation is not incorporation, which gives India its “all-inclusiveness, the great spread of its spirit”. Adds Singh: “That is what ‘Hindutva’ is and that is why it is so vital that we do not jib at the very thought of it.” Further, he argues: “The word ‘Hindutva’ is in reality, an extension of ‘Bharatiya’ rather than any flanking manoeuvre by this often derided ‘Hindu nationalism’ as an anti-Islam or Christianity, etc thought.” Very well, and clearly stated. And to that he adds: “Hindutva’ has gathered an ‘totally undeserved’ imagery of extremism. This is sad. ‘Hindutva’ in its essence is so profoundly humanist that its reality will remain, it cannot be altered, no matter what the prejudices, the propagated imagery or the wrong practices…There is only one culture in India. It is Indian, thus Hindu or Bharatiya—choose what name you will. But to separate, to discriminate and then, simultaneously, wish to integrate does great injustice to the essence of India.”

Never before has Hindutva been so beautifully and—accurately—defined. As Union Minister of Defence, External Affairs and Finance in the BJP-led NDA Government, Jaswant Singh inevitably trod many paths, handled several issues with panache and was a major player in the release of 166 passengers aboard the Indian Airlines plane, which was hijacked and flown to Kandahar in Afghanistan. It is a traumatic story in itself. But what is so touching is the praise levied on some of the Indian passengers whose “stoic reserve and courage” came for high praise by other passengers.

Jaswant exposes the hypocrisy of the Americans, the deceitfulness of the Pakistan leaders led by Musharraf, especially in the matter of Kargil and the bravery of the Indian soldier who fought in the mountains and drove the Pakistani thugs out. That last he considers “to be the most outstanding demonstration of infantry assaults in mountain warfare anywhere, by any army, at any time.” And he adds: “Long after this conflict was over, when students of military craft from other countries visited the Kargil region, they found it impossible to believe that this simple, unassuming Indian soldier, not always equipped with the most advanced of personal weapons, had sealed these heights, mostly in the dark—so as to avoid direct, aimed fire—and had fought battle after battle, winning each of them and gaining back each of those heights.” Just for this account of the Kargil War and how Musharraf cheated everyone, this book is worth reading.

Jaswant meanders through history; he has utter contempt for the Pakistanis who mutilated and tortured captured Indian soldiers, but what comes through shining is the sophistication with which he faced the double-faced Americans, be it Madeline Albright or Strobe Talbott or the Chinese with whose officials Jaswant had to deal with and the personal reminiscences unencumbered either with pride or bitterness—after all the book is entitled A Call To Honour—makes this an outstanding work of political and diplomatic reminiscences.

To run Jaswant Singh down on the remote issue of a ‘mole’ is not only an unworthy exercise but call for condemnation. He does not reveal much but what he does—as for example, in the instance of Pokhran II—carries the mark of a true statesman and what is more, a gentleman politician.

In the matter of Jaswant Singh what the armed forces lost, India as a whole has gained. Strobe Talbott admitted as much to it, though Jaswant Singh has remained more reticent. Kudos to him. This book should be recommended reading to all—the media included.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

GETIT infomediary starts operations in city

GETIT Infomediary, one of the largest publishers of Yellow Pages in the country, will launch its new edition of yellow pages and corporate pages by March next year.

Announcing the launch of GETIT’s operations from the city, chief general manager (sales) K D Kini said that as many as 60,000 copies of the yellow pages would be made available for domestic and corporate use.

GETIT now has centres at Kozhikode and Kochi. Apart from this, a call-centre and a tele-information centre will be opened at Kochi. Any query related to information regarding contact numbers will be answered at the tele-centre.

Customers can dial 4444444 without adding regional codes to make use of this facility from anywhere in the state. GETIT Infomediary will also bring out a CD Directory which will be distributed free of cost to corporate houses along with the Yellow Pages.

The company is currently publishing Yellow Pages in 32 cities across the country and has more than 75,000 customers.

GETIT is the only elected member from the country at the Asian Directory Publishers Association, Kini said. It has been conferred the Industry Excellence Award by the Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association, USA.

GETIT general manager Srikanth and area manager Antoo P.K. were also present at the news conference.

Pure Indian vegetarian, pure delight at Woodlands

Woodlands Pure Vegetarian South Indian Cuisine opened just over a year ago in a nondescript space in Lauderhill that turns out some of the best Indian food in South Florida.

You don't go for the d├ęcor or ambience. The focus here is on a trio of South Indian favorites: vada, doughnut puffs made from ground urad dal (a skinless, split black lentil); idli, spongy cakes made from steamed rice and ground lentils; and dosas, big, crisp, crepe-like scrolls made from a fermented batter of rice and lentil that's cooked on a huge griddle.

Golden and almost paper-thin, the dosas are stuffed with a mashed potato and onion mixture speckled with black mustard seeds and served with creamy coconut chutney and sambhar, a fairly hot, earthy lentil stew made with drumsticks, a type of bean pod with an asparagus flavor.

Prasad Naik, also known as Mike, is the owner and manager of Woodlands with partner Ragavendr (one name only). Both are from Kundapur, about 25 miles north of the temple town of Udipi in Karnataka State, an area that has spawned a genre of vegetarian restaurants -- independently owned but all named Woodlands -- that are popular throughout India and abroad.

Naik helped manage an uncle's Woodlands restaurant in Mumbai while studying accounting and opened one in Orlando several years ago. Many of his Indian customers came from South Florida, and they convinced him to bring the brand here.

Indians pack the place for the daily buffet lunch and throughout the day for the thali sets, served on round stainless-steel platters with a mound of rice in the center, surrounded by little metal bowls filled with cooling yogurt, hot lemon pickle, sambhar, rassam (a thin, hot-and-sour lentil broth), golden beet poriyal (a dry stir-fry), avial (mixed veggies in coconut milk), paneer makhani (fresh cheese cubes in a rich, smoky, buttery tomato sauce), dal (stewed yellow lentils), and a sweet -- perhaps boondi (chickpea flour droplets glazed in sugar) or gulab jamun (fried milk balls in saffron and rose-scented syrup).

The thali also comes with a big, puffy, fried balloon bread and crisp pappadam (lentil paste wafer). Other sets come with a choice of dosa (sourdough crepe) or uthappam (a rice- and lentil-batter pancake) with any number of toppings, sort of like an Indian pizza. Best is the one with coconut shreds; onion-hot chile and tomato-peas are also good.

House specialties include kancheepurum idli, a Madras-style version of the steamed cakes garnished with cashews, grated carrots and cilantro; Malabar adai, mixed lentil and vegetable pancakes; chole bhatura, puffed balloon bread with stewed chickpeas; and gobi Manchurian, a Chinese-Indian cauliflower dish. Florets are dusted in a cornstarch mixture, deep-fried and cooked in a bright red sauce made from ketchup, ginger-garlic paste and soy sauce with scallions.

Pongol avail is rice and lentils cooked together to make kichuri, served with mixed vegetable and coconut milk stew. You can also feast on flavored rices, from tart lemon rice to sweetish, nutty coconut rice. Wash it down with sweet or salty lassi (whirled yogurt) or falooda -- dessert in a glass, with ice cream, rose syrup, cornstarch noodles and gelatinous basil seeds. Pure bliss.

Place: Woodlands Pure Vegetarian South Indian Cuisine.

Address: 4816 N. University Dr., Lauderhill.

Contact: 954-749-3221.

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily (closed 3-5 p.m. weekdays).

Prices: Vada, dosa and idli $3.75-$7.25; uthappam pancakes $5.75-$6.75; thali platters $11.95-$14.95; flavored rices $5.25.

FYI: Catering available.

Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai's house to be developed into a centre of literature

Finally, the dilapidated house of Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai at Manjeshwar in Kasargod district of Kerala will be developed into a national centre of literature and arts.

The project named "Gilivindu" (named after one of the compilations of Govinda Pai) will come up on 1.80 acres and will be jointly funded by Kerala, Karnataka and the Union Ministry of Culture.

Thanks to the initiative taken by the former Chief Minister and chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission M. Veerappa Moily, "Gilivindu" has been a long cherished dream of the admirers of Govinda Pai.

Much of the work towards the conception of the project started in 2005 when the then Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh extended financial support of Rs. 5 lakh towards the restoration of the house where Govinda Pai lived.

Govinda Pai was born in a Saraswath family and his mother tongue was Konkani. He lived in Kerala where Malayalam is the official language.

He wrote in Kannada and his major works are "Golgotha," "Vaishakhi," "Yesukrista" and "Gauthama Buddha."

His songs and poems, including "Thaye Baare Mogava Thore Kannadigara Matheye" are very popular. Govinda Pai mastered 14 languages.

He was the first to present Kannada plays modelled on the Japanese "Noe" type of plays.

The cultural centre will have all the modern facilities that a national centre for research in culture and literature should have.

For those performing Yakshagana they will be a special make-up room "Bannada Mane" and an indoor theatre "Bhavanika."

The exhibition area will be called "Manollasa." The centre will have a separate facility for performing arts and folklore "Parthisubba- yakshadegula." The library will be known as "Saraswatha."

Other facilities which the centre proposes to have include "Kanthapathra," which is a museum of sorts.

"Nalanda" will be a research facility and the centre for contemporary art and criticism will be called "Samatholana."

Work on the centre will start in November and will be completed in 18 months, according to Mr. Moily.

Union Minister for Culture Ambika Soni has promised Rs. 1 crore towards the centre. NRI associations, individuals and the family members of Govinda Pai would also contribute to the project, he said.

The project secretary B.V. Kakkillaya says though Govinda Pai's works were in Kannada he was one of the poet laureates of Kerala who scaled great heights.

The other poet laureate Narayana Menon Volathod has been already honoured through a learning centre at Thrissur in Kerala.

Kannada University at Hampi, Kannur University and Mangalore University have also promised help for the project.

Mr. Moily is optimistic that such as centre will also come up in the name of another celebrated Kannada writer K. Shivaram Karanth.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Presentation at IAP - By Dr. Sanjay Pai

Consider Amoebiasis in Face of Supposed Tuberculosis or Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Presented at IAP

MONTREAL, CANADA -- September 19, 2006 -- Periodic Acid Schiff (PAS) staining can help differentiate amebiasis from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and tuberculosis.

All three of these conditions can have similar clinical and endoscopic manifestations but appropriate treatment differs dramatically.

"It is absolutely crucial to make the distinction because, for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, you use steroids," said Sanjay Pai, MD, a consultant pathologist and head of Manipal Hospital Diagnostic Services, Bangalore, India.

"If you give steroids to someone with amebiasis, [the colon is] going to perforate, and he's going to die. Alternatively he might be sent in for major surgery -- removing the colon -- whereas the treatment for amebiasis is just metronidazole for about a week or so," Dr. Pai said during his poster presentation on September 18th at the 26th International Congress of the International Academy of Pathology (IAP).

Over a 3-year period, Dr. Pai identified 9 individuals with amebiasis whose endoscopic evaluations were considered suggestive of IBD or tuberculosis. Chief symptoms included diarrhea, blood in the stools, and rectal bleeding. Endoscopic evaluation revealed multiple deep ulcers with normal intervening mucosa.

"We have patients with endoscopic appearances that look just like inflammatory bowel disease," he said. "Because tuberculosis is extremely common in India, when the endoscopist sees this, he says, 'tuberculosis or inflammatory bowel disease.'"

The presence of trophozoites of entamoeba histolytica in the exudate was the only pathological feature that differentiated amebiasis from IBD or tuberculosis. These were only clearly visible using PAS staining, however. "You do a PAS and even a blind man can see this," said Dr. Pai. "It stands out."

Based on these findings, Dr. Pai says he has learned that, "when an endoscopist sends you a colonic biopsy and says I'm looking at tuberculosis or IBD, maybe there's a third differential."

While amebiasis is rare in Western countries, it occurs in the developing world, including South America, Africa, and large parts of Southeast Asia. With increased global travel, however, this could be a relevant diagnosis even in Westerners, particularly frequent travelers.

Global MBA, but at a cost always

Getting a management degree on foreign soil may not be a very attractive option.

Says Vinayak Kamath,director, Geebee educational services, “In the US having a mere academic track-record is no guarantee for an admission into an MBA campus. They expect atleast two to three years of supervisory experience in a company.”
This is because in the west MBA is looked at as a mid-career degree where they hone the business skills which the students have acquired through work experience and other factors.
However, if a student was to still get an admission into one of the universities, life after that could be full of uncertainties. “Most of them end up getting start up jobs,” says Kamath.
This is because large and established companies do not appreciate an MBA degree which was acquired without a pre-qualification experience.
That’s because the message such universities are sending is that they are unable to attract quality students from all nationalities and therefore has to rely on Indian students for its sustenance.
Such MBA degrees do not get any weightage from employers even in the home country. Kamath says that doing an external campus programme, whereby the university in Asia has an affiliation with a US university, is also not an acceptable idea.
“Getting a degree from such universities also does not give an added weightage to the students in the employment market,” he says.

"Save Money!"UK Datacentre Networking Group addresses some of the ‘how to' aspects of datacentre efficiency

Over 130 datacentre professionals converged upon London’s Chiswell Street Brewery for “Driving Datacentre Energy Efficiency”, the title of the third meeting of the UK Datacentre Networking Group - a joint initiative between datacentre conference specialists DataCenterDynamics and the British Institute for Facilities Management (BIFM). The Group provides a forum for IT, facility and data centre managers to share knowledge and best practice with their peers.

Introducing the event, Mick Dalton, chair of the UK Datacentre Networking Group, set the context; “Energy saving” he said “ is more than a matter of compliance with new UK and EU regulations and saving money, it is also good corporate citizenship”. Commenting on a template for the proposed energy rating of buildings, Dalton warned that the gap between the rated efficiency and operational efficiency could be an obvious metric for some form of carbon taxation in the future.

The UK Datacentre Networking Group was pleased to welcome as its final speaker of the day, Arun Shenoy, director, Intel (UK) Digital Enterprise. Opening with a strong statement regarding the energy waste which is endemic in every layer of network architecture, Shenoy said that inefficiencies will be created if the IT equipment itself is inefficient and that IT manufacturers were equally culpable.
He went on to explain how Intel’s recently introduced CoreTM and multicore technologies have, for the first time, defied the long standing trend in which every improvement in microprocessor power was accompanied by a corresponding and linear increase in electrical power demand. By adding further cores to the chips, Intel had successfully managed to provide both power and efficiency advancements at device level, achieving higher performance at lower clock speed and, therefore lower energy demand.

Shenoy went on to talk about the architecture of the company’s new datacentre which has adopted lessons learned when constructing Intel’s wafer fabrication plants. “A typical Intel factory costs $4 billion,” said Shenoy. “Like datacentres, they’re expensive facilities which are expected to have a long operational life, high integrity, high availability and be in operation 24 x 7. Our datacentre houses 56,000 servers and we wanted to set a benchmark – to be able to cool the highest wattage per square, but without costing the earth.”

“Our 2-storey, vertical flow through, high density datacentre has infrastructure which can cool 500 watts per square foot. It’s at the top end of what can be cooled, but not at the top end of what it costs. What’s more, Intel will shortly be putting the IP for this architecture into the public domain.”

George Rockett, Director, UK Datacentre Networking Group said: “As one of the biggest consumers of utility power, efficiency should be a major concern for facility and business managers. With all sorts of environmental and energy efficiency legislation about to bite, it’s no longer acceptable for us to simply accept that inefficiency inescapable when trying to achieve highly available and highly redundant facilities. We need to take our own steps to regulate energy consumption before we end up regulated. The UK Datacentre Networking Group is glad to have the interest and support of organizations such as the Carbon Trust and Energyfactor in identifying tangible opportunities for savings.”

“Driving Datacentre Energy Efficiency” closed with a Q & A session, followed by networking and refreshments hosted by APC, K8T and Rittal. The UK Datacentre Networking Group will meet again next quarter. To view the presentations or to find out more about the UK Datacentre Networking Group please visit www.datacenterdynamics.com and click on the UK Network Group site navigation bar.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Call for probe into LKB affairs

KOCHI: Former vice-president of the Lord Krishna Bank Employees Union V P Kammath has accused the Reserve Bank of India of having failed in its duty to safeguard the interests of the LKB. He alleged that RBI had supported the activities of the LKB management in the past and it had led to erosion in the base of the private bank. The Joint Parliamentary Committee formed in the aftermath of the securities scam in 1992-93 had found several irregularities in the LKB and had demanded a CBI probe. He said a top official of the private bank who had been suspected of indulging in foul play was elevated and later allowed to resign. The RBI had failed to take appropriate action then, he said.

Dr Vasant Naik passes away

Noted cricket writer, historian and statistician Dr Vasant Naik passed away on September 8 at his home in England. A treasure trove of cricketing anecdotes and information, he was 82.

Besides writing a number of articles in newspapers and magazines, he penned over 35 books on cricket and other subjects, in English and Marathi, including History of World Cricket.

He was a close friend of legendary Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare and co-authored all his eminently readable books -- My Story, Cricket Replayed and A Long Innings.

Apart from Hazare, he was also very close to many former Indian cricketers, particularly those from Mumbai, including Vijay Merchant.

He was founder member of the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Scorers of India (ACSSI) and also its first honorary secretary. He was instrumental in giving the body its form and assisted in its early development.

It was he who broke the news of the world record 664-run partnership between Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli in the prestigious inter-school Harris Shield cricket tournament, in Mumbai, way back in 1987-88. It remains the highest stand for any wicket in any class of world cricket and has found a special mention in the Wisden Cricketers' Almanac and Guinness Book of World Records.

Although an industrial physician by profession, his first love, nay passion, was the willow game. He was always meticulous in whatever he did, as a cricket writer, historian and statistician. He migrated to England in 1996. He leaves behind his wife, Indumati, and two sons, all of whom are settled in England.

Konkani mahotsava at Balehonnur

MANGALORE: The Konkani Publicity Committee of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy, Mangalore, in association with Konkani Yuva Awaz, is organising the first Hassan and Chikmagalur district-level Konkani mahotsava at the community hall at Balehonnur in Chikmagalur district on Sunday. Ronald Colaco, entrepreneur from Bangalore, will be the chief guest at the inaugural function.

A press release issued by H.S. Shivarudrappa, registrar of the academy, here on Wednesday, said the main aim of organising such festivals was to preserve culture, literature, arts and folklore. It was also aimed at restoring the language in areas where it was gradually being sidelined.

Pride

The academy wanted to restore a sense of pride among the Konkani community, a press release said.

Members of Mandd Sobhann, a leading Konkani cultural troupe here, headed by Eric Ozario who is also the president of the academy, would perform `Konkani Darshan' on the occasion.

M. Aloysius D'Souza, priest of Balehonnur Church; Pratap Nayak, linguist from Goa; Edward Nazareth, secretary of the committee; and members of the academy would participate, the press release said.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Senior journalist Umesh Mahambre passes away

Noted journalist and chief reporter of ‘The Navhind Times’, Umesh Mahambre, expired today morning in Mumbai following a cardiac arrest. He was 49.

Mahambre, who was also the president of Goa Union of Journalists, was ailing for some time and was taken to Mumbai for treatment, where he breathed his last today. He is survived by his wife, Ms Tanuja.

He joined ‘The Navhind Times’ in 1986 as sub-editor and went on to rise to the post of chief reporter.

His body will be cremated tomorrow at St Inez crematorium. The funeral will leave at 4 p.m, from his residence at Government Quarters, St Inez. Mahambre was associated with various social and cultural organisations and was a regular contributor to All India Radio and Doordarshan. He was also a dramatist.

The death of Mahambre has been condoled by the Chief Minister, Mr Pratapsingh Rane. In his message Mr Rane has said that Mahambre was an active, sincere and dedicated journalist, who did not lose his temper.

Further in his condolence message, the Chief Minister stated that nobody expected him to depart so soon. He also offered condolences to Mahambre’s wife, Ms Tanuja.

The leader of opposition, Mr Manohar Parrikar, has expressed grief over the untimely death of Mahambre. In his condolence message, Mr Parrikar has said that he was an unbiased journalist and that he was not only a journalist, but a good friend of people.

Mr Shantaram Naik has expressed his shock at the sad demise of Mahambre. In a statement sent from New Delhi, Mr Naik has said that Mahambre was a sincere and hard working journalist and was quite interested in developmental, as also, art and culture based stories apart from the normal political news.

The state Chief Secretary, Mr J P Singh has also condoled the death of Mahambre. In his message Mr Singh stated that Mahambre had all qualities required for a journalist and that he served his profession with dedication and professed avocation fearlessly with unbiased attitude in reporting the facts.

Mr G R Singbal, a senior journalist, has said that he was sad to hear that Mahambre died at such young age. He described him as an endearing person who was always playful and a nice human being, who made friends with all those in whose contact he came. He also said that all his friends will miss him.

Another senior journalist, Mr Jagadish Wagh has said that Mahambre’s death was a personal loss for him. He went on to add that he not only was an activist in journalist field but also on Konkani stage front (especially children’s theatre). I never imagined that he would pass away so soon.

Mr Gurudas Sawal, another senior journalist and former president of GUJ, has said that it is very sad to hear that Umesh was no longer alive. “He was like my younger brother and possessed forgiving nature which was liked by all,” he said.

Other leaders like, the Education Minister, Mr Luizinho Faleiro, the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Ravi Naik, the state Bharatiya Janata Party president, Mr Rajendra Arlekar, have also condoled his death. Mr Naik had visited Mahambre in the hospital in Mumbai last week, where he was undergoing treatment.

The GUJ has condoled the death of its president at an emergency meeting of its executive committee. The GUJ members expressed shock and sadness at the untimely death of Mahambre.

The death of Mahambre has also been condoled by Dr Sushrut A Martins, national convenor of Vision India, All India Trade Union Congress, Dr Purnanand Chari, president of Konkani Bhasha Mandal, Sports Journalists Association of Goa, South Goa Journalists Association, Mr Gurunath Pai, public relations officer of defence ministry and Goa Hitrakhan Manch and other social and cultural organisations.

Google to recruit MSU students

Coming days will bring a plethora of job opportunities for students at the M S University.

If Infosys BPO has decided to recruit campus ambassadors from arts, science and commerce streams, Google India will also come for headhunting at MSU's Faculty of Technology and Engineering.

It is for the first time that Google India, popularly known as 'Dream Company' by technology students, has chosen an institute other than IITs for campus interviews.

The selected students will get the highest salary package ever given to any budding engineers so far.

"It is for the first time that Google has decided to hold campus interviews at places other than IITs," said placement and training officer at the technology and engineering faculty professor K Baba Pai.

Google has chosen two institutes in the state including MSU and Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (SVNIT), Surat. Officials here add that an alumnus of 2000 batch has helped in bringing the opportunity for students here.

Pai said that, so far, the highest salary package at the faculty was offered by UOP India private limited, which had offered Rs 4.2 lakh per annum to three students.

"This time, it will be highest pay package ever offered in the faculty as selected students will get Rs 7.5 lakh per annum during their traineeship and Rs 8 lakh per annum after the training period," he said.

As Google has been listed as 'dream company', unlike other companies, all students of computer science engineering department will get an opportunity to appear for the campus interviews.

"We have opened the campus interviews for all top 20 students from the department. Around 18 students from the top 20 already have good job offers with them. But, we have not restricted them from appearing in the campus interviews," he added.

The students will have to appear for a written test and a human resource interview at the faculty.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Improved devices may make better use of sunlight

MOST of the power generated by mankind originates from the sun. It was sunlight that nurtured the early life that became today's oil, gas and coal. It is the solar heating of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans that fuels wave power, wind farms and hydroelectric schemes. But using the sun's energy directly to generate power is rare. Solar cells account for less than 1% of the world's electricity production.

Recent technological improvements, however, may boost this figure. The root of the problem is that most commercial solar cells are made from silicon, and silicon is expensive. Cells can be made from other, cheaper materials, but these are not as efficient as those made from silicon.


The disparity is stark. Commercial silicon cells have efficiencies of 15% to 20%. In the laboratory, some have been made with an efficiency of 30%. The figure for non-traditional cells is far lower. A typical cell based on electrically conductive plastic has an efficiency of just 3% or 4%. What is needed is a way to boost the efficiency of cells made from cheap materials, and three new ways of doing so were unveiled this week in San Francisco, at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Solar cells work by the action of light on electrons. An electron held in a chemical bond in the cell absorbs a photon (a particle of light) and, thus energised, breaks free. Such electrons can move about and, if they all move in the same direction, create an electric current. But they will not all travel in the same direction without a little persuasion. With silicon, this is achieved using a secondary electrical field across the cell. Non-silicon cells usually have a built-in “electrochemical potential” that encourages the electrons to move away from areas where they are concentrated and towards places where they have more breathing space.

A technique, being developed by Prashant Kamat of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and his colleagues, uses that fashionable scientific tool, the carbon nanotube. This is a cylinder composed solely of carbon atoms, and one of its properties is good electrical conductivity. In effect, nanotubes act as wires a few billionths of a metre in diameter.

Dr Kamat and his team covered the surface of an experimental cell made of cadmium sulphide, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide with nanotubes, so that the tubes stuck up from the surface like hairs. The tubes then eased the passage of the liberated electrons from the cell to the electrode that collected them. Using this technique doubled the efficiency of Dr Kamat's cell from 5% to 10% at ultraviolet wavelengths and he reckons it would create similar increases in efficiency in both plastic and dye-based cells.

Such a boost would take novel solar cells closer to becoming a commercial reality. And that would be a very good thing. Production of solar cells has increased by 32% a year, on average, for the past decade and jumped by 45% in 2005. That sounds impressive, but it has been achieved largely by subsidies from the governments of Germany, Japan and California. Only in places unconnected to an electricity grid, such as much of rural Africa and rural Asia, are solar cells truly commercially viable. But if the price were to come down because efficient cells could be made from cheap materials, that could change quickly. The rest of the world would then be able to join the poor of Africa and the rich of California, and generate solar power for itself.