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BUDGET 1999-2000

April 30, 2000

Ahimsa Inc!
US animal-lovers slam Indian leather exporters, squeeze business

India to allow pension funds to invest in capital markets; may abolish BIFR
The government plans to reduce its stake in non-core sector PSUs to 26%.

Food supplies minister rules out rollback of price-hikes
'Reduction in subsidy to the tune of Rs 21 billion would burden a middle class individual to the extent of just Rs 3, the cost of a cup of tea,' Shanta Kumar said.


PM appeals to Corporate India for drought relief: AFP
Vajpayee said that the federal aid package of Rs 9.5 billion offered so far in drought relief for the worst-hit states was not enough to tackle the spreading crisis.

Petroleum giant Reliance pumps in precious water to a parched Jamnagar
RPL has cut down its own water consumption and begun to divert 1.6 million gallons of the priceless liquid daily to the people of Jamnagar.


PESB hunts for top guns to head public sector units
National Thermal Power Corporation and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited are among the several public sector units where top vacancies need to be filled.

Part of Bombay-Pune expressway to be opened on May 1
The 30-kilometre stretch from Kon to Adoshi will open first, the entire project at 2000-end.

Closure-hit Kolar Gold Fields' workers flash an 'SOS' to prime minister
"We request you to bring out the company from the clutches of the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction," they said.

Four scientists to probe pollution angle in Meta Strips case
Local activists demanded a CBI probe to find out if the copper-processing company has commited fraud and irregularities in getting the project approved.

Govt gave wrong figures on fertiliser subsidy, says Pilot
The senior Congress leader alleged that the benefit of the subsidy had gone to fertiliser plants instead of the farmers.

April 29, 2000

Lafarge to buy Raymond's cement division for Rs 7.85 billion
This is the second major acquisition being made by Lafarge in the Indian cement sector, after it acquired TISCO's cement unit in 1999.

Informal Cabinet meet ponders rollback of foodgrains price-hikes
Several other issues concerning direct and indirect taxes were also discussed. The prime minister chaired the meeting in spite of his indisposition.

FM refuses to reveal bank-defaulters' names
"It is paramount that their confidentiality is maintained," said Yashwant Sinha.

Ceiling on FDI in telecom sector to remain
Shyamal Ghosh, the chairman of Telecom Commission, says he does not favour any hike in the foreign direct investment caps on basic and cellular services.


As tax bonanza draws to a close, Delhi-ites race against time to buy cars
Northern Indian states will switch over to a uniform sales tax from May 1. This has triggered a mad rush at automobile showrooms in Delhi, adding to the summer heat.


CII favours sell-off of Maruti Udyog
The Confederation of Indian Industry has also urged the government to allow 40 per cent foreign equity in Air-India and Indian Airlines.

No roll-back in price-hike, says BJP
The government has made no assurances to withdraw the hike in prices of commodities supplied through the public distribution system, reiterated BJP spokesman M Venkaiah Naidu.

Amitabh Bachchan leads list of cine income tax defaulters
Shah Rukh Khan, Jaya Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Kamal Haasan, Sunil Shetty, Mahesh Bhatt, Pooja Bhatt and Sridevi are some of the other defaulters.

'Opening Nathula Pass will boost Sino-Indian ties'
C J Sandrolini, the US Consul General, also said that infrastructure development in eastern India must be speeded up as this region will play a big role in trade development in South-East Asia.

April 28, 2000

Walking the Liquidity Tightrope
The widening of the gap between the short and long term interest rates is a sure indicator of the rise in expected inflation. This is the tightrope that Monetary Policy must walk in the coming months and this is the dominant theme of this year's Credit Policy, says Raghbendra Jha.

Bimal Jalan's policy statement on RBI Web site.
Policy highlights:

  • No fresh changes in bank rate, CRR.
  • Minimum CRR balances requirement cut to 65%.
  • Focus on making debt and money markets efficient.
  • GDP growth put at 6.5-7% for 2000-2001.
  • Inflation rate estimated at 4.5%.
  • Money supply (M3) growth projected at 15%.
  • RBI nod needed for banks entering insurance. More...

  • RBI clears insurance path for banks
  • 'Who's afraid of Net banking?': Jalan
  • RBI keen on giving capital markets a boost
  • RBI pledges cheap credit for ind growth: AFP
  • RBI projects GDP growth of 6.5%-7%.
  • RBI ready for drought-relief work
  • RBI offers little hope of interest rate cuts: AFP
  • Forex reserves rise to $ 38 billion
  • FM says govt borrowing won't pressure int rates
  • Bankers welcome guidelines on insurance forays
  • Monetary and Credit Policy: Full coverage


    Policy drill not a 'non-event' any more
    Bimal Jalan has taken a more conservative view of the emerging economic scenario than Yashwant Sinha's. Owing to drought conditions, there is a risk of GDP growth being lower than the projected 6.5-7%, says R C Murthy.


    US may lift sanctions when Prime Minister Vajpayee visits US in Sept or Oct
    US officials hinted at easing of curbs, saying this would help strengthen bilateral relations that got a boost during President Clinton's visit to India.

    Govt says 'no' to rollback of price hike
    Five major allies of the ruling coalition joined the opposition in demanding a rollback of the price hike which they said would hit the population below the poverty line.

    BJP endorses move to hike foodgrain prices
    M Venkaiah Naidu, the BJP spokesman, said the party will go ahead with the government's decision on hike in prices of goods sold through the public distribution system.

    Postal strike from May 2
    Postal employees have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from May 2 to fight for a salary hike.


    Old Economy tycoon loves his new role, New Economy
    'It's going to be one coalition or the other -- but the political parties have to realise that there is only one Indian economy and too many policy changes can't sustain that. Government matters, and they have to let privatisation happen,' says the new CII president Arun Bharat Ram.

    'India has venture capitalists with no knowledge': angel investor Jagadeesh
    "They have a herd mentality and do not study investment techniques. The approach is blind. One smart guy puts some money in some venture and the rest of the herd follow suit," the Exodus co-founder said.

    April 27, 2000

    SEBI to raise circuit-filter limit to 12%
    About 200 shares, comprising all A-group shares and some in the B1-group, would be brought under the new circuit-filter system.

    Govt agrees to roll back foodgrain price-hikes
    The rollback of wheat and rice price-hikes would be "very marginal" and not what the BJP-led coalition partners had actually demanded, a finance ministry official told

    World Bank okays $ 750-million loans for India
    The bank has approved 3 loans of $ 511 million for Uttar Pradesh and 2 loans of $ 242.6 million for development in Rajasthan.


    Old Economy tycoon loves his new role, New Economy
    'It's going to be one coalition or the other -- but the political parties have to realise that there is only one Indian economy and too many policy changes can't sustain that. Government matters, and they have to let privatisation happen,' says the new CII president Arun Bharat Ram.

    'India has venture capitalists with no knowledge': angel investor Jagadeesh
    "They have a herd mentality and do not study investment techniques. The approach is blind. One smart guy puts some money in some venture and the rest of the herd follow suit," the Exodus co-founder said.


    ADB upbeat about India, predicts 7% growth rate in 2000-2001
    The Asian Development Bank says that political instability and nuclear-related sanctions have failed to adversely affect India's development process.

    India, South Africa keen to boost trade, tourism
    Steps like granting permission to buy duty-free gold from South Africa, allowing pacts between travel agents of the two nations, and facilitating visa issuance are being contemplated.

    Premji makes light of FERA violation case
    Wipro has a strong case, and violations of the foreign exchange law, if any, are only of technical nature and not with respect to the transfer of funds, he said.

    NHAI plans Rs 200-billion tax-free issue of bonds
    The National Highway Authority of India plans to enter the market with long-tenor 9-10% bonds to part-finance its Rs 540-billion highway development project.

    Maruti's pie shrinks, share drops to 62% in 1999-2000
    The figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers reveal that 638,815 passenger cars were sold during the year. Small cars of other manufacturers caught the buyers' attention and this led to a 17.4% fall in Maruti's share.

    'FDI flow has been disappointing'
    The issue on limitations on sectoral caps in foreign direct investment will be taken within a month by the cabinet to enlarge the sources of foreign funding, says N K Singh, secretary, Prime Minister's Office.

    Thiruvananthapuram airport to function round-the-clock
    Travel trade sources say that this will brighten the chances of introducing more international flights and restoration of several flights diverted to other airports.

    'Internet connectivity for all district headquarters in India by Aug 15'
    Ramvilas Paswan, India's Minister for Communications, said that national security would be taken care of while implementing the Net connectivity scheme.

    Jalan re-appointed RBI Governor
    His second two-year term begins on November 22, 2000.

    April 26, 2000

    Raw deal
    Food processing officials resent 'department' status, seek a ministry.

    Enforcement Directorate confirms FERA violation probe into Wipro
    The 10-year-old case involves an amount of over Rs 10 million as the goods imported by the company were in contravention of the prescribed list.

    US-based Janus Funds picks up 5.64% in Reliance Industries for Rs 20 billion
    This represents the largest investment ever made by an FII in the equity of any Indian company through the primary or secondary market route.


    UTI chief forecasts market revival
    "No matter what is happening now, market will look up, considering its strong fundamentals," P S Subramanyam said. "India is well poised to emerge as an economic power."

    Sinha maintains suspense over changes in Finance Bill
    ''If I make any changes in the Finance Bill, I would not be the first or the last finance minister to do so,'' the finance minister told the Confederation of Indian Industry.

    Corporate India gives the cold shoulder to disabled people
    The average percentage of employment of people with disabilities in India's private sector companies is 0.28%, in public sector 0.54%, and in multinationals only 0.05%, reveals a study.

    Swatch's car project in India hits roadblock
    Swatch had earlier said that it was talking with General Motors and Ford for a joint venture for a hybrid car in India, but both the auto giants have denied any negotiations.

    Tea planters to raise private force for self-defence
    Shaken by the audacity of the militant groups in the north-east, planters say that the law and order situation has deteriorated in the region. They have thus decided to fend for themselves.

    Indian corporate earnings signal sustained growth: AFP
    Despite the wild gyrations at the bourses, analysts opine that "the corporate results coming in are great news and show that the economy is in fine shape."

    'Firms with FDI from Mauritius rank highest in exports intensity'
    An analysis by the Reserve Bank of India also says that raw materials, components and capital goods form the major part of imports by the foreign direct investment companies.

    International status for Nedumbaserry airport in Kochi sparks off intense lobbying
    Politicians, travel agents and civilians have launched a drive to ensure that facilities at the Thiruvananthapuram airport, too, are upgraded and that flights are not diverted to the new strip in Kochi.

    April 25, 2000

    Machine as a CEO
    Pursuit of competitiveness brings Corporate India face to face with workers

    Stockmarket analysts foresee a Black Tuesday in April 25
    Infotech experts argued that the situation in India should not be compared with NASDAQ. There are no dot-coms listed in India and the software companies are on a solid footing, they said.

    FEMA to be enforced from May 1
    The Foreign Exchange Management Act will replace FERA from May 1. Its complementary law -- the Money Laundering Act -- is also likely to be passed by Parliament soon.

    Forex violation case: Mallya surrenders passport, told to appear before ED
    The UB group chairman has not explained yet to the Enforcement Directorate the issue of money paid in foreign countries for display of his firms' advertisements.

    'US has no time-frame for lifting sanctions against India'
    Industry minister Murasoli Maran said that India had conveyed to the US during President Bill Clinton's visit that all unilateral sanctions against India should be lifted completely, but the US is yet to respond.


    Digital animation film to bring alive Raj Kapoor, MGR
    For the first time in Indian film industry, the concept of combining legendary virtual artists with famous live ones will be used by the joint venture between Pentamedia Graphics and 3DMaxmedia.

    India can be the Asian hub of entertainment, says Andersen study
    The report prepared by the management consultant also says that the government can earn Rs 2 billion by giving uplinking facilities to private telecasters and leasing a part of its television network.

    London-based Indians set sights on Bollywood: AFP
    B4U, a UK-based company, plans to set up the country's largest movie production and distribution firm. It also has a satellite television channel feeding Hindi movies to Indians in the US, Europe and Middle East.


    Tata Steel sets up India's most modern cold rolling mill
    The 1.2-million tonne plant was built in collaboration with Nippon Steel Corporation and Hitachi Corporation Limited in a record time of 26 months.

    BEL shakes off sanctions woes; company net up 90% at Rs 1.02 billion
    'We no longer depend on US companies for supply of critical components. The curbs proved to be a blessing in disguise,' says company chief V K Koshy.

    Maruti to take over management of children's park
    In its bid to be a good corporate citizen through social work, India's largest car-maker is in talks with the Delhi government to upgrade facilities at the park by investing more funds.

    SBI is ready for unlimited investments to become a hi-tech bank: Vaidya
    The bank may go in for a rights issue to raise Rs 50 billion so that its Capital Adequacy Ratio could be maintained above 12 per cent.

    April 23-24, 2000

    Government defers divestment move on Air-India, seven PSUs
    The aviation ministry has proposed to sell 51 per cent equity stake in the loss-making national carrier to a strategic partner.

    Diet eggs launched in Bangalore, to be sold across subcontinent soon: AFP
    Kool Kombestibles has invested Rs 100 million in marketing the health product. It was "designed" by Jeong Sim, professor of poultry nutrition and product technology, the University of Alberta in Canada.

    April 22, 2000

    Private companies to be allowed in aviation sub-sectors
    The government is planning to set up an autonomous civil aviation authority that would subsume the present Directorate General of Civil Aviation and provide the necessary regulatory framework.

    Patwa decries plan to allow cooperatives to float companies
    The main objective of the cooperatives is distribution of the common good for the welfare of all its members while profit is the sole motive of companies, India's agriculture minister said.

    New govt dept to offer conveniences for NRIs
    This, the government believes, would help boost Non Resident Indians' investments in India.

    Taskforce toes Cabinet line, vetoes foreign airline equity in domestic sector
    The prime minister's taskforce on infrastructure had earlier recommended equity participation by foreign airlines in the domestic aviation companies.

    April 21, 2000

    The Rise and Fall of FDI
    Tardy pace of reforms, poor infrastructure, unclear policies lead to dipping levels of foreign direct investment.

    Taskforce toes Cabinet line, vetoes foreign airlines' equity in domestic sector
    The prime minister's taskforce on infrastructure had earlier recommended equity participation by foreign airlines in the domestic aviation companies.

    Hindustan Lever to sell 'instant' chappatis; company mulls buyback of shares
    The fast moving consumer goods major is currently test marketing the product targetted at working women. HLL also plans to change its articles of association to include an enabling clause for buy-back.


    Two million kids employed in India's deadly tobacco industry
    The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research report reveals that these children work in appalling conditions and suffer from tuberculosis, asthma, and other disorders.

    Animal rights group forces US retailers to stop using Indian leather: AFP
    Protests by actress Pamela Anderson Lee, rock star Chrissie Hynde and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals activists led to Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic agreeing to lay off Indian leather.


    India's law-makers express concern over stock market slide
    The Left parties pulled up the government saying that its 'short-sighted fiscal policy' had led to the severe fluctuations on the bourses.

    India scouts for foreign Web security technology: AFP
    "If there are advanced technologies available with some countries to prevent hacking, we will approach them," said Pramod Mahajan, India's Information Technology Minister.

    April 20, 2000

    India, UK to set up 200 joint ventures
    The alliances will be in the small and medium scale sectors. The two nations also set a 5-billion pound target for bilateral trade over the next two years.

    Panel to discuss Air-India divestment on April 20
    Industry associations have urged the Cabinet Committee on Divestment to cap foreign equity in the airline at 25 per cent.

    UTV Toons signs $ 65 million animation deal with Universal Studios's arm
    UTV chairman Ronnie Screwvala said the deal will put India on the global animation map. The company is also finalising public issue of its equity shares.

    Rupee hovers near psychological barrier of 43.70, closes at 43.65 to $
    In the early deals, the Indian currency slipped to 43.6675, following heavy dollar buying by the State Bank of India.


    Reflex action
    The crashing US markets may eventually lead to a global meltdown, says Devangshu Datta.


    Reliance, Hong Kong utility to set up India's largest private power project
    The coal-based power station, to be built at Hirma in Orissa, will generate 3,960 megawatts of electricity. Reliance and Southern Energy Asia-Pacific Limited will hold equal stakes in the venture.

    Sinha urges Commonwealth to adopt common approach to trade matters
    'If we don't take the common path today, the process of pushing economic reforms through liberalisation will be in jeopardy,' India's finance minister said.

    'A few mega firms may end up controlling global markets'
    UNCTAD official Philippe Brusick says that with consolidation taking place in all sectors, world monopolies would be created, harming the interests of many nations.

    India's gems, jewellery exports up 30%
    At Rs 346.49 billion during 1999-2000, this is the highest-ever export level achieved by the country. The target for the next year has now been pegged at Rs 368.80 billion.


    Opposition expresses concern over price-rise

    April 19, 2000

    An interview with Raman Sidhu, director, HSBC Securities

    Reliance Industries 1999-2000 net profit up 41 pc to Rs 24 billion
    RIL's sales were up 40 per cent to Rs 203 billion. Annual sales and net profit are the highest ever for any Indian corporate.

    World Bank funding to India to begin soon, says Sinha
    Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said that he was happy with the World Bank's reassurance and called the cutting off of funds 'unfortunate'. He also said he did not have talks on lifting of sanctions with US officials.


    How banks are always the willing suckers
    'It is the honest taxpayer who pays the price, as bankers responsible for bad loans simply retire and go away, industrialists hide behind weak recovery laws and the government repeatedly bails out banks,' says Sucheta Dalal.


    Narayanan, Chirac talks to help boost trade ties
    The two agreed on a stronger trade alliance between India and France. The French President also said that France will support India for a UN Security Council seat, but hoped that India would sign the global N-test ban treaty.

    India, UK launch new bilateral trade initiative: AFP
    The move is aimed at enhancing ties in trade, science and technology, energy, infrastructure and global co-operation.

    Finance Bill to be tabled on May 3, 4
    With the opposition parties assuring the safe passage of the bill, the government has rescheduled its agenda.

    Tata Tea to launch Tetley brands in Indian market soon
    The tea major has drawn up production and marketing strategies to strengthen its presence in the packaged tea market.

    BSE aims to double turnover, expand trading network
    BSE president Anand Rathi said that the government should relax new issue norms for all sectors in line with the relaxation given to the infotech sector.


    Left parties stage walkout over oil price hike
    The Rashtriya Janata Dal, too, said that subsidy cuts would badly hit the poor. The Congress and other parties, however, did not join in the protest.

    April 17-18, 2000

    Wealth from health
    Indian medicinal systems could mean big business in global markets.

    Panic selling, NASDAQ plunge drag Sensex down 5.4 per cent
    The Nifty, too, lost 75 points, on a day when software scrips were the worst hit. However, despite the huge fall, analysts say that the Indian infotech industry will survive as virtually no dot-com is listed on the Indian markets.

    India must study Britain's privatisation model, says Cook
    'Privatisation process in Britain was not an easy one. Some of the changes involved short-term social costs, including job losses,' England's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in New Delhi.


    'The Plan panel must stop just allocating funds and get involved in thought process as well'
    'There are people who still can't get one square meal a day. And we talk about globalisation and liberalisation. Till such time as their condition improves, subsidies must continue,' says
    K Yerrannaidu, leader of the Telugu Desam Party in Parliament.


    A case for the defence
    The PMO stoutly defends the Sakhya Vahini project and those behind it, terming the charges against it as 'unfounded'.


    Sonia leads Oppn walk-out over price-rise
    The Opposition wanted to move an adjournment motion over the issue, but Speaker Balayogi did not give his consent.

    Opposition promises stormy debates
    The Opposition is determined to grill the government on price rise, reduction in subsidies on LPG, kerosene and 'weakening' of the public distribution system.

    India can export petrol, diesel now: Ram Naik
    The petroleum refining capacity has increased by 43.40 million tonnes in 1999-2000 to 112.54 million tonnes. This would not only meet the domestic demand but facilitate exports.


    Daewoo's Matiz enters Guinness for fuel efficiency
    The small car covered 32.01 kilometres on a litre of petrol in Australia. Daewoo has decided against launching its multi-utility vehicles in India.

    Rising oil prices may hit growth rates in South Asia
    Developing countries are vulnerable to demand, supply shocks and this could hit the poor nations adversely, says James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank.

    April 16, 2000

    Sinha forecasts 6% GDP growth in 00-01
    'GDP growth will be better because the winter crop will put in a better performance,' the finance minister told the intelligentsia in New York.

    India, France to exchange ratification documents
    The documents pertain to the Indo-French Bilateral Protection of Investments Agreement signed three years ago. The exchange is expected to boost economic relations.

    A security threat
    The US could use Sankhya Vahini to intercept India's strategic and scientific secrets, say critics.

    April 15, 2000

    Corporates offer hi-tech health to Andhra's villages

    Orissa inching towards privatisation of 14 public sector units
    'The state government is not willing to waste its funds to run loss-making PSUs, keeping in view its own financial health,' said Public Enterprises Minister Bed Prakash Agarwal.

    Tata Engineering to upgrade Indica by April-end
    Two new petrol-driven variants powered by a multi-point fuel injection engine are in the pipeline. The company is also studying the feasibility of introducing a mid-size offering on the Indica platform.


    Denial of service
    The RSS and others feel that Vajpayee should shelve Sankhya Vahini, the superfast data network backed by CMU. George Iype investigates the matter.

    A century of progress
    Material prosperity has increased by more in the past 100 years than in all of the rest of human history. Can this staggering rate of advance continue? The Economist finds out.

    April 14, 2000

    Geo-political issues set to dominate proposed gas pipeline from Iran to India

    Hyderabad, Goa, Ahmedabad airports to be designated 'international airports'
    The government took this decision on the recommendations of the task force on infrastructure. The Amritsar, Guwahati and Cochin airports too would get similar status.

    Government cuts palmolein prices, lifts curbs on onion exports
    The cabinet committee on prices also announced the continuation of rubber procurement by the State Trading Corporation.


    Enron, Reliance offer to set up digital networks in Andhra Pradesh
    N Chandrababu Naidu, the state chief minister, said that a few global firms too were vying for the project. He also said that the state plans to set up its own portal soon.

    Domestic tea sector cries foul over India's move to allow duty-free imports
    Tea industry associations feel that Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will gain unfair benefits from this move, especially because a reciprocal advantage has been denied to the Indian industry.

    Include trade in development agenda, says World Bank chief
    World Bank president James Wolfensohn has advocated the move to ensure comprehensive quota-free, market access for developing countries. The Bank has also called for a bigger fight against poverty.

    Cadila develops Penegra, India's answer to Viagra
    After getting the government's nod, the pharma major is all set to begin clinical trials on its anti-impotency drug.

    Zee Telefilms to be listed on NYSE
    The media and entertainment giant will be the third Indian company after ICICI and ICICI Bank to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

    April 13, 2000

    Caught and Bowled!

    Assam's terrorised tea estates prefer to buy peace
    Lack of adequate protection by police and pressure from alarmed executives have made tea companies pay huge ransoms to militants in a bid to escape retribution.

    Cost of 'declared holidays' in India spirals up to Rs 27 billion!
    Indian exporters will lose Rs 12 billion this month. For the entire year, there are as many as 99 holidays including Sundays and non-working Saturdays. In advanced countries, work continues non-stop even during the night.

    IMF moots vital steps to help India sustain 6.75% growth rate
    The International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook, spells out the measures necessary to maintain India's 6.75% growth rate and make a dent on poverty which remains very high.


    Maruti sees net profit dropping by 40% for 2 years
    The projected fall has been attributed to high interest burden and depreciation on heavy investments for introduction of new models.

    India, Australia plan infotech alliance: AFP
    The India-Australia Ministerial Council has released a study on possible links between the two nations for electronic commerce and computer software.

    India goes dotty over dot-coms: AFP
    Almost 500 Internet-related start-ups were unveiled in 1999. "Now more than two dot-com firms are being launched daily," says Dewang Mehta, chief of the National Association of Software and Service Companies.

    Impose import duty on milk powder, edible oil, save Indian units, urges dairy don Kurien
    'Advanced dairying nations want to impose new non-tariff barriers on exporters of buffalo milk products,' he said.


    Will the bull market continue?
    The bull market may remain alive for some time, but this could also be the last uptrend before the bourses crsh, says Devangshu Datta.

    April 12, 2000

    Sunil Shetty hops on to market-savvy Bollywood bandwagon


    Infosys Technologies, Satyam Computer post impressive profits
    Both the software giants matched market expectations. But NASDAQ's plunge on Monday has cast its shadow on the Indian bourses on Tuesday.

    India clears Rs 5-billion worth foreign direct investment
    Proposals of Monsato Chemicals, HSBC Securities, JP Morgan Securities, Citibank Overseas Investment, and Computer Associates get nod.

    Garments worth Rs 2 billion pile up at Delhi airport
    Nearly 2,000 tonnes of readymade garments for exports are choked up at the New Delhi airport. Exporters meanwhile are cying foul as international airlines have hiked rates to make the most of the crisis.

    India to hike sum for rehabilitation of child labourers
    Union Labour Minister Satya Narayan Jatia said that an educational centre would also be set up to impart primary education to the child labourers.


    Fighting the neta, babu, lala, jhola and dada nexus
    The initial momentum created by chief vigilance commissioner N Vittal is already flagging, and unless he changes his gameplan it could disappear altogether, says Sucheta Dalal.

    April 11, 2000

    New-look Sensex spurts by 225 points

    'India to open up economy totally by 2001'
    A top Indian official said that "quantitative restrictions on more than 700 items would be lifted before March 31, 2001. From April 1, 2001, India will become a free economy."


    Companies turn market-savvy, vie for public issues of equity: AFP
    As many as 40 issues have been lined up by Indian film and television entertainment companies to raise about Rs 94.5 billion in the next few months

    Ireland woos Indian film-makers with picturesque locations
    Mary Harney, the Irish Deputy Prime Minister, said that her country has beautiful locations which the Indian film industry could take advantage of.


    Rich, 'crazy' Sabeer Bhatia still loses sleep over new ventures: AFP
    The Indian-born founder of Hotmail is hungry for the buzz of living on the edge of a new revolution. "It's an exciting time to be on the Internet," he says.

    Market regulator rules out easing of norms for new IT issues
    The question of relaxation in rules governing initial public offerings of infotech and dot-com companies does not arise, says SEBI.

    Meta Strips dispute: Uneasy peace prevails in Goa
    The demonstrators fear that the committee set up to establish if the company is a threat to the environment, may come up with an 'adverse' report.

    April 9, 2000

    Markets watchdog to probe Tuesday's crash

    Japan to fund India 'once it signs CTBT'
    Japan's ambassador Hiroshi Hirabayashi said that his country would review the situation and consider resuming loans and other assistance, after India signs the CTBT.


    India's tea firms accused of paying off separatist rebels
    A senior commando force official claimed that tea firms in Assam were paying money to rebel groups 'to buy peace'. The charge, if proven, would be tantamount to aiding terrorism.


    India plans law to ban employment of children
    Labour Minister Satyanarayan Jatiya said that a new legislation to ban employment of children below age of 14 years in hazardous and non-hazardous professions is being considered.

    TELCO plans to launch two Indica variants
    Buoyed by good demand, Tata Engineering is considering the rollout of new models that would be Euro-II emission norms compliant.

    April 8, 2000

    "Pub-less Cyberabad dampens yuppies' spirits"

    Sensex leaps 352 points as good news sweeps bourses
    Bourses reacted positively as the double-taxation controversy over foreign funds ended, the markets regulator eased margin norms, and the NASDAQ recovered. Heavy buying amidst sighs of relief led to across-the-board rally.

    India markets regulator eases IPO norms for media, telecom firms
    The Securities and Exchange Board of India has relaxed the norms for initial public offerings by media, entertainment and telecom companies, bringing them at par with the infotech industry.


    ADB rules out immediate funding to India
    The Asian Development Bank says it would be difficult for it to grant loans for non-basic human needs projects 'for the moment'.

    India imposes anti-dumping duty on rice, maize, sorghum, fruits
    A 50-80 per cent duty on import of rice, corn, millet, and fresh fruits has been imposed to discourage dumping of the commodities in India.

    Goa controversy continues to rage
    The Meta Strips issue has taken a new turn with the Chief Minister denying that he'd reached a pact with the demonstrators, except over the closure of the factory.

    Power, subsidised rice may cost more in Andhra Pradesh
    The state's precarious fiscal condition and rising burden on the exchequer have forced it to consider a hike in power and subsidised rice rates.

    Piaggio bids for Scooters India
    The Italian two-wheeler major has bid to acquire a majority stake in India's largest state-run scooter firm. The bid price, however, has not been revealed.

    Indian central bank simplifies investment procedures
    The Reserve Bank of India said that automatic nod for foreign direct investments and investments by non-resident Indians will be available where the total sum is not over $ 150 million.

    India opens coal sector to private firms
    The Indian cabinet has decided to amend existing laws to allow private firms to enter the coal mining sector.

    April 7, 2000

    Maruti on a comeback trail

    Peace returns to Goa
    With the demonstrators and the government coming to an agreement over the controversial Meta Strips project issue, calm descended upon the tourist state.

    Indian stocks gain in US markets
    After Tuesday's bloodbath on NASDAQ, there was some respite as Indian technology stocks, Infosys and Satyam Infoway recorded smart gains.


    Manoj Tirodkar is India's Young Business Achiever
    The managing director of Global Tele-Systems Limited will now represent India at the global event to select the world's young achiever in the US.

    Daihatsu not to drive into India
    The Japanese company has decided not to follow its parent, Toyota, into India. It will, however, assist Toyota without going in for a separate venture.

    Indian farmers' co-operative plans infotech, insurance forays
    IFFCO, the co-operative sector fertiliser giant, is diversifying into insurance and farm-related infotech sector. It has already tied up with a foreign partner for the venture.

    Cochin Refineries plans Rs 43-billion expansion
    The public sector refinery is aiming to its refining capacity from 7.5 million tonnes to 13.5 million tonnes per annum. This will ease the shortage of petro-products in South India.

    'Free economic zones from labour laws'
    The government must do away with the Industrial Disputes Act at SEZs to attract foreign investors and to make these zones globally competitive, say software experts.


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  • PentaSoft Tech net profit up at Rs 277 million.
  • Aftek Infosys net up at Rs 24.75 million.
  • NIIT bags orders worth $ 7.4 million.


    India's infotech industry to create 7 million jobs by 2008
    India's IT export target is projected at $ 50 billion by 2008, and if this is to be met, 2.2 million more software and 4.8 million more hardware experts will be required.

    India's largest fund to invest in dot-com firms
    The Unit Trust of India will soon launch a dot-com fund to concentrate on Internet start-ups.


    Income Tax department vs FIIs
    'If the Income Tax department wins the ruling on slapping taxes on Mauritius-based foreign funds, India may lose a lot of foreign investment, says Devangshu Datta.

    April 6, 2000

    'India has merged with global knowledge economy now. I see 7-8 Indian firms listing on NASDAQ soon.'

    Stockmarkets stabilise on ministry's move
    The free fall at the bourses was arrested by the Finance Ministry's intervention, which ordered a halt to action against Mauritius-based FIIs.

    Prohibitory orders in Goa as violence rises
    With the stir against Meta Strips snowballing into a violent protest, the government has called in extra police force. It has also set up a panel to probe into the allegations against the project.


    Reliance board to mull share-buyback
    Reliance Industries Limited will hold a board meeting on April 12 to consider the issue. At the current price of Rs 300, it will be able to extinguish 10% of its equity capital.

    World Bank bullish over India's growth
    The Bank's Global Development Finance report says that the Indian economy will sustain rapid growth, along with domestic reform issues.

    'Family businesses must be professionally managed'
    Rahul Bajaj, the CII president, said that family-run companies need to turn into professionally managed ones so as to be able to compete and survive in today's environment.

    'India not to dilute holding in state-run insurance firms'
    Union Minister of State for Finance Balasaheb Vikhe Patil said that India will usher in customer-friendly guidelines for insurance firms in a fortnight.

    States agree over uniform sales tax
    With all the states and union territories concurring to comply with the common floor rate of sales tax, the tax war amongst states is over.

    Doordarshan revenue rises sharply
    At a time when critics were beginning to write it off, Doordarshan has bounced back with an impressive growth of 47% in the fiscal 1999-2000.

    India approves foreign direct investment proposals worth Rs 25 billion
    The Commerce Ministry okayed 57 cases of FDI covering sectors like pharmaceuticals, banking, leasing, hire purchase, software development, Internet services, and cement.

    Mini-car museum opens in Hyderabad
    A designer of miniature cars and two-wheelers has put on display over 80 models in the cyber city. He has already entered the Guinness Book of World Records through his feat.


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  • Samtel Colour fixes record date.
  • NIIT board to review employee stock options.
  • HFCL board to mull private placement.


    New temples, new India
    'Whether the Indian stock market booms or flops, the ICE Age is here to stay,' says Pritish Nandy.


    'There's a need to nurture Indian family businesses'
    Top industrialists feel family-run businesses have their own place in the new economy.

    April 4, 2000

    Millennium Maharajas

    SBI, IDBI cut prime lending rates
    SBI has cut its advance rate to 11.25% from 12% and medium-term lending rate to 11.50% from 12%. IDBI's PLR is down to 12.5% from 13.5%.


    Begging: Bombay's best-organised business
    Begging has become big business in the metropolis and is controlled by the underworld. The ingenuity, effort and understanding of human psychology that go into it make it a thriving trade, says Sucheta Dalal.

    RBI must ensure rate cut benefit reaches the customer
    'Without unduly affecting the priceline, the economy can absorb enhanced money supply brought about by the bank rate and CRR cuts, provided supply management is effective,'
    says R C Murthy.


    Insurance firms urged to go in for strategic tie-ups with co-operative sector
    Union Minister of State for Finance Balasaheb Vikhe Patil said that the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation must design new products to enhance industry growth, especially in rural areas.

    Havell's acquires Standard Electricals
    Havell's India bought a 60% stake for Rs 200 million in SEL to gain control and said that more buyouts are in the pipeline over a 3-year period.

    'Weak banks must prepare own revival plan'
    Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha said a detailed restructuring plan is necessary for proper evaluation before the banks could be recapitalised.

    Haldia Petrochemicals commissioned amidst much fanfare
    The West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu dedicated the mega-project to the nation on Sunday, saying that it will trigger off new investments and bring about industrial rejuvenation in the state.

    New management course for wives of business bigwigs
    The Acme Centre has embarked on a "mission for women's empowerment" and offers a one-year post-graduate diploma in business management with focus on international trade.


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  • BSE imposes margins on 343 scrips.
  • MRPL seeks global equity partner.
  • Moser Baer in R&D tie-up with 4M.

    April 2, 2000

    RBI ushers in lower interest rate regime

  • Bank rate: down to 7% from 8%.
  • CRR: down to 8% from 9%.
  • Repo rate: down to 5% from 6%.
  • Savings dep rate: down to 4% from 4.5%.


    Cherished legacy
    Top industrialists feel that the tradition of the Indian family businesses needs to be nurtured.

    Political parties, industry air extreme reactions to Exim Policy
    P Chidambaram complimented the government. Rajesh Pilot said the policy would hurt the farmers. A K Antony said it would ruin Kerala.


    Vajpayee bemoans PSUs' decay, Manohar Joshi highlights their 'greatness'
    The prime minister defended the government's divestment policy and assured workers that their interests will be safeguarded.

    Zen races past Matiz, catches up with Santro in March
    India's Maruti Udyog saw its best-selling model Zen outpace competition and retain its position as the largest selling car in its category.

    Haldia Petrochemicals project to be commissioned tomorrow
    The West Bengal government claims that project will help rejuvenate the state's ailing economy.

    HUDCO cuts rates; sanctions touch Rs 89 billion
    Following the withdrawal of interest tax and a reduction in borrowing cost, the Housing and Urban Development Corporation has pared rates by 0.25 to 1.25 per cent.

    Rathi, Dina Mehta re-elected BSE Prez, VP
    The Governing Board of India's premier stock exchange also elected Himanshu Kaji as treasurer for 2000-2001.

    No provision for upgradation of Amritsar airport in Ninth Plan
    The sensitive Raja Sansi airport, where a recently hijacked Indian Airlines plane had been forced to land, is not in the list of 26 airports in India for which Rs 10.78 billion had been allocated.

    April 1, 2000
    'If removal of quantitative restrictions has adverse impact, we'll counter it through the weapon of tariff'
    Commerce and Industry Minister Murasoli Maran speaks to

    After export-boosting efforts, it's time for labour law reform, product dereservation
    'India's tax and tariff structures remain anti-export biased. India's high overall tariff rates, especially tariffs on intermediate products that are used by exporters, impose a heavy indirect tax on export competitiveness,' says Nirupam Bajpai of the Harvard University, in an exclusive analysis.


    Air-India hunts for overseas ally
    The company plans to invest the funds in extending its product versions and services across the world to reach the 1 million consumer mark by the year-end.

    Unimobile gets $15 million funding from VCs
    The company plans to invest the funds in extending its product versions and services across the world to reach the 1 million consumer mark by the year-end.

    Remove all sanctions against India, urges Pallone
    The US Congressman has urged that economic sanctions against India, especially the denial of World Bank loans, should be lifted forthwith.

    Peaceful protest marks death of a goldmine
    Sick public sector unit Bharat Gold Mines that ran the 120-year-old Kolar mines, downed shutters for the final time on Friday evening, leaving its 4,300 employees jobless.