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BUDGET 1999
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July 31, 1999

'We're not like that'
Political parties swear by consensus, but draw up their own economic agendas.

Sinha urges small firms to shape up to counter MNC threat
Small- and medium-sized businesses should not seek 'a blanket of protection' from external business forces that invariably emerge from economic liberalisation, the finance minister said.

Kargil affected tourists' inflow and our business, says Tata group's hotel chain
The company posted a lower net profit of Rs 222 million for the quarter compared to Rs 240.6 million in the corresponding quarter last fiscal. Sales fell to Rs 1.20 billion from Rs 1.32 billion.

Goans fear metals firm will cause pollution, launch campaign
Metal toxicity of excess of copper and zinc of Meta Strips would find its way into the human body through groundwater percolation, the local eco-activists said.

Markets
BSE: Sensex down 59.84 points to 4543.58
NSE: Nifty down 11.55 points to 1309.35
Forex: Rs 43.31 to US dollar; rupee down three paise

July 30, 1999

Zooming back into reckoning
Maruti seeks to retain lead in the passenger car market by launching new models

Kerala court ban on cigarettes ignites industry anger
As sales dip and livelihoods suffer, manufacturers, dealers and workers are planning to move the Supreme Court against the ban and launch a state-wide agitation.

Companies in northeast get excise exemption
A similar exemption granted to Sikkim a few years ago proved controversial as companies produced goods in other states and marked them as 'manufactured in Sikkim'.

FINANCIAL RESULTS

SBI dips, Godrej Soaps flies, Ranbaxy grows, ONGC slips
L&Tís net profit during the first quarter of 1999-2000 grew by 10 per cent to touch Rs 793 million, led by an 8 per cent growth in turnover at Rs 15.92 billion.

Markets
BSE: Sensex up 5.08 points to 4603.42
NSE: Nifty down 0.70 points to 1320.90
Forex: Rs 43.28 to US dollar; rupee up three paise

July 29, 1999

'Indian customers are not aggressive in their demands'
Venu Srinivasan, CMD, TVS Suzuki, talks about the changing tastes of vehicle-users in India, new technologies, the price barriers, emissions and pollution, the two-wheeler industry in India and his company's future plans.

Air-India, Indian Airlines likely to decide on new aircraft by November
"The airlines are free to choose the aircraft. What should be conceptualised is that the planes should be user-friendly. They must have passenger appeal," Aviation Minister Anant Kumar said.

NEWS

Ambani, HLL, Tata group clinch honours in corporate survey
The Taylor Nelson Sofres-Mode survey reflects the views of top corporate managers. Most admired CEOs, most admired companies, most admired business houses have been chosen on the basis of 'leadership', 'integrity'. 'vision' and 'technology orientation'.

Unions reject Dunlop revival plan, demand unpaid wages
The labour commissioner has advised the company to first pay the due wages to the workers before mooting revival proposals.

THE REDIFF BUSINESS SPECIAL

Lessons for India Inc
'In the 1920s, our exports were about Rs 3 billion and our world ranking was fifth. In a little over three quarters of a century since then, we have squandered away a strength; today, we rank about 50th in the world trade,' says Tata Sons ED R Gopalakrishnan.

Markets
BSE: Sensex up 6.66 points to 4598.34
NSE: Nifty up 9.5 points to 1321.60
Forex: Rs 43.31 to US dollar; steady

July 28, 1999

Endless Excitement
Tamilnad Mercantile Bank cannot but be in the news -- and controversy. Or so it seems.

Foreign Investment Implementation Authority to be set up
It will help foreign investors in obtaining necessary approvals and sorting out operational and coordination problems with different arms of the government.

NEWS

Goa tables bill to protect small investors from fraudulent finance companies
Thousands of Goans, mostly the Gulf-based Non Resident Indians, have been duped to the tune of Rs 500 million by 20 NBFCs in the last three years. More cases have come to light.

Mankad urges MF industry to launch investor- and economy-friendly products
Good corporate governance and growth of the mutual funds would certainly have positive impact on the economy, the new Union finance secretary said.

Markets
BSE: Sensex down 34 points to 4591.68
NSE: Nifty down 10 points to 1312.10
Forex: Rs 43.31 to US dollar; down three paise

July 27, 1999

The Adman Who Hated Hype
'Although he was an advertising legend, his business card identified him as a copywriter. He preferred 'Okay' to 'Goodbye''. Mani Ayer salutes David Ogilvy.


Telco to grow through mergers, acquisitions, divestment
'This is part of the exercises to strengthen the Tata empire. We will now see more action in restructuring.... The proposed mid-size car would not be launched in the current year,'' a Tata official said.

NEWS

Bose and Bose vs MIT
Father Amar Bose joins his son Vanu's fight against the Masschusetts Institute of Technology over patent. Bose Jr is also pursuing a few dream projects.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch wants Centre to control liquor industry
Shifting control of liquor production from the Centre to the states may enable MNCs to edge out the small players, the SJM has warned.

REVIEW

Fuel, auto industries steer clear of solutions to emissions problem
The recent conference an automobile fuel technologies organised by the Tata Energy Research Institute in New Delhi threw up controversial subjects for debate.

Markets
BSE: Sensex down 47 points to 4625.40
NSE: Nifty down 20 points to 1322.40
Forex: Rs 43.28 to US dollar; down one paisa

July 24-26, 1999

LIC to pump Rs 300 billion into economy to boost investment climate
LIC will invest Rs 150 billion in government treasury bills and another Rs 150 billion in housing, infrastructure and social infrastructure programmes.

Trade unions spit fire at foreign banks in India for cutting jobs
Foreign banks are functioning contrary to ethics, convention and in utter violation of laws of the land, said Rajya Sabha member Gurudas Dasgupta. The All-India Bank Employees' Association said it is planning 'direct action' against attempts to deunionise the employees and misuse of voluntary retirement schemes.

NEWS

Vexed Indian alchemist seeks patent in Australia for medicinal product
The Chemistry Centre at Perth in Western Australia would conduct tests on solid mercury and mercurious ash (rasayan) prepared by B S Kashyap,a Roorkee-based retired bureaucrat.

Curtailed water supply makes Coke's future in Goa uncertain
Industries minister Churchill Alemao adopted a firm stand and defended his action against Coke even as the Opposition decried the state government's 'anti-MNC' policies.

Reliance Petro despatches first set of products from Jamnagar
High speed diesel and liquefied petroleum gas have been despatched to the public sector oil companies. The marketing will commence next week.

India demands review of WTO pacts before Millennium Round talks
"We are not against talks, but we would want the implementation process of the earlier WTO agreements to be reviewed," Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde said.

Markets
BSE: Sensex down 56 points to 4672.12
NSE: Nifty down six points to 1342.95
Forex: Rs 43.27 to US dollar; down two paise

July 23, 1999

Draping the Globe
Indian designers wow the world's fashion industry, make it to the top league.

New guard takes charge at North Block; Piyush Mankad returns to finance ministry
The new finance secretary has wide experience in the areas of domestic and foreign investment promotion, industrial policy and development, capital markets, public sector reforms, disinvestment and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

JM Morgan Stanley sees Sensex reaching 5800 in a year, puts GDP at 6.5 pc
Ridham Desai, India strategist for J M Morgan Stanley, said: ''Our figures reflect rising corporate earnings and an improvement in valuations. Low inflation, rising growth, a benign interest rate environment and strong market dynamics are supportive of valuations."

NEWS

Adopt green tech, govt tells oil and Euro-hit auto companies
'Global auto majors were expected to bring in the latest technologies that reduce emissions and bring about higher safety on the road. However, they had failed to do so,' Environment Minister Suresh Prabhu said.

Maruti dealers enter Web to stay ahead
Prospective buyers can now easily obtain information required to make a wise decision, said Rohtash Mal, MUL's marketing and sales chief.

West Bengal to stall Uco Bank's move to shift headquarters
'At a time when the state has made a breakthrough in agriculture and is on the threshold of making an industrial resurgence, this move by Uco Bank is totally unjustified,' said West Bengal Finance Minister Ashim Dasgupta.

Markets
BSE: Sensex up 69 points to 4728.78
NSE: Nifty up 9 points to 1349
Forex: Rs 43.24 to US dollar; down one paisa

July 22, 1999

Craft and Aircraft
Vir Sanghvi analyses the indecent hurry of the caretaker government to force cash-strapped Indian Airlines into buying ATR-42 aircraft of France.

After-effect of Essar FRN default: IDBI says no to steel projects
'If we start bailing out companies, who will bail us out? You have seen what happened to US-64 Scheme,'' IDBI executive director S K Kapur said.

Coke goes dry: Goa's industry minister cuts water supply
Churchill Alemao claimed that water could not be spared for Coke because other electronic and pharmaceutical multinationals are running short of water. His critics have alleged Alemao is armtwisting the MNC into sponsoring his football team.

NEWS

Tatas await 'favourable climate' to foray into aviation
''The aviation foray is not dead for us. It is still open to us and we can still look into the idea but a policy framework has to be in place,'' Tata Industries resident director in New Delhi Sujit Gupta said.

Telco vehicles to be Euro-fit by April 2000
The company indicated at a possible hike in prices of all its passenger cars, including the Indica, as a result of the cost escalations incurred for making them Euro-II compliant.

Pizza Hut tops off India foray with Jain-style offerings
The fast food chain's Ahmedabad venture will offer, besides the regular menu, a choice of six varieties of Jain pizzas and Jain French bread.

Markets
BSE: Sensex up 42 points to 4660
NSE: Nifty up 25 points to 1340
Forex: Rs 43.23 to US dollar; down two paise

July 21, 1999

Kargil, the myth-buster
Pritish Nandy on the economy's unrecognised strengths, why India is stronger than what it appears.

As FIs refuse bailout, Essar Steel defaults on FRN redemption
The financial institutions have blamed the default on the 'asset-liability mismanagement'. ESL is eyeing rollover of payment and refinance options, and hoping that rise in steel prices will improve cash flows to it. It has struck a deal with a German company, Thyssen, to sell steel at improved prices.

Centre raises support price of 14 commodities
Paddy, cotton and pulses are among the 14 commodities. The government has to announce kharif prices normally before the commencement of sowing to ensure better returns for the farmers, I&B minister Pramod Mahajan said.

NEWS

Daewoo India slams brakes on plans to launch Nubira, new models
'We are presently trying to meet the Matiz demand and will concentrate on the small car for the present,' said Byung-Soh Min, deputy managing director, DMIL.

Lobbyist underlines ways to boost carpet exports to US
The Carpet Export Promotion Council should launch an aggressive campaign to tell people that the handknotted carpets do not carry the stigma of child labour, a US firm has suggested.

Bose Corp unveils acoustic wave music system in India
The acoustic wave music system includes a full-featured CD player, AM/FM stereo tuner with 10 pre-sets, and all the speaker, amplification and equalisation technology to fill a room with sound.

Markets
BSE: Sensex down 99 points to 4617
NSE: Nifty down 35 points to 1314
Forex: Rs 43.21 to US dollar; remains steady

July 20, 1999

Sensex closes at 4717, a new all-time high!
Software and pharma stocks led Monday's rally as FIIs and bulls resumed heavy buying.

End of Public Relations?
A Madras-based firm makes a business of protecting and managing corporates' images. And calls it TRM (Total Reputation Management).

Bankruptcy fears: Daewoo Motor says operations in India won't be affected
Byung-Soh Min, deputy managing director of DMIL, said: 'It is business as usual for us.... These are minor hiccups in the path of a major restructuring exercise which has been going on for a long time and we will see it through.'

Essar Steel plans to roll over FRN repayment
It became the first Indian company to default on its international obligations after banks and financial institutions refused to provide refinance or a bridge loan to repay holders of its floating rate notes.

Raunaq Singh plans to set up fertiliser unit in Punjab
"My personal choice is to set up the plant in Bhatinda. But I've not made up my mind as yet. The Punjab government has offered me various alternatives," Singh told Rediff On The NeT.

THIS ALSO HAPPENS IN INDIA

Sachet in a lemonade bottle! MNC sees spurious soft drinks racket
In the interest of the consumers, soft drink companies ought to take responsibility for eradicating spurious soft drinks under their brands, if any, said a Madras-based consumer group.

NEWS

LIC posts best results of the decade; income up 18 pc to Rs 363 bn
The corporation's total assets went up by a whopping 20.74 per cent to Rs 1.32 trillion.

FIPB allows ABB to buy out stake in Thapar group company
In all, eight proposals were cleared by the board today, amounting to a foreign direct investment inflow of Rs 1.38 billion.

Lack of customer-related data and services squeezes banks' profitability: KPMG study
Protecting and nurturing profitable customers whilst improving or removing the rest offers a key to profit improvements, said Philip Middleton, head, KPMG's financial strategy wing.

Markets
BSE: Sensex up 77 points to 4717
NSE: Nifty up 25 points to 1350
Forex: Rs 43.21 to US dollar; up two paise

July 17-19, 1999

Touring Kargil
The hot spot now finds its way into international brochures.

RBI plans to cut interest rates
The current low level of inflation combined with sustained stability in the Indian currency and signs of an industrial recovery create a strong argument in favour of such a cut, say financial analysts.

Divestment to begin in October: Sinha
"We are confident that the target will be met as we have eight months ahead of us," the finance minister said.

Experts advocate increasing defence budget
An increase in defence spending from 2.4 to 3.5 per cent of the GDP will help in the modernisation of equipment for the forces, according to former foreign secretary J N Dixit.

Markets
BSE: Sensex down 40 points, 4639
NSE: Nifty up six points to 1324
Forex: Rs 43.23 to US dollar; up two paise

July 16, 1999

Five pc surcharge on income, corporate taxes likely to offset Kargil cost
The government is also examining the possibility of mid-year hike in excise and custom duties on a wide range of commodities to increase the revenue collection in the next six months.

'Economy fine, fiscal deficit 'uncontrollable', trade and industry must pay taxes and help govt': Sinha
The economy was quick to factor in the fall of the Vajpayee government in April. It will boom despite the general election in September and the Kargil conflict, the finance minister said.

SPECIAL REPORT

Blessed by nature, cursed by politicians, Orissa lags behind in industrialisation
The state stands to lose Rs 150 billion investment: two proposed aluminium plants in the private sector are unlikely to materialise due to governmental indifference.

NEWS

Big Bull's brother Ashwin Mehta says PV was paid Rs 10 million
Mehta told the Bombay high court that one of the accused in the securities scam, Mohan Khandelwal, had delivered Rs 3.3 million to Sitaram Kesri, then treasurer of the Congress Party.

Tisco Q1 net dips 8.5 pc to Rs 248 million, slows BSE bull-run
Brokers said the results are unimpressive and squeezed Rs 13.50 off the Tisco scrip to Rs 158. Tisco officials, however, said that after three successive years of recessionary conditions, the Indian steel market is showing signs of a revival, as demand for flat products is firming up.

THE REDIFF BUSINESS COLUMN

Human development as a measure of economic progress
Reforms have changed the modes of delivery of public services like primary education in India. In 2005, India will not only have a far higher per capita GDP, but a far higher human development index value, says Bibek Debroy.

Markets
BSE: Sensex down 30 points, 4680
NSE: Nifty down 19 points to 1317
Forex: Rs 43.25 to US dollar; Rs 67.64 vs pound sterling , Rs 44.21 vs euro and Rs 35.89 vs yen (100)

August 1999

July 1-15, 1999

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