Monday, February 28, 2011

Libya update: Opp forces close to Tripoli


Cairo/Washington: Opposition forces on Monday stormed close to the Libyan capital Tripoli for a final showdown with militia still loyal to beleaguered strong-man Muammar Gaddafi, as US and its European allies readied plans for a possible imposition of a 'no-fly zone' over the embattled country.
Three areas close to the east of the capital fell to the opposition forces advancing from Az-Zawiyah, just 50 kms west of the capital, Al-Jazeera channel reported.
Quoting its correspondent moving with the opposition forces, the channel
said heavily armed Gaddafi's forces were manning check-posts between Az-Zawiyah
libya crisis
and Tripoli.
It said there were also reports of Gaddafi loyalists demonstrating in small towns on the periphery of the capital. "Gaddafi was reported to be holed up in the heavily fortified Bab al-Aziziya area of the capital with his mercenaries militia men ringing
him," the channel said.
It claimed that Gaddafi loyalists were also venturing to launch probing attacks
outside the capital and said that at the moment "the capital was still in his control".
As Gaddafi and opposition forces seemed to be locking into a final battle, US and its European allies appeared to be stiffening their attitude to fast paced developments in Libya.
Obama administration officials were in talks with European and other allied
governments for a possible imposition of 'no-fly zone' over Libya to prevent further killings of civilians by troops loyal to Gaddafi, New York Times reported.
US officials are also discussing whether the American military could move to
disrupt communications to prevent Col Gaddafi from broadcasting in Libya.
The paper also said Washington was also pondering to set up 'safe corridors' leading from Libya into neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt to assist the refugees, whose numbers are multiplying. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was scheduled to meet US President Barrack Obama in White House to discuss the deteriorating situation in Libya.
France on Monday declared it would send "massive" aid to opposition held
territories in Libya and did not rule out supporting the NATO enforcement of a no-fly zone.
The French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said the country's air force plane would start leaving for Benghazi to start a massive humanitarian and relief operations.
The French announcement followed as British and German military planes flew clandestinely into the Libyan desert rescuing hundreds of civilians stranded in the country.
The dramatic rescue by planes came after a secret commando raid by Britain's famed SAS which plucked 150 oil workers from multiple locations from the remote Libyan desert, 'The Sunday Telegraph' reported.
The paper quoting unnamed Whitehall officials said the secret military mission into the strife torn country signalled the readiness of western nations to disregard Libya's territorial integrity when it comes to the safety of its citizens.
Three British Royal Air force C130 Hercules Aircraft swooped into the eastern Libyan desert to pluck out 150 stranded civilians and flew them to safety to Malta on Sunday the British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said in a statement.
Telegraph said, one of the RAF Hercules transport aircraft suffered minor damages from small arms fire.
In a similar defiant action, Germany said its air force transport planes had evacuated 132 people from the Libyan desert during a secret military mission on Saturday.

Union Budget 2011 spares the axe


By R Jagannathan, Editor-in-chief, Web 18 business portals
The Union Budget for 2011-12 presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Parliament on Monday is widely seen as taxpayer- and market-friendly. While it provides tax relief to individual taxpayers and corporate assessees, it has also sought to avoid any across-the-board increases in excise and service taxes – as was widely expected following suggestions from the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council. The Council had said recently that the time was ripe to withdraw the fiscal stimulus of 2008-10.
But the Finance Minister apparently disagrees. He said: "In my last Budget, I had started rolling back the fiscal stimulus implemented over 2008-09 and 2009-10 to mitigate the impact of the global financial crisis on the economic slowdown in India. In the course of the year, I have moved further on that path. I believe that a part of the current recovery must be stored away to build future resilience. Indeed, a counter-cyclical fiscal policy is our best insurance against external shocks and localised domestic factors."
So, Mukherjee is obviously not sure that growth will remain robust if he tightens the screws just now. The main highlights of his budget proposals are the scattering of relieves here and there, with the big sting being left for later.
The following are the main budget proposals, and their possible impact.
* The surcharge on corporate tax on domestic companies will be cut from 7.5 per cent to 5 per cent. However, the Minimum Alternate Tax goes up to 18.5 per cent from 18 per cent to keep the effective level of taxation for MAT companies the same. Companies will welcome the relief.
* Individual taxpayers get a higher basic deduction of Rs 1.8 lakh; every taxpayers get minor relief of Rs 2,000. It's a minor drop in the bucket given the ravages of inflation.
* Senior citizens get a bonanza. Apart from an increase in the exemption limit to Rs 2.5 lakh, the entitlement age for senior citizens is now 60, not 65. A new class of super senior citizens aged above 80 gets an even higher IT exemption limit of Rs 5 lakh. For a young country, Pranab, 76, is obviously rooting for senior citizens.
* Service tax stays at the same level as before at 10 per cent, but several new services have been brought within its ambit. Among them: hotels with tariffs above Rs 1,000 (5 per cent service tax), restaurants with bar and A/C (3 per cent), hospitals with more than 25 beds and with A/C (5 per cent), and air travel (Rs 50 more for domestic, Rs 250 for international). Business class air travel will attract a full 10 per cent service tax. Hotels, five-star restaurants and airlines will scream.
* The base excise rate stays at 10 per cent, but exemptions on some 130 items are being withdrawn. A basic rate of 1 per cent is being levied. Another 240 items that are still exempt will be attracting tax when the goods and services tax is introduced next year. One can expect inflation to get a nudge up.
* Inflation, reforms and black money generation got some mention, but nothing substantive. The amnesty scheme for bringing back black money was missing in the budget. The government is obviously not keen to be seen as reactive to public criticism of corruption.
* Subsidies on fertiliser, kerosene and cooking gas (LPG) will be cash-based by March, 2012. No measures on fuel deregulation were, however, announced. The urea subsidy will soon become nutrient-based. Good in intent, a lot will depend on political will. One can expect the Left to be critical of the proposal.
* The public sector disinvestment target has been upped to Rs 40,000 crore in 2011-12; the current fiscal's target was reduced to 22,144 crore due to higher realisations from other sources. But it could be because of the government's inability to reform oil prices. While Indian Oil was forced to review its further public offer due to losses, ONGC's plans appear to have been delayed. A lot will depend on how the market fares after the budget.
* Foreign institutional and non-institutional investors get more options for investment. While the total ceiling on debt is raised to US$40 billion, individual investors who are KYC (know-your-customer) complaint can invest in Indian mutual funds. This could indirectly give a fillip to market sentiment. Positive for market sentiment, but don't expect a flood of foreign funds to come into equity.
* Many sops for infrastructure have been announced. While Rs 30,000 crore worth of tax-free bonds will be on offer next year, the Rs 20,000 additional tax deduction available for investing in infra bonds will be retained for another year. Nothing earth-shattering in all this.
* Small sops have been offered to housing, especially low-cost housing. The 1 per cent interest rebate will be applicable for loans upto Rs 15 lakh on houses costing upto Rs 25 lakh. Loans upto Rs 25 lakh will qualify as priority sector loans (against Rs 20 lakh now). One cannot expect any major fillip to housing with this. Realty is already beyond reach in most metros even for the middle class.
Overall, the Centre's direct tax relieves will cost Pranab Mukherjee Rs 11,500 crore, while his indirect tax levies will bring in Rs 11,300 crore. The fiscal deficit will be contained at 4.6 per cent next year against 5.1 per cent this year, with the 2013-14 target being 3.5 per cent.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ban on exports of tea leaves to impact tea industry in Darjeeling

Darjeeling/Siliguri, Feb 27 (ANI): The announcement of a ban on the exports of tea leaves by the regional Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in West Bengal will hit the world famous tea industry of Darjeeling.The town of Darjeeling is known to produce the world''s best blend of tea.Tea producers and exporters said that the proposed ban would severely affect the industry and their livelihood."The loss would be in crores and the loss would be around ten million rupees or so. In a year there is about eight million kilograms tea produced and two million kilograms are produced in the first flush itself," said Manoj Tripathi, a tea producer.Many tea producers here are of the view that the rich history and tradition of producing tea is already facing problems and the future of the industry looks grim if such a situation continues.Locals in the region, who work as labourers in the tea gardens, depend on tea production for their livelihood and say that this would be a huge blow to their only source of income.The first flush season during the month of March has a rich aroma and is a preferred one for most people, as two million kilograms are exported every year during this period."Actually, the motive and intention of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is to resist and collect revenue from tea, but on the contrary the burden it will automatically comes upon the tea industry because you see if tea industry is not benefited then how the workers will be benefit," said Prabir Seal, a tea exporter in Siliguri.The tea producers here said that banning tea exports would present a poor impression on the foreign buyers who visit the region to purchase the product in bulk.Over 40,000 tonnes of tea is exported worldwide every year, while the annual production is estimated at 10,000 million tonnes including local consumption.Producers and exporters also say that the ban would give the tea industry in Nepal a huge boost.A renewed demand for a separate Gorkhaland region, which would include Darjeeling and some contiguous areas of Jalpaiguri District, has created fresh turmoil over the past few months.At the fifth round of tripartite talks in New Delhi, the GJM had agreed to the constitution of an interim council by 2011 prior to the creation of a separate state.The Gorkha population in West Bengal estimated to be around a million has been demanding a separate state. (ANI)

Rebel army formed in bid to oust Gaddafi

Tripoli, Feb 27 (ANI): Army leaders in eastern Libya who are opposing the Colonel Muammar Gaddafi regime are reportedly preparing to dispatch a rebel force to Tripoli to support the uprising there.The Telegraph quoted Brigadier General Ahmed Gatrani as saying that a small force comprising army defectors and rebels has already reached the outskirts of Tripoli. "We are trying to organize people who will sacrifice their lives to free Tripoli from the dictator. Entering Tripoli is not easy. Anyone trying will be shot," Gatrani, who heads the military committee now in charge of the army in Benghazi, said.Gaddafi''s son, Saif al-Islam, had earlier warned on Saturday that "the signs of civil war and foreign interference have started.''''However, there is no indication as of now that any of the rebel groups have reached Tripoli or participated in the fighting in areas where protesters are confronting heavily armed Gaddafi loyalists with sticks and stones, the paper said.Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has agreed to impose scores of sanctions against Libya, including an arms embargo, and freezing of the assets of Colonel Gaddafi and his relatives.The resolution, passed on Saturday evening by a 15-member council, voted unanimously to freeze the assets of Gaddafi, his four sons and one daughter, and also impose travel bans on his whole family, and ten other associates. (ANI)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Railway Budget 2011: where is the money?


New Delhi: Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "Its been a tough year... But because of 6th Pay Commission there has been a problem." This is an easy excuse for the bad state of Indian Railways. The fact is Railways is losing money.
Railways lost Rs 1500 crore because of disruption of train movements due to various agitations. Another Rs 2500 crore is lost due to ban on export of iron ore.
This meant that Railways missed the freight target by 20 million tonnes. Revenues are shrinking but working expenses are going up. Expenses went up by over Rs 2000 crore and stood at Rs 67,000 crore.
Their operating ratio was at 92.1 per cent, which meant that Indian Railways is increasingly an inefficient transporter.
But the ministry says the 6th Pay Commission is the villain. Railway experts beg to differ.
Railway Board Chairman Vivek Sahai said, "Railways performance stabilised after 5th Pay Commission. Fifth commission affect felt later 1999-2001 but we stabilised. We have surplus over expenditure. Pension fund Rs 15000 crore more than budget of several states."
If the finances are so bad they why make new announcements. Experts say a populist politician in the Rail Ministry is a bad idea.
Another populist budget, new trains new schemes but where will the money come from to implement these. Mamata Banerjee could well be out of the ministry in a next few months leaving behind financial managers to manage the numbers.

Recruitment drive at Tihar Jail for inmates


New Delhi: A job interview in progress but not at a job fair but at Tihar Jail in Delhi.
A 29-year-old graduate and pharmaceutical company manager was sent to jail three years ago on charges of kidnapping and murder. Siddharth Jailtey, father of a four-year-old then took up a masters course in Public Administration from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) while in jail.
He is now due for release within six months. And on Friday, he was given an appointment letter by Agrawal Movers and Packers as a marketing executive.
Tihar Inmate Siddharth Jaitley said, "When I landed in jail I was in trauma and depression and everything was ruined for me. But, now due to this campus interview there is a ray of hope that whenever I get out I can earn my livelihood easily."
Gaurav Sharma, who has an engineering degree is hopeful he too will get lucky. He has applied for technical positions at some of the 15 companies who came to Tihar Jail to recruit under-trials and convicts who are due to be released within a year.
Jail authorities here tell us that this initiative is the first of its kind in the country and they are planning to make this an annual affair.
DG Prison, Tihar Jail, Neeraj Kumar said, "For the first time we are vouching to the corporate houses for the integrity and the good conduct of these people."
All the 15 companies that came to look for potential managers and executives at Asia's largest prison say these prisoners deserve a second chance.
Oriental Bank of Commerce official GK Agrawal said, "If given a chance, I feel they will do better than people who are not criminals because they have to prove themselves and with this mentality they can do wonders."
For people like Siddharth and Gaurav who were wondering how they would support their families once they were released, this has given them them the hope of taking a fresh shot at life.

How to get your Unique Identification Number?


New Delhi: The new Unique Identification (UID) number could bring an end to all your ID proof problems. Six hundred million people are expected to get a unique ID number over the next two years. CNN-IBN tells you how to obtain a UID number.
First step for getting a UID number is a fingerprint scan of all the fingers. Next, you need to gaze into an optical device which records the unique iris patterns in the eye. Then, it's time for a mug-shot with a normal web camera. Finally, the officials take down your name, age, address and ask for proofs to back those details up.
You can chose among several options for proof of address. “Any one of telephone bill, electricity bill, voter ID card, bank statement, a pass book, passport et al can be used proof of address,” informed Manoj Banerjee, Vice President, Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit System.
“If you have ink stains on your fingers, we'll request you to wipe them off. If you wear contacts or spectacles, you'll have to take them off. For cataract patients getting an iris scan could be a problem but we have a way to work around that,” said Ashish Chatterjee, Sr Manager, Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit System.
Even though the entire process is completed in just 10 minutes, it takes around 45 days to receive the UID number. And it comes in the old fashioned way – in a letter delivered by the postman.
Starting mid March, kiosks will be set up in schools, community halls and ration shops in Delhi, where people can register themselves for getting UIDs. Getting a UID number is not compulsory as yet, but in a few years government offices and banks could ask for it before offering services.

Arrested NALCO chief faces hearing today


New Delhi: AK Srivastava, the chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) of National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO), and his wife who were arrested by the CBI for allegedly accepting bribe will be produced before a special court on Saturday.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Srivastava, his wife Chandni Srivastava, along with two accomplices, Bhushan Lal Bajaj and Anita Bajaj, for accepting bribe.
"All the four will be produced before the CBI special court today (Saturday) at Patiala House," a senior CBI official said.
AK srivastava
The CBI arrested Srivastava when his wife was accepting an illegal gratification of three gold bricks, each weighing one kg, of 24 carat gold. His wife was accepting the bribe from the wife of a middleman who was brokering a deal between the CMD and a Madhya Pradesh-based private company, the CBI said in a statement on Friday night.
At the time of the CBI raid, Srivastava's wife, accompanied by the wife of the middleman, had just deposited the three gold bricks in a bank locker of the Bank of Maharashtra in the national capital.
The bank locker was in the name of the wife of the middleman. It was being operated by Srivastava's wife "as benami".
A search of the locker revealed seven more gold bricks of 1 kg each, golden ornaments weighing 188 grams and Indian currency of Rs 9.5 lakh. A search of Srivastava's wife led to the recovery of Rs 5 lakh from her handbag and the key of another locker in the name of the wife of the middleman.

A recycled aircraft?

bi plane

A Chinese automobile mechanic has designed an aircraft that weights about 130 kg and is made of recycled materials including three motorbike engines and plastic cloth. It costs about 2600 yuan ($ 395).

bi plane

Ding Shilu, an automobile mechanic, drives his self-made aircraft after a test-flight on a street in Shenyang, Liaoning province February 25, 2011.

bi plane

Ding Shilu, an automobile mechanic, carries out a test-flight for his self-made aircraft at a frozen reservoir in Shenyang, Liaoning province February 25, 2011.

bi plane

bi plane

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jamia Millia conferred with minority status


New Delhi: The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) on Tuesday observed that the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) is a minority education institution founded by the Muslims for the benefit of community.
"We hold that the Jamia Millia Islamia is a minority education institution," said the three-member bench of the NCMEI in its judgment in the case relating to the status of the university.
The bench was headed by Justice MSA Siddiqi. Its other two members were Mohinder Singh and Cyriac Thomas.
"We have no hesitation in holding that the Jamia was founded by the Muslims for the benefit of Muslims and it never lost its character as a Muslim education institution," it said.
jamila milia islamia

Mobile number portability? What's that?

New Delhi: It was viewed as a tool to empower the consumer. But now chinks are showing up in the armour of the much-hyped Mobile Number Portability (MNP) scheme. Customers who have applied to shift to a different network complain they are facing huge problems. Most of them have alleged that their existing service provider is not allowing them to make the switch. Saket Dokania who is using an Airtel connection had applied to shift to Reliance. But 20 days later he is still trying. "I applied for MNP on January 30 and also bought a new SIM of Reliance. I also submitted my documents. After that I got a call from Airtel customer care about the reasons for changing the operator. I made it clear that my connection is proving to be costly. mobile number portability

They offered to reduce the call rates as well as SMS charges for me. I rejected the offer and said that I will switch to Reliance. After that it's been 20 days but there has been no communication from their side. I have made around 50 calls to customer care but all in vain. In retaliation they have added a poor quality hello tune on my number and have also deducted my balance," said Saket. Some complain that operators are not allowing them to make the switch, while others are unhappy with the delays. A customer said he was facing problems during the change-over period which stretched to more than a week. To switch over to another operator, a user has to send an SMS to 1900. On doing this the present operator will reply with a unique porting code which is valid for 15 days. The consumer has to use this code and the application form for the company to which he/she wants to shift. Within a week the recipient operator will take over the service. Similar is the experience of Sharad Natani, contractor and resident of Sarita Vihar area. "I wanted to shift to Idea as I find their GPRS service good. So on January 28 I bought an Idea SIM and submitted all the documents. I even got my unique porting number which is valid only for 15 days. That has expired now. I have been calling customer care for shifting to the new network but they are not letting me go. MNP war has shown the true colours of telecom giants. Finally I have applied again and have got a new unique porting number. I hope my number gets shifted now," he said. Amidst this open war, none of the companies is taking responsibility for the distress to consumers but they expressed the view that the new MNP advertisements are playing an important role in attracting fresh customers. According to GSM lobby COAI Director-General Rajan Mathews, technical glitches were bound to crop up in the first few weeks, especially considering the scale of the project. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has claimed that the entire process of switching operators will take a maximum of seven days and subscribers may face disruption of services for about two hours during that period. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is monitoring the whole MNP process and attending to complaints. It has warned service providers against deliberate delays and complaints regarding regulations. Who's calling? The advent of MNP has also added to the problem of unwanted telemarketing calls for clients. If you are getting calls from a customer care executive asking about your mobile network then the possibility is quite high that the call is not from your existing service provider but from a rival company which is trying to get your feedback and convince you to shift to its network. Vasundhara enclave resident Harsh Vardhan Singh who is using an Idea connection for last five years was taken aback when he got a call from a rival network. "I received a call from a mobile number and it seemed like a call from my home service provider. The caller asked me about my experiences and if I was facing any problems. Later the caller revealed that he was calling from a rival company and was offering a better tariff plan with promise of better service," he said.


Stepping up efforts for the release of a district collector and an engineer kidnapped by Maoists on Feb 16, the Orissa government on Monday resumed talks with the three mediators chosen by the guerrillas. State Home Secretary UN Behera and Panchayati Raj Secretary SN Tripathy began the second round of talks with the negotiators Dandapani Mohanty and academicians G Haragopal and R Someswar Rao in the state guest house. The talks which began on Sunday and went on for several hours remained inconclusive. The district collector of Malkangiri, R Vineel Krishna, and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi, were abducted by Maoists Feb 16 evening. The release may take some more time as a key rebel ideologue is still behind bars, a mediator said on Monday hours before the start of the second round discussion. G Haragopal said the talks with Maoists may linger because Ganti Prasadam, a Maoist ideologue, has not been released yet. According to sources, state police secured a prison transfer warrant from a court and have already brought Prasadam from a jail in Andhra Pradesh Saturday night. The issues being discussed include human rights violations, displacements by various development projects and tribals languishing in different jails on minor charges or sometimes even without any charge. The Maoists, in a letter to the government, listed their demands for the safe release of the hostages. These included halting of anti-Maoist operations by security forces, release of all political prisoners, the scrapping of accords with MNCs and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody.


Anti-regime protests spread closer to the Libyan capital today and new fighting erupted in the flashpoint city of Benghazi, as Human Rights Watch said it feared a catastrophe with more than 170 people dead in an iron-fisted crackdown. Libyan security forces clashed with anti-regime protesters in the Mediterranean city of Misrata. Demonstrators took to the streets there to support residents of second city Benghazi, 1,000 kilometres east of Tripoli, who have endured the brunt of a crackdown in eastern Libya. The security forces, backed by "African mercenaries," had shot into the crowds "without discrimination. In London, Human Rights Watch said at least 173 people had died since Tuesday. In eastern Libya, Islamist gunmen stormed a military depot and the nearby port of Derna on Wednesday and Friday and seized weapons and vehicles after killing four soldiers. Britain has deplored what it branded a "horrifying" crackdown, and US President Barack Obama has condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. France called the government response "unacceptable" and "totally disproportionate," and people in London and Cairo protested against Muammar Gaddafi who has ruled the oil-rich North African country for four decades. In the face of outside criticism, Libya warned Europe it would stop cooperating in the fight against illegal immigration if the European Union does not stop encouraging pro-democracy protests. Meanwhile, the son of Libya's strongman Muammar Gaddafi warned on Monday the country would be destroyed by civil war if protests end his father's rule, in a speech broadcast as bursts of gunfire broke out in Tripoli. The turbulence gripping the Arab world following the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia also spread to Morocco, where thousands rallied for change across the country. Gaddafi, 68, who renounced terrorism and declared in 2003 that he was giving up the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction to try to improve ties with the West, has made no public comment since the deadly protests erupted. The growing turmoil in Libya came as protesters set up more tents in the main square in Bahrain's capital, increasing the pressure on the Bahraini royal family to offer some real reforms.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Birdflu outbreak in Agartala due to virulent H5 strain


The birdflu outbreak in Agartala in Tripura has been confirmed to be the highly virulent H5 strain which if transmitted to humans can be deadly. The samples from Government Duck Farm, RK Nagar, Agartala, were sent to High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL), Bhopal and a government laboratory  in Kolkata for testing. The tests confirmed that the samples are positive for H5 strain of Avian Influenza, a senior Health Ministry official said.
According to experts, the H5 strain of bird flu is a highly virulent one and people's immune systems do not yet have any ability to recognise it, leaving humans extremely vulnerable to it.
Luckily, H5N1 is not adapted to human hosts and does not have the genes that would allow it to be passed easily from person to person. But evolution may change that.
The H5 and N1 represent forms of viral proteins that human bodies use to recognise and attack the virus. Some flu strains, such as H1N1, are relatively common in humans and many people's immune systems can recognise and attack these strains.
At least 3,000 poultry, including chickens and ducks, have been culled in Tripura to control further spread of birdflu from a government duck farm in Agartala.
The administration has also banned sale of any poultry in and around R K Nagar farm, six kms from the capital town.
Avian Influenza was first reported from Kamalpur, a sub-division in Dhalai district bordering Moulavi Bazar district of neighbouring Bangladesh in April 2008.
The Centre has stepped in to combat the problem and directed the state to cull the entire poultry within a radius of three km of the focus of infection.
The state government has been asked to furnish a daily report on the control and containment operations to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Centre has advised the state to ban movement of poultry and its products in the infected area, close poultry and egg markets and shops within a radius of 10 kms from the infected site, ban movement of farm personnel, restrict access to wild and stray birds and restrict access to the infected premises.
On compensation for loss of poultry on account of culling and destruction of birds, the Union government has told the state that it would be shared between the two on a 50:50 basis.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

J&K IPS officer forced to retire for fudging DoB


Jammu: An IPS officer has been forcefully retired by the Jammu and Kashmir government for allegedly fudging his date of birth, officials said here on Saturday.
The state government forcefully retired IG Security Farooq Ahmed on Friday after a panel, probing cases of senior police officers involved in fudging of birth certificates, has found that he had tampered with his date of birth to extend his services in the department, a senior official said.
Some more officers are under the scanner of the probe committee, set up by the state government, and they will also face the same action if found guilty, he said.
Farooq, a Kashmir Police Service (KPS) officer who was promoted to IPS cadre, had submitted a new DoB certificate to the department in which his date of birth was November 1951.
But the probe panel found that in the original certificate, his date of birth was February, 1949.
As per the guidelines, Farooq should had retired in February 1999 but he was still continuing in the office.
Farooq has served in various posts including IGP Kashmir, DIG Jammu, IG Security and IG CID.
ADG Gopal Reddy, currently serving as ADG Civil Defence, has now been made IG Security.
jammu and kashmir

Friday, February 18, 2011

Budget 2011: time to tackle black money


Mumbai: Budget 2011 may be a great time for the government to re-energise the tax settlement commission. Tax experts say that facilitating greater disclosures may help the government to fight against black money stashed abroad.
Exchange of information agreements seem to be a hot favourite for the Indian government, which is fighting against undisclosed money stashed abroad.
However, tax experts are a little skeptical about how effective these will be bringing in to the light money that has already been hidden.
Tax Markets Leader, Ernst & Young, Sudhir Kapadia, feels that the tax information exchange pacts is more likely will not require other countries to disclose information prospectively. "Going forward it will be very unusual for the other country to demand information from another country." said Kapadia.
Reviewing agreements with tax havens is not enough, they say. Nor is an outright amnesty scheme the best option. They point to the need to coax voluntary disclosures by reviewing existing domestic tax policy and mechanisms.
Tax lawyer HP Ranina said, "Currently, the law says that if you have tax evaded income, the penalty can go upto 300 per cent of the tax evaded. So one way to do it would be to reduce the penalty, considerably, make it attractive for people to make a disclosure and of course give them immunity from prosecution."
Tax experts add that developed nations have already used such schemes to good effect.
"Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and a few others as well have specifically targeted since the last two years, disclosure of offshore accounts held by their residents and citizens," Kapadia states.
This demand for alternative provisions gathers weight, given the fact that the settlement commission has not been effective in tackling tax evasion. And, Budget 2011 may be an ideal platform for the Finance Minister to push the envelope.

Lalgarh massacre: HC hands over case to CBI


New Delhi: Calcutta High Court on Friday instructed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to submit the investigation report in the Lalgarh's Netai village massacre case within fifteen days.
The Netai village massacre which took place on January 7, 2011 had claimed at least nine lives and had left many others injured. The massacre was allegedly carried out by CPI(M) cadres in Lalgarh. Crime Investigation Department (CID) was investigating the case and had announced rewards on the six accused who have been absconding in the case.
The Calcutta High Court also pulled up Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's government for insufficient progress in the Netai killing probe.The Court expressed disappointment that despite sufficient evidence, the CID failed to identify the Lalgarh CPI(M) local committee members, who were responsible for the carnage and that CPI(M) cadres were running two camps in Netai and Bikrar in Lalgarh.
Two suspects, Abani Singh and Ashwani Chalak, have been arrested in the case. The Calcutta High Court had pointed out that CID has failed to gather information about the other suspects in this case despite arrests and confession of Singh and Chalak. The court also told CID that the camps were being run by party orders and the department had failed to gather information on the source of arms, ammunitions and funds of the camp.
Earlier, the state government had submitted a report before the High Court stating that that out of the six accused in the case, five may have fled the state.

IAS abduction: CM asks more time from Maoists


Bhubaneswar: Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday appealed to the Maoists not to harm the Malkangiri district collector and an engineer they are holding captive and urged them to extend their deadline that lapses in the evening.
"We are in the process of trying to establish contact. My appeal to the concerned persons is the deadline of this evening be extended," Patnaik told reporters.
He also appealed to the abductors to not harm collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi, who were kidnapped Wednesday evening.
For the release of the hostages, the rebels, in a fresh wish list circulated through a section of the media, are demanding a halt to the anti-Maoist Operation Green Hunt, the release of all political prisoners, scrapping of pacts with MNCs and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody.
Their 48-hour deadline lapses on Friday evening.

Kidnapping industry in Manipur


The people in Manipur continue to suffer, as there is no end to the abductions for ransom by militants. On January 21, Khwairakpam Ibobi Singh, Senior Divisional Sales Manager of Indian Oil Corporation was abducted between Chingmeirong and Khonghampat area near Imphal when he was returning from the Chingmeirong oil depot.
The People’s Support Group, which is reportedly behind the abduction, has demanded a ransom of Rs 1 crore from Indian Oil Corporation for Singh’s safe release. “We kept trying his number after he went missing till someone took the call and confirmed that he had been abducted and was with them. They did not give proper information but demanded Rs 1 crore as ransom,” said Bijayanti Devi, the wife of the abducted official.
In another incident, the cadres belonging to the Karbi People’s Liberation Front abducted two drivers and handymen of LPG bullet tankers for a ransom. The outfit has demanded Rs 50 lakh for their safe release. The two drivers and handymen were abducted between Golaghat and Garampani in Assam.
“My husband is the only one who earns money for my family. Now I can’t even support my children. I am waiting for him to come back. But till now I don’t have any information about him,” said Boramani Devi, the wife of the abducted driver Arun. “I am worried about my son. We earn very little and these militants have done this to us. I want to request the concerned authorities to have pity on me. I want my son back safely,” added Sanahanbi Devi, the mother of abducted handyman.
The incident has provoked anger amongst other drivers, who staged a sit in protest outside the All Manipur Road Transport Drivers and Motor Workers’ Union’s office at Mantripukhri. The road transport association has already petitioned the Governments of Manipur and Assam for securing the release of the abducted drivers and their wish to ply trucks on NH-53 instead of NH-39. “We are scared to ply vehicles on NH-39 as militant groups attack us,” said Dilip Singh, Secretary, and Driver’s Union

Manipur’s insurgents sow loans, reap support


Intelligence sources have revealed that Manipur’s insurgent outfits are investing heavily in traditional micro-financing schemes. United National Liberation Front, the leading insurgent group in Manipur, has been on a loan-giving spree for the last five years. A substantial part of the banned outfit’s annual budget, prepared by professional accountants, goes towards the financing of micro-credit schemes, sources said.
Arrested UNLF chairman RK Meghen’s interrogation and documents recovered from him put the banned outfit’s budget at around Rs 58 crore.
As part of the scheme, R4,000-10,000 is loaned to unemployed local youth, who pay back R1 a day as interest. The loan is used to set up business enterprises such as shops or agricultural operations. As this provides the youth with gainful employment, their support and goodwill is utilised for protests and logistical help. The number of youth who have availed of this scheme has been pegged at about 3,000.
“With lack of governance, a certain vacuum exists which is being filled in by insurgents.  For insurgents, it is a win-win situation. They invest their money and also earn goodwill. The only loser is the government space,” said Prof Amar Yumnan from Manipur University.
manipur insurgetns
The unique traditional banking system called ‘marup’ is the dominant money-lending system in Manipur where banking penetration is very poor. 

“It is an open secret here. Insurgent outfits operate such schemes under a no-profit-no-loss system as it also helps them build a support base,” said a Manipuri local.

The micro-finance scheme was also conceived as a vital instrument for Operation Interface, devised by the outfit to involve sympathizers and intellectuals in raising the demand for a plebiscite.

A part of UNLF's budget goes to the payment of salaries. A UNLF cadre takes home a salary of about R4,000 every month. A substantial part goes into the buying of arms. Just across the border from Moreh is Tamuh, a small town in Myanmar, where arms and ammunition that are sold almost openly come quite cheap.


BJP scores 3 on 3, trinamool wins in manipur


The BJP has won all the three seats it contested in the just held by elections, the results for which were announced on Thursday. BJP leader and Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda won the Kharwan assembly poll by 17,366 votes against his closest rival, Krishna Gagrai of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajantarik), which was supported by the Congress. A Lok Sabha member from the Jamshedpur constituency, Munda will vacate the seat soon.
“It’s a victory of the masses,” the visibly relieved chief minister said.
The allies in the Jharkhand government, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the BJP, have 18 seats each in the 81 member assembly.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP wrested the Kukshi and Sonkutch assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh from the Congress.
This takes the BJP’s tally in the 231 member assembly to 146, and that of the Congress slips to 66.
In Kukshi, the BJP’s Mukam Singh Kirade won by 16,116 votes over his closest rival, Nisha Singhar of the Congress.
In Sonkutch, the BJP's Rajendra Verma trounced Congress's Arjun Verma by 18,953 votes.
In Manipur, a Trinamool Congress candidate was elected for the first time in the history of the state. The party's candidate, K Sarat, defeated his nearest rival and Congress contender, S Ranjan, by a margin of 655 votes in the by election to the Konthoujam assembly constituency in Manipur’s Imphal West district. Sarat got 9,592 votes and Ranjan 8,937.
The Congress, which is in power in the state, now has just 30 seats in the 60 member house. It is, however, supported by the CPI and the Nationalist Congress Party.


Friday, February 4, 2011

NASA discovers more planets outside solar system


New Delhi: NASA has found out more planets are two thousand light years away. We won't get there in our lifetimes. They're much larger than Earth, but need just a few days or months to complete an orbit. Which means they're closer to their star than Mercury is to our sun.
Planetary Scientist, Kepler Science Jack Lissauer says, "This is the most compact system of planets discovered by any technique, anywhere."
Kepler, NASA's space based telescope launched just two years ago has found more than one thousand two hundred planets outside our solar system so far.
The stars around us have a huge number of planets and candidates to look at. If we find that planets like earth are common, it very likely means that life is common around these stars.
A European team found a planet last year that is just twenty years away. It could support life. But it is unlikely that an intelligent alien is trying to contact us. After years of listening to radio signals, scientists haven't got a single message.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A zap to brain brings out the genius in you!


London: Ever wished you could have thought more laterally to solve a problem? Well, you will now be able to do so by using a new mind-boosting technology -- zapping your brain with mild electricity.
Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia have shown that a blast of gentle electrical current to the brain helps one discard preconceptions and think outside the box.
Donning such a "thinking cap", the scientists said, could help us solve infuriating problems from balancing budgets at work to cracking the final crossword clue, the Daily Mail reported.
For their study, the researchers recruited 60 university students happy to have a gentle electrical current passed through their brain in the name of science.
The young men and women were shown a series sums in which the numbers were replaced by Roman numerals made out of matchsticks. Each sum contained a mistake that could be corrected by moving just one matchstick.
After solving numerous problems containing the same sort of error, a weak current was passed through a region -- called the anterior temporal lobe -- which lies just in front of the ears.
The students were then given another set of matchstick problems to solve, this time with a different type of error.
Those who were zapped on the right side of the head did three times as well at solving the problems as the others, the researchers reported in the journal Plops ONE.
This is likely because the electricity boosted the activity of brain cells key to insight. In addition, the activity of the cells on the left side of the brain that we usually use to quickly process the familiar may have been
inhibited, the researchers said.
Professor Allan Synder said: "Our perceptions, memory, and decisions are based on filtered information. We view the world top down though concepts or mental templates which are built up from our past experience.
"These concepts are crucially important to our survival. They enable us to make rapid predictions about what is most likely, based on only partial information.
"But, this strategy leaves us susceptible to certain kinds of perceptual and cognitive errors -- from visual illusions to false memories and prejudice -- and it makes us inclined to connect the dots in ways that are familiar, rather
than to explore novel interpretations.
"Our findings are consistent with the theory that inhibition to the left anterior temporal lobe can lead to a cognitive style that is less influenced by mental templates and that the right anterior temporal lobe may be associated
with insight or novel meaning."
The technique, known as transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), could help with problems as varied as dyscalculia, or number blindness, stroke-related visual damage and compulsive gambling, the researchers said.
However, they warned that there is also potential to abuse it to zap people s brainpower.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Are you a criminal? Mumbai school asks parents


Mumbai: Do you have a PC at home? Are you the carrier of a life threatening disease? How big is your house? What car do you drive? Do you have your tax returns in place? And most importantly, do you have a criminal record? Before you dismiss these questions with a curt 'none of your business', know that answers to these snoopy, unrelated queries, or their variants, will determine if your child gets admission in a school.
And pushing the odd into the outlandish is Maneckji Cooper High School in Juhu, which just upped the ante. It is asking parents of prospective students to get a character certificate from Mumbai police, presumably so everybody can rest assured that children of hardened criminals are not running amok in the school.
The requirements put forth by schools, generally, for admissions have obviously struck as unnecessary and extraordinary, other than being plain weird, to parents.
mumbai school
Jayant Jain, president of the All India Federation of Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), said, "Many schools in the city have come up with such requests.
A school in south Mumbai recently asked a parent if they have a personal computer at home; another school in western suburbs had inquired of the size of the parents' flat, and even the type of vehicle they own, before allowing admission to their kid in kindergarten."
Jain continued, "Some schools have asked for even Income Tax returns, and a medical certificate of the parents and the child to ensure that they are not suffering from any life threatening diseases."
"We learn about such bizarre requests when distressed parents complain to us. Unfortunately, parents fear that writing to the education department against a school may mar the chances of their child's admission," said Jain.
Why the weirdness
Jain said that no government department or minister directly regulates kindergarten schools, they exploit the liberty, and in the process, harass the parents.
"The Right to Education act has clearly mentioned that no child can be screened while admission. Then screening parents seems far-fetched.
A child's admission cannot be decided on their parents' background. We get such complaints from parents several times, but they fear to approach department to lose admission in any other school," said Jain.
Maneckji's admission form states, "Parents should obtain a certificate from the Mumbai police confirming that there has never been and currently no criminal investigation, proceeding, conviction against the parents and a guardians, whose child is applying for admission."
The admission process in Maneckji Cooper School started last month. And parents were called for interviews. Said a parent applying there, "This is unfair. What if there are false allegations against a parent, should an innocent child suffer? Besides, it almost takes a month to get a certificate."
Officials speak
Pandurang Patil, deputy education officer, BMC, and head of city private schools, said, "It is totally unfair that the school is asking character certificate from the parents.
Since there is not any department that controls them they are doing anything they wish. But if complained to government of such practices they can take action on them.
Today itself, the government asked me for data on the number of legal pre-primary schools in the city. I am sure they are coming up with some solution."
Who's got the time?
Since Maneckji listed the new criterion, the Special Branch of the city police has been busier than usual.
According to police officials, everyday around 20 parents come asking for the character certificate, piling on to the heap of paper work the officials have to deal with daily.
Madhukar Gavit, additional commissioner of police, Special Branch, said, "This is the first time that parents have approached us for a character certificate for the admission of their child. Since it is our job, we have to provide them with one."
Maneckji asked for several other documents from parents for admission, like birth certificate, pan card, ration, recommendations from at least two known people, and so on.
The other side
An official from Maneckji Cooper High School said, "The character certificate is just for a routine check and nothing else. It is not mandatory. Parents can also submit it after getting the admission as it takes time to get the certificate."
Not just Mumbai
MiD Day had earlier reported ('Will you go veg for your child's admission', January 5) that Mahavir Model School in north Delhi has made it a criterion for parents to be austerely vegetarian and also keep away from cigarettes and alcohol. The same report mentioned another school in Mumbai Central had asked for a qualification certificate from parents for their child's admission in lower KG.

Raja arrest: what the CBI did for five months


New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested former telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja over an alleged telecoms scam linked to awarding mobile licences, in a move that could weaken the coalition government.
Raja's arrest comes months after the country’s apex court issued a notice on his alleged involvement in the 2G mobile spectrum scam and the opposition shut down parliament, demanding a joint inquiry into a government auditor's report that India potentially lost crores of rupees in revenue when ineligible firms were given lucrative telecoms licences cheaply in 2008.
A timeline of events leading up to the arrest of A Raja
a raja
September 13, 2010: Supreme Court issues notice to then Telecom Minister A Raja and the Centre on alleged irregularities in allocation of the 2G spectrum and asks for response on a petition seeking the court to monitor an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into irregularities in sale of licenses.
The bench also issues notices to the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department on the petition filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), an NGO, and others. The petitioners challenge the May 25 decision of the Delhi High Court dismissing its plea to monitor the CBI probe into the alleged role of the Union Communications Minister in the sale of 2G spectrum licences in 2008.
October 28, 2010: Raja refuses to resign from the Cabinet. Raja says he will not resign over the spectrum controversy as he followed his predecessors and decisions were taken in consultation with the Prime Minister and the approval of the Solicitor-General.
November 12, 2010: Opposition presses government to sack Raja. The
Opposition parties, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, demand the resignation of Raja, and say the "scam" should be investigated by a joint parliamentary committee. Raja, who belongs to the DMK party, an ally of the governing Congress party, says there is "no question" of his resigning.
November 13, 2010: CNN-IBN exposes CAG report on 2G scam. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked Telecom Minister A Raja to auction the 2G spectrum but the minister chose to ignore his advice. Raja has been claiming that the Prime Minister gave the go ahead to him. But documents with CNN-IBN nail another of Raja's lies. Three letters all exchanged on November 2, 2007 between the Prime Minister and Telecom Minister show just how concerned Singh was with Raja's actions.
November 13, 2010: Raja says former Telecom Secretary D S Mathur was part and parcel of all decisions on 2G spectrum allocation over which he is facing the heat from the opposition demanding his resignation. Mathur has claimed that he had recommended to Raja that spectrum be given through auction so that there can be transparency. Raja says suggestions on likely availability of spectrum were also useful in arriving at the cut-off date of September 25, 2007 for allocation of the airwaves. He does not, however, specify who made the suggestions.
Opposition stalls Parliament asking for a JPC probe in 2G scam
November 14, 2010: A Raja resigns from the Union Cabinet. Facing Opposition onslaught and after days of defiance, Raja finally submits his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the 2G spectrum scandal. The 57-year-old lawyer-politician, who got the coveted portfolio after the exit of Dayanidhi Maran in 2007 and retained it after the May, 2009 elections, drove to Prime Minister's residence to hand in his resignation.
November 16, 2010: The CAG report on 2G spectrum scam tabled in Parliament even as the opposition continues to demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the accusations against former Telecom Minister A Raja. Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha is adjourned soon after the report is tabled. CAG report will be taken up by Public Accounts Committee headed by MM Joshi, which has members from other parties too.
December 2, 2010: Supreme Court comes down heavily on Raja for 'bypassing' and even 'overruling' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's advice to defer the allocation of 2G spectrum by a few days. Apex court takes strong exception to the tone and tenor of Raja's letter to the prime minister, saying it amounted to showing 'disrespect' to the highest authority in the country.
December 7, 2010: CBI raids Raja and his aides. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) finds what it says were "incriminating documents" in raids on homes and offices of the former telecoms minister in connection with the country's biggest corruption scandal.
CBI agents search 14 locations across Delhi and Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court criticises the CBI for not questioning Raja in its year-long investigation despite him being at the centre of the inquiry.
December 24, 25, 2010: CBI questions A Raja for eight hours at the CBI headquarters in Delhi in connection to the 2G spectrum scam. After the questioning was over, Raja said he cooperated fully with the CBI. The CBI is looking for the money trail of 2G funds and linking the evidence to companies owned by Raja and friends.
January 31, 2011: The CBI questions A Raja for the third time in connection with the funding and allegedly showing favours to some telecom companies in granting 2G spectrum between October 2007 and 2008. Raja is called to CBI office and quizzed for nearly nine hours.
The DMK MP is asked about his conversations with corporate lobbiyst Niira Radia and the reasons of advancing the cut-off date of allocation of the spectrum in 2007. Raja is confronted with some documents recovered by the agency.
February 2, 2011: CBI arrests Raja in 2G spectrum scam case. CBI also nabs his personal secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behuria. Raja is arrested under sections 120B, 13(2), 13(1D) of Prevention of Corruption Act on the charges of criminal misconduct, violation of policies and favouring some specific companies during the grant of 2G spectrum licences.

Chinese agents offered missiles to NE rebels


Rebels in northeast were offered the purchase of surface to air missiles (SAMs) by agents - Indian intelligence believe - who had been working on behalf of the Chinese intelligence agencies. According to sources, the negotiations for the deal took place in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province of China, in December 2009. The agents had reportedly asked for $1 million for the missiles that included a package to train the rebels in the technical know-how for using them.
According to intelligence sources, Thabal, a top functionary of the United National Liberation Front of Manipur, had gone to Chengdu to procure arms and ammunition for his outfit and few other groups. During the negotiations an offer to sell the SAMs was put on the table. However, the deal fell through as the rebel groups could not arrange for the money.
This is the first time that intelligence agencies have got a confirmed report about a concrete offer from Chinese arms agents.
The intelligence agencies got evidence of Chinese involvement in the northeast after the arrest of Anthony Shimray, considered to be chief arms procurer for the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isaac-Muivah).
He was arrested in October this year after a coordinated intelligence operation. Currently, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is investigating the Shimray case.
Shimray, 50, had flown into Kathmandu in September this year. After reaching Kathmandu, he had crossed over to India through Nepal-Bihar border. Indian intelligence operatives, who had been trailing him, arrested him in Patna.
During his interrogation, NIA sleuths came across evidence that Shimray had deposited around $ 1.2 million in a Bangkok bank as advance payment for grenades, assault rifles and rocket launchers, which he was buying from a Chinese company fronting for their intelligence agencies.
It was also found that he had been in regular touch with Chinese intelligence operatives.

Pak, China and Iran not invited to Indian air show starting February 9


New Delhi, Feb 2(ANI): India has not invited Pakistan, China or Iran to South Asia’s biggest air show- Aero India 2011- which will witness participation of more than 60 countries in Bangalore next week.
Among the countries participating in the airshow are Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, Greece, France, Israel, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mongolia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Sri Lanka, UK, US, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Secretary Defence Production R K Singh said: "The list of invitees is drawn up in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs ( MEA).''''
"China was invited in previous Aero-India editions but they did not they probably were not invited this time....We go by the advise of MEA. Our relations with China are improving and we have no serious problems with Iran,'''' he added.
Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars since their independence from the British in 1947, have no military-to-military contacts.
Trade links in recent years have improved between India and China, who fought in 1962 but strategic ties are frosty as territorial disputes remain unresolved despite several rounds of negotiations.
The Defence Production Secretary did not comment on New Delhi’s decision to block Iran from the event.
Aero India 2011, which begins on February 9, has also invited a delegation from war-torn Afghanistan as part of India’s national policy to build better ties with the country.
“We have good cooperation with Afghanistan and so we are delighted it is sending a delegation to the airshow. We want such cooperation to grow,” Singh said.
About 350 official and trade delegations from 30 countries- including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Germany and the United States- will participate in the five-day event. (ANI)