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Newsletter. Issue 2008-14. July 05, 2008
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India News Clips

India`s poor paid over Rs 8000 mn as bribe in 2007`
Goa had high or very high or alarming level of corruption


New Delhi, June 30: The level of corruption is "alarming" in the states of Assam, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, says a new survey based on experience of Below Poverty Line (BPL) households in availing various public services last year.

The 'India Corruption Study 2007', brought out by NGOs Transparency International India (TII) and Centre for Media Studies (CMS), found that about one-third of Below Poverty Line (BPL) households in the country bribed officials to avail a total of 11 services -- from police to PDS.

According to the survey, which covered 22,728 households in all states and Union Territories, Rs 8,830 million, in all, was estimated to be paid as bribe by BPL households last year.  The report grouped states into four levels on extent of corruption -- alarming, very high, high and moderate.

While five states come into the "alarming" category, the corruption level is "moderate" in states like Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana and West Bengal, the survey found.  Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu fall into the "very high" group, according to the report that took into account corruption experienced by poor families while availing basic services like PDS, hospital, electricity and water supply as also need-based services like land records and registration, housing, banking and police service.

Among the smaller states and UTs, in Nagaland and Goa, most of the 11 services had high or very high or alarming level of corruption whereas it was moderate in Chandigarh and Tripura.


Life term for Indian-origin man in U.S.

Washington: A businessman of Indian origin in the U.S. has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for hiring hitmen to kill his son’s black wife as he was enraged at the inter-racial marriage. Prosecution had sought the death penalty for Chiman Rai, 69, for paying two men $10,000 to kill Sparkle Michelle Rai, an African American, in April 2000, weeks after her marriage to his son Rajeev Rai, alias Ricky, with whom she had a daughter. The 22-year-old was found strangled and stabbed more than a dozen times at the couple’s apartment. Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before delivering the verdict in an Atlanta area courtroom in Georgia this week. — PTI


Canadian Multinational, Magna to open fourth factory in India
The Gazette

Magna International Inc., North America's largest auto-parts supplier, plans to open a fourth factory in India to boost sales in Asia. The parts maker will open a factory in Pune next year to make power-train parts for an Indian car marker, Jim Tobin, president of Magna Asia, said, Sales in the region may rise to about 10 per cent of Magna's annual revenue by 2010, Tobin said.


Now Even Elephants are Ghatis and moving to Goa !
Karnataka stuck in a jumbo row

28 Jun 2008, 0600 hrs IST,
Vinay Madhav,TNN

BANGALORE: These innocent migrants from Karnataka which move into Maharashtra and Goa wouldn't have thought they would be triggering a new border row. Karnataka, which already has disputes with these two states over language, place and water, now has to tackle the jumbo row.

Maharashtra and Goa are holding Karnataka accountable for the elephant migration. They claim their crops are being damaged and want Karnataka to control the pachyderms. The problem has assumed such serious proportions that a series of high-level official meetings have taken place between Karnataka and Maharashtra. Six months ago, Maharashtra additional chief secretary held a meeting with then Karnataka forest secretary Sudhakar Rao.

The jumbo problem began two years ago when elephants in the forests of Khanapur in Belgaum district found in Goa a new destination. For reasons best known to them, they crossed into Goa via Kolhapur. Forest officials said as the direct route to Goa is very steep, the elephants may be taking a detour. On the way, elephants pass through farmlands, damaging crop. This has irked Maharashtra. On the other hand, Goa has a different problem: it has little exposure to these giants and people are curious to see them, even if it means risking an attack.

Every time elephants move into Goa, the government seeks Karnataka's help to drive them back. But Maharashtra thought of digging elephant-proof trenches at Kanakumbi in Khanapur region, from where elephants usually cross the border. Says chief wildlife warden Indu B Srivatsava: "We admit there is a row over elephants. Elephants are migratory animals and don't understand the border issues. Even now, a herd of elephants has reached Goa and their government is seeking our help. We're trying to ensure that people and crops are not harmed when we drive the elephants back home. A senior officer and member of Maharashtra project elephant will visit Bangalore in a day or two to discuss the problem."

Tailpiece: Politicians from Kolhapur region accuse Karnataka of deliberately driving the elephants into their area.


Maruti Brushes Aside Nano Competition
28 Jun 2008, 1613 hrs IST,PTI

NEW DELHI: As Tata Motors gears up to roll out Nano by Durga Puja, country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki is confident that the Rs 1 lakh wonder will be of no competition to it.

"It (Nano) increases the market size but it will not cut into the market of people who are buying cars that are in the Rs two-lakh price category. A person who buys a car for Rs two lakh, I believe that there will be very few people who will buy this (Nano) car. It is a new segment," Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R C Bhargava said in an interview. He said people who could not buy Maruti 800 would buy Nano as the price difference was huge. Bhargava said more than the existing entry level cars, Nano will affect the two wheelers.

Casting doubts over maintaining the Rs one lakh tag in the wake of rising steel prices and other input costs, Bhargava said: "The one lakh price will be difficult to maintain." Asked if MSI planned to come out with a competitor to Nano, he said: "Let me make it clear that there is no plan to develop a one-lakh car at Maruti."

Commenting on the changes in MSI after government exited the company with Suzuki becoming the majority shareholder, Bhargava said: "It has does affect the style of the management."


Battery Makers See New Market In Electric Scooter Segment
June 19th, 2008

Chennai, June 19 (IANS) Battery manufacturers have begun working on products tailor-made for India’s nascent electric scooter segment. “There is a huge interest in developing batteries for electric two-wheelers as this sector is expected to take off in three years,” S. Vijayanand, research and development vice-president at Amara Raja Batteries Ltd, told IANS. “We are working with Johnson Controls, our joint venture partner, for a suitable product.”

According to him, a sales volume of 300,000 electric scooters per year should enthuse battery manufacturers to start catering to this segment. “At that volume, there will be a demand for one million units of traction batteries. The replacement market will give us good volumes,” he added. But Vijayanand said battery manufacturers faced a challenge: they had to increase the power of products to ensure a single charge gave longer travel distance. “The expectation is that the range should be 40 kilometres per charge and the battery life should be 12 months, trouble-free,” he said.

According to an industry official, an electric scooter makes economic sense for a buyer only if the battery life is increased to two and half years. But electric scooter companies say the average life of battery is currently around one and half years, after which it has to be replaced. A battery today costs upwards of Rs.6,000, as there is no domestic manufacturer of traction batteries, a vital component of an electric scooter.

Compared to the conventional scooters made of steel and featuring more components, an electric scooter is made of plastic and has just two major components - battery and motor.

However, electric scooters cost almost the same as the conventional ones, giving rise to the perception that sellers are adopting a “skim the market” pricing strategy. But Avinash Bhandari, director of operations at electric scooter manufacturer Electrotherm, contested the claim that these vehicles were priced too high. “In an electric scooter, the motor is the engine and the battery is the fuel tank. We provide the vehicle with fuel for one and half years. People should understand this,” he told IANS.

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