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Singh

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Duty-free import regime ushered for 2,202 items from Singapore

Boosting trade

The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore came into effect in August 2005

Bilateral trade increased from about $3.6 billion in 2005 to $19.11 billion in 2008

K. R. Srivats

New Delhi, June 23 India has knocked off import duties on 2,202 items as part of its tariff elimination commitments under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore.

The 2,202 items on which tariffs have now been eliminated include sail boats, ships, trawlers and fishing vessels, dredgers, golf clubs, wrist watch, wall clocks, percussion instruments, musical keyboards, flutes, ultrasound scanners, aircraft parts, optical fibre, helicopters, railway coaches, instant print film, photographic paper, new tyres for aircraft, used tyres, ice-cream, pasta, and fish.

Ever since the CECA came into effect in August 2005, the rupee has depreciated about 30 per cent against the Singapore dollar, making imports into India costlier. This may to an extent nullify the advantages of tariff removal on these products.

The CECA with Singapore was India’s first comprehensive agreement with a trade partner. The bilateral merchandise trade has seen a near five-fold increase in the three years post-CECA from about $3.6 billion in 2005 to $19.11 billion in 2008.

Meeting its other commitment under the CECA, the Centre has reduced tariffs on 2,413 items. These can now be imported into India at tariff equivalent to 50 per cent of the most favoured nation (MFN) applied rate, according to Finance Ministry sources.

As for the 539 additional items, mostly manufactured products, on which India had taken newer tariff liberalisation commitments in December 2007, the Finance Ministry has now taken the next step by slashing import tariffs.

Of the 539 tariff lines, tariff elimination is to be achieved in five equal cuts between January 15, 2008 and December 1, 2011 for 307 items. The 307 items are mainly articles of base metals, machinery and mechanical appliances, chemicals, and textiles and textile articles.

For another 97 products, the tariff elimination is to be achieved in nine equal cuts between January 15, 2008 and December 1, 2015. These 97 items comprise mainly machinery and mechanical appliances, plastic and rubber articles and textile items.

For 135 products, the tariff reduction to five per cent duty is to be achieved in nine equal cuts between January 15, 2008 and December 1, 2015.

The Hindu Business Line : Duty-free import regime ushered for 2,202 items from Singapore
 

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India, Malaysia propose joint education ventures

SINGAPORE: India and Malaysia will explore the possibilities of setting up joint ventures in education. As a first step, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Union Human Resource and Development Minister Kapil Sibal agreed on Thursday to set up a working group to outline the prospects.

The initiative figured prominently in their talks, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Education Ministers’ conference in Kuala Lumpur. India’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ashok K. Kantha, participated in the discussions.
Collaboration

Mr. Sibal later said over telephone that specialised education, skills development, distance learning and other areas like bridging the digital divide could be considered for joint ventures with different business models. The collaborative idea could be traced to Malaysia’s move to emerge as an international educational hub and India’s strengths in higher and high-tech education.

Asked whether the proposal was to limit the scope of collaboration to India and Malaysia, he hinted that the option of having other partner-countries was not ruled out.

The joint venture idea should also be seen in the context of an estimated 160,000 Indians now pursuing education abroad. Of them, nearly 90,000 are in Australia.
Student security

The issue of safety of Indian students in Australia was discussed between officials of the two countries on the margins of the conference. Student security was, however, not on the formal agenda of this Commonwealth meeting.

A seminar on distance education was inaugurated by Mr. Sibal to project India’s expertise on the Commonwealth stage. He also officiated at the soft-launch of ‘India Education Fair 2009’, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday and Sunday.

The Hindu : International : India, Malaysia propose joint education ventures
 

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

By RAJEEV MANTRI

The reports of the death of globalization have been greatly exaggerated, if investing trends in venture capital qualify as a compass for the future. According to a survey released June 10 by the U.S.-based National Venture Capital Association, half of the venture capitalists said they would increase investments in China and other Asian countries over the next three years, while 43% of those surveyed said they would invest more in India. (see the survey here)

Just 17% said North America would see more VC investment. A large number of VCs also expect an upswing in venture fund backers, usually financial institutions and wealthy individuals, coming from abroad. The overarching trend is clearly towards global investing.

Perhaps reflecting how the rest of the world views Asia, the survey has interesting choice architecture: India has been given a separate standing, while China and the rest of Asia are lumped together. It could have been the other way round, but isn't. Putting aside compelling arguments derived from history and culture, the distinction also reflects the different economic growth models adopted by India on one side and the Asian tigers and China on the other.

Since Deng Xiaoping ushered in socialism with Chinese characteristics, Asia's dragon has established itself as the epicenter of global manufacturing, winning accolades for its efficient factories and seamless infrastructure. In the 1980s, the rise and dominance of Japan was conventional wisdom, and China didn't really dominate the public discourse. The Chinese state, rather than the citizenry, has catalyzed this transformation, driven by massive public investment.

India's development has been more organic, with entrepreneurs usually growing their businesses despite the government rather than because of it. The founder-CEO of a leading India-based power equipment manufacturer once recounted to me how the government hindered his business and powerful bureaucrats extracted rents every step of the way, from the stage where the product left the factory in trucks to the point where it was loaded into containers at ports. The process made a business manager a "pehelwan" or a strong wrestler able to deal with any eventuality, he said. In China, he added, the government assists rather than hinders enterprise.

Indian entrepreneurs have to beat their competitors and deal with a government that is not the most enterprise-friendly. In an almost Hayekian way, some of India's self-created barriers to entrepreneurship have made Indians entrepreneurs that much more hardy and competitive, mirroring the aspirational urge of India's people.

Besides offering a large labor force of English-speaking people and a democratic system, India is also far more capital efficient than China. Since the early 1990s, India has invested about 25% of GDP and obtained an average GDP growth rate of about 6%, while China has invested over 50% of GDP and obtained an average growth rate of 9%.

India is a better capital allocator, requiring four units of capital to generate one unit of output, while China consumes about 5 units of capital to generate 1 unit of output. As economist Niranjan Rajadhyaksha puts it, capital efficiency is the reason why India has "few good roads but many world-class companies."

For investors, return on invested capital is the metric to watch, and India widely outperforms China on this metric. To make itself an even more attractive investment destination, India has also started taking steps to reform higher education, a key ingredient to drive economic growth through technology and innovation.

China has invested relentlessly in education over the last three decades, and the seed for change was sown by Deng Xiaoping himself, who resumed in 1977 the Gao Kao entrance examination system suspended by Chairman Mao. University student enrollment has grown nearly 50% and the number of universities has doubled since 2002. In the meantime, India has only succeeded in creating special interest groups competing for admission into premier colleges based on identity rather than merit, and starved its citizens of world-class universities to the point that more Indian youth study abroad than any other nation.

Education Minister Kapil Sibal has spoken at length on re-organizing the higher-education institutional framework at all levels and reducing government control on education. He sounds like he means business.

From purely a development standpoint, India needs more investment from abroad in the form of both foreign direct investment and venture capital than China does. Global investors are eager, and Indian entrepreneurs have demonstrated that they are a cut above the rest. It's now up to the state to ensure that it doesn't fritter away the merit of the Indian entrepreneur.

The crouching tiger might spring a surprise.
 

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

By RAJEEV MANTRI

India has invested about 25% of GDP and obtained an average GDP growth rate of about 6%, while China has invested over 50% of GDP and obtained an average growth rate of 9%.
I agree with everything except for this. There are no indications that GDP investment has a linear relationship with 9%. I am not sure, but it could as well be an exponential relationship.
 

Daredevil

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The author clearly states the advantages of India over China when it comes to Return on Investment and how Indian economy is entrepreneur driven while on the other hand the Chinese economy is state-driven. The day when Indian state decides to give the same helping hand that the Chinese state gives to its businesses, that day will be the day "Crouching Tiger catches the balls of Hidden Dragon":D. It will no longer be hidden, but a sulking dragon.
 

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I agree with everything except for this. There are no indications that GDP investment has a linear relationship with 9%. I am not sure, but it could as well be an exponential relationship.

There is no singular relationship between 'Investment' (Government or private) and GDP growth. The literature remains divided on the issue, and the relationship is contingent upon the economic framework. Vector autoregression techniques that adhere to predetermined government spending within the fiscal quarter for instance find a semi-linear relationship between government spending and GDP via an impetus to consumption, hours and the real wage (or labour productivity). The Ramey-Shapiro narrative, on the other hand, finds that while there is granger-causality with ambivalent relationship between Government spending and GDP, the former reduces Consumption and the real wage. The neo-classical model suggests that a permanent, sustained increase in Government spending financed by non-distortionary methods accounts for an increase in Consumption and Labour Supply by creating a temporal negative-wealth effect for the household. The result is a multivariate granger-causality effect on GDP; with output, the marginal product of K and the real wage increasing in the short run; and the higher MPK contributing to greater investment and capital accumulation in the long run. In the new steady state, consumption is lower, wages are higher, and so is output. A temporary expansion of Government spending however has an even more equivocal effect, as the wealth effect on the representative household is more marginal and investments can either wax or wane contingent upon the persistence of the spending shock.

A key variable in this whole equation however is timing. Large military or infrastructural purchases under the Ramey-Shapiro approach are anticipated several quarters prior to injection, so that a greater (exponential) increase in output is witnessed in response to the "anticipation effect". Controlling for a multivariate, vector autoregressive context, with appropriate orthogonalization of the shocks which drive the various components of GDP, delayed dates in the empiricist Ramey-Shapiro approach produce key Keynesian results: larger Government spending multipliers in the antecedent Keynesian model, and smaller, semi-linear stimuli (estimated at one sixth of gross injection) to GDP and aggregate employment under the alternative, 'new' Keynesian model.

With regards to Foreign Direct Investment, the largest component of investment in transition economies such as ours, FDI investment is usually matched locally on a per pop- or greater- basis, by domestic investment. However, the multiplier, contingent upon the marginal propensity to consume and the marginal propensity to save, has been demonstrated by empiricist abstractions to be significantly larger than the percentage increase in Investment. The argument is that FDI has a positive growth effect when the country has a large, educated workforce that allows it to exploit FDI spillovers like technology infusion (Borenzstein) ; or that FDI promotes economic growth exponentially in sufficiently developed financial markets (Alfaro et al) or that economic growth via an expansion of FDI is a function of trade-openness (Bala Subramaniyam, Salisu and Sapsford). Take these with a pinch of salt, the existing studies do not account for lagged-dependant variables, growth regressions, country-specific effects or the simultaneity bias. Some relationship does exist between GDP and Investment - it would be absurd not to, but it would be spasmodic at best.

However the article makes no comment on the nature of the effect, only that one exists, and with such large marginal differences, capital efficiency is indeed something to ponder about. If the relationship is exponential (deducing from no granger-causality Keynesian and other methods), it gives you greater cause to ponder your capital efficiency. If it is not, or is semi-linear, it still....gives you cause to ponder your capital-efficiency, albeit to a lesser extent.
 

thakur_ritesh

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some excellent points there rage, really enjoyed reading the post. an interesting article on saving and investment rate in india, how it all evolved over the years. till last fiscal the saving rate was at 37.5% and investment rate was over 40% of the gdp, which has for the present fiscal slightly reduced. though an old article but i am sure you guys will enjoy reading it.

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BBC NEWS | South Asia | Phenomenal rise of India's savings

By Kaushik Basu
Professor of economics, Cornell University

Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK

One economic variable that eludes popular attention but is arguably the most important indicator of an economy's long-term health is the savings rate.

A nation's savings rate or investment rate - the two are usually closely aligned - is the fraction of the nation's total income that is saved or invested.

In India, amid all the news of the dogged rise of the nation's foreign currency reserves, the obduracy of inflation, and the waxing and waning of the Sensex (not to mention Shilpa Shetty's moods), what has gone unnoticed is the phenomenal rise of the savings and investment rates.

These now stand at 32% and 34%, respectively.

Through the 1970s and 1980s observers around the world marvelled at the surging growth of the East Asian nations and the fact that each one of them saved more than 30% of their national income.

Since virtually no other nation saved and invested at such high rates, a 30-plus savings rate was considered an exclusively East Asian phenomenon.

Economic theory had long taught us that savings and growth are closely connected. But it is not easy to deliberately raise a nation's savings rate.

Up to the late 1960s India's savings rate remained below 15%. It rose to just over 20% by the late 1970s and thereafter remained between 20% and 24% up until two or three years ago.

The savings sprint over the last three years, which puts India in the East Asian category, is, at the same time, the most unexpected and most important change that has occurred in the economy in recent times.

Unknown cause

It gives reason to believe that the high growth of over 8% per annum of the national income is sustainable.

What caused this change? For the rise that occurred between 1969 and 1979 it is reasonable to hazard that the cause was the founding of the Unit Trust of India in 1964 and the sharp rise in the number of bank branches following the nationalisation of banks in 1969.

At that time there were around 9,000 branches in India; this rose to over 38,000 by 1981. Ordinary folks, who previously had no place to keep their savings, came out in large numbers to save in units, banks and post offices.

The savings rate rise of the last three years is too recent for us to be sure of the cause.

But some insight can be gleaned from the break-up of the total savings.

Over the last few years, household savings have undergone some changes in composition - people are putting more of their money in financial assets than physical assets.

But aggregate household savings have increased upwards only at a glacial pace.

Interesting things have however happened to the state sector. By the late 1990s the public sector had become a net "dis-saver".

Trustworthy nations

That is, it consumed more than it earned. But it managed to put its house in order by 2003, and now has a small positive savings rate of 2% of the national income.

The real gain, however, has come from the corporate sector, which has doubled its savings rate, from just under 4% in 2001 to over 8% in 2005. Hence, the improvement in aggregate savings in India is probably caused by a combination of better fiscal management and bullishness in the corporate sector.

Unlike stock market indicators or the rate of inflation, the savings rate does not fluctuate too much. Hence, barring some calamitous change, our savings rate should not drop below 30% for some years to come.

But I have another reason for being optimistic. What economists do not realise is that a large part of a nation's economic performance depends on social and cultural factors. Francis Fukuyama had argued that more trustworthy nations tend to do better in the long run.

This stands to reason. One cannot rely on the courts to enforce every contract and every promise. So when we want to offer a business deal or a trade pact, we look for people who are known to be honest and trustworthy.

East Asians are reputed for their trustworthiness; it is not surprising that investment flows into East Asia.

From the point of view of an individual, honesty is partly an in-built trait, but it is also in some measure a matter of choice. If we are interested only in the short run, we would not hesitate to ditch a business partner in order to make a quick buck.

On the other hand, as our horizon becomes longer, we are more willing to forego short-term gains for the sake of long-run reputation. In other words, it is worthwhile for us to make "investments" in our reputation.

Some of the same factors that make us invest and save more, make us want to be more dependable and trustworthy.

I cannot provide statistical evidence for this, but my hunch is that in India both these processes have been set in motion and the high growth that we are witnessing now is an outcome of increases in both these economic and social investments.

-------------------

While the burgeoning foreign investment –both direct and portfolio investment –did play a role, the rise in investment was largely domestic financed. From a low of 23.6% in FY02, India’s savings rate jumped to a record high of nearly 38% in FY08.

What caused this surge in savings? The answer lies buried in the balance sheets of India Inc and their public sector counterparts. Help also came from declining fiscal deficit, both at the centre and state levels. Between FY02 and FY08, the combined gross saving rate of the two sectors jumped from 1.62% of GDP to 13.3%.

During the same period, the household sector savings rate remained stagnant at around 24% of the GDP. In FY08, total savings of the private corporate sector amounted to 9% of India’s GDP or Rs 4,16,000 crore. In FY08, for instance, the total public sector savings accounted for 4.5% of the GDP or little over Rs 200,000 crore at current prices.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/India-investment-boom-under-threat/articleshow/4685499.cms
 
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After China, Brazil Eyes Non-US Dollar Trade With India

Article - WSJ.com

After China, Brazil Eyes Non-Dlr Trade With India

SAO PAULO (Dow Jones)--Brazil is considering using its own currency when conducting trade with India, the local Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper said Monday.

Central Bank President Henrique Meirelles met with Indian banking officials in Europe at the Bank for International Settlements meeting over the weekend to discuss the move away from the dollar in trade between the nations, Estado reported.

Brazil and China are also conducting studies on how to shed the dollar in trade, according to Estado.

A move away from the dollar could eventually do away with currency volatility. Although the dollar is considered the benchmark currency for trade and commodities pricing, many Brazilian companies have lost hundreds of millions over the last two years due to dollar weakness.

-By Kenneth Rapoza, Dow Jones Newswires, 5511-2847-4541, [email protected]
 

johnee

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How would it affect us if we trade in non-dollar currency? What are the geo-political implications? And also economic implications? Also what are the likely longterm and shortterm implications?
 

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Gulf region will export solar energy: IRENA

Gulf region will export solar energy: IRENA

Dubai (PTI): The UAE and Gulf region are in a position to harness and eventually export solar energy, a top official of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has said.

Helene Pelosse, the newly elected interim director-general of IRENA, said that UAE has a commitment to generate 7 per cent renewable energy.

"The Emirates is leading the movement (in the region) but I think the others might join them pretty soon, because the sun is going to be tomorrow's oil. We have 40 years of reserve of oil (globally) so we need to prepare for the future," Pelosse said in the interview to Gulf News.

Pelosse added that the Gulf region might soon stop exporting oil before it is over as the concentration will be focussed on developing renewable sources of energy like solar power and wind power.

She noted that unlike a lot of other nations the Gulf region has the advantage of space in form of its deserts to build plants for renewable sources of energy.

"It's very difficult to build concentrated solar plants in France, for example, because we have a space issue.

You cannot build them in any part of the world. You need special weather. The Gulf region is just blessed with that," Pelosse added.

The Hindu News Update Service
 

EnlightenedMonk

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A good idea, but wouldn't the laying of cables and wires to transmit large quantities of solar energy to consuming regions like India, China and the EU be ??

1. Prohibitively Expensive
2. Cause large amounts of losses during transmission ???
 

indian_sukhoi

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Thats a good start!!!

Even our country was doing research on Energy in future.
 

ZOOM

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Good initiative by Gulf countries indeed, we have 5th biggest Wind turbine maker in the world Suzlon who can certainly make gold of this opportunity.
 

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Russia, China to push global currency at G8 summit

Russia, China to push global currency at G8 summit
Tue Jul 7, 2009 4:39pm EDT

ROME (Reuters) - China, Russia and Brazil will use this week's G8 summit in Italy to push their view that the world needs to think about a new global reserve currency as an alternative to the dollar, officials said on Tuesday.

As leaders of the Group of Eight rich nations and the major developing powers traveled to Italy for a three-day summit starting on Wednesday, it seemed unlikely the currency debate would get a specific mention in summit documents.

But both G8 member Russia and emerging power Brazil -- which like China and India is a member of the "G5" that joins the second day of the summit on Thursday -- echoed China's calls for the currency debate to be taken up by world leaders.

Top Kremlin economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich said China and Russia would "state their stance that the global currency system needs smooth evolutionary development."

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva said he was keen to explore "the possibility of new trade relations not dependent on the dollar" [ID:nPAB007772] and India has also said it is open to the debate.

But G8 members Germany, France and Canada played down talk of the summit including a detailed currency discussion. A source at President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said the G8 was "generally not the forum ... for discussing currency exchange rates."

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said on Monday the dollar was likely to remain the global reserve currency but the Chinese yuan and the euro would slowly gain in significance.

The debate is highly sensitive in financial markets, which are wary of risks to U.S. asset values. China and other nations promoting the debate take care to avoid undermining the dollar, which Lula said would be vital "for decades" to come.

The case of China, which has up to 70 percent of its $1.95 trillion in official currency reserves in the dollar, underlines the fact that the dollar is still the most important reserve currency.

But China believes over-reliance on the dollar has exacerbated the financial crisis and sees the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights (SDRs), based on a basket of currencies, as a viable alternative for the future.

G8 URGED TO ACT ON POVERTY

Italy's keenness to avoid a repeat of the riots and police brutality that marred the 2001 G8 in Genoa meant security was tight around the earthquake-stricken mountain town of L'Aquila, where leaders will sleep in an austere police training school.

Police arrested 10 people including five French citizens in L'Aquila found with clubs and sticks in their vehicle. In Rome small groups of student protesters clashed with police.

"We want to demonstrate once again against what the G8 represents," said a student giving her name as Maria Teresa.

Pope Benedict issued a document to coincide with the G8, urging leaders to impose tough rules on the financial system.

In the encylical, he called for "a true world political authority ... to manage the global economy" and avoid more "abuse" of the free market.

With nine African leaders attending the summit, the United States could pledge $3-4 billion for agricultural development in poor nations, which it wants matched by its partners for a total commitment of $15 billion, according to a G8 draft declaration.

PROGRESS ON CLIMATE, TRADE

The G8 talks open with discussion of the economic crisis. Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is eager to transmit optimism, though his credibility as host is undermined by a prostitution scandal, a poor record on aid and his reputation for diplomatic gaffes.

However, it did look possible that the L'Aquila summit could produce breakthroughs on climate change and trade.

A draft communique suggested the G8 and G5 would agree to conclude the stalled Doha round of trade talks in 2010. Launched in 2001 to help poor countries prosper through trade, Doha has stumbled on proposals to cut tariffs and subsidies.

With an eye on December's U.N. climate change summit in Copenhagen seeing a replacement for the 1997 Kyoto pact, leaders will also try to narrow differences over cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and funding for low carbon technology.

They are likely to agree to a goal to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times and strengthen last year's vague "vision" of halving global carbon emissions by 2050.

If also adopted by the 17-member Major Economies Forum talks chaired on Thursday by U.S. President Barack Obama at his first G8 summit, this would be major progress as India and China have so far refused to accept the 2050 target.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaux across the world; writing by Stephen Brown; editing by Crispian Balmer and Ralph Boulton)

Russia, China to push global currency at G8 summit | International | Reuters
 

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WORLD economy

Turkey, EU countries sign gas pipeline deal

ANKARA (AP): Turkey and five European Union countries have signed an agreement to reduce Europe's reliance on Russian gas.

The prime ministers of Turkey, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary signed the deal on Monday to allow the Nabucco pipeline to cross their countries. It will be built by a private consortium.

Iraq, Egypt and Syria say they are ready to provide gas to the project, which is nevertheless unlikely to free Europe entirely from its dependence on Russian supplies. In fact, it may even need some supplies from Russia to fill its 31 billion cubic meters of capacity.

The Nabucco is mainly designed to diversify suppliers by directly linking Europe to gas resources in Central Asia and the Middle East.

The Hindu News Update Service
 
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DreamWorks Raises $825M; India's Ambani Takes 50% Stake

http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2009/07/15/dreamworks-raises-$825m;-india%2526%2523039;s-ambani-takes-50%25-stake

DreamWorks Raises $825M; India's Ambani Takes 50% Stake


Los Angeles - Indian billionaire Anil Dhirubhai Ambani has paid $325 million for a 50% stake in DreamWorks, director Steven Spielberg's film studio. DreamWorks has raised a total of $825 million, including $150 million from Disney, and debt from a number of banks.

Ambani's Reliance Big Entertainment (RBE) has also invested hundreds of millions in U.S. studios headed by actors Jim Carrey, George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Ambani also has holdings in the telecom and financial services industries.

"This is a game changer, thrusting India to the center of global film industry. And with this, we become the first transnational entertainment company out of India," RBE chairman Amit Khanna told contentSutra.

"We will participate in future rounds of fundraising in the same debt-equity proportion as and when funds are needed for film projects."

With the new financing, DreamWorks, whose films include "Shrek" and "Transformers," aims to produce 5-6 movies per year.
 
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Steven Spielberg May Get $825 million, Including $325 million from India's Anil Ambani. - BusinessWeek


Steven Spielberg May Get $825 million, Including $325 million from India's Anil Ambani.

Posted by: Mehul Srivastava on July 16

The unlikely partnership between Anil Ambani, of India’s Reliance- ADAG empire, and Steven Spielberg, the Hollywood director and DreamWorks studio head, finally took form July 16, with Ambani, Walt Disney and JP Morgan announcing the possibility that they may fork over at least $825 million to Spielberg.

And no, Spielberg won’t be making Bollywood masala films. Instead, this huge chunk of change will allow DreamWorks to finance Spielberg’s penchant for expensive box office hits. Since DreamWorks broke up its relationship with Viacom’s Paramount Pictures in late 2008, the studio hasn’t released a single film, but has been working on some.

Now, Spielberg could produce as many as 8 films from the money, and Indian newspapers were rife with speculations about the plots. A secret-service-kidnapped president drama, asked the Times of India? Another Close Encounters of The Third Kind?

Of course, the normal caveats apply, Reliance Big Entertainment’s CEO, Amit Khanna, said in a conference call with reporters. The deal is not final, the number is open to change, but most likely go upwards, since Reliance had originally agreed to match Spielberg’s fundraising up to $550 million. Right now, Ambani will put in $325 million to match the $325 million that JP Morgan and other banks are putting up. Disney’s $150 million gives it the worldwide distribution rights for any films produced with this money, except for India, where Reliance will own all domestic rights.

India’s embrace of Hollywood has been more enthusiastic than the United State’s taste for Bollywood fare. In 2007, the Hindi-dubbed version of Spiderman 3 was the largest grossing film in India, but Indian films with western actors (Sylvester Stallone showed up in one, Denise Richards in another) haven’t done well overseas. Warner Bros went the other way – producing Indian films for Indian audiences, and has had mixed success – it’s 2008 marquee attempt, Chandni Chowk to China (a reference to a famous market in Delhi), a potboiler comedy that combined all the crowd-pleasing elements of lighter Bollywood fare – twins separated at birth, a poor hero dreaming of a big break, comedy, action and a torrid romance – didn’t do that well, even with two of India’s biggest film stars in the lead roles.

It makes sense for Reliance to go in the other direction; Indian box office receipts will be about $4 billion in 2012, whereas U.S. box office sales in 2008 were twice that, according to the National Association of Theater Owners.

The Ambani-Spielberg saga has been long in the making. Spielberg’s frustrations with Paramount and his long-drawn-out escape from his contract was made possible by Ambani’s decision to consider funding future movies for DreamWorks.

Ambani’s BIG Entertainment has already invested in a slew of Hollywood star projects, announcing at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival that it had agreed to invest in projects that involved George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey. No films have been produced as a result of that arrangement, and the amount of money pledged is still unknown. The Indian Express, citing unnamed sources, said it could be as much a $1 billion.

Ambani’s love for Bollywood is well-known in India. His wife, Tina Ambani, was a Bollywood star in the early 80’s, and into the 90’s, and he counts Bollywood stars amongst his friends (On the other hand, what Bollywood star would NOT want to be friends with one of the world’s richest people).

But this investment is all business, Ambani indicated in the conference call. “It’s a game changer,” he said, sticking closely to a script that his associates had repeated through the day – that this investment would allow one of India’s largest corporate houses to reach out to oyoung people around the world.
 
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Australia looking at India for skilled professionals: Minister

Australia looking at India for skilled professionals: Minister- Visa Power-Travel-Services-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times

Australia looking at India for skilled professionals: Minister

NEW DELHI: Promoting Australia as a safe place to study, visiting Immigration Minister Chris Evans on Monday said his country was looking at
India for skilled human resource, and his government was doing everything to give a "safe environment" for foreign students and professionals.

"India is a young country with young people and ours is an ageing country. We rely on Indian doctors, IT people and workforce and skilled professionals for the next forty years," Evans told reporters, after meeting Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi here.

Evans arrived here Sunday night. He said his meeting with Ravi was a "good opportunity for us to reinforce our commitment in making Australia a safe environment for international students".

"Immigration from India is a big part of our economy" and that it was his government's endeavour to provide Indian students and professionals a "safe environment".

"We encourage student to have quality education and become part of the Australian life," he said.

Evan's visit comes in the wake of a series of visits by officials and delegation from Australia to India after an uproar over a number of attacks on Indian students, mainly in Melbourne.

"The attacks on Indian students were example of criminal behaviour. It was unacceptable and completely against the law of Australia," he said.

Underlining that these were not racial, he said Indian students became vulnerable as they often took up odd-hour jobs and were not aware of the high-crime areas of the city.

"These are issues of law enforcement problem and also issues due to lack of confidence among students to report these issues," said Evans.

He said his government's recent efforts were focussed on gaining confidence of students.

"There was a cricket match recently. Since cricket is a common language, so it was friendly match to bridge differences," said the Australian minister, referring to cricket matches between Victoria police and Indian students last month.
 

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Australia looking at India for skilled professionals: Minister
Its pertinent to mention the professional skill set must also include(but not restricted to) advanced techniques in evading muggers and disgruntled cricket fans. :)
 
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Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi prize for his foundation's work in India

Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi Prize in India - Yahoo! Finance

Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi Prize in India
Bill Gates receives Indira Gandhi prize for his foundation's work in India



NEW DELHI (AP) -- Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Saturday received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development from India's president, a government statement said.

The prize recognizes his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is awarded annually to individuals or organizations for creative efforts that promote peace, development and a new international economic order.

As of this month, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had committed nearly $1 billion for health and development projects in India. Most of the money has gone to prevent AIDS and eradicate polio.

One AIDS prevention initiative has targeted 280,000 people from high-risk categories, the statement said.

"It is a shining example of partnership between government and civil society in a critically important sector. I commend their work," said India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who attended the ceremony.

In his speech, Gates said India faced some of the world's toughest health problems, but "you have a keen appreciation for the urgency of the situation."

He cited the country's efforts to eradicate polio as an example. Every year, India mobilizes more than 2 million health workers for an immunization day, visiting more than 200 million homes.

"To make sure they don't miss anybody, they also go to train stations, bus stations and ferry terminals to immunize children who are on the move," he said.

His foundation got a cash reward of 2.5 million rupees ($52,000) from the Indian government, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The prize is in memory of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984.

Previous winners have included Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres.
 

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