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March 15th, 2008

Duke of York visits India

Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward, Duke of York and special Representative of the Department of Trade and Investment, Government of Britain, called on Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Industry, in New Delhi on March 10.

During their bilateral meeting, useful exchanges took place on enhancing India-U.K. trade and investment flows. The visit coming right after the annual summit visit by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to New Delhi in January 2008 assumes special significance in respect of trade and investment relations.

Both sides recalled the warmth in the historical relationship between the two countries and expressed satisfaction about the current level of mutual engagement, particularly by large British MNCs in India and of Indian MNCs in Britain. They called for an exponential increase in business contacts between SMEs and the service sectors of both countries in view of the limitless business potential that exists between the two countries. Dr. Kumar cited the significance of major U.K. investments in India.

Similarly, he applauded the recent trend of Indian companies investing in Britain.

During the bilateral meeting, the Duke informed Dr. Kumar that British companies recognised that India would be at the centre of the Asian economic growth story and added that British companies were aware of the importance of India's favourable demographic profile as key contributor to the growth of the global economy. In view of the outward investment profile of Britain,the Duke of York stated that there was tremendous scope for exponential growth in not only trade but also in investments. He outlined the comparative strengths of Britain in the services sectors, such as law and accountancy, R&D, finance, education, retail, innovation, infrastructure, and green technologies. He hoped that India would take the next level of steps for greater market access. He also assured Dr. Kumar that there would be no discrimination against Indian professionals for work visas in Britain.

Dr. Ashwani Kumar reiterated India's commitment to the rule-based multilateral and equitable international trade regimes for enlarging global business opportunity. Britain is the third-largest investor in India with a cumulative FDI of $4.13 billion. Britain is also one of the major contributors of technology to India with 860 technical collaborations in the past 17 years.

The Duke also addressed a luncheon meet hosted by the managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank, K.V. Kamath, in Mumbai on March 11.


'Transfer technology to combat climate change'

Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath has added his voice to growing calls for transfer of green technology to developing countries, saying failure to do so could risk the fight against climate change.

"Unless there is access to technology and transfer of technology to developing countries it (progress on climate change) is not going to happen," Nath said at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on March 10.

"We need to find a mechanism which enables a transfer of this technology. I'm sure it's not the case where you say, 'come down to three or four percent growth.' Because then there will be more poverty, which pollutes," he said in his address to a conference on 'The New Politics of the Global Economy'.

Rejecting suggestions that rich nations should sell rather than transfer expensive green technology, Nath said it was important to realise that two of the engines of the future growth of the global economy were Africa and Asia.

"They are the new economies of consumption," Kamal Nath said. The Minister said new rules of world trade being framed under the Doha Development Round must lead to "healthy economies" in Africa and Asia.

Nath, who was Environment Minister at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, said that much of the drive for renewable energy sources generated at the summit was to soon lose its momentum.

Underlining the need for technology transfer and research, he said: "The solar energy commitments (of Rio) remained for a year or so" and finally, "those who had money had no sun, and those who had sun had no money".

The present response to the threat of climate change, he said, needed "common but differentiated responsibilities".

Nath made the demand as two senior European foreign policy officials on March 10 warned of higher immigration into Europe as a result of displacements triggered by climate change.

The ravages already being inflicted on parts of the developing world by climate change are creating a new type of refugee, the "environmental migrant", said Javier Solana, the European Union's chief Foreign Policy Coordinator and Benita Ferrero Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations.

Within a decade "there will be millions of environmental migrants, with climate change as one of the major drivers of this phenomenon".

They said some countries already badly hit by global warming are demanding that climate change be recognised internationally as a valid reason for migration.

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Sagar Nidhi dedicated to nation

Union Minister of Science and Technology Kapil Sibal dedicated India's first science vessel, Sagar Nidhi, to the nation on March 3 at a function at the Chennai port. Anchored off the coast of Tamil Nadu, the country's first deep-sea research vessel and floating laboratory has been acquired from the Italian firm Fincantieri at a cost of Rs.2.32 billion ($57.5). Built at Genoa's Riva Trigoso Shipyard, the vessel meets all regulations of Indian and international naval registers.

The 104-metre long vessel can remain at sea for 45 days at a stretch and can accommodate 45 experts and their workstations on board.


Direct tax Collections

Direct tax collections continued to record a growth of over 40 percent for the period between April 1, 2007 to February 15, 2008 in the current fiscal.

Net direct tax collections stood at Rs. 2287.45 billion, up from Rs. 1617.76 billion during the same period last fiscal, registering a growth of 41.40 percent and achieving over 85 percent of budgeted direct tax target of Rs. 2674.90 billion. Corporate tax registered a growth of 38.78 percent at Rs.1380.73 billion, up from Rs. 994.88 billion during the previous fiscal, while personal income tax (including FBT, STT and BCTT) grew by 45.64 percent at Rs. 903.56 billion, up from Rs. 620.40 billion. Growth in Securities Transaction Tax (STT) was 84.64 percent (Rs. 78.78 billion against Rs. 42.67 billion) and Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) was 29.75 percent (Rs. 52.16 billion against Rs. 40.20 billion).



Army receives Pinaka rockets

The indigenously developed Pinaka rocket was formally handed over to the Indian Army on February 29. Pinaka, which is fired from a multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL), has an ideal range of 38 km.

Sudipta Ghosh, chairman of the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB), handed over the system to the Army's Vice-Chief, Lt. Gen. Milan Lalitkumar Naidu, at a function at Ordnance Factory Chanda in Maharashtra's Chandrapur district.

The ordnance factory will supply 300 Pinaka rockets to the army this year and 1,000 rockets next year, a Defence Ministry statement said. Speaking on the occasion, Ghosh described the Pinaka deliveries as "another milestone in the OFB's history of more than 200 years".



Intel designs new chips

World's leading chipmaker Intel has designed the smallest processor with tiny transistors for low-cost personal computers (PCs) and mobile internet devices (MIDs), the company said in Bangalore on March 3. Known as Intel Atom processor, the new chip is built on a micro-architecture for small devices and low power. Its design can support multiple threads for better performance and quick system response.

"Measuring less than 25 square millimetres, the Atom processor for PCs and Centrino for MIDs are embedded with about 47 million transistors. Previously codenamed Silverthrone and Diamondville, the chips are rolled out on 45 nanometre with hi-k metal gate technology," Intel said in a statement.

Exports grow 20.47% in January

India's exports showed a healthy growth of 20.47 percent in January this fiscal over the same month last year, but expanded by a single digit figure of 7.66 percent in rupee terms owing to a pricey domestic currency. Exports rose to $13.14 billion in January 2008 from $10.9 billion a year ago, while imports grew by a huge 63.57 percent to $22.50 billion. Exports during April-January period amounted to $124.19 billion, leaving a balance of $35.81 billion to meet the $160 billion target.


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