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March 15th, 2009

President urges universities to study the impact of economic slowdown

President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil

President Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil urged the universities in the country to study the socio-economic impact of the financial crisis that has "altered the dynamics of the global economy".

"The universities should study the socio-economic impact of the financial downturn both on the wider level and at the ground level," the President said, while addressing the 25th convocation ceremony of the University of Rajasthan in Jaipur on March 5. "The existing institutions and response mechanism will be tested as we deal with its impact and implications. For this, a collective effort would be required," Smt. Patil said.

Excerpts of the speech:

"From time immemorial, India has been a centre of learning. Thousands of years ago, great scholars used to teach a variety of subjects such as philosophy, religion, medicine, mathematics, literature, drama and arts. Great works on these subjects were written. Since ancient times, our country has had a tradition of institutionalised education in the form of Gurukuls. Here universities have existed in continuum through millennia. Nalanda stands as one such example. It is said that at one time it had about 10,000 resident students and teachers on its rolls, with scholars from distant lands. Universities of India today have to preserve and perpetuate this glorious memory as well as to further enhance the reach and quality of education with a view to meeting global challenges.

The process of globalisation along with rapid advances in science and technology, particularly information technology, has been defining the achievements, pressures and pulls of the last more than two decades. Globalisation has created an inter-related and interlinked world, generating opportunities and also throwing up challenges. Knowledge-based societies and the flow of goods and ideas across national boundaries are its hallmarks. Currently, the focus is on the financial crisis, which originated in the Western hemisphere, but has been transmitted across the globe. This crisis has altered the dynamics of the global economy, compelling a re-look at issues relating toglobal financial security and the financial architecture. Existing institutions and response mechanisms will be tested as we deal with its impact and implications. A collective effort would be required.

Universities, being centres of learning and research, are institutions where such changes should be analysed and understood. Universities should study the socio-economic impact of the financial downturn both on a wider level and at the ground level. In an interconnected world, upturns and downturns in economies of nations far away can have an impact on skills requirements in other nations. Universities have always been places where the skills and knowledge of students are chiselled, so that they are suited to the requirement of the work place. Therefore, our universities must be able to assess the requirements of the job market well in advance.

Universities help in giving it economic vitality, scientific prowess, a broad outline of social change and global competitiveness. The activities of good universities must strive to contribute to the richness of the cultural, literary and social aspects of their immediate community. It is in this context, that I have also emphasised that all Universities must have outreach programmes that enable students to interact with local communities and understand their issues.

India to vote April 16 to May 13 for a new govt

India, the world's largest democracy with 714 million voters, will pick a new government over five phases between April 16 and May 13, and the result will be declared on May 16. In what is often billed as a grand festival of democracy, six million civil officials as well as police and paramilitary personnel will oversee the conduct of the election, the 15th to the 545-seat Lok Sabha since India became independent in 1947. Making the much awaited announcement, Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami said that 124 Lok Sabha constituencies would go to the polls April 16, followed by 141 on April 23, 107 on April 30, 85 on May 7 and 86 constituencies on the final day on May 13. Gopalaswami said elections to the Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim assemblies would also take place simultaneously. State by-elections would also be held in Mizoram, Jharkhand and Karnataka (one seat each) and Nagaland (four seats).

The strength of the Indian electorate, more than the combined population of Russia and the US, has gone up by 43 million in 2004 to 714 million now, Gopalaswami said.

Meanwhile, on March 4, President Pratibha Patil approved the appointment of Navin Chawla as the next Chief Election Commissioner.

Continues on Page 2


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High Commissioner launches India Visa Centre in Cardiff

High Commissioner with Governors of India Centre at the inauguration

The High Commissioner of India to Britain, Shiv Shanker Mukerjee, inaugurated the India Visa Centre at the India Centre in Cardiff on March 2. The Chair of the India Centre Keshav Singhal said at the inaugaration: "We are honoured that the High Commissioner has taken such a positive step in response to a request we made on the High Commissioner's visit to Cardiff in November last year."

He added: "Such a facility was desperately needed in Cardiff to facilitate and increase tourism and trading ties between our two nations. India and Wales have very strong and traditional ties with emphasis on hard work, family values and these can only get stronger with the the visa centre being opened in Cardiff."

Speaking at the dinner held afterwards in his honour in Cardiff Bay, the High Commissioner said: "It is important that Wales and India continue to prosper. I was pleased to return to Cardiff having fulfilled a promise from last year. The Commission will continue our dialogue in Wales and we will build on the knowledge of each other's countries as we grow and move forward. This is part of making things happen."

The Wales India Centre intends to set a series of cultural events and Nehru lectures. Accompanying the High Commissioner was Syed Asif Ibrahim, Minister of Coordination at the Indian High Commission in London.

The visa service is operational from March 3 and anybody needing an Indian visa will be able to get it by applying to the centre in person. The visa centre will be managed by VFS Global, a multinational company to which the visa processing has been outsourced.

The IVAC in Cardiff is centrally situated within the premises of The India Centre in Sanquhar Street Cardiff.

The IVAC will be open from Monday to Friday from 0900 hrs to 1430 hrs, except on pubic holidays observed by the High Commission of India. The applicants for all visa categories can submit their applications to IVAC at the following address: The India Centre, Sanquhar Street, Cardiff, Wales UK (Monday to Friday from 0830 hrs to 1630 hrs).


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JLR to get UK grant for green car

The U.K. government has approved a grant of 27 million to Tata Group-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) for producing a new eco-friendly car based on the Land Rover's LRX Concept that was first showcased at the 2008 edition of Geneva Motor Show. The company is yet to officially announce if it would go ahead with this project and therefore will use this grant. Earlier this month JLR had managed to secure a major three-year deal to supply 13,000 cars to China worth 600 million and later secured a pay freeze deal with its workers that will help save 68 million a year. "We welcome the government's support for this project, which would form a key part of our future product plans and which we very much want to put into production," said Phil Popham, managing director of Land Rover.

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