April 15th, 2008
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram inaugurates IIFC office in London
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram inaugurated the offshore subsidiary of the Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd. (IIFCL) - IIFC (UK) Ltd., on April 10 in London.
In his keynote address, the Finance Minister observed that the Indian economy was humming with productive activities and had the potential of 8 percent-plus growth over the next two decades. He said that in view of this, infrastructure development had assumed high significance to sustain such a high level of growth. The Government had taken a number of initiatives for encouraging development of projects and had set apart a fund for the purpose. To ensure smooth growth of infrastructure, the creation of IIFCL and now IIFCL (UK) were amongst major steps the government had taken to facilitate adequate availability of finances for the sector. Commending IIFCL's performance of two years, Chidambaram further said that anyone dealing with IIFCL (UK) would be in a win-win situation and stood to gain, as its operations would not only help in building infrastructure in India but would promote exports of plant and equipment from other countries. He also laid out the huge investment opportunities in the infrastructure sectors like airports, power, ports and highways.
The Finance Minister congratulated the IIFCL for financing 78 infrastructure projects to the tune of $4.2 billion involving a project cost of around $30 billion in a period of two years.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, IIFCL chairman & managing director S.S. Kohli said that the offshore arm would be supplementing IIFCL's role in financing India's infrastructure sector. The company would be borrowing from the Reserve Bank of India up to a maximum of $5 billion to make payments outside India against imports of plant and machinery.
Kamalesh Sharma takes over as Commonwealth Secretary-General
Indian diplomat Kamalesh Sharma took office as the C o m m o n we a l t h Secretary-General on April 1, saying he was full of "confidence and enthusiasm".
Sharma, who succeeded Don McKinnon of New Zealand, is the first Asian to head the 53-nation group and the first Indian to take up a leadership role of such a large and important international body.
"I take up office with confidence and enthusiasm. I am grateful to the leaders of our 53 member countries for the trust they have placed in me to carry forward the work of the Commonwealth," said Sharma, who was India's high commissioner to Britain when he was picked for the job in November last year.
"The Commonwealth is a great global good. It is a force for genuine and creative partnership in addressing our collective challenges. I look forward to building on its strengths and achievements," he added.
The new Secretary-General said he intended to emphasise on sharing mutual strengths, issues of women and young people, as well as development challenges faced by small states in particular, among his priority concerns. "I will encourage innovativeness and resourcefulness," he said.
Sharma, a Delhi and Cambridge-educated diplomat, has served as a special envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General, Timor-Leste; acted as spokesperson for developing countries in the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) during the Uruguay Round of trade talks; and chaired the working group on Financing for Development that led to the Monterrey Consensus.
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Record grant of patents
The Indian Patent Office has granted a record number of 15,262 patents during the financial year 2007-08. This is more than double the number of patents granted during the previous year (7,539) and almost eight times the number of patents granted just three years ago in 2004-05 (1911). The number of patents granted during 2007-08, the first year of the 11th Five Year Plan (FYP) compares well with the total number of patents granted during the entire 10th Five Year Plan period, which stood at 17,618. The patent filings also crossed the 35,000 mark during 2007-08.
The surge in the number of patents has to do with the modernisation of the patent and other intellectual property offices. The Government spent Rs. 1.49 billion on the first phase of modernisation, which resulted in the establishment of modern integrated Intellectual Property Offices in the four metros, computerisation and enhancement of the human resources.
The Indian Patent Office has also introduced the facility for E-filing of applications from July 20, 2007.
PE deals cross $3 billion
Private equity (PE) deals in the first quarter of calendar (January-March 2008) have touched $3.3 billion, compared to 101 deals fetching $2.7 billion, during the same period year ago, according to data released by Venture Intelligence, a private equity research company.
Volatility in the secondary market injected a dose of caution on the PIPE (Private Investments in Public Enterprise) front, which is an alternative investment strategy for private equity funds.
Weighed down by bearish market sentiments, PIPE deals in the first three months of 2008 fell to $558 million from $879 million in the corresponding period of 2007.
ISRO to launch new satellite
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch its advanced remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2A, with high-resolution stereo cameras and scientific instruments on April 28, its chairman said in Bangalore.
"We have rescheduled the launch of Cartosat-2A to this month-end. The tentative launch date is April 28," ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair told reporters on the sidelines of a space event.
Identical to the mapping satellite Cartosat-2 that was launched last year, the 680-kg Cartosat-2A will be placed in a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 630 km by polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C7) from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. "Cartosat-2A will have a panchromatic camera designed to provide imagery with one metre spatial resolution and a swathe of 9.6 km to spot objects measuring the same size.
The new satellite is also capable of providing scene-specific spot imagery for cartographic and other applications," Nair said.
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