Saturday, September 7, 2013

31 infants die in four days at govt-run Kolkata hospital

At least 31 infants are reported to have died at a government-run children's hospital in Kolkata in the last four days.

While angry parents blame hospital authorities for mismanagement and negligence, doctors at the BC Roy Post-Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences, premier children's hospitals in the state, say most of the infants who died were admitted here in extremely critical condition.

"They are giving wrong treatment. Nurses are not listening to us. That is why the children are being affected," a worried parent said.

But Dr Trideb Banerjee, chairman of the Health Department's Special Task Force that probes infant deaths and other such issues at hospitals across the state, has rejected the allegations of medical negligence. "BC Roy is a referral hospital; many patients are admitted here in critical state. Doctors always try their best but sometimes patients cannot be saved as their condition is very bad. There is not a single case of negligence," he said.

The Special Task Force for Health was formed in 2011, after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who doubles up as the Health Minister of the state, faced criticism over increasing number of infant deaths at several government-run hospitals across the state.

In October 2011, 18 infant deaths in 48 hours at the BC Roy hospital had provoked angry demonstrations by parents and had led to a visit by the Chief Minister.

An inquiry conducted on the orders of the government had then absolved the hospital of medical negligence, and had asked for new facilities to be added immediately. Crores were spent on setting up a 30 bed neo-natal care unit after the report.

Blaming the state government for the deaths, D Raja of the CPI said today, "It is a fact that children our dying and it is shameful that we are not being able to save our children. Somebody should take the responsibility."

Zubin Mehta's concert: heavy security in Srinagar, Omar Abdullah slams separatists' call for bandh

With just hours left for India-born conductor Zubin Mehta's highly anticipated concert in Srinagar's Shalimar Bagh, there is heavy security in the city. Called Ehsaas-e-Kashmir, the event, a first of its kind in Kashmir, is being organised by German ambassador to India Michael Steiner.

Hundreds of police and military personnel are patrolling the streets of Srinagar, with sharp shooters being deployed at strategic locations in the city. Only those carrying special passes will be allowed entry into the concert, expected to be attended by a 1,500-strong exclusive audience, including government ministers and diplomats.

The concert has already hit a controversial note with Kashmiri separatists calling it an attempt to digress from the human rights violations in the state. The separatists have called for a total shutdown of Srinagar in protest.

77-year-old Mr Mehta reached out to the separatists yesterday, saying, "I didn't choose Kashmir, Kashmir chose me. Music is the message of peace, and music only brings peace."

Accusing the separatists of hypocrisy, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, "These (separatists) people are selective... If music is against the issue of Kashmir, how come Junoon came and performed here," said Mr Abdullah. 'Junoon', a Pakistani band had performed in the city in May 2008.

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said the youngsters must decide upon the nature and purpose of the event after hearing Mr Mehta's music. "I pray and urge and appeal to all young people that they should pause and listen to his music, listen to what his music has to say and then make up their minds," said Mr Khurshid.

Meanwhile, a counter concert, called Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir to highlight, what its organisers say, the turmoil of the people over the last two decades, has also been granted permission by the state administration.

Uttarakhand tragedy: Over 160 bodies found in four days

 The death toll in the Uttarkhand tragedy continues to mount with 68 more bodies believed to be of pilgrims who died of cold and starvation while trying to escape the devastating June floods being found on way to the Kedarnath shrine.

The 68 bodies, found over the ridges between Garurchatti and Gaurikund, were cremated yesterday just a couple of days after 64 bodies were consigned to flames close to the Himalayan shrine, Inspector General of Police R S Meena said.

"They are being cremated after necessary rituals and other formalities like DNA sampling, Panchnama and preservation of the ornaments worn by them like bangles, rings etc for identification," he said.

Since the start of the third round of search operations in the worst affected Kedar valley on Tuesday, a total of 166 bodies have been found and cremated, officials said.

Over 200 bodies were extricated in the previous two rounds with sources saying that the official toll has now crossed the 1000 mark. However, NGOs and others have expressed fears that thousands have perished in the tragedy with many not yet found due to inhospitable hilly terrain.

The operation which is likely to continue till tomorrow is being carried out by mountaineers and commandos of Uttarakhand police at a height of 12500-13000 ft.

"These bodies seem to be of pilgrims who climbed up the ridges out of fear after the calamity struck in mid-June to save themselves and perished due to extreme cold conditions there, hunger and thirst," Meena told PTI.

"We resumed our search on Tuesday for bodies trapped in the higher reaches and ridges of the valley which we could not access earlier due to bad weather.

"If the weather permits, the process will go on till tomorrow in Junglechatti, Rambada, Gaurigaon and Bheembali areas of the valley where we expect to find bodies," he said.

Clear weather has given fresh impetus to the search for bodies, the IG said.

"As of now we are concentrating on areas where bodies are lying visibly on the surface and not on places where they may be lying underneath the debris," Meena said.

The operation to retrieve bodies are on even as Kedranath Shrine is all set resume prayers on September 11.

In Chhattisgarh, a Red Fort replica for Narendra Modi speech today

 Narendra Modi is in election-bound Chhattisgarh today and the stage that he will share with his host Chief Minister Raman Singh is a model of Delhi's Red Fort.
 The symbolism is hard to miss. It is from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi that Prime Ministers address the nation on Independence Day.
 The Gujarat Chief Minister said this week that he does not dream of being Prime Minister, but many in the BJP hope that it will be Mr Modi who will deliver next year's address from the Red Fort in the national capital.  Last month, Mr Modi had challenged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 15 - first saying that his address in Gujarat would draw as much attention as the PM's Red Fort speech, and then making a surprisingly political speech tearing into Dr Singh.

"They have created a fake Red Fort in Chhattisgarh. They might also create a fake RCR (PM's residence in Delhi) to fulfill their aspirations," senior Congress leader Kamal Nath said today in the ongoing war of words between the two rival parties.
 But as his party delays naming Mr Modi as its face for 2014 elections, he seemed to send out a reminder when he said on Thursday, "We shouldn't dream about becoming something but doing something. I have been given a mandate till 2017 by people of Gujarat and will continue to serve you."Party president Rajnath Singh and the BJP's ideological mentor, the RSS, are trying to convince Mr Modi's powerful rivals like LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj that it would benefit the party to make a Modi announcement soon.
But these leaders have argued that this is best done after assembly elections in five states including Chhattisgarh, where Mr Modi will campaign today in Ambikapur, about 250 km from state capital Raipur, for Raman Singh, who is seeking a third term.
On Monday, the RSS, BJP and other affiliated outfits will meet to discuss by when Narendra Modi should be projected as the prime ministerial candidate.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hyundai Grand i10 launched at Rs. 4.29 lakh

Even as car sales have fallen for the ninth straight month as buyers are refraining from taking on debt to fund their purchases, car companies are going all out to woo consumers ahead of the festive season.

The latest to join this bandwagon was Korean car maker Hyundai, which today launched the Grand i10, which will be positioned between the i10 and the i20, at a starting price of Rs. 4.29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

The Grand i10 is available in two engine variants --  1.1-litre diesel and 1.2-litre petrol.

While the petrol variant is priced from Rs. 4.29 lakh to Rs. 5.47 lakh, the diesel version is priced between Rs. 5.23 lakh and Rs. 6.41 lakh.

The petrol engine is the same Kappa engine that does duty on the i10, while the diesel engine has been derived from Hyundai's 1.4-litre CRDi motor. This 1.1-litre diesel will also make the Grand i10 the cheapest diesel offering.

"The Grand is a world class product developed for the Indian market... We expect Grand with its excellent value proposition and its unique features, will serve wide range of customers in India," Hyundai India managing director and chief executive B.S. Seo said.

The Grand i10 is Hyundai's fifth hatchback in the country, after the Eon, the Santro, the i10 and the i20, and Hyundai will hope to consolidate its hold in the small car market with this new launch.

Hyundai yesterday reported an 11.58 per cent increase in its total sales in August at 52,319 units as against 46,886 in the same month last year.

Domestic sales of the company stood at 28,311 units during the month, marginally up from 28,257 units in August 2012.

The launch of the Grand comes barely weeks after the Maruti Stingray, the Nissan Terrano and the Volkswagen Cross Polo were rolled out into the market.

School girl shot in classroom by jilted lover who then killed himself

young school girl is in hospital in Lucknow after a man who was allegedly in love with her shot her in the stomach in her classroom, before killing himself.

The 15-year-old was at her school in Amethi when her cousin opened fire. He then shot himself in the head and died immediately.

She was rushed to hospital and is reported to be recovering. She has allegedly told the police that her attacker had two guns and was carrying bullets in a plastic bag.

RBI's new home loan norms will push property prices higher: DLF

The Reserve Bank's circular asking lenders to link the disbursal of home loans to the stages of construction of property may lead to liquidity crisis and rise in property prices, India's biggest real estate developer DLF told NDTV.

The central bank on Tuesday said upfront disbursal of lump sum loans should not be made in case of incomplete or housing projects under construction. It also asked lenders to stop "innovative housing loan schemes," popularly known as 80:20 and 75:25 schemes.

Such schemes involve a tripartite arrangement among the bank, the buyer and the builder and involve upfront disbursal of home loans to developers. The interest/EMI on the housing loan is serviced by the builder during the construction period.

The RBI said such home loan products are likely to expose banks and their borrowers to additional risks. These loans are on the books of buyers, and not developers, making them risky.

Rajeev Talwar, group executive director of DLF told NDTV that it's a very funny idea that the discontinuation of such schemes would lead to price cuts.

"By making money shorter, you are making a case of opposite," he added.

Mr Talwar also said that it's a misplaced notion that these loans delay construction, lead to speculation and may be diverted to other projects.

"These loans are construction linked and not time linked. This is not a case of diversion of money, but it is actually a case to help on with the construction of project on time," he said.

The latest circular coincides with governor D Subbarao's exit from the central bank. Many critics, including top honchos from India Inc., have often held RBI's tight policy under Dr Subbarao responsible for the slowdown in the economy. Under his leadership, the RBI raised policy rates 13 times between March, 2010 and October, 2011.

"It was perhaps a parting gift... I don't think the RBI has been spectacularly successful in doing so in very many other sectors," Mr Talwar said.

Public sector banks have limited exposure to such schemes. HDFC, India's biggest mortgage lender, could be the largest listed player to offer such schemes. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank offer more 20:80 schemes than others, analysts said.

Lalitkumar Jain, chairman of real estate lobby CREDAI said in past RBI circulars have resulted into reversal of good market sentiments affecting economy and concerning housing sector

However, Pradeep Jain of Parsvnath Developers said RBI has taken a good step.

"I am in favour of RBI because if a financial institution gives 80 per cent of loans and tomorrow the developer diverts the money to other projects, it will become a major concern," he added.

Shares in real estate companies fell with DLF leading the losses. Indiabulls Real Estate and Housing Development & Infrastructure traded with over 3 per cent cuts.

Raghuram Rajan: 10 things to know about the new RBI governor

Raghuram Rajan today took over as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India at a time when the Indian economy is facing its worst crisis in over two decades.
What you should know about the new governor:
  1. Raghuram Rajan is the 23rd governor of the Reserve Bank of India. He has been appointed for a period of three years, and will take charge from D. Subbarao, who is exiting after an extended five-year term.
  2. This will be Mr. Rajan's second assignment in the country. He was appointed the Chief Economic Adviser to the Finance Ministry in August last year.
  3. He was the Economic Counselor and Director of Research (simply put, the chief economist) at the International Monetary Fund from September 2003 till January 2007.
  4. Mr. Rajan's claim to fame is his prediction of the 2008 global financial crisis. In his paper titled "Has Financial Development Made The World Riskier?", which he submitted in November 2005, Mr. Rajan wrote: "But perhaps the most important concern is whether banks will be able to provide liquidity to financial markets so that if the tail risk does materialize." The response to this paper was negative.
  5. Mr. Rajan has worked as the Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.
  6. Mr. Rajan has also served as the Bertil Daniellson Visiting Professor of Banking and Finance, Stockholm School of Economics, 1996-97; Visiting Professor of Finance, Northwestern University, 1996-97, and the Fischer Black Visiting Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2000-01.
  7. In January 2003, the American Finance Association awarded Mr. Rajan the inaugural Fischer Black Prize, given every two years to the financial economist under age 40 who has made the most significant contribution to the theory and practice of finance.
  8. He is the author of the popular book "Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy", where he has argued that serious flaws in the economy are to blame for the current crisis, and warns that a potentially more devastating crisis awaits us if they aren't fixed.
  9. He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from IIT-Delhi, before pursuing his MBA in 1987 from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, followed by a PhD in 1991 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a gold medalist at both IIT and IIM.
  10. Rajan, 50, was born in Bhopal on February 3, 1963. He comes from a Tamil family and is married to Radhika, a class fellow from IIM. They have two children