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Maldives denies China role in GMR row Maldives President Mohamed Waheed has denied the suggestion in the media that China nudged his country to push out the Male airport operator, Indian multinational company GMR. Dr. Waheed said that Maldives was not looking for a foreign investor to develop the Ibrahim Nasir Airport in Male. Maldives was looking at developing a few domestic airports through Joint Ventures and partnerships. To drive home his point that no other Indian project had been affected, he said that Maldives had been discussing projects with other Indian firms, such as the Tatas. Rs. 37 crore handed out for publicity Prakash Bakshi was made the Chairman of NABARD despite serious vigilance cases pending against him during his tenure as the Executive Director, NABARD. One case pertained to the release of Rs. 100 crore on 31.12.2008 to Andhra Pradesh Cooperative Bank (APCOB) as a clean advance, which is not allowed as per NABARDs policy and therefore illegal. Sources in NABARD say Mr. Bakshi has sanctioned Rs. 37 crore towards publicity for FY 2011-12, when there is no product to advertise. A firm called Concept Communication has been empanelled as NABARDs advertising agency on a single bidding basis, which violates the process of inviting tenders and selecting based on credibility, performance and lowest quotation. NABARD has replied to RTI queries on this. As farmers suffer, NABARD offers soft loans to corporates The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which is dedicated to promoting rural development by providing soft loans to State governments for social sector projects, has given hundreds of crores as loans to corporates on concessional terms. In a circular of September 27, 2011, NABARD, making a significant deviation from its earlier policies, included private entities as eligible institutions without consulting the RBI. In another circular of December 23, 2011, NABARD further revised the scheme, again without consulting the RBI, to provide private firms an interest rate rebate of 1.5%. In violation of the regulated 8% rate levied by RIDF, an avenue was created for flow of funds to corporates and release of the interest rate rebate to the borrowers directly by NABARD. International conference on corporate governance The Institute of Public Enterprise is conducting the 4th international conference on corporate governance on the theme Emerging Economics: Innovation, Sustainability on December 10 and 11 Hyderabad under the aegis of the National Foundation of Corporate Governance. It was being conducted together with the ARI, University of Technology Mara, Malaysia and Institute of Business and Research, New Zealand. Experts from nations such as the USA, Malaysia, New Zealand are sharing their views on corporate governance including disclosure and information asymmetry. ILOs SCORE allows SMEs to soar over industry benchmarks The International Labour Organisation (ILO) held a workshop at Chennai to raise awareness about its global programme aimed at helping small and medium enterprises to help improve their productivity, competitiveness and working conditions. The programme, Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE), is being implemented by ILO in association with the Ambattur Industrial Estates Manufacturers Association Technology Centre (AIEMATC). It will seek to reduce the vulnerability of SMEs to external shocks and improve their productivity, working conditions, quality and bottom-line. Orthopaedic conference A five-day international orthopaedic conference gets under way at Chennai Trade Centre. Health Minister V.S. Vijay will launch the event hosted by the 57th annual conference of the Indian Orthopaedic Association. Metro among top 100 infra global projects The Hyderabad Metro Rail project has been selected as one of the top 100 strategic global infrastructure projects to be showcased at the forthcoming Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum being held in New York in Feb-March, 2013. Two other Indian projects have also figured in this prestigious list as in the GIFT city (Gujarat International Financial Tech city) and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project.

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Hyderabad best place to own property, says study Hyderabad, according to a study conducted by Artha Yantra, integrated personal finance services company, has projected the city as the best place for those aspiring to buy a home. The study spanning seven major cities Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata besides Hyderabad revealed that Hyderabad gives highest value for money in purchase of average sq.ft for every lakh of rupees as compared to other cities. Hyderabad, where buyers get 26.57 sq.ft every lakh of rupees, is followed by Pune while Delhi and Mumbai offer the least area. Artha Yantra, the firm promoted by Indian School of Business pass outs, has deployed its proprietary Buy vs Rent Score (ABRS) that not only helps in assessing rental and property values but aids users in deciding whether to rent or buy a house in any given city.

Now, Russia, UAE and others want direct government control of Internet A leaked document from the UNs World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) being held in Dubai, shows that the UAE accompanied by Russia, China, Sudan, Algeria and Brazil had placed a proposal to fundamentally restructure the Web and place it under government control, with authorisation for extensive state surveillance and content regulation. Brazilians later tweeted, denying their involvement with this draft. The secretly drafted proposal, which was orally introduced by the UAE, received immediate support from the floor from Bahrain, Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Sudan and Burkina Faso in the presence of ITU Secretary-General Dr. Tour. Europes first Indian immigrants Europes largest minority group, the Romani, with approximately 11 million people, began their migration from northern India to Europe 1,500 years ago, much earlier than previously thought, according to a new research. The Romani were known as gypsies in the 16th century because they were thought to have come from Egypt. Indian Papal envoy killed in Ivory Coast The papal envoy to Ivory Coast, Indian Archbishop Ambrose Madtha, has been killed in a traffic accident in the west of the country. Archbishop Madtha was travelling back from the north-western town of Odienne to an ordination ceremony in the countrys west, when his car collided with another vehicle. Archbishop Madtha, born in 1955 in Karnataka, became the doyen of the Ivorian diplomatic corps after arriving in 2008. He tried to play a behind-the-scenes mediating role during Ivory Coasts 2010-11 political crisis when the previous ruler, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to step down even though Alassane Ouattara was declared winner of presidential elections.

Biodegradable polymer ring offers new hope in valve repair A biodegradable polymer ring that avoids the complications of most other cardiac prostheses offers new hope in the treatment of rheumatic heart disease in children, according to Geneva-based heart surgeon Afksendiyos Kalangos. Unlike rings currently used in valve repair, the bio-absorbable annuloplasty ring remains a catalyst in the regrowing of the valve and dissolves after about six months, said Dr. Kalangos, inventor of the prosthesis.

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Business and economy:

Disinvestment in name only After some hiccups, the public sector disinvestment programme got off to a start in late November. The government raised some Rs.800 crore by divesting a 5.58 per cent stake in Hindustan Copper Ltd. through an offer for sale (OFS) through the stock exchanges (OFS). The governments shareholding in the company before the OFS was at a high 99 per cent. The budget has fixed a Rs.30,000 crore target from the public sector disinvestment programme for the current year (2012-13). Obviously, offer for sale in Hindustan Copper is only the beginning and the governments expectation is that the small equity stake sale will be the harbinger of larger issues and higher realisations.

Australia records fifth Trophy triumph Australia won a record fifth consecutive Champions Trophy, in Hockey, in a 2-1 extra-time victory over the Netherlands. Earlier Pakistan won its first Champions Trophy medal since 2004 when it defeated India 3-2 in the bronze medal match.

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