DS, Danam meet to clear the messCong to finalise campaign in 2-3 days

HYDERABAD: The Congress party would finalise its campaign plan for the GHMC elections in the next three days, even as two unlikely friends PCC president D Srinivas and D Nagendar met each other thrice on Sunday to iron out the mess arising out of the announcement of seats, especially for Serilingally division.

Even as Congress seniors and ministers claimed that all matters were sorted out amicably, party legislators K Laxma Reddy, B Raji Reddy and Bhikshapati Yadav met Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and Union minister S Jaipal Reddy in New Delhi on Sunday to convey the happenings in the state Congress over the distribution of tickets.

Though the legislators refused to elaborate on their discussions in New Delhi after their return in the evening, it is presumed that several discrepancies that were reported in the media over the distribution of tickets were conveyed and discussed at length.

Though the PCC president has been denying any wrongdoing and maintained that all candidates were announced only in consultation with the local MLAs, the current state of affairs in Congress party, on the contrary, is exactly opposite with several legislators openly declaring that all was not well in the distribution of tickets.

Meanwhile, Uppal MLA B Raji Reddy and some other MLAs called on the PCC chief D Srinivas to convey their feelings on the selection of certain candidates. On the other hand, Medchal MLA continued to express his displeasure openly regarding distribution of tickets pertaining to his constituency.

Rivals ready for GHMC battle

The campaign war between the two major parties, the Congress and the TDP for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections would begin from Tuesday. Both the parties claimed that they would win 100 seats and win the mayor’s post.

The TDP leaders, who hope that the recent infighting in the state Congress would help them win more number of seats, began a quick damage control exercise by arranging a meeting between the disgruntled elements in the party with party president N Chandrababu Naidu during the last two days. Naidu spoke to them and told them that the party would recognise their services and would take care of their political interests. He explained to them about the changed political scenario in the state and the need for the TDP to utilise the opportunity to come back to power in 2014.

While the division-level leaders have already started door-to-door campaign, all the senior leaders have been asked to kick-start their campaign from various places in the city. The former speaker K Pratibha Bharati will launch the campaign from Vijayanagar Colony on Monday. Naidu himself would take up an intensive campaign in all the 150 divisions from Tuesday.

Talking to party workers at his residence on Sunday, Naidu recalled various developmental activities taken up by the TDP in Hyderabad and how the Congress government had “purposefully ignored the development of the city.” He said it had even failed to control the mosquito menace and called upon the cadre to work towards saving Hyderabad. “The only way is to see that the Congress party was defeated in the GHMC elections,” he said.

The party would also take up issues like spread of viral fever including dengue and chikungunya, rise in the prices of essential commodities, failure to supply pure drinking water resulting in incidents like Bholakpur etc.

Meanwhile, the former mayor T Krishna Reddy called upon the people to upload on the website http://www.ghmc.in about the problems faced by them in their respective divisions like drinking water issues, bad roads, poor drainage system, low-voltage, incidents of crime etc. He asked them to upload related pictures on the website so that the party could incorporate its policies on those issues in the manifesto.

On the other hand, the Greater Hyderabad Congress president D Nagender on Sunday claimed that the bickerings that were witnessed last week were being sorted out and that it was a common feature of the party since it was the most democratic party and expressed confidence that it would win in 100 divisions. He also said that Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy would also campaign from Monday or Tuesday. (TNN)

US citizen dies in Hyderbad hotel

HYDERABAD: An American chartered accountant, David Blake, 38, who came to the city earlier this week for auditing work, was found dead in a hotel in Nanakramguda on Saturday night.

David Blake of Crawford in the US came to the city on November 3 for an auditing assignment with SKS Micro Finance company. He was put up at Ista Hotel in Nanakramguda.

According to Rayaduragam inspector K Ganga Reddy, the hotel staff alerted police on Saturday night as David was not responding to their calls. After the arrival of police, the staff opened the room and David was found dead on the bed.

The American’s body was shifted to Osmania General hospital and a postmortem was carried out on Sunday morning. Police seized some tablets which they presume David might have consumed.

According to the inspector, doctors who performed the postmortem, said David died of cardiac arrest.

“Information about the death of a US national has been passed on to the US consul general. After embalming the body, it has been preserved at Nims mortuary,” the inspector said.

Police registered a case under section 174 (Suspicious death) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). (TNN)

Reliance, Gini & Jony tie up to offer Levi’s, Puma footwear

Reliance Footprint, the footwear store of Reliance Retail, today said it has tied up with kidswear brand Gini & Jony to introduce children’s footwear ranges of Levi’s and Puma in the country.

Gini & Jony are the exclusive retail collaborators in the country for these two brands. Levi’s footwear comprises leather shoes, synthetic sandals and slippers while Puma offers sports and lifestyle footwear for kids between 4 to 14 years of age.

“This is a significant partnership for us since Gini & Jony has chosen us as their initial retail partners for the launch of Levi’s and Puma kids footwear in the country,” Reliance Footprint Chief Executive Officer Gopalakrishnan Sankar said in a statement.

As part of the arrangement, Levi’s and Puma kids footwear are now available at all Reliance Footprint outlets in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi. The company is planning to introduce in other cities as well.

“By introducing Levi’s and Puma footwear for Indian kids, Gini & Jony adds strength to its offering basket. Reliance Footprints’ reach and our strategic tie—up with them would help us reach consumers with international range of footwear in India, ” Gini & Jony Director Anil Lakhani said.

Reliance Retail Limited (RRL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, has over 900 stores in over 85 cities. It operates various stores under Reliance Fresh, Reliance Digital Reliance Mart and Reliance Time-Out among others.

Specializing in one sport increases risk of injury: Study


SPECIALISATION IS RISKY: Feliciano Lopez of Spain pulled out of the ATP Masters semifinal match against Rafael Nadal in October, because of a leg injury. A study shows specialising in one sport increases risk of injury

 Gifted young athletes are increasingly under pressure to play their one chosen sport round the year. But a new study has found that such specialization increases the risk of injury.

Researchers from the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) examined 519 junior tennis players and analysed 3,366 matches in junior competitions in the US and found that players who specialized in only tennis were more likely to withdraw from tournaments for medical reasons, typically injuries.

Also, players who had experienced an injury or tennis-related illness during the past year were 5.4 times more likely to withdraw from a tournament for medical reasons.

“Parents, coaches and players should exercise caution if there is a history of prior injury,” said Neeru Jayanthi, professor of orthopaedics at Loyola University School of Medicine, who led the study.

“And parents should consider enrolling their children in multiple sports,” Ms. Jayanthi said.

Volunteers in the study began playing tennis at an average age of six, began competing at age nine and began to specialise at age 10.

Players practised a median of 16 to 20 hours per week, and 93 percent said they competed at least 10 months per year.

Boys are more likely to withdraw for medical reasons than girls, and older teenagers are more likely to withdraw than younger adolescents.

Injuries in young tennis players typically include muscle strains, ankle sprains, hip injuries, knee cap instability, stress fractures in the spine and tendonitis of the wrist and rotator cuff, according to an LUHS release.

“But one injury you rarely see in kids is tennis elbow. That’s because they learn to hit the ball correctly,” said Jayanthi who has studied tennis injuries as a player, coach, physician and researcher.

These results were presented at the international Society for Tennis Medicine and Science World Congress in Valencia, Spain.

Nokia recalls chargers of model 7210 phones


A screenshot of an N-7210 Phone and its product specifications from the Nokia Website

 Nokia has announced recalling of chargers of its model 7210, after it found the chargers supplied with the phones were of inferior quality. The charger exchange programme is applicable to only those who bought Nokia 7210 models after June 15, 2009.

Consumers can walk into any Nokia Care centre of Nokia Priority Dealership stores to get their chargers replaced or check whether their chargers are part of the exchange programme.

The company has however assured that the usage of the charger would not impact the safety of the phone. During a routine quality control process, it found that certain chargers manufactured by a third party supplies, the plastic covers of the chargers could come loose and separate, exposing the charger’s internal components and potentially pose an electric shock hazard.

The mobile manufacturing company released a statement on Monday, stating that only a limited number of charger model AC-3E manufactured between June 15 and August 9, 2009 are within the scope of the global exchange programme.

How to identify

Consumers can identify whether the chargers are part of the exchange programme by sending an SMS to 55555. The consumer has to key in (CHG) SPACE (the 27 digit code). The company would then get a reply on SMS informing whether the charger is included in the exchange programme.

Cadbury rejects Kraft bid

British candy maker Cadbury PLC has rejected a hostile 9.8 billion pound ($16.4 billion) takeover bid from Kraft Foods Inc.

Cadbury says that Monday’s renewed approach from Kraft “does not come remotely close to reflecting the true value of our company.”

Kraft has refused to sweeten a previous offer that was already rejected by Cadbury, leaving the terms of the cash-and-stock approach unchanged and taking the offer directly to shareholders.

But a shift in share prices means it now values each Cadbury share at 717 pence, less than the previously rebuffed approach of 745 pence.

Analysts had said that Kraft, the maker of Oreo cookies, Nabisco crackers and its namesake cheese, needed to improve its bid to have a chance at success.


Third draw for Anand; Kramnik leads

World champion Viswanathan Anand played out his third draw with black pieces after facing Ukraine’s Ruslan Ponomariov in the fourth round of the Tal memorial chess tournament at Hotel National in Moscow on Sunday.

Anand’s 32-move draw took his tally to 2.5 points on a day when only Vladimir Kramnik won to emerge as the leader at three points.

Anand once again chose the Grunfeld Defence and had no trouble in coming out with a draw. A series of exchanges led to an ending where the players were left with opposite coloured bishops and pawns.

After a day of rest, when the action shifts to Gum Mall for the remaining five rounds, Anand will play with white pieces against Hungary’s Peter Leko in the next round.

Kramnik, who started the day by sharing the lead with Anand and Armenia’s Levon Aronian, cruised to his second successive win that resulted in consecutive losses for his Russian compatriot Peter Svidler. Kramnik, like Anand on Friday, got around Svidler’s Grunfeld Defence and proved superior in 37 moves.

Top seed Magnus Carlsen, suffering from throat infection, was involved in a draw for the fourth successive round after facing Aronian.

The results:

Fourth round: Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr, 2) drew with Viswanathan Anand (2.5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 3) bt Peter Svidler (Rus, 1); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm, 2.5); Peter Leko (Hun, 1.5) drew with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 2); Alexander Morozevich (Rus, 1.5) drew with Boris Gelfand (Isr, 2).


‘Alternate-day’ fasting the best bet to fight flab



BETTER STAY ON DIET: Mat exercises to get rid of abdomen flab are very easy to do, but care has to be taken that the back is not hurt.

 Alternate-day fasting can be the right way lose weight and boost cardio-vascular health, experts from University of Illinois at Chicago have suggested.

The conclusion was reached after observing 16 obese people-12 women and four men- who ordained to a 10-week trial of not eating any food every alternate day.

The age group of the studied people was around 35-65, while their weight was more than 210 pounds each.

Also, they had kept their weight stable for the previous three months, and had body mass indexes of between 30 and 39.9. Attention was given that none was diabetic, had a history of cardiovascular disease, was taking weight-loss or lipid- or glucose-lowering medications, or smoked.

The study was divided into three different phases. The first two weeks, participants ate and exercised normally.

While, between weeks three and six, participants ate normal meals one day then would fast the next. On fast days, participants ate the equivalent of a three-course lunch prepared by UIC’s Human Nutritional Research Center. The meal provided between 20 and 25 percent of daily energy needs.

However, in the final four weeks, participants chose on their own what to eat, based on what they had learned about meal sizes and food choices.

Krista Varady, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Nutrition, who led the UIC research team, said: “We wanted to see if they could actually do it by themselves – because what’s the point of studying this diet if you have to feed people meals prepared at metabolic kitchens all the time?” Researchers noted that weight loss ranged from 10 to 30 pounds; the researchers expected an average loss of only five pounds. To add to it, blood pressure and heart rate were lowered, along with total cholesterol and circulating fat levels.

Varady also said: “Why are some able to do it but others not? It takes about two weeks to adjust to the diet, after which people don’t feel hungry on the fast day.”

“We need to find out how long they can stay on this diet – and if they go off it, do they automatically regain the weight?” Varady added. The study was published in the November 1 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Kashmir’s Melody King Ghulam Hassan Sofi Dead

Veteran singer Ghulam Hassan Sofi, the melody king of Kashmir who had enthralled generations, died here today after a prolonged illness. He was 80.

Visually impaired Sofi died at SMHS Hospital and was later buried at his ancestral graveyard at Maletang in Dalgate area of the city.

Born on July 8, 1932 at Dalgate, Sofi began his career from the local station of All India Radio, known as Radio Kashmir, in early 1950’s and became very popular with the masses.

He also sang for Doordarshan Kendra, Srinagar, and the Cultural Academy besides working as an instructor in the Song and Drama Dvision from 1967 to 1994.

Sofi, who also performed outside the state, was a recipient of Sangeet Natak Academy Award. He had also received life time achievement award from the union Information Ministry and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah award from the state government in 2006.

Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir described Sofi as an epitome of Kashmiri culture and language who would be remembered for his philosophical and mystic recitals including the famed “Afsoos Duniya Kansi Na Loub…”

He said the void left in Kashmiri music world by the death of Sofi would be very difficult to fill.

Sabarimala visit to be hassle-free

Ayyappa devotees in twin cities can look forward for a hassle-free visit to Sabarimala this time with Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam deciding to set up helpdesks at important temples and stations across the State.

The first helpdesk will be inaugurated at Secunderabad railway station on November 13. The helpdesks will guide devotees about road and rail connectivity to Sabarimala, medical aid, food, cottages and other facilities available enroute Sabarimala. The facility will help thousands of devotees in all fronts in having darshan of Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala.

Problems faced

Informing this to presspersons here on Friday, Samajam president Venkateshwar Sharma Guruswamy said two Ayyappa devotees would be providing the required information to fellow devotees at each helpdesk.

The concept was mooted following problems being faced by Ayyappa swamis during their journey every year because of lack of proper information, he explained.

He said efforts were on to set up similar facilities in over 200 Ayyappa temples across the State.

“We are also planning to approach insurance companies to ensure insurance facility to Ayyappa swamis,” he said.

The Samajam would be organising ‘Viswa Shanti Shobha Yatra’ from NTR Stadium to Necklace Road on November 30 in which one lakh devotees will be participating, he added.


Seven security personnel among 17 killed in Pakistan violence

Pakistani rescue workers and police officers stand next to the wreckage of a rickshaw at the site of a suicide bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan on Monday.

AP Pakistani rescue workers and police officers stand next to the wreckage of a rickshaw at the site of a suicide bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan on Monday.
Seventeen people, including six soldiers and a policeman, were killed on Monday when Taliban militants targeted security personnel with a suicide bombing, rocket attack and a roadside blast in restive north-western region, the officials said.


A suicide bomber blew himself up near a police post in Pakistan’s north-western city of Peshawar, killing at least three people.

A policeman, who had stopped a motorized rickshaw in which the attacker was travelling, was among the dead, Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali Khan said.

Five people were wounded in the blast, which took place on a street leading to the main Ring Road in the capital of North-West Frontier Province.

The attack came a day after a suicide bomber killed an anti-Taliban mayor and militia leader and 12 other people at a cattle market on the city’s outskirts.

Peshawar has been hit by a string of attacks in recent weeks. More than 110 people were killed when a car bomb hit a crowded market last month.

The strikes were being seen as the Taliban’s response to Pakistan’s offensive against militants in the South Waziristan tribal district near the Afghan border.

The security forces were consolidating their position after expelling militants from their many strongholds, facing Taliban still offering resistance in some areas.

Four soldiers died and one was injured when the Islamist insurgents targeted a security post with rockets in Makeen. In retaliatory fire, eight militants died, said an Army statement on Monday.

With the latest killing casualties, the over-all death toll on the Taliban side in South Waziristan has reached 486, as against the 46 soldiers died in the combat.

The casualty figures cannot be verified independently because the conflict zone is closed to journalists.

Separately, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded near an Army vehicle in another tribal district of Bajaur, killing two troops.

One troop was also injured in the explosion that took place in Salarzai area of the district.

Fierce gun battle in West Midnapore between Naxals, forces

Fierce gun battles took place on Monday between Maoists and combined security forces at three places in West Midnapore district, a day after four EFR jawans were gunned down by the extremists at Gidhni bazar there.

According to State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen, the encounters continued for three to four hours. Any casualty or the exact places of occurrence of the gunfights were not known.

About Sunday’s ambush of the EFR jawans, Mr. Sen said there are several police camps in the vast Maoist-hit areas “which are regularly visited by senior officers“.

Mr. Sen said eight persons were killed in the Maoist belt in the previous days.

Asked if the Maoist influence was on the rise in the areas they were dominating, Mr. Sen said, “The situation is changing every moment“.

He said 3,500 new constables would be appointed all over the State. “Forces will be deployed at police stations in the Jangalmahal areas too”. Police deployment will be also made afresh in the civilian areas.

The Home Secretary admitted that the joint forces were yet to fully bring under control Binpur and Garbeta-II blocks where the Maoists have “greater influence”.


2011 WC: India to open campaign against Bangladesh

The Cricket WC trophy.


India will clash with Bangladesh in the opening match of the 2011 World Cup in Dhaka on February 19, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Monday.


The first match takes place two days after the opening ceremony of the 14-nation showpiece at the same venue, according to the schedule released by the ICC here.

The final of the 43-day tournament, to be co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, will take place at the renovated Wankhede Stadium here on April 2.

The teams have been divided into two groups of seven each for the preliminary league, with the top four from each group advancing to the quarterfinals.

Defending champion Australia heads Group A which includes Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya. The other group comprises India, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands.

India to host 29 matches

India will host 29 matches at eight venues, Sri Lanka 12 at three venues and Bangladesh eight at two places,.

The 2011 event is a week shorter than the one held in the Caribbean in 2007 and will have 49 matches, two less than the previous tournament.

“This announcement is an important indicator of the excellent progress we are making towards our flagship event which brings together teams from all our members in nation-versus-nation action,” ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.

“Preparation of venues and safety and security planning continues, and I am confident that the host countries will showcase our great sport with its great spirit in the best possible light.”

ICC vice president Sharad Pawar, who is chairman of the organising committee, said he looked forward to a great tournament.

“The sub-continent offers some great facilities for the cricketers, spectators, sponsors and media, with some brand new stadia to be built and others to be upgraded,” said Pawar.

“The schedule will allow the venues to focus on the task at hand to plan and implement their preparations, and ensure they are ready to welcome the world to this beautiful, historic and cricket-loving region in 2011.”

The groupings: Group A: Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya.

Group B: India, South Africa, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands.

The venues: India (29 matches): Mumbai, Mohali, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi. Sri Lanka (12 matches): Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele. Bangladesh (8 matches): Dhaka and Chittagong.

The fixtures: Feb. 17: Opening ceremony (Dhaka); Feb. 19: India v Bangladesh (Dhaka); Feb. 20: New Zealand v Kenya (Chennai) and Sri Lanka v Canada (Hambantota); Feb. 21: Australia v Zimbabwe (Ahmedabad); Feb. 22: England v Netherlands (Nagpur); Feb. 23: Pakistan v Kenya (Hambantota); Feb. 24: South Africa v West Indies (New Delhi); Feb 25: Australia v New Zealand (Nagpur) and Bangladesh v Ireland (Dhaka); Feb. 26: Sri Lanka v Pakistan (Colombo); Feb. 27: India v England (Kolkata); Feb. 28: West Indies v Netherlands (New Delhi) and Zimbabwe v Canada (Nagpur).

March 1: Sri Lanka v Kenya (Colombo); Mar. 2: England v Ireland (Bangalore); Mar. 3: South Africa v Netherlands (Mohali) and Pakistan v Canada (Colombo); Mar. 4: New Zealand v Zimbabwe (Ahmedabad) and Bangladesh v West Indies (Dhaka); Mar. 5 : Sri Lanka v Australia (Colombo); Mar. 6: India v Ireland (Bangalore) and England v South Africa (Chennai); Mar. 7: Kenya v Canada (New Delhi); Mar. 8: Pakistan v New Zealand (Pallekele); Mar. 9: India v Netherlands (New Delhi); Mar. 10: Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe (Pallekele); Mar. 11: West Indies v Ireland (Mohali) and Bangladesh v England (Chittagong); Mar. 12: India v South Africa (Nagpur); Mar 13: New Zealand v Canada (Mumbai) and Australia v Kenya (Bangalore); Mar. 14: Pakistan v Zimbabwe (Pallekele) and Bangladesh v Netherlands (Chittagong); Mar. 15: South Africa v Ireland (Kolkata); Mar. 16: Australia v Canada (Bangalore); Mar. 17: England v West Indies (Chennai); Mar. 18: Sri Lanka v New Zealand (Mumbai) and Ireland v Netherlands (Kolkata); Mar. 19: Australia v Pakistan (Colombo) and Bangladesh v South Africa (Dhaka); Mar. 20: India v West Indies (Chennai) and Zimbabwe v Kenya (Kolkata).

Quarterfinals: Mar. 23 (Dhaka), Mar. 24 (Colombo), Mar. 25 (Dhaka), Mar. 26 (Ahmedabad).

Semifinals: Mar. 29 (Colombo) and Mar. 30 (Mohali).

Final: April 2 (Mumbai).

Shobha Karandlaje resigns from Karnataka Cabinet

Minister for Rural Development Shobha Karandlaje clearing files at her office at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Nov. 6, 2009. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy


Minister for Rural Development Shobha Karandlaje clearing files at her office at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Nov. 6, 2009. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy
The truce between the warring sides in Karnataka BJP on Monday claimed its first political victim when the controversial woman minister Shobha Karandlaje, a confidante of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, was forced to resign under pressure from rebels.


The 45-year-old Panchayat Raj Minister tendered her resignation which was immediately accepted by Mr. Yeddyurappa, who had late on Sunday night said there was no question of removal of any minister.

But this morning, he backtracked to say that the Core Committee to be constituted to monitor the party affairs will decide which are the ministers to be removed.

The only woman member of the Cabinet and the first-time MLA from Yeshwantpur constituency in the city, Ms. Karndlaje was the target of dissident MLAs, led by the Reddy brothers, who had attacked her for her being accorded prominence by the Chief Minister. They also charged her with “interfering” with the functioning of other ministries.

“Shobha Karandlaje tendered her resignation on Monday and the Chief Minister has accepted it and forwarded it to the Governor”, said the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

Earlier on Friday, the Chief Minister had shunted out his Principal Secretary V P Baligar to Industry department under pressure from the dissidents.

Australia announces new visa measures for students

Melbourne, Nov 9 (IANS) The Australian government is introducing new measures to assist overseas students, including many Indians, affected by the closure of an international education provider, a minister said Monday.

 Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans said that from Jan 1, 2010, overseas students who require a new visa to complete their studies at another school or college will be exempt from paying the A$540 (approx. Rs.22,500) student visa application charge.

 Just this year alone, 12 education providers have closed affecting about 4,700 students.

 Evans said that although most students will be able to complete their studies on their existing student visa, some may need to enrol in a new course that finishes after their existing student visa expires and will require a new visa.

 ‘In situations where an education provider can no longer offer a course, the government’s primary concern is the welfare of the student.’

 ‘We understand that these situations are not the fault of the student and the introduction of a fee exemption will ensure they are not shouldered with an additional financial burden,’ Evans said.

 Students will be able to apply to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) for a refund of their visa application fee if they have been affected by the closure of an education provider in 2009 and have had to apply for a new student visa.

 The government is also increasing the minimum financial requirements for overseas students to ensure they can meet their living costs while in Australia.

 From Jan 1, 2010, prospective overseas students will need to demonstrate that they have access to at least A$18,000 (approx Rs.748,000) a year to fund their living costs in Australia, instead of the current A$12,000 (approx Rs.498,000).

 Evans said: ‘It is important that students understand these financial requirements are only the minimum amount required for a student visa.’

 ‘International students can supplement their income through part-time work in Australia but the primary purpose of a student visa is to study and students should not rely on part-time work to meet their expenses.’

 The measures target parts of the student visa caseload in India, Mauritius, Nepal, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

 There are over 500,000 international students in Australia pursuing university education and vocational studies of which about 94,000 are Indians – the second highest after the Chinese.

 Thousands of Indians are enrolled in vocational courses in government and private Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes.

 In recent years, Australia’s education industry has boomed to become the country’s third-largest foreign currency earner after coal and iron ore, generating about $12 billion in revenue in 2008. Indian students in Australia alone contribute $3.5 billion a year to the economy.

 An official said since these enhanced integrity measures were introduced, there has been an increase in the number of applications being withdrawn, from five percent in July to 17 percent in September.

 ‘To date, more than 150 agents have had their eVisa access suspended due to evidence of fraud or inactivity.’

 Indo Asian News Service


75 percent Indian engineering students unemployable: Report

 New Delhi  (IANS) Discussing a report by software industry group Nasscom which says that 75 percent engineering students in India are unemployable, education experts here Saturday said that the Indian higher education system must give skill building and practical training equal importance as academics to give them an edge.

 A.D. Sahasrabudhu, director of the College of Engineering, Pune said that one of the major reasons why engineers, even from reputed institutes, are not easily employed because they lack hands-on skill.

 ‘The focus in most institutes here is always on academics and theory. Thus a mechanical engineer may actually not know how to change a part of a machine. Therefore even if a high scoring student gets placed in a good company, eventually that lack of practical knowledge catches up,’ Sahasrabudhu said during a panel discussion at the sixth Higher Education Summit organised by Federation of of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

 ‘From our experience we now know that practical, hands-on training is very crucial in the education system,’ he added.

 In their latest report released in the last week of October, National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) said that Indian IT firms reject 90 percent of college graduates and 75 percent of engineers who apply for jobs because they are not good enough to be trained.

 And because there is such a dearth of competent people, companies like Infosys increased its training of employees to 29 weeks from this year. That’s seven months of training, the report added.

 Richard Kerly, a Scottish university professor, who had participated in the discussion said: ‘Just recently I came to know that Citi Bank had started its recruiting process here, but was not going to campuses placement cells.

 ‘The possible reason is that students here, although brilliant, don’t have an edge when it comes to putting theories to practice.’

 Sudhir Matthew, Dean, Ecole Hoteliere Lavasa, Lavasa Corporation Limited, Pune said: ‘The scene is very similar in the hospitality industry. Lack of hands-on trained students have forced hotel chains like the Oberoi, Taj and ITC to open their own hotel schools where the students are trained as per their needs.

 ‘Tourism will grow at a rate of 8.8 percent till 2015 in India, making it one of the fastest growing markets but there is a serious lack of skilled hands. Academics combined with practical training is therefore very important to meet this shortage which is estimated at 3.2 million.’

 Indo Asian News Service

NIIT University to start this week

Education services provider NIIT today said it will formally inaugurate its first university this week and plans to enrol 5,000 students annually in the next five years.

“Our first NIIT University will open at Nimrana, Rajasthan, this weekend. To start with, we will have 400 students and our plan is to increase annual enrolment to 5,000 students in the next five years,” NIIT chairman Rajender Pawar told PTI on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit.

He said the university will start with a few selected disciplines, including science, education and biotechnology. “Our focus would be on increasing the number of disciplines in the years to come. We will next open a business school and then introduce other courses,” he added.

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ grabs 5 nods at European Film Awards



Slumdog Millionaire has not yet finished its victorious run at award ceremonies as the Mumbai-based potboiler has picked up five nods at the 2009 European Film Awards.

While British director Danny Boyle has been nominated for the award of ‘Best European Director’, Dev Patel has been nominated to receive ‘Best European Actor’ prize, reported Ace Showbiz online.

The rags-to-riches film which won eight Academy Awards this year has also been nominated in ‘Best European Film’, ‘Best European Screenwriter’ and ‘Best European Cinematographer’ categories.

Competing with Slumdog Millionaire in the five categories is Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, which leads the pack with six nominations.

At the same event, Penelope Cruz is nominated for ’Best European Actress’ for her role in Broken Embraces and her competition includes Kate Winslet in The Reader, and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist.

The winner of the 22nd European Film Awards will be announced at a gala night which is going to be held on December 12 in Bochum, Germany.

German comedy star Anke Engelke will serve as the host of the show, while British director Ken Loach and French actress Isabelle Huppert will be among the guests of the event.

Acer goes 3-D

 3D Laptop

 Close on the heels of the first Android laptop, Acer has announced a full-size laptop that displays 3-D content. Just put on a pair of those strange wraparound glasses, a pair of which is packed with the computer.

 It is a novelty, and one that we expect will run out of gas sooner or later. But innovation is the name of the game here, and the $780 Acer 5738DG hits that mark with its TriDef 3D package, which includes the specially coated 15-inch screen and software. The TriDef app also enables 2-D to 3-D conversion in games and applications supporting DirectX 9 and above. And, yes, it comes with Windows 7.

 The thinnest one

 Sony claims its latest VAIO X is the world’s lightest and thinnest laptop. At 655 gm and just about a half-inch thin, it is anyway setting a new benchmark in notebook technology. Despite its slender looks, the durable carbon fiber body ensures the X Series absorbs the bumps and knocks of daily use and travel.

 For reinforced durability, the X features a solid state drive with no moving parts, seamless aluminium keyboard panel for structural rigidity and an 11.1″ scratch-resistant widescreen display.


It has a multi-touch pad which can help zoom in and out, flip through pictures, rotate items and scroll vertically and horizontally without even touching a mouse. The X series is loaded with Windows 7 but comes at a fat price of Rs 64,990 plus.


Perfect photo scanner


Epson’s latest Perfection V600 Photo Scanner has been designed for the demanding photo enthusiasts. It features a class-leading optical resolution of 6400 x 9600 dpi that provides unbeatable image quality as well as Epson’s proprietary Digital ICE (Image Correction Engine) Technology that uses both hardware and software processes to remove dust and scratch marks from film and photo scans. Equipped with ReadyScan LED Technology, the scanner’s LED lamp requires no warm up time. The V600 is priced at an affordable Rs 16,999 for the features it sports.


Light without power


Appliance maker Jaipan has something for power-cut hit rural, and urban, India – a bulb with a power backup. Jaipan’s Magic Bulb can illuminate without power for about five hours using backup power saved in its battery. The bulb consumes only 1.6 watt and gives out illumination of 9 watt. The Magic Bulb is priced Rs 350.