China says no google complaint

China has pledged to punish hackers who attacked Google if there is evidence to prove it, but said it has yet to receive any complaint from the world’s top search engine.

Google sent shockwaves across business and political circles in January when it declared it would stop censoring Chinese search results, and threatened to pull out of China — the world’s largest online community with 384 million users at the end of last year — over hacking and censorship concerns.

Google had never filed a report to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology over the cyber attacks or sought negotiations, Vice Minister Miao Wei was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua late on Saturday.

“If Google has had evidence that the attacks came from China, the Chinese government will welcome them to provide the information and will severely punish the offenders according to the law,” Miao said.

“We never support hacking attacks because China also falls victim to hacking attacks,” he said.

Google also never informed the ministry that it was planning to withdraw from China, Miao added, speaking on the sidelines of the annual session of parliament.

“If Google decides to continue its business in China and abides by China’s laws, it’s welcome to stay,” he said, vowing to continue providing a sound investment environment for foreign investors and protect their legitimate rights.

“If the company chooses to withdraw from the Chinese market, it must go through certain procedures according to the law and regulations and deal with customers’ problems that may arise.”

A Google spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Last Friday Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong said China was in consultations with Google to resolve the issue. Li did not elaborate.

The dispute about Internet censorship has added to tensions over issues ranging from trade and the Chinese currency, to U.S. arms sale to self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, and a recent meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The hacking issue made headlines again in late February after reports in the Western media that the attacks had been traced to two schools in China, and the writer of the spyware used had been identified as a Chinese security consultant in his 30s with government links.

The Chinese government has denied Google’s accusation that the hackers were based in China, calling the claim “groundless.

Woman believed oldest in US dies at age 114

A woman certified as the oldest person living in the United States has died.

Mary Josephine Ray, who was born in Canada, died on Sunday at a nursing home in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, at age 114 years and 294 days old.

The Gerontology Research Group says that until her death, Ms. Ray was the oldest person in the United States and the second-oldest person in the world.

The oldest living American is Neva Morris of Ames, Iowa, who is 114 years, 216 days.

The oldest person in the world is Kama Chinen of Japan. She is 114 years, 301 days.

Ms. Ray was born in Prince Edward Island, Canada. She moved to the United States at age three. She lived for 60 years in Anson, Maine, and moved to Westmoreland in 2002 to be near her children.

Railways registers 8 per cent increase in earnings

The Railways registered an over eight per cent increase in earnings during the first ten months of the ongoing financial year, with its revenue swelling to Rs 77,890 crore.

The PSU earned Rs 77,890.29 crore between April-February as against 71,821.97 crore it earned during the same period last year, thus registering an increase of 8.45 per cent.

Out of the total earnings, it earned Rs 52,584 crore from goods traffic and 21,400 crore from passenger traffic, said an official release.

The total revenue earnings from other sources was Rs 2,087 crore during this period, the release added.

The total approximate numbers of passengers booked during this period were 6,780.87 million compared to 6,485.20 million during the same period last year, an increase of 4.56 per cent.

In the suburban and non-suburban sectors, the numbers of passengers booked during the 10 month period were 3,520.40 million and 3,260.47 million respectively, the release said.

Tirupati idols, ‘laddu’ for Obama

The governing body of the Tirumala temple at Tirupati is planning to present a golden idol of Lord Venkateswara and prasad to US President Barack Obama.

 “The organisers of Kalyanotsavam (a special puja) at New Jersey are planning to invite Obama. We also want to present him a golden idol of Lord Venkateshwara,” TTD chairman D K Adikesavulu Naidu told reporters.

“He (Obama) believes in Hinduism, Lord Hanuman and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. We also want to give him laddu prasadam, our publications, everything we can give him,” he said.

Naidu said he would seek an appointment with Obama if he does not attend the function at New Jersey.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, the governing body, would organise Kalyanotsavam at various places in the country to propagate Hindu philosophy, he said.

On April 21, the Kalyanotsavam would be held in New Delhi; he said but did not announce the date for the New Jersey programme.

Naidu said security arrangements are being spruced up but there is no specific information of any threat.

 He also said a dress code for the employees will be announced soon

Ad rules to take in use of Twitter and Facebook

Proposal would extend Advertising Standards Agency role to include marketing activity on social media and microsites

 Tighter controls on the how Twitter accounts and Facebook profiles are used in company promotions are set to be introduced under new digital advertising restrictions partly designed to protect children.

The Advertising Association, the industry body which represents the UK advertising and media industry, has agreed a set of proposals to tighten some digital advertising practices so that they are policed by the Advertising Standards Authority in the same way as TV, press, poster and radio ads.

The ASA regulates all paid-for digital advertising, such as banners and display ads on websites, but so far does not police advertising activity on a company’s own website, a campaign microsite or the via profiles on sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

“The industry has delivered a clear mandate that first and foremost will protect consumers and children [and] that will also protect editorial content,” said Rae Burdon, chief operating officer at the AA.

The recommendations still have to be accepted by the Committee for Advertising Practice, which is overhauling the non-broadcasting advertising code and will launch a consultation on the proposals. But with such broad industry consensus, it is thought that the new rules will come into force in the third quarter this year.

“This is a significant step for both advertising and the internet,” said Nick Stringer, director of regulatory affairs at the Internet Advertising Bureau, a key player in the year-long negotiations to agree the new proposals.

The extension to the ad code will ensure that all online marketing will have to be responsible, legal, honest and truthful under the same regulations as, say, press and poster ads.

The process to develop the new codes stalled last year when it emerged that Google was balking at being involved in the necessary extension of the funding and industry levy collection mechanism of the ASA. A deal was reached with Google and the search engine industry in November.

Hurt Locker sweeps Oscar crown; director Bigelow first woman to win

Kathryn Bigelow accepts the Oscar for best achievement in directing for “The Hurt Locker” from presenter Barbara Streisand at the 82nd Academy Awards

Oscar night always captures the imagination of millions worldwide with its classic blend of the Hollywood royalty, glimpses of movie-making magic and the ceaseless speculation on who would win the most coveted crowns. This year, on a grey Sunday evening in Los Angeles, the 82nd Academy Awards did not disappoint.

With a riveting showdown building between a goliath feel-good blockbuster and a relatively unknown new entrant on a controversial subject, audiences were kept guessing until the very end about whether Avatar or The Hurt Locker would win in the Best Film and Best Director categories. The fact that they were respectively directed by James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow, who used to be married to each other, only heightened the sense of a movie-like plot within the Oscars.

And the day belonged to The Hurt Locker, which swept the coveted prize of Best Picture. It was also a double triumph for Kathryn Bigelow who became the first woman to be awarded Best Director. She dedicated her victory to men and women in uniform world over. The Hurt Locker snatched up six awards in total, a tidy sum for a film made on a budget of $11 million, compared to Avatar’s nearly $400 million. Avatar won three academy awards this evening.

In an unusual shift from previous years, the number of films nominated for the Best Picture award was increased from five to 10. The last time 10 films were nominated was back in 1943, when Casablanca won. “After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year,” said Sid Ganis, president of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Sandra Bullock wins Best Actress

In an equally polarised competition for the Best Actress award, newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, who was highly acclaimed for her role in Precious, as a poor, abused African American struggling against the odds in New York, was pitched against stalwarts of Hollywood like Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Sandra Bullock. Bullock, who was nominated for her Sarah-Palin-esque soccer-mom performance in The Blind Side went on to win the award. However another star of Precious, Mo’Nique, walked away with the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award.

Among the men Jeff Bridges struck gold in the Best Actor category, beating out some impressive rivals such as George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Colin Firth and Jeremy Rener. Bridges, who is from a lineage of actors, said, “Thank you Mum and Dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession”. Christoph Waltz took home the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for Inglourious Basterds, a quirky and violent rewriting of World War II by Quentin Tarantino.

But as always, the glitter of Oscar night was about so much more than just the top awards. The Academy cinematically remembered its knights who had fallen during the course of the year including Patrick Swayze, David Carradine, Ron Silver, Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson and Natasha Richardson. And of course Hollywood wouldn’t be Hollywood without the usual dose of tomfoolery – ably provided this time by hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, and Ben Stiller who turned up as a blue Naavi warrior (from Avatar). Presenting the award for best make-up, he said, “After I announce the winner I will try to stand as far away as possible so as not to demean their moment of triumph”.

Facebook Better Social Media Marketing Intimacy- Twitter Better Viral Expediency

Twitter or Facebook. Orange Juice with or without the pulp. Which is better for your particular business or entrepreneurial Social Media Internet marketing strategy? Okay, so maybe orange juice can’t directly benefit your Social Media Marketing strategies unless you need the Vitamin C to help your eyes better focus on all the information I’m about to provide you. While there’s no doubt that Facebook, Twitter, or both can reap big benefits for your products or services. The bigger question has become which one and why?

So I’m going to get right to the point and do a deeper analysis of a couple facets of Facebook verse Twitter from a Social Media Internet Marketing perspective for businesses and online marketers. And best of all, being the founder of Irbtrax Social Media Internet Marketing optimization. I get to do the final editing of all my work.

Comparison of Twitter verse Facebook as an effective Social Media intimacy platform:

Social Media Intimacy is a buzzword for direct audience communication and interactive exchanges. Facebook is a naturally interactive community due to its ‘wall’ feature. A feature where Facebook users can publish updates, important news or offers which allow for direct commentary. This information, and the related comments, remain visible for long periods of time depending on the activity level. Or they can be reposted at a later date if archived. Additionally, Facebook has an instant message feature that allows you to communicate globally. A free online conference call.

The level of intimacy (interactivity) on Twitter is far lower due to Tweet ‘turnover’. Which makes open dialogue very difficult especially if you have a large following or a high Tweet Volume. Twitter has a direct message component that allows you to alert or update a select follower. This is a handy feature but it’s not yet streamlined for optimal interactivity. Due partly to character length restrictions as well as timing issues since the average user appears to stay logged into Twitter for about 7 minutes at a time.

Advantage: Facebook

Comparison of Viral Marketing benefits for breaking news or creative content:

Twitter Tweets offer strong viral marketing benefits. Creative or newsworthy Tweets can take on the characteristics of a rapidly spreading Press Release. When retransmitted by your followers they are then picked up by their followers resulting in massive exposure. Additionally, Google’s “Real Time” search feature will stream live Tweets for various keyword search phrases at different times. This is a huge benefit that can’t be overlooked. The only difficulty- There’s no set schedule for when this happens so you have to engage in a little Internet Market research to determine which Keyword Phrases are the most common found in “Real Time” SERP’s. Lastly, you can directly measure the viral effectiveness of your Tweets using 3rd party sources. This information allows you to determine which topics are the most popular and maximize your Twitter results.

Facebook is more limited in this area because their ‘share’ feature doesn’t appear to have as strong a viral impact partially due to Facebook being a more closed community at the moment. A follower has the option to comment, share, or do both. Because of these options Facebook’s share results can be diminished by followers who prefer to comment. However, given that it’s much easier to build a large following on Facebook due to the sheer volume of users- Unique, creative or newsworthy information posted on your ‘wall’ can spread virally within this community. However, it’s much more difficult to measure the extent of the viral benefit of the various content or important news published on your Facebook.

Advantage: Twitter

Comparison of unique results from using Facebook or Twitter:

As mentioned above. Facebook has a much larger community than Twitter. Facebook has an Alexa ranking of 2 compared to Twitter’s ranking of 12. When researching upstream traffic, the amount of visits to a website that Facebook or Twitter provides, Facebook almost always wins and wins big. Keep in mind that these results are spread across all markets. Business to Consumer, Business to Business, News, Entertainment and Resource sites. The vast majority of websites on the Internet are Resource (broad based or topic specific information sites including local, state and federal government) and Business to Consumer sites. Followed by Business to Business, Entertainment and News sites.

Facebook appears to have a large advantage in the Business to Consumer and overall Entertainment market. An advantage in the Resource sites market. A virtual tie in the News sites market at the moment. However, independent studies show that in the Business to Business market Twitter has pulled ahead of Facebook. So here’s a case of picking the best platform for your particular niche and understanding its strengths and limitations because smaller sub categories within the above larger categories often favor Twitter.

Advantage: Facebook except in the Business to Business and News markets.

Conclusion- To maximize your Social Media Internet marketing results it’s best to create a presence on both Facebook and Twitter. If trying to decide which one you want to engage first, or where to spend the most amount of your available time, follow this rough rule of thumb. Start with Twitter if you have an available collection of important news, information, or opinions you want to share. And share immediately. If you’re initial objective is to create a strong Social Media presence by leveraging your existing online presence and being interactive then Facebook would be the best place to start. If you’re in the Business to Business market start with Twitter. If you’re in the Business to Consumer market start with Facebook. However, it’s very clear that in either case you can’t go wrong. Providing you perform basic Internet Market research, apply the findings to your Target Audience, and weigh the strengths of each platform.

—-jazzou

Microsoft India unveils Windows Azure

Rajan Anandan, MD, Microsoft India gestures during the launch of Windows Azure in New Delhi

 Global software giant Microsoft on Monday unveiled a portfolio of services in India that will help companies share software and storage facilities, called cloud computing, that can bring down their total IT spend by as much as 50 per cent.

Windows Azure — the company’s latest offering in the area of cloud computing — is now available commercially in India, said Microsoft India group Director Vikas Arora. “Some 3,500 applications for Azure have been developed out of India alone,” Arora told IANS.

In cloud computing, companies share computer resources — such as servers, software and data storage —— through the Internet, instead of setting up such infrastructure at their own end.

This kind of computing has become a smart way of doing businesses and such offerings are estimated to have generated about $45 billion in revenues for service providers in 2008, and are projected to soar to $150 billion by 2013.

“We are today in India across all the three layers of cloud — infrastructure, platform or the set of services that are on offer,” Arora said, adding cost is one of the key benefits for a company that opts for such services.

Both individuals and companies are already using cloud computing with services such as webmail and sharing of software and other applications. The concept is evolving into a simple, pay-per-use way to get services on tap, just like electricity, for businesses.

The cloud is also a green way to do business. Organisations don’t need to set up server banks running lots of software — just pay for what you use. The provider services many users from one set of equipment, halving energy and equipment cost per user.

According to Microsoft, companies have reported anywhere between 16-49 per cent reduction in their total spend on information technology and related services over a three-year period after migrating to cloud computing.

The company has already launched several products and solutions in India in other layers of cloud computing as part of its overall strategy for enterprises, even as security of data by using such shared services continues to be a concern.

But Microsoft said it was aware of the issue and had strong data security protocol.

“Keeping the customers’ confidence would be the key to further cloud computing. We have actually gone threadbare on all the aspects of data security. We got all our facilities specifically audited to meet the security standards,” said Arora.

“A breach can happen anywhere in the pipeline. So, everybody involved needs to focus on best practices — for coding and securing applications.”

Social Website such as Facebook & Twitter Create – A Havoc in Office

Social websites such as Facebook and Twitter are getting more and more popular among all sorts of people these days. But a great concern is also rising up because of these social networking websites. most employees in offices use company computers to browse these social websites and hence employers are forced to take strict actions because according to them browsing social networking websites during working hours lowers the productivity of the employee and hence the team.

Social website such as Facebook & Twitter create a diversion in the office as the employees tend to surf them during their normal working hours and hence the amount of time for which they work sincerely gets reduced. Hence most offices have put a block on these social networking websites using their dedicated firewall so that the employees can concentrate more on the task that has been assigned to them.

M.F. Husain surrenders passport

Legendary painter M.F. Husain, who was recently granted Qatari citizenship, has surrendered his Indian passport to the country’s mission in Doha, a media report said on Monday.

95-year-old Husain, revered by many as India’s Picasso, on Sunday went to the country’s mission in Doha and surrendered his Indian passport, the Gulf Times reported. Husain, who has been living in self-imposed exile for nearly four years following a spate of cases in India over his controversial paintings of Hindu goddesses, had accepted Qatar’s offer and would no longer be an Indian, said his son Owais Husain.

India does not recognise dual citizenship. So, “in such a situation, surrendering passport by the person concerned is mandatory and Husain has only done that,” an Indian Embassy official was quoted as saying by the paper.

The artist has also applied for the Overseas Citizen of India card, the mission sources said, adding the embassy has facilitated all requirements for him to obtain the OCI card.

He also had a nearly two-hour meeting with Indian Ambassador in Qatar Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, the sources said. Husain, who shuttles between Dubai and London, went in exile after a hate campaign was launched against him in 2006 over his controversial paintings.

Several cases were filed against him by people protesting his portrayal of Hindu goddesses in the nude. His house was attacked and art works vandalised by fundamentalists in India. Indian government has described Husain as “pride of India” and said it was willing to provide security to him.

“There is no case against M F Husain. Supreme Court has quashed all the cases against him,” Home Secretary G K Pillai had recently said. He said the government was ready to provide security to the artist if he planned to return.

“He (Husain) is the pride of India,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said, adding, “I would like him to feel safe and secure in India”.

After handing over his passport, Husain said though he was giving up the Indian citizenship he would continue to be known as an Indian and he was only proud about that. Husain said he was returning the Indian passport as dual citizenship was not allowed by both India and Qatar.

“Citizenship and passport were a matter of a piece of paper. Accepting Qatar citizenship would not mean that I would cease to be an Indian or artist of India. Remaining an Indian would be my birthright and there are millions in India who still love me,” Husain was quoted as saying by the Gulf edition of Malayalam daily Madhyamam.

India is a country with rich cultural heritage and only minuscule minuscule minority ignorant of its liberal traditions who had made a hue and cry over my pictures, said Husain.

“Art is universal and something that transcends all artificial boundaries. I am just a living being in the universe created by God. I will have a small patch of land on the earth when I die. Where I am going to be buried on this earth is not a problem that affects me,” he said.

Asked if his acceptance of Qatari citizenship was a ploy to overcome income tax problems in India, Husain said he was a person who paid income tax in India for his paintings sold in Singapore for Rs 25 crore.

White House tweeting spreads Obama’s message

 

In this file photo, Obama Senior Adviser David Axelrod, left, and then-Press Secretary-designate Robert Gibbs, centre, check their BlackBerry E-Mail devices as White House Chief of Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel, listens at right while President-elect Barack Obama, spoke during a news conference in Washington.

Blending behind—the—scenes nuggets with a defence of President Barack Obama’s record, White House and administration officials increasingly are communicating through Twitter.

The popular social network is operating as a Web—based clearinghouse for public statements on weighty subjects (the federal budget) and the mundane (personal grocery lists). It’s similar to a bulletin board where anyone can post short notes and users cull the pieces they see by choosing to “follow” individuals’ account.

Forget press releases. White House press secretary Gibbs, and his deputy, Bill Burton, are now sharing news in Twitter messages. So far 33,000 people have signed up to follow Mr. Gibbs and more than 6,000 are tracking Mr. Burton. Those two officials have a ways to go to catch actor Ashton Kutcher, and his 4.6 million followers.

“Wow unreal game… POTUS watched OT in his office right off the Oval Office – all of us are so proud of our great team,” Mr. Gibbs tweeted during the men’s Olympic hockey finals last Sunday, when the Americans lost the gold medal game to Canada in overtime. POTUS is the acronym for president of the United States.

These are hardly the stodgy pronouncements one expects from the president’s top spokesmen. But as Mr. Obama’s team continues an online strategy set in place during the campaign and imported to the White House, it seems only natural that they would make it a piece of a broader communications plan that extends across the government.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, tweets about diplomacy, Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela, tweets about the Western Hemisphere and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, tweets about trade.

“Welcome back, furloughed DOTers!” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, tweeted recently to his employees.

With a news cycle now measured in seconds rather than days, administration officials recognize they must embrace this rapid pace and use the same tactics as the critics who assail them and the reporters who cover them. Mr.Gibbs, who is Mr. Obama’s chief defender, has signalled that the White House won’t cede any ground online.

Twitter began four years ago as a ubiquitous microblogging site to follow the activities of celebrities such as Lance Armstrong, the bicycling champion whose account was the first one Gibbs followed.

Since then, it has proved to be a powerful tool for mobilizing causes and protest movements by allowing people to use common phrases to link subjects by theme. In Washington, that translates into hashtags – key words preceded by the symbol for a pound sign, such as (pound sign)whitehouse – that users key in to find connected nuggets.

“There’s a whole language, obviously, and typing with numbers and symbols that has evaded me,” Mr. Gibbs said. “I’m sure my son could teach me that far better than I could pick it up.”

Twitter also lets users communicate directly with each other, either through public messages using (at) symbols or through private messages. In many ways, it can be used as an e—mail system in which messages are completely public but limited to just 140 letters, numbers or symbols.

Mr. Obama’s aides are fast students of Twitter’s etiquette and uses. The White House announced Mr. Obama’s first news conference on Twitter last year. Mr. Burton has been known to clarify Mr. Gibbs’ comments while Mr. Gibbs is still speaking from the White House podium. Officials share with their followers news reports the White House views as positive.

Mr. Burton explained – in a tweet, no less – the approach.

“(At)PressSec is using this new medium in a way that gets information out quickly and effectively tracks what is on the minds of our press corps,” he responded to a tweet from this reporter, PElliottAP.

Mr. Obama’s campaign team built an Internet—based direct engagement model to win the White House and adapted the plan once in Washington. At the Democratic National Committee, aides continue to update the political BarackObama account, which operates separately from the White House tweets. Those are treated as formal communications and will be filed away as part of the presidential archive along with legal memos and policy documents.

In tandem with their quick bursts of information on Twitter, the online White House routinely turns to its blog, Facebook page or YouTube channel where Mr. Obama now posts his weekly address.

“All of these things are basically entirely new to the government, but have become a standard part of White House operations, with top White House officials recognizing their value and placing them as top priorities, giving the public equal footing in a world where, for most of history, government has had to engage and communicate with them through the press or interest groups,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro, said.

For instance, 60,000 people went to the White House Web site last fall to watch Mr. Obama speak to a joint session of Congress on health care, and one—third of them stayed on the site after it was over to talk with administration officials about the speech.

Macon Phillips, the White House new media director who tweets as macon44, said the online chat allowed officials to get “a taste of what questions the actual public had in raw form – rather than simply the questions cable news and Beltway pundits have.”

Women’s Bill moved in Rajya Sabha amid pandemonium

The landmark Women’s Reservation Bill was moved for consideration in the Rajya Sabha on Monday amidst unprecedented scenes of pandemonium.

While some members, including the RJD’s Rajniti Prasad, tore the copy of the Bill, Kamal Akhtar and Nand Kishore Yadav of the SP and some others tried to reach the Chair raising slogans against the Bill.

The SP and the RJD members tried to uproot the mike on the table of the Chairman and threw the stationery placed on it.

The security attendants immediately swung into action and shielded the Chairman to prevent the agitated members from climbing on the table.

The unprecedented pandemonium was witnessed as soon as Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily moved for consideration of the Bill which provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

One killed, 11 injured in stampede during a police recruitment drive at the Kalina grounds

A 22-year-old police aspirant was killed and 11 others injured in a stampede that broke out during a police recruitment drive at the Kalina grounds here on Monday.

As soon as the gates of the ground were opened, thousands of youth forced their way in. They jumped over the barricades set up on the ground and fell on each other as well as on the police personnel who were trying to stop them, police said.

One person was killed in the ensuing melee.

Around 30,000 youth had gathered at the ground since last night to submit their forms for 3600 vacant posts of police constables, police said.

“The deceased has been identified as Ramesh Amer from Ahmednagar district and the injured have been admitted to a nearby hospital,” Additional Commissioner of Police Amitabh Gupta said.

Auto sales in February a new record

A view of parked cars in Chennai Port Trust. The February sales surpassed the previous record of 11,14,157 units achieved in January this year.

The Indian auto industry today said its February sales have been the highest ever for a month breaking the earlier record, which was set only in January this year, as consumers rushed to beat a possible hike in prices following the Budget.

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the total sales in domestic market stood at 11,29,783 units, up 34.98 per cent over 8,37,017 units in the year-ago period.

The February sales surpassed the previous record of 11,14,157 units achieved in January this year.

The domestic passenger car segment too posted the highest ever sales at 1,53,845 units against 1,15,505 units, up 33.20 per cent, in the corresponding month last year. It was the 11th straight month of growth for the segment.

Earlier, the car manufacturers had touched the peak in January this year at 1,45,905 units.

During the month, all the major manufacturers, including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor and General Motors reported their individual best sales ever.

“The highest ever sales by the auto industry was achieved mainly because of the preponement of buying as people truly anticipated an excise duty hike in the Budget. Also it was pushed little by pent up demand,” SIAM Director General Dilip Chenoy told reporters here.

The industry is expected to continue the robust uphill drive in the current month also as customers would try to avoid another obvious price hike in April on account of shifting to a stricter emission norms, he added.

Over 200 dead in communal violence in Nigeria

Rioters armed with machetes slaughtered more than 200 people overnight on Sunday as communal violence flared anew between Christians and Muslims in central Nigeria, witnesses said. Hundreds of people fled their homes, fearing reprisal attacks.

The bodies of the dead – including many women and children – lined dusty streets in three mostly Christian villages south of the regional capital of Jos, local journalists and a civil rights group said. They said at least 200 bodies had been counted by Sunday afternoon.

Torched homes smoldered after the 3 a.m. attacks that a region-wide curfew enforced by the country’s police and military should have stopped.

Jos lies in Nigeria’s “middle belt,” where dozens of ethnic groups mingle in a band of fertile and hotly contested land separating the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south.

In Dogo Nahawa, a village three miles (five kilometers) south of Jos, residents said the dead included a four-day-old infant. Those who survived claimed their attackers shouted at them in Hausa and Fulani — two local languages used by Muslims.

A spokesman for Plateau state where Jos is located, Gregory Yenlong, said police were seeking to arrest Saleh Bayari, the regional leader of the Fulanis, because Bayari’s comments reportedly incited the attack. He offered no other details.

But the chairman of the local Fulani organization denied that his people were involved in the attack.

Nigerian military units began surrounding the affected villages on Sunday afternoon, said Red Cross spokesman Robin Waubo. It was not clear if the violence was still continuing.

Mr. Waubo said the agency did not know how many people may have died in the fighting but workers have been sent to local morgues and hospitals to check.

Jos has been under a dusk—till—dawn curfew enforced by the military since religious—based violence in January left more than 300 people dead – most of them Muslims. It was not clear how the attackers managed to elude the military curfew early Sunday.

“It appears to be reprisal attacks,” Waubo said.

In a statement on Sunday night, acting President Goodluck Jonathan said security agencies would be stationed along Plateau state’s borders to keep outsiders from coming in with more weapons and fighters.

“(We will) undertake strategic initiatives to confront and defeat these roving bands of killers,” the statement read. “While it is too early to state categorically what is responsible for this renewed wave of violence, we want to inform Nigerians that the security services are on top of the situation.”

In nearby Bauchi state, more than 600 people fled to a makeshift camp that still held victims from January’s violence, said Red Cross official Adamu Abubakar. He expected more to come, putting an even bigger strain on the already limited humanitarian aid for those fleeing the violence.

Jos has a history of communal violence that has made elections difficult to organize. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people and Muslim—Christian battles killed up to 700 people in 2004. More than 300 residents died during a similar uprising in 2008 and violence that began in January killed more than 300 people.

Deemed university: Supreme Court asks Centre to put reports online

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to put on the Internet the recommendations of the Tandon Committee and the task force on the basis of which the government had decided to derecognise 44 deemed universities in the country.

A Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Patnaik also directed that its earlier status quo order would continue till April 13.

The apex court granted two weeks to the aggrieved universities to file their responses on the Centre’s decision to derecognise them.

The Bench agreed to examine the validity of the government’s decision to derecognise the varsities as the institutions claimed that under the statutory rules, it is only the UGC, which has got the power to strip them of their deemed status.

The apex court had earlier restrained the government from derecognising the universities until it decided the issue.

The Union HRD Ministry has already told the Supreme Court that it had given sufficient opportunity to 130 deemed universities to explain their academic performance before deciding to derecognise 44 of them for failing to meet the requisite standards.

Stoutly defending its decision, the Centre, in its additional affidavit, has said its high-powered review committee and task force were more concerned with the academic excellence of these universities, rather than infrastructural facilities.

The government rejected the claims of the aggrieved universities that they were not given any opportunity to present their viewpoints before putting them on the list for de-recognition.

“The review committee constituted by the government invited all 130 institutions deemed to be universities for presentations and face-to-face discussions. However, 126 institutions attended the presentation sessions.

“Further, it is mentioned that the entire presentation session for each such institution ‘deemed to be university’ has been videographed. Elaborate and exhaustive questionnaires seeking all relevant information were also sent to these institutions well in advance.

“The committee analysed the information collected from institutions through the questionnaires and that obtained during the presentations and interaction on behalf of the responding institutions, and finally submitted its report,” the Centre said, referring to the October 2009 report of the review committee directing de-recognition of the 44 varsities.

The HRD Ministry said the universities sought to be de-recognised were being run as family fiefdoms, rather than as institutions of academic excellence, which they claim to be.

“It found that several such institutions had violated the principles and guidelines prescribing excellence in teaching and research or innovations were engaged in thoughtless introduction of unrelated programmes and proliferation of degrees beyond the mandate of the original terms of grant of deemed to be university status,” the affidavit said.

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Air India operates all-women crew flight

Chennai, Mar 8 (PTI) As part of International Women’s Day celebrations, India’s official carier Air India today operated an all-women crew Chennai-Colombo return flight.

Captain M Deepa and co-pilot Sonia Jain steered the all-women flight and the former expressed pride in flying the aircraft on the occasion of Women’s day.

The all-women flight to Colombo left Chennai with a total of 151 passengers.

Three women molested or raped in NCR everyday

New Delhi, Mar 8 (PTI) At least three women were raped or molested in the national capital and adjoining satellite townships everyday this year, if official statistics are to be believed.

A total of 128 cases of molestations and rapes were reported from Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad in the first 45 days of the year, the statistics said.

In the national capital, a senior official said, 70 cases of molestation and 45 cases of rapes were reported this year till February 15. Last year, Delhi reported 552 cases of molestation and 469 cases of rapes.

The IT hub of Haryana’s Gurgaon has reported seven cases of crime against women — four molestation cases and three rape cases this year while last year the total was 50, including 29 cases of rape.

Noida in Uttar Pradesh, another satellite town of Delhi, reported two molestation cases and four rape cases this year, the official said.

Video clips morphed, says Nithyananda

The video clips that appeared on television channels were untrue and it was the work of miscreants who wanted to defame him and his establishment, Swami Nithyananda of Dharmapeetam said in a statement here on Sunday.

Swami Nithyananda’s attorney M. Shreedhar, who met journalists at his office to give away a CD with a recording of Nithyananda speaking, said the video clips had been morphed and Swami’s camp had not raised suspicion against anyone till now. He added that Swami Nithyananda was now in Varanasi attending the Kumbh Mela.

Nithyananda’s statement comes in the wake of charges including rape and criminal conspiracy filed against him by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the city police, following a complaint lodged by his former disciple, Nithya Dharmananda alias K. Lenin.

“Collecting evidence”

In the statement, Nithyananda claimed that he was innocent and the video content that was aired was in no way connected to him and his Dharmapeetam.

“We are in the process of collecting evidence on the persons behind the false video footage. Very soon the truth will be unearthed and I will come before the media with necessary evidence,” he said in his 4-minute video statement.

“We are totally unaware of the contents of the FIR filed against Swamiji as the police have neither submitted it to the concerned magistrate nor given a copy to us. We are ready to face the case legally and will prove Swamiji’s innocence,” said Mr. Shreedhar.

“We are likely to receive a copy of the FIR tomorrow [on Monday] and will decide depending on the charges whether to file for an anticipatory bail for Swamiji,” he added.