London, Sep 3 (IANS) British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to reshuffle his government this week as members of parliament returned Monday for a new term after the summer break, Xinhua reported. The reshuffle, expected to be announced on Tuesday, will be the first by Cameron since the May 2010 general elections that brought him to office. Cameron wants to inject new energy into Britain's stagnant economy, with measures to boost business lending, support new housing and streamline the planning system. The prime minister has faced growing criticism of his leadership within his own Conservative party. Writing in The Mail on Sunday newspaper, Cameron vowed to "cut through the dither" and breathe new life into the nation's recession-mired economy with a series of new initiatives in this parliamentary term. He also pledged to continue reining in Britain's deficit amid the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Reports suggested that high-ranking ministers such as Nick Clegg, Finance Minister George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague would retain their posts. The prime minister is also planning a package of reforms in an effort to kick start the economy, including relaxation of planning rules that restrict house building. Among possible proposals will be government guarantees to underwrite some mortgages and building projects.
Sun Myung Moon, the religious leader who founded the Unification Church and turned it into a thriving business empire, has died in South Korea at the age of 92. Duration:
Chennai, Sep 1 (IANS) City-based Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company (Chola MS) is targeting a premium of Rs.2,500 crore by fiscal 2014-15, a top company official said Monday. To achieve this, the Murugappa group company will leverage its client base and distribution network of group companies, re-enter commercial/corporate business lines and target Japanese and Korean companies in India. "We had temporarily reduced our focus on commercial lines of business (fire and other insurance policies taken by corporates) as public sector companies resorted to heavy discounting of rates earlier. With the discounting now stopped we will reenter the segment. Large Japanese investments are happening in the country giving us an opportunity," A. Vellayan, executive chairman of the Group, told reporters here. The Rs.1,346 crore premium Chola MS is a 74:26 joint venture between the $4.4 billion Murugappa Group and the Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group of Japan. According to S.S. Gopalarathnam, managing director, Chola MS is leveraging the non-banking finance company (NBFC) Cholamandalam Investment Finance Company for distribution of its products among the latter's customers. "We are also working with group companies Tube Investments (TI), EID Parry and Coromandel International to sell our policies. TI makes bicycles and we provide insurance to the cycles. We are using the retail outlets of Coromandel International to insure the farmers and the tractors. Similarly, EID Parry's sugar division has large number of farmers. We are looking at insuring them," Gopalarathnam said. Gopalarathnam said the company would expand its retail health portfolio from Rs.50 crore last year to Rs.500 crore over the next year. According to him, nearly six percent of the company's business is from Japanese and Korean companies in India. He said the company is targeting a premium income of Rs.1,600 crore for this fiscal and grow it to Rs.2,500 crore by 2014-15. Stepping into the 11th year, the company has also hired global consultancy firm McKinsey and Company to chart a roadmap to be at the top three companies in terms of underwriting profits (premium minus claims outgo) over the next two-three years. Chola MS is targeting an operating profit of Rs.150 crore in a couple of years time. According to Insurance Company Ltd, the company operating in 40 countries with 878 offices is expanding its overseas network to diversify its risk. Asked whether Mitsui Sumitomo will increase its stakes in Chola MS from the current 26 percent as and when the law permits, Yasuyoshi Karasawa, president of Mitsui Sumitomo, told IANS: "We would consider it positively and in consultation with the Murugappa group."
Washington, Sep 3 (IANS) Nearly a week after Hurricane Isaac slammed into the Gulf Coast, tens of thousands of people in Indian American governor Bobby Jindal's home state of Louisiana were still living without power Monday. President Barack Obama is set to visit the state later Monday to get a first-hand look at recovery efforts in the state where thousands more have been forced into shelters by flooding caused by Isaac's storm surge. About 162,300 Entergy customers across Louisiana were still in the dark Sunday night, down from about 264,640 at 6 a.m., and a high of about 769,000 last week, nola.com, the website of the Times-Picayune published from New Orleans, the state's largest city, reported. Among the areas Obama is set to tour is St. John the Baptist Parish, where floodwaters forced thousands of residents to evacuate Thursday. About 9,567 homes and businesses were without power there, it said. Isaac ranks as the second-worst storm to hit New Orleans, causing 126,000 power breakdowns in the city at its peak, compared to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which knocked out 172,000 homes and businesses, and Gustav in 2008, which left 108,000 customers without electricity. Restoration of telephone, Internet and cable TV service also continued over the long Labour Day weekend, the news site said citing company officials. Evacuation orders, most voluntary, remained in place in a number of parishes as authorities grappled with new threats posed by rain swollen rivers and lakes, CNN reported. In St. James Parish, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, a dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed after the Blind River crested at flood stage, flooding nearly two dozen homes. National Guard troops were deployed to the area to help with security and possible evacuations, it said citing Jindal's office. Most of the areas hit hard by Isaac were outside the new federal levee system that was reconstructed at a price of $14.5 billion following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that killed nearly 1,800 people, most when the storm overwhelmed the levee system and flooded the city. (Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)
New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) The government will try to solve the problems faced by women entrepreneurs in the country, Vayalar Ravi, minister for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), said Monday. "Whatever the issue is, you raise it and it will be addressed," Ravi said at an international conference of women entrepreneurs here. According to the minister, women entrepreneurs are involved in all sorts of works, from making papads to power cables, but have only 7.6 percent share of the 26-million-strong MSME industries in the country. Their share should touch at least 25 percent, he said. Around 800 women entrepreneurs from 50 countries are attending this three-day conference, including Pakistan and Bangladesh. Women entrepreneurs from Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and others are also exhibiting their products at the conference. Rajnee Aggarwal, president, Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE), said the conference would highlight the issues faced by women entrepreneurs all over the world. "Today, we have more women talking about building businesses rather than earning a supplementary income for the household," Aggarwal told IANS. "Government should focus on dissemination of information," she said, adding there are many policies which are not transparent or correctly advertised.
Mumbai, Sep 3 (IANS) Shirish Kunder's second directorial venture "Joker" has not received a positive response at the box office, and might not stay in theatres for more than a week, according to trade pundits. "Joker", starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha, released Aug 31. Despite lot of innovative publicity campaigns, the film, centred around the theme of extra-terrestrials, is said to have collected only a little over Rs.15 crore in its opening weekend. "'Joker' has done very bad business. In three days, the film must have collected approximately Rs.15 crore from all over India. The film shall hardly run for a week, not more than that," Rajesh Thadani of Multimedia Combines, told IANS. Trade guru Taran Adarsh tweeted: "'Joker' collected approximately Rs.15.50 crore to 15.75 crore nett in weekend 1. Breakup: Friday Rs.5 crore, Saturday Rs.4.75 crore, Sunday Rs.5.75 crore to Rs.6 crore. Disappointment!" In Rajasthan, the film has done very dull business, said Sunil Bansal of Yash Raj Jai Pictures Pvt Ltd. "It has hardly managed collections of around 30 to 35 percent in three days. Today morning, it had fallen down drastically," Bansal, Rajasthan-based distributor, told IANS. According to another source, the movie collected only Rs.3.25 crore from New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, and from Punjab, it managed to mint Rs.1.35 crore in the opening weekend. "The film will hardly survive for a week," added the source. Kunder's last release was the 2006 film "Jaan-E-Mann", which did average business. In the meantime, Kunder has also announced he is no longer directing Salman Khan-starrer "Kick". Producer Sajid Nadiadwala has donned the director's hat for it now.
New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) Taking it a step towards making a safe workplace a reality for women, the Lok Sabha Monday passed a bill which would protect women, including millions employed as domestic help, against sexual harassment at work. The bill, which still has to get the Rajya Sabha's nod, covers under its list of offences sexual remarks, demand for sexual favour, or any act of physical advance or an unwelcome touch. Inclusion of domestic help in the bill will benefit about 47.5 lakh women registered as domestic workers in the country. The original version of the bill, which was introduced in Lok Sabha in 2010, did not include domestic help. The government had then said that it would be practically difficult to cover domestic help, as they worked in homes which were private places. Domestic workers, according to government data, account for 30 percent of India's female workforce. The bill defines domestic worker as a woman employed to do household work in any household for remuneration whether in cash or kind, either directly or through any agency on temporary, permanent, part-time or full-time basis, but does not include any member of the family of the employer. The bill mandates an internal complaint committee for any organisation with 10 or more employees. For an employer not following this, the penalty will be Rs.50,000. Repeated violations may lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business. The bill covers not only employees, but also clients, customers, apprentice, or daily wage workers who enter the workplace.
New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) The Lok Sabha Monday cleared a bill for the establishment of a separate cadre of the Indian administrative, police and forest services for Manipur and Tripura by bifurcating the existing cadres of these central government services. The North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Amendment Bill, 2011, was given the go ahead by a voice vote amid the din created by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on presumptive loss of Rs.1.86 lakh crore ($37 billion) in coal blocks allocation. The cadres of Indian administrative, police and forest services have been the same for the two states. The bill was moved for consideration and passing by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in the house earlier. Speaker Meira Kumar rushed through the business even as the BJP members trooped near her podium and raised slogans in favour of their demand for the prime minister's resignation and condemning the UPA government for corruption. The bill had been originally introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011 by then home minister P. Chidambaram. The bill was referred to the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs headed by BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu. The panel returned the legislation back to the house without any amendment on March 28 this year, but recommending that similar separate cadres of central government services be considered for each of the northeastern states. The bill amends the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971, which established a common cadre of the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service, and the Indian Forest Service for the states of Manipur and Tripura.
Seoul, Sep 3 (IANS) South Korea's automobile sales tumbled 7.1 percent last month from a year earlier due to weak demand at home and abroad caused by economic slowdown as well as a fall in working days, industry data showed Monday. Global auto sales by the nation's five carmakers, including Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Korea, Renault Samsung Motors and Ssangyong Motor, reached 550,141 vehicles in August, down 7.1 percent from the same month of last year, reported Xinhua. Domestic auto sales continued its downward trend to fall below the 100,000 mark, while overseas sales that offset sluggish local sales in the past turned into negative growth. The results fuelled concerns over weak demand stemming from global economic slowdown. A reduction in business days during the summer vacation season also contributed to a fall in auto sales. Global car sales by Hyundai Motor, the country's No.1 automaker, contracted 4.6 percent on-year to 293,924 units in August. Domestic sales tumbled 29.9 percent to 35,950 units, the first decline in more than three years, but overseas sales edged up 0.4 percent to 257,974 units. Kia Motors saw its global auto sales fall 0.5 percent in August from a year earlier to 190,904 vehicles. Global sales by GM Korea, the South Korean unit of General Motors (GM), came in at 45,167 vehicles in August, down 17 percent from a year before. Local sales tumbled 14 percent to 9,808 units, with exports plunging 17.8 percent to 35,359 units. Renault Samsung sold a total of 11,082 units through local sales and exports in August, down 59.4 percent from a year before, with global sales by Ssangyong Motor contracting 7.1 percent to 9,064 units.
New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) Claiming that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had come round its point of view, the Left Monday demanded that the UPA government cancel at least 90 disputed coal blocks of the total 142 allotted and probe their allocations to break the parliament logjam. "We have been asking for cancellation of coal blocks and a probe into the allocations... The government should take some initiative now as the BJP has also come around to our view," Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters here. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a report has quantified that the nation has lost around Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) in coal block allocations to private players. Yechury said these 90 mines have not produced any coal and their cancellation would allow the government to run parliament for the remaining period of the monsoon session, which ends Sep 7. "The session could be extended, if there is need," Yechury added. During the last two weeks, proceedings in the monsoon session of parliament have repeatedly been blocked by the BJP which is protesting on the coal blocks allocation issue. Accusing both the Congress and the BJP of "match fixing" in not allowing parliament to run and debate the issue, the CPI-M leader said the BJP was now supporting its view of cancelling the licences. "The government can cancel the blocks where it thinks irregularities have been committed so that the ones given to public utilities for power generation are not disturbed," he said. Yechury said the private players who were given coal blocks showed them as assets to borrow large sums from banks to further their business interests. "This is the real scam," he said.