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Sunday, January 27, 2008

France confers highest civilian honour on Narayanamurthy

Infosys [Get Quote] mentor N R Naryanamurthy was on Saturday conferred with the Officer of the Legion of Honour, the highest civilian distinction of the Government of France [Images].
The French honour for Narayanamurthy comes on a day when he was chosen for Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of the country.
French Minister of Higher Education and Research Valerie Pecresse bestowed the honour to the "most admired business leader" of India at a glittering function in New Delhi on Saturday evening.
Created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Legion of Honour is the highest civilian distinction that can be conferred in France regardless of the social status or the nationality of the recipients.
Pecresse acknowledged the humble beginnings of Infosys, which was co-founded by Narayanamurthy in 1981 along with six friends and 215 dollars in the pocket.
"Infosys, which employs over 82,000 staff, is a shining example of development in India," she said.
Accepting the distinction, Narayanamurthy said he was extremely grateful to the government of France for honouring him and said he will try and work harder.
Narayanamurthy, who pursued higher studies in France, said it was a country he loves most after India.
"Today is a very important day. I read in the newspapers on Saturday morning that I had been chosen for the Padma Vibhushan award. It was a pleasant surprise," he said.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable missile

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday test-fired a 700 km-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile, which could hit targets inside India, as its army chief dismissed as an "irresponsible alarm", concerns about the country's atomic weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
Pakistan Army's Strategic Force Command carried out a launch of the Shaheen-1 or Hatf-IV missile at the conclusion of an annual field training exercise.
The "successful" launch, which was conducted from an undisclosed location, was carried out by a Strategic Missile Group, an army statement said.
The Shaheen-1 missile is an operationalised weapon system that is already in service with the Pakistani military and is "routinely fired during training exercises," the army said.
Pakistan's political turmoil and an upsurge in terrorist attacks have sparked reports in the Western media about the safety of the country's nuclear arsenal and the effectiveness of its command and control system.
But Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who witnessed the launch with senior military officers and scientists, dismissed such concerns as "unrealistic and based on a lack of understanding of Pakistan's command and control mechanisms."
Addressing troops in the area where the field training exercise was carried out, Kayani referred to "international concerns regarding speculative scenarios" and said the "Pakistani armed forces were a highly professional, motivated and well trained force and were capable of safeguarding and securing nuclear assets against all categories of threat".
"The nation stood behind the armed forces," Kayani said, adding that the "irresponsible alarm" created by certain quarters would be "counter-productive".
Kayani, who became army chief in November last year when President Pervez Musharraf quit the post, "made it clear that Pakistan did not have any aggressive designs against anyone and its nuclear capability was solely for the purpose of deterring all types of aggression".
The Army Chief said Pakistan had "developed a strong nuclear deterrence capability and expected that the officers and men entrusted with the task of deterring aggression would continue to train hard and maintain professional excellence".
Besides the unrest witnessed in the wake of the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto last month, Pakistan has been rocked by a series of suicide attacks on the armed forces and increased militant activities in its lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
This has led to concerns among Western powers about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Musharraf, currently on a four-nation visit to Europe, said in Paris this week that militants could gain access to Pakistan's atomic weapons only if al-Qaeda or the Taliban "defeated the Pakistani army" or if radical groups won the upcoming general election.
"There is a zero per cent chance of either one of them," he said.

Bird flu scare: 11 districts of WB affected

KOLKATA/DELHI: Bird flu on Friday appeared right at the doorstep of Kolkata with two more districts of West Bengal, Purulia and Howrah, falling prey to the deadly virus that has now spread to more than half of the state.
Expert teams were accompanied by police force at many places in culling operations in view of resentment among many villagers fearing loss of livelihood.
The High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal on Friday confirmed avian influenza (H5) in samples from Sankrail block of Howrah district and Santuri block of Purulia district, an official statement in Delhi said.
The virus has now spread to more than half of the state's 19 districts. The 11 districts affected by bird flu are Birbhum, South Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdwan, Bankura, Malda, Coochbehar and Hooghly, Purulia and Howrah.
The samples from Mayureswar-II and Khoyrasole blocks of Birbhum district and Kandi block of Murshidabad district have also tested positive for avian influenza, it said.
Official sources in Kolkata said at least 10 lakh chicken have been culled in the nine affected districts while 1.46 lakh eggs have been destroyed till January 24.
At least 901 rapid response teams were deployed today in the state for carrying out culling and surveillance operations.
Confirming the deadly H5N1 virus in Purulia, District Magistrate Deepak Ranjan Kar said the avian flu surfaced at Ramchandrapur village under Santuri block in the district.
Elsewhere in the state, expert teams had to seek help from police force at many places in culling operations. The force was sought to thwart any untoward incident, particularly in view of resentment among many villagers fearing loss of livelihood, Coochbehar District Magistrate Rajesh Sinha said.

Tata, Tendulkar in Padma awards list

NEW DELHI: Ratan Tata, Asha Bhonsle, LN Mittal and Sachin Tendulkar are among this year's recipients of the top civilian award Padma Vibhushan. Some other recipients of this award are Pranab Mukherjee (Public Affairs), E Sreedharan (Science and Engineering), Rajendra Kumar Pachauri (Science and Engineering), Edmund Hillary (Posthumous), Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (Sports), Viswanathan Anand (Sports), N R Narayana Murthy (Trade and Industry), P R S Oberoi (Trade and Industry).

The list of awardees is as follows:
Padma Vibhushan
Asha Bhonsle (Art), Justice (Dr) A S Anand (Public Affairs), P N Dhar (Public Affairs), Pranab Mukherjee (Public Affairs), E Sreedharan (Science and Engineering), Rajendra Kumar Pachauri (Science and Engineering), Edmund Hillary (Posthumous) (Sports), Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar (Sports), Viswanathan Anand (Sports), Lakshmi Narayan Mittal (Trade and Industry), N R Narayana Murthy (Trade and Industry), P R S Oberoi (Trade and Industry), Ratan Naval Tata (Trade and Industry).

Padma Bhushan
Amarnath Sehgal (Posthumous) (Art), Ustad Asad Ali Khan (Art), P Susheela (Art), Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar (Art), Sushil Kumar Saxena (Art), Chandrashekhar Dasgupta (Civil Service), K Padmanabhiah (Civil Service), V Ramachandran (Civil Service), Jasdev Singh (Commentary and Broadcasting), Brijinder Nath Goswamy (Literature and Education), Ji Xianlin (Literature and Education), Kaushik Basu (Literature and Education), Padma Desai (Literature and Education), Ravindra Kelekar (Literature and Education), Shayama Chona (Literature and Education), Shri Lal Shukla (Literature and Education), Srinivasa S R Varadhan (Literature and Education), T K Oommen (Literature and Education), Jagjit Singh Chopra (Medicine), Nirmal Kumar Ganguly (Medicine), Mian Bashir Ahmed (Public Affairs), Lord Meghnad Desai (Public Affairs), Y M Vorontsov (Posthumous) (Public Affairs), Asis Datta (Science and Engineering), Sukh Dev (Science and Engineering), Sunita Williams (Science and Engineering), Vasant Gowarikar (Science and Engineering), D R Mehta (Social Work).

Padma Shri
Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit, Hollywood film maker Manoj Night Shyamalan, actor Tom Alter, UGC Chairman Sukhdeo Thorat, FICCI General Secretary Amit Mitra and noted footballer Baichung Bhutia and swimmer Bula Chowdhury, Journalist Barkha Dutt, Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai and Jounalist Vinod Dua, Vice Chancellor of Jammu University Amitabh Mattoo and playback singer Jawahar Wattal, Gangadhar Pradhan (Art) Gennadi Mikhailovich Pechinkov (Art) Pandit Gokulotsavji Maharaj (Art) Hans Raj Hans (Art) Helen Giri (Art) Jatin Goswami (Art) Jawahar Wattal (Art) John Martin Nelson (Art) Jonnalagadda Gurappa Chetty (Art) Kekoo M. Gandhy (Art) Madhuri Dixit (Art) Mangala Prasad Mohanty (Art) Meenakshi Chitharanjan (Art) Moozhikkulam Kochukuttan Chakyar (Art) P.K. Narayanan Nambiar (Art) Pratap Pawar (Art).

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit gets $26.7 mn stock, 3 mn options

NEW YORK: Citigroup Inc awarded Chief Executive Vikram Pandit $26.7 million of shares and 3 million stock options, six weeks after he took over the largest US bank, and a week after reporting a record $9.83 billion quarterly loss. In a Thursday evening filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Citigroup said Pandit was awarded 1,094,949 shares on Tuesday under a company incentive plan adopted in 1999.
Citigroup said Pandit also received options to buy 1 million shares at $24.40 each, 1 million at $30.50 each and 1 million at $36.60 each. Each of these awards vests in four annual installments. The higher exercise prices carry respective 25 per cent and 50 per cent premiums over Citigroup's Tuesday closing price. The stock award constitutes Pandit's first direct stake in Citigroup shares, the filing shows.
Citigroup acquired his Old Lane Partners LP hedge fund firm last year for about $800 million.
Pandit became chief executive after predecessor Charles Prince resigned under pressure on November 4 as losses mounted from soured loans and complex securities known as collateralized debt obligations.
Citigroup is one of more than 90 US companies expected at their annual meetings this year to face resolutions seeking a greater say for shareholders on pay for top executives.
The bank's shareholders rejected a proposal to give them an advisory vote on executive pay at Citigroup's annual meeting last April.
Citigroup also awarded stock, options or both to more than two dozen other senior executives and directors, other SEC filings on Thursday show. Sir Win Bischoff, who became Citigroup's chairman last month, acquired a net 179,519 shares, worth about $4.4 million under the 1999 incentive plan.
This increased his stake in Citigroup to 423,542 shares. Gary Crittenden, who became chief financial officer in March, acquired 377,579 shares worth about $9.2 million, boosting his stake to 655,153 shares.
Sallie Krawcheck, the wealth management chief, acquired a net 320,087 shares worth about $7.8 million, raising her stake to 584,028 shares. Bischoff's and Krawcheck's awards reflect the withholding of some shares to cover tax payments, Citigroup said.

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