Week in review

Updated: Jun 30 2002, 05:30am hrs
TEA
100 Per Cent FDI In Plantations Approved

The government on Tuesday approved 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in tea plantations to boost the sagging fortunes of the industry, plagued by slump in prices.

The approval came during a meeting of the Union cabinet, but a condition has been attached that the foreign company will have to divest 26 per cent stake within a period of five years to an Indian company, Union parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan said while announcing the decision. Further, state government approval has to be taken if there is any change in the present pattern of land use. Mr Mahajan described the decision as a move to rejuvenate Indian tea plantations and make tea manufacturers more competitive.

Government officials are reported to have said that the FDI in tea plantation would lead to faster development of the sector. However, the response from tea plantation industry has been lukewarm, with some of the leading players even reported to have said that the move would have no impact.

INDO-NEPAL TIES
India offers help to fight Maoists

Reinforcing its support to multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy, India has offered all possible help to Nepal in combating the challenge posed by Maoist insurgents as the two countries pledged not to allow their soil to be used by elements inimical to each other.

Nepalese King Gyanendra was assured during his meetings with the Indian leadership that New Delhi totally supported the efforts being made by Nepal at this testing and trying time in fighting terrorism and that it would extend whatever help was necessary in meeting the challenge thrown by the Maoists in the Himalayan Kingdom.

King Gyanendra, who was on a six-day state visit, stressed the need for India and Nepal to take their ties to new levels and break free of the mindset that may have coloured this relationship in the past.

Setting aside protocol, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee hosted an exclusive private dinner for the king at his residence, which was attended by former prime minister I K Gujral, external affairs minister Jaswant Singh, information minister Sushma Swaraj and top officials.

At a banquet in the Kings honour, President K R Narayanan said as a neighbour and close friend, India was much distressed by the mindless violence unleashed by the Maoists in pursuit of extremist ideologies.

RELIANCE INDUSTRIES
Dhirubhai Ambani Suffers Brain Stroke

Chairman of Indias largest industrial group Reliance Industries, Dhirubhai Ambani, was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital after he suffered a brain stroke on Monday and his condition is stated to be stable, though critical.

According to top hospital sources, the Reliance patriarch was admitted in the intensive care unit. A RIL statement said: Ambani has suffered a stroke and has been hospitalised in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital and he is under medical supervision.

This is the second time that Mr Ambani had suffered a stroke, the earlier one being in 1986, which left a part of his right side paralysed.

The news of Mr Ambanis stroke made Reliance scrips take a downturn in the share market falling by 3.4 per cent on Tuesday and by Friday close it was ..... Seeking to calm down the situation, Anil Ambani, the managing director of Reliance Industries said his ailing father was recieving the best medical help and care, though his condition continued to be critical.

RBI GOVERNOR
Jalan To Get Two-Year Extension

The government on Thursday has decided to give Bimal Jalan another two-year extension as governor of Reserve Bank of India, reported PTI, quoting highly placed sources in the finance ministry.

A notification on it is likely to be issued in the next three-four days, the report said. Mr Jalans second term as RBI governor was slated to end later this year. His name is understood to have been forwarded by finance minister Yashwant Sinha himself amidst reports that former finance secretary Vijay Kelkars name was under consideration for the position.

The report said that Mr Jalan, who was first appointed as RBI governor in 1997 for three years, was favoured by the government to maintain the momentum of financial sector reforms as also its stability.

Mr Jalan, a votary of soft interest rate regime, has been emphasising improvement in the performance of banks in terms of lowering of transaction costs to pass on the benefits of low interest rate regime to borrowers.

TRAVEL ADVISORY
US, Allies Rescind Warning To Their Citizens

With the easing of Indo-Pak tensions, the US and its allies have dropped their month-long warning to their citizens to leave India but continue to advise them to defer travel to this country, contending that the risk of a conflict between the two neighbours remains serious.

While the latest revised travel announcement for India by the US state department said a very high level of tension between the two countries has subsided somewhat, the statement on Pakistan said tensions between the two countries remain at serious levels and the risk of intensified military hostilities could not be ruled out.

There are an estimated 60,000 Americans in India. They were advised by May end to leave India in the wake of heightened Indo-Pak tensions and fears of a war.

The reduction in the embassy staff strength impacted on the visa and consular services. Advisories have been issued on similar lines by Britain, Japan, New Zealand and some other countries. These countries have asked those wanting to visit this country, due to pressing reasons, to carefully monitor existing conditions.