Thursday, April 14, 2011

Scientists finely control methane combustion to get different products

Scientists have discovered a method to control the gas-phase selective catalytic combustion of methane, so finely that if done at room temperature the reaction produces ethylene, while at lower temperatures it yields formaldehyde. The process involves using gold dimer cations as catalysts — that is, positively charged diatomic gold clusters. Being able to catalyze these reactions, at or below room temperature, may lead to significant cost savings in the synthesis of plastics, synthetic fuels and other materials. 

The research was conducted by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Ulm. It appears in the April 14, 2011, edition of The Journal of Physical Chemistry C. "The beauty of this process is that it allows us to selectively control the products of this catalytic system, so that if one wishes to create formaldehyde, and potentially methyl alcohol, one burns methane by tuning its reaction with oxygen to run at lower temperatures, but if it's ethylene one is after, the reaction can be tuned to run at room temperature," said Uzi Landman, Regents' and Institute Professor of Physics and director of the Center for Computational Materials Science at Georgia Tech.

Reporting last year in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a team that included theorists Landman and Robert Barnett from Georgia Tech and experimentalists Thorsten Bernhardt and Sandra Lang from the University of Ulm, found that by using gold dimer cations as catalysts, they can convert methane into ethylene at room temperature.

This time around, the team has discovered that, by using the same gas-phase gold dimer cation catalyst, methane partially combusts to produce formaldehyde at temperatures below 250 Kelvin or -9 degrees Fahrenheit. What's more, in both the room temperature reaction-producing ethylene, and the formaldehyde generation colder reaction, the gold dimer catalyst is freed at the end of the reaction, thus enabling the catalytic cycle to repeat again and again.

The temperature-tuned catalyzed methane partial combustion process involves activating the methane carbon-to-hydrogen bond to react with molecular oxygen. In the first step of the reaction process, methane and oxygen molecules coadsorb on the gold dimer cation at low temperature. Subsequently, water is released and the remaining oxygen atom binds with the methane molecule to form formaldehyde. If done at higher temperatures, the oxygen molecule comes off the gold catalyst, and the adsorbed methane molecules combine to form ethylene through the elimination of hydrogen molecules.

In both the current work, as well as in the earlier one, Bernhardt's team at Ulm conducted experiments using a radio-frequency trap, which allows temperature-controlled measurement of the reaction products under conditions that simulate realistic catalytic reactor environment. Landman's team at Georgia Tech performed first-principles quantum mechanical simulations, which predicted the mechanisms of the catalyzed reactions and allowed a consistent interpretation of the experimental observations.

In future work, the two research groups plan to explore the use of multi-functional alloy cluster catalysts in low temperature-controlled catalytic generation of synthetic fuels and selective partial combustion reactions.

A chance discovery may revolutionize hydrogen production

Producing hydrogen in a sustainable way is a challenge and production cost is too high. A team led by EPFL Professor Xile Hu has discovered that a molybdenum based catalyst is produced at room temperature, inexpensive and efficient. The results of the research are published online in Chemical Science Thursday the 14th of April. An international patent based on this discovery has just been filled. Existing in large quantities on Earth, water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. It can be broken down by applying an electrical current; this is the process known as electrolysis. To improve this particularly slow reaction, platinum is generally used as a catalyst. However, platinum is a particularly expensive material that has tripled in price over the last decade. Now EPFL scientists have shown that amorphous molybdenum sulphides, found abundantly, are efficient catalysts and hydrogen production cost can be significantly lowered.

Industrial prospects

The new catalysts exhibit many advantageous technical characteristics. They are stable and compatible with acidic, neutral or basic conditions in water. Also, the rate of the hydrogen production is faster than other catalysts of the same price. The discovery opens up some interesting possibilities for industrial applications such as in the area of solar energy storage.

It's only by chance that Daniel Merki, St├ęphane Fierro, Heron Vrubel and Xile Hu made this discovery during an electrochemical experience. "It's a perfect illustration of the famous serendipity principle in fundamental research", as Xile Hu emphasizes: "Thanks to this unexpected result, we've revealed a unique phenomenon", he explains. "But we don't yet know exactly why the catalysts are so efficient."

The next stage is to create a prototype that can help to improve sunlight-driven hydrogen production. But a better understanding of the observed phenomenon is also required in order to optimize the catalysts.

Recent census in war-torn DR Congo finds gorillas have survived, even increased

A census team led by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Insitut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo today announced some encouraging news from a region plagued by warfare and insecurity: a small population of Grauer's gorillas has not only survived, but also increased since the last census. The census, conducted late 2010 in the highland sector of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, revealed the presence of 181 individual Grauer's gorillas, up from 168 individuals detected in the same sector in 2004.

A "cousin" to the more famous mountain gorilla, the Grauer's gorilla is the largest subspecies of gorilla in the world, growing up to 500 pounds. The Grauer's gorilla (also known as the eastern lowland gorilla) is the least known subspecies, due in large part to the 15 years of insecurity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The gorilla is listed as "Endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Red List and may number fewer than 4,000 individual animals.

"We had several close calls with armed militias during the survey," said Deo Kujirakwinja, WCS's Albertine Rift Coordinator in DRC. "Thankfully, no one was hurt, and our census result is positive news for the conservation community."

The census team surveyed the 600-square-kilometer highland sector of the park. The lowland sector has been largely inaccessible to researchers due to the frequent presence of militia. Census teams used nest counts—gorillas make a nest each night—along with the size of nearby dung (the size of which indicates how many adults, juveniles, and infants occur in a group) to estimate the total number of gorillas in the area.

"Given the insecurity that has been present here for so long, we were not sure what we would find," said Radar Nshuli, Chief Park Warden for Kahuzi-Biega. "We were very happy to see that all the efforts that our staff and partners have been taking are leading to a growth in the population."

The Wildlife Conservation Society's field staff have been monitoring the region's gorillas since the 1950s, when preeminent field biologist George Schaller first surveyed the distribution of what would later become classified as Grauer's and mountain gorillas. Since then, surveys have revealed that in the highland sector of Kahuzi Grauer's numbers climbed from 223 animals in the 1970s to 250 in the early 1990s before crashing to 130 in 2000 following the outbreak of civil war in the region.

"Given we were unable to survey the entire highland sector, we are hopeful that our minimum count of 181 might actually be higher than this," said Dr. Andy Plumptre, Director of WCS's Albertine Rift Program. "We hope to be able to survey some of the areas we were unable to visit in the near future."

"This census finding gives us great hope for the future of the Grauer's gorilla," said Dr. James Deutsch, Director of WCS's Africa Program. "It's also a testament to the courage of our colleagues working to protect a World Heritage site in this challenging landscape."

Grauer's gorillas are one of four recognized gorilla sub-species, which also include mountain gorillas, western lowland gorillas, and Cross River gorillas. The Wildlife Conservation Society is one of the only conservation groups working to safeguard all four subspecies.

HP Application Transformation Solutions Deliver Flexibility and Speed

In today's world of instant gratification, everyone expects secure, seamless access to information no matter where or when they want it. This requires an Instant-On Enterprise that can rapidly innovate and respond.

"Innovation is what separates market makers from market followers," said Eyad Shihabi, Managing Director and Enterprise Business Lead, HP Middle EastHP Middle EastLoading.... "At HPHPLoading..., we believe technology is the innovation engine for the enterprise and we have the unique portfolio to fuel it."

New research conducted on behalf of HPHPLoading... reveals the role of innovation in organizations today. Ninety-five percent of executives in the private and public sectors consider innovation to be important to the success of their organizations. When asked why innovation is important, the top reason cited by both sectors was future growth (84 percent of private sector executives; 63 percent of government executives).(1)

The respondents also revealed that "changing customer or citizen demand" and "producing higher quality products and services" were the primary goals for innovation. To understand what is driving innovation in the enterprise, the survey asked the respondents to identify the "innovation engine." More than two-thirds of the executives indicated that it was technology.

The survey also sought to determine where executives would invest first to drive innovation. The No. 1 response was "applications and software for more flexible processes."

To help enterprises accelerate innovation, HPHPLoading... is expanding its Application Transformation solution portfolio to include seven new offerings. The enhanced portfolio allows clients to assess, modernize and manage the applications driving their enterprises.

HPHPLoading... also partnered with the Italian Ministry of Instruction, University and Research (MIUR) that manages the staff at 10,500 schools. MIUR implemented a solution including Application Modernization Services from HPHPLoading.... The key deliverable was the transformation of thousands of COBOL batch programs, which were then re-hosted on a modern infrastructure. As a result, MIUR reduced its application portfolio by 33 percent and development costs by 38%. MIUR also projects a savings in hardware and software licensing of more than €12 million over three years and complete retirement of mainframe architecture adopted 30 years ago.

Assessing application environments for greatest impact on innovation

HP Application Transformation solutions enable enterprises to understand their application portfolios, decide what to keep, change or retire. This is the first step in their transformation journey.

HP Application Portfolio Management (APM) software, delivered as a service, helps enterprises rapidly identify areas for portfolio rationalization using fact-based analysis against a set of enterprise goals. APM serves as the foundation for the enterprise application transformation plan and helps to reduce the cost and risks associated with modernization projects. By combining APM with HPHPLoading... Applications Rationalization services, clients can receive a customized applications transformation roadmap that delivers the optimal application portfolio.

HPHPLoading... Applications Transformation to Cloud services help enterprises analyze their application and infrastructure environments to determine cloud suitability, develop a customized roadmap for transformation and ultimately deliver those applications via the cloud.

Modernizing application environments

HPHPLoading... is helping clients transform legacy applications into agile services through a full portfolio of application consulting, development, integration and outsourcing services.

HP Application Transformation Services for Client Computing modernizes client device environments to Windows 7, delivering improved productivity, mobility and security. Using automation, standardized processes and a global workforce, HPHPLoading... can drive down the cost and time needed for implementation.

Managing application environments to ensure security

With the threats from application risks increasing both in number and sophistication, security is a major concern and challenge for modernization projects. HP Fortify Real-Time Hybrid Analysis is the first application security analysis solution that discovers the root cause of software vulnerabilities by observing attacks in real time.

By using HP Fortify Real-Time Hybrid Analysis in concert with new versions of HP Fortify 360 and HP Application Security Center, enterprises can proactively deliver the application security intelligence required to effectively manage risk.

Using hybrid delivery models to speed application transformation

HPHPLoading... offers a full range of cloud-based solutions to help clients on their journey to the cloud. HPHPLoading... announced three new offerings in its cloud portfolio that increase flexibility and speed time to solution.

-- HP Cloud Service Automation 2.0 software enables enterprises to quickly build, deploy, monitor and manage applications and infrastructure across heterogeneous environments. With new automation enhancements, one-touch provisioning and monitoring capabilities, HP Cloud Service Automation 2.0 enables enterprise to quickly build their own public or private cloud and speed application delivery to market.

-- HP Exchange Services for Private Cloud helps enterprises get a "pay per use" model of cloud computing along with an enterprise-grade level of performance and security. This provides the benefits of cloud computing without the associated risks.

-- HP Enterprise Cloud Services for Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers Microsoft's market-leading Dynamics CRM software suite via a virtual, private cloud. This alternate delivery model combines the benefits of a cloud-based model with HPHPLoading...'s extensive experience in running customer relationship management systems and contact centers.

Helping clients overcome financial barriers to innovation

HP Financial Services works with enterprises to implement long-term IT investment strategies to address funding barriers to innovation.

HP Application Transformation solutions accelerate the journey to becoming an Instant-On Enterprise by modernizing applications and processes designed for another era.

iPad rival PlayBook gets tough reviews

RIM's PlayBook tablet has bombed with influential technology reviewers who call the new iPad competitor a rushed job that won't even provide RIM's vaunted email service unless it's hooked up to a BlackBerry.

"RIM has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do email. It must be skating season in hell," New York Times' David Pogue wrote in a review published yesterday.

Research In Motion built its reputation on a BlackBerry email service that it says is so secure that it can't bow to government requests to tap messages, winning high-profile customers in business, defence and politics before branching out to a wider consumer market.
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The PlayBook, which hits North American retailers on Tuesday, so far offers that secure service only in tandem with a BlackBerry. RIM says secure email and other key services will come later, not at launch.

"I got the strong impression RIM is scrambling to get the product to market," Walt Mossberg, the widely followed business and consumer technology critic, wrote in a Wall Street Journal article headlined PlayBook: a tablet with a case of codependency.

The pessimism of the reviews seemed to hit RIM's often volatile shares, which fell 1.7 per cent to $US53.92 on the Nasdaq on Thursday, the lowest closing price since October 25.

RIM's 7-inch WiFi-only device is priced identically to Apple's 10-inch market leader and faces tough me-too competition from a slew of devices running Google's Android software.

It is a first step in a major product overhaul intended to reinvigorate RIM's fortunes. But the lukewarm initial reception, coupled with an outburst from co-Chief Executive Mike Lazaridis, threaten to overshadow the coming-out party.

Most reviewers have been impressed by the PlayBook's well-documented capability to handle Flash websites and its ability to show one high-definition image - a movie, for instance - on a connected TV, while doing something else on its own screen. Those are two things the iPad cannot do.

But reviewers paid more attention to what the PlayBook can't do.

The PlayBook needs a smartphone to access a cellular network and a BlackBerry to tap into RIM's popular BlackBerry Messenger chat platform or get secure emails.

The PlayBook's secure Bluetooth link with the BlackBerry mirrors a user's existing BlackBerry applications, negating corporate worries about leaking confidential information.

It was a question on BlackBerry security, and Indian government demands for access to the information that the BlackBerry protects, that co-founder Lazaridis took umbrage with during a BBC interview this week.

"That's not fair, this is a national security issue," he said before ordering the camera off.

RIM says the PlayBook and its brand-new QNX-based platform will launch with around 3000 apps, the third-party tools that have helped make Apple's iPhone and iPad so successful.

That number will grow in coming months as RIM adds support for Android apps and those available on its smartphones.

The iPad has a library of more than 65,000 apps.

It's too little for Mossberg, even though RIM plans to add a video-chat app soon and key email and personal organizer features, plus cellular connection, later in the year.

"Until then, I can't recommend the PlayBook over a fully standalone tablet, except possibly for folks whose BlackBerrys never leave their sides," he wrote.

In other critical comments, tech websites Boy Genius Report and Engadget zoomed in on what may at first glance appear trifling: a small and hard to operate power button.

"It's impossible to find by feel and, once located, difficult to activate," Engadget said.

Reviewers also fretted that, days ahead of a launch that will define RIM's standing in the tablet market, the company was still pushing out software updates to fix bugs.

"The PlayBook of today is considerably better than the PlayBook of yesterday, which also was a big step forward from the one we were reviewing two days before that," Engadget said.

The PlayBook is due to be released in Australia some time in the second quarter of this year.

BlackBerry chief walks out of interview when asked on India's demand

Toronto: Research In Motion(RIM) founder Mike Lazaridis ordered a BBC reporter to stop the interview after he was asked questions about his problems with India and Middle East countries which are seeking access to BlackBerry enterprise emails in view of national security issues.

"That's just not fair,'' Mike Lazaridis shot back at BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones when he posed this question to the RIM co-CEO at a recent interview.

Looking sideways, a visibly upset RIM boss said, "First of all, we have no security problem. We've got the most secure platform. We've just been singled out because we're so successful around the world."

When the reporter asked whether he could assume that BlackBerry has no issues with India and Middle East countries, Lazaridis said,

"No, we don't... we have just been singled because we are successful around the world. It is an iconic product, it used by businesses, it is used by celebrities, it is used by consumers, it is used by teenagers... we are just singled out just because of our success.''

When the reporter pressed him further on the India question, the BlackBerry chief said, " We are dealing with a lot of issues... we are doing our best to deal with the kind of expertise... ''

The RIM co-CEO exploded when the reporter finally asked him whether he could "confidently tell'' and give "assurance'' to BBC listeners in India and the Middle East whether they could continue using the BlackBerry smart phone without any problems in future.

"The interview is over. You can't use that, Rory. It's just not fair. This is a national security issue. Turn that off,'' the BlackBerry boss told the reporter.

The BBC has posted the video of this portion of the interview on its web site.

The BBC interview followed Lazaridis's recent interview to the New York Times in which he slammed those who are writing off the BlackBerry maker as a "broken brand.''

Though after many deadlines, RIM has given India access to its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), it has remained non-committal on allowing access to its encrypted corporate service.

India has more than a million BlackBerry users and RIM has set sights on the fast growing market as its share in the North American smart phone market shrinks.

The Canadian wireless giant, whose stock has slipped nearly 20 percent since last month after forecasts of a less-than-spectacular current quarter, is pinning its hopes on its PlayBook tablet due to hit markets in Canada and the US April 19.

Egg Eaters Get Higher Vitamin D Levels and Less Cholesterol Than Thought

Many dread dietary cholesterol because they think it increases their risk for heart disease.

Experts from leading institutions have dispelled some common myths surrounding dietary cholesterol - they found that such diets don't increase the risk of heart disease.

They also found that eggs contain higher Vitamin D levels and less cholesterol than thought.

An established research has shown that saturated fat intake may be more likely to raise a person's blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol intake.

The distinguished panel of the symposium speakers examined other factors impacting heart disease risk including refined carbohydrate intake, dietary cholesterol metabolism in the body and the effect of egg intake on blood vessels.

Experts from the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) presented new nutrition data that indicates eggs are now lower in cholesterol.

The USDA-ARS study found that one large egg contains 185 mg of cholesterol (down from 215 mg), 14 percent lower than previously reported on Nutrition Facts panels.

The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of vitamin D, an increase of 64 percent.

A follow-up study funded by USDA-ARS examined how the new nutrient analysis of eggs impacts the overall dietary cholesterol profile of the American diet.

Data from the What We Eat in America food consumption survey showed that among egg-eaters average dietary cholesterol consumption decreased by seven percent due to the decreased amount of cholesterol in eggs.

Vegetarians Less Likely to Develop Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers claim that vegetarians are less likely to get heart disease, diabetes or a stroke than semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians. These three conditions are closely linked to metabolic syndrome (the combination of cholesterol and blood pressure-related symptoms).

They have a 1/3rd lesser probability of these diseases as research shows that vegetarians have a 36% lower rate of metabolic syndrome. The study also found that even though the vegetarians were slightly older than non-vegetarians they had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI).

Giving up red meat gradually lowers the risk of developing these conditions. The study is published in the April issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

Study: 2 Million Babies Stillborn Every Year

More than 2 million babies are stillborn every year worldwide and about half could be saved if their mothers had better medical care, according to research estimates published Thursday in the medical journal Lancet.

While the vast majority of stillbirths happen in the developing world, the rates in countries including Britain, France and the U.S. have not dropped to the degree that many experts had expected, as rising obesity levels among pregnant women increase the risk.

Experts say providing better obstetric care, treating conditions like syphilis, high blood pressure and diabetes in mothers, among other strategies, could save more than 1 million infants every year. The research was paid for by organizations including Save the Children, the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"It's a scandal there are so many stillbirths that can be prevented," said Joy Lawn, director of global evidence and policy at Save the Children in South Africa, who led the Lancet series. She said the politics of public health has meant the stillbirths problem has been sidelined by maternal and child health programs, even though there are more stillbirths than children killed by AIDS and malaria combined.

In developing countries, most stillbirths are caused by delivery complications, maternal infections in pregnancy, fetal growth problems and congenital abnormalities. In developed countries, the reasons are often unclear why stillbirths occur, and surveillance and autopsy data are patchy.

But the researchers' estimates have a wide margin of error: the numbers range between 2.1 million to 3.8 million stillbirths a year. Those figures are based on reported statistics from 33 countries, largely in the West. For the other 160 countries, where the most stillbirths occur, scientists relied on modeled estimates.

William Easterly, an aid development expert at New York University, said the numbers were based on too little information to be reliable. He was not connected to the research.

"It's basically made-up data," he said.

Easterly said he was glad to see stillbirths on the global agenda, but warned the estimates could distort public health policy.

Finland and Singapore had the lowest stillbirth rates worldwide — two per 1,000 births — while Nigeria and Pakistan were at the bottom of the list, with 42 and 47 stillbirths, respectively, per 1,000 births. In the U.S., there were six per 1,000 births, though the rate is nearly double for African-American mothers.

In an accompanying commentary, Gary Darmstadt of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said it wouldn't cost much to prevent many stillbirths. "If all we did was to provide good-quality care during childbirth, at a cost of less than $1 per head, we could avert 1.4 million deaths of mothers, (babies) and stillbirths," he wrote.

But with weak health systems in countries where most stillbirths occur, Easterly said saving lives wouldn't be that straightforward.

"Health technologies don't implement themselves," he said. "The care still needs to be provided by health workers who have very complex motivations in often poor and corrupt health systems."

Health officials announced a new target of reducing stillbirths by at least half by 2020. They estimate they will need $10 billion a year for comprehensive health packages for pregnant women and their babies.

For Samantha Baker, who had a stillborn daughter, Scarlett, any efforts to understand why stillbirths happen and how to avoid them are welcome. Baker said Scarlett's umbilical cord twisted around her neck and suffocated her when she went into labor.

"I can't think of a worse tragedy to happen to expecting parents," she said. Baker, an accountant in Kent, south of London, now works with Sands, a British charity that supports families affected by stillbirths.

Baker and her husband spent several hours with Scarlett after she was born in December 2009. "The hardest thing was leaving her at the hospital," she said. Three weeks ago, Baker gave birth to a son, Harry. She and her husband also have an older daughter, Sydney.

She hopes the Lancet series will promote more efforts to reduce stillbirths and provide support for stricken families. "Nobody ever wants to talk about (stillborns) because it's so sad," she said. "But not every pregnancy ends happily."

Shah Rukh Khan: Perfect Exteriors

Shah Rukh Khan gives glimpses of his boyish charm in DDLJ in this new TV commercial (TVC) for Nerolac paints.

The 45-year-old Bollywood star stresses on polished exteriors for healthy interiors in the promo, something which seems to work well for him.

Not surprisingly, Shah Rukh is a favorite for brand endorsements. His portfolio additionally includes Pepsodent toothpaste, Hyundai Santro, Linc pens, Navratna Oil, Tag Heuer (Brand Ambassador since 2003), Videocon, Airtel, Belmonte Shirts and D'Decor (Along with wife Gauri Khan).

A diverse range of products, you would say!

Shah Rukh's sci-fi, superhero film RA.One is slated for a Diwali release.

Actor Rami Reddy passes away

Actor Rami Reddy who shot to fame playing the bad guy in Telugu and Hindi films, passed away here on Thursday while undergoing treatment for a kidney ailment. He was 52.

Reddy, who was undergoing treatment for the past couple of weeks, died at a private hospital in Secunderabad at around 11 a.m. on Thursday morning. He is survived by two daughters and a son.

The actor who had his first hit ‘Ankusam’ in 1990, went on to act in as many as 250 films in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam and Bhojpuri.

The final rites would be conducted at Punjagutta crematorium here this evening.

Hailing from Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, Reddy started his career as a journalist before entering the film industry.

Comedian Brahmanandam termed the sudden demise of Reddy a big loss for the film industry. “He (Rami Reddy) was a great actor,” Brahmanandam said.

Rami Reddy’s roles in Telugu films such as ‘Osey Ramulamma’, ‘Gayam’, ‘Ammoru’, ‘Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari’ and ‘Kshana Kshanam’ made him a popular actor.

UPDATE: Mohandas Pai quits Infy board

In a major setback to Infosys Technologies, the company announced that Mohandas Pai, a board member and Director Incharge, Human Resource Dept, has decided to resign. After the resignation of Nanadan Nikelani, this is the second biggest exit of a senior member from the company.

Add to this K Dinesh, one of the founder members and Member of Board too have chosen to retire. Dinesh, a board member and co-founder of the company, will retire by rotation at the Annual General Meeting of the Company to be held on June11, 2011 K Dinesh has expressed his intention not to seek re-appointment. Dinesh was the Head of Quality, Information Systems and the Communication Design Group.

Meanwhile, Ravi Venkatesan, former Microsoft India Head has been appointed as the Additional Director of the company with immediate effect. He will hold office up to the date of the Annual General Meeting, when his appointment as a Director will be placed for the approval of the shareholders, said the company's announcement.

The company in a filing to the National Stock Exchange the company said that Pai has decided to relinquish the position of board member and has requested the board to relieve him of the responsibilities after the company’s annual general meeting on June 11, 2011. The Board of Directors considered and accepted the resignation of Pai. The resignation is effective June 11,2011, post the company’s annual general meeting.

The board members placed on record their deep sense of appreciation for the services rendered by Pai during his tenure at Infosys.

N R Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor said: “Mohan has been an early adopter and akeen anchor builder of Infosys. It is difficult to imagine Infosys without Mohan’s passion, commitment, joie-de-vivre and intellect. We all know that he is taking this painful decision, since he has much bigger projects in the horizon-nation building. The Board and every Infoscion thank Mohandas Pai for his wonderful contribution and wish him great success in his future endeavors’”.

Speaking about Dinesh Murthy said: “K Dinesh has been one of the co-founders of the company.The company has turned to him whenever there were any complex projects to be undertaken. He has handled each of his responsibilities with extraordinary diligence, quality and professionalism. We wish him best of luck in his future endeavors”.

Pai joined Infosys in 1994 and has served as a Member of the Board since May 2000. He was the Chief Financial Officer from 1994 to 2006. In 2006, he voluntarily demitted the office of CFO to lead efforts in the areas of Human Resources and Education and Research.

As the CFO, he played a strategic role in transforming Infosys into one of the world’s most respected and widely known software services companies. He formulated the country’s first publicly articulated financial policy for the company. He played a key role in branding the company among the investor community and enhancing transparency and disclosure levels. The Infosys Annual Report, under his supervision, has won the top awards consistently from the Institute of Chartered Accountants and from the South Asian Federation of Accountants.

Pai though not a part of the founder members has been an integral part of the Infosys team that enabled the first listing of an India-registered company on NASDAQ and the first sponsored secondary offering of American Depositary Shares by an Indian company. 

Infosys' Board of Directors to meet on April 30 to finalise plans for the company's leadership as Chairman N R Narayan Murthy retires in August 2011.

Manmohan ends China visit, leaves for Kazakhstan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today left for Kazakhstan, completing his three-day stay here during which he attended the BRICS Summit and held bilateral talks with the Presidents of China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

Dr. Singh will be in Kazakh capital Astana for two days during which both the sides will sign an inter-governmental framework agreement on civil nuclear cooperation and some other pacts.

Attending the third BRICS summit here, Dr. Singh pushed for closer cooperation, particularly in the field of economy among the five fast emerging nations.

BRICS (India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa) took a significant step towards enhancing economic cooperation when the members countries signed an agreement under which they will be able to provide credit to each other in local currencies and collaborate in capital markets and other financial services.

The summit also discussed the volatile situation in West Asia and North Africa, particularly developments in Libya and the impact on the BRICS counties. They collectively voiced their opposition to the use of force in Libya and pitched for a central role for the U.N. and regional organisations in resolving the matter.

In Sanya, Dr. Singh also met Chinese President Hu Jintao during which it was decided that India will send a military delegation to China later this year, marking resumption of high level defence exchanges, which had been suspended in last July.

India had put high level defence exchanges on hold after China denied proper visa to the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B.S. Jaswal.

Asian stocks mostly lower as Chinese inflation up

sian stock markets were mostly lower Friday as reports showed Chinese inflation climbed again despite government efforts to cool living costs while the country’s economy slowed slightly in the first quarter.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 3,036.89 while the smaller while the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index fell 0.6 percent to 1,275.81.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average fell 0.4 percent to 9,612.23, South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.4 percent to 2,134.40 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.3 percent at 4,868.70.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.7 percent to 24,173.01. Benchmarks in Singapore, Indonesia and New Zealand were slightly higher.

In New York on Thursday, stock indexes were lower for most of the day after claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly but pared losses after rallying late in the day.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.16, or 0.1 percent, to 12,285.15. The broader Standard and Poor’s 500 stock index added 0.11 point, or less than 0.1 percent, to close at 1,314.52. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.30, or 0.1 percent, to 2,760.22.

In currencies, the dollar slipped to 83.51 yen from 83.73 yen late Thursday. The euro fell to $1.4470 from $1.4503.

Benchmark oil for May delivery rose 43 cents at $108.54 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.00 to settle at $108.11 per on Thursday.

Pak Frees 89 Indian Prisoners

Islamabad : Pakistan today freed 89 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, from a jail in the port city of Karachi as part of a process initiated by the two countries to speed up the release of people held in each other's prisons for inadvertently crossing land and maritime boundaries.

After being released from Malir Jail, the Indian prisoners boarded buses that would take them to Lahore to be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah land border crossing tomorrow.

The Indian prisoners were arrested between September 2009 and January last year, TV news channels reported.

Their release was a follow-up to a meeting of the Interior and Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan in New Delhi last month.

Nasir Aslam Zahid, Chairman of the NGO Prisoners Welfare and Legal Aid Committee, told reporters that Pakistani authorities had granted consular access to another 33 Indian prisoners being held in Malir Jail.

They too will be released in the near future after the completion of certain formalities, he said.

"It is our endeavour to remove hurdles and delays in the release of detained fishermen on both sides of the border," Zahid said.

On April 11, India released 39 Pakistani prisoners. Both countries exchanged lists of prisoners during the meeting of the Interior and Home Secretaries last month.

The two countries are scheduled to exchange complete lists of prisoners on July 1 under an agreement on consular access signed in May 2008.

The process of releasing prisoners, which suffered a setback in the wake of the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, has picked up pace after the two countries recently agreed to resume their stalled peace process. PTI

BRICS Leaders Criticize Use Of Force In Libya

Sanya (China) : India and four other nations of the BRICS grouping today collectively voiced their opposition to the use of force in Libya and pitched for a central role for the United Nations and regional organisations in resolving the matter.

Reflecting on the situation in the Middle East and North African countries at the Summit of Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh observed that there was a "shift of power towards ordinary citizens" and "people were determining their own future".

Singh, along with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma, discussed the volatile situation in that region, particularly Libya, and its impact on the five emerging nations.

"We share the principle that the use of force should be avoided," said a Declaration issued here after Summit.

The Declaration, however, refrained from calling for an end to the NATO airstrikes on Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi's military assets.

The five countries, all of which are interestingly members of the UN Security Council at present, pledged to continue their cooperation in the world body on Libya. While Russia and China are the permanent members, India, Brazil and South Africa are non-permanent members.

"We are of the view that all the parties should resolve their differences through peaceful means and dialogue in which the UN and regional organisations should as appropriate play their role," said the Declaration of the Summit.

They expressed support for the African Union High-Level Panel Initiative on Libya.

Expressing concern over the "turbulence" in the Middle East, the North African and West African regions, the leaders said, "We underscore that the concurrent presence of all five BRICS countries in the Security Council during the year of 2011 is a valuable opportunity to work closely together on issues of peace and security, to strengthen multilateral approaches and to facilitate future coordination on issues under UN Security Council consideration".

They "sincerely" wished that the affected countries achieve peace, stability, prosperity and progress and "enjoy their due standing and dignity in the world according to legitimate aspirations of their peoples".

The BRICS maintained that independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of each nation should be respected.

Addressing the Summit, Hu emphasised the need for abiding by the "purposes and principles" of the UN Charter and bringing into full play the central role of the UN and Security Council in peace-keeping, peace-making and peace-building.

"We should seek peaceful settlement to international disputes through dialogue and consultation," he said.

Medvedev said the leaders voiced concern over the situation in Libya and felt that it should be addressed through political and diplomatic means and not through use of force.

In this regard, he commended the initiative taken by the African Union (AU).

Zuma, who is leading the African initiative to address the Libyan crisis, said the AU roadmap was designed to assist Libyans to arrive at a lasting political solution. PTI

NATO Ministers Meet On Libya As Air Strikes Intensify

Berlin : NATO foreign ministers gathered today in Berlin amid calls for increased air strikes on Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and growing divisions among world powers over whether to arm Libya’s rebels.

The meeting came as NATO planes put on a show of force today above the Libyan front line, with rebels reporting they were bombing targets on the road leading west, towards the key oil town of Brega, and beyond that Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte and, farther, the capital Tripoli.

France and Britain agreed to step up military pressure on Gaddafi’s forces after an international contact group on Libya meeting in Doha promised the rebels cash and the means to defend themselves.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed on increased military pressure at a working dinner in Paris ahead of the Berlin meeting, a source in the French presidency said.

“All means must be made available” in the fight against Gaddafi, the source said, amid efforts by London and Paris to step up pressure on their NATO allies to help defeat his regime.

The diplomatic moves came amid rising friction within the alliance over the NATO air campaign in Libya that has so far failed to change the balance of power on the ground.

In Doha, the international contact group on Libya decided after a daylong gathering yesterday to set up a “temporary financial mechanism” to aid the rebels seeking to oust Gaddafi.

It “affirmed that Gaddafi’s regime has lost all legitimacy and he should leave and allow the Libyan people to decide their future.”

While there was a consensus that Gaddafi must go, differences emerged over arming the rebels.  The rebel leadership said in a Tweet: “We’re discussing weapons deals with countries that officially recognised the council; we’ve been getting positive replies.”

The meeting’s final statement said “participants in the contact group agreed to continue to provide support to the opposition, including material support.” Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told reporters this refers to “humanitarian means, and also means of defence.

And that means that the Libyan people should get the means that they need to defend themselves.” But he seemed to acknowledge that this view was not universally held.

He said “people gathered here have different interpretations,” while reiterating that “the first thing that the Libyan people need is self-defence.”(AFP)

Rs 30 Lakhs Spent On Anna Hazare 4-Day Fast

New Delhi, Apr 14: Anna Hazare and his associates brought the government to its knees on the Lokpal Bill issue through a campaign on which a little over Rs 30 lakh was spent in the past one year.

According to details provided by 'India Against Corruption' (IAC), which spearheaded the campaign, it received a total donation of Rs 82,87,668 while it spent Rs 32,69,900 for the campaign.

"We have issued receipts to all the donors and have maintained a record of their details. We issued receipts on account of Public Cause Research Foundation which is acting as secretariat for the campaign," an IAC spokesperson said.

According to IAC, they spent Rs 9,47,344 for tent, bed, sound system and hall booking for the Jantar Mantar protest and other programmes. An amount of Rs 8,93,938 was spent on telephone calls while another Rs 4,61,382 was spent on travelling.  PTI

BJP Lambasts Mamata, Mayawati For Athlete-Throwing Incident

New Delhi : Expressing shock at volleyball player Arunima Sinha being thrown out of a train in Bareilly, BJP today held both Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati responsible for the incident.

"BJP is shocked at the incident of a lady being thrown out from a train. She is a volleybal player of national stature. She was lying unattended on the railway tracks for six hours. This is tragic and absolutely shocking," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Holding both Banerjee and Mayawati responsible for the incident, she said while it shows how unsafe women passengers are in trains it is also an index of the poor law and order scenario in Uttar Pradesh.

"This is an utter failure of Mamata Banerjee's Railways. Shows the inefficiency with which the Railways is functioning and how there is no safety for women passengers. She should leave her election campaigning for a day and meet the victim to see for herself why this incident took place," Sitharaman said.

BJP has demanded that Banerjee accept responsibility for the incident and fix accountability of Government Railway Police and other Railways officials in the sloppiness shown in handling the case.

"The future of this lady has been shattered. An inquiry should be conducted into how this incident had come to pass.

Both Railways and UP government are equally responsible for this state of affairs. Women are not safe in UP," she said.

The opposition party lamented the fact that such an incident had taken place despite women at the helm of affairs of both Railways and UP.

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari termed the incident as "extremely unfortunate, tragic and regrettable" and demanded that all the agencies which had the responsibilty to provide a safe train journey to the player should ensure that she is properly rehabilitated.

Noting that rehabilitation does not just mean compensation, he said the agencies concerned should also try to give her a purpose of life.

On the volleyball player lying on the tracks for six hours after being thrown out of the train, Tewari said it reflected the poor law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh. PTI

Polling Official Applied Indelible Ink On Amputated Limb In Kerala

Kottayam : A man whose left arm was amputated after an accident has complained that he was "harassed and insulted" by presiding officer in a booth in Poonjar segment by insisting that the indelible ink should be applied on the tip of the cut off limb during voting to assembly polls yesterady.

Official sources said the incident betrayed ignorance of election rules on the part of polling officer as it was clear in the rules that if a voter did not have fingers on the left arm the ink could be applied to index finger on right arm.

Antony (47) had gone to cast his vote in a booth at Erumeli in Poonjar assembly segment. When he held out his right hand, a polling personnel applied the ink on his finger on the right palm. But soon enough, the presiding officer intervened and inistited that though the voter did not have fingers on the left arm, the ink should be rubbed on the tip of the amputated limb itself.

"They harassed and insulted me. I was put in a traumatised state. For a moment I felt that I would return without voting", Antony told PTI.

He said the polling officers declined to be convinced despite he repeatedly telling them that in previous elections it was on right index finger the ink was applied. They kept on insisting that under the rules the ink should be applied on the "tip" of the left hand.

Antony, an employee in the state electricity board, had his left forearm operated and removed in 1988 after he suffered a shock while working on a 11KV line.

He said in the past elections, he had in fact received sympathetic consideration from polling officials as he was a physically challenged person. This was for the first time that he faced such a "shock" in the polling booth, he said.

Antony said he had faxed a complaint to EC officials reagarding the "harassment" he suffered.

When contacted, district administration officals said the presiding officer had apologised to Antony in writing.

However, Antony said he had not received any such apology from the officer regretting what had happened.

Meanwhile, human rights campaigners decried the incident describing it as "shocking and inhuman." PTI

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