Friday, March 18, 2011

Mann Deshi Bank: An amazing success!

Last updated on: June 15, 2010 19:39 IST
Manu A B in Mumbai
This is an extraordinary story of women's empowerment in rural India. Women in Satara district in Maharashtra run a bank and a B-school successfully.
Founded by Chetna Gala Sinha, the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank was formed with the active participation of illiterate, rural women in 1997.

It was a struggle against all odds for Chetna Sinha who wanted rural women to be financially independent. The women needed to be removed from the shackles of poverty and money lenders in the drought-prone areas of Satara district in Maharashtra.

Money was the root cause of all their troubles. Finally, the relentless efforts of 500 rural women led to the mobilisation of a shareholder capital of Rs 600,000 to start their own financial institution.

"Founded in 1997, it is India's first rural financial institution to receive a cooperative license from the Reserve Bank of India. Today, Mann Deshi Bank based in Mhaswad, a village in Satara district, is the largest microfinance bank in Maharashtra with about 127,000 clients. Besides a business school to train women into success entrepreneurs, Mann Deshi Bank offers individual and group loans, savings, insurance and pension plans," says an optimistic Chetna Sinha.

Mobilising these poor, illiterate women, making them understand the need to start a bank that could be their economic lifeline was quite a daunting task.

"The biggest challenge was money. We needed deposits, people to fulfill conditions of the Reserve Bank of India. When we submitted the applications with thumb impressions of the members, our application got rejected.
It was a tough battle, which lasted for two years. The women were then trained to read and write and given training in basic finance. It was very fulfilling to go back to the Reserve Bank with a group of women who had learned to calculate interest on any principal amount. The RBI officials were impressed," says Chetna.
With this, the bank crossed the biggest hurdle and got the license. The Mann Deshi Bank today prides to have assets of over Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million) and a share capital of Rs 3.5 crore (Rs 35 million). Last year, the bank's net profit stood at Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million). "The bank has helped more than 62,000 women to build assets, own property and start small businesses," she says.

Besides this, the Mann Deshi Foundation runs a B-school which trains women to become successful entrepreneurs.

In 2002, Yale University appointed Chetna Sinha as a World Fellow, and in 2003 Harvard University recognised her as a 'Bridge Builder'. Chetna has received several additional awards for her pioneering work with women in drought affected areas of Western Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Pakistan furore over American's release

Hundreds protest after CIA contractor, accused of killing two men, is set free and sent back home.

Last Modified: 17 Mar 2011 09:05

Pakistan has witnessed widespread protests a day after Raymond Davis - a CIA contractor accused of killing two Pakistani youths in Lahore - was released and flown out of Pakistan.

Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from the north western city of Peshawar, on Thursday said many Pakistanis were incensed and described his release as a sell-out.

"Hundreds of students at Peshawar University with banners and slogans expressed their anger. An effigy of Raymond Davis was also burnt after the protest.

"They alleged that Davis was a spy and asked why was he let go?"
More protests are planned later on Thursday.
Blood money.

The CIA contractor was released on Wednesday after the families of the two men he killed were given "blood money" and the case was dropped.
Chaudhry Mushtaq, superintendent at Kot Lakhpat jail, said Davis left the jail with US consulate officials after a court hearing.

However, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has denied claims the US paid compensation to secure Davis' release.

Clinton's statement contradicts a lawyer for the victims' families, who said the US paid more than $2mn in so-called ‘blood money’ to free Davis.

The Pakistani government has yet to comment on the issue.

Davis' detention in Pakistan had strained ties between Washington and Islamabad.
While the US insisted he had diplomatic immunity and demanded his repatriation, Pakistani courts ruled in favour of a trial.

Davis shot dead two men in the city of Lahore in January in an act he described as self-defence. He said the men were trying to rob him, a claim yet to be corroborated.

Courtesy :Al Jazeera

Britain, France, two Arab nations ready to enforce Libya no-fly zone

By Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Britain and France with backing from the United States and at least two Arab nations, are prepared to launch airstrikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces to protect civilians in rebel-held areas if the U.N. Security Council authorizes the operation, European and U.S. officials said.

The actions would be undertaken in conjunction with a no fly zone – which will have the effect of grounding Gadhafi’s air force, the officials said.

The United States would also take part, but the extent of American participation was still being decided by President Barack Obama and his top advisers, according to a U.S. official who asked not to be further identified in order to talk about the issue.
“This is an ongoing discussion,” he said.

The operation would be launched under a resolution that the U.N. Security Council was expected to vote on sometime early on Thursday evening, said the U.S. official and a European diplomat. Neither could be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.
The European diplomat said he was “confident that we will have an adoption” of the resolution and “we think it is time for everyone to act on their responsibilities.” But it was not certain whether Russia, which has expressed serious reservations about outside intervention, would use its veto -- or abstain in the vote.

The resolution would expand international sanctions against the Gadhafi regime and authorize the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent the regime from using its aircraft against the rebels, who have been driven back in recent days toward the eastern city of Benghazi by Gadhafi’s forces, they said.
“We are in a race for time,” said the European diplomat, who asked not to be further identified because of sensitivity of the issue.

The resolution also would authorize the nations that enforce the no-fly zone to use “all necessary means to protect civilians short of military occupation,” he said.
That phrase would allow the nations enforcing the zone to launch airstrikes to prevent Gadhafi’s forces from overrunning Benghazi, home to about 1 million people, and other eastern cities and towns where the revolt against the Arab world’s longest ruling dictator erupted in mid-February.

The bar on a foreign military occupation of Libya was included in the resolution in a bid to assuage Russia and China, which have serious reservations about outside intervention and could use their vetoes as permanent members of the Security Council to block the resolution.

France and Britain are prepared to begin enforcing the no-fly zone fairly quickly should the measure be approved, and at least two Arab nations have agreed to participate, the European diplomat and the U.S. official said.

They declined to identify the two Arab countries. One was believed to be the United Arab Emirates, the federation of pro-West oil-producing sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country and Libya’s neighbor to the east, is not expected to participate in military action or even help enforce a no-fly zone. It has hundreds of thousands of citizens in Libya who might face retaliation from the Gadhafi regime, and is dealing with political ferment of its own following the ouster last month of longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

U.S. officials have not publicly specified what military action the United States would participate in.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was traveling in Tunisia, said Thursday that the options under consideration include the use of unmanned drones, bombing Libyan air defense to protect plans enforcing a no-fly zones, and arming Libyan rebels, Bloomberg News reported from Tunis.

The Obama administration’s policy toward Libya shifted sharply this week, after the 22-member Arab League endorsed a no-fly zone over Libya, providing the political cover the White House was looking for.

Where the administration was once publicly skeptical about a no-fly zone, it is now saying that steps beyond that must be considered.

“The U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved, and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk,” U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said late Wednesday.

Extreme supermoon' coming Saturday, could raise tides

Posted on Thursday, 03.17.11




It's called an "extreme supermoon" and when it rises in the eastern sky on Saturday, it won't just be full, it also will be making its closest approach to Earth in 18 years.

If no clouds get in the way, it should be a great night for stargazers. But the moon, which will appear about 10 to 15 percent larger than normal, could create abnormally high tides from Friday through Sunday, experts say. And that could mean beach erosion and minor flooding along the shoreline.

"The tides are definitely going to be higher, not only in Florida, but worldwide," said astronomer Arnold Pearlstein.

The best time to view the moon will be at sunset — about 7 p.m. — on Saturday, when it will be closest to the horizon and should look "huge and orangey," Pearlstein said.

Jay Albert, of the Astronomical Society of the Palm Beaches, said the best way to view it will be with the naked eye, not a telescope. The lunar surface will be too bright to easily discern mountains and craters.

Some think the supermoon is a harbinger of global chaos, including earthquakes and hurricanes. Others, such as Pearlstein, disagree. But he said, "It's going to be interesting to see if there will be more wolves howling at the moon." or 954-572-2085

Batcha died of asphyxia: Autopsy report

Press Trust Of India
Chennai, March 17, 2011
First Published: 17:39 IST(17/3/2011)
Last Updated: 17:42 IST(17/3/2011)

The death of former Telecom Minister A Raja's key aide Sadiq Batcha was due to asphyxia and his body showed compression of the neck with hanging mark, a doctor who conducted the autopsy said on Thursday. "We cannot say now whether it was suicide or murder.. the report will be ready in two weeks," Dr 
V Dekal of the Government Royapettah Hospital, where the autopsy was conducted, said.
"The death was caused due to asphyxia but the cause of that cannot be confirmed till the forensic report is received," he told reporters here, adding that the entire autopsy was videographed.
"Until and unless the results come you cannot concretely tell whether it is a suicide or not. As of now, death is due to asphyxia...that is deficiency of oxygen in the tissue. So, compression of the neck could be the reason for this asphyxia, but exactly whether it was suicide.
"The hanging mark, anti-mortem or post-mortem, before death or after death, has to be confirmed by microscopic examination. Once the results come we will be able to concretely tell whether it is a case of hanging," he said.
The doctor said, "Mark of hanging was only there, no other external injury was there."
A team of doctors performed the autopsy at the hospital here for nearly three hours.
Some angry relatives of Batcha, who was found hanging at his house on Wednesday, shouted slogans against the media and police pacified them.
The body was later handed over to Batcha's relatives and the burial expected to be done in Perambalur, Batcha's native place.
38-year-old Batcha, who was the Managing Director of Greenhouse Promoters, a firm under the scanner of the CBI as well as the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the 2G spectrum scam, was found hanging from the roof of the bedroom of his house in Teynampet in South Chennai by his wife Rekha Banu and his driver.
His wife claimed that he did it "unable to cope with the pressure" of the probe.
Batcha, whose official and residential premises were raided by CBI and questioned at least four times in the last two months, had left a suicide note in which he had stated that he was "embarrassed" by the raids and the extensive media coverage of them.
Tamil Nadu government has transferred the case of suicide to CBI.


Ruckus in Parliament over WikiLeaks

UPDATED  17/3/2011 11:45:54 AM

News 24 Desk

New Delhi: The latest Wikileaks revelations has created ruckus in parliament here on Thursday. The oppositionparties have demanded the government to clarify its stand on the recent released cable. The cable revealed that cash was used in trust vote during the US nuclear deal.

To get the votes in favour, government had pay cash tothe RLD MPs to support on the bill. The BJP, Left andSamajwadi party asked the Prime Minister to answer all questions regarding cable released or he should step down from his post immediately.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley has affirmed that the Government has no authority to continue after facing serious allegations. Sitaram Yechury demanded for criminal inquiry in the case and said that this was a discrimination of political system in the country. Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition, asked resignation of the Prime Minister on ‘Cash for vote’ scam. 

Two ministers dropped in CPI's Kerala list

News 24 Desk

Thiruvanathapuram: Eight sitting MLAs including two ministers and Deputy Speaker do not figure in the first list of candidates released by CPI here for the April 13 Kerala assembly polls.

Revenue Minister K P Rajendran, Forest Minister Binoy Viswom and Deputy Speaker Jose Babymissed out following the party's decision not to field MLAs who have served two terms,party sources said.

Three women candidates also found a place in the list of candidates finalised by the Party State Council for the 23 out of 27 seats alloted to CPI as part of the Left-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

The three women candidates are National Federation of India Women Executive Committee member P Gouri (Manjeri), Geetha Gopi (Nattika) and sitting MLA E S Bijimol (Peerumade).

Food Minister C Divakaran and Agriculture Minister Mullakara Ratnakaran would contest from Karunagapally and Chdayamangalam respectively in Kollam district.

Other sitting MLAs seeking reelection are P Raju (Punalur), P Thilothaman (Cherthala), K Ajith (Vaikom), Babu Paul (Muvattupuzha), V S Sunil Kumar (Kaipamangalam) and Rajaji Mathew Thomas (Ollur).

The party would announce the list of candidates tomorrow after finalising the names for the four constituencies of like Adoor, Ernad, Thirangadi and Irikkur, party sources said.

UPDATED  17/3/2011 11:45:54 AM