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Chandrababu Naidu praised me: CM

The Telugu Desam chief, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, complimented his political arch-rival and Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy.

The Chief Minister wrote in his personal blog that the manifesto prepared by Mr Naidu was a clear compliment to his policies.

“The first thing that struck me about the manifesto is that it is an unwitting tribute to our government’s policies. Just about every promise represents a departure from Naiduism and towards our line since 2004. I take it as a compliment to our governance,” observed Dr Reddy.

Referring to the different poll sops included in the TD manifesto, Dr Reddy pointed out that many of them are already in vogue.

“Mr Naidu says he will give free power for 12 hours, health insurance, interest-free loans to farmers, etc. I humbly submit that we have already taken a lead in these schemes. Mr Naidu’s manifesto, therefore, abandons Naiduism and acknowledges our welfare policies as the way to the future. The details may differ, but much of what he is promising now has been delivered by us over the last five years,” Dr Reddy explained.

Demand for H-1 B down by 50% due to IT slump

BANGALORE: The slump in demand for IT, combined with protectionist pressures in the US, has led to a dramatic decline in the demand for H-1 B visas. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS ) has announced that it has received only 32,500 applications for H-1 B visas — or about 50% of the available quota of 65,000 — during the five-day window that it had provided for. And since the quota is nowhere near being met, the USCIS has said companies can continue filing these applications.

Just last year, it had received 1,31,800 applications — or twice the available quota — in the five days it accepted them. In 2007, the number of applications exceeded the quota on the first day the government began accepting them and compelled the USCIS to stop accepting applications after two days. In both years, it then used a lottery to award the visas.

H-1 B visas have been used by companies to bring foreign workers into the US mostly for IT work. In recent years, about 60% of the recipients of these visas have been Indians . Infosys, Wipro and Satyam together are said to have received 9,154 visas last year. The same for Microsoft was 1,037 and Intel 351.

The demand had encouraged many to call for an increase in the visa cap to at least 100,000. That move will now certainly falter. But it’s unlikely that the number of applications this year will fall short of 65,000, something that last happened 13 years ago. Navneet S Chugh, attorney in the US-based The Chugh Firm, said he expects the quota to get filled by the end of the year. “It’s unlikely it will last till September 30, 2010, as it is supposed to,’’ he said. He expects Indian numbers will continue to be around 60% this year.

This year’s decline in demand for H-1 Bs is seen to be on account of three reasons: one, the sharp decline in IT demand in the US because of the recession; two, the preference to do the same work offshore, in locations like India , where it’s significantly cheaper; and three, the protectionist pressures in the US, which is pushing US companies to prefer Americans to do the same jobs.

Microsoft had said it planned to file substantially fewer H-1 B applications because of the economic downturn. T V Mohandas Pai, head of HR in Infosys Technologies, said the fewer applications is a reflection of the business climate . “But the H-1 B window is not yet closed,” he said, suggesting that the company could file more applications.

Stella Nagesh, head of immigration (APAC) in Perot Systems, said she does not entirely blame it on recession. “Companies are generally tightening travel and therefore their spends on visas. Earlier, each company would keep hundreds of visas ready. It was a purely anticipation driven process. Also, companies are increasingly spreading their geographic footprint beyond the US and to the domestic market.’’

Rahul Gandhi Campaigns in Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad, Apr. 10 : Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address various rallies across the Andhra Pradesh on Friday and Saturday.

Andhra Pradesh is getting ready for the first phase of polling on April 16.

Rahul Gandhi will address public at Maylavaram in Krishna District and Wyra in Khammam District on Friday afternoon.

He will also try to generate public support by interacting with the masses at Devarakonda in Mahabubnagar District and Qutbullapur in Ranga Reddy District in the evening.

On Saturday, Rahul Gandhi is expected to resume his electioneering by addressing rallies at Ramagundam in Karimnagar District and at Bhanswada segment in Nizamabad District.

Home Ministry says Chidambaram did not avoid journalist's query

Home Ministry says Chidambaram did not avoid journalist's query

New Delhi, Apr 7 : The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday refuted media reports of Home Minister P. Chidambaram refusing to answer a question put to him by journalist Jarnail Singh on the "clean chit" given to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in connection with the 1984 Sikh riots case.

According to a Home Ministry statement, the videotape is there and the Minister answered the question.

"The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) does not come under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Neither the Ministry of Home Affairs nor any other Ministry put of pressure on the CBI. The CBI has only given a report to the Court. It is for the Court to accept the report or reject the report or order the CBI to do further investigation. Let us wait for the Court to take a decision on the report," Chidambaram is reported to have said.

Earlier, it was reported that Chidambaram had refused to answer and said that he did not want to make any political statement at a platform not meant for it.

Jarnail Singh, an accredited correspondent, then flung his shoes in Chidambaram's direction.

Later, Singh told NDTV: " My method (of throwing a shoe) could be wrong, but not my cause. There is no question of apologising for what I did."

The journalist was perturbed over no action being taken by the government to alleviate the miseries of Sikh riot victims, who had been waiting for 25 years for justice.

In a similar incident, last December, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist with Egypt-based al-Baghdadia television network, had thrown shoes at former President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

Journalist hurls shoe at P Chidambaram

New Delhi A journalist threw a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference on Tuesday, protesting against the minister's reply on his question on CBI's clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 Sikh riots case.

The shoe did not hit the minister and the journalist, a senior reporter with Dainik Jagran, was taken into custody.

The press conference was being held at the Congress headquarters where Chidambaram was presenting his party's report card on terrorism. The journalist asked the minister whether letting Tytler off the hook ahead of the elections was not politically motivated.

To which Chidambaram replied that CBI had only presented a report to the court and it was up to the court to either accept or reject it. The journalist wanted to ask another question but Chidambaram said he did not want to get into an argument and refused to take further questions.

The journalist then threw his shoe at the minister, saying 'I protest'.

It is the first of its kind incident in India but throwing shoes at political leaders has become a high-profile form of protest. The trend was started by an Iraqi journalist who had thrown shoes at former US President George Bush at a press conference in Baghdad last year.

Thereafter, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was meted a similar treatment while delivering a speech at Cambridge University. The Israeli ambassador to Sweden was also hit by a shoe when he was addressing an audience in Stockholm University.

Jarnail Singh released

Journalist Jarnail Singh who hurled a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference was released by police after brief detention.

Station House Officer of Tughlaq Road Police station Anil Kumar Yadav told reporters that the scribe has been freed for the time being.

"No case has been registered against him. He has regretted about his action," the official said, adding that the journalist was questioned for his action and then he was released.

After being freed, the Sikh journalist of a Hindi daily, who has caused a flutter in the political circle, said the issue that he raised was an appropriate issue and the victims should get justice.

"May be my way of protest was wrong," said the scribe who later left with his journalist friends and Sikh supporters.

Meanwhile, Sunita Tiwari, who claimed to be his lawyer and had come to meet him at the police station, alleged that she was not allowed to talk to her client.

"I was misbehaved. The SHO asked the constables to take me out of the room. I wanted to talk to Jarnail as he was mentally disturbed," she said.

BJP condemns shoe hurling incident

BJP condemned hurling of a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram by a Sikh journalist at a press conference in New Delhi. "We condemn the incident," BJP spokesperson Balbir Punj said in New Delhi.

Jarnail Singh of a Hindi daily hurled a shoe at Chidambaram protesting against CBI's clean chit to senior Congress leader Jagdish Tytler accused in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Chidambaram was addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters.