#India – Vedanta to revive lanjigarh by import from Indonesia, Tanzania, and Australia


Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar  June 19, 2013 ,BS

vedanta

 

Imports to revive Vedanta‘s Lanjigarh refinery

 After exhausting its options to source bauxite from the domestic market, Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) is mulling importing the raw material to resume operations at its Lanjigarh refinery.
The one-million alumina refinery has remained shut since December 5, 2012, on bauxite crunch and VAL has been making frantic efforts to restart the plant. The company recently announced it would resume operations of the refinery by the end of this month.

“We are looking at the possibility of importing bauxite as it will enable us to restart operations of the refinery quickly. VAL is exploring the possibility of imports from countries like Indonesia, Tanzania, and Australia. We hope to work out a deal in the next four-five days,” said a senior company official.

Although imported bauxite will be costlier for VAL, the firm is considering the option for the time being amid a hostile regulatory environment that has led to the suspension of many bauxite mines and also a lack of firm commitment from private miners on supplies.

Australia- Visa rorts leave foreign workers in debt bondage #Migrantrights


EXCLUSIVE

-Victim: Bhawna Verma with her partner Harvinder Mehta and their son Kiyan Mahta. Photo: David Thorpe

Hundreds of foreign workers and students are being forced into debt bondage after paying up to $40,000 for a skilled worker visa, with some signing contracts stating they’ll be sacked if they engage in “trade union activities”.

A Fairfax Media investigation can reveal the most extensive rorting of the 457 and 187 visa schemes ever to be exposed, with up to 200 cases across Australia including:

It was very upsetting. I thought how will my baby and I survive?

29 Filipino workers who have complained to their embassy after some had to direct part of their salary to repay loans organised by recruitment and migration agents that have interest rates of up to 50 per cent.

foreign workers promised long-term work or permanent residency if they paid between $5000 and $40,000 to middlemen across the nation only to be given temporary work or, in a small number of cases, little or no pay.

80 Indian workers duped into paying $4000 for a cleaning course in Melbourne worth only $1300 after being misled that it would enable them to get a work visa.

Some of those Indian workers were directed by their recruitment agent to work as unskilled labourers in abattoirs in an arrangement one of the abattoir owners, JBS Australia, said involved the agent misleading it and the workers.

The rorting of the visas schemes and exploitation of foreign workers has been labelled “a national shame” by ACTU secretary Dave Oliver and involved numerous companies operating across Australia and often under the noses of authorities.

“There needs to be further investigation to see what is happening with this system where workers are becoming bonded labour,” Mr Oliver said. “This is a racket involving migration agents, middlemen, exploitation of workers and loan sharks.”

One of the most blatant examples involves Clinica Internationale, a company owned by Melbourne man Radovan Laski, which has been able to continue operating, despite numerous complaints to the Immigration Department.

Mr Laski convinced up to 100 Indians to hand over up to $40,000 after promising to help them get a 187 visa, which allows a skilled worker to get permanent residency if they are sponsored by a regional employer.

But Mr Laski failed to find many of the workers the promised jobs and sponsorship, instead sending some of them to work as unskilled labourers in abattoirs. One of Mr Laski’s victims, temporary residential visa holder Bhawna Verma, 27, from India, was pregnant and desperate to stay in Australia when Mr Laski promised in writing in 2012 to find her employment and sponsorship if she paid an initial $5000 fee. After paying the money, Ms Verma was sent to work for an associate of Mr Laski in Ocean Grove, Victoria, where for two months she received no wage and did only odd jobs.

“It was very upsetting. I thought how will my baby and I survive?” Ms Verma said.

Fairfax Media has uncovered a separate network of companies based in Geelong, the Gold Coast and the Philippines that are targeting Filipino workers seeking 457 temporary skilled worker visas.

Twenty-nine workers recently complained to the Philippines embassy, detailing the ”excessive” fees they had to pay agents and demanding an investigation.

Documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal that some of the Filipinos signed contracts that stated they could be fired for ”trade union activities” or falling sick.

The documents show Filipino workers paying up to $14,000 to agencies and some paying interest rates of more than 45 per cent.

Other documents show Filipino workers directing as much as a third of their $50,000 annual income to pay off high-interest loans.

While the schemes involving the Indian and Filipino workers are run by separate companies, they both involve excessive fees and workers often scared to speak out for fear of being deported.

Mr Laski – named in federal Parliament as conman – warned a worker in an email that “I will be down on you like a ton of bricks” if they complained to authorities.

Emails show that Mr Laski and his business associate, George Stamatakos, were charging dozens of Indian workers $3950 to do a $1300 cleaning course at Melbourne’s Complex Training Centre.

When Mr Stamatakos was asked why they charged the Indian workers three times the fee charged by the training centre, he said: “If I could charge $6000, I would do it.”

He said he charged “between 60 to 70″ Indian workers the $3950 fee but referred questions to Mr Laski, who did not respond to calls.

Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor told Fairfax Media the Gillard government would introduce sweeping reforms, enabling 300 Fair Work inspectors to investigate visa rorts.

”The government has had serious concerns about rorts of the 457 system for some time and the Department’s limited powers to monitor and enforce compliance of the scheme,” Mr O’Connor said.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/visa-rorts-leave-foreign-workers-in-debt-bondage-20130605-2nqnm.html#ixzz2VLPH6ZDd

 

Socioeconomic Inequality in Disability – A Multi Country Study


 

A Multicountry Study Using the World Health Survey.
disability-discrimination1

 

Ahmad R. Hosseinpoor, Alana Officer, Emese Verdes, Nenad Kostanjsek, and Somnath Chatterji are with the World Health Organization, Geneva,Switzerland. Jennifer A. Stewart Williams is with the University of NewcastleNewcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Jeny Gautam is with Dianella Community Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Aleksandra Posarac is with the World Bank, Washington, DC.

 

“……We compared national prevalence and wealth-related inequality in disability across a large number of countries from all income groups.

Methods. Data on 218737 respondents participating in the World Health Survey 2002–2004 were analyzed.
A composite disability score (0–100) identified respondents who experienced significant disability in physical, mental, and social functioning irrespective of their underlying health condition. Disabled persons had disability composite scores above 40. Wealth was evaluated using an index of economic status in households based on ownership of selected assets. Socioeconomic inequalities were measured using the slope index of inequality and the relative index of inequality.

Results.
Median age-standardized disability prevalence was higher in the low- and lower middle-income countries. In all the study countries, disability was more prevalent in the poorest than in the richest wealth quintiles. Pro-rich inequality was statistically significant in 43 of 49 countries, with disability prevalence higher among populations with lower wealth. Median relative inequality was higher in the high- and upper middle-income countries.

Conclusions.
Integrating equity components into the monitoring of disability trends would help ensure that interventions reach and benefit populations with greatest need. …”

DOWNLOAD FULL STUDY HERE

(Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print May 16, 2013: e1–e9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301115)

Australia – The identity of Indian student who fell to his death revealed


Indian student identified in Pelham St death

Posted by Karen Poh on April 24, 2013

THE man who fell to his death from the balcony of a Pelham St accommodation in Carlton has been identified as 20-year-old international student from India Anubhav Singh Gahlot. Karen Poh reports. 

Anubhav-Singh-Gahlot

Anubhav Singh Gahlot. Source: Facebook

The dead body found outside a Pelham St student accommodation in Carlton last Saturday April 20 has been identified as Indian international student Anubhav Singh Gahlot.

While police have not released any details, it is believed the 20-year-old from RMIT University fell from the balcony of his Micasa8 apartment and died on the spot.

A reader, Ben, who left a comment on Meld’s websiteafter the news first broke, said he was there when the incident happened.

“The fall happened around 1:28 pm unfortunately. I was hoping the guy made it because I couldn’t stay back for long,” he wrote.

According to the Hindustan Times, the Bachelor of Business Studies student is the son of reputed developer Dayanand Singh Gahlot in Gurgaon, India. The Gahlot family owns Ambience Mall and Ambience Lagoon Apartments in Gurgaon.

RMIT University Dean of Students Professor Owen Hughes said the university was “giving authorities every assistance with their enquiries into this incident”.

“The RMIT University community is shocked and saddened by the death of Anubhav Singh Gahlot. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” Prof Hughes said.

“Students and staff members affected by the tragedy are being offered counselling.”

source- http://www.meldmagazine.com.au/2013/04/indian-student-identified-pelham-st-death/

 

Australia- Refugee Children to be moved to detention centres


Date
May 1, 2013
Mark Kenny

Mark Kenny, SMH

Chief political correspondent

 

Darwin's Wickham Point centre for families.Darwin’s Wickham Point centre for families. Photo: Glenn Campbell

Children will again be held in mainland detention centres, with authorities setting aside a compound at Darwin’s Wickham Point centre for families.

It is a significant shift for Labor, which has maintained a long-time opposition to detaining children. Staff have been told that minors could be held within the centre by the end of the week.

A Department of Immigration spokeswoman said work had been done to make the compound suitable for families, who would be held separately to adult men.

An Afghani family seeking asylum in are processed by Australian Customs and Dept of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) after their arrival at Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island.Seeking a new life: An Afghan family being checked after arriving at Christmas IslandPhoto: Wolter Peeters

Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor has also confirmed he is considering sending children to a modified section of the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia.

The news comes as the Gillard government‘s parliamentary secretary for mental health, Melissa Parke, called for an independent inquiry into conditions at the offshore processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

Ms Parke said she was disturbed by the images and reports of conditions at the two centres by credible witnesses on the ABC’s Four Corners program.

”I knew of the likelihood of problems, but the program revealed a quite serious situation and I would like an independent assessment of the adequacy of the facilities and their impact on the mental and physical health of asylum seekers, especially children,” she told Fairfax Media.

Although Ms Parke was appointed parliamentary secretary for mental health, homelessness and social housing in the February reshuffle, the mental health of those in offshore detention facilities is Mr O’Connor’s responsibility.

”I don’t think as parliamentary secretary for mental health that I cannot recognise a serious situation when it’s staring me in the face – as it did last night on Four Corners,” she said.

Ms Parke said she would discuss the issue with fellow MPs. ”This is happening, so I think you need to face up to it and deal with it.”

Dr John Valentine, a former International Health and Medical Services worker, said he had tried in vain to warn authorities that the Manus Island camp did not have sufficient medical supplies and equipment to care for children.

Despite this, he said, authorities had sent a severely anaphylactic young boy and a nine-year-old girl with anaemia and a reported history of blood transfusions to the camp.

”The whole time I was there it was just a disaster, medically,” Dr Valentine said. ”They ought not to be in Manus Island.”

Opposition immigration minister Scott Morrison said he believed the government was preparing to act on the concerns.

”We understand that the government has now taken the decision that will see families taken off Manus Island in the course of the next week or so,” Mr Morrison said. ”The Coalition had always questioned the government’s decision to put families on Manus Island. We’ve always said that the better place to do that would be on Nauru.”

But Mr O’Connor said no decision had been made to remove children from Manus.

”I haven’t been contemplating a change to the composition of people on Manus … the composition will not change on Manus province because, if we were to do that, we will see an increase in the composition of people getting on unseaworthy vessels and we will see therefore more likely an increase in the fatality of children and women.”

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said on Tuesday said that Sri Lanka was intensifying its crackdown on critics and increasing human rights abuses.

It said those who criticised the conduct of the government during the island’s civil war – including the media, the judiciary, rights activists and opposition politicians – were particularly at risk.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/children-to-be-moved-to-detention-centres-20130430-2ir8y.html#ixzz2S0Um7pJ9

 

#India – Mentally ill held captive in asylum without licence #WTFnews


Christin Mathew Philip & Pratiksha Ramkumar, TNN Apr 29, 2013,

CHENNAI: Hidden behind 15ft-high compound walls is an 80-bed privately run home for the mentally ill in Urapakkam, 50km from the city. The home, Oxford Charitable Trust, has around 100 patients, but has not renewed its government licence for more than seven years.

“We have not issued a licence to them. They are not registered with us as a private nursing home for the mentally ill,” confirmed Dr C Jayaprakash, director of the government Institute of Mental Health (IMH). As per the law, a private mental health nursing or rehabilitation home needs a licence from the IMH or the state mental health authority. The licence has to be renewed every three years.

While there are 30 licensed private nursing homes for the mentally ill in the city, there are a number of centres that operate without licences or regulation.

Oxford Charitable Trust functions out of a white-washed building. The only entrance is a 6ft high blue gate, which is usually locked. TOI managed to gain entry into the building and found a kitchen with women cutting vegetables and stirring watery sambar. Further inside is a courtyard, surrounded by locked rooms with small windows. On the first floor are women watching television while quietly eating sambar and rice.

It could pass off for an old-age home, but residents of Urapakkam say sounds of “women shouting or crying loudly at odd hours” suggest otherwise. “They hit us if we cry, shout or try to escape,” said former inmate K Rizmiya, who has filed a petition in the Madras high court against her husband who admitted her there.

“The staff would force us to take strong sedatives at night or inject us with medicine to put us to sleep for five days if we shouted,” said Rizmiya. She protested the day she was admitted, and woke up in the same spot five days later drenched in her own urine and feces.

Oxford Charitable Trust does not fulfill the prerequisites for a mental health nursing home as per the State Mental Health Rules, 1990. “They need a psychiatrist on call and a full-time psychologist and registered social workers,” says Dr Sathyanathan, former director, IMH. “They need to have an emergency care unit and an electro-convulsive therapy facility,” he said.

The owners describe Oxford Charitable Trust as a home for the mentally ill. “We charge Rs 6,000 a month without medicines,” says one of the owners, G Ramkumar. “We take care of the patient as long as the guardians want us to.” They require a “medical history report and prescription of medicines” for admission.

Rizmiya said brokers who hang around IMH falsify medical certificates and admit people in to the home.

After India, Australia too eyes tighter drug patent standards #Novartis judgement Impact


Rema Nagarajan, TNN | Apr 11, 2013, 05.31 AM IST

NEW DELHI: India is not alone in raising the bar for granting patents on pharmaceutical products. Australia, having reviewed pharma patents, has questioned the benefit of allowing patent extension beyond 20 years and is looking to tighten patent standards which have been found to be “less than rigorous” in the past. The draft report of Australia’s pharmaceutical patents review released recently also raised doubts about Australia necessarily getting more R&D investments from giving patent extensions.

While Novartis and the Big Pharma have threatened that they would not make R&D investment in India because of inadequate patent protection, the Australian review panel says: “It is difficult to see why a pharmaceutical firm would choose to conduct R&D in Australia, merely because the government decided to offer an extension of (patent) term here.” The panel report noted that it was fundamental issues such as relative costs of R&D and skill availability which influenced the location of R&D spending.

The report recommended that the current model of using the patents system to subsidise pharmaceutical R&D indirectly through patent extensions should be replaced with a direct subsidy. It observed that direct subsidy also had an additional benefit because it could be directed towards investment in pharmaceuticals which were not well addressed by the patent scheme, such as too little research for newer antibiotics, pharmaceuticals to address rare diseases, paediatric illnesses and endemic health issues in low income countries.

The patent review panel pointed out how the life of patent protection in Australia has been extended beyond even the 20 years mandated by the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property RightsTRIPS) because of a separate free trade agreement (FTA) that Australia signed with the US.

According to the review report, this FTA was signed “without careful regard to whether this was in our own economic interest” .

 

 

American lobbying company Apco Worldwide markets Narendra Modi to the world


Apco muscled out a raft of PR companies, including the now defunct Vaishnavi Communications of controversial lobbyist Niira Radia, to win the contract to promote Vibrant Gujarat

Apco muscled out a raft of PR companies, including the now defunct Vaishnavi Communications of controversial lobbyist Niira Radia, to win the contract to promote Vibrant Gujarat
 DEC, 2012,  BINOY PRABHAKAR,ET BUREAU
Although the influence powerhouses that line Washington’s K Street are just a few miles from the US Capitol building, the most direct path between the two doesn’t necessarily involve public transportation. Instead, it’s through a door-a Revolving Door that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers.

- The Center for Responsive Politics campaign-finance watchdog in the US

In 2006, an American lobby called Apco Worldwide, which doubles in public relations and boasts clients ranging from dictators to global investment banks, stepped into India. Uncharacteristically for one of the most muscular business lobby groups in Washington, it was a quiet entry. So it was not until three years later that Apco’s business in India really came into its own.

Apco muscled out a raft of PR companies, including the now defunct Vaishnavi Communications of controversial lobbyist Niira Radia, to win the contract to promote Vibrant Gujarat, the showpiece investment meeting of chief minister Narendra Modi that often sees dizzy pledges to do business and lavishes praise on Modi’s administration.

Vibrant Gujarat has evolved into the country’s premier investment meet – it is billed the “Indian Davos” – and as Gujarat goes to polls on December 13 and 17, Modi has frequently used the massive publicity around the event as a plank in his campaign.

How an American lobbying company Apco Worldwide markets Narendra Modi to the world

Until Apco appeared on the scene in 2009 to sell the event, Vibrant Gujarat was a modest show. At the first three events, investment promises were worth no more than $14 billion, $20 billion and $152 billion.

Enter Apco and in 2009 and 2011, the promises grew to $253 billion and $450 billion. The 2013 edition – from January 11-13 – is billed as the biggest yet. The United States-India Business Council (USIBC), along with counterparts from the UK and Australia, is sponsoring the event.

LOBBY GIANT

Those following Apco’s fortunes wouldn’t be surprised by the success of Vibrant Gujarat (the company has won a Global SABRE Award for its work). From its headquarters in Washington, Apco has long influenced many hot-button political and economic debates that roiled the US.

In 2010, Apco offered to start an image-improvement campaign for the US financial industry, which includes JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc, after more than a year of public flogging in Washington. When these companies solicited proposals from public relations firms, they said: “Past experience in successful reputation enhancement campaigns is valued.”

Apco was hired by Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev to extricate himself from a four-year-long dispute with his former son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev. The company was approached by Hewlett-Packard Co’s board after accusations of harassment against its chief executive officer. It also handled crises as diverse asMerckBSE 0.27 % & Co’s scandal involving Vioxx, the arthritis drug that killed thousands before it was withdrawn, and Ford Motor’s troubles with Firestone tires on its Explorer vehicles.

How an American lobbying company Apco Worldwide markets Narendra Modi to the world

Link patented drug prices to per capita income: Panel #patientrights


SEEKING AFFORDABILITY

Ag overnment panel has proposed that prices of patented medicines be based on the country’s per capi ta income, a move that would substantially reduce prices of costly drugs made by global pharmaceutical firms. 

The proposal, which seeks the input of other government agencies as well as industry groups, could provoke the ire of Big Pharma, which has clashed with India over protec tion of intellectual property price regulations for generic drugs, and compulsory licens es for costly medicines.
A panel formed under the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers has recommended setting up a committee to negotiate with drugmakers to fix prices of costly drugs used to treat deadly diseases such as cancer, HIV and hepatitis.
The proposal is the latest in a series of measures taken by India to make medicines more affordable for the coun try’s 1.2 billion population.
“If we compare the per capita income with the prices of patented medicines in countries like Australia or France, prices in India are compara tively high and hence, they need to be regulated,” a senior ministry official told Reuters, declining to be identified because he was not authorized to speak with media.
Generic medicines account for more than 90% of India’s $13 billion pharmaceuticals market. US-based Abbott Laboratories has the largest share of the overall Indian drug market followed by Cipla.
The proposal, posted late on Monday on the ministry website, cites as an example the lung-cancer drug erlotinib HCL, sold by Roche Holding as Tarceva. In India, it costs Rs 35,450 for a month’s course of 100 mg tablets, equivalent to Rs 1,21,085 in France and Rs 1,21,650 in Australia.
Based on per capita gross national incomes, if the drug costs Rs 35,450 in India, its respective cost would be just Rs 11,643 in France and Rs 10,309 in Australia based on per capita income in the respective countries, the report said.
The Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India, which represents for eign drugmakers in India, did not reply to questions from Reuters.
“If stringent price regula tions are enforced then latest drugs will not be made availa ble in India,” said Ameet Hariani, managing partner at Hariani & Co, a Mumbaibased law firm that advises drugmakers and other companies. REUTERS

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi’s;Granddaughter opposes #Deathpenalty #Vaw #Rape


: Monday, February 25, 2013, Zee News
Melbourne: Amid a debate in India over capital punishment for rapists, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi on Monday said the death sentence is not the solution to end violence against women and the society needs to promote gender consciousness.”Capital punishment itself will not change the attitude towards gender, nor (the) Anna Hazare-led stir on bringing a law against corruption alone will change the system,” Ela Gandhi, a former South African MP said during her visit to Australia. “Well it’s 2013 but lots of mothers still buy pink for their girls and blue for the boys, that’s just one little thing in which they differentiate. I think if you just go from there, you see little issues in the way we bring up our children, that you know makes these roles separate, that children grow up thinking that we are different,” she said. “There is a difference between girls and boys but that difference is not, you know, in terms of roles and so on. That difference has been exaggerated and that is what we need to curb, ABC news quoted her as saying. And the social activist, who is working to end domestic violence thinks the society needs to “become more gender conscious”. “You know, there has to be real community outreach programs with parents, with young people in schools. Everywhere, gender consciousness needs to be a part of the syllabus of every child, that from infancy to tertiary education and in the community,” she said. She also expressed shock over alleged murder of model Reeva Steenkamp by gold medalist paralympian Oscar Pistorius. “Steenkamp’s death by the hands of her boyfriend has reinforced the unfortunate fact that South Africa is battling with the deep-rooted culture of violence? possession of arms such as a gun lead to these kinds of irreversible consequences,” she said. She also participated in various events framed around the theme “Global Problems, Local Solutions”.