5.7 magnitude quake jolts north India

According to the India Meteorological Department, the epicentre of the quake was on the Indo-Nepal border and occurred at 5.02pm. It lasted for three seconds

NEW DELHI: An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale struck North India and its effect was felt in Delhi, Ghaziabad, and Noida.

The India Meteorological Department said the epicentre of the quake was on the Indo-Nepal  border and occurred at 5.02pm. It lasted for three seconds.

Police and fire brigade said there was no report of any casualty or damage as yet.


Demand for gold in India expected to grow faster to 1,200 tonnes by 2020: World Gold Council

High prices have not slowed demand; gold as investment will have to compete with a wider range of options

India's cumulative annual demand for gold is expected to increase to over 1,200 tonnes by 2020, an estimated growth of 30%, according to the World Gold Council (WGC). This is valued at about Rs2.5 trillion at current prices.

The WGC stated in its report, "India: Heart of Gold", which was published last week, that gold demand in the country has grown by 25% over the last decade, despite a 400% rise in prices.

Rapid growth is improving incomes and savings, which has led to greater gold purchases. In 2010, total annual consumer demand was 963.1 tonne.

A significant part of this demand comes from a growing middle class that is 64 million strong, a rising savings ratio of 30%-40% and a strong cultural affinity for gold, according to the WGC. Increasing income is expected to increase gold purchasing power by about 3% per annum.

India accounts for 32% of global jewellery. Gold jewellery contributed around 75% of total gold demand in the last decade and more than 50% of this buying has been motivated for investment purposes. Indians hold the largest stock of gold in the world, and 18,000 tonnes of this is held by households.

Around 50% of the country's total population is under the age of 25, so it is expected that there will be approximately 15 million weddings per annum over the next decade. Gold is an integral part of weddings and this will drive around 500 tonnes of new gold demand per annum, together with a further 500 tonnes of existing gold being gifted by one family to the next.

Globalisation has brought various changes in Indian consumers' tastes with buyers looking for jewellery accessories in the range of 18 to 22 carat.

The rural agriculture sector accounts for more than two-third of gold demand. The sector is currently growing at less than 1% per annum and this is expected to increase at 5% per annum with increasing purchases in rural communities.

Dr R Kannan, vice chair of the Solvency Sub-committee of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, says that the gold demand in India is influenced not only by prices, but by macro-economic, monetary and policy variables that include income, interest rates, exchange rates, personal income-tax, government spending and wealth.

WGC says that in the last five years future gold purchase intent in India has remained demonstrably stable, in spite of rising gold prices during the period.

Gold has also become an integral part of India's currency reserves. The share in total reserves declined over the past decade due to the growth in dollar-denominated assets. Between 1996 and 2001, Indian gold sales were broadly stable in value terms, averaging Rs284 billion per annum. However, Indian jewellery demand surged to 745.7 tonne in 2010, 13% above the previous peak in 1998, because of rising gross domestic product (GDP) and the removal of import controls.

However, the young generation today has many investment options and this could still be a major challenge for gold. The desirability for gold will need to be sustained, as consumers will be increasingly influenced by Western luxury goods and investment markets.

In view of the Reserve Bank of India's policy of encouraging Indian savers to hold less physical assets (gold and property) and to increasingly hold financial assets, the financial services industry will need to introduce sustainable gold-based investment solutions in the market.


PAC quizzes Ratan Tata, Niira Radia in 2G allocation scam

Ms Radia is believed to have told the committee that some of the tapes of her purported talks were doctored. Mr Tata He is understood to have been asked the reasons for Tata Teleservices' interest in launching GSM services when it was already a key player in the CDMA segment for such services

New Delhi: Top Indian industrialist Ratan Tata and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia were Monday quizzed by the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in connection with alleged irregularities in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation scam, reports PTI.

Ms Radia, whose tapped phone conversations with politicians, corporates, bureaucrats, and journalists form a key part of the investigations into the 2G spectrum scam, is believed to have told the committee that some of the tapes of her purported talks were doctored.

"She told us that some tapes are genuine while some are doctored," a member of the PAC said.

He said she was also asked about the letter Mr Tata had reportedly written to chief minister of south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, M Karunanidhi, praising the then telecom minister A Raja.

Ms Radia, chairperson of Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, appeared before the PAC along with two senior colleagues Manoj Warrier and Yateesh Wahaal.

Another PAC member said that Ms Radia was evasive while answering to several questions. "I don't know. I cannot remember was her refrain to many questions," said the member.

The PAC quizzed Ms Radia for nearly two hours. She had reached Parliament just before 11am, the time allotted for recording of evidence. However, the members had a long discussion among themselves for over an hour and she was finally called in just past noon.

Mr Tata, chairman of Tata Sons, appeared before the committee after 3pm. He is understood to have been asked the reasons for Tata Teleservices' interest in launching Global System for Mobile services when it was already a key player in the Code Division Multiple Access technology for such services.

One of the questions put to him was regarding the group's dealing with journalists and whether it was a practice to make payments to them for publishing favourable news reports.

The panel, headed by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi, is understood to have sought clarifications from Ms Radia on the tapped conversations which include allegations of trying to influence portfolio allocation to ministers in the United Progressive Alliance-II government.

In the calls, Ms Radia is allegedly heard making efforts to ensure that Mr Raja gets the telecom portfolio. Mr Raja is now in jail in connection with the 2G scam.

The PAC has asked Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani, Etisalat DB Telecom CEO Atul Jhamb, S-Tel CEO Shamik Das and Unitech Wireless managing director Sigve Brekke to appear before it Tuesday.


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