Newsviewer Exclusive
Google new product search to be a paid service in US

Google's new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and its transition in the US would be on purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads

New York: Google's free 'product search' would soon be a paid service in the US under which merchants and retailers will have to pay for listings of products, reports PTI.

"We are starting to transition Google Product Search in the US to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. This new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and the transition will be complete this fall," Google Shopping Vice President (Product Management) Sameer Samat said in his blog yesterday.

The new initiative seen as a step to boost company's revenue will in addition provide the customers a higher quality shopping experience.

"... Shoppers can easily research purchases, compare different products, their features and prices, and then connect directly with merchants to make their purchase," Samat said.

The service will be based on bid price and relevance giving the merchants and retailers a greater control over where their products appear on Google Shopping. Over a period of time they will also have the opportunity to market special offers.

The internet company has begun experimenting with some new commercial formats on Google.Com that will make it easier for users to find and compare different products.

These include larger product images that give shoppers a better sense of what is available and also the ability to refine a search by brand or product type.

These new formats would be labeled "sponsored," and take space currently occupied by AdWords. Users maybe able to view details regarding a product in one place and make a decision on the product and merchant of their choice.

"Google Shopping will empower businesses of all sizes to compete effectively, and it will help shoppers turn their intentions into actions lightning fast. The changes are a first step toward providing technology, tools and traffic to help power the retail ecosystem," Sampat said.


Public Interest Exclusive
Team Anna says CBI investigation into Coalgate scam is mere eyewash

Team Anna says it has no faith in the CBI as the investigative agency is directly controlled by the prime minister and hence would not properly investigate its own boss

Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started verifying the allegations of irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks to private companies between 2006 and 2009 and their misuse by them, Team Anna has said that this is mere eyewash and in the end, the prime minister would be given a clean chit.

"We have no faith in CBI investigating the Coalgate scam because the agency reports to the PM and is directly controlled by him. So by no stretch of imagination one can assume that CBI will be able to do a fair investigation against its boss. The outcome of such an investigation is already known-The PM will be given a clean chit at the end of the investigation," Team Anna said in a release.

"If PM is really honest why is he scared of independent investigation? Why does he want himself to be investigated by an agency directly controlled by him? These questions raise serious doubts in the mind of the people. We have been demanding setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) independent of the government," it said.

Here is the Team Anna's rebuttal to PMO's clarification…

Allegations of corruption were made by Team Anna in the allotment of coal blocks especially during the period 2006-09 when the PM was handling the charge of coal ministry. The PMO has issued a seven-point clarification in this regard. It is unfortunate that this clarification is misleading and seeks to hide many critical facts.

Clarification 1   
It is being said that the government decided to introduce the concept of competitive bidding in 2005. However, according to the government, it is the consensus building for the proposed legislative amendments required to achieve that is what took so much of time.

Our response:
This argument of the PMO is misleading as:
Between 2004 and 2006 there was a series of communication that happened between the ministry of coal (MoC) and the Department of Legal Affairs (DLA). The MoC wanted DLA's views on the way in which competitive bidding can be introduced as the mechanism for allocation of coal blocks. The law secretary repeatedly opined in July 2004, July 2006 and again in August 2006 that amendment to any existing Act (CMN or MMDR) is not a prerequisite to introduce competitive bidding for allocation of coal blocks. Therefore, introduction of competitive bidding was legally feasible for MoC. Despite this the MoC employed a screening committee route to allocate coal blocks till 2009. Why? Moreover, why did it take six years to build consensus on the amendment to the Act and pass it. So many Acts have been passed in days. In fact, it was the PMO which shot down the proposal for issuing an ordinance saying that there was no urgency.

Clarification 2   
PMO has given the following arguments for not opting for auction or competitive bidding:
a.    It is being said that "Coal blocks were never looked upon as a potential source for generating revenue for the central government… Hence the question of maximizing revenue does not arise at all".

Our response:
i.    This appears to be the most specious argument presented by the PMO. It was not ordinary revenue that the government was foregoing. It is possible for different agencies to estimate this loss differently. However, CAG has estimated this loss as Rs1.8 lakh crore which certainly is not ordinary. Who took this decision to forego this revenue? The coal secretary kept on opposing allocation of coal blocks through the screening committee method. He wanted auctions. His opinion was repeatedly rejected by the PMO. Therefore the coal secretary was not a party to the decision to forego this revenue. So was this decision taken by PMO or the PM himself? Who in the PMO took this decision to forego revenue of this order? Does the PMO or PM have the power to take this decision? Is this decision recorded somewhere and can the minutes of this meeting be made public?
ii.    The same argument was given by A Raja in 2G spectrum. This argument has already been rejected by the honourable Supreme Court.
iii.    One fails to understand the internal contradiction in PMO's clarification. On one hand they say that it was decided to introduce competitive bidding in 2005 and the consultation process was started accordingly. Obviously the method of competitive bidding would have led to increase in revenue. So, in principle, they decided to maximize revenue. However, in practice they started allocating mines in an arbitrary manner foregoing revenues. So there seems to be an apparent contradiction in the policy decision and its implementation.

b.    The demand for coal was increasing substantially, legislative changes would have taken a long time and therefore the Screening Committee was adopted.

Our response:
This logic is far from truth. While up to 2005 total 75 coal blocks were allocated, this number went up to 145 from 2006 to 2009. Surprisingly, only one coal block has been allocated since 2010.

Is the PMO saying that the demand for coal was limited before 2005, increased suddenly between 2006 and 2010 and again came down to negligible after that. What are the factors that can explain such a trend in the economy?

Clarification 3   
According to the PMO-"Since the blocks are allocated to private companies only for captive purposes for the specified end use, the question of linking the blocks to the market price/CIL price of coal does not arise at all."

Our response:
This argument is also misleading and factually incorrect. Earlier the policy of government was that coal blocks were given only to those companies which had captive requirements and only for their captive use. This policy was changed and it was decided to allocate coal blocks to even mining companies who would be required to have legal binding and enforceable supply contracts with subsequent end users. This clearly shows that these middlemen mining companies would make all the windfall gains. The government allocates coal blocks at a very cheap price with the hope that the benefit will go to the consumers. However, the mining companies don't do that. The mining company obtains coal blocks at throwaway prices from the government and provides coal to the end-user at market price thus making windfall gains. So it is not the consumer but the middleman mining company that benefits.
It is learnt that several companies which had no experience in steel, cement, power or mining were allocated coal blocks. Most of these coal blocks are yet to start production. In fact some of those companies which did not start coal production after receiving the blocks were subsequently again given more coal blocks despite their earlier violation.
How would the PM explain all these wrongdoings?

In this connection, pointed attention is brought to the following two extracts from the CAG report:

1.    Audit observed that the procedure followed for allocation of coal blocks lacked transparency and it failed to arrive at the optimal price at which allocation of blocks should have been made. MoC had recognized (June 2004) that there was substantial difference between the price of coal supplied by CIL and the cost of coal produced through coal blocks allocated for captive mining and as such there was a windfall gains to the allottees.

2.    The concept of competitive bidding was first made public by the government in June 2004 but was yet to be given effect to (Nov 2011). Competitive bidding would not only bring about 'objectivity' and 'transparency' in allocation procedure, but would also bring in revenue for the Government as part of the substantial windfall gains accruing to the allottees of captive coal blocks was to be tapped through competitive bidding.



Rajkumar Singh

4 years ago

Team Anna is going to do the same thing, which the other politicians are doing it!

The public will not have a SAY in the election and selection of the candidates in his regime also.

We are just transferring our power from one Team to another, and continue living the life of commenting for and against each other, for self-interest only, and remain proudly disunited!

I am sure others will also agree to this bitter truth, but our ego rules over it, to start a new development of like and dislike minded people!

Ratanlal Purohit

4 years ago

Too little too late.
First lets know who runs PMO.
I doubt de jure.
By going through the facts, it appears, some one else, siphoning Indian wealth.
Vested interests know Anna danger and would like to attack. Attack with heavy hand.
India is on Sale.
Indian wealth ki loot hai loot sake to loot. Anta samay pachhtayega jab satta jayegi chooth. With Ram Nam for the rest who believe in God's Holy name. RAM NAAM SATYA HAI.PAAP KARMA KATHYA HAI.

Shirish Shah

4 years ago

Team Anna beginning to do more harm than good by calling PM names.
By calling the prime minister names and asking for investigations into an alleged coal scam, based on a draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that was leaked, Team Anna has discredited itself.

The shrillness and harshness of its tone serve only to replace reasoned, sustained pressure for institutional reform to strengthen integrity, with hysteria. The CAG allegedly says (what it actually says will be known when its report is out) that private companies made undue gains worth Rs 1.8 lakh crore, because of the way in which the government allotted them coal blocks, without auctioning them. Since the PM held the coal portfolio during the allotment of these blocks, he must own moral responsibility, says Team Anna.

In India, coal blocks have not been auctioned. Since coal was made a state monopoly through the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act of 1973, the Act was amended thrice, in 1976, 1993 and 1996, to permit allocation of coal mines for private companies to produce iron and steel, power and cement but only for captive purposes.

Talk of auction began only with the UPA government's move in 2005 to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. The Left opposes removal of state monopoly in coal. Many state governments resisted the move to allocate coal through auctions.

Negotiating a consensus with these stakeholders to liberalise coal mining and institutionalise allocation of mineral rights will take time. But the nation desperately needs coal to produce power, steel and cement, to grow. The nation is importing coal spending precious foreign exchange even though having huge coal reserves. So coal had to be allocated before auctions could be instituted. The government advertised the offer of coal blocks, invited applications and an inter-ministerial committee examined the applicants, with chief secretaries of the concerned states sitting in, to decide the allocation.

This was as transparent as it could be. To convert this into a scam is grossly irresponsible. What is needed is to demand policy reform in the entire mining sector. Hysteria puts off people. Whatever its other demerits, the Anna campaign served to channel public anger against corruption. That now stands endangered.


Ram Nevetia

In Reply to Shirish Shah 4 years ago

Team Anna ought to be thrashed and then trashed. They are tyrants who have no respect for any democratic institutions. They are law unto themselves interfering in any issue under the sun. They have become biggest obstacle to India' progress. This idiots cannot understand that corruption is only one of the issues facing the nation. Janlokpal will not make iota of difference to tackle it.


In Reply to Ram Nevetia 4 years ago

Absolutely correct. The way to tackle corruption is through bringing transparency, removing discretionary powers, reducing taxes, deciding on applications in a time bound manner, giving reasons for the decision taken, productivity linked salary to government staff, swift and fair judiciary, etc.

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to HS 4 years ago

Vish bel. The poison ivy. Around the tree. Sapping it .
Vicious circle. From where to cut, is the question from those who have millions or rather now Billion$ of Dollars.
Why thrash or trash
if at all it is the rapidly growing poison ivy grass congress. Follow Gandhi's advice.

Newsviewer Exclusive
CBI starts verifying complaint of coal block scam

According to complaints filed by BJP leaders, there was a delay of nearly two years in auctioning process and claims that the ministry had done so to benefit some private players

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started verifying the allegations of irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks to private companies between 2006 and 2009 and their misuse by them, reports PTI.

The agency received the complaint of BJP leaders Prakash Javadekar and Hansraj Ahir, from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The BJP leaders have alleged that first-come-first-serve basis was adopted by the government to benefit some private companies.

CBI sources said the complaint that has been received has general allegations in which names or individual companies are not mentioned.

"We are happy that CVC has taken cognisance of our complaint. The CVC has written to us saying your complaints have been duly examined in the Commission having regard to the issues raised therein and the same has been forwarded to the CBI for a preliminary inquiry," Javadekar, who was accompanied by Ahir, told reporters.

The complaint also alleges that there was a delay of nearly two years in auctioning process and claims that the ministry had done so to benefit some private players.

The complaint also alleged that allocation of blocks to 156 companies was not proper as they had handed over operations to other companies at a premium.

It is also alleged the allottees of coal blocks did not start production themselves and outsourced the operation to third parties at a premium and pocketing the benefit.

In his complaint, Ahir had alleged that the price of 1,700 crore metric tonne of coal worth Rs51 lakh crore was given almost free to private companies.

In a statement last year, the BJP had alleged revealed that 51 companies were allotted coal blocks in 2006, 19 companies in 2007, 41 companies in 2008 and 32 companies in 2009, at a rate of Rs50 per metric tonne.


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