Prime minister makes minor changes in much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle

Dr Manmohan appoints eight new faces in his ministry, drops seven ministers, keeps key ministries unchanged

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today completed a much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle, appointing V Kishore Chandra Deo of the Congress and Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool Congress as Union Cabinet ministers. According to a list of the new appointments and changes submitted to President Pratibha Patil this morning, steel minister Beni Prasad Verma and environment minister Jairam Ramesh, have been elevated to Cabinet rank from ministers of state with independent charge.

Mr Chandra Deo will be in charge of tribal affairs and panchayati raj, while Dinesh Trivedi will be the new railways minister, succeeding his party chief Mamata Banerjee after she became chief minister of West Bengal. While Mr Verma will continue to be in charge of the steel ministry, Mr Ramesh will now handle rural development.

The new ministers will be sworn in at a ceremony this evening. The Union Council of Ministers will now have 68 members.

The prime minister has not attempted to touch the major ministries of finance, home, defence and external affairs, though there was speculation that he might make substantive changes. No ministries have been given to DMK members in place of A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran who have resigned.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan and Congress chief whip Paban Singh Ghatowar have been inducted as ministers of state with independent charge. Ms Natarajan will be in charge of environment and forests, whereas Mr Ghatowar will see to the development of the northeastern region.

Two other ministers of state who have been given independent charge are Srikant Jena, who will head the ministry of statistics and programme implementation while continuing to be the minister of state for chemicals and fertilizers, and Gurudas Kamat, who now takes charge of drinking water and sanitation instead of home and communications.

Other new faces in the Union Cabinet who have been appointed as ministers of state, are Trinamool Congress chief whip Sudip Bandopadhyaya (health and family welfare), Congress member of parliament from Chhattisgarh Charan Das Mahant (agriculture and food processing industries), Jitendra Singh (home affairs), Milind Deora (communications and information technology) and Rajiv Shukla (parliamentary affairs).

The prime minister has also made changes in some other departments shifting Vilasrao Deshmukh from rural development to science and technology and earth sciences, E Ahamed from external affairs to human resources development, Veerappa Moily from law to corporate affairs, with Salman Khurshid now in charge of the law ministry. Minister of state Mukul Roy has been divested of the railways portfolio and continues to look after shipping.

Dr Singh has dropped five ministers from his Cabinet-MS Gill, BK Handique, Kanti Lal Bhuria, A Sai Prathap and Arun S Yadav-and recommended to the president that the resignations of Dayanidhi Maran and Murli Deora be accepted.


Infosys Q1 net up 15.72% y-o-y to Rs1,722 crore; stock slips over 5%

Wage hikes and intense competition from rivals puts pressure on quarterly performance of country’s number two software services exporter

Infosys Technologies today announced a 15.72% increase in consolidated net profit to Rs1,722 crore for the first quarter ended 30 June 2011 over the Rs1,488 crore recorded in the corresponding period a year ago.

According to results filed with the Bombay Stock Exchange, net profit dipped 5.2% from the Rs1,818 crore in the previous quarter ended 31 March 2011. The company maintained its full-year dollar revenue forecast of 18%-20%, which did not seem to satisfy the market as the stock slipped over 5% to Rs2,750 within minutes of the opening of trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Both the benchmark Sensex and Nifty were down by over 1% at around noon. The IT sector was the worst hit losing more than 3%.

The company's performance has been hurt by wage hikes and intense competition from rivals such as Tata Consultancy Services, IBM and Accenture.

"We have re-organised the company to be more industry domain-focused, which will accelerate innovation and make us more responsive to clients' needs," said S Gopalakrishnan, CEO and managing director. "We believe that Infosys is well positioned to be a transformational partner for large clients even as they navigate through uncertain times."

The company's revenues rose nearly 21% to Rs7,485 crore in the June quarter as it added 26 new clients, its slowest pace of quarterly customer acquisition in four years. This highlights the prevailing global economic uncertainty and concerns about top management changes the company has been undertaking recently. Revenues in the June quarter last year was Rs6,198 crore.

"Our top five clients grew by 8.2% this quarter. Volumes grew by 4% as a result of our tactical engagement with large clients. Our initiatives to address the company's transition into the next generation of global consulting and technology services will position us as a high-quality player in the IT services space," said SD Shibulal, chief operating officer and member of the board.

In April, Infosys announced the retirement of its chairman, NR Narayana Murthy, who will step down in August, and said that chief executive, S Gopalakrishnan, will become co-chairman. The board also said SD Shibulal, a founder of the company, will become the new CEO.

Infosys expects revenues to be in the range of Rs7,699 crore and Rs7,810 crore (y-o-y growth of 10.8% to 12.4%) for the quarter ending 30 September 2011. "We continue to focus on high quality growth, balancing both revenue growth and margins," said V Balakrishnan, chief financial officer and member of the board.

At the end of June 30, the company had 1,33,560 employees, including 2,740 new staff inducted during the first quarter.


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