Nation
Sonia holds parleys with ministers amid talk of cabinet rejig

The Congress president also had a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan whose name is doing the rounds for a Cabinet berth at the Centre, along with Narayan Rane and some others

 

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday held parleys with some union ministers and senior party leaders amid indications of a Cabinet reshuffle, reports PTI.

 

Those who met Gandhi at her official residence at 10- Janpath included Road and Transport Minister CP Joshi, who has been given additional charge of Railways after resignation of Trinamool Congress ministers including Mukul Roy from the government.

 

Gandhi also had a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan whose name is doing the rounds for a Cabinet berth at the Centre, along with Narayan Rane and some others.

 

AICC incharge for Maharashtra Mohan Prakash also met Gandhi.

 

Sources said Maharashtra will be represented in the Cabinet after two vacancies were created following shifting of Chavan as Chief Minister and the demise of Vilasrao Deshmukh.

 

The Congress president also held deliberations with Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC treasurer Motilal Vora and her secretary Ahmed Patel.

 

There was earlier a talk that Azad could be drafted for party work. However, there was no confirmation.

 

According to Congress sources, a reshuffle could be a substantial affair with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh giving ample hint of pursuing the reforms agenda.

 

With six ministers from TMC leaving, two to three Congress leaders from West Bengal are expected to be accommodated. The names of Deepa Dashmunshi and Adhir Choudhury, known detractors of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and West Bengal PCC chief Pradeep Bhatacharjee are doing the rounds.

 

A reshuffle of the AICC secretariat is also on the cards and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi is expected to get a larger responsibility in the organisation.

 

The exercise could see some of the ministers holding charges of two ministries losing one of the portfolios.

 

Beni Prasad Verma, Kapil Sibal, CP Joshi, Veerappa Moily and Vayalar Ravi are some of the ministers holding charge of two ministries.

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Kharif foodgrains output projected to fall by 10%: Pawar

As per the first advance estimate, total foodgrains production is expected at 117.18 million tonnes in the kharif season this year, lower than the last year but higher than the average production of 113 million tonnes over the last five years


New Delhi: India's foodgrains production is projected to decline by 10% in the kharif season of this year at 117.18 million tonnes (MT) due to deficient monsoon and drought in some states, reports PTI.

 

However, the government expects to make up for the decline in output during the Rabi season (winter sown crop).

 

Foodgrains output stood at 129.94 MT in last year's Kharif season. The production of rice -- a major Kharif crop -- is expected to fall to 85.59 MT compared with 91.53 MT in the last Kharif (summer crops).

 

"As per the first advance estimate, total foodgrains production is expected at 117.18 million tonnes in the kharif season of 2012-13 crop year, lower than the last year but higher than the average production of 113 million tonnes in the last five years," India's Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters here on Monday.

 

"Whatever shortfall we have seen in kharif season will be covered in rabi," the minister said.

 

Pulses production is estimated at 5.26 MT in Kharif this year against 6.16 MT during the year ago period, he said, adding the production of coarse cereals is estimated to fall to 26.33 MT from 32.26 MT.

 

Deficiency of monsoon stands at 5% so far. Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan have declared drought in over 390 subdivisions.

 

Asked if fall in foodgrains output will impact prices, Pawar said: "Last year's stock position of wheat and rice is extremely good. There is no problem. I am worried prices of wheat, atta (flour) and sugar are going up in the market. I do not understand the reason because we have good crop".

 

Pawar said he would speak to the Consumer Affairs Minister on this issue. "More quantity of sugar and wheat need to be released in the market to check prices".

 

Releasing the first advance estimates of kharif season for 2012-13 crop year (July-June), Pawar said oilseeds output is estimated at 18.78 million tonnes from 20.78 million tonnes in Kharif last year.

 

"Production of soyabean is encouraging and will offset decline in groundnut," he added.

 

Cotton production is estimated to fall to 33.4 million bales (of 170 kg each) as against 35.2 million bales during last year, while sugarcane production is pegged at 335.3 million tonnes against 357.6 million tonnes last year.

 

"This year, we have witnessed delay in onset of monsoon.

 

The first estimates are better than expected. These are preliminary estimates and final estimates will be better than this," Pawar said.

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IRDA mulling to follow 'lead insurance model' to enhance reach

IRDA has proposed the lead insurance model on the basis of geography, similar to banking industry in order to give emphasis on availability of various services in one particular zone

Mumbai: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on Monday said it is mulling to follow the lead insurance model based on geography, which is presently followed by the banking industry known as 'lead banking model', reports PTI.

 

"IRDA has proposed the lead insurance model on the basis of geography, just like the banking industry," IRDA Chairman J Hari Narayan said at an Assocham summit.

 

He also said the regulator is waiting for feedback from the life insurance and non-life insurance council on this issue.

 

In the banking sector, lead bank model is followed in specific geographies in order to give emphasis on availability of various banking services in one particular zone, which the regulator is considering to replicate.

 

When asked about increase in cap of FDI in the insurance sector, the IRDA Chairman said, the industry needs a lot investment for future growth. "So, we will welcome the steps to increase the FDI in insurance sector," he added.

 

Talking about approval of pension products, Hari Narayan said those filed by companies are not pension products.

 

"They may call it pension product. It’s much like a mutual fund products. That is you make a periodic investment and you can pull back at any point of time. So, these products will not be approved. What we have said is that a pension product should have an annuity. So product without any element of pension will not be approved," he explained.

 

Hari Narayan further said the finance minister had met with select insurers earlier in September, in which the insurers had suggested some measures for the growth of life insurance industry.

 

"So, there are a list of issues, which will be further discussed in another meeting with the Finance Minister on Wednesday, like income tax, service tax. We believe that certain tax measures will be helpful for the growth of the industry," he said.

 

Referring to draft guideline on product design, he said, it will be sent to the Life Council in 2-3 weeks.

 

The regulator also pointed out its concerns relating to next growth areas in general insurance industry in the wake of slowing motor insurance segment coupled with reducing margins in health insurance.

 

He, however, said motor pool, which is one of the highest loss making segment of general insurance industry, will stop bleeding by next year.

 

Talking about bancassurance, he said, one is to one agency system (one bank selling products of one insurance company) is as per the law, however, banks can work as insurance brokers to sell products of multiple insurance companies.

 

Hari Narayan also stressed on rationalisation in commission structure, saying that management cost should be reduced.

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