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Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh passes away

Vilasrao Deshmukh, the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra had shown signs of improvement and been on and off the ventilator before being prepared for a transplant

Chennai: Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was undergoing treatment for a serious liver ailment, died at a city hospital on Tuesday, reports PTI.
The end came early this afternoon a week after Deshmukh, 67, the Science and Technology Minister, was hospitalised here in a critical condition, even as attempts were being made to find a donor for his liver transplant.
An attempt to harvest liver from a brain dead donor from a government hospital here last night failed as the man died before doctors could operate on him, hospital sources said.
A team from Global Hospitals, where Deshmukh was admitted on 6th August, had planned to retrieve the liver from the 31-year-old donor at the hospital, but he died, forcing them to look for another donor, the sources said.
Following this, the hospital said they were looking for a liver donor.
The former Maharashtra Chief Minister had shown signs of improvement and been on and off the ventilator before being prepared for a transplant.
Deshmukh was brought to Chennai from Mumbai in an air ambulance in a critical condition and was under the care of a team of different specialists.
He will be cremated at his native Babhalgaon village in Latur district tomorrow, family sources said.
The mortal remains of the departed leader will be brought to Latur tomorrow and kept at his house in Babhalgaon from 9 am to 3 pm for people to pay their last respects, his brother Dilip Deshmukh, said.
The funeral procession will start at 3 pm and last rites would be performed at 4 pm, he said.
Vilasrao - a political craftsman par excellence 
From an obscure village 'Sarpanch' to a powerful chief minister and Union minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh was a political craftsman adept at turning challenges into opportunities.
Beginning his political journey as 'Sarpanch' of Babhalgaon village panchayat in 1974, Vilasrao Dagadojirao Deshmukh (67), negotiated the choppy political waters of Maharashtra with elan, becoming chief minister twice before moving over to Delhi as a member of the Union cabinet.
Hailing from the politically dominant Maratha community, Deshmukh, a graduate from the ILS Law College, Pune, was a grassroots worker of Congress, who proved his mettle at all stages in his impressive political career.
Starting out as a panchayat member, Deshmukh was 'Sarpanch' of Babhalgaon from 1974 to 1976, member of the Osmanabad Zilla Parishad and Deputy Chairman of Latur Taluka Panchayat Samiti.
As President of Osmanabad District Youth Congress from 1975 to 1978, he vigorously implemented the five-Point programme of the organisation.
Deshmukh was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1980 and followed it up with victories in 1985 and 1990.
He held important portfolios of revenue, cooperation, agriculture, home, industries and education as a minister in the state between 1982 and 1995.
Deshmukh received a big setback when he lost the elections in 1995 to Shivajirao Patil Kavhekar but came back with a resounding triumph in the 1999 poll when he won by a margin of over 90,000 votes.
His political sagacity landed him the coveted chief minister's chair for the first time in October, 1999. He continued in the post from 18 October 1999 to 17 January 2003, when he had to make way for Sushilkumar Shinde, amid growing factionalism in the state Congress.
Never known to sulk in a quiet corner, the hard-boiled politician from Latur won the Legislative Assembly polls in October 2004 and was sworn in as chief minister for the second time on 1st November that year. 
Amid mounting public outrage over the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008, Deshmukh resigned owning moral responsibility and shifted to Delhi taking the Rajya Sabha route.
After he entered the Rajya Sabha, he was inducted as Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and later as Minister for Rural Development. He was appointed as Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Earth Sciences on 12 July 2011.
Like most politicians, controversies did not spare him too. Deshmukh provoked indignation and was accused of "terror tourism" when he visited the fire-ravaged Taj hotel with actor son Riteish Deshmukh and filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma soon after the 26/11 carnage.
On 9 February 2012, the Bombay High Court ordered Subhash Ghai to return to Maharashtra government the land allotted for his film institute and indicted Deshmukh for "misusing his official position" as chief minister by showing "undue favours" to old filmmaker friend.
On 28 March 2012, a metropolitan magistrate's court directed the Marine Drive police station to investigate allegations that Deshmukh shielded a Congress MLA accused of torturing farmers to recover loans.
Deshmukh's role was also questioned by the Comptroller and Auditor General in its 2012 Report, which said that as chief minister in 2005, he allotted a 23,840 square metre plot of land in Mumbai to his family-run Manjara Charitable Trust.
The market value of the land was Rs30 crore, but it was allotted for a paltry Rs6.56 crore.
Though not an accused, Deshmukh was also under scanner in the Adarsh housing scam for giving various clearances to the controversial housing society as chief minister.


Inflation declines to 6.87% as rates of food articles eased

In food articles category in July, potatoes turned expensive by 73%, rice by 10.12%, cereals by 8.29% and pulses by 28.26% on annual basis

New Delhi: Inflation declined to 6.87% in July as the rate of price rise of the food articles category eased a little, although pressure remained on potato, pulses and rice as well as manufactured items, reports PTI.


Inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), was 7.25% in June. In July last year, it was 9.36%. Overall, food inflation declined to 10.06% in July, from 10.81% in June.


In July last year, however, the rate of price rise in this category was 8.19%. Food articles have 14.3% share in the WPI basket.


In the manufactured items category, prices rose for cotton textiles, paper and paper products, cement and lime.


The rate of price rise in the manufactured products was 5.58% in July, as against 5% in June.


In food articles category in July, potatoes turned expensive by 73%, rice by 10.12%, cereals by 8.29% and pulses by 28.26% on annual basis.


Besides, eggs, meat, fish prices were up by 16%. Inflation rate in milk prices was 8.01% and for vegetables it was 24.11%.


However, the pressure on prices of onions and fruits declined during July. While inflation in fruits was negative at (-)0.15%, for onion it was (-)9.81%.


Among the non-food articles, inflation in fibres was high at 5.89%, oil seeds at 25.22% and minerals at 8.43%.


Exports dip 15% in July; $350 billion target a stiff challenge

Reflecting slowdown in the Indian economy, imports too declined by 7.6% to $37.9 billion in July, leaving a trade deficit of $15.5 billion

New Delhi: Hit hard by demand slowdown in the US and Europe, India's exports in July contracted 14.8% - steepest fall in three years - to $22.4 billion, making it difficult for the country to achieve the target of $350 billion this fiscal, reports PTI.


"The world trade contraction is getting worsened. The worst fear of European sovereign debt crisis is really impacting the world trade. In the US markets also, the appetite has substantially come down...Days coming ahead are tough," Commerce Secretary SR Rao told reporters.


Reflecting slowdown in the economy, imports too declined by 7.6% to $37.9 billion in July, leaving a trade deficit of $15.5 billion.


"Trade deficit has fallen but not very comfortably," Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Anup Pujari said.


During the April-July period of 2012-13, exports have shrunk by 5.1% to $97.6 billion. Imports during the period dipped by 6.47% to $153.2 billion.


Earlier in the day, DGFT had said the cumulative exports figure for the four months was $80.44 billion.


Rao said due to the demand slowdown in the two biggest markets - the US and Europe, "it is a stiff challenge" to achieve the exports target of $350 billion set up for the current fiscal.


Asked whether the government is planning to provide more incentives to exporters, he said there is need to take more steps to reduce transactions cost of exporters to increase competitiveness of Indian goods in the global markets.


He said that the recent steps like 24x7 working of customs and Electronic Bank Realisation of Cheques would help in substantially reducing the transactions cost.


"We will have to reassess our tactical steps...several such steps would be taken...we need to focus on how to reduce transactions cost within our own economy," he added.


Last time when exports witnessed such a steep fall was in August 2009. They were down 23.5% then.


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