Wheat output to be record high at 88.31 million tonnes this year

The country is expected to see a record wheat production for the fourth straight year at an estimated 88.31 million tonnes in the 2011-12 crop.

New Delhi: The country is expected to see a record wheat production for the fourth straight year at an estimated 88.31 million tonnes in the 2011-12 crop year due to higher yield and good weather conditions reports PTI

Wheat output was at a record high of 86.87 million tonnes last year also.

The overall foodgrains output is also estimated to exceed the target of 245 million tonnes and touch a record 250.42 million tonnes, according to the second advance crop estimate for 2011-12 released by the Agriculture Ministry today.

The foodgrains output was at 244.78 million tonnes in 2010-11.

This is the second-straight year of a record foodgrains production, boosting the government's plan for implementing the Food Security Bill, that aims to provide cheaper grains to the poor.

Out of total foodgrains output, rice production is estimated to increase to 102.75 million tonnes this year, as against 95.98 million tonnes last year.

However, pulses production is estimated to be lower at 17.28 million tonnes this year, as against 18.24 million tonnes last year.

Similarly, oilseed production is estimated to fall to 30.52 million tonnes from 32.47 million tonnes in the reviewed period.

In the cash crop basket, cotton production is estimated to be a record 34.08 million bales (of 170 kg each), as compared with 33 million bales last year.

Jute output is estimated to 11.61 million bales (of 180 kg each) in 2011-12 as against 10.6 million bales last year.

Sugarcane production is expected to be higher at 347.86 million tonnes as against 342.38 million tonnes last year. PTI LUX

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''Meta university'' may start from next academic session: Sibal

The government today indicated the proposed 'meta-university' concept, which will enable a student to pursue cross-disciplinary programme simultaneously

New Delhi: The government today indicated the proposed 'meta-university' concept, which will enable a student to pursue cross-disciplinary programme simultaneously, will become a reality from the next academic session reports PTI

"I am hopeful that by next academic year, we will be able to start the meta university," HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said at a function.

The proposed institution, for example, will make it possible for an IIT Kanpur student to also enrol for a course in Ancient History from Jawaharlal Nehru University or a Mathematics student from Indian Institute of Science to pursue a course in comparative literature from Jadavpur University.

The university will leverage on national knowledge network programme which already connects major institutes across the country through high-speed fibre-based broadband connectivity.

Sibal said under the programme, 31000 colleges and 6400 universities will be connected within the next six months.

The meta university also promises a unique opportunity to the country for innovation given the enormous unmet demand for high quality education in an environment of limited resources and availability of a dedicated national network, according to a report of the National Innovation Council released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year.

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US indicts Swiss bank on tax charges

The US has indicted the oldest bank of Switzerland on charges of conspiracy to hide over USD 1.2 billion

Washington: The US has indicted the oldest bank of Switzerland on charges of conspiracy to hide over USD 1.2 billion ? the first time ever that a foreign bank has been charged here for facilitating tax fraud by American taxpayers reports PTI

The US move comes at a time when a country like India is struggling to how to address the issue of billions of black money stashed in various Swiss banks.

The Justice Department yesterday announced that it has also seized more than USD 16 million from Wegelin & Co's correspondent bank account in the US, in accordance with a civil forfeiture complaint and seizure warrant.

Wegelin, founded in 1741, is Switzerland's oldest bank.

"As alleged, Wegelin Bank aided and abetted US taxpayers who were in flagrant violation of the tax code," said Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

"And they were undeterred by the crystal clear warning they got when they learned that UBS was under investigation for the identical practices," he said.

"Today's indictment makes clear that we will seek to punish not only those US taxpayers who violate the law in an effort to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, but also the individuals and entities who facilitate their crimes," said Preet Bharara, an Indian-American.

From 2002 through 2011, Wegelin, Berlinka, Frei and Keller conspired with various US taxpayers and others to hide the existence of bank accounts held at Wegelin and the income generated in those secret accounts from the IRS, the Justice Department said.

Berlinka, Frei, and Keller, 41, 51 and 47, respectively, reside in Switzerland. They each face a maximum term of five years in prison, a maximum term of three years of supervised release and a fine of the greatest of USD 250,000, or twice the gross gain derived from the offense or twice the gross loss to the victims.

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