Stocks fall, heads roll in Mumbai
Gopi is game, age permitting
Rebel strike at Laloo raj roots
Calcutta Weather

Mumbai, March 12: 
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) tonight stunned the markets by barring officiating president Deena Mehta and six others from acting as directors of the Bombay Stock Exchange’s governing board until further notice. The dramatic clampdown came as the markets were licking the wounds of a gut-wrenching day that saw stocks tumbling from Mumbai to Tokyo to New York.

This is the first time that the capital market regulator has taken such a punitive step against broker-directors of the 125-year-old bourse.

Sebi also suspended the four firms of former BSE president Anand Rathi from undertaking any fresh business as a broker until further notice. “Tomorrow, we will name our representative who will take over from them,” Sebi executive director Pratip Kar told The Telegraph.

The market watchdog said the decision had been taken in the interests of investors and the orderly development of the securities market in India.

The directors who have been restrained by Sebi until further notice are Anand Rathi, who quit as a president but not as a director on March 8, Deena Mehta, Himanshu N. Kaji (honorary treasurer), Jayesh K. Sheth, Kirit B. Shah, Motilal Oswal, and Niranjan K. Nanavati. The BSE board has 18 directors, including seven broker-members.

The misery of the markets started multiplying during the day as stocks were sucked into a bottomless vortex, sending the 30-scrip BSE sensitive index skidding to a four-month low at 3767.89, a fall of 114.07 points.

Sources said while the downside was partly due to the huge fall in Nasdaq over the weekend, fears now abound that the payment problem that hit Calcutta last week may erupt on the National Stock Exchange tomorrow.

A fresh fall in the world markets will also dampen the mood. In mid-morning trading, technology stock bellwether, the Nasdaq Composite Index, had fallen below the 2,000-mark for the first time in three years while Tokyo’s benchmark index had crashed to a 16-year low.

The sudden action by Sebi has been attributed to heat from the Union finance ministry which has been under pressure in Parliament to explain the 10-day roller-coaster on the markets. A crucial debate on the issue begins in the House tomorrow.

Rathi has been at the centre of a storm ever since the meltdown on Black Friday (March 2) when a bear cartel hammered stocks in the last half-hour of trading and sent the skittish markets into a spin.The former BSE president has been accused of misusing his position to gain access to information and passing it on to the bear cartel.

Yesterday, Sebi chairman D.R. Mehta had a three-hour meeting with finance minister Yashwant Sinha to discuss a “fact sheet” before the debate in Parliament. Deena Mehta today had a meeting with Sinha in Delhi to brief him about the situation in the capital market.


New Delhi, March 12: 
Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu wants to put Pullela Gopichand in the Upper House of Parliament, but what the All England badminton champion would wish most is to stay at the top having got there.

His next targets will be the World Grand Prix finals in Brunei at the end of the month followed by the world championships in Seville in June.

Beating big names has not been new to the quiet, thoughtful 27-year-old from Hyderabad, but until yesterday he had no big titles under his belt.

“He has now broken the ice,” said Mohammed Arif, who has coached the champion after spotting his talent at the age of 11 and watches his progress with a hawk-eye.

Before the All England victory, in the course of which he beat almost every top player, Gopichand had been thought of as a ready winner of minor events such as the Scottish and Toulouse titles: no more than a member of the last 16 in big tournaments.

After yesterday, the question — posed by Arif himself — will be “how long can he remain on top?”

Age is not on his side. At 27, he’s already too old for his competitors like the Chinese Chen Hong, whom he beat in the final, and Olympic champion Ji Xinpeng and world No. 1 Peter Gade, who fell to Gopichand in the quarters and semis. All three are in their early twenties. His guru, Prakash Padukone, had won the All England in 1980 at the age of 25.

Along with this, in three weeks of magical run, Padukone also collected two other important titles — the Danish and Swedish championships — to be crowned the world champion.

Even though Gopichand has won the Wimbledon of badminton, officially he’s still not recognised as world No. 1. Before All England his seeding was 6.

Arif believes Gopichand now has the game and the stamina to hold the top spot.

“I’ve beaten most of the top players at one time or another. Now I’ve improved on a few things... so overall I feel more confident as a player,” Gopichand said after winning.

“Stamina and defence were his weak points earlier. With endurance training, he has improved his stamina. This was evident in this tournament where he outpaced everybody,” Arif said.

Gopichand acknowledges these drawbacks. “We’ve really worked to get my defence better — and my training programmes,” he said.

Arif still sees a soft spot on his backhand side, particularly when he is coping with deep cross-court smashes. “He has got to be more positive on his backhand,” the coach added.

The proposed change in the format of the game from June should go in Gopichand’s favour as it will possibly make less demand on endurance, and more on power and speed, which he already possesses.

Instead of the current system of best of three games of 15 points each, the new format will be best of five of seven points each. The rest period after every game will be one and a half minutes. Now, two games have to be played without a break.

Back home in Hyderabad, Gopichand’s neighbours were not waiting to see if their boy was good enough to stay at the top. They celebrated a second holi last night with gulal and jalebis. “We have seen him grow to such height, step by step. We are proud of him,” said Col. Vijay Kumar.

In Chennai, his parents were sore in the throat answering congratulatory calls. “I knew my son will become great one day. God has made it possible at the age of 27 itself,” said mother Subbaramma.

Father P. Subhaschandra Bose said: “He would have won the title much earlier had he got good guidance. I am not finding fault with the present arrangement, but when I look at what the European and Chinese players get I realise what my son got is a pittance.”


Patna, March 12: 
Dealing Laloo Yadav the severest blow since the campaign began for a change at the top, finance minister Shankar Prasad Tekriwal today resigned from the Bihar Cabinet and agreed to support the spearhead of the rebellion, Ranjan Yadav.

Tekriwal’s resignation, to press the demand for Rabri Devi’s ouster, came two hours before Laloo addressed a meeting of the RJD legislature party at the chief minister’s residence.

Barring about 15 legislators and five ministers, most party MLAs were present at the meeting. Apart from Tekriwal, those who stayed away included Ramai Ram, Monazir Hossain and Shakil Ahmed Khan.

Announcing his resignation 15 minutes after replying to the Assembly debate on the budget, Tekriwal said: “For the past 11 years, the tree of Bihar’s leadership, under which we gathered and expressed loyalty to, failed to bear the fruit of development. We are in search of a new tree which can bear fruits.”

Asked if the “new tree” was Ranjan Yadav, Tekriwal said: “Dr (Ranjan) Yadav has proved his acumen as a development oriented leader. During the past 10 years, he has built many roads from his Rajya Sabha fund. If he comes forward, he will be totally acceptable as leader.” Ranjan, the RJD’s working president, will reach Patna tomorrow.

The finance minister said he had sent in his resignation to both Governor Vinod Pande and Rabri.

Though not quite ready to follow Laloo as leader any further, the minister took a cue from his party chief and invoked William Shakespeare.

Alleging that he had received anonymous death threats over phone at least thrice, Tekriwal, quoting Julius Caesar, said he decided not to be bullied into submission “as I feel that the brave die once in a lifetime, but cowards die everyday”. Laloo had yesterday dubbed Ranjan as the “Brutus reincarnate”.

Though Tekriwal is the first rebel to quit the ministry, more trouble could be in store for Laloo. Jagatanand Singh, water resources minister, and Md Taslimuddin, in charge of roads construction, were absent from the House today. Both are demanding Rabri’s resignation.

At the legislature party meeting, the MLAs authorised the chief minister to take appropriate action against the rebels. Laloo, however, said he would not take any punitive steps. “Those who want to quit are free to do so, but those who will stay back will rule,” he said.

The dissident camp said the presence of so many MLAs at the meeting was not any indication that “the rebels have regained faith in Laloo”. A source said many rebel MLAs had deliberately attended the meet to keep their moves secret.




Maximum: 35.3°C (+1)
Minimum: 20.3°C (-1)



Relative humidity

Maximum: 96%,
Minimum: 26%


Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperatures likely to be around 35°C and 20°C, respectively
Sunrise: 5.52 am
Sunset: 5.40 pm

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