India Corner 

It’s official! Bush to visit India in early 2006 

US President George W. Bush along with the First Lady Laura Bush are looking forward to their India visit in early 2006 as relations between the two countries are “poised for a very significant advance in the coming months.”

“It was conveyed to me that President Bush and the First Lady are very much looking forward to the forthcoming visit to India,” Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told reporters at the end of his two-day official visit to the US.

“I, in turn assured the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and my interlocutor at the State Department, Nicholas Burns that a very warm welcome awaits President Bush in India and that we would like this visit not only to be a demonstration of the transformation which has taken place in India-US relations during the past year but would also have a lot of substance in that relationship.”

Saran had a hectic schedule in Washington with his meetings spread over at the Departments of State, Defence, Commerce, Energy and Capitol Hill.

“It was a very crowded agenda... And I go back very satisifed with the progress that has been achieved in the relationship between the two countries. We have achieved considerable advance in terms of the implementation of the various understandings which were reached on July 18 and I believe we have a very good foundation for taking our relations to a much higher level,” Saran remarked.

Taxmen eye Irfan’s booty

Nothing could be a greater let-down: Just when the Indian cricketers thought that the game was going exactly according to plan, there’s been a small surprise - a rather unpleasant one. While the Indian cricket board has doubled the amount of retainership for three cricketing grades, with the senior pros earning up to Rs 1 crore, the tax authorities have decided to extract their pound of flesh. 

Not just cricketers, the tax guys are planning to bring football and hockey players, shooters, athletes and other sportspersons into the withholding tax net as well. Withholding tax is the tax to be deducted at source on payments - match fees - made to these players.

Delhi dozers to slow down but won’t stop 

The Delhi government may have found its strongest possible reason to move the High Court over the demolition drive against unauthorised constructions.

The government, which will seek a stay order, is likely to ask the court for time to change the existing laws, the violation of which led to the demolition drive. It believes two points will come handy to push for time: the government’s promise to implement the Malhotra Committee Report — that allows extra floor area ratio (FAR) — and the implementation of the Master Plan 2021 soon. FAR is the permitted construction on a particular plot.

Till relief comes from the court, it has been decided that the MCD will not take action against occupied residential units. Only big commercial establishments, having rampant illegal constructions, would be targeted.

Indians beat world in cyber shopping 

Dwellers of the world wide web in India are now making more purchases online than the global average. Airline tickets have become the number one item on the shopping list, with over one-third of online Indians buying their tickets online. 

A recent study by ACNielsen, covering 38 markets and over 21,100 respondents across the globe has revealed that more Indians are taking to shopping online. 

Considering that net savvy people are still a minority in India, this is a revelation. At last count, India had close to 40m or just 4% of the total population using Internet.