Sunday, January 09, 2005


President Kalam throws a challenge at NRIs

President Kalam moots Overseas Indian Research Foundation

Mumbai, Jan 9 (UNI) President A P J Abdul Kalam today urgedNon-Resident Indians (NRIs) to set up an Overseas Indian ResearchFoundation (OISF) with a seed capital of 100 million dollars toundertake research in challenging areas, including predictionof earthquakes. Addressing the concluding function of the third Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, the President said natural disasters hitdifferent parts of the world every year and called uponoverseas Indians to join together in launching the Foundation.

Dr Kalam said the Foundation has to identify institutions of excellence and able researchers and provide them with theresources and infrastructure to carry out research. Results could take some time in coming, particularly in the area of earthquake prediction, he said, adding, however, thatthe step would make the whole planet a better place to live. ''Will you take up this challenge,'' the President asked the hugegathering of overseas Indians at the National Centre for PerformingArts (NCPA) auditorium here this evening and added ''you will beremembered for this great initiative by the whole world community.''

The President also gave away the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards on the occasion. In his message to over 20 million overseas Indians, Dr Kalam said''wherever you are, which ever country you live, enrich that nation with sweat, knowledge and dignity since you belong to a country of that tradition.'' ''At the same time, remember that we have a common umbilical connectivity to our motherland, India,'' the President added. In this world where connectivity--physical and electronic-- has become affordable, cultural connectivity becomes crucial to make aborderless India, he said. ''If the combined knowledge power and hence the economic powerof is large, our voice will influence the world forums forbetter world,'' he told the large gathering of overseas Indians. He said India was recording sound economic growth and has becomean enviable home for the best talents in several fields includingScience and Technology. The President conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awards upon M Arunachalam (Hong Kong), Amina Cachalia and Mr Ahmed Katrada(SouthAfrica), Sir (Dr) J K Chande (Tanzania), Prof Alokeranjan Dasgupta(Germany), Sam Pitroda and Prof Sunil Khilnani(US), Basdeo Pande(Trinidad & Tobago), Lord Bhiku Chhotelal Parekh(UK), Dr Sant SinghVirmani (Phillipines) and Yusufali M A (UAE). Four other awardeescould not not make it to the function. He called upon the Indian Diaspora to consider establishing''PURAs'' (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) since thenation faced huge challenges.

Dr Kalam said, ''Since many of you have belonged to rural India,you may think of a mission to impart knowledge and experience bysetting up many PURAs.'' Other areas of interest could be the establishment of mobilehospitals in village complexes, generation of bio-fuel through''Jatropha'' plantation, providing quality education throughuniversal tele-education system, and improving the environment andsanitation systems in the rural areas, the President said. Maharashtra Governor S M Krishna lauded Prime MinisterManmohan Singh for creating the Ministry of Overseas Indians whichis headed by Mr Jagdish Tytler.


Disaster should not fade from our minds: EU Parliament Member Nina Gill

Mumbai, Jan 8: The tsunami disaster has been a matter of great concern for India-born member of the European Parliament and chairperson of the European Parliament delegation for Southeast Asia and SAARC, Nina Gill.After visiting Chennai, Gill is in Mumbai attending the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2005, spreading the message that all People of Indian Origin must contribute to sustain the relief and rehabilitation measures being undertaken in the country.

Commenting on alleged discrimination against Dalits in rehabilitation camps in Tamil Nadu, she said on Saturday, "I will certainly look in to this issue. This kind of treatment from any quarter will not be tolerated. We will definitely look into the issue and ensure that all are treated equally. It is also important to emotionally help the trauma stricken people. Coastal people who depend on the sea for their livelihood are now scared of venturing into the ocean. They are yet to come to terms with the reality". They should have more access to information, she says."The disaster should not fade from our minds as time passes by.

The biggest challenge now is to provide the trauma-stricken people relief and care," she says.Nina said her top priority would be to brief the European Parliament about the situation in India, debate the issue in the parliament and coordinate plans to speed up the rehabilitation process. Aid has been pouring in for tsunami victims from all quarters.The EU has already pledged $30 million and is coordinating relief work through agencies like UNICEF and UNDP."Our initiative will be to generate more funds and constructive help for the affected countries. We are hoping to generate funds to the tune of $ 100 million for rehabilitation," she said."

Germany has made a significant contribution of $ 680 million and I hope we can generate more funds to fully restore normalcy in the affected areas."Gill had a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the PBD opening session on Friday and apprised him about the situation. "India should have a strong national policy to deal with such crises. The government should have long-term plans for all the affected states. The situation should be dealt by deploying more skills, know-how and strategic information, says Gill.


Saturday, January 08, 2005


Continental AG sets an Example

Indian corporations need to take a look at how they can make their contributions more effective, the way Continental AG has done....

Continental AG donates 500,000 dollars for tsunami victims
Hanover, January 3, 2005. Continental AG, Hanover, is contributing 500,000 dollars for the tsunami victims in Asia. The international automotive supplier is working together with aid organizations to determine whether a portion of this amount should be donated in the form of material resources, the corporation announced on Monday. One possibility for instance would be to provide portable 300,000 liter fuel tanks made by ContiTech AG for use in the crisis region. Tires for off-road vehicles or trucks from the Continental production in Malaysia could also be contributed. In addition, the company is asking its employees throughout the world to also contribute to the public fundraising campaigns for the victims.


Friday, January 07, 2005


Tsunami Impact: Aid falling behind pledges?

TSUNAMI IMPACT:UN, Relief Groups Fear Aid Falling Behind Pledges

Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 3 (IPS) - The United Nations -- along with international aid agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) -- is expressing scepticism over the eventual delivery of the hefty 2.5 billion dollars in pledges made by donors for tsunami disaster relief operations in south and southeast Asia. Asked if governments could falter on their pledges, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters Monday: ”If we go by past history, yes, I do have concerns.” ”We have got lots of pledges (totalling) over 2.5 billion dollars but it is quite likely that, at the end of the day, we will not receive all of it,” he added. Annan specifically cited the example of the Bam earthquake in Iran in December 2003, where funds received fell short of promises made by the international community. ”And we have (other) similar experiences,” he added. Iranian President Mohammed Khatami complained last year that of the 32 million dollars in pledges, only about 17 million dollars have actually been disbursed so far. In an editorial last week, the New York Times said that victims of the Bam earthquake a year ago ”are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialised in the amounts pledged.” Annan admitted that ”not all the money that was pledged for the Iran crisis has been disbursed.” ”I hope that this time, as the international community is really aware, (and as) everyone is involved, we will fulfill our promises.” As of Monday, both donors and international financial institutions pledged over 2.5 billion dollars in assistance -- both for emergency relief operations and for reconstruction in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster which devastated parts of south and southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. Of the 36 donors, the top five are Japan (500 million dollars), the United States (350 million), the World Bank (250 million), Britain (96 million) and Sweden (75.5 million). ”Governments must not only pledge immediate aid for the millions of victims of the tsunami. They must deliver it before it is too late,” Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, told IPS. ”And they must support people rebuilding their lives after the cameras have gone. Like all the people in the humanitarian crises that never hit our TV screens, they need the continued, not just fleeting, generosity, of rich governments,” he added. Offenheiser said that people and corporations around the world have reacted ”incredibly quickly” to the devastation, and given very generously. ”We have never seen such a response. It is now vital that the aid gets through quickly and that the world does not forget survivors faced with the long-term task of rebuilding their lives,” he added. Oxfam also urged donor governments to give long-term aid to the millions who will be faced with the mammoth task of rebuilding their homes, businesses and communities. The international aid agency also warned that massive attention for a short time does not necessarily produce generous support from donor governments. According to Oxfam, most donor governments have ”very short attention spans” on their pledges. The ”flash appeal” in response to Iran's earthquake 12 months ago was only 54 percent funded (32 million dollars requested, only 17 million given). A series of similar appeals for disasters that hit Haiti from March to September 2004 was only 36 percent funded (only 13 million dollars received of the 37 million dollars requested). Similarly, Offenheiser said, ”relative generosity in one year does not guarantee that donor governments will remain interested”. Afghanistan's 2002 appeal was 67 percent funded, immediately after the rigidly Islamic Taliban government was overthrown. Two years later, its ”drought appeal” for 2004 was only 36 percent funded (26 million dollars of the 73 million requested). But donor governments' generosity has also been influenced by political factors-- specifically in the aftermath of the U.S.-led military attack on Iraq and the separatist insurgency in Russia's Chechnya province. Iraq and Chechnya's 2003 appeals were both 91 percent funded, while Cote d'Ivoire only received 54 percent, Liberia 45 percent in 2003, and Mozambique only 15 percent of what was requested. ”This added up to 40 dollars in aid for each beneficiary in Chechnya, and 40 cents in Mozambique,” Offenheiser said. At the March 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, U.S. President George W. Bush announced the creation of a Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) that will ”reward (developing) nations that root out corruption, respect human rights, and adhere to the rule of law... invest in better heath care, better schools and broader immunisation.” The United States selected 16 countries -- including Armenia, Benin, Honduras, Mongolia, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu -- as eligible to apply for U.S. development assistance. But since the creation of the MCA in 2002, ”the account is yet to disperse a single dollar,” the Times said in its editorial last week. Saradha Iyer of the Malaysia-based Third World Network, one of the leading NGOs in the field of development, points out that the Bush administration had promised to donate 1.7 billion dollars the first year of the MCA, 3.3 billion dollars in the second, and 5.0 billion dollars in the third year. Citing a report in the New York Times on Christmas Eve 2004, Iyer said the Bush administration did not even ask Congress for the full 1.7 billion dollars in the first year. In the second year it asked for 1.3 billion dollars and got just 1.0 billion dollars. The next year the administration asked for 2.5 billion dollars and got 1.5 billion dollars. ”The worse thing of all is that the Millennium Challenge Account has not dispersed a single dollar yet,” Iyer told IPS. Hopefully, she said, ”last week's earth-shaking, coastline-altering, community-devouring quake and tsunami will change all this -- and more”. Jan Egeland, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, raised a hornet's nest last week by accusing rich nations of being ”stingy” because most of them have failed to meet the U.N. target of 0.7 percent of gross national product (GNP) as official development assistance (ODA) to the world's poorer nations. The United States took strong exception to his criticism even though he did not identify any countries by name. ”The United States has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world,” Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters. Although in dollar terms the United States is high on the list of aid donors, it falls far behind if measured in terms of the country's national income. Iyer said that the United States gave 2.0 percent of its national income to rebuild Europe after World War II. Today, the percentage of U.S. income going to poor countries remains at 0.14 percent, Britain's is at 0.34 percent and France 0.41 percent. Only five countries have consistently met-- and gone beyond-- the 0.7 target which was set by the U.N. General Assembly in 1970. The five countries are Denmark (1.06 percent), Netherlands (0.82 percent), Sweden (0.81 percent), Norway (0.80 percent) and Luxembourg (0.7 percent). ”The percentage of national incomes given to poor has always been the test of generosity of nations but countries have consistently failed to match promises with action,” Iyer said. ”Now the reality is that unless much higher percentages of national incomes are actually earmarked for rebuilding and reconstruction, there is going to be no promise of any future for the vast majority of humankind,” she added. ”Nature's blow must also force us to see the war on terror in some new light as well. Is spending 450 billion dollars annually on the (U.S.) military and 15 billion dollars on development assistance -- a ratio of 30:1 -- any longer justified?” she asked. (END/2005)

Saturday, January 01, 2005


CII gets into action mode

WHAT CII and its Members Are DOING

The Confederation of Indian industry (CII), in close consultation with the government has got down to work, reaching out to the people affected. It is mobilizing food, clothing, housing materials & medical supples. Supplementing Central & State Governments efforts, CII is also organizing electricity & water supply, warehousing facilities, transport, logistics & communications in the worst affected areas. CII would also assist volunteers who wish to help with relief work.

CII has set up centers across the country, to raise funds as well as collect material. The Money and material collect materials. The money and material collected will be used for immediate relief and specific rehabilitation programmes with clear milestones. In this Undertaking, CII will also bring to bear its experience in rehabilitation work completed in Kutch after the Gujarat earthquake of 2001. CII will encourage and facilitate visits by donors to project sites.

Contribution from members
Four water treatment plants for A&N from Pentair
Water supply from Pepsi
Water tanks being provided from Patton, Sintex
Generators from Wartsila, Cummins
Medicines from Dr. Reddys, Panacea Biotec, Sun Pharma, BDH, Astra Zeneca, Orchid Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly, Dr Reddy's, Apollo. Nicholas Piramal has routed their medicines to the PMO
Syringes from Becton Dickinson
Doctors from Escorts hospital to be stationed both at Myladuthurai and in Nagapattinam

Materials collected as donation
1) Clothes2) Utensils (both are being couriered to our Chennai office)3) Money from employees of CII4) Volunteers from CII staff are helping out in Nagapattinam and other districts. More are being sent.

Tsunami Relief Work at ANDHRA PRADESH
Relief Activity: Clothes, Bedsheets, Blankets & Utensils
CII AP has set up 22 collection centres at Foodworld Supermarkets in Hyderabad & Secunderabad. The relief materials would be stored at the GATI Warehouse facility at Hyderabad and would then be disbursed to the Disaster Management Centre of AP Govt at Hyderabad, for onward delivery to effected areas.

GTN Textiles is arranging for supply of cloths to affected people in various districts.

Tsunami Relief Work at KERALA
Relief Activity
At Kochi, Quilon, Alapuzha: Elite Foods sponsored Bread/ Biscuits to 4 relief camps at Cochin from 27-29th. Apart from Elite foods, supply of bread/ biscuits, Kerala Minerals & Metals supplied mid-day meals for 3 days. Elite Foods sponsored Bread/ Biscuits to 2 relief camps at from 27-29th. CII - Kerala Office is also extending its support in sending relief materials to Kanyakumari District

Water: Eastern Foods & Pepsi supplied water thru tanker lorries at relief camps
Clothes: Coordinating with Kettex, a unit of Anna Aluminium Ltd to supply Mats & Bedding materials
Drugs: Kerala Ayurvedic Pharmacy has sent ayurvedic drugs to Collectorate at Cochin for distribution to various camps

Tsunami Relief Work at TAMIL NADU
At Chennai, Naga-patinam, Cudda-lore, Kanya kumari
Food: Supply of Food packets on 28-29 Dec 04 to Govt relief shelters @ Kelamb-akkam
Supply of Food packets on 29,30,31Dec 04 at Govt Relief Shelters at Velan-kanni, Tiruka-daiyur & Sirkazhi
Supply of Food packets on 29, 30, 31 Dec 04 to Mr Jagan-athan, DRDA Officer, Cuddalore
Supply of Food packets on 29, 30,31 Dec 04 at St Anthony's Hr Sec School & St Xavier's Church, Nagercoil
Xansa, Tata Tele-services, Pepsi & other comp--anies are supplying 6000 food packets every day to affected areas at Chennai. Other CII member co.s requested at Pdy, Cudda--lore, Kanya kumari & Tuticorin
Pepsi arranging & supplying water bottles at all four locations from their plants in Chennai and Madurai.

Clothes for Adults, Children, Bed-sheets and Mats
Collection at 27 Food-world outlets from 31 Dec 2004 - 6 Jan 2005
Dispatch to Naga-patinam from 30 Dec 2004
Collection done through Food-world (general public) and from member companies directly. SIFY, Ashok Leyland etc
Cooking utensils
Collection at 27 Food-world outlets from 31 Dec 2004 - 6 Jan 2005
Dispatch to Naga-patinam from 30 Dec 2004

Drugs being received from Nicholas Piramal, Mumbai; Dr Reddys Labs; Hyd and Panacea Biotech, Delhi Dispatch to Naga-patinam from 30 Dec 2004

Establishing a CII Helpline from 30 Dec 2004 @ Chennai - Through a call center
Improving Airtel Connectivity. Providing mobile phones with handlers at relief centers
Airtel Providing mobile phones with handlers at relief centers.

Airtel Providing mobile phones with handlers at relief centers.

Establishment of internet kiosk by SIFY from 30 Dec 2004

20 trucks arranged for transportation for 7 days, across Chennai, Nagapatinam, Cuddalore and Kanyakumari
(5 trucks each being provided by Saint Gobain Glass, Hyundai, Pepsi & HLL )
Ware-housing Centers
2 Warehousing centers at Chennai city would be operational from 30 Dec 2004 - Stella Maris College & Balavidya Mandir School
150 volunteers have been arranged from companies and colleges in Chennai, who would operate the Foodworld collection centers and the 2 warehousing centers at Chennai city from 30 Dec 2004
Promotion Campaign
Advert-isement would appear in The Hindu & Daily Thanthi on 30 Dec 2004
Advert-isement would appear in Daily Malar on 31 Dec 2004
Advertisement designed by JWT would request public to contribute Clothes, Bedsheets, Mats and Utensils to the nearest Foodworld Outlet. It would also inform people of the CII Helpline number
Airtel would send SMS to all their subscribers regarding CII’s initiatives to collect materials at Chennai city via collection centers at food world outlets. (on 30-31 Dec 2004)


Partying for a Cause

Delhi ushered in the New Year. While some celebrations were cancelled, some individuals showed more initiative by organising parties that were aimed at helping the tsunami victims. A group of young professionals in south Delhi decided to welcome 2005 by holding a party where the entry fee (of Rs 500/- per couple) would be donated to the PM's National Relief Fund. 40 couples had a good time, even as they made their own little contribution to the hapless victims. Cheers to that!


The Business of Relief

Relief Is the Business at Hand

By Yuki Noguchi Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, December 31, 2004

After watching television images of death and destruction from Sunday's tsunamis, Abishek Jain kicked into high gear. By 11 a.m. Monday, Jain had incorporated Tsunami Relief Inc. as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The chief executive of venture-capital firm Washington Technology Partners in Fairfax turned his office into the new organization's headquarters. Later that afternoon, he had the firm's Web site ( set up to accept online contributions. "The phones are going off the hook," said Jain, an Indian American with business and personal ties in both India and Sri Lanka, two of the hardest-hit countries. Jain, who owns a plot of land in Sri Lanka and had been there last week, could have easily been among the victims. "I'm manning the phones personally, and I have given out my cell phone number," he said. As for the venture capitalist's business, "I haven't done a lick of work since Sunday night," said Jain, who added that he personally plans to donate thousands of dollars in addition to his time and his firm's space and phone lines. "Sometimes you have to step back and say, 'Where are my priorities?' " Through mailed checks alone, he estimated, the organization had collected $20,000, most of which he plans to send to Sarvodaya, a grass-roots relief organization in Sri Lanka.

As he spoke yesterday, his assistant dropped off a foot-high pile of checks that had just arrived in the mail. He estimated that they added about $10,000 to the pot. Despite employees' holiday absences this week, many Washington area businesses are working to collect money for international efforts to help the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the tsunamis. Some of those rushing to provide aid have personal ties to the areas devastated by the tsunamis while others are simply moved by the plight of the victims.

[Source: Washington Post]


Indians are rising to the occasion

NEW DELHI: Indians are answering en masse a call to help hundreds of thousands of impoverished tsunami survivors, boosting unprecedented government relief efforts extended to neighbouring nations.

In a national appeal on Saturday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the one billion plus population for donations in response to the tragedy which the government said has left at least 12,829 dead or missing in the country. "It is at times like this that the best in us comes out and the human spirit transcends all adversity," he said in a press advertising campaign, urging people to mobilise.

The government has earmarked 10.36 billion rupees (232 million dollars) for immediate assistance to the displaced and long-term rehabilitation, such as building new houses. The Prime Minister's spokesman Sanjay Baru said the government had received two billion rupees (45 million dollars) in the last four or five days.

Hundreds of tonnes of supplies and medicine have been shipped and flown to devastated outlying islands and the southern coast. India's corporate world joined the effort with pledges of cash and materials. Airlines pressed their planes into the evacuation effort and others turned factories into makeshift shelters.

"Our heart goes out to those impacted by this grave tragedy," said Malvinder Mohan Singh, president of Ranbaxy (Pharmaceuticals), India's leading drugmaker.

Employees of private and state-run companies are giving a day's salary, boosting the PM's relief fund by more than a billion rupees (22.5 million dollars).

The official death toll in India reached 8,955 while 3,874 more people were missing and presumed dead, the government said Saturday. Home Ministry figures say more than 11 million people were affected and some 520,000 remained in relief camps at the weekend.

The sporting world also rallied to help with Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly fronting a fund-raising drive and his team promising to fork out a day's earnings. In coming weeks, an Asian team will play the rest of the world in Australia and then on the sub-continent to raise tsunami funds.

The ATP, governing body of the international men's professional tennis circuit, will donate the 25,000-dollar sanction fee for this week's Chennai (Madras) tournament. India's doubles tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi and Swedish partner Jonas Bjorkman, top seeds for the tournament, said they would also donate their prize money. Voluntary group Child Relief and You is holding India's first telethon in which two dozen Bollywood stars will participate.

[source: AFP, Times News Network, 1 January 2005]


Techies to the rescue

Techies join relief work in Tamil Nadu

PTI[ SATURDAY, JANUARY 01, 05]Times News Network

PORAYAR: Several groups of young software engineers from Bangalore and Chennai have arrived at various parts of Nagapattinam district to carry out relief operations. They have brought generous contributions of their fellow employees and are personally doing their bit for the affected people. Eight young men working in top software companies in Bangalore were seen enquiring from the victims about their needs. Senthil Kumar, a member of that group said that several such groups from Chennai and Bangalore had already arrived at Nagapattinam. Professionals, both men and women from software companies like Wipro, Infosys, Accenture, AdventNet, Xerago arrived on Friday night. They had done a lot of homework before deciding to plunge into relief operations. They had collected details about the places that have been worst-hit and have the list of worst-hit villages with them. They had also consulted many service organisations who had offered their services in Gujarat during the earthquake. With all these inputs, they were armed with statistics regarding the magnitude of devastation. Without any desire for any publicity, they are silently carrying out their work. Bankers, architects and media professional are also joining these teams on Saturday.


Maruti Udyog Ltd spreads the good word

Maruti Udyog was among the first company to announce a contribution for Tsunami victims (Rs. 1 Crore + employees' one days salary). I also used my network to spread the work. Our MD appealed to all our associates and other corporate to come forward for this cause - and I am sure help is pouring in.

Arun Arora, Maruti Udyog

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Some in India Inc respond...



Is Corporate India Being Stingy in Helping Tsunami Victims

How come Corporate India's contribution towards those affected by the tsunami in south India has been so stingy? Anil Ambani's personal contribution is of Rs 1 crore but how come Reliance (the richest company in India) has not announced a contribution? Infosys' Rs 5 crore, ITC's Rs 3 crore, Bajaj Auto's Rs 2 crore, LG Electronics' Rs 35 lakhs are only among the few corporates who seem to have been moved by the plight of the tsunami victims in India. PSU's seem to have bigger hearts it seems - with a joint contribution of Rs 15 crore...

It's not just about donating tons of cash, every rupee that you can spare counts.
Here's are two examples of how every individual in the corporate world can make a difference

Harish Bijoor, a consultant based in Bangalore sent out an email 600 corporate folks on his addressbook. All he asked from them were utensils (new) and clothes (new). 12 reverted with handsome donations. 1 lorry left for Cuddalore on 31st morning, and hehopes to send another lorry by evening if he can fill it. A local cable manufacturer paid for a full load of 500 ml sachets of water which went to Velankini.

Another Mumbai-based consultant, Pradeep Narasimha, along with his employees and colleagues contributed 2 days salary and sent a draft of Rs 22000/- to the PM's National Relief Fund.

Employees of O&M, the advertising agency have donated a day's salary + an equal contribution from the agency.

Let's share some experiences and examples of how we can do a tiny bit to help the victims of this huge tragedy. Let's open our hearts. If nothing at least let's mail this appeal to all our associates, colleagues, friends in the corporate world.

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