Business en Tue Dec 15 15:14:23 IST 2020 ey-to-hire-9000-professionals-in-2021-in-various-technology-roles <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Global professional services organisation Ernst &amp; Young Services on Thursday said it will hire about 9,000 new workforces in India in 2021, in various technology roles across all member firms.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These hires will be from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) background and in areas including artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber security, analytics and other emerging technologies, EY said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Today, our clients, both in government and private businesses, are embarking on technology-led transformation and we are supporting them in this journey. With the pace of digital adoption accelerating exponentially, we are strengthening capabilities in emerging technology roles and significantly intensifying our hiring efforts in the coming year," EY India Partner and Consulting Practice Leader Rohan Sachdev said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>EY in India has over 50,000 people working in all member firms including global delivery centers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently, 36 per cent of all EY India employees are from the STEM background.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We are developing a broader range of new digital proprietary tools and solutions which we are looking to take to scale across organisations and geographies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We are using our sector knowledge to deliver tailored digital solutions and services to support our clients' transformation plans and leveraging the managed services model to help them navigate the volatility. Our people remain at the center of our strategy to meet the growing demands of our clients," EY India Partner and Technology Consulting Leader Mahesh Makhija added.</p> Thu Dec 24 14:14:45 IST 2020 from-fastag-to-whatsapp-usage-here-is-how-your-life-will-change-from-January-2021 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>From a global pandemic to extended lockdowns, economic suffering and human loss, 2020 has been a year to forget for all of us. As we look to the upcoming New Year with expectations, changes are inevitable. From January 1, 2021, a lot of important day-to-day shifts—from car prices to FASTag rules and landline usage—are expected. Here is a list of what you need to look out for:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>1. Mandatory FASTags</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Having amended the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, mandatory FASTags for four-wheelers and M&amp;N category of vehicles sold before December 1, 2017 will come into effect from January 1, 2021. FASTag, in essence, allows for the automatic deduction of toll charges at a toll plaza, and there will be no more need for cash transaction. The Union ministry of road transport had issued a notification on the same. All the available mode of recharges such as debit card, credit card, net banking and Unified Payments Interface have been enabled for loading money to the FASTag account. A customer may call on the helpline number, '1033', for any assistance related to FASTags, and they can also reach out to the banks to obtain FASTags.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>2. Add prefix '0' for calls from landline to mobile phones</b> &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From January, callers will have to dial numbers with prefix '0' for making calls from landline to mobile phone. Announcing the decision, the communications ministry said the move would free up sufficient numbering resources for future use, and nearly 2,539 million numbering series are expected to be generated as a result. There will be no change with respect to dialling numbers for fixed-to fixed, mobile-to-fixed, and mobile-to-mobile calls. &quot;All fixed to mobile calls will be dialled with prefix '0' from 15 January, 2021,&quot; a statement from the ministry said. Suitable announcement would be fed in the fixed line switches for the same. &quot;This announcement shall be played whenever a subscriber dials a fixed to mobile call without prefixing '0',&quot; it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>3. RBI fillip to contactless card transactions</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>In a bid to give a push to digital payments, the Reserve Bank on Friday announced a slew of measures including enhancing the limit for contactless card transactions to Rs 5,000 and making RTGS transaction facility available round the clock. The RBI has also decided to grant licence to entities operating payments systems on a perpetual basis, and permitted companies to reapply for licence after one year of rejection of their application or revocation of their licence.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>4. WhatsApp could stop working on select phones</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>From January 1, 2021, Facebook-owned messaging application WhatsApp could stop working on select mobile phone systems. According to multiple reports, WhatsApp could work best on the above systems: Android OS 4.0.3 and higher, iPhone iOS 9 and higher, some systems running KaiOS 2.5.1 or higher, including JioPhone and JioPhone 2.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>5. 'Positive' cheque payment system</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Come new year, a new system will be in place for cheques under which reconfirmation of key details may be needed for payments beyond Rs 50,000. The 'positive pay system' for cheques was announced by the Reserve Bank of India in September to check banking fraud and is all set for implementation from January 1, 2021. The concept of 'positive pay' involves a process of reconfirming key details of large value cheques. Under this process, the issuer of the cheque submits electronically, through channels like SMS, mobile app, internet banking, ATM, etc, certain minimum details of that cheque (like date, name of the beneficiary/payee, amount, etc) to the drawee bank, details of which are cross-checked with the presented cheque by Cheque Truncation System (CTS). Any discrepancy is flagged by CTS to the drawee bank and presenting bank, who would take redressal measures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>6. Car and two-wheeler price hikes</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Come January 2021, to offset increasing manufacturing costs, car companies like Maruti Suzuki, MG Motor India, Renault, Mahindra &amp; Mahindra, and two-wheeler company Hero MotoCorp, will hike their prices. <i>CNBC</i> reported that MG Motor—which owns three models Hector, ZS EV and Gloster, priced between Rs 12.83 lakh and Rs 35.6 lakh—could hike their prices up by three per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>7. Relief for GST-registered small businesses</b></p> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>The 42nd meeting of the GST Council, chaired by Union finance minister and comprising state counterparts, had eased compliance burden for small taxpayers with an annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore by allowing them to file GST returns on a quarterly basis with monthly tax payments from January 1, 2021. &quot;Such quarterly taxpayers would, for the first two months of the quarter, have an option to pay 35 per cent of the net cash tax liability of the last quarter using an auto-generated challan,&quot; the statement added.</p> Thu Dec 24 12:42:39 IST 2020 India-smartphone-segment-set-to-script-double-digit-growth-story-in-2021 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> When the pandemic forced people to stay indoors, smartphones became their window to the world, helping them stay connected with friends, Work From Home (WFH) and even learn new recipes.<br> <br> And 2021 promises to bring back double-digit growth for the smartphone industry as people embrace hybrid work models, binge on web series and continue the pursuit for the perfect selfie on their six-inch screens.<br> <br> This year has been challenging for the industry right from the beginning as supply chains for components were disrupted amid rising COVID-19 cases in China. Given the heavy reliance of Indian phone and electronics industry on imports from the neighbouring nation, there were apprehensions that stocks would run out, hitting local assembly.<br> <br> By March, there were bigger worries. Rising number of coronavirus cases in India forced the government to impose a nationwide lockdown that barred movement of everything but essential items like food and medicine.<br> <br> However, after the lockdown was eased, the industry saw a never-seen-before level of demand. Shipment in September quarter is estimated to have touched an all-time high of over 50 million units. Pent up demand, coupled with people rushing in to buy devices to ensure continuity of work and studies, saw tech brands literally struggling to keep up.<br> <br> Counterpoint Research Senior Analyst Prachir Singh said that despite losing almost one-and-a-half months to lockdown, there is just a six per cent year-on-year fall in shipment at 148 million units in 2020, reflecting the &quot;resilient nature&quot; of the Indian smartphone market.<br> <br> &quot;In 2021, the Indian smartphone market is estimated to grow at 20 per cent y-o-y. Major reasons for such a high growth will be increased consumer spending as economic activities grow, and aggressive product strategies from top brands,&quot; he said, adding that Jio's anticipated launch of low-cost 4G smartphone with Google could add further momentum.<br> <br> Domestic players like Micromax could also make a strong comeback next year.<br> <br> Xiaomi India Managing Director Manu Jain said the first half of 2020 had multiple challenges like supply constraints, production restrictions and difficulties with on-time delivery that further amplified demand.<br> <br> &quot;Once lockdown restrictions were eased, we started working towards meeting customer demands... quickly ramping up our production capabilities. We also re-visited our marketing strategies, launched formats and business goals that resonated with the 'new normal',&quot; he said.<br> <br> A Samsung India spokesperson said when the pandemic impacted footfalls across retail outlets, it started working on ways for retail partners to leverage digital platforms to serve consumers. It also stepped up efforts to provide affordability solutions across devices like smartphones, tablets and personal computers.<br> <br> Players like Xiaomi and Nokia, through its partnership with Flipkart, forayed into the laptop space this year to compete against giants like HP, Dell Technologies, Lenovo, Acer and Asus.<br> <br> By mid-2020 amid tensions on the Indo-China border, topics like 'Boycott China', 'Go China' and 'Go Chinese Go' started trending online while there were calls for 'vocal for local' and 'Make in India' on the ground.<br> <br> techARC Founder and Chief Analyst Faisal Kawoosa noted that while there were anti-China sentiments, there was an equal urgency to buy smartphones to support WFH and online classes.<br> <br> &quot;Also, people did not want to venture out much to get their exact choice... Other than Samsung, none of the non-Chinese brands was widely available. So, users had to go logically even if their emotions could have been on the other side,&quot; he added.<br> <br> Four of the top five smartphone brands in India are Chinese, with Samsung as the only exception in the tally.<br> <br> The pandemic saw smartphone usage zoom. A study by Vivo found usage going up 25 per cent to almost seven hours a day after the pandemic as people spent more time on their phones working, calling, consuming OTT (Over The Top) services like Netflix and Spotify, gaming, browsing through social media and even taking more selfies.<br> <br> With the help of smartphones, people tried to learn new things, including cooking and gardening.<br> <br> To cater to this burgeoning demand for electronics and to promote local manufacturing, the government unveiled the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme this year.<br> <br> Sixteen proposals -- entailing an investment of Rs 11,000 crore - were cleared, including those from Apple's contract manufacturers Foxconn Hon Hai, Wistron and Pegatron as well as Samsung, Lava and Bhagwati (Micromax). These proposals will see phones worth Rs 10.5 lakh crore being manufactured in India in the next five years.<br> <br> Scaling up manufacturing aggressively brought its own set of challenges too. Taiwan's Wistron, which assembles Apple iPhone SE at its Narasapura plant near Bengaluru, recently saw a section of workers go on a rampage over non-payment of wages. After an investigation, Wistron found faults in its wage payment processes and fired its vice-president who was heading India operations. Wistron has been placed on probation by Apple till corrective actions are completed.<br> <br> CMR Head (Industry Intelligence Group) Prabhu Ram said the issue puts a spotlight on labour policies in India.<br> <br> &quot;Amidst the ongoing supply chain realignments, the government is focused on taking a bigger bite of the manufacturing pie. Going forward, the government will have to redouble its efforts to improve the ease of doing business,&quot; he added.<br> <br> Sales of other &quot;smart&quot; products -- right from TVs to wearables -- have also boomed this year.<br> <br> OnePlus India General Manager Vikas Agarwal said high demand for smart TVs is being driven by rising consumer preference for built-in smart functions in personal devices, sleeker designs, a range of display options, and increasing internet penetration.<br> <br> &quot;On the back of these evolving customer preferences, growing popularity of OTT platforms and robust Internet connectivity, we believe the smart TV market will continue to grow in the near future,&quot; he added.<br> <br> True Wireless Stereo (or earbuds) witnessed a growth of over 700 per cent in the number of units shipped, while wearables like smartwatches and smartbands have surpassed pre-COVID levels after an initial impact because of lockdown.<br> <br> According to Samsung, 2021 will see three key trends -- 5G going mainstream, foldable devices gaining more traction, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) redefining parameters of what phones can do.<br> <br> &quot;We'll focus on how we can bring 5G technology at more affordable price points and how we can bring high-end experiences more for the masses,&quot; HMD Global Vice President Sanmeet Singh Kochhar said.<br> <br> This year saw Xiaomi and Samsung jostling for the top spot in the smartphone market while Vivo, Realme and Oppo occupied the next three positions. OnePlus, Samsung and Apple wooed customers with their premium portfolio.<br> <br> The pecking order in 2021 may be anyone's guess but customers can surely expect sleeker, more powerful and stunning devices in their hands. Thu Dec 24 12:26:52 IST 2020 cabinet-approves-revised-dth-guidelines-license-for-20-years-100-fdi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved revision in guidelines for providing direct to home (DTH) services in the country under whichlicenses would be issued for 20 years, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said. The Union Cabinet has also approved 100 per cent FDI in the DTH broadcasting services sector, Javadekar said, adding that while the Commerce Ministry had spoken of 100 per cent FDI in the DTH sector, the guidelines of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry needed to be changed.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>In India, more than six crore houses get DTH services. The commerce ministry had earlier decided 100 per cent FDI in DTH services but due to Information and Broadcasting Ministry's guidelines, the DTH services could not get that benefit. The new guidelines will be in sync with the commerce ministry's guidelines," the minister of information and broadcasting said at a press briefing.&nbsp;</p> <p>Till now, as per our guidelines, the FDI cap was limited to 49 per cent only but now it will be 100 per cent. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been consulted regarding the same. DTH services will also get licence for 20 years and renewal will be every 10 years, he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the new revised guidelines for DTH services, the cap of 49 per cent FDl in the existing DTH guidelines will be aligned with the extant government (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) policy on FDl as amended from time to time.<br> </p> <p>It said the license fee will be collected on quarterly basis in lieu of presently annual basis.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Welcoming the new guidelines, leading DTH player Tata Sky said the government's decision to grant licences to the operators for 20 years would provide certainty to the industry.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Currently, the licence is valid for 10 years for DTH players.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>"We are grateful to (Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash) Javadekar, for resolving the long-standing impasse on the DTH Licence policy which will provide certainty to the industry," Tata Sky Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Harit Nagpal told PTI.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, he also said the DTH industry is looking at a level-playing field with the parity of licence fee with cable TV.&nbsp;</p> <p>"We look forward to a level-playing field via parity of the licence fee with cable TV, which is also licensed by (the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) and follows the same prices and margins as regulated by Trai's NTO (new tariff order)," he said.<br> </p> <p>As per the guidelines, the license fee has been revised from 10 per cent of gross revenue (GR) to eight per cent of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) which will be calculated by deduction of GST from GR, it said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The proposed reduction is intended to align the license fee regime applicable to the telecom sector and will be prospectively applied. The difference may also enable DTH service providers to invest for more coverage leading to increased operations and higher growth and thereby enhanced and regular payment of License Fee by them, the guidelines said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>It said the registration fee for platform services is likely to bring a revenue of approximately Rs 12 lakh.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The amended DTH guidelines, with longer license period and clarity on renewals, relaxed FDI limits, etc. will ensure fair degree of stability and new investments in the DTH sector along with employment opportunities, the ministry said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>According to the new guidelines, DTH operators shall be permitted to operate to a maximum of five per cent of its total channel carrying capacity as permitted platform channels.<br> </p> <p>A one-time non-refundable registration fee of Rs 10,000 per PS (platform service) channel shall be charged from a DTH operator, it said. The guidelines also allowed sharing of infrastructure between DTH operators.</p> <p>DTH operators, willing to share DTH platforms and transport streams of TV channels, on a voluntary basis, will be allowed. Distributors of TV channels will be permitted to share the common hardware for their Subscriber Management System (SMS) and Conditional Access System (CAS) applications, it said.</p> <p>Sharing of infrastructure by the DTH operators may bring in more efficient use of scarce satellite resources and reduce the costs borne by the consumers. Adoption of the extant FDI policy will bring in more foreign investment into the country, it said.<br> </p> Wed Dec 23 21:27:14 IST 2020 large-deal-wins-by-infosys-and-wipro-bode-well-for-indian-it-services-industry <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The two large deals won by Infosys and Wipro augurs well for the Indian IT services industry as the deal pipeline expands in scale.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Infosys won a $3.2 billion deal from the German automotive manufacturer Daimler AG wherein it would help the company to transform its IT operating model and infrastructure landscape across workplace services, service desk, data centres and networks. On the other hand, Wipro won a multi-million dollar deal ($700 million) with the German wholesale firm Metro AG. More than 1,300 employees across Germany, Romania and India will transfer to Wipro as part of the deal. Though the deal pipeline for Indian IT services firms was already strong in June and July, it is now converting into transformational large scale deals.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Large Indian IT services companies such as the Infosys and Wipro have the required bandwidth and strength to scale and handle such large scale deals. Going forward there could be large deal wins by even mid and smaller Indian IT services companies. Deal size is getting larger and the offshoring component due to Work From Home (WFH) is growing bigger in such deals. Companies are also not sending their employees for onsite work due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Offshoring proposition is helping the Indian IT services maintain better margins in these large deals. Companies have realised that they are saving on costs due to the offshoring model as they do not have to send their people abroad at customer locations,” Amit Chandra, Assistant Vice President at HDFC Securities told THE WEEK.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This expert feels that all these large deals are full stack transformational deals that involve end to end work from front end to back end. They involve application maintenance and infrastructure management and also a complete transformation of the IT infrastructure of the customer.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is observed that, when compared to the North American markets, the European markets have been a tad conservative in signing up with Indian IT services players, especially when it comes to strategic outsourcing. Infosys and Wipro winning billion-dollar deals in the heart of European manufacturing companies shows the prowess that both Infosys and Wipro have come to acquire even during the pandemic.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The CEO's of both Infosys and Wipro have extensive experience in the European markets. They understand the European sensibilities and it shows that the decision of having leadership from Europe have allowed these firms to pierce open challenging customers. These deals also give increased legitimacy to both Infosys and Wipro. There is a distinct possibility that more strategic customers will bestow their trust in these firms in the future,” pointed out Alok Shende of Ascentius Consulting.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A report from Emkay Global Financial Services points out that Wipro’s deal with Metro is in line with its strategy of focusing on the Europe region as the company looks to scale business and accelerate revenue growth in the region. Emkay expects Wipro’s dollar revenue growth to accelerate in FY22 to 8 per cent from a low-single-digit decline in FY21. This deal is broadly in line with these assumptions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A Motilal Oswal report also states that the large deal wins for both Infosys and Wipro reinforces its&nbsp;<a href="">positive stance on the IT services industry</a>. The deals will present an opportunity for Indian IT companies to increase their penetration in Continental Europe, which has historically lagged the US in outsourcing adoption.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Companies globally are trying to improve efficiency and optimising costs. Smart companies are utilising this pandemic time to get the best deals done from the IT Services players. Though the pandemic created some disruption in the initial days, businesses have understood the need of expeditious digitisation and automation leveraging new technologies to enhance their existing business models. So this is good news for our IT services companies,” remarked Aditya Narayan Mishra Director and CEO of CIEL HR Services.&nbsp;</p> Wed Dec 23 19:23:54 IST 2020 honda-cars-stops-production-at-greater-noida-plant <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="'s-headquarters-Tokyo-ap.jpg" /> <p>Japanese car maker Honda has stopped production at its plant in Greater Noida and will instead consolidate the manufacturing operations for vehicles and components in Tapukara, Rajasthan with immediate effect for domestic sales as well as exports.</p> <p>While production will cease at Greater Noida, all head office functions, India research and development centre and spare parts operations for automobiles, two-wheelers and power product business will continue to operate from there, the maker of the popular Honda City sedan said on Wednesday.</p> <p>The automobile industry has had a bumpy ride. Sales were already slow in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic was another blow. While sales have begun to recover in the last few months as demand for personal mobility increased, whether the demand will be sustained is still uncertain.</p> <p>"Despite an uptick in sales in the last three months, the current market conditions remain unpredictable for the industry at large," said Gaku Nakanishi, president and CEO of Honda Cars India.</p> <p>Honda's domestic passenger vehicle sales in November rose 55 per cent from a year ago to 9,990 units.</p> <p>According to data from Society of Indian Automobile manufacturers, PV industry saw domestic sales grow 4.7 per cent from a year ago to 2,64,898 units in November. For the April-November period, PV sales were down 21.7 per cent at 14.56 lakh units.</p> <p>"The impact of COVID-19 has pressed us to strengthen our constitution, and to achieve the same, Honda Cars India has decided to consolidate it's manufacturing operations by making the Tapukara plant a unified manufacturing base," said Nakanishi.</p> <p>Honda said sales saw a good recovery in the festive period and it expects to sustain the momentum in coming months.</p> <p>"India is extremely important market in Honda's global strategy and Honda Cars India is committed to bring its latest and advanced technology models, including electrified vehicles in future," maintained Nakanishi.</p> <p>Honda Cars India was established in December 1995. Its Tapukara plant has a capacity to produce 1.80 lakh units per annum.</p> Wed Dec 23 17:48:00 IST 2020 retro-tax-case-india-challenges-vodafone-arbitration-ruling-in-singapore-court <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India has challenged the international arbitration court's verdict against it over a $2-billion tax claim involving British telecom major Vodafone in Singapore on Thursday, a day after it lost another case against <a title="After Vodafone, now Cairn Energy wins arbitration against India over tax dispute" href="" target="_self">Cairn Energy</a> in the retrospective tax case. India's appeal also comes on the last day of the 90-day deadline to approach the Singapore court, the seat of the arbitration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier, it was reported that the Indian government was waiting for the outcome of the Cairn Energy arbitration before deciding on appealing against losing a tax case against Vodafone Group. The government had last month told the Delhi High Court that it hasn't so far decided on appealing against the Vodafone arbitration award.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both Vodafone and Cairn had challenged the tax demands under bilateral investment protection treaties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, according to media reports, Vodafone said it will not pursue a second arbitration under the India-UK Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bipa) until the award published under the India-Netherlands Bipa is set aside.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On September 25, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that India's demand in past taxes was in breach of fair treatment under a bilateral investment protection pact.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As per the award, the government has to reimburse Vodafone 60 per cent of its legal costs and half of the 6,000 Euros cost borne by Vodafone for appointing an arbitrator on the panel.</p> <p><br> <br> <br> </p> Thu Dec 24 11:37:22 IST 2020 retail-credit-demand-close-to-pre-covid-levels-cibil <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Demand for consumer lending, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, seems to be recovering as the country unlocks and the economy rebounds from the lows hit in the April-June quarter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While retail credit growth has still yet to reach last year’s level, there has been consistent growth month-on-month. Retail credit demand as measured by inquiry volumes plunged 72 per cent year-on-year in April, but has continued to recover since and was down only 7.3 per cent in November, data from TransUnion Cibil showed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Demand for retail credit products has steadily increased in recent months following the initial shock from the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. In November 2020, retail credit demand (as measured by inquiry volumes) was back to almost 93 per cent of the levels observed in November 2019, and was significantly up from the low levels observed during the early months of the pandemic,” the credit information company said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While public sector banks saw the biggest rebound in inquiries in the unlock phase as they were early in recommencing operations than their peers, November was the first time that the private banks saw positive year-on-year growth in inquiry volumes since February, TransUnion Cibil said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While non-banking finance companies have also seen a rebound in loan inquiries, their pickup has been the slowest among all the lender categories, it added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even as overall there seems to be a rebound in retail credit inquiries, there is still a huge variance within various categories. For instance, home loan inquiries were up 9.1 per cent last month, but personal loan inquiries were still 43.1 per cent lower.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interest rates on mortgages have fallen significantly in the last few months, as the Reserve Bank of India slashed its benchmark Repo rate to just 4 per cent as a part of its measure to boost growth. That, apart from pent up demand and attractive offers by developers, has driven the pickup in home loans.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“There has been an increasing focus on homeownership by individuals. The bargaining power of home buyers has increased post-COVID-19 and homes are now available at attractive prices. Consumers who otherwise wanted to buy a home and whose financial situation has not deteriorated are seeking this opportunity to buy homes,” said TransUnion Cibil.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When it comes to personal loans, the growth before the pandemic struck was largely driven by fintechs and NBFCs; the latter in particular are now reluctant to lend to high-risk borrowers, said TransUnion Cibil.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Auto loan inquiries also increased by 5.2 per cent in November, after plunging 64.6 per cent in May, helped by new launches and as personal mobility gains traction due to COVID.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The pandemic has brought about marked changes in consumer habits and behaviour. Consumers have shifted away from shared mobility options as they prioritise social distancing and personal hygiene. This has led to better resumption in auto loan inquiry volumes. Further, festive season offers and the excitement created by new launches have contributed to the accelerated revival of auto loan market,” noted TransUnion Cibil.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the other hand, while credit card inquiries have picked since the 76.2 per cent slump in May, they were still down 8.5 per cent in November. Similarly, inquiry volumes for loan against property (LAP) were 7.6 per cent lower last month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Interestingly, data shows that credit card popularity in traditionally cash-driven, non-metro locations has risen with more consumers seeking this product. Credit card inquiries in non-metro markets last month rose 3 per cent but declined 19.1 per cent from a year ago from metro locations.</p> Wed Dec 23 17:12:27 IST 2020 china-steps-up-pressure-on-alibaba-with-anti-monopoly-probe <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Chinese regulators on Thursday announced an anti-monopoly investigation of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, stepping up official efforts to tighten control over China's fast-growing tech industries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The market regulator said it was looking into Alibaba's policy of choose one of two, which requires its business partners to avoid dealing with competitors. The one-sentence statement gave no details of possible penalties or a timeline to announce a result.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chinese leaders said earlier an economic priority in the coming year will be to step up anti-monopoly enforcement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Regulators earlier forced the suspension of the stock market debut of Ant Group, an online finance platform spun off from Alibaba.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Alibaba Group is the world's biggest e-commerce company by total sales volume.</p> Thu Dec 24 08:09:45 IST 2020 businesses-with-monthly-turnover-of-over-rs-50-lakh-to-pay-at-least-1-gst-liability-in-cash <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Businesses with monthly turnover of over Rs 50 lakh will have to mandatorily pay at least 1 per cent of their GST liability in cash, the Finance Ministry said as it moved to curb evasion by fake invoicing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has introduced Rule 86B in Goods and Services Tax (GST) rules which restricts use of input tax credit (ITC) for discharging GST liability to 99 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"...The registered person shall not use the amount available in electronic credit ledger to discharge his liability towards output tax in excess of 99 per cent of tax liability, in cases where the value of taxable supply ... in a month exceeds Rs 50 lakh," the CBIC said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While calculating the turnover threshold, sales from GST exempt goods and zero rates supply would not be included.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, this restriction will not apply where the managing director or any partner have paid more than Rs 1 lakh as income tax or the registered person has received a refund amount of more than Rs 1 lakh in the preceding financial year on account of unutilised input tax credit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>EY Tax Partner Abhishek Jain said the government has put restrictions on seamless input credit utilisation with introduction of Rule 89B, which blocks utilisation of ITC beyond 99 per cent of the output liability, for businesses having taxable turnover of more than Rs 50 lakh per month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With the government providing reasonable exceptions to this rule, the idea remains to prevent misutilisation of credit by businesses taking fake credits, Jain added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, the CBIC has amended GST rules restricting filing of outward supply details in GSTR-1 for business that have not paid tax for the past periods by filing GSTR 3B.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So far, until now, non-filing of GSTR 3B resulted in blockage of e-way bill but will now result in GSTR 1 blockage as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jain said the government has now restricted filing of outward supply details in GSTR 1 return for businesses who have not paid tax for the past periods by filing GSTR 3B.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government's idea here seems to be to curb input tax credit passing by businesses which have otherwise not paid their GST liability, Jain added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AMRG &amp; Associates Senior Partner Rajat Mohan said, These changes indicate that government is grappling with lower tax collections and high tax evasions, burden of which will again be on honest taxpayers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The CBIC has also notified authentication of Aadhaar number or physical verification of business premises for the purposes of obtaining GST registration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This amendment has likely been introduced to prevent fraudulent registrations, Jain added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, the validity of electronic way bill provisions has been amended by the CBIC according to which the e-way bill will be valid for 1 day for every 200 km of travel, as against 100 km earlier.&nbsp;</p> Wed Dec 23 15:27:02 IST 2020 elon-musk-wanted-to-sell-tesla-to-apple-for-dollar61-bn-but-tim-cook-didnt-take-the-meeting <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Tesla CEO Elon Musk never finds it difficult to make headlines these days. His companies, Tesla and SpaceX, are&nbsp; cruising to new heights every day and he is busy replacing billionaires in the world's richest list. If nothing, there is social media it is in Musk's nature to not mince words, most often making it to the headlines.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In one such instance, Musk has revealed that he had approached Apple to explore a meeting on possible acquisition of Tesla when the carmaker was at one-tenth of its current valuation, before Tim Cook&nbsp; blew off the meeting. In a tweet Tuesday, Musk said the Apple CEO Cook simply &quot;refused to take the meeting&quot;.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tesla's market value is $616 billion, as of the close of trading Tuesday. One-tenth of that is $61.6 billion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Musk said he sought out the meeting with Cook during the darkest days of the Model 3 program, a reference to Tesla's first electric car designed for the mass market.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As recently as 2018, Tesla was struggling to meet its vehicle production goals and turn a profit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tesla's fortunes have changed since then. The automaker is finally making money on a consistent basis after years of losses and continues to hit milestones for deliveries of its vehicles.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Its shares have soared 665 per cent this year alone, making it the world's most valuable automaker and among the top 10 biggest US companies in the S&amp;P 500 index, which Tesla entered on Monday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Musk also commented on reports suggesting <a title="Apple sets 2024 target for first car with its own battery tech" href="" target="_blank">Apple is working on developing its own electric cars</a>, noting that Tesla already uses some of the materials that Apple is planning to make its cars with.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Wed Dec 23 12:14:14 IST 2020 after-vodafone-cairn-energy-wins-arbitration-against-india-over-tax-dispute <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>UK's Cairn Energy has won an international arbitration case against the Indian government over Rs 10,247 crore retrospective tax. With the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague awarding the arbitration in favour of Cairn in a verdict that came late night on Tuesday, the Indian government has been asked to pay the British firm over Rs 7,600 crore to reverse the dividend and tax refund it had ceased and shares it sold to recover part of the tax demand.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is to be noted that this is the second setback for India in the retrospective tax case in just three months after British telecom giant Vodafone won a similar case in a Rs 22,100-crore tax dispute in September. The international arbitration tribunal has maintained that the Cairn tax issue is not a tax dispute but a tax related investment dispute, reported <i>Business Standard</i>. Hence, it falls under its jurisdiction. It has ruled that India’s demand in past taxes were in breach of fair treatment under a bilateral investment protection pact.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier, it was reported that the Indian government was waiting for the outcome of the Cairn Energy arbitration before deciding on appealing against losing a tax case against Vodafone Group. The government had last month told the Delhi High Court that it hasn't so far decided on appealing against the Vodafone arbitration award.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India has 90 days or till December 24 to challenge the Vodafone award before a court in Singapore - which was the seat of the arbitration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both Vodafone and Cairn had challenged the tax demands under bilateral investment protection treaties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cairn Energy, which gave the country its biggest oil discovery, received a notice from the income tax department in January 2014, requesting information related to the group reorganisation done in 2006. Alongside, the department attached the company's near 10 per cent shareholding in its erstwhile subsidiary, Cairn India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In March 2015, the tax department sought Rs 10,247 crore in taxes on alleged capital gains made by the company in the internal reorganisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cairn Energy in 2010-11 sold Cairn India to Vedanta.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Following the merger of Cairn India and Vedanta in April 2017, the UK firm's shareholding in Cairn India was replaced by a shareholding of about 5 per cent in Vedanta issued together with preference shares.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to attaching its shares in Vedanta, the tax department seized dividends totalling Rs 1,140 crore due to it from those shareholdings and set off a Rs 1,590-crore tax refund against the demand.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cairn Energy in 2015 initiated an international arbitration to challenge retrospective taxation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pending final award, the tax department sold Cairn Energy's shares in Vedanta to recover part of the tax demand.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Wed Dec 23 11:19:44 IST 2020 air-quality-panel-directs-100-switching-over-of-industries-in-delhi-to-png <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas on Tuesday reviewed the progress of switching over of Industries operating in Delhi to Piped Natural Gas with the Delhi government, Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) and Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL).</p> <p>About 1644 of Industrial Units spread across 50 industrial areas in Delhi had been identified to switch over to PNG. Though sizeable number of Industries are using PNG, the Commission stressed the need to switch over to PNG by all identified Industries in Delhi considering the fact that industrial sector is one of the major contributors to air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region, the ministry of environment said in a statement.</p> <p>The IGL and GAIL were impressed upon to complete the pipeline network, metering and associated infrastructure.</p> <p>“M/s IGL, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Government of NCT of Delhi were also asked to work in close coordination with the industrial units so as to target completion of infrastructure works and complete switch over to PNG, by all the identified industrial units in Delhi, by 31st January, 2021,” the ministry said.</p> <p>The DPCC was also directed to inspect and identify the industries using unapproved fuels and to take stringent penal action in case of non-compliances.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Dec 22 16:51:34 IST 2020 google-invests-in-tiktoks-indian-clone-josh-inmobis-glance <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The parent company of short video app Josh, often referred to as the Indian copycat of TikTok, has raised an undisclosed amount from Google. VerSe Innovation, which runs Dailyhunt and Josh, has completed an over $100 million (about Rs 739 crore) funding round from AlphaWave, Google, and Microsoft, and the funding values the company at over $1 billion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apart from VerSe Innovation, the search engine giant has also invested in InMobi-led Glance as part of its $10 billion Google for India Digitisation Fund to enable them to further scale up availability of content in different formats across various Indic languages, Google said on Tuesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Google did not disclose details of its latest investments, separate announcements by investee companies stated that Google has participated in Glance's $145 million (about Rs 1,071.5 crore) and VerSe Innovation's $100 million (about Rs 739 crore) funding rounds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The app, Josh, is one of several home-grown short-video platforms that have sprung up since India blocked the wildly popular TikTok in June amidst a border crisis with China, attracting global investor interest in applications filling the gap. Bengaluru-based VerSe Innovation is valued at more than $1 billion following the investment, it said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In July this year, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai had announced a $10 billion (Rs 75,000 crore) Google for India Digitisation Fund that will be invested over the next five to seven years to help accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the same month, Reliance Industries had announced that Google will pick up 7.7 per cent stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 33,737 crore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We are also eager to support the wider ecosystem in India, particularly local startups innovating in this space. When we shared details of the India Digitization Fund in July this year, we identified enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it's Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Gujarati, and more as a key pillar in order to drive forward India's digitisation," Google Vice President Caesar Sengupta said in a blogpost on Tuesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He added that the company has invested in Indian startups—Glance Inmobi and VerSe Innovation—to enable them to further scale the availability of relevant and engaging content in different formats across various Indic languages.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"These investments underline our strong belief in partnering deeply with India's innovative startups, and our commitment to working towards the shared goal of building a truly inclusive digital economy that will benefit everyone," Sengupta said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Glance, a part of SoftBank-backed InMobi Group, has closed a $145 million investment round from Google and existing investor, Mithril Capital.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sengupta said over the last few years, improved connectivity and more affordable data have paved the way for India's startup ecosystem to scale and solve for the needs of the country's growing number of internet users.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a few months, the pandemic has not only accelerated internet adoption, it has also expanded how people use the internet to get things done in their daily lives, he noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Highlighting that 100 million new internet users have come online from rural India in the last two years, Sengupta said rural consumption now accounts for roughly 45 per cent of overall mobile data usage in the country, and is primarily focused on online video.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"But many of these internet users continue to have trouble finding content to read or services they can use confidently, in their own language. And this significantly limits the value of the internet for them, particularly at a time like this when the internet is the lifeline of so many people," he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He further stated that Teams at Google have been working over the years to solve this challenge in a number of ways. "We have built new products and features that enable people to create, consume, and communicate more effortlessly across more Indic languages, and through that, better serve not just the needs of over a billion people in India, but many more people around the world," he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With PTI inputs)</p> Tue Dec 22 16:42:13 IST 2020 whats-the-latest-way-to-offend-china-drink-australian-wine <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Drinking wine is the latest way to snub China. Diplomats across the world have taken to drinking Australian wine—publicly, as you can on Twitter—to protest against Beijing imposing high tariffs on Aussie vino.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The movement to bat for Australia by patronising produce from its vineyards has been steadily growing. And everyone is a part of it. From the UK to Taiwan, the holiday season will be about celebrating and drinking Australian wine to make a political point. There can't be a better reason to guzzle.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>America fired the first salvo, or in this case, poured the first bottle of Australian wine. On Monday, the official Twitter account of the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs tweeted its support for its Aussie ally. “We celebrate this holiday season with Australian wine to support our partners down under. In another instance of CCP coercion, Beijing slapped punitive tariffs on Aussie vintners. We will not tolerate PRC bullying. #Uswith AUS".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier in December, Australian wine was featured in a White House holiday reception.“Pity vino lovers in China who, due to Beijing’s coercive tariffs on Aussie vintners, will miss out. #AussieAussieAussieOiOiOi!"&nbsp; the White House National Security Council tweeted.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India hasn't so far jumped on the drinking-to-score-a-point-against-China bandwagon. But there is a lot more in the offing in terms of resilience in supply chains with Australia than just wine. On December 18, Commerce minister Piyush Goyal released a comprehensive report on the way ahead for closer economic cooperation with Australia. “Australia Economic Strategy Report 2020" was put together by CII with former ambassador Anil Wadhwa leading from the front. Wine may be the fun way to show solidarity, but the report suggests less alcoholic collaborations.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With India opening up, the agri sector has the potential for expansion as does textile, defence, sports—even at a time when India seems to be losing to Australia in cricket, and commercial ship building. "Efforts like the Australia strategy report will help us to align our trade and economic policies. We can find good areas of cooperation that will also dovetail into our negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement," Goyal said at the virtual release.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Adding wine to the growing arsenal against China also comes in the backdrop of the growing warmth at the Quad: the grouping of Australia, India, America and Japan. It is no secret that China perceives the closeness as a threat and as anti-China. If the inclusion of Australia into the Malabar exercise this year was a sign of the further strengthening of the Quad, on December 18, the four countries came together virtually to “cooperate on countering disinformation, to strengthen supply chain resiliency and to coordinate efforts to support countries vulnerable to malign and coercive economic actions in the Indo-Pacific region," the press statement issued by the State Department said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Australia has led the demand for an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus, which sparked off the beginning of a rather frosty feud. This has grown over summer with China flexing its muscles economically by slapping prohibitive tariffs on Australian exports.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Australian wine battle has now reached a new 'high' pun intended. In a devastating blow to Australia, China imposed up to 200 per cent on vino from Australia in November. Under the new measures announced by the Chinese commerce ministry, importers of wine from down under will have to pay duties ranging from 107.1 per cent to 212.1 per cent.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>American diplomats are not alone in consuming Australian wine as a sort of patriotic duty. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China—which brings together 200 members of Parliament from 19 countries launched a global campaign in a video to urge “people to buy Australian wine as the country withstands intense pressure from the Chinese government," its press release stated.&nbsp; Featured on the video was German Green Party MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, Japanese Democrat Rep. Shiori Yamao and former leader of the UK Conservative Party Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, among others.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But taking this battle from Europe to closer home is Taiwan. President Tsai Ing-wen has promised that her country will back Australia under extreme pressure. It might become the new mantra yet. Stay home, keep safe, drink Australian wine.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Tue Dec 22 16:08:36 IST 2020 apple-sets-2024-target-for-first-car-with-its-own-battery-tech <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Apple has set the target of 2024 to launch its first self-driven car, <i>Reuters </i>reported citing sources. The company aims to produce a passenger vehicle with its own breakthrough battery technology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the heart of Apple's strategy is a new battery design that could &quot;radically&quot; reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle's range, <i>Reuters </i>reported citing a source who has seen Apple's battery design.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Making a vehicle is a significant change in Apple's strategy with a supply chain challenge for the company with deep pockets that makes hundreds of millions of electronics products each year with parts from around the world, but has never made a car.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Termed Project Titan, Apple has been in the research of automotive efforts since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc , returned to oversee the project in 2018. Since then Apple has been reportedly making enough progress to build passenger vehicles.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Dec 22 13:31:48 IST 2020 -how-government-it-solutions-are-getting-transformed-with-artifi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Government departments have huge collections of data. In a few of these departments, data had been accumulated over tens of decades. Most of this data which has accumulated is lying in paper records scattered across different offices. However, in the last decade both at central and state governments, several e-Governance projects have been undertaken. Very few IT companies can successfully deliver eGovernance projects and one of them is Suparna Systems. The company has blended big-data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in its delivery.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Suparna Systems is a bootstrapped software company founded by Satish Kumar who left the high-paying job of Silicon Valley California to pursue the dream of entrepreneurship. This entrepreneur has an exceptional track record of delivering highly successful eGovernance projects. The work of transparent toggling of mobile applications between online and offline mode has been widely adopted in the delivery of services in rural areas where typically telecom signals are poor. His work on online citizen services delivery has inspired many cities and government departments to go online and provided a template for successful implementations.<br> </p> <p>The entrepreneur played a very important and key role in developing technologies for COVID-19 State War Room in Bangalore, Karnataka. In the initial days of State War Room Satish has involved in evaluations and selections for different technologies offered by Startups and big companies primarily in AI/ML for suitability of their use in fighting COVID-19 and later on architecting different solutions.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>In one to one conversation Satish, tells us about successful implementations of AI in Public Sector Organisations and E-Governance and how AI can be used to fight COVID-19.<br> </p> <p><b>Question</b>&nbsp;:<b>&nbsp;Last year you had a very successful Enterprise Resource Planning Implementation in Hubli Electricity Supply Company, an electricity distribution company. Can you tell us where you used AI/ML ?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Answer</b>&nbsp;: One of the module implementations of Transformer Management in our ERP is a lot like Robotic Process Implementation (RPA). We took the concepts of RPA and then selected bits and pieces and implemented them at various workflow stages. In fact, our whole workflow implementation process itself is RPA.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The other place where I used AI is in building the capacity of my team for capacity building. We developed a Natural Language Processing (NLP) based chatbot. The chatbot was able to answer the questions of our support people on various business processes and how to implement them. It also provided answers to which senior engineer to talk in case of doubt.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p><b>Question : AI/ML is a lot about learning algorithms. Can you tell us about their use and real-life implementation ?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Answer:&nbsp;</b>We used two sets of learning algorithms in Complaint Management Systems Implementation. The first set of implementation was an ML algorithm where we fed the complaint titles to train the classification of complaints.&nbsp;</p> <p>The second one which we implemented was not a textbook example of Learning Algorithms. Most of the textbook examples are based on training the algorithm first with a huge amount of data. What we faced problem was of the correct routing of complaints. In Government departments and Public Sector Organisations (PSUs), there are many many supervision and management layers however the complaint needs to be routed to executing staff. Each of the executing staff has a jurisdictional area. Complaints are usually received at levels several up. Here the learning algorithm was used in creating and self-correcting the mapping table. Once a complaint is routed to an executing office, any complaint coming from that jurisdiction gets automatically routed to that office irrespective of at what level the complaint was received. In the case of bifurcation of executing areas, the system automatically learned the new jurisdiction based on mis-routings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Question : Tell us something about the use of AI/ML in your COVID-19 work.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>COVID-19 was itself a very evolving and changing situation every day. In the beginning, there were very few known things and the focus was on knowing the infections and tracing the contacts. There are many many data sets in the COVID-19 State War Room. For geographical jurisdictions again there are different data sets by different departments. We implemented record matching and standardized on the code for jurisdictions. That helped us in architecting and evolving our Contact Tracing Systems both Mobile Apps as well as Web-Based Systems as well as other developing IT Systems.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We took inspiration from many outstanding work done at different places like John Hopkins Dashboard and New Work Times Dashboard.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Question : Where you see AI/ML can help most?<br> </b></p> <p>If we see where it can impact most is COVID-19 Vaccination right now. Vaccination is the program on which everybody is keeping a lot of hope. Big-Data and AI technologies if used properly can make a huge difference. One of the effective ways is to create a Data Lake and dumping various datasets about COVID-19 infection rates, Population Datasets, Critical Vulnerable group datasets (EHR Records if possible), Vaccination Providers, etc. Making this information available to local health authorities through Data Catalog and Self Service Reports and Visualisations is going to add real value. The curated and cleaned data can be used for the selection of populations that can be vaccinated in the first group, second group, etc. Real-time data of travel, hospitals can be combined to get the prioritized vaccination jurisdictions. This data set contains private individual data, so all security and data governance should be properly implemented in the Data Lake.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AI-based prediction models can be used to set the target and then real time monitoring of vaccinations. AI can help in knowing the root cause of the mis-match between the targeted vaccinations and real vaccinations done. Machine Learning can be used for target setting and achievement and the model will get more and more perfect as we will have more vaccination data.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>In case of adverse reporting of vaccine dose, the correlation of data can be used across population groups to identify individuals with similar conditions (In terms of age, health record, etc) and then alerting and monitoring them. Chatbots can also help in answering questions about locations of vaccine providers, doses, and eligibility etc.</p> Wed Dec 23 19:55:38 IST 2020 us-passes-dollar900-billion-covid-relief-catchall-measure <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The House easily passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package Monday night that would finally deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lawmakers tacked on a $1.4 trillion catchall spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepared to close the books on the year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The lopsided 359-53 vote was a bipartisan coda to months of partisanship and politicking as lawmakers wrangled over the relief question, a logjam that broke after President-elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The relief package, unveiled Monday afternoon, sped through the House in a matter of hours. A Senate vote that would send the bill to President Donald Trump appeared likely to follow soon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The bill combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses. It would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theaters and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 5,593-page legislation by far the longest bill ever came together Sunday after months of battling, posturing and postelection negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached. President-elect Joe Biden was eager for a deal to deliver long-awaited help to suffering people and a boost to the economy, even though it was less than half the size that Democrats wanted in the fall.</p> Tue Dec 22 12:21:31 IST 2020 centre-invites-bids-for-sale-of-its-6375-in-shipping-corporation-of-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Centre has on Tuesday invited bids for the strategic disinvestment of its 63.75 per cent shares in Shipping Corporation of India (SCIL), along with the transfer of management control. The ministry of finance notification said the deadline for submitting expression of interest would be February 13.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government plans to sell about 296.9 million shares of SCIL, the divestment of which got delayed due to the pandemic this year. Investors can submit bids individually or as part of a consortium.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At current stock prices, SCI's total market value is about Rs 3,915 crore ($529 million).&nbsp;The government has appointed RBSA Capital Advisors LLP as its transaction advisor to manage the disinvestment process.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management is working towards concluding the sale in the current financial year as there is good investor interest and the transaction size is not big, PTI had reported recently.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the current market price, the government’s stake in the shipping company is valued at Rs 2,500 crore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had in November last year gave in-principle approval for the strategic divestment of Shipping Corp. However, plans were delayed on account of the pandemic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The FY21 Budget has set an ambitious divestment target of Rs 2.1 lakh crore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The government has, so far, raised Rs 11,006 crore through a minority stake sale in CPSEs this fiscal year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A strategic sale process in both BPCL and Air India is ongoing and both have received “multiple” EoIs from potential buyers.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Tue Dec 22 12:08:41 IST 2020 wistrons-reputation-at-stake-due-to-apples-probation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>After Wistron was put on probation by Apple with the latter stating that they will not receive any new business from them before thorough corrective action is taken by it, Wistron’s image is expected to be tarnished further. As Apple will deploy its employees, along with independent auditors to monitor the progress, Wistron will have to ensure that it meets the requirements of Apple and follows all its due procedures. The incident has also put India's reputation as a manufacturing hub at stake. In fact this is not the first time that Apple has put its suppliers on probation or put them on restricted orders, be it Foxconn, Pegatron and now Wistron.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even before the announcement by Apple, in an earlier analysis in THE WEEK, it was pointed out that it was the mismanagement of the Taiwanese firm that may have caused the issue to aggravate as the violence could have been due to the Wistron management overstretching production targets and that would have led to unrealistic over time from the workers. In an earlier report, it was pointed out that the Wistron management had failed to solve the contract workers issue at the plant and they had overlooked such kind of frustration among the workers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Experts say that Chinese laws are lenient on wages of temporary workforce allowing a company to pay less to temporary workforce. “This is a practice in Chinese and Taiwanese companies but it found its way in India and resulted in labour unrest at the Wistron plant near Bengaluru. While such announcements by Apple have been an instant intent and reaction it does not seem to have either been enforced or deterred a supplier in future course on a strict compliance. On the contrary it had given them time to comply and rectify issues,” said Subramanyam Sreenivasaiah the CEO at Ascent HR.&nbsp;</p> <p>Experts further feel that the developments at Wistron are unfortunate and it also shows that we have not learnt much from past incidents such as at the Maruti plant near Gurugram where an HR manager was killed by workers. Payment of fair wages on a timely basis, providing safe and healthy work environment, engagement with the employees with a spirit of transparency and collaboration, quick resolution of issues as they arise and overall community development are principles which have stood the test of time in ensuring a conducive industrial climate and the country's economic environment. Lessons have been learnt and forgotten.</p> <p>“The recent unrest at Wistron has the potential of damaging our image of a peaceful and safe environment for economic activities. Problems of these kinds simmer for long and need to be doused at the right time. Company management, the vendors and the regulators have their own shares of blame to shoulder.&nbsp; It will be unfortunate if some scapegoats are identified and isolated before we move on. Rather all the stakeholders need to introspect and collaboratively work to restore the confidence of the employees, the society, the investors and the customer, in this case, Apple. Government has an important role to play in this process,” observed Aditya Narayan Mishra, the Director and CEO, CIEL HR Services</p> <p>It is now very clear that Wistron has faced double loss, one in the way of reputation loss in the eyes of Apple. And second is the monetary loss of machines and equipment. “For India, a country that is vying to emerge as a manufacturing prowess, the stake and reputation are equally high. How both the company and the country address such emergent issues will determine success of the manufacturing ecosystem,” remarked Alok Shende of Ascentius Consulting.</p> Mon Dec 21 18:56:43 IST 2020 mahindras-south-korean-arm-ssangyong-motor-files-for-bankruptcy <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mahindra &amp; Mahindra (M&amp;M) on Monday said its loss-making South Korean arm SsangYong Motor Company (SYMC) has filed for bankruptcy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SYMC has filed an application for commencement of rehabilitation procedure with the Seoul Bankruptcy Court under the Debtor Rehabilitation and Bankruptcy Act of South Korea, M&amp;M said in a regulatory filing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The troubled automaker has also applied for an autonomous restructuring support (ARS) programme which is a court-designed process, it added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"If the court approves the ARS, SYMC will continue to function under the supervision of its board and will negotiate with stakeholders to reach an understanding about a revival package which may include equity and debt financing and other related actions," M&amp;M said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, some of its decisions will be subject to court approval, it noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Seoul Bankruptcy Court will deliberate and review the application and relevant documents submitted by SYMC to determine whether or not the court will commence the restructuring process of SYMC, M&amp;M said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Last week, M&amp;M had informed the bourses that SYMC has missed repayments of loans aggregating to 60 billion KRW (around Rs 408 crore).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Korean automaker has outstanding loans aggregating to 100 billion Korean Won (around Rs 680 crore).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In April this year, M&amp;M board rejected a proposal to inject any fresh equity into SYMC.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Mumbai-based auto major had acquired the loss-making SsangYong in 2010 but failed to turn it around since then despite several attempts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>M&amp;M holds nearly 75 per cent in the Korean company now and has since invested over USD 110 million. SsangYong has been struggling with deteriorating earnings since 2017 when it slipped into the red with a net loss of 66 billion wons as against a net profit of 58 billion wons in 2016.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2018, its net loss rose to 62 billion wons and then ballooned to 341 billion wons in 2019.&nbsp;</p> Mon Dec 21 15:51:16 IST 2020 sami-sabinsa-group-wins-laurels-at-cii-industrial-intellectual-property-awards <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Bengaluru-based pharmaceutical firm Sami-Sabinsa Group has been awarded with the best patent portfolio and best trademark portfolio in SME (life science and pharma) at the recently held CII Industrial Intellectual Property Awards.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“These awards are a recognition of the pioneering work accomplished in the IP domain by the Sami-Sabinsa team,” said Dr Muhammed Majeed, founder and chairman, Sami-Sabinsa Group. “With research at the core of everything we do, Sami-Sabinsa continues to develop innovative, patented nutraceutical and cosmeceutical products for our clients globally.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The firm was founded by Majeed in 1988 and produces nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, standardized herbal extracts, fine chemicals, specialty chemicals, and probiotics. Sami-Sabinsa Group has independent research divisions, including natural drugs, phytochemistry, synthetic chemistry, tissue culture, biotechnology, analytical R&amp;D, biological research, microbiology and formulations R&amp;D.</p> <p><br> <br> <br> </p> Wed Dec 23 16:35:56 IST 2020 bmw-to-increase-vehicle-prices-in-india-by-up-to-2-from-january <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>German luxury carmaker BMW on Monday said it will increase prices of its entire model range in India by up to 2 per cent from next month. The automaker will introduce the revised pricing for all BMW and MINI models effective January 4, 2021, BMW Group India said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prices will increase by up to 2 per cent across the portfolio, it added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"In an unprecedented year, the company has been focused on providing best-in-class products and unparalleled services to its esteemed clientele. From January 4, 2021, BMW Group India will introduce the new pricing for BMW and MINI portfolio, increasing the prices marginally by up to 2 per cent to offset the increasing input costs," BMW Group India President Vikram Pawah said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This will ensure that customer satisfaction, dealer profitability and sustainable growth, which are fundamentals of a successful business, remain strong, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The company sells a range of locally produced cars in India including the 2 Series Gran Coupe, 3 Series, 3 Series Gran Turismo, 5 Series, 6 Series Gran Turismo, 7 Series, X1, X3, X4, X5, X7 and MINI Countryman.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BMW also sells 8 Series Gran Coupe, X6, Z4, M2 Competition, M5 Competition, M8 Coupe, X3 M and X5 M which come as completely built-up units (CBUs).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides, the MINI dealerships also showcase the MINI 3-door, MINI 5-door, MINI Convertible, MINI Clubman and MINI John Cooper Works Hatch as CBUs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rival Audi has already announced a price increase of up to 2 per cent across its entire model range, effective from January 1 next year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides, mass market players like Maruti Suzuki India, Renault India, Honda Cars, Mahindra &amp; Mahindra and Ford India have also planned to increase prices from next month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Two-wheeler major Hero MotoCorp has also announced that it will increase the price of its vehicles by up to Rs 1,500 from January 1, 2021, to offset the impact of rising input costs.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Mon Dec 21 15:37:45 IST 2020 high-flying-tesla-joins-sandp-500-skeptics-say-buyer-beware <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the middle of last year, Tesla's losses were piling up, sales weren't enough to cover expenses and big debt payments loomed. The situation was so bad that one influential Wall Street analyst raised the possibility that Tesla wouldn't be able to pay its bills and would have to be restructured financially.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since then, the electric car and solar panel maker's shares have skyrocketed, rising over 700 per cent this year alone. Monday morning it will join the prestigious S&amp;P 500 index with a market value of over $600 billion. It's the largest addition in the history of the index.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tesla's rise to become the world's most valuable automaker and rank among the top 10 biggest US companies is a surprising accomplishment considering that the company lost $1.1 billion in the first half of 2019. The increase is so stunning that even CEO Elon Musk has said the shares are overpriced.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Global sales hit a record of almost 140,000 in the third quarter, debt has been reduced with proceeds from stock offerings, and Musk's company is building two huge factories to make new vehicles and satisfy demand. Intensely loyal followers have invested billions and Musk has become the world's third-richest man, according to Forbes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tesla and Musk have for years engendered strong divisions on Wall Street, and the rise from near-collapse to an astronomical valuation is no exception.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many investors who drove Tesla's value higher are individuals who bought the stock after a five-for-one split reduced the price of a single share last summer. The bulls are largely betting on the company's future and point to five straight profitable quarters, rising sales, and world-leading battery and software technology to justify their bets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bears, including short sellers who have lost millions betting against the stock, still predict a collapse. They cite limited markets for high-priced Tesla vehicles, repeated quality problems, huge capital costs for factories, and growing competition from conventional automakers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>New York investment manager Ark Invest has consistently predicted Tesla's meteoric rise. Ark says Tesla has a technology advantage over other auto companies in performance and range of its vehicles. And if Musk makes good on his pledge to reduce battery costs, demand for electric vehicles will rise, with Tesla uniquely positioned to respond at large scale.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"If you look at a company like Tesla, they're single-handedly in a way sort of making that curve, because they're the largest producer of batteries," said analyst Tasha Keeney.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tesla's lowest-priced vehicle, the Model 3, is pulling buyers from mainstream brands with a base price of USD 37,990, Keeney said. That can quickly rise above USD 40,000 or even USD 50,000 with options. Tesla's upcoming angular Cybertruck pickup, starting at USD 39,900, will hit a mass market price comparable to other pickups, Keeney said. And Musk has promised battery breakthroughs that will bring a more affordable USD 25,000 vehicle, she said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ark sees Tesla's shares rising to USD 1,400 by 2024. The investment firm also sees earnings potential from Tesla one day using its vehicles to run a profitable autonomous robotaxi service. Tesla, Keeney said, is building a huge database of experiences from cars now on the roads, giving it an advantage over competitors including Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo, considered to be the leader in autonomous driving technology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This all makes little sense to the bears, who consider Tesla's valuation absurdly high. On paper, Tesla is worth more than Toyota, Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan and Daimler combined.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tesla shares are in our view, and by virtually every conventional metric, not only overvalued, but dramatically so, J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman wrote in a note to investors. He has a USD 90 one-year price target on the stock, even though it closed Friday at USD 695.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Demand for Tesla shares is expected to be strong on Monday as institutional investors buy to make their portfolios mirror the S&amp;P 500. But Brinkman recommends against that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tesla Inc.'s valuation is more than double that of Toyota Motor Corp., which typically sells over 10 million vehicles worldwide every year. Last year Tesla sold 367,500. Toyota's July-September profit of USD 4.5 billion was over six times higher than Tesla's net income during its five-quarter profit streak.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On a November earnings conference call, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said that Tesla isn't a real automaker yet. You can use the analogy of kitchen and chef," Toyoda said. "They have not created a real business yet or a real world yet, but they're trying to trade the recipes. And the chef is saying that, well, our recipe is going to become the standard of the world in the future. I think that is a kind of business they have, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tesla, which this year disbanded its media relations office, did not respond to requests for comment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of Tesla's challenges is to make a profit from the sales of vehicles. The company would lose money if not for payments from other automakers who buy regulatory credits to make up for failing to meet government pollution standards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of Michigan, notes that the income from those credits will fall as other automakers roll out their own electric vehicles, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"At some point Tesla has to prove itself as a business, not as a stock market phenomenon, Gordon said.</p> Mon Dec 21 12:17:28 IST 2020 rejuvenating-indian-agriculture-and-farmers-lives <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Yara Fertilizers India Private Limited, a global crop nutrition brand with a worldwide presence with sales to 160 countries, has brought about a perceptible change in the Indian agricultural sector. For the past 27 years, since it first ventured in India in 1993, with its highly researched and scientific fertilizer/crop nutrition products, Yara is intrinsically involved in bringing hope and cheer to the farmers, making them indispensible for the prosperity of Indian economy and it is the first foreign multinational company to invest in the Indian fertiliser sector.... In Conversation with The Week Mr. Sanjiv Kamwar tells how Yara tries to unearth ways and means of enhancing the quality of the lives of the Indian farmers as well as increasing their contribution to Indian economy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What is the chief impediment to agricultural progress in India?</b></p> <p>The following key challenges need to be addressed to achieve the objective to double farm incomes and improve the environmental sustainability of Indian agriculture:</p> <p><b>Yield gaps</b>- India is among the top crop-producing countries in the world, with an annual production of around 98 MNMT wheat, 110 MNMT rice, and 23 MNMT pulses. However, crop yields are 30-60% lower in India compared to other top producing countries, such as China, Brazil, and the United States.</p> <p><b>Soil health</b>- Soil health has degraded due to a variety of factors, including soil erosion, biodiversity loss and pollution. Farming without adequate replenishment of nutrients (especially micronutrients) has added to the problem resulting in productivity losses.</p> <p><b>Water scarcity</b>- India’s 1.3 billion people have access to only about 4 per cent of the world’s water resources, and farmers consume almost 90 per cent of the available ground water. India is currently using twice the amount of water to produce one tonne of grain when compared with countries such as Brazil and China.</p> <p><b>Malnutrition</b>- India ranked 94 among 107 countries in the “Global Hunger Index 2020”. According to the report, 14 percent of India’s population is suffering from malnutrition and 37.4 percent of children under five years are suffering from stunting. Production of more nutritious food is needed to support both social and economic development.</p> <p>We must acknowledge here the resourcefulness of the Indian farmer who despite the various challenges including facing 4-5 droughts during the past decade has ensured that Indian agriculture has grown positively.</p> <p><b>How can organizations like Yara contribute to improving soil health in India?</b></p> <p>We have established a world class soil testing facility at our plant located at Babrala, UP. Basis the soil test reports and the crop that the farmer wants to grow , we give balanced crop specific nutrition programme that helps in improving farm productivity . Through our various farmer meetings, we emphasise the need to focus on a balanced crop nutrition program with the right nutrient to be applied at the right time .</p> <p>In 2019 alone, we have conducted over 8500 farmer meetings and contacted almost 500,000 farmers with our messages regarding our approach . In the current year, we have continued with our efforts to support the farmers by conducting over 5,000 digital meetings amongst other outreach programs – a testimony to our commitment to sharing knowledge as well as innovations that are being carried out in farm practices globally with the Indian farmers.</p> <p>We must help the farmers to protect their soils for use by future generations.</p> <p><b>How has Yara helped improve the economic condition of Indian farmers?</b></p> <p>The starting point for us is to understand the needs of the farmers, soil condition, crop, current yields as well as the nutrition program that they are currently using. Basis this input, we develop an economically viable crop program using our differentiated products that shall help to increase farm productivity in terms of yields as well as quality. We aim to increase the marketable yield with the help of our balanced crop nutrition programs.</p> <p>Through application of our high-quality crop nutrition and sharing of knowledge, Yara has helped farmers to improve productivity by an average 15-20 % leading to similar impact on farmer incomes. This journey has demonstrated that Yara’s tailored crop nutrition programs, and our knowledge of optimal application, work well across all regions and crops in India.</p> <p><b>Yara is offering new digital solutions to solve critical problems in agriculture. How do you believe digital farming can change the face of Indian agriculture?</b></p> <p>Yara recognizes that with the changing economic scenario, the Indian consumer seeks better quality of fruits and vegetables. Indian growers need to take a relook at crop nutrition to improve yield and quality. For this India needs a digital ecosystem.Indian farmer is a businessman and he is needs information to make informed decisions. We believe that to digitisation is way forward to reach 140 MN small holder farmers in India. Last year,Yara released Farm weather app, the most hyper local weather forecast app for Indian farmers that gives up-to-date forecasting for their fields in real time !!. The accurate prediction by the Farmweather app enables the farmers to decide on irrigation, fertilisers as well as harvesting schedules!! We have also recently launched FarmCare recently to help rice and wheat farmers with accurate information at the right time, especially with fertilizer calculator, disease predictor and animations.</p> <p>We can’t predict the future, but what we do know is that it will be an exciting future, with lots of opportunities for farmers to exploit need ways to increase productivity, while protecting the earth’s limited resource. We at Yara convinced that digital farming can be a key contributor to solve the problem of feeding 9.8 billion people in 2050 while preserving environment. Certainly, in sync with other efforts and in collaboration with partners.</p> <p><b>Climate change is a huge global concern today. How is Yara addressing this issue?</b></p> <p>India’s farmers are constantly threatened by adverse weather and environmental conditions that spell disaster for their produce. Extreme situations such as flooding, and droughts constantly plague India’s farming community. Changing climatic patterns are set to impact agricultural production.25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture; hence reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is very very important.</p> <p>Yara shall work with the farmers to help them combat climate change and ensuing market adaptations along with two main avenues: Our agronomic knowledge can develop solutions that respond to the changing growing environments, and our lowcarbon nitrate offering is a proven choice for reducing emissions from farming. Our decarbonising efforts also include the piloting of green ammonia and mineral fertilizers, fit for a zero emissions future.</p> <p>Yara has one of the world’s most energy efficient fertilizer plants in Babrala, UP. To create a sustainable future; Yara is a member of the Global Gap that addresses environmental,&nbsp;economic and social sustainability. Farmers who have taken up our crop nutrition programme can export their products globally with ease. Yara conducts several farmer meetings to disseminate knowledge of products with less carbon footprints.</p> <p><b>What do you believe is an intractable challenge for Indian agriculture and what are your suggestions to circumvent the challenge?</b></p> <p>Apart from soil degradation and yield gaps, lack of efficient market linkages are the biggest problem for the Indian farmer.</p> <p>The Governments initiative of setting up of Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) is a step in the right direction. The FPO’s shall bring the power of collectivisation to the small holder farmers as they work together to create an entity which shall buy the inputs and sell the outputs together. The FPOs can be a game changer in Indian agriculture!! FPOs shall help enhance farmers’ competitiveness and increase their advantage in emerging market opportunities, usher in improved mechanisation and adoption of technology, all leading to higher income generation for farmers.</p> <p>Digital connect between the farmers and the food companies shall play a critical role in connecting all the stakeholders and help improve farm prices by reducing the number of intermediaries in the food value chain.</p> <p><b>What are your ideas on implementable farmer-centric government policies?</b></p> <p>With one of the largest arable land resources in the world and with 20 agri-climatic regions, all 15 major climates in the world exist in India. The country also possesses 46 of the 60 soil types in the world and High proportion of agricultural land (157 million hectares). This presents a unique opportunity – we can produce almost everything in the country and supply to the global markets round the year.</p> <p>The consumer of today is demanding and also more aware – he / she wants to know how the crop has been, traceability as well as sustainability. Furthermore, many potential target markets for India’s agriculture exports have very stringent quality norms which have to be met at all costs. Hence, it is ever so important that India designs policies which are in line with Global regulations.</p> <p>The registration process for new fertilisers is rather long winded. In a recent study done by World Bank on the time taken to register fertilizers, India was ranked in 98th position out of the 101 countries surveyed. This delay in fertilizer registration means that Indian farmers are prevented from accessing the latest global developments in the field of crop nutrition. In other countries, farmers producing the same crops are accessing as well as benefitting from the latest technological developments.</p> <p>The World Bank report (2019) says that in India it takes 804 days to register new fertilisers. In order to enable our farmers to compete in global markets, we need to bring our regulations inline with global regulations and allow for faster access of new products. Indian regulations are in fact preventing the farmer from access to new products and technologies !!</p> <p>Another important reform the Govt needs to carry out is to allow secondary and micro-nutrient coating of subsidized as well as non-subsidized fertilizers. Market price for secondary and micronutrient coated subsidized fertilizers to be set free. This will help in delivering the secondary and micro-nutrients to the crop and help improve farm productivity as well as quality.</p> <p>The above suggested reforms shall help the farmers access the latest innovative products that are available to his peers globally and he shall be able to compete with them on an even footing.</p> <p>Having worked with the Indian farmers closely for the past many years, I can confidently say that given the right tools and knowledge, he can feed the world!! All I can say is – give him a playing field on par with his peers in the other countries and he will produce a global quality crop right here in India.</p> <p><b>What are the community initiatives Yara is implementing?</b></p> <p>Yara is a company with a purpose to help farmers produce more from less. Yara has established Knowledge Grows Centres that showcase model farms and demonstrate best agricultural practices to farmers. During the pandemic our centres have been converted to Covid quarantine centres.</p> <p>Since inception, we have shown our commitment towards local people by taking various meaningful initiatives in the area of Education, Skilling of Youths, Health, Agriculture Development, Women, Empowerment, Infrastructure Development, Animal Husbandry, and Affirmative Action. We have tried to touch the lives of the people of every age, gender, and diverse communities through various programs coordinated with the assistance of different institutions.</p> <p>We are also planning to reach 90 lakh women farmers in India who do not have the same access as their male counterparts to knowledge, inputs and information. In 2021 we are planning a special drive to work with an FPO owned and managed entirely by women farmers.</p> <p><b>What are Yara’s future plans with respect to their operations in India?</b></p> <p>Yara stands by its commitment to close yield gaps and quality and help improve farmers’ income by collaborating with various channels to provide easier market linkages and connect farmers with all stakeholders of the food value chain. Our second goal is to digitise our services to maximise our reach to farmers and handhold them from seed to market. Going forward we will add new products and hopefully the government will ease the registration processes to allow farmers access to global products and help us to serve the farmers better.</p> <p>The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. We have just a decade left to achieve the ambition to reach Zero Hunger, No Poverty, Good Health and Well-Being by 2030 as lay out in the Sustainable Development Goals. We are aligning ourselves with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for inclusive prosperity because; at the end of the day agriculture touches every sustainable goal.</p> Tue Dec 22 14:51:56 IST 2020 stocks-plunge-as-new-covid-19-strain-in-the-uk-worries-investors <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty50 indices plunged three per cent on Monday, wiping off more than Rs 7 trillion in market cap, as worries rose over a new fast-spreading COVID-19 strain in the UK that has prompted the British government to announce a tougher lockdown and several countries, including India, suspending flights to the country.</p> <p>The BSE Sensex closed down 1,407 points at 45,553.96 points and the Nifty50 ended 432 points lower at 13,328.40. In other markets, the FTSE100 in London, Germany’s DAX Index and France’s CAC40 were trading lower by 2 per cent or more. The Madrid General index plunged 3.5 per cent.</p> <p>India’s equity markets had seen a sharp uptick in recent weeks and the Sensex hit a fresh life high of 47,055.69 points in the morning session. But towards the afternoon, as the European stock markets opened sharply lower, investors in India also pressed the sell button, leading to across the board selling.</p> <p>“The new variant of the coronavirus in the UK spooked markets as we witnessed intense selling throughout afternoon trade. While the street was bracing for a correction this week after a sharp up move, the sheer velocity of the fall across broader markets took the bulls by surprise,” said S. Ranganathan, head of research at LKP Securities.</p> <p>All the stocks in the 30-share Sensex ended in the red on Monday. ONGC was the biggest loser, plunging 9.2 per cent. As of Friday’s close, the stock had surged 21 per cent in December. Among other major losers, SBI, Mahindra and Mahindra and Indusind Bank tumbled over 6 per cent; Bharti Airtel, Sun Pharma, Bajaj Auto, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, ITC and NTPC all slipped between 4-5 per cent.</p> <p>The BSE Midcap and Smallcap indices tumbled over 4 per cent.</p> <p>“Travel restrictions imposed by several countries to and from UK have added concerns of yet another lockdown. European markets witnessed further selling pressure as the UK and EU failed to reach a trade deal before the decided deadline,” said Vinod Nair, head of research at Geojit Financial Services.</p> <p>While concerns of the new COVID-19 strains in the UK dented investor sentiment globally, investors in India may have also booked profits following recent gains, feel some analysts. Before Monday’s plunge, the Sensex had surged over 5 per cent this month.</p> <p>“Indian markets were worst performer today, we believe profit booking could also be a key reason as domestic equities have outperformed global markets by a wide margin in recent months,” said Binod Modi, head of strategy at Reliance Securities.</p> <p>COVID-19 cases have been surging across many countries in the last few weeks. In India, while the number of cases have topped one crore, the growth rate has slowed. Several economic indicators too have pointed to a faster recovery, from the recession. Data last week showed that advance corporate tax collections in the December quarter had surged to around Rs 1.1 trillion, which suggests third quarter earnings are also likely to be strong.</p> <p>In this backdrop, Modi said Indian equities were likely to remain “buy on dips.” However, given the volatility and rich valuations, he advises investors picking up only quality stocks, with strong earnings visibility and corporate governance.</p> <p>Geojit’s Nair also doesn’t expect a big correction going ahead, but rather a consolidation of around 7-10 per cent. He also feels a “buying on dips” strategy could be considered amid the fall in stocks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Dec 21 17:30:49 IST 2020 adidas-may-sell-reebok-in-2021 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Come 2021, Adidas may sell Reebok, which it acquired for $3.8 billion in 2005. The German sportswear giant has said it has started looking at whether to keep its Reebok brand or sell it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Adidas has stated it is yet to take a firm decision on the brand, it added that an announcement would be made on the future of Reebok by March. According to foreign media reports, Adidas has brought in investment bank and financial services firm JPMorgan Chase to assist with the potential sale. Private equity firms Permira and Triton have been linked with an agreement and were said to be "in the early, exploratory stages" of a potential deal, according to the <i>Financial Times</i>, which added that there was "no certainty that an offer from either firm would materialise".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Adidas said the possible sale was part of the development of its new five-year strategy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reportedly, Reebok has been valued only at $1 billion, a significant drop from the almost $4 billion Adidas had paid for the American brand more than 15 years ago.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Reebok has underperformed since Adidas’ acquisition. In 2007, Reebok generated nearly a quarter of Adidas’s overall revenue, but in the first nine months of 2020, that was down to 6.9 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the same time, Adidas has been seeing significant competition not only from longtime rivals like Nike, but also up-and-comers like Under Armour and Lululemon Athletica.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Adidas’s revenues decreased 18 per cent in the first nine months of 2020, while Reebok's fell 20 per cent owing to physical store closures.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> <br> <br> </p> Mon Dec 21 10:55:39 IST 2020 amazon-india-adds-15-lakh-sellers-in-2020 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>E-commerce major Amazon India on Sunday said 1.5 lakh new sellers joined its platform this year, and over 70,000 Indian exporters in its global selling programme have crossed USD 2 billion in cumulative exports.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amazon India, in its SMB Impact Report 2020, noted that it works with more than 10 lakh small and mid-size business (SMBs) including sellers, delivery and logistics partners, neighbourhood stores, enterprises, developers, content creators and authors work with the company in the country.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"This year has been unprecedented and has impacted the way we work and live. Yet, we remain inspired by the undying entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, resolve and trust in us of businesses, creators and authors to overcome challenges and grow," Amazon India Senior VP and Country Head Amit Agarwal said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He added that technology adoption and digitisation will continue to play a crucial role in offering expanded access and opportunities to SMBs, and that the company remains committed to invest and partner in success of SMBs in India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier this year, Amazon had pledged to invest USD 1 billion to digitise 10 million SMBs, enable e-commerce exports worth USD 10 billion and create 1 million incremental jobs by 2025.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SMB Impact Report 2020 said 1.5 lakh new sellers joined in 2020 with over 50,000 registering in Hindi and Tamil.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"(A total of) 4,152 Indian sellers surpassed Rs 1 crore in sales in 2020 and the number of crorepati sellers grew 29 per cent year-on-year," it added.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amazon has over seven lakh sellers on its platform.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> has unveiled the top 10 states and union territories with most number of sellers. With more than 1,10,000 sellers, Delhi has the largest number of sellers in the country, followed by Maharashtra (87,000) and Gujarat (79,000).&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides, Amazon Business marketplace registered 85 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth in sales.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There has been a 64 per cent increase in monthly order volumes in 2020. Over 3.7 lakh sellers on the B2B marketplace offer more than 20 crore goods and services tax (GST)-enabled products," the report said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Referring to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) - which enables Indian authors to self-publish in multiple languages and reach millions of readers globally - the report said in the year ending November 30, 2020, Indian authors have cumulatively earned over Rs 45 crore through books published on KDP (growing over 2X YoY).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hundreds of independent authors have earned over Rs 1 lakh each in royalties, in the year ending November 30, 2020, it added.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There are now over 70,000 Indian exporters selling millions of 'Made in India' products worldwide across 15 international Amazon websites.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Indian SMBs and brands on the program have crossed Rs 15,000 crore in cumulative exports," it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amazon said there are over 1 lakh developers from India building for Alexa - its digital assistant - globally.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These developers have built over 30,000 skills with the Alexa Skills Kit.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thousands of smart home devices compatible with Amazon Alexa, and there are over 100 Alexa built-in devices like smart speakers, fitness trackers, and Smart TVs.&nbsp;</p> Sun Dec 20 19:15:52 IST 2020 nirav-modi-brother-nehal-charged-with-usd-26-million-diamond-fraud-in-new-york <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Nehal Modi, the younger brother of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, has been indicted in New York for fraudulently obtaining diamonds worth over USD 2.6 million from one of the world’s biggest diamond companies in Manhattan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nehal, 41, is charged in a New York Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the First Degree, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“While diamonds maybe forever, this flawed scheme was not, and now Modi will face the clarity of a New York Supreme Court indictment. My Office will not allow individuals who have the privilege of soliciting business in Manhattan’s iconic diamond industry to defraud our businesses or consumers,” Vance said in a&nbsp; statement on Friday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the indictment, court filings, and statements made on the record in court, between March 2015 and August 2015, Nehal, a former member of Noble Titan Holdings, made false representations to obtain over USD 2.6 million worth of diamonds from LLD Diamonds USA on favourable credit terms and consignment, and then liquidated the diamonds for his own ends.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The statement said that Nehal, “who comes from a well-known family in the diamond industry”, was initially introduced to the president of LLD Diamonds through industry associates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In March 2015, he approached LLD, claimed that he was pursuing a relationship with Costco Wholesale Corporation and asked the New York-based diamond company to provide several diamonds, worth nearly USD 800,000, to present to Costco for a potential sale.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After LLD provided the diamonds, Nehal falsely informed the company that Costco had agreed to purchase them. Subsequently, LLD allowed him to purchase the diamonds on credit, with full payment required within 90 days. He then pawned the diamonds at Modell Collateral Loans to secure a short-term loan, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Between April and May 2015, Nehal returned to LLD three additional times and took more than USD 1 million worth of diamonds for purported sales to Costco. He made a series of payments to LLD, but used the majority of the proceeds for personal use and other business expenses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To cover his fraud, Nehal falsely claimed that he was encountering payment issues due to a “Costco fulfillment error” and made repeated promises to satisfy the balance, the statement noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In August 2015, Nehal returned to LLD again and falsely claimed that Costco wanted to purchase additional diamonds. This time, LLD permitted him to take the additional diamonds on consignment, with terms explicitly stating that he did not have the authority to sell the diamonds without authorisation by LLD.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>LLD also required a partial payment upfront in the event of a sale, as Nehal’s outstanding balance was nearly USD 1 million at that time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nehal had already contacted Modell to arrange an additional loan. After picking up the diamonds from LLD, he pawned the majority of the diamonds at Modell to secure two separate loans and sold the remainder of the diamonds to various retailers at a steep discount from the listed consignment price.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>LLD ultimately uncovered the fraud and demanded that he immediately pay his outstanding balance or return the diamonds. However, he had already sold or pawned all of the diamonds and spent most of those proceeds. LLD subsequently reported the fraud to the Manhattan DA’s Office.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nehal’s brother Nirav, 49, is wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case. He remains at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London where he has been lodged since his arrest in March last year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Nehal on charges of alleged money laundering that is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate. Nehal was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1979, and he knows languages such as English, Gujarati and Hindi, according to the RCN issued by Interpol.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>The New York Post </i>quoted Nehal’s defense lawyer Roger Bernstein as saying: “This is a commercial dispute” and that “Nehal is not guilty”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A video on <i>The Post</i> website shows Nehal walking with Bernstein, who said “we are not discussing anything about the case” when asked about the Interpol notice.</p> Sun Dec 20 13:44:12 IST 2020 delhi-hc-dismisses-futures-plea-to-restrain-amazon-from-interfering-in-ril-deal <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail's plea that sought to restrain Amazon from interfering in its $3.4-billion asset sale deal with Reliance Industries by writing to statutory authorities. The court declined Future Retail's plea for interim order injuncting Amazon from writing to authorities about the arbitral award saying "statutory authorities are free to form their own as per law."&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At the same time, the single-judge bench of Justice Mukta Gupta held as valid Future Retail's resolution approving its transaction with Reliance. Future Retail's suit has been held to be maintainable. "Amazon cannot be barred from writing to regulators on account of potentially irreparable damage," Justice Gupta said in the verdict.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All findings prima facie in nature, the judgement noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Jeff Bezos-led Amazon is locked in a bitter legal dispute with Future Group, which in August sold its retail assets to Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries. The deal breaches agreements made in 2019 by Future, according to the US online retailer.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In October, Amazon had won an injunction to halt Future's deal with Reliance from a Singapore arbitrator both sides had agreed to use in case of disputes. Future later said the order was not binding, prompting Amazon to lodge a complaint with India's market regulator Sebi.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> <br> </p> Mon Dec 21 11:23:38 IST 2020 indian-economy-reviving-well-after-outbreak-says-ls-speaker-om-birla <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Saturday said India’s economy was witnessing rapid revival after the slowdown due to the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Addressing the national convention of company secretaries online, Birla said the country had turned the challenges posed by the outbreak into opportunities due to community help and this had caused the revival.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He added that the nation was heading towards becoming self-reliant and efforts were on to enhance employment to bolster the rural economy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The motive of decentralisation in administrative and government functioning was to strengthen the rural areas, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The empowerment of village panchayats is needed to strengthen Indian democracy and give new direction to society as a rural civic body is the smallest unit of democracy,” he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He asked company secretaries to embrace the ideal traditions of good governance and financial integrity in the corporate sector.</p> Sun Dec 20 14:03:52 IST 2020 honda-stops-production-at-greater-noida-facility <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="'s-headquarters-Tokyo-ap.jpg" /> <p>Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) has decided to pull the plug on production at its Greater Noida plant in Uttar Pradesh, sources said on Saturday.<br> </p> <p>The automaker, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese Honda Motor Co, had set up the Greater Noida plant in 1997.<br> </p> <p>Industry sources said the plant would, however, continue to house the company's corporate head office, spare parts division and research and development (R&amp;amp;D) centre among other functions.<br> </p> <p>Meanwhile, the company declined to comment on the matter.<br> </p> <p>The automaker would now rely only on its Tapukara facility in Rajasthan to roll out its entire product range in the country, sources added.<br> </p> <p>HCIL had earlier this year initiated a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for its manufacturing line associates at the plant to increase productivity and efficiency.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The company used to roll out models like City, CR-V and Civic from the Greater Noida plant, which had a production capacity of one lakh units per annum.</p> <p>The Tapukara facility, on the other hand, has an installed capacity of 1.8 lakh units per annum.</p> <p>The plant also produces engines which are exported to other countries.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>HCIL had reported sales of 9,990 units in the domestic market in November, up 55 per cent from 6,459 units in November 2019.&nbsp;<br> </p> Sat Dec 19 17:18:02 IST 2020 iphone-maker-wistron-admits-to-lapses-apple-puts-company-on-probation <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Apple said on Saturday it had placed contract manufacturer Wistron on probation and would not give the Taiwanese firm new business until it took corrective actions following lapses at its plant near Bengaluru. Apple's statement came soon after Wistron released a media statement admitting to unethical working conditions at its Narasapura facility.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Since the unfortunate events at our Narasapura facility we have been investigating and have found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time. We deeply regret this and apologise to all of our workers. This is a new facility and we recognise that we made mistakes as we expanded. Some of the processes we put in place to manage labor agencies and payments need to be strengthened and upgraded," Wistron stated. The iPhone manufacturer has sacked its vice president Vincent Lee, who oversees its India business.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The company added that it has started an employee assistance programme for workers at the facility. "We also set up a 24-hour grievance hotline in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and English to ensure all workers can voice any concerns they may have anonymously," the company added.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apple, which mandates strict ethical working conditions for its supply partners, was quick to launch an internal probe into the vandalism at Wistron's plant last Saturday. "Our preliminary findings indicate violations of our Supplier Code of Conduct by failing to implement proper working hour management processes. We have placed Wistron on probation and they will not receive any new business from Apple before they complete corrective actions," Apple stated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apple employees and independent auditors hired by Apple have been working around the clock to investigate the issues which occurred at Wistron’s Narasapura facility, the company added.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The Cupertino-based company has a strict supplier code of conduct and follows up on any reports of violations. In 2019, it interviewed more than 52,000 supplier employees as part of its supplier assessments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Apple, in its supplier code of conduct, states that suppliers must meet all legal requirements relating to wages and benefits, including paying accurate wages in a timely manner. It prohibits use of wage deductions as a form of disciplinary measure and states that all use of temporary and outsourced labour shall be within the limits of the local law.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In November, Apple had suspended new business with one of its suppliers Pegatron Corp after labour violations were reported.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides the iPhone, Wistron also manufactures IT products for Lenovo and Microsoft, among others.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Wistron is one of the 16 entities to have received approval for incentives under the government's production linked incentive plan. Currently, iPhone XR and iPhone 11 are being assembled by Foxconn in Chennai, and iPhone 7 by Wistron in Bengaluru. The Kolar facility assembles the latest version of the iPhone SE.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Dec 19 19:26:13 IST 2020 Modi-praises-Tata-Group-for-its-role-in-India-development <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday praised Tata Group for its role in India's development.<br> <br> Speaking at the Assocham Foundation Week 2020 event, Modi said in the last 100 years the industry chamber has witnessed ups and downs of India's development, including the country's independence struggle.<br> <br> &quot;Tata Group has played an important role in India's development,&quot; Modi said after presenting the 'Assocham Enterprise of the Century Award' to Ratan Tata, marking the contribution of the business group in the nation's progress.<br> <br> Speaking at the event, Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata thanked Modi for leading the country from front during the difficult time of pandemic and hoped that the industry will now take forward the benefits of his strong leadership.<br> <br> &quot;Yes there will be periods of discontent, there will be opposition, but there is never any dithering or any ... running away ... You want a lockdown, you got a lockdown, you showed the country as one that responded to shutting out of power and lights for few minutes, you made that happen.<br> <br> It's not cosmetic, it's not showmanship, it has put the country together showing we can stand up and marshal our efforts to do what you have set ourselves to do.<br> <br> &quot;It is now our job as industry, to follow this, to show the benefits of this leadership which I am quite confident we will do,&quot; Tata said.<br> <br> Thanking the Prime Minister for leading the country through this difficult period, Tata said &quot;I think if we all stand together and follow what you have said, what you have done and what you have shown, we will have a situation where the world will look at us and say this Prime Minister said it could happen and he made it happen&quot;.<br> <br> Meanwhile, salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group was among &quot;multiple&quot; entities that earlier this week put in preliminary bids for buying loss-making carrier Air India.<br> Sat Dec 19 13:50:42 IST 2020 us-blacklists-top-chinese-chipmaker-alleging-military-ties <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Trump administration blacklisted China's top chipmaker Friday, limiting the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp's access to advanced US technology because of its alleged ties to the Chinese military.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We will not allow advanced US technology to help build the military of an increasingly belligerent adversary,'' Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement explaining the decision to put SMIC on the US government's so-called Entity List.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>SMIC has previously said it has no ties to the Chinese government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Department of Commerce is putting more than 60 other firms on the list for such things as allegedly supporting the Chinese military, assisting the Chinese government's crackdown on dissent, being involved in the theft of trade secrets and helping Beijing's aggressive efforts to claim territory in the South China Sea.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But SMIC is the most high-profile target.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The move means that US companies will need to get a license to sell sophisticated technology to SMIC.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Technology that helps with the production of the most-advanced chips -- those 10 nanometers or smaller -- face the presumption of denial,'' Commerce said. Other items will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The decision comes barely a month before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A senior Commerce Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said the move had not been coordinated with the Biden transition team.</p> Sat Dec 19 13:16:19 IST 2020 world-trusts-indian-economy-reforms-changed-why-india-to-why-not-india-modi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his call to the industry to make India self-reliant saying the challenge is also on how soon can the country achieve the Atmanirbhar goal. He said that the world was heading towards the fourth Industrial Revolution. "So from today we must plan and act on achieving our nation-building targets," Modi said as he virtually addressed an Assocham event on Saturday.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Citing the FDI, FPI that India received during the pandemic, he reminded that the world trusts the Indian economy.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Challenges will come in the face of new technology, and solutions will come as well. It is the time to both plan and act. We must associate every action to a larger goal of nation-building," Modi said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said the discussions have changed from 'Why India' to 'Why Not India.' "Our reduced tax rate has turned discussions to 'Why Not India?' Ease of compliance in labour law has turned the discussion to 'Why Not India?'" he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The country stands beside enterprises and wealth-creators that will give India's youth a lot of opportunities. India's youth is making its name in innovation and the start-up sector, the prime minister said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Central government is constantly doing reforms to promote manufacturing in India. "More than 10 sectors have been brought under PLI initiatives. We've also witnessed positive results in a very short period," he noted.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The prime minister also presented the "ASSOCHAM Enterprise of the Century Award" to Ratan Tata, who will receive the award on behalf of the Tata Group. "Tata Group has played an important role in India's development," the prime minister said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He called on the private sector to scale up investments in R&amp;D.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Dec 19 11:41:09 IST 2020 self-hosted-bitcoin-wallets-and-crypto-industry-regulations <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Regulated cryptocurrency industry is getting closer to cross another threshold that has nothing to do with the price breakthrough. The slow and steady advance of know-your-customer (KYC) requirements and regulations for firms that handle digital assets are now at the threshold of self-hosted crypto wallets. This shift, which has already begun in Singapore and Switzerland, starts with the regulated exchanges that are a requirement on non-custodial wallets that firms are connected to. Bitcoin, and the cryptocurrencies that followed, were designed for self-custody and peer-to-peer transactions that provide&nbsp;unrivaled security and privacy. While the Financial Action Task Force (FTAT) is trying to imposed traditional Anti-money laundering (AML) frameworks on providers of virtual asset providers, the crypto community is less than impressed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Financial Action Task Force’s Steps to AML</p> <p>While the crypto community has been up in arms about one of the&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u>core functions of Bitcoin being altered</u></a>&nbsp;by imposing regulators, the FATF has taken steps to impose its regulatory framework on providers. In the middle of this standoff are blockchain analytics companies and firms such as CipherTrace, Elliptic, and Chainalysis. These analytics companies are guided to investigate transactions by red flags that are found when trying to track funds and are actively seeking our regulatory risks as transfers take place with self-hosted wallets, peer-to-peer exchanges, privacy coins, and bitcoin ATMs. While self-hosted wallets are currently still outside of the FATF’s jurisdiction, the amount of funds that are moved between exchanges and private wallets has become a point of focus for analytics firms. CipherTrace has commented that these red flags are not assumed to be criminal or illegal activities but it gets flagged because authorities are unable to see where the funds are going and why which proves that FATF’s main concern is the uncertainty that bitcoin presents to regulators and money-laundering preventative measures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ShapeShift</p> <p>ShapeShift, a non-custodial exchange that was established in 2014 by Erik Voorhees, has been making headlines recently as a result of CipherTrace giving the exchange low KYC scores. In 2018, the exchange began requesting that clients reveal their identities. ShapeShift lost many clients as a result of this, who migrated to other bitcoin services such as&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u></u></a>&nbsp;. However, the company considered the loss to be necessary as its KYC score has since been upgraded, and ShapeShift has been awarded a positive green by CipherTrace, who acknowledged that grading the KYC system and processes of exchanges such as ShapeShift is a dynamic state of affairs. ShapeShift has shared the firm’s revamp measures with the public that involves a collection of personally identifiable information (PII) as well as screening measures for sanctions and Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) which has warranted an independent audit. However, when it comes to private wallets, ShapeShift is non-custodial with users typically making use of their wallets as opposed to transferring between exchanges.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Privacy Coins</p> <p>ShapeShift is in the middle of the crypto regulation battle as it has recently made the decision to remove its support of privacy coins like dash and monero. The privacy coins were removed as a result of the regulator concerns and will not be working with them for the time being. Both privacy coins and privacy-enhancing services, such as the wallets Wasabi and Samourai, have a range of valid uses. However, they also present some definite red flags. In order for ShapeShift to remain compliant with privacy coins and the regulations, the company would have to make them safe and adherent by establishing the source of funds. This goes to show that the coins are not always bad but these extra steps, which are sometimes denied by clients, carry additional risks.</p> Wed Dec 23 18:19:26 IST 2020 need-to-know-facts-about-bitcoin <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Bitcoin is officially back in the news this year after experiencing an increase in institutional liquidity that has allowed the popular cryptocurrency to experience its second astounding surge. The result of this increase in interest has led to critics finding it impossible to dismiss the digital currency as prices skyrocket. Many believed that the 12-year old asset had reached its limit and could go no further three years ago. However, Bitcoin’s latest surge has proven this hypothesis to be incorrect and has given credibility to the thesis, of bullish advocates, that Bitcoin is one of the most revolutionary technological developments of its time. It has been described as a synthesis of many years of cryptographic research and technology, with mistakes corrected from many precursors and false starts over the years. Bitcoin is one of the most perfect versions of digital currency in the world today and here are some facts to back that statement up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bitcoin is Cryptographic Currency</p> <p>While many people are afraid of what they do not understand and are quick to shun it without a second thought, others have spread their notions about Bitcoin. Contrary to common misconceptions, Bitcoin transactions are the opposite of secret and are quite public. The system, and transparency, is made possible with the use of public-key cryptography, which is a computer science branch that uses&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u>math to encode data</u></a>&nbsp;. Bitcoin owners will receive a public key (which is used to receive bitcoin to public addresses) and a private key that allows users to claim the bitcoin they have purchased or received. This means that bitcoin wallets do not store coins at all but rather private keys and grants owners access to them. In order to receive funds, users will share their public addresses to receive bitcoins and the private key to approve transactions that transfer coins to other users.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bitcoin Transactions Are Irreversible</p> <p>The digital ledger, or Bitcoin blockchain, which is where records for all transactions are stored, is immutable. This means that it cannot be altered or adjusted by any central party and the network cannot be cheated to allow people to spend coins that they do not rightfully own. A global network of miners is responsible for processing bitcoin transactions and entering them into the ledger. Miners are individuals or collectives, who are described as the workforce of the system, that run the machines to mine and maintain the blockchain. Miners are often rewarded with bitcoin in the form of a block reward, which is a payout that gets sent to the miner who is responsible for finding the next block for the chain’s sequence and makes a record of the most recent pending transactions in it. While mining might sound like an easy way to earn bitcoin, it requires a lot of energy as the competition is extremely fierce. The competition and energy that goes into mining help to secure the network by incentivizing miners to process transactions quickly and not to alter the ledger in any&nbsp;way. Failure to comply with the rules puts a miner’s payday at risk. Altering the network would require a miner to work 50% harder than all other miners in the network and could cost them thousands in operational expenses. It is due to these strict rules and unfavorable conditions that bitcoin transactions have never been altered in its 12 years of operation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bitcoins Cannot Be Confiscated</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bitcoin owners and traders would not take kindly to having their coins, that were either purchased or earned&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u>in trade with Bitcoin Compass</u></a>&nbsp;, confiscated or stolen. While this is highly unlikely, it is not an impossibility especially if users do not take the necessary precautions. The only guaranteed way to get the most out of this functionality is to ensure that the private key remains a secret. As a means of adding extra security, many users have created multi-signature wallets that are designed to distribute the access to coins across different devices. Some wallets services could feature extra safety precautions such as dummy passwords that will enter a blank account in the case of extortion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bitcoin is Inclusive</p> <p>Since bitcoin can be sent across the world as freely as a text message, Bitcoin services are inclusive. Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakomoto, specifically designed the system to not require permissions. This means that anyone, from anywhere, can use Bitcoin to maintain custody of value and transfer it. Nakamoto also designed the system to require no censorship, which means that there is no way to block users from joining the network and transferring their owned value. Nobody in the world has the ability to freeze coins or prevent users from processing transactions with Bitcoin. As a result of&nbsp;<a href=""></a><a href=""><u>the way bitcoin transactions are processed</u></a>&nbsp;, there are no central or third parties who have control over payments and allows users to transfer coins directly from their balance to their recipients.</p> Wed Dec 23 18:14:19 IST 2020 cbi-books-hyderabad-based-transstroy-india-ltd-for-rs-7926-crore-bank-fraud <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The CBI has booked Hyderabad-based Transstroy (India) Ltd and its directors for alleged bank fraud of over Rs 7,926 crore in a consortium led by Canara Bank, in one of the biggest banking scams in the country, officials said on Friday.<br> </p> <p>The agency carried out searches at the premises of the company and the accused directors, including former Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, which led to the recovery of incriminating documents, its spokesperson said in a statement.<br> </p> <p>Rao, an additional director in the company, has been named in the FIR as accused, besides the company, its chairman-cum-managing director Cherukuri Sridhar and another additional director Akkineni Satish.<br> </p> <p>It was alleged that the private firm based in Hyderabad and its directors had availed credit facilities on multiple banking arrangements.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>"The consortium was formed with other banks, led by Canara Bank. It was further alleged that the accused had involved in falsification/fabrication of books of accounts, fudging of stock statements, tampering of balance sheets, round tripping of funds, etc.," CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur said.<br> </p> <p>The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has alleged that loans were misappropriated by the directors causing a loss of Rs 7,926.01 crore to the consortium members.<br> </p> <p>"Searches were conducted at the premises of private company/other accused at Hyderabad and Guntur, which led to recovery of incriminating documents," Gaur said.<br> </p> <p>According to the CBI, diamantaire Nirav Modi had allegedly siphoned off Rs 6,000 crore while his uncle Mehul Choksi had swindled Rs 7,080.86 crore, both making it the country's biggest banking scam at over Rs 13,000 crore.<br> </p> Fri Dec 18 23:15:08 IST 2020 wistron-plant-violence-apple-state-govt-enter-damage-control-mode <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Apple is expected to take the violence at the Wistron plant in Bengaluru seriously and conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. At the same time, the state government may go all out to safeguard its image as an investor-friendly state to woo further investments in the state.<br> </p> <p>Currently, the state government is dealing with two major worker-related issues: The current ongoing strike at the Toyota Kirloskar Motor plant near Bengaluru and the recent violence at the Wistron manufacturing unit near Kolar. Related reports point out that the major issue behind the violence was related to the payment of overtime dues to the workers.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>“I feel that Apple is very proactive about such matters and the investigation is expected to bring out the true picture as to what brewed behind the violence. Wistron should have tried to solve the issues internally if such a thing was happening. It should have tried to contain any resentment on part of the workers. If such incidents are repeated again in the state it may spoil the image of Karnataka as an investor-friendly state. However such incidents will not dent the overall image of India as an investor-friendly country,” remarked Alok Shende of Ascentius Consulting.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Experts point out that it was the mismanagement of the Taiwanese firm Wistron that may have caused the issue to aggravate. “This could have been a fall out of the COVID-19 lockdown. To recover from that, the Wistron management may have [set] overstretched production targets and that would have led to unrealistic over time from the workers. Even if the Apple investigation points out to any loopholes the state government may try its best to keep a low profile on it as it would not like to dent its investment-friendly image,” pointed out Subramanyam Sreenivasaiah the CEO at Ascent HR.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Experts have also pointed out that the government is trying to hush up the whole thing. “The government will try to persuade Apple not to [make] public the findings of the internal investigation. I feel that it is the Wistron management that had failed to solve the contract workers issue at the plant. It is still very unclear as to how they overlooked such kind of frustration among the workers. Apple should probe such mismanagement and take strict action against the Wistron management in India," pointed out B.S. Murthy, CEO of LeadershipCapital Consulting.&nbsp;</p> <p>"Going forward the Wistron management should come forward and ensure that proper compliance is in place in the plant that includes the payment of overtime and salaries to the workers so that such kinds of incidents are not repeated again,” he said.<br> </p> <p>He added that there have been some serious lapses on part of the Wistron management and internal sources have pointed out that the management was trying to bring in the Chinese work model at its plant near Bengaluru.</p> <p>“There has also been no transparency as to how the staffing firms that Wistron management had employed were managing the salaries and other overtime payment to the workers. At the same time the Wistron plant does not have any workers union as the contract workers are fully controlled and exploited by the staffing firms, a fact that has been overlooked by the Wistron management,” added Murthy.&nbsp;</p> <p>An initial investigation into the working conditions at the plant, accessed by&nbsp;<a href="">Reuters</a>, found that&nbsp;An initial investigation into the working conditions at the plant, accessed by&nbsp;<a href="">Reuters</a>, found issues in how Wistron maintained employment records. Employees also say their overtime salaries were not paid. Apple is also conducting its own audit to find whether Wistron violated supplier guidelines.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) has expressed its deep concern on the violent incident taking place at Wistron plant near Bengaluru. “Quick consultative process should be initiated to resolve the issue since the production model followed by Apple—subcontracting production to carefully selected ancillary units has a huge scope in India and a few other electronic giants are proposing to relocate into India using this production model,” said Sandeep Narula, the Chairman of ESC.<br> </p> <p>He remarked that when plans are afoot for replicating mobile phone experience into other segments of electronics and hardware and many Indian companies are coming forward to adopt this model of production to scale up India’s electronics production capacity, it is important that the incident precipitated at the Wistron is immediately addressed and steps are taken to avoid such situations in the future.&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides the iPhone, Wistron also manufactures IT products for Lenovo and Microsoft, among others. The Wistron plant assembles the latest version of the iPhone SE. Wistron has received approval for incentives under the government’s production-linked incentive plan. It is also being reported that as many as six staffing were supplying and managing the manpower at the Wistron plant and maybe blacklisted in the future.</p> Fri Dec 18 21:51:06 IST 2020 new-farm-laws-already-benefiting-farmers-will-continue-changing-laws-modi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi made another assertion on the positives of the three farm laws passed recently, declaring that they were already benefiting farmers. He said it was part of a larger strategy of replacing old laws and methods of doing business with new reforms aimed at realising Atmanirbhar Bharat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi argued that to build and transform the nation, the government was committed to support industry and business by providing all essential services, but widespread reforms were required for this purpose. “For this, we have made up our mind to change laws. In the last six years, we have already banished more than 1,500 old laws,” we pointed out. “We are bringing in new laws to meet the nation’s requirements.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The prime minister was addressing the doyens of Indian industry, including Ratan Tata and Niranjan Hiranandani, at the Foundation Week event of the business chamber Assocham.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The prime minister linked the need for new laws to bridging the urban-rural divide. “Industry can multiply the efforts of the government in bridging the urban-rural divide,” he said, calling on businesses to invest in research &amp; development in the agriculture sector (amongst others), as well as provide a global platform for rural products. “There is a treasure trove of knowledge and great products, organic, herbal and more, with our farmers and villages. Business can help promote these globally. India’s name should thus resonate in the markets of the world,” he exhorted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi pointed out how the government was working overtime to improve connectivity and better infrastructure, including promoting investments. “Farmers in villages have to reach the markets of the world, so we are working on high-speed broadband connectivity.” Last fortnight, it was announced that all villages in the country will have high-speed internet over fibre-optic connectivity in three years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>True to his penchant for catchphrases and targets, the PM set a new one during this speech, to add to the '$5-trillion economy by 2025' aim. Telling India Inc that it had the freedom ‘to touch the skies’, Modi declared, “In 27 years time—in 2047—we will complete one hundred years of independence. Invest your full strength in Atmanirbhar Bharat. We need to plan and act. Every aim has to be linked to nation building.”</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Sat Dec 19 12:13:57 IST 2020 important-things-about-bitcoin-that-you-need-to-know <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Cryptocurrencies have changed the way people look at money. Bitcoin is one of the cryptocurrencies that made an impact on the financial market. In the beginning, a few brave souls decided to invest in Bitcoin and their risk paid off. Nowadays, Bitcoin is doing well which is why there are more traders on the market.</p> <p>With the presence of more traders, the risk is even greater now. So, if you’re looking to trade Bitcoin you’ll need to know a thing or two about the cryptocurrency. You probably know how popular it is. But why is it so popular?</p> <p>That’s because it’s a decentralized currency. No bank or other third party is in charge of it. This means that you’re the only person that can access your account. You won’t need to pay any fees for account maintenance. However, you’ll need to pay a fee for every transaction you make. Additionally, they’ll be much lower than other fees.</p> <p>Anonymity and security are both aspects that you’ll get. Depending on your choice of wallet you’ll either be more secure or you won’t. But how do you get Bitcoin?</p> <p><b>How to Get Bitcoin</b></p> <p>Getting Bitcoin is a simple process. You can buy it with hard cash, via bank transfers, and even credit and debit cards. But you’ll need a wallet to store your Bitcoin in. However, you can also try trading Bitcoin to get more Bitcoin.</p> <p>There are several exchanges you can sell your assets on. Naturally, you’ll run into many traders. By making a profit from selling your assets you’ll see the amount of Bitcoin in your wallet rise. However, you’ll need to learn the basics first before you actually start trading. Getting some practice first can save you a lot of mistakes along the way.</p> <p>If you don’t feel competent enough to make big decisions when it comes to Bitcoin trading you can rely on trading bots to do it for you. There are lots of platforms that offer the services of trading bots. You can find one of the more popular ones on the <a href="">official Yuan Pay group</a> website. You’ll need an account to get started. Since you can’t trade for free you’ll need to make a small deposit. After that, you’ll need to go over a few tutorials to see how the whole thing works. Finally, you can set the bot to start trading and make adjustments along the way.</p> <p><b>Bitcoin Mining Explained</b></p> <p>Bitcoin trading can be a daunting process but so can Bitcoin mining. The thing about this cryptocurrency is that it’s based on blockchain technology. This means that there are several blocks available. If you need a comparison, think about a mine. Each block is some gold you’ll find in it and you’ll need to mine it to make use of it.</p> <p>Naturally, mining is an expensive business. You’ll need a special kind of software that will calculate the 64-digit codes. If you’d like to become a Bitcoin miner be prepared to invest thousands to that cost. There’s a&nbsp;<a href="">selection of such software</a>&nbsp;available online. Make sure to go over the many offers the companies have available.</p> <p><b>How Is Bitcoin Doing Today</b></p> <p>In short, Bitcoin is doing pretty good today. Established companies such as Dell and Microsoft accept it as a payment method. In addition to them, some airline companies also accept Bitcoin as a means to pay for your tickets. Other companies also support Bitcoin as a payment method for gift cards.</p> <p>The gaming industry has done this too. In addition to that, the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin has inspired some developers. These companies have made sure to produce a few titles so gamers can have something new to try. Beginner Bitcoin traders will be happy to know that there are several Bitcoin trading simulators available.</p> <p>People that enjoy trading card games can also enjoy a few crypto titles that let you build out your deck. Titles such as Spells of Genesis and Splinterlands are only 2 that they’ll come across. Bitcoin games such as Crypto Pop and Merge Cats give out Candy Crush vibes.</p> <p>In other words, there are lots of Bitcoin games available and many more are on the way. More and more businesses are accepting Bitcoin as a payment method which means the cryptocurrency is becoming a lot more common.<b></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Dec 21 15:34:24 IST 2020 chitwan-malhotra-meets-the-first-lady-of-zimbabwe- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p>&nbsp;Ms Chitwan Malhotra, the Executive Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) Health Partnership in Geneva and also Honorary Chairwoman IHD Marketplace Inc. (Innovative Healthcare Delivery) met with the First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Ambassador of Health, who is also the Patron of the Angel of Hope Foundation, Her Excellence Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa at the State House in Harare on the 16th of December 2020, to discuss a wide-range of issues relating to the establishment of state-of-the-art healthcare facilities and the availability of affordable medicines as well as pharmaceutical and surgical stuff in the country.</p> <p>In a lengthy meeting, the two women, who share common passionate interests on quality health delivery to all communities, exchanged ideas on a number of issues regarding potential investments and public private partnership (PPP) in the health sector. In their spheres of operation, both women have been on the forefront of promoting SDG number 3, which aspires “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all stages” including Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by 2030.</p> <p>&nbsp;In her capacity as the Executive Director of UNSDG Health Partnership in Geneva, Ms Malhotra has been responsible for initiatives supporting national and regional civil society to drive improvements in NCD prevention and control, promote sports as a means to combat growing lifestyle diseases among youth and environmental health. On the other hands, Her Excellence, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, through the Angel of Hope Foundation, has been championing the promotion and provision of healthcare to disadvantaged groups of people, particularly children, women and the elderly in rural areas of the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;In her introductory remarks, Ms Maholtra applauded the wonderful work that the First Lady is doing in promoting healthcare across the country. “Under your able leadership and with the support of His Excellence, we have seen you making significant strides towards uplifting the lives and promoting the healthcare of many ordinary Zimbabweans. Your work has made a difference and contributed much towards the promotion of SGDs and many across the regional and continent are taking lessons” Maholtra said in great admiration. She further indicated that due to the First Lady’s work, her organisation, IHD Marketplace, was ready to partner with the Angel of Hope Foundation to make sure that it scales up its work across the country.</p> <p>Among many other projects, which include to establish a Victoria Falls Hospital Project that is aimed at fostering and promoting medical tourism in the Zimbabwe, Ms Maholtra said that IHD Marketplace Inc. envisages to supply Pharmaceutical and Surgical materials to Zimbabwe from India. “These initiatives are very important in the sense that they ensure affordable-to-all and high quality public health facilities to the majority of Zimbabwean citizens” This is in line with her work as the Executive Director of UNSDG Health Partnership, where she oversees the drug access, vaccines and pharmaceuticals supplies at affordable prices in low and lower middle-income countries like Zimbabwe. This is not the first time Ms Malhotra has shown her unconditional commitment towards the improvement of healthcare in Zimbabwe.</p> <p>&nbsp;In the past, Ms Malhotra, on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Childcare led successful price negotiations with global pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of medicines and vaccinations to Zimbabwe. More so, she is involved in the conceptualizing and rollout of Zimbabwe Presidential Fund, which was launched in New York in September 2019 during the 74th UN General Assembly. The fund is also dedicated to improve access to essentials medicines for the most vulnerable population and by strengthening primary care, enable the communities to better manage the growing burden of NCDs. In return, the First Lady expressed her gratitude to IHD Marketplace Inc. for bringing these essential healthcare initiatives to Zimbabwe. She highlighted that the promotion of national healthcare has been at the centre of the President and government’s top priorities. “As a country we have encountered challenges in our health sector. Zimbabwe is under sanctions and this has had negative impact on the country’s health sector. Also, currently we do not manufacture medicines”, the First Lady said. These health challenges have been exacerbated by the emergence of Covid-19, which has affected Zimbabwe since March 2020. “As such, the IHD Marketplace Inc. has come at the right time, where various efforts are being put in place to improve the wellbeing of citizens”, she added.</p> <p>The First Lady further said that Zimbabwe is home to several traditional herbs and medicinal plants, which, IHD Marketplace Inc. and the Angel of Hope Foundation can collaborate on and manufacture various pharmaceutical drugs. “Through my work as the Patron of the Angel of Hope Foundation, I have to come to realise that women in Zimbabwe have expertise in different areas and are willing to learn new things that give them a living such as adding value and processing of traditional herbs into drugs”, the First Lady said. There is indeed a huge potential for investment in traditional herbs and the coming in of IHD will go a long way in promoting the health system of the country.</p> <p>The idea of promoting medical tourism in the Zimbabwe, with the country becoming a SADC region Hub endowed with state-of-the-art multispecialty medical facilities, also caught the First Lady’s interest. She expressed her eagerness in seeing Victoria Falls becoming a medical tourist destination apart from just focusing on selling the majestic waterfalls, as it is now a City. President Emmerson Mnangagwa proclaimed Victoria Falls a city through Statutory Instrument 285 of 2020. Thus, the coming in of IHD Marketplace Inc. to promote medical tourism in Victoria Falls is well-timed and desirable.</p> <p>Ms Chitwan and Amai Mnagagwa ended by pledging to work hand-in-glove towards seeing improved provision of adequate and quality healthcare to the majority of Zimbabwe.</p> Sat Dec 19 20:32:18 IST 2020 Mapping-the-Journey-of-Life-Leadership-Coach-Dr-Paras <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The awareness around mental health and gaining emotional strength was a subject that rarely found the center focus a couple of decades ago. Subjects such as these were considered taboo and a stigma for those who experienced mental health issues. People continued to live their lives on an auto-pilot mode, with little or no guidance on elevating their mental health.</p> <p>Born on 14th April 1984 and known as Sangharsh S. Daithankar in his early days, Dr. Paras has been an exceptional person on a mission (since his teenage years). He was raised in a modest environment and was always keen to explore the complexities of the human mind. His thirst for knowledge was infinite, so he plunged into securing a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy and Counseling at IBMS, Chittor (2008-2010). This gave him the knowledge to expand his own understanding of the human mind while learning complex philosophies and their application in counseling. He soon followed this with a PGDM in Business Administration and Management at Merc Institute of Management (2010-2012). He simultaneously enrolled for the Executive Program in Human Resource Management with the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (2011-2012) while studying for a Master’s Degree in Philosophy at the University of Pune (2009-2013). His thirst for understanding the psychology of the human mind inspired him to pursue a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior at the Maharshi University of Informational Technology (2014-2018).</p> <p>Dr. Paras soon realized the need for the human mind to expand their vision to be able to achieve their dreams and goals. His interest in mental health and coaching grew as he had the inner calling of being a catalyst for change in a world that was still waking up to mental health and coaching. He armed himself with further certifications such as the Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) in April 2017, and Master Practitioner (MP) at the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) in February 2018. He used coaching strategies to transform the lives of over 1.5 lakh individuals and trained 240+ coaches for ICF Coach Certified Programs in his 16+ years of experience.</p> <p>Being intrigued with the power of the subconscious mind, Dr. Paras trained further with Dr. Richard Bandler for certification in Neuro-linguistic Programming (2018-2019). He completed 4 levels of NLP Mastery and now offers the power of NLP through his coaching sessions. He also explored Mindfulness techniques and deeply connected them with theories of the western and eastern philosophies. He realized these learnings when combined together, create a powerful space to initiate a change within.</p> <p>Dr. Paras founded a coaching firm named ‘Matrrix’ in 2016 while establishing a not-for-profit named ‘Tava-Mitram’. With his rising popularity and presence across the globe, Dr. Paras offers free group coaching for mental health particularly to those having no access to</p> <p>self-improvement. He considers this to be an expression of gratitude for being able to pursue his learnings despite modest beginnings. His vision to build an emotionally strong world continues with his exploration of continuous studies and international certifications. Today, Dr. Paras is firmly established as a leading coach and mentor. He has come a long way from his life in Mumbai to inspiring people globally. This itself is a testimony to the power of using mind techniques to overcome challenges while mastering life.</p> <p>Dr. Paras is also a proud recipient of international awards. His most recent award has been the prestigious ‘Global Coach of the Year Award’ by EMCC (2019-2020), Paris. He is also the receiver of the ‘Young Leader Award’ by International Coaching Federation (ICF) for the year 2018, USA. He has been bestowed the title of ‘Mindfulness Coach of the Year’ by the World HRD Congress, Mumbai (2018-2019) and the ‘Mentor Coach of the Year’ by the Golden Globe Tigers, Malaysia in 2018.</p> <p>Dr. Paras currently resides in Pune, (Maharashtra) India while continuing to inspire, empower and transform individuals the world over. Dr. Paras has recently founded ‘Dr.</p> <p>P aras Wellness Pvt. Ltd’ to spread the reach of coaching, counseling, training, mentoring,</p> <p>m ental health, and more.</p> Sat Dec 19 20:32:22 IST 2020 ril-bp-begin-production-from-asias-deepest-gas-field <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Reliance Industries and its British partner BP have finally started production from the&nbsp;<a href="">R Cluster</a>, an ultra-deep-water gas field in the KG D6 block in the Bay of Bengal off the east coast of India.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>RIL and BP are developing three deepwater gas projects in block KG D6—R Cluster, Satellites Cluster and MJ—which together are expected to meet 15 per cent of India’s gas demand by 2023.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>R Cluster is the first of the three projects to come on stream. Located at a water depth of greater than 2,000 meters, it is the deepest offshore gas field in Asia. The field is located about 60 kilometres from the existing KG D6 Control &amp; Riser Platform (CRP) off the Kakinada coast and comprises a subsea production system tied back to CRP via a subsea pipeline.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The production from this cluster was expected to begin earlier this year but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown that was announced in April.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Up until March 2020, all projects have been ahead of schedule. However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns have presented unprecedented constraints in the execution of these deepwater projects,” Reliance had said in its annual report.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The field is expected to reach plateau gas production of about 12.9 million standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd) in 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“This is a significant milestone in India's energy landscape, for a cleaner and greener gas-based economy. Through our deep-water infrastructure in the Krishna Godavari basin we expect to produce gas and meet the growing clean energy requirements of the nation,” said Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of RIL.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the production has begun from the R Cluster, the next project, the Satellites Cluster, is expected to come onstream in 2021, followed by the MJ project in 2022, the company said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Peak gas production from the three fields is expected to be around 30 mmscmd by 2023, which is expected to be about 25 per cent of India’s domestic production and will help reduce the country’s dependence on imported gas, added RIL. The two companies had already committed an additional $5 billion towards monetising the reserves from the three projects.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“This start-up is another example of the possibility of our partnership with Reliance, bringing the best of both companies to help meet India’s rapidly expanding energy needs,” said Bernard Looney, chief executive of BP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier in February this year, RIL and BP ceased production from D1, D3 field in the KG D6 block. The D1 D3 field was India’s first deepwater gas field, where production had begun in April 2009. The field would have ceased production in 2015 due to issues of reservoir pressure and water ingress.</p> Fri Dec 18 18:07:40 IST 2020 mg-motor-india-to-hike-prices-up-to-3-from-january <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>MG Motor India on Friday said it will increase prices of its vehicles by up to three per cent from January to offset the adverse impact of higher input cost. The company also said it will introduce a seven-seater version of its Hector Plus model next month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a statement, MG Motor India said it would "undertake a price revision across its product range in view of the miscellaneous cost increase. The price hike will range up to 3 per cent, depending on the model and will be applicable from January 1, 2021."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MG Motor India currently retails three models in India Hector, ZS EV and Gloster, which are priced between Rs 12.83 lakh and Rs 35.6 lakh.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Already, other automobile manufacturers such as Maruti Suzuki India, Ford India, Mahindra and Mahindra, and Hero MotoCorp have stated that they would be increasing prices of their respective vehicles from January in order to mitigate the adverse impact of rising input costs, especially raw materials and commodity prices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Hector Plus model is currently available in the six-seater version with captain seats. The seven-seater version will further expand the portfolio of Hector SUV model.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MG Hector is available in both petrol and diesel options along with the option of a 48V hybrid variant. The petrol version also comes with a DCT (dual-clutch transmission).</p> Fri Dec 18 16:08:08 IST 2020 railways-unveils-its-draft-national-rail-plan <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>With an aim to improve its modal share of its freight business to 45 per cent in the next 10 years from 27 per cent now, Indian Railways has come out with the draft National Rail Plan, 2030. A long-term strategic plan called the National Rail Plan is made to plan infrastructural capacity enhancement along with strategies to increase modal share of the Railways.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While spelling out the National Rail Plan, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav said it will be a common platform for all future infrastructural, business and financial planning of the Railways. The plan is being circulated among various Ministries and other stakeholders for their views now and Railways aims to finalise the final plan by January 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The objective of the Plan is to create capacity ahead of demand by 2030, which in turn would cater to growth in demand right up to 2050 and also increase the modal share of Railways from 27 per cent currently to 45 per cent in freight by 2030 as part of a national commitment to reduce Carbon emission and to continue to sustain it. Net Zero Carbon emission by 2030," Yadav said while adding that national transporter aims to reduce overall cost of rail transportation by nearly 30 per cent and pass on the benefits to customers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Railways, to assess the actual demand in freight and passenger sectors, a year-long survey was conducted over hundred representative locations by survey teams spread all over the country. And forecast growth of traffic in both freight and passenger year on year up to 2030 and on a decadal basis up to 2050.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Officials maintained that plan is to formulate strategies based on both operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives to increase modal share of the Railways in freight to 45 per cent by 2030. And reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing average speed of freight trains from present 22 kmph to 50 kmph.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>National Rail Plan is also to map the growth in demand on the Indian Railway route map and simulate the capacity behaviour of the network in future. "Select projects along with appropriate technology in both track work, signalling and rolling stock to mitigate these bottlenecks well in advance," Yadav added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Post 2030, the revenue surplus generated would be adequate to finance future capital investment and also take the burden of debt service ratio of the capital already invested. Exchequer funding of Rail projects would not be required," an official added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As a subset of draft plan, railway ministry has also prepared a vision plan for the next four years. The capital expenditure for this is ₹2.9 trillion. Vision 2024 has been launched for accelerated implementation of certain critical projects in next four years such as 100 per cent electrification, multitracking of congested routes, upgradation of speed to 160 kmph on Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, upgradation of speed to 130kmph on all other Golden Quadilateral-Golden Diagonal (GQ/GD) routes and elimination of all Level Crossings on all GQ/GD route, according to Indian Railways.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Railways said that future projects for implementation beyond 2024 in both track and signalling have been identified with clear cut timelines for implementation. Like, three Dedicated Freight Corridors, namely East Coast, East-West &amp; North-South identified along with timelines. Preliminary Engineering-cum-Tramc Survey is already underway in this regard.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Besides, several new high speed rail corridors have also been identified. "Survey on Delhi-Varanasi High Speed Rail already under way," official said. Moreover, assessment of rolling stock requirement for passenger traffic as well as wagon requirement for freight and to assess locomotive requirement to meet twin objectives of 100 per cent electrification (Green Energy) by December 2023 and also the increasing traffic right up to 2030 and beyond up to 2050.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"For successful implementation of the National Rail Plan, the Railways will be looking to engage with Private Sector, PSUs, State Governments and Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEM)/Industries," Railways official statement said while adding that efforts are on to identify new streams of finance and models for financing including those based on PPP (Public-Private partnership).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moreover, sustained involvement of the Private Sector in areas like operations and ownership of rolling stock, development of freight and passenger terminals, development and operations of track infrastructure.</p> Fri Dec 18 18:59:15 IST 2020 the-chinese-puzzle-govts-dilemma-over-trusted-telecom-equipment-provider <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The tough talk has been done. But is there a slip between the cup and the lip when it comes to walking the talk? Offhand incidents since the government made the great leap of forming a National Security Committee on Telecom (NSCT) seems to show a polity struck between trust and need.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the cabinet committee on security approved the formation of NSCT to be headed by Deputy National Security Advisor Datta Padsalgikar (there are two other Dy NSAs, too), members from ministries concerned, two members from the industry as well as an independent expert. Its main task will be to certify ‘trusted sources’ from which Indian telecom operators can source ‘secure’ equipment. More importantly, the NSCT will also draw up a list of ‘designated sources’ from whom no procurement can be done, widely interpreted as a means to keep Chinese companies like Huawei out.</p> <p>Right after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, IT &amp; Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said the move was made “considering the need to ensure India’s national security…to maintain integrity of supply chain security.” However, Prasad and his ministry were left red-faced when it turned out that even while a national security directive was being issued, the DoT’s Telecommunications Engineering Centre had already issued permission to Huawei India to conduct testing its gear.</p> <p>As the news broke, the telecom ministry went into damage control, transferring a top official and suspending the testing certificate to Huawei with immediate effect.</p> <p>That’s not all. There are already concerted moves in the corridors of power to circumvent the new security moves. One line of thinking is that there may not be a blanket ban on Chinese providers, but only for critical components that handle and store the communication data. Arguments from a section of the industry, as well as some in government are that since communication data on the upcoming 5G network is transmitted encrypted, only the network element where the data is stored is sensitive, and the only area from which companies that do not come in the ‘trusted sources’ list need to be kept out.</p> <p>The reason for such a push is not surprising. Not only are the Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE major suppliers to Indian telecom operators Airtel and Vi (Jio apparently uses Samsung), they are considered as having the most cutting edge, as well as cost effective, technology for 5G as well as other upcoming telecom infrastructure. For example, Europe’s Ericsson may be a worthy rival in 5G gear, but could work out to be more expensive.</p> <p>Both Huawei and Ericsson did not respond to THE WEEK’s queries.</p> <p>“Currently, the telecom industry is heavily dependent on Chinese manufacturers,” points out Ratish Pandey, business coach with Ethique Advisory. “Moreover, the future 5G technology is led strongly by Chinese companies. If the Chinese manufacturers are ruled out, it is likely to have serious implications on the telecom sector, both in terms of cost and time lost.”</p> <p>As Pandey points out, any further delay in 5G roll-out will “hamper significantly the post-pandemic digitisation by Indian organisations.”</p> <p>Kazim Rizvi, founder of the think-tank The Dialogue was more circumspect in an earlier interview, where he surmised, “Considering how 5G will be a bedrock of India’s plans for smart cities, transport and infrastructure, we need a strategic approach.”</p> <p>Gift of the gab aside, Modi government now has the difficult choice of demonstrating that its actions speak louder than its words.</p> Fri Dec 18 20:43:00 IST 2020 Vistara-allows-passengers-to-book-tickets-directly-on-Google <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Vistara said on Friday that the passengers could now directly search and book tickets on its flights using Google.<br> <br> The passengers will not be directed to any other website while booking the tickets using the integrated 'Book on Google' feature, the airline said in a statement.<br> <br> &quot;We are sure that this new 'Book on Google' feature will enable an even more hassle-free experience and bring greater convenience to our customers,&quot; Vistara chief commercial officer Vinod Kannan said.<br> <br> The airline said this new feature has been made possible through a technology partnership with Amadeus. Fri Dec 18 13:57:06 IST 2020 sensex-opens-at-record-high-turns-choppy-as-banks-drag <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Equity benchmark Sensex opened on a choppy note on Friday as profit-booking emerged at fresh highs in early trade amid persistent foreign fund inflows.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Opening at its lifetime intra-day high of 47,026.02, the 30-share BSE index pared the gains to trade 141.30 points or 0.30 per cent lower at 46,749.04.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty slipped 44.90 points or 0.33 per cent to 13,695.80. It hit a high of 13,713.55 in early trade. It touched an intra-day high of 13,771.45.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ONGC was the top laggard in the Sensex pack, shedding around 3 per cent, followed by IndusInd Bank, HDFC twins, Bajaj Finance and Kotak Bank. On the other hand, Infosys, HCL Tech, TCS, Nestle India and Bajaj Auto were among the gainers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the previous session, Sensex settled 223.88 points or 0.48 per cent up at 46,890.34 -- its new closing record. NSE Nifty also rose 58 points or 0.42 per cent to a new closing high of 13,740.70.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 2,355.25 crore on a net basis on Thursday, according to provisional exchange data.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to traders, profit-booking has emerged at higher levels. Domestic equities continue to look firm and resilient. A record FPIs flows remain a key driving force for the market, said Binod Modi, Head- Strategy at Reliance Securities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Strong prospects of earnings recovery, satisfactory progress on vaccination along with consistent improvement in recovery rate from COVID-19 cases, weak dollar and depressed interest rate scenario continue to act as key tailwinds for Indian equities to attract FPIs flows," he noted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Going forward, while markets continue to look buoyant on its underlying strengths, rich valuations and rise in input costs may act as key threats for a broad-based rally, he added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>US markets finished at record highs as Congressional leaders look close to finalising fiscal stimulus to support businesses and individuals hit by resurgence of COVID-19, he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He further stated that the dollar index slipped below from the 90 level, which continues to bode well for emerging markets including India. Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai and Seoul were trading on a positive note in mid-session deals, while Hong Kong and Tokyo were in the red.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude futures were trading 0.23 per cent lower at $51.38 per barrel.&nbsp;</p> Fri Dec 18 12:19:53 IST 2020