Category Archives: Business

Swami Vivekanand: the eternal guiding force

Tapan Misra

I wonder why God gave such a short life to a beautiful mind that has no parallel. It is unbelievable what this great man could achieve in such a short span of life – just 39 years.

Today is the 159th birth Anniversary of the Swamiji who continues to inspire generation after generation to rise for action instead of passivity. I feel blessed that my parents gave me an opportunity to spend my formative years in the environments of his teachings in the Ashramas of the Ramakrishna Mission Order, he established. I still cherish the most wonderful years I spent in his eternal glow.

I believe the following few quotes from the treasure trove of Swami Vivekananda’s lectures, writings, letters can be the guiding principles of any aspiring leader in any field of human activity. They summarise all the tomes that have been taught in the management schools all around the world.

“Take Risks in your life If you win, you can lead! If you lose, you can guide!”

“In a day, when you don’t come across any problems- you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path”

“In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart”

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced”

“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves”


The author, Tapan Misra is a distinguished scientist, who has been Director of India’s Space Applications Centre. Given his leading contribution, he can be called the father of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and the S-band technology that’s at the core of NISAR, the joint Mission of NASA and ISRO scheduled for launch in 2023.

PM Modi for creating synergies for seamless credit flow and economic growth

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has said the reforms initiated by his government in the banking sector in the last 6-7 years, have supported the banking sector in every way, due to which the banking sector of the country is in a very strong position today.

The Prime Minister said ways were found to address the problems and challenges 2014 onwards. “We addressed the problem of NPAs, recapitalized banks and increased their strength. We brought reforms like IBC, reformed many laws and empowered debt recovery tribunal. A dedicated Stressed Asset Management Vertical was also formed in the country during the Corona period” Modi said.

Prime Minister Modi was addressing the concluding session of the conference on ‘Creating Synergies for Seamless Credit Flow and Economic Growth’ via video conference.

The Prime Minister said today, “Indian banks are strong enough to play a major role in imparting fresh energy to the country’s economy, for giving a big push and making India self-reliant. I consider this phase as a major milestone in the banking sector of India”. Steps taken in the recent years have created a strong capital base for the banks. Banks have sufficient liquidity and no backlog for provisioning of NPAs as NPA in public sector banks is at the lowest in the last five years. This has led to upgrading of outlook for the Indian Banks by the International agencies, the Prime Minister pointed out. The Prime Minister said apart from being a milestone, this phase is also a new starting point and asked the banking sector to support wealth creators and Job creators. “It is the need of the hour that now the banks of India work proactively to bolster the wealth sheet of the country along with their balance sheets”, the Prime Minister stressed.


Five important transitions taking place in India

It is important that all democratic nations work together on crypto-currency and ensure it does not end up in wrong hands, which can spoil our youth

The biggest strength of democracy is openness. At the same time, we should not allow a few vested interests to misuse this openness

India’s digital revolution is rooted in our democracy, our demography, and the scale of our economy

We use data as a source of empowerment of people. India has unmatched experience in doing this in a democratic framework with strong guarantees of individual rights

India’s democratic traditions are old; its modern institutions are strong. And, we have always believed in the world as one family

Gives a roadmap for democracies to work together that recognizes national rights and, at the same time, promote trade, investment and larger public good

– Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion at the inaugural Sydney Dialogue via video conferencing on 18 November 2021. 


The Prime Minister emphasized the need to proactively serve the customers and asked the banks to provide customised solutions to customers, companies and MSMEs after analyzing their needs. The Prime Minister urged the banks to do away with the feeling that they are approver and the customer is an applicant, they are giver and client a receiver. Banks will have to adopt the model of partnership, the Prime Minister emphasized . He praised the banking sector for their enthusiasm in implementing Jan Dhan Scheme.

The Prime Minister said that banks should feel stakes in the growth of all the stakeholders and proactively get involved in the growth story. He gave an example of PLI where  the government is doing the same by giving the Indian manufacturers an incentive on production. Under the PLI scheme the manufacturers have been incentivized to increase their capacity manifold and transform themselves into  global companies. Banks can play a big role in making projects viable through their support and expertise, said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister said that due to major changes that have taken place in the country and the schemes that have been implemented, a huge pool of data has been created in the country. The Prime Minister said  that the banking sector must take advantage of this. He listed the opportunities presented by the flagship schemes like PM Awas Yojana, Swamiva, and Svanidhi and asked the banks to participate and play their role in these schemes

Speaking on the overall impact of financial inclusion, Shri Modi said that when the country is working so hard on financial inclusion, it is very important to unlock the productive potential of the citizens. He gave an example of a recent research  by the banking sector itself where more Jan Dhan accounts are opened in the states have led to reduction in  the crime rate. Similarly, the Prime Minister said the scale at which corporates and start-ups are coming forward today is unprecedented.  “In such a situation, what can be a better time to strengthen, fund, invest in India’s aspirations?” the Prime Minister asked.

The Prime Minister called upon the banking sector to move by attaching themselves with national goals and promises. He praised the proposed  initiative of web based project funding tracker to bring together ministries and and banks. He suggested that it will be better if it is added to the GatiShakti Portal as an interface. He wished that in the  ‘Amrit Kaal’ of independence, the Indian banking sector will move with big thinking and Innovative approach.

Link Legal advised Air India in its strategic disinvestment

Newsroom24x7 Network

Link Legal advised Air India Limited, the national carrier of India in its disinvestment transaction, pursuant to which the Government of India transferred its stake in Air India Limited, Air India Express Limited and Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited to Tata Sons through a competitive tendering process.

The team from Link Legal was led by Nusrat Hassan (Co-Managing Partner), Anand SrivastavaAnuj TrivediMilind JhaSanjay Gupta and Bhalchandra Palav (Partners) who were supported by Rajan DubeyAditya Bhardwaj and Neha Singh (Associate Partners), Shailender Sharma, Akshay Bhagchandani and Kashish Arora (Principal Associates), Aditi Sharma and Yasmeen Sabir (Senior Associates) and Anjali Sharma, Nikhil Jain and Aniket Dighe (Associates).

Source: Link Legal

India gets Asia’s longest and world’s fifth longest High Speed Track for automobiles

Newsroom24x7 Network

India destined to become an auto manufacturing hub in coming years: Prakash Javadekar

Indore: Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday 29 June inaugurated NATRAX- the High Speed Track (HST) in Indore. This is the longest such track in Asia.

NATRAX, developed in an area of 1000 acres of land, is a one stop solution for all sorts of high speed performance tests for widest categories of vehicles from 2 wheelers to heavy tractor trailers.

23andMe shares start trading on Nasdaq

Newsroom24x7 Network

New York City: 23andMe, Inc., a leading consumer genetics and research company, and VG Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: VGAC), a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by Virgin Group, on Wednesday 16 June, announced the completion of their previously announced business combination. The transaction, which was approved on June 10, 2021 by VG Acquisition Corp.’s shareholders, uniquely positions 23andMe to revolutionize personalized healthcare and therapeutic development through human genetics. The combined company is called 23andMe Holding Co. that began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (“Nasdaq”) today, June 17, 2021 under the new ticker symbol “ME”.

The public debut comes after 23andMe and the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) VG Acquisition Corp. announced a merger earlier this year. The deal valued 23andMe’s outstanding shares of capital stock at $3.5 billion.

23andMe raised approximately $592 million in gross proceeds to fuel growth and expansion in the company’s consumer health and therapeutics businesses. Capital from the transaction will also be used to invest in the Company’s unique genetic and phenotypic database to help accelerate personalized healthcare at scale. CEO Anne Wojcicki and 23andMe’s management team will continue to lead the combined company.

“23andMe was founded to revolutionize healthcare by empowering people with direct access to their DNA,” said Anne Wojcicki, CEO and Co-Founder of 23andMe. “Over 11 million people have joined 23andMe and are part of the community that is using genetics to transform how we diagnose, treat and prevent human disease. As we enter the next phase as a public company, we have the opportunity to expand our impact by bringing personalized healthcare directly to everyone.”

“As one of the earliest investors in 23andMe, I’ve long believed in its vision to transform the future of healthcare,” said Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder. “I’ve seen first-hand the transformative impact 23andMe has in paving the way for many more people to be proactive about their health and wellbeing. There are huge growth opportunities ahead, and with Anne and the rest of the incredible management team at the helm, I’m confident they will continue to innovate and disrupt the industry, creating a lasting impact on many people’s lives. We look forward to continuing our partnership as 23andMe begins life as a public company.”

As part of the business combination, Evan Lovell, Chief Investment Officer of Virgin Group and Chief Financial Officer of VG Acquisition Corp., and Peter Taylor, President of ECMC Foundation, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to educational attainment for low-income students and former Chief Financial Officer for the University of California system, will join the 23andMe Board of Directors (the “Board”). Lovell and Taylor will join existing directors Roelof Botha, Patrick Chung, Richard Scheller, Neal Mohan and Anne Wojcicki on the Board.

Advisors
Citi served as lead financial advisor, capital markets advisor, and placement agent to 23andMe. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP served as legal counsel to 23andMe.

Credit Suisse acted as lead financial advisor, capital markets advisor and placement agent to VG Acquisition Corp. LionTree Advisors acted as financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as legal counsel to VG Acquisition Corp.

About 23andMe
23andMe, Inc., headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, is a leading consumer genetics and research company. Founded in 2006, 23andMe’s mission is to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. 23andMe has pioneered direct access to genetic information as the only company with multiple Food and Drug Administration authorizations for genetic health risk reports. 23andMe has created the world’s largest crowdsourced platform for genetic research, with 80% of its customers electing to participate. The 23andMe research platform has generated more than 180 publications on the genetic underpinnings of a wide range of diseases, conditions, and traits. The platform also powers the 23andMe therapeutics group, currently pursuing drug discovery programs rooted in human genetics across a spectrum of disease areas, including oncology, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases, in addition to other therapeutic areas.

Government of India condemns statement by Twitter; tells the social network giant to comply with the laws of the land

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: The Government of India on Thursday 27 May condemned a statement released in the public domain by Twitter in the strongest terms.

Countering Twitter and its claims, the Government of India issued a statement which said “India has a glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices dating back centuries. Protecting free speech in India is not the prerogative of only a private, for-profit, foreign entity like Twitter, but it is the commitment of the world’s largest democracy and its robust institutions.”

Further, Government of India has stated:

“Twitter’s statement is an attempt to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy. Through its actions and deliberate defiance, Twitter seeks to undermine India’s legal system. Furthermore, Twitter refuses to comply with those very regulations in the Intermediary Guidelines on the basis of which it is claiming a safe harbour protection from any criminal liability in India.

The larger question is, if Twitter is so committed then why it did not set up such a mechanism in India on its own?Twitter representatives in India routinely claim that they have no authority and that they and the people of India need to escalate everything to the Twitter Headquarter in USA. The purported commitment of Twitter, to its Indian user base, thus not only sounds hollow but completely self-serving.

Twitter has a large user base in India, it earns significant revenue from its Indian operations but is also the most reluctant to appoint an India based grievance redressal officer and mechanism, chief compliance officer and nodal officer to whom its own users can complain, when they are subjected to offensive Tweets.

The Rules empower the ordinary users who become victims of defamation, morphed images, sexual abuse and the whole range of other abusive content in blatant violation of law, to seek redress.

These Rules were finalized after widest possible consultations including with representatives of social media platforms. Ministry of Electronics and IT put the draft Rules in public domain and invited public comments. The Ministry received large number of comments from individuals, civil society, industry associations and organizations. A significant number of counter comments to these comments were also received. There are also various judicial orders by various courts including the Supreme Court of India directing the Government to take appropriate steps. There are also several Parliamentary debates and recommendations to take appropriate measures.

Freedom of Speech and Expression is a Fundamental Right under the Indian Constitution. The Government of India respects the right of people to ask questions and also criticize on these social media platforms including on Twitter. The Government equally respects the right of privacy. However, the only instance  of scuttling free speech on Twitter is Twitter itself and its opaque policies, as a result of which people’s accounts are suspended and tweets deleted arbitrarily without recourse.

Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land. Law making and policy formulations is the sole prerogative of the sovereign and Twitter is just a social media platform and it has no locus in dictating what should India’s legal policy framework should be.

Twitter has claimed that it is committed to the people of India. Ironically, this commitment of Twitter has been most invisible in recent times. It is pertinent to share some recent examples:

  • Twitter chose to show the geo-location of certain locations in Union Territory of Ladakh as part of People’s Republic of China at a time when India and China were engaged in peaceful resolution of border related issues through bilateral dialogue. Twitter took several days, that too only after repeated reminders, to rectify this blatant disrespect to India’s sensitivity and territorial integrity.
  • Twitter chose to take suo-moto action against those users who it considered as perpetrators of violence at the Capitol Hill in the USA. But, just a few days after the unlawful incidents on Red Fort in Delhi, Twitter refused to take prompt action on the lawful request made by the Government of India to block contents that sought to incite violence on the pretext of a fake genocide plan. Later, it chose to comply, that too partially, .when the damage had been done.
  • Twitter’s lack of responsibility has led to rampant proliferation of fake and harmful content against India and Indians. Promoting vaccine hesitancy has been rampantly done through the use of Twitter platform and yet Twitter has taken no action. Is this commitment to the people of India?
  • Discriminatory behavior has been practiced against Indiansand people of Indian origin because of malicious tagging of B.1.617 mutant as ‘Indian variant’ name despite strict WHO guidelines against it. Again, Twitter has taken no action against such fake narratives and Tweets while grandiosely claiming to serve the people of India.

Twitter Inc., a USA based private company, in its communique says that it seeks “constructive dialogue”, “collaborative approach” from the government of a sovereign democratic republic to “safeguard interests of the public”. It is time that Twitter disabuses itself of this grandiosity and comply with the laws of India. 

The Government also wishes to emphatically assure that representatives of social media companies including Twitter are and will always remain safe in India and there is no threat to their personal safety and security.

Government condemns the unfortunate statement issued by Twitter as totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India to hide their own follies.

The Delhi Police has also issued a detailed press release, pertaining to an ongoing investigation, which answer the completely baseless allegations raised by Twitter.”

Tweet by Twitter India

Twitter India earlier on Thursday tweeted that in order to keep their service available, they will strive to comply with applicable law in India.

Further, they said: “Twitter is deeply committed to the people of India. Our service has proven vital for the public conversation and a source of support for people during the pandemic.”

Reliance Industries to become India’s largest producer of medical grade liquid oxygen from single location

Newsroom24x7 Network


RIL PRODUCES OVER 11% OF INDIA’S TOTAL PRODUCTION OF MEDICAL GRADE LIQUID OXYGEN – MEETING THE NEEDS OF NEARLY EVERY ONE IN TEN PATIENTS
• RIL RAMPS UP PRODUCTION OF MEDICAL GRADE LIQUID OXYGEN FROM NEAR- ZERO TO 1000 MT PER DAY FREE OF CHARGE
• 1000 MT OF OXYGEN TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OVER 1 LAKH PEOPLE EVERY DAY ON AN AVERAGE
• CHAIRMAN MUKESH AMBANI PERSONALLY SUPERVISING SCALE-UP OF PRODUCTION AND TRANSPORTATION AT JAMNAGAR
• IN APRIL 2021, RELIANCE SUPPLIED OVER 15,000 MT OF MEDICAL GRADE LIQUID OXYGEN FREE OF COST – HELPING NEARLY 15 LAKH PATIENTS
• RELIANCE AIRLIFTED 24 ISO CONTAINERS FOR TRANSPORTING OXYGEN – CREATING AN ADDITIONAL 500 MT OF TRANSPORTATION CAPACITY FOR INDIA.


Mumbai:: As India grapples with an unprecedented new wave of the Covid pandemic, Reliance Industries has risen to the occasion by making an all-out effort to save precious lives.

A critical need of the hour is assured availability of medical grade liquid oxygen for treatment of severely ill patients across the country.

Traditionally, Reliance is not a manufacturer of medical grade liquid oxygen. Yet, starting from Nil before the pandemic, Reliance Industries has now become India’s largest producer of this life-saving resource from a single location.

At its refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Jamnagar and other facilities, RIL now produces over 1000 MT of medical grade liquid oxygen per day — or over 11% of India’s total production – meeting the needs of nearly every one in ten
patients.

Under the personal supervision of Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, at Jamnagar, Reliance has adopted a two-pronged approach to strengthen the availability of medical oxygen in India.

  1. Refocusing several industrial processes at Reliance’s Jamnagar and other facilities for rapid scale-up in production of medical grade liquid oxygen.
  2. Augmenting loading and transportation capacities to ensure its swift and safe supply to States and Union Territories across India. Enhancing production of Medical Grade Oxygen at Reliance facilities.

  • Prior to this pandemic, Reliance was not a manufacturer of medical grade liquid oxygen. However, RIL engineers quickly reconfigured and optimised current operations – designed for Refining and Petrochemicals grade oxygen – to produce high-purity medical grade oxygen.
  • Medical grade liquid oxygen has to be produced in liquid form at -183°C with almost 99.5% purity, which poses extraordinary challenges and risks in production and maximising tonnage.
  • Reliance engineers worked tirelessly and, through process optimisation and modifications of Cryogenic Air Separation Units, were able maximise production of medical grade liquid oxygen in a very short span of time.
  • Reliance has now been able to ramp up its production of medical grade oxygen from ZERO to 1000 MT per day, constituting more than 11% of the country’s total medical grade liquid oxygen production.
  • This oxygen is being provided free-of-cost to several State Governments across the country to bring immediate relief to over 1 lakh patients on a daily basis.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Reliance has supplied over 55,000 MT of medical grade liquid oxygen across the country. Ensuring swift supply of Oxygen across States and Union territories
  • In addition to the production of high-quality medical grade liquid oxygen, the other challenge has been to quickly overcome the transportation bottleneck in supply of liquid oxygen to various parts of the country. This necessitated increasing the loading capacity for its safe and quick transportation.
  • To achieve this, Reliance engineers made smart logistical modifications to rail and road transport, such as laying parallel lines, using hoses, and loading up liquid tankers through pressure differential, since liquid oxygen pumps cannot be installed at short notice.
  • In another innovation, Reliance converted nitrogen tankers into transport trucks for medical grade oxygen, through innovative and safe processes that were approved by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO), the relevant regulatory body of the Government of India.
  • Reliance organised the airlifting of 24 ISO containers into India from Saudi Arabia, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Thailand adding 500 MT of new transportation capacity for liquid Oxygen. These ISO containers will help in removing the transport constraints for medical grade liquid Oxygen in the country. In addition, Reliance is airfreighting more ISO containers over the next few days.
  • RIL has offered sincere thanks to Aramco, BP and IAF for their immense help in providing and transporting ISO containers to help the country in its battle against Covid.

Commenting on these initiatives, Mukesh Ambani said: “For me and for all of us at Reliance, nothing is more important than saving every life as India battles against a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an immediate need to maximise India’s production and transportation capacities for medical grade oxygen. I am proud of our engineers at Jamnagar who have worked tirelessly, with a great sense of patriotic urgency, to meet this new challenge. I am truly humbled by the determination and sense of purpose shown by the bright, young members of the Reliance family who have once again risen to the occasion and delivered when India needs it the most.”

Ms. Nita Ambani, Founder-Chairperson of Reliance Foundation, said: “Our country is going through an unprecedented crisis. We at Reliance Foundation will continue to do everything we can to help. Every life is precious. Our plants at our Jamnagar refinery have been repurposed overnight to produce medical grade liquid oxygen that is being distributed across India. Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow countrymen and women. Together, we will overcome these difficult times.”

COVID -19 Pandemic: Pressure mounts from different sectors on GoI and RBI on OTR of all loans

Lalit Shastri

The One-Time Restructuring, (OTR), was intended to provide relief to industry and help overcome the economic crisis due to COVID-19. To provide relief, it is imperative to first understand the concerns, as all industries have their own nuances, which has not been done by the Kamath Committee. This Committee only met with representatives of 3 industries, but prescribed remedies for 26 industries, without taking any representation from them in effect. Through this, it is clear that the entire exercise has been a mere eyewash and seemingly ineffective, which was not the intention.

The gold industry is a subset of the gems and jewellery sector. While the gems and jewellery industry has been included in the list of industries entitled for the OTR, it seems the gold industry has been excluded from the same, as the ratios prescribed are bizarre and unrealistic.

Prithviraj Kothari, National President, India Bullion and Jwellers Association (IBJA)

When the nation is at war and all are fighting a huge battle to contain the Corona Virus; when the number of COVID+ cases are surging each day after a second wave of COVID-19 has swept the entire country; when the States and Union Territories are being forced to impose lockdowns, go for containment zones and restricted attendance in office; when hospitals are gasping for oxygen and essential medicines; when casualty figures are rising; when we are struggling to vaccinate the population across all categories of people, it beats imagination that the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India have chosen to go ahead with the One Time Restricturing (OTR) of loan ratios etc. – a process that has been put in place without accepting representations from all the different sectors and providing them the expected relief.

In order to help the industry and business during the hour of crisis, the RBI had announced the formation of the Kamath Committee that formulated the norms to permit One Time Restructuring, (OTR) of all loans.

While the OTR was announced for a total of 26 sectors, the Kamath Committee only accepted representation from 3 of the sectors. Meaning thereby that remedy has been offered to 23 sectors without bothering to diagnose their ailment. Investigation regarding steps taken by the Kamath Committee to arrive at what should have been a fair and objective assessment of problems being faced by all different sectors, has exposed the sad state of affairs. In fact only 3 sectors had made representation to this Committee (as per a list of the meetings printed on the last page of the Kamath Committee Report). Unfortunately RBI has even refused to share any information about the meetings of the Kamath Committee with different sectors in response to an RTI application (copy of RBI reply is available with Newsroom24x7).

According to an unimpeachable source, in a virtual meeting with the RBI Governor, “an RBI official mentioned that this may be so due to a lack of time, which is absolutely incorrect. The meetings held by the Expert, (Kamath), Committee were over a period of 25-30 days and the meetings were initially held with gaps of 7 days, clearly showing no sense of urgency. Mr. Sunil Mehta, CEO-IBA has co-Chaired this committee and being an ex-banker, did not apply common sense to reach out to the various industries to know their problem first-hand. Sadly, it is industry that shall suffer for this oversight and irresponsible actions of these two stalwarts.”

After the first wave of COVID-19 had hit India early 2020, the RBI had announced in August 2020, a special Resolution Framework for COVID-19-related Stress. The RBI and Government had taken this step as COVID related stress had the potential to impact the long-term viability of many firms that were having a good track record under the existing promoters,as their debt burden was becoming disproportionate to their cash flow generation abilities.

RBI decided to provide a window under the Prudential Framework to enable the lenders to implement a resolution plan in respect of eligible corporate exposures without change in ownership, and personal loans, while classifying such exposures as Standard, subject to specified conditions.

Confederation of Indian Industry has demanded that the time of 180 days from the date of invocation of the OTR needs to be increased by a minimum of 90 days, if not longer, as COVID has slowed down the OTR process. Staff of borrowers are falling sick, lockdowns are not permitting valuers to visit premises, bank officials are falling sick; all of which has led to a slowdown in the working efficiencies.

The K V Kamath Expert Committee submitted the report on Resolution Framework for COVID-19 related Stress on 4 September. It has identified 26 stressed sectors with eligibility criteria related to specific financial parameters. The sectors identified for severe COVID-19 related stress and listed as eligible for the Resolution Framework for COVID-19 related stress are – Power; Construction; Iron & Steel Manufacturing; Roads; Real Estate; Trading-Wholesale; Textiles; Chemicals; Consumer Durables/FMCG; Non-ferrous Metals; Pharmaceuticals; Manufacturing; Logistics; Gems & Jewellery; Cement; Auto Components; Hotel, Restaurants, Tourism; Mining; Plastic Products Manufacturing; Automobile Manufacturing; Auto Dealership; Aviation; Sugar; Port & Port services; Shipping; Building Materials; Corporate Retail Outlets.

CII members have pointed out that some issues had been underscored by them before implementation of OTR. The Kamath committee’s recommendations submitted on 4th September state that in addition to other financial factors the defined sector specific parameters may be considered, however, RBI’s final recommendation announcement on 7 September 2020 has made it a mandatory condition that the sector-specific thresholds (ceilings or floors, as the case may be) for each of key ratios should be considered by the lending institutions.

Additionally, as per the recommendations of the Kamath Committee, the threshold TOL/Adjusted TNW and Debt/ EBIDTA ratios should be met by FY 2023 and the balance three threshold ratios should be met for each year of the projections starting from FY 2022. This has also been modified by RBI stating that all the defined 5 key ratios shall have to be maintained as per the resolution plan by March 31, 2022 as against end March 2023 as recommended by the Kamath Committee.

CII has pointed out that the timelines modified by RBI directly conflict with RBI’s September 6 Circular wherein all the ratios have to be complied with by end March 2022. Therefore, and in view of the prevailing situation, CII has asked the RBI and Government of India to extend the date of invocation to 30 June 2021 (in line with ECLGS 3.0). Also, the time period for implementation of RP be more than the allocated time of 180 days from the date of invocation of the OTR.

CLICK here for points raised with the Reserve Bank of India by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Limited

Bill introduced in RS to raise FDI in insurance sector to 74%

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: The Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on the 15 March, 2021 for amending the Insurance Act, 1938, in order to raise the limit of foreign investment in Indian insurance companies from the existing 49 per cent. to 74 per cent 

The limit of foreign investment insurance companies is being raised to achieve the objective of Government’s Foreign Direct Investment Policy of supplementing domestic long-term capital, technology and skills for the growth of the economy and the insurance sector, and thereby enhance insurance penetration and social protection.

The Insurance  Act, 1938 was enacted to consolidate and amend the law relating to business of insurance in the country. The foreign investment in insurance sector was permitted in the year 2000 by allowing the same up to 26 per cent. in an Indian insurance company. Subsequently,  vide   the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Act, 2015, this limit of foreign investment was raised to 49 per cent. of the paid-up equity capital of such company, which is Indian owned and controlled as per the rules made in this behalf.

Rahul Gandhi’s tweet against Gautam Adani blown into smithereens

Newsroom24x7 Network

In this episode of Straight Talk Newsroom24x7 Editor-in-Chief Lalit Shastri blows into smithereens a tweet by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who takes a jibe at Business leader Gautam Adani only to score a political brownie point.

Elon Musk increased his net wealth by $128.9bn, Jeff Bezos by $78.2 billion. But Gautam Adani of India has surpassed both of them in wealth creation during the COVID pandemic.

It is not Adani alone, the wealth of Indian billionaires increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown and by 90 per cent since 2009 to $422.9 billion, ranking India sixth after the US, China, Germany, Russia and France, according to an Oxfam Report released in January this year.

In fact India’s top 100 billionaires saw their fortunes increase by Rs 12.97 trillion.
Worldwide, billionaires saw their wealth increase by a staggering $3.9 trillion between March 18 and December 31, 2020.

It is noteworthy that the Adani Group is a multi-sector enterprise engaged in diverse areas that include Renewable Power Generation, Solar Manufacturing, Ports and Terminals, Logistics, Agri Logistics, Industrial Land, Power Transmission, Power Distribution, Gas Distribution, Defence and Aerospace, Edible Oil and Food Products, Fruits, Real Estate, Financial Services, Housing Finance, and Airports.

Speaking at the “JP Morgan India Summit – Future in Focus” in September 2020, Gautam Adani had projected that Indian Economy will be on top by 2050.  For the GDP freaks, he rolled out figures and pointed out that the global GDP in 1990 was $38 trillion. Today, 30 years later, it is $90 trillion. In 2050 the global GDP is expected to be about $170 trillion with india, especially due to its geostrategic position and massive market size will have the potential of becoming the second-largest economy in the world.

We all know that there has been a very deep potential impact of COVID-19 lock-down on income levels and consumer spending especially in the unorganised and tertiary sector that left a huge impact on the consumer market worldwide in the initial months of 2020. The dark clouds have continued to hover across board even thereafter for small traders, and daily wage earners. 

We also know when markets go into spin under such special circumstances, they undergo massive corrections, and new leaders drive the next surge. In the era of post liberal economy, during the closing decade of the 20th Century, it was consumption that drove the markets to a new high. We entered the new millennium with the internet and worldwide web revolution and the IT giants pumping GDP and growth. This was followed by infrastructure, banking, financial services and insurance. Now since 2020, the COVID situation has altered the markets that are now increasingly driven by the potentially higher role being played by the service utilities, chemicals, rare earths and health sectors.

Rightly, Gautam Adani with a forward looking perspective, has pointed out that Democracy cannot take a cookie-cutter, meaning thereby a typical copybook socialistic approach, In his words, “we should accept that different nations will have their own flavour of democracy and capitalism”.

Addressing the commoners on the street and the countryside, who have suffered endless poverty under successive Congress regimes right through Independence, the former Congress President Rahul Gandhi targetted Gautam Adani, with a tweet on Saturday night- 13th March.

Rahul wrote: “How much did your wealth increase in 2020? Zero. You struggle to survive while he makes rupees 12 Lakh Crore and increases his wealth by 50%. Can you tell me why?”

With this tweet, Rahul has rubbished the potential of a successful enterprise to drive national economy during tough times. For his narrow political ends, he has even stooped too low by targetting a business leader who has beaten all competiton in the global arena. What Rahul has tweeted does not stem from naivety or lack of understanding of what drives enterprise, business and economy but a very diabolic mind.

India imposes anti-dumping duty on Textured Tempered Glass imported from Malaysia and other countries

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Government of India has imposed countervailing and anti-dumping duty ranging from 9.71% to 10.14% on Textured Tempered Glass, whether coated or uncoated, imported from Malaysia or any country other than Malaysia.

Newsroom24x7 had done an exclusive news coverage on dumping of sheet glass from China in 2015. The latest imposition of anti-dumping duty is aimed at addressing the same problem that continues to raise its head on a continuous basis. Question arises, why the problem is allowed to linger on and harm the interests of domestic manufacturers. Delayed action notwithstanding, the anti-dumping duty that has now been imposed keeping Malaysia in focus would also hit China in a big way, both in the short and long run.

The gazette notification to impose the anti-dumping duty was issued on 9 March 2021. The anti-dumping duty has been imposed to protect the interests of domestic manufacturers who were suffering “material injury” as textured tempered glass was being exported to India from the at subsidized prices and also due to subsidization of the textured tempered glass by the exporting countries or by the subsidized imports of the subject goods originating in or exported from the subject country.

The present imposition of anti-dumping duty is directly linked to the matter of “Textured Tempered Glass” falling under tariff item 7007 19 00 of the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 (51 of 1975), originating in or exported from, Malaysia, and imported into India, and the final findings, of a Government of India Authority, notified through a gazette on 11 December, 2020.

The Union Finance Ministry, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-sections (1) and (6) of section 9 of the Customs Tariff Act, read with rules 20 and 22 of the Customs Tariff (Identification, Assessment and Collection of Countervailing Duty on Subsidized Articles and for Determination of Injury) Rules, 1995, after considering the final findings of the Designated Authority, in the matter of Textured Tempered Glass imported from Malaysia (or any other country) has issued the gazette notification to impose countervailing and anti-dumping duty.

Learnings from tale of two neighbours – India and China

Tapan Misra

The source of military conflict with China is complex. It is part military, part Chinese desire of redrawing of Chinese territory, commensurate with their perceived and concocted historical Chinese sway and probably more importantly, Chinese desire to restrict India to low end manufacturing and dominantly consumer market. Both the countries, with their similar population (India 1.3 billion and China 1.44 billion) and burgeoning and wealthier middle-class, are lucrative markets to each other and also other industrial nations.

I have sourced from World Bank data the growth of per capita GDP of both the neighbours, presented in equal footing of US$2010. If we have a look into per capita GDP of both the neighbouring nations, both countries were almost at par in poverty status in sixties and seventies. Both the countries, China under rigorous communist regime and India with hybrid of democratic and socialistic framework, established quite strong scientific base in terms of academic institutions since their independence, following second world war. But no amount of investment in scientific institutions and academia could bring prosperity to their populace. Both countries started their improvement in their lot only when they liberalized their economy, shrugging off restrictive hold of apparatchik and bureaucratic stranglehold on industrial, commercial, banking, marketing and regulatory policies.

Deng Xiaoping, unleashed opening of Chinese economy in early eighties, after consolidating his power base in post Mao transition, following demise of Mao Zedong, Chairman of PRC, in 1976. He rationalised the conflict between communistic ideology and market economy with his famous rationale: “No matter if it is a white cat or black cat; as long as it can catch mouse, it is a good cat.” India followed the path of market liberalization from license raj and era of selective patronage of businesses, in early nineties.

From the plot of growth of per capita GDP of both the countries, we see the inflection point almost took a decade after initiation of liberalization. In case of China, it was early 1990s and in case of India, it was early 2000s.

The architect of China’s liberalization could witness early fructification of his risky policy. Deng passed away in 1997. Afterall, it is no easy task to shake off the shibboleth of well entrenched political system, accustomed to sense of supremacy in everything. But one thing is clear, once a policy environment is established, successive rulers of both countries augmented their GDP in their speeds.

One interesting point is to be noted. Chinese economy got one more inflection point within almost a decade after the first inflection point, at early 2000s, accelerating their growths further. In fact, second inflection ushered in dominance of China in world economy and surprising growth in high tech, capital goods, space technology, military prowess. In case of India the second inflection point seem not to be arriving even after two decades or so after the first inflection. Our growth rate remains moderate and stagnant. We seem to be losing out in high tech and capital goods industry. Our telecom industry has huge ingress of Chinese equipment, our auto industry has less and less of India designed product, our mining industry is importing more and more heavy Chinese equipment, we do not have any respectable presence at all in semiconductor and electronics market. In space our neighbours and friends in Asia are just moving too fast. A look at our trade reveals, raw materials dominate our export against import of finished goods, naturally pushing our trade deficit upwards. You look around. We are moving but we are facing more and more catching up to do. We are good at many things, but we can hardly claim to be too good for a few things.
In my view, the first inflection is because of liberalization of overall economy, which triggered proliferation of livelihood industries with moderate technology but large job creation. This in turn fuelled higher income, and more service industries. But they do give fillip to GDP as they create present day technology base and widen job employment. But continuation of business leadership in future, high trade advantage and accelerated growth can come only when we create technology of future in todays environment. That is where innovations and innovation friendly environment play a decisive role. My presumption is: China’s second inflection is mainly due to harnessing of their large innovation potential.

One of the broad-indicator of innovation environment of any country is the number of patents granted per year. In last decade, India’s share has jumped by a factor of five. Latest number is hovering around 10800, a miniscule contribution by billion plus population. For China, the numbers jumped in almost same proportion. Only difference is Chinese numbers are around 40 times that of India, latest number hovering just a notch below 400,000, to be precise at 399,878. That is stratospheric difference. Data show, if we have to achieve the second inflection to push up the GDP trajectory, we need to rethink what urgent steps, we have to climb, in vastly pulling up our innovation environment and support system.

I believe there are a few main ingredients of innovation culture: namely, imagination, knowledge, interpersonal communication and ethical value system. We have invested considerably in knowledge system. We have rapidly expanded AIIMS, IIT, IIM, NIT, Science institutions, Engineering and Medical colleges. But we made the entry system so difficult that private tution-shops are probably having more turnover than the funding in IITs!

We created a competitive rote culture, instead of learning culture, leaving imagination to backbenchers of college classrooms.

Actually, all children are born imaginative. But society, parents, education system and knowledge accumulation gradually kill imagination. It is high time we should focus on primary and secondary schooling, quality of teachers and their remuneration. We are not able to attract bright minds for teaching, precisely because of very lopsided investment. Still our country is progressing forward and this is because of dedication of individual teachers, in spite of hardships they face. We should remember, if you give peanuts, you get monkeys. We need to refashion our education system so that learning and imagination, both are fostered.

We also need to dispense with assessing the college teachers in terms of only publications. Patents, copy rights, design rights should be given much stronger emphasis for career growth. In fact, we give away many of our hard-earned knowledge and learnings, just for free, by insisting on publication without legally securing the knowledge for future monetization.

From my long experience and being holder of reasonable number of quality patents and copyrights, I can vouch that our scientists and engineers, many times, are not able to streamline their analytical thought processes, because they lack soft skills like expressing and communicating in succinct and coherent fashion. Somehow, an idea has invaded our minds that if you want to pursue a career in science, it is ok to not to pursue language and arts courses. This phenomenon is adding to killing of the spirit of innovation.

I had an encounter with Intellectual Property Right (IPR) lawyers. I am sorry to say, interaction with them, many times kills patent initiative. They have the uncanny ability to convert a scientific phenomenon to a legalistic draft, killing the patent at the outset. I remember, in Germany I could file a patent in 15 days flat, that is the general time limit awarded there, for converting a demonstrated idea or product to patent. But in India, I find that even filing takes a year or more. By then, your patent gets leaked, as it travels through many hands and somebody else in some other country, files a patent. Patent offices also take their own sweet time.

My experience says, many institutional heads, including the top men, do not believe in patenting or pursuing an innovation to the logical ends. More often they are guided by ignorance and lack of conviction. Also, many of them have not written a single patent to their credit. Many times, our systems believe that contributing scientists and innovators are best managed by technical and scientific managers, who turn out to be more often than not expert system manipulators. The price is being paid by the country. But I must say there are some exceptions. You will find those leaders from the innovation environment and products from their institutions.

I am not telling that patents are be all of innovation. Patents ensure that the idea or product has originality and its practicability is demonstrated. Bringing an idea to a logical end and demonstrating it as a product or software is a great trainer in discipline required for innovation. All of us know, publications need not ensure originality. Even replication of an existing idea also finds avenues for publication. But patents generally ensure originality in thinking and the implementation process.
Everything is fair in love, war and international commerce. The pinpricks in different forms will be expected from our international competitors of all hues. These pinpricks may include unnecessary military engagements, cyber-attacks, currency manipulation, trade embargo, unfair tariff, one sided global institution regimes, encouragement of social and political discontent. We need to deal with them as and when they appear. We can plan for avoiding or minimising them in future. But sustaining rebuttal of these adventures is possible when we jack up our GDP and well-being of our population. Only way out is a concerted effort and conviction of seizing future economy, by building technologies and processes for future only through the sustainable route of innovation.


Tapan Misra is a distinguished scientist, who contributed immensely to India’s space programme. He has headed the Space Application Centre and was also Advisor Department of Space.

What ails Air India

Deepu Krishna

This is the story about the ordeal and nightmare the passengers went through at the Air india domestic check in counter before boarding the Delhi-Bhopal Flight AI437 on 19 February 2021.

One is not surprised why Air India is suffering losses. Here is a case study that amply explains why privatization is what Indians need. The accountability in PVT sector makes you work harder and the customer/citizens are beneficiaries and get the real worth of the money they spend. 

For a flight at 7:45 evening, thank heavens, I started from my dwelling at 1 noon due to the farmer’s protest at the Delhi Border. I reached the airport and was in the queue at the Air India Counter at around 3:45 pm for the check-in at 5:15 pm. After the security check, I was at the flight gate at 6: 30 pm. After having skipped lunch, one was in such a bad shape while boarding the aircraft…which again was late by 1 hour….all this was so frustrating that I even decided….not to fly by Air india again…

Now people might think all this is normal with Terminal 3 and weekend rush. But I would like to focus attention towards a friend of mine, who landed at the airport around the same time, took Vistara to Mumbai and reached there even before I could land at the flight Gate. Vistara also had similar number of passengers but what separated them from those who took the Air India flight was the efficient manner in which the Vistara staff was managing their check-in counters during the crunch hour.

Air india had employees working like sloths. So slow and yet only three counters. One of which was closed as the employees’ time was over and there was no one to fill in. Great management indeed. 

No quick check-in counters for those sloppy late comers…early comers had also turned into late comers because of the poor speed these guys exhibited while attending to those already in the queue.

For the late comers a Rajpal Yadav lookalike was heard announcing- “Kochi Flight”, “Varanasi flight”. Mind it, this happened only once. Hearing this the vigilant and impatient few scrambled and rushed towards this dude, who asked them all to jump their turn, break the line and rush towards the counter. This way, he encouraged them to push aside those already in line. In the midst of all this, what further added to the chaos was the desk employee’s tantrums.

The senior citizens who couldn’t hear him were at total loss and there was absolutely no one to give a helping hand. An agitated elderly woman who was braving COVID and was travelling back to her husband after visiting her sons…was literally cursing them “You all will never prosper”. I was shocked and dismayed by the reaction of the airline staff as they began laughed at her. 

There was no senior officer or supervisor around to handle the crisis. In sharp contrast, everyone is aware how there is always an Air India officer in attendance helping bureaucrats and VIPs, who invariably arrive at the last moment and within no time, they are escorted through the security.
I wonder….How these employees get selected?What motivates them to do their work to their satisfaction? What would be their targets? What would be the sense or belonging they have towards the brand they work for?
They are just a glorified and a high end kind of versions of what we see in most Government run enterprises. An airline that promises premium service unequalled by any competitor, an airline that has commanded people’s trust all these years, if it is in doldrums and in red today, there have to be definite reasons for it. What I witnessed and went through the other day explains a lot. People, who are supposed to be running the airline are failing in their responsibility. Same is the story with many Government and public sector enterprises.


Deepu Krishna, resident of Bhopal, is currently working with OP Jindal Global University as Deputy Director Admissions and Outreach.

Budget 2021-22 focuses on infrastructure & health for all-round economic growth and prosperity

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2021-22 in the Parliament on Monday, February 1 2021 announcing that the Government shall work towards taking the country forward to the next level of health,
prosperity and well-being.

“We shall strive to bring Ease of living for every citizen,” Ms Sitharaman emphasised.

Regarding the Farm Sector, the Finance Minister underscored the central Government proposes to encourage those State governments who undertake implementation of following model laws already issued by the Central government:
a) Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016
b) Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2017; and
c) Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and
Facilitation) Act, 2018

Budget 2021-22 that provides a soothing touch to senior citizens above 75 and leaves the income tax slabs and exemptions untouched, reflects firm commitment of the Government to boost economic growth by investing in infrastructure development and disinvestment and strategic sale. This is substantiated by increase in capital expenditure by 34.5% (₹1,42,151 crore) over BE 2020-21.In RE 2020-21, the total expenditure has been estimated at ₹ 34,50,305 crore and is more than Provisional Actual (2019-20) by ₹ 7,63,975 crore.

Income Tax

Citizens, 75 years and above, who have only Pension and Interest income – will not have to file Income Tax Returns

Re-opening of Assessment to be reduced to 3 years from 6 years. Re-opening only with approval of Pr.CCIT can be made upto 10 years where there is evidence of concealment of Income of Rs. 50 lakhs or more.

Reducing Litigation for small tax payers – Faceless Dispute Resolution Panel will be set up for those with total Income not exceeding Rs.50 lakh and disputed income of Rs.10 lakh.

Income Tax Appellate Tribunal to become Faceless – There will be only electronic communication.

Relaxation to NRIs – Rules will be in place to remove hardship of Double Taxation

Tax Audit Limit to be increased to Rs.10 crores from Rs.5 crores for those having less than 5% cash transactions

Dividend will be exempt from TDS. Advance tax liability on dividend income will arise only after declaration or payment of dividend. For Foreign Investors – lower treaty rate benefit is proposed.

The total resources being transferred to the States including the devolution of State’s share, Grants/ Loans and releases under Centrally Sponsored Schemes etc in BE 2021-22 is ₹13,88,502 crore, which shows an increase of ₹74,565 crore over RE (2020-21).

Investment on Health Infrastructure increased substantially

PM AtmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, will be launched with an outlay of about ₹ 64,180 crores over 6 years.

The outlay of about ₹ 64,180 crores will be in addition to the National Health Mission. The main interventions under the scheme are:

a. Support for 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centers

b. Setting up integrated public health labs in all districts and 3382 block public health units in 11 states;

c. Establishing critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts and 12 central institutions;

d. Strengthening of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units;

e. Expansion of the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs;

f. Operationalisation of 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units at Points of Entry, that is at 32 Airports, 11 Seaports and 7 land crossings;

g. Setting up of 15 Health Emergency Operation Centers and 2 mobile hospitals; andh. Setting up of a national institution for One Health, a Regional Research Platform for WHO South East Asia Region, 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories and 4 regional National Institutes for Virology.


Infrastructure

The National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) was announced by the Finance Minister in December 2019 is the first-of-its-kind, whole-of-government exercise ever undertaken by Government of India. 

The NIP was launched with 6835 projects; the project pipeline has now expanded to 7,400 projects. Around 217 projects worth ₹1.10 lakh crores under some key infrastructure Ministries have been completed. The NIP is a specific target which this government is committed to achieving over the coming years. It will require a major increase in funding both from the government and the financial sector.

In this Budget, the Finance Minister has proposed to take concrete steps to do this, in three ways: Firstly, by creating the institutional structures; secondly, by a big thrust on monetizing assets, and thirdly by enhancing the share of capital expenditure in central and state budgets.

Infrastructure financing – Development Financial Institution (DFI) 

Infrastructure needs long term debt financing. A professionally managed Development Financial Institution is necessary to act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing. Accordingly, a sum of ₹ 20,000 crores is proposed to capitalise this institution.

The ambition, according to the Finance Minister, is to have a lending portfolio of at least ₹5 lakh crores for this DFI in three years time.

Debt Financing of InVITs and REITs by Foreign Portfolio Investors will be enabled by making suitable amendments in the relevant legislations. This will further ease access of finance to InVITS and REITs thus augmenting funds for infrastructure and real estate sectors.

Asset Monetisation

Monetizing operating public infrastructure assets is a very important financing option for new infrastructure construction. A “National Monetization Pipeline” of potential brownfield infrastructure assets will be launched. An Asset Monetization dashboard will also be created for tracking the progress and to provide visibility to investors.

Some important measures in the direction of monetisation are:

a. National Highways Authority of India and PGCIL each have sponsored one InvIT that will attract international and domestic institutional investors. Five operational roads with an estimated enterprise value of ₹ 5,000 crores are being transferred to the NHAI InvIT. Similarily, transmission assets of a value of ₹ 7,000 crores will be transferred to the PGCIL InvIT.

b. Railways will monetise Dedicated Freight Corridor assets for operations and maintenance, after commissioning. 

c. The next lot of Airports will be monetised for operations and management concession. 

d. Other core infrastructure assets that will be rolled out under the Asset Monetization Programme are:

(i) NHAI Operational Toll Roads 

(ii) Transmission Assets of PGCIL

(iii) Oil and Gas Pipelines of GAIL, IOCL and HPCL

(iv) AAI Airports in Tier II and III cities,

(v) Other Railway Infrastructure Assets

(vi) Warehousing Assets of CPSEs such as Central Warehousing Corporation and NAFED among others and 

(vii) Sports Stadiums.

Sharp Increase in Capital Budget

In the BE 2020-21,  ₹ 4.12 lakh crores was provided for Capital Expenditure. The effort is in spite of resource crunch the government should spend more on capital and to end the year at around ₹ 4.39 lakh crores which has been provided in the RE 2020-21.

For 2021-22, a sharp increase in capital expenditure has been proposed and thus there’s a provision of ₹ 5.54 lakh crores which is 34.5% more than the BE of 2020-21. Of this, a sum of more than ₹ 44,000 crores has been kept in the Budget head of the Department of Economic Affairs to be provided for projects /programmes /departments that show good progress on Capital Expenditure and are in need of further funds. Over and above this expenditure, more than ₹2 lakh crores will be provided to States and Autonomous Bodies for their Capital Expenditure. 

The central government will also work out specific mechanisms to nudge States to spend more of their budget on creation of infrastructure.

Roads and Highways Infrastructure

More than 13,000 km length of roads, at a cost of ₹ 3.3 lakh crores, has already been awarded under the ₹ 5.35 lakh crores Bharatmala Pariyojana project of which 3,800 kms have been constructed. By March 2022, and government would be awarding another 8,500 kms and complete an additional 11,000 kms of national highway corridors.

To further augment road infrastructure, more economic corridors are also being planned. Some are: a. 3,500 km of National Highway works in the state of Tamil Nadu at an investment of ₹ 1.03 lakh crores. These include:

a. Madurai-Kollam corridor, Chittoor-Thatchur corridor. Construction will start next year.

b. 1,100 km of National Highway works in the State of Kerala at an investment of ₹ 65,000 crores including 600 km section of Mumbai-Kanyakumari corridor in Kerala.

c. 675 km of highway works in the state of West Bengal at a cost of ₹25,000 crores including upgradation of existing road-Kolkata –Siliguri.

d. National Highway works of around ₹19,000 crores are currently in progress in the State of Assam. Further works of more than ₹34,000 crores covering more than 1300 kms of National Highways will be undertaken in the State in the coming three years. 

The Budget proposes an enhanced outlay of ₹ 1,18,101 lakh crores for Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, of which ₹1,08,230 crores is for capital, the highest ever.

Railway Infrastructure

Indian Railways have prepared a National Rail Plan for India – 2030. The Plan is to create a ‘future ready’ Railway system by 2030.

Bringing down the logistic costs for industry is at the core of the strategy to enable ‘Make in India’, the Finance Minister said adding, it is expected that Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) and Eastern DFC will be commissioned by June 2022. 

The following additional initiatives are proposed:

a. The Sonnagar – Gomoh Section (263.7 km) of Eastern DFC will be taken up in PPP mode in 2021-22. Gomoh-Dankuni section of 274.3 km will also be taken up in short succession.

b. Future dedicated freight corridor projects would be undertaken, they are namely East Coast corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada, East-West Corridor from Bhusaval to Kharagpur to Dankuni and North-South corridor from Itarsi to Vijayawada. Detailed Project Reports will be undertaken in the first phase. 

c. Broad Gauge Route Kilometers (RKM) electrified is expected to reach 46,000 RKM i.e., 72% by end of 2021 from 41,548 RKM on 1st Oct 2020. 100% electrification of Broad-Gauge routes will be completed by December, 2023. 

For Passenger convenience and safety the following measures are proposed:
a. Aesthetically designed Vista Dome LHB coach will be introduced on tourist routes to give a better travel experience to passengers. 

b. The safety measures undertaken in the past few years have borne results. To further strengthen this effort, high density network and highly utilized network routes of Indian railways will be provided with an indigenously developed automatic train protection system that eliminates train collision due to human error. 

c. A record sum of ₹1,10,055 crores, for Railways of which ₹1,07,100 crores is for capital expenditure. 

Urban Infrastructure

The Government will work towards raising the share of public transport in urban areas through expansion of metro rail network and augmentation of city bus service.

A new scheme will be launched at a cost of ₹18,000 crores to support augmentation of public bus transport services. The scheme will facilitate deployment of innovative PPP models to enable private sector players to finance, acquire, operate and maintain over 20,000 buses. The scheme will boost the automobile sector, provide fillip to economic growth, create employment opportunities for our youth and enhance ease of mobility for urban residents. 

A total of 702 km of conventional metro is operational and another 1,016 km of metro and RRTS is under construction in 27 cities. Two new technologies i.e., ‘MetroLite’ and ‘MetroNeo’ will be deployed to provide metro rail systems at much lesser cost with same experience, convenience and safety in Tier-2 cities and peripheral areas of Tier-1 cities. 

Central counterpart funding will be provided to:a. Kochi Metro Railway Phase-II of 11.5 km at a cost of `1957.05 crores.b. Chennai Metro Railway Phase-II of 118.9 km at a cost of ₹63,246 crores.c. Bengaluru Metro Railway Project Phase 2A and 2B of 58.19 km at a cost of ₹14,788 crores.d. Nagpur Metro Rail Project Phase-II and Nashik Metro at a cost of ₹ 5,976 crores and ₹ 2,092 crores respectively.

Power Infrastructure

The Finance Minister said, past 6 years, have seen a number of reforms and achievements in the power sector. The government has added139 Giga Watts of installed capacity, connected an additional 2.8 crores households and added 1.41 lakh circuit km of transmission lines.

The distribution companies across the country are monopolies, either government or private. There is a need to provide choice to consumers by promoting competition. A framework will be put in place to give consumers alternatives to choose from among more than one Distribution Company, the Finance Minister announced.

Ports, Shipping, Waterways

Major Ports will be moving from managing their operational services on their own to a model where a private partner will manage it for them. For the purpose, 7 projects worth more than ₹2,000 crores will be offered by the Major Ports on Public Private Partnership mode in FY21-22. A scheme to promote flagging of merchant ships in India will be launched by providing subsidy support to Indian shipping companies in global tenders floated by Ministries and CPSEs. An amount of ₹1624 crores will be provided over 5 years. This initiative will enable greater training and employment opportunities for Indian seafarers besides enhancing Indian companies share in global shipping.

India has enacted Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 and acceded to the Hong Kong International Convention. Around 90 ship recycling yards at Alang in Gujarat have already achieved HKC-compliant certificates. Efforts will be made to bring more ships to India from Europe and Japan.

Recycling capacity of around 4.5 Million Light Displacement Tonne (LDT) will be doubled by 2024. This is expected to generate an additional 1.5 lakh jobs for our youth.

The Finance Minister said, “we have kept working towards strategic disinvestment”. A number of transactions namely BPCL, Air India, Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, BEML, Pawan Hans, Neelachal Ispat Nigam limited among others would be completed in 2021-22. Other than IDBI Bank, the government proposes to take up the privatization of two Public Sector Banks and one General Insurance company in the year 2021-22.

In 2021-22, the Government would bring the IPO of LIC. This would require legislative amendments and amendments are proposed in this Session itself.

Higher Education

In order to provide quality educationto students of deprived section of the society as well as those who do
not have access to highereducation, it is proposed to start degree level full-fledged online education programme.

India should be a preferred destination for higher education. Hence, under its “Study in India” programme, Ind-SAT is proposed to be held in Asian and African
countries. It shall be used for benchmarking foreign candidates who receive scholarships for studying in Indian higher education centres.

A National Police University and a National Forensic Science University are also being proposed in the domain of policing science, forensic science, cyber-forensics etc.

GoI orders winding up of Devas after a US Court had ordered payment of $1.2 billion compensation

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Three-months after the western District Court of Washington ordered for enforcement and payment of $1.2 billion compensation to Devas, the Central Government has authorised Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman- cum- Managing Director, Antrix Corporation Limited (a Government Company) to present a petition before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for winding up of Devas Multimedia Private Limited on the grounds specified under clause (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 271 of the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013).

Under Section 271 of the Companies Act, a company may, on a petition under section 272, be wound up by the Tribunal. Clause (c) of this section specifies – on an application made by the Registrar or any other person authorised by the Central Government by notification under this Act, the Tribunal is of the opinion that the affairs of the company have been conducted in a fraudulent manner or the company was formed for fraudulent and unlawful purpose or the persons concerned in the formation or management of its affairs have been guilty of fraud, misfeasance or misconduct in connection therewith and that it is proper that the company be wound up.

Once Devas gets wound up there will be no entity left to demand compensation.

Click for Notification

Check:

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Antrix will be better off ignoring the US Court order for enforcement and payment of $1.2 billion compensation to Devas

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Antrix-Devas Agreement, national security and CBI

CBI registers case in the huge Antrix-Devas scam

More agri start-ups needed in 2021


Farmers’ agitation tells us the common farmer of the country continues to face multiple problems, from lower remuneration for the produce to transportation and not to mention vagaries of nature, including the changing climate. In the age of ‘Digital India’, ‘Start up India’ and ‘Make in India’, the need is for innovative start ups that can actually help the smallest of farmers in remotest of places

Nivedita Khandekar

More than half of India’s population depends on agriculture as its livelihood option and the farmers, especially the small-landholding ones, have continued to face multiple problems.

The ongoing farmers’ agitation and the recent three laws related to agriculture passed by the Modi government notwithstanding, agriculture has been fraught with multitude of problems and the farmer and his family face the brunt directly or indirectly.

There has been a longtime demand to bring about changes in the manner in which a farmer gets paid for his produce. The government has harped on its agenda to double the farmers’ income and claims to be working towards it. Much of the benefits of different government schemes are grabbed inevitably by big land-owning farmers or relatives of the local body office bearers. The real needy, vulnerable farmer is left to fend for himself/herself.

A vital issue is ensuring that the farmer gets fair price for his produce. And on time. The supply chain running without any disturbance is equally important. We saw in 2020 how the pandemic disturbed this supply chain at several places but thanks to ingenuity of the farmers, scores of ‘farm to colony/society gate’ options surfaced across India. If this ‘farmer-to-consumer’ connections could be made during the pandemic induced lockdown, there should be no reason why it cannot work in normal times.

All that the farmers and farm produce need is to be treated as worthy of not just family entrepreneurship but a possible business opportunity that is beneficial in both B2B and B2C cases. There already are a number of start-ups – agri-tech start-ups to be precise – that have been using remote sensing, drones, data analytics, artificial intelligence and various internet of things (IOT) devices and services to help farmers, consumers or even some big companies and retailers.

Agribazaar is one such agri-tech start up which promises ‘creating an efficient and robust agri value chain’ for buyers, seller and agri-preneurs. The company says that a farmer needs to register himself/herself, enter details about his produce where buyers can directly place orders. They decide between themselves and finalise the deal, after
which AgriBazaar picks up the produce from the farmer’s field and sends it to the buyer.

Isn’t this what is troubling most of the farmers? Getting the price that they quote without any middleman/men? Without worrying about logistics for transporting his produce!

Another key field is the immense wastage – some experts believe it is almost around 40% of the fresh, post-harvest produce – due to a variety of reasons – spoilage, low shelf-life, and many a times, over-ripening during transportation. Identifying this gap, a start up searched for and came up with a non-destructive and accurate qualitative grading of fresh food across the supply chain.

The agri-tech startup qZense claims that it aims to transform the Indian fresh food supply chain industry with its IOT based solutions.

qZense aims to empower food businesses and retailers to not only minimize their produce loss but also to determine the optimal margins of freshness. “Its software platform offers two products to ensure an effective and seamless delivery of service.

The Q-Scan is a handheld scanning device for grading the internal quality. The second product Q-Log comprises olfactory loggers responsible for measuring the quality of produce during storage and in logistics,” a statement said.

These are just two of the examples. What is needed in 2021 is proliferation of such ventures and bring peace to the small land holding farmers.

A 2019 NASSCOMM report ‘Agritech in India: Emerging Trends in 2019’ had pointed out how in 2016, more than 350 AgriTech startups had raised USD 300 millions globally and Indian investment accounted for 10 %. Karnataka and Maharashtra accounted for 50% of the Agritech start ups in last five years, the report said.

The two progressive states – Karnataka and Maharashtra – doing well is no news. What needs to be done in 2021 is to expand this across states and make sure that the needy farmer is benefitted.

Things are definitely changing and for better.

According to ‘India’s Agritech Market Landscape Report 2020’, India’s agritech market is expected to boom by the rise in rural internet penetration, rapid digital transformation due to Covid-19 coupled with rising investor interest. It also mentioned that as of 2020, India is home to more than 1000 agritech startups (compared to just 43 in 2013) with
companies witnessing a spike in demand during the lockdown this year.

So, there is hope.


Nivedita Khandekar is an independent journalist based in Delhi. She writes on environmental and developmental issues. She can be reached at nivedita_him@rediffmail.com or follow her on twitter on @nivedita_Him

Let’s Debate: Farmers and Global Reset

Rajiv Lochan

There should be no fear of any global reset. The belief that big corporates will take over etc. has no bases on the ground. At the same time, the services that are needed in present times for civilised living can only be provided by corporate enterprises. No individual can run a telephone system of the kind that you need today. No government can run large scale services of the sort that we expect for civilised living.

Corporates are at the heart of the global citizen who believes in equality of all and freedom for all. Remove the corporate, big or small, and within a few weeks humans will be reduced to warring tribes in which only one or two persons per tribe have any freedom. Would love to hear any other view on how the future would be/ could be/ should be.

Think of left parties. In india and elsewhere. They are little more than tribal gangs. Anyone who holds a slightly different view is dealt with roughly; put to death even. They have failed to create even a single asset anywhere which can be used by anyone other than the privileged few. In contrast look at corporate giants like Larsen and Tubro. Fully funded by its own workers. Working single mindedly to create value for all irrespective of social origins or status. Ditto other big corporates.

On farmers

Irrespective of whether the laws (the new farm laws introduced by the Modi government) are allowed to exist or are dissolved, the farmer, in the present form, is on the death bed. That is what I have been writing for the last one year. Earlier, I have written of how the small farmer is important for our economy. But not this small farmer who is committed to archaic kind of farming. Rather the small farmer who does farming in conjunction with industry. That by the way, is true even today. Only that farmer survives. who has a jod dhanda. The rest simply lead a life of scrounging.


Rajiv Lochan is a scholar-historian, author and a popular columnist

Modi’s Farm Reforms will free the farmers from the clutches of middlemen and a corrupt system

Lalit Shastri

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

The ongoing agitation, mainly by farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, against the new farm laws introduced by the Modi led NDA Government at the Centre to free the farmers from the clutches of middlemen and to ensure they get the best price for their produce through a free market, was obviously ignited and is being fuelled by politics rather than real concerns for the benefit and welfare of farmers as maximum number of farmers who have joined the agitation are from Punjab, where Congress is now in power and the main Opposition party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has also quit the BJP led ruling National Democratic Alliance.

The allegation against the opposition parties opposing the farm reforms is that they were the real beneficiary as their leaders and their henchmen and cadres were pocketing the major part of the booty that was being generated by the alleged siphoning away of thousands of crores from money being spent by the government on procurement of farm produce under the minimum support price (MSP) regime and rampant corruption at the mandis (regulated agriculture produce market yards) where the farmers were mandated to sell their produce.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal of SDA was the first to lodge protest against the farm reforms by quitting the Cabinet.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has held talks with the agitating farmers. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar who has also held several round of talks with the farmers’ representatives has even written a letter to the striking farmers, who have partially blocked several highways connecting Delhi with neighbouring States. The Supreme Court, has deferred a plea seeking removal of the road blockade by the farmers. In the meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister joined the protest by tearing copies of the new farm laws in the Delhi Assembly.

The farm reforms introduced by the Modi Government at the centre are related to three agricultural Bills that were passed by the Parliament on 27 September 2020 and have been approved by President Ram Nath Kovind. Together the these Acts seek to provide farmers with multiple marketing channels and a legal framework for contract farming beside other things. 

Along with the need to benefit the farmers, the reforms were also necessary if India wants to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and other Free Trade Zones that require Farm and Agriculture subsidiaries’ visibility.

The three farm laws being contested by a section of farmers are:

  • The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 

Is the agitation by farmers justified?

The concept of a agriculture produce market regulation programme in India dates back to the British days when the British were more concerned about ensuring raw cotton reaches the textile producers at Manchester (in UK) at low rates. Consequently in 1886, the first regulated market was established at Karanja in 1886 under the Hyderabad Residency Order (legislation – the Berar Cotton and Grain Market Act of 1887). Then came the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Agriculture for regulation of marketing practices and establishment of regulated markets in 1928.

Post-Independence, it was during the decades of the 60s and 70s of the 20th Century that the organized agricultural marketing was systematised and mandated through government regulated markets and mandis. Most states thereafter began enacting and enforcing the Agricultural Produce Markets Regulation (APMR) Acts.

Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) is a marketing board established under APMR.

Agricultural Markets in most parts of the Country were established and regulated under the State APMC Acts.

Before the Modi government came up with tbe farm reforms, the first sale of agriculture produce could occur only at the mandis of APMC. The new Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act allows farmers to sell outside APMC mandis where only those registered under the APMC Act are allowed to buy agricultural produce. These registered persons or commission agents, who have maintained a vice-like grip on the market, are called “Aadhatiya” in the native jargon.

It is common knowledge how the trader-aadhatiya-government officer nexus has been looting and exploiting the farmers. The new farm reform is mainly aimed at freeing the farmers from the present corrupt system and allowing them to take full advantage of free market driven economy.

When the farmer brings his produce to the mandi, the buyers i.e. the middlemen get together and buy the farmer’s crop at a very low price. The produce then reaches the consumer at a very high price.

The farmer, who is the loser at the Mandi and at the hands of the corrupt cartel that operates it, also is required to shell out money to pay several taxes and commission under the APMC Act. For example, the farmer who sells his crop at the “Krishi Upaj Mandi” pays something like 3% as market fees,3 % rural development cess and 2.5% commission (the taxes vary across states), beside labour and transportation charges. The farmers also have to account for about 10% wastage and often face the menace of crop theft. Short or under weighing is also common in mandis. At times the crop keeps lying and is not sold for several days, while the farmer is left at the mercy of the officers and middlemen who dictate the price for produce like vegetables that are not covered under MSP. The farmers also were not allowed to take their crop to mandis outside their own State

The APMC Act applies to all agricultural produce whether it is vegetables, fruits or grains. Now take for example a farmer in Madhya Pradesh would be selling onion at Rs 2 or 4 a kg and it would reach the consumer at 10 times the price at which the middlemen procure it at the first point of sale. Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh, apple would be selling for Rs 10 rupees per kg but the consumer would get it at Rs 100 per kg or at a much higher price. So the crux of the problem is that the profit in between gets pocketed by a handful of people.

Under the new farm laws, the farmers can sell their crop both outside the mandi to any person having the PAN card and also at the mandi. The farmers would stand to gain additionally if they sell outside the mandi as they would not be required to pay the mandi tax in that case.

Under the new regime, farmer also will be free to do contract farming. Contrary to widespread fear and baseless speculation, the MSP system will remain intact and the Mandis will continue to function. The major benefit being offered to the farmer under the new regime is that it will not be mandatory for the farmers to sell their produce at the mandi.

Download Brief History of Marketing Regulation

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar writes to farmers

Neither will I eat nor will I let others eat: Narendra Modi

Addressing a rally at Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014, Prime Minister Modi had said, “Na khaoonga, na khane dunga” (neither will I eat nor will I let others eat). The PM is living up to his words and the Farm Sector Reform initiated by his Government amply validates this. Besides, ensuring farmers get their due in terms of profit on their produce, the new farm laws will also go a long way towards eliminating corruption. To drive home the point, I would like to reproduce an investigative news story I had done 12-years ago to expose huge corruption in procurement at the Krishi Upaj Mandi.

Exclusive story published on 24 May 2008

Large-scale corruption in procurement; Civil Supplies Minister seeks action against the corrupt

Official reports, including one sent to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat by the District Collector of Hoshangabad on April 4, reveal massive corruption and mismanagement of the wheat procurement process in Madhya Pradesh.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Akhand Pratap Singh’s recent initiative of handing over the public distribution system (PDS) outlets to rural panchayats in order to “free the system from the clutches of black-marketeers and middlemen” has also come in for sharp criticism within the ruling party.

Red wheat
The Minister revealed that even sub-standard red wheat that was being sold at the subsidised rate of Rs.8.50 per kg through the PDS outlets was being siphoned away for sale in the open market. Now when the Mukhya Mantri Annapurna Yojna was being implemented in the State for distributing foodgrains at highly subsidised rates, it would be more profitable for the black-marketeers to further exploit the system, he pointed out.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also noticed large-scale irregularities during a surprise inspection of the Krishi Upaj Mandi at Itarsi on April 18 and directed the district Collector to submit a report about procurement of wheat at the official support support price.

The Collector, G. P. Tiwari, confirmed irregularities and pointed out in his report that of the 499,991 quintal of wheat procured by the Itarsi Mandi between March 1 and April 17 this year, only 187,620 quintals had been purchased at support price, while 2,225,380 quintal of wheat was purchased below procurement price and the bonus of Rs.100 above the procurement price, announced by the State Government, was paid to procure only 86,991 quintal of wheat. There were four government agencies involved in the procurement process: the State Civil Supplies Corporation, the Food Corporation of India, the Marketing Federation and NAFED.

The Collector pointed out in his report that it had been established that the wheat was wrongly declared as unfit for procurement by official agencies. The same pattern was noticed in Bankhedi, Piparia, Sohagpur and Semriharchand mandis, according to the Collector. He also underscored the need for a strict vigil to ensure that the wheat purchased from farmers by traders was not brought back to the mandi to be sold at the official procurement price.

The Collector also placed on record that there was a shortage of storage space in the mandi as railway rakes were not available between April 10 and 16 to transport wheat.

Complaints
Earlier, the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies had raised the issue of irregularities in management of wheat procurement. Responding to allegations of large-scale irregularities as well as complaints that farmers were neither getting support price nor immediate payment for the purchase of their wheat, he had asked the State Secretary/Commissioner Food and Civil Supplies to furnish information regarding wheat procurement and also directed him on April 15, three
days before the Chief Minister’s surprise visit to Itarsi to resolve various issues linked with wheat procurement, its storage and transportation.

APAC Corps to recover in 2021, but cash flow weaker than 2019

Newsroom24x7 Network

Sydney/Singapore: Fitch Ratings expects corporate issuers in APAC to continue to stage a gradual recovery in 2021. Nevertheless, Fitch expect aggregate 2021 revenue for their portfolio of 330 publicly rated Asia Pacific corporates to be 7% lower, and 2021 EBITDA 15% lower, than their pre-coronavirus forecasts.

Fitch has underscored pandemic-related factors contributed predominantly to 73 downgrades during 2020, exceeding 19 upgrades by 4x. Downgrades peaked at 31 during 2Q, but fell back during 3Q and 4Q. Liquidity issues and sector-wide market changes remain the two leading factors behind the downgrades, and illustrate two of the main areas in which the pandemic is pressuring ratings.

The proportion of APAC corporates where Fitch have a negative outlook, rating watch negative (RWN) or ‘CCC+’ and below rating fell back to 18% in 4Q20 from 22% in 2Q20, but still well above 4Q19’s 11%. Pandemic-related negative rating actions, according to Fitch are likely to continue during 2021, but at a much slower pace. At the same time, September 2020 marked the start of subsequent positive rating actions – reflecting the stabilisation, if not improvement, in operating conditions in the region.

Fitch has now published 13 sector-specific 2021 Outlook Reports for APAC Corporates. They have a negative sector outlook on one sector (Asian Palm Oil), an improving sector outlook on six sectors (Autos, Oil & Gas, Gaming, Indonesian Homebuilders, Indonesian State-Owned Construction, and Indonesian Coal), and a stable sector outlook on six sectors (Telecoms, Technology, Utilities, China Engineering and Construction, China Homebuilding and China Steel).

UK and Switzerland confirm participation in revised government procurement pact

Newsroom24x7 Network   

Geneva: Switzerland and the United Kingdom have completed the final step for making their respective participation in the revised Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) effective. As of 1 January 2021, the revised GPA will be in force for Switzerland, and the UK will be a party to the accord in its own right.  

Switzerland submitted the so-called “instrument of acceptance” to the WTO on 2 December. This means that, as of 1 January 2021, the revised GPA will be in force for all GPA parties. The Government Procurement Agreement opens government procurement markets among its parties. The revised GPA, in force since 2014, expands the number of governmental entities, such as ministries and agencies, that are covered by the Agreement, and adds new services. The text of the revised agreement can be found here.

The same day, the UK submitted the so-called “instrument of accession” to the WTO. This means that the UK will take part in the GPA in its own right from 1 January 2021. The UK continues to be covered by the agreement during the European Union-UK transition period, which ends on 31 December 2020. It is treated as a member state of the European Union during the transition period.

Bhopal Disaster 36 Years

Newsroom24x7 Network

Bhopal: The book “Bhopal Disaster 36 Years” by Lalit Shastri, Editor-in-Chief of Newsroom24x7 was launched today marking the 36th Anniversary of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy caused by the massive leak of the most lethal Methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from the Union Carbide pesticide plant.

The gas disaster has left in its wake over 20,000 dead and more than 500,000 injured and wounded with irreversible lung damage. People were blinded and the immune system of countless citizens was adversely affected and there is no count of those who have been crippled for successive generations.

Bhopal Disaster 36 Years can be ordered online on Amazon

Shastri’s latest book tells in great detail how thirty-six years have passed since the midnight of December 2 and 3, 1984 when tons of deadly MIC leaked into the air from the local Union Carbide pesticide plant killing thousands of citizens and critically wounding hundreds of thousands. Bhopal that night had turned into a gas chamber; and it also gives a detailed account of each and every player involved and how the multinational company Union Carbide Corporation was allowed to get away with what Bhopal citizens call “mass murder” – a charge that eventually got reduced to death by “negligence” and “culpable homicide” not amounting to murder. None of the culprits, directly or indirectly, responsible for causing the Bhopal disaster have received the punishment they deserve. The former Chairman of the US Multinational company Union Carbide Corporation Warren Anderson, who was the principal accused and was declared an absconder in the criminal case linked with 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster is now dead.

Shastri has worked as State Correspondent for The Hindu and The Asian Age between 1991 and 2014. He has been a Consultant with UNICEF and Public Relations Officer for the Indian Red Cross Medical Relief Gas Victims’ Project (1987). Bhopal Disaster 36 years is a sequel to his earlier book Bhopal Disaster -An Eye Witness Account.

Shastri was also one of the first few to write a book on Bhopal gas tragedy titled “Bhopal Disaster – An Eyewitness Account”. This book, launched by the then President of India Gyani Zail Singh in Rashtrapati Bhawan in 1986, was a result of extensive survey in the gas affected areas, interviews of doctors, scientists, Union Carbide managers and employees, gas affected citizens, important functionaries of ILO and WHO headquarters in Geneva, attorneys in the USA and a ground level assessment of the Union Carbide Plant and its safety system in Institute, West Virginia, USA within a year of the gas disaster.

Antrix will be better off ignoring the US Court order for enforcement and payment of $1.2 billion compensation to Devas

Newsroom24x7 Network

Washington/Bengaluru: The order passed on Tuesday 27 October by Judge Thomas S. Zilly of the US District Court of Western District of Washington asking Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), to pay Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd a compensation of $1.2 billion for canceling a business agreement with Devas will remain only on paper as the advise from those in knowledgeable circles in India is that Antrix should ignore the order as it does not have any business interest in the US.

Earlier in September, Judge Thomas S Zilly of the US District Court, Western District of Washington had lifted the stay on the proceedings of the lawsuit filed by Devas against Antrix.

After Antrix terminated its agreement with Devas in January 2011, Devas has been seeking legal remedy both in India and abroad.

Devas had filed the law suit in the US District Court two years ago taking the plea that three international tribunals had declared the termination of the Devas-Antrix Agreement as wrong and bad in law.

Antrix, on its part, had raised the issue of jurisdiction and demanded that the suit be dismissed. It was also underscored by Antrix that a decision in the arbitration award would violate the sovereignty of India. The issue of corruption was also brought into focus keeping in view the case registered by the CBI following investigation into the Antrix-Devas agreement.

Antrix-Devas case and PCA: BIPA with Mauritius needs to be relooked at

CBI files charge sheet against former Secretary of Space and ED of Antrix Corporation

CBI files chargesheet against former Secretary of Space and ED of Antrix Corporation

Antrix-Devas Agreement, national security and CBI

CBI registers case in the huge Antrix-Devas scam

Wipro results for Q3: IT Services Revenue grew by 3.7%

Newsroom24x7 Network

East Brunswick (United States)/ Bangalore (India): Wipro Limited (NYSE: WIT, BSE: 507685, NSE: WIPRO) on Tuesday 13 October) announced financial results under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for the quarter ended September 30, 2020.
 IT Services Revenue for Q3 grew by 3.7% QOQ and (Quarter-on-quarter analysis)
Board approves buy back of Rs 95 billion 

 
Highlights of the Results

Wipro Limited Results for the Quarter ended September 30, 2020: Gross Revenue was Rs 151.1 billion ($2.1 billion), an increase of 1.4% QoQ and a decrease of 0.1% YoYIT Services Segment Revenue was at $1,992.4 million, an increase of 3.7% QoQNon-GAAP2 constant currency IT Services Segment Revenue increased by 2.0% QoQIT Services Operating Marginfor the quarter was at 19.2%, an expansion of 0.2% QoQ and 1.1%YoYNet Income for the quarter was Rs 24.7 billion ($335.3 million1), a decrease of 3.4% YoYEarnings Per Share for the quarter was at Rs 4.33 ($0.061), an increase of 0.7% YoYOperating Cash Flow was at Rs 44.1 billion ($600.1 million1), which is 179.0% of Net Income 
Performance for the quarter ended September 30, 2020
 
Thierry Delaporte, CEO and Managing Director said, “We had an excellent quarter with growth in revenues, expansion of margins and robust cash generation. I am very excited about the opportunities that are ahead of us and encouraged by the acceleration in business momentum we have seen this quarter. Our strategy is to focus on growth in prioritized sectors & markets led by vertical solution offerings.”
 
Jatin Dalal, Chief Financial Officer said, “It was another quarter of strong performance on margins and cash flows. We improved on several operating parameters to deliver margin expansion of 0.2% to 19.2% in the IT Services segment. Our Free Cash Flows as a percentage of Net Income for the first half was at 160.7% of Net income. The announcement to buyback equity shares is part of our philosophy to deliver consistent returns to shareholders.”
 
Outlook for the quarter ending December 31, 2020

We expect Revenue from our IT Services business to be in the range of $2,022 million to $2,062 million*. This translates to a sequential growth of 1.5% to 3.5%.
 
* Outlook is based on the following exchange rates: GBP/USD at 1.31, Euro/USD at 1.18, AUD/USD at 0.72, USD/INR at 73.84 and CAD/USD at 0.75 
 
Capital Allocation

The Board of Directors approved a buyback proposal, subject to the approval of shareholders through postal ballot, for purchase by the company of up to 237.5 million equity shares of Rs 2 each (representing 4.16% of total paid up equity capital) from the shareholders of the company on a proportionate basis by way of a tender offer. The buyback price is Rs 400 ($5.41) per equity share payable in cash for an aggregate amount not exceeding Rs 95 billion ($1.3 billion1).
 
IT Services

Wipro continued its momentum in winning large deals with our customers as described below:
 A US-based multinational food manufacturing company has selected Wipro as the sole strategic partner for application support and maintenance globally. As part of the engagement, Wipro will simplify and transform the client’s application portfolio and help them develop new digital capabilities by leveraging cutting-edge technology solutions. In addition, Wipro will also drive end-to-end enterprise resource planning by rolling out SAP ECC for their acquired entity in Latin America to enable greater integration with the parent company. Wipro has won a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract from a large US-based healthcare payer to provide enrollment and billing services for individual health plans under the Affordable Care Act, leveraging Wipro’s digital platform and digital operations services. Wipro has secured a contract from a leading US-based healthcare technology company to transform its healthcare system by providing application development and support, quality engineering, and production engineering services.Wipro has won a strategic, multi-year managed services contract from a leading US-based manufacturing company to transform its entire procure to pay operations, leveraging Wipro HOLMES® solutions such as Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), Contract Intelligence and Order digitization.  
Digital & Cloud Application Services Highlights

Wipro continues to see increasing traction in digital oriented deals as illustrated below:
 Wipro has been awarded a multi-year contract as a transformation partner for Cynergy Bank, a UK Bank specialised in serving the financial needs of property and commercial business owners. Wipro will leverage its core capabilities, IP, partnerships, Wipro ventures and best practices to comprehensively manage and transform the Bank’s IT Infrastructure and Security operations as part of this IT co-source engagement. Wipro has also been chosen as the prime partner to deliver digital transformation at the Bank, thereby realising the Bank’s future vision and architectural roadmap leveraging Wipro Digital, Designit, Topcoder and New Age Ecosystem. Wipro and Designit have been selected by a regional water authority in Asia Pacific to transform their customer experience, workflow, case management and IoT analytics platforms. The integrated solution, built on Microsoft Azure, will provide a common platform for data acquisition and visualization, device management, and interface with other IT and third party agencies/ systems. It will also support new IoT devices to implement various dam safety and water monitoring measures. A leading semiconductor manufacturer has awarded Wipro a turnkey silicon development contract for its 5G wireless infrastructure and Automotive Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) market. Wipro’s strong expertise in very large-scale integration (VLSI) and firmware domain will help the customer develop variants of the product for different market segments and accelerate their time-to-market. A global bank has chosen Designit, a Wipro company, to support a new startup business focused on small and medium-sized enterprises leveraging strategic design, logistics & operations management, data analysis, and growth strategy consultancy services. 

Partner and Analyst Recognition
 Wipro has been positioned as a Leader in The Forrester New Wave™: RPA Service Providers in Healthcare, Q3 2020Wipro is a Leader in Everest Group PEAK Matrix® Assessments for Banking BPS, Cloud-Native Application Development Services, Finance and Accounting Outsourcing (FAO) 2020Wipro is named a Leader and Star Performer in Everest Group’s PEAK Matrix® Assessments on Digital Workplace Services, Data and Analytics Services 2020Wipro has been positioned a leader in IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Managed Security Services 2020 Vendor Assessment (Doc # US46235320 – Sep 2020)Wipro has been positioned a Leader in IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Customer Experience Improvement Services 2020 Vendor Assessment (Doc # US45658220 – Sep 2020)Wipro has been positioned as a Leader in IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Manufacturing Intelligence Transformation 2020 Vendor Assessment (Doc # US46844820 – Sep 2020)Wipro is rated as a Leader in ISG Provider LensTM SAP HANA and Leonardo Ecosystem Partners quadrant report for the U.K. and U.S. 2020, in multiple quadrants. Wipro is rated as a Leader in ISG Provider LensTM Microsoft Ecosystem U.S. 2020Wipro was named as a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Center Outsourcing and Hybrid Infrastructure Managed Services, North America, Mark Ray et al., 9 Jun 2020
Disclaimer: Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.  

State of Intelligent Enterprises Report
A Wipro study finds 95% of business leaders consider AI critical, yet only 17% leverage it across their organization. The ‘State of Intelligent Enterprises’ report examines the current landscape and shows the challenges and the driving factors for businesses to become truly intelligent enterprises.
 
IT Products
 IT Products Segment Revenue for the quarter was Rs 1.7 billion ($23.0 million1)IT Products Segment Results for the quarter was a loss of Rs 0.3 billion ($4.1 million1

India business from State Run Enterprises (ISRE)
 India SRE Segment Revenue for the quarter was Rs 2.1 billion ($28.8 million1)India SRE Segment Results for the quarter was a profit of Rs 0.1 billion ($1.6 million1
Please refer to the table at the end for reconciliation between IFRS IT Services Revenue and IT Services Revenue on a non-GAAP constant currency basis.
 
About Non-GAAP Financial Measures

This press release contains non-GAAP financial measures within the meaning of Regulation G and Item 10(e) of Regulation S-K. Such non-GAAP financial measures are measures of our historical or future performance, financial position or cash flows that are adjusted to exclude or include amounts that are excluded or included, as the case may be, from the most directly comparable financial measure calculated and presented in accordance with IFRS.
 
The table at the end provides IT Services Revenue on a constant currency basis, which is a non-GAAP financial measure that is calculated by translating IT Services Revenue from the current reporting period into U.S. dollars based on the currency conversion rate in effect for the prior reporting period. We refer to growth rates in constant currency so that business results may be viewed without the impact of fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, thereby facilitating period-to-period comparisons of our business performance. Further, in the normal course of business, we may divest a portion of our business which may not be strategic. We refer to the growth rates in both reported and constant currency adjusting for such divestments in order to represent the comparable growth rates.
 
This non-GAAP financial measure is not based on any comprehensive set of accounting rules or principles and should not be considered a substitute for, or superior to, the most directly comparable financial measure calculated in accordance with IFRS and may be different from non-GAAP measures used by other companies. In addition to this non-GAAP measure, the financial statements prepared in accordance with IFRS and the reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures with the most directly comparable IFRS financial measure should be carefully evaluated.
 
Results for the quarter ended September 30, 2020, prepared under IFRS, along with individual business segment reports, are available in the Investors’ section of the company website www.wipro.com

GHAL all set to build a ₹550 cr logistics park in Hyderabad

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Link Legal have successfully represented GMR Hyderabad Aerotropolis Limited (“GHAL”), in setting up a 30:70 joint venture company in India, GMR Logistics Park Private Limited (“JV Company”) with ESR Hyderabad 1 Pte. Limited, a Singapore based entity (“ESR”).

ESR, a Warburg Pincus-backed logistics developer, is engaged in the business of promoting, developing, operating and managing warehouses and industrial and logistics parks to cater to requirements of its clients.

GHAL and ESR set up the JV Company to jointly develop, construct and operate a 66-acre flagship airport centric integrated logistics and industrial park at Hyderabad airport city providing state-of-the-art facilities for warehousing, distribution centers and non-polluting industrial such as light assembly. The said project has a capital outlay of INR 550 crore. This joint venture will set new standards for the warehousing and industrial real estate sector and would also benefit the burgeoning cargo industry in the region.

Link Legal team comprising of Yosham Vardhan, Associate Partner, Ankit Agarwal, Senior Associate and Neil  Lopez, Associate assisted and advised GHAL in drafting, negotiations and finalization of the joint venture agreement, other ancillary agreements and closing of the transaction. Ravi Varma, Partner, Link Legal advised on the real estate aspects of the transaction.

There are few better partners than the United States of America and India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday 22 July that there are few better partners than the United States of America and India – two vibrant democracies with shared values.

The Pm was delivering the keynote address at the India Ideas Summit hosted by the US-India Business Council. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the formation of the Council. The theme for this year’s India Ideas Summit is ‘Building a Better Future’.

Modi, thanked the US-India Business Council for inviting him to address the ‘India Ideas Summit’. Congratulaing the USIBC on its forty-fifth anniversary, the PM said over the past decades, the USIBC has brought Indian and American business closer

The US-India friendship has scaled many heights in the past. Now it is time our partnership plays an important role in helping the world bounce back faster after the pandemic

Modi said the rise of India means a rise in trade opportunities with a nation that you can trust, a rise in global integration with increasing openness, a rise in your competitiveness with access to a market which offers scale

Every year, we are reaching record highs in FDI. Each year is significantly higher than the earlier one. FDI inflows in India in 2019-20 were 74 billion dollars. This is an increase of 20 percent from the year before that, the PM underscored adding when the markets are open, when the opportunity is high and the options are many, can optimism be far behind! You can see the optimism when India rises in key business ratings. Particularly the Ease of Doing Business ratings of the World Bank

Extending an invite on behalf of the nationto invest in finance and insurance, Modi said India has raised FDI cap for investment in insurance to 49 percent. Now 100 percent FDI is permitted for investment in insurance intermediaries

The PM further said:

“India also invites you to invest in defense and space. We are raising the FDI cap for investment in defense sector to 74 percent. India has established two defense corridors to encourage production of defense equipment and platforms

Civil Aviation is another area of great potential growth. The number of Air passengers are expected to more than double within next 8 years. The top private Indian airlines plan to include over a thousand new aircraft over the coming decade

India invites you to invest in infrastructure. Our nation is witnessing the largest infrastructure creation drive in our history. Come, be a partner in building housing for millions, or building roads, highways and ports in our nation

India invites you to invest in energy. As India evolves into a gas-based economy, there will be big investment opportunities for US companies. There are also big opportunities in the clean energy sector

India invites you to invest in healthcare. The Healthcare sector in India is growing faster than 22 percent every year. Our companies are also progressing in production of medical-technology, tele-medicine and diagnostics

India has done historic reforms in the agriculture sector recently. There are investment opportunities in: Agricultural inputs and machinery, Agriculture supply chain management, Ready-to-eat items, Fisheries and Organic produce

Opportunities in technology also include opportunities in the frontier technologies of 5G, Big data analytics, Quantum computing, Block-chain and Internet of things

India is emerging as a land of opportunities. Let me give you one example of the tech sector. Recently, an interesting report came out in India. It said for the first time ever, there are more rural internet users than even urban internet users

During the last six years, we have made many efforts to make our economy more open and reform oriented. Reforms have ensured increased ‘Competitiveness’, enhanced ‘Transparency’, expanded ‘Digitization’, greater ‘Innovation’ and more ‘Policy stability

India is contributing towards a prosperous and resilient world through the clarion call of an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. And, for that, we await your partnership

Global economic resilience can be achieved by stronger domestic economic capacities. This means improved domestic capacity for manufacturing, restoring the health of the financial system and diversification of international trade

We all agree that the world is in need for a better future. And, it is all of us who have to collectively give shape to the future. I firmly believe that our approach to the future must primarily be a more human-centric one

I thank the US-India Business Council for inviting me to address the ‘India Ideas Summit’. I also congratulate the USIBC on its forty fifth anniversary this year. Over the past decades, the USIBC has brought Indian and American business closer:

With our deep commitment to maintaining global harmony, to improving socio-economic equity, and to preserving nature’s balance, India will play its role in full support of the UN agenda

The United Nations was originally born from the furies of the Second World War. Today, the fury of the pandemic provides the context for its rebirth and reform. Let us not lose this chance

Be it earthquakes, cyclones, Ebola crisis or any other natural or man-made crisis, India has responded with speed and solidarity. In our joint fight against COVID, we have extended medical and other assistance to over 150 countries

Internationally, our initiative to set up the International Solar Alliance was a practical manifestation of climate action. Similarly, the Coalition for Disaster Resilience Infrastructure brings together all relevant stake-holders.”