Business & Economy

India's forex reserves soar by $ 2.604 billion to record $ 400.726 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 2.604 billion to a new high of $ 400.726 billion during the week ended September 8,  the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 3.572 billion to $ 398.122 billion during the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that  foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had increased by $ 2.568 billion to $ 376.210 billion during the week.
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at  $ 20.692 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 14.2 million to $ 1.520 billion.
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 21.4 million to $ 2.304 billion during the week, the bulletin added.

India's exports grow by 10.29% to $ 23.819 billion in August 2017

Continuing an uptrend for the 12th consecutive month, India's merchandise exports grew by 10.29 per cent to $ 23.819 billion in August 2017 from $ 21.597 billion during the same month of the previous year, an official statement said here today.
In rupee terms, the exports went up by 5.39% to Rs. 152365.23 crore in August 2017 from Rs. 144570.03 crore during the corresponding month of 2016, it said.
The statement said that, major commodity groups of export which showed positive growth in August 2017 over the corresponding month of last year were Engineering Goods (19.53%), Petroleum Products (36.56%), Organic & Inorganic Chemicals (32.41%), Drugs & Pharmaceuticals (4.21%), and RMG of all Textiles (0.56%).
The cumulative value of exports for the period April-August 2017-18 was $ 118.575 billion (Rs 763145.37 crore) as against $ 109.215 billion (Rs 731420.12crore), registering a growth of 8.57% in dollar terms and 4.34% in rupee terms over the same period last year.
The statement said non-petroleum and non-gems & jewellery exports in August 2017 were valued at $ 17.743 billion against $ 15.501 billion in August 2016, an increase of 14.47%. Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports during April -August 2017-18 were valued at $ 87.438 billion as compared to US $ 79.623 billion for the corresponding period in 2016-17, an increase of 9.82%.
Imports during August 2017 were valued at $ 35.463 billion (Rs 226849.74 crore) which was 21.02% higher in dollar terms and 15.65% higher in rupee terms over the level of imports valued at $ 29.303 billion (Rs. 196154.44 crore) in August, 2016. The cumulative value of imports for the period April-August 2017-18 was $ 181.719 billion (Rs. 1169589.74 crore) as against $ 143.501 billion (Rs. 961178.43 crore), registering a growth of 26.63% in dollar terms and 21.68% in rupee terms over the same period last year.
Major commodity group of imports which showed high growth in August 2017 over the corresponding month of last year were Petroleum, Crude & products (14.22%), Electronic goods (27.44%), Machinery, electrical & non-electrical (18.35%), Gold (68.90%) and Pearls, precious & semi-precious stones (30.88%).
Oil imports during August, 2017 were valued at $ 7.755 billion which was 14.22% higher than oil imports valued at $ 6.789 billion in August 2016. Oil imports during April-August, 2017-18 were valued at $ 38.777 billion which was 18.89% higher than the oil imports of $ 32.616 billion in the corresponding period last year.
The  statement  noted that global Brent prices ($/bbl) had increased by 11.34 % in August 2017 vis-à-vis August 2016 as per World Bank commodity price data.
Non-oil imports during August, 2017 were estimated at $ 27.708.04 million which was 23.07% higher than non-oil imports of $ 22.514 billion in August, 2016. Non-oil imports during April-August 2017-18 were valued at $ 142.942 billion which was 28.91% higher than the level of such imports valued at $ 110.885 billion in April-August, 2016-17.
As far as trade in services was concerned, exports during July 2017, the latest month for which data is available, were valued at $ 13.178 billion (Rs. 84939.99 crore), registering a decline 1.57% in dollar terms as compared to negative growth of 0.31% during June 2017.
Imports of services during July 2017 were valued at$ 7.334 billion (Rs. 47271.96 crore) registering a decline of 1.65% in dollar terms as compared to decline of 2.07% during June 2017.
As regards merchandise, the trade deficit for August 2017 was estimated at $ 11.644 billion as against the deficit of $ 7.706 billion during August 2016. The trade balance in services for July 2017 was estimated at $ 5.844 billion.
Taking merchandise and services together, overall trade deficit for April-August 2017-18 is estimated at $ 39.872 billion as compared to $ 12.723 billion during April-August 2016-17, the statement added.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 54.56/bbl

The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, rose to $ 54.56 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 53.83 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3495.38 per bbl on 14.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3443.89 per bbl on 13.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 64.07 per US$ on 14.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 63.98 per US$ on 13.09.2017, it added.

MOU between MCA, CBDT for Automatic Exchange of Information

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) have concluded a formal memorandum of understanding (MoU) for data exchange.
The MoU, signed on September 6, was in continuation of the initiative launched by the Government to curb the menace of shell companies, money laundering and black money in the country, an official press release said.
It would also prevent misuse of corporate structure by shell companies for various illegal purposes, the release said.
According to it, the MoU will facilitate the sharing of data and information between CBDT and MCA on an automatic and regular basis. It will enable sharing of specific information such as Permanent Account Number (PAN) data in respect of corporates, Income Tax returns (ITRs), financial statements filed with the Registrar, returns of allotment of shares, audit reports and statements of financial transactions (SFT) received from banks relating to corporates.
The MoU will ensure that both MCA and CBDT have seamless PAN-CIN (Corporate Identity Number) and PAN-DIN (Director Identity Number) linkage for regulatory purposes.
The information shared will pertain to both Indian corporates as well as foreign entities operating in India. In addition to a regular exchange of data, CBDT and MCA will also exchange with each other, on request, any information available in their respective databases, for the purpose of carrying out scrutiny, inspection, investigation and prosecution.
The MoU comes into force from the date it was signed and is an ongoing initiative of MCA and CBDT, which are already collaborating for near real time allotment of PAN and TAN also at the time of incorporation of companies itself.
A Data Exchange Steering Group also has been constituted for the initiative, which will meet periodically to review the data exchange status and take steps to further improve the effectiveness of the two agencies.

Modi invites more Japanese to invest, live and work in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today invited more and more Japanese people and companies to come, live and work in India, stressing that Japan could benefit tremendously with the size and scale of the country's potential an the skilled hands that it offered.
"In fact, all of India’s development agenda is relevant for Japanese companies," he said in his address at the India-Japan Business Leaders Forum here, at which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also present.
"To allow entry of capital and technology, we have worked hard on opening our economy. Every day we are making it easier to invest and do business in India. We have already resolved a number of regulatory and policy issues facing the businesses and companies. We have got very good results of these efforts," he said.
Mr. Modi said India and Japan were ancient civilizations and vibrant democracies which knew how to distribute the fruits of progress and prosperity to the common man.
"India needs affordable solutions and processes which can ease the delivery of government services to its citizens. Japan needs opportunities where it can deploy its hard earned knowledge and technology. I have been saying that 21st Century is Asia's Century. I have also been saying that India and Japan will play a major role in Asia's emergence. The growing convergence between India and Japan on strategic and economic issues has the capacity to stimulate the global economy. I am confident that Strong India and Strong Japan will also be a stabilising factor in Asia and the world.
"In this mutual and global pursuit I thank Prime Minister Abe and Japan for being a perfect partner," he said.
Mr. Modi said his personal engagement with the leadership, government, industry and people of Japan was now a decade old.
"When I first visited Japan as Chief Minister of Gujarat, I had said that.... I want to see a mini Japan in Gujarat. Today, that dream has come true. I am happy to see so many friends from Japan happily living and doing business in Gujarat. It also gives me great pleasure to see so many familiar faces here. I am also happy to see that dedicated townships, clusters and institutions have come up to make the Japanese life and work experience better. Today also, one Japanese township has been announced. Gujarat's Industry and Government still cherish the fact that Japan became the first partner country in the Vibrant Gujarat event. Not only did this partnership continue, but our engagement has kept growing. It has resulted in much greater level of engagement of the Japanese industry with the Indian economy. I thank Keidanren, JETRO and other organisations for helping us in this process. The mechanism of Japan Plus has also helped in the process of hand holding," he said.
"The Government and the people of Japan have always shown great affection towards me and my country. In fact, 1.25 billion people of India have the same affection for the Japanese people. I am particularly grateful to Prime Minister Abe for his encouragement and support at a personal level. Prime Minister Abe and I do not miss any opportunity to meet. This closeness and understanding has helped us bridge a number of gaps in our bilateral relations. Last year has seen the highest ever disbursement of Official Development Assistance from Japan in a financial year. Similarly, the number of Japanese companies working in India has gone up steadily in the last few years. From the activities launched today, you can see the depth of relationship between the two countries," he said.
In this context, he referred to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, for which Mr. Abe and he laid the foundation stone in Ahmedabad today.
"We are grateful for the support of the Japanese Government for this project. I hope that the construction of the 500-km long bullet train will begin soon and it would become operational by 2022-23. Along with the High Speed Rail project, a training institute is also taking shape. It will prepare the makers of a New India – the highly skilled manpower required to build, operate and maintain the high speed railway.
"Second is the development of Japanese Industrial Townships: countrywide, four locations have been finalized. Apart from Gujarat, they are located in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
"Third is our cooperation in automobiles: The Suzuki plant at Maandal is exporting cars worldwide, and foundation has been laid for production of lithium-ion batteries to power the next generation hybrid and electric vehicles.
"Fourth is for Human Resource Development through the Japan-India Institutes of Manufacturing They are being developed by Japanese companies. In addition to Gujarat, they will be developed in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
"You know that the ancient and holy city of Varanasi is my second home. The project of Varanasi Convention Centre is a symbol of cultural co-operation between Kyoto city of Japan and Varanasi. It was conceived by Prime Minister Abe and I when we visited Varanasi together in 2015. I have named it Rudraksh – the symbol of love, and a Prasad of Lord Shiva to Humanity. This Rudraksh will be a garland of love of Japan for Varanasi. It will also be a tribute to our shared Buddhist heritage present at Sarnath too. For Japan’s financial assistance to this project, I extend my warmest personal thanks to Prime Minister Abe. 
"You have also seen some other announcements for investment by Japanese companies. On political and strategic side too, this visit of Prime Minister Abe has been very productive. We have concluded a number of agreements on very important matters. All this shows the depth of our understanding and the comfort and confidence which we have with each other," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, over the last three years, the Government had worked very hard on the Ease of Doing Business front. He said a series of administrative reforms had significantly improved the business sentiment in the country. 
"These reforms and initiatives are all aimed at preparing India for the 21st century. They are aimed at transforming the country and making a New India. Powered by the energy of our youth, we are positioning India as a global manufacturing hub. For this purpose, we have launched the ‘Make in India’ campaign. We are also developing India into a knowledge based, skill supported and technology driven society. A grand beginning has already been made through our drives like Digital India and Skill India. For the same purpose, we have started the Start-up India campaign. India is ranked 3rd in the Global Start-Up Eco-system, and has seen a momentous rise in the past couple of years. The Start-Up India initiative also aims to build a strong eco-system of innovation. On infrastructure side also, my Government has launched ambitious initiatives. These projects create and present life time opportunities to investors. This includes 100 Smart Cities Mission, Housing for 50 million homeless, building roads, bridges, ports, railways tracks as well as stations," he said.
Mr. Modi listed various global recognitions received by India in recent times, including moving up in the index of Ease of Doing Business of the World Bank.
"We have moved up 32 places in last two years in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum – this is higher than any other country; We have also moved up 21 places on the Global Innovation Index of WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization in two years. We moved 19 places on the Logistics Performance Index of 2016 of World Bank; and We are 3rd among the top 10 FDI destinations listed by UNCTAD the UN Conference on Trade and Development. India’s biggest tax reform, the GST has been introduced recently. With this, we are also moving towards a modern tax regime, which is transparent, stable and predictable. 
"Today, India has one of the most liberal FDI regimes in the world. More than 90 percent of the FDI approvals have been put on automatic route. We have abolished the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. This liberalization has seen India’s FDI reach 60 billion dollars in the last financial year. FDI flows from Japan have almost tripled in last three years. The new Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code will make it easier for investors to have an exit. We are setting up commercial courts and commercial divisions to ensure speedy disposal of commercial matters. Arbitration proceedings will now become faster as the Arbitration law has been amended. We have also announced a new Intellectual Property Rights policy. These are just a few examples of the direction in which we are moving. We will do more and more; better and better; faster and faster," he added.

India's wholesale inflation rate rises to 3.24% in August 2017

India's headline annual rate of inflation, based on the revised monthly wholesale price index (WPI), with base 2011-12=100, rose to 3.24% in August, 2017 as compared to 1.88% in the previous month and 1.09% during the corresponding month of the previous year.
An official statement, quoting provisional data, said here today that the official WPI for ‘All Commodities’ (Base: 2011-12=100) for August, 2017 rose by 0.8 percent to 114.8 from 113.9 for the previous month.
The statement said the build-up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 1.41% as compared to a build-up rate of 3.25% in the corresponding period of the previous year.
The rate of inflation based on WPI Food Index consisting of ‘Food Articles’ from Primary Articles group and ‘Food Product’ from Manufactured Products group increased from 2.12% in July, 2017 to 4.41% in August, 2017, it said.
The inflation rate for Fuel and Power stood at 9.99% during August 2017 as compared to 4.37% in the previous month.
According to the statement, the final WPI for ‘All Commodities’ (Base: 2011-12=100) and annual rate of inflation remained unchanged at its provisional level of 112.7 and 0.90%, respectively, as reported on July 14,  2017.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 53.83/bbl

The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, rose to $ 53.83 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 53.06 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3443.89 per bbl on 13.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3392.90 per bbl on 12.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 63.98 per US$ on 13.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 63.95 per US$ on 12.09.2017, it added.

About 30 crore accounts opened under PMJDY, dormant accounts less than 20%: Jaitley

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said that with the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) Scheme in August 2014, the Government ha brought the policy of financial inclusion to centrestage.
Delivering the keynote address at the Conclave on Finance Inclusion organized by United Nations (UN) in India, Mr Jaitley said this was one area where the public sector banks (PSBs) did better than others.
When the PMJDY was launched in August 2014, only 58% people had bank accounts and 42% were outside the banking network. At present, the total number of bank accounts opened under the scheme was more than 30 crore. The number of zero balance accounts under PMJDY has declined from 76.81% in September 2014 to less than 20% as of now. More than 22 crore RuPay cards have also been issued to the account holders along with an overdraft facility of Rs 5000, he added.
In addition to financial inclusion, the Government has taken steps to provide security to the poor with life insurance under the Pradhan Mantra Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and accident insurance through Pradhan Mantra Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY). As on August 7, 2017, total enrollment was 3.46 crore under the PMJJBY and 10.96 crore under PMSBY. In both schemes, close to 40 percent of those enrolled were women, the Minister added.
About the results of demonetization, Mr Jaitley said it has helped in reducing the volume of cash transactions and increase in digitisation, widening of the tax base and more formalization of the economy among others. Post demonetization, there is an emphasis to reduce the overall quantum of cash in the economy, he added.
As regards Aadhaar, he said it has been “an important leap forward for the country as now we are beginning to understand its full potential”. Now, 92% of our people have Aadhaar cards. He expressed confidence that Aadhaar legislation will stand the test of constitutionality.
“Aadhaar has helped in targeting the subsidies which, in turn, helped in avoiding wastage of resources. After implementation of Aadhaar system, such Government support/subsidy is confined to the vulnerable and those who are entitled for the same. Since this financial assistance goes directly into the bank accounts of the deserving people, it has, in turn, helped in more operationalization of PMJDY bank accounts and thereby reducing drastically the number of dormant/non-operational accounts,” he added.
Mr Jaitley said the Government has succeeded in the last three years in bringing financial inclusion on the centrestage of its political and economic agenda and in times to come, the policy makers will have to follow this direction only and will not be able to reverse this trend.

Infosys chooses Raleigh, North Carolina for its Technology and Innovation Hub

IT services major Infosys has chosen Raleigh as the location for its North Carolina Technology and Innovation Hub  in the United States.
This innovation hub is expected to hire 2,000 American workers by 2021, a press release from the company said.
Towards its plan of hiring 10,000 jobs over two years, the company has already hired close to 1,200 American workers in the United States, the release said.
The new hub, which will open in early 2018, will occupy 60,000 square feet in a new facility in Raleigh and has the capacity to house 500 workers ,representing another step forward in the company’s previous announcement to hire American workers in the country. 
The company plans to hire the first 500 workers in Raleigh innovation hub within two years, with the remainder to be hired in the state by 2021.
“Innovation, technology, and education are part of who we are as North Carolinians, and along the course of this project, Infosys leaders have found that to be the case every step of the way. Our top-flight workforce, commitment to education, and exceptional quality of life help businesses of all sizes recruit and retain excellent employees,” said Governor Roy Cooper.
“The North Carolina Technology and Innovation Hub is part of Infosys’ investment in the future of the U.S. tech workforce and will focus on delivering cutting-edge solutions in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data and advanced analytics, cloud and big data,” said Ravi Kumar, President and Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Infosys.
“The Hub, located in the innovation incubator of Raleigh, will support the development of co-created solutions for our valued clients in North Carolina and the surrounding region. Attracting and retaining a skilled and motivated workforce is crucial to Infosys, and the new Tech Hub—along with the robust training program we are developing with the North Carolina Community College System and proximity to tier-one research universities—will expand Infosys’ existing North Carolina network to better serve clients in the IT, life sciences, clean technology and advanced manufacturing sectors," he said.
“The City of Raleigh welcomes Infosys as a key member of our community, further bolstering Raleigh’s already strong technology economy, which has seen technology jobs grow at a rate more than double the national average over the last five years. The partnership between our city and Infosys will boost innovation and benefit businesses, schools, and workforce development in the area and we are excited to pursue this work together,” said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane. 
The release said new hires would include recent graduates from the state’s prestigious network of colleges, universities and community colleges, as well as local professionals who will benefit from upskilling through Infosys’ world-class training curriculum. As part of Infosys' commitment to grow 2,000 jobs in the state of North Carolina, the company is partnering with the North Carolina Community College System to create a customized program designed to train the workforce of the future. 
"Infosys is looking to maximize the benefits of the North Carolina Community College's Customized Training Program. To that end, Wake Technical Community College is developing a comprehensive upskilling program, in partnership with Infosys, to train the workforce of the future. We plan to include pre-employment training, where candidates experience a short-term realistic job preview,  as well as extensive post-employment training that will focus on technical and soft skills. The program will be developed as a joint effort between representatives from Infosys and Wake Tech and will ensure success for the company and the employees," said Maureen Little, Vice President of Economic Development, North Carolina Community College System.
This commitment to education also extends to the company’s charitable foundation, Infosys Foundation USA. In North Carolina, the Foundation has provided multiple grants for classroom technology and computer science training to teachers and schools. To date, these grants have benefited 4,220 students across 82 schools, involving 92 teachers. 
This includes grants for professional development for teachers, hands on workshops for students, and new technology and teaching aids for classrooms, with an emphasis placed on serving underrepresented groups such as women, African American, Latino, urban, rural, and autistic groups that will gain greater access to computer science and maker education, the release added.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 53.06/bbl

The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, rose to $ 53.06 per barrel (bbl) on September 12 from $ 52.73 per bbl on the previous day.
An official press release said that, in rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket increased to Rs. 3392.90 per bbl on 12.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3368.39 per bbl on 11.09.2017. 
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 63.95 per US$ on 12.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 63.89 per US$ on 11.09.2017, the release added.

CCEA nod for doubling of Daund-Manmad railway line in Maharashtra

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday gave its approval for the doubling of the 247.5 km Daund-Manmad railway line in Maharashtra.
An official press release said the estimated cost of the project will be Rs. 2,081.27 crore and the completion cost  Rs. 2,330.51 crore with 5% escalation per annum. The project is likely to be completed by 2021-22.
The project is expected to ease passenger and freight traffic and decongest the Daund-Manmad route, which is a critical section for trains from North India to South India via Pune and for pilgrims going to the famous pilgrimage destinations of Shirdi and Shani-Shignapur, an official press release said.
It will also ease the congestion in Mumbai by diverting the trains to this route, the release said.

CCEA approves doubling of Barabanki-Akbarpur railway line

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved a project for doubling the 161 km long Barabanki-Akbarpur railway line in Uttar Pradesh at a completion cost of Rs. 1,310.23 crore.
The project, which is likely to be completed by 2021-22, will cover the districts of Barabanki and Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and will benefit the entire route from Lucknow to Varanasi via Faizabad, an official press release said.
At present, there is a lot of delay in the running of trains on the route and express trains take up to 7 to 15 hours to cover the 323 km from Barabanki to Varanasi.
"Present capacity utilization from Barabanki to Faizabad is 146.5% and from Faizabad to Akbarpur it is 152.6%. The doubling project will ensure higher speeds, reduce train delays, enhance safety by allowing more time for block maintenance and provide additional capacity for future increase in traffic," the release said.

CCEA nod for six-laning of Narasannapeta-Ranastalam section of NH-6 in Andhra Pradesh

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday gave its approval for development of six laning of Narasannapeta-Ranastalam section of National Highway (NH) – 16 (old NH-5) in Andhra Pradesh. 
The cost is estimated to be Rs. 1423 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the six laned road to be developed is approximately 54 km, an official press release said.
The release said the work would be carried out under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase V on Hybrid Annuity Mode. 
The major industrial development centres that will be benefitted with better connectivity from the project corridor are APIIC SEZ, Pydibhimavaram, Bhogapuram Airport, Vizag Steel Plant, Visakhapatnam Port, Gangavaram Port, Divi's Laboratories Limited & INS Varsha. The projected traffic in 2016-17 on this stretch is about 33000 PCUs per day. 
The provision for two by-passes will ensure decongestion of the urban areas of Etcherla and Ranastalam. Similarly, the 29 flyovers and under passes would facilitate fast movement of traffic, it said.

Airtel forges strategic partnership with Korea's SK Telecom to build advanced telecom network

Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel today said it entered into a strategic partnership with SK Telecom, Korea's largest telecommunications company, under which Airtel will leverage SK Telecom's expertise to build the "most advanced telecom network" in India.
A press release from Bharti Airtel said the partnership with SK Telecom, a world leader in building cutting edge networks, would work across several areas including developing bespoke software to dramatically improve network experience, leveraging advanced digital tools including machine learning, big data and building customized tools to improve network planning based on every customer’s device experience.
"The capacity to identify, monitor and deliver improvements to the network experience on an individual device basis will be a first in India, helped by SK Telecom’s global leadership in this area," it said.
The release said the two companies would also collaborate on an on-going basis to evolve standards for 5G, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Internet of Things (IoT), and jointly work towards building an enabling ecosystem for the introduction of these technologies in the Indian context.
Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel said, “We are extremely delighted to announce this partnership with the world’s leading operator when it comes to technology understanding and expertise. This partnership will bring a dramatically improved experience to Airtel customers in India by leveraging the expertise of a company that has built one of the best mobile broadband networks in the world.”
“Strong partnerships have been a hallmark of Airtel’s growth journey and we are proud to have always looked ahead to bring the latest technology to India. With SK Telecom’s clear and undisputed leadership in technology, this is one partnership that will decisively change the game in India and put the country at par with the most advanced broadband nations in the world," he said.
“SK Telecom is delighted to announce a strategic partnership with Bharti Airtel, a global leading mobile operator,” said Mr. Park Jung-ho, the President and CEO of SK Telecom. “SK Telecom will work closely with Bharti to achieve new network innovations so as to deliver a greater value to Bharti’s customers.”

Ravi Shankar Prasad launches nationwide Hackathon #OpenGovDataHack

Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad yesterday launched a nation-wide hackathon #OpenGovDataHack.
As part of the Startup Eco-system Development programme, the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have collaborated to conduct #OpenGovDataHack across seven states. 
It aims to support and showcase potentially great ideas and talent from inner India by reaching out to them in their own states and cities, an official press release said.
It is to enable them to get their ideas developed into Apps/Infographics primarily by use of Open Government Data around the themes of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Transport, Education, Crime and Health to a stage, after which it can be evaluated by jury and be selected for prizes and future support/funding, the release said.
Mr. Prasad, said, “The government is committed to make best use of big data in establishing rule of precision governance. While doing so, every care would be taken to ensure that strict privacy rights of individuals are protected. However, unauthorised use of data would be dealt with iron hand to ensure that nothing comes in the way of making data analytics a national movement.”
“The big data analytics should focus on poor and under privileged and facilitate inclusive growth. While aiming at taking lead in data analytics it must be ensured that technology is inclusive, affordable, transformative and developmental. #OpenGovDataHack being taken up in seven states would catalyse further start up movement. I would like to assure you all that the Government is determined to hand-hold successful start-ups and make it a big success,” he added.
Mr Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, said, “The open data platform is a huge opportunity for the country and a brilliant foundation in place to have so much of data already being made available. However, there is big gap between data being available and data being utilized.
“I believe there are not only gaps, but we have serious opportunities available. A lot of intellectual effort needs to go into creating that value. On one side, we have this wonderful platform in our country, on the other side there is this huge opportunity for new services that can be made available, and thirdly there is massive resource available to us in terms of creative young minds in institutions, industry, start-ups across the country,” he added.
“I think Hackathon is a great opportunity, it fits into our start-up movement as well, and I hope that our youngsters will be able to not only come out with new ideas, they will be able to provide valuable services to departments, to citizens, to communities across the country,” he said.
The workshops will be organized for Stakeholders Sensitization, identifying Problem Statements and Data Gathering at respective cities. Students, Community, Startups, Academia, and Industry can participate.
The #OpenGovDataHack will begin with the Onsite City Challenge, a 24-hour Hackathon event that will be held at sevencentres/ institutes/ organizations across Hackathon cities on different weekends. The participating teams will be required to submit Apps prototypes and Info-graphics. Selected Apps prototypes from all seven onsite city centres and online submissions will be taken forward for App development. Each team will be given two months of mentorship/incubation to develop the App, post which the teams will submit the final Apps for evaluation.
The apps will be evaluated by a jury and the shortlisted teams will be invited for a presentation on the App. The Hackathon process will conclude with an International conference on Open Data, wherein the winners of the Apps Challenge will be awarded.
The Open Government Data (OGD) Platform India has been set up by the NIC in compliance with National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) 2012. The objective of the policy is to provide pro-active access to government owned sharable data along with its usage information.

India, Ukraine discuss potential partnership in the field of shipbuilding

A Ukrainian delegation, led by its Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Nataliya Mykolska, met Secretary, Shipping Ravikant here yesterday to discuss the potential for developing a sustainable partnership between the two countries in the area of shipbuilding.
Giving an overview of the ship building industry in their country, the Ukrainian delegation at the meeting yesterday invited senior officials of the Ministry of Shipping to visit Odessa and Kiev to study the logistic chain and shipbuilding yards, in particular.
Mr Ravikant invited Ukraine to send a group-cum-business delegation to visit Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). CSL is one of the major civilian shipyards in India and among the biggest in the country. He said CSL follows an open process for empanelment of vendor and procurement is generally done through an open tender process. 
The Secretary suggested that interested vendors from Ukraine may contact CSL for participating in such tendering process.
The issue of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) pending to be signed between the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India and the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine in the field of Maritime Transport was also discussed. Necessary approval for signing the MoU was obtained from the Indian side in April 2013 but the MoU is yet to be signed. The Ukrainian Minister assured that she would ascertain the convenience of the Ukrainian side for having the MoU signed at the earliest.
Mr. Ravikant also sought the support of Ukraine on the issue of India’s candidature for election to the IMO Council under Category “B”. A formal request has already been sent to the Ukrainian Government through the Embassy of India in Kiev in this regard. The Ukrainian Minister responded positively and assured that concerned authorities in Ukraine would be informed.
The other members of the Ukrainian delegation were Ms Olga Trofimtseva, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, Dr Igor Polikha, Ambassador of Ukraine in New Delhi, Ms Ivan S.Konovalov, First Secretary, Embassy of Ukraine in New Delhi, Mr Andre, First Secretary, Embassy of Ukraine in New Delhi and Mr. Oleksiy Ivanyuta, Chief of Sales Department, Energomashspetsstl. Senior officials of the Ministry of Shipping were present during the meeting.

Cabinet apprised of India-Japan MoU for Collaborative Research in Silkworm & Silk Industries

The Union Cabinet was yesterday apprised of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Central Silk Board (CSB), India and National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), Japan for collaborative research in the field of silkworm and silk industries.
The MoU was signed on November 11, 2016, between CSB and NIAS for initiating collaborative research for developing prolific bivoltine hybrids of silkworm suitable for the Indian tropical conditions. 
The MoU is of scientific and technological nature. It would help in developing prolific hybrid silkworms, which would improve the manufacturing capacity and the quality standards of the Indian sericulture industry and thereby enhance exports of silk and silk products, an official press release said.
It is expected that subsequent to the MoU, the Indian textiles and apparel industry would be able to produce world class silk and silk products. The improvement of quality and productivity would ultimately increase export of silk products, the release added.

Cabinet nod for implementation of Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved a Dairy Processing & Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) with an outlay of Rs 10,881 crore from financial year 2017-18 to FY 2028-29.
Consequent to the Union Budget 2017-18 announcement, the Fund will be set up as a corpus of Rs 8004 crore with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), an official press release said.
The release said the Expenditure Finance Committee has given approval for the initiation and setting up of the fund at a total scheme outlay of Rs 10881 crore. Out of this outlay for project components of DIDF, Rs 8004 crore will be a loan from NABARD to National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and National Dairy Development Cooperation (NCDC). 
While Rs 2001 crore will be the end borrowers' contribution, Rs 12 crore will be NDDB/NCDC‘s share and Rs 864 crore will be contributed by DADF towards interest subvention. NABARD will disburse Rs 2004 crore, Rs 3006 crore and Rs 2994 crore during 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively.
Allocation of Rs 864 crore for meeting interest subvention will be released to NABARD over a period of 12 years covering the entire loan repayment period, the release said.
The project will focus on building an efficient milk procurement system by setting up of chilling infrastructure and installation of electronic milk adulteration testing equipment, creation/modernization/expansion of processing infrastructure and manufacturing faculties for Value Added Products for the Milk Unions/ Milk Producer Companies.
The project will be implemented by NDDB and NCDC directly through end borrowers such as Milk Unions, State Dairy Federations, Multi-state Milk Cooperatives, Milk Producer Companies and NDDB subsidiaries meeting the eligibility criteria for the project. An Implementation and Monitoring Cell (IMC) located at NDDB, Anand, will manage the implementation and monitoring of day-to-day project activities.
The end borrowers will get the loan at the rate 6.5% per annum. The period of repayment will be 10 years with initial two years moratorium. The respective State Governments will be the guarantor of loan repayment. Also, if the end user is not able to contribute its share for the project sanctioned, the State Government will contribute the same.
With this investment, 95,00,000 farmers in about 50,000  villages would be benefitted. Additional milk processing capacity of 126 lakh litre per day, milk drying capacity of 210 MT per day, milk chilling capacity of 140 lakh litre per day, installation of 28000 Bulk Milk Coolers (BMCs) along with electronic milk adulteration testing equipment and value added products manufacturing capacity of 59.78 lakh litre per day of milk equivalent will be created, the release said.
Initially, the Department will start the project with 39 profit making milk unions of 12 States, other Milk Cooperatives which become eligible on the basis of their net worth and profit levels, in subsequent years, will be able to apply for a loan under DIDF.
The implementation of DIDF scheme will generate direct and indirect employment opportunities for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manpower. Direct employment opportunities for about 40,000 people will be created under the scheme through project activities like expansion & modernisation of existing milk processing facilities, setting up of new processing plants, the establishment of manufacturing facilities for value added products and setting up of Bulk Milk Coolers (BMCs) at the village level.
About 200,000 indirect employment opportunities will be created on account of the expansion of milk and milk product marketing operations from existing Tier I, II & III to Tier IV, V & VI cities/towns etc. This will lead to the deployment of more marketing staff by Milk Cooperatives, the appointment of distributors and opening of additional milk booths/retail outlets in urban/rural locations.
With the increase in milk procurement operations of the Milk Cooperatives, there would be a generation of additional manpower employment for supervision of increased milk procurement operations, transportation of milk from villages to processing units, and increased input delivery services like Artificial Insemination (AI)  services, Veterinary Services, and so on, the release added.

Cabinet approves introduction of Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for introduction of the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament.
The amendment will increase the maximum limit of the gratuity of employees, in the private sector and in public sector undertakings and autonomous organizations under Government who are not covered under CCS (Pension) Rules, at par with Central Government employees.
The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 applies to establishments employing 10 or more persons. The main purpose for enacting this Act is to provide social security to workmen after retirement, whether retirement is a result of the rules of superannuation or physical disablement or impairment of vital part of the body. Therefore, the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 is an important social security legislation to wage earning population in industries, factories and establishments, an official press release said.
The present upper ceiling on gratuity amount under the Act is Rs. 10 lakh. The provisions for Central Government employees under Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 with regard to gratuity are also similar. Before implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission, the ceiling under CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 was Rs. 10 lakh. However, with the implementation of 7th Central Pay Commission, in case of Government servants, the ceiling now is Rs. 20 lakh effective from January 1, 2016.
"Therefore, considering the inflation and wage increase even in case of employees engaged in the private sector, the Government is of the view that the entitlement of gratuity should be revised for employees who are covered under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. Accordingly, the Government initiated the process for an amendment to Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972," the release added.

India's retail inflation rate rises to 3.36% in August 2017

India's annual retail inflation rate, as tracked through the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose to 3.36 percent in August 2017 from 2.36 percent in the previous month.
An official press release said the inflation rates based on the CPI in August 2017 were 3.30% in rural areas and 3.35% in urban areas, making for a combined rate of 3.36% as compared to 5.05% in the corresponding month of the previous year.
The inflation rates based on the Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) were 1.38% in rural areas and 1.67% in urban areas, adding up to a combined rate of 1.52%, as compared to -0.36% in the previous month and 5.91% in the same month of last year.

India's industrial output grows by 1.2% in July 2017

Moving back to positive territory, India's industrial output grew by 1.2 percent in July 2017, as compared to the level in the same month of the previous year.
The Quick Estimates of Index of Industrial Production and Use-Based Index for the Month of July, 2017 (Base 2011-12=100), released here today by the Central Statistics Office of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, said the General Index for the month stood at 118.2.
The cumulative growth for the period April-July 2017 over the corresponding period of the previous year stood at 1.7%, an official statement said, quoting the provisional data.
The statement said the Indices of Industrial Production for the Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity sectors for July 2017 stand at 92.6, 119.5 and 151.8, respectively, with corresponding growth rates of 4.8%, 0.1% and 6.5% as compared to July 2016.
 The cumulative growth in these three sectors during April-July 2017 over the corresponding period of 2016 was 2.1%, 1.3% and 5.6%, respectively.
The statement said eight of the 23 industry groups in the manufacturing sector showed growth during July 2017 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
The industry group ‘Other manufacturing’ showed the highest growth of 20.9%, followed by 18.9% in ‘Manufacture of pharmaceuticals, medicinal chemical and botanical products’ and 10.5% in ‘Manufacture of other transport equipment’. 
On the other hand, the industry group ‘Manufacture of tobacco products’ showed the highest negative growth of (-) 43.4%, followed by (-) 11.1% in ‘Manufacture of electrical equipment’ and (-) 8.8% in ‘Printing and reproduction of recorded media’.
The statement said the growth rates in July 2017 over July 2016 were 2.3% in Primary goods, (-) 1.0% in Capital goods, (-) 1.8% in Intermediate goods and 3.7% in Infrastructure/ Construction Goods. Consumer durables and Consumer non-durables recorded growth of (-) 1.3% and 3.4%, respectively.
Important items which  showed high positive growth during July 2017 included ‘Steroids and hormonal preparations (including anti-fungal preparations)’ (89.4%), ‘Digestive enzymes and antacids (incl. PPI drugs)’ (54.5%), ‘API & formulations of hypo-lipidemic agents incl. anti-hyper-triglyceridemics (e.g. simvastatin, atorvastatin, etc); anti-hypertensive’ (43.1%), ‘Vaccine for veterinary medicine’ (42.5%), ‘Printed Circuit Boards (whether or not mounted with IC chips /components)’ (37.7%), ‘HR plates of mild steel’ (31.3%), ‘Axle’ (30.3%), ‘Jewellery of gold (studded with stones or not)’ (27.8%), ‘HR coils and sheets of mild steel’ (23.2%),  and  ‘Full-cream/ Toned/ Skimmed milk, whether or not chilled’ (20.5%).
Important items which registered high negative growth included ‘Other tobacco products’ [(-) 69.9%], ‘Shelled cashew kernel, whether or not processed/ roasted/ salted’ [(-) 61.5%], ‘Kerosene’ [(-) 51.5%], ‘Plastic jars, bottles and containers’ [(-) 50.5%], ‘Printing machinery’ [(-) 48.9%], ‘Ayurvedic and Homeopathic medicaments’ [(-) 35.7%],  ‘Tooth Paste’ [(-) 32.0%], ‘Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits (e.g switchgear, circuit breakers/switches, control/ meter panel)’ [(-) 30.5%], ‘Antibiotics, API & formulations’ [(-) 27.6%], ‘Palm Oil refined (including Palmolein)’ [(-) 26.5%] and ‘API & formulations of vitamins’ [(-) 22.1%].

Cabinet approves hiving off BSNL's mobile tower assets into separate company owned by it

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for hiving off the mobile tower assets of the public sector telecom services provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) into a separate company, fully owned by BSNL.
The approval authorizes BSNL to monetize its telecom tower infrastructure with the formation of a separate subsidiary company, an official press release said.
There are around 4,42,000 mobile towers in the country out of which more than 66,000 mobile tower are of BSNL. An independent, dedicated tower company of BSNL with a focused approach will lead to increasing of external tenancies and consequentially higher revenue for the new company, it said.
The release said the telecom tower industry has emerged as an independent business to harness the potential for sharing of infrastructure. 
The business model arose from the need to achieve economies of scale and to reduce capital investment costs for providing mobile services. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) policy allows sharing of passive infrastructure such as tower structure, diesel generator sets, battery units, power interface unit, air-conditioning and so on, which has facilitated the growth of the telecom infrastructure industry. 
A tower infrastructure company essentially owns the passive infrastructure asset and leases it to telecom service providers enabling them to minimize duplication of investments and economize on costs of operation and maintenance (O&M), thereby improving profitability.
Besides the captive model in BSNL and MTNL where the service provider owns their passive infrastructure also, there are three different business models within the telecom tower industry:- companies created by hiving off the tower assets portfolios of service providers into subsidiaries, companies established as independent joint venture entities by service providers jointly and companies promoted by specific service providers but established as independent entities with the promoter being the anchor tenant for the tower company.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket falls to $ 52.73/bbl

The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, fell to $ 52.73 per barrel (bbl) yesterday from $ 53.63 per bbl on the previous publishing day of September 8.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3368.39 per bbl on 11.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 3424.94 per bbl on 08.09.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed weaker at Rs. 63.89 per US$ on 11.09.2017 as compared to Rs. 63.87 per US$ on 08.09.2017, it added.

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 2525 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 2525 crore across various business segments, including contracts worth Rs. 2271 crore bagged by its Metallurgical & Material handling Business in the domestic market.
A press release from the company said the orders included an engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) contract for setting up a non-ferrous process plant in India, against stiff global competition. 
The scope of the work involves design, engineering, procurement, installation, construction & commissioning of various sub-units of the process plant and other associated works.
The business has secured another order for manufacturing and supply of material handling equipment for multiple customers.
Other business segments of L&T Construction have won orders worth Rs. 254 crores, the release said.
The Power Transmission & Distribution Business has bagged an order from Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). The scope of works includes supply and construction of a 500/230kV Gas Insulated Sub-station and improvement works in two 230kV Gas Insulated Sub-stations. The business has bagged this prestigious order for the highest voltage level GIS in the region along with a consortium partner.
The Smart World & Communication Business has received an order from Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (ELCOT) for the supply, installation, commissioning, configuration, testing and O&M of the existing Tamil Nadu State Data Centre (TNSDC) Phase – I. The scope of work includes setting up of a data centre with upgradation of IT infrastructure such as servers, network routers & switches and related software.

AAI to construct Integrated Cargo Terminal at Imphal Airport

Airports Authority of India (AAI) will undertake construction of an Integrated Cargo Terminal at Imphal Airport in Manipur after obtaining grant-in-aid under the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
The Government of Manipur had planned to establish an Export Import Cargo Terminal (EICT) at Tulihal, Imphal Airport under ASIDE Scheme of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. 
The proposed Integrated Cargo Terminal is expected to give a boost to the export of handicrafts items and perishable cargo, an official press release said.
It will also help generate employment opportunities in the North Eastern region of the country, thereby fostering economic development of the region. In addition to this, the EICT will help establish better connectivity with South and Southeast Asia and give a boost to trade between India and the ASEAN countries, the release said.
According to it, the estimated cost construction of the cargo terminal is Rs. 16.20 crore. Out of this, the Ministry of Commerce & Industry has sanctioned a grant of Rs. 12.96 crore under TIES. The balance amount to construct will be met out of the internal sources of AAI, the release added.
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