ADVERTISEMENT

Mumbai

Actor-politician Vinod Khanna passes away after losing battle with cancer

Well-known Hindi film actor Vinod Khanna, who had a huge fan following for his many tough guy roles on screen as well as for his looks and who later became an active politician, died in Mumbai on Thursday morning after losing a long battle with cancer.

 
Actor Vinod Khanna passes away
Well-known Hindi film actor Vinod Khanna, who had a huge fan following for his many tough guy roles on screen as well as for his looks and who later became an active politician, died here this morning after losing a long battle with cancer.
 
He was 70. He is survived by his wife Kavita, three sons -- Rahul, Akshaye and Sakshi -- and a daughter, Shraddha.
 
The actor was admitted to the Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Center in Girgaon ,Mumbai in early April and breathed his last this morning, sources said.
 
His fans were shocked when they saw him in extremely frail health in a picture posted on social media while he was in hospital, and there were reports in the media then that he had been battling cancer for a long time.
 
His family, who were with him in his last days, did not give out any information about his health. The hospital, however, said today that he was suffering from cancer.
 
Khanna was a four-time member of Parliament, and represented the constituency of Gurdaspur in Punjab in the current Lok Sabha. He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1998 as a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and was re-elected in 1999, 2004 and 2014.
 
He served as Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture from July 1, 2002 to January 28, 2003 and as Minister of State for External Affairs from January 29, 2003 to May, 2004 in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
During his long career in Bollywood, he appeared in more than a hundred films, starting out with negative roles before graduating to lead roles in several successful movies. He made his debut in 1968 with Mann Ka Meet, and won popular and critical acclaim for his roles in films such as Mere Apne, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Achanak, Imtihan, Inkaar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Dayavaan, Jurm and Qurbani.
 
At the peak of his career, Khanna suddenly took a complete break from movies and joined spiritual guru Osho Rajneesh at his ashram. He returned to Bollywood after a five-year gap and starred in big hits such as Insaaf and Satyame Jayate. In recent years, he appeared in movies such as Dabangg, Players, Dabangg 2 and Dilwale.
 
Born on October 6, 1946, Khanna studied at St. Xavier's High School, Mumbai, Delhi Public School, Delhi, Lord Barnes High School, Devlali and Sydenham College, Mumbai.
 
He had served as the Chairman of the Film and Television Institute, Pune from 1998 to 2002. He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
 
Khanna married Geetanjali in 1971 and had two sons with her, Rahul and Akshaye, before they divorced. He married Kavita in 1990 and the couple had a son, Sakshi and daughter Shraddha.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

UFO Moviez India announces strategic tie-up with United Media Works

ADVERTISEMENT
UFO Moviez India Limited (UFO) has announced a strategic tie-up with United Media Works Pvt. Limited (UMW), a digital cinema technology and service provider having more than 300 digitized cinema screens on its network in India. 
 
Under this tie up, UFO has acquired long term exclusive rights from UMW to monetize the advertising inventory on these screens, a press release from the company said.
 
In addition, UFO will share movie content to these screens in UFO M-4 format. However, existing commercial and service arrangement between UMW and its channel partners, exhibitors and distributors shall remain unchanged, it said.
 
Mr. Rajesh Mishra, CEO Indian Operations, UFO Moviez said, “This strategic move leverages the strengths of both the companies and will be mutually beneficial.”
 
 Mr. Ashish Bhandari and Mr. Sachin Bhandari, Joint Managing Directors, UMW said, “We are very happy to be associated with UFO, the market leader in the digital cinema space, and are confident that this co-operation will be fruitful to both the organizations."
 
UFO Moviez India Limited is India’s largest digital cinema distribution network and in-cinema advertising platform in terms of number of screens. It operates India’s largest satellite-based, digital cinema distribution network using its UFO-M4 platform, as well as India’s largest D-Cinema network. 
 
As on December 31, 2016, its global network, along with its subsidiaries and associates, spans 6,674 screens worldwide, including 5,052 screens across India and Nepal and 1,622 screens across the Middle East (UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan), Israel, Mexico and the USA serviced by its subsidiary Scrabble Entertainment Ltd.
 
The company has also created a pan India, high impact in-cinema advertising platform with generally long-term advertising rights to 3,737 screens, with an aggregate seating capacity of approximately 1.74 million viewers and a reach of 1,911 locations across India, as on December 31, 2016. 
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Godrej Properties partners with Taj for luxury hotel at The Trees, Mumbai

ADVERTISEMENT
Real estate developer Godrej Properties Limited (GPL) today said it had partnered with Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris to develop a world class Taj brand hotel at The Trees, its flagship project, at Vikhroli here.
 
The Taj at The Trees will offer approximately 150 guest rooms and suites along with world class dining, entertainment, and conferencing facilities, a press release from the company said.
 
Situated in the heart of the city, Vikhroli is well connected to all of Mumbai’s major transit points and business hubs, it said.
 
The Trees is located just off the Eastern Express Highway and offers connectivity to BKC through the Santa Cruz Link Road (SCLR) in just 15 minutes and to Fort through the Eastern Freeway in just 30 minutes, the release said.
 
According to it, the future planned infrastructure in the city, including the bridge from Nava Sheva to Sewri and the proposed new airport, will further transform Vikhroli and the eastern belt into the central destination for Mumbai.  
 
"The Godrej Group’s landholdings in Vikhroli include a privately controlled mangrove reserve that is five times the size of London’s famed Hyde Park offering residents the opportunity to live in the heart of the city while forever remaining deeply connected to nature and fresh air," it said.
 
The release said the Trees mixed-use development contains a commercial precinct spread across 9.4 acres, which houses Godrej One, the Godrej Group’s global headquarters, which is now complete.
 
The more private luxury residential precinct spread across 6.7 acres will house a community of residential buildings with private parks and an iconic clubhouse facility.  The central mixed use precinct, spread over 9.2 acres, will comprise a Taj hotel, a luxury residential project named Godrej Origins, cultural buildings, and a high street retail court, it said.
 
"Adaptive reuse of heritage industrial structures within the development creates a unique and distinctive design and cultural experience. The Trees was awarded the Mixed Use Development of the Year award at the Asian Customer Engagement Forum (ACEF) Property Awards and received an Honor Award from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.  Godrej One, the first completed building within The Trees, received the Commercial building of the Year Award at the NDTV Property Awards 2015," it said.
 
The company said it had collaborated with several renowned architects and engineering consultants to design the project. Sasaki Architects, the master planners for The Trees, have developed several iconic projects including the Beijing Olympics Masterplan. Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the lead architects for Godrej One, are well known for designing architectural icons such as the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
 
"Continuing with the Godrej Group’s legacy of environmental leadership, this development aspires to be among the most sustainable in the world. Cutting-edge engineering features appear throughout the master plan and building design to ensure that energy requirements are minimized and water is conserved. All structures within the development will be planned as LEED or IGBC Platinum rated, which are globally recognized as the highest rating of sustainable design. Godrej Origins, the residential development, that is now being opened for sale is IGBC Platinum pre-certified," it said.
 
Mr. Pirojsha Godrej, Executive Chairman, Godrej Properties said, “We are thrilled to partner with Taj to create a luxury hotel at our flagship project. Our endeavour is to make The Trees India’s most exciting mixed-use development and this partnership is an important milestone towards that goal.  We look forward to working closely with the Taj team to create a landmark hotel.”
 
Mr. Rakesh Sarna, MD and CEO, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris said, “We are very pleased to be associated with a group like Godrej, which is synonymous with trust, integrity and quality. We share their commitment of sustainable development and we look forward to bringing world-class hospitality to this great location.”
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 2694 crore

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 2694 across various business segments.
 
A press release from the company said its Water & Effluent Treatment Business had received engineering, procurement & construction orders worth Rs. 2227 crore.
 
Orders have been secured from Narmada Water Resource Water Supply and Kalpsar Department, Government of Gujarat for Kakrapar - Gordha -Vad Lift Irrigation, Kadana - Patadungri Lift Irrigation and Sauni Yojana Link-2 Package 4 projects, it said.
 
The scope includes design and construction of pumping station with pumps, sub-stations, transformers along with MS pipeline rising mains, an underground pipeline distribution network and other allied electro-mechanical works.
 
Another order has been bagged from Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Limited, Karnataka for Nandawadagi Lift Irrigation project. The scope of work includes construction of approach channel, sump & pump house with pumps, switchyard, transmission line and allied electro-mechanical equipment along with MS pipeline rising mains, delivery chamber and other ancillary works.
 
The business has also received additional orders from its various ongoing projects, the release said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The company said its Smart World Communication Business had received an order worth Rs. 180 crore from Greater Vishakhapatnam Smart City Corporation Limited as System Integrator to implement smart city solutions for the city of Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh under the Smart City Mission.
 
The scope of work includes installation of citywide surveillance system, variable message boards, public address systems, wi-fi access points, data centre with disaster recovery, command control centre, collaborative monitoring and facility management system. The project also includes implementation of smart elements such as solid waste management system, smart transport, smart poles, smart lighting, environmental sensor and enterprise resource planning.
 
The company also said that its Transportation Infrastructure Business had bagged an engineering, procurement and construction order worth Rs. 287 crore from the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MORTH) for two laning of the Helwak-Karad Section of NH-166E in Maharashtra. The scope of work includes construction of 48.4 km of two-lane carriageway with concrete pavement, one major bridge, 14 minor bridges and other associated works.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Centre may revive option of sending Haj pilgrims to Jeddah via sea route: Naqvi

ADVERTISEMENT
Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said that the Government was considering revival of the option of sending Haj pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the coming days.
 
Addressing a training of trainers programme at Haj House here yesterday, Mr Naqvi said a high-level committee, formed by the government to frame the Haj Policy 2018 according to Supreme Court’s 2012 order, was exploring ways to revive the option of sending pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah.
 
Dispatching pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses by nearly half as compared to airfares. It will be a revolutionary, pilgrim-friendly decision, he said.
 
The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by sea was stopped in 1995. At present, devotees undertake the journey by air from 21 embarkation points across the country, he said.
 
Mr. Naqvi said another advantage with ships available these days is they are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4,000 to 5,000 persons at a time. They can cover the 2,300-odd nautical miles distance from Mumbai to Jeddah within two or three days. Earlier, the old ships used to take 12 to 15 days to cover this distance. The high-level committee will soon submit its report, he said.
 
The Minister said the new Haj Policy is aimed at making entire Haj process easier and transparent. Haj pilgrims’ facilities will be in focus in the new policy.
 
The Minority Affairs Ministry, in coordination with other concerned agencies, had started preparations for Haj pilgrimage very early. The Ministry’s aim is to provide world class facilities to Haj pilgrims. The Minister said the measure to make Haj process online has produced good results. A total of 1,29,196 Haj applications were done online.
 
The increase in India’s annual Haj quota by Saudi Arabia Government has benefited all the states as quota of the states for Haj 2017 has also been increased significantly. Saudi Arabia has increased annual Haj quota of India by 34,005. The decision in this regard had been taken during signing of bilateral annual Haj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia at Jeddah on January 11 this year. It is the biggest increase in the quota of Haj pilgrims from India after several years.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
About 99,903 people went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for Haj from 21 embarkation points across India through Haj Committee of India during Haj 2016. Apart from this, about 36,000 Haj pilgrims had proceeded for Haj through the private tour operators.
 
For Haj 2017, a total of 1,70,025 people will go from India out of which 1,25,025 will go through Haj Committee of India while 45,000 people will go through Private Tour Operators.
 
In the three-day training programme, officials from Haj Committee of India; Consulate of Saudi Arabia; Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Saudi Airlines; Air India; Customs; Immigration and doctors are providing information about “Do’s and Don’ts” during Haj.
 
This includes information about transport, accommodation and laws of Saudi Arabia. More than 500 trainers from different states are participating in the programme. The trainers will now train the pilgrims in training camps.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

India’s forex reserves fall by $ 956.4 million to $ 368.998 billion

ADVERTISEMENT
Reversing a six-week uptrend, India’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $ 956.4 million to $ 368.998 billion during the week ended April 7, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had risen by $ 2.022 billion to $ 369.954 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 gone down by $ 951 million to $ 345.367 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 $ 19.869 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $ 3.1 million to $ 1.443 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 2.3 million to $ 2.318 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Telecom: Reliance Jio announces new Unlimited Plans

Telecom services provider Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) today announced new unlimited plans with special benefits, exclusively for members of its Jio Prime scheme, after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) advised it last week to withdraw its Summer Surprise scheme.
 
Under the Summer Surprise scheme, announced on March 31, the company had said that all Jio Prime members, when they make their first paid recharge prior to April 15 using its Rs 303 plan (or any higher value plan), would get services for the initial three months on a complimentary basis.  
 
A press release from RJIL said that the Summer Surprise had been fully withdrawn.
 
Under the new scheme, called Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan, plans start with a Rs. 309 Unlimited Plan,which provides unlimited SMS, caling and data (1GB per day at 4G speed) for three months on first recharge.
 
Under the Rs. 509 All Unlimited Plan for daily high data users will be offered unlimited SMS, calling and data (2GB per day at 4G speed) for three months on first recharge. Further details of all the plans are posted on the company website www.jio.com.
 
Considering the special benefits that are available to Jio Prime members, customers who were unable to subscribe to the scheme for any reason, can continue to do so by paying Rs. 408 or Rs. 608 (Jio Prime + recharge price) to avail these benefits, the release said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"These plans will be available starting today. Existing Jio customers who have not done their first recharge so far, need to do so by 15 April 2017 to avoid degradation and/or discontinuation of services," the release said.
 
The company, a subsidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), said it was currently implementing the world’s largest migration from free to paid services in such a short period of time. 
 
"In order to smoothen the migration from free to paid services, Jio has implemented simple, affordable and regulatory compliant plans in customer interest. Jio looks forward to customers making full use of this opportunity to avail the most attractive tariff plans in the industry, which are unparalleled globally.
 
"With this, Jio extends the benefits of a superior and advanced technology to take India to global digital leadership. Jio’s unmatched data strong network is capable of meeting the burgeoning data requirements of hundreds of millions of Indians. The announcement also marks another step in Jio’s commitment to continuously delight its customers and enable them to live a fully digital life. Jio is thankful to the millions of customers who have taken up Jio services," the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

L&T Construction wins Rs. 5250 crore order from KAHRAMAA, Qatar

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said the Power Transmission and Distribution Business of its construction arm had won its single largest order, valued at Rs. 5250 crore, in the Middle East from KAHRAMAA - Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation - for its ongoing Qatar Electricity Transmission Network Expansion Plan-Phase XIII. 
 
Through this ambitious project, KAHRAMAA intends to expand the existing power transmission network to meet the ever-increasing demand for power due to the developmental works in the State of Qatar, a press release from the company said.
 
The prestigious $ 817 million order will involve the engineering, procurement and construction of 30 new Gas Insulated Sub-stations of varying voltage levels of 220 kV, 132 kV and 66 kV and approximately 560 km of 132 kV and 66 kV underground cables under various definite and framework packages. The works of the project are spread all over the Gulf state, including both freshly developed as well as already developed areas, it said. The project is scheduled for completion in phases from 15 to 32 months.
 
“The development drive in the State of Qatar is in high gear and we are proud to be partnering in it by bagging yet another prestigious project from KAHRAMAA,” Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, Deputy Managing Director & President, Larsen & Toubro, said.
 
“We have been associated with KAHRAMAA for over a decade which has put in place a programme well ahead of the times to provide sufficient power and water for Qatar. We look forward to furthering this significant strategic relationship and continue to play a key role in making Qatar proud and a very modern state,” he added.
 
After being involved in Phases VIII, X, XI and XI-A, this mandate from KAHRAMAA represents a repeat order for Phase XII, the release said.
 
Previously, KAHRAMMA has awarded L& T more than 40 sub-stations and approximately 100 km of high-voltage cabling projects worth nearly $ 1.1 billion. 
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

India's forex reserves soar by $ 2.022 billion to $ 369.954 billion

ADVERTISEMENT
Continuing an uptrend for the sixth consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 2.022 billion to $ 369.954 billion during the week ended March 31, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had risen by $ 1.151 billion to $ $367.932 billion in 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 gone up by $ 2.083 billion to $ 346.318 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 decreased by $45 million to $ 19.869 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $ 5.1 million to $ 1.446 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 10.7 million to $ 2.320 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Regulator TRAI advises Jio to withdraw three-month complimentary offer

ADVERTISEMENT
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today advised telecom services provider Reliance Jio, a subsidiary of energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to withdraw the three-month complimentary benefits it had offered to its Prime Members under the Summer Surprise scheme.
 
Under the scheme, announced on March 31, the company had said that all members, when they make their first paid recharge prior to April 15 using Jio’s Rs 303 plan (or any higher value plan), would get services for the initial three months on a complimentary basis.  
 
The paid tariff plan will be applied only in July, after the expiry of the complimentary service, the company had said.
 
"Today, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has advised Jio to withdraw the 3 months complimentary benefits of Jio Summer Surprise.
 
"Jio accepts this decision. Jio is in the process of fully complying with the regulator’s advice, and will be withdrawing the 3 months complimentary benefits of Jio Summer Surprise as soon as operationally feasible, over the next few days," a press release from the company said.
 
"However, all customers who have subscribed to Jio Summer Suprise offer prior to its discontinuation will remain eligible for the offer," the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Full Text: RBI's First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18

RBI logo
 
Following is the text of the Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17 and Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued here today: 
 
Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Reserve Bank of India
 
On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation at its meeting today, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to:
 
keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.25 per cent.
 
Consequent upon the narrowing of the LAF corridor as elaborated in the accompanying Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies, the reverse repo rate under the LAF is at 6.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate are at 6.50 per cent.
 
The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The main considerations underlying the decision are set out in the statement below.
 
Assessment
 
2. Since the MPC met in February 2017, indicators of global growth suggest signs of stronger activity in most advanced economies (AEs) and easing of recessionary conditions in commodity exporting large emerging market economies (EMEs). In the US, high frequency data indicate that the labour market, industrial production and retail sales are catalysing a recovery in Q1 of 2017 from a relatively subdued performance in the preceding quarter. Nonetheless, risks to higher growth have arisen from non-realisation or under-achievement of macroeconomic policies. In the Euro area, the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to a six-year high in March amidst improving consumer confidence and steadily strengthening employment conditions. In the Japanese economy, nascent signs of revival are evident in the form of falling unemployment, improving business sentiment on fixed investment, and rising exports helped by the depreciation of the yen; however, deflation risks linger.
 
3. For EMEs, the outlook is gradually improving, with indications that the slowdown characterising 2016 could be bottoming out. In China, supportive macroeconomic policies, surging credit growth and a booming property market have held up the momentum of growth albeit amidst concerns about financial stability and capital outflows. In Brazil, hardening commodity prices are providing tailwinds to reforms undertaken by the authorities to pull the economy out of recession, although financial fragilities remain a risk. Russia is benefiting from the firming up of crude prices and it is widely expected that growth will return to positive territory in 2017.
 
4. Inflation is edging up in AEs to or above target levels on the back of slowly diminishing slack, tighter labour markets and rising commodity prices. Among EMEs, Turkey and South Africa remain outliers in an otherwise generalised softening of inflation pressures. Global trade volumes are finally showing signs of improvement amidst shifts in terms of trade, with exports rising strongly in several EMEs as well as in some AEs whose currencies have depreciated.
 
5. International financial markets have been impacted by policy announcements in major AEs, geo-political events and country-specific factors. Equity markets in AEs were driven up by reflation trade, stronger incoming data and currency movements. Equity markets in EMEs had a mixed performance, reflecting domestic factors amidst a cautious return of investor appetite and capital flows. In the second half of March, dovish guidance on US monetary policy lifted equities across jurisdictions, especially in Asia, as the reach for EME assets resumed strongly, although doubts about the realisation of US policies, Brexit and softer crude prices tempered sentiments. Bond markets have mirrored the uncertainty surrounding the commitment to fiscal stimulus in the US and yields traded sideways in AEs, while they generally eased across EMEs. In the currency markets, the US dollar’s bull run lost steam by mid-March. EME currencies initially rose on optimism on the global outlook, but some of them have weakened in recent days with the fall in commodity prices. Crude prices touched a three-month low in March on rising shale output and US inventories. Food prices have been firming up globally, driven by cereals.
 
6. On the domestic front, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) released its second advance estimates for 2016-17 on February 28, placing India’s real GVA growth at 6.7 per cent for the year, down from 7 per cent in the first advance estimates released on January 6. Agriculture expanded robustly year-on-year after two consecutive years of sub-one per cent growth. In the industrial sector, there was a significant loss of momentum across all categories, barring electricity generation. The services sector also slowed, pulled down by trade, hotels, transport and communication as well as financial, real estate and professional services. Public administration, defence and other services cushioned this slowdown. To some extent, government expenditure made up for weakness in private consumption and capital formation.
 
7. Several indicators are pointing to a modest improvement in the macroeconomic outlook. Foodgrains production has touched an all-time high of 272 million tonnes, with record production of rice, wheat and pulses. The record production of wheat should boost procurement operations and economise on imports, which had recently surged. Rice stocks, which had depleted to close to the minimum buffer norm, have picked up with kharif procurement. The bumper production of pulses has helped in building up to the intended buffer stock (i.e., 20 lakh tonnes) and this will keep the price of pulses under check – the domestic price of pulses has already fallen below the minimum support price (MSP).
 
ADVERTISEMENT
8. Industrial output, measured by the index of industrial production (IIP), recovered in January from a contraction in the previous month, helped by a broad-based turnaround in manufacturing as well as mining and quarrying. Capital goods production improved appreciably, although this largely reflected the waning of unfavourable base effects. Consumer non-durables continued, however, to contract for the second successive month in spite of supportive base effects. Thus, investment and rural consumption demand remain muted. The output of core industries moderated in February due to slowdown in production of all the components except coal. The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) remained in expansion mode in February and rose to a five month high in March on the back of growth of new orders and output. The future output index also rose strongly on forecasts of pick-up in demand and the launch of new product lines. The 77th round of the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey indicates that overall business sentiment is expected to improve in Q1 of 2017-18 on the back of a sharp pick up in both domestic and external demand. Coincident indicators such as exports and non-oil non-gold imports are indicative of a brighter outlook for industry, although the sizable under-utilisation of capacity in several industries could operate as a drag on investment.
 
9. Activity in the services sector appears to be improving as the constraining effects of demonetisation wear off. On the one hand, rural demand remains depressed as reflected in lower sales of two- and three-wheelers and fertiliser. On the other hand, high frequency indicators relating to railway traffic, telephone subscribers, foreign tourist arrivals, passenger car and commercial vehicles are regaining pace, thereby positioning the services sector on a rising trajectory. After three consecutive months of contraction, the services PMI for February and March emerged into the expansion zone on improvement in new business.
 
10. After moderating continuously over the last six months to a historic low, retail inflation measured by year-on-year changes in the consumer price index (CPI) turned up in February to 3.7 per cent. While food prices bottomed out at the preceding month’s level, base effects pushed up inflation in this category. Prices of sugar, fruits, meat, fish, milk and processed foods increased, generating a sizable jump in the momentum in the food group. In the fuel group, inflation increased as the continuous hardening of international prices lifted domestic prices of liquefied petroleum gas during December 2016 – February 2017. Kerosene prices have also been increasing since July with the programmed reduction of the subsidy. Adapting to the movements in these salient prices, both three months ahead and a year ahead households’ inflation expectations, which had dipped in the December round of the Reserve Bank’s survey, reversed in the latest round. Moreover, the survey reveals hardening of price expectations across product groups. The 77th round of the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey indicates that pricing power is returning to corporates as profit margins get squeezed by input costs.
 
11. Excluding food and fuel, inflation moderated in February by 20 basis points to 4.8 per cent, essentially on transient and item-specific factors. In February, favourable base effects were at work in the clothing and bedding sub-group as well as in personal care and effects, the latter also influenced by the disinflation in gold prices. The volatility in crude oil prices and its lagged pass-through are impacting the trajectory of CPI inflation excluding food and fuel. Much of the impact of the fall of US $4.5 per barrel in international prices of crude since early February would feed into the CPI print in April as its cumulative pass-through occurred with a lag in the first week of this month. Importantly, inflation excluding food and fuel has exhibited persistence and has been significantly above headline inflation since September 2016.
 
12. With progressive remonetisation, the surplus liquidity in the banking system declined from a peak of Rs. 7,956 billion on January 4, 2017 to an average of Rs. 6,014 billion in February and further down to Rs. 4,806 billion in March. Currency in circulation expanded steadily during this period. Its impact on the liquidity overhang was, however, partly offset by a significant decline in cash balances of the Government up to mid-March which released liquidity into the system. Thereafter, the build-up of Government cash balances on account of advance tax payments and balance sheet adjustment by banks reduced surplus liquidity to Rs. 3,141 billion by end-March. Issuances of cash management bills (CMBs) under the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) ceased in mid-January and existing issues matured, with the consequent release of liquidity being absorbed primarily through variable rate reverse repo auctions of varying tenors. Accordingly, the average net absorption by the Reserve Bank increased from Rs. 2,002 billion in January to Rs. 4,483 billion in March. The weighted average call money rate (WACR) remained within the LAF corridor. The maturing of CMBs and reduced issuance of Treasury bills leading up to end-March has also contributed to Treasury bill rates being substantially below the policy rate.
 
13. Merchandise exports rose strongly in February 2017 from a subdued profile in the preceding months. Growth impulses were broad-based, with major contributors being engineering goods, petroleum products, iron ore, rice and chemicals. The surge in imports in January and February 2017 largely reflected the effect of the hardening of commodity prices such as crude oil and coal. Non-oil non-gold imports continued to grow at a modest pace, though capital goods imports remained sluggish. With imports outpacing exports, the trade deficit widened in January and February from its level a year ago, though it was lower on a cumulative basis for the period April-February 2016-17.
 
14. Balance of payments data for Q3 indicate that the current account deficit for the first three quarters of the financial year narrowed to 0.7 per cent of GDP, half of its level a year ago. For the year as a whole, the current account deficit is likely to remain muted at less than 1 per cent of GDP. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has dominated net capital inflows during April-December, with manufacturing, communication and financial services being the preferred sectors. Turbulence in global financial markets set off a bout of global risk aversion and flight to safe haven that caused net outflows of foreign portfolio investment (FPI) during November 2016 to January 2017. The tide reversed with the pricing in of the Fed’s normalisation path and improvement in global growth prospects. FPI flows turned positive in February and welled up into a surge in March, especially in debt markets relative to equity markets (which had been the dominant recipient until February). This reversal appears to have been driven by stable domestic inflation, better than expected domestic growth, encouraging corporate earnings, clarity on FPI taxation, pro-reform budget proposals and state election results. The level of foreign exchange reserves was US$ 369.9 billion on March 31, 2017.
 
Outlook
 
ADVERTISEMENT
15. Since the February bi-monthly monetary policy statement, inflation has been quiescent. Headline CPI inflation is set to undershoot the target of 5.0 per cent for Q4 of 2016-17 in view of the sub-4 per cent readings for January and February. For 2017-18, inflation is projected to average 4.5 per cent in the first half of the year and 5 per cent in the second half.
 
16. Risks are evenly balanced around the inflation trajectory at the current juncture. There are upside risks to the baseline projection. The main one stems from the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the south west monsoon in view of the rising probability of an El Niño event around July-August, and its implications for food inflation. Proactive supply management will play a critical role in staving off pressures on headline inflation. A prominent risk could emanate from managing the implementation of the allowances recommended by the 7th CPC. In case the increase in house rent allowance as recommended by the 7th CPC is awarded, it will push up the baseline trajectory by an estimated 100-150 basis points over a period of 12-18 months, with this initial statistical impact on the CPI followed up by second-order effects. Another upside risk arises from the one-off effects of the GST. The general government deficit, which is high by international comparison, poses yet another risk for the path of inflation, which is likely to be exacerbated by farm loan waivers. Recent global developments entail a reflation risk which may lift commodity prices further and pass through into domestic inflation. Moreover, geopolitical risks may induce global financial market volatility with attendant spillovers. On the downside, international crude prices have been easing recently and their pass-through to domestic prices of petroleum products should alleviate pressure on headline inflation. Also, stepped-up procurement operations in the wake of the record production of foodgrains will rebuild buffer stocks and mitigate food price stress, if it materialises.
 
17. GVA growth is projected to strengthen to 7.4 per cent in 2017-18 from 6.7 per cent in 2016-17, with risks evenly balanced.
 
18. Several favourable domestic factors are expected to drive this acceleration. First, the pace of remonetisation will continue to trigger a rebound in discretionary consumer spending. Activity in cash-intensive retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transportation and unorganised segments has largely been restored. Second, significant improvement in transmission of past policy rate reductions into banks’ lending rates post demonetisation should help encourage both consumption and investment demand of healthy corporations. Third, various proposals in the Union Budget should stimulate capital expenditure, rural demand, and social and physical infrastructure all of which would invigorate economic activity. Fourth, the imminent materialisation of structural reforms in the form of the roll-out of the GST, the institution of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and the abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board will boost investor confidence and bring in efficiency gains. Fifth, the upsurge in initial public offerings in the primary capital market augurs well for investment and growth.
 
19. The global environment is improving, with global output and trade projected by multilateral agencies to gather momentum in 2017. Accordingly, external demand should support domestic growth. Downside risks to the projected growth path stem from the outturn of the south west monsoon; ebbing consumer optimism on the outlook for income, the general economic situation and employment as polled in the March 2017 round of the Reserve Bank’s consumer confidence survey; and, commodity prices, other than crude, hardening further.
 
20. Overall, the MPC’s considered judgement call to wait out the unravelling of the transitory effects of demonetisation has been broadly borne out. While these effects are still playing out, they are distinctly on the wane and should fade away by the Q4 of 2016-17. While inflation has ticked up in its latest reading, its path through 2017-18 appears uneven and challenged by upside risks and unfavourable base effects towards the second half of the year. Moreover, underlying inflation pressures persist, especially in prices of services. Input cost pressures are gradually bringing back pricing power to enterprises as demand conditions improve. The MPC remains committed to bringing headline inflation closer to 4.0 per cent on a durable basis and in a calibrated manner. Accordingly, inflation developments have to be closely and continuously monitored, with food price pressures kept in check so that inflation expectations can be re-anchored. At the same time, the output gap is gradually closing. Consequently, aggregate demand pressures could build up, with implications for the inflation trajectory.
 
21. Against this backdrop, the MPC decided to keep the policy rate unchanged in this review while persevering with a neutral stance. The future course of monetary policy will largely depend on incoming data on how macroeconomic conditions are evolving. Banks have reduced lending rates, although further scope for a more complete transmission of policy impulses remains, including for small savings/administered rates. It is in this context that greater clarity about liquidity management is being provided, even as surplus liquidity is being steadily drained out. Along with rebalancing liquidity conditions, it will be the Reserve Bank’s endeavour to put the resolution of banks’ stressed assets on a firm footing and create congenial conditions for bank credit to revive and flow to productive sectors of the economy.
 
22. Six members voted in favour of the monetary policy decision. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by April 20, 2017.
 
23. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on June 5 and 6, 2017.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

RBI keeps policy repo rate unchanged at 6.25%

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility unchanged at 6.25 percent as part of its objective of achieving its retail inflation target of 4 percent within a band of +/-2 percent, while supporting growth.

RBI logo
 
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.25 percent as part of its objective of achieving its retail inflation target of 4 percent within a band of +/- 2 percent, while supporting growth.
 
The First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18 of the RBI on the basis of the resolution of the MPC at its meeting here today said the decision was based on its assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation.
 
Consequent upon the narrowing of the LAF corridor, as elaborated in an accompanying Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies, the reverse repo rate under the LAF is at 6.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate are at 6.50 per cent.
 
"The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth," the statement said.
 
The resolution said that, since the February 2017 bi-monthly monetary policy statement, inflation had been quiescent. Headline CPI inflation is set to undershoot the target of 5.0 per cent for Q4 of 2016-17 in view of the sub-4 per cent readings for January and February. For 2017-18, inflation is projected to average 4.5 per cent in the first half of the year and 5 per cent in the second half, it said.
 
"Risks are evenly balanced around the inflation trajectory at the current juncture. There are upside risks to the baseline projection. The main one stems from the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the south west monsoon in view of the rising probability of an El Niño event around July-August, and its implications for food inflation. Proactive supply management will play a critical role in staving off pressures on headline inflation. 
 
"A prominent risk could emanate from managing the implementation of the allowances recommended by the 7th CPC. In case the increase in house rent allowance as recommended by the 7th CPC is awarded, it will push up the baseline trajectory by an estimated 100-150 basis points over a period of 12-18 months, with this initial statistical impact on the CPI followed up by second-order effects. 
 
"Another upside risk arises from the one-off effects of the GST. The general government deficit, which is high by international comparison, poses yet another risk for the path of inflation, which is likely to be exacerbated by farm loan waivers. Recent global developments entail a reflation risk which may lift commodity prices further and pass through into domestic inflation. Moreover, geopolitical risks may induce global financial market volatility with attendant spillovers. 
 
"On the downside, international crude prices have been easing recently and their pass-through to domestic prices of petroleum products should alleviate pressure on headline inflation. Also, stepped-up procurement operations in the wake of the record production of foodgrains will rebuild buffer stocks and mitigate food price stress, if it materialises," it said.
 
The resolution said GVA growth is projected to strengthen to 7.4 per cent in 2017-18 from 6.7 per cent in 2016-17, with risks evenly balanced.
 
"Several favourable domestic factors are expected to drive this acceleration. First, the pace of remonetisation will continue to trigger a rebound in discretionary consumer spending. Activity in cash-intensive retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transportation and unorganised segments has largely been restored. Second, significant improvement in transmission of past policy rate reductions into banks’ lending rates post demonetisation should help encourage both consumption and investment demand of healthy corporations. Third, various proposals in the Union Budget should stimulate capital expenditure, rural demand, and social and physical infrastructure all of which would invigorate economic activity. Fourth, the imminent materialisation of structural reforms in the form of the roll-out of the GST, the institution of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and the abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board will boost investor confidence and bring in efficiency gains. Fifth, the upsurge in initial public offerings in the primary capital market augurs well for investment and growth," it said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"The global environment is improving, with global output and trade projected by multilateral agencies to gather momentum in 2017. Accordingly, external demand should support domestic growth. Downside risks to the projected growth path stem from the outturn of the south west monsoon; ebbing consumer optimism on the outlook for income, the general economic situation and employment as polled in the March 2017 round of the Reserve Bank’s consumer confidence survey; and, commodity prices, other than crude, hardening further.
 
"Overall, the MPC’s considered judgement call to wait out the unravelling of the transitory effects of demonetisation has been broadly borne out. While these effects are still playing out, they are distinctly on the wane and should fade away by the Q4 of 2016-17. While inflation has ticked up in its latest reading, its path through 2017-18 appears uneven and challenged by upside risks and unfavourable base effects towards the second half of the year. Moreover, underlying inflation pressures persist, especially in prices of services. Input cost pressures are gradually bringing back pricing power to enterprises as demand conditions improve. 
 
"The MPC remains committed to bringing headline inflation closer to 4.0 per cent on a durable basis and in a calibrated manner. Accordingly, inflation developments have to be closely and continuously monitored, with food price pressures kept in check so that inflation expectations can be re-anchored. At the same time, the output gap is gradually closing. Consequently, aggregate demand pressures could build up, with implications for the inflation trajectory.
 
"Against this backdrop, the MPC decided to keep the policy rate unchanged in this review while persevering with a neutral stance. The future course of monetary policy will largely depend on incoming data on how macroeconomic conditions are evolving. Banks have reduced lending rates, although further scope for a more complete transmission of policy impulses remains, including for small savings/administered rates1. It is in this context that greater clarity about liquidity management is being provided, even as surplus liquidity is being steadily drained out. Along with rebalancing liquidity conditions, it will be the Reserve Bank’s endeavour to put the resolution of banks’ stressed assets on a firm footing and create congenial conditions for bank credit to revive and flow to productive sectors of the economy," it said.
 
Six members voted in favour of the monetary policy decision. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by April 20, 2017.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

RBI appoints Malvika Sinha as new Executive Director

ADVERTISEMENT
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has appointed Ms. Malvika Sinha as Executive Director (ED) consequent upon the appointment of Mr. B P Kanungo as Deputy Governor yesterday.
 
Ms. Sinha took charge of her new position yesterday, a press release from the central bank said.
 
As Executive Director, Ms. Sinha will look after Foreign Exchange Department, Department of Government and Bank Accounts and Internal Debt Management Department.
 
Ms. Sinha holds a Master's Degree from University of Bombay and has done her Master's in Public Administration. She is also a Certificated Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers.
 
She joined RBI in 1982 and as a career central banker served in the areas of regulation and supervision, foreign exchange and Government and Bank Accounts in the Bank. Prior to being promoted as ED, she was Principal Chief General Manager, Department of Co-operative Banking Supervision in the Reserve Bank.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Mahesh Kumar Jain takes charge as MD & CEO of IDBI Bank

ADVERTISEMENT
Mr. Mahesh Kumar Jain has assumed charge as Managing Director & CEO of IDBI Bank with effect from April 3.
 
Prior to the current assignment, Mr. Jain was the Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Indian Bank.
 
A press release from IDBI Bank said Mr. Jain had joined Indian Bank as an Executive Director in September 2013 where he handled key portfolios such as Corporate & Retail Credit, SME Credit, Risk Management, Recovery & Legal, Accounts, Technology Management, Banking Operations Department, Business Process Re-engineering and Compliance Department. 
 
Prior to joining Indian Bank, he served as General Manager with Syndicate Bank and handled various portfolios, including Credit, Operations, Investments and Risk Management. He began his banking career with Punjab National Bank.
 
He was a member of the Steering Committee on Risk Management of IBA and a Member of the IBA working group on Risk Management and implementation of Basel II and III. He was also the Secretary & Coordinator to Basant Seth Committee on Review & Revamp of Internal & Concurrent Audit System in PSBs.
 
At present, Mr. Jain is a member of the NIBM Governing Board, PGDM Executive Council of NIBM, CII National Committee on Banking 2016-17 and CII National Council on Financial Sector Development 2016-17.
 
Mr. Jain has M.Com., MBA, CAIIB, CFA and FRM to his academic credit.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Renowned classical vocalist Kishori Amonkar passes away

Kishori Amonkar
Kishori Amonkar
Renowned Hindustani classical vocalist Kishori Amonkar, who was recognized as one of the foremost innovative exponents of the Jaipur gharana, passed away here late last night after a brief illness.
 
She was 84. She is survived by two sons. Her husband Ravindra Amonkar had predeceased her in the 1980s.
 
Ms. Amonkar, who was ailing for some time, breathed her last at her residence in central Mumbai a week before her 85th birthday, sources close to her family said.
 
The singer had a huge following for her rendering of classical khyals as well as the lighter classical genres of thumris and bhajans.
 
Born on April 10, 1932 in Mumbai, Amonkar trained under her mother, classical singer Mogubai Kurdikar of the Jaipur gharana, but later experimented with a variety of vocal styles.
 
The singer also dabbled a bit in playback singing for Hindi movies, having sung for Geet Gaya Patharon Ne in 1964 and for Drishti in 1990.
 
Apart from performing at music recitals, Ms. Amonkar also used to speak at lecture-demonstrations on the role of rasa in music.
 
Ms. Amonkar was honoured by the Government with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour, in 1987 and with the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 2002. She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 1985 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2009.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the passing away of Ms. Amonkar. "Demise of Kishori Amonkar is an irreparable loss to Indian classical music. Deeply pained by her demise. May her soul rest in peace," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"The works of Kishori Amonkar will always remain popular among people for years to come," he added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

RwandAir kick off direct flight operations between Mumbai and Kigali

ADVERTISEMENT
Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) has added yet another international route for travelers between the metropolis and the African city of Kigali.
 
RwandAir, the national carrier of Rwanda, has announced the commencement of non-stop flights, four times a week, between the two cities, a press release from CSIA said.
 
Fflight WB500 will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from Kigali to Mumbai, leaving from there at 0035 hours and reaching here at 1105 hours. The return flight, WB 501, will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, leaving from here at 0145 hours and reaching Kigali at 0515 hours, the release said.
 
The flights will be operated by a B737-800, RwandAir’s young Boeing Next generation Fleet, offering dual class cabin.
 
The release said passenger traffic and trade between Mumbai and Africa had always been significant. Mumbai is Africa's major gateway, comprising 70% of the capacity deployed between India and Africa.
 
In calendar year (CY) 2016, as many as 0.8 million passengers travelled between Mumbai and Africa, growing at 8% annually. 
 
The release said that Mumbai strategic geographical positioning acts as a major transfer hub for passengers between South East Asia and Africa. 
 
"CSIA, Mumbai is excited to welcome RwandAir, flying directly between Kigali and Mumbai with 4 weekly flights. The non-stop air connectivity will not only increase tourism but will also enhance business opportunities, strengthening the relationship between the two nations," the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

SBI merges five Associate Banks, Bharatiya Mahila Bank with itself

State Bank of India, the country's largest lender, has merged its five Associate Banks -- State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Travancore -- besides Bharatiya Mahila Bank with itself with effect from Saturday.

File photo of State Bank of  India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya
File photo of State Bank of India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya
State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, has merged its five Associate Banks -- State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Travancore -- besides Bharatiya Mahila Bank with itself with effect from today.
 
With this six-way mega merger, SBI will join the league of top 50 banks globally in terms of assets, a press release from the bank said.
 
"SBI  has again displayed its ability to change and evolve in order to continue as the country champion among banks in India and to create enduring value," it said.
 
The release said the total customer base of the bank would reach 37 crore with a branch network of around 24,000 and nearly 59,000 ATMs across the country.
 
The merged entity will have a deposit base of more than Rs. 26 lakh crore and advances level of Rs. 18.50 lakh crore.
 
Post-merger, all the customers of Associate Banks will enjoy the benefits of a wide array of digital products and services offered by the State Bank of India, the release said.
 
“We welcome the customers, employees and all other stakeholders of Associate Banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) to SBI fold.  The Bank will strive to conclude the transition process within a quarter. The combined entity will enhance the productivity, mitigate geographical risks, increase operational efficiency and drive synergies across multiple dimensions while ensuring increased levels of customer delight," SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said.
 
According to the release, SBI is already well poised with robust technology products and services to empower the customers and make their banking seamless. 
 
Some of the key technology products and services of SBI are SBI Quick – a self-service app, State Bank Buddy – a mobile wallet, SBI Mingle – social media banking platform on Facebook and Twitter, State Bank Anywhere - a mobile banking app on smartphones.  SBI is the first Bank to launch digital banking outlets –sbINTOUCH branches at various locations to provide an immersive experience to customers in banking.  
 
"The bank is committed to continue the digital drive to bring in more innovative products and services for customer convenience.  Online SBI, the bank’s web banking platform, is the 5th most visited financial site, globally," the release said.
 
"Post- merger, the Bank will rationalize its branch network by relocating some of the branches to maximize the reach.  This will help the bank to optimize its operations and improve profitability. Integration of Treasuries of the Associate Banks with the Treasury of SBI will bring in substantial cost saving and synergy in Treasury operations," the release added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Reliance Jio says has enrolled 72 million paying customers so far, announces Summer Surprise

ADVERTISEMENT
Telecom services provider Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (RJIL), a subsidiary of energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), today said it had, in just one month, signed up more than 72 million paying customers for Jio Prime, making it one of the most successful customer privilege programmes anywhere in the world.
 
"This is the largest migration from free to paid services in history in such a short period of time," a press release from the company said.
 
The release said that, considering the "unprecedented demand" for enrolling for Jio Prime and doing the first recharge, Jio had extended the deadline for purchasing its Rs. 303 (and other) plans till April 15.
 
"This extension will provide the necessary breathing room for users to avoid service disruption during the transition from free to paid services," it said.
 
The release said customers who could not enrol for Jio Prime by today, for whatever reasons, could still do so by paying Rs. 99 along with their first purchase of Jio's Rs. 303 or other plans till April 15.
 
The company also announced the Jio Summer Suprise for its Jio Prime members. All members, when they make their first paid recharge prior to April 15 using Jio’s Rs 303 plan (or any higher value plan), will get services for the initial three months on a complimentary basis.  The paid tariff plan will be applied only in July, after the expiry of the complimentary service. 
 
"The Jio Summer Surprise is the first of many surprises for Jio Prime members, " the release said.
 
"Mobile Number Portability (MNP), which allows customers to retain their existing mobile number when they switch to Jio, is available across the country for all customers.  Lakhs of customers have already used this facility.  For international travellers, Jio’s international roaming service is available across the world, with the best voice and data rates in the industry," it said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"I assure you that Jio will always be obsessed with serving you and delighting you every day," RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said in a letter to customers.
 
"Over the past few days, we have been deluged by millions of customers queuing up to purchase Jio’s popular Rs 303 and other tariff plans. This nationwide trend indicates that very many customers are still in the process of purchasing Jio Prime and their first paid tariff plan," he said.
 
He said Jio's free service period is coming to an end, and users who do not recharge by April 15 will experience degradation and/or discontinuation of services.
 
"But, I am conscious that this is the largest migration from free to paid services in history. We are committed to doing this gradually, so that both Jio and Jio customers have the time to adjust, fine tune and perfect this transition. I want to assure you that Jio will walk alongside you all through this transition to paid services," he said.
 
"Jio has created the world’s largest greenfield 4G LTE wireless broadband network, with over 100,000 mobile towers. And we will add another 100,000 towers to our network in the coming months. This greenfield investment – of over Rs 200,000 crores – is the largest anywhere in the world.
 
"We are acutely aware that we have small pockets of congestion on our network. With our investment in network expansion, you will see a dramatic improvement in service quality in the coming weeks," he said.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

L&T's hydrocarbon engineering, construction arms win orders worth Rs. 5725 crore

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering Limited (LTHE), its wholly-owned subsidiary had bagged orders totalling close to Rs. 4000 crore in the international market, even as its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1725 crore.
 
A press release from the company said LTHE had won a major onshore EPC contract, from a prestigious client, for the design, supply, construction and commissioning of a large petrochemical facility in the Middle East.
 
The Modular Fabrication business of LTHE also secured significant orders for the supply of modularized structures and skids for ongoing refinery projects in the Middle East and Africa.
 
"The orders were won against international competitive bidding and reinforce LTHE’s unique capability to deliver 'design to build' engineering and construction solutions across the hydrocarbon spectrum," the release said.
 
According to the release, the company's construction had recently won orders worth Rs. 1725 crores across two of its business segments.
 
It said the Transportation Infrastructure Business had secured orders worth Rs. 725 crore. An engineering, procurement and construction order has been secured from the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MORTH) for 4-laning of the Wadpale-Bhogaon Khurd section of national highway (NH)-17 in Maharashtra. The scope of work includes construction of 38.76 km of four lane dual carriage way with concrete pavement, 27.53 km of service / slip road, two major bridges, nine minor bridges and 17 vehicular and cattle underpasses along with other associated works.
 
The business has also received additional orders from various ongoing projects, it said.
 
The company's Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business has received engineering, procurement and construction orders worth Rs. 1000 crore under L&T GeoStructure, the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

M. J. Akbar to visit Cyprus from March 30-April 1

ADVERTISEMENT
Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar will pay an official visit to Cyprus from March 30 to April 1 aimed at reviewing the present state of bilateral relations in all fields and rejuvenate the historic friendly ties between the two countries.
 
"The relations between India and Cyprus have been traditionally very close and friendly. India has consistently and unwaveringly supported sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Cyprus and a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus issue. India and Cyprus also cooperate closely at the UN, international organisations, Commonwealth and ASEM," a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said.
 
The release said the visit would provide an excellent opportunity to exchange views on bilateral matters as well as on regional and international developments of mutual interest. 
 
The Minister will meet Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus; Mr.  Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Demetris Syllouris, President, House of Representatives and Mr. Yiorgos Lillikas, President, Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, the release said.
 
"India and Cyprus enjoy robust economic ties, with cumulative foreign investment of more than US$ 9 billion received in India through Cyprus. A revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement signed November last year is likely to facilitate more foreign investment. There is a mechanism of Joint Economic Committee Meeting for discussing the ways boosting trade and investment," the release said.
 
In this context, the Minister will deliver a keynote address titled "A new era for business between Cyprus and India" to the business community at the Cyprus Chambers of Commerce & Industry in Nicosia tomorrow, the release added.
 
The Minister will also deliver a lecture titled "Balance of Power vs Pendulum of power" at UNESCO Amphitheatre, Europa Building, University of Nicosia on the same day.
 
To promote appreciation of cultural heritage and understanding, the Minister, during his stay in Cyprus, will inaugurate "Konark Wheel”, a sculpture gifted by India to Cyprus and installed at the Open Air Museum of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nicosia, the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Reliance completes sale of its interest in Gulf Africa Petroleum Corp. to Total

ADVERTISEMENT
Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said it had completed the sale of its interest in the Mauritius-incorporated Gulf Africa Petroleum Corporation (GAPCO) to Total, a global integrated energy producer and provider.
 
A press release from RIL said this was in pursuance of the sale agreements signed by its indirect wholly owned subsidiary Reliance Exploration & Production DMCC (REPDMCC) and Total for the sale of the entire 76% interest held by REPDMCC to Total.
 
The release said REPDMCC, TOTAL and GAPCO hadobtained requisite regulatory approvals, consents and successfully completed the sale transaction.
 
GAPCO is a holding company with operating subsidiaries in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda which are primarily engaged in petroleum product import, and trading, storage, distribution, marketing, supply and transportation of oil products in East Africa. Since the acquisition of 76% equity interest in GAPCO by REPDMCC in 2007, GAPCO has significantly grown and is one of the leading petroleum marketing companies in East Africa, owning retail outlets as well as onshore and offshore terminals.
 
"REPDMCC’s sale of its interest in GAPCO is part of a joint transaction, wherein REPDMCC as well as the minority shareholder have sold their entire respective holdings in GAPCO for cash," the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

L&T Construction wins orders worth Rs. 2400 crore

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said the Power Transmission & Distribution Business (PT&D) of its construction arm had recently bagged major orders worth Rs. 2400 crore in the domestic and international markets.
 
In the Middle East and Africa, the PT&D has secured repeat orders from reputed customers to build 400 kV transmission lines and substations, 33 kV primary substations and related cabling on turnkey basis, a press release from the company said.
 
The business has also won orders to build transmission lines at voltage levels of 765 kV and 400 kV across different states of India, the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

JNPT becomes first major port to install radiological detection equipment at road, rail gates

ADVERTISEMENT
The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Mumbai has become the first major port in the country to install radiological detection equipment (RDE) at all its exit road and rail gates.
 
An official press release said the Marine Department of the port had taken up the project and the work was awarded to the public sector Electronic Corporation of India (ECIL) in 2012 at a total cost of Rs. 23.324 crore. 
 
The release said 28 Vehicle Monitor Systems have been installed at the road and rail exit gates. Out of these, 11 are at North Gate Complex, three at the South Gate Complex, seven at Central Gate Complex and seven at railway gates. In addition, one limb monitor each has been installed at South Gate and NSICT Gate.
 
Ten Isotope Identifiers, ten Portable Radiation Detectors ten Radiation Monitors, which are hand-held devices, form part of total system, it said.
 
The release said six   local control stations have been commissioned at individual gates and have been connected through optic fibre to the Main Control Station at the North Gate Complex. ECIL has successfully demonstrated the functionality of the entire system and CISF personnel at the port, who have been trained to operate the system, is monitoring it on a regular basis, the release added.
 
ECIL has appointed a service engineer to oversee the entire system round the clock, the release added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 3195 crore

ADVERTISEMENT
Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said the Building & Factories Business and Water & Effluent Treatment  segments of its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 3195 crore.
 
A press release from the company said the orders bagged by the Building and Factories Business included a mega order from a premier government organization for the construction of hospital building, a medical institute, a nursing college, a school for paramedics, an auditorium, hostels, residential quarters along with associated works, in New Delhi.
 
The release said that a design and build order had also been secured from a client to construct a state-of-the-art technical building in Maharashtra.
 
Yet another design & built contract has been bagged from a client for the construction of a residential project at Bengaluru, Karnataka. The scope includes construction of shell and core works.
 
The business has also received additional orders from ongoing jobs, the release said.
 
Separately, the company also said the Water & Effluent Treatment business segment had won an order worth Rs. 705 crore. The project will be executed by L&T in a joint venture with Shriram EPC.
 
This engineering, procurement and construction order has been secured from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation of Tanzania for the extension of the water transmission pipeline from the Lake Victoria Water Supply scheme to Tabora, Nzega and Igunga Towns, Package II.
 
The scope of work involves survey, design, procurement, construction and installation of pumping systems, rising and gravity / main lines, elevated and ground level storage reservoirs, branch lines, distribution network and water kiosks to provide water to Tabora town and 33 other villages that are enroute, the release added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Tata Trusts, People for Animals announce plans for state-of-the-art veterinary hospital in Navi Mumbai

ADVERTISEMENT
Tata Trusts, one of India’s oldest philanthropic organisations, in partnership with People for Animals (PFA), among the country’s largest animal rights organisations, yesterday announced their collaboration to build a state-of-the-art, multi-specialty veterinary hospital and emergency clinic that will serve the needs of all domestic and farm animals at accessible and affordable rates. 
 
The hospital will be located at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai and is expected to be ready to welcome animals in two years, a press release from Tata Trusts said.
 
The project cost including construction, facilities and infrastructure is estimated to be over Rs. 100 crore, the release said.
 
"People for Animals has been at the forefront of animal welfare in this country, rescuing and rehabilitating animals in need and lobbying for animal rights. Tata Trusts, over the 125 years of its existence, has been driven by the fundamental principles of compassion and the desire to serve. It has helped create institutions of repute across India, including the Tata Memorial Center, the Indian Institute of Science and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Tata Trusts and People for Animals see the Animal Care Centre becoming an institution of similar excellence in the field of veterinary medicine in the country," the release said.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “This is a proud moment for Mumbai, when organisations like PFA and Tata Trusts have come together to set up a state-of-the-art animal care hospital in Mumbai. I must congratulate them for participating in such a noble cause. With Maneka ji and Tata Trusts coming together, this will create capabilities that can serve the entire country. Mr Tata, you go on inspiring us, and Tata Trusts is one such institution that has supported every single good initiative in Maharashtra. Tata Trusts is changing the lives of people, reaching the have-nots and the last person in society. I am sure this coming endeavour will benefit the people of Maharashtra, and I thank both People for Animals and Tata Trusts for taking up this initiative. I assure you that you will always have the support of the Government of Maharashtra.”
 
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, who is the founder of People for Animals, thanked Mr. Fadnavis and Mr. Tata for their support to realise a vision that dates back to 35 years when Pritish Nandy, MF Hussain, Mario Miranda, Anupam Kher and she came together and voiced their need for a pan-India animal organisation. 
 
"I approached Tata Trusts and they have always helped me for various programmes and I am deeply grateful for this. Today, what is taking place is a miracle. I am deeply grateful that the Chief Minister agreed to come and be with us today. He runs a pragmatic, compassionate and good government. I extend my best wishes to make this hospital an amazing one in the years to come," she said.
 
Mr. Ratan N Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts, said, “Today is a very special day for me, because it is a dream for me and I can see it coming true. A state-of-the-art animal and care unit for the city of Mumbai was much needed. We are happy…. Tata Trusts has agreed to fund this facility as it will help save animals, beings who give so much of themselves to us. A promise has been made to give the city a good facility and I trust all of us who have been involved, to have the passion and integrity to make this happen.”
 
The vision for the Animal Care Centre is of a state-of-the-art animal hospital spread over 9,000 sq mt in size, with emergency, in-patient and out-patient facilities for small and large animals. The Centre will be equipped with operation theatres, an intensive care unit, recovery rooms, imaging and pathology services, and so on. 
 
It is conceived as a one-stop destination that provides high-quality medical care for animals, with specialised services in orthopaedics, dentistry, trauma surgery and other treatments lacking at present in the greater Mumbai region.
 
In addition to the medical facilities for animals, the proposed hospital will also impart continuing veterinary education and training and host workshops and programmes for the skill development of practicing veterinarians. The Centre will, additionally, train veterinary support staff to enable the building of a cadre of well-trained professionals who can service the hospital as well as contribute to the greater human resource needs in animal healthcare in India.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"Tata Trusts and People for Animals are committed to ensuring that the Animal Care Centre becomes a top-quality institution for animal healthcare in India by fostering international collaborations with partners such as Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, world leaders in veterinary care. Cornell University will bring to the project their expertise and provide inputs on the designing, planning and operations of the facility.
 
"Tata Trusts and People for Animals believe the Animal Care Centre is a path-breaking initiative that will meet a great and pressing need in the domain of animal health and well-being," the release said.
 
The release quoted data on national animal healthcare scenario and shorfalls from Hospihealth India Consultants to say that there were only  63,000 veterinarians in the country while the requirement stood at 120,000.
 
There are 55 veterinarian colleges in India, with an average of only 60 students each. About 3,300 new veterinarian students are admitted per year, of which one-third drop out, it said.
 
As far as infrastructure goes, there only primary polyclinics in India, unevenly distributed, and only two blood banks functioning nationwide. Imaging, intensive care, dialysis, pathology and recovery facilities in the country were inadequate, the data showed.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
Syndicate content
© Copyright 2012 NetIndian. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of NetIndian content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of NetIndian Media Corporation. Write to info[AT]netindian[DOT]in for permission to use content. Read detailed Terms of Use.