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Hester Biosciences to invest $ 3 million in subsidiary in Africa

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Animal health care company Hester Biosciences Ltd has said that it is planning to invest $ 3 million in its wholly owned subsidiary in Africa.
 
A press release from the company said its board had approved the investment by way of equity in its wholly owned subsidiary company, Hester Biosciences Africa Limited, Tanzania, with an objective to manufacture animal vaccines and health products in Tanzania to cater to the whole African continent.
 
The $3 million would be raised through internal accruals of Hester India, the release said.
 
While the project size has yet to be finalized, the balance amount for the project would be raised through debt, it said.
 
More than 80% of the required vaccines are imported in to Africa. Hester sees a very big potential in Africa for animal vaccines. Besides the common diseases, there are Africa-specific diseases, which currently remain unaddressed, thereby causing economical losses to poultry and livestock farmers.
 
Hester has already started the exports of animal vaccines and health products to Africa.
 
Hester’s distribution network in Africa not only aims at servicing the organized poultry and livestock farmers, but also the backyard farmers which constitute a big percentage of the animal population in Africa, the release added.
 
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Full Text: RBI's Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18

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Following is the text of the Second 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.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains at 6.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate 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 April 2017 meeting of the MPC, global economic activity has expanded at a modest pace, supported by firming growth in major advanced economies (AEs) and in some emerging market economies (EMEs) as well. In the US, a tightening labour market is generating wage gains. Alongside, industrial production has steadily improved in recent months and retail sales remain robust, although home sales ebbed in April. Political risks remain high, however. In the Euro area, the recovery has been underpinned by consistently falling unemployment, rising retail sales and a brighter outlook for manufacturing reflected in purchasing managers’ and business surveys. In Japan, exports supported by a depreciated yen and industrial activity are driving an acceleration in growth. Wages and inflation, however, are depressed and holding back domestic demand. Among EMEs, the Chinese economy is stabilising, especially in manufacturing, but financial risks in the form of the credit-fuelled debt overhang could impinge on the outlook. Brazil appears to be emerging out of recession, although growth dynamics remain fragile due to worsening labour market conditions and political turmoil. In Russia, the strengthening global environment is supporting the recovery with improving macro fundamentals. South Africa is grappling with structural constraints which are depressing economic activity.
 
3. The pick-up in global merchandise trade volume since the start of the year has been sustained in Q2 of 2017, buoyed by strengthening global demand as reflected in rising international air freight and container throughput. Crude prices fell to a five-month low in early May on higher output from Canada and the US, and remain soft, undermining the OPEC’s recent efforts to tighten the market by trimming supply. Among non-fuel commodity prices, metal prices have been retreating on expectations of weak demand from China. Bullion prices remain range-bound, while food prices eased in April but rose in May. These developments suggest that the inflation outlook is still relatively benign for AEs and EMEs alike.
 
4. International financial markets have been lifted by improving global growth prospects, broadly accommodative monetary policy stances of systemic central banks and generally positive incoming data. Increasingly, financial markets have shown resilience to geo-political events and have swiftly priced them in. This has been reflected in the reinvigoration of the reach for returns. Country-specific factors have modulated investor sentiment. Equity markets in most AEs have gained in Q2, surpassing past peaks in the US; boosted by corporate profits in Japan; and supported by easing political tensions and upbeat data in the case of the Euro area. In EMEs, equities have turned in a mixed performance, with high valuations across Asia, but weaker in Latin America on softer commodity prices. Bond yields in major AEs have been largely range-bound. In EMEs, yields have hardened in the few countries facing inflation pressures and political uncertainties, but for commodity exporters, there has been some recent decline. In the currency markets, the US dollar has weakened in May after dovish guidance by the Fed and unexpected political events. Since mid-May, the yen has shed its depreciating bias and appears to have gained safe haven appeal. EME currencies, which had depreciated on the strength of the US dollar, have steadied more recently on renewal of capital flows and risk-on investor appetite.
 
5. On May 31, 2017 India’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) released quarterly estimates of national income accounts for Q4 of 2016-17, provisional estimates for 2016-17 and revisions for the preceding five years. The growth of real gross value added (GVA) for 2016-17 has been pegged at 6.6 per cent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the second advance estimates released in February 2017. Underlying the revision is a downward adjustment in services sector growth in Q4 for the constituents of construction, financial and professional services, and real estate. Estimates of agriculture and allied activities have been upgraded to incorporate the all-time high production of foodgrains and horticulture in the year. GVA in industry has also been placed higher in the provisional estimates relative to the earlier reading to reflect the impact of new indices of industrial production (IIP) and wholesale prices (WPI) rebased to 2011-12. The new data reveal that a slowdown in activity in both industry and services set in as early as Q1 of 2016-17 and became pronounced in Q4. Moreover, the deceleration of activity coursing through the year has had underlying drivers that have been in operation since Q2. Components of aggregate demand reflect a contraction in gross fixed investment in Q4, reversing the turnaround evident in the second half of the year in the advance estimates. This is also reflected in the contraction in the production of capital goods in the new IIP. However, private final consumption expenditure recorded robust year-on-year growth.
 
6. On May 9, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) released its third advance estimates of foodgrains production, which confirmed the record level of output achieved in 2016-17 and, in fact, revised it upwards to 273 million tonnes. The MoA also set out its second advance estimates of fruits and vegetables on May 30, which was also a historical record. Benefiting from the bumper harvest, rabi procurement during Q1 of 2017-18 so far has been significantly higher than a year ago, replenishing food stocks and taking them to 61.9 million tonnes in May 2017, three times the buffer norm. On June 6, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) re-affirmed its forecast of a normal and well-distributed south-west (June-September) monsoon, which augurs well for the agricultural outlook.
 
7. The new series on the IIP released by the CSO on May 12 improves the coverage of industrial activity, realigns weights and reclassifies sub-sectors to better capture the underlying structural dynamics of the sector, and smoothens the impact of lumpy items on the index. As a result, industrial production expanded by 5.0 per cent during 2016-17 based on the new series (as against 0.7 per cent in the old series). Turning to the current financial year, the output of eight core industries decelerated sharply in April on account of contraction in coal, crude oil and cement due to structural constraints and low demand. Furthermore, electricity generation decelerated due to depressed demand pricing out relatively expensive thermal output. By contrast, the production of steel and fertiliser picked up, the former driven up by exports and the latter by expectations of a normal monsoon.
 
8. The business expectations index generated by the Reserve Bank’s April round of the Industrial Outlook Survey reflects optimism in the manufacturing sector in Q2 of 2017-18, driven by expectations of rising rural demand, exports and profit margins. On the other hand, the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) moderated sequentially in May as employment contracted and new orders, both domestic and exports, slowed down. The index, however, remained in the expansion zone and the future output index accelerated for the third month in succession.
 
9. High frequency real indicators of activity in the services sector point to a mixed performance in April. In the transportation sub-sector, freight carriage by air and rail gathered momentum, and passenger car sales accelerated on the back of sustained strength of urban demand. Sales of commercial vehicles and three-wheelers contracted, however, reflecting in part the effects of new emission norms and technology changes. Two-wheeler sales remained depressed, indicative of still subdued rural demand. In the communication sub-sector, there was a strong growth in the subscriber base of voice and data services. The sustained growth of foreign tourist arrivals and air passenger traffic, both domestic and international, supported activity in the hotels, restaurants and the hospitality sub-sector. Both steel consumption and cement production were, however, sluggish, pointing to continuing weakness in construction activity. The services PMI for May rose to its highest reading since November 2016, with an expansion in new business reflecting improving underlying demand conditions, alongside optimism on employment.
 
10. Retail inflation measured by year-on-year changes in the consumer price index (CPI) plunged to a historic low in April, pulled down by a large favourable base effect which overwhelmed a momentum that was feeble relative to the historical record for the month. Underlying this surprising softness was a sharp fall in food inflation brought about by a deflation in the prices of pulses and vegetables. In addition, moderation in the prices of cereals, eggs, oils and fats and spices contributed to the loss of momentum. In the case of pulses, the large-scale augmentation of supply on account of expansion in acreage, procurement, buffer stocking and imports caused a sharp decline in prices starting in August 2016. Propelled by significantly higher arrivals in mandis relative to the seasonal pattern, prices of vegetables also fell markedly from July and bottomed out in January 2017, with fire sales during the demonetisation period accentuating the fall. The seasonal uptick that typically occurs in the pre-monsoon months has been muted so far. In the fuel group by contrast, inflation surged across the board. Prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene rose in sympathy with international prices even as the subsidy was set on a path of calibrated reduction. Fuel used by rural households rose for the third month in succession, narrowing the wedge between fuel inflation facing rural and urban households. In response to these developments, inflation expectations three months ahead and a year ahead surveyed in the Reserve Bank’s inflation expectations survey of households have ticked down marginally.
 
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11. Excluding food and fuel, inflation dipped 60 basis points from a month ago to 4.4 per cent. The delayed and cumulative downward adjustment of domestic petrol and diesel prices in April to the softening of international crude prices in preceding months was among the factors at work. Inflation in respect of services embedded in transport and communication, education, recreation and health also moderated. The industrial outlook survey and the PMIs for manufacturing and services indicate that pricing power remains weak.
 
12. Even as surplus liquidity in the banking system post-demonetisation was drained by the ramping up of new currency in circulation by Rs. 1.5 trillion in April and May, massive spending by the Government re-injected liquidity into the system, raising the daily average overall surplus liquidity in the banking system to Rs. 4.2 trillion in April and Rs. 3.5 trillion in May. Unwinding of the excess reserves that banks used to dress up balance sheets for end-March also resulted in an accretion of Rs. 0.8 trillion to the surplus liquidity. Absorption operations undertaken by the Reserve Bank in the context of these developments and the consequent downward pressure on money market rates consisted of Rs. 1 trillion impounded through issuance of treasury bills (TBs) of tenors ranging from 312 days to 329 days under the market stabilisation scheme (MSS), auctions of cash management bills (CMBs) of Rs. 0.7 trillion triggered by the decline in cash balances of the Government, and variable rate reverse repo auctions of different tenors which took in the remaining surplus liquidity averaging Rs. 3.8 trillion in April and Rs. 3.4 trillion in May. With the narrowing of the the LAF corridor from +/- 50 bps to +/- 25 bps in April 2017, these operations ensured that the weighted average call money rate (WACR) – the operating target of monetary policy– broadly traded within the corridor. The spread between the WACR and the policy repo rate narrowed from 29-32 basis points (bps) in March-April to 21 bps in May.
 
13. Merchandise exports posted double digit growth in March and April 2017 in an environment of slowly improving global trade, with 80 per cent of this expansion contributed by engineering goods, petroleum products, gems and jewellery, readymade garments and chemicals. Merchandise imports also increased sharply, propelled by domestic demand, with the jump of 47.2 per cent in US dollar terms not recorded since 2011. Imports of petroleum and products rose strongly on price effects as international crude prices firmed up in the wake of OPEC’s productions cut. Gold imports also surged in volume terms, initially driven by seasonal and festival demand but subsequently by stockpiling in anticipation of the roll out of the goods and services tax (GST). Non-oil non-gold imports contributed about half of the total import growth in March and April, reflecting higher recourse to electronic goods, pearls and precious stones, coal, machinery and machine tools from overseas markets. With import growth significantly outpacing export growth, the trade deficit increased sizably. The current account deficit (CAD) for the year 2016-17 is likely to remain within 1 per cent of GDP. Unlike in the immediately preceding quarter, capital flows in April-May 2017 were dominated by foreign portfolio investment (FPI), pushed out by risk-on investor sentiment as global growth prospects improved. Also, clarity emerged on taxation issues in the Union Budget and the expectations of faster structural reforms were fuelled by the decisive outcome of State elections. The level of foreign exchange reserves as on June 2, 2017 was US$ 381.2 billion.
 
Outlook
 
14. The abrupt and significant retreat of inflation in April from the firming trajectory that was developing in February and March has raised several issues that have to be factored into the inflation projections. First, it needs to be assessed as to whether or not the unusually low momentum in the reading for April will endure. Second, the prices of pulses are clearly reeling under the impact of a supply glut caused by record output and imports. Policy interventions, including access to open trade, may be envisaged to arrest the slump in prices. Third, the accumulated downward adjustment in the prices of petrol and diesel effected in April has been largely reversed on June 1. Fourth, the easing of inflation excluding food and fuel may be transient in view of its underlying stickiness in a situation of rising rural wage growth and strong consumption demand. Thus, the April reading has imparted considerable uncertainty to the evolving inflation trajectory, especially for the near months. If the configurations evident in April are sustained, then absent policy interventions, headline inflation is projected in the range of 2.0-3.5 per cent in the first half of the year and 3.5-4.5 per cent in the second half (Chart 1). Risks are evenly balanced, although the spatial and temporal distribution of the monsoon and the government staying the course in effective food management will play a critical role in the evolution of risks. The risk of fiscal slippages, which, by and large, can entail inflationary spillovers, has risen with the announcements of large farm loan waivers. At the current juncture, global political and financial risks materialising into imported inflation and the disbursement of allowances under the 7th central pay commission’s award are upside risks. The date of implementation of the latter is still not announced and as such, it is not factored into the baseline projections. The implementation of the GST is not expected to have a material impact on overall inflation.
 
15. With the CSO’s provisional estimates for 2016-17, the projection of real GVA growth for 2017-18 has accordingly been revised 10 bps downwards from the April 2017 projection to 7.3 per cent, with risks evenly balanced (Chart 2). The continuing remonetisation should enable a pick-up in discretionary consumer spending, especially in cash-intensive segments of the economy. Furthermore, the reductions in banks’ lending rates post-demonetisation should support both consumption and investment demand of households and stress-free corporates. Moreover, Government spending continues to be robust, cushioning the impact of a slowdown in other constituents. The implementation of proposals in the Union Budget should crowd in private investment as the business environment improves with structural reforms, including the GST, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and the abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. Strengthening external demand will likely play a more decisive role in supporting the domestic economy. In addition, the new IIP broadens the recognition of industrial activity. On the downside, global political risks remain elevated and could materialise. Second, rising input costs and wage pressures may prove a drag on the profitability of firms, pulling down overall GVA growth. Third, the twin balance sheet problem - over-leveraged corporate sector and stressed banking sector - may delay the revival in private investment demand.
 
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16. The MPC noted that incoming data suggest that the transitory effects of demonetisation have lingered on in price formations relating to salient food items, entangled with excess supply conditions with respect to fruits and vegetables, pulses and cereals. At the same time, however, the CSO’s latest releases on national income accounts and industrial production attest to the effects of demonetisation on the broader economy being sector specific and transient, as well as to the noteworthy resilience of private consumption. At this stage, it is difficult to isolate these factors or to judge the strength of their persistence. As the year progresses, underlying inflation pressures, especially input costs, wages and imported inflation, will have to be closely and continuously monitored.
 
17. Noting that inflation has fallen below 4 per cent only since November 2016, the MPC remains focused on its commitment to keeping headline inflation close to 4 per cent on a durable basis keeping in mind the output gap. The current state of the economy underscores the need to revive private investment, restore banking sector health and remove infrastructural bottlenecks. Monetary policy can play a more effective role only when these factors are in place. Premature action at this stage risks disruptive policy reversals later and the loss of credibility. Accordingly, the MPC decided to keep the policy rate unchanged with a neutral stance and remain watchful of incoming data.
 
18. The Reserve Bank will continue to work in partnership with the government to address the stress in banks’ balance sheets. Better alignment of administered interest rates on small savings with market rates and stepped-up recapitalisation of banks to facilitate adequate flow of credit to productive sectors are important steps to follow through.
 
19. Five members were in favour of the monetary policy decision, while Dr. Ravindra H. Dholakia was not in favour. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by June 21, 2017.
 
20. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on August 1 and 2, 2017.
 
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RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.25% with neutral stance

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today decided to keep its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.25 percent, with a neutral stance, saying that premature action at this stage risked disruptive policy reversals later and the loss of credibility.
 
"The current state of the economy underscores the need to revive private investment, restore banking sector health and remove infrastructural bottlenecks. Monetary policy can play a more effective role only when these factors are in place," the central bank said in its Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18 based on the resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee.
 
"Accordingly, the MPC decided to keep the policy rate unchanged with a neutral stance and remain watchful of incoming data," it said.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remained at 6.0%, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.50%.
 
"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. 
 
In its resolution, the MPC said the abrupt and significant retreat of inflation in April from the firming trajectory that was developing in February and March had raised several issues that have to be factored into the inflation projections. 
 
"First, it needs to be assessed as to whether or not the unusually low momentum in the reading for April will endure. Second, the prices of pulses are clearly reeling under the impact of a supply glut caused by record output and imports. Policy interventions, including access to open trade, may be envisaged to arrest the slump in prices. Third, the accumulated downward adjustment in the prices of petrol and diesel effected in April has been largely reversed on June 1. Fourth, the easing of inflation excluding food and fuel may be transient in view of its underlying stickiness in a situation of rising rural wage growth and strong consumption demand. 
 
"Thus, the April reading has imparted considerable uncertainty to the evolving inflation trajectory, especially for the near months. If the configurations evident in April are sustained, then absent policy interventions, headline inflation is projected in the range of 2.0-3.5 per cent in the first half of the year and 3.5-4.5 per cent in the second half. Risks are evenly balanced, although the spatial and temporal distribution of the monsoon and the government staying the course in effective food management will play a critical role in the evolution of risk," it said
 
The MPC said the risk of fiscal slippages, which, by and large, can entail inflationary spillovers, had risen with the announcements of large farm loan waivers. 
 
"At the current juncture, global political and financial risks materialising into imported inflation and the disbursement of allowances under the 7th central pay commission’s award are upside risks. The date of implementation of the latter is still not announced and as such, it is not factored into the baseline projections. The implementation of the GST is not expected to have a material impact on overall inflation," it said.
 
"With the CSO’s provisional estimates for 2016-17, the projection of real GVA growth for 2017-18 has accordingly been revised 10 bps downwards from the April 2017 projection to 7.3 per cent, with risks evenly balanced. The continuing remonetisation should enable a pick-up in discretionary consumer spending, especially in cash-intensive segments of the economy. 
 
"Furthermore, the reductions in banks’ lending rates post-demonetisation should support both consumption and investment demand of households and stress-free corporates. Moreover, Government spending continues to be robust, cushioning the impact of a slowdown in other constituents. The implementation of proposals in the Union Budget should crowd in private investment as the business environment improves with structural reforms, including the GST, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and the abolition of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. Strengthening external demand will likely play a more decisive role in supporting the domestic economy. In addition, the new IIP broadens the recognition of industrial activity. 
 
"On the downside, global political risks remain elevated and could materialise. Second, rising input costs and wage pressures may prove a drag on the profitability of firms, pulling down overall GVA growth. Third, the twin balance sheet problem - over-leveraged corporate sector and stressed banking sector - may delay the revival in private investment demand," it said.
 
The MPC noted that incoming data suggest that the transitory effects of demonetisation have lingered on in price formations relating to salient food items, entangled with excess supply conditions with respect to fruits and vegetables, pulses and cereals. 
 
"At the same time, however, the CSO’s latest releases on national income accounts and industrial production attest to the effects of demonetisation on the broader economy being sector specific and transient, as well as to the noteworthy resilience of private consumption. At this stage, it is difficult to isolate these factors or to judge the strength of their persistence. As the year progresses, underlying inflation pressures, especially input costs, wages and imported inflation, will have to be closely and continuously monitored," it said.
 
Noting that inflation has fallen below 4 per cent only since November 2016, the MPC said it remained focused on its commitment to keeping headline inflation close to 4 per cent on a durable basis keeping in mind the output gap.
 
"The Reserve Bank will continue to work in partnership with the government to address the stress in banks’ balance sheets. Better alignment of administered interest rates on small savings with market rates and stepped-up recapitalisation of banks to facilitate adequate flow of credit to productive sectors are important steps to follow through," it said.
 
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The statement said five of the six members of the MPC were in favour of the monetary policy decision, while Dr. Ravindra H. Dholakia, the sixth, was not in favour. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by June 21. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on August 1 and 2.
 
The RBI has kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.25% since October 4, 2016, when it was reduced by 25 basis points from 6.50% to 6.25%, a nearly six-year low.
 
The MPC, in its assessment of the overall macro-economic situation, noted that since its April 2017 meeting, global economic activity had expanded at a modest pace, supported by firming growth in major advanced economies (AEs) and in some emerging market economies (EMEs) as well. 
 
The pick-up in global merchandise trade volume since the start of the year has been sustained in Q2 of 2017, buoyed by strengthening global demand as reflected in rising international air freight and container throughput. Crude prices fell to a five-month low in early May on higher output from Canada and the US, and remain soft, undermining the OPEC’s recent efforts to tighten the market by trimming supply. Among non-fuel commodity prices, metal prices have been retreating on expectations of weak demand from China. Bullion prices remain range-bound, while food prices eased in April but rose in May. These developments suggest that the inflation outlook is still relatively benign for AEs and EMEs alike, it said.
 
The statement said international financial markets had been lifted by improving global growth prospects, broadly accommodative monetary policy stances of systemic central banks and generally positive incoming data. 
 
It also took note of the quarterly estimates of national income accounts for Q4 of 2016--17 and provisional estimates for 2016-17 released by India's Central Statistics Office (CSO) on May 31.
 
The growth of real gross value added (GVA) for 2016-17 has been pegged at 6.6 per cent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the second advance estimates released in February 2017. Underlying the revision is a downward adjustment in services sector growth in Q4 for the constituents of construction, financial and professional services, and real estate. Estimates of agriculture and allied activities have been upgraded to incorporate the all-time high production of foodgrains and horticulture in the year. GVA in industry has also been placed higher in the provisional estimates relative to the earlier reading to reflect the impact of new indices of industrial production (IIP) and wholesale prices (WPI) rebased to 2011-12. 
 
"The new data reveal that a slowdown in activity in both industry and services set in as early as Q1 of 2016-17 and became pronounced in Q4. Moreover, the deceleration of activity coursing through the year has had underlying drivers that have been in operation since Q2. Components of aggregate demand reflect a contraction in gross fixed investment in Q4, reversing the turnaround evident in the second half of the year in the advance estimates. This is also reflected in the contraction in the production of capital goods in the new IIP. However, private final consumption expenditure recorded robust year-on-year growth," it said.
 
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India's forex reserves dip by $ 547 million to $ 378.763 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 547 million to $ 378.763 billion during the week ended May 26, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had soared by $ 4.036 billion to an all-time high of $ 379.310 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 $ 555 million to $ 354.542 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 $ 20.439 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 3.1 million to $ 1.472 billion.  
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 4.9 million to $ 2.310 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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Essar Projects successfully commissions four offshore well platforms for ONGC

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Essar Projects India Ltd. (EPIL), a leading engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, today said it had successfully commissioned four off-shore well platforms for its client, the public sector Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
 
The contract for Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Installation and Commissioning (EPCIC) of the four well platforms, valued at around Rs. 550  crore (about $ 90 million), was awarded by ONGC to an EPIL-led consortium, with Saipem as the engineering partner, a press release from the company said.
 
Of these, three platforms are in the C-26 Cluster (C-23, C-26 and B-12-1) in the Tapti field, situated 160 km-200 km to the north-west of Mumbai in water depths of 20 m-30 m. The fourth platform—B-173 AB—is adjacent to an existing B-173 A platform in the Neelam field, situated 50 km west of Mumbai in water depths of around 55 m. 
 
The project also involved installing a bridge connecting the new B-173 AB platform with the operational B-173 A platform, including structural and process modifications related to the integration of the two platforms. 
 
The project entailed procurement, fabrication and installation of approximately 10,000 tonnes of steel. The primary structures of the platforms were fabricated at Adyard, Abu Dhabi, and transported to India. Fabrication activities for associated structures were executed simultaneously from four different locations of sub-vendors of Adyard. 
 
As a result, the Essar Projects team managed to complete most of the work, including major installations of deck and jacket, before the close of clear weather window in May 2016. The remaining hook-up and pre-commissioning work was executed after the end of the 2016 monsoons, the release said.
 
The project demanded stringent safety precautions and execution precision. The installation had to be carried out in hostile environmental conditions characterised by strong ocean currents and poor underwater visibility, it said.
 
"Working on the C-23 platform proved to be especially challenging because of the low water depths and strong currents. The execution also needed to be planned to perfection, given a short clear weather window (October–May). This called for timely delivery of material and fabricated structures, and the readiness of pre-installation aids. While modifying the operational B-173A platform and installing the connecting bridge, additional precautions had to be taken to mitigate the risk posed by the presence of hydrogen sulphide gas," the release said.
 
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Mr AV Amarnath, COO-EPIL, said: “We would like to acknowledge the support extended by ONGC during the execution of this prestigious project. The successful commissioning of the C-26 cluster is one more feather in EPIL’s cap. Incidentally, we are the first Indian company that ventured into the challenging business of offshore construction in the late 1980s, executing the Bassein field WIPPM (Water Injection and Platform & Pipeline Modification) project for ONGC. Since then, EPIL has provided a range of project management and EPCIC services to various clients in the offshore sector. ONGC itself has been a long-standing client. In the recent past, EPIL has executed EPC contracts for reconstructing six platforms in the Neelam-Heera Process Complex, as well as three SMART platforms, offshore pipelines, composite cables and PLEM in the D1 field. Apart from this, the company has successfully executed a series of difficult projects, including transporting and installing mooring systems, and laying offshore pipelines at various locations in the challenging waters of the Baseein and Panna fields, as well as the Gulf of Kutch.”
 
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Gadkari lays foundation stone for eight connectivity projects worth Rs. 1117.3 crores at JNPT

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Union Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari  laid the foundation stone for eight connectivity projects worth Rs. 1117.03 crore at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) here today.
 
These projects include an Integrated Common Rail Yard Facility in JNPT at a project cost of Rs. 250 crore; Connecting 4th Terminal of JNPT with Rail at a cost of Rs. 100 crore; Jasai-JNPT 3rd Railway Line at a cost of Rs.150 crore; Flyover at North Gate at Rs. 127.45 crore; Integrated Centralised Parking for Tractor-Trailers at Rs. 149.31 crore; Construction of Coastal Berth at Rs. 142.32 crore; Flyover at Y Junction at Rs. 82.95 crore; and restructuring of Yard behind shallow water berth at Rs. 115 crore.
 
All these projects will enhance connectivity of the hinterland to JNPT. Port Connectivity is among the four pillars of Ministry of Shipping’s flagship Sagarmala programme, an official press release said.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Gadkari said huge investments are expected under the Sagarmala programme, which will lead to better infrastructure and creation of new jobs besides giving a big push to Indian exports. A lot of companies have shown interest in acquiring land for setting up factories in the JNPT Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and this, in turn, will create a demand for skilled manpower.
 
A coordinator will be appointed to look into the requirements of these new companies and help train the local youth from Raigad and Konkan areas to meet specific needs, he said.
 
JNPT Chairman Anil Diggikar said efforts aimed at improving the infrastructure at JNPT have already started bearing results as congestion has come down to zero and tonnage handled has reached a record high of 4.5 million TEU for the year ended March 2017.
 
Senior officials from various departments and representatives from the industry were also present during the foundation stone laying ceremony.
 
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India's forex reserves soar by $ 4.036 billion to record $ 379.310 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 4.036 billion to a new all-time high of $ 379.310 billion during  the week ended May 19, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had gone down by $ 443.6 million to $ 375.274 million 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 up by $ 3.996 billion to $ 355.097 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 $ 20.439 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 15 million to $ 1.469 billion.  
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 25.2 million to $ 2.305 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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Devendra Fadnavis escapes unhurt as his helicopter crash-lands in Latur

 
Maharashtra CM Fadnavis unhurt after helicopter crash-lands in Latur
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and five others -- three officials, the pilot and the co-pilot -- escaped unhurt when their helicopter crash-landed while attempting to land shortly after take-off because of bad weather in Nilanga town of Latur district, about 480 km from here, today.
 
Video footage of the incident showed the six-year-old Sikorsky helicopter, owned by the state government, getting entangled in electric wires and crash-landing as the pilot tried to descend because of the bad weather.
 
"Our helicopter did meet with an accident in Latur but me and my team is absolutely safe and ok. Nothing to worry," Mr. Fadnavis said on micro-blogging site Twitter later.
 
"With the blessings of people of Maharashtra and nation, I'm safe. My team is fine too. Please do not believe any rumours," he said.
 
The helicopter was badly damaged in the incident, sources said, adding that the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau would probe the mishap.
 
Mr. Fadnavis later travelled by road to Latur, about 40 km away, from where he flew to Mumbai in an aircraft that had been arranged for him.
 
According to various accounts, the helicopter took off around noon from Nilanga after Mr. Fadnavis attended an event there. Shortly afterwards, the pilot decided to land because of adverse weather conditions. While descending, the chopper got entangled in wires and crash-landed even as hundreds of people, policemen and other officials looked on.
 
None of those on board suffered any serious injury, sources said.
 
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BCCI invites applications for position of Head Coach for men's cricket team

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has invited applications from interested candidates for the position of Head Coach for the Senior India men's cricket team.
 
The process has been initiated because of the term of the current coach, Anil Kumble, will end with the Champions Trophy tournament. Kumble will be a direct entry for the process, BCCI sources said.
 
According to the BCCI, to ensure a fair and completely transparent process, a nominee of the Board's Committee of Administrators (CoA) will oversee the entire process along with the Cricket Advisory Committee. 
 
The BCCI's three-member Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising former players Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V V S Laxman, will conduct interviews and seek presentations to select the best possible candidate to guide the team and take Indian Cricket forward.
 
Interested candidates should send their applications by e-mail on or before the 31st of May 2017 to coachappointment@bcci.tv, BCCI Honorary Acting Secretary Amitabh Chaudhary said.
 
The BCCI said on its website that candidates applying for the position would have to meet the following conditions:
 
1. Should have successfully coached a cricket team of any of the member countries of the ICC, at the first class or at the International level. 
 
2. It is preferred that the candidate should be qualified through a certification/assessment program conducted by any of the full member countries and currently possess such a valid certification. 
 
3. Should be able to prepare and present a coaching plan elaborating the approach for 'Team India’ to attain leadership position in all formats of the game.
 
4. Demonstrate methods/tools to effectively measure individual player performance and present metrics to the Board, which will in turn measure the performance of the team, on a consistent and timely basis.
 
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5. Demonstrate an understanding and ability of employing a multi-disciplinary approach that will include sports psychology and sports medicine, and effectively manage the work load of the players, thereby enhancing their contribution to the cause of the team
 
6. Communication skills befitting the coach of an international team are mandatory along with the ability to effectively convey the right messages and must demonstrate proficiency in English. It is desirable to communicate in Hindi and other regional Indian languages.
 
7. Should be well versed with the latest technologies/trends in sports software and ability to utilise the same, which will assist in analysing/ improving the performance of the player and the team.
 
8. Mandatory that the candidate should have an impeccable personal record, devoid of any past or current disputes, with any of the member boards of the ICC or its affiliates.
 
9. Demonstrate plans and ability to contribute to the NCA Cricket Development Programmes and forecasting/planning to develop the next generation of cricketers and agree to make themselves available for the NCA, as and when they are not with the team.
 
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Tata Sons appoints Saurabh Agrawal as group chief financial officer

Saurabh Agrawal
Saurabh Agrawal
Tata Sons, the promoter of all key Tata companies, has announced the appointment of Mr. Saurabh Agrawal as the group chief financial officer of the company.
 
Mr Agrawal, among India’s most successful investment bankers, brings with him over two decades of rich experience in capital markets to the Tata group, a press release from the company said.
 
Mr. Agrawal, who was head of strategy in the Aditya Birla Group, will join the company with effect from July 2017, the release said.
 
Starting his career in 1995, Mr Agrawal has a sterling record in both strategy and execution, covering a wide range of industries, it said.
 
Before joining the Aditya Birla Group, he served as head of the corporate finance unit of Standard Chartered Bank in India and South Asia, and the head of the investment banking division in DSP Merrill Lynch.
 
The Chairman of Tata Sons, N Chandrasekaran, said, “He brings deep capital markets knowledge and valuable cross-industry experience to this critical leadership role in the Tata group. His expertise will help us in driving rigour and synergy in capital allocation decisions, investment management as well as consolidation and optimisation of the group’s business portfolio. We look forward to his contribution in driving financial performance of the group”.
 
Mr Agrawal said, “I am honoured to join the Tata group. It is an exciting time for the group under the leadership of Mr Chandrasekaran, and I look forward to contributing to the group’s profitable growth with my experience in corporate finance”.
 
Mr Agrawal is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology IIT), Roorkee, and has a post graduate management degree from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta.
 
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Eleven coaches of Mumbai-Lucknow AC Superfast Express derail in UP, no one injured

 
11 coaches of Lucknow-bound Superfast Express derail at Unnao
Eleven coaches of the Lucknow Air-conditioned Superfast Express from Mumbai derailed at Unnao railway station, about 20 km from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, today but none of the passengers suffered any serious injuries, official sources said.
 
Passengers of the affected coaches were cleared to their destinations in a relief train as well as in buses and cars, official sources said.
 
Senior railway officials, incuding the General Manager of Northern Railway and the Divisional Railway Manager, Lucknow, rushed to the spot to oversee relief efforts, they said.
 
The Up line was not affected by the mishap and normal train movement was restored on it soon, the sources said.
 
The Railways set up helplines on telephone numbers 0522-2234607, 9794830973 and 9794830975.
 
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Railways to introduce first Tejas Express between Mumbai, Karmali from Monday

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Indian Railways will introduce the semi-high speed air-conditioned Tejas Express (Train No 22119/ 22120) between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in  Mumbai and Karmali in Goa for the first time. 
 
Tejas Express is a state-of-the-art train capable of running at s speed of 200 kmph with ultra modern amenities.
 
An official press release said the train would run between Mumbai and Karmali five days a week during non-monsoon period and three days a week during the monsoon period.
 
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu will flag off the inaugural service of the train 22119 Mumbai CST-Karmali Tejas Superfast as inaugural special 02119 from Mumbai CST at 1525 hours tomorrow via video conferencing from Swami Narayan Sabhagruh, Dadar. The train will reach Karmali at 0035 hours on the next day.
 
The regular service of 22120 from Karmali will start on May 23 and that of 22119 from Mumbai CST will start from May 24.
 
The train will have halts at Dadar, Thane, Panvel, Ratnagiri and Kudal. It will have a total of 15 LHB coaches, including one Executive Chair Car, 12 Chair Cars and two Generator-Cum-SLR coaches.
 
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L&T Power wins Rs. 300 crore export orders from Japan

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its Power Business had, through its venture company L&T-MHPS Boilers Private Limited (LMB),  secured export orders worth approximately Rs. 300 crore from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Limited (MHPS), Japan.
 
The LMB contracts include supply of pressure parts to 2x1000 MW and 1x650 MW power plants in Indonesia and Japan, respectively, for water wall panel, coils, piping and header, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said LMB is currently executing eight export orders for the supply of pulverisers and pressure parts to various MHPS projects in Japan and Indonesia. LMB has already executed 11 export orders for supply of pressure parts, pulverisers and engineering services to the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia.
 
LMB’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Hazira, Gujarat, for manufacture of pressure parts and coal pulverisers for supercritical steam generators having capacity of 5000 MW per annum.
 
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Times Now files complaint against Arnab Goswami, accuses Republic TV of IPR violation

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Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. (BCCL) has lodged a complaint against Arnab Goswami, the former Editor-in-Chief of its television news channel Times Now, and its former reporter Prema Sridevi alleging that they had committed offences of theft, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of property and infringement of BCCL’s intellectual property rights (IPR) by using material collected while they were in its employment on the new channel Republic TV on May 6 and 8.

In its complaint, filed at the Azad Maidan Police Station here, the company said it owned and operated various television channels in India with a substantial presence overseas. These include Times Now, an English news channel which, it claimed, was the market leader in the English News segment and “continues to create trends as the unbeatable leader in this space with path breaking stories and news coverage.”

BCCL said it owned several intellectual assets in the form of stories, audio-video content, documents, tapes, and so on, gathered by its team of reporters and journalists during its news gathering and broadcasting operations.

Mr. Goswami launched his English News channel Republic TV on May 6 and, on the first day, the channel carried an expose on former Bihar Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav. The report included audio tapes containing telephone conversations between Mr. Yadav and former Siwan MP Mohammed Shahabuddin, while he was still in prison.

The complaint said Republic TV had, on May 8, in another report, carried audio tapes of telephone conversations between Ms. Prema, now with the new channel, and the late Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Congress MP and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, and their domestic help Narayan.

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BCCL contended that both these reports used material, in the form of audio tapes of telephone conversations, procured and accessed while Mr. Goswami and Ms. Prema were in the employment of Times Now. It said that an internal inquiry had established that the tapes were procured and in the possession of Mr. Goswami and Ms. Prema while they were in the service of BCCL.

The complaint noted that Mr. Goswami and Ms. Prema had, on Republic TV, said that the audio tape of the conversation in the Sunanda Pushkar case was in their possession for the last two years, that is when they were in their previous organisation Times Now.

“Mr. Goswami and Ms. Sridevi have wilfully, deliberately and with knowledge converted for their benefit and used the aforesaid intellectual property of Times Now and thereby dishonestly misappropriated the said intellectual property, thereby committing the offence of criminal misappropriation of property punishable U/Sec. 403 of I.P.C. and several other provisions under applicable laws,” the company said.

“BCCL has therefore taken steps to defend its rights and protect its intellectual property against such misuse,” it added.

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ICICI Bank slashes home loan rates by upto 30 basis points

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ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank by consolidated assets, today announced reduction of interest rates by upto 30 basis points for home loans upto Rs 30 lakh.
 
With this reduction, salaried borrowers can avail home loans at among the lowest rates in the industry, a press release from the bank said. 
 
Salaried women borrowers will get home loans at 8.35% and others at 8.40%, it said.
 
In both these cases, the reduction in interest rates is 30 basis points from the previous rates. Customers taking home loans in the affordable segment will also have the option to select the type of interest rate. They can enjoy the benefit of floating interest rate or a fixed interest rate for the initial two/three years followed by floating rate, it said.
 
Further, borrowers can also choose to link their home loans with I-MCLR-6 Months or I-MCLR-1 Year. The bank is the first to offer such flexibility to customers. The reduced rate will be effective from May 15, 2017 for new borrowers, the release said.
 
“ICICI Bank is committed to support the Government's vision to provide housing for all by 2022. In line with this commitment, we have reduced the home loan interest rates for the affordable housing segment," Ms. Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank, said.
 
"With this announcement, customers of Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG) can avail the dual benefit of low interest rates from us and the Credit Linked Subsidy under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. I believe that this initiative, along with the bank’s expansion of home loan business in tier II cities, will empower a larger section of customers to realise the dream of owning a new home," she added.
 
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India’s forex reserves soar by $ 2.985 billion to record $ 375.717 billion

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Maintaining an uptrend for the fourth consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 2.985 billion to a record $ 375.717 billion during the week ended May 5, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had gone up by $ 1.594 billion to $ 372.732 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 up by $ 2474 billion to $ 351.530 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 increased by $ 569.9 million to $ 20.439 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down $ 0.4 million to $ 1.459 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 58.4 million to $ 2.289 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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GoAir launches monsoon campaign with fares starting at Rs 599 across all sectors

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Low-cost carrier GoAir today announced its monsoon campaign as part of which it is offering fares starting at Rs. 599 across all 23 sectors oeprated by it.
 
The offer, open for booking from May 12 to May 15, is for travel from July 1 to September 30, a press release from the airline said.
 
The offer is valid only for travel on non-stop and via flights on GoAir’s network, the release said.
 
"GoAir has initiated this lowest fare offer for their customers so that they can avail these attractive fares to plan their travel well in advance.  GoAir has been consistent in providing flexibility of choice to their customers along with convenient and affordable flying experience," it said.
 
The offer is available exclusively across GoAir networks (GoAir website, GoAir ticketing counters, GoAir Call Centre and travel agents). 
 
The offer is not valid on infant bookings. Group discount is not applicable on the offer and it cannot be clubbed with any other on-going promotional offer or in any form of cash. Fares are subjected to Standard Cancellation & Rebooking policies. Blackout dates are applicable, the release added.
 
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FSDL invites bids for new teams in Indian Super League

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Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), organisers of the Indian Super League, a city based football league established in India in 2014 under the sanction of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), plans to invite bids from interested parties to enrol and participate in the Indian Super League from its fourth edition to be staged in 2017-2018.
 
FSDL will be floating the tender through ‘Invitation To Bid’ (ITB) to be available on working days starting 12th May 2017 to 24th May 2017, a press release from FSDL said.
 
Bids are invited from prospective team owners in respect of 10-cities --  Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cuttack, Durgapur, Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Ranchi, Siliguri and Thiruvananthapuram.
 
Under and subject to the ITB, one to three new winning bidders shall be enrolled and awarded the right to participate in the Indian Super League. 
 
The release clarified that in case of the city of Kolkata being awarded to the winning bidder, the respective team shall hold its home games outside Kolkata for the next two consecutive Indian Super League Seasons (2017/2018 and 2018/2019).
 
All bidding parties will need to fulfil the eligibility criteria and other requirements specified in the ITB including but not limited to summary of plans to operate their team in the league, including the business model and plan to develop the sport at the grassroots level. The bid documents must be submitted on Thursday, 25th May 2017.
 
Eight teams currently participate in the Indian Super League- Atletico de Kolkata, Chennaiyin FC, Delhi Dynamos FC, FC Goa, FC Pune City, Kerala Blasters FC, NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC.
 
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Ola ties up with cricket academies to offer scholarships to driver partners’ children

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Ola, one of India’s leading mobile apps for transportation, announced a tie-up with leading cricket academies in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Pune, including the Cricket Academy of Pathans (CAP), to provide three-month cricket scholarships to children of its driver partners. 
 
Children will be selected and given an opportunity to test and hone their skills under the guidance of professional cricket coaches, a press release from the company said.
 
The scholarships will help in unearthing new talent and give young children a platform to kick-start their budding cricketing careers, it said.
 
The release said the initiative was part of the ‘Ola Partners League’ (OPL) - a unique virtual cricket game for driver partners that was launched on April 24 and has seen an encouraging response from drivers across seven cities.
 
Trials to select the deserving children will be held at their academies and the participating children will be put through a selection process that will evaluate their batting, bowling, and fielding abilities. The selected children will undergo training by professional coaches who include former Ranji and national players, who will guide them on enhancing their game along with providing advice on physical fitness, sportsman spirit, and handling pressure, among others. All selected children will be given complete cricket kits, OPL jerseys as well as other goodies, the release said.
 
Vishal Kaul, COO at Ola, said, “Cricket is more than just a game in India and there are millions who wish to make it to the big league. There is immense talent across the country and we want to play a role in encouraging the 'cricket champions of tomorrow'. 
 
"While Ola Partners League (OPL) is being played virtually by lakhs of our driver partners, we also wanted to engage with their families. Scholarships at cricket academies are an excellent opportunity for the children of our driver partners to transform their cricketing dreams into a reality. The initial response around OPL across the seven cities has been very encouraging and we are expecting a similar response through this initiative as well. There is great anticipation across the organisation to see who these deserving kids will be and Ola is proud to play a significant role in creating such opportunities through OPL.”
 
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OPL has popular Indian all-rounder cricketer Irfan Pathan and famous TV personality Mandira Bedi as its ambassadors.  
 
“I am thrilled to be a part of Ola Partners League, a novel initiative undertaken by our home grown company - Ola. While OPL focuses on rewarding driver partners by allotting runs for rides they complete and tasks they fulfil through its digital platform, it is heartening to see that Ola is also supporting their children by offering scholarships across India through OPL. I personally believe that (Cricket Academy of Pathans) CAP is a ground to unearth the next-gen of talented cricketers and this initiative of Ola is indeed a remarkable step in that direction," Pathan said.
 
“It is very heartening to see companies like Ola coming to the forefront by creating engaging properties like OPL for their driver partners. Like the game of cricket brings the entire country together, I am confident that OPL will have many takers and will bring together the driver partner community to play together while representing their cities. I also applaud the initiative to identify bright young kids and give them access to cricket training at some of the best academies in the country," Bedi said.
 
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Harper’s Bazaar India launches coffee table book "Iconic"


 
Kajol launches Harper's Bazaar India's book 'Iconic'
Fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar India, in partnership with jewellery brand Tanishq, launched its first-ever coffee table book Iconic! Ideas & Inspirations Behind The World’s Biggest Brands here yesterday with actor Kajol, who completes 25 years in the film industry and graces Bazaar India’s May cover. 
 
The book traces the legacies of some of the biggest brands across fashion, jewellery, beauty and hospitality and looks at what it takes to be iconic, a press release from the magazine said.
 
This year, Harper’s Bazaar celebrates its 150th anniversary, making it the world’s oldest fashion magazine. The book, then, also pays homage to the brand’s own respected history.
 
The event had guests dance to music by Ukrainian DJ Teri Miko. It also offered guests an exclusive preview of Tanishq’s Red Carpet Collection with models like Sonalee Kumar, Vidushi Mehra, Ayesha Chenoy, Shabnam Singhal, Geetika Mittal Gulati, Kiran Lohia and Payal Sen wearing jewellery from the collection.
 
“Every piece is studded with precious gem stones which is further accentuated by the unrivalled splendor of luminescent diamonds. This collection will truly enable any woman to live the ‘red carpet moment’ of her dreams,” said Deepika Tewari – GM Marketing, Titan jewellery division. 
 
Later, models wearing gowns by Amit Aggarwal showcased select pieces from Tanishq’s red carpet collection while Mr. Sandeep Kulhallo, VP (R&M) of Tanishq addressed the guests.
 
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SBI reduces home loan rate by 25 bps to lowest in industry

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State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender and the largest home loan provider, has cut its home loan rate by 25 basis points (bps) to 8.35% per annum, the lowest in the market.
 
The new rate will be effective from May 9, 2017, a press release from the bank said here today.
 
The effective interest rate for all eligible salaried customers will be 8.35%p.a. for loans upto Rs. 30 lakh. Over and above, an eligible home loan customer can also avail of an interest subsidy of Rs. 2.67 lakh under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana scheme, it said.
 
The release said the interest rates for customers availing a home loan above Rs. 30 lakh have also been reduced. To supplement the affordable housing push, SBI has also come out with special offerings for Construction Finance to the builders for affordable housing projects. This will give a dual push both for construction finance and also for home finance for affordable homes, it said.
 
Mr. Rajnish Kumar, Managing Director – NBG, SBI said, “We have seen a steep hike in the home loan enquiries recently and reduction in rates will further help millions of home buyers fulfill their dream of owning a home. Individuals can apply for Home Loans through multiple channels. SBI offers bouquet of home loan products catering to different sections of the society."
 
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Reliance and SAP launch Saral GST for innovative user solutions

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Reliance Corporate IT Park Limited (RCITPL), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SAP SE to launch ‘Saral GST’ solution for taxpayers in the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime.
 
A press release from Reliance said the offering would enable taxpayers to be GST compliant and smoothly access the Government’s GST System, once GST is rolled out from July 1, 2017. 
 
Saral GST will leverage the expertise of RCITPL as GST Suvidha Provider (GSP) and SAP as Application Service Provider (ASP), it said.
 
"Saral GST presents a value proposition for taxpayers focused around simplified operations, unified support and high quality of service, enhanced with scalability and security. As a GSP, RCITPL will connect ASPs to the Government’s GST system through Jio MPLS network. SAP, in its role as ASP, will enable taxpayers to effectively create, manage and file GST returns in a simple, safe and seamless environment. This collaboration of the two industry leaders thus offers the full potential of GST and boosts the success of Digital India initiative," the release said.
 
“GST is not just a tax reform but is an unprecedented opportunity for companies to improve functional efficiencies and realize increased profitability,” said Neeraj Athalye, Head, S/4HANA & GST Adoption Drive, SAP India. “Besides helping businesses get compliant with the new law seamlessly, Saral GST will also enable them to benefit from the GST vision.”
 
“We see GST as the next avenue to enrich and enhance the nation’s Digital Life experience,” said Rajkumar N. Pugalia, Head, Reliance GST Initiatives. “Saral GST represents the extension of the two-decade partnership between SAP and Reliance to help tax payers transform into a secure digital enterprise with end-to-end support.”
 
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L&T Infotech unveils new brand identity as LTI

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IT services major Larsen & Toubro Infotech has launched its new brand identity as LTI, which aims to position it as a leader partner solving challenges of convergence in the digital and physical world.
 
"Encapsulated in the tagline ‘Let’s Solve’, LTI looks to partnering with clients to help them compete better in a world where digital and physical are converging," a press release from the company said.
 
The core idea of the brand, ‘Pioneering Solutions in a Converging World’ drives the entire organization to design, innovate and invest in solutions that help clients accelerate digital transformation, it said.
 
"The new brand identity of LTI exemplifies the rapid progress made by the company across all dimensions during last several quarters. The company launched Mosaic platform with componentized solutions for digital, analytics, IoT, automation and cloud. It got listed in July 2016 unlocking stakeholder value and it acquired AugmentIQ in November 2016 to deepen its big data and analytics offerings. LTI continues to invest in building capabilities that its clients in various industries require to compete better," the release said.
 
According to it, the new visual language is designed around the concept of  ‘Mosaic’ – an imaginative representation of how LTI brings together the power of exponential technologies to deliver real business outcomes. 
 
"The colours blue and orange are derived from the horizon, the ultimate symbol of convergence where the blue ocean and amber sky meet. This dynamic, modern and agile visual language infuses renewed energy to every touchpoint symbolizing LTI’s passion for client success. LTI’s key beliefs drive all the actions of more than 20,000 LTItes, inspiring them to go the extra mile for clients, be agile, push the frontiers of innovation, keep learning in a changing world and to solve for the greater good of society," the release said.
 
Mr. Sanjay Jalona, CEO and Managing Director, LTI, said, “One of the fundamental shifts of this century is the blurring lines between digital and physical world. Our clients want us to enable them to stay competitive in a more dynamic world where bricks and bytes are seamlessly connected. The stunning and purposeful transformation of our brand reinforces our strategic intent to build these capabilities and our deep commitment to bring new ideas and approaches to every partnership.”
 
Founded as a subsidiary of the Larsen & Toubro group, LTI is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017.
 
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Global gold demand in Q1 slips 18% to 1034 tonnes in Q1 of 2017

 
Global gold demand in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017 declined 18% to 1,034 tonnes (t) from the record level of 1,262t it had touched in the same period of last year, according to the World Gold Council's (WGC) latest Gold Demands Trend (GDT) report released here today.
 
The report said first quarter jewellery demand was 481t, 1% higher than 474t in Q1 2016, with gains in India being the main reason for the slight year-on-year increase.
 
But demand remained relatively weak in an historical context, 18% below the 5-year quarterly average, it said.
 
"Indian consumers enjoyed a period of relative stability in the domestic market, lifting demand 15% year-on-year to 124t. Continued remonetisation by the RBI buoyed consumer sentiment, which encouraged demand ahead of the auspicious wedding season, albeit from a low base," it said.
 
The report said inflows into gold-backed Exchange Traded Funds(ETFs) totalled 109t which, although solid, were nonetheless a fraction of last year’s near-record inflows. Slower central bank demand also contributed to the weakness. The inflows were largely concentrated in Europe. 
 
Although inflows were just one-third of the extraordinary levels seen in Q1 2016, demand was firm. European-listed products were the most popular, due to continued political fragility in the region, it said.
 
Bar and coin investment, however, was healthy, at 290t, an increase of 9% year-on-year, while demand firmed slightly in both the jewellery and technology sectors. Chinese investors were central to the increase, attracted by the momentum behind the price rise ahead of the seasonally-important Chinese New Year.
 
Central bank demand continued to slow, with 76t added to reserves. This was down 27% from 104t in Q1 2016. China’s purchasing programme was on pause during the quarter as its foreign exchange reserves remained under pressure.
 
The report said total supply reached 1,032t this quarter, a fall of 12% compared with 1,175t during the first quarter of 2016. This was predominantly a result of a 21% fall in recycling to 283t, from 360t during Q1 last year, and continued net de-hedging of a further 15t by producers. 
 
"The drop in recycling demonstrates a return to more normal levels, after sharp price movements drove exceptional levels in Q1 2016. Mine production of 764t was little changed from Q1 2016 (768t), and in line with the expectation that production will remain broadly steady before tailing off," it said.
 
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The report said total consumer demand increased by 4% to 771t from 739t in Q1 2016, while total investment demand fell 34% to 399t this quarter compared with 607t last year.
 
Demand in the technology sector increased by 3% year-on-year, to 78t, compared with 76t during Q1 2016.
 
Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, said: “Demand is down year-on-year, but that is largely because Q1 last year was exceptionally high. Although we did not see the record-breaking surges in ETF inflows experienced in Q1 2016, we have seen good inflows nonetheless this quarter, with strong interest from European investors ahead of the Dutch and French elections."
 
"Retail investment demand is strong too, up 9% year-on-year with demand worth over US$11bn in Q1. China led the way with bar and coin demand surging 30%, breaching 100t for only the fourth time on record, fuelled by concerns over potential currency weakness and a frothy property market.
 
“Elsewhere the picture was less rosy: central bank demand was down and jewellery demand is still in the doldrums, although there are signs of improvement, especially from India where the gradual remonetisation of the economy is supporting the jewellery market," he said.
 
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Virgin Atlantic launches ‘Brexit calculator’ to help work out savings on UK trip

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British airline Virgin Atlantic has introduced a "Brexit Calculator" to help travellers planning holidays in the United Kingdom to work out the savings they could make on the trip and on various activities in the country.
 
"Holidaymakers travelling with Virgin Atlantic this summer will be able to avail exciting travel choices as unveiled by the airline’s new Brexit Calculator campaign," a press release from the airline said.
 
"With an exchange rate of 1 Indian Rupee to 0.012 British Pound, the campaign draws attention to the bright side of Brexit and emphasises that there has never been a better time to book a trip to the UK. Virgin Atlantic offers a daily flight between Delhi and London Heathrow with return fares from INR 45,845," it said.
 
"With this campaign, Virgin Atlantic has introduced a fun ‘Brexit calculator’ application to help holidaymakers in India work out how much they could save on a trip to the UK. The calculator will compute the savings based on the pre-and post-Brexit prices and show how popular tourist attractions have become a bargain. With those savings, customers can save so much on popular tourist activities in London that it’ll cover the cost of their flight," it said.
 
Mr. Nick Parker, Head of India and Middle East, Virgin Atlantic Airways said, “Clearly there has never been a better time to travel to the UK. The Indian Rupee is at a record high against the pound which means you’ll save on literally everything when you visit the UK. Britain is emerging as an increasingly popular destination for Indians traveling for their holidays, adventures, and business trips. The Brexit calculator is a fun way to explore quintessential British tourist activities, and work out how much you could save in the UK at the same time.”
 
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“At Virgin Atlantic, we are always looking for ways to improve our customers experience and make flying that bit more special. We recently introduced live TV on our flights from India, and have extended our codeshare agreement with Jet Airways to offer even more flights between India, the UK, and the US. We also welcome the new e-Tourist visa guidelines introduced by the Indian Government which allows foreign tourists visiting India to stay in the country for up to two months and enjoy double-entry benefits," he added.
 
Using the new ‘Brexit Calculator’ players can select from a range of popular tourist activities in the UK, and calculate once they’ve saved enough money to pay for a flight to London.  Items include traditional activities such as afternoon tea, watching a football match or attending a Shakespearean play – as well as more cheeky suggestions such as getting a Union Jack tattoo or Cockney rhyming slang lessons. 
 
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