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BSE Sensex closes 54.18 points down at 18681.42

 
Market Movers Evening of 25 March 2013

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Sensex today closed  54.18 points or 0.29 per cent down at 18681.42.

On the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the Nifty closed 18 points (0.31%) down at 5633.85.
 
GMR Infra (9.52%), Essar Oil (8.44%), Opto Circuits (6.66%), Gujarat Fluorochemicals (5.34%) and DLF (4.78%) were among the top gainers on the BSE today.
 
The top losers included MMTC (4.93%), Unitech (4.18%), Adani Enterprises (3.95%), Indian Oil Corporation (3.86%) and Strides Arcolab (3.82%).
 
The BSE Mid Cap index was down 0.32%, the Small Cap index 0.80%, BSE 100 0.31% and the BSE 500 down 0.31%.
 
In the sectoral indices, Capital goods was down 1.44%, Auto 0.78%, Metal 0.71%, Banking 0.66%, %, FMCG 0.41%, Tech 0.29%, Healthcare 0.24% and  IT 0.15%.
 
On the other hand, Realty was up 0.79%, Power 0.56%, Oil & Gas 0.49%, Consumer Durables 0.43% and PSU 0.20%.
 
At the NSE, the top gainers included DLF (5.04%), NTPC (2.05%), BPCL (2.04%), Powergrid (1.76%) and ONGC (1.74%). The losers included Bank of Baroda (2.81%), Hero Motors (2.75%), Larsen & Toubro (2.57%), Tata Steel (2.52%) and IDFC (2.34%).
 
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Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Pitbull to perform at IPL opening ceremony on April 2

File photo of Shah Rukh Khan
File photo of Shah Rukh Khan

Bollywood superstar and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) owner Shah Rukh Khan, popular actress Katrina Kaif and international rapper Pitbull are among those who will feature in the opening ceremony of the sixth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Kolkata in the evening of April 2.

The opening match of the tournament, that will be played across the country from April 3 to May 26, will be between KKR, the defending champions, and Delhi Daredevils at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata on April 3.
 
The organisers said the opening ceremony, organized by Red Chillies Entertainment, would be the "grandest sporting celebration that India has ever seen".
 
To be held from 7.30 pm onwards at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, one of the biggest football arenas in Asia, the event will also feature flying drummers, Chinese percussionists and fireworks, a press release from IPL said.
 
“SRK loves the city of joy and he is already very excited to perform there. Katrina will be performing there for the first time. When Pitbull was told that he is being invited to perform at the opening ceremony of the Pepsi IPL 2013, and SRK would also be performing as well, he agreed to come within minutes,” the release quoted a source as saying.
 
“The Opening Ceremony of the Pepsi IPL 2013 will be as outstanding as the cricket that we will witness over the subsequent seven weeks. We are in for a spectacular commencement to what promises to be a memorable tournament,” Rajeev Shukla, Chairman, IPL, said.
 
The inaugural IPL was won by Rajasthan Royals in 2008, followed by the Deccan Chargers in 2009, when the tournament was played in South Africa. Chennai Super Kings won the title in 2010 and 2011 before KKR triumphed last year.
 
Nine teams will be in the fray in IPL 2013 and will play a total of 76 matches. The final will be held on May 26, again at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
 
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India’s forex reserves rise by $ 1.966 billion to $ 292.317 billion

India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 1.966 billion to $ 292.317 billion during the week ended March 15 from $ 290.35 billion in the previous week after declining for six consecutive weeks, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said.

Foreign currency assts, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, rose by $ 1.971 billion to $ 259.354 billion, the central bank said in its weekly statistical supplement.
 
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, it said.
 
This is the biggest jump in reserves since the week ended September 4 when they had gone up by nearly $ 2.5 billion.
 
According to the bulletin, gold reserves remained unchanged during the week at $ 26.292 billion, while special drawing rights (SDRs) declined slightly by $ 3.3 million to $ 4.394 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) declined by $ 1.7 million to $2.321 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
Overall, the country’s foreign exchange reserves have decreased by $2.081 billion since the end of March 2012, the bulletin added.
 
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1993 Mumbai blasts: SC confirms death for Yakub Memon, gives 5 years to Sanjay Dutt

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence awarded to Yakub Memon for his role as one of the masterminds of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, in which 257 people were killed and 713 injured, but commuted the capital punishment given to 10 others to life sentence.
1993 Mumbai blasts: Sanjay Dutt gets 5- year sentence

The Supreme Court today upheld the death sentence awarded to Yakub Memon for his role as one of the masterminds of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, in which 257 people were killed and 713 injured, but commuted the capital punishment given to 10 others to life sentence.

Delivering its verdict in the 20-year-old case, the apex court also upheld the conviction of popular Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt under the Arms Act but reduced his sentence from six years to the minimum of five years.
 
Dutt, who has already spent about months in jail earlier and has been on bail since November 2007, will now have to undergo the remaining part of the sentence. He has the option of filing a review petition.
 
The 13 coordinated bomb blasts in the country's financial capital on March 12, 1993, which targeted places such as the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Air India building, were the  deadliest terror attack in India that followed the communal violence in the metropolis in the wake of the destruction of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
 
Dutt and the others in the case, who had been convicted and sentenced in the case by the TADA court earlier, will now have to surrender within four weeks.
 
Responding to Dutt's counsel's plea that he be released on probation, the court said, “The circumstances and nature of offence was so serious that Dutt cannot be released on probation.” 
 
It also said that the evidence and materials perused by the TADA court in arriving at the decision against the actor were correct. 
 
Dutt, son of well-known actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt, was convicted in November 2006 for illegal possessio of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle. He was, however, acquittd of the more serious charges of criminal conspiracy under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Prevention Act, which is now defunct. .
 
"I really don't know what to say right now," a visibly upset Priya Dutt, the actor's sister and Lok Sabha member, who was present in the court throughout the one hour and more that it took to deliver the verdict, told mediapersons as she left the premises.
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But his counsel Satish Maneshinde told television channels that Dutt had been mentally prepared for such a situation. "Sanjay Dutt is strong enough to face any sentence awarded by the Supreme Court."
 
He said he had talked to Dutt after the verdict was pronounced and quoted him as saying, "I have accepted the judgement of the court with all humility and I respect the sentence.” 
 
In the case of Memon, the brother of the absconding Ibrahim Mushtaq "Tiger" Memon, said to be one of the masterminds of the blasts along with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, the court said, "We have no doubt about Memon's role in the blasts. Memon and all absconding accused were ‘archers’ and rest of the accused were ‘arrows’ in their hands.” He has been in jail since he returned to India and surrendered in 1994.
 
The court said it had reduced the death sentence of ten others to life term because they had already been behind bars for 20 years and their economic condition was weak. "However, they will remain in jail till death," it said.
 
The court reduced the life sentence given to Ashrafur Rehman Azimulla to 10 years and that given to Imtiyaz Yunusmiya Ghavte to the jail term already undergone by him.
 
In all, the court had heard appeals and cross-appeals filed by and against 100 people who were convicted by the TADA court. These included appeals filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for enhancement of the sentences of 47 persons. The agency did not appeal against Dutt's acquittal under TADA.
 
The hearings began on November 1, 2011 and continued for ten months until August last year, when the court reserved its verdict.
 
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L&T Construction secures orders valued at Rs 2080 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction division had won new orders valued at over Rs 2080 crore across various business segments in February and March this year.

A press release from the company said these included new orders worth Rs 1385 crore won by L&T Construction's Building & Factories Business for the construction of residential towers in cities in North India.
 
The Power Transmission & Distribution Business has won new orders aggregating to Rs 585 crore from various customers, it said.
 
The release said an order was secured from Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRC) for electrical and mechanical work for seven underground stations and associated tunnel sections of North- South and East - West corridors of BMRC Phase-I. 
 
For the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, L&T will construct a 400 kV Double Circuit (Quad) transmission line between Kurukhsetra – Jallandhar and a 400 kV Double Circuit (Triple) Transmission Line for Abdullapur –Sonepat at Kurukhsetra associated with a WR – NR HVDC interconnector.
 
L&T Construction also received a new order from Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh Limited for 220 kV underground cable laying between Malkaram & Ghanapur substation to Moulali substation in Andhra Pradesh.
 
Additional orders worth Rs 110 crores have been bagged from various ongoing jobs in the Water & Solar and Infrastructure Business, the release added.
 
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Reliance Life Insurance launches new healthcare plan

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Reliance Life Insurance Company (RLIC), part of Reliance Capital Limited, today announced the launch of a new healthcare offering that is a family floater scheme that provides comprehensive coverage for hospitalization, surgeries and critical illnesses for the entire family in a single policy.

The launch of the ‘Reliance Life Care for You Advantage Plan’ was announced here today by Mr. Anup Rau, Chief Executive Officer, Reliance Life Insurance, here today.
 
“Health insurance penetration in India is as low as 5 per cent, with over 85 per cent of the 1.4 billion population having no health cover. We recognize health insurance as one of the primary protection requirements for individuals and family members in the country. Reliance Life Care for You Advantage Plan is aimed at addressing the changing healthcare needs and expenses of our customers,” said Mr. Rau.
 
A press release from the company, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), said the key feature of the policy is that it allows an insured to pay a fixed premium for a three-year policy. This premium remains fixed for the three-year period, irrespective of the number of claims taken by the insured during the validity of the policy.
 
The plan offers the insured a cover that includes primary member, spouse, children, as well as parents and parents-in-law.
 
The primary member can opt for the plan between 18 and 60 years of age with guaranteed renewability till 75 years for adult family members (21 years for children), dependent parents and parents-in-laws.
 
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The coverage offered by this plan ranges from Rs. 2 to 10 lakh with a no claim bonus of 5 per cent of the sum assured for every claim-free year, up to a maximum of 30 per cent.
 
The policy also covers pre-existing illness, after continuing it for four continuous years. The indemnity reimbursement health insurance scheme covers in-patient treatment with both pre and
post-hospitalization benefits supported by emergency 24X7 customer care across India, the release said.
 
According to it, one of the significant features of the plan is that a lump sum payment of 5 per cent of the reimbursable hospital expenses will be made on each hospitalization claim towards pre and
post-hospitalization without any supporting document.
 
“This feature aims at promoting transactions based on trust, instead of documentation, with a view to maintaining a closer and long-term relationship with our customers,” Mr. Rau added.
 
The plan also offers 150 day-care treatments, wherein the insured or family members covered under the plan need not stay in the hospital for a minimum period of 24 continuous hours.
 
The insured will also be entitled for tax benefits on premium payment, as applicable, the release added.
 
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SBI receives Rs 3004 crore in capital infusion from Government

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The State Bank of India, the country's largest lender, today said it had received yesterday a sum of Rs 3003,99,98,647.66 from the Government of India as its contribution in the preferential allotment of 1,29,88,697  equity shares, to enable it to support national and international banking operations undertaken through its subsidiaries and associates.

A press release from the bank said its shareholders had, at a general meeting held yesterday, approved the issuance and allotment of the shares at the issue price of Rs. 2,312.78 per share (face value Rs.10 each, at a premium of Rs.2,302.78 per share).
 
The issue price is the floor price calculated as per SEBI (ICDR) Regulations 2009, as on the ‘relevant date’ of 15.02.2013, it said.
 
With the issuance of 1,29,88,697 shares, the shareholding of GoI in SBI has increased  from the existing 41,32,52,443 shares (61.58%) to 42,62,41,140 shares (62.31%). 
 
Consequently, the total shares of SBI have increased from 67,10,45,274 to post-issue status of 68,40,33,971shares.
 
"The bank is confident that, with this capital infusion, the bank will meet the capital adequacy requirement prescribed by Reserve Bank of India," the release added.
 
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RBI reduces repo rate by 25 bps to 7.50%, says headroom for further easing is limited

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today reduced the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 7.75 per cent to 7.50 per cent with immediate effect in an effort to spur growth.

Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stood adjusted to 6.5 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 8.5 per cent with immediate effect, a press release from the central bank said in its Mid-Quarter Monetary Policy Review: March 2013.
 
The RBI left unchanged the cash reserve ratio (CRR) for scheduled banks at the February 9 level of 4.0 per cent.
 
A press release from RBI said the decision was taken on the basis of an assessment of the current macro-economic situation but pointed to growth risks and made it clear that the headroom for further monetary easing remained quite limited.
 
The RBI said that, since its Third Quarter Review (TQR) of January 2013, global financial market conditions had improved, but global economic activity had weakened. On the domestic front too, growth has decelerated significantly, even as inflation remains at a level which is not conducive for sustained economic growth, it said.
 
"Although there has been notable softening of non-food manufactured products inflation, food inflation remains high, driving a wedge between wholesale price and consumer price inflation, and is exacerbating the challenge for monetary management in anchoring inflationary expectations," it said.
 
It noted that India’s GDP growth in Q3 of 2012-13, at 4.5 per cent,  was the weakest in the last 15 quarters. 
 
"What is worrisome is that the services sector growth, hitherto the mainstay of overall growth, has also decelerated to its slowest pace in a decade. While overall industrial production growth turned positive in January, capital goods production and mining activity continued to contract. The composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) declined in February, largely reflecting slower expansion in services. In the agriculture sector, the second advance estimates of kharif production indicate a decline in relation to the level last year. However, that may be offset, at least partly, by the rabi output for which sowing has been satisfactory," it said.
 
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The release said the year-on-year headline wholesale price index (WPI) inflation edged up to 6.8 per cent in February 2013 from 6.6 per cent in January, essentially reflecting the upward revisions effected to administered prices of petroleum products. 
 
"On the other hand, non-food manufactured products inflation, and its momentum, continued to ebb along the trajectory that began in September 2012, enabled by softening prices of metals, textiles and rubber products. Worryingly, retail inflation continued on the upward path that set in from October 2012, with the new combined (rural and urban) CPI (Base: 2010=100) inflation at a high of 10.9 per cent in February 2013 on sustained price pressures from food items, especially cereals and proteins. Consequently, the divergence between wholesale and consumer price inflation continued to widen during the year," it said.
 
The release said money supply (M3) and bank credit growth had broadly moved in alignment with their revised indicative trajectories. 
 
"With government cash balances with the Reserve Bank persisting at a higher than normal level, the liquidity deficit, as reflected by the net drawals by banks under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF), has remained above the indicative comfort zone. The reduction in the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of banks by 25 basis points, effective from February 9 and open market purchases of Rs 200 billion since February have enabled money market rates to  remain anchored to the policy repo rate. The Reserve Bank will continue to actively manage liquidity through various instruments, including open market operations (OMO), so as to ensure adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy," it said.
 
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The RBI noted that the Union Budget for 2013-14 had made a firm commitment to fiscal consolidation. According to the revised budget estimates for 2012-13, the gross fiscal deficit (GFD)-GDP ratio, at 5.2 per cent, was contained around its budgeted level, mainly by scaling down plan and capital expenditures. The GFD-GDP ratio is programmed to decline to 4.8 per cent in 2013-14 and further down to 3.0 per cent by 2016-17, in line with the revised road map for fiscal consolidation, it said.
 
"With merchandise exports recording positive growth for the second successive month in February and non-oil imports contracting, the trade deficit narrowed significantly. For April-February 2012-13, however, the trade deficit was higher than its level a year ago with adverse implications for the current account deficit (CAD), already at a record high. Although capital inflows, mainly in the form of portfolio investment and debt flows, provided adequate financing, the growing vulnerability of the external sector to abrupt shifts in sentiment remains a key concern," it said.
 
The RBI said there were several risks to the global outlook. The impact of sequestration in the US on the global economy is likely to be muted in view of legislation initiated to avert the debt ceiling. Nevertheless, lead indicators point to sluggish global growth. Political economy risks that block or delay credible and determined policy actions in advanced economies (AEs) are inhibiting recovery. For EDEs, risks of spillovers from AEs remain significant. While global inflationary pressures are likely to be subdued, given still large output gaps, several EDEs could potentially face the threat of elevated energy prices, it said.
 
'On the domestic front, the key macroeconomic priorities are to raise the growth rate, restrain inflation pressures and mitigate the vulnerability of the external sector," they said.
 
"These are briefly addressed in the following paragraphs.
 
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"The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has projected GDP growth for 2012-13 of 5.0 per cent, lower than the Reserve Bank’s baseline projection of 5.5 per cent set out in the TQR, reflecting slower than expected growth in both industry and services. Key to reinvigorating growth is accelerating investment. The government has a critical role to play in this regard by remaining committed to fiscal consolidation, easing the supply bottlenecks and improving governance surrounding project implementation.
 
"On the inflation front, some softening of global commodity prices and lower pricing power of corporates domestically is moderating non-food manufactured products inflation. However, the unrelenting rise in food inflation is keeping headline wholesale price inflation above the threshold level and consumer price inflation in double digits. Also, there is still some suppressed inflation related to administered prices which carries latent inflationary pressures. All this complicates the task of inflation management and underscores the imperative of addressing supply constraints. From an inflation perspective, upward revisions in the minimum support prices (MSP) should warrant caution in view of their implications for overall inflation.
 
"On the external sector front, the key challenge is to reduce the CAD, which is well above the sustainable threshold.  This adjustment, requiring as it does, measures to improve the competitiveness of exports and wean away demand for unproductive imports, will inevitably take time. Meanwhile, financing of the CAD with stable flows remains a challenge.
 
"The foremost challenge for returning the economy to a high growth trajectory is to revive investment. A competitive interest rate is necessary for this, but not sufficient. Sufficiency conditions include bridging the supply constraints, staying the course on fiscal consolidation, both in terms of quantity and quality, and improving governance," it said.
 
In its guidance, the RBI said that, notwithstanding moderation in non-food manufactured products inflation, headline inflation is expected to be range-bound around current levels over 2013-14 in view of sectoral demand-supply imbalances, the ongoing corrections in administered prices and their second-round effects.
 
In addition, elevated food prices, including pressures stemming from minimum support price (MSP) increases, and the wedge between wholesale and retail inflation have adverse implications for inflation expectations, it said.
 
Risks on account of the current account deficit (CAD) remain significant notwithstanding likely improvement in Q4 over an expected sharp deterioration in Q3 of 2012-13. 
 
"Accordingly, even as the policy stance emphasises addressing the growth risks, the headroom for further monetary easing remains quite limited," the release added.
 
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RBI initiates scrutiny of three banks for alleged violations of KYC, AML guidelines

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated the process of carrying out comprehensive scrutinies covering both Head Offices and branches of three private sector banks -- ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank after an investigative news website alleged last week that they were indulging in widespread money laundering practices.

Apart from this, the Reserve Bank has also undertaken a thematic study in respect of banks that are active in selling gold coins and wealth management products to examine whether there are systemic issues and to plug deficiencies and legal loop-holes, if any.   
 
A press release from RBI said here yesterday that the scrutinies had been initiated after the website, Cobrapost, on the basis of sting operations across several branches of the three banks, alleged money laundering and violation of various provisions of the Reserve Bank of India Regulations, Foreign Exchange Management Act guidelines, Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and s on.
 
The website had posted some videos on the internet relating to these banks as well as ICICI Prudential Life Insurance and HDFC Life Insurance, it said.
 
"The final reports on all the three banks will be completed by March 31, 2013 and thereafter further course of action as necessary will be initiated," it added.
 
Following the revelations by Cobrpost, headed by investigative journalist Aniruddha Bahal, ICICI Bank said on March 16 that an inquiry conducted by it had shown that no actual transactions had taken place in respect of the specific instances reported.
 
The bank has appointed Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Private Limited, a leading accounting and audit firm, to conduct a full, independent forensic enquiry into the reported statements and arrive at its findings in a time-bound manner and report to the bank's Audit Committee. 
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The Bank has suspended 18 employees pending the completion of enquiry, in line with its commitment to high standards of governance and ensuring an independent inquiry, the release said.
 
"A review of the relevant systems and processes is being undertaken. An audit of some of the branches and the corresponding back-end processes is also being undertaken," it said.
 
ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company has also already taken similar steps to investigate the matter thoroughly, the release added.
 
On the same day, HDFC Bank had also announced that it had appointed Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt Ltd to carry out an independent forensic inquiry into the charges.
 
A statement from the bank said the inquiry would go into the allegations and reported statements, as made by representatives of the website when secretly taping its officials.
 
Cobrapost had alleged that its undercover investigation over the past several months had unearthed a "vast, nationwide money laundering racket" by the three lenders, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank.
 
Mr Bahal said the operation had produced hundreds of hours of video recordings from scores of branches of the three banks across the country.
 
The release said this "brazen criminal activity" was channelizing vast amounts of black money into the regular banking system as laundered white money.
 
The release said these money laundering practices were part of a standard set of procedures within these banks and being openly offered to even walk-in customers who wish to launder illicit money.
 
"These money laundering services are being offered practically as a standard product across the country," it said.
 
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"It is also clear from our investigations that these banks have been indulging in these criminal practices for several years and have well-oiled processes for the same," it said.
 
Cobrapost said its associate editor Syed Masroor Hasan, using the alias of Rajeev Sharma, had visited dozens and dozens of branches across the country, pretending to be working for a fictitious politician who wanted to launder a huge sum of black money.
 
"Nowhere was he disappointed. Nowhere was he turned away. Almost every banker that he
came across was willing to help launder the black money of the fictitious politician Masroor was supposedly working for. The discussions on how to launder the money went up the management hierarchy," the release said.
 
Apart from the inquiry by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, HDFC Bank also appointed Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co to examine the breaches, if any of its Code of Conduct & Ethical Standards, by any bank officials, in association with the bank’s internal departmental inquiries, commenced to verify the truth or untruth or correctness in the reported tapings of bank officials.
 
The bank said it had also decided to carry out special audit of some of its branches, where the reported videotaping was done.
 
"This process has been initiated without prejudice to the authentication of the video recordings or electronic data. 
 
"The bank is also proceeding to detail out the internal checks & balances and procedural 
safeguards already in place to report on the robustness of the compliance of regulatory guidelines and internal procedures, which would prevent, trap or enable pre-fact or post-fact discovery of violation of KYC (Know Your Customer) norms and of money laundering activity. 
 
"The bank is also detailing the efficacy of induction and ongoing training provided for ingraining ethical behaviour and conduct rules, as preventive and protective measures.
 
"The internal and external audits and inspections undertaken previously, and the action taken reports in this regard are being compiled and reviewed once again, to enable the bank to reiterate that the internal checks and balances and processes for ensuring compliance with KYC norms and for prevention and detection of, and protection against money laundering activity are robust and adequate," the statement added.
 
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Essar Energy appoints Deepak Maheshwari as Chief Financial Officer

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Essar Energy today announced the appointment of Mr Deepak Maheshwari as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), succeeding Mr P Sampath, who will move to a new role as the President of Business Optimization and Improvement of the company.

Both appointments are effective from April 1, 2013 and will be based in Mumbai, a press release from the company, a part of the Essar Group, said.

Mr Maheshwari most recently served as the CFO of Reliance Power Limited and has over 19 years of experience in project and corporate finance, investment banking and treasury management. He had joined the Reliance Group in 2004. Prior to that, he was Director Corporate Finance with ANZ Investment Bank in London and ICICI Securities in India. 
 
Mr Maheshwari has a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from the Sardar Patel College of Engineering, Mumbai and MBAs from XLRI, Jamshedpur and the London Business School. 
 
In his new assignment, he will report to Mr. Naresh Nayyar, Chief Executive Officer of Essar Energy, the release said.
 
Mr Sampath has held the position of CFO of the company since September 2010 and before that was CFO and Director Finance of Essar Oil Limited from August 2008. He has also previously held a number of senior finance roles including Group CFO for RPG Enterprises Limited and Managing Director of GHCL Limited. 
 
Mr Sampath has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Madras University, is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Cost Works Accountants of India and is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. He will continue to report to Mr. Nayyar.
 
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Keek: Unleashing the power of social video

Image courtesy: Keek.com
Image courtesy: Keek.com

What is it with social networking? A couple of new such sites are hatched every day. In an earlier column, I had written about this social networking application called Pheed, which apparently was making waves even before launch.

Now there’s another one called Keek. This one has positioned itself as a mobile-based social video network, and apparently, if reports by some online portals and even the company behind this new app are to be believed, Keek is going great guns.
 
Keek is a privately held social networking platform that allows users to create 36-second videos called Keeks, using either a webcam or the camera of your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry 10 device, and then share them with others around the world.
 
It seems to have hit the top of the charts in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, and its popularity seems to be growing in markets like the Middle East and Africa. The folks at Keek have claimed that 200,000 users are joining this network on a daily basis, while the platform is serving 83 million pages a day. 
 
The Keek app recently ranked first overall in five countries, top 10 overall in 15 countries and top 100 overall in more than 70 countries around the world. A significant number of the top users include Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Adam Lambert, Kylie Jenner, 2 Chainz, Khloe Kardashian and Victoria Justice.
 
In a recent press statement, Isaac Raichyk, Founder and CEO, said, "Keek is ranking number one for a reason. Users like that our app is extremely fast, fun and easy to use. We are obsessed with speed and our goal is to keep Keek fast, fun and free as we continue to grow."
 
If all this were true, then Keek may turn out to be a serious player on the social networking front. What is helping Keek is the fact that recent infrastructure growth and investments in cyber space has led to vast improvements on video upload speeds and playback. That’s why Keek users watch about 500 million videos a month. And as many as 4 million videos are being added to this every month. This new app, which is free to use, currently averages 200,000 videos shared to Twitter per day.
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Keek also has been steadily raising funds. Just a few days ago, it closed a $18 million round in new funding bringing the total investment to date to US $30 million. AGF Investments Inc., Pinetree Capital Ltd and Plazacorp Ventures led this current round with Cranson Capital also participating.
 
In the past few months there has been a spurt of apps such as Keek. Largely video-based.
There’s another similar app started by Twitter called Vine. When it was launched, Vine had become the talk of Internet town for it allowed users to shoot, upload and share videos of 6 seconds duration or less.
 
The other point not to be missed in all this is the fact that most of the newbie social networks are all smartphone based, unlike Facebook or others of its ilk that were born in the desktop computing era and by and large still exist there (though FB has realised the importance of mobile devices and has fast adapted).
 
Google comes to the aid of hacked websites
 
If you are the owner of a website or a webmaster, you must read this. Hacking is a real possibility in the world you live in. The injection of malicious code into a site is something that all of us wish never happens to us but when it does, leaves you numb, let alone the fact that you need to re-work on your website sometimes from scratch. It’s one of the most heinous online crimes.
 
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But now there’s hope. Google Inc. has decided to reach out to webmasters of such “hacked” sites. What is has done is to float a new web page for webmasters where all the tips and tricks to tackle hackers and hacking episodes are listed. There’s even an educational video on how to prevent your website from getting hacked, including precautions that need to be taken.
 
Essentially, the site tells webmasters how to recover hacked sites. Among the various steps listed, it tells you how a hacked site needs to be quarantined, set up an action team, initiate remedial measures, and then bring the site back online. 
 
Against each step, it has listed the level of technical expertise required – from beginner to expert.
 
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Previous columns by Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla is a journalist with near three decades of experience and has worked in well-known Indian and international print and television media organizations such as The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, United News of India (UNI), The Gulf Today and India TV. He has founded a Knowledge Services firm called New Age Content Services LLP, that leverages on the inherent strengths of the digital world. He also edits the website, www.whatsnewonthenet.com.
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Mukesh Ambani to join Bank of America Global Advisory Council

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Bank of America Corporation has announced that Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani will join the Bank of America Global Advisory Council in May this year.

In a statement, the bank said Mr Ambani had decided not to seek another term on the company’s board of directors at its 2013 annual meeting of stockholders. He is the first non-American to serve on Bank of America's board of directors.
 
The statement said Mr Ambani would join 13 other internationally recognized business, academic and public policy leaders who serve on the Global Advisory Council. The council, chaired by Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan, is a non-fiduciary body that shares expertise and insights on the bank’s global engagement.
 
"We are very grateful for Mukesh’s contributions to the board and for the global expertise and perspective he provided,” said Mr Chad Holliday, chairman of the Bank of America board of directors.
 
Mr Ambani has served on the Bank of America board of directors since March 2011 and became a director prior to the establishment of the Global Advisory Council.
 
“Our Global Advisory Council is an ideal venue for the company to continue to benefit from Mukesh’s judgment and insights,” Mr Moynihan added.
 
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HDFC asks Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to inquire into money laundering allegations

Two days after a sting operation by an investigative news website alleged that several branches and officials of three of India's top private sector lenders were indulging in widespread money laundering practices, one of them, HDFC Bank, today said it had appointed accounting and auditing firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt Ltd to carry out an independent forensic inquiry into the charges.

A statement from the bank said the inquiry would go into the allegations and reported statements, as made by representatives of the website, Cobrapost, when secretly taping its officials.
 
The Cobrapost had alleged that its undercover investigation over the past several months had unearthed a "vast, nationwide money laundering racket" by the three lenders, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank.
 
Well-known investigative journalist Aniruddha Bahal, who heads Cobrapost, said the operation had produced hundreds of hours of video recordings from scores of branches of the three banks across the country.
 
The release said this "brazen criminal activity" was channelizing vast amounts of black money into the regular banking system as laundered white money.
 
The release said these money laundering practices were part of a standard set of procedures within these banks and being openly offered to even walk-in customers who wish to launder illicit money.
 
"These money laundering services are being offered practically as a standard product across the country," it said.
 
"It is also clear from our investigations that these banks have been indulging in these criminal practices for several years and have well-oiled processes for the same," it said.
 
Cobrapost said its associate editor Syed Masroor Hasan, using the alias of Rajeev Sharma, had visited dozens and dozens of branches across the country, pretending to be working for a fictitious politician who wanted to launder a huge sum of black money.
 
"Nowhere was he disappointed. Nowhere was he turned away. Almost every banker that he
came across was willing to help launder the black money of the fictitious politician Masroor was supposedly working for. The discussions on how to launder the money went up the management hierarchy," the release said.
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In its statement today, HDFC Bank said it was committed to the highest standards of compliance, corporate governance and ethics, and has in place systems and procedures to ensure that its business is conducted in compliance with laws and regulations. 
 
Apart from the inquiry by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, the bank also appointed Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co to examine the breaches, if any of its Code of Conduct & Ethical Standards, by any bank officials, in association with the bank’s internal departmental inquiries, commenced to verify the truth or untruth or correctness in the reported tapings of bank officials.
 
The bank said it had also decided to carry out special audit of some of its branches, where the reported videotaping was done.
 
"This process has been initiated without prejudice to the authentication of the video recordings or electronic data. 
 
"The bank is also proceeding to detail out the internal checks & balances and procedural 
safeguards already in place to report on the robustness of the compliance of regulatory guidelines and internal procedures, which would prevent, trap or enable pre-fact or post-fact discovery of violation of KYC (Know Your Customer) norms and of money laundering activity. 
 
"The bank is also detailing the efficacy of induction and ongoing training provided for ingraining ethical behaviour and conduct rules, as preventive and protective measures.
 
"The internal and external audits and inspections undertaken previously, and the action taken reports in this regard are being compiled and reviewed once again, to enable the bank to reiterate that the internal checks and balances and processes for ensuring compliance with KYC norms and for prevention and detection of, and protection against money laundering activity are robust and adequate," the statement added.
 
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India's forex reserves dip by $223.9 million to $290.35 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves declined by $ 223.9 million to $ 290.35 billion during the week ended March 8 from $ 290.57 billion in the previous week,  the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said.

Foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, declined by $ 225.5 milion to $ 257.382 billion, the central bank said in its weekly statistical supplement.
 
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, it said.
 
Gold reserves remained at the previous week’s level of $ 26.392 billion, it said. The special drawing rights declined by $ 1.1 million to $ 4.352 billion, while the country’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went up slightly by 0.5 million to $ 2.323 billion, the bulletin added.
 
Overall, the country’s foreign exchange reserves have decreased by $ 513.3 million since the end of March 2012, the bulletin added.
 
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CBI arrests Central Excise superintendent in bribery case in Thane

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had arrested a superintendent working in the Office of Commissioner of Central Excise, Thane-II, Mumbai, for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs. 45,000 from a businessman.

A press release from the agency said a case was registered against the superintendent and an inspector, both working in the same office, after the businessman filed a complaint alleging that the official had demanded a bribe of Rs 50,000 to withdraw a notice issued to him for clarifying the duty on goods purchased by him.
 
The CBI laid a trap and the superintendent was arrested while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 45,000 from the businessman, it said.
 
The release said searches were conducted at the official and residential premises of the accused and cash worth Rs 19 lakh and a bank balance of Rs 42 lakh were recovered from them.
 
The inspector of Central Excise is on the run and has not associated himself in the investigation, the release said.
 
The arrested accused was produced today before the Special Court, Mumbai and remanded to CBI custody upto March 18, the release added.
 
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Kotak Mahindra announces first close of infra fund, with commitments of $ 90 million

The Kotak Mahindra group today announced a first close of its infrastructure private equity fund, raising commitments of approximately $ 90 million (Rs 490 crore).

In addition to Kotak, commitments have been received from the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Japan (SMBC), an affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management, Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) and a leading insurance group, a press release from the company said.
 
The fund, Core Infrastructure India Fund Pte Limited, will invest in companies engaged in power generation and transmission, transportation (roads, ports, airports), water treatment & supply, waste management, gas transmission, distribution & storage and so on in India. 
 
Kotak Mahindra (UK) Limited, Singapore branch is the investment manager of the fund, the release said.
 
SMBC, the core financial institution of Japan’s second largest financial services group in terms of market capitalization, with a significant presence in infrastructure project finance globally, and Brookfield, a global alternative asset manager with over $175 billion in assets under management and over a 100-year history of owning and operating assets with a focus on property, renewable power, infrastructure and private equity, have participated in the fund as Cornerstone Investors. 
 
Additionally, JBIC, the policy financing financial institution of the Government of Japan, with a track record of financing infrastructure globally, has committed to the fund, and this investment marks its first ever direct commitment to a fund dedicated to financing only Indian infrastructure. 
 
In the first close, Kotak, SMBC and Brookfield have committed in excess of $ 50 million (Rs. 275 crore). Further, they have nominated experienced professionals to the investment team and to the investment committee.
 
Mr. C Jayaram, Joint Managing Director, Kotak Mahindra Bank said, “This is an important milestone for the Kotak Mahindra group as we are now in a position to address a significant market opportunity as well as add a key platform to our existing alternate assets business. We have marquee institutions like SMBC and Brookfield investing along with us in the fund and they will contribute their immense experience and knowledge in infrastructure. We are also privileged to receive commitments from a leading insurance group and from JBIC, both of who are prestigious investors."
 
"We are very proud that most of our investors have elected to invest in a fund meant only for Indian infrastructure for the first time ever, and have chosen to partner with Kotak in doing so, and we expect to benefit from their guidance and insight," he added.
 
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Indian logistics market sees subdued demand levels in H2 of 2012: CBRE

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The logistics market in India witnessed restrained demand in the second half (H2) of 2012 on the back of continuing global and domestic uncertainty in the economy, according to CBRE's "India Logistics Market View Report".

Compared to the previous review period, transaction closures were limited in the second half of 2012, the report said.
 
However, the general sentiment across the sector continues to be positive. Going forward, as the economic sentiment improves and occupiers begin expanding their footprint across the country, demand levels (and consequently absorption) are expected to rise gradually across most leading logistics and warehousing hubs of the country, it said.
 
The report said that, during the review period most of the leading logistics markets continued to observe strong occupier preference for Built-to-Suit (BTS) facilities. Additionally,  contribution by foreign investors through mergers and acquisitions and private equity funds is expected to enhance the growth of this sector in the near future.
 
“The prevailing economic uncertainty in the global and Indian economy continues to affect all sectors, including the Logistics Market in India. On the other hand the Government of India continues to give impetus to this important sector by implementing various reforms. This coupled with an expected revival in the economy will help the sector in the long run," Mr. Anshuman Magazine, Chairman and Managing Director of CBRE, South Asia Pvt. Ltd said.
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The report said private players are increasingly looking at developing warehousing spaces across the country. Regions such as Gurgaon, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata are witnessing launch of large scale supply in the warehousing and logistics space, which is expected to provide numerous expansion options to occupiers in the coming two to three years. 
 
While demand levels were restrained, rentals did witness an increase across some cities during the review period.
 
Panvel (Mumbai) witnessed a sharp increase in rental values by 13-14%, compared to the first half of 2012. Values appreciated by 5-7% in North Chennai and in Kompally and Medchal in Hyderabad. Marginal rental increment of 2-3% was also witnessed in Western Chennai and NH-2 in Kolkata. Micro-markets that led rental correction included Gurgaon/NH-8 (NCR), Pimpri in Pune and NH-6 in Kolkata, the report said.
 
"Going forward, as the economic sentiment improves and occupiers begin expanding their footprint across the country, demand levels (and consequently absorption) are expected to rise gradually across most leading logistics and warehousing hubs of the country," the report added.
 
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Indiabulls Power Ltd. synchronizes Amravati power plant in Maharashtra

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Indiabulls Power, the flagship company of Indiabulls Group for power business, today announced the synchronization of the first unit (270 MW) of its 1350 MW Amravati Phase I Thermal Power Plant in Maharashtra with the Western Region grid. 

The power from the plant is proposed to be supplied to Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited against the Power Purchase Agreement inked for supply of power for twenty five years, a press release from the company said.
 
According to it, this marks the beginning of power generation from Indiabulls Power's plants. 
 
The company is constructing a total of 5400 MW comprising two 2700 MW coal-based thermal power projects, one at Nandgaonpeth in Amravati district and the second at Sinnar in Nashik district, both in Maharashtra.
 
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IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to visit India from March 11-15

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano will visit India from March 11-15.

During his visit, Mr Amano will hold talks with Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Secretary R K Sinha and other Indian officials in Mumbai and New Delhi, an official press release added.
 
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Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust to raise upto Rs 500 crore through tax-free bonds

A container terminal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai
A container terminal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai

The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Mumbai will open on March 11 its public issue of tax-free bonds in the nature of secured redeemable non-convertible debentures of face value of Rs 1000 each, with an option to retain oversubscription upto Rs 1500 crore such that the overall issue size does not exceed Rs 2000 crore in the fiscal year 2013.

The issue will close on March 15. The bonds are proposed to be listed on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), with NSE as the designated stock exchange for the issue, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said that, in terms of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) notification, the issuer may also issue tax free bonds in the nature of secured, redeemable, non-convertible debentures through private placement route for up to 25% of Rs. 2,000 crore, i.e. not exceeding Rs.500 crore. 
 
The issuer shall ensure that the funds raised through public issue route and/or private placement route shall together not exceed Rs. 2,000 crore. In case the issuer raises any such funds through private placement, the above aggregate of Rs. 2,000 crore shall be reduced to that extent, it said.
 
JNPT runs the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai, providing various services and facilities pertaining to the handling of diverse types of cargo, including container, dry bulk, break bulk cargo and liquid bulk cargo.
 
The issue has been rated “CRISIL AAA/Stable” by CRISIL, "BWR AAA" by Brickwork. Instruments with such ratings are considered to have the highest degree of safety regarding timely servicing of financial obligations. Such instruments carry lowest credit risk, the release said.
 
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Kotak Mahindra Capital Company Limited, ICICI Securities Limited and SBI Capital Markets Limited are the Lead Managers to the issue which is open to Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs), Domestic Corporates, High Networth Individuals (HNIs) and Retail Individual Investors. 
 
The bonds, with a tenure of 10 years,  will carry a fixed interest of 6.82% per annum. Additional interest rate of 0.50% i.e. 7.32% per annum shall be paid to original allottees in retail individual investors category, it said
 
The net issue proceeds raised through this issue are proposed to be utilised primarily for the purpose of dredging works for deepening and widening of the Mumbai harbour channel and JN Port’s navigational channel and capital expenditure for other projects in relation to the port operations. The total estimated cost of the dredging project is Rs. 1,571.60 crore and the estimated period for completion of this project is 25 months.
 
JNPT has initiated capital dredging at the JN Port in order to enable handling of vessels up to draught of 14 metres, using tidal windows. The capital dredging work has been awarded to Boskalis International BV and is expected to be completed by September 2014. 
 
In addition, JNPT is currently undertaking feasibility studies for deepening of navigational channel further, for accommodating 17 metres draught vessels, using tidal window.
 
JN Port also provides other value-added port services like container freight stations and facilitation of rail handling. In fiscal year 2012, JN Port handled 55.60% of the total container cargo traffic handled by all major ports in India (in terms of TEUs), thus making it the leading port in the country for handling of container cargo in that period. 
 
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JN Port is open for operations throughout the year. It is situated on the eastern end of the Mumbai harbour in Nhava Sheva, Maharashtra, and shares a common harbour channel with the Mumbai Port up to Jawahar Dweep Channel.
 
JNPT commenced its operations in 1989. Subsequently, in July 1997, JNPT entered into a license agreement with Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal Limited for developing a container cargo handling terminal.
 
Thereafter, in August 1999, JNPT entered into a license agreement with Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited for development of a twin berth liquid bulk cargo handling terminal.
 
In August 2004, JNPT entered into a license agreement with Gateway Terminals India Private Limited for redevelopment of its existing bulk terminal into a container terminal.
 
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Indiabulls Financial Services merges with its home loan arm

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Indiabulls today announced the reverse merger of Indiabulls Financial Services Limited (IBFSL) with Indiabulls Housing Finance Limited (IHFL), its home loan arm.

IHFL is registered as a housing finance company (HFC) and is regulated by the National Housing Bank (NHB).
 
The share swap ratio among the stake holders in the two companies has been fixed at 1:1, a press release from the company said.
 
“The Union Finance Minister’s budgetary proposal to allow additional tax deductions for first- time home buyers has given a new impetus to the real estate sector and we see this as a great opportunity for home loan companies to contribute to the nation’s growth," Mr Gagan Banga, CEO of IHFL said.
 
The release said the amalgamation would enable efficient utilization of the company’s capital, consolidating it into the HFC where most of the incremental mortgages business was being booked. This amalgamation underlines the company’s long term commitment to the mortgage finance business, it said.
 
Going forward IHFL will be planning to offer a wider range of innovative products on housing finance, especially for the affordable segment below Rs 25 lakhs, it said.
 
For the nine months ending December 31, 2012, the company’s assets under management (AUM) stood at Rs. 32,551 crore, up from Rs. 27,521 crore as on March 31 2012. For the same period, the company clocked a profit after taxes of Rs. 898 crore. The PAT for the entire FY 2012 was Rs. 1,006 crore, the release added.
 
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Two startups that complement your use of Twitter, Facebook

Image courtesy: Timerabbit
Image courtesy: Timerabbit

Two startups caught my eye this week, one of them from India, and both revolving around well-known social media sites. 

From experience I can tell you that India lags behind where the startups eco-system is concerned compared to the rest of the world. So I make it a point to talk of an India-located startup as and when a new one pops up.
 
This one’s called Tweriod and it’s just come online. Tweriod (pronounced as Twe – roid…..a service that improves the performance and effectiveness of your twitter posts) is a social networking tool that is a Twitter enhancer. Enhancers are tools or services that help boost your online performance.
 
This one promises of pumping up your act where micro-blog Twitter is concerned. It takes charge of your Twitter account completely, scrutinises the past, looks at the tweets posted by your followers, and then comes up with a detailed plan that tells you when’s the right time for you to tweet for maximum leverage.
 
That’s the basic nut and bolts stuff. The way you use Tweriod is also very simple. But before I go any further, let me just tell you that this startup is in no way connected to Twitter.
 
There are two versions of Tweriod, of course, the free and the premium. You simply go on the Tweriod website and sign in with your Twitter account, and then give Tweriod permission to analyse your account. The tool then tracks down all the followers from your Twitter account. Depending on which version you have subscribed to, it will go down to 1000 followers (free) and 5000 followers (paid), track their last 200 tweets, your very own past 200 tweets, as well as gather information on all the people that you are following on Twitter.
 
Image courtesy: Tweriod
Image courtesy: Tweriod
Based on all this information, it then analyses the best time slots for you to tweet. The data gathered from your account is put up in analytical charts indicating the best times when your followers are most active. This means whatever you tweet in these hours is bound to get you maximum response from your Twitter fans.
 
The information is very systematic and it even has facts such as those followers who are active on which weekdays and the ones who are more responsive on the weekends.
 
The report that Tweriod draw up for you is sent to you either as a direct message in your Twitter account or to your email, complete with graph and all. The duration of receiving the reports ideally depends on the number of followers you have on Twitter.
 
Now, you will ask me, how does all this help? Well, because of all the content explosion around us, it is highly probable that whatever you post or tweet sinks without a trace, or without provoking a murmur. For the average Joe, a tool like Tweriod helps in getting whatever it is he or she has to say, to the largest number of followers or fans, and thus evoke a response or initiate a debate.
 
For the online marketer, this kind of tool can be of immense help because he can them time his marketing related tweets to the time when his target audience is on Twitter. Tweriod can be a highly effective communication tool, I feel. Plus, the basic version is free, so no sweat off your back to try it out, right?
 
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The other startup that I am going to talk of now, too, revolves around a well-known social media site –Facebook. Called TimeRabbit, the app has been developed by software company Breakpoint Software Development Inc.
 
TimeRabbit is not a tool. It is a standalone browser-based application, meaning it can be used in any browser from Firefox to Windows Internet Explorer. Now, the thing you can do with TimeRabbit is to monitor how much time you spend daily on your Facebook account. That’s right. Like I told someone in jest once, this is an ideal app for Facebook junkies, those of you out there who cannot do without their daily ‘fix’ of this social site.
 
As soon as you log into your FB account, TimeRabbit starts your Time counter. Since it is located in your browser, you do not have to do anything special. It tallies seconds, minutes & hours as long as you are on FB. It pauses the counter once it notices that you are idle. How? Whenever you stop moving your computer mouse or stop using your keyboard for over 30 seconds, the counter stops running. And after you have logged out from your account, the timer stops five seconds later. TimeRabbit gives you a breakdown of your statistics (weekly, monthly as well as lifetime) of your time spent on FB. Howzzat?
 
Previous columns by Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla is a journalist with near three decades of experience and has worked in well-known Indian and international print and television media organizations such as The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, United News of India (UNI), The Gulf Today and India TV. He has founded a Knowledge Services firm called New Age Content Services LLP, that leverages on the inherent strengths of the digital world. He also edits the website, www.whatsnewonthenet.com.
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Commissioner of Customs, agent arrested in bribery case in Mumbai

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had arrested a Commissioner of Customs posted Jawaharlal Nehru Customs House, Nhavasheva in Mumbai and a Customs House agent for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 19 lakhs from a Rajkot-based businessman.

A press release from the CBI said it had received a complaint from the businessman alleging that the official and the agent had demanded the bribe from him for releasing his container. Later, the official told the businessman to hand over the money to the agent.
 
The CBI laid a trap and allegedly caught the agent red-handed while demanding and accepting the bribe on behalf of the official. The commissioner was also arrested, the release said.
 
According to it, searches were conducted at the residential and official premises of both accused. During searches of residential premises of the public servant, documents pertaining to investments made in real estate and flats in Mumbai as well as in Patna were recovered, it said.
 
Both the accused persons were produced today before the Special Court of CBI, Mumbai and remanded to judicial custody upto March 21, the release added.
 
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IPL: Mumbai Indians commences online ticket sales

Mumbai Indians logo

Mumbai Indians, the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchisee owned by the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) group, today commenced the online ticket sales for the sixth edition of IPL 2013.

Fans can book Mumbai Indians home matches tickets on the team's website, a press release from the team said.
 
Mumbai Indians have made some additions in the team and support staff for this season, including Anil Kumble as chief Mentor, John Wright as head coach and Ricky Ponting as the captain.
 
Mumbai Indians play their first home match against Delhi Daredevils on April 9. 
 
The following is the Mumbai Indians' home match schedule:
 
Apr   9, 2013  Tuesday Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Daredevils 8:00 PM
Apr 13, 2013  Saturday Mumbai Indians vs Pune Warriors India 4:00 PM
Apr 27, 2013  Saturday Mumbai Indians vs Royal Challengers Bangalore 8:00 PM
Apr 29, 2013  Monday  Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab 8:00 PM
May  5, 2013  Sunday   Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings 4:00 PM 
May  7, 2013  Tuesday  Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders 8:00 PM
May 13, 2013 Monday Mumbai Indians vs Sunrisers Hyderabad 8:00 PM
May 15, 2013 Wednesday Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals 8:00 PM
 
Mumbai Indians is owned by IndiaWin Sports Pvt. Ltd, a group company of RIL.
 
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Sehwag dropped, no replacement named in team for 3rd, 4th Tests

File photo of Virender Sehwag
File photo of Virender Sehwag

Opener Virender Sehwag, who has been struggling to get among the runs, was today dropped from the Indian team for the final two Tests of the four-match series against Australia.

The senior selection committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which met here today, did not name any replacement for Sehwag, retaining the rest of the team that played the first two Tests at Chennai and Hyderabad, both of which India won.
 
This means that either Shikhar Dhawan or Ajinkya Rahane will open the innings with Murali Vijay, who scored a superb century at Hyderabad.
 
Sehwag, 34, last scored a century against England in Ahmedabad last year and since then has managed scores of just 25, 30, 9, 23, 49, 0, 2, 19 and 6 -- the last three against Australia in the current series.
 
The selectors are obviously trying to settle on a reliable opening pair ahead of the crucial tour of South Africa later this year. Sehwag's famed partner Gautam Gambhir has already been dropped from the side because of poor form.
 
India's openers, Vijay and Sehwag, could put on only 11, 16 and 17 runs for the first wicket in the three innings against Australia so far, though Vijay did strike a century in the last Test at Hyderabad. Sehwag, on the other hand, has made only 27 in his three outings against Austrlia in this series.
 
The swashbuckling right-hander made 253 runs in seven innings during the home series against England last year, which included 117 in Ahmedabad. In the two home Tests against New Zealand, he failed to come up with even a half-century. On India's last foreign tour to Australia, he made a total of 198 runs in eight innings.
 
The following is the team:
 
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain, wicket-keeper), Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Dinda, Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma
 
The third Test will be played at Mohali from March 14-18 and the fourth Test in Delhi from March 22 to 26.
 
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