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SBI extends Rs. 2,317 crore for 575 MW of rooftop solar power projects

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State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest commercial bank, said here yesterday that it had sanctioned credit facilities amounting to Rs. 2317 crore with aggregate capacity of 575 MW to corporates towards financing Grid Connected Rooftop Solar projects under the SBI - World Bank (WB) Programme. 
 
In the conference organised by SBI on Grid Connected Rooftop Solar projects for large corporates of the bank, the sanction letters were handed over to JSW Energy, Hinduja Renewables, Tata Renewable Energy, Adani Group, Azure Power, Cleantech Solar and Hero Solar Energy by Mr. Rajnish Kumar, Chairman SBI in the presence of top management of SBI and officials from the World Bank.
 
SBI has availed a line of credit of $ 625 million from World Bank for  on-lending to viable Grid Connected Rooftop Solar projects undertaken by  PV developers/aggregators and end-users, for installation of rooftop solar systems on the rooftops of commercial, institutional and industrial buildings, a press release from the bank said.
 
"Implementation of the program by SBI will support the installation of around 800 MW of rooftop solar capacity.  With the World Bank funded capacity development program, SBI is making efforts to expand and incentivize the market for rooftop solar power by way low cost financing.  Financing is being provided to those with sound technical capacity, relevant experience, and creditworthiness, meeting SBI standards," the release said.
 
SBI has so far sanctioned 43 projects with aggregate credit facilities of Rs. 2766 crore under the programme. This would add 695 MW of solar rooftop capacity to the grid, and is a significant step towards meeting the Government of India’s target of 40 GW of solar rooftop installations, it said.
 
"With this program, SBI aims to contribute to the development of the burgeoning rooftop solar market in the country which until now was being held back by lack of targeted financing," the release said.
 
On the occasion, Dr. Nikit Abhyankar from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA made a presentation on the global prospects of renewable energy including rooftop solar to increase awareness amongst large corporates about the business potential of renewable energy and opportunities available in the market.
 
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Jet Airways flight diverted to Ahmedabad after "onboard security threat"

 
Jet Airways' Mumbai-Delhi flight diverted to Ahmedabad after security threat
A Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Delhi was diverted to Ahmedabad today after the detection of an "onboard security threat", the airline said.
 
"Our flight 9W 339 of October 30, 2017, a Boeing 737-900 from Mumbai to Delhi, diverted to Ahmedabad following declaration of an emergency as per established security procedures, due to the detection of an onboard security threat," a statement from Jet Airways said.
 
"The aircraft landed without incident at Ahmedabad and was parked at a remote bay, where all 115 guests and 7 crew members were safely deplaned," it said.
 
"We are extending full cooperation to the security agencies, who are investigating the matter and are not in a position to comment further at this stage," the statement said.
 
"We regret the inconvenience caused to our guests and are making efforts to bring them to Delhi at the earliest," it added.
 
Sources said a member of the cabin crew had found a note in a toilet of the aircraft containing a hijack threat and saying that there was a bomb in the cargo hold and that it should be flown to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).
 
Security personnel conducted a search  of the aircraft and checked all passengers and their baggage. Passengers were also questioned and photographed. The aircraft later took off for Delhi.
 
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Land Rover launches all-new Discovery in India

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Land Rover yesterday announced the launch of the 5th generation Discovery in India with prices starting from ? 71.38 lakh (ex-showroom). 
 
"Available in two powertrain options, the 3.0 l Diesel 190 kW & 3.0 l Petrol 250 kW, the all-new Discovery is Land Rover’s most versatile SUV yet, with class leading practicality and capability," the company said in a press release.
 
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Rohit Suri, President and Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover India Ltd. (JLRIL), said: “The all-new seven seat Discovery distinguishes itself from most of its competition on its design appeal, intelligent versatility, enabling technology and a host of capability related features. For example, apart from a class leading 900 mm wading depth capability to handle unexpected flood like situations or river crossings, the all-new Discovery is the only vehicle in its class to provide a full-size spare wheel, very important when it comes to those long distance holiday trips that most people like to take these days. In fact it is a perfect vehicle for people who love to explore and experience new places and terrains and enjoy an outdoor lifestyle with friends and family.”
 
Design features of the new Discovery include a strong dynamic stance, wrap-around LED lights and a fast windscreen angle.
 
"The spacious interior is highly modern in design, delivering space for up to seven adults. Strong vertical and horizontal design lines combined with high quality materials and clever attention to detail lend the Discovery a sense of purpose. The interior feels light and airy, further enhanced by the fixed or front opening panoramic sunroof," the release said.
 
"The stepped roofline, a trademark design feature for the previous four generations, can also be found on the All-New Discovery as well. With the stepped roofline, the Discovery offers headroom for adults across all the three rows of seating. The stadium seating accommodation, with each row positioned higher than the one in front ensures that every seat is the best seat in the house," it said.
 
"The world’s first Intelligent Seat Fold system enables configuring the seating arrangement from inside the vehicle, providing copious luggage space when required. Gesture Control allows opening of the main tailgate with the wave of the foot on either side of the vehicle. The dual-purpose powered Inner Tailgate retains loose items when raised and offers comfortable event seating that bears up to 300 kg when lowered. Inside, best-in-class storage solutions offer more capacity than ever before. Innovations include extra deep consoles that can store up to five mini-tablets and two-litre bottles in the arm rest storage with the chiller. There are also up to nine USB ports available, so all passengers can keep their devices charged.
 
"Another first for Land Rover is the Activity Key. It’s a durable, waterproof wristband that locks and unlocks the vehicle allowing outdoor activities without carrying keys. Auto Access height uses the vehicle’s air suspension to help elegant entrance and exit, seamlessly lowering it ready for one to get in or out," the release said.
 
"Park Assist makes parking easier than ever. While you control the speed, the vehicle steers itself through parallel and perpendicular parking manoeuvres and can also guide the vehicle out of the space.
 
"The Drive Pro Pack consists of Lane Keep Assist that can detect lane drift and gently steer the vehicle back into the lane while Driver Condition Monitor detects when the driver shows signs of drowsiness, giving an early warning when one needs to take a break. Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist monitors the traffic ahead adjusting speed automatically to maintain a suitable distance from the vehicle in front, resuming the pre-set speed when the road is clear, while Queue Assist keeps a suitable distance when queuing in traffic, bringing the vehicle to a halt when necessary," it said.
 
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"The surround camera system provides as 360° exterior view via the touchscreen providing greater confidence when manoeuvring the vehicle in confined situations," it said.
 
For the first time on the Discovery, Terrain Response 2 is available as an option (standard on the First Edition) that automatically selects driving modes to achieve the best possible chassis and powertrain setup for the conditions. Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control and Gradient Release Control are also on offe to enhance driver control in trying conditions.
 
According to the release, the SUV's permanent four-wheel drive comes with a choice of two intelligent systems; a single speed transfer box for optimal on-road conditions or a two-speed box for challenging conditions.
 
"The vehicle’s off-road geometry is class leading. A best-in-class approach angle (34°), ramp angle (27.5°) and departure angle (30°) enable negotiation of the toughest of obstacles. All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) which is a state-of-the-art system enhances control over challenging surfaces while launch Control enables smooth pull-away on surfaces like wet grass, ice and sand and maintains a constant speed between 1.8 km/h and 30 km/h," the release added.
 
The Land Rover range in India includes the Discovery Sport (starting at Rs. 42.00 lakh), Range Rover Evoque (starting at Rs. 44.44 Lakh), the All-New Discovery (starting at Rs. 71.38 Lakh), Range Rover Sport (starting at Rs. 93.82 Lakh) and Range Rover (starting at Rs. 166.42 lakh). All prices mentioned are ex-showroom prices in India. 
 
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India’s forex reserves fall by $ 375.8 million to $ 399.921 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $ 375.8 million to $ 399.921 billion during the week ended October 20, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had reversed a three-week downtrend and gone up by $ 1.502 billion to $ 400.297 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone down by $ 365.9 million to $ 374.908 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 $ 21.240 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) decreased by $ 4.0 million to $ 1.4996 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fell by $ 5.9 million to $ 2.2729 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 3551 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 3551 crore across various business segments.
 
A press release from the company said its Transportation Infrastructure & Water Effluent Treatment businesses had jointly bagged an order worth Rs.  1123 crore from a prestigious government client for design and construction of smart trunk infrastructure with roads, storm water drains, water supply network, sewerage network, utility ducts for power & ICT, reuse water line, pedestrian tracks, cycle track, avenue plantation, street furniture and associated works.
 
The company said its Transportation Infrastructure business had won an engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) order worth Rs. 777 crore from the Public Works Department, Delhi for the construction of Integrated Transit Corridor Development plan in and around Pragati Maidan.
 
The project scope includes construction of cut and cover tunnels, underpass, foot overbridge, loops, ramps, road work landscaping/horticulture works and other associated works.
 
The release said the company's Water & Effluent Treatment Business had  received EPC orders worth Rs.  572 crore.
 
It said an order had been secured from the Public Health Engineering Department of a major state government for providing Rural Water Supply and Fluorosis mitigation. The scope includes supply, laying and commissioning of distribution network, construction of clear water reservoirs and elevated storage reservoirs including house service connections.
 
Another order has been secured from the Municipal Corporation of a major city in central India for providing continuous (24x7) pressurised water supply scheme in Indore district. The scope includes supply, laying and commissioning of distribution network, construction of overhead tanks and replacement of an old distribution network including house service connections and monitoring systems.
 
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The release  said the company's Building & Factories Business had secured an order worth Rs. 866 crore from a prestigious government client for the design and construction of 22 towers (S+12 floors). The scope of works includes construction of structure, architectural finishes and MEP works on a fast track mode.
 
The company's Smart World & Communication Business has bagged an order worth Rs. 213 crore from Metro Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Limited for design, manufacture, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of telecommunication systems. The scope includes the following systems - Public Address System, Passenger Information Display, Master Clock, Centralized Data Recording, Tetra Radio Communication, Fibre Optic Transmission Network, CCTV surveillance and Access Control & Intrusion Detection Systems, the release added.
 
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GVK MIAL receives LOA for Navi Mumbai Airport project

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The GVK-led Mumbai International Airport (P) Ltd. (MIAL) was handed over the Letter of Award (LOA) today from CIDCO, the nodal agency of the Government of Maharashtra for the Navi Mumbai International Airport.
 
In February 2017, MIAL was declared the winning bidder for the greenfield airport that will be built on 1,160 hectares in a public private partnership (PPP) mode with CIDCO. 
 
MIAL will hold a 74 per cent stake in the project while the remaining 26 per cent will be with CIDCO, a press release from GVK said.
 
Dr G. V. K. Reddy, Executive Chairman, MIAL and founder Chairman of GVK said, “We are excited that GVK has been awarded this exciting project. In collaboration with CIDCO, the Government of Maharashtra and the Government of India, we are confident of providing yet another landmark airport for the city of Mumbai."
 
"The invaluable experience that our team gained whilst developing the Mumbai airport will be very useful and will enable us to deliver yet another world class facility. GVK is committed to develop its airport business globally and the award of the Navi Mumbai project to us is another major step in this direction," he added.
 
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HSBC appoints Jayant Rikhye as CEO India

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The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) today announced the appointment of Mr. Jayant Rikhye as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for HSBC India with effect from 1 December 2017, subject to regulatory approvals.
 
In his new role, Mr Rikhye will lead HSBC’s next phase of growth in the country, where he first joined the group in 1989, a press release from the bank said.
 
A HSBC Group General Manager, Mr Rikhye is currently Head of International, Asia-Pacific, responsible for 11 markets in the region. He is also Head of Strategy and Planning, Asia-Pacific.
 
Mr Rikhye succeeds Stuart Milne, who is also a Group General Manager, after five years in the role. Mr Milne will take a three month sabbatical from the beginning of January 2018 and his next role at HSBC will be announced in due course, the release said.
 
Mr. Peter Wong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, said: “Jayant brings with him a vast experience of leading international banking operations in Asia. I am confident he will be able to take the Bank’s India operations to the next level of development. I would like to thank Stuart for his significant contribution during his five years in India.”
 
During his career with HSBC, Mr Rikhye has worked in a number of countries and territories in a variety of functions, including Corporate Banking in Taiwan, Institutional Fund Services in Hong Kong and Head of Securities Services for the Middle East and North Africa, based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 
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India’s forex reserves rise by $. 1.502 billion to $ 400.297 billion

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Reversing a three-week downtrend, India's foreign  exchange reserves rose by $ 1.502 billion to $ 400.297 billion during the week ended October 13, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had dipped by $ 862.2 million to $ 398.794 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 1.478 billion to $ 375.274 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 $ 21.240 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) increased by $ 9.5 million to $ 1.503 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 14.3 million to $ 2.278 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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Ali Fazal, Shriya Pilgaonkar come together for a web series

Shriya Pilgaonkar
Shriya Pilgaonkar
Actress Shriya Pilgaonkar, who was appreciated for her Hindi film debut as  Shahrukh Khan's love interest in Fan and for her viral short film Jai Mata Di, is now going to be seen in a web show called Mirzapur produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani for a global online platform where she stars opposite Ali Fazal in the lead. 
 
Mirzapur is a gangster drama directed by the makers of Inside Edge and is currently being shot in Varanasi. The show also stars Pankaj Tripathi  and Vikrant Massey.
 
When asked, Shriya said "I am thrilled to be part of Mirzapur and to be working with Excel. We have already started shooting in Varanasi. The cast is fantastic and the character I play is completely different from what I have done before."
 
"Ali and I have been friends since college, so it's even more special that we are working together," she added.
 
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SBI Foundation commits Rs. 10 crore for conservation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai

A view of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus building in Mumbai. Photo: Central Railway website
A view of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus building in Mumbai. Photo: Central Railway website
SBI Foundation, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) subsidiary of State Bank of India, the country's largest bank, has sanctioned Rs. 10 crore for the conservation and restoration of Central Railway's iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus – a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- in Mumbai over the next three to five years.
 
Through this project, SBI aims to contribute to the development and preservation of world heritage structures in the country. 
 
The project would involve conservation and restoration of GM building heritage structure south and south  façade, conservation and restoration of  Old Annexe building façade, south façade side open space restoration of ground level, paving, landscape works and restoration of heritage compound wall, museum, and so on.
 
The restoration work of the heritage building, earlier known as Victoria Terminus (VT), will be done by INTACH, an expert agency, a press release from SBI added.
 
As part of Swachh Bharat Mission, the Government aims to make 100 iconic heritages, spiritual and cultural places in the country as model for ‘Swachchha Tourist Destinations’, the release added.
 
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Leslie Thng joins Vistara as chief executive officer

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Mr. Leslie Thng took over as the chief executive officer (CEO) of full-service carrier Vistara, a joint venture of Tata group and Singapore Airlines, here yesterday.
 
He has succeeded Mr. Phee Teik Yeoh, who has returned to Singapore Airlines to take up a senior appointment. 
 
"Mr Thng has taken over as the airline’s new CEO post all requisite approvals from the Government of India and regulatory authorities," a press release from Vistara said here yesterday.
 
Mr Thng has joined Vistara from Budget Aviation Holdings (BAH, a Singapore Airlines Holding Company) where he was serving as the chief commercial officer.
 
“I am delighted to be joining Vistara that has transformed air travel experience in India and cultivated a reputation of setting new standards in service excellence in the Indian aviation industry,” said Mr Thng. “I look forward to the opportunity to build on the strong foundation and momentum created by Phee Teik Yeoh, and work with the wonderful team of Vistara. I hope to get the support of all stakeholders, including the customers, to take Vistara through its next phase of growth and development,” he added.
 
Mr Thng, who started his career in SIA in 1999 and held many senior positions in the airline, has significant leadership experience and deep knowledge of the aviation sector across international markets and various businesses. Prior to being appointed chief commercial officer for Budget Aviation Holdings, he was chief executive of SilkAir. 
 
Mr Thng holds a bachelor’s degree (Honors) in Business Administration from the National University of Singapore.
 
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Voltas names Pradeep Bakshi as its next MD & CEO

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The Board of Directors of Voltas, the global air-conditioning and engineering services provider and a part of the Tata group, has announced that Mr. Pradeep Bakshi, executive director & chief operating officer, will succeed Mr. Sanjay Johri, MD and CEO, when the latter superannuates in February 2018.
 
Simultaneously, Mr. Anil George, executive director (finance and corporate affairs), will be elevated as deputy managing director, with increased responsibilities, a press release from the company said here today.
 
Mr. Noel Tata, chairman of the Board said that the company had achieved great success under Mr Johri, MD and CEO, since 2010. 
 
“We are market leaders in the room air conditioning business, with a market share of 22 percent. Our net profit jumped by 30 percent in FY2016-17, to reach Rs 511 crores, with ROCE at 21 percent. And the Voltas share price has grown by 340 percent in five years, from Rs 120 to Rs 530," he said.
 
“The appointments of Pradeep Bakshi and Anil George mark the culmination of a formal succession process at Voltas Limited, in which MD Sanjay Johri and the Board were engaged for two years to groom the leadership team of the company," he added.
 
Mr Johri said that he was proud of Voltas’s leadership team and confident about the company’s prospects. “Our flagship consumer arm will achieve rapid growth both in the existing room AC business, and also from the launch of refrigerators, washing machines and other consumer durables in Voltas’s JV with the Arcelik group of Turkey. We will also sustain profitable growth in our engineering projects and engineering products businesses. I wish Pradeep and Anil all success in taking the company to greater heights.”
 
Mr Bakshi said that he was gratified by the trust reposed in him by the Board of Directors. “I am fortunate to have outstanding colleagues at Voltas, as also the continued mentoring from our MD and CEO and the Board of Directors. My goal is to build on the strong foundations created by Mr Johri. I am confident we will attain market leadership in the wider basket of consumer durables, as we did in the room AC industry.”
 
Mr. George said that the leadership team of Voltas was dynamic, result-oriented and pro-active, and he had absolutely no doubt that the best years for the company lay ahead.  
 
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NIIF and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority sign investment agreement worth $1 billion

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) of India has signed an investment agreement worth $1 billion with a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

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The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) of India has signed an investment agreement worth $1 billion with a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).
 
As part of the comprehensive partnership agreement, ADIA will become the first institutional investor in NIIF’s Master Fund and a shareholder in National Investment and Infrastructure Limited, the NIIF’s investment management company.
 
Mr. Sujoy Bose, Chief Executive Officer of NIIF, said: “This agreement marks the culmination of an extensive process of collaboration with ADIA to develop an investment structure that is attractive to international investors while remaining closely aligned with the NIIF’s objectives. We are proud to have ADIA as our founding partner, and grateful for its support and contributions to date, and we now look forward to announcing further agreements with other investors.”
 
Mr. Khadem Al Remeithi, Executive Director of the Real Estate & Infrastructure Department at ADIA, said: “The NIIF is set to play an important role in facilitating the flow of foreign capital into India’s infrastructure sector. As a long-standing investor in India and in infrastructure globally, ADIA welcomes the opportunity to be the first to partner with NIIF in a platform that is sure to be of interest to other long-term institutional investors.”
 
An official press release said that the agreement was signed pursuant to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India and the Government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) to mobilise long term investment into NIIF.
 
Six domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs) -- HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Limited, HDFC Asset Management Company Limited, Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited, ICICI Bank Limited, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Limited, Axis Bank Limited -- will also be joining the NIIF Master Fund alongwith ADIA, apart from Government of India (GOI), the release said.
 
Mr. Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, said, "This is a significant milestone in operationalisation of NIIF. This Agreement paves the way for creating significant economic impact through investment in commercially viable infrastructure development projects."
 
The NIIF was created, after a decision by the Union Cabinet on July 29, 2015 and was envisaged to be established as one or more Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) under the SEBI Regulations. The proposed corpus of NIIF is Rs. 40,000 crore (around $ 6 billion). GOI’s contribution to the NIIF shall be 49% of the total commitment at any given point of time. NIIF has been mandated to solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners, like overseas sovereign/quasi-sovereign/multilateral/bilateral investors.
 
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Two companies -- NIIFTL, the trustee of the fund and NIIFL, the investment management company -- were incorporated in 2015. A Governing Council has been set up under the chairmanship of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to act as an advisory council to NIIF.
 
A few investors such as the Government of UAE, RUSNANO, QIA, RDIF and Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development (JOIN) have signed MoUs with the NIIF. In addition, DEA has signed terms for cooperation on the NIIF with the US Treasury and the UK Treasury. 
 
An India-UK Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF) has been announced in April 2017. The fund shall be set up under the fund of funds vertical of NIIF, and shall have anchor commitments of GBP 120 million each from Government of India (through NIIF) and Government of UK.
 
NIIF is a fund manager that seeks to create long-term value for domestic and international investors seeking to invest in energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India. NIIF, an institution sponsored by the Government of India, is a collaborative investment platform for international and Indian investors. 
 
ADIA has, since 1976, been prudently investing funds on behalf of the Government of Abu Dhabi, with a focus on long-term value creation.  ADIA manages a global investment portfolio that is diversified across more than two dozen asset classes and sub-categories. With a long tradition of prudent investing, ADIA’s decisions are based solely on its economic objectives of delivering sustained long-term financial returns, the release added.
 
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IRCTC suspends two officials after 26 passengers complain of food poisoning on Tejas Express

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The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has placed two of its officials under suspension after 26 passengers suffered from symptoms of food poisoning after consuming food served to them on the 22120 Karmali-Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSTM) Tejas Express yesterday.
 
"Area officer of IRCTC at Madgaon and On Board Manager are placed under suspension pending fact finding report and food test report," IRCTC, which overseas catering operations on Indian Railways, said on micro-blogging site Twitter yesterday.
 
IRCTC also said that a show cause notice had been served on the catering contractor and strict action would be taken against him if found guilty.
 
The Konkan Railway Corporation said all 26 passengers had been treated at the Life Care Hospital at Chhplun where all of them were stated to be out of danger. Konkan Railway is providing all necessary assistance to them and also arranged for their onward transport to Mumbai by train, it said.
 
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A press release from IRCTC yesterday said the train had departed at 0900 hours yesterday from Karmali in Goa to Mumbai and 230 passengers were served breakfast on board.
 
A group of seven passengers complained of nausea and were attended to by the on-board supervisor. Meanwhile, two other groups of passengers, numbering 15 in all, also complained of nausea. A doctor travelling on the train attended to the passengers.
 
Meanwhile, the train was given an out of course halt at Chiplun, where a railway doctor attended to them. Ambulances were requisitioned and passengers complaining of nausea were taken to a local hospital.
 
"Enquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause. The kitchen where food was prepared was inspected by area officer, Madgaon after the incident and samples lifted for testing, including soup sachets. Group General Manager IRCTC has proceeded to Chiplun for coordination at the hospital for all arrangements for ensuring their comfort and onward movement," the release added.
 
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Tri-weekly special Rajdhani between Delhi, Mumbai from October 16

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A new tri-weekly special Rajdhani Express will begin service between Delhi and Mumbai from October 16 with lesser number of stoppages and saving around two hours in journey time in comparison to the existing Mumbai Rajdhani.  
 
Flexi fare shall not be levied on booking of the ticket in this train which will be hauled by two locomotives for better acceleration, deceleration and higher speed, an official press release said.
 
The fare for this train in 2nd AC and 3rd AC will be around 19% cheaper than the maximum flexi fare of corresponding classes of existing Mumbai Rajdhani. The catering services in this train will be optional and the passengers shall have the choice to opt out.
 
The Ministry of Railways stated that the train service would fulfil the long overdue demand of passengers to provide faster and convenient connectivity to passengers between the two metros. Delhi and Mumbai.
 
At present, two Rajdhanis and more than 30 mail/express trains run between Delhi and Mumbai.
 
The new service is planned to be commenced as a tri-weekly special service with only one rake and provide faster rail connectivity between Delhi and Mumbai and great convenience to passengers.
 
The service will enable the passengers to avoid peak-hours of traffic. The early morning arrival time is also set in such a way to facilitate people attend offices as per their routine. This train will have stoppages at Kota, Vadodara and Surat stations only.
 
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RIL reports 12.5% growth in net profit to Rs. 8109 crore in Q2

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today reported a 12.5 percent growth in its consolidated net profit in the second quarter (Q2) of financial year 2017-18, ended September 30, to Rs. 8109 crore over Rs. 7,209 crore in the same quarter of the previous financial year.
 
Reporting its financial performance for the quarter, the company said its revenue had gone up by 23.9% to Rs. 101,169 crore.
 
On a standalone  basis, the company said its net profit had gone up by 7.3% to Rs. 8,265 crore and its revenue by 16.8% to Rs. 75,165 crore.
 
The company said it had achieved a gross refining margin (GRM) of $ 12/bbl for the quarter.
 
The company also announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, telecom services provider Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, had made a net loss of Rs. 270.59 crore in the quarter.
 
RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D. Ambani said, “Our company reported another quarter of robust performance. I am delighted to share that this includes the financial performance of Reliance Jio which had a positive EBIT contribution in its first quarter of commercial operations."
 
"The results also reflect strong underlying fundamentals of our refining and petrochemicals businesses. Sustained demand growth coupled with supply disruptions further tightened demand-supply balances globally during the quarter. The benefits of optimizing our business through new projects are beginning to emerge. The structural strength in energy and materials business environment augurs well for our new capacities which are coming on-line this year," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani said the company's retail business had delivered broad based, sustainable and profitable growth through improved operational excellence.
 
"The world is transforming, turning digital and India is not going to be left behind. India is ready to go digital, move from voice to data and Jio is creating the foundation of data for the next generation business. The rapid uptake of Jio services reflects the latent need of the society. We are confident that Jio will bring significant benefits to the Indian economy and the Indian customers and will take India to a much higher pedestal. We are focussed on providing multi-layered digital services on top of the basic connectivity service to optimally utilise our world class infrastructure.
 
"The strong financial results of Jio demonstrates the robust business model of Jio and the significant efficiencies that the company has built through its investment in the latest 4G technology and right business strategy. As always, the group has demonstrated excellence in execution, vision and commercial acumen," he said.
 
A press release from RIL said the increase in its revenue was primarily on account of increase in prices and volumes in refining, petrochemicals and retail businesses.
 
"Further, the consolidated revenues reflect the commencement of commercial operations of RJIL’s Wireless Telecommunication Network during the quarter.
 
"Exports (including deemed exports) from India refining and petrochemical operations were higher by 10.2% at Rs. 41,560 crore ($ 6.4 billion) as against Rs. 37,717 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year due to higher volumes and product prices. Other expenditure increased by 35.8% to Rs.  12,323 crore ($ 1.9 billion) as against Rs. 9,073 crore in corresponding period of the previous year primarily due to network expenses and access charges pertaining to the digital services business post commencement of commercial operations.
 
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"Operating profit before other income and depreciation increased by 39.4% to Rs. 15,565 crore ($ 2.4 billion) from Rs. 11,164 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year. Strong operating performance was driven by the refining, petrochemicals, retail businesses and positive contribution from digital services starting from this quarter," it said.
 
The company said its outstanding debt as on 30th September 2017 was Rs. 214,145 crore ($ 32.8 billion) compared to Rs. 196,601 crore as on 31st March 2017. Cash and cash equivalents as on 30th September 2017 were at Rs. 77,014 crore ($ 11.8 billion) compared to Rs. 77,226 crore as on 31st March 2017. These were in bank deposits, mutual funds, CDs, Government Bonds and other marketable securities.
 
The capital expenditure for the quarter ended 30th September 2017 was Rs. 15,653 crore ($ 2.4 billion) including exchange rate difference capitalization. Capital expenditure was principally on account of ongoing projects in the petrochemicals and refining business at Jamnagar and digital services business.
 
Reporting its first quarterly financial performance, Reliance Jio said it had notched consolidated value of services of Rs. 7213 crore and consolidated EBIT of Rs. 261 crore. The standalone revenue from operations was Rs. 6,147 crore.
 
RJIL said its subscriber base as on September 30 was 138.6 million, with a net subscriber addition of 15.3 million during the quarter.
 
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India’s forex reserves dip by $ 862.2 million to $ 398.794 billion

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Maintaining a downward trend for the third consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 862.2 million to $ 398.794 billion during the week ended October 6, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had fallen by $ 2.59 billion to $ 399.656 billion during the previous week. 
 
With the latest figures, the foreign exchange reserves have gone down by $ 3.714 billion in the last three weeks after touching an all-time high of $ 4012.509 billion during the week ended September 15.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had fallen by $ 1.391 billion to $ 373.795 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 went up by $ 548.6 million to $ 21.240 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $ 7.9 million to $ 1.494 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 11.9 million to $ 2.264 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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SBI launches SME Assist to solve MSMEs' liquidity crunch

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State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, has launched a first-of-its-kind product ‘SME Assist’ wherein the bank will provide a short term working capital demand loan (WCDL) to its micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) customers for nine months.
 
Under ‘SME Assist’, the  bank will provide loans to MSME entrepreneurs on their Input Credit Claims under the Goods and Service Tax (GST) at a concessional rate of interest.
 
Mr. V. Ramling, CGM (SME), SBI said the product would help MSMEs to manage their working capital requirement till the time they get input credit. It also supports the government’s GST initiative, as it will help stabilize the SMEs to run their operations without any hurdle.
 
WCDL will be sanctioned outside Assessed Bank Finance (ABF) at 20% of the existing fund based working capital limit or 80% of input tax claim due on purchases, whichever is lower. With a processing fee of Rs.2000, MSMEs can avail WCDL to meet their working capital requirement. Companies applying for a loan under the product have to provide a certificate from their chartered accountant confirming the input credit claims, a press release from the bank said.
 
Also under SME Assist, SME borrowers can enjoy a moratorium period for the first three months. The ad hoc amount can be repaid either in one bullet payment or in six EMIs in next six months after moratorium period is over. Simple documentation is proposed and the SME customers of the bank can avail SME Assist facility till March 31, 2018, the release added.
 
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Cabinet nod for MoU between SEBI, Capital Markets Authority of Kuwait

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The Union Cabinet yesterday gave its approval for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) with Capital Markets Authority (CMA), Kuwait for mutual co-operation and technical assistance. 
 
The MoU is likely to promote further development of economic links and cooperation between the two regulators, and aims at creating conditions for an effective development of securities markets in the two countries, an official press release said.
 
It would also contribute towards strengthening the information sharing framework between the two. It is expected to add value to overseas mutual cooperation and regulation activities of SEBI and CMA, Kuwait, the release added.
 
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Probe finds Elphinstone Road railway station stampede was caused by sudden heavy rains

 
A high-level committee set up by the Railways to probe the September 29 stampede on a foot overbridge (FOB) at Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai, which left 23 people dead and more than 35 others injured, has concluded that the tragedy occurred due to sudden heavy rains that led to overcrowding on the bridge.
 
"The committee concluded that the incident occurred due to sudden downpour of heavy rains and accumulation of commuters on FOB and stair case at around 10.00 hrs onwards on that date," it said.
 
The report said the situation got "further aggravated" when one bundle of flowers of a vendor dropped down, followed by someone shouting that "Majha phool padla" (my flowers have fallen).
 
"Some commuters mistook the word 'phool' (flowers) for 'pul' (bridge). This may have possibly triggered panic and led to stampede," the report said.
 
The committee, headed by the Chief Safety Officer, Western Railway, consisted of five Senior Administrative Grade officers (Joint Secretary level).
 
It had issued a public notice inviting members of public having knowledge relating to the incidence and any matter connected therewith and desiring to give evidence. 
 
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"The committee examined all the matters pertaining to the incidence including the evidence from the witnesses, the written statement of injured persons, Railway officials of Elphinstone road station and analysis of footages of all the CCTV cameras installed at the station including those located on the FOB," an official press release said.
 
The committee also recommended certain short-term and long-term measures for Mumbai Suburban stations. It highlighted the fact that the issue of Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) for Elphinstone Road FOB took about 18 months. 
 
The Railway Board has decided to constitute a high-level expert committee to inquire into the reasons for delay in the whole process and suggest ways and means to ensure that such delays can be minimised in future. This committee would be headed by Mr. Pratyush Sinha (former Chief Vigilance Commissioner) and include Mr. Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman CII Economic Affairs Council, and Mr. Subodh Jain, (retired Member Engineering , Railway Board)  as  Members and current Director Safety, Railway Board, Mr. Pankaj Kumar  as Member Secretary.
 
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L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering wins Rs. 1150 crore contract from ONGC

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L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering Limited (LTHE), a wholly-owned subsidiary of infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro, has bagged an offshore contract valued at approximately Rs. 1150 crore (about $ 177 million) for the Daman Development Project from the public sector Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
 
The contract, won against international competitive bidding, encompasses total Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Installation and Commissioning (EPCIC) for the project, a press release from the company said.
 
The project, part of ONGC’s strategy to extract gas from Daman Field, is situated in the south western part of Tapti - Daman block in Mumbai Offshore, located at about 160-200 km north-west of Mumbai and 160 km west of Daman.
 
The release said L&T has been serving the upstream hydrocarbon sector since the early 1990s. "This contract reiterates the long term association of ONGC with L&T in the development of offshore fields in India," it said.
 
The company’s offshore track record includes successful completion of several challenging projects for domestic and international clients. LTHE provides complete EPCIC solutions for the offshore oil & gas industry combining customized engineering, procurement, fast-track project management and world-class fabrication and sea installation capabilities meeting stringent timelines, conforming to international safety standards, the release added.
 
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India's forex reserves dip by $ 2.59 billion to $ 399.656 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 2.59 billion to $ 399.656 billion during the week ended September 29, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had fallen by $ 262.3 million to $ 402.247 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 fallen by $ 2.565 billion to $ 375.186 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at  $ 20.692 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $ 10 million to $ 1.502 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 15.2 million to $ 2.276 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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Reliance sells its assets in Marcellus shale play of North-Eastern and Central Pennsylvania

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Reliance Marcellus II, LLC, a subsidiary of Reliance Holding USA, Inc. and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), today said it had signed agreements to divest all of its interest in certain upstream assets in north-eastern and central Pennsylvania.  
 
The assets, which are currently operated by Carrizo Oil & Gas, Inc., were sold to BKV Chelsea, LLC, an affiliate of Kalnin Ventures LLC, for consideration of $126 million, subject to customary closing terms and conditions, a press release from the company said.
 
Additionally, Reliance could receive contingent payments of up to $11.25 million in aggregate based on natural gas prices exceeding certain thresholds over the next three years.
 
The assets produce mainly gas and are located in Susquehanna, Wyoming and Clearfield Counties of Pennsylvania.
 
Mr. Walter Van de Vijver, President and CEO of Reliance Holding USA, Inc., said: "This transaction represents an opportunistic sale of developed upstream Marcellus assets and ends a successful partnership of 7 years with Carrizo in a joint sale.  We will continue to actively manage the remainder of our US shale resources."  
 
The Carrizo operated acreage was one of the three upstream assets in the United States, owned by Reliance. Reliance remains invested in the Marcellus shale play via its non-operated position with Chevron in southwestern Pennsylvania and in the Eagle Ford play via its non-operated position with Pioneer in Texas, the release said.
 
"The sale of the assets will be consummated in accordance with the terms of a purchase and sale agreement, dated October 5, 2017, by and between Reliance and the buyer. The transaction is anticipated to close by the end of the third quarter of FY2018, with an April 1, 2017 effective date.
 
"Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. acted as financial advisor to Reliance, Haynes and Boone served as its legal counsel," the release added.
 
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Full text: RBI's Fourth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18

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Following is the text of the Fourth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18 and Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) here today: 
 
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 6.0 per cent.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.25 per cent.
 
The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The main considerations underlying the decision are set out in the statement below.
 
Assessment
 
2. Since the MPC’s meeting in August 2017, global economic activity has strengthened further and become broad-based. Among advanced economies (AEs), the US has continued to expand with revised Q2 GDP growing at its strongest pace in more than two years, supported by robust consumer spending and business fixed investment. Recent hurricanes could, however, weigh on economic activity in the near-term. In the Euro area, the economic recovery gained further traction and spread, underpinned by domestic demand. While private consumption benefited from employment gains, investment rose on the back of favourable financing conditions. The Euro area purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for manufacturing soared to its highest reading in more than six years. The Japanese economy continued on a path of healthy expansion despite a downward revision in growth since March 2017 on weaker than expected capital expenditure.
 
3. Among the major emerging market economies (EMEs), strong growth in Q2 in China was powered by retail sales, and imports grew at a rapid pace, suggesting robust domestic demand; investment activity, however, slowed down. The Brazilian economy expanded for two consecutive quarters in Q2 on improving terms of trade, even as the impact of recession persists on the labour market. Economic activity in Russia recovered further, supported by strengthening global demand, firming up of oil prices and accommodative monetary policy. Although South Africa has emerged out of recession in Q2, the economy faces economic and political challenges. 
 
4. The latest assessment by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) indicates a significant improvement in global trade in 2017 over the lacklustre growth in 2016, backed by a resurgence of Asian trade flows and rising imports by North America. Crude oil prices hit a two-year high in September on account of the combined effect of a pick-up in demand, tightening supplies due to production cuts by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and declining crude oil inventories in the US. Metal prices have eased since mid-September on weaker than expected Chinese industrial production data. Bullion prices touched a year’s high in early September on account of safe-haven demand due to geo-political tensions, before weakening somewhat in the second half. Weak non-oil commodity prices and low wage growth kept inflation pressures low in most AEs and subdued in several EMEs, largely reflecting country-specific factors.
 
5. Global financial markets have been driven mainly by the changing course of monetary policy in AEs, generally improving economic prospects and oscillating geo-political factors. Equity markets in most AEs have continued to rise. In EMEs, equities generally gained on improved global risk appetite, supported by upbeat economic data and expectations of a slower pace of monetary tightening in major AEs. While bond yields in major AEs moved sideways, they showed wider variation in EMEs. In currency markets, the US dollar weakened further and fell to a multi-month low in September on weak inflation, though it recovered some lost ground in the last week of September on a hawkish US Fed stance and tensions around North Korea. The euro surged to a two and a half year high against the US dollar towards end-August on positive economic data, whereas the Japanese yen experienced sporadic bouts of volatility triggered by geo-political risks. Emerging market currencies showed divergent movements and remained highly sensitive to monetary policies of key AEs. Capital flows to EMEs have continued, but appear increasingly vulnerable to the normalisation of monetary policy by the US Fed.
 
6. On the domestic front, real gross value added (GVA) growth slowed significantly in Q1 of 2017-18, cushioned partly by the extensive front-loading of expenditure by the central government. GVA growth in agriculture and allied activities slackened quarter-on-quarter in the usual first quarter moderation, partly reflecting deceleration in the growth of livestock products, forestry and fisheries. Industrial sector GVA growth fell sequentially as well as on a y-o-y basis. The manufacturing sector – the dominant component of industrial GVA – grew by 1.2 per cent, the lowest in the last 20 quarters. The mining sector, which showed signs of improvement in the second half of 2016-17, entered into contraction mode again in Q1 of 2017-18, on account of a decline in coal production and subdued crude oil production. Services sector performance, however, improved markedly, supported mainly by trade, hotels, transport and communication, which bounced back after a persistent slowdown throughout 2016-17. Construction picked up pace after contracting in Q4 of 2016-17. Financial, real estate and professional services turned around from their lacklustre performance in the second half of 2016-17. Of the constituents of aggregate demand, growth in private consumption expenditure was at a six-quarter low in Q1 of 2017-18. Gross fixed capital formation exhibited a modest recovery in Q1 in contrast to a contraction in the preceding quarter.
 
7. Turning to Q2, the south-west monsoon, which arrived early and progressed well till the first week of July, lost momentum from mid-July to August – the crucial period for kharif sowing. By end-September, the cumulative rainfall was deficient by around 5 per cent relative to the long period average, with 17 per cent of the geographical area of the country receiving deficient rainfall. The live storage in reservoirs fell to 66 per cent of the full capacity as compared with 74 per cent a year ago. The uneven spatial distribution of the monsoon was reflected in the first advance estimates of kharif production by the Ministry of Agriculture, which were below the level of the previous year due to lower area sown under major crops including rice, coarse cereals, pulses, oilseeds, jute and mesta.
 
8. The index of industrial production (IIP) recovered marginally in July 2017 from the contraction in June on the back of a recovery in mining, quarrying and electricity generation. However, manufacturing remained weak. In terms of the use-based classification, contraction in capital goods, intermediate goods and consumer durables pulled down overall IIP growth. In August, however, the output of core industries posted robust growth on the back of an uptick in coal production and electricity generation. The manufacturing PMI moved into expansion zone in August and September 2017 on the strength of new orders. 
 
9. On the services side, the picture remained mixed. Many indicators pointed to improved performance even as the services PMI continued in the contraction zone in August due to low new orders. In the construction segment, steel consumption was robust. In the transportation sector, sales of commercial and passenger vehicles as well as two and three-wheelers, railway freight traffic and international air passenger traffic showed significant  upticks. However, cement production, cargo handled at major ports, domestic air freight and passenger traffic showed weak performance.
 
10. Retail inflation measured by year-on-year change in the consumer price index (CPI) edged up sequentially in July and August to reach a five month high, due entirely to a sharp pick up in momentum as the favourable base effect tapered off in July and disappeared in August. After a decline in prices in June, food inflation rebounded in the following two months, driven mainly by a sharp rise in vegetable prices, along with the rise in inflation in prepared meals and fruits. Cereals inflation remained benign, while deflation in pulses continued for the ninth successive month. Fuel group inflation remained broadly unchanged in August even as inflation in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), kerosene, firewood and chips rose. Petroleum product prices tracked the hardening of international crude oil prices.
 
11. CPI inflation excluding food and fuel also increased sharply in July and further in August, reversing from its trough in June 2017. The increase was broad-based in both goods and services. Housing inflation hardened further in August on account of higher house rent allowances for central government employees under the 7th central pay commission award. Inflation in household goods and services in health, recreation and clothing & footwear subgroups increased. Quantitative inflation expectations of households eased in the September 2017 round of the Reserve Bank’s survey. However, in terms of qualitative responses, the proportion of respondents expecting the general price level to increase by more than the current rate rose markedly for the three-month as well as one-year ahead horizons. Farm and industry input costs picked up in August. Real wages in the rural and organised sectors continued to edge up. The Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey showed that corporate pricing power for the manufacturing sector remained weak. In contrast, firms polled for the services sector PMI reported a sharp rise in prices charged.
 
12. Surplus liquidity in the system persisted through Q2 even as the build-up in government cash balances since mid-September 2017 due to advance tax outflows reduced the size of the surplus liquidity significantly in the second half of the month. Currency in circulation increased at a moderate pace during Q2, by Rs. 569 billion as against Rs. 1,964 billion during Q1, reflecting the usual seasonality. Consistent with the guidance given in April 2017 on liquidity, the Reserve Bank conducted open market sales operations on six occasions during Q2 to absorb Rs. 600 billion of surplus liquidity on a durable basis, in addition to the issuances of treasury bills (of tenors ranging from 312 days to 329 days) under the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) during April and May of Rs. 1 trillion. As a result, net average absorption of liquidity under the LAF declined from Rs. 3 trillion in July to Rs. 1.6 trillion in the second half of September. The weighted average call rate (WACR), which on an average, traded below the repo rate by 18 basis points (bps) during July, firmed up by 5 bps in September on account of higher demand for liquidity around mid-September in response to advance tax outflows.
 
13. Reflecting improving global demand, merchandise export growth picked up in August 2017 after decelerating in the preceding three months. Engineering goods, petroleum products and chemicals were the major contributors to export growth in August 2017; growth in exports of readymade garments and drugs & pharmaceuticals too returned to positive territory. However, India’s export growth continued to be lower than that of other emerging economies such as Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam, some of which have benefited from the global commodity price rebound. Import growth remained in double-digits for the eighth successive month in August and was fairly broad-based. While the surge in imports of crude oil and coal largely reflected a rise in international prices, imports of machinery, machine tools, iron and steel also picked up. Gold import volume has declined sequentially since June 2017, though the level in August was more than twice that of a year ago. The sharper increase in imports relative to exports resulted in a widening of the current account deficit in Q1 of 2017-18, even as net services exports and remittances picked up. Net foreign direct investment at US$ 10.6 billion in April-July 2017 was 24 per cent higher than during the same period of last year. While the debt segment of the domestic capital market attracted foreign portfolio investment of US$ 14.4 billion, there were significant outflows in the equity segment in August-September on account of geo-political uncertainties and expected  normalisation of Fed asset purchases. India’s foreign exchange reserves were at US$ 399.7 billion on September 29, 2017.
 
Outlook
 
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14. In August, headline inflation was projected at 3 per cent in Q2 and 4.0-4.5 per cent in the second half of 2017-18. Actual inflation outcomes so far have been broadly in line with projections, though the extent of the rise in inflation excluding food and fuel has been somewhat higher than expected. The inflation path for the rest of 2017-18 is expected to be shaped by several factors. First, the assessment of food prices going forward is largely favourable, though the first advance estimates of kharif production pose some uncertainty. Early indicators show that prices of pulses which had declined significantly to undershoot trend levels in recent months, have now begun to stabilise. Second, some price revisions pending the goods and services tax (GST) implementation have been taking place. Third, there has been a broad-based increase in CPI inflation excluding food and fuel. Finally, international crude prices, which had started rising from early July, have firmed up further in September. Taking into account these factors, inflation is expected to rise from its current level and range between 4.2-4.6 per cent in the second half of this year, including the house rent allowance by the Centre. 
 
15. As noted in the August policy, there are factors that continue to impart upside risks to this baseline inflation trajectory: (a) implementation of farm loan waivers by States may result in possible fiscal slippages and undermine the quality of public spending, thereby exerting pressure on prices; and (b) States’ implementation of the salary and allowances award is not yet considered in the baseline projection; an increase by States similar to that by the Centre could push up headline inflation by about 100 basis points above the baseline over 18-24 months, a statistical effect that could have potential second round effects. However, adequate food stocks and effective supply management by the Government may keep food inflation more benign than assumed in the baseline.
 
16. Turning to growth projections, the loss of momentum in Q1 of 2017-18 and the first advance estimates of kharif foodgrains production are early setbacks that impart a downside to the outlook. The implementation of the GST so far also appears to have had an adverse impact, rendering prospects for the manufacturing sector uncertain in the short term. This may further delay the revival of investment activity, which is already hampered by stressed balance sheets of banks and corporates. Consumer confidence and overall business assessment of the manufacturing and services sectors surveyed by the Reserve Bank weakened in Q2 of 2017-18; on the positive side, firms expect a significant improvement in business sentiment in Q3. Taking into account the above factors, the projection of real GVA growth for 2017-18 has been revised down to 6.7 per cent from the August 2017 projection of 7.3 per cent, with risks evenly balanced.
 
17. Imparting an upside to this baseline, household consumption demand may get a boost from upward salary and allowances revisions by states. Teething problems linked to the GST and bandwidth constraints may get resolved relatively soon, allowing growth to accelerate in H2. On the downside, a faster than expected rise in input costs and lack of pricing power may put further pressure on corporate margins, affecting value added by industry. Moreover, consumer confidence of households polled in the Reserve Bank’s survey has weakened in terms of the outlook on employment, income, prices faced and spending incurred. 
 
18. The MPC observed that CPI inflation has risen by around two percentage points since its last meeting. These price pressures have coincided with an escalation of global geopolitical uncertainty and heightened volatility in financial markets due to the US Fed’s plans of balance sheet unwinding and the risk of normalisation by the European Central Bank. Such juxtaposition of risks to inflation needs to be carefully managed. Although the domestic food price outlook remains largely stable, generalised momentum is building in prices of items excluding food, especially emanating from crude oil. The possibility of fiscal slippages may add to this momentum in the future. The MPC also acknowledged the likelihood of the output gap widening, but requires more data to better ascertain the transient versus sustained headwinds in the recent growth prints. Accordingly, the MPC decided to keep the policy rate unchanged. The MPC also decided to keep the policy stance neutral and monitor incoming data closely. The MPC remains committed to keeping headline inflation close to 4 per cent on a durable basis.
 
19. The MPC was of the view that various structural reforms introduced in the recent period will likely be growth augmenting over the medium- to long-term by improving the business environment, enhancing transparency and increasing formalisation of the economy. The Reserve Bank continues to work towards the resolution of stressed corporate exposures in bank balance sheets which should start yielding dividends for the economy over the medium term.
 
20. The MPC reiterated that it is imperative to reinvigorate investment activity which, in turn, would revive the demand for bank credit by industry as existing capacities get utilised and the requirements of new capacity open up to be financed. Recapitalising public sector banks adequately will ensure that credit flows to the productive sectors are not impeded and growth impulses not restrained. In addition, the following measures could be undertaken to support growth and achieve a faster closure of the output gap: a concerted drive to close the severe infrastructure gap; restarting stalled investment projects, particularly in the public sector; enhancing ease of doing business, including by further simplification of the GST; and ensuring faster rollout of the affordable housing program with time-bound single-window clearances and rationalisation of excessively high stamp duties by states.
 
21. Dr. Chetan Ghate, Dr. Pami Dua, Dr. Michael Debabrata Patra, Dr. Viral V. Acharya and Dr. Urjit R. Patel were in favour of the monetary policy decision, while Dr. Ravindra H. Dholakia voted for a policy rate reduction of at least 25 basis points. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by October 18, 2017.
 
22. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on December 5 and 6, 2017.
 
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Rajnish Kumar appointed as Chairman of State Bank of India

Rajnish Kumar
Rajnish Kumar
Mr. Rajnish Kumar, Managing Director, State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, has been appointed as its Chairman, succeeding Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya.
 
"The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the proposal of the Department of Financial Services for appointment of Mr. Rajnish Kumar, Managing Director (MD), State Bank of India as Chairman, State Bank of India (SBI)," a notification from the Department of Personnel and Training, said.
 
The appointment will be for a period of three years from the date of his taking over charge of the post on or after October 7, or until further orders, whichever is earlier, the notification added.
 
“It is indeed an honour to be entrusted with the leadership of SBI at a time when India is best poised for growth. I look forward to serving  the bank to the best of my abilities along with the support of all my colleagues spread across the globe," Mr. Kumar said.
 
Mr. Kumar has been Managing Director of SBI since May 26, 2015. Currently, he is looking after retail banking and latest initiatives in payments and digital banking. Prior to that, he headed SBI Capital Markets Ltd., which is the merchant banking arm of SBI, in the capacity of MD & CEO.
 
Mr. Kumar, who has an M. Sc. in Physics and is a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers (CAIIB), has been with SBI for over three decades, having joined the bank as a probationary officer in 1980. He has held several key assignments across various business verticals, including two overseas assignments in Canada and the United Kingdom. He has vast experience in handling large credit, project finance, forex and retail banking. He has also held important positions such as Regional Head - SBI (UK); Chief General Manager - North East Circle, Chief General Manager - project Finance and Managing Director (Risk & Compliance). 
 
Ms. Bhattacharya had assumed charge as Chairperson of SBI on October 7, 2013. She was given a one-year extension in tenure last year.
 
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