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RBI decides to remove cash withdrawal limits from savings bank accounts in two stages

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today said the restrictions on cash withdrawals from savings bank accounts, including accounts opened under Pradhan Mantra Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) in a two-step process.
 
Effective February 20, 2017, the limits on cash withdrawals from the savings bank accounts will be enhanced to Rs. 50,000 per week (from the current limit of Rs. 24,000 per week, a notification sent by the RBI to all banks today said.
 
Effective March 13, 2017, there will be no limits on cash withdrawals from savings bank accounts, it added.
 
The RBI had placed some restrictions on cash withdrawals from ATMs and banks in the wake of the November 8, 2016 demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes. The restrictions have been gradually eased in the past few weeks.
 
The notification said this decision was taken in line with the pace of remonetisation.
 
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Full Text: RBI's Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17

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Following is the text of the Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17 and Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued here today:
 
On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation at its meeting today, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to:
 
keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.25 per cent.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 per cent.
 
The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 5 per cent by Q4 of 2016-17 and the medium-term target 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. Global growth is projected to pick up modestly in 2017, after slowing down in the year gone by. Advanced economies (AEs) are expected to build upon the slow gathering of momentum that started in the second half of 2016, led by the US and Japan. However, uncertainty surrounds the direction of US macroeconomic policies with potential global spillovers. Growth prospects for emerging market economies (EMEs) are also expected to improve moderately, with recessionary conditions ebbing in Russia and Brazil, and China stabilising on policy stimulus. Inflation is edging up on the back of rising energy prices and a mild firming up of demand. However, global trade remains subdued due to an increasing tendency towards protectionist policies and heightened political tensions. Furthermore, financial conditions are likely to tighten as central banks in AEs normalise exceptional accommodation in monetary policy.
 
3. International financial markets turned volatile from mid-January on concerns regarding the ‘Brexit’ roadmap and materialisation of expectations about economic policies of the new US administration. Within the rising profile of international commodity prices, crude oil prices firmed up with the OPEC’s agreement to curtail production. Prices of base metals have also increased on expectations of fiscal stimulus in the US, strong infrastructure spending in China, and supply reductions. Geopolitical concerns have also hardened commodity prices. More recently, the appetite for risk has returned in AEs, buoying equity markets and hardening bond yields as a response to the growing likelihood of further increases in the Federal Funds rate during the year. Coupled with expectations of fiscal expansion in the US, this has propelled the US dollar to a multi-year high.
 
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4. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) released its advance estimates for 2016-17 on January 6, placing India’s real GVA growth at 7.0 per cent for the year, down from 7.8 per cent (first revised estimates released on January 31) a year ago. Agriculture and allied activities posted a strong pick-up, benefiting from the normal south-west monsoon, robust expansion in rabi acreage (higher by 5.7 per cent over the preceding year) and favourable base effects as well as the continuing resilience of allied activities. In contrast, the industrial sector experienced a sharp deceleration, mainly due to a slowdown in manufacturing and in mining and quarrying. Service sector activity also lost pace, concentrated in trade, hotels, transport and communication services, and construction, cushioned to some extent by public administration and defence.
 
5. Industrial output measured by the index of industrial production (IIP) finally shrugged off the debilitating drag from insulated rubber cables from November and was also pushed up by a favourable base effect. In December, the output of core industries accelerated on a year-on-year as well as on a sequentially seasonally adjusted basis. The drivers of the upturn were steel production and petroleum refinery throughput, the former, inter alia, supported by import tariff safeguards and the latter buoyed by external demand. The acceleration in coal production and thermal electricity generation since November after three consecutive months of contraction augur well for the outlook for power. Reflecting these developments, the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) returned to expansion mode in January on the back of growth of new orders and output, and the future output index has risen strongly. On the other hand, the 76th round of the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey suggests that financing conditions facing the manufacturing sector have worsened in Q3 of 2016-17 and are expected to remain tight in Q4. This is corroborated by the sharp slowdown in bank credit to industry and continuing sluggishness in the investment climate in some sectors.
 
6. High frequency indicators point to subdued activity in the services sector, particularly automobile sales across all segments, domestic air cargo, railway freight traffic, and cement production. Nevertheless, some areas stand out as bright spots, having weathered the transient effects of demonetisation – steel consumption; port traffic; international air freight; foreign tourist arrivals; tractor sales; and, cellular telephone subscribers. The services PMI for January 2017 remained in retrenchment, but the fall in output was the least in the current phase of three consecutive months of contraction.
 
7. Marking the fifth consecutive month of softening, retail inflation measured by the headline consumer price index (CPI) turned down sharper than expected in December and reached its lowest reading since November 2014. This outcome was driven by deflation in the prices of vegetables and pulses. Some moderation in the rate of increase in prices of protein-rich items – eggs, meat and fish – also aided the downturn in food inflation.
 
8. Excluding food and fuel, inflation has been unyielding at 4.9 per cent since September. While some part of this inertial behaviour is attributable to the turnaround in international crude prices since October – which fed into prices of petrol and diesel embedded in transport and communication – a broad-based stickiness is discernible in inflation, particularly in housing, health, education, personal care and effects (excluding gold and silver) as well as miscellaneous goods and services consumed by households.
 
9. The large overhang of liquidity consequent upon demonetisation weighed on money markets in December, but from mid-January rebalancing has been underway with expansion of currency in circulation and new bank notes being injected into the system at an accelerated pace. Throughout this period, the Reserve Bank’s market operations have been in liquidity absorption mode. With the abolition of the incremental cash reserve ratio from December 10, liquidity management operations have consisted of variable rate reverse repos under the LAF of tenors ranging from overnight to 91 days and auctions of cash management bills under the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) of tenors ranging from 14 to 63 days. The average daily net absorption under the LAF was Rs. 1.6 trillion in December, Rs. 2.0 trillion in January and Rs. 3.7 trillion in February (up to February 7) while under the MSS, it was Rs. 3.8 trillion, Rs. 5.0 trillion and Rs.  2.9 trillion, respectively. Money market rates remained aligned with the policy repo rate albeit with a soft bias, with the weighted average call money rate (WACR) averaging 18 basis points below the policy rate during December and January.
 
10. Turning to the external sector, export growth remained in the positive zone for the fourth month in succession in December. Imports other than petroleum oil and lubricants (POL) came out of the spike in November and moderated in December. In contrast, there was an increase of over 10 per cent in POL imports, in part reflecting the rise in international crude oil prices. Overall, the trade deficit shrank both sequentially and on a year-on-year basis, being lower for the period April-December by US$ 23.5 billion than its level a year ago. On the whole, the current account deficit is likely to remain muted and below 1 per cent of GDP in 2016-17. While the buoyancy in net foreign direct investment was sustained, there have been portfolio outflows beginning October on uncertainty relating to the direction of US macroeconomic policies and expectations of faster normalisation of US monetary policy in the year ahead. Foreign exchange reserves were at US$ 363.1 billion on February 3, 2017.
 
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Outlook
 
11. In the fifth bi-monthly statement of December, headline inflation was projected at 5 per cent in Q4 of 2016-17 with risks lower than before but still tilted to the upside. The decline in headline CPI inflation in November and December has been larger than expected, but almost exclusively on the back of deflation in vegetables and pulses. While the seasonal ebb in the prices of vegetables that usually occurs with the onset of winter as well as some demand compression may have contributed to this outcome, anecdotal evidence points to some distress sales of perishables having accentuated the decline in vegetable prices, with spillovers into January as well. Looking beyond, prices of pulses are likely to remain soft with comfortable supply conditions, while vegetable prices may potentially rebound as the effects of demonetisation wear off.
 
12. The Committee is of the view that the persistence of inflation excluding food and fuel could set a floor on further downward movements in headline inflation and trigger second-order effects. Nevertheless, headline CPI inflation in Q4 of 2016-17 is likely to be below 5 per cent. Favourable base effects and lagged effects of demand compression may mute headline inflation in Q1 of 2017-18. Thereafter, it is expected to pick up momentum, especially as growth picks up and the output gap narrows. Moreover, base effects will reverse and turn adverse during Q3 and Q4 of 2017-18. Accordingly, inflation is projected in the range of 4.0 to 4.5 per cent in the first half of the financial year and in the range of 4.5 to 5.0 per cent in the second half with risks evenly balanced around this projected path. In this context, it is important to note three significant upside risks that impart some uncertainty to the baseline inflation path – the hardening profile of international crude prices; volatility in the exchange rate on account of global financial market developments, which could impart upside pressures to domestic inflation; and the fuller effects of the house rent allowances under the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) award which have not been factored in the baseline inflation path. The focus of the Union budget on growth revival without compromising on fiscal prudence should bode well for limiting upside risks to inflation.
 
13. GVA growth for 2016-17 is projected at 6.9 per cent with risks evenly balanced around it. Growth is expected to recover sharply in 2017-18 on account of several factors. First, discretionary consumer demand held back by demonetisation is expected to bounce back beginning in the closing months of 2016-17. Second, economic activity in cash-intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels and restaurants, and transportation, as well as in the unorganised sector, is expected to be rapidly restored. Third, demonetisation-induced ease in bank funding conditions has led to a sharp improvement in transmission of past policy rate reductions into marginal cost-based lending rates (MCLRs), and in turn, to lending rates for healthy borrowers, which should spur a pick-up in both consumption and investment demand. Fourth, the emphasis in the Union Budget for 2017-18 on stepping up capital expenditure, and boosting the rural economy and affordable housing should contribute to growth. Accordingly, GVA growth for 2017-18 is projected at 7.4 per cent, with risks evenly balanced.
 
14. The Committee remains committed to bringing headline inflation closer to 4.0 per cent on a durable basis and in a calibrated manner. This requires further significant decline in inflation expectations, especially since the services component of inflation that is sensitive to wage movements has been sticky. The committee decided to change the stance from accommodative to neutral while keeping the policy rate on hold to assess how the transitory effects of demonetisation on inflation and the output gap play out.
 
15. The Reserve Bank has conducted market liquidity operations consistent with the liquidity management framework put in place in April 2016, progressively moving the system level ex ante liquidity conditions to close to neutrality. This stance will continue. Surplus liquidity should decline with progressive remonetisation. Nonetheless, the currently abundant liquidity with banks is likely to persist into the early months of 2017-18. The Reserve Bank is committed to ensuring efficient and appropriate liquidity management with all the instruments at its command to ensure close alignment of the WACR with the policy rate, improved transmission of policy impulses to lending rates, and adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy.
 
16. The Committee believes that the environment for timely transmission of policy rates to banks lending rates will be considerably improved if (i) the banking sector’s non-performing assets (NPAs) are resolved more quickly and efficiently; (ii) recapitalisation of the banking sector is hastened; and, (iii) the formula for adjustments in the interest rates on small savings schemes to changes in yields on government securities of corresponding maturity is fully implemented.
 
17. Six members voted in favour of the monetary policy decision. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by February 22, 2017.
 
18. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on April 5 and 6, 2017.
 
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RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.25%, says committed to bringing inflation closer to 4%

 
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today decided to keep the key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment (LAF) unchanged at 6.25 percent.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 per cent, a resolution adopted by the MPC at its meeting here today.
 
In its Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2016-17, the RBI said the decision of the MPC was consistent with a neutral stance of monetary  policy in consonance with the objective of achieving consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 5 per cent by Q4 of 2016-17 and the medium-term target of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth.
 
The resolution said the committee remained committed to bringing headline inflation closer to 4.0 per cent on a durable basis and in a calibrated manner. 
 
"This requires further significant decline in inflation expectations, especially since the services component of inflation that is sensitive to wage movements has been sticky. The committee decided to change the stance from accommodative to neutral while keeping the policy rate on hold to assess how the transitory effects of demonetisation on inflation and the output gap play out," it said.
 
The statement said the RBI had conducted market liquidity operations consistent with the liquidity management framework put in place in April 2016, progressively moving the system level ex ante liquidity conditions to close to neutrality. 
 
"This stance will continue. Surplus liquidity should decline with progressive remonetisation. Nonetheless, the currently abundant liquidity with banks is likely to persist into the early months of 2017-18. The Reserve Bank is committed to ensuring efficient and appropriate liquidity management with all the instruments at its command to ensure close alignment of the WACR with the policy rate, improved transmission of policy impulses to lending rates, and adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy.
 
"The Committee believes that the environment for timely transmission of policy rates to banks lending rates will be considerably improved if (i) the banking sector’s non-performing assets (NPAs) are resolved more quickly and efficiently; (ii) recapitalisation of the banking sector is hastened; and, (iii) the formula for adjustments in the interest rates on small savings schemes to changes in yields on government securities of corresponding maturity is fully implemented," it said.
 
According to the statement, six members voted in favour of the monetary policy decision. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by February 22, it said.
 
Setting out the main considerations underlying the decision, the statement said global growth was projected to pick up modestly in 2017, after slowing down in the year gone by. 
 
"Advanced economies (AEs) are expected to build upon the slow gathering of momentum that started in the second half of 2016, led by the US and Japan. However, uncertainty surrounds the direction of US macroeconomic policies with potential global spillovers. Growth prospects for emerging market economies (EMEs) are also expected to improve moderately, with recessionary conditions ebbing in Russia and Brazil, and China stabilising on policy stimulus," it said.
 
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The statement said inflation was edging up on the back of rising energy prices and a mild firming up of demand. However, global trade remains subdued due to an increasing tendency towards protectionist policies and heightened political tensions. Furthermore, financial conditions are likely to tighten as central banks in AEs normalise exceptional accommodation in monetary policy.
 
The MPC noted that the Central Statistics Office (CSO), in its advance estimates for 2016-17, placed India’s real GVA growth at 7.0% for the year, down from 7.8% a year ago.
 
"Agriculture and allied activities posted a strong pick-up, benefiting from the normal south-west monsoon, robust expansion in rabi acreage (higher by 5.7% over the preceding year) and favourable base effects as well as the continuing resilience of allied activities. In contrast, the industrial sector experienced a sharp deceleration, mainly due to a slowdown in manufacturing and in mining and quarrying. Service sector activity also lost pace, concentrated in trade, hotels, transport and communication services, and construction, cushioned to some extent by public administration and defence," it said.
 
The statement said that, marking the fifth consecutive month of softening, retail inflation measured by the headline consumer price index (CPI) turned down sharper than expected in December and reached its lowest reading since November 2014. 
 
Excluding food and fuel, inflation has been unyielding at 4.9 per cent since September, it said.
 
"While some part of this inertial behaviour is attributable to the turnaround in international crude prices since October – which fed into prices of petrol and diesel embedded in transport and communication – a broad-based stickiness is discernible in inflation, particularly in housing, health, education, personal care and effects (excluding gold and silver) as well as miscellaneous goods and services consumed by households.
 
"The large overhang of liquidity consequent upon demonetisation weighed on money markets in December, but from mid-January rebalancing has been underway with expansion of currency in circulation and new bank notes being injected into the system at an accelerated pace. Throughout this period, the Reserve Bank’s market operations have been in liquidity absorption mode. With the abolition of the incremental cash reserve ratio from December 10, liquidity management operations have consisted of variable rate reverse repos under the LAF of tenors ranging from overnight to 91 days and auctions of cash management bills under the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) of tenors ranging from 14 to 63 days. 
 
"The average daily net absorption under the LAF was ? 1.6 trillion in December, ? 2.0 trillion in January and ? 3.7 trillion in February (up to February 7) while under the MSS, it was ? 3.8 trillion, ? 5.0 trillion and ? 2.9 trillion, respectively. Money market rates remained aligned with the policy repo rate albeit with a soft bias, with the weighted average call money rate (WACR) averaging 18 basis points below the policy rate during December and January," it said.
 
The resolution said export growth remained in the positive zone for the fourth month in succession in December. Imports other than petroleum oil and lubricants (POL) came out of the spike in November and moderated in December. In contrast, there was an increase of over 10 per cent in POL imports, in part reflecting the rise in international crude oil prices. Overall, the trade deficit shrank both sequentially and on a year-on-year basis, being lower for the period April-December by US$ 23.5 billion than its level a year ago.
 
"On the whole, the current account deficit is likely to remain muted and below 1 per cent of GDP in 2016-17. While the buoyancy in net foreign direct investment was sustained, there have been portfolio outflows beginning October on uncertainty relating to the direction of US macroeconomic policies and expectations of faster normalisation of US monetary policy in the year ahead. Foreign exchange reserves were at US$ 363.1 billion on February 3, 2017," it said.
 
The MPC noted that, in the fifth bi-monthly statement of December, headline inflation was projected at 5% in Q4 of 2016-17 with risks lower than before but still tilted to the upside. 
 
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"The decline in headline CPI inflation in November and December has been larger than expected, but almost exclusively on the back of deflation in vegetables and pulses. While the seasonal ebb in the prices of vegetables that usually occurs with the onset of winter as well as some demand compression may have contributed to this outcome, anecdotal evidence points to some distress sales of perishables having accentuated the decline in vegetable prices, with spillovers into January as well. Looking beyond, prices of pulses are likely to remain soft with comfortable supply conditions, while vegetable prices may potentially rebound as the effects of demonetisation wear off.
 
"The Committee is of the view that the persistence of inflation excluding food and fuel could set a floor on further downward movements in headline inflation and trigger second-order effects. Nevertheless, headline CPI inflation in Q4 of 2016-17 is likely to be below 5 per cent. Favourable base effects and lagged effects of demand compression may mute headline inflation in Q1 of 2017-18. Thereafter, it is expected to pick up momentum, especially as growth picks up and the output gap narrows. Moreover, base effects will reverse and turn adverse during Q3 and Q4 of 2017-18. 
 
"Accordingly, inflation is projected in the range of 4.0 to 4.5 per cent in the first half of the financial year and in the range of 4.5 to 5.0 per cent in the second half with risks evenly balanced around this projected path. 
 
"In this context, it is important to note three significant upside risks that impart some uncertainty to the baseline inflation path – the hardening profile of international crude prices; volatility in the exchange rate on account of global financial market developments, which could impart upside pressures to domestic inflation; and the fuller effects of the house rent allowances under the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) award which have not been factored in the baseline inflation path. The focus of the Union budget on growth revival without compromising on fiscal prudence should bode well for limiting upside risks to inflation," it said.
 
The statement said GVA growth for 2016-17 was projected at 6.9% with risks evenly balanced around it. 
 
"Growth is expected to recover sharply in 2017-18 on account of several factors. First, discretionary consumer demand held back by demonetisation is expected to bounce back beginning in the closing months of 2016-17. Second, economic activity in cash-intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels and restaurants, and transportation, as well as in the unorganised sector, is expected to be rapidly restored. Third, demonetisation-induced ease in bank funding conditions has led to a sharp improvement in transmission of past policy rate reductions into marginal cost-based lending rates (MCLRs), and in turn, to lending rates for healthy borrowers, which should spur a pick-up in both consumption and investment demand. Fourth, the emphasis in the Union Budget for 2017-18 on stepping up capital expenditure, and boosting the rural economy and affordable housing should contribute to growth. Accordingly, GVA growth for 2017-18 is projected at 7.4 per cent, with risks evenly balanced," it added.
 
The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on April 5 and 6, 2017.
 
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Reliance Jio says Airtel statement on provisioning of POI capacity "misleading"

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Newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) today described as "malicious and misleading" a statement by telecom services provider Bharti Airtel in which it had said that had provisioned adequate points of interconnect (PoI) capacity to RJIL.
 
"This latest statement is a continuation of Airtel’s ongoing mischievous and motivated campaign to divert attention from its anti-competitive and anti-consumer actions and violations of license conditions which are being investigated by the authorities," a statement from RJIL said.
 
The Mukesh Ambani-led RJIL said more than 2.6 crore NLD calls were still failing daily, amounting to 53.4% call failure (as on January 31) as against the TRAI norm of 0.5%. 
 
Earlier in the day, Airtel said it had provided a total of over 35,000 PoIs to RJIL in a record time of just five months. Of these,  27,719 PoIs - 79% of the total - had been dedicated for incoming calls from Jio customers, which is the highest amongst all operators, the Sunil Bharti Mittal-led company said.
 
Airtel also said the PoIs had been provided well above the customer growth projection provided to it by Jio. "The capacity provided is ideal for serving over 190 million customers on the Jio network and is more than double of the 72.5 million total customers currently claimed by Jio," it said.
 
"More importantly, the above mentioned capacity has been released at a staggering pace, something not seen before in the Indian telecom industry and is much more than comparable capacity provided by Airtel to other operators," it said.
 
Citing its own figures, RJIL, however, said the high NLD call failure rate of 53.4% was inspite of intervention by the authorities and censure proceedings against Airtel.
 
"There has always been a lag in POIs required and POIs provided by Airtel resulting in severe service issues for Indian customers," it said.
 
"There are no technical issues in the RJIL network as evident from the fact that call failures on access network have reduced from 59.1% to 0.6% (as on 31-Jan-2017) after Airtel was compelled to provide POIs post intervention by the authorities. Further, there are no call failures in Jio-to-Jio calls," it said.
 
"Airtel’s claim of having provided 35,000 POIs to Jio is misleading given that, in reality, it has not even done port allocation (first step of implementation) for over 1,100 of these PoIs. Airtel continues to issue demand notes for these PoIs to slow down the process, whereas no payment is due under the Interconnection Agreement. As has been repeatedly pointed out to Airtel, there has been no delay whatsoever in activating PoIs by RJIL. The reasons range from long delay in allocation of PoIs by Airtel, lack of media readiness of Airtel, use of electrical interfaces etc. There has been no delay from RJIL in activating the PoIs," the RJIL statement said.
 
The statement said Airtel had indulged in a "completely arbitrary comparison" of PoIs allocated to other operators as against those allocated to RJIL. 
 
"Traffic from no two operators will be alike and operators must not try to control the traffic from their customers. RJIL has passed on the benefits of a more efficient technology to its customers in the form of free voice services. Airtel did not invest in new technologies and is now trying to prevent customers from enjoying benefits of superior service offered by a new operator, while misleading customers and causing reputational damage to RJIL by claiming that there are technical issues in RJIL network. India’s telecom sector has tended to progress due to disruptive innovation brought in by newcomers, but unfortunately, Airtel is trying to block such initiatives," it said.
 
RJIL said Airtel’s insinuation that RJIL had not complied with TRAI’s tariff orders was "bizarre and defamatory considering that TRAI has already responded to its complaints by stating categorically that RJIL’s tariffs are compliant with the tariff orders of TRAI and other applicable regulations."
 
"Airtel’s statement that IUC regime assumes symmetric traffic is funny to say the least. If the traffic is symmetric, the earnings and payments towards IUC cancel out each other and there need not be any IUC charges. This is what has happened in most of the other markets. Further, Airtel’s cry for higher IUC stems from the inability to retain customers by providing telecom services at cheaper cost. Seemingly, Airtel wants other operators to subsidize its operations," it said.
 
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"Airtel is once again trying to portray that it has done a favour by providing PoIs to RJIL, whereas it may be noted that all operators have a mandatory and unconditional obligation under the license to provide adequate PoIs to all the other operators. This is irrespective of the traffic pattern and is not a favour to any operator," the RJIL statement added.
 
On its part, Airtel said that, ever since the commercial launch of services by Jio in September 2016, it had honoured its regulatory obligations and ensured that there were no capacity constraints from its end and customers were not inconvenienced. In fact, Airtel has been providing PoIs to Jio, well ahead of the commencement of its commercial operations, it said.
 
"It, therefore, appears that the constant rhetoric by Jio with regard to PoIs is aimed at covering up technical issues in their own network or their inability to activate the PoIs given," Airtel said.
 
"On the contrary, due to continued non-compliance of TRAI’s tariff orders by Jio by providing free services for the past 5-6 months, there is a tsunami of incoming voice traffic on the Airtel network, thereby, impacting the service experience of our customers. The huge asymmetry in traffic due to Jio’s free offers has also resulted complete failure of the present IUC regime, which assumes nearly symmetric traffic while fixing the below cost termination charge. The present termination charge of 14 paise is less than half of the actual cost of terminating calls on the network, resulting in huge loss to the company," the statement added.
 
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Maharashtra to become Open Defecation Free by March 2018: State official

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Maharashtra will be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) by March 2018, State Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya said today.
 
At a meeting with Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Parameswaran Iyer, Mr Kshatriya stated that Maharashtra is on track to achieve this goal.
 
The State Government has set up a strong third party-verification system for ODF declarations, Maharashtra was not only aiming for ODF achievement, but also at including hand washing, menstrual hygiene and community toilets as part of Swachh Bharat implementation, he added.
 
Multiple cleanliness campaigns such as Clean Offices, Clean GPs, Clean Schools, are also underway in the State, he said.
 
Mr Iyer assured the State of full support from the Ministry in its efforts. Under the Zilla Swachh Bharat Prerak initiative, a Prerak will be provided at district-level in the State to support SBM(G) activities by the Ministry, in association with the Tata Trusts.
 
The Secretary made a presentation to Managing Directors of all Western Region PSUs in presence of Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises, to encourage them to contribute to the Swachh Bharat Mission.
 
The presentation was well-received, with many PSUs mentioning initiatives currently undertaken by them, including school sanitation, toilets along highways etc., an official press release said.
 
The Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises, stressed at the meeting that the PSUs must train their workers and management trainees as sanitation champions and agents of change.
 
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Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba reviews Tropex 2017

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Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), has, over the past two days, reviewed the ongoing annual Theatre level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX) 2017.
 
The exercise has been underway since January 24. The CNS was accompanied by General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff and Vice- Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command.
 
The Navy chief, who embarked ships of the Indian Fleet (both Western & Eastern) during the review, witnessed a host of exercises including gunnery shoots, surface-to-air missile engagements, Brahmos firing and operations of the combined fleet in a complex multi-threat environment including sub-surface and air threats.
 
The high-point of the exercise was Large Force Engagement (LFE) by the fleet units against threast simulated by air element from Indian Air Force comprising AWACS, SU 30s, Jaguars and IL 78 (AAR).
 
These threats emanated from different directions and were neutralised by using Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capabilities of MiG 29Ks, the integral air arm of the Indian Navy, operating from INS Vikramaditya in coordination with other fleet units.
 
All these exercises validated the combat effectiveness of IN platforms, an official press release said.
 
The Navy Chief, in his address to the fleet, congratulated the men for keeping the fleet combat ready at all times and executing all assigned tasks in a most professional manner. He also mentioned that training during peacetime has to be at par with how the Navy would perform during the war. He stressed the importance of taking bold decisions with due cognisance to risks involved and ensuring safety of men and material.
 
TROPEX 2017 is a month long exercise/ war drill, encompassing all dimensions of maritime warfare. It is witnessing participation of over 60 ships, five submarines and more than 70 naval aircraft.
 
It also includes participation of a large number of assets from the Indian Air Force, such as Su-30 and Jaguar fighters, AWACS, C 130J Hercules and in-flight refuelling aircraft, Infantry amphibious elements from Indian Army and ships/ aircraft from the Indian Coast Guard.
 
The area of operations for TROPEX 2017 exercise spans across the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea and North Central Indian Ocean and serves as an opportunity to validate the Indian Navy’s Concepts of Operation, the release said.
 
As a part of the exercise, niche capabilities of the Marine Commandoes (MARCOs) and Army Special Forces, including Airborne Assault and Combat Free Fall were undertaken from IAF C-130 aircraft.
 
The Naval forces, while enforcing sea and airspace control all around the affected islands, undertook beaching and heli-borne operations for landing of follow-on forces.
 
The exercise culminated with restoration of sovereign control over the affected islands, by the Armed Forces. During debrief of the exercise, CNS and COAS discussed various options to further enhance the effectiveness of the joint exercise.
 
TROPEX 17 assumes special significance in the backdrop of the current security scenario, being aimed at testing combat readiness of the combined fleets of the Indian Navy, and the assets of the Indian Air Force, Indian Army and the Indian Coast Guard.
 
It will also strengthen inter-operability and joint operations in a complex environment, the release added.
 
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India's forex reserves rise by $ 782.7 million to $ 361.558 billion

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Maintaining an uptrend for the third consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 782.7 million to $ 361.558 billion in the weeek ended January 27, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had soared by $ 932.4 million to $ 360.775 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that  foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 776.9 million to $ 339.211 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 $ 18.584 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 2.2  million to $ 1.444 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 3.6 million to $ 2.318 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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India experiences 21% drop in consumer gold buying in 2016: WGC

 
Even as global gold demand rose 2% in 2016 to reach 4309 tonnes (t), the highest level since 2013, and inspite of resilient consumer demand in the fourth quarter, India and China, the two leading gold markets, experienced a drop in consumer buying in the year, faling 21% and 7%, respectively.
 
According to the World Gold Council’s (WGC) latest Gold Demand Trends report, Indian demand also faced a raft of challenges throughout the year, including regulatory changes, culminating in the surprise demonetisation policy, which severely hampered demand in both the jewellery and retail investment sectors.
 
“The Indian market faces a challenging time in 2017. We anticipate many of the headwinds that affected demand in 2016 to continue into this year, but we are confident that the Government's move towards a more transparent gold market will ensure that gold remains an important asset class for millions of people in India," Mr. Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, said.
 
In China, jewellery demand was dampened due to a high gold price throughout much of the year, coupled with constrained levels of supply in Q4, owing to a tightening of currency controls in the country, the report said.
 
The report said global gold demand was largely driven by inflows into gold-backed Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) of 532t, the second-highest year on record, as investors responded to concerns over future monetary policy, geopolitical uncertainty and negative interest rates.
 
Continued global economic and political uncertainty, most notably Brexit, the US election and currency weakness in China, helped to boost overall investment demand by 70%, to a four-year high of 1,561t.   The price dip in November led to a strong recovery in the bar and coin market in the final quarter of 2016, although this did not offset weak demand in the first three quarters; annual demand reached 1,029t, down 2% year-on-year.
 
Mr. Hewitt said: “2016 saw an unprecedented degree of political upheaval, which underpinned huge institutional investor flows into gold. Retail investors – having been subdued for most of the year - responded quickly to the price fall in Q4, a fact reflected by a surge in demand in the physical market. With an equally uncertain political and economic environment likely in 2017, we expect investment demand to remain buoyant.”
 
While overall investment demand rose sharply, it was counterbalanced by declines in both jewellery, a 15% fall in 2016 to 2,042t, and central bank purchases. Central banks faced a challenging backdrop, with increased pressure on foreign exchange reserves resulting in demand falling by 33% to 384t for the year. Despite this, 2016 was the seventh consecutive year of net purchases by central banks.
 
The report said total supply reached 4,571t in 2016, an increase of 5% compared with 2015. 
 
Growth in the sector was supported by net producer hedging, which doubled in 2016, as gold producers saw an opportunity to secure cashflow at higher prices. It was also supported by high levels of recycling in Europe and the Middle East, driven by weak currencies and a high gold price. 
 
Mine production remained virtually unchanged from 2015 as a result of industry cost-cutting schemes, however, higher gold prices and lower costs have seen a renewed interest in exploration and increased project development is likely in the years ahead.
 
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The report said overall demand for FY 2016 went up by 2% from 4216t in 2015 to 4309t.  Total consumer demand for FY 2016 fell by 11% to 3,071t, from 3,436t in 2015.  Total investment demand grew by 70% to 1,561t in FY 2016 from 919t in 2015. Global jewellery demand was down 15% at 2,042t, compared with 2,389t in 2015.
 
Central bank demand was 384t, down 33% compared with 577t in 2015.        Demand in the technology sector decreased by 3% to 322t from 332t in 2015. 
 
Total supply grew by 5% to 4,571t this year from 4,363t during 2015. This was largely driven by recycling, which increased 17% to 1,309t from 1,117t in 2015.
 
During the fourth quarter of 2016, overall demand was 994t, a fall of 11% compared with 1,123t in Q4 2015. Total consumer demand increased by 5% to 989t from 940t in Q4 2015. Total investment demand fell 21% to 174t this quarter compared with 220t last year. Global jewellery demand was down 5% at 622t, compared with 653t in Q4 2015.
 
Central bank demand reached 114t this quarter, a fall of 32% from 169t in Q4 2015. Demand in the technology sector increased by 3% year-on-year, up to 84t compared with 82t during Q4 2015.
 
Total supply fell by 4% to 1,036t this quarter from 1,081t during Q4 2015.  Recycling increased by 5% to 250t during the fourth quarter, from 239t during Q4 last year, the report added.
 
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Arjun Dhawan appointed Whole Time Director & Group CEO of HCC

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Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) today appointed Mr. Arjun Dhawan as its Whole Time Director & Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from April 1, 2017.
 
He will succeed Mr. Rajgopal Nogja, who has decided to step down from the Group CEO’s post to pursue his own interests, a press release from the company said.
 
Mr. Nogja will continue in his present role till March 31, 2017. He will, however, continue to be a Delegate of the Board of Steiner AG, Switzerland, a HCC Group Company on a 20% time commitment basis, it said.
 
“Rajgopal’s leadership has made significant contribution to HCC’s success as the country’s premier infrastructure company during a difficult economic period. We understand and support his decision to step down and wish him well. Rajgopal will remain associated with the HCC Group by continuing to oversee Steiner AG, Switzerland,” said Mr. Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, HCC.
 
Mr. Dhawan will oversee the HCC Group businesses including HCC Limited, HCC Concessions Limited, Lavasa Corporation Limited, Steiner India and Charosa Wineries Limited. Prior to being appointed to this position, Mr. Dhawan has been the President & CEO of the Infrastructure business since November, 2009.
 
“Arjun is deeply familiar with the company's strategy and leadership team. HCC’s growing order backlog and the receipt of over Rs. 2000 crores of arbitration monies post the cabinet decision has poised HCC for success. We are confident the company will grow and deliver robust performance under his stewardship," Mr. Gulabchand said.
 
Mr. Dhawan holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a BA in Mathematics and Economics from Middlebury College. Prior to starting his career at HCC, Mr. Dhawan acquired global expertise in the area of investment management across various businesses and industries. As Managing Director with Arya Capital Management (Mumbai) and formerly with Trellus Management Company (New York), Mr. Dhawan oversaw material portfolios comprising equity investments and real estate assets. During an earlier stint with Banc of America Securities, he helped build a proprietary investment group focused on distressed strategic assets. As a former investment banker in New York with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Credit Suisse First Boston, Mr. Dhawan has executed large leveraged buyout, high yield, M&A and equity transactions across multiple industries and geographies.
 
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RBI lifts restrictions on ATM withdrawals, retains weekly limit of Rs. 24,000 for savings bank accounts

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today lifted the restrictions on daily withdrawal of cash from ATMs and on current accounts but retained the weekly limit of Rs. 24,000 on savings banks accounts.
 
The central bank had placed these and other restrictions following the November 8, 2016 decision of the Government to demonetise Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 notes as part of its efforts to fight the evils of black money, corruption, money laundering and terror financing. Some of the restrictions were gradually eased in the weeks that followed.
 
In a circular to all banks today, the RBI said that it had been decided to partially restore status quo ante following a review of the pace of remonetisation.
 
"Limits placed vide the circulars cited above on cash withdrawals from Current accounts/ Cash credit accounts/ Overdraft accounts stand withdrawn with immediate effect.
 
"The limits on Savings Bank accounts will continue for the present and are under consideration for withdrawal in the near future," the circular said.
 
"Limits ... placed on cash withdrawals from ATMs stand withdrawn from February 01, 2017. However, banks may, at their discretion, have their own operating limits as was the case before November 8, 2016, subject to 2 (ii) above.
 
"Further, banks are urged to encourage their constituents to sustain the movement towards digitisation of payments and switching over of payments from cash mode to non-cash mode," the circular added.
 
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Infosys engineer found dead near her workstation in Pune

 
25-year-old Infosys engineer found dead in her office
A 25-year-old software engineer working for IT services major Infosys was found dead near her workstation on the ninth floor of the company's office in the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park in Hinjewadi here last night, police said.
 
Police officials said the woman, K. Rasila Raju, who hailed from Kerala and had come to the office on Sunday afternoon on her day off to work on a project, appeared to have been strangulated with a computer cable in an apparent case of murder.
 
A security guard posted in the building was arrested this morning from Mumbai in connection with the case, and the police will produce him in court where they are expected to seek his remand.
 
Sources said the police zeroed in on the suspect after finding that he was the only one who had accessed the floor during the period she was there.
 
Police officials said Rasila was working on a project along with two of her colleagues in Infosys' Bangalore office. She was in touch with them till around 5 pm after which they did not hear from her.
 
According to them, her manager had tried to call her repeatedly but did not get any response. The manager then contacted the security personnel and requested them to check if Rasila was at her desk.
 
Security guards who went to check on her around 8 pm found her lying on the floor near her workstation, the police said.
 
According to the sources, police think the murder took place  between 5 pm and 6.30 pm, when the guard left the office at the end of his duty hours. He later left for Mumbai, but his movement was tracked through his mobile telephone and he was nabbed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in the metropolis, from where he was apparently planning to board a train to his home state, they added.
 
The police have informed Rasila's family in Kerala and they are expected to reach the city later today.
 
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India’s forex reserves soar by $ 932.4 million to $ 360.775 billion

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Rising for the second consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 932.4 million to $ 360.775 billion in the week ended January 20, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had increased by $ 687.9 million to $ 359.843 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that  foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 926.4 million to $ 338.434 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 $ 18.584 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 2.3  million to $ 1.442 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 3.7 million to $ 2.315 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 1286 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1286 crore across its various business segments.
 
A breakthrough from the company said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business had bagged contracts worth Rs. 1071 crore, including a major breakthrough order in the underground metro space secured from Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company Ltd for the design and construction of underground stations and associated tunnels for Package 2 in East-West corridor of the Ahmedabad metro project.
 
The prestigious engineering, procurement and construction contract comprises two underground stations at Gheekanta and Shahpur  with associated bored tunnels from Kalupur to Shahpur (3.3 km) and Ramp for Package 2.
 
“This is a significant win in the infrastructure space and we hope that this is a sign for many such projects involving vital  infrastructure that are in the offing,” said Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, Deputy Managing Director and President, L&T. “This mandate is truly representative of our expertise in building metro systems as we are already building some major metro projects in India and abroad. We are confident of delivering as per the requirements of our clients,” he added.
 
Another order has been bagged from a client for the construction of an iron ore berth at Paradip, Odisha. The scope of work includes 30m deep sheet pile driving, wagon tippler construction using coffer dam technology and ground improvement for stacker reclaimer, the release said.
 
An order has also been won for the construction of a technology-driven intake well structure using diaphragm wall technology at Purushotapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
 
The company said its Building & Factories Business had received an order worth Rs. 215 crore from a renowned client for the construction of a paint manufacturing facility at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. The scope of works includes civil and allied structural works for the facility, it added.
 
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India's forex reserves rise by $ 687.9 million to $ 359.843 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves increased by $687.9 million to $ 359.843 billion in the week ended January 13, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had dipped by $ 1.142 billion to $ 359.155 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 683.7 million to $ 337.508 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar termsinclude 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 $ 18.584 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $  million to $ 1.439 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 2.7 million to $ 2.311 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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OGPL, IL&FS to evaluate merging of wind businesses

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Orient Green Power Company Limited (OGPL) today said its Board of Directors had approved entering into exclusive discussions with IL&FS Wind Energy to evaluate a potential merger of the wind energy generation businesses of both entities.  
 
The resultant merged entity will have 1.2 GW of operating wind capacity, and will be by far the largest listed renewable energy company in India, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said OGPL is in the process of demerging its wind and biomass entities into two separate companies -- OGPL (Wind) and Bio-bijlee Green Power Limited (Biomass), respectively. 
 
Subsequent to the demerger, OGPL will have an operating wind capacity of 425 MW in FY 17 with an additional 43 MW under construction which will augment capacity of the combined entity in FY 18.  
 
IL&FS Wind has an operating capacity of 775 MW in FY 17. IL&FS is also developing an additional 228 MW which the merged entity will be in a strong position to acquire.
 
Both companies have entered into a non–binding agreement with an exclusivity period of 90 days. 
 
"At this stage, the companies would like to clarify that any potential outcome is subject to due diligence, definitive documentation and approvals by regulators, creditors, shareholders and other third parties," the release said.
 
Arpwood Capital has been engaged as the transaction adviser, it added.
 
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Mr. T. Shivaraman, Managing Director of SVL Limited and Vice- Chairman, OGPL, said, “We believe combining the resources and capabilities of both companies into a single organization will provide significant benefits to all stakeholders. This collaboration will result in the creation of a wind power generation company with a truly pan–India presence, and with the benefit of scale. The combined entity will benefit from an enhanced financial position, geographic diversity of wind projects and a variety of Power Purchase Agreements. It will also enjoy a strong pipeline of new projects."
 
"This transaction provides OGPL a platform to substantially grow its foot print. As the pioneering pure-play listed renewable energy company in India, this transaction will enable OGPL to set new industry benchmarks," he added.
 
Mr. Vibhav Kapoor, Group CIO of IL&FS said “This transaction will be value accretive for both parties. The combined entity will emerge as a market leading renewable energy company with a presence across all significant wind markets in the country."
 
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L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering wins orders worth Rs. 1700 crore

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L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering Limited (LTHE), a wholly-owned subsidiary of engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T), has won orders worth Rs. 1700 crore in its Construction Services business vertical.
 
A press release from L&T said the business had secured three new orders, with a combined value of Rs. 1200 crore, for pipelines and associated works in the western region of India, and also received an order for additional work, worth Rs. 500 crores, from an existing
contract.
 
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Reliance Industries reports 3.6% rise in net profit to Rs. 7,506 crore in Q3

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Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today reported a 3.6 percent rise in its net profit to Rs. 7,506 crore in the third quarter (Q3) of 2016-17 as compared to Rs. 7245 crore in the same period of the  previous year.
 
On a standalone basis, the company reported a 10% increase in its net profit to Rs. 8,022 crore in Q3.
 
A press release from the company on the highlights of its unaudited financial results for Q3 said its revenue (turnover) increased by 16.1% to Rs. 84,189 crore in the quarter. In its refining business, the company achieved a gross refining margin (GRM) of $ 10.8/bbl for the quarter.
 
“Our robust integrated platform, sound operational processes and business portfolio aligned to the needs of emerging India enabled us to deliver another record performance in challenging market conditions. The refining business has delivered eight consecutive quarters of double-digit GRMs, benefiting from the global demand for transportation fuels and improved product cracks," RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D. Ambani said.
 
"We successfully commissioned the first phase of Paraxylene plant during the quarter, further deepening the linkage between our refining and petrochemicals operations. Our growth strategy focuses on creating sustainable returns for our shareholders through value-enhancing, high-return projects. We are executing well on our projects under construction and remain confident on delivering on our growth plans.
 
"I am also delighted by our country’s eagerness to adopt to a digital life as witnessed by the record-breaking launch of Jio. Its comprehensive ecosystem has enabled millions of Indians to lead a richer life through its offerings," Mr. Ambani added.
 
The release said the growth in turnover in the quarter was primarily on account of  increase in prices of refining and petrochemical products, led by 13% increasein Brent crude prices. Revenue was also boosted by robust growth in retail business, it said.
 
Exports from the company's India operations were higher by 4.0% at Rs. 38,038 crore ($ 5.6 billion) as against Rs. 36,564 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.
 
The company's outstanding debt as on 31st December 2016 was Rs. 194,381 crore ($ 28.6 billion) compared to Rs. 180,388 crore as on 31st March 2016.
 
Cash and cash equivalents as on 31st December 2016 were at Rs.  76,339 crore ($ 11.2 billion) compared to Rs. 89,966 crore as on 31st March 2016. These were in bank deposits, mutual funds, CDs and Government Bonds and other marketable securities, the release said.
 
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Demonetisation: RBI enhances ATM withdrawal limit to Rs. 10,000 per day

The Reserve Bank of India on Monday enhanced the limits placed on withdrawals from automated teller machines (ATMs) and current accounts in the wake of the November 8 demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 bank notes.

RBI logo
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today enhanced the limits placed on withdrawals from automated teller machines (ATMs) and current accounts in the wake of the November 8 demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 bank notes.
 
A circular from the central bank to all banks said that, with immediate effect, the limit on withdrawals from ATMs had been enhanced from current limit of Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 10,000 per day per card. This will beoperative within the existing overall weekly limit of Rs. 24,000.
 
The limit on withdrawal from current accounts has been enhanced from the current limit of Rs. 50,000 per week to Rs. 1,00,000 per week and it extends to overdraft and cash credit accounts also, the circular added.
 
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India’s forex reserves dip by $1.142 billion to $359.155 billion

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India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 1.142 billion to $ 359.155 billion in the week ended January  6, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had risen by $ 625.5 million to $ 360.297 billion in the previous week, reversing a seven-week downtrend.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 241.8 million  to $ 336.824 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves decreased by $ 1.399 billion to $ 18.584 billion during the week, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) rose by $ 5.7 million to $ 1.438 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 9.4 million to $ 2.308 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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N Chandrasekaran appointed Chairman of Tata Sons

The Board of Directors of Tata Sons, at its meeting on Thursday, appointed Mr. N. Chandrasekaran, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), as its new Executive Chairman.

N Chandrasekaran
N Chandrasekaran
The Board of Directors of Tata Sons, at its meeting today, appointed Mr. N. Chandrasekaran, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), as its new Executive Chairman. 
 
"This is as per the unanimous recommendation of the Selection Committee. Mr. Chandrasekaran shall take charge from February 21, 2017," a press release from the Tata Group said.
 
The Board of Tata Sons said Mr. Chandrasekaran, 53, had demonstrated exemplary leadership as the CEO and MD of TCS.
 
"We believe he will now inspire the entire Tata group to realise its potential acting as leaders in their respective businesses, always in keeping with our value system and ethics and adhering with the practices of the Tata group which have stood it in good stead.”
 
Mr. Chandrasekaran has been the CEO and MD of TCS since 2009. A Tata lifer, he had joined the company in 1987. He was appointed as a Director on the board of Tata Sons on October 25, 2016.
 
On October 24, 2016, Tata Sons had, in a surprise move, announced the removal of Mr. Cyrus P. Mistry as its Chairman and named former Chairman Ratan Tata as Interim Chairman of the company.
 
The Board had also constituted a Selection Committee to choose a new Chairman. The committee comprised Mr. Ratan Tata, Mr. Venu Srinivasan, Mr. Amit Chandra, Mr. Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, as per the criteria in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons. 
 
The committee had been manadated to complete the selection process in four months.
 
Tata Sons is the promoter of all key Tata companies and holds the bulk of shareholding in these companies. The chairman of Tata Sons has traditionally been the chairman of the Tata group.
 
About 66 per cent of the equity capital of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts endowed by members of the Tata family. The biggest of these trusts are the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, which were created by the families of the sons of Jamsetji Tata.
 
The Tata Group comprises over 100 operating companies in seven business sectors: communications and information technology, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals.
 
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The group has operations in more than 80 countries across six continents, and its companies export products and services to 85 countries. .
 
Mr. Mistry is the younger son of Mr. Pallonji Mistry, the largest individual shareholder in Tata Sons. 
 
Born in 1963, Mr. Chandrasekaran, or Chandra, as is known, has a Master's degree in Computer Applications from Regional Engineering College, Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu.
 
Beyond the office, he is an avid photographer, and a passionate long-distance runner who has completed several marathons around the world including Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, Mumbai, New York, Prague, Stockholm, Salzburg and Tokyo.
 
Mr. Chandrasekaran was also appointed as a Director on the board of the Reserve Bank of India in 2016.
 
Under his leadership, TCS has generated consolidated revenues of US $16.5 billion in 2015-16. 
 
He has served as the Chairperson of the IT Industry Governors’ at the World Economic Forum, Davos in 2015-16. He has been playing an active role in the India-US and India-UK CEO Forums. He is also part of India’s business taskforces for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and Malaysia. He served as the chairman of NASSCOM, the apex trade body for IT services firms in India in 2012-13 and continues to be a member of its governing Executive Council.
 
“I am humbled and honoured to be chosen to lead a truly great institution that occupies a unique position in hearts of the people in India and the world. I am proud to have been part of the Tata family for over 30 years and assuming this position is a great privilege," Mr. Chandrasekaran said.
 
“I want to thank the Tata Sons board and Mr Ratan N Tata for their confidence in me to lead this trusted institution that has a rich heritage.   
 
“At the Tata group, we are at an inflection point. I am aware that this role comes with huge responsibilities. It will be my endeavour to help progress the group with the ethos, ethics and values that the Tata group has been built on," he added.
 
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Khanderi, second of Navy's Scorpene class stealth submarines, launched

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Khanderi, the second of the Indian Navy’s Scorpene class stealth submarines, was launched here today by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, paving the way for her sea trials.
 
Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff and a host of other dignitaries were present on the occasion at Mazagon Dock Shipyard Limited (MDL).
 
The submarine is expected to be delivered to Navy by the year end. She has been christened after her illustrious predecessor, an erstwhile ‘Foxtrot’ class submarine decommissioned in 1989, which is as per the traditions of Indian Navy, an official press release said.
 
The construction of six Scorpene submarines is presently being progressed at MDL under Project 75 with Transfer of Technology from DCNS, France as the collaborator. The first of the six  submarines, Kalvari, is presently undergoing sea trials and likely to be commissioned into Navy by mid-2017. 
 
These submarines, post induction, would form the core of the Navy’s conventional Submarine Arm, the release said.
 
Dr. Bhamre said that Project 75 Kalvari is a key milestone in self- reliance and indigenisation for the country. Admiral Lanba said that the fact that ‘’Khanderi” compares with the best in the world speaks highly of the experience and expertise Indian shipbuilders have gained over the years. 
 
He added that as Indian Navy celebrates Golden Jubilee of the submarine arm in 2017, the induction of Project 75 submarines would mark the beginning of a new chapter in the country's submarine capabilities.
 
The launching of Khanderi also marks a critical milestone event for the shipyard which earlier has delivered two Shishumar class submarines in the 1990s and has now strengthened its position as a submarine building yard for Indian Navy. Started as a small dry dock facility for East India Company, MDL has established itself as a frontline defence public sector undertaking, with indigenous construction of several ships and submarines for Navy such as P 15 B destroyers and P 17 A class stealth frigates being the latest.
 
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India's forex reserves go up by $ 625.5 million to $ 360.297 billion

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Reversing a seven-week downtrend, India’s foreign exchange reserves  rose by$ 625.5 million dollars to $ 360.297 billion in the week ended December 30, 2016, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had dipped by $ 935.2 million to $359.671 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 612.4 million to $ 336.582 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 19.983 billion while its special drawing rights (SDRS) increased by $ 4.9 million to $ 1.432 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) went up by $ 8.2 million to $ 2.299 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Veteran actor Om Puri passes away after cardiac arrest

Om Puri
Om Puri
Veteran actor Om Puri, one of the most versatile and intense artistes in Indian cinema, passed away at his residence here in the early hours of today after suffering a massive cardiac arrest.
 
He was 66.
 
The actor's friends, who reached his residence after hearing the news, said he appeared to have suffered a heart attack this morning. 
 
According to various sources, Puri had returned home last evening after a shoot. This morning, his driver raised an alarm when he got no response after repeatedly ringing the door bell. The actor was found dead when the door was forced open, they said.
 
Born on October 18, 1950, at Ambala in Haryana to a Punjabi family, Puri had earned an enviable reputation with his work, first in art cinema and later in mainstream commercial Indian, British, Hollywood and Pakistani films as well as in independent films.
 
Puri graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune and was also an alumnus of the National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi, from where he passed out in 1973 and had the well-known actor Naseeruddin Shah as a co-student.
 
He made his film debut in 1976 in Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal, based on the play of the same name by Vijay Tendulkar.
 
Puri was one of the leading lights, along with Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, in the so-called "art films" of those years such as Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992).
 
He won critical acclaim for his performances in films such as Aakrosh (1980), Disco Dancer (1982) and Ardh Satya. He got the National Award for Best Actor for Ardh Satya for his role as a police inspector.
 
He also acted in movies such as Maachis in 1996, Gupt (1997) and Dhoop (2003).
 
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In 1999, he acted in Kannada movie AK 47 and also in British comedy East is East, in which he played a first generation Pakistani immigrant in the north of England, struggling to come to terms with his far more westernised children.
 
He had a cameo in Richard Attenborough's highly-acclaimed film Gandhi (1982).
 
By the mid-1990s, Puri began appearing in character roles in mainstream Hindi cinema, which won him a following among the masses. He also appeared in British films such as My son the Fanatic (1997) and The Parole Officer (2001).
 
In Hollywood, he appeared in films such as City of Joy (1992) with Patrick Swayze; Wolf (1994) with Jack Nicholson; and The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) with Val Kilmer. In 2007, he appeared as General Zia-ul-Haq in Charlie Wilson's War, which starred Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
 
Puri also appeared in Hindi television serials such as Kakkaji Kaheen (1988) as a paan-chewing 'Kakkaji', which was a parody on politicians, and Mr. Yogi (1989) as a suave 'sutradhaar' who enjoys pulling the protagonist's leg. These two serials underlined the actor's abilities as a comedian.
 
He received critical acclaim for his performance in Govind Nihalani's television film Tamas (1987) based on a Hindi novel of the same name. 
 
He played comic roles in Hindi films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro which attained a cult status, followed by Chachi 420 (1997), Hera Pheri (2000), Chor Machaye Shor (2002) and Malamaal Weekly (2006).
 
In recent years, he appeared in Hindi films such as Singh Is Kinng, Mere Baap Pehle Aap and Billu. He was seen in the role of Mohammad Ali Kasuri in Road to Sangam (2009). In 2010, he appeared in The Hangman. In 2011 he was in the Indian action movie Don 2.
 
In 2014, he appeared opposite Helen Mirren in the comedy-drama The Hundred-Foot Journey.
 
Puri married Seema Kapoor in 1991 but they separated some months later. In 1993, he married Nandita Puri, with whom he had a son. The couple separated in 2013.
 
The Government honoured him with the Padma Shri in 1990. 
 
He had won the National Award for Best Actor for Arohan in 1982 and the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for Aakrosh in 1981, for Ghayal in 1990, Maachis in 1997, gupta in 1998 and Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha in 1999.
 
He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
 
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India’s forex reserves fall by $ 2.381 billion to $ 360.606 billion

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Going down for the sixth consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $ 2.381 billion to $ 360.606 billion in the week ended December 16, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had dipped by $ 887.2 million to $ 362.987 billion in the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone down by $ 2.355 billion to $ 3.369 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 19.983 billion while its special drawing rights (SDRS) declined by $ 9.9 million to $ 1.428 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 15.9 million to $ 2.292 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Sun Pharma to acquire branded oncology product Odomzo for global markets

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Pharmaceuticals major Sun Pharma today announced its plans to acquire a branded oncology product, Odomzo, from Novartis.
 
"The agreement has been signed between subsidiaries of both the companies and will close following anti-trust clearance and further closing conditions. The agreement has been signed for an upfront payment of US$ 175 million and additional milestone payments," a press release said.
 
Odomzo (Sonidegib) was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2015. It is a hedgehog pathway inhibitor indicated for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced basal cell carcinoma (laBCC) that has recurred following surgery or radiation therapy, or those who are not candidates for surgery or radiation therapy. 
 
Approximately 70% of the prescribers are dermatologists and rests are oncologists for this class of drug, the release said.
 
According to IMS Health, the hedgehog inhibitor class grew by 40% in the year to October 2016 as compared to the same period in the previous year.
 
"New data supporting the use of Odomzo were presented at ASCO in June 2016. Data from the BOLT trial showed continued antitumor activity for more than 26 months in patients treated with Odomzo with no new safety concerns.  At the 30-month follow-up, patients with locally advanced BCC had an overall response rate (ORR) as per central review of 56% with  Odomzo® 200 mg.1 The most frequent grade 3 and 4 adverse reactions occurring in more than 2% of patients were fatigue, decreased weight and muscle spasms," the release said.
 
Mr. Kirti Ganorkar, Global Head – Business Development – Sun Pharma, said, “Odomzo gives us an opportunity to meaningfully expand our already established branded dermatology business and support our expansion into Branded Oncology with a launched brand.  We see meaningful global potential for Odomzo by leveraging Sun Pharma’s existing dermatology and oncology infrastructure to provide an innovative product to BCC patients worldwide.”
 
Mr. Jesper Jensen, Head – Biologics and Dermatology, Sun Pharma, said, ”We look forward to collaborating with the medical community to bring this novel therapy to the market to patients suffering from locally advanced basal cell carcinoma.  Odomzo complements and enhances our existing dermatology franchise.  This acquisition has the potential to leverage and expand the relationships that our Levulan sales team have with the dermatologists that treat common pre-cancerous skin conditions.”
 
The release said non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer globally. BCC accounts for approximately 80% of non-melanoma skin cancers, accounting for over 2 million estimated cases in the US alone. BCC consists of abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin's basal cells, which line the outermost layer of the skin. It occurs most frequently on the head and neck, with the nose being the most common site. BCC that spreads from where it started to nearby tissue is called locally advanced and can be highly disfiguring. Advanced BCC is thought to represent roughly 1-10% of all cases of BCC. Worldwide incidence of BCC is rising by 10% each year due to factors such as an aging population and increased ultraviolet exposure. 
 
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