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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 1404 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1404 crore across various business verticals.
 
A press release from the company said these included orders valued at Rs 1014 crore bagged by its Power Transmission & Distribution business.
 
It said a major order had been received for an electrification upgradation work in the Middle East from a prestigious customer.
 
Another additional international order has also been bagged by Larsen & Toubro (Oman) LLC, a subsidiary of L&T, for an additional third and fourth transformer unit of 132/33kV, 125 MVA 
at Madinat Barka and Al Khadra Grid Stations from Oman Electricity Transmission Company Limited.
 
The company's Heavy Civil Infrastructure business secured an additional order worth Rs. 390 crore from an ongoing metro job in the international market, the release added.
 
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Homi Bhabha National Institute gets nod for Off-Campus Centre in Bhubaneswar

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The Central Government, on the advice of the University Grants Commission (UGC), has accorded its approval to the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI), Mumbai, Maharashtra to start an off-campus centre at Bhubaneswar in the name of National Institute of Science Education & Research (NISER) with prospective effect.  
 
An official press release said that the Central Government is empowered under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956 to declare, on the advice of the UGC, an institution of higher learning as a Deemed to be University;
 
The Act allows for conduct of academic course/programmes, subject to review of the off-campus centre by the UGC biennially for six years and subsequently after every five year subject to usual terms and conditions as prescribed under the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 and its amendments in 2014 and 2015.
 
HBNI had submitted a proposal to Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2010 for establishment of an off-campus centre at Bhubaneswar in the name of National Institute of Science Education & Research (NISER). The proposal was examined by the UGC with the help of an Expert Committee in terms of the provisions of UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 and its amendments.
 
The UGC, vide its communication dated 4th February, 2016 conveyed its approval for declaring National Institute of Science Education & Research(NISER), Bhubaneswar as an Off-Campus Centre of Homi Bhaba National Institute (HBNI) subject to concurrence of the Ministry on amendments in Clause 12.03A of the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 as amended in the year 2014 and 2015, which relaxes the restrictions of six off-campuses to the Institutions Deemed to be Universities which are established and managed by the Government.
 
HBNI was declared as an as Institution Deemed to be University on the advice of the UGC on 3rd July 2005 consisting of ten Constituent Units: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai; Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam; Centre for Advanced Technology (CAT), Indore; Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), Kolkata; Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP), Kolkata; Institute of Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar; Institute of Physics (IOP), Bhubaneswar; Harish-Chandra Research Institute (HRI), Allahabad; Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai and Institute of Mathematical Science (IMSc), Chennai.
 
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Energy sector to provide $1 trillion investment opportunity by 2030: Goyal

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The coal, power and renewable energy sectors will provide an investment opportunity of $ 1 trillion by 2030, Union Minister of State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal said here today.
 
Addressing a seminar on Power & Coal during the Make in India Week here, Mr Goyal said, “The efforts of Government have ushered the power sector in a new level of growth altogether which provides for the sector a possible investment opportunity, between 2015 & 2020, a five year period, of about $ 250 billion."
 
“When I extrapolate that to a 15-year programme until 2030 the coal, power and renewable sector alone provides $1 trillion opportunity. In fact, the ADB has calculated a $ 2.3 trillion opportunity by 2035,” he added.
 
“When I talk about $1trillion investment by 2030, it’s a well defined area wise plan -- what will go into transmission, what will go into opening of new mines, how will we bring technology into the coal sector and what will be our push towards energy efficiency,” the Minister said.
 
Factors like new coal generating plants which will be environmentally superior plants and ensuring that the distribution sector works as a vibrant profitable business for the state discoms have been drawn out in great details, he said. He said this provided a great opportunity for investors, both domestic and foreign.
 
Referring to the present availability of sufficient power and coal in the country, Mr Goyal said, “We have to look at the future and we are engaged in a massive roll out across the value chain of the power sector, be it the fuel availability, be it the expansion of our generating power, massive investment on the transmission side -- to ensure that the nation has a seamless grid across the length and breadth of this large country and adequate support to strengthen the distribution sector."
 
Efforts were also on to reduce losses at the distribution level and ensuring economies of scale with large scale roll out of these programmes would help us keep tariff low, competitive and affordable, he added.
 
Mr. Goyal said the government was also focusing on addressing the severe problem of losses, utilization of surplus labour, curbing losses in the transmission side and power thefts.
 
Thus a turnaround in the sector could be ensured without putting consumers under stress while ensuring “adequate power supply to every farmer, every citizen of this country,” the Minister said.
 
Referring to UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana), launched in November last year, to financially rejuvenate state electricity distribution boards, Mr Goyal said it was designed on the back of subsidies or government intervention.
 
It is a bottom up programme being conceptualised by the joint endeavours of all stakeholders of the power sector, he said.
 
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Talking about rural electrification, he pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken up the task of rural electrification on mission mode and assured that in 1000 days (from August 15, 2015), there will be no village in this country without electricity access.
 
The ministry has taken the challenge to the next level and has committed to reach electricity to 18,452 villages even faster in 730 days. “Nearly one- third of the work is already done and as we speak, about 5279 villages have already been electrified in the last 10 months.
 
“By March 31, we expect over 6500 villages to be electrified and by  March 31, 2017, our efforts will be to cover 80 to 90% unelectrified  villages across the country. By 2019, the effort is to ensure that every home gets electricity connection, most of them through the grid, some of them through distributed energy and micro grids,” he added.
 
India’s share in LED consumption has gone up from 0.1% to 12% in just two years on the global scale. The LED programme will save 100 billion units of electricity and $ 6.5 billion every year for consumers, he added.
 
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Sterlite Grid partners Sharper Shape for UAV technologies for power transmission industry

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Independent transmission systems developer Sterlite Grid has entered into a strategic partnership with Finland's leading unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)solutions provider Sharper Shape to deliver cutting-edge UAV technologies for the power transmission industry in India.
 
The alliance will provide business solutions to transmission line operators and help them in reducing delivery time of projects, and increase the uptime of power systems, a press release from Sterlite Grid said.
 
The agreement was signed in Mumbai yesterday by Mr. Pravin Agarwal, Chairman, Sterlite Power Grid Ventures, and Mr. Samuel 
Salmenlinna, Chairman, Shaper Shape, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä in Mumbai. 
 
“We are glad to have partnered with the company that has done 
pioneering work in utilizing drones for infrastructure projects. India has a tremendous requirement to improve the construction-speed, and operating-efficiency of transmission systems. This partnership will play a critical role towards meeting that need," Mr. Pratik Agarwal, Vice Chairman, Sterlite Power Grid Ventures said, 
 
Mr. Salmenlinna, said, “We are glad to have found a partner in Sterlite Grid that has been instrumental in bringing globally proven technologies to the field of transmission projects. We are confident that our partnership will add tremendous value to the Indian power sector and we will play our role in delivering 24X7 power for all.”
 
“I’m happy to see Finnish technology being applied in the Indian market,” said Juha Sipilä, the Prime Minister of Finland, “This agreement is a good example of the business activity between Finland and India."
 
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The release said Sterlite Grid’s role in the alliance would involve setting up operations in India involving all customer-facing activities. Sharper Shape would offer software solutions, technical know-how and capabilities required to fulfill the scope of the work. 
 
"Today, Indian power transmission sector is facing serious challenges in terms of overburdened network, execution delays and high T&D losses. Sterlite has been at the forefront of introducing new technologies to the power delivery sector. It was the first to introduce helicopter-aided construction, LiDAR-based route inspection, and was also the first private company to commission a transmission project ahead of schedule. 
 
"This partnership would help by eliminating manual inspections which take a lot of time and offer very low accuracy. UAVs offer timely information from remote places which are inaccessible through manual methods, thereby making operations and 
maintenance more efficient and reducingtechnical losses. To ensure uninterrupted electricity for all, UAVs can play a critical role in preventing breakdowns by offering predictive analytics," the release added.
 
Sterlite Power Grid Ventures Limited is a subsidiary of Pune-headquartered Sterlite Technologies Limited.
 
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Major fire breaks out on stage at Make in India Week cultural show in Mumbai

A major fire broke out during a cultural programme organized as part of the Make in India Week at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai on Sunday evening, but no casualties were reported.

 
Major fire at Make in India event, no casualties
 
A major fire broke out during a cultural programme organized as part of the Make in India Week at Girgaum Chowpatty here this evening, but no casualties were reported.
 
The fire started while a group of dancers were performing on stage and, as soon as the gravity of the situation became apparent, the organisers moved in swifty to get all the performers off the stage and the audience, which included many prominent Bollywood personalities and other dignitaries, to safety.
 
The flames were noticed below the stage a little after megastar Amitabh Bachchan had addressed the gathering and quickly engulfed the entire stage, fanned by strong winds from the sea nearby.
 
Others present included actors Hema Malini, Aamir Khan and Vivek Oberoi. While Oberoi was about to go onto the stage from the wings for a performance, Khan was in his make-up van a little distance away. Both Oberoi and Khan were all praise for the swift and orderly manner in which the evacuation was handled without creating any panic.
 
Also present were Maharashtra Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, several ministers, foreign delegates and political leaders. The Chief Minister stayed back at the venue to oversee the rescue efforts. The programme was organized by the Government of Maharashtra.
 
The stage was completely gutted in the blaze and the rest of the programme was called off, official sources said. The fire brigade managed to contain the fire to the stage and prevented it from spreading to the rest of the venue, they added.
 
More than a dozen fire tenders and an equal number of water tankers and several senior fire officers rushed to the spot.
 
The exact cause of the fire could not be established immediately, and Mr. Fadnavis said a comprehensive inquiry owuld be conducted into the incident to ascertain the reasons.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had inaugurated the Make in India Week in Mumbai yesterday, spoke to Mr. Fadnavis over the telephone and extended all support from the Government of India.
 
The Chief Minister said a fire safety audit was conducted prior to the programme and all standard operating procedures were followed. He said several fire fighting equipment were stationed at the venue to deal with any eventuality.
 
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Modi invites global investors to be part of India's unfolding story

Stating that it was the best time ever to be in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday invited global investors to be a part of the country's unfolding story and promised them cleaner, simpler, pro-active and business-friendly policies and procedures as well as a transparent, stable and predictable tax regime.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the inauguration of the Make in India Week, in Mumbai on February 13, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the inauguration of the Make in India Week, in Mumbai on February 13, 2016.
Stating that it was the best time ever to be in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today invited global investors to be a part of the country's unfolding story and promised them cleaner, simpler, pro-active and business-friendly policies and procedures as well as a transparent, stable and predictable tax regime.
 
Inaugurating the Make in India Week here, he said his government was particularly keen to scale up investments in next generation infrastructure.
 
"This includes  roads,  ports,  railways,  airports,  telecom,  digital networks  and clean energy. We are also investing  in our social,  industrial  and agricultural infrastructure  to give better income  and quality of life  to our people," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that, so far, was the government's implementation capacity that was the biggest bottleneck but it had now speeded up processes, leading to faster turnaround of projects.
 
Stressing that India's youth, who form 65 percent of its population, was its greatest strength, he said the Make in India campaign was launched to create employment and self-employment opportunities for them.
 
"We are working aggressively towards making India  a Global Manufacturing Hub.  We want  the share of manufacturing  in our GDP  to go up to 25 per cent  in the near future. We were also aware that under the pressure of this campaign, the government machinery will be required to make  a number of corrections  on the policy front. We are committed  to make India  an easy place to do business," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said the government wanted to present to the world the enormous opportunities that India offered as a base for manufacturing, design, research and development.
 
"Make in India Week  is an opportunity to take stock of how we have performed. And what could be the road ahead. This event will show-case different aspects of the progress that we have made. This is the biggest multi-sectoral event and exhibition ever held in India," he said.
 
"In a year’s time,  Make in India has become the biggest brand  that India has ever created. Both within and outside the country, it has captured the imagination of people, institutions, industries,  media and the political leadership," he said.
 
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"This is because: it reflects our collective desire to engage in productive activities. It also reflects the global need to produce things at lower cost. It is forcing us to make corrections and increase efficiency. It has emboldened us  to integrate with the world on equal terms," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said India was today, perhaps, the most open country for foreign direct investment (FDI), with most sectors put on automatic approval route.
 
"Our FDI inflows have gone up by 48 per cent since the day my Government came into office.  In fact, FDI inflow in December, 2015 was the highest ever in this country. This is, at a time, when global FDI has fallen substantially," he said.
 
He reiterated the government's commitment not to resort to retrospective taxation and assured investors that it was swiftly working towards a transparent, stable and predictable tax regime.
 
He went on to list the steps taken by the government to improve Ease of Doing Business. He also mentioned various other measures, such as policy corrections in the defence sector, transparent allocation of natural resources and fast-tracking of arbitration proceedings. He said an effective IPR Policy and patent regime, as well as a bankruptcy law were on the anvil.
 
He said efforts were being made to remove the bottlenecks affecting investments and growth.
 
Mr. Modi said the results had been encouraging, with India becoming the fastest growing large economy. "We will end  this fiscal year with well over seven per cent growth in GDP. IMF,  World Bank, OECD, ADB and other institutions have projected  even better growth in the coming days," he said.
 
He said the country would, this year, record its highest ever coal production. He said 2015 saw India achieve its highest ever generation of electricity.
 
"India’s highest ever kilometers of new highway contracts awarded  was in 2015. Similarly, the increase in railway capital expenditure  was the highest this year," he said.
 
Mr. Modi spoke about the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), tax free infrastructure bonds, and other initiatives to enhance financing.
 
"India is a land of immense opportunities. Fifty of our cities are ready for setting up Metro Rail Systems. We have to build fifty million houses. The requirement of road, rail and waterways is enormous. There is no time for incremental changes. We want a quantum jump. We have also decided to do this  in a cleaner and greener way. That is why we have made a commitment to the world community at the recent COP-21 meeting in Paris.  Hence,  we are going for renewable energy in a big way - 175 gigawatts," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said that, with its various strengths, India offered investors a solid platform to test and launch their making and designing capabilities. In addition, its maritime location made it easy to market products in several other continents, he said.
 
"Campaigns like Digital India and Skill India have been designed  to prepare people to take part in this process. We have launched  financing schemes which are dedicated to promote entrepreneurship," he said.
 
"We are soon going to strengthen this process further under the banner of Stand-up India. I feel that, today, our domestic industry and investors are feeling much more confident and optimistic  in spite of an uncertain global situation," he said.
 
"When we started the Make in India campaign, manufacturing growth in the country was 1.7 per cent. This year it has improved substantially. In the current quarter, manufacturing growth is expected be around 12.6 per cent," he said.
 
Mr. Modi gave figures about the increase in investment proposals and the growth in production in various sectors such as motor vehicles, mobile phones, electronics, software exports and so on.
 
He assured investors that, if they took one step, the government would walk two with them.
 
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India's forex reserves rise by $ 2.332 billion to $ 351.484 billion

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Continuing an uptrend for the third consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 2.332 billion to $ 351.484 billion during the week ended February 5, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 1.589 billion to $ 349.152 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex  reserves, had gone up by $ 1.807 billion to $ 328.438 billion in the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves increased by $ 456.6 million to $ 17.697 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) increased by by $ 51.6 million to $ 4.04 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 16.8 million to $ 1.31 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Founders increase stake in Arré, B. Saikumar takes controlling interest

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Ahead of its launch, the founders of Arré, a content platform from UDigital Content, have realigned their shareholding in the company.
 
A press release from the company said that Mr. B Saikumar, Managing Director and co-founder has taken controlling interest in Arré, with Mr. Ajay Chacko continuing as CEO and Co-Founder. 
 
Mr. Sanjay Ray Chaudhuri (RayC), who was co-founder of TV18, has come in as co-founder in Arré.
 
Promoter Ronnie Screwvala said, “Arré is now all set to launch and all of us are tremendously excited about its potential and trajectory. I am pleased that Sai and team are taking a controlling shareholding in Arré and I will continue as an investor with a significant minority shareholding supporting the company and mentoring the leadership team."
 
Mr. Saikumar added, “I am thrilled to welcome RayC aboard as co-founder and we are delighted and honoured to have Ronnie continue to guide us. The trailer to our first show 'I Don’t Watch TV' is now out and we look forward to the launch of Arré in the next few weeks."  
 
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BSE Institute Ltd. launches online platform bsevarsity.com

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BSE Institute, a wholly owned subsidiary of BSE Limited, launched its online platform - www.bsevarsity.com - here yesterday.
 
“We have always aimed at spreading our wings across those regions and countries where there is a need and demand of financial markets education, but is not available," Mr. Ambarish Datta, MD & CEO of BSE Institute Ltd. said.
 
"Our government’s Digital India initiative movement has taken pace with more and more people becoming digitally savvy and well connected to the online world. 
 
"www.bsevarsity.com  is one such platform which offers finance courses and learning to anybody and everybody in this world on the click of a button, whether you are on your desktop/laptop or on your smartphone," he said.
 
A press release from BSE Institute said www.bsevarsity.com had the facility of online payment as well. 
 
"BSE Institute has a team of dedicated professionals working on the content of these courses offered, which are in line with the current industry requirements," it said.
 
According to it, the step had enabled BSE Institute Ltd to bring to learners across the globe the knowledge and insights into the capital markets industry, garnered by BSE over the past 140 years.
 
"BSE, the fastest stock exchange in the world, with a trading speed of 6 micro seconds has been enabling high speed trading. The launch of www.bsevarsity.com – 'the new way of high speed learning', will now enable learning at the speed of thought," it said.
 
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The release said the platform would help BSE Institute to address the major challenge faced by students and professionals because the knowledge that they acquire from conventional sources is not only out dated but also not aligned to application in the workplace environment.  
 
"This is an even bigger challenge for students from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, who have almost no access to industry experts. A wide range of audiences will be addressed ranging from undergraduate programs, to post-graduate programs, to niche programs for senior professionals," it said.
 
The platform offers a wide range of courses in the areas of finance, capital markets, banking and insurance. The courses contain video lectures, live webinars, discussions, case studies and assignments leading to a certificate from BSE Institute. 
 
"The established strengths of the BSE Institute - industry aligned contemporary curriculum taught by leading market experts - will now be available to learners all over the world at the click of a mouse. In addition, students from the remotest parts of the country will now be able to learn global best practices and acquire global certifications and aspire for international jobs," the release added.
 
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Citi Foundation grants Rs. 130 million to advance financial inclusion in India

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The Citi Foundation has announced an investment of Rs. 130 million ($2 million) under the 2015 India Innovation Grant Program to support eight innovative programs that will accelerate and deepen financial inclusion in India.
 
Launched in 2014, the India Innovation Grant Program encourages local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop scalable and replicable programs that improve consumer financial decision making while utilizing technology and behavioral insights to lower the cost of delivery and expand financial inclusion in India, a press release from the foundation said.
 
The initiative is aligned with India's national financial inclusion agenda aimed at improving access to financial services and products for low income populations.
 
Mr. Pramit Jhaveri, Chief Executive Officer, Citi India, said, "The India Innovation Grant Program – now in its second year - is a pioneering approach by the Citi Foundation to source and scale innovative financial inclusion interventions. The 2015 initiative carries a strong focus on producing positive and measurable financial behavioral change among women and youth by encouraging the accumulation and preservation of financial assets."
 
The 2015 India Innovation Grant Program experienced an overwhelming response; of the 300 expressions of interest received, programs from eight NGOs were selected after a robust review and approval process.
 
The eight non-profit organizations that are part of the 2015 India Innovation Grant Program include: Navya Disha Trust, Swadhaar FinAccess, Anudip Foundation for Social Welfare, American India Foundation Trust, Pratham Education Foundation, MelJol, Kalighat Society for Development Facilitation, and Grameen Foundation.
 
The Citi Foundation's support in India helps to address socio-economic challenges with innovative and strategic grants, which will help enhance and facilitate financial inclusion, promote responsible financial behavior via increased financial literacy and create new income-generating opportunities for individuals from low income households.
 
Since 1999, the Citi Foundation has supported more than 35 non-profit organizations, benefiting an estimated 2.5 million individuals across India.
 
Digital Inclusion of Young Aspirants (DIYA) by Anudip Foundation for Social Welfare aims to provide a digital livelihood skills training program to 1,000 low-income youths in Vishakhapatnam and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. The 12-week training program is focused on IT, English, workplace readiness and financial literacy and aims to place at least 720 participants in jobs upon completion.
 
Livelihood Retention and Financial Sustainability Program for the Youth by Pratham Education Foundation aims to create a viable financing model to fund vocational skills for the underprivileged, equipping low-income students with the skills and knowledge required, enabling 7,000 participants to secure employment.
 
Technology-Enabled Financial Education in Schools (TEFES) by American India Foundation Trust will develop a standardized and measureable financial education model that can be scaled and institutionalized. It will deliver financial education to 12,000 children in Class 7 integrated with the school curriculum using technology and innovative teaching tools.
 
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Scaling Digital Financial Services & Financial Education by Grameen Foundation will serve at least 27,000 low-income women in Uttar Pradesh who will be trained by 400 frontline workers to uptake the mobile channel for financial services. The program will also roll out relevant mobile financial services and develop e-learning solutions to adequately train frontline workers.
 
Ascent – Women-led Financial Inclusion by Kalighat Society for Development Facilitation aims to provide financial services to 50,000 urban low-income women in Kolkata by building the capacity of women self-help groups, their leaders and federation of slum and pavement dwellers. In doing so, the initiative will create an enabling environment in which community members will move towards financial inclusion by changing their behavior, using their own assets and engaging more confidently with formal financial services.
 
Expansion of Innovation in Aflateen Financial and Social Education Program via Aflatoun and Aflateen by MelJol aims to reach over 40,000 children and 160,000 adolescents. Teachers, facilitators, caregivers and self-help group leaders will be trained to deliver home, community and school-level lessons to enhance financial literacy and promote entrepreneurship. This year's program will also feature an entrepreneurship lab to help participants discuss and scale their ideas, develop proposals and start their businesses.
 
Buzz India by Navya Disha will be expanded to economically empower 6,000 rural women in Karnataka by providing them with tailor-made tools and solutions for business and financial growth. Last year, the program helped participants increase savings by 117% and drastically reduced their reliance on private money lenders. The 2015 grant will enable Navya Disha to deepen engagement, expand geographic coverage and leverage technology and program ambassadors.
 
‘Money Management Tool' app by Swadhaar FinAccess will encourage bank account usage amongst women in Mumbai. The app will capture the socio-economic information of households or individuals suggest appropriate financial products and will be linked to participants' bank accounts to enable transactions. The app will be piloted amongst 250 women with peer educators as coaches and will then be rolled out to 5,000 community members in Mumbai.
 
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Gold demand resilient in 2015 as central banks, consumers spur strong H2 recovery

Global gold demand in 2015 was virtually flat compared to 2014 at 4,212 tonnes (t), recovering from a challenging start to the year and rebounding as a result of sustained buying from central banks and a strong second half from China and India.
 
According to the World Gold Council’s (WGC) latest Gold Demand Trends report, this was particularly evident in the retail investment sector, where bar and coin purchases were led by China and Europe, with strong support from the United States, as investors took advantage of weaker prices amid a softening economic backdrop, financial turbulence and ongoing geopolitical tension.
 
Global investment demand for the full year 2015 grew by 8% to 878t from 815t in 2014. Bar and coin demand remained steady in 2015 as investors took advantage of a weaker price in Q3. The ETF market saw a slowdown in outflows: 133t in 2015, compared to 185t in 2014.  
 
Q4 2015 witnessed a continuation of these trends with a number of key regions experiencing double digit growth, a press release from WGC said, quoting the data.
 
Overall jewellery demand for the full year 2015 was down 3% to 2,415t from 2,481t in the previous year. Following a slower start to the year, the third and fourth quarters combined produced the strongest second half-year total for gold jewellery in 11 years. Q4 2015, saw steady levels of jewellery demand, at 671t compared to 677t in the same period last year, with retailers reporting an increase in sales around the Indian festival period.
 
Central bank demand for the full year 2015 saw a small uptick from 584t in 2014 to 588t in 2015 as the need for further diversification was reinforced by a tumbling oil price and reduced confidence in the global economy. Demand in Q4 continued to be strong, up 25% to 167t from 134t in Q4 2014, making this the 20th consecutive quarter of net purchasing.
 
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Gold demand in Q4 showed further positive signs, following a strong third quarter. In India both the investment (60t) and jewellery (173t) sectors were up 6%, boosted by the festival season. In China, which has witnessed economic turmoil, consumer uncertainty and currency weakness, gold demand held up well, particularly in the investment sector up 25% to 48t for the quarter.
 
Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, said: “In a year that saw global economic and stock market turmoil, the first US interest rate rise in nine years and falling oil prices, demand for gold remained resilient, coming in at 4,212 tonnes for the full year. Official sector purchases, combined with strength in the Asian markets and continuing momentum in the US and Europe, reinforced gold’s credentials as a portfolio diversifier, a wealth preservation tool and a hedge against a range of risks.”
 
“Looking ahead, physical demand will continue to be supported by strong central bank purchases, and continued buying of jewellery, bars and coins  by households across the world, led by India and China. If we just look at the year to date, the investment case for gold is as strong as ever. While stockmarkets have wobbled, gold has performed well," he said.
 
Full year 2015 saw China (985t) and India (849t) continue their dominance in the global gold market, accounting for close to 45% of total global gold demand during 2015, with annual consumer demand in both up 2% and 1%, respectively.
 
Total supply for the year experienced a drop of 4% to 4,258t for the Full Year 2015 compared to 4,414t in 2014. This is reflective of both recycling hitting multi-year lows and mine production growth falling to its lowest level since 2008. Mine production contracted in Q4, the first quarterly contraction since 2008, as cost cutting took effect. Q4 2015 reported a more substantial decline of 10% to 1,037t compared to 1,152t in the same period last year as primary production slowed as a result of weaker gold prices, mine closures and project delays.
 
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Mukesh Ambani, Sam Pitroda elected members of National Academy of Engineering in US

Mukesh Ambani and Sam Pitroda
Mukesh Ambani and Sam Pitroda
Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D. Ambani and technocrat Sam Pitroda have been elected as foreign members of the National Academy of Engineering in the United States, considered one of the highest honours for engineers globally.
 
Mr. Ambani has been elected as a member for engineering and business leadership in oil refineries, petrochemical products, and related industries.
 
Mr. Pitroda, chairman of The Pitroda Group, was elected for development of rural telecommunications infrastructure for India.
 
Since its establishment in 1964, the NAE has elected 232 foreign Members – only 10 of them are Indian citizens, though there are some people of Indian origin in the US list of 2,277 members.
 
The election process involves filing of a nomination with a proposer and seconder, based on which existing members vote. 
 
Mr. Ambani has been elected the very first time he was nominated. The proposer in his case was former Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Chairman Raghunath Mashelkar.
 
The other distinguished Indian engineers elected so far are: Mr.  Ratan Tata (2013), Dr. Pradip, TCS (2012), Dr. P Ramarao, ARCI (2012), Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, Infosys (2010), Dr. PC Kapur, IIT Delhi (2009), Prof. M M Sharma (2006), Dr. RA Mashelkar (2003), and Dr. Roddam Narasimha, JNACSR (1989).
 
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Justice Dhirendra Waghela to be Chief Justice of Bombay High Court

Justice Dhirendra Waghela
Justice Dhirendra Waghela
The President has, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transferred Mr. Justice Dhirendra Hiralal Waghela, Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court, as the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.
 
An official press release said Mr. Justice Waghela had been directed to assume charge of the office of the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court on or before February 16, 2016.
 
The President has also transferred Mr. Justice Hemant Gupta, Judge of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, as a Judge of the Patna High Court. He has also been directed to assume charge of his office in the Patna High Court on or before February 16, the release added.
 
Born on August 11, 1954 at Rajkot, Gujarat in a family of artists and artisans, Mr. Justice Waghela took a degree in commerce from the  P.D.Malaviya Commerce College there and also worked in his family business for five years. 
 
He topped Saurashtra University in General LL.B. and Special LL.B. in 1974 and 1975, respectively. He stood second in the university in the LL.M. examinations in 1976-77.
 
He practised exclusivel in the Labour and Industrial Courts for many years and served as Secretary of the Labour Court Practitioners’ Association for several successive years and represented the Labour Bar of Saurashtra in the agitation for a High Court bench in Saurashtra. 
 
In 1990, he shifted his practice to Ahmedabad, appearing in many cases for poor workmen without charging any fees. He also represented several government bodies and companies as well as the Gujarat Pollution Control Board. 
 
In the year 1999, he was called to the bench and assumed his office as Additional Judge of the High Court of Gujarat on 17th September, 1999. 
 
He was elevated as the Chief Justice, High Court of Karnataka in March, 2013. He was then transferred to Orissa High Court, where he took oath as Chief Justice on June 4, 2015.
 
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L&T Technology Services, eCamion, Ryerson University, Anna University join hands for energy storage project

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Ms. Kathleen Wynn, Premier of Ontario, Canada unveiled an energy storage project at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between L&T Technology Services; Ontario based eCamion Inc, Ryerson University, Canada and Anna University, India.
 
A press release from Larsen & Toubro (L&T) said the project combines eCamion’s modular storage solution with L&T Technology Services’ Smart Inverter solution, designed with cutting edge technology for both Indian as well as global markets. 
 
Grid simulation and testing is conducted in Ontario by Ryerson University while the onsite integration and deployment will be managed by Anna University on the Tamil Nadu Generation & Distribution Company grid, it said.
 
Benefits that will be tested include greater grid reliability and enhancement of renewable energy production on the electricity distribution system. The energy storage prototypes will be pursued for worldwide commercialization, with an emphasis on developing markets.
 
“The Government of Ontario is delighted to support the co-development of clean technologies that enhance the stability of the grid while ensuring environmental and climate change mitigation benefits. It is impressive to see Ontario’s own eCamion, Ryerson University and one of India’s leading engineering services provider come together for R&D and deployment in the Tamil Nadu grid," Ms. Wynn said.
 
“L&T Technology Services is pleased to collaborate with a Canadian company to bring this project to fruition. With the global reach of L&T Technology Services, the cross-pollination and development and designing of smart inverter solutions to benefit the developing market is a unique proposition. The partnership between Indian Department of Science and Technology and the Ontario Government is a step in the right direction to foster more collaboration,” stated Dr Keshab Panda, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at L&T Technology Services.
 
“Industry and academic partnerships such as this one demonstrate the value of research and the power of bringing companies, universities and government together,” said Mohamed Lachemi, Interim President, Ryerson University.
 
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“Anna University is excited to partner in bringing this novel technology to our distribution system and further the integration and demonstration site for India’s first deployment of community energy storage,” said Dr. Chandramohan, Anna University, Centre for Urban Energy.
 
The project is the outcome of two years of discussion on collaborations between the partners. The Government of Ontario and the Government of India via Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Global Innovation Technology Alliance (GITA) is supporting the project through “Ontario – India” Research Initiative.
 
eCamion is a Canadian company based out of Scarborough, Ontario. L&T Technology Services is headquartered in Vadodara, Gujarat.
 
“This is the kind of collaboration needed to successfully bring niche and clean technologies to the market.  Strategic partnerships allow SME’s to punch above their weight and accelerate novel products locally and globally and we are proud Ontario is leading the way,” said Hari Subramanian, Chief Executive Officer at eCamion.
 
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Govt. to repurchase Inflation Indexed Bonds - 2023

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The Government of India has notified the repurchase of “1.44 per cent Inflation Indexed Government Stock-2023” through reverse auction for an aggregate amount of Rs. 6,500 crore (face value).
 
The repurchase will be undertaken to prematurely redeem the Government stock by utilising surplus cash balances, a press release from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said.
 
The repurchase of the Government stock is purely ad hoc in nature, it said.
 
Auction for securities will be on price based auction format. The auctions will be conducted using multiple price method. 
 
Bids for the auction should be submitted in electronic format on the Reserve Bank of India Core Banking Solution (E-Kuber) system on February 11, 2016 (Thursday) between 10.30 a.m. and 12.00 noon. The result of the auctions will be announced on the same day, the release said.
 
The release said RBI reserved the right to decide on the quantum of purchase of individual securities; accept less than the aggregate amount of Rs. 6,500 crore; and accept or reject any or all of the offers either wholly or partially without assigning any reason.
 
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India's forex reserves rise by $ 1.589 billion to $ 349.152 billion

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Rising for the second consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves went up by $ 1.589 billion to $ 349.152 billion during the week ended January 29, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had risen by $ 355.1 million to $ 347.563 billion during the previous week, reversing a three-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 $ 1.584 billion to $ 326.631 billion in 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 $ 17.24 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) increased by by $ 3.8 million to $ 3.988 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 1.2 million to $ 1.293 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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BSE Institute Ltd launches new zone for startups

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BSE Institute Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of BSE Ltd, has announced the launch of a new accelerator for startups, which will be housed in the iconic P. J. Towers, the home of BSE, Asia's oldest stock exchange.
 
The zone has been set up as a technology based incubator under the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. 
 
Zone Startups India is the only stand-alone accelerator program in India to be accredited this support, a press release from BSE Institute said.
 
“At the BSE Institute, we are happy to participate in the startup India initiative through this venture. This is a true nation building activity, since in addition to providing a platform for budding startups, we also contribute to job creation through the hundreds of jobs and internships at the startups that we are mentoring in our accelerator," Mr. Ambarish Datta, Managing Director and CEO, BSE Institute, said.
 
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"With India becoming the youngest nation in the world, job generation is a critical priority and the startups emerging from this zone will support job creation. The startup zone will also be a major innovation hub that will evolve technology based solutions to address a gamut of business challenges," the release said.
 
The occasion also marked the completion of two years of successfully mentoring over 66 successful startups in India, the release said.
 
The occasion was graced by a ministerial delegation from Ontario, Canada, led by Premier Kathleen Wynne.
 
The accelerator has been set up by BSE Institute in collaboration with Ryerson Futures Inc (Toronto), the technical arm of Ryerson University in Ontario, Canada.
 
Zone Startups India aims to recreate in India the successful model of the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), Ryerson's flagship program in Toronto, the release added.
 
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RInfra sells cement business to Birla Corp

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Reliance Infrastructure Limited (RInfra), a part of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, today said it had sold its subsidiary Reliance Cement Company Private Limited (RCCPL) to Birla Corporation Limited, the flagship company of the M. P. Birla Group.
 
RCCPL has an integrated cement capacity of 5.08 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) at Maihar, Madhya Pradesh and Kundanganj, Uttar Pradesh and a grinding unit of 0.5 MTPA at Butibori, Maharashtra.
 
Under the transaction, Birla Corporation Limited will acquire the 100% shareholding of RInfra in RCCPL, a press release from the company said.
 
"The transaction is subject to approval of the Competition Commission of India and other applicable regulatory approvals," it said.
 
SBI Capital Markets Limited acted as the financial advisors to R Infra for this transaction. 
 
RInfra is one of the largest infrastructure companies in India, developing projects through various special purpose vehicles (SPVs) in high growth sectors within the infrastructure space such as Power, Roads, Metro Rail, Cement and Defence. It is also a leading utility company having presence across the value chain of power businesses -- Generation, Transmission, Distribution and Power Trading.
 
Birla Corporation Limited has presence across cement and jute, with cement constituting over 90% of its revenues. With a total operational cement capacity of around 10 MTPA, it has units in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
 
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Reliance Entertainment, Friday Filmworks partner to form Plan C Studios

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Anil D. Ambani-owned Reliance Entertainment and prolific filmmaker producer duo Neeraj Pandey and Shital Bhatia’s Friday Filmworks, today announced the formation of Plan C Studios, a 50:50 joint venture for production of movies.
 
Apart from being a widely appreciated and acclaimed director who has also tasted success at the box office, Pandey is also an accomplished writer and has won multiple awards for his films.
 
His first film “A Wednesday” made in 2008, went on to win the National Award. Subsequently, he directed “Special 26” in 2013, and “Baby” in 2015, both widely appreciated and huge commercial successes. He is currently on the floors with “M S Dhoni – The Untold Story”.
 
A press release from Reliance Entertainment said the combination would benefit from the creative and production strength of Friday Filmworks, and leverage the global marketing and distribution capabilities of Reliance Entertainment.
 
Plan C Studios will kick start with a period drama, Rustom, directed by Tinu Suresh Desai and starring Akshay Kumar. Other projects include Pandey’s cinematic version of his novel, Ghalib Danger and films helmed by Shivam Nair, Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, Anurag Singh, Anvita Dutt and Shree Narayan Singh.
 
Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, Group Managing Director, Reliance Group, said, “We are delighted to partner with creative minds like Neeraj and Shital. This relationship is in line with our continuing strategy in the media and entertainment business, of partnering with like minded and successful individuals, while playing the role of supportive investors on our part.”
 
Pandey said: “The partnership with Reliance Group is very significant and welcome, as it enables us to further raise the bar on our continued strategy of developing cutting edge commercial content. We like to keep pushing the envelope, and this partnership will greatly expand our vision.”
 
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“The alliance with Reliance Group and our continued success at the box office are a welcome and clear vindication of our focused strategy. Reliance's significant global and domestic distribution and monetization network, not just perfectly complements our distinct content, but will also ensure highest value creation for all our partners and stakeholders,” added Bhatia.
 
Reliance Entertainment has produced, distributed and released more than 170 films in multiple Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali.
 
Internationally, Reliance Entertainment has partnered over the past seven years with iconic film producer and director, Steven Spielberg, in the formation of DreamWorks Studios and announced the continuation of that relationship with the formation of Amblin Partners in December 2015.
 
Bridge of Spies, the latest release from this partnership, has received six Oscar nominations and nine BAFTA nominations this year, including Best Picture and Best Director.
 
In India, Reliance Entertainment has recently formed a partnership with Phantom films, a company created by directors and producers.
 
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RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.75%, CRR at 4.0%

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept unchanged its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) at 6.75 percent and the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks at 4.0 percent of net demand and time liability (NDTL).
 
In his Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2015-16, RBI Governor Raghuram G. Rajan said the central bank would continue to provide liquidity under overnight repos at 0.25 per cent of bank-wise NDTL at the LAF repo rate and liquidity under 14-day term repos as well as longer term repos of up to 0.75 per cent of NDTL of the banking system through auctions.
 
He said it would continue with daily variable rate repos and reverse repos to smooth liquidity.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 7.75 per cent.
 
Dr. Rajan said the current momentum of growth was reasonable, though below what should be expected over the medium term. 
 
"Underlying growth drivers need to be rekindled to place the economy durably on a higher growth trajectory. The revival of private investment, in particular, has a crucial role, especially as the climate for business improves and fiscal policy continues to consolidate. The Indian economy is currently being viewed as a beacon of stability because of the steady disinflation, a modest current account deficit and commitment to fiscal rectitude. This needs to be maintained so that the foundations of stable and sustainable growth are strengthened," he said.
 
"The Reserve Bank continues to be accommodative even as it leaves the policy rate unchanged in this review, while awaiting further data on the development of inflation. Structural reforms in the forthcoming Union Budget that boost growth while controlling spending will create more space for monetary policy to support growth, while also ensuring that inflation remains on the projected path of 5 per cent by the end of 2016-17," he said.
 
Dr. Rajan said inflation had evolved closely along the trajectory set by the monetary policy stance. 
 
"With unfavourable base effects on the ebb and benign prices of fruits and vegetables and crude oil, the January 2016 target of 6 per cent should be met. Going forward, under the assumption of a normal monsoon and the current level of international crude oil prices and exchange rates, inflation is expected to be inertial and be around 5 per cent by the end of fiscal 2016-17.
 
"However, the implementation of the VII Central Pay Commission award, which has not been factored into these projections, will impart upward momentum to this trajectory for a period of one to two years. The Reserve Bank will adjust the forecast path as and when more clarity emerges on the timing of implementation. Vagaries in the spatial and temporal distribution of the monsoon and the impact of adverse geo-political events on commodity prices and financial markets add additional uncertainty to the baseline," he said.
 
"Prospects for the rabi harvest are improving slowly. The near-term outlook for industrial activity may be constrained by adverse base effects in Q4 and still weak exports, although the pick-up in corporate profitability on the back of declining input costs may provide an offset. Some categories of services are likely to gain momentum on expectations of higher activity in coming months, though the aggregate state of activity remains muted. On balance, therefore, GVA growth for 2015-16 is kept unchanged at 7.4 per cent with a downside bias," he said.
 
Dr. Rajan said that, for 2016-17, growth was expected to strengthen gradually, notwithstanding significant headwinds.
 
"Expectations of a normal monsoon after two consecutive years of rainfall deficiency, the large positive terms of trade gain, improving real incomes of households and lower input costs of firms should contribute to strengthening the growth momentum. Yet, still weak domestic private investment demand in a phase of balance sheet adjustments, re-emergence of concerns relating to stalled projects, excess capacity in industry, sluggish external demand conditions dampening export growth could act as headwinds. Based on an assessment of the balance of risks, GVA growth for 2016-17 is projected at 7.6 per cent," he said.
 
"In keeping with the Government’s Start-up India initiative, the Reserve Bank will take steps to ease doing business and contribute to an ecosystem that is conducive for growth of start-ups. These measures will create an enabling framework for receiving foreign venture capital, differing contractual structures embedded in investment instruments, deferring receipt of considerations for transfer of ownership, facilities for escrow arrangements and simplification of documentation and reporting procedures. A detailed statement is being issued separately," he said.
 
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Dr. Rajan said that, since the fifth bi-monthly statement of December 2015, global growth had slowed, with the ongoing weakening of activity in major emerging market economies (EMEs) outweighing the recovery in some advanced economies (AEs).
 
On the domestic front, economic activity lost momentum in Q3 of 2015-16, pulled down by slackening agricultural and industrial growth, he said.
 
"The north-east monsoon season ended in December with a deficiency of 23 per cent relative to the long period average (LPA). By end-January, rabi sowing was mildly deficient relative to a year ago, as well as to the quinquennial average in respect of all crops, except coarse cereals. Rural incomes will continue to be supported by allied activities such as dairy and horticulture, which now contribute as much to GDP as food grains," he said.
 
"In the first two months of Q3 of 2015-16, industrial activity slowed in relation to the preceding quarter. This mainly reflects weak investment demand with some deceleration of capital goods production. Stalled projects continue to remain high, and there is a decline in new investment intentions, perhaps on the back of low capacity utilization. While revenue growth in manufacturing has been modest, the fall in costs, partly because of a decline in commodity prices, and partly because of improvements in manufacturing efficiency, have resulted in relatively stronger profitability. 
 
"The Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey suggests a modest expansion of activity likely in Q4. In January 2016, the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) expanded to a four-month high on, inter alia, resumption of output by firms affected by the December floods as well as on new domestic and export orders," the RBI said.
 
"Lead indicators of the services sector are mixed. Construction activity is still tepid, as evidenced by weak growth in cement production, though the pick-up in road construction bodes well for future activity, especially if supported by construction in the major proposed industrial corridors. Railway freight growth is still weak, though it may reflect lower transport needs for inputs like coal, and competition from roadways. However, the services PMI rose to a ten-month high in December on improvement in new business orders and upbeat expectations," it said.
 
"Retail inflation measured by the consumer price index (CPI) rose for the fifth month in December across all constituent categories. While the upturn in December essentially reflected unfavourable base effects, the ongoing seasonal decline in prices of fruits and vegetables could temper headline inflation in the near-term. Prices of cereals recorded modest increases despite the adverse monsoon, indicative of effective supply management. On the other hand, pulses inflation continued to remain elevated, reflecting structural mismatches.
 
"CPI inflation excluding food and fuel rose for the fourth successive month. Excluding petrol and diesel from this category, inflation remained flat. A breakdown into goods and services categories shows that while goods inflation declined, services inflation has been sticky since September 2015 across housing, transport and communication, medical and other services. Household inflation expectations remain elevated and the rate of increase in corporate staff costs picked up. On the other hand, rural wage growth has been muted.
 
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"Liquidity conditions tightened in the second half of December with advance tax outflows. Tightness spilled over into January 2016 on the back of a seasonal pick-up in demand for currency, restrained spending by the government and a pick-up in bank credit growth, in relation to deposit mobilisation. In order to mitigate these conditions, the Reserve Bank injected liquidity through variable rate term repos of varying tenors ranging from overnight to 56 days, besides provision through the regular liquidity windows. The average daily liquidity injection (including variable rate overnight and term repos) increased from ? 1,200 billion in December to about ? 1,345 billion in January. In addition, the Reserve Bank also injected ? 200 billion through open market purchase operations on December 7 and January 20. In response, money market rates remained close to the policy rate with a marginal downside bias. Bank credit in the form of personal loans and non-bank flows from both domestic and foreign sources grew strongly.
 
"India’s exports remained in contraction mode for the thirteenth successive month in December, although there are indications of a sequential bottoming out. In volume terms too, the rate of decline appears to be moderating. While softer petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) and commodity prices helped to contain the trade deficit, these benign effects were offset by a spike in the quantum of gold and POL imports. As a consequence, the trade deficit widened during December in relation to preceding months, though the overall current account deficit is likely to remain well contained and easily financed. Net foreign direct investment (FDI) and non-resident deposits have remained robust in relation to last year. The persisting decline in oil prices may, however, impact the flow of remittances from the Gulf region where fiscal positions are deteriorating rapidly. Portfolio investment also recorded some outflows since November. Nevertheless, as on January 22, 2016, foreign exchange reserves stood at US$ 347.6 billion – an accretion of US$ 5.9 billion during the current financial year so far," the statement added.
 
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13 college students on picnic drown off Murud in Maharashtra

 
13 students drown during picnic at Murud beach in Raigad
 
At least 13 students of Pune's Inamdar College, who were on an excursion in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, drowned in the Arabian Sea off the Murud beach in Raigad district of Maharashtra today, official sources said.
 
Navy and Coast Guard personnel had joined the efforts by the district administration, the police and the disaster management cell, among others, to search for one student still listed as missing, they said.
 
Police in Raigad told NetIndian over the telephone that the victims included seven women and three men. 
 
While details of the incident are still being ascertained, various sources said the tragedy occurred around 4.30 pm when about 20 students waded into the sea for a swim and were caught unawares by the strong currents.
 
Immediately after receiving information about the tragedy, the Coast Guard sent an interceptor craft and two helicopters to the scene to help in the rescue operations.
 
Some of the students managed to swim back to safety while the others were swept away, the sources said. The victims were in the 19-23 age group.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was extremely saddened and shocked by the incident and conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims.
 
In all, there were 116 students, eight teachers and three supporting staff members in the group from the college.
 
"We are shocked by this tragedy. We are making all efforts to help the students and their families with the help of the local villagers and police. A team of our trustees has already left Pune for Raigad for rendering further assistance," Mr. P. A. Inamdar, chairman of the college, told journalists in Pune.
 
Trustees and staff members of the college as well as parents of the students rushed to Murud on hearing about the tragedy, even as hundreds of tourists and local people gathered at the beach.
 
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India's forex reserves rise by $ 355.1 million to $ 347.563 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 355.1 million to $ 347.563 billion during the week ended January 22, reversing a three-week downtrend, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had slid by $ 1.726 billion to $ 347.208 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex  reserves, had gone up by $ 371.7 million to $ 325.047 billion in 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 $ 17.24 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDR) declined by $ 12.5 million to $ 3.984 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the Indian Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $  4. million to $ 1.292 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Naresh Bedi honoured with V Shantaram Award as MIFF 2016 gets underway

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Veteran wildlife filmmaker Naresh Bedi was honoured with the V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award as the 14th edition of the Mumbai International Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films (MIFF 2016) got underway here today.
 
The festival was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore in the presence of veteran film maker Shyam Benegal, MIFF brand ambassador Jackie Shroff, Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA) President Mike Pandey and Festival Director Mukesh Sharma.
 
The Lifetime Achievement Award, comprising a trophy, shawl and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, is instituted in memory of legendary film maker V Shantaram, who was head of the Films Division in the past. 
 
Bedi, eldest of the Bedi Brothers, is counted amongst the foremost wildlife documentary makers, being the first Asian to receive the Wildscreen Red Panda award. A graduate of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Bedi has made films which have been shown on National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, Channel 4, and so on.
 
He is credited with filming several rare wildlife moments.  His film ‘Cherub of the Mist’ about the life of two red pandas was the opening film of the festival.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Col. Rathore said digital technology had ushered in a new era in film making and was greatly contributing to the documentary film movement. He said MIFF was playing a pivotal role in promoting documentary and short film culture in the country by providing a platform for filmmakers to exchange ideas.
  
“It is heartening to note that our film makers, despite great financial hurdles, have gone ahead and made excellent films, displaying a mature approach while dealing with social and economic issues. Such films should not remain unseen,” he said.
 
Col Rathore said the Government would consider making one of the Doordarshan channels, perhaps DD Bharati, a platform to promote documentary films.  He asserted that the Government hadno interest in curbing the creativity of filmmakers and added that the I&B Ministry had set up a committee under Mr. Benegal to look into the revamp of film certification process.
 
Mr. Fadnavis said the Maharashtra government was ready to allot land in Film City in Mumbai for setting up a National Institute of Animation & Short Films.
 
"Documentary films are close to my heart, I myself want to make a documentary film tracing my mother’s journey from Turkmenistan to India," actor Shroff said.
 
MIFF 2016,  a biennial event organized by the Films Division of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and supported by the Government of Maharashtra will feature 30 films in international competition, including 12 from India and 27 films in national competition vying for the Golden Conch Award.  The festival will screen a total of 385 films over the six-day event.   
 
The screenings will be held at the Films Division theatres, Russian Cultural Centre and Sophia College theatres at Pedder Road, Mumbai. Screenings will also be held at the Mumbai University auditorium Kalina, Mumbai and Doordashan Kendra (Worli). 
 
Apart from international and national competition, there will be screening of  films in MIFF Prism, Indian premieres, Jury retrospectives, Animation and award winning films  from different countries, Children’s documentary films, North East package, Films Division and PSBT (Public Service Broadcasting Trust) films and homages.
 
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The festival also presents special packages from leading international documentary film festivals like Berlin, Dresden, DokLeipzig  from Germany and Leiria from Portugal.
 
Some of the best documentaries of 2015, among them Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi’s Among the Believers, a new documentary about the roots of religious extremism in Pakistan and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence, a Danish documentary about Indonesian killings of 1965-66, and Rinku Kalsy’s For the Love of a Man, a documentary about the cult of adulation for Rajinikant in South India, are among the top attractions at the festival.
 
The International Jury for the Festival comprises prominent documentary makers Don Askarian from Germany, Jesper Andersen from Denmark, Mathiue Roy of Canada, Siddharth Kak and Gitanjali Rao. Mike Pandey, Uma DaCunha, Biju Dhanapalan, Audrius Stonys (Lithuania) and Jane Yu (Taiwan) are the members of the National Jury.
 
The festival will also have master classes by jury and eminent film makers, Camera and Digital workshops, Producers’ Forum, Panel discussions, Seminar and Open Forum by IDPA, under the MIFF Hub. Cash prizes worth Rs 60 lakh would be distributed for the winners in various categories along with Golden Conch Awards.
 
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Parliamentary panel on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice to visit Rajasthan, Maharashtra

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The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, consisting of 10 MPs from Rajya Sabha and 20 MPs from Lok Sabha, will visit Rajasthan and Maharashtra from tomorrow to February 1.
 
The committee will visit several organizations like Rajasthan Electronics and Instrumentation Ltd. on “Status of Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism and Government’s policy of reservation in Organisations of the Central Government", Rajasthan High Court Complex and National Law University in Jodhpur, Rajasthan on January 28-29, an official press release said.
 
The committee will proceed to Mumbai on January 29 and visit organizations like Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers, SIDBI, Industrial Development Bank of India, MTNL and Cotton Corporation of India. 
 
It will also visit visit Nagpur Central Jail to review the functioning of the Legal Aid Clinic there on January 31, the release added.
 
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RailTel launches free wi-fi service with Google at Mumbai Central station

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RailTel Corporation of India, a public sector company under the Ministry of Railways, today announced the launch of free high-speed public wi-fi services in partnership with Google at the Mumbai Central railway station here.
 
The project, part of RailTel's plans to make high-speed Internet available to people who travel through railway stations every day.
 
The services are provided through RailTel's extensive fiber network across the country.
 
The project was announced last September during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California in the United States.
 
A press release from Google said the company had committed to work with Indian Railways and RailTel to expand the network quickly to cover 100 of the busiest stations by end of this year and would eventually roll out the service in 400 railway stations across India. 
 
"Even with just the first 100 stations online, this project will make wi-fi available to millions of Indians - who pass through railway stations every day, making it the largest public wi-fi project in India and among the largest in the world by number of potential users," it said.
 
Designed to offer users the best Internet experience, Railwire Wi-Fi will be available  to any user who has a working mobile connection on a smartphone. Users will be able to easily stream a high definition video while they are waiting, research their destination, or save some videos for offline viewing, download a book or a new game for the journey, the release said.
 
RailTel Chairman and Managing Director R. K. Bahuguna said, “Our intent was to fulfill Indian Railway’s vision of providing railway passengers access to high speed Internet through our optical fiber communication network. Affordable smartphones have made it possible for the common men to experience the power of Internet. With our partnership with Google, we are very confident of rolling out a robust, scalable service at Railway stations in the near future.”
 
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Mr. Rajan Anandan, VP & Managing Director, Google South East Asia and India said, “We’re delighted to launch India’s first high speed public wi-fi service in partnership with Indian Railways. Bringing affordable Internet access to millions of people is an important part of making the Internet both easily accessible and useful for more than 300 million Indians who are already online, and the nearly one billion more who are not. By end of this year over 10 million people will be able to enjoy this experience at 100 stations spread across the country.  I would like to thank the Indian Railways for their support and vision to provide a world class high speed public wi-fi network at the stations.”
 
“We’ve focussed on delivering a network that is at par with the high speed public wi-fi network that is available to users in developed countries. The network is built for wide coverage and high capacity usage unlike a typical wi-fi hotspot which offers connectivity in limited area and poor experience. This network will extend to cover both long distance train station and the local train station in Mumbai Central. The next four stations we’ll bring online will be Allahabad, Patna, Jaipur and Ranchi and others will follow very shortly," said Gulzar Azad, Head of Access Project, Google India.
 
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