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Urjit Patel assumes charge as 24th Governor of Reserve Bank of India

Dr. Urjit R. Patel has assumed charge as the 24th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, effective September 4, after serving as Deputy Governor since January 2013.

Urjit Patel
Urjit Patel
Dr. Urjit R. Patel has assumed charge as the 24th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), effective September 4, after serving as Deputy Governor since January 2013.
 
He was re-appointed as Deputy Governor on January 11 this year after completion of his first three-year term of office. On August 20, he was named as the new Governor of the RBI for a three-year term.
 
Dr. Patel, an economist, has succeeded Dr. Raghuram G. Rajan, whose three-year term ended yesterday.
 
Among his assignments as Deputy Governor, Dr. Patel chaired the Expert Committee to Revise and Strengthen the Monetary Policy Framework. Representing India, he actively participated in steering the signing into force of the inter-governmental treaty and the Inter-Central Bank Agreement (ICBA) among the BRICS nations, which led to the establishment of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), a swap line framework among the central banks of these countries.
 
Prior to joining the RBI as Deputy Governor, Dr. Patel was Adviser (Energy & Infrastructure), The Boston Consulting Group.
 
Born on October 28, 1963, he is a Ph.D. (Economics) from Yale University (1990) and M. Phil. from Oxford (1986). He has been a non-resident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution since 2009.
 
Dr. Patel was with International Monetary Fund (IMF) between 1990 and 1995 and worked on the U.S., India, Bahamas and Myanmar desks. He was on deputation (1996-1997) from the IMF to the Reserve Bank of India and provided advice on development of the debt market, banking sector reforms, pension fund reforms, real exchange rate targeting and evolution of the foreign exchange market. 
 
He was a consultant (1998-2001) to the Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs, New Delhi.
 
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Some of his previous assignments include as President (Business Development), Reliance Industries Limited, Executive Director and Member of the Management Committee, Infrastructure Development Finance Company Limited (IDFC) (1997-2006), Member of the Integrated Energy Policy Committee of the Government of India (2004-2006), and Member of the Board, Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Limited.
 
Between 2000 and 2004, Dr. Patel worked closely with several central and state government high level committees, such as, Task Force on Direct Taxes, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Advisory Committee (on Research Projects and Market Studies), Competition Commission of India, secretariat for the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Infrastructure, Group of Ministers on Telecom Matters, Committee on Civil Aviation Reforms, Ministry of Power’s Expert Group on State Electricity Boards and High Level Expert Group for Reviewing the Civil & Defence Services Pension System, Government of India.
 
Dr. Patel has authored technical publications, papers and comments in the areas of Indian macroeconomics, public finance, infrastructure, financial intermediation, international trade and the economics of climate change.
 
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Growth rate should be high for benefits to percolate down: Jaitley

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the growth rate should be high if benefits of growth are to percolate down to all, especially the minorities.
 
Addressing a conference on Empowerment through Education – ‘Taalim-o-Tarbiyat’ here, Mr Jaitley said post 1991 economic liberalization, the acceleration of growth rate has led to substantial reduction in poverty. 
 
"All communities have shown reduction in poverty levels, but it is uneven.  While higher growth rate impacts all, by way of offering economic opportunities, certain minorities have lagged behind and those areas need to be addressed," he said.
 
While poverty rate among Muslim community has gone down from 52% in 1991 to about 27% in 2011, some communities like Jains and Parsis have overcome the challenge of poverty, he said.
 
Mr Jaitley said education was the key to improving the conditions faster which would aid conversion of skills into opportunities. Madarasa is an important institution in imparting education for children of Muslim community he said and complimented the efforts of leaders like Zafar Sareshwala, for blending technology and traditional teachings.
 
The Finance Minister said the world was facing two kinds of challenges – political and economic. He asserted that India was on a better wicket on both the fronts. 
 
“Barring occasional skirmishes, often magnified by media, there are no major incidents in our country. Our society continues to speak in one voice,” he added. 
 
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Mr  Jaitley asserted that the framers of the Constitution, recognizing the diversity of India, had provided for minority protection and affirmed that the government remained committed to the welfare of the minorities.
 
Speaking about economic challenges, Mr Jaitley said that, amidst the global slowdown, the Indian economy had managed to register 7 to 7.5 % growth, which he felt was commendable.
 
He called upon the members of the minority community to empower themselves through education, acquire skills and tap opportunities availing of benefits like MUDRA Scheme and other programmes.
 
Mr. Sareshwala, Vice Chancellor of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University, and organizer of the ‘Taleem-o-Tarbiyat’ Conference appealed to youth and women of Muslim community to engage with the government and take benefits of diverse welfare schemes.
 
An MoU was signed on the occasion between Maulana Azad National Urdu University and UFO Digital Cinema for imparting English, Mathematics and Science education through satellite.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs.1458 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders valued at Rs. 1458 crore across various business segments.
 
These included orders worth Rs. 654 crore bagged by its Power Transmission & Distribution Business in the international and domestic markets, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said that, in the international market, the company ahd secured a contract from National Grid Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of Saudi Electricity Company, for the construction of a 132 kV double circuit transmission line and 132 kV cabling in the Rafah, Arar, and Sakaka areas of the kingdom.
 
On the domestic front, an order, under Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), has been bagged from Kanpur Electricity Supply Co. Ltd. (KESCo), it said.
 
The urban electrification project involves design and construction of new substations, feeders and upgradation of electricity network of Kanpur city in Uttar Pradesh. The project is expected to improve availability, reliability and quality of power supply in the district.
 
Another order has been received from Power Grid Corporation of India for the construction of gas insulated substations in Vadodara, Navasari, Pune, and Gwalior cities. An additional order has also been bagged in an ongoing project of the business.
 
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The release said the company's Building & Factories Business had bagged projects worth Rs. 518 crore in the domestic market. It said a breakthrough order had been secured from a reputed paint manufacturing company for the construction of a new manufacturing facility in Karnataka. The project scope includes civil and allied structural works.
 
The business has bagged a residential project at Bengaluru from a renowned customer, it said. The order involves civil and structural works for the construction of seven towers of G+14 and 11 towers of G+15 with two levels of common basement.
 
The company said its Smart World & Communication Business had secured an order worth Rs. 200 crore from Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation (BSEDC) for the implementation of a wi-fi project in the campuses of government universities, constituent colleges and other premier academic institutions in Bihar.
 
Additional orders worth Rs. 86 crore have been bagged by other businesses from various ongoing projects, the release added.
 
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GoAir announces discount for defence, paramilitary, police personnel

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Low-cost carrier GoAir today said it would extend a 10 percent discount on base fares for serving and retired personnel of defence, paramilitary and police and their dependents.
 
The offer is available across the GoAir network, a press release from the airline said.
 
“This is a gesture in recognizing their services to the country and extending gratitude to our forces and their families. We believe that these fares will help our security forces plan their personal travel in advance and help them re-connect with their friends and families easily," said Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, CEO, GoAir.
 
The offer is available through the GoAir website, GoAir ticketing counters, GoAir Call Centre and travel agents.
 
Under the scheme, the defence, paramilitary and police personnel and their families will have to carry valid identification proof while travelling. Rebooking or rescheduling of tickets can be done at the current existing fare, the release added.
 
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Mukesh Ambani launches Reliance Jio, offers free voice calls, lowest data rates

Reliance Jio, the subsidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited, on Thursday announced the launch of its services with free voice calling across India and the lowest data rates anywhere in the world through an all-IP, made-for-mobile video, 4G LTE, future-ready network.

 
Reliance Jio launched, free domestic calls, no roaming charges
Reliance Jio, the subsidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), today announced the launch of its services with free voice calling across India and the lowest data rates anywhere in the world through an all-IP, made-for-mobile video, 4G LTE, future-ready network.
 
The company's offerings were unveiled by Mr. Ambani at RIL's 42nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) here with a series of announcements that have the potential to completely disrupt the market and pose major challenges for incumbents in the sector.
 
Among other things, Mr. Ambani announced that 4G LTE smart phones would be available at prices starting from Rs. 2,999 and Jio-Fi, a router for those with 2G and 3G devices, for Rs. 1999 to offer an incentive for "all Indians" to migrate to the company's "data strong network".
 
He said customers would get Jio Apps subscription worth Rs. 15,000 complimentary until December 31, 2017.
 
He said there would be instant eKYC (Know Your Customer) digital activations, in stores and at home, using the Aadhaar document. Customers would ahve MyJio, a digital companion app for every stage of their "digita life".
 
Among other things, he also announced a special offer for students with 25 percent more data and incentives to use more and Jio services for enterprises to transform them to digital businesses.
 
The company is also offering  white-glove, exclusive services and features for its platinum customers.
 
"We are announcing today, that starting coming Monday, the 5th of September 2016, Jio's Data, Voice, Video and the full bouquet of Jio applications and content will be available for everyone, absolutely free, till 31st December 2016," he said. "We are calling this the Jio Welcome Offer."
 
 
 
Mr. Ambani said Jio's pricing principles were about "solving customer pain points".
 
"We have always put the customer first. And if this means changing the industry, then we are prepared to do so," he said.
 
He said all voice calls for Jio customers would be absolutey free, across the country, to any network and always, without any roaming charges. "Jio will put an end to voice call charges in India. No Jio customer will ever have to pay for voice calls again," he said.
 
Noting that current market practice is to charge a base rate of Rs 4,000 – 10,000 per GB of data, he said Jio would have a base rate which is more than at a 90% discount over the industry.
 
"Our data plans go even further, with an effective rate for data of only 5p/ MB, or Rs 50/ GB. And the more data you use, the lower the rate. I believe that these are the absolute lowest data rates anywhere in the world. Jio makes India the highest quality, most affordable data market in the world," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani noted that, today, there were more than 22,000 telecom tariffs across the country.
 
"Jio's pricing structure has 10 main plans. These plans are created to ensure that every user can easily find a plan that fits their budget and their data usage needs. Without getting lost in a forest of false choices. Today Indian citizens pay a low rate for voice services, and very high rates for data," he said.
 
He said there would be no "blackout days", no "bill shocks" and no "non-transparent, difficult to understand bills".
 
Jio will have price points starting from Rs 19 for the occasional data user, to a monthly Rs 149 plan for the light data user, upto a monthly Rs. 4,999 plan for the heaviest data user.
 
He said that in these plans Jio had provided the lowest LTE data rates in the world, with no separate upfront commitment to get these rates.
 
"Data packs available in the market have an effective rate of about Rs 250/ GB. With Jio, you pay 5 to 10 times lower – Rs 25-50/ GB depending on your data usage.
 
"Another highlight is unlimited night LTE data. This is designed to pass on the idle network capacity at night to our customers. We are also designing Jio applications in such a way that our customers can program their downloads to happen during night-time, when they have unlimited data. So, even when you are sleeping, the network is working for you to reduce your data cost," he said.
 
"We are at the beginning of a new era for humanity. In this era, if you are not digital, and if you don't have globally competitive digital tools and skills, you simply will not survive. You will get disrupted. You will be outcompeted. You will be left behind. You will become irrelevant. India and Indians cannot afford to be left behind," Mr. Ambani said.
 
"Today, India is ranked 155th in the world for mobile broadband Internet access, out of 230 countries. Jio is conceived to change this. I have no doubt that with the launch of Jio, India's rank will go up to among the top ten. 1.2 Billion Indians cannot be left behind as the world enters a new era. 
 
"We have the youngest population in the world. Give them affordable digital tools. Give them the skills. Give them the environment. They will surprise us," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani said mst legacy telecom providers hadnot built their networks for data or the Internet, but to support voice and SMS.
 
"As the Internet revolution caught on, they have had to retrofit their legacy networks to deal with data and IP as an afterthought," he said, adding that Jio, on the other hand, had ceated an all-IP network.
 
"The all-IP design also makes Jio's network the most extensive and future-proof network in the world. It is a network built for ever increasing volumes of data and the best that the Internet has to offer," he said.
 
He said Jio's 4G network already covers 18,000 cities and towns and more than two lakh villages. It would cover 90% of India's population by March 2017, he said.
 
He said Jio was the largest only-4G LTE network in the world, which had also deplyed the largest 100% voice over LTE (VoLTE) network for "crystal clear voice and video quality, instant call connectivity, the least call drops and a unique ability to use data and voice simultaneously".
 
Mr. Ambani also said that Jio had the only network conceived and born as a mobile video network from the ground up. "As we progress, the Internet could offer even more compelling content than video, things like virtual reality and augmented reality. Jio has the necessary foundation to be a leader in these areas as well," he said.
 
He said the network was future ready and could be easily upgraded to support even more data, as technologies advance on to 5G, 6G and beyond.
 
"Because of this, we will be able to provide an abundance of high quality, high speed data. And to transform India from a highly priced data market to one with the lowest data rates anywhere in the world," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani said that, as a result of the pro-active work done by Jio and Reliance Digital teams with all leading device manufacturers, more than 70% of all smartphones sold in the country are 4G LTE smartphones.
 
He went on to announce a line-up of "super-affordable" 4G LTE smartphones under its LYF brand, starting at Rs 2,999.
 
More feature-rich models are available for progessively higher price points like Rs. 3999, Rs. 4999 and Rs. 5999, he said.
 
"And for those users who want to hold on to their 2G/3G smartphones or Wi-Fi capable feature phones, we are 
introducing our 4G LTE personal router, called Jio-Fi, for Rs 1,999," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani said Jio offered a suite of applications that would bring to customers a suite of applications that will provide them the best across the categories of media, entertainment, money and essential utilities.
 
He said that, with the JioTV entertainment app, customers can watch more than 300 live TV channels including 40 HD channels with access to all of the previous week's programming.
 
With the JioCinema app, they can watch ad-free, HD movies from a library of 6,000 movies, more than 60,000 music videos and 1 lakh episodes of TV shows in 10 languages. 
 
The JioMusic app, offering ultra-HD music, has a library of 10 million songs in more than 10 languages.
 
JioMagazine and JioNews will give access to thousands of magazines and daily newspaper updates.
 
JioMoney is a personal wallet that will allow customers to go cashless.
 
"I believe that these apps will really showcase the capabilities of Jio's powerful network, and create a magical experience for Jio customers," he said, announcing the bouquet of appls would be available free for all active Jio customers upto December 2017.
 
He said the revamped activation process provided the company with the capacity to acquire a million customers a day.
 
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Mr. Ambani said Jio was rolling out wi-fi hotspots across India, and that, by the middle of next year, the company planned to deploy nearly 1 million wi-fi hotspots.
 
"So we have added additional Wi-Fi data in our plans so that our users have another way to use broadband data in colleges, schools and public places.
 
"Let me assure you that our Jio voice calls, across India, will never be charged to you on any plan. The Industry today charges an average of about 60p/ minute for domestic calls. With Jio you pay 0p/ minute. For international calling, Jio plans give you the best-ever International calling rates. And each of these plans come with an unlimited subscription to every Jio app," he said.
 
He also said that Jio was in the process of connecting the majority of India's schools and colleges with Wi-Fi to provide broadband wireless data access to students in their classrooms.
 
Mr. Ambani said Jio would partner with all segments of enterprises and offer them competitive and unique customized solutions. "For our platinum customers, Jio is working to raise the bar when it comes to Digital Life experiences," he said.
 
"Jio is partnering with a number of premium technology brands to create a set of unique solutions that combine these partners' products with the power of Jio's network and digital services. Further, we have high-end tariff plans that are especially suited for these global citizens with features like the best international roaming rates, and access to the most exclusive international content. We even ensure that they have the best coverage in their homes by installing tiny 4G LTE boxes, called femto-cells, within their premises.
 
"On top of all this, we will also provide our platinum customers with a series of specialized, white-glove services, such as concierge services and video call centers. We will be announcing more details of these partnerships, tariffs and services in the coming months," he said.
 
Mr. Ambani said that, with the Jio Welcome Offer, every Indian would get to enjoy Jio Digital Life.
 
"We Indians have come to appreciate and applaud Gandhigiri. Now we can all do “Data-giri”, which is an opportunity for every Indian to do unlimited good things, with unlimited data," he said.
 
He said the offer would enable users to experience Jio's digital services and personalise the offerings, even as the company would get to test and stabilize its interconnect with other operators and to ensure superior voice qualityfor calls to other networks.
 
"We will use the free welcome offer period to get valuable feedback from our customers and to iron out all the defects that we jointly discover," he said.
 
He said Jio was rolling out a fiber to home wireline network. "This initiative will push the power of data even further, and will offer data speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second. Again, this is on par with the most advanced wireline offerings anywhere in the world. Our plan is to progressively extend this network to more and more cities.
 
"At the same time, Jio will also be extending this optical fiber network to enterprise locations. We intend to provide multi-gigabit per second enterprise-grade wireline data connections that are on par with those in the developed world.
 
"Next, Jio is also partnering with some of the leading digital and Internet players in the world. Together with Jio, these partners are keen to showcase the full power and range of their offerings to Indian customers. In many cases, we are working jointly to create first-of-its-kind solutions that are unique to the Indian market.
 
"We also have plans to partner with thousands of Indian entrepreneurs, whose digital ventures can bloom in the ground that Jio is preparing. For this purpose, we have created a Jio Digital India Startup Fund and are also working to create Digital 
Entrepreneurship Hubs in key cities and towns of India. Our aim is to build a platform for young Indians who want to create digital businesses of the future. The Jio Digital India Startup fund has set aside Rs 5,000 crores to be invested over the next 5 years," he said.
 
Mr. Ambanisaid Jio was working closely with Reliance Retail in the area of e-commerce.
 
"In the coming months, we also plan to introduce apps around Education, Health, Rural Livelihood, Agriculture and many more categories because we truly believe it is time for Digital Life to reach the remotest corners of India," he said.
 
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Mr. Ambani used the opportunity to highlight the contribution of his son, Akash, and daughter, Isha, to Jio, a company with 60,000 employees with an average age of 30 years.
 
"Jio is a creation of the young, by the young, and for the young. 
Akash, and Isha – both 24 – our directors at Jio, have been hands on leaders. They represent the large contingent of less than 30 year olds at Jio. I want to tell all our young people at Jio – Jio is what it is because of your passion, ownership, and an attitude of 'can do'.
 
"You have proved, that given an opportunity, Indian youth can achieve the impossible and be better than anybody in the world," he said.
 
Describing Jio as a "customer obsessed organisation", he said he had set the company a target to acquire 100 million customers on its network "in the shortest possible time".
 
"This translates to a data usage of 250 crore GBs a month, and I am counting on the Jio network team to ensure that Jio's all-IP, only-LTE network delivers flawlessly with the highest quality in the world.
 
Addrssing existing Indian telecom operators, Mr. Ambani said healthy competition was the lifeblood of a vibrant economy and the entine that drives innovation and customer value.
 
"No doubt, all of us operators will compete vigorously in the marketplace. I am also sure that, while doing so, we will inspire each other to rise to even greater heights in our quest to serve Indian customers.
 
"However, Incumbent operators have significant advantages over new entrants, since incumbents have well-established networks and existing customers. New entrants require fair access to both.
 
"Therefore, the onus is rightly on the incumbent operators not to misuse their market power by creating unfair hurdles, when it comes to providing points of interconnect between their networks and Jio's network. Such hurdles will serve only to create a poor experience for Jio customers who are trying to make calls to incumbent operators' networks.
 
"In fact, in the last week alone, Jio customers suffered over 5 crores call failures to other networks because of insufficient interconnect capacity provided by incumbents. Giving the impression to common Jio customers that voice is not working, when actually the incumbent operators are deliberately dropping calls.
 
"This is the reason why telecom operators have legal obligations, as part of their license conditions, to provide Points of Interconnect to other operators. Likewise, they have an obligation to also not to limit customers' right to migrate to Jio using Mobile Number Portability.
 
"I appeal to my fellow operators to do their part, both in letter and spirit, to create a fair and reciprocal framework of co-operation that is good for India and good for Indian customers," he said.
 
"With great humility and great love, I present Jio Digital Life to the nation, and invite each and every one of you to sign up and experience Jio services first-hand. And to all my fellow Indians, I have a promise and an appeal. From September 5, India will change forever. I invite you to come and participate in this change. 
Let us be this change together, and Jio together," he added.
 
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India's forex reserves soar by $ 1.347 billion to $ 367.169 billion

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Maintaining an uptrend for the fourth consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 1.347 billion to $ 367.169 billion in the week ended August 19, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had increased by $ 73.2 million to $ 365.822 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, risen by $ 1.316 billion to $ 341.675 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 changed at $ 21.584 billion while its special drawing rights  went up by $ 11.8 million to $ 1.497 bilion.
 
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 19.2 million to $ 2.411 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Venu Srinivasan, Ajay Piramal appointed non-executive directors of Tata Sons

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Mr. Venu Srinivasan, chairman, Sundaram-Clayton and TVS Motor Company, and Mr. Ajay Piramal, chairman, Piramal Group and the Shriram Group, have been appointed as non-executive directors of Tata Sons with effect from today.
 
Tata Sons is the promoter of the major operating Tata companies and holds significant shareholdings in these companies.
 
Mr Srinivasan has served as the president of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) for the year 2009-10, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) for the period 1999-2001 and chairman of the National Safety Council, Government of India. 
He is also the managing trustee of the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST). 
 
Mr Srinivasan has an engineering degree from the College of Engineering, Chennai, and a master's degree in management from Purdue University.
 
Mr. Piramal serves on the Harvard Business School’s Board of Dean’s Advisors and as the chairman of Pratham, the world's largest NGO in primary education. He is a former chairman of the board of governors of IIT Indore. He served on the board of State Bank of India and has been a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Trade and Industry.
 
Mr Piramal has a BSc (Hons) from Bombay University, a master’s in management studies from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, and has completed the Advanced Management Programme at the Harvard Business School. 
 
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NPCI’s Unified Payments Interface set to go live

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National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organisation for all retail payments systems in India, today announced that its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is going live for customers with 21 banks.
 
Earlier, on April 11 this year, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan had announced the soft launch of UPI.
 
A press release from NPCI said that, for the last few months, UPI was under pilot run, mainly with employee-customers. 
 
"The purpose of ‘pilot run’ was to ensure that technical glitches, if any, are fixed and the product gives a smooth experience for immediate ‘Pay’ and ‘Collect’ with Virtual Payment Address (VPA)," it said.
 
“This is a success of enormous significance. Real-time sending and receiving money through a mobile application at such a scale on interoperable basis had not been attempted anywhere else in the world. Now the UPI App will be made available on Google Play Store by banks,” said Mr. A. P. Hota, MD & CEO, NPCI.
 
After assessing the success of pilot run, RBI had accorded its final approval for public launch of the product. 
 
NPCI had decided that only banks with 1000 pilot customers, 5000 transactions and success rate of around 80 percent would be permitted to go live. 
 
"Such a threshold criteria helped banks to refine their systems and procedure. The UPI app of 19 banks will be available on the Google Play Store in next two to three working days for the customers to download and start using. The relevant details of the service would be available on the website of 21 banks.
 
The list of banks going live with UPI includes: Andhra Bank, Axis Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Bhartiya Mahila Bank, Canara Bank, Catholic Syrian Bank, DCB Bank,  Federal Bank, ICICI Bank, TJSB Sahakari Bank,  Oriental Bank of Commerce, Karnataka Bank, UCO Bank, Union Bank of India,  United Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, South Indian Bank, Vijaya Bank and Yes Bank.
 
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IDBI Bank and RBL Bank are on-boarded as issuers. It enables their customers to download any UPI enabled Apps and link their account.   
 
The UPI is a unique payment solution which empowers a recipient to initiate the payment request from a smartphone. It facilitates ‘virtual payment address’ as a payment identifier for sending and collecting money and works on single click 2 factor authentication. It also provides an option for scheduling push and pull transactions for various purposes like sharing bills among peers. 
 
The UPI app can be used instead of paying cash on delivery on receipt of product from online shopping websites and can pay for miscellaneous expenses like paying utility bills, over the counter payments, barcode (scan and pay) based payments, donations, school fees and other such unique and innovative use cases.     
 
The interface is the advanced version IMPS which is a 24X7 funds transfer service. UPI will allow a customer to have multiple virtual addresses for multiple accounts in various banks. In order to ensure privacy of customer’s data, there is no account number mapper anywhere other than the customer's own bank. This allows the customer to freely share the financial address with others. A customer can also decide to use the mobile number as the name instead of the short name for the virtual address like 1234567890@xyz.
 
NPCI was set up in 2009 as the central infrastructure for various retail payment systems in India and was envisaged by the RBI as the payment utility for all banks in the country. 
 
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Prabhu inaugurates wi-fi services at eight Mumbai suburban railway stations

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Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu today inaugurated wi-fi services at eight Mumbai suburban railway stations.
 
The stations are Churchgate, Bandra, Bandra Terminus, Dadar Western Railway, Dadar Central Railway, Khar Road, Kalyan and Lokmanya Tilak. 
 
The facility for the visitors and rail users of these eight busy stations has been commissioned by the public sector RailTel in association with Google for providing high speed state-of-the-art world class internet experience to commuters, an official press release said.
 
The wi-fi facility is being provided at a speed of 1 GBps. A total number of 318 access points, 120 access switches and 30 fibre switches has been installed at these stations to provide seamless fast wi-fi to the huge number of commuters visiting these stations.
 
In addition to these stations, RailWire Wi-Fi has been soft launched at eight more stations (Sealdah, Allahabad, Pune, Puri, Tambaram, Chennai Egmore, Hazrat Nizamuddin and Chandigarh) and will be formally launched soon in different parts of the country.
 
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Shipping Ministry seeks 5% of Central Road Fund for waterways

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The Shipping Ministry has mooted a proposal to utilize part of the fuel cess collected for building national highways for expansion of National Waterways as well, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari said here today.
 
“My Ministry has prepared the proposal, but the final decision will be taken by the Ministry of Finance. I am pursuing the matter," he said at the Infrastructure Session of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Convention here.
 
He said his Ministry had sought allocation of 5% of the Central Road Fund for development of Inland Waterways. 
 
Central Road Fund is a non-lapsable fund created under the Central Road Fund Act 2000 out of a cess imposed on petrol and high-speed diesel. The funds are meant to be used to develop and maintain national highways, state roads and railway over and under bridges. The move to seek a pie in the CRF follows government’s ambitious plan to tap India’s vast network of rivers and canals stretching 14,500 kms for moving goods. 
 
“It is far cheaper to transport goods by water as compared to road or rail. Currently cargo movement along the five existing national waterways is a paltry 3% of all cargo movement in India. We want to raise the share of waterways in overall cargo movements to 15%," Mr. Gadkari said.
 
Business and political leaders such as State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya; Dinesh Keskar from Boeing; PS Jayakumar of Bank of Baroda; SIDBI Chairman Kshatrapati Shivaji and BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi participated in the inaugural day of the annual convention.
 
Mr. Gadkari said the ambitious Sagarmala programme launched by the Government for port-led development aimed to change the way logistics evacuation happens in India, save logistics costs nationwide for cargo handled and evacuated through seaports, boost overall economic development through ports and empower coastal communities.
 
“The Sagarmala project has the potential to significantly reduce the logistics cost. The project would serve industrial clusters and help generate employment opportunities," he said, inviting investment in the project.
 
He said the Government intended to construct 41 km of roads per day from the present 22 km per day. He said the Government has removed constraints such as land acquisition, forest and environment clearances and have fast-tracked many processes, de-risking private participation in the road sector.
 
Speaking at the event on the advent of alternate delivery channels, Ms. Bhattacharya said, “Actually, if you go to our branches and see the number of footfalls, then you will realise that India has a very peculiar demography. It is a young country with a median age of 26.2, I am told. But it has also got a lot of people who are of the older generation. And the older generation people still believe in brick-and-mortar banking. So, in the next 10-12 years I don’t think the need for branches will disappear. It will still be there.”
 
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Mr. Keskar said, "Boeing has contributed largely to India since its presence. We see there is huge scope in the aviation sector. The government has announced 32 more airports to be operational which will help to grown regional connectivity. . The Air India has recently got into operational profit which is good thing. India will need more planes."
 
“Recent forecast on Indian aviation sector released by the company says that the country will need 1850 new aircraft worth $265 billion in the next 20 years," he said.
 
He said the purchase of Boeing 787s had also led to India adding new routes. He also added that recently in Nagpur,  Tata Group’s TAL manufacturing solutions delivered the  5000th floor beam to  Boeing. 
 
Mr. Ketan Dalal, Managing Partner, PwC, said, “India will grow at 8 % and the growth will come from 3 baskets – a) High value – Infra & Pharma b) Value Chain & c) Bollywood. The growth will come from sectors like Defense equipment, Coal, Digital, Pharma, Chemical, Infra, Education & Healthcare. Large investment is likely to come to India. There is clarity now on Taxation, Digital initiative, Liberalization in FDI, Defined legislation all will help India GDP."
 
IACC National President and Convention Chair Lalit Kanodia said “India needs around 1.6 trillion USD worth of investment by 2025 to achieve its winning leap growth. A majority of this investment will be directed to sectors like technology, infrastructure, services, A&D, all of which are currently nascent in India but poised for huge growth. We feel that Indo-US bilateral trade can play a significant role in boosting this growth."
 
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Ashok Chawla appointed Non-Executive Part-Time Chairman of Yes Bank

Ashok Chawla
Ashok Chawla
Former Finance Secretary and Competition Commission of India Chairman Ashok Chawla will be the Non-Executive Part-time Chairman of Yes Bank.
 
A press release from the private sector bank said it had received approval for the appointment of Mr. Chawla from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
 
Mr. Chawla, who will have a three-year term, will take charge with effect from October 30 upon the expirity of the term of the current Chairperson of the bank, Ms. Radha Singh. He had appointed as an Independent Director on the Board of Yes Bank on March 5, 2016.
 
A distinguished civil servant with over 40 years of experience in various sectors of the economy in India as well as in international multilateral agencies, Mr. Chawla has a Master's in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics (1972). He joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1973. 
 
He started his career in Gujarat and held various positions, including Chief Executive of important state-owned enterprises. Among others, he was the head of Sardar Sarovar Narmada multi-purpose project. In the late 1980s, he was posted as Economic Counsellor in the Indian Embassy in Washington, United States. 
 
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Between 1998 and 2011, Mr. Chawla worked in several senior positions in the Union Government. He served as Secretary, Civil Aviation and Secretary, Economic Affairs, before being named Finance Secretary.
 
He has been on the Boards of Reserve Bank of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, State Bank of India and Life Insurance Corporation of India. He was also at different points in time India's Executive Director on the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Alternate Governor for India at the World Bank and at the Asian Development Bank.
 
Mr. Chawla had also held leadership positions in the corporate sector. He has been Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited and a Director in the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). He served as Chairman of the Competition Commission of India during 2011-2016. 
 
Mr. Chawla is also currently the Chairman of the National Stock Exchange of India Limited, and Chairman of the Governing Council of The Energy and Research Institute (TERI).
 
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India's forex reserves go up by $ 73.2 million to $ 365.822 billion

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Rising for the third consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves increased by $ 73.2 million to $ 365.822 billion in the week ended August 12, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 253.6 million to $ 365.749 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, risen by $ 81.6 million to $ 340.36 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 changed at $ 21.584 billion while its special drawing rights decreased by $ 3.2 million to $ 1.486 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fell by $ 5.2 million to $ 2.392 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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L&T Infotech, Coupa form strategic partnership for cloud-based Spend Management Solutions

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IT services provider Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI) today announced a strategic partnership with Coupa, a leader in cloud-based spend management and procurement software platform.
 
The partnership will enable enterprises to rationalize spends, achieve measurable savings, control costs and improve cash management, a press release from the company said.
 
Coupa offers comprehensive solutions for items such as Procure-to-Pay, Travel & Expense Management, Invoicing, e-sourcing, Supplier Management and Contract Management, it said.
 
As part of the partnership, LTI will establish a Coupa Center of Excellence (CoE) to strengthen its Coupa practice. 
 
The CoE will develop spend management solutions to help companies control and regulate all forms of spend in the organization and streamline the procurement process by opportunity identification, proposals, requisitioning, contract management, invoicing and settlement, the release said.
 
“LTI and Coupa are innovative leaders that provide companies with the latest technology solutions and services needed to help build profitable, interactive businesses,” said Roger Goulart, Vice President of Business Development and Alliances, Coupa. 
“Together, we share a commitment to helping companies achieve success by arming them with the tools and support needed to become more competitive than ever.”
 
“Global organizations are looking for spend management solutions that can enhance responsiveness and effectiveness of their procurement efforts, ultimately leading to higher profitability,” said Aftab Ullah, Chief Operating Officer, LTI. “This partnership will add to the capabilities of our Cloud Apps practice and enable us to help our clients modernize and transform these functions.”
 
The partnership will help global companies improve supplier relations and mitigate supplier risks. It will focus on customer success and transform traditional procurement departments into next generation digital procurement organizations, the release added.
 
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Piramal Enterprises to acquire Ash Stevens, US based CDMO for high potency APIs

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Piramal Enterprises Limited (PEL) today said its wholly owned subsidiary in the United States had entered into an agreement to acquire 100% stake in Ash Stevens Inc., a US based contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) of high potency active pharmaceutical ingredients (HPAPIs).
 
A press release from the company said it would be an all-cash deal for a consideration of $ 42.95 million plus an earn-out consideration capped at $10 million. 
 
This potential transaction is expected to be completed by the end of August, it said.
 
The release said that, located in Riverview, Michigan, Ash Stevens has over 50 years of experience in contract manufacturing of and serves several biotech, mid-size pharma, and large pharmaceutical clients worldwide.
 
With over 60,000 sq. ft. of facilities, eight chemical drug development and production laboratories, and six full-scale production areas, Ash Stevens has built a stellar reputation, led by science, driven by operational excellence, and one that emphasizes quality as a culture. 
 
"As one of the leaders in HPAPI manufacture, Ash Stevens has an impeccable safety record of working with high potency anti-cancer agents and other highly potent therapeutics. The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Michigan features all necessary engineering and containment controls for the safe handling and cGMP manufacture of small and large-scale HPAPIs, with Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) ? 0.1µg/m3. The facility has approvals from US, EU, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico regulatory agencies," the release said.
 
“The acquisition of Ash Stevens fits well with our strategy to build an asset platform that offers value to our partners and collaborators. Currently, around 25% of the molecules in clinical development are potent. Our clients are looking for reliable partners that can assist them in advancing these programs forward,” said Vivek Sharma, CEO of Piramal Pharma Solutions.
 
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“North America is a key market that we can now service with our three local facilities - the Coldstream Labs in Kentucky for fill finish needs, the Torcan facility in Toronto for complex high value API’s and now, Ash Stevens in Michigan for HPAPIs. Having facilities with a differentiated platform and geographical proximity to clients are keys towards building strategic partnerships. We expect this acquisition to also be synergistic with our Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) and injectable business. We can now fulfill client requirements for a single source of supply for both high potent APIs and drug products," he added.
 
“With its rich history of scientific excellence, a track record of 12 product launches, Ash Stevens is well poised to become the partner of choice for clients looking to advance programs from early development through launch. In addition to the business benefits that the combined entity will bring to our clients, I am also pleased that the firms share common core values: both were founded by successful entrepreneurs, value integrity, and are committed to a customer-first approach”, said Dr. Mark Cassidy, President of the API Business at Piramal Pharma Solutions, “I am pleased to welcome the Ash Stevens team into the Piramal group. We expect them to be an integral part of our future growth plans.”
 
Added Dr. Stephen Munk, CEO of Ash Stevens, “We look forward to working with the Piramal leadership and management team, to develop API solutions that benefit customers and improve the lives of patients. The commitment that Piramal has shown towards growing its healthcare businesses, coupled with the complementary capabilities that our two firms have, makes this an exciting time for Ash Stevens and our employees. We have already identified areas where we can create significant value together, and will be moving forward rapidly to achieve those objectives.”
 
The transaction is not subject to any regulatory approvals. No related party of PEL has any interest in Ash Stevens, the release added.
 
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India's forex reserves rise by $ 253.6 million to $ 365.749 billion

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Rising for the second consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves went up by $ 253.6 million to $ 365.749 bilion in the week ended August 5, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had soared by $ 2.808 billion to $ 365.496 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, however, decreased by $ 765.4 million to $ 340.278 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves increased by $ 1.008 billion to $ 21.584 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) rose by$ 4.1 million to $ 1.489 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 6.7 million to $ 2.397 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Global gold demand touches record high in H1, driven by western investors

 
Global gold demand reached 2,335 tonnes (t) in the first half of 2016 with investment reaching record H1 levels, 16% higher than the previous record in H1 2009, according to the World Gold Council’s latest Gold Demand Trends report.
 
The first half of the year saw increases for jewellery demand in the United States (up 1%) and Iran (up 10%), while the customary powerhouses of China and India saw drops in the second quarter (Q2) of 15% to 144t and 20% to 98t, respectively. 
 
India was further impacted by rural incomes remaining under pressure, as well as the government’s decision to increase excise duty, a press release from the Council said.
 
Meanwhile, China faced a challenging quarter against a relatively soft economic backdrop and the implementation of new hallmarking legislation in May, it said.
 
The report said Q2 2016 continued in the same vein as the first quarter this year with overall gold demand growing to 1,050t, up 15% from the Q2 2015 figure of 910t, boosted by considerable and consistent investment demand.
 
Investment demand reached 448t as investors sought risk diversification and a safe store of value in the face of continued political, economic and social instability. 
 
Exchange traded funds (ETFs) had a stellar first half of the year at almost 580t due to the additional inflows in Q2 of 237t. Bar and coin demand was also up in a number of markets in Q2, including the US at 25t (up 101%), leading to H1 bar and coin investment of 485t, 4% higher than the first half last year.
 
A cause and effect of the growth in investment demand was a 25% rise in the US$ gold price, the strongest H1 price gain since 1980. This contributed to lacklustre consumer purchasing, particularly in price sensitive markets. 
 
Central bank demand decreased 40% in Q2 2016 (77t), compared to 127t in the same period last year, resulting in net purchases for H1 now totalling 185t. While this quarter was the lowest level of net purchases since Q2 2011, it comes amid a significant rise in gold prices over H1, dramatically increasing the value of central bank gold holdings to US$1.4trn. Central banks are still expected to be key contributors to global demand, as gold provides diversification from currency reserves and, most notably, the dollar.
 
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Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, said, “The strength of this quarter’s demand means that the first half of 2016 has been the second highest for gold on record, weighing in at 2,335t. The global picture for gold is dominated by considerable and continued investment demand driven by the West as investors rebalance their investments in response to the ever-expanding pool of negative yielding government bonds and heightened political and economic uncertainty."
 
"The foundations for this demand are strong and diverse, drawing on a broad spectrum of investors accessing gold via a range of products, with gold-backed ETFs and bars and coins performing particularly strongly. But the global gold market is, and has always been, based on balance: so whilst investment is currently the largest component of demand, we see a gradual return for the jewellery market in the second half of 2016," he said.
 
Total supply for Q2 2016 saw an increase of 10% to 1,145t compared to 1,042t in the second quarter of 2015. The primary driver of this increase was recycling, which saw a significant rise  of 23%, as consumers capitalised on the rising gold price, leading to first half recycled gold supply of 687t, 10% higher than the 626t seen in H1 2015. Mine production remained broadly flat at 787t (790t in Q2 2015), while gold producers added 30t to the hedgebook.
 
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RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.5%, CRR at 4.0%

 
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.5 percent, saying it was appropriate for it to do so while awaiting space for policy action.
 
In the third Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement for 2016-17, the last, incidentally, by outgoing RBI Governor Raghuram G. Rajan, the central bank also, on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, kept the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks unchanged at 4.0 per cent of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL).
 
It said it would continue to provide liquidity as required but progressively lower the average ex ante liquidity deficit in the system from one per cent of NDTL to a position closer to neutrality.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 6.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 7.0 per cent.
 
Dr. Rajan said that the stance of monetary policy remained accommodative and would continue to emphasise the adequate provision of liquidity. Easy liquidity conditions are already prompting banks to modestly transmit past policy rate cuts through their MCLRs and pro-active liquidity management should facilitate more pass-through.
 
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He recalled that the refinements to the liquidity management framework effected in April 2016 were intended to smooth the supply of durable liquidity over the year using asset purchases and sales as needed, and progressively lower the average ex ante liquidity deficit in the system to a position closer to neutrality. 
 
"The Reserve Bank intends to continue with this strategy, with the intention of closing the underlying liquidity deficit over time so that the system moves to a position of structural balance. As regards the management of the imminent FCNR(B) redemptions, the Reserve Bank has been frontloading liquidity provision through open market operations and spot interventions/deliveries of forward purchases. 
 
"The Reserve Bank will continue with both domestic liquidity operations and foreign exchange interventions that should also enable management of the FCNR(B) redemptions without market disruptions. With a view to further front-loading the provision of liquidity, it has been decided to conduct an open market purchase auction on August 11, 2016. Details are being announced separately," he said.
 
The statement said that, since the second bi-monthly statement of June 2016, several developments have clouded the outlook for the global economy.
 
"Across advanced economies (AEs), growth in Q2 of 2016 has been slower than anticipated, and the outlook is still mixed. Headwinds in the United States from declining inventory investment were offset somewhat by strong payroll numbers. In the Euro area, the re-emergence of stress in some parts of the banking sector and the Brexit vote increased uncertainty. In Japan, downside risks have intensified in the form of a stronger yen, deflationary risks and contracting industrial production, triggering monetary and fiscal stimuli," it said.
 
"World trade remains sluggish in the first half of 2016. International financial markets did not anticipate the Brexit vote and equities plunged worldwide, currency volatility increased and investors herded into safe havens. Since then, however, equity markets have regained lost ground. Currencies, barring the pound sterling, have stabilised, with the yen appreciating the most on risk-on demand as well as the announcement of fresh stimulus. Yields on government bonds have fallen further and the universe of negative yielding assets is expanding at a fast pace, reflecting high risk aversion and expectations of further monetary accommodation by systemic central banks. Crude prices, which had risen to an intra-year high in May on supply disruptions, remain volatile. Other commodity prices, barring those of precious metals, remain soft due to weak demand," he said.
 
Dr. Rajan said that, on the domestic front, several factors are helping to support the recovery. After a delayed onset, the south west monsoon picked up vigorously from the third week of June. By early August, the cumulative rainfall was 3 per cent higher than the long period average, with more than 80 per cent of the country receiving normal to excess precipitation. Kharif sowing strengthened after a lacklustre start, particularly with respect to pulses. Barring cotton, jute and mesta, sowing of all crops is currently above last year’s acreage. These developments engender greater confidence about the near-term outlook for value added in agriculture. The target for kharif production set by the Ministry of Agriculture appears within reach.
 
He noted that industrial production picked up in May on the back of manufacturing and mining, following a contraction in the preceding month. The uneven performance of industrial output reflects the lumpy and order-driven contraction of insulated rubber cables, a component of capital goods. Excluding this item, industrial production rose at 3.0 per cent in the current financial year. In fact, capital goods production excluding insulated rubber cables expanded by 8.0 per cent. Nonetheless, the prolonged sluggishness in the capital goods sector is indicative of weak investment demand. The rate of contraction in consumer non-durables slowed, pointing to some revival in rural demand. On the other hand, the pace of growth of consumer durables has been stable and buoyed by urban consumption demand, although it eased in May on base effects. 
 
"Barring the contraction in natural gas and crude oil on account of structural bottlenecks, the core sector has been resilient as of 2016-17 so far, and should support industrial activity going forward. There are some signs of green shoots in manufacturing too, with purchasing managers and the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey indicating a pick-up in new orders, both domestic and external. Business confidence is also looking up in recent months, though the Reserve Bank’s survey for March 2016 suggests that capacity utilisation, seasonally adjusted, is still weak," he said.
 
The statement said that service sector purchasing managers polled the thirteenth successive month of expansion in July on the basis of a sharp acceleration in new business. Business expectations remained optimistic on better economic conditions and planned increases in marketing budgets. High frequency indicators of service sector activity are still, however, emitting mixed signals, although a larger number of indicators are in acceleration mode in Q1 of 2016-17 than in the preceding quarter. Automobile sales across most segments, railway, port and international air freight traffic, foreign tourist arrivals, and domestic air passenger traffic are providing the underlying momentum for the upturn. The gradual improvement in the services sector is getting broad-based.
 
According to the statement, retail inflation measured by the headline consumer price index (CPI) rose to a 22-month high in June, with a sharp pick-up in momentum overwhelming favourable base effects. The rise was mainly driven by food, with vegetable inflation higher than the usual seasonal rise at this time of the year. Sugar prices also firmed up due to a decline in domestic production after two successive years of drought. While pulses inflation started moderating, prices of pulses have been rising again since April after a short-lived correction in the previous quarter. Inflation pressures are also incipient in cereals. These developments fed through into households’ inflation expectations three months ahead, reversing the decline seen in the last two quarters, it said.
 
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Fuel inflation remained subdued, mainly due to sustained deflation in prices of liquefied petroleum gas. Excluding food and fuel, inflation eased across major sub-groups. Further excluding petrol and diesel from transport, inflation fell below 5 per cent for the first time since the introduction of the combined CPI. Softer inflation readings were recorded across services constituents in health, education, personal care and effects, and other categories of household consumption. Rural wage growth has been rising albeit moderately, driven up by wages of agricultural labourers. On the other hand, staff costs in the organised sector were relatively restrained, it said.
 
The statement said liquidity conditions eased significantly during June and July on the back of increased spending by the Government which more than offset the reduction in market liquidity because of higher-than-usual currency demand. The injection of durable liquidity through purchases under open market operations (OMOs), amounting to Rs. 805 billion so far, also helped in easing liquidity conditions, bringing the system-level ex ante liquidity deficit to close to neutrality (albeit without seasonal adjustment). Accordingly, the average daily liquidity operation switched from net injection of liquidity of Rs. 370 billion in June to net absorption of Rs. 141 billion in July and Rs. 405 billion in August (up to August 8). 
 
The Reserve Bank conducted variable rate repos and reverse repos of varying tenors in order to manage evolving liquidity conditions, with a more active use of reverse repos to manage the surplus liquidity. Reflecting the easy liquidity conditions, the weighted average call rate (WACR) and money market weighted average rate remained on average 15 basis points below the policy repo rate since June. Interest rates on other money market instruments such as certificates of deposit (CDs) and commercial paper (CPs) have also declined in both the primary and secondary markets.
 
"In the external sector, merchandise export growth moved into positive territory in June after eighteen months. This upturn was reasonably widespread, covering chemicals, marine products, handicraft, plastic, rice, electronic and engineering goods. On the other hand, imports continued to decline, albeit at a slower pace than in recent months. While lower crude oil prices continued to compress the POL import bill, domestic demand for gold remained muted, with domestic gold prices trading at a discount vis-a-vis international prices. Non-oil non-gold imports continued to shrink, pulled down by coal, fertilisers, ores, iron and steel and machinery and transport equipment. Cumulatively, the trade deficit narrowed in Q1 of 2016-17 on a year-on-year basis. Net receipts on account of services remained flat in April-May 2016, with net outflow under communication services and sluggish software earnings. While the pace of foreign direct investment inflows slowed in the first two months of 2016-17, net portfolio flows were stronger after the Brexit vote, notwithstanding considerable volatility characterising these flows. The level of foreign exchange reserves rose to US$ 365.7 billion by August 5, 2016," the statement added.
 
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Dr. Rajan said that the recent sharper-than-anticipated increase in food prices had pushed up the projected trajectory of inflation over the rest of the year. 
 
"Moreover, prices of pulses and cereals are rising and services inflation remains somewhat sticky. There are early indications, however, that prices of vegetables are edging down. Going forward, the strong improvement in sowing on the back of the monsoon’s steady progress, along with supply management measures, augers well for the food inflation outlook. The prospects for inflation excluding food and fuel are more uncertain; if the current softness in crude prices proves to be transient and as the output gap continues to close, inflation excluding food and fuel may likely trend upwards and counterbalance the benefit of the expected easing of food inflation. 
 
"In addition, the full implementation of the recommendations of the 7th central pay commission (CPC) on allowances will affect the magnitude of the direct effect of house rents on the CPI. On balance, inflation projections as given in the June bi-monthly statement, i.e. of a central trajectory towards 5 per cent by March 2017 with risks tilted to the upside, are retained.
 
"Looking ahead, the momentum of growth is expected to be quickened by the normal monsoon raising agricultural growth and rural demand, as well as by the stimulus to consumption spending that can be expected from the disbursement of pay, pension and arrears following the implementation of the 7th CPC’s award. The passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill augurs well for the growing political consensus for economic reforms. While timely implementation of GST will be challenging, there is no doubt that it should raise returns to investment across much of the economy, even while strengthening government finances over the medium-term. This should boost business sentiment and eventually investment.
 
"The current accommodative stance of monetary policy and comfortable liquidity conditions should also provide a congenial environment for the reinvigoration of aggregate demand conditions. However, successive downgrades of global growth projections by multilateral agencies and the continuing sluggishness in world trade points to further slackening of external demand going forward. Accordingly, the GVA growth projection for 2016-17 is retained at 7.6 per cent, with risks facing the economy at this juncture evenly balanced around it. 
 
"Risks to the inflation target of 5 per cent for March 2017 continue to be on the upside. Furthermore, while the direct statistical effect of house rent allowances under the 7th CPC’s award may be looked through, its impact on inflation expectations will have to be carefully monitored so as to pre-empt a generalisation of inflation pressures. In terms of immediate outcomes, much will depend on the benign effects of the monsoon on food prices," he added.
 
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Two dead, some more feared trapped after two-storeyed building collapses in Bhiwandi

 
Two dead, some others trapped as two-storeyed building collapses
At least two persons died and some more are feared trapped after an old two-storeyed building collapsed in Bhiwandi, near here, in Thane district of Maharashtra this morning.
 
Thane Police officials told NetIndian over the telephone that the incident occurred around 7.30 am today.
 
They said two bodies had been found and rescue teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the local fire brigade, police and the municipal corporation were searching for some more people reported missing.
 
Two families were staying in the dilapidated building, located in the Hanuman Tekri area, and about eight to ten people were reported missing, they said.
 
The local authorities had issued a notice some time ago advising the residents to vacate the rickety structure, but the two families had not done so, they said.
 
This is the second such incident in Bhiwandi town, known for its powerloom industry, in a week.
 
On July 31, eight persons had died and 22 others suffered injuries when a three-storyeyed building collapsed in the Gabinagar area of the town.
 
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Raigad bridge collapse: 22 bodies recovered, search area to be expanded

 
Mahad bridge collapse: Death toll reaches 22
As many as 22 bodies have so far been recovered and identified so far by search and rescue teams after a British-era bridge across the swollen Savitri river in Raigad district of Maharashtra, on the Mumbai-Goa highway, collapsed late on Tuesday night following which two state transport buses were reported missing.
 
The bridge, the older one of a pair of parallel bridges near Mahad town, about 170 km south of Mumbai, collapsed around 11.30 pm on Tuesday in the wake of continuous rainfall in Mahabaleshwar and other areas in the catchment region of the river.
 
Search and rescue teams from the local police, fire brigade and other emergency services, including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), have been working round the clock since then to trace the missing people.
 
A helicopter of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) as well as boats and rafts had been pressed into service in the search and rescue operations.
 
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir reviewed the search and rescue operations during a visit to Maharashtra yesterday.
 
An official press release said Mr. Ahir directed NDRF to expand its search and rescue operations beyond the present 15 kms to an area 30 kms downstream. 
 
Officials said 22 bodies have been recovered and identified so far, it said.
 
Accompanied by Mr. Anant Geete, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Mr. Ahir visited the site of mishap yesterday. The two Union Ministers reviewed the search and rescue operations at a meeting with the District Collector, Superintendent of Police, Officers of District Administration and the NDRF.
 
Mr. Ahir assured all possible help from the Central Government, it said.
 
Apart from the two buses, at least two cars were also reported to have crashed into the river when the bridge collapsed suddenly. There is no accurate estimate of the number of people missing.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the incident.
 
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India's forex reserves soar by $ 2.808 billion to $ 365.496 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 2.808 billion to $ 365.496 billion in the week ended July 29, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had dipped by $ 664 million to $ 362.687 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 $ 2.786 billion to $ 341.044 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.576 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) rose by $ 8. 5million to $ 1.485 billion.
 
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 13.6 million to $ 2.391 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Nita Ambani gets elected at Rio, becomes first Indian woman in IOC

Nita Ambani
Nita Ambani
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that leading Indian philanthropist and Founder-Chairperson of the Reliance Foundation Nita Ambani has been elected as an individual member of the IOC, and will become India’s first woman to join the prestigious body.
 
Ms. Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, is the only individual member from India and her appointment at the world body is until she attains the age of 70.
 
After being nominated in June 2016 by the IOC Executive Board, Nita Ambani was elected by IOC members in Rio de Janeiro today at the 129th IOC Session.
 
The independent selection process follows a new procedure for the recruitment of IOC members based on the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendations; those nominated are done so wholly on merit and then elected by existing IOC members.
 
As Founder and Chairperson of the Reliance Foundation, Ms. Ambani has been steering initiatives in the area of education, sports, health and art and culture. She is involved in promoting multiple sports in the country with focus on developing talent through a number of large-scale grassroots initiatives. The grassroots programmes that she has initiated have reached out to over three million children in multiple sports. She is the architect of the Indian Super League which is galvanising Indian football.
 
“I am truly humbled and overwhelmed to be elected by the IOC. This is a recognition of the growing importance of India in the world stage and a recognition for Indian women," Ms. Ambani said.
 
“I have always believed in the power of sport to shape our youth. I believe that sports brings together communities, cultures, and generations has the power to unify and unite people. I look forward to spreading the spirit of Olympics and sports across our nation.”
 
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Bridge on Mumbai-Goa highway collapses; 22 people, two buses reported missing

A British-era bridge across the swollen Savitri river in Raigad district of Maharashtra, on the Mumbai-Goa highway, collapsed late on Tuesday night after heavy rains in the area and two state transport buses with 22 people in them are reported missing, official sources said.

 
Bridge on Mumbai-Goa highway collapses
A British-era bridge across the swollen Savitri river in Raigad district of Maharashtra, on the Mumbai-Goa highway, collapsed late last night after heavy rains in the area and two state transport buses with 22 people in them are reported missing, official sources said.
 
The bridge, the older one of a pair of parallel bridges near Mahad town, about 170 km south of Mumbai, collapsed around 11.30 pm yesterday in the wake of continuous rainfall in Mahabaleshwar and other areas in the catchment region of the river.
 
Senior police officials in Raigad told NetIndian that search operations through the night had not yielded any trace of the missing persons or vehicles and there were no confirmed numbers in this regard.
 
They rescue teams from the local police, fire brigade and other emergency services had rushed to the scene and were searching the entire area for those reported missing.
 
A helicopter of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) as well as boats and rafts had been pressed into service in the search and rescue operations, they said.
 
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Teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are expected to reach the spot soon, they said.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on micro-blogging site Twitter that he was in touch with the Raigad district collector and superintendent of police and that the administration had launched search and rescue efforts immediately.
 
He said there were two parallel bridges across the river, including a new one and pointed out that it was the old one, constructed during British rule, that had collapsed.
 
"The primary reason seems to be the high pressure caused due to flooding of river Savitri due to heavy rains in catchment of Mahabaleshwar," he said.
 
Mr. Fadnavis said there was no confirmed assessment about casualties, but assured the people that the administration would ensure speed rescue and relief operations.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Mr. Fadnavis over the telephone this morning and offered all help from the Centre in the rescue and relief efforts.
 
Traffic on the highway was stopped in the night but it was resumed on the new bridge this morning after ascertaining its strength and stability.
 
According to the police, the two missing buses, which were bound for Mumbai from Chiplun and Ratnagir, were carrying 11 persons each.
 
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Coal to acetylene - the pit stop fixes

The manufacture of acetylene from coal is a path-breaking production route for the Indian chemical industry.
The manufacture of acetylene from coal is a path-breaking production route for the Indian chemical industry.
Coal, found in abundance in many countries, is a wonder feedstock for several major industries and utilities. During the early industrialisation era, coal was used as feedstock in the manufacture of most chemicals, which were derived through mainly the coal-to-acetylene route. 
 
However, the abundance of crude oil and natural gas has led to these replacing coal, and this proved beneficial for large-capacity production of polymers and petrochemicals despite the process being a complex one — a process using steam crackers. 
 
This production route requires significant unit sizes in order to realise economies of scale, and remain viable. It is indeed a good option when crude oil is available in plenty and at low cost.
 
In the case of relatively low volume, ’fit for purpose’ chemicals, the crude oil and natural gas route may not be a viable option especially when such feedstock is imported and the ‘mother’ feed molecules are obtained from mega scale plants that require considerable capex outlay. 
 
The last decade has seen significant volatility in global crude oil prices. However, even at falling prices, dependence on imports for feedstock poses a risk especially when large production setups are built around such imports. 
 
For several countries like India, China, Australia, Indonesia, etc, coal as a feedstock is available in abundance and at low prices. It makes sound business sense to exploit this feedstock instead, with due processes plugged in for efficiency.
 
Acetylene is a very versatile and reactive molecule and is known to be the ’mother of organic synthesis’; many chemicals can be derived from acetylene with relative ease. Manufacturing of relatively low-volume chemicals — for example VCM/PVC, VAM, acrylics, BDO, etc — can be potentially considered through the coal-acetylene route, which is a relatively low capex option more suited for distributed production. 
 
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Further, this process facilitates the capture of the carbon content as a valuable chemical product and hence contains carbon emission.
 
The manufacture of acetylene from coal can be made efficient and cost-competitive through integrated process interventions at every stage of the production life cycle:
 
Managing the quality of coal: Coal drying, coal beneficiation, de-ashing of coal, efficient coal handling, and feedstock management and coal conversion.
 
Managing the conversion process: The process involves conversion of coal to carbide, carbide to acetylene, and conversion of acetylene to product molecule.
 
Energy integration and optimisation
 
Plant and process efficiencies
 
Managing the carbon fototprin: Coal ash management, carbon capture and re-utilisation.
 
Effective project evaluation, design and execution through the entire project life cycle.
 
Mahesh Marve
Mahesh Marve
Tata Consulting Engineers, through its wide knowledge base and expertise in coal, chemicals and logistics systems, can provide holistic support for this potentially path-breaking production route for the Indian chemical industry and contribute to the ‘Make in India’ campaign in a truly meaningful way.
 
Courtesy: Tata Review
 
Mahesh Marve is senior vice-president and chief technology officer, Tata Consulting Engineers
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 1167 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1167 crore across various business segments.
 
These include orders valued at Rs. 843 crore bagged by its Water & Effluent Treatment Business from various customers.
 
Among them is an order from Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) for the construction of a second water storage reservoir in its  Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. The scope of the contract includes construction of an additional Balancing Reservoir of 12.32 million cubic meters storage capacity and erection of associated structures which will meet the water requirements and ensure uninterrupted production from the Vizag Steel plant, taking care of its expansion plans, too.
 
Another order was secured from Karnataka Urban Water Supply & Distribution Board (KUWSDB) for 24/7 Pressurized Water Supply for Tumkuru city. This contract encompasses upgrading the existing water supply system for conversion to 24/7 supply. The scope of the project includes improvements to the 50 MLD WTP, laying of 560 km pipeline network, metered house service connections and other associated infrastructure works.
 
The business also bagged an order from Public Health & Municipal Engineering Department (PHMED), Government of Andhra Pradesh for providing comprehensive Storm Water Drainage Scheme for Vijayawada city.
 
The release said the division's Metallurgical and Material Handling Business had bagged orders worth Rs. 259 crore, including add-ons.
 
A fresh order has been secured from Indian Oil Corporation Limited for the construction of Pet Coke Handling System in Haldia. This order is in sync with the company's strategy to increase market presence in Pet Coke Handling.
 
Additional orders worth Rs. 65 crore have been bagged by other businesses from various ongoing projects, the release added.
 
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Eight dead, 22 injured in building collapse in Bhiwandi near Mumbai

 
8 dead, 22 hurt in Bhiwandi building collapse
As many as eight persons died and 22 others suffered injuries when a three-storyeyed building collapsed in Bhiwandi town of Thane district, near here, this morning.
 
Police officials in Thane told NetIndian over the telephone that the deceased included two women, five boys and a girl.
 
They said the injured -- five men, seven women, three boys and seven girls -- were extricated from the debris and rushed to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in the district, where 18 were admitted for treatment and four were discharged after first aid.
 
Sources said the building, located in the Gabinagar area of the town which is known for its powerloom industry, was in a dilapidated condition and came down around 9.30 am today.
 
The local municipal authorities had issued a notice asking residents of the building to vacate the premises and while many of them did heed the advice, some had not acted on the notice.
 
Senior officials and emergency personnel, including teams from disaster management agencies, the fire brigade and the local police, rushed to the spot immediately after hearing of the incident.
 
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