IndUS Business Journal

Crowds throng jewelers on Akshaya Tritiya in India

Apr 28, 2017 0

New Delhi–With cash flow almost normalising after demonetisation, customers on Friday thronged jewellery shops across the country to usher in Akshaya Tritiya.

“We are seeing good footfall in our stores. In the last two months, after demonetisation, people have again started buying gold. We expect sales to go up by 40 per cent this Akshaya Tritiya compared to last year as prices are almost at the same level,” Balram Garg, Managing Director, P.C. Jeweller, told IANS.

Gold price hovered around Rs 29,000 per 10 grams for 24 Carat purity in the national capital on Friday.

Akshaya Tritiya, a holy day for Hindus and Jains, is believed to bring good luck and success. It is considered to be an auspicious day to bring home gold.

Buoyant gold sales on Akshaya Tritiya brought cheers to jewelers in Mumbai as well. Retail outlets saw crowds as people made their customary festive purchases on Friday morning.

All India Gems & Jewellery Federation President Nitin Khandelwal said the trend to buy god started since Gudi Padva in March and continued owing to the ongoing marriage season.

“There are significant crowds in jewellery shops all over and people, more than 75 percent, are opting for big and small items of gold jewelleries,” Khandelwal told IANS.

Mumbai Jewellers Federation President Rakesh Shetty said given the crowds, especially in suburbs, the gold sales could surpass even the Gudi Padva sales.

“Today, the gold prices are Rs 29,300 in Mumbai, coming down over the past few weeks. This has encouraged customers. They are buying both jewellery and coins,” Shetty told IANS.

“Jewellers are expecting a 20 per cent growth in demand both in volume and value for gold and silver,” India Bullion and Jewellers Association’s spokeperson Pankaj Parekh told IANS in Kolkata.

He said gold price may shoot up soon following international tensions. So, Akshaya Tritiya is seen as the right time to buy gold.

Compared to last year’s Akshaya Tritiya, the price of gold now is relatively low. The yellow metal’s price was over Rs 30,000 per 10 gm in 2016.

“Similarly, silver price remains at a lower range at Rs 40,000-41,000 a kg, which is conducive for demand,” Parekh said.

Bengaluru was no exception. While many people bought gold to ring in good tidings, others chose jewellery as an investment.

Some jewellers in Bengaluru felt that demonetisation and restriction on cash payments would continue to affect the sale of gold jewellery and ornaments. (IANS)

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Google announces new program to inspire Indian entrepreneurs, developers

Apr 28, 2017 0

New Delhi– US tech giant Google on Friday announced a new “Solve for India” initiative that aims to expand and energise the start-up ecosystem in tier 2 cities across the country.

The programme will inspire new wave of entrepreneurs and startups in emerging cities like Pune, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi, Indore, Nagpur, Nashik, Madurai, Kanpur and Chennai.

“There is a growing number of entrepreneurs in smaller Indian cities who are focusing on building solutions that caters to the real needs of India. Through this initiative we want to bring the best of Google under one programme and join forces with them to help create solutions that serves the needs of a billion Indians,” said Karthik Padmanabhan, Programme Manager Lead for Google India, in a statement.

Entrepreneurs will get an opportunity to learn directly from Google engineers who will share product usage insights, how to develop mobile first solutions with strong offline and language capabilities and help them to build solutions across areas like agriculture technology, healthcare, transportation, education and sanitation.

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Indian corporate governance seriously flawed

Apr 28, 2017 0

New Delhi–The Indian capital market regulator on Friday voiced serious concern over the standard of corporate governance, saying the country lacked a code of conduct for institutional investors.

“Is the system of corporate governance in the country working satisfactorily…Majority would say no,” Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Chairman Ajay Tyagi said, while addressing the annual session here of industry chamber, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Noting that according to company ownership patterns in the Indian context, “Fifty per cent ownership is with the promoters, while institutional investment is increasing, nowadays touching 30 per cent”, Tyagi said there is “no code of conduct” for institutional investors.

Ajay Tyagi

“What are their responsibilities, once they are significant shareholders? Our impression, and this is the saddest part, is that promoters prefer institutional investors who are passive,” he said.

“There is need for a common stewardship code. Just increasing the institutional share, without taking active interest and responsibility, does not serve corporate governance,” he added.

Pointing out that investors’ rights are a SEBI subject, the Chairman said: “If promoters’ plus institutional shareholding crosses 80 per cent, then retail, minority investors really become a minority…who will take care of their interests?”

“Then there is the issue of independent directors, who have not been discharging their functions properly. They have no commitment to any cause, resign without giving any reasons, just say they are sick…giving fake reasons.”

“These are issues of serious concern, to which I have no solutions at the moment,” Tyagi added.

He also said the functioning of independent auditors in India was another matter of concern.

“If the auditors’ committee is not working, independent directors are not independent and there is no code of conduct for institutional investors, then the system is clearly not working,” Tyagi added. (IANS)

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India, Cyprus sign 4 agreements

Apr 28, 2017 0

New Delhi–India and Cyprus on Friday signed four agreements, including on air services and merchant shipping, following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades here.

“Advancing a multifaceted partnership. The two leaders witness exchange of four agreements after delegation talks and working luncheon,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay tweeted.

The two sides signed an executive programme on culture, education and scientific cooperation for the years 2017 to 2020.

Both sides signed a work plan under a programme of cooperation in agriculture for the period 2017-2018.

Another agreement was signed on cooperation in the area of merchant shipping.

A fourth agreement was signed to boost air services between the two countries.

Earlier in the day, the Cypriot President was given a ceremonial guard of honour in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Anastasiades also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and described him as a “spiritual leader of Cyprus and inspiration for its freedom struggle”.

Following this, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on the visiting dignitary.

Ansastasiades will confer Cyprus’s highest civilian honour, the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III, on President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday evening when the latter will host a banquet in honour of the visiting delegation.

Anastasiades, who arrived in Mumbai on Tuesday, will depart from New Delhi on Saturday.

This is his first visit to India since he became the President in 2013.

Cyprus, the eighth largest foreign investor in India, has cumulative foreign direct investment of about $9 billion in areas of financial leasing, stock exchange, auto manufacture, manufacturing industries, real estate, cargo handling, construction, shipping and logistics.

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Supreme Court asks Sahara Chief Roy to deposit Rs 1,500 crore

Apr 27, 2017 0

New Delhi–The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Sahara chief Subrata Roy to deposit Rs 1,500 crore, as offered by him, by June 15, failing which he will have to go back to jail even as it sent a proposed buyer of Sahara’s assets to jail for contempt.

Asking Roy, who was present in the court, to pay the money, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice A.K. Sikri recorded his assurance that cheque of Rs 1,500 crore would be honoured on being presented on the due date.

“We are warning you today, if cheques are not realised, amount does not come, we will be compelled to send you to Tihar Jail straight away from here,” the bench told Roy asking him to be present on the next date of hearing on June 19.

Subrata Roy (Photo courtesy: The Hindu Business Online)

Roy was present in the court in pursuance to April 17 direction to be present in the court in person.

Seeking some more time to pay the money, he told the court that he would pay Rs 1,500 crore by June 15, another Rs 552 crore by July 15 and Rs 3,000 crore by October 30.

The court was given two checks of Rs 1,500 crore and Rs 552 crore towards the payment assured in the month of June and July.

Sahara has still to pay balance Rs 11,169 crores of the principal amount of Rs 25,781 crore to the investors from whom two group companies – SIRECL and SHICL – had raised in 2008 and 2009 through OFCDs .

Asking Roy to be present in the court on June 19 when court would hold further hearing in the matter, the bench in the meanwhile asked the official liquidator of Bombay High Court Vinod Sharma to proceed with the preparation of the terms and conditions for the auction of Sahara’s Aamby valley property.

The court said that the reserve price for the auction of Aamby Valley would be Rs 37,392 crore.

The terms and conditions would be placed before the court on June 19 for it consideration and approval.

The official liquidator of Bombay High Court in a report on the worth of the Aamby Valley by an evaluator said that the market value of Aamby Valley is Rs 37, 390 crore and the fair value is Rs 43,000 crore.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Roy, too quoted a price that was little more than the one quoted by the evaluator but said that the enterprise value of the property was Rs 1 lakh crore.

Meanwhile, the court sent Prakash Swamy — the power of attorney holder for a US-based company MG Capital Holdings LLC, New York that had shown interest in buying Sahara’s New York-located Hotel Plaza — to jail for one month for not depositing Rs 10 crore fine ordered by the court for backing out and misleading the court.

The court had on April 17 ordered Swamy to deposit the fine with its registry by April 27.

The bench sent Swamy to Tihar jail after the court was informed that he has not deposited the money.

Seeking mercy, Swamy said that he was an old journalist who had reported United Nations for ten years.

He said that he filed the affidavit as people in the company concerned knew him and promised him some good gains from the deal. He described himself as “small man”.

Telling Swamy that “small man should not try to be big”, the bench said: “You should not have gone into this. You must understand the gravity of the case.”

“If we forgive you it will send wrong message,” Justice Misra said pointing out that sometimes “tempting situation lead to confinement”.

Swamy had earlier told the court that US-based MG Holding was buying Sahara’s Plaza Hotel, following which the court has asked them to deposit Rs 750 crore in Sahara-SEBI Refund account to prove their bona fides.

However, in the next hearing, the court was informed that the US company had withdrawn the offer after doing due diligence of the property. (IANS)

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Petty corruption on decline in India, finds study

Apr 27, 2017 0

New Delhi–Even as around one-third of the households in India experienced corruption at least once in the last one year, yet the level of petty corruption is on a decline, a new study has found.

According to Centre for Media Studies’ (CMS) “Indian Corruption Study”, released on Thursday by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, around 31 per cent households experienced corruption in availing public services in 2017 as against 53 per cent in 2013.

“There has been a definite decline in both perception and experience of citizens about corruption in public services between 2005 and 2017,” said the report, adding that 43 per cent of the households covered under the study perceived increase in corruption level in 2017 compared to 43 per cent in 2005.

The study covered around 3,000 households from over 200 rural and urban clusters of 20 states. Ten common public services were covered in the study including public distribution system, electricity, health, school education, water supply, banking, police, judicial services, housing and tax services.

“Total amount paid by households across 20 states and 10 public services as bribe is estimated to be Rs 6,350 crore in 2017 against Rs 20,500 crore in 2005,” the report said.

State-wise, most households reported experiencing corruption in Karnataka (77 per cent) followed by Andhra Pradesh (74 per cent), Tamil Nadu (68 per cent), Maharashtra (57 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (44 per cent) and Punjab (42 per cent).

CMS Chairman N. Bhaskara Rao said the key reasons for paying bribe in a public service remained consistent between 2005 and 2017 “indicating there has been little focus on ground level issues while addressing corruption”.

While releasng the report, Debroy said the report focuses on everyday corruption which affects the daily lives of citizens rather than the “big-ticket” corruption.

He said most of the big-ticket corruption is usually linked with the electoral reforms and allocation of natural resources.

While batting for transparency, he said there was also need for subjectivity at higher levels of decision making.

“We need to ensure how to punish malafide while simultaneously ensuring protection of bonafide,” Debroy said. (IANS)

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One percent of Indians own 53 percent of country’s wealth: UN report

Apr 27, 2017 0

New Delhi–Indicating that inequality in India is increasing, a UN report released here on Thursday said that the richest one percent own 53 percent of the country’s wealth.

It also said that unlike other countries, development in India is not moving across states.

“In terms of wealth inequality, India is second only to Russia, where the richest 1 percent own 53 percent of the country’s wealth,” said the report ‘The Better Business, Better World’ released here in a two day event of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) focussing on how through bold innovation, businesses can create solutions and tap new opportunities found within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Lise Kingo

According to Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UNGC, SDGs can open at least $1 trillion of market opportunity for the private sector in India.

“This is out of a total global value of $12 trillion that could be unlocked by sustainable business models in four key areas, food and agriculture, energy, cities and health,” she said.

Kingo added that over 72 million new jobs could be created in India by 2030 by adapting a sustainable business model.

About addressing the disparity, the report says that to reduce the inequality, India needs a ‘different economic model’ — one that is not only low-carbon but also recognizes poverty, inequality and lack of financial access.

“As the second largest food producer in the world, India needs a more focused approach to developing and managing its agricultural sector and agri-based industrialisation,” it says.

Stating that rising inequality leads to slower progress in reducing poverty, the report added that Oxfam has calculated that if India were to stop inequality from rising further, it could end extreme poverty for 90 million people as early as 2019.

The UNGC also called for better infrastructure to improve access to proper medical care for India’s rural population.

“On its current trajectory, India will continue to face enormous challenges in rural development, urban sustainability, national infrastructure, and improved quality of life of its citizens,” the report says.

Its suggestions included creation of low-income food markets, reducing food waste in supply chains, technological aid in smallholder farms, micro-irrigation programs, resource recovery, remote patient monitoring and preventing catastrophic healthcare costs for the poor. (IANS)

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India intends to make Intellectual Property Rights policy more efficient: Sitharaman

Apr 27, 2017 0

New Delhi–India intends to make its Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy more efficient and speedier, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.

“The mindset of the government is to make the IPR policy more efficient and speedier,” she said, while addressing the World Intellectual Property Day celebrations here. She also gave away the National Intellectual Property Awards on the occasion

“India’s IPR policy is TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) Acompliant and forward looking,” she said.

Sitharaman also said creating awareness is very important, and launching an IPR Awareness campaign in schools across the country by Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) is a step in creating a mindset and respect for innovation right from the schools.

Nirmala Sitharaman

On Tuesday, the CIPAM, in collaboration with the International Trademark Association (INT), started an IPR awareness campaign in schools from one such institution in the national capital.

A Union Commerce Ministry release here said that a programme is being worked out to conduct over 3,500 IPR awareness programmes in schools, universities and industries across the country, including in Tier 1, 2, and 3 cities, as well as in rural areas, along with translating content into various regional languages for a wider reach.

Earlier this week, the government extended the Start-Ups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) scheme for three years till March 2020 to ensure protection of entrepreneurs’ patents, trademark and designs.

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Biocon net declines 62% in Q4

Apr 27, 2017 0

Bengaluru–India’s biotechnology major Biocon Ltd has posted Rs 127 crore consolidated net profit for the fourth quarter (January-March) of fiscal 2016-17 as against Rs 333 crore in the same period year ago, registering a whopping decline of 62 per cent year-on-year (YoY).

In a regulatory filing on the BSE on Thursday night, the city-based pharmaceutical company said consolidated revenue for the quarter (Q4) under review was muted at Rs 974 crore as against Rs 973 crore in like period year ago.

Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), however, grew 5 per cent YoY to Rs 231 crore from Rs 221 crore in like quarter year ago.

Sequentially or quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), net profit in Q4 (Rs 127 crore) was 26 per cent lower YoY from Rs 171 crore in the third quarter (October-December).

Revenue too in Q4 (Rs 974 crore) was 11 per cent lower QoQ from Rs 1,092 crore in the third quarter (Q3) and Ebitda (Rs 231 crore) was 29 per cent lower YoY from Rs 324 crore in Q3.

For the fiscal under review (FY 2017), consolidated net profit grew 11 per cent YoY to Rs 612 crore from Rs 550 crore in fiscal 2015-16 (FY 2016).

Consolidated revenue for FY 2017 grew 18 per cent YoY to Rs 4,079 crore from Rs 3,460 crore in FY 2016, while Ebitda grew 34 per cent YoY to Rs 1,137 crore from Rs 847 crore in FY 2016.

“We have closed FY 2017 with 18 per cent revenue growth, led by a sturdy performance of our Biologics and Small Molecules businesses,” said Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in a statement later.

Net profit before exceptional item for Q4 at Rs 135 crore was 75 per cent up YoY and for FY 2017 at Rs 620 crore 54 per cent up YoY.

“FY 2017 was a landmark year wherein we established our credibility as a global biosimilars player with the launch of our insulin Glargine pen in Japan and submission of five regulatory filings of biosimilars in the developed markets of the US and the EU,” recalled Shaw in the statement.

The company’s subsidiary in Malaysia became operational with the Malaysian government’s exclusive contract for its insulins, which expanded its footprint in emerging markets. The multiple clinical and regulatory milestones crossed in our biosimilars business augur well for the future.

The company’s Board of Directors recommended bonus shares in the ratio of 2:1 shares of Rs 5 face value, i.e. one bonus share for every two equity shares.

The blue scrip share, however, ended at Rs 1,119.60 per share on the BSE on Thursday as against Wednesday’s closing rate of Rs 1,127.50 and opening price of Rs 1,133 after quoting at a high of Rs 1,155.80 and a low of Rs 1,111.20 during the intra-trading session. (IANS)

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Now Northeast set to boost India’s global IT business

Apr 27, 2017 0

By Sujit Chakraborty

Agartala–The northeastern region, long considered backward in growth and business terms, is poised to add heft to India’s dominant position in global software exports and the IT industry, a top official said

“Aiming to further boost India’s software exports and strengthen the IT industry, six IT parks and hubs have already been set up in six capitals or cities of the northeastern states — Guwahati, Shillong, Imphal, Aizawl, Kohima and Agartala,” Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) Director General Omkar Rai told IANS during a visit here.

“A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Arunachal Pradesh government to set up another IT park in Itanagar. These IT parks and hubs in the region would further strengthen India’s software exports and IT business across the world,” he added.

Rai, who was in Tripura in connection with the opening of northeast India’s sixth and largest IT hub in Agartala, said it is the STPI’s 57th centre in India.

Built at a cost of Rs 50 crore ($8 million), the Agartala IT hub was jointly set up by the Tripura government and STPI, an autonomous society under the Union Ministry of Electronics and IT.

The STPI chief said that total volume of India’s IT industry is $144 billion and the total software, and IT services export of the country was estimated at $108 billion dollars in 2015-16.

“Currently India has an excellent, strong position in software and IT services export and IT business around the world. We would be penetrating further in the coming years across the world if the Indian and multinational companies work together.”

“Our aim is to beat the US, China and a few European countries in software exports, IT services and IT business. To realise this goal, the government of India, the states and private industries must work collectively.”

Rai said that with the setting up of third International Internet Gateway (IIG) in Agartala through Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, eastern India would be able to boost India’s ambitious plan to capture the global IT market.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, along with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, on March 23 last year inaugurated the 3rd IIG through videoconferencing from their respective offices in New Delhi, Dhaka and Agartala.

The Agartala IIG is the third such internet gateway after Mumbai and Chennai.

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the Agartala IIG to get access to the 10 gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL).

For this, an optical fibre cable link has been established between Akhaura (along Agartala) and Cox’s Bazar in southeast Bangladesh.

India has to give BSCCL around Rs 8 crore per year as rent.

Rai said that according to the agreement signed between Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and BSCCL, if the demand increases, BSNL can avail up to 40 gigabit bandwidth using the same infrastructure.

Government data shows that IT software services exports from STPIs has grown steadily during the last three years from Rs 2.73 lakh crore in 2013-14 to Rs 3.19 lakh crore in 2015-16.

The government extends several incentives to the IT sector. These include, customs duty exemption on imported goods, reimbursement of Central Sales Tax (CST) and Excise Duty exemptions on procurement of indigenously-manufactured goods.

“These measures have been major contributory factors for the sector to flourish and have taken the country to a dominant position in IT services in the world,” Rai maintained. (IANS)

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