IndUS Business Journal

Note ban to drag down India’s GDP this fiscal to 6.6%: IMF

Feb 22, 2017 0

Washington– India’s GDP growth during the current fiscal ending March has been estimated by the International Monetary Fund to slow down to 6.6 per cent due to the temporary disruptions caused by the government’s demonetisation drive, the multilateral lender said on Wednesday.

“Growth is projected to slow to 6.6 per cent in FY2016/17, then rebound to 7.2 per cent in FY2017/18, due to temporary disruptions, primarily to private consumption, caused by cash shortages,” the IMF said in its latest annual country report on India.

“A key domestic risk stems from the government’s currency exchange initiative, where the near-term adverse economic impact of accompanying cash shortages remains difficult to gauge, while it may have a positive economic impact in the medium term,” the report said.

The report called for “action to quickly restore the availability of cash to avoid further payment disruptions and encouraged prudent monitoring of the potential side-effects of the initiative on financial stability and growth”.

The IMF also said that a favourable monsoon, low oil prices, continued progress in resolving supply-side bottlenecks and robust consumer confidence will support near-term growth as cash shortages ease.

However, India’s investment recovery is expected to remain modest and uneven across sectors, as corporate de-leveraging takes place and industrial capacity utilisation picks up, the report said.

From the external perspective, it said that despite the reduced imbalances and stronger reserve buffers, the impact from global financial market volatility could be disruptive, including from US monetary policy normalization or weaker-than-expected global growth.

According to IMF, domestic risks also emanate from a potential deterioration of corporate and state-run bank balance sheets, as well as setbacks in the reform process, including in the design and implementation of the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST)A

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EU: Willing to accommodate more Indian IT professionals

Feb 22, 2017 0

New Delhi–The European Union on Wednesday indicated that it would be willing to accommodate more Indian IT professionals amid concerns over the Trump administration tightening H1B visa norms.

To a question on whether the EU would be “prepared to welcome” Indian IT professionals in the wake of US President Donald Trump pushing for tightening H1B visa rules, an EU official said that Europe is “open” to allowing more Indian professionals who are in high demand.

David McAllister, head of a delegation of European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, said they have read about the tweets of President Trump and also his speeches and interviews on the subject. “We believe in a globalised world. Protectionism of any kind is not beneficial in the long run,” McAllister said.

“Europe is open for people with high demand. Indian people are highly skilled. Our IT sector would not have been successful if we did not have skilled professionals from India,” he added.

David McAllister (Photo: Wikipedia)

He also hoped the stalled dialogue on the EU-India trade and investment pact – Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) – would resume and both sides were hopeful of a summit.

The BTIA talks, launched in 2007, have failed to move forward since May 2013 though 16 rounds of talks have been held so far.

During the EU-India Summit in Brussels, both sides failed to make any announcement on resumption of the negotiations as bottlenecks remain.

Talking about the significance of the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) between the EU and India, Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India pointed out that, “The EU has long recognized the potential of promoting people-to-people connectivity. AsiaConnect is an excellent example of regional integration, with the R&E communities of 21 Asia-Pacific countries inter-connected by powerful high-capacity, high quality Internet links. This project will be a vehicle for promoting a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative ICT environment between Asia and Europe, and in turn benefit society as a whole.”

“There are unlimited fields of world-class research which can profit from the powerful links we have created together. Sharing data and working together on astronomy, meteorology, climate change monitoring, or early warning in case of natural disasters are just a few examples,” he added.(IANS)

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GDP growth in Q3 to slump below 6 percent from demonetisation

Feb 22, 2017 0

Mumbai–India’s GDP growth is estimated to dip below 6 per cent in the third quarter and overall growth in 2016-17 is likely to be at 6.6 per cent due to demonetisation, though the economy would recover in long term with cash getting back into the system at a fast pace, a SBI report said on Wednesday.

“We expect GDP growth to be decisively lower than 6 per cent in Q3 at 5.8 per cent. In Q4 it could only make a gradual comeback to 6.4 per cent. We estimate FY17 growth at 6.6 per cent,” said the State Bank of India (SBI) Ecowrap report.

“We believe demonetisation will have short-term negative impact on growth numbers though in the long-run growth will increase as formalisation of economy increases and remonetisation happens at a faster pace,” said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Chief Economic Adviser, Economic Research Department, SBI.

The Q3 estimates will be very critical as it covers the two month period of demonetisation and give us the glimpses of what happened in the economy during the months of November and December.

The good news is that 2017-18 growth could move up faster if demand comes back faster post remonetisation, he added.

Ghosh said that now the situation has almost normalised and close to 70 per cent of the extinguished currency will be remonetised by February-end.

The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) had estimated GDP growth at 7.1 per cent in 2016-17 as compared to the growth rate of 7.9 per cent in 2015-16.

“If we go by current CSO estimate, the Q3 and Q4 GDP growth would be around 6.1 per cent and 7.8 per cent, respectively, which is quite impossible given the extent of liquidity shock that has led to a drastic consumer spending shock,” Ghosh said.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the other hand estimated GVA (gross value added, which excludes taxes and subsidies) growth for 2016-17 at 6.9 per cent, as against its earlier estimate of 7.6 per cent. Of the 70 basis points (bps) reduction, it attributed 35 bps to demonetisation and the rest 35 bps to base effect.

The CSO is going to release Q3 F17 GDP estimate on February 28.(IANS)

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Demonetisation to spark VC interest in Indian fintech firms

Feb 22, 2017 0

Chennai–The increase in digital payments by Indians following the demonetisation of old notes is expected to interest venture capital funds to invest in firms operating in the payments and mobile wallet sectors, consultancy firm KPMG said.

“Demonetisation efforts resulted in an increase in transactions for both payments companies and mobile wallet providers. This trend will be one to watch in Q1’17 and Q2’17, as it may spark additional interest from investors,” KPMG said in a statement.

Citing its Pulse of Fintech Report Q4’16 edition released on Wednesday, KPMG in its statement said the venture capital investment in India saw a significant decline in 2016, with just $216 million being invested, compared to $1.6 billion the previous year.

“This decrease highlights the impact a lack of mega-deals can have on a country, as actual deal volumes in India remained steady over the same period. Despite the decline, India appears to be a key focus of VC investors in Asia,” KPMG said.

According to KPMG, corporate interest in financial technology (fintech) is also expected to increase in India over the next year. Already, many of India’s banks and insurance companies have created innovation funds to invest in fintechs or set aside funds for collaboration.

“With the demonetisation effort that started in Q4’16 in India, there has been a big increase in the number of transactions managed by both payments companies and wallet providers. As this effort continues, we should see momentum grow for digital platforms and fintech solutions,” Neha Punater, Head of Fintech, KPMG in India, was quoted as saying in the statement. (IANS)

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Madhya Pradesh’s Rs 500 crore hawala accused dead, says police

Feb 22, 2017 0

Katni, Madhya Pradesh–An accused wanted in the Rs 500-crore hawala scam unearthed in Katni district died at Haridwar in Uttar Pradesh, a senior police officer said on Wednesday.

The police officer said Santosh Garg, who was on the run since the scam came to light, died of an illness in Haridwar.

“Garg’s son and police from Haridwar informed the Madhya Pradesh Police about Garg’s death. His son said he died due to a liver ailment. He was undergoing treatment at a Haridwar hospital,” Katni Superintendent of Police Shashikant Shukla said.

Shukla said the cause of the death would be known once the post-mortem examination report comes in.

The scam had come to light after the November 8 demonetisation.

The police claimed a bank account opened in the name of Garg’s company was misused for transactions involving Rs 90 crore, after which the Income Tax Department issued him a notice. He was missing and on the run since then.

In January, the state Congress had produced a picture allegedly showing another scam accused, Satish Saraogi, standing with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Minister of State Sanjay Pathak at a function. (IANS)

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1,850 medicines sold in India Not of Standard Quality: Health Ministry

Feb 22, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said it has found 1,850 samples of drugs sold in India ‘Not of Standard Quality (NSQ)’ while 13 were found spurious.

“Overall, out of the 47,012 samples tested, 13 samples were found to be spurious and 1,850 samples were found to be ‘Not of Standard Quality’ (NSQ). As such, the percentage of NSQ Drugs in India has been found to be 3.16 per cent and that of Spurious drugs 0.0245 per cent,” said a statement from the ministry.

According to the Health Ministry, many of the drugs are of foreign companies that have their manufacturing units in India.

As part of the survey, touted to be the world’s largest, 47,954 drug samples relating to 23 dosage forms were drawn from 654 districts of 36 States and Union Territories from the supply chains including retail outlets, government sources and from eight airports and sea ports.

“The statistical design of the Drug Survey included as many as 224 Drug molecules belonging to 15 different therapeutic categories of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011,” said a statement from the Health Ministry.

The Ministry had entrusted the work related to carrying out a Survey of the extent of Problems of ‘Spurious and Not of Standard Quality Drugs’ to the National Institute of Biologicals (NIB), Noida.

As part of the survey, a nationwide training in drugs survey methodology was imparted at 28 centres across the country to over 1,800 Sample Drawing Officers (SDOs) and representatives of the Civil Society / Pharmacy Council of India (PCI).

“The role of the Civil Society/Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) representatives was to observe that the drugs samples are drawn in accordance with the sampling methodology and the highest degree of transparency and objectivity is maintained in the process to eliminate any bias,” said the Ministry.

All the samples were subjected to test/analysis as per pharmacopoeial requirements in the Central and State Drug Testing Laboratories that have been accredited by NABL. (IANS)

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveils “Project Sangam” and “Made for India”

Feb 22, 2017 0

By Sourabh Kulesh

Mumbai–In a big push for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Skill India initiative, Microsoft’s Indian-born CEO Satya Nadella on Wednesday launched “Project Sangam” to help the government not only train but also help people get jobs via professional networking website LinkedIn that was acquired by the company last year.

Aimed at employing and empowering low-skilled workers, “Project Sangam” will commence from Andhra Pradesh.

Satya Nadella

“The company will allow people to enroll through Aadhaar cards and later utilise LinkedIn to manage their profiles,” said Nadella in the presence of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the jam-packed “Future Decoded” event here.

“Project Sangam” will be an open ecosystem where trainers can pour their content into the project and people can take the training right from “Sangam” and apply for jobs.

As soon as the training is completed, Microsoft will update their profiles for employers to shortlist and hire the skilled workers. The candidates will also receive job options according to their skills.

“It is the first project on Cloud that will bring Microsoft and LinkedIn together to help unemployed masses in India,” Nadella added.

Praising the Microsoft initiative, Naidu said with infusing right ideas and technology, Andhra Pradesh can be the next Silicon Valley.

“We took the decision to become a Cloud-first state as it would help us tackle resources better. With the technology revolution, I aim to put my state among the top three states by 2022,” Naidu told the gathering.

According to Fadnavis, Cloud computing is a game changer.

Microsoft\’s India-born CEO Satya Nadella on Wednesday announced Skype Lite app, Project Sangam and Kaizala app in India to empower the masses. He was addressing a gathering at the two-day Microsoft event \”Future Decoded\” in Mumbai. (Photo: IANS)

“Big Data analytics can be used to put our resources to best use. I am thankful to Microsoft for putting in one the biggest data centres in Maharashtra. We have started migrating to the Cloud and I think Cloud computing and Big Data analytics will help us gain transparency in governance,” Fadnavis noted.

Throwing a direct competition to social media apps like Google’s messaging app Allo and video calling app Duo, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Nadella also announced “Skype Lite”, an exclusive “Made for India” app to provide seamless experience in messaging, audio and video calling even at lower bandwidths.

“Packed in a 13MB file (from its original 36 MB size), the new app is available only for Android devices and is especially designed to save data,” Nadella told the gathering.

“Skype Lite” will also bring Aadhaar integration to the app by June 2017. With this integration, users will be able to authenticate the identity of unknown callers in situations whre identification verification is required.

The lightweight “Skype Lite” app supports several Indian languages including Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.

The app has data-friendly features such as “tracking data usage” which tells a user about how much data was used. It also categorises the internet usage into two sections — the amount of mobile data or Wifi used while using the app.

With these new features, the app lets a user to share multimedia files without downloading them to the device.

“Skype Lite” has functionalities such as integrated calling and SMS by which a user can make it the default calling and messaging app.

Microsoft also launched three other products — LinkedIn Lite, Starter Pack and Placements.

LinkedIn Lite is a tool that will help people connect from low-connectivity zones in the country. LinkedIn Placements is an app for college graduates.

Billed as one of the largest such pacts in the global social media space, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in an all-cash deal last year.

Nadella also talked about the digital transformation that Microsoft Azure Cloud has brought in for retail, auto, banking and startups.

He said that companies such as Tata Motors and State Bank of India realised the power of the Cloud and moved to the Cloud-first infrastructure in recent times.

State Bank of India, Flipkart, Tata Motors, and government departments across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are using Microsoft’s cloud and mobile technologies to empower employees, engage customers, optimize processes and transform products and services.

The company also announced Kaizala app for collaboration between desktop and mobile computing users. Available on all leading mobile platforms, Kaizala offers seamless convergence of an instant messenger and a productivity enhancer for those always on the move.

Kaizala has been successfully tested by Andhra Pradesh government at a 12-day mega event involving 20 million people. The state government now plans to replicate it across departments to implement real-time governance.

“Future Decoded” — Microsoft’s two-day flagship technology and business conference that kicked off here on Tuesday — is a platform that brings together 1,500 business and government decision-makers to engage in conversations on how technology will transform all aspects of our work and life. (IANS)

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India to set up ITIs for skill development

Feb 21, 2017 0

Agartala– The government has decided to set up at least one Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in each block of the country to provide skill development training to all, a minister said here on Tuesday.

Addressing Tripura’s first Digi-Dhan mela in Agartala, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said that currently 25,000 blocks in India have no ITI and in the first phase, projects have been undertaken to set it up in 15,000 blocks.

“To eradicate unemployment problems and to make more skilled workers in the country, the mission has been undertaken across the country under the leadership and guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

He said: “Our mission and objective is to create a cashless society. Through cashless economy, India’s GDP would be increased from the existing 7 per cent to 8 per cent within very soon. Cashless transactions would help the country to progress faster and to remove corruptions besides appropriate people would be benefited.”

The minister said that to boost enterprising milieu across the country, under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana (PMKVY) the central government has been providing huge funds to all the states in the country.

He said that Rs 54 crore has been approved for Tripura.

The PMKVY was launched in July last year with an outlay of Rs 12,000 crore to impart skills to one crore people, which also includes providing fresh training to 60 lakh youths, over the next four years.

At least 12 nationalised banks, information technology bodies of the central and state governments have set up stalls in the first ever digi-dhan mela and apprised the people about the on-line and cash less transactions and their mode of operations. (IANS)

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Future of real estate sector is in affordable housing: Naidu

Feb 21, 2017 0

New Delhi– Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday urged real estate developers to take up affordable housing projects in a big way while stressing that the future of the real estate sector lay there.

“The government’s focus on ensuring Housing for All including the Middle Income Groups offers immense opportunities both at the bottom and the middle of the pyramid which needs to be seized by the developers who have seen ups and downs in recent year,” the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation said.

He was speaking at a conference on “Real Estate Sector-Post Remonetisation and RERA” organised by PHD Chambers.

M. Venkaiah Naidu

Naidu said the government has paid more attention to the real estate sector than any other sector by announcing more than 20 supporting measures to revive it.

“Low-cost long-term financing under infrastructure status, tax concessions and central assistance under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and the scale of housing needs of these sections make affordable housing the best investment opportunity and developers are left with no further excuses for not seizing this opportunity,” Naidu said.

He said that various initiatives of the government including the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, the Benami Properties Act and note withdrawal have enabled a new real estate eco-system based on 4 ‘Cs’ viz., Character, Credibility, Confidence and Cash that would help revive the sector.

He said that while the Real Estate Act removes the taint restoring the character of the sector leading to credibility and enhanced confidence of buyers, central assistance, reduced interest rates and tax concessions keep more cash in the hands of buyers.

Stating that his ministry has so far approved construction of over 16 lakh affordable houses for urban poor with an investment of about Rs 90,000 crore and central assistance of about Rs 25,000 crore, Naidu expressed concern over private developers not taking up any projects so far.

He urged them to change their mindsets and outlook and take up affordable housing projects given the business logic that goes with it in the changing context.

Naidu said that his ministry would soon convene a Round Table with real estate bodies and representatives of banks and Housing Financing Companies and others concerned to deliberate on the road ahead for promoting affordable housing so that the target of ensuring Housing for All by 2022 would be met.

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Media attacks orchestrated to harm Infosys reputation: Sikka

Feb 21, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Terming media stories on Panaya acquisition false and malicious, Infosys Chief Executive Vishal Sikka told its employees that the attacks were orchestrated by people hell-bent on harming their reputation.

“Once again, some newspapers have carried false and malicious stories about our company — this time it is about the acquisition of Panaya. These speculations and fabrications are designed to tarnish our reputation,” said Sikka in an email to his employees (techies) coding software at the company’s development centres worldwide.

Accusing the media of targeting the company, its employees and himself to the point of harassment, Sikka said the reports created a false alternate reality out of events and dates, with embellishments calculated to misled and sensationalise.

Vishal Sikka

“We have denied the allegations in these stories, but they still get published. As we’ve said before, we take every whistle-blower’s complaint very seriously and there is a due process to investigate any complaint that comes to us,” reiterated Sikka.

The IT major’s first non-founder CEO’s mail came a day after an anonymous whistle-blower alleged that its executives had personal interests in buying the US-based Panaya firm for $200-million in February 2015.

The whistle-blower is reported to have mailed the letter to the Indian market regulator Securities Exchange of India (Sebi) in Mumbai.

The city-based outsourcing firm acquired the automation technology firm to offer large-scale enterprise software management as a service to its global clients.

Asserting that he would not allow the charges go unchallenged, Sikka said he would pursue every avenue to defend the company in the face of what he called unfair and unwarranted attacks.

“Though these distractions are expensive, draining and time-consuming, it is our burden to ensure that the company’s business continues unflinchingly. As I have written previously, we have far bigger battles ahead of us,” Sikka said.

Advising his employees to prepare for the new year (fiscal 2017-18), the CEO said the year ahead promised to be full of relentless disruption and wondrous opportunities and a year that would separate the ‘has beens’ from the ‘to-bes’ in the industry.

“I am, as always, counting on your faith and unwavering attention to what really matters. Change is never easy, and change at the scale we are undertaking may be unprecedented. It is this change that has so inflamed some into trying to drag us all into the mud. And yet, change we must. There is no other way,” Sikka added.

Observing that in the time of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and digitising world, success would depend on their ability to automate, innovate and educate, Sikka said that failure, if any, would be of a company, an industry and a dream that cannot be let to happen.

“Last week, when I shared the results of our journey with many investors and financial analysts in Mumbai and elsewhere, it was clear that majority of them and our clients, are with us 100 per cent. They understand the path we are on and its significance and are supportive,” he said.

Stating that he was counting on all the employees to rise above the distractions, Sikka told them to focus on what matters and deliver.

“As I was flying home, I visited a very old Buddhist temple en route. It was a fleeting peaceful moment in an unnecessarily difficult week. But the row of Buddhas there, in a moment of clarity, indicated to me that with compassion and unflinching resolve, we will get there. We must, and we will,” added Sikka. (IANS)

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