IndUS Business Journal

Setback for Amitabh Bachchan in KBC tax case

May 11, 2016 0

New Delhi–In a setback to Amitabh Bachchan, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a plea by income tax authorities challenging the Bombay High Court order permitted the mega star tax relief in earnings made from ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (KBC).

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan

An apex court bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C. Pant said: “We are of the opinion that the present is a fit case for exercise of the suo motu revisional powers of the CIT (Commissioner of Income Tax) under Section 263 of the (Income Tax) Act.”

Restoring the income tax commissioner’s order, the bench set aside the August 28, 2007 order of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and the August 7, 2008 order of the high court.

Disposing of the plea by the income tax department, the bench said: “However, we have to add that as the re-assessment order dated December 29, 2006 had not been tested on merits, the assessee would be free to do so, if he is so inclined and so advised.”

The matter relates to the assessment order passed on March 30, 2004 in respect of the star’s income from the popular quiz show KBC in the fiscal year 2001-02.

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Fitness app HealthifyMe raises $6 million in funding

May 10, 2016 0

Bengaluru– App-based health and fitness startup HealthifyMe on Tuesday announced receiving $6 million Series A funding from IDG Ventures India, Inventus Capital and Blume Ventures.

“With these funds we plan to impact five million users and tie up with over 500 corporate and healthcare partners,” said HealthifyMe CEO Tushar Vashisht.

HealthifyMe is a freely downloadable app which analyses a user’s food intake, weight, physical activity and hydration to suggest a healthy regimen for the user to stay healthy and fit.

“A user can take a picture of what he is eating and send it to HealthifyMe to know the amount of calories he is taking in and receive instructions from qualified trainers, nutritionists and yoga instructors to lose weight,” said Vashisht.

The funds will be used to further develop its digital coaching platform and accelerate growth in India.

“It is a $2 billion opportunity with a few hundreds of millions of people looking for fitness and health solutions,” he said.

VLCC, Talwalkars and unorganised gyms and fitness centres are currently catering to the fitness needs of people which can be digitised and taken online with a cloud-based mobile first and highly scalable solution like HealthifyMe, said Vashisht.

The app has devliered corporate wellness programmes to Philips, GE, Cognizant and Manipal Hospitals and also offers chargeable personalised coaching.

It syncs with wearable devices like Fitbit, Yufit and MiBand, among others.

Founded in 2012 by Tushar Vashisht, Sachin Shenoy and Mathew Cherian, Healthifyme is currently being used by 5,00,000 people being served by 100 coaches.

“With HealthifyMe we want to be that company in India for wellness what MakeMyTrip has done to travelling and Uber and Ola to cab service,” added Vashisht.

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India, US to discuss hike in US working visa fee at WTO

May 10, 2016 0

New Delhi– India and the US will engage in two-day bilateral consultations from Wednesday at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to discuss the American move to levy high fees on temporary working visas, an official statement said.

Immigration“The government of India looks forward to the consultations with the US at the WTO, scheduled for May 11-12,” the commerce ministry said in a statement here.

“India hopes that the United States will constructively engage with India to address its concerns regarding recent US measures which impair the ability of both US-based Indian companies and Indian professionals to supply services in the US.

“The H-1B and L-1 categories of non-immigrants, for which there has been a significant fee hike, correspond with the categories of specialists and intra-corporate transferees, both of which are part of US’ commitments under the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services,” the statement added.

India had approached the WTO’s dispute settlement body, in March, against the US measures imposing increased fees on certain applicants for the L-1 and H-1B category visas on the ground that the move would impact Indian IT professionals.

The statement noted that India and the US share a mutually inter-dependent and beneficial relationship in trade in services, with the US accounting for almost 60 percent of software exports from India, while Indian IT professionals have had a positive role in contributing to the competitiveness of the US economy.

The increasing volume of services trade has contributed to significant economic growth as well as employment creation within the US, it added.

“The situation therefore presents a win-win relationship for both nations. The US fee hike measures for the H-1B and L-1 categories are not only adversely affecting the competitiveness of India’s services industry engaged in the US market, but also creating uncertainties for Indian service suppliers,” the statement said.

According to India, the American visa fee hikes also run counter to the basic principles of a transparent and predictable trading environment that lies at the heart of the WTO agreements.

“India is hopeful that deliberations during the WTO consultations shall be constructive and would result in removal of these trade restrictive measures,” it said.

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Pan-India e-auction for tea inaugurated

May 10, 2016 0

Kolkata– A pan-India electronic auction system of tea which is expected to increase wider participation of buyers and sellers in the process and to ensure fair price discovery was inaugurated here on Tuesday.

“This effort of pan-India electronic tea auction is quite consistent with the kind of electronic enablement that we are doing across all our institutions. This is going to be a great improvement,” said Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia after inaugurating the system.

“With this effort, the auction is expected to be easier and more transparent. It will ensure greater participation of buyers and sellers so that there is a much better realisation of returns in a simplified format,” she said.

The system which is designed and developed by the Tea Board with consultation with all the stakeholders will enable buyers registered with a single auction centre to participate in the auction process of other centres as well.

Till now, the existing electronic auction process was region- and centre-specific, with restrictive participation of buyers as only those registered at a centre couldd only participate in the auction process of that centre.

There are seven auction centres in India – Kolkata, Guwahati, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, Kochi, Coonoor and Coimbatore where auctions are being conducted through electronic platform provided by Tea Board.

Manual auction tea in India started in 1861 and the region and centre specific electronic auctions commenced in 2009.

About 534 million kgs of tea are sold through e-auction system.

Pan India e-auction process is expected to kick-start in the third week of June this year.

“Introduction of a settlement banking system and routing of entire post auction payments through the auction system via the settlement bank is one of the important features of the pan India e-auction process,” a statement said.

This system will ensure transparency in the process and timely settlement of dues since the bank will act as a settlement agent between all the stakeholders -buyers, brokers, sellers and warehouses, it said.

Tea Board chairman Santosh kumar Sarangi said: “There are certain hesitations relating to settlement mechanism, VAT payment system which will be made by outside buyers. But this is a ongoing process. The board along NSE.IT remains committed to resolving the issues.”

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Emerging markets must coordinate better in crisis times: Rajan

May 10, 2016 0

London–Urging central banks in emerging economies to coordinate better at a time of crisis, Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said on Tuesday that many emerging markets have already been taking steps to help their neighbours.

Raghuram Rajan

Raghuram Rajan

“People need to work with each other and we need to figure out how to make this more part of the global structure” he said while delivering a lecture here at the London School of Economics, without naming any country in this regard.

Rajan also questioned the monetary policy actions of central banks in developed countries in trying to boost demand and said that such moves could actually be having little impact along the lines intended. “We are reaching the limits of what monetary policy can do.

“We are still broadly in a situation where we think the problems are largely temporary and sufficient stimulus will get the global economy back on track,” he added.(IANS)

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India ninth among crony capitalist nations: Economist

May 9, 2016 0

London–A spurt in number of billionaires and increasing wealth creation by any means have made India rank ninth among the crony capitalist countries, said a study in “The Economist” latest issue.

According to the weekly crony-capitalism index, crony fortunes had leapt relative to global GDP and as a share of total billionaire wealth.

“Encouragingly, India seems to be cleaning up its act. In 2008 crony wealth reached 18 percent of its GDP, putting it on a par with Russia. Today it stands at 3 percent of its GDP, a level similar to Australia,” the study revealed.

The non-crony sector wealth in India accounts for 8.3 percent of its GDP.

The index ranked Russia as the worst crony-capitalist country, followed by Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Ukraine, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey above India. Taiwan and China are ranked 10th and 11th after India.

The magazine’s index of crony capitalists is based on a study by Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Aditi Gandhi and Michael Walton of Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research.

The index was designed in 2014 to test whether the world was experiencing a new era of arobber barons’ – a global re-run of Americas’s “gilded age” in the late 19th century.

“It may seem that this new golden era of crony capitalism is coming to a shabby end. In London, Vijay Mallya, a ponytailed Indian tycoon, is fighting deportation back to India as the authorities there rake over his collapsed empire,” the article said, in light of legal battles the liquor baron is facing back home.

Using data on billionaires’ fortunes from rankings by the US magazine Forbes, the article labelled each billionaire as a crony or not, based on the industry in which he is most active.

“The pin-ups of Indian capitalism are no longer the pampered scions of its business dynasties, but the hungry founders of Flipkart, an e-commerce firm,” the study said, referring to its co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal figuring in the Forbes’ 2016 billionaires list, ranked jointly at 1,476 position.

Among the 22 countries in the updated index, Germany is the cleanest with least number of crony capitalists, ranking at the bottom of the index, while China has the biggest concentration of crony wealth in the world at $360 billion.

The study suggested that since globalisation had taken off in the 1990s, there had been a surge in billionaire wealth in industries that often involve cosy relations with the government, such as casinos, oil and construction.

Over two decades, crony fortunes had leapt relative to global GDP and as a share of total billionaire wealth.

“The economic climate has been tough on cronies, too. Commodity prices have tanked, cutting the value of mines, steel mills and oilfield concessions. Emerging-market currencies and shares have fallen. Asia’s long property boom has sputtered,” the study added. (IANS)

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EMC in race to develop smart cities in India

May 9, 2016 0

By Hardev Sanotra

Las Vegas–The world’s largest IT storage company is in the race for developing smart cities in India, offering their services to the central and state governments, according to senior officials of the company.

“We have already completed a health project for a state government to make hospitals smart and to provide real time information to the government for taking appropriate decision,” Rajesh Janey, President, EMC India and Saarc, told visiting Indian journalists to the EMC world annual conference here.

Rajesh Janey

Rajesh Janey

The project was done for Telengana, the newest state in India. “We are talking to the central governments as well as state authorities to offer the hardware and software to make cities smart,” Janey said.

The Narendra Modi government had announced an initiative to develop 100 smart cities in India, with initial funds of Rs.7,000 crore being allocated for the project by the central government, though very little was actually spent. The project would be implemented by state governments or city councils.

EMC and Dell had announced a $67 billion merger in October, making it the largest tech marriage in history. The EMC World conference at the casino capital of the world was told by Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell, on Monday that the merged entity would be called Dell Technologies while the enterprise company would be named Dell-EMC.

The merger is awaiting some regulatory approvals and is likely to be completed between June and October, according to the team set up to work out the logistics of two tech giants coming together.

EMC has over 5,000 employees in India, largely in the engineering section, with offices in Bengaluru, Hyderbad, Delhi NCR and some tier-two towns. It provides storage hardware and software to companies and did about $350 million (Rs.2,400 crore) business last year. The $25 billion EMC employs around 70,000 employees globally.

EMC has set up a division on smart cities, whereby they are offering services for collating all data from health services, traffic, police, power infrastructure, municipalities, weather division, transport and government services collating data and bringing forth significant information which needed decisions. Also, the interface with citizens and those who seek services would become much easier, officials say.

According to Rob Silverberg, Director and Chief Technology Officer, Enterprise Application Architecture for State, Local Government and Education at EMC California, the company is focussing on smart cities because it’s the world of future.

“We are talking to several cities and towns across the US to adopt what we have to offer,” said Silverberg, adding it would help city officials do their job more effectively and efficiently. He said the Indian section of EMC was following up on the smart cities in India. EMC is competing in smart cities business in the US and other countries with IBM.

Silverberg said that already a huge amount of data was being collected every day and every minute whether in crime tackling, traffic regulation or policing and other activities. “The data has to be stored and made intelligible for everyone so that right decisions are made fast.”

Silverberg said the EMC smart cities project could even help track crimes and prepare evidence for courts whether it’s through video monitoring data already been collected across the country or other methods. “Essential everything is data, and we are the experts who can help store and make sense of it,” he said.

According to Janey, the basic modules which the global company is now projecting to cities in various parts of the world, including Dubai, was made in Bengaluru by Indian software engineers. Janey said that EMC International had thrown up demand and the engineers in India came up with an effective solution which was adopted by the multinational. (IANS)

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NASA makes dozens of patents free for use

May 9, 2016 0

Washington– In a move that could immensely benefit private space technology companies, NASA has released 56 formerly patented agency technologies into the public domain, making its government-developed technologies freely available for unrestricted commercial use.

“By releasing this collection into the public domain, we are encouraging entrepreneurs to explore new ways to commercialise NASA technologies,” Daniel Lockney, NASA’s technology transfer programme executive, said in a statement.

In addition to the release of these technologies, a searchable database is now available that catalogues thousands of expired NASA patents already in the public domain, the US space agency said.

These technologies were developed to advance NASA missions but may have non-aerospace applications and be used by commercial space ventures and other companies free of charge, eliminating the time, expense and paperwork often associated with licensing intellectual property.

The technologies include advanced manufacturing processes, sensors, propulsion methods, rocket nozzles, thrusters, aircraft wing designs and improved rocket safety and performance concepts.

“By making these technologies available in the public domain, we are helping foster a new era of entrepreneurship that will again place America at the forefront of high-tech manufacturing and economic competitiveness,” Lockney said.

This patents release is the latest in NASA’s long tradition of extending the benefits of its research and development into the public sector, where it may enhance the economy and quality of life for more Americans.

The release may also help familiarise commercial space companies with NASA capabilities and result in new collaborations with private industry. (IANS)

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GM India rolls out first Beat for Argentina market

May 9, 2016 0
Chevrolet Beat-Green

Chevrolet Beat

Mumbai– General Motors India on Monday rolled-out the first left-hand drive Chevrolet Beat for export to Argentina.

According to General Motors India, Argentina is slated to become its sixth major export market.

“In keeping with our commitment to the Make in India program, we are proud to celebrate the roll-out of the first vehicle for Argentina,” said Kaher Kazem, president and managing director, GM India.

“In 2016, we plan to export over 50,000 vehicles, compared with 21,000 vehicles last calendar year, reinforcing our commitment to the Indian market and our strong local supplier base. This is part of GM’s strategy to make India an export hub for global markets and will help increase capacity utilization at our Talegaon plant.”

The automobile manufacturer said that it already exports the left-hand drive Beat to countries including Mexico, Chile, Peru, Central American and Caribbean Countries (CAC), and Uruguay.

 

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Indian steel exports down 27 percent in April

May 9, 2016 0

Kolkata– Steel exports fell 27 percent in April this year to 0.308 million tonnes(mt) while finished steel production in the country grew 3.2 percent to 7.48 million tonnes in the first month of the current fiscal, as per the steel ministry’s latest report.

“Export of total finished steel was down by 27 percent in April 2016 (0.308 mt) over April 2015 and declined by 12 percent over March 2016,” said the report of the ministry’s Joint Plant Committee (JPC).

India imported 0.654 mt of total finished steel in April 2016, down 15.5 percent over the same month last year.

According to the provisional data released by JPC, production for sale of total finished steel at 7.487 mt, registered a growth of 3.2 percent during April over year-ago month.

“During April 2016, the ISP (integrated steel plants) producers produced 3.956 mt, which was a growth of 1.2 percent while production for the other producers was up by 3.3 percent,” the report said.

The country’s steel consumption posted a 5.2 percent growth in April 2016 at 5.75 mt over corresponding month last year.

The report pointed out steel consumption in April was down 29 percent as compared to March (2016) consumption under the influence of a declining supply side as both production for sale and imports declined. (IANS)

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