IndUS Business Journal

Tejas, India’s indigenous stealth fighter, inducted after 33-year delay

Jul 1, 2016 0

Bengaluru– The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday inducted indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas that boosts its weakening operational capability, 33 years after the project to develop the multi-role stealth fighter was cleared.

The single-engine supersonic delta-wing aircraft is capable of carrying four tonnes of weapons and firing air-to-air missiles and precision-guided munitions like laser-guided bombs — to attack enemy fighters and hit ground targets at a speed of more than 1,300 km per hour.

TejasThe aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is fitted with Israeli multi-mode radar, the Elta 2032, which is suitable for air-to-air and air-to-surface modes. It is capable of lowering its radar signature that makes it harder to be detected early.

The aircraft is also equipped with a helmet-mounted display and has a distinctive ‘glass cockpit’ in which information is displayed real-time to the pilot.

In more ways than one, the fourth generation-plus advanced fly-by-wire Tejas is comparable to the French-built Mirage 2000 and is expected to replace the IAF’s MIG squadrons being decommissioned from service. It is also considered far more advanced than the JF-17 fighter jointly built by China and Pakistan.

The induction of the fighter gives a major boost to the IAF’s fighting capability.

The IAF’s fighter aircraft fleet of approximately 600 Russian, British and French jets is currently at only 33 squadrons, against its requirement of 45 in a case of a two-front war with Pakistan and China. The IAF has a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons.

The IAF was earlier reluctant to have the Tejas in its fleet because the force had argued previously that after three decades of gestation period it would become obsolete by the time the aircraft entered the squadron service.

Officials said it was only after Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened and promised a more powerful fighter to be developed indigenously in the near future that the IAF agreed to induct the first version of Tejas.

And on Friday when the jet finally made it into the IAF’s 45 Squadron, the “Flying Daggers”, air force officers cracked open coconuts as offerings to Hindu deities as priests held multi-faith ceremonies to mark the induction process with two planes.

Fire tenders in a military ritual sprayed water on the two jets as they rolled across the tarmac before the aircraft took off and manoeuvred within visual ranges under a cloudy Bengaluru sky and windy conditions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi expressed “unparalleled pride and happiness” over the induction.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, apparently keen on indigenisation of defence industry, said in a Twitter post that it was a “moment of national pride”.

“Tejas will take our air strength to new heights,” wrote the Defence Minister.

To its credit, Tejas has had no accident in 3,000 sorties lasting over 2,000 hours of flying so far.

IAF test pilot and commanding officer of ‘Flying Daggers 45’ Group Captain Madhav Rangachari flew one of the multi-role aircraft for about 10 minutes from the Aircraft System Testing Establishment of the air force.

“I felt like being on top of the world when flying the Tejas fighter. It’s an honour and a privilege to pilot the inaugural flight of the LCA soon after its induction,” Rangachari told reporters.

The project to develop the indigenous fighter was first sanctioned in August 1983 and has cost so far Rs 55,000 crore. (IANS)

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Impressed by Mamata’s clarity of vision: US official

Jul 1, 2016 0

Kolkata– US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon on Friday said he was “very impressed” with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and underscored her commitment in facilitating India’s policy towards Bangladesh.

Shannon, who on Thursday met Banerjee at the state secretariat, invited her to Washington for scouting for potential American investment in the state including in the port sector.

Mamta-US Official“I was very impressed by the chief minister. She is a strong leader and she has got a very clear vision about what she wants to accomplish,” Shannon said at a media roundtable here.

“We like strong partners, we like to work with people who have a clear understanding of what they want to accomplish, because then we can figure out how we can participate and where we might be able to be of assistance.

“I came away with the meeting with the chief minister impressed by her visions and admiring her political skills, especially in the aftermath of her re-election,” said Shannon, profuse in his praise for the Trinamool Congress supremo.

He also hailed Banerjee’s role in facilitating communication with the Bangladesh government and addressing “some of the cross-border transportation issues” to promote movement of goods.

“I came away impressed by the chief minister’s understanding of politics inside of Bangladesh, impressed by her relationship with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. I am convinced that the chief minister is committed to using her presence in state government to facilitate national policy towards Bangladesh,” said Shannon.

While the duo did talk about the Indo-Bangladesh border, Shannon said there was no discussion on the contentious issue of the Teesta river water sharing pact.

On the investment front, Shannon said the discussion hovered around foreign direct investment (FDI) and the areas where American companies can invest including in the port sector and green industries.

“What was striking for me yesterday (Thursday), was to listen to her describe what she has accomplished in fairly short order, and how she and her team are looking for enhanced foreign direct investment and a commercial presence in the region,” he said.

“She described some of the port projects (in Bengal). We have several large port authorities that have great expertise in the management of large ports, managements of industrial complexes and we believe some of them could be of real interest to her government,” he said.

“We talked about how to attract hi-tech investment both software development and light manufacturing, we talked about green industries,” he said.

“She has a really interesting vision for what Kolkata could become, building on its strong education base, it’s obvious intellectual accomplishments, and how connecting with hi-tech industries and building of infrastructure, it can become a major commercial and development hub for the entire region.

“And for this reason, as we look at our broader policy in South Asia and South East Asia, having a kind of Kolkata that the chief minister described, would be really positive for India, and really positive for us,” said the diplomat adding that the presence of American investment in the region was “not as big as other parts of the country”.

Shannon also said he had invited Banerjee to the US.

“We agreed through our consul general to work with her team to explore what her visit to Washington would look like and how we could ensure that it met her interests in identifying potential American companies or port authorities that might be interested in working with her government,” he added.

He also visited local cultural sites including the Ramakrishna Mission headquarters at Belur and the Missionaries of Charity’s Mother House where he paid homage to Mother Teresa’s tomb.

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India’s June manufacturing index hits 3-month high

Jul 1, 2016 0

Mumbai– Manufacturing in India saw a significant uptrend in June registering a three-month high on the back of stronger increase in new business orders, key macro-economic data showed on Friday.

The Nikkei Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – a composite indicator of manufacturing performance – rose to 51.7 in June from 50.7 in May.

An index reading of above 50 indicates an overall increase in the economic activity, and below 50, an overall decrease.

“Supported by a stronger increase in new business inflows, Indian manufacturers raised production at a faster rate during June,” financial services firm Markit, which compiles the monthly report, said in a release here.

“Rising from 50.7 in May, the headline index was at a three-month high at 51.7 in June,” it said.

“Indian factories registered a welcome upturn in growth of both production and new orders mid-way through 2016, but producers clearly remain stuck in a low gear,” said Pollyanna De Lima, economist at Markit and author of the report.

“The domestic market continues to be the main growth driver, as the Indian economic upturn provides a steady stream of new business. However, it looks as if lacklustre global demand remains a headwind for Indian manufacturers.

“Rates of expansion remain weak by historical standards, with the PMI average for April-June being lower than that seen in the prior quarter,” she added.

De Lima said, however, that sustained growth of output and order books failed to encourage producers to raise employment.

“In fact, it has been roughly three years since the sector has seen any meaningful job creation,” she said.

The Indian economy grew at 7.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015-16, taking the overall GDP growth to 7.6 per cent for the entire fiscal.

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Karnataka exporting 1,200 tonne of mangoes to US

Jul 1, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Karnataka has bagged an order to export 1,200 tonne of mangoes to the US this season as its fruit varieties passed through stringent standards, a top official said on Friday.

“Though we got the order last week at the end of the mango season, we have enough stocks to export 1,000 tonnes and are procuring remaining quantity (200 tonne) to meet the demand,” Karnataka State Mango Development & Marketing Corporation Ltd managing director Kadire Gowda told IANS here.

The state-run corporation has tied up with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) and Innova Agri Bio Park at Malur in Kolar district to ensure the export variety of mangoes meet the stringent quality standards in the US market.

Alphansoes

Alphansoes

“Gamma radiation treatment of mangoes is mandatory to meet the US regulatory norms for fruit exports from India, like vapour heat treatment for exporting to Japan and hot water treatment for Australia,” Gowda said.

The five-year-old corporation has exported about 6,000 tonnes of mangoes to Europe, Gulf region and South East Asia without any special treatment this season at Rs 60 per kg, excluding overheads and logistic charges, which are met by intermediary agents.

“The export order for the US market includes 500 tonne of Alphansoes and Banganapalli and 100 tonne each of Dusheri and Kesar variety. To promote our fruit in the US, we are charging same rate (Rs 60 per kg) as for other countries,” Gowda stated.

The corporation has also tie-up with 10 leading mango exporters in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune to secure firm orders for growers and farmers across the state and ensure they are rewarded with high price.

“Export to the US market will enable us to get similar orders from other countries like Italy, Spain, Sri Lanka and South Africa, which also have stringent quality control norms,” Gowda added.

As the third largest producer of the king of fruits after Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka produces 15-20 lakh tonne of mangoes in two-lakh hectares of land across the state, with Srinivasapura in Kolar district being the biggest producer. (IANS)

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India starts Tourism Development Corp divestment process

Jul 1, 2016 0

New Delhi– The central government on Friday initiated the process of 12.03 per cent stake sale in the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), through which it could obtain around Rs 260 crore.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), earlier known as Disinvestment Department, invited bids from merchant bankers and selling brokers to assist and advise the government in the disinvestment process of ITDC.

Hotel Kalinga Ashok

Hotel Kalinga Ashok

“The government is considering divesting 12.03 per cent paid-up equity share capital of ITDC out of its shareholding of 87.03 per cent in domestic market through offer for sale,” said the notice of tender floated by the department.

The merchant bankers will need to submit proposals to the government by July 21. Its scrip on Friday closed at Rs. 248.95, down 5.59 per cent on BSE from the previous close. At the current market price, the share sale could fetch about Rs 260 crore to the exchequer.

The corporation has a network of eight Ashok Group of Hotels, five JV hotels, one restaurant, 11 transport units, and nine duty-free shop at airports and seaports.

ITDC, which commenced operation in October 1966, is running a hotel at Bharatpur and a restaurant at Kosi on behalf of the Department of Tourism. It also manages catering services at Western Court, Vigyan Bhawan and Hyderabad House, New Delhi.

The government plans to mop up Rs 56,500 crore through stake sale in public sector undertakings (PSUs) and ITDC stake sale is set to add to the divestment kitty.

Of the total, Rs 36,000 crore is expected to come in from minority stake sale in PSUs and another Rs 20,500 crore from strategic stake sale in both profit- and loss-making PSUs.

So far, it raised about Rs 2,700 crore from stake sale in NHPC and another Rs 240 crore through employee subscription of IOC stake sale.

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Deadline for jewellers’ excise registration extended to July-end

Jul 1, 2016 0

New Delhi– The government on Friday extended the time for jewellers to get registered with the central excise department by one month, till July 31, an official statement said.

The liability for payment of central excise duty will be with effect from March 1, 2016, a union finance ministry statement here said.

Jewellers can settle the excise dues for the months March to May along with that of June by July 31, it added.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in the current fiscal’s budget presented in February imposed 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery, provoking protests by jewellers across the country including by closure of shops.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs has already notified jewellers to get themselves registered with the excise department by July 1. (IANS)

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Indian money in Swiss bank accounts falls to record low

Jun 30, 2016 0

Zurich– With the Indian government’s window to disclose unaccounted wealth opening this month, Swiss National Bank data on Thursday showed money held by Indians in Swiss banks has fallen by nearly one-third to a record low of 1.2 billion francs (about Rs 8,392 crore).

Indian-held funds in Switzerland banks fell by 596.42 million Swiss francs to 1,217.6 million Swiss francs at the end of 2015, marking the second straight year of decline, as per latest data released by Switzerland’s central bank.

Swiss FlagLast year also marked the lowest amount of funds held by Indians in the Swiss banks ever since the country started making the data public in 1997.

Total funds held in Swiss banks by Indians directly at the end of 2015 stood at 1,206.71 million Swiss francs, which was down from 1,776 million Swiss francs the year before.

Further, money held by Indians through fiduciaries or wealth managers was down at 10.89 million Swiss francs, from 37.92 million Swiss francs at the end of 2014. The total, at the end of 2014, stood at 1,814 million Swiss francs.

The total money held in Swiss banks by all their foreign clients from across the world also fell by nearly 4 per cent, from over 58 billion Swiss francs to 1.41 trillion Swiss francs ($1.45 trillion).

The funds, described by Swiss National Bank as “liabilities” of Swiss banks or “amounts due to” their clients, are official figures released by the central bank.

In connection with the black money issue, India has been in touch with the Swiss government under the mandate of the bilateral double taxation avoidance treaty (DTAT) and is waiting for early operationalisation of automatic exchange of information with it.

India’s Income Tax department has last year filed 121 cases of prosecution against those entities whose names have appeared in an HSBC Geneva bank list.

This move followed India’s Supreme Court last year giving a list of 628 entities in the HSBC Geneva branch, that was furnished to it in a sealed envelope by the central government, to the Special Investigation Team constituted by the court.

India has enacted the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 to deal with the menace of black money stashed abroad. This Act also provides for a compliance window (to end on September 30) to people who have undisclosed foreign assets which they had not disclosed for the purposes of income tax so far.

The Indian government said last month that it has uncovered indirect tax evasion of Rs 50,000 crore and undisclosed income of Rs 21,000 crore in the last two years.

“Prosecution has been launched in 1,466 cases as against 1,169 cases in the previous two years (25 percent increase),” India’s finance ministry said in a release in New Delhi. (IANS)

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Singapore’s Mandala Capital to invest $10 million in Bengal lab

Jun 30, 2016 0

Kolkata–West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Thursday said Mandala Capital of Singapore will invest $10 million (around Rs 70 crore) to acquire 51 per cent stake in food processing laboratory EFRAC.

Referring state’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s visit to Singapore in 2014, he said: “This is just the beginning. They have plans to invest another $10 million.”

The company so far invested about Rs 1,200 crore over the years in Indian agri-businesses.

Dominic Redfern of the company said they decided to invest in the laboratory because of the highest standards of ethics practiced in the organisation which operates an integrated testing and research laboratory for food processing, pharmaceutical and environment sectors at Barasat in North 24 Parganas.

The laboratory has a team of 94 scientists, which will be increased to 130 next year, Mitra said.

Officials from the laboratory said they have plans to set up a USFDA certified pharma testing facility and expand its network of sales offices and collection centres with the funds. (IANS)

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US official, Mamata discuss investment, technology

Jun 30, 2016 0

Kolkata–US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon on Thursday called on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and discussed wide-ranging issues including investment in the state.

State Finance Minister Amit Mitra among others was present at the meeting held at the state secretariat “Nabanna”.

Mamta Banerjee

Mamta Banerjee

Banerjee said the issues discussed included investment, technology, culture and the social media.

“We have very good relations with them (the US). A large number of students from our state study there. We discussed lot of issues like investment, technology, culture and social media,” she said after the meeting.

According to sources, the discussion mostly hovered around American investment in the state.

This was the first time a US delegation met Banerjee after her Trinamool Congress swept to power for the second consecutive time in the state with a massive mandate.

Thanking Banerjee for the meeting, Shannon said his country has old ties with Kolkata and the relationship will expand in the coming days.

“India has good relations with American. Our relations with Kolkata is also very old. This will increase in the days to come. This conversation will continue,” he said.

In 2012, the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had met Banerjee in the city. (IANS)

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India’s April-May fiscal deficit touches 43% of budget estimates

Jun 30, 2016 0

New Delhi– India’s fiscal deficit during April-May at Rs 2.28 lakh crore touched 42.9 per cent of the Budget estimates for fiscal 2016-17, as compared to the 37.5 per cent it had reached in the same period a year ago, government data showed on Thursday.

As per the Controller General of Accounts, the deficit, or the gap between expenditure and revenue for the entire current fiscal, has been pegged at Rs 5.33 lakh crore.

Tax revenue during the period in question yielded Rs 49,690 crore, or 4.7 percent of the estimate.

Total receipts, from revenue and non-debt capital, during the two months, were Rs 69,060 crore, or 4.8 percent of the estimates for the current fiscal.

Total expenditure of the government during April-May was Rs 2.98 lakh crore, or 15.1 percent of the entire fiscal’s estimates.

The revenue deficit during April-May was over Rs 1.99 lakh crore, or 56.2 percent of the estimates.

The government has set the target of restricting the current fiscal’s deficit at 3.5 per cent of the GDP or to Rs 5.33 lakh crore.

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