IndUS Business Journal

Wipro offers digital services in Scotland

Sep 5, 2017 0

Bengaluru–Wipro has set up a digital pod in Scotland to offer digital services to its customers in Britain and Europe, said the software major on Tuesday.

“A digital pod allows teams to work with autonomy to facilitate speed, evaluate progress with user research and technical performance data. The Edinburgh pod is built for our digital strategy, design and engineering teams to work with clients in the region,” said the IT major in a statement here.

Wipro has been investing in digital technologies to accelerate and future-proof the digital transformation road-map of its clients. It already has 15 digital and design pods the world over, including in London, New York, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Madrid, Mountain View, Munich, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Bengaluru and Tokyo.

“Wipro’s investment into the Edinburgh pod is a testimony to innovation and digital expertise we have to create jobs. Its facility is a vote of confidence in the strength of the Scottish industry,” said British Minister of State for Trade and Investment Greg Hands.

The company’s 16th pod globally also allows it to incubate and co-create innovative and disruptive ideas alongside its clients in the region and work with them to develop digital engineering.

“The digital engagement enables our clients to experiment with new ideas, develop insights and scale these experiments to win in their markets,” said Wipro Digital Global Head Rajan Kohli in the statement.(IANS)

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Delhi businessman commits suicide after killing wife, son

Sep 5, 2017 0

New Delhi–A scrap dealer under depression for heavy business losses committed suicide after killing his wife and teenage son in west Delhi, police said on Tuesday.

Police said the late Monday night crime came to light on Tuesday when scrap dealer Om Prakash’s elder son informed Nihal Vihar Police Station.

Om Prakash, 45, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his residence in Nihal Vihar while bodies of his wife Sujata, 43, and son Prince, 12, with stab wounds were found lying on the first floor.

A police officer reportedly quoted a suicide note of Om Prakash recovered from the spot: “Who will take care of my family after me? I have killed my son and wife and am going to commit suicide.”

His elder son Nitin, who works for a telecom company, had gone to his uncle’s house in the neighbourhood when the crime occurred, Deputy Commissioner of Police Pankaj Singh said.

Nitin said he returned home early Tuesday morning and went to sleep in a room on the ground floor. When he was not called for breakfast, he called out his mother but got no response, Singh said.

He went upstairs and found his father hanging, and mother and brother lying in a pool of blood. A baseball bat, a blood-stained knife and the suicide note were lying around the bodies, he added.

Prima facie, Om Prakash hit his wife and son in their heads with the baseball bat while they were asleep. He later stabbed them half-a-dozen times each. When he was sure of their death, he wrote the note and hanged himself, the officer added. (IANS)

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Demonetisation to have high short-term economic costs, Rajan cautioned government

Sep 5, 2017 0

New Delhi– The demonetisation tool used by the Indian government to drive out black money could have long-term benefits but its short-term economic costs would outweigh them, ex-Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan feels.

“I was asked by the government in February 2016 for my views on demonetisation, which I gave orally. Although there might be long-term benefits, I felt the likely short-term economic costs would outweigh them, and felt there were potentially better alternatives to achieve the main goal,” Rajan writes in his book “I do what I do” published by Harper Businss, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers India. The book is to be launched by Rajan in Chennai on Tuesday.

The Indian government undertook the demonetisation drive on November 8, 2016 by banning high denomination Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

Rajan’s term as RBI governor ended on September 4, 2016.

Raghuram Ranjan

He further wrote on demonetisation: “I made these views known in no uncertain terms. I was then asked to prepare a note, which the RBI put together and handed to the government. It outlined the potential costs and benefits of demonetisation, as well as alternatives that could achieve similar aims.”

He said that “If the government, on weighing the pros and cons, still decided to go ahead with demonetisation, the note outlined the preparation that would be needed, and the time that preparation would take. The RBI flagged what would happen if preparation was inadequate.”

“At no point during my term was the RBI asked to make a decision on demonetisation,” Rajan said in the introduction to the book.

Mentioning that his book was not a ‘tell-all’, Rajan stated that many questions were posed to him since he left the post of RBI governor but he had “resolutely refused to answer until my period of silence is over”. He gave himself one year. The book is an edited collection of his speeches and articles. (IANS)

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Tata Motors President and CTO Leverton resigns

Sep 4, 2017 0

Mumbai–Automobile major Tata Motors on Monday said that its President and Chief Technical Officer Timothy Leverton has decided to “disengage from his services in the organisation”.

According to the company, Leverton decided to leave the organisation as “he wishes to relocate back to UK for personal reasons”.

Leverton has been associated with Tata Motors since 2010, working out of the Tata Motors Engineering Research Centre in Pune.

“Leverton will continue to remit his responsibilities till October 31, 2017. The successor to Leverton will be announced in due course of time,” the company said in a statement.

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Modi, Putin discuss trade, bilateral ties BRICS summit

Sep 4, 2017 0

By Gaurav Sharma

Xiamen, China–Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a bilateral meeting here on Monday with trade and investment, natural gas, tourism and youth exchanges featuring in their discussions.

The two leaders, who met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit here, “basically touched upon several aspects of the bilateral relationship”, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, briefing reporters here.

“President Putin recalled the Prime Minister’s visit to Russia earlier this year,” he added.

He said that Putin thanked Modi for India’s high-level participation at the Eastern Economic Forum, being held in Russia’s eastern port city of Vladivostok.

Both leaders discussed several aspects of bilateral issues in sectors like cooperation in the natural gas and oil sector, Kumar added.

Both sides also discussed how to promote bilateral trade and investment.

The meeting comes three months after the two leaders met, in St Petersburg for the annual India-Russia summit, and later at the SCO meeting in Astana in the same month where India was made a permanent member of the organisation.

At the St Petersburg summit, the two nations had signed an agreement on setting up Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu and decided to give a new direction to their defence cooperation.

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GST India’s biggest economic reform measure ever: Modi

Sep 4, 2017 0

Xiamen, China– Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced in July this year is the biggest economic reform ever in India.

“India is changing fast into one of the most open economies in the world today,” Modi said while addressing the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Business Council meet here as part of the 9th BRICS Summit.

“Foreign direct investment inflows are at an all-time high, rising by 40 per cent,” he said.

Stating that India has moved up in the World Bank index of ease of doing business and up 32 spots in last two years in the Global Competitiveness Index, Modi said: “The Goods and Services Tax that was introduced in July is India’s biggest economic reform measure ever. In one stroke, a unified market of 1.3 billion people has been created.”

He said that programmes like Digital India, Start-up India and Make in India were changing the economic landscape of the country.

“They are assisting India turn into a knowledge based, skill supported and technology driven society,” Modi stated.

He said that the BRICS Business Council played a vital role in giving practical shape to the vision of the bloc’s partnership.

“The partnerships you have forged and the networks you have created are energising the economic growth stories in each BRICS country,” he said, while praising the council for entering into a memorandum of understanding with the New Development Bank (NDB), the multilateral development bank established by the BRICS member states.

Modi also voiced his appreciation that the BRICS Business Council has matching priorities of trade and investment facilitation, promoting skills development, infrastructure development, small and medium enterprises (SME) development, e-commerce and digital economy.

He said that the council’s work towards establishment of a BRICS Rating Agency, energy cooperation, green finance, and digital economy was noteworthy.

“Let me conclude by saying that as governments, we will offer full support to your endeavours. And we also count on the BRICS Business Council to take us closer to our common objective of improving business and investment cooperation,” the Indian Prime Minister.

The council’s meeting was also attended by host Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Michel Temer, and South African President Jacob Zuma.

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India’s Forex reserves rise by $1.14 billion to $ $394.55 billion

Sep 1, 2017 0

Mumbai– India’s foreign exchange (Forex) reserves kitty increased by $1.148 billion as on August 25, 2017, official data showed on Friday.

The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) weekly statistical supplement released on Friday showed that the overall Forex reserves rose to $394.55 billion from $393.40 billion reported for the week ended August 18.

India’s Forex reserves comprise of foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and the RBI’s position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Segment-wise, FCAs — the largest component of the Forex reserves — augmented by $1.142 billion to $370.83 billion during the week under review.

Besides the US dollar, FCAs consist of nearly 20-30 per cent of major (non-US) global currencies. The FCAs also include investments in US Treasury bonds, bonds of other selected governments and deposits with foreign central and commercial banks.

The country’s gold reserves were stagnant at $19.94 billion.

However, the value of SDRs increased by $2.3 million to $1.49 billion.

Similarly, the country’s reserve position with the IMF edged higher by $3.6 million to $2.27 billion. (IANS)

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Finance to Freedom: A businesswoman finds salvation in Buddhism

Sep 1, 2017 0

By Saket Suman

Thimphu, Bhutan– Twenty years ago she was a chartered financial accountant in a fund management company in Hong Kong — and before that in New York and London — smoking cigarettes and dressing fancy. Today she wears maroon monastic clothes, her head shaven, asking people to buy her book, whose royalties go to the welfare of disabled children in Bhutan.

Emma Slade, 51, is an unusual Buddhist nun in Bhutan. The course of her life changed drastically after a visit to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, in 1997.

“I was on a business trip to Indonesia. I was staying in a lovely five-star hotel and I opened the door, only to see a man with a gun! He pushed it to my chest, I saw the door close and yes, there I was in the room with him. It was a very shattering experience which has now turned into something very useful.

“You don’t expect something like that to happen to you, especially in a five-star hotel. I was there for about three hours. It doesn’t sound a very long period of time perhaps, but I think what happened was a really very odd situation. He was there to rob me but in the end he was quite confused. We ended up being trapped in the room together. I was being held hostage by somebody who himself was trapped in many ways,” Slade told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of the just-concluded Mountain Echoes Literary Festival here.

Emma Slade, 51, is an unusual Buddhist nun in Bhutan.

This incident left a profound impact on her. Only a few days later she was shown a picture of the hostage taker, surrounded by a pool of blood. This photograph, shown to her by Indonesian police, is firmly etched in her memory.

“I escaped alive, that was a great deal. I had terrible flashbacks, experienced lots of traumatic visions. His smell lingered in my head for many, many months. The feeling of him being very near to me was hard for a long time and I had to recover from that. It did shatter my trust in the world entirely.

“I felt as if I had been very lucky to survive and that I could not go on with finance any longer. I didn’t want to go on thinking about dresses and money because I had been given, gifted and granted my life back. I sold my place, all my possessions and I just travelled around the world,” recalled Slade.

She describes this realisation — that she was gifted her life — as an important moment in her spiritual journey, one that led her to abandoning her trouser-suits and high heels to become a Buddhist nun in Bhutan.

So for the next two to three years, she was travelling around the world in quest of answers to questions that she herself didn’t know. “Probably I was just looking for myself,” she added.

“I discovered yoga, discovered this very profound feeling of being connected to the natural world, and that’s what I did for about two years around the world. Then I realised that it was time I should go into retreat and meditate. Since then most of my life has been in and around meditation and yoga,” she elaborated.

Her book, “Set Free”, narrates the tale of her extraordinary life and its changed course.

“Buddhism was of great interest to me since a very young age. Any picture of the Buddha or even the prayer flags sort of pulled me towards them. They seem to express such peacefulness. Gradually, my interest and understanding grew with time — and also my efforts. I came to Bhutan in 2011 to be in Buddhist culture, not as a separate entity with boundaries but to experience it in a natural habitat where that is the way of life,” she recalled.

Slade now splits her time between her hometown of Whistable in Kent and Bhutan. She is also learning Tibetan and has founded a charity for disabled children in Bhutan. The royalties from her book will go to this charity and she hopes to reside permanently in Bhutan soon.

She is currently the only Western woman to have been ordained as a nun in Bhutan. “Now things make a lot more sense to me,” she concluded. (IANS)

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India’s Q1 GDP growth slows down to 5.7 percent

Aug 31, 2017 0

New Delhi–Pulled down by sluggish manufacturing, growth in the Indian economy during the first quarter of this fiscal fell to 5.7 per cent, clocking the lowest GDP growth rate under the Narendra Modi dispensation, official data showed on Thursday. Industry expressed disappointment at the numbers, saying it anticipated a rebound from the ongoing quarter.

The previous low of 4.6 per cent was recorded in January-March 2014.

According to data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), India’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter at Rs 31.10 lakh crore grew 5.7 per cent over the same quarter last year. During the previous quarter the GDP had grown by 6.1 per cent.

The country’s GDP had grown at 7.9 per cent in the same period a year ago.

“GDP at constant (2011-12) prices in Q1 of 2017-18 is estimated at Rs 31.10 lakh crore, as against Rs 29.42 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17, showing a growth rate of 5.7 per cent,” a CSO release here said.

Pankaj Patel, President, FICCI

In terms of Gross Value Added (GVA), which excludes indirect taxes and subsidies, the growth was even lower at 5.6 per cent over the GVA for the corresponding quarter of last year.

The principal reason for the decline in growth is a fall in manufacturing sector, where GVA fell sharply to 1.2 per cent, from 10.7 per cent a year ago, Chief Statistician T.C.A. Anant told reporters here after the release of the numbers.

“Principally, the major sector that has seen a sharp decline in industry,” he said.

“The major reason for slowdown in growth at 5.7 per cent is on account of manufacturing, where GVA is largely contributed by the private sector. In all, 74 per cent of the GVA comes from corporate sector. Its performance has been poor, though the sales growth is good,” he added.

Anant said the slowdown in the first quarter to 5.7 per cent was due to de-stocking by firms as caution ahead of the GST roll-out on July 1.

He said there was a likely revival from the second quarter onwards as subsequently stocks would be restored to normal levels as the GST regime progressed.

The GVA in manufacturing was showing a declining trend from Q2 of the last fiscal, which has continued, he added.

Anant noted that another reason for the fall in growth rate was rise in costs on account of prices in intermediate inputs, which has been much higher than last year.

He said services and crop production have seen an increase in the first quarter.

The financial, insurance, real estate and professional services sectors also slowed to 6.4 percent in the April-June quarter from 9.4 per cent a year ago.

Activities that registered growth of over 7 per cent in the first quarter were trade, hotels, transport and communication and services related to broadcasting, public administration, defence and other services and electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services.

Growth in agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction and financial, insurance, real estate and professional services is estimated to be 2.3 per cent, (-)0.7 per cent, 1.2 per cent, 2 per cent and 6.4 per cent, respectively, during this period.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also blamed the fall in growth on the de-stocking of inventories by industry in anticipation of the GST and said this process is ending and manufacturing is expected to pick up from the current quarter.

“That manufacturing has fallen is essentially due to the anticipatory impact of GST (Goods and Services Tax). Since it came in July, most manufacturers were de-stocking,” Jaitley told reporters here, noting that services growth had, however, improved during the quarter in question.

“De-stocking of the manufacturing sector seems to have been completed, so the dip in manufacturing could be bottoming out from this quarter,” he said.

“Gross fixed capital ratio turned positive, investment improved… services improved,” during the first quarter, he added.

India Inc on Thursday expressed disappointment over slowing down of India’s GDP growth to 5.7 per cent in the June-ended first quarter of the current fiscal, as the industry was anticipating a rebound from low growth numbers.

“Growth numbers indicate a moderation in agriculture and industrial sectors. The uncertainty surrounding implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) did impact industrial production in the first quarter. However, we are confident that this effect will wane off in coming months,” said Pankaj Patel, President, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

Industry lobby Assocham suggested the policymakers to take urgent steps to revive private investments following the recent push to accelerate infrastructure spending, to improve the business climate and (eventually) less leveraged corporates’ and banks’ balance sheets.

“Continuous fall in fixed investments, unsolved problem of banks’ NPAs (non-performing assets) in India, global policy and political risks and tightening financial conditions on account of deleveraging financial institutions and slowdown in real estate could weigh negatively,” the industry lobby said in a statement.

According to Anis Chakravarty, Lead Economist, Deloitte, the fall in the latest growth number was possibly on account of the temporary shocks in combination with an overall slowing of the economy.

“Financial services show a worsening trend, while government-led services have done well with front loading of expenditure,” said Chakravarty. (IANS)

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India, Switzerland to enhance cooperation in fight against tax fraud

Aug 31, 2017 0

New Delhi–India and Switzerland on Thursday agreed to enhance cooperation in the fight against tax fraud while acknowledging the need for a global level playing field for implementation of the international standards on tax transparency.

A joint statement issued following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Swiss President Doris Leuthard said that “both leaders emphasised their willingness to further enhance cooperation in the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion”.

“They acknowledged the importance of a global level playing field for effective implementation of the international standards on tax transparency,” the statement said.

“They noted with satisfaction the signing of the Joint Declaration in November 2016 on the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and, in this context, President Leuthard briefed Prime Minister Modi about the ongoing parliamentary procedure in Switzerland,” it said.

Addressing the media with the visiting dignitary after the delegation-level talks, Modi said India will continue to work with Switzerland to combat black money while the Swiss President stressed that her country has one of the strongest laws against money laundering.

“Transparency in financial transactions is an issue of concern in today’s world, whether it be black money, dirty money, hawala or arms and drugs financing,” Modi said.

“To combat this global problem, we will continue to cooperate with Switzerland,” he said.

Modi said that with two countries signing a joint declaration for automatic exchange of tax information last year, India will get such information on an automatic basis once it is internally ratified in Switzerland.

On her part, Leuthard said that the law was now with the Swiss Parliament for ratification and hoped that such information can be shared with India from 2019 onwards.

“This is important because Switzerland is, and will be, an important financial place and we have all interest to be transparent, cooperative, and a good reliable partner,” she said, adding that both her country and India can go hand in hand on this.

Leuthard said Switzerland had one of the strongest laws against money laundering and hoped other countries will follow suit.

According to the joint statement, Modi also expressed his expectation that Switzerland will implement the recommendations of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information in Tax Matters with the view to further improve mutual administrative assistance in tax matters, the statement said.

In his address to the media, the Prime Minister said foreign direct investment is an important pillar of economic cooperation between India and Switzerland. “We specially welcome Swiss investors in India.

“We agreed to continue discussions on a bilateral investment agreement. Swiss companies have a lot of expertise to partner India in its road to development.”

Modi said that in a meeting of business leaders of the two countries he attended along with Leuthard, it was clear that both sides were eager to have business-to-business collaborations.

The Swiss President said she discussed with Modi the issue of an investor protection agreement on which negotiations were underway.

Switzerland is the seventh largest trading partner for India with a total bilateral trade, including merchandise exports, bullion and IT services and software exports, of $18.2 billion in 2016-17.

From April 2000 to September 2016, Switzerland invested approximately $3.57 billion in India, thus becoming the 11th largest investor and accounting for about 1.2 per cent of total foreign direct investment (FDI) in India.

Stating that the proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and India also came up for discussion, Modi said that both sides were committed to an early conclusion of this.

He also said that both countries have agreed to work together for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Following Thursday’s talks, the two countries signed two agreements on cooperation in the railway sector.

Leuthard arrived here on Wednesday on a four-day visit to India. Swiss Presidents have earlier visited India in 1998, 2003, and 2007.

Modi visited Switzerland in June 2016 in what was the first prime ministerial visit from India to that country in several decades. (IANS)

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