Crowds throng jewelers on Akshaya Tritiya in India

Apr 28, 2017 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Google announces new program to inspire Indian entrepreneurs, developers

Apr 28, 2017 0

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

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

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

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

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India, Cyprus sign 4 agreements

Apr 28, 2017 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Petty corruption on decline in India, finds study

Apr 27, 2017 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Indian firms expect moderate economic expansion in 2017

Apr 27, 2017 0

New Delhi–Driven by positive economic sentiment, more than three-fourths (77 per cent) of senior finance executives of Indian companies expect moderate to substantial economic expansion in 2017, a survey said here on Thursday.

The survey – Global Business & Spending Outlook – commissioned by American Express and conducted by Institutional Investor Custom Research Lab, states that Indian companies are expected to increase their spending and investment in the market place with 67 per cent of Indian companies looking at focusing on spending and investment to support top-line growth while improving profitability this year.

The survey further revealed that about 37 per cent Indian finance executives expect their company’s level of spending and investment to increase by over 10 per cent as compared to only 24 per cent global executives, pointing towards Indian executives’ better preparedness at increasing their spending and investment as compared to their global counterparts.

“Indian companies are expected to increase their spending and investment this year which is backed by positive economic sentiment. With focus on optimising resources and efficiently managing spends across categories, India Inc. is headed towards a conducive growth chart,” said Saru Kaushal, Vice President and General Manager, Global Corporate Payments, American Express.

Indian executives are twice as likely to cite hardware and infrastructure as their top IT priority, compared with their global counterparts. According to 30 per cent of executives from India, compared to 13 per cent global and 14 per cent executives in Asia and Australia, hardware and infrastructure will be top most priority for companies.

According to the survey, nearly half (47 per cent) of the Indian executives expect exports to become important for their company’s growth in 2017.

The survey revealed that according to 67 per cent financial executives from India, pressure on their company to compete on the quality of its customer service has increased substantially. India leads when compared to the responses gathered from global (50 per cent) and Asia and Australia (44 per cent) markets for the same parameter. (IANS)

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India-Italy ties on recovery path via trade

Apr 27, 2017 0

New Delhi–Relations between India and Italy are set on the path to recovery, after strains that developed over the past years, with the Joint Economic Commission slated to meet in Rome in May after a gap of eight years, it was announced here on Thursday.

Visiting Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Ivan Scalfarotto said at the Italy-India Business Forum here that Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be leading a delegation for the joint commission meeting scheduled to be held in the middle of May.

Scalfarotto is currently in India at the head of a 140-member delegation, that includes representatives of 60 Italian companies, in a bid to boost bilateral trade and investment relations.

Bilateral relations were affected following the death of two Kerala fishermen at the hands of two Italian marines in the Enrica Lexie case in 2012.

“This India-Italy Business Forum is the official launch of a new partnership between both countries and involves the sharing of knowledge and experience,” Italian Ambassador Lorenzo Angeloni said addressing the packed venue.

Noting that some Italian companies like Fiat and Ferrero Rocher are household names in India, Additional Secretary Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Atul Chaturvedi said the government had asked India’s ambassador in Italy to start an outreach programme to attract small and medium industry to India, on the lines of a similar programme started in Germany.

“This is the first Italian business delegation to India since 2011 and signals the revitalisation of our relationship after its slowing down over the past some years,” Licia Mattioli, Vice President of the Italian Industry Association Confindustria, said.

“Despite the political and bilateral uncertainties of the last few years, Italian companies in India played a central role in keeping our cooperation going,” she said.

Bilateral trade in 2016 amounted to around $7.3 billion. There are over 600 Italian companies present in India.

Italian foreign direct investment in India amounts to around 5 billion euros.

Between Mumbai and Delhi, around 900 business-to-business meetings are planned during the ongoing bilateral business forum towards increasing collaborations.

Italy is offering collaborations in areas of its expertise including food processing, infrastructure, heavy machinery, renewable energy, advanced technology, as well as information and communication technology.

Talking to reporters on the Italian marines’ case, Scalfarotto said it is now with the International Court under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and relations between the two governments are back on track, as signalled by the meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Rome last year.

Regarding a free trade agreement, he said negotiations were on between the European Union and India and Italy is encouraging the EU to expedite the signing of an FTA. (IANS)

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All women team to man Kherki Daula toll plaza on Haryana-Delhi border

Apr 26, 2017 0

Gurugram– It will soon be an all-women affair at the Kherki Daula toll plaza on the Gurugram-Delhi Expressway for the collection of the tax on vehicles, an official said on Wednesday.

Kherki Daula toll plaza comprises 23 lanes/booths, of which 10 are being manned by women staff since April 24.

An official of toll collection company Skylark Infra Engineering Private Limited said the women have been skilled under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.

These women, apart from one in administration, hail from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

“We have hired these women staff through Varanasi-based training institute. Twenty more women from there are expected to reach Gurugram on Wednesday night,” Skylark Project Head Piyush Gandhi told IANS.

Gandhi said all 30 women will collect toll at 23 tollbooths from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The company has arranged for guest house accomodation in Kherki Daula for these women and provided pick-and-drop and food facilities free of cost.

On an average, nearly 70,000 vehicles cross the toll plaza daily. Skylark company assured of enough security at the toll plaza.

Tollbooth collectors Sanju Kumari, 19, Purnima Yadav, 20, and Mayanka Sharma, 23, said they were selected for the job after undergoing training for three weeks, adding that they were enjoying their work.

Their colleague Mamta said she had learnt how to deal with different kinds of commuters daily. “After duty hours, we enjoy spending time together,” said Purnima Yadav. (IANS)

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The Securities and Exchange Board of India allows options trading in commodities market

Apr 26, 2017 0

Mumbai–The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Wednesday approved the introduction of options trading in the commodities market.

Currently, only futures contracts are permitted in the commodity derivatives trading space.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting here of the SEBI Board, Chairman Ajay Tyagi said commodity options trading is one among various measures being planned by the regulator to deepen the markets.

The Chairman, however, did not provide details on what commodities can be traded, nor the date from which trading in options can begin.

In a bid to strengthen the commodity derivatives market, SEBI had last year allowed options trading in exchanges.

The National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) and Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) are the two main commodity exchanges.

Earlier this year, previous Chairman U.K. Sinha said SEBI was seeking legal opinion on options trading in commodities, which could require amendments to the Securities Contracts Regulations Act.

“To enable the commodity derivatives exchanges to organise trading of ‘options’, the Board has approved a proposal to amend the relevant provisions of Securities Contracts (Regulation) (Stock Exchanges and Clearing Corporations) Regulations, 2012,” SEBI said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Detailed guidelines for trading in ‘option’ on commodity derivatives exchanges will be issued by SEBI,” it added.

The Chairman said the board on Wednesday also approved proposals to grant a unified licence to commodity and equity brokers, as well as regulations for monitoring funds over Rs 100 crore raised through initial public offerings (IPO).

He said non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) with net worth of over Rs 500 crore will now be allowed to participate in IPOs as Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs).

SEBI has also allowed investors instant access to mutual funds (MFs) up to a limit of Rs 50,000 per day, and approved the tie-up of MFs with payment banks and e-wallets for the purpose. (IANS)

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RBI to issue new Rs 5 and Rs 10 coins

Apr 26, 2017 0

Mumbai– The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday said that it will soon issue new Rs 10 and Rs 5 coins in circulation.

According to the RBI, the central government has minted new Rs 5 coins to commemorate the “150th Anniversary of Allahabad High Court” and Rs 10 coins on the occasion of “One Hundred Twenty-fifth Year of National Archives of India”.

Besides, the Reserve Bank said that the existing Rs 5 and Rs 10 coins shall continue to be legal tender even after the issue of new coins.

The apex bank said that the reverse side of the Rs 5 coin shall bear the image depicting “Centre facade of Allahabad High Court Building emerging from the book”.

“The year 1866-2016 in English numerals shall be written at the bottom of the image,” the RBI said in a statement.

It said that Rs 10 coins’ reverse side shall bear the image of “National Archives Building” in the centre.

“A logo of 125th Anniversary Celebration shall exist at the centre and above the image of ‘National Archives Building’. The year 1916 and 2016 in international numerals shall be written respectively on left and right top of the image,” the statement said. (IANS)

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Indian Railways seeks partnership with industry

Apr 26, 2017 0

New Delhi–The Indian Railways on Wednesday asked the industry to partner with it for the “complete transformation” of the railway network in the country.

Addressing the fourth Global Rail Convention under the aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry here, Railway Board Member (Rolling Stock) Ravindra Gupta said close to 6,000 coaches would be refurbished in near future and this offered a huge opportunity as it involves investments of thousands of crores of rupees.

He added that new railway lines would also be added to the existing network of the railways which also offered “tremendous opportunities” for the private sector.

Railway Board Executive Director (Finance) Namita Mehrotra pointed out that safety and expansion of railways had undergone “massive changes” in the last two and a half years.

“The railways would spend Rs 1.31 lakh crore alone on its safety in next few years. It would also make huge investments on creating dedicated freight corridors for goods trains where their cost of operations would be minimum,” she said.

Czech Republic Ambassador Milan Hovorka and Deputy to the French Ambassador Claire Thuaudet offered expertise of their countries for efficient transformation of the Indian Railways at economic cost. (IANS)

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