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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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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Work to introduce semi-high speed trains on two routes to begin soon

Feb 21, 2017 0

New Delhi–Indian Railways will soon start sub-projects aimed at introducing semi-high speed trains on the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes, a senior ministry official said on Tuesday.

“The two sub-projects under ‘Mission Raftaar’ are expected to be completed in three years with a total outlay of Rs 18,163 crore,” the official said.

After the upgrade, trains on the routes will run at a speed of 160 km per hour.

The ‘Mission Raftaar’ project of the Indian Railways envisages to raise the average speed of both passenger and freight trains.

The mission is being spearheaded by a cross disciplinary mobility directorate in the Railway Board.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a Detailed Project Report of the routes is being prepared.

The Delhi-Howrah section will be upgraded at a cost of Rs 6,974 crore, and the Delhi-Mumbai section at an estimated Rs 11,189 crore.

The official said the work involved replacing locomotives-hauled trains with Main line Electric Multiple Units and Diesel Electric Multiple Units trains. (IANS)

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Indian electronics market to be $228 billion in 2020

Feb 21, 2017 0

Bengaluru– India’s booming electronics’ market is projected to more than double to $228 billion in three more years from over $100 billion in fiscal 2016-17, said the industry’s trade body on Tuesday.

“India’s ESDM (Electronics System, Design & Manufacturing) sector is poised to reach $228 billion by 2020 from $100 billion in 2016-17, growing at 16-23 per cent annually,” said a joint report of the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA) and global services firm Ernst & Young (EY) at a summit here.

The report’s forecasts are based on the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, currency movement, inflation, trade pacts, consumer sentiments, policies, investments, manufacturing entities and value addition.

“The manufacturing of electronic products is expected to increase in five years from 17 per cent annual growth, while the electronic manufacturing services segment is projected to grow 42-68 per cent over the next five years to $6-13.2 billion from $1 billion in 2015,” Association Chairman K. Krishna Moorthy told reporters here.

Digital revolution and the government’s thrust on using technology to improve delivery of its public services have opened up huge opportunities to develop and manufacture innovative products and solutions across the country.

“As we see our industry scale up in value addition and value proposition, we are focusing on design and IP (Intellectual Property) ownership to boost and sustain the manufacturing eco-system,” asserted Moorthy.

Highlighting the involvement of state governments in the 12th edition of the IESA’s Vision Summit, Association President M.N. Vidyashankar said designing was a key component for innovation and development of electronic products.

“We are promoting local manufacturing and focusing on design-led growth of the ESDM sector. With Rs 745-crore budgetary support through schemes like M-SIPS and EDF, we believe India will be the next manufacturing powerhouse,” asserted Vidyashankar, a former Additional Secretary of the Karnataka government.

The Association has projected Rs 1,700-crore investments in the sector under the central government’s M-SIPS (Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme) and EDF (Electronic Development Fund), which are aimed at increasing domestic production of electronics under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

The Association’s Technovation Sarabhai Award was given to the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar for leading the country’s space missions for various applications and exploration.

The Association works with the central and state government in framing policies and taking measures to scale up indigenous production to meet the rising demand for electronics. (IANS)

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India aims to bring broadband to every village by 2018

Feb 21, 2017 0

New Delhi–India aims to bring high-speed digital connectivity to every village by 2018 and is keen to share expertise in the area with other nations, the government said on Tuesday.

“India’s Department of Telecom, under the Universal Services Obligation (USO) fund, is working to bring high-speed broadband to every village in the country by 2018,” Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak said at the global conference here organised by the Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC).

“The government is working to bring the game-changing impact of technology to all our six lakh villages and the optical fibre network to all rural areas,” he added.

Noting that the Indian telecom was currently the “most happening infrastructural sector in the country”, Deepak dwelt on the unique advantage of Indian products.

“Indian products offer the unique advantage of impeccable quality at affordable prices,” he said, adding these are based on the “state-of-the-art technology” and are “future proof, in that, they can be upgraded and upscaled and don’t have to be thrown away”.

Pointing out that Indian products are “robust”, designed for tough climatic and dusty conditions, Deepak said that telecom manufacturing in India was characterised by the synergy between hardware and software.

“Lastly, we have a fast-growing startup eco system, the second largest in the world,” he added.

In his Union Budget presented on February 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government would allocate Rs 10,000 crore to expand the Bharat Net project in 2017-18 for high-speed broadband.

Bharat Net was rebranded from the earlier National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) project in April 2015, and aims to cover a total of 2.5 lakh village panchayats.

The Bharat Net project is funded under the USOF set up in 2012 for providing telecom services in rural areas at subsidised rates. (IANS)

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Reliance Jio crosses 100 million customer mark: Ambani

Feb 21, 2017 0

Mumbai–Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani on Tuesday said Reliance Jio has crossed the 100 million customer mark since its launch on September 5.

“Jio was launched on September 5 last year. In only 170 days we have crossed the 100 million customer mark. This achievement is of India and Indians,” Ambani told the media.

He said that on an average Jio added seven customers on its network every second.

“This is an unprecedented level of acceptance of any technology company anywhere in the world.”

Ambani said that prior to the launch of Reliance Jio, India was ranked 150th in terms of data penetration. It was now at number one.

“Last month Jio users have consumed 100 crore gigabytes of data. India is number one today in terms of mobile data usage.”

Ambani said by the end of 2017, 99 per cent of the country’s population will be covered by the network with its presence in nearly all cities, towns and villages.

“In the coming months, we will more than double our data capacity and this means even better quality for our customers. By the end of 2017, the Jio network will be present in nearly all the cities, towns and villages of India, and cover 99 per cent of our country’s population.”

He pointed out that the company has doubled its 4G stations as compared to its competitors.

Announcing free user benefits for another 12 months under a cost-effective membership plan, Jio’s latest offerings are expected to stiffen the competition further in the telecom sector.

Under the ‘Jio Prime Membership Programme’ for founder members, the existing 100 million plus Jio subscribers can avail unlimited benefits of ‘Jio Happy New Offer’ for another full year or till March 31, 2018 for a nominal, one-time enrolment fee of Rs 99 coupled with an introductory price of Rs 303 per month.

The ‘Jio Prime Membership’ is available only for existing customers and the enrolment window will remain open from March 1-31, 2017.

Apart from that, he said the company will start offering tariff plans starting April 1 for people who do not opt for the prime membership plan.

“Starting April 1, Jio will start offering its tariff plans. On all of Jio’s tariff plans, all domestic voice calls to any network will always remain free. Across India, to any network, always. And no roaming charges, no blackout days, and no hidden charges,” he added.

Ambani also vowed to match the tariff data plans of its competitors with 20 per cent more data.

“Jio is instituting a comprehensive process of monitoring all publicly announced plans from all operators across the country on a regular basis. And we will not only match the highest selling tariffs of each of the other leading Indian telecom operators but we will provide 20 per cent more data in each of these plans.” (IANS)

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Amazon offers books in eight Indian languages

Feb 20, 2017 0

Bengaluru–The world’s largest e-tailor, Amazon, on Monday hosted one-lakh titles in eight Indian languages on its online platform to celebrate “Mother tongue Day”, at attractive prices with discounts till Tuesday.

“Our online Mathrubasha Bookstore aims to promote titles in regional languages and boost budding regional authors and publishers across the country,” said the Indian arm of the e-commerce major in a statement here.

The books are in Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu.

The selection has been made to help customers find books easily by classifying them according to titles, publishing houses, genres, hard-covers, paperbacks and in board (bound).

“Regional books have retained popularity, with customers and the category growing 80 per cent and demand for them from tier-2 and tier-3 cities growing at 60 per cent annually,” Amazaon India Director Noor Patel said.

Using the website’s (amazon.in) intuitive search and browse experience, customers can find books from genres like business and economics, personal development and self-help, health and fitness, history and politics, romance, collection of poems, crime, thriller and mystery, religion and spirituality.

“Purpose of a Mother Tongue Day is to connect the people with their origin and roots. Besides propagation, the Day helps in evaluating if we are moving in the right direction,” said ‘Musafir Cafe’ author Divya Prakash Dubey.

Noting that e-commerce had a key role in propagation of vernacular literature, Dubey said the reach of regional language books in towns and cities across the country had grown manifold.

Observing that mother tongue had an impact in the formation of an individual, ‘Panchatantram’ author T.V.L. Narasimha Rao said the first language had an important role in shaping one’s thoughts and emotions.

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Paytm to invest Rs 600 cr in QR code-based payment network

Feb 20, 2017 0

New Delhi– Mobile payment and e-commerce platform Paytm on Monday announced that it will invest Rs 600 crore in its QR code-based payment solution to enable digital payments for merchants across India.

Paytm’s QR code-based solution is already powering more than five million merchants and is used by consumers to pay at kirana (grocery) stores, tolls, food courts, hospitals and retail outlets.

“Our zero per cent merchant transaction fee coupled with an aggressive merchant acquisition rate, will help us take QR code based payments to every nook and corner of country,” said Kiran Vasireddy, Senior Vice President, Paytm, in a statement.

Currently, the Paytm app is available in 10 regional languages, including Hindi, to make digital payments accessible to all.

Within a year of launch of its QR code-based offline payments, it already contributes around 65 per cent of overall transactions on its platform, the company said. (IANS)

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TCS to buy back shares worth Rs 16,000 crore

Feb 20, 2017 0

Mumbai– Global software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Monday announced that it will buy back up to 5.61 crore equity shares of Re 1 face value for Rs 16,000 crore.

The decision to buy back the blue chip shares was taken by the city-based company’s Board of Directors at a meeting here on Monday afternoon.

“The ‘Buyback Size’ being 2.85 per cent of the total paid-up equity share capital, at Rs 2,850 per equity share,” said TCS in a regulatory filing to the BSE here.

The buyback will be made from the shareholders on a proportionate basis through the tender offer route using the stock exchange mechanism in accordance with the provisions in the SEBI Regulations, 1998, the Companies Act, 2013 and rules made there under.

The pre-buyback shareholding pattern as on February 17 showed that the promoter (Tata Group) owns 73.31 per cent in the software major, followed by FII, FPI, NRIs, foreign national and OCB 16.89 per cent, Indian FIs, banks and mutual funds 5.31 per cent, resident individual and others 3.80 per cent, bodies, corporate, LLP, Trust and NBFC 0.59 per cent and clearing members 0.10 per cent.

A total of 636,975 institutional and individual investors hold the company’s 19.7-crore equity shares.

The company’s scrip price on the BSE gained 4.08 per cent or Rs 98.35 per share to Rs 2,506.50 per equity share from previous (Friday) close of Rs 2,408.15 and opening price of Rs 2.419.

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Flipkart to use Microsoft cloud to boost e-tail sales

Feb 20, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Leading e-commerce major Flipkart on Monday tied up with global software major Microsoft to use its Azure cloud platform for boosting its e-tail sales.

The strategic partnership was announced by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on his maiden visit to Bengaluru after he took over the reins of the world’s largest software product firm in February 2014.

“At Microsoft, we aim to empower every Indian and every Indian organisation with technology through strategic partnerships with innovative firms like Flipkart,” said Nadella on the occasion.

As a public cloud computing platform, Azure provides a range of services, including analytics, storage and networking on network of computers (cloud).

“By combining our public cloud platform and AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities with Flipkart’s services and data assets, we will enable the e-tailor to accelerate its digital transformation and deliver new customer experiences,” said Nadella.

The decade-old city-based Flipkart plans to leverage AI, machine learning and analytics in Azure such as Cortana Intelligence Suite and Power BI (Business Intelligence) to optimise its data for merchandising, advertising, marketing and customer service.

The Azure platform will add a layer of advanced cloud technologies and analytics to Flipkart’s data centres.

With cash on delivery, no cost EMI, product exchange, easy returns, same day delivery and instant refunds, Flipkart offers over 80 million products across 80 categories to about 100 million customers annually. (IANS)

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