India’s foreign debt rises 2.2 percent to $485.6 billion

Sep 19, 2016 0

New Delhi–With a rise in long term debt particularly NRI deposits, India’s external debt stock rose by 2.2 percent to $485.6 billion by end of last fiscal, an official report said on Monday.

According to “India’s External Debt: A Status Report 2015-16” prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs of Union Ministry of Finance, the external debt, in absolute term, rose by $10.6 billion by end of March 2016 over the same level previous year.

“At end-March 2016, long-term external debt was $402.2 billion, showing an increase of 3.3 per cent over the level of 2015 (end-March). Long-term external debt accounted for 82.8 per cent of total external debt at end-March 2016 as compared to 82 per cent at end-March 2015,” a statement said.

The report said the short-term external debt declined by 2.5 per cent from $84.7 billion at end-March 2015 to $83.4 billion at end-March 2016.

“This was mainly due to the decline in trade related credits. The share of short-term external debt in total external debt declined from 18 per cent at end-March 2015 to 17.2 per cent at end-March 2016,” it said.

Government (sovereign) external debt stood at $93.4 billion at end-March 2016 vis-a-vis $89.7 billion at end-March 2015.

The share of Government external debt in total external debt was 18.9 per cent at end-March 2016 vis-a-vis 18.8 per cent at end-March 2015.

According to a government note, India’s external debt has remained within manageable limits in 2015-16 as indicated by the increase in foreign exchange reserves to debt ratio to 74.2 per cent, the external debt-GDP ratio of 23.7 per cent, and fall in short term debt to 17.2 per cent.

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ICICI Prudential Life Insurance IPO subscribed 16% in opening day

Sep 19, 2016 0

Mumbai– The initial public offering (IPO) of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance on Monday was subscribed nearly 16 percent, according to data from stock exchanges.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, the data showed that the IPO issue received applications for 2,08, 93,356 shares as against an offer of 13,23,78,973 on the opening day of the offerings.

The three-day share sale, which opened on Monday, will close on September 21 and the price brand for the issue is set at Rs 300-334 apiece.

The qualified institutional buyers category which includes foreign institutional investors,and domestic financial institutions was subscribed 5.8 percent, while the non-institutional category comprising corporate and high-net-worth individuals was subscribed 4.4 percent.

Retail investors, whose investments cannot surpass Rs.2 lakh per individual, subscribed nearly 25 percent of the 5,71,22,434 shares offered to them.

Presently, ICICI Bank holds 67.52 percent stake while Prudential Corp. Holdings Ltd has 25.83 percent in the India’s largest private sector life insurer.

The ICICI Bank is targeting to divest a 12.63 percent stake in the life insurance firm through the offer-for-sale (OFS) route. Prudential is also expected to reduce its stake in insurance company by up to 5.83 percent after its listing as part of the revised terms of the joint venture (JV) agreement.

As part of the Rs 6,056 crore public issue, the ICICI Bank Ltd on Friday had raised Rs 1,635.33 crore by selling 48.96 million shares of the insurance firm to institutional investors via an anchor allotment at Rs 334 apiece, the upper end price band for the IPO.

The anchor book is the part of an IPO issue that bankers allocate to institutional investors on a discretionary basis. This subscription opens before the IPO kicks off.

Investment banks hired to manage the share sale are ICICI Securities Ltd and DSP Merrill Lynch, CLSA India Pvt. Ltd, Deutsche Equities India Pvt. Ltd, JM Financial Institutional Securities Ltd, SBI Capital Markets Ltd, Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd, HSBC Securities and Capital Markets (India) Pvt. Ltd, IIFL Holdings Ltd and UBS Securities India Pvt. Ltd.

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Indian electronics products industry to touch $75 billion by 2017: Study

Sep 19, 2016 0

New Delhi–With increasing penetration across consumer products, especially in semi-urban and rural markets, the Indian electronic products industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1 per cent to reach $75 billion by 2017 from $61.8 billion in 2015, a joint study said here on Monday.

“Rising manufacturing costs in China and Taiwan are compelling manufacturers to shift their manufacturing base to alternate markets. In 2014, the average manufacturing labour cost per hour in India was $0.92 as compared to $3.52 of China,” the study stated.

The market is dominated by electromechanical components — which form 30 per cent of the total demand — followed by passive components (such as resistors and capacitors) at 27 per cent, according to an Assocham-EY study titled ‘Turning the Make in India dream into a reality for electronics and hardware industry’.

The electronic components industry in India was valued at $13.5 billion in 2015 — growing from $10.8 billion in 2013 at a CAGR of 11 per cent.

India’s attractiveness for manufacturers is growing due to availability of low-cost labour.

The Indian manufacturing ecosystem for electronics and hardware industry is still at a nascent stage and faces various demand side as well as supply side challenges, it said.

Component demand in India is muted due to very limited value addition as primarily last-mile assembly takes place here.

However, manufacturers in India do not add high electronic content in the products due to limited industry-specific standards. The current market is dominated by secondary sales and primary sales are limited due to reduced disposable income in semi-urban and rural markets.

Due to nascent stage of electronics manufacturing in India, scale of operations is low, resulting in reduced cost competitiveness.

“India’s taxation system is complex, especially where indirect taxes are concerned. Currently, the base direct tax incidence in India stands at around 30 per cent, whereas the corresponding tariff in other Asian countries is between 16 per cent and 25 per cent,” the study said.

“Although, the government has proposed the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) for a state-of the-art indirect tax system, there are concerns that the industry faces in terms of the clarity on the revenue-neutral rate, non-creditable tax on inter-state movement of goods, status of existing state incentives granted and transition from existing taxation system to GST regime,” it added. (IANS)

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Alibaba to assist Indian enterprises in global trading

Sep 19, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Global e-trader Alibababa.com on Monday announced offering Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) a common platform for their global trading needs.

“We have tied up with five partners to set up a Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) programme for providing Indian SMEs customised services in global trading,” the Chinese e-commerce major said in a statement here.

The five partners are Kotak Mahindra Bank, IDFC Bank, Delhivery, DHL and Aditya Birla Finance Ltd.

“Our programme will allow Indian SMEs to avail special benefits, value-added services and dedicated facilities,” the statement said.

Kotak and IDFC will provide banking, transactional and lending solutions, Aditya Birla will improve SMEs exports process with collateral-free loans and financing options, DHL will present Alibaba’s members a programme (Concept 1) for export and import of samples and Delhivery courier and logistics services with free shipments.

“Services, including customs clearance, shipping, logistics, banking and finance as essential facilities for businesses are expected to grow and scale in the global trading scene, the statement pointed out.

The TFC will aim to drive greater participation of Indian SMEs in the international trade and business market.

“The TFC programme is our commitment to support inclusive global trade for SMEs, which is the mission of the eWTP (electronic World Trade Platform) proposal initiated by our group’s Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma,” said Alibaba Global Managing Director and India Head K. Guru Gowrappan in the statement.

According to Alibaba Vice-President for strategic partnerships Vinay Bhartia, Indian SMEs face multiple challenges even after receiving export orders like logistics, funding, banking services, inspection and shipment.

“While we help SMEs or exporters find overseas buyers, value-added services to be provided by our TFC partners will help our members overcome these challenges,” added Bhartia.

Alibaba.com has been operating in India since 2007. The marketplace had six million registered Indian buyers and sellers as of early 2016. (IANS)

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Swamy: Would have been a better Finance Minister than Jaitley

Sep 18, 2016 0

New Delhi– BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Saturday that he would have been a better Finance Minister than Arun Jaitley.

“Jaitley is only a lawyer while I am an economist. It is self-evident who would make a better Finance Minister,” Swamy said here at India Today’s Mind Rocks summit.

Swamy’s remarks came after AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi asked him to comment on how he would not have let the inflation rate be as high as it is today.

Swamy has been critical of Jaitley and has been attacking him indirectly in the recent past.

Asked by the moderator why there is an “India-Pakistan like tension” between him and Jaitley, Swamy said there has always been a tussle between “south and north Indian Brahmins”.

While Swamy is from Tamil Nadu, Jaitley is from Delhi with roots in Punjab.

In an implicit attack on Jaitley, Swamy had tweeted in June: “People giving me unasked for advice of discipline and restraint don’t realise that if I disregard discipline, there would be a bloodbath.”

Though the Rajya Sabha MP did not name Jaitley, his tweet followed Jaitley’s public admonition of Swamy after the latter called for the sacking of Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian.

Jaitley had said: “The party has said it doesn’t share Swamy’s view. I will also add one more fact from the point of view of discipline of Indian politicians…to what extent should we attack those, the discipline and constraint of whose offices prevent them from responding and this has happened more than once.”

A few days later Swamy urged the BJP leadership to ask ministers to wear traditional Indian clothes when they go abroad.

“BJP should direct our ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian clothes while abroad. In coat and tie they look like waiters,” he wrote.

Jaitley’s photographs of meeting with the Bank of China Chairman in Beijing in a lounge suit appeared in several newspapers on Friday morning.

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India’s new import policy for marble, granite to remove curbs

Sep 18, 2016 0

New Delhi–The government on Sunday announced the new import policy for marble, travertine blocks and granite slabs which removes various restrictions and comes into effect from October 1, 2016.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the quantitative restriction on the import of marble and travertine blocks, and the associated administratively cumbersome and restrictive import licensing system has been brought to an end under the new policy.

“The minimum import price (MIP) for import of marble blocks has been reduced to US Dollars 200 per metric ton to address the distortions associated with an MIP,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a statement.

“To address the interest of domestic producers, the basic customs duty on import of marble & travertine blocks will go up four times from the present 10 per cent to 40 per cent w.e.f. 1st October 2016.”

As per the ministry, with effect from October 1, 2016, the MIP on the import of marble slabs will be reduced to $40 per square metre.

“In order to address the interest of domestic producers the basic customs duty on import of marble slabs is being doubled from 10 per cent to 20 per cent w.e.f. 1st October 2016,” the statement said.

The ministry pointed out that the MIP on the import of granite slabs will come down to $50 per square metre.

“In order to address the interest of domestic producers the basic customs duty on import of granite slabs is being doubled from 10 per cent to 20 per cent w.e.f. 1st October 2016,” the statement said.

“The new policy balances the interests of domestic consumers, producers and processors, and ends the cumbersome licensing system for import of marble and travertine blocks.”

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India approves $1 billion highway connectivity project

Sep 18, 2016 0

New Delhi– India has approved an ambitious $1.04-billion project for constructing and upgrading 558 km of roads to link it with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal and ease the movement of passengers and cargo, as part of the larger effort to increase intra-regional trade by 60 per cent.

The new project has been given an official nod by India’s Department of Economic Affairs with 50 per cent funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), officials told IANS, adding that the road project will cover West Bengal and Manipur on the Indian side, as of now.

“The mandate is for completing the project within the next two years,” a senior official said.

“The primary idea behind the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) road initiative is to improve ground connectivity in the region,” said Leena Nandan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

“We have taken up five highway stretches in the country, which are very important for such a connectivity to succeed. This project is entirely different and new — and about to be rolled out,” Nandan told IANS.

The project — as per a list accessed by IANS — includes, among others, an upgrade of the 122-km Siliguri-Mirik-Darjeeling ($15 million) and the widening of the 60-km National Highway-35 (Kolkata-Bangaon) on the border with Bangladesh ($130 million).

It also includes a new 123-km road to connect with Diamond harbour, on the outskirts of Kolkata, at a cost of $250 million. All these are in West Bengal and will be entrusted to the state’s Public Works Department for execution, officials said.

“This apart, two highways are going to come up in Manipur — 115-km Ukhrul-Tolloi-Tadubi ($230 million) and a 138-km split, four-lane road between the Kohima-Kedima Kring-Imphal section of National Highway-39 ($280 million),” said A.D. James, Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

“These two roads are to be executed by the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corp. They are currently in the DPR (detailed project report) stage,” James told IANS. Officials are also looking at the possibility of shorter routes.

Apart from the works under the $1 billion project, a 600 metre bridge and a 110 km-road in the Impal-Moreh stretch of Manipur are also being planned under the broader BBIN road initiative. The Manila-based bank has agreed to fund up to 50 per cent of this project as well, officials said. The DPR for this is ready. Clearances are awaited from Nepal.

“This bridge will connect Kakarbhitta in Nepal with Panitanki in West Bengal. Once we receive the necessary approvals, we would like to bid for the projects as early as possible, say by November-end,” said Anand Kumar, Managing Director, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corp.

The four South Asian nations, led by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari from the Indian side, had signed a landmark Motor Vehicles Agreement in June last year in the Bhutan capital Thimpu to regulate passenger, personnel and cargo vehicular traffic among the South Asian neighbours.

“This agreement between sub-grouping of four South Asian nations — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal — will pave the way for seamless movement of people and goods across their borders for the benefit and integration of the region and its economic development,” Gadkari had said.

A joint statement later said: “Taking note of the finding that transforming transport corridors into economic corridors could potentially increase intra-regional trade within South Asia by almost 60 per cent, and with the rest of the world by over 30 per cent.”

As regards the funding, James said talks were simultaneously on with ADB to look beyond the committed 50 per cent. “There are chances that the bank may even fund up to 72 per cent of the total cost for the project. Then we will get around $700 million.”

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India Inc must be receptive to ideas – big or small

Sep 17, 2016 0

Panaji– Ideas, however small, must get an interested audience, and Indian corporates should broaden their horizon and back game-changing ideas, says Lakshmi Pratury, host and curator of the INK Talks.

INK Talks, which got underway in Goa on Friday, is an inspired Indian version of globally popular TED Talks — a platform that spreads ideas usually through short, powerful talks.

“For us, every idea is interesting, however small or big it may be. It could be someone making pots and pans and refrigerators of mud, or it could be someone improving the efficiency of somebody, who is weaving a Sari. First of all, we need to be open to ideas, however small they are,” Pratury told IANS.

Over 75 speakers — CEOs, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists and scientists, amongst others — are scheduled to speak at the INK Talk event during the ongoing ‘INK Live 2016’.

INK Live 2016 is being held at the Goa Institute of Management (GIM), the state’s top B-school, where over 300 young people are scheduled to participate in a variety of workshops and interactive experiences, Pratury said.

The contribution of such ideas, she feels, is that they “open up the imagination of the people to an innovative world” and facilitate sharing of game-changing ideas as well as accelerate them.

Pratury was the co-host of the first TED India talks and the concept inspired her to set up INK Talks, to serve as a platform for sharing ideas from India and Asia.

“We are talking a lot to the younger market. We have partnered with Manipal University where we do something known as ‘Teenovators’, where we find teenage innovators in schools and give them a platform to pursue their dreams. There is a need for a lot of activities that allow us to tell our stories,” she said.

The theme for this year’s seventh edition of INK Talks is ‘Kaleidoscope’, which she says helps weave together patterns, however disparate.

“Very often, different pieces, which don’t make sense, may seem broken…they may seem out of tune. But, they all have to come together to make a great pattern, and that’s why we chose the theme of Kaleidoscope,” she said.

Some of the speakers at the event are Sarvesh Shahi, a 24-year-old CEO of Zorba Renaissance Studios and co-founder of a marketing communications company ‘Take Off’; restaurateur Sameer Seth; Kalyani Khona, founder of Inclov, a matchmaking app for people with disabilities; Meenakshi Raghavan, a 75-year-old Kalaripayattu professional; Aditi Gupta, founder of Menstrupedia; and Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Ayog, among lot many others.

But while ideas are important, she observed, most of the Indian corporates are still finding it difficult to come to terms with the significance of idea propagation concepts, without looking for obvious commercial linkages.

“In India, the corporates are still at a formative stage. A lot of corporates look at if they can get some connection here that can help them sell their products or if they can talk about their product. What we say, in return, is that we are moving into a new era where our next generation is not interested in product features, but in what do you stand for, whether you are polluting the world, etc.,” she says, adding such events are also about changing the way the corporate world communicates.

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Indian company joins hands with Mass General Hospital for 3D post-processing services

Sep 17, 2016 0

Bengaluru–City-based tele-diagnostic delivery company Teleradiology Solutions (TRS) on Saturday announced a collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston – one of the top-ranked hospitals in the US — to offer 3D image post-processing services.

Three dimensional images are fast and easy to read and help physicians diagnose and treat a wide range of patients with confidence and clarity.

Arjun Kalyanpur

Arjun Kalyanpur

“There has been increasing deployment and utilisation of high-end CT and MRI scan equipment globally as well as in India, and such high resolution imaging requires effective 3D post-processing for its benefits to be most optimally realised,” Arjun Kalyanpur, Founder and CEO of Teleradiology Solutions, said in a statement.

“As an example, 3D image post-processing of aneurysms and vessel blockages that may potentially result in life threatening complications can greatly facilitate their diagnosis, treatment and subsequent follow-up of such conditions, thereby benefiting treating physicians and impacting patients,” Kalyanpur explained.

TRS has invested $300,000 in a 3D Imaging Lab facility in Bengaluru, which will be manned by a specialised team of 3D-trained radiologists.

As a result of the new collaboration, Massachusetts General Hospital will make available its proprietary 3D protocols to TRS, the statement said.

This collaboration is likely to open up new patient care opportunities in India as well as across Asia, Africa and other parts of the world as the technology and 3D post-processing services can be offered to other hospitals as well.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with TRS to enhance the diagnostic capabilities and timeliness of information that can help improve lives for patients,” Gordon J Harris, Director, 3D Imaging Service, Massachusetts General Hospital said.

“We hope that access to this technology can expand to providers in South Asia, as high-quality post-processing 3D imaging could have a significant impact on care – particularly emergency and trauma care – across the region,” Harris noted. (IANS)

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Delhi High Court dismisses international publishers’ plea against DU’s photocopy shop

Sep 17, 2016 0

New Delhi– The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a plea by three international publishers against the sale of photocopied pages of their books by a shop called Rameshwari Photocopy Service in Delhi University’s North Campus. The publishers expressed unhappiness over the decision and hinted at exploring further legal options.

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, holding that selling of photocopies of portions of books does not amount to infringement of copyright of the publishers, also lifted a ban on the photocopy kiosk from issuing copies of chapters from textbooks of the three international publishers to students.

The court said that photocopying of the relevant pages of the books have only relieved the students from spending days in the library noting down pages after pages of the relevant chapters.

It said: “When modern technology is available for comfort, it would be unfair to say that the students should not avail thereof and continue to study as in ancient era.”

The court added that even clicking photos of the pages of the books by students for use later would also “qualify as fair use”.

“The students can never be expected to buy all the books, different portions whereof are prescribed as suggested reading and can never be said to be the potential customers of the plaintiffs,” said the court.

The court in November 2012 had restrained the shop, located near the Delhi School for Economics, from selling photocopies of text books and related course packs, on a petition moved by publishers including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis.

After the ban, a group of DU students’ approached the court seeking to vacate the stay order saying most of the books were too expensive.

The international publishing giants had alleged that the kiosk was violating their copyright and at the instance of Delhi University, was causing huge financial losses as students stopped buying their text books.

DU had however supported the photocopiers, saying the use of reproduced copyrighted books by student was a reasonable educational needs and should not be treated as infringement.

The university argued that calling reproduction of copyrighted books for educational purpose as infringement was wrong. Photocopy of copyrighted books at the university’s campus were done by students for preparation of their course and was not meant for commercial exploitation, DU contended.

In the judgment, the publishing houses issued a joint statement saying that “while the verdict is not what we had hoped for, we note the court’s decision on the matter”.

“We brought this case to protect authors, publishers and students from the potential effects on the Indian academic and educational book market caused by the widespread creation and distribution of unlicensed course packs by a copy shop operating from within the premises of the University, where a legitimate and affordable licensing scheme is already in place,” the statement said.

“It is unfortunate that the court’s decision today could undermine the availability of original content for the benefit of students and teachers,” it added.

Their suit had then resulted in an interim ban on the shop “making or selling course packs and also reproducing the plaintiff’s publication or substantial portion by compiling the same either in a book form or in the form of a course pack, till the final disposal of the said application”.

The three publishing houses also said that they may pursue further legal action once the full verdict is available to them.(IANS)

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