Oracle partners with Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge

Aug 17, 2016 0

New Delhi–With the aim to bring computer science education to 2,000 students and 150 faculty members over the next three years, Oracle Academy on Wednesday signed an agreement with the Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge (TASK).

As part of the initiative, Oracle Academy resources, including software, academic curriculum, hosted technology, educator training, support and certification resources will be made available to students and faculty.

“Our goal is to prepare our students on emerging technologies and enhance their employability quotient and Oracle’s resources, including certification discounts will help our students equip themselves to meet the increasing demands of the IT industry,” Sujiv Naid, TASK CEO, said in a statement.

Oracle Academy will facilitate a “train-the-trainer” course to ramp up engineering college faculty members as instructors for five Oracle Academy courses including database foundations, database design and programming with SQL, among others.

After completing their training with Oracle Academy, the faculty members will leverage the Oracle Academy infrastructure and materials to train other faculty members and students.

“Today’s collaboration showcases how the technology sector can work together with state government initiatives like TASK to provide a practical solution to the skills gap challenge,” Shailender Kumar, Managing Director, Oracle India, added.

Each year, Oracle Academy reaches more than 3.1 million students in 110 countries, the company said.

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Regional officers to be given more powers: Indian Transport Minister Gadkari

Aug 16, 2016 0

New Delhi– The government on Tuesday said the regional officers of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will be entrusted with the power to approve plans for improvement of road accident black spots in the country.

Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari

Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, while emphasising on the alarmingly high number of road accidents in the country and the resultant fatalities, stated that the process of rectifying engineering defects that lead to accidents should be done at a much faster pace than it is being done at present.

The Minister was addressing a video conference of regional officers of the ministry and NHAI for monitoring and preparing a preliminary proposal for removal of black spots.

He further assured the regional officers that funds would be made available for this work, and that they should assign utmost urgency to rectification of black spots.

The Minister also reviewed the progress of land acquisition for various road projects.

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Empower state-run bank boards, cut government control: Rajan

Aug 16, 2016 0

Mumbai–Outgoing Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan on Tuesday suggested empowering of boards of state-run banks while making the case for a major reduction in government and regulatory oversight, including by the RBI itself.

“Today, a variety of authorities — parliament, the Department of Financial Services, the Bank Board Bureau, the board of the bank, the vigilance authorities, and of course various regulators and supervisors, including the RBI — monitor the performance of the public sector banks,” Rajan said in his address here at the FICCI-IBA Annual Global Banking Conference.

Raghuram Ranjan

Raghuram Ranjan

“With so many overlapping constituencies to satisfy, it is a wonder that bank management has time to devote to the management of the bank,” he said.

Proposing withdrawal of RBI nominees from the boards of public sector banks, Rajan stressed the need to reduce the overlaps between the jurisdictions of the authorities, while specifying “clear triggers or situations” where one authority’s oversight is invoked.

He said agencies like the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) should only get involved in extraordinary situations where there is evidence of malfeasance, and not when legitimate business judgment has gone wrong.

“It is important that bank boards be freed to determine their strategies. Too much coaching by central authorities will lead to a sameness in public sector banks,” the Governor said.

“Over time, RBI should also empower boards more, for instance, offering broad guidelines on compensation to boards but not requiring every top compensation package be approved,” he said.

“Though the most pressing task for public sector banks is to clean up their balance sheets, a process which is well underway, a parallel task is to improve their governance and management.”

“Over time, as the bank boards are professionalised, executive appointment decisions should devolve from the Bank Board Bureau (BBB) to the boards themselves, while the BBB, as it transforms into the Bank Investment Company (BIC), which is the custodian for the government’s stake in banks, should focus only on appointing directors to represent the government stake on the bank boards,” he added.

Rajan, whose tenure ends in early September, also voiced concern over state-run banks shunning project loans, saying they should tap their large low-cost deposits from “casa” or current account saving accounts deposits to finance infrastructure projects.

He said that since the crisis in the infrastructure space, banks are shunning project loans and are aggressively targeting retail borrowers.

“There are inputs to making profitable project loans such as the availability of casa deposits that will be accrued to the banks that build out their IT to access and serve the broader saver cheaply and effectively,” Rajan said.

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India to import chana and masoor dal

Aug 16, 2016 0

New Delhi– In view of the high prices of pulses both in the wholesale and retail markets in the country, the Centre on Tuesday decided to import about 20,000 tonnes of ‘chana dal’ and 80,000 tonnes of ‘masoor’ dal to strengthen its buffer stock.

A decision to import these dals was taken at a meeting of an inter-ministerial committee, headed by Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande here, an official source said.

“The government has decided to import further 20,000 tonnes of chana and 80,000 tonnes of masoor to strengthen buffer stock,” a Food Ministry statement said after the committee meeting.

The meeting discussed about an “alternate mechanism” for the release of pulses from the buffer stock at an appropriate time for effective market intervention if sufficient quantity is not lifted by the states, official sources said here.

Senior officials from the ministries of agriculture, food, commerce and finance, besides representatives from state-run trading firm Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India and cooperative major Nafed were also present.

The Centre has been importing pulses through the MMTC, which has so far contracted about 86,000 tonnes of pulses.

Lentils from the buffer stock are given to states for retail sale at a subsidised rate but not many states are lifting the commodities allocated to them.

Meanwhile, the state governments have been requested to expedite lifting of ‘tur’ and ‘urad’ from the buffer stock. Tur is given at a rate of Rs 67/kg and urad at 82/kg, sources said.

Pulses production is estimated to be lower at 17.06 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) as against the annual expected demand of 23.5 million tonnes.

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Reserve Bank of India penalizes four co-operative banks for norms violations

Aug 16, 2016 0

Mumbai– The Reserve Bank on India (RBI) on Tuesday said it has imposed penalties of up to Rs 5 lakh on four co-operative banks for violation of norms.

The central bank said it has imposed a monetary penalty of Rs 5 lakh on The Co-operative City Bank, Guwahati, for flouting know-your-customer (KYC) norms and non-adherence to requirements relating to identification and reporting of suspicious transactions.

A penalty of Rs 2 lakh has been imposed on Indapur Urban Co-operative Bank, in Pune dsitrict of Maharashtra for violations of norms related to KYC and anti-money laundering and credit exposure norms on loans.

RBI has also imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on Shri Dadasaheb Gajmal Co-operative Bank in Pachora of Maharashtra’s district of Jalgaon for violation of norms relating to creation of floating charge on its assets without prior permission.

In a separate statement, RBI said it has imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on the Model Co-operative Urban Bank, Hyderabad, Telangana for violation of directives and guidelines on loans and advances to directors and their relatives. (IANS)

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Space war between India, Devas Multimedia takes another turn

Aug 16, 2016 0

By Venkatachari Jagannathan and Sanu George

Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram– Five years on, a raging battle between the Government of India, the privately-owned Devas Multimedia, and former senior officials of the Department of Space (DOS), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Antrix Corp refuses to die down.

While Devas seems have won cases filed overseas against the Indian government for cancelling its transponder leasing contract, the latter is also adopting legal recourse in India against the alleged corruption in the deal.

The latest development is a chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) a few days ago, placing the loss to the exchequer on account of the deal at Rs 578 crore. Those named are former ISRO Chairman and DOS Secretary G. Madhavan Nair, then Executive Director of Antrix K.R. Sridhara Murthi, and others.

Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO, had entered into an agreement with Devas in 2005 for the long-term lease of two ISRO satellites operating in the S-band. With the leased transponders, Devas planned to offer digital multimedia services using the S-band wavelength (spectrum), reserved for strategic purpose.

The deal was cancelled in 2011 following the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) estimate of Rs 2 trillion crore loss to the government and the subsequent uproar.

The then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government invoked sovereignty for cancelling the deal and decided to use the advanced satellite for the country’s strategic use.

However the CAG’s loss estimates were contested by a two-member high powered review committee which also ruled out cheap selling of spectrum to Devas. The panel comprised former Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi and noted aerospace scientist Roddam Narasimha.

But a five-member team, chaired by former Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) Pratyush Sinha, concluded that there have been serious lapses of judgment on part of various officials, and in some cases the actions verged on the point of breach of public trust in the deal.

Reacting to the chargesheet, Nair said that there was nothing wrong in the deal. The CBI action comes after India lost an arbitration case in an international tribunal against Devas for cancelling the contract.

Last month, Devas said: “A Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal has found that the government of India’s actions in annulling a contract between Devas and Antrix Corporation Ltd. and denying Devas commercial use of S-band spectrum constituted an expropriation.”

Devas said the unanimous decision included the arbitrator appointed by India.

However, the Department of Space said that in the award — issued on “jurisdiction and merits on July 25, 2016” — the tribunal has said the Indian government’s essential security interest provisions “do apply in this case to an extent” and the “limited liability of compensation shall be limited to 40 per cent of the value of the investment”, but the precise quantum has not been determined as yet.

In an earlier decision, an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) tribunal in 2015 found unanimously that Antrix’s repudiation of the contract was unlawful, and awarded Devas damages and pre-award interest of approximately $672 million, plus post-award annual interest accruing at 18 per cent until the award is paid in full.

According to Devas, a mutually agreeable resolution of this matter is preferred and until that occurs, the company and its investors will continue to press their claims before international tribunals and in courts around the world.

In June this year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had issued a notice to Devas for alleged violation of foreign exchange laws.

According to a government statement, Devas is suspected to have received FDI of Rs 578.54 crore between May 2006 and June 2010 from various overseas investors, but the share subscription agreements it entered with them contained clauses contrary to the conditions specified in the approvals granted by Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

Devas was also charged with contravening the FDI regulations under FEMA for assuring foreign investors an annual eight per cent priority dividend in addition to other dividends on cumulative basis, and for one tranche of receipt of funds, issuing a security akin to an External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) promising higher returns than the ceiling fixed by the Reserve Bank of India.

The Antrix-Devas deal is the second major controversy in which senior ISRO officials were figuring.

The first one was popularly known as the ISRO Spy Scandal in which S. Nambi Narayanan, a senior space scientist was wrongly implicated and arrested on espionage charges along with another top official, two Maldivian women and a businessman.

In 1996, a year later after the case surfaced, things changed drastically with the CBI and the apex court clearing Narayanan and gave him a clean chit. He got back his job.

Narayanan has approached the Supreme Court seeking criminal and disciplinary action against the senior police officers for implicating him in the espionage case in which he was discharged. (IANS)

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Messenger app Hike raises $175 million

Aug 16, 2016 0

New Delhi– Instant messenger app Hike on Tuesday announced that it raised financing of over 175 million led by Chinese company Tencent Holdings and Taiwanese electronic manufacturing company Foxconn Technology Group.

This has led to the value of the company amounting to close to around 1.4 billion, with existing investors Tiger, Bharti and SoftBank also participating in this round.

“Tencent and Foxconn both have pedigrees that speak for themselves and such investment shows the strong foundation on which Hike is being built. The new fund-raise is going to allow us to push Hike to greater heights and invest in areas that will be key to our long-term vision and success,” said Hike Founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal at an event held here.

This is the fourth venture capital round and the biggest to date for Hike, taking the total investment to over more than 250 million.

The company said it will be investing the raised fund in improving the technology of the app as well as for better service.

Talking about end-to-end encryption, Mittal said they were planning to introduce it soon and were in talks with the government.

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Sachin Tendulkar’s fashion brand goes online on Myntra

Aug 16, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday launched his menswear brand True Blue on leading e-tailer Flipkart’s fashion and lifestyle products’ subsidiary Myntra. He is excited about the virtual step of the brand.

“True Blue embodies my identity and corresponds to the way I look at fashion. I believe in fashion that endows personal comfort, reflecting an individual’s style and not just a form of demonstration,” Tendulkar said in a statement.

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar

“It is exciting to note that True Blue will be available online on Myntra to the many customers across the country and continues its pursuit of emerging as an iconic brand from India,” he said.

Launched in May this year, True Blue aims to reinterpret traditional Indian motifs and apparel with a modern twist. From light summer suits to shirts, T-shirts, chinos, waistcoats and other basics, the range is minimal making it easy to wear every day.

Tendulkar launched True Blue in association with Arvind Fashion Brands. He has an equity stake in True Blue and has helped the designers at True Blue design new collections.

Myntra has now associated with Arvind Fashion Brands for the brand to be retailed online.

Puneet Jain, Chief Operating Officer of Arvind Fashion Brands, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Myntra and leverage the superior reach and access that the platform offers brands. Sachin is excited to have another opportunity to engage and interact with men across the globe by dressing them in superior fashion.”

Prasad Kompalli, Head eCommerce Platform, Myntra, shared that he is proud to partner with the “venture and help establish Sachin as a fashion icon”.


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Infosys to layoff 3,000 techies as Scottish bank cancels deal

Aug 16, 2016 0

Bengaluru–Global software major Infosys Ltd. will soon lay off about 3,000 techies since the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has cancelled the contract for setting up a new bank (Williams & Glyn).

“Subsequent to this (RBS) decision, we will carry out an orderly ramp-down of about 3,000 persons, primarily in India, over the next few months,” the city-based IT major disclosed on its website but did not share details with the media.

The Edinburgh-based RBS announced last week that it would no longer pursue its plan to separate and list a new UK (British) standalone bank (W&G) and instead pursue other options for the divestment of its business.

“We have been a W&G programme technology partner for consulting, application delivery and testing services,” the IT outsourcing company said on its website.

According to company sources here on Tuesday, RBS signed a five-year multi-million dollar contract with Infosys and the US-based software major IBM for providing IT services to its proposed W&G bank.

“As RBS has a key relationship for us, we look forward to strengthening our strategic partnership and working with it across other transformation programmes,” the company added.(IANS)

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Now, India’s wholesale inflation shoots up on steep food prices

Aug 16, 2016 0

New Delhi–India’s annual rate of inflation based on wholesale prices shot up to 3.55 per cent for July from 1.62 per cent in the previous month, due to an 11.82 per cent jump in prices of food articles, official data showed on Tuesday.

The prices of potatoes continued to pinch with an annual rise of 58.78 per cent, pulses were dearer by 35.76 per cent, while fruit were 17.30 per cent costlier over the same month of the previous year, as per the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) data of the Commerce Ministry.

Data released last week showed that the country’s annual retail inflation shot up to a 23-month high of 6.07 per cent for July and beyond the official tolerance level of 6 per cent, again due to higher prices for food articles.

The July WPI index at 3.55 per cent marks a two-year high. After rising for the first time in April following 17 straight months of contraction, the WPI has cumulatively risen by 4.91 per cent in the current fiscal up to July. The rise was 0.85 per cent for the corresponding period last year.

Inflation in vegetables prices during July rose to 28.05 per cent, up from 16.91 per cent in June.

Prices of manufactured products, which comprise nearly 65 per cent of the index, continued to rise for the fifth straight month, rising by 1.82 per cent in July. The prices had risen by 1.17 per cent in June.

The sub-category of manufactured food products, which includes sugar and edible oils, registered a significant rise of 10.19 per cent, up from 8.35 per cent in the previous month.

This was mainly caused by a spurt in sugar prices, which rose by 32.33 per cent, as against 26.09 per cent in the previous month, as a result of production shortages.

Fuel inflation remained negative in July, going down by one per cent as compared to a 3.62 per cent fall in June and 6.14 per cent in May due to fall in crude oil prices.

However, diesel prices continued to rise after seeing an uptrend in June after many months of consecutive fall. Prices of high-speed diesel rose by 6.57 per cent in July, from a 1.13 per cent rise in June.

In this connection, industry chamber Assocham said on Sunday on the basis of its study that prices of vegetables in India’s retail markets are likely to go up further in the coming months with the peak production season coming to an end.

The report said there would be “more pressure on the market arrivals of vegetables as production season eases”, on the basis of a “most worrying” trend that saw vegetable prices rising up to 100 per cent in the April-July period due to low arrivals of the harvest in the markets.

“There is a huge gap between retail and wholesale prices of vegetables. On an all-India average basis, retailers are selling at more than 52.7 per cent of wholesale prices,” Assocham Secretary General D.S. Rawat said in a statement here.

At the retail level, potato prices increased by about 100 per cent during the April-July period, over the corresponding period of 2015, followed by cabbage (49.3 per cent), chillies (47.8 per cent), garlic (37 per cent), cauliflower (33.9 per cent), tomato local (26 per cent), tomato hybrid (25.6 per cent), potato fresh (25 per cent), okra (22.3 per cent) and brinjal (20.8 per cent).

“It indicates a worrying situation where market arrivals of vegetables have recorded contraction despite being a peak season for production,” the report said.

The gap between wholesale and retail prices is as much as over 75 per cent in some cases like brinjal and over 62 per cent for tomatoes, it added. (IANS)

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