India’s digital payments infra to grow three-fold in 2017

Apr 19, 2017 0

New Delhi–The infrastructure of digital payments in India is expected to increase three-fold by the end of 2017 with almost five million electronic point of sale (PoS) machines, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) said on Wednesday.

“We expect that by December, the number will actually go up to five million PoS, which means that the infrastructure for digital payments is going to grow three times in the short span of one year,” MeitY Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said here.

Sundararajan said the use of PoS machines in the country has already doubled since the government’s demonetisation move.

“We know that in the last 30 years… or even a little longer… since the digital payments have been around, we had about 1.5 million electronic PoS (machines). In the last four months since demonetisation, this number has doubled and today we are at three million PoS,” she said.

Sundararajan spoke at the launch of a joint report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Nielsen titled ‘Index of Internet Readiness of Indian States’. (IANS)

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VMware expands reach for emerging businesses in India

Apr 18, 2017 0

New Delhi– Global cloud services provider VMware on Tuesday announced its India expansion plans to help emerging businesses overcome IT challenges.

After marking a strong presence in metros, the company will now focus on Jaipur, Vizag, Nagpur, Goa, Bhubaneshwar, Guwahati, Cochin, Coimbatore, Ludhiana and Chandigarh to enable emerging businesses overcome IT challenges.

“We look forward to supporting businesses as their growth is all about working more efficiently, cost effectively and reliably. It is part of our endeavour to help them get the right technology to reach more customers and expand to newer markets faster,” said Sundar Balasubramanian, Senior Director, General Business, Commercial Sales & Partners, VMware.

VMware “vSphere Essentials Plus” and “VMware vSphere with Operations Management” solutions enable companies with small IT environments to get started on virtualisation and implement the benefits of server consolidation and business continuity with ease.

VMware solutions around server, storage and network virtualisation offer midsize companies a range of capabilities and tools for maximising the benefits of their virtualisation platform, from infrastructure consolidation and high availability to policy-based data centre automation.

VMware “Horizon” enables IT to transform physical and virtual desktops and applications into centralised IT services that can be securely delivered to end-users on any device-in the office, at home or on the go.

“With businesses facing major challenges of accessing IT resources and applications while managing complex work environments, VMware’s tailor-made solutions will empower them to protect their IT infrastructure as they evolve to support their business initiatives,” the company said. (IANS)

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Law on generic medicine a boon for public in India, but ensure quality first

Apr 18, 2017 0

New Delhi–With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of a law to ensure that doctors prescribe generic medicines, health experts have said that the new rule will be a boon for patients only if the generic medicines are of “good quality”.

Pointing out that a lot depends on the composition of the generic medicine, they stressed the need for a regulatory body to check the quality of generic medicines so that quality is not compromised even if the drug is priced at a much lower rate than equivalent branded medicines.

“Undoubtedly, this law will be a boon for poor patients in terms of medicines. Prescribing generic medicine is indeed very necessary. However, it is to be ensured that the salt in the generic medicine is similar to what a equivalent branded medicine has or else the purpose won’t get served,” A.K. Rai, Medical Superintendent and an ENT surgeon, told IANS.

Rai said a large chunk of patients deliberately opt for branded medicines, despite having its cheaper version available, considering it of poor efficacy.

A generic drug is identical — or bio-equivalent — to a brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically identical to their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price.

Modi on Monday, while inaugurating a multi-specialty hospital in Gujarat, said the government will make legal arrangements to ensure that doctors prescribe generic medicines.

According to Rai, making all doctors prescribe generic medicines will also require a huge effort by the government as they will have to ensure that there is no compromise with the standards of generic medicines.

“The government needs to ensure that for generic medicines there is a proper regulatory body to check the quality. The salt and other composition in the medicines should not get compromised,” said Rai.

Rai said that making it a rule to prescribe generic medicine will benefit mostly the patients visiting the government hospitals.

Asked if private hospitals had any role in endorsing branded medicines among their patients, Rai said many of the private hospitals usually have both types of medicines in their pharmacies. However, it depends on the patients which one do they need.

Though there is no official data available in India, in the US, generic drugs save consumers an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion a year at retail pharmacies.

Renowned Oncologist and former Dean at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) P.K. Julka said patients in small towns and cities will benefit the most from the new law.

“Certainly, a very good step and will bring down the expenses of patients on medicines. People in small towns and cities will benefit the most,” Julka told IANS.

However, Julka — currently with Max Super Specialty Hospital — said that despite the announcement not every patient will look for generic medicine at pharmacies.

“At least 20-25 per cent of the patient deliberately look for branded medicines. So they certainly will opt for the branded ones but for the remaining 75-80 per cent prescribing generic medicine will be a boon,” said Julka.

Making medicines cheaper is a politically sensitive issue in India where many patented drugs are too costly for most people, and where patented drugs account for under 10 per cent of total drug sales.

India earlier also had schemes to provide generic drugs free of cost to economically weaker citizens from government hospitals.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) has already recommended that doctors prescribe generic drugs. (IANS)

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Market Outlook: Quarterly results, geo-political tensions to guide equity markets

Apr 16, 2017 0

By Rohit Vaid

Mumbai– The ongoing fourth quarter results’ season, along with global geo-political tensions are expected to guide the movement of the Indian equities markets during the upcoming trade week.

“Upcoming fourth quarter earnings results and development in global geo-political tensions are expected to determine the trend of the market,” D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director, SMC Investments and Advisors, told IANS.

Companies like the IndusInd Bank, Yes Bank, Hindustan Zinc, MindTree, ACC and HDFC Bank are expected to announce their quarterly results in the coming trade week.

However, investors are expected to be cautious as lower revenue guidance from IT major Infosys on April 13 had stoked concerns over the rest of Q4 (fourth quarter) results’ expectations.

“Poor earnings vis-a-vis expectations will put a question mark on whether the current valuations were based on fundamentals or liquidity,” Devendra Nevgi, Chief Executive of Zyfin Advisors, told IANS.

Apart from the Q4 results, investors will also be looking forward to the upcoming macro-economic data point of Wholesale Price Index (WPI).

The data assumes significance as it follows macro-economic data points — Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) — which showed that industrial production contracted in February and consumer price inflation edged up in March.

Besides, the price movement of Indian rupee against the US dollar and crude oil prices will be the crucial factors for market sentiments next week, Aggarwal pointed out.

The rupee’s price movement will be in focus as US President Donald Trump has called for weakening the dollar.

Last week, the rupee weakened by 12 paise for the week ended April 13, 2017 to 64.41-42 against a US dollar from last week’s close of 64.29.

On technical levels, Deepak Jasani, Head — Retail Research, HDFC Securities, explained: “With the Nifty breaking the recent lows of 9,162 points, the bears seem to have an upper hand.”

“Further downsides are likely once the next support of 9,145 points are broken. Our downside targets in this scenario are at 9,095-9,024 points.”

According to Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, investors will closely watch the movement of FII (foreign institutional investor) flows.

The provisional figures from stock exchanges for last week showed an outflow of foreign funds worth Rs 2,967.75 crore, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought scrips worth Rs 1,794.9 crore.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) disclosed that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) off-loaded equities worth Rs 2,178.58 crore, or $338.09 million, between April 10 and 13.

Last week, the Indian equities markets were dragged lower by rising geo-political tensions, along with disappointing macro-economic data points.

However, short-covering at lower levels restricted the downside.

Consequently, the trade week that ended on April 13, 2017 saw the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, recede by 245.16 points or 0.82 per cent to 29,461.45 points, while the wider 51-scrip NSE Nifty closed at 9,150.80 points — down 47.50 points or 0.51 per cent. (IANS)

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India’s Forex reserves deplete by nearly $1 billion

Apr 15, 2017 0

Mumbai– India’s foreign exchange (Forex) reserves depleted by $956.4 million as on April 7, 2017, official data showed on Friday.

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s weekly statistical supplement, the overall Forex reserves decreased to $368.99 billion from $369.95 billion reported for the week ended March 31.

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

Segment-wise, FCAs — the largest component of the Forex reserves — receded by $951 million to $345.36 billion during the week under review.

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

The country’s gold reserves were stagnant at $19.86 billion.

However, SDRs’ value fell by $3.1 million to $1.44 billion. The country’s reserve position with the IMF inched lower by $2.3 million to $2.31 billion.

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Odisha set to revive 10 port projects

Apr 15, 2017 0

By Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar–After a prolonged legal battle and a court verdict in its favour, the Odisha government is set to renew the concession agreements (CAs) as well as expedite the land acquisition process for 10 minor ports along its coast.

“As the Orissa High Court has disposed of the case pertaining to the non-major port projects, we have initiated the process of renewal of the concession agreements,” Commerce Minister Ramesh Majhi told IANS.

He also said the land acquisition process is in full swing for several port projects.

The Odisha government had proposed to set up 13 minor ports along its 480-km-long coastline. Of these, only two — Dhamra and Gopalpur — are functional, one has been abandoned due to environmental concerns and no substantial development has taken place at 10 other locations due to several legal and other hurdles.

A public suit was filed in the court in 2011 challenging the state government’s port policy. It termed signing of MoUs with private industrial houses without going for the transparency method of international bidding was illegal.

Environment activist Biswajit Mohanty, who had filed the suit, said the route adopted would deprive the government of huge revenue. However, the case was disposed of as the petitioner did not turn up for the hearing, an official said.

“We are in the process of renewing the agreements for the Subarnarekha and Astarang port projects. We will sign an agreement with Aditya Birla Group, which has proposed to set up a port at Chudamani,” the minister added.

He said a discussion at the official level with the proponents of these projects has already been held.

The state government proposed five ports in Balasore’s Bichitrapur, the Subarnarekha’s confluence, Bahabalpur and Inchudi.

This apart, there were proposals for constructing ports at Chudamani and Dhamra in Bhadrak district and at Palur, Gopalpur and the Bahuda’s confluence in Ganjam district, at Astarang and Baliharchandi in Puri district and at Jatadhar in Jagatsinghpur district.

Some of the chosen sites fell through as the proponents, including Posco India, walked out while the one at Barunei Muhan was shelved because of its potentially damaging ecological impact.

Meanwhile, the decision of the state government to expedite land acquisition has benefited Tata Steel, which has executed a definitive agreement with Chennai-based Creative Port Development (CPDPL) and their promoters for the proposed development of Subarnarekha Port.

It will acquire majority equity stake in CPDPL, and the port development is envisaged through a wholly-owned subsidiary, Subarnarekha Port (SPPL). (IANS)

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Digital payments up nearly 23 times since demonetisation: Government

Apr 13, 2017 0

New Delhi– There has been nearly 23-fold increase in the number of digital payments since the November 8 demonetisation, the government said on Thursday.

The transactions using various digital payment modes went up to 63.80 lakh with a total transaction value of Rs 2,425 crore till March this year, as against 2,80,000 transactions and Rs 101 crore till November 2016, a NITI Aayog statement said.

The number of Aadhaar-enabled payments also increased from 2.5 crore in November 2016 to over five crore in March 2017.

“BHIM App has already created a new world record by registering 1.9 crore downloads in just four months since its launch in December,” it said.

Following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8, 2016, the government had launched DigiDhan Melas led by the National Institution for Transforming India Aayog in 100 cities to promote digital payments.

“At least 15,000 institutions have gone cashless across these 100 cities in 27 states and seven Union Territories.

“With a turnout of over 15 lakh from cities, small towns and villages, the melas have enabled lakhs to open new bank accounts as well as create new Aadhaar cards,” the statement said.

Modi had in December 2016 launched BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) app, an Aadhaar-based mobile payment application to promote and make digital transactions easier. (IANS)

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Advertising industry releases guidelines for celebrities

Apr 13, 2017 0

Mumbai–Advertising industry’s self-regulatory organisation on Thursday released a set of guidelines to protect consumers’ interest, while encouraging celebrities and advertisers to refrain from endorsing misleading advertisements.

According to Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the guidelines will help in ensuring that claims made in advertising are not misleading, false or go unsubstantiated.

“Celebrities have a strong influence on consumers and are guided by the choices they make or endorse. It’s important that both celebrities and advertisers are cognizant of the impact and power of advertising and therefore make responsible claims to promote products or services,” said Srinivasan K. Swamy, Chairman, ASCI.

“It is in the interest of advertisers, ad agencies as well as celebrities to be aware of these guidelines and be sensitized to this issue to avoid violations.” (IANS)

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India extends sugar import deadline to June 30

Apr 13, 2017 0

New Delhi– The central government on Thursday extended the deadline for import of five lakh tonnes of raw sugar from June 12 to June 30 following representations from sugar mills and trade associations.

As per a release, the extension of date means mills and refiners can complete the import of raw sugar until June 30.

Last week, the government had allowed raw sugar imports till June 12 to ensure timely availability of sugar in the country and to maintain domestic price at reasonable levels.

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India-UK to expand defense ties

Apr 13, 2017 0

New Delhi– India and the United Kingdom on Thursday agreed to expand thier defence ties with focus on defence industry, counter terrorism, training and maritime security.

“The renewed engagement will place capability and technology development at its core and seek to harness the complementary strengths of both nations in defence manufacturing and use the combined strengths of their respective private and public sectors to develop defence solutions for use in both home and shared export markets,” said a joint statement after the India-UK delegation-level talks on Thursday.

The Indian delegation was headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and the UK side was led by Michael Fallon, UK Secretary of State for Defence, who is on a four-day visit to India during April 11-14.

According to the statement, India and the UK will continue to engage each other over global security, especially on international terrorism with the intent of making a more secure world.

On the maritime security, Jaitley and Fallon agreed to strengthen their interaction and improve exchange of information in the maritime domain to track terrorist and pirate vessels.

“The two sides will also develop cooperation in the field of Hydrography,” the statement said.

“Both sides will develop capability partnerships, sharing best practices in the areas of counter terrorism (CT), Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (CIED), air force training, air total safety, aircraft carriers, maritime safety, shipbuilding and UN peacekeeping.

“The Ministers tasked the relevant Executive Steering Groups (ESGs) to finalise proposals for consideration at the next DCG (Defence Consultative Group) meeting scheduled later this year,” it said.

Acknowledging the British interest in manufacturing in India, Jaitley welcomed the recent announcements including the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Bharat Dynamics Ltd and Thales UK on technology transfer opportunities for missile systems and efforts to develop an Advanced Hawk jet trainer jointly by the BAE Systems and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

During the talks, the two ministers agreed to expand the MoU on Defence Equipment Cooperation that will allow the British and Indian industries to transfer technology in the areas of mutual interest.

“The two Ministers recognised the potential for further cooperation in defence manufacturing between the UK and Indian companies under the ‘Make in India’ framework,” the statement said.

India-UK would explore establishing a secure communications method in order to share classified material, it added. (IANS)

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