Anandi Ramalingam: the first woman director of Bharat Electronics

Sep 19, 2016 0

Bengaluru–State-run Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) on Monday announced the appointment of Anandi Ramalingam as its first woman whole-time director.

Ramalingam, who assumed charge as director (marketing), was General Manager of the military communication strategic business unit in the Bengaluru complex prior to her elevation, said the company in a statement here.

Anandi Ramalingam (Photo courtesy: Business Standard)

Anandi Ramalingam (Photo courtesy: Business Standard)

With over three decades experience in the city-based public sector enterprise, Ramalingam has expertise in equipment testing gained by working across domains of military communication.

“She headed testing for ‘Shakti’, the flagship artillery combat command and control system, developed indigenously with DRDO for the Indian army and its radio engineered network,” the statement said.

In 2004, Ramalingam was part of the team, which had set up marketing division for the military communication & electronic warfare unit here, it said, adding that in 2010, she was moved to international marketing division to head defence offsets, establishing the company as a reliance global supply chain partner for original equipment manufacturers.

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India 2nd largest market for FbStart: Facebook executive

Sep 19, 2016 0

By Sourabh Kulesh

New Delhi– India is the largest market for Facebook’s global progaramme to help developers build apps – FbStart – outside the US, a senior company executive said.

Launched in India in 2014, Facebook’s FbStart is a free one-year programme to help early stage mobile developers build, grow and monetise their apps.

“The reason for our existence is to make the world more open and connected and we have been trying achieving it though our family of apps over the past 12 years,” Satyajeet Singh, who leads Product Partnerships for Facebook in India, told IANS.

Satyajeet Singh

Satyajeet Singh

More than 75 per cent of top-grossing apps in India get integrated with the social media giant, Singh said.

“Each month, 1.7 billion people use Facebook, one billion use WhatsApp, one billion use Messenger and over 500 million people use Instagram to connect and share their experiences but still billions of people are unconnected. That is why, we’ve built tools like Facebook Platform and initiated programmes like FbStart, to help other developers in scaling their products and businesses and connect the world faster” he pointed out.

With FbStart, the developers are provided all the tools necessary for scaling their products faster, which includes open source tools like React Native for a faster cross platform app development, FB Login and Account Kit for seamless account creation, App Analytics to understand the user behaviour, and many more.

“Once they start getting some traction, FbStart can provide them free access to over 25 free services to take it to the next level. So it’s like helping developers in transforming their idea into a full fledge startup.” he said.

The company is organising an eight roadshows in cities such as Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Chandigarh, to interact with developers in some of these cities, and help understand the specialty about a region and what platform products can be built to help them.

Singh noted that under FbStart, there is scope for high potential mobile start-ups who are developing high quality apps and have seen some growth in their target market and FbStart is taking them to the next level.

“It started off with a 100 developers and now they are over 9,000 start-ups in 147 countries,” he said.

Noting that Indian market for FbStart is growing very rapidly, members in the platform regularly reach out to the company especially on the tools and services that they require.

The company now wants to go even deeper and support their developer ecosystem and understand the main concerns of the developers, Singh said.

While acknowledging that technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), are the future, Singh said that FbStart has tools and platforms for building programmes irrespective of which domain one is working on.

We continue taking feedback on our community on how we can improve it, he added. (IANS)

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Book Review: Making of a media empire and how hubris and miscalculations lost it

Sep 18, 2016 0

By Vikas Datta

Title: Network18 – The Audacious Story of a Start-up that Became a Media Empire; Author: Indira Kannan; Publisher: Portfolio Penguin; Pages: 352; Price: Rs 699

It was a start-up, even before the word was coined, and perhaps the best example of the creative achievements spurred by India’s path-breaking economic reforms since 1991. But the journey of Raghav Bahl from heading a small production company to a media conglomerate also demonstrates the moral and economic choices necessary in such a venture, which may not always mean a happy ending.

The story of TV18’s transformation into Network 18, before it changed hands, is also a tale of inspired vision, of audacious risk-taking, of alternating crises and opportunities, of last-minute negotiations reversing agreed outcomes, struggles with obdurate bureaucrats, which could not envisage or ignored the media’s special circumstances, and above all, the inexorable laws of the market. And Indira Kannan, who was on board for most of the journey, tells it like a cliff-hanger it perhaps would have been.

network18Kannan, who joined TV18 in 1995 when it was still a production company — known for its slick shows for existing cable networks — saw it become a channel itself in 1999, diversify immensely through the first decade of the new millennium and was with it till 2011. She starts her story in May 1995 with one of the first major controversies it faced.

There would be few now who would remember the bold and sassy “The Nikki Show” hosted by British-Indian actress and Kabir Bedi’s then wife on Star Plus, as it went off air after a few episodes. However one notorious edition was enough to threaten to land the host, guest and prominent gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi, as well as Bahl and his partner Sanjay Ray Chaudhri, (or RayC as he was known) and Star TV owner Rupert Murdoch behind bars for denigrating the Mahatma.

And from this — possibly the first but unfortunately not the last time the electronic media figured in an unsavoury controversy that became politicised — starts the account of a venture that would utterly change the face of media, and the business of media, in India in the decades to come.

From there, Kannan takes us back to the circumstances in which TV18 was started in 1991. With short but pertinent biographies of the main protagonists and a string of telling anecdotes, she writes of the full advantage they took of opportunities offered by the advent of cable TV and the arrival of BBC, Murdoch’s Star, and later Zee, to slowly become a well-recognised brand. There are also the forays with Business TV and its television arm, and later with ABN in association with the Hindujas, both of which had less than the desired outcomes, and ended on a messy note.

The book takes up TV18’s transformation into a business channel, the broadening into news and general programming — where the two developments that most stand out are the way that CNN, which had come to an agreement with NDTV, was convinced to tie up with them instead, and how bureaucratic opposition to its telecast was sort of short-circuited with the “accidental” transmission of a message by then Information and Broadcasting Minister, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi.

Another key episode is the background of the “sting” of the alleged bribery of MPs ahead of the 2008 trust vote in the Manmohan Singh government — where Bahl’s usual hands-off approach proved costly — and the consequences that ensued.

On the other hand, Kannan makes no attempt to hide the miscalculations and the mistakes, in particular, a point of hubris, which began the road towards eventual change of ownership. Though best related in the foreword contributed by Bahl himself, it is also moot that it is easier to be wise after the incident, and many consequences of decisions are not apparent till much later.

But while telling the story of Bahl and his ambitious venture, the account also offers an incisive look at the development of TV programming and the media business over the last three decades and more, particularly in the post-liberalisation phase. Kannan has written a racy, well-written book, though without critical appraisal of the man who was her boss for a long time. Perhaps she was too close to the man or the events to be too critical. Nevertheless, it serves as a valuable read for both businessmen and media persons.

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Market Review: Rate and results to drive the equity markets

Sep 18, 2016 0

By Rohit Vaid

Mumbai–The possibility of a US rate hike and the pace of foreign fund inflows are expected to drive the Indian equities markets in the upcoming week.

“It is expected that global investors will remain cautious ahead of the policy meetings of the Bank of Japan and US Federal Reserve,” said D.K. Aggarwal, Chairman and Managing Director, SMC Investments and Advisors.

“However, there is an assumption that domestic market would continue to move upward as the growth story of the Indian economy is intact and it is expected that market may touch the level of 9,000 in the near future.”

The US Fed’s FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) will meet on September 20-21. A hike in US interest rates can potentially lead FPIs (Foreign Portfolio Investors) away from emerging markets such as India.

It is also expected to dent business margins as access to capital from the US will become expensive.

“The US Fed meeting outcome remains the most influencing event for the week. It will drive the global sentiments and hence the flows too,” said Devendra Nevgi, Chief Executive of ZyFin Advisors.

“The futures markets are factoring a probability of 15 per cent of a hike. So if a hike comes, the markets will be negatively impacted. A negative event might hit the markets harder due the fact that it has rallied recently.”

Nevgi said the commentary by the US Fed and cues on the upcoming monetary policy review of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will also be closely watched.

“The upcoming earnings season and the October RBI policy action would be crucial too,” Nevgi pointed out.

As per Anand James, Chief Market Strategist at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services, equity markets fear that global central banks will stop the easy monetary policies which were pursued so far.

“FOMC rate decision should bring in more clarity to that end, and the second half of next week is expected to see less volatility,” James told IANS.

“Oil markets are, however, likely to be more volatile as the much awaited energy conference approaches.”

James added that equity market’s reaction on last Friday to Deutsche Bank’s fine was possibly exaggerated by FOMC rate decision.

The fine led to a correction in the key European indices on last Friday which capped gains of the Indian equity markets.

Besides, the Indian rupee, which weakened last week, is also expected to be closely tracked. The rupee weakened by 30 paise to 66.98 against a US dollar from its previous close of 66.68 to a greenback.

According to Anindya Banerjee, Associate Vice President for Currency Derivatives with Kotak Securities: “We see USD/INR remaining well supported around 66.60/70 levels on spot and the pair needs to make a sustained move above 67.30 to trigger a short squeeze in USD shorts.”

“In global markets, the interplay of strong USD, weak bonds and weak oil prices is a bad narrative for emerging markets. The longer this play continues, the more vulnerable emerging markets can become.”

Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, pointed out that investors will also keep an eye out on the pace of foreign funds inflow into the Indian equity markets.

Provisional figures from stock exchanges showed an outflow of Rs 64.93 crore during the previous week.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) disclosed that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) were net sellers of equities worth Rs 1,005.08 crore, or $150.02 million from September 12-16.

“Investors will closely follow the important cues like the FOMC meeting, FIIs (foreign institutional investors) fund inflow in the Indian equity markets and markets strength and sustainability at higher levels,” Desai said.

“Indian equity markets are likely to trade in a volatile manner due to profit booking at higher levels in the coming sessions. Auto and pharma sector stocks are likely to trade firm on support of strong fundamentals.”

For the trade week ended September 16, the key indices declined more than half a per cent each. Investors’ sentiments were eroded by speculation of a possible US rate hike and weak macro-economic data.

However, key indices showed some recovery on the last day of trade week on the back of short covering and value buying at lower levels.

The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE had closed the week’s trade with a loss of 198.22 points or 0.69 per cent to 28,599.03 points.

Similarly, the 51-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) edged down by 86.85 points or 0.98 per cent to 8,779.85 points. (IANS)

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Beauty brand KIKO opens flagship store in India

Sep 17, 2016 0

Noida–Italian beauty brand KIKO MILANO has opened its first store here.

The beauty brand store, that will open its doors for customers on Saturday, is located on the ground floor in the DLF Mall of India here.

“The opening of our first store in India marks an exciting moment and an important milestone for KIKO MILANO as it embarks on its journey in the Asian subcontinent,” Mark Koprowski, International Director, Percassi Group, said in a statement.

“In the past decade, India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing beauty markets in the world where consumers are constantly looking out for products to pamper themselves,” the statement read.

With over 850 stores in 17 countries and an online presence in 35 nations, the beauty brand offers a range of more than 1,400 products, including make-up, beauty accessories and skincare products. (IANS)

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Banks profits down due to provisioning for bad loans: Jaitley

Sep 16, 2016 0

New Delhi–Indian state-run banks have collectively made an operating profit of nearly Rs 35,000 crore this fiscal, but the massive provisioning for bad debts has pared their net profit down to Rs 222 crore, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.

“PSBs (public sector banks) have collectively made an operating profit of Rs 34,967 crore this year, but after allowing for the provisioning for bad loans, among others, net operating profit works out to Rs 222 crore,” Jaitley told reporters following a performance review meeting here with heads of state-run banks and financial institutions.

Jaitley-USMany state-run banks had reported huge losses for the first quarter ended June 30, owing to a sharp rise in provisioning for NPAs (Non Performing Assets) on account of an asset quality review ordered by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

In this connection, Jaitley pointed to the steel and infrastructure as the main sectors that provoked the asset quality review.

“The major contributors to the banks’ situation have been the steel and the infrastructure sectors,” the minister said.

“However, with the imposition of the MIP (minimum import price – to check cheap imports) the big steel companies’ balance sheets have started turning,” he added.

Noting that many of these long-troubled companies, have started paying the interest on their borrowings, Jaitley said: “Till the interest dues are paid, the asset (loan) is considered non-performing and deemed as such in the bank books.”

Jaitley held a quarterly performance review meeting with the Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors of PSBs and financial institutions here.

“The Finance Minister will review the progress of credit and growth and asset quality especially with regard to priority sectors lending including credit flow to agriculture, insurance sector, micro and small enterprises (MSE), minorities, SC and ST, education and housing loan among others,” a ministry statement said on Thursday.

“The issues relating to financial inclusion and literacy as well as non performing assets, or banks’ bad loans, are also likely to be discussed at the meeting,” it added.

The government last month announced infusion of Rs 22,915 crore capital for 13 PSBs, as part of the first tranche of capital infusion for the current fiscal.

Noting that the highway sector had picked up, while recent measures announced for the construction sector will add liquidity to these stressed accounts, Jaitley said.

Late last month, the government approved new norms for the construction sector to ensure quicker resolution of disputes, kick-start stalled projects and make access to financing easier.

Among the measures approved are release of 75 per cent of money earmarked for infrastructure companies towards completion of existing projects and coverage of disputes between companies and civic bodies under a new arbitration law. The 75 per cent of the arbitral award amount owed by government agencies will be deposited into an escrow account, which can be used to repay bank loans or to meet commitments in ongoing projects.

“The broad picture is that PSBs still face the challenge of high NPAs. Detailed discussions have taken place in this regard, while the new RBI norms and changes in legislation like the new Bankruptcy Code and the DRT (Debt Recovery Tribunal) law have helped to empower the banks,” Jaitley said.

He described the NPAs situation as being “not static or permanent”.

“There has been a lot of provisioning on account of NPAs. With an uptick in the sectors a large part of these would become de-provisioned and the accounts themselves would get upgraded,” he added.

The minister also said the Department of Financial Services and the RBI would prepare a policy on how to deal with those companies which have got a lot of stressed assets in the real estate sector.

The review meeting would be continuing for the rest of the day, Jaitley said.

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Here is how liberalization in India changed lives, lifestyles

Sep 15, 2016 0

By Vishal Gulati

Chandigarh–Author-journalist Ashwini Bhatnagar’s fourth book — and first work of fiction — is bang on time in terms of topicality.

This is the 25th year of India’s tryst with globalisation and as the media and experts discuss its economic fallout and the emergence of India on the world stage, Bhatnagar gives us the human take on it — the shaping of the 1990s generation that was then hailed as Gen Next.

“The High Bouncing Lover” (Ocean Books/ Rs 300/pp 201) is a page-turner and is also deeply reflective of how liberalisation changed lives, lifestyles, thought patterns and attitudes.

the-high-bouncing-loverIt traces the passage of individuals and families from near poverty to affluence and from timidity to courage — the hallmark which defined the upwardly mobile 1990s generation.

“The book is about transition,” Bhatnagar told IANS. “Transition from scarcity to affluence, from one lifestyle to another, transition in mindsets and relationships — from familiar bonds to alienation, from despair to hope and despair again, and exploration of love. It explores the nuances amongst dramatic situations and reveals the drama in what is unsaid, unexpressed.”

“This may sound very complex,” he added for good measure, yet “it’s really a simple narration of how we adopt, adapt and abandon as we slip into one life situation after another”.

Bhatnagar says the 1990s were marked by a “series of exhilarating dares” by young people who came out of “pre-fabricated” lives of the preceding decades and created companies and careers which took India to the global centre-stage.

ashwini-bhatnagar“As a journalist in the 1990s,” he said, “I came across scores of young people who transited from near poverty to magnificent affluence. I heard their stories and decided to tell them because they represent such an important part of our contemporary history — our present-day society.”

The central character of the novel, Dina Nath alias Danny, represents the aspirational side of the 1990s generation — people who believed in their merit and could brand themselves again and again to capitalise on market needs.

“They were the real heroes who created the economic and social environment as we know it now and which we take for granted,” Bhatnagar said.

Before the 1990s, India was “dull, drab and dreary; unexciting, and then the skies opened up. Suddenly, another life sprang up. Ability, agility and aspiration began to thrive. The transition started to happen”.

“The 1990s were so exciting. You could really go anywhere in life if you put your mind to it,” the author said.

In fact, the 1990s define the “let’s-move-on” moment of our history, not only in terms of an economic shift but also as a tectonic shift in social mobility and relationships — “the quick unpacking and packing of emotions and needs” became a lifestyle.

“The High Bouncing Lover” is not a corporate story. It doesn’t focus on corporatisation but on its impact. It’s a human story, a social story,” he said, adding: “It’s also an interesting love story.”

“It is a tragic love story too, if you go by the traditional meaning of a love story. But in the 1990s, love itself was in transit. It was transiting from the heavily emotional to the pragmatic. The feeling of loss stayed but one had to move on, address other competitive aspirations as well. Love was just one part of life, not the whole life,” he explained.

“The top priority then was wholesomeness of life — to escape from the drabness of Indian-ness pre-1990 by travelling light for quick flight. It created its own conflict but also the means to manage it.”

The novel, say critics, works through its characters. Each one is a distinctive slice from the lives of the 1990s generation — meritorious, empowered, seemingly whimsical but intensely pragmatic. They were, in fact, the people who created a brave new world in which the new millennium generation thrives today.

Bhatnagar’s three earlier books wre “Shadow’s Word”, “Magic of the Fanciful: Essay from Journalism” and “Doosri Azadi”.

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Two India-born MIT scientists win prestigious US awards, including $500,000

Sep 14, 2016 0

CAMBRIDGE, MA– Two Indo-American scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been conferred with prestigious awards for their path-breaking inventions.

Nasik-born Ramesh Raskar, an imaging scientist and inventor at MIT, has been awarded the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize 2016, it was announced at Cambridge, in Massachusetts, on Tuesday.

Ramesh Raskar

Ramesh Raskar

Dinesh Bharadia, researcher at MIT, won the Paul Baran Young Scholar Award of the US-based Marconi Society.

Raskar, 46, is the co-inventor of radical imaging solutions including femto-photography — an ultra-fast imaging system that can see around corners — low-cost eye-care solutions for the developing world, and a camera that allows users to read pages of a book without opening the cover.

“We are thrilled to honour Ramesh Raskar, whose breakthrough research is impacting how we see the world,” said Dorothy Lemelson, chair of the Lemelson Foundation, in a statement.

The technology, currently in development for commercialisation, uses ultrafast imaging to capture light at 1 trillion frames per second, allowing the camera to create slow motion videos of light in motion.

“Ramesh’s femto-photography work not only has the potential to transform industries ranging from internal medicine to transportation safety, it is also helping to inspire a new generation of inventors to tackle the biggest problems of our time,” Lemelson added.

“Everyone has the power to solve problems and through peer-to-peer co-invention and purposeful collaboration, we can solve problems that will impact billions of lives,” observed Raskar, who is also Associate Professor at MIT.

Dinesh Bharadia

Dinesh Bharadia

He plans to use a portion of the Lemelson-MIT Prize money to launch a new effort using peer-to-peer invention platforms that offer new approaches for helping young people in multiple countries to co-invent in a collaborative way, the statement read.

A doctorate from Stanford University in April 2015 and a graduate in electrical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, Bharadia, 28, who hails from Ichalkarnji in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district, has been awarded for his contribution to radio waves.

“Bharadia has been chosen for the 2016 Paul Baran Young Scholar Award for his contribution to send and receive radio (wireless) signals, including mobile telephony and data on the same channel (wave),” the Marconi Society said in a statement.

“Bharadia’s research disproved a long-held assumption that it is not possible for a radio to receive and transmit on the same frequency band because of the resulting interference,” the statement said.

The Marconi young scholar award includes $4,000 (Rs. 2,67,870) prize and expenses to attend its annual awards event.

He will receive the award at a ceremony in Mountain View, California, on November 2.

Bharadia’s technology can be used in India to build relays which can listen to signals from a cellular tower, transmit them instantly and extend the range across the country.

It also has the potential for multiple applications such as building novel wireless imaging that can enable driverless cars ride in severe weather conditions and help blind people to navigate indoors.

According to his Stanford PhD guide Sachin Katti, Bharadia’s work enables a host of new applications, from low-power Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to motion tracking.

Explaining his work, Bharadia explained that when two persons are shouting at each other same time through telephony, neither can hear as they are using the same frequency.

“The noise in your ears (interference) from your shouting prevents you from hearing the other person. That’s why radios use two different frequencies to transmit and receive simultaneously,” he said.

The shouting analogy shows that the interference is stronger than the signal the radio is trying to receive and the resulting interference depends on the environment and its reflectors, changing in real-time as people move around.

“Bharadia has demonstrated that systems can overcome all such obstacles by inventing new formulas that could in real-time model the non-linear, time-varying self-interference cancellation circuits, said the statement.

Stanford University emeritus professor Arogyaswami Paulraj said Bharadia’s work in full duplex radio technology had helped advances in the domain by multiple research groups worldwide, including one group at IIT-Madras.

“Practical use of full duplex in mobile radios may not be far off,” Paulraj told IANS in an e-mail from California.

Co-incidentally, Paulraj was winner of the 2014 Marconi Prize in honour of his pioneering work in developing wireless technology to transmit and receive data at high speed. The 4G mobile phones used for voice, data and video and WiFi routers operate on Multiple-Input-Multiple Output (MIMO) technology pioneered by Paulraj.

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Pradhan holds auction road show in European oil capital Aberdeen

Sep 14, 2016 0

London–On the final day of his road shows abroad to attract foreign investors to exploit India’s small oil and gas fields, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday visited Scotland’s Aberdeen, considered the oil capital of Europe.

“Visiting Aberdeen, Scotland on shore of North Sea; it’s known as Houston of UK since it hosts oil industry, producing Brent oil in North Sea,” Pradhan tweeted.

Pradhan was accompanied by the Scottish Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse on his visit.

Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

“Met Mr Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Minister for Innovation & Energy;agreed to expand cooperation,esp in technology,” Pradhan said in a separate tweet.

“I’d like to take this opportunity of welcoming Minister Pradhan to Scotland and wish him a successful and fruitful visit,” the Scottish Minister said.

“Scotland is home to one of the most respected and experienced oil and gas sectors across the globe and recognised globally for its strengths in innovation, technology, skills and training. The current downturn is impacting on the sector but we are doing everything in our power to ensure it remains a key player in the long term,” Wheelhouse added.

On Wednesday, Pradhan also addressed an investors meeting on the upcoming auction of India’s 67 hydrocarbon discovered small fields (DSF)

“At Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen; RGU is hosting our meeting with investors for Discovered small field,” Pradhan said in another tweet.

“Addressed a gathering of investors & technology leaders in RGU; offered them prospects of investment in DSF bidding,” he said.

“Visited Drilling simulation centre in RGU; impressed to see such hi-tech facility in university used by global majors,” he added.

On Monday, Pradhan assured investors that the government will “proactively facilitate” their working in the Indian oil and gas sector.

He also inaugurated the physical data room here of the DSF Bid Round, and met British Energy Minister Greg Clark.

India’s Petroleum Ministry along with the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) has organised this series of interactive meet-cum-roadshows between September 9-14, earlier in Singapore and currently in Britain.

“During the meetings, Pradhan is expected to highlight the paradigm shift in the policy regime for the exploration and production sector in India and the improved investment environment for E&P (exploration and production) companies under the new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP) which emphasises on improving the ease of doing business and operational autonomy to attract investment,” DGH had said in a statement.

Road shows were earlier held in July in the US and Canada, for the auction of India’s 67 hydrocarbon discovered small fields.

Bidding is open between July 15 and October 31.

The auction will be under the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy approved in March, which is based on a revenue-sharing model as opposed to cost-and-output-based norms earlier.

Under the Discovered Small Field Policy, the government is offering for bids 67 discovered small fields in 46 contract areas spread over nine sedimentary basins on land and in shallow and deep water areas.

The offered fields hold 625 million barrels of oil and gas reserves.

Of the 46 small fields, 26 are on land, 18 offshore in shallow water and two in deep water.

While 28 discoveries are in Mumbai offshore, 14 others are in the east coast’s Krishna-Godavari basin.

Eventual operators will be issued a single licence for exploration of conventional and non-conventional hydrocarbons and will have the freedom to sell oil and gas at “arms length” market prices. There would be no cess on crude oil. (IANS)

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Mamata redeems promise, returns land to Singur farmers

Sep 14, 2016 0

Singur, West Bengal–Redeeming a pledge she made years back, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday returned 9,117 land records to farmers and compensated 800 peasants from whom land had been taken against their will for the Tata Motors’ Nano project.

Mamta Banerjee

Mamta Banerjee

Amid chants and songs eulogising the state and the chief minister, thousands watched as Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo, personally handed out the documents to many of the farmers who responded with warm smiles and touched her feet in gratitude at the Singur Diwas venue here at Sanapara.

It was the same spot of the Durgapur Expressway where Banerjee had held a 16-day sit-in protest in 2008 demanding 400 acres out of the total 997.11 acres acquired for the project be returned to the “unwilling farmers”.

Lending a hand at the packed event were her party leaders including celebrities like actor Dev Chatterjee.

Intellectuals and activists including Narmada Bacho Andolan founder member Medha Patkar, who had supported Banerjee’s staunch stance on the issue right at the outset, were also present.

A replica of an agricultural field installed at the venue in Hooghly district struck a chord with the peasants who erupted in joy and were overwhelmed with the celebrations which came two weeks after the Supreme Court struck down the land acquisition made by the erstwhile Left Front government and ordered the land be returned to the cultivators. (IANS)

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