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AAI receives 45 initial proposals from 11 bidders covering more than 200 RCS routes under UDAN
Jan 19,2017

Airports Authority of India (AAI), the implementing agency for the Regional Connectivity Scheme (UDAN) has received 45 initial proposals from 11 bidders covering more than 200 RCS routes as the deadline for submitting initial proposals came to an end on 16th Jan 2017. These initial proposals cover as many as 65 airports, of which there are 52 un-served and 13 under-served airports as per the provisions of the scheme. Counter-bids have now been invited against these initial proposals, the last date of submission for which is 1st Feb. 2017. The routes or networks will be awarded to the bidders who quote the lowest requirement of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) against such routes. To ensure that operations on ground start with minimum time-gap after the bidding is completed, parallel action has also been initiated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation with AAI, State Governments, DGCA and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

It may be recalled that with the twin objectives of promoting balanced regional growth and making flying affordable for masses, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had launched the Regional Connectivity Scheme (UDAN) on 21st Oct. 2016. RCS was a key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy which was released by the Ministry on 15th June 2016. The scheme, which would be in operation for a period of 10 years, envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served regions of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports. This would be achieved through a financial stimulus in the form of Central and State government concessions, as well as Viability Gap Funding to the interested airlines to kick-off operations from such airports, so that the passenger fares are kept affordable. The fare for a one hour journey of approximately 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would be capped at Rs. 2,500 under the scheme, with proportionate pricing for routes of different lengths / duration.

The Union Minister of Civil Aviation Sh. P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, while expressing satisfaction with the response received under the scheme, conveyed that this is a significant step ahead in realizing our Honble Prime Ministers vision of connecting the un-connected and serving the un-served. The scheme is likely to give a major boost to tourism activities and employment generation in hinterland and Tier-II and Tier-III cities, he added.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on Institutional Cooperation in Maritime Transport
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates on Institutional Cooperation in Maritime Transport.

The proposed MoU will pave way for facilitation and promotion of maritime transport, simplification of customs and other formalities, wherever possible, observed in Ports and facilitation of the use of existing installations for the disposal of waste.

The MoU will enable Shipping Companies in both countries to enter into bilateral and multi-lateral arrangements for sustainable trading activities.

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Cabinet approves Alternative Mechanism to decide on the quantum of disinvestment in case of minority stake sale in CPSEs
Jan 18,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to Alternative Mechanism, who would decide on the quantum of disinvestment in a particular Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSE) on a case by case basis subject to Government retaining 51 percent equity and management control. This is in addition to the present functions performed by Alternative Mechanism as has been approved by CCEA in August, 2014.

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Cabinet approves amendment in Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for amendment in the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) to further incentivize investments in Electronic Sector and moving towards the goal of Net Zero imports in electronics by 2020.

Besides expediting investments into the Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector in India, the amendments in M-SIPS are expected to create employment opportunities and reduce dependence on imports. The projects already received under the scheme have the potential to generate employment to the extent of upto one million persons (direct and indirect).

The Policy covers all States and Districts and provides them an opportunity to attract investments in electronics manufacturing. So far, 243 applications have been received under the scheme, out of which 75 applications have been approved involving investment proposals of Rs. 17,997 crore.

The salient features of the amendment are:

a) The applications will be received under the scheme upto 31st December 2018 or till such time that an incentive commitment of Rs 10,000 crore is reached, whichever is earlier. In case the incentive commitment of Rs 10,000 crore is reached, a review will be held to decide further financial commitments.

b) For new approvals, the incentive under the scheme will be available from the date of approval of a project and not from the date of receipt of application.

c) The incentives will be available for investments made within 5 years from the date of approval of the project.

d) Approvals will normally be accorded to eligible applications within 120 days of submission of the complete application.

e) A unit receiving incentives under the scheme, will provide an undertaking to remain in commercial production for a period of at least 3 years.

f) The Appraisal Committee recommending approval of project will be chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and IT.

g) A separate Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary and comprising of CEO, NITI Aayog, Secretary Expenditure and Secretary, MeitY will be set up in respect of mega projects, envisaging more than Rs. 6850 crore (approx. USD 1 Billion) investments.

Background

The Cabinet had, in July, 2012 approved the M-SIPS to provide a special incentive package to promote large scale manufacturing in the Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector. The scheme provides subsidy for capital expenditure - 20% for investments in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and 25% in non-SEZs. The Scheme was amended in August, 2015 for scope enhancement and simplification of procedure. The Scheme has attracted investments in the ESDM sector to the tune of Rs. 1,26,838 crore, of which investments of around Rs. 17,997 crore have been approved by the MeitY. The M-SIPS has been able to create positive impact on investment in electronics sector.

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Cabinet approves MOU between India and United Arab Emirates for cooperation in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises and Innovation
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing the Memorandum of Understanding between India and United Arab Emirates for cooperation in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises and Innovation.

The MoU would benefit Indian SMEs and lead to equitables and inclusive development. The exposure to best practices in SME sector abroad would provide an opportunity to Indian SMEs to improve upon them and innovate further. It would also provide to Indian SME sector an opportunity to have a mutually beneficial relation with SME sector of the United Arab Emirates and to explore their markets.

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Cabinet gives approval to the package for supporting MSEs - Augmentation of Corpus of CGTMSE
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval to the package for supporting Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) - Augmentation of the Corpus of Credit Guarantee Trust Fund for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).

The proposal entails the following:

(i) Augmentation of the corpus of the Trust from Rs. 2,500 crore to Rs. 7,500 crore, to be fully funded by the GoI;

(ii) To increase coverage of the loans covered under the credit guarantee scheme from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 2 crore;

(iii) To increase coverage of the credit guarantee scheme for loans being extended to micro and small enterprises by NBFCs also. This would enable the Trust to enhance the quantum

The measures would result in the following benefits:

a. Lowering the level of leverage;

b. Improving sustainability of the Fund;

c. Enable the Trust to enhance the quantum of credit guarantee to larger number of MSEs;

d. Improving financial management; and

e. Limit the unfunded contingent liabilities.

Augmentation of the corpus would facilitate larger flow of credit to MSEs. This in turn, would lead to increased output and employment and thereby promote equity and inclusiveness.

As the scheme provides credit without collateral and third-party guarantee, the start-ups would be encouraged to set up enterprises based on innovation and new ideas.

Every operation is online and therefore, the system ensures public accountability.

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Cabinet approves the repealing of the obsolete and redundant laws
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2017 to repeal 105 Acts.

Background:

The two Member Committee constituted by the PMO, the Law Commission of India and the Legislative Department identified 1824 redundant and obsolete Central Acts for repeal. After careful examination and consultation with various Ministries/Departments in the Government of India, four Acts have been enacted to repeal 1175 Central Acts (during the period May, 2014 to August, 2016) by Parliament which are -

i) The Repealing and Amending Act, 2015 (17 of 2015) repealing 35 Acts; The Repealing and Amending (Second) Act, 2015 (19 of 2015) repealing 90 Acts;

ii) The Appropriation Acts (Repeal) Act, 2016 (22 of 2016) repealing 756;

iii) Appropriation Acts including Appropriation (Railways) Acts;

iv) The Repealing and Amending Act, 2016 (23 of 2016) repealing 294 Acts.

Out of the aforesaid 1824 Acts, 227 Acts (including Appropriation Acts enacted by Parliament for the States under Presidents Rule) are identified to be repealed by State Governments have been requested to take necessary action to repeal them.

A list of remaining 422 Central Acts was circulated among all the Ministries/ Departments for their comments on repeal of Acts pertaining to their respective Ministries/Departments. Till date, 73 Ministries/Departments including Legislative Department have given their comments whereby they have agreed to repeal 105 Acts and disagreed to repeal about 139 Acts. On the basis of the comments/concurrence received from the Ministries/Departments, 105 Acts have been identified for repeal by this Department.

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Cabinet approves the exclusion of States from the investments of National Small Savings Fund from 1 April 2016
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to exclude State Governments States/UTs (with Legislature) except Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh from National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) investments from 01.04.2016. It also approved providing a one-time loan of Rs. 45,000 crore from NSSF to Food Corporation of India (FCI) to meet its food subsidy requirements.

The details are as under:-

a) Exclusion of States/UTs (with Legislature) excepting Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi from NSSF Investments. Arunachal Pradesh shall be given loans to the tune of 100% of NSSF collections within its territory, whereas Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh shall be provided 50% of collections.

b) Servicing of interest and principal of debt extended to FCI through the budget line of Department of Food and Public Distribution. The repayment obligation of the FCI in respect of NSSF Loans would be treated as the first charge on the food subsidy released to the Food Corporation of India. In addition, FCI shall reduce the amount of its current Cash Credit Limit with the banking consortium to the extent of the NSSF loan amount.

c) NSSF in the future shall, with the approval of Finance Minister, invest on items the expenditure of which is ultimately borne by Government of India and the repayment of principal and interest thereto would be borne from the Union budget.

The States except Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh shall be excluded from NSSF investments from 01.04.2016. A legally binding agreement will be signed between FCI, Department of Food and Public Distribution and Ministry of Finance on behalf of NSSF on the modalities for repayment of interest rate and principal and the restructuring of FCI debt will be made possible within 2-5 years.

Once states are excluded from NSSF investments, the investible funds of NSSF with Gol will increase. Increased availability of the NSSF loan to Gol may reduce the Gols market borrowings. The States will however, see an increase in market borrowings. Any increase in yields due to an increased demand for loanable funds in the market from Centre and States combined would be marginal. The reduction of FCIs borrowing cost equivalent to the extent of the interest differential will be reflected in the Gols savings on the Food Subsidy Bill.

Implementing the decision to exclude states from NSSF investments and extending the loan will entail no additional cost. Instead a reduction in the food subsidy bill of the Gol is anticipated.

Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh will continue availing of NSSF loans, 26 other States and Puducherry who are eligible to borrow from the market have preferred to stop taking loans from the NSSF.

Background:

The Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) recommended that State Governments be excluded from the investment operations of the NSSF. The NSSF loans come at an extra cost to the State Government as the market rates are considerably lower. The Union Cabinet in its meeting held on 22nd February, 2015, accepted that this recommendation will be examined in due course in consultation with various stake holders. Barring Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, the other State Governments/UTs expressed a desire to be excluded from NSSF investments. The involvement of States which are excluded from operations of National Small Savings Fund with effect from 1.4.2016 would be limited solely to discharging the outstanding NSSF debt obligations as on 31.3.2016 (FFC Recommendation). The loan contracted by States till 31.3.2016, from the National Small Savings Fund will stand completely repaid by the Financial Year 2038-39.

NSSF shall extend a part of its collections to Food Corporation of India (FCI) to meet its food subsidy requirement. This will help the FCI reduce its interest cost. FCI presently takes working capital loans through Cash Credit Limit (CCL) at an interest rate of 10.01% and Short Term Loan (STL) at a weighted average interest rate of 9.40%, whereas the NSSF currently charges 8.8% p.a interest on its loans. This savings on interest rate outgo will reduce the food subsidy burden of the Government of India.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Vietnam In the field of cyber security
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Vietnam in the field of Cyber Security. It was signed between Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), India and the Cyber Security Department, Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam on 3rd September 2016 at Hanoi.

The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation for exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of cyber security-related incidents between India and Vietnam.

Implementation of the MoU will result in significant mutual benefits in the cyber security sector, through institutional and capacity-building in the field of cyber security in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

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Cabinet approves the Establishment of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Jharkhand
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the 12th Plan Proposal of the DARE/ICAR Plan Scheme of the Establishment of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (lARI)-Jharkhand. It will have an estimated outlay of Rs. 200.78 crores (100% ICAR share) on 1,000 acre land provided by the Government of Jharkhand at the Gauria Karma Village in Barhi Block of Hazaribag.

lARI-Jharkhand would be a unique Institution, which would possess all the hallmark identities as that of IARI at New Delhi including all sectors of agriculture like field crops, horticultural crops, agro-forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, poultry, piggery, silk and lac rearing, honey production etc.

IARI-Jharkhand would work on the agrarian challenges and complexities of eastern India with all existing Central and State Government R&D institutions and Private sector enterprises. It will undertake research, education, extension programmes in its mission towards developing quality human resource, generation of farmer friendly technologies to enhance productivity, quality and profitability. It will also promote agro-based industries and generate employment opportunities for holistic and sustainable development of the agriculture sector in the eastern region. It will be an off-campus of IARI, New Delhi and integrated multi-disciplinary research would be undertaken in School mode, i.e. Schools of Crop Sciences, Natural Resource Management, and Animal Sciences.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on Bilateral Cooperation in the Road Transport and Highways sector
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates on Bilateral Cooperation in the Road Transport and Highways Sector to be signed between the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, India and the Federal Transport Authority - Land and Maritime, U.A.E.

The proposed MoU envisages increased cooperation, exchange and collaboration between India and the UAE, and will contribute to increased investment in infrastructure development and enhance logistics efficiency. This will help in promoting safe, economical, efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the country and will further help both the countries in creating an institutional mechanism for cooperation in the field. Salient features of the MoU are:

a. Exchange and sharing of knowledge and cooperation in the area of transportation technologies and transport policies, for passenger and freight movement by roads;

b. Planning, administration and management of road infrastructure, technology and standards for roads/highways construction and maintenance;

c. Sharing of information and best practices for developing road safety plans and road safety intervention strategies, and outreach activities aimed at reducing deaths and injuries resulting from road accidents through:

d. Sharing of knowledge and best practices in user-free (toll)-related issues; including modern systems, technologies and methods of levying of user-free and collection including Electronic Toll Collection System;

e. Sharing of information areas of improved technologies and materials in road and bridge construction, including joint research; and

f. Sharing of information and cooperation for mobilizing investments for setting up of Logistics Parks, freight logistics, transportation warehousing and value added services (VAS) as an enabler and as a catalyst of economic growth and seamless freight movement.

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Cabinet approves MoU on cooperation on Youth matters between India and Russia
Jan 18,2017

Exchange programmes in the field of Youth Affairs between India and Russia will help in promoting exchange of ideas, values and culture amongst Youth through establishment of people-to-people contacts and in consolidating friendly relations between the two countries.

The selections for participation in exchange programmes shall be done in an objective and transparent manner and the outcomes of the programmes under the MoU shall be open for public scrutiny.

Exchange programmes will help in developing international perspective among the Youth and expanding their knowledge and expertise in the areas of Youth Affairs.

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Cabinet approves Indias Membership in the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), South Korea
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the proposal for Indias taking full membership of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Governing Council. The move involves payment of annual contribution of US $ 5,00,000 to the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea.

Background

International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea, established in 1997 on the initiatives of the UNDP, is an international organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases. In the year 2007, with the approval of Cabinet, India joined IVI. India is a long-term collaborator and stake-holder of IVI. In December, 2012 the Board of Trustees (BOT) of IVI approved the formation of its new governance structure. As per the new governance structure of IVI, a member State has to contribute to the IVI by paying a portion of its core budget. Since India is classified in Group-I, it has to pay an annual contribution of US $ 50,000.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Serbia for cooperation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Serbia for promoting cooperation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics.

The MoU aims to promote cooperation between India and Serbia in the field of IT and Electronics, and to foster active cooperation and exchanges between the private entities, capacity building institutions, the Governments and other public and private organizations of the two countries in IT & Electronics.

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Cabinet apprised of the MoU between the ISRO and the JAXA for cooperation in the field of outer space
Jan 18,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on November 11, 2016 at Tokyo, Japan between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for cooperation in the field of outer space.

The purpose of this MoU is to pursue future cooperative activities in the exploration and use of outer space exclusively for peaceful purposes in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable in each country and their international obligations.

This MoU provides scope for pursuing cooperation in various areas of space science technology and applications including: eearth observation, satellite communication and navigation; exploration and space sciences; Research and development (space systems and space technology); and Space industry promotion.

ISRO and JAXA will bear the costs of their respective activities under this Memorandum, unless they decide otherwise in writing. Ability to fulfil their respective roles and activities under this Memorandum and its relevant separate Implementation Arrangement is subject to their respective funding procedures, the availability of appropriated funds and their respective national laws.

Framework MoU would lead to joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity. Thus all sections and regions of the country will get benefited.

Background:

India and Japan pursue space cooperation for more than 5 decades and carried out studies in the field of atmospheric study, observation of universe and scientific investigation in remote sensing. With the formation of JAXA in 2003, an arrangement concerning the considerations of potential future cooperation in the field of outer space was signed in October 2005 between ISRO/ Department of Space (DOS) and JAXA. Subsequently both agencies have signed cooperative documents addressing lunar exploration, satellite navigation, X-ray astronomy and Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF).

During the ISRO-JAXA bilateral meeting held at New Delhi on April 05, 2016, both sides stressed the need for updating the contents of 2005 Arrangement with enhanced scope of cooperation. Accordingly, both sides have arrived at the draft of new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ISRO and JAXA concerning cooperation in the field of outer space and got it signed on November 11, 2016 at Tokyo during the visit of Prime Minister of India to Japan.

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