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The main cause of water scarcity in country is consecutive failure of monsoon, resulting low storages in dams
Aug 23,2016

The report of on the Spot Study of Water Situation in Drought Affected Areas of the country (2015-16) has recommended construction of water harvesting structures, mass awareness among citizen for water conservation, construction of new water storage structures, interlinking of rivers, renovation and repair of existing water bodies as some of the important measures to meet the challenges of overall water scarcity scenario in the country. The study was carried out by Central Water Commission under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. Various long/short term measures (being taken up and to be taken up) to mitigate water scarcity situation have also been recommended which are region/area/state specific.

In some areas like Marathwada of Maharashtra, Bundelkhand of UP and MP interlinking projects have been recommended. Water budgeting and planning the cropping patterns for the oncoming agricultural season(s), the strategy for avoiding water intensive crops to the extent in consultation with the relevant expert departments are also crucial for checking such situation. Micro irrigation (sprinkler and drip) should be adopted to achieve more crops per drop.

The study says that at almost all places minimum domestic water requirements are being met through importing water from other regions, if required; by digging local deep bore wells and also by tankers. Ground water levels have been reported as falling in almost all regions of the country due to over exploitations and inadequate recharging mechanism for ground water. However, no specific observation on water quality has been reported at most of the areas except in Gujarat, where problem of salinity in coastal areas has been reported.

According to the report, the water scarcity situation is prevailing in the country, but some pockets like Marathwada in Maharashtra, Bundelkhand in U.P. and MP, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are more affected by water scarcity situation. The main cause of water scarcity in country is consecutive failure of monsoon, resulting low storages in dams, during last two years. Rainfall deficit in country as a whole during 2015 was 14% and in 2014 it was 12%. Earlier, year 2012 was also a rainfall deficit year with 11% deficit. Consecutive less rainfall also resulted less carryover storage in reservoirs.

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Mineral Production during June 2016 was 4.7% higher as compared to June 2015
Aug 23,2016

The index of mineral production of mining and quarrying sector for the month of June (new Series 2004-05=100) 2016 at 127.3, was 4.7% higher as compared to June 2015. The cumulative growth for the period April- June 2016-17 over the corresponding period of previous year stands at (+) 2.3%.

The total value of mineral production (excluding atomic & minor minerals) in the country during June 2016 was Rs. 18344 crore. The contribution of Coal was the highest at Rs. 7171 crore (39%). Next in the order of importance were: Petroleum (crude) Rs. 5393 crore, Natural gas (utilized) Rs. 2077 crore, Iron ore Rs. 1802 crore, Limestone Rs. 584 crore and Lignite Rs.517 crore. These six minerals together contributed about 96% of the total value of mineral production in June 2016.

Production level of important minerals in June 2016 were: Coal 517 lakh tonnes, Lignite 37 lakh tonnes, Natural gas (utilized) 2511 million cu. m., Petroleum (crude) 30 lakh tonnes, Bauxite 2177 thousand tonnes, Chromite 297 thousand tonnes, Copper conc. 10 thousand tonnes, Gold 114 kg., Iron ore 150 lakh tonnes, Lead conc. 17 thousand tonnes, Manganese ore 179 thousand tonnes, Zinc conc. 73 thousand tonnes, Apatite & Phosphorite 54 thousand tonnes, Limestone 274 lakh tonnes, Magnesite 23 thousand tonnes and Diamond 2932 carat.

The production of important minerals showing positive growth during June 2016 over June 2015 include Iron ore (42.6%), Bauxite (35.5%), Chromite (34.9%), Gold (14.0%), Coal (11.4%), Diamond (9.5%), Limestone (7.6%) and Magnesite (0.7%). The production of other important minerals showing negative growth are: Apatite & Phosphorite [(-) 80.7%], Zinc conc. [(-) 44.2%], Lead conc. [(-) 17.8%], Petroleum (crude) [(-) 4.3%], Natural gas (utilized) [(-) 3.9%], Lignite [(-) 3.6%], Manganese ore [(-) 3.0%] and Copper conc. [(-) 2.7%].

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Gartner Says Five of Top 10 Worldwide Mobile Phone Vendors Increased Sales in Second Quarter of 2016
Aug 23,2016

Global Sales of Smartphones Grew 4.3 Percent Year on Year

Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 344 million units in the second quarter of 2016, a 4.3 percent increase over the same period in 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. Overall sales of mobile phones contracted by 0.5 percent with only five vendors from the top 10 showing growth. Among them were four Chinese manufacturers (Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and BBK Communication Equipment) and South Koreas Samsung.

Demand for premium smartphones slowed in the second quarter of 2016 as consumers wait for new hardware launches in the second half of the year, said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. In addition, the decline in sales of feature phones (down 14 per cent) bolstered the decline in overall sales of mobile phones in the second quarter of 2016 (see Table 1).

All mature markets except Japan saw slowing demand for smartphones leading to a decline in sales of 4.9 percent. In contrast, all emerging regions except Latin America saw growth, which led to smartphone sales growing by 9.9 percent.

Table 1

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2Q16 (Thousands of Units)

Company2Q16
Units
2Q16 Market Share (%)2Q15
Units
2Q15 Market Share (%)Samsung76,743.522.372,072.521.8Apple44,395.012.948,085.514.6Huawei30,670.78.926,454.48.0Oppo18,489.65.48,073.82.4Xiaomi15,530.74.515,464.54.7Others158,530.346.0160,162.148.5Total344,359.7100.0330,312.9100.0

Source: Gartner (August 2016)

In the second quarter of 2016, Samsung had nearly 10 percent more market share than Apple. Samsung saw sales of its Galaxy A and Galaxy J series smartphones compete strongly with Chinese manufacturers. Its new smartphone portfolio also helped Samsung win back share it recently lost in emerging markets.

Apple continued its downward trend with a decline of 7.7 percent in the second quarter of 2016. Apple sales declined in North America (its biggest market) as well as in Western Europe. However, it witnessed its worst sales decline in Greater China and mature Asia/Pacific regions, where sales declined 26 percent. Apple had its best performance in Eurasia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe regions in the second quarter of 2016, where iPhone sales grew more than 95 percent year on year.

Among the top five smartphone vendors, Oppo exhibited the highest growth in the second quarter of 2016 at 129 percent. This is due to strong sales of its R9 handset in China and overseas.

Features such as an anti-shake camera optimized for selfies, and rapid charge technology, helped Oppo carve a niche market for itself and boost sales in a highly competitive and commoditized smartphone market, said Mr. Gupta.

In terms of the smartphone operating system (OS) market, Android regained share over iOSto achieve an 86 percent share (see Table 2) in the second quarter of 2016. Androids performance continued to come from demand for mid- to lower-end smartphones from emerging markets, but also from premium smartphones, which recorded a 6.5 percent increase in the second quarter of 2016.

A number of key Android players, such as Samsung with the Galaxy S7, introduced their new high-end devices, but Chinese brands like Huawei and Oppo are also pushing their premium smartphone ranges with more affordable devices.

Google is evolving the Android platform fast, which allows Android players to remain at the cutting edge of smartphone technology, said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. Facing a highly commoditized smartphone market, Googles focus is to further expand and diversify the Android platform with additional functionalities, like virtual reality, enabling more-intelligent experiences and reach into wearables, connected home devices, in-car entertainment and TV.

Table 2

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 2Q16 (Thousands of Units) 

Operating System2Q16
Units
2Q16 Market Share (%)2Q15
Units
2Q15 Market Share (%)Android296,912.886.2271,647.082.2iOS44,395.012.948,085.514.6Windows1,971.00.68,198.22.5Blackberry400.40.11,153.20.3Others680.60.21,229.00.4Total344,359.7100.0330,312.9100.0

Source: Gartner (August 2016)

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Economy in Motion, But Slow Investment Recovery is Hindering Growth Acceleration
Aug 23,2016

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has revised its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for FY17 upwards to 7.8% from its earlier forecast of 7.7% (FY16: 7.6%, FY15: 7.2%). The upward revision has been prompted by the progress of monsoon and the sowing of kharif crops so far. With the exception of East and Northeast, the rainfall in other regions of the country has been more than long period average.

With a favourable monsoon so far, Ind-Ra expects rural demand to recover in FY17. This coupled with urban demand, which will be aided the Seventh Central Pay Commission payout, will give a fillip to the consumption demand in the economy. Ind-Ra expects consumption demand to grow at 8.4% in FY17. However, industrial growth at 7.2% in FY17 will still be lower than the 7.4% witnessed in FY16.

The key factor that is holding the acceleration of industrial growth is investment recovery. The incumbent government has taken several initiatives. For example, to encourage manufacturing activity there has been a concerted focus on improving the ease of doing business through programmes such as Make in India, Start Up India etc. Similarly, to address the power sector woes, it has introduced the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme and to address the woes of other sectors such as metals, mining, road and oil & gas etc. it has introduced debt restructuring schemes. However, all this has failed to rekindle the animal spirit in the economy so far.

In fact, the debt-fuelled investment boom that began during FY10-FY11 has taken a heavy toll on the financial health of both corporates and banking sector. As a result, both are repairing their balance sheets. Another factor that is holding up investments is low capacity utilisation rates in a number of manufacturing sectors due to both tepid domestic demand and global overcapacity in sectors such as steel, tyre etc.

Ind-Ra expects the Wholesale Price Index and Consumer Price Index based inflation to come in at 3.3% and 5.0%, respectively, in FY17 (FY16: negative 2.5% and 5.0%). With food inflation surprising on the upside and households expecting inflation to rise in the near term, the window for further rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is shrinking. The real risk-free interest rate which had inched up to 4% in July-August 2015 is now down to 1.7%.

Despite a bit rusty fiscal arithmetic, Ind-Ra expects that the union government will still be able to achieve its fiscal deficit to the GDP target of 3.5% in FY17. Ind-Ra further expects FY17 to be the fourth consecutive year of comfortable current account deficit (CAD) deficit at USD29.0bn (1.3% of GDP). Ind-Ra believes that the export and import trends will not change during the remaining months of this fiscal due to the lack of global demand and soft commodity prices coupled with tepid domestic investment demand. A robust foreign capital inflow is expected to add nearly USD17bn to the forex reserve in FY17. Yet, Ind-Ra expects average INR/USD to be 67.79 in FY17 due to active RBI intervention in the forex market.

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Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust to sign agreement with bankers for External Commercial Borrowing
Aug 23,2016

Port projects, including connectivity projects, are critical to developing cargo handling capacity at Ports. With the thrust on port led development under the Sagarmala program, improving viability of projects is critical. One of the primary factors that impacts viability is the interest rate on borrowings to fund projects. Ports have surplus funds, but to achieve a quantum jump in the investment, borrowings would also have to be made by ports. Minister of Shipping and Road Transport & Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari, had suggested an innovative means of raising low-cost external commercial borrowings, particularly when the port had revenues in foreign exchange, which provided a natural hedge to the ports. This would substantially eliminate the requirement of hedging the forex risk and would reduce the cost of borrowing. This suggestion was followed up by Ports. JNPT is the first Major Port to finalise the terms of external commercial borrowing.

Considering the need of the JNPT to cater to the increase in traffic, Shri Nitin Gadkari realised the criticality of project implementation especially for NPTs cargo evacuation requirements and in a review meeting in July 2014, it was decided that the project for conversion of the existing road connectivity to 6/8 laning of NH-4B, SH-54 and Amra Marg on the boundaries of proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport in the state of Maharashtra, would be undertaken on EPC basis. Substantial investment would be required for this project, and cheaper funds would add to the viability of the project, reduce costs for end-users, and also ad to the profitability of JNPT.

In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modis port-led development programme, Indias premier container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Navi Mumbai, has signed an agreement with State Bank of India and Development Bank of Singapore for External Commercial Borrowing to the tune of USD 400 Million at a n++very competitiven++ interest rate to improve the infrastructure required for n++doublingn++ its existing capacity to 9.85 Million TEUs annually.

The ECB of USD 400 Million ( USD300 Million from the SBI & USD100 from DBS) will be primarily utilised by the JNPT, which has US Dollar denominated foreign currency earnings which can be leveraged for a low cost foreign currency borrowing, for expansion of its existing roads network connecting to its port project as the existing road network for evacuation of traffic is currently operated at a capacity utilisation of 100%.

The agreement with the SBI & DBS was signed by the JNPT Chairman Anil Diggikar in the presence of the Shipping Secretary Rajive Kumar after the Reserve bank of India granted approval to JNPT for raising USD400 Million with an end use of on-lending to Mumbai JNPT Port Road Company Limited (MJPRCL) for implementation of road project. The ministry of shipping has already granted its approval as required under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963. The two parties will exchange the documents today.

Borrowing by JNPT is for Door-to-Door tenor of 7.5 years. However, lending by JNPT to MJPRCL is for 16 years (two years construction and 14 years repayment).

The funding process involved assessment and structuring of cash-flows (both at JNPT level and MJPRCL level), bid process management, engagement of domestic and foreign lenders.

Project will be developed by Mumbai JNPT Port Road Company (MJPRCL), a joint venture company of NHAI, JNPT and CIDCO at a total estimated cost of Rs. 2895 crore. Considering the importance and urgency of implementation of the project, it will be taken up by MJPRCL on EPC mode and funding for the project would be carried out by JNPT.

The rate of ECB loan of 2.025% plus Libor USD6M ( approx 3.15%) which is cheaper than any other Indian currency loan.

The funding by JNPT is the first of its kind for major port and it opens up one more avenue for major and government ports to raise funds by accessing international markets for their requirements.

The project will primarily benefit and cater to the needs of JNPT and an improved connectivity is essential for traffic evaluation from JNPT. It is of great significance to JNPT and will give a boost to the countrys economy.

This project will cater to the additional cargo which will be handled at the 4th Container Terminal. JNPT is going to double its capacity in the next seven years. This evacuation corridor would help in supporting the EXIM trade besides providing economic opportunity to the local and region.

With this beginning, other Major ports would also adopt these means and improve their capability to invest. The step is another milestone in infusing dynamism into the functioning of the ports, both in their operations and financing.

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Shipping Ministry seeks 5% of Central Road Fund for development of Waterways
Aug 23,2016

The Shipping Ministry has mooted a proposal to utilize part of the fuel cess collected for building national highways for expansion of National Waterways as well. Speaking at the Infrastructure Session of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerces Annual Convention in Mumbai today, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari said his Ministry has sent a proposal seeking allocation of 5% of the Central Road Fund for development of Inland Waterways. n++My Ministry has prepared the proposal, but the final decision will be taken by the Ministry of Finance. I am pursuing the mattern++ Mr. Gadkari added.

Central Road Fund is a non-lapsable fund created under the Central Road Fund Act 2000 out of a cess imposed on petrol and high-speed diesel. The funds are meant to be used to develop and maintain national highways, state roads and railway over and under bridges. The move to seek a pie in the CRF follows governments ambitious plan to tap Indias vast network of rivers and canals stretching 14,500 kms for moving goods.

Mr. Gadkari said n++It is far more cheaper to transport goods by water as compared to road or rail. n++Currently cargo movement along the five existing national waterways is paltry 3% of all cargo movement in India. We want to raise the share of waterways in overall cargo movements to 15%n++ he said.

Earlier last week, the Shipping Minister Mr. Nitin Gadkari flagged off a cargo vessel carrying 200 Maruti cars from Varanasi to Kolkata as part of a pilot run. The Government has commissioned the Jal Marg Vikas project with the technical and financial support of the World Bank to augment capacity of River Ganga from Varanasi to Haldia. The Rs 4,200 crore project, when completed in six years, will facilitate movement of up to 2000 tonne vessels.

Under the National Waterways Act 2016, 111 inland waterways have been declared as National Waterways. Out of these, Allahabad-Haldia Ganga Waterway (NW1), Brahmaputra (NW2), West Coast Canal in Kerala (NW3), Mandovi river in Goa (NW 68), Sundarbans Waterway in West Bengal (NW97) and Zurari River (NW 111) are presently operational. Six more waterways are likely to be commissioned during this financial year.

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Delhi Poised to get New Air Force Aerospace Museum
Aug 23,2016

Delhi will soon have a sprawling new Aerospace Museum close to the international airport focused mainly on Nations rich aviation history. New Aerospace Museum is not only meant to preserve the glorious tradition of the IAF but also to create awareness in general public about Indias rich Aerospace heritage.

The IAF believes that the Museum would be a popular tourist attraction and a landmark in Indias capital city. A proposal for new Air Force Aerospace Museum was cleared by Ministry of Defence and final financial sanction on the Detailed Project Report is awaited. After the approval, the new museum would be ready for the tourists within 3-5 years.

Spread over 43 acres, the new Aerospace Museum would have extensive indoor and outdoor displays including huge aircraft parked and hanging in flying attitude with mural depicting the golden era. A dedicated childrens area would be part of the museum where children could enter cockpits of displayed aircraft and get the feel of flying controls. A video arcade would also be created. As per the plan, the internal displays would have a history section in which all IAF Squadrons history would be displayed along with aviation legends, major campaigns and wars fought by the IAF. Along with this history, major Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations undertaken by the IAF would also be highlighted.

The IAF presently has a museum near the technical area of Air Force Station Palam, which was established in 1967. The museum has an average footfall of 500 tourists daily and exhibits details about combat operations undertaken by the IAF depicting IAFs rich history since its formation in 1932 to present date, along with the display of various aircraft and equipment on the IAFs inventory, since its inception.

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Evening Bells: Bond yield rises
Aug 22,2016

The yield on 10-year benchmark federal paper, 7.59% GS 2026, increased by 06 basis points (bps) to close at 7.16% compared with 7.10% close in the previous trading session. The total trading volume on the central banks gilts trading platform was Rs 81390 crore.

The yield increased the most since February after Urjit Patels appointment was announced over the weekend.

The weighted average rate in the overnight call money market increased to 6.39%, compared with 6.37% in the previous session. The call money rate hovered in the range of 5.00% to 6.55% with the volume at Rs 14090.15 crore.

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Centre plans to provide Rs 90,000 Crore loan to SHGs in next two years
Aug 22,2016

Government plans to provide loan worth Rs. 90,000 Crore in next couple of years to Women Self-Help Groups, SHGs for non-farm economic activities. Addressing a National Workshop here on Best Practices in National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), Secretary, Rural Development Shri Amarjeet Sinha said that at present 3 crore women are linked to Aajeevika Mission and they availed about Rs 30,000 crore bank loans for economic activities. NRLM is an innovative flagship programme designed to alleviate rural poverty in a time-bound manner. Launched in 2011, the Mission aims at mobilizing all rural poor households into self-managed Self Help Groups (SHG) and federations which, in turn, promote the livelihoods of the poor.

The centrally sponsored Mission is currently being implemented in 3157 blocks across 462 districts by all states and Union territories in a phased but intensive manner. As of July, 2016, 324 lakh rural poor households stood mobilized into 26.94 lakh SHGs, which are in turn, federated into 1.45 village organizations. The states have set-up dedicated implementation structures at the state, district and block levels and have engaged more than 20000 dedicated professionals and about 1 lakh community professionals to implement the Mission. The Mission is designed to saturate social mobilization and SHG promotion in all blocks of the country during the next 3-4 years.

Shri Sinha also outlined the progress that the Mission has made in promoting farm-based livelihoods through Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana and employment and self-employment through DDU-GKY and RSETI components. The Secretary indicated 4 critical tasks ahead for the Mission viz. (i) saturating social mobilization in all blocks of the country during the next 3-4 years; (ii) augmenting and sustaining SHG-credit linkage in North and North-eastern states; (iii) ensuring to each rural household 2-3 sustainable livelihoods including skill-based employment/ self-employment; and (iv) promotion of poverty-free Gram Panchayats with funds dovetailed from different sources including NREGS and 14th Finance Commission. Shri Sinha commended the states for several of their innovations and best practices and advised others to adopt them after necessary customization.

The Mission has made significant progress. The Mission has provided a capital grant of about Rs. 3170 crores to the SHGs and federations in the form of revolving fund, community investment fund and interest subsidy to support the livelihoods of the poor. The cumulative own savings of SHGs facilitated by the Mission in intensive blocks alone account for over Rs. 10665 crores (up to July, 2016). More significantly, the SHGs have leveraged Rs. 83153 crores of bank credit since FY 2013-14. The financial services catalyzed by the Mission coupled with the technical livelihood support services provided are securing livelihoods, reviving local economies and empowering women across the country

As part of NRLM, 34 lakh Mahila Kisans are being supported under Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana component. In addition, about 19.70 lakh rural youth have been trained in self-employment skills through a network of 583 Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSESTIs), of whom 12.13 lakh have been settled in gainful self-employment. The Mission is poised for a big leap forward in livelihoods.

NRLM provides a substantial degree of autonomy to states to adopt innovative strategies, methods and processes in implementing the Mission. Further, states are also at different stages of implementation. Some have a longer history of promoting SHGs than others. The southern states are far ahead of others in mobilizing bank credit. Some states have adopted very successful models for institution building, financial inclusion and livelihoods promotion. Some have demonstrated scalable models with tangible livelihood outcomes. Successful models, innovations, experiments and practices demonstrated by different states can be adopted by others. It is in this context that MoRD is organizing a 2-day workshop on Best Practices in NRLM. The objective of the workshop is to facilitate sharing of experiences among the states and facilitate adoption of successful models by others. The workshop is, thus, expected to contribute to the pace and outcomes of the Mission.

About 35 best practices selected from 13 different states was presented at the workshop. The practices selected for presentation cover a wide range of themes viz. community institution building, financial inclusion of the poor, promotion of farm and non-farm livelihoods, food nutrition, health and sanitation, and convergence for livelihoods. The list of best practices is presented in attachment-I. The best practices presented at the workshop (documents and videos) will be compiled and published by the MoRD very shortly.

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Bond Gains to Halt; Rupee Anchored
Aug 22,2016

The appointment of Dr Urjit Patel as the new Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor signals the reassertion of policy continuity by policy makers. Bond gains are likely to halt and the currency will continue to face global risk shifts. The 10-year yield is likely to trade at 7.08%-7.18% (7.10% at close on 19 August) and the rupees trading range is likely to be 66.65/USD-67.25/USD (67.06/USD at close on 19 August) this week.

The RBIs ongoing approach towards monetary policy has been reinforced by the appointment of Dr Patel. Dr Patel chaired the committee that recommended the inflation-targeting mechanism in 2014 and also led the monetary policy department at RBI. Hence, the agency believes that the policy approach will remain unchanged in the short term.

Debt Market Momentum to Halt: The rally in the bond market since the beginning of July 2016 was led by several positives: benign global conditions, low crude oil prices and adequate domestic liquidity. The agency believes that in the absence of meaningful triggers, debt investors are likely to be in a wait and watch mode. Further cuts in the repo rate are unlikely to take place in the near future until retail inflation sustainably moderates. In the absence of any incremental positive developments and limited scope for open market operation purchases, upward bias for bond yields remains.

Rupee Bias to Stay Positive: The agency believes market perception of Dr Patel as an inflation hawk will anchor the rupees near-term movement. Additionally, global conditions are reasonably conducive to the rupees strength. Mixed signals from US policymakers over the timing of the next Fed rate hike have reined in the USDs strength. Fed Chair Janet Yellens speech at the Jackson Hole symposium on 26 August could provide insights into the Feds own assessment of the US economy. Downside risks for the rupee are likely to emerge on two counts: 1) weak foreign portfolio flows and 2) the potential resurgence of risk-off sentiment.

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Technology will power the new wave of change for the Indian Insurance Industry: CII-EY Report
Aug 22,2016

Technology will power the new wave of change for the Indian Insurance Industry, reveals the CII-EY report titled Insurer of the Future. The report recommends pursuing technology to improve the traditional insurance process and to re-configure the insurance business model. The customer is at the center of digital transformations across the value chain and Insurance in India has moved from being a sellers market to that of a digitally driven buyers market, says the report.

Technology has played an important role impacting customers, intermediaries and insurers in a holistic approach to connect with customers digitally in each stage of the value chain including product design, marketing or sales, underwriting or pricing, customer servicing and claims management. However, insurance has been slow as compared to the rest of the financial services in adopting the new technology value propositions available in the market as an enabler of business strategy:

Internet of Things (IoT) can play a crucial role in assessing and pricing the risk of loss

n++ Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that replicates human behavior and executes non-judgemental sequence of activities can help insurers to automate client servicing activities

n++ Insurers through collaboration with third party data service providers can make informed strategy and policy related decisions for insurance risk-management and fraud monitoring

n++ Insurance bundling on ecommerce platforms has enabled greater customization in product and pricing thereby targeted marketing to customers

n++ Blockchain technology is current used for Bitcoin payments. However, it has the potential to eliminate error and detect fraud by providing a decentralized digital repository to verify the veracity of customers

Commenting on the report, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII said n++The drivers of Insurance Business in India are rapidly changing. Over the last decade and a half several innovations have smoothly blended into the ecosystem of Insurance, be it in terms of products, distribution, technology or the basic way in which business is done. n++Business as Usualn++ of today is very different from what it was in the last decade and the Insurer of the Future will conduct business very differently in the decades to come. Technology and Digitization disruptions have brought the sector to a point of transformation and as the sector maneuvers itself to the changing paradigms there is a clear multiple level growth envisaged throughout the ecosystem of Insurance in India.n++

Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman, CII National Committee on Insurance & Pensions, CII said The insurance industry is at the threshold of a long period of growth. With the rapid change in technology and digitisation, the drivers of insurance business are changing. Those insurers who disrupt themselves continuously would be the ones who will succeed in the long run. All stakeholders - the industry, intermediaries, Government and regulator- need to work together in transforming customer experience.

Rohan Sachdev, Global Insurance Emerging Markets Leader and Partner, EY India says, n++The Indian insurance sector has evolved and in order to realize the full potential, the industry must focus on aspects of technology that will fundamentally change the way customers know and interact with each other and the insurers. With increasing capital infusion and the arrival of new technologies, insurers have been readily adopting digital solutions to improve customer experience. With the rising population and changing demographics, insurers and intermediaries will have to constantly innovate to remain relevant.n++

Cyber and data risks are a key concern area for businesses today. The risk is expected to increase in the future, with growth in big data and data analytics requiring even more data to be accessed. While cyber liability insurance products are available in India, providing comfort to global clients on cyber risks is one of the key challenges for technology businesses. This challenge presents a great opportunity to the reinsurance through cyber-risk insurance products that can assure stakeholders of market leading preventive measures around cyber risks.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) in insurance

As a service industry, insurance has one single tax (service tax) with one administering authority (the Central Government). Under the dual GST structure, a significant impact on this industry would be the emergence of dual stakeholders in every taxable supply of service: the Government of the State where the supply is made and the Central Government. From dealing with a central service tax for pan-India operations, insurers will potentially start dealing with 38 taxes: 35 State GSTs (SGSTs) of the states and union territories, 1 Central GST (CGST) and IGST on inter-state supplies. When the tax regime changes with GST, insurers would need to focus on the following elements as part of their customer acquisition strategy: customers resident location (location of the service receiver); location of the acquiring distribution channel, policy issuance and servicing framework.

Process-readiness and technology-readiness to take on higher compliances and transaction-level reporting will help insurers smoothly transition to the GST regime. It will be essential to ensure that all transactions are appropriately mapped and measured.

The report clearly indicates that the technological disruptions erupting in the Indian Insurance Sector will lead to a transformational change in the sector and will soon catapult it at par with the developed economies across the globe.

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First training program on Government e-Marketplace (GeM) for Government users
Aug 22,2016

The one-day hands on training program for procurement officers of Central Government Ministries/Departments was inaugurated today by Sh. Ashok Lavasa, Finance Secretary in New Delhi today. The training program has been jointly organized by DGS&D, National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD).

The training session was attended by more than 60 procurement officers from about 20 Central Government organizations based in Delhi and is the first such training program to be followed by similar pan-India training sessions for all the Central Government procurement officers.

Smt. Radha Chauhan CEO of NeGD (MeitY) in her address mentioned about the concept of GeM and how it has been developed. She emphasised the importance of training and wanted the officers attending the programme to provide valuable feedback so that the system could be further improved. She mentioned that the system is secure and robust. Sh. Binoy Kumar, DG(S&D) in his address stated that GeM is a completely online and end-to-end integrated e-procurement portal for products and services that has been developed by DGS&D with technical support from NeGD. He stated that more training sessions are planned for both Government buyers as well as sellers in the coming days.

Speaking on the occasion, Sh. Ashok Lavasa complimented DGS&D, NEGD and NIFM for organizing the training program on the use of GeM for Government users. Sh. Lavasa highlighted that the very fact that GeM has been developed within a short span of 5 months owing to the collaborative efforts of DGS&D, NeGD, Finance Ministry and several other Government agencies indicates that collaboration between Government agencies can bring great results in short time. Sh. Lavasa also stated that GeM will enable Government buyers to make use of new technologies to procure goods and services in a more transparent, accountable and efficient manner and with the same ease and efficiency that is presently offered by e-commerce sites. He wanted that such training programme should be taken seriously and more and more officers should be trained including the State Governments.

The Finance Secretary requested the GeM team to make efforts to continuously improve the GeM portal and ensure that it remains free from manipulation and any unethical practices. Sh. Lavasa also stated that although it has been made mandatory on GeM to make payment to the vendors within 10 days of receipt of goods/services, efforts should be made to further reduce this time span as time is money and ultimately the cost of delayed payment is born by the Government. GeM has a potential to grow and will bring in a lot of credibility and comfort in procurement decision making within the Government.

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Flood rescue and relief operation by NDRF
Aug 22,2016

The rescue and relief operations by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in the flood affected various districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are in full swing. 56 flood rescue teams of NDRF are operational in various flood prone areas of the different states to assist the respective state administration in rescue and relief work. NDRF rescuers are delivering their best to evacuate the trapped people to safer places. Besides NDRF teams are also providing medical care to the needy persons.

16 flood rescue teams of NDRF are deployed in Bihar in connection with flood like situation. On 21.08.16 NDRF teams evacuated 3400 persons at Didarganj, 580 persons at Bakhtiyarpur, 545 at Danapur, 380 at Chhapra, 355 at Vaishali and 15 persons at Maner Dist. Patna. Sh. S.S Guleria DIG, NDRF and other NDRF officials are also present there to supervise the flood rescue and relief operations.

11 flood rescue teams of NDRF are deployed in various flood prone areas of Uttar Pradesh. on 21 August 16, NDRF teams conducted rescue and relief operation and evacuated 275 at Ballia, 275 at Varanasi and 325 at Chitrakoot, In addition to rescue work NDRF teams also distributed relief materials and provided medical care to the needy people. Shri Randeep Kumar Rana, DIG NDRF is present in Varanasi to supervise the ongoing rescue operation.

07 flood rescue teams of NDRF are pre-positioned in M.P. The teams evacuated 147 marooned persons to safer places at District Rewa on 21 August16.

In addition 01 team of NDRF prepositioned in Sikkim in connection with monsoon season conducted rescue and relief operation at Village Tingbung and Lingdang in East Sikkim and evacuated more than 450 persons to the safer places on 21.08.16.

So far NDRF teams have evacuated more than 26,400 people in various flood prone areas of the country during this monsoon season. In addition to rescue work, NDRF teams have provided medical care to more than 9100 people in various states.

A 24x7, NDRF Control Room in Delhi is closely monitoring the situation and remains in touch with other agencies.

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Untapped Hydroelectricity Capacity Key to Meet Energy Deficit: CII-PwC report
Aug 22,2016

India has witnessed transformational change in the energy sector over the past few years, through supportive policy interventions and sector reforms, making it the fourth largest producer of electricity in the world. However, rapid economic growth has led to a surge in energy demand leading to a grappling power deficit situation in the country. Managing effective sector investment, continuing technological improvements and efficiently implementing the sector programmes will be the key to addressing the sector issues.

The success of key initiatives such as Make in India, along with growing urbanisation and social uplift of rural India will also depend on the availability of uninterrupted quality electricity supply to consumers. The governments n++Power for Alln++ programme is an ambitious plan, which depends a lot on the development of capacity expansion in power supply chain, developing coal resources and logistics and increasing technological interventions.

According to a CII-PwC report titled Round-the-Clock Power Supply: A Key Milestone for the Indian Power Sector which was launched at CII Energy Conclave 2016 in Kolkata today, availability of power will depend on two factorsn++adequate electricity generated and development of supporting infrastructure for the supply of electricity.

Mr T V Narendran, Chairman, CII Eastern Region, and Managing Director, Tata Steel, said, n++Electricity is the means to empower. Achieving 100% household electrification will not only enrich the lives of citizens, but will also help in inclusive growth by positively impacting education, awareness, health and economic development in rural and far-flung areas.n++

Mr Aniruddha Basu, Chairman, CII Energy Task Force & Managing Director, CESC, said, n++Reform is the need of the day. Several initiatives have been taken to fuel the growth of the sector in the East, including West Bengal, which is one the primary states in India to have introduced and implemented power sector reforms.n++

Mr Yogesh Daruka, Partner, Power and Utilities, PwC India said, n++Energy access and availability is a key element for socio-economic development. The Governments Power for All programme is an ambitious initiative for providing supply & uninterrupted quality power to unelectrified population by 2019. In East and Northeast India, coal and hydro-based power generation will dominate the generation mix. Inter and intra state transmission system development is also critical along with effective implementation of centrally sponsored schemes like DDUGJY and IPDS.n++

Development of Hydro power in the northeast region will be a key driver in improving Indias energy situation. With only seven per cent of the tapped potential (installed capacity and project under construction), the northeast region provides enormous opportunities to the state governments and hydro developers to harness the potential.

Development of the large hydro potential in the northeast region would contribute significantly in meeting the countrys power needs in the future. The region would also benefit from the development of associated social benefits such as roads, schools and electricity supply to remote areas, which would further improve the quality of life.

Achieving the objective of the Power for All programme will not be an easy task. But with the improved fuel availability, achieving the target capacity additions well within time, increase in sector investments, and lower tariff for renewable energy projects are encouraging trends that indicate that India can achieve this ambitious plan in the near future.

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Swachh Bharat Short Films Competition to encourage participative approach for Clean India
Aug 22,2016

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is organizing a Short Films Competition on the theme n++Swachh Bharatn++ that showcases inspiring stories and helps generate awareness among citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health. The winning entries will be announced in a special felicitation programme to be held in New Delhi on October 2, 2016. National Film Development Corporation of India has invited entries for the Short Films Competition. The last date for submission of entries is September 10, 2016.

Awareness generation is an important objective of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan to bring about behavioral change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices. The competition aims to generate such awareness by involving people from different backgrounds, different regions and from different age groups.

About the Short Films Competition

n++ The short films competition is open to all age groups with its central theme revolving around the Swachh Bharat Mission.

n++ Short films with duration of not more than 3 minutes and shot in HD Format will be considered for the competition.

n++ The film can be made in Hindi, English or any of the listed official languages of India.

n++ The Best Film will be awarded a cash prize of Rupees 10 lakhs and a certificate. Three Second Best Films will be awarded Rupees 5 lakhs each and six Third Best Films will be awarded Rupees 2 lakhs each.

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