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9.3% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in November 2016 Over the Same Period in 2015
Dec 27,2016

9.3% growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in November 2016 over the same period in 2015. USA accounts for highest share of tourist arrivals followed by UK and Bangladesh in November 2016. Rs. 14, 474/- crore Foreign Exchange earned through tourism in November 2016.

Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) on the basis of Nationality-wise, Port-wise data received from Bureau of Immigration (BOI) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism on the basis of data available from Reserve Bank of India. The following are the important highlights regarding FTAs and FEEs from tourism during the month of November, 2016.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs):

n++ FTAs during the Month of November, 2016 were 8.91 lakh as compared to FTAs of 8.16 lakh during the month of November, 2015 and 7.65 lakh in November, 2014. There has been a growth of 9.3% in November, 2016 over November, 2015.

n++ FTAs during the period January- November, 2016 were 78.53 lakh with a growth of 10.4% as compared to the FTAs of 71.14 lakh with a growth of 4.7% in January- November, 2015 over January- November, 2014.

n++ The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during November, 2016 among the top 15 source countries was highest from USA (15.53%) followed by UK (11.21%), Bangladesh (10.72%), Canada (4.66%), Russian Fed (4.53%), Australia (4.04%), Malaysia (3.65%), Germany (3.53%), China (3.14%), France (2.88%), Sri Lanka (2.49%), Japan (2.49%), Singapore (2.16%), Nepal (1.46%) and Thailand (1.37%).

n++ The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during November 2016 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (32.71%) followed by Mumbai Airport (18.51%), Chennai Airport (6.83%), Bengaluru Airport (5.89%), Haridaspur Land check post (5.87%), Goa Airport (5.63%), Kolkata Airport (3.90%), Cochin Airport (3.29%), Hyderabad Airport (3.14%), Ahmadabad Airport (2.76%), Trivandrum Airport (1.54%), Trichy Airport (1.53%), Gede Rail (1.16%), Amritsar Airport (1.15%), and Ghojadanga land check post (0.82%) .

Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from Tourism in India in Rs. terms and in US$ terms

n++ FEEs during the month of November, 2016 were Rs. 14,474 crore as compared to Rs. 12,649 crore in November, 2015 and Rs. 11,431 crore in November, 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms during November, 2016 over November, 2015 was 14.4% as compared to the growth of 10.7% in November, 2015 over November, 2014.

n++ FEEs from tourism in rupee terms during January- November, 2016 were Rs. 1,38,845 crore with a growth of 14.7% as compared to the FEE of Rs. 1,21,041 crore with a growth of 9.7% during January- November, 2015 over January- November, 2014.

n++ FEEs in US$ terms during the month of November, 2016 were US$ 2.141 billion as compared to FEEs of US$ 1.912 billion during the month of November, 2015 and US$ 1.853 billion in November, 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in US$ terms in November, 2016 over November, 2015 was 12.0% compared to the negative growth of 3.2% in November, 2015 over November, 2014.

n++ FEE from tourism in US$ terms during January- November, 2016 were US$ 20.671 billion with a growth of 9.1% as compared to the US$ 18.945 billion with a growth 4.3% during January- November, 2015 over January- November, 2014.

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Seventy Per Cent of Tribal Affairs Budget Already Utilized Special Attention on the Proper Implementation of Forest Rights Act
Dec 27,2016

Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Shri Jual Oram has said that 70% of his Ministrys budget for the year 2016-17 has already been released. The Minister said his Ministry has paid special attention to proper implementation of Forest Rights Act. He said as per information received from State Governments till October 2016, about 16.78 lakh individual (Forest Rights) titles have been granted over an area of 55.43 lakh acres of forest land. Further, 48,192 community (Forest Rights) titles have been distributed over an area of about 47 lakh acres of forest land.

Referring to the revision of list of scheduled tribes the Minister informed that recently Irular (including Villi and Vettaikaran) has been included in the ST list in Puducherry. He further said that to modify the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs) in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Tripura, a bill namely the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment), Bill 2016 has been introduced in Lok Sabha during the recent winter session of Parliament.

Shri Oram said his Ministry is collaborating with Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to build a framework suited to the need and requirement of tribal people. It is planned for setting up one Multi-Skilling Institute in each of 163 priority (tribal concentrated) districts. Infrastructure funding will be shared by Ministry of Tribal Affairs and State Govt. (50:50). Recurring cost component will be funded by MSDE, under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). Details of the collaboration are being worked out.

The Union Tribal Affairs Minister referred to the setting up of National Resource Centre on Tribal Livelihood (Vanjeevan) at Bhubaneswar on 22nd of this month. He said Vanjeevan will serve as an apex central institution within Ministry of Tribal Affairs to act as research and technical hub to further socio-economic development of tribal communities through comprehensive interaction of the 3Es-employment, employability and entrepreneurship. The resource center would cater to the development and promotion of sustainable livelihood avenues in the tribal areas through entrepreneurship and skill up-gradation. Vanjeevan will also forge linkages and build upon the skill building efforts of the other Central Ministries/Departments such as Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises etc.

Referring to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to Minor Forest Produce (MFP) Shri Oram said that last month the coverage of area of the scheme has been extended beyond Schedule V States and now the scheme is applicable in all States. He said in addition to the existing 12 MFPs another 14 items have been included in the scheme. States have also been given freedom for fixing MSP 10% above or below the MSP rate decided by Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

About sickle cell anemia Shri Oram said his Ministry has taken initiative to arrest its spread so that sickle cell carriers (patients) can be cared for, and future generations can be saved from this scourge. A protocol for Sickle Cell Management was issued in March 2015 with the objective to control the spread of the disease. In this regard, workshops were conducted in States in collaboration with Department of Biotechnology for mapping of incidence of Sickle Cell Trait and disease among tribal people all over the country through State Governments. About 1.1 crore children and youth have been screened so far. A revised protocol has been issued to the States in November 2016 after consultation with Department of Health Research. As per this, apart from screening of children and youth, screening of pregnant women is also to be done, and in case one individual is identified in the family, then family members will also be screened. The programme also provides for counseling of sickle cell carriers, and management of patients with sickle cell disease, the Minister added.

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Seventy per cent of Tribal Affairs Budget already utilized
Dec 27,2016

Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Shri Jual Oram has said that 70% of his Ministrys budget for the year 2016-17 has already been released. Addressing a press conference about the achievements of his Ministry during the year 2016 in New Delhi today, the Minister said his Ministry has paid special attention to proper implementation of Forest Rights Act. He said as per information received from State Governments till October 2016, about 16.78 lakh individual (Forest Rights) titles have been granted over an area of 55.43 lakh acres of forest land. Further, 48,192 community (Forest Rights) titles have been distributed over an area of about 47 lakh acres of forest land.

Referring to the revision of list of scheduled tribes the Minister informed that recently Irular (including Villi and Vettaikaran) has been included in the ST list in Puducherry. He further said that to modify the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs) in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Tripura, a bill namely the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment), Bill 2016 has been introduced in Lok Sabha during the recent winter session of Parliament.

Shri Oram said his Ministry is collaborating with Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to build a framework suited to the need and requirement of tribal people. It is planned for setting up one Multi-Skilling Institute in each of 163 priority (tribal concentrated) districts. Infrastructure funding will be shared by Ministry of Tribal Affairs and State Govt. (50:50). Recurring cost component will be funded by MSDE, under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). Details of the collaboration are being worked out.

The Union Tribal Affairs Minister referred to the setting up of National Resource Centre on Tribal Livelihood (Vanjeevan) at Bhuvneshar on 22nd of this month. He said Vanjeevan will serve as an apex central institution within Ministry of Tribal Affairs to act as research and technical hub to further socio-economic development of tribal communities through comprehensive interaction of the 3Es-employment, employability and entrepreneurship. The resource center would cater to the development and promotion of sustainable livelihood avenues in the tribal areas through entrepreneurship and skill up-gradation. Vanjeevan will also forge linkages and build upon the skill building efforts of the other Central Ministries/Departments such as Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises etc.

Referring to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to Minor Forest Produce (MFP) Shri Oram said that last month the coverage of area of the scheme has been extended beyond Schedule V States and now the scheme is applicable in all States. He said in addition to the existing 12 MFPs another 14 items have been included in the scheme. States have also been given freedom for fixing MSP 10% above or below the MSP rate decided by Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

About sickle cell anemia Shri Oram said his Ministry has taken initiative to arrest its spread so that sickle cell carriers (patients) can be cared for, and future generations can be saved from this scourge. A protocol for Sickle Cell Management was issued in March 2015 with the objective to control the spread of the disease. In this regard, workshops were conducted in States in collaboration with Department of Biotechnology for mapping of incidence of Sickle Cell Trait and disease among tribal people all over the country through State Governments. About 1.1 crore children and youth have been screened so far. A revised protocol has been issued to the States in November 2016 after consultation with Department of Health Research. As per this, apart from screening of children and youth, screening of pregnant women is also to be done, and in case one individual is identified in the family, then family members will also be screened. The programme also provides for counseling of sickle cell carriers, and management of patients with sickle cell disease, the Minister added.

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Link Financial Data for Determining Creditworthiness: CII
Dec 27,2016

Demonetization has created an enormous opportunity to channelize public savings into productive assets. Linking financial data and consolidating existing data for SMEs and corporates can provide banks with the necessary information to assess creditworthiness of borrowers, said the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). This can also enable banks to devise a tailored interest rate policy by differentiating borrowers.

n++A digital infrastructure providing comprehensive data to financial institutions would help smoothen access to credit from the borrowers angle and assessment of credit worthiness from the lenders side. It would supply identification, financial information, credit information and other information related to governance of a company,n++ said Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII. n++The data is present in the system, though the ownership is with different Government bodies. It is possible to thread these data accesses together for a well-connected digital infrastructure that can enable banks to lend to credible borrowers. Naturally, this is also a mechanism to avoid creation of NPAs at a later date.n++

CII has suggested that abundant data on SMEs and corporates through various sources can be made available to the Banks and other lending institutions. The banks will benefit from authentic financial and other data to accurately identify the right customers. Customers will gain from hurdle-less access to credit. The banks may choose to offer loans at varied interest rates depending on the strength of the data of the customer, said CII.

The data for establishing identification of the borrowing entity can be procured through PAN, TIN/CIN/ GSTIN (post launch of GST), Articles of Association (AoA), and Memorandum of Association (MoA). Financial information required by the banks to assess the liquidity condition of the entity can be available from sources like annual returns which are available with Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) as scanned documents, Form 26 AS with Income Tax authorities, and Provident Fund data with Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

Property Tax, Utility Bills, Securities data etc. can also be included in the comprehensive digital database. Credit information is available with Central Repository of Information on Large Credit (CRILC). Other information like shareholding pattern, list of directors etc. is available with MCA. All the data which exists in independent silos needs consolidation to provide the requisite information to the lending entity.

There have been multiple efforts to collate data in India in the past. The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) recently promulgated orders for creation of an MSME databank through self-reported forms. The Udyog Aadhar will generate a single business identification code for classifying companies by industry and activity.

CII proposes a 3-step process to make the data available within the larger ecosystem of digital infrastructure.

To start with, the data needs to be made available digitally by strengthening the existing digital data sources as required by expanding CRILC coverage to include Mutual Funds (MF), Financial Institutions (FIs), and External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs). Providing digital data instead of scanned documents (e.g., AoA, MoA etc) as also investing in making existing data digitally available by providing existing data (e.g., income tax, CENVAT, PF, property tax) directly to banks. It would help to, ab initio, architect new sources of information to provide digital access to information like information utility (under bankruptcy law), registry of securities (SARFAESI), GSTN and to use Account Aggregation guidelines as core of consortium / multiple banking.

The second step is to design the architecture for data sharing by reaching an agreement on mode of data sharing (e.g., Application Programme Interface (API) integration of each institution directly with banks or a central integrating agency to co-ordinate and share consolidated information). Developing standard architecture for data sharing (e.g., API definitions, encryption protocols) and creation of standardized authentication and consent mechanisms is also required.

The final step would be to build supporting infrastructure through APIs, build supporting consent and authentication architecture and cyber security architecture to ensure data security.

A robust credit data infrastructure will allow banks to better analyse the financial data by way of triangulation of information and also provide greater industry insights. While for larger corporates this would enhance banks ability to access credit worthiness, it would also lower costs and potentially ease the flow of credit to MSME segmentn++ said Ms. Shikha Sharma, Chairperson, CII National Committee on Banking and Managing Director & CEO, Axis Bank

Digital data can help significantly enhance access to credit for SMEs and to monitor corporate credit performance. For instance, a kirana shop owner wants to apply for a loan. She approaches the bank website and authenticates herself using Aadhar and also provides PAN for business verification. She also provides consent to the bank to get access to Financial Statements, Income tax filing & GST filing, Bank statements and credit history. The Bank obtains data digitally from concerned authorities through API calls, makes an analysis and offers a loan on interest rates as determined by the data.

n++Creating suitable and comprehensive digital data infrastructure will provide banks the ability to identify fraud/ data manipulation and stress early while help corporates get access to cheaper creditn++ said Mr. Arun Tiwari, Co-Chair, CII National Committee on Banking and Chairman & Managing Director, Union Bank of India

Such a system is used in some other countries and can greatly facilitate financial institutions to avoid undue risk in disbursing loans in the wake of demonetization, said CII.

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Noida-Greater Noida Metro gets Rs.406 cr boost from NCR Planning Board
Dec 27,2016

National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) has begun to release funds for the Noida-Greater Noida Metro Project by disbursing the first loan installment of Rs. 406 cr, giving a fillip to speedy execution of this important metro project.

NCRPB had earlier sanctioned a loan of Rs. 1,587 cr to Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) for the 29.70 km Noida-Greater Noida Metro Project that is estimated to cost Rs. 5,533 cr. This 20 year loan, including a moratorium of five years for repayment of loan carries an interest rate of 7% per year and an incentive of 0.25% for timely repayment of installments. The targeted date of completion of this section is April 2018.

Announcing the disbursement of the first installment of loan, Shri B.K.Tripathy, Member-Secretary, NCRPB said; n++Noida-Greater Noida metro link is important for enabling a seamless travel in National Capital Region, which the Board is committed to promote. Further release of funds to this important section depends on physical and financial progress of the section. NCR Regional Plan-2021 emphasised the need for strengthening connectivity between NCR towns. Metro is emerging as the most efficient, fast, smooth and eco-friendly mode of public transport in the core of NCR.n++

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Noida-Greater Noida Metro gets Rs 406 crore boost from NCR Planning Board
Dec 27,2016

National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) has begun to release funds for the Noida-Greater Noida Metro Project by disbursing the first loan installment of Rs 406 crore, giving a fillip to speedy execution of this important metro project.NCRPB had earlier sanctioned a loan of Rs 1587 crore to Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) for the 29.70 km Noida-Greater Noida Metro Project that is estimated to cost Rs 5533 crore. This 20 year loan, including a moratorium of five years for repayment of loan carries an interest rate of 7% per year and an incentive of 0.25% for timely repayment of installments. The targeted date of completion of this section is April 2018.

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CPWD to help Bhutan in green and sustainable construction
Dec 27,2016

Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the construction major under the Ministry of Urban Development will assist Bhutan in green and sustainable construction of infrastructure. A Memorandum of Understanding in this regard was signed between CPWD and Department of Engineering Services, Ministry of Works and Human Settlements, Royal Government of Bhutan in Thimpu.

Shri Abhay Sinha, Director General of CPWD signed the Memorandum of Understanding.

Under the MoU for bilateral technical cooperation in infrastructure engineering, CPWD will assist in promoting sustainability in the built environment, capacity building through training of Bhutanese manpower, benchmarking in building and road sectors besides deputing engineering experts to Bhutan.

The signing of MoU took place in the presence of Ms.ZhabtogLyonpoDorjiChoden, Minister of Works and Human Settlements of Bhutan.

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The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) established
Dec 27,2016

Following are the major Policy Initiatives and Achievements of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India during the Year-2016:

1. To review the Companies Act, 2013 based on implementation experience in line with changing economic environment and initiatives for addressing all concerns with reference to Companies Act, 2013 and Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016;

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 16th March, 2016 proposing to amend Companies Act, 2013[CA-13]. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and the Committee, after examination, presented its report to both Houses of the Parliament on 7th December, 2016. The Bill is likely to be considered and passed by both the Houses of Parliament with or without modifications including through official amendments, if any.

2. Notifications of remaining Sections of the Companies Act, 2013

As on 15th December, 2016 out of 470 sections, 422 sections of the Companies Act, 2013 have been notified. 39 sections are omitted by Insolvency Banking Code (IBC). Remaining 9 sections would be notified shortly.

3. On the request of Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT CITY), Gandhinagar, where the countrys First International Finance Service Centre (IFSC) has been set-up, draft notifications have been laid in the Parliament during Monsoon Session 2016, proposing exceptions from, and modifications and adaptations of various provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 for companies licensed to operate by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) or Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) or Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA). This will apply to all other IFSC located in an approved multi services special economic zone set-up under Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, which may be set up subsequently.

4. Stabilization of the Cost Records and Audit Rules:

The Companies (Cost Records and Audit) Rules, 2014 reviewed so as to make necessary amendments for further improvement and to obviate ambiguities or technical errors, keeping in view the practical difficulties experienced over a period of time and after considering various queries/ representation from the stakeholders. Necessary amendments were notified vide notification dated 14-07-2016.

5. Improvement in compliance level:

n++ Filing of Cost Audit Report: For the Financial Year 2014-15, the compliance level till the prescribed time i.e. October 2015 was 48 per cent. By sustained efforts, the compliance level stood improved to 88 per cent by July 2016.

n++ Appointment of Cost Auditor: For the period 2015-16, the compliance level with respect to the companies required to approve Cost Auditor also improved by 10 per cent.

6. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code):

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code) was published in the Official Gazette on 28th May, 2016 and Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 were amended and notified on 1st Aug, 2016 wherein the Ministry of Corporate Affairs was entrusted with the responsibility to administer the Code.

7. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) was established vide gazette notification dated 01.10.2016.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) was established under the Code and Chairperson of the Board was appointed vide gazette notification dated 01.10.2016. Four ex-officio members of the Board were also appointed vide Order dated 1.10.2016 and selection of whole-time members of the Board is under process.

8. Framing of Rules and Regulations and notification of sections under the Code

MCA was assigned with timeline of 1st December, 2016 to put in place Corporate Insolvency Resolution process as stated under the Code. To achieve the target, following three pillars as envisaged under the Code have been put in place by framing various rules and regulations and notifying relevant sections of the Code:-

(i) Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India [IBBI]

(ii) Insolvency Professional Agencies & Insolvency Professionals

(iii) Adjudicating Authority

Ministry has also successfully operationalized the Code within given timeframe which is likely to improve Indias rank in terms of Ease of Doing Business. It will also have desired effect on Start-Up India plan as envisaged by the Government.

9. National Company Law Tribunal and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal

Chapter - XXVII of Companies Act, 2013 deals with formation of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCALT). The constitution of NCLT and NCALT have been notified on 01st June, 2016. Vide Notification dated 30th November, 2016, the Central Government has designated the Benches of NCLT to exercise the jurisdiction, power and authority of Adjudicating Authority conferred by or under part II of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

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Ind-Ra: Markets to Stay Range Bound
Dec 27,2016

Market activity will stay muted and range bound in the coming week and in absence of any major data releases, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The 10-year G-sec yield could trade at 6.46%-6.57% (6.51% at close on 23 November 2016) in the current week. The rupee is likely to trade at 67.6/USD-68.1/USD (67.85/USD at close on 23 November 2016).

Bond Market to Consolidate in Near-term: Following the US Fed rate hike and the Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) hawkish rhetoric, bond yields surged with the benchmark 10-year hovering around the 6.5% mark. Market is likely to pivot around the existing levels in the near term, with the overall bias towards yields inching higher. An uptick in global yields or a potential surge in crude oil price will keep the domestic debt markets tone cautious.

Rupee to Remain Anchored: Despite the sharp weakness in peers and heavy portfolio outflows in debt and equity markets, the rupee has clawed back and recouped part of the losses following the US election outcome. The rupee strengthened 1.5% from its all-time lows in one month period. Ahead of year end, the rupee is likely to stay anchored at the current levels.

Interbank Liquidity Surplus Continues: The RBI continues to sterilise additional liquidity in the system - through a mix of both reverse repo window and issuance of cash management bills under the market stabilisation scheme. The bills have enabled the RBI to absorb liquidity worth INR4.6 trillion on 16 December 2016. With the official deadline of deposits approaching (31 December 2016), Ind-Ra believes the consequent influx of deposits will keep the system in the surplus mode.

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About 950 million Indians are out of reach Internet: ASSOCHAM-Deloitte study
Dec 27,2016

Mobile data plans in India are among the cheapest in the world and the average retail price of smartphones are steadily declining, yet the Internet is out of the reach of nearly 950 million Indians, according to ASSOCHAM-Deloitte joint study.

Internet penetration is increasing in India, the access to affordable broadband, smart devices and monthly data packages is required to spread digital literacy to make their ends meet, noted the study titled Strategic national measures to combat cybercrime, jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and research firm Deloitte.

Existing government infrastructure assets should be further leveraged for provision of digital services at remote locations. Digital literacy needs to be increased by providing institutional trainings in schools, colleges and universities; accelerating partnerships with global technology leaders and using the workforce trained under Skill India to impart trainings. An integrated approach between Digital India and Skill India needs to be constructed to design programmes and impart training.

The government should increase awareness regarding the value add of technology to increase technology adoption. The benefits of technology such as increase in the standard of living of the weaker sections of society and enhancing financial inclusion should be communicated to citizens.

Private sector players should be incentivized to develop infrastructure, provide services and promote digital literacy as part of the Digital India program. Start-ups should be involved to create and customize apps to local needs to increase adoption of digital technology, adds the joint study.

India has over 1,600 languages and various dialects. This diversity has resulted in strong language barriers. In areas where people only use local languages, integration of local language and technology is required to drive digital literacy.

Fear of cybercrime and breach of privacy has been a deterrent in adoption of digital technologies in India. In order to encourage people to switch to digital means, it is important to provide awareness and education on cyber security, risks and safeguarding of information on the internet.

Mobile platforms and internet enabled programs should be used to improve the accessibility of training programmes. Credibility and recognition of certifications provided by various initiatives is key to successful development of digital literacy. Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) associated with sub-sectors should get industry inputs on curriculum, trainings and services. Further, industry players should be compelled to recognize the credibility of certificates issued, noted the study.

The various stakeholders (different government programs, ministries, institutions, industries etc.) involved in imparting digital literacy need to work in coordination to obtain the most effective implementation. This will require transparency of information, workflow management and timely updates on the progress of various factions.

A framework needs to be defined for participation of the private sector in skill development programs which defines the role of the private sector, expectations in terms of investments, content and job guarantees.

Skill training and digital literacy should be introduced as part of institutional trainings in schools, colleges and universities across India. Curriculum and interactive programmes should be mandated to ensure adequate digital skills of all graduates. Skill building for Digital India Building skills required to achieve the Digital India vision.

India faces a severe shortage of well trained and skilled workers. It is estimated that only 2.3% of the workforce in India has undergone formal skill training versus over 50% in the developed countries. This shortage is accentuated in the electronic and digital sectors. However, to achieve inclusive growth, skilled and well-trained manpower is critical. Several strides have been made towards developing the right skills required to support Digital India and e-governance initiatives.

The top barriers to adoption of technologies in the economically weaker sections of society as well as in MSMEs include cost and affordability. Most telecom operators so far have not invested significantly in development of high speed access networks in rural areas. Similarly, MSMEs also have low awareness of government and stakeholder schemes that could lead to numerous benefits.

A key hindrance to adoption of technology is the low rate of digital literacy in India. Several initiatives undertaken by the government and other organisations are expected to improve the digital literacy rate in the coming years which will in turn result in an increase in adoption of technology and digital services.

While there has been an increase in localized content and applications, content still remains limited in several local and regional languages. Most applications that exist have been driven by the government. Private sector involvement remains limited to proof of concepts (PoCs) in limited test environments.

The speed at which digital infrastructure (especially fiber networks) is being developed needs to be increased. Existing government infrastructure assets (e.g., post offices, government buildings, CSCs) should be further leveraged for provision of digital services at remote locations.

Digital literacy needs to be increased by providing institutional trainings in schools, colleges and universities; accelerating partnerships with global technology leaders and using the workforce trained under Skill India to impart trainings. An integrated approach between Digital India and Skill India needs to be constructed to design programmes and impart training.

The government should increase awareness regarding the value add of technology to increase technology adoption. The benefits of technology such as increase in the standard of living of the weaker sections of society and enhancing financial inclusion should be communicated to citizens.

Private sector players should be incentivized to develop infrastructure, provide services and promote digital literacy as part of the Digital India program. Start-ups should be involved to create and customize apps to local needs to increase adoption of digital technology.

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Coordination between the Central & State administration is important for smooth transition of GST regime so that taxpayer of country does not suffer
Dec 27,2016

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that there is an urgent need for change in mindset and India has to move towards a mindset of voluntary compliance. He said that the payment of legitimate taxes should be considered as part of the process and nobody should think that tax evasion is acceptable. The Finance Minister further said that the payment of due tax is a responsibility of every citizen. Addressing the young IRS Officers, the Finance Minister inspired them to be hardworking and efficient while ensuring integrity and credibility in their careers. The Finance Minister expressed his faith in the probationers to be able to carry-out the onerous task of smooth rolling-out and administering the new indirect tax administration system i.e. Goods and Services Tax (GST). Shri Jaitley impressed upon the gathering the importance of coordination between the Central and the State administrations in smooth transition from the old to the new Indirect Tax regime so that the taxpayer of the country does not suffer. The Finance Minister also reminded the officers that the economy of the country is undergoing major changes and that shall continue to challenge them to be capable officers at every stage of their career. The Finance Minster stressed on the Culture of Correctness and Fairness that every officer should follow in their work as Revenue Officers. He also wished NACEN well in the construction of the new Training Campus and Academy in Palasamudram, Hindupur, Andhra Pradesh. He concluded his address by motivating the officer trainees to train well and become officers who can lead this country into economic glory.

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Gartner Says by 2019, 20 Percent of User Interactions With Smartphones Will Take Place via VPAs
Dec 26,2016

Advances in various technologies will drive users to interact with their smartphones in more intuitive ways, said Gartner, Inc. Gartner predicts that, by 2019, 20 percent of all user interactions with the smartphone will take place via virtual personal assistants (VPAs).

The role of interactions will intensify through the growing popularity of VPAs among smartphone users and conversations made with smart machines, said Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner.

Gartners annual mobile apps survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2016 among 3,021 consumers across three countries (U.S., U.K. and China) found that 42 percent of respondents in the U.S. and 32 percent in the U.K. used VPAs on their smartphones in the last three months. More than 37 percent of respondents (average across U.S. and U.K.) used a VPA at least one or more times a day.

Apples Siri and Google Now are currently the most widely used VPAs on smartphones. Fifty-four percent of U.K. and U.S. respondents used Siri in the last three months. Google Now is used by 41 percent of U.K. respondents and 48 percent of U.S. respondents. VPAs usage is bound to accelerate as they add many new features, including integration for business services, further language support and appear across more devices, said Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner.

Gartner expects that, by 2019, VPAs will have changed the way users interact with devices and become universally accepted as part of everyday life. Today, VPAs are fulfilling simple tasks such as setting the alarm or retrieving information from the web, but in the near future these systems will be able to deliver more complex tasks such as completing a transaction based on past, present and predicted context.

This trend is also intensified by the acceleration of conversational commerce, but voice is not the only UI for VPA use. In fact, Facebook Messenger is allowing users to interact with businesses to make purchases, chat with customer services and order Uber cars within the app. Moreover, Tencents WeChat generates over $1.1 billion in revenue by offering its 440 million users an all-in-one approach, letting them pay their bills, hail cabs and order products with a text.

China represents the most mature market by far, where the increased dominance of messaging platforms is causing the traditional app market to stall. This trend is continuing to grow, not only among consumers but also among businesses or in the prosumer context. For example, Microsofts integration of Cortana into Skype will allow users to chat with their VPA. Cortana will then facilitate the interaction with a third-party bot to get things done, such as a hotel or flight booking.

We expect AI, machine learning and VPAs to be one of the major strategic battlegrounds from 2017 onwards, and make many mobile apps fade and become subservants of VPAs, said Ms. Zimmermann.

Voice and Gesture Become Increasingly Important Interfaces

With a predicted installed base of about 7 billion personal devices, 1.3 billion wearables and 5.7 billion other consumer Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints by 2020, the majority of devices will be designed to function with minimal or zero touch.

By 2020, Gartner predicts that zero-touch UIs will be available on 2 billion devices and IoT endpoints. Interactions will move away from touchscreens and will increasingly make use of voice, ambient technology, biometrics, movement and gestures, said Ms. Zimmermann. In this situation, apps using contextual information will become a crucial factor in user acceptance, as a voice-driven systems usability increases dramatically according to how much it knows about the users surrounding environment. This is where device vendors assets or partnerships in VPAs, natural language processing (NLP) and deep machine learning experts will matter.

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Dharmendra Pradhan directs Oil Marketing Companies to take all possible remedial measures to ease out the situation in Manipur
Dec 26,2016

In view of the economic blockade imposed by United Naga Council (UNC) on vehicles going to Manipur from 1 November 2016, supplies of POL products have been severely constrained. MOS (I/C), Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan today reviewed the stock position in the State of Manipur. He directed the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to take all possible remedial measures to ease out the situation.

Currently, the OMCs are moving supplies under heavy security protection via alternate route NH-35 (via Jiribum) after shifting supply base to Guwahati, from normal base at Tinsukia. So far, the OMCs have moved 8 (eight) convoys to Manipur which consisted of 975 TTs. Last convoy, which entered Manipur via Jiribum border on 25th December early morning, is now reaching Imphal. The OMCs and the Ministry are in constant touch with the State Government. The convoy movement is being done as per advice of State Government. Loaded TTs for the next convoy have already been lined up at Jiribum (Assam - Manipur border).

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Institution Mechanism necessary to Protect IPRs : PHD Chamber
Dec 26,2016

National Conference on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) held here under aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry has recommended to the government that institutional mechanism is called for protection of IPRs in the absence of which remains the scope of piracy that goes on unabated.

In addition, the Conference also suggested that focus needs to be intensified for monetization of intellectual properties discovered and invented in universities and research institutions with their thick partnership with industry and industrial associations in the shape of final products with key element of innovation in it.

It was highlighted during the conference that a vast majority of academic institutions and universities do not have IPR Cell for patenting the innovations and therefore, such cells are need of hour to protect and patent the properties for their commercial launch and gains.

In his observations, Mr. Gupta emphasized that intellectual properties created by academia are pirated by vested interest and sold off less than half a price of theirs which leads to discouragement and disappointments.

Therefore, in the National IPR Policy should have regulations bend in favour of those that discover and create intellectual properties with their innovative spirits.

Dr. Chaturvedi in her presentation endorsed what Mr. Gupta advised further emphasizing closer academic and industry partnership for proper commercialization and monetization of intellectual properties.

Mr. Renaud Gaillard also stressed that the innovation happening in India and within its academics and research institutions should also be promoted with a collaborative approach between India and France.

Prof. Prabuddha Ganguli, IPR Chair, Tezpur University stressed on the role of sensitizing students in the IRP ecosystem. The pace of technology is changing the landscape of IPR in a vibrant manner, so academia and industry should create institutional linkages for the progression of IPR in India.

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SBI index crashes to all time low in December 2016
Dec 26,2016

The yearly SBI Composite Index for December 2016 crashed to all time low of 45.5 (Moderate Decline), compared to last months revised index of 50 (Low Growth). Meanwhile, the Monthly Index increased to 49.4 (Low Decline) in December 2016 from 48.3 (Low Decline) in November 2016. As per the Index, the IIP growth may continue to remain in the negative territory in December 2016.

The SBI Composite Index, a leading indicator for manufacturing activity in Indian Economy aims to foresee the periods of contraction and expansion. The Composite Index has mainly two indices namely SBI Monthly Composite Index and SBI Yearly Composite Index. A consistent negative (positive) month on month forecast in the index will lead to negative (positive) growth rate in year on year index after a while.

The impact of demonetization on different sectors of industries is largely negative in the short term. Though as the situation improves, it will help them to grow smartly in the long run. Retail sales during the month of November 2016 were down in the range of 20-40% due to currency crunch and negative sentiments on account of uncertainty post Governments monetary initiative. Even the festive season shifted early by almost a month this time, which also resulted in lower sales during November due to post-festive sluggishness.

Overall, the SBI research department feel that the effect of demonetisation is more of short term nature, say a quarter or two in most of the sectors, except real estate, jewellery, luxury goods etc., and will normalize thereafter.

Due to weak credit off-take and huge money inflows, SBI research expect a faster rate of MCLR transmission by banks in the coming days as inflation trajectory is expected to remain benign with CPI inflation at sub-4% for coming months till January 2017. Though inflation may increase thereafter (post January 2017), it may not be more than 4.5% by March 2017.

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