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India-Germany trade to touch USD 25 billion by 2018: PHD Chamber
Oct 18,2016

India and Germany are bound by tremendous business opportunities and close economic links based on the fundamentals of understanding and support, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in a press statement issued here today.

Based on strong complementarily and growth prospects going forward the trade between two nations is expected to touch USD 25 billion by 2018. Currently, India-Germany trade is valued at USD 18.9 billion.

Among various products, Indias thrust products in Germany included organic chemicals (9.57%), non-knitted apparels (8.46%), nuclear reactors and boilers (8.37%), knitted articles (8.16%), electrical equipments (5.76%) of total exports.

Germanys thrust products in India included nuclear reactors and boilers (29.91%), electrical equipments (10.68%), optical, measuring, photographic, medical or surgical equipments (8.14%), vehicles (7.44%), organic chemicals (5.49%) of total exports.

Dr. Mahesh Gupta also added that Indian exports into Germany were mainly focused on Consumer Goods, viz. nearly 54% of the total exports. On the other hand, nearly 61% of the total imports from Germany were focused on Capital Goods.

This clearly describes the characteristics of Germany being heavily endowed with capital-intensive goods is exporting India. On the other hand, India a relatively more labour-intensive nation is exporting more consumer goods to Germany, he said.

It was also highlighted by Dr. Mahesh Gupta that Indias export pattern has become more and more aligned with the import pattern of Germany over time. Both nations witnessed a favourable complementarity scenario.

Also, the basket of exportable products from India remained opulently diversified over the years, thereby rendering Indian exporters relatively less susceptible to volatility in a turbulent trade scenario.

Also, both nation registered satisfactory intra-industry trade numbers with substantial contribution in each others value chain, which is expected to grow further in the coming times, further added Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

Dr. Mahesh Gupta presumes that with further liberalization of FDI policy in different segments and the advent of GST next year, FDI from Germany is expected to touch a new growth trajectory.

Going ahead, it is essential for both the parts to become proactive and adopt deem policies to rejuvenate the falling trend in trade. Both nations should continuously meet and engage in discussions related to mitigating bilateral trade issues, defence ties, renewable energy, skill development and other vital areas.

As India is moving ahead as the front runner in growth of its economy, it needs extrinsic support from all the countries and Germany is one such nation which can truly transform into a sustainable partner for trade and economic growth.

Indias inordinate and skilled human capital highly aligns with the technological capabilities of Germany whereas German companies are competent in rendering infrastructural necessities to India, especially in logistics and construction sectors, added Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

Going ahead, growth prospects for trade and development between two countries are very promising and sustainable, not only for the coming years but for the coming decades, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

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Moodys: APAC telecommunications sector sees slowing but healthy revenue and EBITDA growth; outlook stable
Oct 18,2016

Moodys Investors Service says that slowing but still healthy revenue and EBITDA growth drive its stable outlook for the Asia Pacific telecommunications sector over the next 12-18 months.

Organic revenue growth will be broadly in line with our forecast average GDP growth for the region, but lower than the 5.2% growth recorded in 2015, owing to increasing mobile penetration rates and ongoing competition, says Annalisa Di Chiara, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Credit Officer.

Aggregate EBITDA will grow, albeit slightly, as it did in 2015, but the portfolios average EBITDA margin will contract slightly amid intensifying competition, higher costs for providing data services and investments in margin-dilutive digital businesses, adds Di Chiara.

Moodys conclusions are contained in its recently-released report Telecommunications -- Asia Pacific: Slowing but Still Healthy Revenue and EBITDA Growth Drive Stable Outlook.

Revenue growth, EBITDA generation and margins, and capex intensity are the three factors driving the outlook for the regions telecommunications industry.

Moodys expects year-on-year average revenue growth of 3%-4% over the next 12-18 months, EBITDA growth of 0%-2%, and capex as a percentage of revenue to remain in the 23%-24% range.

EBITDA margins, however, will on average contract slightly to around 39% by year-end 2017 from around 40% at year-end 2015.

Although capex will increase slightly in 2017 as operators continue to build out their 4G networks to handle larger volumes of data traffic, revenue growth will keep the capex-to-revenue ratio stable.

Average debt to EBITDA will also rise slightly in 2016 on incremental debt used for acquisitions, capex and shareholder returns, but will return to 2015 levels next year in 2017 as incremental EBITDA from acquired businesses will help offset the debt raised by these companies.

Liquidity remains a key credit strength for the sector, says Moodys, given the resilience of demand, which provides steady, recurring cash flows. The sector also has demonstrated strong access to the capital markets.

The rated portfolios cash and projected cash flow from operations can cover all their cash demands, including capex, dividends and scheduled debt maturities, over the next 12 months.

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Moodys: Indias draft bill on resolution of financial firms is credit positive for banks
Oct 18,2016

Moodys Investors Service says that the draft bill on the resolution of financial firms in India (Baa3 positive) is a credit positive for banks in the country, because it is an important step to having a comprehensive framework in place for the resolution of financial firms.

Currently, the resolution of financial firms in India is based on minor parts of legislation enacted for other purposes, says Srikanth Vadlamani, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Credit Officer. This bill is therefore a credit positive for Indian banks in terms of enhancing overall systemic stability.

At the same time, we note that the draft bill will have to go through multiple steps before becoming law, and could therefore be subject to changes and delays, adds Vadlamani.

Moodys report says that based on the draft bill, bail-ins do not seem to be the preferred form of resolution, with significant restrictions in place for their usage. These restrictions include contractual bail-in clauses for instruments that may be bailed in and requirements that bail-ins should be used only after attempts at recovery have been made.

Consequently, Moodys expects that the Indian banking system will continue to function without an operational resolution regime, and banks should continue to be rated under a basic loss given failure framework.

Moodys also says that the bill ranks depositors above senior unsecured creditors in a liquidation scenario. In contrast, under existing laws, senior unsecured creditors rank pari passu with uninsured depositors. This change is therefore a credit negative for senior unsecured creditors.

At the same time, Moodys notes that such depositor preference is enshrined into law in other jurisdictions in the region, including Singapore (Aaa stable), Malaysia (A3 stable) and Indonesia (Baa3 stable). In those systems, senior debt ratings are on par with deposit ratings, except where they are impacted by different country ceilings. Moodys expects a similar outcome for Indian banks.

Moodys also says that under the draft bill, public sector banks will be brought under the ambit of the resolution framework. By contrast, according to existing laws, public sector bank resolution can only happen under the direction of the government. Moodys does not expect this change to have an impact on Moodys assumption of the level of systemic support for public sector banks, because the banks core public sector character would remain unchanged.

The draft bill also provides for a significant delineation of regulatory powers between the Reserve Bank of India and the proposed Resolution Corporation. This situation will be particularly apparent with respect to some key supervisory powers over banks, including criteria for classifying banks into the various risk categories.

Such a scenario would represent a change compared to the current structure, where the powers rest almost fully within Indias central bank. Consequently, there could be some execution risk, as the system transitions to the new arrangement.

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Fitch: Fund Liquidity Mismatch Risk at a High
Oct 18,2016

Fitch Ratings believes that the likelihood and impact of fund liquidity mismatch risk has increased to a record high in 2016. Frequent bouts of volatility accompanied by redemption spikes and rapid falls in bond prices this year have increased the focus on the effectiveness of liquidity management techniques and the suitability of daily dealing offered by 90% of UCITS bond funds.

In a special report Fitch says asset managers have taken measures to better embed liquidity risk management in their investment process. However, there have been few evolutions in redemption terms and conditions for open-ended funds. This reduces the efficiency of advanced liquidity management techniques and leaves a number of funds vulnerable to severe drawdowns resulting from outflow-driven fire sales in dislocated markets.

Fitch highlights that investment strategies are increasingly constrained by the obligation to implement them in the most liquid manner. This can lead to unintended negative consequences, including excessive portfolio bar-belling, undesired counterparty risk exposure, and over-diversification.

Liquidity is a source of risk but can also be used as a source of returns for asset managers by acting as liquidity providers in one-way markets or by revisiting buy and hold credit investment strategies outside of daily liquidity fund structures.

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Global IT Spending Projected to Grow 2.9 Percent in 2017
Oct 18,2016

A new type of infrastructure needs to be built that is not just going to reshape business, but also the way people live, according to Gartner, Inc. CIOs are the builders of this infrastructure, which Gartner calls the civilization infrastructure.

Gartner forecasts worldwide IT spending to total $3.4 trillion in 2016, a 0.3 percent decline from last year. In 2017, global IT spending is projected to grow 2.9 percent and reach $3.5 trillion. Analysts said this growth will be driven by the software and IT services segments. Worldwide spending on software is projected to grow 7.2 percent, and IT services 4.8 percent. Software and IT services will be key to the development of the civilization infrastructure.

Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of Research, explained today to an audience of more than 8,000 CIOs and IT leaders at the sold out Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, said that this civilization infrastructure will be the most important thing IT accomplishes in the next decade.

Civilization infrastructure will forever change the way people engage socially, digitally, and physically through connected sensors and digital intelligence, Mr. Sondergaard said.

CIOs will participate in the building of a new digital platform with intelligence at the center, Mr. Sondergaard said. That platform will enable ecosystems, connecting businesses and collapsing industries. It will change society itself, and the way people live.

This civilization infrastructure will be a new digital platform that extends beyond traditional IT infrastructure using new technologies not familiar to the typical IT department. Your new digital platform will allow you to participate in the evolving world of business, government, and consumer ecosystems because ecosystems are the next evolution for digital. Its how you compete at scale, Mr. Sondergaard said.

The new digital platform consists of five domains: traditional IT systems, customer experience, The Internet of Things (IoT), intelligence and the ecosystem foundation.

Each of these domains are interconnected and interdependent. All have a role, and all are required, Mr. Sondergaard said. Your new digital platform will allow you to participate in the evolving world of business, government, and consumer ecosystems. Because ecosystems are the next evolution for digital. Its how you compete at scale.

Further insight into the five elements of the new digital platform include:

Traditional core IT systems. This is how CIOs run and scale operations. Its building on whats already been built. Its taking high performing traditional IT systems (such as the data centers and networks) and modernizing them to be part of the digital platform.

For example, leading organizations are halfway through the transition to the cloud. It started with Sales and Marketing, and now half of sales-support capabilities are in the cloud. This migration will continue through the end of the decade into functions such as HR, procurement and financial management.

You now need to make cloud, mobile, social and data your core capabilities while investing in resilience, business continuity and disaster recover, insight and outside in a hybrid approach, Mr. Sondergaard said.

Customer experience. This is how CIOs connect and engage in new ways. The digital customer experience may be the only one that the customers have. This is how the business engages in the digital world. The pioneers are exploring how new experiences such as virtual and augmented reality will change the way customers engage.

In the world of chatbots and virtual personal assistants (VPAs), your mobile apps, and even your web presence, will be much less relevant, Mr. Sondergaard said. The new competitive differentiator is understanding the customers intent through advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence. Creating new experiences that solve problems customers didnt realize they had.

The Internet of Things (IoT). This is how the organization senses and acts in the physical world. Adding devices to the IoT domain is the easy part. Processes, workflows, and data integration are much harder. In fact, two-third of organizations have had to rework their existing IT systems to accommodate IoT.

IoT also changes how CIOs should invest in analytics because decisions must move from days to minutes to instant. CIOs should plan to shift their investments in analytics to real-time. Real-time analytics will outpace traditional analytics by a factor of three by 2020 to become 30 percent of the market.

Intelligence. This is how the systems analyze, learn and decide independently. CIOs start with traditional data management, data science and data intelligence. Algorithms determine the action. The new type of intelligence, driven by machine learning is artificial intelligence.

We are building machines that learn from experience and produce outcomes their designers did not explicitly envision. Systems that can experience and adapt to the world via the data they collect, Mr. Sondergaard said. Machine learning and artificial intelligence move at the speed of data, not at the speed of code releases. Information is the new code base.

Ecosystem Foundation. This is how the enterprise interacts as an institution in the digital world. Ecosystems go beyond the capability to decide, CIOs need to build the capability to interact with customers, partners, adjacent industries, even your competitors. The ecosystems allow for the transformation from traditional business with linear value supply chains to networked digital ecosystem businesses.

Many industry models will transform with digital ecosystems. Moving from simple relationships run by intermediaries toward distributed partnerships managed by a shared distributed ledger system like blockchain, Mr. Sondergaard said. Building a strong ecosystem will help you manage the transition. Ecosystems are the future of digital.

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Gartner Survey of More Than 2,500 CIOs Charts the Rise of the Digital Ecosystem
Oct 18,2016

As digitalization matures, enterprises are increasingly finding themselves part of a digital ecosystem n++ a grouping of enterprises, competitors, customers, regulators and other stakeholders that exchange information and interact electronically. Gartner, Inc.s annual global survey of CIOs showed that, despite only a modest increase in the enterprise IT budget (2.2 percent globally), spend on digitalization is on the rise.

The 2017 Gartner CIO Agenda Survey gathered data from 2,598 CIO respondents in 93 countries and all major industries, representing approximately $9.4 trillion in revenue/public-sector budgets and $292 billion in IT spending. For the purposes of the survey, respondents were categorized as top, average and trailing performers in digitalization.

Data from the 2017 survey shows that CIOs are shifting their investment pattern in response to digital business, with average CIOs already spending 18 percent of their budget in support of digitalization, a figure set to increase to 28 percent by 2018. Top performing businesses (where digitalization is fully baked into their planning processes and business model) are already spending 34 percent of their IT budget on digital, and this is predicted to increase to 44 percent by 2018.

Survey responses also point to the fact that digital ecosystem membership increases with digital maturity. One of the differentiating factors of a high-performance digital business is the creation of and/or participation in a digital ecosystem. Deliberate, wide-ranging use of an ecosystem to co-create solutions and take advantage of distributed capabilities separates top performers from the rest of the pack. Seventy-nine percent of top performers indicate their participation in digital ecosystems compared with 49 percent and 24 percent for average and trailing performers, respectively.

A digital ecosystem amplifies the reach of a company. It enables scalable connections between known partners and customers, but also provides a platform for unknown parties to connect with one another, said Andy Rowsell-Jones, research vice president at Gartner. Ecosystems blur industry boundaries and give rise to entirely new kinds of companies, products and services.

In order to fully participate in a digital ecosystem, CIOs will need to focus on three core domains: their technology core, their organizational capabilities and their enterprise leadership:

Extend the technology core to be digital ecosystem-ready

A combination of core and evolving digital technologies underpin the transition to digital ecosystem participation. Planned top technology investments by survey respondents include analytics, cloud services, digital market management and security. Business intelligence (BI) and analytics continue to top investment priorities across all organization types with an average of 38 percent of respondents citing them in their top three priorities.

For all but the top performers, enterprise resource planning (ERP) remains a significant investment with 22 percent of average performers and 30 percent of trailing performers placing it in their top three technology priorities. Just eight percent of top performers ranked ERP in their top three, having likely invested enough to modernize ERP and shifted that investment to higher return activities. In contrast, trailing performers are investing heavily in non-differentiating activities. This seems to indicate that they will need to work hard to modernize their technology core before they can even consider digital business-style investment.

Create a digital ecosystem-ready organization

CIOs across the board identify the IT skills gap as the primary barrier to achieving the objectives in their role. An average of 34 percent of survey respondents reported that information-related skills represent the biggest gap, especially those skills which are needed for the newest, most advanced analytics environments. The skills that have previously been applied to predigital diagnostic analytics are not sufficient for the new real-time data scenarios presented by the Internet of Things (IoT), personal analytics, operational technology and information ecosystems. As a result, newer skills are in short supply and expensive.

Adoption of bimodal IT is key to the creation of a digital ecosystem-ready organization and this is an area in which enterprises are making progress. Survey findings indicate that, on average, 43 percent of respondents say that they are bimodal. However, top performers far outpace average and trailing performers in their use of bimodal with 68 percent of all leading performers having adopted bimodal compared with only 17 percent of the trailing performers.

Master digital ecosystem-ready leadership

Understanding business priorities and applying value disciplines to inform management and execution is foundational to the transition to a digital ecosystem. The survey showed that, together with their CEOs, high-performing CIO leaders share a focus on growth and digitization. Growth is a recurring theme in this years strategic business priorities, with 28 percent of the top performers, 21 percent of the average performers, and 24 percent of trailing performers identifying it as a top three priority. Digital business/digitalization is a high strategic business priority among the top and average performers (28 and 20 percent, respectively), but was only cited by six percent of trailing performers.

To create digital ecosystem-ready leadership, business leaders must re-evaluate leadership priorities, engage stakeholders and involve them across digital initiatives, said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. Leaders that are digital ecosystem-ready are panoramic thinkers. They look for opportunity in every direction, cultivate diverse partnerships, and question the value propositions and business models of the past.

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Centre actively considering FTA with EU to boost Textile Trade
Oct 18,2016

The Government of India recognises the significance of FTA with EU and the advantages it holds for the country. Ministry of Textiles is in constant touch with the Ministry of Commerce to pursue FTA with EU to boost the international trade, specially in the textile sector, said Rashmi Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

She further added that while Bangladesh enjoys preferential treatment and tax benefits for textile exports, India has greater competitive advantage in terms of environmental compliances. As countries of the European Union lay huge importance to environmental compliances, India stands to gain over Bangladesh, she added.

Indian textile industry is at a turning point. On one hand Chinas export growth in textiles is decreasing, India, riding on cost advantage, have huge potential to play a prominent role in international textile trade. India is also amongst very few countries which have the entire value chain existing with the country. Further, following the true spirit of federal competitiveness, several states are coming out with their own policy and incentives scheme for the textile sector, which augurs well with the aim to make India a leading global play in the textile sector. Roll out of the GST will also greatly help in streamlining the tax structure and improve compliance, she added.

She appealed industry to take full advantage of the special package announced by the Government for the textile sector. She also pointed out that industry needs to increasingly focus on innovation, modernisation and technological advancement to become world-leaders in the textile sector.

Stressing on the importance of skilling the workforce to become globally competitive, she said, n++At least 10 lakh workers need to be skilled every year to meet the demands of the industry and create direct and indirect employment. In a significant development, the ministry of labour is soon going to notify labour reforms allowing fixed-term employment for the textile sectorn++ she added. She also announced that the Ministry of Textile is working on the new textile policy which will be announced soon.

The Indian textile industry must step up and take advantage of the fact that the world leader in textile - China, is moving away from the sector due to high cost of production. Union Government and state governments as well as the industry must work in tandem to capture share of the world market and occupy the space being vacated by China.

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Over-dependence on China for key pharma raw material worrying: ASSOCHAM Paper
Oct 18,2016

India may have emerged as a key supplier of generic and affordable medicine for the world market, its overwhelming dependence on China for a crucial raw material , known as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) to the extent of over 65 per cent of the requirement, has emerged as a main worrying area, an ASSOCHAM-RNCOS joint paper has noted.

This is all the more disconcerting in the face of louder narrative against reducing trade gap with China which is well over USD 51 billion, adds the ASSOCHAM study.

The API is the organ by which active pharmaceutical ingredients are manufactured from raw materials through both chemical and physical means. While rapid growth in new medical technologies is spurring the demand for APIs worldwide today with the increased import of raw pharma ingredients from the emerging markets, n++ Indias rising dependence on imports from China for many APIs that go into the making of a number of essential drugs has been cited as an area of concern for the policy makersn++.

Though the government has taken steps like withdrawal of exemption in customs duties , imports worth Rs 13,853 crore in 2015-16 or 65.29 per cent of the total imports of Rs 21,216 crore are not sustainable. n++Over-dependence on China for APIs is likely to affect the bulk drug manufacturing sector, and subsequently have an impact on our population in plausible scenarios of drug shortages brought down by interrupted imports from single source countryn++, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said, adding over-dependence on such a crucial raw material on a single country is also not advisable from Indias overall strategic interests as well.

One of the main reasons for huge API imports from China is low cost of its manufacture and subsidy in China while India levies negligible import fee . n++The import fees should be increased in line with other counterpartsn++, the paper said.

The chamber said there is presence of multiple regulatory authorities for the industry. The API manufacturers have to approach different authorities for renewal of licences that become a tedious affair. n++Therefore a single committee of various government departments should be formed to regulate the industry through a single window and audit of plantsn++.Besides, the Centre can focus on development of mega parks for APIs across the country. These parks should be provided with common facilities such as effluent treatment plants, testing, power plants, IPR management and designing. These facilities should be maintained by special purpose vehicles.

Several other countries like China provide incentives and subsidies for promoting the manufacture of essential pharmaceutical raw material. This significantly reduces their cost of production and ability to supply API to the world market at a huge discount to the global prices. This discourages new domestic investment in the sector.

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Sports Authority of India collaborate with some identified universities across the country to improve standards of training
Oct 18,2016

Sports Authority of India (SAI) will collaborate with some identified universities across the country to improve standards of training with a view to achieving excellence in sports. For this purpose, each Regional Director of SAI will identify one or two universities with good sports infrastructure and sporting traditions. This decision was taken at a meeting of Heads of SAI Regional Centres, Academic Institutions, SAI Training Centres (STCs) and Special Area Games (SAG) Centres.

Collaboration between SAI and chosen universities is imperative in view of the fact that several universities across the country have excellent sports infrastructure which is not being optimally utilized. Such collaboration is also essential in view of the fact that in big sporting nations like the USA, international athletes mostly come from their universities.

At the meeting, ways were discussed to improve the effectiveness of sports promotion schemes of SAI and providing the best possible facilities to SAI trainees. It was decided to closely monitor the performance of SAI coaches, take steps to constantly upgrade their skills and also to incentivize them. Every SAI Centre has been asked to select sports disciplines for focused attention, keeping in view factors like infrastructure and local traditions. The issue of identification of talent by SAI was also discussed at length. It was decided that SAI would pro-actively hunt for talent by sending its teams to interior areas. Sports science experts will also be part of such teams. SAI will also collaborate with Defence forces to ensure that talented children get selected for nurturing in SAI Centres.

In his remarks at the meeting, Shri Vijay Goel emphasized the need for SAI Centres to closely work with the State Governments and involve local representatives of people so that concerted and coordinated efforts can be made for achieving sports excellence. He also stressed the need for seeking contribution of the corporate sector to upgrade facilities at the SAI Centres. He called for initiating steps to utilize every nook and corner of SAI complexes. He suggested that SAI facilities should be opened to public without disturbing their normal activities of training.

This was after a gap of several years that a Union Sports Minister took a meeting of field functionaries of SAI to understand the problems being faced at the grassroots level and take steps for improvement in future.

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Sagarmala funds flagship project of Ro Pax Ferry Service in Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat
Oct 17,2016

As part of promoting coastal shipping in the country under Sagarmala programme, the Ministry of Shipping has sanctioned the Capital Dredging Project for Ro Pax Ferry Services between Gogha & Dahej, in Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat. The Ministry released Rs 58.50 Crore as first installment of grant-in-aid to Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB). The total project cost is estimated to be Rs 234 Crore and of which 50% will be funded by Centre Government under the Sagarmala programme.

The project would result in reduction in motorable distance of 231 kms between Gogha & Dahej to mere 31 kms and reduce the travel time from 7 hours to 1 hour only by crossing the Gulf in Cambay in 17 Nautical Miles. The initiative would not only reduce the travel time but also result in savings in fuel, reduction in CO2 emission and reduction in road congestion.

The project is first of its kinds in India as it will be executed in the area of worlds 2nd highest tidal range. The project would open up new avenues in coastal shipping & tourism and help in socio-economic development of proximate areas. It would also help in utilisation of inland waterways through River Narmada for shipping goods from industries located upstream.

It is one of the flagship projects under Sagarmala which aims to increase share of waterways transportation in modal mix to 10 per cent from present level of 7 per cent by year 2025.

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Protocol for Undertaking Feasibility Study of Speed Raising of Nagpur-Secundrabad Railway Corridor Signed Between Indian Railways and Russian Railways
Oct 17,2016

In an important bilateral cooperation in railway sector, a Protocol for feasibility study of speed raising of Nagpur-Secundrabad Railway Corridor was signed between Indian Railways and Russian Railways on 15th Oct16 at Goa during the bilateral meeting of Shri Narender Modi, Prime Minister of India with Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin. The Protocol covers technical and execution study for upgradation of the speed of passenger trains in Nagpur- Secundrabad section upto 200 kmph. This project will be jointly financed by Indian Railways and Russian Railways with 50% cost share of each party. The Protocol was signed by Mr. Naveen Kumar Shukla, Adviser/Mobility/Railway Board from Indian side and Mr. O V Belozerov, President, Russian Railways from Russian side.

Background

During December, 2015 an MoU was signed between Ministry of Railways and Russian Railways on Technical Cooperation in Railway Sector. The following cooperation areas were identified in the MoU:

(i) High Speed Rail (HSR) in India;

(ii) Modernization of existing lines of the Indian railways in order to raise train speeds up to 160-200 kmph;

(iii) Modern Control & Safety related Systems based on satellite navigation and digital communication means;

(iv) Satellite and geo-information technologies;

(v) Transportation safety and cyber security;

(vi) Rolling stock;

(vii) Heavy haul transportation;

(viii) Organization of Human Resources training for the Indian railways: secondary and higher vocational education of students and advanced training of staff members including managers;

(ix) Station redevelopment;

(x) Dedicated freight rail corridors;

(xi) Modernization, reconstruction and construction of track superstructure, civil engineering works, including bridges and tunnels; and

(xii) Slab tracks.

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FM: Leading institutions especially educational institutions can play important role in creating mass awareness about issues like financial inclusion
Oct 17,2016

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said leading institutions especially educational institutions can play an important role in creating mass awareness about issues like financial inclusion in the country. He said that the present Government has taken various steps in last two and a half years to link every household with a bank account. Under PMJDY, Shri Jaitley said that the Government has been able to open 240 million bank accounts and now except in certain remote and inaccessible areas, people who are in a position to connect with bank, have a bank account. The Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley was speaking after launching a Financial Inclusion initiative of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) titled Vittshala. SRCC is a premier educational institution in the national capital in the field of commerce and economics education in the country.

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley further said that the Government had launched MUDRA Yojana so that small traders, businesses and new entrepreneurs can have access to banking finance without security. He said that during the last year i.e. in 2015-16, a provision of Rs.1,20,000 crore was made under this Yojana which has been increased to Rs. 1,80,000 crore in the current Financial Year 2016-17.He said that major beneficiaries under the Scheme were women and those from weaker sections of society.

Vittshala is a Centre For Community Engagement (CCE) initiative, aimed at making communities equipped enough to manage financial resources effectively through community engagement, workshops, seminars, and discussions. Founded by a group of motivated teachers and students, the Cell wants to create an impact through its well-planned, community-oriented projects. Vittshala envisions a nation where every individual is financially literate and is empowered to act as a catalyst for economic growth.

Vittshala will act as a multi-faceted programme involving peer-counseling, developing interactive apps and events to promote financial literacy with respect to: Basics of Financial Planning, Channelisation of savings, Investments, Banking and Insurance services, Opening and operating of bank accounts and related Government schemes

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DRI makes seizure of about Rs 12.91 crore including 21 kg Gold worth Rs. 6.47 crore, and Indian Currency notes worth Rs 6.44 crore
Oct 17,2016

The Delhi Zonal Unit (DZU) of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Ministry of Finance seized 20.64 kilogram gold and Indian currency notes worth Rs 6.44 crore from a shop in the old Delhi area.

The gold is valued at about Rs. 6.47 crore, of which 20 bars are of 1 kg each with foreign markings and of 995 purity. Searches also resulted in recovery of Rs 6.44 crore of Indian currency notes, being the sale proceeds of smuggled gold. The total value of the seizure is about Rs 12.91 crore. Two persons have been arrested and remanded to judicial custody. Further investigation is in progress.

DRI continues with its drive against smuggling and black money and has achieved significant results in the recent past. Last month, the Delhi Zonal Unit of DRI had made a record detection of smuggling of gold of about 7,000 Kilograms, valued at about Rs 2,000 crore and had arrested two persons. The main kingpin has also been detained under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Act (COFEPOSA), 1974.

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Indias services exports decline 1.5% in August 2016
Oct 17,2016

As per the data released by the Reserve Bank of India, Indias services exports declined 1.5% to US$ 13.38 billion in August 2016 over August 2015. On the other hand, Indias services imports moved up 3.6% to US$ 8.05 billion in August 2016.

Indias services trade surplus narrowed 8.3% to US$ 5.33 billion in August 2016 from US$ 5.81 billion in August 2015.

Indias services trade surplus has declined 4.6% to US$ 26.89 billion in April-August 2016 over a year ago, with 6.9% surge in services imports to US$ 38.96 billion. Indias services exports rose mere 1.9% to US$ 65.85 billion in April-August 2016.

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Indias merchandise exports rises 4.6% in September 2016
Oct 17,2016

Indias merchandise exports rose 4.6% to US$ 22.88 billion in September 2016 over a year ago. Meanwhile, merchandise imports continued to decline at 2.5% to US$ 31.22 billion. The trade deficit narrowed 18.0% to US$ 8.34 billion in September 2016 from US$ 10.17 billion in September 2015.

Oil imports rose 3.1% to US$ 6.89 billion, while snapping consistent decline for last 23 sequential months. However, the non-oil imports dipped 4.0% to US$ 24.33 billion in September 2016 over September 2015. The share of oil imports in total imports was 22.1% in September 2016, compared with 20.8% in September 2015. Indias basket of crude oil declined 3.5% to US$ 44.48 per barrel in September 2016 over September 2015.

Among the non-oil imports, the major contributors to the overall decline in imports were fertilizers imports declining 54.3% to US$ 0.47 billion, iron & steel 27.5% to US$ 0.96 billion, transport equipment 24.8% to US$ 1.08 billion, silver 71.3% to US$ 0.14 billion, gold 10.3% to US$ 1.80 billion, electronic goods 4.9% to US$ 3.68 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 11.8% to US$ 1.28 billion and metaliferrous ores & other minerals 11.7% to US$ 0.49 billion. The imports also declined for wood & wood products by 11.9% to US$ 0.42 billion, dyeing/tanning/colouring materials 22.3% to US$ 0.18 billion, project goods 22.2% to US$ 0.17 billion, non-ferrous metals 5.5% to US$ 0.84 billion and pulses 12.7% to US$ 0.22 billion.

On the other hand, the imports have increased for petroleum products by 3.1% to US$ 6.89 billion, electrical & non-electrical machinery 7.0% to US$ 2.48 billion, pearls, precious & semi-precious stones 36.0% to US$ 2.07 billion, coal 10.0% to US$ 1.06 billion, vegetable oil 23.5% to US$ 1.04 billion, artificial resins, plastic materials, etc. 2.6% to US$ 1.02 billion, medicinal & pharmaceutical products 1.6% to US$ 0.44 billion and cotton 378.9% to US$ 0.26 billion in September 2016.

On exports front, the engineering goods recorded an increase in exports by 6.5% to US$ 5.16 billion, followed by gems & jewellery 22.4% to US$ 4.46 billion, RMG of all textiles 12.6% to US$ 1.28 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 6.1% to US$ 1.17 billion, marine products 12.0% to US$ 0.59 billion, electronic goods 3.9% to US$ 0.50 billion, handicrafts excluding handmade carpet 23.7% to US$ 0.25 billion, and plastic & linoleum 3.1% to US$ 0.51 billion.

However, the exports declined for, petroleum products by 1.4% to US$ 2.55 billion, cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups, handloom products etc 13.4% to US$ 0.79 billion, rice 25.1% to US$ 0.42 billion, leather & leather products 6.7% to US$ 0.41 billion, meat, dairy & poultry products 10.5% to US$ 0.40 billion, man-made yarn/fabrics/made-ups etc 15.6% to US$ 0.37 billion, coal & other ores, minerals including processed minerals 12.0% to US$ 0.25 billion in September 2016.

Merchandise exports in rupees increased 5.4% to Rs 152700 crore, while imports declined 1.8% to Rs 208356 crore in September 2016 over September 2015. The trade deficit narrowed to Rs 55656 crore in September 2016 compared with Rs 67317 crore in September 2015.

Indias merchandise exports declined 1.5% to US$ 131.40 billion, while merchandise imports fell 13.4% to US$ 174.41 billion in April-September 2016. The decline in imports was driven by a 18.5% plunge in oil imports to US$ 39.30 billion. Indias merchandise trade deficit declined to US$ 43.01 billion in April-September 2016 from US$ 67.88 billion in April-September 2015.

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