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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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Markets to Remain Circumspect
Oct 17,2016

Strengthening prospects of an imminent rate hike by the US Fed will keep investors risk appetite reined in and may result in domestic market sentiments staying cautious this week, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The 10-year G-sec yield could trade in the 6.71%-6.80% range (6.73% at close on 14 October 2016). The rupee is likely to trade at 66.45/USD-67.10/USD (66.73/USD at close on 14 October).

Global Conditions to Keep Momentum Reined In: Ind-Ra believes the sharp drop in retail inflation (4.3% in September 2016, 5.05% in August 2016 and 6.07% in July 2016) strengthens the prospects of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India. However, with risks emerging from the Fed rate hike probability and a potential surge in oil price, market is likely to stay cautious amid constructive domestic conditions.

Liquidity to Stay Neutral: Ind-Ra believes the RBIs liquidity management will alleviate most pressure on overnight rates apart from frictional volatilities. Ind-Ra believes proactive measures by the RBI such as open market operations, G-sec purchase could be resorted to, if liquidity shifts into a deficit. The impact on money market instruments, however, is unlikely to be major.

Testing Period for Rupee: Ind-Ra expects the rupee to undergo a period of volatility in the upcoming weeks on account of both domestic and global conditions. As redemptions of FCNR occupy the centre-stage of demand-supply dynamics domestically, investors risk aversion globally is likely to keep the environment for rupee challenging. Ind-Ra believes the rupee will be shielded from the sharp depreciation episodes witnessed earlier.

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Government to bring an anti-trafficking legislation in Parliament soon: Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Oct 17,2016

The Minister of Women & Child Development, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi has said that the Government will soon bring an anti-trafficking legislation into the Parliament, the draft of which is ready. She was addressing the Regional Editors Conference organised by the Press Information Bureau of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Chandigarh today. The Minister said that the Government will try to introduce the Bill in the winter session of the Parliament. It will cover rescue, relief and reintegration of trafficked persons, and for the first time will make a distinction between those trafficked and the traffickers, she explained.

Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi highlighted the steps being taken by the Government for the safety and protection of women and children of the country. Recently, the Ministry of Women and Child has launched POCSO e-Box which is a simple and easy facility for children or any adult to register complaints of child sexual abuse or harassment. 81 complaints have already been received on this e-Box, the Minister disclosed. In another important initiative to track missing children, the Minister said, the Khoya Paya portal has already reported nearly 6000 cases of missing/sighted children since its launch last year. Runaway/Missing children are also being helped under Special Operating Procedures developed in association with Railways. Smt Maneka Gandhi elaborated that 13000 children have already been helped under this initiative and posters are being pasted in all railway coaches to report children in distress.

Some of the other landmark initiatives taken by the Government include decision to install panic buttons on all cell phones for women in distress from 1st of January 2017, setting up of nearly 170 One Stop Centres for women affected by violence by March 2017, Flagship programme Beti bachao Beti Padhao to reverse the declining child sex ratio, 33% reservation for women in police force, and setting up a large Home for 1000 widows in Vrindavan, said Smt Maneka Gandhi. The Minister further elaborated that Guidelines for Matrimonial Websites are being implemented to prevent their misuse, an online portal Mahil e-Haat for women to sell their products has been set up on which business worth nearly six lakh rupess was transacted in the first six months itself, STEP programme of training women has been completely revamped, women sarpanches are being trained to empower them to administer the villages professionally , and scheme of Gender Champions has been launched in schools.

Last but not the least, the Government is now working full time to revamp the anganwadi system to change ways in which nutrition is being administered to children and pregnant women in them, the WCD Minister said. To ensure healthy children, the Government is now working for six months mandatory maternity leave for working women for which the Ministry of Labour and Employment has moved to introduce amendments in the Act.

Summing up, the Women and Child Development Minister, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi said the Government is moving fast on all fronts to change the status of women and children in the country.

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Indo-Pak Border to be completely sealed in two years
Oct 17,2016

The Government has decided to completely seal the International Border (IB) with Pakistan by physical/non-physical barriers by December, 2018. There is about 181.85 km stretch in which construction of physical barrier is not feasible due to geographic constraints like riverine, low-lying, creek, marshy etc. areas. In this stretch, advance technology solutions including cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc will be deployed. BSF is testing the available technologies through pilot projects in Jammu, Punjab and Gujarat. Announcing this during Regional Editors Conference in Chandigarh today, the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh said that Border Security is a very sensitive issue and India is engaging all the neighbours except Pakistan diplomatically to ensure peace on the borders. He added that because of development work, transgression incidents at China border have also come down drastically. Shri Rajnath Singh categorized our borders as friendly, active and strategic borders.

Referring recent surgical operations Shri Rajnath Singh said that it was pre-emptive action against Pakistan and India does not have any ill will against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan has adopted terrorism as its state policy and harbouring terrorists. That is the reason it has been isolated not only in South Asia, but also in the world. He said India is ready to help Pakistan in taking action against terrorists in Pakistan, including Pak Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan should close down factory of terrorism. This will open vistas of development and help in ensuring peace in South Asia.

Regarding incidents of insurgency in North East, the Home Minister said that the Government is continuing dialogue with all the groups and claim that such incidents have come down. Similarly, incidents of Left Wing Extremism have also come down drastically because of two-pronged approach of the Government- development alongwith a strict action by the security forces.

The Home Minister said that after Mumbai attacks, Coastal security has been given very high priority. Third phase of coastal security plan very soon will be put before the cabinet for the approval. This will help in securing our vast coastal border lines.

Declaring that the Union Government is committed to peace and prosperity in Jammu & Kashmir, he expressed the hope that very soon normalcy will return in the state. Later, answering the media query Shri Rajnath said that the radicalization is not a major challenge in India as people have very sensible approach towards this issue.

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Organic relationships in the BIMSTEC region need revival: Nirmala Sitharaman
Oct 17,2016

Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of India called for greater buoyancy in the approach toward implementing projects in the BIMSTEC region. The Minister was speaking at the BIMSTEC Business Summit organized by the Ministry of External Affairs with the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Sitharaman elucidated how the complementarity of the region could be highlighted to close in on the agreements that are being discussed. She shared that with the BRICS Business meetings going on at present, it was apt to have invited the BIMSTEC countries to take part in the deliberations. She observed that the countries in this region have been connected since time immemorial and hence the organic nature of pre-existing relationships could be easily revived.

Romi Gauchan Thakali, Minister of Commerce, Government of Nepal, highlighted that for Nepal, BIMSTEC is a stepping stone for its industry to embark on the journey to integrated business transactions. Having achieved their political agenda in the recent past, Nepal is currently on the path of economic development and hence is ready to foster in regional integration and increased business linkages with its neighboring nations especially under the BIMSTEC umbrella. He also urged that the special treatment given to LDCs in the region be continued as it has definitely resulted in successful business exchanges.

Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs said that countries in the BIMSTEC region have a shared heritage and is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. She pointed out that put together BIMSTEC countries comprises of $ 2.5 bn of the world economy. Hence it is important that the themes of free trade, physical connectivity, power and MSMEs get maximum focus. She further added that being the lead country for BIMSTEC on the sectors of transport, tourism and infrastructure; India will continue pushing agendas for greater collusion of thoughts.

Sumith Nakandala, Secretary General, BIMSTEC Secretariat, Bangladesh laid emphasis on the fact that that the Bay of Bengal us a conduit for the flow of ideas and innovative business models. BIMSTEC region is situated at the heart of history and it is only the reimagining of connections that will pave the way for the formation of an exemplary network. It is time that we rediscover our common heritage and create the roadmap to celebrate the 20th anniversary of BIMSTEC, he said.

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry, said that Indian industry has a key role to play in driving global trade and investment agenda. The Annual BIMSTEC Business Summit will provide opportunities of Country Mapping of the member countries. The engagement would facilitate as well as identify opportunities of Sectoral Collaboration and Policy Advocacy between member countries.

The Summit provided a platform to deliberate upon concerns with regard to the finalization of the FTA, connecting the dots with respect to physical connectivity, ways to power BIMSTEC countries and providing the right ecosystem for the growth of MSMEs. It brought together experts from Industry, Government and Institutions to build integrative strategies to facilitate an effective and integrated role with invaluable collaborative opportunities to ensure unhindered economic growth and human development in the BIMSTEC region.

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