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Fitch: Headwinds Reduce for EM Banks, But Pressures Remain
Jun 14,2017

Fitch Ratings says in its latest EM Banking System Datawatch that pressure on emerging market (EM) bank ratings has reduced, with the proportion on Negative Outlook falling to 20% at end-1Q17 from a peak of 33% at end-3Q16.

In part, this reflects improved near-term economic prospects for EMs. Fitch forecasts economic growth in emerging markets to increase to 4.7% in 2017 and 4.8% in 2018 from 4.0% in 2015 and 4.2% in 2016 as Russia and Brazil return to positive growth, commodity prices have stabilised and Chinese growth has surprised on the upside.

However, in most cases EM banks whose Outlooks have reverted to Stable have done so after rating downgrades, both of banks and sovereigns, in such markets as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Costa Rica and Oman. Furthermore, the proportion of EMEA banks on Negative Outlook, which are concentrated in EMEA and Latin America (LatAm) remains significant; these include major lenders in the large LatAm markets of Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

EM banks credit profiles remain under pressure, to varying degrees, due to weaker than historical growth, commodity prices and currencies. Dollar strength and signs of a shift in Chinas policy stance could also weigh on emerging markets, and economic growth is likely to remain subdued in Brazil, Mexico and Turkey.

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Enhanced Per Capita Investment, capacities of cities driving urban transformation, Says UD Minister
Jun 14,2017

More than threefold increase in investments, Per Capita spending, Central Assistance and substantially enhanced capacities of city governments under the new urban missions launched during the last three years is driving the much needed urban transformation in the country, said Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

Shri Naidu said that a rule based framework has been introduced to ensure objective selection of cities and allocation of central funds without any discretion and discrimination and the same has been followed in getting unauthorized occupants of government houses evicted.

The Minister said that a major course correction has been launched during the last three years to improve urban infrastructure and quality of life in cities in an environment of inclusive, sustainable and accelerated urban development. Giving an account of the positive outcomes of the initiatives of the Government that are driving urban transformation, Shri Naidu said:

-Per Capita Investment of Rs.15,475 has so far been approved during 2014-17 under new urban missions for a five year period which is 315% of Rs.4,918 approved for the earlier ten years. A total investment of Rs.4,13,475 cr has so far been approved for improving basic urban infrastructure which is 350% of Rs.1,18,034 approved under JNNURM;

-A total of 6,737 projects have so far been approved which is 215% of 3,138 projects cleared under JNNURM, reflecting substantially enhanced capacities of city governments for project formulation and implementation through deployment of professional staff and through intensive handholding;

-748 cities have formulated the much desired Master Plans, 172 cities have reported over 90% Property Tax Collection during the last three years;

-In an indication of the new language of governance and resource mobilization, 322 AMRUT and smart cities have acquired Credit Ratings of which 147 have got investment grade while 163 cities in 18 States and UTs have initiated measures for mobilizing resources through Value Capture Financing tools;

-For the first time in the country, 500 AMRUT cities and 60 smart cities identified so far are pursuing five year comprehensive action plans for infrastructure development as against ad hoc approval of projects in the past;

-In an illustration of area and outcome based urban development approach introduced, under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), provision of water taps to 1.39 crore urban households besides expansion of sewerage networks by 31% to 62%, 111 cycling and walkway projects and development of 1,921 new parks and green spaces in mission cities is being taken up.

Shri Naidu said that with cities now moving forward on the path of well thought out course of infrastructure development, City Liveability Index will be launched on the 23 of this month at the National Workshop on Urban Transformation in New Delhi. The next batch of smart cities also will be announced that day, he informed.

The Minister said that the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change yesterday issued a notification doing away with the need for a separate Environmental Clearence from that Ministry for construction and building projects up to 1,50,000 sq.metres in Delhi. Such approvals, will henceforth, will be issued by DDA, NDMC and the three MCDs in their jurisdiction.

Stressing on the need for inclusive and sustainable urban development to ensure access for the poor and the vulnerable to urban spaces, Shri Naidu said construction of 20,25, 573 affordable houses for urban poor has been approved in a short time as against only 12,40,904 sanctioned under JNNURM. He stated that new guidelines will soon be issued to enable private investments in affordable housing even on private lands under Affordable Housing in Partnership component of PMAY(Urban) under which only public sector partnership is allowed so far.

Shri Naidu said public transport is being promoted in a big way to address the issues of climate change and pollution and the Metro network in the country is set to double over the next two years from the present 346 kms with 353 kms of metro lines becoming operational.

Expressing concern over unauthorized occupation of government houses, Shri Naidu informed that 2,843 such houses were got vacated during these three years by acting tough as per rules including 411 higher type accommodation occupied by former MPs and Ministers. A total of 95 unauthorised occupants lost their cases in various courts reflecting on the challenging task faced in their eviction. Still, another 190 cases are pending in courts including 80 in the High Court and 110 in District Courts but the long hand of law will reach them, said Shri Naidu.

Cities with new found confidence, awareness, enthusiasm and competitive spirit are driving urban transformation with is crucial for Transformation of India, Shri Naidu said.

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EPFO e-court Management System launched
Jun 14,2017

For the benefit international workers, new instructions have been issued to all field functionaries regarding COC (Certificate of Coverage). Employer is advised to submit the application form for COC one month in advance and COC are issued prior to departure of the employee from India. Also, COC period should not exceed 60 months or the specified period in the SSA with that country without derogation from the competent authority. COC should not be issued for a period which commence much later than date of posting of the Indian worker in the host country for employment. There should not be any overlapping of the period of coverage. There should not be gaps when more than one COC is issued to the same posted worker as these results in lack of Social Security coverage during the gaps.

New Software has been launched on 27.05.2017 to further streamline the monitoring and supervision of the performance of exempted Trusts under EPF & MP Act, 1952, wherein performance of all exempted establishments / trusts is proposed to be monitored on regular basis and ranks assigned for periodical publishing on EPFO website. Exempted establishments have been cautioned that non filing of returns for 3 consecutive months shall result in cancellation of exemption granted to the establishment. .

EPFO e-court Management System launched on 16th May 2017 the objective of which is a transparent and electronic case management system. All paper/evidence/documents can be filed online and the status can also be viewed online.

EPFO has decided to make Aadhar mandatory. All field offices are directed to ensure that Aadhaar Number is furnished by the employer in respect of all new members who join the EPS, 1995 with effect from 1st July, 2017 except North East States where it would be applicable w .e. f. 01-10-2017. Further, the claim settlement period has been reduced to 10 days from 20 days and grievance redressal period is reduced to 15 days from 20 days.

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Ratification of core ILO Conventions No. on 138 and 182 on Child Labour
Jun 14,2017

n++It is a historic moment for India as we are going to take another giant step to affirm our commitment for a child labour free India by ratifying the two Core Conventions of International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions 138 regarding admission of age to employment and Convention 182 regarding worst forms of Child Labourn++, said the Minister of State for Labour and Employment (Independent Charge), Shri Bandaru Dattatreya.

The Labour and Employment Minister said that the Government of India has been working in a concerted manner to eliminate child labour from the country by following a multipronged strategy by including both stringent legislative and Project based approach.

A landmark step in the endeavour to have a child labour free society was the enactment of the Child labour (Prohibition and Prevention) amendment Act, 2016 in August 2016 that provides for complete prohibition on employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes and prohibits employment of adolescents (14-18 years) in hazardous occupations and processes. The age of admission to employment has been linked to the age of compulsory education under Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009.

Shri Bandaru Dattatreya informed that besides the amendment in the Act, Government of India has also notified the amendment in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Central Rules after extensive consultation with the stakeholders. The Rules for the first time provide broad and specific framework for prevention, prohibition, rescue and rehabilitation of child and adolescent workers. To clarify on issues related with help in family and family enterprises and definition of family with respect to child, specific provisions have been incorporated in rules. Further, it also provides for safeguards of artists which have been permitted to work under the Act, in terms of hours of work and working conditions. The rules provide for specific provisions incorporating duties and responsibilities of enforcement agencies in order to ensure effective implementation and compliance of the provisions of the Act. In order to clarify the issues on Schedule of hazardous occupations and processes, the Schedule has been reviewed and the intent notification has been issued to include a comprehensive list of about 118 occupation and processes.

The Minister further informed that India was in the process of providing a digital platform PENCIL which has components ensuring enforcement of the Act, mechanism for redressal of complaints, child tracking system and a monitoring mechanism. This platform would integrate all the State Governments with the Central Government for effective coordination and convergence of various measures being taken for compliance of the Act.

Director General, ILO, Mr Guy Ryder said n++this is an historic step. From today, Convention 182 will cover more than 99 percent of the worlds children and the coverage of Convention 138 will leap from approximately 60 percent to almost 80 percent. I pay tribute to the Government, employers, trade unions and civil society of India and to all those who have assisted them in building an extraordinary alliance in India in the past decade- an alliance that made this latest great step possible. That strong alliance must now turn its attention to full implementation of these two Conventions, with no child left behind.n++

Shri Dattatreya mentioned that among the various measures taken recently to meet the objective of child labour free society, the prominent one was strengthening of the National Child Labour Project (NCLP), which is a rehabilitative scheme, providing bridge education and vocational training to adolescents. This scheme has been strengthened recently in terms of improving its quality and extending its coverage to all the districts of the country. For effective implementation of the project, the NCLP guidelines have been reviewed.

The Civil Society groups and the prominent child labour activists have widely appreciated Indias recent initiative for complete eradication of child labour.

With ratification of these two core ILO conventions, India has ratified 6 out of 8 core ILO conventions, with the other 4 core ILO conventions relating to abolition of forced labour, equal remuneration and no discrimination between men and women in employment and occupation, thus reaffirming its commitment for promoting and realising fundamental principles and right at work.

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Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways, launches Mission Retro-Fitment to enhance the passenger experience.
Jun 13,2017

To enhance the passengers experience by upgrading existing fleet of coaches with better furnishing, aesthetics & amenities and better safety features with a view to provide a safe and comfortable travel, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has launched MISSION RETRO-FITMENT in Rail Bhavan today. Member Traffic, Railway Board, Mohd Jamshed, Member Rolling Stock, Railway Board, Shri Ravindra Gupta, Member Staff, Railway Board, Shri Pradeep Kumar were among those present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said, Mission Retro-Fitment is an ambitious program to upgrade the level of furnishing & amenities in the coaches of Indian Railways. This is one of the largest  retro fitment project in the world as Indian Railways 40,000 coaches will be refurbished and retrofitted in the next five years. This Mission Retrofitment is an endeavour to provide better travel experience as the interiors of the coaches would be refurbished & the retrofitment of Center Buffer Coupler with balanced draft gear would add more to safety of the passengers. By 2020, Indian Railways would provide a new travel experience to the passenger over Indian Railways. This mission is challenging as it will be carried out without affecting the traffic operation. On the occasion, MR Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu also released a booklet giving parameters & guidelines on this mega exercise of retrofitment and refurbishment.

GUIDELINES OF MISSION RETRO-FITMENT

Refurbishing : Upgradation of Coaches with Improved Interiors

●         It has been planned to induct about 40,000 coaches with upgraded interiors by 2022-23.

●       RSP sanction for refurbishing of 6,700 coaches are already available.

●        Approximate Cost : Rs.30 lacs per coach.

YearNo. of Coaches2017-181,0002018-193,0002019-205,0002020-215,5002021-225,5002022-235,000New manufacture with upgraded interiors  (18-19 to 22-23)15,000Total40,000

Strategy

Existing RSP Sanctions

●       700 Coaches : Allotted to ZRs/PUs (Western Central Railways -411, Integral Coach Factory (ICF)-189, Central Railway-75, Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala-25); these are under different stages of tendering and execution.

●       57 coaches have been refurbished by Coach Rehabilitation Workshop/ Bhopal.

●       Refurbished Coaches are running in Varanasi - New Delhi Mahamana Express since 22.01.2016.

●       6,000 Coaches :

●       Tender by ICF :3,000

●       Tender by COFMOW :2,000

●       Tender by WCR :1,000

●       Total 6,700 Coaches.

 Additional sanctions under RSP shall be sought in due course.

            Refurbishing - Salient Points

n++         World class ambience

Panels without visible screws, LED Lights,

Modular toilets with concealed plumbing, Branded fittings, Powered venetian blinds, Anti-Graffiti coating, etc.

n++         Enhanced Passenger Safety

Fire and Smoke Detection System (in newly manufactured AC coaches),

Double acting compartment door (in AC coaches), Rounded edges at most locations for injury-free, etc.

n++         Caring for the Environment

Bio toilets

n++         Use of better materials

Such as Polycarbonate ABS, Advanced Composites, Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic, GFRE, Stainless Steel, etc.

 n++         Enhanced Passenger convenience

Passenger Address & Passenger Information System, Braille Signage, Ergonomic design, increased number of mobile / laptop charging points, etc.

Retro-fitment of Centre Buffer Coupler (CBC) with Balanced Draft Gear

●       Board has approved the Retro-fitment of about 32,000 Integral Coach Factory coaches (having a minimum residual life of 10 years), with CBC & Balanced Draft Gear.

●       Sanction under Rolling Stock Programme (RSP) for retrofitment in 16,000 coaches has been obtained vide Pink Book Item No. 1254/17-18.

●       Approximate Cost : Rs.28 lacs per coach.

●       Additional Sanctions under RSP shall be obtained in due course.

●       The work is targeted for completion by 2022-23.

YearNo. of Coaches2017-182,0002018-195,0002019-205,5002020-217,0002021-227,0002022-235,500Total32,000

Strategy

  In-House 

●       In Mid life Rehabilitation (MLR) and Periodic Overhaul (POH) Workshops.

●       24 coaches already retrofitted have been running in Train No.15120/19 Manduadih - Rameswaram Express since 23.04.2017.

●       Work likely to commence in a regular manner from October17 after CBC with Balanced Draft Gear is made available.

Through Contract :

●       In Rly. Premises : COFMOW has invited Tenders for 2,500 coaches that are under finalization, Tentative Commencement of Work from October17.

●       In Firms Premises : COFMOW has invited Tender

In-principle decision to open Janaushadhi Kendras at Railway Stations taken: Shri Suresh Prabhu
Jun 13,2017

Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar held a detailed discussion with the Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu for opening of Janaushadhi Kendras at Railway Stations and other Railway establishments.

Assuring firm support to the PMBJP scheme from Ministry of Railways side, Shri Prabhu informed the media persons that an in-principle decision to open Janaushadhi Kendras at Railway Stations and other Railway establishments has been taken during todays discussions. Railways being the largest employer in India, the amalgamation of efforts between the two Ministries for the percolation of generic drugs would increase their accessibility to the common man manifold, Shri Prabhu added.

Briefing the media on the outcome of the meeting, Shri Ananthkumar informed that the meeting was very fruitful and Shri Prabhu has extended full support from Railways to take ahead the vision of the Prime Minister. n++We will utilize the vast Railway Infrastructure to increase Accessibility of Cheap, Quality Generic Drugs for the common mann++, said Shri Ananthkumar.

Further, Shri Ananthkumar said that the Government is pursuing in full force the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, to make cheap and quality medicines accessible to all citizens of the country. The Minister added that currently over 1600 Janaushadhi Kendras have been opened in over 450 districts across India under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) and all the drugs available at these stores meet the WHO GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) benchmarks.

The Ministers have directed senior officers of the two Ministries to work out the modalities and the strategy for roll out of the plan in detail.

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Ind-Ra: Improvement in Aggregate Liquidity Profile of States
Jun 13,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) says aggregate liquidity position of the states has improved during FY16 (revised estimate (RE)) and FY17 (budget estimate (BE)). As the Reserve Bank of India is no longer publishing the information relating to the number of days of ways and means advances (WMA) facility being utilised by various states, Ind-Ra has computed a WMA utilisation ratio of states to analyse the liquidity position of the states. This WMA utilisation ratio, which bottomed out at 1.6x in FY10 rose to 5.1x in FY15. Thereon, it moderated to 4.2x in FY16 (RE) and was budgeted to soften further to 2.7x in FY17 (BE).

Notwithstanding the recent divergence, Ind-Ras analysis indicates states liquidity position broadly moves in tandem with their fiscal position in the medium-to-long term. Barring few exceptions, WMA utilisation by the states has broadly moved in tandem with their fiscal deficit/GSDP ratio. Moreover, WMA utilisation/GSDP ratio is on the higher side for highly indebted and fiscally weak states. On aggregate basis, states utilisation of the Reserve Bank of Indias WMA facility has varied between 0.2% and 0.6% of GDP since FY06.

The states use WMA facility to manage their short-term revenue and expenditure mismatches. It has been observed that states with higher deficit and/or debt depend more on WMA facility. Some of the states that have been depending heavily on the WMA facility are Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Nagaland, Punjab and West Bengal.

Ind-Ra believes the reasons for divergence between fiscal performance and liquidity conditions during FY16 (RE) and FY17 (BE) were due to enhanced liquidity provision for states from January 2016 and impact of Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana on states fiscal position.

Another aspect of states liquidity management is surplus management. Surplus cash of state governments is invested in auction and intermediate treasury bills. These investments enable the states to earn some return on surplus cash while managing their liquidity. While the above mentioned six states have a very low investment, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu budgeted to have the highest cash balance as at FYE17.

There exists divergence between states liquidity position and the payment track-record of the selected states power utilities. While some of the states have healthy liquidity position as evinced in their WMA utilisation ratios, the performance is not reflected in the states utilities. The vice-versa also holds true. While payment by state power utilities is not a direct obligation of state governments, disparity and delay in payment of dues by the utilities plague and often constrain the financial health of counterparties.

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Government emphasizes that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to roll-out on 1st July, 2017
Jun 13,2017

The Government of India has emphasised that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to roll-out on 1st July,.2017. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in coordination with the State Governments have increased their outreach programmes with regard to Goods and Services Tax (GST) so as to reach the last trader. The GST formations are being notified shortly. The window for migration to GSTN has re-opened to assist the remaining taxpayers. The preparations are in full swing for a smooth implementation of the landmark tax reform from 1st July, 2017.

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Government emphasizes that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to roll-out on 1st July 2017
Jun 13,2017

The Government of India has emphasised that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to roll-out on 1st July 2017. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in coordination with the State Governments have increased their outreach programmes with regard to Goods and Services Tax (GST) so as to reach the last trader. The GST formations are being notified shortly. The window for migration to GSTN has re-opened to assist the remaining taxpayers. The preparations are in full swing for a smooth implementation of the landmark tax reform from 1st July 2017.

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Industrial production improves 3.1% in April 2017
Jun 13,2017

Indias industrial production (base year 2011-12=100) increased 3.1% in April 2017 over April 2016. Meanwhile, the growth for March 2017 has been revised upwards to 3.8% from 2.7% reported earlier. The manufacturing sectors production rose 2.6% in April 2017. Meanwhile, mining output moved up 4.2% and the electricity generation galloped 5.4% in April 2017.

As per the use-based classification, the primary goods output improved 3.4% in April 2017 over a year ago, but the output of capital goods declined 1.3%. The intermediate goods output moved up 4.6%, while the output of Infrastructure/ construction goods also increased 5.8% and consumer non-durable durables 8.3%. However, the production of consumer durable goods declined 6% in April 2017 over April 2016, while recording fall for fifth straight month.

In terms of industries, fourteen out of the 23 industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth in April 2017 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

Industrial production rose 5% in April-March FY2017, compared with 3.4% growth in the corresponding period last year. The manufactured product sector output improved 4.9%, while the mining and electricity generation improved 5.3% and 5.8% in April-March FY2017.

The industry group Manufacture of pharmaceuticals, medicinal chemical and botanical products has shown the highest positive growth of 29.1% followed by 17.9% in Manufacture of tobacco products and 9.5% in Manufacture of machinery and equipment.

On the other hand, the industry group Manufacture of beverages has shown the highest negative growth of (-) 19.2% followed by (-) 15.6% in Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers and (-) 14.4% in Manufacture of electrical equipment.

Some important items showing high positive growth during the current month over the same month in previous year include Digestive enzymes and antacids (incl. PPI drugs) (113.4%), Printing machinery (57.2%), Meters (electric and non-electric) (45.1%), Bidi (38.7%), Tea (33.8%), HR plates of mild steel (26.6%), Industrial Valves of different types- safety, relief and control valves(non-electronic, non-electrical) (25.2%), HR coils and sheets of mild steel (24.6%) and Steel frameworks or skeletons for construction of towers including pit props (21.3%).

Some important items that have registered high negative growth include Shelled cashew kernel, whether or not processed/ roasted/ salted (-) 72.9%, Axle (-) 60.3%, API & formulations of hypo-lipidemic agents (-) 44.8%, Rice (excluding basmati) (-) 39.9%, Plastic jars, bottles and containers (-) 39.7%, Air filters (-) 31.9%, Tooth Paste (-) 31.8%, Air/ gas compressors of all types (incl. compressors for refrigerators) (-) 31.6%, Stainless steel utensils (-) 29.6%, Commercial Vehicles (-) 28.8%, Aerated drinks/ soft drinks (incl. soft drink concentrates) (-) 26.5%, Beer & other undistilled and fermented alcoholic liqueurs other than wines (-) 26.1% and Vaccine for veterinary medicine (-) 24.2%.

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51 EMR Schools made Functional during The Last three years
Jun 13,2017

Ministry of Tribal Affairs has actively initiated various efforts during the last three years to make more Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) functional. As a result, 51 new EMRS were made functional during the last three years. 161 EMR Schools are functional right now, while this figure was at 110 in the year 2013-14. More than 52 thousand tribal students are taking education in 161 EMR Schools of 26 States.

Eklavya Model Residential School Scheme was started in 1998 and first school was started in the year 2000 in Maharashtra. A total of 259 schools have been sanctioned during the last 17 years, out of which, 72 EMRS were sanctioned during last three years. EMRSs have been functioning as institutions of excellence for tribal students. Results of these schools have been generally better than other Government schools in the tribal areas. Average pass percentage of students in Class Xth and XIIth in these EMRS is above 90%. Many EMRS students have been reported to be faring well in higher studies and competitive examinations.

In order to further educational opportunities for more ST children, Government seeks to extend the facility of EMRSs in all the 672 Blocks where ST population is more than 50% of the total population in a span of next five years.

As per existing EMRS Guidelines of 2010, at least one EMRS is to be set up in each Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) / Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) having 50% ST population in the area. The capital cost for setting up the school complex, including hostels and staff quarters etc. has been earmarked at Rs. 12 crore with a provision to go up to Rs.16 crore in hill areas, deserts and islands. Recurring cost during the first year for these schools would be Rs. 42000/-per child, with a provision of raising it by 10% every second year to compensate for inflation etc.

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CPI inflation dips to 2.18% in May 2017
Jun 13,2017

The all-India general CPI inflation dipped to fresh record low of 2.18% in May 2017 (base 2012=100), compared with 2.99% in April 2017. The corresponding provisional inflation rate for rural area was 2.30% and urban area 2.13% in May 2017 as against 3.02% and 3.03% in April 2017. The core CPI inflation eased to 4.14% in May 2017 from 4.44% in April 2017. The cumulative CPI inflation was lower at 2.58% in April-May FY2018 compared with 5.61% in April-May FY2017.

Among the CPI components, inflation of food and beverages dipped to (-) 0.22% in May 2017 from 1.29% in April 2017 mainly contributing to the dip in CPI inflation. Within the food items, the inflation slipped for vegetables to (-) 13.44%, pulses and products (-) 19.45%, fruits 1.40%, spices 0.52%, cereals and products 4.81% and prepared meals, snacks, sweets etc 5.17%. The inflation also declined for milk and products to 4.56%, sugar and confectionery 9.84%, oils and fats 2.70%, egg 0.72% and non-alcoholic beverages to 2.66%. The inflation was nearly flat for meat and fish at 1.87% in May 2017.

The inflation for housing was steady at 4.84%, while that for miscellaneous items dipped to 3.81% in May 2017. Within the miscellaneous items, the inflation for transport and communication eased to 3.46%, personal care and effects 3.27%, education 4.90% and health 3.80%, while it rose slightly for household goods and services to 3.97% in May 2017.

The inflation for clothing and footwear eased to 4.41% in May 2017, while the CPI inflation of fuel and light dipped to 5.46% in May 2017.

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Indian electronics market expected to reach $400 billion by 2020: study
Jun 13,2017

The demand of electronic products in India is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 41% during 2017-2020 to reach USD 400 billion by 2020, the domestic production which is currently growing at a CAGR of 27% may touch USD 104 billion leaving a huge gap for import to the extent of USD 300 billion, according to the joint study brought out by ASSOCHAM and NEC.

A joint study undertaken by NEC Technologies and ASSOCHAM reveals, India is becoming home to a growing middle class population. Increasing disposable income has led to increased consumer demand for electronics products specially advanced TVs, mobile phones and computers. This surge in demand is huge which shows a positive outlook for the industry.

However, what needs to be addressed to meet governments vision of turning India into a manufacturing hub is the domestic production. Demand for electronic products in India is poised for significant growth in the next few years, driven by a strong economic outlook. The Indian electronics and hardware market grew by 8.6% YoY to reach USD 75 billion in 2015, driven by rising local demand. The worldwide electronics industry was valued at around USD 1.86 trillion in 2015, noted the study.

Electronics industry valued at USD 1.75 trillion is the largest and fastest growing industry in the world, highlighted the study.

Indias total electronics hardware production 2014-15 is estimated at USD 32.46 billion. This represents a share of about 1.5 per cent in world electronic hardware production. The domestic consumption of electronic hardware in 2014-15 was USD 63.6 billion out of which 58% was fulfilled with imports. With demonetization adding to the demand for POS devices and mobile phones, this demand is going to increase manifolds.

The investments in electronic manufacturing which was just INR 11,000 crores in June 2014, has increased exponentially to INR 1,27,880 crores in 2016. This is also due to the Governments efforts to create an enabling policy ecosystem in the sector bringing through initiatives like Make in India and Digital India and providing special focus to schemes like the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) and Electronic Development Fund (EDF).

However, even though there are signs of promising growth, the local production of electronic products has to be increased significantly to meet the domestic demand. The industry suggest the government to focus on both infrastructural as well as at the policy level, increased emphasis has to be provided for increasing the percentage of local component manufacturing in India. Simplifying the complex regulatory structure for making compliance easier for new entrants and developing a participatory approach, where all the stakeholders are involved in the policy making process.

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Atal Pension Yojana (APY) included under Section 7 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016
Jun 12,2017

With an objective of bringing in transparency, efficiency and to enable beneficiaries to get their entitlement directly in a convenient and seamless manner, Aadhaar card has been constituted as the primary document in identification of the beneficiary under the Aadhaar Act which came into effect from 12th September 2016.

Atal Pension Yojana (APY) has now been included under the Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act. As per the provisions of the Act, any individual who is eligible to receive benefits under the APY will have to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo enrolment under Aadhaar authentication. A copy of the notification is attached.

Accordingly, an APY subscriber will have to get the Aadhaar number recorded in his or her APY pension account and also in his/ her savings account where the periodic pension contribution instalments are debited and government co-contribution is to be credited. In case a subscriber is not yet having an Aadhaar card, he/ she should immediately get him/ her enrolled for the Aadhaar card for which he or she can visit the nearest Aadhaar enrolment centre. The list of all such centers is available on UIDAI website, www.uidai.gov.in.

PFRDA has identified nearly 12.35 lakh subscribers who are eligible for Government of India co-contribution for an amount upto Rs 1000 for the financial year 2016-17 which will be released to the eligible subscribers savings bank accounts which are seeded with Aadhaar. These subscribers are advised to approach their Bank or Postal Branch for seeding their Aadhar Number.

In the recent times, various new initiatives like online viewing of Statement of Transactions (SOT) and online PRAN card under APY have been taken up by PFRDA for facilitating subscribers under the scheme.

Atal Pension Yojana currently has more than 54 lacs subscribers with an asset base of more than Rs. 2,200 crores.

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Let farmers, rural landscape partake in services economy, raise income: ASSOCHAM
Jun 12,2017

Economic hardships of farmers and the entire rural landscape with near about 70 per cent of the population can be mitigated only when their claim on national income is substantially increased from a mere 17 per cent, which is possible by taking key service sectors like trade, hotels, transport and housing to the hinterland through massive investment in rural infrastructure, an ASSOCHAM Concept Note has said.

Of Indias total income, measured by the Gross Value Addition (GVA) of Rs 136.69 lakh crore for 2016-17, the share of agriculture, forestry and fishing was just about Rs 23.72 lakh crore or 17 per cent.

n++In other words, of the total national income (GVA based) close to 70 per cent of our people got just a slice which is less than one-fifth of the cake. This defies social equity and is economically unsustainable. Though migration continues from rural to urban areas, our cities are choked and hardly have any more absorption capacity. The answer lies in revisiting in all sincerity the laudable idea of former President late APJ Abdul Kalam-(Providing Urban Amenities and Rural Areas).

n++Creation of rural infrastructure like roads, broadband telecom, financial services through technology based inclusion would lead to substantially enhanced economic activities in the rural landscape and result in a big jump in their income,n++ said the ASSOCHAM Concept Note, authored by senior political -economic analyst and commentator Prakash Chawla.

In the total services pack, the trade itself contributes a major portion. Though Indias consumption demand is significantly driven by the larger proportion of the population in the rural and semi-urban areas, the multiplier impact remains restricted as the purchasing power of the people there is just one-fifth of the total national resource. n++There is a limit. How much multiplier can you have with just about 17 per cent of the national income at the hands of those 70 per cent living in the villages; but imagine the kind of a trigger which can be generated by raising their income. If we double their income in the next 5-7 years which is possible through integrating the city based services economy to rural India as well, the countrys Gross Value Addition and then the Gross Domestic Product can be enhanced to well above USD 3.5-4 trillion in the same periodn++. The entire great India consumption story so often parroted by the stock market analysts could be realised effectively.

Commenting on the hardships of the farmers, the ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat said, n++In most of the developed world, the countryside is much more prosperous than the cities. This is eminently possible even in our country. It all depends how soon the governments both at the Centre and states can create the required infrastructure in terms of all-weather motorable roads, electricity, telecommunication, hospitals, schools to villages, tehsils and other semi-urban clustersn++.

Given the cultural, geo-climatic diversity of our country, even small hotels and motels can spring up on the highways, state express ways and even in interiors if each of states takes up promoting short-duration tourism in the earnest. n++ Lakhs of personal vehicles from big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Ahmedabad and other big cities crowd the holiday get-aways nearby during the week ends. Why should rural tourism not be promoted, for which the state governments must follow pragmatic policies like easy land use change and other clearances. Such propositions would generate a real multiplier for the employment in the rural areasn++ the concept note suggested.

Same is true about schools, hospitals, dispensaries. n++Once the basic infrastructure for a good life is created, the hesitation on the part of doctors and teachers to work in rural areas would also go away. Kerala is a good example of integrating cities with small towns and villages. As they say, there are no villages in Kerala.n++

Services, including construction, real estate, transport contribute near 40 per cent to the countrys GVA and their participation in the rural economy is indispensable though efforts to increase share of manufacturing in the economy must also continue on a parallel track.

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