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Coordinated Patrol and India-Indonesia Bilateral Maritime Exercise Commence at Belawan, Indonesia
Oct 10,2016

In a demonstration of Indias commitment to its ties with Indonesia and to the maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region, Indian Naval Ship Karmuk, an indigenously built missile corvette, based under the Andaman and Nicobar Command, alongwith a Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft, is participating in the 28th India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol and Second Bilateral Maritime Exercise, scheduled from 10-27 Oct 16 in the Andaman Sea.

Defence relations between India and Indonesia have been growing steadily with regular joint activities and interactions between the Armed Forces of the two countries. The two navies have been carrying out Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT) on respective sides of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) twice a year since 2002, with the aim of keeping this vital part of the Indian Ocean Region safe and secure for commercial shipping, International trade and legitimate marine activities. The CORPAT has strengthened understanding and interoperability between the two navies and promoted net maritime security in the region.

The bilateral cooperation has increased significantly with the scheduling of the Second Bilateral Maritime Exercise alongwith the 28th edition of the CORPAT. The Opening Ceremony at Belawan, Indonesia from 10-13 Oct 16 is being attended by Commodore Girish Kumar Garg, the Naval Component Commander of the Tri Service Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) based at Port Blair. The Bilateral Maritime Exercise and the CORPAT would see participation by one warship and one Maritime Patrol Aircraft from each Navy.

These interactions would also provide opportunities for extensive operational and training engagements, and contribute substantively to the maintenance of good order at sea. The Exercise seeks to strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between India and Indonesia, and underscore Indias partnership and solidarity with friendly countries of the region.

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Real estate sentiments sluggish this Diwali: ASSOCHAM survey
Oct 10,2016

Buried under high debt and inability of the developers to complete and hand over the pending projects well beyond the commitments to the hard-pressed consumers, the troubled housing sector is not witnessing any festive activity this year despite the latest cut in the policy interest rate by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), an ASSOCHAM survey has said.

Based on the data and information collected from 250 builders in the Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh and Dehradun, the survey found that the demand for new projects is hard to come while new launches have come to a trickle, marked by lack of consumer confidence and cash deficit of the builders.

Under such a scenario, the demand for new launches, if at all there are, has come down by over 50-60 per cent in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai while it is lesser by about 40-45 per cent in Hyderabad and Chennai. In Bengaluru, the activity has come to a total standstill, first by the demolition drive and then by Cauvery dispute agitation, adds the recent survey.

n++Whatever market is there, it is mainly for the end-users and not for investors, sale has been increased for the smaller units (2 BHK & 3 BHK)n++, reveals the survey.

n++Customers are preferably looking for ready to move in property rather than going for under construction property. But not many properties fall in this categoryn++, adds the Secretary General Mr. D S Rawat.

The resale or secondary market is also dull this festival season, marked by drop of at least 20-25 in prices this festive season. There is very little resale happening especially in the NCR and surrounding areas. Supply is in excess with private small time builders in the unorganised sector flooding the market with units.

The unsold inventory pressure in NCR region is the highest among all other cities. The NCR residential market still has an estimated 1,70,000 units of unsold inventory which is approximately 30% of the units under construction, adds the survey. As per the survey, there are nearly 8-10 million workers engaged in building and other construction activities who face uncertain future if the sector does not revive.

The ticket price 3-bedroom, 2 BHK and single room flats has seen correction by 30% in Noida, 25% in Gurgaon and 15% in some key areas of Delhi, yet the demand stays subdued

All approvals of real estate projects must be accorded in a time bound, accountable and simplifies manner, the ASSOCHAM said suggesting that the process and status of all approvals be made on line so as to bring transparency.

The property analysts have predicted that till March next year the demand for plots, houses and flats may drop by at least 15 to 20%. The housing inventory in the NCR area is huge as a large number of projects are coming up in the peripheral areas, said Mr Rawat.

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Regulators, corporates cannot escape public scrutiny: SEBI chief
Oct 10,2016

As a strong votary of transparency in corporate India, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) U K Sinha today said at an ASSOCHAM event regulators too cannot escape the scrutiny of their working as they are, in several cases, empowered as mini states with vast powers.

Delivering the 19th JRD Tata Memorial Lecture under the aegis of the ASSOCHAM, U K Sinha said, it was time to pause and think whether we are creating too many institutions to ensure accountability or should we aim towards more accountability in more institutions.

He cautioned the large companies as well about the narrative of public accountability now extending to corporates; a phenomenon earlier restricted to politicians and bureaucrats.

He said whenever a large episode of misconduct is detected , a perception gets built about regulatory capture coming in the way of effective action. Giving examples of outcry on ponzy schems, the SEBI Chairman said while a need was felt to further empower the regulators, it is also then incumbent on the regulators to be accountable to Parliament and public. This is all the more true because in several cases in several countries the regulators are given powers equivalent to n++mini states enjoying quasi-judicial powers along with executive powers which in many cases have Parliamentary backing by way of sub-ordinate legislations or rules which are attached to the main laws.

Reminding the corporates of the changing environment where there is more scrutiny, Sinha raised the issue of corporate compensation at the senior levels. Citing global examples, he said companies after companies are paying in exorbitantly to their CEOs even if they are making losses.

In the FTSE 100 companies, the CEOs pay is 180 times more than the average pay of employees. In the USA, the pay of S & P 500 CEO was 204 times more than the median pay of workers in 2015....

In the Indian context, Sinha said the SEBI has noticed and stopped instances where small insignificant private companies were being merged with the listed companies at a huge valuation primarily to provide gain to the promoters at the cost of other shareholders.

However, the SEBI chief pressed for checks and balances to ensure that in the name of accountability the very functioning of the regulators is not throttled. He cited examples how in the course of SEBIs probes into the ponzi schemes, public interest litigations and criminal complaints were filed against the regulator. But, the courts, have played a commendable role in this regard. Courts have shown remarkable maturity and restrain.

Sinha also touched upon the issue of gender sensitivity among the Indian firms which still do not measure up to the global standards despite improvement in the last five years.

Earlier, welcoming the SEBI Chairman, ASSOCHAM President Sunil Kanoria emphasized the need for transparency in functioning of the corporate India. Paying tributes to the legendary JRD Tata, the ASSOCHAM chief said the chamber has been receiving national and international luminaries for the prestigious JRD Tata Memorial Lecture.

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All Lighthouses To Be Solarized by December
Oct 10,2016

The Directorate General of Lighthouse & Lightships (DGLL), a subordinate organization under the Ministry of Shipping, Govt. of India is presently maintaining 193 Lighthouses which provide aids to marine navigation to the mariners transiting in coastal waters of India.

Most of these Lighthouses were operating on the conventional source of energy i.e. Electricity and Diesel Generators which consume fossil fuel and emit high amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) thus increasing greenhouse effect and causing air pollution. Generation of 1 Mega Watt Hour (MWh) power through fossil fuel leads to emission of approximately 900 Kg of Co2. In order to reduce CO2 emission, DGLL has decided to replace the source of energy utilized at lighthouses to renewable source and started harnessing solar energy to operate its lighthouses. Till date 176 Lighthouses have been fully solarized. The Directorate has planned to achieve complete solarization of all the Lighthouses by 31.12.2016. With this complete solarization, approximately 1.5 MWh energy will be generated which will amount to approximately reducing 6000 Kg of greenhouse gases per day.

On achieving complete solarization, all the Lighthouses under DGLL will be operating on Green Energy. This is a step in line with Governments initiative to maximize the use of Green Energy for protection of environment besides making the Lighthouses operate on a reliable, resilient and renewable energy system and reduction of global warming emissions.

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Fixed Term Employment introduced for Apparel Manufacturing Sector- win-win situation for both Employers and Employees
Oct 10,2016

The Fixed Term Employment introduced in Apparel Manufacturing sector in Industrial Employment (Standing Order ) Act vide Notification dated 7 October 2016 of Ministry of Labour and Employment. The decision would facilitate employment of workers in Apparel manufacturing on fixed term basis in the backdrop of seasonal nature of sector and would also ensure same working conditions, wages and other benefits for fixed term employee in the sector as a regular employee. It is thus win - win situation for both employers and employees in Apparel manufacturing sector.

Fixed Term Employment in Apparel and Manufacturing Sector

Introduction

n++ The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 require employers to define conditions of employment in their industrial establishments. The item one of the schedule to the Act classifies the workman (a) Permanent (b) Temporary (c) Apprentice (d) Casual (e) Probationer (f) Badlis.

n++ The list in this schedule is not exhaustive. The nature of industrial establishments may be a factor to decide the classification of the workmen. Example:- a seasonal establishment, intermittent working establishment, work of the establishment.

n++ The Central Government can add any other matter in the schedule and in the rules under the powers given in section 15 of the Act.

n++ Central Government has presently proposed to introduce the concept of Fixed Term Employment for workers in Apparel Manufacturing Sector. The pre-publication notification for comments was issued on 04 August 2016 and was in public domain for 30 days i.e. 04 September 2016 followed by the consultations on 22 September 2016. The final notification is issued today on 7 October 2016.

n++ Concept - The concept of Fixed Term Employment define the tenure of employment as well as other associated conditions of service and remunerations, which are provided to regular employees under various labour laws. Fixed term employment was defined as a workman who is employed on a contract basis for a fixed period. Thus the services of workman will be automatically terminated as a result of non renewal of the contract between the employer and the workman concerned. Separation of service of a workman as a result of non renewal of the contract of employment between the employer and workman concerned shall not be construed as termination of employment.

n++ Objective for permitting Fixed Term Employment in Apparel Manufacturing Sector

1) The seasonal nature of Textile sector results in fluctuation of demand and hence requires flexibility in employing worker.

2) The working conditions in terms of working hours, wages, allowances and other statutory dues of a fixed term employee would be at par with permanent workmen.

3) A fixed term worker will also be eligible for all statutory benefits available to a permanent workman proportionately according to the period of service rendered by him even though his period of employment does not extend to the qualifying period of employment required in the statute.

4) The employer can directly hire a worker for a fixed term without mediation of any contractor.

5) The worker employed for short period will get better working and service conditions as compared to a contract worker.

6) The flexibility would provide flexibility to textile sector in employing workers and hence strengthen and empower the Indian Textile and Apparel sector. It is one of the measures of the approved Textile package for Textile sector on 22 June 2016. . The measures assume significance due also to its potential for social transformation through women empowerment; since 70% of the workforce in the garment industry are women, majority of the new jobs created are likely to go to women.

n++ Impact of inclusion of the term - On the termination of fixed term employment of the workman the workman is not entitled to any notice or pay in lieu thereof. However, by proposed inclusion of the Fixed Term Workman as one of the category of workman in the classification of workman in the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 , the Ministry intends to make such workman on fixed term employment eligible for all statutory benefits available to permanent workman proportionately accordingly to the period of service rendered by him. Even though his period of employment does not extend to the qualifying period of employment required in the statute.

n++ This step would ultimately benefit the workers as their working conditions would be at par with the regular employees including social security and other benefits. It would, on the one hand provide flexibility to the employers and on the other hand improve the working conditions of the workers already working for some fixed tenure only by way of contracts.

n++ It would also provide prescribed format of contract for engaging workers on fixed term employment, thereby avoiding any exploitation of such workers. The inclusion in the IE (SO) Act would define formally the conditions of employment on which the workman would be engaged for Fixed Term.

Conclusion

It is a n++win winn++ situation for both worker and employer as at on the one side it provided flexibility for employing workers as per the demands of the market and on the other hand it ensures that worker hired gets equal benefits and working condition at par with the permanent employee.

Incorporation of Fixed Term Employment in Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946

n++ Concept - The concept fixed term employment define the tenure of employment as well as other associated conditions of service and remunerations, which are provided to regular employees under various labour laws. Fixed term employment was defined as a workman who is employed on a contract basis for a fixed period. Thus the services of workman will be automatically terminated as a result of non renewal of the contract between the employer and the workman concerned. Separation of service of a workman as a result of non renewal of the contract of employment between the employer and workman concerned shall not be construed as termination of employment.

n++ Objectives of Inclusion of the term Fixed Term Employment -

n++ To provide flexibility to the employers in order to meet the challenges of globalization, new practices and methods of doing businesses. The demand is from those sectors where there is fluctuation in demand and hence variation in demand of the labour accordingly. These seasonal demands have to be met with the flexibility in operation to meet the dynamics of the market and hence inclusion of the category of fixed term employment.

n++ Presently, as per Section 2 (bb)(oo) of the ID Act, the workers could be employed on contract basis for some fixed time period and the removal of such workers on termination of contract is not considered as retrenchment. Hence they are not eligible for any notice period or retrenchment compensation as per the ID Act. This indicates that there is an indirect provision of employment of workers for a fixed term, however the service conditions of workers engaged for definite period is not stipulated leading to different treatment for workers on fixed term employment.

n++ Impact of inclusion of the term - On the termination of fixed term employment of the workman the workman is not entitled to any notice or pay in lieu thereof. However, by proposed inclusion of the Fixed Term Workman as one of the category of workman in the classification of workman in the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 , the Ministry intends to make such workman on fixed term employment eligible for all statutory benefits available to permanent workman proportionately accordingly to the period of service rendered by him. Even though his

Gartner Survey Reveals Investment in Big Data Is Up but Fewer Organizations Plan to Invest
Oct 07,2016

Big data investments continue to rise but are showing signs of contracting, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. The survey revealed that 48 percent of companies have invested in big data in 2016, up 3 percent from 2015. However, those who plan to invest in big data within the next two years fell from 31 to 25 percent in 2016.

The online survey was conducted in June 2016 among Gartner Research Circle members. In total, 199 members participated and shared their investment plans.

Investment in big data is up, but the survey is showing signs of slowing growth with fewer companies having a future intent to invest, said Nick Heudecker, research director at Gartner. The big issue is not so much big data itself, but rather how it is used. While organizations have understood that big data is not just about a specific technology, they need to avoid thinking about big data as a separate effort.

Big data is a collection of different data management technologies and practices that support multiple analytics use cases. Organizations are moving from vague notions of data and analytics to specific business problems that data can address. Its success depends on a holistic strategy around business outcomes, skilled personnel, data and infrastructure, added Mr. Heudecker.

Getting Big Data Projects to Production Is a Challenge

While nearly three quarters of respondents said that their organisation has invested or is planning to invest in big data, many remain stuck at the pilot stage. Only 15 percent of businesses reported deploying their big data project to production, effectively unchanged from last year (14 percent).

One explanation for this is that big data projects appear to be receiving less spending priority than competing IT initiatives, said Mr. Heudecker. Only 11 percent of respondents from organisations that have already invested in big data reported that their big data investments were as important, or more important, than other IT initiatives, while 46 percent stated that they were less important.

This could be due to the fact that many big data projects dont have a tangible return on investment (ROI) that can be determined upfront, added Mr. Heudecker. Another reason could be that the big data initiative is a part of a larger funded initiative. This will become more common as the term big data fades away, and dealing with larger datasets and multiple data types continues to be the norm.

A further factor to consider is the lack of effective business leadership or involvement in data initiatives. Too often, pilots and experiments are built with ad-hoc technologies and infrastructure that are not created with production-level reliability in mind.

When it comes to big data, many organisations are still finding themselves at the crafting stage, said Jim Hare, research director at Gartner. Industrialization n++ and the performance and stability guarantees that come with it n++ have yet to penetrate big data thinking.

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Maharashtra becomes 17th State to join UDAY: an overall net benefit of Rs. 9725 crores to accrue to the State
Oct 07,2016

Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Government of Maharashtra and Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution (MSEDCL) under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) at the two-day State Power Ministers Conference in Vadodara today.

Under UDAY, sixteen states/UT have already signed the MoU till date, Maharashtra being the seventeenth. The combined DISCOM debt, including Central PSU dues, that would be restructured in respect of these states is around Rs.2.57 lakh crores, which is around 68% of the total outstanding DISCOM debt as on 30th September, 2015.

An overall net benefit of approximately Rs.9725 crores would accrue to Maharashtra by opting to participate in UDAY, by way of cheaper funds, reduction in AT&C losses, interventions in energy efficiency, coal reforms etc. during the period of turnaround.

Under UDAY, Maharashtra Government has committed to take over 75% of DISCOMs non-capex debt of around Rs.6600 crores during the current year. Balance 25% of such debt remaining with the DISCOM would be converted into Bonds or repriced at cheaper rates. This would reduce the interest burden of the State/DISCOM by Rs.595 crores.

Through compulsory Distribution Transformer metering, consumer indexing & GIS mapping of losses, upgrade/change transformers & meters, smart metering of high-end consumers, feeder audit, among other steps, AT&C losses and transmission losses would be brought down, besides eliminating the gap between cost of supply of power and realisation. The reduction in AT&C losses of MSEDCL to 14.39 % and transmission losses of the State to 3.75% is likely to bring additional revenue of around Rs.2200 crores during the period of turnaround.

While efforts will be made by the State Government and the DISCOM to improve the operational efficiency of the DISCOM, and thereby reduce the cost of supply of power, the Central government would also provide incentives to the DISCOM and the State Government for improving Power infrastructure in the State and for further lowering the cost of power.

The Central schemes such as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), Power Sector Development Fund or such other schemes of Ministries of Power and New & Renewable Energy are already providing funds for improving Power Infrastructure in the State and additional/priority funding would be considered under these schemes, if the State/DISCOM meet the operational milestones outlined in the scheme.

The State shall also be supported through additional coal at notified prices and in case of availability, through higher capacity utilization, low cost power from NTPC and other CPSUs. Other benefits such as coal swapping, coal rationalization, correction in coal grade slippage, availability of 100% washed coal would help the state to further reduce the cost of Power. The State would gain around Rs.4500 crores due to these coal reforms.

Demand Side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient LED bulbs, agricultural pumps, fans & air-conditioners and efficient industrial equipment through Perform, Achieve, Trade (PAT) would help in reducing peak load, flatten load curve and thus help in reducing energy consumption in the State. The gain is expected to be around Rs.2370 crores.

Improvement in operation efficiency would enable the DISCOM to borrow at cheaper rates in future, for their infrastructure development and improvement of existing infrastructure. The gain is expected to be around Rs.60 crores.

The ultimate benefit of signing the MOU would go to the people of Maharashtra. Reduced levels of transmission and AT&C losses would mean lesser cost per unit of electricity to consumers. Further, financially and operationally healthy DISCOM would be in a position to supply more power. Higher demand for power would mean higher Plant Load Factor (PLF) of generating units and therefore, lesser cost per unit of electricity which would again mean lesser cost per unit of electricity to the consumers.

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Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Device Shipments to Decline for Second Year in a Row
Oct 07,2016

Gartner, Inc. said worldwide combined shipments for devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are expected to decline 3 percent in 2016 (See Table 1). This will mark the second consecutive year of decline. The global devices market fell by 0.75 percent in 2015.

The global devices market is not on pace to return to single-digit growth soon, said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. Growth is on pace to remain flat during the next five years. All segments are expected to decline in 2016, except for premium ultramobiles and utility mobile phones (entry level phones), which are expected to show single-digit growth this year.

We expect premium ultramobiles will start benefiting from the collective performance and integration of the latest Intel CPU platform and Windows 10, added Mr. Atwal.

Table 1. Worldwide Devices Shipments by Device Type, 2015-2018 (Millions of Units)

Device Type2015201620172018Traditional PCs (Desk-Based and Notebook)244216205199Ultramobiles (Premium)44496175PC Market288265266274Ultramobiles (Basic and Utility)196177173173Computing Devices Market484442439447Mobile Phones1,9171,8871,9101,933Total Devices Market2,4012,3292,3492,380

Note: The Ultramobile (Premium) category includes devices such as Microsofts Windows 10 Intel x86 products and Apples MacBook Air.

The Ultramobile (Basic and Utility Tablets) category includes devices such as, iPad, iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, Amazon Fire HD, Lenovo Yoga Tab 3, Acer Iconia One

Source: Gartner (October 2016)

PC Market to Bottom Out in 2016 and PC Prices in the UK to Increase Less Than 10 Percent in 2017

The PC market is expected to exhibit an 8 per cent decline in 2016, as the installed base bottoms out and replacement cycle extensions halt. The effect of currency depreciation on the market is diminishing, added Mr. Atwal. The second quarter of 2016 was the first since the second quarter of 2015 least impacted by currency depreciation. Regions such as Western Europe, where the Euro depreciated significantly in 2015 and PC prices increased, finally showed flat market growth (-0.9 percent) in the second quarter of 2016. This follows four consecutive quarters of decline.

If this situation prevails it means that PC sales will bottom out in 2016. However, the PC market in Western Europe remains difficult following the Brexit vote. Device vendors are mitigating the currency depreciation of the pound in two ways n++ first, they are taking advantage of the likelihood of a single-digit decline in PC component costs in 2016, said Mr. Atwal. Second, they will de-feature their PCs to keep prices down. With these changes, Gartner expects PC prices in the UK to increase by less than 10 percent in 2017.

For the PC market to stay on pace for flat growth in 2017, business spending needs to flourish. The inventory of Windows 8 PCs should have been cleared, and large businesses in mature markets are now looking to move to Windows 10 through 2018, added Mr. Atwal. In addition, more affordable hardware and increasingly available virtual reality content (such as games, stories and other entertainment) will enable consumer PC buyers to upgrade in order to experience immersive offerings.

Smartphone Growth to Continue Slowing Down in 2016

Total mobile phone shipments are on pace to decline 1.6 percent in 2016. The smartphone segment continues to grow, albeit more slowly than in previous years, and is expected to reach 1.5 billion units in 2016. This is no surprise; the smartphone market is maturing, and reaching global saturation with phones that are increasingly capable and remain good enough for longer, said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

In 2016, the Android market will continue to be bolstered by Chinese vendors offering more affordable premium devices. Despite the availability of the iPhone 7, Gartner expects a weaker year-over-year volume performance from Apple in 2016, as volumes stabilize after a very strong 2015. As a result, Gartner expects total smartphone market to only increase 4.5 percent with premium smartphones declining 1.1 percent in 2016.

We expect the market for premium smartphones to return to 3.5 per cent growth in 2017, as stronger replacement cycles kick in and in anticipation of a new iPhone next year, which is expected to offer a new design and new features that are attractive enough to convince more replacement buyers, said Ms. Cozza.

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Domestic Natural Gas Price Cut to Hurt Producers Realisation
Oct 07,2016

The 18% gas price reduction by the Government of India to lower revenues for domestic gas producers by around INR20bn during 2HFY17, estimates India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Domestic natural gas price is cut by around 18%, to USD2.50/mmbtu for the period of 01 October 2016-31 March 2017 from the previous price of USD3.06/mmbtu. The price cut by the government is in line with the fall in Henry Hub gas prices over the reference period (July 2015 to June 2016). Prior to this reduction the government had reduced domestic gas prices by 20% in April 2016.

This is the fourth consecutive domestic gas price reduction since the implementation of the domestic gas pricing formula in October 2014. The present gas prices are about 50% lower since the implementation of the gas pricing formula. The average Henry Hub gas prices declined by 15% to USD2.24/mmbtu for the current reference period of July 2015- June 2016 period compared to USD2.62/mmbtu for previous reference period of January 2015-December 2015.

The public sector units, namely Oil India (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) which contribute around 75% of the total domestic gas production will be impacted the most. Despite the decline in sale price, lower costs in terms of rig and vessel rentals will provide some relief to margins in this segment. However, the expected fall in margins is likely to result in a lower investment surplus for future exploration. In the mid-stream segment, Gails (India) (IND AAA/Stable) marketing segment can witness around INR9bn-INR10bn lower trading revenue from the sale of domestic gas during 2HFY17 on account of lower per unit realisation. Given that the current price of domestic gas will be close to the marginal cost of production for most players, a further fall in natural gas prices can lead to losses for these players. Ind-Ra notes there is a possibility for a formula revision or setting up of a floor price by the government to protect the domestic producers.

On the positive side, the end-consumers of compressed natural gas (CNG) and piped natural gas (PNG domestic) can benefit from the downward price revision, provided the benefit of lower domestic gas prices are passed on to the consumers. The revised price will translate into City Gas Distribution (CGD) entities lower costs of around INR1.4-INR1.5 per Standard Cubic Metre (SCM) on gas procurement. The PNG prices have been reduced by INR1/scm and CNG by INR1.4/kg in Delhi, post this gas price revision.

During April 2016-September 2016, the price of alternate fuel - diesel - increased by 8%, thus increasing the fuel competitiveness of CNG. Considering that the pricing power lies with the CGD entities, the quantum of benefit passed on to the consumers can vary across CGD entities, depending on their capex plans and investments surplus targeted by them. Analysing the historical price trends, Ind-Ra expects CGD entities to pass on between 40%-70% of the benefit to the end consumers, which is a price cut of around INR0.5/scm-INR1.0/scm in PNG prices and around INR0.7/kg-INR1.4/kg in CNG prices across CGDs.

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Export of Oilmeals down by 44% during April - September 2016
Oct 07,2016

The Solvent Extractors Association of India has compiled the export data for export of oilmeals for the month of September 2016. The export of oilmeals during September 2016 is reported at 90,907 tons compared to 139,649 tons i.e. down by 35%. The overall export of oilmeals during April- September 2016 is reported at 421,741 tons compared to 749,397 tons during the same period of last year i.e. down by 44% due to lesser availability of oilseeds for crushing and continuous disparity in exporting oilmeals in International Market.

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Stringent law on misleading celeb endorsements: Ram Vilas Paswan
Oct 07,2016

For stricter law on celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements, a proposal to ban is being considered by consumer affairs Ministry, said Ram Vilas Paswan minister for Consumer Affairs at an ASSOCHAM event.

The government will soon bring in stringent laws to curb misleading advertisements and adulteration to guard the consumers interest. New Consumer Protection bill will be passed in coming session of the parliament which will strengthen the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and to check spurious products said Paswan at an ASSOCHAM National Summit & Awards on FMCG.

Paswan also expressed worry over cheap Chinese goods flooding the market and said measures would be taken to check their rampant flow in the country.

He further mentioned that BIS has taken various initiatives under Make in India for standard formulation which includes items which is substandard would be banned.

Chairing the ASSOCHAM meeting, the minister said BIS new Act is being amended comprehensively for the first ever after it being enacted in the year 1986. These amendments will empower the government to bring more products under mandatory certification and these products should have the ISI mark on it.

While addressing the meeting, Paswan said, n++Abroad, I have noticed even Indians do not wish to buy Made in India products. There is an opinion set in the minds that developing countries do not manufacture good quality products. To change this attitude, our industry should comply with quality standards, said Paswan.

Paswan further said that due to poor standards followed while making products; India is lagging behind in the international market despite availability of talented people and cheap labour.

He said, the new consumer protection bill will be passed in coming session of the parliament. He further said that the standing committee has already examined the provisions relating to punishment for endorsing misleading advertisements and those involved in adulteration.

n++Abroad and in the western world, people cannot imagine that there can be food adulteration. Here in India, we cannot imagine food without adulteration, Paswan said.

Industry should come forward and actively promote consumer awareness about food safety, Paswan said.

On the issue of safe drinking water, He said, nobody can drink tap water in Delhi. Delhis water is not safe for drinking, though there are quality standards in place.

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250 markets Connected to e-NAM Platform : Shri Radha Mohan Singh
Oct 07,2016

Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh announced successful completion of e-NAM first phase and launched e-NAM Mobile App.

Radha Mohan Singh announced that most of the implementation issues faced in pilot phase have been addressed and e-NAM platform is connected to 250 markets across 10 States as of now (Andhra Pradesh (12), Chhattisgarh (05), Gujarat (40), Haryana (36), Himachal Pradesh (07), Jharkhand (08), Madhya Pradesh (20), Rajasthan (11), Telangana (44), Uttar Pradesh (67). Union Minister informed that so far, Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for integrating 399 mandis with e-NAM has been received from 14 states and all of them have been approved.

Singh said that the active involvement of all stakeholders, and in particular mandi and marketing board officials; the NAM programme is a success and is going ahead of schedule. Minister is sure that e-NAM will significantly contribute towards enhancing the farmern++n++s income. Agriculture Minister informed that so far, 1,53,992.7 MT of agriculture produce worth Rs. 421 crore has been transacted on e-NAM platform and 1,60,229 Farmers, 46,688 Traders and 25,970 Commission Agents have been registered on the e-NAM platform.

Union Minister said that quality parameters for 69 agricultural and horticultural commodities including cereals, Pulses, Oil seeds, Spices, Fruits and Vegetables have been notified for trading on e-NAM platorm. States have been asked to set up the quality assaying facilities to ensure quality assessment of the farmern++n++s produce in a scientific and professional manner.

Singh said that provision of online payment of the sale proceeds to the farmers is made available in the e-NAM portal and States are requested to encourage direct transfer of sales proceeds to the farmern++n++s bank account. A total number of 585 markets are targeted to be integrated in first phase with e-NAM by March 2018, out of which 400 markets will be integrated by March 2017.

Agriculture Minister said that the issues in hardware and software during implementation of the project have been resolved and a new version of software has been released whereby trading is going on in a stable manner. He informed that the newer versions of software will be released in future as per actual requirements.

Radha Mohan Singh informed that the status of APMC Act reforms regarding e-NAM, carried out by various States/UTs is as under:

n++n++ 17 States and 1 UT have fully / partially modified their APMC Acts. Their names are : Andhra Pradesh, Gurajat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Haryana and Chandigarh (UT).

n++n++ 03 States and 1 UT have APMC Act and they have consented to bring changes in the act which is under process. Their names are: Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Assam and Puducherry.

n++n++ 06 States have APMC Act but no change has been made as yet. Their names are: Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir and Delhi. Out of them, West Bengal has demanded the e-NAM software for online trading.

n++n++ 01 state Sikkim does have APMC Act but is not implemented.

n++n++ 03 States and 04 UTs do not have any APMC Act. Their names are: Bihar, Kerala, Manipur, Andman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep Islands, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. These states have been requested to frame Act/Regulations to enable trading through e-NAM. A meeting with Bihar and Kerala has been scheduled on 14/10/2016 in this regard.

Singh appealed to those states whose APMC Act require complete or partial changes, to join the scheme by reforming their Acts on priority. Union Minister also appealed to those states where APMC Act does not exist, to join the e-NAM scheme by framing necessary act/regulation so that farmers could benefit by way of enhanced income.

Agriculture Minister said that e-NAM will bring forth more profit to farmers, availability of trade at lesser cost to the buyers and development of permanent mandis. It will enable the farmers to have access to the National Market having wide choice.

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Varanasi to get Heritage Walk around Kabir Chaura; 86 sites to be developed under HRIDAY
Oct 07,2016

Ministry of Urban Development has approved projects worth Rs.114 cr under Heritage Infrastructure Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) for improving infrastructure facilities around core heritage sites in five cities of Varnasi, Amritsar, Dwaraka, Puri and Warangal.

Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu has directed the officials of the Ministry and concerned State Governments to ensure implementation of approved projects by March next year.An inter-ministerial HRIDAY National Empowered Committee chaired by Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary(UD) yesterday cleared Detailed Project Reports of these five cities.

An investment of Rs.13.25 cr has been approved for Varanasi for Developing a Heritage Walk around Kabir Chaura and Piplani Katra at a cost of Rs.2.50 cr and developing required infrastructure at 86 historical sites scattered across the city. Kabir Chaura is known as the home of renowned musicians like Kishan Maharaj, Gop Krishan, Samta Prasad and Rajan and Sajan Mishra brothers. Access roads and gallis leading to 86 heritage sites in the city will be improved at a cost of Rs.10.75 cr. Fan++ade improvement, provision of on route amenities and signages, site development etc., will be undertaken. These heritage sites include temples, residences of famous personalities, kunds, parks and palaces.

For Amritsar, nine heritage infrastructure related projects have been approved for implementation with a total investment of Rs.57 cr. These include comprehensive road development and upgradation of 21 major roads leading to the Golden Temple to address congestion at a cost of Rs.21 cr, improving Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama with Rs.50 lakhs, revitalization of historical 40 Khoo (Wells) by providing necessary infrastructure at a cost of Rs.5.00 cr, improving connectivity, street and landscape at Gol Bagh with Rs.5.00 cr, providing a mobility corridor along outer and inner circular roads at a cost of Rs.5.00 cr, providing interpretative signages with censors with Rs.5.35 cr, refitting and upgradation of colonial era building i.e Deputy Commissioners Office that was damaged in a fire at a cost of Rs.2.00 cr, development of an Environmental Park at UBDC canal with Rs.1.00 cr and development of public plaza along southern edge of Rambagh Garden with Rs.1.00 cr.

In Puri, five projects with an investment of about Rs.17.00 cr will be undertaken for revitalization of different heritage zones. These include, landscape development of Shri Jagannath Ballabh Temple at a cost of about Rs.9.00 cr, retrofitting of building facades along Parikrama Marg of the temple with Rs.3.00 cr, improvements at Bada Odiya Matha and Ganga Mata Matha at a cost of Rs.2.00 cr, landscape development along the River Front of Athanarla with Rs.2.00 cr and revival of seven Jagagharas and Ponds at a cost of over Rs.1.00 cr. there are 60 Jagagharas and Akharas in Puri which are over 400 year old and were centres of learning music and martial arts.

The Fort of Warangal in Telangana State will be revived and developed with necessary interventions with Rs.15.30 cr under HRIDAY. Access routes, pathways and entry points will be developed at a cost of Rs.4.17 cr, revival of water bodies and setting up of a sewage treatment plant would be undertaken at a cost of Rs.10.00 cr, public amenities at North Gate and Srungarapu Bavi (well) with Rs.2.15 cr, landscaping along access routes with Rs 0.80 cr and illumination of North Gate, access routes and other areas at a cost of Rs.0.60 cr.

In Dwaraka, Gujarat, Dwarakadhish Temple Square will be developed at a cost of Rs.2.75 cr by providing pedestrian pathway, surface improvement of roads, adding green elements, street furniture, lighting, signages, dustbins, space for vendors etc. The main Processional Street (Darshan Path) will be improve with Rs.7.25 cr by providing parking spaces, pedestrian pathway, public amenities block, repairing o0f Iskcon gate, lighting and signages etc.

HRIDAY is a Central Scheme for which Central Assistance of Rs.500 cr has been provisioned till March,2017. Twelve cities have been included in this mission. Other cities being Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), Badami (Karnataka), Kanchipuram and Vellankini (Tamil Naidu), Ajmer (Rajasthan), Mathura (UP) and Gaya (Bihar).

City Hriday Plans of all the 12 Mission cities have been approved and Detailed Project Reports based on these plans costing over Rs.350 cr have so far been sanctioned for implementation. Remaining will soon be cleared.

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India aggressively pursuing trade prospects with LAC
Oct 07,2016

Indias engagement with LAC (Latin American Countries) has gained further momentum with recent developments that have taken place. India signed an agreement on the expansion of India-Chile PTA in New Delhi on 6th September, 2016. The expanded PTA will have far greater trade coverage in comparison to the agreement signed earlier in March, 2006 as both sides have offered tariff concessions on a number of lines.

In recent years, Trade between India and Peru has been growing. Indias trade with Peru stood at US$ 1,523.35 million during 2015-16. Among the top ten commodities of Indias export to Peru are Motor Vehicle/Cars, Products of Iron and Steel, Cotton Yarn/ Manmade yarn/Fabrics. Drugs Formulations, Iron and Steel, Two and three wheelers, Auto Tyres and Tubes, Bulk Drugs and RMG Cotton including Accessories. The top ten commodities of Indias import from Peru are Bulk Minerals and Ores (under this copper ore is the top most import commodity), Gold (wrought gold), Fertilizers Crude (under this natural calcium phosphate is the topmost import commodity), Zinc and products made of Zinc, Fresh Fruits, Inorganic chemicals, Cocoa Products Finished Leather and Aluminum & Aluminum products.

In order to explore the possibility of a trade agreement with Peru, India has concluded a Joint Study Group report on the feasibility of such a trade agreement during the recent visit of a delegation to Lima, Peru on 26-28 September, 2016. Both sides have agreed to a time frame to carry forward the discussions for negotiating a trade agreement. With the finalization of the report, India will now seek internal approvals of the Government of India for going ahead with the negotiations on a trade agreement which would include trade in goods, trade in services and investment. There is keen interest on the part of Peru also for negotiating a trade agreement at the earliest.

India is also aggressively engaged in the expansion of its Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with MERCOSUR (a Six Country trade bloc with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay as its original members). During the third meeting of the Joint Administrative Committee (JAC) on the expansion of the India-MERCOSUR PTA held on 29th September, 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil, there was expansive discussions on the wish lists which had been exchanged by both sides in July, 2016. Both sides are expected to hold the next round of negotiations early next year. The existing India MERCOSUR agreement was signed in New Delhi on January 25, 2004 which came into effect from 1st June, 2009. This agreement has a limited coverage and contains only 450 tariff lines. Both sides have now agreed to expand to cover up to 2500 tariff lines.

Indias bilateral trade with MERCOSUR was US$ 10081.42 million in 2015-16 as compared to US$ 14,240.46 million in 2014-15 which constitute 37.01% and 39.96% of LAC trade during 2014-15 & 2015-16 respectively. With the expansion of the existing PTA, the bilateral trade is expected to be doubled.

India has held bilateral discussions with Brazil under the institutional mechanism i.e India-Brazil Trade Monitoring mechanism, the 4th meeting of which was held in Brasilia on 30th September, 2016 after a hiatus of more than four years. Both sides have discussed an array of bilateral issues which impede trade between both the countries. During the meeting India highlighted its concerns on issues relating to market access in agriculture, textiles, pharma and services including high tax on import of services to Brazil. Brazil has responded favorably and has assured to address these issues. Collaboration in areas such as auto, food processing, leather and civil aviation were also discussed. Both sides have agreed for discussions on an agreement on social security.

Both sides discussed setting up of the India-Brazil Business Leaders Forum for facilitating interaction and cooperation amongst the private sector.

Brazil is currently the leading trading partner of India in Latin America region. Total Bilateral trade with Brazil stood at US$ 6,690.33 million during 2015-16 and both sides agreed endeavor is to meet a trade target of US$ 15 billion by 2020.

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Global air passenger growth slowed in August 2016: IATA
Oct 06,2016

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for August showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) climbed 4.6% compared to the year-ago period. This represented a slowing from the 6.4% increase recorded in July (revised). August capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 5.8%, and load factor slipped 0.9 percentage points to 83.8%.

Growth in passenger demand dipped to 4.6%. While thats disappointing compared to the previous months performance, it is still healthy growth. And although terrorist attacks in Europe have dampened demand, the impact is ebbing, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATAs Director General and CEO.

International Passenger Markets

August international passenger demand rose 4.7% compared to August 2015. All regions recorded increases, but growth was dominated by airlines in the Middle East. Capacity climbed 6.5%, causing load factor to slide 1.4 percentage points to 83.9%.

Asia-Pacific airlines August traffic climbed 5.6% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity rose 6.8% and load factor slipped down 0.9 percentage points to 81.9%. There are signs of Asian travelers continuing to be put-off by recent terrorism in Europe. Traffic on Europe-Asia routes grew just 1.5% in July, the most recent month for which route-specific figures are available, while international traffic growth on routes within Asia accelerated to 9.9%.

European carriers saw August demand climb 3.3% year-on-year. European traffic continues to be affected by the impact of terrorism, however, there are indications this may be easing. Capacity rose 5.1%, which caused load factor to drop 1.6 percentage points to 86.6%--which still was the highest among regions.

Middle Eastern carriers posted a 10.3% traffic increase in August, while capacity climbed 13.7%, resulting in a 2.5 percentage point fall in load factor to 81.2%.

North American airlines international demand rose 1.8% compared to August a year ago. However, seasonally-adjusted traffic has risen at an annualized rate of 7% since March, supported by transpacific demand and leisure routes to Central America and the Caribbean. Capacity rose 3.8%, causing load factor to drop 1.7 percentage points to 85.3%.

Latin American airlines experienced a 6.7% demand rise compared to the same month last year, helped by strong demand on international routes within the region, spurred in part by the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Capacity increased by 4.0% and load factor rose 2.1 percentage points to 84.0%. Carriers in this region were the only ones to see a rise in load factor compared to the year-ago period.

African airlines traffic climbed 1.8% in August. International growth has tracked sideways since the start of the year, reflecting challenges in the major economies. Capacity rose 3.1%, with the result that load factor slipped 1.0 percentage point to 75.6%, lowest among regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Demand for domestic travel climbed 4.3% in August compared to August 2015, which was slightly exceeded by a 4.4% increase in capacity. Load factor slid 0.1 percentage points to 83.6%. All markets reported demand increases with the exception of Brazil and Russia, with India and China reporting double-digit rises.

Russias domestic traffic fell 2.7% but the failure of Transaero last year has taken significant capacity out of the market, and load factor reached a record high for the month at 86.5%. It was also the highest among the domestic markets tracked by IATA.

US airlines domestic traffic climbed just 1% year-on-year in August and traffic has trended sideways in seasonally-adjusted terms since late 2015.

Lower airfares are a major factor sustaining demand for air travel. And airline profitability is stronger than ever as a result of a better industry structure and efficiency gains. But the lingering impact of terrorist attacks in Europe earlier in the year reminds us that the aviation industry is vulnerable to many external factors beyond its control. The risks - including the normal ups and downs of the business cycle - wont go away. The industry has improved resilience along with its profitability. That will be critical to responding quickly should the business environment change, said de Juniac.

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