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Cabinet approves amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014
Oct 05,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to introduce official amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.

The HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014 has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances. The Bill seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints. The Bill also aims to enhance access to health care services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.

The Bill lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited. These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to:

(i) employment,

(ii) educational establishments,

(iii) health care services,

(iv) residing or renting property,

(v) standing for public or private office, and

(vi) provision of insurance (unless based on actuarial studies). The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.

Every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them. The Bill also provides for Guardianship for minors. A person between the age of 12 to 18 years who has sufficient maturity in understanding and managing the affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family shall be competent to act as a guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age to be applicable in the matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment, amongst others.

The Bill requires that No person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order. Establishments keeping records of information of HIV positive persons shall adopt data protection measures. According to the Bill, the Central and State governments shall take measures to:

(i) prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS,

(ii) provide anti-retroviral therapy and infection management for persons with HIV or AIDS,

(iii) facilitate their access to welfare schemes especially for women and children,

(iv) formulate HIV or AIDS education communication programmes that are age appropriate, gender sensitive, and non-stigmatizing, and

(v) lay guidelines for the care and treatment of children with HIV or AIDS. Every person in the care and custody of the state shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services. The Bill suggest that cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed off by the court on a priority basis and duly ensuring the confidentiality.

There are no financial implications of the Bill. Most of the activities are being already undertaken or can be integrated within the existing systems of various Ministries under training, communication and data management, etc. The Bill makes provision for appointment of an ombudsman by State Governments to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and penal actions in case of non-compliance. The Ombudsman need not be a separate entity, but any existing State Government functionary can be deputed or given additional charge.

There are approximately 21 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India. Even though the prevalence of HIV is decreasing over the last decade, the Bill would provide essential support to National AIDS Control Programme in arresting new infections and thereby achieving the target of Ending the epidemic by 2030 according to Sustainable Development Goals.

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Cabinet accords permission to HLL Lifecare, to sub-lease 330.10 acres of Government land at Tamil Nadu for setting up Medipark
Oct 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to M/s. HLL Lifecare, a Mini Ratna PSU under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to sub- lease 330.10 acres of land at. Chengalpattu, located in the outskirts of Chennai, to setup a medical devices manufacturing park (Medipark) through a special purpose Vehicle. The shareholding of HLL in the project would be above 50%.

The Medipark project will be the first manufacturing cluster in the medical technology sector in the country, envisaged to boost the local manufacturing of hi-end products at a significantly lower cost, resulting in affordable healthcare delivery, particular in diagnostic services to a large section of people. The proposed Medipark would contribute to the development of medical devices and technology sector and allied disciplines in the country, which is still at a nascent stage besides generating employment and give a boost to the governments Make in India Campaign.

Medipark will be developed in phases, spread over seven years for completion. In the first phase, physical infrastructure will be developed and plots will be leased from third year onwards. Knowledge management center will be developed in the second phase, with grants and assistance from departments, which funds similar initiatives. HLL will sublease the land to investors, through a transparent bidding process to investors desirous to set up manufacturing units for Medical equipment and devices. In the initial phase, the land cost to the qualifying entrepreneurs from Medical Device and Equipment, Manufacturing Industry will be at a subsidized rate so as to attract others and the rate will go up gradually as the demand picks up. Thus the Medipark project will play an important role in enhancing quality health care delivery in India.

The project will reduce the dependence on imports and create a strong base for the growth of indigenous and domestic industry by providing access to state of art infrastructure and technology. The domestic manufacturing of medical devices and equipment shall not only usher in a regime of assured and affordable health care delivery but also deepen and strengthen the penetration of quality health care services.

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Cabinet approves transfer of two acres of Indian Agricultural Institute land to Veterinary Council of India
Oct 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal for transfer two acres of land from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi to the Veterinary Council of India (VCI) on lease basis for a period of 99 years at a total lease rent of Rs.8,01,278/- @ Rs. 1 per sq. meter per year.

The VCI will expand its activities related to upgradation of skill of in-service Veterinary professionals by conducting short courses on latest update in research areas of Animal Sciences. After establishing the facilities, VCI will start additional activities and benefits passed to rural population in the country which will spur economic growth and employment generation in the country.

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Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding with the African Asian Rural Development Organization in the field of rural development
Oct 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) for capacity building programmes in the field of rural development.

The MoU for the triennium 2015 - 2017 is being signed under which capacity building programmes for AARDO member countries will be organized every year during the triennium at various Institutions of Excellence in India such as National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD & PR), institutions governed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and others. The duration of each training programme shall be of two to three weeks. The Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development Management Course at NIRD & PR under this scheme is for one year.

Background:

The AARDO, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, is an autonomous, inter-Governmental organization established in 1962 with the objective of promoting cooperation among the countries of the African - Asian Region in the direction of eradicating thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty in the region. India is one of the Founder Members of the Organization and is the largest contributor in terms of membership contribution of US$ 141,100 apart from contributing by way of providing 70 fully paid training scholarships for Human Resource Development Programme under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) to the Organization. India has also provided a building for housing the AARDO Secretariat in Delhi and considerable financial assistance is given to AARDO for maintenance of the building. AARDO currently has 31 countries of the African - Asian Region under its fold.

Since the year 2009, India is continuing to provide an Additional Contribution of US$ 600,000 to AARDO for each triennium 2009-2011 to expand its scale and scope of the Capacity Building Programmes of AARDO for the benefit of Member Countries

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and European Union on water cooperation
Oct 05,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the signing of MoU between India and European Union in the field of water resources.

The MoU envisages strengthening the technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and the European Union in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit. It provides technical exchange on water issues, including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.

The MoU aims to identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences and cooperation could be mutually beneficial to strengthen and further develop cooperation between India and the European Union in the field of water management. It envisions a more sustainable management of water resources in India with an objective of tackling the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate. A Joint Working Group shall be formed to monitor the activities to be carried out in fulfillment of the MoU.

Background

The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been envisaging bilateral cooperation with other countries in water resources development and management through sharing of policy and technical expertise, conducting of training courses, workshops, scientific and technical symposia, exchange of experts and study tours. Keeping in view the success of the European Union in distribution of water resources, water pricing, water use efficiency by encouraging the changes in agricultural practices necessary to protect water resources and quality, such as switching to less water-demanding crops, etc., it has been decided to have an agreement with Israel to benefit from their experience and expertise. The EU States have adopted water pricing policies to provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently thereby contributing to environmental objectives.

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Centre approves a grant of Rs. 515 Crores for the development of Sagar Port Project in West Bengal
Oct 05,2016

The Central Government has given in principle approval to a grant of Rs. 515 crores to make the development of the proposed Sagar Port project in West Bengal financially viable. This is part of the continuous efforts by the Ministry of Shipping during the last two years for the development of this port. A Special Purpose Vehicle, Bhor Sagar Port Limited (BSPL) has been incorporated for the implementation of the project, with Kolkata Port Trust holding 74% equity and the Government of West Bengal holding 26% equity. IIT, Madras has been engaged to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the port, involving studies for shore-protection, land reclamation and physical modeling for use of dredge material. The work of preparing the DPR is underway.

Work is also underway for developing port connectivity. A road-cum-rail bridge is proposed over the river Muriganga to connect the Sagar island to the mainland. National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) has prepared the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for this road-cum-rail bridge. The estimated cost of the bridge is Rs.1822 crores. Further, the connectivity of this road-cum-rail bridge to the National Highways network and the railway network has also been taken up in right earnest. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has agreed, in- principle, to take up widening of NH-117 to a four-lane road from Kakdwip to Joka and up to the rail-cum-road bridge to the Sagar Island. The Railway Board has sanctioned a survey for determining the alignment to connect the Port with the mainland rail network.

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Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) reduces policy repo rate by 25 bps to 6.25%
Oct 04,2016

On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation at its meeting today, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to:

n++ reduce the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 6.5 per cent to 6.25 per cent with immediate effect.

Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 6.75 per cent.

The decision of the MPC is consistent with an accommodative stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 5 per cent by Q4 of 2016-17 and the medium-term target of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The main considerations underlying the decision are set out in the statement below

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Appetite for Bonds to Hold Up; Money Market Spreads to Stay Steady
Oct 04,2016

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) says that attractive yields encouraged high-rated corporates to borrow directly from bond markets during June-August 2016, bypassing conventional bank financing due to elevated and sticky lending rates. As the issuances of state development loans (SDLs) increase in 2H and states explore funding plans across the yield curve, corporate bonds will be impacted by the trends in and quantum of SDL issuances. Proactive debt management by states will expand investors options and enhance overall competitiveness, given the top-rated bonds are presently trading at a spread of mere 20bp-30bp over comparable SDLs.

Appetite for Bonds to Hold Up: On the investors side, banks and mutual funds emerged as the largest investors - while foreign portfolio investors interest was tepid. Despite the limited room for a fall in rates hereon, appetite for corporate bonds could remain in place because: (1) the Reserve Bank of Indias purchase of G-sec through open market operations would free up appetite for other fixed income instruments (2) the falling term structure of rates in a slow growth environment will encourage investors to seek higher yields, nudging them to gradually explore alternatives down the credit curve.

Masala Bonds Offer Funding Diversification: With marquee issuers testing the masala bond market and RBIs recent proposal allowing banks to access this route for Basel III capital, the initial success of masala bonds is likely to encourage other domestic top-rated issuers to explore this route. Beyond the top issuers, however, the market for masala bonds is unlikely to pick up in a hurry.

Commercial Papers (CPs) Preferred Mode for Working Capital Funding: A faster and smoother transmission of falling rates in market-linked instruments than in loan products catalysed shift to CP market - a trend that is likely to persist in the near term. With the institutionalisation of a predictable liquidity framework, however, money market spreads are unlikely to change in the near term.

Ind-Ra presents its second edition of Indian Corporate Debt Market Tracker - a publication aimed at presenting a complete picture of developments in the domestic primary bond market in terms of sectoral composition, rating mix and commercial paper issuance trends. The study pertains to the June to August 2016 period, unless otherwise specified. The study has been conducted based on the data obtained from Prime Database and pertains to the private placement of corporate bonds. The actual issuance amount may vary.

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First MPC Policy to Set the Tone for Debt and FX
Oct 04,2016

The Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) policy communique will be more critical than its rate action for the market to ascertain the future path of interest rates, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The rupee will stay firm and could trade at 66.35/USD-66.85/USD (66.61/USD on 30 September) throughout the week, while the new 10-year G-sec yield trading range could be at 6.72%-6.85% (6.82% on 30 September).

Communication from RBI and MPC to be Supportive: Domestic bond yields appear to have factored in a rate cut of 25bp in the run up to the policy through the past week. Markets will look for clarity over a few issues: (1) the strategy of the newly-appointed RBI Governor and monetary policy committees (MPC) action on interest rates, (2) the stance and strategy of the RBI and MPC on liquidity, (3) the real interest rate trajectory and (4) MPCs take on the system-based rate setting approach.

Fluctuations in System Liquidity to Dominate: The system may exhibit frictional fluctuations in core liquidity. Ind-Ras estimates indicate that cash in circulation will increase by around 0.4% of NDTL, draining the interbank system. With the current surplus in system liquidity and RBIs proactive liquidity management, the agency does not envisage any pressure on overnight rates other than frictional volatilities. At the same time, further softening of money market instruments appears limited.

Rupee Volatility May Resurface: The rupee has remained steady barring weaknesses due to intensified tension at Indias international border. The rupee is likely to remain volatile through October. For this week, the rupee would largely be driven by sentiment in equity market as well as trade flows.

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Government IT Spending in India to Reach US$ 7.2 Billion in 2016: Gartner
Oct 04,2016

The government in India is on pace to spend US$ 7.2 billion on IT products and services in 2016, an increase of 2.4% over 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. This forecast includes spending on internal services, software, IT services, data center, devices and telecom services. Government comprises state and local governments and national government.

IT services (which includes consulting, software support, business process outsourcing, IT outsourcing, implementation, and hardware support) is expected to grow 9.3% in 2016 to reach US$ 1.8 billion - with the business process outsourcing sub-segment growing 21%.

Telecom services will be a US$ 1.6 billion market, with the mobile network services sub-segment recording the fastest growth with 5.2% in 2016 to reach US$ 909 million.

Government spending on software will total US$ 885 million in 2016, a 4.5% increase from 2015, said Moutusi Sau, principal research analyst at Gartner. The software market will be led by growth in applications.

Internal services will growth 5.8% in 2016 to reach US$ 1.5 billion. Internal services refer to salaries and benefits paid to the information services staff of an organization. The information services staff includes all employees that plan, develop, implement and maintain information systems.

The e-governance initiatives to simplify digital channels and data-driven initiatives are driving investments in the government and are anticipated to grow through 2020. The Digital India initiatives are making government processes streamlined and integrating the data repositories, said Ms. Sau.

Further information on government sector IT spending is available for Gartner clients in the report, Forecast: Enterprise IT Spending for the Government and Education Markets, Worldwide, 2014-2020, 2Q16 Update. The forecasts provide total enterprise IT spending, including internal spending and multiple lines of detail for spending on hardware, software, IT services, and telecommunications for vertical industries and 43 countries within seven geographies.

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More than 3740 MT pulses procured from farmers during ongoing Kharif season
Oct 04,2016

The Government agencies have procured 3740.47 MT pulses as on 02 October 2016 during ongoing Kharif Marketing Season (KMS).

The Central Government has directed FCI and NAFED to procure Kharif pulses from the farmers to ensure MSP for their crops. The agencies have set up 417 procurement centres in pulses producing states to ensure their reach to the farm gates for procurement of Moong and Urad. More centres will be set up if required on the arrival of Tur crop.

So far, FCI has procured 1075.34 MT and NAFED 2665.13MT pulses since the arrival of Kharif pulses during ongoing KMS 2016-17.

The Government has set up the procurement target of 50,000 MT Kharif pulses during current KMS for its buffer stock.

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Minister of Railways Modifies Senior Citizens Concession Rules
Oct 04,2016

Ministry of Railways has decided to grant concession only to senior citizens of Indian Nationality, permanently residing in India.

It has been clarified that Senior Citizen concession shall not be admissible to the senior citizen of foreign nationals & NRIs.

The revised rule for concession to Senior Citizen should be as under:

Senior Citizen-

Existing Rule: Male Senior Citizen of the age of 60 years and above and 58 years & above in case for women senior citizen.

A Senior Citizen of Indian Nationality, permanently residing in India of the age of 60 years and above for Men Senior citizen and 58 years and above in case of Women Senior Citizen shall only be eligible for concession in passenger fare.

This has been come into effect from 29th September 2016.

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Government unveils sustainable Urban Development strategy for next 20 years
Oct 04,2016

The Government today made public the Urban Development strategy for the next 20 years intending to give a big push to use growing urbanization for rapid economic development while at the same time committing itself to address issues of sustainable development and climate change. Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu released India Habitat III-National Report ahead of the UN Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador late this month where a global New Urban Agenda for the next 20 years is going to be adopted.

Speaking on the occasion of World Habitat Day, Shri Naidu said n++The challenge is about ensuring sustainable development while taking advantage of economic growth that results from rapid urbanization in the country. For long, urbanization has been looked at from the limited perspective of providing basic services. But our contemporary response shall be wide ranging aiming at serving larger macro-economic transformational goals together with meeting local priorities. We need to go for a big push to harness fully the potential of urbanizationn++.

Stating that cities need to be made efficient, productive, inclusive, safe and sustainable, Shri Naidu said the agenda for the next two decades proposed in the National Report will be ensuring economic growth and productivity, improving quality of life and importantly, addressing issues of inclusivity, sustainability and climate change.

Elaborating on the strategy for transforming urban India, the Minister said it will be achieved through elimination of barriers to the flow of factors of production like capital, land and labour, development of rural and urban areas in a synergetic manner adopting a regional planning approach, promoting inclusivity by ensuring urban services to all, sustainable urban planning, empowering municipalities to improve governance and deal with exclusion issues, housing for all urban poor and ensuring social justice and gender equity.

Shri Naidu said that the outcomes of new urban agenda based on sustainable urban planning would include reducing water and electricity use by 50% from that of normal use, enabling over 60% of urban travel by public transport, generating half of power from renewable sources, promoting walking and cycling for last mile connectivity, compact and cluster urban development, promoting natural drainage patterns, reducing waste generation of all kind, promoting greenery and public places etc.

Referring to India ratifying Paris Agreement on Climate Change yesterday, Shri Naidu said It is an eloquent testimony of Indias commitment to sustainable developmentn++.

Referring to the theme of this years Word Habitat Day of Housing at Centre, Shri Naidu informed that under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) launched in June last year, construction of 10,10,424 houses for urban poor has been approved which is close to 10.30 lakh houses approved during the nine years of JNNURM during 2005-14. An investment of Rs.59,771 cr has been approved with Central Assistance of Rs.14,955 cr, he said.

Shri Naidu further said that new urban missions launched over the last two years marked a paradigm shift in the countrys approach to urban development and were aimed at promotion and development of urban human settlements as inclusive and sustainable entities.

Minister of State for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri Rao Inderjit Singh and Secretary(HUPA) Dr.Nandita Chatterjee also spoke on the occasion.

Differently abled children who have won in the painting competitions organized on the theme of World Habitat Day were felicitated by the Ministers.

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DoNER Ministry proposes revised guidelines for Northeast projects
Oct 04,2016

The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh announced in Guwahati today that a new revised guidelines will be prepared by the Ministry of DoNER with the objective of expediting development projects in Northeast by simplifying procedures to avoid delay and at the same time bring in more transparency.

At a joint meeting of Ministry of DoNER and Government of Assam, Dr Jitendra Singh disclosed that judicious time-bound planning and monitoring of projects using Space technology, satellite imaging and IT tools like Portal and App will be put to optimum use to avoid undue delays. At the same time, he said, use of Space technology can bring in more transparency and authenticity in Utilisation Certificates (UCs) submitted for various projects.

Emphasising on the completion of the ongoing projects without resorting to parking of funds, Dr Jitendra Singh made it clear, no fresh sanction for new projects will normally be issued if unspent balance of the State is more than 1.5 times of the normative allocation of the State on account or Utilisation Certificates (UCs) due is more than 5 per cent of the total release. The introduction of online submission of documents should leave no excuse for delay in file work, he added.

Dr Jitendra Singh also advised the State Governments to prepare Department Project Reports (DPRs) and get them vetted techno-economically and recommended from SLEC in order to avoid delay.

Lauding the innovative and fast track approach adopted by the Ministry of DoNER, Dr Jitendra Singh said that there has been a substantial jump in the release of funds and submission of UCs in the last two and a half years in which a total of Rs.252.54 crores has been released. Citing the figures, he said, in 2014-15, when the present Government took over, a total of Rs. 60.46 crores was released for NLCPR projects in whole of the year while in the current financial year of 2016-17, in the first 6 months itself, Rs. 92.67 crore has already been released.

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India Post Payments Bank starts recruitment
Oct 03,2016

India Post Payments Bank, IPPB has started its recruitment drive with the release of the advertisement for the post of the Chief Executive Officer/ Managing Director, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), other CXOs who will be heading its Operations, Risk and Compliance, Finance, HR & Administration and Sales and Marketing Departments. It has also advertised for some contractual positions across multiple Departments. Regular recruitment for other positions across scale I-VII will also be announced in the coming weeks. IPPB has also called for deputations from Public Sector Banks for some corporate HQ positions and will shortly be seeking deputations from banks, post office & other Government Departments for its branch locations. IPPB plans to recruit about 3,500 professionals in the coming months. Details are available on the India Post website.

IPPB will be headquartered in New Delhi and plans to launch 650 branches across the country by the next year. The India Post Payments Bank will leverage the widespread reach and the trust that the Post office enjoys in the minds of the citizen to truly drive financial inclusion.

With all 1.54 lakh Post offices, including 1.39 lakh rural post offices as its access points and 650 Payments bank branches in district Headquarter locations, it will be the most accessible bank in the world in terms of reach. It will deploy state of the art technology to make banking both simple and convenient to its customers. IPPB calls upon dedicated and committed professionals who would want to be part of the journey to create a national financial architecture which will connect every citizen with the financial services that they need to access.

It may be recalled that the India Post Payments Bank Limited has received the Certificate of Incorporation from the Registrar of Companies, Ministry of Corporate Affairs on 17th August, 2016 under the Companies Act 2013. This would be the first PSU under the Department of Posts. This has happened in the wake of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modis Independence Day address, raising the expectations of the people from the soon to be set up India Post Payments Bank. With this move the Department of Posts has cleared an important milestone on this journey.

The Department of Posts is expected to complete the roll out of its branches all over the country by September 2017. This could be the fastest roll out for a bank anywhere in the world.

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