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Create 11 lakhs new jobs in five years to reinvigorate Punjab economy: ASSOCHAM
Jan 13,2017

Punjab holds significant potential to create over 11 lakhs additional jobs from the current workforce of about 18.5 lakhs between the age of 15-30 years to attract more investments and attain double digit growth during the course of next five years, apex industry body ASSOCHAM said today.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) Special Task Force on Punjab has formulated a n++Sustainable Action Plann++ to achieve double digit growth on a sustainable basis to help the state to become one of the front ranking states in the country.

According to the paper, about 18.5 lakhs people are already a part of the workforce between the age group of 15-30 years. The current level of workforce participation rate stands at 35.7 percent and to achieve a similar rate an additional 11 lakhs jobs will need to be created in the next five years. The effective implementation of the investment projects holds key to growth of industry sector that will in turn help in creating lakhs of fresh job opportunities for 35.7 per cent of youth population that forms the workforce in the state.n++

As on 2015-16, the state has attracted Rs. 1.98 lakh crore outstanding investments and recorded a sharp deceleration over the years. The states outstanding investment growth rate has declined from the peak level of 91.0 percent in 2007-08 to -10.5 percent in 2015-16. ASSOCHAM suggest that the newly formed government must look at this on priority basis which will help accelerate investment activities in the state as well as encourage private sector to invest in the state.

n++The state has potential for agriculture and allied sector but the sector growth rate has recorded significant deceleration. The service sector has been the largest contributor of the state economy but last four years have witnessed significant moderation in its growth rate as well. Therefore, it is necessary that state concentrates on the corrective measure to revive the sectors. The government must also ensure that growth is job-augmenting, rural-oriented and participatory in nature,n++ noted the paper titled Action agenda for new government of Punjab, that was released by ASSOCHAM in Chandigarh today.

The states overall economic growth rate reached its lowest level from 10.2 percent in 2006-07 to 4.9 percent in 2014-15. In 2015-16, it witnessed a marginal improvement in its overall economic growth to 5.96 percent as compared to previous year growth rate. The states contribution to Indias economy has declined from 3.3 percent in 2004-05 to 2.9 percent in 2015-16.

The services sector growth rate has increased from 6.6 percent in 2005-06 to reach its peak level of 11.8 percent in 2011-12 thereafter it has recorded a downfall. In 2015-16, service sector gross value added growth rate is 6.3 percent, adds the paper.

Punjab is the eleventh largest state in India in terms of number of unregistered MSMEs (Micro Small and Medium Enterprise) and tenth largest state in terms of registered MSMEs. The states unregistered MSMEs account for 4.9 percent of Indias unregistered MSMEs and registered MSMEs account for 3.08 percent of Indias MSMEs. The MSMEs industry generates significant employment opportunities in Punjab. Unregistered MSMEs industry generates 14.16 lakh employments and registered MSMEs industry generates 4.16 lakh employments, highlights the paper.

On the industrial front, Punjab has recorded a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 7.5% during 2004-05 to 2014-15. The states industrial sector contributes 27.0 percent of states economy in 2014-15 which was 24.7 percent in 2004-05. According to the census 2011, workforce dependent on industry is 3.9 percent of the total workforce in the state which was 3.7 percent in 2001, adds the paper.

Agriculture sector has remained the engine of economic growth in Punjab but sustainability of growth of the agriculture sector is under question. On the one side, the agriculture sector is turning less remunerative compared to the early green revolution period and on the other, natural resource constraint such as degradation of soil health and dramatically falling underground water table is increasingly becoming more severe. The sector has registered a compound annual growth rate of 1.6 percent during 2004-05 to 2014-15 that is worse than all India. The performance indicates that states agriculture sector is not operating at its potential level.

The states agriculture & allied sector growth rate is quite uneven over the years and has recorded sharp fluctuation. The sectors performance is indicating that the state has recorded a negative growth of 0.3 percent in 2009-10 and 0.5 percent in 2014-15. In 2015-16, agriculture & allied sector performance (GVA at 2011-12 base) is recorded at 5.2 percent.

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Food commodity prices fall for fifth year in a row in 2016
Jan 12,2017

Prices of major food commodities declined for the fifth year in a row in 2016, averaging 161.6 points for the year as a whole, some 1.5% below their 2015 levels.

Bumper harvests and prospects for staple cereals offset upward pressure on FAOs Food Price Index from tropical commodities such as sugar and palm oil, where production was impacted by El Nino.

In December 2016, the Index averaged nearly 172 points, unchanged from November.

The FAO Food Price Index is a trade-weighted index tracking international market prices for five key food commodity groups: major cereals, vegetable oils, dairy, meat and sugar.

2016 was marked by a steady decline in cereal prices, which fell 9.6% from 2015 and were down 39% from their 2011 peak. At the same time, sugar and vegetable oil prices rose over the year by 34.2% and 11.4%, respectively.

Economic uncertainties, including movements in exchange rates, are likely to influence food markets even more so this year, said FAO senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian.

FAOs Cereal Price Index, largely stable since September, increased 0.5% in the month of December, with rice and maize quotations firming up while larger-than-expected production estimates in Australia, Canada and the Russian Federation led to lower wheat prices.

FAOs Vegetable Oil Price Index rose 4.2% from November, capping a double-digit annual gain to reach its highest level since July 2014. Both palm oil and soy oil quotations rose, the former due to low global inventory levels and tight supplies, the latter on the prospect of rising use in the biodiesel sectors in North and South America.

The FAO Dairy Price Index also rose, by 3.3%, from November, due primarily to higher prices for butter, cheese and whole milk powder and restrained output in the European Union and Oceania.

The FAO Sugar Price Index, while up almost a third over the year, declined 8.6% in the last month of 2016. The sharp fall was mainly driven by an ongoing weakening of the Brazilian Real against the U.S. dollar, along with a reported 18% jump in expected production in the Centre South, Brazils main sugarcane-growing region.

The FAO Meat Price Index declined 1.1% from its revised November level. Its average value in 2016 was 7% below that of 2015, due mainly to falls in the international prices of bovine and poultry meats.

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Industrial production jumps 5.7% in November 2016
Jan 12,2017

Indias industrial production surged at 13-months high pace of 5.7% in November 2016 over November 2015, snapping 1.8% fall recorded in October 2016. The manufacturing sectors production jumped 5.5%, while mining output rebounded 3.9% after three months of decline, contributing to the increase in industrial production. Further, electricity generation also moved up at seven-month high pace of 8.9% in November 2016.

As per the use-based classification, the basic goods output improved 4.7% in November 2016 over a year ago, while the output of intermediate goods moved up 2.7%. The consumer goods output also moved up 5.6%. Within consumer goods, the production of consumer durables increased 9.8%, while that of consumer non-durables also gained 2.9% in November 2016. However, the output of capital goods zoomed 15% in November 2016, while snapping consistent sharp decline for last 12 straight months.

The IIP growth in October 2016 has been revised marginally upwards to (-) 1.8% in the first revision compared with (-) 1.9% reported provisionally. Meanwhile, the growth in August 2016 is unchanged at (-) 0.7% at the final revision from first revision as well as its provisional figure.

In terms of industries, sixteen out of the twenty two industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth during the month of November 2016 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year. The industry group Radio, TV and communication equipment & apparatus has shown the highest positive growth of 32.2%, followed by 23.2% in Electrical machinery & apparatus as well as in Motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers. On the other hand, Furniture; manufacturing has shown the highest negative growth of (-) 16.5% followed by (-) 5.2% in Office, accounting and computing machinery and (-) 3.2% in Tobacco products.

Some important items showing high positive growth during the current month over the same month in previous year include Cable, Rubber Insulated 185.0%, Tractors complete 95.0%, Telephone instruments including mobile phone and accessories 42.8%, Passenger cars 29.5%, Aviation Turbine Fuel 28.3%, Plastic Machinery including Moulding Machinery 24.1% and Sugar 21.2%.

Some important items that have registered high negative growth include H R Sheets (-) 49.7%), Kerosene (-) 35.7%, Molasses (-) 26.2%, Gems and Jewellery (-) 25.4%, Polypropylene (including co-polymer) (-) 23.1% and Sugar Machinery (-) 20.4%.

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CPI inflation dips to 25 months low of 3.4% in December 2016
Jan 12,2017

The all-India general CPI inflation dipped to 25-months low of 3.41% in December 2016 (new base 2012=100), compared with 3.63% in November 2016. The corresponding provisional inflation rate for rural area was 3.83% and urban area 2.90% in December 2016 as against 4.13% and 3.13% in November 2016. The core CPI inflation declined to 4.81% in December 2016 from 4.90% in November 2016. The cumulative CPI inflation was nearly flat at 4.85% in April-December 2016 compared with 4.79% in April-December 2015.

Among the CPI components, inflation of food and beverages declined to 1.98% in December 2016 from 2.56% in November 2016 contributing to the fall in CPI inflation. Within the food items, the inflation eased for Vegetables to -14.59% , Pulses and products -1.57% , Meat and fish 4.79% , Spices 6.06% and Sugar and Confectionery 21.06% . The inflation also eased for Egg 6.41% , Prepared meals, snacks, sweets etc. to 5.64% and Milk and products 4.40% On the other hand, inflation moved up for Oils and fats 2.86% and Cereals and products 5.25% in December 2016.

The inflation for housing eased to 4.98% , while that for miscellaneous items also fell to 4.73% in December 2016. Within the miscellaneous items, the inflation for Personal care and effects plunged to 6.42% , and Health 4.45% , while moved up for Household goods and services to 4.45% , Education 5.47% and Transport and communication 4.04% in December 2016.

The inflation for clothing and footwear eased marginally to 4.88% in December 2016, while the CPI inflation of fuel and light surged to 3.77% in December 2016.

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Demonetization resulted in decline in Terror Funding, Hawala Trade, Human Trafficking, says Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
Jan 12,2017

Union Law, Justice and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said the governments November 8 decision of demonetization had resulted in sharp decline in terror funding, hawala trade, supari killings and human trafficking, particularly of young girls as sex slaves, mainly from Nepal and the North East.

Indicating that the government would not hesitate to take steps to widen the tax base, he said that development was not possible without enlarging the tax kitty. ``There is only about Rs. Five lakh crore in the kitty of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for development and it needs to grow, he said.

Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Aadhar enabled bank payments through smart phone would prove to be a ``game changer and a tool of empowerment. He said that out of 125 crore people only 3.7 crore pay taxes and 99 lakh file Income Tax returns but have no taxable income, two crore people show annual income of Rs. 6 lakh and only 24 lakh have an annual income of Rs. 10 lakh and above.

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Since 2014, a total amount of 409.06 lakh has been sanctioned for implementing the schemes on coconut in Bihar by the Coconut Development Board: Shri
Jan 12,2017

Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that Central Government is bound to promote the coconut cultivation and related activities in Bihar. Shri Singh told that since 2014 a total amount of Rs 409.06 lakhs has been sanctioned for implementing the schemes on Coconut cultivation in Bihar. Union Agriculture Minister said this on the occasion of Foundation Stone laying ceremony of Farmers Training Centre and Regional Office building at Patna on the 37th Foundation day of Coconut Development Board. Coconut Development Board was established on 12 January 1981.

Union Agriculture Minister told that Regional Office of the Coconut Development Board was shifted to Guwahati, Assam from Patna, Bihar on the basis of recommendations of a committee constituted under the chairmanship of ICAR in 2009. A central team was constituted by the Central Government focussing on the productivity of coconut in Bihar. This team has recommended to open a new and fourth Regional Office of the Board at Patna in place of State Centre Patna which was agreed upon by the Coconut Development Board in its 119th Board meeting held on 30 January 2015.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh also said that India is the global leader in production and productivity of coconut. Coconut is cultivated in 16 states and three union territories in an extent of 2.14 million ha. The crop sustains more than one crore farmer families of the country through cultivation, processing, marketing and trade related activities. In Bihar, Coconut is grown in 14,900 hectares producing 141.38 million nuts.

Shri Singh said that Kosi region in North Bihar which comprises places on either sides of the Kosi river is suitable for coconut cultivation. It is estimated that nearly 50,000 hectares of potential area in Bihar is available for coconut cultivation, mainly in North Bihar under irrigated condition. Union Agriculture Minister said that CDB aims to equip the coconut farmers in production, processing, marketing and export of coconut and its value added products thus making India the world leader in production, productivity, processing for value addition and export of coconut. Bihar belongs to nontraditional coconut cultivated area and special focus is being given for development of coconut sector in the state.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh further said that Establishment of a Farmers Training Centre, attached to the Regional Office, Patna has also been initiated. The Farmers Training Centre is expected to impart skills to farmers. The centre will strengthen coconut cultivation and industry in the state.

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MoUs worth Rs. 8,835 crore signed in textile sector during Vibrant Gujarat 2017
Jan 12,2017

Union Textiles Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani said that given the entrepreneurial spirit of Gujaratis & the investment inflow, the textile story of Gujarat has just begun. She said that as an area with one of the largest concentrations of textiles in India, Gujarat is a one-point sourcing hub for all kinds of textiles. The Minister also said that there are huge possibilities in textile education in Gujarat. She said that the skill development programme in textile sector conducted at 28 ITIs of Gujarat running the Textiles courses has recorded a placement figure of 75%. The Minister said that two major institutes of Gujarat, namely, NIFT and NID, and various engineering colleges offer degrees in textile technology, textile processing and textile engineering.

The Minister witnessed signing of MoUs worth Rs. 8,835 crore in textile sector. MoUs have been signed in different sectors such as textile parks, textile processing, machinery, carpet development, etc. The Textiles Minister said that Gujarat produces 29% of Indias total cotton production; she said this indicates the trust of textile industries in the prospects of the state. Smt. Irani assured the support of her Ministry to the development of the textile value chain of Gujarat and to explore possibilities in technical textiles and research.

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Ind-Ra: Aurobindo Pharmas Acquisition of Portugal-Based Firms Unlikely to Impact Ratings
Jan 12,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) does not expect Aurobindo Pharmas (APL; IND AA+/Stable) INR9.7 billion acquisition of Generis Farmaceutica S.A. (Generis) and its subsidiaries in Portugal to impact its ratings.

The acquisition is likely to be funded largely through long-term debt and cash. Ind-Ra expects APLs net adjusted debt to increase to the extent of the cost of acquisition. However, the agency expects the companys net adjusted leverage to remain below the negative guideline level of 1.5x after the completion of the acquisition. APL registered strong operating cash flow at INR16.6 billion for FY16 and had INR7.03 billion in free cash at end-September 2016. Moreover, the EBITDA-accretive nature of the transaction will support net leverage. APLs net adjusted leverage stood at about 0.9x at end-September 2016 (FY16: 1.3x; FY15: 1.6x).

The acquisition provides APL an additional platform to sell its generic products in Portugal. As a part of the acquisition, APL will gain Generiss Europe-based large oral solid manufacturing facility. This would allow for the local manufacture of its wide product portfolio, especially to service orders when volumes are low or lead time is short, for sale in Portugal and other European countries. Such synergies are likely to yield additional profits from FY18. Generis registered an EBITDA margin of about 20% for 2015. The benefits of the acquisition are likely to accrue to the company gradually over the next three years.

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CRISIL launches a new credit rating system for infra projects
Jan 12,2017

Indias infrastructure sector needs Rs 43 lakh crore of investments over five years ending March 31, 2020, and that domestic corporate bond market will have to pitch in with at least Rs 11 lakh crore out of this because of capital constraints at public sector banks, says CRISIL.

CRISIL believes that there is a need for new innovative structures such as infrastructure debt funds, and credit enhancement mechanisms such as partial guarantees, that would enable long-term investors such as insurers and pension funds to pitch in and bridge the funding gap.

As a step towards innovation, CRISIL, in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders, has developed a new credit rating framework for infrastructure projects that would facilitate greater participation by long-term investors and lenders.

The new credit rating system is based on the expected loss (EL) methodology. Which means, the rating will be an expert judgment on EL over the life of the debt instrument by taking into account the two pillars of credit risk - the probability of default (PD), and the prospects of recovery.

By also factoring in the prospects of recovery after default, the new system will complement conventional credit ratings that convey opinions on PD. By combining the two pillars of credit risk, the new system provides crucial information to investors that is all the more relevant in the context of infrastructure projects, where debt tenures are way shorter than the economic lives of projects, ramp-up periods are unpredictable, and cash flows are volatile because of risks from counterparty, markets and operations.

Long-term investors and the corporate bond market have shied off infrastructure projects in India because of higher perceived risk and lower credit ratings. This is despite the fact that once such projects stabilise, their credit profiles improve significantly. Empirical evidence also shows the risk of default and loss reduces materially after stabilisation. Additionally, many public private partnership projects have embedded safeguards such as termination payments and contractual protection that limit losses to debt investors. By construct, conventional credit rating methodology does not adequately take into account this feature of infrastructure projects. But the new system does, and focusses on recovery of dues to investors and lenders over the lifecycle of an infrastructure project.

Says Somasekhar Vemuri, Senior Director, CRISIL Ratings, n++A rating system based on EL, which takes into account not only the PD, but also the loss given default (LGD), appropriately reflects the unique nature of the infrastructure sector. The new rating scale will provide a valuable input -- in addition to the existing rating scale based on the PD approach -- to investors for effective pricing of debt instruments, and consequently, investment decisions.n++

The ratings will be assigned on a scale from CRISIL INFRA EL1 to CRISIL INFRA EL7, with EL1 having the lowest expected loss and EL7 the highest. It will initially be used to assess completed and operational infrastructure projects. A key point of note is that need for conventional ratings will continue as indicators of default risk, while the new scale provides additional inputs related to recovery over project lifecycle for debt market investors.

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Fitch: Indian Point Closure Shows US Nuclear Sector Challenges
Jan 12,2017

The latest US nuclear plant shutdown highlights continued difficult operating conditions for merchant generators, due in large measure to low natural gas and energy prices amid sluggish demand, according to Fitch Ratings. Nuclear units are particularly vulnerable because of their high fixed operating and capital costs.

Indian Point units 2 and 3 have been added to the growing list of US nuclear power plants retiring before the end of their useful lives. Following a settlement agreement with New York state, Entergy Corp. agreed to shut Indian Point units 2 and 3 in April 2020 and April 2021, respectively. The closures will likely increase energy and capacity prices in the New York region, although the impact will ultimately depend on the type, amount and timing of replacement power. Likely beneficiaries are independent power producers operating within the region including NRG and Dynegy. New York Transco could also be a beneficiary of additional transmission opportunities.

The two Indian Point units, aggregating approximately 2,000 MW, join a list of five other nuclear units that have announced plans to prematurely retire between 2018 and 2025 and five other nuclear units that shuttered prematurely in 2013 and 2014. The closure stands in stark contrast to the Zero Energy Credit (ZEC) program implemented in New York in late 2016 that was intended to preserve the environmental attributes of two upstate nuclear plants. Indian Point, which has long been discussed by Governor Cuomo, was specifically excluded from the ZEC program because of its location in a constrained area that generally provided an uplift to wholesale energy prices.

As part of the agreement, New York state will withdraw legal challenges to Entergys license renewal application for the Indian Point units and issue the necessary permits and Entergy will request the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shorten the term of the renewed license from 2033 and 2035 for units 2 and 3, respectively, to 2024 and 2025, providing some flexibility in the closures dates.

Entergy previously retired the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014 and announced plans for the early retirement of the Palisades and Pilgrim nuclear plants in 2018 and 2019, respectively (in each case before the expiration of their operating licenses), and completed the sale of the Fitzpatrick plant to Exelon Corp. The Indian Point closure will complete Entergys exit from the merchant energy business.

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Moodys: Global issuance hits record high in 2016, despite lacklustre fourth quarter
Jan 12,2017

Global private debt issuance reached a record high of $3.9 trillion in 2016, up 9% from 2015, driven in part by stronger issuance in emerging markets, Moodys Investors Service said in a report today, citing Dealogic data. The record figure was achieved over the full year despite a 26% quarterly decline in the final three months.

Despite a weaker final quarter, global private market issuance reached a record high in 2016, said Rahul Ghosh, a Moodys Vice President -- Senior Credit Officer and co-author of the report. A strong third quarter, particularly in emerging markets, contributed to the record total over the year.

Issuers in advanced economies (AEs) tapped $502 billion in primary markets in Q4 2016, little changed from the same period in 2015, but down 26% over the quarter. Non-financial corporation (NFC) issuance rose 13% year-on-year, led by North American issuers, while financial institutions issuance was 14% lower than a year ago, mainly due to lower volumes by European issuers.

In 2016 as a whole, total private sector issuance in advanced economies climbed 3% compared to 2015 to stand at $2.65 trillion.

Total issuance in emerging markets in 2016 was 22% higher than the previous year at $1.294 trillion on growing Chinese primary markets, despite a 25% quarter-on-quarter decline in Q4.

Global high-yield (HY) placements increased 75% in Q4 2016 from depressed year earlier levels in virtually all regions that Moodys tracks. In particular, North American NFCs HY placements showed robust momentum in 2016. It was the only larger global primary market segment to grow on both the year and the quarter, according to Moodys classifications.

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Moodys and ICRA: Stable outlook for Indias power sector reflects improved coal availability, policy initiatives
Jan 12,2017

Moodys Investors Service and its Indian affiliate, ICRA, say that their stable outlook for the power sector in India (rated Baa3 positive by Moodys) over the next 12-18 months reflects sustained improvement in domestic coal availability, as well as the Indian governments policy initiatives, which will likely lead to improvements in the financial position of state-owned electricity distribution companies in the next two to three years.

In fact, we changed the outlook for the Indian power sector to stable from negative, because the increased domestic production of coal will ease constraints on fuel supply, says Abhishek Tyagi, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Analyst.

Moodys also says that the Indian governments debt restructuring of the financially weak distribution utilities n++ under the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) implemented by 17 states so far n++ will likely improve the companies financial capacity to make timely payments to power generators.

These distribution utilities will also benefit from the lower cost of power purchases, due to improved domestic coal availability, the subdued tariff level of short-term traded power, and flexibility provided by the government to generating companies for the optimal utilization of coal, says Sabyasachi Majumdar, an ICRA Senior Vice President.

ICRA points out that an improvement in domestic coal availability has substantially mitigated coal supply risk and the risk of under-recovery in fuel costs n++ due to a reliance on costlier coal imports n++ for thermal independent power producers (IPPs).

ICRA also says that the improving financial profile of distribution utilities n++ which are key off-takers n++ will benefit IPPs through a reduction in the receivable cycle, and a modest improvement in the plant load factor over the next 18 months.

In addition, ICRA notes the uncertainty as to the timing of tariff compensations for affected thermal IPPs, given that the relevant authorities have yet to decide on the timing of such compensations for imported coal-based projects affected by changes in regulations in Indonesia (Baa3 stable).

Moodys says that renewable generation could act as a complementary source of power, rather than a competitor to thermal energy.

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India-CERT Signs an MoU with US-CERT
Jan 12,2017

India and USA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT- In) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information technology of the Government of India and the Department of Homeland Security, Government of the United States of America on cooperation in the field of cyber Security. The MoU was signed by Smt. Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Mr. Richard Verma, US Ambassador to India today.

The MoU intends to promote closer co-operation and the exchange of information pertaining to the Cyber Security in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations of each economy and this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.

Earlier United States and India signed an MoU on 19th July, 2011 to promote a closer cooperation and timely exchange of information between the organizations of their respective Governments responsible for Cyber Security. Since, 19.07.2011 regular interactions between CERT-In and US CERT are taking place to share the information and discuss cyber security related issues.

In continuation to the cooperation in cyber security areas both have renewed the MOU.

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India and Israel committed to strengthen bilateral relations in the field of Agriculture
Jan 11,2017

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh met Israeli delegation led by the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister of Israel, Shri Uri Ariel to discuss issues relating to bilateral cooperation in agriculture between India and Israel. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the progress made in cooperation in the agriculture and allied sectors between the two countries.

Both sides expressed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations in the field of Agriculture which is manifested by the fact that the third phase of Action Plan for 2015-18 in the field of Horticulture has recently been finalized by the two countries. Under this program, as many as 27 Centres of Excellence (CoEs) in the cultivation of various fruits and vegetables, in 21 states, are being set up, out of which 15 CoEs are complete.

Further, both sides expressed the hope that while continuing the two countries could embark upon newer areas of cooperation at the Government to Government and Business to Business levels between the two countries so as to further enhance the relationship.

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Awards to be given to the Institutes/ KVKS/ Universities for Cashless Transactions under specific time limits
Jan 11,2017

Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has taken several decisions to promote cashless transactions in the entire country. It was decided in the meeting of higher officers of DARE/ ICAR in Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare that awards will be given to the Institutes/ KVKs/ Universities for cashless transactions under specific time limits.

Ministry has decided that award of Rs. 5 lakh meant for ICAR and a sum of Rs. 1 lakh to KVK will be given for achieving 100% cashless in a week. Similarly, ICAR will be bestowed upon Rs. 3 lakh and KVK Rs. 50,000 in the form of incentives on achieving 100% cashless within two weeks and similarly for cashless within a span of 3 weeks, ICAR will be awarded Rs. 2 lakh and KVK Rs. 25,000 as prize.

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