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ASSOCHAM approaches PMO, proposing National Data Bank
Jul 05,2016

Proposing to break wall between the government and private organisations, the ASSOCHAM has written to the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) and the National Security Advisor offering to set up a national data bank from billions and trillions of e-transactions and exchange of information, to be used for the common citizens as also for the countrys strategic needs.

In identical letters to the PMO and NSA, Mr Ajit Doval, the ASSOCHAM proposed creation of Cyber National e-Information Data Bank of Classified & Heritage Documents for National Archive. The proposal involved creation of a Central Co-ordination Committee, under guidance of National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).

n++While a similar concept has now been proposed by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), we had submitted a blueprint way back in December, 2015,n++ ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

The chambers letter stated that with the advent of Information Super Highway the real issue lies in deriving Intelligent Information out of Junk data that can help take cognitive decisions to its various stakeholders.

The assimilation, mining, analysis and dissemination of any information of National importance is a critical part of the activities of many governmental and private agencies and institutions. Attempts have to be made for nation-wide co-ordination and regulation of information resource management.

Today with the quantum growth in volumes, variety and velocity at which data is generated on every click in this electronic age the availability and practical use of such intelligent information is one of the most immediate needs in the data-rich landscape of tomorrow.

However, a clear legal framework is required to legitimize the need for creating n++National Data Bank of e-Informationn++ of n++Classified & Heritagen++ documents for National Archive which can be integrated with National Information Policy demarcating information into broad three categories - information in public domain, information to be used by Government agencies for generation of social security No/ID, passport, voter ID etc and classified information restricted by law

This program can also be integral part of Central Governments Digital India & e-Governance initiatives preserving the Classified Information, Written Heritage, Intellectual Property Right (IPR), the Right to Information along with the Rights of Citizens encompassing golden rules of open standard for data access, flexibility, quality and transparency of data, legal conformity along with maintaining best practices and professional standards, allowing interoperability.

n++Today the value potentials of Big Data Management are widely recognized at all levels by the Government. The data collected from public domain when analyzed and maintained over time, its potential can be fully ascertained. Data that may be non-sensitive in nature could be used by public for scientific, economic and developmental purposes n++n++n++

n++Various agencies trying to extrapolate the benefits of various e-governance programs feel the need to share large amount of data generated residing among the entities of the Government of India. This calls for a need to leverage these data assets which are disparate lying in isolation with various Government Agencies working in silos. This is also leading to duplication of data resulting in effective loss of efforts and loss of effective planning and co-ordination amongst various agenciesn++

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Jawaharlal Nehru Port Becomes First Port in Country to Implement Logistics Data Tagging of Containers
Jul 05,2016

On 1st July, 2016, Jawaharlal Nehru Port becomes the first port in the country to implement logistics data tagging of containers. Jawaharlal Nehru Port implemented the logistics data bank tagging of containers, first of its kind facility, which will help importers/exporters track their goods in transit through logistics data bank service. An RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Tag) tag would be attached to each container which would be tracked through RIFD readers installed at different locations.

This would provide the Visibility and Transparency of the EXIM Container Movement by covering the entire movement through rail or road till the ICDs (Inland Container Depot) and CFSs (Container Freight Station). This service will integrate the information available with various agencies across the supply chain to provide detailed real time information within a single window. This would help in reducing the overall lead time of the container movement across the western corridor and lower the transaction costs incurred by shippers and consignees.

This has been one of the important Ease of Doing Business initiatives implemented at Jawaharlal Nehru Port focused towards document, time and cost reduction for the benefit of trade.

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Liquidity Enters Neutral Zone
Jul 05,2016

After the post-Brexit storm, both currency and debt markets will shift focus back on domestic developments, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The agency expects the 10-year G-sec yield to trade in the range of 7.40%-7.46% this week. The rupee is likely to trade in the range of 66.75-67.50/USD during the course of the week.

Liquidity and Domestic Data in Focus: Retail inflation for June 2016 and the Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) liquidity intervention via open market operations (OMO) will be critical for the bond market. After a sharp rise in the past two months, lower retail inflation would be a positive development for the bond market.

Liquidity in Neutral Mode: The RBI has achieved neutral systemic liquidity position, as stated in the first monetary policy of FY17 in April 2016. The RBI has achieved its desired neutral liquidity in the first quarter itself mainly on account of INR0.8trn OMO purchases in the past three months and a reduction in cash in circulation in June 2016. The net infusion or core systemic liquidity has turned neutral in the last week, from an average 0.8% of net demand of time liabilities in April 2016. The agency believes that there is scope for incremental OMO (purchases) in the remainder of FY17, as the systemic liquidity is an evolving condition rather than a one-time adjustment.

Currency to Consolidate Gains: The agency believes that the rupee is likely to remain stable, supported by restored normalcy in global markets. The implications of an eventual Brexit are likely to be material over both the near and medium terms as the UK and EU iron out exit modalities. In the interim, financial markets, especially currencies are likely to realign and reflect shifts in the global risk appetite.

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State Launch of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) at Shahdol, M.P.
Jul 05,2016

Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY) was launched at Shahdol by Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh in the presence of Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Shri Om Prakash Dhurve, Minister of Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Protection, Labour, Madhya Pradesh, Dr. Gauri Shankar Shejwar, Minister, Forests, Planning, Statistics, Madhya Pradesh, Shri Gyan Singh, Minister, Tribal Welfare & Scheduled Castes Welfare, Shri Rampal Singh, Minister, Public Works Department, Madhya Pradesh graced the occasion. Other distinguished guests included Members of Parliament, Members of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly & Council besides senior officials from MoPNG, Oil Industry and State Government. Women from BPL families from the state were handed over LPG connections by the dignitaries to mark the launch of the PMUY in the state.

In his address, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is an excellent scheme and it fulfills the vision of Honble Prime Minister to provide clean fuel to the BPL families and is a boon to women to experience cooking without smoke. He thanked Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas for accepting his suggestion of commencing this scheme in Madhya Pradesh from Shahdol. He also announced various welfare schemes of the State Government.

Addressing the gathering, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (I/C), MoPNG informed that the scheme would impact the lives of women from BPL families in a major way by reducing the drudgery of cooking with polluting fuels, and go a long way in reducing indoor pollution and other health related problems being faced by them. He said that the main mantra of PMUY is n++Mahilaon Ko Mila Samman, Swacch Indhan-Behtar Jeevann++. Under this scheme, 5 Cr LPG connections will be provided to BPL households. Over the next three years, Rs. 8000 crore will be provided by Govt. of India with a matching contribution of Rs. 8000 crore by the OMCs. The later will be utilized for extending interest-free loans to such poor families. The PMUY scheme is aimed at replacing the unclean cooking fuels mostly used in rural India with more clean and efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). The scheme aims at empowering women and protecting their health and reducing the number of deaths in India, due to use of unclean cooking fuels.

Shri Pradhan further added that the Government aims to add 50 lakh new connections in the state of Madhya Pradesh in the next three years, of which 35 lakh connections will be provided to BPL families under PMUY, and 15 lakh connections to non BPL families.. This will increase the present LPG connections from 70 lakhs to 120 lakhs in the State. He stressed that emuneration and distribution of LPG connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana will be undertaken in a transparent manner. He informed that there has been a growth of about 32% in the LPG penetration in the state of Madhya Pradesh during last two years (about 23 lakh new connections).

Distinguished speakers, in their addresses, emphasized on the major change that PMUY would bring to the lifestyles of women from the BPL families. They lauded the efforts of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in implementing the Women Welfare oriented scheme and in fulfilling the dream of Shri Narendra Modi, Honble Prime Minister in recognizing and addressing the problems faced by women.

Under the visionary leadership of Honble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has taken a series of people welfare oriented schemes. Honble Prime Minister in his address on 27th March 2015 had made an appeal to well-to-do families to give up their subsidy on LPG connections so that the money thus saved can be utilized for giving connections to less privileged homes. Taking the appeal forward, MOP&NG launched the Give It Up campaign and in little over an years time, more than 1 crore people across the country from all walks of life, including those from middle class have come forward to support this initiative bringing smiles to a million homes. Another scheme by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, under the guidance of Honble Prime Minister, which had received worldwide recognition is the immensely successful PAHAL Yojanan++. This direct cash transfer scheme has brought an end to leakage of LPG subsidies which are now reaching people more effectively. The scheme has been highly effective in elimination of duplicate LPG connections. The PAHAL scheme has been acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest cash transfer program (households) in the world. Currently, 16.72 crore LPG customers are receiving their subsidy directly in to their bank accounts.

With 2016 being declared as the Year of Consumers by Mr.Dharmendra Pradhan, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has ensured that Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) offer customer centric offerings like Sahaj - the online booking and release of new connections, the online booking and payment for LPG refills, 1906- the 24x7 LPG leakage Emergency telephone helpline, to name a few.

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Development of Multi-Modal Logistic Parks under Sagarmala Programme to benefit containerized cargo movement in India
Jul 05,2016

As part of the National Perspective Plan, prepared under the Sagarmala Programme of the Ministry of Shipping, 7 Multi-Modal Logistic Parks (MMLPs) were proposed in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Telangana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. The potential sites were identified based on comprehensive study of the container cargo movement across the country and are located in the proximity of important industrial clusters. This will be advantageous for the transportation of containerized cargo.

Taking this forward, Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) has informed that domestic operations have already commenced at 1 MMLP in Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) and MMLPs at 4 proposed locations - Nagulapally (Telangana), Siliguri (West Bengal), Naya Raipur (Chhattisgarh) and Jharsuguda (Odisha), which are under development stage. For the other 2 locations - North Madhya Pradesh / Chhattisgarh border (Singrauli) and Nagaur (Rajasthan), action will be initiated with a detailed area-wise analysis.

While the MMLPs in Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand, are being developed by CONCOR, the MMLP in West Bengal is being developed under PPP mode. At Nagulapally (Telangana), 16 acre of the proposed 60 acre MMLP is being developed at a total investment of Rs.120 Crore. The MMLP at Jharsuguda (Odisha) is under construction over an area of 27.41 acre with an investment of Rs.100 Crore. In Raipur (Chhattisgarh), the MMLP is under construction in an area of 103 acre with an investment of Rs.207 Crore. The MMLP in Uttarakhand has been commissioned at Pantnagar with an investment of Rs.120 crore in a joint venture between CONCOR and SIIDCUL (State Infrastructure Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand)

For the other 2 proposed MMLPs in Rajasthan (Nagaur) and Madhya Pradesh/Chhattisgarh (Singrauli), detailed traffic assessment would be conducted to assess the potential of the multimodal hubs.

Sagarmala is the flagship programme of the Ministry of Shipping for promoting port-led development in India. It aims to achieve capacity expansion and modernization of sea-ports along Indias coastline, enhance port connectivity to the hinterland, facilitate port led- industrialisation to promote trade and sustainable development of coastal communities. The National Perspective Plan (NPP) prepared under Sagarmala Programme was released in April 2016 by the Prime Minister. More than 150 projects have been identified which will mobilize investment of over Rs. 4 lac Crore and generate close to 1 Crore new jobs, including 40 lac direct jobs, over a period of 10 years. These projects are expected to generate annual logistics cost savings of close to Rs 35,000 Crore and provide boost to Indias merchandise exports by $110 billion by 2025.

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A Major Thrust For Developing Airports in Uttar Pradesh
Jul 04,2016

The Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma has informed that a major effort was underway to operationalize numerous airports in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma informed that 400 crore assistance will be provided by the Centre for developing the airports in Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur and Bareilly. This would be done within a period of one and a half months. He said an airport in Kushinagar will also be developed, for which the State Government had provided 200 crore and the work is being executed by RITES and would be complete with a year.

The Minister said that a Committee had been set up, comprising of two senior officers from the Ministry and two officers from the Uttar Pradesh Government. This Committee will study the feasibility of developing no frills airports in Meerut, Faizabad and Moradabad.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma also informed that the case of constructing airport in Jewar had been sent to the Ministry of Defence for their NOC. The Minister informed the media that the push for developing airports in small towns was a natural follow up to the Regional Air Connectivity Scheme that had been announced last week.

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MRP of DAP and MOP fertilizers to come down with immediate effect
Jul 04,2016

There is a good news for farmers in the country. Shri Ananth Kumar, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers informed the media that he along with MOS(C&F) Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, reviewed the availability of fertilizers, and they were happy to inform the country that due to progressive policies of Narendrabhai Modi Government, there is enough availability of all the required fertilizers like Urea, DAP, MOP, NPK etc., in the country. He said that all out efforts have been made to ensure that there will not be any shortage of fertilizers in our country for the coming Kharif season and farmers can plan their sowing without any apprehension on this account.

While expressing satisfaction over the availability of Urea, MOP and DAP and other fertilizer, the Ministers also said Modi government is all geared up to ensure unhindered and assured supply of all the fertilizers. In this regard, a meeting of leading manufacturers was held in the department to emphasise that farmers must get the benefit of reduced input cost of DAP and MOP.

Shri Ananth Kumar, Minister (C&F) and Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, MoS (C&F) further said that they are happy to inform the farmer brethren that major public sector Fertilizer manufacturers - RCF, NFL have decided to bring down the MRP of DAP fertilizer by Rs.2500 PMT and of MOP by Rs.5000 PMT with immediate effect. Other fertilizer manufacturers have also agreed to bring down the price of MOP by Rs.5000 PMT. For DAP, they have agreed to reduce the MRP by more than Rs.2500 PMT. They said that now MOP 50 Kg. bag will cost Rs.250 less and DAP 50 Kg bag price will be reduced by Rs.125. The ministers stated that they have directed the Department that such meetings should be convened at regular intervals to ensure that farmers are passed on maximum benefits by the companys manufacturing MOP, DAP and NPK fertilizers.

On an average, the farmers in our Country use around 100 LMT of DAP, 25 LMT of MOP and 90 LMT of NPK fertilizers annually. Because of proactive steps of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, first ever time in last 15 years, the prices of DAP, MOP and NPK Fertilizers have been reduced substantially and approximately Rs.4500 crores worth of benefit have been transferred to Farmers at large annually.

The vision of Modi Government being n++Jamin Bachao-Kissan Bachaon++, this reduction of price of P&K Fertilizers will go a long way in facilitating balanced use of fertilizers and improving soil health and its fertility.

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Movement of 1004.419 MT of Steel/TMT bars from Kolkata to Agartala (via Ashuganj) through Inland Waterways & Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route
Jul 04,2016

Ashuganj in Bangladesh was declared as n++Port of Calln++ under the Protocol on Inland Waterways Transit & Trade (PIWTT) in May, 2010 for transshipment of bulk and break cargo to Tripura and other North-Eastern States viz. Manipur, Mizoram and lower Assam. During the visit of Prime Minister to Bangladesh, a new version of PIWTT which allows for automatic renewal every five years was signed at Dhaka on 06/06/2016 between India and Bangladesh. This route not only significantly reduces the circuitous distance of chicken-neck corridor (Siliguri) between mainland India and states in North-Eastern region but also reduces the overall transportation cost of the cargo considerably.

In a significant move recently, the above route witnessed the transit of 1004.410 MT of Steel and TMT bars from Kolkata to Agartala via Ashuganj, Bangladesh. M.V Newtek-6 sailed from Kolkata with steel and TMT bars on 2/6/2016 and reached Ashuganj on 14/6/2016 and was brought to Agartala through Akhuara Border on 20/6/2016. Transit and other fees as mutually agreed under the said protocol was paid at Khulna, Bangladesh.

Earlier, movement of Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC) on ONGC for Palatana Power Project and food grains were also transported to Tripura via Ashuganj inland port by Food Corporation of India.

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152 Villages Electrified last week ; 8,681 Villages Electrified till date under DDUGJY
Jul 04,2016

152 villages have been electrified across the country during last week (from 27th June to 3rd July 2016) under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). Out of these electrified villages, 3 villages belong to Arunachal Pradesh , 49 in Assam, 54 in Meghalaya ,22 in Jharkhand,3 in Rajasthan ,6 in Madhya Pradesh , 10 in Odisha, 4 in Bihar and 1 in Chhattisgarh.

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Ministry of Mines will launch of National Mineral Exploration Policy
Jul 04,2016

It is a consensus amongst geoscientists that India is endowed with large mineral resource and has geological environment for many others on account of similarity of geological set up with Australia, South Africa, South America etc. However, survey and exploration have been broadly concentrated on surficial and shallow mineral deposits. Exploration for deep and concealed deposits is a cost-intensive and high-risk enterprise which requires state-of-the-art technology and expertise.

In view of the above, the efforts made by the govt. agencies require to be extensively supplemented with the expertise and technological innovations available worldwide with the private sector.

The MMDR Amendment Act, 2015 has brought in transparency in allocation of mineral concessions in terms of Prospecting License and Mining Lease. The present regime of grant of mineral concessions provides for Non Exclusive Reconnaissance Permit (NERP) which does not allow seamless transitions to prospecting and mining licences.

On account of this, the private sectors do not seem to be enthused to take up high risk of exploration. Keeping this in view, National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP) prescribes for incentivizing the participation of private companies in exploration.

Under NMEP, private agencies would be engaged to carry out exploration with the right to a certain share in the revenue (by way of royalty/premium to be accruing to the state government) from the successful bidder of mineral block after e-auction, which will be discovered by that private explorer. The revenue sharing could be either in the form of a lump sum or an annuity, to be paid throughout the period of mining lease, with transferable rights.

Government will also work out normative cost of exploration works for different kinds of minerals so that the exploration agencies could be compensated, in case they could not discover any mineable reserves in their respective areas. This will be an added incentive for exploration agencies to mitigate their risk of exploration.

The selection of private explorer is proposed to be done following a transparent process of competitive bidding.

2. Acquisition, processing and interpretation of pre-competitive baseline geoscience data play a pivotal role in successful exploration process. In this regard, the NMEP proposes the following:

i. The pre-competitive baseline geoscientific data will be created as a public good and will be fully available for open dissemination free of charge.

ii. A National Aero-geophysical Mapping program will be launched to map the entire country. It will help to delineate the deep-seated and concealed mineral deposits.

3. National Geoscience Data Repository (NGDR) will be set up. GSI will collate all baseline and mineral exploration information generated by various central and state government agencies and also mineral concession holders and maintain these on a geospatial database.

4. Government will coordinate and collaborate with scientific and research bodies, universities and industry for the scientific and technological research to address the mineral exploration challenges in the country. For this, the Government proposes to establish a not-for-profit autonomous body/ company that will be known as the National Centre for Mineral Targeting (NCMT).

5. State Governments have a key role in building up a steady stream of auctionable prospects. They will have to take up mineral exploration and complete to G3 or G2 level for auctioning. The States need to build up the exploration capabilities, technical expertise and infrastructure facility. The Central Government will provide support to States for capacity building from National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET).

6. NMEP proposes to launch a special initiative to probe deep-seated/concealed mineral deposits in the country on the lines of UNCOVER project of Australia. The pilot project will be in collaboration with National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) and the proposed National Centre for Mineral Targeting (NCMT)) and Geoscience Australia.

7. SBI Capital Markets (SBICAP) has been selected as consultant by the Ministry of Mines for development of detailed modalities of contractual framework for mineral exploration. The Ministry will provide handholding support to the State Governments in this process of engaging the private agencies.

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Volatility in financial and currency markets short-lived: PHD Chamber
Jul 04,2016

While expressing apprehensions regarding the financial markets volatility in the wake of developments in Europe, Dr. Mahesh Gupta, President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that volatility in financial and currency markets is short lived as Indian economy is resilient and sustainable on account of its strong macroeconomic fundamentals and well supported dynamic policy reforms.

I believe Indias economy has strengthened on account of strong policy measures undertaken by the government in the recent times which will aid in mitigating the negative impact of any international developments, said Dr. Gupta.

India is not only the fastest moving economy but its economic share in the world GDP is also increasing at a significant pace from 2.62% in the year 2010 to 2.98% in the year 2015, said Dr. Mahesh Gupta.

India recorded a higher growth of 7.6% in 2015-16 as compared to 7.3% in 2014-15, 6.9% in 2013-14 and 5.1% in 2012-13, despite the slowdown witnessed in the world economy, growth in India remained robust, buoyed by strong investor sentiment and the positive effect on real incomes of the recent fall in international commodity prices, added Dr. Gupta.

Indias economic resilience has strengthened during the recent times on account of factors such as improving FDI inflows, current account deficit and forex reserves, declining trade balance due to fall in commodity prices and several measures undertaken to boost up investment sentiments in the economy.

India attracted FDI equity inflows at about USD 40 billion during 2015-16 as against USD 30.9 billion during the corresponding period of last year, posting a robust growth of about 29%.

The Current Account Deficit (CAD) narrowed to 1.1% of GDP in 2015-16 from 1.3% in 2014-15 is more or less manageable at this juncture.

Forex reserves at about USD 360 billion as on 27th May 2016 as against around USD 352 billion as on 29th May 2015 have been improved significantly.

Trade balance has also declined to around (-) USD 11.1 billion during Apr-May 2016 as compared to (-) USD 21.4 billion for Apr-May 2015. Though, exports growth is needed to be revamped with supportive export infrastructure in general and reducing transportation costs in particular to revive the sluggish export growth trajectory, he added.

FII investments represent a gloomy picture. It stands at an average of about (-) USD 836 million in 2015-16 as against USD 3808 million in 2014-15, representing a growth of around (-) 122%.

We appreciate the macro-economic stability with a significant decline in inflation that has come about in the last two years . At present, WPI inflation stands at 0.79% in May 2016 and CPI inflation at 5.7% in May 2016.

Going ahead, under the patronage of dynamic and fast moving reforms covering all pillars of development, Indias economic resilience will be strengthened to mitigate the impacts of international developments, said Dr. Gupta.

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Average salary in gems & jewellery sector lowest across manufacturing sector: Study
Jul 04,2016

The average salary in Indian gems and jewellery industry at Rs 2.52 lakh per annum is lower than other manufacturing industries that are becoming more lucrative for young workers - pharmaceuticals (Rs 5.09 lakh), capital goods (Rs 4.94 lakh), electronics (Rs 4.43 lakh), chemical (Rs 3.97 lakh), automotive (Rs 3.77 lakh), construction material (Rs 2.88 lakh), metal and metal products (Rs 2.54 lakh), noted an ASSOCHAM-Thought Arbitrage joint study.

n++Inadequate working conditions and limited compliance with health and safety standards have also led to low interest in the industry,n++ highlighted the study titled Gems & jewellery industry: Contributing to Make in India, conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) jointly with Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI).

Excessive and prolonged exposure to lethal chemicals and gases can lead to ailments like lung tissue damage, kidney damage and lung cancer thereby making the industry less attractive and not an employer of choice for the younger generations.

Unorganised players and small-scale enterprises are not known to use cutting edge technology and high quality materials in their manufacturing processes, this is another major reason as behind slow growth of the gems and jewellery sector in India.

n++Sustainable growth of any industry needs continuous supply of new talent with skills and ground-breaking ideas,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the study.

n++Manual methods of cutting, polishing, manufacturing and designing of gems and jewellery need to be substituted with high-end machines and software by imparting practical training to the youth in use of laser machines and other modern techniques prevalent globally,n++ said Mr Rawat.

The ASSOCHAM-TARI joint study has suggested for systematic and collective investments in skill development through increased training and manpower development programs.

n++Investment in vocational training institutes will provide a path to increase awareness and attract younger generation to the sector by providing better career opportunities thereby enabling industry with access to a larger talent pool mitigating the effect of reducing inherited skills.n++

The study has further suggested providing safety kits with daily-use equipment like goggles, gas masks, gloves, lab coats and others to the workers.

The aforesaid steps can help reduce negative impacts on workers health, attract growing young population and retain existing workforce, thereby resulting in low labour turnover, improved efficiency and productivity and high output.

Rise in employment across Indian economy because of rise of Rs 1 of demand in gems and jewellery industry can lead to more than five times rise in employment within the sector, concluded the ASSOCHAM-TARI study.

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Reserve Bank of India should be audited: Shashi Kant Sharma, CAG
Jul 02,2016

There is a need to consider financial regulator like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to be audited, said Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Mr Shashi Kant Sharma said at an ASSOCHAM event in New Delhi today.

n++In India, CAG does not audit the RBI, whose auditors are appointed by Central Government under the provisions of the RBI Act; CAG conducts audit of other financial sector regulators like SEBI, IRDA and PFRDA but does not conduct performance auditsn++, said Mr Shashi Kant Sharma, Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), while inaugurating 3rd National Conference on Financial & Corporate Frauds, organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). .

n++In the light of the growing incidents of financial frauds, it is a thought for consideration as to whether, in future, our audit should look into the risks and vulnerabilities facing our financial sector as well as the ability and effectiveness of regulators to mitigate such risksn++, said Mr. Sharma.

n++I am sure, the developments in the USA and the UK will suitably inform such a discourse. Objective should be to achieve the desired level of assurance, with respect to the effectiveness and functioning of financial sector regulatorsn++, said the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) Mr Sharma said, in recent times, a lot of attention has been given to frauds committed against banks, especially the public sector banks that are struggling with enormous amounts of non-productive assets or NPAs. n++There is a belief that a significant part of NPAs could be amounts fraudulently obtained as advances from the banking system. There is also a belief that a large part of these amounts may have been transferred abroad and may never get recoveredn++, said Mr. Sharma.

There should be a comprehensive strategy to deal with them in order to safeguard the integrity of the financial system as well as the enormous public interest, said Mr Sharma.

In a country that is largely financially illiterate, the possibility of fraud is much higher. Promoting financial literacy is a long term strategy for mitigating this risk. At the same time, the regulators have to work together to not only enhance their capacity to deal with financial frauds, but also to remove any regulatory arbitrage.

The emerging international trend of the oversight of the regulators, in order to provide a higher level of assurance, is an interesting development that must be watched to inform our own system of oversight and assurance, highlighted Mr. Sharma.

The developments in the USA and the UK echo demand for more accountability and transparency of the financial sector regulators, as the spate of scandals the world over has subjected the world to unprecedented stresses and turmoil, and there are demands for a higher level of assurance of the functioining of the financial sector regulators.

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Kharif Crop Sowing Crosses 215 Lakh Hectare Area
Jul 02,2016

The total sown area as on 1st July, 2016 as per reports received from States, stands at 215.87 lakh hectare as compared to 279.27 lakh hectare at this time last year.

It is reported that rice has been sown/transplanted in 47.77 lakh ha, pulses in 19.85 lakh ha, coarse cereals in 37.15 lakh ha, oilseeds in 28.71 lakh ha, sugarcane in 44.38 lakh hectare and cotton in 30.59 lakh ha.

The details of the area covered so far and that covered during this time last year are given below:

Lakh hectare 

Crop

Area sown in 2016-17

Area sown in 2015-16

Rice47.7747.62Pulses19.8522.25Coarse Cereals37.1543.72Oilseeds28.7154.24Sugarcane44.3843.68Jute & Mesta7.437.60Cotton30.5960.16Total215.87279.27

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Income Declaration Scheme: Government assures complete confidentiality
Jul 02,2016

The Government has assured complete confidentiality to those declaring their income under the Income Declaration Scheme 2016. The Revenue Secretary, Government of India Shri Hasmukh Adhia said n++no source will be asked and no further proceedings will be initiated against those availing of the opportunity to declare their hitherto undisclosed income under the schemen++. Shri Adhia also reassured that the information contained in the declaration will not be shared with any other law enforcement agency.

The Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) 2016, which was announced by the Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget 2016-17, opened from June 1. The IDS provides a four month compliance window up to September 30, to people with undisclosed income in the country to come clean by paying tax, penalty and surcharge of 45 per cent of fair market value latest by November 30, 2016.

Shri Adhia made it amply clear that this is a one time opportunity and the window will not be extended beyond the four month period , ending on September 30. He said this is a last chance for people to declare their unaccounted income, following which, the Income Tax Department would initiate its own action.

The Secretary informed that the Government has received many requests and suggestions with respect to the scheme including a demand to extend the deadline for paying tax and a provision to pay tax in instalments. n++These suggestions are being examined by the government and an appropriate decision would be taken in due course of timen++ Shri Adhia added.

To a query on whether undisclosed income can be passed on as current income and tax paid at a lower 33% rate, the Revenue Secretary replied that it would amount to false verification and the assessee would be required to explain the source of income.

Shri Adhia said that the Central Board of Direct Taxes, CBDT has posted a fresh set of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on the disclosure scheme on its website www.incometaxindia.gov.in He said CBDT has also launched a massive outreach programme to create awareness about the scheme.

Replying to a query on Indian black money in the Swiss banks, Shri Adhia said India and Switzerland have agreed to conclude a pact on automatic exchange of information by the end of this year. Once the agreement is signed, it will enable India to receive all financial information about its residents, including bank accounts and balances, dividends and interest income from Switzerland from 2018.

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