Inox to Buy Satyam Cineplexes

Multiplex operator Inox Leisure has said that it will acquire Gurgaon-based rival Satyam Cineplexes in a Rs.182-crore deal, which would strengthen its presence in North India. The Mumbai-based exhibitor will acquire 100% equity share capital of Satyam from its promoters, Inox said in a statement. The company's board at its meeting “approved the acquisition of 100 % equity shares of Satyam Cineplexes for a total consideration of Rs.182 crore“, Inox said in a filing to the BSE. Post acquisition, Inox would be present in 50 cities with 91 multiplexes and 358 screens, it added.
“The proposed acquisition of one of the industry's prime assets, is a part of Inox's strategy to expand its footprint across the country and gives INOX a significant foothold in the North Indian region,“ the company said.
This is the third acquisition of Inox in last seven years. In May 2013, Inox had merged Fame India, a multiplex cinema theater firm, with the company after acquiring controlling stake in 2011. Similarly, in 2007, Calcutta Cinema (CCPL) a West Bengal-based multiplex theater firm was merged with Inox.

Etail : It's raining Billions !

Flipkart has raised the biggest round of funding by an Indian Internet firm, setting the stage for a battle with Amazon for supremacy of the Indian online retail market. Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC became the latest investor to put its faith in India's largest online retailer by participating in the $1-billion (Rs.6,000 crore) funding round that values Flipkart at $7 billion.
The funding was led by existing investors Tiger Global and Naspers with participation from Accel Partners, DST Global, ICONIQ Capital, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Sofina. Dragoneer and Vulcan Capital, who first invested in the company last year, did not take part in this round.
The seven-year-old company has so far raised over $1.7 billion in risk capital. In May , it sucked in $210 million led by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner's DST Global a few days after announcing its acquisition of fashion portal Myntra for an estimated $370 million. Sachin, who has in the past spoken of a US listing in 2015, said an IPO is not on the cards for the next two years.
Seattle-headquartered Amazon has become aggressive in India. In about 13 months it has launched 28 categories of products and has grown to host 8,500 merchants on its platform.
The funding will mean more pressure for Snapdeal, which raised over $233 million from investors like Temasek and Premji Invest earlier this year. Amazon has matched Snapdeal in terms of sales, with the two firms having sold about $600 million (over Rs.3,600 crore) worth of products each, according to multiple people who have direct knowledge of the firms' financial details. Both could reach $1 billion in sales this fiscal. Flipkart reached this milestone last fiscal. But Sachin said his focus is solely on Flipkart. “We are not thinking about competition. This funding gives us the opportunity to shape the market in a way that we want,“ he said.
Binny Bansal, 31, cofounder and chief operating officer, said logistics as well as payment and mobile technologies will be the areas where Flipkart expects to spend the most. Also getting attention will be small businesses which Flipkart will handhold and bring online.Mobile has become a priority area for Flipkart, with over 50% of sales through handheld devices. So are payments where it could look at acquiring a firm.
Flipkart has previously acquired for depth in product categories and for new technology. This could continue, said experts. Apart from tech buyouts, the company could look at acquisitions in categories like furniture. Portal such as Pepperfry and Urban Ladder, which raised funding in the past few weeks, are seen as likely targets. Flipkart's most recent acquisition, fashion etailer Myntra, has worked out well for them so far.

Jeff Bezos said he will spend $2 Billion (Rs.12,000 crore) to grow Amazon's online retail business in India in what amounted to a dare to Indian market leader Flipkart which only on Tuesday announced raising $1 billion in funding from a bevy of global investors. This is the strongest indication by the Seattle-based Internet entrepreneur of his intent to battle for top honours in the Indian online retail market where Amazon is on track to record sales of over Rs.6,000 crore in just over a year of operations. “We've never seen anything like this,“ said Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon. “After our first year in business, the year in business, the response from customers and small and medium-sized businesses in India has far surpassed our expectations,“ he said in a statement on Wednesday
By making this announcement within a week of Amazon declaring a loss of $126 million on revenue of $19.34 billion in second quarter of 2014, Bezos is seen to be signalling in no uncertain terms his commitment to grow his business in India after having failed to make inroads in the Chinese online retail industry dominated by Jack Ma's Alibaba Group. “We see huge potential in the Indian economy and for the growth of e-commerce in India. Our team can continue to think big, innovate, and raise the bar for customers in India,“ he said.
Amazon's aggression is already apparent ­ it now sells over 17 million products across 28 categories and hosts 8,500 merchants on its platform -and that is expected to only increase. Earlier this week it opened five more warehouses, almost doubling its storage capacity to over half million square feet. “From day one, our ambition has been to be India's most customercentric company,“ said Amit Agarwal, vice-president and country head of Amazon.in. Investments in product categories, logistics, increasing seller base and in mobile technologies will increase, according to the 40-yearold Amazon executive who reports directly to founder Bezos.
The war in the Indian online retail space is being fought on the mobile platform. Amazon said about 35% of all sales in India come through mobile devices while Flipkart and Snapdeal claim that nearly 50% of all transactions are on hand-held devices.
By stepping up to tell the world about Amazon's progress in India, Bezos wants to assure customers that his firm is here to stay while at the same time declaring war on his rivals, primarily Flipkart. “It is abnormal for Bezos to talk about numbers. He never talks about investments or top line.This shows how important India is to Amazon. This is completely new,“ said a senior executive at a consumer internet company who until last year was employed at Amazon. “He wants to show that if Flipkart spends one dollar, Amazon will spend two.“
At present, Amazon is believed to be running neck-to-neck with Snapdeal, with both companies having sold about $600 million (about Rs.3,600 crore) worth of products this year so far, with an aim to clock sales of $1 billion this fiscal, according to several people privy to the firms' financial details.
Flipkart, which notched up gross sales of $1 billion in March, is expected to close this fiscal with sales of $3 billion (Rs.18,000 crore).
All top etailers in the country have been running continuous deep discounts, up to 85% in some cases, for the past few months.

Tata Chief Unveils New Vision

Unveiling a new blueprint for growth, the Tata group, India's largest diversified business conglomerate, has communicated to the top brass of its 100-odd companies a new vision to maximise synergies among group companies by focusing on four new clusters -defence & aerospace, retail, infrastructure and finance. The group will invest about $35 billion in the next three years, Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry has said.
Mistry was outlining the group's vision for 2025 and its immediate plans for the next three years, at an annual gathering of the top brass of its group companies on Tuesday.
In an email response, a spokesperson for Tata Sons said: `It is correct that the Tata group has outlined its strategy of nurturing group companies by leveraging the parenting advantage of the group centre, harnessing synergies to maximise the performance of companies and optimising its portfolio for sustained future performance.“
“To carry forward this mission in the near term, the group has adopted a vision, to be achieved by 2025.
The Tata group's Vision 2025, the spokesperson said will be to cater to “25% of the world's population. As a result, Tata will be among the 25 most-admired corporate and employer brands globally, with a market capitalisation comparable to the 25 most valuable companies in the world,” the spokesperson added.
The group, which has been weighed down by its telecom business, automobile business in India and its acquisition of Corus, has never got back to the 8.5% operating margin it achieved in 2008, before the global financial crisis reduced its profitability. Mistry urged his colleagues to get back to the 8% margins of 2008.
For this, some businesses may have to be divested and some restructured, Mistry is said to have stated at the meeting.
The conclave of Tata Group leaders, an annual feature to review and strategise for the future, has been an important event since the days of JRD Tata. The meeting held on Tuesday was significant for another reason as it was the 110th birth anniversary of JRD Tata, the late chairman of the Tata group. At the meeting, the group’s future strategies were discussed. “Each Tata company will strive to outperform markets, sharply focussing on performance, strive for excellence for global competitiveness, seek to achieve global or national scale, and foster fledgling businesses with a sound evaluation of their growth potential,” the spokesperson said.
As a part of this strategy, the group centre will strongly champion companies which are world class and, where necessary, facilitate creation of new companies, said the spokesperson. This holistic strategy will also include support to companies, if required, to restructure their businesses which do not have the potential to meet performance and strategic criteria in the long term or benefit from parenting advantages.
It will also include investment in joint development of capabilities and future technologies, and leveraging the Tata presence in countries to help companies expand their international footprint.
The group has codified its tradition of an inclusive and responsive business approach into a mission statement, which is “To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally through long term stakeholder value creation based on leadership with trust”.
Tata group’s total revenue grew by 18.5% in 2013-14 at Rs.6,24,757 crore ($103.27 billion). The group, which has over 100 operating companies in seven business sectors — communications and IT, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals — had posted total revenue of Rs. 5,27,047 crore ($96.79 billion) in the previous fiscal. The international revenues of the group in the fiscal 2013-14 stood at Rs.4,19,860 crore, up 27% from Rs.3,30,530 crore in the preceding fiscal, as per information available on its website

Aviation snippets

SpiceJet registered the largest increase in market share in the domestic sector in June on the back of frequent discounts. The low-fare airline added 1.1 percentage points to its market share over May to 19%, ahead of Air India. The only other gainer was low cost carrier GoAir, which increased its market share to 10% for the first time since inception, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
IndiGo remained the leader, having flown 31.6% of the domestic passengers last month, although its share registered a marginal decline from May, when it had clocked 31.7%.
Jet Airways and JetLite together remained the second-largest carrier with a 19.6% share of passengers flown. National carrier Air India reported a drop in market share to 18.5% from 18.6% in May and lost its third position to SpiceJet.
AirAsia, the new entrant in Indian skies, clocked a market share of 0.2% and a high load factor of 80%. The airline currently connects Goa and Chennai with Bangalore and has announced flights to Chandigarh and Jaipur from September.
GoAir flights were the most full, with a load factor of 81.5%. SpiceJet had a load factor of 81.4%, followed by AirAsia. IndiGo had 79.1% and Air India 78.6%. Jet Airways and JetLite flew planes with 69.5% and 75.8% occupancy, respectively.

Somewhere in Madhya Pradesh....

Somewhere in Gujarat....

Cabinet moves to reform labour laws

The Union Cabinet has approved amendments to three archaic labour laws aimed at easing regulations which have acted as an obstacle to faster growth and hurt employee interests. Sources said the Cabinet had approved amendments to the Factories 1948, the Apprenticeship Act 1961, Labour Laws ( Exemption from furnishing returns and maintaining of registers by certain establishments 1988), a bold reform move expected to help attract investments and improve the ease of doing business in the country . The amendments to the Factories Act 1948 is expected to provide women on night duty adequate safety and provision for transport after work. It will also help several sectors such as textiles and garments.The amendments aim to raise the overtime hours from the current ceiling of 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours per quarter. The amendment also proposes this limit to be increased to a maximum of 125 hours per quarter in public interest with the approval of state government.
The amendments also seeks to ensure safer work environment for employees in hazardous environment as well as provision of canteen facilities in respect of factories employing 200 or more workers instead of the present stipulation of 250 workers. It also provides for shelters or restrooms and lunchrooms in factories employing 75 or more workers instead of the present stipulation of 150 workers.
The amendments to the Apprenticeship Act 1961 is expected to help in skill development and training. The move is aimed at providing flexibility to firms on hiring apprentices and removing restrictive clauses for employers.

MTHL snippets

The Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is likely to provide up to 80% as a loan for the ambitious Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link project, which will bring Mumbai and Navi Mumbai closer by half an hour .The indication to fund the project was given after the Japanese team conducted a preliminary survey.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority will execute the Rs.11,000 crore project on cash contract basis. MMRDA commissioner U P S Madan said, “The team gave us favourable indications about funding the project. Out of the total cost of approximately Rs.11,000 crore, the agency is likely to provide us a loan of approximately Rs.8,800 crore.“ The Union government has already approved 20% of the project cost as the viability gap funding (VGF).
Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) commissioner U P S Madan said, “ Agency officials will work on several aspects of the project in detail. After their analysis, they will provide us with inputs which can enhance constructability and shorten the project's construction period. Given their experience in the construction of long sea bridges, we look forward to their suggestions.““As the project is to be constructed on an engineering-procurement-contract (EPC) basis, we expect large contractor companies (Indian and foreign) to show interest in the project. The Japanese experts will submit their analysis in a few months,“ he said.
MMRDA decided to undertake construction of the 22 km MTHL on cash contract after it failed to receive a bid from a pre-qualified consortia till August 2013, when it tried to execute the project on public-private-partnership (PPP) basis.The project was proposed in the 1970s. The first serious attempt to build the bridge was made in 2008 but it fell through because of a dispute between the Ambani brothers.
Environmentalists, led by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), had sought a change in the alignment of the link--it wanted the starting point of the MTHL to start 700 metres south of its current position in Sewri. BNHS argued that this realignment was crucial to save the Sewri mudflats and flamingos.
According to BNHS, there are around 150 bird species in the area. BirdLife International and BNHS have designated the area as an important bird area and “a potential Ramsar site“.


Airtel has 300 million users

Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel said it has crossed 300-million subscriber mark across its mobile, fixed line, DSL and DTH services.
The company , which began operations in 1995, had crossed the 100 million mark in 2009 and 200 million in 2012. The latest 100 million customers have been added within two years.
Bharti Airtel has operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. 


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched MyGov, an interactive website that seeks to foster participatory governance but which also aims to keep lakhs of volunteers, who enrolled for the Modi campaign, engaged.
The site looks to engage ordinary people as well as experts through a “discuss“ platform while providing for more hands on engagement through a “do“ window.
Modi said the initiative intends to keep voters connected with government during the period between elections. Often a wide gap opens when a government assumes office and people's participation ends with voting. The site hopes to encourage citizens to contribute to governance.
But the platform is not intended to be a grievance redressal mechanism. It is rather an initiative that the government hopes will build purposeful engagement. The initiative also seems intended to provide a contrast to UPA 's dependence on panels like national advisory council and activists academics. Though Congress leader Rahul Gandhi did try to make manifesto writing inclusive, the effort came late in the day for the party.
The success of digital volunteerism through BJP campaign platforms like mission 272 has provided the inspiration for Mygov .nic.in. BJP's missed call initiative, conceived by Modi's backroom, has elicited more than 1 crore responses, creating a large base of volunteers whose mobile numbers provided a significant data base. Since BJP's big win in the Lok Sabha election, party leaders have been trying to figure out how best to keep a large number of non-political people who signed up for Modi, engaged with the party . MyGov serves the Modi government's political and governance objectives as it provides a dynamic feedback on official schemes and pulls in volunteers who could feel utilized and useful.
Keeping digital volunteering at the heart of its strategy, MyGov looks to replicate the Modi campaign's success in bringing in people who did not have a political background to work online and on the ground.
Interactive elements, like tracking time spent volunteering and “credits“ earned are expected to help beat the ennui that seeps in once the novelty wears off, government managers feel.
An official statement said, “The platform presents an opportunity to the citizens to both `Discuss' and `Do.' There are multiple theme-based discussions on MyGov where a wide range of people would share their thoughts and ideas.“ The PMO statement promises that “Further, any idea shared by a contributor will also be discussed ... allowing constructive feedback and interaction... citizens can volunteer for various tasks and submit entries.
These tasks would then be reviewed by other members and experts. Approved task would earn credit points for completing the task,“ says the statement.

Residex : Jan-March 2014

Delhi's apparently ever increasing property prices finally seem to have hit a plateau. The National Housing Bank's property price index shows a marginal decline of 1.5% in residential property prices in the city in January-March 2014 compared to last year. NHB's Residex, devised to track prices of properties in major Indian cities, reflected the same trend in 13 of 26 major cities.
Second-tier cities took the worst hit -the steepest fall being in Meerut, where prices dipped by 13.6%.
The index, however, shows that there is no overall slump in the country's residential property market as the 13 other cities tracked by it saw prices rising. Surat, Chennai and Nagpur show the highest increase with house prices up by 10% or more over a year. Prices were up between 5% and 10% in Pune, Lucknow, Raipur, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.
Prices fell by 13.6% in Meerut, the steepest among the 26 cities. Ludhiana and Vijayawada, too, witnessed a 10% decline in prices of residential properties. Property was over 5% cheaper in Jaipur, Coimbatore, Indore and Chandigarh too when compared to January-March 2013.
Residex ultimately aims to track the movement of property prices in all 63 cities covered under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), but currently tracks only the residential housing sector. The data is collected from real estate agents, housing finance companies and banks.
Among the cities where property prices rose between January and March 2014, Surat, Chennai and Nagpur all posted increases of 10% or more over a year. Property prices rose by between 5% and 10% in Pune, Lucknow, Raipur, Hyderabad and Ahmadabad. Guwahati, Faridabad, Mumbai, Dehradun and Kolkata saw more modest increases in residential property prices.
Overall, property seems to be a safe investment as in the seven years for which the Residex data is available, prices have appreciated in 24 of 26 cities. Compared with 2007, only Kochi and Hyderabad have witnessed a dip in prices; Jaipur and Bangalore have more or less remained stagnant. There are seven cities which have witnessed more than 100% increase in property prices in the past seven years.
In terms of investment in property, Chennai would have yielded the best returns over the seven-year period as prices were up 249%. Prices have also more than doubled in Kolkata, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Mumbai and Pune.

Ken-Betwa river link approved

The Union Cabinet has approved the much-awaited Ken-Betwa river link which will benefit UP and Madhya Pradesh by way of meeting irrigation, drinking water and electricity needs of people across six districts in the two states. The Cabinet earmarked over Rs.9,000 crore for the project which will transfer surplus water from the Ken river to the Betwa basin through a 221-km canal.
The concrete canal will pass through Jhansi, Banda and Mahoba districts of UP and Chhatarpur, Panna and Tikamgarh districts of MP.

Somewhere in Maharashtra....

India tops consumer confidence index

Consumer confidence level in India jumped by seven points during the second quarter of this year, bringing India to the top globally with the change in government at the Centre, global information and insights provider Nielsen has said.
According to a global consumer confidence index study by Nielsen, India which was ranked second in the first quarter of 2013 is now the most optimistic country , followed by Indonesia and the Philippines. Consumer confidence in India was indexed at 128 in Q2 2014, a seven-point increase from Q1 2013 (121).
“Consumers in India have indicated increased levels of confidence in the second quarter when the country's general elections were taking place,“ Nielsen India Region President Piyush Mathur said. “This buoyancy is yet to translate into increased consumption across sectors. Despite the ongoing inflationary trend and expectations of a poor monsoon, consumers are likely to open their purse strings as we head into the festive season in response to savvy marketing stimulus,“ he added.


Nearly a decade after promising to extend the slum regularization cut-off date from January 1, 1995, to January 1, 2000, the Congress-led Democratic Front government finally kept its word on Tuesday.
The state government issued a government resolution extending the cutoff date as well as announcing rules for transfer of a slum structure. The promise was first made by the Congress in its 2004 election manifesto and reiterated in 2009.Bhagwanji Raiyani, convenor, Janhit Manch, said the government resolution is illegal and cannot be implemented as the matter is pending before the Supreme Court in a special leave petition.
“The government is misleading the people. It has challenged the January 1, 1995, cutoff date in a special leave petition and so has the BMC, as it wanted to extend the deadline whereas activist Medha Patkar has challenged any kind of cutoff date for the slums. Besides, the Vilasrao Deshmukh-led government had filed an affidavit in the HC saying it will not extend the cut-off date,“ said Raiyani, adding that he would challenge the gazette notification, whenever it is published.
Those who have been residing in slums constructed prior to January 1, 2000, will now have to submit proofs of residence to regularize the structures. Similarly those who have purchased structures constructed before 2000 will have to apply for a transfer. Under the 1995 regularization policy, occupants who had purchased the structures were not eligible for free housing. But now, with the transfer policy, they, too, will be eligible.
In Mumbai, the eligibility criteria will be decided on the basis of identity cards that were issued to slumdwellers by the BMC in 2001.

NaMu Airport update

After nearly a decade of delay , the Navi Mumbai airport project has finally taken off. The civil aviation ministry has set the process of inviting tenders for the airport's construction into motion by clearing the revised tender document Cidco had prepared.
The new government moved swiftly to okay the document, and what could not be accomplished in years was done over a weekend, officials said. The plan to construct the Navi Mumbai airport was first mooted in 1998. In 2000, the project cost was pegged at Rs.5,000 crore. Today , it is Rs.14,575 crore. In early 2013, Cidco had submitted the initial draft of the tender document they had prepared for inviting bids. In March this year, they submitted the revised draft to the UPA government. Then, on Friday , they met the new civil aviation minister and resubmitted the revised draft. Cidco babus were in for a surprise when three days later, on Monday , the ministry cleared it.
The revised document has brought significant changes.For one, under the old draft, airlines could hold a maximum of only 10% stake in the private consortium that bid for the airport. Now the airline stake has been capped at 26%. Foreign airlines too can bid, after acquiring a security clearance from the government.
This would be the highest ever stake any airline will have in the country in an airport's development (at Cochin, Air India, Airports Authority of India and Bharat Petroleum Ltd together have 8.8% stake).
The bidding airline may base its hub in Navi Mumbai, thus giving flyers the option of direct flights to several destinations. The increase in supply could bring fares down.
Thus, for Mumbaikars, the new airport could spell a relief from steep airfares as the existent airport in Mumbai has long been saturated and the new airport is seen as the only solution to meet the increasing demand for more seats out of the city. In all, 74% stake will be held by the private consortium, while Cidco will retain the remaining 26%.
“But the bidder who offers Cidco the highest share in the project, that is, more than 26%, will win the contract,“ sources said, adding Cidco would like to have as much of a share as possible even though 26% is assured. The project will be the biggest Greenfield airport in the country with the capacity to handle 60 million passengers per annum.
Cidco’s share is pegged at Rs.2,375 crore in the project, while the remaining Rs.12,220 crore will be investment from the private sector that includes developers, domestic as well as foreign-based, and airlines. The maximum period for recovery of investment for private entities has been hiked from 30 years to 60.
“One of the eligibility criteria is that the private bidder (airport operator) will need to have had operated an airport for a period of three consecutive years from 2004 onwards. The airport should have handled more than 10 million passengers per year, and the operator should hold a ranking (within 100) in either the SkyTrack or Airports Council International ratings systems,” said officials.
The Centre wants Cidco and the state to speed up connectivity projects such as the transharbour link, water transport between Ferry Wharf and the airport area and Metro rail from Ghatkopar to Mankhurd and from Mankhurd to the airport.
“The bidders will have to submit their qualification bids by September 2. After this, the qualified bidders will be shortlisted and asked to compete to bag the final contract by submitting their respective proposals. The process is expected to take eight months, by which time Cidco will have to ensure total acquisition of land,“ Mantralaya sources said.
MIAL, a GVK-led joint venture, has `right of first refusal' in the tendering process. It may win the contract even if its bid is not less than 10% of the highest bidder.

As it accorded clearance to the tendering process for appointment of a developer to construct the Navi Mumbai airport, the Centre also asked the state government to expedite the projects that will offer people faster connectivity to the new airport.
Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Shipping and highways minister Nitin Gadkari were instrumental in ensuring clearance to the project bid documents overnight, considered a crucial move in setting up the airport. The move has surprised even the bureaucrats in the state, who have now swung into action. Raju also insisted that the state would now have to develop connectivity between the existing airport and the proposed airport.
Experts closely working with the state infrastructure agencies said the renewed push for the new airport would now give a boost to several Mumbai-Navi Mumbai links such as the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL) over the sea to connect Sewri and Nhava, a waterway between Ferry Wharf and the airport, and the Metro rail routes, one up to Mankhurd from the existing airport either via Bandra or Ghatkopar, and another between Mankhurd and Panvel airport.“The scope of the Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Metro link will have to be checked now,” an expert said. “The ongoing project to extend existing Harbour line from Seawoods up to Uran via the airport area would also get a push.” A senior official said the Centre and the state authorities wanted these projects to come up faster so that these are in place before the first phase of the airport comes up by the projected deadline of 2018. “Putting these projects into execution mode is the top priority for both the state government and the Centre now,” the official said.
In the case of the passenger water transport from Ferry Wharf to Nerul and the new airport, the contractors have been shortlisted already for construction of terminals. “It has been more than a couple of years the files are pending with the infrastructure sub-committee and awaiting clearance. There is no development in terms of appointing contractors for operating catamarans and hovercraft. Now it is time to look at the proposal seriously,” a source said.
A Metro corridor from Andheri to Bandra via the existing airport will come up as part of the Colaba-Seepz Metro, but the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd portion is yet to get clearances.“Other than speeding up the Bandra-Mankhurd section, MMRDA can extend the existing Metro from Ghatkopar to Mankhurd. Beyond Mankhurd, Cidco has to take the Metro up to the airport. Both the projects will have to be put into the execution mode now,” a source said.

The state government has eight months to get the core area for the proposed airport ready so that construction can start after a developer is selected. The Centre on Monday gave the nod for the process to select the developer in the next eight months. Cidco has now acquire 200 hectares of the core area. “We have received the consent of 40 land-owning project-affected persons out of the total 350,“ a source in the state government said. “We expect more by August 15 as PAPs have been offered the highest-ever compensation package in the country so far.“After acquiring land, Cidco will have to start work to level the ground by demolishing the hillocks and by shifting the mangroves.


Andhra loan waiver

The Andhra Pradesh government announced one of the biggest loan waiver schemes in recent times that would cost the exchequer over Rs.43,000 crore.
Farm and gold loans taken by farmers to the tune of Rs.35,000 crore will be waived with immediately effect. About Rs.7,500 crore loans taken by selfhelp group (SHGs) members and Rs.500 crore by weavers and families from scheduled castes were also waived.
Announcing this after a cabinet meeting, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said that those who cleared their loans would also benefit as the state would deposit Rs.1.5 lakh in their accounts by way of cash transfer. “We have decided to extend the loan waiver scheme to honest payers and those who are not in a position to take the burden. We will pay directly to banks to clear the loans taken by farmers and in respect of those who have been prompt in repayments, we will deposit the amount in their accounts.
This will cost the government over Rs.43,000 crore but will benefit 96.27 per cent of the total farmers,“ said Naidu.
In order to fulfill its poll promise, the Naidu government decided to raise loans from banks by guaranteeing future revenues of profit-making public sector undertakings. The government will open an escrow account from which the banks would get regular payment from the government. At the same time, AP would impose a “farmer welfare cess“ on liquor sale. The transport department would also impose additional cess.
Similarly, the government would securitize some of its assets and issue bonds in the financial market to raise money to fund the loan waiver scheme. “I made the loan waiver promise when the state was united and had huge revenues. But now, we are in financial crisis. But to keep my word to farmers, I have decided to implement the loan waiver in letter and spirit though it is a big burden on our finances,“ said Naidu. The loan waiver scheme will benefit more than 30 lakh farmers and 7.5 lakh self-help groups. He said the government corporations would raise loans in the open market and there would be no need to raise the FRBM limit which is pegged at about Rs.15,839 crore at present.
The cabinet headed by Naidu met here and decided to implement NTR Sujala Sravanthi, a drinking water supply scheme in villages, by involving corporates, NGOs and selfhelp groups. The modalities will be finalized at the next cabinet meeting. Disclosing the decision taken at the cabinet meeting, Naidu said that Petronet's proposal to set up an LNG terminal near Kakinada was cleared. This would bring in Rs.3,085 crore tax revenue for the AP exchequer. The cabinet also passed a resolution demanding Centre's intervention in the Eamcet counselling row between Telangana and AP and to save the academic future of 9.5 lakh students. “We have also decided to move court to protect the academic year of the students. Telangana government is acting without sanity on the nativity issue,“ said Naidu.
The cabinet dissolved all the market committee in the state which were filled with Congressmen. Naidu asked political heads of state government organisations to save their honour by gracefully quitting. “All heads of corporations including chairman of Tirumala Tirupati Devasatanams (TTD) Board have to resign gracefully . Otherwise we will show them the door,“ said Naidu.

Babus have to declare assets

All central government employees will now have to declare their immovable/movable assets and liabilities as well as those of their spouses and dependents by July 31 every year. The Public Servants (Furnishing of Information and Annual Return of Assets and Liabilities and the Limited for Exemption of Assets in Filing Returns) Rules, 2014 make it mandatory for central government employees to file a statement listing their and their spouse/dependents' cash in hand, bank deposits, investments in bonds, debentures, shares and units in companies and MFs, long-term savings, insurance policies, PF, loans & advances, cars/aircraft/yacht/ships; and jewellery. The declaration must record value of these items as on March 31 and filed with the competent authority by July 31 of that year.
For the current year, the public servants who have filed such returns of property under various service rules, will have to file revised declarations of assets and liabilities as on August 1 by September 15.
The competent authority may, however, exempt the public servant from filing information in respect of any asset if its value does not exceed his/her fourth months’ basic pay or Rs.2 lakh, whichever is higher. The reasons for the exemption may be recorded in writing.
DoPT notified the new rules last week under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. These empower the Centre to prescribe a form for annual returns to be filed by a public servant.


Nomura bullish on India

India is set to be Asia’s biggest turnaround story and the country’s GDP growth is expected to rise to over 6 per cent in FY 2015 and over 7 per cent in FY 2016, says a Nomura report. According to the Japanese brokerage firm, 2014 would mark an inflection point and 2016 will be a watershed year as Indian economy will start outpacing China. “We believe India is at an inflection point. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new reform-minded government, the medium-term outlook is much improved,” Nomura said in a research note. “We expect real GDP growth to rise from an average of 4.7 per cent in 2013-14 to 6.3 per cent in 2015, 7.1 per cent in 2016 and 7.7 per cent in 2017,” Nomura said.
The last three years have been challenging for the Indian economy, with real GDP growth sliding from an average of 8.4 per cent over the period 2003-10 to 5.3 per cent during 2011-13.
The RBI’s inflation fight is likely to go ‘hand-in-hand’ with the proactive business oriented Narendra Modi government’s strong mandate to cut red tape and jump-start supply-side reforms, it added.“It is not an exaggeration to expect India to stand out as the biggest emerging market turnaround story in the next five years,” Nomura added.
A pro-active business oriented government can not only reverse the debilitating policy paralysis that has thwarted the ease of doing business, it can also help — by way of much needed supply side reforms — to debottleneck investment projects that are either underway or are in the pipeline. it said.
In the base case, reforms are expected to revitalise real investment growth to 10 per cent per annum, lifting potential output growth to around 7 per cent in the next five years and if reforms are fast tracked, real investment could hit 15 per cent per annum, raising potential growth to above 8 per cent, Nomura said.
Moreover, the Indian economy is starting to turn around as inflation is abating, the current account deficit is narrowing, forex reserves are accumulating and growth is just starting to rise.


Global Innovation Index 2014

Crystal ball gazing

Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) has upgraded India’s economic growth forecast to 6.3% for 2015-16 on the hopes of a speedy reform process. The multi-lateral funding agency, however, has retained forecast 5.5% growth in India this year. “With Parliamentary elections over, India is expected to pursue long-delayed reform. India's growth forecast is maintained at 5.5% in fiscal year 2014-15 but upgraded to 6.3% in FY 2015-16 as expected reform bears fruit,” ADB said in a statement. Earlier, ADB had projected 6% in FY16 growth for India in the financial year. Pinning hopes on improved outlook for the largest economy (India) in South Asia, it said that the expansion in the sub-region is expected to reach 5.4% in 2014 and pick up to 6.1% in 2015.

Bloomberg Global Poll

Modi mania is taking hold across global markets. Financial professionals are now more bullish on India relative to the largest emerging markets than at any point in the past five years after Narendra Modi scored the biggest election victory in three decades, giving him a mandate to revive economic growth as prime minister. About 23% of respondents in the Bloomberg Global Poll said India offers one of the best investment opportunities among eight of the biggest markets worldwide, versus the 12% average for the other so-called BRIC nations, or Brazil, Russia and China. That gap is the widest since the survey began in 2009. 51% are optimistic on Modi's policies while those in favour of Brazil president Dilma Rousseff 's sank to a record 11%.
The BSE Sensex index surged 21% this year through on July 16 on optimism Modi's pledges to cut red tape and attract investment will boost Asia's third-largest economy after growth slowed to near a decade low. Exchange-traded funds that invest in the country lured more inflows than any other emerging market this year, while investors pulled money from Brazil as the economy sunk into stagflation under Rousseff 's watch.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index has gained 6% this year, fueled by signs of a recovery in the Chinese economy and as concern eased that rising borrowing costs in the US will spur capital outflows. About 48% of respondents in the Bloomberg poll said the developing-nation stock index will climb in the next six months, versus 27% who said it will fall. The poll of 562 Bloomberg users was conducted July 15 and 16 by Selzer & Co, a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1% points.
Brazil's benchmark Ibovespa (IBOV) index has risen 8% this year on speculation Rousseff 's declining popular ity among voters will lead to new economic policies, financial professionals are turning more bearish. Just 7% of respondents said Brazil offers the best opportunities, matching the lowest mark the South American country has received since the poll's inception.
About 40% of respondents saw the worst opportunities in Russia. The Micex stock index and the ruble tumbled on Thursday on new US sanctions designed to punish president Vladimir Putin for failing to end support for rebels in Ukraine. Russian shares extended the selloff on July 18 after a Malaysian passenger jet was shot down in eastern Ukraine, killing all on board.

JNNURM scrapped

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will not receive any additional funds for infrastructural projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) as the BJP government has finally drawn the curtains on the scheme and scrapped the previous government's plan to launch the second phase.
The new government has announced its own plan to develop smart satellite/ twin cities along with a new mission for urban development.
Union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu told Rajya Sabha members that JNNURM had ended on March 31. Launched in 2005 and implemented till 2012 in the first phase, the scheme was extended by the Congress government till 2014.
The closure of the mission means civic bodies, including the PMC, will not get any new funds for infrastructural development under this mission. However, the civic body will get the JNNURM funds promised by the previous government.
Sources in the state urban development department said the state government has received a communication from the Centre that it would not stop flow of promised funds to civic bodies under JNNURM.“Civic bodies will get the JNNURM funds as promised by the Congress government. However, no new proposal will be approved,“ said a government official.
The BJP government is finalizing the contours of the new scheme. In its annual budget, the government has provided Rs 7,060 crore for developing “one hundred smart cities“ which will be developed as satellite towns of large cities and by modernizing the existing mid-sized cities.
A senior PMC official said the civic bodies will have to shell out more money to complete the JNNURM projects as the government will not provide funds to match the gaps between the released funds and inflated rates of actual implementation.
The union urban development department will study all the incomplete projects under the JNNURM and find a `solution' to get the works done, according to government sources.

Odisha's Top Maoist held

Odisha’s top Maoist Sabyasachi Panda, accused in several cases including the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati in 2008 that triggered a fierce ethno-religious conflict in Kandhamal and adjoining districts, was arrested in Berhampur in Ganjam district late on Thursday, and produced before a lower court for extended custody for questioning by the police.Panda was nabbed after security personnel swooped down on Mangalavarampeta around 1 am and, after unsuccessfully raiding three houses, found the hardcore rebel holed up in a fourth house, said the police.
Describing the hunt, SP, Berhampur, Anirudh Singh said, “We first wrongly identified the house Panda was in. When we got the right address, there was an iron gate locked from inside. We climbed up the roof and entered the house from the rear. By then, he had escaped to another house, where he eventually got him.”


Somewhere over Ukraine....

Mumbai local

Inter-Linking Rivers Project

Hiring up in Aviation

Chennai's Flyovers

Of FCI's foodgrain loss....

Over Rs 1 lakh cr illegal income detected

Government has detected over Rs. one lakh crore of undisclosed income in the last financial year, a figure more than double as compared to the search and seizure action undertaken by the Income Tax department during 2012-13 to check black money.
According to official data, the I-T department detected undisclosed income worth Rs.10,791.63 crore in search operations during the just concluded 2013-14 fiscal while it also found unreported income of Rs. 90,390.71 crore in survey operations conducted during the same period across the country.The action was conducted by the I-T department against individuals, business firms, corporates and other financial institutions to check tax evasion.
The total figures recorded at the end of both these operations, searches (where I-T sleuths raid both business and residential premises of an entity) and surveys (where department officials raid only business premises) stands at Rs.1,01,181 crore.
The corresponding cumulative figures for the 2012-13 fiscal (under both the heads) was Rs 29,628 crore, a figure less than half of the current recorded amount.
During the last fiscal (2013—14), the I-T also seized assets like jewellery, fixed deposits and cash worth Rs. 807.84 crore as it executed 4,503 warrants and launched searches on 569 entities during this period.
The number of search warrants executed by the investigations wing of the I-T department also saw an upward trend in the last fiscal as during 2012-13 these warrants stood at 3,889.

RBI plans to issue Payment Bank & Small Bank Licenses

Supermarket chains, mobile phone companies and housing cooperatives are among the organisations which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is now willing to recognise as “payments banks”.
In its draft rules released on Thursday, the RBI said, “Entities eligible to set up a payments bank include existing non-bank prepaid instrument issuers (credit card companies), non-banking finance companies, corporate business correspondents, mobile telephone companies, supermarket chains, companies, real sector cooperatives and public sector entities”.
For small banks “any resident individual with 10 years of experience in banking and finance, companies and societies, NBFCs, microfinance institutions and local area banks can apply”.
The minimum paid up capital requirement of both the banks has been fixed at Rs.100 crore, of which the promoters’ initial minimum contribution will be at least 40 per cent, to be locked in for a period of five years. The shareholding of the promoters should be brought down to 40 per cent in three years and 30 per cent in 10 years.
The RBI’s invitation to set up such limited banks promises to change the banking landscape in India. While the “payments banks” will be allowed to take current and savings deposits, they cannot lend to any private parties.
The funds mobilised by the banks will be invested only in government securities. Since they cannot lend, they will not be in competition with the national-level banks.
To distinguish them from the full service banks, their names must include the words “payments bank”. Anybody can operate an account of up to Rs.1 lakh in these banks and send remittances from these accounts, like money transfer, or use them to pay their bills.
Any private or public sector company with large scale daily cash transactions could take up the offer. The possible contenders could include India Post, Big Bazaar, Reliance Retail, Vodafone, Bharti Telecom, BSES and NDPL. The RBI will now be able to issue a number of such licences without compromising the financial security of the banking system.
The proposed banks are part of the RBI’s plan to make the financial landscape more varied, as the existing national-level banks differ little from each other in terms of the products they offer. It also relieves the RBI of the pressure to issue more national-level bank licences. Since the time the Finance Ministry announced plans to issue additional bank licences in 2011, 26 corporate groups, NGOs and public sector companies have lined up for them.
When RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan handed out two licences in April, he promised to come up with an offer to set up differentiated banks. Abroad, these kind of banks offer a large number of retail services to customers, including encashing of cheques.

Somewhere in Chhattisgarh....

Chhattisgarh government archaeologist J R Bhagat may have stumbled upon a startling discovery: He and his team have found cave paintings in Kanker district of Bastar which they believe depict UFOs and aliens.
The paintings are said to be of the same vintage as those in Bhimbetka, declared a world heritage site in 2003. Some of the paintings found in the Bhimbetka rock shelters are roughly 30,000 years old. Bhimbetka was first mentioned in 1888 as a Buddhist site, from information obtained from local adivasis.
Rakesh Chaturvedi, director, Chhattisgarh department of archaeology, said he plans to write to Isro and Nasa for further research. The caves were found in Chandeli and Gotitola villages, roughly 130 km from Raipur.
“The findings suggest humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets. Extensive research is needed for further findings. Chhattisgarh doesn’t have experts who can give clarity on the subject,” Bhagat said. Other archaeologists would also be consulted for further verification, he said.
While some villagers are known to worship these paintings, others narrate stories they’ve heard from their ancestors about “rohela people” — or small-sized ones — who used to land from the sky in discshaped objects and take away the odd villager who never returned. “The paintings are in natural colours that haven't faded despite the passage of time. The strangely carved figures are seen holding weapon-like objects and do not have clear features. Their noses and mouths are missing. In some paintings they are seen wearing garments resembling space suits. We cannot refute the possibility of imagination by prehistoric men who lived here,” the archaeologist said. Bhagat added it might be a coincidence that these ancient images resemble UFOs shown in alien movies. “The fan-like antenna and three legs of the vehicle’s stand clearly show a similarity with UFOs in popular imagination,” he added.

India plans another Mars mission

India is planning a “follow-on“ mission to the Red Planet between 2017 and 2020 having a lot of scientific content, chairman of Isro K Radhakrishnan said. Radhakrishnan said that the final decision will depend upon the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) orbit insertion on September 24, 2014. The Isro chief announced this at the TIFR while addressing a large gathering of scientists and students from Kirti and Jai Hind Colleges. Pointing out that the current mission was mainly to demonstrate Isro's capability to execute the nail-biting orbit insertion, he described the second one as a scientific mission. Regarding the current Mars Orbiter Mission, he said that 79% of the journey was completed.
The Isro chief explained that for the September 24 orbit insertion, the challenges include the liquid apogee motor restarting after 300 days.“If we are successful in the first attempt we will be the first country in the world to accomplish it and also the first Asian country to achieve it,“ he said.



India has the most Poor in the world

Aircel's 4G debut

Aircel launched fourth-generation (4G) telecom services in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Odisha, becoming the second operator after bellwether Bharti Airtel to offer high-speed Internet in India, and increasing the value of its broadband assets that may be put up for sale.
Aircel, majority owned by Malaysia's Maxis, bought 20 MHz of spectrum in the 2300 MHz band -used for 4G services based on TDD-LTE technology -across eight circles of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and North East and Jammu & Kashmir in a government-held auction in May 2010.
While 4G services offer download speeds that are 10 times faster than 3G, most companies have delayed their rollouts in this segment, even after holding bandwidth for over four years, because of the lack of mobile devices that support TDD-LTE technology and low customer awareness. Bharti Airtel's 4G services in some cities -mostly through dongles have not met with much success.
However, time is running out for operators holding 4G spectrum, including Reliance Industries' unit Reliance Jio Infocomm, Tikona Digital and Augere, with their rollout obligation deadline ending in 2015. Companies must start 4G operations in at least 90% of the service areas, failing which the government could withdraw the airwaves. Reliance Jio said it will launch services in 2015.
Some telcos such as Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone India and Reliance Jio plan to use the 1800 MHz spectrum band to launch 4G on the FDD-LTE technology , which is more popular globally .An investment banker who asked not to be identified said Aircel's 4G launch will serve two purposes increase the value of its as sets and fulfill the rollout obligation.
A senior industry official familiar with Aircel's strategies said there are chances that its 4G offerings will be bought by Bharti Airtel after India's No. 1 carrier launches the services in Mumbai and Delhi.
Airtel bought BWA or 4G licences from Qualcomm in four circles, including the two major metro cities. On its own, Bharti has permits in four other circles, taking the total to eight. A company official had said earlier that Airtel will try and match Reliance Jio, the only player to have bid and won high-speed Internet airwaves in all 22 service areas.
Aircel has debt of more than Rs.24,000 crore, primarily due to a payout of almost Rs.10,000 crore for 3G and 4G spectrum in the 2010 auctions and expenses on expanding operations in 2G and 3G over the years. Intense competition and high interest costs have eroded the company's net worth as well.

Modi meets Putin

“Even a child in India, if asked who's India's best friend, will reply it is Russia because Russia has been with India in times of crisis...I felt I was in India when I visited Russia's Astrakan region,“ Prime Minister Narendra Modi told President Vladimir Putin when they met on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit to expand the scope of bilateral strategic partnership that has stood the test of time.
During the 40-minute meeting, Modi sought Putin's support to broaden cooperation in the defence, nuclear and energy sectors. As Putin offered help to build more nuclear plants in India, Modi invited the Russian strongman to visit Kudankulam power project when he visits the country in December for the annual Summit. Putin responded to the invitation positively .This was the first meeting between the two leaders after Modi became Prime Minister.
The Unit-I at the Kudankulam project has started producing electricity and the second one will become operational in December. Moscow has already extended Line of Credit for Units three and four at the same project and four more reactors could be added at Kudankulam. India and Russia have drawn up a roadmap for 22 more nuclear reactors in the country.
Modi described Russia as India's top foreign policy priority and said he would visit Moscow next year.The two leaders met late on Tuesday night at Fortaleza after their Monday meeting was deferred because of Putin's engagements in capital Brasilia. Putin congratulated Modi on his victory in the recent elections. Interestingly, the Indian PM spoke in Hindi during the meeting, which is not a hindrance for many Russian diplomats who are fluent with the language.
Modi, who had met Putin in 2001 in Moscow, said India's relationship with Russia is a time-tested one and appreciates that it has been so since early independence. It's also little known that Modi had visited Russia thrice in the past as Gujarat Chief Minister. Emphasising the need for greater people-to-people contact, Modi said there was need to look at a liberal visa regime, especially for students going abroad for studies.
President Putin acknowledged that the issue needs to be looked into, MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters after the meeting.
Modi fondly recalled his visit to Russia's Astrakan region in his early days as Gujarat CM, which has ties with that area. Talking about the visit, he said that he felt as if he was in India. Putin, on his part, said Russia places its relationship with India high enough in the strategic framework. Modi appreciated Putin's speech at the BRICS Summit, saying it was clear on issues like reforms of the UN Security Council and international financial organisations. The two leaders also discussed regional and global challenges, including the situation in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
A number of important bilateral fora will take place by the end of this year, such as the sessions on two Inter-governmental commissions -on military cooperation and on trade and economy -with Defence Minister S Shoigu and Vice-Premier D Rogozin visiting Delhi. Foreign Minister S Lavrov will precede the most important political event, the annual Summit, to be held in Delhi in December. A roadmap for the bilateral relations will be fixed at that Summit.

Delhi Metro Phase III snippets

The Noida Authority and DMRC signed a memorandum of understanding for the 3.96 km Botanical Garden-Kalindi Kunj line, a tiny step for Metro but a giant stride for Noida in direct connectivity with the airport. It will also provide easy access to south Delhi's hot spots like Hauz Khas.
Once operational, this link -a part of Delhi Metro's 36.2 km Janakpuri West Botanical Garden line -will allow people living in Noida to board a Metro directly to Terminal 1D. It will also make Botanical Garden, which already has a station on the Blue Line, the first interchange station of Delhi Metro outside Delhi.
The signing of the MoU follows chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's approval at a cabinet meeting in Lucknow in June. The pact was inked by S D Sharma, director, business development of DMRC and Rama Raman, CEO, Noida Authority at Metro Bhawan in Delhi in the presence of DMRC's managing director Mangu Singh.
To be built at a cost of Rs.845 crore, the elevated Botanical Garden-Kalindi Kunj line is expected to be ready for use by 2017. Besides the domestic terminal of the airport, it will connect Noida with important areas in Delhi like Jamia Milia Islamia, Kalkaji, Okhla, Nehru Place, IIT, RK Puram, Munirka, Vasant Vihar, Palam and Janakpuri.
The bridge that will be a part of the Kalindi Kunj line will be the Delhi Metro network's fourth over the Yamuna. About 574 metres long, it is coming up about 85 metres downstream of the existing Okhla bridge. Around 80% work on the bridge has been completed.
Tenders have been floated for the viaduct and stations in parts of the corridor within Noida while work on the Kalindi Kunj Metro station is already in progress.This link will be the second Metro connection between Delhi and Noida. The current operational Line 3 connects Noida City Centre with Dwarka.
Officials said that Metro connectivity to the satellite cities of the NCR is being accorded the highest priority. While construction work is in progress on the Metro links to Faridabad and Bahadurgarh in Haryana, an MoU was recently signed for Metro extension to the New Bus Stand in Ghaziabad. Raman said all proposed routes will be fast-tracked.


Vijay Mallya-promoted Kingfisher Airlines has emerged as the country's top non performing asset (NPA) after it has failed to repay loans of Rs.4,022 crore borrowed mainly from state-owned banks. It highlights the woes of lenders saddled with bad debt and in need to raise Rs 2.4 lakh crore over the next five years to meet the economy’s growing funding needs. At number two is Winsome Diamond & Jewellery (earlier called Suraj Diamond), which owes banks over Rs.3,200 crore, followed by engineering firm Electrotherm India (over Rs.2,600 crore). Together, the top 50 defaulters had outstandings of over Rs.53,000 crore at the end of December 2013, the period for which data was submitted to the finance ministry.There were at least 19 companies on the list which had outstanding amount of over Rs.1,000 crore.
Public sector (PSU) banks have recently submitted the list of top nonperforming loans to the finance ministry.
For years the government has been talking of cracking down on loan defaulters but there has been limited progress as the borrowers exploit the legal loopholes to delay repayment.
Data with the finance ministry reveals that banks had only managed to recover a little under Rs.1,100 crore, with half the amount coming from Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines. Today , banks have non-performing and restructured assets of close to Rs.6 lakh crore.
Some of the borrowers have been hit by the economic slowdown while poor decision making in the government forced several others into a financial crisis. But in a large number of cases the promoters have taken little burden and continue to lead a lavish lifestyle.
If the entire Rs.53,000 crore is recovered -a tough task as bankers admit -banks would be able to meet nearly quarter of their resource requirement for the next five years. This will reduce the need for the government to sell its shares in the state-run entities to help them meet their capital requirement.


Pioneer of radio taxis in India, Neeraj Gupta of Meru Cabs, has floated a retail venture that will largely focus on fruits and vegetables in metros. Gupta has joined hands with top executives from the retail industry for the first-of-its-kind hybrid retail venture, comprising physical, mobile and web stores.
Christened Freshkins, the venture is led by former business head of Future Freshfoods, Anjaney Bhutada. K Radhakrishnan, former Future Freshfoods president, and ex-Reliance Retail executive Ram Nair are also part of the startup. The three members hold significant minority stakes in the venture.
Entailing an initial investment of Rs 5 crore, Freshkins has been rolled out in Mumbai and the plan is to take it to other metros in a phased manner. Once it crosses 50-odd stores, the store will go online.
In metros, about 97% of fruit and vegetable sales take place through the traditional channels like handcart retailers and hawkers, whereas only 3% are through organized channels like supermarkets and online deliveries. It is this huge “unorganized-to-organized conversion potential“ that drew Gupta to the retail business.

Trade snippets

Exports grew in double digits for the second month in a row in June at 10.22%, but a rise in gold imports pushed the trade deficit to 11-month high of $11.76 billion. Exports in June stood at $26.47 billion as compared to $24.02 billion in the same month last year. The sectors that put up a good show include textiles (14.39%), petroleum products (38.3%), engineering (21.57%), leather (15%t), marine products (27.49%), oil seeds (44.4%) and tobacco (31%). Imports increased by 8.33% year-onyear to $38.24 billion in June.
According to exporters’ body Fieo, outbound shipments have registered double-digit growth on account of
improvement in the global demand. In April-June period, exports grew by 9.31% to $80.11billion. The 10.22% growth in June, however, is lower than the 12.4% expansion witnessed in May.
The trade deficit rose in June as gold imports jumped 65.13% to $3.12 billion from $1.88 billion in the same month last year, after registering a negative growth since October last year. 



Rural & Urban Spends

Padho Pardesh

Very UPA-ish!!

Tweaking the Land Acquisition Bill?!

Powerful Militaries in the World

Modi meets Xi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping and pressed for a solution to the border question, saying if the two sides could amicably resolve the vexed issue, it would set an example for the world on peaceful conflict resolution. The two leaders, who arrived almost at the same time in Brazil on Monday evening to attend the BRICS Summit, engaged shortly thereafter for what was described as “good discussions and good meeting“.
The meeting -first between the two leaders -was scheduled for 40 minutes but it went on for 80 minutes, as it was a free-wheeling discussion. “Had a very fruitful meeting with Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping. We discussed a wide range of issues,“ Modi tweeted after the meeting with Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China.
“Both sides emphasised on the need to find a solution to the boundary question. The PM stressed the importance of strengthening mutual trust and confidence, and maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border,“ said a statement issued by the PMO.The two sides have held 17 rounds of the Special Representative talks aimed at resolving the boundary issue.
India asserts that the border dispute covered nearly 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control, while China claims that it confined to about 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.


The BRICS group of emerging powers launched a $50 billion development bank on Tuesday to be based in Shanghai and a $100 billion crisis contingency fund, according to a joint declaration.
The New Development Bank's first president will be from India while the board's chairman will be Brazilian, according to the declaration released at a summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. The bank will have an initial subscribed capital of $50 billion followed by an authorized capital of $100 billion, equally shared among Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.
The Contingency Reserve Arrangement will have an initial size of $100 billion and will help countries avoid “short-term liquidity pressures, promote BRICS cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements“. The bank and fund are seen as counter weights to the Western-dominated World Bank and IMF, which BRICS nations say need more reform to give emerging nations more voting rights.

Food Grid planned

The government is working on a national food grid to tame food inflation. The grid will connect deficient areas with producing regions as part of a plan to reduce wastage of fruits and vegetables while ensuring stable prices, food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has said.Towards this, the government is developing a food map and a national cold chain grid.The plan is expected to be put up for PM Narendra Modi's approval before being formally announced.
Badal said online realtime data for availability of essential food stocks, perishable fruits & vegetables, poultry , fisheries and dairy livestock would be available on the food grid for faster decision making during times of any price spike. A study had estimated that food products worth nearly Rs.44,000 crore are wasted annually due to lack of adequate processing. Barring milk, just around 4% of overall produce is processed.
The government has identified development of food processing as a key focus area to keep inflation under check. Badal said her ministry has suggested that government offer benefits, such as interest subsidy to mega food parks. She, however, indicated that the concessions would be incentive-linked with a preference for those states that amend the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act (APMC).
States will be taken on board and agro-cooperatives will be encouraged to play a vital role to develop such parks.She said plans will also be developed to set up mega marine parks to tap into the potential for marine products.
Foreign firms would be welcome to set up such parks to bring better technology and management practices. The government will encourage state agro-cooperatives to engage in contract-farming to develop food clusters and help in creating infrastructure in critical areas.
To develop marketing and packaging standards, the ministry has also proposed setting up of a packaging and marketing board.

On the brink

The Dabhol power project, once an iconic foreign venture, is on the brink of turning into a non-performing asset--or a bad loan for bankers--after it defaulted in clearing its dues to lenders, who have refused to either lend more or accept a government proposal to convert their debt into equity. The project has been lying idle since December as gas supply has come to a halt, resulting in no revenues to pay monthly installments on bank loans, estimated to be close to Rs.8,500 crore.
The bankers have taken the tough stand after the project failed to pay its installment for June, estimated to be about Rs.108 crore. Ratnagiri Gas and Power Projects Ltd, an equal joint venture between state-run generation utility NTPC and gas company GAIL that owns the project, have told lenders it has no money to pay unless Maharashtra state utility pays its dues.Lenders have now made it clear that they have no option left but to declare the company a defaulter since they have reached the limit of funds they are allowed to lend to one project. They have also refused to accept the proposal to turn the loans into equity--a move that will save the company from paying EMIs but will choke lenders from getting any return on their money.
Bankers, however, said that they cannot be asked to take on the burden every time. 

Forest Cover : Snapshotz