Indian markets overvalued

Foreign brokerage firm Credit Suisse remains underweight on India. It finds India one of the four most expensive markets in the world, with the others being Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. Credit Suisse examines the view that India has a very low PEG ratio (price-to-earnings as a ratio of earnings growth), therefore making its valuations attractive. The brokerage firm is unconvinced by this view, stating that earnings tend to be overestimated, and if it used the historical difference of actual versus estimates, then India’s PEG of 0.89 times would rise to 1.94 times.

Stocks Tumble, Rupee Weakens

Escalating tensions between India and Pakistan sent the domestic financial markets tumbling with benchmark indices dropping 1.6% -their biggest single-day fall in three months. The rupee also weakened 0.6% to Rs.66.86 against the dollar.
Traders' perception near-term risks in the market increased with the volatility index (VIX) soaring 33% -the highest in a day in 13 months -amid heightened concern that India's military strikes could intensify into a full-blown war prompting foreign investors to pause their investments into the country .
Mid and small-cap shares fell sharper than blue-chips as they were caught in a vicious cycle -the rush to square off positions built on borrowed money pulled down stocks which in turn triggered more margin calls. The selloff on Thursday shaved off Rs.2.31 lakh crore from India's total stock market value to around 108 lakh crore.Analysts expect the market to be on tenterhooks over the next few days as investors have been caught off-guard by the pace of declines on Thursday.
BSE's Sensex fell 465.28 points, or 1.64%, to close at 27,827.53. NSE's Nifty declined 153.90 points, or 1.76%, to close at 8,591.25. The last time benchmark indices fell more was on June 24, 2016 after Brexit.
The BSE's mid-cap index fell 3.6% to its lowest in a year. The smallcap index dived 4% -the highest single-day fall since February 11.
So far, valuations of Indian stocks have remained elevated because of better economic outlook, corporate earnings prospects and geopolitical stability. The price-to-earnings ratio of MSCI India index was 15.6 times as against 12 times of MSCI's emerging markets index. Now, this premium could shrink on worries that the tensions with Pakistan would distract the government from its development agenda.
The Reserve Bank of India intervened to curb intraday volatility and some state-owned banks were seen buying the rupee. The benchmark bond yield jumped five basis points, pushing prices down.

India smashes terror launch pads

In a radical break from its Pakistan policy and in what effectively changes the rules of the game for its terror-sponsor neighbour, India announced that army special forces had carried out “surgical strikes“ in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, targetting and destroying terror launch pads and killing terrorists.
The decision to go public was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) have been conducted by India earlier, but never acknowledged. Going public with the strike that happened over Wednesday night marks a huge strategic and tactical shift.
The message to Pakistan is that India henceforth reserves the right to launch strikes, including preemptive ones, to counter terror from across the border.
The first military response after Uri was followed by India putting its troops in the Western Command on high alert while telling Pakistan and the world that Indian forces targetted terrorists operating out of Pakistan-controlled territory, not Pakistani armed forces.
While India said it was ready for any response from Pakistan, those familiar with high-level tactical and strategic thinking in New Delhi were of the opinion that Islamabad may not respond aggressively, at least not immediately.
Pakistan's response was to deny any surgical strike by India and claim that cross-border shelling killed two Pakistani soldiers. This claim, strategists here said, seemed to limit Pakistani military's range of options, as cross-border shelling is common enough not to warrant a special response. India informed Pakistan about the strike and said it has “no plans for further continuation“ but that the armed forces are “fully prepared for any contingency that may arise“.
Although the reading is that Pakistani response won't be dramatic, villages along the Punjab border are being evacuated and army formations have been put on standby for possible retaliation.
In the sensitive Northern Command, where the action was conceptualised and executed, the postings of top officers have been frozen and all border units have been put on operational alert in anticipation of an increase in terror attacks and cross-border firing.
Among the instructions given out in the Northern Command is a message that at no point within cantonment areas can more than 10 soldiers gather at a spot. Leave and posting have been cancelled in the Northern and Western Commands as well -the two army formations that border sensitive areas in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian Air Force is already carrying out a special readiness exercise along the western border while the Indian Navy is planning a major show of strength in the Arabian Sea with a naval exercise. Officials said the strike, carried out by at least two Para Commando units, targetted seven launch pads and were planned over the past week, with scenarios and contingencies rehearsed and the top political leadership kept in the loop. They were based on specific inputs that terrorists were planning to cross over.
The Director-General of Military Operations, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, informed his Pakistani counterpart of the strike with an assurance that the target was terror infrastructure and not the Pakistani establishment.
While the number of casualties is not immediately known, it is estimated that 30-35 terrorists were at the locations targetted by special forces. Two Indian Army soldiers are believed to have been injured in the attack but were safely evacuated after the strike.
Late on Thursday evening, India confirmed that a soldier belonging to an anti-infiltration unit had inadvertently crossed over to the other side of LoC. The Indian side, however, rubbished Pakistani reports that eight Indian Army personnel had been killed.

Cauvery talks fail

As the meeting convened by the Centre on the Cauvery issue failed to achieve any breakthrough, Union water resources minister Uma Bharti again appealed to both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for peace on the water sharing issue and said she may go on a hunger strike on the border of the two riparian states if there is any report of a fight between them. “I am ready to sit on hunger strike, if required, to maintain peace in both the states“, said Bharti after the marathon meeting that lasted for four hours.
The attempt to resolve the deadlock in the meeting chaired by her failed with Tamil Nadu refusing to accept Karnataka's proposal that an expert committee be sent to the river basin to assess water availability. Karnataka wants such visits to assess the ground situation before it releases water to Tamil Nadu as directed by the Supreme Court.
Chief minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah and PWD minister of Tamil Nadu E K Palaniswamy along with senior officials of respective state governments attended the meeting. It was convened as per the direction of the Supreme Court.
Bharti said delegation from both the states presented their views on the Cauvery water dispute. “I have noted the views expressed by both the states, which will be conveyed to the Supreme Court through the attorney general of India“, she said.
Terming Karnataka's proposal of sending an expert team to the river basin as “an out of box“ idea which the apex court would have been “happy with“, Bharti said she was disappointed that her ministry “could not fulfill the expectations“ of the apex court.

Trials for Phase II of Mumbai Monorail in January

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority will carry out trials for Phase II of the monorail in January . Phase I of the monorail between Chembur and Wadala was opened in February 2014.The second phase will cross over the suburban stations at Wadala and Currey Road and culminate at Jacob's Circle.
MMRDA chief UPS Madan said, “The civil works of the project will be completed by the end of next month. We hope to complete all work, including signalling system, by December.“ The operations for monorail's first phase (Wadala depot to Chembur) are reeling under a loss of Rs.20 lakh per day as few commuters use the network since it does not connect important business hubs or residential areas. The commissioning of the entire monorail corridor up to Jacob's Circle was crucial for the project's financial viability.“Once the entire corridor is operational, travel time on the 20 km corridor will be 40 minutes.“
As per traffic estimates, peak hour per direction traffic will be around 7,500 and total corridor ridership per day is expected to be 2 lakh.


Of slowdown in global trade....

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’S) latest World Economic Outlook finds that overall weakness in global economic activity, in particular investment, has been the primary restraint on trade growth, accounting for up to three-fourths of the slowdown. Other factors, it says, include the waning pace of trade liberalization, an increase in protectionism and a decline in the growth of global value chains. The report says that a prolonged period of slowdown in global trade will call into question the strategy of export-led growth that many developing countries have followed.

Chart 1 shows the sharp decline in both price and volume of the imports of goods and services across all countries.

Chart 2 shows how the real import growth of all categories of products has declined in the 2012-15 period compared to the 2003-07 period.

EC seeks FIR

Haryana is all set to have the dubious distinction of being the first state in the country to have an FIR registered in Rajya Sabha elections. The Election Commission of India has asked the state's chief electoral officer (CEO) to register an FIR on the basis of a complaint by noted lawyer R K Anand who had had lost to media mogul Subhash Chandra in the polls in June. The recommendation was made after the commission found evidence to back the allegation that an unauthorized pen was used during voting that led to a large number of Congress votes being cancelled.
The commission has also recommended disciplinary action against R K Nandal, secretary of the Haryana assembly , for lack of supervisory control and negligence. He was the returning officer (RO) for the polls. Haryana's CEO Anukur Gupta has submitted a complaint to the Sector 3 police station in Chandigarh. SHO Poonam Dilawari said that the FIR would be registered by Thursday evening. Nandal has also been indicted for concealing material facts related to the authorized pen not being used.
Although the commission had sent its findings to the CEO and chief secretary of Haryana on September 9, the documents were released on Wednesday by Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala. Anand was an independent backed by INLD and BJP had backed Chandra.
The commission wants the FIR to include various sections of the Representation of People Act related to electoral offences besides criminal conspiracy , interference in the election process, theft, cheating, mischief and forgery . The case will be filed against persons on election duty or whose conduct resulted in the votes being cancelled.
Indicting Nandal, the commission observed that he was in charge of election related activities inside the polling station and that there was serious lack of supervisory control and negligence as an unauthorized pen was used for marking ballot papers. “It assumes serious proportions if seen with the fact that 12 ballot papers had been rejected on the ground of voting preferences marked with a pen other than the officially supplied,“ the commission has said. In all 14 Congress votes were declared invalid.
Anand, said that as the commission had prima facie found criminality in the official pen being removed from the polling area in an effort to sabotage the election.
Despite having the support of 35 MLAs, Anand lost to Subhash Chandra after 14 votes of the Congress were declared invalid. Votes of 12 Congress MLAs were cancelled because the legislators had not used a pen prescribed by the Election Commission.Another vote was cancelled after he exposed his it to the Congress legislative party chief while one was declared invalid as it was left blank.In the end Anand got 21 valid votes while Subhash Chandra got 29 and was declared elected.
On June 11, the day of polling, the RO tied the sketch pen in the voting compartment with a string instead of handing it over individually to the MLAs. BJP's Panipat MLA Rohita Rewri came to cast her vote at serial number 7 and inadvertently took along another pen

BJP's `Progress Panchayat' gets going

Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will lead the first “progress panchayat“ in Haryana's Mewat to present before the people the NDA government's vision for the progress of minorities.The panchayat series, which will travel to 100 locations across India, is meant to put out BJP's “development agenda“, claimed Naqvi. The choice of Mewat to hold the first panchayat is significant as the area had witnessed the murder of a couple and gangrape of two women from the Muslim community a few weeks back. 

Cabinet OKs strategic sale in PSU

The Centre has approved a strategic sale in loss-making Bharat Pumps and Compressors Limited. It comes 12 years after a state-run company was last sold through this route. The cabinet committee on economic affairs approved “in principle“ the strategic sale in the Allahabad-based public sector enterprise which was set up in 1970 as an import substitution unit for the manufacture of process pumps and compressors for sectors such as oil exploration, refineries, petro-chemicals, chemicals, fertilizer and down-stream industries.
The Cabinet also approved the closure of Kolkata-based Hindustan Cables Ltd, where production activity stopped in January 2003. The government will pay voluntary separation package to the employees. Cash infusion for the closure of the company is estimated at Rs.1,310 crore. So far, the government has cleared the closure of around half-a-dozen sick PSUs while several more are on the list of companies identified for shutting down as they are difficult to revive.
Along with this, the government has also revived the process of strategic sale with the last one being undertaken by the Atal Behari Vajpayee government in 2003-04 when 72% equity in Jessop & Company was sold to IndoWagon Engineering for Rs.18.2 crore. Strategic sale refers to transfer of management control and ownership. Since then successive governments have steered clear from strategic sales for fear of triggering controversy over valuation and political and trade union opposition to such sales.
The Modi government has vowed to push through strategic sales and expects to raise Rs.20,500 crore from this route in the current financial. The overall target from disinvestment is estimated at Rs.56,500 crore which is lower than the previous year's target of Rs.69,500 crore.
The government had entrusted the Niti Aayog to suggest a roadmap for strategic sale in loss making and other state-run firms. The agency has submitted two reports to the government on the issue.
The government is also pursuing strategic sales in some state-run hotels as well. It has decided to shut down 15 loss-making public sector units, of which at least six have now been cleared by the cabinet.


India vs Pakistan

Caubery Dispute: Karnataka Asked to Release 6,000 Cusecs

The Supreme Court told Karnataka to comply with its order to supply 6,000 cusecs of water daily till Friday to Tamil Nadu, brushing off vehement opposition from state counsel Fali Nariman who cited a resolution passed by the state legislature against any further release of water. “We will not release water. We can't.The House has already passed a resolution,“ Nariman told a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Uday Lalit. But the court insisted that the state government uphold the “majesty“ of the law.
The interim order will continue while the Central government intervenes to soothe flaring tempers in both states and gets the two chief ministers to get back to the negotiating table.

RCom & Jio have Virtually Merged: Anil Ambani

A decade after the Ambani brothers split, Reliance Communications (RCom) Chairman Anil Ambani announced that his telecom company has “virtually“ merged with Reliance Jio Infocomm, owned by elder brother Mukesh. “As far as our 100 million customers are concerned, as far as our 1 million retailers are concerned, as far as our employees are concerned, and as far as our vendors and partners are concerned, there has already been a virtual merger of the two organisations (RCom and Jio),“ Ambani told shareholders at RCom's AGM on Tuesday .
“Our spectrum is shared, our network is shared, our fibre is shared, our towers are shared, our voice is shared...,“ Ambani added. He was responding to shareholder questions about why the two companies aren't officially merging with each other despite numerous agreements around collaboration. RCom and Jio have pacts to share and trade spectrum. Besides, the two also have tower and fibre-sharing agreements. The two telcos have also synced their network operating centres, optic fibre service contracts and network maintenance functions. “There are two committed brothers -Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani -both working relentlessly to fulfil the dream of Dhirubhai Ambani,“ said Ambani.
The announcement of a “virtual merger“ of the two companies follows Jio's launch earlier this month. The undivided Reliance Industries had made its first foray into the telecom sector in 2002. Mukesh Ambani and his close friend and aide Manoj Modi spearheaded the launch of the telecom venture.
But after the family division, following Dhirubhai Ambani's death, the telecom business along with the power and financial services businesses went to Anil Ambani, while the oil and petrochemicals business remained with his older brother.
The two brothers signed a non-compete pact, which was scrapped by mutual agreement in 2010. Subsequently, the older Ambani re-entered the telecom sector by buying a company that had acquired pan-India 4G airwaves in an auction. The acquired company was subsequently renamed Reliance Jio Infocomm.
RCom and Jio have already been working in tandem from the start of this year when the former announced it was upgrading all its data users to Jio's 4G network, in what was described by some people as the first test for the new company's 4G data services.RCom then ran a pilot offering 4G data dongles worth Rs.3,999 at Rs.899 in April this year. The service offered 4G at the price of 3G, but the 4G was riding on the Jio network under the sharing agreement.
With the “virtual merger“, and the merger with Aircel, RCom's need for capex and spending at the upcoming auction is limited, the younger Ambani said, adding that putting up a 4G network would have cost Rs.20,000 crore or so.
Commenting on RCom's future, Ambani said the company possessed necessary airwaves across 2G, 3G and 4G bands in addition to the spectrum sharing and trading deals with Jio, and would become one of the top telcos in 12 out of 22 telecom circles after the Aircel merger.

India Pulls Out of Saarc Summit

India pulled out of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit to be held in Islamabad in November, automatically forcing its postponement and ratcheting up the pressure on Pakistan following the terrorist attack in Uri that led to the death of 18 soldiers. The move is aimed at undermining Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif 's stature and marks his country's isolation in the region with other member nations rallying in support of India.
“In the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad,“ External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said.“We also understand that some other Saarc member states have conveyed their reservations about attending the Islamabad summit in November 2016.“
India, which holds Pakistan responsible for a series of terrorist attacks on its soil, has been looking for ways in which it can put pressure on the neighbouring country to end these and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Toward this end, the Modi government has been examining the Indus river water treaty and plans to review the most-favoured nation status accorded to Pakistan in 1996 on Thursday .
India wouldn't be able to attend the summit given the current situation, the government said. Nonetheless, India remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but feels these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror, he said.
India also handed over evidence to Pakistan on Tuesday of direct involvement of Pak-based terrorists in the Uri attack.

Somewhere in Kolkata....

India jumps 16 places in competitiveness index

India jumped 16 places in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) to emerge as the highest rising economy due to improvement in goods market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation. India was ranked 39 out of 138 countries which were reviewed. This is the second year in a row that the country has climbed 16 places in the ranking, according to WEF.
Switzerland, Singapore and the US remain as the world's most competitive economies. China ranks 28 in the index. Among the other BRICS countries, Russia is ranked 43rd, South Africa at 47, while Brazil declined six notches to end up at 81.
“Thanks to improved monetary and fiscal policies, as well as lower oil prices, the Indian economy has stabilized and now boasts the highest growth among G20 economies,“ according to the GCI report. It measures 12 areas which include institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods and market efficiency , labour market efficiency among others. Economists said the government's push to plug gaps in the economy had helped.

Gurgaon is now officially Gurugram

It's official. There's nothing called Gurgaon anymore, only Gurugram. Haryana chief minster M L Khattar said on Tuesday that the Centre has approved his proposal for the name change.The approval process took just six months, surprising many.The chief minister had announced the name change on April 12 this year. The Khattar government is also keen to launch the Gurugram Development Authority (GDA) before November 1.

Mumbai Metro 2B & 4 corridors to be ready by 2022

The Maharashtra state cabinet has approved the construction of Metro line 2B and Metro line 4. The approval came just months ahead of the BMC elections scheduled to be held in February 2017, prompting speculation that the move may be more of an election gimmick.
While Metro 2B is estimated to cost Rs.10,986 crore, the projected cost for Metro 4 is Rs.14,459 crore.
Metro 2B is proposed from DN Nagar, in Andheri West, to Mandala in the eastern suburbs.The 23.5-km long corridor will have 22 stations. Interchanges will be available with the Metro 1 at DN Nagar, the suburban rail network at Bandra, Metro 3 at ITO junction and both suburban rail and Metro 4 at Kurla East.
The Metro 4 line is proposed from Wadala to Kasarwadavli, a distance of 32.32 km and will have 32 stations. It will connect Mumbai to Thane. Interchanges will be available at Wadala with the Monorail, at Kurla EEH with Metro 2B and at Kapurbawdi with Metro 5.Trains on both the proposed corridors will be six-coach ones, carrying approximately 1,800 commuters per trip.
Both the lines, Metro 2B and 4, are targeted to be operational by 2021-22. However, sources said the detailed project report (DPR) for Metro 2B is not ready, though the one for Metro 4 has been prepared.
Other Metro corridors that have been approved for Mumbai include Dahisar to DN Nagar (Metro-2A), Colaba-Bandra-Seepz (Metro-3) and Dahisar-East to Andheri-East (Metro-7).


3 AP airports get Centre's nod

In a major boost to the development of airports in Andhra Pradesh, the Centre gave `in principle' clearance for three major airports -Bhogapuram in Vizianagram, Dhagadarthi in Nellore and Orvakal in Kurnool district.
The Bhogapuram International Airport, a greenfield project, is to come up in Vizianagaram district and would be located about 40 kilometres north-east of Visakhapatnam. The airport project will come up on 5,311 acres in and around Bhogapuram. It will be built by the Bhogapuram International Airport Company Limited (BIACL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) owned by the government.The project will be taken up in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, with the state having the stake in the form of land holdings.Out of the 2,800 acres land acquisition, consent or permission has been received for 2,000 acres.
Along with the Bhogapuram airport, BIACL will also develop the Nellore and Orvakal airports under the low-cost airport model.Tenders have been floated for selection of developers for these three airports and are under the finalisation process, stated AP Infrastructure and Investments secretary Ajay Jain.
According to a press release by the infrastructure and investments department, the government of India gave the `in-principle' clearances for the three airports after Ajay Jain made a Power Point presentation at a high-level meeting in New Delhi on Monday that was attended by officials of seven key departments, including the ministry of civil aviation, ministry of environment and forests, ministry of home affairs and ministry of economic affairs. In the presentation, Jain spoke on the need for providing clearance to these airports and specified that the air-connectivity between cities and markets makes for an important infrastructure asset that will generate benefits through enabling foreign direct investment, business clusters and other spill-over impacts on the productive capacity of state economy .
These airports will provide a much-needed fillip for economic development in the respective districts in particular and overall development of the state in general through contribution to GDP , tax revenues and major employment generation apart from attracting sizable investments.

PSLV puts 8 satellites into orbit

With its engine turned off for much of the mission duration that lasted for two hours and 15 minutes, the PSLV glided its way not just across the earth, but the annals of India's spacefaring history , placing eight satellites in multiple orbits along the way on Monday .
The rocket had two coasting periods, which together lasted for more than 1.5 hours after its engine was reignited and shut down twice to help manoeuvre the rocket to inject the satellites into their orbits.About 17 minutes after PSLV-C35 lifted off from the first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Scatsat-1, India's weather monitoring satellite, was injected into a polar sun synchronous orbit. About 100 minutes later, seven other satellites were placed in the other polar orbit.
When PSLV-C35 placed Scatsat-1in the polar synchronous orbit 17 minutes after lift-off from Sriharikota, both the satellite and the rocket began to circle the earth. About 66 minutes later, the rocket's fourth-stage engine was reignited and shut down for about 20 seconds, as a preparation to switching orbits and launching the rest of the satellites. The shutdown gave the necessary thrust for the rocket to manoeuvre further and change orbits The rocket was coasting at a speed of about 27,000 km per hour.
The engine was restarted and cut off for 20 seconds, about 45 minutes after it coasted for the second time during its mission. A minute later, seven other satellites were placed in orbit one after the other within 3.45 minutes. “PSLV launches usually last 20 to 25 minutes. But this launch lasted nearly two-and-a half hours. It was almost like having two separate launches,“ said B Jayakumar, mission director.
Very few space-faring countries have achieved this feat. European Space Agency's Vega rocket recently accomplished a twin-orbit manoeuvre.
While Isro tested the restart and shutdown of its fourth-stage engine in two previous PSLV launches, the launch on Monday was still complex at various levels. “One side of the rocket was getting hot, as it was facing the sun while the other side was using heat to move,“ Jayakumar said. He added that PSLV now has the flexibility to suit customers' demands.

Somewhere in Latur....

The water train chugging into Latur to meet the city's drinking water supply is unlikely to recur in the next five years, at least said officials. Unprecedented heavy showers that lashed Marathwada over past few days have helped increase water levels in all resources, including Manjara dam, which is considered the lifeline for Latur.
Manjara dam, which has a storage capacity of nine thousand million cubic feet, was in dead storage since 2012 till a few weeks ago.With the dam filled up to 97% of its capacity , officials have started discharging water.Though the rain receded on Monday , water from catchment areas continued to flow into the dam, which is situated about 80 km from .
Latur has a daily requirement of 60 million litres and considering consecutive years of drought, the government had started supplying water to the city through a train from Miraj. The severe drought had brought industries to a grinding halt and severely affected trade and business in the city .
“Lower Terna, another major dam, is also heading towards getting full ... and the storage we presently have, is enough to last for about 5 years,“ said Mohammed Sarfaraz , a senior geologist at the Ground Water Survey and Development Agency .
He added that the groundwater table that had dropped by 3.5 metres has already made significant recovery and the level are constantly rising. They were in the process of assessing the groundwater table.
Latur district disaster management officer Saqueb Osmani said the problem of drinking water supply for Latur and nearby areas would be closed chapter now.“The Manjra dam and other barrages supplying water to Latur are filled to storage capacity ,“ he said. Number of NGOs had rushed to Latur to implement different schemes to deepen and widen the water resources that had run dry across the district.
Latur district collector Pandurang Pole said that following the drought, most farmers had already shifted to other crop. But due to good rains, some might think of opting for sugarcane.

Interestingly enough, the Latur civic body cannot immediately fetch water from its pumping station at Manjara dam.The 800 kv transformer installed by the civic body was stolen from Manjara dam vicinity recently.

16M Sq Ft More Grade-A Office Stock In Mumbai By 2017

Mumbai figures among top three cities globally that will add the maximum supply of Grade-A office space through 2017, according to a recent finding by JLL.
Shanghai tops the list among major global markets and the city is followed by Mexico City , Mumbai, Beijing, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Moscow, San Francisco and London in the Top 10, as of the first half of 2016. The city's current office stock stands at 106 million square feet; it will add 8% of this stock through 2016 or almost 8.5 million square feet.From the third quarter of 2016 through the fourth quarter of 2017, the financial capital of India will expand its Grade-A office footprint by around 15% or almost 16 million sq ft.
The report said these figures do not factor in construction delays. In the survey that covers all office sub-markets in each city , it is markets from emerging economies that dominate the Top 10 list. Shanghai leads with 42% of its current stock to be added in the next 18 months, followed by Mexico City at 22.5%.Beijing at 14%, Sao Paulo at 10% and Moscow at 7% are the three other cities from emerging economies among the Top 10. Among the mature economies, Singapore will add 11%, Tokyo 9%, San Francisco 6% and London 5% of their current office stock.
The Grade-A supply to co me up in 2018-19 in the city's central business district (CBD) of Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and secondary business district (SBD) of central Mumbai will be just 1.6 million sq ft in an ideal scenario--that is, when delays do not occur in construction work, out of a total expected supply of 11 million sq ft.


The India Food Service Report: 2016

Indians work the longest hours

Chindia: Random Statz

Petroleum Products' consumption....


In its first multi-orbital launch, India's workhorse PSLV will inject eight different satellites, including the country's weather satellite SCATSAT-1 and five from other nations, into two different orbits.
The countdown for the Monday launch of SCATSAT-1 for ocean and weather related studies along with seven other satellites, is progressing satisfactorily, a top ISRO official said on Sunday.
India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C35, which will be launched from the First Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota at 9.12 am on Monday, will carry the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 along with seven other satellites, including from the US and Canada. The total weight of all the eight satellites onboard PSLV C35 is about 675 kg, ISRO said.
“Countdown started yesterday (Saturday) and all things are moving satisfactorily,“ ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar said. PSLV C-35 will be putting the satellites in two different orbits, he added. While SCATSAT-1 will be released first into a 730 km Polar Sunsynchronous Orbit (SSO) after about 17 minutes, the rest will be injected into a lower orbit of 689 km after around two hours.
Besides SCATSAT-1, the others are PRATHAM and PISAT, two academic satellites from India, ALSAT-1B, ALSAT-2B and ALSAT-1N (all from Algeria) and Pathfinder-1 and NLS-19, from USA and Canada, respectively.The 48-and-a-half-hour countdown for PSLV-C3 5SCATSAT-1 Mission started at 8:42am on Saturday.
According to ISRO, this is the first mission of PSLV in which it will be launching its payloads into two different orbits. This will be the 15th flight of PSLV in `XL' configuration with the use of solid strap-on motors, it added.
The mission objectives of SCATSAT-1are to help provide weather forecasting services to the user communities through the generation of wind vector products for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking, ISRO said.

Somewhere in the NE....

The strategic Dhola-Sadiya bridge on Brahmaputra, which will reduce travel time between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by four hours, is likely to be opened to traffic before next monsoon season. The road ministry has approved compensation to property owners to get the required land for building the 2-kilometre approach road on Sadiya side for the project.
Once the Rs 938-crore two-lane project is completed, it will be the longest bridge in Asia and will be crucial for defence purposes also. The bridge is also being strengthened for the passage of army tanks. At present, there is no bridge fortified for passage of tanks around Tinsukia from where troops can cross over to Arunachal Pradesh. Moreover, it will cut time for the armed forces to reach the border in Dibang and Anjaw via Tezpur, which takes two days (about 186 km from Guwahati) now. The bridge connectivity is also important as Arunachal Pradesh does not have a single operational airport and with China building air strips on its side of the LAC it will come as a shot in the arm for the military . 

DMIC snippets

The $100-billion Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, one of India's most ambitious infrastructure projects, will kick off land allotments next month and those eyeing plots are said to include big global investors like Ikea, Kia Motors and China Railway Construction Corp.
The allocations will mark a significant step forward in a project that was approved by cabinet in 2011. Other potential investors include German wind turbine manufacturer Senvion, Korean Land & Housing Corp. and Chinese real estate company Country Garden. The land will be fully developed with world-class infrastructure, a big attraction for investors ready to pay a premium for clean titles in four brand new industrial cities being developed as part of the project.
The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corp. (DMICDC) has received several queries about available land with many asking for assurances of litigation-free land in the past few weeks, said the person cited above. Many of those seeking land are said to have informally visited sites to inspect infrastructure and availability.
The project will be implemented in three phases, with the first expected to be completed by 2025 and the second by 2032. Work on trunk infrastructure is on in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and is expected to be completed by 2019. The corporation has finalised its land use plan and is now in the process of finalising its land policy after which it will start allocations. The policy will determine whether land will be allotted through auction or on a first-come-first-served basis.
DMIDC is looking for big anchor investors, especially in the manufacturing sector, that will infuse large amounts of capital and in turn attract others, turning into employment-generation hubs.
The government will extend concessions to anchor investor in terms of price or tax benefits. The four industrial cities under the project are Dholera Special Investment Region (Gujarat), Shendra Bidkin Industrial Park & Dighi Port Industrial Area (Maharashtra), Integrated Industrial Township (Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh) and Vikram Udyogpuri (Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh).


Somewhere in Daman & Diu....

Parched Maharashtra gets record rain

Incessant rain in the past three days has changed Marathwada's dry region image overnight, especially in Beed district that registered up to 180 mm rainfall in a day . Two dams that were in dead storage until Thursday are now filled to over 80% of their capacity .
After battling drought for four consecutive years, the Beed district administration has now issued a flood alert in many parts as the district has roped in teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to manage any disaster. At least three persons from Beed are missing and feared to have drowned.
The latest downpour has taken the total rainfall in Beed district to 668.36 mm, which is just over 100% of the annual average rainfall. Beed is now just the second drought-hit district in the region to meet its annual rainfall expectation. Parched Latur district has recorded 906.79mm so far, which is over 113% of its annual rainfall.
The India Meteorological Department's heavy rainfall alert held true in several other parts of Marathwada too, including Latur, Parbhani and Nanded districts. As many as 129 circles from Marathwada region have reported heavy rainfall, which is more than 65 mm in 24 hours, till Saturday morning.
Official data showed that eight of the nine talukas from Beed district had reported heavy downpour on Friday and Saturday . In Beed city, the main ST bus stand, Subhash Road and several low-lying areas were completely waterlogged throwing routine life completely out of gear.
The Bindusara dam, located around 15 km from city , began overflowing on Saturday morning, drawing hundreds of youths to its backwaters.The discharge from the dam caused the Bindusara river, a tributary of the Godavari, to flow above danger level for a few hours on Saturday morning. Vehicular traffic on a bridge over Bindusara river on the National Highway no.211 passing through Beed was briefly stopped, as the river was above the danger mark.
Beed resident deputy collector Chandrakant Suryawanshi said barring two major dams, most of the remaining 140 dams in the district were filled to full capacity by Saturday afternoon .
Latur, where reservoirs had run dry , received 63.66 mm rainfall in the 24 hours till Saturday morning. The latest downpour brought good showers to almost all parts of Marathwada, with Parbhani (57.19 mm), Jalna (52.75 mm), Nanded (50.08 mm), Hingoli (45.32 mm) and Osmanabad (41.92 mm) also reporting moderate to heavy showers.
At 19.16 mm, Aurangabad district recorded the lowest rainfall among eight districts in Marathwada in the past 24 hours until Saturday morning.


Until now, it was believed that the healing properties of the Ganga were merely the stuff of myths. However, scientists from the Institute of Microbial Technology (Imtech), Chandigarh, have for the first time come forward with scientific evidence that the water of Ganga does not putrefy easily . They have identified new viruses, or bacteriophages, which mimic bacteria in the river's sediment and eat them up.
The scientific world has always been baffled by the antiseptic properties of Ganga's waters. In 1896, British physician E Hanbury Hankin observed that cholera microbes died within three hours in its water, but thrived in distilled water even after 48 hours. This remained hypothetical until Imtech experts found the new viruses which, in effect, make the water a disinfectant.
Imtech is one of the laboratories of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Scientists say the bacteriophages get their nutrients from decomposing bodies and other waste dumped into the river.The study has revealed 20 to 25 types of bacteriophages in the river which can fight microorganisms that cause diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, cholera and urinary tract infection, among others. “We analyzed the viral metagenomes in sediments of the Ganga and found different types of phages, said Dr Shanmugam Mayilraj, senior principal scientist and professor at Imtech.
He said the sediments house several novel viruses, which were never reported earlier. These are active against certain bacterial strains and can be used against multi-drug resistant infections. “Bacteriophages we re represented by the order Caudovirales which shared the 57% of the total viral community . Further analysis showed the presence of families Siphoviridae, Podoviridae and Myoviridae,“ said Mayilraj.
The team collected pre monsoon and post-monsoon samples from the highly polluted Haridwar-Varanasi stretch. Also part of the project were Nagpur-based National Environment Engineering Research Institute co-ordinating lab, National Botanical Research Institute, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research and Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, all in Lucknow. The consolidated report of all these laboratories would be submitted to the water resources ministry by December.

PM slams Pakistan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck a combative note in his first public address after the Uri attack, saying the sacrifice of 18 soldiers martyred in the Army camp would not go in vain. At a rally here, the PM issued a blunt warning that India would make every effort to isolate Pakistan for exporting terrorism. “The leaders of Pakistan should not forget that the sacrifice of our 18 jawans will not go in vain. We will quicken our campaign to isolate Pakistan in the world. We will force you to remain alone in the world,“ Modi said. “Terrorists should hear clearly , India will never forget Uri...India has not bowed to terrorism and will not do so now.“
Modi did not make a direct threat but was relentless in accusing Pakistan of being the “one nation in Asia“ wanting to plunge the region into bloodshed and terrorism. Virtually jettisoning his efforts to build an equation with Nawaz Sharif and push for normalisation of ties in the first two years of his prime ministership, Modi blamed the Uri strike on Pakistan and slammed his counterpart for toeing the line of terrorist masterminds and said he and the rest of the world had no illusions that Sharif could stop the export of terror. The world has no hope that the ruling establishment in Pakistan will stop exporting terror,“ PM Narendra Modi said as he reached out to the people of Pakistan, saying they ought to realise that the bellicose rhetoric of their rulers was a ploy to conceal their failure to develop the country .He hit out at Sharif 's reference to Burhan Wani in his UN speech, describing it as a “stuti gaan (eulogy)“ of a terrorist. “Pakistan's leaders read out speeches prepared by the masters of terrorists to preach on Kashmir,“ said Modi. “People of Pakistan should know their leaders talk of a 1,000-year war to mislead them. Today , there is such a government in Delhi ...I am ready to accept this challenge,“ the PM said.
The speech came against a groundswell of anger against Pakistan and expectation of retribution, as well as taunts from opponents about his failure to walk the talk. In his keenly awaited speech, the PM gave no indication that the response of the government would go beyond the effort to isolate Pakistan and could cover military option, but catered to the popular expectation of vengeance. He said, “ About 110 terrorists were killed in the past few months. They succeeded once and we lost 18 jawans. Just think if those 17 attempts had succeeded how much damage it would have resulted in. I salute our jawans for stopping them.“
He said whenever a major incident of terrorism happens anywhere in the world, the trail leads to Pakistan, either before or after the event, as was the case when 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden found refuge there. The PM said he would like to address the Pakistani people directly and ask whether they are being misled over Kashmir. “People of Pakistan should ask their leaders that PoK is with them but they cannot handle it. Some time back, Bangladesh was with you. You cannot handle Gilgit, Pakhunistan and Balochistan...by talking of Kashmir they are befooling you,“ the PM said.


Apple buys Tuplejump

Apple quietly acquired a little-known Hyderabad-based startup a few months ago for an undisclosed amount and while little is known about what Tuplejump does, the word is that this is part of the Cupertino-based giant's exploration into artificial intelligence. Known in the trade as an acqui-hire, nearly all of Tuplejump's 16 employees are in the process of becoming Apple staffers. A back-of-the-envelope calculation by an expert put the valuation at about $20 million (Rs.27 crore).
Tuplejump is Apple's first acquisition in India. Including this, the iPhone-maker has bought three artificial intelligence companies this year, the others being Turi and Emotient. Apple's AI-based assistant Siri is facing increasing competition from similar services out of Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
Apple did not give any details on the Tuplejump acquisition, only saying, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.“ TechCrunch first reported the news. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook had visited Hyderabad in May, shortly after the Tuplejump acquisition, to inaugurate his company's first development centre in the country. During his first official visit to India, Cook also announced plans to set up a design and development startup accelerator in Bengaluru and open retail outlets in the country. While iPhone purchases have increased in India, globally Apple is struggling with slowing sales.
Tuplejump was founded in 2013 by Rohit Rai, Satyaprakash Buddhavarapu and Deepak Alur. While Rai and Buddhavarapu relocated to Apple's office in Silicon Valley in May, Alur joined Premji Invest-backed Anaplan as engineering head. Rai and Buddhavarapu were equal partners in Tuplejump as of March 31, 2015.
The bootstrapped company reported a profit of Rs.80,000 in 2014-15 on revenue of about Rs.70 lakh, according the company's annual report.

GST Council Gets Off to Flying Start

The Centre and states made substantial progress on the goods and services tax by arriving at several decisions on the levy at the first meeting of the GST Council, bolstering expectations that the government will be able to meet an April 1, 2017 deadline for its rollout.
The two-day inaugural meeting of the council, consisting of state and central representatives, has set the stage for a discussion on rules and what the eventual rates will be. The council will meet next on September 30 to finalise rules and subsequently on October 17-19 to thrash out the rates.
Given that views among the states and the Centre vary widely on rates, that meeting could see some tough negotiations. The government doesn't want to set the rate too high as that could be inflationary and make it a harder sell, while states are wary of losing too much revenue with a low rate.
On Friday, the council agreed to an exemption threshold of Rs.20 lakh for all states barring the north-east and hill-area states. It also adopted a cross-empowerment model for tax administration, a formula for compensating states and agreed to subsume all cesses into the new tax.
The GST threshold was set at Rs.10 lakh for the north-east and hill states, which had been given a carve-out in the constitutional amendment that paved the way for GST.
Some states, including UP had favoured a lower threshold than the Rs.25 lakh proposed earlier.
Experts welcomed the raft of decisions at the first council meeting.“
The cross-empowerment model will allow taxpayers to restrict their interaction to a single tax authority for central GST, state GST and integrated, or iGST. Central and state GST are two components of a single GST levied on intra-state sales, while iGST will apply to inter-state sales.
Jaitley said all 11 lakh service providers registered with the tax department will be assessed by central tax authorities and new ones will be shared with state authorities after due training.
Assessees with a turnover of less than Rs.1.5 crore annually will be assessed by state tax authorities and those above that through the new cross-empowerment model. Under this model, tax administrators will use a formula to decide which assessees they will audit or register. The taxpayer will then have to interact with one authority.
The Centre is required to compensate states for any loss of revenue for the first five years. Jaitley said the draft compensation formula has been decided and the Centre has agreed to states' demand that FY16 be set as the base year for measuring these losses apart from the payment of compensation at regular intervals on a quarterly basis.
The growth rate formula in revenue is yet to be worked out. Some states want the three best of the last five years to be taken up, others want two outliers among five.

In-principle nod for Purandar airport site near Pune

An in-principle approval has been granted to the proposed international airport site at Purandar, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Friday .
Within the next eight days, a meeting will be held with the Maharashtra Airport Development Company for the proposed airport, Fadnavis said on the sidelines of a review meeting of the five flagship programmes undertaken by the Pune division. “People of Purandar are also positive about the development,“ he said. The government will consider about the rehabilitation process, various models while preparing a time line for the execution of the project, the chief minister said, adding that a detailed project report will be prepared later. The AAI had earlier this month carried out a detailed technical survey using GPS and physical mapping to gather minute details about the 2,000 hectare land in Purandar.
A preliminary survey had already been conducted last month. The second survey aimed to identify obstacles and possible environmental damage, if any . The district administration will take all necessary steps to protect the interest of land owners and farmers.


Of India's complex Retail policies....

India has one of the most complex policies for retailing in the world. Unlike other countries, the sector here is classified into several segments such as single-brand, multi-brand, wholesale, ecommerce -and each is governed by a separate FDI policy. For potential foreign players, all this creates confusion and imposes entry conditions that are sometimes difficult to meet. A case in point is a new carveup, food-only retailing, where 100% FDI is permitted but only locally sourced and produced food items are allowed to be sold.....

Monetary Policy Committee gets going

The government appointed three members to the monetary policy committee (MPC), putting the seal on India's new architecture for setting interest rates and ending the Reserve Bank of India governor's role as sole arbiter. Its first policy review is scheduled for October 4.
The three are academics - Chetan Ghate, associate professor at Indian Statistical Institute; Pami Dua, director, Delhi School of Economics; and Ravindra H Dholakia, professor of economics at Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. They will be joined by three Reserve Bank members, making up a total of six, with Governor Urjit Patel having a casting vote. The other two members are R Gandhi, deputy governor in charge of monetary policy, and executive director Michael Patra.
The government nominees will have a four-year term “or until further orders, whichever is earlier“, the finance ministry said, announcing the appointments on Thursday.
Although appointed by the government, the three will function as independent members.
The new framework should see a lowering of friction that has at times arisen between finance ministry and the central bank, which is often regarded by the government as ignoring the need to nurture growth in the drive to quell inflation.
The committee will be guided by the consumer inflation target the government has set in discussion with the RBI - 4% with a margin of two percentage points for the five years ending March 2021. The next monetary policy review will also be the first after Patel took over as governor from Raghuram Rajan earlier this month.
Expectations are that the policy rate will be cut by 25 basis points following a sharp moderation in consumer inflation to 5.05% in August from 6.07% in the month before. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point. The committee will decide interest rates through a majority vote, with each member having one vote. In the case of a tie, the governor has a casting vote. At least four members will have to be present for the quorum to be complete.
Ghate has previously been on the five-member technical advisory committee that the RBI governor consulted ahead of each policy review.He was also a member of the expert group that suggested the switch to a committee-based monetary management system with an explicit inflation target. 

Of vacancy in Malls....

Ahmedabad continues to languish when it comes to utilization of available retail space. The city witnessed the highest vacant space in malls during the first half of 2016, said a report by real estate consultant Cushman and Wakefield (C&W).
The city did not see any new supply of retail space during the period on account of lower demand from retailers and high vacancy in existing malls.Among the top eight cities across India, Ahmedabad had the highest 33% vacancy in malls followed by Delhi NCR and Pune with vacancy of 20% each. Malls in Mumbai and Bengaluru saw vacancy of 16% and 12% respectively .
“Unplanned and concentrated development of malls at select locations have led to oversupply of mall spaces in the city. These malls were therefore unable to attract sufficient footfalls to generate profitable revenues,“ said Anshul Jain, managing director, India, C&W .
There is 4.3 million sq ft of space in various malls across the city, of which 33% is vacant.
According to C&W , owing to low demand from retailers and high availability of spaces in the existing stock, mall developers have refrained from launching or adding new malls in the city. Apart from Ahmedabad, Chennai and Hyderabad too did not register new supply of retail space in the first half.

IPL's Valuation

The BCCI has claimed that brand IPL is worth $4.5 billion, or Rs.27,000 crore. In its annual report for 2015-16, the Board has mentioned that this staggering figure for `cricket's biggest brand' was calculated by valuation appraisal firm Duff & Phelps last year. “According to the Broadcast Audience Research Council of India, the total TV viewership of IPL 2016 calculated by impressions stood at 102 crores. A report by management consultancy firm KPMG puts the total impact of IPL 2015 on the Indian economy at Rs.1,150 crore, more than 0.6 % of the country's GDP ,“ states the report.
The BCCI has just floated an open tender for the T20 league's global media rights (TV and digital) for a period of 10 years, with the digital rights available for half that period. The battle for these rights may see leading sports broadcasters like Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI) and Star Sports spend more than $4 billion to pocket them.
According to a survey carried out by the Board, the 2016 IPL was a superhit. 52% of the TV viewing households watched the tournament, with the league's cumulative TV reach being 361 million viewers. 1,543,655 spectators went to watch the matches on the ground, while 4,40,000 people paid a visit to the `fanparks,' a maiden initiative taken by the BCCI to popularise the league in tier-2 cities.
The BCCI has claimed that the net viewership of the league has hit the 100 million mark The `Summer Slam' is leading the charts on the social media too, as per the survey . At 300%, its growth on twitter is the fastest among all the top sporting leagues of the world since 2014.

Forbes Rich List

Yoga guru Ramdev's close associate Acharya Balkrishna has entered the annual Forbes list of India's 100 Richest People at the 48th position with a net worth of $2.5 billion, owing to his 97% holding in Patanjali Ayurved. However, new-age retailer Flipkart's co-founders Sachin and Binny Bansal made a surprise exit from the list.
The Forbes list named industrialist Mukesh Ambani as India's richest person for the ninth year in a row with a sharp increase in his net worth to $22.7 billion, while Sun Pharma's Dilip Shanghvi was ranked a distant second with a wealth of $16.9 billion. Mukesh's younger brother Anil Ambani was ranked 32nd with a net worth of $3.4 billion, down from 29th spot last year. This year, the minimum amount required to make to the Forbes list was $1.25 billion, up from $1.1 billion in 2015. Forbes said the list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and regulators. Forbes said the combined net worth of India's 100 wealthiest is $381 billion (nearly Rs.25.5 lakh crore), a rise of 10% from $345 billion in 2015.
Balkrishna is among the six newcomers on the list, while 13 persons have failed to make the cut this year.Flipkart's Bansals were ranked 86th last year with a net worth of $1.3 billion.
Shanghvi retained his second position, though his wealth fell by $1.1 billion due to plunge in share price of his group firm Sun Pharma, the world's fifth largest generic drug maker, Forbes said. The Hinduja brothers rose to the third spot by displacing Premji and saw their worth rising to $15.2 billion, from $14.8 a year ago.

Drive from Mumbai to Goa in just six hours by 2018

A drive between Mumbai and Goa, located at a distance of about 600 km, will take just six hours, thanks to the revival of the National Highway Authority of India's (NHAI) four-lane concrete road project, Union minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari has said. The widening of the two-lane NH-66 into a four-lane one, at an estimated expense of Rs.12,000 crore, will be completed by 2018.There are plans to build 15 bridges along the stretch for faster vehicular movement.
The project to widen the existing highway , constructed in 1974, had begun in 2011on a build-operate-transfer basis, but came to a halt due to lack of clearances from the forest department and problems with land acquisition. A 20 km stretch of the approximately 472 km-long highway passes through the Karnala bird sanctuary--an eco-sensitive zone--with 1.5 km running right through the forest's core area.
Gadkari added that the new road will have a lifespan of at least 50 years.
The NHAI is responsible for the widening of an 84 km stretch from Panvel to Indapur at a cost of approximately Rs.1,000 crore. Expansion of the 350 km stretch from Indapur till Ratnagiri is being handled by Maharashtra's public works department and contracts have already been handed out for 150 km.
The highway will help boost tourism in the coastal state, Gadkari said, and added that he has agreed to link the Mumbai-Goa highway to Pollem in South Goa against the earlier plan to connect it up to Patradevi on Goa's border touching Maharashtra.Gadkari also said that an eight kilometre stretch of highway will be constructed to connect the upcoming Mopa airport in North Goa, 40 km away from Panaji, to NH-17 at a cost of approximately Rs.300 crore.

India dubs Pak as the `Ivy League of terror'

Bluntly calling Pakistan a terrorist state and a global epicentre of terrorism, India told the UN that Islamabad's use of terror as an instrument of state policy was a war crime. “The worst violation of human rights is terrorism. When practised as an instrument of state policy it is a war crime,“ first secretary Eenam Gambhir said in response to Pakistan PM Sharif 's speech in which he had raised J-K. Observing how so many terror attacks, including 911, led to Pakistan, she said, “The land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism.“ First secretary Eenam Gambhir's response to what she described as Pakistan's “long tirade“ about the situation in J-K was short, furious, and unprecedented in its intensity and descriptions. It also indicated a new Indian resolve to push for having Pakistan recognised as a nuclear proliferating terrorist state based on its record and substantial evidence of its nurturing of terror groups.
There was a specific reference to the hunt for Osama bin Laden leading to Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was found and killed next to a Pakistan military garrison. Several other terrorists, including Mullah Omar, Ramzi Yousef, and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, not to speak of numerous foot soldiers, including last week's New York bomber, have found refuge and inspiration in Pakistan. “It attracts aspirants and apprentices from all over the world. The effect of its toxic curriculum are felt across the globe,“ Gambhir explained in this context, as India for the first time brought to the world's attention the fallout of Pakistan's nurturing of terrorist groups that the UN itself has recorded and proscribed.
“It is ironical, therefore, that we have seen today the preaching of human rights and ostensible support for self-determination by a country which has established itself as the global epicentre of terrorism,“ Gambhir added in a reference to Sharif 's remarks on Jammu and Kashmir. More humiliation followed as Gambhir also accused Pakistan of diverting international aid for terrorism, raising the possibility that New Delhi will now begin a campaign to cut off assistance on which Islamabad subsists.Hillary Clinton, among others, have acknowledged that aid money is fungible, and a further US squeeze on assistance, not withstanding the small amounts China and the Gulf monarchs toss at Pakistan, could be disastrous.
“What we see in Pakistan, Mr President, is a terrorist state, which channelises billions of dollars, much of it diverted from international aid, to training, financing and supporting terrorist groups as militant proxies against it neighbors,“ Gambhir told the UN, many of whose members give aid that enables Pakistan to survive. “Terrorist entities and their leaders, including many designated by the UN, continue to roam its streets freely and operate with state support. With the approval of authorities, many terrorist organisations raise funds openly in flagrant violation of Pakistan's international obligations,“ Gambhir reminded them in a reference to Hafiz Saeed, a terrorist with bounty money on him. India also took aim at the internal tensions in Pakistan, calling it a “country with a democracy deficit“.“In fact, it practises terrorism on its own people. It extends support to extremist groups, it suppresses minorities and women and denies basic human rights including through draconian laws,“ Gambhir told UN delegates, in what may be just a warm-up to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's speech, expected later in the week.
In one short sentence, the Indian representative addressed any concern at the UN over the Kashmir issue ­ including from many OIC and Arab monarchies and dictatorships that profess support to Pakistan but are also victims of terrorism. “As a democracy , India is firmly resolved to protect all our citizens from all acts of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. We cannot and will not allow terrorism to prevail,“ she said.She also reminded them that India's (and Pakistan's) neighbors (which include Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Iran) suffer the effects of Pakistan's state-sponsored terrorism, even as its consequences had spread well beyond the region.
Terrorists inspired, facilitated, and trained in Pakistan have struck throughout the world, including in New York, London, San Bernardino, and Brussels, among other cities. The Indian representative also ridiculed Sharif 's talk of nuclear restraint and peace, reminding the UN that Pakistan's “nuclear proliferation record is marked by deception and deceit“. “Similar false promises it has made to us­ the international community­ on terrorism. Perhaps renunciation of lies and self-restraint on threats could be a good place for Pakistan to start,“ Gambhir concluded scornfully .
It was the strongest Indian riposte to periodic tiffs with Pakistan that has been seen in 22 years, including during the Kargil war.

Voda gets ready to fight Jio

In the largest foreign direct investment in India since the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was voted in in 2014, Vodafone Plc, Europe's biggest mobile service provider, has infused $7.5 billion (Rs.47,700 crore) in its Indian arm, empowering the company with more ammunition to defend its turf in the world's second largest telecommunications market where competition has intensified with the entry of Reliance Jio.
Vodafone India, the No. 2 player with 200 million subscribers behind Bharti Airtel, will be using the funds to ramp up its network and participate in the upcoming radio airwaves auction. The announcement came eight days ahead of the launch of the biggest-ever spectrum auction and 17 days after the launch of Reliance Jio, which is emerging as the biggest rival for incumbent mobile service providers.
Reliance Jio, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has stormed the market with free calls and rock-bottom data tariffs, pressuring existing telecom operators to rethink their strategies to protect their market share. Vodafone India is expected to be the most aggressive bidder at the ensuing spectrum auction with analysts predicting that it could spend as much as Rs.16,300 crore on buying airwaves.
The new telecom war and the fresh equity injection in Vodafone India, the second largest investment in the country after British Petroleum's acquisition of 30% stake in Reliance Industries' 21 oil blocks on the Krishna Godavari basin off the Andhra coast for $7.2 billion in 2011, has raised speculation that the Newbury , England-based parent may delay taking its local arm public.
Vodafone Plc entered the country in 2007 by acquiring a 67% stake in Hutchison Essar for $10.9 billion and the latest fund infusion is its second biggest investment in India, which today is its third largest revenue generating market globally . So far, it has invested about Rs.1.15 lakh crore in India. Vodafone India also plans to use the money it recently received from its parent to retire high-cost debt, which currently stands at Rs.34,500 crore and improve its quality of service.


OECD forecasts

Maharashtra signs MoU with Oracle

In a bid to accelerate the digital progress of the state, the Maharashtra government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oracle Corporation on Tuesday. The firm will help the state develop the smart city program with the goal of making cities more livable and inclusive. The corporation — which primarily specialises in developing and marketing database software and technology, cloud engineered systems and enterprise software products — will set up a Centre of Excellence (CoE) to modernise the state’s technology
The MoU was signed between Oracle CEO Safra Catz and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at Oracle Open World Conference held at San Francisco.
Fadnavis also said an international panel will be set up to advise the state on technological advancements. He invited Catz to be a member of the panel and she agreed.
The CoE will be set up in Mumbai and will serve as a research platform to design, develop and test new capabilities to deliver better Government to Customer (G2C) and Government to Business (G2B) services.

RCR renamed as Lok Kalyan Marg

Lutyens Delhi’s iconic Race Course Road, where the prime minister’s residence is located, will now be known as Lok Kalyan Marg. A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) presided by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The NDMC has also decided to rename the Gurudwara Rakabganj roundabout adjacent to the Parliament complex as Guru Gobind Singh Chowk following representations from Sikh organizations.
Once the notification is issued, the prime minister’s famous residential address 7, Race Course road will be known as 7 Lok Kalyan Marg.

Of Slowing Remittances....

MTHL attracts 26 bidders

The trans-harbour link connecting Sewri and Nhava Sheva has attracted 26 bidders including Russian and Chinese companies. Twenty-six companies, including Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure which has teamed up with Russian bridge construction specialist company OJSC Volgomost, HCC, Gamon India, AFCONS Infrastructure, Shapoorji Palonji and Company, and Tata Projects, NCC, Larsen & Tourbo, and China Railway Construction Bridge Engineering Bureau Group, have submitted requests for qualification (RFQ) for the Rs.17,750-crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project.
A RFQ refers to the pre-procurement stage of a proposal. Those who respond successfully to it are included in the subsequent request for proposals stage. The 22 kilometre long six lane sea link, which was originally conceived in early eighties is expected to reduce travel time between Mumbai and Pune by one hour.
Of the total length, 16.5 km would be a bridge, and the remaining would be on the coast at Sewri and Nhava. The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) had invited bids for three packages under the project.
The first package is 10.83 km bridge over Thane creek and Sewri, the second package is 7.80 km  bridges over Thane Creek and Shivaji Nagar and 3.61 kilometre viaduct.
The MMRDA is expected to short-list bidders by middle of next month, after which short-listed bidders will be asked to submit their financial proposals. The contracts for the projects are expected to be finalised by end of this year and work is expected to start in first part of 2017.
This is a fourth attempt by the state government to bid out the ambitious sea link project. In 2005, the state tried to bid out the project on built operate and transfer (BOT) basis and rival Ambani brothers were the only bidders for the project.
The state government scrapped the bids by both brothers calling them unrealistic. While the Anil Ambani-led R-Infra claimed it will able to recover the cost of project through toll in 10 years, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries claimed it will require 75 years.
Then in 2008 state government tried to bid out the project on cash contract basis but due to financial meltdown followed by collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers, no bidders came forward for such a complex project.
In 2013, attempt was made to bid out the project once again on BOT basis but no bidders turned up. Now the Devendra Fadnavis-led government is pushing for this ambitious sea link project.
This time around state government is bidding out project on cash contract basis. An MMRDA official said that RFQs received for three civic packages were under examination.Thereafter, MMRDA would select qualified bidders who will later be asked to file request for proposal (RFP) by mid October. The official said of the Rs.17,750 crore, nearly 80% loan will come from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the balance funds to be organised by the state government and MMRDA.
The other consortia, who have filed RFQ, include IHI Infrastructure System, Hindustan Construction Company Ltd & SK Engineering & Construction Company, Soma Enterprise,IL&FS Transportation Networks & SP Singla Constructions, Daewoo E&C & Tata Projects, a JV comprising ITD Cementation India Ltd, Simplex Infrastructures Limited.

Water Wars

Cauvery is a 800-km long river that originates in Karnataka, flows through Tamil Nadu and exits into the Bay of Bengal. Its catchment area is in Kerala and Puducherry also. All four states lay claim to its waters. Karnataka, being the state from which the water flows out, is held responsible to release adequate water to all the other three states. In a regular monsoon year, the water just flows down to all the others and there is no dispute at all. In rain-deficit years, the water has to be shared.Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have claims and counter-claims on how this should be done.
The dispute is nearly 125 years old.  Till 1990, the issues were sorted through earlier agreements and talks between the states. In 1990, the V P Singh government set up the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, which gave a strongly-disputed interim order in 1991. In 2007, after exhaustive discussions, the Tribunal gave a final order allocating 419 thousand million cubic feet (TMCFT) to Tamil Nadu, 270 TMCFT to Karnataka, 30 TMCFT to Kerala and 7 TMCFT to Puducherry , on the premise of 740 TMCFT at 50 per cent dependability in the Cauvery . A TMCFT is equal to water released at the rate of 11,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) for a day or 2,831.7 crore litres of water.
Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court for 50 TMCFT of water for its samba crop, cultivated from August to January. Karnataka, as per the Tribunal order, has to release 10 TMCFT in June, 34 in July, 50 in August and 40 in September, but had released only 33 TMCT from June. Karnataka pointed to deficit pre-monsoon showers (38 percent) and deficit rainfall in Cauvery catchment areas leading to a total deficit of 48 percent in inflows to the reservoirs. The state said it needs about 30 TMCFT of drinking water for Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya cities, 48 towns and 630 villages in the basin, besides about 47 TMCFT for its standing crop on 6.91 acres, about half of the usual rabi cultivation area of 14 lakh acres. Supreme court on September 5 directed the state to release about 13 TMCFT to Tamil Nadu and another 4 TMCFT on September 12, bringing the water storage in the state's reservoirs to 26 TMCFT, lesser than the amount needed to meet drinking water needs up to May 2017. On September 19, the Cauvery Supervisory Committee set up by the Supreme court said Karnataka should release another 2.72 TMCFT upto September 30, which was revised by the apex court's bench on September 20 and hiked to 3.82 TMCFT up to September 27, when the next hearing is scheduled.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah has said the latest Supreme Court order is not implementable.Three times in the recent past, Karnataka has been directed by the Supreme court to release water from its four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin to Tamil Nadu, despite water shortage. In 1995, then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao convened a meeting of the CMs and opposition leaders of Cauvery basin states and asked Karnataka to release a total of 6 TMCFT, which the state complied with. In 2002, the apex court asked Karnataka to release 0.8 TMCFT a day for the entire season, , which then CM S M Krishna said was not possible. He was hauled up for contempt of court and forced the release the water.
From September5 to 11, Bengaluru Mysuru highway which runs through Cauvery basin saw a total blockade on traffic; all traffic between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has also been stopped since September 5. Bengaluru city saw a bandh on September 9 and arson incidents on September 12, where two persons died.. ASSOCHAM put total losses due to crisis at Rs 25,000 crore. Tamil Nadu saw a bandh on September 16. Police in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have escorted vehicles to each other's borders to prevent further violence.