National Unity Day

CAG can't audit discoms: Delhi HC

Dealing an unexpected blow to the Arvind Kejriwal government, the Delhi high court struck down its decision to get the accounts of power discoms audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India. It pointed out that there was a regulator, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, for auditing the accounts of private discoms for tariff determination and CAG could not usurp that role.
A bench of Chief Justices G Rohini and Rajiv Sahai Endlaw observed that the purpose of the CAG audit — to examine if power tariffs were properly determined — was the exclusive domain of DERC. “Thus, the purpose of the audit was not if privatization has served any purpose or whether the terms of the transfer scheme were in the interest of the Delhi government.
The sole purpose purport of the audit is tariff determination,” the bench observed, faulting the process. The pre poll promise that resulted in a formal request to CAG to carry out an audit of discoms in January 2014 was described as a “populist measure“ by the court which questioned the public interest behind the exercise.Since the state government and Delhi assembly have no power to take action on the CAG findings, the court said it “ultimately may serve no purpose“.
“Such populist measures, without considering the ultimate advantage thereof, not only end up being contrary to public interest but also put an unnecessary burden on the courts,“ the bench noted, quashing Delhi government's January 7, 2014 direction for a CAG audit of the three discoms -Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd.
Even as it recognized the constitutional powers of CAG to audit the discoms, the bench faulted the Delhi government for rushing through the audit request instead of inviting objections from the discoms to a CAG audit for tariff. “What emerges is that the discoms were given an opportunity to represent (their point of view) before consultations had taken place between the administrator and CAG and before the terms and conditions of such audit had been agreed upon between CAG and the concerned government,” the court noted, cancelling the audit on this preliminary ground.
In its 139-page verdict, the court also criticized the government for not empowering DERC and instead embarking on “a misguided exercise by issuing a direction to the CAG to audit the accounts of discoms when report of such an audit would not have any sanctity in law for achieving the desired result.” “The direction for audit of discoms by CAG, when the report of CAG cannot impact the tariff, would not also serve any public interest,” the court noted, lamenting that four years were wasted when “what was sought to be achieved could have been achieved by invoking the powers of DERC.”

Remembering Indira....

Moody's says change the mood

PM Narendra Modi must keep “his party members in check“ from making controversial statements “or risk losing domestic and global credibility“, an arm of global ratings agency Moody's has said while urging the government to focus its attention on the reforms agenda. “In recent times, the government also hasn't helped itself, with controversial comments from BJP members. While Modi has largely distanced himself from the nationalist gibes, the belligerent provocation of various Indian minorities has raised ethnic tensions,“ Moody's Analytics said.
“Along with a possible increase in violence, the government will face stiffer opposition in the Upper House as debate turns away from economic policy,“ MA said. The NDA 's lack of a majority in the RS has proved a major stumbling block to reforms. The report commented that the pace of reforms is likely to be dictated by politics in the months ahead. Overall, it's unclear whether India can deliver the promised reforms and hit its growth potential. Undoubtedly, numerous political outcomes will dictate the extent of success,“ says a report by Moody's Analytics, adding that the state election in Bihar could prove pivotal to Modi's leadership.
“External headwinds are blowing stronger, and the government has failed to deliver promised reforms. For 2016 GDP growth is estimated at 7.6% and key economic reforms could deliver greater potential GDP, as they would improve India's productive capacity . These include the land acquisition bill, a national goods and service tax, and revamped labour laws. They are unlikely to pass through parliament in 2015, but there is an even chance of success in 2016,“ Moody's said.
Multilateral agencies and economists have raised doubts about the pace of economic reforms and have urged the government to accelerate the momentum for long-term growth. Globally India is seen as a bright spo but the difficulty faced by the BJP government to get key reforms such as GST implemented have stoked investor worries.


Somewhere in Agra....

Health Indicators

Trade: Snapshot

Ease of doing Biz: South Asia

Drought hit districts

Of Freedom on the Net....

India to Grow at 7.5% in FY16: WB

The World Bank says India, now the world's fastest growing economy, is relatively well-positioned to weather the global volatility and even set for a modest acceleration in growth in the years ahead.
“The latest India Development Update expects India's economic growth to be at 7.5% in 2015-16, followed by a further acceleration to 7.8% in 2016-17 and 7.9% in 2017-18,“ the development lender said in its biannual report “India Development Update“ released on Thursday . “However, acceleration in growth is conditional on the growth rate of investment picking up to 8.8% during FY 16 to FY 18,“ the bank warned listing a number of reforms the country needs to undertake flagging the goods and services tax as most urgent. It said the country has got a big boost from the lower energy prices that has helped repair external account and left India less vulnerable. “India has low trade exposure to China, while Indian financial markets (local bond markets in particular) are fairly closed. India's considerable foreign exchange reserves (9 months of retained imports) provide additional buffer,“ the bank said.
“Resources from lower subsidies and higher taxes have been well utilised in lowering deficits and increasing capital expenditure,“ said World Bank India's Senior Country Economist Frederico Gil Sander at the launch of the report. The softer oil has allowed India to eliminate fuel subsidy and the reduction in current account deficit has led to fast accumulation of forex reserves, further cushioning the country against potential disruptions in the financial markets when the US begins to raise rates.
The softer oil prices together with the structural reforms has also given a boost to domestic demand and allowed India to achieve faster growth despite sluggish exports. However, it warned, “sustaining high rates of GDP growth over a longer period will require a recovery of export growth“ and there was uncertainty about the growth momentum with the high frequency indicators giving a mixed picture.
“High-frequency indicators have been mixed, with credit growth and wages of rural workers displaying varying degrees of weakness, while vehicle sales, industrial production and public investments point to an accelerating economy ,“ the report noted fluffing revamp of the PPP model and power sector reforms as key to resolving the issue of bad loans of banks.
“Public sector banks, which account for three-fourths of domestic credit, are under stress, with a rising share of non-performing assets,“ Gil Sander noted. The report noted the higher devolution of resources to the states after the 14th Finance Commission, but wondered if the states could use the resources judiciously . “The challenge going forward is to ensure that the states can deliver on their mandates given often limited capacity in the area of expenditure management, and that the centre can mobilise additional revenues to fulfil its own mandates in a continent sized country,“ it said.

IndiGo IPO Receives 6x Bids

The Rs.3,268-crore initial public offering of InterGlobe Aviation attracted strong demand with the operator of no-frills airline IndiGo receiving bids for more than six times the shares on sale. Foreign institutions were the most aggressive bidders in the issue -the largest in three years. High net worth investors led by billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala subscribed heavily on Thursday, the last day of the offer. The shares kept for retail investors, however, didn’t find enough takers. For the 3.01 crore shares on offer, the company received bids for a little over 18.52 crore shares, according to exchange data at 7.30 pm.
The portion reserved for qualified institutional buyers, which include foreign and domestic institutions such as mutual funds and insurance companies, was subscribed 17.80 times. Foreigners bid for almost 15 times and mutual funds bid for 2.58 times the total shares reserved for this category. The non-institutional portion was subscribed 3.57 times, thanks to strong demand from rich investors on Thursday. Jhunjhunwala has placed bids for Rs.400 crore worth of shares in the non-institutional portion, market sources said.
Response from retail investors was tepid, with only 92% of the shares kept for them finding subscribers. Most domestic brokerages, while assigning a ‘subscribe’ rating to the IPO for long-term investors, had said the offer was richly valued.

India - Africa Summit snippets

India raised its diplomatic and strategic stakes in Africa through a multi-dimensional initiative that saw PM Narendra Modi announcing a $10 billion concessional line of credit over 10 years intended to deepen the country's engagement in a continent where it is competing for influence with China and other major global powers.
This will be in addition to India's $7.4 billion credit already extended to Africa. Addressing the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit, attended by 41 heads of state and government, Modi also announced grant assistance of $600 million over and above the $1.2 billion committed earlier.
“This is a world of free nations and awakened aspirations. Our institutions cannot be representative of our world if they do not give voice to Africa,“ Modi said. Africa has more than a quarter of UN members or the world's largest democracy with one-sixth of humanity . That is why India and Africa must speak in one voice for reforms of the United Nations, including its Security Council, Modi said. He added that India had not always been as attentive as it should have been to Africa and it would not be the case here on.
Modi said India's partnership with Africa went beyond strategic concerns and economic benefits. It was Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe who delivered a small reality check to India.Thanking India for its development works in Africa, he said there should be “robust evaluation and follow up mechanism“ as some of the projects have been delayed. “These are gifts highly appreciated by us. These do not come from those who have robbed us of our humanity ,“ Mugabe said.
The announcement by Modi was greeted with a loud applause by African leaders some of whom had sought more financial assistance from India in their bilateral meetings with Modi on Wednesday . India has repeatedly emphasized its relationship with Africa is not exploitative and Modi claimed recently that India as an investor in Africa, had even surpassed China. However, close to 90% of those investments have been made in Mauritius.
Like in his bilateral meetings with African leaders on Wednesday , Modi spoke at length on the issue of international terrorism to reformulate ties with Africa at a time when terror groups like Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and IS have emerged as major threats to peace and security in the continent. Several countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Cameroon have sought stronger defence and security partnership with India to deal with this challenge. “When terror snuffs out life on the streets and beaches, and in malls and schools of Africa, we feel your pain as our own. And, we see the links that unite us against this threat,“ he said.
“That is why we wish to deepen our cooperation in maritime security and hydrography , and countering terrorism and extremism; and, why we must have a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism,“ he added. Modi said India was going to continue training African peacekeepers in both Africa and India.


Committee to Assess I-T Law

The government has set up a committee under a former Delhi High Court judge to review the income tax law and identify clauses that lead to litigations or adversely impact the ease of doing business, underlining its resolve to address all tax related issues.
The 10-member panel, headed by Justice RV Easwar (retd), has been tasked with submitting the first batch of report by January 31, before the budget for 2016-17.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the main idea behind setting up the panel is to make the I-T Act taxpayer friendly . “We have over the last few months been resolving a lot of past issues and now time has come to look at some provisions of the I-T Act to look at how their drafting quality can be improved in order to avoid ambiguity so that everybody is certain as to what the Act itself says,“ Jaitley told the media at the launch of e-Sahyog, a pilot project of the income tax department to facilitate taxpayers.
In a four-point terms of reference, the government has asked the committee to study and identify the provisions phrases in the Act which are leading to litigation due to different interpretations, those impacting the ease of doing business, and areas and provisions of the Act that need to be simplified.The government wants the committee to “suggest alternatives and modifications to the existing provisions and areas so identified to bring about predictability and certainty in tax laws without substantial impact on the tax base and revenue collection,“ a statement issued by the finance ministry said. The committee can give its recommendations in batches.
“So, as and when it keeps giving one bundle of suggestion with regard to simplification we will examine them and whichever are found acceptable we will try and simplify those provisions of the I-T Act,“ Jaitley said. The government had set up a committee under Justice AP Shah to review the provisions relating to minimum alternate tax or MAT on foreign portfolio investors. Based on the recommendation, the government has successfully closed the issues, directing officials not to take action in such cases.

Ease of Doing Biz Ranking improves

The Narendra Modi government's attempts to improve the ease of doing business has yielded good result, with the country jumping 12 ranks to 130 in the latest ranking compiled by the World Bank. India was ranked 142 in the ranking for 2015.
Singapore has topped the ranking again. India's distance to frontier (DTF) score used to compile the rankings improved to 54.68 in 2016 from 53.97 in 2015. The cut-off date for the ranking was June 1, implying that the improvement has been achieved in a short span on one year of this government taking over. In 2015 ranking, the last one of UPA government, India had slipped a few notches to 142.
The World Bank report says India is one of the countries that have made the most improvement, capturing the initiative of the government in a separate section. “India is the South Asian economy recording the biggest increase in the distance to frontier score since 2004,“ the report said taking note of the fact that the country has cut down days take to start business.
The biggest improvement was in the Getting Electricity“ sub component with India's rank jumping to 70 in 2016 from 137 the year before in the 139 country ranking. The NDA government has set itself target of breaking into top 50 in this ranking.
“In 2014, the government of India launched an ambitious programme of regulatory reform aimed at making it easier to do business. Spanning a range of areas measured by Doing Business, the programme represents a great deal of effort to create a more business friendly environment, particularly in Delhi and Mumbai,“ the report said appreciating the effort but cautioned results will take time.
“Fostering an environment more supportive of private sector activity will take time. But if the efforts are sustained over the next several years, they could lead to substantial benefits for Indian entrepreneurs -along with potential gains in economic growth and job creation,“ the report noted.
The ranking is based on business environment in Delhi and Mumbai with 53 and 47 respective weight for these cities. The report noted India made starting a business easier by eliminating the minimum capital requirement and the need to obtain a certificate to commence business operations. Several other initiatives were going on June 1, the cut off date for this year's data collection, the report noted.

The biggest gold consumer again

India regained its top position from China as the biggest overall consumer of gold in the first nine months this year with a total consumption of 642 tonnes. China is trailing by just 63 tonnes at total consumption of 579 tonnes in the first nine months, according to GFMS Gold Survey Q3 2015 Review and Outlook.
In India, jewellery consumption increased by 5% year-on-year to an estimated 193 tonnes in Q3 2015, the highest quarterly consumption since Q1 2011 and the highest third quarter demand since 2008, the report published by Thomson Reuters stated.
Retail investment rose 30% year-on-year to 55 tonnes, the highest since Q4 2013. The increase in demand in the third quarter is primarily attributed to the fall in local gold prices to the lowest since August 2011.
The total official gold imports to India in the third quarter increased by 23% to 263%, which is the highest quarterly volume year-to date. In China, after a lack lustre second quarter this year, which was the lowest second quarter recorded since 2011, gold demand rebounded in the third quarter.
Total gold demand amounted to 196 tonnes for the period, a modest 3% year on-year improvement.
The improvement in gold demand during the third quarter was driven by factors like the yellow metal regaining its attractiveness as an alternative investment vehicle as investors turned cautious of the equity markets.
Demand for the precious metal, both in the form of jewellery and investment bars, picked up immediately after gold price breached $1,100 in mid-July , also helped by rise in seasonal demand, lead by Chinese Valentine's Day in August and the Autumn festival in September.
The official depreciation of the yuan, which was announced on August 11, also boosted gold demand.


Geeta's back

After more than a decade-long stay in Pakistan, Geeta, the hearing and speech impaired, arrived in the country to a grand reception at Delhi airport on Monday. She was received by both Pakistani and Indian officials. But Geeta's story soon took another twist after she could not recognise the Mahato family she had earlier identified from photographs.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called it a “happy day“ after meeting Geeta as the “innocent daughter came back home“. She said the government will do everything possible to reunite her with her family.
“I am very happy to be in India. My heart is filled with happiness. I am touched the way I am being welcomed. In Pakistan, I used to often feel sad,“ said Geeta, through a sign language interpreter, at a press conference along with Swaraj.
Till her parentage is established through DNA test, Swaraj said, Geeta will be put up at an institution for deaf and mute in Indore. “The Mahato family was selected on the basis of Geeta responding positively to their photograph. However, when she met them, she said they were not her family.“
At the Indore institution, run by Monica Arora who played Geeta's interpreter at the MEA interaction, Geeta will be provided skills to communicate. In reply to a question, Swaraj said Geeta did not accept the Mahato family's claim that she was already married and that she even had children.
Geeta was reportedly seven or eight years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at Lahore railway station. In Karachi, Geeta was given an emotional farewell as she boarded a plane. Eidhi Foundation head Bilqees Bano and other members of Geeta's foster family accompanied her to Delhi.
Swaraj steadfastly refused to comment if Geeta's return would help Indo-Pak ties. She also played down the demand by a Pakistan high commission official for early release of Pakistani prisoners.

Somewhere in Delhi....

Chhota Rajan nabbed in Bali

Twenty-five years after he fled India, fugitive underworld don Chhota Rajan alias Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, a one-time trusted aide of Dawood Ibrahim-turned-bitter foe, who is wanted for heinous crimes ranging from murder and extortion to smuggling, drug trafficking and threatening Bollywood personalities, was arrested by a joint Australian and Bali police team in Bali on Sunday .His dramatic apprehension, after evading the law for decades and surviving at least one assassination bid by the D-gang, was based on an Interpol red-corner notice and an affirmation of the don's identity by the CBI. Rajan was hiding in Australia for the last seven years under the identity of Mohan Kumar, sources said.
Dubbed as the `Hindu don' after he fell out with Dawood following the 1993 Mumbai bombings, Rajan was often seen as an `asset' by Indian agencies as they sought to counter the D-gang. But as his crimes piled up and his utility diminished, the operation to nab Rajan is said to have been in the works and his presence in Bali offered an opportunity to pick him up as Indonesian procedures to bring him back to India are seen to be simpler.
Rajan begun his descent into a world of crime as a petty black marketer of cinema tickets in the 1970-80s.From there he graduated to bigger crimes and won Dawood's recognition to become one of his key aides and a ruthless criminal.
Sources said Australia tipped Interpol about Rajan while processing a visa extension request from him. Interpol contacted CBI, which confirmed the applicant was indeed the subject of a redcorner notice issued at its behest in 1994. Soon, Australian agencies contacted Indonesian authorities about Rajan's travel to Bali from Sydney , leading to his detention on arrival.
While the clock began ticking for Rajan after the tip-off, CBI received the go ahead to seek his arrest and return to India from the top-levels of the government. The agency , which is the nodal agency for Interpol in India, was in touch with Australia and Indonesia as the moves to nab the don began to gather momentum.
Government sources said a CBI and Mumbai Police team will travel to Indonesia to process his deportation, after which he will be in the custody of Mumbai police. Rajan is at present being interrogated by Bali police and Indian in telligence officials stationed in Bali, said officials.
Indonesian officials are positive about Rajan being handed over to India “without delay“, perhaps as early as by this weekend, with India and Indonesia having in August signed a pact for deportation of wanted persons and cooperation in criminal investigations.
The don's arrest sparked intense speculation over why he had turned from being an `asset' against Dawood to someone India wanted to bring to book.Some felt that he had gradually become a headache for Indian agencies while others argued that the D-gang was once again closing in on him and apprehending Rajan was now necessary for his safety after reports in July revealed that he was in Australia. After he parted ways with Dawood Ibrahim in mid-90s, Chhota Rajan decided to work in league with Indian intelligence agencies to undermine his former boss's syndicate. Though he was initially used to counter and neutralise rival underworld gangs led by Dawood and top aide Chhota Shakeel, he seemed to have outlived his utility for a while now, said a senior intelligence official. In fact, a debate was underway within the security establishment as to whether it should continue to go soft on Rajan, especially in the wake of his alleged role in the murder of Mid-Day journalist J Dey in Mumbai in June 2011.
Top sources also suggested that Chhota Rajan had lately made a serious error, which irked New Delhi and precipitated his arrest. However, it is not clear whether this “mistake“ related to Australia not being happy with him staying there, his travel plans, purported double-crossing of Indian agencies, or some other incident. It is also being investigated whether Rajan broke any law in Australia, or if he was feeling the country because his cover had perhaps been blown.
Describing the don's arrest as a “major success“, Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said efforts were being made to bring him back to India. His No. 2 Kiren Rijiju said the arrest was the culmination of “close coordination between Indonesia, Australia and India“. CBI director Anil Sinha said that “Bali police arrested Rajan on the request of Interpol's Delhi office“ and that “it worked in cooperation with Australia and Indonesia in capturing him“.
The 55-year old don, who went by the name `Nana' in the Mumbai underworld in the late 1980s and early 90s, escaped at least one assassination attempt by the `D' Company after he split from it in the wake of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. 


India - Africa Summit

The third-edition of India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) here on October 29 will not only be show of strength with participation of close to 40 heads of state or governments but vindication of India's partnership across development, business, investments, security and defence sectors with the continent that houses six of the world's ten rising economics.
Beginning with maiden summit in 2008 Indo-African partnership reflecting growing South-South cooperation has come a long way with Delhi pursuing a continent wide outreach to equip the demographically younger nations with capacity building, skills development, exchange of technology , healthcare facilities, training of military and agricultural output. During the past decade India has extended Line of Credit (LoC) worth $7 billion at concessional rates for 140 projects in 40 nations across Africa. That forms nearly two-thirds of all LoC given by India in the last 10 years. Senior official sources indicated that additional LoC for array of development projects could be announced at the Summit, biggest since India last hosted over 40 leaders in 1983.
While Japan, China and EU hold regular summits with Africa with Japan having lead over others beginning in 1993, India has been a late entrant in the game notwithstanding centuries old maritime and diaspora links and post-1947 political (anti-colonial anti-apartheid) engagement with the continent. The First India Africa Forum Summit was first held from April 4 to April 8, 2008 here. It was the first such meeting between the heads of state and government of India and 14 countries of Africa chosen by the African Union. This was followed by the second edition of the Summit in Addis Ababa in May 2011 where 15 African countries participated. Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister on both occasions.The event later this month will be first such interaction of PM Narendra Modi where 53 of 54 African nations have been invited with an objective of long-term partnership.This is going to be the Modi government's biggest diplomatic outreach which was originally scheduled last December but postponed due to Ebola outbreak. Besides the summit all the visiting leaders are expected to have a brief bilateral meetings with PM . The two entities are currently negotiating two outcome documents of Summit -Framework for Cooperation and New Delhi Declaration at Addis Ababa.
Officials pointed out that India has been steadfast development partner for Africa and this includes capacity building exercise of African youth.During 2008-11 as many as 1500 Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme Scholarships was granted to Africans. This was increased to 2,500 between 2011-15. In terms of people coming in on scholarships, 22 thousand scholarships have been awarded to African participants under various schemes.

Peace, Harmony & Unity

In the backdrop of communal tensions over the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon citizens to respect and celebrate India’s diversity and said “peace, harmony and unity” were the key to progress.
Invoking Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel ahead of his birth anniversary on October 31, Modi said the “mantra” of unity must consistently be the medium of “our thinking, behaviour and expression”.
“India is full of diversity. It has different sects, different religions, different languages and different castes. There are so many diversities in our India and this diversity is our beauty,” the PM said in his radio address, ‘Mann ki Baat’.
Recalling how the country had been observing Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary by organizing ‘Run for Unity’ for many years, the PM said, “In other words, the run for unity is the guarantee for run for progress”, urging people to pay tribute to Patel by carrying forward the “mantra” of unity. Modi said if this diversity was not there, “we would not have been able to feel proud.Therefore, diversity is the mantra of unity“.
His comments acquire significance in view of the rise in communal tensions in many parts of the country over beef ban and, lately , religious processions. It was, in fact, the second time that Modi broached the issue of communal harmony amid the surcharged atmosphere where he has been targeted for his silence on he mob killing in Dadri.
Modi had on October 8 used a rally in Nawada in Bihar to deliver a strong message. He had said, “In a democracy , everyone has the right to speak their mind.But Hindus must decide whether they want to fight Muslims or poverty .Muslims must decide whether they want to fight Hindus or poverty .“
Without mentioning the Dadri incident and the subsequent communal tension, the PM had in the same rally invoked President Pranab Mukherjee's statement which warned against letting India's core values of diversity and tolerance waste away . “The Rashtrapati has shown us the way . There is no bigger inspiration than him, let's follow his path,“ Modi had said.


Pune Ring Road update

Transit-oriented development, where people prefer to walk and use public transportation over personal modes of transport, would suit the Pune Metropolitan Development Authority (PMRDA) and the realty sector well. Such development has been proposed along the 170-km ring road around Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.
Guardian minister Girish Bapat, who also heads the PMRDA, said the state government is looking forward to planned development along the ring road. He added that the government was coordinating with state agencies to fast-track the ring road so that TOD could be planned. “We have to develop housing and other infrastructure along the ring road and provide connectivity to people there. The state is focusing on decentralized development of the city ,“ he said.
PMRDA chief executive officer Mahesh Zagade has started inspection of the ring road alignment to speed up the process of land acquisition. “Both cities should be decongested. We are working on a model to deal with the challenges. The thrust of PMRDA's plan will be on developing a transport model.The concept of 'walk to work', wherein working stations would be near residential areas, will ensure people do not have to spend long hours commuting,“ he said at a public interaction organized by Sajag Nagrik Manch.
In Pune, links to the core are important for overall quality of life. Driven by the need to look or traffic solutions, a decision to have a ring road was taken in 2007. About 48 hectares of government land would have to be acquired, while 25 hectares of private land would be needed.
Nearly 10 lakh vehicles will use the ring road. It wil be integrated with the city's road network and connected o the Mumbai-Pune, Solapur, Satara, Ahmednagar and Nashik highways. MSRDC oficials said a large volume of heavy vehicular traffic from he highways passes through he city's roads and the ring road will ease traffic congestion and reduce road accidents.
The government of India's policy on TOD states that it is a key policy initiative for low-carbon, high-density, compact, mixed land use and sustainable development by minimizing travel time for citizens, promoting use of public transport, reducing pollution and congestion, creating more homogeneous neighborhoods, having work places near residences, creating public amenities within walking distances and providing safe environment through redevelopment along MRTS (Mass Rapid Transport System) corridors.

Pune Metro snippets

The Pune Municipal Corporation, state government and the Centre agree that the Pune metro project will come up as designed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's (DMRC) report and work on the first two phases will start simultaneously.
Even though there is opposition from city-based NGOs, the state government has asked the Centre to initiate steps to sanction the project immediately and told the civic body to prepare for its execution.
The state urban development department is keen to take forward the project based on the DMRC report which has recommended an elevated metro.
Urban development principal secretary Nitin Kareer, in a letter to Madhusudan Prasad, secretary of the Union urban development department, has communicated the state government's decision.
Kareer has said that in a meeting in New Delhi, attended by city leaders and Union ministers, it was decided to start both corridors at the same time and experts from DMRC informed that the suggestions of the Bapat Committee can be incorporated keeping the metro feasible.
“Chief minister of Maharashtra has also approved the minutes of the meeting. I am directed to inform you this view of the government of Maharashtra with a request to initiate the further steps to accord sanction to the Pune Metro Project immediately,“ Kareer's letter said.
Earlier, the government of India had informed the state that considering only corridor-I when the Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been prepared for both corridors cannot be justified as the financial viability of corridor-I alone may not be feasible.
The Union government had requested a review of corridor-II and communicate the views so that the entire project can be proposed as one project. Accordingly, the state has responded to the Centre's suggestions. The state government sources said that Union development minister M Venkaiah Naidu had held discussions with leaders and officials and told the state officials that an underground metro was not feasible and that Pune, like other cities, will have to get an elevated metro as suggested by the DMRC.
The civic body has already approved a resolution to execute the project as per the DMRC report.


Equity MFs witness record rise

Continuing the uptrend for the fourth consecutive quarter, retail equity mutual fund (MF) folios or investor accounts rose by a record 1.5 lakh to 3.28 crore in the second quarter of 2015-16 (July-September). The sharp increase has resulted in retail equity MF folio count jumping by nearly 20 lakh in the first half of 2015-16.
About 8.17 lakh equity MF folios were added in the preceding quarter. Investors remained buoyant on equity funds despite the volatility in the stock markets. Net inflows (higher purchase than sales) into equity schemes came at $3 billion or Rs.19,614 crore in July-September as investors lapped up more MF units in a falling market.
Retail MF folios rose by 15.11 lakh on an overall basis to 4.24 crore, data with the AMFI showed. Even on a half-yearly basis, the rise in retail folios during April-September is a record.The retail segment's share in total mutual fund AUM (assets under management) rose to 22% in July-September from 21% in the preceding quarter. Overall, folios rose by 16.66 lakh or 3.9% during the quarter. High net worth ndividuals (HNI), defined as in dividuals investing Rs 5 lakh or more, folios increased by 1.13 lakh to a record 16.33 lakh led by both equity (up 0.77 lakh folios) and debt (up 0.20 lakh folios) in July-September, AMFI data showed.

Amravati gets going

Decades from now, when Amaravati truly becomes a world-class city, Vijayadashami of 2015 will be remembered as a milestone in the history of not just Andhra Pradesh but also of the country, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the new capital on Thursday.
The fact that Modi's presence brought N Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrasekhar Rao -two antagonistic chief ministers of the states born out of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation -on one stage, too was no mean feat. On Thursday, Naidu and Rao seemed to share a rare rapport not seen since they split in 1999.
However, even as the PM's lofty idea was received well, there was a dampener when he failed to announce the much-expected financial package to rebuild the truncated state and build Amaravati -a futuristic and immensely ambitious project that will require thousands of crores of rupees to develop.Responding to Naidu's public plea for financial help, Modi said he would fulfil all promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act in letter and spirit.
The greenfield capital city will come up on 33,000 acres of rich agricultural land in the Vijayawada-Guntur region at the nondescript Uddandarayunipalem village on the banks of the Krishna in Guntur district.The PM handed over toNaidu two decorated pots -one containing the water of the Yamuna river and the other soil collected from the Parliament House premises.
“I came here with soil and water from the national Capital just to say that the central government is with Andhra Pradesh and the Chandrababu Naidu-Modi combine will make every dream of AP a reality,“ Modi said. More than two lakh people, mostly farmers, attended the meeting that saw Modi and Naidu heaping praise on each other.The PM lauded Naidu's initiative to invite KCR.
Modi also hit out at the bifurcation process initiated by the previous Congress-led government and saw “political expediency“ behind the division of Andhra. “The division was done in a hurry and without any consultation. Innocent people died and private property was damaged for political gains,“ he said. The remark might have made KCR uneasy as he had spearheaded the Telangana movement.


Reliance Cap to Acquire Goldman's Indian Fund Biz

Reliance Capital Asset Management will acquire Goldman Sachs' Indian mutual fund business for Rs.243 crore, marking the sixth exit by a global financial services firm from the domestic asset management industry in the last three years. The buyout will add Rs.7,132 crore to Reliance Mutual Fund's assets under management (AUM) of Rs.1.52 lakh crore. The mutual fund industry manages assets worth Rs.13.15 lakh crore.
The deal values Goldman's domestic mutual fund business at 3.4% of its AUM. Mutual fund industry officials said the valuation is fair given that Goldman Sachs Asset Management predominantly manages the cheaper exchange traded funds (ETFs).Most acquisitions in the Indian mutual fund industry in the past were valued at roughly 3-6% of their AUM Goldman, which manages 12 mutual fund schemes including 10 ETF schemes, entered the domestic mutual fund industry in July 2011 with the purchase of Benchmark Asset Management, which was India's only ETF specialist then, for about Rs.120 crore.
Reliance Mutual Fund is the third largest Indian mutual fund in terms of AUM. In addition to the assets, Reliance will also absorb the 25 executives of Goldman Sachs AMC.
Goldman Sachs joins other global firms such as ING, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank which have sold sell their businesses in emerging markets. Last year, Dutch financial services group ING sold its stake in ING Investment Management to Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund. In 2012, HDFC Mutual Fund bought the assets of Morgan Stanley Asset Management. Recently, Deutsche Bank sold its mutual fund business to Pramerica.
Asset management companies -mostly owned by foreign firms -are exiting India as they are reeling under losses and have been unable to scale up the domestic business on expected lines. Mutual fund industry officials said, for many of these global investment banks, mutual funds in emerging markets including India do not fit into their business plans.

ATC buys 51% in Viom

American Tower Corporation (ATC) will buy a 51% stake in mobile phone tower operator Viom Networks for Rs.7,635 crore, or $1.17 billion, in the biggest telecom deal this fiscal. The Boston-based company will combine its local portfolio of 14,000 towers with Viom's estate of 42,200. This will make it the No. 2 player in the world's second largest wireless market after Indus Towers, which has more than 1 lakh mobile phone base stations.
The deal will bring down the stake of Tata Teleservices, which is Viom's majority owner, from the current 54% to 32%. SREI Infrastructure Finance, the second largest shareholder of Viom, will completely exit the company , getting Rs.2,952 crore from the sale of its 18%. Srei's promoters, the Kanorias, have signed a non-compete agreement with the US company in the Indian mobile tower market. Some of the other Viom investors, such as IDFC Private Equity , will also sell part of their interest to American Tower.
The agreement between American Tower and the shareholders of Viom allows the foreign company to buy part or full of the remaining 49% stake in the Indian company Besides Tata Teleservices and IDFC Private Equity , the other investors in Viom are Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC, Oman Investment Fund and Macquarie SBI. Viom came into existence in 2009 with the merger of SREI and Tata Teleservices' mobile tower businesses.
Viom, which is in the midst of setting up another 1,000 mobile phone base stations, generated rental and manage ment revenue of Rs.5,000 crore and gross profit of Rs.1,854 crore for the quarter ended June 30. It had debt of Rs.5,812 crore as on September 30.
The deal, subject to regulatory approvals, will help American Tower up its play and position itself stronger in the Indian market of more than 900 million subscribers. The demand for mobile phone towers will grow as telcos expand their 3G and 4G services.
SREI has stated that the substantial cash flow from the transaction will help lower its debt and reduce interest, thereby improving profitability. The deal will also help the loss-making Tata Teleservices pare its Rs.34,000-crore debt and buy its Japanese partner NTT DoCoMo's 26.5% stake in the company .Currently , the two are locked in a court battle in London over valuation differences as DoCoMo has sought a higher exit price.

Ordinances get Cabinet nod

The Union Cabinet cleared two ordinances on creation of commercial divisions of HCs and on amending Arbitration Act for ensuring ease of doing business.
This is the second attempt to bring an ordinance on the Arbitration Act. The Cabinet had in December last year given its nod to an ordinance to amend the Act but it was never sent to the President for approval after the President is believed to have raised questions on the urgency to bring an ordinance.
Later, the Cabinet cleared a bill to amend the Act in August but it was not introduced in Parliament. The amendment aims to fix a timeframe to settle cases of arbitration. Under the proposed amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, an arbitrator will have to settle a dispute within 18 months. In the initial ordinance approved by the Cabinet in December last year, the timeline for settlement of disputes was fixed at nine months. An inter-ministerial discussion later proposed that the timeline should be changed to 18 months.


Status Quo


A tiny chip designed in Bengaluru, the size of a postage stamp, might hold the answer to connecting India's rural population to the Internet, an ambitious goal being chased by the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
The chip, called Pruthvi, powers a system which can use television White Space -or wasted spectrum bandwidth -to beam Internet to scores of households. This innovation by Saankhya Labs, is important in today's India, where on one hand the government is pushing its ambitious `Digital India' programme and on the other, large technology companies are working on similar goals.
“World over regulatory authorities are using or planning to use this spectrum for their respective connectivity programmes. India can take the lead in both technology and the markets for TV White Space-based broadband delivery.And how long can the government not push the envelope... It's got to be expedited sooner than later,“ said Parag Naik, CEO and cofounder of Saankhya Labs.
Founded in 2007 by Naik, Hemant Mallapur and Vishwakumara Kayargadde, the company has developed a system called Meghdoot powered by its Pruthvi chip, which can utilise the existing TV White Space bandwidth available in India to provide wireless broadband to remote areas. TV White Space refers to the unused spectrum between active TV channels that are traditionally used for over-the-air transmission using TV towers and rooftop antennas. In India, this mainly refers to the spectrum used by the likes of Prasar Bharti.
The Meghdoot product family consists of a base station and user-side modem that can together provide Wireless Rural Broadband using the TV White Space spectrum from 400 to 800MHz.
The technology does not require line-of-sight, thus ensuring longer range, and can serve up to a radius of 10-15 km depending on antenna tower height and transmit power.The range can also be further increased with more powerful and taller antennas.
The company is soon set to conduct field trials across the country in collaboration with IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi and IIT-Hyderabad. They are also in discussions with Microsoft to do trials at Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh.
The Meghdoot product line is compliant to the Wi-FAR standard, making the device compatible for use in other countries too. The company is also engaged with partners for trials in the Philippines, the US and Singapore.

IPL's new Sponsor

Beverage maker PepsiCo has exited the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 tournament as title sponsor and could be replaced by Chinese mobile phone maker Vivo. PepsiCo will continue to be associated with the IPL as beverage partner with the independent IPL teams.

Globally, PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi has already said that the company will only associate with ethical and clean sporting proper ties. PepsiCo had earlier terminated its contract with ace golfer Tiger Woods following a sex scandal. It had also terminated its contract with singer Beyonce over controversies.

6E's IPO soon

InterGlobe Aviation, the holding company of IndiGo airline, will retire nearly one-third of its total debt of Rs.3,912 crore, amounting to Rs.1,166 crore, with the initial public offer (IPO) proceeds, a top company official said.
The company has also reduced the public offer size to 23 million shares from over 26 million shares as one promoter will be selling less.
IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said the entire Rs.3,912 crore debt it has is related to aircraft purchases and it was profitable in seven out of the nine years of its existence. IndiGo might have shown a negative net worth in its red herring prospectus (RHP), but Ghosh called it a “non-event“, adding that the company had no liquidity problems.
Ghosh was speaking at a press conference to announce the IPO of IndiGo's parent InterGlobe Aviation. The airline is India's largest in terms of market share, and seventh largest LCC in the world in terms of seat capacity . IndiGo, which operates a fleet of 94 A320 aircraft, has turned out a consistent profit since 2009. However, among the risks listed in the RHP is the negative net worth of Rs.3,393.87 million as of June 30, 2015.
Ghosh said that the company was confident of moving comfortably into the positive net worth zone. Since the filing of RHP, from July1 onwards, cash has been building up, he said. Ghosh added that liquidity was not an issue as the company was sitting on Rs.3,675 crore in cash as on August 31.
In the last four years, the airline has paid Rs.3,500 crore as dividend, including a recent interim dividend of Rs.1,135 crore to its promoters.

IndiGo's holding company InterGlobe Aviation will launch the LCC's Rs.3,200-crore IPO on October 27 to 29 in a price band of Rs 700-765. The IPO values the company at Rs 24,059 crore at the lower end of the band, and at Rs 26,293 crore at the higher end. Citigroup Global Markets India, Barclays Bank, Kotak Mahindra Capital, UBS Securities India, JPMorgan India and Morgan Stanley India are the bankers to this issue.

Coming back soon?!

Country still isn't integrated economically

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley reiterated the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) would bring multiple benefits to the country and hoped the GST bill will be passed in a year's time. He also said that India's tax structure needs to be globally aligned for India to be competitive.
“Politically, the country was integrated in 1947, but economically the country is still not integrated,“ Jaitley told a gathering of industrialists, political leaders, businessmen and educationists.
He referred to different tax structures in different states and added goods will become cheaper and tax evasion will become nearly impossible with the introduction of GST.
Jaitley added the Congress had proposed the GST, but was now opposing it. He reiterated the budget proposal to bring down corporate taxes from 34% to 25% over four years. “We will begin work on it from next year...India should be a comfortable place for business,“ he added.
Jaitley said India is in a unique position to capitalize on growth opportunities and there are a lot of things like lower oil prices, higher foreign exchange reserves in the country's favour. He said India is in a far more resilient position than most of its peers.


Coffee Day's IPO Subscribed 1.8 Times

The Rs.1,150-crore initial public offering (IPO) of Coffee Day Enterprises sailed through on Friday -the last day of the issue -helped by the appetite shown by institutional investors. Rich and retail investors categories, however, went undersubscribed, according to data from stock exchanges at 6:00 pm.
The issue, the largest in three years, was subscribed 1.81 times with institutional investors putting bids at 4.38 times the shares set aside for them.HNIs and retail investors categories were subscribed 0.53 and 0.82 times, respectively.
Coffee Day is selling shares in the public issue at Rs.316-328 a share. The company will use the proceeds to partly retire its debt.
The promoter's holding in the company will come down to 52.6% from 63.3% after this issue.Coffee Day posted a net loss of Rs.10.9 crore and consolidated revenue of Rs.875 crore for the nine months ended December 31.

MTHL stuck again

In yet another blow to the much-delayed Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL) project, the national green tribunal (NGT) has suspended its CRZ clearance, granted in 2013, and has decided to set it aside completely if clearance is not acquired afresh within six months by the project's proponent, the MMRDA. The NGT also wants environmental authorities to decide if fresh green clearance is needed as per 2006 rules for the 22 km sea link project between Nhava in Navi Mumbai and Sewri.
According to the NGT, the procedure for CRZ clearance was not followed properly by the MoEF and the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) as per the latest notification issued in 2011 and there were discrepancies in the amount of marine areas proposed to be affected due to the project.
Also, the proximity of the Karnala bird sanctuary , said the NGT, was not prominently considered, besides several other flaws such as a lack of studies on marine impact, requirement of noise barriers, effect on the habitat of flamingos and a comprehensive environment impact study .
“As a result, we set aside the (project's) CRZ clearance once its suspension period gets over and is still not replaced by a fresh CRZ clearance,“ the NGT bench headed by Justice V R Kingaonkar and expert member Ajay A Deshpande said. “We do not want the project to suffer because of further delays and hence want fresh clearances to be processed in eight weeks' time.This is mainly to avoid adverse effects of the project on mangroves, flamingos and mudflats, besides other impacts.“
“We direct that the MoEF shall take a decision independently on merits, without getting influenced by any of the observations made in this order... In the meantime, the CRZ clearance granted to the project stands suspended and is kept in abeyance for six months hereafter,“ the order said on an appeal made by environmental activist Dileep Nevatia.
According to Nevatia, the NGT has taken into consideration the point that the areas mentioned to be affected by the project in the CRZ and forest clearance applications varied by almost 250%. “Also, the provisions and plan for noise barriers, along with those for the viaduct, were not submitted.Studies related to impact on tidal water currents, marine life and flamingos were not done,“ he said.
Nevatia pointed out to the NGT that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report was done rapidly and not comprehensively .

34% of Maharashtra hit by drought

The Maharashtra government has declared a “drought-like condition“ in 14,708 of the state's 43,000 villages. This means the drought covers 34% of the state.
This is the second successive year of drought in Maharashtra. In fact, the state has experienced three such calamities in the last four years.
The Marathwada region has been worst-hit, with a drought-like condition declared in every single village. As many as 8,522 villages in the region have been impacted.This accounts for 58% of the drought area in the state.
North Maharashtra, which includes Nashik and Jalgaon districts, follows next with 4,869 villages impacted. This accounts for 33% of the drought area. Not a single village in the Konkan region, which experienced a plentiful monsoon this year, has been affected by the calamity. The state can declare a drought-like condition only after an assessment of crop yield. Villages where the harvest is less than half the average yield come under this category.
The government has announced a series of measures for drought-affected farmers, including the waiver of land revenue and school fees for their children and a 33% waiver in the bill amount of agricultural pumps.The government has also said it will provide water tankers in scarcity-prone villages and take steps not to disconnect agricultural pumps. So far, Rs.920 crore has been provided for drought relief, of which Rs.556 crore has come from the Centre. Another Rs.556 crore is expected from the government, officials said.

Supreme Court strikes down NJAC

The Supreme Court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and ordered revival of the SC-scripted two-decade-old `judges-selecting-judges' collegium system, rebuffing a unanimous Parliament decision to bring transparency in appointment of judges and potentially setting the stage for a confrontation between the executive and the judiciary.
A five-judge bench, by a 4-1 majority declared the 99th constitutional amendment and the consequent legislation NJAC Act as unconstitutional on the ground that the NJAC had the law minister and two eminent persons as members who could join hands to reject the proposals of the judiciary , represented by the Chief Justice of India and two senior most SC judges. Under the NJAC, any two members can veto a proposal.
The court held that the constitutional amendment and NJAC was a sure recipe for political meddling and executive interference in judicial independence, which was part of the inviolable basic structure of the Constitution.
However, each judge acknowledged that all was not well with the collegium system. The bench asked the government and petitioners to suggest in writing how to improve the system. The Supreme Court order striking down the NJAC marks a blow to attempts to end the widely criticized collegium system.Seeking a review by a larger constitution bench is not an appealing option for the government as such scrutiny is unlikely to result in reversal of the order. The other option is for the government to call an all-party meeting to save the NJAC. Although the 99th constitutional amendment bill was passed unanimously , whether the same kind of solidarity can be achieved afresh on this looks uncertain. Ties with the opposition, particularly Congress, have since deteriorated sharply .
Four judges -Justices J S Khehar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel -were unambiguous that inclusion of a politician (law minister) in the body for selecting judges was fraught with the danger of serious interference with the independence of judges. They recalled how the Indira Gandhi regime in the 1970s had advocated appointment of `committed' judges. With this, the collegium system of appointment of judges scripted through two SC judgments, one in 1993 and the other in 1998, gets revived. Under this system, selection of judges to the SC is done by a body of five judges -the CJI and four senior-most judges of the SC. High court judges are selected by the HC collegium in consultation with the chief minister and the governor and sent to the SC, where a panel of the CJI and two senior-mos judges vet it before sending it to the government for appointment.
Justice Chelameswar struck the lone dissent note and upheld the 99th constitutional amendment, terming it the right way of reforming the appointment process of judges. He recalled the infamous ADM Jabalpur case of 1976 when the apex court had declared that right to life could be suspended during Emergency and said, “In difficult times, when political branches cannot be counted upon, neither can the judiciary .“
Referring to “bad appointments“ like Justice P D Dinakaran, Justice Chelameswar said, “Fiasco created in Dinakaran case would justify the participation of civil society in the process to eliminate from the selection process the maladies involved in the process.“ He said a comprehensive reform of the collegium system was overdue as there were many earlier instances when the system, which has no accountability , had failed and recalled the names it had recommended after the executive pointed out mistakes in the choice.


Exports continue to slide

India's merchandise exports fell by nearly a quarter in September, the tenth straight month when they have shrunk, raising worries about the country's 2015-16 shipments falling short of last year's levels.
A sharper fall in imports, however, helped lower the trade deficit.
September exports fell 24.3% ­ the most in the past 10 months ­ from a year earlier to $21.8 billion. Led by a nearly 46% decline in the imports of gold and 54.5% in oil, the value of total imports plunged 25.42%, the steepest in more than a year, to $32.32 billion. That left a trade deficit of $10.47 billion, compared with $12.47 billion in August and $14.47 billion in the year-earlier month.
The shipments were pulled down by a fall in exports from 24 out of 30 sectors, especially petroleum products, gems and jewelry, tea, coffee, leather, engineering goods and ceramics. An overvalued rupee, declining imports from China and slower global growth are seen as reasons for India's export woes. China's imports fell 20% in September.
The contraction in exports have held back Indian economy from growing at a faster rate.The relatively stronger rupee is not helping with goods from India facing stiff competition from countries that have seen a sharp depreciation in their currencies. The commerce department is pressing for more incentives such as subsidised finance to give a boost to India's exports.
Exports in the first half of the year were about $133 billion. In 2014-15, India's exports totaled $310.5 billion.
Tobacco, oil meals and cereal preparations have been added to the new list of products showing growth, besides drugs and pharma, jute products including floor coverings and handicrafts.
Oil imports in September fell 54.53% from a year earlier to $6.62 billion. Non-oil imports at $25.69 billion were 10.68% lower.

Diesel up, petrol unchanged

State-run fuel retailers raised diesel price by 95 paise per litre, the second increase this month, but left petrol rates unchanged. Diesel will cost Rs 45.90 per litre against Rs 44.95 at present in Delhi from Friday . In Mumbai, the price will be Rs 53.09 per litre for diesel. Diesel price was raised by 50 paise on October 1, while petrol price was left untouched even on that occasion.
Petrol price was last revised on September 1 when it was cut by Rs 2 per litre to Rs 61.20 in Delhi. Diesel price was cut by 50 paise on that day . There was no revision on the subsequent fortnight on September 16, even though a 98 paise per litre hike in petrol and Rs 2.28 a litre increase in diesel rates were required.

SC nod for voluntary use of Aadhaar

The Supreme Court has permitted citizens to voluntarily use Aadhaar cards to avail benefits under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, along with Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and schemes related to pension and PF after the government promised that absence of Aadhaar would not debar people from benefiting from the schemes concerned.
The relief came from a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices M Y Eqbal, C Nagappan, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy , which clarified the August 11 interim order of a three-judge bench and allowed linking of Aadhaar on a voluntary basis to these four schemes. The interim order had restricted voluntary use of Aadhaar card to LPG subsidy and getting ration under PDS.
The concession came after AG Mukul Rohatgi furnished an undertaking to the court that no citizen would be denied benefits under social welfare schemes for want of Aadhaar card. The court for its part laid down two pre-conditions -government would not force citizens to enroll for Aadhaar card, and they would not make it the eligibility criterion for benefits under various schemes.
Petitioners' counsel ­ senior advocates Shyam Divan, Soli J Sorabjee and Gopal Subramaniam ­ reluctantly agreed to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar to these four schemes after the five-judge bench remained struck to its point -if the card could be voluntarily used for availing LPG subsidy and ration, why should it be not true for other schemes.
The Centre had landed in a tight spot by strenuously arguing that right to privacy was not a fundamental right when petitioners had challenged the biometric data ­ fingerprints and iris image ­ in the Aadhaar card as gross violation of privacy as storage of citizens' personal data was not fully secured.
To counter the petitioners, the Centre had cited two SC judgments, one by an eight judge bench and another by a six-judge bench, holding that citizens did not have a fundamental right to privacy . Finding confusion in the judicial rulings, a three-judge bench had on August 11 referred the petitions to a larger bench for determining whether right to privacy was a fundamental right and whether Aadhaar cards violated it.
This made the Centre rush to the three-judge bench with an application seeking clarification of the August 11 order to allow voluntary use of Aadhaar card to get benefit under all social welfare schemes.


INDIA: The Most Attractive International Destination

In an endorsement of India's fundamentals, almost one-third of the respondents in a survey by EY ranked India as the most attractive market this year, while 60% placed it among the top three investment destinations. China was considered India's main competitor.
The `Ready , Set, Grow: EY's 2015 India Attractiveness Survey' is based on the responses of 505 global decision-makers collected during March and April. Business leaders said they found India's macroeconomic and political stability, FDI policy and ease of doing business more attractive in 2015 than last year, according to the survey , indicating that the government's drive to improve business was yielding results. Labour costs, the domestic market and macroeconomic stability were cited as the most important factors in making India attractive. Tax and regulatory reforms, regulatory compliance cost and transport infrastructure scored low.The government said it was working on those issues.
Established investors are more confident about India's attractiveness parameters than those who are still exploring the country for opportunities. “Manufacturing has regained its share in FDI capital flows in 2014, amounting to approximately 46%,“ the survey said, suggesting that the high pitch `Make in India' initiative seemed to have had some impact. “Investors are most optimistic about the sector, with 62% of those interested to expand or enter India over the next year saying that they plan manufacturing activities.“ Among the respondents, 55% were aware of the Make in India programme and 69% of them said they were likely to invest in manufacturing in the next five years.
In the first six months of this year, FDI capital in manufacturing increased 221%. After a steep fall in 2013, FDI in manufacturing has grown at its fastest in seven years. In 2014, investors announced plans to “invest a total of $11.4 billion in 192 FDI projects, creating more than 67,000 jobs,“ the study stated. “Over the last year, the improvements in India's macroeconomic indicators, accompanied with the ongoing efforts to revitalise growth, have offered new hope to investors,“ said Rajiv Memani, EY Chairman of the Global Emerging Markets Committee and India Regional Managing Partner.The EY report says that while investors are cautious about the business environment in India, the overall outlook is positive due to the improved economic growth and investor friendly moves by the government.