ATM cash withdrawal limit eased further

Facing criticism from the Election Commission for not allowing candidates contesting the coming Assembly polls to withdraw cash up to their legal limit, the Reserve Bank of India removed withdrawal restrictions on current, cash credit and overdraft accounts with immediate effect.

ATM withdrawal restrictions will also be eased from Wednesday. A savings account holder may now withdraw up to Rs.24,000 at one go from ATMs. Earlier, the limit on such accounts was Rs.10,000 per day, with a weekly cap of Rs.24,000.

The overall limit on savings accounts will, however, continue. The cap for savings account holders is Rs.24,000 per week.

RBI also said banks may, at their discretion, have their own operating limits as was the case before November 8, when note ban was imposed.

The reason behind the move was the “pace of remonetisation,” or the pace at which new notes have replaced the scrapped high-value notes.

Following demonetisation, RBI had put a withdrawal limit of Rs.2,000 per day from ATMs and Rs.10,000 per week. Customers holding a current or overdraft or cash credit accounts were allowed to withdraw up to Rs.50,000 in a week.

Towards November end, RBI increased the caps on savings bank withdrawals to Rs.24,000 a week.

In January, it was further relaxed to Rs.4,500 per day from ATMs, but the weekly withdrawal limits remained. On January 16, RBI enhanced ATM withdrawals further to Rs.10,000 daily, while keeping the weekly limits at Rs.24,000.

The central bank had also enhanced the limit on withdrawal from current accounts, overdraft and cash credit accounts to Rs.1,00,000 per week.

Auto Sector Report

Hafiz Saeed put under house arrest

Jammat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of Mumbai terror attack, was on Monday night placed under house arrest in Lahore, his outfit said. Punjab government's Home Department has issued detention order of Saeed and Lahore Police have reached JuD headquarters in Chauburji to implement the order, it said.

Punjab government's action comes amidst pressure from the Trump administration to act against terror. The US has clearly told Islamabad that in case of not taking action against JuD and Saeed, it may face sanctions.

JuD is the front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit which is responsible for numerous terror attacks in India, including the Mumbai terror strike of November 26,2008, which was masterminded by Saeed.

JuD has already been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation' by the United States in June 2014.

Voda, Idea talk Merger

The biggest consolidation in India's telecom sector is officially underway with UK's Vodafone Group Plc and the KM Birla-owned Idea Cellular confirming they are in initial talks to merge their businesses in a cashless deal which could create the country's largest mobile phone operator by subscribers and revenue market share.

While the two companies did not give any details, the statements issued by the two parties suggest that Birla wants equal rights and that Vodafone will hold 50% or less in the merged entity . Vodafone will be issued fresh shares of Idea, which will continue to be listed.

If the merger between India's No.2 and No.3 telcos materialises, the combined entity will knock off Bharti Airtel from the top slot for the first time in over 15 years and with its scale, size and synergies, present a strong response to Reliance Jio's formidable challenge. The merger will result in the Indian telecom landscape being dominated by three strong private firms along with the state-owned BSNL. It will possibly begin the process of renewing price discipline in an industry which has been shaken up by Jio's disruptive entry.

Both companies cautioned that talks were at a preliminary stage and there was no guarantee that they would result in a merger.

If the discussions are successful, Vodafone, which has been embroiled in a multi-billion-dollar tax dispute for the past many years, will buy into Idea through a share swap, but will keep its stake at 50% or below in the combined entity. This will result in its Indian business ceasing to be a subsidiary of Vodafone Group Plc which then won't have to consolidate its Indian unit's numbers, including debt and losses, into its own financials.

In terms of subscribers and revenue, Vodafone India is bigger than Idea Cellular and a merger should result in its parent company holding a bigger stake.

If the merger happens, it will create a formidable entity. The combine will have a 43% revenue market share and over 390 million subscribers, in comparison with Bharti Airtel's 33% market share and 266 million subscribers.

Industry executives and experts said a possible stumbling point in the negotiations could be regarding who controls the new entity with both Vodafone, with a larger balance sheet, and Idea, with a more efficient and faster growing operations, staking claim for the same.

The merger move comes at a time of a brutal price war in India's telecom industry triggered by the entry of Jio in early September which has already hit Bharti Airtel's profits and is poised to hit Idea as well.The telco is expected post its first ever net loss in the quarter ended December.

Vodafone India's financial woes have also been exacerbated by the bruising impact of Jio's free voice and data services.


Mumbai Monorail update

The second phase of the 10 kilometre monorail project between Wadala and Jacob Circle is likely to be thrown open in May with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority having conducted its first full-fledged trial run on Thursday.

While the nine kilometre monorail line between Wadala and Chembur sees around 19,000 footfalls each day (the number stood at 14,000 earlier), MMRDA is incurring losses to the tune of Rs.10 lakh per day. MMRDA hopes phase two of the project will lead to a turn of fortune for the monorail project as it expects the number of passengers to rise to 1 lakh per day.

This is based on the logic that the stations along the new line are better connected to other modes of transport, including the metro and local trains. For example, commuters headed to Nariman Point can get down at the proposed Mahalaxmi station to take a local to Churchgate, or board the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz metro (when completed); those headed to Fort, CST can get down at Curry Road station and take a local plying on the Central line. The MMRDA, which is currently charging fares between Rs.5 and Rs.11, is also considering revising the fares to reduce losses. The Rs.3,000-crore project has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since inception. The original deadline for first phase of project, for which the foundation stone was laid in 2009, was marred by issues related to land acquisition, environmental clearance, change in alignment, among others, and was completed only in 2011.

The project also received bad press due to frequent break downs and MMRDA's differences with contractors L&T and its Malaysian partner Scomi Engineering.

The project was finally thrown open to the public in February 2014 ahead of elections by the Congress-led government.Though it created an initial euphoria, it failed to generate continued interest as the project lacked in last mile connectivity.Even the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) rapped MMRDA for poor quality of construction of project and several other irregularities.

Rahul - Akhilesh bonhomie in Lucknow

A handshake, a hug, shared smiles and many pats on the back set the stage for the first public display of the Rahul Gandhi-Akhilesh Yadav bonhomie. Shutterbugs went clicking when the two arrived for the joint launch of the campaign: UP Ko Ye Saath Pasand Hai but the friendly warmth lingered well after the cameras were not clicking.

Playing up their popularity among youth and stating that their politics was focused on development instead of dividing people.

India Posts' payments bank set to launch

The first India Post payments bank at Ranchi general post office will be inaugurated by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley via video conferencing this evening.

India Post is the first government-held entity to be issued a licence to run a payments bank by the Reserve Bank of India. Payment banks is a new concept introduced and promoted by the RBI, where licensed banks can accept deposits of up to Rs.1 lakh per account holder.

India, China and Others to Grow Sharply : PwC

Emerging market economies like China and India, which have been growing much faster than the US, Europe and Japan, are expected to witness even sharper jump in the coming years, says a PwC report.

Key markets showing positive growth also include Indonesia, Turkey , Poland, Egypt and Bangladesh. Besides, Iran too is expected to witness a steep jump in growth following the easing of economic sanctions. The report said that from this year onwards, growth markets including India are expected to see the dawn of a new era and despite the recent turbulence, these markets will still account for the majority share of global growth over the next five years.

Regarding India, the report said that policy reforms are leading the way for growth momentum. 


Somewhere in Mumbai....

January 28 witnessed one of the biggest pride parades in India. Several joined the pride festival that took off from August Kranti Maidan, near Grant Road station at 3 pm.  Young mothers marched with banners that read "Mothers for Equality". College students were seen with the banner "Students for Equality". Some medical students walked with the banner "Future Doctors for Equality". 


Rahul Names Captain CM Face

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi kicked off his three day Punjab tour by declaring Captain Amarinder Singh as the party's chief ministerial candidate. Speaking in Majitha, an Akalis stronghold, he promised to bring in a tough law to wipe out “chitta“ and jail those responsible for “playing with the lives of the youth“ if his party comes to power in the state.

Amid loud cries of `Jo Bole So Nihal' from the crowd, Rahul Gandhi lauded Captain Amarinder as an experienced leader who had given his sweat to Punjab. Rahul said the PPCC president would once again fulfil every promise made to the people of Punjab.

Flanked by Captain and the party's star campaigner and Amritsar East candidate Navjot Singh Sidhu, Rahul appealed to the people to join hands with the Congress to revive the fortunes of the state and to collectively work towards the establishment of Punjabiyat.

Ganesh idol falls, lens on Reds

A 1,110-year-old Ganesha idol, located atop Dholkal hill in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, fell from a height of 13,000 feet and broke into pieces in the dense forest area dominated by the Maoists. Experts and conservationists term this a major blow to archaeology.

Bastar police is not ruling out the possibility of Maoists pushing the idol down the hill to destroy it in an attempt to stop development works and prevent visitors in the area.

China's nuclear free pass to Pakistan

Recently declassified CIA files testify to the depth of the Pakistan-China military relationship built over decades and also highlights how Beijing was willing to risk it's own nuclear cooperation with US to boost the nuclear ambitions of `all weather friend' Pakistan.

By 1983-84, it had become alarmingly clear to the US that the China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation went much deeper. In February 1983, a US congressional committee was informed by the CIA that the US had proof China and Pakistan were talking nuclear weapons manufacture.CIA also stated they knew China had handed over the design of a nuclear bomb tested by China in Lop Nor, which incidentally was its fourth nuclear test and during which, US believed, a “senior Pakistani official“ was present.

The US suspected China had handed over enriched uranium to Pakistan as well. Basically it meant that China had not only handed over the design of the bomb to Pakistan, it had also given the necessary material.

India Post's payment bank gets RBI nod

The RBI has given its nod for India Post Payments Bank to start operations. The Centre has appointed 1986 batch Indian Postal Service officer A P Singh as its interim CEO.
Operations are expected to start before March 31 and will be rolled out in 650 districts using the network of 1.54 lakh post offices. IPPB is the third entity after Airtel and Paytm payment banks to get the RBI's approval.

The IPPB has been incorporated as a public limited company under the department of posts with 100% equity from the Centre. It will offer, among other services, demand deposits like savings and current accounts up to Rs.1 lakh, digitally-enabled payments and remittance services of all kinds.

99% of Indians over 18 have Aadhaar

Over 99% of Indians aged 18 and above have Aadhaar cards as more than 111 crore residents have enrolled themselves for the unique identification number. The increase in enrollments will come as a boost to the government's drive to make India a less-cash society as it is encouraging the use of AadhaarPay , a merchant version of Aadhaar-enabled payment system.

Backed by the Aadhaar Act and 91.7% coverage of the total population, the government is set to accelerate the use of unique identification numbers in its social welfare schemes for disbursing entitlements and subsidies as it will help check duplication and pilferage. The Centre saved Rs.36,000 crore in two years even though the use of Aadhaar was restricted to a handful of schemes like PDS, household LPG supply and MGNREGA. We all know Aadhaar was started by the previous government, but at that time, it was only a digital identity . Under the government led by PM Narendra Modi, it has become a powerful tool of financial and future transformation.

Sources said after the government banned high value notes, Aadhaar generation and its use for financial transactions saw a substantial jump. Aadhaar enrolment between March 2014 and May 2014 was 3-4 lakh a day and went up to around 5-6 lakh per day by October 2016. Since demonetisation, Aadhaar enrollment and update requests have been in the range of 7-8 lakh per day .

Before the note ban, the rate of linking Aadhaar with bank accounts was about 60 lakh per month which increased to 1.70-1.90 crore per month after demonetisation.


Somewhere on the Rajpath....

Republic Day Parade 2017.

Biz Sentiment Hit: RBI

About Unicorns....

A unicorn is a startup or private company valued at $ 1 billion or more. India has some ten unicorns, five in Bengaluru and five in Delhi-NCR, according to the Wall Street Journal.These include Flipkart, Ola, InMobi, Quikr and Mu Sigma in Bengaluru, and Snapdeal, Zomato, Paytm, Hike and Shopclues in DelhiNCR. CB Insights does not include Quikr among its unicorns, so their number is nine for India.

France, Japan and South Korea together have six: three, two and one, respectively, according to CB Insights. China has 29 more unicorns than India, while the US has 88 more. CB Insights has a total of 185 unicorns. Flipkart stands at the tenth place globally, while Snapdeal occupies the 19th place and Ola takes the 24th. Hike and Shopclues are latest entrants.

Experts say the increasing number of Unicorns in India is a reflection of the market potential. However, the most valued startups in India seem to be imitation firms providing services that have already proven themselves in other parts of the world. Experts though say there is no reason to decry this trend. Most of the startups, including the unicorns, are focused on the needs of the India-1 market: the metros and big cities, their growth will be impossible if they cannot make a transition to the India-2 or Bharat market.

CB Insights data shows that the rate at which new unicorns are emerging is slowing down both in China and the US, which experts believe can be a great opportunity for India.


Republic Day Greetings

India, UAE sign 14 pacts

India and the UAE put in place a strategic partnership covering defence, energy and security as the two countries signed 14 agreements during the visit by UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as chief guest of the Republic Day celebrations. A strategic partnership agreement, which will serve as the framework for the relationship, was the centre piece of the day's discussions.
An important agreement will allow Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) to fill 6 million barrels of oil in India's strategic reserve facility in Mangaluru. The other part of the storage facility is being filled by Iran. Surprisingly, an anticipated MoU on $75 billion investment intent into India's national infrastructure fund by the UAE was not signed, indicating there were still gaps in the negotiations.

Sources said four executive directors of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority would visit India in February to finalise the sectors in which they would invest.

The two countries also inked pacts to enable cooperation in the areas of cyberspace, armaments, defence industries and transfer of technology.


Kochi Metro makes 1st trial run

A day after the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation principal advisor E Sreedharan conducted an inspection of the Metro rail, the Metro agency carried out a trial run for the first time to Aluva. A metro train with three coaches chugged out from Muttom Yard to Aluva. Aluva is the first station on the Kochi Metro route. The train then returned from Aluva all the way to Palarivattom covering a distance of 13 km. The trial run was conducted on both the tracks.

The said the trial runs will continue for about a month. There are 11 stations between Aluva and Palarivattom. The stations are at Aluva, Pulinchodu, Companypady , Ambattukavu, Muttom, Kalamassery, Cochin University, Pathadipa lam, Edapally , Changampuzha Park and Palarivattom.

However, as there was no prior information, regarding the trial run, local residents were surprised to see the metro training moving above the viaduct.

Dragon dance displaces homegrown Smartphone makers

It has been a rapid slide for Indian smartphone manufacturers as Chinese companies strengthen their grip on buyers. Led by Micromax, homegrown brands have taken a beating as Chinese phone makers such as Vivo and Lenovo strengthen their hold, driven by new devices and aggressive marketing strategies.

None of the Indian brands figure in the top-five smartphone ranking released for Q4 of 2016, a far cry from the Q1 where three brands in top five were Indian. The pressure from the Chinese brands is so intense that even Samsung, which still leads the market, has seen its share down at 24% in Q4 of 2016 against 29% in first quarter.

While Chinese brands have been investing aggressively over the last few years, their large-scale acceptance among buyers surprises many . The general perception was Chinese brands were poor in quality and lacked bandwidth to service their phones. But this has been changing as Chinese companies make inroads into offline retail stores, while becoming highly-visible via heavy investments in big-ticket sporting and entertainment events.

Vivo came up strongly to finish the fourth quarter with a share of 10%, second behind Samsung. It was followed by Xiaomi, Lenovo and Oppo. 

Modi receives Abu Dhabi crown prince

The chief guest for Republic Day , Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday with PM Narendra Modi receiving him at the airport. After February last year, this was the second occasion that Modi went to the airport to receive the deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces.

After a meeting between Modi and Al Nahyan on Wednesday , the two countries will sign 13 agreements including one for a strategic partnership. The UAE is keen to establish an infrastructure investment fund worth $75 billion, as it promised in 2015, which India can utilise over the next 10 years. The government is hoping to sign an MoU between the UAE investment fund and India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to facilitate investment.

The UAE has said it wants to see some “legacy issues of some of the big investments of UAE companies sorted out“ and it is looking forward to relaxation in FDI in sectors like ports and real estate. UAE companies facing investment issues in India include telecom firm Etisalat, marine terminals developer DP World, Emaar and TAQA.

Cabinet okays full autonomy for IIMs

The Cabinet cleared a bill to grant the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management complete autonomy to run their affairs and award degrees to their graduates. Once the bill is passed by Parliament, all 20 IIMs will be declared `institutions of national importance'.

The Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017, does away with the government's role in running the premier business schools. All powers will be vested in 15-member boards at every IIM. Also, the bill has no provision of reservation in faculty jobs except stating that the recruitment policy should be inclusive. However, reservation in admission for SCs/STs/OBCs will be as per existing norms. The move comes after months of wrangling between the HRD ministry and the Prime Minister's Office on the bill's autonomy provisions.

The Cabinet cleared the bill in the absence of HRD minister Prakash Javadekar. Shortly after the decision, Modi tweeted, “The IIM Bill focuses on complete autonomy , effective administration, more alumni participation and many other areas.“

Javadekar hailed the decision as a “historic one“ which would give IIMs real autonomy and power to grant degrees. “We trust excellence and quality . This reflects vision of Modi government for higher education,“ he tweeted.

According to the bill, the responsibility of running each IIM will be vested in its board headed by a chairperson who will be an eminent person from the field of education/ industry/ science or technology . Apart from the chairperson, each board will have a representative of the HRD ministry , one of the state government, four eminent persons, four alumni, one member of the IIM society , two faculty members and a director who will be ex-officio member. At least one member of the board should be either from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes and three members should be women.The board will have the power to select the director.


Jallikattu Protests Turn Violent

Violence broke out across Tamil Nadu as the once “orderly and peaceful“ ranks of protestors, demanding that the state's farmers be allowed to perform jallikattu, clashed with police even as lawmakers granted approval for the conduct of the bull-taming sport that has inflamed passions and stoked debate for weeks. Battalions of police personnel descended almost simultaneously at various protest points across the state, even as the governor in his address to the state assembly hailed the “mass movement (that) has paved the way for lifting the ban on jallikattu.“

Even as news filtered in that their demands were being met, protestors with no visible leaders in sight, were unsure of their next moves while the state government erred on the side of force. The clashes were an unlikely denouement to the well-organised protest movement -where students and professionals backed farmers -aimed at gaining official sanction for a sport opposed by animal rights activists.

Protesters who continued to stay on Marina on Monday evening said the violence on the streets of Chennai was a direct fallout of forcible evacuation.Protesters said the police force came in as early as 4 am in the morning and began targeting some groups on the beach.

People scattered after the initial blows, many leaving the beach while many ran deeper toward the sea. In the assembly, Governor C Vidhya Sagar Rao was hailing the protesters for the peaceful nature of the protests.

“Thus, after receiving an assurance from the Government of India that the state government's actions to ensure conduct of jallikattu would be supported, the state government has followed the Constitutional route and issued an Ordinance amending the relevant provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 in so far as they relate to Tamil Nadu, thereby enabling the conduct of jallikattu,“ the governor said in his address.

Somewhere in New Delhi....

Bordeaux trams to trundle through Hyderabad lanes

Soon, the Moazzam Jahi Market to Charminar stretch could flaunt a new-age tramway , much like the one ferrying passengers in the French city of Bordeaux. Authorities shared that the tramway line might be laid along this 2.9 km tract as part of the ongoing Charminar Pedestrianisation Project.  A cooperative agreement to introduce this New Generation Tramway was signed between Bordeaux Metropole and Telangana in October 2015.

Being prepared as a two-line tramway system, the estimated cost of the project, officials said, is Rs.100 crore. Hyderabad mayor Bonthu Ram Mohan stressed the need to strengthen the city's public transport system and make it smarter.

Resettling Kashmiri Pandits

The Jammu - Kashmir government has identified 100 acres of land across eight locations in the Valley for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits displaced by militant violence in the early 1990s.
Young candidates from registered Kashmiri migrant families will be given government jobs in the Valley and put up in transit accomodation here as part of the Prime Minister's resettlement package.

The eight locations are spread across all the Valley's 10 districts. While candidates had been found for 1,700 jobs promised under the Prime Minister's rehabilitation package, and some of them put up in transit accommodations at Budgam and Qazigund, the selection process was under way for the remaining 4,300.

As many as 62,000 Kashmiri migrant families are registered with the government -of these, 40,000 are registered in Jammu, 20,000 in the national capital, and 2,000 in the rest of the country. The NDA government had, after assuming office in 2014, earmarked Rs.500 crore for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.

Taking up the issue of their rehabilitation, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had, in 2014, written to the then chief minister Omar Abdullah to identify land for resettling them. He suggested that land may be identified near their native places while also keeping in mind the security aspect. But the Abdullah government cited the poll code of conduct, which was in force at the time, as the reason for not taking up the task immediately . He, however, cautioned the Centre, saying that resettling Kashmiri Pandits together would put them at the risk of being targeted by militants.


Institutes of Eminence

The Prakash Javadekar led Human Resource Development ministry is learnt to have finalised on the regulations to set up 20 `world class institutes' deciding to name them as `Institutes of Eminence' instead.

The ministry has also agreed to bring down corpus amount requirement significantly for private institutes from the originally proposed Rs.500 crore to just about Rs.60 crore, pull down enrolment requirements to 15,000 students and keep Faculty Student ratio at 1:20 to start with.The regulations will also clearly say that UGC regulations will not be applicable in most part to these 20 institutes.

The changes to the Regulations have been made following the feedback the ministry received on them after they were put in the public domain.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced in the 2016 budget that “enabling regulatory architecture will be provided to 10 public and 10 private institutions to emerge as world-class teaching and research institutions“.

There was consensus in the HRD ministry after public consultation that terming the institutes as `world class' was not the best or even apt description.While description like Institutes of excellence and possible use of the term National were considered, finally , it was agreed to rename them as `Institutes of Eminence'.

It was originally proposed that a private institute must have a corpus of Rs.500 crore to be eligible to be declared a world class institute. However, after the PMO's intervention, this was said to be reworked to keep it at Rs.200 crore instead. Now, the HRD ministry has brought this down to just Rs.60 crore to be raised to Rs.150 crore in ten years' time. It is argued that corpus fund is also read as locked up money, so there may not be enough rationale for prescribing such a high amount be kept inactive.

The draft regulations had also said that the institutions must ensure a 1:10 faculty-student ratio, enroll 20,000 students in 15 years.These criteria now stand revised with a proposals instead to start with 1:20 Faculty Student ratio, to be improved to 1:10 in five years' times and a total enrolment of 15,000 students in 15 years.

It is expected that the HRD ministry will be able to take the proposal to Cabinet in April-May and notify them in June this year. Once Cabinet approval comes through, an Empowered Experts Committee will be appointed to conduct the screening process for the aspiring institutes which will be able to apply within 90 days of notification.

SP-Congress announce tie-up for UP polls

After multiple twists and turns, the Congress and Samajwadi Party reached an understanding to contest the assembly polls together. Congress would now contest 105 seats while the SP would fight in 298 seats in the state.

The deal that was showing signs of breaking was rescued by the intervention of senior party leaders, including Ahmed Patel and Ram Gopal Yadav. SP had reached out to the Congress when it was facing crisis with Mulayam Singh Yadav's faction staking a claim on the cycle symbol earlier this month. The deal was being worked upon by both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. Dimple Yadav, Akhilesh's wife is said to have played an important role in facilitating the negotiations.

The initial demand by Congress was 135-140 seats which the SP was mulling over. After scaling down its demands, the one upmanship game was already evident with the Congress refusing to hold the press conference at the SP office as earlier planned. The alliance was announced at the Taj Hotel in Lucknow which saw more supporters of the Congress than the media.


Rs.2.35L cr takeaway from biz summit

Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee made it clear that demonetisation had failed to dampen the spirit of the 3rd Bengal Global Business Summit while announcing investment proposals worth Rs.2.35 lakh crore on the concluding day of the event.
Till the previous evening, investment proposals had touched only Rs.30,000 crore. Central government investments, including expansion of Metro rail projects in Kolkata and suburbs worth Rs.23,590 crore has been included in the list of proposed projects that include proposals in sectors like manufacturing, infrastructure, MSME, urban development, transport, IT, telecom and hospitality.

Manufacturing and infrastructure took the lead with proposed investment of Rs.61,765 crore, followed by medium, small and micro enterprises sector. The biggest proposal came from Chinese firm TEB Technology , that will invest Rs.27,200 crore in Texmaco to manufacture MRTS rakes. Currently, TEB operates MRTS in Beijing and Philadelphia. The next biggest was in infrastructure and real estate where Shapoorji Pallonji group has committed Rs.24,000 crore. One of the big-ticket investments is an industrial growth corridor triangle for Rs.22,000 crore. The other major proposals include Howrah MSME hub for Rs.18,000 crore, Rs.12,500 crore by Reliance in telecom, Tajpur port for Rs.12,000 crore, RP-SG Group investment in FMCG for Rs.10,000 crore, truck terminal and Paribahan Nagar at Rajarhat for Rs.10,000 crore and theme-based township by Ambuja for Rs.10,000 crore and Rs.12,000 crore investment by Reliance in telecom infrastructure. Interestingly, unlike last year where a lot of projects was announced by the Centre, this time majority was from private entrepreneurs and that include a fair amount of foreign direct investments. Besides TB Technologies, FDI may come from Cedrus of Russia, Auto Haus of China, ATTIVO and in mining.

Mamata did not elaborate on the investments but mentioned about an MoU between Handong University of Korea and West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation for green cities, Norway showing interest in maritime projects, Italy keen on leather and manufacturing and Japan on drinking water project.

Referring to the past two editions of BGBS in which the state had received proposals worth over Rs.4.93 lakh crore, the CM said 40% were in the implementation stage.

Later state finance and industries minster Amit Mitra said that success of a business summit largely depends on business to business meetings and in case of BGBS this time, 425 B2B meetings were held.


Somewhere in Bengaluru....

CPSE ETF gets bids worth Rs.12,000 crore

The second tranche sale of government's exchange traded fund of top 10 state-owned companies saw bids worth Rs.12,000 crore from investors, twice the amount sought to be raised.
The Reliance Mutual Fund managed Central Public Sector Enterprises-ETF saw all round participation from investors, with retail buyers, who were offered 5% discount, putting in bids for over Rs.1,000 crore. Anchor investors, for whom the bids were opened on January 17 and Rs.1,800 crore was reserved, had put in bids for over Rs.6,000 crore. Another Rs.6,000 crore worth bids poured in from qualified institutional buyers and retail investors between January 18-20.


Somewhere in Jammu-Kashmir....

Twenty seven years after most of the Kashmiri Pandits left the Valley, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passed a resolution to ensure the return of migrants to their homeland. Former J-K chief minister and opposition leader Omar Abdullah tabled the resolution and the PDP-BJP government supported it. The resolution was passed unanimously. “Today, it has been 27 years since they left the Valley,“ said Abdullah referring to January 19, 1990, when most of the Kashmiri Pandits left the Valley after militancy broke out.

The National Conference leader appealed to all legislators to rise above political beliefs and join hands in passing the resolution so that Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs and Muslims who left Kashmir due to the turmoil can come back to their home and be resettled.

India's Aviation statz

Himachal gets 2nd capital

In a sudden move ahead of assembly polls later this year, chief minister Virbhadra Singh declared Dharamshala, situated in the snow-capped Dhauladhar range, the second capital of Himachal Pradesh. Making the announcement he said the town had a history of its own and fully deserved to be the second capital of the state.
The announcement is significant as 25 out of 68 assembly seats fall in Kangra, Una and Hamirpur districts, and Dharamshala was important for lower areas of the hill state including Kangra, Chamba, Hamirpur and Una districts.

The chief minister said Dharamshala was already marked prominently in the map of the world due to reasons including religious, natural and adventurous tourism and it being the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama had attracted prominent personalities throughout the year.

The CM said a full-fledged winter session of HP assembly was held for the first time outside Shimla in December 2005, during his earlier term as the CM. A complete assembly complex was already functional at Tapovan, for which the foundation was laid in his last tenure in 2006. Virbhadra claimed he had introduced the practice of annual winter sojourn way back in 1994 to see for himself the progress of development works being carried out in the area.

Karnataka state highways to develop into green corridors

There are 14 national highways and 114 state highways with a total length of 28,311 km in Karnataka. Of these, state highways are more as they are the arterial routes linking district headquarters, important towns and national highways.

The state government has proposed to develop eco-friendly roads by earmarking one per cent of the civil cost of highway development projects for planting of saplings.This will cover both the existing sections as well as new routes that would be added to the network.

The road contractor will have to sign a pact to ensure strict compliance of planting of saplings on highways they develop and their maintenance. The saplings which are over three years old have to be planted in every 5-metre gap on both sides.

Planting of saplings will reduce the impact of air noise pollution and dust, soil erosion and provide shade under the scorching sun. It will also help prevent the glare from headlights of fast-approaching vehicles, and generate more employment.

No.1 in Google Play app usage

Mobile users in India downloaded the most number of apps from Google Play app store in 2016. With over 6 billion app downloads, India, which was in the third position in 2015, surpassed the US, according to a report by App Annie. Brazil took the third spot with a little over 5 billion downloads. China is not part of the Google Play rankings because the country has blocked Google. However, it was No.1 in iOS app store downloads.

The report indicated that India could widen its gap with others in Android app downloads given its still low penetration of smartphones. India was well ahead of all the others in terms of the total time spent on apps. Out of the total of 900 billion hours spent on Android apps in 2016, 150 billion hours were spent by Indians.

Due to their exploding user bases and increase in time spent per user, emerging markets like India, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico accounted for four of the top five countries by total time spent on Android apps. However, in Google Play's worldwide revenue, India does not feature even in the top 10, indicating that Google has a long way to go in terms of monetizing its enviable adoption in the country .

CBI's Fight Against Corruption

Regional links get boost

Forty-three unused airports will soon start operations as the government has got bids to start flights to and from these cities under the regional connectivity scheme.  The first subsidised regional flight, with fares capped at Rs.2,500 per hour of flying, will take off by February-end or early March, said aviation minister Jayant Sinha. “We have got bids from 11 bidders, including schedule airlines, for 190 routes connecting 43 unserved airports like Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jamshedpur Jalgaon and Akola and for 12 underserved (which get less than seven flights a week like Gwalior).This is the first round of bidding and affordable aerial regional connectivity will grow as more routes are bid out in coming days,“ Sinha said.

The first RCS flight may be to Pantnagar, with the hill state city getting connected to Delhi and Dehradun. Jamshedpur-Kolkata may be the second. India has 35 airports which e ready to receive flights but are ready to receive flights but don't get as airlines don't find these routes financially viable. To overcome this challenge the government plans to raise viability gap funding for RCS operators by charging Rs.7,500-8,500 on each schedule flight to and from big cities. It expected to raise Rs.400 crore from this cess for regional connectivity fund, apart from another 20% funding coming from state governments.However, airlines have challenged this new cess in court.

The levy to fund RCS will be reviewed once every quarter to factor in fluctuation in prices of jet fuel and other operating cost.

Corporate Park, Kharghar

If all goes according to plan, a proposed commercial hub on 120 hectares in Kharghar will become the Mumbai metropolitan area's biggest such facility and a revenue grosser for Cidco by way of land sale. The net land use will be about double that of BKC (63 hectares mixed land use). The City and Industrial Development Corporation is the planning authority for Navi Mumbai, in which Kharghar lies.

The proposed facility , touted as BKC-II, will be helmed by a golf course and vast greens of Central Park and will be nestled close to Pandavkada Hills, a part of the Parsik range. It also promises a resort-like experience.

Cidco will float a global tender to invite architects with 15 years' minimum experience to draw up the master plan of the proposed Corporate Park, Kharghar.

BKC-II will be in close proximity to the upcoming second international airport. It has the approval of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who holds the urban development portfolio.