Covid-19: August surge

India’s Covid-19 tally zoomed past 35 lakh, just a week after it crossed the 30-lakh mark, with a record single-day spike of 78,761 cases, while recoveries surged to 27,13,933 on Sunday, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

The total coronavirus cases rose to 35,42,733, while the death toll climbed to 63,498 with 948 people succumbing to the diseases in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am on Saturday showed.

The recovery rate has increased to 76.61 per cent while the Covid-19 case fatality rate has further declined to 1.79 per cent. There are 7,65,302 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which comprises 21.60 per cent of the total caseload, the data stated. India’s Covid-19 cases rose from 20 lakh to 30 lakh in 16 days and 10 lakh to 20 lakh in 21 days.

It took 110 days for Covid-19 cases in the country to reach one, while just 59 days more to go past the 10-lakh post. India’s Covid-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7 and went past 30 lakh on August 23.

According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 4,14,61,636 samples have been tested up to August 29 with 10,55,027 samples being tested on Saturday. Of the 948 fresh deaths, 328 are from Maharashtra,115 from Karnataka, 87 from Tamil Nadu, 82 from Andhra Pradesh, 62 from Uttar Pradesh, 53 from West Bengal, 41 from Punjab, 22 from Madhya Pradesh, 16 from Jharkhand,15 from Delhi,14 from Odisha,13 each from Gujarat and Rajasthan, 12 from Puducherry, 11 each from Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand.

Of the total 63,498 deaths, Maharashtra has reported the maximum at 24,103 followed by 7,137 in Tamil Nadu, 5,483 in Karnataka, 4,404 in Delhi, and 3,796 in Andhra .

Monsoon tracker: This August could be Wettest Since 1901

The monsoon has roared back in August with excess rain of 26%, and is likely to be among the wettest since 1901, when the weather office started recording official data.

Rainfall is already at a record in India’s mid-latitude states including Mahrashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Odisha. This region, which the weather office categorises as ‘central India’, has received an all-time high 482.8 mm rainfall this month.

The surge in rainfall, following a weak July, has raised hopes of a record harvest of summer-sown, or kharif, crops, although there are concerns about floods, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, which is an important area for oilseeds and pulses.

Good monsoon rain has cheered farmers. This is expected to boost rural demand for consumer goods, cars, two-wheelers, fertilizers, tractors, gold, and several other products.

From a shortage of 2% at the start of the month, monsoon rainfall since June 1 now stands at 10% above normal, spearheaded by the southwest monsoon remaining active in western India throughout the month. Rains in north India were also normal, after a disastrous July that saw the region suffer a 26% rain deficit.

East and northeastern states were the only regions that saw deficient rain in August, but rain clouds over these states regained momentum last week. Cumulatively, they remain healthy for the season.

Most days in August have seen surplus rainfall. Since the monsoon season started on June 1, nearly 90% of India has seen normal or above normal rain, said the IMD. The first two weeks of September are likely to continue seeing normal or above normal rain, according to the weather office.

Ikea, H&M set up tech bases in Bengaluru

Swedish retailers Ikea and H&M have set up global technology centres in Bengaluru. Each plans to hire about 1,000 employees initially. A host of US retailers including Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, JCPenney and Lowe’s already have tech centres in the city. The UK-based Tesco has had a big centre here for many years. Continental European retailers are now treading the same path.

Interestingly, both the Swedish retailers are neighbours in the Karle Town Centre SEZ in the city. Ikea’s centre in Bengaluru is expected to become bigger than its three other global business operations in Poland, China, and the US that together employ about 1,000 employees. These other centres are largely regional hubs for shared services, focused on finance, procurement and HR operations. The India centre will handle shared services, but it will also be a digital hub for Ikea. It will do work around data and analytics and it will support SAP implementation across the 30 countries Ikea has operations in.

Ikea, which designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories, has appointed former Cargill Business Services India MD Lalitha Indrakanti as head of global operations at Ingka Group, the holding company of Ikea.

Ingka Group consists of three businesses — the core Ikea retail business, the Ingka Centres, which create spaces for people to meet and which are anchored by an Ikea store, and Ikea Investments, which partners with firms to grow the retail business. Indrakanti will have responsibility for the Bengaluru centre too.


Unlock 4.0

 The Union Home Ministry issued the Unlock 4 guidelines under which metro trains will be allowed to resume services from September 7 in a graded manner, while political, social and religious congregations of up to 100 people will be permitted from September 21.

However, schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will remain closed for students till September 30, with some relaxations for students of classes 9 to 12.

In a significant directive, the Home Ministry said state governments shall not impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones without prior consultation with the central government.

The ministry said that states and Union Territory governments may permit up to 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to the schools at a time for online teaching or tele-counselling and related work.

Students of Classes IX to XII may be permitted to visit their schools in areas outside the containment zones only on a voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers. This will be subject to the written consent of their parents or guardians, according to the guidelines.

Metro rail will be allowed to operate with effect from September 7 in a graded manner, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Ministry of Railways, in consultation with the MHA.

RIL Buys Future Group

Reliance Industries has agreed to buy Future Group’s retail business across apparel, lifestyle and grocery segment, a deal that will help Mukesh Ambani’s oil-to-media conglomerate control more than a third of India’s organised retail market.

The acquisition, valued at ₹27,513 crore, includes a take over of retail stores and a minority stake in Future’s consumer business, apart from assumption of all debts and liabilities.

The deal will see the merger of five listed entities of the Future Group — including Future Retail, Future Lifestyle and Future Consumer — into Future Enterprises, which currently houses the group’s retail back-end infrastructure.

In turn, FEL will then sell the retail, wholesale business, logistics and warehouse business as a slump sale to Reliance Retail and Fashion Lifestyle Limited. RRFLL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Retail Ventures, will also take over borrowings and current liabilities related to the business in an all-cash deal worth ₹24,713 crore.

Post the transaction, FEL will retain the manufacturing and distribution of consumer products, fashion sourcing and manufacturing business, the insurance joint venture with Generali and the textile partnership with NTC Mills.

Reliance will also invest ₹2,800 crore in FEL, which includes ₹1,200 crore in the preferential issue of equity shares for a 6.09% stake, and another ₹400 crore in warrants, which when converted upon payment of balance 75% consideration of ₹1,200 crore, will result in an additional 7.05% stake.

“With this transaction, we are pleased to provide a home to the renowned formats and brands of Future Group as well as preserve its business ecosystem, which have played an important role in the evolution of modern retail in India,” Isha Ambani, Director, Reliance Retail Ventures Limited, said.

For Kishore Biyani, who is often called the father of India’s organised retail, this deal effectively means his exit from the segment he built over the past three decades.

Founded in 1987 as the erstwhile Manz Wear and later Pantaloon Retail, Biyani used aggressive pricing to attract middle-class Indian consumers to his stores — Big Bazaar, Central and Brand Factory — and become a retail juggernaut.

But it also led to his companies being burdened with a net debt of ₹12,989 crore with the entire shareholding of the promoters being pledged with lenders.

“As a result of this re-organisation and transaction, Future Group will achieve a holistic solution to the challenges that have been caused by Covid and the macro economic environment. This transaction takes into account the interest of all its stakeholders including lenders, shareholders, creditors, suppliers and employees, giving continuity to all its businesses,” Kishore Biyani, Group CEO, Future Group, said in a statement.


New Delhi station to get ₹6,200 cr revamp

New Delhi railway station will get a swanky look and the surrounding railway land will get a couple of high-rises of up to 40 floors on the Ajmeri Gate side for commercial, office, hotels and other uses by the middle of 2025. The proposed station terminal project is projected to have a built-up area of approximately 33 lakh square feet, which is nearly 60% the size of T-3 of IGI Airport.

Moreover, the proposed station will also have a retail-cum-amenity area of approximately 550,000 square feet. The Rail Land Development Authority has invited bids for this development in the heart of the city at an estimated cost of around Rs.6,200 crore.

Sources said one of the key focuses of the project is to de-congest Connaught Place. The plan includes building four flyovers to connect the surrounding roads that will make the travel to and from stations seamless. There would be a wide pedestrian boulevard from the station to Connaught Place. Officials said there will be total integration all modes of transport at the station. This would feature more than 5,000 parking bays across one or more multi-level car parking.

The RLDA is hopeful of good response considering that the New Delhi railway station is the largest and second busiest station in the country, which handled approximately 4.5 lakh passengers daily before Covid. “Since such contracts are for longer duration, these will attract investors,” said a railway ministry source.

Re-development of railway stations at par with international ones on PPP mode has been one of the main thrusts of the Narendra Modi government.

The bid document for redevelopment of the New Delhi station mentions that the project will involve relocation of railway offices and buildings, commercial developments for retail, hotels, offices and serviced apartments on designated locations.

The government has been trying to redevelop the station for more than a decade.


Maharashtra Slashes Stamp Duty on Properties Till March end

In a bid to boost the sluggish real estate market hit by Covid-19, the Maharashtra government has decided to reduce stamp duty on property registrations to 2% from 5% for transactions between September 1 and December 31, 2020.

Stamp duty will be 3% for agreements to be registered between January 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021.

Realty developers expect the reduction in stamp duty charges, coupled with festive offers and other incentives, to give a fillip to sales activity. Mumbai is the most expensive property market in the country.

Following the lockdown in March, the Maharashtra government had decided to keep readyreckoner rates unchanged for the current financial year.

In Mumbai, property registrations had picked up in July, compared to what was witnessed in the April-June quarter. While stamp duty collections from real estate activities were seen improving, they remained below the pre-Covid-19 level.

Stamp duty collections stood at ₹242 crore in July against ₹169 crore in June and ₹470 crore in February prior to the virus outbreak, and subsequent lockdowns, according to government data.

India to order 2 more Israeli ‘eyes in the sky’

India is now finally going to seal the long-pending around $1-billion deal to acquire two more “Phalcon” airborne warning and control system aircraft from Israel, which has been derailed at least a couple of times in the past due to the high costs involved.

The acquisition of the two Awacs, with the Israeli Phalcon early-warning radar system mounted on Russian Ilyushin-76 heavy-lift aircraft, is all set to get the final nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security after extensive inter-ministerial consultations.

The two new Phalcon Awacs, which will add to the three such aircraft inducted by IAF in 2009-2011 under a $1.1 billion contract, will be delivered in three to four years. “They will be more advanced than the first three Phalcon Awacs, with the latest upgrades,” said a source.

The need for additional Awacs, which are powerful “eyes in the sky”, was acutely felt during the pre-dawn strikes at Balakot and the subsequent aerial skirmish with Pakistani fighters in February last year. The ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh has further reinforced the operational requirement.

Awacs or AEW&C (airborne early-warning and control) aircraft are critical in modern warfare because they can detect and track incoming fighters, cruise missiles and drones much before ground-based radars, direct friendly fighters during air combat with enemy jets, and keep tabs on enemy troop build-ups and movement of warships.

But Pakistan is ahead of India in this crucial area, which struck home much to IAF’s disquiet during the skirmish last year. Pakistan has 8-10 Chinese Karakoram Eagle ZDK-03 Awacs and Swedish Saab-2000 AEW&C. China, in turn, has well over 30, including Kong Jing-2000 ‘Mainring’, KJ-200 “Moth” and KJ-500.


Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3 snippets

Financial hurdles in several crucial railway projects of Mumbai, including third and fourth lines between Virar and Dahanu, new suburban corridor between Panvel and Karjat, new suburban link between Airoli and Kalwa and trespass control on mid-section were cleared.

The central and state governments, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank signed a loan agreement for a $500 million Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3 to improve the network capacity, service quality and safety of the suburban railway system in the metropolis.

The loan from the AIIB has a five-year grace period and a maturity of 30 years.

The total estimated cost of the MUTP 3 is Rs.10,947 crore, out of which Rs.3,500 crore will be financed by the AIIB. This project was given cabinet approval in December 2016.

MRVC started talks with banks and financial institutions after negotiations with the World Bank had reached an impasse over the funding of MUTP 3 in November 2018.

Around 58 hectares of land needs to be acquired for the Virar-Dahanu project, which has a completion cost of Rs.3,578 crore, while 33 hectares of land needs to be acquired for the Panvel-Karjat corridor which is expected to cost Rs.2,782 crore.

Before the lockdown, 19 pairs of local services running were running between Virar and Dahanu, but after completion of this project the frequency will be improved and commuters will able to get trains service at every 15 to 20 minutes.

Similarly, Airoli-Kalwa line will not only help decongest the Thane railway station, but also provide direct connectivity between Kalyan and Navi Mumbai.

These project swill also help in controlling the deaths on tracks. In the suburban section of the city, on average, eight deaths occurred daily before the lockdown. Out of this, around 60 per cent are related to trespassing.

The loan agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, additional secretary, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance on behalf of the Government of India, Sanjay Kumar, chief secretary, on behalf of the Government of Maharashtra, RS Khurana, chairman and managing director on behalf of the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation and Rajat Misra, director general (acting), investment operations on behalf of the AIIB.

AIIB vice president DJ Pandian said that this project represents another major step in supporting member countries in their efforts to provide transport capacity while removing transport bottlenecks, and thus improving the daily commuting experience of millions of Mumbaikars.

Rawat: India keeping its ‘military options’ open if China talks fail

India is keeping its “military options” open if the ongoing talks at the diplomatic and military levels with China do not lead to a breakthrough in the stalled troop disengagement and de-escalation in eastern Ladakh.

In a clear signal of intent to China, chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat said the Indian armed forces “remain prepared for military actions” if “peaceful efforts” through talks did not succeed in restoring status quo along the Line of Actual Control as it existed in April. The statement appears aimed at conveying that a prolonged stand off with Chinese troops camping in certain areas like Pangong and Depsang will not be acceptable.

“Military options to deal with transgressions by the Chinese Army in Ladakh are there, but they will be exercised only if talks fail,” Gen Rawat told a news agency on Monday.

Covid-19: Khattar 3rd CM to test +ve

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar (66) tested positive for Covid, becoming the third CM after his counterparts in MP and Karnataka, to contract the virus. Assembly speaker Gian Chand Gupta also tested positive, two days ahead of assembly session.

Ten personnel in CM’s security and his IT adviser are also positive. Khattar has been shifted to a private hospital. Five other MLAs and two LS MPs have tested positive.

Mumbai: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus redevelopment

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is set to get a makeover with world-class facilities at a cost of Rs.1,642 crore. But the makeover comes at a price for Mumbaikars: in future access to the station will be controlled and users will have to pay a fee – to be decided later by the Railway Board – to enter the premises.

That was among the main takeaways from ISRDC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Sanjeev Kumar Lohia’s interaction with reporters. Lohia said the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation had on August 20 invited Request for Qualification for the redevelopment of the station – expected to be completed in four years – through the public-private partnership model.

Under the plan, the Harbour Line, which connects South Mumbai with western suburbs and Navi Mumbai, will be shifted to the P D’Mello Road side, east of the main line station, on an elevated level. The authorities will demolish some existing buildings in the CSMT premises and move certain railway offices to Byculla and Wadi Bunder, to create more pedestrian area on the southern end of the station. Even the existing taxi stand will be shifted close to the boundary wall adjoining the Saint George Hospital, officials said.

Up to 2.54 lakh square metres of built-up area – including 80,000 sqm at Byculla and 30,000 sqm at Wadi Bunder – will be set aside for commercial development.

“The selected bidder at the RFP stage shall take up redevelopment of the railway station and commercial development of the surrounding railway land on leasehold basis, up to 60 years for commercial development and up to 99 years for residential development on selected plots, along with operation and maintenance of the station for 60 years on concession basis,” an IRSDC release said.

Restoring the heritage elements – including the façade – of the building is also a key aim. “This is the only station in the country that is also a Unesco site. We will restore its heritage. We will also take down all developments that have taken place after 1950. The observations made by earlier consultants in 2009, which had been presented before the heritage committee, have also been taken into account in the new plans. We have shown them how the station will be redeveloped so that the beauty of the station is enhanced,” Lohia said.

“The redevelopment will not be limited to improving the façade. Since it is a heritage structure, the first important element is to restore its heritage. We will restore the heritage to the 1950 level.”

Coronavirus: 3 million positive cases

India crossed three million cases after adding nearly 69,239 cases on Saturday — the fourth straight day that it had added over 69,000 cases. India continued to be placed behind Brazil and the United States in the overall case load and, at 56,706 deaths, had only half as many as Brazil and less than a third as that of the U.S.

India on Saturday reported having tested a million samples — the first time it surpassed this milestone. India has been conducting an average 8,89,935 testings in the last five days and had tested 34.4 million samples till August 21. Only about 23% of the confirmed cases, or about 7,00,000, are active cases requiring treatment and the case fatality ratio — or the confirmed deaths per ratified cases — has dipped to less than 2%.

Experts say the relentless spread of the virus and infectiousness was inevitable and evident from several epidemiological projections from March. “India is politically and culturally one country but epidemiologically it’s many countries rolled into one,” said Dr. Jacob John, retired professor of virology at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. “This is a respiratory virus and it was always a mistake to think that a single strategy — a national lockdown for instance — would be effective for the whole country,” he said in a phone conversation.

Herd immunity, the idea that once a large fraction of the population were infected, would signal the end of the pandemic was also a misnomer as that would only mean that the virus would have fewer hosts to infect, and was a sign that it had at best become endemic (capable of causing sporadic outbreaks). “Only a vaccine can prevent infections and help bring out herd immunity. A critical mistake in strategy during February and March was not doing enough to ramp up testing as well as restricting it to the sole laboratory at National Institute of Virology, Pune. We repeated mistakes that were made during the swine flu epidemic of 2009,” he added.

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the top three contributors to the overall case load with a little over a million or about a third of India’s case load. India’s doubling time was nearly 30 days with most states with over 50,000 cases recording a doubling time of 30-40 days. Delhi, is an exception with a current doubling time of over 70 days.

An official associated with the national COVID-19 taskforce said the spurt in cases was likely “until September or even October” given that testing and the spread of the infection had concomitantly risen. “The strategy now is to ensure deaths remain low and that is by detecting cases and contacts early. In March and April, we lacked enough infrastructure to ramp up testing. We have learned from the experience of Europe and therefore don’t have the fatality rates of Italy and France.”


BSF kills 5 armed intruders at Pakistan border in Tarn Taran

Five armed intruders, who tried to infiltrate into Punjab from Pakistan, were shot dead by Border Security Force personnel in Tarn Taran in an overnight operation that started late on Friday night and lasted for almost 10 hours.

A patrolling party of the BSF’s 103 Battalion observed suspicious movement near the border ahead of the security fence in Amarkot area of Tarn Taran district late on Friday night. The troops cordoned off the area and challenged the intruders to stop and surrender. However, the intruders continued to move towards the border fence and also opened fire at the BSF team intermittently, BSF inspector-general (IG), Punjab Frontier, Mahipal Yadav said.

In retaliatory fire, the BSF personnel killed the five intruders. “The last bullet was shot at 5.30 am following which a search operation was launched,” said Yadav. During the search operation, five bodies were recovered along with around 10 kg heroin, one AK-47 rifle, two magazines and 27 live rounds, four Beretta 9mm pistols with seven magazines and 109 live rounds, two mobile phones and 610 Pakistani rupees in cash, he added.

The Punjab border with Pakistan is the most vulnerable to drug smuggling as the BSF has seized almost 360 kg of heroin this year till August 22.

Sources revealed that BSF would hold a flag meeting with Pakistan Rangers to hand over a protest note over the infiltration bid. The BSF has shot dead a total of 15 Pakistani nationals at the border in Punjab this year.

Pakistan imposes sanctions on Dawood, Hafiz, Azhar, Lakhvi...

In an apparent attempt to avoid blacklisting by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, Pakistan has issued a fresh notification proscribing 88 chiefs and members of terrorist groups, including 1993 Mumbai blasts mastermind Dawood Ibrahim and LeT commander and key 26/11 accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, in compliance with the new list issued by the United Nations Security Council recently.

Significantly, the 2020 statutory notification, issued on August 18, mentions Dawood’s ‘White House’ address in Karachi, in what Indian officials see as the first acknowledgement by Islamabad that the underworld don is in Pakistan. While copies of similar notifications in 2015 and 2019 also mentioned Dawood’s same address, Indian government sources said these statutory resolutions “appeared to be back-dated”.

However, Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs later said that the statutory regulatory orders reflect the current status of the UN Taliban and ISIL (Da’esh) and AQ Sanctions list and are a “routine matter”. It also said the individuals concerned are not named by its national counter-terrorism authority and reports about Pakistan imposing new sanctions measures are “incorrect”.

Looking to downplay the impression that Dawood’s addresses are acceptance of his presence in Pakistan, the statement from Islamabad said, “as to Pakistan admitting to the presence of certain listed individuals on its territory, based on the information contained in the SRO, is baseless and misleading”.

Indian officials, however, felt the mention of Dawood’s addresses is not completely inconsequential even if Pakistan will need to take concrete action. “The fresh notification is of little relevance, in the absence of real action against cross border terrorism, except for the fact they have accepted for the first time Dawood’s base in Karachi,” said a source. The UN listing of Dawood also mentions the same address. India is now expected to press on Dawood’s inclusion in the SRO to demand that he be named under Pakistan’s anti-terror act as “individual terrorist” along with Lakhvi.

A source in India said Lakhvi and Dawood had never been mentioned by Pakistan in any official document till the 2020 statutory resolution. The action, under pressure of the US and FATF, needs to be followed by prosecution and verifiable measures to restrict funding, said Indian sources, pointing out that terrorists like Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed have been placed under porous house detention that has not prevented them from planning and carrying out attacks in India and elsewhere.

A ₹65000 cr plan to link up 200 economic zones

The government has prepared a plan to invest nearly Rs.65,000 crore in more than 200 economic zones in the next five years, according to the proposal made under the National Master Plan for providing multi-modal connectivity to various economic zones.

The road, railways, shipping and civil aviation ministries have prepared a detailed connectivity roadmap for these economic zones like food and agro zones, fishing and defence clusters, electronic, textile and pharmaceutical parks. PM Narendra Modi took a review meeting on the preparation of the Master Plan on Monday. The plan aims to ensure that all missing gaps are removed for seamless movement of people, goods and services within a given time frame so far as connectivity is concerned.


Somewhere in Mumbai...

There was no sign of social distancing as people thronged Dadar market on Friday, ahead of the festive season.

Nine workers killed in fire at Telangana hydel plant

Nine employees, including seven from the Telangana State Power Generation Corporation and two private service providers, were killed and eight others sustained injuries after a major fire broke out in the Srisailam Left Bank Hydel Power Station late on Thursday night.

Prima facie, three people died of burns while the others choked to death, authorities said.

As thick smoke hampered relief operations, it took firefighters and rescue teams over 15 hours to retrieve the bodies from the plant.

According to TSGenco, there were 17 employees, five of them engineers, in the under-tunnel hydroelectric plant at the time of mishap.

“Eight of them managed to come out with just injuries, nine others remained inside to douse the fire and prevent it from spreading further”, a Genco statement said.

“All of them managed to reach the escape tunnel, but they did not succeed due to thick plumes of smoke,” the statement added.

The deceased were identified as deputy engineer Srinivas Goud, assistant engineers Sundar, Venkat Rao, Mohan Kumar and Uzma Fathima, plant attendant Rambabu and junior attendant Kiran. Vinesh Kumar and Mahesh Kumar were employees of Amaron Batteries, Hyderabad. They were assisting the TSGenco team in running the plant.

Short circuit in one of the electric panels is suspected to have caused the tragedy.

According to TSGenco authorities, the power plant is located about 1.2 km inside a tunnel and the only way to reach the plant was through it.

The plant is situated on the Telangana side of the Srisailam reservoir on Krishna river, a joint irrigation project between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The power house was constructed inside the two-km long tunnel under the Nallamala hill range adjacent to the reservoir.

Telangana power minister G Jagadishwar Reddy, agriculture minister S Niranjan Reddy, TSGenco chairman and managing director Devulapalli Prabhakar Rao camped at the plant supervising the rescue operations.

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has ordered a Crime Investigation Department probe into the incident. CID Additional Director General Govind Singh has been asked to lead the inquiry.

The state government has announced Rs 50 lakh ex gratia to the next kin of divisional engineer  Srinivas and Rs.25 lakh to the bereaved families of the other eight employees. The government has also announced job for one member from each of the nine families.


Bharti Plans High-speed Internet via OneWeb

Bharti Group expects to launch high-speed satellite internet services in India by early 2022 using the OneWeb satellite constellation and has sought help from India’s space agency to build affordable access terminals for deployment across the country, chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

“OneWeb will be the world’s first low earth orbit constellation flying about 648 satellites at 1,200 kms, covering every inch of the globe,” Mittal said during a webinar on ‘Unlocking India’s potential in the Space sector’.

“It is our deep desire along with support and cooperation from Indian Space Research Organisation, we get our landing rights, putting up ground stations across the country and start delivering the services by early 2022, once the constellation is complete,” he added.

In July, Bharti, which owns India’s second largest mobile operator, joined hands with the UK government to acquire OneWeb, a satellite company backed by Japan’s SoftBank that had gone bankrupt earlier this year. The Bharti-led consortium will capitalise and operationalise the firm to offer internet services across the world.

OneWeb expects to do its first trials later next year in Europe, Mittal said.

Fibre connectivity or terrestrial radio connectivity to some parts of India are particularly challenging, especially in parts of Andaman & Nicobar islands, deserts of Rajasthan and forests in Madhya Pradesh. Satellite connectivity could, therefore, be helpful in delivering broadband internet access, he said.

UP inks pact with Israel for water project in Bundelkhand

The Uttar Pradesh government signed an agreement with Israel to implement the latter’s model for water management in the water-deficient region of Bundelkhand through a joint project.

The India-Israel Bundelkhand water project will focus on integrated drip irrigation, reclamation of reservoirs, augmentation of aquifer recharge, rainwater harvesting and advanced agriculture solutions. “This is example of the multifaceted partnership between Israel and India. Israel is keen to share its most advanced, innovative, and cutting-edge water technologies with the government of Uttar Pradesh. Water security is the top priority in our strategic water partnership with India,” said Ron Malka, ambassador of Israel in India, on the occasion.

Calling it a flagship project in the ongoing cooperation between the two countries, the Israeli embassy, in a statement, said the agreement opened “a new chapter allowing the countries to leverage our strategic cooperation in the field of water”. It flagged signing of two water agreements by two countries during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017.

Indore tops cleanliness ranking for 4th time

Indore retained the title of cleanest city for the fourth time in a row while Surat jumped to second position in this year’s swachhta ranking from 14th place in 2019 among cities with more than one lakh population. Navi Mumbai improved its position this year to become the third cleanest from last year’s seventh.

New Delhi slipped to the eighth position this year compared to fifth rank last year. It has been ranked as the country’s cleanest capital.

Two cities each from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra made it to the top 10 cleanest cities in this million plus population category.

Among cities with less than one lakh population, Karad in Maharashtra held its position as the cleanest city. As many as nine out of the top 10 cities and towns in this category were from Maharashtra.

Congratulating the top ranked cities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “May other cities also be inspired to further ramp up their efforts towards ensuring cleanliness. Such competitive spirit strengthens the Swachh Bharat Mission and benefits millions.”

The results were announced by housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri. This is the fifth edition of the annual cleanliness survey, which covered areas under 4,242 urban local bodies in a record 28 days. PM’s constituency, Varanasi was declared as the cleanest Ganga city in this year’s survey.

This year the survey has also evaluated cities in two other categories; cities with more than 10 lakh population and those with one lakh to 10 lakh population. Responding to a question about the sub-categorisation, housing and urban affairs secretary Durga Shankar Mishra said bigger cities argued that they have to face more complex challenges and the below 1 lakh and above 1 lakh categories need to be revisited.

In the more than 10 lakh population category, the top 10 cities are Indore, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Vijaywada, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Vishakhapatnam and Vadodara. In the sub category of cities with 1-10 lakh population, Ambikapur has topped the list followed by Mysuru, NDMC, Chandrapur, Khargone, Tirupati, Jamshedpur, Gandhinagar, Dhule and Rajnandgaon.

For the past two years, the ministry has discontinued the practice of putting out the entire list of cities and their ranking. “The main objective of this Swachh Survekshan is to encourage urban local bodies and their leadership to make them clean. Why should we demotivate people?” Mishra reasoned.

MMR: Final green nod for third Vashi bridge expansion

The final hurdle for the construction of the third Thane creek bridge, that has been pending for almost a year, has been cleared. The state revenue department on Monday, issued the order to the suburban collector (Bandra) to hand over the compensatory land to the forest department in lieu of the mangrove land.

Around 1.4 hectare (ha) of land (a little less than the size of Kamala Nehru Park in Mumbai) needs to be handed over to the forest department in Erangal village in Borivli creek for mangrove plantation tin order to compensate for an equivalent patch of mangrove land that will be cleared to make way for the expansion work.

TCB III project, alternately described as Vashi bridge lane expansion, once completed, will ease road traffic for the upcoming Navi Mumbai international airport, Pune Expressway augmentation work that is also underway besides inter-city and intra-city commute.

MSRDC is executing the Rs.775 crore mega project that will have equity participation of Rs.400 crore ; Rs.200 crore by Cidco, Rs.200 crore by MSRDC and the rest by borrowings. The scheduled time for completion is three years from the date of the work order. MSRDC will give the order to L&T and work may start from October 1.


M&M Reboots SUV Strategy

A massively refined Mahindra & Mahindra Thar 2020, unveiled against the backdrop of the bewitching Western Ghats on a rain swept I-Day, seemed to make a statement in course correction at India’s traditional SUV maker. M&M might be sitting on its lowest UV market share in a decade due to mounting competition that has blurred segment boundaries, but moving the needle on that metric alone wouldn’t be the company’s prime objective.

Instead, the company’s new SUV strategy is geared toward generating financial returns and giving differentiated models that the urban youth would buy.

So, it is now going slow on the market-share rat race that may involve M&M’s Japanese, Koreans and Chinese rivals rolling out a couple of dozen SUVs – but largely soft-roader crossovers. In a market where everything that seems tall and offers a high seating position is called an SUV, the new Mahindra management plans to stick to its core competence – of making rugged, true-blue, all-terrain SUVs.

In one sentence, therefore, M&M is trying to reposition itself as the Jeep or Land Rover of India.

A portfolio curated with the help of iconic design house Pininfarina, with 4X4 capability and automatic transmission on launch, with feature levels to stand out.

Rajesh Jejurikar is the man in charge of M&M’s auto and farm equipment business, and he is defining a ‘new narrative for the automotive sector’.

“The call is to not blindly chase market share. Going after market share and into segments where we don’t have the best competitive advantage won’t help,” Jejurikar said. “They say often a good strategy is also about choosing what not to do. We want to have a distinctive and sharp positioning and want to get people to move along that path. We want to be innovators rather than followers.

We created Scorpio, XUV 500 — we were the creators of the segment, we made people move in that new direction.”

The new-gen Thar underlined how its is designed and developed in India to take on new rivals from South Asia and Europe.


Reliance Retail Acquires Majority Stake in Netmeds’ Parent

Reliance Industries said that its subsidiary Reliance Retail Ventures has acquired a majority equity stake in Netmeds’ parent Vitalic for approximately ₹620 crore giving the Mukesh Ambani-led group a 60% stake in the Chennai-based company. In a late evening filing, RIL said that it will also get a 100% direct equity ownership of Netmeds’ subsidiaries, Tresara Health, Netmeds Market Place and Dadha Pharma Distribution.

Meanwhile, online medical store PharmEasy has agreed to merge with smaller rival Medlife, filings with India’s antitrust body show. The move heralds the first big consolidation play in a sector that has seen heightened competition and entry of deep pocketed players like Reliance Industries and Amazon.

Medlife will sell 100% shares to API Holdings, the parent entity of PharmEasy, in return for 19.59% ownership in the combined entity, according to the filing with the Competition Commission of India.  Both firms have formally requested CCI to approve the proposed merger.

Sources in the know of the deal details pegged the valuation of the combined entity at $1.2 billion, which values the stake of Medlife shareholders at around $235 million. PharmEasy was valued at around $700 million when it closed a $220 million funding round led by Singapore’s Temasek in November. It is as yet unclear if the transaction is a purely stock-swap deal. 

Mumbai-based PharmEasy — backed by Temasek, CDPQ and Orios Venture Partners — is looking to line up financial investors, including US private equity firm TPG — which has a strong healthcare focused portfolio, to invest in the combined entity.

“The proposed combination relates to the acquisition of 100% equity shares of Medlife by API Holdings, and as consideration, the acquisition of up to 19.59% of the equity share capital of API Holdings (on a fully diluted basis), by the Medlife Promoter Shareholders and other shareholders of Medlife,” the filing read.

Medlife was founded by Tushar Kumar, son of Alkem Laboratories owners Prabhat Narain Singh and Prashant Singh, Ananth Narayanan, who was appointed Medlife CEO in August last year, will stay on as an advisor for some time even after the deal is closed, sources added.

ADB Approves $1b Loan for Delhi-Meerut Rapid Transit

The Asian Development Bank has approved a loan of $1 billion to support construction of the Delhi–Meerut regional rapid transit system, first of the three priority rail corridors in the integrated transport network under NCR Regional Plan 2021.

Financing for the project will be implemented in four tranches starting this month and ending in May 2025, the multilateral development bank said in a statement on Tuesday. The central government will provide $1.89 billion for the $3.94-billion project while co-financiers are expected to provide about $1 billion, ADB said.

Besides this, ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will provide a grant of $3 million to support various social health service activities in the country, including provision of visual, hearing and mobility aids, such as wheelchairs for differently abled persons.

The 82-kilometer Delhi–Meerut regional rapid transit system project, being implemented by NCR Transport Corporation under the housing and urban affairs ministry, involves construction of railway tracks, station buildings, maintenance facilities, and traction and power supply. RRTS has a design speed of 180 km per hour and maximum operation speed of 160 kmph.

Indiabulls Real Estate, Embassy Ink Merger Pact

Indiabulls Real Estate and two subsidiaries of Embassy Group have entered into a definitive agreement to merge their residential and commercial projects across markets to create one of the largest property development platforms in the country.

The combined entity will hold both the developers’ ongoing, completed, but unsold and planned projects, with 80.8 million sq ft of development potential. This exercise will mark Indiabulls Group’s exit from real estate business.

As an existing investor in both the companies, certain entities controlled by Blackstone Group have also submitted a non-binding letter of intent for participation in this amalgamation. The proposed merger will be achieved through a cashless structure as Embassy subsidiaries — NAM Estates and Embassy One Commercial Property Developments  — will swap shares with Indiabulls Real Estate.

As per the terms approved by boards of both merging entities, Indiabulls Real Estate shares are valued at ₹92.5 per share, a 25.7% premium to Tuesday’s closing price. Shareholders of Embassy subsidiary NAM will get 6.619 shares of Indiabulls Real Estate for every 10 shares of NAM, while NAM Opco shareholders will get 5.406 shares of Indiabulls Real Estate for every 10 shares in NAM Opco.

“This integration provides scale to our two organisations and allows the stakeholders to capitalise on the opportunity created by the market consolidation and dislocations. The transaction also offers growth to the listed entity by combining a portfolio of well-located commercial projects across Mumbai, NCR and Bangalore, which has seen the largest absorption in office space over the past five years,” said Jitendra Virwani, chairman, Embassy Group.

La Nina Alert Issued, Could Spell More Rains

Global weather forecasters have issued a La Nina alert, signalling high probability of the rain-boosting phenomenon, which should further increase monsoon rainfall and boost the rural economy with a record harvest.

Chances of La Nina, which is associated with cooling of the Pacific Ocean waters, have increased to 70% from 50%, the widely respected Australian weather office said in its latest update on the phenomenon.

The phenomenon is associated with cooling of waters in the equatorial Pacific region and strengthening of trade winds. La Nina has been developing in recent weeks but its probability was not considered high until now. “La Nina alert indicates chance of La Nina forming in 2020 is around 70% — roughly three times the average likelihood,” Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said in its fortnightly bulletin.

The national weather office expects the phenomenon to affect the entire country and cause post-monsoon showers as well. "A weak La Nina seems likely in late September, and we might see its effects even after the monsoon has concluded," DS Pai, head of longrange forecasting at the India Meteorological Department said.

Priyanka for non-Gandhi Congress chief

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has said a non-Gandhi should become the party chief as sought by Rahul Gandhi after he quit the post following the Lok Sabha poll debacle in May 2019.

“Perhaps not in the (resignation) letter, but elsewhere he has said that none of us should be the party chief, and I am in full agreement with him,” Priyanka said, adding, “I think the party should also find its own path.” On the Congress losing the battle of perception against the BJP, she said the party was slow to understand the “new media” and by the time it thought of putting out its point of view, the damage had been done. 

Priyanka also said that she would follow the instructions of a non-Gandhi “boss”, whether she gets the organisational charge of Uttar Pradesh or Andaman and Nicobar. The comments are part of an interview published in a book on next generation leaders of India, excerpted by The Print.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been quoted as saying that after the BJP levelled allegations of corruption against her husband Robert Vadra, she clarified everything to her son and daughter. “After all the allegations were made about my husband, my first reaction was to pay a visit to my 13-year-old son and to show him every single transaction… I explained this to my daughter as well. I don’t hide things from my children, even the mistakes I make or the weaknesses I have. I am very open with them,” she said. The Congress leader said ED interrogations of her husband and TV debates on the matter affected their children.

Priyanka said it was witnessing the “destruction of everything that our freedom fighters fought for and built” that pushed her to finally join politics. She has also said that she is “very anti-legacy”.

“I think kids should not have a legacy. We should not leave them with a legacy of good or bad. They should be free. Therefore, I frankly need not be remembered.”


Pandit Jasraj : 28 January 1930 - 17 August 2020

Pandit Jasraj, who passed away on Monday after a cardiac arrest, probably did more than any other musician in recent times to broaden the appeal of Hindustani classical vocal music without compromising on the genre’s core principles.

His star power came from his silken voice and emotion-laden renditions. But his towering influence also stemmed from his dedication as a guru, encouragement to fellow musicians and young students, optimism about the future of classical music and broad mindedness. He was like a force of nature, singing till his very last breath.

He was in New Jersey, in the US, when he died, a little after 5 am, surrounded by a few students. For several years, he had spent six months of the year in the US, teaching students at the more than half a dozen schools he ran. He was 90, and even at that age adapted to new technology, teaching over Zoom and giving at least three online concerts since March. “He was doing what he loved till the very end,” said Durga Jasraj, his daughter.

His voice immediately melted hearts. He had a huge repertoire, and his renditions of raags, whether well-known ones like Bihag and Darbari or more esoteric ones such as Nagdhwani and Nat Narayani, had so much emotive appeal that they could sweep lay listeners off their feet. An example of his immense ability to marry grammar with sentiment are his renditions of the composition Mata Kalika in Raag Adana, whose lyrics were composed by the Maharana Jaywant Singh Waghela of the Sanand Durbar, where Jasraj was resident as a teenager, and tune set by his elder brother Pandit Maniram.

He learnt vocal music from Maniram, and the tabla from the next eldest brother Pratap Narayan. The story goes that he was accompanying vocalist Kumar Gandharva on the tabla. A few members of the audience took objection to Kumar Gandharva’s idiosyncratic treatment of raag Bhimpalas. When Jasraj rose to his defence, a listener told him he should stick to playing the tabla. Jasraj then vowed he would become a vocalist. Jasraj went on to single handedly establish the Mewati style of singing and popularise it, and also taught a whole generation of students, such as Sanjeev Abhayankar, Rattan Mohan Sharma, Pritam Bhattacharya, Ankita Joshi and Tripti Mukherjee.

Jasraj gave huge importance to the meaning of the words in khayal, something that was considered too literal by some musicians. This made him even more determined to cement his reputation as a khayal artiste, vowing to never present the thumri form in public, although many who have heard him vouch that he was a consummate performer of that form too.

He also pioneered the Jasrangi form, which enabled male and female singers to sing together at their own natural pitches by transposing the male singer’s base ‘sa’ to the female’s ‘ma’. Ashwini Bhide Desphande, a leading Jaipur gharana singer, presented this form with Sanjeev Abhyankar, Jasraj’s student. “I was from a different gharana, but he was so generous to think of including me.”

Such was his influence, that he even had a planet named after him. Perhaps, when we look up in the sky, we will in our mind’s ear be able to conjure up his cosmic voice.

States asked to up green cover for sops

With the 15th Finance Commission raising the weightage of forest cover in determining states’ share in the Union tax revenue from 7.5% to 10%, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar sensitised states about this crucial provision and urged them to work accordingly to get additional incentives by increasing their green cover.

States’ share is arrived at by calculating the share of the dense forest of each state in the aggregate dense forest of all the states – it means states like Arunachal Pradesh, MP, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha will gain more compared to those whose share in total forest cover is less.

The share of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh under this criteria is lower compared to the top five.

Javadekar flagged the Commission’s report for the year 2020-21 during a virtual meeting with states’ forest ministers over six key issues relating to increasing green cover in the country.

Noting a tendency among few states to divert money from compensatory afforestation funds for paying salaries and meeting other unrelated expenses including travelling allowances, the minister appealed to states to stick to the provision of spending 80% of this fund “exclusively for afforestation and plantation”.

The concept of giving forests a weightage in determining states’ share in the Union tax revenue was introduced by the 14th Finance Commission.

Kashmir: 4 security personnel, 3 LeT terrorists killed

Four security personnel — an SPO, two CRPF constables and a soldier — and three Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists were killed in a terror attack in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Monday.

Among the slain ultras was top commander Sajad alias Haider alias Raja, tasked with recruiting Kashmiri youth into militancy, J&K DGP Dilbagh Singh said. A soldier also sustained critical injuries in the firefight.

“Sajad was considered one of the most-wanted terrorist commanders in J&K. He joined the terrorist ranks in the winter of 2016 and operated on the lines of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, luring local youth into terrorism. We have arrested at least 20 such youth who were recruited by Sajad, besides many overground workers,” DGP Singh said at a presser later on Monday. Sajad’s slain aides were identified as Anayatullah from Andergam in Pattan, Baramulla, and Usman from Pakistan.

Around 9.30 am, the Lashkar trio came through the orchards in Kreeri area and targeted a joint team of security personnel manning the checkpost at Tindim, killing SPO Muzaffar Ahmad on the spot and grievously wounding CRPF constables Khurshid Khan and Lavkush Sudarshan Sharma. The terrorists also snatched the weapons of the security personnel before fleeing, IGP (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar said. The injured CRPF men, both from Bihar and serving with the paramilitary force’s 119 Batallion, succumbed on the way to hospital.

“Minutes after the attack, the special operations group of J&K police chased the terrorists and one was injured just at the bund, a few metres away from the attack site. He later managed to sneak into the orchards,” DGP Singh said. “In the meantime, SOG men surrounded the orchards and were later joined by the Army and CRPF. One of the terrorists, who was sitting on a tree, started firing at the forces. He was shot dead first, followed by the injured terrorist,” the DGP added. The security personnel also retrieved the weapons the ultras had stolen, IGP Kumar said.

As the cordon-and-search operation continued, fresh firing started in the orchards of Kreeri in Watergam in the evening after security forces spotted the third ultra and shot him dead. The operation was suspended temporarily as darkness fell, even as one terrorist is still believed to be holed up in the Kreeri orchards, an official said. A soldier was also killed in the firefight while another was critically injured and shifted to Army’s Srinagar 92 Base hospital.


10x more infectious strain of Covid-19 detected in Malaysia

 Malaysian health officials have detected a far more infectious mutation of the coronavirus in the country, The Straits Times reported on Sunday.

The Malaysian Institute for Medical Research discovered the D614G mutation in four cases from two Covid-19 clusters in the country - the Sivagangga cluster and the Ulu Tiram cluster, said health chief Noor Hisham Abdullah in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Abdullah said the discovery of the mutation indicates that people need to be more careful and continue being disciplined in practising safety measures including social distancing, personal hygiene and wearing of masks.

The health official said the strain was found in preliminary tests and that follow-up tests would be conducted on other cases including the index cases of both clusters. “It is found to be 10 times more infectious and is easily spread by an individual ‘super spreader’,” he said, of the mutation.

Abdullah said the D614G mutation was discovered by scientists in July 2020, and could render the existing vaccine research incomplete or ineffective against the new strain.

He, however, stressed that the Malaysian public health authorities had controlled the spread of the virus from the affected clusters.

Malaysia reported 26 new cases on Saturday, taking the total number of infections to 9,175. No new fatalities were reported, keeping the death toll at 125.

India: Covid-19 toll hits 50,000 in 156 days

Fewer patients are dying in India from Covid-19 compared to the rest of the world as the fatality rate continues to decline, touching 1.9% , health ministry said even as deaths due to the disease have crossed 50,000.

“USA crossed 50,000 deaths in 23 days, Brazil in 95 days and Mexico in 141 days. India took 156 days to reach this national figure,” the ministry said, underlining what it said is a sustained focus on effective clinical management of positive cases.

Apart from effective treatment in hospitals, measures like supervised home isolation, use of non-invasive oxygen support and improved services of ambulances for ferrying patients for prompt and timely treatment have helped keep the fatality rate in check, officials said.

“Tireless efforts of ASHA workers have ensured effective surveillance and tracking progress of patients in supervised home isolation. Clinical management skills of doctors treating Covid-19 patients have been upgraded by active technical guidance through tele-consultation sessions by domain knowledge experts from AIIMS, New Delhi,” an official said.

Data from John Hopkins University shows case fatality rate in other countries in cluding Italy (14%), Mexico (10.9%), Iran (5.7%), Indonesia (4.4%) , Brazil (3.2%), US (3.2%) and Chile (2.7%) as much higher than of India. While death rate due to Covid-19 has witnessed a steady decline from 3.3% in mid-June to below 2% in mid- August, the recovery rate is also rising constantly to reach 72% as over 18.6 lakh patients have recovered.

A total of 53,322 patients recuperated and were discharged in a span of 24 hours. “The steady rise in recoveries has ensured that the percentage caseload of the country is reducing,” the ministry said. There are 6,77,444 active cases recorded as of Sunday, accounting for 25.1% of total cases so far.With efficient and aggressive testing, India is rapidly moving towards completing 3 crore tests, according to the ministry. On Sunday, India’s Covid-19 tally increased to 25,89,682 with a single day spike of 63,490 infections.


NITI Aayog recommends major reduction in sugar cultivation

The central government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog has made a series of recommendations to reduce the area under sugar cultivation in the country, one of them being that the Centre should give incentive of Rs.6,000 per hectare to farmers to divert their land to other crops.

The NITI Aayog’s taskforce on agriculture, which made the recommendations, said that the total area under sugar cultivation can be brought down by three lakh hectares over the next three years provided farmers were given cash incentives.

Around 52 lakh hectares of land is currently under sugarcane cultivation in the country.

The taskforce recommended that sugar factories should also be allowed to buy only 85 per cent of sugarcane from farmers to discourage them from bringing more and more area under sugarcane cultivation.

It also said that the central government should stop maintaining buffer stocks of sugar. In 2018, the government announced the buffer stock scheme to stabilise the falling price of sugar due to excessive production.

Under the scheme, 12 per cent of the overall stock is left unsold in factory warehouses, which artificially raises the price of the commodity. The government bears the carrying cost, storage cost and insurance premium on the stock.

Agricultural experts predict there will be an opening stock of 112 lakh tonnes of sugar at the beginning of the crushing season, which begins in October and ends in March. It is expected that the closing stock at the end of the season will be around 93 lakh tonnes.

The sugar industry has opposed NITI Aayog’s recommendations. Prakash Naiknavare, managing director of the National Federation Cooperative Sugar Factories, told Mumbai Mirror: “The sugarcane is the only crop that gives double protection to the farmer. It guarantees him fair remunerative price and also marketing of his product (as factories buy his entire production). So unless the government offers such alternative for other crops, I don’t think farmers will enthusiastically accept its decision.”

One way of reducing production of sugar is to divert more and more sugarcane towards producing ethanol, he said. “The factories will do it happily as they get payment for ethanol from petroleum companies in only 21 days, whereas otherwise they have to hold on to their stocks for minimum seven to eight days before it is sold.”

Maharashtra produces around 33 per cent of sugar in the country. The sugarcane is the most important cash crop in the state with around 30 lakh farmers engaged in sugarcane farming. Out of 33 cabinet ministers in the state, 15 own and control one or more sugar factories in their district, both in private and cooperative sector.

Time India Made for the World: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Independence Day speech that there could be early elections in Jammu & Kashmir. “The delimitation exercise is going on in J&K under a retired chief justice of the Supreme Court. We want early completion of the delimitation exercise so that there are early elections. There should be J&K MLAs. The state should have its own cabinet and chief minister so that it can march towards development with new vigour,” he said from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

He also sent a message to China and Pakistan and brought up the recent clash in Ladakh, stressing that India is fighting both terrorism and expansionism valiantly, and the country was safe, strong and powerful.

Making his resolve of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) the centrepiece of the nearly 90-minute speech, the PM said: “How long will the process of exporting raw material and importing finished goods continue? We will have to be self-reliant.” The need of the hour for India should be to increase its contribution to the world economy and strengthen our own skill development.

Foreign direct investment had broken all previous records last year, he said. “Even during the pandemic, top companies of the world are turning to India. The world didn’t get fascinated with India without a reason. This confidence has grown because of the hard work put in by India in its policies and democracy and to strengthen the foundation of its economy. Today many businesses of the world are viewing India as the hub of the supply chain. So now, we have to move ahead with the mantra of ‘Make for World’ alongside ‘Make in India’.”

He added that the mindset should be “Vocal for Local” and countrymen should take pride in local products.

All six lakh villages would be connected by optical fiber within 1,000 days. The Lakshadweep islands would be connected with an optical fiber cable.

He also referred to the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. “A peaceful culmination has been achieved to the age-old issue of Ram Janmbhoomi. The citizens of India have shown exemplary restraint and wisdom and acted responsibly. It is simply unprecedented and a motivating factor for the future,” Modi added.

PM Announces Health IDs Scheme for All

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled an ambitious National Digital Health Mission under which every Indian will get a health ID that will ease access to medical services. He also said the country has made plans for mass-producing Covid-19 vaccine once scientists give a green signal. In his Independence Day address, the PM said the health ID would store every individual’s medical records. “This will bring a new revolution in India’s health sector and it will help reduce problems in getting treatment with the help of technology,” he said. “Every Indian will be given a health ID, which will work as each Indian’s health account.”

He said this would ease the problems faced by citizens in getting healthcare access.

The health ID will contain information about medical data, prescriptions and diagnostic reports and summaries of previous discharge from hospitals for ailments. Modi said the country has prepared a road map to ensure that a Covid-19 vaccine reached everyone in the shortest possible time. “I want to tell people, the talent of our scientists is like that of rishi munis and they are working very hard in laboratories. Three vaccines are in various stages of testing. When scientists will give us the green signal, it will be produced on a mass scale and all preparations have been made for it,” Modi said. 


Trade : July 2020

The pace of contraction of India’s exports slowed in July even as outbound shipments shrank for the fifth consecutive month and the country’s trade balance posted a deficit after registering a surplus after 18 years in June. Gold imports grew after eight months. The previous growth in gold imports was in November 2019.

Exports contracted 10.21% to $23.64 billion in July while imports fell 28.4% to $28.47 billion. Trade deficit was $4.83 billion compared to a $790 million surplus in June.

Sixteen out of the 30 selected major commodities of export grew last month with certain employment generating sectors including ceramics, jute, cotton yarn and carpets exhibiting growth.

In an encouraging trend, exports excluding petroleum products and gems and jewelry rose in July led by engineering goods, drugs and pharmaceuticals and iron ore, among others. Gems and jewelry exports continued to shrink even though gold imports rose implying that the precious metal is being used for investment purposes amid the ongoing pandemic, instead of re-exports as jewelry.

Nayar added that this trend is likely to strengthen in the coming months, as demand for non-oil non-gold imports starts to normalise, gold imports gather steam around the festive/marriage months, and crude oil demand and prices stabilise at a moderate level.

Among imports, oil and electronics, showed slower declines than last month at 31.9% and 4.3%, respectively while gold imports were up 4.17% on year last month.

FIEO said business/order enquiries are coming from almost all major economies like the US, EU, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand which helped in bringing the exports sector to almost 90% of the level seen in July 2019.

Nayar said domestic demand appears to be emanating from the lockdown-induced torpor.

Non-oil, non-gold imports-an indicator of the strength of domestic demand shrank 29.15% last month. Imports of machinery, transport equipment and machinery continued to shrink.

Total merchandise imports fell by more than 46% to $88.91 billion during April-July while exports were down 30.21% from the year-ago period to $74.96 billion. FIEO has sought a special exports package for reviving India’s foreign trade, and redressal of "risky exporters" issues.

RBI to Pay ₹ 57,000 cr Dividend for FY20


The RBI will pay a dividend of ₹57,128 crore to the government for the year ended June, less than half of what it did last year when it transferred the entire surplus and also a part of its excess capital after a tug-of-war with the State.

The central bank’s board approved retaining at least 5.5% of the capital risk buffer, the lower end of the 5.5-6.5% of the RBI balance sheet recommended by the Bimal Jalan committee.

“The board also approved the transfer of Rs 57,128 crore as surplus to the central government for the accounting year 2019-20, while deciding to maintain the Contingency Risk Buffer at 5.5%,” the RBI said in a statement after its board meeting.

As the RBI shifts its annual accounting year to an April-March cycle to align with that of the government, there is a possibility there could be another transfer during the year as the Centre struggles with stretched finances.

PM Unveils Faceless Appeal, Assessment of Income Tax

Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out a new platform for filing income tax returns to ensure a transparent tax environment by eliminating physical interface between tax authorities and taxpayers.

“Our effort is that our tax system should be seamless, painless and faceless,” Modi said after launching the Transparent Taxation Platform and a taxpayer charter outlining rights and obligations of taxpayers through video conferencing.

The measures include a directive that takes away powers of regular assessing officers to conduct surveys, restricting such powers to only the investigation and tax deducted at source wing, that too only after authorisation from a senior official of director general or principal commissioner rank.

The prime minister urged those who owe taxes to come forward and honestly pay their dues to contribute to nation building, saying only 15 million paying taxes in a population of 1.3 billion was too low. “The new platform, apart from being faceless, is also aimed at boosting the confidence of the taxpayer and making him or her fearless,” he said.

Faceless appeal that allows a taxpayer to contest any tax claim without any personal interaction with authorities—the next step after faceless assessment—will begin from September 25.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “With dynamic jurisdiction and team-based assessment, taxpayers can respond to the scrutiny notice online… Speedy completion of cases is another hallmark of the scheme.”

Notices, if any, will be sent only by the centralised computer system, and taxpayer can respond to them electronically without the requirement of visiting a tax office or meeting any official. Further, most assessment orders will have to be passed by National e-Assessment Centre through the Faceless Assessment Scheme, 2019.

The prime minister said this will end the era of “jaan pehchan” (acquaintance) to get scrutiny or notices settled.

Industry captains and experts welcomed the initiative, saying it will minimise grey areas, eliminate discretion, and promote transparency and certainty. The move will help make India a competitive economy amid a changing global order by improving ease of doing business, while instilling confidence among Indian industry, they said.

As per the Taxpayers’ Charter, taxpayers will have the right to choose their representatives, lodge complaints and seek disposal of issues in a timely manner. In turn, they must maintain accurate records, disclose required information, and pay taxes on time. The charter enumerates rights and obligations of taxpayers.

The CBDT amended the E-assessment Scheme, 2019 for implementing faceless assessments, under which in-charge of the National e-Assessment Centre can refer the case to jurisdictional assessing officer at any stage of assessment, with prior board approval. The in-charge can lay down circumstances where personal hearing will be allowed, which will be notified separately.

The scheme will also include 'best judgment assessments' in cases where the taxpayer is not cooperating with the tax authorities.

Inflation Zooms on Spike in Food Prices

Retail inflation accelerated for the fourth successive month to 6.93% in July, on the back of a further rise for food prices. The reading is well above the 6% outer band of the central bank’s inflation target.

The Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy committee had last week decided to hold key rates, stating that upside risks to food prices remained. The central bank has a 4% consumer inflation rate target with a two-percentage point band on either side.

Retail inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, has been above the 6% mark since April. It was 3.15% in July 2019. The government also revised upward the CPI data for June from 6.09% to 6.23%.

The likelihood that the MPC would persist with a rate pause in its October meeting has climbed sharply and a final rate cut is likely to be deferred to the December or February 2021 meeting.

Led by vegetables, pulses, spices, and meat & fish, food inflation neared the double-digit mark at 9.62% last month. The National Statistical Office also revised the June food inflation figure to 8.72% from 7.87% earlier. Inflation for pulses and products, meat and fish, and vegetables was 15.92%, 18.81% and 11.29%, respectively in July. Rural (7.04%) inflation was higher than urban (6.84%) in the past month.

Higher inflation during the ongoing pandemic is due to supply-side disruptions and not demand led.

Heavy rainfall in many areas may have also contributed to supply disruptions.


Modi is longest serving non-Congress PM

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become the longest serving PM of non-Congress political stock, surpassing the 2,268 days that his BJP senior Atal Bihari Vajpayee had clocked in his three terms combined.

Modi, who is in the second year of his second tenure, now boasts of the fourth longest PM tenure after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, all belonging to Congress.

Vajpayee had three terms as PM — a 16-day tenure from May 16 to June 1 in 1996, followed by a 13-month tenure from 1998-1999 and a full five-year term between 1999-2004.

Nehru, the first PM, remains the longest serving with a 17-year spell spread over three terms. His daughter Indira Gandhi was the second longest serving, holding office for 11 years from 1966 to 1977. She lost in 1977 but regained office in 1980 and held it until 1984. Manmohan Singh was in office for a decade, from 2004 to 2014. Sahasrabuddhe emphasised that Modi’s victories owed themselves largely to his rapport with the masses and said the PM’s popularity continued to rise. Among other non-BJP PMs, Morarji Desai was the third longest serving with an innings of 2 years.

Delhi - Mumbai Expressway

The National Highways Authority of India has proceeded to form a Special Purpose Vehicle Company to finance the construction and operation of the Delhi-Mumbai Greenfield Expressway which is projected to be completed by March 2024.

"The SPV has been registered by the name of DME Development Ltd and will be wholly owned by NHAI. By floating SPV specific to a corridor, NHAI is aiming at diversifying its resource base to develop a sustainable and self-liquidating approach to raise finances," an NHAI official said.

Spanning 1,275 km, it will be an 8-laned expressway with the provision to expand it into 12-lanes in the future. It will be India's longest Greenfield Expressway with a design speed of 120 km/hour. The corridor will be completely access-controlled with a closed tolling.

"It is currently implementing about 28,000 km under Bharatmala Pariyojna Phase-1. Under this, Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is one of the flagship highways corridors," the official said.

A network of 75-way side amenities is also planned on either side of the expressways at an interval of 50 kilometres. The project has a capital cost of ₹82,514 crores which includes land acquisition cost of ₹20,928 crore.

Considering the significance of this project, the authority has decided to invest the full equity and proceed with the development.

SPV shall raise debt on its balance sheet, while NHAI retains the operational control during construction and O&M.

In addition, the toll on the projects housed in SPV shall be collected by NHAI and SPV shall get the annuity payments without any construction and tolling risks. The completion of the Expressway is projected by March 2024.

NHAI is also planning to form similar SPVs for other high-value highway projects. This will further enhance NHAI capabilities to execute large scale infrastructure projects of national importance, the official added.


US: Biden chooses Kamala Harris as White House running mate

In a major breakthrough for Indian-Americans in US politics, Joe Biden has picked Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate to woo the black voters and the influential Indian diaspora who could play a key role in his bid to defeat Donald Trump in the presidential election.

By naming the 55-year-old lawyer and moderate Democratic politician from California as his vice presidential candidate in the November 3 election, Biden made history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris, whose father is from Jamaica and mother an Indian, is currently the Senator from California.

Biden, 77, made the announcement in a text message to his supporters on Tuesday, ending days of suspense.

“Joe Biden here. I’ve chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate. Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump. Add your name to welcome her to the team,” Biden said in his message.

Biden said Harris will be the best partner for him to finally get the country back on track. He described her as “a fearless fighter” and “one of the country's finest public servants”.

Harris later tweeted that Biden “can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals.”

“I’m honoured to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

Harris, based in California, a massive treasure trove of both Democratic votes and Democratic donors. She also emerged as an outspoken voice on race and the need for police reform following the death of George Floyd in May and the subsequent protests it sparked around the country.

Leading Indian-American groups across the US have lauded the selection of Harris, saying it was a moment of pride and celebration for the entire community in America.

An estimated 1.3 million Indian-Americans are expected to vote in the election, including nearly 200,000 in Pennsylvania and 125,000 in Michigan, both must-win battleground states.

In 2016, some 77 per cent of Indian-Americans voted for the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, according to figures released by CRW Strategy, a research firm.

Somewhere in Bengaluru....

Syed Mohammed Haneef, 27, along with eleven of his friends, was at a restaurant in Mattadahalli in Bengaluru’s RT Nagar on Tuesday evening to celebrate a friend’s daughter’s exam results. But evening took a different turn when they started receiving disturbing forwards on WhatsApp regarding clashes in a nearby area.

“Since the spot where the violence had broken out was hardly a kilometre away, we decided to go there and check it out,” said Haneef .

An architectural engineer, Haneef runs a YouTube channel named ‘Meri Awaz Suno’. When Haneef and his friends set out towards the Kaval ByrasaKndra bus stop, he thought he could get some video content for his channel. When the group was just 500 metres away from MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy’s house, they saw three cars torched - one was near the MLA’s house and two other cars were set on fire closer to an Anjaneya (Hanuman) temple near the bus stop.

That’s when he knew that this was bigger than he had imagined. “A few local youths who belonged to a particular community were standing in a group near the gate of the temple. When we asked them why, they said that they were trying to protect the temple from the protesters,” said Haneef.

Haneef and his friends, Mohammed Asif, who runs a flour mill, Noor Mohammed Azam, a farm vehicle driver, Mohammed Khaiser, a cricket player, Nadeem Khan, an interior decorator, Syed Khaja, a carpenter and seven others joined the group of youths and formed a human chain around the temple. They stood there, from 10.45 pm to 12 midnight, when police platoons arrived and asked them to leave as they were clearing the area.

Pune: Knowledge cluster to take up projects on ecology, health in region gets underway

The Pune Knowledge Cluster will embark on several centrally funded projects that will be milestone-based to help mitigate problems in Pune city and the region.

This is among the first city-wide clusters approved on August 5 by the office of the principal scientific advisor to the Union government. Similar clusters for Hyderabad and Jodhpur were approved .

The projects will have a turnaround deadline of three years, but there will be six monthly and yearly reviews to assess their progress. The goal is to connect organisations with a high-level of expertise in diverse domains such as science and technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, in and around Pune.

These include universities and colleges, research laboratories and national and state-level research and development establishments in Pune, and the leading industries based here.

Some areas that several leading institutions in Pune will collaborate on include environment management, health, electric mobility, among others.

Plans are to create a water grid for Pune. Similarly, there are plans to create an epidemiological database of Maharashtra to respond to Covid-19 like pandemic challenges.

“There will be newness in approach and focus,” Ajit Kembhavi, principal investigator of PKC, said. The focus will be on shortand long-term innovative projects, development of policy framework and vision.

“Some projects will be to better reflect the local ecology. For example,Pune has a lot of trees, almost one every person but there is need to improve quality. There is need to focus on native trees,” L S Sashidhara, coprincipal investigator, PKC, said.

IUCAA has been designated to facilitate the project, and the funding will be dealt with by the office of the its director.

E-passports For All Indian Citizens from Next Year

If you apply for a new passport or seek a re-issue in 2021, chances are you could get an e-passport embedded with an electronic microprocessor chip.

After issuing 20,000 official and diplomatic e-passports on a trial basis with such chips, the government has now begun the process for issuance of e-passports for all citizens and is selecting an agency that will set up the IT Infrastructure and solution to implement the big project.

This will make passports difficult to forge and quicker immigration for international passengers. So far, passports issued to citizens are personalised and printed on booklets. The agency will set up a dedicated unit and processes for preparing personalised e-passports to enable issuance of 10,000 to 20,000 per hour and IT systems will be set up in Delhi and Chennai to handle this load.

The National Informatics Centre, which is working in tandem with the Ministry of External Affairs, has issued a Request for Proposal to select an agency to set up an IT Infrastructure and solution for e-personalisation of passports.

So far, e-passports were issued only from CPV Division at MEA headquarters for diplomatic and official passports. Now, all 36 passport offices in India will issue e-passports after the components of the e-passport personalisation system are inducted in the existing passport issuance system at all passport offices. The e-passports will be based on International Civil Aviation Organization standard to ensure interoperability between countries.

“It will require a completely dedicated set-up and processes for e-passport document issuance. The e-passport has international ramifications because of its usage as credible identity document issued by any sovereign country, it is absolutely necessary to keep track of any security and quality issues,” says the RFP. The e-passport system will be incorporated without disturbing existing processes and there will be no significant increase in the time required to issue a passport.

The targeted output is 10,000 e-passports per hour and 50,000 per day, scalable up to 20,000 per hour and one lakh per day.

The IT system to be set up at Data Centres at Delhi and Chennai will handle the load.


SC gives equal inheritance right to daughters from 1956

Putting the last nail on male primacy in division of Hindu ancestral property, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, cleared the legal cobwebs to declare daughters will have inheritance rights equal to those of sons from properties of fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers right from the codification of the law in 1956.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah ironed out the confusion arising from the apex court’s conflicting interpretations of the amended Section 6 of Hindu Succession Act, which came into force on September 9, 2005.

The bench said irrespective of whether the father was alive or not, daughters born before September 9, 2005, too could claim equal right in inheritance.

However, daughters, while claiming co-parcenary rights, won’t be able to question disposal or alienation of ancestral properties by the existing co-parceners prior to December 20, 2004, as provided in the amended Section 6.

The provisions contained in substituted Section 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, confer status of co-parcener (equal rights in inheritance) on the daughter born before or after amendment in the same manner as son with same rights and liabilities. The rights can be claimed by the daughter born earlier with effect from September 9, 2005,” Justice Mishra said in the 121-page judgment.

The court asked other co-parceners in a Hindu joint family not to be alarmed by the judgment. “It is only a case of enlargement of the rights of daughters. The rights of other relatives remain unaffected as prevailed in the proviso to Section 6 as it stood before the amendment,” the Supreme Court said.

Co-parcenary property is one which is inherited by a Hindu from his/her father, grandfather or great-grandfather.

Justice Mishra quoted a common saying noted in a 1996 judgment of the SC to sum up the bench’s view towards daughters, “A son is a son until he gets a wife. A daughter is a daughter throughout her life.”

June 2020: IIP shrinks 16.6%

The country’s industrial output contracted for the fourth successive month in June, led by a decline in manufacturing, mining, electricity and capital goods segments as the coronavirus-induced lockdown continued to take a heavy toll on the crucial sector.

The index of industrial production contracted 16.6% in June, compared with a fall of 33.9% in the previous month and 1.3% expansion in the same month last year. For the April-June period, industrial output contracted 35.9% compared with an expansion of 3% in the year-ago period. The data showed that the pace of contraction has slowed in June compared to May, reflecting the impact of the restart of economic activity across the country as authorities eased lockdown measures.

The NSO reiterated that it may not be appropriate to compare the IIP in the postpandemic months with the IIP for months preceding Covid-19. The manufacturing sector contracted 17.1% during the month compared with an expansion of 0.3% in June 2019. The mining sector fell 19.8%, while the electricity sector contracted 10%.

The capital goods sector, which is a key gauge of industrial activity, contracted 36.9% in June compared with a decline of 6.9% in June 2019. The consumer durables sector continued to be under pressure, declining 35.5% during the month compared with the contraction of 10.2% during the same month last year. The only bright spot in the data was the consumer non-durables sector, which grew 14% during June 2020 compared to an expansion of 7% in June 2019. The consumer non-durables sector includes items of daily use such as edible oils, milk, toothpaste, rice and biscuits.

A majority of economists and the RBI expect the economy to contract in the current fiscal, while the finance ministry has indicated that the impact of the lockdown may not be as sharp as estimated as green shoots of recovery were visible in some of the key sectors. Economists said they expect the industrial sector to remain in the negative zone but the pace of contraction is likely to moderate.


Rajnath Singh announces import ban on 101 defence items

The defence ministry has decided to put 101 items on embargo to boost indigenisation of defence production.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh said that India is now ready for the big push to the atma nirbhar or self-dependent initiative announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The defence ministry has decided to put 101 items put on embargo to boost indigenisation of defence production.

Here is the list of the items that have been put under embargo by the defence ministry:

1. 120mm Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS) Mark II Ammunition

2. 7.62x51 Sniper Rifle

3. Tracked Self Propelled ) Gun (155 mm x 52 Cal)

4. Towed Artillery Gun (155 mm x 52 Cal)

5. Short Range Surface to Air Missiles (Land variant)

6. Shipborne Cruise Missiles

7. Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher (Pinaka Variant)

8. Simulators Presenting Smart Ranges And Multi-Function Targets

9. Battalion Support Weapons Simulators

10. Container-based Simulators for Live Fire Training

11. Tailor-made Simulators for Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism based Training

12. Force-on-force Live Tactical Simulators / Infantry Weapon

13. Tank Simulators (driving, as well as, crew gunnery)

14. 155 mm / 39 Cal Ultra-Light Howitzer

15. Successor of Flycatcher &Upgraded Super Fledermaus / Air Defence Fire Control Radar 

16. Component Level Repair Facility for Tank T-90

17. Shipborne Close in Weapon System

18. Bullet Proof Jackets

19. Ballistic Helmets

20. Missile Destroyers

21. Multi-Purpose Vessel

22. Offshore Patrol Vessel

23. Next Generation Missile Vessels

24. Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Crafts

25. Water Jet Fast Attack Craft

26. Ammunition Barges

27. 50 ton Bollard - Pull Tugs

28. Survey Vessels

29. Floating Dock

30. Diving Support Vessels

31. Pollution Control Vessels

32. Anti-Submarine Rocket Launchers

33. Shipborne Medium Range Gun

34. Torpedo Tube Launcher for Light Weight Torpedoes

35. Magneto - Rheological Anti Vibration Mounts

36. All variants of Depth Charges

37. Shipborne Sonar System for Large Ships

38. Hull Mounted Submarine Sonar

39. Short Range Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft

40. Anti-Submarine Rocket

41. Chaff Rockets

42. Chaff Rocket Launcher

43. Integrated Ship’s Bridge System

44. Light Combat Aircraft MK I A - Enhanced Indigenised Content

45. Light Combat Helicopters

46. General Purpose Pre Fragmentation Bombs between 250-500 Kg

47. Radar Warning Receiver for Transport Aircraft

48. Ground Based Mobile ELINT System

49. Transport Aircraft (Light)

50 .GSAT-6 Satellite Terminals

51. Aerial Delivery Systems for Transport Aircraft

52. Digital Tropo Scatter/LOS Communication System

53 .Low Level Transportable Radar

54. High Power Radar

55. CBRN Detection & Monitoring System

56. CBRN Decontamination & Protection System

57. Parachute Tactical Assault- G2

58. Dragunov Upgrade System

59. PKMG Upgrade System

60. Simulators for A Vehicles / B Vehicles

61. Simulators for Towed and Self Propelled Guns of Air Defence

62. Simulators for Correction of Fire by Observers

63. Military trucks of 4x4 and above variants: 12x12, 10x10, 8x8, 6x6

64. Fixed Wing Mini UAVs

65. 500 Ton Self Propelled Water Barges

66. Software Defined Radio (TAC) for IN

67. Next Generation Maritime Mobile Coastal Battery (Long Range)

68. Advance Landing Ground Communication Terminals for AGLs

69. Field Artillery Tractor  6X6 for Medium Guns

70. Wheeled Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV)

71. Light Machine Gun

72. 125 mm Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot New Generation Ammunition

73. Assault Rifle 7.62 x 39 mm

74. 30 mm Ammunition for Infantry Fighting Systems

75. Mine Fragmentation

76. Mine Anti-tank

77. Mine Anti-Personnel Blast

78. Multipurpose Grenade

79. Inertial Navigation System for Ship Application

80. Conventional Submarines

81. 40 mm UBGL (Under Barrel Grenade Launcher)

82. Lightweight Rocket Launcher

83.155 mm Artillery Ammunition

84. EW Systems

85. Material Handling Crane 2.5 to 7.5 Tons (Vehicle Mounted)

86. GRAD BM Rocket

87. 30MM HEI/HET

88. ASTRA-MK I Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile 

89. EW Suit for MI-17 V5

90. Communication Satellite GSAT-7C

91. Satellite GSAT 7R

92. Basic Trainer Aircraft

93. Expendable Aerial Targets

94. Small Jet Engines with 120 kgf thrust

95. Light Low Level Terrain Radar

96. Close in Weapon System (Land based)

97. 23 mm ZU Ammunitions

98. 30mm VOG 17

99. Electronic Fuses for Artillery Ammunitions

100. Bi- Modular Charge System

101. Long Range – Land Attack Cruise Missile