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News: Economic Times - Top Stories

Lok Sabha assent in hand, Modi sarkar races ahead to roll out GST

NEW DELHI: India took a big leap forward in rolling out the goods and services tax (GST), seen as the biggest tax reform since Independence, with the Lower House of Parliament giving its nod to four supplementary Bills. Their passage will allow the government to prepare for the July 1 launch of the single levy that will replace multiple central and state taxes and make the country a seamless national market, boosting India’s growth rate. “Once this tax is implemented, all goods and services will be able to move within the country. There will be a one-tax system throughout the country,” FM Arun Jaitley said, moving the Bills. “It is a revolutionary Bill that will benefit all.” The Lok Sabha passed the Bills late on Wednesday evening after several hours of debate. “A significant step has been taken,” Jaitley said after the Bills were approved. “Parliament has accepted the draft approved by the GST Council as it is. We are seeing history in the making. We are going to see a new system of taxation. We seem to be well within time. I would say this is an important step forward. I am very optimistic of meeting the deadline.” The detailed rules for the single tax and rates of individual goods are to be decided next by the GST Council and the states will take up the state GST Bills in their respective assemblies. Jaitley Defends Multiple Tax Rates Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia called the parliamentary approval a “milestone in the economic history of this country”. The government is simultaneously planning a massive outreach to increase awareness and get stakeholders trained and ready for the tax that, according to some estimates, will lift the country’s GDP by up to 2%. The four items of legislation — central GST, integrated-GST, union territory-GST and the compensation Bill — provide for a peak tax rate of 40% and the establishment of an authority to protect consumers from profiteering by businesses after the tax is in place. The Bills have been introduced as Money Bills, which will ensure a smooth passage through the Rajya Sabha where the ruling coalition does not have the numbers. The Upper House of Parliament has limited powers in respect of Money Bills. The GST Council, the apex body comprising the Centre and the states set up to decide on GST issues, has finalised a four-tier tax structure of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%, but the highest slab has been pegged in the law at 40%. “GST would be a very regressive tax if multiple rates are not there,” Jaitley said, rejecting the criticism that this will complicate matters. “In the beginning, having multiple rates will be easier.” He said it would be regressive to have the same rate on a BMW car and on footwear, for instance. Besides, a cess would be levied on demerit and luxury goods on top of the peak rate to create a fund, the proceeds of which will be utilised to compensate states for revenue losses on account of GST. If the tax rate had been raised to build up the compensation fund instead of the cess, the tax burden would have become very high, Jaitley said. “It is important for the government to ensure that 18% is a general rate and exceptions, particularly those falling under 28% category, are minimised,” said Pratik Jain, indirect tax leader, PwC India, while calling the passage of the Bills a “great achievement” for the government. Jaitley defended the anti-profiteering law, saying any rebates should be passed on to consumers. He said GST on real estate and petroleum goods could be levied once states endorse such a proposal and these would be taken up for discussion later. Jaitley dismissed the suggestion that Parliament has no power in respect of GST. “Rates would come for approval in Parliament or state assemblies,” he said, asserting that there will be parliamentary control. “Plenary power will be with Parliament or assemblies. We will have to be guided by the consideration... of the GST Council... Consequences of not accepting recommendations would be then everyone can decide to fix a separate law or rate,” the minister said, adding that allowing for this would create anarchy with 32 assemblies having separate provisions. GST PREPAREDNESS The government has set up working groups to take up issues faced by various industry sectors to ensure smooth transition to the new regime besides the major countrywide outreach programme mentioned above. The technology backbone is approaching readiness with most state governments leading the registration campaign for bringing industry onto the GST tax portal. The GST Council will meet on March 31 to clear the rules and procedures and subsequently begin work on fitting goods and services in the tax slabs. Much needs to be done between now and July 1. “The rollout of GST within a time span of the next three months seems a Herculean task, keeping in mind the paradigm shift in indirect taxation in India,” said Bipin Sapra, partner, EY. “Thus, both the government and industry have a lot to do and miles to go before the GST can be implemented in right earnest.” The law provides for a composition scheme for turnover below Rs 50 lakh under which manufacturers will be charged 1% CGST and 1% SGST, restaurants -2.5% CGST and 2.5% SGST and other supplies -0.5% CGST and 0.5% SGST. This has been brought in to reduce the compliance burden for small and medium enterprises. It has provisions for the levy of GST on specified petroleum products (petroleum crude, petrol, high-speed diesel, aviation turbine fuel and natural gas) from a date to be notified by the government on the council’s recommendation. The I-GST Bill provides for the levy of tax on all inter-state supplies of goods and services except supply of alcohol for beverages at a rate to be notified not exceeding 40%. The tax collected will be apportioned equally between the Centre and the states. It will not apply to Jammu and Kashmir. The GST Council, chaired by Jaitley, approved the four legislations over a series of 12 meetings.
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Samsung launches Galaxy S8, S8 Plus with voice-assistant, edge-to-edge display

NEW DELHI: Samsung launched its much awaited flagship smartphone Galaxy S8 and S8+ Wednesday night India time, with a host of features including a context reading virtual assistant Bixby and a health assist service only in the US. While the phones will be on retail shelves globally from April 21, the company has not announced the prices or availability for all markets.Market sources in India however reveal that the Galaxy S8 may be available for Indian consumers by April end, and may be priced between Rs 50,000 and Rs 60,000. Samsung India did not comment on locally specific details.The Galaxy S8 comes more than six months after the launch of the Galaxy Note 7, which had to be globally recalled due to faulty battery issues, costing the company billions of dollars in direct losses. The new launch provides a much needed vigor for the company's sales that had vaccum of a flagship during this time, even when it diverted all sales and marketing activities to the predecessor, Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge."The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are our testament to regaining your trust by redefining what's possible in safety and marks a new milestone in Samsung's smartphone legacy," Samsung's President of Mobile Communications business DJ Koh said.Koh pegged Bixby as a better proposition compared with Siri, Google Assistant and others like Cortana from Microsoft, as it could read context of what the user wants to do and could move seamlessly between voice and touch.The world's biggest smartphone maker Samsung said the new phone will feature finger scanner, iris scanner, facial recognition technologies, besides a curved screen that provides edge-to-edge display which it calls infinity display.The S8 will have a 5.8 inch display with no physical phone button, rather an invisible home button, while the S8+ will have a 6.2 inch screen. Both models, available in five colours, are water, dust-resistant and support wireless charging.The phone will be powered with a 10nm processor from Qualcomm, which would be 10% faster than the Galaxy S7 and the GPU is 21% faster.The company has boosted the front camera with 8 megapixels lens, while the rear one stays at 12 megapixels. Samsung will include premium earbuds from AKG that will cost $99 when purchased separately.
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Election promise to farmers in UP comes back to haunt PM Narendra Modi 

by Bibhudatta Pradhan and Pratik Parija An election promise to farmers in the politically sensitive state of Uttar Pradesh is coming back to haunt Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as other states demand the federal government offer an agriculture bailout package across the country. During the hard-fought election campaign, Modi pledged that if his party was voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, it would write off loans of farmers. Earlier this month, the Bharatiya Janata Party formed government after securing a significant majority in the state. In Bajherakhurd village in Uttar Pradesh, Kumarpal Singh is eagerly awaiting the announcement that will result in part of his current Rs 640,000 loan ($9,772) being waived. He received a bailout of Rs 10,000 in 1990. “It will give me some relief from the loan burden -- otherwise I will sell part of my land,” said Singh, 67, describing how it is tough for him to pay off the loan due to crop damage and poor prices for his rice and wheat. “We farmers are in a dying state.” Singh paid a 10 per cent cut to a middleman to facilitate the crop loan, which attracts an annual interest rate of 7 per cent. Even though the loan agreement says he has to spend the money for agriculture purposes, he spent most of the money on his daughter’s marriage. With his farm income reduced, he is now in a debt trap. Controversial Tool The farm loan waiver is one of India’s most popular, often-used political tools. In 2009, it helped to return to power Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led government, which offered borrowers a bailout program in which 37 million farmers benefited from waivers of Rs 522 billion. In 1990, the government of Prime Minister VP Singh also offered an agricultural debt relief program of up to Rs 10,000 for each borrower. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, two separate regional parties came to power in 2014 on the promise of a loan waiver. But the figures don’t add up. Farm waivers increase the budget deficits of federal and state governments and escalate inflation. When he was Reserve Bank of India governor in 2014, Raghuram Rajan said such programs ultimately constrained credit flow to farmers. The waivers also disrupt credit discipline among borrowers, Arundhati Bhattacharya, chief of State Bank of India, said this month. “It’s an atonement at one end of the failure of the past policies, and an appeasement on the other,” said Ashok Gulati, a professor with the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, in New Delhi, arguing loan waivers are not a solution to farmers’ distress. India’s agriculture sector needs significant reforms, including land leasing, streamlining the incentive structure to promote private sector investment as well as policy changes for essential commodities and markets, he said. “You need to have political will to carry out this agenda,” said Gulati. Needy Farmers Neglected While high levels of household debts have been recognized as a significant cause of farmers’ distress, the use of unconditional debt relief to improve living conditions, crop productivity and to reduce suicides is controversial. About 52 percent of India’s 90 million agricultural households are indebted. According to the latest government data, 43.8 percent of the 18 million farm households in Uttar Pradesh had outstanding loans in the agricultural year that ended June 2013, with an average loan of about 27,300 rupees. The debt relief program also fails to provide assistance to landless farm workers who don’t have access to bank loans and some small farmers that depend on money lenders. The chief auditor in its 2013 report on the 2008 loan waiver program found cases in which deserving small farmers were left out while ineligible farmers were favored. The write off also took its toll on banks as the non-performing assets of commercial banks rose three-fold in nominal terms in the four years to March 2013, according to a 2015 report from ICRIER. Agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan said loan waivers should be used only when farmers have no other way of getting credit for their next crop. “Farm debt waiver is not a permanent solution to farmers’ problems,” said Swaminathan, the architect of India’s green revolution in the 1960s. “When farmers find it difficult to get credit following the failure of the previous crop, the debt waiver will be useful to get them launched in agriculture again.” Targeted Assistance Not all farmers are keen for a debt bailout. Mahendra Swarup Tyagi, 75, wonders how a one-time loan waiver will end his misery, as he is forced to sell his potatoes at just four rupees a kilogram, less than it costs him to grow his crop. “We want the right price for our produce,” said Tyagi, who has a loan of 150,000 rupees. “If the government wants to help farmers, it should give us more assistance on electricity, diesel, fertilizer and seed.” Outstanding countrywide agricultural loans as of Sept. 30 were at 12.6 trillion rupees, as farmers struggle with a decrease in land holdings, deteriorating soil quality, high input costs and low prices for their produce. “Farmers are virtually on their death bed, so some booster dose will be helpful, but I don’t know for how long the farmers will be kept alive,” said P. Chengal Reddy, chief adviser to the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, arguing the need for a loan waiver. “If BJP wants to retain power the first thing they have to do is to appease the farmers. Pleasing farmers through a loan waiver is a very big political advantage.” In Uttar Pradesh, the government will lose 274 billion rupees or 8 percent of its total revenue when the loan waiver is implemented for small and marginal farmers, according to a March 20 State Bank of India research paper, which notes the total outstanding credit for the state’s agricultural sector is around 862 billion rupees. “This will definitely cause some amount of stress for the state’s fiscal arithmetic in the coming year,” it said. Several states had requested farm loan waivers, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told parliament last week, adding the federal government won’t adopt a selective approach to any particular state bearing the debt burden. The chief ministers of Punjab and Maharashtra have issued a public plea for farm loan waivers for their states, however the government has not indicated whether it will consider a nationwide waiver program. At Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, an 18th-century observatory and traditional rallying point, more than 30 farmers from southern state of Tamil Nadu staged a protest last week holding the skulls of farmers who had committed suicides in their region. They were demanding farm loan waivers, saying they are not in a situation to repay their debts because of severe droughts. “We’ve come all the way from Tamil Nadu to protest against this government’s indifferent attitude towards farmers,” said A. John Mekioraj, 51, farmer from Nagar village in Tiruchirappalli. “The bank tells me they will auction my property -- I want justice from the government.”
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Direct recruitment in government jobs dips by 89%

There has been a decline of 89 per cent in the direct recruitment in central government ministries and departments in 2015 as compared to 2013, data presented in Lok Sabha shows. Minister of State for personnel, public grievances and pensions Jitendra Singh presented the data about recruitment in central government jobs in two separate responses. The data presented in the House shows that the total appointments made through direct recruitment by central government ministries and departments have plummeted to 15,877 in 2015 which is a decline of 89 per cent from 1,51,841 in the year 2013. In 2014, the figure was 1,26,261. There has also been a 90 per cent decline in the direct recruitment of reserved category candidates in the central government jobs in the year 2015 as compared to 2013, it says. The data provided for 74 ministries shows that 92,928 candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes were appointed through direct recruitment in the year 2013. In 2014, the numbers declined to 72,077 (69 ministries) which plummeted to only 8,436 (50 ministries) in the year 2015 which is a sharp decline of 90 per cent as compared to 2013, the government data shows. In a separate response, the minister said 31 per cent of 92,589 vacancies, which is 28,713, for reserved categories remained unfulfilled as of December 31, 2016. He said 20,975 vacancies for Scheduled Castes, 15,874 vacancies for Scheduled Tribes and 20,027 vacancies for Other Backward Classes have been filled up during the period April 1, 2012 to December 31, 2016. "As per information provided by 10 major ministries and departments including Public Sector Banks/Financial Institutions, Central Public Sector Undertakings etc 28,713 vacancies remained unfilled as on December 31, 2016, which comes to about 31 per cent of 92,589 backlog vacancies, reserved for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes," Singh said. He said that these 10 ministries and departments have been requested to take expeditious action with regard to the unfilled reserved backlog vacancies. On the recruitment of minority community in central government jobs, he said according to the data received from 79 ministries and departments for the year 2014-15, 18,822 employees (8.56 per cent) were recruited from minority communities in Government services and PSUs. The data, from 44 ministries and departments for the year 2015-16, shows the recruitment from minority community dipped to 2,851 employees (7.5 per cent). "The posts sanctioned in Government ministries and departments are required to be filled as per the recruitment rules as and when vacancies arise," he said. The minister said that filling up of posts is a continuous process depending on the vacancies arising across ministries and departments during the years and action calenders of the recruitment agencies. He said that in this regard all ministries and departments have been requested to take advance action for reporting vacancy position with respect to direct recruitment posts to recruitment agencies such as Union Public Service Commission and Staff Selection Commission etc. Singh said ministries and departments have also been requested for timely convening of the departmental promotion committee meeting for filling up of promotional posts. On the issue of vacancies for reserved category, the Minister said, "The Government had constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of the then Secretary, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment to make an analysis of the reasons for non-filling up of reserved vacancies and to suggest remedial measures." He said various ministries and departments have constituted in-house committee and initiated action for filling up of reserved vacancies. "Department of Personnel and Training monitors the progress in filling up of reserved category vacancies for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes with 10 Ministries and Departments having majority of the employees in Central Government. Six meetings were held in this regard," he said.
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Housing.com launches new platform for real estate developers

NEW DELHI: Realty portal Housing.com today said it has introduced a new platform to help real estate developers and brokers manage their prospective buyers and business.The new platform 'Housing Partner' is a web-based dashboard that will help property sellers to monitor and manage leads in an effective manner, all within a single and convenient interface, Housing.com said in a statement.In January, Housing.com merged with The News Corp-backed realty portal PropTiger.com.The latest technology-powered product is aligned with its objective of becoming a preferred digital platform for all stakeholders within the real estate ecosystem, it said.Through this product, developers would be able to enhance productivity by being able to view leads, purchase qualified leads and accordingly customise their offerings."Technology has always been in the DNA of all products offered by Housing.com and with 'Housing Partner', we have once again redefined the role of technology within the real estate industry," said Mani Rangarajan, Chief Business Officer - Platform Business Unit, Housing.com.
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Hiranandani looks to boost commercial realty portfolio

MUMBAI: Realtor Hiranandani Group is looking to ramp up its commercial portfolio by 10-15% annually over the next five years through new projects. The Mumbai-based developer will be adding five million sq ft in the two years ending December 2017 in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and Ahmedabad. The group is also planning to develop a 250-acre industrial township in Talegaon in Pune and a 160-acre park in Chennai. “We believe in the Prime Minister's vision of `Make In India', which will boost both industrial and commercial activity in India and therefore initiating the new industrial space building and growing the commercial footprint from our side. Apart from commercial development, we are also going to focus on industrial townships. We will be deve loping an industrial township on 250-acre land in Pune and 160 acres in Chennai,“ said Niranjan Hiranandani, CMD of Hiranandani Group of companies. The company has already started the first phase of construction for the industrial township in Pune spread over 50 acres and is expected to be completed in four phases.It has also completed acquisition of 160-acre land for a similar project in Chennai. Currently, the group is developing nearly six million sq ft of commercial properties, including two million sq ft in Panvel and 3.5 million sq ft in Thane. A four-lakh sq ft project in GIFT SEZ in Gandhinagar is the latest addition to this portfolio. “We have already leased 30% of Hiranandani Signature tower in GIFT City and hope to increase the occupancy to 85% by September. There are seven prominent banks which have shown interest in picking up office space. Demand for space here is high, given the tax benefits being offered,“ said Hiranandani. The (BSE and Kotak Mahindra Bank are the anchor tenants at Hiranandani Signature tower with first and second floors, respectively. BSE Brokers Association has also picked up an entire floor spread over 28,000 sq ft. Re venues from businesses operating out of this tower will be tax free, except for a levy of minimum alternate tax (MAT) of 9%. In 2016, the company concluded India's largest commercial space transaction for the year with two million sq ft built-to-suit office leased to software major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). It also concluded the largest commercial space divestment deal to a private equity when it sold 4.5 million sq ft office and retail space to Canada-based Brookfield Asset Management for $1 billion.
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Tata Motors signs landmark wage agreement with Pune plant workers

MUMBAI: In a landmark agreement signed with Pune plant workers on Tuesday, Tata Motors, India’s largest automobile company by revenues, has initiated a move to bring 15-20,000 blue collar factory workers to a wage structure that is performance-linked. The company concluded a long-term wage settlement agreement with its Pune workers Union that covers 6,400 workers, after 19 months of negotiations. Tata Motors will now work towards getting workers from Sanand, Lucknow and Jamshedpur factories to sign a similar agreement. According to a few people in the know, about 10% of the Pune plant workers salary is variable pay and is linked to the performance. The wage settlement for Pune plant workers has been signed for a period of 3 years —September 01, 2015 to August 31, 2018. The agreement will be effective from immediate effect. The total wage package is bifurcated as: a fixed rise of Rs 8,600 (in the ratio of 72%, 15% and 13% for a period of 3 years) and Rs 8,700 non-actual; that is a total of Rs 17300, said the company statement. Guenter Butshcek, MD of Tata Motors told ET: “Here is a clear scheme, as far as performance-based rewards are concerned, just like how it translates for the management or white collar executives, in the same way, the company is introducing performance linked pay for blue collar workers.” Tata Motors has manufacturing plants in Sanand, Jamshedpur and Lucknow too, and a similar wage agreement will be offered to them, as well. “There is no doubt, what has been signed in Pune is going to be a reference point for what needs to be signed at other plant locations. It is not going to be identical, because, in other locations, we negotiate in advance, here we are running retrospective negotiations.” In addition to the increment amount, the company has also agreed to pay a gratuity amount to the families of deceased workmen and a wrist watch be given to the spouse of an employee on the completion of 25 years of service. Additionally, various other facilities were agreed upon, including block closure days being increased by 6 days. The new measurement of performance has been well received by workmen, says Tata Motors.
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Publicis Worldwide brings Paris-based creative agency Marcel to India

NEW DELHI: Publicis Worldwide is launching its Parisbased creative agency Marcel in India. It’s headquartered in Mumbai. The French network is also changing its business structure here by merging its agency brands Publicis Ambience and Publicis Capital to create Publicis Worldwide India. Publicis has appointed Srija Chatterjee as managing director and Sudeep Gohil as chief strategy officer to run all the Publicis Worldwide operations in the country, including Marcel and Publicis Worldwide India. They will report to Saurabh Varma, CEO at Publicis Communications India. “Marcel is a precious brand that we only share with like-minded people. I know that together we will create amazing work. It is what drives us at Marcel,” said Charles Georges-Picot, global CEO at Marcel. The agency that handles accounts of Uber, Instagram and Ray-Ban, however, may not bring its global client associations to the country. Chatterjee joins Publicis Worldwide from MullenLowe Singapore, where she was the global business director. Gohil moves in from 72and-Sunny LA, where he consulted on the agency’s Asia-Pacific plans, and led the Adidas business globally. “The leadership team has been carefully put together to deliver on our ambition for Publicis Worldwide, in India,” said the group’s India head Saurabh Varma. “I believe it is the right time for Marcel to come to India.
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Tech View: Nifty50 forms 'Spinning Top', 9,075 key for next upmove

NEW DELHI: Considering it was just a day ahead of March F&O expiry, a 44-point range for Nifty50 on Wednesday was unusual. The Nifty50 settled making a real green body for a second session in a row, but failed to instill much confidence. The index closed the day forming a pattern similar to ‘Spinning Top’ on the daily chart. This candle is often regarded as a neutral pattern, which suggests indecisiveness among the bulls and the bears. That said, there were a few positives from the session. First, the index closed above its immediate resistance of 9,133 and second it logged the highest closing of the last eight trading sessions. “It has been holding above its support trend line by connecting the lows of 8,713, 8,903 and 9,024 levels,” said Chandan Taparia, Derivatives & Technical Analyst at Motilal Oswal Securities. The market analyst believes that Nifty50 needs to hold above 9,075 to extend its upmove towards its lifetime high of 9,218, whereas 9,075 and 9,020 may now emerge as good support level in the short term. The index opened higher but could not gain much. From day’s high of 9153.15, it fell to a low of 9,109.80, before ending the day at 9,143.80, up 43 points, or 0.47 per cent. “Nifty50 registered Spinning Top kind of indecisive formation as it signed off the day with meagre gains. Advance Decline Ratio on Wednesday should be a cause for concern. If the index registers a sporadic breakout, and gets past 9,178 level, it will facilitate new highs in next few trading sessions,” said Mazhar Mohammad, Chief Strategist – Technical Research & Trading Advisory at Chartviewindia.in. Contrary to this, if it slips below 9,100 on Thursday, then the ongoing consolidation phase shall continue for some more time,” Mohammad said.
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ETMarkets After Hours: Auto stocks tank, Bharti Infratel surges

NEW DELHI: Benchmark equity indices ended higher on Wednesday ahead of F&O expiry on Thursday. The 30-share BSE Sensex closed 121.91 points or 0.41 per cent up at 29,531.43, while the 50-share NSE Nifty index closed 43 points, or 0.47 per cent, up at 9,143.80. Here’s a look at the stocks and sectors that hogged limelight on Wednesday: Hit by SC ruling: Shares of auto majors tumbled on Wednesday after the Supreme Court banned the sale and registration of vehicles that are not compliant with BS-IV emission norms from April 1. Reacting to the ruling, the Nifty Auto index closed 0.43 per cent down at 9,845.75. Hero MotoCorp and Ashok Leyland settled 2.68 per cent and 2.83 per cent down at Rs 3,237.70 and Rs 84, respectively. Towering over: Shares of Bharti Infratel advanced over 6 per cent on Wednesday after Bharti Airtel announced that it has completed sale of 11.32 per cent stake in its mobile tower arm, Bharti Infratel, to its wholly-owned subsidiary Nettle Infrastructure for Rs 6,806 crore. Modi Rubber hogging limelight: Shares of Modi Rubber surged over 104 per cent in the past 15 trading sessions, including 10 per cent surge by the company on Wednesday. The scrip jumped from Rs 41.05 on March 7, 2017 to Rs 83.85 on March 29. On the sudden movement of share price of Modi Rubber, the company in a BSE filing said, “We ourselves are surprised how share price is increasing. We wish to submit that none of the promoters are involved in buying or selling shares of the company. 52-week high: Over 90 stocks on NSE hit their fresh 52-week high on Wednesday. The list include Blue Star, Biocon, DHFL, Indiabulls Ventures, HDFC, Havells India, Power Finance Corporation, Motherson Sumi Systems, Max Ventures and Industries and Larsen & Toubro. Spurt in OI: Stock futures of Page Industries saw the biggest jump in open interest (OI) at 54.20 per cent. It was followed by Marico (43.45 per cent), Hero MotoCorp (up 42.57 per cent) and Bharti Infratel (up 41.98 per cent). Most active securities: JP Associates emerged as the most active stock in terms of traded volume on NSE on Tuesday. It was followed by Suzlon, UVSL, State Bank of India and Ashok Leyland.
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Micromax to debut in Rs 20,000-plus smartphone segment

NEW DELHI: Micromax aims to capture 10% of the Rs 20,000-plus smartphone category in the coming financial year, a segment that the homebred player will make its debut in next month with its Dual phone series, which will be pitted against devices from Samsung and Apple, besides those from aggressive Chinese players Oppo, Vivo and One Plus. Rahul Sharma, co-founder of Micromax Informatics, told ETthat the Dual series launches besides the low-cost 4G VoLTE smartphone that it plans to bring to the market next month will help the company win back its position among the top five smartphone makers, which it had lost in the last few quarters to its Chinese rivals in a market led by Samsung. “We will get back market share that we have lost, within two quarters we will be back (in top rankings),” Sharma said, while launching the company’s first premiumend smartphone on Wednesday. The new series marks the entry of the company — which has been the strongest in the sub-Rs 10,000 price segment so far — in a higher price segment that is expected to boost revenue as the average selling price for the company, which stands at Rs 5,740, could rise by a fifth. Revenue for the year to March 31 is expected to be under Rs 10,000 crore. “Our first goal is to reach 10% of the Rs 20,000-25,000 upwards market, where our direct competition will be Samsung,” he added. The company plans to launch four to five devices in the Dual series in the next few months. The company is also planning new models in Rs 10,000, Rs 15,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 upwards categories, with some in the higher priced segments featuring dual cameras. Sharma said the company’s move into the high-end also comes in the light of consumer patterns changing in the market. For instance, in the above Rs 25,000 price segment, the market has grown from 100,000 units a month to 600,000 a month, which means more people are upgrading to high-end phones, he said. Micromax’s move to take on the premium segment comes hours before Samsung globally launches its Galaxy S8 in New York. The S8 is likely to be priced in the super premium segment, and is critical for the South Korean company after its Note 7 debacle last year when it was forced to recall the flagship due to faulty battery issues. On the lower end — under Rs 3,500 — Micromax aims to sell 5-6 million units of the Bharat 1 4G VoLTE feature phone and Bharat 2 VoLTE smartphones, by September, which will give the company’s volume market share the much required push. “Last year, apart from mobile phones, all other segments grew for us, but this year, we will have to rebuild the mobile phone business, for which we will disrupt both the high end and low end of the market,” he added. The Dual 5 launched Wednesday atRs 24,999 will be available on Flipkart and offline from April 10 and will come with a one-year free replacement warranty of the screen, besides free pick up and drop of the device.
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Pravin Togadia bats for law to build Ram temple in Ayodhya

NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court today stating that the Ayodhya temple dispute be settled through negotiations, Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Pravin Togadia said the Central government must bring out a legislation to build the Ram temple. "The Union government must bring and pass the law to build Ram Temple in Ayodhya at the birth place of Shreeram (Lord Ram)," he said. The saffron leader said 'Ram Janmabhumi Nyas' and VHP have always supported the stand that the disputed land belonged to 'Bhagwan Ram' and there should be a grand temple of Shree Ram at the place. The apex court said the Ayodhya temple dispute was a "sensitive and sentimental" issue and asked all parties concerned to sit together for finding a solution to the controversial matter. A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said that such religious issues can be solved through negotiations and suggested that the CJI was ready to take up the task of mediating to arrive at an amicable settlement. Togadia said in 1991 then Prime Minister Chandrashekhar had tried to get VHP and Babri Action Committee to amicably solve the matter. When VHP submitted all proofs of a temple being there, the Babri Action Committee abandoned that meeting, he alleged. "With Georadar and excavation by ASI under the Lucknow bench of High court, it has already been proven that there was a grand temple at the site of Babri structure. Lucknow bench of High court has accepted that enough proof of the existence of the temple on the site of Babri structure was there," he said. Togadia added that even the Muslims had agreed that if the temple existed at the disputed site, they would withdraw their claim. The observations of the apex court today came after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy sought an urgent hearing on the vexed issue. Swamy said that it has been over six years and the matter needed to be heard at the earliest. On February 26 last year, the apex court had allowed Swamy to intervene in the pending matters relating to the Ayodhya title dispute against his plea seeking construction of Ram temple at the site of the demolished disputed structure.
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By 2021, four out of 10 jobs would be lost to automation: Experts

NEW DELHI: Automation is the new norm across sectors and will affect the bottom of the pyramid so much so that four out of every 10 jobs globally would be lost due to this by 2021, experts say. Automation is the new normal in sectors like engineering, manufacturing, automobiles, IT and banking. As automation adoption increases, all high transaction and labour intensive jobs will take a hit. According to PeopleStrong CEO and Founder Pankaj Bansal, there will be a visible change in the next 3-4 years, first major effects will be seen in the sectors like manufacturing, IT and ITeS and security services and agriculture. "We predict that by 2021, 4 out of every 10 jobs globally would be lost because of automation. And of these, one in every 4 will be from India. That sums up to 23 per cent of job loss in India," Bansal said. India produces 5.5 million jobs (across levels) every year, but this number falls short of jobs needed to employ available talent and automation is further increasing the gap. "If five years ago, there were 1,500 jobs in the assembly line, it has been reduced to 500 jobs now as the focus has moved away from skilling to automation," said Francis Padamadan, Country Director KellyOCG India, a talent management solutions provider. Experts said low skill and high transaction jobs will be affected as automation takes away their jobs. Hiring for short term projects, flexi hiring would be the way forward in these areas for roles that cannot be automated. To cater to this fallout, a government needs to focus on two key areas strengthening the mid-market segment and reskilling the workforce to take up new jobs which will emerge post automation, PeopleStrong's Bansal said. KellyOCG India's Padamadan believes "automation will not take away all the jobs because you still need someone to build and monitor the robots. So, while jobs mostly at the bottom of the pyramid will be affected, new jobs will get added".
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