Business News

View: If you’re offered a vaccine, take it

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
Last week, as friends of mine learned they would soon be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination, I received a slew of angst-ridden text messages. A teacher who sees students only once a week wondered if she should wait so teachers who were more at risk could get a shot first. A friend with a health condition who is mostly able to stay home and isolate pondered letting her dose go to someone more deserving. On social media, I stumbled across posts from friends who are eligible for vaccination but could not get appointments — and who were angry that others they knew, whom they considered lower risk, had already been inoculated.As more and more Americans become eligible for Covid-19 vaccines despite their limited supply, deciding whether to take an available shot has turned into a moral quandary. There’s no question that vaccine access has been inequitable across parts of the country. But many medical ethicists agree: If you are eligible for a vaccination, you should get it, no matter how worthy — or unworthy — you feel.“If they call you to get vaccinated, you should go,” said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist and the founding director of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine.There are a number of reasons to get a shot if it’s offered to you. For one thing, there’s no reason to believe that if you forgo your dose, it will go to someone with a higher risk.“As we’re finding out, that’s not really the way the vaccine allocation systems are being set up,” said Debjani Mukherjee, a psychologist and a medical ethicist at Weill Cornell Medical College. Many vaccines are being distributed by institutions that can’t transfer extra doses elsewhere or to specific populations, explained Kyle Ferguson, a medical ethicist at the Grossman School of Medicine.Put another way, it’s entirely possible that the vaccination you decline will be given to someone at lower risk than you. Worse, it could get thrown away if it’s not injected into someone’s arm before it goes bad. Discarded doses do no one any good — which is why, after a freezer broke in a Northern California hospital, administrators violated state guidelines and offered the shots to everyone they could, regardless of eligibility.So the belief that turning down a vaccination or waiting to get it will somehow benefit society — “I think it is just outright false,” Dr. Ferguson said. There’s a “delusion of moral purity and keeping one’s hands clean that’s at work when people are tempted to do that.”If you turn down a vaccination based on the belief that you’re not particularly high risk, you might also be fooling yourself. It’s difficult for people to accurately measure their own risk level; research has shown that people underestimate their risk in all kinds of situations. These optimistic biases, as they are called, often lead people to perceive, wrongly, that public health campaigns are more relevant to others than to themselves.In other words, the notion that other people need vaccination more than you do may simply be a product of irrationally optimistic thinking. After all, the science on Covid-19 is not yet fully understood, and it is evolving rapidly, especially given the emergence of variants of the virus.When you get a vaccination, you’re not the only person who benefits, either. Scientists aren’t yet sure how much vaccination thwarts the transmission of Covid-19, but preliminary data suggests that it reduces spread to a degree. When you get the shot, then, you’re not only protecting your own health; you’re also likely slowing the spread of infection in your community and reducing the chance of overwhelming hospitals. In addition, if you are inoculated and friends or family members fall ill with Covid-19, you are better able to care for them, since you probably won’t get sick.Still, people may yell at you for getting a shot when you’re eligible if they feel you don’t deserve it as much as they or their loved ones do. And you may not be able to appease them with rational answers. Deep down, individuals who are angry about unfair vaccine allocation are upset at the system, and understandably so. In that situation, you’re just an easy scapegoat. “I think the best thing to do in a situation like that would be to say that you care for that person and hope they get the chance soon, too,” Dr. Ferguson said.It’s important not to conflate the systemic problems plaguing vaccine rollout with the choices we make as individuals within this flawed system. Even if you feel it’s unethical that you have been offered a vaccine, that doesn’t mean it’s unethical for you to accept it. You’re not going to fix the broken system by opting out of it. If anything, you might make the situation worse.8039939880385000
Categories: Business News

India cracks down on China-backed fintech firms

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Criminal Investigation Departments (CID) of various state police forces are set to launch probes against more than two dozen China-backed fintech lenders, such as SnapIt Loan, Bubble loan, Go Cash and Flip Cash, having directed payment gateways to stop processing their transactions and payments, multiple people aware of the developments told ET.The ED and CID units have written to payment gateways, including Razorpay that clears a bulk of these transactions, to stop their dealings with such companies. A similar communication has also gone to Paytm, one of the sources cited above said.“ED and several state CIDs have issued notices to payment gateways to cancel the accounts of several Chinese-backed fintech entities. These companies are also being questioned about the reasons behind opening accounts for such dubious firms,” an official in the know said. “There is a big flaw here. Payment gateways, in a hurry to generate more cash flows, went and opened accounts for these Chinese entities. They have to do the know-your-customer (KYC) checks to figure out the money trail.”Concentration RiskPaytm declined to comment, while Razorpay said it banned several of these apps in the last few months.“As a financial services business, we proactively block and report any suspicious merchants to the law authorities and help them with KYC and other details to assist law enforcement,” a spokesperson for Razorpay said in a mailed response. “There has been no action or investigation against Razorpay in this regard. Razorpay has already banned 300-400 apps in the last three months.”According to a source aware of the matter, about 95% of the money lending apps use Bengaluru-based fintech Razorpay as their payment gateway, which has invited the scrutiny of the ED and state CID units.“They received a list of Chinese applications based on complaints received by state police departments across the country. There is also an investigation by ED to probe money laundering charges against these apps. The fact that over 95% of these transactions were through a single gateway alerted the authorities,” said an official aware of the matter.The authorities are ensuring whether due diligence, such as merchant KYC, was followed while onboarding these apps by Razorpay. The company has also received a list of dubious apps to be taken down instantly, the person added. “The prevailing India-China sentiment is also playing a part as most of these apps are owned by Chinese individuals and entities,” said an official.The Tiger Global-backed Razorpay has among the most comprehensive payment and tech stacks in the country. This enables end-to-end digital onboarding of small merchants, including individuals and freelancers, almost instantly.Razorpay has seen lending-based transactions on its platform increase 65% in 2020 against a growth of 51% in 2019, as per data published by the firm.
Categories: Business News

Zomato set to close $500M pre-IPO funding round

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
Mumbai: Online food delivery platform Zomato is closing a fresh $500 million investment in what is being widely regarded as a pre-IPO funding round, valuing the company at about $5.5 billion, two people in the know said.The latest fundraise, which comprises a mix of primary cash infusion of $250 million by existing backers and a similar amount by way of secondary sale of shares by Chinese investors Ant Group and Sunlight Fund, comes amid heightened geopolitical tension between India and China. Existing investors Tiger Global, Kora Investments, Steadview, Fidelity, Bow Wave, Vy Capital along with new entrant Dragoneer Group, have participated in the latest funding round, said a person in the know of the development who did not want to be named as the discussions were private.With the fresh capital, Zomato is expected to have $1 billion in cash as it inches closer to its public market debut, said another person familiar with the goings-on in the company. “Zomato is aiming for an IPO by June this year valuing the company at $6-8 billion in the public market," said a person familiar with the matter. Sources said Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Kotak Mahindra Bank have been appointed by the company to run its IPO process.Zomato co-founder Deepinder Goyal did not comment on ET’s query. 80396946A spokesperson for the Ant Group, in an emailed response, said, "Ant Group remains committed to our vision of bringing inclusive financial services to global consumers and small-and-micro businesses, by working closely together with our global partners, including Zomato."Once the partial stake sale by Ant — an Alibaba Group affiliate — is executed, Sanjeev Bikhchandani-founded InfoEdge, an early investor in the Gurugram-based company, will emerge as the largest shareholder in Zomato with an estimated holding of about 17%.The Ant Group once owned about 25-26% stake in Zomato up until the company’s recently concluded $660 million financing at a $3.9 billion valuation.Last April, the restaurant discovery and food-ordering firm faced a roadblock in its fundraising plan as India enforced new foreign direct investment rules, curbing Chinese capital flowing into Indian companies. Ant had at the time committed to invest $150 million in Zomato but only $50 million came through. Ant and its parent Alibaba have since then been steadily cutting their India exposure having partially sold stakes in egrocery player BigBasket and Zomato.In response, Zomato roped in ten investors in its last fundraise, which the company announced in December.DoorDash IPO What has helped Zomato create a lot of interest among investors is the highly successful IPO of SoftBank-backed DoorDash in December when the US-based food-delivery startup opened trading at $182, which was 78% above its IPO price on the New York Stock Exchange. Having raised roughly $3.4 billion, DoorDash’s valuation was at $34.2 billion, more than double its $15 billion valuation in the private market a year ago. What’s also gone in favour of both Zomato and rival Swiggy is the revival in the online food ordering sector post a few tough months when the nationwide lockdown was imposed to check the spread of Covid-19 last year. Goyal had said in a series of tweets while announcing the $660 million fundraise that Zomato was on track to record its best-ever monthly sales in December 2020. "We are now clocking around 25% higher GMV (gross merchandise value) than our previous peaks in February 2020," he had tweeted. "The tailwinds for food delivery businesses are clearly visible, and we believe that the growth of the sector will accelerate post vaccine."
Categories: Business News

Reliance more likely to underperform expectations

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
I hope investors have learned that staying invested in the market is much better than timing the market, says Sunil Subramaniam, MD & CEO, Sundaram Mutual. You were one of the boldest and loudest advocates of buying even in the correction time after the 2017 big correction came in. One should not waste the opportunities provided by difficult periods like 2019-2020. Your point has been vindicated. Yes, I feel a sense of vindication because the reason I was saying that is ultimately economic growth has to reflect in the financial market growth. There are no two ways about it. Second, the market always tries to predict the future. So when there is a correction, the market is saying there is a downturn coming but it is not saying that it is a permanent downturn. If you are a contrarian there, you know that the market is going to read an upturn well before the upturn happens. If you are invested in the market, you are going to catch that upturn well before others. The reason is very simply a combination of these two factors; the long-term correlation between economic growth and market growth and the market being a harbinger, you cannot keep jumping out saying the market is now saying it is down, so let me come out and come back. There are a range of participants in the market. There are long-term players who actually do this contrarian buying. There are short term players who do profit booking. As an investor, you just align yourself with the long-term player. In the long run, the upturns will far outweigh the downturns which is exactly what the last 9-10 months has shown us. So I think that is a very key aspect and I hope investors have learned that staying invested in the market is much better than timing the market.Asian Paints has beat consensus estimates handsomely. This is not a Rs 10-15 crore beat, it is almost a 300 crore beat!Before this came the Kajaria Ceramics report, which is also a company I actively track. They also beat numbers very strongly. This is a phenomenon which we are seeing continuously in many of the stocks which are expensive but that does not take away the fact that they are expensive and to that extent we have to take the valuations into mind also and that protects the downside in any correction. But it does not mean that you buy the stock at 80 PE. Bajaj Auto has shown great numbers from both export as well as the domestic markets?Bajaj Auto has been doing well and unlike the other two-wheeler companies, they have had a strategy of bringing in volumes into the market which track the retail sales. They are not loading the markets. Whatever numbers they come out with typically are the real numbers and Hero MotoCorp has a tendency as a company to put inventory into the system and if the demand falls, then we see wholesale number suffering. For Bajaj Auto, the export markets picked up very strongly and like other companies, the cost-cutting initiative seems to have played out in terms of whatever profits they have delivered. In my view, the outlook from most auto companies will be very interesting given the huge surge in input costs. What they say about margins going forward will be important because the stocks are no longer cheap. Reliance has been moving for the last four trading sessions ahead of its numbers. Another 3% dash is coming in here as well. What could we hear on the sidelines of the earnings tomorrow?Reliance underperformed severely in the last 20% up move of the market and actually moved down. So, in my view, it is just a catch up. The key variables to monitor will be the Jio performance. I think that is the only stock price driver. And whatever they have to say on Jio Platforms is going to be important because it is very tough to understand what they are doing out there and why they have got the valuations. If greater clarity comes out on those fronts, greater will be the probability that the stock up move could sustain. Given whatever is out in the market, the probability that they will underperform expectations is greater than outperformance.
Categories: Business News

Budget 2021 needs to hike gratuity exemption limit

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
The year 2020 ended with hope for a better 2021 in all facets of our lives - economic, social and health. The novel coronavirus pandemic hit the Indian economy adversely impacting almost all sectors be it agriculture, aviation, manufacturing or the service sector. All eyes are now set on Budget 2021 with the hope that taxpayers will be given some respite. Every year the Budget attracts lots of expectations, but Budget 2021 will be more important from the perspective of the remedial actions that will be taken by the Finance Minister to revive the economy.Among various expectations of individual taxpayers from Budget 2021, a key one is around taxability of retiral benefits. These benefits primarily cater to the needs of an individual after retirement. Here are few key expectations of taxpayers from Budget 2021.1. Increase in the gratuity exemption limitCurrently, most companies pay gratuity to their employees based on 'basic pay' component mentioned in employees' compensation structures. The gratuity payout to employees will increase on account of introduction of the new labour codes, i.e., Code on Wages, 2019 and the Code on Social Security, 2020.One of the major changes in the new codes is standardisation of the definition of 'wages'. The definition of 'wages' under the new codes is wider and factors in all remuneration including special allowance, remuneration in kind up to 15% of total wages, and excludes certain allowances and benefits such as house rent allowance, statutory bonus, etc. Further, the wage definition also has the provision that 'wages' would be at least 50% of the total emoluments. Most companies today have their basic salary ranging around 35-45% of the total compensation paid to an employee and gratuity is calculated on such basic pay. Now since wages would constitute at least 50% of the total compensation, employers will be required to make gratuity payments to employees on at least 50% of the total wages. This will result in increase in the gratuity payouts in the hands of employees.Since the gratuity payout to employees will increase on account of the new codes, the maximum exemption limit for gratuity could be increased from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh. 2. Increase in the tax limit for employers' contributions to retiralsBudget 2020 introduced an aggregate monetary limit of Rs 7.5 lakh for exemption in respect of employers' contribution to the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF), National Pension Scheme (NPS) and the Superannuation Fund. Employers' contributions in excess of this limit would be a taxable perquisite in the hands of employees. This monetary limit should be increased from Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 9 lakh which will result in higher savings for the employee by limiting the tax outflow. A higher limit is also justified in view of the definition of wages that is set to undergo a major change once the new Labour Codes are made effective. Under the Labour Codes, the definition of wages is wide and hence, employer's contributions to provident fund is likely to increase. In the absence of an increase in the exemption limit, employees could end up paying more taxes on their employers' contributions to provident fund, NPS and Superannuation Fund.3. Taxability of accretions earned from employers' contributions to retiralsGiven that employer contribution exceeding Rs 7.5 lakh to the above-mentioned schemes is taxable, it was provided that the annual accretions earned on such taxable contributions would also be liable to tax in the hands of employees. Since the introduction of this amendment, there has been ambiguity on the manner in which tax on these accretions is to be determined. Budget 2021 should provide clarity on the calculation of the taxable accretions in such schemes.4. Increase in exemption limit for employer's contribution to provident fundEmployer's contributions to provident fund is currently exempt up to 12% of salary, where salary includes dearness allowance, if the terms of employment so provide, but excludes all other allowances and perquisites. With the definition of wages set to widen and employer contributions to provident fund set to increase under the new Labour Codes, the exemption for employer contributions should be brought in line with the contributions required under the Labour Codes, i.e., 12% of the wages as defined in the Labour codes.5. Increase in limit under section 80C of the ActUnder section 80C of the Income-tax Act, 1961 ('Act') there is a wide range of tax-saving investment options such as employee's contribution to EPF, Public Provident Fund (PPF), life insurance premiums, children's tuition fees, repayment of housing loan, etc., within the limit of Rs 1.5 lakh As discussed above, similar to gratuity payouts, employee's contributions to provident fund is also expected to increase on account of change in the definition of wages. Considering there will now be a higher contribution made by an employee to EPF and since the limit under section 80C has not been enhanced for several years now, the government should increase the limit from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.6. Increase in the limit of employee's contributions to NPSContribution to NPS has lately become one of the favored options to save taxes. Presently, an individual can claim a total deduction of Rs 2 lakh [Rs 1.5 lakh which is available as a deduction under section 80C/80CCD(1) and Rs 50,000 under section 80CCD(1B) of the Act']. Most taxpayers exhaust their limit of Rs 1.5 lakh through other tax-saving investments like life insurance premiums, provident fund, PPF, etc. Deduction for NPS contribution is therefore limited to section 80CCD(1B) of the Act which has a limit of Rs 50,000. In order to give a boost to NPS investments, the limit under section 80CCD(1B) should be enhanced from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Due to the uncertainty created by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, if the Finance Minister meets some of the above-mentioned expectations of the taxpayer in Budget 2021, the same would provide some relief to them. (The writer is a partner with Deloitte India. Mousami Nagarsenkar is a Director, Prachi Phansikar is a Deputy Manager and Richa Udaipuri is a Tax Senior with Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP also contributed to the article.)
Categories: Business News

Sasikala tests positive for COVID-19; stable

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
BENGALURU: Expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, serving a jail term and shifted to a hospital here with complaints of fever and breathlessness, tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, an official bulletin said.Sasikala, admitted to the Bowring Hospital on Wednesday, is presently in the dedicated COVID-19 Centre of the Victoria Hospital in the city and her condition was stable, hospital sources added.She had developed symptoms of Severe Acute Respiratory Illness, the very feature of COVID-19, but her previous Rapid Antigen and RT-PCR test reports turned negative. However, on suspicion, fresh tests were conducted on Thursday, which confirmed the COVID-19 infection, they said.A Victoria Hospital health bulletin issued late on Thursday said, "COVID-19 Pneumonia (severe based on CT Scan - 16/25), hypertension, hypothyroidism on treatment."Serving a four year imprisonment in a corruption case at the Parappana Agrahara Prison here, Sasikala, a close aide of late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, had complained of fever and breathlessness on Wednesday, a week before her slated release on January 27.She was admitted to the Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Institute, also known as Bowring Hospital.Earlier in the day, Bowring Hospital Director Dr Manoj Kumar H V said Sasikala's oxygen saturation level was 80 (against the normal of 95 and above) on Wednesday evening when she was admitted to the hospital."She had breathlessness. Before that she had a fever. Accordingly we gave her treatment. Now her oxygen saturation level is normal, which is 96. Her condition is stable now," Kumar told reporters.According to him, she took a stroll in the morning.Sasikala's nephew and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary T T V Dhinakaran, who rushed here on learning about her illness, told reporters she was stable."I got the reliable information that her health is stable. Doctors are looking after her very well.Good care is given. They are monitoring her," Dhinakaran said.Sasikala was sentenced to four years imprisonment in February 2017 in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case.
Categories: Business News

No misuse of WhatsApp data, FB tells Parl panel

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
NEW DELHI: Facebook has assured the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology that its subsidiary WhatsApp is not sharing personal data, like conversation and exchange of messages between individuals, with it. The social media site underlined that the exchange between users is fully encrypted and there is breach of privacy.The Standing Committee, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, met on Thursday to hear the views of representatives of Facebook and Twitter on the subject- safeguarding citizens rights and prevention of misuse of social online news media platforms including special emphasis on women’s security in the digital space.Facebook representative Shivnath Thukral faced questions from the Standing Committee members on reports that WhatsApp is sharing data of its users with the parent organisation. Thukral assured the panel that there is no truth in the allegations that the privacy of WhatsApp users is being invaded, sources said.He informed the panel that Facebook has repeatedly made this fact clear that there is no misuse. One of the members asked Thukral if reports that WhatsApp can listen in and/or record conversations taking place between individuals, to which he replied in the negative and said all conversations and messages are encrypted, end-to-end.The Facebook official said his organisation has received 15 questions from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on various aspects of this issue and it is in the process of studying them and framing replies.The committee members also sought to know why despite having 40 crore users in India, Facebook continues to mete out “unfair treatment” to Indian users while having better policies for users in other countries. Facebook was asked why it is not adopting uniform rules and policies in all countries.Facebook representatives have underlined that all questions posed on the matter are “important and relevant” and it will get back to the committee with elaborate, “full-fledged” answers to them.There has been growing concern among users that WhatsApp invades their privacy. Many users have reportedly switched to Telegram and Signal to prevent possibilities of snooping or sharing of data.The Standing Committee on Information Technology is also dealing with the allegedly arbitrary policy adopted by Twitter in banning some handles which post “objectionable” content while turning a blind eye to a few other accused committing the same offence.Meanwhile, some of the panel members hailing from poll-bound states did not attend the meeting on Thursday as they were busy with election preparations.The panel will meet again on Friday to consider and adopt its report on India’s preparedness for 5G spectrum.
Categories: Business News

Why capex cycle can start this summer

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
As we see the economy lift up through the winter, people will start understanding that a US recession means the next year the Indian economy revs into high gear, says Saurabh Mukherjea, Founder, Marcellus Investment Managers. Did you foresee the huge fund flows coming into the market or the DIY investors -- taking the market to new highs?Yes and no. We had set up Marcellus two and a half years ago, expecting the financialisation of savings involving middle class people and high net worth investors gradually moving away from physical into financial savings. Over the last two years, we have seen enormous evidence of that. A lot of our clientele is from small towns and cities, places we had not heard of till we started Marcellus. It is remarkable to see doctors, dentists, car dealers, cloth traders all across the country calling up Marcellus and giving us their life savings. I have to confess we got a little worried last March as panic caught hold of investors. I was on your channel on the day we had a gap down; that evening when we did a webinar with our clients, 1,200 clients dialled from various parts of the country and the tension was tangible. Clearly the mood has turned now for the better. This run can be expected to firmly put the foundations of the financialisation of India’s savings and the move towards mutual funds, equity investing, PMS and AIF. The entire equity community will get a stimulus that it probably has not received for the last 10 years. I understand you and your team have done some phenomenal work in assessing how large economies with the help of central banks try to rebuild themselves out of crisis. How does that happen, especially in terms of the relationship between the US and emerging markets in terms of rebuilding, stimulus etc?There are two sources of our research which all of us can draw a lot of strength from, especially those viewers who are getting jittery about Sensex at 50,000. The first is that if you look at the last 100 years, across the world, every exigency like Covid has been followed by three-four strong years for the stock market. In 1918-1920, there was the great Spanish flu and it was thrice as lethal as Covid and yet the next four-five years after that, global equities, US equities, British equities had a very powerful bull run. Then came the Second World War the S&P 500 rose 80% during the war and continued its bull run after the Second World War ended. If you go into the aftermath of the great financial crisis (GFC) in 2008-2009, we all know the bull run that followed both in India and in the western world. After every financial crisis, epidemic or war, in the last 100 years, the economy, consumption and stock markets have recovered and done very well for four-five years after an exigency. It is not very hard to figure out why. Concerted global stimulus have led to a synchronised global economic recovery. One of the biggest handicaps in conventional economies, the problem of capex, is being overcome. What a concerted global stimulus does it synchronises everybody and you can see this very clearly in the car industry. Auto ancillaries are planning capex because auto OEMs’ order books are full. Auto OEMs are planning capex because interest rates are down 2.5%. People want to buy cars because interest rates are low and they need cards. The entire auto industry has gone into expansion mode. There is very clear data that after an exigency, there are three-four years of strong economy and a strong stock market. The other thing is about India, rather the last 40 years of Indian history. US recession somewhat helps the Indian economy boom. This is because the US recession brings about a 50-80% correction in oil price and India as an oil importer benefits. Secondly, if the US recession drags down the US 10-year bond yield by 2.5%, RBI passes it on to you and me through repo rate cuts. The US recession therefore means cheap oil and cheap money and the Indian economy booms. Everybody is shouting this out from the middle of March. Hopefully as we see the economy lift up through the winter, people will start understanding that a US recession means the next year the Indian economy revs into high gear. My reckoning is the capex cycle will start this summer. We are already seeing tangible evidence of that.
Categories: Business News

Indian start-ups must list here: Shankar Sharma

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
India needs to have more tech listing. The moment you have that, I will guarantee you there will be 20-25 companies with $10, $15, $20, $30 billion market caps, if not more than that, says Shankar Sharma, Vice Chairman & Joint MD, First Global. Which company has surprised you with its ability to change? Which company has disappointed you? A company which no one thought will go belly up but which has done so? The first answer is straightforward and the second is a little complicated. The first one is obviously Reliance, it has really remade itself which is really remarkable to say the least. Anybody who could have foreseen this has to be a genius because when the KG Basin thing was on, that was the hot story of 2007-08-09-10. At that point did you know that Reliance would become more of a tech play than a oil and gas play? I mean it is just impossible. The scale of transformation what has been engineered is massive and it is still work in process because obviously oil to chemicals is more their bread and butter business, they understand tech is a new business and there is a little bit more competition in tech than in old line business and so there is still work to be done. It is not over yet but they have done an amazing job. I think it is as momentous as Dhirubhai Ambani coming back from the Middle East and forming Reliance from those humble beginnings. So I think it is just phenomenal, it makes me proud that at least one Indian group thought along those lines and at that scale. I know you are a big believer of mean reversion and you always believe that whatever goes down has to come up and whatever goes up has to come down. How do you see this next couple of years changing for companies like Maruti and Tata Motors?For the next two years, I do not see a problem. There could be longer term problems down the road but to write them off as no-hopers is unwise. I have a lot of belief in at least a good part of Indian corporate managements. They are not dummies, they are smart people, it is not that they cannot see this threat and only we can see the threat. They can see the threat more clearly than you and I can and they are doing things and they will do things to mitigate the effects of all the talk around EVs and if at all it becomes reality, they will be ready too. It is not to say that Maruti or Tata Motors or Mahindra & Mahindra will sit it out. Just to give you an example, Indian IT companies were in threat of being disrupted in 2015-16 with the advent of the Cloud where a lot of the processes were getting automated, a lot of stuff was going out of the physical market into the Cloud market and I for one, was apprehensive on the Indian IT services companies ability to adapt and change with this new reality and look how wrong all of us were! These guys have re-engineered themselves. Now digital is such a big part of their businesses. Look at the stock prices! 27 years after Infosys listed, you still want to own Infosys. The Indian managements are good, they are not dummies, they will find ways around it, they will find ways out of it. So let us have belief in at least the successful Indian groups and successful Indian managements. They are not going to go down without putting up a very solid fight. The components of the index have also changed. Earlier, it was commodities, textiles, now it is IT, pharma. How do you think the components will change going forward?I just hope that more Indian start-ups list here instead of going and listing abroad because that is one thing that can lead to a change in this competition. Otherwise, it has become a very static list of companies. Reliance was there even before my time. A lot of other companies like the Tata Group companies are very old school. We need more fresh blood. We need more tech. We need more new generation, new economy, new entrepreneurs entering the stock market and I just hope that Indian start-ups choose to list in India rather than just going to Nasdaq or some other market. There are quite a large number of unicorns in India -- companies which at least on paper are over $2 billion, $5 billion, $10 billion. If they list and hopefully do well in the aftermarket, you can look at a series of newer inclusions into the Nifty in the next 10 years time. I think this market will welcome Indian tech plays. For all those startups which sell in India, would do well here rather than abroad where they are hardly known. Sometimes I get bored by the same Baja Auto, same Reliance and same HDFC Bank. Let us have some newer companies, it is better challenge intellectually. Which are the next two or three companies which do you think will be part of the $100 billion club? Right now only TCS and Reliance is there. HDFC Bank is nearing it. We have been so busy buying smaller companies that we do not buy $100 billion companies. We do not like to buy them. Our focus is more on the smaller ones-- the $1 billion-$2 billion companies. It will take a while for them to go to the $100 billion club. But the only space where that can happen very quickly is tech. There is no other space where you will find companies go from $2-$3 billion to $50 billion in market cap. If you look at the Chinese market as an example, you will be stunned at the number of companies with $25, $50, $75, $80-billion market cap and even $100 billion market cap. It is phenomenal I mean I lose track of the number of companies there and the reason for that is because it is purely tech. So, India needs to have more tech listing. The moment you have that, I will guarantee you there will be 20-25 companies with $10, $15, $20, $30 billion market caps numbers, if not more than that. For the existing crop on a very linear growth path, $100 billion will take a while. Let us be absolutely realistic about this but the new crop, new listing particularly in tech, will see 20-25 companies coming up to $10-30 billion range easily. It is a tsunami of multi-billion dollar companies. We have bought a lot of them in global funds and made a lot of money. I just hope and I pray that Indian stock market and India in a stock market regulation should also be flexible enough to allow Indian tech companies to list because if you do not do that, you will just keep losing listings to other markets if that were to happen you will be surprised with the number of Indian companies that get into this kind of market cap range. Any learnings from your journey in the markets up until now?Oh! yes the biggest learning is that we grew up thinking investing was an art and I think it was totally wrong. It is pure science. There is no art to this game. If you take an engineering approach to it, you will do far better and have far more peace of mind. The old line one company at a time is so ‘90s. The whole market is changing, the tech is changing. It boggles my mind to see the kind of nuances you can see in data. Data talks to you in ways as no human beings can express to each other. That is a seminal change in my own way of investing. I just feel cheated that we did not have these tools available to us in the 90s and we were still going around in small nooks and crannies of India and trying to figure out whether you know one toothpaste will sell or one biscuit will sell. That is a huge change and it will disrupt the investing business itself and it will allow a newer crop of people to come into this business and disrupt the old crop of people who are still used to doing it the way Warren Buffet was doing. We know that Warren Buffet has not bought anything right in the last 20 years and likewise I fear that a lot of our old school generation will lose out merely because we are still doing things the old way. ET Now: There is a time when the brokerages rates were 1.5% to 2% and even 3.5% during the badla days. Now platforms have kicked in and you can buy and sell on a click of a button. Zero commission is the new norm. What is going to happen to that part of the market in this decade?Shankar Sharma: The broking business makes money from the interests that you make on margin flows and the ways around regulations that all the pure line retail online brokers do. The other theme of course is that if people delay their payments. There is a huge charge, it is almost like a credit card business. So you do not make money so much from the transaction but you make money more from the financing activities around that transaction. These armies of highly paid CEOs and CIOs, I do not see how that will survive. I do not think anybody is going to get fired but the entire financial services business will keep getting more and more disrupted and newer people will come in and if more people do not re-engine themselves, then they will become dinosaurs.
Categories: Business News

Facebook opposes Delhi Assembly panel's notices

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
New Delhi: Facebook India on Thursday strongly opposed notices issued by a Delhi Assembly panel asking its executives to come and depose before it on the Delhi riots, insisting in the Supreme Court that it had a right to hold its silence and not get drawn into any politically polarised narratives on the riots.The Peace and Harmony committee issued two notices to Facebook India VP Ajit Mohan to appear before it and suggest solutions to the problems posed by hate speech amid the backdrop of the Delhi riots. One was issued on Sept 10 and another 20, 2020.Appearing for Facebook India, senior advocate Harish Salve said that Facebook’s objection was a “conscientious” one. “The notices are not against individuals but against Facebook India Online Services. We don’t want to speak on whether anything is hate speech or civil speech,” he said.He said that the panel can ask Facebook to appear but not compel it.“We retain our right to be silent,” he said. “If we don’t turn up the panel can only criticise our action, but not invoke privilege against us.” Salve said that Facebook was also questioning the limits of the jurisdiction of the Delhi Assembly on the issue.“There is a parliamentary standing committee on Information technology. The IT Act is a parliamentary legislation. We have permission to work in India. They can block our access. If they ask us to go, we go. If the committee asks us to appear before it, we will have to go. We are there. This cannot be used as an estoppel to force us to appear before an Assembly panel,” he argued.Salve said that the company was subject to the statutory scheme that mandates it to take down “hateful” content under court orders and allows a person to file an FIR in a police station against any such content.But House privilege, which allows a House to function smoothly, cannot be used to either summon third parties or non-members or take away their right to free speech. In any case, he suggested, the panel cannot be said to be part of the House and hence be empowered to invoke privilege.He told the three-judge bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul that the panel had in its first meeting in August observed that Facebook was only removing messages of harmony and not hateful content and had warned of a supplementary chargesheet arraigning it as an accused in the riots.He also alleged that the notices had been issued after a Wall Street Journal article alleging that Ankhi Das, then policy head of Facebook India and South Asia, had a pro-government agenda. He said that the IT Act already had enough provisions to tackle hateful content. “What recommendations does this committee wish to put forward?”The arguments in the case were inconclusive at the end of the court hours and would be carried on next on Jan 27, 2021.
Categories: Business News

Anand Mahindra's 2021 bucket list

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
As India emerges from the lockdown, the spirit of wanderlust has also started shining again. Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra, for one, has begun making plans for his first post-pandemic vacation. “I’ve always wanted to go to Ladakh, but I never had the courage to do it. I’m getting older now, so I think I should go there before I can’t travel any more. Once the lockdown ends, I will plan a trip there,” he said during an online book launch event recently. Family reunion Social distancing during the last 10 months has also meant we’ve not been able to spend as much time with our loved ones, and that’s another thing Mahindra wishes to correct in 2021. “I would like to meet my grandson. It’s been quite some time since I last met him. My daughters will not like me for this, as they are also in New York, but I am missing my grandson a lot and would like to see him,” he added. Mahindra’s two daughters Aalika and Divya are both in the US, which is where his three-year-old grandson also lives. The 65-year-old has often taken to Twitter to speak about his grandson, even calling him his “favourite” family member over the years. When the grandfather-grandson reunion does happen, perhaps Mahindra’s 8.3 million followers will get a sneak peek of it.
Categories: Business News

Sensex countdown to 100000: Big Bull's projection

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
Mumbai: Ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala in 2007 had predicted that the Sensex would touch 50,000 in the subsequent six-seven years. While it has taken slightly longer to achieve the target, there are already predictions in place for the future summits for the benchmark index.Jhunjhunwala sees the Nifty touching 1,25,000 by 2030, according to media reports. Most of the future bullish predictions for the Indian equity market are centred around India’s economic growth potential. “(About) 1,00,000 would be quite achievable if we continue to see the kind of growth that we expect in India within the next decade. No question about that,” said veteran emerging markets investor Mark Mobius. Growth in the last few quarters has suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. India’s GDP contracted a record 23.9 per cent in the June quarter. In the quarter ended September, the contraction slowed down to 7.5 per cent. Meanwhile, the Indian stock market plunged over 40 per cent in February-March of 2020 before staging a recovery of over 90 per cent since then, courtesy development of the coronavirus vaccine and easy monetary policies of global central banks.“Improving growth, the likely end of the rate cycle, likely persistent negative real rates and peaking correlations and concentration drive our portfolio strategy...While the market looks tactically overbought, we think India will outperform EMs in 2021 and are bullish on equities for the year ahead,” said Morgan Stanley India in its 2021 outlook report.While Morgan Stanley India estimated a bull case of 59,000 on the Sensex for 2021, the firm’s managing director Ridham Desai in 2017 had estimated that Sensex would touch the 1,00,000-mark in less than a decade. Raamdeo Agrawal, chairman, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, also expects the Sensex to leap to the 1,00,000-mark. “Five years back, it was 24,000-25,000, in next five years it will go to a lakh because there is long-term growth potential. Consumer, IT, pharma, private sector banks, private sector insurance and some of the automotive companies will do well,” said Agrawal. Sensex had crossed the 25,000-milestone for the first time ever on May 16, 2014 as the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance came to power at the centre with a sweeping majority. It has taken more than five years to double. The index crossed 30,000-mark for the first time ever in March 2015 after the central bank cut policy repo rates and it breached the 40,000-mark in May 2019 as BJP retained power for a second term.
Categories: Business News

Sensex, more than just first among equals

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
India’s first stock benchmark, the BSE Sensex, has been among the top outperformers across major global markets since its inception in October 1986. The index has generated an annual compounded return of 13.52 per cent in the past 35 years as against 10.97 per cent of the Nasdaq, 7.9 per cent of Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and 7 per cent of Germany’s DAX. In absolute terms, the Sensex has gained 8,371 per cent since 1986 compared with 3,719 per cent of the Nasdaq, 1,649 per cent of the Dow Jones Industrial, 1,330 per cent of Hang Seng. Indonesia, an emerging market peer, performed better than India in this period. “Indices, like the Sensex, have been observed to grow at an amplified rate versus the GDP,” said Anand Dalmia, co-founder, Fisdom. “India’s GDP grew from $249 billion in 1986 to $2.9 trillion last year. As the government envisions a $5 trillion economy over the next five years, indices can be expected to surge significantly in the next couple of years.” Sensex, the index of the 30 largest stocks, made its debut in 1986 with 1979 set as its base year. The country’s GDP contracted by more than 5 per cent in 1979, the first time after Independence. The GDP rose since then for more than four decades. The outperformance happened despite the Indian market logging modest returns last five years. “India has been a market with extremely poor returns for the last five-six years at 5-6 per cent, which is lower than the historical average of 15 per cent,” said Shankar Sharma, ViceChairman, First Global. 80397256
Categories: Business News

RBI withdraws circulars on excess pension recovery

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
Mumbai: The Reserve Bank on Thursday said rules regarding recovery of excess or wrong pensions are being flouted, and withdrew three circulars concerning the same. The RBI asked banks to seek guidance from respective pension sanctioning authorities regarding the process to be followed for recovery of excess pension paid to the pensioners. "It has been brought to the notice of RBI that the recovery of excess/wrong pension payments from the pensioners are being made in a manner that is not in keeping with the extant guidelines/Court orders," a central bank notification said. After examining the issue, the RBI decided to withdraw three circulars issued by its department of government and bank accounts in 1991 and 2016 from Thursday itself. If excess payments are due to be made to the government for excess/wrong pension payout, banks may be guided by the guidelines laid down in circulars released in 2009 and 2015. "Agency banks are again advised that, where excess pension payment has arisen on account of mistakes committed by the bank, the amount paid in excess should be refunded to the Government in lumpsum immediately after detection of the same and without waiting for recovery of any amount from the pensioners," it said.
Categories: Business News

Vaccine hesitancy 39% in Delhi-NCR

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
New Delhi: COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is as high as 39 per cent in the Delhi-NCR with about one-fifth of the respondents saying that they will not take the jab, according to a telephonic survey conducted by the NCAER. The government launched the world's biggest vaccination drive on January 16 to protect people from COVID-19. The findings of the fourth round of the Delhi-NCR Coronavirus Telephone Survey (DCVTS-4) conducted by the economic think-tank NCAER showed that about 20 per cent respondents were certain about not taking the vaccine. Of this, 22.4 per cent were from rural areas and 17.5 per cent from urban locations. The survey further showed that an additional 4 per cent of respondents said they would not take the jab as they are already infected, while about 15 per cent said they were unsure about taking the vaccine. "Combining all these three categories, one can argue that at this current time point, vaccine hesitancy is quite high (39 per cent) in Delhi-NCR," the NCAER release said. The DCVTS-4, launched on December 23, 2020 and completed on January 4, 2021, is based on responses from 3,168 rural and urban households from the national capital region. The survey also revealed that less educated (0-4 years of complete education) respondents were more hesitant to take vaccines (52 per cent). "Improved trust in the vaccine development and approval process as well as overall trust in the government health systems may play an important role in reducing vaccine hesitancy," the NCAER release said. On the question of willingness of people to pay for vaccine, about 41 respondents felt that the vaccine should be provided free either by the government or their employer. An additional 14 per cent said they will not pay more than Rs 500. The proportion of respondents expecting free vaccine is significantly higher among respondents from poor economic status (48 per cent) and casual wage workers (51 per cent). Interestingly, about a similar proportion of people (40 per cent) expressed their willingness to pay as much as required for two doses of the vaccine. Understandably, this proportion was higher (45 per cent) among respondents from rich households, the survey showed. With regard to the educational experience of children during the pandemic, the survey said about 37 per cent of the children were not offered online classes taught by teachers from the school, while 30 per cent children were not provided recorded lessons or online learning videos by teachers. "An estimated 25 per cent children were neither offered online classes nor received any recorded lessons from school during the period when remote learning was the norm," the survey revealed. Significantly, more children in rural areas (45 per cent) were not offered online classes relative to 25 per cent in urban locations. Also, when online classes were offered, about 62 per cent children attended classes regularly (48 per cent in rural areas and 75 per cent in urban areas), it said adding that "for the remaining children, lack of access to laptop or smartphone seems to be a major impediment." Children's education during the pandemic seems to be affected not only by technological challenges, but also due to lack of proper management at the school level, the NCAER said.
Categories: Business News

Biden cheers up Indians in USA

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
New Delhi: US President Joe Biden signed half a dozen executive orders on Wednesday to reverse several hard line immigration policies put in place by his predecessor Donald Trump, a move that will benefit the Indians. Hours after his inauguration, Biden also sent an immigration bill to Congress that proposes opening a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants living in the US unlawfully. Biden's measures are expected to bring cheers to 741,000 H1-B Visa holders, their spouses and families, besides 200,000 students. The bill proposes to eliminate the per country cap for employment-based green cards, a move that would benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian IT professionals in the US, whose current wait period for legal permanent residency runs into several decades.Called the US Citizenship Act of 2021, the legislation modernises the immigration system, according to a source. It prioritises keeping families together, grows the country's economy, responsibly manages the border with smart investments, addresses the root causes of migration from Central America, and also ensures that the US remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution, according to informed sources. The bill creates a roadmap to citizenship for a population that lives and works in the US. It provides an immediate pathway to green cards for individuals who meet certain criteria as they were dreamers or have been recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by recapturing unused visas to clear the backlog, eliminating the lengthy waits, and increases their per country visa caps. It also eliminates the bars and other provisions that have kept families apart. Sources informed that the bill also clears employment-based immigration backlogs by reducing those backlogs altogether, eliminating the per country criteria. It makes it easier for graduates of US universities with advanced degrees, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to stay in the US. It also improves access to green cards for workers from the low wage sectors. The bill also includes the No Ban Act that prohibits discrimination based on religion and limits presidential authority to issue future bans. Indian IT professionals, most of whom are highly skilled and come to the US mainly on the H-1B work visas, are the worst sufferers of the current immigration system, which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of the coveted green card or permanent legal residency, sources said. Post the November election outcome, a document of the Biden transition had said he will reform the visa system that has kept so many Indian families in waiting for too long. This bill is Biden's vision to fix the immigration system once and for all. But it's only the US Congress that can provide immigrants with a path to citizenship.
Categories: Business News

SBI Cards Q3 profit plunges 52% to Rs 210 cr

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
SBI Cards and Payment Services Ltd on Thursday reported nearly 52 per cent dip in its net profit to Rs 210 crore in the third quarter ended December 2020, on higher provisioning.The pure-play credit card company, promoted by SBI, had posted a net profit of Rs 435 crore during the corresponding period of the previous financial year.Its total income grew marginally to Rs 2,540 crore during October-December 2020, against Rs 2,563 crore in the year-ago period, the company said in a statement.SBI Cards said its total management overlay provision stood at Rs 1,113 crore at the end of December 2020, against Rs 758 crore at the end of the preceding quarter ended September.The impact of COVID-19 has led to a significant volatility in global and Indian financial markets, which may persist after restrictions related to the pandemic outbreak are lifted, it said in a regulatory filing."While there have been some improvements in economic activities in the current quarter, the continued slowdown has impacted new credit card originations, use of credit cards by customers and the efficiency in collection efforts," it added.The company said it is offering a one-time resolution to eligible customers by offering an option to convert credit card dues into equated-monthly instalments of up to 24 months, following an RBI directive in August with regard to the resolution framework."As of December 31, 2020, outstanding balance of such accounts was Rs 2,343.82 crore. The company has classified such balance under stage-2 assets and holds adequate provision against such assets," SBI Card said.On the asset front, the company's gross non-performing assets (NPAs) stood at 1.61 per cent and net NPAs at 0.56 per cent at the end of December 2020.However, if the company had classified such borrower accounts as NPA (stage-3) after August 31, the proforma gross and net NPA ratio would have been at 4.51 per cent and 1.58 per cent, respectively.Among others, SBI Cards said its interest income during the third quarter of 2020-21 fell to Rs 1,168 crore, from Rs 1,282 crore a year ago. However, income from fees and services rose to Rs 1,107 crore from Rs 1,081 crore, while other income grew 62 per cent to Rs 137 crore, primarily due to higher bad debt recovery.Of the other key metrices, the company's card-in-force grew 15 per cent to 1.15 crore as of December 31, 2020, compared with one crore in the year-ago quarter. Spends were up by 8 per cent to Rs 37,797 crore.Receivables grew 4 per cent to Rs 25,749 crore, and new accounts volume increased by 8 per cent to 9,18,000 accounts, from 8,48,000.SBI Cards said its impairment losses and bad debt expenses for the December 2020 quarter went up to Rs 648 crore, from Rs 376 crore a year ago.The company's shares on Thursday closed 1.95 per cent down at Rs 979.15 apiece on the BSE.
Categories: Business News

China, US may bring bilateral ties back on track

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
Beijing: A visibly relieved China on Thursday warmly congratulated new US President Joe Biden and urged him to heal and rebuild the severely damaged bilateral ties by his predecessor Donald Trump. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, known for fiery retorts against the US, welcomed Biden's first moves to join the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organisation (WHO) which was trashed by Trump as a puppet of China over its conduct to deal with the COVID-19. "We express congratulations on the inauguration of President Biden. I noted many US media say this is a new day in America...After travelling an extraordinary period, we believe our two peoples deserve to embrace a better future. We hope Biden will be successful in governance," she said. "I noticed the word unity has been mentioned several times in his inaugural speech. This is what is urgently needed in our bilateral relations," she said, adding that over the past four years "a handful of US politicians made so many lies and incited so much hatred and division". "Chinese and Americans have fallen victims to this," she said and asked the new US administration to bring the damaged China-US ties on the right track. "We have different social systems, development stages and historical culture. It is only natural for us to have differences. Just as Biden said democracy should allow the right to dissent and disagreement must not lead to disunion, this should also be true to international relations," she said. "Countries with different ideologies, social systems and culture can live in harmony and achieve the goal of common development and peace and development for the world," she said. On Wednesday, as the curtain came down on the Trump administration, China heaved a sigh of relief, hoping that the most torrid period in Beijing-Washington ties will have some cooling period. Biden, who in his inaugural speech mainly focussed on forging unity at home, did not mention China even once, in sharp contrast to Trump but did not offer any clear signals to fix the damaged ties, official media here reported. Trump's four years in power were regarded as the worst phase in China-US relations as the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by President Xi Jinping struggled to deal with what China's officials say is the most elusive and unpredictable American leader ever. During his tenure, Trump, a Republican, pushed aggressively on all aspects of US-China ties, including with his relentless trade war, challenging China's military hold on the disputed South China Sea, its constant threats to Taiwan and branding coronavirus as "China virus" after it emerged from Wuhan in December 2019 as well as Xinjiang and Tibet issues. Minutes after Biden was sworn in as the new President, China imposed sanctions against former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and 27 others associated with the previous Trump administration for promoting and executing "crazy moves", which "gravely" undermined its interests. The sanctions were largely symbolic but highlight China's anger and contempt for them. "These individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of China. They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a press release, announcing the sanctions. In her lengthy answer to China's response to change of guard in Washington, Hua said on Thursday that "Biden also mentioned Americans have much to heal and much to restore. This is also the same to China-US relations". "In the past four years, the US administration, especially Pompeo, has laid too many mines that need to be removed, burned too many bridges that need to be rebuilt and damaged too many roads that need to be restored," she said. "The two sides should show courage and wisdom. We need to heed and listen to each other with respect," she said and hoped that "better angels" from two sides will "surely defeat the evil forces". While China looks to warm up to Biden, it is not going to be easy for Beijing as his Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken has identified the rising and assertive China as a major national security threat to America. America needs to approach the challenge from a "position of strength, not weakness," Blinken said during his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. China seeks to become the dominant world power and undermine American interests, he said. "I think what we've seen in recent years, particularly since the rise of Chinese President Xi Jinping as leader, has been that the hiding and biding has gone away," he was quoted as saying by the Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post. "I also believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," he told the Senate committee hearing. "I disagree very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy," Blinken said.
Categories: Business News

What's next for WHO after US takes steps to stay

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
GENEVA: The Biden administration has taken quick steps to keep the United States in the World Health Organization and reinforce financial and staffing support for it — part of his ambition to launch a full-throttle effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with the world.Biden, just hours after his inauguration Wednesday, made good on a campaign pledge and revoked a Trump administration order that would have pulled the U.S. out of the U.N. health agency this summer. Early Thursday, his top medical adviser on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was dispatched to show new U.S. support for WHO.Here's a look at the U.N. health agency and its handling of the pandemic:WHAT IS WHO?Established in 1948, the Geneva-based agency brings together 194 U.N. members under the founding principle that health is a human right. Today, it counts over 7,000 staffers working in more than 150 countries.It is the only health agency in the world with the authority to coordinate a global response to public health threats like like COVID-19 — but also works on the gamut of health issues like polio, maternal health care, tobacco and sugar consumption and even addiction to video games.WHO's current two-year budget is $5.84 billion — about half that of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WHO is currently headed by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He's an Ethiopian microbiologist and malaria expert who is both the first African to run the agency, and the first WHO chief who is not a medical doctor. His first term is up next year and whether or not he gets a second could depend largely on who the U.S. supports.WHY DID THE US ANNOUNCE PLANS TO LEAVE WHO?To be clear, the United States hasn't left WHO.But the Trump administration, triggering a one-year notification process required by Congress, announced plans to leave on July 6. The U.S. also cut all funding to WHO, stripping it of funds from the country that has long been — and by a longshot — its biggest donor.The Trump administration faulted the agency for three main reasons: its allegedly slow response to the pandemic after it emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019; its alleged kowtowing to and excessive praise of China's government; and administration claims that WHO had criticized Trump's suspension of entries of people from China to the U.S. as the pandemic spread.Officials at WHO did raise questions about the use of travel bans — out of concern they might hamper medical aid efforts — but didn't specifically criticize U.S. policy. The agency has been traditionally averse to public criticism of member states, particularly one as influential as the United States.An Associated Press investigation last June found top WHO officials repeatedly lauded China in public even as they privately complained that Beijing was withholding critical outbreak data from them, including the new virus' genetic sequence. And a report issued to the media this week by a panel convened by WHO concluded the agency could have acted quicker to stem the emerging coronavirus and might have labeled it a pandemic sooner.WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED FROM THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION?The administration wants to show the United States resuming work with its international partners in health care after a largely go-it-alone approach under Trump.In his pre-dawn address on Thursday to the WHO's executive board, Fauci said the U.S. will resume full funding for WHO and maintain its staff support for it, while announcing the U.S. will join its efforts to get COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to people in need around the world.One of the key questions will be what kind of reforms — long sought by many member countries, health advocates and even some WHO leaders themselves — that the new administration might seek. The WHO has numerous reviews in motion about its handling of the pandemic and how it can change to strengthen its ability to respond to future ones.Fauci expressed support for WHO reform, but didn't provide specifics.The U.S. has long played an outsized role at WHO, including placing senior doctors in key positions and directing policies in programs ranging from AIDS to malaria to nutrition. Biden's decision to keep the U.S. in the U.N. agency may lend some much-needed credibility to WHO after it came under heavy criticism on multiple fronts last year.
Categories: Business News

'Rs 50,000 cr loss in Delhi due to farmers protest'

Business News - January 22, 2021 - 2:03pm
New Delhi: Traders' body CAIT on Thursday said the ongoing farmers' agitation in Delhi-NCR has caused a business loss of nearly Rs 50,000 crore. Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Secretary-General Praveen Khandelwal said the government's fresh proposal to keep farm laws in abeyance for one-and-a-half year and constitute a joint committee with farmer leaders "is quite justified and reasonable which indicates its willingness to resolve the crisis". Khandelwal said that therefore, now, the farmers should accept this proposal in the larger interest of farming community and those engaged in agriculture trade, and call off their agitation. If farmers still do not accept the proposal of the government, it will be construed that they are not interested in solution but certain divisive forces are more willing to create problems, he added. Khandelwal appealed to the government that traders should also be given representation in proposed joint committee. "If any agreement is achieved without taking the traders into confidence, the farm (law) issue will remain in controversy and all exercise of the government may prove to be futile. "We look for a comprehensive solution of the contentious issue, and legitimate interest of all stakeholders needs to be protected," he said.
Categories: Business News

Pages

Subscribe to Bihar Chamber of Commerce & Industries aggregator - Business News

  Udhyog Mitra, Bihar   Trade Mark Registration   Bihar : Facts & Views   Trade Fair  


  Invest Bihar