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Govt amends rules pertaining to Indian Accounting Standards

June 19, 2021 - 8:47pm
The government has amended rules pertaining to various Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS), including those related to interest rate benchmark reform. Ind AS are converged with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). On Friday, the corporate affairs ministry notified the Companies (Indian Accounting Standards) Rules, 2021. The changes have been made after consultations with the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA). Sandip Khetan, Partner and National Leader, Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) at EY India, said the ministry has issued the second phase amendments to interest rate benchmark reform and "has consequently made amendments to Ind AS 109, Ind AS 107, Ind AS 104 and Ind AS 116". "Where the Phase 2 amendments introduce new areas of judgement, entities need to ensure they have appropriate accounting policies and governance in place. For the additional disclosures, entities must ensure they can gather and present compliant information," he noted. Under the revised rules, entities are required to make additional disclosures related to interest rate benchmark reform. These dislcosures are to enable users of financial statements to understand the effect of interest rate benchmark reform on an entity's financial instruments and risk management strategy. Entities would have to disclose the nature and extent of risks to which they are exposed arising from financial instruments subject to interest rate benchmark reform, and how the entities the manage these risks. Among others, there are changes in the basis for determining the contractual cash flows as a result of interest rate benchmark reform. Prateek Agarwal, Partner at Nangia & Co LLP, said the disclosures will enable users of financial statements to understand the effect of these changes, including an entity's progress in completing the transition to alternative benchmark rates.
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HDFC Bank to buy stake worth over Rs 1,906 crore in group's general insurer from parent

June 19, 2021 - 8:47pm
HDFC Bank on Saturday said its board has given its approval to buy more than 3.55 crore shares in group firm HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company for over Rs 1,906 crore from the parent company Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC). "The board of directors of HDFC Bank at its meeting held on June 18, 2021 has approved the purchase of 3,55,67,724 equity shares of Rs 10 each, representing 4.99 per cent of the outstanding issued and paid-up capital of HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company Ltd from HDFC Ltd," HDFC Bank said in the filing. HDFC is the promoter and related party of the bank. The purchase is to happen at a price determined on an independent evaluation report, subject to receipt of necessary approvals including regulatory approvals and approval from shareholders of the bank, it said. "The aggregate consideration for purchase of 3,55,67,724 shares of HDFC ERGO is Rs 1,906.43 crore, i.e. Rs 536 per share," it said further. HDFC ERGO General Insurance had a gross written premium of Rs 12,444 crore for the year ended March 2021. The company's net worth stood at Rs 2,927 crore. The private sector general insurer is one of the fastest growing companies among the peers with its gross written premium growing at a 35 per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over the last 13 years. "The proposed transaction enables the bank to participate in the growth opportunity of HDFC ERGO and augment HDFC ERGO's growth prospects leading to long-term value creation by HDFC ERGO to its shareholders," it said. The bank has been a distribution partner of the insurer since 2009. The transaction, indicative to be closed by September this year, will require approval from insurance sector regulator Irdai and banking regulator RBI. Any other necessary regulatory or government approval will be evaluated prior to the share purchase agreement, HDFC Bank said.
Categories: Business News

Dalal Street Week Ahead: Careful! Nifty50 is in for spikes in volatility

June 19, 2021 - 8:47pm
The Indian equity market took a breather in the week gone by as it has halted gains of four consecutive weeks. Over the past month, Nifty had piled up 1,121 points of gains. However, of the past five days, Nifty retraced after marking its fresh lifetime high at 15,901 in the first half of the week. Following numerous signs of classical distribution, the headline index retraced from its top. With the onset of some corrective move, the trading range also got wider. Nifty oscillated in a 450-point range before it ended the week with a modest loss of 116 points, or 0.73 per cent.In the previous weekly note, it was mentioned that the only thing that could be potentially harmful to the markets would be its own precariously dangerous technical structure. This holds true for this week as well. Despite a weekly rise of 4.93% to 14.80, volatility, as depicted by INDIA VIX still remains below 15, the level that was seen only in early 2020. The most recent price action in Nifty has seen the index marking a potential top at 15,901; unless the index moves past this level, it will remain vulnerable to violent bouts of profit taking from current as well as higher levels.83666144In the event of any technical pullback, the coming week will see the index facing resistance at 15,790 and 15,900 levels. On the downside, supports exist much lower at 15,450 and 15,300 levels. Any resumed corrective is likely to make the trading range wider.The weekly RSI is 66.90; it remains neutral and does not show any divergence against the price. The daily MACD is bullish and marginally above the signal line. However, a look at the histogram reveals a visible lack of momentum in the markets. A spinning top occurred on the candles. Emergence of such a candle near the high point holds the potential to disrupt and pause the current up move. This will require a confirmation on the next bar. In the previous week, there were no directly visible bearish signs on the markets; all it was doing was rising with a weak breadth showing some classical signs of distribution. 83666149However, if we look the pattern analysis, it appears Nifty has formed a potential top at 15,900; the week’s low has seen the Index taking a support on the rising trend line pattern support. This trend line is drawn from the lows of March 2020 which joins the subsequent higher bottoms on the weekly chart.Over the past five sessions, the markets have shown clear signs of fatigue and some corrective intent. Apart from this, from the relative perspective, the volatility continues to remain near its lowest levels of recent months; these levels were seen only in the early part of 2020. Over the coming days, it is very much likely that the Nifty may see some spike in volatility. The prudent approach would be continue using the technical pullback, if any, to lighten up the positions. Fresh exposures in high beta stocks should be avoided. While continuing to stay highly defensive, a very selective and cautious approach is advised for the coming week.In our look at Relative Rotation Graphs, we compared various sectors against CNX500 (Nifty500 Index), which represents over 95% of the free float market cap of all the stocks listed.83666158The review of Relative Rotation Graphs (RRG) shows that only the Nifty PSE Index which has rolled back inside the leading quadrant is seen maintaining its relative momentum. Other indexes, like Nifty Pharma, Metal, and Smallcap index that are in the leading quadrant are seen paring its relative momentum. However, stock-specific performance from these groups cannot be ruled out.Nifty Infrastructure Index is inside the weaking quadrant along with the Nifty Midcap100 Index. These groups are slated to relatively underperform the broader markets. Nifty PSU Bank Index is also in the lagging quadrant.Nifty IT has slipped inside the lagging quadrant. This may cause this group to relatively underperform the broader Nifty 500 Index. Just like the previous week, Nifty Financial Services, Services, Nifty Bank, Realty, and Nifty Auto Indices are inside the lagging quadrant. However, they are seen consolidating and trying to improve their relative momentum. The Energy Index has moved inside the improving quadrant and joins the Nifty Media index that is firmly placed inside the improving quadrant. The Nifty FMCG and Consumption indexes are also inside the improving quadrant; however, they seem to be vertically paring their relative momentum against the broader markets.Important Note: RRG charts show the relative strength and momentum for a group of stocks. In the above Chart, they show relative performance against Nifty500 Index (broader markets) and should not be used directly as buy or sell signals.(Milan Vaishnav, CMT, MSTA is a Consultant Technical Analyst and founder of Gemstone Equity Research & Advisory Services, Vadodara. He can be reached at milan.vaishnav@equityresearch.asia)
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Assam CM appeals to opposition MLAs to join BJP

June 19, 2021 - 5:47pm
A day after four-time Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi announced his plans to join the BJP, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday appealed to all opposition legislators to join the ruling party. Sarma was replying to a question on Kurmi, the Congress' lone legislator from the tea tribe community, who quit the grand old party and resigned from the Assam Legislative Assembly. The MLA from Upper Assam's Mariani constituency had also announced that he would join the BJP on Monday in the presence of the chief minister. "What will they do in the opposition benches for five years? I would rather say they should join us. Since we are working for the welfare of people irrespective of caste, creed and religion, I appeal to them (opposition members) to join us and work together for the public," the CM said. While leaving the party on Friday, Kurmi had attacked the Congress leadership, alleging that the organisation has become "very weak" as the leaders "do not listen to the voice of the grassroots workers". The assembly election results are a testimony of the fact as the party "failed in all the five states" where the polls were held in March and April, said the MLA from the tea tribe community which plays a decisive role in polls in Upper Assam. "It appears that the party leadership is not willing to give an opportunity to people from the tea tribe or other marginalised communities but it is seen that people from a particular religious community are given prominence in the party," he said. Leader of Opposition in the assembly Debabrata Saikia has termed Kurmi's exit as a loss for the party. Another senior Congress leader Juri Sharma Bordoloi, who was the president of the Guwahati city district Congress and former national office-bearer of Mahila Congress, had also resigned from the party on Friday. Bordoloi claimed that more than 100 supporters have decided to leave the party with her. There are speculations that a few more Congress leaders, including an MLA, will quit the party and join the BJP in the next few days. With Kurmi's resignation, the strength of the Congress in the 126-member Assam assembly has come down to 28. The BJP currently has 60 MLAs, while its allies AGP has nine and UPPL five. The Congress, which was in power in Assam for three successive terms from 2001, has been in opposition since 2016 when the BJP-led coalition formed the government for the first time.
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Telangana to lift curbs completely from June 20

June 19, 2021 - 5:47pm
The Telangana government today decided to go for a full lifting of the lockdown starting from June 20, the Chief Minister's office tweeted. The decision was taken after considering the Covid-19 situation of the state and after consulting medical authorities, the tweet read. The cabinet had decided on June 8 to extend the lockdown for 10 days.The announcement comes after the cabinet met on Saturday to discuss several key issues, including the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown, and the effect of monsoon on agriculture. "An emergency State Cabinet meeting will be held here at Pragati Bhavan on Saturday at 2 pm under the chairmanship of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao," a government release said on Friday.Telangana on Friday reported 1417 new Covid-19 cases, pushing its tally to 610,834 and the death toll rose to 3546 with 12 more fatalities.
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'3rd wave soon if appropriate behaviour not followed'

June 19, 2021 - 5:47pm
If Covid-appropriate behaviour is not followed and crowding not prevented, the next wave of the viral infection can strike the country in the next six to eight weeks, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria warned on Saturday. Until a sizeable number of the population are vaccinated, Covid-appropriate behaviour needs to be followed aggressively, he said and stressed on the need for stricter surveillance and area-specific lockdowns in case of a significant surge. Guleria reiterated that till now, there is no evidence to suggest that children will be affected more in the next wave of the infection. Earlier, India's epidemiologists had indicated that a third wave of COVID-19 is inevitable and is likely to start from September-October. India was hit severely by a brutal second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in April and May, claiming a massive number of lives daily, with shortage in oxygen supply at various hospitals adding to the woes. However, the number of cases have shown a downward trend and the positivity rate too has been shrinking in the last several days. From a daily case count of over 4 lakh, the number of new COVID-19 cases has been hovering around 60,000 in the last couple of days. "If Covid-appropriate behaviour is not followed, the third wave can happen in six to eight weeks. We need to work aggressively to prevent another large wave till vaccination kicks in," Guleria told PTI. There needs to be aggressive surveillance strategy in Covid hotspots and lockdowns in case of any significant surge. The moment a significant surge in cases in noted in a particular area and the positivity rate goes beyond 5 per cent, area-specific lockdown and containment measures should be implemented, he said. "However, a national-level lockdown cannot be a solution (to rein in the pandemic) keeping economic activity in mind." With 60,753 new Covid cases being reported in a day, India's total tally rose to 2,98,23,546, while the number of active cases stand at 7,60,019, the lowest in 74 days, according to Union health ministry data updated on Saturday. The death toll climbed to 3,85,137 with 1,647 fresh fatalities and active cases comprise 2.55 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 96.16 per cent, the data updated at 8 am showed.
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'No proof of mock drill deaths in Agra hosp'

June 19, 2021 - 5:47pm
A team of doctors investigating an alleged 'mock drill' by a private hospital here has given a clean chit to the facility, saying it found no proof of an exercise during which oxygen supply was cut off and 22 patients reportedly died. The enquiry had been ordered by the Agra administration last week after a video clip surfaced on social media in which the owner of the city's Shri Paras Hospital was purportedly heard saying that he conducted a "mock drill" in which oxygen supply was cut off for COVID-19 patients for five minutes. In the video, the hospitals' owner, Dr Arinjay Jain, was purportedly also heard saying that after the oxygen supply was shut off, bodies of 22 patients started turning blue. The enquiry report submitted by the panel of doctors to the district authorities said there was no proof of a 'mock drill' during which oxygen supply was cut off for five minutes due to which 22 patients allegedly died at the hospital. The panel, however, mentioned that 16 patients died at the facility during April 26-27 due to co-morbidities and other issues. "Out of the 16 patients, who died in that period of 26th and 27th April, 14 had co-morbidities, while two had other issues," the report stated. After the video clip was shared widely on social media, the hospital was sealed and a case was registered against the owner under the Epidemic Diseases Act. Two panels were formed to conduct the enquiry - a four-member death audit committee and a two-member magisterial committee. On Friday night, District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh released a report based on those submitted by the two panels. Giving a clean chit to the hospital, the report said the facility monitored symptoms of hypoxia and oxygen saturation levels of patients so that treatment could be done with limited oxygen availability. A bedside analysis of every patient was done, and it was found that 22 patients were in critical condition, it added. The investigating committee also mentioned that the hospital had adequate oxygen cylinders. It was using 149 oxygen cylinders with 20 in reserve on April 25 and 121 oxygen cylinders with 15 in reserve on April 26, it said. Attendants of the patients had also arranged oxygen cylinders of their own, the committee further said.
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Japan imposes stricter regulations on Indian athletes

June 19, 2021 - 5:47pm
The Indian athletes and officials travelling for the Tokyo Olympics have been asked by the Japanese government to undergo daily COVID-19 tests for a week prior to their departure and not interact with anyone from another country for three days on arrival, strictures that have left the IOA fuming. Stricter regulations have been put in place for all travellers -- including athletes, coaches and support staff -- who have resided in 11 countries, including India, where different variants of COVID-19 have been identified, within 14 days of their arrival in Tokyo. "The unfair and discriminatory" rules have drawn sharp criticism from the Indian Olympic Association. India's COVID-19 situation has improved considerably after a catastrophic second wave with daily cases declining from more than 3 lakh a few weeks back to just over 60,000 right now. India has been clubbed in group 1 alongside Afghanistan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. "Before you travel: You must be tested every day, for seven days, prior to your departure to Japan," the advisory stated for the Group 1 countries. "Physical distancing: For seven days prior to your departure to Japan, you must keep your physical interaction with all others, including from another team, delegation or country, to an absolute minimum," it added. On arrival, athletes and officials will also not be allowed to interact with anyone else apart from their on delegation for three days. "At the Games. You will be tested every day as is the case for all athletes and officials. "For three days after your arrival in Japan, you will not be able to physically interact with anyone from another team, delegation or country." Athletes have been asked to check into the Games Village five days before their competition begins. IOA president Narinder Batra and secretary general Rajeev Mehta, in a joint statement, questioned the new regulations. "Athletes are allowed to arrive in the Games Village only 5 days before their event. Now 3 days will be wasted, this is the time the Athletes need to be moving towards their mode to Peak. Highly unfair for Indian Athletes," the joint statement read. "Where and when will the Athletes have their Breakfast, Lunch Dinner etc during these 3 days, as everyone has food in the Games village food hall where all Athletes and officals of other NOCs are present all the time. "If Food Packets are being delivered outside the Rooms of the Athletes then who will plan their body requirements like Proteins, food preferences etc and will it not affect the performance of athletes, who will not not get their preferred diet, just 5 days before the Olympics" Several athletes like weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, wrestler Vinesh Phogat and Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra are training abroad and will travel to Tokyo from their respective locations. However, a major chunk of the Indian contingent will leave for the Games from India and the regualations will affect their training. The IOA questioned the need for the regulations given that athletes from India will be fully vaccinated and will be undergoing daily tests for a week before their departure. "Where and when will the Athletes practice as practice/training areas are never empty and Athletes and officials of other NOCs are present all the time. "While we respect any country's decision to keep their country safe and secure, the athletes going out of India will be Double Vaccinated, have RTPCR tests done everyday for last 7 days before leaving... "...then why make the Athletes suffer at a time when they need to peak, once again highly unfair for Indian Athletes who have worked hard for 5 years to be discriminated against just 5 days before the Olympics," the IOA statement read.
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2-child norm in Assam for availing govt perks

June 19, 2021 - 5:47pm
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said the Assam government will gradually implement a two-child policy for availing benefits under specific schemes funded by the state.The proposed population control policy will, however, not be applicable in all the schemes in Assam immediately as many of the benefits are offered by the central government, Sarma said at a press conference here."There are some schemes for which we cannot impose the two-child policy, like availing free admission in schools and colleges, or houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana."But, in case of some schemes, say if a housing scheme is launched by the state government, the two-child norm can be introduced. Slowly in later stages, the population norm will come in every state government scheme," he added.The chief minister also criticised the opposition for targeting the size of his parents' family.Sarma belongs to a family of five brothers."There is no point in talking about what our parents did or other people did in the 1970s. The opposition is saying these strange things and pushing us back to 70s," he added.The chief minister, who assumed office last month, has been advocating a two-child norm for using benefits under the government schemes.On June 10, Sarma had spoken about recent evictions in three districts and urged the minority community to adopt "decent family planning policy" for population control to reduce poverty, which leads to shrinking of living space and consequent land encroachment.He had also blamed the immigrant Muslim community for having large families, drawing sharp reactions from various quarters, including the AIUDF having a strong base in the community.Assam currently has a two-child norm along with requirements of minimum educational qualifications and functional sanitary toilets for contesting in panchayat polls as per an amendment in 2018 to the Assam Panchayat Act,1994.Sarma also said that the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief and MP Badruddin Ajmal has been appreciative of the government's thrust on women education, which has a correlation with population control."Badruddin Ajmal met me yesterday. He appreciated the importance we are giving on women education," he added.
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Delta variant's ability to evade antibodies could be the cause of some Covid reinfections

June 19, 2021 - 5:47pm
AHMEDABAD: Rajesh Bhatt, Ahmedabad chief fire officer, bucked the general perception that if you get infected with Covid-19 once, there are less chances of second infection due to development of antibodies. The CFO got infected a second time in April, barely 30 days after he had contracted Covid-19 the first time.The later infection during the deadly second wave saw Bhatt needing 13-day hospitalization due to a severe lung infection. In the first infection, he was cured after home quarantine. Contracting Covid-19 despite having perceptible immunity against the virus through prior infection or vaccination had left many citizens in Ahmedabad and across Gujarat puzzled. And though the reinfections were not widely reported and the majority of those infected got away with a milder infection, a study by computer simulation by a group of researchers at Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) may hold a key to understanding the phenomenon. 83656886‘Immune escape not very widespread yet’A paper, titled ‘E156G and Arg158, Phe-157/del mutation in NTD of spike protein in B.1.617.2 lineage of SARS-CoV-2 leads to immune evasion through antibody escape’ currently in preprint and peer-review, claims that the changes in Delta variant (B.1.167.2) made it ‘escape’ the antibodies gained by the body either through earlier infection or through intervention like vaccination.‘B.1.617.2 variant 16 carried E156G and Arg158, Phe-157/del mutations in N-terminal domain (NTD) of spike protein. These mutations revealed more rigidity and reduced flexibility compared to spike protein of Wuhan isolate (original/ wildtype virus) … Results of the present study demonstrate the possible case of immune escape and thereby fitness advantage of the new variant and further warrants demonstration through experimental evidence,’ mentioned the study. Simplifying the find for laymen, researchers said that the variant had two amino acids (Arg158 and Phe-157/del) missing, whereas E156G got mutated on the spike protein of the virus. Spike protein of Covid reports the maximum changes as it binds with the human cells to proliferate further. These changes in the variant helped it escape the antibodies as it didn’t match the copy of the virus they had in memory.‘Our study showed possible case of immune escape by demonstrating reduce binding of mutant spike compared to Wuhan isolate with reported antibody known to bind NTD of spike protein, thereby providing insights into the structural basis and highlight the impact of the key mutations for the higher transmissibility, pathogenicity and virulence,’ mentioned the paper.The researchers advocated better monitoring and identification of the new variants through genomic sequencing to check for its transmission, virulence and altered antigenicity. The state government has recently announced genomic sequencing of 1,000 samples every month as part of its third wave action plan.But experts said that the ‘immune escape’ is not very widespread yet. Dr Amit Prajapati, a city-based critical care specialist, said that they have reported only a few cases of severe second-time infections in April-May. “At our facility, we have reported only one case where the patient had tested positive after both the doses of vaccination. Thus, the findings should be seen more as a warning that we must not lower our guards even after developing antibodies,” he said.
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Tamil Nadu ranks 2nd after Andhra Pradesh in new job creation under IBPS scheme

June 19, 2021 - 5:47pm
The India Business Process Outsourcing Promotion Scheme (IBPS) launched by the Centre has facilitated expansion of several IT and BPO companies in tier-II and III cities across the country and Tamil Nadu has become the second State in new job generation, the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) said on Saturday. Under the IBPS Scheme, Andhra Pradesh is the highest in employment generation by creating 12,234 new jobs followed by Tamil Nadu at 9,401 while remaining was spread across Punjab, Odisha, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Bihar, an official press release said. STPI, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, is the executing agency for India BPO Promotion Scheme. "In recent years, IBPS has generated direct employment for more than 40,000 people residing in tier-II and III cities, out of which about 38 per cent are women. The units have reported more than 3,000 additional employment generation in the last year," the release said. "The BPO Promotion Schemes have received an overwhelming response from the BPO industry. Currently, 252 BPO/ITeS units are operational on 47,043 seats under the scheme," said STPI, director general, Omkar Rai. Noting that the Indian BPO and ITES sector grew and was centered around a few metropolitan cities, Rai said it forced many youth from other locations to migrate to metro cities for jobs. "The scheme has helped thousands of local youths get employment at their native places and also helped in attracting investments in the regions. It has led to the establishment of BPOs in cities untouched by BPO/ITES sectors such as Baitalpur, Mayiladuthurai, Bhimavaram, Majuli," he said. On the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, he said the Centre introduced new simplified other service provider (OSP) guidelines which was aimed for the BPO and ITES to reduce the compliance burden and facilitate 'work from home' culture. The new guidelines provided the much-needed impetus to the BPO sector and are helping the industry sail through the pandemic. Several timely relaxations were introduced to sustain the operations of BPO companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
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Bengal's scheme for 1.6 crore women beneficiaries

June 19, 2021 - 2:46pm
Around 1.6 crore beneficiaries would be part of a West Bengal government scheme aimed at providing financial assistance to women heads of families, a senior official said on Saturday.The state has already prepared a database of some eligible beneficiaries, which can be readily used to launch the initiative - 'Lakshmir Bhandar', he said."We will start working towards implementation of the scheme from July 1. An estimation of a total of 1.6 crore beneficiaries has been made," the official said.Under the programme, the state government has promised to provide Rs 1,000 per month to women heads of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families, and Rs 500 per month to those belonging to general category.The state government would incur a cost of Rs 11,000 crore annually to fund the scheme, which was a part of the Trinamool Congress' election manifesto.However, the state's finance department might have to slash allotments for other departments to implement the initiative, the official said."We have to arrange for funds from other sources, too, and we have started doing that," another official of the finance department said.He said there are also plans to introduce some eligibility criteria for women to avail the scheme, including the disclosure of family income.
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Ebrahim Raisi: Iran's 'champion of the poor'

June 19, 2021 - 2:46pm
Dressed in a black turban and cleric's coat, Iranian ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi casts himself as an austere and pious figure and an corruption-fighting champion of the poor. On Saturday the 60-year-old was named the winner of the Islamic republic's presidential election, set to take over from moderate Hassan Rouhani in August. Critics charge the election was skewed in his favour as strong rivals were disqualified, but to his loyal supporters he is Iran's best hope for standing up to the West and bringing relief from a deep economic crisis. Raisi is not renowned for great charisma but, as head of the judiciary, has driven a popular campaign to prosecute corrupt officials. In the election campaign he vowed to keep up the fight on graft, construct four million new homes for low-income families, and build "a government of the people for a strong Iran". Many Iranian media outlets see him as a possible successor to supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who turns 82 next month. Raisi, whose black turban signifies direct descent from Islam's Prophet Mohammed, holds the title of "hojatoleslam" -- literally "proof of Islam" -- one rank below that of ayatollah in the Shiite clerical hierarchy. Like other ultraconservatives, he harshly criticised Rouhani's camp after the 2015 nuclear deal was torpedoed by then US president Donald Trump, who reimposed punishing sanctions. But, like Iranian political figures across the spectrum, Raisi supports efforts to revive the deal to bring relief from Iran's painful economic crisis.Student of the guide Born in 1960 in the holy city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, Raisi rose to high office as a young man. Aged just 20, in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed monarchy, Raisi was named prosecutor-general of Karaj, which neighbours Tehran. For the exiled opposition and rights groups, his name is indelibly associated with the mass executions of Marxists and other leftists in 1988, when he was deputy prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Asked in 2018 and again last year about the executions, Raisi denied playing a role, even as he lauded an order he said was handed down by the Islamic republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to proceed with the purge. In 2019, the US placed Raisi and others on a sanctions list citing the executions and other alleged rights abuses -- charges Tehran dismissed as symbolic. Raisi has decades of judicial experience, serving as Tehran's prosecutor-general from 1989 to 1994, deputy chief of the Judicial Authority for a decade from 2004, and then national prosecutor-general in 2014. He studied theology and Islamic jurisprudence under Khamenei and, according to his official biography, has been teaching at a Shiite seminary in Mashhad since 2018. In 2016, Khamenei put Raisi in charge of a charitable foundation that manages the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad and controls a large industrial and property asset portfolio. Three years later, Khamenei appointed him head of the Judicial Authority. Raisi is also a member of the assembly of experts who select the supreme leader. He is married to Jamileh Alamolhoda, an educational sciences lecturer at Tehran's Shahid-Beheshti University. They have two daughters. Raisi is the son-in-law of Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday prayer imam and supreme leader's representative for Mashhad.Uproot sedition His election win comes after he lost to Rouhani in 2017. This time, five ultra-conservatives and two reformists were approved to run after many other prominent figures were disqualified. Raisi gathered support from traditional conservatives, who are close to the Shiite clergy and the influential merchant class, as well as ultraconservatives who are united in a their anti-Western stance. He also sought to extend a hand beyond his traditional base, by pledging to defend "freedom of expression" and "the fundamental rights of all Iranian citizens". Raisi has also vowed to eradicate "corruption hotbeds" -- a theme he already pursued in his judicial role, through a spate of highly publicised corruption trials of senior state officials. Even judges have not been spared by his much trumpeted anti-graft drive; several have been sentenced over the past year. Raisi has also taken a hard line against protest groups. When the Green Movement in 2009 rallied against populist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning a disputed second term, he was uncompromising. "To those who speak of 'Islamic compassion and forgiveness', we respond: we will continue to confront the rioters until the end and we will uproot this sedition," he said.
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Karnataka, Maha to resolve water sharing issues

June 19, 2021 - 2:46pm
Karnataka and Maharashtra on Saturday decided to have better coordination and communication regarding flood management and water supply in the drought-hit regions of both the states. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and state Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a high level meeting with Maharashtra Water Resource Minister Jayant Patil here to resolve the water related issues between the two states. Addressing reporters after the meet, Yediyurappa said both the states have agreed to share real time data on rainfall and water release from reservoirs both in Krishna and Bhima basin in order to manage the floods effectively. "We discussed various issues regarding flood management in Krishna and Bheema river basins. It was decided to have better coordination and communication between two states at ministerial level, Secretaries level and at the field level," the CM said. It was resolved that a technical team will work towards getting four TMC water from Maharashtra and in return release water to the drought hit areas of the western state, the Chief Minister said. The two states also agreed to complete the Dudhganga dam project at the earliest and Maharashtra will also fund it. "Maharashtra will also supply enough funds for the completion of Dudhganga dam," Patil said in the press conference. Pointing to the shortage of water during April and May in the Krishna basin region, Bommai said since 2013, Maharashtra has been charging money for the release of water to the state. However, it has been agreed upon that Karnataka will not pay but will supply water to the drought-hit Jath taluk of Maharashtra during the rainy season. For the past three years, the state has been witnessing flood in Krishna and Bhima rivers following downpour in its catchment areas in Maharashtra.
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Ebrahim Raisi leads in Iranian presidential poll

June 19, 2021 - 2:46pm
Hardline judge Ebrahim Raisi leads Iran's presidential election, an interior ministry official said on Saturday, a day after millions of Iranians voted in a contest that critics boycotted over economic woes and political restrictions.Raisi had so far won 17.8 million votes, the official said in televised news conference. More than 28 million Iranians out of 59 million eligible voters cast ballots, the official said.Raisi, a 60-year-old Shi'ite cleric who is subject to U.S. sanctions for alleged human rights abuses, had been widely expected to win the contest, thanks to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's support.Raisi's only moderate rival congratulated him."I hope your administration, under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will make the Islamic Republic proud, improve livelihood and ensure the nation's well-being and welfare," media quoted former central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati as saying in a letter.In a televised speech, outgoing President Hassan Rouhani congratulated "the people's elected (president)", without naming him."Because it has not been officially announced yet, I will delay the official congratulations. But it is clear who received the votes," Rouhani said.Other candidates also congratulated Raisi.Raisi is a harsh critic of the West and the standard bearer of Iran’s security hawks. Accused by critics of human rights abuses stretching back decades - allegations his defenders deny - Raisi was appointed by Khamenei to the high-profile job of judiciary chief in 2019.The election comes at a critic time. Iran and six major powers are in talks to revive their 2015 nuclear deal. Then U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions that have squeezed Iran's oil income.Raisi offered no detailed political or economic programme during his election campaign, but has backed the revival of the nuclear pact, a development that would bring an easing of U.S. sanctions that have crushed the economy.Khamenei, not the president, has the last say on all state matters like foreign and nuclear policies.LACK OF CHOICEHoping to boost their legitimacy, the country's clerical rulers had urged people to turn out and vote on Friday, but dissidents inside and abroad said popular anger over economic hardship and curbs on freedoms kept many Iranians at home.Another deterrent for many pro-reform voters was a lack of choice, after a hardline election body barred heavyweight moderate and conservative candidates from standing.Analysts said the exclusions by the Guardian Council cleared the way for Raisi's expected victory.Before Hemmati's concession, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said: "Iranians were denied their right to choose their own leaders in a free and fair electoral process" - a likely reference to the disqualification of candidates.
Categories: Business News

How to make profitable sell decisions

June 19, 2021 - 2:46pm
Leading Lipper researcher Donald Cassidy says success in stock investing is not only dependent on which shares you are buying, and when you are buying them. It’s the sell decision, which is key.“Investors actually earn profits only when they sell. So they should pay equal attention to the neglected but equally important second side of the investment coin, which is selling,” Cassidy said.Donald L. Cassidy was a senior research analyst with Lipper Inc from 1990-2006. His areas of specialty included closed-end funds, mutual funds, investor psychology and behavioural finance. He was also formerly a senior analyst with a regional brokerage firm based in Denver, Colorado, USA.Cassidy is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the CFA Society of Colorado. He has often given valuable lectures to CFA societies internationally and has also served on the faculty of Harvard University's annual congress on the psychology of investing.“You haven’t made your profits until you have the money in hand — and that doesn’t happen until you sell your shares,” he says in his book It's When You Sell that Counts.(Masters of the Markets: Read up other investing strategies and trading tips from market greats)He believes fear, greed and just plain confusion lead many investors to postpone their desire to sell shares almost indefinitely, or for a very long time and by the time they decide to sell shares they would miss out on the right time and opportunity for selling.Cassidy is also the author of many famous books like Trading on Volume, When The Dow Breaks and 30 Strategies for High Profit Investment Success.Be careful of emotional barriersIn order to amass successful returns investors need to know how to deal with their emotional barriers to selling.“Because market psychology works on us all as investors, you must specifically work on learning to sell well, or you will predictably do it badly,” says he.Cassidy says in order to avoid losses, investors need to learn how to set selling price targets; how to time sale in a bull market and whether to sell or hold in a bear market.Cassidy's book It's When You Sell… educates investors on all the above scenarios. It provides guidance on selling shares profitably as a failure to offload them at the right time is a common pitfall that investors fall into. The book is regarded as an investment masterclass and is very well appreciated in the investor community.Factors that prevent profitable sellingCassidy says success in investing requires an understanding of the factors that influence the investment landscape. So, he feels in order to understand how to sell well, investors must first recognise and understand the important influences that create hurdles.The two sorts of barriers that prevent investors to sell profitably are: external and mental factors.External factorsCassidy says there are several external factors that prevent stock selling. He feels these factors provide a systematic bias towards holding stocks for a long time and discourage selling.He believes investors generally remain optimistic about their holdings and find selling stocks not a natural thing to do as it is not part of their culture. "Most investors tend to be well-off, experiencing progress over time. Therefore selling, which is an act of closing off or ending, appears an unnatural thing to do, probably one that will inhibit rather than enhance gain. Thus, we feel the odds are against us if we sell," he says.Cassidy says, financial media also plays a major role in putting pressure on investors' psychology as there is a lot of gossip and market chatter that forces investors to hold some stocks continuously even if they want to sell them.He feels brokerages encourage long-term holding of stocks as they want to project that they are cautious and act with responsibility when they are managing investors' portfolios."Brokers who practise frequent selling are branded churners. The unspoken assumption behind the hold-forever mantra is that you own the right stuff and it will forever remain such. And on a personal level we each know of someone who mistakenly sold a super-growth stock years ago and missed a tenfold or greater gain," he says.Cassidy feels selling frequently by traders is viewed as an evil and they are termed as gross speculators, and thus bad investors.On the other hand, traders who practise the ‘buy and hold’ strategy even if their investments have no profitable future, are well respected and termed as patient investors as patience, after all, is reputedly a virtue.Also, he believes many investors do not want to take the trouble of doing intensive and thorough research and take time out to study a stock. He feels if investors sell a stock, they know they have to find and buy a replacement for it which may take study time and raise predictable decision- making stress, which is simply avoided when a stock is simply held for a long time.Psychological factorsCassidy believes personal psychology is a baggage that all investors bring with them to the market which is very difficult to shed off. He feels egos of investors get in the way of successful investment results as its human tendency to equate self-worth with money and in investing, money comes from being right."Investors wish to be not merely right, but perfectly right. However, most people also know that they will not sell at the all-time (or even the week’s) high, so they avoid exposing their egos to self-imposed feelings of inadequacy by not taking any action. Holding winners forever leaves them always present to stroke the ego. Selling a stock that has done well evokes the pain of parting with a beloved pet or favorite collection, while selling a loser admits defeat and an intellectual shortcoming. Why abuse the ego when it’s not necessary?" he says.Cassidy believes on a day to day basis, events such as general-market and specific-stock price movements are so intense that they trigger investors to make wrong moves like selling in panic in one direction and buying with the crowd.He feels financial media, TV channels and the internet are both a blessing and a curse for investors. Although vast amounts of information is freely and immediately available for investors, investors tend to overreact to this excess of stimuli.Also, he says friends and acquaintances unknowingly act to thwart any contrarian intent. "Tell them you are selling an overpriced market favorite or refusing to sell during a market panic attack, and they will unleash a firestorm of “reasons” the crowd believes you are wrong," says he.Cassidy feels if investors can recognize and understand the enemies behind profitable selling then they have a better chance of overcoming them."It cannot be emphasised too strongly that selling must become a routine act—as normal in your own mind as buying. Because of how emotions like fear and greed operate in the internet age, you must become a nimble and proactive seller. Investors get paid much more to anticipate changes than to react to something that has been publicly reported," he says.Cassidy, in his book revealed some pointers that can guide investors to overcome some of the hurdles and make intelligent sell decisions confidently. Let's look at some of them.Challenge yourself and move towards discomfortCassidy believes success in investment cannot come from actions that make investors comfortable. He feels the buy and hold strategy and following the herd are the easiest approaches to take.He said for profitable selling and good decision making, it is important for investors to move towards discomfort and conduct a careful analysis on whether to keep holding a stock or not."Buying or holding when stocks are high (following the crowd because you cannot abide 'missing the action') is a comfort-seeking decision. Likewise, fearful selling in a collapsing and low market is moving toward the comfort of cash - again at just the wrong time. Good decisions involve thoughtful analysis including pro-and-con lists," he says.He believes investors tend to make decisions that are obvious and play it safe and go with the crowd but it takes a lot of courage to do the exact opposite of what the crowd is doing."Hold and/or buy when it is scariest and sell when the majority celebrate their brilliant conquests. Right, contrarian actions are always lonely and very uncomfortable," he says.Don't hold corporate winners for longCassidy said the odds of a company to dominate for a long time in the market is extremely low due to rapid changes in technologies, regulations, internationalization and competitors' position. So he warns investors against holding these companies for long as it may lead to huge losses in the future.“Companies rarely control the top of the hill for long; those situated there are priced very dearly. Holding them exposes your capital to sudden devastating loss at any sign of faltering momentum," he says.He suggests holding the stocks of a small number of mutual fund managers who are recording above-average returns consistently. On the other hand, he feels individual stocks of current corporate winners are always at extreme statistical risk of going down. "In the long run, there is no 'business as usual'," he says.Don't buy a stock without a sell target in mindCassidy said investors who buy a stock without having a target in mind are bound to suffer losses as this mentality reveals that they are unfocused and unclear about their investment objective."Your target should include all three of these: a price objective, driven by a scenario, in a specific time frame. If your price is reached, or if the scenario does not play in the anticipated time, you must sell rather than rationalize," he says.Cassidy suggests investors to not buy stocks merely because they like the industry, respect management, or agree with their social goals.He feels there should be a driver that is bound to push the stock higher and there shouldn't be any other reason to buy the stock. "The objective is profit, not good feelings!" he says.Let go of your underperforming favorite stocksCassidy says bad news for a company, seldom appears solo and is very likely to be followed by a series of other problems for the company. He says as there are thousands of stocks available, there is no point in remaining loyal to under-performers. "Stocks are not insulted by your selling them! Move on to what is working rather than sticking with the sleeping dogs or bad ones," he says.Develop the ability to sell short!Cassidy says as it is a known fact that stock prices can both rise and fall so investors shouldn't be biased and look for profits in only one of the two available directions."Shorting is not unpatriotic, morally wrong, or foolish - just an underutilized tool. Stocks get overpriced (fundamentally) and overbought (technically) exactly as many times as they're cheap and oversold - because prices move in waves, whose tops and bottoms are equal in number," he says.Cassidy advises investors to not cut their opportunities to half by only focusing on buying. “Would you fervently eschew a raincoat or umbrella because the weather is fair more days than not? Discard this self-imposed limitation!” he says.Cassidy feels if investors can keep these points in mind while investing then they would find it easier to make profitable sell decisions rather than looking for a "needle-in-a-haystack stock" that may or may not rise as long as they live.Cassidy believes an approach to proactive selling provides above-average returns by protecting capital and capturing excess returns when available. Surely, if investors can incorporate these lessons in their investment strategy they are quite likely to prevent huge losses and pain that a bear market can cause.(Disclaimer: This article is based on Donald Cassidy's book "It's When You Sell that Counts".)
Categories: Business News

Is it time for India’s own sovereign wealth fund?

June 19, 2021 - 2:46pm
India’s foreign exchange reserves for the first time crossed the US$ 600bn mark earlier this month and stood at an all-time high of $605bn on June 4. It is indeed a jubilant milestone on various counts.It is quite an achievement when we look back thirty years – in 1991, the Indian government had come awfully close to defaulting on its own financial obligations. The forex reserves then could have barely financed three weeks’ worth of imports.The country had to mortgage its gold reserves to seek assistance from IMF to avoid defaulting on its payment obligations. This is the first time since 2010 that we have a positive foreign exchange reserve after covering our total external liability. The forex reserves as a percentage of GDP are the highest ever, despite the significant growth in GDP over the years.This higher amount of reserve has generated considerable excitement in the financial circles. The two hotly debated questions are – first, do we need such a large reserve; and second, how do we use this effectively and productively.On the first question, it is important to view these forex reserves against the projected imports for 2021-22 – the current level of reserves provide cover for less than 15 months of projected imports. This is significantly lower than the foreign exchange reserves of some of more developed economies like China (US$ 3.3 tn equivalent to 16 months of import), Switzerland (US$ 1.4trn equivalent to 39 months of import) and Japan (US$ 1tn equivalent to 20 months of import).Of course, we are significantly better than emerging economies. In addition, a holistic assessment of the risks, changes in the market circumstances and requisite cushion against unforeseen external shocks, is required to ascertain the adequacy of the reserves.The second question regarding deployment or investment of these reserves has also generated multiple suggestions. Today, RBI invests these reserves only in gold and in sovereign debt. Options suggested by various financial experts include deploying these funds for import of capital goods for infrastructure development and to build long-term productive capabilities. Given the record pile up of reserves, RBI in its latest annual report has acknowledged the need to explore new asset classes and markets for deployment of the foreign currency assets.The idea is to diversify the portfolio and seek higher returns.One could derive some learnings from China, which is managing exceptionally large reserves. Beijing invests its forex reserves through two main investment vehicles: SAFE (State Administration of Foreign Exchange) and CIC (China Investment Corporation). SAFE is under the control of the Chinese central bank, People’s Bank of China. It has diversified its investments across geographies such as Australia, UK, France, USA and Germany. The investments are primarily focused on four sectors: financial, energy, real estate, and to a lesser extent agriculture sector.China Investment Corporation (CIC) is the official sovereign wealth fund (SWF) of China. It invests in public market equity and bond, hedge fund, private equity fund. It also specializes in making direct investments in long-term assets and in key state-owned financial institutions in China.The need to set up a sovereign wealth fund, with expert investment professionals at its helm, to manage India’s gigantic reserves cannot be more underscored. We need to also use our resources to invest in and to acquire strategic assets overseas.The structure of the fund management vehicle will be critical to ensure a fine balance between strategic and return-led investments. I would argue that a SAFE/CIC kind of sovereign wealth fund should be created to manage some part of India’s forex reserves.
Categories: Business News

India's roadside eateries count cost of pandemic

June 19, 2021 - 2:46pm
KARNAL, India - Asin Sharma lies idle on a cot near his restaurant by a highway linking India's capital New Delhi with the northern state of Punjab.Few motorists stop at the line of five open-fronted roadside eateries on this stretch of highway. Those who do venture cautiously inside ask only for tea and water. The restaurant's tandoor, a traditional clay oven used for making flatbreads, sits cold and unused."We are in a very bad situation and the restaurant is on the verge of dying," said the 35-year-old. "We have no work and so many expenses to bear. Our condition is pathetic."The eateries, or "dhabas" are ubiquitous in India. Tens of thousands line national highways but many are now struggling to survive as customers stay at home despite several state governments relaxing coronavirus curbs on movement.Many dhabas are family-run and employ millions, including local people and migrant workers. The problems they now face are part of a wider malaise in the travel and leisure industry, and the Indian economy in general.India on Friday reported 62,480 new daily cases, down significantly from a peak of more than 400,000 on May 9 during its second wave of COVID-19 infections. Given low vaccination rates, experts are already warning of a third wave later this year.Economists fear the sector faces weakness into next year, even if the government can vaccinate the majority of India's near 1.4 billion people. Only 6% are fully vaccinated now.STRUGGLE TO SURVIVELast year, the government extended federal guarantees on bank loans for small businesses including hotels and restaurants, as well as a moratorium on some bank loans through to the end of March. Some restaurant owners have already had notices from banks to repay these loans.Finance ministry officials last month said the government could consider more measures for restaurants later this year. A spokesman declined to comment further on the plans.Restaurant owners interviewed said many could be forced to shut their businesses permanently in the absence of further government support. Others said they were likely to delay bank loans, defer payments and sell properties if the third wave does hit. Most have cut salaries and laid off staff.Sonu Sharma, manager of Mannat Haveli Restaurant, says in normal times the restaurant is so busy they have a staff of 300, but now there are only about 50 to 60 people at work.These unemployed migrant workers have been forced to fall back on low-paying farm work. The huge job losses in the restaurant sector reflect a broader rise in India's unemployment, which almost doubled to 11.9% in May from 6.5% in March, according to CMIE, a Mumbai-based think tank.On the highway between New Delhi and India's financial hub Mumbai, Hans Restaurant, which used to thrive on catering for weddings and birthday parties, has tried to survive by selling takeaway food, but there are not enough orders, said manager Kailash Chand Meghwal."We never thought we would see such a day," he said. "Almost 80% of our staff have gone back to their villages."
Categories: Business News

'Kids may be severely infected in rare cases'

June 19, 2021 - 2:46pm
New Delhi: Even though studies have shown that children are less prone to develop serious infection of Covid-19, steps to ensure preparedness of health infrastructure and services are being taken so that children are protected against any mutation or surge in cases in future, the government said.“A comprehensive plan in the form of guidelines for operationalisation of paediatric Covid care has been prepared and preparations to take full care of children are in full swing. Both public and private sector facilities will participate and ensure required facilities and services are in place,” Niti Aayog member V K Paul said.However, he maintained that chances were that only isolated cases of severe infection would happen among children. “The information shows that children were infected but it was very mild. Only isolated cases of infection may occur in children,” he added.“Studies have also shown that children have equal susceptibility as adults, so we have to be ready to ensure that we are in a position to cater to them in case numbers rise again,” Dr Paul said, referring to the seropositivity survey conducted by WHO-AIIMS which showed that the prevalent Covid-19 variant was unlikely to disproportionately affect children.Findings of the study, conducted among children of 2-17 years age from March 15 to June 10, showed sero-prevalence was 55.7% in the less than 18 years group and 63.5% among adults of 18 years and above. “In urban areas, it is 78% in those below 18 and 79% in above 18,” Dr Paul said.
Categories: Business News

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