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DAO EV Tech launches integrated fleet partner programme for last-mile delivery industry

July 29, 2021 - 8:05pm
Electric mobility manufacturing start-up DAO EV Tech on Thursday said it has launched an integrated fleet partner programme, with an aim to transform last-mile delivery industry with electric vehicles (EVs). Under its DAO ZOR programme, the company said it is offering services, software and a specially designed delivery electric vehicle all bundled into one integrated solution. The service platform enables the delivery partner, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), third-party logistics and delivery companies to come together using AI and IoT to make the ecosystem of the last-mile delivery industry efficient and sustainable, the company said in a statement. "We have been constantly working towards helping the last-mile delivery industry to adopt EVs faster and in the right way. "The DAO ZOR Integrated Fleet Partner Program is a culmination of our efforts to bridge this gap and fulfil the industry requirements in the fastest possible way," said DAO EV Tech Vice-President (Strategic Development) Maneesh Singh. He further said the company's customers and business associates in the logistics sector are having real difficulty in recruiting delivery partners. DAO said that through its platform, it will create the ecosystem that provides electric vehicles to the new city migrants. Also, the ecosystem will provide investment opportunities to enable micro investor to build an EV fleet to tap the fast growing potential in last mile delivery industry, it added. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce firms are witnessing immense growth which also highlighted the deliver faster and retain delivery partners. "These large e-commerce companies are in the midst of looking for electric vehicles from the OEMs, delivery personnel from HR companies and software from IT vendors. "And, lastly, DAO ZOR will fulfil this requirement by providing hi-tech designed EVs with smart solutions," the company said. Under the programme, DAO said it will provide specially designed vehicles for e-commerce delivery, which can hold up to 225 kg of payload and cover a daily average of 100 km on a single charge. It will also offer training and enable city migrants with the right soft skills, providing accommodation and health care support to address the issue of shortage of delivery partners. For third-party logistics players, DAO EV Tech said it will provide day-to-day management services and act as their agency for consolidation of orders and provide AI and IoT-enabled cross platform vehicle deployment under the programme.
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Market Movers: Why metal stocks are rallying and what’s giving Maruti engine trouble

July 29, 2021 - 8:05pm
MUMBAI: Metal stocks are back in their groove thanks to China and a multinational giant owned by an Indian.Shares of ferrous and non-ferrous metal producers soared in today’s trade like the rocket that sent Amazon’s chief Jeff Bezos to space. The Nifty Metal index surged 5 per cent, its biggest one-day gain in recent months.The main drivers of the rally were a clutch of important developments in China, the world’s largest commodity consumer. The Chinese government has reportedly decided it no longer wants to give incentives to its steel companies to export and instead wants to dissuade them altogether.Additionally, several provinces are looking to reduce steel manufacturing capacity in order to comply with the Communist Party’s objective of reducing carbon emissions as part of the five-year plan. Both of the developments are heaven sent for Indian steel makers as it would not only boost global steel prices but also export demand from India.ArcelorMittal also had a hand to play in the spurt in prices of steel stocks as the company reported its best earnings in 13 years for the June quarter and suggested that demand and pricing environment is so strong that it can’t hold back its excitement.After months of doubts if the rally in the metal stocks was over, the sector has provided a good reminder to investors to not doubt its potential. Onwards and upwards it is then!Hard days for MarutiWhile metal companies were enjoying renewed optimism in their prospects, Maruti Suzuki India was sulking as analysts after analysts berated the company’s June quarter earnings. The stock fell over 2 per cent and was the worst Nifty performer after reporting extremely weak numbers on Wednesday. But that is not all there is to it.Analysts are now fearful that the company is setting itself up for ceding ground in the Indian passenger car market because of lack of strong new models, especially in the fast-growing sports utility vehicle segment. Combine that with the overall weak demand for automobiles and rising cost pressures and even we feel depressed. ShowstopperWhile steel companies were on everyone’s lips because of the stellar gains they posted, let’s not forget it was Hindalco Industries that ended 10 per cent higher and as the top gainer on the Nifty50. Investors lapped up the company’s stock after the strong guidance by its subsidiary Novelis Corporation and its global peers.Commentary by several global aluminium giants this week have suggested that demand outlook is as bright as it could be despite the threat from spreading Delta variant of Covid-19. Investors are fairly confident that if the global giants are so bullish, there is no reason they should doubt their own stable horse.
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Forget inflation, investors should worry if growth is transient

July 29, 2021 - 8:05pm
MUMBAI: Since the turn of the year, inflation has dominated the conversation among investors. With vaccine availability, fiscal pump-priming by advanced economies and easing Covid-19 restrictions, investors have been a worried lot that inflation will run hot as demand comes roaring back.To be sure, concerns around inflation are backed by data. Prices are rising at nearly record pace in the US led by the housing and labour market. In India, inflation has stubbornly remained above the central bank’s target of 4 per cent despite weak demand scenarios.Much of this inflation in the global economy is rooted in the decimation of supply chains by the pandemic and the lockdowns it caused. Additionally, as some economies opened up, they saw demand roar back at a pace that supplies could not cope with.The only question in 2021, therefore, that mattered was whether inflation is transient or not. Recent events suggest, investors may have been asking the wrong question all this while.THE VIRUS AIN’T DONE YETConcerns around inflation betrayed the market’s complacency that the pandemic will be more or less under control in 2021, because the world has vaccines to fight them. As the past four months have shown, the virus isn’t done yet.In India, growth has already undergone several downgrades as the new fiscal year started on a tumultuous note with the vicious return of the virus that most policymakers and investors thought had gone for good.Economists cut down their GDP estimate from high teens to high single-digit as the second wave took hold. While the second wave has abated for the time being, the risk of downgrades has not.Brokerage firm Nomura Financial Advisory and Securities India, suggested that the slow rollout of vaccines in India keeps the country at risk of more GDP downgrades.However, the more concerning thought for investors should be the lurking downgrades to global growth and, in particular, the US and China. China’s growth is slowing down given that the economy has recovered faster than any other after the pandemic. In addition to that, the regulatory purge of the technology sector means that one of the biggest drivers of China’s GDP will remain crippled for some time to come.In the US, economists are already cutting 2021 growth estimates citing the renewed spread of the Delta variant of the virus. Tuesday’s reversal of the government on mask wearing for vaccinated Americans is a blow to President Joe Biden’s hope of celebrating July as a month of re-opening.“We're cutting US growth for 2021 from 7.2 per cent to 6.6 per cent due to the Delta variant. Doesn't change the big picture. Whereas before we had the output gap close in Q3 2021, now it closes in Q4. We make a similar cut for the Euro zone, where the output gap doesn't close at all by end-2022,” said Robin Brooks, chief economist at IIF.DOWNGRADES LURKDuring the peak of the second wave in India, investors were able to comfort themselves in the knowledge that more than half of Nifty50’s earnings came from the global economy, which was having its sunniest days in years.With the Delta variant sweeping through most parts of the world and vaccines barely managing to keep hospitalizations from rising, lockdowns are returning to many parts of the world. That is a threat to Street’s assumption of 35 per cent plus earnings growth in 2021-22.
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Bommai indicates cabinet expansion would take some time

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
Indicating that expansion of his cabinet may take some time, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday said he will discuss it with the party's central leadership and decide in the days to come. "I'm going to Delhi tomorrow morning, there I will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP National President J P Nadda. This is my first visit (as CM), this will be to greet them and take their blessings," Bommai said. Speaking to reporters on his arrival at Hubballi on his way to flood and rain-ravaged Uttara Kannada district, he said after this visit in two or three days he will seek the leadership's time to discuss the cabinet expansion and during that visit things may be finalised. Meanwhile, Ministerial aspirants have already begun lobbying to secure a berth in the new cabinet. Earlier in the day speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, in response to a question about pressure on him from Ministerial aspirants, he said, "it is common. Once someone becomes the CM and has to expand the cabinet, it is common." He also said that the Prime Minister spoke to him over phone on Wednesday and wished him all the best, as he also expressed hopes of good administration from him. "When I go to Delhi to meet the party leadership, I will also try to meet our Members of Parliament and central Ministers from Karnataka on the pending projects and issues concerning the state," he added. Bommai, who was elected as the new leader of the BJP legislature party on Tuesday, following B S Yediyurappa's resignation, took oath as the Chief Minister on Wednesday. Stating that he has spoken to senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who has decided not to be part of the new cabinet, Bommai said, he will talk to him personally and discuss it with the party leadership. "I have told him (Shettar) that I will come and speak to him personally. We have close bonding as we have grown together. We were friends even before we came to politics, so I have good regard, love and affection towards him and he too has similar feelings for me. We had a good relationship even when we were in different parties," he said. Shettar said, as he is a senior leader and a former Chief Minister, he has decided not to be part of the new cabinet, and has got good response for his stand from various quarters, across the state. "Despite being a former Chief Minister, I was part of Yediyurappa's cabinet because Yediyurappa is our senior and tallest leader of the party and I was Minister under him earlier too, there was no uneasiness there. But in today's situation I'm a senior leader, so I'm not joining," he said, adding that not just because it is Bommai, if anyone else would have become CM also, his decision would have been the same. Shettar said he has made his stand known to state BJP President, the Chief Minister, Yediyurappa and Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, and maintained that he is committed to the party, as his family has served it from the Jana Sangh's days.
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'Cyclone intensity increasing in North Indian Ocean'

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
The intensity of severe cyclonic storms in the North Indian Ocean region has shown an increasing trend in the past four decades, according to a recent study by Indian scientists. The increasing intensity of severe cyclonic storms with major socioeconomic implications was due to atmospheric parameters like higher relative humidity, especially at mid-atmospheric level, weak vertical wind shear as well as warm sea surface temperature (SST). This indicates the role of global warming in bringing about this increasing trend, the study suggests. A team of scientists, including Jiya Albert, Athira Krishnan, and Prasad K Bhaskaran from the Department of Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture, IIT Kharagpur, jointly with K S Singh, Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management, VIT University, Vellore, studied the role and influence of critical atmospheric parameters in large-scale environmental flow and El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on tropical cyclone activity in the North Indian Ocean. They were supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Climate Change Programme (CCP). In particular, the tropical cyclones that formed during the pre-monsoon season exhibited an increasing trend. In the recent decade (2000 onwards), the trend was found to be quite substantial in both Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea basins. Findings from the study indicated that strong mid-level relative humidity (RH), positive low-level relative vorticity (RV), weak vertical wind shear (VWS), warm sea surface temperature (SST), and suppressed outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) are responsible for the increased tropical cyclone activity in the North Indian Ocean. It was found that RH, RV, VWS are distinct during pre-monsoon seasons of La Nina, and that favours the genesis of severe cyclone formation over this region. Environmental variables such as SST, wind streamlines, vertical velocity, and specific humidity exhibited comparable contributions towards cyclogenesis during both El Nino and La Nina phases. Investigation of the role of additional parameters such as water vapour and zonal sea-level pressure gradients revealed the possible linkage of La Nina years on increased severity of tropical cyclones. The study reported an increased amount of water vapour content in the troposphere, and during the past 38 years at 1.93 times as compared to the base year 1979. During the past two decades (2000-2020), the La Nina years experienced almost double the number of intense cyclones compared to the El Nino years. Besides, during La Nina years, the positional shifts in average cyclogenesis of intense cyclones in Bay of Bengal are analogous with the observations for the western North Pacific Ocean basin. An increasing trend in the climatological distribution of water vapour content was also seen during these years, with peaks localised over the Andaman Sea and North China Sea regions in conjunction with the increased frequency of severe cyclones. The new findings from this study are expected to augment advanced research in tropical cyclone activity for the North Indian Ocean region and also provide the scope for a detailed investigation on the possible linkages with other climate indices over the North Indian Ocean. "The impact of global warming due to climate change and its effect on extreme weather events such as frequency and high-intensity tropical cyclones formed over global ocean basins is a matter of concern. High-intensity cyclones have become more frequent in the North Indian Ocean, causing significant risk and vulnerability to the coastal regions," the DST said. The research, which demonstrated substantial correlation with a measure on the destructive potential of tropical cyclones called Power Dissipation Index, was published in the journal 'Climate Dynamics' recently. Earlier this month, another study said the frequency of cyclones in the Arabian Sea increased by 52 per cent and the number of very severe cyclones has risen by 150 per cent between 1982 to 2019 compared to two decades before that, according to a recent study. The Bay of Bengal, on the other hand, has witnessed a slight decrease in the frequency of cyclones during the same period. M K Roxy, a co-author of the study, said the increase in cyclone activity in the Arabian Sea is tightly linked to the rising ocean temperatures and increased availability of moisture due to global warming. The study was conducted by Medha Deshpande, Vineet Kumar Singh, Mano Kranthi Gandhi, M K Roxy, R Emmanuel, Umesh Kumar. They belong to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology; Department of Atmospheric and Space Sciences, Savitribai Phule Pune University; School of Environmental and Earth Sciences, KBC North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon; Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela.
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AAP terms Asthana's appointment ‘unconstitutional'

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
The ruling AAP on Thursday slammed the Centre over the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the Commissioner of Delhi Police, alleging the move was aimed at "harassing" the party leaders.Raising the issue in a short duration discussion on the first day of the Monsoon session of the Delhi Assembly, AAP MLA Sanjiv Jha moved a resolution terming Asthana's appointment as "unconstitutional" and against Supreme Court directions.The resolution expressed "disapproval" against the controversial Gujarat-cadre officer being "forced upon Delhi" as its police commissioner.The Union government had on Tuesday appointed Asthana as the Delhi Police commissioner, giving him a one-year extension on the new post days before his retirement.Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer, was serving as the director-general of the Border Security Force and was due to retire on July 31.Jha also questioned Asthana's knowledge of Delhi and policing in the city as he was a Gujarat-cadre officer.Participating in the debate, AAP MLAs Gulab Singh, Akhilesh Pati Tripathi, Somnath Bharti and B S Joon, supported Jha's resolution and alleged that Asthana was brought to Delhi to "muzzle and harass the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)”.Tripathi asserted that AAP leaders and workers were not scared by Asthana's appointment and added, "We are born out of revolution. We are not like the Congressmen in Gujarat."AAP MLA Bharti questioned the purpose behind Asthana's appointment, alleging that he has been “brought to harass AAP MLAs, councilors and the chief minister".Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri called Asthana an "honest and decorated" IPS officer who was awarded the President's Police Medal twice."Rakesh Asthana successfully investigated the Godhara carnage and Purulia arms drop cases. He also investigated the land scam related to the son-in-law of a political party chief. The House should welcome his appointment," he said.In his reply over the debate in the House, Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain dared Bidhuri for action against the "son-in-law" he was not naming and added that the BJP and Congress are "two sides of the same coin".He supported the resolution, saying the central government should not have defied the Supreme Court directions while making the appointment.The resolution was accepted by the House with a voice vote.
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Ambience group promoter arrested in PMLA case

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
The ED has arrested Raj Singh Gehlot, promoter of the Ambience group, in a money-laundering case linked to an alleged bank loan fraud of Rs 800 crore, officials said on Thursday. They said Gehlot is expected to be produced before a court here after he was arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The central probe agency had raided Gehlot, his company Aman Hospitality Private Limited (AHPL), some other firms of the Ambience group, director in the company Dayanand Singh, Mohan Singh Gehlot and their associates in July last year. The ED case against Gehlot, who is also a promoter of the Ambience Mall in Gurugram, is based on a 2019 FIR of the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Jammu against AHPL and its directors for alleged money laundering in the construction and development of the five-star Leela Ambience Convention Hotel located at 1, CBD, Maharaj Surajmal Road, near the Yamuna Sports Complex in Delhi. The ED probe found that "a huge part of the loan amount of more than Rs 800 crore, which was sanctioned by a consortium of banks for the hotel project, was siphoned off by AHPL, Raj Singh Gehlot and his associates through a web of companies owned and controlled by them". "A substantial part of the loan money was transferred by AHPL to several companies and individuals on the pretext of payment of running bills and advance for supply of material and work executed," the agency had alleged. The employees of the Ambience group and Gehlot's associates were made directors and proprietors in these companies and Gehlot was the "authorised signatory" in many of these entities, it had said. "No material was supplied and no work was executed and almost the entire amount was immediately routed back to the entities owned by Raj Singh and Sons HUF (Hindu undivided family) and his brother's son. "Money was further siphoned off through multiple layers in a complex web of group entities," the ED had said.
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ISRO launches merchandiser programme

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
The Indian Space Research Organisation on Thursday formally launched its theme-based merchandise programme with the selection of the first batch of nine registered ISRO merchandisers.Customised ISRO-theme based products can play a 'game- changing' role in creating awareness and kindling interest of the students, children and public, in the domain of space science & technology, propagating the achievements and laurels that ISRO brings to the nation, an ISRO statement said.An 'Announcement of Opportunity' had been floated in this regard, where interested agencies were invited to apply to become registered ISRO merchandisers, the Bengaluru- headquartered space agency said.Launching the programme in a virtual event, Secretary in the Department of Space and ISRO Chairman, K Sivan, said it makes him happy to see the immense interest the programme has generated in such a short time."I am certain that the products created from your efforts shall reach nook and corner of the country including northeast States & Jammu & Kashmir and take the ISRO story among the youth and kids", he said.Sivan also emphasised that the merchandise programme has not been rolled out with a commercial interest; rather, the intent is outreach and creating awareness through common products such as toys, Do-it-Yourself kits and T-shirts, among others, which kindle curiosity and serve as "reminiscence" of ISRO success.He expressed hope that many more creative enterprises would come forward to make use of this opportunity and create diverse products, highlighting ISROs previous and upcoming efforts, in a manner appealing to the younger generation, as we take the space programme "onwards and upwards".The registered ISRO merchandisers as on date are Ankur Hobby Centre (Gujarat), Black White Orange Brands Private Ltd (Maharashtra), Indic Inspirations India Private Ltd (Maharashtra), Dhruva Space Private Limited (Telangana), EENGN Private Ltd (Tamil Nadu), Imagic Creatives Private Ltd (Karnataka), Touchstone Enterprises Private Ltd (Karnataka) and Mankutimma Studios Private Ltd (Karnataka) and Specific Impulse Technologies Private Ltd (Punjab).
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Qatar's emir approves electoral law for polls

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
Qatar's emir approved an electoral law on Thursday for the country's first legislative election, which is due to be held in October, his office said. The vote, a year before the Gulf Arab state hosts the World Cup soccer tournament, will be for two-thirds, or 30 members, of the 45-seat Shura Council, for which a new law was also approved by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Thursday. The emir will continue to appoint the remaining 15 members. In a 2003 referendum, Qataris, who account for only 10% of the country's population, approved a new constitution that provided for partial elections for the council, whose members are currently all appointed. The polls had been delayed since then. Qatar, which like other Gulf states bans political parties, already has municipal elections. It has sought to burnish its image, including by improving migrant workers' rights, following allegations of labour abuse and a 3-1/2 year diplomatic, trade and travel embargo imposed by fellow Arab states in mid-2017. The new law states that citizens aged 18 and over, and whose grandfather was born in Qatar, are eligible to vote in districts in which their tribe or family reside. Candidates must be of Qatari origin and at least 30 years old. The small but wealthy nation, the world's top producer of liquefied natural gas, will be divided into 30 electoral districts, with one candidate to be elected for each district. Qataris who have been convicted "by a final judgment in a crime involving moral turpitude or dishonesty" cannot vote or run "unless rehabilitated according to the law". Those who hold the rank of minister, members of judicial bodies, military personnel and members of the municipal council cannot run while in those posts. The law limited campaign spending to 2 million riyals.
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8.72 lakh vacant posts in central govt depts

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
There were around 8.72 lakh vacant posts in different central government departments as on March 1, 2020, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said on Thursday. The sanctioned strength of all central government departments was 40,04,941 (as on March 1, 2020), of which 31,32,698 employees were in position then, he said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. "The total number of vacant posts as on March 1, 2020 was 8,72,243," the minister noted. Giving details of the recruitments done by the three major recruiting agencies for the last five years, he said the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) recruited 25,267 candidates, the Staff Selection Commission 2,14,601 candidates and the Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) recruited 2,04,945 candidates, from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
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Lok Sabha adjourned; two bills passed amid din

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
Lok Sabha on Thursday passed two bills before the proceedings were adjourned for the day amid continuous protests by opposition members over the Pegasus spying row and farmers' issue.The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill 2021 and The Inland Vessels Bill, 2021 were passed without debate.When the House met at 2 pm, Kirit Premjibhai Solanki, who was chairing the proceedings, took up the two bills.He urged the protesting members to go back to their seats.Amid din, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia moved the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2021.Similarly, Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal moved the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, which seeks to provide safety of navigation, protection of life and cargo and prevention of pollution that may be caused.Earlier in the day, Speaker Om Birla had expressed his displeasure over the unruly behaviour by some opposition members, and said he was "very hurt" over Wednesday's incident.On Wednesday, when papers were being laid in the House, Congress members Gurjeet Aujala, TN Prathapan, Hibi Eden and some others had thrown business papers of the day as well as torn pieces of paper and placards at the Chair.A piece of the torn placard landed in the press gallery just above the Speaker's podium.As opposition continued their protest on Pegasus snooping controversy and three farm bills, Birla adjourned the House till 11.30 am.After the Question Hour ended at 12 noon, Rajendra Agrawal, who was chairing the proceedings of the House, asked protesting members to go back to their respective seats."We are starting Zero Hour, please go back to your seats," he appealed to the members. Soon after he adjourned the House till 12:30 pm.Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, said the opposition has not been able to put forth its point due to the stubborn attitude of the government.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the members, who resorted to tearing papers, don't even want to apologise.
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Tatva Chintan expanding capacities by nearly 80%

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
About 75% of our revenues come from exports. Tatva Chintan is working with highly reputed companies like Merck, Bayer, Firmenich -- all global companies. There is potentially no risk in terms of having concentrations in terms of business volumes with specific customers because these are all global leaders within their own segments, says Chintan Shah, Co-Founder & Director, Tatva Chintan Pharma Chem. Could you give us an overview about the products that you manufacture and also tell us about your top customers -- the sectors and their names? Could you also give us some background about the management of the company?We have products under four verticals. One of the most prominent verticals are concerned with structure directing agents which are used in manufacturing of zeolites that are used in one of the core applications for BS-VI emission control and manufacturing of refining catalysts. In another vertical, we are producing the phase transfer catalyst which has wide applications in pharma and agro and dyes intermediates. The third vertical produces electrolyte salts for super capacitor batteries. This is also quite a unique product segment. Super capacitors have applications coming up in automotives, solar energies storage, EV batteries for hybrid vehicles and stuff like that. The fourth vertical is where we are producing speciality chemicals and pharma and agro intermediates. The company was started in 1996 by three of us -- I, Ajay Patel and Shekhar Somani. We were three fresh college pass-outs in 1994-95 and we started this company in 1996. Since then, we have grown this company slowly and steadily. I myself am a computer engineer; Ajay Patel is a chemical engineer and Shekhar is a pharmacist. Your FY21 report shows, your top 10 customers accounted for 60% of your revenues. Do you see a demand from outside this customer base which you are not being able to address?Not like that. This is a very fast growing segment where we are selling our products. We typically include new customers on a year-on- year basis and some of the segments are growing very fast. That is causing some concentration of businesses with very large customers. About 75% of our revenues come from exports. Tatva Chintan is working with highly reputed companies like Merck, Bayer, Firmenich -- all global companies. There is potentially no risk in terms of having certain concentrations in terms of business volumes with specific customers because these are all global leaders within their own segments. ET Now: Coming to the long-term contacts that you have with suppliers from pricing and supply perspective, what is your strategy?Chintan Shah: The entire industry works on advanced forecast systems for a two-year timeframe. Based on that, we know the volume demand for the current year as well as for the next financial years. Based on that, we need to plan our productions. We need to plan our capacities and that is what keeps us in the game. All our customers have been with us for more than five, ten and even 20 years. Based on their track records, we have very high confidence levels in terms of them meeting their forecasts. They have never failed us in terms of meeting their contracted demands or their forecasted demands. Going forward also, we assume this model will continue and this is pretty much sustainable based on our past experiences. You are looking to expand your capacities. When do these capacities kick in and what impact will that additional capacity have on your top line, on your revenues?We are expanding by nearly 80% in terms of capacities and we expect these capacities to go online by November of 2022-- about 18 months from today. We are forecasting certain growth for which we are expanding the capacities. These capacities will come into play from early December of 2022. Could you take us through your margins numbers and also are these margins sustainable going ahead?The margins have grown over the last three years. They are on our numbers from 2019, 2020, 2021 and we expect these margins to sustain at these levels. It is pretty much sustainable because the products we produce have very few players globally in those segments. There are also means and ways wherein there are possibilities to go into backward integrations and to do a little process improvisations which we continuously keep on doing in our R&D labs. That helps us maintain the profit margins. Let us talk about your experience in the past. Have you actually seen price movements on the raw material front and currently, are you seeing an increase in your prices?That is a norm. In the early Covid times last year, prices of some of the key raw materials nearly doubled. By virtue of having a very healthy relationship with the customer and the kind of product portfolio that we are into, we were able to convince them and passed on the price increases. Thus we are able to maintain the margins. One advantage of having a broader investor base in your company is that they bring additional perspective. Did your anchor investors bring up any concerns?Not really. One of the key concerns was whether the auto emission catalyst business will fade off, but that is not a real concern because most of the business that comes in this segment are coming from large vehicles -- heavy duty trucks and heavy duty buses and commercial vehicles and this segment so far has nothing to do with electrifications or electric vehicles. We are talking of only cars going into electric modes. Almost 85% of the business comes from these vehicles. In order to offset the potential EV threat in future, we also have products in the EV battery segment area which can mitigate this risk in future if at all that comes into existence.
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Ratan Tata shares JRD's dream of a Tata car

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
Another year passed by, and Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata shared one of his fond memories with mentor and friend Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (JRD) Tata on the latter's 117th birth anniversary.The 81-year-old businessman took a trip down memory lane and revealed JRD's dream of producing a 'Tata' car some day. He also revealed that late Tata Motors architect, Sumant Moolgaokar, was also a part of the 'Tata' car dream."One of Jeh’s many dreams became a reality. On that day, TELCO too achieved another dream for India," he wrote on Instagram.Tata shared an image with the late industrialist which was taken at the launch of the Tata Estate at its Pune plant. View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ratan Tata (@ratantata)

The octogenarian had taken over the reins of Tata Sons when JRD decided to step down in 1991 and named Tata the successor.The two shared a special bond, despite not being related by blood. Tata also had an adorable name for JRD, Jeh. Tata had once mentioned on social media that the duo spent a lot of time together during the last few years of his life at work and at home.Last year on the same day, the Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus remembered the good ol' days with JRD, sharing a deep passion and interest for aviation. View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ratan Tata (@ratantata)

From founder’s day to death anniversary, the billionaire tycoon regularly pays tribute to JRD on Instagram.
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MFs push flexicap funds amid rich valuations

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
Mumbai: As rich share valuations make it tough for fund managers to follow a strait jacketed investing approach, mutual funds are calling for investments into an equity product category with fewer restrictions. Some fund houses have launched or are in the process of launching flexicap schemes, a new category introduced by the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) in November 2020 that gives a free hand to fund managers to invest across large-, mid- or small-cap stocks with fewer restrictions. All other categories of equity mutual funds have restrictions on the universe of stocks in which a fund manager can invest.While the recently concluded new fund offer (NFO) of ICICI Prudential Flexi Cap Fund mopped up Rs 10,000 crore — the highest fundraising ever — the NFO of Nippon India Flexi Cap Fund is currently open. Mahindra Manulife Flexi Cap Yojana will open later this week while ITI Mutual recently filed an offer document with market regulator Sebi to launch a product in the category.“This is one category among the equity schemes which is the most flexible among the equity scheme offerings as it allows the corpus to be deployed across large, mid and small caps based on the relative attractiveness of these individual pockets,” said S Naren, chief investment officer, ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund. The flexicap category is the second largest category in the equity mutual fund space with assets of Rs 1.75 lakh crore, out of the total of Rs11.1 lakh crore that equity mutual funds manage. Industry players said the flexicap category could emerge as the biggest segment in the equity fund categories.HDFC Mutual and DSP Mutual have been of late showcasing the 25-year track record of their flexicap schemes. “Through our old fund offer (OFO), we are re-introducing our flexicap fund that is agnostic to market caps but focused on good companies that grow market share, profits, cash flows year on year,” says Kalpen Parekh, CEO, DSP Mutual Fund.Financial planners said investors who believe in keeping only up to five schemes in their portfolio should opt for a flexicap fund. “A minimalist investor who has a long term view should opt for this category as it gives the fund manager the flexibility to move across market capitalisation with no restrictions,” said Amol Joshi, founder, Plan Rupee. 84839708
Categories: Business News

Antony Blinken on China's aggression, repression

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
On his first visit to India, US secretary of state Antony Blinken sat down for a conversation with Indrani Bagchi on the Quad, the future of Afghanistan and the US-India priorities going forward. Excerpts from the interview:Where are we on the Quad? what have we accomplished with working groups?Well, first, we had the first ever leaders level meeting of the quad. That was in and of itself, very significant, because it just underscored the importance that the four countries India, the United States, Japan, and Australia attach to the quad. And what we've achieved already is bringing together four like-minded democracies in common purpose to deal with some of the most important problems and challenges facing our countries and in fact, facing the region, and even the world, starting with Covid-19. And a commitment to work together to finance, produce and distribute millions of vaccines.Has there been any progress on the vaccine front?Yeah, I think we're making we're making progress, and when the leaders get together next they'll be able to assess that. Of course, Covid-19 remains a huge challenge for for all of us. Since the first virtual leaders meeting, the second wave hit India. I'm proud that the United States was able to come to India assistance as India came to our assistance early during the pandemic, when we had real challenges.We’ve seen reports of the US proposing a digital services agreement among countries. Could you tell us a little more about it?We’re doing work in a wide variety of areas to include not just Covid-19, on the climate crisis, on infrastructure, on maritime security, as well as on emerging technologies. And that includes the digital space.84846926How do you see the China challenge? Indians have shed blood so we see it in a certain way. Can you describe the China challenge in the way you see it?For the United States, in a way as for India, it's both one of the most consequential and most complicated relationships that we have. I think we've seen unfortunately, the government in Beijing act more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad. In recent years, that posed a challenge for all of us. We see a relationship that is in parts adversarial, in parts competitive and also in parts cooperative.I think what we found is that the best, most effective way to engage China is working with other countries that are similarly situated, and that face similar challenges. India, of course, is a strong partner for the United States in this respect. 84845951US secretary of state Antony Blinken sat down for a conversation with Indrani Bagchi Do you think the era of cooperation with China is over?No. I think the relationship has different elements in it. Cooperation remains one of them, because on some issues, it's profoundly in our mutual interest to to cooperate — climate may be the best example. That's an issue that is important to all of us.As you withdraw from Afghanistan, do you think it affects the US credibility as a as a partner? Second, for 20 years, women have had a good run in Afghanistan. Do you think we are sort of leaving them to the wolves?It's been 20 years, we have to remember why we went to Afghanistan in the first place. It was because we were attacked on 9/11. We went to do justice to those who attacked us and to try to make sure that it couldn't happen again. And we've largely succeeded in that effort. Osama bin Laden was brought to justice 10 years ago, and Al Qaeda in terms of its capacity to do that again, from Afghanistan, that's been vastly diminished.It's now 20 years, a trillion dollars later and more than 4500 American soldiers who have lost their lives. Afghanistan ultimately has to be able to shape its own future. But with our support. Even as we withdraw our forces, we are staying very much engaged in Afghanistan, with a strong embassy, with programs to support women and girls, economic development, humanitarian assistance, and the security forces. We’re remaining very much engaged also, with our diplomacy, because the only resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan is at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield.Pakistan continues to support the Taliban. Are we seeing the same effect in Afghanistan today that we saw for the last 20 years?Pakistan has a vital role to play in using its influence with the Taliban, to do whatever it can to make sure that the Taliban does not seek to take the country by force. 84842981 What are your priority areas with India? When do we expect a presidential visit?I can't put a date on it. But I know that President Biden will very much look forward to visiting India, and similarly to having Prime Minister Modi in the United States. But no date yet.In terms of priorities, the relationship is both so wide and so deep. There are, as we discussed today, for several hours with foreign minister Jaishankar, a multiplicity of places where we're working together.But I would say, again, we're focused on Covid. Together, we're focused on climate, on the role of emerging technologies. But also on strengthening our trade and investment relationship, bringing our scientists and technologists and innovators together, strengthening people-to-people ties.We look forward to welcoming nearly 70,000 Indian students to the United States for this next semester. So it's incredibly broad. And what we've seen over the last 20-25 years, through different administrations in both countries, is a relationship that's only gotten stronger and deeper, especially in last one year.India will probably take delivery of S-400 from Russia later this year. How would that impact US-India relations?Well, we have our laws, we will apply our laws, we shared our concerns with India, about this. But I'm not going to get ahead of myself. We'll see how things evolve in the coming months.
Categories: Business News

Can China, United States talk with rising tensions?

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
As America’s second most senior diplomat met her Chinese counterpart this week to reassure Beijing that the United States did not seek confrontation, the People’s Liberation Army Navy was preparing one of its most realistic beach landing drills in recent history.Chinese state television said the latest exercises included drones, amphibious assault vehicles, self-propelled artillery and multi-barrel rocket launchers. According to the South China Morning Post, China has held 20 naval exercises aimed at capturing islands in the first half of 2021, compared to just 13 in the whole of 2020.Foreign analysts disagree over whether such drills truly presage conflict, potentially over Taiwan. Earlier this year, China's President Xi Jinping said the island, which Beijing has long regarded as a rogue province, “must and will” return to mainland control.What is not in doubt however, is that almost across the board China is adopting increasingly coercive tactics to get its way with allies, adversaries and those it views as in between. It’s a dynamic the United States and its regional and global partners have yet to find a strategy to manage.U.S. officials had hoped this week’s meeting between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin would mark a turning point in relations after a tense meeting in Alaska earlier this year.Ideally, they hoped it would also be a step towards a bilateral meeting between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden – but talk of any such meeting was nowhere to be found amongst comments issued by both sides, suggesting it was either rejected or barely discussed.CONFRONTATION OR CONTAINMENTInstead, they were confronted with a list of aggressive Chinese demands – including that the United States and allies revoke sanctions on Communist Party officials, visa bans on Chinese students and limitations on the activities of China’s Confucian institutes, as well as cutting back on criticism of Beijing’s human rights record, particularly in Hong Kong and with its Uighur Muslim minority.U.S. officials had hoped Beijing could be persuaded to separates the issues on which it disagrees with Washington – such as the South China Sea and human rights – from others on which the two nations might work together, particularly climate ahead of November’s COP-26 summit in Scotland. The language of Chinese officials and media, however, could scarcely have been blunter.In his post-meeting comments, Vice Foreign Minister Xie accused the United States of “coercive diplomacy” and suggested Washington was in no position to deliver lectures on human rights given that it was once engaged in “genocide against Native Americans”. Sherman described the meeting in somewhat measured terms, calling it “frank and open”.It was a far cry from the early weeks of the Biden administration, when China appeared to hold some hope that relations might improve after deteriorating dramatically under Donald Trump.ASIA PIVOTSherman’s visit, however, was only one part of a three-pronged U.S. diplomatic offensive this week in Asia, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visiting Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam while Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited India.In a lecture in Singapore, Austin warned that China’s actions threaten the sovereignty of other regional nations, saying Washington was committed to “building partnerships that guarantee the vital interests of all nations”. While such words might reassure those in the region who had worried the Biden administration might ignore Asia given its more domestic focus, Chinese media described them as a U.S. attempt to build an “anti-China coalition”.There is, of course, some truth in that. Washington has worked hard to corral regional powers as one of the central players in the U.S.-India-Australia-Japan “Quad” as well as having multiple formal and informal agreements with other regional nations.Austin also delivered some of Washington’s strongest comments yet on commitment to Taiwan, saying the United States “would not flinch” from building the island’s ability to defend itself. U.S. defence publications have reported on recent war games suggesting U.S. forces might lose any war with China to defend Taiwan, with military leaders increasingly focused on that potential conflict as Biden withdraws troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.On artificial intelligence, cyber security and access to natural resources such as rare earths, there is further real nervousness in Washington that China may be drawing ahead, although assessing the true situation is rather harder.Ultimately, the problem may lie in fundamentally irreconcilable agendas. For all China’s protestations that it does not seek global dominance, it unambiguously views itself as a rising power with the right to do as it wishes – most particularly when it comes to its own population and immediate geographic neighbourhood, including reasserting control over Taiwan.Neither are areas where the United States believes it could or should back down. That makes trust between Washington and Beijing almost impossible to achieve – but somehow, both should realise they must keep talking.Peter Apps is a writer on international affairs, globalisation, conflict and other issues
Categories: Business News

As growth returns, mid, smallcaps may outperform

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
If our thesis on growth coming back works out, generally mid and small caps will have more operating and financial leverage. India has been growing below potential for almost seven, eight years now and that phase has led to the largecap space becoming dominated by defensive business models, whether it is staples or pharma, IT etc. Now if growth comes back, the mid and small cap space will get another leg to outperform, says Manish Gunwani, CIO-Equity Investments, Nippon India MF Why are markets not giving you clear signals? Three months ago the scare was inflation, inflation, inflation. Now given the bond yield rally in the US market, the fear is all about growth. Markets need to make up their mind. Why is that not happening?You are correct. This is probably the biggest dilemma in the market today that equities and bonds globally are behaving very differently. Bond yields in the US have got down 40-50 bps whereas equities, even cyclical stocks have corrected a bit. Our base case is that this US bond yield fall is just the correction because it went up from 0.5 to 1.6-1.7 fairly quickly. I know 30-40 bps is too large to be just a minor correction but clearly the logic seems to be still that a lot of regions are opening up. Vaccinations, if not working on cases, definitely in terms of death rates and hospitalisation rates, are working. The base case has to be that the emerging market like India and Brazil which got affected by the second wave has joined the growth party and global growth should be strong. We are going with the view that there is a fairly perfect macro combination. There is strong global growth, low interest rates -- both nominal and real -- in India. There is consumption and pent-up demand of 15 months and pent-up demand for capex of seven-eight years. There is a banking system which is cleaned out of most of the issues. Growth seems a better bet than deflation at this point of time. Of course, you want to be nimble and monitor whether the US bond yields fall more. I cannot see anything to be pessimistic about growth. The real time data on global growth is quite strong. So I would still go with the view that both global growth and India growth in particular, will revive. There are two pockets – one where there is stress and second where there is excitement. IT stocks have gone gangbusters and pharma stocks have gone through the floor. Are markets right in assuming that pharma companies will have a drop in the earnings?Overall, we are not very hot on pharma in the sense that the stock did very well in 2020. In the immediate aftermath of the first Covid wave, most of the stocks doubled or tripled. Now the US generic pricing pressures have revived. On the domestic side, growth is okay. Adjusted for Covid, if you see five-year growth, even domestic growth has not been great. Online pharmacy has got diagnostics, hospital chain today is seen as a visible play on pharmacy and diagnostics. So there is a lot of churn going around. I do not think there is a big cycle unless they correct a lot. Maybe there is too much pessimism about US generic prices. We can look at them as a big upside play but at this point we are neutral-ish on the whole space. When you see the success of Zomato, it makes you wonder because traditional investors always look at cash flow and dividend yield. When you stick to that old form of valuing, then are we missing on something exciting and new. When FAANG stocks went public, question marks were raised about Amazon, Facebook and Netflix. But today, at least the first two are a trillion dollar market cap companies!I agree. A lot of people compare it to the 2000 tech boom and bust. But 2000 was about companies that did not take off. Now you are seeing business models which are changing consumer behaviour. The whole narrative on growth stocks cannot necessarily be only cash flow and near term growth. You have to look at unit economics and at what the earnings will be maybe five-six years down the line and then size it up. You could still find the stock expensive but you cannot say there are no earnings in the last three years. How can this stock be worth one lakh crore? I think that is not the right way to approach these stocks. It needs a lot of hard work, a lot of research and you have to look out for five-six years and see what happens to the EBITDA and cash flow. We have seen a lot of these plays which are working in ecosystems that are exploding. It is not just the visible business that you need to probably value because a lot of these companies will go into adjacent categories. They will do some M&A. Google had its IPO in 2004. You would not know the amount of acquisitions they did, how they monetise. They bought YouTube, etc. So there will always be a premium if a particular space is exploding. Whether the management or company can create value by going into adjacent areas or buying out something cheap and then integrating it well, has to be seen. In the last couple of months, we have seen a reversal of sorts. Pharma was doing well, it is now stagnating. For PSUs, the July series has not been that great. Do you think that all of the positives now are in the money and this is the best IT performance that we have seen?Yes, it will be difficult to argue for much re-ratings. In IT, till about one or two years back, one took the long term growth rate of industry and it was a downward sloping chart. Partially why it has got rerated is because growth which had bottomed out, maybe has picked up a bit. The thesis is that the industry in 10 years will have 2-3% growth from zero growth. So, first of all, maybe there is more optimism around that. Second point is related to the fact that IT always had super cash flows. So when there is a whole long term growth question, people have got more optimistic and that rerating was natural. Thirdly from the digital usage perspective, the demand outlook is better and there is also some geopolitics angle here with India coming closer to the US, some of the regulatory threats may get diluted in future. So, a lot of good things have happened with IT. There was some cost saving using work from home and they will still remain marginally positive. Free cash flows look good if we believe that the global economy and domestic economy is going to do well and demand should not be a problem. We also have a lot of stock buybacks. So, there is demand for the stock as well. Big return may not be possible but growth at a reasonable price for the sector is a shade better. Apart from financials, materials, industrials have a big weightage in your portfolio. Inflationary pressure does not seem to be showing any signs of abating at least for those costs that are specific to materials and industrials. Do you see profit pressure going forward for the next few quarters?I am worried about two things. Of these, I am not so worried about cost and inflation. The reason is in India, a lot of inflation is related to food, fuel and real estate. I honestly think pricing of these three big items should not have any big compounded growth rate on a two-three years basis because fuel is unlikely to go beyond $80/ barrel. As for food inflation, India has sufficient production of rice and wheat. FCI stocks are very high and so it is more a matter of policy choice rather than a shortage of production. Also, coming to real estate prices, we are positive on volumes going up and velocity of business but rental yields are down and real estate prices in next two to three years will go up a lot. So in an environment, where oil will remain flat for three years; rice, wheat are sufficient, there is productivity gain in agriculture and if real estate prices are up, I am not so worried about the cost part. We have probably peaked out. The only thing that is a cause for concern is growth. If the global growth drops a lot, then even India growth gets affected. Ultimately while top down elements are there, we are yet to see momentum in bank credit for say car sales. If in the next six months, a lot of these parameters do not show momentum, then we will have a lot to worry about. Tell us about your flexi cap fund. One senses that there is a high exposure to small and midcap stocks there. Why is that?We are very excited about this product because this fund gives a lot of flexibility and one can easily move between largecaps, midcaps and small caps. We have seen there are 2-3-year phases where each of these segments leads the markets. If one can ride those phases, the potential to create return and alpha is much more than some other categories. On the fund structure, generally we feel that we will have a bit more of mid and small cap across the cycle versus a lot of other funds. I just think that it is just going to be a more vibrant space especially given the two megatrends that we are seeing. One is the whole technology disruption trend affecting a lot of sectors from auto, retailing, power everything. So we will see new business models, aggregators, fintech, ecommerce, gaming. A lot of stuff is happening on the technology side in the mid and small cap space. The second megatrend is this whole manufacturing shift which is expanding into new segments. After chemicals, electronic manufacturing, we are seeing a lot of positive tailwinds for textiles, steel etc. So there is a lot of churn happening in the corporate space which will get reflected in the mid and small cap space. Also, if our thesis on growth coming back works out, generally mid and small caps have more operating and financial leverage. India has been growing below potential for almost seven, eight years now and that phase has led to the largecap space becoming dominated by defensive business models, whether it is staples or pharma, IT etc. Now if growth comes back, a lot of other sectors’ earnings should be impacted more. As of now, it is a hypothesis based on a lot of top down positive bets, but let us see if that works out, the mid and small cap space will get another leg to outperform. Is that the approach the retail investors need to have right now because one has got to be market cap agnostic? But don’t individual stories in the small and midcap universe tend to be risky?In terms of outperformance mid and small cap may outperform going forward. For the retail investor and probably every investor, the Holy Grail is good asset allocation and one has to have the discipline. There is a lot of feeling that the market has gone up a lot since March 2020, but on a three, four year basis, not very extraordinary returns have manifested in the market. So it is not the time to be either too underweight or overweight on the base asset allocation. Whatever strategic asset allocation one has in equities, one has to have discipline to maintain that. That is very important at this point of time.
Categories: Business News

Trafficking: Children pushed into debt traps

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
Speaking with the wisdom of one way beyond his years, the 12-year-old wonders if it may have been better had he not been rescued on his way from his Bihar village to a Jaipur bangle factory. The debts were piling up and the work, however difficult, far and exploitative, would have at least put food on the table. "By working, I could have helped my grandmother and siblings. I feel especially bad to see my eight-year-old sister and six-year-old brother go hungry....they're too young to understand the financial crunch we are facing," the pre-teen said on phone from Bilav Nagar village in Bihar's Gaya district. *Mahesh, back home after his rescue, is among the uncounted thousands of children forced to work as labourers and at extreme risk of being trafficked to pay off loans taken by their parents, grandparents and other elders to stave off starvation during the Covid pandemic. Though there are no exact numbers, activists fear the number of children in debt bondage has grown alarmingly since March 2020, when India went into lockdown, each family telling its own story of despair. "Many of these children's families have taken loans during the lockdown. Now to repay the money, they are being hounded by loan sharks. This is putting further pressure on these children to earn and support their families," Deena Nath, a social worker with the NGO Center Direct in Gaya, told . Schools have closed, online education is a luxury and in many cases children are pushed into labour and trafficked due to their financial vulnerability, he said ahead of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. *Mahesh's grandmother *Sushila Devi spells out her trauma. The only surviving adult in her family, she managed to look after her three grandchildren through her work as a daily wage in a brick kiln in Bihar. But the work reduced to a trickle when the pandemic set in and has now stopped completely. *Sushila Devi, who is her 60s, took a debt of Rs 10,000 to support her family. When even that ran out, she decided to send young *Mahesh to work in a bangle making factory across the breadth of the country in Rajasthan's capital Jaipur. "What could I do? At my age, I cannot travel long distances to work and there is no way to repay the mounting interest on the debt. Every second day, the loan shark comes and threatens me. I had to find a way," *Sushila Devi told over the phone. "No one wants their children to stop their studies and start working. I am unable to to feed my family and this seems to be the only feasible option," she said tearfully. And so it was that *Mahesh was despatched to Jaipur along with 17 other children from Bilav Nagar. On June 25, they were rescued by police and Center Direct activists. All the children have returned to their homes in Gaya and are surviving on rations provided by civil society organisations. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), child trafficking is about taking children out of their protective environment and preying on their vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation. Suresh Kumar, Center Direct executive director, said the trafficking system in India is very expansive with informers tipping off child traffickers if they feel an NGO or a law enforcement officer has gotten wind of their activities. "Another issue we face while carrying out rescue operations is that many children travel with their families and have manipulated documents to show they are adults. To locate these children who are being trafficked is extremely complex," Kumar said. The rescue is often the tip of the proverbial iceberg. After that, children are usually presented before a welfare committee tasked with rehabilitating them. Children - below 14 - are either sent back to their families or to a childcare institution. In both cases, follow up action is necessary to ensure the child doesn't slip back into the same desperate situation that made them vulnerable to trafficking. Giving his perspective, Dhanmait Singh, who works with the NGO Srijan Foundation and is part of the Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking, said a lot of children have been trafficked since buses and other public transport began with the lockdown being eased. The loss of livelihood led to several parents taking the decision to let their children go with relatives in the hope of a better future. "They are not always aware of the nefarious intentions of relatives who might sell the children once they come away from their parents. There is a dearth of work in our region which is mainly labour intensive, and rations are also proving to be an issue. These are some of the reasons why child trafficking has increased," Singh, who works in Bihar and Jharkhand, told . He said the loss of livelihoods has occurred on a large scale and people have borrowed from money lenders. This has led to them getting sucked into a vicious cycle of debt bondage. "Many are unable to pay back as a result of which they are then working for the money lender, their children are being made to work. Many are vulnerable to trafficking as their situation is desperate and to ensure they get by, they are falling prey to the trafficker's ill intent," Singh said. Gahan Mahan, 45, who moved to Haryana from Bihar with his family of six, including two children aged 10 and 12, so he could repay the loan of Rs 10,000 taken during the lockdown at a high monthly interest rate of 10 per cent, is an example of the tightening debt trap. Mahan, who lived in Belaganj in Bihar, started working in a brick kiln in Haryana's Kaithal district. "I repaid the loan somehow by taking more debt but I have to pay back the interest to the loan shark. For our work in the brick kiln too we were not paid anything in cash and it was all in the form of rations. We are not sure what to do now," he said, fearing that he might have to put his children to work. In the first increase in two decades, the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide with millions more at risk due to the impact of COVID-19, according to an ILO and Unicef report released last month. The closure of 1.5 million schools due to the pandemic and lockdowns in India has impacted 247 million children enrolled in elementary and secondary schools and added to the risk of them slipping into child labour and unsafe migration, Unicef said. *Names changed to protect identity
Categories: Business News

GST rationalisation on govt's agenda: CEA

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) K V Subramanian on Thursday said that rationalisation of GST rate structure is on the government's agenda and it is definitely going to happen.Further, he said that a three-rate structure is very important and there is also a need to fix inverted duty structure as far as the GST is concerned.The Goods and Services Tax (GST), which amalgamates more than a dozen central and state levies like excise duty, service tax and VAT, was introduced in July 2017. GST currently has five rate structures -- 0.25 per cent, 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent.To a question if rate structure rationalisation under GST needed, Subramanian said, "I think that's something definitely going to happen. The original plan was to have a three-rate structure. But I think what we have to be very cognizant about is that oftentimes with policymaking you don't want perfect to actually become the enemy of the excellent."A majority of common use items have been exempted from GST, while 28 per cent tax is levied on luxury, demerit and 'sin goods'."The GST, the way it got created with actually five rates was basically excellent because now we are seeing the impact on GST's amounts that are coming in...the policymakers then must be given credit for actually being practical enough to say, let's get it going first," he said at a virtual event organised by industry body Assocham."The three-rate structure is something... definitely important and even the inverted duty structure (is) also equally important to actually fix. I think the government is definitely seized of the matter. So we should hopefully see traction on that soon," he said.GST collection slipped below Rs 1 lakh crore in June for the first time in eight months as the second wave of the Covid pandemic and the resultant lockdowns hit businesses and the economy.At Rs 92,849 crore, GST collection was the lowest in 10 months since August 2020, when it was Rs 86,449 crore. The GST collections in June 2021 are primarily for supplies made in May -- a month when most states were under different levels of lockdown, reducing business activity.Highlighting the importance of the financial sector in the growth of the economy, Subramanian said India needs more global size banks.India is the fifth largest economy of the world but the banking system is still has a lot of catching up to do, he said adding that domestically some could be large but not large enough to be included in global top 50 list.State Bank of India (SBI) at the 55th position is the only bank in the global top 100 list. China has 18 banks while the US has 12 in the list.Speaking on the occasion, Sebi's Whole Time Member G Mahalingam said developing a credit default swap (CDS) market could help in deepening corporate debt market."We have been trying our level best, but there have been a lot of constraining features as far as CDS is concerned. This is one area where we need to work which will be completely and completely sector agnostic," he said.Mahalingam suggested the infrastructure sector deserves at least some kind of a partial credit enhancement kind of facilities and there is a need to have a look at this."I would still repeat a CDS is something which we need to really work through all the policymakers, putting their heads together to deepen the corporate bond market," he said.He also said there are regulatory restrictions on insurance and pension funds for investment in corporate bonds and there is to examine the issue.Sebi and the government has taken a number of steps to deepen the corporate bond market, he added.
Categories: Business News

Tata Power tops Crisil ESG scores for power companies in India

July 29, 2021 - 5:04pm
Tata Power on Thursday said it has secured the highest score among its peers in the Indian power sector in rating agency Crisil's recently launched environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores. The company is committed to its vision to empower a billion lives through sustainable, affordable and innovative energy, and has fared well on all ESG parameters scoring an impressive 67 out of 100, Tata Power said in a statement. It has scored 61 in environment, and 60 and 77 on social and governance parameters, respectively, it added. This assessment was made voluntarily by Crisil and is based on publicly available information. The ESG adherence is Tata Power's core philosophy and drives its business strategy. It leads its way in the development of the company's clean energy portfolio, decides its social innovations and governance protocols, the company said. As part of its 2.0 business plan, Tata Power is focusing especially on the environmental pillar. It has taken decisions towards no coal-based expansion on the generation side, expansion of renewable footprints, and development of EV charging infrastructure in the country, among others, it added. Crisil, in its recent report, announced the ESG scores of 225 companies across 18 sectors in India factoring in their track record and disclosure standards. It includes a relative pan-sectoral assessment of all material ESG parameters relevant in the Indian context and is based on information available in the public domain and third-party providers. The scores are based on Crisil's proprietary framework and are assigned on a scale of 1-100, with 100 denoting best-in-class ESG performance. The current evaluation analyses three annual reporting cycles through fiscal 2020. Tata Power CEO and Managing Director Praveer Sinha said, "It is a proud moment for us to achieve such high scores and to emerge as the leading ESG-focused company in the Indian power sector. We would like to thank Crisil for honouring our efforts." Sinha added that these scores are a testament of the company's realigned business model with new ESG trends, which are niche as well as scalable, to harness sustainable growth. Crisil, an S&P Global company, provides ratings, data, research, analytics, and solutions.
Categories: Business News

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