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Industry Lauds "Digital India" Initiative as PM Modi Vouches for Lakhs of Jobs and Crores of Investment

FICCI has referred to the launch of Digital India initiative by PM Modi a milestone “as the entire world is looking at India”. Jyotsna Suri, FICCI President, said this will act as a catalyst for attracting more investment to the high technology sector and also generate employment. Rs. 4.5 lakh crore (over $70 billion) business was pledged by companies during Digital India launch event. While inaugurating the event, PM Modi said that his government expects this initiative to generate over 18 lakhs jobs. However, government expressed concern on lack of skilled professionals in India. NIIT CEO Rahul Patwardhan said that professionals can be imparted skills more effectively once proper digital infrastructure is set up under the initiative. While BJP has said that this initiative will bridge “gap between digital haves and have nots”, Congress claimed that PM Modi successfully renamed the project that was started during UPA regime.     

New Revelations reignite Quid Pro Quo Charges against Sushma

On the backdrop of subsiding public interest on Lalit Modi controversy, new revelations have reignited quid pro quo charges against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. A letter dated 15 April 2015, suggests that Lalit Modi wrote to Indofil’s company secretary for appointing Swaraj Kaushal, husband of Sushma Swaraj, as the company’s alternate director. However, the concerned letter was withdrawn on 23April (as per statement of Indofil chief KK Modi, father of LaMo) demanded Sushma’s resignation on conflict of interest charges. Ex-IPL chief Lalit Modi in a fresh salvo claimed that Varun Gandhi met him in London and offered to settle issues with Sonia Gandhi. LaMo claims that from a common friend he came to know that Sonia Gandhi wanted $60 million for the deal. Lalit Modi also dragged BJP's Sudhanshu Mittal in the controversy by claiming Mittal’s close relation with Hawala racketeer Vivek Nagpal.     

Congress Furious over Wikipedia Changes on Nehru from Government IP

After revelation that “mischievous changes” have been done from Government IP in the Wikipedia pages related to first PM of India Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress has not only sought a “full inquiry” into the matter but also answer from both IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a press conference Randeep Surjewala, INC spokesperson, said that malicious attempts were made deliberately to change historical facts on Jawaharlal, his father Motilal, and grandfather Gangadhar for devaluing legacy of Nehru. Another INC spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi called it a game where the changes were done through an IP address (164.100.41.28) of National Informatics Centre (NIC). Surjewala pressed for filing a criminal case FIR under Indian Penal Code as well as relevant provisions of IT Act as the charges are serious and were done from IP of government of India.

SBI Chairperson Announces Massive Branch Overhaul and Digital Banking Focus

State Bank of India (SBI), largest institutional lender of India, has said that it has undertaken a major branch format change along with opening of new branches in accordance with needs of the customers. Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairperson of SBI, has said that their branch network is going through a transformation, which will include relocation of branch in accordance with the movement of habitation and catering to the needs of the clientele. To attract more young customers, focus will be given on e-corners. InTouch and InTouch Light branches, digital branches, are also going to be the focus. Bhattacharya also pointed out that most of the SBI branches are located in the older parts of Tier-I and Tier-II cities and in the newer parts there are just a few. Branches will be relocated to newer parts of the cities from the older ones, on population shift.

SC's Verdict on Regulation of Network Rates by PNGRB gives major Boost to Investment in CGD Sector

Supreme Court has given the verdict that Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), downstream regulator, doesn’t possess power for regulating or fixing network rates. Reports say that this landmark verdict is all set to unleash fresh salvo of investment in CGD or City Gas Distribution sector. Supreme Court has upheld order given by Delhi High Court, back in 2012, where it said that no statutory provisions are there for PNGRB in fixing retail gas prices. SC’s verdict was delivered in response to the petition filed by the downstream regulator challenging the Delhi HC’s verdict in favour of Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL). The tussle between IGL and PNGRB dates back to 2012 when the latter asked the former to reimburse 64 per cent of the retail rates charged by IGL to its customers with 5-years retrospective rate. Director at India Ratings and Research, Salil Garg, welcomed the verdict.

Global Rating Agency Fitch lowers Economic Growth Projection from 8 Per Cent to 7.8 Per Cent

Global Economic Outlook report of Fitch, global rating agency, has lowered economic growth projection of India for 2015-16 from earlier projected 8 per cent to 7.8 per cent. In the report, Fitch has also pointed out that they expect Indian economy to grow at a faster pace than that of China for the first time since the year 1999. They expect GDP of India to accelerate to 8.1 per cent in 2016-17, followed by 8 per cent in 2017-18. Fitch has however noted that demand scenario of Indian economy is strengthening, as per available data, and the key themes of India's growth outlook are structural reform implementation and consequent rise in investment. Reports say that in terms of real GDP growth forecast has been lowered from 8 per cent to 7.8 per cent in 2016-17 and from 8.3 per cent to 8.1 per cent in 2017-18.

Ratan Tata Invests in Ola Taxi Services

Ratan Tata, industry icon and Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, has yet again made undisclosed investment in Ola Cabs, which is one of the fastest growing taxi hiring companies in India. Just like the other investments made earlier in start-up companies, investment here is also made by Ratan Tata in his personal capacity. Co-founder of Ola Cabs, Bhavish Aggarwal, said that it is their honour to have Ratan Tata among board of investors and added that they want to learn from the renowned octogenarian and industry behemoth for becoming “a world class organisation from India”. Reports say that Ratan Tata’s investment comes months after DST Global invested $400 million in Ola. In his personal capacity, Ratan Tata has till now invested in 10 companies. It all started with investment in Snapdeal (August 2014) and latest three investments being made in Xiaomi, Kaaryah, and Ola Cabs.

PM Modi Launches Digital India Today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the ambitious Digital India project, which aims at connecting more than 2.5 lakh Indian villages with broadband Internet services.  Besides the political heavyweights, industrial bigwigs such as RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Cyrus Mistry of Tata Group, Gautam Adani of Adani Group, Bharti Group’s Sunil Bharti Mittal, Kumaramangalam Birla of Aditya Birla Group, and others also attended the event. Reports say that ‘the Information for all scheme’ aims to provide internet services just like PCOs. This grand Digital India programme is expected to see around Rs. 1,13,000 crore investment. The programme was attended by around ten thousand dignitaries and the projects announced by the CM include e-health, e-education, and Digital Locker. While Mukesh Ambani announced investment to the tune of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore, Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry committed his group’s wholehearted participation.

Amazon to Establish Multiple Data Centres in India by 2016

Head of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Andy Jassy, has said that Amazon is all set to establish multiple data centres in the coming year in India. The total investment will be worth many millions of dollars. He also said that the investment will increase to billion dollars with growth in region. Jassy went on to refer the upcoming investment in data centres as highly significant as Amazon has “grown very, very quickly in India”. Stressing on increasing ambit of investment in India, AWS’s head said in an interview that Amazon has “tens of thousands of active customers in India” and it includes startups, medium size businesses, and small businesses. Some of the major customers of AWS include Macmillan India, Future Group, Tata Motors, Manipal Global Education, and many more. Andy Jassy’s announcement comes within months of Microsoft’s announcement of commercializing three data centres in India by 2015-end.  

India Clinches a Thriller at Hockey World League to Enter Semi Final Match

Indian men’s hockey team won a spectacular game against Malaysia in the quarter final match of Hockey World League (HWL). They beat Malaysia 3-2 as Jasjit Singh Kular of India was successful in netting two goals in the last quarter of the match. First goal of the match was scored by Satbir Singh at 15th minute of the game. But the equalizer from World No. 12 Malaysia came almost immediately from captain Razie Rahim. Malaysia went past India by 2-1 as Shahril Saabah scored at twenty third minute of the game. However, the nail biting match became that more interesting when Jasjit Singh Kular scored twice in quick successions at penultimate time of the match – at 49th minute and 56th minute. In the semi final match, World No. 9 India will play against Belgium, who beat France in the quarters.

JSW Steel Chairman announces Plan of Acquiring IPL Team by JSW Group

Sajjan Jindal, Chairman of JSW Steel, has confirmed on media that his group company is all set to acquire an IPL team but didn’t reveal name of the team. However, sources say that Jindal may buy Royal Challengers Bangalore from liquor baron Vijay Mallya. MD and Chairman of JSW Steel said that their idea of acquiring a team came as cricket is the most popular sports in India. He went on to add that buying a “credible team” was important to them and not the money, as they wanted to promote cricket. During the press meet, on asked whether his group is going to buy Royal Challengers Bangalore to which he neither confirmed nor denied it and went on to say "That depends on them”. It is learnt that besides cricket JSW Sports is also looking forward to invest in hockey and kabaddi.

Indian Women's Hockey Team Thrashed by Netherlands in the Quarters of Hockey World League

Indian women’s hockey team has been humiliated by Netherlands in Hockey World League’s quarter final match as the latter cruised to the semifinals by defeating the former 7-0 at HC Dragons Stadium. Dutch girls’ fast paced attack scattered the Indian defence. Out of the seven goals scored by Netherlands’s women’s hockey team, three penalty corners were converted to goal by Caia van Maasakker and two by Lidewij Walten. Other two who scored are Naomi van As and Ginella Zarbo. World Number 13 Indian women’s team was no match before the Olympic title holder Netherlands. India was successful in breaching the Dutch defence in handful of cases only and was in the position to score just twice, when they received two penalty corners. While Netherlands will play against Australia in the semis, India will fight it out with Italy for 5th to 8th classification spots.

Army Launches Operation Shiva on Intel reports of Possible 'Fidayeen' attack during Amarnath Yatra

Intelligence sources alerted Union government as well as Jammu and Kashmir government of possible suicide attack (called ‘fidayeen’) during annual Amarnath Yatra by Pakistani terror groups, who were sent to J&K to carry out the operation. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit Amarnath Yatra every year, which has been a target of terror groups for many years now to propagate unrest in the valley. Reports say that Indian Army has already assigned around 7,500 soldiers in their latest Operation Shiva today to locate ten to fifteen terrorists, who on the instructions of Lashkar-eTaiba (LeT) crossed the border to carry out a suicide attack on Amarnath bound pilgrims. In the two commonly used routes to Amaranth, ten thousand more members of police and para-military have been deployed. In Srinagar today, Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed Amarnath yatra arrangement.  

 



US says Pakistan hasn't Shared any Evidence of India being Involved in Terror Activities

After reports published in Pakistani daily Dawn said that Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary claimed to have proof of India’s involvement of terrorist activities in Pakistani soil, US State Department spokesman John Kirby has said that he is not aware of such information delivery to the USA. Kirby made this statement when asked by the media about the truth of such a story, published in a well-circulated Pakistani daily - Dawn. However, when he was asked about reports where India claimed to have evidence on Pakistan’s involvement in unleashing terror activities in India, Kirby refused to make any comment. Instead US State Department spokesman urged both the neighbouring countries to sort out the differences peacefully. John Kirby while interacting with the media clarified that US wants India and Pakistan to resolve differences through bilateral engagements and stressed upon the requirement of reducing tension.

Devyani Khobragade Reinstated by MEA on Insistence of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar

Devyani Khobragade, who was strip and cavity searched by the US officials on charges of underpaying her domestic help that threatened to derail bilateral ties between India and the US, has been reinstated by Ministry of External Affairs and has been made director of the important States division. However, the 1999 IFS officer is not allowed to travel abroad as US arrest warrant is still pending against her name. Till now Devyani Khobragade was put into compulsory waiting after she claimed in a televised interview that it was unfair of setting up vigilance inquiry against her, inquiring how her two children got passports of both India and the US. Reinstatement of Khobragade was possible as Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar took special note of her case and opined that Devyani was unnecessarily victimised. The action comes after Khobragade met PMO officials last week on her children’s issue.