Modi says killing people in the name of cow worship is unacceptable

Killing people in the name of protecting cows is unacceptable, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said days after a 16-year-old youth was lynched in a train in Faridabad by a mob over allegations that he was carrying beef.

Speaking from Gujarat’s Sabarmati Ashram, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, PM Modi asserted that there was no place for violence in society.

Urging citizens to follow Gandhi’s principles, he said: “Let’s create the India of Mahatma Gandhi’s dreams. Let’s create an India our freedom fighters would be proud of.”

 

He advised the masses to refrain from disrupting law and order by saying, “No one has the right to take the law into his or her hands.”

Speaking of Gandhi, who pioneered the practice of non-violent politics during India’s freedom struggle against Britain, Modi said: “Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi have the power to mitigate challenges the world is facing today.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks come against the backdrop of growing incidents of cow vigilantism in the country. Modi arrived in Ahmedabad on Thursday morning to mark the centenary celebrations of the Sabarmati Ashram, where an event was scheduled to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Shrimad Rajchandraji- a mentor to Gandhi- as well.

Thousands of people across the country had on Wednesday taken to the streets in a citizens’ protest named ‘Not in My Name’ against the recent incidents of mob killings.

Holding placards that read: “Break the Silence”, “No Place for Islamophobia” and “Shed Hate not Blood” among others, the protesters had said they had gathered to send out a message that there is a need to unite for a cause.

Modi says killing people in the name of cow worship is unacceptable

Air India stake sale: Traffic rights, airport slots are the biggest draws

Access to the Indian market and slots at constrained airports like Delhi and Mumbai will be the key attractions for Indian and foreign airlines to invest in Air India, say experts. Bidders will, however, seek a clarity on debt restructuring and the level of government control in the carrier before making a bid.

On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet gave an in-principle nod for a stake sale in Air India. Decisions on the quantum of disinvestment and allowing foreign participation in bids is yet to be taken. Modalities regarding debt restructuring, demerger and sale of its subsidiaries have also not been finalised so far.

Despite these grey areas, prospects of a potential stake sellout have drawn the interest of various players- first from the Tata group and now from IndiGo. A Qatar Airways spokesperson said the airline can not comment at this stage. So what really is driving the interest in Air India.

 

“The attraction of investing in Air India lies primarily in its air traffic rights on international routes and peak hour landing slots. Investing in Air India could, therefore, enable the (investing) airline to participate in India’s strong long-term air traffic growth and Air India could also feed traffic into the investing airline’s international route network,” said Corrine Png, founder & CEO of Crucial Perspective, a Singapore-based transport research firm.

Domestic air traffic and international traffic rose around 23 per cent and 9 per cent respectively in 2016. Airports in all metro cities are facing huge capacity constraints and this has been a barrier for growth for newer airlines like Vistara.

According to air travel intelligence company OAG, Air India has a seat capacity share of 13.4 per cent and 10.4 per cent on domestic and international routes respectively. The national carrier has a market share of 11.2 per cent and 10.5 per cent on domestic and international routes respectively. This excludes Air India Express and Alliance Air figures.

“I do not see much interest from domestic airlines since Air India’s domestic market share and brand quotient has been steadily waning over the last few years. But there will be serious interest from foreign carriers. Apart from traffic rights, these carriers will get Air India’s customer base and good feeder network, given the domestic connectivity of Air India,” said K G Vishwanath, founder of Trinity Aviation Consultants.

The areas of concern for investors primarily relate to its non-aircraft debt, employee contracts and liabilities related to pensions and retirement benefits- all of which would attract a serious consideration on the part of investors looking to make a bid for the State-run airline.

Experts cite the example of Italian carrier Alitalia where lenders converted a portion of debt into equity as a part of a revival plan in 2014. But the airline which is co- owned by the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has been unable to downsize its workforce and cut salaries and is now facing bankruptcy.

‘The ability to attract serious bidders would depend on the size of the equity stake and how much management control the investor(s) would have in the future strategic direction of Air India. The airline’s balance sheet would need to be cleaned up and beefed up in order to increase its attractiveness,” Corrine Png said.

Aviation industry sources believe that the government may spin off Air India’s ground handling and MRO units as well as the Air India Express before selling its stake in the airline. Air India is the only Indian airline to have its own engine overhaul unit and has maintenance facilities around the country. But its MRO has a limited third party business now.

According to Air India’s internal estimates, the combined enterprise value of its the ground handling, MRO units and the Air India Express stands at around Rs 8,000 crore and sale proceeds could be used to hive off the airline’s debt.

Air India stake sale: Traffic rights, airport slots are the biggest draws

Six core tasks in 18 months: How Infosys rolled out GST

India’s second-largest Information Technology (IT) company, Infosys, was selected as the managed service provider in November 2015 to roll out the Goods & Services Tax (GST) by April 1, 2017. Infosys was tasked with completing six core tasks in a span of 18 months in a contract reportedly worth Rs 1,380 crore. These tasks covered the entire spectrum of creating an IT ecosystem required for rolling out GST in the time frame prescribed by the Modi administration.

The first task was application design, development, and its implementation. As part of this, Infosys was required to develop a common portal for registration, return, and payment services for all taxpayers, tax administrators, and other stakeholders under the GST regime. According to the Goods & Service Tax Network (GSTN), the quasi-government body overseeing the implementation of the GST, Infosys was also supposed to “build back-end systems for states to be used by the tax officials of these states”. This task, which was central to GST’s roll-out on time, was achieved by Infosys by creating the GST portal where all taxpayers were supposed to register themselves and all applications needed to be verified. The portal was launched in November 2016, almost a year after Infosys was chosen as the service provider.

The second task, classified as ‘taxpayer one-time data porting’, involved adapting the entire taxpayer data into the systems created for rolling out GST. The third task involved procurement and installation of IT infrastructure. In addition, Infosys was also supposed to put in place a security network to ensure that the GST’s online network remained impervious to cyber-attacks or other potential breaches from malicious elements.

 

Then came one of the most crucial tasks for the project that involved putting in place disaster recovery systems and providing bandwidth for the project. This was part of the back-end job that Infosys was supposed to do in order to have a Plan-B in place in case things went awry. Other back-end jobs tasked to Infosys included developing modules for approval of taxpayer’s registration, processing of returns, scrutiny of returns, assessment, and adjudication. These also included putting systems in place to ensure tax refunds, appeals, enforcement, surveys, and prosecution of errant taxpayers.

The fifth job on Infosys’ plate was to set up a GST help-desk for helping out those confounded by the new tax regime. The last task included training personnel to use the system. While these six tasks formed the core of the GST roll-out, there is one more task for which Infosys has been given more time — it is also responsible for maintaining and servicing the GST online ecosystem for five years after the roll-out date.

When contacted, Infosys said that it “recommended a conversation with GSTN”. A communication sent to GSTN did not elicit a response till the time of publication.

Six core tasks in 18 months: How Infosys rolled out GST

Tap equity market: Govt tells 5 PSU banks

The central government has asked five state-owned banks to raise capital from the markets to meet their requirements for the fiscal year 2017-18. The Department of Financial Services has asked the relatively strong public sector banks (PSBs) — Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda (BoB), Indian Bank, Vijaya Bank, and Syndicate Bank — with a fairly good market capitalisation to not depend on the government’s recapitalisation plan.

“We have asked five strong banks that have consistently performed well, to raise funds on their own from the market. We are encouraging them to tap the market as their market capitalisation is fairly good,” said a government official.

“Three banks — Vijaya Bank, Syndicate Bank, and Indian Bank — are small but with good fundamentals and a good market price. We have encouraged them to tap the market,” the official said.

 

The Budget has allocated Rs 10,000 crore for the recapitalisation of state-owned banks as part of Indradhanush, the seven-pronged strategy to revive PSBs.

According to government officials, these five banks are capable of raising funds on their own and won’t need capital support from the government.

Each of these PSBs is looking to raise between Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 6,000 crore from the market, easing pressure on the exchequer. Further capital infusion in these relatively strong banks appears unlikely.

Canara Bank is the fourth-largest bank by market capitalisation, behind State Bank of India (SBI), BoB, and Punjab National Bank.

PSBs require capital for meeting Basel-III norms and cleaning-up balance sheets as non-performing assets (NPAs) have mounted to unacceptably high levels. Canara Bank had raised about Rs 1,250 crore through a rights issue to its shareholders in the last fiscal year. It earned a net profit of Rs 1,122 crore during 2016-17, against a net loss of Rs 2,813 crore in the previous financial year. Its gross NPAs rose 8.1 per cent to Rs 34,202 crore as of March 31.

BoB earned a net profit of Rs 1,383 crore in FY17, against a net loss of Rs 5,396 crore in FY16. Its NPAs increased by 5.4 per cent to Rs 42,719 crore at the end of 2016-17.

Vijaya Bank is looking to raise Rs 1,000 crore in the current fiscal year from the market. The bank’s net profit for 2016-17 rose 96.56 per cent year-on-year to Rs 750.48 crore and operating profit was up by 56.32 per cent to Rs 2,421.15 crore.

Indian Bank, on the other hand, reported 278.39 per cent growth in net profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, to Rs 319.40 crore, compared to Rs 84.49 crore in the year-ago period. It may consider a follow-on public offer to raise Rs 1,000-1,200 crore.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced in the Budget that additional allocations would be made beyond the Rs 10,000 crore for the fiscal year if required. However, government officials said that in the normal course, more capital might not be needed. But, in the case of consolidation of PSBs, more capital may be required.

After SBI’s merger involving six of its subsidiaries, the second round of consolidation of two big banks — Canara Bank and BoB — with smaller ones is being deliberated.

Of the Rs 1.8 lakh crore capital requirements for adhering to Basel-III norms, the Centre, through Indradhanush, had promised Rs 70,000 crore over a four-year period beginning 2015-16. Banks were asked to raise the remaining Rs 1.1 lakh crore.

Of the amount promised by the Centre, PSBs received Rs 25,000 crore in the previous two years and will receive Rs 10,000 crore this year, followed by an equivalent amount in FY2018-19.

Tap equity market: Govt tells 5 PSU banks

Modi in US: GST to be a game-changer for India, PM tells top US CEOs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said India has now emerged as a business-friendly destination, more so with the upcoming implementation of landmark GST beginning next month, while asking CEOs of top US companies to invest in the country.

Modi also said India attracted largest foreign direct investment (FDI) as a result of the NDA government policies in the last three years, during his interaction with a group of CEOs of top 20 American firms.

In a round table interaction with the group, including Tim Cook of Apple, Satya Nadella from Microsoft, Sunder Pichai from Google, John Chambers from Cisco and Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Modi listed out steps taken by his government in the last three years and next moves.

 

ALSO READ: Growth of India presents win-win partnership: Modi to top US CEOs

“The whole world is looking at India. 7,000 reforms alone by GOI for ease of (doing) business and minimum government, maximum governance,” Gopal Bagley, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said in a tweet from inside the meeting, quoting the prime minister.

India’s growth presents a win-win partnership for the country and the US, and American companies have a great opportunity to contribute to that, Modi told the CEOs, according to Bagley.

“The implementation of the landmark initiative of GST could be a subject of studies in US business schools,” Modi said.

ALSO READ: Modi in US: PM to meet top CEOs, discuss GST, Make in India gains, H1B visa

During the hour-long interaction, at the Willard Hotel, where he is staying, Modi gave a patient hearing to the wish-list of the CEOs.

Among other CEOs present at the meeting were Shantanu Narayen from Adobe, Ajay Banga from Mastercard, David Farr from Emerson, Doug McMillon and Punit Renjen from Deloitte Global. Mukesh Aghi, president of the US India Business Council, was also present at the meeting.

Posting a group picture of the prime minister with the CEOs, Bagley said, “strengthening the Indo-US economic partnership”.

In a recent policy document, USIBC said the US-India commercial and strategic relationship supports global security, promotes economic growth and creates jobs for both countries and the global economy.

“Today, as we witness a paradigm shift in the erstwhile global order, an opportunity has emerged for both countries to set new standards in bilateral ties that will be bound by their shared values,” USIBC said.

Noting that US-India trade has tripled over the last decade, reaching a historic high of nearly $110 billion in 2015, USIBC said there is an opportunity for both the countries to also sync their regulatory and standards system to increase trade and investment.
ALSO READ: H-1B visa unlikely to be thorny issue in Modi-Trump talks: USIBC

In a separate statement, Jagdip Ahluwalia, executive director of Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, said the United States and India share a very symbiotic relationship, and Modi’s first face to face visit with Donald Trump is important to strengthen the relationship between the two.

“On behalf of Houston, the energy capital of the world and home of the world’s largest Medical Center the IACCGH and the strong Indian American community hope to welcome Prime Minister Modi to Houston in the not too distant future,” Ahluwalia said.

Modi in US: GST to be a game-changer for India, PM tells top US CEOs

SBI chief Bhattacharya earned Rs 2.37 cr less than ICICI Bank chief in FY17

SBI, one of the world’s 50 largest banks, pays only a small fraction to its top management as compared to private sector players like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank.

Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan had flagged the low remuneration issue last August saying it makes difficult for state-owned banks to “attract top talent, especially a lateral entry”.

 

According to annual reports of various banks, SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya took home Rs 28.96 lakh last fiscal, which is a pittance when compared to remuneration her counterparts in private banks receive.

In comparision, ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar received a basic salary of Rs 2.66 crore last fiscal besides Rs 2.2 crore performance bonus. In addition, she received allowances and perquisites of over Rs 2.43 crore.

Similarly, Shikha Sharma, MD and CEO of Axis Bank, took home a basic salary of Rs 2.7 crore and Rs 1.35 crore as variable pay, besides host of perk and allowances, like Rs 90 lakh HRA.

Yes Bank MD and CEO Rana Kapoor, who also happens to be promoter of the bank, took home Rs 6.8 crore as salary in 2016-17.

HDFC Bank’s Managing Director Aditya Puri saw his remuneration rise marginally to Rs 10 crore and exercised stock options worth over Rs 57 crore during the last fiscal.

Speaking about public sector banks at a banking conference in Mumbai, Rajan had said state-owned banks tended to overpay at the bottom but underpay their top executives.

He jokingly said he himself was underpaid and the disparity made it harder to attract talent from outside at the top level in public sector banks.

On the business front, SBI, after merger with its subsidiary banks, caters to 42.04 crore customers with a market share of 23.07 per cent and 21.16 per cent in deposits and advances, as opposed to 18.05 per cent and 17.02 per cent respectively, before the merger.

The nearest rival of SBI, post-merger, will have a market share of 5.96 per cent and 7.04 per cent in deposits and advances respectively.

Remuneration comprises various components including basic salary, allowances and perquisite, PF, superannuation allowances, gratuity and performance bonus and payment of performance bonus is deferred over a multi-year period.

Not only such high disparity in compensation makes it difficult for the government to hire top managers laterally at public sector banks, as pointed out by Rajan, it also impacts the motivation of public sector managers who have to fiercely compete with their private sector peers.

SBI chief Bhattacharya earned Rs 2.37 cr less than ICICI Bank chief in FY17

140 killed, 100 injured as overturned oil tanker explodes in Pak

At least 140 people were today charred to death and over 100 others injured after an oil tanker overturned and burst into flames as crowds rushed to collect petrol that spilled out to a highway in the Bahawalpur district of Pakistan’s Punjab Province.

The oil tanker coming from Karachi to Lahore overturned early this morning on the national highway at the Ahmedpur Sharqia area of the district, some 400 km from Lahore, after its tyre burst.

 

 

The fire was apparently caused by someone who lit a cigarette after people from nearby localities gathered on the highway to collect spilt petrol, officials said.

The blaze from the oil spill engulfed scores of residents, killing 140 people and injuring over 100 others.

District Coordination Officer (DCO) Bahwalpur Rana Salim Afzal termed it a “huge tragedy” in the history of Pakistan.

“At least 123 people were killed before getting any medical help while the rescue officials shifted more than 100 injured to the district headquarters hospital and Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur where the condition of most of them is critical,” Afzal said, adding some 50,000 litre petrol spilled from the oil tanker.

He said women and children are among the victims.

Rescue 1122 official Jam Sajjad said 140 people were killed in the fire and the toll may rise further as a number of injured are in critical condition.

He said most of the dead bodies are completely charred and they will be identified only by DNA test.

Muhammad Hanif, 40, who suffered burns, told reporters at Victoria Hospital that he was present at his house when his cousin called him informing that the village people were rushing to the highway to collect “free oil”.

“My cousin told me to pick bottles and come out of the house. When I came out of the house I saw many people rushing towards the highway and some going there by motorcycles. Me and my cousin Rashid reached the highway and joined the people busy in collecting the petrol spilling from the tanker. Suddenly the tanker burst and the people gathered near it were burnt alive. Rashid and I were a little away from the tanker therefore we are alive,” Hanif said.

He said it was “greed” of the villagers which took them to the “valley of death”.

The Punjab government said three helicopters are shifting the critically burnt people to Multan’s combined military hospital and Nishter Hospital for providing better health facilities.

Regional Police Officer Bahawalpur Raja Rifat said the motorway police personnel had reached the spot when the oil tanker overturned.

“The people from nearby village Mauza Ramzan had also gathered there. The police personnel asked them to leave the place but they started collecting petrol. Suddenly the tanker exploded and within seconds the fire erupted giving no chance to the people present there to leave the place,” Rifat said.

Dozens of motorcycles and cars were also burnt at the site.

“Most people reached the site on motorcycles to collect spilling petrol,” he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif directed the authorities to ensure best medical treatment to the injured. He also sent his chopper for shifting the injured to Multan hospitals.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif President Mamnoon Hussain, PTI chairman Imran Khan and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto condoled the tragedy.

Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered the Army to assist the civil administration in the rescue effort.

Army helicopters have been deployed in the rescue operations.

The tragedy came a day ahead of Eid ul-Fitr celebrations in the country, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramazan.

140 killed, 100 injured as overturned oil tanker explodes in Pak