Odds favour Kovind as he’s set to get 7 lakh votes of electoral college

Set for a comfortable victory, NDA presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind may bag over 62 per cent votes but fall short of the 69 per cent votes polled by incumbent Pranab Mukherjee in 2012.

With the battle lines drawn in the first-ever Dalit versus Dalit presidential contest, the odds are heavily stacked in favour of the saffron brigade candidate Kovind who is set to get around 7 lakh votes which is around two-thirds of the total 10,98,903 votes of the electoral college.

The joint opposition candidate Meira Kumar is likely to bag around 4 lakh votes despite the support of many regional parties like the RJD, traditional rivals the SP and the BSP and the TMC and the CPI-M.

Chances of Kovind registering a comfortable win brightened after some major non-NDA parties like the JD-U, the BJD, the AIADMK, the TRS and the YSR-Congress extended their support to him. Aware of its chances in the July 17 presidential election, the opposition now views it as an ideological battle.

As per vote projections after some non-NDA parties extended their support to the BJP nominee, Kovind has an assured 6,82,677 votes in his kitty.

Kumar, on the other hand, has 3,76,261 committed votes, which is 34 per cent and one-third of the total collegium vote.

This time around, there are around 39,965 votes of fence sitting parties like the AAP, the INLD, the AIMIM and some Independents, who have not yet opened their cards about which candidate to back.

Which way this block tilts will mainly depend on the campaign strategy of the contestants of the ruling party and the opposition.

Of the total 776 MPs in the presidential election collegium, Kovind has the support of 524, including 337 of its BJP, while his opponent Kumar has the support of 235. The value of one MP vote is 708 votes.

Accordingly, the NDA nominee will get 3,70,992 MPs votes. The rest of Kovind’s vote value — 3,11,685 – will come from state legislators.

Meira Kumar has 1,66,380 votes of MPs while the remaining 2,09,881 committed votes for her are coming from legislators in states.

Among state assemblies, UP MLAs have the highest vote value of 83,824 votes, with 208 votes per legislator, while Sikkim House has the lowest value of 224 votes with each MLA commanding just 7 votes.

Incidentally, the opposition is already on the back foot as it announced Kumar’s name later than the BJP announced Kovind’s.

Kumar is yet to file her nominations and is likely to do so on June 28, while Kovind has scored an early lead by embarking on his campaign starting from Uttarakhand and then Uttar Pradesh. Some central ministers are accompanying him too.

Despite numbers on its side, the BJP is going into the battle aggressively. It also has a lead in almost all states barring West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.

The total strength of the collegium which votes to elect the president comprises all elected MPs and members of legislative assemblies of all states and UTs of Delhi and Puducherry.

The total vote value comes to 10,98,903. The vote weightage of an MLA depends on the population of the state he or she represents. A candidate needs 50 per cent plus votes to win the poll.

The halfway mark is 5,49,452 votes.

Voting is through a secret ballot and the party whip does not apply.

In the 2012 elections, Congress led UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee garnered 7,13,763 votes which was 69.31 per cent of the total collegium vote. UPA’s candidate Pratibha Patil had in the 2007 election secured 6,38,116 votes, polling 65.82 of the total electoral college vote.

Both Mukherjee and Patil were Congress nominees and defeated joint opposition candidates P A Sangma and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat respectively.

 

Odds favour Kovind as he’s set to get 7 lakh votes of electoral college

Insolvency: Lenders take Bhushan, Essar and Electrosteel to NCLT

A forum of lenders, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), on Thursday sent three large non-performing accounts — Bhushan Steel, Essar Steel and Electrosteel Steels — to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for further action under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

The three companies have almost Rs 1 lakh crore of debt that has turned bad.

While unlisted Essar Steel had consolidated debt of Rs 37,284 crore, Bhushan Steel’s debt stood at Rs 44,478 crore at the end of 2015-16. The latest financial numbers of both companies are not available as yet, but bankers said the debt would have gone up in the last one year. Kolkata-based Electrosteel Steels had a debt of Rs 10,274 crore at the end of March 2016.

 

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made the shortlist of cases based on the 2015-16 debt position. A senior public sector bank executive said lenders would now have to protect the value of assets and minimise haircuts on these loans. Large haircuts would eat into already scarce capital, especially of the public sector banks.

Though the fortunes of the steel sector have improved because of a rise in steel prices in the last one year and imposition of the import duty on cheap Chinese imports, this was not enough to take these companies out of the woods.

“Some steel companies did manage to pay the interest component, but this is not enough to pay the principal part of the loan. For that steel prices would need to go higher,” said a banker who did not wish to be named.

He added the prospects would improve only on a pick-up in demand, predominantly from construction and infrastructure sectors. Steel players continue to be under pressure, given the glut in the market. SBI Capital Markets, a subsidiary of the SBI, is already working on restructuring plans for some ailing big-ticket steel companies, an SBI official said. These plans could be taken up as a pre-approved package before the NCLT.

While the tribunal would comb through the plan, it would certainly reduce the time taken for finalising the resolution package, the executive added.

ALSO READ: Banks to take a haircut for insolvency of non-performing assets

While firms had given debt-recast proposals to the banks in the past, lenders were not taking a call as they feared persecution by investigating agencies at a later date.

The arrest of former IDBI Bank Chairman Yogesh Agarwal in January this year for clearing a loan in 2010 to Kingfisher Airlines had spooked bankers.

According to the Essar proposal, the company would bring in investments of Rs 2,500 crore as fresh equity, with promoters’ contribution of Rs 800 crore and Rs 1,700 crore from a private equity partner. The banks would then convert a part of their loans into equity, thus reducing the promoter’s stake from 100 per cent to 44 per cent.

Bhushan Steel & Essar Steel consolidated data and Electrosteel Steels standalone data; Compiled by BS Research Bureau. Source: CapitalineBhushan Steel & Essar Steel consolidated data and Electrosteel Steels standalone data; Compiled by BS Research Bureau. Source: Capitaline There were two proposals for Bhushan Steel with lenders. It had submitted a proposal for loan recast under the Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A). The proposal had said that nearly 52 per cent of its debt was sustainable.

In January, JSW Steel had also approached banks with a proposal to take over Rs 25,000 crore of Bhushan’s debt along with its assets.

On the other hand, Electrosteel Steels plan was to bring in fresh equity into the company from Abhishek Dalmia of the Renaissance group and infusion of another Rs 1,500 crore as loan from Edelweiss.

All these proposals would be discussed at the NCLT, along with other rival proposals, if any, said lawyers.

On June 13, the RBI had evaluated top 500 non-performing accounts (NPA) in the banking system and, as its first action on resolution of these accounts it had set a criteria of Rs 5,000 crore of exposure and 60 per cent of this exposure as NPA at the end of FY16 for cases to be referred under the IBC.

Of these, the RBI had identified 12 cases, including these three steel companies, constituting 25 per cent of the gross non-performing assets to be processed under the IBC immediately. With orders from the NCLT, the insolvency resolution process can be initiated against the three companies now.

The process can go on initially for 180 days, and be extended by another 90 days. During this period, the lenders would analyse the company, hear rival proposals and make up its mind about the next course of action. If the account is not resolved during these 270 days, then the company will go for liquidation.

On Thursday, the Bhushan Steel stock fell by 10 per cent to Rs 69.15 on the BSE, while Electrosteel Steels stock traded flat at Rs 4.42.

Insolvency: Lenders take Bhushan, Essar and Electrosteel to NCLT

Patna, Srinagar and Bengaluru among 30 new smart cities announced by govt

Do you live in Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Patna, Gandhinagar or Srinagar? If you do, take note, these cities, along with 25 others, will be included in the Modi government’s ambitious Smart Cities mission.

These 30 cities were selected under the third round of the flagship mission, taking the total number of prospective smart cities in the country to 90. Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu released the list during the National Workshop on Urban Transformation conducted on Friday.

The proposed investments for these 30 new smart cities stand at Rs 57,393 crore, Naidu tweeted. Naidu also mentioned that only 10 slots remained under the mission, for which, 20 cities would be competing.

 

Patna, Srinagar and Bengaluru among 30 new smart cities announced by govt

Rocket lifts off: Isro launches ‘eye in the sky’ Cartosat-2 satellite from Sriharikota

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro’s) PSLV-C38 rocket carrying Cartosat-2 and other satellites had a successful take off on Friday morning.

The rocket blasted off from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 9.29 am as scheduled. This will be the seventeenth flight of PSLV in the ‘XL’ configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).

The 28-hour countdown operation for the PSLV-C38/Cartosat-2 series satellite mission started on Thursday at 05:29 hours IST after the mission readiness review committee and launch authorisation board cleared the countdown on Wednesday.

 

This is the 40th flight of Isro’s workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The PSLV-C38 is carrying the 712-Kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 30 co-passenger satellites, together weighing about 243 Kg at lift-off, into a 505-Km Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit.

The primary cargo, the Cartosat-2 series satellite, is a remote sensing satellite.

The co-passenger satellites comprise 30 nano satellites from India and 14 other countries — Austria, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The total weight of all the satellites carried onboard PSLV-C38 is about 955 Kg.

The 30 international customer nano satellites are being launched as part of commercial arrangements with Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), Isro’s commercial arm.

What does the Cartosat satellite do?

When Indian Army soldiers crossed the Line of Control last year to conduct surgical strikes against terrorists, they had help from an “eye in the sky”. Now, Isro is strengthening this capability with the launch of an earth observation satellite belonging to the Cartosat-2 series.

The mission’s primary objective is to provide high-resolution, scene-specific spot imagery. This is similar in configuration to earlier satellites in the series.

The satellite, the seventh in the Cartosat series, is capable of along-track and across-track steering, up to 26 degree nominally. This will allow it to provide images in continuous imaging mode.

Weighing 700 Kg, the satellite will be hurled into a Sun-Synchronous Orbit at a nominal altitude of 500 Km. The project has been allocated Rs 160 crore and the satellite is expected to help in the preparation of high-resolution maps using pictures from the panchromatic camera loaded on it. It will also have a high-resolution, multi-spectral instrument, which will help in high-resolution land observation and cartography, working in tandem with the Panchromatic camera.

Apart from taking pictures, it can also record videos from the sky. The pictures and videos would be helpful in a wide range of activities, including military and civil planning.

The images from this satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban & rural applications, coastal land use & regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and man-made features, and various other land information system and geographical information system applications.

The future earth observation programme envisages the continuity of the thematic series of satellites — the Resourcesat, Cartosat, Oceansat, RISAT, and INSAT series for land, water, ocean, and meteorological satellites. It also envisages placing a geo-imaging satellite in geostationary orbit to enable near real-time imaging.

The overall aim is to maintain the continuity of services and carry out enhancements in technological capabilities with respect to sensors and payloads to meet operational applications. In this regard, Isro plans to design, develop, and launch Cartosat-3 and Oceansat-3. In the future, Isro will also launch more satellites from the INSAT series for meteorological applications.

Cartosat-1, the first in the series of earth observation satellites, was launched on May 5, 2005, using the PSLV-C6 launch vehicle, followed by Cartosat-2 on January 10, 2007. The launch of more satellites will help the country to become self-reliant and reduce the cost of getting such images from external sources.

Rocket lifts off: Isro launches ‘eye in the sky’ Cartosat-2 satellite from Sriharikota

Modi’s US visit: India to get Guardian drones; F-16 jets on agenda too

The Indian armed forces will be getting 22 American-made Guardian drones after the US cleared their sale ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington for his maiden meeting with US President Donald Trump. The clearance comes just days after the announcement of the possibility of making American F-16 fighter jets in India under the Modi government’s Make in India programme.

As reported earlier by news agency PTI, the news regarding the surveillance drones came from government sources on Thursday. The deal, which is estimated to be worth $2-3 billion, is being termed as a “game-changer” for bilateral ties between the two nations.

Modi’s two-day visit to Washington begins on Sunday. Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in April and has also had face-time with the leaders of nations including Japan, Britain, and Vietnam since taking office in January, prompting anxiety in New Delhi that India is no longer a priority in Washington.

 

According to informed sources, the decision was communicated to the Indian government and the manufacturer by the State Department on Thursday.

However, why do these drones matter? After all, they are unarmed. According to reports, the Indian armed forces intend to use them to keep a watch over activities in the Indian Ocean, a region which has seen the increased presence of Chinese naval assets.

Keeping an eye on China

Once the Indian Navy gets the unarmed surveillance drones it wants to keep watch over the Indian Ocean with, it would be the first such purchase by a country that is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) alliance.

“We are trying to move it to the top of the agenda as a deliverable, this is something that can happen before all the other items,” said one official tracking the progress of the drone discussions in the run-up to the visit.

A big buyer of US arms, India was recently named by Washington as a major defence ally. India, for its part, wants to protect its 7,500-Km (4,700 mile) coastline as Beijing expands its maritime trade routes and Chinese submarines increasingly lurk in regional waters.

While the Guardian drones that India will get are unarmed, the Indian military had originally asked for missile-firing Predator Avenger aircraft, a request turned down by the Obama administration.

Fighter jets

However, the drones are not the only highlight of the visit.

India and the United States will also discuss the sale of US fighter jets during Modi’s trip, in what could be the biggest deal since they began deepening defence ties more than a decade ago.

As reported earlier, US defence giant Lockheed Martin and India’s Tata group signed an agreement on Monday to jointly build the F-16 Block 70 fighter in India, should New Delhi opt for the American aircraft in the procurement of single-engine fighters for its air force.

Coming ahead of Modi’s visit to the US this Sunday, Lockheed Martin’s inking of this joint-venture (JV) – which would have required formal clearance from Washington – indicates that despite Trump’s promise to keep skilled jobs in the US, his administration is willing to transfer the ageing F-16 production line from Texas to India.

As Ajai Shukla, writing for the Business Standard, explains, manufacturing F-16 jets in India would be an ambitious project. This would first require the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to select the Tata group as an Indian “strategic partner” for aircraft production. Next, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the MoD would have to choose the F-16 Block 70 as the air force’s single-engine fighter aircraft. That multi-billion dollar procurement has already kicked off with the issue of a global request for information by the IAF.

Lockheed Martin, Lockheed, F-16 fighter jets, F-16 Two F-16 fighter jets arrive at the Krzesiny airport in western Poland, near the city of Poznan November 9, 2006 (File Photo: Reuters). The variant on offer to India is more advanced than the jets seen in the image.

MoD and IAF sources confirm aviation market intelligence that the IAF’s chosen fighter is likely to be either the F-16 Block 70 or the Gripen E fighter that Swedish company, Saab, has offered to India.

Interestingly, the F-16, albeit a less advanced version than the Block 70 variant on offer to India, is also the mainstay of the Pakistani Air Force.

The Tata group has earmarked Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) to build the F-16 in India with technology and manufacturing facilities transferred from Lockheed Martin.

TASL and Lockheed Martin already have a joint venture (JV) that manufactures airframe components in Hyderabad, including for the C-130J Super Hercules airlifter and the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter.

Modi’s US visit: India to get Guardian drones; F-16 jets on agenda too

RBI announces names of five-member overseeing committee

The Reserve Bank of India today announced names of the members of overseeing committee

The composition of OC will be as follows with effect from September 7, 2017: Pradeep Kumar (chairman), Janki Ballabh, M B N Rao, Y M Deosthalee, S Raman.

Reconstituted OC will work with an expanded mandate to review cases being restructured under the scheme for sustainable structuring of stressed assets (S4A).

 

Overseeing committee will, for the present, have five members, including a chairman, and will work through multiple benches as may be necessary.

Reconstituted OC will review resolution of cases where aggregate exposure of the banking sector to the borrowing entity is greater than Rs 500 crore.

RBI announces names of five-member overseeing committee

Sensex ends flat after hitting fresh high, Nifty below 9650; ONGC top loser

The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex pared most of its gains to end flat after logging its fresh high on Thursday as investors booked profits in recent outperformers, while negative opening in european markets also impacted sentiment.

The Sensex settled at 31,290, up 7 points, while the broader Nifty50 ended at 9,630, down 3 points.

The benchmark indices had recorded smart gains in intraday trade as steps taken by the market regulator Sebi to attract more investments and tackle massive bad loans of banks boosted sentiment.

 

The 30-share Sensex had rallied as much as 239 to hit its all-time high of 31522.87, while the 50-share Nifty had risen as much as 65 points to 9698.85, 10 points away from its lifetime high of 9,709, hit on June 6.

In the broader market, the S&P BSE Midcap and the S&P BSE Smallcap indices shed 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively.

The market breadth, indicating the overall health of the market turned negative from positive. On BSE, 1,538 shares declined and 1,122 shares gained. A total of 155 shares were unchanged.

“The Market had a good start but ended disruptively despite relaxed norms for takeover of stressed business and RBI’s less hawkish minutes. This could be accounted for weak global cues and dilemma over short-term impact from GST implementation. However, we feel that this positive trend will be maintained given strong chance of rate cut in the near future,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services.

Sectors and stocks

Nifty Realty index (down 1.6%) was the leading sectoral loser, led by losses in Indiabulls Real Estate (down 10%), HDIL (down 2.7%), and Delta Corp (down 2%).

Indiabulls Real Estate slipped 18.5% to Rs 173 on BSE in intra-day trade after the company said that its promoter group entity IBREL IBL Scheme Trust sold 33 million shares of the company for about Rs 663 crore.

Nifty Metal index lost over 1% with APL Apollo Tubes, Hindalco, Jindal Steel and Vedanta losing between 1-2%.

Nifty IT index was down 0.2% after Nasscom said software exports are expected to grow 7-8% in fiscal year 2018, on the back of increased opportunities in newer segments such as digital and engineering services.

“The guidance is broadly in line with the outlook given by the Industry players and hence holds no big surprise. We maintain our buy on Infosys, Tech Mahindra & HCL Tech,” said brokerage Angel Broking.

Banking stocks ended higher. The Nifty Bank index gained as much as 0.8% to hit a record high in intraday trade, but settled at 23,736, up 0.1%.

Shares of Yes Bank and SBI were up 1.3% and 1%, making them the top gainers on the Nifty Bank Index.

IDFC Bank rose as much as 3.5%, its biggest intraday percentage gain in more than one month, after the RBI allowed foreign investors to resume buying in the company.

Auto stocks reversed gains. The Nifty Auto index settled in red after rising as much as 0.9%, its biggest intraday percentage gain in nearly two weeks.

Oil and gas companies fell, with IOC, the top loser on the Nifty index, down 3%, while Oil and Natural Gas Corp slipped as much as 1.6%.

Global markets

European stock markets fell for a third straight day on Thursday, as battered oil prices hovered near seven-month lows hit overnight on worries about a supply glut and falling demand.

Britain’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 all slipped 0.3-0.4 percent as trading in Europe got under way. U.S. stock futures were also a touch weaker.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.6 percent. But Japan’s Nikkei ended a touch lower as a stronger yen and a plunge in the shares of auto air bag-maker Takata Corp took a toll on sentiment.

Excitement after MSCI included mainland Chinese shares in its emerging market indexes this week further boosted China’s stock market, driving the blue-chip CSI300 index to the highest level in 1-1/2 years.

Sensex ends flat after hitting fresh high, Nifty below 9650; ONGC top loser