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Showing posts from November 12, 2015

Modi in UK: 11 British companies support skill development in India

British Prime Minister David Cameron has offered to lend support to his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi to achieve his goal of preparing young Indians for the 21st century.Under the new UK-India Skills pledge, 11 UK companies have committed to support skills development in India. Together, the UK government and UK businesses will establish new "Centres of Excellence" in key sectors, starting with a centre for Automotive and Advanced Engineering in Pune, said the joint statement issued after the talks between the two leaders.Both Prime Ministers agreed to initiate virtual partnerships at the school level to enable young people of either country to experience the school system of the other country and develop an understanding of the culture, traditions and social and family systems.The Prime Ministers announced that UK will be the partner country for the 2016 Technology Summit in Delhi. Committed to promote further joint research partnerships, the two Prime Mi…

USIBC applauds India's FDI norms enabling ease of doing business

The US-India Business Council (USIBC) applauded the latest reforms announced by the Government of India on November 10 2015, liberalizing FDI norms in industries that are starved for capital and enable the ease of doing business in the country."Putting more FDI proposals through the automatic route is clear signal that the government is living up to the mandate of minimum government and maximum governance. India's recent rise in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business, the ruling on Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT), its efforts to modernize the railways network, lifting of FDI in the insurance sector are all significant achievements that will propel more investment and innovation in the country," said Mukesh Aghi, President of the US-India Business Council."USIBC member companies are encouraged by the government's efforts to undertake economic reforms and stay away from politically driven distractions," he added.Aghi also said that India continues to see incre…

It will now cost twice as much to cancel a train ticket

Cancellation charge for a railway ticket has been doubled while the refund option can now be availed only till four hours before the scheduled departure of a train as new rules came into effect on Thursday which railways said was aimed at thwarting touts.According to the new refund rules, railways has doubled the ticket cancellation charge with the aim of helping genuine passengers get confirmed tickets."There will be no refund after the departure of a train and one has to get the refund four hours before the scheduled departure as per the revised refund rules," said a senior railway ministry official."The rules were revised to discourage touts and ticketing agents who engage in black marketing of tickets," said the officials. The official said that the purpose behind amending the Railway Passengers (Cancellation of Ticket and Refund of Fare) Rules, 2015, is to plug the scope of misuse.According to the new rules:-- While the cancellation fee of a second-class confi…

India notch first win in FIFA World Cup qualifiers

BENGALURU: Robin Singh helped India break their losing streak in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Playing at his favourite stomping ground, the Bengaluru FC forward scored the winner against Guam to earn India their first win in six matches on Thursday.Under heavy rain at the Sree Kanteerava stadium, Robin turned his marker at the edge of the box and fired a thunderous shot with his right to give India the lead in the 11th minute. India held on despite being down to 10-men for the whole of second half after medio Sehnaj Singh was ejected in the 42nd minute for a dangerous tackle.The win helped India stay alive, at least till their next game away to Iran in March next year, in their quest to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup, while the defeat almost crushed Guam's hopes for a top-2 finish ahead of Oman to advance to the third round."I'm happy that we won but we beat Guam and not Iran so don't get very excited. We need more international experience. If you ask any U-19 playe…

Rising food prices push India's retail inflation to four-month high in October

Rising prices for some food products and firm demand during the festival season pushed up India's retail inflation to a four-month high in October, making it less likely the central bank will cut interest rates at its policy review next month.Retail inflation in India has slowed sharply, but a surge in prices of items like lentils threatens the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose party lost elections in India's third-most populous state on Sunday.Higher demand for consumer durables and food items during the festival season beginning in October also contributed.India's annual consumer price inflation edged up to 5.0 percent in October, up for the third straight month, compared with 4.41 percent a month ago, government data showed on Thursday.Industrial production grew at a slower than expected pace of 3.6 percent in September, dampened by a slower expansion in the mining sector, data showed.Analysts said inflation may moderate once festival demand softens and …

India, UK sign civilian nuclear deal, seek to foster financial ties

British and Indian companies will sign collaborations worth more than £9 billion ($13.7 billion) during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to the UK, his British counterpart David Cameron said on Thursday as the two nations signed a civil nuclear deal, pledged to collaborate in defence and cyber security and geared up to launch a railway rupee bond worth more than £1 billion. Cameron told a news conference that London wanted to support Modi—the first Indian premier to visit the UK in nine years—in his vision of transforming India with improved infrastructure and education. “We want to become your number one partner for supporting the finance needed for (Modi’s) ambitious plan, making London the world’s centre for offshore rupee trading with the issue of over £1 billion in bonds including the first government-backed rupee denominated bond,” he said “During this visit British and Indian companies are announcing new collaborations together worth more than £9 billion,” Cameron…

GST, by another name

After the Bihar elections, the passage of the goods and services tax (GST) bill in the Rajya Sabha looks increasingly uncertain. In any case, the time available does not permit implementation of the GST from April 1, 2016. This impasse provides an opportunity for the Centre to initiate the GST incrementally by taking three steps. First, mimic the GST at the Central level from April 1. Second, rework the GST bill. Third, integrate the GST implementation experience from Malaysia. By doing so, the Centre can bolster the confidence of industry while signalling to the states its commitment towards the GST. The Centre is empowered to impose a Central GST by merging the excise and service tax regimes. To be sure, nothing prevents the Centre from virtually integrating these two taxes by making them mimic the GST. Without comprehensively revising these laws, their levy can be made consistent with each other and the requirements of the GST through simple amendments by way of money bills and no…

Don’t dismantle, reform

There are few government programmes that excite as much passion as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). For advocates, it is a lifeline for the rural poor. For critics, it is a programme that distorts labour markets and does far more harm than good. In this partisan quicksand, it is hard to find firm ground from which to evaluate the promises and challenges of the MGNREGA 10 years after its enactment. However, in recent years, more empirical studies have emerged to provide a solid foundation from which to address a number of questions.

One, how well does the self-targeting mechanism work? The MGNREGA is a self-targeting programme that assumes that only those who can’t find better-paying, less-strenuous work will participate in the hard manual labour offered under the act. A recently published report (of which I am principal author) by researchers from the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland, based on the …