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India’s July trade deficit widens to more than five year high of $18.02 billion

NEW DELHI, Aug 14: India’s trade deficit widened to a more than five year high of $18.02 billion in July, the trade ministry said on Tuesday, driven largely by a surge in oil imports.

Though merchandise exports rose 14.32 percent year-on-year in July, the trade deficit widened as oil imports surged 57.41 percent to $12.35 billion.

In June, the trade deficit stood at $16.6 billion.

Merchandise exports last month rose to $25.77 billion from a year ago, while imports rose 28.81 percent to $43.79 billion, the ministry of commerce and industry said in a statement.

Forex reserves will cushion currency dive, say experts

NEW DELHI, Aug 14: The rupee on Tuesday fell to 70.09 to the dollar for the first time, a psychological mark, but bankers and economists said India had the means — mainly sufficient foreign exchange reserves — to ward off extreme volatility or a currency free fall.

The Turkish lira’s collapse starting Friday — the result of a US-Turkey trade spat — rippled across emerging markets, impacting India on Monday. A further knock on the rupee could spell economic troubles, economists said.

“Given the kind of exchange rate depreciation, it will have a dampening impact on the current account deficit (CAD), on imports and could lead to more borrowing. It’s alarming,” said NR Bhanumurthy, economist at state-run National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “There is no option but to increase the interest rate so that rupee becomes more attractive.”

A weak rupee toughens the RBI’s job of controlling inflation because it makes imports costlier. The RBI has already hiked rates twice in June. A depreciating rupee will worsen CAD, which results from the economy spending more foreign exchange abroad — mainly to buy imports — than it earns. India’s biggest import, in terms of value, is oil. This deficit is mainly financed by foreign exchange reserves. India current account deficit has widened from 0.1% in the beginning of fiscal 2017 to 1.9% in 2018.

Analysts said the RBI was in a position to thwart any rupee volatility given the country’s adequate foreign exchange reserves of slightly over $400 billion. Just like any other commodity , a currency strengthens, or becomes expensive, when there is more demand for it by investors. It weakens, or loses value against the dollar, when its demand falls, especially when investors sell off assets held in that currency.

India needn’t panic, said Gurbachan Singh, an independent economist and adjunct faculty at Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi Centre. “The effect on rupee is more through sentiment, than through fundamentals,” Singh said, adding India’s market linkages with Turkey were negligible.

Typically, India’s central bank uses a “managed float” policy — allowing the rupee’s exchange rate to move up or down according to supply-demand conditions in the foreign exchange market. Yet, the RBI will intervene when needed — mainly by selling dollar from its reserves — to ensure the rupee does not stray too far.

“I’d say just allow (the rupee) to float in a managed way and let it depreciate up to a realistic point, which RBI has to work out,” said economist M Govinda Rao. DK Joshi, chief economist CRISIL Ltd, said policymakers at this stage can do little other than control the volatility.

India's Cosmos Bank loses $13.5 mln in cyber attack

MUMBAI, Aug 14: Cyber criminals hacked the systems of India’s Cosmos Bank and siphoned off nearly 944 million rupees ($13.5 million) through simultaneous withdrawals across 28 countries over the weekend, the bank has told police.

The co-operative bank said unidentified hackers stole customer information through a malware attack on its automated teller machine (ATM) server, withdrawing 805 million rupees in 14,849 transactions in just over two hours on August 11, mainly overseas.

Apart from the ATM withdrawals, the hackers transferred 139 million rupees to a Hong Kong-based company’s account by issuing three unauthorised transactions over the SWIFT global payments network, the bank said in a police complaint.

SWIFT, whose messaging system is used to transfer trillions of dollars a day, said it did not comment on individual cases.

Cosmos Bank, based in the western city of Pune, said in a press statement that its main banking software receives debit card payment requests via a “switching system” but it was bypassed in the attack.

“During the malware attack, a proxy switch was created and all the fraudulent payment approvals were passed by the proxy switching system,” the bank said.

The bank declined to reveal the countries, citing security risks.

Police said they were investigating the theft.

A police official, who declined to be named, said they had enlisted the help of experts to find out how authorised transactions were conducted simultaneously in various countries.

India’s City Union Bank Ltd reported in February that it had suffered three “fraudulent remittances” of nearly $2 million that had been pushed through the SWIFT financial platform.

In 2016, unknown hackers stole more than $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank Of New York. Investigators have made little progress in the case.

“While there is growing awareness to regularly update an organisation’s cyber preparedness and defence mechanisms, a large number of institutions wake up to this reality only post an incident which often leads to a loss of reputation and/or financial misappropriation,” said Nikhil Bedi, a partner with Deloitte India.

 

IFFCO launches iMandi for farmers

By Deepak Arora

CHANDIGARH, July 13: IFFCO, the world’s largest processed fertilizer cooperative, on Saturday launched an e-commerce app “IFFCO iMandi” aimed at connecting crores of farmers and serving for them as a one stop shop for everything they need- buying agri inputs to selling their produce.

Dr. US Awasthi, Managing Director, IFFCO said, “After spearheading the campaign across India to sensitize the farmers to the use of online transactions, we are proud to come up with an app ‘IFFCO iMandi’. It is a “One Stop Shop” for agri inputs and produce, FMCG, electronics, loans, insurance, etc. iMandi will address all needs of the farming community and aims to cater to captive user base of 55 million farmers.”

“This is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for a “Digital India”. Going forward, all e-commerce and digital initiatives of IFFCO shall be available on the IFFCO iMandi platform.”.

It was the duo of IFFCO Marketing Director Yogendra Kumar and V. K. Agarwal, Founder of iMandi Pte Ltd, who jointly launched the App. While Kumar said it is the fulfilling of a dream IFFCO MD Dr U S Awasthi saw years ago, Agrawal called the app a mixture of Facebook, WhatsApp and Amazon.

iMandi is a strategic investment by IFFCO eBazar Ltd, which is 100% subsidiary of IFFCO with iMandi Pte Ltd, a Singapore based technology company promoted by experienced professionals, having vast experience in agriculture industry and mobile/ internet technologies. The objective of this initiative is to bring the benefits of digital technologies to every farmer, and promote the internet economy in rural India.

V. K. Agarwal, Founder of iMandi Pte Ltd. said, “IFFCO and iMandi are certain that through this Indian Cooperative Digital Platform, they will be able to bring about a large scale social transformation in every home, every village and will empower a billion lives through its digital inclusive technology”.

“This project will be implemented on an unparalleled reach and scale. Therefore, iMandi shall be India’s largest rural social e-commerce play by utilizing exclusive access to IFFCO`s more than 55,000 Point of Sales, 36,000 Cooperative Societies, more than 30,000 warehouses and having access to 250 million rural consumers at 16,000 Pin codes, covering over a third of India” said Agrawal who counted himself lucky to have got the vast network of farmers through IFFCO.

iMandi is available for download at Play Store & App Store for Android and iOS phones and accessible on web at www.iffcoimandi.in. Apart from fulfilling the requirement through various marketplaces, it is also supported with communication (chat & calling), entertainment and information/ advisory content to keep the farmers engaged. The social and communication features will enable people from different regions to connect on a single platform. Users can join various forums based on different topics of interest; they can talk to subject-matter experts and get advice on various problems. What’s more, they can also share their success stories with others!

Under the Agri Inputs marketplace, farmer can presently buy all IFFCO products, including fertilisers (Chemicals, WSF, Organic, Bio, etc.), agro chemicals and seeds at a discounted price and get free delivery at their doorstep. Farmers can execute the transaction either through mobile app, web portal or call centre assistance by calling on Toll Free No. 1800 2000 344.

They can stay in touch with friends and family through chat, audio and video calls and share pictures and videos over chat and on their feed. The communication features are end-to-end encrypted, and the data is completely secure and private.

Users can stay engaged by watching entertaining videos delivered to them, as well as informational alerts related to weather, mandi prices and daily news. Apart from this, they can tune-in to their favorite local and national radio stations.

In the near future, farmers will also be able to sell their produce online at the best prices. iMandi will also facilitate access to a variety of financial services like loans, insurance, etc.

A slew of social services will be rolled out on the app in due course; they will also be able to enjoy the benefits of online education and skill building and use this app to find employment. They will also be able to receive primary healthcare services through this app.

The unique architecture of iMandi App enables it as an inter-operable on both 2G+ feature phones and 3G+ smartphones. Apart from Hindi and English, this App will be available in over 10 regional languages, to cater to every farmer in India. It is designed keeping in mind global standards, with a focus on rural Indian audiences.

India becomes Asia Pacific vice-chair at World Customs Organisation

NEW DELHI, July 15: India has become the vice-chair (regional head) of the Asia Pacific region of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for a period of two years to June, 2020, the finance ministry said today. The organisation has divided its membership into six regions. Each of the regions is represented by an elected vice-chairperson to the WCO council.

"India is a wealth of experience in promoting security and facilitation of cross border trade," it said.

To mark the assumption of vice chair, an event is being organised tomorrow here by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) in partnership with industry body CII.

It will witness participation of customs delegates from 33 countries of the Asia-Pacific Region, customs officers from different ports in India.

WCO represents 182 customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98 per cent of world trade.

Kylie Jenner Is About To Be The Youngest 'Self-Made' Billionaire In History

NEW YORK, July 11: The 20-year-old makeup mogul is on the cover of Forbes magazine this month, which claims that she has amassed $900 million in three years from Kylie Cosmetics.

Jenner's Kylie Cosmetics, which she launched just three years ago, has amassed $630 million in sales. Jenner owns 100% of the company, according to the magazine.

The magazine said the 20-year-old's net worth will likely pass $1 billion within the next year, which would make her the youngest self-made billionaire, male or female, ever.

Jenner turns 21 on Aug. 10, so she will likely hit this milestone at age 21. Previously, Mark Zuckerberg held this record by becoming a billionaire at age 23.

Jenner's fortune far surpasses even that of her older sister's, Kim Kardashian West, who is worth a mere $350 million.

The article also details how Jenner has been able to own her company completely.

She outsources her production to an Oxnard, California-based manufacturer and sells it all through the online platform Shopify. Her company only has seven full- and five part-time employees.

The article also says that Jenner, in part, built her company by leveraging her huge social media platforms, which has been the key to its rapid growth.

"Social media is an amazing platform," Jenner told the magazine. "I have such easy access to my fans and my customers."

India becomes world’s sixth biggest economy: World Bank

PARIS, July 11: India has become the world’s sixth-biggest economy, pushing France into seventh place, according to updated World Bank figures for 2017.

India’s gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France.

The economy rebounded strongly from July 2017, after several quarters of slowdown blamed on economic policies pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

India, with around 1.34 billion inhabitants, is poised to become the world’s most populous nation, whereas the French population stands at 67 million.

This means that the country’s per capita GDP continues to amount to just a fraction of that of France which is still roughly 20 times higher, according to World Bank figures.

Manufacturing and consumer spending were the main drivers of the Indian economy last year, after a slowdown blamed on the de-monetisation of large banknotes that Modi imposed at the end of 2016, as well as a chaotic implementation of a new harmonised VAT regime.

India has doubled its GDP within a decade and is expected to power ahead as a key economic engine in Asia, even as China slows down.

According to the International Monetary Fund, India is projected to generate growth of 7.4% this year and 7.8% in 2019, boosted by household spending and a tax reform.

This compares to the world’s expected average growth of 3.9%

The London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy, said at the end of last year that India would overtake both Britain and France this year in terms of GDP, and had a good chance to become the world’s third-biggest economy by 2032.

At the end of 2017, Britain was still the world’s fifth-biggest economy with a GDP of $2.622 trillion.

The US is the world’s top economy, followed by China, Japan and Germany.


 

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