ECONOMY

Monthly Archives: MARCH 2017


Reliance Jio extends Prime membership to 15 days; launches 'Summer Surprise' offer
31.03.17 - TEAM PT
Reliance Jio extends Prime membership to 15 days; launches 'Summer Surprise' offer



Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited had a bevy of announcements centered around Jio on Friday. Friday was also supposedly the last day before Jio starts charging customers to avail its 4G services. The company informed that its promotional Prime offer had received a whopping 7.2 crore subscriptions in one month, and that it was extending its timeline to April 15, albeit with a slight twist.
 
Reliance Jio has extended the deadline for purchasing its Jio Prime membership plan as well as Rs 303 and other plans till April 15.
 
Customers who could not enroll for Jio Prime by March 31 for whatever reason can still do so by paying Rs 99 along with their first purchase of Jio’s Rs 303 and other plans till April 15, the company in a statement said.
 
Further, Jio has also announced that every Jio Prime member who makes a recharge using Jio’s Rs. 303 plan (which gives you 28GB of data for a 28-day period, capped at 1GB per day), or any of Jio’s higher value plans, will get an additional three month’s of complimentary service - the paid plans will only start in July as long as you subscribe to Jio Prime and purchase the Rs. 303 recharge before April 15. If you’ve already subscribed to Prime and bought a recharge, you will still get the Summer Surprise without any further action.
 
Reliance Jio Infocomm has announced over 72 million of its customers have signed up for Jio Prime in one month. The company claims it is "one of the most successful customer privilege programmes anywhere in the world.”
 
"Every Jio Prime member, when they make their first paid recharge prior to April 15 using Jio's Rs 303 plan (or any higher value plan) will get services for the initial 3 months on a complimentary basis," the company added. The paid tariff plan will be applied only in July, after the expiry of the complimentary service.

"In India, we have the fine tradition of shagun - offering gifts on auspicious occasions," he added. "For us, your first recharge is an auspicious moment. Therefore, we want to offer a token of our appreciation - the Jio Summer Surprise."

The company added that the Jio Summer Surprise is going to be just the first of "many” surprises for Prime members.
 
"This extension will provide the necessary breathing room for users to avoid service disruption during the transition from free to paid services," the company said.
 
"I want to personally thank you for choosing Jio, and for being a founding member of the Jio movement. A movement to transform India. A movement to empower and enrich each one of you with the revolutionary power and possibilities of Digital Life,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries in a press statement.
 
On February 21, Ambani announced Prime membership for on board customers on a payment of a one-time fee of Rs 99. The membership, available for one year, gives the customers an option to choose from multiple data packs starting from Rs 149.




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Development ?... OK !... But At What Cost ?
31.03.17 - Observer with Opinion
Development ?... OK !... But At What Cost ?



Development as a concept peaked long, long ago. What is peddled today in its name is mere exploitation - be it of the earth and its resources or of human beings.
 
The word "Development" needs to be urgently banned from the political and academic lexicon of our times, and replaced with immediate effect by the words "evolution" an "sustainability" or even "survival". 
 
What good has come to this world and its inhabitants in the past decade out of development?
 
And at what cost?
 
"Development" with its even more pernicious corollary "growth" has been the favourite word of governments- and in that context usually means its exact opposite.
 
A senior IAS officer from a Hindi heartland state who is now no more would advise young colleagues learning the ropes of administration and struggling to understand the truth behind formal facades of governance to simply replace the Hindi word for development, "Vikas" with its rhyming antonym "Vinaash" and then see if things made more sense. Of course he could not resist gilding the lily a little, so that a "Block Development Officer", in Hindi a "Prakhand Vikas Padadhikari" became in his lexicon a "Prachand Vinaash Padadhikari", or the Officer in charge of Intense Destruction
 
Similarly the Rural Development Department or the Grameen Vikas Vibhaag became the Grameen Vinaash Vibhaag, and so on. This was only partially a joke - very often and especially in hindsight, it was nothing but the plain truth.
 
The iconic 'Milkman of India', Verghese Kurien, architect of AMUL, had a favourite quip that he really believed in, which in fact embodied the reason why he started the cooperative movement among the farmers of  Khera district of Gujarat: he used to say, if you want to destroy something, appoint a Commissioner to develop it. For where there is a Milk Commissioner there will soon be no milk, where there is a Jute Commissioner there will be no Jute, where there is a Vigilance Commissioner there is no Vigilance, and where there is an Agriculture Production Commissioner you soon see an Agriculture Reduction trend!
 
This last example reminds one inevitably of the sad fate of Punjab.
 
Once upon a time Punjab was the natural granary of India. With its vast rolling plains, rivers fed by the perpetual snows of the Himalayas, hardworking farmers, strong Sikh work ethic, and ryotwari system of land management and revenue collection, it was chugging along nicely, thank you!
 
And then we decided to "develop" its agriculture, which was the mainstay of its economy. For some strange reason it was decided that Punjab had to feed the rest of India, including fertile and productive regions like Bihar, UP, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and so on , since they suffered from occasional and localised shortages, or as we tend to turn them through our colossal mismanagement and chronic bungling, famine. It is anybody's guess as to how much of this shortage was natural, i.e. due to crop failure, and how much of it was man made i.e. due to hoarding and black marketing by traders and crass corruption practised by FCI, SFCs, bureaucrats and politicians. 
 
Nevertheless Punjab became the guinea pig for blind frenzied exploitative and ultimately disastrous "Agricultural Development". No holds were barred, from the hybridisation and genetic modification of crops, unrestricted use of chemical fertilisers and carcinogenic pesticides, reckless exploitation of fragile soil and finite stores of groundwater, and turning of a wise traditional peasantry into money spinning machines, producing more and more for less and less remunerative prices, and glutted with short term riches at the cost of long term ruin.
 
The Green Revolution (agriculture), the Twin White Revolutions (dairy and poultry), the Blue Revolution  (pisciculture)- Punjab was ready to let itself be lured into more and more intensified exploitation of its natural resources, even cultivating the water intensive labour intensive rice crop for which it is naturally unsuited by employing labour from Bihar and other parts of the country, in return for a short period of unsustainable prosperity and hypocritical flattery of national and international awards in a crazy race for "productivity".
 
Today Punjab's water is undrinkable, its food tasteless almost inedible, its soil depleted, its groundwater has receded, its population is diseased and drug addicted, its farmers depressed and suicidal, its government deep in debt, its society materialistic and degraded.
 
But is the Goddess of Development appeased?
 
Not at all!
 
Genetic Modification of crops and dairy and poultry, use of nuclear power for electricity to further deplete its remaining groundwater and further expose its population to radiation, are just some of the treats that Development Maiyya has in store in the form of concrete plans for its future.
 
When will we learn to place sustainability before development, evolution before progress, contentment and self discipline before greed and exploitation?
 
Gandhiji had rightly warned us:
 
"Nature has enough for Man's need, but not for Man's greed"




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Two-wheeler firms Hero, Honda, Bajaj offering discounts up to Rs 24,000 on BS- III models
30.03.17 - team pt
Two-wheeler firms Hero, Honda, Bajaj offering discounts up to Rs 24,000 on BS- III models



Two-wheeler majors Hero MotoCorpBSE,Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), Bajaj Auto and Suzuki Motorcycle are offering discounts of up to Rs 24,000 on BS-III models to liquidate stocks, a day after the Supreme Court banned sale and registration of such vehicles from April 1. 
 
As per the apex court's ruling, around a million vehicles, including 7.51 lakh two-wheelers, cannot be sold after March 31 due to BS-IV non-compliance.
 
With only two days left automobile companies and dealers are scrambling to clear out such a huge inventory. As a result the companies are offering some of the biggest discounts the industry has ever seen.
 
For instance, Hero Splendor Plus is being offered at a Rs 5,000 discount, Hero Maestro Edge has a discount of Rs 12,500. 

Honda Motorcycle, on the other hand, is offering a flat discount of Rs 10,000 on its BS III scooters and motorcycles.

The Honda CBR I50 R has a discount of Rs 24,000, the Honda Rs 22,000, Honda Activa 3G Rs 5,000 and the Honda Deo Rs 12,000.

Even TVS is offering discounts up to Rs 10,000. While the TVS Apache RTR 200 and TVS Jupiter are discounted by Rs 10,000, the TVS Victor 110 is cheaper by Rs 5,000. 

Besides this, even superbikes companies are offering bikes at a massive discounts. Triumph is offering discounts up to Rs 3 lakh and Ducati discounts up to Rs 2.7 lakh.

The Triumph Thunderstorm is being offered at a discount of up to Rs 3 lakh, while the Triumph Daytona has a Rs 1 lakh discount, the Ducati Monster has a Rs 2.7 lakh and the Ducati Diavel has a discount up to Rs 2 lakh.
 
Bajaj Auto also offered discounts and free insurance on its different models, starting from the entry level Platina to Pulsar RS200 in the range of Rs 3,000 to Rs 12,000 along with free insurance.

"If there are any unsold inventory left, we have the possibility to export as we are a big exporter to around 70 countries across the world," Bajaj Auto President (Business Development & Assurance) S Ravikumar told PTI.

The companies said the offer will be valid till stocks last or up to March 31.
"These are unheard of discounts ever in the two-wheeler industry," Federation of Automobile Dealers (FADA) past president and Director-International Affairs Nikunj Sanghi said.

When asked about what actions were dealers taking following the apex court verdict, he said: "Our energy is focused on selling as much stock as possible before the deadline. Our people are calling up potential customers informing them about the offers."

Earlier, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had issued a draft notification, making BS-IV-compliant vehicles mandatory across the country in a phased manner from April 1, 2017, without mentioning any date of registration.

Automakers had suggested that the April 1 deadline was meant to stop manufacturing of BS-III vehicles, and not their sale and registration.

The manufacturers also argued that in 2005 and 2010, when the industry had switched to BS-II and BS-III, respectively, they were allowed to sell their stocks with old emission norms. Likewise, they should be able to sell their old stocks this time as the new technology is duly introduced.
 
Companies such as Hero MotoCorp were the most impacted by the SC verdict due to a large amount of unsold BS IV stocks. The company's lawyer mentioned to the apex court on Tuesday that the decision would result in a Rs 1,600 crore loss for the company.
 
Observing yesterday that health of the people is "far, far more important" than the commercial interests of the manufacturers, the Supreme Court said that automobile firms have declined to take "sufficient pro-active steps" despite being fully aware that they would be required to manufacture only BS-IV compliant vehicles from April 1, 2017.




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Banks to remain closed on April 1: RBI
29.03.17 - team pt
Banks to remain closed on April 1: RBI



Reversing its earlier order, the Reserve Bank (RBI) today said the bank branches dealing in government businesses need not remain open on April 1 in view of the annual closing business.

In its earlier directive on March 24, the RBI had asked all authorised banks to be open on all days from March 25 to April 1, including Saturday, Sunday and all holidays, to facilitate the government’s receipts and payments.

The departments concerned of RBI were also to remain open on these days.

In its revised instructions issued today, RBI said, "On reconsideration, it has been decided that these branches need not be opened on April 1, 2017.”

In a letter to the Indian Banks’ Association, unions AIBEA and AIBOA today said the RBI issued the directive "very late, causing huge resentment” among bank employees. "The RBI is fully aware that March 25 and 26 would be weekly holidays for the banks. But very late on 24th evening, the RBI had flashed their instructions through the press and electronic media,” said a joint letter written by them.

Banks remain closed on April 1 every year for their annual closing of accounts. "In this connection, it has been represented that opening of bank branches on April 1, 2017, may disrupt annual closing, especially in view of merger of some banks taking effect from that date,” RBI added further.

In consultation with the government, it has, therefore, been decided that while agency banks are to keep all their branches dealing with government business open on all days in the current financial year (including Saturday, Sunday and all holidays), these branches need not be kept open on April 1, 2017, RBI said.

AIBOA and AIBEA also pointed to the inconvenience caused to banks that are not sure which branches will remain open and who should attend office. They alleged that the RBI has been taking banks and their staff "for granted” and they must be conveyed well in advance before any such directive.




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Monsoon likely to be Below Normal: Skymet
27.03.17 - team pt
Monsoon likely to be Below Normal: Skymet



India to face a below normal rainfall during the June to September south-west monsoon season, said private weather forecaster Skymet.
 
Rains during June to September are likely to be 95% (with an error margin of +/-5%) of the long period average (LPA) of 887 mm with Gujarat, Konkan & Goa, Madhya Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu likely to see rains below their normal quota.
 
The chances of drought, or rains below 10% of the seasonal quota, are about 25%.
 
Over three months, international weather models have been warning of an El Nino, characterised by warming surface waters in the equatorial Pacific during the latter part of this year. El Nino is known to dry up monsoon rains six out of 10 times.
 
However, a favourable form of a current in the Indian Ocean, called the Indian Ocean Dipole, is widely expected to counter the effects of the El Nino during the monsoon.
 
India Meteorological Department (IMD) will provide their first forecast about the south-west monsoon on 20 April, giving information about the El Nino as well.
 
According to Jatin Singh, CEO, Skymet, "Evolving El Nino may start affecting the monsoon performance July onward. Nevertheless, the presence of positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) could help in tempering the adverse impact of El Niño.”
 
According to Skymet, June will have a monsoon of about 102% of its LPA, which will be normal. September, too, would have a rainfall of 96% of its LPA. July and August will have below normal rainfall with 94% and 93% of their respective LPA.
 
This year is the fourth consecutive year, when monsoon rains are not likely to surpass the normal shower.




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