08 , March 2018

NITI Aayog launches Women Entrepreneurship Platform on International Women’s Day
Source: PIB

NITI Aayog launched the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), on the occasion of International Women’s Day today. The initiative is aimed at building an ecosystem for women across India to realize their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale-up innovative initiatives and chalk-out sustainable, long-term strategies for their businesses.

It aims to power a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem through an enabling network of industry collaborations, partnerships, mentors and peer-to-peer connect.

Established under the leadership of Ms Anna Roy, Adviser (Industry) of NITI Aayog, the platform aspires to substantially increase the number of women entrepreneurs who will create and empower a dynamic New India.

These aspirations are manifest in the three pillars on which WEP is built:

  • Ichha Shakti (motivating aspiring entrepreneurs to start their enterprise),
  • Gyaan Shakti (providing knowledge and ecosystem support to women entrepreneurs to help them foster entrepreneurship)
  • Karma Shakti (providing hands-on support to entrepreneurs in setting-up and scaling up businesses).

With an informative, interactive website to act as a dedicated resource and knowledge base, WEP aims to address the bottlenecks faced by both aspiring and established women entrepreneurs by streamlining information across government and private sector schemes and initiatives.

WEP is to operate within a broader framework of industry collaborations and partnerships, which cut across sectors in the economy. From providing unique services such as credit evaluation of women-led startups by CRISIL and potential equity investments through an INR 10 crore fund established by DICE Districts, the WEP opens up avenues of growth and opportunity for women entrepreneurs.

1.Balkrishna Doshi wins architecture’s top Pritzker Prize, first Indian to do so
Source: The Hindu

Nonagenarian architect and reputed urban planner Balkrishna Doshi has been named this year’s winner of architecture’s highest honour — the Pritzker Prize.

  • Balkrishna Doshi is the first Indian to receive the award.
  • He is influenced by masters of 20th-century architecture, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, and Louis Khan
  • His ethical and personal approach to architecture has touched lives of every socio-economic class across a broad spectrum of genres since the 1950s

Balkrishna Doshi’s contribution to architecture:

  • His designs include the IIM-Bangalore; Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad; cultural spaces in Ahmedabad such as Tagore Memorial Hall, the Institute of Indology, and Premabhai Hall; and private residence Kamala House (Ahmedabad), among many others.
  • The architect also designed Aranya Low Cost Housing (Indore, 1989), which currently accommodates over 80,000 individuals through a system of houses, courtyards and a labyrinth of internal pathways.

Pritzker prize:

  • The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually “to honor a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment
  • Founded in 1979 by Jay A. Pritzker and his wife Cindy, the award is funded by the Pritzker family and sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation
  • It is considered to be one of the world’s premier architecture prizes and is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture
  • The prize is said to be awarded “irrespective of nationality, race, creed, or ideology”
  • Any licensed architect can also make a personal application for the prize before November 1 every year

2.Banks face Rs. 20,000 cr. bond losses: report
Source: The Hindu

Indian bank are starting at Rs 20,000 crore losses in the bond portfolio in the January-March quarter, which is three times more than the losses incurred in the Oct-Dec quarter.

Highlight from the report:

  • As per the Credit Suisse(Swiss multinational financial services holding company, headquartered in Zürich), banks were having huge liquidity after demonetization.
  • Banks hold 10% more bonds than what is mandated.
  • Banks are required to hold 19.5% of their deposits in government papers.
  • Rising bond losses will add to concerns on the adequacy of the recap plan.

RBI intervention: As per the report, RBI intervention by either raising  the HTM (held to maturity) threshold or buyback of treasures are needed to help contain the MTM(mark-to market) hit for the bank.

 Held-to maturity security:

  • A held-to-maturity security is purchased with the intention of holding the investment to maturity.
  • This type of security is reported at amortized cost on a company’s financial statements
  •  It is  usually in the form of a debt security with a specific maturity date

What is Mark to market?

  • Mark to market is an accounting practice that involves recording the value of an asset to reflect its current market levels.
  • At the end of the fiscal year, a company’s annual financial statements must reflect the current market value of its accounts.

3.Cabinet approves easing spectrum cap
Source: The Hindu

The Union Cabinet has approved relaxing the cap on spectrum holding by telcos

  • The Cabinet has also given telcos the option to extend the time period for payment of spectrum bought in auction to 16 years from the present 10 years.
  • This is likely to help with the cash flow in the short to medium term, while adding Rs. 74,446 crore till 2034-35 to the government’s kitty due to no reduction in interest rates.
  • The cap on overall spectrum that can be held by an operator in a circle has been raised to 35% from the current 25%.
  • In line with earlier recommendations of TRAI, the current cap of 50% on intra-band spectrum holding has also been removed.
  • Instead, there will be a cap of 50% on the combined spectrum holding in the sub-1 GHz bands (700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands).
  • There will be no cap on individual or combined spectrum holding in the above 1 GHz band.

Significance of the Move:

  • Revising the limit for the spectrum cap holding will facilitate consolidation of telecom licensees and may encourage the participation in the future auction
  • Further, the telecom operators will now be able to trade in excess (subject to the prescribed time limit) as well as the current spectrum held by them with other telecom operators depending upon their current spectrum holdings.
  • The relief measures, based on the recommendations by the Inter Ministerial Group on stressed assets in the telecom sector will enhance ease of doing business

Existing Issues:

  • The debt payment extension will have only minimal benefit unless the interest rate is also reduced
  • The systemic issues of the industry such as excessive taxes and levies of 30% or more remained unaddressed.

4.India-China trade hits a record $84.4 billion
Source: The Hindu

According to data of Chinese General Administration of Customs, India-China bilateral trade has reached $84.44 billion last year, a historic high with 18.63% year-on-year growth rate. This is regarded as historic landmark in bilateral relations of both countries, as volume of bilateral trade for first time has touched $80 billion, well above the $71.18 billion registered in 2016.

India has emerged as the seventh largest export destination for Chinese products, and 24th largest exporter to China.

India’s imports and exports: It has increased by 39.11% year-on-year to $16.34 billion in 2017. India’s imports from China have increased by 14.59% to $68.10 billion.

Significantly, diamonds along with copper, iron ore, organic chemicals and cotton yarn contributed to increase Indian exports to China. China’s export on other hand were dominated by electrical machinery and equipment,

India’s trade deficit: It continues to remain high at $51.75 billion, registering a growth of 8.55% year-on-year in 2017. To arrest it, India is pressing China to open its IT and Pharmaceutical sectors for Indian firms, fertilizers, organic chemicals and pharmaceutical antibiotics.

Prevailing issues:

  • Trade touched a historic high despite bilateral tensions over a number of issues.
  • Including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
  • China blocking India’s efforts to bring about a UN ban on J-e-M leader Masood Azhar.
  • Beijing blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as the Doklam standoff.
  • Trade had stagnated around $70 billion, despite the leaders of both nations setting a $100 billion target for 2015.

5.‘U.S. move to raise import duty may hit domestic steel market’
Source: The Hindu

According to Indian Steel Association (ISA), proposal by Trump administration to levy steep tariff on steel imports may hit India’s domestic steel market. Recently, US had proposed to impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on imported aluminium to protect domestic steel industry from cheap imports. It had clubbed India as steel non-mature country with other steel surplus nations.

The proposal, if implemented, will result in major shifts in existing global trade flows of steel and steel products. It will encourage steel-surplus nations to divert their exports to vibrant consumption centres (countries) like India and distort their domestic markets considerably. It will dent growth prospects of developing nation like India, whose production and consumption of steel is inward looking.

Though India is third largest producer of steel and produces 12% of world’s non-Chinese production of steel, it has only 2.7% share in US imports. There are total of 16 trade remedies in place in US against Indian steel imports. This included 10 anti-dumping and 6 countervailing duties. All these had made it nearly impossible to export Indian Steel to US.

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