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India on Thursday donated a medical oxygen plant to Nepal as part of New Delhis continued commitment to the Himalayan nation in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. Indias Ambassador here Vinay Mohan Kwatra handed over the 960 Litres Per Minute (LPM) medical oxygen plant to Minister of State for Health Umesh Shrestha at a ceremony at the Ministry of Health and Population, as part of Indias robust partnership with Nepal in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian Embassy here said in a statement. The plant has been installed at B P Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS), and is designed to cater to providing 5 LPM per person, amounting to a total capacity of 960 LPM, it said. The DEBEL Medical Oxygen Plant, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), carries a capacity to serve 200 patients simultaneously, it said. Kwatra highlighted the significance of the deep-rooted and multifaceted partnership between India and Nepal, reiterating that the gift symbolised Indias continued commitment to Nepal in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the statement. The Government of India will continue to stand with Nepal and its people in fighting the pandemic and providing necessary assistance as best possible in accordance with our deep-rooted bilateral ties, he said. Shrestha said that the donation of oxygen plant was a critical health infrastructure that would reinforce Nepals efforts in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The assistance by the Government of India two decades ago in building BPKIHS in Dharan was an important milestone, and the latest addition of the oxygen plant is another milestone that would go a long way in serving people of Nepal, particularly of Provinces 1 and 2, the minister said. Oxygen is a key clinical gas for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, as has been experienced during the second wave of the pandemic in both India and Nepal. With the plant, hospitals now have the option of generating medical oxygen on-site, in a highly cost-effective manner. India is only the fourth country in the world to develop the technology which utilises the pressure swing adsorption technique and molecular sieve technology to generate oxygen directly from atmospheric air The installation of the medical oxygen plant would help in avoiding the dependency of hospitals for scarce oxygen cylinders, according to the statement. This would help in reducing the logistics of transporting cylinders and also continuous and reliable oxygen supply available round the clock, it added.
The commerce and industry ministry is considering quality control orders (QCOs) for 45 more products, ranging from electronics to industrial machinery, as it intends to harden a crackdown on imports of sub-standard products. The move is part of the ministry Imports of these products were to the tune of $128 billion, or a fourth of the total purchases from overseas, in FY19, well before the pandemic struck. Of these, the DPIIT has notified QCOs for 26 items and the remaining 45 are under consideration, However, keeping with the principle of free and fair trade and to ensure domestic consumers have access to quality products, both Indian manufacturers and foreign suppliers will have to conform to the same standard specifications. Importantly, concerned about protectionism by stealth adopted by some nations, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal last week asked industry associations to flag non-tariff barriers faced by Indian exporters in various countries so that New Delhi can firm up appropriate responses wherever feasible. Industry sources say the responses could be in the form of subjecting imports to strict quality parameters. So far, QCOs have been issued for a total of 100 products under the BIS Act, the source said. These include air conditioner, toys, footwears, pressure cooker and microwave. Separately, the QCOs for another 15 products, including gas cylinders, valves and regulators, have been notified under the Indian Explosives Act. The QCOs issued by the government are in sync with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, said the source. Apart from the QCOs, the government has already firmed up standards as well as technical regulations for hundreds of products across sectors, including consumer electronics, steel, heavy machinery, telecom goods, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paper, rubber articles, glass, industrial machinery, some metal products, furniture, fertiliser, food and textiles. Though the move isn Government officials maintain that the idea behind the move to enforce standards is not just to curtail low-grade imports but to improve the domestic output of quality products as well. This will, in turn, help boost exports and substitute low-grade imports, in sync with Prime Minister Narendra Modi Interestingly, India Analysts have said India seems to have taken a cue from major developed and developing nations that have effectively employed various non-tariff measures to target non-essential and substandard imports. For instance, the US put in place as many as 8,453 non-tariff measures, followed by the EU (3,119), China (2,971), South Korea (1,929) and Japan (1,881), according to a commerce ministry analysis last year. In contrast, India has imposed only 504 of them. Of course, non-tariff measures are not always aimed at curbing imports (for instance, safety, quality and environmental standards are put in place by all countries for imported products). But what have often worried analysts is that they can be abused for trade protectionism. Since substandard products are usually imported at much cheaper rates, they not just pose risks to consumer health and environment but also hit domestic manufacturing because of the price-competitiveness. Many countries, especially the big economies, therefore, subject their imports to rigorous technical standards and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
Strongly condemning the terrorist strikes in Afghanistans capital Kabul, India has told the UN Security Council that these attacks reinforce the need for the world to stand unitedly against terrorism and all those who provide sanctuaries to terrorists. Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabuls airport on Thursday, killing at least 60 Afghans and 13 US troops. Let me begin by strongly condemning the terrorist attack in Kabul. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this terrorist attack, Indias Permanent Representative to the UN and President of the Security Council Ambassador T S Tirumurti said on Thursday. Speaking in the UNSC briefing on Ethiopia, Tirumurti said the attacks in Kabul ?reinforce the need for the world to stand unitedly against terrorism and all those who provide sanctuaries to terrorists. US President Joe Biden has vowed to hunt down the terrorists and make them pay for the deadly attacks outside the Kabul airport. To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm notice, we will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command, Biden told reporters at the White House on Thursday. The president said ISIL-K (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Khorasan Province) was behind the gruesome attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and at a hotel nearby. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, before heading into the UNSC meeting that discussed the humanitarian situation in Tigray, told reporters that he expressed in the ?strongest possible way his total condemnation about the horrific terrorist attack in Kabul. He expressed condolences to the families of all those that perished Afghans and those that were helping there, the Afghans, and died serving the lives of others. I have also asked my Special Representative [Deborah Lyons] to convey directly to Kabul my deep condolences to the Afghan people. The UN chief is meeting the five permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – on Monday and the situation in Afghanistan is expected to be discussed. When asked what he is hoping to achieve on Monday with his meeting with the P5, he said there are normal meetings that take place in the context of the work of the UN. Earlier, spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric said at the daily press briefing on Thursday that the Kabul attack underscores the volatility of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. The Secretary-General is following with great concern the ongoing situation in Kabul and especially at the airport. He condemns this terrorist attack which killed and injured a number of civilians and extends his deep condolences to the families of those killed. He stands in solidarity and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured, he said. This incident underscores the volatility of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan but also strengthens our resolve as we continue to deliver urgent assistance across the country in support of the Afghan people, Dujarric said. Responding to questions on the situation in Afghanistan, Dujarric said the UN is conducting headcount of the casualties and those injured and added that ?as far as we know at this moment, there is no casualties of UN staff. I think we did have a few number of staff around the airport, but theyre all reported safe and sound, he said. Dujarric said the UN has not at this point counted ourselves the number of killed and wounded. Were basing our information on what were getting from local sources and other places.
The COVID-19 test positivity rate is high in Kerala, going over 20 per cent in some districts which is an evidence of intense virus circulation, government sources said on Wednesday underlining the need for strict containment measures and strategic lockdown to bring down the cases. There is hesitancy to impose lockdown and strategic containment measures for reducing transmission intensity even as the small coastal state is contributing to over three-fourth of the new daily COVID-19 cases in the country, a government source said. With over 85 per cent of the coronavirus patients being in home isolation, there is a greater need for implementing stricter containment measures. In several areas, home isolation guidelines are not being followed properly which is leading to the spread of infection, the sources pointed out. As the state is following home quarantine as the key strategy, wider containment and strategic lockdown needs to be implemented to contain the transmission of the disease, especially in view of festivals, According to experts, if Kerala adopts strict containment measures, the cases can come down substantially within two weeks, the source stated. Kerala on Wednesday reported 32,803 new Covid cases and 173 deaths which pushed the total infection count to 40,90,036 and the fatalities to 20,961. The test positivity rate (TPR) was found to be 18.76 per cent after testing of 1,74,854 samples in the last 24 hours, according to a state government release. With this, 3,17,27,535 samples have been tested till now, it said. It also said that since Tuesday, 21,610 people have recovered from the infection, taking the total recoveries to 38,38,614 and the number of active cases to 2,29,912.
By Joydeep Sen It has been one year and four months since the shutdown of six debt funds by Franklin Templeton, on April 23, 2020. Not only were investors While the AMC wanted to pay back gradually, the process was stalled by various court cases filed by concerned investors or other stakeholders. Now when we look back at the episode, the developments were: (a) the Supreme Court assigned the task of liquidating instruments in the six portfolios and paying back to the investors to SBI Mutual Fund; (b) though SBI MF was expected to do it quickly enough, there was no deadline given, which is the positive part as it avoided fire sale or distress sale, which is what FT wanted to avoid in the first place; (c) as on date, 95% of the amount has been paid back to investors, taking the corpus size as on April 23, 2020 as the base data point; and (d) the balance amount in the portfolios is yet to be liquidated. This data point of 95% is the total across the six funds, with individual fund-level payouts ranging from 84% to 108%. This payout has happened in six tranches in 2021, in February, twice in April, June, July and the latest as of 27 August 2021 NAV. The total pay-out till date, since February 2021, is Rs 23,999 crore out of Rs 25,215 crore on April 23, 2020. FT took the hard call at the cost of their reputation to avoid distress sales which ultimately preserved value for investors as seen in the returns generated by these funds in the post winding-up period. What led to the issue? There were two basic issues: lack of liquidity in the secondary market and unit-holders The portfolios of these funds were mixed, with credit rating ranging from The market for securities rated less than With the two issues compounded, FT wound up those funds to avoid distress sales. What is the learning for debt fund investors from the episode? Recurrence of this kind of event is unlikely, and hopefully, will never happen again. One takeaway of the FT event has been that henceforth a fund cannot be shut unilaterally, it requires unitholders If an MF proposes winding up of a scheme, as per the Supreme Court, redemptions will be stalled as otherwise there would be a rush. Of the two outcomes possible in case of a vote by unitholders, a In case your fund is facing a rush of redemptions, it may be an alarm It may be difficult for investors to track, hence an adviser \/ distributor is required. Choosing credit-risk funds The event has also led to investors being selective in choosing credit-risk-oriented funds as liquidity in those papers, comprising approximately 65% of the portfolio rated Go for portfolios with a relatively better credit quality. There was a phase when defaults were happening frequently, starting with ILFS in September 2018. This happened through 2019 and an early part of 2020. There are few credit risk funds that survived without any default whereas a few had default issues. Defaults, thankfully, have not happened since March 2020.While several new regulations have been introduced to improve transparency of debt funds, it remains to be seen how they help investors take informed decisions on the way forward. The writer is a corporate trainer and an author
An expert committee set up by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has recommended phase-wise reopening of schools in the national capital, according to sources. In its report submitted on Wednesday, the panel has recommended that schools be reopened for all classes but senior-wing students be called in the first phase followed by middle-class students and ultimately the primary classes, they said. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government wants the schools to be reopened as soon as possible but is evaluating all factors to ensure the safety of students. The panel has submitted its report today. The recommendations include reopening of schools for all classes but in a phase-wise manner. The report will be studied in detail and a final decision will be taken soon in this regard, a source said. Asked about the DDMA panel report, Kejriwal told reporters, There has been a mixed experience of states which have reopened schools. We have been monitoring the situation. We want the schools to be reopened as soon as possible but dont want to take any risk with the safety of students. We will take a decision soon, he said. Currently, students of classes 10, 11 and 12 can visit schools with the consent of parents for admission and board-exam related activities. Noting that there is no harm now in reopening schools in the national capital, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had on August 6 asked officials to set up an expert committee to chalk out a detailed plan. The committee was set up after Deputy CM Manish Sisodia told the DDMA in a meeting chaired by Baijal that at least 90 per cent of the parents, who attended the mega parent-teacher meeting (PTM) at government schools, held between July 19 and 31, had voted in favour of reopening the schools. Sisodia had also noted in the meeting that school closure for over a year has led to a major loss of learning. The committee was tasked with finalising a detailed SOP, assessing the preparedness of schools, vaccination of teaching and non-teaching staff and addressing the concerns of parents. Schools in the national capital were ordered shut last year in March ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. While several states started partial reopening of schools in October last year, the Delhi government allowed physical classes only for grades 9-12 in January this year, which were again suspended following the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases during the aggressive second wave. The Delhi government had also allowed auditoriums and assembly halls in schools to be used for training and meeting purposes, but physical teaching and learning remain suspended.
India17 per cent to USD 33.14 billion in August on account of healthy growth in segments like engineering, petroleum products, gems and jewellery and chemicals, even as the trade deficit widened to USD 13.87 billion, according to the commerce ministry Imports in August rose 51.47 per cent to USD 47.01 billion, as against USD 31.03 billion in the corresponding month of 2020. The trade deficit in August 2020 was USD 8.2 billion. It stood at USD 55.9 billion during April-August this fiscal as compared to USD 22.7 billion during the same period of the previous year. Exports during April-August 2021 grew by 66.92 per cent to USD 163.67 billion, the data showed. Imports during April-August this fiscal rose by 81.75 per cent to USD 219.54 billion. Oil imports in August rose 80.38 per cent to USD 11.64 billion, while gold imports jumped 82.22 per cent to USD 6.75 billion. Exports of engineering, petroleum products, gems and jewellery and chemicals rose by about 59 per cent to USD 9.63 billion, 140 per cent to USD 4.55 billion, 88 per cent to USD 3.43 billion, and 35.75 per cent to USD 2.23 billion, respectively. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted: 45 per cent growth in merchandise exports in August 2021 over same period last year. Big boost to local businesses in capturing global markets. It will be a solid 30 per cent jump, Asked about container shortage issues being raised by exporters, he expressed confidence about resolution of the matter in the next 3-4 days. . The Cabinet Secretary yesterday held a meeting on this. Container rates have risen by 300-500 per cent. We are doing some things and I am confident that in the next 3-4 days some solutions will come out, Goyal would hold a meeting on the matter with different ministries next week as it needs the attention of ministries like railways and shipping. There can be two types of solution for the problem On this issue, Hand Tools Association President S C Ralhan suggested the government can ask shipping lines to import 1 lakh containers into India as rising prices would hurt the country due to COVID related restrictions. High rates are impacting our cost competitiveness, Former president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) S K Saraf too said the container shortage and prices issue would impact exports and the government should take some strong action to resolve the matter. Overall container production also needs to be increased, FIEO President A Sakthivel said the continuous growth in exports since March this year augurs well for the economy. ICRA9 billion in August, marking a four-month high.
Last year The lockdown was incredibly difficult for the community. Many people faced action from police, who themselves faced a huge task According to data from a report by Lokniti-CSDS and Common Cause, the lockdown changed the nature of policing. Almost 9 out of every 10 police personnel (88 per cent) felt the nature of policing changed from normal times. Clamping a lockdown was a totally new experience, for which the country The Fear of police The general public Over half or 56 per cent witnessed the police offer help; at the same time, 30 per cent people said the police were rude, while 36 per cent said they saw the cops use force against the general public. According to 33 per cent, increased curbs leading to the police and the public clashing was a common sight. Around 40 per cent reported not to have witnessed such incidents, while 20 per cent witnessed such cases on rare occasions. The police According to the data, there was a high level of fear of the cops ( Among the biggest fears was fines (57 per cent), followed by police beatings (55 per cent). Around 43 people reported they were fearful that the cops would force them to undertake a Covid-19 test or detain or even arrest them. Police view Over 27 per cent police personnel said managing pandemic-stricken people during the restrictions was the biggest challenge. Around 45 per cent said they had to face confrontations while checking travel passes, while 42 per cent faced problems in containment zones. Confrontations at shops selling essential food items was 38 per cent and 37 per cent during food distribution. Half the police personnel said they often imposed fines; while 24 per cent said they had done so on a few occasions. Around 66 per cent police personnel said they let people off with what they perceived to be minor punishments. Around 34 per cent said they or members of their team had often done this, while 32 per cent said it happened on a few occasions. About 7 per cent police personnel frequently used force, while 27 per cent said they had done so a few times. Around 12 per cent detained or arrested people, while a quarter said they had to resort to it a few times. The police interviews suggest affluent localities offered them the most support, followed by middle class and then poor localities Crime dynamics There was a substantial decline in crime rates as fewer people ventured outside. However, this data is only based on accounts of the police personnel and not the official, countrywide data that the government provides. Around 79 per cent police personnel reported a drop in overall crimes. While general crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, theft, and murder seemed to have declined during the lockdown, private offences such as domestic violence against women and cybercrime showed a significant uptick. The restrictions shone light on the interaction between the public and the police. Although the majority of people said the police The lockdown not only changed the pattern of daily life suddenly, but also marked a shift in the dynamics of crime and policing duties.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday asked all stakeholders to conclude Rs 50,000 crore Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid-Affected Sectors aimed at shoring up healthcare infrastructure in non-metros in time to deal with any future third wave. Observing that increasing the medical capacities in the rural areas as well as tier-II and -III towns are very critical, the finance minister said overall improvement in healthcare infrastructure is also going to help the revival of the economy. We need this (scheme) to be done within time. We need this to be done all over the country, especially in those parts where we have less medical infrastructure, and therefore what I would think is the Department of Financial Services together with the industry stakeholders and the banks.I think there needs to be a lot more information sharing in local areas, she said. She emphasised the need to sensitise all stakeholders-banks, medical fraternity, pharma industry or medical devices players at the regional level and hold awareness campaigns. The Scheme, approved by the Union Cabinet in June, would be applicable to all eligible loans sanctioned up to March 31, 2022, or till an amount of Rs 50,000 crore is sanctioned, whichever is earlier. The finance minister said she would, through the Department of Financial Services, monitor the progress of the scheme on a weekly basis to make sure that it reaches to the ground at the earliest, because time cannot be lost out on. We cannot afford delays. We need this to be done at the earliest, so that capacities are ramped up for any future third wave29 lakh crore stimulus package announced earlier this year. She stressed on the need to have matching skilled hands in terms of trained doctors, nurses and other technicians to handle the improved capacity. On the economic recovery, Sitharaman said the government is constantly discussing and engaging with the stakeholders to ensure that the revival of the economy is adequately supported. We are also reviving it (pandemic affect economy) in the context of, God forbid, a possible third wave. We do not want the third wave. We cant wish it away however..We are taking every step that is required to ramp up vaccination, give the country the possible scientifically tested immunity, a kind of shield with which even a variant can be faced with enough antibodies, she said. As far as vaccination is concerned Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said about 65 crore doses have been administered so far. Speaking at the occasion NITI Aayog member (health) V K Paul said there is significant shortage of health infrastructure in the country and there is a need to ramp this up. Paul also said there is a need to double the hospital bed to 2 per thousand from the current level of 1 per thousand. Observing that growth of private sector health infrastructure has been slow if not stagnant, he said, the industry should take advantage of this opportunity and expand their capacity. On one hand while we have to address the deficit we have also to look into the fact that the distribution across the country is also uniform, Financial Secretary Debasish Panda said. Its not alone a challenge but also an opportunity for the private sector to contribute in a big way and help the government in building and creating this infrastructure by taking advantage of this credit facility at very low cost, he added. The Union Cabinet in June approved the scheme enabling funding to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore to provide financial guarantee cover for brownfield expansion and greenfield projects related to health and medical infrastructure. The main objective of the Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid-Affected Sectors (LGSCAS) is to partially mitigate credit risk (primarily construction risk) and facilitate bank credit at lower rates of interest 7.95 per cent per annum. The LGSCAS scheme is aimed at boosting medical infrastructure in the country, specifically targeting underserved areas. The scheme provides a guarantee of 50 per cent for brownfield projects and 75 per cent to greenfield projects for loans sanctioned up to Rs 100 crore, set up at urban or rural locations other than eight metropolitan tier 1 cities. For aspirational districts, the guarantee cover for both brownfield expansion and greenfield projects shall be 75 per cent. The second Covid wave placed enormous stress on Indias healthcare infrastructure as well as livelihoods and business enterprises in many sectors. It has sharply brought out the need to enhance public and private investments in the health sector. SBI managing director C S Setty said the average ticket size is Rs 1.2 crore so far and about 2,800 applications have been received under the scheme. About 40 per cent sanction and disbursement is to diagnostic centres so far, he added.
Continuing strong momentum, Reliance Jio has added 5.46 million wireless subscribers in June, the highest in the industry for five straight months. Bharti Airtel, added 3.81 million in June, witnessing a strong recovery during the month after losing 4.61 million subscribers in May. However, Vodafone Idea though continues to lose subscribers with 4.28 million customers leaving the company. On the back of strong additions by Jio and Bharti, the overall wireless subscriber base rose 3.99 million in June to reach 1,180.83 million. In May, the overall wireless subscriber base had declined 6.27 million, as all the telcos barring Jio, had lost subscribers. The primary reason for the loss was the migration of workers to their native hometowns, which led to the deactivation of multiple SIMs. As per data shared by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Jio27% in June to reach 436.69 million. Similarly, Bharti Airtel09% to 352.11 million. Vodafone Idea55% to 273.33 million while BSNL35 million. In terms of wireless broadband users, Jio69 million, followed by Airtel at 193.74 million, Vodafone Idea at 121.41 million. Competition for 4G users is getting heated up as mobile operators try to add and upgrade more users. Reliance is giving a JioPhone for Rs 1,999, which comes with 24 months of unlimited service. Another plan is for `1,499, which comes with 12 months of unlimited service. As there is so much customer movement, the MNP requests have also been consistently high for the past few months. The MNP requests stood at 12.27 million in June. In terms of wireline broadband subscribers, Reliance Jio has been adding the maximum number of users, primarily due to the rollout of its fibre connectivity across the country. Jio added around 220,000 wireline broadband users in June followed by 130,000 of Airtel. BSNL managed to curb attrition of wireline broadband users in June as the company witnessed no change in user base. As of June, the wireline broadband base of BSNL stood at 6.03 million, followed by 3.37 million of Airtel, 3.22 million of Reliance Jio, 1.91 million of ACT and 1.06 million of Hathway Cable.