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The government will launch the e-SHRAM portal to maintain a database of workers in the unorganised sector on August 26, Union Minister for Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav said on Tuesday. Yadav on Tuesday launched the logo of the e-SHRAM portal, through which the government aims to register 38 crore unorganised workers such as construction labourers, migrant workforce, street vendors, and domestic workers, among others. Following the launch of the portal, the workers from the unorganised sector can begin their registration from the same day, he said. The minister said the portal will be launched on August 26 and on the same day, a national toll free number 14434 will also be launched to assist and address the queries of the workers seeking registration on the portal. As part of the initiative, the workers will be issued an e-SHRAM card containing a 12 digit unique number. The objective behind the move is integration of social security schemes of the government. The details of the workers will also be shared by state governments and departments. A worker can register using his\/her Aadhaar card number and bank account details, apart from filling other necessary details like date of birth, home town, mobile number, and social category.
The US Mission in India has approved more student visa applicants in 2021 than ever before. Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Mission According to an official statement from the Embassy of the US in New Delhi, on Monday August 23, 2021, The Mission is looking forward to another great season as it is facilitating efforts for spring semester over the coming months. For the fall semester the interviews for a given year used to start in May, unfortunately due to the second wave, the US mission was forced to delay the process for the students Once the second wave died down, in July the Mission resumed visa services. This was done ensuring that the health and safety of the applicants was not endangered. The consular teams worked to ensure that visa appointments were made to help the students to arrive for their academic programmes on time. All the consulates and their staff worked to not only match but to surpass their pre-COVID work load. Later this week, on August 27, interested students can also participate in upcoming EducationUSA University Virtual Fairs, for prospective graduate students. This will be followed by another virtual fair on September 3, for prospective undergraduate students. To understand the educational opportunities available, during the virtual fairs the prospective Indian students will get an opportunity to engage with US university representatives and EducationUSA advisers. There are over 4,500 nationally and regionally accredited colleges and universities in the US which are recognized worldwide for the quality of their programs, faculty, and facilities. On the number of students Indian students also enrich US society, achieve high levels of success in academics, and deepen the bonds of friendship between our countries. When will the visa for other categories open? According to the official statement issued by the US Embassy in New Delhi, \u201d
With the recovery in demand and growing confidence in economic growth, very few corporates have opted or looking for debt restructuring under the RBIs Resolution Framework 2.0, according to a report. Domestic rating agency Crisil Ratings in the report released on Thursday said barely 1 per cent of eligible companies in its rating portfolio have opted for or are contemplating restructuring under the Resolution Framework 2.0. The finding is based on an analysis of around 4,700 companies rated by the agency. The more localised and less stringent nature of curbs\/restrictions during the second wave has meant relatively lower disruption in business activities compared to the first wave. So, the muted response is par for the course, he said. On May 5, 2021, the RBI had announced Resolution Framework 2.0 for borrowers, including individuals, small businesses, and MSMEs with an aggregate exposure of up to Rs 25 crore, provided they had not availed of benefits under any of the earlier restructuring frameworks (including Resolution Framework 1.0) and were standard as on March 31, 2021. On June 4, 2021, the RBI raised the aggregate debt threshold to Rs 50 crore from Rs 25 crore. This increase in threshold led to about two-thirds of the Crisil-rated mid-sized companies becoming eligible for the restructuring 2.0 scheme, the report said. Crisil said its investment-grade rated corporates have shown strong resilience amid the pandemic and hardly anyone is planning to avail restructuring 2.0. In fact, 95 per cent of companies, which have opted or showing an inclination for restructuring 2.0, are rated in the sub-investment grade rating category, the report said. Within these, four out of five are rated in the B or lower rating categories, clearly indicating that only companies with weak credit quality are exploring restructuring, it said. The agencys director Nitin Kansal said most of the companies that have opted for, or are contemplating, restructuring 2.0 belong to the low-to-medium resilience sectors such as hospitality, educational services, textiles, construction and gems and jewellery. Any weakening of sentiment around recovery and a likely third wave leading to fresh curbs on economic activity will influence more companies to seek restructuring 2.0, the agency said.
Investment is not always just about stocks, bonds, etc. Apart from such traditional investment options, an increasing number of people are investing in non-traditional types of assets, such as jewellery, fine art, vintage cars, wine, etc. Industry experts say these investments are items that people are passionate about and enjoy owning. Investing in such assets will also help them make money at the same time, as the value of these items appreciates over time. Investing in such non-traditional assets that one is passionate about is termed passion investing. Passion investing is an ideal way to create long-term investment strategies that could be rewarding for the investor. Prashant Joshi, Co-founder, Fintrust Advisors LLP, says, Passion investing can be an effective way for portfolio diversification when done correctly. It has transitioned from a hobby to a lifestyle to investment over decades. In Passion Investment, the word passion is followed by investment; hence it should be considered a passion first and investment later. Having said that, one should keep in mind that this type of investment is speculative, therefore can not guarantee a return. Passion investing can be an effective way for an individual to diversify his\/her investment portfolio, at the same time enjoy their wealth and satisfy their desires while making money when the value of these items increases over a period of time. Investment strategy Passion investing should only be considered a long-term investment strategy and a part of a broader wealth management strategy. Joshi says, While investing in such type of assets, it is best to choose the asset that the investor loves and have knowledge of. He further adds, One should look at how different passion investments have performed over the past ten years and then buy the assets they are passionate about considering it has the potential to appreciate. It is prudent to build it over time and diversify within this sub-asset class rather than putting all eggs in one basket. For instance, with investment in art collection, experts say investors could allocate 3-5 per cent of their portfolio, and gradually increase up to 10 per cent of the portfolio, as a sub-asset class. Are these investments volatile in nature? The value of these assets generally, does not rise and fall simultaneously as the stock market, so experts say they could help minimize the pain of stock market downturns. In addition, these types of investments typically tend to do well during times of economic uncertainty. However, note that their financial returns are far from assured or predictable. Things to be aware of Passion investing could be highly attractive, but there is also a high level of risks involved, as passion investing are substantially different to other investment markets. Industry experts say detailed due diligence is vital for any investor, as the available market intelligence and public information about such investment may be limited. Additionally, it is imperative to know the asset, the seller, hidden costs, and the assets authenticity. The market is not only small, but opaque, highly fragmented, as well as unregulated, and usually have issues like illiquidity and valuation subjectivity. A comprehensive due diligence process and experienced legal and transaction counsel can help investors take informed investment decisions and mitigate risk, adds Joshi.
The British government says it is preparing to vaccinate children ages 12-15 against the coronavirus, even though the inoculation campaign has not yet been approved by the countrys vaccine advisors. The Department of Health said it wants to be ready to hit the ground running once approval comes and be in position to deliver shots in schools when the new academic year starts in most of the country. The return of children to class in September is expected to drive up Britains already high coronavirus infection rate. Britain is currently giving coronavirus vaccinations to people 16 and up, as well as those between 12 and 15 with underlying health conditions or who live with vulnerable adults. Britains medicines regulator has approved the use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the 12 to 15 age group. But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which sets policy, has not signed off on shots for most adolescents that young. The United States, Canada and several European countries are already vaccinating people who are at least 12 years old.
I had proposed a retail-focus approach for the LIC IPO (bit.ly\/2YpBUqx). Here are some specific suggestions. Restructure the allocation buckets The IPO should have anchor investors (with 10% reservation) as they provide a significant comfort on pricing. The allotment to them should be at their final bid price. Increase the retail bucket from 35% to 60%. Within this, 15% should be reserved for the LIC family: 29 crore policy holders, 1.15 lakh employees and 15.50 lakh agents. Earmark 20% for first-time investors (new demat accounts); LIC can be an excellent vehicle to get new investors into the equity market. The balance 25% can go to the general retail investors. Furthermore, earmark 25% of the issue for QIBs. Of this, reserve 10% for domestic institutions. This should include the long-term pension funds of NPS that now allows IPOs. The balance 15% may be reserved for other QIBs. Finally, only 5% should be kept for HNIs, as the majority of them, with IPO financing, only chase listing-day gains and distort the market. If the retail bucket does not get adequate response, it would not impact the issue as the undersubscribed portion is allowed to be allocated to the QIBs. If the 60% retail bucket is not pursued, more than 35% should surely be considered. Otherwise, clawback should be introduced, as used in some jurisdictions. Under this, if the retail portion is oversubscribed, under a formula, shares from the QIB bucket are transferred to retail. So, if the retail portion, for example, sees a 2X subscription, the retail tranche increases by, say, 10% (to 45%). Pricing for retail In pricing, the government should leave enough on the table. It should recognise that when the share price goes up post-listing, it will benefit the most, with 95% of the shares in its hold. For retail, a 10%-discount on the anchor investors The present 5% discount can disappear in a matter of days given the volatility of the market. Even if quick monies are to be made, let these be by the man on the street. If necessary, to prevent flipping, a one-month lock-in may be prescribed. Consider this discount as wealth created by public enterprises being rightfully shared with the public. There would be no criticism as allotments shall be made to anonymous small investors. Significantly, LIC must sustain the trust behind its name. In trying to maximise IPO price, it can dent it. Moreover, a negative performance post-listing shall see a flood of bad press, with an adverse impact on its insurance business. Future dilutions may also get adversely impacted. Pricing for QIBs\/HNIs There should be a price band of 20%, with the anchor price being the base. Even better would be to have no upper price band at all; let the intelligent QIBs, through a closed auction, bid at any price above the anchors Allotments in both scenarios should be on highest price downwards basis. Many long-term QIBs would like to acquire large quantities and hence be willing to pay a premium on the anchor price, as any bulk purchase later from the market can lead to big spikes in the price. This way, the government shall also benefit from larger inflows, offsetting the discount to retail. Publicise in advance The new pricing and allocation schemes should be finalised soon and widely publicided ahead of the IPO. Banks and LIC agents should be incentivised to aggressively get new demat accounts opened. Future dilutions LIC could do an FPO (of 5%), say, six months later. In this, a suitable reservation should be made for investors who had not got allotments in the IPO and to new demat accountholders then, offering them a 10% discount on the market price. This would expand the investor base even further. Subsequent dilutions should also be planned accordingly. Go ahead Yet, the IPO is still a few months away. It must not be postponed, even if the market exuberance evaporates. The government should not just wait for the markets to bounce back. There is never a bad time for a good investment. A friend, S Ramesh of Kotak, suggested that the LIC IPO opening date may be made the National IPO Day. I couldn With a well-designed offering, it can be the perfect 75th year of Independence gift to millions of small investors. The author is Founder-chairman, Prime Database
Smog towers may provide immediate relief from air pollution in a small area but they are a costly, quick fix measure with no scientific evidence to back their long-term benefits, several experts said after the first such structure was inaugurated in Delhi. Governments should instead tackle root causes and promote renewable energy to tackle air pollution and reduce emissions, the experts said. It will be really unfortunate if other cities decide to follow suit and set up these expensive, ineffective towers. They are an enormous distraction from what should be the governments focus: reducing emissions, Santosh Harish, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, told PTI. While smog towers might come across as a visible solution to air pollution, there is no scientific evidence – even globally – to support that they can filter outdoor air effectively, added Tanushree Ganguly, programme lead at the Delhi-based Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW). Their comments came soon after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated Indias first smog tower in the citys Connaught Place area on Monday. The government claimed it will purify 1,000 cubic meters of air per second within a radius of around one kilometre. Kejriwal said the over 24-meter tall structure, the first of its kind in India, has been set up as a pilot project and initial trends will be available within a month. If the pilot project is successful, more smog towers will be installed in the national capital. Another 25-metre tower, built by the Central government at Anand Vihar, is expected to become operational by August 31. Each tower costs around Rs. 22 crore. Air will be sucked in from the top of the tower, filtered, and released through fans at the bottom. Arguing that anti-smog towers are an ineffective means to control pollution, environment experts raised concerns over their feasibility and said there are no studies to assess the impact of this technology on ambient air quality. Environmentalist Harjeet Singh noted that the installation of the smog tower in Delhi is just a quick fix solution. It will provide immediate relief from air pollution, and that too only in a small catchment area. We must tackle the root causes of air pollution and promote green public transport, adopt better waste management practices and switch to renewable energy, Singh told PTI. CEEWs Ganguly said the data on the effectiveness of the newly installed smog tower should be pursued rigorously by the government and be made available publicly. Only once the evidence is available should the state and other parts of the country consider investing in more such towers, Ganguly told PTI. Severe air pollution in north India has become an annual affair and smog towers have often been viewed as a quick solution to counter the foul air. In November 2019, an expert panel estimated that Delhi will need a total of 213 anti-smog towers to battle the pollution crisis. In 2018, China built a 100-metre smog tower in Xian. The project led to noticeable improvement in air quality in the city, according to researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences who monitored the project. However, experts in India were unimpressed. According to Singh, questions have been raised about the efficacy of even smog towers in China. We need to focus on the sources and promote solutions that are systemic and promote behavioural changes, he added. Agreeing that smog towers have no scientific basis as a policy measure to tackle air pollution, Harish said, there is no evidence from previous pilots to justify setting up this tower at such high costs. Ganguly concurred. Rather than investing further in unproven technologies, Delhi must set an example by redirecting these funds on strengthening monitoring of construction sites and industrial units, improving waste management in the city, and prioritising health risk communications, she said. There are different technologies used to clean the air. One uses a highly effective particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter, which filters smaller pollution particles and is used in indoor air purifiers. Another method uses electrostatic precipitators that attract pollution particles and collect them at the base of the tower. The smog tower in Connaught Place has 40 fans and 5,000 filters developed by experts at the University of Minnesota which also helped design the smog tower in Xian. A Delhi government statement said the smog tower is based on a downdraft air-flow model. Its 40 huge fans will suck air from the top of a special type of canopy structure and release clean air filtered through novel geometry filters, it said. Since its a new technology, it is being implemented on an experimental basis. Tata Projects Limited (TPL) built the smog tower with technical support from IIT-Bombay and IIT-Delhi, which will analyse its data.
Retail investors often try to time the market which is not the optimal strategy most of the time, says Jimmy Patel, MD CEO, Quantum Mutual Fund. In an interview to Saikat Neogi, he says investors should map their equity allocations to their long-term financial goals and stagger their investments to achieve the best results from equity. Excerpts: Equity-oriented funds saw over Rs 22,000 crore of net sales in July, the highest so far in 2021. Do you see the positive sentiments in equity markets aided by robust NFO collections continue for some time? The sharp rise in markets and overall improvement in the economic environment has led to investors putting more money in equity mutual funds. The mutual fund industry has also gone into overdrive and has been launching a slew of NFOs. However, it is best to advise caution to the retail investors. With valuations at a premium, especially in the mid-cap and the small-cap side, there is a significant possibility of new investors facing disappointment (in terms of returns) in the near term and pull out money at the wrong time, out of fear; if the markets correct sharply. Over the long term, as the understanding of equity as a long-term asset class (and not a short-term speculative avenue) increases, flows to the equity mutual funds should improve structurally. Many conservative investors have opted for hybrid funds. How do you see such funds growing in the next one year? Many conservative investors are opting for hybrid funds now to compensate for lower returns in fixed deposits, as well as to get a flavour of equities. We may see this trend continue going forward. Even balanced hybrid funds and dynamic asset allocation funds tend to be equity-biased as and when they try to generate better returns and alpha. While achieving these objectives, these hybrid funds invariably end up taking more risk, which may not always match the risk profile of conservative investors. If these preferred hybrid fund categories are not able to provide downside protection through the stock market volatility as expected, conservative investors may not be comfortable staying on. Floater funds have been witnessing positive flows owing to the uncertainty around interest rates. Do you see that changing after some time? Floating rate bonds are a good investment choice in a rising interest rate environment. As market interest rates move up, coupon rates on these bonds reset to higher levels. However, there is limited stock of quality floater securities available in the Indian debt market and secondary market liquidity is much desired in this segment. So, it would be extremely difficult with an increase in the AUM size in this narrowly focused category to not compromise on the portfolio quality. How should a long-term investor build a portfolio between large, mid, and small-cap funds? Investors often buy different equity mutual funds to diversify but inadvertently buy funds with similar strategies and portfolios. Diversification in the mutual fund portfolio needs to be backed by proper research. Ideally, 15% allocation should be towards a well-managed value fund, 15% to an ESG focused equity fund and then a layer of 5-6 equity mutual funds diversified across caps and styles. Value funds aim to ignore short-term market movements and wait patiently for value to emerge as it allows them to generate steady returns over the long term and limit downside risk. What gives ESG funds an edge over other equity mutual funds is that the companies that are strong on ESG have relatively better long-term financial prospects. Whereas, an equity fund-of-funds is a prudent investment option to build the major portion of your equity portfolio by investing in just one fund. This fund gives investors exposure to funds that are actively managed and lets them rely on the fund managers capability to take advantage of the correction and build a robust portfolio. Why are investors chasing stocks of mid-and-small cap segments irrespective of fundamentals? Also, has the current mid-cap rally turned a little frothy? Since May 2020, the midcap index has not given a negative monthly return (month on month basis) till July 2021. Even the small-cap index has given negative monthly returns only once (month on month basis) in the past 13 months. This has created a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) among the retail investors. Macro-economic shocks over the last few years like demonetisation, hastily implemented GST, ILFS crisis and Covid-19 induced lockdowns have helped the large companies become larger and stronger, helped by scale and balance sheet strength. The smaller companies however have weakened and lost market share. In this backdrop, as Covid-19 related uncertainty still lingers on, the mid-cap valuations are at close to all-time highs. Markets are choosing to ignore the risks associated with investing in smaller companies, but this ignoring of risks could reverse quickly if global liquidity dries up or we face a Covid-19 third wave.
Nearly 80 per cent of prospective home buyers prefer to purchase properties that are ready-to-move-in or nearing completion, while only around 20 per cent of customers want to buy newly launched flats, according to a survey conducted by CII and Anarock. After pricing, the survey suggests that developer credibility, project design and location are the most important attributes while selecting a home. Industry body CII and property consultant Anarock conducted an online survey during January-June this year with a sample size of 4,965 participants. As per the survey findings, ready-to-move-in (completed) property continues to be the most preferred among the prospective buyers with 32 per cent in favour. Around 24 per cent of respondents are willing to buy properties that will be ready within six months, while 23 per cent will not mind buying properties to be ready within a year. Only 21 per cent are now willing to purchase a newly launched property. CII and Anarock said the COVID pandemic has altered homebuyers preferences significantly, with the second wave being a significant change catalyst. For the first time, affordable housing is the lowest priority, with more than 34 per cent respondent home seekers focused on properties priced between Rs 90 lakh to Rs 2.5 crore, Anarock said in a statement. The survey shows that 35 per cent of respondents favoured properties priced between Rs 45-90 lakh, just 27 per cent of respondents voted for affordable housing (priced below Rs 45 lakh). In the previous H2 2020 survey, about 36 per cent of respondent property seekers eyed budget housing. While attractive pricing continues to rule the roost of must-haves, established developer credibility is the second-highest priority for 77 per cent of the surveyed buyers. Commenting on the report, Anarock Chairman Anuj Puri, who is also Chairman ? CII Real Estate Knowledge Session, said: The budget range which this survey identifies as the hottest seller is a surprise, but it makes sense if we consider that it is precisely this segment of buyers who are least financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Online home sales are gaining traction, with close to 60 per cent of the entire property buying process now being conducted online – against 39 per cent in the pre-pandemic period, he added. From property search to documentation and legal advice to down payments, homebuyers are leveraging the new tidal wave of digital technology driving the Indian housing sector, Puri said. He noted that only developers with sufficient online presence will remain relevant going forward. Social media are among the most effective property marketing platforms at this stage. Among other findings of the survey, 71 per cent of respondent property seekers in the second wave are end-users, and only 29 per cent are investors. In the first wave period survey, investors accounted for 41 per cent. About 64 per cent of prospective buyers are likely to respond favourably to offers and discounts during their online property search. Prevailing lowest-best home loan rates have been a major factor driving home sales despite the pandemic. At least 82 per cent of respondents consider low home loan rates as a major positive factor influencing their property purchase decision amid COVID-19, the report said.
IRCTC Contest: Attention travel lovers and vloggers! Heres a chance to win up to Rs 1 lakh cash prize. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and CoRover are offering an exciting contest like never before. All you have to do is to create and upload a video. The contest mission is to make and submit videos, featuring or explaining any Indian Tourist Place, Indian Railways, Indian Trains and services or products of the e-ticketing and catering arm of the national transporter such as IRCTC Ticketing, IRCTC Catering, IRCTC Air, IRCTC Tourism, IRCTC Affiliation, IRCTC Chatbot, etc. The last date for the public to apply is 31 August 2021. Following are the categories of videos: IRCTC Tourism: Rail Tour Packages, Flight Packages (International as well as Domestic), Deluxe Tourist Train Packages, Bharat Darshan Train Packages, IRCTC Tourism Mobile Application and Website, LTC Packages as well as other related packages on the web portal IRCTC Air: Booking of flight through IRCTC, LTC with IRCTC Air, Features of IRCTC Air App as well as IRCTC Air Website, free travel insurance in IRCTC Air, deals in IRCTC Air, FLYat50 offer IRCTC e-catering: IRCTC e-catering, IRCTC e-catering Website as well as Mobile App (like introduction, booking emeal process, payment mode, etc.) IRCTC iMudra: IRCTC iMudra Website as well as Mobile App and its features IRCTC SBI Card: IRCTC SBI card as well as features of the card New IRCTC e-ticketing web portal and its features as well as app and its features IRCTC Tejas Express: Lucknow-Delhi and Ahmedabad-Mumbai route and features IRCTC Bus service bookings Booking of Retiring Room through IRCTC website Booking of IRCTC Hotel Train Charter, Coach Charter and Saloon Charter by IRCTC Artificial Intelligence Chatbot from IRCTC IRCTCs affiliate marketing program for only certain products Travel Tips, Testimonials and Others Attention #travel lovers #vloggers. #IRCTC #CoRover are here with an exciting contest. Create a video stand a chance to win big. Hurry! Last date for video submission is 31st Aug #Contest #details on The second position winner will be awarded with Rs 50,000, certificate and trophy, while the third position winner will be awarded with Rs 25,000, certificate and trophy. Rest all winners of this contest will get a Gift Card worth Rs 500 as well as a certificate. Overall, nearly 300 winners will be selected and there will be winners from each State and Union Territory, based on the video quality. The videos that are selected would be uploaded in the official IRCTC and\/or Maharaja channels.