No One has to Sleep Hungry Anymore ! Rahul Gandhi launches ‘Indira Canteen’ in Bengaluru

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today launched the Karnataka government’s subsidised food canteens ‘Indira Canteen’ here that would provide breakfast at Rs five and lunch and dinner at a cost of Rs 10.

Apparently taking the cue from the popular ‘Amma canteens’ in Tamil Nadu, introduced by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the Siddaramaiah government had announced setting up of the canteens in the state budget for 2017-2018.

Initially referred to as ‘Namma Canteen’, the name was later changed to ‘Indira Canteen’ as Congress legislators sought to give a political touch to the populist announcement ahead of the Assembly polls early next year by naming it after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

An amount of Rs 100 crore was provided in the budget to set up the canteens in 198 wards of Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

Congratulating the state government for the canteen programme, Gandhi said it is designed to make sure that not a single person in Bengaluru goes hungry.

Calling the world an “unfair place”, the Congress vice president, who also had a lunch at the canteen, said it is targeted at the working class like construction workers and auto rickshaw drivers.

“There are many people in this city who live in huge houses and have plenty of food, who drive in big cars and for them food is not a big issue..but there are millions of people in Bengaluru like construction workers, those who own small shops, autorickshaw or taxi drivers, barbers and people who don’t get that much money, and it is those people at whom this Indira Canteen is targeted,” he said.

“We want the people from poorest and weakest sections in Bengaluru to feel that they will not have to stay hungry in this city. There cannot be a single minute where a poor person in Bengaluru is hungry. We want every single person to know and understand that,” he added.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Congress General Secretary in-charge of the state K C Venugopal, the party’s state unit chief G Parameshwara and Bengaluru in-charge Minister K J George, among others were present at the event.

Taking pride over the Congress government conceptualising such a canteen, Gandhi said the intention was that the quality of food and cleanliness in it be the same as the most expensive restaurants in Bengaluru.

“I would like the government to pay special attention to this fact that the canteen should have excellent quality food, excellent hygiene and people walking out of this canteen must feel that they not only had safe food, but tasty food. I think we owe this to every single citizen,” he said.

He said that the chief minister had informed him about extending the programme to other cities of the state.

In the first phase, 101 canteens were launched today and the remaining 97 will start functioning from October 2, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike officials said.

Though it was initially proposed to have 198 canteens launched by the Independence Day, the number was later brought down to 125 owing to constrains related in getting land for construction of canteens in all the wards.

A total of 27 kitchens will be set up across the city to cater to these canteens, of which 14 are ready and six are currently in working condition.

According to officials, the canteens as of now will serve 500 plates of food, keeping in mind the budgetary allocation, and this is likely to be increased in the future.

Claiming that BBMP had ensured that project take shape to this level within 60 days after getting the order on June 12, officials said construction of canteens is being undertaken by KEF Infra Ltd, while Rewards, and Cheftalk Food and Hospitality Services have given the catering contract for the canteens.

Are there ways to reduce interest rate on your loans, credit card? First be a good borrower

You get a loan for almost everything under the sun these days. And the happy news now is that the loans are getting cheaper as the interest rates in the economy is on the decline. Earlier in this months the Reserve Bank of India cut its policy rate by 25 basis points. Much  before that the banks had already started reducing rates offered for savings and fixed deposits. And now a further reduction in loan rate is a given.

But, historically banks are known to pass on the lower rate benefit to acquire new customers while the existing borrowers simply stick on higher rate. Today we bring you three financial strategies to lower your interest rate on credit card, home loan and personal loan.

There’s no doubt that credit card is the most expensive debt that one can have. It can reach to as much as 40 percent per annum. So what can you do?

First try and negotiate a lower rate. This will work only if you have been a good borrower. The associate you speak on phone mostly has no authority, and may resist even taking your request. So make sure you ask the associate to forward the request to the respective department head.

But then it is always better to visit the bank and make a formal request on paper. You can present your case better.

It will take a couple of days before you get the answer. If your current lender is not willing to lower your interest rate, then think of switching to another card using the balance transfer facility, wherein you can transfer outstanding balance from one credit card to another.

When you do a balance transfer, usually you pay a much lower interest rate on the card on which the balance is transferred. So that way, you will be able to manage or pay the monthly dues with some ease. Usually, you can do two types of balance transfers. One is the “fixed duration” option and the other is the “lifetime duration” option.

The fixed duration option is a limited period offer. Here, usually you will have to pay your dues within 3-12 months. During this period, the bank offers you a lower interest rate around 0.80 percent per month or 9 percent per annum.

In the lifetime option, you get a lifetime to pay back the dues. But the interest charged isn’t as low as the fixed rate option. It will be slightly less than what you pay on your regular credit card –around 1-2 percent per month or 12-24 percent per annum. However, most of the banks give limited period offer.

To use the facility, you will need to give details of your current card to the new bank and do some paperwork. After the bank verifies the details and if everything is in place, it will send you a demand draft within two weeks. The draft will be for the transferred amount in favour of the old credit card bank.

Remember, balance transfer is a temporary solution. It will help you lower your interest rate, but you should be careful using credit cards in the first place.

Home loan

When it comes to home loan, you better roll up your sleeve and start getting into bargain mode. As mentioned earlier, negotiate with your current lender for a lower rate. In short, re-negotiate your current deal. If you’ve been a good borrower and have been regular in servicing your EMIs, the bank might just give you a lower rate right away.

To make a substantial amount of saving you will need to ensure that the new lender offers you at least 100-150 basis points lower rate. That way, you would be able to save larger sum on your loan. Suppose your outstanding loan amount is, say, Rs 50 lakh and you have 15 years left to service it at 10.15 percent per anum rate. If the new bank is ready to give you 9 percent rate, the total interest cost of remaining loan would be cheaper by Rs 6,25,803. That indeed is a big saving.

If you switch at the beginning of the loan tenor, you pay a higher amount towards the interest component, while towards the end of the loan, you pay higher amount toward the principal part. You get a better deal when you switch during the initial years of the loan.

One more thing to remember, if you had taken the loan after April 2016, you are already on MCLR or marginal cost of funds based lending rate. But if you had taken the loan before April 2016, you are still stuck on base rate. In that case, consider switching your loan to MCLR as it aims to be more real time, due to a pre-determined reset clause.

Personal loan

When it comes to a personal loan, ask your bank for a lower rate. Chances of that happening are slim to none, considering most personal loans are fixed rate loans. You could consider switching to another lender. If you want to transfer the balance to another lender, you have to pay a pre-closure fee of 2-5 percent of the outstanding amount. This could make the transfer a very expensive ordeal. An alternative way to get a lower rate is taking a loan against an asset (as they are cheaper) and paying off the personal loan. But remember it depends on specific cases.

One way to reduce the outflow is to increase the EMI and reduce the tenure. This will make the total cost of the loan smaller. Of course, check if your lender allows you to do so. However, banks usually every trick possible on the customer to not lower interest rate on personal loans.

Airtel offers 1000GB free broadband data for 8 months

The telecom sector in India is still at war, even after almost a year since the launch of disruptor, Reliance Jio. Airtel, being the biggest incumbent player in the industry is probably the only company that is equipped to tackle the onslaught of offers from Jio.

The data-wars were not limited to the telecom industry; months after the launch of Reliance Jio, the company launched JioFiber. JioFiber specifically targeted the broadband market of India. Though it hasn’t been launched commercially, it still introduced disruption in the broadband sector.

In response, Airtel launched broadband plans that sound too good to be true. The company is offering 1000GB of data with most of their high-end broadband plans. The plans were launched in May but are still keeping Airtel consumers from straying towards JioFiber.

According to Airtel, these are the best selling broadband plans. There are four plans (Rs 1099, Rs 1299, Rs 1499, Rs 1799) which can get you 1000 GB of bonus data, which will be valid till March 31, 2018. The lowest plan of Rs 899 will fetch the user 500 GB till March 31, 2018.

The offer cannot be combined with any other offer by Airtel and can only be availed by an online purchase. The offer is being provided by Airtel broadband to any customer who wishes to avail Airtel’s DSL services after 12th June 2017.

In order for a new customer to avail the Offer, the eligible customer must visit the page www.airtel.in/broadband and select base plan, enter mobile number and address to raise request for new broadband connection or contact customer care to apply for subscription to Airtel Broadband services.

Upon subscription to one of the select plans under the present offers, and upon expiry of a period of 7 days following the date of activation of their new connection, a customer shall, subject to feasibility at the point of connection, be able to enjoy additional data, in addition to the base plan chosen by them, which comes with the same speed as per chosen base plan.

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Rivigo raises $75 million funding from Warburg Pincus 

New Delhi: Private equity firm Warburg Pincus has invested $75 million (about Rs 500 crore) in surface transport logistics provider Rivigo Services for a minority stake, in one of the largest equity financing rounds raised by an Indian startup this year.

The investment, is the third transaction by the global PE firm in the country’s logistics sector, having already backed ecommerce-focused logistics solutions provider Ecom Express and third-party logistics company Stellar Value Chain Solutions over the past two years.

“This (funding) is going to be primarily utilized towards technology and hiring. We have to scale up our tech talent, investments in IoT, automation and data sciences a lot more. We also have to build our next level of leadership cadre, given the growth we’re seeing,” Deepak Garg, chief executive, Rivigo, told ET.

According to Garg, who co-founded the Gurgaon-based truck fleet operator with fellow McKinsey alumnus Gazal Kalra in 2014, the company is also poised to reap benefits of the recently-passed Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which is expected to lead to faster turnaround times, create pull-based supply chains and help in the re-configuration of warehousing and distribution networks.

“The company is delivering a fundamentally superior proposition for customers and truck drivers by deploying a unique operating model, enabled by technology and analytics. The prospects are likely to be further enhanced upon implementation of GST,” said Viraj Sawhney, managing director, Warburg Pincus.

The investment is believed to have valued Rivigo, which competes with the likes of legacy operators such as GATI and Blue Dart, declined to share the specifics of the transaction.

The company, which serves sectors including ecommerce, frozen food, dairy, automotive and pharmaceuticals among others, has also developed algorithms and filed patents in the USA that deal with managing fuel efficiency and pilferage, availability of drivers in the relay system, and loading plans to help reduce damages to products carried by its trucks.

“We believe we can drive a lot of global innovation in trucking and logistics sector through what we are building at Rivigo,” Garg said, adding that the problems that Rivigo is solving are globally unsolved and a $2.5 to 3 trillion revenue market.

Sawhney will also join the Rivigo board, which also counts Myntra founder Mukesh Bansal as an independent director.

The company will continue to further build out its network of processing centres and pit stops across the country, as well as enhance its track fleet size to about 5,000 over the next 12 months. It currently operates currently about 1,500 vehicles, and employs about 3,000 drivers.

 

Big Shopping Days Sale in Flipkart

Bengaluru: Flipkart has announced its ‘Big Shopping Days’ sale from March 7 to 9, with the online marketplace offering discounts on smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets.

In addition to the offers, consumers shopping on Flipkart can also get an additional 10 percent extra discount on every purchase made via State Bank of India (SBI) debit and credit cards during the Big Shopping Days sale.

Some of the smartphones available under the new Flipkart offer are the Lenovo K3 Note which can be grabbed at Rs. 8,999 and it comes with an exchange offer that offers up to Rs. 6,000 discount for functional and display-intact devices; Motorola Moto X Play is currently available at Rs. 15,999 for the 16GB model after a flat Rs. 1,000 off and with an additional exchange offer of up to Rs. 9,000; the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser ZE550KL is priced at Rs. 8,999 after a flat Rs. 1,000 discount and has an additional exchange offer up to Rs. 6,000; the Motorola Moto G (Gen 3) 16GB model is available at Rs. 9,999 after a flat Rs. 1,000 off and also has an exchange offer of up to Rs. 6,000 off; the Nexus 6P is available at Rs. 34,999 after a flat Rs. 5,000 off and also comes with an exchange offer of up to 20,000; the iPhone 6s16GB model is available at Rs. 41,999 and comes with an exchange offer of up to Rs. 21,000; the Motorola Moto G Turbo Edition is priced at Rs. 11,299 after a flat Rs. 1,200 off and also has an exchange offer of up to Rs. 7,000; the Samsung Galaxy On7 is available at Rs. 10,190 and comes with an exchange offer of up to Rs. 6,000.

Some of the other handsets available under the Big Shopping Days sale include the Asus ZenFone 2(4GB of RAM) available at Rs. 12,999 after an extra Rs. 4,000 off and also has an exchange offer of up to Rs. 8,000; Xiaomi Mi 4 is available at Rs. 12,999 after a flat Rs. 2,000 off and an additional exchange offer of up to Rs. 8,000; the LG G4 is priced at Rs. 32,800 after a flat Rs. 2,000;

Consumers can also get discounts on smartwatches, tablets, laptops, cameras, televisions and headphones. The offers available on smartphones and other products are valid till stock lasts, according to Flipkart.

 

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Pakistan club cricketer Zubair Ahmed dies after being hit on the head

Zubair Ahmed, a cricketer from Pakistan, died after being hit on the head while batting in a club match played at Mardan District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province on Monday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board shared the news on twitter stating, “Tragic death of Zubair Ahmed is another reminder that safety gear i.e. helmet must be worn at all times. Our sympathies with Zubair’s family”.
Zubair was part of Fakhar Zaman’s academy. Noted commentator and former Australian player Dean Jones expressed condolences via twitter. The incidence is a stark reminder of dangers facing cricketers despite the protective gears. The PCB tweet also indicates that Zubair, at the time of the incident, was not wearing a helmet.
On Tuesday, Australia vice-captain David Warner was also struck on the neck by a bouncer bowled by teammate Josh Hazelwood during an intra-squad practice match. However, Warner is recovering well after and is expected to be fit for the upcoming two-Test series in Bangladesh.

The left-hander dropped his bat and slumped to his knees after an attempted hook shot went awry at Marrara Oval in Darwin on Tuesday, but quickly picked himself up and walked off the ground unassisted.

Price details of the newly launched Maruti Suzuki IGNIS variant

Maruti Suzuki has launched a new Auto Gear Shift (AGS) variant of Ignis. The new Ignis lineup has been launched with an automatic gearbox. The Ignis was launched in January this year and has seen decent sales. About the newly launched variant, the Ignis Alpha AGS is the latest model to have a two-pedal technology in its portfolio.

R.S Kalsi, Senior Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India Limited said, “Our premium urban compact vehicle IGNIS has been created for millennials, a none of a kind brand in the Indian market. Automatic Gear Shift (AGS) on the IGNIS, so far offered in the Delta and Zeta trims, has been widely appreciated by customers and accounts for 27 per cent of IGNIS sales. We are now offering AGS in the top trim as well – IGNIS Alpha. We expect this to strengthen brand IGNIS and enhance the popularity of AGS amongst millennials.”

The Ignis Alpha (AGS) petrol is available at a price of Rs 7.01 lakh, while Alpha (AGS) diesel is available at Rs 8.08 lakh(ex showroom across India). Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) posted a 20.6 per cent rise in total sales in July at 1,65,346 units as against 1,37,116 in the same month last year.

This is its highest-ever monthly sales. The previous best was in April this year when the company had sold 1,44,492 units. The company’s domestic sales increased 22.4 per cent during the month to 1,54,001 units as against 1,25,778 in July 2016.

Last month, sales of mini segment cars, including Alto and WagonR, went up 20.7 per cent to 42,310 units, from 35,051 in the year-ago month, MSI said.

Australian researchers : Peanut allergy treatment can last up to four years

A novel treatment which can help children overcome peanut allergies can provide relief from reactions for up to four years, Australian researchers say.

Professor Mimi Tang, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, developed a treatment where kids with peanut allergies were given a probiotic called lactobacillus rhamnosus, with a peanut protein, once a day for 18 months.

They found one month after stopping treatment, more than 80 per cent of children who received the protein and probiotic could tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms at the end of the trial.

The same children were then tested four years later.

Professor Tang said 70 per cent of the children were still able to eat peanuts without allergic reactions.

“These findings suggest our treatment is effective in inducing long-term tolerance, up to four years after completing treatment and is safe,” she said.

“Two thirds of the treated participants were able to continue regular peanut ingestion and more than half were ingesting moderate-to-large amounts of peanuts on a regular basis.”

No worries over parties, sleepovers now

One of those that successfully took part in the study is 10-year-old Olivia May.

She suffered an allergic reaction seven years ago while biting into a peanut butter sandwich.

“We visited the allergist the first time [and] he said ‘sorry, you’re going to have to go home and empty your pantry out, clear it of all nuts, anything with nuts in it’,” Olivia’s mother Tanya May said.

But today Olivia shows no signs of her allergy.

“I think perhaps one of the best things has been to be able to just go to parties and I can drop her off or at a sleep over,” Ms May said.

“I used to hand over a EpiPen to a parent I’d hardly knew and give them a 30-second explanation how to use it.

“[But] to not have to worry about putting that responsibility in someone else’s hands is a great relief.”

How does it work?

The idea behind the treatment is that the probiotic changes how the body’s immune system responds to an allergen, in this case peanuts.

“The probiotic acts on the immune system, encourages the immune system to generate a protective, or tolerance, response rather than allergy,” Professor Tang said.

“When given regularly over time, we hope to see the immune system recognise the antigen,” she said.

What’s the difference between an allergic reaction and anaphylaxis?

Food allergy occurs in about one in 20 children and in about two in 100 adults.

According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, the most common allergy triggers are egg, cow’s milk, peanut, tree nuts, seafood, sesame, soy, fish and wheat.

The majority of food allergies in children are not severe, and may be “outgrown” with time.

But some, particularly peanut, tree nut, seed and seafood tend to be lifelong allergies.

Some food allergies can be severe, causing a life-threatening reaction, known as anaphylaxis.

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute said larger studies of the probiotic peanut protein treatment were needed to assess long-term safety outcomes.

It is also running a trial seeing whether children can overcome peanut allergies by simply taking the probiotic or whether the peanut protein is needed as well.

The study was funded by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Australian Food Allergy Foundation.