IndiGo and Jet Airways have introduced additional flights to Doha and Mumbai on a daily basis from Calicut International airport. According to a release from the Director of Calicut Airport on Monday, IndiGo Airlines’ flight would leave Calicut at 12.10 hrs to Doha while it would arrive at Calicut 10.35 hrs in the return direction each day. The new services were introduced from July 20. Similarly, Jet Airways has introduced additional domestic flights to Mumbai with effect from July 15. It would arrive in Calicut from Mumbai at 12.10 hrs daily and in the return direction, leave Calicut at 13.50 hrs on all days, except Tuesday. On Tuesdays, the service would be operated at 14.30 hrs, it said. Presently, Calicut is connected with destinations including Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram and Delhi via Mumbai in the country. The international destinations it connects include Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat, Sharjah, Salalah, Al Ain and Riyadh, the release added.
Reliance Jio Infocomm unveiled its much-anticipated 4G-enabled feature phone, Jio Phone. To be virtually be free for users, the handset will be open to pre-registrations from August 24, and the device will go on sale in September, initially to those who pre-registered. The official Jio portal has put up a 'Keep me posted' banner where you can submit your details to stay updated on the progress around JioPhone.
Even as the phone is effectively free, you have to pay a one-time security deposit of Rs 1,500, which will be refunded after 36-months.
The JioPhone comes with tweaked tariff plans to suit the needs of feature phone users. The company has priced the packs at Rs 153 a month, Rs 54 a week, and Rs 24 for two days. All the plans offer unlimited 4G data combined with free access to Jio apps, unlimited free calling.
Here are the key features of the Jio Phone
The device is the first long-term evolution (LTE) ready feature phone that can also play videos using Reliance Jio apps. The phone comes pre-loaded with 22 of India's regional languages and can be operated using voice commands.
The JioPhone comes with a distress call feature that gets activated by long-pressing numeric key 5. The long-press activates the distress message and send it to selected contacts.
For customers who seek to mirror their phone screen on a television, Reliance launched a "TV-cable" that allows users to mirror their phone screen on CRT and LCD TVs. The TV cable can be used with Rs 309 Dhan Dhana Dhan.
Reliance Jio has also promised to bring near field communication (NFC) ready phone later this year that will allow users to make digital transaction on a single tap from their linked Jan Dhan account, bank account and Jio Money.
Online ecommerce giant Amazon has made a late bid for FreeCharge, the digital payments platform owned by troubled ecommerce marketplace Snapdeal, a development that comes at a time when the Gurgaon-based company is also in discussions to sell its payments unit to Axis Bank and telecom operator Bharti Airtel's mobile wallet Airtel Money. According to two sources aware of the development, Amazon's bid is in the range of $70-$80 million (Rs 466 crore- Rs 532 crore), with a term sheet signed by the Seattle-headquartered ecommerce behemoth and Jasper Infotech, which owns and operates both Snapdeal and Free-Charge, last week. The latest set of developments comes a little over two weeks after Axis Bank, the country's third-largest private sector lender, emerged as one of the frontrunners to acquire FreeCharge for about $60-$65 million. Rival Paytm has also held talks to acquire Free-Charge, and has made a bid of $10 million. However, the sources cited above also said that not-withstanding Amazon's late, but higher bid for FreeCharge, Axis Bank remained the favourite to acquire the digital payments platform that also competes with the likes of MobiKwik. An Amazon spokesperson said: "We don't comment on rumours and speculations". A successful sale of FreeCharge will provide much-needed cash to the Snapdeal coffers, giving it critical runway of a few more months and allowing it to survive as a potentially standalone business. According to the sources, if successful in its endeavour to acquire FreeCharge, Amazon will most likely roll FreeCharge into its existing payments entity, Amazon Pay. The online retail giant, which has committed to invest $5 billion in its local operations, recently pumped Rs 130 crore more into Amazon Pay India, as reported by Times of India earlier this month, citing regulatory filings submitted to the Registrar of Companies.
Amazon India had been granted license by the Reserve Bank of India to operate a pre-paid payment instrument or wallet. The central bank issued the wallet licence in the name of Amazon Online Distribution Services, which also operates Amazon Pay that allows users to transact with offline partners of Amazon and online for Amazon's marketplace services on Amazon.in and Amazon Now.
FreeCharge was acquired by Jasper in 2015 in a cash-and-stock deal estimated at $400-450 million, in what was then the largest acquisition in the Indian startup space. However, the payments unit has been seeking a buyer for several months now, even as its parent negotiates the terms for its own sale. At one point, Jasper was eyeing a valuation of close to $1 billion for FreeCharge, as it tried to raise cash for unit, a process that began in late 2015. However, the reversal in the fortunes of Snapdeal had a drastic effect on FreeCharge, which saw the volume and value of transactions fall sharply. The company is estimated to have recorded Rs 300 crore in transaction revenue on about 12 million transactions in April. In its heyday, the payments company had forecast 7 million daily transactions and gross merchandise transactions of Rs 20,000 crore by the end of fiscal 2017.
Patanjali in India takes a very nationalist view of its business, says Colgate Palmolive’s global CEO
In a first, Colgate Palmolive's global CEO Ian Cook named Indian rival Patanjali while talking to investors about the need to respond to changing consumer preferences in India where the toothpaste giant recorded its steepest market share fall in a decade last year. "Patanjali in India takes a very nationalist view of its business," Cook told investors during an earnings conference call on Friday. "These are concepts in the local market. They tend to be premium price oriented and it means that you have to respond with a very specifically constructed offering that attacks the benefit the consumer is looking for. Hence the natural — the natural reaction," he said. The acknowledgement comes after Colgate India's share in the Indian toothpaste market fell by 1.8% last year. The company's sales volume declined 4% last fiscal, with consumers increasingly shifting to ayurvedic or herbal brands. A Credit Suisse report said Colgate's actual market share fall would be at least two times of reported share loss because the share of Baba Ramdev-led Patanjali, the main disruptor in the category, is significantly under-reported, because market researcher Nielsen's retail panel does not track Patanjali's own stores —there are 12,000 such stores. With a market share of 55.6% in toothpaste and 47.3% in the toothbrush category in 2016, Colgate still remains the country's largest oral care player. But Patanjali has been able to challenge its dominance despite being present in only two lakh traditional retail stores against the US multinational's access to more than five million stores. In response, Colgate launched its first India-focused ayurvedic brand Cibaca Vedshakti, aimed squarely at Patanjali's Dant Kanti toothpaste, last year. The new brand had 0.5% share across India and 1% share in the north and eastern regions in 2016. "And in the end, the winner over time in these clashes are going to be the companies that best understand the consumer and serve them offerings that they want over time and of course that's what we all resourced and focused on doing," Cook said on Friday. The $16-billion multinational has global experience in the natural segment, having acquired Tom's of Maine, a natural ingredients-only personal care products maker in the US, a decade ago, while Colgate Misvak is present in Turkey, Indonesia and elsewhere. Patanjali's rise to a Rs 10,000-crore company in less than a decade has made multinational rivals shift focus to the ayurveda sector. Hindustan Unilever has relaunched Ayush brand of ayurvedic personal care products, acquired Indulekha hair care brand and launched Citra skincare brand, while L'Oreal launched a hair care range under Garnier Ultra Blends made with natural ingredients. Dabur launched India's first ayurvedic gel toothpaste under the Dabur Red franchise in an effort to contemporarise ayurveda for the younger generation. Indigenous manufacturers are driving natural personal care market, growing at four times the pace of multinationals. "Consumers are drawn to Indian brands when it comes to naturals, under the assumption that manufacturers of these brands use 'common kitchen ingredients', making it safe for consumption and less likely to result in side effects or allergies," said a recent Nielsen study.
India's top telecom operators are likely to seek clarification from the finance ministry on whether bundled 4G handsets offered effectively for free would attract the 12% goods and services tax applicable on mobile phones. "Ideally, the government must determine the GST implications of selling a handset at zero price and provide guidance to telcos about the pros and cons of structuring similar handset bundling deals," Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators' Association of India. Reliance Industries unveiled a 4G feature phone last week that may further disrupt an already stressed telecom market. The Jio Phone comes with free voice service for life and can be obtained for Rs 1,500, which is refundable after three years if the handset is returned. Apart from the tax treatment, telcos may seek clarity on whether such financing schemes will enable operators to skip payment of licence fees and spectrum usage charges. Although telcos Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have not subsidised handsets so far, they could offer 'a scheme similar to what is being offered by JIo,' HSBC Global Research said in a note to clients. These telcos would have, at best, 4-5 months to come up with matching bundling offers. Mobile operators, Mathews said, would definitely "look for clarity" from the finance ministry as any "potential imposition of GST on a technically free phone would increase the cost of similarly structured handset bundling offers in future." The COAI represents the country's biggest phone companies, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio Infocomm. "Someone can choose to offer anything for free, be it a handset or even a plot of land. But that doesn't mean the asset being offered is devoid of an imputed value, in that, the government can always go back to the company, determine a fair value of the asset and levy a tax," said a top mobile industry executive.
The International Monetary Fund on Monday kept its growth forecasts for the world economy unchanged for this year and next, although it slightly revised up growth expectations for the eurozone and China. In its updated World Economic Outlook, the IMF said global gross domestic product would be 3.5 percent in 2017 and 3.6 percent in 2018. Its last update was released in April. "While risks around the global growth forecast appear broadly balanced in the near term, they remain skewed to the downside over the medium term," the IMF said in its updated forecasts released in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. The IMF in June shaved its forecasts for US growth to 2.1 percent for 2017 and 2018, slightly down from projections of 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, just three months ago. The Fund reversed previous assumptions that the Trump administration's fiscal policy plans would boost US growth, largely because details of those plans have not materialized. The Fund said growth in the euro area was now expected to be slightly stronger in 2018 and pointed to "solid momentum." It upgraded GDP projections for the single-currency area for 2017 to 1.9 percent, 0.2 percentage point higher than in April. For next year, the IMF said euro-area growth would be slightly stronger at 1.7 percent, a 0.1-percentage-point change from just three months ago. It said the expected higher growth in the eurozone indicated "stronger momentum in domestic demand than previously expected."
The IMF revised down its 2017 forecast for the UK by 0.3 percentage point to 1.7 percent, citing weaker-than-expected activity in the first quarter. It left its 2018 forecast unchanged at 1.5 percent.
It also said it expected slightly higher growth in Japan this year to 1.3 percent from a forecast of 1.2 percent in April, citing stronger first-quarter growth buoyed by private consumption, investment and exports. Its forecast for Japan's 2018 growth was unchanged at 0.6 percent.
For China, the IMF said it now expected stronger growth of 6.7 percent in 2017, up 0.1 percentage point from the April forecast. China's growth will still moderate in 2018 to 6.4 percent, but the IMF said that was up 0.2 percentage point from the April forecast because of expectations that Beijing will maintain high public investment.
Jet Airways has asked junior pilots to furnish surety bonds worth up to Rs 1 crore and serve the airline for at least five to seven years, union sources said. The development comes at a time when many of its junior pilots have been asked to take 10 days off every month, a move that would result in up to 30 per cent pay cut, as part of cost saving measures. Sources at the National Aviators Guild (NAG), the pilots' union of Jet Airways, said the bond requirement has been communicated to the junior pilots. These pilots have been asked to furnish surety bonds worth Rs 1 crore and the development also comes as the airline has "unilaterally" decided on salary cuts for them, , sources said. "No new bonds (have been) asked for. It is just a pattern that has been introduced," a Jet Airways spokesperson said. He was responding to a query whether the airline has asked its trainee pilots to sign a bond amount of up to Rs 1 crore. The spokesperson was also asked the junior pilots have to serve the airline for 5-7 years and face encashment of the bond in case of failure to serve that tenure. Sources at the NAG said plans to meet the airline management this week to discuss the pay cut proposal as it has been done in a unilateral manner. Jet Airways has more than 200 junior pilots, including those undergoing training. "As an interim measure, we shall be offering you a Lifestyle Work Pattern which entails 10 days block off per month with the appropriate remuneration... This will be effective from August 1, 2017," the carrier said in a letter to many junior pilots last week. The NAG would be taking up the matter with the management soon, sources added. On July 20, Jet Airways said that certain developments in the market, including that in the Gulf region, as well as its continued efforts to enhance internal efficiencies, have resulted in the review of network, fleet and crew utilisation. Consequently, as a proactive measure, the company has made interim alignments to its crew work patterns, which will be reviewed in future, in line with network growth, the spokesperson had said.
MiG corporation chief : India showed interest in the most advanced 4++ generation MiG-35 fighter jet
Russia is keen on selling its new fighter jet MiG-35 to India with the MiG corporation’s chief saying the country has evinced interest in the aircraft and talks were on to understand its requirements. Chief Executive Officer of the MiG Aircraft Corporation Ilya Tarasenko said that after having presented MiG-35 in January, the MiG corporation began to actively promote the aircraft in India and in other parts of the world. “We are proposing supply of the aircraft for tenders in India and we actively work with its Air Force in order to win the tender,” he said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the MAKS 2017 air show here. The MiG-35 is Russia’s most advanced 4++ generation multipurpose fighter jet developed on the basis of the serial-produced MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft. Asked if India has expressed any interest in the MiG-35, Tarasenko said, “Of course they have.” MiG aircraft have been used by India for almost 50 years and MiG corporation proposes its new products to India among the first countries and intends to continue supplying India with its most modern aircraft, the MiG chief said. Asked about the current status of the proposal of the aircraft to India, he said, “We are in the negotiation stage where talks on technical and technological specifications that MiG can present to India and the requirements that India has for this aircraft were taking place.” “Since this is a very new plane, it will still take some time to negotiate on exactly what India needs and adjust the product to it,” he added. Talking about the cost of the plane, Tarasenko said it was economical due to the after-sales services being offered along with the aircraft. “We propose not just the aircraft, but also training for its use, as well as after-sales servicing where we take upon the responsibility to service it for 40 years,” he added. He stressed that in comparison to its competitors, the prices offered by MiG were 20-25 per cent cheaper, making it an attractive option for those who wish to purchase this aircraft. Highlighting the main features of the MiG-35, Tarasenko said its technical specifications were close to a fifth generation aircraft, namely its flight capabilities, its new weapon range and defence systems, including stealth. “I would like to note the demand for this aircraft for our own air force, as well as our foreign partners. The plane is light, multi-functional and has high manoeuvrability,” Tarasenko said, adding that the MiG was also offering special commercial terms to its partners. He also stressed that the plane was fully Russian-made with Rostec companies like United Engine Corporation (UEC), KRET and Technodinamika participating in the project. At MAKS 2017, the MiG-35 grabbed all the limelight as it took to the skies and enthralled the audience with breathtaking manoeuvres like the tail slide, barrel roll and the nesterov loop. Belyaev Mikhail, the Lead Test Pilot of MiG-35, told reporters that the main feature of this aircraft was the new on board equipment and the new quality of weapons — air-to- air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea. “Compared with the basic version of the MiG-29, it is a new aircraft, new airframe, fly-by-wire, glass cockpit, adapted for night vision goggles…new engines, more power, more fuel, new on board equipment and new weapons,” said Mikhail, who was earlier this year presented the star of the ‘Hero of Russia’ by President Vladimir Putin for bravery in piloting and testing of aviation equipment. Asked if it was easier to fly MiG-35, Mikhail said new tasks were required for such an aircraft so one needs to learn these. “On the basic level it is not that difficult to switch from MIG 29 to 35 as the plane remains the same. It is still a light simple plane. The combat tasks that can be achieved from this plane are much more serious and much more complex,” he said. “More combat tasks can be achieved from this plane than with the MiG-29. So it will take time to learn new tasks and to adapt,” he added. An overhauled MiG-35 multi-role fighter completed a successful demonstration flight at the MAKS 2017 air show, with Russian officials saying the first combat-ready plane will be delivered to the Air Force next year. Tarasenko also noted that around 30 countries are using various modifications of MiG-35’s predecessor, the MiG-29, and that “talks are already ongoing with potential buyers.” The fighter jet features improved flight and technical characteristics, the most advanced on board radio-electronic equipment and a wide arsenal of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. The flight tests of MiG-35 fighter aircraft began on January 26 and the plane’s international presentation was held in the Moscow Region on the following day.
The impact of the demonetisation drive and the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) will make it tough to deal in cash, leading to greater compliance, digitisation and widening of the tax base, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday. "Net impact of the demonetisation exercise coupled with the GST exercise... will certainly lead to greater compliances, greater digitisation. The first signs of greater digitisation, expansion of the base of direct and indirect taxes are already visible," Jaitley said in his opening address at Delhi Economics Conclave, a gathering of top economists and policymakers. Detailing the rationale behind taking tough measures, Jaitley said there was a very large amount of tax non-compliance, huge amounts of transactions outside the system, and almost a helplessness in trying to deal with the situation. "Every year, through the Finance Bill, we would announce some changes which, at best, had a marginal impact," the FM said, adding that steps had to be taken in order to make a very significant impact. "If we look at the totality of the various steps we have taken, rather than look at them in a conjoint manner, each one of them are decisions which will not only have a long-term impact, but also have an ethical rationale behind it," he said. He said one easy format of converting black money was shell companies. "This has almost become standard operating procedure. This was not only used by people in businesses, it was used to round-trip corruption money by politicians, civil servants and others," Jaitley said. "I think not only the detection of this, but the decision to invoke the benami property law in acquiring these assets by the state is going to be a big deterrent," he added.
India is likely to clock a 7.5% economic growth in the current fiscal, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya has said, even as he acknowledged that creation of "good jobs" in the country remains a big challenge. "For the current fiscal year of 2017-18, I expect that we will be back to at least 7.5% and as you get towards the last quarter of the year probably we will begin to touch eight%. But the average for the year would be about 7.5%," said Panagariya. Panagariya, who had presented India's 'Voluntary National Review Report on Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals' at the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2017 last week, however, said that job creation in the country, especially at the lower, semi-skilled level, "truly is the biggest challenge, probably bigger than growing at eight%." He said it is unfortunate that India's better performing sectors such as automobile, auto parts, engineering goods, petroleum refinery, pharmaceuticals and IT enabled services, are not very employment-intensive. "All these (sectors) are either very capital intensive or skill labour intensive. There is a big need for good jobs at the lower, semi-skilled level. There we have got a big challenge," he said. Panagariya said he does not agree with the classification in some sections of the media that India's economic growth is a jobless growth. "I personally don't believe that is true. We cannot be growing at 7.5% and then you say that jobs are not growing, investments are not growing at a satisfactory pace. All of that growth could not have come from productivity alone," he said. Panagariya, however, acknowledged that there is not enough creation of good jobs that pay good wages. "Jobs are being created. But certainly good jobs which pay good wages, those I think we have not been very successful with and that is where the big challenge lies. That really also requires some reconfiguration of the structure of manufacturing towards more labour intensive sectors like clothing," footwear and food processing, he added. He noted that China, which is the major exporter of all these products, is experiencing very high wages and is already quitting some of the space in these labour intensive sectors. "It is a good time for India to move into those sectors," he said. With the Indian government implementing the big ticket reform of the Goods and Services Tax, Panagariya said while there could be some teething troubles as the country embraces the ambitious financial reform, he does not see it significantly impacting economic growth going forward.