India’s Aadhaar rivals growth of Windows, Android, Facebook: Satya Nadella

Nadella, in his book ‘Hit Refresh’, which was released during the ongoing Microsoft Ignite 2017 conference, has praised India’s leap forward in the digital and technological arena.

India’s Aadhaar identity system rivals the growth of other platform innovations like Windows, Android or Facebook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said.

Nadella, in his book ‘Hit Refresh’, which was released during the ongoing Microsoft Ignite 2017 conference, has praised India’s leap forward in the digital and technological arena.

“Aadhaar now has scaled to over one billion people, rivaling the growth of other platform innovations such as Windows, Android or Facebook,” the 50-year-old wrote in his book that hit the book stores today.

He praised the creation of the new digital ecosystem IndiaStack.

IndiaStack is a set of APIs (application programming interface) that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilise an unique digital Infrastructure to solve India’s hard problems towards presence-less, paperless, and cashless service delivery.

“China strategically used the global supply chain and their own domestic market to amplify their comparative advantage and bootstrap their economic growth,” the India-born CEO noted.

“The combination of industrial policy, public sector investment, and entrepreneurial energy is what many other countries will also look to replicate from China’s success. I see the beginnings of this in India with the creation of the new digital ecosystem known as IndiaStack,” Nadella said.

“India is leapfrogging from once being an infrastructure-poor country to now leading in digital technology. IndiaStack ushers in a presence-less, cashless, paperless economy for all its citizens,” said the Indian American CEO from Microsoft.

In his book, Nadella wrote that on a trip to Bengaluru he engaged in a conversation with Nandan Nilekani about IndiaStack and its future road map.

“Nandan is the legendary founder of Infosys, who went on to create a new startup working with the Indian Government- Aadhaar-the identity system that is at the center of IndiaStack,” he said.

Nadella has also mentioned about Enlightiks, a startup that was acquired by Practo, a leading e-health company in India.

“I met the founder of Enlightiks on the same trip to Bengaluru. They are using the latest cloud technology and AI from Microsoft to create a state-of-the-art health care diagnostics service that can, for example, detect an Atrial fibrillation event before it happens because of the rich data going from the personal device of the patient directly to the cloud,” he said.

“In turn, this cloud service can be made available to hospitals in Smaller towns or rural areas in India. Enlightiks also has plans to take advantage of IndiaStack to authenticate the user, accept payment, create portal medical records, and much more. This Indian innovation is now looking to expand in the US, Africa and everywhere else,” he wrote.

According to Nadella, this dynamic is not unique to China or India.

“I saw this across Chile, Indonesia, and Poland, and also in France, Germany, and Japan. Reflecting on my earlier visit to Egypt, it’s clear they are investing in human capital,” he said.

RBI caps banks’ investment limit in deposit-taking NBFCs at 10%

RBI notified that banks investing in such firms must have a minimum regulatory capital.

Banks can no longer hold more than a 10 percent stake in a deposit taking non-banking finance company, with the exception of lenders owning equity in housing finance companies, and also regulated their commodity derivatives play, according to a Reserve Bank of India circular.

In amendments to the Master Direction – Reserve Bank of India (Financial Services provided by banks) Directions, 2016, the central bank said banks should not invest more than 10 percent of the unit capital of a real estate investment trust (ReIT) or an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) subject to overall ceiling of 20 percent of its net worth.

The master directions first issued in May last year did not provide for investments in the ReITs and InvITs, both newly introduced instruments.

Banks will not be allowed to hold more than 10 percent of the paid up capital of a company, not being its subsidiary and engaged in non-financial services or 10 percent of the bank’s paid up capital and reserves, whichever is lower.

The RBI will also not allow holding more than 20 percent stake through the bank’s subsidiaries, associates or joint ventures or entities directly or indirectly controlled by the bank; and mutual funds managed by Asset Management Companies (AMCs) controlled by the bank.

RBI notified that banks investing in such firms must have a minimum regulatory capital. Here, the capital computation must also include the so-called capital conservation buffer (CCB).

Earlier, the RBI had mandated at least 10 percent capital adequacy ratio and there was no mention of CCB.

Similarly, banks looking to undertake insurance and pension fund management business must also have minimum prescribed capital. Before this circular, RBI had mandated 10 percent capital adequacy of ratio for banks post such investments. Banks must have minimum total capital including CCB, of 10.875 percent by March 2018.

Commodity derivatives

The banking regulator also barred banks from investing in category III alternative investment funds (AIFs), specified norms for their participation in commodity derivatives clearing.

Category III AIFs employ complex trading strategies sometimes on borrowed money, while category II funds do not use leverage other than to meet daily requirements. category I AIFs invest in start-up ventures, SMEs and other sectors preferred by the government or regulators.

Banks may invest as much as 10 percent in the paid-up capital/unit capital in category I and II funds, but cannot invest in category III funds. So far, there was no specific rule on investing in AIFs.

“No bank shall (make) investment of more than 10 percent of the paid-up capital/unit capital in a category I/ category II alternative investment fund,” said an updated master circular on financial services offered by banks.

The central bank also said banks wishing to undertake commodities derivatives clearing must set up a separate subsidiary for the purpose and adhere to membership criteria of stock exchanges and Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations.

For this, banks must set up internal risk control measures and take board approvals to decide the extent to which they can fulfil pay-in obligations arising out of trades executed by clients and set prudential norms on risk exposure, among others.

“The bank shall not undertake trading in the derivative segment of the commodity exchange on its own account and shall restrict itself only to clearing and settlement transactions done by the trading members/clients on the exchange,” said the RBI circular.

PM Modi to launch Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana today

The scheme aims at providing ‘last mile electricity connectivity to all rural and urban households’.

In what is being billed as a major announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to unveil ‘Saubhagya – Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana’ in Delhi on Monday.

The scheme aims at providing ‘last mile electricity connectivity to all rural and urban households’.

The televised announcement, set to be made at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s National Executive meet in the capital, will reinforce the ruling party’s Electricity-for-All target, which was recently advanced from 2019 to 2018.

The announcement will be made on the occasion of the birth centenary celebration of Bharatiya Jana Sangh politician and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

Minister of State (MoS) for Power RK Singh on Friday had hinted that PM Modi was likely to make a ‘major announcement’ regarding the power sector on September 25.

“There will be a major announcement relating to the power sector on September 25 by the Prime Minister. We are excited about it. It will be very important for the people,” Singh had told Shereen Bhan.

The Prime Minister had in 2015 said that the government has set a 1,000-day target to electrify over 18,000 villages that don’t have access to electricity at all.

A year later in his Independence Day speech, PM Modi said, “I can say that not even the half of the 1,000 days have passed, we are far away from the half-way mark, and yet 10,000 villages out of 18,000 have received electricity.”

However, even as the government has made some headway in electrifying villages, there have been concerns over whether the government would be able to achieve its dream of providing stable, 24-hour power to all households.

The prime minister is also expected to dedicate Deendayal Urja Bhawan – ONGC’s new corporate office in Delhi along with Booster Compressor Facility in Bassein Gas Field-Western Offshore, Mumbai High and ONGC’s Paperless Office Project (DISHA) in Gujarat.

I-T department asks taxpayers to update self info on e-filing portal

The department today issued an advisory asking taxpayers to furnish their latest information such as personal and secondary email and mobile phone numbers, address and bank account details.

The Income Tax Department has asked taxpayers, who file ITRs and conduct other I-T businesses online, to update their profiles and vital details on the official e-filing portal to ensure an “effective communication” between the two.

The department today issued an advisory asking taxpayers to furnish their latest information such as personal and secondary email and mobile phone numbers, address and bank account details.

These details will be verified and processed after the taxpayer is sent a One Time Password (OTP) over the email and through SMS over the phone.

“New registration process to facilitate effective communication between the taxpayer and the department is enabled. The existing e-filing users are required to update their profile by logging into e-filing account. Users who have registered already and not activated has to register again,” the advisory said.

The updated information, a senior official said, is being sought to ensure that a communication sent to a taxpayer reaches him without fail and in good time.

“A taxpayer can do any business using their personal e- filing account only after updating the details,” he said.

The taxpayers can access their personal e-filing account at https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/.

Aadhaar soon to be mandatory for businesses, NGOs

As per a report, Aadhaar of top management personnel will be needed at the time of registration of companies and partnership entities.

After making Aadhaar mandatory for Permanent Account Number (PAN) and social schemes, the government will soon make it a mandatory document for businesses and non-governmental organisations (NGO).

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has proposed amendments to the Income Tax Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act for the same, a report in the Times of India said.

As per the report, Aadhaar of top management personnel will be needed at the time of registration of companies and partnership entities. This will make directors and promoters easily traceable and make it difficult to form shell companies.

PAN is already mandatory while registering the company. Making Aadhaar mandatory will bring partnerships and trusts under the same regulations, which is not the case currently, the report said.

The aim is to curb black money and the government is looking for a mechanism to get entities with cumulative transactions of over Rs 2 lakh annually under a regulatory regime.

These amendments will help check possibility of any misuse in the system, the report said.

Till now, the PAN was treated as the unique identification number for all the businesses.

In its battle against the shell companies, the government recently banned nearly 2 lakh defunct companies and also identified 106,578 directors of shell companies to be disqualified.

Bullet train project to create 20,000 jobs: SBI report

“After the commissioning of the project, direct employment of 4,000 employees will be created for the operation and maintenance. Further the project is likely to generate about 16,000 indirect employment opportunities,” said the note.

As India takes a giant leap with plans to have a bullet train, it is estimated that about 20,000 jobs will be created from it, according to a State Bank of India research note.

India’s first bullet train project was inaugurated on Thursday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad. The project, which will connect Ahmedabad and Mumbai, is expected to be completed by 2022.

“After the commissioning of the project, direct employment of 4,000 employees will be created for the operation and maintenance. Further the project is likely to generate about 16,000 indirect employment opportunities,” said the note.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project in Ahmedabad today, joining the list of around 20 countries.

This project will herald a new era of safety, speed and service for the people and help Indian Railways (with its third longest network) to become an international leader in scale, speed and skill, the SBI note said.

Besides job creation, the project will bring skills in the field of ballast-less track construction, installation of communications and signalling equipment, power distribution system.

Modern and world-class practices will be adopted for maintenance of therailway system, which is expected to bring a paradigm shift in the maintenance practices currently being followed in Indian Railways, the note said.

Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Chief Economic Adviser of SBI, in the report, said that the introduction of the Japanese bullet train technology should not just be seen from the prism of economic opportunities. It will also have immense social and psychological benefits by bringing elite technology to the masses or bridging the gap between the elite and masses.

The state-of-the-art railway project that is being implemented is estimated to cost Rs 88,000 crore and the project is being funded by Japan at a nominal cost of only 0.1 percent (comparable rates are of 5 -7 percent) with a much larger repayment period.

With the commissioning of the bullet train project, around 40,000 passengers per day are expected to travel through this mode.

Test runs of pod cars to begin in Varanasi, Nagpur and Gurugram

Varanasi and Nagpur may have been handpicked as they are represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari respectively in the Lok Sabha.

Three cities – Varanasi, Nagpur, and Gurugram – have been shortlisted to test pod cars, reports Mint.

Pod cars are driverless, ball-shaped cars which will run along a pre-determined course. This is one out of the six proposals NITI Aayog had proposed to improve India’s transportation system.

Varanasi and Nagpur may have been handpicked as they are represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari respectively in the Lok Sabha.

The vehicles will be built by NASA’s Skytran and UK’s Ultra Global PRT, at first. The two companies, which were left out of the four initially chosen, have to partner with Indian firms by forming joint ventures. The pod cars will be tested over a 1-km test stretch.

“The expert panel formed to lay down safety standards for pod taxis in the country has shortlisted the two cities in addition to Gurugram for the companies to build a prototype for a 1-km stretch to showcase their technology. Two of these three cities will finally showcase the prototypes from the respective firms,” sources told Mint.

NITI Aayog’s Transport expert Manoj Singh stated that was Varanasi as a “good choice”. He reasoned, “It’s a congested city and overhead pod taxis can be experimented with to see how this mobility solution works. Besides, being a heritage city, pod taxi can be a tourist attraction if managed and planned well.”

NITI Aayog has asked the authorities to first run a 1-km pilot stretch before the project runs in full force as the technologies are still “unproven,” making it one of the reasons why the project has been delayed.

A committee of professionals with years of experience in their field was formed under a transport expert Dharam Adhikari. The panel will lay down the standards and specifications for Public Rail Transport systems and will present a report this month.

Govt identifies directors of over 1 lakh shell cos to be disqualified

Ministry of Corporate Affairs is currently probing the personal details and background of all the directors of the 2.10 lakh shell companies which were put under scrutiny.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has identified 106,578 directors of shell companies to be disqualified in a move to strengthen its battle against shell companies.

Earlier, the government had cancelled the registration of over 2.09 lakh shell companies which have not been carrying business activities for a long time. The Finance Ministry had also directed banks to restrict bank operations of shell company accounts.

The disqualification comes as a stern step under Section 164 2(A) of the Companies Act which states that any director violating the regulatory requirements could be subject to penalization and disqualification.

A director of a company that has not filed financial statements or annual returns for three financial years continuously would not be eligible for re- appointment in that company or any other firm for five years, the Act says.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs is currently probing the personal details and background of all the directors of the 2.10 lakh shell companies which are under scrutiny.

Minister of State (MoS) PP Chaudhury is personally monitoring the probe which is enquiring instances of money laundering and matters related to black money.

Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), Registrar of Companies (ROC) and other enforcement agencies are assisting the corporate affairs ministry in the probe.

The ministry, which is implementing the companies law, has also identified professionals, chartered accountants, company secretaries and cost accountants associated with the defaulting companies.

There are about 11 lakh companies with active status after deregistration of over 2.09 lakh firms.

“The fight against black money shall be incomplete without breaking the network of shell companies. The possibility of using the shell companies for laundering the black money cannot be undermined,” Minister of State for Corporate Affairs PP Chaudhary said.

He also said that the whole exercise would go a long way in creating an atmosphere of confidence and faith in the system paving the way for ease of doing business in India.

Beware! New malware that steals users’ money through mobile phones detected in India

Xafecopy Trojan is disguised as useful apps like BatteryMaster, and operates normally

A new malware Xafecopy Trojan has been detected in India which steals money through victims’ mobile phones, cyber security firm Kaspersky said in a report.

Around 40 per cent of target of the malware has been detected in India.

“Kaspersky Lab experts have uncovered a mobile malware targeting the WAP billing payment method, stealing money through victims’ mobile accounts without their knowledge,” the report said.

Xafecopy Trojan is disguised as useful apps like BatteryMaster, and operates normally. The trojan secretly loads malicious code onto the device.

Once the app is activated, the Xafecopy malware clicks on web pages with Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) billing, a form of mobile payment that charges costs directly to the user’s mobile phone bill. After this the malware silently subscribes the phone to a number of services, the report said.

The process also does not require user to register a debit or credit card or set up a username and password.

The malware uses technology to bypass ‘captcha’ systems designed to protect users by confirming the action is being performed by a human. In the captcha system, websites show a set of some letter or numbers which are required to be manually filled by the user.

“Xafecopy hit more than 4,800 users in 47 countries within the space of a month, with 37.5 per cent of the attacks detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab products targeting India, followed by Russia, Turkey and Mexico,” the report said.

Experts at Kaspersky Lab have found traces showing that cyber criminals gang promulgating other trojans are sharing malware code among themselves.

“Our research suggests WAP billing attacks are on the rise. Xafecopy’s attacks targeted countries where this payment method is popular. The malware has also been detected with different modifications, such as the ability to text messages from a mobile device to premium rate phone numbers, and to delete incoming text messages to hide alerts from mobile network operators about stolen money,” Kaspersky Lab Senior Malware Analyst Roman Unuchek said.

Kaspersky Lab, Managing Director- South Asia, Altaf Halde said that Android users need to be extremely cautious in how they download apps.

“It is best not to trust third party apps, and whatever apps users do download should be scanned locally with the Verify Apps utility. But beyond that, Android users should be running a mobile security suite on their devices.

Aadhaar enrolment centres continue to dupe people by charging for free services

Many government authorised and private centres across the country are allegedly duping people by charging them something between Rs 100-500 for registration or updating details.

Enrollment centres in several places across the country are continuing to illegally charge people for registering their Aadhaar or updating details.

The enrollment of Aadhaar is supposed to be free and the official fee for changing one’s details is only Rs 25. But many government authorised and private centres across the country are allegedly duping people by charging them something between Rs 100-500 for the same.

Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of Unique Identification Authority (UIDAI)—the body which oversees the implementation of Aadhaar — told  the Times of India that since December last year, close to 6,000 operators from different centres have been prosecuted and blacklisted for overcharging Aadhaar applicants.

The report claimed such misdeeds still being carried out in the national capital itself. The worst hit seem to be the working class people with limited access to internet and government announcements.

The report quotes Laxmi, a momo seller in Delhi whose daily earning is somewhere between Rs 150-200, as saying she was charged the same amount by a private centre to update her address and date of birth on her Aadhaar card. The authorised registrar, who oversees the work at the centre, claimed he did not know Laxmi’s financial condition or would have referred her to an authorised centre where, he claimed, the service was done for free or as per government instructions.

The registrar also said many registration centres have shut down, creating additional pressure on the existing ones.

UIDAI has 35 authorised and listed enrollment centres in Delhi, which have their respective branches in sub-districts but are facing a manpower crisis.

Overcharging incidents surged as the Centre had initially given a deadline of June 30 for getting Aadhaar in order to access government benefits, welfare schemes and other crucial things.

Incidents of overcharging were also reported from Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai and across Jharkhand. A registrar from Jharkhand’s Bistupur alleged that the government was also not paying the commission it had pledged.

UIDAI has increased the penalty for violation of stipulated guidelines from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 and it has come into effect since July.

Earlier this year, amid rising complaints about enrollees being charged for Aadhaar, Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had given an assurance that the authorities would look into the matter.

With such incidents taking place, the UIDAI has put up disclaimers on its website to spread awareness. Charges for different Aadhaar-related services are displayed prominently on the UIDAI homepage.

Aadhaar Charges

New enrollment: Free

Biometric update for children at age 5 and 15: Free

Biometric update of registered adults: Rs 25

Demographic update (name, address, mobile number, etc.): Rs 25

Finding Aadhaar and black-and-white printout: Rs 10

Finding Aadhaar and Colour printout: Rs 20