Deadline for declaring Aadhaar for welfare schemes extended to December 31

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would hear a batch of petitions on Aadhaar-related matters in November.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would hear a batch of petitions on Aadhaar-related matters in November after the Centre informed that it will extend till December 31 the deadline to furnish Aaadhar to avail benefits of social welfare schemes.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said there was no urgency to hear the matter after Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench that the Centre will extend the September 30 deadline.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing various petitioners, mentioned the matter before the bench, also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar and sought early hearing on the batch of petitions which have also challenged the Centre’s move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits of various social welfare schemes.

When Divan referred to the deadline of September 30, Venugopal said, “We (Centre) will extend it to December 31″.

“The urgency is not there. It will be listed in the first week of November,” the bench said.

A three-judge bench had on July 7 said that all issues arising out of Aadhaar should finally be decided by a larger bench.

Later on July 12, the apex court said that its five-judge Constitution Bench will hear matters relating to Aadhaar, including the aspect of right to privacy.

The five-judge bench on July 18 had constituted a nine- judge bench to decide on right to privacy.

A nine-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had on August 24, declared the Right to privacy as a Fundamental right saying it is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.

The apex court was heraing three separate petitions challeing government’s notification making Adhaar mandatory for availing benifits of various social schemes.

Founders may sell some stake through Rs 13,000 cr Infosys buyback

The promoters’ keenness to participate in the buyback comes within days of a silent coup by founders led by N R Narayana Murthy to seize control of India’s second-biggest software services firm.

Infosys founders are likely to sell some of their stake in the company’s Rs 13,000-crore share buyback programme, the company said today.

The promoters’ keenness to participate in the buyback comes within days of a silent coup by founders led by N R Narayana Murthy to seize control of India’s second-biggest software services firm.

The founders and their families between them hold some 12.75 per cent (29.28 crore shares) of Infosys. Murthy declined to comment on if he would participate in the buyback.

The buyback price of Rs 1,150 is higher than the current stock trading price of Rs 941.15 and is considered “reasonably good” by the firm’s former CFO V Balakrishnan.

Founded in 1981 by seven engineers – all former employees of Patni Computer Systems – with an initial capital of USD 250, Infosys today has grown into over USD 10 billion company.

“In terms of buyback regulations, under the tender offer route, the promoters have the option to participate in the buyback. We would like to inform… that some of the members of the promoter and promoters group of the company have communicated their intention to participate in the proposed buyback,” Infosys said in a BSE filing.

The company, however, did not give details.

The announcement comes days after an upheaval at the Infosys board, which first saw the company’s first non-founder CEO Vishal Sikka quit citing slander by founders. Over the next few days, Murthy-and-Co installed fellow founder Nandan Nilekani as the Chairman.

Infosys has said the buyback is subject to approval of shareholders through a special resolution and the announcement on the modalities such as process and timeline will be “released in due course”.

On August 19, a day after Sikka’s resignation, the then Infosys board approved the share buyback plan of up to Rs 13,000 crore to reward shareholders.

The company plans to buy back 11.3 crore shares at Rs 1,150 apiece. Infosys’ first-ever buyback is second only in terms of size to the Rs 16,000 crore share repurchase by its bigger rival Tata Consultancy Services(TCS) announced in April this year.

NITI Aayog proposes removal of agriculture commodities from Essential Commodities Act

This will lead to shifting towards organized trading by removing stock restrictions.

NITI Aayog has proposed to remove all agricultural commodities from the Essential Commodities Act, reports the Economic Times.

This will lead to shifting towards organised trading by removing stock restrictions. With this, a smaller number of traders with sufficient capital will be able to have an upper-hand in the market. This will help in reduction of costs and prices, bring economies of scale and increase returns for farmers.

Sources told ET that this proposal has already been discussed with the Centre and it is likely for the Centre to reach out to the states for enabling this provision after consulting with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

An official told ET  that the think tank is of the view that by organised trading, the removal of agriculture commodities from the Act will “improve scale and logistics benefit and bring about more capital into trade with a handful of big traders competing with each other.”

With rules and stock limits frequently changing, traders are not incentivised to invest in a better storage infrastructure.

Also, stock limits cut functioning of food processing industries. These need to maintain underlying commodities in large quantities in order to operate smoothly. In such a case, the official said that it is unlikely for private entities to invest in such units.

Ministry of Consumer Affairs says that if there are a fewer traders, it will indefinitely lead to price manipulation because then many would be tempted to choose the illegal business method.

According to experts, the two policies – the existing one Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural products – cannot co-exist.

“The idea is good but two policies cannot co-exist, meaning there cannot be simultaneous MSP for agri products if we want to remove them from the Essential Commodities Act,” DK Pant of India Ratings said.

Beware: Earn more than Rs 5 lakh interest from FDs but don’t pay tax? Taxman is watching

The surveillance will be on individuals, including senior citizens, having an interest income of Rs 5 lakh and above who do not pay tax on the interest income.

The Income Tax Department is preparing to track thousands of individuals who earn high-interest incomes from fixed deposits (FDs) but do not include the amount in their taxable income, according to report in the Times of India.

Surveillance will be on individuals, including senior citizens, having interest income of Rs 5 lakh and above who do not pay tax on the interest income. It will be based on data collected from various agencies (such as banks) on taxpayers as well as tax deductions on FDs, senior officers in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told the paper.

There has been a rise in the earnings based on income from interests received on large fixed deposits as it is considered to be a more durable source of income.

Sources told the ToI that most of the individuals who fall in the 10 percent bracket pay their taxes. However, individuals falling in the 30 percent bracket often fail to pay their taxes.

“Our focus is on the large evaders. There is no point chasing the smaller persons who do not yield much returns,” a top-ranking officer told the paper.

According to the report, the department will also track professionals who receive their payments in cash and do not disclose the actual income amount in their annual statements.

Earlier, the I-T Department initiated steps to weed out individuals who bought property with suspected benami money for never having filed their income taxes.

Apart from helping the government crack down on black money, the move will help I-T department achieve its set goal to raise Rs 9.8 lakh crore from direct taxes in the current fiscal year as well as expanding its tax base.

Donald Trump is worth USD 2 billion to Twitter

Trump has a total of 36 million followers and has tweeted more than 35,000 times since joining the social media service in 2009

As much as we can laugh at ‘Covfefe’ and ‘Potus-Flotus and Lotus’ jokes, that’s what raking in the real bucks for Twitter.

The microblogging platform could be losing a fifth of its value if US President Donald Trump decides to quit, as per a report by Bloomberg.

The data was provided by Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. analyst James Cakmak, who said that the social media company would see as much as USD 2 billion loss in market value, in case @realDonaldTrump decided to quit tweeting.

Losing its most prominent user would hit Twitter’s intangible value and lead to what’s known as multiple compression.

“There is no better free advertising in the world than the President of the United States,” said Cakmak, who has a neutral rating on Twitter shares.

As per a statement by the analyst, Trump is the greatest ‘free advertising in the world’ for the microblogging platform.

While Twitter does not disclose the total number, Cakmak estimates daily users are around 125 million, about 30-percent fewer than Snap Inc, Twitter said in July. Twitter’s active users rose by 12 percent in the second quarter.

Trump has a total of 36 million followers and has tweeted more than 35,000 times since joining the social media service in 2009.

Twitter’s business does not face many risks from the potential diminishing political relevancy, as per a note by Cakmak.

Twitter as per the analysts’ words does not capitalise on the opportunity in front of them, and direly requires the right strategy to go ahead.

On the stock market front, Twitter’s shares have fallen since 14 percent ever since Trump won the presidency in that November 8 election.

The company’s market cap is about USD 11.7 billion as per data compiled by Bloomberg.

After Sikka, Infosys chairman R Seshasayee, co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan planning to exit: Sources

Both Seshasayee and Venkatesan have assured the top command that they will leave only when situation at Infosys stablize.

After Vishal Sikka, Infosys’ chairman R Seshasayee is planning to leave, sources told CNBC-TV18. Seshasayee is unhappy with the recent course of events at the company and is planning to move on.

Not only Seshasayee, but co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan is also exploring options to move on.  Both Seshasayee and Venkatesan will make a decision on whether to carry on with the IT giant in coming few days.

The sources further said that both of them have assured the top command that they will leave only when the situation at Infosys stablizes.

Infosys will also appoint a search panel soon to oversee CEO selection and board re-composition. The panel may consist of founders, board members and outside business leaders.

On August 17, Vishal Sikka resigned as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Infosys with immediate effect.

The CEO selection process is likely to be completed within four months.

The company’s top 10 clients of the company have written to the board expressing concern over the ongoing turbulence in the company. Clients seek clarity on the appointment of new CEO and other operational matters.

On Wednesday, a CNBC-TV18 source-based report said that Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani could return as the head.

Infosys told CNBC-TV18 that they do not have further updates on the issue. The company said in case of developments, it will inform the media and will refrain from making comments on speculations and rumors.

RBI may introduce new Rs 200 notes from September: Report

For the first time in history, Reserve Bank of India is very likely to rollout the new Rs 200 notes from August end or early September

The Reserve Bank of India will be introducing Rs 200 notes by end of August or early September, reports Economic Times, quoting sources.

The new denomination notes, which will initially have a print run of 50 crore, will help the banking regulator and the government launch a renewed fight against black money and counterfeit currency.

Demonetisation, which illegalised the popular Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes overnight, is largely believed to be the first major step taken to immobilise the black market in Asia’s third biggest economy.

The Rs 200 notes will help bridge the gap between Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes. A source speaking to Economic Times said that the RBI believes the Rs 200 notes will become a ‘very popular’ denomination.

Chief Economist at State Bank of India Soumya Kanti Ghosh pointed out in an interview to the newspaper that the new notes will ease the ‘operational difficulties’ faced by the common man.

When Rs 2000 notes were introduced after demonetisation, there were reports of illegal hoarding. When higher denomination notes take up a higher proportion of currency in circulation it triggers illegal hoarding thereby adding to unaccounted money.

The move to introduce the Rs 200 notes is expected to lessen the problem of unaccounted, untaxed-for cash in the Indian economy, reports the newspaper.

Paytm Mall to invest USD 35 million in logistics network

Paytm Mall is currently working with three national courier partners — Delhivery, Bluedart and Xpressbees, delivering parcels at more than 17,000 pin codes

Paytm Mall, owned by Paytm Ecommerce Pvt Ltd on Tuesday said it plans to invest USD 35 million in technology and infrastructure to expand its logistics network. It also plans to shorten delivery timelines and is now expanding its logistics support by servicing demand with local supply to service same-day and next-day deliveries.

Paytm Mall is currently working with three national courier partners — Delhivery, Bluedart and Xpressbees, delivering parcels at more than 17,000 pin codes. It has also partnered with specialised local delivery couriers including Shadowfax and Book a wheel to drive the next phase of its expansion.

In the first phase, this service is limited to electronics and appliances categories across 25 cities. It will soon be expanded to more than 100 cities and additional categories. The development comes after the company recently delisted six logistic partners and 30 courier aggregation centers.

“We aim to build a trusted and highly efficient logistics network to enable our partnered retailers to offer same-day and next-day deliveries. This will help local shopkeepers offer a more convenient shopping experience to their customers and enable brands to save up to 50% on logistics, as they will be able to bypass inter-city logistics costs. In the coming months, we will rapidly increase the number of items and pin-codes where customers can receive their orders same-day or next-day,” Amit Sinha, chief operating officer, Paytm Mall said in a statement.

Last week, Paytm Mall had announced that it was investing USD 5 million in a ‘Retailer Inclusion Programme’ which is aimed at onboarding shopkeepers on the company’s e-commerce platform.

Change in voting system: Parliamentary panel seeks parties’ views

The all-party Parliamentary panel has called for a first planned debate on the issue and ways to explore other methods of election.

Congress leader Anand Sharma who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has referred to all parties and the Election Commission a six-page “Questionnaire on Electoral Reforms” on worries that the first-past-the-post (FPTP) is not the best-suited system as apparent from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results.

The all-party Parliamentary panel has called for a first planned debate on the issue and ways to explore other methods of election, apart from the FPTP system that is presently used in the Lok Sabha and state assembly polls, according to a report in The Indian Express.

FPTP voting system is the one in which voters specify on secret election ballot the candidate of their choice and the candidate who gets the most votes wins. It is the most widely practiced method in close to one-third of the world’s countries. Canada, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States are the prominent countries which use the FPTP system.

The other method of elections are list system (open list and closed system), proportional representation, ranked or preferential voting and mixed systems. The proportional representation is used for the election of President in India.

There is a growing worry that the FPTP system is not best-suited system as can be seen from the recently-concluded assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The results showed that a party getting 39 percent vote share won 312 seats and parties getting 22 percent and 21 percent got only 47 and 19 seats respectively — without naming the BJP, SP and BSP, the reference to the individual party’s shares and the seats won in the state elections is clear.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and other parties are yet to reply for the same, whereas the main opposition parties like the Congress, BSP, CPI(M), NCP, CPI and Lok Janshakti Party have responded for the same.

Sikka’s resignation raises a question — Who is the villain?

Infosys’ statement indicates dominance of minority ex-promoter, over a Board of 10 members.

“Oh my God!”

That was the reaction right across corporates and investor corridors when the news broke that Vishal Sikka, CEO and MD of Infosys had resigned. Like the Mistry ouster, this was one board room drama which became kahani ghar ghar ki!

Sikka’s resignation has unleashed a storm in a tea cup. Big questions on issues of corporate governance have been raised by a promoter.  Questions on the independence of the Board have also been raised — where it was collectively working on pacifying the promoter for the last 18 months or so, though the promoter was being so unreasonable in his demands, with incorrect facts. All this can be gleaned from the letter written by the management.

An Infosys statement released dated August 18, 2017, issued to stock exchanges have made a few startling revelations, few of them being:-

Mr. Murthy’s continuous assault, including his latest letter, is the primary reason that the CEO, Dr. Vishal Sikka, has resigned despite strong Board support.

Mr. Murthy’s letter contains factual inaccuracies, already-disproved rumours and statements extracted out of context from his conversations with Board members.

Mr. Murthy has demanded that the Board adopt certain changes in policy, else he will attack board members in the public; this threat was carried out when the Board did not acquiesce.

Mr. Murthy has demanded that the Board should appoint specific individuals onto the Board under similar threat, without appropriate disclosure and without regard to basic determinants of appropriateness or fit of the candidate for the role as a Board member;

Mr Murthy has demanded operational and management changes under the threat of media attacks,

Mr.Murthy wanted the demands to be adhered to without attribution to him.

In response to all these, the Infosys Board has said:

The Board has, in its fiduciary role to consider all shareholder inputs, treated each demands from Mr. Murthy as a suggestion and only acted on suggestions which we believed was in the best interest of the company and declined to act on others. Over time the demands have intensified, which when declined by the Board resulted in the threats of media attacks being carried out.

The company has now brought these out in the open and put it on record, which indicates dominance of minority ex-promoter, over a Board of 10 members, of which, 8 are non-executive independent directors. Strangely now, Infosys has Non-executive Chairman, Co-Chairman, Executive Vice-Chairman and Interim MD & CEO and CEO. Why so many power centres – all to please and pacify promoter?

But does an eminent independent Board, of a company like Infosys, need to take care of 12.75% stakeholders only, being the holding of five promoters? What about the interests of 87.25% stakeholders, of which, about 75% is held by DIIs, FIIs & Depository Receipt holders?

It is seen that many Indian promoters try to ape foreign system of professional management, with professional board, but seen repenting, once they give up the control of the company. It is ideal to give up executive role and Board seat after certain age, but difficult to keep calm thereafter. So, what is the compulsion of this idealism? Infosys founder Narayana Murthy having given up his executive role, as also, vacating Board seat at Infosys, has admitted of regret of having given it up, despite being advised otherwise by his well-wishers then.

Indian industrialists are seen hard working, ambitious, possessive and those believing in dynasty way of managing business. This rule of dynasty has worked very well till this date and there is no harm seen either.

Old stalwarts like late G D Birla worked till his age of 89 years. JRD Tata worked till 89 years, two years after he relinquished Tata Sons chairmanship in favour of Ratan Tata. KK Birla, elder son of GD Birla worked till 90 years, while his younger brother BK Birla still at 96 years is chairman of Century Textiles, Century Enka and Kesoram.

At 79, Rahul Bajaj is Chairman of Bajaj Auto, Bajaj Finance and Bajaj Finserve. Late Brijmohan Lall Munjal was Chairman Emeritus of Hero MotoCorp, till he was 92 years. TCS Founder FC Kohli who’s referred to as father of Indian software industry, is an Independent Director in Triveni Engineering, at 93 years.

At 83, RC Bhargava is Chairman of Maruti Suzuki. Similarly, Azim Premji is Chairman and Managing Director at 72.

In fact, this trend is seen across the country, with practice being followed in all the groups, communities, sectors and states. It is wrong to believe that only professionally-managed companies are doing well, while family run companies can’t do well.

Reliance Industries (RIL), having distinction of highest market capitalisation of over Rs 5.12 lakh crore, on Indian bourses, has Mukesh Ambani as its CMD, who is holding this position by virtue of his academic and managerial capability. He is a promoter as well.

India Inc feels that it will be good for Infosys if its promoter Nandan Nilekani comes back as Chairman, whether in an executive or in non-executive role. This belies the myth of professional management as the only way to success which was seen having adopted by the promoters of Infosys three years back when one of its founder promoters Shibulal did not perform well.

So now, majority of the companies are seen having a mix of promoter and professional managers. Case in point being AV Birla Group, Kotak Bank, M&M, JSW, RPG- Harsh Goenka, RPG-Sanjeev Goenka, Marico, Dabur, TVS, Yes Bank, Eicher, Bajaj, Bharti, Asian Paints and many pharma companies.

A few large companies like ITC, HDFC, ICICI Bank, L&T, IDFC etc. have been professionally managed. As there are no identifiable promoter existing with these companies, professional management is a compulsion than a choice. In case of few of such companies, the CEO & MD is seen existing for decades, giving impression of them being promoters or having no courage or willingness to part with the control.

So, the entire fight of Infosys is seen more of ego, control, position and power, while similar kind of things were seen in Tata Group as well some time ago. Thirst for power has seen split in the groups as well, either due to family getting bigger or ego between the siblings. The Birlas, Mafatlals, JK, RPG, Ambanis, Bajajs and Jindals are few such examples.

It seems that India Inc will take a big lesson from the Infosys episode and will re-think hundred a times before taking a decision to part with management and control, handing over the reins to make it a purely professionally-run company.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.