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Data will determine economic growth; 10 principles to ensure it

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A global undercurrent is shaping products, companies and whole swathe of markets. It’s happening at a rapid pace and needs a rethink by the government, business and civil society. Its not the internet, it is the digital footprints of consumers captured as clicks, likes, location and

buys. This trove of digital data, capable of providing insights is shaping social science, psychology and marketing. Focus group are passe, extrapolating on a sample survey is dead, there is now real data about what people like, use and shop along with what influences the buying behaviour. The science of big data using machine learning is building artificial intelligence that predicts buying behaviour. It can even influence behaviour from selecting a candidate to a spouse.

This is not happening because of technology, it is happening because technology has massive amount of data, in terabytes, to crunch and build hypotheses. There is so much data to test the output backwards into input, till it is fine-tuned into an algorithm. Entrepreneurs are massaging this data to redefine products and create new markets that never existed before.

Data is not the new oil as that analogy distorts its importance, it also assumes ownership in the hands of a few like the Big Oil monopolies. Data is more like water. We intuitively know it’s importance but have never defined its ownership, clearly. Data like water is renewable and its
ownership and usage will determine the future.

Data like water also has individual and distributed ownership. Individuals have clear rights to their own data and its usage. But anonymous non-personal citizen data has to be governed in such a manner that it promotes entrepreneurship and innovation. Therefore, a set of data’s ownership can be distributed and treated like public good(s).

The rules for keeping big data open is important as it impacts competition, entry level barriers, new products and entrepreneurship. Data incumbents are trying to skew the debate on data to protect their monopolies. A social media company entering payments will share data with its payment subsidiary but not the ecosystem. The incumbents can not determine the law that should govern data generated by citizens. India has to set clear rules for usage of data irrespective of the platform create a perfect market. These rules will determine future economic growth.

An example elucidates this, e-commerce is small as compared to the total size of retail but it has already started making a dent in pricing, branding and growth of established companies. Any large consumer good company knows its customer through the distribution chain. It has sales
data of its product location wise. This data is used to plan production, pricing, inventory and growth. The distribution network is used data point for testing new products, pilots, surveys of consumer preferences, etc. The crucial gap in the network is the final consumer, the leap to the final consumer his buying behaviour is available on E-commerce platforms. While consumer behaviour data is available it is not accessible.

As more and more sales moves digital, all the nuances along like what is influencing buying behaviour can be identified if companies get access to it. But because they don’t get it they will sooner or later lose their consumer. Especially young consumers, digital first consumers platforms will monopolize future product innovation. The classical example of this is the cloud kitchens created by food delivery platforms.

Food delivery companies like Swiggy and Zomato which started as passive platforms connecting restaurants with consumers have become data powerful. This power arises from their control over consumers and their data. Almost every restaurant association in the country has complained to Competition Commission of India (CCI) against them. Unfortunately, the
outdated competition laws do not address abuse of data by internet platforms. Competition law is important for free markets and economic growth. These food aggregators are not governed by the e-commerce rules either.

They have opened up budget priced food kitchens that serve home cooked food to a large section of office-goers, affecting not just the restaurant business but even tiny home food entrepreneurs. This innovation of both cuisine, pricing and location comes from data insights of consumption on the platform. The location of the kitchen is the single most important insight in this business and it determines success or failure. Which is why the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) is asking food aggregators to share data with its members so they do not get left out? Here, it is important to know that the food aggregators are no longer passive platforms; they have entered the domain of the suppliers.

This is happening across sectors like travel, hotels, where data is allowing platforms to enter new domains. While the consumer benefits in the short run because of lower pricing and easier access to home delivery. In the long run the choice and competition will shrink. Therefore a proper market for data has to be created, rules need to be framed for the operation of such a marketplace.

This obviously will also raise a wider debate needed on privacy, data security and even pricing of such data. Platforms will not part easily with the data as they see it is a competitive edge. They have lobbied hard to prevent any legislation on it. The best way is to move forward is to recognize data as a public product or good. Certain broad principles need to be followed for this wherever the law is talking about data. The confusion of which law or Act will determine data sharing is a spanner thrown to delay the process. Unnecessary conflict is being created between ministries and pending legislation to prevent basic data principles from being followed.

Ten data principles for a free market

  • Citizens to have the right to opt out or opt in from databases
  • Rules to define non-personal data sharing and use
  • Platforms can’t deny suppliers or vendors consumption data
  • Define non-personal data in line with privacy
  • Norms for pricing, usage and download to develop a market
  • Non-personal customer data is a public resource
  • Define government data as a public good
  • Use of public data governed by privacy and security
  • Prevent monopolistic ownership of data
  • Local laws to govern data generated in India

(K. Yatish Rajawat is a policy analyst. He tweets @yatishrajawat. The views expressed here are personal)

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Singh bros deliberately imperiled Religare Finvest to siphon off money

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Ranbaxy Shivinder Singh

New Delhi, Oct 19 : Singh Brothers — Malvinder Mohan Singh (MMS) and Shivinder Mohan Singh (SMS) — were the lynchpins in the Rs 3,000 crore Religare Group fraud.

The FIR in possession of IANS describes the modus operandi of how the money was siphoned off.

The construct was as follows: The same company was funded with equal or higher amount on the day payment was received from it towards previous dues. In some cases, it appears that ledger entries were done on the earlier dates, but repayments were received on the same day or in a time span of 1-2 days when the same or some other companies were funded.

So, the whole thing assumed a rolling sort of plan, where money came from dues and then repaid elsewhere. It was a calibrated plan which though cut to cut worked like clockwork. Such was the level of chicanery that the two brothers, along with CEO Sunil Godhwani, practised that they deliberately imperiled Religare Finvest so that the money siphoning operation ran without interference.

Here is the architecture: For instance, on June 17, 2009, Rs 34 crore was received in total from Blue Line Finance, GYS Real Estate, Ligare Aviation, Ligare Voyage, Linear Commercial and Sharan Hospitality and on the very same day, Rs 54 crore was funded to Dion Global, Religare Technova Business Intellect and Religare Technova IT Services.

On August 17, 2009, Rs 200 crore was funded and repayment of Rs 100 crore was received from Religare Financial Consultancy. On March 30, 2010, Rs 36 crore was extended to nine companies and on the same day, repayment of Rs 32 crore was received from six other companies except Ligare Aviation from which repayment of Rs 13 crore was received and to which Rs 14 crore was extended on the same day.

On January 31, 2011, repayment of Rs 175 crore was received from Adept Creation, Leon Realtors, SVIIT Softwares and Vectra Pharmaceuticals and on the very next day, i.e. on February 1, 2011, Rs 174 crore was extended to Ligare Aviation, Oscar Investments, Religare Comtrade, RHDFC and RWL Health World.

A copy of the internal report based on inquiries by Religare Finvest, the complainant company, shows the firm’s exposure on account of the Corporate Loan Book (CLB) to the above mentioned related/friendly borrower entities is to the tune of Rs 2,397 crores.

While the aforesaid transactions had been taking place for sometime by way of round-tripping of funds, the loans were purportedly serviced. However, it appears that when the promoters realised that they would lose control over REL and its subsidiaries (including the complainant company), they caused the complainant company to extend loans, but then willfully defaulted on these loans.

Due to the various defaults on account of the CLB, RFL initiated legal proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, against these entities in the NCLT. Before the NCLT, seven of the said borrower companies, which had been extended loans under the CLB, filed replies on solemn affirmation which shockingly is an admission of financial fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust, money laundering, conspiracy and abetment in respect of the subject unpaid unsecured loans/CLB transactions.

While these entities have intentionally tried to give vague replies, it is clear from all their replies that they knowingly were part of a criminal conspiracy to siphon away funds to the tune of hundreds of crores from the complainant company.

It is believed by the complainant company (on the basis of internal inquiries) that five of these entities — A&A Capital Services Limited (A&A), Shri Dham Distributor Pvt Ltd (earlier known as Abhiruchi Distributors Pvt Ltd), Annies Apparel Pvt Ltd (Annies), Gurudev Financial Services Pvt Ltd (Gurudev), and Tara Alloys Limited (Tara) — are related to and controlled by N.K. Ghoshal, the stockbroker of MMS and SMS.

The following submissions have been made by the aforesaid N.K. Ghoshal controlled entities before the NCLT: A&A Capital Services Pvt Ltd. A&A was used as a medium to transfer monies and was promised a fee for facilitating the transaction. It was an agreed understanding that the transaction money will not be demanded back. It is for the same reason that loans worth several crores were advanced to entities with authorised capital of Rs 5,50,00,000 and paid up capital of Rs 5,49,95,000 without any diligence, security, documentation or security and merely on the basis of a one pager document purportedly called as Memorandum of Understanding. S

Substantial sums were transferred to three entities, i.e., Vitobha Realtors Private Limited (Votobha), Devera Developers Private Limited (Devera) and Best Health Management Pvt Limited (Best), which are entities eventually controlled by SMS and MMS and they act as the alter egos of these companies.

It is evident from the above that A&A admits receipt of money; it admits that since the inception of the transaction, the intention was not to repay the loan to RFL, and conspiracy to divert the loan to third parties which allegedly used the monies to repay their loans to RFL.

As planned in the conspiracy, the loan advanced to A&A was never repaid, and it appears from A&A’s reply that it colluded with entities like Artfice, Best, Vitobha and Devera to siphon away money from RFL, with the intention of never to repay the said unsecured loan and thereby causing a wrongful loss to RFL, which has been deceived and cheated by the directors/persons controlling A&A (which in addition to its directors at the relevant time is believed to be N.K. Ghoshal) and allegedly by and in collusion with persons controlling Artifice, Best, Vitobha and Devera (which in addition to their directors are believed to be SMS and MMS) and persons in control of the management and affairs of RFL, including the erstwhile promoters.

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Congress believes in ground fighting: Ajay Kumar

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Ajay Kumar Lallu

Lucknow, Oct 18 (IANS) Congress eagerly wants to make a come back in Uttar Pradesh. Ajay Kumar Lallu, a two-time MLA from Kushinagar district, looks excited after becoming the state President and now ready to hold the responsibility of the party and also planning to take it to the pinnacle of success.

Lallu told IANS that the Congress believes in fighting on the ground, not on Twitter. On the question of the dejection of the old leaders after the new committee was announced, he said that all people in Congress were associated with one ideology. There is harmony among all the party people, their mindset might vary, but no one is angry. All are working for the advancement of the party.

“After the Sonbhadra Umbha incident, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was shaken by the Congress movement. The party led a big movement under Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s leadership. We were locked in the fort of Chunar. This was a battle on the ground. Gandhi’s padyatra on the Unnao and Chinmayananda scandal had gathered 50,000 workers on the streets on Gandhi Jayanti. Our party has caught the attention of the common man. We will carry forward the fight on this ground.

“The public has believed in the party. The Congress is fighting a battle against the policies such as sugarcane farmers problem, poor law and order, falling economy and arrogance of the Uttar Pradesh government. We are trying to gain the lost faith and mass base. The party will contest the 2022 Assembly elections alone.

“Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi have given me a huge responsibility. The party has been brought only those people to the state executive who has some history in the movement.

“The BJP’s image is quite stronger than any other parties on social media, but this will not work anymore. It is spreading violence, hatred and confusion among people. But our party followed Gandhiji’s ideology and we will definitely win in the next elections,” Lallu said.

“There will be no compromise with indiscipline. A petition has been filed against Harchandpur MLA Rakesh Singh seven months ago. Aditi Singh has also been given notice. The answer has not yet been received.”

Regarding the past two-and-a-half-year of the BJP government, Lallu said, “The BJP is unsuccessful in the state. It is torturing unemployed youths. It is troubling the contract workers. more than 25 thousand home guards might be fired. All the recruitments are pending in the court. The state has become anarchy today. The criminals are being protected. Our party will protest to expose the BJP government.”

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Modi’s new mission: Propel livestock production to increase India’s GDP

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livestock production Narendra Modi with Cow
Mathura: PM Modi visits Pashu Vigyan Evam Arogya Mela in Mathura on Sep 11, 2019. (Photo: PIB)

New Delhi, Oct 17 : Propelling livestock production into ‘mission mode’ would be one of the keys for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in achieving his ambitious target of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2024. After brainstorming serial meetings with livestock experts, top veterinary scientists and key officials of the Animal Husbandry and Dairying Ministry, Modi has launched three game-changing schemes which can turn around the growth story of millions of livestock farmers in India. The Government estimates that in the next five years, livestock farmers will not only save losses worth Rs 2.50 lakh crore, but will increase their income four times, contributing a major share in India’s GDP.

On boosting the Indian economy through significant increase in livestock production, Atul Chaturvedi, Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying told IANS: “The government’s determination to increase livestock production will certainly improve the economy in a big way. The three schemes launched by the Centre are unprecedented in scale. At the moment, we are carrying a mammoth exercise to assess the expected contribution of livestock production in the economy.”

One of the most senior IAS officers in the Modi government, Chaturvedi said that extraordinary efforts are being made to implement some of the biggest schemes (in the animal husbandry sector) in the world. “We are hopeful that it would lead to a fourfold increase in farmers’ income by 2024,” said Chaturvedi, a zoologist-turned-bureaucrat, who was earlier holding a key position in the Union Ministry of Commerce.

How focused the Modi government is on the livestock production is evident from its very first cabinet meeting. A source in the PMO revealed that soon after taking oath as Prime Minister for the second term, Modi presided over meetings related to animal husbandry issues. Subsequently, the very first decision of Modi’s first cabinet meeting was approval of a Rs 13,000 crore scheme for the benefit of livestock farmers.

“By 2017-18, Prime Minister Modi (in his first term) had decided to push the animal husbandry and dairy (sector) into mission mode because he realised that growth in this sector is over 6 per cent whereas the yearly growth in the agriculture sector is just half, at a meagre 3 per cent. The government was convinced that if livestock production is stimulated, the growth in animal husbandry and dairy could be raised up to 12 to 15 per cent, heralding a revolution in the agriculture market,” said a key official, implementing vaccination of bovines across the country.

Another area of concern for PM Modi has been very low dairy exports. Despite being the world’s largest milk producer, India could never break into the list of top 15 milk and dairy exporting countries. The main reason for this was that India’s major bovine population was affected by several diseases including the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

The high sanitation norms and health parameters in western countries rejected import of Indian milk and dairy products. The situation was similar in other livestock products. Besides, the average yearly production of milk per cow was not even one fourth. Government data reveals an Indian cow’s average yearly milk production is around 2,000 kg while in the US, the figure crosses the 10,000 kg mark. In Israel, the average yearly milk production by a single cow is nearly 12,000 kg which raises questions about the very low milk yield per cow in India.

On issues which hinder the growth of livestock production in the country, Chaturvedi identified three key problems were the biggest barriers for farmers for yielding less profit.

“Prevailing diseases in farm animals, poor nutrition value (of fodder provided to them) and low quality of breeding are the main reasons behind sluggish growth. The government is addressing all these problems. For instance, a large force of volunteers will undertake the world’s biggest-ever vaccination drive by injecting 1,056 million doses every year. The result would definitely free Indian bovines from FMD, resulting in wide acceptance of Indian milk and dairy products across the world,” said Chaturvedi, a 1986 batch IAS officer of Assam and Meghalaya cadre.

Recently, when PM Modi launched a cattle vaccination programme in Mathura, he also laid emphasis on developing best breeds in livestock. A much better breed of cattle would enable the farmers to pocket six-to-eight times more profit than what they are usually earning now. India has also hired the services of two American companies, considered to be the most advanced in artificial insemination technology to produce healthier livestock. The farmers would now have a choice of breeding only cows rather than bulls. The new technology of insemination provides sex-sorted semen wherein the farmers can ensure that only female calves are born. The inseminated cows using semen of genetically superior bulls can also ensure increased milk production and better fertility.

Policy makers in the government’s think tank, Niti Aayog, are also hopeful that by increasing livestock production in quality and quantity, rural India can contribute to India’s GDP in a significant way. According to a Niti Aayog official, animal husbandry and dairying can reap profits up to ten times more when compared with agriculture production by and large limited to kharif or rabi crops.

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