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I don’t really believe India can be cashless: Arundhati Bhattacharya

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New Delhi, January 11: Sharing her steadfast views on noteban and digital economy State Bank of India Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya outlined paradox of demonetisation  and digitalization for India.

Speaking at Wharton India Economic Forum 2017 in Mumbai, Bhattacharya said India cannot be a cashless society, but a less cash economy while highlighting the underlying hurdles for the same.

Despite being the head of the largest public sector bank of India, Arundhati Bhattacharya did not hailed or criticized note ban decision but focused on challenges it has posed for the country.

She sternly said: Whether demonetisation came prematurely, only history will tell.

Citing rush demonetisation has drived for digital transactions she stated, “I don’t really believe that India can be a cashless society. I always say that we will be a “less-cash” economy – that is a more reasonable goal to work towards.”

Explaining the paradox of transaction cost being conferred upon the digital users Bhattacharya said digital economy thrives on the least human intervention but presently we are at a stage where we haven’t been able to completely shun manual use and usher in the digital completely. The cost advantage of the latter thus cancels out and hinders the path to go for digital economy.

She shows her concerns on how technological revolution could minimise human intervention to the extent that it will, effectively, take away jobs from people.

Transactions will become less costly, but only over a period of time. But it is valid that until that happens, people will question why they should switch to digital if it costs them money, and that will elongate the transition,” she said.

She further points out how despite being a country where 75 percent of the total population is under 25 a sizable population still believes in the human touch, and prefers standing in queues to see their transactions physically fold out.

One of the biggest challenges for a secure digital future is the uniform division of technology across all demographic groups and in all forms of production processes, primary and secondary, points out Bhattacharya.

“In India, there are wide disparities. Focusing on increasing the internet’s bandwidth and speed under the pretext that it will boost GDP is not really enough when both its penetration is low and its distribution is unfair. We have just gone through demonetisation, and we have just seen that the very things that were meant to empower India could also be used for subverting a process,” she said.

If we try to push the digital economy too fast and that too, quickly, the abuses will then also become prevalent, warned Arundhati.

Citing example of fair-price shops where customers have adopted Aadhar-enabled technology but fail to recognise the reciepts and are thus duped she says: So, ultimately, everything has become digital, leakages have gone down, but if basic literacy is not there, we cannot promote this and expect it to have the right results. So, apart from access, basic literacy and understanding are key in truly achieving the goals of digital India,” she states.

Next technical problem for India that is a large country is how digitisation significantly disconnects the place of business from the place of consumption. It would become increasingly difficult to fix the location of the value created by this economy and apply the rules of tax. “Unless this is ascertained, implemented and perfected, our country will face revenue loss, impacting its growth and position,” says Arundhati.

“How do the virtual and physical economies interact? What are the positives and negatives that emerge from this interaction, and finally, how do we measure the contribution of this digital economy? Is GDP, as a measure, suited to measure this new economic phenomenon?” she concludes her insightful dialogue with question India seeks answer to.

Wefornews Bureau

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‘I don’t regret’ firing man who wrote anti-diversity memo: Pichai

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai

San Francisco, Jan 20: Indian-born Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said he does not regret firing James Damore, a former employee who was ousted from the company last year for criticising the tech giant for its diversity policy.

When asked about Google’s decision to fire Damore during an interview with MSNBC, Pichai said. “I don’t regret it. It was the right decision”.

“The last thing we do when we make decisions like this is look at it with a political lens,” Pichai told the TV show hosts late on Friday.

Damore, who was ousted for writing a 10-page anti-diversity memo last year, filed a class-action lawsuit against Google this month, claiming that it discriminates against white men.

Damore, in his lawsuit filed in a California court, said that Google “ostracised, belittled and punished” him and a fellow plaintiff.

He added that he and others who share his views at Google long have been “singled out, mistreated, and systematically punished and terminated from Google, in violation of their legal rights”.

The former Google employee also wrote an op-ed titled “Why I Was Fired by Google” in the Wall Street Journal in August last year.

Pichai had earlier described Damore’s memo as “offensive”.

IANS

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GST rate cut, upbeat Q3 results propel Nifty50 to 10,900-mark

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Mumbai, Jan 19: Extending gains for the third consecutive session, the key Indian equity indices on Friday zoomed to new highs, with the NSE Nifty50 crossing the psychologically important 10,900-mark for the first time.

According to market observers, positive global cues, coupled with upbeat quarterly corporate earnings and healthy buying in banking stocks, gave momentum to the upward rally of the key indices.

In addition, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council’s decision on Thursday to slash the GST rate on 54 services and 29 items, including old and used motor vehicles, public transport buses run on bio-fuels, sugar-boiled confectionery and packaged water, cheered investors.

The wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) touched a record intra-day high of 10,906.85 points.

However, the Nifty50 failed to sustain the 10,900-mark and closed at a new high of 10,894.70 points — higher by 77.70 points, or 0.72 per cent, from its previous close.

On the BSE, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) provisionally closed at a new high of 35,511.58 points — up 251.29 points or 0.71 per cent from its previous session’s close — after touching a fresh high of 35,542.17 points during intra-day trade.

In contrast, the BSE market breadth remained bearish as 1,506 stocks declined as compared to 1,393 advances.

“Markets surged higher in late afternoon trade to yet another new record high after opening on a negative note,” Deepak Jasani, Head – Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

“Sentiments were boosted on the back of firmness in global markets and slashing the tax rate on 54 services and 29 items by the GST council in its latest meet and also the proposal for simplifying return filing process for businesses,” he added.

In the broader markets, the S&P BSE mid-cap index fell sharply to close higher by 0.77 per cent and the small-cap index by 0.88 per cent.

Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services, said: “The government’s decision to cut GST rate for a few more items and a good start to earnings season added energy in the market.

“The market is anticipating a sea change in the earnings with a growth of 15-20 per cent in PAT (profit after tax) led by revamp in businesses and low base effect. Moreover, positive trend in global market and drop in crude prices influenced buying pattern.”

On the currency front, the Indian rupee strengthened by three paise to close flat at 63.85 against the US dollar.

Provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors purchased scrips worth Rs 988.25 crore, and the domestic institutional investors worth Rs 209.86 crore.

“Markets ended with spectacular record highs and closed in green for the third straight time, led by financial stocks. Both indices posted their seventh consecutive weekly gains,” Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, told IANS.

All the 19 sub-indices of the BSE ended with gains. The S&P BSE banking index surged the most — up 456.01 points — followed by capital goods index by 183.62 points and metals index by 137.48 points.

Major Sensex gainers on Friday were: Adani Ports, up 4.68 per cent at Rs 433.75; Yes Bank, up 2.37 per cent at Rs 348.30; ICICI Bank, up 2.15 per cent at Rs 353.55; State Bank of India, up 2.08 per cent at Rs 309.05; and Tata Consultancy Services, up 1.53 per cent at Rs 2,954.75.

Major Sensex losers were: Infosys, down 0.82 per cent at Rs 1,143.25; Sun Pharma, down 0.74 per cent at Rs 572; Power Grid, down 0.61 per cent at Rs 196; Maruti Suzuki, down 0.40 per cent at Rs 9,321.35; and ONGC, down 0.23 per cent at Rs 193.60.

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HCL Technologies net up 6%

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New Delhi, Jan 19: Software major HCL Technologies Ltd on Friday reported Rs 2,194 crore consolidated net profit for the third quarter (Q3) of fiscal 2017-18, posting 6 per cent annual growth from Rs 2,070 crore in the same period year ago and flat (0.3 per cent) sequential from Rs 2,188 crore a quarter ago.

In a regulatory filing on the BSE, the Noida-based IT firm said consolidated revenue for the quarter under review (Q3) grew 8.4 per cent yearly to Rs 12,808, from Rs 11,814 crore in the like period year ago, and 3 per cent sequentially from Rs 12,434 crore a quarter ago.

In dollar terms, net income, however, grew 11.2 per cent yearly to $340 million for the quarter from $306 million in the same period a year ago but flat (0.3 per cent sequentially from $339 million in the like period quarter ago.

Consolidated revenue under the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) grew 13.9 per cent yearly to $1,988 million from $1,745 million a year ago and 3 per cent sequentially from $1,928 million a quarter ago.

IANS

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