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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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Key equity indices provisionally end in green

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Mumbai, April 23: The key Indian equity indices provisionally closed in the green on Monday on the back of healthy buying in consumer durables, healthcare and IT stocks.

However, selling pressure on metal and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) stocks trimmed gains in the market.

At 3.30 p.m., the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) provisionally closed higher by 20.65 points or 0.20 per cent at 10,584.70 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which opened at 34,493.69 points, closed at 34,450.77 points (3.30 p.m.) — up 35.19 points or 0.10 per cent — from its previous session’s close.

The Sensex touched a high of 34,663.95 points and a low of 34,259.27 during the intra-day trade.

The BSE market breadth was bullish with 1,399 advances and 1,284 declines.

On Monday, the major gainers on the BSE were IndusInd Bank, Mahindra and Mahindra, Sun Pharma, Asian Paints and Yes Bank while HDFC Bank, Tata Motors (DVR), Coal India, Hero MotoCorp and ICICI Bank were among the major losers.

On NSE, the top gainers were IndusInd Bank, Mahindra and Mahindra and BPCL. The major losers were Hindalco Industries, Indiabulls Housing Finance and UPL.

On Friday, negative global cues such as high crude oil prices, along with a weak rupee and heavy selling pressure in banking stocks subdued the key Indian equity markets.

The Nifty50 closed at 10,564.05 points on Friday, down 1.25 points or 0.01 per cent from its previous close and the Sensex closed at 34,415.58 points, down 11.71 points or 0.03 per cent.

IANS

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TCS first Indian company to achieve $100 billion m-cap

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Mumbai, April 2: IT bellwether Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Monday emerged as the first Indian listed company to cross the $100-billion mark in terms of market capitalisation (m-cap).

Around 11 a.m., the m-cap of the company stood at Rs 675,934.95 crore or $101.60 billion on the BSE.

Shares of the company rose over four per cent to a new high of Rs 3,557 per share.

On Friday, the IT major’s shares rose over seven per cent to Rs 3,419.80 per share, taking its m-cap to over Rs 6.50 lakh crore or around $98 billion — close to the $100 billion mark.

The company’s shares had surged a day after its quarterly results announcement, which reported a net profit for Q4 at Rs 6,925 crore — up 4.6 per cent — from Rs 6,622 crore in the same period in 2017 and up 5.8 per cent sequentially from Rs 6,545 crore a quarter ago.

It also announced 1:1 bonus shares of Re 1 face value to its investors at the end of fiscal 2017-18.

IANS

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Centre congratulates Bengal for becoming revenue surplus

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Secretary, Revenue, Dr. Hasmukh Adhia
Hasmukh Adhia, Finance Seceretary.File Photo

Kolkata, April 22 (IANS) The Central government has congratulated the West Bengal government as the state has become revenue surplus in March, officials said.

In a recent communication to state Chief Secretary Malay De, Union Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said: “As far as West Bengal is concerned, the revenue gap has come down from 33.4 per cent in August to (-) 3 per cent in March. The revenue shortfall in West Bengal has been coming down steadily but there seems to have been a spike of a major gain in March where suddenly your revenue deficit has now become revenue surplus.”

“I would like to congratulate West Bengal for such a performance. We do hope that the trend will continue in future months also,” he wrote.

Adhia also mentioned the performance of Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection is improving with some ups and downs.

IANS

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