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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 Indian equity indices open flat

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SENSEX NIFTY MARKET

Mumbai, June 25: The key Indian equity indices on Monday opened on a flat to negative note.

The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex), was trading 20.89 points or 0.06 per cent lower soon after opening.

The wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was also trading 9.20 points or 0.09 per cent lower at 10,812.65 points.

The Sensex of the BSE, which opened at 35,783.75 points, was trading at 35,668.71 points (at 9.16 a.m.), lower 20.89 points or 0.06 per cent from the previous day’s close at 35,689.60 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 35,806.97 points and a low of 35,658.19 points in the trade so far.

IANS

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Market Review: Amid volatility equity indices rise for 5th straight week

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SENSEX NIFTY MARKET

Mumbai, June 23: Despite volatility and a broadly bearish momentum, the key Indian equity indices rose for the fifth consecutive week, although with marginal gains.

Value buying by investors, primarily in banking, healthcare and auto stocks on Friday helped the indices end higher than the previous week’s levels.

The gains in the week ended Friday, were limited by global trade war concerns due to imposition of tariffs and counter-tariffs internationally.

Index-wise, the barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE rose by 67.46 points or 0.19 per cent to close at 35,689.60 points on a weekly basis.

The wider Nifty50 of the NSE closed the week’s trade at 10,821.85 points — up 4.15 points or 0.04 per cent — from its previous close.

According to analysts, market breadth was negative in all the five trading sessions of the week.

“Markets ended the week with marginal gains after trading in a rangebound manner for a major part of the week. It was nevertheless the fifth consecutive week of gains for the Nifty50,” said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.

Shibani Kurian, Senior Vice President and Head of Equity Research at Kotak Mutual Fund told IANS: “Volatility in the market continued during the week ended June 22, 2018 amidst rhetoric of intensifying trade wars between the US and China and the possibility of imposition of further tariffs against imports from China.”

According to Equity99’s Senior Research Analyst, Rahul Sharma, stock specific actions were the flavor of the week, “wherein HDFC twins (HDFC, HDFC Bank) shimmered, gaining more than 2 per cent”.

Further, during the week all eyes were on the outcome of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) meet, said Prateek Jain, Director of Hem Securities. OPEC, was expected to decide on raising its oil production to cool down oil prices and eventually on Friday it announced an agreement to raise oil output by nearly one million barrels per day.

On the currency front, the rupee closed at 67.84 against the US dollar appreciating by 18 paise from its previous week’s close of 68.02 per greenback.

In terms of investments, provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrip worth Rs 2,088.81 crore, while the domestic institutional investors purchased stocks worth Rs 4,720.76 crore during the week.

Figures from the National Securities Depository (NSDL) revealed that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) divested equities worth Rs 4,528.63 crore, or $665.71 million, in the week ended on June 22.

Sectorally, the top gainers were the Bank Nifty, pharma and energy indices, while the top losers were metal, public sector banks and IT indices, Jasani told IANS.

The top weekly Sensex gainers were ICICI Bank (up 6.57 per cent at Rs 300.85); HDFC (up 3.86 per cent at Rs 1,902.40); HDFC Bank (up 2.52 per cent at Rs 2,081.80); Tata Motors (up 1.63 per cent at Rs 308.15); and Yes Bank (up 1.41 per cent at Rs 335.20 per share).

The major losers were Coal India (down 5 per cent at Rs 265.10); Vedanta (down 4.23 per cent at Rs 228.65); ONGC (down 3.63 per cent at Rs 159.45); Wipro (down 3.34 per cent at Rs 257.95); and Infosys (down 2.66 per cent at Rs 1,246.45 per share).

IANS

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Oil prices rally after OPEC meeting

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Vienna, June 23 (IANS) Oil prices surged as investors were closely watching the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting.

The West Texas Intermediate for August delivery on Friday rose $3.04 to settle at $68.58 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for August delivery was up $2.50 to close at $75.55 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange, Xinhua news agency reported.

The OPEC on Friday announced an agreement to raise oil output which, in accord with non-OPEC producers, had been reduced last year in order to boost prices that had been in free fall mainly due to a supply glut.

Following a ministerial meeting here of the 14-nation cartel, the statement released, however, did not provide any details of the production increases to be allocated among members.

Current OPEC Chairman, the UAE Energy Minister Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, told reporters after the meeting that the increase agreed upon is “a little bit less than 1 million barrels” over OPEC’s current output.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers, including Russia, had put in place 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) cut from January 2017, which helped boost crude prices go over $80 a barrel last month.

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