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Petrol prices rise for third consecutive day



Petrol Price

New Delhi: Petrol prices increased for the third consecutive day on Saturday, while diesel prices remained unchanged.
The price of petrol rose by 14 paise per litre in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, while by 15 paise/litre in Chennai. The fuel has become costlier by 47 paise in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, and 50 paise in Chennai, in three days.
According to the Indian Oil website, petrol price in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai has increased to Rs 73.77, Rs 76.47, Rs 79.44, and Rs 76.68 per litre, respectively. However, the price of diesel in the four metropolitan cities has remained stable at Rs 65.79, Rs 68.20, Rs 69.01 and Rs 69.54 per litre, respectively.

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IMF blames India for ‘lion’s share’ of cut to global growth projection




International Monetary Fund

United Nations, Jan 20 Drastically slashing India’s growth estimate to 4.8 per cent for the current fiscal year, the International Monetary Fund on Monday blamed its economic slowdown for a “lion’s share” of its cut of 0.1 per cent to global growth projections.

The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update cut the global economic growth projections made in October by 0.1 per cent for last year to 2.9 per cent and to 3.3 per cent for the current year.

“A more subdued growth forecast for India accounts for the lion’s share of the downward revisions,” the IMF said.

The slashing of India’s growth projections follow downward trend from 7.5 per cent at this time last year to 6.1 per cent last October.

The WEO Update released in Davos, where the World Economic Forum is meeting, however, indicated that India may be turning around after what it had said was one of the “negative surprises.”

In the next fiscal year, India’s growth rate is expected to increase by 1 per cent to 5.8 per cent and to 6.5 in 2021-22.

Despite the cuts for India, it is the second-fastest growing major economy in the world after China this year and the next, and it is expected to overtake China in 2021.

China’s growth rate projections are 6.1 per cent for 2019, 6 per cent in 2020 and 5.8 per cent in 2021.

India is also doing better than the once-roaring Asian tigers of the ASEAN, whose economic growth was estimated at 4.7 last year and projected to increase to 4.8 this year and 5.1 per cent next year, the IMF said.

The growth rates of advanced economies are dismal in comparison, although given their level of development, the low growth will not have the same impact as the slowdown would have on an economy like India.

The developed countries are estimated to have grown at 1.7 per cent last year and projected to grow at 1.6 per cent this year and the next.

The IMF estimated growth rate of Germany last year at 0.5 per cent, the United States at 2.3 per cent, and Japan at 1 per cent.

Despite Brexit fears, Britain’s growth was estimated at 1.3 per cent last year, and projected to grow to 1.4 per cent this year and 1.5 per cent the next.

The IMF said the reason for the downgrade of India’s growth rates is that “domestic demand has slowed more sharply than expected amid stress in the non-bank financial sector and a decline in credit growth.”

The IMF gave India the lowest growth projections of the three made by international organisations this month — all of which downgraded it from previous estimates.

The World Bank estimated India’s growth rate to be 5 per cent for the current fiscal year, while the UN put it at 5.7 per cent.

The IMF said that globally, “trade policy uncertainty, geopolitical tensions, and idiosyncratic stress in key emerging market economies continued to weigh on global economic activity — especially manufacturing and trade — in the second half of 2019.”

It added, “Intensifying social unrest in several countries posed new challenges, as did weather-related disasters.”

Despite these, IMF said “Some indications emerged toward year-end that global growth may be bottoming out.”

At the same time, it cautioned, “Downside risks, however, remain prominent, including rising geopolitical tensions, notably between the United States and Iran, intensifying social unrest, further worsening of relations between the United States and its trading partners, and deepening economic frictions between other countries.”

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AI needs to be regulated: Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai




San Francisco, Jan 20 (IANS) Joining Microsoft President Brad Smith and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday called for new regulations for Artificial Intelligence (AI), saying the only question now is how to approach it.

Although new regulation is needed, “a cautious approach is required that might not see significant controls placed on AI,” Pichai who was last month took over as the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, in an editorial piece in The Financial Times.

“There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. It is too important not to. The only question is how to approach it”.

“Companies such as ours cannot just build promising new technology and let market forces decide how it will be used. It is equally incumbent on us to make sure that technology is harnessed for good and available to everyone,” Pichai wrote.

According to CNET, the timing of the editorial coincides with a big push from Google to reveal some of the results of its own work in AI and bring tools it has developed out into the world.

The Alphabet CEO stressed that “international alignment will be critical to making global standards work” on AI.

We need to take a “principled approach to applying AI, said the company, while offering Google’s “expertise, experience and tools.”

“We need to be clear-eyed about what could go wrong,” he said.

His comments come as lawmakers and governments globally are considering to limit the use of AI in fields such as face recognition system – an issue close to Microsoft President Brad Smith’s heart who has often criticized the technology, urging governments to enact legislation regarding the technology.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” said Smith.

Advanced AI which is beyond chat bots will soon be used to manipulate social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned recently.

In his famous debate with former Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma, Musk entered into a lassic argument over the capabilities of emerging technologies like AI.

Musk said that computers will one day surpass humans in “every single way”. He has predicted that a single company that develops “God-like super intelligence” might achieve world domination.

If not regulated or controlled soon, AI could become an “immortal dictator” and there will be no escape for humans, the SpaceX CEO had warned.

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Wealth of India’s richest 1% more than 4-times of total for 70% poorest: Oxfam




rupee dollar

DAVOS : India’s richest 1 per cent hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70 per cent of the country’s population, while the total wealth of all Indian billionaires is more than the full-year budget, a new study said on Monday.

Releasing the study ‘Time to Care’ here ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), rights group Oxfam also said the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 per cent of the planet’s population.

The report flagged that global inequality is shockingly entrenched and vast and the number of billionaires has doubled in the last decade, despite their combined wealth having declined in the last year.

“The gap between rich and poor can’t be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these,” said Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar, who is here to represent the Oxfam confederation this year.

The issues of income and gender inequality are expected to figure prominently in discussions at the five-day summit of the WEF, starting Monday. The WEF’s annual Global Risks Report has also warned that the downward pressure on the global economy from macroeconomic fragilities and financial inequality continued to intensify in 2019.

Concern about inequality underlies recent social unrest in almost every continent, although it may be sparked by different tipping points such as corruption, constitutional breaches, or the rise in prices for basic goods and services, as per the WEF report.

Although global inequality has declined over the past three decades, domestic income inequality has risen in many countries, particularly in advanced economies and reached historic highs in some, the Global Risks Report flagged last week.

The Oxfam report further said “sexist” economies are fuelling the inequality crisis by enabling a wealthy elite to accumulate vast fortunes at the expense of ordinary people and particularly poor women and girls.

Regarding India, Oxfam said the combined total wealth of 63 Indian billionaires is higher than the total Union Budget of India for the fiscal year 2018-19 which was at ₹24,42,200 crore.

“Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist,” Behar said.

As per the report, it would take a female domestic worker 22,277 years to earn what a top CEO of a technology company makes in one year.

With earnings pegged at ₹106 per second, a tech CEO would make more in 10 minutes than what a domestic worker would make in one year.

It further said women and girls put in 3.26 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day — a contribution to the Indian economy of at least ₹19 lakh crore a year, which is 20 times the entire education budget of India in 2019 ( ₹93,000 crore).

Besides, direct public investments in the care economy of 2 per cent of GDP would potentially create 11 million new jobs and make up for the 11 million jobs lost in 2018, the report said.

Behar said the gap between rich and poor cannot be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these.

He said women and girls are among those who benefit the least from today’s economic system.

“They spend billions of hours cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Unpaid care work is the ‘hidden engine’ that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving.

“It is driven by women who often have little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how our societies are run, and who are therefore trapped at the bottom of the economy,” Behar added.

Oxfam said governments are massively under-taxing the wealthiest individuals and corporations and failing to collect revenues that could help lift the responsibility of care from women and tackle poverty and inequality.

Besides, the governments are also underfunding vital public services and infrastructure that could help reduce women and girls’ workload, the report said.

As per the global survey, the 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa.

Besides, women and girls put in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day — a contribution to the global economy of at least USD 10.8 trillion a year, more than three times the size of the global tech industry.

Getting the richest one per cent to pay just 0.5 per cent extra tax on their wealth over the next 10 years would equal the investment needed to create 117 million jobs in sectors such as elderly and childcare, education and health.

Governments must prioritise care as being as important as all other sectors in order to build more human economies that work for everyone, not just a fortunate few, Behar said.

Oxfam said its calculations are based on the latest data sources available, including from the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Databook 2019 and Forbes’ 2019 Billionaires List.

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