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RBI identity has been damaged: Former governor Y V Reddy



y v reddy

New Delhi, January 10: Former Reserve Bank of India Governor Y V Reddy expressed his deep concerns regarding the current state of affairs at the central bank and said that the institutional identity of the hallowed organisation has been sacrificed.

In a TV interview to the CNBC TV18, Reddy who served as RBI governor from September 2003 to 2008 said that the central bank is now only responsible for the monetary policy while it was a strong portfolio earlier.

“Now, there is a committee where the Cabinet secretary is the chair and the governor is a member,” he said.

Eversince Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced noteban on November 8, the U-turns and flip flops of RBI directives and Finance Ministry’s explanations thereof has put a big question on the autonomy of RBI as an institution. Indeed Governor Urjit Patel’s silence on demonetisation in the initial days of note ban made more noise than any of the central government’s Union Minister’s remark on the same.

Reddy pointed out that Modi government in May 2016 formed a search-cum-selection panel headed by Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha to select deputy governors of RBI which is “a significant infringement” on the autonomy of the central bank. Earlier, reddy said, the RBI governor was the head of the panel for selection of his deputies.

“To be very frank, my own suspicion is that the institutional identity of the RBI has been damaged. Earlier, the RBI was the monetary authority. But it was a full-service central bank. The recent emphasis is that monetary policy is the main function,” Reddy said.

Raising some of the valid questions about Governor’s responsibility and accountability Reddy said, “Then is he not accountable to regulation? Is he not accountable to currency coins? There is confusion about relative importance. That relative importance is being decided more outside than within.”

He added, “The procedure applicable for a regulator has to be different from the procedure applicable to the monetary authority. In a central bank, regulation is one function. There is some lack of clarity.”

He further said that the fall in the in the status of RBI is not a recent event, and it has come “across political affiliations.”

Talking about the rampant criticism of RBI by media, economists and credit rating agencies, he said “reputational risk” is the worst risk and this time RBI’s credibility is at risk which is the worst risk. He added all this, “happening in the international opinion…is a national problem now and it is not just a political issue.”

Drawing an interesting comparison with the Army who is liable for the security of a country, the former governor said that RBI is responsible for the financial and monetary security of a country.

“The limited point is, the role of central bank in our economy is under threat and it is a national problem which has to be addressed as a national problem,” said Reddy.

The ex RBI governor also said demonetisation would incidentally benefit in the fight against black money by unearthing banking information of people. “So, demonetisation and black money link is not direct, it is indirect and incidental analytically. There are a lot of other implications as we go along,” he said.

If I have to be analytical, conceptual, academic and not ex-governor, the way I look at it is from a practical point of view, the pain has happened, going forward to the extent possible we would quickly relieve the pain. More important is gain, how do you maximise the gain? In that sense therefore I would say this is the beginning of handling the problem of black money,” he said.

The ex-governor refused to take any names and said that black money is a result of two most important factors– one being the administration and the other is the people. “Unless both are in some ways colluding it won’t happen.”

Wefornews Bureau


Political realities to weigh on economic decisions: Assocham




New Delhi, Dec 17: While the new GST regime has not gone down well with traders and with major states going to the polls in 2018, India Inc needs to factor in the political realities weighing on economic decisions of the government, industry chamber Assocham said on Sunday.

A day ahead of the results of the Gujarat elections, an Assocham release said that corporate India’s expectations on tough reforms, like on labour laws, “should be muted” since these may not go well with the public at a time when elections are due in many states.

“Any tough reforms, like flexibilities in labour laws, may not go well with popular sentiment and thus India Inc’s expectations on this front should be muted”, the industry chamber said in a note based on its internal assessment.

“In the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, states including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Karnataka are due for polls in 2018. Inevitably, it would be the popular voters’ sentiment that would be factored by the Centre and state governments in their policies,” it said.

Assocham, however, also said that an important fallout of the current politico-economic environment is that the Goods and Services Tax is expected to be further streamlined and rates further rationalised on the lower side.

“The GST had not gone well with the traders, the major political force for the political parties and the issue remained in focus during Gujarat elections. Besides, the SMEs (small and medium enterprises) would also get a boost, starting from the Budget proposals.

“Their role in creating employment in a shorter span of time is being recognised and job creation would remain a big concern for the government (ahead of) the 2019 general elections,” it added.

The industry body said among the factors to be particularly watched is inflation, which would now be the top priority for the government.

“In the trade off, growth may not get as important a place as inflation and, thus, the interest rate scenario looks to be on the upside, rather than downward.

“Monsoons in 2018 would also be a crucial variable for the rural demand while the credit growth is still some time away, as banks and companies keep repairing their balance sheets,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, admitting that the return compliance burden was a legitimate issue being examined by the GST Council, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said earlier that “federal institutions” had successfully managed to rationalise the rates for many items “in three to four months”.

Earlier this month, in its penultimate bi-monthly monetary policy review of the fiscal, the Reserve Bank of India maintained status quo on its key lending rate at 6 per cent for the third time time in a row, citing concerns over the rising trajectory of inflation.


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UIDAI temporarily suspends Airtel, Airtel Payments Bank’s ‘Aadhaar linked e-KYC’ services



Airtel (Representative image)

New Delhi, Dec 16: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has temporarily suspended telecom major Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payment Bank’s “Aadhaar linked e-KYC” services, a company statement said on Saturday.

“We can confirm that we have received interim order from the UIDAI regarding temporary suspension of Aadhaar linked e-KYC services till their satisfaction on certain processes relating to Airtel Payment Bank’s onboarding of customers,” the company said in a statement.

“We are engaging with the authority and are hopeful of an early resolution. We are also undertaking to complete the said actions on priority and have commenced thorough checks of our process flows. Being compliant to all guidelines is paramount to us.”

The “Aadhaar linked e-KYC” service of UIDAI provides an instant, electronic, non-repudiable proof of identity and proof of address along with date of birth and gender, resident’s mobile number and email address to the service provider.

Aadhaar authentication and e-KYC services are available to different sectors and government organisations under a license.

Bharti Airtel uses the Aadhaar data base for the purposes of mobile services KYC under a license agreement, while Airtel Payments Bank which is a separate entity is an authorised KYC User Agency (KUA) and Authentication User Agency (AUA) of UIDAI.


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India witnessed infusion of AI across industries



Artificial Intelligence

New Delhi, Dec 15: When it comes to disruptive technologies that will drive businesses in the coming years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is touted as the most promising and Indian enterprises across the spectrum began embracing it to enhance real-time user experiences.

Picking up the pace globally, AI gradually cemented its position as the technology is quite transverse and perceived as less gimmicky, impacting several functions to improve productivity and business results, says Thomas Husson, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester.

From flushing out fake and terror-related content to making sense of humongous data for self-driving cars, from helping identify when someone might be expressing thoughts of suicide on Facebook to empower NASA explore space communications, AI-based tools gained a definite momentum.

Microsoft pledged $50 million over the next five years to put AI technology in the hands of those who are working to mitigate climate change.

When it comes to India, AI started playing a significant role in not just developing smart devices but in improving engagement with end-consumers — be it government or corporates.

Aiming to reduce the possibilities of signals failing, Indian Railways introduced remote control monitoring of its system to predict failures through the effective use of AI.

The national transporter is using non-intrusive sensors for continuous online monitoring of signals, track circuits, axle counters and their sub-systems of interlocking, power supply systems including the voltage and current levels, relays and timers etc.

The system entails the collection of inputs on a pre-determined interval and sends this to a central location for data analysis.

Several financial institutions in India started adopting AI in automating their operational processes. AI is now helping banks build chatbots that are interacting with customers and gaining valuable data.

Since its launch in March, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based chatbot ‘Eva’ — built for HDFC Bank by Bengaluru-based Senseforth AI Research — has interacted with over 530,000 unique users holding 1.2 million conversations and addressing their 2.7 million queries with ease.

Leading AI banking platform Payjo launched a chat assistant called SIA for the State Bank of India (SBI) that addresses customer enquiries instantly and helps them with everyday banking tasks just like a bank representative. SIA is able to handle nearly 10,000 enquiries per second or 864 million in a day.

Watch-maker Titan also launched a chatbot to engage better with millennials on its e-commerce store.

According to a Genpact study, 88 per cent of senior executives at companies that are leaders in AI expect the technology will drive better customer experiences within three years.

“Indian businesses today are actively looking to AI and machine learning algorithms in a bid to smooth processes and make well-informed decisions. Businesses are harnessing AI to gain a competitive advantage and increase profitability in a global economy,” Makarand Joshi, Area Vice President and Country Head, India Subcontinent, Citrix, told IANS.

To explore the possibilities of putting AI into driving domestic economic transformation, the Commerce Ministry in August formed a 18-member task force that will explore possibilities to leverage AI for development across various fields.

Amid the thrust over AI, the country also realised the need to skill its workforce for the evolving technology trends.

Sensing the urgent need to train youth in the emerging field of AI, Intel India this year collaborated with 40 academic institutions, that are using the technology for scientific research, and 50 public and private organisations across e-commerce, healthcare, technology, defence and banking and financial services sectors.

Having trained more than 9,500 developers, students and professors across 90 organisations this year, the initiative is reducing AI entry barriers for developers, data scientists and students.

“AI capabilities are greatly supplementing humans to do great work in less time in sectors like healthcare, banking and finance, transport, energy and robotics, etc. It will be interesting to see how this whole AI thing evolves with time,” Bob Rogers, Data Scientist, AI and Analytics, Data Center Group at Intel, told IANS.

Google has also come upfront and, along with technology learning platform Pluralsight and educational institution Udacity, announced a new scholarship programme that will help train 1.3 lakh developers and students across the country.

The scholarship would enable students gain access to advanced learning curriculum and further their employability in AI and other emerging technologies.

The growth of AI start-ups in the country is also driving the adoption not only for big companies but also for small and medium enterprises (SMBs).

“Technology like AI can not only play a big role in the supply-demand mismatch in India but empower rural people where health and education facilities are scarce. In order to do that, everyone needs to be connected first,” stressed Chandrakant Patel, Chief Engineer at HP Inc.

2017: Highlights

* Facebook, Twitter deployed AI to flush out fake and terror-related content on their platforms

* AI helped car makers focus on developing efficient autonomous vehicles

* AI helped Indian banks build chatbots

* Indian Commerce Ministry formed 18-member task force to leverage AI for development across fields

* Intel India collaborated with 40 academic institutions to train developers, students and professors in AI

* Google India announced a new scholarship programme to help train 1.3 lakh developers and students in AI technology


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