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The Qatar experience and lessons for India

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Qatar

The world is changing. Sport is a strong vehicle of change. And one of the best examples of this phenomenon is Qatar, which is on the fast track of modernisation and transformation ever since it clinched the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This is the first time that a mega sporting event of this proportion is being hosted in this part of the world.

Qatar has been at it for a long time. Finally, its protracted struggle bore fruit. Any sportsperson would vouch for this; nothing succeeds like success. Qatar has suddenly catapulted itself in the world of sports as a shining star. All the reservations like the regressive labour laws, poor human rights record, curbs on free speech and lack of integrated sports culture — all of these factors, individually and collectively — were sufficient to defeat Qatar’s claim to host the World Cup.

There’s also a raging controversy about how Qatar secured the bid. But Qatar won the bid in spite of all these hurdles. That Qatar won the bid, in my view, is simply historic.

The whole country is in a transformation mode, like a snake that sheds its old skin and emerges with a new one. I was in Qatar earlier this year and the change — and the pace of that change — is both bewildering and inspiring.

It’s estimated that more than $250 billion will be spent to prepare for the World Cup. New stadia and arenas are coming up, civic infrastructure is being upgraded manifold; hotels, railways, airports and freeways are fast transforming the country. One cannot escape the feeling that these changes are symbolic of the ambitions of a small country to make it big in the comity of nations.

Development and social justice via sports is the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well. India has much to learn from the Qatar experience. Just to give you an idea, there will be seven host cities — Al-Daayen, Al-Khor, Al-Rayyan, Al-Shamal, Al-Wakrah, Doha and Umm Slal — where 12 new state-of-art stadia will come up with capacities of at least 43,000 each. And the unique aspect is that part of these stadia could be dismantled after the event and transported to other less-developed countries to help set up the infrastructure for sports and encourage people at large to play.

Qatar, while creating a real estate marvel, will remain conscious of environmental consequences. Most of the sporting infrastructure being built is zero-carbon emitting and climate controlled.

Qatar’s success is not confined to just winning the bid to host the World Cup, but its commitment to modernising and upgrading its economy. An event of this magnitude is not just about creating the necessary sporting infrastructure in a stipulated time frame, but the emphasis is also on developing and internalising an enduring sporting culture in the two-and-a-half-million Qataris. To be able to do that, Qatar is already hosting almost 100 events every year in various sporting disciplines. The World Cup is not the end, but a means to an end.

Last month, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Chief Executive Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida, speaking in London, elucidated the National Vision 2030 where the investment in sports would be an integral part of a multi-faceted strategy to ensure that economic development is diverse and sustainable. There have been wide-ranging labour reforms to make Qatar an enviable destination for foreign investment. There’s a move to end the Kafala system that falls foul of international labour laws by binding an employee to an employer in an almost “slave-like” manner. The Qatari government has also expressed its willingness to introduce a law on minimum wages.

Under the young and dynamic leadership of Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy of Qatar, sports is the catalyst in the region’s social and economic development. In a recent address to the UN, Thawadi said: “Events of this stature (the World Cup) can bring billions of people together from every corner of the world. They can serve to accelerate and inspire…in a manner and at a pace that few other initiatives can match. Sport is uniquely equipped to play a significant role in attaining these goals. We are aiming for the stars, our feet are firmly on the ground.”

India should not just be committed to ensuring “ease of doing business” in the country, but also “ease of all segments of society to play”. Qatar’s experience has an encouraging message for India.

(Siddhartha Upadhyay is member of the Governing Body of the Sports Authority of India and Founder of STAIRS, an organisation dedicated to the uplift of sports. The views expressed at personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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Weak rupee, credit crisis worries drag equity market down 3% over week

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SENSEX NIFTY MARKET

Mumbai, Sep 22 : Persistent depreciation in the Indian rupee and high crude oil prices coupled with concerns over credit crisis dragged the key equity indices three per cent lower on a weekly basis during September 17-21.

The week started on a negative note, both in the domestic and global markets, primarily owing to the US announcement of fresh tariffs on Chinese imports.

This was the third consecutive week that saw fall in the Indian equity market.

The stock exchanges were, however, closed on September 20 on account of Muharram.

A major slump hit the market on Friday afternoon, with the S&P BSE Sensex losing over 1,100 points, only to partially recover from the lows minutes later. Analysts described it as a panic sell-off across the board, specifically in the banking and finance space, as there were concerns over credit risk.

“Firesale of financial units by IL&FS for repaying its CPs (commercial papers) added fuel to fire,” said Mustafa Nadeem, CEO, Epic Research.

Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), which defaulted on its commercial paper obligation earlier this year, missed payments again on Friday. This increased concerns of a credit crisis among the investors.

On a weekly basis, the Sensex closed at 36,841.60 points, lower 1,249.04 points or 3.28 per cent from its previous close.

Similarly, the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange on Friday closed at 11,143.10 points, down 372.1 points or 3.23 per cent from the previous week’s close.

“Indian markets remained in bear grip right from the beginning of the week, largely weighed down by a weakening rupee, escalation in trade war and rise in crude oil prices,” said Prateek Jain, Director of Hem Securities.

He added that investor’s sentiments were further weakened by the announcement of merger of three public sector banks — Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank.

“On Friday, towards the fag-end of the week, traders and investors witnessed a highly catastrophic market driven by a sharpfall in the NBFC sector,” Jain said.

In terms of investments, provisional figures from the stock exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold scrips worth Rs 2,674.12 crore, while the domestic institutional investors bought Rs 1,782.63-crore stocks in the truncated week.

According to National Securities Depository (NSDL) figures, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) divested Rs 2,231.37 crore, or $306.04 million, in the equities segment during the week ended September 21.

On the currency front, the Indian rupee closed at 72.20 a US dollar on Friday recovering 35 paise from the previous week’s close of 71.85.

On Tuesday, it touched an all-time low of 72.91 per greenback.

The top sectoral gainer was oil and gas, while the major losers were realty, infrastructure and finance counters, said Deepak Jasani, Head of Retail Research at HDFC Securities.

The top weekly Sensex gainers were ONGC (up 6.88 per cent at Rs 180.10); Power Grid (up 3.62 per cent at Rs 200.20); Tata Steel (up 3.15 per cent at Rs 624.55); Tata Consultancy Services (up 2.94 per cent at Rs 2,103.80); and Vedanta (up 2.66 per cent at Rs 229.70 per share).

The major losers were Yes Bank (down 27.79 per cent at Rs 227.05); Tata Motors (DVR) (down 7.44 per cent at Rs 131.85); Axis Bank (down 5.69 per cent at Rs 599.40); Maruti Suzuki (down 5.44 per cent at Rs 8,039.55); and State Bank of India (down 5.39 per cent at Rs 270.05 per share).

(Ravi Dutta Mishra can be contacted at [email protected])

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Petrol costs Rs 82.44/litre in Delhi, Rs 89.80 in Mumbai

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Petrol Price

Sep 22 : Fuel prices climbed to fresh highs across the metros cities on Saturday as in Mumbai, where the fuel cost is highest due to the highest VAT, petrol prices inched up to the psychological Rs 90 a litre-mark and sold at Rs 89.80 per litre.

In the national capital, petrol was sold at Rs 82.44 per litre, up from Rs 82.32 per litre on Friday, data on the Indian Oil Corp’s website showed.

As per rates released daily by state-run Indian Oil Corp, the depreciating rupee and expensive crude oil further pushed petrol and diesel to new record highs on Monday.

Fuel prices in the country have been rising almost daily since August 1. They fell only once on August 13 and have been on record levels for over two weeks now.

Sector experts say a weak rupee and high excise duty are major factors for the rise in fuel prices.

Inflationary risks along with broadly negative global cues depressed the Indian rupee to a new low of 72.91 against the US dollar.

Also, high global crude oil cost has become a major concern for the country, which imports over 80 per cent of its oil requirements. The UK Brent crude oil price hovers around $78 per barrel.

Since the start of the calendar year, the petrol price in Delhi has gone up by over 15 per cent from Rs 69.97 on January 1, 2018. The hike in diesel price has been even more steep. It has gone up by more than 22 per cent since January 1 when it cost Rs 59.70.

Last week, the West Bengal government reduced the excise on petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre each.

The Karnataka government announced on Monday that petrol and diesel will be cheaper by Rs 2 per litre each across the state from Tuesday following the reduction in cess on these fuels.

As per the country’s pricing mechanism, the domestic fuel prices depend upon the international fuel prices on a 15-day average and the value of the rupee.

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Sensex swings 1,500 points, closes 280 points lower

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Sensex equity Nifty

Mumbai, Sep 21: High volatility, following a likely credit crisis in the infrastructure lending and development sector, dragged the market in the red, with the S&P BSE Sensex swinging in around 1,500-point range on Friday.

A plunge of over 1,100 points was witnessed on the BSE Sensex around 1 p.m, only to recover from the day’s low within few minutes. Similarly, the NSE Nifty50 also recovered after dropping below the 11,000-mark.

The sudden sell-off took place across the board with banking and financial stocks losing the most.

At 3.30 p.m, the wider NSE Nifty50 provisionally closed at 11,143.10 points, lower 91.25 points or 0.81 per cent from the previous close of 11,234.35 points.

The BSE Sensex, which had opened at 37,278.89 points, provisionally closed at 36,841.60 points, lower 279.62 points or 0.75 per cent from the previous close of 37,121.22 points.

The Sensex touched an intra-day high of 37,489.24 points and a low of 35,993.64 points.

The fourth consecutive session’s slide was triggered also by other factors, including lower possibility of the Reserve Bank of India cutting its key lending rates, analysts said.

IANS

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