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News in Brief

  India receives first GE locomotive under $2.5 billion deal

General Electric's first diesel-electric locomotives have arrived in India, and this officially kicks off the US conglomerate's $2.5 billion plan to supply 1,000 such engines. "It is the first of 40 locomotives that has been imported to India from the US. The remaining 960 will be built at GE's Brilliant Factory, which is being constructed at Marhowra in Bihar, and will open in 2018," GE said in a statement.

The railways are debating the need to purchase diesel-powered locomotives as the plan is to turn to electric power to haul trains, but last month, GE had cautioned the Indian government of substantial cost that it would incur, besides hurting the future investment in the country, if it made changes to the joint venture it signed with the company in 2015.

India forms international Oil & Gas think-tank to advice on issues

In a bid to accelerate its policy reforms in the key focus areas of the oil and gas sector, the government has formed an International Oil and Gas think-tank which will advice the government on issues related to pricing, gas infrastructure, better financial models for exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons and reducing import dependency.

Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan chaired the first meeting of the think-tank yesterday and announced that Daniel Yergin, Vice-chairman of IHS will also be a part of the group. "We have formed an international think-tank which will be advisory in nature and will provide guidance in creating a better gas infrastructure, bringing in the latest technology, financial models for oil and gas, creation of a gas exchange platform, attracting investments and reducing import dependency," Pradhan said at an industry event.

Dairy Milk maker Mondelez India goes for direct online sales for chocolates

Mondelez India, has announced entry into direct online sales for its range of products as part of efforts to tap into the gifting segment.

The website -- www.cadburygifting.in -- is an additional channel for consumers to directly connect with the brand. The new site will allow the company, part of Mondelez International, to build an opportunity in the corporate gifting segment, especially during festive gifting, Mondelez India said in a statement.

Mondelez India e-commerce Lead Abhishek Ahluwalia said: "We have identified a massive opportunity in the corporate gifting space that we aim to leverage through this platform." The company will provide free shipping for any bulk order above ` 299.

ISRO eyes to shrug off setback with Cartosat launch in December

The Indian Space Research Organisation plans to launch a satellite on board Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in December, the first since its unsuccessful mission to orbit a navigation spacecraft nearly one-and-a-half months ago.

The ISRO is getting ready for the Cartosat-2 series satellite mission in mid-December from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre or Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR), an official of the space agency told. This would be the third satellite in the Cartosat-2 series. In February this year, PSLV-C37 launched the first Cartosat-2 series satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites in a single flight.

TV in 2020: 50% of viewing will be mobile

TV and video viewership habits are changing. Linear, or traditional TV, and video on demand (VOD) viewing will be almost equal in just three years. According to Ericsson Consumer Lab research, half of all TV/video content will be watched on a mobile screen, with half of this on a smartphone screen alone.

50% of all TV and video viewing will take place on a mobile screen (tablets, smartphones and laptops) in three years, an increase of 85% since 2010, with the smartphone alone accounting for almost one quarter (an increase of nearly 160% since 2010) 30 hrs/ week is the time spent watching TV and video content, which is an all-time high. This includes linear TV, live and on-demand internet services, downloaded and recorded content, as well as DVD and Blu-ray.

Tata Sons may soon shut down Tata Teleservices

The Tata Group informed the government that it plans to shut its wireless business, bringing an end to its 21-year-old phone services venture. Tata Teleservices is the telecom unit of the Tata Group. This will be one of the first big Tata units to be shut in the groups 149-year-old history. Tata Teleservices, which was set up in 1996 with landline operations, has had a checkered history.

It launched CDMA operations in 2002, then adopted GSM in 2008 and received ` 14,000 crore of investment from NTT Docomo, which eventually decided to exit the joint venture in 2014.

Despite duty cut, Centres oil revenue set to rise 13%

The Centre will rake in `2.73 lakh crore from petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL), the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has estimated. And, this is despite the cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel.

The reduction will cost the exchequer around `13,000 crore during the second half of the financial year but the estimated collections will still be 2.75 times higher than the collections in 2014-15, the first year of NDA rule. Compared to the last financial year, when the Centre collected `2.42 lakh, crore the increase will be of the order of 13%.

No PAN card required for jewellery purchase of over Rs 50,000

Any kind of jewellery purchases whose worth is over `50,000 will not require the income tax permanent account number (PAN) to be provided after the government has reversed an earlier notification, providing a big festive cheer for the sector and potential customers.

Jewellers will also not be required to inform authorities on purchases from their stores of over `50,000 after the government cancelled a notification issued on August 23.

Tencent invests $400 million in Ola for 9.57% stake

Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent has invested $400 million in ride-hailing major Ola in a deal, which will help to take the total capital mobilised by the Bengaluru-based company in the last 12 months to $800 million. Singapore-based Copper Technology Pte Ltd will take a 9.57% stake in Ola, according to filings with the Registrar of Companies.

Copper Technology is an entity owned by Tencent. Olas parent company ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd has issued shares to Copper Technology for `13,521 a piece.

Borosil opens worlds first 2 mm tempered solar glass facility

Gujarat Borosil Ltd has inaugurated worlds first 2mm tempered glass production process at its Bharuch facility. The 2 mm solar glass is not only lighter than the current world standard of 3.2 mm, but also absorbs less solar energy while allowing higher irradiance to reach the solar cell. This will help in harnessing the solar energy more efficiently than done ever before, the company said. In 2014, Borosil eliminated the deadly poison antimony from its batch, making it the worlds first and only toxin-free solar glass.

Hiring in banking sector surges 21%

Hiring activity in the banking and financial services sector witnessed a 21% growth during September this year compared to the same period last year, according to a report by job portal Naukri.com.

Even as the job market in the country remains volatile, Naukri Jobspeak Report, a monthly analysis of job listings on the portal, shows the overall job market has seen a 3% cent growth in September, compared to the same period last year.

Job market continues to be volatile. The Jobspeak index for September has shown a 3% year-on-year growth driven by growth in sectors like banking, financial services, insurance, industrial products and auto and engineering, said Chief Sales Officer of Naukri.com V. Suresh in a statement.

The uncertainty in the job market is likely to continue for a few more months, he added.

More companies use Aadhaar to verify new hires

Employers are beginning to use Aadhaar to verify their potential employees, a move that could see the weeklong verification process reducing to less than 15 minutes, and hiring costs falling dramatically.

It is also helping make the process paperless no need to provide documents that show, say, the proof of residence. One of the countrys largest private sector employers, contract staffing firm Quess, has onboarded more than 30,000 employees blue collar and white collar using Aadhaar verification over the past four months. Quess employs 2.1 lakh people, and supplies them to companies that need them.

Cabinet approves mega `7-lakh crore project to develop 83,000 km highway

In a bid to create increased employment opportunities, the Union Cabinet has approved the mega highway plan to develop about 83,000 km of roads at an investment of `6.9 lakh crore in the coming 5 years.

As part of countrys biggest highway development plan, government also approved the Phase 1 of Bharatmala project to develop and expand approximately 40,000 km of roads at an investment of `3.5 lakh crore by 2022. This is a big step in boosting the condition of highways in India.

Over 400 industries reduced CO2 emission by 2%

Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has said that over 400 industries monitored by it have reduced their CO2 emissions by 31 million tonnes (MT), which is about 2% of annual CO2 emissions, between 2012-15.

Over 400 industries reduced their emissions by 31 million tonnes of CO2, approximately 2% of annual CO2 emissions, during the first implementation cycle of Perform, Achieve & Trade Scheme (PAT) by BEE between 2012 and 2015, a BEE statement said. According to the statement, the first cycle of PAT (2012 -15) covered 478 Designated industries (DCs) from 8 energy-intensive sectors aluminium, cement, chlor-alkali, fertiliser, iron and steel, pulp and paper, textiles and thermal power plant. Together, these sectors account for about 33% of Indias primary energy consumption.

Days of slow Internet might soon come to an end in India

The government has kick-started the process of giving a boost to the minimum mandated internet speed from the existing 512 kbps to at least 2 mbps and more. This might bring to an end days of low internet speed on mobile and broadband networks in India.

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the government was mindful of slow internet speed experienced by internet users in many parts of the country.

Internet speeds are nowhere close to the numbers promised by companies in 3G and 4G data packs and advertisements. And, the issue is critical as India prepares for rollout of 5G services as well as a host of other applications focused around internet-of-things (IoT).

The telecom secretary said India required faster speeds in the wake of gradual transformation of the country into a digital economy . These include initiatives such as smart cities, digital India programmes, efforts on digital payments, and 5G.