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India needs to sustain reforms to stem economic slowdown : World Bank

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WASHINGTON, April 17, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on April 17, 2020 shows the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C., the United States. The World Bank Group (WBG) is expected to launch health emergency programs in over 100 countries by the end of April to support the fight against COVID-19, with 64 already in operation, President David Malpass said Friday. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/IANS)
WASHINGTON, April 17, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on April 17, 2020 shows the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C., the United States. The World Bank Group (WBG) is expected to launch health emergency programs in over 100 countries by the end of April to support the fight against COVID-19, with 64 already in operation, President David Malpass said Friday. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/IANS)

Faced with an unprecedented downturn, India needs to continue with critical reforms to reverse the sudden and steep impacts of Covid-19 pandemic on its economy, said the World Bank in its twice-a-year-regional update.

The latest South Asia Economic Focus relaxed on Thursday forecasts a sharper than expected economic slump across the region, with regional growth expected to contract by 7.7 per cent in 2020, after topping 6 per cent annually in the past five years.

India’s economy, the region’s largest, is expected to contract by 9.6 per cent in the fiscal year that started in March 2020. The country’s growth is projected to rebound to 5.4 per cent in FY22, mostly reflecting base effects, assuming Covid-related restrictions are completely lifted by 2022. Weak activity, domestically and abroad, is also likely to depress both Indian imports and exports.

“The response of the government of India to the Covid-19 outbreak was swift and comprehensive. The government implemented a national lockdown to contain the health emergency. This was followed by a comprehensive policy package to mitigate the impact on the poorest through various social protection measures as well as liquidity and financial support for small and medium enterprises.

The World Bank is partnering with the government to strengthen policies, institutions, and investments for building back better,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region

Three-quarters of all workers in South Asia depend on informal employment. While the poor have faced rising food prices, the Covid-19 crisis has also affected informal workers in the middle of the income distribution who experienced sharp drops in earnings.

Informal workers are not generally covered by social insurance and few have savings or access to finance. Recognizing these challenges, India is reworking its social protection architecture to protect its workers, particularly informal sector workers, hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Government is creating a safety net platform that caters to the diverse needs of both rural and urban population, is portable and ensures food, social insurance and cash support across state boundaries, the regional update of WB said.

“India is undertaking far-reaching reforms in its safety nets programme. This will help the country to preserve its hard-won gains against poverty as nearly half of all households are vulnerable and the majority of the workforce lacks formal social security benefits. We are also encouraged by the recent amendments to India’s social security laws that will help provide coverage to groups of people who were earlier left out from government-assisted programs,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.

The pandemic has also brought to the forefront new economic opportunities where digital technologies can play an essential role, providing new growth levers for South Asian countries, including India.

“Covid-19 will profoundly transform South Asia for years to come and leave lasting scars in its economies. But there is a silver lining toward resilient recovery: the pandemic could spur innovations that improve South Asia’s future participation in global value chains, as its comparative advantage in tech services and niche tourism will likely be in higher demand as the global economy becomes more digital,” said Hans Timmer, World Bank Chief Economist for the South Asia Region.

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CMS launches AI-automated ATM security software ‘Algo’

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SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)
SBI ATM. (File Photo IANS)

Mumbai, Oct 14 (IANS) CMS Info Systems (CMS) has announced the launch of fully automated, Artificial Intelligence-powered ATM security software application ‘Algo’.

CMS Algo is an end-to-end security encrypted a fool-proof solution to prevent ATM frauds at the time of cash replenishment or maintenance, the company said in a statement.

The application is machine-agnostic and can operate on any ATM manufactured by any OEM.

Rajiv Kaul, Executive Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Whole-time Director of CMS Info Systems, said: “This application can run on any ATM across the world and helps in fraud prevention. The solution is cost-effective in the back-end and low cost in the front-end.”

“The biggest saving is the reduction of fraud, no requirement of a call centre, and restricted access to data and premises,” he said.

He noted that the company has deployed Algo on 52,000 ATMs in India.

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CCI okays Tube Investments’ stake buy in CG Power

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Competition Commission of India
Competition Commission of India

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of shares in CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd by Tube Investments of India Ltd.

The proposed combination envisages acquisition of more than 50 per cent of the equity share capital of CG Power and Industrial Solutions Ltd (CG Power) by Tube Investments of India Ltd (TIIL).

TIIL is a listed entity and is part of Murugappa group. It has three business verticals including engineering, metal formed products and bicycles. It is engaged in the manufacture of a wide range of products for automotive, railway, construction, mining and agriculture industries.

Also a listed entity, CG Power has two major business units — power systems and industrial systems.

The power systems business unit focuses on power transmission, distribution, power solutions, setting up of integrated power systems among others.

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Uber hires Amazon veteran to lead mobility teams in Bengaluru

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Manikandan Thangarathnam
Manikandan Thangarathnam

Uber on Thursday announced it hired Amazon veteran Manikandan Thangarathnam as senior director to lead all rider and platform engineering teams in Bengaluru.

Uber said it is also hiring 85 more engineers in the country. This is in addition to hiring 140 engineers the ride-hailing service announced last month.

“As the world steps into a new normal, adaptability is going to be a key aspect to usher in growth. I look forward to leading the bright minds at Uber and innovating together for the world, one ride at a time,” said Mani.

At Amazon, Mani helped build several core platforms and products.

He led engineering efforts for the Amazon Appstore and was instrumental in bootstrapping the tech major’s Chennai office and building a vast team of engineers.

The Rider mobility team works on the challenge of enabling the next billion trips by building new services including high capacity vehicles (Uber bus), and car rentals, among others.

The company said the Marketplace team is building a highly-available and scalable self-serve gateway to configure, manage, and monitor Application Programming Interfaces (API) of every business domain at Uber.

Uber recently hired another Amazon veteran Jayaram Valliyur as senior director to lead its global finance technology team, spread across multiple geographies.

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OnePlus investing Rs 100 crore to boost retail footprint in India

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OnePlus to launch 2 Nord smartphones on Oct 26
OnePlus to launch 2 Nord smartphones on Oct 26

Smartphone maker OnePlus is committed to invest Rs 100 crore towards deeper market penetration by taking premium offline experience beyond metro cities and expanding its reach through new online and offline retail partnerships, a top company executive said on Thursday.

With over 5,000 offline stores including partnered stores across the country, the smartphone maker is planning to scale up to more than 8,000 stores in the coming quarters, Navnit Nakra, VP and Chief Strategy OnePlus India told IANS.

“At present, we have over 30 OnePlus experience stores across India and will be opening 14 new experience stores in the next six months.

“We’ll launch our biggest experience store globally, the OnePlus Nizam Palace in Hyderabad later this year. We are also working towards covering 100 cities through our service centre network in the next year,” Nakra informed.

The smartphone maker launched its India R&D centre in 2019 and is committed to achieve long-term growth in the country.

Currently, the company has 300 employees in the R&D team and hope to double that number in the coming months.

Nakra said that India continues to be a key market for OnePlus since the brand’s entry in 2014.

“We began our commitment to Make in India initiative in February 2018 and since then, we have been manufacturing our devices in the country. We have also commenced the manufacturing of the OnePlus TVs and OnePlus Nord in India,” Nakra told IANS.

By 2021, all OnePlus TVs will be manufactured locally in India.

“On our smart TV portfolio, we commenced the manufacturing of the Y series in India and by 2021, all OnePlus TVs will also be manufactured locally including the Q and the U series,” Nakra informed.

He said that 100 per cent of OnePlus smartphones are being manufactured in India including OnePlus 8 series, OnePlus Nord and the recently launched OnePlus 8T.

OnePlus has launched its new flagship 5G smartphone the ‘OnePlus 8T’ with 120Hz Fluid AMOLED display and quad-camera set up, in India.

The OnePlus 8T will be available in two colours, aquamarine green and lunar silver at Rs 45,999 (12GB RAM+ 256GB internal storage) and Rs 42,999 (8GB RAM+128GB internal storage).

“OnePlus is consistently exploring opportunities to fuel its growth and meet the needs of more users, by starting to strategically diversify into new product categories and new price points but, at the same time, not compromising on our OnePlus promise,” Nakra told IANS.

OnePlus Nord series is also likely to get new entrants this month, according to multiple reports.

The rumoured OnePlus Nord N10 5G and OnePlus Nord N100 are said to be launching as soon as the end of October, first in the US market.

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Sensex in red amid volatility on global cues

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Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). (File Photo: IANS)
Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). (File Photo: IANS)

Amid a largely volatile trade, the key Indian equity indices traded in negative on Thursday morning.

Weakness across Asian markets and fading hopes of a further stimulus in the US, weighed down on the investor sentiments, analysts said.

At 10.25 a.m., Sensex was trading at 40,643.97, lower by 150.77 points or 0.37 per cent from its previous close of 40,794.74.

It opened at 41,048.05 and has so far touched an intra-day high of 41,048.05 and a low of 40,541.13 points.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was trading at 11,953.30, lower by 17.75 points or 0.15 per cent from the previous close.

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US stocks drop as stimulus hopes wane

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New York Stock Exchange. (File Photo: IANS)
New York Stock Exchange. (File Photo: IANS)

Wall Street’s major averages finished lower on Wednesday as investors grew concerned over the uncertain fate of a US coronavirus stimulus deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 165.81 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 28,514.00. The S&P 500 fell 23.26 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 3,488.67. The Nasdaq Composite Index sank 95.17 points, or 0.80 per cent, to 11,768.73, Xinhua news agency reported.

Eight of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors declined, with consumer discretionary down 1.43 per cent, leading the laggards. Industrials closed up 0.54 per cent, the best-performing group.

US-listed Chinese companies traded mostly lower, with six of the top 10 stocks by weight in the S&P US Listed China 50 index ending the day on a downbeat note.

Investors continued to look for clues on new stimulus. An impasse among US lawmakers in Washington has somewhat dimmed hopes that more Covid-19 relief aid would come to fruition before the election.

“We have two sides that are very far apart in terms of arriving at some form of stimulus, and I do not think it is likely we see a breakthrough before the election,” Mitch Zacks, CEO at Zacks Investment Management, said in a note on Wednesday.

Looking ahead, analysts said markets will remain sensitive to news of fiscal support in the lead-up to the election.

Meanwhile, Wall Street pored through newly-released earnings reports.

Goldman Sachs on Wednesday delivered quarterly results that well exceeded consensus estimates. Its shares rose 0.2 per cent.

Bank of America shares fell more than 5 per cent after its earnings topped expectations and overall revenue missed estimates.

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