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WhatsApp to appoint India head by year-end

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New Delhi: Under pressure to curb sinister and fake messages, WhatsApp said it will appoint head of India operations by the year-end.

“Our new Head of WhatsApp India, who will be named by the end of the year, will build a local team that can serve our customers in India as well as work with partners and government leaders to help keep people safe,” WhatsApp spokesperson said in an email statement.

WhatsApp Vice President Chris Daniels on Wednesday met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to discuss the issue of fake messages, that have in the past triggered mob killings.

“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with government leaders, including Minister Prasad who confirmed his support for encryption and the privacy of our users,” the spokesperson said.

WhatsApp is “deeply committed” to serving the people of India and working closely with civil society and government leaders to help address abuse on the platform, the spokesperson added.

The government has stood firm in its stance on traceability, and made it clear that it is not seeking decryption of messages on WhatsApp but rather wants the location and identification of senders of misinformation that provokes violence and heinous offences.

Also while the platform has appointed a grievance officer for India, the government has asked that the officer be stationed in India.


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RBI Guv met PM Modi on Nov 9 to sort out differences with Centre: report

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New Delhi: RBI Governor Urjit Patel is believed to have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week in a bid to work out a solution on contentious issues that have been flash point between the central bank and the government during the last few weeks.

Sources said Patel was in the national capital and met senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The meetings, which some said also included with the Prime Minister, came amid a face-off between the central bank and the finance ministry over issues ranging from appropriate size of reserves that RBI (Reserve bank of India) must maintain to ease of lending norms to step up growth in an election year.

Sources said there are indications that the RBI may create a special dispensation for lending to small and medium enterprises, but it was not immediately clear if an agreement has been worked out to ease liquidity situation for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and the RBI parting with its substantial part of its surplus.

Tensions between the RBI and the government have escalated recently, with the Finance Ministry initiating discussion under the never-used-before Section 7 of the RBI Act which empowers the government to issue directions to the RBI Governor.

RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya had in a speech last month talked about the independence of the central bank, arguing that any compromise could be “potentially catastrophic” for the economy.

Last week, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg had said the government was not in any dire need of funds and that there was no proposal to ask the RBI to transfer Rs 3.6 lakh crore.

He further said the only proposal “under discussion is to fix appropriate economic capital framework of RBI”.

Economic capital framework refers to the risk capital required by the central bank while taking into account different risks.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has a massive Rs 9.59 lakh crore reserves.

Patel’s meetings at the PMO came days before the RBI’s crucial board meeting on November 19 during which contentious issues are likely to come up for discussion.

Sources said the government nominee directors and a few independent directors could raise the issue of interim dividend along with the capital framework of RBI.

However, any change in the central bank’s economic capital framework can be carried out only after making amendments to the RBI Act, 1934.

Other issues which could be raised include alignment of capital adequacy norms with those in advanced countries and some relaxation in the Prompt Corrective Action framework, sources said, adding more measures to enhance lending to MSMEs and NBFCs may also be discussed.

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India soon to have banking point within reach of 5 Kms of every citizen: Jaitley

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New Delhi: India will soon have banking point within the reach of 5 kms of every citizen, Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley has said.

Speaking at the 100th Foundation Day programme of Union Bank of India, in Mumbai, he said, “Perivate banks rely on retail banking to grow but nationalised banks have to focus on industry and infrastructure. Keeping in mind the goal of financial inclusion, the Department of Financial Services will have a banking point within 5 km of every citizen”.

The FM observed that during the period of 2014 – 2018, the population who had access to banking services rose from 58 percent to almost 100 percent. The banking sector has helped weaker sections with low cost insurance.

In order to reduce corruption, it is necessary to reduce interfaces and customers need not have to visit banks for anything. The recent scheme of loan approvals in 59 minutes for MSMEs, launched by PM Modi is a step in that direction, Jaitley added.

Jaitley further said that despite higher oil prices and periodic slowdowns, the Indian Economy has clocked good growth rate. NPAs of banks needs to be curbed as healthy banks are necessary for growth of economy.

The problem of NPAs which arose due to indiscriminate lending was concealed for a long time, but government adopted a multi-pronged approach and government will ensure that dishonest decisions and not erroneous ones are punished, he said.

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Inflation slips to 1-year low, industry grows 4.5 per cent

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New Delhi: Retail inflation has fallen to one-year low of 3.31 per cent in October giving enough leg room to the RBI to push sagging industrial growth by keeping interest rates stable.

According to Central Statistics Office (CSO) data, the country industrial production in Septem-ber grew at the slowest pace in the last four months at 4.5 per cent, due to poor performance of mining sector and lower offtake of capital goods.

This was a tad lower than an upwardly revised 4.7 per cent year-on-year increase in August.

The industrial production measured in terms of Index of Industrial Prod-uction (IIP) was 4.1 per cent in September 2017. The IIP was recorded at 6.9 per cent and 6.5 per cent in June and July this year, respectively. The previous low was recorded at 3.8 per cent in May this year

As there were expectations of RBI raising interest rates in strengthening US dollar, a lower inflation came as a welcome relief. Inflation and foreign investors have inverse relationship as a low inflation and high economic growth would result in a higher inflation-adjusted real return to them.

The inflation-based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 3.7 per cent in September 2018 and 3.58 per cent in October 2017. The retail inflation number is the lowest since September 2017 when it touched 3.28 per cent.

The rate of price rise in the food basket contracted by 0.86 per cent in October compared to 0.51 per cent rise in September, according to the Central Statistics Office data.

Vegetable prices declined by 8.06 per cent in October against a 4.15 per cent contraction in September. Inflation also slowed to 0.35 per cent in the fruit basket as against 1.12 per cent recorded a month ago.

The retail inflation also cooled in protein-rich items like cereals, eggs, milk and related products. However, inflation quickened to 8.55 per cent for the ‘fuel and light’ category against 8.47 per cent in the previous month.

Despite a slowdown in headline industrial growth number, 17 out of 23 industry groups in manufacturing sector have shown positive growth during September 2018 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

The mining sector output growth decelerated to 0.2 per cent in September as against 7.6 per cent in the year-ago month. Similarly, capital goods output growth slowed to 5.8 per cent in the month under review from 8.7 per cent a year ago. However, the data showed that the manufacturing sector recorded a growth of 4.6 per cent in September, up from 3.8 per cent a year ago.

The electricity generation too improved to 8.2 per cent in the month from 3.4 per cent in September 2017. For April-September 2018, the IIP growth came in at 5.1 per cent. The factory output rise was 2.6 per cent in same period of the last fiscal.

As per use-based classification, the growth rates in September 2018 over September 2017 are 2.6 per cent in primary goods, 1.4 per cent in intermediate goods and 9.5 per cent in infrastructure/construction goods. The consumer durables and consumer non-durables have recorded growth of 5.2 per cent and 6.1 per cent, respectively.

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