India Granted Bailout of 1.4 Billion to Maldives

In a bid to strengthen the security ties in Indian Ocean Region, Indian Prime Minister on Monday announced a bailout of USD 1.4 billion to island nation Maldives, after having held extensive deliberations with Maldives’ President Ibrahim Solih.

The two countries also signed four pacts, including one on visa facilitation.

“We held successful talks in a cordial atmosphere. We vowed to strengthen ties,” PM Modi said in his press statement, with Solih by his side.

He also said the security interests of the two countries were intertwined and both sides will work together to further strengthen cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.

“We will not allow our countries to be used for activities which can be harmful to each other’s interests,” PM Modi asserted.

The prime minister said India is extending USD 1.4 billion as budget support, currency swap and line of credit for the social and economic development of Maldives.

“We want greater trade ties with Maldives. There are increasing opportunities for Indian companies in the island nation,” he said.

On his part, Maldives President Solih said the two sides agreed to strengthen maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean region through coordinated patrol and aerial surveillance.

President Solih arrived on Sunday on a three-day state visit, his first foreign trip after assuming the charge of the top office in the island nation a month ago.

Modi had attended Solih’s swearing-in ceremony on November 17.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on Solih and discussed bilateral and regional issues of mutual interests.

Relations between India and the Maldives deteriorated after then president Abdulla Yameen imposed emergency on February 5 this year.

India had criticised his decision and asked his government to restore the credibility of the electoral and political process by releasing political prisoners. The emergency lasted for 45 days.

No Relief for Kotak Mahindra Bank’s Promoters, Dictates High Court

Refusing to provide relief to the Kotak Mahindra Bank’s promoters who are seeking a relief in the deadline of December 31 given by RBI to bring down the promoters’ stake in the bank.

The Reserve Bank of India wants the promoters to pare their stake in the private sector lender to 20 per cent by December 31, 2018. As of September 30, the promoter group had 30.02 per cent in Kotak Mahindra Bank, of which Uday Kotak holds 29.73 per cent.

The bank had subsequently proposed to issue perpetual non-cumulative preference shares (PNCPS) that would have brought down Uday Kotak’s holding to 19.70 per cent.

However, the central bank did not clear this route as the issuance did not meet the requirements on promoter holding dilution. Last week, the bank had dragged the RBI to the high court, challenging its August decision to set the December deadline.

At the hearing on Monday, the bank’s counsel Darius Khambata argued the issue of dilution of promoter stake had been going on for a few years.

“In the past, the RBI had asked the bank to only dilute promoter shareholding of its paid-up capital. However, the impugned letter sought dilution of paid-up voting equity capital,” he said.

He added that after receiving the letter, the private sector lender wrote two letters — one on September 4 and the other on September 24 — to the RBI governor seeking clarification.

“However, there has been no reply till date. All that we are now seeking is for the new RBI governor to consider the matter afresh,” he said. He also urged the court that the central bank should not take coercive steps after December 31.

Appearing for the RBI, senior counsel Venkatesh Dhond and advocate Parag Sharma opposed the plea and said the reason behind asking for promoter stake dilution is to ensure that the voting power is not in the hands of one single group.

A division bench of justices B.P. Dharmadhikari and S.V. Kotwal, which did not allow any stay on the deadline, asked the central bank to file a reply and fixed the next date of hearing on January 17, 2019. It is learnt that the banking regulator will not take any coercive action against Kotak Mahindra Bank till then.

The development led to the shares of the bank plunging. On the BSE, the scrip settled at Rs 1,223.90 — a drop of 2.50 per cent, or Rs 31.35, after falling almost 4 per cent during intra-day trade. While the RBI directive means that there would be heavy equity dilution (estimates say the bank will have to issue 100 crore new shares), market circles feel it could lead to negotiations between the RBI and the bank.

Honor Launched Wearable Band 4 with “Real Time Heart Rate Detection” Technique

A brand new latest wearable band has been launched by the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Honor, in India. The sales will start on December 18 on Amazon.in.

Supported by “Real Time Heart Rate Detection” and Huawei’s “TruSleep” monitoring technology, Band 4 works like a personal fitness trainer, monitoring health and related activities, the company said in a statement.

“In today’s stressful environment, it’s important for everyone to lead a healthy lifestyle by having a balanced diet, doing regular exercise and having adequate sleep every day. With Honor Band 4, consumers can track all these activities,” said Suhail Tariq, CMO at Huawei Consumer Business Group.

The Band 4 display has a large 2.5D curved full touchscreen. The device can be navigated by intuitive scroll gestures and a Home button for one-click return. The “TruSleepTM” monitoring technology tracks sleeping activities and automatically records user periods of REM acting as a personal sleep advisor to the users.

The “TruSeenTM 3.0” heart rate technology can calculate dozens of exercise scene optimisation algorithms with accurate measurements, monitoring heart rate in real-time. Honor Band 4 comes with a six-axis sensor which automatically recognises swim strokes, records swimming speed, distance and calories. Band 4 is is water-resistant up to 50 metres.

A Brief Look At HCL, Infosys, Wipro Sensex Report Card

The Indian rupee gained in early trade against the dollar. The rupee opened higher by 22 paise at 71.33 as compared to previous day close of 71.55. Shares of information technology (IT) companies are trading lower as a stronger rupee is dragging marquee names such as Infosys and Wipro, among others.

Rupee in the last few sessions consolidated in a wide range of 71.20 and 72.30 ahead of the important FOMC policy statement that will be released tomorrow. Expectation is that the Fed could consider raising rates by 2bps and a hawkish stance could extend gains for the greenback. On the domestic front, rupee extended its gains after India’s trade deficit narrowed in November, said Motilal Oswal.

At 09:30 hrs Infosys was quoting at Rs 681.00, down Rs 12.55, or 1.81 percent. Wipro was quoting at Rs 334.50, down Rs 5.30, or 1.56 percent.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani Asked Congress President Rahul Gandhi to Step Down

Scoffing the Congress President Rahul Gandhi for “misleading the nation” on Rafale deal, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani castigated Gandhi while addressing a press conference here, Rupani said Gandhi made the issue concerning national security a tool to grind the Narendra Modi government.

The chief minister was speaking as part of the BJP’s move to hold press conferences in 70 cities across the country to attack the opposition party against the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Rafale jet deal last week. “Even if all thieves come together and call the chowkidar a thief, the people will not accept it,” Rupani told reporters here, referring to Gandhi’s barb against the prime minister.

Rupani said only “those who are afraid of the ‘chowkidar’ make repeated noise about thieves. But, the people know the truth”. “The Supreme Court judgement is a slap on the face of the Congress and those misleading the nation. Now, Gandhi should quit as the president of the Congress for misleading the nation,” Rupani said.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the pleas challenging the deal between India and France for procurement of 36 Rafale jets, saying there was no occasion to “really doubt the decision making the process” warranting setting aside of the contract.

The Congress has repeatedly criticised the deal for the 36 Rafale jets, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government.

The government has, however, denied any irregularity in the deal. Rupani also came down heavily on Gandhi for raising questions over the deal even after the apex court held that there were no irregularities in it.

The Gujarat chief minister said there should be no doubt on the decision-making process in the procurement of Rafale jets from France. “We are ready for a debate on the issue. After the Supreme Court made it clear that there is no irregularity, there should be no question of a probe into the matter,” Rupani said.

DMK President MK Stalin Backs Rahul Gandhi As the Apt Candidate for Prime Ministerial Job

Targeting political barbs at the BJP stealthily, DMK president MK Stalin felicitated Congress’s triumph in the recent Lok Sabha elections and postulated another victory in store for the Opposition front in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election 2019.

Positioning Gandhi as the apt candidate for the post of Prime Minister, Stalin unequivocally professed, Rahul Gandhi for PM “is the right thing to unite secular forces.’

“Rahul was responsible for Congress victory in the three BJP bastions. We require a strong leadership to coordinate democratic forces. That’s why I have proposed Rahul’s name. I am confident our allies would understand,” he said.

Stalin’s sudden proclamation, which he first made in the presence of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi at the unveiling of M Karunanidhi’s statue in Chennai, has not found many takers in the opposition camp which has struggled so far to forge an anti-BJP bloc before 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which has been on good terms with other opposition parties but has not shown the same warmth for Congress, said any decision on a prime ministerial candidate should be taken at a meeting of opposition parties after the general election results.

“Not only TMC, but also other opposition parties are of the opinion that any decision on the PM candidate should be taken only after the Lok Sabha election results. Any announcement on the PM candidate right now would be premature as it would divide the opposition camp,” a senior TMC leader told media on condition of anonymity.

Sharad Pawar’s NCP, too, said there was no need for an immediate debate on the PM candidate. “The Congress itself has declared that it will be decided after the election results,” NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, DMK president MK Stalin, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Loktantrik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav and other opposition leaders head to Ashok Gehlot’s swearing-in ceremony in Jaipur on Monday.

“A number of opposition leaders are understood to have reservations against naming anyone as the prime ministerial face. The SP, TDP, BSP, TMC, and NCP disagree with Stalin’s announcement. It is premature. The PM name is to be decided only after the Lok Sabha results,” PTI quoted another top opposition leader as saying.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram had earlier maintained that the party never “officially” said its president Rahul Gandhi should be the prime minister if an opposition alliance formed the next government. The decision on who would be the prime minister in the event of an opposition alliance winning next year’s Lok Sabha poll will be taken by its constituents, he had said.

Top leaders of 21 Opposition parties, barring the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, had met in New Delhi last week and vowed to forge a united front to fight and defeat the BJP in the 2019 general election. The BJP had mocked the meet and said they should first declare a prime ministerial candidate before thinking of ousting the Modi government.

Congress leader and Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath Is Behind the Eighth Ball for His “Involvement” in 1984 Sikh-Riots

Senior advocate H S Phoolka, who is at the helm of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case has claimed in the court that they are “legally exploring how to go with Congress leader and Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath’s case”. Postulating Nath’s presence near the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj when it was attacked by a mob on November 1, Phoolka asserted, that the culprits should be punished for their crimes, representing victims in 1984 riots cases for free — for 34 years.

Kamal Nath has denied his involvement in the incident and said he is being targeted for political reasons. “I took oath in 1991 and later many times. There is no case, no chargesheet against me. I was even (Congress party’s) in-charge of Delhi but no one talked about it,” Nath said in Bhopal on Monday when asked about his alleged involvement in the 1984 Sikh massacre.

An emotional Phoolka, who broke down in courtroom 3 of Delhi High Court the moment the bench announced the guilty verdict against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 riots case on Monday, said, “It has been 34 years…I have been waiting to hear this. It’s a huge victory. I was 28 when I took up the case.”

Tears welling up his eyes, Phoolka recalled that he had filed the first case in December 1984. While admitting that it was a difficult journey, and it is “not so easy to catch powerful people”, he said it was a cause he had taken up, and he was “prepared” for a long battle.

“This moment has come after 34 years. We are very happy, but others culprits also need to be punished,” he said. Phoolka said more than a thousand people were involved in crimes during the anti-Sikh riots, but all could not be booked due to the failure of Delhi Police.

The 73-year-old also said he has filed a caveat petition before the Supreme court, apprehending that Sajjan Kumar will challenge the High Court verdict.

BYJU’s Raised $540 Million from Naspers

South African tech conglomerate Naspers has injected $540 million (Rs 3,855 crore at current exchange rates) in the Bengaluru-based Think and Learn Pvt. Ltd, which runs ed-tech startup Byju’s.

According to a press statement from Naspers, the investment is a combination of a primary and secondary transaction.

Byju’s will use the fresh capital to expand its operations in international markets and to make key investments in technology, the statement added.

The round valued the firm at $3.8 billion post-money, making the 10-year-old company one of the most valued ed-tech companies in the world and one of the top five internet startups in India.

“While near-term profitability is important for us, as a company our main focus continues to be on long-term sustainable growth. The ed-tech industry is undergoing massive shifts; students today want to learn through engaging and interactive methods. We are pioneering ‘better learning for tomorrow’ with technology as an enabler, and have been working towards making students active learners,” Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive of the venture said.

In a filing with the Registrar of Companies last week, the company said it raised $322.64 million (around Rs 2,300 crore) led by Naspers Ventures, which put in Rs 1,236. 65 crore ($171.88 million) while CPPIB contributed Rs 886.43 crore ($123.20 million). New York-headquartered private equity firm General Atlantic put in the rest through its Singapore-based associate firm. According to estimations by TechCircle, the round valued Byju’s at $3.3 billion.

Following the filing, TechCircle had reported that Byju’s was in talks to raise another $100 million as part of the ongoing fundraising exercise.

“With the largest school-age population in the world and a growing middle-class with the willingness to commit significant resources towards quality education for their children, Byju’s is perfectly positioned to provide an effective supplemental education solution for students across India. We partnered with Byju’s because we believe the company’s success in India will translate across borders in any country where students are looking for an innovative and engaging form of education beyond the classroom,” Russell Dreisenstock, head of international investments, Naspers Ventures, said.

In September, Business Standard reported that General Atlantic had invested $100 million in the ed-tech firm at a valuation that crossed the $2-billion mark.

While General Atlantic’s investment of Rs 199.10 crore ($27.54 million) in October valued Byju’s at $2.89 billion, filings show that the company is yet to receive the remaining amount.

The company runs learning apps for school students and produces all its content in-house. The venture originally started off as a coaching platform for competitive entrance exams like IIT-JEE, CAT, UPSC, GMAT, GRE, Engineering/Medical and for students studying in classes 6-12. Later, it launched content for students from classes 4 to 5 last year, helping them further accelerate their growth. It now plans to launch an app for students in class 1-3 by the end of this year.

Alarming Call for Parliament Owing to Chinese Intrusion at Doklam

Chinese infrastructure construction near Doklam has becoming a rising concern for the Indian government as a parliamentary panel sat on Monday for the discussion on the future course of action.

“Chinese infrastructure built uncomfortably close to the tri-junction has not yet been dismantled” said the Parliamentary panel.

While the government has categorically denied that there is any direct threat presently from Chinese troops, the Standing committee on External Affairs has said that it is always better to have a sense of “healthy scepticism” while dealing with China.

“Even if they have withdrawn their troops from Doklam for the time being, China’s strategic intentions should not be taken casually. The Committee would, therefore, urge the Government not to let its vigil down in order to prevent any untoward incident in future,” the panel chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said in its report on India-China relations, including Doklam.

The panel, which has Congress President Rahul Gandhi as its member, said that it understands that the Chinese intrusion at Doklam was a blatant but unsuccessful attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by shifting the India, Bhutan, China tri-junction from Batang La to Gyomochen, thereby seriously affecting India’s security interests by enhancing China’s ability to dominate the vulnerable Siliguri corridor.

“Doklam was not a sovereignty issue for India, as the disputed territory was Bhutanese, but nevertheless it was a major security challenge for us,” the panel has said.

While appreciating the “brave and timely action” by security forces which checked road construction activity by PLA troops in south Doklam, it also complimented “skilful diplomatic efforts” of the MEA due to which the stand-off was “defused without bloodshed”. It expressed “concern” about reports alluding to Chinese presence around Doklam plateau.