Tags: india*

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  1. The students are not complaining on the methodology of their teaching but on the way the coaching institute is extracting money from the students and their parents.

    The main culprit behind the whole ‘fraud’ that students claim is the Aadhaar’s Instant Authentication System. The system is being used to extract money from a student or parent’s bank account even before ‘they have agreed to be enrolled in the course or negotiated on the fee’.

    Here is how it works. The student walks into the coaching institute. The institute asks them to bring their Aadhaar card for registration and a finger print authentication on an app. The coaching institute also asks for a signature on a sheet where its written ECS Mandate.

    The students are apparently told that they would be given a loan only if they agree to being enrolled after attending a few ‘demo classes’.

    But lo an behold! Within 24 hours, the students are sent a loan agreement letter on their email id by an NBFC.

    The agreement says that they have taken a loan and upon their request, the amount has been paid to the institute. After a class or two, when the students find they are not interested in the course, the NBFC says that the money for the entire year has already been transferred to the institute’s bank account.

    And the institute is unwilling to refund the money.

    From the next month onwards, the EMI starts getting debited from a student or their parent’s bank account even though the student is not enrolled in the institute or attending its classes.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2018-03-03)
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  2. Whenever a BPL (below poverty line) ration card-holder like Ali goes to the PDS outlet, the shopkeeper asks for the family’s ration card number and punches it into a small machine. The device then displays the list of family members and the person present has to authenticate this with his or her fingerprints. The dealer gives the rations according to the number of persons the machine shows. But Ali's name had disappeared from the online list of names in his family’s ration card. "I went many times and my name was not there,” he says. “When they punch in our number, five names should show up. But only four do, mine is missing. Only if the name is there, the fingerprints work. Otherwise they don't work."
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-03-02)
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  3. After the first communication to the PMO, which set the ball rolling, he was informed that the system had rejected his enrolment since his fingerprints partially matched with not one, but seven registered citizens, all from Surpur taluk in Yadgir district.

    “I tracked them and presented them physically before the officials,” he said, to establish that there was no duplication. His number was finally generated at the Aadhaar Adalat at Yadgir recently. Of the seven with whom his fingerprints had partially matched included a child and an 86-year-old. “How could my fingerprints match with seven persons, and yet they got Aadhaar?” he asked.

    UIDAI sources say the problem began for Mr. Gurikar after he, in the past, tried to help those who came to the enrolment centres. “While helping people get their biometrics right, even his fingerprints had been partially captured in seven cases. Though Aadhaar had been generated for the seven, their numbers had been deactivated by the system automatically.” Sources said the fingerprints of the seven were recaptured and their Aadhaar numbers enabled. This helped Mr. Gurikar get Aadhaar.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-19)
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  4. A centralised database, dual use as identifier and authenticator, and lack of sound legal framework are its main weaknesses.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-09)
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  5. Indian agriculture is going to witness Internet of Things (IoT) applications soon as SenRa, a pan India Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWANs) provider for long range-based (LoRa®-based) IoT applications, and Skysens, a Turkey-based LPWAN technology provider, today announced their partnership to bring cutting-edge, low-cost, and long-range solutions to India. The collaboration between the two companies will provide needed solutions in a growing IoT market in India and will provide more efficient and environment friendly offerings. This LoRa® ecosystem partnership brings a combined knowledge of LoRaWAN technology, to include network services, connectivity, and end-device expertise.

    "We are excited to announce our partnership with Skysens. We believe partnerships like this will bring innovative solutions to address some of the current challenges which are present in India today," said Ali Hosseini, Chief Executive Officer of SenRa. "For example, agriculture is the main source of livelihood for about 48% of the Indian population. Due to lack of resources and ongoing climate changes, it is more critical than ever to provide farmers the tools they need to produce crops and manage their limited resources. Leveraging solutions such as Skysens soil sensors, provide farmers the ability to monitor their soil and determine the health of their crops in real-time,” Hosseini added.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-07)
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  6. The UIDAI goes on about how biometrics are safe and out of reach. The truth is, biometrics are collapsing all round. The figures for biometric failure have been staggering. In Rajasthan, in the PDS, exclusion because of fingerprint failure has been close to 36 per cent — which means not even one person from 36 per cent households are able to authenticate using their fingerprints. Jharkhand has witnessed deaths because the poorest have had difficulty linking their UID number with their ration card. Documents in the UIDAI archive from between 2009 and 2012 show that biometrics was still in an experimental phase. That biometrics are not working as hoped is made evident in the Watal Committee report on digital transactions, in December 2016. At pp. 123-124, the committee says that biometric authentication requires the availability of internet and high-quality machines capable of capturing biometric details, making it contingent on these working. So, the committee asks that for digital transactions, the “OTP sent on registered mobile number of Aadhaar holder” be allowed, thereby downgrading biometrics.

    Digital payments are in the business interest; not PDS. So, while fingerprints cause huge problems to the poor, the business interest shifts to other means because biometrics are not dependable.

    The mantra has, in fact, been JAM — Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, mobile — three numbers that make up identity. It was in 2010 that Nandan Nilekani said to a reporter: “The slogan of “bijli, sadak, paani” is passé; ‘virtual things’ like UID number, bank account and mobile phone are the in-thing.” That is the imagination that is driving the project today. It is these three numbers that are being exposed in the breaches. Then, to say that all is well is clearly not quite the truth.

    The project is putting people, and the nation, at risk. Those in court challenging the project have been demanding that the project be scrapped — not just the UIDAI, but the project. The breaches explain why what they are asking makes sense.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-07)
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  7. India is looking forward to exploring some of Israel’s offshore gas fields soon. Analysts suggested that by including oil in its relationship with Israel, India is giving a strong message to Iran that has held up the allocation of two gas fields discovered by oil companies.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian consortium led by ONGC was among the two global entities that took part in the auction of Israel's offshore gas fields held last month after a gap of more than 4 years during which the sea was completely closed for the distribution of new exploration licenses.

    The consortium comprising ONGC Videsh Ltd, Bharat PetroResources Ltd, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd and Oil India Ltd is also set to be registered as a foreign company in Israel's Corporations' Authority in January 2018. This would facilitate its participation in the second round of bidding.

    "This bid round is the first step in a long-range process that would lead to utilization of the gas and oil fields in the Israeli EEZ to the benefit of Israel's citizens. I am pleased to have companies from Greece and India contribute to Israel's energy market. I have ordered preparations for a 2nd licensing round to be launched in 2018, in which lessons from the 1st round will be incorporated," Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Israel's Energy Minister said after the completion of the first round.

    The Israeli blocks are in close proximity to a number of large and proven gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean. Some are adjacent to the recently discovered Leviathan and Tamar fields. According to an industry estimate, nearly 2,200 billion cubic meters of natural gas and a potential 6.6 billion barrels of oil are to be discovered in these blocks.

    India's decision to enter Israeli waters for energy exploration has a greater strategic significance than securing energy at another location, especially after waiting for several years to win exploration rights for Iran's Farsi and Farzad B gas fields.

    "India wants to send two signals from this decision. First, if Iran continues to dillydally on the proposal of awarding gas fields to India, New Delhi can open new vistas for exploration in the region; secondly, to Israel that New Delhi really wants to deepen its relationship with the Jewish nation," SC Tripathi, former secretary in India's Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas told Sputnik.

    Spike missile
    CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rhk111 / Spike NLOS missile
    India Calls off $500 Mln Spike Missile Deal With Israel
    Making oil a subject of bilateral relation will also pacify Israel which received a jolt in four major defense deals with India in the last year. The Indian government scrapped defense contracts for light machine guns, close quarter battle carbines, assault rifles and anti-tank missiles with Israeli firms either due to the single-vendor situation or for giving priority to homemade equipment.

    India's decision to expand the horizons of the bilateral relationship with Israel will have some ramifications on its relationship with the Arab world.

    "Entry into Israeli water for gas exploration could upset some Arabian nations. But, of late, it is being seen that countries like Jordon have started co-operating with Israel while Saudi Arabia is no more fervently opposing Israel. Iran is the only country in the region which could pose strong opposition to the Indian move," SC Tripathi, added.
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  8. From next year, developers will be charged a tax for unsold units that haven’t been occupied for over a year, Nidhi Adlakha writes

    In the Union Budget 2017, it was announced that the IT department will soon levy a tax on unsold apartments, which have been vacant for more than one year. With industry sources anticipating the order will be executed as early as April 2018 onwards, industry players are in a fix.

    A. Shankar, National Director, JLL India, says certain builders adopt the ‘hoarding’ strategy to create artificial scarcity and this leads to inflated prices. “The fresh tax would be applicable from the next financial year and will be levied on properties held under ‘stock-in-trade’ by developers. The tax rate could be anywhere between 8% and 10% of property's total value,” he says.

    It’s evident the government wants developers to stop hoarding apartments in anticipation of price appreciation, but there are a number of practical issues with the new tax regime, feels Niranjan Hiranandani, President, National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO). He says buyers do not wait in line and buy housing units as and when they are available. There are market forces which impact the sale of ready units and most importantly, the prevailing economic conditions affect buyer sentiment. “Developers have no control over any of these aspects and cannot ensure that ready possession units get sold within this one year deadline,” he says.


    Developers might be significantly impacted by the move but consumers have a lot to look forward to.

    With the current vacant supply hitting the market soon, buyers can expect a reduction in prices. In cities such as Delhi-NCR and Mumbai, unsold inventory levels are very high and the new tax could result in a steep price correction, says Shankar. Other benefits include: a reduction in unsold inventory, lower prices, increased government revenue, opportunity for alternate asset classes such as co-living and rental housing and overall price corrections.


    Most players believe that the timing for such a move is unfortunate. Contrary to the belief that developers are hoarding, they say, they are struggling to sell properties even at reduced prices. “Builders are making a loss in whatever they are selling today and are struggling to pay back the loans with high interest rates,” says R Kumar, Managing Director & Chairman – Navin’s.

    If unsold properties are going to be taxed, developers will hesitate to launch new projects unless there is a sale guarantee. RERA stipulates that properties cannot be sold without all approvals in place and even after getting all the necessary documents, if only a few units are sold, the builder has to complete the entire project. Added to that is the pressure of paying tax on the unsold units. How is this fair? asks Kumar.

    Speaking on similar lines, Hiranandani wonders that if builders are unable to sell at prevailing points, are they expected to sell at a loss? “If such a scenario is envisaged, will developers want to build housing units unless they have committed buyers?”

    Given the new rule, developers may slowdown their construction speed to match with the sales velocity. At the onset, such an IT directive may not be completely in favour of the free-market regime that the government intends to achieve within the sector. “In the short run, this could result in a price correction but in the long run, developers might be hesitant to undertake large township-style projects,” adds Shankar. Also, new supply will be only bought-in once demand for it has been registered.

    More competitors

    Instead, the entry of more competitors should be encouraged (many weak/fraudulent ones have been wiped out post-RERA). The consistent release of land parcels and faster project approvals to create supply is crucial. Ravi Ahuja, Senior Executive Director, Mumbai & Developer Services, Colliers International India, says in most cases, any additional outflow from the developer’s end on any project, ultimately impacts the buyer. In the current scenario, however, where the residential sector is reeling under pressure, he feels the new move will not result in any price increase.

    Trends indicate that apart from affordable units, the luxury segment witnesses maximum launches. But given this new tax segment, one can expect fewer launches and perhaps an invite-only sale process. The luxury sector, the most impacted asset class, will see few takers in the coming months.

    Data suggests that a considerable portion of unsold units currently lie in the premium and luxury segment. The tax initiative will impact new supply to a great extent as developers will be wary of constructing prior to witnessing healthy demand.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2017-12-28)
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  9. should Central and State governments, banks and insurance companies, mobile phone operators, educational institutions, airlines and hospitals be vested with the draconian power to take coercive action against any person who does not have Aadhaar verification and to deprive him or her of basic services and benefits?

    This is the far-reaching, game-changing, mind-wrenching judgment that Justices Dipak Misra, Sikri, Khanwilkar, Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan will have to deliver. It is an onerous task; and an awesome responsibility. It will alter the equation between citizenship and society, governance and commerce for generations to come.

    And, moreover, it is irreversible. Once Aadhaar is made mandatory, it will be meaningless to declare it to be voluntary or optional through some future judicial review.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2017-12-17)
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  10. There are serious consequences of putting so much power in the hands of one authority that will be working under the beck and call of the government of India. Not only will this regulator have the power to inspect records and data in the guise of data audits, it will also be able to levy fines that can bankrupt businesses and regulate Indian companies with enough red tape to make them uncompetitive in a global marketplace. If it seems like I am exaggerating, just look back into history and see the legacy of Indian regulation – be it the Industrial Licensing Act, 1951 or the Essential Commodities Act, 1956. Indian politicians and babudom have demonstrated a superb ability to throttle free enterprise.

    As the Indian economy becomes more digitised and generates the avalanche of data that everybody is betting on, this data regulator will accumulate more power over the ‘oil of the 21st century’. With more regulation, there will be consequences on civil liberties. Take for example the role of social media today, especially Facebook, Twitter and Google which provide Indian public debate with a much-needed lifeline in the age of a compromised mainstream media. There currently exist few options for the Indian government to control and regulate platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. A data regulator will however presumably have power to substantially regulate these platforms and that will have consequences for our ability to use the platforms to communicate and debate issues of importance.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2017-12-08)
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