Friday, April 20, 2012

India on Agni path to top missiles club

Agni-V Launched, To Be Battle-Ready In 2015

Rajat Pandit TNN

[ Source:]

New Delhi: After the mischief played by the weather gods a day earlier, the god of fire, or “Agni’’, came into his own on Thursday morning to hurl a potent fireball more than halfway across the expanse of the Indian Ocean at over 20 times the speed of sound.
India heralded a new era in its “credible” strategic deterrence capability by testing its most ambitious nuclear missile — the over 5,000-km-range Agni-V — that brings all of China and much more within its strike envelope. With the launch of the 50-tonne missile from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast at 8.07am, and its 20-minute flight to an “impact point towards western Australia”, India also knocked on the doors of the super-exclusive ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) club that counts only the US, Russia, China, France and the UK as its members.
India can, however,sit at this high table only when the 17.5-metre tall Agni-V, which just about meets the 5,500-km ICBM benchmark, becomes fully operational after “four to five repeatable tests’’ and user trials. It will be around 2015 that the three-stage, solid-fuelled missile will be ready for deployment by the tri-Service Strategic Forces Command.
That didn’t dampen the celebrations though, with the missile hailed as a “game-changer”.
Delhi a cooperative partner: Beijing Beijing on Thursday described India as a “cooperative partner’’ and suggested that its test launch of Agni-V missile would not impact regional stability hours after a Communist Party-owned newspaper slammed the test flight, saying “India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China”. A ‘Global Times’ commentary advised India “not to be arrogant about its missile capabilities’’. P 8 US praises ‘non-proliferation’ record T he Obama administration on Thursday refrained from from criticizing India for the Agni-V test, and instead praised its “solid non-proliferation record”. Drawing a clear distinction between India and other countries, state department spokesman Mark Toner said the US has a “very strong strategic and security partnership with India, so we obviously have routine discussions about a wide range of topics”. P 8 Agni-V covers whole of Asia
It’s a game-changer… a superhit. India is a major missile power now. I don’t think it will take more than two years for Agni-V to be ready for induction,’’ DRDO chief V K Saraswat, said soon after the test.
Chief controller (missiles and strategic systems) Avinash Chander said: “We have met all the mission objectives… All three stages of propulsion, with indigenously developed composite rocket motors, worked perfectly.’’
The maiden test of Agni-V, designed to carry a 1.5-tonne nuclear warhead, expectedly generated waves. The missile, after all, can deliver multiple warheads and cover the whole of Asia, 70% of Europe and eastern Africa, leaving only continental America beyond its deadly reach.
Even as PM Manmohan Singh and defence minister A K Antony congratulated the scientists for “doing the country proud’’, the US took note of India’s “solid nonproliferation record’’. China, however, made its displeasure clear.
India, with a declared “no first-use’’ nuclear doctrine, could have gone in for a much higher-range ICBM, say top officials. But Agni-V, with its “very short reaction time as well as very high mobility for requisite operational flexibility’’, takes care of India’s “current threat perceptions’’.
Unlike the earlier missiles, Agni-V can be easily stored in hermitically sealed canisters and swiftly transported atop launcher trucks by road.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kolkata connects India to 4G era

Faster Internet, But Sibal Stresses Affordability At Launch


[Source: ]

Kolkata: Sixteen years after it ushered in the cellphone revolution in India, with chief minister Jyoti Basu making the first call to telecom minister Sukhram on July 31, 1995, Kolkata once again made telecom history on Tuesday by becoming the first Indian city to have a 4G link. 

The service, an abbreviation for fourth generation wireless, was launched by Airtel, whose predecessor in the city, Modi Telstra, had launched the cellphone service from the city with Basu’s historic call. It wasn’t just the emotional factor that made the city an automatic choice for the 4G launch. A senior Airtel
official said the 4G infrastructure in the city had been put in place before others by ZTE Corporation, China’s largest listed telecom equipment company roped in to plan, design, deploy and supply the 4G network in Kolkata. And in remarks that would show Bengal and its capital in positive light to the industry, Bharti Airtel chairman and managing director Sunil Bharti Mittal, who unveiled the service along with telecom minister Kapil Sibal, thanked the state government for fast clearances. 

So, Kolkatans can now ac
cess ultra-fast broadband service that, according to experts, is expected to be five times as fast as 3G. But a 4G connection will not offer voice or text services (in other words, you cannot use it to make calls or send SMSs). The service is being provided through dongles, which will allow you to link up with computers, laptops and some tablets. A 4G network lets users download songs and stream movies much more quickly than with 3G or WiFi.

But as with the rest of the world, its success in India, too, will depend on affordability, a point Sibal emphasized, confessing the 3G story hadn’t been a successful one.

4G supersedes the 3G network. A mobile device in this network exchanges data at 100 Mbit/sec. In a 3G network, data speed is only 3.84 Mbit/sec.
Download speeds can reach up to 40mbps while upload speeds may be up to 20mbps. 
Ideal for high-definition video and movie streaming.
“I dare say that though 3G was launched, the benefits are not yet seen by the aam admi. Now, we are launching the 4G. And with this launch, we have our sights set on an era where the aam admi will have access to 4G. But a lot of work has to be done because even 3G handsets are not yet affordable. What Sunil (Mittal) has done is allowed a network to be established. But the rest of the industry must ensure that relevant devices, which will connect with the network are low-cost and affordable. It is only then that the true revolution will come about in India,” Sibal said.
He said the government would play the role of facilitator in all endeavours to upgrade technology. “While we shall provide environment to the industry to manufacture those, the industry has to deliver low-cost quality smartphones. This is the challenge before the industry. They pay such huge prices for the spectrum and there is no liquidity in the market left for them to invest in the infrastructure and the devices, which will deliver 3G services. That is the reason why 2G was successful and 3G was not successful and I hope that the industry will reflect on it now,” he added.
Sanjay Kapoor, CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said prices are also a function of input costs. Spectrum availability in adequate quantities at affordable prices is also important for the industry players. “That’s why we have always requested the government that there shouldn't be no artificial control on the spectrum. Till there is enough spectrum available affordability will become a better driver than what it is today,” he said.
The IT software industry has welcomed the revolutionary 4G launch in Kolkata. 

“Many people have forgotten that the first telephonic experience was executed by A J C Bose in Kolkata. Now the 4G launch in Kolkata adds to the glory,” said Suparno Moitra, regional manager (east), Nasscom.
Hailing it as a big achievement for the state, S Radhakrishnan, chairman, Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council, said, “It is a great achievement for Bengal. After a long time, we can say, what Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.”
According to Acclaris (India) MD Subrata Mukherjee, “An ultra fast service like 4G is extremely necessary for the humongous amount of data usage and applications related activities. Without 4G, many technical developments won’t make sense so it is extremely important.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sebi allows listing of stock exchanges

Regulator broadly accepts Jalan panel recommendations, sets norms for alternative investment funds


PRADEEP GAUR/MINT Former RBI governor Bimal Jalan says he is pleased with the balanced view taken by Sebi after its board meeting. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Monday allowed the country’s stock exchanges to raise capital from the public through the listing of their own shares, which was opposed by the Bimal Jalan committee in its 2010 report.
Stifling rumours of the report being dumped in the backdrop of widespread controversies, the markets’ regulator said it broadly endorsed the committee’s recommendations that will change the way stock exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations do business in India.
Despite its key recommendations being rejected, Jalan, a former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor and head of the committee on market infrastructure institutions (MIIS), said he was pleased with the balanced view taken by Sebi after its board meeting on Monday.
“Sebi has maintained our basic emphasis of investor protection,” Jalan said. “It has decided that the regulatory and commercial functions of the stock exchanges should be separated, which is consistent with our report. It has taken a balanced view.”
Sebi set up a seven-member panel in February 2010, headed by Jalan, to review the ownership and governance structure norms of MIIS. Its November 2010 report recommended several changes.
But the report was stuck at the finance ministry over suggestions against the listing of bourses and segregation of their regulatory and commercial roles.
“MIIS should not become a vehicle for attracting speculative investments,” the report had said. “Further, MIIS being public institutions, any downward movement in their share prices may lead to a loss of credibility and this may be detrimental to the market as a whole.”
All the stock exchanges opposed the recommendation.
Sebi also framed exit norms for regional stock exchanges,
R 8FA57 most of which are dormant and are looking to liquidate their assets. Sebi chairman U.K. Sinha had pointed out in an interview last year that this was one of the areas that hadn’t been addressed in the Jalan report.
The regulator said stock exchanges could be listed when they put in place an appropriate mechanism to tackle conflict of interest. No stock exchange will be allowed to list shares on its own equity trading platform, and to float an initial public offering (IPO), the exchange will need to complete at least three years of operations.
The exchanges will also have to set up a conflict resolution committee with majority external and independent members. Sebi will prescribe the minimum listing standards for exchanges.
Both BSE Ltd and National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE) have in the past expressed their intention to sell shares.
Sebi said no single investor can hold more than 5% in exchanges, except for banks and financial institutions that may
® ® hold up to 15%. In line with the Jalan panel’s recommendations, Sebi mandated that stock exchanges should have a diversified ownership. “Fiftyone per cent of the holding of the stock exchanges will be held by the public,” it said.
Trading or clearing member representatives won’t be allowed on the boards of exchanges. That could pose difficulties for BSE, which has several brokers on its board, in the event of an IPO.
The new norms will require stock exchanges to have a minimum net worth of ` 100 crore, and the existing exchanges will be given three years to achieve this. The minimum net worth for other MIIS such as clearing corporations and depositories will be ` 300 crore and ` 100 crore, respectively.
Sebi will set up an expert committee to examine the viability of introducing a single clearing corporation or interoperability between different clearing corporations, Mint had reported on 31 January.
Depositories can also be listed, but not exchange clearing corporations. Both BSE and NSE have their own clearing corporations.
Sebi said a single stock exchange can’t hold more than 51% in a clearing corporation, and the combined holding of stock exchanges has to be at least 51%. A stock exchange holding 51% in one clearing corporation cannot hold more than 15% in any other such entity.
The exchanges will get three years to bring down their stake to the required levels.
“It is a welcome and significant development, of considerable importance to the MII industry,” an NSE official said on condition of anonymity. “It should have a significant impact on the way the MII industry is structured.” BSE refused to comment. The regulator wants the non-core activities of MIIS to be assigned to a separate legal entity. When a related business of an MII delivers a service to another MII, it will have to provide equal and fair access to all. This means a depository or clearing corporation cannot prefer the trades made on the exchange that owns a majority stake in it.
Sebi also suggested changes in the compensation structure for key management personnel at MIIS.
Exchange exit
To enable the exit of stock exchanges, Sebi said a bourse without any trading on its own platform or annual volume of less than ` 1,000 crore can apply for voluntary de-recognition and exit.
If a stock exchange entitled for voluntary de-recognition fails to achieve a turnover of ` 1,000 crore on a continuous basis or does not apply for voluntary exit within two years from the date of the regulator’s notice, Sebi will initiate a compulsory de-recognition process. There was no clear rule so far regarding such exits.
Out of India’s 25 stock exchanges, Sebi has de-recognized five. In September, Mint
Following recommendations: reported that Sebi was working on exit norms for exchanges.
Post-corporatization and demutualization of exchanges in 2004, several regional stock exchanges saw turnovers dwindling. As BSE and NSE expanded their network through franchises and brokers, firms preferred to be listed on these two, making regional stock markets unviable. There was no clear rule so far regarding ways to deal with assets of defunct exchanges and shareholders of companies listed on such exchanges.
Alternative investment funds
The regulator also proposes to regulate so-called alternative investment funds (AIFS) such as private equity (PE) funds, venture capital (VC) funds, infrastructure funds and social sector funds under an omnibus regulation.
The objective of the AIF regulations is to eliminate the investment risk of investors in privately managed funds.
All AIFS must register with Sebi. So far, most of these funds had been regulated under Sebi’s VC funds norms, which have now been repealed.
The regulation classifies AIFS under three categories.
The first category includes VC funds, small and medium enterprises funds, social venture funds and infrastructure funds. These funds could be given certain concessions by the government.
The second category includes PE funds, debt funds, fund of funds and others. Both these categories of AIFS will be close-ended and will not engage in leverage. The third category includes hedge funds and can be open-ended and may engage in leverage.
The categorization is a good way to bring clarity to fund structuring, said Vijai Mantri, chief executive officer and managing director at Pramerica Asset Managers Pvt. Ltd. So far, as most of these funds had been broadly classified as VC funds, it had become difficult to give targeted concessions to VC funds to promote start-ups.
“The disclosures are stringent. It is not possible to have all AIFS in one category. It’s a well-thought move,” Mantri said, adding that the regulators want the structures to be genuine.
According to new rules, the minimum contribution for a manager or sponsor in an AIF is 2.5% of the initial corpus (compared with 5% proposed earlier), or ` 5 crore, whichever is lower. Globally, limited partners (LPS, or investors in investment funds) seek a contribution of 1-2% of the fund size by its sponsors or general partners.
Also, such a contribution cannot be through the waiver of management fees. A management fee is usually 2% of the fund corpus offered on an annual basis for running the investment firm. According to the Sebi regulations, an AIF will not accept an investment of less than ` 1 crore from an investor. Further, the AIF shall have a minimum corpus of ` 20 crore. Also, the fund should not have more than 1,000 investors.
“Moving the 5% (contribution requirement) down to 2.5% in my mind is positive and now more palatable,” said Vivek Gupta, partner (mergers and acquisitions practice) at BMR Advisors. “Regulations like minimum investment of ` 1 crore and not having more than 1,000 investors is Sebi’s way of maintaining the sanctity of these Pe-type funds as genuine instruments for sophisticated investors to come in and invest without giving it too much public character.”
AIFS will not be permitted to invest more than 25% of the funds in one company and they are not allowed to invest in associate companies.