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Andhra Pradesh State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Ltd (APCO) has joined hands with online retail giant Flipkart for their Samarth initiative and curated an exquisite collection of handloom products for Flipkart customers, including traditional craft forms like Venkatgiri, Mangalgiri, Chirala, Dhamavaram, Uppada and Rajahmundry for this festive season.

Thirty-year-old Bobba Balaji is passionate about what he does – he weaves magic into simple dyed cotton yarn and transforms it into exquisite Mangalgiri sarees, famous for their characteristic dual colour tones and wearing comfort.

“My ancestors were also weavers and I have grown up seeing my family practice this craft. I am passionate about it as it is in my blood and I have been weaving for the past 15 years,” says Balaji, who comes from a family of weavers from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district, who have been striving to keep the art of weaving alive and pass it down the generations to preserve this ancient Indian craft.

Each Mangalgiri saree is a celebration with its beautiful borders adorned with designs of peacocks and elephants, which are especially woven by hand by artisans. The pallus are finished with jacquard work to lend that festive look. The process of weaving for each piece is an elaborate one and it takes multiple craftsmen a few days to complete a single saree.

But the pandemic and resultant lockdowns have been challenging for thousands of struggling weavers like Balaji, who were left with no means of selling their creations. Traditionally, they used to sell their weaves to a select few customers in nearby locations, which got severely impacted during the lockdown.

Late last year, the Andhra Pradesh State Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Ltd (APCO), which offers support to weavers in even the most remote areas of the state creating the most intricate Jamdanis and Mangalgiris, joined hands with online retail giant Flipkart for their Samarth program.

“We partnered with Flipkart Samarth and took the handloom crafts of our weavers online to gain an insight into market-driven designs and varieties, thereby increasing the earnings and assuring employment to the weaver community,” said L Ramesh Babu, General Manager, Marketing at APCO.

Founded in 1976, APCO today supports more than 950 weavers’ co-operative societies spread across its 159 branches.

Partnering with the Flipkart Samarth initiative has expanded the reach of these weavers to a vibrant online community with thousands of handloom lovers, who appreciate this age-old craft and buy it. Insights from the platform informs them on popular designs and patterns, and also enables weavers to add a modern twist to their century old craft, helping them to stay relevant.

The Flipkart Samarth initiative was started in July 2019 with an aim to embrace underserved sections of society such as weavers, artisans, MSMEs and rural entrepreneurs and offer them a platform to showcase their products using the e-commerce platform. With this, their customer base has become pan-India offering them multiple benefits and a regularized source of income.

Since their collaboration with Flipkart, weavers affiliated with APCO have been able to create and exhibit a collection of authentic handloom products for Flipkart customers, which includes several traditional craft forms from the State of Andhra Pradesh like Venkatgiri, Mangalgiri, Chirala, Dhamavaram, Uppada and Rajahmundry. For a community of weavers who, until now, depended on tourists and exhibitions to showcase and sell their wares, the partnership has opened up avenues to a pan-India audience of over 350 million Flipkart customers, enabling better visibility, awareness, sales and, as a result, sustainable livelihoods.

“Flipkart is a great platform that enables products made by our handloom weavers to reach all over India, and not just in surrounding areas. By partnering with Flipkart Samarth, we were able to multiply the income of our weavers four-fold,” said Chillapalli Mohan Rao, Chairman, APCO.

In addition to providing weavers a platform to sell their products, Flipkart also provides them with cataloging support, training sessions, six month zero percent commission and advertising credits to get weavers familiar with the e-retail platform. The program impacts and supports more than 7,50,000 livelihoods across the country.

With e-commerce, the weavers now have an avenue that enables them to sell their products online to a large customer base, even amid a pandemic, and earn a dignified livelihood.

“Earlier, we had very few select customers and the sales of our products were restricted to a few nearby locations. With e-commerce, not only do our customers come from across India, we also get new ideas to design our products depending on customers’ expectations. Our original designs and handloom products reach people across the country,” said Balaji.

The weavers now have an avenue that enables them to sell their products online to a large customer base even amid the pandemic.

The weavers now have an avenue that enables them to sell their products online to a large customer base even amid the pandemic.

With the festive season around the corner, weavers are hopeful that their sales will get a further boost and traditional weaves will find their way into Indian homes for celebrations and festivities. And people like you and I get access to authentic, local, handmade and heritage-rich products from traditional markets and a chance to preserve our rich heritage. Source : ht


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The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday launched new guidelines on the role that tobacco product regulations can play in saving lives by reducing the demand for tobacco and tobacco products – estimated to kill over seven million people annually.

The new guide together with an accompanying publication will help governments “do much more” to implement regulations and address the exploitation of tobacco product regulations, highlighted the UN health agency.

“The tobacco industry has enjoyed years of little or no regulation, mainly due to the complexity of tobacco product regulation and lack of appropriate guidance in this area,” said Douglas Bettcher, the Director of the WHO Department for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases.

“Tobacco product regulation is an under-utilized tool which has a critical role to play in reducing tobacco use [and] these new tools provide a useful resource to countries to either introduce or improve existing tobacco product regulation provisions and end the tobacco industry ‘reign’,” he added.

The guide, titled Tobacco product regulation: Building laboratory testing capacity, provides practical and stepwise approaches to implementing tobacco testing relevant to a wide range of countries, especially those with inadequate resources to establish testing facilities.

It also provides regulators and policymakers with comprehensible information on how to test tobacco products, what products to test, and how to use testing data in a meaningful manner to support regulation.

The guidelines will also assist in the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – a global treaty combatting the tobacco epidemic – through strengthening tobacco product regulation capacity in WHO member States.

According to Vinayak Prasad, the head of the Tobacco Free Initiative at WHO, most countries “hesitate” to implement policies, due in part to the highly technical nature of such policy interventions and the difficulties in translating science into regulation.

“Failure to regulate is a missed opportunity as tobacco product regulation – in the context of comprehensive control – is a valuable tool that complements other tried and tested tobacco control interventions, such as raising taxes, and ensuring smoke-free environments,” he explained.

The accompanying publication, Case studies for regulatory approaches to tobacco products – Menthol in tobacco products, includes practical steps as well as policy options countries can employ to make regulations more effective, such as the regulators’ enforcement of a total ban on the use of flavours in tobacco products such as menthol.

The guidance document and the accompanying publication were launched at the 2018 World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, South Africa. Source :




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Biocon Biologics, Serum Institute announce strategic alliance

Written by Saturday, 23 September 2017 10:24

The two companies will enter Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for manufacturing and distribution of the vaccines and antibodies.

Biocon Biologics Limited (BBL), a subsidiary of Biocon Ltd. and Serum Institute Life Sciences Private Limited (SILS) announced a strategic alliance on Thursday and BBL said it will offer around 15 per cent stake to SILS at a post-money valuation of about USD 4.9 billion.

Serum Institute Life Sciences Private Limited is a subsidiary of Serum Institute of India (SII).

As per the official release, under the terms of the agreement, BBL will offer approximately 15 per cent stake to SILS, at a post-money valuation of USD 4.9 billion, for which it will get committed access to 100 million doses of vaccines per annum for 15 years, primarily from SILS's upcoming vaccine facility in Pune with commercialization rights of the SILS vaccine portfolio, including Covid-19 vaccines, for global markets.

"Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, BBL will generate a committed revenue stream and related margins, commencing H2, FY23. Adar Poonawalla will have a Board seat in Biocon Biologics Limited," it said.

In addition to vaccines, the strategic alliance will also develop antibodies targeting several infectious diseases like Dengue, HIV, etc.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon and Biocon Biologics, said, "This alliance will complement the strengths and resources of the two leading players in vaccines and biologics. Our shared vision of building large-scale businesses having global impact makes it a unique and synergistic value creation opportunity."

The two companies will enter Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for manufacturing and distribution of the vaccines and antibodies.

"We look forward to complementing each other's capabilities and capacities in vaccines and biologics, with the objective of addressing inequitable access both in emerging and developed markets for life-saving vaccines and biologics," said Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India.

Biocon Biologics will also establish, at its cost, a vaccine R&D division to support the strategic alliance in developing both vaccines and biologics for communicable diseases.

Additionally, wherever possible, it will make available its cell culture and sterile fill and finish capacities, for vaccine production under the strategic alliance.

"Biocon Biologics would issue shares and receive the contemplated rights through a merger with Covidshield Technologies Pvt. Ltd. (CTPL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SILS, on customary closing conditions and receipt of regulatory approvals," it added.

Both companies believe that this is an alliance that can make a significant impact on global healthcare through vaccines and biologics. Source : ht

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HRTC suspends Delhi-Leh bus service till June 2022

Written by Tuesday, 19 September 2017 10:15

Himachal Road Transport Corporation has suspended its bus service between Delhi and Leh till next year in the wake of prevailing bad weather and upcoming winters.

The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) has suspended its Leh-Delhi bus service till next year in the wake of prevailing bad weather and upcoming winters.

The corporation had temporarily suspended its Delhi-Leh service last Sunday as a precautionary measure after high mountain passes on the Manali-Leh highway experienced snowfall. The service is likely to resume in or after June 2022 after the snow melts and roads are cleared.

HRTC regional manager, Keylong, Mangal Chand Manepa said the bus will continue to ply on Keylong-Delhi route.

“The service is suspended on Leh route as high mountain passes on the Leh-Manali highway have been experiencing snowfall on regular intervals,” he said.

The route, which is the longest of HRTC, covering a distance of more than 1,000km, is also the most dangerous as it passes through five highest mountain passes — Rohtang La, Baralacha La, Nakee La, Lachulung La and Tanglang La.

The bus services remained suspended for over 21 months due to Covid before resuming on July 1 this year. Every year, the service is suspended for winters. Source : ht

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Air Deccan takes wings again, flies to Jalgaon

Written by Monday, 18 September 2017 09:34

India’s first low-cost carrier Air Deccan, which ceased operations after being acquired by erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines in 2008, took off wings again as a commuter airline with its maiden flight taking off for Jalgaon from Mumbai on Saturday.

The flight, DN 1320, took off for Jalgaon, around 400 km from here in North Maharashtra, from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) here this afternoon.

“It’s a sense of great beginning. A sense of being fortunate that Air Deccan is taking off again,” Air Deccan chairman Capt G R Gopinath told PTI.

There was a dream of taking flying to every possible corner of the country, which did not come to fruition because of Air Deccan’s merger with the Kingfisher Airlines in 2008, he said.

“Now I have the opportunity to relaunch operations across the country,” said the pioneer of low-cost aviation in India.

The flight was inaugurated by Maharashtra PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil along with Gopinath.

However, the maiden flight was marred by delay. The aircraft took off at around 2.55 pm instead of the scheduled departure of 1.20 pm. It landed at the Jalgaon airport at 4 pm where it was given a traditional water cannon salute.

Air Deccan’s strategic partners Shaishav Shah of Ahmedabad-based GSEC Ltd and Himanshu Shah of Monarch Networth Capital as well as senior DGCA officials were on-board the inaugural flight.

Air Deccan received the scheduled commuter operator (SCO) permit from regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) yesterday.

In the first phase of operations, Air Deccan plans to provide connectivity to Jalgaon, Nashik and Kolhapur from Mumbai and Pune.

Air Deccan had bagged 34 routes in the first phase of bidding for Udan scheme, which caps fares at Rs 2,500 for a flight under hour duration.

For the Jalgaon flight, the airline has pegged fares at Rs 2,250 for 50 per cent of the seats, to be operated under the Regional Connectivity Scheme, while the ticket price for the remaining nine will be Rs 4,500 per seat, an official said.

Air Deccan has deployed a 19-seater plane, Beachcraft B-1900D, (18 passengers and one crew member) on the Mumbai- Jalgaon route. The same aircraft will come back to Mumbai and then fly to Nashik this evening.

Flight operators, awarded routes under the scheme, are entitled to a subsidy to keep fares low for the passengers. An airline has to set aside 50 per cent of its seating capacity at the discounted fares. Source : ht




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GST effect: Rs 800 crore dip in state revenue

Written by Saturday, 16 September 2017 12:18

HYDERABAD: As feared by the Telangana government, the newly introduced Goods andServices Tax (GST) has administered a big shock to the state. In a development that the state is still trying to figure out, the first month of GSTimplementation showed a dip of `800 crore in the revenue.In July, the first month of GST, Telangana received Rs 850 crore under state GST, Rs 690 crore from petroleum products which are not under GST, Rs 500 crore from the sale of liquor, and `150 crore from other taxes. Through central GST, the state contributed around Rs 518 crore and another Rs1,000 crore was estimated to be collected as Integrated GST (IGST), and both these amounts were credited to the Government of India account. A senior official said, "The tax collected on products coming in from other states and consumed here will come under IGST. Though Telangana has a share in that, there is no clarity over the amount to be shared by each state."

Inflicting more pain on the state, the Centre has postponed devolution of central funds to states to 15th of every month as against the first. The delay is creating havoc as states are left with no money after paying salaries, pensions in first week.

Adding to the woes, the Centre has once again extended the date of the filing of GST returns. The due date for the filing of returns for GSTR-1 has been revised to October 10 from September 10. While GSTR-2 has a revised due date of October 31 from September 25, GSTR-3 has been revised to November 10 from September 30. The dates for filing returns of GSTR-4 for the tax period of July to September 2017 remains unchanged at October 18.

"We are now clueless as to when we would get our rightful share in the GST from the Centre as it has to adjust the accounts after the returns are filed," said an official in the revenue department.

In June, a month before the launch of GST, Telangana collected `3,200 crore revenue through commercial taxes, excise, transport and other taxes. After GST came into force in July, the state received only Rs 2,400 crore, which is Rs 800 crore less than what it had earned in the previous month. Another disadvantage for Telangana is that it would not get compensation for loss of revenue as the state already reported more than 14 per cent annual growth in the tax revenue. In the GST regime, states with less than 14 per cent growth are eligible for making a claim for compensation. The figures related to August has not yet been compiled but state officials apprehend that tough days are ahead for the state with regard to the implementation of GST.





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Rupee opens 3 paise down at 64.15 against US dollar

Written by Friday, 15 September 2017 06:38

The rupee on Friday opened 3 paise down at 64.15 against dollar on account of buying in American currency by banks and importers amid persistent foreign capital outflows. 

The local currency on Thursday settled 12 paise down at 64.12 against dollar. 

Foreign portfolio investors sold shares worth a net Rs 762.42 crore on Thursday, as per data available with NSDL. 

Meanwhile, domestic equity markets opened in red following weak global cues. The BSE Sensex opened 34.30 points, or 0.11 per cent, down at 32,207.63, while NSE Nifty index opened 24.25 points, or 0.24 per cent, down at 10,062.35. 

Other Asian stocks were mostly trading lower after North Korea launched a missile in the direction of the east. As per reports, the unidentified missile flew over Japan before landing 2,000 km east of Hokkaido. 

US equities closed mostly lower on Thursday after strong inflation data raised the possibility of tighter monetary policy from the Federal Reserve. However, the Dow index closed at its record high. 





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Mumbai: Pretty soon, your wallets will boast of Rs 100 coins as the government is set to introduce these new coins to commemorate the birth centenary of Bharat Ratna awardee and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister late M G Ramachandran.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Finance, the government will also roll out new Rs 5 coins to mark this occasion. “The coins of the following denominations (Rs 100 and Rs 5) shall also be coined at the Mint for issue under the authority of the Central Government to commemorate the occasion of Dr MG Ramachandran birth centenary,” the Ministry of Finance said in a notification dated September 11.

The newly minted coins will be etched with MGR’s portrait in the centre. The words- 'Dr M G Ramachandran Birth Centenary' will be inscribed in the lower periphery while the same will be inscribed in the Devanagari script on the upper periphery.

The years marking the great actor and politician’s lifetime -'1917-2017' will be etched below his sketch, said the notification.

The reverse side of the coin will bear the Lion Capital of Ashoka Pillar in the centre with the inscription 'Satyamev Jayte'.

The Rs 100 will weigh 35 grams and will be made of 50 per cent silver, 40 per cent copper, 5 per cent nickel and 5 per cent zinc.

The Rs 5 coins will weigh 6 grams and will be made of 75 per cent copper,  20 per cent zinc and 5 per cent nickel.

Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran, popularly known as 'MGR', was the founder of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the ruling party in Tamil Nadu now.

The film actor, who was elected as the chief minister thrice in his lifetime, was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1988. He continues to be a political and cultural icon.




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The Reserve Bank of India used sophisticated Currency Verification and Processing (CVPS) machines for checking the accuracy or the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes.

Quoting a Right To Information (RTI) reply, PTI had earlier reported that RBI was not using machines for counting Specified Bank Notes (SBNs).

The central bank in a late Sunday evening press release said that the "RBI actually uses sophisticated Currency Verification & Processing (CVPS) machines for checking the numerical accuracy and genuineness of the currency notes, including SBNs (including SBNs scrapped on November 8). These machines are way superior to the note counting machines."

According to the PTI report, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had said in an RTI reply that counting machines are "not being used" for tallying the total number of demonetised notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 in any of its offices.

The central bank, which is responsible for printing of currency notes, later said, "With a view to augmenting processing capacity, RBI is using the available machines in two shifts and has been using some machines temporarily drawn from commercial banks after suitable modifications and it is also exploring other options to augment processing capacity even further."

In the RTI reply, RBI refused to give the total number of personnel deployed for counting of the scrapped notes, saying compiling the information would "disproportionately divert" its resources.

"Counting machines are not being used for the purpose in any offices of Reserve Bank of India," the RBI said in the RTI reply dated August 10.

The central bank also said no counting machines were taken on lease to reconcile the total figure of the junked notes.

It was asked to give details about machines being used for counting the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

RBI also denied sharing information on the total number of personnel deployed for counting of the old notes.

"Compiling the information would disproportionately divert the resources, the information sought cannot be furnished as per Section 7 (9) of RTI Act, 2005," the RBI said in its reply to the RTI query filed by a PTI correspondent.

In its annual report for 2016-17 released on August 30, the RBI had said Rs 15.28 lakh crore, or 99 percent of the demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, had returned to the banking system.

It further said that only Rs 16,050 crore out of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore in the old high denomination notes have not returned.

As on November 8, 2016, when the note ban was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there were 1,716 crore pieces of Rs 500 and 686 crore pieces of Rs 1,000 notes in circulation, totalling Rs 15.44 lakh crore, it had added.

RBI is exploring other options to further augment the processing capacity.




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This Is What States Are Demanding From GST Council

Written by Saturday, 09 September 2017 12:24


As the 21st meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council kick-started in Hyderabad on Saturday, various states brought different concerns on board. The demands ranged from the issues faced by businesses in filing their maiden returns for the month of July to concerns over GST being levied on public utility projects. Chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the 21st meeting of the GST Council was being attended by finance ministers of states and GST Secretariat officials.

Over 150 delegates were attending the meet being held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, news agency Indo-Asian News Services (IANS) reported.

Telangana is seeking relief for public utility projects like irrigation schemes, Mission Kakatiya for restoration and revival of tanks and for providing piped drinking water to every household and a two-bed room housing scheme for the poor, IANS said.

Telangana Finance Minister E Rajender said the state would reiterate the demand for scrapping GST on ongoing work contracts or at least reducing it to 5 per cent. The state is also seeking reduction in GST for the granite, marble industry and the beedi sector in view of their huge employment potential.
He said most of the states were supporting reduction in GST on public utility projects.

Telangana argues that its flagship projects were launched before July 1, when GST came into effect, and hence it will not be fair to impose a higher slab.

On the other hand, Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said that the issues faced by GSTN are operational and technical, and these would have happened even if the GST was implemented a year later. Mr Drabu suggested that a group of ministers be formed to look into issues faced by taxpayers on GSTN portal.

Ahead of the meet, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said that although it was claimed that GSTN can handle 3 billion invoices, the glitches in the portal show that GST was implemented in haste. Mr Mitra suggested that a white paper be brought out on the preparedness of GSTN-- the company which operates the IT backbone for GST.

Due to a huge rush of July GSTR-3B return filing on the penultimate date, the GSTN software witnessed glitches and the last date of filing was extended. Also the date of final return filing for GSTR-1 was extended to September 10 in view of rush in invoice uploading.

Ahead of the meeting, Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Y Ramakrishnudu said that he will highlight various demands that the state had made earlier. "After the implementation of GST, as per our initial estimation, the state may see a short fall of Rs. 2,900 crore in revenue," Ramakrishnudu said, reported news agency Press Trust of India. "We also requested the Council to take a lenient view on the tax slab with regard to ongoing government projects. As of today, projects worth about Rs. 20,000 crore are under implementation," he saiid.




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