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LIVE! You can withdraw Rs 4,500 from ATMs from Jan 1

23:57  RBI raises ATM withdrawal limit to Rs 4,500 from Jan 1:   The Reserve Bank of India has raised the cash withdrawal limit from ATMs to Rs 4,500 from Rs 2,500.

In a statement late Friday night, the RBI said: “On a review of the position, the daily limit of withdrawal from ATMs has been increased (within the overall weekly limits specified) with effect from January 1, 2017, from the existing Rs 2500/- to Rs 4500/- per day per card. There is no change in weekly withdrawal limits. Such disbursals should predominantly be in the denomination of Rs 500.”

The decision comes as a surprise as even though queues outside ATMs have reduced over last few weeks, that has not been because the cash shortage issue has been resolved, but because most bank customers have realised that ATMs continue to run dry even one and a half months after the note ban.

Industry experts explain that even though all ATM machines have been recalibrated to dispense new notes, they are running at a fraction of the capacities due to the crunch in currency notes.


22:34  Putin decides against expelling US diplomats in response to sanctions:  

President Vladimir Putin ruled out on Friday expelling anyone in retaliation for Washington’s decision to throw out 35 Russian diplomats and impose sanctions on two of the country’s intelligence agencies.

RIA news agency quoted Putin as saying he would consider the actions of President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office next month, when deciding on further steps in Russia-US relations.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed to Putin that Moscow expel 35 US diplomats and ban US diplomatic staff from using two facilities in Moscow, his ministry said.

This followed President Barack Obama’s decision to expel the 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying and to impose sanctions on the two Russian intelligence agencies over their alleged involvement in hacking US political groups in the 2016 presidential election. Lavrov said the allegations that Russia interfered in US elections were baseless.


21:50  As supporters protest, Akhilesh appeals for restraint:  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s supporters have been staging protests in Lucknow over his expulsion from the Samajwadi Party.

Most of the anger seems to be directed at Shivpal Yadav.

Meanwhile, as the crowd outside Akhilesh’s residence grew restive, the chief minister sent a message through one of his loyalist MLAs that they should exercise restraint.

Akhilesh said he would meet the party legislators on Saturday at 9:30am. He also said he would be available for party workers, leaders and his supporters at noon.

Photograph: ANI

21:38  I-T dept detects Rs 120 cr irregularities in Delhi co-op bank:  

The Income Tax department has detected alleged irregularities worth Rs 120 crore in conversion of old scrapped notes by a co-operative bank in New Delhi. 

The I-T department conducted multiple searches in the bank and also in the residential premises of its executives and after about five days of operations, it detected that a number of RBI guidelines were flouted leading to illegal conversion and exchange of scrapped notes.

It was also found that the bank, post demonetisation, opened a number of new accounts to allegedly facilitate huge deposits using weak Know Your Customer documents.

Officials said the department has seized a number of records from the bank and has summoned a number of bank executives for questioning.

21:36  Plane carrying 6 disappears over Lake Erie near Cleveland:  

US Coast Guard crews searched Lake Erie today for a plane carrying six people that disappeared shortly after takeoff from a small Cleveland airport along the shore.

The Columbus-bound Cessna Citation 525 departed Burke Lakefront Airport late yesterday with three children and three adults aboard and vanished from radar about 2 miles over the lake. Why remains unclear.

Searchers had found no sign of any debris or the people aboard the plane as of today morning, the agency said. Coast Guard official James Cox in Buffalo, New York, also said no emergency beacon had been detected.

Weather prevented a boat search overnight, but a US Coast Guard helicopter and a Canadian air crew in a plane were being used. A ship also was headed from Detroit to help with the search. The waters in the search area are about 50 feet deep, the Coast Guard said.

21:10  ED probes deposits of over Rs 1,500 cr in co-oop banks:  

The Enforcement Directorate is probing some high-value suspicious transactions across the country, including a case where over a dozen cooperative banks deposited Rs 1,596 crore cash in old notes in Mumbai and 205 new bank accounts opened in Allahabad where cash in scrapped notes was remitted.

The agency has registered over 26 criminal cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), arrested 18 people and over 150 inquiries have been launched under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) since November 8, official sources said.

The central probe agency has also detected about 35 Jan Dhan accounts where deposits of more than Rs 10 lakh have been made, after it conducted inquiries at over 50 bank branches country-wide early this month.

The ED is also probing some top 80 jewellers at close to 20 locations in the country for transfer of huge funds in their accounts during the same period,  the sources said.


21:09  RBI allows white label ATMs to source cash from retailers:  

The Reserve Bank today allowed White Label ATM Operators (WLAOs) to source cash from retail outlets as they are facing difficulties in getting cash from banks post demonetisation. 

Following demonetisation, most of the white label ATMs are running dry. 

RBI said that it has been brought to its notice that WLAOs are having difficulties in sourcing cash from their sponsor bank(s).

“In order to facilitate cash availability for WLAOs, it has been decided to allow them to source cash from retail outlets…,” the central bank said in a notification.

White label ATMs are set up by private non-bank companies that own and operate their own brand of ATMs.

For this, WLAOs will have to enter into bilateral arrangement with retail outlets from where they desire to source cash based on their Board approved policy.

21:06   UP CM Akhilesh Yadav directs UP DGP to ensure adequate security is deployed outside Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav’s residence.

21:06  Former Union Minister of State Balasaheb Vikhe Patil passes away after prolonged illness

21:06  Samajwadi Party spokesperson Naved Siddiqui resigns in support of Akhilesh Yadav

20:41  Developments in Samajwadi Party intra-party issue, I am keeping a watch: UP Governor Ram Naik


20:40  George Michael’s post-mortem ‘inconclusive’: Police:  

BBC reports: A post-mortem examination into the cause of George Michael’s death was “inconclusive” police have said.

The singer died aged 53 on Christmas Day at his Oxfordshire home.

More tests will now be carried out to determine what led to his death, Thames Valley Police said in a statement. 

The results of these tests are unlikely to be known for several weeks.

Michael’s death is still being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.

20:38  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav calls for a meeting with all MLAs at 9 am tomorrow.


20:32  NRIs can exchange/deposit junked Rs 500/1,000 till June 3: Fin Min:  

The President on Friday approved the promulgation of the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, 2016 today i.e. on 30th December, 2016.

The Ordinance is a follow-up to the decision taken by the Government of India to cancel the legal tender character of the existing series of banknotes, as on November 8, 2016, in the denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 (Specified Bank Notes-SBNs) in circulation.

According to the ordinance, as was notified on November 8, 2016 those persons who were unable to exchange or deposit the SBNs in their bank accounts on or before December 30, 2016 shall be given an opportunity to do so. 

It states, ‘Accordingly, this facility has been granted to all Indian citizens who were outside India from November 9, 2016 to December 30, 2016 to tender these SBNs at the specified Issue Offices of RBI until March 31, 2017.’ 

‘For those citizens of India who are not resident in India, this facility would be available till June 30, 2017 in order to allow them adequate time to plan a visit as per their convenience.’


20:17  Sports ministry suspends IOA over Kalmadi’s appointment :  The sports ministry has suspended Indian Olympic Association over controversial appointments of scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as its life presidents.   

Chautala, who has been chargesheeted in a disproportionate assets case, and 2010 Commonwealth Games corruption scandal tainted Suresh Kalmadi were made Life Presidents at the IOA’s Annual General Meeting in Chennai on December 27, stunning the Indian sporting fraternity and leaving the Sports Ministry fuming.   

The Indian Olympic Association had been given time till Friday to reply to the show-cause notice issued by Sports Ministry which had threatened derecognition of the sports body if it does not reverse its decision. 


20:10  Arrest all of our MPs, I do not care: Mamata dares PM :  

Demanding that the prime minister should apologise and resign taking responsibility for his “failure” on demonetisation, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today dared the Centre to arrest all the TMC MPs,

charging the Modi government of pursuing “vendetta politics”.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately step down taking responsibility for his failure to give relief to the people even after 50 days of demonetisation,” she told a press conference at the state secretariat.

Furious over the arrest of her party MP Tapas Pal for his alleged involvement in the Rose Valley chit fund scam, the Trinamool Congress supremo said, “He (Modi) can arrest all of our MPs, I do not care. This is nothing but vendetta politics. We will continue with our protest (against demonetisation).

“I came to know that they (CBI) have arrested one of our MPs. It is only because of our protest against ‘notebandi’ that this is happening. This is nothing but vendetta politics.”

Claiming that she has “all the information” about the Centre’s next step, Banerjee said, “I already have the list of my party leaders who will be summoned next (by the CBI).”

Asked if TMC leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay, who too was summoned by the central agency in the same case, would appear before the CBI, Banerjee said, “He will definitely go. He will be proud to go. He has not done anything wrong.

“The SEBI and RBI did not perform their duties by not acting against the chit fund companies. These companies are not under the jurisdiction of our state. They (SEBI and RBI) have given them protection.”

The TMC supremo wondered how could a person, well established in public life as an actor or a sportsperson, be arrested for accepting the hospitality of a company.

19:57  Discount on railway season ticket if payment is made digitally:  

With an aim to promote cashless economy, the railways has offered discount on booking of season tickets and retiring rooms if the payment is made digitally.

The railways has decided that 0.5 per cent discount on base fare of season tickets (monthly, quarterly, half yearly, yearly) in suburban section will be granted from next month if the payment is made through digital means like debit, credit cards.

It has been decided that five per cent discount would be offered on booking of retiring rooms through digital means, a senior railway ministry official said.

Several measures have been initiated offering incentives for booking tickets through digital means with an aim to promote cashless transaction in railways, the official said.

The railways has instructed Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendras to install PoS machines and accept payments made through debit and credit cards of all banks for issuing reserved and unreserved tickets.

Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Sevas have been instructed to accept online payments like e-wallets, Aadhaar enabled payments system for issuing unreserved tickets.

19:49  Ordinance criminalising holding of 500/1,000 rupee notes gets President assent.

19:48  Ramgopal Yadav hits back at Mulayam:  Ramgopal Yadav has called Mulayam’s decision to expel him and Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav from the Samajwadi Party as “illegal”. 

He accused the party chief of indulging in “unconstitutional” activities.

Defiant Ramgopal said he still is the general secretary of the SP and party meet called by him on Sunday will take place in any eventuality.

Hitting out at Ramgopal Yadav, Mulayam said, “No one has the right to call national executive meeting” other than the party chief.”


19:20  Akhilesh to quit as UP CM: Reports :   After being expelled from Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav likely to quit as Uttar Pradesh chief minister, media reports has claimed.   

Earlier, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav expelled Akhilesh and his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years for indiscipline.   

Mulayam said action against both the leaders was necessary to save the party. He said the party will decide on the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.   

The SP chief accused Ram Gopal of indulging in anti-party activities and said that he was weakening the party ahead of the assembly elections.   

Hitting out at Ram Gopal Yadav, Mulayam said, “No one has the right to call national executive meeting” other than the party chief.”


19:06  Akhilesh Yadav’s supporters gather outside his residence after Mulayam Singh Yadav expelled the UP CM from the Samajwadi Party for six years. 


19:01  Mulayam expels Akhilesh, Ram Gopal from SP:  

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has expelled Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years for indiscipline.

Addressing a press conference which was attended by his brother Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam said,”To save the party, we have expelled both Ram Gopal and Akhilesh Yadav for six years from the party.” 

“Akhilesh doesn’t understand, Ram Gopal is trying to weaken him,” he added.

“I have worked really hard to make this party, what was their role in this? I work hard and they reap the fruits?” Mulayam said.

On October 23, Ramgopal Yadav was expelled from the party for six years. But weeks after he was reinstated into the party.

Earlier, Mulayam issued a show cause notice to Akhilesh and his brother Ram Gopal Yadav. The notice asked why action should not be taken against him. 

The SP supremo had also called a meeting of all candidates named by him for the Uttar Pradesh elections on Saturday morning in what is intended to emphasise that they are the party’s official nominees and he, the unchallenged boss.

18:23  Narinder Batra resigns as IOA’s Associate VP in protest against appointments of Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Chautala as IOA’s life Presidents. 

18:15  Heavy cross-border firing by Pakistan army along the Line of Control in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, reports news agency PTI.

18:12  Russia will not expel US diplomats in tit-for-tat move:  

Russian president Vladimir Putin has rejected a suggestion of the foreign ministry to expel 35 American diplomats in response to a similar move by the US. 

He said Obamas act was designed to provoke a reaction, but Russia would not take the bait.

We reserve the right to retaliate, but we will not sink to the level of this irresponsible kitchen diplomacy. We will take further moves on restoring Russian-American relations based on the policies that the administration of President-elect Donald Trump adopts, Putin said in a statement.

United States President Obama launched a Cold War strike on Russia and its spies on Thursday, accusing them of hacking the presidential election on orders from Vladimir Putin.

He ordered 35 Russian intelligence operatives to leave the country as part of sanctions ordered for what he said where the countrys attempts to interfere with democratic governance and harassment of U.S. diplomatic officials in Russia.


17:46  Sensex ends volatile 2016 on robust note, sprints 260 pts:  Stocks signed off 2016 on a cheerful note, with the Sensex surging over 260 points today to close at over a fresh two-week high of 26,626 on the final trading session of the year, amid positive Asian cues.

The Nifty rose 82.20 points, or 1.01 per cent, to end at 8,185.80, after touching the day’s high of 8,197.


17:45  Rupee closes stronger against dollar on last session of 2016:  

The Indian rupee today closed stronger against the US dollar on last day of the year 2016, tracking the gains in the local equity and Asian currencies markets. 

The rupee closed at 67.93 per US dollar, up 0.25% from its previous close of 68.10. 


17:22  Mulayam slaps show cause notice to Akhilesh:  Just in: SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav issues a show cause notice to UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and his brother Ram Gopal Yadav. The notice asks why action should not be taken against him.

Mulayam Singh Yadav has called a meeting of all candidates named by him for the Uttar Pradesh elections on Saturday morning in what is intended to emphasise that they are the party’s official nominees and he, the unchallenged boss.

The ruling Samajwadi Party is seeming to hurtle towards a split just before assembly elections in the state, after Akhilesh Yadav released a parallel list of candidates, which includes several party leaders who are close to him and who did not make it to the list released by his father, Mulayam Singh.


17:13  Make 5 digital transactions, it will become a habit: [email protected] App launch:   PM Modi at the launch of Bhim App: Babasaheb’s contribution is come to the centre stage. This app is very simple.

You can use it on smartphones, on Rs. 1000-1200 feature phones, it is not necessary to have internet.

There is a new feature being tested, and when it comes, the power of BHIM will know no bounds.

You won’t need any app, any smartphone or internet. Your thumb print will be enough.

This is such a big revolution. There was time when illiterates used to be called angootha chhaap. And this angootha (thumb) will become the basis of all transactions.

No matter how far a country has gone, even for them, they have to go to Google, ask Google Guru what is BHIM.

At first they will see Bhim from Mahabharat. If they dig deeper they will find Bharat Ratna Bhimrao Ambedkar.

This was the goal of his life, to empower the poor. And this is what the app will do. This is the poor’s treasure.

This will empower the poor, the farmers, the tribal people. And that is why this is named after the man who dedicated his life to the downtrodden.

There are some prosperous countries in the world. When they find out that there are crores in India who vote by pressing buttons and start getting results in 2 hours. They are stunned because it takes them weeks to do the same.

The country which is considered illiterate by some is an example to the world in this digital revolution.

There are some people who wake up in disappointment and go to bed in disappointment. They can keep doing so, there is no cure for that yet.

Some people don’t realise billions are already traded digitally in share markets.
They think Modi has brought digital transactions, there must be something wrong with it.

Some intellectuals come up and say the country is illiterate, poor, how can they do digital transactions?

I have no cure for such pessimism. But I have solutions for the optimistic.

BHIM is not an ordinary thing. It will be a common platform. This is the best vision for 2017.

3 years ago, the news was how much we lost in 2G, coal scam… Now the news is about how much has come back.

PM Modi targets Congress on notes ban criticism: I am surprised. One neta said, “You dug a ditch to find a little bird I wanted to find that bird, it eats away everything from within.”

I’ll take this time to thank the friends in the media. When they decide something, it gets done. They campaigned against the red lights, netas hesitate to use them today. They campaigned for seat belts, people started wearing them. They campaigned for wearing helmets, people started wearing them. This is not a small service. They have taken up the Swachhata campaign.

I am a positive person, I see only the good in the media. In the coming days, media can do a great service.

The fact that media raised the issue of highlighting not everybody has smartphones made the government think that BHIM should work on feature phones. Soon, they will start asking people if they are using BHIM.

India used to be the golden bird, it became a poor country for our own mistakes. But it still has the potential to become that golden bird once again.

The country wants to run on the path of honesty, we must encourage that.
India’s greatest strength is ability to fight against its own evils. What we have seen after November 8, proves it. Some people brought these evils upon us, some gave it way. But it spread like termites. But people want the path of honesty.

It wasn’t a small feat, 86 per cent currency gone away in one move. And the country is still moving ahead, the world was stunned. This is the power that will take India ahead.

The poor have the first right to the country’s resources. You cannot fight poverty with slogans.

The country in which one party fought the 2014 elections on how many subsidised cylinders to give 9 or 12.

There comes a government which asks people to give up the subisidies. And see what happened. 1.2 crore families have given away the subsidy.

I want to tell each one of you to do at least 5 digital transactions. It will then become a habit.

17:02  Expected China to be more understanding: MEA on Azhar deadlock:  China blocks proposal at UN to list Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist; MEA reacts, says expected China to be more understanding. The inability of the international community to list Masood Azhar as designated terrorist is a blow to counter terrorism efforts; shows double standards, says MEA.  The decision by China to block the proposal to list Masood Azhar as terrorist is surprising as China herself is affected by scourge of terrorism. 

16:46  PM launches E-wallet Bhim App:   Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a mobile app to make digital payments easier at Digi-Dhan Mela in Delhi. Highlights…

Government of India has launched a gift under which for the next 100 days, every day 15,000 people will win prizes through lucky draw.

These prizes will go to those who transact between 50,000 – 3 lakh online. This is so that poor people get the prize.

Today we also had a draw for the Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana. This will happen once a week.

This is for those sellers who can encourage customers to buy products through digital mode

On Babasaheb Ambedkar’s birth anniversary – April 14 – there will be a mega draw which will see prizes worth crores.

I want to thank people for embracing digital transactions.

But the most important thing we have done is launch a new app called BHIM. It will be compatible with all phones.

Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar was an economist. The RBI was born on principles he wrote in his thesis.

Mantra of Dr Ambedkar was to work for the upliftment of the poor. And the biggest power of technology is that it can empower the poor. For those with a positive mindset, India has several opportunities.

People can bank with their thumb.

In two weeks, payment through use of biometric finger print will start in India.

Kuch log hote hain jinka subah nirasha se hi start hota hai; aise nirashawadi logon ko unki nirasha mubarak.

Look at the newspapers 3 years ago, the news was about what is lost (in scams), today it is about what has come back or what is the gain.

Digital connectivity can do wonders for India and can empower poor.


16:23  CBI arrests TMC MP Tapas Pal :  CBI arrests TMC MP Tapas Pal. Bengali film actor and MP Paul was arrested by the CBI after he reached the CBI office in North 24 Parganas today. Pal was summoned by the investigative body in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam case.

TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien reacts saying atrocities against those who opposed notes ban. We will fight it.


15:44  ED slaps money laundering case against hate preacher Zakir Naik :  The Enforcement Directorate registers a criminal case against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik under money laundering laws. The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police has been investigating the foreign funding of Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation and the ED has referred to the polices findings in this regard as well.

The central government recently banned the IRF and declared it as a terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for five years.

In an open letter, Naik, 51, who is abroad, said he will pursue all legal options to get the ban repealed and that the judiciary will fail the Modi government in its ‘plans’.

Naik has been booked along with unnamed IRF officials under section 153-A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) beside various sections of UAPA.


15:30  In the drink :   Passenger bus falls into a canal in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh; Police at the spot; Rescue operation underway, reports ANI. 

15:23  Sanjiv Bhatt (IPS) @sanjivbhatt  From “I promise to pay the bearer” to “I promise to arrest the bearer”… all it took was 50 days.

Bhatt, a former Gujarat police officer, was first sacked and then suspended from service. He had taken on then Chief Minister Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots. In a Facebook post, Bhatt said he was sacked “after conducting a sham, ex parte inquiry on completely fabricated charges”.

15:18  CBI carries out searches at two locations including the offices of OSD of Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain.

15:17  BJP to support “only” Pema Khandu in Arunachal Pradesh:  The BJP in Arunachal Pradesh today made it clear that it will “only” support Pema Khandu government in the state and “will never” support any other chief minister. The party decision came in the backdrop of the unprecedented political development where Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA) temporarily suspended Chief Minister Pema Khandu, his deputy Chowna Mein and other five MLAs late last night for alleged anti-party activities.

14:45  Rahul Gandhi’s 5 questions to PM on demonetisation are… :  Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi poses five questions to PM Narendra Modi on demonetisation. Rahul tweeted the questions saying:

“India is waiting for your answers Modiji

— Amount of black money recovered after 8th November 2016?

— Economic loss to the nation and number of jobs lost?

— How many people died due to demonetisation, has the compensation been paid?

— Who all did the PM consult on demonetisation? Why were experts, economists, RBI not consulted?

Who all dedpositd more than Rs 25 lakhs in bank accounts, in 6 months preceeding 8th november 2016.”

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has been attacking the Prime Minister over demonetisation, accusing him of practising politics of fear and anger and exhorted party men to defeat his ideology.

14:10  RBI’s stress test shows further worsening of bank’s asset quality:  Bank’s asset quality that has been under pressure may deteriorate even further if the macroeconomic condition takes a beating, a stress test undertaken by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) suggests.

The quantum of bad loans may cross the 10 per cent mark at the system level in the next financial year, the test suggested.

As per the Financial Stability Report published by RBI, the stress test indicated that under the baseline scenario, the Gross Non Performing Assets (GNPA) ratio may increase from 9.1 per cent in September 2016 to 9.8 per cent by March 2017. This could further increase to 10.1 per cent by March 2018.

Nupur Anand
/Business Standard


13:50  Navjot Sidhu Cong’s CM face for Punjab: Kejriwal:  Just in: Navjot Singh Sidhu is Cong’s CM face in Punjab, says Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and added that AAP had offered Sidhu the deputy CM’s chair, but he refused.

Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, said Sidhu has been telling people that one of the reasons the couple didn’t join AAP was because the party refused tickets to their ‘favourites’ named by her husband, a former BJP MP.

Navjot Kaur Sidhu is the likely Congress candidate from Amritsar (East) Assembly constituency. After failure of talks with AAP, the couple, who quit BJP this year, had claimed they had not demanded any ticket from the party.


13:42  Bengaluru software firms seek flexi working hours:  Software firms in Bengaluru have asked the state government to relax the laws on working hours and allow flexi-timings for engineers, which would help them engage employees better and tackle competition for talent from Chennai and Hyderabad.

Under the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, engineers are not allowed to work beyond the stipulated nine hours. Software firms want Karnataka to replicate the policy adopted in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where they account work to a total of 48 hours a week than on a daily basis.

“We should have flexi hours. The government should leave it to the employers to determine the working hours. There is acute labour shortage in Bengaluru and we need to create more jobs. The way to do this is to create more jobs with flexible labour working condition,” says TV Mohandas Pai, former Infosys director and chairman of Aarin Capital.

Bengaluru, India’s technology hub, employs a million workers in the software and back office sector, contributing to a third of India’s software exports. It also has emerged as a hub for start-ups, where engineers work on solving business problems locally as well as target overseas customers. As they work on deadlines, organisations say that the government should bring progressive laws to bring in flexi-timing.

Anita Babu & Ayan Pramanik/Business Standard


13:40  Frauds in banking sector see an uptick:  The Financial Stability Report has raised concerns over the increase in frauds due to technological innovations.

“In the recent past, frauds in the technology environment have accentuated through malware attacks and skimming frauds in ATMs, misuse of SWIFT messages by employees and attacks on the SWIFT messaging system of a bank,” the report said.

The Reserve Bank of India said with the increase in ATM penetration, it was important that transactions at ATMs were carried out in a more secure manner.

Another area of concern for the central bank has been instances of large-scale forex remittances in the guise of import advances/payments.

While banks may not have any credit exposures to such parties remitting forex, misuse of banking channels for such remittances is a serious concern, and, therefore, banks need to enhance rigour in their data analytics and reporting structures to aid board level governance, the report said.

Nupur Anand/Business Standard

13:37  Demonetisation effect: Smaller firms help shore up advance tax numbers:  While advance corporation tax collections from large companies have been muted in the third quarter, robust tax payments by smaller firms may have made up for the shortfall.

Advance corporation tax posted a 10% growth in the first three quarters, against 8% in the first half of the financial year, said an official. This meant that growth in tax numbers was more than 10% in the third quarter (up to December 15). The growth in the first three quarters of the previous financial year was only seven%, the official added. Small and medium players may have reported higher earnings in their books to explain large unaccounted cash in old notes.

Dilasha Seth/Business Standard


13:36  Demonetisation did NOT affect foreign tourist arrivals: Tourism ministry :  The ministry of tourism’s November report card after demonetization.

The ministry, in a press release, said the Government has taken a number of steps to ensure that no hardship is faced by the tourists and the industry is not affected. The Archaeological Survey of India smoothly transitioned to cashless mode of payment by simplifying the process of etickets.

The ministry said the government’s efforts have paid dividends as there has been a notable growth in the comparative figures of Foreign Tourists Arrival Foreign Exchange Earnings  and online sale of e tickets after demonetization.

For intstance foreign tourist arrivals for 2016 grew to 8.91 lakh in November as compared to 8.16 lakh for the same month last year. Forex earnings grew 14.4 per cent over last year.

The tourism ministry said that demonization did not have any impact  on the foreign tourist arrivals and Foreign Exchange Earnings.

It may also be noted that the number of e-tickets sold during 09-11-2016 to 08-12-2016 increase to 28,176 from 2807 during 09-10-2016 to 08-11-2016 with corresponding amount being Rs 181.49 lakh and Rs. 3.10 lakh respectively.

It can therefore be seen that sale of etickets and earnings from have increased significantly by 10 and 58 times respectively as people are buying tickets for ASI monuments online through cashless payments. 


13:27  Mulayam calls meeting with his list of candidates tomorrow :  The ruling Samajwadi Party may be heading towards a split ahead of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Ramgopal Yadav, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother, said he stands  stands Akhilesh. Speaking to news channels, he said he was not consulted over the candidates list and chances of an agreement on the list of candidates was unlikely. 

Mulayam Singh has said that he will meet the candidates on his list at 10:30 am tomorrow. India Today reports that the Congress has begun its back channel talks with Akhilesh.

The UP Chief Minister defiantly released a list of candidates for seats already allotted by his father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to others on Thursday night. His list of 235 candidates includes several party leaders who are close to Akhilesh and who did not make it to the party’s official list announced a day before by Mulayam Singh Yadav. The rebels said they have been asked by the chief minister to go back to their constituencies and prepare to contest the elections. 


13:20  Seven miners dead in Lalmatia colliery mishap in Jharkhand:  Seven miners were killed and several others feared trapped following a mishap in Lalmatia opencast coal mine at Rajmahal area of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) last night.

“So far, bodies of seven miners have been recovered from the mine. Rescue work is on,” R R Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, told PTI. There was a cave-in at the mine in Godda district at around 7.30 PM last night when excavators and tippers were working there following which rescue operations were launched immediately, Mishra said.

Director General of Mines Safety and senior officials were there to supervise the rescue operation, Mishra said. Police said two persons were injured in the incident and were being treated at a hospital.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Minister Raghubar Das over phone and took stock of the situation. The PM said Jharkhand Government and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal were “working to restore normalcy”. The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF)has been engaged for rescue & relief operations.

13:17  Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to address a Press Conference today at 5 pm.

12:56  Saibaba temple gets Rs 31.73 cr in donations post note-ban:  

The Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust has received donations of Rs 31.73 crore during the past 50 days post the government’s demonetisation move, an

official said today.

These donations include Rs 4.53 crore in the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and Rs 3.80 crore in the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes denominations, said Sachin Tambe, one of the trustees of the Saibaba Sansthan.

During the last 50 days, the Sansthan received Rs 18.96 crore in donation boxes, Rs 4.25 crore, including Rs 2.62 crore through credit/debit cards, at its various donation counters, Rs 3.96 crore through bank demand drafts, Rs 1.46 crore in donations online and Rs 35 lakh through money orders.

Apart from cash donations, the trust also received gold ornaments weighing nearly 2.90 kg worth around Rs 73 lakh and silver ornaments of 56 kg worth about Rs 18 lakh, he said.


12:16  Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s office burgled:  

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s office in Vinod Nagar area of his Patparganj constituency in east Delhi has been burgled, with the thieves decamping with computers, documents, CCTV camera DVR among others, police said today.

“Some materials have been stolen from the reception area of the office which is in the process of being shifted. The burglary is expected to have taken place late last night. The matter is being probed,” said a senior police officer.

Two computers, letter pad, hard disk, documents, digital video recorder of CCTV camera among others were stolen by the burglars who entered the premises by breaking the lock of the office, sources said.

Police said they received a burglary call at around 9:20 am following which a team was sent to the spot.

“The whole office was ransacked and we we are trying to ascertain what others item are missing. The office was locked at 2:30 am yesterday, In-charge of the office Upendra said.

The matter is being probed, police added. 


12:07  Takam Pario likely to be next chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh:  

The ruling Peoples Party of Arunachal on Friday is likely to name Takam Pario, the richest MLA in Arunachal Pradesh with declared assets of Rs 187 crore, as its leader in the assembly as well as the chief minister of the northeastern state, a senior party leader said.

With continuous protests within the Peoples Party of Arunachal  against the leadership of Pema Khandu, the present chief minister of the state, the party president sent a letter to the Speaker and Governor informing them that the CM and six MLA’s have been suspended from the party.

The party will now meet on Friday around 2 pm to decide the new face of leadership in the state and next chief minister too.

Peoples Party of Arunachal president Khafa Bengia said the party is not happy with the leadership of Pema Khandu, and that he has not been able to take the party into confidence on policy decisions.


11:54  Asuras trying to disturb demonetisation yagna, quips Naidu :  Comparing the Opposition to an ‘asura’ who tries to disturb peace during a ‘yagna’, NDA managers lashed out at them while hailing the success of demonetisation.

As the scrapping of high-value bank notes completed 50 days, information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu claimed the move improved cashless transactions without affecting agriculture.

He also took potshots at the Opposition, saying, “Some asuras always try to disturb peace during yagna (demonetisation).” He added, “India has changed but the Congress has not changed”, while claiming that despite demonetisation, rabi crops were sown in 573.42 lakh hectares, which is higher than the average sowing for the past five years at 539.06 lakh hectare.

Naidu dubbed the note ban an effective “anti-scam vaccine’ and said demonetisation was an anti-corruption plan as per their 2014 mandate.


11:47  Defiant Akhilesh calls for SP core group meet today :   This son won’t be eclipsed.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has called for a Samajwadi Party core group meeting at his residence on Kalidas Marg in Lucknow today.

The meet is to be held shortly and is expected to see the participation of both, senior leaders and young leaders.

On Thursday, Akhilesh released a list of 235 candidates out of a total of 403 seats for the upcoming state assembly elections, a day after his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had released the official list, hinting at a deepening crisis within the party.

Some pro-Akhilesh MLAs had earlier said that an unhappy chief minister was likely to release a parallel list of candidates for the state assembly elections slated.

Intense political activities continued at the Samajwadi Party headquarters and at official residence of the chief minister yesterday. Akhilesh met Mulayam Singh, but as per sources, the party chief refused to make changes in the list of 325 candidates issued by him on Wednesday.

“We have declared list of 325 candidates for the 2017 assembly polls. 78 seats still remain. Name of candidates for rest of the 78 seats will be announced soon,” Mulayam had said while announcing the list.

11:31  Dalits discriminated in Vardah relief, says study:  Relief measures extended to those affected in the cyclone Vardah, which hit the city on December 12, had not reached the Dalits, but only the dominant castes, in the villages of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts, according to a study by an NGO working on Human rights. Read more

11:26  Jharkhand mine collapse: 4 bodies recovered, 1 visible :   Rescue teams recover four bodies till now, one more body visible; work underway, says Rajiv Ranjan Mishra CMD of the Jharkhand coal mine.

At least 50 workers are feared trapped under the debris of a 200-feet deep mine collapse in Lalmatia, Jharkhand. Rescue operations have begun, while one NDRF team from Ranchi and three teams from Patna are en route. CISF workers have begun rescue ops.

Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das said he is monitoring the situation closely, and asks concerned officials to intensify rescue operations. Three excavators, seven dumpers were identified at the mining site where the incident took place. Officials told ANI that according to rules, one person is allowed per equipment and as two dumper drivers fled during the incident, the number of people trapped may actually be less than seven. The CM has asked concerned officials to intensify rescue operations.

Image: An upturned dumper truck at the mine

11:18  A day of mishaps… Now, the roof of a godown collapses in Lucknow after fire broke out, labourers feared trapped.

11:07  Not engaged, says Virat:   Virat Kohli rubbishes reports of engagement: We aren’t getting engaged and if we were going to, we wouldn’t hide it. 

10:42  Jharkhand mine collapse: 50 people feared trapped :  At least 50 workers are feared trapped under the debris of a mine collapse in Lalmatia, Jharkhand. Rescue operations have begun, while one NDRF team from Ranchi and three teams from Patna are en route.

Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das said he is monitoring the situation closely, and asks concerned officials to intensify rescue operations. Three excavators, seven dumpers were identified at the mining site where the incident took place. Officials told ANI that according to rules, one person is allowed per equipment and as two dumper drivers fled during the incident, the number of people trapped may actually be less than seven. The CM has asked concerned officials to intensify rescue operations.

Image: The site of the mine collapse. Officials have put the figure of people trapped as between seven and 50. Pic courtesy: ANI


10:33  Cold waves grip Delhi; train, flight services affected :  As the dense fog continues to grip northern India, due to the fall in temperature, several train and flight services have been affected on Friday morning.

As many as 13 international and 13 domestic flights, arriving and departing from Delhi, got delayed due to foggy weather while two domestic flights were cancelled.

At least 54 trains were delayed and 12 were rescheduled due to poor visibility and other operational reasons. The meteorological department has predicted that the nation will witness an ‘above normal’ winter this season.

10:23  Counterview: Taimur’s actions were uniquely horrific in Indian history:  The unlikeliest of events set off bitter historical debates in India. Last week, it was the name actors Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan gave their newborn child. What should have been a purely personal decision became an occasion for Hindutva trolls to excoriate the couple on social media.

This is why Taimur was one of the bloodiest conquerors.  Read

10:06  Sensex gains:  Stock market got off to a positive start in the final trading session of 2016, with the benchmark Sensex surging 211 points to 26,577 on widespread gains amid further strength in the rupee.

09:55  Pune bakery fire: 6 workers locked in die of suffocation :  At least six people have been killed in a fire at a bakery in Maharashtra’s Pune.

The fire broke out early this morning at the “Bakes and Cakes” shop on the ground floor of a multistorey building. A short-circuit is believed to be the cause.

Workers sleeping inside the bakery were trapped as the door was bolted from outside, and suffocated. “The fire wasn’t very big but since there was no outlet, the workers inside died of suffocation,”said a fire official.

The police are investigating why the workers were locked in.

09:45  Russia shuts down American School of Moscow in retaliation of US sanctions :  Russia has ordered the closure of the American School of Moscow in retaliation of U.S. sanctions.This comes after the United States on Thursday ordered 35 Russian diplomats in Washington and San Francisco to leave the country in the next 72 hours as a realiatory measure against Russian election hack.

The order from the Russian Government closes the school, which serves children of US, British and Canadian embassy personnel, to US and foreign nationals, reports the CNN.

The order also closes access to the U.S. embassy vacation house in Serebryany Bor, near Moscow.The U.S. administration described Russia’s involvement as “Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” and sanctioned four Russian individuals and five Russian entities for what it said was election interference.

However, Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin have denied all allegations regarding meddling in the U.S. presidential election.


09:21  After 50 days, only 40 per cent machines have cash:  

Fifty days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation policy, an acute shortage of currency persists at ATMs across the country with only 35-40 per cent of the 2.2 lakh machines dispensing cash, according to leading deployers.

According to Ramaswamy Venkatachalam, managing director, India and South Asia of Fidelity Information Services, a banking and payments technology provider, banks are still not able to provide the full cash requirement for running ATMs on a 247 basis.

While all ATMs have been recalibrated to hold and dispense new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500, a number of them are only dispensing the higher-denomination note because of the shortage of notes of lesser value.

09:10  JUST IN: Many feared dead as a major fire has broken out in a Pune bakery. 

More details are awaited. 


08:17  RBI approved PM’s note ban bid 3 hours before announcement:  

The Reserve Bank of India board approved the move to ban high denomination notes less than three hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision in a televised address to the nation.

Information on how many members favoured or opposed the move isnt on record, RBI said in response to queries from Bloomberg News under the Right to Information Act. 

Power minister Piyush Goyal had told lawmakers on November 16, that it was the authoritys 10-member board that came up with the idea.

The decision to withdraw the legal tender character of the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to the central government was taken at 5:30 pm on November 8, at a board meeting, RBI said in its responses.

The banks board consists of governor Patel, his three deputies R Gandhi, S S Mundra and N S Vishwanathan along with a host of eminent personalities, including the economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das.


07:55  Rs 4,200 crore in dirty cash detected since November 8:  

The income tax department detected undisclosed income of close to Rs 4,200 crore.

Since November 8, nearly 1,000 surveys and search and seizure operations were conducted across the country. Between December 22 and 28, over 200 such operations were undertaken, data available with the department showed.

Of the Rs 458 crore cash seizures, Rs 105 crore, which is a tad under a quarter, was in new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000, indicating the widespread use of banking and cash mules to convert old currency into new ones, which is stored as cash in offices and homes.

The move mounted through field offices is meant to identify those who used various tools — from depositing in banks to buying gold and jewellery soon after PM Narendra Modi announced demonetisation on November 8 — to try and protect their unaccounted wealth which was stashed away in the form of cash.


01:42  Serena Williams engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian:  

CNN reports: Tennis star Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian are engaged.

A spokesperson for Ohanian confirmed that he popped the question while the two were vacationing in Rome. 

Williams first announced the news herself in a Reddit post on its “r/isaidyes” forum.

“I came home/A little late/Someone had a bag packed for me/And a carriage awaited” Williams said in her Reddit post, which was written like a poem and had a cartoon of the couple at the top. 

“Destination: Rome/To escort me to my very own ‘charming’/Back to where our stars first collided/And now it was full circle/At the same table we first met by chance/This time he made it not by chance/But by choice/Down on one knee/He said 4 words/And/r/isaidyes.”


00:52  US expels 35 Russian diplomats, closes two compounds:  

The United States on Thursday expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland in response to a campaign of harassment by Russia against American diplomats in Moscow, a senior US official said.

The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the Russian diplomats would be given 72 hours to leave the United States.

Access to the two compounds will be denied to all Russian officials as of noon on Friday, the official added.

“These actions were taken to respond to Russian harassment of American diplomats and actions by the diplomats that we have assessed to be not consistent with diplomatic practice,” the official told Reuters.

00:49  Egypt approves deal to hand over islands to Saudis:  

Egypt’s government has approved a deal to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia and sent it to parliament for ratification, despite a legal dispute over the plan, according to state television.

The deal, announced in April, caused public uproar and protests by Egyptians who said the uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir belonged to their country.

The controversy has become a source of tension with Saudi Arabia, which has provided Egypt with billions of dollars of aid but recently halted fuel shipments amid deteriorating relations.

In June, Egypt’s higher administrative court annulled the agreement, saying Egyptian sovereignty over the islands could not be given up. The Egyptian government lodged an appeal.


00:48  Arunachal crisis: Ram Madhav says BJP will stand by CM Khandu:  

The newly formed People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh is in a crisis. The newly-formed outfit has suspended its own chief minister Pema Khandu, son of former chief minister Dorji Khandu, who died in a helicopter crash four years back.

The reason for the sudden shift in position is not known but the PPA has decided to suspend seven MLAs. 

A floor test is expected to take place in Itanagar on Friday.

Sources say that the ruling party decided to do away with the chief minister because of his continued closeness with the Congress.

Sources indicate that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was pretty much clued into the affairs of the development, which took place in the north-eastern state. 

Ram Madhav, BJP general secretary, who is in charge of the state, said: “The president does not have the power to remove the chief minister. BJP is supporting Pema Khandu’s government. The chairman can only do so. Let’s see what happens.”

Source: Rediff