The Next Singapore Or Dubai? India's New Finance Hub Has Big Plans

Ndtv | 1 month ago | 29-11-2022 | 03:09 pm

The Next Singapore Or Dubai? India's New Finance Hub Has Big Plans

GIFT City occupies 886 acres between Gandhinagar and AhmedabadIndia's newest financial hub is rising from scrubland near the banks of the Sabarmati river once dominated by marsh birds and grazing buffalo.In Gujarat, just a few glass-fronted towers greet the 20,000 employees of companies such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holdings Plc who commute in each weekday. Its full name is Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, but it's more commonly known as GIFT City. It occupies 886 acres between Gujarat's capital, Gandhinagar, and Ahmedabad, its biggest city. As of October, bankers managed a combined $33 billion here.What's drawing these companies? An exemption from the many rules and taxes that hamper business and trading in the rest of India. GIFT City is an experiment in free markets nestled inside a $3 trillion economy - one of the world's fastest-growing - that's long been reluctant to let its national currency, the rupee, become a plaything of international investors. The goal is to create a welcoming place where India-centric trading that's moved to Dubai, Mauritius or Singapore can return home.At first, Gujarat seems an unlikely location. On the west coast, it's the ninth-most populous state-and, as a mark of respect for Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in Gujarat, it bans the sale of alcohol, that lubricant for many a financial deal. Narendra Modi started planning GIFT City in 2008, when he was still the Chief Minister, and his ascension to Prime Minister in 2014 allowed him to give the project more policy help and a higher profile. In a July speech to bankers, regulators and executives from India and overseas, he proclaimed that "the vision of India's future is associated with GIFT City."Prime Minister Modi's government has offered an array of incentives, including a 100% tax holiday for a decade to businesses that set up within the hub's International Financial Services Center, or IFSC. Rules are being tweaked to encourage Indian companies to lease ships and aircraft through GIFT City rather than on foreign shores. Foreign universities will eventually be allowed to bypass regulations to open local campuses, and companies can use an international arbitration centre to avoid India's notoriously poor contract enforcement mechanisms.A key concern that the financial centre seeks to address is India's lack of full convertibility of its currency. Converting money into foreign currencies requires cumbersome documentation, and that's pushed trading in rupees and rupee-denominated financial assets to offshore centres that Indian regulators can't monitor. But within GIFT City most of these rules don't apply, enabling onshore trading in key currency derivatives contracts, which can counteract some of the effects that offshore trades have on the rupee exchange rate.Another product has migrated to the financial centre: a popular derivative based on a benchmark gauge of Indian stocks that was traded on the Singapore Stock Exchange. In 2022 the National Stock Exchange opened a cross-border trading link with Singapore - similar to the Hong Kong-Shanghai connect - to allow global investors to trade stock derivatives listed on the Indian market without needing to set up shop in India.Trading volumes have increased since a single regulator, the IFSC Authority, was created by the government in 2020 to streamline approvals and oversight in the special economic zone. In October, average daily turnover on the two stock exchanges in the financial center climbed to $14.6 billion, from $3.4 billion two years before, cumulative derivative transactions by banks jumped to $466 billion, from $22 billion, and cumulative banking transactions rose to $303 billion, from $45 billion."Beyond the shores of India, in some of those centres where India-centric business developed, they are able to notice that something is happening, and things may not be the same in the future," says Injeti Srinivas, the IFSC Authority's chairman. "Business is gravitating toward IFSC."A new international bullion exchange will let qualified jewellers directly import gold through GIFT City, a change from current rules permitting only some banks and nominated agencies approved by the central bank to do so. That loosening of restrictions is set to widen the importer base in India, the world's second-biggest consumer. An aircraft leasing and financing business is operating in GIFT City to tap into the demand of one of the world's hottest aviation markets for new-plane orders. Ship leasing will start soon.In July, JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank AGstarted operations in GIFT City. JPMorgan will initially offer clients foreign exchange derivatives and wants to leverage its position as one of the largest suppliers of physical bullion in the country. Deutsche Bank aims to tap the rising number of companies in India that need cross-border banking services, ranging from hedging to financing. (In 2018, Bloomberg LP, the owner of Bloomberg Markets, entered into an agreement to provide capital markets expertise to GIFT City.)"We think the GIFT City policy is a calibrated approach toward internationalisation of the rupee," says Srinivasan Varadarajan, a managing director in global emerging markets at Deutsche Bank in Mumbai. "It is similar in some characteristics to what has been seen in Asia over the last decade."Jaxay Shah, founder and managing director of property developer Savvy Infrastructure Pvt., is among the people betting on this growth. His company, which built the tower that houses Bank of America Corp. offices and the IFSCA's temporary headquarters, has purchased two nearby plots to double its holdings in GIFT City. "When else in my career would I get this kind of smart city, where there is an economic vision and no red tape?" Mr Shah says.GIFT City is the first in India to offer district cooling, an energy-efficient air conditioning system, as well as central waste, water and electricity management. Although it offers beautiful streets and boulevards and pristine sports centres, plus recent additions including a school and a hospital, workers tend to disappear in the evenings, taking electric buses to homes in nearby cities that have amenities such as cinemas and fast-food restaurants.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comSome younger executives in Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat, who asked not to be identified because they weren't authorised to comment, say they're often questioned on calls about whether alcohol will be permitted. Multiple policymakers and lawmakers told Bloomberg Markets that they expect authorities will provide yet another rule exemption-to allow licences to buy and consume alcohol. The state government realises it needs to amend its teetotaller requirements to attract residents and ensure the project's success, they say.And that, in a nutshell, is the story of GIFT City: an oasis in which companies can escape rules and bureaucracy. An attempt to lure billions of dollars back to onshore markets. A "sandbox" in which fintechs can play with new products with seamless links to global systems. Perhaps even a vision for India's future.Featured Video Of The DayTelangana Politician YS Sharmila's Car Towed Away By Cops With Her In It

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Madras University students screen BBC documentary ‘to protect democracy’
Times of India | 15 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 08:07 pm
Times of India
15 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 08:07 pm

CHENNAI: A group of Madras University students on Friday screened a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. They were protesting against the Union government blocking the online links to the documentary.The members of Students Federation of India (SFI) in Madras University had sought the university's permission to screen the documentary in the university's auditorium. However, the university authorities did not give permission. So, a group of students gathered outside the auditorium and tried to screen the movie. University staff tried to prevent the screening. Students argued that it was not banned in the country and went ahead screening it on a laptop."The BBC documentary exposes how the riots against the minorities were supported by the then Gujarat government headed by Modi in 2002. The SFI had called for screening of the documentary on every campus in the country to expose Modi’s role in the riots," said SFI Chennai central district president V Arunkumar.Mirudhula, another student, said the protest was organised to save democracy. "The Union government is misusing its power by blocking the documentary. They are spreading hatred against Muslims and minorities," she said."The preamble of the Constitution says it is a democratic, secular republic. However, the government is blocking access to the BBC documentary to prevent students from knowing the truth about the Gujarat riots," said SFI state secretary Niruban Chakaravarthy.When contacted, Madras University officials told TOI that the auditorium was not available on Friday and some students from outside the university screened the documentary. However, students said they were postgraduate students studying social sciences in the university.

Madras University students screen BBC documentary ‘to protect democracy’
Delhi University Students Detained Amid Clashes Over BBC Series On PM Modi: 10 Points
Ndtv | 16 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 06:53 pm
Ndtv
16 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 06:53 pm

New Delhi: Delhi University's Arts Faculty campus saw police action as students sought to screen a BBC documentary on PM Narendra Modi even as the government has imposed restrictions. Here is the story as it unfolded, in 10 key factsStudents at Delhi University were dragged away by police from the campus on Friday evening as they sought to publicly screen a controversial BBC documentary series about PM Narendra Modi and the BJP's alleged communal politics. This came just two days after similar scenes were witnessed at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. Student activists said the police acted violently even though the intention was for students to peacefully watch the documentary. They also alleged that "Sanghi goons" — reference to members of the BJP's mentor body RSS and its wings — attacked those gathered for the event too. Are police in-charge Sagar Singh Kalsi said 24 students were detained and the situation is now "back to normal".University officials said no permission was sought for a public screening and there were also orders issued by the district administration against any mass gathering. DU Chief Proctor Rajni Abbi, who called the cops, saw justification in the police action. "Yes, students have been detained. Have they taken permission? When police have imposed Section 144, why have they collected?" she said. She alleged that the students were "not even interested" in showing the documentary. "They just want disruptive things."The two-part series, which references the 2002 Gujarat riots and recent incidents of communal violence, has been termed by the central government as false and motivated propaganda. The government has used emergency powers to force social media outlets such as YouTube and Twitter to take it down.Ahead of screening that was planned for 5.30 pm, large number of students — led by those belonging to Left parties and other Opposition parties — gathered at DU Arts Faculty area and protested imposition of Section 144 in the area to stop the screening.Clashes erupted as right-wing student groups allegedly came to protest against the event. Those wanting the screening raised slogans of "Delhi police, go back", and the police began detaining some people who were allegedly "not students, but anti-social elements"."We were about to start the screening when Sanghi goons attacked us and started dragging those gathered for it. Police closed the gates and did not allow people to enter for the event," said a student who had come for the screening from the DU-affiliated Hindu College.The DU official said holding a mass screening was the point of contention. "They can watch it at their homes; who's stopping them?" said Chief Proctor Rajni Abbi, adding that she suspected they were outsiders. About police violently dragging students, she said, "Why are they here, first of all? [The screening] is not allowed here."The screening attempt was at the latest of such protests events held across the country, including in Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram. Opposition parties have slammed the BJP for trying to ban the documentary altogether. Student groups have led the protests.The BBC has defended the series as a “rigorously researched” piece of journalism that wants to highlight important issues.Post a comment

Delhi University Students Detained Amid Clashes Over BBC Series On PM Modi: 10 Points
Gujarat Bridge Renovation Firm Boss Named As Prime Accused In Chargesheet
Ndtv | 22 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 12:51 pm
Ndtv
22 hours ago | 27-01-2023 | 12:51 pm

A 1,262-page charge-sheet names Jaysukh Patel as the main accused and an "absconder".Nearly three months after a British-era bridge crashed in Gujarat's Morbi, killing 135 people, Jaysukh Patel, the top boss of the company hired for the maintenance and repair of the bridge, has been named the prime accused in a charge-sheet.Jaysukh Patel, the promoter of Oreva Group and managing director of Ajanta Manufacturing Limited, has been missing since the incident in October. A warrant was put out for his arrest last week. To evade arrest, he filed a request for bail on January 16.A 1,262-page charge-sheet names him as the main accused and an "absconder"."All steps are being taken to arrest him as soon as possible. He is untraceable right now," said senior police officer Ashok Yadav.Oreva Group, a company known for making wall clocks under the Ajanta brand, was inexplicably given the contract for the renovation, operation, and maintenance of the 100-year-old suspension bridge over the Machchhu River. The bridge collapsed on October 30, four days after it reopened.A Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the state government cited several lapses by the Oreva Group, like shoddy maintenance, the failure to limit the number of people on the bridge and the unrestricted sale of tickets.The police say around 300 people were on the bridge and it collapsed when the cables snapped.Patel is listed as the 10th accused alongside the nine arrested earlier, including the subcontractors, daily wage labourers who worked as ticket clerks, and security guards. But the opposition has alleged that the "big fish" are roaming free.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe BJP government in Gujarat faced accusations of shielding the politically influential industrialist ahead of the assembly elections, which the party swept.The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report on the incident revealed that rusty cables, broken anchor pins, and loose bolts were not addressed during the renovation of the bridge. The report also stated that Oreva Group did not hire any expert agency to assess the load-bearing capacity of the bridge before opening it to the public.

Gujarat Bridge Renovation Firm Boss Named As Prime Accused In Chargesheet
Gujarat Tribal Woman Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi Conferred With Padma Shri
Ndtv | 1 day ago | 26-01-2023 | 06:52 pm
Ndtv
1 day ago | 26-01-2023 | 06:52 pm

She spent a large part of her life in the uplift of Siddi tribal women and for the education of children.Junagadh: A Siddi tribe woman from Jambur village of Junagadh, Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi, has been honoured with the Padma Shri award, the fourth-highest civilian award by the government of India.A list of Padma Shri recipients was issued on Wednesday evening on the occasion of the 74th Republic Day.Hirbai hails from the African-origin Siddi tribe that resides in Jambur village near Gir forest in Gujarat, which is also the home of the pride of India, the Asian lion.In an exclusive interview with ANI, Hirbai shared her experience of working for the uplift and development of the Siddi tribal community.Hirabai Lobi has expressed special gratitude to the government of India, President Droupadi Murmu and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi for honouring her with the Padma Award.She spent a large part of her life in the uplift of Siddi tribal women and for the education of children. Till now she has changed the lives of more than 700 women and innumerable children.Surrounded by Babbar lions, the livelihood of the women of the Siddi community depended on wood cutting, Hirbai told ANI. Being a radio enthusiast, she took it upon herself to support the women of her community.Since childhood, Hirbai used to get information about women's development schemes in Siddi through the radio.She first joined with Agakhan Foundation and then launched a campaign to make women self-reliant by associating with BAIF, a farmer's organization. So far, she has taught more than 700 women to open bank accounts and save money.She has played an important role in bringing women forward and also taught them farming. She provided employment to women with the help of social organizations through radio. Hirabai while speaking to ANI said, "I have not grown trees in the forest, but I have saved the forest from being cut."Hirabai lost her parents in childhood and was brought up by her grandmother. She has established several kindergartens with spirit of providing basic education to the children of the Siddi community.Apart from this, she established the Mahila Vikas Foundation in the year 2004 and has worked tirelessly to make Siddi women self-reliant. Due to these efforts of Hirbai, the women of Jambur helped their families by working in the grocery shops and tailoring.Till now she has been honoured with various accolades, but when she got the first prize of $500, she put all the money into the development of the village.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comSo far she has received Real Award from Reliance, Janaki Devi Prasad Bajaj Award and the Green Award.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayJai Jawan: Sonu Sood's Tug-Of-War With Soldiers

Gujarat Tribal Woman Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi Conferred With Padma Shri
National security not fragile: Shashi Tharoor
Times of India | 2 days ago | 26-01-2023 | 11:19 am
Times of India
2 days ago | 26-01-2023 | 11:19 am

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: MP Shashi Tharoor disowned Anil Antony’s, senior Congress leader AK Antony’s son, claims that the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Gujarat riots will affect the sovereignty and national security of the country.“Our national security is not so fragile that a documentary made by the BBC would affect our security or sovereignty. Hence the argument that it would affect India’s sovereignty was not convincing,” said Tharoor, while reacting to the statement made by Anil Antony on the screening of the BBC documentary.On Antony resigning from the posts he held in Congress, Tharoor said that he hadn’t spoken to Antony. “I think he can speak for himself,” said Tharoor.Pointing out that all controversies over the BBC documentary was unnecessary, Tharoor said, “Had the government not gone over the top in condemning the documentary, thereby drawing attention to something that wasn’t otherwise available in India, there wouldn’t have been all these noises.”He flayed the Centre’s attempts to remove all links from social media platforms. “By not allowing the people to watch what they want goes against the tenets of democracy. Freedom of expression is a right guaranteed by the Constitution of this country. However, when a foreign organization talks about the Prime Minister or the country, it can be construed differently,” he added.“It is not proper for a government to ban the documentary. We cannot stand with that decision. Censorship is not part of our democracy and our Constitution. What the British diplomats reported about the violence that happened in Gujarat in 2002 has now been made as a documentary. It has to be remembered that our diplomats have also reported about the violence that had happened in Britain,” said Tharoor.“The Gujarat riots happened two decades ago, and it is a matter the Supreme Court has ruled on. The tragedy is something that all Indians, including Muslims, feel that we should now put behind us,” said Tharoor.

National security not fragile: Shashi Tharoor