General Atlantic to invest $498.31 million in Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail
October 4, 2020

India’s Reliance Industries Ltd. informed on September 30, 2020, that a private equity firm General Atlantic is all set to invest Rs. 36.75 billion in Reliance Retail Ventures, for a 0.84% stake in its retail arm. The latest investment will send the shares of India’s most valuable company up as much as 1%.

The new deal with a private equity firm will underscore the growing investor interest in the Ambani-led company’s expansion plans as it aims at diversifying from its main oil and gas business.

With the growing investments earlier in Reliance led Jio and now in Reliance Retail, the company can be seen as a formidable rival to Amazon Inc. and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart as they continue to battle for the market dominance in India.

Mukesh Ambani on the latest investment:

With the latest investment from General Atlantic, which also invested in Slack, Airbnb, and Uber- Reliance has raised around $2.3 billion for its retail arm. The investment gives Reliance Retail a pre-money valuation of Rs. 4.29 trillion.

Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani while commenting on the investment by General Atlantic stated that Reliance will leverage from General Atlantic’s extensive expertise at the intersection of consumer business and technology to expand its new commerce venture, trying neighbourhood stores for apparel, online deliveries of groceries and electronics. In May, Reliance launched an online grocery store.

Expected investments in Reliance retail:

General Atlantic is also an investor Reliance’s digital business Jio platforms and as per the sources, Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment Co is also in the advanced talks to invest up to $1 billion in the retail unit of Reliance.

India, Netherlands sign Statement of Intent to support decarbonisation
October 4, 2020

India’s NITI Aayog and Embassy of the Netherlands, New Delhi have signed an SOI (Statement of Intent) to support the decarbonisation and energy transition agenda for accommodating cleaner and more energy. The signing took place on September 28, 2020.

The SOI was signed by Amitabh Kant, NITI Aayog CEO, and Marten van den Berg, Ambassador of the Netherlands to India. The focus of the partnership between the two nations is on co-creating innovative technological solutions by leveraging the expertise of two entities

SOI signed between India and Netherlands:

As per the Ambassador of the Netherlands to India, the SOI will not only boost the economies of the two nations but will also help in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

During the signing, the ambassador mentioned that as both India and Netherlands continue to transform their energy sector, the nations have been committed that initiatives under this SOI will help both of them to move forward towards becoming climate-resilient economies.

He further added that working with India is also significant to meet its twin objectives- ensuring it safeguards the environment for future generations and generating economic growth. In the field of energy, there is huge room for cooperation between the two nations.

How Indo-Dutch collaboration will help in achieving decarbonisation agenda?

According to Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog, India’s expertise in deploying high-tech solutions in a cost-effective manner, combined with Dutch expertise in low carbon technologies, will further help in solidifying Indo-Dutch collaboration. Both the nations will successfully work towards achieving decarbonisation and energy transition agenda.

CEO, NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant further adds that given the enormous potential the partnership holds, the thematic areas within the broad topic of climate change and energy transition, the partnership with the Netherlands, will help both the nations derive natural synergies to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

India-Netherlands Relations: Background

Both nations share a long history of trade and investment. Netherland is India’s sixth-largest European Union trading partner- as much as 20% of India’s exports to the European continent goes through the Netherlands- and one of the top 5 investors in the country. Netherland is also the third-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) for India.

From Driving license to health insurance to income tax: 10 new rules applicable from October 1, 2020
October 4, 2020

From October 1, 2020, 10 rules that impact the day to day life of every citizen are going to be different. Changes made in credit and debit cards rule, Ujjwala Scheme, health insurance, motor vehicle rules will be the few of the alterations that will be implemented from October 1. The changes introduced by the concerned ministries are for different motives which include making India more digital and Atmanirbhar.

Check the 10 new rules mentioned in detail below.

1. Free LPG connection ends on September 30, 2020

The process of getting a gas connection for free under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) will be ending on September 30, 2020. The Union Cabinet had earlier approved an extension of free gas connection till the end of September under which beneficiaries were able to avail free cooking gas cylinders.

2. No physical verification of documents like Driving License and RC will be required

From October 1, 2020, no hard copy of documents such as Driving License and RC to keep together while driving will be required. From now, one can drive a vehicle with only a valid soft copy of these documents attached to the vehicle. The notification was issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of various such amendments which were made in the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.

The amendment will come into effect from October 1, 2020. For commuter convenience, the government had decided to digitize documents including driving licenses, e-challans, and maintenance of vehicles that will now be done through an information technology portal. Drivers will be able to maintain their vehicular documents on the government’s online portal like m-parivahan or Digi-Locker.

3. 5% tax will be levied on foreign fund transfer from October 1

From the coming month, any amount sent abroad to buy foreign tour packages and every other foreign remittance above Rs. 7 lakh will attract a tax collected at source (TCS) unless that tax has already been deducted at source (TDS) on that amount. While the tax levied on foreign tour packages will be 5% for any amount, for any other foreign remittance, the tax will only for the amount spent above Rs. 7 Lakh.

4. Government’s amendment for mobile phones only for route navigation

As per the amendment made by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in the Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, the driver will now be able to use mobile phones for route navigation in such a manner that it will not disturb the concentration of the driver while driving.

5. Reserve Bank of India’s new Credit and Debit Card rules

RBI has issued new guidelines to secure credit and debit cards and the changes will be effective from October 1, 2020. As per the new guidelines, card users will now be able to register the spend limits, opt-in or opt-out services, etc. for online transactions, international transactions as well as contactless card transactions.

6. Sweet Sellers will be required to display ‘best before date’

Sweet Shops will now need to display ‘best before date’ of loose or non-packaged sweets available in their shop. As per the direction by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the sweet shop owners have to adhere to the protocol from October 1, 2020.

7. Buying television sets will be expensive due to the 5% import duty

From October 1, 2020, open cells will now attract 5% import duty, as the government declined to extend the duty exemption expiring at the end of September 2020. To promote ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the government is keen to expand the domestic production capacity for the open cell panels so that imports can be controlled.

8. Implementation of new Health Insurance rules

The changes in the health insurance cover have been introduced in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new health insurance rules to be introduced post-COVID-19 inclusion will be making 17 permanent illnesses outside the cover, meaning that the diseases that come under the exclusion category have been reduced to 17. The prices for the premium health services will also eventually rise.

9. Introduction of New Tax Collected at Source (TCS) regime

The Income Tax Department had issued guidelines for the applicability of the Tax Collected at Source (TCS) provision which will require an e-commerce operator to deduct a 1% tax on the sale of goods and services. The new regime of TCS will come into effect from October 1, 2020.

The Finance Act, 2020 had inserted a new section 194-O in the Income Tax Act, 1961 which mandated that from October 1, an e-commerce operator will deduct income tax at the rate of 1% of the gross amount of sale of goods or provision of service or both, facilitates through its electronic or digital facility or platform.

10. Ban on the blending of mustard oil with any other cooking oil

Food Regulator FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has banned the blending of mustard oil with any other cooking oil with effect from October 1, 2020. In a letter from FSSAI to the commissioner of food safety of all states and Union territories, it has been mentioned that the blending of mustard oil with any other edible oil in India has been prohibited with effect from October 1, 2020.

China to launch world’s first asteroid mining robot into space in November 2020
October 4, 2020

A private company, Origin Space in Beijing (China) is set to send out the world’s first asteroid mining robot into space in November 2020. The robot has been named ‘asteroid mining robot’ by the space start-up in China.

As per the report, the asteroid mining robot will be launched into space by a Chinese Long March series rocket. If the mission turns out to be a success, it may open a trillion-dollar industry.  

While commenting on the development, the company added that being the first space-mining robot produced by a commercial company in the world, the mission will prove to be a milestone for the space resources industry.

Objective of the mission:

Yu Tianhong, Origin Space Co-founder informed that the robot will not be engaging in any mining work but it will be testing the technologies. The goal will be to assess the asteroid mining robot’s capabilities and to find out how well it can identify and extract the valuable resources vis-à-vis asteroid mining.

The co-founder further mentioned that the goal is to verify and demonstrate multiple functions such as stimulated small celestial body capture, spacecraft orbital manoeuvre, intelligent spacecraft identification, and control.

Warning from the experts:

On the question of how far is it correct to intrude in the Solar System, the experts have always warned that the solar system needs to be left alone and must be protected from an impending rush of space mining efforts. As per the experts, the rush could leave humanity in a resource catastrophe in centuries.

Earlier, even NASA had announced that it will be buying ‘moon rocks’ from private companies in the future.

Another Mission of China’s ‘Origin Space’:

The private space start-up from China has also been working on another mission named ‘Yuanwang-1’, which has also been nicknamed ‘Little Hubble’. Its launch is set for a late 2021 or early 2022.

This mission will involve a lunar landing eventually, but the rest of the course is reportedly still being worked upon.

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