OPINION, P6 ECONOMY, P2 TV RAMACHANDRAN India must delicense the 60 GHz band to realise its potential INTERNATIONAL, P8 EDITORIAL TILL MARCH 31 US ELECTIONS Particulate matter pollution may be a big challenge for India, but the US's GHG pollution threatens the world Payment deadline for Vivad se Vishwas scheme extended Early voting turnout has already reached half of 2016 total MUMBAI, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2020 FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK. APP AVAILABLE ON APP STORE & PLAYSTORE WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM READ TO LEAD VOL. LX NO. 254, 22 PAGES, `7.00 P U B L I S H E D F R O M : A H M E D A B A D , B E N G A L U R U , C H A N D I G A R H , C H E N N A I , H Y D E R A B A D , K O C H I , K O L K ATA , L U C K N O W, M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E SENSEX: 39,922.46 ▼ 599.64 NIFTY: 11,729.60 ▼ 159.80 NIKKEI 225: 23,418.51 ▼ 67.29 HANG SENG: 24,708.80 ▼ 78.39 `/$: 73.88 ▼ 0.16 `/€: 86.82 ▲ 0.19 BRENT: $39.64 ▼ $1.56 GOLD: `51,029 ▲ `182 ■ Gadgets, P9 QuickPicks Axis Bank posts `1,683-cr PAT AXIS BANK on Wednesday reported a net profit of `1,683 crore in the September quarter of FY21 against a `112-crore loss in Q2FY20 on the back of a 20% year-on-year rise in net interest income (NII) to `7,326 crore, reports fe Bureau in Mumbai. The lender said it had not accepted any request for restructuring of loan accounts under the window for resolution for Covid19 till September 30, even as it provided `1,864 crore in anticipation of “probable restructuring”. PAGE 10 Committed to openness: Twitter TWITTER ON Wednesday said the company remains committed to openness and transparency, and will stay in regular touch with the government to share timely updates, reports PTI. The company’s statement comes in the backdrop of its appearance in front of the joint committee of parliament on Data Protection Bill, 2019, on Wednesday. Representatives of the social media company were also questioned by the members on showing Ladakh as part of China. PAGE 3 PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, October 28 THE CENTRALINFORMATION Commission slapped a showcause notice on the National InformaticsCentre(NIC)under the Union electronics and IT ministry after it said it did not have any information about the “creation” of the Aarogya Setu app promoted by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19. In a terse order, which termed the ministry’s responses to an RTI plea ‘preposterous,’ information commissioner Vanaja N Sarna pointed out that the app website mentions the content on it is “owned, updated and maintained”byMyGovand MeitY. Later in the day,the government clarified that the NIC, in collaboration with volunteers from industry and academia, developedtheAarogyaSetuapp. 0 Apr 01, 2020 ■ Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 808.89 points, or 2.95%, to 26,654.3 11,419 Oct 28, 2020 ■ S&P 500 among hardest hit; lost 97.21 points, or 2.87%, to 3,293.47 “Unless and until we get through this pandemic, it is hard forinvestors to imagine a better economic time.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 808.89 points, or 2.95%, to 26,654.3, the S&P 500lost97.21points,or2.87%, ■ Pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 3.29%, hitting lowest level since May to 3,293.47 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 333.79 points,or2.92%,to 11,097.56. Continued on Page 16 ■ India trials of Russian Sputnik-Vvaccine may end in March: Dr Reddy's, Page 4 Govt depressing testing, says Thyrocare Continued on Page 16 As testing slows.... (no. of daily tests, 7-day moving average) Sept 28 Oct 28 Maharashtra W Bengal Tamil Nadu Kerala Maharashtra W Bengal Tamil Nadu Kerala Twitter, Google CEOs defend key internet law before US Senate panel NANDITA BOSE & DAVID SHEPARDSON Washington, October 28 ■ Revenues in Q2 of `31,034.7 cr, down 12.2% y-o-y ■ Net profits in Q2 `1,410 cr, lower by 45% y-o-y ■ Order wins in Q2 at `28,039 cr, up 19% q-o-q, down 42% y-o-y ■ Orders wins in H1 `51,600 cr, down 41% y-o-y ■ Special dividend of `18 per share September stood at `2.98 lakh crore.TheCFOsaidorderinflows continuedtosustaininOctober. Themanagementsaidcashcollections had also been robust. The companyannounced it has won the 237 km MumbaiAhmedabadhighspeedrailproject orthe bullet train project at avalue of `25,000 crore. Detailed report on Page 4 Punjab refuses to pick up the gauntlet thrown by Centre India ...so do infections (daily infections, 7-day moving average) Sept 28 Oct 28 LARSEN AND TOUBRO (L&T) onWednesdaysaidbusinesswas picking up pace and while the outlook at the end of June had seemed somewhat gloomy, there was now“light at the end of the tunnel”. WholetimedirectorandCFO R Shankar Raman,observed on acall,labourmobilisation,atthe various project sites, had reachednearpre-Covidlevelsat theendofSeptember.“However, we do have a lot of ground to coverand it could be some time before we can breathe easy,” ShankarRaman added. Much of the capital investment today is being made by the governments state and central,the management indicated.While the private sector doeswanttoinvestthedemand situation remains somewhat unpredictable. Moreover,wherethesectoris regulated,at times the government’s sayis impacting the fortunesofbusinesses.“Wehaveall invested in infrastructure but the experiences have been mixed. It has taken all of L&T’s might to take it on the chin and move on,” the CFO said. Order inflows at the engineering giant picked up meaningfully in Q2FY21 at `28,039 crore, registering a 19% increase over the June quarter and the orderbook at the end of PURCHASE FEE ROW 11,83,900 EVEN AS THE government celebrates the over 40% fall in fresh Covid-19 cases over the last month — from 83,875 to 48,459 (see graphic) — AVelumani, CMD & CEO ofThyrocare Technologies, told CNBC-TV18 that many state governments were controlling the amount of testing being done so as to be able to show lower infections (https:/ /bit.ly/3kFeAv8), reports fe Bureau in New Delhi. “In some states”, he said, “Thyrocare has been told not to pick up samples, verbally, in others, ‘don’t report to ICMR, reverse the data, we will tell you the cut-off, then you report’.” The Covid testing for Thyrocare, he said, was down to 2,500 per day from 7,000 two months ago. PRABHUDATTA MISHRA New Delhi, October 28 EVEN AS A recent fiat by the Centre to the Punjab government put the so-called rural development fee (RDF) collected by the latter from the FoodCorporationofIndia(FCI) for central pool purchases under scrutiny, Punjab’s food ministerBharat BhushanAshu sought to avoid a showdown with New Delhi on the issue, and said thatthe RDFproceeds haven’t been diverted. The monies collected as RDF — around `1,750 crore in FY20 alone — have been spent on infrastructure of procurement centres,the minister told FE. “We want to make sure that the (ongoing paddy) procurement continues uninterrupted and the farmers get the minimum support price (MSP) in time.Regarding these incidentals (RDF),our officials will discuss with the Centre and sort the issue out,” Ashu said. He, however,questionedthetiming of the Centre raising the RDF issue (the kharif procurement process is gathering momentum), but added, “like other issues,wewillkeeppursuingit.” On October 26, the Union food ministry sent a letter to secretary-food and civil sup- India Continued on Page 16 CONTENT CONTROL VOX POPULI Voters stand in queues to cast their votes during the first phase of Bihar Assembly elections amid the pandemic, at a polling station in Kaimur district on Wednesday Grain procurement in Punjab (million tonne) 2017-18 11.71 11.83 2018-19 12.69 11.33 2019-20 12.91 10.88 2020-21 *As of Oct 26 12.71 6.76* Wheat Rice plies in Punjab government, seeking “information on how andwhat percentage of the RD Fee is being spent on improving infrastructure of procurement centres i.e amount utilised as per revised principles dated February 24,2020.” Continued on Page 16 CRACKING DOWN Will plain-speaking Gadkari trigger NHAI reform? FE BUREAU New Delhi, October 28 (L-R) Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai, the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google, respectively the committee that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — which protects companies from liability over content posted by users — is crucial to free expression on the internet. Twitter’s Dorsey warned the committee that eroding the foundation of Section 230 could significantly hurt how people communicate online. Pichai said the company operates without political bias and that doing otherwise would be against its business interests. Continued on Page 16 ROADTRANSPORTAND highways minister Nitin Gadkari’s caustic public remarks against the‘non-performing’lotamong the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) officers at a recenteventmayhavebreached theunwrittennormofrestraint that the top political executive shows in dealing with the bureaucracy it relies on, but have elicited approving commentaryfromawideraudience. ILLUSTRATION: ROHNIT PHORE THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES of Twitter and Google defended a law protecting internet companies before a US Senate panel on Wednesday, while Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg struggled to connect virtually, bringing the hearing to a brief halt. The topic of reforming the law has split US lawmakers on ways to hold Big Tech accountable for how they moderate content on their platforms and shape political discourse. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai told Germany Ger 48,459 Priced at `31,999, the Pixel 4a is a practical phone with a sturdy build, smooth running and good cameras. Its clean interface and compact size are sure to make it a favourite in the mid-range segment 22,148 10,82,091 Google Pixel 4A: Finally, a Pixel within your reach Who created Aarogya Setu? CIC notice to IT ministry 1,00,000 United Uni Kingdom Kin 83,875 ● ‘PREPOSTEROUS’ Special Feature 38,279 54,293 —GOPAL VITTAL, MD & CEO, INDIA & S ASIA 2,00,000 7,029 Arpu must ultimately go up to `300. The question is about competitive dynamics as these levels are not sustainable and somebody has to lead it. UNION MINISTER Smriti Irani on Wednesday said she has tested positive for Covid-19, reports PTI. The women and child development & textiles minister asked the people who came in contact with her to get themselves tested for the disease at the earliest. STOCKS TUMBLED ACROSS the globe on Wednesday on concerns that rising Covid19 cases in Europe, the US and elsewhere will damage already-fragile economic recoveries,whilethedollarrose on safe-haven bids. Treasury yields fell alongside the price of oil and gold was under pressure from the rising dollar. On Wall Street, the energy and technology sectors of the benchmark S&P 500 were among the hardest hit. “Whether you call it a continuation of the pandemic ora third wave of new case discovery— it is the largest concern,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in NewYork. Fra France 49,051 Continued on Page 16 48,459 3,00,000 5,666 take the lead and increases tariffs, Bharti would match them to maintain the premium. “Pricing is very low compared with the kind of allowances which are offered to the customers…Arpu must go up to `200 and ultimately to `300.The question is about competitive dynamics as these levels of tariffs are not sustainable and somebody has to lead it,”Vittal said. Ind India RODRIGO CAMPOS New York, October 28 89,429 Close 78,338 Previous close: 433.00 Open 72,336 4,46,276 4,00,000 2,886 420 FE BUREAU Mumbai, October 28 Uni United Sta States WORLD 5,545 435 5,00,000 44,020 450 (daily infections, 7-day moving average) 43,432 451.45 465 L&T sees light at end of the tunnel THE SECOND COMING 4,103 DESPITE ACCEPTING THE need for tariffs to increase so that the average revenue per user (Arpu) moves up to the range of `200-300,BhartiAirtel is not going to take a lead on this front at this point of time. Speaking to analysts in a post-earnings call onWednesday, the telco’s managing director and CEO (India & South Asia) Gopal Vittal said the company took the lead in increasing tariffs in December 2019 and they are in the premium range now and a hike at this stage may impact its competitiveness. However, if other players 480 Restrictions on business likely to return as case count mounts in US, Europe 3,184 Smriti Irani tests positive for Covid-19 FE BUREAU New Delhi, October 28 Intra-day on BSE (`), October 28 495 446.4 64,114 THE SUSPENSION of scheduled international passenger flights has been extended till November 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said on Wednesday, reports PTI. If other players increase rates, we will match them, says CEO Vittal Bharti Airtel Growing corona cases rattle global stocks 6,359 No international passenger flights till Nov 30: DGCA Bharti won’t be the first to hike tariffs RECOVERY LOCKDOWN FEARS 99,058 AJOINT committee of Parliament issued a notice on Wednesday calling representatives of telecom operators Reliance Jio and Airtel and cab aggregators Ola and Uber to depose before it on the issue of data security, reports PTI. The panel, chaired by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, is examining the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019. PRICE WAR 18,656 IN THE NEWS Joint panel on data security summons Jio, Airtel, Uber, Ola On Monday,while inaugurating NHAI’s new office building at Dwarka in New Delhi, which took nine years for completion, through video-conferencing from Nagpur, Gadkari said NHAI had become “a breeding ground for inefficient officials,who are incapable of taking decisions and prefer to refer every matter to committees.” It was time to show the exit door to such ‘non-performing assets’ who only complicate matters and delay projects by creating obstacles, he said. “While NHAI is building 4,000-km national highways in a year and pledges to complete the Delhi-Mumbai Greenfield expresswayproject in three-and-a-halfyears,why would it take nine years to complete its own office building? There must be some reasons behind this,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity. Continued on Page 16
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