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Gandhi flip flops sold on Amazon cause anger in India

Gandhi flip flops sold on Amazon cause anger in India

Flip flops depicting Mahatma Gandhi have been removed from sale on Amazon after they caused anger in India.
The row comes days after the online retailer apologised for selling doormats featuring the Indian flag.
Gandhi, who campaigned for independence from Britain, is widely revered and known as the Father of the Nation.
The Indian embassy in Washington had been told to tell Amazon US to respect Indian feelings, a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.
“As a follow up to the matter regarding the sale of doormats with the Indian flag on Amazon, our Ambassador in Washington has been instructed to convey to Amazon that while providing a platform for third party vendors, they should respect Indian sensitivities and sentiments,” Vikas Swarup said, NDTV reported.
The Indian government’s Secretary of Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das was among those to express anger on social media, telling Amazon its “indifference to Indian symbols” would be “at your own peril”.
He later said that he had been writing as a citizen, was not threatening government action against the company and remained committed to free trade.
The row follows fury over the sale of Indian flag-themed doormats.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to demand that Amazon “apologise unconditionally” or its officials would not be given visas.
Amazon India vice-president Amit Agarwal wrote to Ms Swaraj saying the doormats had been offered by a third-party seller on its Canadian website and there had been no intent to offend.
Mr Agarwal said in a statement that the firm was “committed to respecting Indian laws and customs”.
Desecration of the flag is punishable with fines and imprisonment in India.
Last June Amazon found itself in a similar controversy over sales of doormats illustrating Hindu gods.
Amazon has not commented on the latest controversy over the flip flops but the product had been removed from its US site on Sunday.
Amazon is locked in a fierce battle with Flipkart, India’s biggest online retailer, over market share.

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Unharmed by demonetisation, real estate sector to bounce back in 2017

Unharmed by demonetisation, real estate sector to bounce back in 2017
After demonetisation, the fillip given to the affordable housing sector, coupled with remonetisation which is again bringing cash, as well as the hope of lower interest rates, would all help the sector see returns.

According to experts, there is a high possibility of prices softening in sub-markets or precincts away from city centres and which have seen a lot of housing supply in recent years. For example, in the Mumbai metropolitan region, precincts such as Vasai-Virar, Palghar, Kalyan-Dombivli, Shilphata and upcoming locations around Panvel have a lot of supply.

“Tier-II and III cities, especially those driven by business communities, such as Jaipur, Surat, Indore, etc, will see a higher impact of demonetisation and easing in land prices in the medium to long term. Certain projects in Kolkata’s northern sub-market might witness price reduction in the next three-four quarters. Vacant land in the north of Kolkata would see easing of prices in the next one year,” said JLL India recently.

Though rating company Fitch has said property developers’ sales would come down by 20-30% in 2017, and their leverage positions go up, many believe home sales are bouncing back. These were at a near-standstill in November as as people stood in queues to deposit old notes and withdraw money. The secondary property market and luxury home market were hit hardest, as the cash component was high in these segments.

“Our enquiries with brokers revealed they are getting enquiries and some deals have happened. So, things are picking up,” said Abhishek Tiwari, founder, CRE Matrix, a real estate analytics platform.

Knight Frank India in its July-December report, said the housing market in the top eight cities started on a positive note in 2016, with the first half seeing a 7% jump in volumes from the same period a year before.
Demonetisation upset that trend. “(It) pulled down the last quarter (Oct-Dec) sales across cities. The fall in Q4 was intense and the second half of 2016 ended below H2 of 2015. 2016 ends with launches and sales being the lowest since global financial crisis. Uncertainty is likely to continue in the next quarter. It will be important to see how developers recalibrate their businesses to the changing environment and whether buyerscapitalise the opportunity of various reforms and change their status quo position of ‘wait and watch’. In 2017,(there will be) a lower home loan interest rate, Rera (the new segment regulator) & GST (the coming goods and services tax), likely fiscal benefits for taxpayers in the Union Budget, and enforcement of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment,” said Shishir Baijal, chairman, Knight Frank India.
Developers were fighting a prolonged slowing in sales for the past couple of years and home prices are stable. “With rates going down and the government announcing sops for budget housing, I feel sales will pick up,” said Amit Bhagat, chief executive officer at ASK Property Investment Advisors.

Many expect home loan rates of 8% soon, as banks are flush with funds. Samantak Das, chief economist at Knight Frank, said home sales would be under pressure in the March quarter. “Everything depends on the Union Budget, banks cutting rates and so on,” he said.

Office market

CBRE India, the property consultancy, announced on Wednesday the findings of its latest India Office MarketView Report. This says the India office market saw an all-time high annual absorption of a little over 43 million sq ft in 2016, growth of 9% year-on-year. Supply addition in the year touched 35 mn sq ft, with office stock going over 500 mn sq ft by the calendar year’s final quarter, higher than in several East Asian economies.
“The commercial real estate market has been performing well for two years. This is evident in the record absorption level in 2016. India continues to show positive movement, despite global uncertainties. Policy initiatives undertaken by the government in the recent past are expected to bring transparency into the sector, a much-needed step to enhancing consumer and investor confidence,” said Anshuman Magazine, chairman for India & Southeast Asia at CBRE.

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Demonetisation: Strong foundation laid for real estate but price correction could be limited

Demonetisation: Strong foundation laid for real estate but price correction could be limited

With stress on liquidity and no cash to pay for basic utilities, the initial effect of demonetisation drive has been a knee-jerk reaction to a wait-and-watch policy mode.

More than a month has passed for the demonetisation exercise, and yet, it’s ongoing process continues to disorient the society which has been quite disconcerting. It’s full impact can only come to light with time; probably it will be visible in the coming quarter. As of now, it is expected that this move will clean out black money from real estate and bring price correction across all the segment, eventually making property-availability accessible to common man.

Real estate had been witnessing a slowdown for the past three years, but the slowdown induced by the demonetisation move has halted the deals. Experts state that about 15-30 percent of transaction value used to be in black in various markets. “Demonetisation further hit the demand in the last quarter which is generally the booming period for real estate,” says Mudhit Gupta, CMD, EMGEE Group.

ReutersThe market is expecting a correction. This is the most anticipated fall-out of the demonetisation event. This may be only partially true says Arvind Nandan, South Asia Director, Valuations & Advisory at Colliers International India. “It must be understood with some insights into the cash-economy of real estate transactions, and also, with an understanding of demand-mechanism. There is a general anticipation of the removal of 20-30 percent cash-dealings from the transaction process. It leads people to conclude that the prices would fall by 20-30 percent. The reason for such expectations is the climbing down of prices coupled with at least two other factors such as an eventual interest rate decline and the consequent rise in demand. There could be more factors. But even if we account for these, the anticipated price-decline of 20-30 percent will get cushioned to a great extent. In the final form, the price-correction may not be more that 5-8 percent, which is anyway evident already.”
Some like Ricky Doshi, Founder & CEO, ARD Studio are of the opinion that prices of real estate are expected to go marginally up as with demonetisation in place, stringent rules and regulations are to follow in the realty sector in the year 2017.

“There has been 37 percent decline in property registrations across Mumbai alone since demonetisation. However, there is no blip in the demand for commercial real estate,” says Rohan Agarwal, Managing Director-Geopreneur Group.

However, Nandan says there is a general understanding among real estate players that impact of demonetisation has been good with more cleaner deals forthcoming. While the demand pick-up has been slow owing to economic-conditions of recent past, we expect the markets to become active in 2-3 months.

Post the announcement, the real estate sector has gone into the correction mode, says Sahil Kapoor, Executive Director of RE/MAX India. “I believe the move of currency ban has resulted in many key learnings for the industry. Moreover, people now understand the consequences of the mal-practices that were prevalent in the market due to heavy cash preference. Looking at the steps taken and the intentions of the government, I believe we are heading towards the right direction and I see the market gaining positive sentiments in the next 6 months. Currently, it’s best to wait and watch as we expect some clarity post December 31, 2016.”

“The implementation of RERA in the next couple of months will lead to a decline in new launches for the next couple of years thus picking up sales of current inventory. Demonetisation combined with RERA will lead to decreased supply, lower interest rates and existence of only organised developers,” says Gaurav Gupta, Director, Omkar Realtors & Developers.
The biggest challenge in 2016 has perhaps been the huge inventory pile up in the metros.
The year 2016 has laid the foundation for the strong future of the real estate industry. Policies like Smart Cities Concept, Housing for all by 2022, GST, RERA implementation, Demonetisation and Benami Transaction act are all, in effect, steps to sanitise the real estate sector.

The major takeaway for residential realty in 2016 was the passing of the Real Estate Bill. “The bill has boosted the entire industry and is definitely proving to be a game changer for the real estate market. The impact of this bill is profitable to both consumers as well as builders as it will bring transparency in the industry and confidence amongst buyers,” says Ashwin Sheth – CMD, Sheth Corp.

The biggest beneficiary to this demonetisation will be the affordable and mid-income housing.
In 2017 Gupta predicts the real estate market will go through a phase of consolidation. He is hopeful that the overall industry will see a lot more confidence from the buyers/investors, greater transparency, positive outlook by foreign investors and cashless transactions.

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India now sixth largest in manufacturing, says PM Modi

India now sixth largest in manufacturing, says PM Modi

India had become the sixth largest manufacturing centre in the world – a testament of the decisions taken by his government in making India a robust economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed.

“Manufacturing in India rose to 9% in the last fiscal year as opposed to the average of 5-6% in the last three years,” Modi said in his inaugural address of the eighth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit on Tuesday.

He said India contributed 12.5% towards the global growth in 2014-2015, adding that great emphasis was laid on the ease of doing business.

The outcome of our efforts are visible in India’s global ranking. We have moved up 16 places on the Global Innovation Index,” he said. “Reforms like the Goods and Services Tax, new insolvency and bankruptcy code and other initiatives will lead to greater ease of doing business in India,” he said.

Though Modi did not touch up on demonetization – its success or the lack thereof – the prime minister declared that he intended to make India the world’s most digitized economy.
“The total FDI inflows in the last two-and-a-half years have touched $130 billion. The FDI equity inflow in the last two financial years was 60% higher as compared to previous two financial years. In fact, the total FDI inflows received during the last year have been the highest ever,” Modi said.

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani, Tata Sons interim chairman Ratan Tata and Adani Group promoter Gautam Adani also took to the dais and attested how the prime minister’s support was instrumental in helping them build their vast empire.

While announcing his expansion plans here, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said that his company’s investment would provide two lakh jobs and contribute to Gujarat’s export competitiveness. Speaking about his telecom company Jio, Ambani said, “In 2014-15, only 35% had access to 3G/4G but now 90% of the state is covered with Jio’s network and 100% of the state will be covered by Diwali.
Adani also took the opportunity to announce his expansion plans in the state that would amount to Rs. 49,000 crore.

Union finance minster Arun Jaitley, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu, the Gujarat governor Om Prakash Kohli and Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani were also present on the dais along with heads of state and delegates from the partner countries.

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Aamir Khan’s Dangal Beats His PK; Becomes the Highest Hindi Grosser Film

Aamir Khan’s Dangal Beats His PK; Becomes the Highest Hindi Grosser Film
Mumbai: With Dangal registering a collection of Rs 345.3 crore, Bollywood star Aamir Khan has created a new record for the highest Hindi grosser, beating the business of his own movie PK. The film’s makers are overwhelmed.The sports drama film, directed by Nitesh Tiwari, took a leaf out of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat’s real life.
Dangal, which released on December 23 last year, collected Rs 14.33 crore on January 8, taking the cumulative total to Rs 345.3 crore (nett India box office), read a statement issued on behalf of the makers.
Amrita Pandey, Vice President, Studios, Disney India, said: “Dangal is an extremely special film for us at Disney, Aamir Khan and the entire cast and crew of the film. This is our ninth film with Aamir Khan, and with Dangal we’ve broken our own record of PK. Aamir has set new benchmarks with each of his movies.”
Dangal has been lauded by the audiences for its powerful portrayal of the story of Phogat, who, much to the disapproval of his wife and his whole village, trained his daughters Geeta and Babita to wrestle.
Christmas has turned out to be lucky for Aamir since the past few years. Even PK, Dhoom: 3 and 3 Idiots released around the festival and their success gave the actor more reasons to celebrate.

According to Pandey, “Dangal is breaking and setting new distribution circuit benchmarks all over India, in centres in key south markets, in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Central India. Even in key international markets like North America and Australia, Dangal is setting new benchmarks.”
“In fact, in North America, the movie is set to be the highest grossing foreign language movie for 2016. Dangal is also the highest performing Hindi movie dubbed in Tamil language, beating the previous record of The Jungle Book.”

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10 Awesome Pictures From Yesterday That Made Chandigarh Look Like Shimla

Winters in Chandigarh are a delight. Few days after the Christmas and New year’s eve, the entire city of Chandigarh was again seen in a festive mood. Almost everyone from kids to youngsters and from middle age people to older ones were excited as it snowed in Chandigarh. Well, if you still don’t believe that Chandigarh can get snowfall, then you need to go through these pictures below and relish them to actually believe that Chandigarh was painted white!

Snowfall in Chandigarh (Jan 2017)

It all started with heavy rainfall on 6th Jan, 2017 and a massive hailstorm soon followed. The hailstorm what we call “Ole” were cubicles of ice but they were soft as snow. Roads in the city were painted white and the soft balls of ice could be seen almost everywhere.

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chandigarh snowfall

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chandigarh snowfall

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chandigarh snowfall

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Shimla, Manali cut off after snow, traffic hampered

Shimla, Manali cut off after snow, traffic hampered
Traffic to tourist destinations Shimla, Manali and Dalhousie were cut off from the rest of Himachal Pradesh on Saturday following heavy snowfall overnight, officials said.

Electricity supply was snapped here and Manali as power lines were damaged due to falling trees.

Traffic bound for Shimla was disrupted at Shogi, about 15 km from here, due to snowfall, an official told IANS.

Likewise, traffic on the National Highway-21 was blocked near Patlikuhl, 20 km before Manali.

This was the season’s first significant snowfall that froze the “Queen of Hills”, as Shimla was fondly called by the British.

The cold weather resulted in the freezing of taps. According to the Met office here, certain areas in Shimla like the Mall Road, the Ridge, the US Club and Jakhu hills got more than a foot of snow.
Director General of Police Somesh Goyal said it was after decades that Shimla received so much of snow.

“Bad thing is no electricity. Who cares! Going out for a walk with camera,” Goyal said on his Facebook account.

Rain lashed lower areas of Himachal Pradesh such as Dharamsala, Palampur, Solan, Nahan, Bilaspur, Una, Hamirpur and Mandi, bringing down the temperatures.

A government spokesperson said most of the internal roads in Shimla and Kinnaur districts were cut off due to snow.

Even traffic bound for towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kotkhai, Kharapathar and Chopal have been disrupted.

The official advised tourists not to venture into remote areas as chances of heavy snow were high.
The weather forecast said western disturbances — storm systems originating from the Caspian Sea in the Central Asia and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region — would remain active till Sunday with chances of more snow.
Director General of Police Somesh Goyal said it was after decades that Shimla received so much of snow.

“Bad thing is no electricity. Who cares! Going out for a walk with camera,” Goyal said on his Facebook account.

Rain lashed lower areas of Himachal Pradesh such as Dharamsala, Palampur, Solan, Nahan, Bilaspur, Una, Hamirpur and Mandi, bringing down the temperatures.

A government spokesperson said most of the internal roads in Shimla and Kinnaur districts were cut off due to snow.

Even traffic bound for towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kotkhai, Kharapathar and Chopal have been disrupted.

The official advised tourists not to venture into remote areas as chances of heavy snow were high.
The weather forecast said western disturbances — storm systems originating from the Caspian Sea in the Central Asia and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region — would remain active till Sunday with chances of more snow.

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Veteran Indian actor Om Puri dies aged 66

Veteran Indian actor Om Puri dies aged 66
Veteran Indian actor Om Puri, star of British hit East is East, has died aged 66, a family member told the BBC.
The actor suffered a heart attack at his residence in Mumbai early on Friday, reports say.
Om Puri, who acted in both mainstream and art films, was known for his gritty performances in a number of landmark Indian films in the 1980s.
He also appeared in a number of British films, including a cameo in Richard Attenborough’s epic on Mahatma Gandhi.
A versatile actor, Puri was known for his roles in Indian, Pakistani, British and Hollywood films. He was awarded an honorary OBE for his contribution to the British film industry in 2004.
He found international fame for his roles in American and British films, including the 1999 British comedy East is East about a Pakistani immigrant adjusting to life in the north of England.
Puri also worked in City of Joy, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and most recently in The Hundred-Foot Journey.
At home, Puri was best-known for his performances in critically acclaimed films like Ardh Satya, Sadgati, Paar and the satirical Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro.

Puri was one of India’s truly successful crossover actors, doing films with stars such as Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks, says BBC’s Soutik Biswas.
His roles in Govind Nihalani’s Aakrosh as a tribal man falsely accused of murder and a policeman in Ardh Satya beaten back by the system remain among the finest performances on Indian screen, our correspondent says.

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Printing error? Gandhi’s image missing from ‘genuine’ Rs 2,000 notes

Printing error? Gandhi’s image missing from ‘genuine’ Rs 2,000 notes

The cash crunch has had an unlikely casualty; Mahatma Gandhi’s likeness on a batch of the new Rs 2,000 notes. The Times of India reported on Thursday that farmers in a village situated in Madhya Pradesh have received newly printed Rs 2,000 notes without the Bapu’s image printed on them and they are not fake.
According to the national daily, at first the farmers thought that the notes were counterfeit but bank officials soon dispelled any such doubts and declared them “genuine”. The officials cited a “printing error” as the cause behind the anomaly. Further, citing bank and police sources, the report said that many such notes were in circulation in that region.

Upon being notified, the State Bank of India branch from where the farmers had received the currency took back the notes. The notes, according to the report, were printed at the Bank Note Press in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.
Haste, overworked presses to blame?
As reported earlier by Business Standard, the country’s currency presses have been working 24×7 to produce an year’s output in just five months. The country has four such presses, located at Mysuru, Salboni, Dewas and Nashik.

Of the four presses, the one at Mysuru has the best printing lines. Till demonetisation, this press, along with the one at Salboni, printed the bulk of the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Dewas and Nashik, with older machines, print Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20, Rs 10, Rs 5 and Rs 2 notes. With the import of one machine line in 2015-16, some of the demand for the Rs 500 note can be met by the Dewas press.

An official had previously told the Business Standard: “Our problem is that the rejection rates of notes in the two facilities (Dewas and Nashik) are over 15 per cent. The rates in Mysuru and Salboni hardly ever cross one per cent.”

The RBI’s indent for printing of Rs 500 notes is 5.7 billion for the current year and that for Rs 1,000 notes was 2.2 billion. The latter has been scrapped and replaced with a demand for Rs 2,000 notes. In five months, the automated presses at Mysuru and Salboni, which can run 24 hours without a break, have to print the same number of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes earmarked for the earlier Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes over 12 months.

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BSNL has launched Rs 144 unlimited calling plan to take on Reliance Jio

BSNL has launched Rs 144 unlimited calling plan to take on Reliance Jio

Unlimited offerings is the new trend in the telecom space in India. Ever since Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio launched with the offer of free unlimited calls and data, other players have been scrambling to offer the same. The latest among the rivals to go the Jio way is BSNL with an offer of unlimited phone calls to any network for a jaw-dropping tariff of Rs 144 per month.

The Rs 144 plan being rolled by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will be valid for six months. It comes with unlimited local and STD calls to any network. In addition, it comes with 300MB of data.
This is the third in a series of lucrative offers rolled out by BSNL to its subscribers. The new pack ensures calls are free and unlimited for both prepaid and postpaid customers. The previous plans launched as part of the Jio effect was for Rs 99 and Rs 399 where prepaid customers can also avail unlimited calls and free bundled data. Although, only BSNL to BSNL calls are unlimited in the previous two plans.
The company has also rolled out over 4,400 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.
We have 4,400 Wi-Fi hotspots launched country wide. I think in Mahabalipuram near Chennai has a similar Wi-Fi hotspot. Our immediate strategy is to expand this. In next one year, we will be having around 40,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country,” BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Srivastava told a press gathering.
Reliance Jio launched with its ‘Welcome Offer’ in August last year which offered unlimited calls and 4GB of 4G data every day. The move shook up the industry with players like Airtel and Vodafone following up with similar plans. Airtel launched its ‘Infinity Plans’ that offer free 4G data along with included services like the Wynk music App, unlimited local and STD calls. Vodafone too stepped up its game and offered 10GB of data for the price of 1GB with three-month validity.

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