Citizens' Issues
81 percent citizens voted against Free Basics: LocalCircles
New Delhi : A whopping 81 percent in a survey of 30,000 people have voted against Free Basics or any such programme and want an unbiased or neutral internet for themselves, a survey conducted by citizen engagement platform LocalCircles said here on Thursday.
 
LocalCircles said in a statement that when asked if the central or state government should provide free internet access covering essential or useful citizen services, 78 percent of the respondents said yes.
 
"This basically redefines the concept of net neutrality and has implications on what is provided as content when the internet is free and provided by the government. Internet evangelists who have stake in the internet being open to all meaning that all websites and apps should be given equal access will be disappointed by what the citizens want," the statement said.
 
"If the government wants to make electronic books available for free it can make sure that they are at least available on all government hotspots," said LocalCircles chief strategy officer K. Yatish Rajawat.
 
"This would not be possible if free internet is understood only through what private internet companies are offering. The debate on net neutrality has to take into account that access to internet is important and its misuse is also a possibility," he added.
 
Industrialist Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications (RCOM) on December 23 said following the Indian telecom regulator's directive, the commercial launch of Facebook's Free Basics has been put on hold till it gets clearance. 
 
RCOM is the only telecom service provider offering Free Basics in India.
 
The regulator said Facebook's Free Basics service should remain on hold till the ruling on differential pricing on data services - an important aspect of net neutrality - comes.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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China suspends stock market 'circuit breaker'
Beijing : China has announced that it will from Friday suspend the stock market "circuit breaker" mechanism that has been implemented since the beginning of this year.
 
"Currently, the negative effects of the mechanism are greater than the positive effects. Thus, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has decided to suspend the circuit breaker mechanism to maintain market stability," CSRC spokesperson Deng Ke said in a statement late on Thursday.
 
Under the mechanism that became effective on January 1 to tame the wildly-fluctuating Chinese stock market, trading will be halted for 15 minutes if the Hushen 300 Index, which reflects the performance of bluechips listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen, moves up or down by 5 percent before 2:45 p.m. 
 
If the movement reaches seven percent when trading is resumed, the market closes for the day, Xinhua news agency reported.
 
The circuit breaker was triggered on both Monday and Thursday, as plunges in the Hushen 300 Index reached seven percent on both trading days.
 
"The mechanism was introduced with the aim of providing a calm-down period for the market to avoid or reduce hasty trading decisions in the case of sharp fluctuations, protecting the interests of investors," Deng said.
 
He said the mechanism "is not the major reason for the market plunge, but it failed to achieve the anticipated effects", adding that the mechanism in effect accelerated the plunge as some investors decided to sell when the index's drop neared five percent or seven percent.
 
The CSRC decided to introduce the circuit breaker system and conducted a public consultation on the plan for its introduction in September 2015 to prevent further abnormal fluctuations.
 
Trading on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses stopped early on Thursday after shares tumbled seven percent within the first 30 minutes of trading, triggering the circuit breaker mechanism. It was the shortest trading time in the history of China's stock market.
 
At 9.42 a.m., trading was suspended for 15 minutes after the Hushen 300 dropped by over five percent. The index dived a further two percent in just two minutes after reopening at 9:57 a.m., and trading was ceased.
 
Following the trading suspension Thursday, the CSRC unveiled new rules to limit big shareholders from selling their stocks.
 
Big shareholders, the management and those who hold more than five percent of a company's shares were asked not to sell more than one percent of the company's shares within any three-month period, a notice said.
 
Those who want to reduce their holdings will have to publicise their plans 15 trading days beforehand. The new rule will take effect on January 9.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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India remains global growth champ with 7.8 percent economy expansion in 2016
United Nations : India remains the global growth champion with its economy set to increase by 7.8 percent in the new year although a World Bank report released Thursday cut it from the 7.9 projected last June.
 
Overall the bank's Global Economic Prospects Report painted a gloomy global outlook cutting the global growth by almost a half percent to 2.9 percent in 2016 from the 3.3 percent forecast last June.
 
In the growth race among the major economies, China remains the runner-up with its economy projected to grow by 6.7 percent this year and 6.5 percent next year. The growth projections for U.S. economy are 2.7 this year, 2.4 next year and 2.2 in 2018.
 
It kept India's economic growth as measured by increase in gross domestic product at 7.9 percent for 2017, "although the pace of reforms has slowed somewhat." For 2018, it cut the projection from 8 percent made last June to 7.9 percent.
 
The report recognised India's resilience saying, "Compared to most other major developing countries, India is well positioned to withstand near-term headwinds and volatility in global financial markets due to reduced external vulnerabilities, a strengthening domestic business cycle, and a supportive policy environment."
 
However, it also drew attention to the dark clouds overhanging the reform process. "In India, progress in reforms is not assured as the upper house of parliament, which the ruling party does not control, has the power to block the government's legislative agenda," the report said. "A failure to pass the goods and services tax (GST) could hamper the government's ability to ramp up spending on infrastructure needs and preserve the status quo of fragmented domestic markets."
 
"Slow progress on land reforms could add to investment delays," it added. "And private investment growth may be unable to build further momentum. The financing of public-private partnerships also remains a challenge."
 
The report also referred to another area of concern, the slowdown in industrial production. Both the services and manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Indices (PMIs) have softened, it said. The PMI fell from 54.5 for December 2014 to 49.15 last month.
 
On the bright side, the report said, "The investment cycle is gradually picking up, led by a government efforts to boost investment in infrastructure, particularly roads, railways and urban infrastructure." It added that India's currency and stock markets weathered the volatility in the global financial markets last year. Sensex, a key Indian stock market index ended 2015 up 1.08 percent.
 
"Progress on infrastructure improvements and government efforts to boost investment are expected to offset the impact of any tightening of borrowing conditions resulting from tighter U.S. monetary policy," the report said. "Such investment will also lift potential growth over the medium term. Low international energy prices and domestic energy reforms will ease energy costs for Indian firms that tend to be energy intensive."
 
Other positives on India's report card that the World Bank noted were:
 
* Sharp reduction in current account deficit, to about 1 percent of GDP in the second quarter of 2015 from about 5 percent in mid-2013 during the turmoil in the financial markets over U.S. Federal Reserve policy.
 
* The central bank rebuilding reserves while net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have stayed positive.
 
* Reduction in the central government's fiscal deficit close to 4 percent of the GDP, down from a peak of 7.6 percent in 2009 through fiscal consolidation.
 
* The recently announced salary increases for public sector employees and support for urban spending from lower inflation offsetting fall in rural incomes because of two successively weak monsoons.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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