Companies & Sectors
Centre issues guidelines on direct selling
Following consistent demand by customers of e-commerce business, the Centre on Monday said the "model guidelines" of direct selling had been formulated and the states informed accordingly.
 
According to the guidelines, any direct selling entity conducting sales activities shall submit an undertaking to the Department of Consumer Affairs within 90 days, stating that it is in compliance with these guidelines and shall also provide details of its incorporation, official sources said here.
 
By definition, direct selling includes demonstration and sale of products and services to consumers, usually in their homes or at their jobs.
 
Officials say in the era of internet and e-commerce, direct selling would mean sales made through e-contact arrangements as well as internet sales.
 
Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters that "The state governments and union territories should now take necessary actions to implement the same". 
 
It is envisaged in the guidelines that the state governments will set up a mechanism to monitor and supervise the activities of Direct Sellers, Direct Selling Entity regarding compliance of the guidelines for Direct Selling.
 
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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Noise pollution and road or train rage in Mumbai
Mumbai has the reputation of a friendly and inclusive city, where most people go out of their way to help others. Why are we especially and uncontrollably angry during our commute? While there may be many factors including long daily commutes and over-crowding, a high level of noise pollution, which directly affects mental health, is a major contributing factor.
 
“Noise pollution adversely affects mental health, creating feelings of frustration, irritation and even rage. Adrenalin levels increase with noise exposure and short sudden blasts of noise (like those from horns) create spikes in adrenalin levels in the bloodstream. Continuous exposure too alters the biochemistry of the brain and gives rise to stress responses,” Says consultant psychiatrist, Dr Amit Desai.
 
Road rage and train rage are on the rise and commonly experienced in the daily life of Mumbaikars. Normally sedate persons fight uncontrollably and violently on the road over minor traffic infractions. Women scratching and hitting each other in trains are part of daily commutes and traffic policemen have even been assaulted in the course of their duty and even died. A loud or continuous horn is commonly used as an expression of anger and sometimes precedes a major fight, which can bring other traffic to a standstill.
 
Honorary traffic wardens and traffic policemen are exposed to high noise levels continuously as the major traffic junctions where they regulate traffic are also among the noisiest. Recently, during peak traffic hour, I observed a vehicle with blue rooftop lights (indicating a politician) jump a traffic signal by loudly blowing his horn to clear the path. The traffic policeman standing next to me expressed his immediate angry but helpless response. He told me how provoking anger and fear through belligerent use of the horn was a large part of bullying to break traffic rules. “If we try to stop them, they become abusive,” he said.
 
Anita Lobo, an honorary traffic warden who has regulated traffic in Bandra for over 15 years has experienced the use of the horn as a means to intimidate and threaten. She has stood up to political pressure and continues to regulate traffic at some of the busiest and noisiest traffic junctions like the junction of the Holy Family Hospital at Hill Road in Bandra. “Horns are often used to express aggression,” she says. “It is a short step from the prolonged use of a horn to an all-out fight on the road.”
 
Recently, while conducting an awareness program at two traffic junctions under flyovers, I experienced the uncontrollable distress, which accompanied the loud sounds of near- continuous honking. Directly below the flyover (where the police chowky is placed) the sound was amplified by echo off the concrete on all sides and was even more unbearable. At the JJ Flyover, where the noise levels reached 105dB, I was desperate to leave within 10 minutes. The area under Vakola Flyover was not much better, at 102 dB. While holding placards, it was difficult to speak to drivers to request them not to honk. Traffic Policemen stand at these junctions for over 8 hours every day.
 
 

Still think Indians are ‘used’ to noise pollution? Here are some shocking facts which point to the effects of noise pollution according to WHO:

 

1. 27% of the overall population of India suffers disabling hearing loss as against 11% in High Income countries and 3% in North African countries.

2. 12.3 million children and 18.8 million adults of the region including India, Pakistan, Nepal , Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan suffer disabling hearing loss.

3. Nearly 48% of Indians over 65 years suffer debilitating hearing loss as compared to only 18% in high income countries.

 

 

(Environmental activist Sumaira Abdulali is convener of the Awaaz Foundation, which is works against noise pollution.)

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COMMENTS

Bapoo Malcolm

3 months ago

Empty vessels make the most noise.

S A Narayan

3 months ago

I agree with Mr. Shanbag's suggestion. My experience in Seawoods ,Navi Mumbai is that the local police do respond, sometimes after repeated reminders. One Officer Mr. Shekhar Bagade of NRI police is particularly helpful. While the HC has held the Police to be responsible for curbing noise pollution, expecting them to stop , music and dholkies during immersion and installation processions is a tall order. This is because, every street/gully/or a cluster of societies take out ganapathi processions for immersions. For the police to track them, stop the loud noise of dholkies and that irritating musical instrument(bulbultara?) on the loudspeaker during the processions is near impossible. They cat be present everywhere. I think the HC should ban the use of these noise producing devices in all street processions of whatever nature, be it idol immersions or installations, wedding bharats, Urs processions or any protest rallies etc. No loudspaeakers in public spaces, except in auditoriums. In public spaces, compulsorily only distributed sound systems to be used and even rentals of such devices by pandals to be stopped. Voluntary compliances dont help. Radical option maybe but given our civic sense, seems inevitable.

Subba Rao

3 months ago

The Traffic Police expressing helplessness in not being able to curb incessant honking and violation of traffic rules seems to be the story of Indian culture today. The citizens - many of them otherwise educated and sensible in their private lives - turn into possessed beings when behind the wheels or handlebars. And the Indian psyche that laws are meant to be broken - chalta hain yaar - is the bane of orderly conduct of the society. Laws are meant to be enforced and the lawkeepers better be equipped to do that. Otherwise, our rapid descent into anarchy looks unstoppable.

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

3 months ago

During Ganapati and Navratri festivals, which come within a span of 15 days, and each festival run for 10 days each, produce maximum noise.
When we lodge complaint on Tel. 100 or 103, local police stations just don't take care. They say that loud speakers are permitted from 7am to 10pm, and ignore the volume with which instruments and music on loud speaker are played.
All functions, when they register their performance with the police, they should also register organiser's two mobile numbers of two different persons, who are responsible for conducting of the function. When some one makes complaint to police station, concerned police station should immediately call organiser's mobile number, and ask them to stop playing or play with low noise, as the case may be. This will save police beat marshel's time to arrive at the pendol, to stop sound pollution.
I also suggest that, those persons who lend loud speaker and music instrument to such pendols, should be warned, that, if Police receive any complaint against their noise pollution, such hirer's licence be cancelled for six months.

SEBI puts brake on crowdfunding
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has issued a warning for investors asking them to stay away from participating in fund-raising through digital platforms. This warning is surprising, especially when in 2014, SEBI itself has floated a consultation paper on crowdfunding in India, which underlined how this method would help entrepreneurs to raise funds without incurring too much cost. Add to this, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in April 2016 released a consultation paper on peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, which is one of the forms of crowdfunding. 
 
In a release, SEBI said, "It has also come to the notice of SEBI that certain electronic platforms are facilitating fund-raising on digital platforms like websites and other internet platforms, which are similar to the platforms of stock exchanges. These digital platforms are neither authorised nor recognised under any law governing the securities market. The electronic platforms are allegedly facilitating investment in the form of private placement with companies, as the offer is open to all the investors registered with the platform amounting to a contravention of the provisions of Securities Contract (Regulation) Act, 1956 (SCRA) and the Companies Act, 2013. Only recognised stock exchanges provide a platform where equity and other securities issued by companies are listed and traded in accordance with the provisions of the SCRA.” 
 
Technology has opened a virtual world, which is now gaining traction for doing business surpassing geographical limitations. Lending and borrowing is an age-old relationship. Technology is now removing the limitations of physical presence for lending decisions and is creating a new virtual space for undertaking lending decisions.
 
As per a report from the Economic Times, this SEBI note has virtually pronounced over half-a-dozen digital equity crowdfunding platforms (ECP), including prominent ones like Grex, LetsVenture, Termsheet, Equity Crest and Tracxn, as unauthorised, unregulated and illegal. "Such platforms have emerged as a new source of funding for startups. Close to 200 companies have raised Rs350 crore to Rs450 crore on these platforms over the past 18 months," the report says citing industry estimates. 
 
According to the report, SEBI is not comfortable with the structure of ECPs in the country. It says, "None of these platforms meet the critical net worth criteria (of Rs100 crore) required to set up security exchanges. SEBI is also worried about small investors getting sucked into unknown, illiquid companies. Although these platforms cater to a closed set of registered investors, lower investment threshold limits (in many cases, as low as Rs5 lakh) make them almost 'barrier-free'."
 
Over past few years, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, a form of crowdfunding has become an important part of the financial services sector in many countries worldwide. Companies like Lending Club, in the United States of America and Zopa in the United Kingdom, which started their operation just few years back have already became a threat to the retail banks. These companies are now worth billions. They advance loans of nearly equal values as any retail banks in the respective countries. However, SEBI seems to have taken a different step with its recent warning about crowdfunding. 
 
In April, the central bank released a consultation paper on P2P lending that outlined pros and cons of regulating the sector and proposes a suitable framework for regulating this activity. This includes minimum capital, permitted activity, governance requirements, fair practices code for customer dealing and data security for P2P lending. RBI in its first bi-monthly monetary policy for FY2016-17 had mentioned about releasing the consultation paper on P2P lending. “…the contours of regulating P2P lending will be decided in consultation with SEBI,” RBI had said.
 
In July 2016, quoting people in the know, a report from Business Standard stated that SEBI had decided not to proceed with final regulations on crowdfunding. The report says, "Divergent views from the market and lack of interest for its recently launched start-up platform have discouraged SEBI from issuing final guidelines on crowdfunding, said a source. Also, the market feedback given to SEBI was that there might not be enough takers for the regulator’s proposed framework as it was ‘too restrictive’, the source added".
 
Coming back to SEBI's consultation paper issued two years ago, it talked about a structure and framework for crowdfunding in the country. It said, "The proposed structure for crowdfunding will provide an enabling framework. Crowdfunding may provide an alternative source of capital for entrepreneurs that either have limited access to capital or have exhausted other available sources of capital. This also saves the entrepreneur from a lot of effort required in obtaining capital and allows him/ her to focus on the business."
 
"Crowdfunding facilitates such entrepreneurs in raising funds without incurring too much of the costs by doing away with the requirement of appointing a merchant banker, marketing and advertising expenses and book building. Further, there shall be no listing requirements and no prospectus needs be filed with SEBI. However, a company seeking display in recognized crowdfunding platform may be required to pay fees to such platform, which is expected to be substantially lower in comparison to the current issue expenditure. The fees to a platform may be dependent on various factors like number of platforms in the market, number of companies seeking display at such crowdfunding platforms," the SEBI paper had said.
 
In India, the traditional sources of funding are well established. Banks and financial institutions in India have been largely responsible for making available credit in the economy. The needs of the financially excluded have been catered to through community-based financing, chit funds, co-operative societies and so on. All these sources of funding, conventional or otherwise, over the years have had a limitation of physical interface. Since technological intervention is more and more becoming a part of life, the redundancy of physical interaction will be growing in the lending and financial services business as well. SEBI, as market regulator, may well have to come around to a solution for ECP rather than issuing a blanket ban.

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COMMENTS

Srinivasan

3 months ago

The question is what should be done to make it easier, transparent, and legitimate for crowdfunding. It has now come to stay as a way of life. Also given the large number of new tech startups - you can be assured that 8 of the 10 are quite likely to fail...
But banning a visible platform, could result in more informal networks - which will never see the light of any regulation.
So, we need regulation and have to be progressive...

Manish Kumar

3 months ago

Also such platforms neither have an aspiration to become an exchange nor should they be judged through that lens. The SCRA act is a fairly old act - there waa nothing called digital in those days; today the PM is talking about digitizing governance through the govts digital India initiative. Moreover as mentioned in the article, RBI, DIPP etc all have been singing a tune that is more enabling for new and more efficient ways of doing business. All this simply doesn't add up - SEBI's move is in contravention of the general principles adopted by various regulators and government including the Indian government. These platforms are an opportunity to increase access to capital and reduce the cost of capital for the our companies - both Startups and SMEs.

Manish Kumar

3 months ago

SEBI has simply absolved itself of its responsibility and mandate of market development. It is very discouraging and in bad faith to paint such FinTech ventures to be in 'contravention of law'. There is no law that is pertinent. We have made many submissions to SEBI abd have been requesting them to take cognizance of how things can be done in the new paradigm of digital

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