Citizens' Issues
Hurry! Convert your old passport into a machine-readable one

From 25 November 2015, only machine-readable passports (MRPs) would be allowed adhering to the ICAO guidelines. Therefore, if you hold a passport issued before 2001, it is time to get it converted into an MRP one


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has set 24 November 2015 as the global deadline for phasing out all passports that cannot be read by machine (machine-readable passports -MRPs). Although since 2001, India, as a member of ICAO, has been issuing machine-readable passports, there are several people who hold passports issued before that. The government has asked such people to convert their passports into machine-readable one.

“If any Indian citizen irrespective of their residence status holds a handwritten passport or has a 20 year validity passport which extends beyond 24 November 2015, then she should immediately apply for re-issuance of a MRP-compliant passport to avoid any immigration/ emigration hassles in the future. The processing time of these passports hardly takes two-three weeks,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a release.

MRP is a machine-readable travel document conforming to the specifications contained in Doc 9303, Part 1 where the data on the identity page is encoded in optical character recognition (OCR) format. According to the ICAO, a non-MRP includes handwritten passports as well as those that have no machine-readable zone (MRZ) or includes another family member’s name in addition to the name of the passport holder.

ICAO, created in 1944 is a specialised agency of the United Nations, which serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among its 191-member states.


According to the ICAO, having a MRP-compliant passport system would improve immigration management and assist in the fight against illegal immigration, terrorism and trafficking in person.

In order to ensure MRP-compliance, the fee structure and decisions involving short validity passports (SVP) have been reviewed by the Consular at the Passport and Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Issuance of a Short Validity Passport (SVP) having validity from zero to five years, for which a fee of Rs1,000 under the normal category and Rs3,000 under the tatkal category is charged. For passports having validity of more than five years but less than 10 years (validity of normal passport), the fees prescribed for a normal validity passport will be levied. Moreover, the extension of SVPs by manual endorsements will be stopped requiring issuance of fresh booklets thereby encouraging the practice of MRP passports.

A SVP passport is usually issued in cases of urgency such as on production of an admission letter to a student for an international exam, non-delivery of passport to the applicants due to loss, for Indians residing abroad and visiting India for a short period on production of necessary identification documents, proof of travel for a maximum period of one year and to applicants who may have a criminal case pending in any court, subject to a written permission granted by the court.


Auto Sales: Europe, US and India to drive global demand in 2015F

According to Nomura, in 2015F, strength in the US and China would continue to drive global auto growth, coupled with further improvement in Europe and India


Global auto demand would continue to be steady with a 3.2% increase driven by Europe, the US and India and these three markets would also drive profitability, says Nomura in a research note. It said, "In our opinion, the largest changes affecting the auto sector over the past six months on the macro front have been yen depreciation and lower crude oil prices."


"However," Nomura cautioned, "the market environment is likely to remain harsh in some emerging economies such as Russia, Indonesia and Brazil owing to currency depreciation and excess production capacity, while in Japan, we think there will be a further deterioration, particularly in the mini-vehicle segment."


According to the note, while lower oil prices are positive for the US and India, it would be negative for Russian auto market. It said, "Cheaper gas is likely to drive a mix improvement in the US market. For India, this means lower inflation and lower operating costs for consumers. On the other hand, oil dependent economies such as Russia are likely to suffer."


In 2015F, Nomura said, it looks for lower gasoline prices in the US to provide a further boost to the increasing consumer interest in light trucks, especially SUVs and crossovers. An increase in the sales weighting of high-ticket, high-margin light trucks should be a positive for many automakers. In India, which imports the majority of its crude oil, lower crude oil prices help to improve the trade balance and to dampen inflation, and help to reduce running costs via lower petrol and diesel prices. These factors will be positive for auto demand, it added.


"In contrast, auto sales are already falling in Russia, which is highly dependent on oil exports, and the rouble has been depreciating further. The country's auto parts industry is not yet adequately developed, and it imports many auto parts as well as autos themselves, thus we think the earnings environment for automakers will remain harsh owing to a negative impact from currency depreciation as well as lower volumes," the note said.


For India, Nomura sees strong economic recovery and lower fuel prices to support robust volume growth in FY16/3F. Segment wise, MHCVs are likely to grow 30%, passenger vehicles up 16%, while two-wheeler volumes are likely to grow around 12% in FY16/3F. "We believe benign commodity prices, lower discounts/ incentives and operating leverage benefits will drive margin expansion, leading to strong double-digit earnings growth for most of the Indian automakers in FY16/3F," it added.

Nomura said compared automakers listed in Japan, Korea, China, India, and Indonesia by their forecasted 2015 profit growth and P/E ratios relative to domestic stock markets. "Our screening revealed that Japanese automakers are the most appealing given expectations for rapid profit growth and low relative P/E multiples. Indian automakers look the next most appealing, as despite slightly high valuations compared to other regions, we expect profits to grow strongly over the medium term. In China, the passenger car market continues to grow despite stiff competition. Meanwhile, we expect limited price competition by Japanese automakers and thus think the impact of the weak yen on Korean automakers will not be as unfavourable as some investors expect. In Indonesia, automakers have added substantial production capacity over the past few years even as demand has stalled owing to a slowdown in the economy, higher gasoline prices, and rising interest rates. We think market conditions are likely to deteriorate further."


On global front, Nomura said its top picks are Mazda Motor and Nissan Motor as both the companies have scope to increase sales volumes and profits by leveraging company-specific factors such as technology and their new model cycle. These two automakers are also likely to benefit from favourable competitive conditions and forex rates in key markets, and lastly both automakers look attractive with low valuations, it added.


In its regional picks, Nomura said four automakers, Hyundai Motor (Korea), Great Wall Motors (China), Maruti Suzuki (India), and Toyota Motor (Japan) look appealing.


SC tells BCCI to let Cricket remain a gentleman’s game

The Supreme Court told BCCI that cricket must be played in its true spirit and should remain a gentleman’s game


The Supreme Court on Monday warned the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) against 'killing the game of cricket' saying it must be played in its true spirit and should remain a gentleman's game. The apex court was hearing the spot-fixing case related with the Indian Premier league (IPL).


"If you allow these things to happen, then you are killing the game of cricket,'' it said, while referring to IPL spot-fixing scandal.


"We take the findings of Justice Mudgal Committee’s report as gospel truth,'' it said.


While questioning the return of N Srinivasan as the chief of BCCI, the Supreme Court said, “Can’t make a distinction between BCCI and IPL. IPL is a by-product of BCCI.”


“Some people who are in BCCI now own a team. It has become a mutual benefit society. Ownership of team raises conflict of interest. BCCI chief has to run the show but you have a team, which raises questions. Can BCCI president own a team? How far is this fair?” it added.


Commenting on Srinivasan, the apex court said, "You will have to address question of conflict of interest as head of BCCI and also as owner of IPL team, whose official is found to be involved in betting''.


BCCI, however, dismissed any conflict of interest.


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