Citizens' Issues
Wide 'digital divide' between states: Assocham
New Delhi : There exists a stark "digital divide" among states, with Delhi having the highest score of 238 percent while Bihar and Assam lag behind at around 55 percent, business chamber Assocham said on Sunday, on the basis of "tele-density" or telephone connections for every 100 individuals.
 
"India may have achieved a significant success in reaching the number of telephone subscribers to over one billion, but the tele-density data points to a stark 'Digital Divide' with large populations in Bihar, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh still being deprived to communicate with the rest of the country," the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) said in a statement here.
 
"The digital divide is clearly visible between different states with some of the eastern states not finding favour with the telecom service providers. The reasons may vary between the lack of infrastructure like power availability to even indifference in terms of business opportunities," it added.
 
Compared to the national tele-density of 81.82 percent, the figure for Bihar is 54.25 percent, Assam 55.76 percent, Madhya Pradesh 62.33 percent and Uttar Pradesh 62.74 percent, the report said.
 
On the other end, while the tele-density in Delhi is over 238 percent, that of Himachal Pradesh is 123.19 percent. Other states figuring higher on the tele-density scale are Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka and Kerala.
 
Assocham said the central government along with the states should double their efforts to ensure that both state-run BSNL, as well as private telecom service providers, should reach the states with low tele-density, otherwise the digital divide could widen.
 
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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Good week for sport, bad news of board officials
The focus is back on sport, coming out of court rooms and board rooms, or so it appeared
 
Good news for Indian sport in the last one week. The men's and women's teams have won the Twenty20 cricket series in Australia even as tennis star Sania Mirza claimed her first women's doubles title at the Australian Open, and Pusarla Venkata Sindu clinched the Malaysian Badminton Masters. A rare coincidence!
 
The focus is back on sport, coming out of court rooms and board rooms, or so it appeared. But the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee recommendations to cleanse Indian cricket and its administration continue to be a subject matter of intense discussion among the state associations and officials, each one trying to read and interpret the fine print to suit his personal interests.
 
Even before the detailed Lodha Committee report is fully studied by state associations, as instructed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the appointment of Justice Ajit Prakash Shah as the board's ombudsman has, as suspected, is getting flooded with complaints, the initial ones on the alleged conflict of interest involving some top guns.
 
Smartly, Justice Shah lobbed the ball back into the court of the complainant, asking for the specific rules under which the allegations can be taken up for examination! 
 
The complaint is against three high-profile administrators, two of these former India cricketers, Sourav Ganguly and Vikram Rathour. The third person dragged into the conflict is board secretary Anurag Thakur. A free-lance journalist from Mumbai found a serious conflict of interest with the functioning of all three.
 
It was pointed out that Ganguly has business contacts with owners of the new franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and Thakur and Rathour are said to be cousins and have business connections. The issue has apparently been raised because Thakur is the board secretary, and during his tenure as one of the principal office-bearers Rathour was appointed as a national selector.
 
Justice Shah has taken up the issue with Ganguly and the board for clarification, and even said he had not heard from Ganguly, though the former India captain insists he has sent in his reply.
 
Thakur was quick to refute the allegations, stating his business relations with Rathour have nothing to do with cricket and that their families have known each other for four decades.
 
For good measure, Thakur points to a sinister motive behind the complaints as he sees names of only a particular section of the board officials are being dragged. He also defended the board's media manager, saying he has no stake in the media company he has been linked to. What Thakur doesn't say is that the media manager was involved with a couple of former Test stars as their agent.
 
Whatever Ganguly and Thakur might say, prima facie they cannot deny their personal relations with the people they are involved with and they have to come clean. The complainant has done extensive research before filing his complaints and it is up to the ombudsman to take the call.
 
Ganguly, who is a member of the IPL Governing Council, is a co-owner of Indian Super League football club Atletico de Kolkata along with well-known businessmen. Nothing wrong with the arrangement till one of the tycoons bought IPL's new Pune-based franchise. It would be interesting to see how Ganguly explains it away logically with legalese thrown in.
 
In Thakur's case it is more personal. He was joint secretary when Rathour was appointed as a national selector and he was secretary when the former India opening batsman got the extension, though Rathour qualifies by virtue of being a former Test player.
 
The crux of the matter is not whether Rathour deserves to be a selector, the complainant brought into focus Rathour citizenship, pointing out that he is a British and carries that country's passport. 
 
In the case of the BCCI's media manager, the allegation is that a family member of his is taking care of his business interests. Here it must be mentioned that he also fits in with the media job as he had worked with electronic media for a few years before getting into event management. His proximity to some top players is all too wellknown. In the past, there were disparaging whispers about a board's media adviser being a columnist.
 
Thakur has also obliquely stated that the appointment of ombudsman has given rise to some people to make false allegations. Eventually, he has to explain his position and it is for the ombudsman to decide whether there is any conflict of interest in Ganguly and Thakur-Rathour business dealings.
 
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), of which Ganguly is president, is the first state unit to officially come out with objections to 10 of the 21 recommendations of the Lodha Committee!
 
Good week for sport, bad news of board officials.
 
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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Big gainers when the market declined
Over the last 12 months, the Sensex has been down by about 14.8%. But a handful of stocks recorded massive gains. Which were these stocks?
 
Last January, investors expected the market to put in another year of strong rally after the sharp rise they enjoyed in 2014, following the installation of a new government at the Centre in mid-2014. The S&P BSE Sensex was above 29,000 in January 2015 and seemed to be headed higher. Investors were expecting a “reformist” budget, the second one by the Narendra Modi government. Actually, it was first one that the government had time to plan. After all, the July 2014 budget left the government with very little time to prepare. The budget turned out to be an anti-climax. The Sensex crossed 30,000 but that was the peak. On 20th January 2016, it had touched a low of 23,839, a peak to trough decline of 20.6%. 
 
In this decline, a lot of quality stocks have gone down more than Sensex. But there are some stocks that have bucked the trend. They have doubled, trebled and one has even gone up fivefold. Which are these stocks? We trolled our database to find out the biggest gainers. To eliminate the many thinly-traded stocks that are rigged with impunity, we limited our search to companies, which have market capitalisation of at least Rs1,000 crore and whose shares are liquid, which we have defined as trading 2,000 shares a day on 90% of trading days. Based on this database, we looked up the stocks that did the best. Here is a table that lists the result of this exercise
 
 
The biggest gainer is Kellton Tech Solutions, followed by Rajesh Exports. Kellton is a small CMMi Level 3 and ISO 9001:2008 certified global IT services organisation, headquartered in Hyderabad with development centres in the US and India. Its financials are improving and it has acquired a US software company three days ago. Rajesh Exports is a controversial company, whose price movement is unrelated to its fundamentals.
 
Indeed, some of these stocks are “operator-driven”, meaning they are jacked up only with the intention of dumping them at a later date. But certainly a company like Kwality or Nilkamal Plastics has a solid business model and were undervalued in January given their growth prospects. The flavour of the year was textile stocks. That is the reason why a company like Sangam India did extremely well, even though its growth has been modest. One of the big gainers is High Ground Enterprises which is into Engineering Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) operating in oil & gas, water resource management, roads, telecom, solid waste management, fire and safety etc. In 2014-15 it entered into the business of third party certification, completing work for Indian Oil petrol pumps across 1000 cities and towns in India. Among its clients are Mumbai International Airport Authority, Indian Oil, Raymond, Essar Ports,  etc. Curiously, the company is also getting into visual media, focused on content development, technical media services and post-production. It has set up a boutique digital post-production/technical media facility to cater to domestic and export market. It is difficult to say how much of this genuine. 
 
Morepen Labs which was drowning in huge debt, has literally has come back from the dead. According to the company, Morepen is the leading supplier of Loratadine worldwide including a 90% share of the US market. It is also the largest manufacturer of Montelukast and its intermediates and is an important player in selling its patented form of Atorvastatin Amorphous. In the September quarter, it reported a net profit of Rs3.22 crore which was 10 times that of September 2014.
 
Another company that recorded a fantastic rise in net profit was Nilkamal Plastics. In September 2015, its net profit was Rs25.74 crore compared to Rs6.84 crore the same quarter a year ago. While Nilkamal was a profit-making company that has done even better thanks to lower input costs and wider product range, a big gainer in 2015 was a basket case. One of the most spectacular turnarounds of recent times happened in case of SpiceJet, where Ajay Singh returned at the helm with bag of financial engineering tricks that led to Rs72 crore profit for the September quarter of 2015 against a Rs310 crore loss in the same period a year before. Among the big gainers was Kwality, which was up 191%. What is not clear is as to how the shares of Kwality, whose turnover and profits merely inched up in each of the quarters last year, tripled over the year. Maybe this year will provide a clue. 

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