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Sensex falls like crazy as fear wipes out another 1,800 points

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India's virus tally just the tip of the iceberg?

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NEW DELHI: With Covid-19 cases increasing, India's apex medical body is intensifying the random sampling of people who display flu-like symptoms but don't have any history of travel to outbreak zones to determine whether community transmission is taking place.Each of the 51 Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) laboratories is to test 10 such samples every week. The exercise began on March 15. Before this, the ICMR had picked up 20 samples and tested them at 13 labs to check for community transmission between February 15 and 29."Since the number of cases are more, we are more aggressive now," said Nivedita Gupta, scientist, epidemiology and communicable diseases, ICMR. "We thought that in order to rule out community transmission, let's keep on checking these samples also for the presence for Covid-19."This comes as reports from other countries suggest that the spread of Covid-19 by people who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic may be responsible for more transmission than previously thought.ICMR experts aren't convinced about following South Korea's strategy, which has reported more recoveries from Covid-19 than new infections through aggressive testing without any lockdowns. Indian experts said they will revise the testing protocol depending on the situation."The testing strategy will completely change if we find any positive case in these random samples that we plan to test," Gupta said. According to ICMR director general Balram Bhargava, "The testing protocol is a moving target...The testing strategy will be revised in a week's time if it's needed to and having looked at the circumstances." South Korea, where the outbreak is said to have stabilised, is mass testing nearly 20,000 people every day and has a fatality rate of 0.7%. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that asymptomatic transmission is a possibility. 74644237 "Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads," according to the CDC website.Gupta said the government wants to avoid blanket checks. "First of all, we don't want to do any indiscriminate testing as now everybody is asking for a test, so somewhere you will have to rationalise the test," she said.Only those "with travel history to high-risk countries, anyone who had contact with a lab-positive person is requested to be quarantined or home quarantined for 14 days," as per ICMR guidelines, Bhargava said. "During those 14 days, if he becomes symptomatic, he should be laboratory tested. If the person is asymptomatic, he doesn't need to be tested."Other than the network of ICMR testing laboratories, there 35-40 government-run facilities that are acting as collection centres.Bhargava is "not worried about capacity" and there's no discussion about roping in private units. India can currently conduct up to 10,000 tests a day. The ICMR laboratories have about 100,000 testing kits and an additional 200,000 have been ordered, said RR Gangakhedkar, ICMR chief epidemiologist.The number of positive Covid-19 cases in the country rose to 107 on Sunday, including 17 foreign nationals. Two people are confirmed to have died of the disease, one in Delhi and the other in Karnataka.

How to survive a market in pandemic's grip

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In just weeks, the Coronavirus pandemic has shaved off nearly a third of the global market cap. The Indian equity market bounced back valiantly on Friday, but the Sensex still closed 20% below the peak achieved two months ago. Investors can get some cold comfort that other markets have fallen more. The spread of the virus has triggered panic across the world and shaken the confidence of investors.Making things worse is the crude oil war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which has injected volatility into other assets. "Earlier, only the equity and debt markets were impacted by the Covid-19 scare; now the commodities and currency market are in turmoil due to the crude oil war. After a crash of this magnitude, market confidence usually does not come back soon. So, it is better to wait for calm before taking big investment decisions," says Anil Sarin, CIO - Equities, Centrum Broking. Before considering what investors should do now, let us understand the reasons behind this turmoil. 74623443 74623450 Covid-19 now a pandemicAs of 12 March, only 29% of the active cases were in China and the remaining 71% were in other parts of the world. Active cases mean the infected people who are still being treated and not yet recovered. While the situation is improving in China, Covid-19 is leading to lockdowns in countries like Italy, South Korea and Iran. Due to spiralling numbers, the US and many countries in Europe are staring at a grim situation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel estimates that "up to 70% of the country's population could contract the Coronavirus".The impact of this on global economic growth is going to be huge. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has halved the global gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection for 2020 due to Coronavirus. The disease will obviously impact the Indian economy as well. "The current restrictions will impact most economic activities like travelling, consumption, etc. Manufacturing will be impacted due to supply chain disruptions and this in turn will delay capacity additions and capex spending," says Brinda Jagirdar, Economist, SBI.Crude oil warTo compound the global economic uncertainty, an ill-timed global crude oil war has begun. The demand by Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to further restrict production from April was rejected by Russia, resulting in the scrapping of existing restrictions. Increasing production at a time when demand is low due to the Covid-19 pandemic is bad for the crude oil market. Crude oil prices have crashedFor oil importing countries like India, this fall may be a blessing in disguise. 74623465 "Though there will be counter cyclical rallies during times of central bankers' actions like rate cuts, the outlook is clearly bearish and in worst case, Brent oil can go down to $25 level," says Praveen Singh, AVP, Fundamental Research – Commodities & Currencies, Sharekhan Comtrade. However, the crude oil war is a blessing in disguise for oil importing economies like India. "The negative impact of the pandemic on Indian economy will get cushioned by the fall in crude oil prices because it will help to bring down our current account deficit, fiscal deficit and inflation, etc.," says Jagirdar.Financial sector woesThe domestic consumption slowdown, triggered by the failure of large financial institutions such as IL&FS and DHFL, is still lingering. Now we have another situation in the form of the Yes Bank crisis. Though only time will tell how the Yes Bank fiasco will shape up, the revival package for the bank is a good short-term step. "The Yes Bank crisis seems to be heading for a solution due to government and RBI actions. If that happens, at least one immediate worry will be out of the way," says Sarin.While other commodities are down, gold has gone up because of the demand for a safe haven in uncertainty. The hope of rate cuts by global central bankers (the US Fed has already cut rates by 50 basis points) is also keeping gold demand intact. "Our initial target for gold was $1,700. However, it can go up to $1,800 if Covid-19 is not contained soon and central bankers are forced to come out with more rate cuts," says Singh. The impact gold rally will be more for Indian investors because of the fall in rupee now.Gold becomes attractive in uncertaintyGlobal gold prices are rising but the fall in the rupee will push it up further in India. 74623510 Gold exposure brings down portfolio volatility and experts recommend 5-10% allocation to gold in an individual's portfolio. Investors underweight on gold should add more now. The best way to invest in gold is through gold ETFs or gold bonds, not in physical gold. But don't go overboard. "Gold has already rallied and most of the fear premium is already priced in. Since global gold ETFs are very liquid, there may be profit booking if the price continues to move up," says Lakshmi Iyer, Head of Fixed Income and Product, Kotak Mutual Fund.Stick to short-term debt fundsAnother safe haven asset, government securities, are also rallying. The 10-year US treasury yield is now at 0.75%. The 10-year government bond yield in India is also close to a 10-year low. Since the US Fed has already cut the rates by 50 basis points, the debt market is hoping for a smilar rate cut by RBI to fight the weakness in the domestic economy.10-year govt bond yield is at 10-year lowSince further yield reduction is limited, it is better to be with short term papers. 74623589 Bond yields and prices are inversely correlated and long-duration funds have rallied on these hopes. However, experts say the long-duration rally is over and future returns may not be as good. "The rate cut hopes are already priced in, so the 10-year yield may range between 6% and 6.25% and not offer much further upside from long duration funds. However, Short to medium segment, ie 1-5 year papers, looks attractive now," says Iyer. Dwijendra Srivastava, CIO (debt), Sundaram Mutual Fund concurs with this view. "The duration risk increases with low yield and since the yield is not expected to go down significantly from 6%, there is no reason to take that risk. Better to stay with 2-3 year buckets," he says.Long duration funds rally may be overBond yields are at 10-year low and may not fall further. Short-term funds are better now. 74623606 Equity markets in bear hugWith more than 20% cut in benchmark indices, the Indian equity market has entered the bear market territory. Experts say investors should be cautious and not jump in right now. "Despite the cut, our broader market is still not in cheap valuations zone. However, risk is low here due to lesser leverage in India compared to other markets," says Sarin.Sensex PE is below its 10-year averageWith the market back in the fair valuation zone, long-term investors can get in slowly. 74623642 But the fact that the Indian market is out of the overvaluation zone should provide comfort to long-term investors. The broader market valuation has gone below its 10-year average while the 10-year real return from the Sensex is in the negative. In other words, this turmoil is an opportunity for long-term investors. "If you are a longterm investor with a 5-7 year view, this is a fantastic time to start investing. However, the market could fall another 8-10% in between," says Jimeet Modi, CEO, Samco Securities. Jaspreet Singh Arora, CIO, Equentis Wealth Advisory Servies concurs with this view. "New investors should park around 50% of their equity allocation in the next two weeks and the balance slowly in a staggered manner," he says.10-year Sensex CAGR is below inflationSensex rarely gives negative real CAGR. It has given decent returns after incidents like this. 74623659 Sensex at 2-year low, mid-caps are lowerDue to the deep correction, long-term investors can consider invetsing in mid-caps now. 74623679 5-year SIP returns of Sensex almost zeroFive-year SIP returns of Sensex falling to zero is rare. Future returns have been good. 74623684 Experts are also advising investors to stick to large-caps. "Since large-caps have corrected more than 20% now, you have margin of safety there. Further fall in quality large-caps will be limited. However, that can't be said about mid- and small-caps," says Arora. "It is not the time to get aggressive or adventurous. Instead of searching for small-caps, investors should restrict to quality large-caps that have corrected recently. Among mid-caps, restrict to companies that have low debt and the ones that generate free cash flows," says Modi.Investors with a higher risk appetite can start nibbling at mid-caps, where the cut has been more pronounced. Others can consider getting into this segment through mutual funds. "Investors who want to get into the mid-cap space now should do it through mutual funds. Stagger your investments over the next 12-18 months," says Amit Jain, CEO & Co-Founder, Ashika Wealth Advisors.The market is going through a period of flux and investors need to shift between sectors to make most of it. They need to rebalance from overvalued sectors to undervalued ones and from sectors with bleak prospects to those looking bright. The pharma sector looks attractive now. "Despite the recent outperformance, pharma valuation is still reasonable. Defensive sectors will do well in the coming 1-2 years and pharma is the best candidate," says Jain.Just like pharma will benefit from the Covid-19 spread, there are several other sectors that will directly benefit from the fall in crude oil. "Sectors like paints, speciality chemicals, hair oil, cement, pvc pipes, etc will benefit due to fall in crude prices and therefore, are worth betting on now," says Arora. Though aviation is expected to benefit from crude oil crash, same will be nullified following the fall in traffic due to the pandemic.The entire consumption pack is expected to do badly in the coming months. It is also very overvalued. "Despite the recent cut, FMCG stocks (other than ITC) are still overvalued now," says Jain. Banking and financial services is another sector investors can reduce exposure to now. Though Yes Bank may be saved for the time being, the crisis it created will linger for longer as PSU banks have to bail out weak entities. Private banks are also facing the music due to the Yes Bank incident, with depositors shifting money from small private sector banks to PSU banks. Also, the good private banks are quoting at very high valuations. "We have marginally lowered our BFSI weight because of the increased risk there. Attractive valuation in other sectors is another reason for this reduction," says Arora.

How Telangana is redefining data-driven governance

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On February 14, an official of the Telangana government's information and public relations team tweeted a graphic with a picture of the state's upcoming "command and control centre", along with a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera. A translation of the Telugu text said thus: "In six months, the command and control building will be ready. One lakh cameras will be processed in under a minute. If you got out for work, by the time you are back 50 cameras can spot you. Every inch of the state will be under police radar. If a crime happens anywhere, there will be information immediately."Safe Hyderabad... Shandaar Hyderabad... https://t.co/pHStUFDXVy— I&PR DD Ramana (@IPR_DD_Ramana) 1581685218000 It wasn't quite a threat.The ongoing construction of the "command and control centre" building or the "twin towers" as it is locally called, at the heart of Hyderabad's Banjara Hills area, is an unmissable sight. A layman could mistake the building for a swanky corporate campus of a large tech company like Facebook or Google — a familiar sight in the city given its rapid, two-decade-long rise as an information technology hub in India.One of the large towers in this building (somewhere around 60% of the construction), Telangana police officials say, would house the Telangana Police's state technology centre and data centres. One entire wing, with a centralised hub of sorts, where the police could access an initial six lakh CCTV cameras, which could potentially rise to ten lakh by the end of 2020. A recent report by the Bureau of Police Research and Development stated that Telangana had installed nearly 64% (or 2,75,528) of all CCTV cameras in India as of January 2019. However, the state's police officials insist that that number has more than doubled to a statewide figure of six lakh, with nearly 50% of those operating in the tri-commissionerates of Hyderabad — Hyderabad city, Rachakonda and Cyberabad. A simple back of the envelope calculation would suggest that Hyderabad (which has 40% of the population of Telangana — 3.52 million people) would have one camera for every 46-47 citizens. But this is not where it ends. Hyderabad, as part of its safe and smart city project, has also deployed an "integrated traffic management system", which uses surveillance cameras and Internet of Things-enabled sensors to detect traffic violations and streamline everyday traffic in key junctions of the city.There's also facial recognition, which the police has been using for various use cases, including identifying and reuniting missing children, and deploying facial recognition cameras in key transit junctions (railway stations and bus stations) to identify known criminals. The government on its part, is also using facial recognition to issue pension certificates and recently, the state election commission used the technology to verify voters in a municipal election in a Hyderabad suburb.74644873 While a lot of these use cases do not yet match up to global numbers or even standards, especially in countries like China, the development comes in the backdrop of a renewed focus around surveillance, data security and privacy around India's technology policy discourse.Scaling the third eyesTelangana's tryst with mass surveillance goes back to its pre-bifurcation days. In 2013, the then united Andhra Pradesh amended its public safety act, making it mandatory for all "establishments" (where a gathering of 100 or more people is expected at a time) to provide access controls and install CCTV surveillance cameras, with "a provision for storage of video footage for 30 days." Once Telangana was born in 2014, the government doubled down on the same, initially following the New York and Chicago prototype."As a new state, it was normal to expect some disturbance. And we had to instil the safety factor in the minds of the people. We had to resort to confidence-building measures," says L Jeevan Reddy, a former IT veteran who is now a consultant with the Telangana Police. Given Andhra Pradesh's legacy of e-governance, it saw technology as the enabler of these measures.And CCTVs, with a law mandating it, became the starting point. "CCTVs, we felt could be the first one. It was a low hanging fruit, in the sense that with relatively less effort, we could get much faster results," Reddy adds. Notwithstanding the infrastructure challenges of network connectivity and power, it went ahead with the plan. Today, Telangana police officials claim a 40% reduction in crime rate across the state, with heinous crimes like chain-snatching reducing 98% from 2014. From an investigation point of view, these officials add, that 99% of suspects are nabbed "within 24 hours of the crime," including the four perpetrators of the Disha rape case, who were later shot dead in an encounter.It adopted a three-pronged approach to scale up its deployment. First, through state government projects and executed by a Chennai-headquartered strategic business unit of Larsen and Toubro — L&T Smart World and Communications. This included 10,000 cameras, storage and backend networking across the three commissionerates of Hyderabad under the "safe and smart city project", which officials describe as an "integrated safe city platform.""This is not just about surveillance, but also process automation. Triggering certain standard operating policing procedures which are typically siloed," says a person aware of the Telangana Police's technology initiatives. He adds, "This would include patrolling, incident management and investigation. So in this case, it would involve enabling field officers with real-time information." At the back-end, the technology it uses includes artificial intelligence, deep tech and machine learning, computer vision, geospatial analysis and IT process automation. "Collectively, it is referred to as augmented intelligence. This is basically AI with human at the centre," the person adds.The second layer is what the Telangana police is a community project, with no or indirect investment from the government, and purely based on investments in CCTVs from a community via corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. This includes public sector units or private corporations, besides development funds allotted to members of parliaments and legislative assemblies. These cameras, which are required to cover the interiors of the roads, and entry and exit points of neighbourhoods, are also connected to the central system, besides the local police station, which also acts as a command centre. A proprietary AI algorithm, which uses machine learning (image recognition), the person quoted earlier says, "helps you solve things faster." In Hyderabad city alone, there are 12,000 such cameras, police officials add. The community project has thus far covered more than 1500 kilometres. "Their footprint is very large. It helps us explode into the entire city," says Reddy, before adding, "We have also received good support from internet service providers like ACT Broadband and telecom companies like Jio." In the case of funds involving members of legislative bodies, tendering is used, while for private and corporates, based on the urgency, the Telangana police has empanelled vendors it could procure CCTVs from. In Hyderabad's adjoining commissionerate of Cyberabad, which covers the IT corridor, the corporations and police have come together to set up a "Cyberabad Security Council."The third layer is what the Telangana police calls "Nenu Saitham" or "Me Too" in Telugu, for individual coverage, which it launched in 2017. These involve houses or gated communities and commercial businesses (shops etc) putting up one or two cameras focusing on entry and exit points, parking lots and roads. In the case of liquor shops, a 2017 government order mandated the deployment of two CCTV cameras per store. "This is our force multiplier," says Reddy, while insisting that the police do not have control over these cameras. "These are not integrated into our central system."Today, all of the state's 31 districts follow the same models. "We have standardised the processes and policies to spread it across the state. We have also standardised technology and attributes," insists Reddy, before adding, "No state, or nowhere in the world, has anyone gone to this scale and standardisation."From the eyes to the faceLast Thursday, at the facial recognition unit at command and control centre of the Hyderabad police in Basheer Bagh, an operator zooms into a "hit" (a successful match) he just received — an accused walking out of the Secunderabad railway station, was matched with a database of mugshots of known criminals the police already had, with an accuracy of near 95%. It is all in real-time. As the footage comes in, the facial recognition algorithm, powered by a leading Japanese provider of FRS technology, would separate the images on the video, which is then matched to the database. The database also includes "lists" maintained by the Hyderabad Police, categorised on the type of crimes committed by the accused to lists or profiles like "Naxals".Upon receiving this hit, the command and control centre would then alert the nearest police station to apprehend the person for further questioning, and arrest, if necessary. This was done via the eighteen high-end facial recognition cameras the Hyderabad Police has deployed in key transit locations.The brass tacks of facial recognition technology say that there are 80 nodal points on a face. For a successful match, usually, 14-22 points are needed. Since the deployment of facial recognition cameras in 2018, the Hyderabad police claims to have apprehended 200 people via its facial recognition system (FRS), of which 36 apprehensions have happened this year alone. "FRS is good in a controlled environment," says Reddy. By controlled environment, he means spaces where crowds are regulated. Like railway stations or bus stations, or even airports.Besides, the Telangana police also uses FRS as a feature in an app — TSCOP (Telangana State COP), which allows field constables or officers to click an image of a suspect and run it against a database of known and accused criminals already stored in the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS). "We mostly use this against repeat offenders, especially those involved in property crimes — robbery, snatching, burglary and so on. It is not used against a random citizen," says a senior state Telangana police officer. However, previously, the Telangana Police had tweeted and later deleted images of police officers using the TSCOP app against random citizens. ET has reviewed these images provided by a source. This was confirmed by other Telangana Police sources who said that these tablets can be used to take pictures of any "random person" to check with the database. The source indicated that city police in Hyderabad and some other districts were using it "for random checking." "In their push to become a crime-free city, the cops have made everyone a suspect. In the name of contactless policing, they are pushing facial recognition and CCTVs, but they continue to randomly stop people on the streets and take biometrics to check if they are a criminal. All of these practices without any code of practice or law are dangerous to civil rights and fundamental right to privacy," says Srinivas Kodali, a Hyderabad-based independent researcher and digital rights activist.But beyond apprehending criminals, the women's safety wing of the Telangana Police has resorted to using FRS to track missing children in the state through two annual operations in January and July — Operation Smile and Operation Muskaan respectively. The Telangana police has indigenously built an app — Darpan, which uses facial recognition at the front-end, with AI and deep integration with CCTNS.Darpan, according to an internal instruction manual reviewed by ET, allows field officers to click photographs of children found or "link from photo gallery in the detection tab" to "compare it with those available in the database." In the event of a missing case, registered in any police station across the country, the CCTNS integration "instantly detects and furnishes details, which facilitates in tracking the child." But in the event of no successful match, the app allows a field officer to "enrol the photograph and details of the person", with mandatory data fields such as "Name, Description, Language, Place Found etc."At the backend, Darpan uses batch processing (matching multiple images at a time) to retrieve details of the child, and runs it against a missing and found database. "We already have a database of missing children at the state level through the CCTNS," says Swati Lakra, the inspector general of police for women safety, Telangana. Besides, "the missing data of child care institutions and shelter homes are uploaded on the Darpan app as a database," she adds. Thus far, the Telangana Police has successfully matched 59 missing children, with 29 of them reunited with their families within the state or elsewhere in the country.But this is where things get a little hazy — the enrolment process. Lakra says, "Even if they (police officers who have been given the app) see a child, and are suspicious that the child may be lost or doesn't not have adult supervision on the street, for the sake of ascertaining who the child is, they have to click a picture." This some activists allege could be a violation of the child's right to privacy. However, Lakra insists that data is "well-protected" and is "not for everyone", with "various levels of admin control to restrict access and ensure accountability."Selfie-based governanceIt is not just law and order where the Telangana government has seen use cases in facial recognition. There's also service delivery, where it has now started using emerging technology. For services such as the issuance of a pension life certificate, the Telangana government, through its MeeSeva department's app — T Folio — uses "selfies", as part of its "real-time digital authentication of identity" technology. This is part of its eventual vision of what officials call "contactless governance."The RTDAI technology enables pensioners to click a selfie along with one other identity proof (voter ID, driving license or even RC number) and upload it via the T Folip app, where the Pension Department is also integrated. Upon upload, the backend does a "real-time check" to verify if the image is live (using an AI-based "Liveness" verification), along with demographic matching (between the pension database and the card database using big data and machine learning) and photo matching (deep learning-based "photo comparison"). For this project, the government has acquired three different APIs, which have been integrated at the backend.According to GT Venkateswara Rao, the commissioner of electronic service delivery and special commissioner e-governance in the Government of Telangana, the accuracy of this real-time authentication technology is close to 93%. "It's like a three-factor authentication (liveness + demographic + photo) . It is useful because fingerprints get partially erased in elders," he says. "Twin objectives. For the citizens, it's convenient, and for the government, it's transparency," Rao adds. The government is now likely to extend this technology to other use cases such as elections, marriage certificates, and renewals of driving licences. "We believe that no one should come to the office for any service unless there is an absolute need. This is what contactless and presenceless governance truly is," Rao says, while adding that it is an alternate delivery stream. "It is not mandatory. If people want to visit our offices, they're most welcome to do so."Recently, Telangana's state election commission also experimented with facial recognition for voter identification in ten booths during municipal elections in the Hyderabad suburb of Kompally. Rao insists this was entirely consent-based, as in a voter could opt out of the same if he chose not to. The exercise saw an accuracy of 65-85%, with other states like Haryana interested in replicating this experiment. However, this did not go well with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), who registered a complaint with the state election commission. Asaduddin Owaisi, the AIMIM chief and member of parliament from Hyderabad, told ET in a phone conversation, "The facial recognition done by the state election commission is a direct violation of the Puttaswamy judgment on privacy. At a time when there are no safeguards, and the personal data protection bill is yet to be passed, and the DNA bill is yet to be discussed and debated, how could they use FR for elections? These initiatives violate the Supreme Court judgement."Digital dystopia?While Telangana has been pioneering the use of surveillance and facial recognition in the country, questions remain about the human cost of deploying such technologies. Especially at a time when concepts such as data security and privacy have entered the mainstream policy discourse. Researchers and activists feel that while the law enables the use of such technologies, there are not enough safeguards against it to ensure accountability of the institutions involved.The Telangana police insist that the surveillance data follows a global best practice standard, where it is stored for 30 days before it is automatically written over. "We are not databasing or maintaining that database. In our standardised policies, we believe that 30 days is reasonable retention. Besides, globally, only 5% of all the videos are seen," says Jeevan Reddy, the technology consultant quoted earlier. The person aware of Telangana Police's technology says that there is a need for greater clarity on surveillance data. "It's a global concern. For now, the platform is available only to authorised police users and they ensure three levels of data security — application level, role-based and watermarking," he says. Likewise, while Rao of the Electronic Service Delivery department admits to privacy concerns, he says that "photographs are sensitive (biometric) as compared to fingerprints and iris, and in any case anonymisation is also used."Kodali, the Hyderabad-based independent researcher says, "The push to place more CCTVs across the city without any surveillance law is turning Hyderabad into a digital dystopia. The idea that CCTVs guarantee safety is flawed. The recent rape and murder of a veterinary doctor tell us that it is not possible to prevent crimes. All the CCTVs are doing is giving more power to the police without any checks and balances."Facial recognition too has become a cause of concern, in keeping with global trends. "I have always been opposing facial recognition, and will continue to oppose it," says Owaisi, whose AIMIM is an ally of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti-led government. "I am of the opinion that it will affect common people. The liberty of an individual cannot be compromised in the pretext of convenience. You cannot ignore the entire chapter 3 of the constitution of India," he adds.Apar Gupta, executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF). "The basis of mass CCTV deployment in Telangana is under the AP Public Safety (Measures) Enforcement, 2013 which predates the 2017 Puttaswamy right to privacy judgment. Under this judgment, the Supreme Court has laid down clear standards of proportionality and necessity which are not present under this law. Hence, the mass CCTV deployment being undertaken in Telangana is unconstitutional."Activists say that the building in Banjara Hills has become a symbol of sorts — of the dystopia that could be coming to Hyderabad, and later the state. "The upcoming command and control centre to store data from the city show us the cops want to increasingly collect more personal information of the citizens," says Kodali. "These ambitions of the police could become dangerous for a society which can't hold them accountable for illegal encounters. With real-time information about the population, the police can crackdown on any form of assembly and they're already doing that with the protests against CAA," he adds.

Railways may lease land parcels to etailers

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New Delhi | Mumbai: The Indian Railways is looking to monetise land parcels in smaller towns and cities by leasing them to e-commerce firms for setting up of warehouses.Rail Land Development Authority, a statutory authority, under the Ministry of Railways, for development of vacant railway land for commercial use said it is in talks with Flipkart, the country's biggest online retailer and will soon come out with an expression of interest."Warehousing has a lot of scope and when in in the era of same day delivery, e-commerce would like to have warehouse everywhere. While railway land parcels in key cities have better commercial return, it can be utilized for warehousing in Tier 2 cities. We have identified land within ten kilometres of main railway stations in these towns," Ved Parkash Dudeja, Vice Chairman, RLDA told ET.Flipkart didn't respond to an email query. Walmart-owned Flipkart owns over a dozen warehouses across the country, helping them reduce the delivery time especially in big cities. With smaller towns driving a bulk of their sales with significantly higher growth rates compared to urban centres, experts feel that having warehouses or pick-up point in its proximity could help save logistics costs substantially. But it will work only if ecommerce companies use railway network for delivery. "Land is not an issue for ecommerce players who would rather rely on dedicated sellers and their facilities than invest in setting own warehouses. Such land parcels could work for bulk goods operators or manufacturers and not ecommerce players which have bandwith issues of their own," said Mihir Mehta, founder of VS Omnitrade, a supply chain and consumer goods aggregator firm. Railways have been trying to monetise assets for a while now. In fact, total retail opportunity at redeveloped railway stations is expected to reach $1.9 billion by 2030, from just $ 100 million in 2019, according to Knight Frank that attributes the surge to government's focus on augmenting rail infrastructure and modernising existing stations as an enabler. In addition, the share of tier II cities in the total logistics shipments in India is expected to grow from almost 40% in 2017 to about 50% by 2022 – directly competing with tier I / metro cities in the country, as per real estate consultancy firm CBRE. "The integration of retail and logistics real estate continued to unfold, with e-tailers looking for physical outlets across tier II and tier III markets, and traditional retailers strengthening their online channels and restructuring their warehousing footprint," said Jasmine Singh, nation head – industrial and logistics services, CBRE South Asia.Singh said that the implementation of government initiatives such as the National Logistics Policy and the National E-commerce Policy as well as large-scale infrastructure development are expected to promote investments, thereby improving the overall stock of warehousing space in India.

Exporters line up for restricted Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients licence

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NEW DELHI: Exporters have lined up applications seeking licence to ship restricted Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients or APIs. The government has received as many as 200 applications from pharma firms in a span of 10 days after it tightened their export norms."We have received about 200 licence applications. We will examine them," said an official in the know of the development.The government, on March 3, restricted the exports of 26 API and formulations, including paracetamol and vitamins B1, B6 and B12 in order to ensure there is no shortage of drugs in India due to the lockdown in China's Hubei's province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and a major source of these raw materials.Tinidazole, metronidazole, acyclovir, progesterone, chloramphenicol, erythromycin salts, neomycin, clindamycin salts and ornidazole were the other APIs whose exports are now restricted amid the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) had said in a notification. 74644797 As per industry sources, around 240 licence applications have been referred to the commerce and industry ministry.Drug and pharma exports from India rose 11.7% on year to touch $19.15 billion in the 11 months to February 2020.Though India is a source of about 20% of the world's generic drugs supply, pharma companies in the country are dependent on China for two-thirds of the chemical components needed to make them.Italy, another major API manufacturer, too is hit by the virus. India's API imports are valued at $3.5 billion per year, of which 70%, worth $2.5 billion, come from China. API imports from the US and Italy are pegged at around $400 million."There are different configurations of these raw materials. We will analyse them and then take decisions on the licenses," the official added.The Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) has flagged that many products which were not listed in the notification but fall under the group of products with the same tariff codes have been kept on hold by the customs authorities.As per Udaya Bhaskar, director-general at Pharmexcil, besides leading to blacklisting of the companies by the procurement agencies and imposition of penalties, the non-supply of one item could result in cancellation of the entire order for all other products."Formulations manufactured for exports as per the specific countries requirements (pharmacopoeia specifications/labels/printing material used) cannot be diverted or utilised in the domestic market," Bhaskar said.Almost 30% of India's pharma exports are to North America, 16% to Europe and 17% to Africa.

What stocks investors should look at after the fall

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It is critical to pick the right stocks in the event of a global downturn. Though the Sensex and the Nifty have dropped 17.5% and mid- and small-cap shares have fallen even more in the past two weeks, the recovery in many of these shares could take a long time. In such a situation, it would be advisable to fall back on quality companies with a proven track record. ET asked brokerages to given their top picks on the basis of cheaper valuations, strong returns on equity (ROE) and stable revenue and profit track record. If the broader market falls, many of these stocks could decline too, but their core strength will help them rebound faster. Here are 10 stocks recommended by analysts for the next one year on the basis of these filters.Bata IndiaBrokerage : EdelweissTarget Price: Rs 2,250 CMP: Rs 1,463The largest shoe retailer with more than 1,300 retail shops in a market which is highly unorganised. Profit growing at 20% largely due to improving margins. Strong cash flow along with 50% core return on capital employed make it a compelling buy.BPCLBrokerage : Emkay GlobalTarget Price: Rs 570 CMP: Rs 376The disinvestment process is set in motion. With oil prices, BPCL should attract active interest from investors. The $20 per barrel fall in oil prices is tempting for the govt to hike autofuel excise as even Rs 4 per litre hike for FY21 potentially mirrors entire BPCL proceeds.Eicher MotorsBrokerage : Motilal Oswal Financial ServicesTarget Price: Rs 24,000 CMP: Rs 17,672Near-term uncertainty notwithstanding, Eicher is best placed for strong recovery from the second-half of FY21 led by new product platform which we expect to expand addressable market for Royal Enfield in India as well as globally.Gujarat GasBrokerage : IIFLTarget Price: Rs 327 CMP: Rs 258Gujarat Gas is expected to maintain its volume growth on account of structural changes (Morbi-like order in other clusters). Benign LNG prices would drive margin and volumes.HDFCBrokerage: Motilal Oswal Financial ServicesTarget Price: Rs 2,875 CMP: Rs 2,067In these difficult times, HDFC has managed to raise liquidity at lower cost than most peers and grow its retail AUM at 15-16% YoY. Asset quality has remained largely stable with gross NPL ratio of 1.35%. The company is likely to gain market share from peers.Hindustan UnileverBrokerage: Motilal Oswal Financial ServicesTarget Price: Rs 2,490 CMP: Rs 2,022HUL, as a result of the positive impact of Coronavirus-linked on sales in its largest segment (skin cleansing), synergies from GSK merger, positive impact of crude price fall and price hikes for soaps are positive for the company.ICICI BankBrokerage: IIFLTarget Price: Rs 640 CMP: Rs 447ICICI Bank has waning asset quality concerns and profitability of subsidiaries is expected to aid earnings growth. Inclination towards retail lending will bring stability to earnings.Reliance IndustriesBrokerage : SharekhanTarget Price: Rs 1,710 CMP: Rs 1,105Reliance Industries stock price has corrected by 34% from its recent 52-week high. Low crude oil prices benefit refiners in terms of lower fuel and higher crude discounts which would cushion weak refining margins.Shree CementBrokerage : ICICI SecuritiesTarget Price : Rs 24,500 CMP: Rs 21,308Shree Cement, which remained resilient for quite some time, gave up suddenly due to a sharp decline in Nifty. Shree Cement would be included in the Nifty. Which is likely to provide support to the stock.Sun PharmaBrokerage : IIFLTarget Price: Rs 500 CMP: Rs 384Sun Pharma, the largest Indian pharma company would benefit on account of its strong footing in India and RoW markets. Even a marginal uptick in speciality revenues would support profitability.

Talking Stock: Hold Escorts, Vedanta; sell Jamna Auto

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By G Chokkalingam, Founder & CIO Equinomics Research & AdvisoryI have 1,000 shares of Yes Bank at Rs 200. Should I hold this for long term?-SAGAR AGARWALUnfortunately, you are forced to hold 75% of your shares for a period of three years. However, I suggest you hold entire holdings for the long-term as the move by the government to involves major players of the banking system to take controlling equity stake in this bank is a positive development not only for the economy but also for the public shareholders. Instead of single government-owned bank taking sole burden of a failed bank, the government's move to involve several large private banks is a well-thought out strategy in my view. Apart from bringing in stability to Yes Bank, the combined efforts of banking leaders would also create equity wealth for the shareholders in the long-term.I am holding 2000 shares of Vedanta at Rs 355. When do you expect it to recover to the same level?-NIKHIL GHELANIIt might take several years for you to recover this original cost as all its major products (like oil and metals) are badly affected by the global deflationary conditions, first caused by the trade war and now aggravated by the spread of Covid-19. However, you may hold the stock with a target price of around Rs 140 for the next two years as the world would eventually come out of the current deflationary conditions.I am holding 200 units of Jamna Auto at an average price of Rs 35.35. What should I do?-PRIYAM JAINYou may book losses even if it recovers marginally by about 5% as its valuation is stretched and the current deflationary conditions are not conducive for the automobile industry. You may re-enter the stock if it falls below Rs 20.I have 400 shares of Bhansali Engineering Polymers at Rs 74.5. Should I hold it or sell it out?-SANJAY TAMREIf you are willing to take another 10% risk, then you may hold this stock as it is likely to benefit from cheap oil prices in the medium term. Once the economy stabilizes after COVID-19 tapers off, the performance of this company, which is one of the two strong players in ABS products, is likely to improve significantly.I have Escorts shares at Rs 792 and Titan at Rs 798. Should I hold these shares or sell?-JATIN SHARMAYou may hold Escorts for the long-term. Considering the rich valuation and current socio-economic conditions, you may book profit in Titan now and re-enter the stock if it falls 10% or more.Please send your queries on Stocks to et.stocks@timesgroup.com; Mutual Funds to et.mfs@timesgroup.com; Tax to et.tax@timesgroup.com; Insurance to et.insurance@timesgroup.com; Realty to et.realty@timesgroup.com.

IT firms seek client waivers so staff can work from home

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BENGALURU: Indian IT companies have asked their clients for waivers to let employees on projects work from home and are testing their systems, a key requirement before they can implement any widespread measure to allow their lakhs of employees to stay home. Business continuity plans typically allow a subset of employees to work from home, with work also getting distributed to other cities as employees travel between them. But the spread of Covid-19 to multiple metro cities could result in centres across the country shutting down, requiring broader work-from-home authorisations. "We need the waivers because some service agreements stipulate a high level of security in the development centre. Some employees have WFH (work-from-home) authorisations, but we have not prepared country-wide work-from-home requirements," a senior IT services executive said. He said clients were open to issuing the waivers but there were some projects that were governed by stricter privacy and data security laws that were harder to transition. The spread of the coronavirus is causing issues for IT services companies and they are just beginning to evaluate the impact. Genpact, one of the largest business process management companies, said it was unsure of the impact the spread of the virus would have on its 2020 guidance and warned about the risks of its spreading in a major delivery location like India. "It could impair our ability to manage day-to-day service delivery for certain clients or at certain sites and result in, among other things, losses of revenue and inadvertent breaches of our client contracts if a large number of our employees, or a group of employees in the same service line or who serve the same clients, were unable to work at the same time," Genpact told the US Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month. Tech services firms Wipro, Infosys and Cognizant said they had contingency plans, but did not specifically answer ET's queries whether they had sought waivers from clients to allow WFH. A Wipro spokesperson said the company had scheduled situation assessment calls periodically with teams in affected geographies. IT services experts expect to see more companies seeking waivers as the intensity of the pandemic increases. "Given the current scenarios, many firms have requested waivers from their clients and received such. We expect this to increase as the spread continues, except for situations with privacy and security requirements at a country-to-country specific basis," Constellation Research principal analyst Ray Wang said. Analysts said most work, though, was easy to move to a work-from-home model and that contracts had 'force majeure' clauses that would allow for it. "There may be some instances where the client would feel that the work could not be protected and in these cases no work would be done. However, this is likely to be only a very small portion of the work," said Peter Bendor-Samuel, the CEO of IT consultancy Everest Research. He added that IT companies had been preparing for the contingency by upgrading their networks and testing procedures. "One of the critical challenges will be to establish the necessary management and oversight procedures and to ensure that their workforce has adequate in-home network connections," Bendor-Samuel said.

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