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Make in India: DoT may ask BSNL to try local end-to-end networks for 4G upgrade

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The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is mulling advising BSNL and MTNL to test out locally consolidated networks for a few months before they take a call on who to select to upgrade their 4G spectrum services, Hindustan Times has learnt.

The decision can have far-reaching ramifications as the new setup, if found feasible, can be replicated for other network providers and to upgrade to 5G services, the tender process for which is yet to begin.

HT has earlier reported that the DoT had set up a six-member panel to look into the 4G upgrade tender after it was scrapped on July 1. The decision had come in the wake of 20 Indian soldiers being killed in the Galwan Valley by China. The decision was also taken in keeping with the preference to Make in India policy of the telecom department, and a bid to reduce reliance on Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE.

The six-member panel, which has representatives from DoT, BSNL, MTNL and the industry, has already met five times and is in the final stage of outlining requirements for the fresh tender. The final tender requirements are likely to be concretised by the end of the week. The Rs 7,000-8,000 crore tender is part of the BSNL revival package that will allow it to expand its telecom presence.

“Indian manufacturers at present do not have a turn-key setup in place,” said a DoT official who did not wish to be named. “A turn-key setup offers end-to-end network, including both radio and core requirements that are consolidated at a central level by a single operator.”

According to the official, tech giants such as Nokia and Airtel have their own turn-key setups in India. The official that while seven companies manufacture radio equipment, used to set up towers, only two companies at present are capable of making core equipment, which translates the signals to provide telecom services.

“The core equipment is responsible for translating the signals that are carried by the radio equipment,” the official said. “The new approach likely incorporate multiple vendors to setup an end-to-end network.”

A member of the panel, on the condition of anonymity, told HT that reservations had been expressed about the ability of Indian tech companies to set up the network.

“We are discussing telling BSNL and MTNL to set up at least 10-20 towers using local equipment and connect it to the core,” said the member. “They can test if the equipment is giving appropriate results.”

According to experts, nearly 75% of the telecom equipment is sourced from companies outside India, especially the internal components. Two major Chinese firms with a stake in the Indian market are ZTE and Huawei, both Chinese companies. Other major players include Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung.

“We are not saying that Nokia or Airtel will not be able to provide services, but the idea is that the local manufacturers get a greater stake,” said the first official. “Nokia has an India-based office that employs many Indian engineers.”

At present, according to the preference to make in India policy of the DoT, those doing over 50% addition to product and network by using equipment made in India and not just assembled here given preference.

“If Tech Mahindra gives a bid for 112 and Nokia for 100, Tech Mahindra will be asked to match the bid,” said former DoT technical advisor RK Bhatnagar. “Ercisson’s value addition, for example, would be around 25%, making them eligible to be in preference category.”

Bhatnagar added that a version of the DoT’s proposal was discussed at a meeting convened by NITI Aayog in early July.

“Private players such as Tech Mahindra made a presentation that they have the capability,” said Bhatnagar. “They had asked for an opportunity, and NITI Aayog had suggested the same to DoT.”

“The players can be asked to set up a consolidated network, which will then be tested over 4 months to see if it’s a workable solution and then can be replicated in other places,” he added.

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Finance Ministry to present paperless Budget 2021- a first since Independence

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In a historic move, the Finance Ministry has that it has decided not to print the upcoming budget’s documents and go paperless. The ministry took the decision after taking the coronavirus pandemic situation into consideration.

The budget is scheduled to be presented by the Finance Minister Nirmal Sitaraman on February 1.

This will be for the first time in the history of independent India that the budget papers will not be printed.

Reports suggested the government has received permission for the same from both the Houses of Parliament.

The decision has been taken as the printing process would require several people to stay at the press for around a fortnight amid the coronavirus fears.

The budget documents are generally printed at the Finance Ministry’s in-house printing press in the North Block.

This budget for the financial year 2021-22 may see several conventions being broken as the sources said that the traditional ‘Halwa’ ceremony may also not take place this year or a subdued function may be held with limited gathering. This ceremony, which normally starts around January 20, is attended by all the people involved in budget-making, and marks the beginning of printing.

Once printing starts, printing staffers stay inside the press till the presentation of budget. Only a few high-ranked officials are allowed access and that too on the basis of a special identity card. The entire facility, loading-unloading and transportation are manned by the special security forces.

This is not the first time that there would be a change in tradition in the presentation of the budget under the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Last year, she did away with a colonial-era tradition of carrying Budget papers in a briefcase, and introduced the Budget ‘Bahi Khata’ or a ledger, enclosed in a red cloth folder and tied with a string.

source: The Statesman

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LIC of India introduces online proposal deposit collection in ANANDA

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Following the overwhelming response received for Atma Nirbhar Agent New Business Digital Application, (ANANDA), LIC of India has introduced the feature of Online proposal Deposit collection in ANANDA, where the customer can pay the Online proposal deposit through Payment Gateway using various options like Credit Card / Debit Card/ Netbanking / Wallets / UPI etc at his own convenience.

This feature was launched at the hands of LIC Chairman MR Kumar in the presence of Managing Directors TC Suseel Kumar, Vipin Anand, Mukesh Gupta and Raj Kumar on 05.01.2021.

All the Zonal Managers and Executive Directors of LIC attended the programme through video conferencing. With Online BOC, the LIC customers are now enabled to invest ULIP plans through the Agent Digital Application. This Digital Initiative empowers the LIC agents to complete the proposals round the clock.

Life Insurance Corporation of India launched its first Digital Application, “ANANDA”, an acronym for Atma Nirbhar Agents New Business Digital Application, on 19th of November 2020. The Digital application is a tool for the onboarding process to get the Life Insurance policy through a Paperless module with the help of the Agent / Intermediary.

ANANDA is a first of its kind in the Indian Life Insurance industry with LIC of India pioneering the process through its in-house IT-enabled systems. The launch had generated tremendous enthusiasm among the Marketing Officials and Intermediaries of LIC of India.

source: The statesman

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No relation with the three farm laws, in no way benefits from them: Reliance

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Facing the brunt of farmer’s ire over perception of it being a beneficiary of new farm laws, Reliance Industries on Monday filed a petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court saying that it has no relation with the three farm laws and in no way benefits from them. It further said that any of its subsidiary has never been engaged in any corporate” or “contract” farming in the past nor to plans to do so in the future.

In a statement, billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s firm said its subsidiary “Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), in a petition mentioned to be filed in Honourable Punjab and Haryana High Court today, has sought the urgent intervention of Government authorities to bring a complete stop to the illegal acts of vandalism by miscreants.”

Reliance said it “has nothing whatsoever to do with the three farm laws currently debated in the country, and in no way benefits from them.”

“As such, the sole nefarious purpose of linking the name of Reliance to these laws is to harm our businesses and damage our reputation,” it said.

The company said it does not do “corporate or contract farming” and has not bought “any agricultural land, directly or indirectly, in Punjab/Haryana or anywhere else in India, for the purpose of corporate or contract farming.”

Its retail unit which sells food grains and staples, fruits and vegetables and items of daily use through its stores, “does not purchase any food grains directly from farmers,” the statement said.

“It has never entered into long-term procurement contracts to gain unfair advantage over farmers or sought that its suppliers buy from farmers at less than remunerative prices, nor will it ever do so,” it added.

It further said that Reliance and its affiliates fully share and support the aspiration of Indian farmers to get a fair and profitable price on a predictable basis for what they produce with exemplary hard work, innovation and dedication.

“Indeed, we shall insist on our suppliers to strictly abide by the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism, and/or any other mechanism for remunerative price for farm produce, as may be determined and implemented by the government.”

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