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80% of Indian mid-market firms bullish on growth, create more jobs this year

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) Driven by initiatives such as ‘Make in India’, ease of doing business and ongoing digital transformation, 80 per cent of Indian mid-market businesses maintain a positive economic outlook in the next 12 months — up from 78 per cent in the first half of 2023 — despite global economic sentiments showing signs of decline, a new report showed on Thursday.

There is also a notable shift towards integrating advanced technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), with a staggering 72 per cent of Indian mid-market leaders foreseeing a surge in technology investments to leverage AI’s potential, according to International Business Report (IBR), Grant Thornton’s global survey of mid-market companies.

“The bullish outlook extends beyond just profit expectations. About 83 per cent of Indian mid-market firms expect growth in revenue in the coming year, as India’s expansive domestic market offers lucrative expansion opportunities,” said Siddhartha Nigam, Partner, Grant Thornton Bharat.

“This revenue growth is likely to create more jobs, particularly in mid-market firms as per the IBR, as 78 per cent anticipate a surge in employment this year, surpassing the global average of 51 per cent.”

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However, amid this technological evolution, 44 per cent acknowledge the potential increase in the cost of upskilling people due to AI, suggesting the need for strategic planning during this transition.

Furthermore, 58 per cent believe AI will drive innovation in products and services to differentiate themselves in the market and exceed customer expectations. This reflects a clear recognition of the role AI plays in driving growth.

“Dynamic advancements and innovations can quickly disrupt traditional business models, leading to revenue decline and loss of market shares. To counteract these challenges, companies must maintain agility, consistently invest in technology especially Generative AI, cloud etc,” said Raja Lahiri, Partner and Tech Leader at Grant Thornton Bharat.

–IANS

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ISRO aces final test of Reusable Launch Vehicle tech for Landing Experiment

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday announced success in the final test of the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Landing EXperiment (LEX).

This is the third consecutive success in the series of LEX (03) technology demonstrating “the autonomous landing capability” and was conducted at 07:10 a.m. at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga, Karnataka.

But, the RLV LEX-03 mission achieved success “under more challenging release conditions (cross range of 500 m against 150 m for LEX-02) and more severe wind conditions,” ISRO said in a statement.

As part of the experiment, the winged vehicle, named ‘Pushpak’, was released from an Indian Air Force Chinook Helicopter at an altitude of 4.5 km.

Armed with advanced autonomous capabilities, “Pushpak executed a precise horizontal landing under challenging conditions,” ISRO said.

The space agency added that “from a release point 4.5 km away from the runway, Pushpak autonomously executed cross-range correction manoeuvres, approached the runway, and performed a precise horizontal landing at the runway centreline”.

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“Due to this vehicle’s low lift-to-drag ratio aerodynamic configuration, the landing velocity exceeded 320 kmph, compared to 260 kmph for a commercial aircraft and 280 kmph for a typical fighter aircraft”.

ISRO stated that post-touchdown, brake parachutes were used to reduce the vehicle velocity to nearly 100 kmph. Then landing gear brakes were used to decelerate and stop the vehicle on the runway.

The RLV-LEX mission, which uses multisensor fusion including sensors like an inertial sensor, radar altimeter, flush air data system, pseudo lite system, and NavIC, “simulated the approach and landing interface and high-speed landing conditions for a vehicle returning from space”.

ISRO noted that the winged body and flight systems were reused without any modification from the LEX-02 mission, demonstrating the robustness of ISRO’s capability of design to reuse flight systems for multiple missions.

Further, the success validates “the advanced guidance algorithm catering to longitudinal and lateral plane error corrections — essential for the future Orbital Reentry Mission”.

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ISRO now aims to “embark into RLV-ORV, the orbital reusable vehicle,” the agency said.

–IANS

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Byju’s moves Karnataka HC against NCLT order restraining it from 2nd rights issue

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Edtech company Byju’s, mired in several controversies amid a cash crunch, has moved the Karnataka High Court against the order of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which restrained it from going ahead with its second rights issue.

The second rights issue commenced on May 13 and was expected to end on June 13.

The edtech company has been restrained from utilising any funds from the second rights issue by the NCLT.

The company’s fresh plea in the Karnataka High Court is likely to come up for hearing on Monday, according to sources.

Byju’s is exploring out-of-court settlements with two of its creditors, Teleperformance and Surfer Technologies.

The NCLT had adjourned the cases to June 26.

The company is facing multiple headwinds, in India as well as in the US against its subsidiary.

Once valued at $22 billion, the edtech company is now worth zero, according to a recent research note by the financial firm HSBC.

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HSBC assigned zero value to investment company Prosus’ nearly 10 per cent stake (or about $500 million) in Byju’s.

“We assign zero value to Byju’s stake amid multiple legal cases and funding crunch,” according to the note.

Earlier this month, a group of lenders petitioned against new entities, tied to the US subsidiary of Byju’s, into bankruptcy in a US court, alleging that these entities were not paying their debts.

In February 2024, Byju’s Alpha had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US.

The company managed to process the employee salaries for May from monthly “collections”.

–IANS

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Meet Chennai triplets pursuing engineering despite adversity

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) As the world celebrates International Women in Engineering Day on Sunday, meet Chennai-born triplets Dhanushree, Dhanush, and Dhanuja who share a love for engineering that is more common than their biology.

International Women in Engineering Day is observed every year on June 23 to celebrate the achievements of women engineers as well as to raise awareness on closing the gender gap in the sector.

More than being bound by blood, the triplets are classmates of the B.Tech programme at Sona College of Technology, Salem, who love discussing the intricacies of mechanics like Ackerman steering geometry, Beale number, Cotter pin, and damping ratio.

The triplets were born to businessman B Murugan and K Kamala, a government employee, in a nondescript Chidambaram town, in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district.

Call it a quirk of fate, they were born on Engineers’ Day (September 15), the birthday of Sir M Visvesvaraya, one of the most renowned engineers in the country, whose legacy left a lasting impact on India’s infrastructure and engineering education.

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From their early childhood, Dhanushree, Dhanush, and Dhanuja picked up the importance of education and the courage to pursue their dreams.

With their commendable scores in Class XII, the triplets secured admission at Sona College of Technology. Yet financial adversity scuttled their dreams of becoming engineers.

To provide them with a good education, the parents relocated to Salem and had to reestablish their business.

Dhanush loves electronics and is pursuing his dream of becoming a software developer. In addition to mechanical engineering Dhanushree and Dhanuja are also pursuing a credit course in Japanese.

“Dhanuja and Dhanushree are very attentive in the class and participate in discussions. They made friends with classmates quickly and often helped them in their studies. Dhanuja has a natural flair for singing,” said B Renuga, Head of Department for the first-year students at the college.

Dhanuja, the youngest among the triplets, is excited about getting the highest score not only among the siblings but the entire class.

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–IANS

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Gaming sector’s demands not discussed at GST Council meeting

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council at its 53rd meeting decided not to take up the demand of the gaming companies to levy 28 per cent GST on the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) that is earned by the industry, not on the full value of bets placed in online games.

According to the gaming companies, the 28 per cent GST on skill-based online games has triggered a cascade of repercussions, including funding constraints, reduced growth trajectories, job losses, and heightened uncertainty across the sector.

Manish Mishra, Partner, JSA Advocates and Solicitors, said the fact that GST on online gaming was not taken up for discussions “may come as a major disappointment to the sector which was expecting relief from the high rate of taxation and retrospective of demands”.

According to the latest report by Ernst & Young (EY) and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), since October 2023, some gaming companies reported a complete withdrawal of global marque investors just at the onset of the new GST regime.

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Before the amendment, the GST cost constituted 15.25 per cent of the revenue.

However, since October 1, 2023, the GST cost has increased manifold, with GST now consuming 50-100 per cent of the revenue for 33 per cent of companies and even surpassing total revenue for startups.

“These startups now have to operate at a loss,” the report argued.

–IANS

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Ultra-processed food, sedentary lifestyle fuelling cancers in Indians under 40: Doctors

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Poor lifestyle choices with regular consumption of ultra-processed foods, and a sedentary lifestyle are increasing cancer cases among people under 40 years of age in India, said doctors on Sunday.

Several factors are contributing to the rise in cancer cases among younger people in India.

One of the primary reasons is increased consumption of processed foods, tobacco, and alcohol, sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and stress.

Environmental pollution is another critical factor.

India’s cities are plagued by high levels of pollution, which has been linked to various types of cancer.

Air and water pollution expose individuals to carcinogenic substances, significantly increasing their cancer risk.

“Ultra-processed foods and sedentary lifestyles are emerging as significant contributors to the rising cancer rates among young Indians.

“The high intake of these foods, laden with unhealthy additives, combined with physical inactivity, is creating a health crisis,” Dr. Rahul Bhargava, Director and head of the Department of Haematology and BMT at Fortis Memorial Research Institute told IANS.

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“It’s imperative to adopt healthier dietary habits and an active lifestyle to curb this alarming trend,” he added.

According to a recent study by Cancer Mukt Bharat Foundation, a Delhi-based non-profit foundation, 20 per cent of cancer cases in India are now being diagnosed in people below 40 years of age.

The study shows that men constitute 60 per cent of these young cancer patients, while women make up the remaining 40 per cent.

The gender disparity may be due to higher rates of tobacco use, occupational exposure, and lifestyle choices among men in India.

“In our country, escalating rates of obesity, change in dietary habits, specifically the increase in consumption of ultra-processed food, and sedentary lifestyles are associated with higher cancer rates,” said Dr. Ashish Gupta, principal investigator and senior oncologist at Unique Hospital Cancer Center, Delhi, told IANS.

The doctors called for the urgent need for lifestyle interventions to combat the rising cancer rates among young Indians. Dr. Ashish, also heading Cancer Mukt Bharat Campaign in India, emphasised the importance of a “combined effort from the government, healthcare professionals, and the community to tackle the rising cancer rates among young adults”.

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“Policies promoting clean air and water, regular physical activity, and access to nutritious food must be prioritised. Additionally, we must invest in better healthcare infrastructure to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment,” he said.

–IANS

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