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India Ratings upgrades Adani Green Energy to IND AA-, outlook stable amid robust growth

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) on Thursday upgraded Adani Green Energy Limited’s (AGEL) long-term issuer rating to ‘IND AA-’ from ‘IND A+’, saying the company’s outlook is stable.

Among the key rating drivers are AGEL being the largest renewable developer in India with sound operating parameters of operational assets and healthy free cash flow to equity, along with promoter infusion covering equity commitments.

The upgrade factors in the continued strong operational asset performance include “strong execution scale-up”, with annual capacity additions likely to be 4GW-5GW annually over the medium term from the earlier 2.5-3.5GW.

Other factors for the upgrade include healthy counterparty diversification and a reduction in receivables, leading to an increase in the (cash flow from operations-interest)/EBITDA conversion compared to historical levels.

According to the rating agency, the upgrade also reflects AGEL’s change in policy with respect to the leveraging of the holding company, as the company has now earmarked funds towards the repayment of $750 million hold-co bond.

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“In addition, the upgrade factors in the creation of a platform within AGEL with Total Energies SE, which allows for part asset monetisation while retaining consolidation benefits, the equity infusion by the promoters through warrants of which 25 per cent has already been received, and the continued ability of the company to tie up both debt and raise equity to ensure fully funded under-construction portfolio,” according to analysts.

Earlier this month, AGEL reported 30 per cent EBITDA growth at Rs 7,222 crore in FY24, as the renewable energy (RE) major revised its target for 2030 to 50 gigawatt (GW) from 45 GW.

The robust growth in revenue, EBITDA and cash profit was driven by capacity addition of over 2.8 GW over the last year, representing 15 per cent of the country’s total renewable energy capacity addition.

According to analysts, the upgrade in ratings also reflects Ind-Ra’s expectation of favourable operational to under-construction book ratio, given the operational capacity of nearly 10.9 GW, and an increase in annual capacity addition targets to 5 GW and the “amortising structure of the debt as against bulleted structures earlier, which ensure amortisation of debt, leading to 15 per cent tail life for the projects, thus lowering the refinance and tail risks”.

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The above factors have jointly contributed to a moderation in the leverage to more reasonable levels of 5.5-6.5 times from the historically high levels of 9 times, said the note.

–IANS

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US bans Russian company Kaspersky's software over security concerns

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Washington, June 21 (IANS/DPA) The US will ban the sale of antivirus software made by Moscow-based cybersecurity company Kaspersky.

The company’s operations in the US presented a national security risk “due to the Russian government’s offensive cyber capabilities and capacity to influence or direct Kaspersky’s operations,” the US Department of Commerce said in a statement on Thursday.

“Kaspersky will generally no longer be able to, among other activities, sell its software within the US or provide updates to software already in use.”

Private and professional users of Kaspersky’s widely installed antivirus software should find an alternative due to the risk, the Department added.

“Russia has shown time and again they have the capability and intent to exploit Russian companies, like Kaspersky Lab, to collect and weaponise sensitive US information, and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to safeguard US national security and the American people,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said.

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The sale of Kaspersky software in the US will be banned from July 20.

The Russian multinational will be able to provide software updates to existing users until September 29.

Kaspersky’s software is designed to protect users against trojans, spyware and other cyber threats.

In the US, installation on government devices has been banned since 2017, and in Germany, the Federal Office for Information Security warns against using the software.

Kaspersky has denied its products pose a risk, stating it is a private global cybersecurity company with no ties to the Russian government.

–IANS/DPA

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Over 3.3 cr people screened for Sickle Cell since inception of NSCAEM last year

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) A total of 3,39,77,877 individuals were screened for Sickle Cell Anaemia and 1,12,01,612 Sickle Cell Status ID cards distributed since the inception of the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission (NSCAEM) last year, the government said on Thursday.

On the occasion of World Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Awareness Day on June 19, multiple events were organised across the country to create awareness regarding the disease and halt transmission of the disease.

SCD is a genetic blood disorder characterised by abnormal red blood cells that take on a crescent or sickle shape. These irregularly shaped cells can cause blockages in blood vessels, leading to various health complications.

Affecting millions of people in the world, the disease disproportionately affects the tribal populations in India. On Sickle Cell Day, 44,751 events were organised across the country in 17 states and 343 districts under the NSCAEM. As a part of the activities undertaken during these events, 6,15,806 individuals were screened for sickle cell disease and 2,59,193 Sickle Cell ID cards were distributed to the screened beneficiaries, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

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Awareness activities which started on Wednesday will continue for the next 15 days (June 19 to July 3) at all facilities in 343 districts in 17 identified SCD states. The target for the next 15 days is to screen 10,00,000 individuals and distribute 3,00,000 Sickle Cell Status ID cards to screened individuals, the ministry said.

–IANS

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DGFT rolls out Faceless Automation system to fix Input-Output Norms for exporters

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New Delhi June 20 (IANS) In line with ongoing efforts to modernise and streamline foreign trade procedures the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has decided that ad-hoc Input Output Norms will be determined through a rule-based, system-driven process, aimed at improving the ease of doing business for exporters, the Commerce Ministry said on Thursday.

The DGFT administers the Advance Authorisation Scheme of the Foreign Trade Policy, facilitating duty-free import of inputs for export production, which includes replenishment of inputs or duty remission. The eligibility of inputs is determined by sector-specific Norms Committees based on input-output norms.

The switch to faceless automation aligns with a broader policy shift towards a facilitating regime that embraces technological interfaces and collaborative principles, according to the Ministry’s statement

The DGFT is actively pursuing similar automation initiatives for other Foreign Trade Policy processes and procedures, emphasizing its commitment to modernisation and efficiency enhancement in trade facilitation.

Since the announcement of the new Foreign Trade Policy in April 2023, the DGFT has been actively revamping its systems to expand automated, rule-based processes under the FTP framework. These improvements encompass post-issuance audit capabilities and risk mitigation functions. Notably, several processes, including the issuance and amendment of Importer-Exporter Code (IEC), issuance of Status Holder Certificates, renewal of RCMC, and the issuance, revalidation, extension, and invalidation of Advance Authorizations, as well as certification for installation under the EPCG Scheme, are already being conducted through a Rule-Based Automatic process.

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–IANS

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Healthy BMI, no smoking effective ways to reduce risk of kidney cancer: Experts

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) and refraining from smoking are two of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of kidney cancer, experts said on World Kidney Cancer Day on Thursday.

World Kidney Cancer Day is observed every year on the second Thursday of June to raise awareness about this disease.

According to experts, several key risk factors have been identified in kidney cancer, such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney cancer, and exposure to toxins found in some industrial settings.

“Being aware of these risk factors can empower individuals to make informed choices about their health and potentially reduce their risk of developing kidney cancer,” Dr. C.N. Patil, HOD and Lead Consultant – Medical Oncology & Haemato-Oncology, Aster International Institute of Oncology, told IANS.

As per data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), kidney cancer is one of the top 10 cancers in India and accounts for about 2 to 3 per cent of all cancer cases.

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“Kidney cancer constitutes about 2 to 3 per cent of all cancers in our country, with around 15,000 new cases diagnosed annually. The incidence is notably higher in men than in women, with a male-to-female ratio of approximately 2:1,” said Dr. Raghunath S.K., Senior Consultant and Director of Uro-oncology and Robotic Surgery, HCG Cancer Centre, Bengaluru.

Early-stage kidney cancer often presents no symptoms. However, experts suggested to be vigilant for warning signs like blood in urine, persistent back or flank pain, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue.

The experts highlighted that lifestyle changes play a crucial role in kidney cancer prevention.

“Regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and staying hydrated are essential practices for overall kidney health,” said Dr. P.N. Gupta, Director and HOD – Nephrology and Kidney Transplant, Paras Health, Gurugram.

“Adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, coupled with regular physical activity, can significantly lower cancer risk. Additionally, avoiding tobacco in all forms is imperative, as smoking is a major risk factor for many types of cancer, including kidney cancer,” he added.

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Experts also mentioned that the outlook for kidney cancer patients has improved considerably due to advancements in treatment.

The most common approach is surgery, which may involve removing the entire kidney or just the cancerous portion. Targeted therapies and immunotherapy have improved survival rates and quality of life for patients, they noted.

–IANS

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Indian scientists decode new class of materials for energy harvesting, power generation

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) Bengaluru, an autonomous institution under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), on Thursday provided groundbreaking insights into a new class of materials for energy harvesting and power generation.

Their work unraveled the electronic mechanisms governing chemical bonding of new class of materials called incipient metals with metavalent bonding (MVB) within a single 2D layer of Group IV “chalcogenides” that can boost energy harvesting and power generation.

Chalcogenides can transition reversibly between amorphous and crystalline phases in response to changes in temperature, pressure or electrical fields.

The study by Professor Umesh Waghmare from Theoretical Sciences Unit at JNCASR, explored the possibility of introducing the metavalent bonding (MVB) within a single 2D layer of Group IV chalcogenides, investigating its mechanisms and the resulting consequences on material properties.

“These materials, termed incipient metals, possess a combination of properties that defy conventional understanding. They exhibit electrical conductivity akin to metals, high thermoelectric efficiency characteristic of semiconductors, and unusually low thermal conductivity, creating a triad of properties that cannot be explained by traditional chemical bonding concepts,” explained Professor Waghmare.

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The study, published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition and supported by JC Bose National Fellowship of the Science and Engineering Research Board-DST and JNCASR research fellowship, provides a first-principle theoretical analysis focusing on the bonding nature within five different 2D lattices of Group IV chalcogenides.

This category includes compounds which exhibit remarkable properties, transitioning reversibly from a glassy amorphous structure to a crystalline form in less than 100 nanoseconds when subjected to heating or cooling.

Driven by an idea presented by Professor CNR Rao, the study aimed to unravel the electronic mechanisms governing the chemical bonding in these materials.

The findings, which took nearly two years of theoretical and computational work, have shed light on the unique properties of these materials, challenging conventional chemical bonding ideas.

–IANS

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