Why we are obsessed with money

What a way to exist!

For most of us, practically the whole day all we are thinking is about money and more specifically how to have more money!

As if money was the only thing in life. Unfortunately for most of us, circumstances just do not permit any other thought!

We are running behind money most of the time which is almost akin to have become obsessed with money. Everything that we are doing in life is centred around money.

Unfortunately, this is because we need money for anything and everything that we do. There’s nothing wrong and what are you doing, however the problem is that over time, it becomes a compulsive habit to keep earning more.

That’s where the danger is. The problem is that there is a point where from we chase money as an addiction, we chase money because we like to do so. If we did not chase money we would not know what to chase now because we get out identity from money and the amount of money we have.

Another thing is that right from childhood we are always taught and our minds are conditioned that everything that we are doing is going to be for the sake of earning money.

There is no one who told you that money is just a means, and then there is something greater in life to achieve. Some examples are legacy; building something, charity; to giving something / helping someone, passion; pursuing something and living; simply to enjoy life and your money

We have got addicted to this and how!

There are three reasons for this:

First, we are what we do. It is the human behaviour. I know I should exercise and I don’t. I know I should eat healthy and I don’t. I know I should spend time with my kids and I don’t. I know that, yes, money isn’t going to make me happy and I still keep trying to make money.

We live by the laws of inertia, in a pattern which is hard to break. But we have to break it. For ourselves and for the sake of people and reasons for which we are chasing money.

Secondly, we need signals of progress. Money is a measure of how far you have progressed in life. The more the money you have the more you can make sure your progress. It’s simply the logic of evolution. People need validation of their success. Bigger house, bigger car, branded goods and list goes on.

Thirdly, it’s the easy way out. It’s only human to avoid difficult things. Important things are very difficult to measure.  Have I been a good father or husband? Have I groomed my child well?  Such things take years to measure and we still don’t have answers.

So, should we not be focused on creating money for ourselves?

I’m not saying that. Definitely create. Take care of yourself for sure!! Use it to the maximum to make yourself happy!!! You need a certain amount and beyond that is extra.

The definition of their certain amount is naturally different from one person to another. If that extra is going to happen easily, without stress and without your involvement, then its fine. Basically don’t kill yourself for that extra. Be Smart.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a certified financial planner, wealth manager and financial freedom coach.

How the RBI actually helps you

RBI

Most of us in Mumbai, see this huge structure called the Reserve Bank of India and wonder what it really does. It’s also a tourist attraction!! It has so many other offices and again one wonders why they need to have so many offices. I’m going to try and highlight a very interesting part of RBI’s work and how it helps us directly on a day-to-day basis.

The RBI does a review of the monetary policy of the country at frequent intervals during the year. So how does the monetary policy help us investors to take smart decisions?

Monetary policy is a tool by which the RBI decides to raise interest rates or reduce interest rates or keep them steady.

In our country, as we’re an oil importing nation, this decision is very closely linked to Oil. Oil to a large extent contributes to inflation. We all know what happens when inflation keeps rising. We in India unfortunately do not see too much of inflation falling and things becoming cheaper.

Oil is Not Well

So when oil prices rise i.e. we see a rise in crude oil prices almost instantly we can expect rising food prices. This is because there is going to be a rising cost pressure for manufacturing & services. This rise obviously gets passed onto the retail consumers.

When this happens RBI adopts a hawkish stance, tries to pull money out of the system by raising interest rates. Now when interest rates rise no one seems to be interested in borrowing. This immediately puts a brakes on money circulation.  Less money chasing goods decreases the demand for money. This way it controls inflation.

There is yet another tool that the RBI has and that is known as the CRR or the cash reserve ratio.  This ratio in simple words means the amount of cash that the bank must maintain with the RBI as the percentage of the total assets. So when this increases banks are forced to park more with the RBI and this is also a way to control inflation.

On the other hand when things look dull, when there is a recession of sorts, the RBI comes to the rescue and gets into action to kickstart growth in the country. It does this by lowering the interest rates. This we all will understand quite easily because we see a direct benefit of this happening. We see a fall of interest outgo in our EMI’s for the home loan that we are carrying. New loans become cheaper.

Individuals are motivated to go out and make purchases, whether it is for a washing machine or a piece of real estate. Businesses are motivated to go out and borrow to buy more machinery, to expand capacity, to hire more staff and manpower and basically do everything that will add to the growth of business.

Economic growth results as a result of all this. It is also during this time that stock market rises, we see a rally in stock prices and mutual fund NAV’s jumping higher and higher each day. There is prosperity all around.

Critical Role

As you can see that the central bank of the country has a very very important role to play.  If it makes a mistake, things can go really wrong.  Imagine like the USA or Japan if our interest rates were very low; everyone would run to borrow, they would borrow more than they require because it would be cheap and easy to borrow. And that is very individuals would run into what is known as the debt trap, because someday you’ll have to pay back.

Each day the central bank attempts to make sure that everything in our country remains stable and financially there’s nothing that goes wrong dramatically.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

The year of the bond, once again!

We are not talking of James Bond, we are talking of investment bonds.

We are in a situation where the fixed deposit rates are at a general low and there is a lot of discontent among depositors of fixed deposits.

Whenever we see a situation like this, one way or the other, the bond markets come to the rescue. It comes to the rescue of smart depositors, who are agile to move their money from fixed deposits to bond funds.

Let’s understand what is happening and why.

What Exactly is Happening in the Bond Markets?

It is likely that in this year, investors of bond funds will make handsome gains. Bond prices may rise and there may be capital gains. Investors of bond funds not only earn the rate of interest, but also earn capital gains. So that way, they make more than the return they would make on fixed deposits. The returns could be a high single digit or sometimes as high as double digits.

Over three years, this will become practically tax free or the tax would be a very small amount. So, basically, I am thinking that a rally will happen in the bond market. There are three main reasons for this — reduction in government borrowing (which is favourable), recovery of trading losses (which is favourable) and no change in monetary policy (which is neutral).

A word of caution, however, that such bond market investments are also subject to bond-market volatility and should be considered ideally with the help of a financial expert.

Before proceeding further, let us, therefore, quickly explain a bond, bond fund and bond market. We need to do this because few people understand the bond markets and even fewer invest in the bond markets.

Bond is nothing, but a commercial transaction where the borrower is issuing a bond to the lender and the lender will earn a certain rate of interest. When interest rates fall, everyone becomes interested in owning that bond.

As a result, the demand for the bond increases, the price of the bond increases and the bondholder makes capital gains.

A bond fund is a fund where ordinary investors pool in their money and a fund manager buys them a portfolio of bonds.

Moving onto the Reasons For a Rally in Bond Funds…

Now, the fundamental reason for a rally is reduction in interest rates as it stimulates economy and growth.

Firstly, the government is a massive borrower of funds. So a reduction in government borrowing reduces the demand for money in the economy. As a result, prices of bonds rise and this contributes to capital gains for bond holders.

Secondly, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently announced that the commercial banks and RBI, which are the largest lenders to the government, will have another year to offset losses they have incurred on account of buying government bonds in the past. This action will lead to a rise in the price of bonds and this contributes to capital gains for bond holders.

Lastly, on one side due to the rise in oil prices, there is more inflation and thus more money is needed for circulation in the economy. On the other side, many government bonds are maturing, which will provide money supply. So, it is likely that we see a neutralising effect and thus RBI will take no action. This inaction here will support capital gains as explained above. Hence, this year might be a year of good gains for the bond investors.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

Five new financial goals for you this summer

I am going to try and explain to you why the summer holidays of April and May are great months to get a lot of things started, financially speaking.

This time period in a way resets the financial clock. You also have the option to hit the reset button on everything you have done so far; financially speaking of course and hope to do better things better than you did last year.

Let’s look at some of the new and unusual things to do in April.

  • Make a learning budget

Learn something about money or anything you like. The best way to make money is to learn something about money. Just like if you wanted to learn cooking you will get into the cooking class. If you wanted to learn swimming you would enrol in the swimming class. If you find learning about money is too daunting task than learn something which is close at to your heart or related to your work. If you learn something new, there’s a possibility that you will use your new ideas to generate new income and in turn that will generate new wealth for you.  So make a budget, enrol somewhere and spend that budget. How about a % of your annual income? Spend it for sure!

  • Plan a unique holiday 

When you’re by yourself and without your mobile phone you will have the opportunity to think! When you have time to think, suddenly good ideas will come to your mind.  You may think this is silly but you can be sure that you will be amazed if your drivers experiment just once. So it might be a good idea to go for a holiday just by yourself. If you find that too intimidating, join a group of strangers. You can combine that with the adventures experience if you like.  Be extra careful if you’re going with your special buddies. Do this only if they are going to be in a position to help you discuss your idea and make it bigger. They must play the role of complimenting your thoughts. So make a schedule to do this holiday and obviously make a budget to make it happen. Think & create new ways of making wealth.

  • Make a prediction and make it happen

Be brave. Let’s aim to grow and multiply net worth by 50% by the time you come to the end of this financial year. This is not a joke and it is easier than you can imagine.  I’m speaking about NETWORTH and I’m not talking about return on investment. If your networth is Rs. 100 today, all I’m saying is that let’s aim to make this a 150 by the end of this year. This networth comprises of all your savings till date. This can be achieved by simply saving aggressively every month for the next twelve months. Just put this into a recurring deposit or liquid fund so you don’t spend it.  We just have to prove to ourselves that this is possible. Where and how we will invest this money will think about that later.

  • Eliminate a negative belief 

I want to give you an exercise here. Write down all your negative beliefs you have about money and wealth. Most people are not able to achieve the desired level of wealth because they think about wealth negatively. So even if you are earning a good amount of income you will never see yourself becoming wealthy. Examples are money causes problems, money causes a fight, managing money is complicated etc. Then for each negative thought, you have written down the positives i.e. the opposite for a few months. Soon negatively biased feelings will evaporate.

  • Make a new investment; something you have not done before

Again here you do not have to be a financial expert. The idea is to learn something new. There are hundreds of investment options. Our objective here is to learn something new. Talk to your advisor and seek his or her guidance. Just a word of caution here; don’t do anything which is speculative or is something that you just can’t understand. Do what do find easy you understand and do that then.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

Seeking financial freedom? The time is NOW!

John Lewis famously remarked, “If not now, then when? If not us, then who?” This is so appropriate in the current financial world that we live in.

That statement will leave to rest every other argument that is conservative and against the idea of wealth creation. We are often faced with the situation where there is no option but to create wealth. Read on to know why!

Interest rates are painfully low. For all those diehard fans of guaranteed investment returns, there’s hardly any place to go to. Thinking of fixed deposits? Feeling happy with 7%? And fully taxable? That period is over. Period.

That doctrine of investing into pure fixed deposits and similar instruments is unfortunately standing challenged. There is no option but to sprinkle it with a combination of a little something that will add to the returns earned from fixed income type of securities. In fact this category of investors are in a way, best placed in terms of the current tax laws.

They can earn about 9-10% with minimal or near zero tax over about five years and more. Starting to generate rate of return above the inflation level of 7% is starting to create wealth. So there it is; there is no option but to move in the direction of creating wealth.

For more evolved investors, who invest in equities and who and still sitting on the sidelines tend to run out of patience every now and then. They are sometimes waiting for the right time, sometimes waiting for correction, sometimes waiting for valuation and sometimes waiting for just nothing. Sometimes, just too busy to take action!

I totally understand not wanting to lose hard-earned money. But if the money does not move it will stagnate. That’s the problem with money.

Hit the Ground Running

Inaction and inactivity kills it. Makes it costly to hold. Makes us lose opportunities, sometimes small and sometimes significant. I know of many people including my dad, who just kept investing into equities and holding forever. No doubt they were hugely (big HUGELY) better off then the people in the same time zone. I think they could have done far better with some smart lessons on asset allocation. This is because if they compare the growth rate of their holding over a period of 20 or maybe 30 years the compounded rate of return earned is often not impressive.

It is just marginally better or a few percentage points above the fixed deposit rate. Hence the need for asset allocation, which simply put is not to have all eggs in one basket at any given point in time. These sections of investors anyways create wealth, and, asset allocation is the tool that ensures that the process of wealth creation continues uninterrupted. So again there it is; even for this section there is not option but to start enhancing their wealth creation activities, else returns will continue to remain forever mediocre.

Then there are skeptics and there is nothing much for skeptics of everything, except that they need a serious dose of financial education. Perhaps what if needed is a proof of concept and for that, which better country to live in other than India where financial transparency in investments is so high that I sometimes feel, it comes from another planet.

 Your Money Needs Action

Today, there is a whole lot of variety to choose from and we have never been more spoilt for choice. But the most important thing in all this is to understand that your money needs action. It needs activity and for that the time is now!

And furthermore, if you asked me this question 10 years ago; I would have said that, the Time is NOW. If you ask this question 10 years hence, I will still say the Time is NOW. Any time is the right time to start the process of creating wealth. All that is important is that you take your first step; then continue it all the way with zeal and determination… till you have the level of wealth that you desire. And if you accumulate more than you need, still do it and share it with the world.

If you want your financial freedom; then the Time is NOW!

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager and Financial Freedom Coach.

Young Turks: Here’s the success story of venture fund Aspada

Venture fund Aspada was co-founded by Kartik Srivatsa and Thomas Hyland in 2012 and has made 17 investments so far across Fin-tech, agriculture, health and edu-tech startups.

Young Turks takes a look at their investment thesis, their differentiated VC model and meet three of their portfolio companies – Capital Float that underwrites unsecured loans to startups and SMEs; Dunzo, a hyper local concierge and delivery player that is also Google’s first direct startup investment in India; WayCool, a Chennai-based agriculture-tech startup.

How to overcome funding challenges with the help of a startup incubator amid COVID-19

12 unicorns in 2020 and 10 already in 2021! The COVID-19 carnage may have been humongous, but one space that has remained buoyant is the start-up world. The funding taps kept flowing even as start-ups struggled due to the nationwide lockdown in the earlier few months of the financial year 2019-20. Some caught global investors’ eye while others turned cash-flow positive. Fintech players emerged winners as the year 2020 was the second-best year for fintech funding, according to a KPMG report.

Another report by fintech consulting firm The Digital Fifth says a major chunk of investment in 2020 has been in the early-stage startups. As many as 49 startups received seed funding, while seven fetched funding from angel investors.

There is no dearth of money. Venture capitalists (VCs) are always on the hunt for attractive deals. The real challenge comes in communication. Start-up founders need a well-oiled networking environment that directs them to the right people. A start-up incubator is just the place for them!

A Broader and Deeper Connect

Running a start-up is a daily challenge – brimming with hurdles day in and day out. Most start-up founders are young and inexperienced in how the business works. They will have a brilliant idea on the basis of which they may get funding. But the real challenge comes later. What about regulatory compliance, legal matters, market access or simply an office space? Angel investors and VCs do help them with funds and connections, but they don’t walk with them. An incubator assists them with the very foundation and in scaling up. Mind you, the operational control rests with the founders. The ecosystem partners are always available to help them navigate through the troubled waters – on a daily basis.

Fetching a Trump Card

Connections only don’t work. Relevant connections matter. Founders in pressing need of funding may accept the funds from any investor who may or may not understand their product or the target audience. Incubators can drive them to suitable investors who believe in their idea and are passionate about it – who can mentor them. In them, they have a Trump Card!

Global Exposure

Start-ups cannot get global exposure from day one. Incubators open those doors for them. An early-stage fintech start-up in 2020 inked two high-value global deals. There is another that raised funds from overseas angel investors. The international funding environment has evolved. Incubators with the help of global mentors lay bare the cultural differences between global and Indian investors and start-ups. For example, the Indian market is tilted in favour of investors. Founders are at the receiving end. An incubator with global exposure will tell you what to look for in an investor, and asking the right questions to understand if it’s the right fit for the startup

Hitting the bull’s eye

An incubator takes a holistic look at the business model of a start-up and the roadmap that founders have. Perhaps the start-up has a unique X-factor that founders did not notice. Incubators give them a fresh perspective – an outsider’s view being very much an insider. Recently a fintech start-up had an idea around ‘insta redeem feature’ for emergency use. The incubator suggested they pitch it to cash-strapped MSMEs facing tough times during Covid-19. The founder had an idea, and the incubator cracked the marketing code.

Peer-to-peer networking

Incubators bring with them a like-minded community of start-ups – a shared talent pool. Sometimes they find business partners within the community itself. For example, an incubator has a start-up that provides privacy-driven data collection tools. Many start-ups in the fold use those tools. In another example, a founder of a start-up was a chief technology officer of a payment firm in his previous role. Often other founders would reach out to him to discuss technology ideas. Such peer-to-peer conversations to pick the brain yield great outcomes.

Skill development

Whatever bootstrapped funding is available; start-ups need to spend it in a planned manner. This has become extremely important in rampaging pandemic when businesses have slowed down. Incubators make sure they conduct regular online sessions to enhance skills. There will be mentors taking sessions on fund-raise, brand communication, what red flags to look out in deals, business-to-business sales and why User Interface and User Experience hold key from the very beginning. They help them reduce administrative/ operational burdens by driving them to technology-driven solutions.

The power of soft skills

Sometimes founders will have all the boxes checked (or the lack of it) but their own personality may make or break the deal. Beyond business, most investors observe the minute details. They will casually ask them how they have commuted to come to meetings or in which hotel they are staying. They notice what they order from the menu or how they interact with the waiter. Founders can’t be spendthrift or aggressive. If they are careful about their lifestyle expenses and in the way they treat people, they will show prudence in business expenses and managing the team. Incubators groom the founders accordingly.

Fundraise is not the beginning and the end of it. Start-ups need much more than funding. An incubator combines all power points to build a profitable business. If the foundation is built strong, start-ups will have tremendous opportunity to raise funds at different stages. A well-founded (and funded) start-up can only fly its way to being a unicorn.

by Tanul Mishra, CEO, Afthonia Lab

Tauktae intensifies into ‘very severe cyclonic storm’, yellow alert issued for Gujarat coast: IMD

Cyclone Tauktae has intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” and is approaching the Gujarat coast, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Sunday.

“It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach Gujarat coast in the evening hours of 17th (May) and cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva (Bhavnagar district) around 18th May early morning,” the IMD said.

The IMD has also issued a yellow alert for the coasts of Gujarat and Diu and Daman.

According to the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD, by May 18, the wind speed is expected to increase to 150-160 kilometres per hour, gusting up to 175 kmph.

The IMD said wind speed reaching 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph is likely along and off south Maharashtra-Goa and adjoining Karnataka coasts, and 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph along and off the north Maharashtra coast on May 16. It is likely to increase to 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph along and off the north Maharashtra coast from May 17 till the morning of May 18.

Squally wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph is likely over the northeast Arabian Sea and along and off south Gujarat and Daman and Diu coasts from morning May 16.

It will gradually increase, becoming gale with speed reaching 150-160 kmph gusting to 175 kmph over the northeast Arabian Sea and along and off Gujarat coast (Porbandar, Junagarh, Gir Somnath, Amreli) and 120-150 kmph gusting to 165 kmph over Devbhoomi Dwarka, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar districts of Gujarat from the early hours of May 18.

Winds with speed reaching 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph are likely to prevail along and off Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman, Valsad, Navsari, Surat, Bharuch, southern parts of Ahmedabad and Anand districts from the midnight of May 17 and till the morning of May 18.

A nearly 3-metre-high tidal wave is expected in Junagarh, 1-2.5 metres above astronomical tide is likely to inundate coastal areas of Diu, Gir Somnath, Amreli, Bharuch, Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad, Anand, Surat and about 0.5-1 metres over Devbhoomi Dwarka, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Kutch and the remaining coastal districts of Gujarat during the time of landfall, the IMD said.

According to the weather department, in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district, total destruction of thatched houses, extensive damage to kutcha houses and some damage to pucca houses is expected. There could be a potential threat from flying objects with bending or uprooting of power and communication poles.

Major damage to kutcha and pucca roads, flooding of escape routes, minor disruption of railways, overhead power lines and signalling systems is expected, the IMD said.

Lockdown extended in Delhi by another week till May 24, says CM Kejriwal

Doorstep survey throws up 1,178 COVID-19 cases in Delhi's containment zones, densely populated area

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday extended the ongoing lockdown by another week till May 24. It was scheduled to end tomorrow morning at 5 am.

“We are extending the lockdown by one more week in the national capital. Instead of tomorrow, lockdown will continue till next Monday 5 am in Delhi,” said Arvind Kejriwal

The COVID-19 situation has been improving in Delhi with the number of cases and positivity rate going down steadily in the past few days. The chief minister said the lockdown is being extended as the gains made so far in combating the coronavirus cannot be lost due to relaxations now.

Earlier, Kejriwal on May 11 suggested that the Centre share the anti-COVID-19 vaccine formula of the two manufacturers with other companies in the country to scale up production. Kejriwal said there is a shortage of vaccines across the country, and an urgent need to ramp up its manufacturing on a war footing.

(With inputs from PTI)

 

 

Indian hotel industry takes over Rs 1.30 lakh crore revenue hit in FY21, seeks govt support: FHRAI

The Indian hotel industry has taken a hit of over Rs 1.30 lakh crore in revenue for the fiscal year 2020-21 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) said on Sunday.

The apex industry body said it has submitted a representation to the Prime Minister and a few other union ministers urging immediate support from the government to save the hospitality sector from imminent collapse and has requested for several fiscal measures for this.

“The Indian hotel industry’s total revenue in FY2019-20 stood at Rs 1.82 lakh crore. As per our estimates, in FY2020-21, approximately 75 per cent of the industry’s revenues got wiped off. That is more than Rs 1.30 lakh crore revenue hit,” the FHRAI said in a statement.

The businesses are steadily closing and non-performing assets (NPAs) are rising, it added.

Since March 2020, the industry has been struggling to manage its statutory and capital expenditure obligations. Repayment of loans with interest is not just difficult but impossible under a more severe economic environment due to the present surge, FHRAI Vice President Gurbaxish Singh Kohli said.

Without a moratorium on EMIs and interest payments, the sector will completely crumble, he added.

“We request the Government to offer a sector-specific policy which can mitigate all adverse financial impact including debt obligations accrued or to be accrued towards banks, financial institutions or any other entities, in view of the current circumstances and its long-term repercussions,” Kohli said.

While FHRAI understands that the government has to prioritise, ignoring the industry even now will push it to the point of no return, he added.

“Without wasting any more time, the government should make necessary special provisions to waive statutory charges for the hospitality sector,” Kohli said.

The hospitality industry should be offered a waiver of property tax, water charges, electricity charges and excise license fees for the lockdown period, he added.

FHRAI Jt Honorary Secretary Pradeep Shetty said that working capital support with a low rate of interest from the government will help the hospitality establishments that are struggling to restart and sustain their operations due to negative cash flows.

“We also request the government to compensate employees engaged in the industry and their families for the loss of income,” he added.

“Along with moratorium extension of three years the industry will need a complete waiver of interest on the loans from March 2020 till the time that business is normalised, FHRAI Vice President Surendra Kumar Jaiswal said.

Being an employment-intensive sector, a concrete policy is required to support the hospitality industry, he added.

Senior journalist Sunil Jain passes away due to post-COVID complications

Business newspaper Financial Express’ Managing Editor Sunil Jain passed away here on Saturday due to post-COVID-19 complications, his sister Sandhya Jain said.

Jain had tested positive for the coronavirus and was admitted at AIIMS.

“We lost my brother Sunil Jain this evening to Covid+its complications. Doctors, staff at AIIMS battled heroically, but the demon was too powerful. May Tirthankaras guide his onward journey; deep gratitude to all who stood by us in these darkest days,” she tweeted.

Paying condolences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “You left us too soon, Sunil Jain. I will miss reading your columns and hearing your frank as well as insightful views on diverse matters. You leave behind an inspiring range of work. Journalism is poorer today, with your sad demise. Condolences to family and friends. Om Shanti.”

Anant Goenka, executive director of the Indian Express Group which owns Financial Express, described Jain as a friend who was of unquestionable integrity and inspired with his professional commitment.

“Privileged to have known him, will cherish his passion, balance & wisdom.Your Express family will miss you,” he tweeted.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman expressed shock at his death.

A regular Twitter user, Jain had posted about his poor health on May 3 and then expressed his thanks in his last tweet on the same day after he was admitted at AIIMS.

“Thank you everyone for all the help. I don’t even know whom all to thank. Am in AIIMS emergency now. So I’m safe hands,” he had tweeted.

Fuel price hike: Petrol price nears Rs 99 in Mumbai; Rs 92.5 in Delhi

Petrol price on Sunday was increased by 24 paise per litre and diesel by 27 paise, pushing rates across the country to record highs and that of petrol in Mumbai to near Rs 99 a litre. The increase led to rates in Delhi climbing to Rs 92.58 per litre and diesel to Rs 83.22, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers.

Rates had already crossed Rs 100-mark in several cities in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and with the latest increase, price in Mumbai too was inching towards that level. A litre of petrol in Mumbai now comes for Rs 98.88 and diesel is priced at Rs 90.40 per litre.

Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT and freight charges. Rajasthan levies the highest value-added tax (VAT) on petrol in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This is the ninth increase in prices since May 4 when the state-owned oil firms ended an 18-hiatus in rate revision they observed during assembly elections in states like West Bengal.

Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan had the costliest petrol and diesel in the country at Rs 103.52 per litre and Rs 95.99 a litre, respectively. In nine increases, petrol price has risen by Rs 2.19 per litre and diesel by Rs 2.49.

Since March last year when the government raised excise duty on fuel to an all-time high, petrol price has increased by a record Rs 22.99 per litre (after accounting for a handful of occasions when rates fell) and diesel by Rs 20.93. Oil companies, which have in recent months resorted to unexplained freeze in rate revision, had hit a pause button after cutting prices marginally on April 15. This coincided with electioneering hitting a peak to elect new governments in five states including West Bengal.

No sooner had voting ended, oil companies indicated an impending increase in retail prices in view of firming trend in international oil markets. Central and state taxes make up for 60 per cent of the retail selling price of petrol and over 54 per cent of diesel. The union government levies Rs 32.90 per litre of excise duty on petrol and Rs 31.80 on diesel.

India records 3.11 lakh fresh COVID-19 cases in single day

India recorded 3.11 lakh fresh cases of coronavirus in a day taking the total tally of COVID-19 infections to 2,46,84,077, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.

A total of 3,11,170 new cases were reported in a day, while the death toll climbed to 2,70,284 with 4,077 daily fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed. The active cases have reduced to 36,18,458 comprising 14.66 percent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 84.25 percent, the data updated at 8 am showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 2,07,95,335, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09 percent, the data stated.

India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.India crossed the grim milestone of 2 crore on May 4. According to the ICMR, 31,48,50,143 samples have been tested up to May 15 with 18,32,950 samples being tested on Saturday.

Congress MP Rajeev Satav dies after recovering from COVID-19

Congress MP Rajiv Satav died at a private hospital in Pune on Sunday, days after recovering from coronavirus infection. The 46-year-old leader was on ventilator support at the hospital after his health deteriorated.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala shared the news of Satav’s demise on Twitter.

Satav, considered close to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, had tested positive for coronavirus infection on April 22. Satav was later diagnosed with a new viral infection and was in a critical condition.

Taking to Twitter, Rahul Gandhi said Satav was a leader with huge potential.

“I’m very sad at the loss of my friend Rajeev Satav. He was a leader with huge potential who embodied the ideals of Congress. It’s a big loss for us all. My condolences and love to his family,” he tweeted.

Condolences poured in from various quarters. “We are deeply saddened by the demise of Rajya Sabha MP and compatriot, Shri Rajeev Satav. His unwavering dedication towards the nation and the party carried out with pure simplicity will be greatly missed. Our condolences to his family, friends and followers. May he rest in peace,” the Congress tweeted from its official handle.

(With inputs from PTI) 

Israel Palestine Conflict Live Updates: Israel targets home of Gaza’s top Hamas leader

Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and other US cities on Saturday to demand an end to Israeli airstrikes over the Gaza Strip.

The protests were stoked by five days of mayhem that left at least 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza and eight dead on the Israeli side. The violence, set off by Hamas firing a rocket into Israel on Monday, came after weeks of mounting tensions and heavy-handed Israeli measures in contested Jerusalem.

Israel stepped up its assault and slammed the Gaza Strip with airstrikes Saturday, in a dramatic escalation that included bombing the home of a senior Hamas leader, killing a family of 10 in a refugee camp and destroying a building that house the offices of The Associated Press and other media.

Follow us for all the live updates

Plasma therapy not effective, likely to be dropped from clinical management guidelines on COVID-19

Plasma therapy on COVID-19 patients has not been found effective in reducing the progression to severe disease or death and is likely to be dropped from the clinical management guidelines, sources said. In a meeting of the ICMR-National Task Force for COVID-19 on Friday, all members were in favour of removing the use of convalescent plasma from the Clinical Guidance for Management of Adult COVID-19 Patients citing its ineffectiveness and inappropriate use in several cases, they said.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will issue an advisory on the matter soon, they said. The present guidelines allows “off label” use of plasma therapy at the stage of early moderate disease, that is, within seven days of the onset of symptoms and if there is availability of a high titre donor plasma.

The decision to remove it from the guidelines comes in the backdrop of some clinicians and scientists writing to Principal Scientific Advisor K VijayRaghavan cautioning against the “irrational and non-scientific use” of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 in the country. In the letter, which was also marked to ICMR chief Balram Bhargava and AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, public health professionals alleged that the current guidelines on plasma therapy are not based on existing evidence and pointed out some very early evidence that indicates a possible association between emergence of variants with lower susceptibility to neutralising antibodies in immunosuppressed” people given plasma therapy.

This raises the possibility of more virulent strains developing due to irrational use of plasma therapy which can fuel the pandemic, according to the letter signed by vaccinologist Gagandeep Kang, surgeon Pramesh C S and others. “We are writing to you as concerned clinicians, public health professionals and scientists from India about the irrational and non- scientific use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 in the country.

“This has stemmed from guidelines issued by government agencies, and we request your urgent intervention to address the issue which can prevent harassment of COVID-19 patients, their families, their clinicians and COVID-19 survivors, said the letter. “The current research evidence unanimously indicates that there is no benefit offered by convalescent plasma for treatment of COVID-19. However, it continues to be prescribed rampantly in hospitals across India, the letter said.

Families of patients run from pillar-to-post for getting plasma, which is in short supply. The desperation of patients and their families is understandable because they like to try the best for their loved ones, when a doctor has prescribed this, the public health professionals said. In the plasma therapy, antibodies from the blood of a patient who has recovered from COVID-19 are used to treat serious patients.

They said ICMR guidelines are not based on the existing evidence. They cited the ICMR-PLACID trial which was the world”s first randomised controlled trial on convalescent plasma in 39 public and private hospitals across India.

It found “convalescent plasma was not associated with a reduction in progression to severe COVID-19 or all-cause mortality. This trial has high generalisability and approximates convalescent plasma use in real life settings with limited laboratory capacity”. The large trial of 11,588 patients found no difference in death or proportion of patients discharged from hospital, the clinicians said.

Even for those patients who were not on ventilation initially, there was no difference “in the proportion meeting the composite endpoint of progression to invasive mechanical ventilation or death”, they pointed out. The health professionals added that the PlasmAr trial in Argentina concluded that there is no significant difference in clinical status or overall mortality between patients treated with convalescent plasma and those who received placebo.

“Current research evidence unanimously indicates that there is no benefit offered by convalescent plasma for treatment of COVID-19. However, it continues to be prescribed rampantly in hospitals across India,” they said.