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China’s e-commerce website Alibaba creates video fingerprints to fight piracy

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In a bid to curb piracy, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has come up with ‘video fingerprints’ technology that gives each original video a unique online identity.

Short videos have become a popular form of advertisement for sellers on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall. But the videos are often left unpatented due to a cumbersome process, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

To curb this malpractice, Alibaba’s security lab has created ‘fingerprints’ for all original videos on Taobao and Tmall, said He Yuan, a senior algorithm expert at the lab.

The fingerprints can be used to identify the video even if it is trimmed or its images modified, he added.

Businesses participating in the project can upload their videos and have ‘fingerprints’ generated automatically. Once qualified as an original video, any other videos with high similarity will be reported to the business owner.

After being online for about a month, more than 7,000 businesses have signed up to participate in the project, said Alibaba.

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Commercial coal mining will reduce India’s dependence on imported fuel: JSPL

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The governments recent announcement to permit coal mining for commercial sale marks a fundamental shift in the government policy to address the continuing shortfall in domestic coal production to meet the countrys requirements, Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) Managing Director V.R Sharma said in an interview with IANS.

India has the world’s fourth largest coal reserve, the country imported 247.1 MT of coal in 2019-20. “The commercial coal mining will likely to reduce India’s dependence upon imported fuel,” he added.

In keeping with JSPL’s stated objective of becoming debt-free in the next few years, JSPL has divested its entire stake in its step down subsidiary, Jindal Shadeed Iron and Steel Co LLC (JSIS Oman). The value of the enterprise deal is estimated to be over $1 billion.

Sharma said, “This is in line with our vision to deleverage our balance sheet and create a much healthier balance sheet for our investors and stakeholders. Our restructuring plan is proceeding as we had envisaged. JSPL is a firm believer in the India growth story, and India’s potential to become an engine of global growth,” he added.

JSPL MD said that even during COVID 19, JSPL Indian operations recorded ever highest monthly steel (including pig iron) production of 626,000 tons in June 2020. “Owing to the Covid-19 lockdown, the domestic steel demand was subdued during the last quarter; hence export evacuation supported the plant operations and capacity utilization,” he added.

He added that improved domestic availability will reduce dependence upon imported thermal coal. Also, India is dependent upon imported metallurgical coal, but the Government’s impetus on Coal Gasification will likely reduce the dependency on imported metallurgical coal in the future.

Q: What has been JSPL’s performance in steel production and sales in the last quarter? Are exports powering steel Consumption?

A: Even during COVID 19, JSPL Indian operations recorded ever highest monthly Steel (including. pig iron) production of 626,000 tons in June 2020 and ever highest quarterly steel (including pig iron) production of 1,670,000 tons in Q1 FY’21.

The company recorded a 12 per cent growth (quarter-on-quarter) in sales volumes and an 8% rise (q-o-q) in standalone steel production (including. pig iron) during Q1 FY’21.

JSPL clocked ever highest standalone export sales of 900,000 tons in Q1 FY’21, the export sales contributed to 58 per cent of total sales volumes in Q1 FY’21. JSPL’s Consolidated Steel (incl. pig iron) Sales rises by 7 per cent Q-o-Q.

Yes, owing to the Covid-19 lockdown, the domestic steel demand was subdued during the last quarter; hence export evacuation supported the plant operations and capacity utilization.

Q: What is the JSPL debt deleveraging strategy and target? What is the rationale for the divestment of the Oman asset?

A: In keeping with JSPL’s stated objective of becoming debt-free in the next few years, JSPL has divested its entire stake in its step down subsidiary, Jindal Shadeed Iron and Steel Co LLC (JSIS Oman). The value of the enterprise deal is estimated to be over $1 billion.

This is in line with our vision to deleverage our balance sheet and create a much healthier balance sheet for our investors and stakeholders. Our restructuring plan is proceeding as we had envisaged.

JSPL is a firm believer in the India growth story, and India’s potential to become an engine of global growth. We think we have an important role to play in the evolution and growth of the Indian steel industry.

Q: What is the JSPL view on import substitution and Atmanirbhar Bharat?

A: India is already Atmanirbhar as far as steel products for infrastructure are concerned. JSPL is pioneered in technology and development of products catering to the requirements of Oil & Gas, Ship Building, Railways. Our peer group has the capacity and capability to deliver special steel to cater to the requirements of the Auto Sector.

On to raw materials, the Indian steel industry is to a certain extent dependent upon imported raw materials like metallurgical coal. In 2007, we decided to produce steel through Indian high ash coal by converting it into syngas and commissioned the world’s first Syngas-based DRI plant in 2013 to make steel. Hence, we demonstrated the capability of making steel by the usage of 100 per cent indigenous raw material.

Q: What is the strategy for the recently announced policy on commercial mining of coal blocks?

A: The government’s recent announcement to permit coal mining for commercial sale marks a fundamental shift in the government policy to address the continuing shortfall in domestic coal production to meet the country’s requirements.

India has the world’s 4th largest coal reserve, the country imported 247.1 MT of coal in 2019-20. The commercial coal mining will likely to reduce India’s dependence upon imported fuel.

Q: What is the capacity of the coal gasification project?

A: JSPL operates the world’s first coal gasification based DRI Plant of 2.0 million tonne capacity at Angul where syngas is used to make direct-reduced iron (DRI) or sponge iron, an input required in the steel-making process.

JSPL’s coal gasification plant capacity is 225,000 NM3 per hour of syngas, which is supporting the 2.0 Million MT of syngas based DRI plant.

Q: How much coal is JSPL buying currently? How can coal imports be reduced?

A: JSPL currently has a requirement of around 5.5 Million MT per year of Metallurgical Coal and 7 Million MT of Thermal coal requirements.

Improved domestic availability will reduce dependence upon imported thermal coal. Also, India is dependent upon imported metallurgical coal, but the Government’s impetus on Coal Gasification will likely reduce the dependency on imported metallurgical coal in the future.

Q: What is the outlook on demand for steel as the economy opens up?

A: The government is pushing for infrastructure-led growth, and investing heavily in its development. The railways’ sector has been the one bright spot in the last few years, in terms of growth and steel use, mainly driven by its capital expenditures in modernization projects and record production of rolling stocks.

The machinery and yellow goods sector demand will likely to become healthy with the advent of the increased mining operation. Governments have already auctioned a sizable number of iron ore mines, and upcoming commercial mining of coal will further add to the demand for yellow goods and other steel products from these segments.

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Economy showing signs of getting back to normalcy: RBI Governor

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India’s economy is showing signs of getting back to normalcy, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Saturday.

In a keynote address at the 7th SBI Banking and Economics Conclave, Das noted that medium term outlook still remains uncertain.

“Despite the substantial impact of pandemic in our daily lives, the financial system of the country, including all the payment systems and financial markets, are functioning without any hindrance,” he said.

“The Indian economy has started showing signs of getting back to nor malcy i n response to the staggered easing of restrictions. It is, however, still uncertain when supply chains will be restored fully; how long will it take for demand conditions to normalise; and what kind of durable effects the pandemic will leave behind on our potential growth.”

He elaborated that a multi-pronged approach adopted by the Reserve Bank has p rovided a cushion from the immediate impact of the pandemic on banks, however, the medium-term outlook is uncertain and depends on the Covid-19 curve.

“Policy action for the medium-term would require a careful assessment of how the crisis unfolds. Building buffers and raising capital will be crucial not only to ensure credit flow but also to build resilience in the financial system.”

According to Das, the Reserve Bank has asked financial institutions to carry out a Covid stress test to see weaknesses in their balance sheet.

“We have recently advised all banks, non-deposit taking NBFCs and all deposit-taking NBFCs to assess the impact of Covid-19 on their balance sheet, asset quality, liquidity, profitability and capital adequacy for the financial y ear 2020-21.

“Based on the outcome of such stress testing, banks and non-banking financial companies have been advised to work out possible mitigating measures, including capital planning, capital raising, and contingency liquidity planning, among others. The idea is to ensure continued credit supply to different se ctors of the economy and maintain financial stability,” Das said.

Besides, he cited that RBI has strengthened its offsite surveillance mechanism to proactively find weak institutes and to immediately take corrective steps.

“As the lock-down has obstructed our on-site supervisory examination to an extent, we are further enhancing our off-site surveillance mechanism. The objective of the off-site surveillance system would be to ‘smell the distress’, if any, and be able to initiate pre-emptive actions.

“This requires use of market intelligence inputs and on-going engage ments with financial institutions on potential vulnerabilities. The off-site assessment framework, which takes into account macro and micro variables, i s more analytical and forward looking and aimed at identifying vulnerable se ctors, borrowers as well as supervised entities.”

Furthermore, he said the supervisory approach of the Reserve Bank is to further strengthen its focus on developing financial institutions’ ability to identify, measure, and mitigate the risks.

“The new supervisory approach will be two-pronged – first, strengthening the internal defences of the supervised entities; and second, greater focus on identifying the early warning signals and initiate corrective action,” Das said.

He cited that to strengthen the internal defences, higher emphasis is now be ing given on causes of weaknesses than on symptoms.

“The symptoms of weak banks are usually poor asset quality, lack of profitability, loss of capital, excessive leverage, excessive risk exposure, poor conduct, and liquidity concerns. These different symptoms often emerge together,” he said.

“The causes of weak financial institutions can usually be traced to one or more of the following conditions: inappropriate business model, given the business environment; poor or inappropriate governance and assurance functions; poor decision making by senior management; and misalignment of intern al incentive structures with external stakeholder interests.”

Accordingly, he said RBI is placing special emphasis on the assessment of business model, governance and assurance functions, as these have been the are as of heightened supervisory concern.

“Supervised entities generally tend to focus more on business aspect seven to the detriment of governance aspects and assurance functions. There was also an apparent disconnect between their articulated business strategy and actual business operations. The thrust of the approach, therefore is, to improve the risk, compliance, and governance culture amongst the financial institutions,” he said.

In addition, he said that post containment of Covid-19, “a very careful trajectory has to be followed in orderly unwinding of counter-cyclical regulator y measures and the financial sector should return to normal function ing without relying on the regulatory relaxations as the new norm”.

“The Reserve Bank is making continuous assessment of the changing trajectory of financial stability risks and upgrading its own supervisory framework to ensure that financial stability is preserved,” he said.

“Banks and financial intermediaries have to be ever vigilant and substantially upgrade their capabilities with respect to governance, assurance functions and risk culture.”

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SpiceJet to operate UAE flights from July 12th

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Airline major SpiceJet on Saturday said it will operate flights from across four stations in India to Ras Al-Khaimah (Dubai) between July 12th and 26th for eligible ‘Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approved UAE residents’.

Accordingly, the airline will operate flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Kozhikode and Kochi to the UAE.

“These flights will carry only those passengers who are destined for UAE,” the airline said in a statement.

“From the Ras Al-Khaimah airport, SpiceJet will also be providing coaches, free of cost, for passengers travelling to Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.”

According to the airline, all passengers will be required to undertake a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted not more than 96 hours prior to the departure while also carrying the Covid-19 negative test result to be eligible to board the flight.

“Passengers must also have the Al-Hosn UAE App downloaded on their respective mobile phones. It is also mandatory for passengers to submit the health declaration form and quarantine undertaking form before boarding the flight,” the statement said.

The airline has helped repatriate over 45,000 people in the last 45 days from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar by operating ‘Special Charter Flights’ and by participating actively in the Vande Bharat mission.

“We will operate more repatriation flights in the coming days and we are fortunate to acquire another opportunity to serve and fly back people to the UAE to their families or for work,” Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Commercial Officer, SpiceJet, was quoted as saying in the statement.

On Thursday, the Centre announced civil aviation authorities of India and the UAE have agreed to operate special repatriation flights between the two countries during July 12-26.

As per the arrangement, chartered flights operated by UAE carriers to bring back Indians from the UAE will be allowed to carry ICA (Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship) approved UAE residents to their native country on their return leg.

Further, Indian carriers operating repatriation flights to bring back Indians from the UAE will be allowed to carry the ICA-approved UAE residents on their onward journey from India to the Gulf country.

“As part of the close strategic partnership between the governments of India and UAE , and with a view to assisting UAE residents who are presently in India to return to UAE, the Civil Aviation Authorities of both countries have agreed to operationalise a special arrangement,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had tweeted.

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