Moscow confused as IAF puts fifth-generation fighter on back burner to buy Rafale

Currently, the Sukhoi T-50 is powered by the NPO Saturn AL-41F1, which only is a souped-up version of the AL-31FP engine that powers the Sukhoi-30MKI

The ongoing MAKS 2015 air show in Moscow features an impressive flying display by the Sukhoi T-50, the fifth-generation prototype fighter’s first public outing in two years. But even the rousing applause fails to mask the disappointment of Russian officials at the Indian Air Force‘s (IAF’s) foot-dragging in co-developing the T-50 into a “fifth generation fighter aircraft” (FGFA) that the IAF will buy.

Well-informed sources in Moscow say the IAF vice chief has written a letter that effectively blocks the FGFA project. It criticises 27 different aspects of the FGFA, raising questions that must be answered before New Delhi and Moscow put $2.5 billion each into jointly developing the advanced fighter.

Business Standard also learns the IAF has vetoed a Russian offer to co-develop a fifth-generation engine for the FGFA. This is baffling to the Russians, given the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) long-standing attempts at joint engine development in order to end India’s expensive dependency on foreign vendors for aero engines. An internal DRDO estimation reckons that India will import aero engines worth Rs 3,50,000 crore over the next decade.

After the DRDO failed to develop the Kaveri engine to the level where it could power the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), it strived to persuade French engine-maker, Snecma, to co-develop an engine. But Snecma declined to share key technologies, especially those relating to materials that can withstand the hellish temperatures created in the engine’s combustion chamber.

Nor has Washington agreed to share these technologies, even after President Barack Obama agreed during his January visit to New Delhi that a “joint working group” would explore US-India cooperation in engine technology.

DRDO and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) officials say the Russian offer of engine co-development fits well with the FGFA project itself, since the engine will power the same fighter. Currently, the Sukhoi T-50 is powered by the NPO Saturn AL-41F1, which only is a souped-up version of the AL-31FP engine that powers the Sukhoi-30MKI. A brand new, more powerful, engine is needed to let the FGFA supercruise, or fly at supersonic speeds while cruising without an afterburner. This is considered essential for a fifth-generation fighter.

Military aerospace experts worldwide believe that, given Moscow’s economic distress, the T-50 project badly needs India’s financial partnership to move forward. So far, the Russian Air Force has ordered only one squadron of T-50s.

Sergey Chemezov, who heads Rostec, the powerful Russian high-technology agency, downplays India’s delay. “As for the involvement with India, there is a certain delay, though this is not something that we (Russia) can be responsible for.


Avani Chaturvedi becomes first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly solo

Countries, such as Britain, the United States, Israel, and Pakistan, have allowed women in the role of fighter pilots

Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi has created history by becoming the first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly solo.

Chaturvedi flew a MiG-21 bison in her first training solo sortie, in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

She is one of the three in the first batch of female pilots, besides Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron on June 18, 2016.

Speaking to ANI, Air Commodore Prashant Dixit said, “It is a unique achievement for Indian Air Force and the country.”

Only selected countries, such as Britain, the United States, Israel, and Pakistan, have allowed women in the role of fighter pilots.

It was in October 2015 that the Government took the decision to open the fighter stream for women.

Meanwhile, combat roles in the Army and the Navy are still off-limits for women, due to a combination of operational concerns and logistical constraints.

On December 16, 2017 two women from the second batch to enter the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force were commissioned after graduating from the Air Force Academy, Dundigul.

It was only in 1992 that the armed forces began recruiting women to streams, other than the Medical stream.

Budget 2018: Real estate expects lower GST rate, infrastructure status

Stamp duty continues to remain in force even after implementation of GST and the rates vary from state to state

Severely impacted by various reforms like RERA, GST and demonetisation, the realty sector is pinning its hopes on Budget 2018-19 for relief measures like lower taxes and infrastructure status.

The year 2017 was an eventful one for the sector with many structural policy reforms, which resulted in a significant decline in home launches to 1,03,570 units compared to 1,75,822 in 2016.

Industry players are expecting rationalisation of the GST rates from the current 12 per cent to 6 per cent and bringing stamp duty under the ambit of GST.

“Also, industry status to the full real estate sector will help in creating surplus housing demand along with financing at lower rate for long-term projects.

“Rationalisation of GST by capping it at 6 per cent with input tax credit for the entire segment in real estate will help revive and boost demand,” Naredco National President Niranjan Hiranandani said.

During the pre-GST era, service tax was around 4.5 per cent and VAT 1 per cent — resulting in total tax outgo of 5.5 per cent.

“Further, stamp duty continues to remain in force even after implementation of GST and the rates vary from state to state which increases the costs for the consumer.

“We hope that state governments abolish the same or merge with the existing GST rates,” House of Hiranandani Chairman and MD Surendra Hiranandani said.

Tata Housing Managing Director and CEO Brotin Banerjee said, “We look forward to seeing the additional stamp duty and registration on properties be reduced or merged with GST. A reduction of the taxes and add-on costs, inclusive of brokerage, on under-construction properties, will also ease the financial burden from a consumer perspective.”

Apart from GST, infrastructure status to the entire sector tops the list of their expectations from the budget.

 Budget 2018 Real estate sector should be allotted infrastructure status, which will lead to construction funds being available to the developer at much lower interest rates.

“This will eventually benefit EWS and LIG customers, as the developers would be in a position of making the projects really affordable in its true sense,” Poddar Housing and Development Managing Director Rohit Poddar said.

The industry is also expecting certain tax sops to homebuyers like increasing the Rs 2 lakh tax deduction limit for housing loans, and tax incentives for first-time home buyers hiked from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh, Omkar Realtors Chief Financial Officer Manoj Paliwal and Transcon Triumph Vice President, Sales and Marketing Sarojini Ahuja said.

Credai National President Jaxay Shah said the developers’ apex body expects deep concessions in income tax of at least Rs 5 lakh per annum for home buyers.

The industry is also expecting reforms in land acquisition.

“Some allocations towards accessing of loans for acquisition of land parcels would be needed to act as an accelerant for growth of affordable housing,” Puravankara Managing Director Ashish Puravankara said.

Shree Krishna Group Managing Director Sundeep Jagasia said, “We expect that government will focus on the issue of land costs being high. Lowering the costs for land acquisition will boost many private players. If the government does so, there will be many new launches and quick delivery of projects by the private players.


Budget 2018: What Pranab, Chidambaram & Jaitley did & didn’t do in the past

Here are the key highlights of the Union Budgets from 1997 to 2017

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is all set to present Budget 2018 on February 1. While Budget expectations and Budget wishlist have started coming from all quarters and sectors, what the finance minister will announce in his Budget speech is known only to a select few members of the Budget-making team of the finance ministry.

There is a view that Jaitley would deliver a populist Budget this time, given that it is the last full Budget of the Narendra Modi-led central government in its present term. However, this has been a fiscally difficult year for the government, and prudent economics would not allow him to give freebies.

There have been reports that Jaitley might even consider increasing the personal income tax exemption limit to benefit the middle class salaried people, who have been impacted lately by rising retail inflaion.

Business Standard takes a look at the past Budgets and the key highlights that took the centre stage and became a talking point.

Budget 1997-98

The Finance Minister P Chidambaram, announced lower Income Tax rates of 10, 20 and 30 per cent as against the then 15, 30 and 40 per cent. The rate was 10 per cent in the first slab of Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000, 20 per cent in the slab of Rs 60,000 to Rs 150,000 and 30 per cent for all incomes above Rs 150,000. Presenting the Second Budget of the United Front Government in the Lok Sabha today, the Finance Minister announced his intention to widen the tax net by amending the Income Tax Act. Under the new proposal residents of large metropolitan cities who satisfy certain economic criteria should voluntarily file the tax return as they would normally fall within the taxable slabs. P Chidambaram also introduced a new tax scheme for retailers having a total turnover of less than Rs 40 lakhs. The income will be estimated at 5 per cent of the total turnover. A Voluntary Disclosure Scheme to harness ‘black money’ for productive purposes was also announced. (more)


Simple Mistakes that Prevent Weight Loss

Mentioned below is overview of some common mistakes that prevent one from losing excess weight.

Losing weight can sometimes be a frustrating affair. One may believe that he or she has done what is required to lose weight yet the scale displays the same weight for weeks. Do not panic, there is always an explanation and also a solution. Mentioned below is overview of some common mistakes that prevent one from losing excess weight.

Not enough sleep – Most people do not sleep the recommended 7 to 8 hours required for an adult. Lack of sleep makes one fat; it is a proven fact now. Observational studies have shown that people who do not sleep enough especially less than 6 hours per 24 hours have a higher body mass index. It is also now known that disruptive sleep effects the production of hormones that regulate hunger and satiety. Also individuals who sleep less secrete less leptin that calms hunger and lot of ghrelin that opens the appetite. As a result a person who doesn’t get enough sleep will eat too much, way beyond their energy needs.

Stress Management – Chronic stress is harmful for health and can promote weight gain. Stress hormones including cortisol promote the storage of fat. In today’s time stress is commonplace with hectic professional lives, various conflicts and health concerns. To overcome this problem one can use various simple techniques to calm down such as listening to music, taking a shower, spending time with loved ones, practice yoga and breathing exercises and much more.

Composition of Microbiota – Unique for every individual, the intestinal microbiota refers to all the microorganisms present in the digestive tract. Recent scientific studies have shed light on the composition and the link between unbalanced or undiversified microbiota and obesity. Trying to diversify one’s microbiota is also a way to lose weight and keep oneself healthy. For that, eat a varied and a high-fiber diet. Include servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, pulses and nuts, oatmeal and food items rich in probiotics such as yogurts, fermented milks and supplements.

Calorie intake through liquids – Most people who wish to lose weight and diet are conscious about what they eat but often ignore what they drink. Calories gained through liquid intake are just as potent as calories that one gets from food. If one eats a pastry then one may feel satisfied and will have less appetite in the hours that follow. But, if someone drinks a glass of wine or soda then he or she won’t feel any different in terms of satiety and will eat just as much as he or she normally does. (more)


iPhones and children are a toxic pair, say two big apple investors

A leading activist investor and a pension fund are saying the smartphone maker needs to respond to what some see as a growing public-health crisis of youth phone addiction

Two activist shareholders want Apple to develop tools and research effects on young people of smartphone overuse and addiction

The iPhone has made Apple Inc. AAPL 1.14% and Wall Street hundreds of billions of dollars. Now some big shareholders are asking at what cost, in an unusual campaign to make the company more socially responsible.

A leading activist investor and a pension fund are saying the smartphone maker needs to respond to what some see as a growing public-health crisis of youth phone addiction.

Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or Calstrs, which control about $2 billion of Apple shares, sent a letter to Apple on Saturday urging it to develop new software tools that would help parents control and limit phone use more easily and to study the impact of overuse on mental health.

The Apple push is a preamble to a new several-billion-dollar fund Jana is seeking to raise this year to target companies it believes can be better corporate citizens. It is the first instance of a big Wall Street activist seeking to profit from the kind of social-responsibility campaign typically associated with a small fringe of investors.

Adding splash, rock star Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, will be on an advisory board along with Sister Patricia A. Daly, a nun who successfully fought Exxon Mobil Corp. over environmental disclosures, and Robert Eccles, an expert on sustainable investing.

The Apple campaign would be unusual for an activist like Jana, which normally urges companies to make financial changes. But the investors believe that Apple’s highflying stock could be hurt in coming decades if it faces a backlash and that proactive moves could generate goodwill and keep consumers loyal to Apple brands.

“Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do,” the shareholders wrote in the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. (more)


Honor View10 review: A smartphone that aces the mid-tier flagship race

Priced Rs 29,999, the Honor View10, with the company’s latest Kirin 970 processor boasting a neural-processing unit for artificial intelligence wizardry, comes with 6GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage

Chinese smartphone maker Huawei unveiled the Mate 10-series, powered by its flagship artificial intelligence-based Kirin 970 system on chip, in its home country last year. Like the previous Mate-series devices, the Mate10-series phones were released in only a handful of markets – and the price-conscious Indian smartphone market was not one of them.

However, Huawei’s online sub-brand Honor has launched in India the View10, an affordable version designed on the footprints of the Mate 10-series, at Rs 29,999. The View10 is Honor’s third launch at this price – the Honor 8 and Honor 8 Pro were the previous two.

The Honor View10 features the company’s latest Kirin 970 processor, which boasts a neural-processing unit for artificial intelligence wizardry. The phone comes with 6GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage packed inside a sturdy metallic body reminiscent of the Honor 8 Pro. The key attraction of the device is its dual-camera set-up on the back and the futuristic 18:9 aspect ratio screen.

Business Standard reviewed the View10 to test the phone’s hardware and software prowess, besides the overall smartphone performance. Here are our observations:

Design and display

Despite a 5.99-inch screen, the View10 is narrower than the Honor 8 Pro, which had a 5.7-inch screen; in terms of height and thickness, it has retained the dimensions of the predecessor. The screen has been stretched to fit the 18:9 aspect ratio which leaves limited space for bezels. The screen resolution has been reduced from quadHD (1440 x 2560) in the Honor 8 Pro to fullHD+ (1080 x 2160) in the View10. That does affect the pixel counts of the otherwise capable display.

Talking of the overall design, the front is now dominated by the 18:9 aspect ratio screen and a fingerprint scanner embedded under the home key, which is placed on the limited bottom bezel space. While the front sees a major improvement and looks better, the back looks a tad bland, reminiscent of the Honor 8 Pro design. The protruding camera lenses, coupled with prominent antenna lines on top and bottom, temper the overall design theme.


Honor has a history of using dual-camera set-ups; it is among the first few smartphone manufacturers to introduce the concept in mobile phones. Besides, the company has a dedicated series of smartphones – the P-series – that boasts industry-first dual-camera set-up co-created in partnership with imaging experts ‘Leica’. (more)