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Indian GDP Growth Slashed To Frightening 2.5%; RBI Steps In To Save The Economy

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) although a tad late finally joined the Government’s initiative to rescue Indian economy from the Covid-19 pandemic with a big bang of financial measures. 

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After Standard & Poors and Moody’s Investors Service recently downgraded India’s growth forecast for 2020 to 2.5 per cent from 5.3 per cent, citing the adverse impact of the novel coronavirus on the country’s economy, the RBI on Friday lowered the key repo rate by 75 basis points (bps) to 4.4 per cent, following in the footsteps of global central banks, to help arrest the economic slowdown in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moody’s said that at the 2020 estimated growth rate, a sharp fall in incomes in India is likely, further weighing on domestic demand and the pace of recovery in 2021.

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The reverse repo rate is now 4%, down 90 basis points. The benchmark repurchase rate was decreased by 75 basis points to 4.40% from 5.15%, Governor Shaktikanta Das said Friday after an emergency meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee.  

Repo rate is the rate at which a country’s central bank lends money to commercial banks, and reverse repo rate is the rate at which it borrows from them. Four out of the six members of the Monetary Policy Committee voted in favour of the move.

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The RBI also reduced Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), the amount of deposits commercial banks must set aside as reserves in cash or as deposits with RBI, by 100 basis points to 3% to boost liquidity.

Das further said that it would be unproductive for banks to park money with the RBI. They will have to give it to the people, he further added. Tough times do not last. Only tough people and tough institutions do, he also said.

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RBI also announced that banks are permitted to allow a three-month moratorium for on payment of EMIs on all term loans that were outstanding on March 1. However, this means that the final decision to provide such a relief is in the hands of the banks.

Apart from reducing key rates, the RBI also announced a slew of liquidity measures related to TLTRO, CRR and MLCR to ease mounting pressure. “It has been decided to reduce the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of all banks by 100 basis points to 3% of Net Demand and Time Liabilities with effect from the fortnight beginning March 28 for a period of 1 year,” the RBI governor announced.

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RBI’ decision to reduce repo rate and reverse repo rate comes in the wake of similar decisions by other central banks that have to take important fiscal measures to fight coronavirus.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBA) slashed interest rates by 75 basis points. The Reserve Bank of Australia injected $3.6 billion in liquidity into Australia’s financial system and said it was prepared to buy government bonds. In South Korea, the central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points.

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Indian PM imposed a 21 days nationwide lockdown in India, the most far-reaching measure undertaken by any government to check the virus’s spread. On Thursday Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a 1.76 lakh crore package under a new scheme called the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Yojana.

The package was announced to address the immediate distress in the wake of the lockdown announced by the government to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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The government under this scheme aims at distributing 5 kilograms of rice or rice for each person free of cost. The government also said that it would distribute one kilogram of pulses to every low-income family over the next three months. The finance minister also underlined plans for medical insurance of Rs 50 lakh for every front line health worker that would include doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Economy

MBA vs PGDM: Why MBA Degree Is Better Than AICTE PGDM?

MBA vs PGDM: Experts from PGDM Colleges call MBA programs Outdated, while MBA colleges call PGDM program a mere Diploma. An MDI Gurgaon Alumni explains why MBA is Better than a PGDM.

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MBA vs PGDM is an ongoing debate, but what is the difference between MBA and PGDM and which is a better program between the two remains a big question for aspiring management students.

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Students aspiring to get into Top Business School are searching for the best pathway to achieve their goals. As the entrance season advances, the dilemma for the management aspirants continues – MBA vs PGDM and which Business School to opt for?

EurAsian Times analyses the difference between the two programs and analyses why an MBA Degree could have more advantages that a PGDM Program.

The confusion to select a PGDM or MBA course reaches the peak when the students start visiting the colleges for counselling and GD/PI sessions. All business schools boast about their Excellent Placements Record, Faculty from the IIM’s and IIT’s, International Exposure, etc leaving the management aspirant in a total state of confusion.

What adds to the confusion level are the Education Consultants who further confuse the students for their petty monetary gains. At some point in time, students get so frustrated that they stop taking all the calls for admissions. EurAsian Times crisply attempts to explain the difference between MBA and PGDM.

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MBA vs PGDM: What’s the Difference?

Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) is a degree course provided by the University or colleges recognized by the Universities which are approved by University Grants Commission (UGC), and sometimes also by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) is also a Masters’s degree program, offered by the autonomous institute or colleges, that have received their approvals from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

Some of the top business schools like IIM’s and ISB’s offer PGDM / PGPM program (and strangely they are not approved by the AICTE) as they do not have collaboration with any University. But these B-Schools have an outstanding placement record and great international reputation and do not bother about AICTE approvals. Neither do the organizations show any concern or preference.

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Colleges offering the MBA program follow the academic syllabus provided by Universities (which usually cannot be easily modified or changed) while PGDM syllabus is flexible and institutes like IMT, MDI, XLRI, IIFT, SP Jain, NMIMS have the flexibility to modify their course within the AICTE approved parameters giving them a tremendous advantage.

Which Program is Better – MBA or PGDM?

MBA vs PGDM is an unending debate and honestly, a lot depends on which University or College a student is getting (based on entrance exam score like CAT / XAT / MAT etc) rather than the program itself i.e. MBA or PGDM. The PGDM program claims to follow a more practical approach to studies, compared to the MBA (which is not always true).

MBA from top institutions like FMS, IIT, DTU are equally acceptable and sought after in the market. The major difference between MBA and PGDM is that MBA course fee is usually less than the PGDM program, as PGDM comes with a variety of industrial trips, international exposure programs, besides being a revenue generation model for the institutions. (A PGDM Program at the IIM’s could cost up to 28 Lacs, whereas MBA from FMS-Delhi University would only cost about 2 Lacs).

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Corporates recognize talent from both the programs and are more interested in better brands and students, and don’t really care about MBA or PGDM. Students have an apprehension that after PGDM, they would not be able to pursue higher studies like PhD but if a PGDM is AIU approved, students will be eligible for PhD programs as well.

However, be assured that having a PGDM Degree instead of MBA degree will not make any difference to your corporate career in India, as at the end, it is the student who matters!.

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The students need to be very clear about their choice of the PGDM or MBA program and institute they are opting for. Students must evaluate the brand of business school, as a business school with higher brand value will provide a good learning environment and a large network of alumni.

MBA vs PGDM: Which is Finally Better?

Both the programs i.e. MBA and PGDM are good and very similar. What matters most is the business school you are getting, based on your score. Which Business School would you choose – MBA from FMS-Delhi University or PGDM from IIM-Lucknow?

Better ROI: If I had to make a choice, I would certainly choose FMS-DU as the fee is drastically less than IIM-Lucknow and return on investment is much much faster. However, there is a dearth of top-notch Universities providing MBA Programs, and students have no option but to opt for expensive PGDM programs.

Government Jobs in India: Besides the corporate sector, many government organizations still, unfortunately, do not recognize the PGDM Diploma and Government Jobs is one area where MBA Degree holders will have an edge over others.

International Jobs: If you ever opt for immigration or overseas opportunities, chances are your PGDM will either not be recognized or valued as high as an MBA Degree. Even the IIM’s have been striving to provide MBA programs rather than Diplomas and once that happens, the PGDM programs will lose the sheen and colleges would lose massive business.

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Key Differences Between MBA and PGDM

Parameter
MBA from Govt. University
MBA from Private University
Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs)
Private PGDM Colleges
Programme offered
Masters of Business Administration
Masters of Business Administration
Post Graduate Programme in Management(PGP)
Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM)
Award
Degree
Degree
Diploma
Diploma
Number of programme offering institutes
2000+
500
20
500
Top Institutes/colleges
FMS – Delhi University; IIFT Delhi-Deemed University; JBIMS – Mumbai University; PUMBA-Pune University
Affiliated colleges of Govt Universities like Anna University, Bangalore University etc.
Top Private Universities are NMIMS-Mumbai; Symbiosis –Pune; XIM-XUB Bhubaneswar.
More than 100 Private Universities offer MBA
IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore, IIM Kozhikode and other 14 new and newest IIMs
XLRI, SPJIMR, MDI, IMI, IMT, TAPMI, KJ Somaiya, BIMTECH, …
Degree/Diploma recognized/approved by
University Grants Commission (UGC)
University Grants Commission (UGC)
Recognized by Ministry of HRD
All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
Curriculum
Rigid, because approvals required from University
The curriculum at most Government Universities and Colleges is theoretical, and not frequently updated.
The curriculum at good Private Universities like NMIMS and Symbiosis is at Par with IIMs, top PGDM B-schools.
Flexible and Frequently Updated.
Focus on Industry needs and job requirements as Placement is key student expectation.
Flexible and Frequently Updated.
Focus on Industry needs and job requirements as Placement is key student expectation.
Programme suitable for
MBA offered by Government Universities is more suitable for candidates interested in earning a Degree for higher studies, academic career.
MBA offered by top Private Universities is good for both corporate career and academics.
Students focus on enhancing their employability skills for a better corporate career, job or starting their own enterprise.
Students focus on enhancing their employability skills for a better corporate career, job or starting their own enterprise.
Fee
Fee at Government University/Colleges is low. FMS Delhi fee is just Rs 25,000 for the full MBA course.
Bangalore University prescribes 2-year fee of fewer than 200,000 lakhs.
Private University MBA fee is at par with IIMs, PGDM B-schools based on their market acceptance.
NMIMS Mumbai fee is Rs. 17.44 lakhs; SIBM Pune fee is Rs. 18.25 lakhs
IIMs have a comparatively higher fee structure.
IIM Ahmedabad fee is Rs.21 lakhs, IIM Bangalore fee is Rs.19.5 lakhs, IIM Calcutta fee is Rs.19 lakhs.
Top PGDM B-schools charge between Rs 10 lakhs to Rs20 lakhs for 2 year MBA.
SPJIMR fee is Rs. 16 lakhs, MDI Gurgaon fee is Rs.18.89 lakhs, IMI New Delhi fee is Rs. 15.41 lakhs
Fee for many good PGDM B-schools is between Rs. 5-10 lakhs also.
Programme duration
Two years
Two years
Two years
Two years
Exam conducted by
University
University
By the Individual IIM
By individual College/
Institute
Admission Process & Entrance Test
Some Govt. Central Universities and their colleges accept National level entrance tests like CAT/XAT and/or also conduct their own entrance tests.
Most Government colleges governed by State Governments, admit thru state level examination like MAHCET, PGCET, TANCET, although these colleges.
Top Private Universities conduct their own exams like NMAT, SNAP, X-GMT
Common Admission Test (CAT) conducted by IIMs, is the mandatory entrance exam for Indian residents
B-schools can choose from one or many of 6 approved exams: CAT, XAT, CMAT, MAT, GMAT, ATMA

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Asia Pacific

Why China’s $200 Billion ‘Gamble’ On Africa Has Failed Miserably?

China’s investments in Africa encompasses critical areas like utilities, telecommunications, port construction, transportation etc. China’s investment perspective on Africa is quite clear – Beijing views the continent as an untapped treasure with an enormous abundance of natural resources. 

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China’s investment and its economic activities & ambitions in Africa are no secret. Analysts have often stated that in order to attain power over the vast unexploited natural resources of Africa, China has been practising ‘economic colonialism’ via loans and investments. 

By luring non-suspecting, poor nations of Africa into ‘debt traps’, Beijing has made multiple attempts to build-up command and influence in the continent.

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However, in the present circumstances of global economic meltdown where the prices of oil, copper and other minerals have plunged down, the Chinese ambitions have taken a severe blow.

On one hand, the coronavirus has already dented the Chinese economy as the economic output of the communist nation has fallen by about 6.8% in the first quarter. On the other hand, Beijing is under tremendous pressure to pardon tens of billions of dollars of loans that it had offered to the African nations since the early 2000s.

Furthermore, the mistreatment of African residents in China during the COVID-19 outbreak has added fuel to fire and raised diplomatic tensions with Beijing.

The trillion-dollar deal Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure program, the magnum opus project of China’s economic engagement with Africa, now stands on thin ground.

Additionally, the absence of references in the communique of the recent Politburo meeting of the Chinese Communist Party to BRI indicates at the uncertainty of Beijing to have enough resources to fund the BRI in the future.

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China’s Investment in Africa

China’s perspective on Africa is quite clear – Beijing views the continent as an untapped treasure with an enormous abundance of natural resources.  The quick growth of China in various sectors in the 1990s had demanded a huge need for oil and subsoil minerals, and Africa appeared to be an apt bearer of the needful.

Easily outbidding the giant multinationals to gain equity stakes in mines and oil fields, Beijing laid out cunning plans to seize all-important raw materials of the continent. Gradually, China became the most active non-traditional lender in Africa.

According to the China Africa Research Initiative, Beijing lent $152 billion to forty-nine African nations from 2000-18. According to the World Bank calculations, the value of Chinese loans to sub-Saharan African nations was $64 billion as of 2017.

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Along with the credits, China, mainly through its state-owned enterprises has eyes fixed on direct investments as well. According to official data, the Chinese FDI in Africa rose from $7.8 billion to $46 billion between 2008 -18.

The Chinese government may seem to have got its investments’ worth. Commodity trade between China and Africa almost doubles from $107 billion to $204 billion in 2018, based on data provided by Beijing.

Regardless of all these major developments, critics often question if China could have increased its trade to Africa, with better trade procedures which did not involve committing a whopping $200 billion in bilateral loans and FDIs.

China’s whole idea was to have direct control of the African resources that it has been eyeing at since decades, for which Beijing ended-up shelving more money than the open market rates.

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Once Beijing increased the credit or made the direct investments in mines, or oil fields, it was at the mercy of the beneficiaries – Africa’s national governments and political bosses. China would be powerless to block the nationalization of its investments or defaults on its loans.

If supply interruption happens due to conflict in Africa or along China’s long sea lines of communication, the so-called benefit of direct control will be ineffective because for now, Beijing lacks the military muscle to defend its mines and other investments in Africa.

China’s venture in Africa also bombed due to wrong investments at the wrong timings.  Its venture in Africa concurred with the zenith of the most recent commodity supercycle, inflating costs of raw materials, this time is driven by Chinese demand. As a result, Chinese firms paid a high price for assets that lost a massive value after the downfall in the commodity prices.

Now with COVID-19 pandemic which is set to ravage Africa’s brittle economy, Beijing requires a realistic exit strategy. China must come to terms with the fact that it may never recover most of its investments or loans because of the global pandemic. The smartest way forward would be to write off its loans on compassionate gesture and win the hearts of the people.

OpEd By Minxin Pei. Edited By Vipasha Kaushal.

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Asia Pacific

India Contemplates On Joining The World’s Biggest Trade Pact After The WTO

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India which had earlier withdrawn from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade talks is now mulling to rejoin the negotiations after it received a fresh proposal from the RCEP members, according to reports.

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RCEP is a mega free trade agreement among 10 ASEAN members apart from India, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand and if inked would be become the biggest trade pact after the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The fresh letter sent by RCEP members following a meeting of the RCEP Trade Negotiations Committee on April 20-24 may indicate accommodation of some of India’s key conditions and finalization of the free trade talks by 2020-end.

An official privy to the matter confirmed that India’s Commerce Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs were deliberating on the path of action after the country received a formal letter from the RCEP asking it to rejoin the negotiations.

The RCEP could become one of the biggest free-trade blocks in the world if India joins, accounting for 39 per cent of global GDP, 30 per cent of global trade and 45 per cent of the total population.
Pros and cons of RCEP.

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India has a trade deficit with 11 out of the 15 RCEP countries and economic experts believe that New Delhi pulled out of the agreement because RCEP might have further widened India’s adverse trade balance.

As per the latest data provided by DGCIS, India has a trade deficit of USD 53.57 billion with China, which is half of the total USD 105 billion trade deficit with the rest of the RCEP countries.

The trade deficit was widened after China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 and Indian Government believes a new wave of liberalization under RCEP would further reduce tariff lines across a higher number of products, which in turn would worsen this large trade deficit.

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Also, after India signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Japan in 2011, which called for lowering of tariffs on almost all of the goods traded between the two countries, the imports from Japan increased at a faster pace than exports from India.

A similar trade deal with South Korea in 2010, which called for a reduction on taxes on the goods traded between the two countries, resulted in widening India’s trade deficit. India, which was the sixteenth member of the RCEP, quit talks in November 2019, following a failure to reach consensus on the degree of market access to be granted by New Delhi and on the elimination of duties on the total number of traded products.

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The present form of the RCEP Agreement does not fully reflect the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles of RCEP,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had then stated in his address at the RCEP summit in Bangkok, according to a tweet by official broadcaster Prasar Bharati.

“It also does not address satisfactorily India’s outstanding issues and concerns. In such a situation, it is not possible for India to join the RCEP Agreement.” “When I measure the RCEP Agreement with respect to the interests of all Indians, I do not get a positive answer,” Modi had said. “Therefore, neither the talisman of Gandhiji nor my own conscience permits me to join RCEP.”

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