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Demand for power in India surges higher, defying the growth slowdown

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Demand for power in India surges higher, defying the growth slowdown

Demand for electricity in India has suddenly seen a 7% growth despite the floundering economic expansion touching its lowest in six years. The demand appears to be inconsistent considering the current economic status of the nation. However, there seems to be a hidden cause, genuine enough to witness the surge.

Several industrialized states lowered their demand for power during the phase from April to July this year. The results can be tracked to the overall decrease in the Asian economy as businesses too lowered their demand for power.

However, a close observation pictures the overall increase in demand for power is probably due to the steep increase in the number of households in several states. If observed carefully, Uttar Pradesh, currently the most populous state in India, alone saw an increase in demand for power by a whopping 9%. Rajasthan surpassed Uttar Pradesh and increased its demand for electricity by a mammoth 11%. All this drastic increase in demand for power took place during the four-month period.

However, states considered important automotive hubs and manufacturing centres decreased their demand for electricity. Tamil Nadu witnessed a slight increase in demand by 2.7% while Maharashtra soared by only 1.4%.

A weak 2.9% increase took place in Haryana while Gujarat demanded only 5.3%. This is much lower compared to the figures last year like 7.5% and 8.8% respectively.

The automotive industry in the nation was the worst hit by the decline in demand for power. Several automakers had to forcefully cut down their manpower and shut plants for a temporary period of time to manage their inventories. The dire effect was the direct consequences of an extended slowdown in domestic consumption. India witnessed a deep slump in car sales in July 2019, the worst ever collapse in the last two decades.

A recent expansion of GDP by 5%, the slowest since March 2013 did not help the cause and only made matters worse. The chief economic adviser in the finance ministry, Krishnamurthy Subramanian stressed the importance to focus on power demand growth if the Indian economy needs to scale to a healthy position in the near future. The increase in GDP indicates some positive signal aiming for a higher growth rate soon.

One way to combat the situation and revive the Indian Economy and electricity distributors is to increase the demand for power from factories and commercial firms. It can surely create a sea of difference to the economy since factories and commercial firms sum up to nearly half the consumption of power who also have the capacity to pay more.

Apparently, their positive act can also help subsidize poor households and farmers who depend on electricity for their livelihood. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to supply power to every home can only bear fruit when businesses purchase more electricity.

The decrease in the consumption of diesel, powering performance in several industries, clearly indicates the decrease for power in factories. Diesel consumption rose by only 2.4% in the four-month period, as reported by the nation’s Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell.

All the above factors, particularly a collapse in automobile sales and the delay in operations in new private sector projects have greatly contributed to the slump in demand and consumption for diesel in what is considered the world’s fastest-growing fuel market.

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears 1

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker said on Monday, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the bill into law.

Australia and the tech giants have been in a stand-off over the legislation widely seen as setting a global precedent.

Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed interest in taking some sort of similar action.

Facebook has protested the laws. Last week it blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts, in a jolt to the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the titans of the technological revolution.

Talks between Australia and Facebook over the weekend yielded no breakthrough.

As Australia’s senate began debating the legislation, the country’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments.

“The bill as it stands … meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio.

The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way”.

The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licencing fees if private negotiations fail.

While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google last week inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

“There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has,” Birmingham added.

A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the legislation, which passed the lower house last week and has majority support in the Senate.

A final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google and other online platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Under the voluntary code, they commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or “bots”, disseminating content; informing users of the origins of content; and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Colin Packham; Editing by Sam Holmes and Hugh Lawson)

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback 2

By Pushkala Aripaka and Matthias Blamont

(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Monday said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, reviving their efforts against the pandemic after a setback in December delayed the shot’s launch.

The British and French drugmakers aim to reach final testing in the second quarter, and if the results are conclusive, hope to see the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year.

In December, the two groups stunned investors when they said their vaccine would be delayed towards the end of 2021 after clinical trials showed an insufficient immune response in older people.

Disappointing results were probably caused by an inadequate concentration of the antigen used in the vaccine, Sanofi and GSK said, adding that Sanofi has also started work against new coronavirus variants to help plan their next steps.

Global coronavirus infections have exceeded 110 million as highly transmissible variants of the virus are prompting vaccine developers and governments to tweak their testing and immunisation strategies.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.

“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

The new mid-stage trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine in 720 healthy adults across the United States, Honduras and Panama and test two injections given 21 days apart.

Sanofi and GSK have secured deals to supply their vaccine to the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States. It also plans to provide shots to the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme.

To appease critics after the delay, Sanofi said earlier this year it had agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from July.

Sanofi is also working with Translate Bio on another COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on mRNA technology.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Matthias Blamont in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis)

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Don’t ignore “lockdown fatigue”, UK watchdog tells finance bosses

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Don't ignore "lockdown fatigue", UK watchdog tells finance bosses 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists.

“During this third lockdown, there has been a greater impact on mental well-being, with many people struggling with job security, caring responsibilities, home schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue.”

Bosses should continually revisit how they lead remote teams, he said.

“The impact of COVID-19 is creating a huge workload for those considered to be high performers, while the remote environment potentially makes it much more challenging for those who were previously considered low performers to change that perception,” Blunt told a City & Financial online event.

Companies should consider “psychological safety” or ensuring that all employees feel confident about speaking out and challenging opinions.

“We’ve heard varying reports of how successful this has been,” Blunt said.

Pressures in the financial sector were highlighted this month when accountants KPMG said its UK chairman Bill Michael had stepped aside during a probe into comments he made to staff.

The Financial Times said Michael, who later apologised for his comments, had told staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of the pandemic on their work lives.

Blunt was speaking as the FCA next month completes the full rollout of rules that force senior managers at financial firms to be personally accountable for their decisions to improve conduct standards.

There have only been a “modest” number of breaches reported to regulators so far as firms worry about being “tainted” but more cases will become public as sanctions are revealed, Blunt said.

“Regulators won’t be impressed by lowballing the figures.”

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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