The capacity of IITs will be enhanced by over six lakh and more than 5000 new ITIs will be created. At the First Meeting of Governing Council of National Skill Development Mission, attended by three Chief Ministers and a number of union ministers, Modi stressed the need for proper skill mapping and identification of the future requirements for skills.

PM Modi to launch a National Agriculture Market portal on Thursday, to enable 21 mandis, across 8 states, attempt e-trading on a pilot basis. The chosen mandis will be able to connect with other mandis within the same state, but not at a national level at the moment. The 12 states that are part of the pilot programme are Gujarat, Telangana, UP, Jharkhand, MP, Rajasthan, Haryana and HP. The government has listed 25 commodities, including wheat, maize, chana, jowar, bajra, potato and cotton to be traded with NAM.

For this, a financial assistance of up to Rs.1.30 lakh will be provided to each homeless family. Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said a total of 2.95 Cr houses are needed to be constructed as per the last Census and the target will be achieved by 2022. Every poor family living in plains will get Rs.1.20 lakh and those living in “hilly and difficult” areas will receive an assistance of Rs.1.30 lakh under the “Housing for All” scheme, the minister said.

Cisco Systems will invest over $100 Mn in India to support the country’s ambitious plan to connect thousands of its villages to the internet and create jobs, Executive Chairman John Chambers said on Friday. PM Modi has launched a series of initiatives under the ‘Digital India,’ ‘Skill India,’ and ‘Startup India’ schemes to connect millions of Indians to the Internet, create more tech jobs and move more services online. Cisco will invest $40 Mn of the total planned investment into funding early and mid-stage startups.

Narendra Modi has asked FM Arun Jaitley to reconsider the proposed amendments in the EPF withdrawal will be taxed. The matter has been making headlines since FM Jaitley proposed 60% tax on EPF withdrawal. Trade unions and salaried employees have vehemently opposed the proposal which would reduce their retirement savings. The industry had suggested that if 60% of corpus under recognised Provident Fund is not invested in the annuity products, the tax should be levied only on accumulated returns on the corpus and not on the contributed amount.

RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said that the central bank will be creating a framework “receiving foreign venture capital, differing contractual structures embedded in investment instruments, deferring receipt of considerations for transfer of ownership, facilities for escrow arrangements and simplification of documentation and reporting procedures.” The RBI said that it would be take steps for the conducive growth of startups in India in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Start-up initiative during the latest bi-monthly monetary policy statement.

Indian Oil Corporation’s latest refinery started production of petrol from the Rs 34,555-crore facility. PM Modi will dedicate the 15 MMTPA Paradip Refinery, which will primarily be producing BS-IV fuels and serving the eastern and southeastern markets apart from exports, to the nation on February 7. Due to the high-end technology being deployed, the company expects the refinery to offer very high margins to the tune of $6-7 a barrel over the average refining margin $10-12 earned by IOCBSE -2.01 % at present.

PM Modi rolled out the red carpet for Indian startups, promising them tax breaks, simplified procedures and freedom from inspector raj. The PM also said the government would have a Rs 10,000 crore fund for startups, financed by annual contributions of Rs 2,500 crore for four years and another Rs 2,000-crore credit guarantee fund for the sector. Startups would get a role in government procurements, get a 80% cut in patent registration fees and the government would also have an exit policy for startups to get out of failed businesses.

With the intention to encourage funding by Indian investors, Government has decided to scrap tax on seed funding provided to startups by Indian angel investors in the upcoming Union Budget. The tax provision treats infusion of seed money as income and incidentally, India is only country in the world to have such a system. This tax is taken only from domestic investors and takes away 30% of the investment from the startups. Startup India Action Plan will be unveiled by Narendra Modi on Saturday.

Reliance Defence said on Thursday it had signed a manufacturing and maintenance deal potentially worth $6 billion with Russia’s Almaz-Antey, the maker of an air defence system that sources said the Indian military was poised to buy. Earlier this week, Indian defence ministry sources said the government had cleared the purchase of five S-400 air defence systems that are estimated to cost about $4.5 billion in a bid to modernise the country’s defences against airborne attacks.