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Indians making most from longest gold price slump

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New Delhi/Mumbai/Kolkata/Bengaluru, Even as gold may be losing its sheen in the global market, logging its longest weekly loss in terms of prices since 1999, the yellow metal still seems to be in favour across India with low prices luring people to buy, stakeholders maintain.

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If the footfalls at the India International Jewelry Show in Mumbai that concluded on Aug 11 is any indication, some brisk buying in gold has been reported. While the metal may no longer be an investment option, its lure has still not faded away from people’s psyche, experts added.

“If prices stabilize at these levels, we expect gold sales will be good during the Diwali season. People are not buying gold bars and coins as an investment option,” said Premjit Sengupta, chief marketing officer of Senco Gold in Kolkata. But demand for jewelry was good, he added.

From a peak of $1,900 per ounce in September 2011, spot gold prices dipped to a new five-year low of $1,086 in global markets past week, breaching the $1,100 barrier on signs of a recovery in the US economy, a fall in unemployment there and stock and debt marketing offering better returns.

This has resulted in the gold import bill for India, among the top three consumers of gold in the world, going down but demand remained robust. According to the World Gold Council, the demand in India in 2015 is expected at around 900-1,000 tonnes, against 891.5 tonnes in 2014.

Rajesh Khosla, managing director of MMTC-PAMP India, a gold and silver refining and minting joint venture between India’s state-run metals major and a reputed Swiss bullion brand, gold imports in fiscal 2015-16 could fall as much as 18 percent to $28 billion or so.

“With the price of gold decreasing from $1,250 to $1,100 per ounce in the past six months, import bill has decreased substantially. Thereby it has reduced stress on the current account deficit,” said Rajosik Banerjee, partner with KPMG in India,

“This will give more flexibility to the Reserve Bank of India to handle interest rates. Further, this price scenario may also lead to some realignment of portfolios,” he added.

Drawing comfort from the footfalls at the Mumbai exhibition, Pankaj Parekh, former vice-chairman, Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, “We are experiencing phenomenal sales throughout the country.”

He said the situation was only going to improve in the coming months, as the festive season will be in full swing and people waiting for prices to fall more will take some decisions. “Globally, people have stopped buying. But in India they are waiting for prices to come within range.”

Sengupta sought to explain the reason why the past week has seen a slight slump in sales. “This is only normal, given how gold prices are reacting to market forces,” he said, adding since the interest is in jewelry, and not bars or coins, people are waiting for the festive season.

Little wonder Khosla estimates India’s gold imports in July at 70-75 million tonnes, as against 57 tonnes in June. “Jewelers have started stocking up for the festive season.”

(IANS)

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India Aborts Launch of Spacecraft Intended to Land on Far Side of Moon

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher

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India, Spacecraft, Moon
A spectator holds an Indian flag after a mission of Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-2, with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle on board was called back because of a technical snag in Sriharikota, India, July 15, 2019. VOA

India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-story rocket launcher, Indian Space Research Organization spokesman B.R. Guruprasad said.

The countdown abruptly stopped at T-56 minutes, 24 seconds, and Guruprasad said that the agency would announce a revised launch date soon.

Chandrayaan, the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit, is designed for a soft landing on the lunar south pole and to send a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.

India, Spacecraft, Moon
FILE – Indian space scientist and Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization Kailasavadivoo Sivan speaks during a press conference at the ISRO headquarters Antariksh Bhavan, in Bangalore, June 12, 2019. VOA

With nuclear-armed India poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, the ardently nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to show off the country’s prowess in security and technology. If India did manage the soft landing, it would be only the fourth to do so after the U.S., Russia and China.

Dr. K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, said at a news conference last week that the estimated $140 million Chandrayaan-2 mission was the nation’s “most prestigious” to date, in part because of the technical complexities of soft landing on the lunar surface, an event he described as “15 terrifying minutes.”

After countdown commenced Sunday, Sivan visited two Hindu shrines to pray for the mission’s success.

Criticized program pays off

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Practically since its inception in 1962, India’s space program has been criticized as inappropriate for an overpopulated, developing nation.

But decades of space research have allowed India to develop satellite communications and remote sensing technologies that are helping solve everyday problems at home, from forecasting fish migration to predicting storms and floods.

With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this month, the world’s biggest space agencies are returning their gaze to the moon, seen as ideal testing grounds for technologies required for deep space exploration, and, with the confirmed discovery of water, as a possible pit stop along the way.

“The moon is sort of our backyard for training to go to Mars,” said Adam Steltzner, NASA’s chief engineer responsible for its 2020 mission to Mars.

India, Spacecraft, Moon
India aborted the launch Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far side of the moon less than an hour before liftoff. Pixabay

Seeking water on the moon

Because of repeated delays, India missed the chance to achieve the first soft landing near the lunar south pole. China’s Chang’e 4 mission landed a lander and rover there last January.

India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission orbited the moon in 2008 and helped confirm the presence of water. The Indian Space Research Organization wants its new mission’s rover to further probe the far side of the moon, where scientists believe a basin contains water-ice that could help humans do more than plant flags on future manned missions.

The U.S. is working to send a manned spacecraft to the moon’s south pole by 2024.

Also Read- Around 53% People Interested in Travelling to Space: Survey

Modi has set a deadline of 2022 for India’s first manned spaceflight. (VOA)