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Artificial Intelligence could add $450-$500 billion to GDP by 2025: Nasscom

“Source:- Economic Times”
Pune: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data could add $450-$500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, industry body Nasscom said in a report.

According to the ‘Unlock Value from Data and AI: The Indian Opportunity’ report, this could in turn aid India’s economic growth and recovery.

Nasscom’s action plan recommends focusing on five key areas — strategy, data, technology stack, talent and execution.

According to the report, if India acts quickly, it can become a leader in building a holistic data utilization and AI effort, especially as countries emerge from the pandemic and global economic slowdown.

The action plan and report has been reviewed by industry leaders including N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons; Rishad Premji, Chairman, Wipro; UB Pravin Rao, Chairman, Nasscom and Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India.

The recommendations were also presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it said.

“Digital India has reimagined how our government connects with citizens and accelerated deployment of AI and other emerging technologies will help further this objective. In order to harness its full potential, India needs to embrace AI innovation and regulation with an open, inclusive…and a collaborative mindset,” said Minister of Law and Justice, Communications, Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the virtual launch of the report, Wipro chairman Rishad Premji said it was important to have a comprehensive view of what India can drive.

“How do we ensure we move beyond from pilots to scalability. We do a great job in starting ideas off and getting them into pilot mode, but how do we get real scale where the magic lies andidentify the challenges that lie in getting a pilot to scale,” said Premji.

Rao, echoing similar sentiments, said the country needs a razor-sharp focus on execution, given that there are opportunities to use AI in every sector.

The report suggests three key interventions to create a vibrant data economy in India.

This includes identifying datasets of national importance with each ministry with specific use cases, launching a program to create a marketplace of data and derived assets, and establishing a central agency for defining and enforcing data standards.

It recommends focusing on building a vibrant data economy by developing high quality datasets, data governance standards and data marketplace and strengthening capabilities which could position India as a global hub, enabling investment, jobs and innovation.

“India is at the inflection point of its digital journey… India has the potential to become a global hub for data and AI. The moment is now, to support and grow a vibrant AI ecosystem in India,” said Microsoft India President Anant Maheshwari.

of its digital journey… India has the potential to become a global hub for data and AI. The moment is now, to support and grow a vibrant AI ecosystem in India,” said Microsoft India President Anant Maheshwari.

“Data and AI’s true potential emerges from its ability to drive transformation across multiple sectors through a diverse range of applications. The report articulates the key structural steps that India needs to take to realise the value of this opportunity,” said Debjani Ghosh, President, Nasscom.

FPL Technologies secures $10 mn funding from Sequoia India, others

FPL Technologies on Tuesday said it has raised $10 million (about 74.6 crore) in funding from Sequoia India, Matrix Partners India and Hummingbird Ventures.

A number of angel investors also participated in the series A round, the company said in a statement.

The latest investment brings FPL Technologies’ total funding since launch to approximately $15 million, it added.

The funding will help the company rapidly scale up its engineering and product teams to develop and grow the issuance of ‘OneCard’ to more customers, it said.

The company has launched its mobile-first credit card, OneCard, that is built by FPL on a full-stack proprietary technology platform in India.

A VISA Signature metal credit card is issued in partnership with a banking partner.

OneCard is currently available across 12 cities in India, inclusive of Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Indore, Jaipur and Kolkata, the statement said, adding that plans for further geographic expansion are underway.

“We are absolutely convinced about the potential of the Indian credit card market on the back of massive growth of card acceptance, consumer adoption towards digital payments and availability of a large base of risk-scored customers in bureaus,” FPL Technologies co-founder and CEO Anurag Sinha said.

Ultratech to invest ₹1500 crore in capex in FY21: Kumar Mangalam Birla

India’s largest cement company Ultratech Cement Ltd will invest 1500 crore in capital expenditure this fiscal despite the constraints of an ongoing pandemic, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, said at the annual shareholder meeting today. With a slew of acquisitions made in the last two years, Ultratech’s global capacity is now 114.8 million tonnes per annum and is the is the only company to have a capacity of over 100 million tonnes in a single country, outside of China.

“The company has planned total capex cash outlay of 1,500 crore for a range of key initiatives,” Birla said. “These include installation of 66 MW of waste heat recovery systems (WHRS), 1.2 million tonnes per annum brownfield cement capacity addition in West Bengal and Bihar, pending work for phase 2 of the Bara grinding unit in Uttar Pradesh, coal block development in Madhya Pradesh, new Ready Mix Concrete plants and other plant upkeep capex. With these expansion plans, your company’s consolidated cement capacity will stand augmented to 118 million tons per annum and green power capacity will increase to 185 MW for Waste Heat Recovery Systems and over 350 MW for solar and wind power.”

Ultratech recorded net revenues of $ 5.94 billion (Rs. 42,125 crores) and operating profit of $1.40 billion (Rs. 9,930 crores) during 2019-2020.

The cement industry, after witnessing a healthy demand growth of ~ 13% in 2018-19, exhibited a decline in growth in FY20, Birla said. “Cement demand was sluggish during H1FY20 exacerbated by the general economic slowdown. The second half of the fiscal witnessed extended monsoons, low capital expenditure on infrastructure and road activities, along with financial stress in the NBFC and housing sectors. The improving demand situation since December 2019 could not be sustained, with the outbreak of covid-19.”

With the Indian economy expected to contract during FY21, Birla said he was confident that the economy will revert to the 6 to 8% growth trajectory in the next fiscal.

Amazon launches online pharmacy in India

“Source:- BBC”
Online retail giant Amazon has launched an internet pharmacy in India, marking its entry into the country’s online medicine market.

Amazon Pharmacy will make its debut in Bangalore and it may be trialled in other Indian cities.

The move comes as the online drugs business has been given a major boost during the coronavirus pandemic.

This year US technology giants have invested billions of dollars in the Indian economy.

  • Amazon trials online food delivery in India
  • Google latest US tech giant to invest in India’s Jio
  • Amazon’s Bezos announces $1bn Indian investment

The Amazon Pharmacy service offers prescription, over-the-counter and traditional Ayurveda medication as well as basic health devices.

“This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

Amazon started its move into pharmaceutical retailing in 2017. The following year it bought US-based home delivery medications startup PillPack.

At the end of last year, the company introduced its Amazon Pharmacy branding to PillPack’s service.

In January, Amazon filed to trademark the name Amazon Pharmacy in the UK, Australia and Canada.

The move was seen as a sign that the company was set to significantly expand its prescription drugs business outside of the US.

US tech billions

In recent months India has seen billions of dollars of investment by US technology giants.

Earlier this year, Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos pledged to make major investments in India.

Speaking at a company event in New Delhi in January, he said the 21st Century is “going to be the Indian century”.

Amazon has set ambitious plans for expansion in the world’s largest democracy, where it has invested some $6.5bn (£5bn). Like rival US retailer Walmart, it sees major growth potential in the fast-growing economy.

In May, Amazon entered India’s meal delivery business with a trial in four parts of Banglore.

Last month, Google became the latest big American player to invest in Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries’ digital business.

The Alphabet-owned search engine agreed to pay $4.5bn for a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms.

Reliance’s billionaire owner Mukesh Ambani said the two companies would develop phones for 4G and 5G networks.

Also in July, Google said it would invest about $10bn in India over the next five to seven year, joining a list of new investors in Jio that includes Facebook, Intel and Qualcomm.

Israel’s Coralogix to invest over $30 million in India in 5 years

“Source:- Livemint”
Israel-based Coralogix, provider of machine-learning based log analytics and monitoring solution, on Thursday announced a strategic expansion into India with a commitment to invest over $30 million in the next 5 years.

As part of its expansion plans, Coralogix will set up a new Amazon Web Services (AWS) Mumbai region to help companies with regional server support, data storage capabilities, and compliance with the upcoming security laws.

“By localizing data, Coralogix will help customers meet compliance requirements for India’s new data privacy laws and dramatically improve service performance,” the company said in a statement.

Coralogix is also rolling out an onsite team to provide sales and customer success support to India-based companies.

“With today’s strategic move, we are proactively addressing new Indian data privacy laws scheduled to take effect in 2021 by providing Coralogix customers with a solution well ahead of most of our competitors,” said Ariel Assaraf, CEO and cofounder, Coralogix. “When the new laws are enacted, we anticipate a profound sense of urgency for companies who fall under domestic compliance rules to store their data locally and avoid being penalized for non-compliance.”

Cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology companies that collect user data are expected to be affected by these new laws. Several regional brands operating within these industries have already signed on as Coralogix customers including Postman, Jupiter Money, BookMyShow and more.

India ranks first in number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming; Major organic exports from India are flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice and pulses

“Source:- IBEF”
The growth story of organic farming is unfolding with increasing demand not only in India but also globally. In a world battered by the COVID pandemic, the demand for healthy and safe food is already showing an upward trend and hence this is an opportune moment to be captured for a win-win situation for our farmers, consumers and the environment.

India ranks first in number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming. Sikkim became the first State in the world to become fully organic and other States including Tripura and Uttarakhand have set similar targets. North East India has traditionally been organic, and the consumption of chemicals is far less than rest of the country. Similarly, the tribal and island territories are being nurtured to continue their organic story.

With the aim of assisting farmers to adopt organic farming and improve remunerations due to premium prices, two dedicated programs namely Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD) and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) were launched in 2015 to encourage chemical free farming. With the simultaneous thrust given by the Agri-export Policy 2018, India can emerge as a major player in global organic markets. The major organic exports from India have been flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice, and pulses, which were instrumental in driving an increase of nearly 50 per cent in organic exports in 2018-19, touching Rs 5151 crore (US$ 730.74 million). Modest commencement of exports from Assam, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland to UK, USA, Swaziland, and Italy have proved the potential by increasing volumes and expanding to new destinations as the demand for health foods increases.

Certification is an important element of organic produce to instill customer confidence. Both PKVY and MOVCD are promoting certification under Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) respectively targeting domestic and exports markets. The Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 are based on the standards of NPOP and PGS. The consumer should look for the logos of FSSAI, Jaivik Bharat / PGS Organic India on the produce to establish the organic authenticity of the produce. PGS Green is given to chemical free produce under transition to ‘organic’ which takes 3 years.

About 40,000 clusters are being assisted under PKVY covering an area of about 7 lakh ha. MOVCD has brought in its fold 160 FPOs cultivating about 80,000 ha. For these clusters to become sustainable, it is important that henceforth market led production starts in a contract farming mode, so that there is a ready market for the produce and industry also gets the desired quality and quantity when required. This is being pursued in right earnest with bulk buyers including the phyto extracts industries. The commodities with highest potential include ginger, turmeric, black rice, spices, nutri cereals, pineapples, medicinal plants, buckwheat, bamboo shoots, etc. Supplies have started from NER including for Mother Dairy from Meghalaya, Revanta Foods and Big Basket from Manipur. Number of instances of farmer groups setting up markets in RWAs and selling directly is increasingly becoming common especially in Maharashtra and Karnataka where fresh organic produce is lapped up by the urbanites and farmers get a better bargain with no intermediaries. The presence of aggregators is imperative to bring about economies of scale for the small and marginal farmers. Hence the concept of market led One district – One product is being encouraged, as also development of more clusters in the vicinity of bigger towns where the appetite for organics will be much more.

When the pandemic struck India, access to quality food was as high on priority for the country as much as health. Advisories to States on supporting direct marketing in order to decongest mandis led to number of States issuing orders and amending legislations, thereby opening up market options to farmers. Working within the constraints posed due to disruption in logistics, access to regular markets, decrease in demand, number of States and clusters innovated and converted this crisis into an opportunity. The Green Caravan of Kohima created market linkages from all villages of Nagaland to urban areas for vegetables, handicrafts, and handlooms (www.instamojo.com). There was online sale of fruits and vegetables by FPOs in Maharashtra and doorstep delivery in specially designed electric vans in Punjab. Manipur Organic Agency (MoMA) mobilised all the 15 FPCs of MOVCD to collect produce and transport to two organic wholesale centers at Sanjenthong and Chingmeriong in Imphal for onward delivery to consumers.

The organic e-commerce platform www.jaivikkheti.in is being strengthened for directly linking farmers with retail as well as bulk buyers. Infusion of digital technology in a much bigger way has been a major takeaway during the pandemic period and is a welcome norm here to stay, saving in expenses on travel, logistics, etc while not compromising in any way on the quality of information sharing. In fact, video conferencing and webinars makes possible outreach with many more in the field, with minimum disruption in their works too and which was not possible in physical meetings. The NER States also participated in a webinar on Integrated Organic Farming models developed by ICAR, for increasing productivity, integrated nutrient and pest management and hence increase in farmers’ income. Video conferences are being held to understand the issues being faced by companies and strengthen the conversations with States and Regional Councils responsible for handholding clusters and in the process new partnerships are being forged for direct procurement from the farmers/farmer groups.

Natural farming is not a new concept in India, with farmers having tilled their land without the use of chemicals – largely relying on organic residues, cow dung, composts, etc since time immemorial. The philosophy underlying organic farming of integration of the elements – soil, water, microbes and ‘waste’ products, forestry and agriculture is the correct recipe for sustainable use of natural resources, which are coming under severe stress due to ever increasing requirement of food and feedstock for agri based industry. This is also in sync with the Sustainable Development Goal 2 targeting ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.

Hence with greater awareness and capacity building of the producers on compliance with international standards, Indian organic farmers will soon be reinforcing their rightful place in global agri trade.

Medha invests Rs 1,000 cr, sets up rail coach factory in Telangana

“Source:- Business Standard”

Hyderabad-based diversified firm, on Thursday laid the foundation for setting up a rail coach factory in Telangana at an investment of Rs 1,000 crore.

State Minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao participated in the ground-breaking ceremony of the Medha Rail Coach Factory in Kondakal village in neighbouring Rangareddy district, an official press release said.

The factory is expected to create 1,000 direct and 1,200 indirect jobs in the region, said the release.

“The facility will have a capacity of manufacturing coaches, locomotives, inter-city train sets, metro trains and monorail, among others. Production capacity is planned for 500 coaches of various types and 50 locomotives per year,” Medha Servo said.

Medha Servo Drives Pvt. Ltd designs and manufactures various world-class high-tech electronics products for application on locomotives, train sets, coaches, railway stations and yards, making it the largest propulsion equipment supplier to the Indian Railways.

Speaking at the ceremony, Rama Rao said Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao-led governments pro-active approach and conducive policies have encouraged Medha Group to establish its world-class rail coach factory.

The Minister said the facility is expected to create an eco system for rail coach manufacturing in the state.

Medha Servo Drives claims the new factory to be the largest private sector rail coach manufacturing unit in the country.

CarDekho to invest US$ 20 million in used car business in FY21

“Source:- IBEF”
CarDekho Group intends to invest US$ 20 million in used car business in FY21 as it forays into selling pre-owned vehicles through its upcoming franchise retail network, the company said.

The Girnar Software Pvt Ltd-owned venture, also a leading vehicle search platform, plans to open 250 franchise stores this year and ramp up this network to over 1,000 retail locations by 2022. The franchise outlets would be branded CarDekho Trustmark stores.

There has been an increase in demand of used cars as buyers are opting for budget-friendly personal transport while avoiding public transportation due to COVID-19 scare.

According to Mr Amit Jain, co-founder and chief executive officer, CarDekho, “Used car transactions for every new car sold would increase from 1.3 in FY20 to over 1.8 during FY21 as commuters are increasingly opting for personal mobility at a lower cost.”

In India, pre-owned car market had crossed 4 million units in size as the industry saw major changes after the GST rationalization to 12-18 per cent and penetration of organized channels, said findings of the Indian Blue Book, compiled by Mahindra First Choice Wheels Ltd, released last year.

The company also plans to launch its first franchise store for sale of certified used cars in Jaipur and has upcoming stores planned in Delhi NCR and Bengaluru respectively, it said in a statement.

It currently operates over 50 CarDekho Gaadi stores across India where it acquires used cars from their existing owners.

These CarDekho stores would be part of the fast penetrating organized channel in the pre-owned segment, similar to that of Maruti Suzuki True Value, Hyundai Motor’s H-Promise, Mahindra First Choice Wheels, Honda Auto Terrace, Toyota U Trust, among others.

It is seen that online sales platforms such as CarDekho are contributing considerably to the penetrating organized channel in the used car segment, which is expected to grow at 15-20 per cent year-on-year for next few years.

Similar user experience will be offered by CarDekho’s Trustmark stores that buyers get while visiting a regular new car showroom.

“Our pre-owned cars are checked for more than 200 parameters that includes previous accidents, tampering of odometer, among others. In a recent pilot project carried out in Delhi, only 30 out of 100 cars could meet the Trustmark criteria,” said Mr Jain.

“We don’t take used cars that are driven more than 90,000 kms and are more than 9 years old,” he added.

CarDekho also plans on offering 6-month or 7,500 km warranty on the vehicle’s engine and transmission to the buyer after stringent quality checks.

It also intends to offer financing and insurance options to its customers at the Trustmark stores. “We disburse car loans of about Rs 120 crore (US$ 17.02 million) per month,” Jain said.

Currently, there are about 4000 used car inspections per month done by the company, Mr Jain said his used car business is doing better than the pre-COVID levels.

“CarDekho Gaadi stores are operating at higher run-rate currently,” he said.

There was a 99 per cent recovery in customer traffic for used cars seen in June 2020, after the lockdown wherein cars in the Rs 1-5 lakh (US$ 1418- 7093) range saw maximum traction.

Top 8 Indian cities to add 10 million sq ft data centre space in next 2-3 years: Report

“Source:-  Economic Times”
MUMBAI:
Top 8 Indian cities are expected to add around 10 million sq ft data center space in the next 2-3 years aided by data localization norms and the massive digital push initiated by the Covid-19 pandemic, said an ANAROCK Property Consultants report.

Currently, data centres in India’s top 8 cities occupy 7.5 million sq ft space. The key cities leading demand for data centres include Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, among others. The demand resulted post the pandemic is expected to be lucrative for this segment fetching annual rental yield of 10-14%.

“The pandemic has been a massive catalyst for digital adoption across the spectrum. Work-from-home (WFH) compulsions, online education, video-based medical consultations, a huge increase in ecommerce and business-related video conferencing and webinars are increasing the demand for data centres,” said Shobhit Agarwal, MD & CEO, ANAROCK Capital.

Immediately after India went into a lockdown mode due to COVID-19, there was a 25-35% increase in data centre capacity usage as companies began to overhaul their digital infrastructure to deal with the new work environment.”

“Furthermore, the government’s move to make data localization mandatory ensures a promising future for data centres in the country,” Agarwal said.

Leading corporate entities like Adani Group, Hiranandani Group and  Salarpuria Sattva   have already rolled out significant investment plans for building data centres in India over the next decade and more.

As per industry estimates, the data centre outsourcing market in India is worth more than $2 billion and is projected to grow at 25% CAGR to reach $5 billion by FY2023-24. In fact, data centres are emerging as an alternative real estate asset class with huge potential, and leading real estate developers are zeroing in on this opportunity to reap superior returns from early investments.

 

Wiserfunding enters Indian market, to provide lending solutions for SME sector

“Source:- Livemint”
INDIA : The UK-based fintech firm Wiserfunding on Tuesday said it has entered Indian market, and will tie-up with banks and NBFCs to provide credit risk assessment solutions for targeted lending to SME sector.

Wiserfunding has launched its Artificial Intelligence (AI) backed cloud-based credit risk assessment tool targeted for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), it said in a release.

The existing models in lending sector are not specific to the SMEs, largely non-technology based and have low prediction accuracy, it added.

“The London headquartered fintech aims to invest USD 3–5 million (about 37 crore) over the next three years to tailor credit risk models specifically towards Indian SMEs to reach an accuracy level above 80%,” Wiserfunding said.

“The company plans to partner with 3-4 banks and 8-10 NBFCs in India and cover 8.5 million Indian SMEs through its models by end of the financial year,” it added.

The investment will also be towards creating technology to connect to various public and private databases to source all inputs to fully automate its models as it already does in Europe.

The fintech firm is backed and co-founded by Professor Edward Altman, one of the pioneers of credit risk analytics since the late 1960s and the inventor of the famous Z-score.

The new SME Z-score by Wiserfunding uses AI to provide accurate, reliable and unbiased credit risk assessment tools to assess the credit quality of SMEs using financial history.

It also uses publicly available structured and unstructured data such as corporate governance, management experience & macroeconomic indicators for lending assessment, the statement said.

Wiserfunding said its model is unique as it provides geographical and sectoral segmentation to maximise prediction power and is tailored specifically for SMEs.

“Typical to any economic shock, bank lending is expected to reduce for SMEs, making it more difficult for them to survive. It will be important to have a reliable and accurate assessment of businesses’ viability, and technology will be central to such analysis,” said Altman.

He said Indian banks and financial institutions will definitely see a significant benefit in using a more independent and unbiased risk assessment platform with the entry of AI-powered models

Wiserfunding aims to target bank and non-bank lenders, investors, funds, insurance companies and SMEs, its India country head Avantika Goel said.

The company has been operating globally across 38 countries and its solution has been adopted by more than 40 bank and non-bank lenders and investors across the world, it added.

 

Byju’s buys code training app WhiteHat Jr for $300 million

“Source:- Business Today”
Education Technology company Byju’s has acquired Mumbai-based code training app WhiteHat Jr for $300 million as it looks to expand its dominant reach in the country.

The all-cash deal is Byju’s fifth acquisition and also its largest to date.

It had last acquired Osmo, a US-based educational gaming company, for $120 million in a stock-and-cash deal. The Osmo deal was Byju’s first-ever purchase of a US company in January 2019.

WhitHat Jr is a coding platform founded by Karan Bajaj the former CEO of Discovery Networks India. The ed-tech startup teaches students the fundamentals of coding and helps them build commercial-ready games, apps and animations.

In an official statement released by Byju’s on Wednesday evening, it will make substantial investments in WhiteHat Jr’s technology platform as well as product innovation whilst broadening the teacher base to cater to demand from new markets. Meanwhile, Bajaj will continue to head and scale the business in India and the US.

“WhiteHat Jr is the leader in the live online coding space. Karan has proven his mettle as an exceptional founder and the credit goes to him and his team for creating coding programs that are loved by kids. Under his leadership the company has achieved phenomenal growth in India and the US in a short span of time,” Byju’s founder and chief executive Byju Raveendran said in the statement.

WhitHat Jr had recently announced that it is mulling to expand to other markets like Australia, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand, besides already having a presence in the US since February 2020.

Where the acquisition will enable Byju’s to launch coding to students which is fast emerging as a key skill for the future, it will give WhiteHat Jr’s investors a strong exit from the company.

Reliance ranked No 2 brand globally after Apple in FutureBrand Index 2020 list

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries has been ranked second biggest brand after Apple on the FutureBrand Index 2020.

“This year’s highest entrant at number two, Reliance Industries excels on every attribute,” FutureBrand said, releasing its 2020 Index.

One of the most profitable companies in India, Reliance is, “very well respected” and “seen as behaving ethically” as well as being associated with “growth”, “innovative products” and “great customer service”, it said. “In particular, people have a strong emotional connection with the organisation.”

FutureBrand, which is a global brand transformation company, said part of Reliance’s success could be attributed to Mukesh Ambani’s recasting of the firm as a one-stop-shop for Indians.

“The chairman built on the existing petrochemicals business, transforming it into a digital behemoth designed to meet every customer need.

“Today, this company is engaged in a number of sectors including energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications. Now that Google and Facebook are taking equity stakes in the firm, we may see Reliance jostling for the top spot in the next Index,” it said.

FutureBrand said six years on from the first FutureBrand Index, the world has changed dramatically, priorities have shifted and the globe’s top 100 companies are dealing with challenges unthinkable even 12 months ago.

“The FutureBrand Index is a global perception study that reorders PwC’s Global Top 100 Companies by Market Cap on perception strength rather than financial strength,” it said. “While the FutureBrand Index 2020 has uncovered a number of seismic shifts in the way companies work and how they present themselves to the outside world, one key theme has stood out: individuality.”

The 2020 list is topped by Apple, while Samsung is ranked third, followed by Nvidia, Moutai, Nike, Microsoft, ASML, PayPal and Netflix.

Reliance ranks 91st on PWC 2020 list, it said.

“A slew of new entrants to our Index include ASML Holdings, PayPal, Danaher, Saudi Aramco, and American Tower Corporation. In total, there are 15 new entrants this year, seven of which make it into the top 20, including Reliance Industries slotting in at number two,” it said.

The FutureBrand Index is not based on consumer research. Unlike most other rankings, the Index offers a rigorous assessment of how prominent companies are doing and are likely to do over the next few years.

“We are living in unprecedented times,” it said, adding the world is living through the worst healthcare crisis in a century.

“But out of this will emerge a reimagined world, and it will be up to leading companies and the people who work for them to respond to new demands and new expectations,” it said.

The FutureBrand Index 2020 examines the world’s leading firms and determine how they have fared over the past year.

“Our unique perspective shines a light on the innovators as well as the brands which have successfully navigated sector-specific rough waters. As we discovered, it can be premature to write off a company in difficulty and risky to extol the virtues of a seemingly unbreakable brand,” it added.

 

Electronics manufacturing in India to grow 30% annually for next 5 years: IT Secy

“Source:- Finanacial Express”
The government is expecting electronics manufacturing in the country to register an annual growth rate of 30 per cent over the next five years and clock Rs 11.5 lakh crore additional production during this period, electronics and IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney said on Thursday. Also, the exports of electronic products will grow in the range of 40-50 per cent annually over the next five years, he added.

“Electronics manufacturing in India has been growing quite significantly. We have registered 23 per cent cumulative annual rate of growth over past five years. Now in this journey the growth is expected to be 30 per cent year on year for next five years,” Sawhney said at the Invest India Exclusive Investment Forum – Japan Edition.

He said that mobile manufacturing in the country has grown from 6 crore handsets five years ago to 33 crore at present, and over 90 per cent of country’s mobile phone requirements are met through domestic production.

“Last year we have seen spurt of 25 per cent. In next five years, growth in exports could be 40-50 per cent year on year at a bare minimum,” Sawhney said.

The country’s electronics production will grow at least by USD 153 billion (around Rs 11.5 lakh crore) in the next five years, the secretary said.

As many as 22 domestic and international firms, including iPhone maker Apple’s contract manufacturers as well as Samsung, Lava, Dixon and so forth, have lined up with proposals for mobile phones production worth Rs 11 lakh crore over the next five years.

According to Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, these proposals under the government’s Rs 41,000-crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for mobile phone manufacturing are expected to create around 12 lakh jobs, 3 lakh direct and 9 lakh indirect employment opportunities in the country.

Sawhney said that Japanese companies have tremendous expertise and market share in capital goods which are used in the factories that manufacture electronic goods, digital displays, semiconductors, and India is looking forward to their engagement in the domestic market.

“I would say India and Japan have a tremendous complimentary position especially in the electronics sector. It is time for us to bring in more investment from Japan into India, more technologies into India,” Sawhney said.

 

Telangana to be major base for Electric Vehicles

“Source:- Telangana Today”
Hyderabad: To reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, the State Cabinet on Wednesday decided to encourage and promote usage of Electric Vehicles (EVs) across the State. The Cabinet approved the new Telangana State Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Solution Policy, during the meeting held at Pragathi Bhavan here. It was also decided to encourage the production of electric vehicles in the State by giving them incentives.

The new policy is aimed to make Telangana a preferred destination for EVs and component manufacturing units, besides making the State a major base for EV and energy storage sectors by attracting large scale investments and creating employment. It also proposed to develop an ecosystem of shared mobility through charging and swapping infrastructure, and proactively supporting creation of EV charging infrastructure. The State government will also provide preferential market access to the companies which establish their manufacturing plants in the State.

Under the new policy, the State Cabinet decided to provide 100 per cent exemption of road tax and registration fee for first EVs to be purchased in the State after the policy comes into force. Accordingly, the incentives will be extended to two lakh two-wheelers, 20,000 three-wheelers, 5,000 commercial passengers vehicles (taxi, tourist cabs etc), 10,000 electric light goods carriers, 5,000 private cars and 500 e-buses.

The State government will extend incentives and subsidies to the manufacturers as well as per the Electronics Policy 2016 which includes 20 per cent capital investment subsidy, SGST reimbursement, power tariff discount, electricity duty exemption, interest subvention, transportation subsidy and other expenditures like stamp duty, transfer duty, registration fee, lease rental assistance and others. India’s leading e-bus manufacturer Olectra Greentech-BYD and electric three-wheeler manufacturer Gayam Motor Works already have their base in the state, while several other companies like e-bus manufacturer Mytrah, batter manufacturer Exicom and other expressed interest to establish their units which will result in proposed investment of Rs 4,600 crore, creating nearly 4,200 jobs. The State government is also establishing an Energy Park at Divitapally and plans to develop another EV Park, besides using the existing Electronic Manufacturing Clusters at Raviryal and Maheshwaram for facilitating establishment of the new EV plants.

Sources said the State government is expecting an investment of Rs 30,000 crore to the State in the next a few years, apart from providing 1.2 lakh direct and 2.5 lakh indirect employment opportunities. The government plans to spend around Rs 1,425 crore towards incentives and make 775 acres available for EV manufacturers.

Kodak TV India to invest Rs 500 cr for new plant in UP

“Source:- Economic Times Telecom”
New Delhi: Kodak TV India on Tuesday announced that it would invest more than Rs 500 crore in the next three years to set up a fully automated TV manufacturing plant at Hapur in Uttar Pradesh.

The new plant would be used to develop and test Android TV products so as to reduce dependency on other countries, a company statement said.

Avneet Singh Marwah, founder and CEO, Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd, Kodak Brand Licensee in India, said: “Currently, the Indian TV industry imports most of the raw material and has a value addition of only 10-12 per cent. However, with this investment, Kodak HD LED TV aims to increase the value addition to 50-60 per cent.”

“After the investment, we aim to increase the Kodak Smart TVs’ market share up to 10 per cent by 2021-22,” he said.

According to Marwah, around 2,000 new jobs would be created through this plant.

The majority of the brand’s investment in this plant will be used to set up an R&D centre and also create a complete ecosystem for smart homes, he said, adding that the company would continue to invest in its infrastructure.

Kodak TV plans to set up more than 38 warehouses and 600 service centres across India, Marwah added.

The certified Android TV manufacturing plant with complete backward integration and R&D centre would be made operational by 2021. With a capacity to produce a million TV sets annually, the new facility would be equipped with two fully automated, AI-enabled manufacturing lines to facilitate near-contactless production.

The facility would also adhere to all international guidelines for product and employee safety, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said.

The increased production capacity will also enable Kodak TV India to export TVs to other major Android TV markets.

The development comes in the wake of the enthusiastic response to the Kodak CA Series launched in March 2020 and the recently launched 7XPRO Model, as per the statement. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Kodak TV India has recovered 65 per cent of its sales after resuming operations due to the growing ‘Make in India’ sentiment and its aggressive pricing, it said.

Airtel, AWS to make joint investments to build cloud expertise in India

“Source:-  Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has signed a multi-year Strategic Collaboration Agreement (SCA) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to offer a comprehensive set of cloud solutions to large enterprise and small and medium enterprise (SME) customers in India.

Both companies will make joint investments to build the cloud expertise and train hundreds of employees to sell services to enterprises and SMEs, Harmeen Mehta, CIO & Head – Cloud and Security Business, Bharti Airtel said on Wednesday.

“300 people are already AWS certified and the next round of training is starting. There is a deep commitment and investment from both sides,” she added. “There are professional services for which training is happening for sales, technology and go to market.”

ET broke the story first in its August 5 edition.

Airtel said that it will co-create cloud solutions and services for various verticals and industries.

Airtel serves over 2,500 large enterprises and more than a million emerging businesses and companies with an integrated product portfolio, including Airtel Cloud, a multi-cloud product, and solutions business.

“For new customers, we at AWS has a large team and will be focusing on solving industry-specific problems. The intent is to give interesting experience in terms of go to market and experience,” Puneet Chandok, President, Commercial Business, India and South Asia, Amazon Internet Services Private Limited said.

Mehta said that India is seeing a lot of acceleration in terms of cloud adoption especially after the lockdown in the country.

“As we went to the lockdown situation, companies on cloud found it easy to keep operations running, which is one of the reasons why many organizations are thinking deeper than before how do they want to run businesses…cloud is biggest enabler…they are going to invest in this. There has never been a better time to rethink policies about this even though they are tighter on spend,” Mehta added.

Airtel Cloud will build an AWS Cloud Practice supported by AWS Professional Services, as well as develop differentiated Airtel Cloud products and capabilities leveraging AWS services, Airtel’s data center capabilities, and Airtel’s network and telecoms offerings.

Airtel has previously partnered with Google for its GSuite service and Microsoft for Azure. “We work with multiple partners to best serve the need of enterprises and SMEs. We do have a multi-partner environment for hybrid and multi-cloud use for customers,” Mehta said.

She added that SME is a big focus area for both the companies.

Airtel also said that it is focusing on ensuring security for its enterprise and retail customers. “It is an area where we are focusing on immensely since there is a big rise in phishing attacks on customers. While it is easier to manage this in the enterprise, but a lot of this is happening for our regular users who face these issues via SMS, personal email and even WhatsApp,” Mehta said.

Airtel will again start an awareness campaign for its customers in India regarding these phishing attacks.

Byju’s: Billionaire Yuri Milner all set to invest $400 million in Indian education startup

“Source:- Livemint”

DST Global, the investment firm headed by billionaire Yuri Milner, is close to investing as much as $400 million in Indian online education startup Byju’s, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.The deal values Byju’s at $10.5 billion and could be signed as early as this weekend, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified as the talks are private. The transaction would make Byju’s India’s second-most valuable startup after Alibaba Group Holding-backed financial payments brand, Paytm.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire, one of the world’s best-known technology investors, is an early backer of the largest internet firms including Alibaba, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. His DST has also funded a string of high-profile Indian startups such as online retailer Flipkart Online Services Pvt., ride-hailing startup Ola, food-delivery startup Swiggy and business e-commerce startup Udaan.

DST and Byju’s didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comments about the funding talks. Leonid Solovyev, a DST spokesman, declined to comment.

Byju’s, whose investors include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers Ltd. and Tiger Global Management, simplifies math and science concepts for K-12 students through games and videos. It was founded by Byju Raveendran, a former teacher and son of educators, who conceived the smartphone app in 2011. In a country that places a premium on education, he launched the app just as smartphones were becoming ubiquitous.

The app caters to students from kindergarten through 12th grade and has over 57 million registered users and over 3.5 million paid subscribers. It’s adding over 300,000 new subscribers every month. Byju’s doubled revenues in the year ended March 2020 to 28 billion rupees ($373 million) from the previous financial year and is profitable, a rarity for Indian startups.

India’s online education segment is on fire after the raging coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns shuttered schools across the country, prompting a never-before migration to online learning. According to an estimate about 250 million school-going children in the country have been affected by pandemic-induced school closures. Even parents, teachers and schools skeptical of the online model have been forced to adopt digital learning tools that have prompted an unprecedented surge of users to online portals such as Byju’s run by Think & Learn Pvt. Byju’s has raised $400 million this year alone and was last funded by Bond Capital co-founded by Silicon Valley investment guru, Mary Meeker, formerly of Kleiner Perkins. Its rivals are gathering backers, too. Last month, online learning startup Vedantu raised $100 million from U.S.-based investor Coatue Management. Unacademy, another leading startup is said to be raising funds at a valuation of over $1 billion, which would make it the country’s second edtech unicorn.

Australia’s export sector continues to boom despite ongoing challenges

“Source:- Trade Minister”
Australia recorded its largest financial year trade surplus in 2019-20, off the back of booming goods exports, according to new data released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The data shows that despite severe global economic shocks from COVID-19, Australia posted a record financial year trade surplus of $77.4 billion in 2019-20 with Australian goods exports growing by $9.29 billion or 2.5 per cent. Australia also recorded its 30th consecutive monthly trade surplus in June 2020, worth $8.2 billion, the second highest monthly trade surplus.

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the COVID-19 pandemic was testing all Australian producers and businesses, but today’s data highlighted the incredible strength and resilience of our export sector.

“Despite the ongoing domestic and international challenges, Australian exporters across a range of sectors like resources, agriculture and advanced manufacturing continue to withstand global economic shocks and remain highly sought after in our key markets,” Minister Birmingham said.

“It is a credit to our hard-working exporters that even in these incredibly challenging economic times, their high-quality, safe and reliable product remains in demand around the world.

“Notwithstanding factors such as rising export costs and disruptions to supply-chains, our exporters continue to show incredible resilience and ability to navigate through these significant global economic headwinds.

“The continuing strength of our exporting sectors reinforces the importance for Australia of keeping trading channels open and accessible, expanding market access through even more trade agreements and continuing to support a global, rules based trading system.

“We also recognise the current COVID-19 crisis continues to place immense pressure on parts of our services sector, including tourism and education businesses, many of whom felt the earliest and deepest aspects of the economic downturn.

“That is why our Government has taken significant steps to support businesses and jobs across the tourism sector through cash payments of up to $100,000 and the extension of the JobKeeper payment until the end of March next year.

“We’ve also taken action to keep supply chains open for our agricultural and fisheries exporters through initiatives such as our $350 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism, which has so far supported over $1 billion in exports and helped to protect regional jobs.

“Our Government’s strong track record of delivering high-quality free trade agreements with our key-trading partners has helped cushion the blow for our exporters. That is why we continue to pursue agreements with our key trading partners including with European Union and United Kingdom, to open up new markets for Australian farmers and businesses.”

Hughes to invest $50 million in Bharti-UK consortium for OneWeb

“Source:- Hindu business Line”
Bharti Enterprises on Monday said that Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes) has agreed to invest $50 million in the winning consortium, led by the UK government and Bharti Enterprises, that will take over OneWeb.

Hughes is the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services.

Additionally, Hughes will continue as a trusted technology and distribution partner to OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite operator which had launched 74 satellites before filing for Chapter 11 protection in March.

Bharti Enterprises has won a bid to pick up 45 per cent stake in OneWeb with an investment of $500 million. OneWeb, a UK-based company, has proposed a mega-constellation of satellites in low-earth orbit to deliver affordable wireless Internet services to anywhere in the world.

“The investment by Hughes underlines OneWeb’s exciting commercial prospects, reflected in the ongoing discussions with some of the world’s leading strategic and financial investors,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, said.

Consummation of the consortium is contingent upon execution and effectiveness of definitive agreements. Confirmation of OneWeb’s reorganisation is contingent on certain conditions established by the Bankruptcy Court, Bharti Enterprises said.

“Our continuing and strengthened involvement with OneWeb extends naturally from our position as a leading geostationary satellite operator and ground network innovator, along with a meaningful partnership with Bharti and long-standing relationship with the UK through our business operations in both countries,” Pradman Kaul, President, Hughes, said.

Through its Hughes Europe division, which is headquartered outside of London, and sister company EchoStar Mobile Ltd, Hughes has worked closely with the UK government. Furthermore, Hughes Communications India Ltd, (HCIL), a majority-owned subsidiary of Hughes, and Bharti Airtel Ltd (Airtel), are in the process of combining their satellite broadband operations in India.

The merger, which was announced in 2019, is pending regulatory approvals and is expected to bring greater scale, operational efficiencies and market reach to deliver solutions for enterprise and government networks.

Big Boost to Khadi; Indian Red Cross Society to Buy 1.80 lakh Face Masks from KVIC

“Source:- IBEF”
As the popularity of the Khadi Face Masks grows across the country due to its fine quality and affordable price, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has received a prestigious purchase order from Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) to supply 1.80 lakh face masks.

As per KVIC, the IRCS masks will be made of 100 per cent double-twisted handcrafted cotton fabric in brown colour with red piping. KVIC has especially designed these double-layered cotton masks for the Indian Red Cross Society as per the samples provided by them. The mask will have suitably printed IRCS logo on the left side and the Khadi India tag on the right side. The supply of masks will begin by next month.

The execution of this order will require over 20,000 meter of fabric which will generate 9000 additional man days for the Khadi artisans.

KVIC Chairman, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena welcomed the purchase order from the Indian Red Cross Society and said the massive demand of Khadi Face Masks is a major step in the direction of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”. “This order will help our Khadi artisans to produce more yarn and fabric and will further add to their income in these difficult times,” Saxena said.

KVIC has added that so far it has sold over 10 lakh face masks which include double layered Cotton Masks and triple-layered Silk Masks. The biggest order for face masks that the KVIC received was from the Jammu & Kashmir government for 7 lakh masks that has been delivered on time.

Approximately 1 lakh meter of Cotton fabric worth over Rs one crore (US$ 0.14 million) and nearly 2000 meters of Silk fabric of different colours and prints has been used in making these masks till recently.

KVIC received repeat orders from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister’s Office, Central Government ministries and orders from public through KVIC’s E-portal. KVIC has supplied over 20,000 face masks to the Indian Railways too. Apart from the sale, KVIC has free distributed nearly 10 lakh Khadi masks to the District Authorities though its Khadi Institutions across the country.

“Face Masks are the most critical tool to fight the Corona Pandemic. These masks prepared from Double Twisted Khadi fabric not only meet the quality and scale of demand but are cost effective, breathable, washable, reusable and bio-degradable” Saxena added.

 

Tata Capital Growth Fund to invest ₹225 Crore in Biocon Biologics

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : Biotechnology major Biocon on Friday said Tata Capital Growth Fund will invest USD 30 million ( 225 crore) in its subsidiary Biocon Biologics to acquire 0.85 per cent equity stake in the company.

The firm said this deal values Biocon Biologics at USD 3.5 billion.

In a regulatory filing, Biocon said the board of its subsidiary Biocon Biologics India has approved a primary equity investment by Tata Capital Growth Fund.

As per the terms of the proposed agreement, Tata Capital will invest USD 30 million ( 225 crore) for a 0.85 per cent minority stake in the biosimilar business.

Post the completion of this transaction, Biocon will hold 95.25 per cent stake in Biocon Biologics, the biotechnology major added.

The transaction is subject to standard condition precedents and approvals.

Dr Christiane Hamacher, CEO, Biocon Biologics, said this equity infusion is the next step in the company’s journey of unlocking value.

“Through prudent investments in research and development and high-quality manufacturing infrastructure we are confident of achieving our aspiration of serving 5 million patients through our biosimilars portfolio and achieving a target revenue of USD 1 billion in financial year 2021-22,” Hamacher added.

Akhil Awasthi, Managing Partner, Tata Growth PE, said this investment is in line with its focus on export-oriented manufacturing in world beating companies.

Shares of Biocon were trading 0.53 per cent higher at 405.55 apiece on BSE.

 

Mother Dairy Enters Bread Segment, Aims Rs 25,000 Cr Turnover By 2025

“Source:-  Business World”
Mother Dairy, a leading milk supplier in Delhi-NCR, on Thursday forayed into bread segment as part of its strategy to diversify business, and announced its target to more than double its revenue to Rs 25,000 crore in the next five years.

Mother Dairy has launched three types of breads — sandwich, brown, and fruit & milk — in a price range of Rs 15-40 per packet.

The breads will be initially available at its 1,800 milk booths and ‘Safal’ outlets in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The company is targeting a revenue of Rs 100 crore from bread segment over the next three years.

‘We are diversifying into confectionery and bakery segment with the launch of our breads,’ Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable Pvt Ltd Managing Director Sangram Chaudhary told reporters in a video conference.

He said the size of the bread market in India is estimated to be Rs 5,300 crore currently and is growing at an average rate of 10 per cent for the last five years. The highest consumption is of white bread.

Chaudhary said the company has introduced around 20 new products in the market, including five types of sweets.

Asked about the company’s current turnover and future outlook, he said Mother Dairy’s current annual revenue is around Rs 10,000-11,000 crore.

‘We are targeting to reach Rs 25,000 crore turnover by 2025,’ he said, adding that growth could be slow this year because of COVID-19.

He said consumption pattern has changed a lot because of pandemic, with people preferring home delivery of products.

Elaborating on bread business, Chaudhary said, ‘The bread market in India is localised due to logistical and supply chain issues. With Mother Dairy, this has never been a challenge because of our existing network. Hence, having bread in our kitty was a natural fit.’ The company is also exploring a larger bakery play, he said.

Sanjay Sharma, business head of dairy products, said breads are being currently manufactured by a third party and will be sold through 1,800 company outlets in the first phase.

However, retail distribution network as well as product portfolio would be expanded based on customers’ response, Sharma said.

‘We are looking at Rs 100 crore business in bread category over the next three years,’ he said.

A 500 gm packet of sandwich bread is priced at Rs 30, while the cost of 700 gm packet is Rs 40. Brown bread packet of 400 gm is priced at Rs 30, while the rate for fruit & milk bread is Rs 15 for 150 gm packet.

Multi-grain bread, whole wheat bread and kulchas would be introduced later.

Asked about quality concerns over fruits and vegetables sold through Safal outlets, except some stores in Lutyens and South Delhi, Choudhary said the procurement system has been restructured and the entire purchase is being done from farmers directly.

He said the quality of fruits and vegetables has improved now.

Mother Dairy sells over 30 lakh litres of milk per day in Delhi-NCR. Milk and other milk products are sold under Mother Dairy brand.

It sells fresh fruits and vegetables through around 400 Safal outlets. Frozen vegetables, pulses and honey are sold under the ‘Safal’ brand.

The company manufactures and markets edible oils under ‘Dhara’ brand. It has also entered into organic food business.

Mother Dairy was commissioned in 1974 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).

It was established under ‘Operation Flood’ initiative, world’s biggest dairy development program launched to make India a milk-sufficient nation.

 

Airtel renews Pan India Managed Services Partnership with Ericsson

“Source:- Ericson”
Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), India’s largest integrated telco, has renewed its agreement with Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) to provide pan-India managed network operations through Ericsson Operations Engine.

The three-year deal will see Airtel launching Ericsson Operation Engine during 2020. Ericsson will deploy the latest automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to enhance Airtel’s mobile network performance and customer experience. Ericsson will also manage Airtel’s network operations center and field maintenance activities across India.

Ericsson will also provide Network Optimization Services, combining multi-vendor networks expertise with its state-of-the-art machine learning/AI-enabled Cognitive Software Suite. This will deliver a better customer experience and ensure a superior return from Airtel’s deployed network assets.

The agreement builds on the 25-year collaboration between Ericsson and Airtel in India and will use Ericsson’s global capabilities in AI-based data-driven automated technology upgrades to boost Airtel’s network performance and operational efficiency.

Randeep Sekhon, Chief Technology Officer, Bharti Airtel, says: “We are pleased to strengthen our deep partnership with Ericsson as part of our vision to build a future ready network that enables world-class experience for our customers. We are confident these new technologies will enable us to serve the emerging data requirements of customers in a digitally connected India.”

Nunzio Mirtillo, Head of Ericsson South east Asia, Oceania and India, says: “Ericsson Operations Engine consolidates our position as the industry leader in network managed services. With more than 300 global contracts, Ericsson has proven capabilities in managing and operating multi-vendor and multi-technology networks. This agreement demonstrates the continued confidence in our products and end-to-end solutions in Bharti Airtel’s network and IT operations. We will continue to develop data-driven insights to deliver enhanced performance focused on end-user experience.”

Airtel and Ericsson’s long-standing technology and services partnership has spanned 2G, 3G, 4G provision and more recently, live 5G trials.

Twenty First Century Media announces foray into eSports business, launches TCM eSports

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI:  Twenty First Century Media (TCM), a full-service sports marketing and management company, has launched a new eSports marketing division – TCM eSports.

The new division will create engagement opportunities for brands and publishers to reach out to a vast majority of eSports fans who do not watch TV.

As per global data measurement agency Nielsen, gaming in India has grown by 24% in June versus pre lockdown period.

“As people continue to practice social distancing  and stay home amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, mobile gaming has become a preferred pastime for not just entertainment but also social connection,” said Lokesh Sharma, managing director, TCM.

“There is a widening of the digital media landscape  and the rise in popularity of mobile gaming, eSports, influencer-marketing, digital videos that provide huge digital audiences,” he added.

TCM already holds exclusive ground rights across various cricket stadiums in India and globally. Outside India, TCM holds the exclusive naming, sponsorship, and in-stadia rights across New Zealand Cricket, Cricket West Indies and Asia Cup tournaments (Asian Cricket Council). Besides this, TCM has on-ground partnerships with the cricket boards of South Africa, Bangladesh, England and Australia.

“The average weekly time spent for gaming in India stands at a whopping 3 hours and 7 minutes. This creates a great opportunity for brands that want to reach, engage and create a sustainable relationship with an otherwise hard to reach the audience and for sports properties that want to groom and engage the next generation of their fans,” said Basant Dhawan, CEO, TCM.

Experts believe that whether it’s any of the established domestic leagues in India or an incipient sports property, eSports will become a major fan engagement tool for traditional sports to reach and engage this young, digitally savvy consumer.

TCM eSports has also been appointed as the knowledge partner for the upcoming India Gaming Summit, scheduled from July 28th to 30th.

India E-Commerce To Grow 27%; Reliance To Capture Half Of Online Grocery Sales: Goldman

“Source:- Business World”
India’s e-commerce business is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent to reach USD 99 billion by 2024, Goldman Sachs said projecting that Reliance Industries would capture half of the online grocery sales through its Facebook.

In a report titled ‘Global Internet: e-commerce’s steepening curve’, Goldman Sachs said the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a doubling of penetration of e-commerce globally with categories such as consumer packaged goods driving as much as three years of penetration growth in three months.

‘We forecast India e-commerce will reach USD 99 billion by 2024, growing at a 27 per cent CAGR over 2019-24, with grocery and fashion/apparel likely to be the key drivers of incremental growth in our view,’ it said.

Online penetration of retail is expected to reach 10.7 per cent by 2024, versus 4.7 per cent in 2019.

‘The biggest near term theme in India internet, in our view, is the foray of Reliance Industries (India’s largest market-cap company with presence across sectors such as energy, telecom, and retail) into e-commerce, and the company’s tie-up with WhatsApp for online grocery,’ it said.

Facebook has picked up a 9.99 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, the subsidiary of RIL that houses the country’s youngest but biggest telecom company as well as an array of apps. RIL’s e-commerce venture, JioMart plans to use Facebook’s WhatsApp to connect local grocery stores with customers.

Goldman Sachs said Bigbasket and Grofers accounted for more than 80 per cent of the market in 2019 in online grocery.

Online grocery has been growing at over 50 per cent year-on-year for the last couple of years, but with the outbreak of COVID-19 resulting in shift to online, and the recent entry of RIL, the growth will accelerate to 81 per cent CAGR during 2019-24, it said.

‘We believe RIL’s partnership with Facebook could result in the company becoming a market leader in the online grocery space, with more than 50 per cent share by 2024,’ it said. ‘Having said that, we do see grocery as a large category for two or more players to co-exist over time.’ Growth in India’s e-commerce, the brokerage said, is likely to come from better penetration into categories such as grocery/FMCG, improving payment ecosystem and ease of shopping through WhatsApp etc.

‘We expect non-grocery e-commerce penetration to see a sharp increase of 500 basis points over the next two years to reach 16.1 per cent by 2021,’ Goldman Sachs said adding the last 500 basis points of the increase took four years.

While online penetration in categories such as consumer electronics is fairly high at about 40 per cent as of 2019, there exists significant growth in categories like apparel, appliances, health and personal care, where online penetration in India remains materially lower when compared with peers such as China.

‘As far as incremental growth in e-commerce is concerned, we expect grocery to be the biggest driver with 40 per cent contribution to incremental e-commerce GMV (gross merchandise volume) between 2019 and 2024,’ it said.

Grocery in India is a USD 380 billion category as of 2019, making up for 60 per cent of the total retail market.

‘However, online penetration currently stands at less than 0.5 per cent (absolute size USD 2 billion), one of the least among categories,’ it said projecting the online grocery market in India to grow 20x over the next 5 years, to reach USD 29 billion in value (5.1 per cent penetration) by 2024.

It saw a higher acceptance of online purchases among Indian consumers, especially since COVID-19, as one of the key drivers.

Other drivers include RIL’s foray into the space leveraging its large offline distribution capabilities and ability to order groceries through WhatsApp – a platform with more than 400 million users in India.

‘Overall, we forecast online grocery orders to grow from 300,000 per day in 2019, to more than 5 million per day by 2024,’ it said.

Goldman Sachs said the coronavirus pandemic has driven an acceleration in the adoption of countless technologies and consumer behaviours, chief among them being e-commerce.

‘What started at first with panic buying, hoarding and nest feathering out of necessity has turned into an array of adaptations that have driven e-commerce penetration from 16 per cent of retail spending in the US in 1Q19 to over 40 per cent in May driven by year- over-year growth of nearly 70 per cent,’ it said.

Innovations can help India”s biotechnology economy to hit USD 100 bn by 2025, says Kant

“Source:- The Outllok”
New Delhi :-
The Indian biotechnology space has potential to grow to USD 100 billion in size by 2025 on the back of innovations in bio-manufacturing technologies, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Friday.

Addressing a webinar titled ”Global Perspective on India”s Biotech Potential: Manufacturing Hub & Foreign Investment”, Kant said India is working to boost the biotechnology sector under the flagship programmes like ”Make in India” and ”Startup India”.

“India”s biotechnology economy can approach USD 100 billion in 2025 if the right policies are put in place, giving industry the required stimulation,” he said.         Kant said India has established biotechnology parks and incubators across the country to facilitate scientists and MSMEs with technology demonstration, along with pilot studies for accelerated commercial development.

Noting that an increase in the number of biotech incubators can boost research and promote the growth of startups, Kant said, “Innovations in bio-manufacturing technologies are critical for the success of the Indian biotech industry.” PTI BKS MKJ MKJ

Clean energy capacity: India to have 60% renewable energy by 2030, says power minister

“Source:- Economic Times”
India will have around 60 per cent of its installed electricity generation capacity from clean sources by 2030, Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said on Tuesday. The minister also exuded confidence that the renewable energy capacity would touch 510 GW by 2030, including 60 GW of hydro power.

In September last year at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced increasing the renewable energy target to 450 GW by 2030 from 175 GW by 2022.

Participating in a webinar organised by The Energy Resource Institute (TERI), Singh said, “I would say that by 2030, 60 per cent of our capacity will be from renewables, and that is on a conservative scale.”

The minister explained that by 2030, 450 GW of power generation capacity would come from renewables like solar and wind.

Besides 60 GW would come from hydro-electric power, he said.

About the progress on clean energy, he said that India’s clean energy capacity including under development projects and hydro electric power is around 190 GW, which is more than the targetted 175 GW by 2022.

During the webinar, the minister launched a report, titled ‘Renewable Power Pathways: Modelling the Integration of Wind and Solar in India by 2030’.

The minister also launched a report titled ‘Bending the Curve: 2025 Forecasts for Electricity Demand by Sector and State in the Light of the COVID Epidemic’.

The two reports have been prepared by Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) India, which is a research platform based at the TERI headquarters in New Delhi.

Unilever to retain tea business in India and Indonesia

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : Packaged consumer goods company Unilever on Thursday said it intends to retain its tea businesses in India and Indonesia, months after it announced a global a strategic review of the packaged tea business. Its tea business in other markets will be built as a separate entity going forward.

“In January Unilever announced a strategic review of its global tea business, which includes leading brands such as Lipton, Brooke Bond and PGTips. This review has assessed a full range of options. We will retain the tea businesses in India and Indonesia and the partnership interests in the ready-to-drink tea joint ventures,” the Anglo-Dutch company said on Thursday when it also announced first half results for 2020.

The remainder of the tea business will be hived off into a separate entity.

“The balance of Unilever’s tea brands and geographies and all tea estates have an exciting future, and this potential can best be achieved as a separate entity. A process will now begin to implement the separation, which is expected to conclude by the end of 2021,” the company said.

The tea business that will be separated generated revenues of €2 billion in 2019.

The news comes a few days after Hindustan Unilever Ltd., reported a stunning 51% quarterly jump in its foods and refreshments business in India as the lockdown prompted more households to buy its packaged coffee, tea and Kissan branded jams in the April to June quarter.

Its acquired Horlicks health foods drink brand grew well too during the quarter. Foods and refreshment revenue jumped 51.7% year-on-year, including GSK business, with nutrition, tea and coffee delivering good performance.

“Riding on the ‘In-home, wellness and immunity’ trends, Foods, Tea and Coffee delivered strong performance with double digit growths,” HUL that sells Dove, Rin and Sunsilk brands in India said earlier this week. Its domestic nutrition business performed well, the company added.

Indian direct selling industry records US$ 2.47 billion sales in 2019, ranks 15th globally

“Source:- IBEF”
The Indian direct selling industry has recorded sales of US$ 2.47 billion in 2019, reporting a growth of 12.1 per cent, according to a report by World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA).

India has improved its rank to the 15th from the earlier 19th a year before, said The Global Direct Selling – 2019 Retail Sales report by Washington-based WFDSA.

Furthermore, India stood at sixth position in terms of the number of direct sellers, providing employment to 57.50 lakh people.

Although, there was decline in the global direct selling industry of 4.3 per cent in sales to US$ 180.47 billion in 2019.

As per the report, with a contribution of 20 per cent of the global direct selling industry, the US is leading in the list with sales of US$ 35.21 billion, though it has registered a marginal de-growth of 0.4 per cent.

China contributed 13 per cent contribution, followed by Korea and Germany with 10 per cent each and 9 per cent by Japan.

This was a positive sign for the industry, Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA) said it targets to find space in the top five players globally much earlier than the previous estimates of a decade.

According to the association’s statement, India recorded the highest year-on-year growth and CAGR over three years, in top 20 Direct Selling markets around the world.

“India has recorded the highest year on year growth rate of 12.1 per cent and the highest CAGR of 16.3 per cent over the period of last three years, amongst the top 20 direct selling markets across the globe,” IDSA Chairperson Ms Rini Sanyal said.

According to a latest joint report by IDSA and data insight firm Kantar, the Indian direct selling industry has observed a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 16 per cent and grown from Rs 8,308 crore (US$ 1.18 billion) in 2015-16 to Rs 13,080 crore (US$ 1.86 billion) in 2018-19.

The leading segment in the chart of Direct Selling was wellness followed by cosmetics and personal care. The Indian Direct Selling Industry’s contribution to the exchequer stood at around Rs 2,500 crore (US$ 354.66 million) in 2018-19, said the IDSA report.

SpiceJet acqui-hires airline e-commerce technology company Travenues

“Source:-  The Hindu”
Budget carrier SpiceJet on Tuesday said it has acqui-hired the team and technology of the Bengaluru-based airline e-commerce technology company Travenues, a wholly-owned subsidiary of online travel platform ixigo.

The move would help SpiceJet in strengthening its e-commerce platforms, a release said.

In acqui-hiring, a relatively a new concept in the tech industry, the employees of a company are recruited rather than gaining the control of its products or services.

“We are glad to welcome team Travenues to SpiceJet. This acqui-hire will help SpiceJet strengthen its e-commerce platforms as we continue to innovate across multiple technology areas and achieve our vision of being the worldwide leader in aviation technology,” said Ashish Vikram, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, SpiceJet.

With this acqui-hire, the technology team of Travenues has joined SpiceJet.

SpiceJet will inherit the Travenues’ airline technology and commerce platform that specialises with its deep tech advancements in mobile apps, cross-selling, payments, ancillaries, among others, the release said.

“We are proud of the team and the full stack airline commerce suite we have built and we wish the SpiceJet team all the best in taking it to the next level with a talented and motivated team, said Chandramouli Gopalakrishnan, Chief Digital Officer, Travenues.

Founded last year, Travenues offers a comprehensive travel-tech optimised airline commerce and ancillary sales platform to air operators that allows for extensive customisation and personalisation.

Last year, Travenues had signed its first technology partnership with SpiceJet for digital transformation of its consumer-facing experiences.

Commenting on the deal, Rajnish Kumar, Co-founder & CTO, ixigo said, we are happy that we were able to incubate a startup and build a next generation platform with a tightly-knit team that can truly disrupt airline direct sales and airline commerce.”

Electric vehicle market likely to be Rs 50,000 crore opportunity in India by 2025: Report

MUMBAI: The electric vehicle  (EV) market is likely to be a Rs 50,000-crore opportunity in India by 2025, with two- and three-wheelers expected to drive higher electrification of the vehicles in the medium term in the wake of COVID-19, according to a report.

The report by Avendus Capital , which is an investment banking arm of financial services provider Avendus Group, also said the total cost of ownership (TCO) in case of low- and medium-speed electric two-wheelers  is already lower than internal combustion engine vehicles.

“With the present and projected level of EV penetration in the country, EVs in India could represent a Rs 500-billion opportunity by 2025. Two- and three-wheelers will lead the electrification movement in India in the medium term,” it said.

The report also said it expects 9 per cent penetration by 2024-25 in the two-wheeler segment and with the right  macroeconomic environment, the number can further go up to 16 per cent and while the segment could grow to Rs 12,000 crore by 2024-25.

E-rickshaw has also emerged as a large market in India in a short time frame even as a large part of this market is still unorganised and based on lead-acid batteries, the report stated.

It added that this market is expected to rapidly shift to lithium-ion battery and by 2024-25, as much as 40 per cent of the e-rickshaw market is expected to be li-ion based.

“Over the past decade, the economics of the technology used in this sector has improved significantly, and today, EVs make economic sense across multiple use cases,” said Koushik Bhattacharyya, director and head (industrials) at Avendus Capital, at the launch of the report.

He added that the inevitability of transition to EVs is accepted by the world, however, the timeline for mass adoption is still a topic for debate. “But, we believe that we are moving quickly towards a mobility regime where EVs become mainstream.”

The current COVID-19 situation is expected to accelerate the rate of adoption of EVs in the medium term as customers look for environment-friendly and cost-effective personal mobility solutions, and also because online commerce is fast becoming the norm, the report said.

“India represents the fourth-largest automobile market in the world and the second-largest two-wheeler market with around 20 million units. It is also a country with massive dependency on oil imports, with a USD 112 billion oil import bill in FY19,” added Bhattacharyya. He added that pollution in many Indian cities has reached alarming levels. “All these factors combined make a strong case for EV adoption in India.”

On the ownership cost of high-speed electric two-wheelers and other use cases such as retail four-wheelers and commercial vehicles, it said the TCO will become favourable as the battery prices drop further.

“E-auto makes economic sense on a TCO basis. We expect to see intensive action in this space going forward. We expect around 20 per cent EV penetration in e-auto category by FY25. We expect this segment to be Rs 40 billion (Rs 4,000 crore) by FY25,” said Ankit Singhal, vice-president (industrials) at Avendus Capital.

In the medium term, we expect the EV adoption in the four-wheeler category to stay limited to commercial or fleet applications. The overall penetration in the electric four-wheeler segment is expected to be about 2 per cent, he said.

With the right macroeconomic environment, it could go up to 5 per cent, he said adding, “We expect this segment to be Rs 100 billion (Rs 10,000 crore) by FY25.”

Avendus Capital said it expects factors mainly policy, battery cost, charging infrastructure and supply chain localisation driving the adoption of EVs in various segments in the country over the next decade.

On the commercial vehicle side, e-buses are expected to lead the category with regulatory push expected to drive this category, rather than TCO.

“We expect EV adoption in the bus category to be about 13 per cent by 2024-25 and segment to be Rs 60 billion (Rs 6,000 crore) by that time.

“Light commercial vehicles (less than 3.5 tonnes) in the EV category  also make TCO sense and we forecast about 4 per cent EV adoption in this segment by FY25, translating into a Rs 15 billion (Rs 1,500 crore) market opportunity,” Singhal said.

Welspun launches Rs 1100 crore manufacturing facility in Telangana

“Source:- Money Control”
Welspun Flooring Limited, a fully integrated and independent flooring vertical of the USD 2.7 billion Welspun Group, has launched its Rs 1,100 crore manufacturing facility at nearby Chandanvelly. Telangana minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao inaugurated the facility, a company press release said.

Spread across 200 acres, the state-of-the-art facility which employs 1600 people, will have a production capacity of40 million square metres annually.

Adjacent to this facility, Welspun Group is also establishing a manufacturing plant for its emerging business Advanced Textiles. The minister laid the foundation stone for the-unit, which will commence its functioning soon. The company will invest Rs 400 crore over a span of two financial years, it said.

Commenting on the launch, B K Goenka, Chairman, Welspun Groupsaid, “We are nowentering another exciting phase of our growth with foraying into the flooring segment. This emerging business is poised to benefit from the synergies with our existing businesses and large customer base, thereby creating a strong domestic as well as global growth opportunity. I am confident that through our new innovative product offerings in flooring, we will create a differentiation for ourselves to drive the next phase of our growth and further consolidate our global leadership position.”

Mukesh Ambani’s RIL overtakes Exxon to become world’s no 2 energy company

“Source:- Livemint”
Reliance Industries Ltd., controlled by Asia’s richest man, toppled ExxonMobil Corp. to become the world’s largest energy company after Saudi Aramco, as investors piled into the conglomerate lured by the Indian firm’s digital and retail forays.

Reliance, which manages the biggest refinery complex, gained 4.3% in Mumbai on Friday adding $8 billion to take its market value to $189 billion, while Exxon Mobil erased about $1 billion. Reliance’s shares have jumped 43% this year compared with a 39% drop in Exxon’s shares as refiners across the globe struggled with a plunge in fuel demand. Aramco with a market capitalization of $1.76 trillion is the world’s biggest energy company.

While the energy business accounted for about 80% of Reliance’s revenue in the year ended March 31, Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s plan to expand the company’s digital and retail arms has helped him attract $20 billion into the Jio Platforms Ltd. unit. That in turn helped add $22.3 billion to Ambani’s wealth this year, propelling him to the fifth spot in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Ambani’s dealmaking has lured investments from Google to Facebook Inc. into his digital platform in recent months. The 63-year-old tycoon has identified technology and retail as future growth areas in a pivot away from the energy businesses he inherited from his father who died in 2002.

Meanwhile, large scale global oil demand destruction — some 30 million barrels a day, or a third of regular usage, in April — sent energy markets into a second-quarter tailspin, from which they’ve only recently started to recover. Worst-in-a-generation oil prices combined with OPEC production cuts, collapsing refining margins and millions of barrels of unsold crude have hurt big oil companies including Exxon and Chevron Corp.

Mobile game developer Nazara buys 51 per cent stake in Paper Boat Apps

“Source:- Outlook India”
New Delhi :
Mobile game developer Nazara Technologies on Thursday said it has acquired a 51 per cent stake in Paper Boat Apps, which offers ”Kiddopia” learning app for pre-schoolers.

Under the transaction, Nazara has invested a total of Rs 83 crore in Paper Boat Apps in multiple tranches, valuing the company in excess of Rs 150 crore.

Paper Boat Apps has issued shares worth Rs 43 crore as part of the final tranche under the deal, Nazara founder and Managing Director Nitish Mittersain told PTI.

“Gamified edu-tech is the only way to deliver high-quality learning to such young kids on digital devices. Kiddopia is a perfect example of this overlap between gaming and learning, and their popularity amongst parents and kids speaks for itself,” he said.

According to him, about 20 million children are already part of its ecosystem and Kiddopia will help further strengthen Nazara”s position in the kid”s edutainment vertical.

Edu-tech startups are witnessing strong growth across markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic as schools and educational institutions are going online to conduct classes.

“Kiddopia is fast becoming one of the most successful ”Made in India” apps globally and is seeing strong usage in the North America market apart from India. The company is also looking at rapidly expanding into other geographies such as Europe and the Far East,” Mittersain said.

Kiddopia was launched in 2017 by husband and wife Anupam and Anshu Dhanuka, who own Paper Boat Apps. The app has been downloaded by more than 5 million users globally and currently has over 300,000 active subscribers.

“This investment has helped us focus on product enhancement and marketing, thereby leading to a 3X growth in subscriber base. We have just finished our best month and we expect our topline to grow 2X in annual revenues by March 2021,” Anupam Dhanuka said.

He also noted that the company will leverage Nazara”s network of 100 million monthly active users to grow Kiddopia”s subscriber base.

“As a leading preschool app in the US, we will now use the funding to replicate our success in countries across Europe, Latin America and Asia,” he added.

Nazara Technologies has been an aggressive investor in the gaming ecosystem and has invested in many gaming firms like Nextwave Multimedia, Halaplay Technologies, Nodwin Gaming, Qunami, and Bakbuck. It has consummated transactions worth USD 50 million in the last three years.

The company has also taken licensed mobile gaming rights for popular Indian IP characters like Chhota Bheem, Motu Patlu, Mighty Raju, Shikari Shambhu, Roll #21, Eena Meena Deeka, Oggy and the Cockroaches and Shin Chan in the kids” category.

Nazara is backed by investors, including West Bridge Capital, IIFL Special Opportunities Fund; Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Turtle Entertainment GmbH, the IP owner of the world”s largest esports franchise (ESL). PTI SR SHW RAM

Google to invest ₹33,737 cr in Reliance Jio Platforms

“Source:- Livemint”
Reliance Industries has announced a new stakeholder in Jio Platforms. The company has announced Google as a new strategic partner. The company has claimed that the search giant will invest 33,737 crore with a stake of 7.7%. This takes the total investment by stakeholders to 1,52,056 crore.

Before the Google announcement, Reliance Industries had sold stakes worth 1,18,318.45 crore which includes other investors like Facebook. While the lockdown and times of uncertainty hit the share values of most companies, Reliance Industries has managed to soar through by an increment of over 120% since the lockdown began in mid-March. Other major investors and collaborators from the tech world include chipset makers Intel and Qualcomm.

Globally, the company has managed to make space for itself in the list of top 50 most valuable publicly traded firms globally.

Mr. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said, “Google has empowered millions of Indians to access helpful information and, like Jio, is a force for change and innovation. We welcome Google onboard and are excited about our partnership for what it can deliver to Indians, from universalising Internet usage to deepening the new digital economy and providing a prime mover to India’s economic growth. Together, we hope to play a strong facilitative role in the transformative journey of building a new, Digital India.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai also spoke at the Reliance AGM, confirming the tech company’s strategic partnership in India with Jio Platforms.

Mr. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said, “Reliance Industries, and Jio Platforms in particular, deserve a good deal of credit for India’s digital transformation. The pace and scale of digital transformation in India is hugely inspiring for us and reinforces our view that building products for India first helps us build better products for users everywhere. Google is proud to invest  33,737 crore into Jio. I am excited that our joint collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of Indians who don’t currently own a smartphone while improving the mobile experience for all.”

Reliance Industries conducted its 43rd annual general meeting (AGM) for the first time through a virtual medium, given the current Covid crisis.

Explained: What the $10 billion investment means for Google, and India

“Source:- Indian Express”
Tech-giant Google Monday announced plans to invest $10 billion in India over the next 5-7 years by way of equity investments, partnerships and other arrangements to “accelerate digitisation” in the country.

The announcement assumes particular significance given the impending gap in the country’s tech investment ecosystem following the Centre’s clampdown on Chinese technology firms.

How will Google invest from the $10-billion fund?

Google said its $10-billion fund would focus on areas such as enabling affordable access to the Internet and to information for every Indian in their own language; building new products and services in segments like consumer tech, education, health and agriculture; empowering businesses, especially small and medium ones, to transform digitally; leveraging technology and artificial intelligence for digital literacy, outbreak predictions, and support for rural economies.

These investments will be made through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, operations, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. These include Google’s existing projects such as Internet Saathi for spreading awareness of the Internet in rural villages and an artificial intelligence-based flood forecasting system, among others.

Is this a reaction to the curbs on Chinese companies?

While the fund may have been in the works since before the clampdown on Chinese companies, the development did present an opportunity for tech majors like Google to grow their share in India’s internet pie.

Big technology companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter are, in any case, prohibited from doing business in China. Potential hurdles for Chinese companies investing in India could provide better prospects for American giants to strengthen their position in a market which has the second-most Internet users in the world.

What are Google’s top investments in India so far?

Google has invested in various startups and ventures in India through several of its investment vehicles. On November 1, 2013, the company invested Rs 3.13 crore in Sana Ventures in the seed funding round, and Rs 3 crore in Agastya International Foundation.

Since then, it has invested in $45,000,000 in Dunzo and Rs 39 crore in the online education portal CueMath.

In its latest investment on June 24, Google put $27,500,000 in the Series E funding of a Gurugram-based company Aye Finance.

How does this compare with Google’s global investments in tech ventures?

Compared with its global investments, investment in India dwarves, but the $10 billion as part of the ‘Google for India Digitization Fund’ will boost Indian companies in Google’s portfolio. Between January 1, 2010 and July 13 this year, Google and its venture capital arms have invested in more than 900 companies globally. Among these, it has the maximum investments of $1.5 billion in Indonesian multi-service startup Gojek, $1 billion in ride-sharing firm Lyft, $1.4 billion in its rival Uber, and $1 billion in Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

How does this announcement figure in big-tech’s outlook on India?

Google’s investment plan is in line with big-tech’s bullish outlook on India. Earlier this year, Amazon said it would invest an additional $1 billion in India. This was followed by a marquee investment announcement of $5.7 billion by Facebook in the country’s largest telecom company Reliance Jio. Last month, Microsoft’s venture fund M12 said it would open an office in India to pursue investment opportunities focusing on B2B software startups.

 

Indian online grocery market can exceed $3 billion sales in 2020: Sanjiv Goenka

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI:  The Indian online grocery market could exceed sales of USD 3 billion (about Rs 22,500 crore) in 2020, a substantial 76 per cent jump over the previous year, Spencer’s Retail Chairman Sanjiv Goenka said. The preference for online delivery of products became more visible following the COVID-19 outbreak, he added.

Spencer’s Retail, part of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka (RPSG) Group, had acquired online supermarket and grocery store Nature’s Basket in July 2019.

Consumers opted to buy essentials and other products from home in a bigger way than they had done in the past, he said.

“The result is that India’s online grocery market could exceed USD 3 billion in sales in 2020, a substantial 76 per cent increase over the previous year following a demand spike for the home delivery of fresh produce,” Goenka said in his address to shareholders in the company’s Annual Report for 2019-20.

With increased access to smartphones and low data costs, shoppers now prefer an omni-channel shopping experience, he added.

Spencers Retail is attractively positioned to capitalise on the omni-channel opportunity, he said.

“The company did not just respond to this sectoral inflexion point with a relevant mobile application and home delivery; it invested in enhancing proximity to consumers through phone call-based delivery, Chatbots and WhatsApp-driven product delivery using its stores as hubs,” Goenka said.

Besides, the retail chain collaborated with Uber  and other delivery partners for product supply, strengthening its last-mile capability.

According to Spencer’s Retail CEO Devendra Chawla, the company’s online business experienced a milestone in FY20 where it not only consistently scaled the number of monthly active users but also positively turned around its unit-level economics.

“Our unit-level economics grew 45 per cent with a substantial increase of 125 per cent in our registered customer base. On the overall, the number of orders grew 175 per cent, which helped us significantly moderate delivery costs,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company operated 90 per cent of its stores across the country

“We will accelerate our transformation and deepen our relevance,” said Goenka. “We believe that our competitiveness will be derived from omni-channel consumer access, judicious store rollout, distinctive positioning in the minds of our consumers, a balance of lifestyle and essential products, a shift towards nonfood & apparel in the product mix.”

Headquartered in Kolkata, Spencer’s Retail operates 191 stores (including Nature’s Basket) of various formats in 42 cities.

Spencer’s Retail posted a revenue of Rs 2,373.29 crore in FY 2019-20.

Apple supplier Foxconn plans to invest US$ 1 billion in India: Sources

“Source:- IBEF”
Foxconn plans to invest up to US$ 1 billion to expand a factory in southern India where the Taiwanese contract manufacturer assembles Apple iPhones.

This is can be considered as a move by the company to shift its base because of the disruptions from a trade war between Beijing and Washington and the coronavirus crisis.

“There’s a strong request from Apple to its clients to move part of the iPhone production out of China,” according to one of the sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Though, there was no official statement by Foxconn or Apple regarding the matters.

The investment is planned over the course of next three years in the Sriperumbur plant, where Apple’s iPhone XR is made some 50 km west of Chennai. It is expected to manufacture other iPhones models at the plant.

Foxconn is headquartered in Taipei and will add some 6,000 jobs at the Sriperumbur plant in Tamil Nadu state under the plan. The company also operates a separate plant in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where it makes smartphones for China’s Xiaomi Corp, among others.

Last month, Foxconn Chairman Mr Liu Young-way has said it would ramp up its investment in India, without giving details.

In India, the world’s second-biggest smartphone market, Apple holds about 1 per cent of smartphone sales here. iPhones is status symbol in India because of its pricey nature.

This move is also expected to help Apple save on import taxes that further push up its prices.

Apple assembles a few models through Taiwan’s Wistron Corp in the southern tech hub of Bengaluru. Wistron is also set to open a new plant, where it plans to make more Apple devices.

“With India’s labour cheaper compared with China, and the gradual expansion of its supplier base here, Apple will be able to use the country as an export hub,” Mr Neil Shah of Hong Kong-based tech researcher Counterpoint said.

The government of India has been working to boost electronics manufacturing by firms such as Foxconn and launched a US$ 6.65 billion plan last month, offering five global smartphone makers incentives to establish or expand domestic production.

This is move of manufacturing locally is expected to be a boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship “Make in India” drive, aimed at creating new jobs.

Milk production is expected to touch 330 million tons by 2024, says dairy minister

“Source:- Agri Times”
NEW DELHI : Indian minister for animal husbandry and dairying Giriraj Singh today while launching the implementation guidelines for Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) worth INR 15,000 crore said by 2024, country’s milk production is expected to touch 330 million tonnes.

While speaking at the launch, the minister said, “India is producing milk of 188 million tonnes and only 20 percent to 25 percent milk is coming under processing sector and government is trying to bring the same up to 40 percent.”

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for announcing the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund (AHIDF), Giriraj Singh said that India is engaged in breed improvement to increase milk production and on the other hand also taking care of the processing sector and informed that the Dairy Processing Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) is being implemented for infrastructure development in cooperative sector and AHIDF is a first type of scheme for private sector.

Millions of farmers will be benefited once the infrastructure is created and more milk will be processed. This will also increase export of dairy products which is presently negligible. India needs to go up to the standards of countries like New Zealand in the Dairy sector, Singh stressed.

Expressing satisfaction that during Covid-19 lockdown, dairy farmers could maintain steady supply of milk to the consumers in the country, the minister said that government has been implementing several schemes for incentivizing the investment made by dairy cooperative sector for development of dairy infrastructure. The AHIDF has been set up as MSMEs and Private companies also need to be promoted and incentivized for their involvement in processing and value addition infrastructure.

AHIDF to facilitate investment in dairy sector

AHIDF would facilitate much needed incentivisation of investments in establishment of such infrastructure for dairy and meat processing and value addition infrastructure and establishment of animal feed plant in the private sector.

The eligible beneficiaries under the Scheme would be Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), MSMEs, Section 8 Companies, Private Companies and individual entrepreneurs with minimum 10 percent margin money contribution by them. The balance 90 percent would be the loan component to be made available by scheduled banks. Government of India will provide 3% interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries. There will be 2 years moratorium period for principal loan amount and 6 years repayment period thereafter.

Government to set up Credit Guarantee Fund

Government of India would also set up Credit Guarantee Fund of INR 750 crore to be managed by National Bank for Agriculture and rural Development (NABARD). Credit guarantee would be provided to those sanctioned projects which are covered under MSME defined ceilings. Guarantee Coverage would be up to 25 percent of Credit facility of borrower.

The beneficiaries intending to invest for establishing dairy and meat processing and value addition infrastructure or strengthening of the existing infrastructure can apply for loan in the scheduled bank through ‘Udyami Mitra’ portal of SIDBI.

Huge potential for private sector in dairy

There is huge potential waiting to be unlocked in investment through private sector. The INR 15,000 crore AHIDF and the interest subvention scheme for private investors will ensure availability of capital to meet upfront investment required for these projects and also help enhance overall returns/ pay back for investors.

Such investments in processing and value addition infrastructure by eligible beneficiaries would also promote export of these processed and value added commodities.

Since, almost 50 percent to 60 percent of final value of dairy output in India flows back to farmers, therefore, growth in this sector can have significant direct impact on farmer’s income. Size of dairy market and farmers’ realization from milk sales is closely linked with development of organized off-take by cooperative and private dairies.

Fund will provide employment to 35 lakh people

Thus, investment incentivization in AHIDF would not only leverage 7 times private investment but would also motivate farmers to invest more on inputs thereby driving higher productivity leading to increase in farmers’ incomes. The measures approved through AHIDF would also help in direct and indirect livelihood creation for 35 lakh persons.

Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Pratap Chandra Sarangi said that Government has decided to vaccinate 53.5 crore animals and 4 crore animals have already been vaccinated. Breed improvement is taking place through technology intervention.

However, we are lagging behind in processing sector. Using the AHIDF, processing plants can be established for fodder also. This will help in doubling farmers’ incomes and also contribute in achieving Prime Minister’s dream of a USD $ 5 trillion economy.

Qualcomm picks 0.15 per cent stake in Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms for Rs 730 cr

“Source:- Hindustan Times”
Qualcomm Ventures has picked up 0.15 per cent stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 730 crore, Reliance Industries said on Sunday.

Qualcomm is the 12th investor in Jio Platforms in as many weeks.

“Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, an industry leader in wireless technologies, has committed to invest up to Rs 730 crore in Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore.

“Qualcomm Ventures’ investment will translate into 0.15 per cent equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis,” the company said in a statement.

 

Facebook makes education push in India

“Source:- Tech Crunch”
Facebook,  which reaches more users than any other international firm in India, has identified a new area of opportunity to further spread its tentacles in the world’s second-largest internet market.

On Sunday, the social juggernaut announced it had partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in India, to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.

Through these subjects, Facebook and CBSE aim to prepare secondary school students for current and emerging jobs, and help them develop skills to safely browse the internet, make “well informed choices” and think about their mental health, they said.

Facebook said it will provide training in various phases. In the first phase, more than 10,000 teachers will be trained; in the second, they will coach 30,000 students. The three-week training on AR will cover fundamentals of the nascent technology, and ways to make use of Facebook’s Spark AR Studio to create augmented reality experiences.

“I encourage the teachers and students to apply for the programs commencing on July 6, 2020,” said Ramesh Pokhriyal, Union Minister of Human Resources Development in India, in a statement.

Facebook has in recent years ramped up its efforts to create awareness about the ill side of technology as its platform confronts misuse of its own services in the country. Last year it partnered with telecom giant Reliance Jio Platforms — in which it would eventually invest $5.7 billion — to launch “Digital Udaan,” the “largest ever digital literacy program” for first-time internet users in the country. India is the biggest market for Facebook by user count.

Instagram’s  Guide for Building Healthy Digital Habits, which has been developed in collaboration with the Jed Foundation and Young Leaders for Active Citizenship, aims to help youngsters better understand the “socio-emotional space” they operate in and engage in health conversations.

“I am proud to share that CBSE is the only Board that has introduced the modules of Digital Safety and Online Well-being, Instagram Toolkit for Teens and Augmented Reality. Incorporating technology and digital safety into school curriculum will ensure students are not only gaining knowledge to succeed in the digital economy but also learning and collaborating in a safe online environment,” said Manoj Ahuja, chairperson of CBSE, in a statement.

The announcement today caps a remarkable week in India that started with New Delhi blocking nearly 60 services developed by Chinese firms over cybersecurity concerns. TikTok, one of the services that has been hit by India’s order, identified Asia’s third-largest economy as its biggest market outside of China.

The service, run by Chinese giant ByteDance, reaches more than 200 million users in India, most of whom live in small towns and cities. TikTok  began working with scores of content creators and firms in India last year to populate its short-form video service with educational videos.

Agritech sector could attract over $500 mn in VC investment: report

“Source:- Outlook India”
New Delhi- Investments from venture capital firms in agri-tech startups are expected to exceed USD 500 million (around Rs 3,730 crore) in the next two years as entities engaged in helping farmers, enabling financing for them and enhancing farm mechanisation attract significant interest, a report by Maple Capital Advisors said on Monday.

India”s agritech sector attracted about USD 245 million in investments from venture capital firms in 2019, the report titled ”India Agritech – Investment Trends” said.

“The golden age of Indian agriculture may well have just begun backed by unparalleled digital access to farmers, overarching reforms and government support. The farmer as a consumer and a producer is now being empowered by access to information, inputs, farm to fork linkages and financing support,” Maple Capital Advisors managing Director Pankaj Karna said.

He added that the investment momentum is expected to continue on back of significant reforms and digital inclusion.

The report said there are more than 500 active agritech startups in the country that are working towards solving the problems and challenges in the agriculture sector. The agritech revolution has empowered farmers to get better quality inputs, timely information, access to markets and thereby, the potential to yield higher income levels, it added.

“Farm and fork linkages model is expected to continue to attract major investments in years to come,” the report said.

It noted that the government has announced a number of policy measures for the agriculture sector, and these steps are expected to strengthen infrastructure logistics and capacity building. It also paves the path for increased private sector participation across the farm-to-fork chain.

Notable deals in 2019 and 2020 included Tiger Global investing USD 89 million in Ninjacart, AgroStar raising USD 27 million in funding led by Bertelsmann India, and fresh produce distribution startup WayCool receiving USD 17 million from LGT Impact, Caspian and Northern Arc, it added. PTI SR SHW SHW

Unacademy acquires PrepLadder for $50 million

“Source:- Livemint”
MUMBAI: Facebook-backed online learning platform Unacademy has acquired ed-tech startup PrepLadder for $50 million. The Chandigarh-based startup primarily provides preparatory help with medical entrance exams.

The acquisition highlights how ed-tech startups are favourites of investors in current times. In the first six months of 2020, venture capital investors pumped in $795 million in the segment compared with $108 million in the year-ago period.

This move will strengthen Unacademy’s presence in medical entrance examination category such as NEET PG and FMGE. As a part of its inorganic growth strategy, Unacademy recently acquired Kreatryx and took over the custodianship of CodeChef.

Started in 2016, PrepLadder specialises in medical examinations and provides access to education services and preparation material for exams such as NEET PG, AIIMS PG, NEET SS, and FMGE. Founded by Deepanshu Goyal, Vitul Goyal, and Sahil Goyal, the company claims to have over 85,000 active subscribers.

“As we strengthen our position as a market leader in the test prep market, bringing PrepLadder on board will play a strategic role for Unacademy in the medical entrance examinations category. PrepLadder is doing great work in its field and we hope they go into more markets and continue this work,” said Gaurav Munjal, founder and CEO, Unacademy.

Deepanshu Goyal, co-Founder, PrepLadder said, “We are extremely happy to be a part of the largest learning platform in India. Unacademy and PrepLadder are working towards the common goal of making quality education accessible to all. We believe that the synergies between both products will truly create a mark in the industry.”

In February, Unacademy raised $110 million from social networking giant Facebook and US private equity firm General Atlantic at a post-money valuation of $510 million.

Existing investors Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital and Blume Ventures also participated in the round, apart from investments by Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Udaan cofounder Sujeet Kumar in their individual capacities.

In the last three months, Unacademy has recorded a 100% increase in its paid subscriber base given the emphasis on online learning. The average daily watch time across Unacademy platforms has also risen significantly, with monthly watch time minutes at an all-time high of over 1 billion.

Over 525,000 learners attempted various mock tests on the platform for competitive examinations such as UPSC, NEET-PG, and CAT among others during this period.

With schools shut because of the coronavirus pandemic, online learning platforms have stepped in to fill the gap – providing investors with robust prospects.

Ed tech funding has largely been led by Byju’s, now valued at $10.5 billion, after Tiger Global invested $200 million in the entity in January.

India ranks 34th in Global Real Estate Transparency Index 2020 by JLL

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line ”
India’s real estate industry has registered one of the largest improvements globally and regionally in Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) biennial Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI).

The country ranks 34th globally on the index, with higher levels of transparency observed in India due to regulatory reforms, enhanced market data, and sustainability initiatives, JLL mentioned in its official release.

JLL stated that the improvement is led by the progress in the country’s Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) framework attracting greater interest from institutional investors.

India has also edged into the top 20 for Sustainability Transparency through the active role of organizations like the Indian Green Building Council and Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment.

The 2020 Index is launched at a time of massive economic and societal disruption where the need for transparent processes, accurate and timely data, and high ethical standards are in closer focus.

The backdrop of Covid-19 is also ensuring that transparency within Asia Pacific’s real estate legal and regulatory systems is more important than ever to global investors as they look to deploy approximately $40 billion* in dry powder capital into the region.

Speaking on India’s rank, Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head (India) JLL said in an official statement: “India has seen a steady improvement in the Global Transparency Index over the years. In fact, along with Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam, we are among the handful of countries that have seen the highest improvement owing to positive governmental support and an enhanced ecosystem of transparency.”

He added: “In particular, the national REIT framework has been a major contributor to transparency in India, and with ongoing progress and governance, will continue to attract more interest from institutional investors.”

According to him, India has also edged into the top 20 for Sustainability Transparency through the active role of organizations like the Indian Green Building Council and Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment.

“I see these as extremely positive signs of how much we have covered in the real estate sector and a strong base in which to build on transparency gains,” he believes.

According to JLL, pressure exists from investors, businesses, and consumers to further improve real estate transparency to compete with other asset classes and meet heightened expectations. This also pushed further the industry’s role in providing a sustainable and resilient built environment in the age of Covid-19. Furthermore, innovative new property technology (proptech) is changing how real estate data is gathered and interpreted, and influencing industry transparency at a regulatory level.

“While investment into commercial real estate has inevitably paused during the pandemic, the overarching trend toward rising allocations to this asset class will continue. As investors look to allocate more capital into Asia Pacific real estate, transparency becomes fundamentally more important, as will the enforcement of robust regulatory frameworks,” said Dr. Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head – Research & REIS, India, JLL.

The rankings have six Asia Pacific markets – Mainland China (32nd), Thailand (33rd), India (34th), Indonesia (40th), Philippines (44th) and Vietnam (56th) – among the top 10 biggest improvers globally. Mature markets such as Australia (3rd) and New Zealand (6th) have maintained their positions near the top of the global ranking.

Over the last decade, India has shown promising developments and is now at the cusp of being ‘Transparent’ within the GRETI 2020 rankings. At the same time, India’s rank in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Ranking’ improved significantly from 142 in 2014 to 63 in 2019.

Amongst the indicators, India’s ranking for ease in obtaining construction permits witnessed the highest jump from 182 to 27 in the same period.

Within the realty sector, key structural reforms made in the recent past include the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act 2016 (RERA), GST, Benami Transaction Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2016, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, digitization of land records, among others.

JLL has been tracking real estate transparency since 1999. This 11th edition of GRETI covers 99 countries and territories, and 163 city regions. This latest survey has been extended to quantify 210 separate elements of transparency, with additional coverage on sustainability and resilience, health and wellness, proptech, and alternatives sectors.

Amazon parent invests Rs 2,310 crore in Indian unit

“Source:- IBEF”
Amazon.com, Inc. has invested about Rs 2,310 crore (US$ 327.71 million) into Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd, its marketplace unit in India, according to filings with the corporate affairs ministry.

These new funds are expected to help the US e-commerce giant to expand its seller network in India, where a three-month-long strict lockdown aimed at curbing COVID-19 has severely disrupted businesses.

Amazon Corporate Holdings Pvt. Ltd, a Singapore entity, and Amazon.com has made the investment, which was approved by the board of Amazon Seller Services at a meeting on 25 June.

This is the second investment done by the company this year in the Indian marketplace. In January 2020, the company infused over Rs 2,500 crore (US$ 354.66 million) into Amazon Seller Services and Amazon Data Services India.

According to the latest data available, Amazon Seller Services decreased its loss 9.5 per cent year-on-year to Rs 5,685 crore (US$ 806.50 million) for fiscal year 2018-19. Revenues surged 55 per cent to Rs 7,778 crore (US$ 1.10 billion) in 2018-19.

Amazon founder Mr Jeff Bezos pledged US$ 1 billion in new investments to help take small Indian businesses online, as he pulled out all the stops to encourage local merchants, and the government amid regulatory scrutiny and protests by traders.

These investments are expected to help around 10 million small and medium businesses, including manufacturers, resellers, local offline shops, and brands.

More than 600,000 sellers are currently listed on the Amazon marketplace.

In April 2020, the online retailer announced plans to invest Rs 10 crore (US$ 1.42 million) in ramping up a pilot programme that saw Amazon Seller Services reach out to 5,000 local stores selling electronics, apparel, toys, furniture, grocery, home furnishings, to list on its platform as the company continues to expand its range of sellers and products.

The company has extended its work with India’s small business owners, manufacturers, and suppliers. It has been working in attracting more sellers and partnering into its fold to grow its share in the country’s retail market.

In the meantime, large Indian e-commerce firms have been moving up to provide increased support to their seller ecosystem, to guarantee business continuity, after the lockdowns heavily impacted the operations of small and medium-sized businesses.

Amazon has Walmart-owned Flipkart as its competitor in India. Flipkart has also been ramping up its seller network.

As the offline retail has become challenging with current situation, online retail is gaining momentum with the gradual unlocking of businesses.

In May 2020, Amazon said that its India operations were the worst-affected across all its operations worldwide by the pandemic as the Indian government ordered the company to halt the sales of almost all items but groceries during the lockdown that was first imposed on 25 March.

Flipkart Group invests ₹260 crore in Arvind Youth Brands

“Source:- The Hindu”
Flipkart Group has invested ₹260 crore to acquire a significant minority stake in Arvind Youth Brands, a subsidiary of Arvind Fashions Ltd (AFL).

Flipkart Group is part of Walmart comprises Flipkart, Myntra and PhonePe.

Arvind Youth Brands owns the Flying Machine brand. An iconic Indian brand with a 40-year legacy, Flying Machine has been retailing on the Flipkart Group platforms of Flipkart and Myntra for more than six years.

Through this investment, Flipkart Group and Arvind Fashions will work collaboratively to identify opportunities and synergies to innovate and develop products with strong value propositions at attractive price points, the companies said in a joint statement.

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group, said, “Through this investment, we look forward to partnering with the team at Arvind Youth Brands to continue to grow the market for its portfolio of products and enhance the strong brand equity that has been built over the last few decades.”

J. Suresh, MD and CEO Arvind Fashions, said, “The partnership with the Flipkart Group will help us accelerate our online growth strategy as we focus our efforts on developing an omni-channel retail approach for Arvind Youth Brands and Flying Machine.

“Given the strong existing relationship with the Flipkart Group, and their presence in online fashion, it was an obvious choice for us to enter into this engagement through which Flipkart and Myntra will be our preferred online partner for the Flying Machine brand, while we continue to grow our offline sales through channels like exclusive brand stores, department stores and multi-brand stores,” he added.

The transaction is subject to customary conditions.

Tritium to work with TATA AutoComp to supply DC fast chargers for electric vehicles

“Source:- Austrade”
India’s highly respected TATA Group has selected Australian industry leader Tritium for its DC fast-charging expertise.

Tritium Pty Ltd is a technology company specialising in the design and manufacture of direct current (DC) fast-charging solutions for electric vehicles (EV). It was established in 2001 and is one of Australia’s fastest growing technology companies, with significant operations and commercial success in leading international EV markets.

India prioritises clean and sustainable mobility

In a sign of India’s growing attention to sustainable transport infrastructure, one the country’s leading automotive and mobility component suppliers, Tata AutoComp Systems of Pune, has entered into a partnership with Tritium to supply DC chargers for electric vehicles. Tritium’s Veefil-RT DC fast chargers are capable of charging a range of EVs including two-wheeler, passenger and commercial vehicles.

In March 2019, the Indian Government introduced the FAME II scheme for the “faster adoption and manufacture of (hybrid and) electric” vehicles. It includes Rs10 billion (approximately A$20 million) to set up charging stations in large metros and other smart cities as well as more remote locations.

India has already committed to reductions in the use of fossil fuels, and has set a target that will see 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduced by a third from 2005 levels. Rapid urbanisation is creating pressure on an already fragile environment and India is home to 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, according to a recent WHO study.

The country is also keen to reduce its dependency on oil as it imports 80 per cent of its transportation fuel needs. Against this backdrop, the FAME II initiative demonstrates clear intent on the part of the government to prioritise a more sustainable and cleaner environment.

Australian leadership in the EV charging sector

Tata AutoComp has established a significant presence in the Indian automotive component market with a range of strategic partnerships in products and services for Indian (and international) original equipment manufacturers. It has 7,000 employees and is active across vehicle segments.

Commenting on the decision to partner with Tritium for the supply of EV fast chargers, the MD and CEO of Tata AutoComp, Arvind Goel indicated that with the arrival of EVs, the need for chargers capable of powering them is significant. He confirmed that the company, part of India’s TATA Group, is striving to bring the latest technology and solutions to its customers.

Tritium is a company that is focused on helping create cleaner, healthy and more convenient cities. It aims to support this by providing energy freedom to EV owners and drivers using an ecosystem of intelligent charging products that help speed up the transition to e-mobility.

Tritium holds a dominant market share in many significant EV markets and has installed its Veefil fast chargers in over 30 countries. It has an estimated 25 per cent market share in the US, 50 per cent in Norway, 20 per cent in the UK and 90 per cent in Australia.

Its entry into the nascent but potentially enormous market of India was supported by the Indian network of Austrade, with introductions to some of the key stakeholders in the EV infrastructure space.

In a market where the badge of government can often be helpful, Austrade also made introductions for Tritium to private corporates and assisted in organising a trip for key TATA AutoComp stakeholders to Tritium’s cutting-edge Brisbane manufacturing facility in Australia.

Looking ahead to the future

Although EVs accounted for only 2 million of the 86 million passenger cars sold worldwide in 2018, experts are almost unanimous in their assertion that the shift to e-mobility is both imminent and inevitable.

In India, the two- and three-wheeler market has seen the first significant changes. Low cost e-rickshaws, offering last-mile connectivity, racked up sales of more than 600,000 units in 2019.

The passenger car segment will be slower to evolve as the Indian market is currently constrained by the purchasing power of its drivers. Although it is the world’s largest market for small cars, fewer than 50 per cent of sales occur at prices above A$12,000. Furthermore, the lack of EV charging infrastructure in India to date still acts as a brake on sales of electric vehicles.

This may help explain why a recent report by Bloomberg forecasts Indian EV passenger car penetration of only 6 per cent by 2030. However, rapid growth is expected to see this reach 28 per cent by 2040, making India the world’s fourth largest EV market in the world in the next 20 years.

Austrade is currently working with a number of companies developing opportunities in India’s sustainable infrastructure and built environment sectors. Australia’s leading expertise and innovation is increasingly in demand in the world’s fastest-growing large economy.

 

Convergent Finance invests US$ 14 million in Jyoti Foods

“Source:- IBEF”
Convergent Finance LLP, the Mumbai based private equity fund, invested Rs 107 crore (US$ 14.1 million) in Jyoti International Foods, an end-to-end Supply Chain solution provider in Indian food services industry, for acquiring a minority stake.

According to company’s statement, this investment will be utilised for technology upgradation and new market development besides as an equity tap to undertake mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and business expansions plans.

Jyoti offers it service to a wide range of customers within the food services, quick-service restaurants (QSRs), cloud kitchens and cinemas. It also provides a variety of solutions – managing end-to-end logistics, warehousing, and procurement planning. The company was set up in 2005 and has clientele including Subway, Rebel Foods, Cinepolis, Chili’s, Holiday Inn among others, across 150 plus cities in 25 states across the country.

“We are really excited and look forward to this new partnership which will assist and guide us to scale up our business, thereby enabling us to become the market leader in providing world class end-to-end SCM solutions. We intend to draw upon the deep expertise of the Convergent team in M&As,” said Mr Akhil Puri, Managing Director of Jyoti.

“Given our track record of working with great platform companies to help transform them into global leaders, Jyoti will benefit from our network of relationships, strategic insights and operational expertise,” said Mr Harsha Raghavan, Managing Partner at Convergent.

Convergent Finance acquired a minority stake in Hindustan Foods Limited, a contract manufacturer for the FMCG industry, in February last year, as its debut deal. Hindustan Foods manufactures a range of products in food and non-food, extending to cosmetics, personal care, and home care products.

Convergent is led by Mr Harsha Raghavan, an industry veteran who previously founded and led Fairfax’s investment activities in India.

Milkbasket raises US$ 5.5 million funding led by Inflection Point Ventures

“Source:- IBEF”
Milkbasket, a grocery delivery platform, has raised US$ 5.5 million as a part of its ongoing series B round led by the Inflection Point Ventures.

The round also saw participation from existing investors including Blume Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Mayfield India, Unilever Ventures and BeeNext.

Though, the valuation at which the funds were raised was not disclosed.

So far, Milkbasket has raised over US$ 33 million in funding.

“This is probably our last fundraise on our path to profitability – that we target to achieve in 2020. Our Gurgaon, Noida and Bengaluru operations are already breaking even with other cities on an accelerated track,” Milkbasket co-founder and CEO Mr Anant Goel said.

He added that these funds will “provide a further boost in our efforts to achieve the same and necessary buffers to deal with any eventualities”.

Presently, Milkbasket serves over 1.3 lakh households and offers over 9,000 products across fruits and vegetables, dairy, bakery and other FMCG categories. The company is operational in Gurugram, Noida, Dwarka, Ghaziabad, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru.

“…Milkbasket has a very lean delivery model using the milk-run concept that enables them to run a very efficient and cost-effective supply chain. This will help them become profitable very soon and first among the various competitive players in the market,” Mr Vinay Bansal, Founder CEO of Inflection Point Ventures said.

Unicorn India Ventures invests $6,50,000 in Blockchain startup ChitMonks

“Source:-  CXO Today”

Mumbai-based early stage venture capital Fund house Unicorn India Ventures has announced second investment from Rs 400 crore Fund II in a Hyderabad based Fintech/Blockchain startup ChitMonks. The Company has raised $6,50,000 in a pre-series A round from UIV.

ChitMonks has developed a Blockchain-based product empowering the state government regulators to administerChit fund operations across the state on a private permissioned Blockchain network. They are extending their services to Chit fund companies of any size and anywhere in India,by digitally enabling them with process efficiency (payment collections, online* auctions, eKYC, eSign etc), better underwriting (bank statement analysis, credit profiling, credit liabilities) and making their offerings more inclusive.

Bhaskar Majumdar, Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures, says, “Even before the current Covid 19 scenario, we saw the potential in ChitMonks to revolutionize the current antiquated system of the chit fund industry by bringing the whole ecosystem online. It is in-line with our philosophy of investing in businesses which can digitize current processes and make them more transparent and accessible.”

Chit Fund as an asset class has been serving millions of subscribers since ages long before banking expanded to its current state. But as a sector, chit funds and their companies don’t enjoy goodwill from govts, new generation customers and other stakeholders. According to ChitMonks’ research there are about 30,000 registered chit fund companies in India, which are operating registered Chit fund business with approximately Rs1,50,000 crore AUM (Asset Under Management).

Pavan Adipuram, Co-founder, CEO ChitMonks, says, “Our team comes from a strong finance and tech background hence fintech as a space was a natural choice. Based on our research in the fintech space, we believed that foundational technologies likeBlockchainfor fintech products were redefining the trust and transparency at a new dimension. We believed that such technologies can redefine chit funds and they can re-emerge as a bonafide sector where retail investors can invest and borrow money in a trustless manner.” Getting backing from Unicorn India Ventures lends credibility to our vision and proves that we are not the only one who thinks some old economy sectors need a new age shake up and a pinch of technology to usher them in the digital transformation world and beyond, he adds.

The funds raised will be used for product development, market expansion, strategic hiring and further investment in scaling up the current business.

About ChitMonks

Founded in 2016, ChitMonks a product from Pangean Global Services Pvt Ltd with a singular vision of – “Making investments in Chit Funds more Accessible, Credible and Rewarding”, is tirelessly working with all the relevant stakeholders to build a Financially Inclusive Bharat with chit funds at its core. Building India’s largest Blockchain network for Savings and Borrowings, ChitMonks synergizes Chit Fund Companies, Regulators, Subscribers, Banks, Service providers, EcoSystem enablers to drive the largest trusted network of Savers and Borrowers platform. ChitMonks ecosystem will stand for three things Trust, Efficiency and Inclusion. Their product has been awarded Gold at National level for implementing emerging technologies like Blockchain to bring trust in administrative process of Chit fund operations.

About Unicorn India Ventures

Unicorn India Ventures is a Mumbai-based fund house started in 2015 by Anil Joshi and BhaskarMajumdar. The Fund House has also launched a UK India cross border fund for funding UK startups looking to enter India and have invested in 6 UK startups so far. From its first fund, UIV has invested in 18 companies like VLCC VanityCube, Inc42, Sequretek, Pharmarack, GrabonRent, Inntot, Genrobotic, SectorQube, Perfit, NeuroEquilibrium, SmartCoin, Open Bank, Boxx.ai, Clootrack and Openapp. Unicorn India has also announced Fund II, which is a Rs 400 crore fund launched in 2019. It has also marked its first close $12 million and has announced 2 investments.

MCL plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore in Odisha in five years

“Source:- IBEF”
Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) in Odisha by 2025-26.

According to the company’s official statement, the investment will be focused in acquisition of land for three new Mine, Develop and Operate projects, namely Siarmal (50 MTY) in Ib Valley coalfields, Subhadra (25 MTY) and Balbhadra North (10 MTY) in Talcher coalfields, as well as expansion of existing projects. It targets to increase its coal production capacity to 300 million tonnes (MT) in about three years.

In order to increase the capacity building for the new and expansion of existing projects, the company plans to invest in procurement of heavy machinery, besides setting-up of 1600 megawatt (MW) (2×800) super critical thermal power plant with planned investment of Rs 11,363 crore (US$ 1.61 billion) in Sundergarh district of Odisha.

It also plans to increase coal production by investing in strengthening coal evacuation infrastructure, like doubling of 53-km-long Jharsuguda-Sardega railway line with a flyover at Jharsuguda railway station and construction of 12 Rapid Loading Systems (RLS).

The company along with state government has planned for developing social infrastructure, like roads, flyovers, parks, etc. under its Command Area in Sundergarh, Jhasuguda, Sambalpur and Angul districts of state. It plans to spend Rs 31,000 crore (US$ 4.40 billion) out of the Re 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) for mining and social infrastructure development by 2023-24.

The company is also focusing on land reclamation and environment-protection, thus, the Innovations Cell at company headquarters is undertaking various initiatives to introduce best technology and practices for dust suppression, firefighting, eco-friendly coal loading, etc.

In order to increase its green footsteps, MCL is going to set-up more solar power plants, besides biological reclamation of mined-out area and bringing it to original form by laying top-soil, adopting best agricultural and afforestation practices.

The company has also adopted a part of tribal-dominated area under its command in Sundergarh for development under Gram Samridhi Yojana, to improve the quality of life in and around MCL’s projects.

This investment in social and mining projects is expected to increase direct and indirect employment for local youth and provide opportunities for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs).

COAI, 5G-ACIA sign MoU to shape 5G for India’s manufacturing industry

“Source:- IBEF”
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with global forum, 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation, or 5G-ACIA, to give shape to India’s 5G mobile communications in different industries, especially in the manufacturing and process sectors.

The technology is yet to be launched in India. Although, the spectrum auction to roll out 5G services in the country is scheduled for this year. The government is yet to decide on the date of it.

The MoU is a not-for-profit type and will be valid for three years till 2022. It will facilitate cooperation between the country’s apex telecom association and the global platform on issues related to 5G and its adoption for industry automation across sectors.

According to a statement released by the COAI, “Under the partnership, both bodies will identify topics of common interest and work to strengthen their relationship and foster closer cooperation on common agenda by joint participation in events, meetings, promotional activities and many other joint initiatives”.

According to the 5G-ACIA’s LinkedIn page, it is the central global forum for shaping 5G in the industrial domain. On the platform, various industries from all over the world jointly create a new information and communications technology (ICT) and operation technology (OT) ecosystem and set framework for a highly attractive emerging market.

“We are excited to partner with the 5G-ACIA, as we endeavour to continuously build our understanding and expertise towards the advancement of modern communication in the country. We truly believe that this partnership will be mutually beneficial and build on insights and learnings to shape Industrial 5G mobile communications and technology effectively” said Mr Rajan S Mathews, director general, COAI.

It is expected that 5G technology will act as a driving force and have a significant impact on design, operation and maintenance of factories and their production across the world. In India, the contribution of manufacturing is about 15 per cent of the overall GDP and supporting the sector with 5G will be crucial, said Mr Andreas Müller, chairman of 5G-ACIA.

“The world is looking towards India how it shapes its Industry 4.0 revolution and high-performance wireless communication services as provided by 5G certainly represent a critical enabler in this respect. We are very happy to partner with COAI towards the growth of such technologies and excited to share knowledge and collaborate on various topics of mutual interest with one common goal: Making Industrial 5G become a major success,” Mr Muller said.

Bridgestone ties up with Microsoft to develop tyre damage detecting system

Mumbai: Tyre maker Bridgestone  on Tuesday said it has partnered with Microsoft  to develop a tyre damage detecting system  on a real-time basis. Under the collaboration, Bridgestone will use the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform   (MCVP), which not only reduces accidents caused by technical failure but also increases road safety.

The tyre damage issues account for around 30 per cent of total car accidents caused by technical failure, as per Bridgestone.

The system delivers real-time awareness of damage to the tyre, using MCVP cloud framework together with existing sensor data, from hardware that is already installed, and uses algorithms to detect events affecting the tyre surface, and carcass, the company said in a release.

Currently, this system is available to all vehicle fleets and OEMs that use MCVP, it said adding, the partnership also enables Bridgestone to further develop its solution to meet the requirements of fleets and key OEM partners around the world.

“By teaming up with Microsoft, we have the opportunity to bring our Tyre Damage Monitoring System to millions of drivers, offering them better safety and peace of mind,” said Laurent Dartoux, CEO and President, Bridgestone EMIA.

Microsoft partners with mobility companies to support their transformation into smart mobility service providers, said Tara Prakriya, General Manager, Azure Mobility, and MCVP at Microsoft.

“With the MCVP, our mission is to help businesses accelerate the delivery of safe and personalised connected mobility experiences,” Prakriya said.

Stating that the tyre damage, which often cannot be detected without close, manual inspection, and which can potentially occur at any time, can also adversely affect other components of the vehicle, such as the wheels, Brigestone said in the release.

MCVP will also provide Bridgestone with a digital infrastructure that will accelerate its delivery of connected mobility solutions, providing access to a multitude of Microsoft Azure cloud, AI, and IoT capabilities, it said.

“This tie-up gives Bridgestone India the opportunity to bring state-of-the-art and pioneering technology in mobility solutions to the country and allow it to further collaborate with its OE partners,” said Bridgestone India Managing Director, Parag Satpute.

 

Global PE firms eye India’s auto components sector

“Source:- IBEF”
Top private equity (PE) firms such as Temasek, Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, Samara Capital, and Baring Private Equity Asia are actively exploring investment opportunities in India’s auto parts manufacturing sector. These firms are convinced that India’s auto parts industry has long-term potential to provide to the local markets and overseas. Thus, companies are focusing on investing on the low market valuations of most of these auto parts vendors due to COVID-related uncertainties to purchase minority or controlling stakes. These firms are looking for makers of parts for internal combustion engine vehicles, and electric mobility.

According to some sources, the PE firms have approached some companies based in the automotive hubs of Chennai and Pune in the past few months.

The auto component manufacturers have been facing financial stress due to drastic decrease in vehicle sales since FY19, worsened by the lockdown since March-end. This situation has left promoters with an urgent need of funds to ramp up production and invest for the future but due to weak demand and depressed valuations, options have been limited. Banks and other financial institutions are also been careful of extending credit due to fear of loans turning bad. Some promoters are worried about taking on fresh debt, making PE investments a more viable option.

“The current fiscal will be a tough one for the auto sector since sales were down by almost 18 per cent last fiscal. Also, most promoters have invested heavily because of the upgrade to Bharat Stage VI norms. So, most of them will need partners who can guide them on investment and acquisitions in the long term as well as provide capital in the short and medium term,” said the first person connected with deals.

According to a survey of the top 300 auto parts makers by ratings agency Crisil, combined revenues of the sector are likely to drop 16 per cent this fiscal due to the coronavirus-induced economic slowdown. EBITDA or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of these companies is expected to drop 30-35 per cent in FY21.

“Possibly for the first time in over a decade, we are seeing demand from OEMs, exports and the aftermarket in the red this fiscal, in addition to demand slowdown for two consecutive years,” said Mr Anuj Sethi, analyst, Crisil.

According to another source, promoters of auto component companies are also looking for opportunities outside India, especially in electric mobility, and the presence of a global PE investor on board is likely to help in arranging capital and other aspects of managing operations overseas.

“PE firms always look at the long-term potential and India is the only market expected to grow in the next decade as markets like China and US had already slowed before the pandemic. Most PE firms have also realized that current valuations make these companies quite lucrative and promoters also need capital. We expect consolidation in the component industry in the next two years,” said another source.

Though, there has been no official announcement from any of the companies.

Daily average electronic transactions increased from 66 Lakh in 2014 to 16.3 Crore in 2020; E-services increases from 2,463 in 2014 to 3,858 till May 2020

“Source:- IBEF”
Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Minister for Electronics & IT, Communications and Law & Justice, has said that the digital journey has focused on empowerment, inclusion and digital transformation and its positive impact is being felt in all aspects of the lives of Indian citizens. While addressing a video conference marking celebration of five years journey of India’s Digital India Programme here, today, he stated that in the current pandemic scenario, thanks to JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar an Mobile), people are able to work from home, people are able make digital payment, students are able to learn through TV, Mobile and Laptop, patients are able to take tele-consultation, and farmers in remote corner of India is able to get PM-KISAN benefits directly in their bank accounts.

The conference was organised by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to celebrate 5 Years of Digital India progressing towards Digital Bharat – AatmaNirbhar Bharat. This conference was graced by the presence of MoIT, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology, Shri Sanjay Dhotre, Additional Chief Secretaries of some States, Shri Nandan Nilekani, the IT Secretaries of all States, representatives from Ministries, Industry and the academia. The conference was attended by 1,500 delegates all over the world.

The Digital India journey in the past 5 years has centred around empowerment, inclusion, digital transformation. It has positively impacted all aspects of the lives of Indian citizens identity management through Aadhaar, Direct Benefit Transfer, Common Services Centres, DigiLocker, mobile based UMANG services, participatory governance through MyGov, Jeevan Pramaan, to UPI, Ayushman Bharat, e-Hospital, PM-Kisan, e-NAM, Soil Health Cards, SWAYAM, SWAYAM PRABHA, National Scholarship Portal, e-Pathshala, and so on. A ‘National AI Portal’ and ‘Responsible AI for Youth’ was launched recently to lay the foundation for an AI-powered future. Digital India’s initiatives have also played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 situation, such as Aarogya Setu, E-Sanjeevani, sensitisation through MyGov and Social media platforms etc.

Pointing  out that the number of e-Services has increased from 2,463 in 2014 to 3,858 till May 2020 and daily average electronic transactions have increased from 66 lakh in 2014 to 16.3 crore in 2020, the Union Minister shared that Aadhaar has been issued to 125.7 crore residents and 4,216 crore authentications have been facilitated. “Direct Benefit Transfer to the tune of Rs 11.1 lakh crore (US$ 157.47 billion) has been disbursed for 426 schemes from 56 Ministries and has led to the saving of Rs 1.7 lakh crore (US$ 24.12 billion) due. Jan Dhan Accounts have reached 38.73 crore beneficiaries, with a total of Rs 1.33 lakh crore (US$ 18.87 billion) in beneficiaries bank accounts. Mobile and internet connections are being used by 117 crore and 68.8 crore users, respectively. DigiLocker, launched on July 1, 2015, has 378 crore issued documents. Unified Mobile App for New-Age Governance (UMANG) has 860+ services operational and more than 3 crore downloads have taken place, he further added. MyGov has been launched to facilitate participatory governance in the country, with a total of 1.17 crore registered participants, while facilitating the Mann Ki Baat of the Prime Minister.

Emphasizing the Digital India’s initiatives during the COVID-19 situation, such as Aarogya Setu for its ground-breaking development time of 3 weeks and localisation in 12 Indian languages with 13 crore downloads, with additional 3 crore for Kai OS, he informed that it has helped identify over 350 COVID-19 hotspots. He further said that sensitization through MyGov and Social Media Platforms have played a crucial role in tackling the pandemic through user friendly graphics, video, quotes to citizens through the MyGov website and through all social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedln, Telegram, and YouTube. He also spoke briefly about other initiatives such as E-Sanjeevani, SAMHAR-COVID-19, Ayush Sanjivani Mobile app, and VC and e-Office.

While concluding, he reiterated that Digital India’s achievements can be attributed to the united efforts of Central Government, State Governments, Industries and Academia, all key parts of Team India. Lastly, he stated that India’s talent pool of skilled people, technology prowess and geo-political advantages are poised to make India an inspiring country in the 21st Century for the welfare of Indians and the world.

During the event, a panel discussion was held regarding public digital platforms. Shri Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, MeitY spoke about ‘Building Digital Government Platforms for the Digital Economy of the Future’. Shri Nandan Nilekani, Non-Executive Chairman, Infosys, spoke about the relevance and success of public-private partnership models in e-Government Development, where he touched four dimensions-Government as an enabler of technology, as a customer of Technology, as a platform provider and the Government as collaborator to provide solutions. He congratulated Hon’ble Minister on the successful implementation of Digital India in the country. The building of Aatma Nirbhar Digital Systems also deliberated extensively. ‘AatmaNirbharta’ or ‘Self-Reliance’ implies development of in-house capacity and capability to drive economic and social development of the country.

Intel Capital invests Rs 1,894 crore in Jio Platforms

“Source:- IBEF”
Intel Capital plans to invest Rs 1,894.50 crore (US$ 268.76 million) in Jio Platforms Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore (US$ 69.66 billion) and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore (US$ 73.20 billion). Intel Capital’s investment will translate into a 0.39 per cent equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.

The total investment received by Jio Platforms has reached Rs 117,588.45 crore (US$ 16.68 billion). Intel Capital has joined the list of marquee firms who have recently invested in the firm. Jio Platforms has more than 388 million subscribers. It has made significant investments across its digital ecosystem, powered by leading technologies spanning broadband connectivity, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, augmented and mixed reality and blockchain.

The investment made by Intel Capital are focused on innovative companies that have portfolio in disruptive technology areas like cloud computing, artificial intelligence and 5G – opportunities where Jio is also innovating and investing for growth. Intel Capital is the investment arm of Intel Corporation, a leader in the semiconductor industry, shaping the data-centric future with computing and communications technology that is the foundation of global innovations. It has operated in India for more than two decades and currently employs thousands of employees there with state-of-the-art design facilities in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

“We are extremely delighted to deepen our ties with technology leaders that embody our vision of transforming India into a leading Digital Society in the world. Intel is a true industry leader, working towards creating world-changing technology and innovations. Intel Capital has an outstanding record of being a valuable partner for leading technology companies globally. We are therefore excited to work together with Intel to advance India’s capabilities in cutting-edge technologies that will empower all sectors of our economy and improve the quality of life of 1.3 billion Indians,” Mr Mukesh Ambani, CMD of Reliance Industries said.

“Jio Platforms’ focus on applying its impressive engineering capabilities to bring the power of low-cost digital services to India aligns with Intel’s purpose of delivering breakthrough technology that enriches lives. We believe digital access and data can transform business and society for the better. Through this investment, we are excited to help fuel digital transformation in India, where Intel maintains an important presence.”

Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisor to Reliance Industries and AZB & Partners and Davis.

Oracle sharpens focus on India with new cloud data centre in Hyderabad

“Source:- IBEF”
Technology major Oracle Corp. launched its second cloud data centre in Hyderabad to support the increased customer demand for enterprise cloud services. This is in line with the Oracle’s global plan to operate 36 “second generation” cloud data centres or regions by the end of 2020.

In 2019, Oracle launched its Mumbai cloud region, making India its latest country with multiple cloud regions available. India has now joined US, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the European Union in having multiple Oracle Cloud regions that enable better disaster recovery strategies.

“Hyderabad’s data centre launch is part of Oracle’s dual-region strategy. Both our Mumbai and Hyderabad are second generation cloud regions, helping our customers meet India’s stringent requirements for data privacy and residency,” said Mr Shailender Kumar, regional managing director, Oracle India.

“It is aimed at enabling customers to comply with local data-related regulatory compliances and address operational issues related with operating in multiple countries. Also, customers get an unmatched BCP (business continuity planning) environment spanning two different seismic zones, inter-connected by low-latency Oracle backbone,” Mr Kumar said.

Despite of increase in its growth, both globally and in India, Oracle is believed to be a late entrant to the cloud business. Its cloud services and licence support revenues grew 1 per cent y-o-y to US$ 6.8 billion even as total revenues declined 6 per cent y-o-y to US$ 10.4 billion for the fourth quarter ended 31 May 2020. Oracle follows the June-May fiscal year.

As per the company, India has been the “best performing” region for Oracle within Japan and Asia-Pacific region consecutively for the last four years. “We have been clocking double digit growth for the last 5 years, doubling our overall customer base from 7,500 to 15,000 in the same timeframe,” Mr Kumar said.

Oracle has signed up a five-year contract with leading non-banking financial company Manappuram Finance Ltd to deliver its cloud solutions earlier this year. “With Oracle Cloud, we will gain 2-3x performance improvements over the next 5 years vis-à-vis our current IT setup, while also unlocking 30-40 per cent additional cost savings,” said Mr Raveendrababu BN, executive director, Manappuram Finance.

The company is also providing help to enterprises in India through artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled digital assistants in their core business processes. For example, Bajaj Electricals is using ‘Bajaj Paddy’, an AI chatbot to transform its customer interactions, said Mr Suhas Uliyar, vice president-Digital Assistant, AI & Integration, Oracle.

“Most importantly, there are no privacy issues and we can easily comply with the country regulations. All the data resides with our customers and we are not using customers’ data to train our models,” Mr Uliyar said.

Brands looking to shift production from China to India

KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Indian contract manufacturers said there is a surge in interest from brands to make products like televisions, air-conditioners, microwave ovens, shoes, speakers, ear phones, set-top boxes and apparel in the country as companies fear consumer backlash against ‘Made in China’ products and expects surge in import duties by the government as a retaliatory step against China due to the Galwan crisis..

Third-party manufacturers like Dixon, Videotex International, SSIPL amongst others said companies were already exploring options to reduce their dependence on imports of finished products since the Covid-19  crisis disrupted their supplies from China, but the recent border issue and government’s vocal for local pitch has increased interest in last one week.

However, companies said China will still play a big part in sourcing of raw materials and components since no other country manufactures them as competitively.

“Companies will act according to the decisions of the Indian government. If India adds some additional duties on imports, then they will immediately look for alternatives,” said VK Mishra, chairman of India China Trade Centre.

chairman Sunil Vachani said brands are trying to de-risk themselves from tariff barriers which the government may put against China. “Consumers want to know the origin of the product and more interest for made in India which is triggering such increase in enquiries,” he said.

Electronics industry body, CEAMA president Kamal Nandi said 30% of air-conditioners are imported in India and majority of microwave ovens, with most of them coming from China. “We expect these will change by next year as several manufacturers are beefing up their capacities in India,” he said.

Arjun Bajaaj, director at Videotex International, said several brands, including the new entrants in TV category, want to start local production with contract manufacturers which will only further grow pace. The company already designs and manufactures for 15 television brands.

Even Chinese brands like OnePlus and Realme will be manufacturing their TVs in India.

The Centre is reportedly preparing a list of imports from China, including finished products, to curb them after the border tension at Galwan Valley. It is also scrutinising import of made in China products from ASEAN nations misusing the trade agreements.

Rishab Soni, managing director at SSIPL Group, which manufactures for brands such as Puma, Asics, Lotto and Power, said several brands have increased talks to move their China production not just to India but also ASEAN nations.

Shoe maker Woodland India   managing director Harkirat Singh said while it imports specialised footwear from China, it is looking at newer sourcing avenues including India. “The cost of production may go up by 5-10%, but we will absorb it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) is preparing a list of categories they currently import from China and identifying the products its members can ramp up or shift manufacturing in India.

“Sentiments will be driven by the consumers. If the consumers take even more aggressive stand, then the industry would be compelled to take immediate and dramatic steps,” said Rahul Mehta, chief mentor of CMAI.

He said India still has to build capabilities and expertise in areas of winter clothing, active-wear, speciality clothing and specialized sportswear.

Mishra said some companies are looking to route products through countries that enjoy trade concessions from both India and China like in the case of ASEAN countries and Bangladesh.

MCL plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore in Odisha in five years

“Source:- IBEF”
Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) in Odisha by 2025-26.

According to the company’s official statement, the investment will be focused in acquisition of land for three new Mine, Develop and Operate projects, namely Siarmal (50 MTY) in Ib Valley coalfields, Subhadra (25 MTY) and Balbhadra North (10 MTY) in Talcher coalfields, as well as expansion of existing projects. It targets to increase its coal production capacity to 300 million tonnes (MT) in about three years.

In order to increase the capacity building for the new and expansion of existing projects, the company plans to invest in procurement of heavy machinery, besides setting-up of 1600 megawatt (MW) (2×800) super critical thermal power plant with planned investment of Rs 11,363 crore (US$ 1.61 billion) in Sundergarh district of Odisha.

It also plans to increase coal production by investing in strengthening coal evacuation infrastructure, like doubling of 53-km-long Jharsuguda-Sardega railway line with a flyover at Jharsuguda railway station and construction of 12 Rapid Loading Systems (RLS).

The company along with state government has planned for developing social infrastructure, like roads, flyovers, parks, etc. under its Command Area in Sundergarh, Jhasuguda, Sambalpur and Angul districts of state. It plans to spend Rs 31,000 crore (US$ 4.40 billion) out of the Re 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) for mining and social infrastructure development by 2023-24.

The company is also focusing on land reclamation and environment-protection, thus, the Innovations Cell at company headquarters is undertaking various initiatives to introduce best technology and practices for dust suppression, firefighting, eco-friendly coal loading, etc.

In order to increase its green footsteps, MCL is going to set-up more solar power plants, besides biological reclamation of mined-out area and bringing it to original form by laying top-soil, adopting best agricultural and afforestation practices.

The company has also adopted a part of tribal-dominated area under its command in Sundergarh for development under Gram Samridhi Yojana, to improve the quality of life in and around MCL’s projects.

This investment in social and mining projects is expected to increase direct and indirect employment for local youth and provide opportunities for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs).

Dell partners Nasscom to help SMEs, startups with business continuity

“Source:- Livemint”

Bengaluru: Dell Technologies has collaborated with IT industry body Nasscom to help and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups run their operations and maintain business continuity amid the challenging business environment due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Part of Nasscom’s SME Advantage program, this partnership intends to “build a robust ecosystem to support them, by bringing together important products and services, indispensable for any business, at a competitive price,” Dell said.

Dell’s association with Nasscom is expected to help more than 2,400 SMEs, and 9,000 startups that are part of the Nasscom 10,000 startups network. “They will be provided with exclusive offers and rates on Dell’s client and infrastructure solutions. With these solutions, the organizations can equip their teams with industry leading technology and ensure business resiliency.”

“This partnership will present exclusive offers on Dell’s client and infrastructure solutions to the Nasscom members enabling them to keep their organizations agile, secure and growing in today’s rapidly changing environment,” said Alok Ohrie, president and managing director, Dell Technologies India.

The partnership is aimed at helping the SME and startup ecosystem evolve digitally, while reducing their operational costs by leveraging the products and services from Dell Technologies at competitive prices.

“The client solutions offered are designed to keep the organization secure and their employees productive, no matter where they work from. Along with this, Dell’s infrastructure solutions will enable them to have greater control of their IT and, help protect their business and customer data with better security measures,” Dell said.

 

Nutrition brand OZiva raises US$ 5 million from Matrix Partners India

“Source:- IBEF”
OZiva, a plant-based nutrition brand, has raised US$ 5 million, as part of Series A round, led by Matrix Capital India. The funding round also witnessed the participation from existing investor Titan Capital.

The company plans to use these funds to boost Research and Development (RandD), technology and expand its team along with widening customer base.

It was founded by Ms Aarti Gill and Mr Mihir Gadani in 2016. OZiva provides everyday fitness, skin, and hair nutrition products.

“We started OZiva with a simple vision of enabling millions of people to be healthier and better. Having a strong digital ecosystem and personalised consultations has helped us in delivering more than just the product and has reflected in our growth numbers as well as unit economics”, said Ms Gill, co-founder, OZiva.

The target audience of company is mainly women in the 18-55 age group.

“OZiva symbolizes the future of wellness and nutrition, with its vision to be the #1 Plant-based nutrition brand in the country. Its maniacal product focus using the highest quality ingredients, as well as leveraging the power of content and community to educate and learn from consumers makes it a truly differentiated offering”, said Mr Sanjot Malhi, director, Matrix India.

Presently, several start-ups in India are focusing on plant-based nutrition products for customers. Apart from OZiva, there is also Mumbai-based EVO Foods, which offers plant-based eggs, to cater to vegetarians.

Matrix Partners has also invested in other food and nutrition start-ups including, Nothing Else, a clean label food brand; Open Secret, an FandB brand focused on the healthy snack market; Delight, a direct-to-home, mass premium milk brand, Mosaic Wellness, a lifestyle and wellness consumer brand; aandMe, a FandB brand focused on women’s health and wellness.

Tehan tells concerned school leavers that uni fee shake-up is fair

“Source:-SMH ”
Education Minister Dan Tehan has told upcoming school leavers aggrieved about sudden fee hikes for their chosen university degrees that the new system will be fairer and still majority-funded by taxpayers who have mostly not benefited from a university education.

The fee overhaul, which has increased fees for some courses while dropping the cost of “job-relevant” degrees, will be in place from next year and has triggered concerns for school students who have picked year 11 and 12 subjects based on the degrees they have committed to.

Education Minister Dan Tehan has called on concerned students to consider that the new system is fairer. Alex Ellinghausen

Responding to the complaints, Mr Tehan said Australia was facing the greatest economic contraction since the Great Depression and the government wanted students to think about choosing university subjects that would boost their employment prospects.

“You will not pay one cent upfront – you have access to the best HELP loan scheme in the world. And we want to ensure that in choices you make getting a job is one of the key considerations,” he said.

“We want you to think about not just looking at your degree as a silo. Look at it as an opportunity to diversify across disciplines.”

Mr Tehan said the funding system would be fairer because the government was matching government and student contributions to universities with the actual cost of teaching courses.

Replay

Major overhaul of university fees

A university funding overhaul intends to encourage young Australians in to jobs of the future.

Announcement of the New Australian Greens Senator for Victoria

Victorian Deputy CHO gives COVID-19 update

“Students also need to understand that the cost of degree here in Australia is less than the cost of a degree in the UK and US,” he said.

“And also that 60 per cent of Australian taxpayers have never been to university and they still make a contribution which is greater than 50 per cent to higher education.”

Under the shake-up, the cost of humanities and communications courses will more than double, with a year of full-time study costing $14,500 from next year, up from $6804. Fees for law and commerce will increase 28 per cent to $14,500 a year, up from $11,155.

Teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English, languages, maths and agriculture courses will cost $3700 a year, down by 46 to 62 per cent. Fees for science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and engineering will drop 20 per cent, with a year of study costing $7700.

 

IoT spending to grow at 8.2 per cent in 2020 due to covid-19: IDC

“Source:- Livemint”

Global spending on Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to grow at a single digit figure of 8.2% y-o-y (year on year) in 2020, due to the coronavirus induced economic fall out, missing the previous growth forecast of 14.9% for the year, IDC (International Data Corporation) said in a report.

Despite the current setback, global IoT spending is expected to return to double-digit growth rates in 2021 mustering compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.3% between 2020 and 2024, the report adds.

The decline in spending can be attributed to the economic setback in consumer services industry which includes hotels, theme parks, casinos, and movie theatres. Spending in discrete manufacturing (growing at 4.3%), resource industries including oil and gas (growing at 5%), and transportation (5.7%) is also expected to shrink.

Strong investments in IoT in 2020 are expected to come from healthcare (14.5% growth), insurance (12.3%), and education (11.9%), the IDC report says.

Consumer driven smart home spending, which includes expenses on products like smart speakers, internet cameras, smart bulbs, smart locks, smart mesh WiFi routers will grow 14.4% y-o-y in 2020.

This is the second largest use case in terms of overall spend.

“Although the current pandemic forced many organizations to pause some innovative IoT deployments, IoT will be a key return to growth accelerator with selected use cases being safe bets for end users to focus on in order to reach a new level of automation, remote everywhere experience, and hyper-connectivity,” Andrea Siviero, associate research director, Customer Insights & Analysis, IDC said in a statement.

Further, the report states that covid-19 and it’s economic fall out will force companies to revise their technology roadmaps and this may widen the gap between the two types of IoT adopters – determined advanced users and those who were struggling to understand ROI and monetize their IoT initiatives.

Svetlana Khimina, senior research analyst with Customer Insights & Analysis, IDC, feels, this will force the second group to postpone their IoT investment in all likelihood. As a result, they will fall further behind, while others will leverage their IoT expertise focusing on the use cases that will help them secure a more advanced position in the next normal.

In terms of region specific spending, China, US, and Western Europe will account for roughly 75% of all IoT spending during the forecast period. China with 13.4% CAGR will have a slight lead over US (9%) and Europe (11.4%).

However, fastest IoT spending growth is expected in Middle East & Africa (19% CAGR), followed by Central and Eastern Europe (17.6%).

EXCLUSIVE: Hero Group Chairman Pawan Munjal invests in car servicing startup GoMechanic

“Source:- Business Insider”
Hero Group’s Chairman Pawan Munjal has invested an undisclosed amount into car servicing startup GoMechanic. Munjal’s investment is a part of the Series B round raised by GoMechanic where they have already raised $15 million from Chiratae Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Orios Venture Partners.

Munjal’s investment is in his personal capacity, similar to how he has invested in Ola Electric.

“We had been in talks with the investment team of Mr Munjal, and we couldn’t have asked for a better partner – an industry veteran with years of experience and standing in the market,” Amit Bhasin, co-founder of GoMechanic told Business Insider.

GoMechanic has 280 technology-enabled multi-brand network of car service centers and workshops across twelve cities in India. The four-year old startup has big plans for the year despite the pushback from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Currently we service anywhere close to 15,000 cars a month. We will be hitting those numbers by next month, right now we are at 80% of the pre covid numbers, By December, we aim to double these numbers,” said Bhasin.

During the lockdown, the founders only saw the need for such a service. They now plan to expand to more Tier 2 cities.

“Ours is a technology-first place which also gives us the opportunity to scale much faster. Tech ensures that the brand experience remains constant while we scale cities in a very cost effective manner,” said Kushal Karwa, cofounder of the company.

The startup has also redesigned its operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We have invested heavily in technology to reduce human interactions. Currently, most of our orders are being done with the pick up and drop model, while all the updates are available on the app,” said Bhasin.

But they are also aware of the future – electric vehicles. The startup has partnered with Revolt Bikes, which produces EV bikes, and is the default after sales workshop for them which includes – repair and services, swapping of batteries. They had also brought on board Suyash Kumar, who was the eMobility business lead for Ashok Leyland and is now leading the startup’s EV strategy and plan. “We have also partnered with companies to set up EV charging stations within our workshops,” said Karwa.

Indian economy to recover very fast: HDFC Bank’s Aditya Puri

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : HDFC Bank MD and CEO Aditya Puri has said Indian GDP will recover “very fast” and pointed out that it is essential to get the growth rate back to the pre-COVID levels. The largest lender in the private sector will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic “way way stronger” than it ever was, Puri said in an e-mail to the bank’s employees earlier this month.

It can be noted that the economy is widely expected to contract in FY21, with some analysts pegging the GDP to decline by 5 per cent. The entire first quarter has been a washout due to the continuing lockdowns with only essential services being allowed to operate.

Earlier on Thursday, worries over growth led global agency Fitch to revise down its outlook on the sovereign to “negative” while affirming the rating.

“The COVID crisis is a health crisis which killed supply and over a period of time demand as well. However, I am confident in the future of India and even brighter future of HDFC Bank. The GDP and the country will recover very fast,” Puri, the founder chief executive of the lender who has been at the helm for 25 years, said.

The key factor, Puri said, is for the economic growth rate to come back to the pre-COVID levels very quickly.

He said companies with a good strategy, technology, capital, liquidity and a motivated team will emerge as winners after the crisis.

“I am confident that we will emerge from COVID way way stronger in the market than we ever were,” he said.

The CEO also said the bank is one of the few companies which has maintained bonuses, increments and salary in these difficult times.

Puri, who is scheduled to retire in October, said the bank has an excess liquidity of USD 2 billion, a high capital adequacy of 17.5 per cent and trained manpower.

He further said the bank will complete a technology transformation by September which will make dealings with customers frictionless.

Former Google executive Sunil Rayan to head Disney Hotstar India

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: Star and Disney India has tapped senior Google executive, Sunil Rayan, to head its video streaming service, Disney+ Hotstar in India as its president.

In his latest role, Rayan served as managing director of Google Cloud for Games, at the internet giant’s headquarter at Mountain View, California in US.

In an internal memo to staff, Uday Shankar, chairman Disney & Star India and president, Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific, made the announcement.

“With over 20 years of experience, Sunil brings a rare mix of product engineering and commercial expertise. He has a stellar track record of scaling and growing complex businesses. Sunil is a truly global executive, bringing experiences from across the world – having scaled businesses in the US, setting up large teams in South East Asia, and working with super app players in Latin America,” Shankar wrote.

Ryan has spent the last 7.5 years at Google and has also headed its Mobile App ads business till July 2018, before moving to Google Cloud.

Presently based in California, he put in his papers in April and will be relocating to Mumbai.

The position of head of Disney+ Hotstar (formerly Hotstar) has been lying vacant since CEO Ajit Mohan quit in later 2018 to join Facebook  as India head.

Ryan will report to Shankar, who has been overseeing the digital service since December last year, when Sanjay Gupta, former managing director of Star and Disney India, quit to join Google India  as country manager.

“Five years ago, we set out to disrupt the way India consumed content and that mission has turned out to be totally revolutionary,” Shankar said. “Sunil is an exciting talent with global accomplishments and I am very excited to have him lead the talented Disney+ Hotstar team. At Disney+ Hotstar India, we are on a mission to create the country’s largest and most advanced platform for curated content, and Sunil is just the right person to drive that ambition.”

Rayan has also worked at McKinsey & Co., IBM, iGate Mastech and Infosys.

India-China face-off: No incursion, no loss of territory, says PM Modi

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : There has been no intrusion into Indian territory in Ladakh and not a single Indian border post has been overrun, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an all-party meeting on Friday, amid an unequivocal condemnation by Indian democracy of Chinese aggression that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

“Neither anyone has intruded into our territory nor taken over any post. Our forces are doing what they have to do to protect the country, whether it is deployment, action or counter-action. Our patrolling capacity has increased due to newly built infrastructure, especially along LAC,” Modi said, referring to the line of actual control (LAC) between India and China.

At the three-hour-long meeting, Modi said that while India desired peace and friendship, “sovereignty is most important”.

“We have asked armed forces to take appropriate action and, simultaneously, we are reaching out to China through diplomatic channels to clearly state our views. Be it trade, counter terrorism, India has never come under pressure from outside,” he added.

Brahma Chellaney, a defence analyst with the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, said Chinese troops through their aggression have halted India’s patrolling.

“Does Modi’s statement signal India is willing to live with China’s forcible change of the status quo in the Galwan Valley and at Lake Pangong? By occupying unoccupied areas, China has put a halt to India’s patrolling of those areas and built positions overlooking Indian defences,” Chellaney asked.

Abhishek Singhvi, national spokesperson for the Congress, said that he feared Modi cleared China of any wrongdoing. “Genuinely worried at PM’s certificate that China has not crossed LAC! Hopefully not premature? Should not match China’s stand which says same thing! If such a serious skirmish with huge loss of Indian (and possibly Chinese) casualties, how can there be no transgression by China?” Singhvi said on Twitter late Friday night.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) parliamentarian Manoj Jha said: “I would like to believe PM Modi but I also want to know why were our soldiers martyred in such a barbaric manner? We stand with our forces and the government but we will continue to ask questions.”

Earlier in the all-party meeting, opposition parties, primarily the Congress, questioned the government’s handling of the issue, saying the all-party meeting should have been called earlier and that opposition parties should be regularly briefed by the government.

Among suggestions were continuation of construction work along the border, placing curbs on imports from China, and barring Chinese firms from entering strategic sectors.

The sharpest remarks came from Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She called for regular briefings for political parties, and said “valuable time” was lost between 5 May and 6 June when meetings of corps commanders took place.

“This meeting, in my view, should have come sooner and immediately after the government had been reportedly informed about the Chinese intrusion on May 5th, 2020 into several places in Ladakh and elsewhere. As always, the entire nation would have stood together like a rock and fully supported the government of the day in the steps required to defend the territorial integrity of the country. Alas, that was not to be,” Gandhi said in her opening remarks. “The entire country would like an assurance that status quo ante would be restored and China will revert back to the original position,” she added.

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee demanded that the Union government bar Chinese firms from entering sectors such as telecom, railway and aviation, even as she highlighted the need for India’s approach to be based on “democratic principles”.

 

Google to support Indian startups creating solutions for the new normal

“SourceL- Economic Times”
New Delhi: Google on Wednesday expanded its programme for startups to support startups working on the solutions to solve real-life challenges towards the new normal post COVID-19 landscape in India.

Google for Startups has opened applications for the new batch of Google for Startups Accelerator, with a special focus on health-tech, fin-tech, edu-tech, agri-tech, retail and SaaS startups, the company said in a statement.

The next batch will commence in August 2020 and the last date of applications is June 30. This will be the fourth class of startups mentored by Google, which has so far closely mentored over 60 startups in India to date.

“We have been working very closely with over 250 Startups founders over the last two months, holding consults with our network of experts, mentors and VCs to help solve for the immediate challenges faced by the founder community,” informed Paul Ravindranath G, Programme Manager, Google for Startups Accelerator India.

In addition to the fresh call for applications, Google for Startups also announced the launch of ‘Emerging stronger: Playbook’ for startups to face the Covid-19 Challenge.

“We have captured the work of these last two months into a handy playbook which we hope will benefit the larger ecosystem,” Ravindranath added.

Beyond the Accelerator, Google for Startups will continue to offer support to startups via its partner programme and mentor network.

Digital will get a lot of push in the days to come: J Ranjan

“Source:- Siasat”
Hyderabad: Digital technology will transform the landscape of  school education, health care delivery, commerce, marketing and many more areas in such a way that impacts every area of your business observed Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Government of Telangana.

Speaking while interacting with few select Design Professionals at JAMITI(Sacred Geometry), a Creative and Culture Entrepreneur’s Hub, on Tuesday here in the city at Manikonda, he said Digital will get a big push from everybody. We are living in two different worlds–real and virtual. So Digital will get a lot of prominence.

Besides that, due to COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown, children are going through online classes. Health Care professionals are remotely delivering healthcare services by way of digital consultancy, virtual medicine, Telemedicine, Tele consultancy, Diagnostic Services at the comfort of home etc. Digital technology is serving these new consumers like students and patients in rural and far-flung places.

These new consumers have not experienced any digital technologies before. So people will work on offering new user experience. And new tools will be introduced.

Due to COVID now, hospitals are not catering much to non-COVID patients. People are putting up with their minor elements. But, they can’t postpone their treatment for long. That is where Telemedicine, Tele and Virtual Consultancy will come into place, explained the top bureaucrat of the State.

Also, a lot of new and never heard technologies like contactless, touch-free, hands-free technologies are gaining a lot of prominences. All these need to provide seamless user experience better than normal.

Mr.Jayesh Ranjan said that the  space in the restaurant is shrunk. Sitting and chatting for a long time in restaurants may not be permitted in future. Restaurants will work on quick turnaround time in serving customers. So they may make Menu available to customers, even before they arrive and orders will be taken. The moment they walk in their food may be served. This we will experience soon because restaurants have to put to use their limited space to maximum extent. All these are new things which soon will become normal. So how do you create a user experience in these areas? That is where the design element comes he added

Adding further he said, Universities are known by the quality of faculty they provide. Now under new normal, Universities may not need fulltime faculty. In future,  the classes will be both physical as well as virtual. In such a case, the faculty may remain on the rolls of the college to be available on the demand. The same thing goes with manufacturing. So what we need for future are Design Thinking. Brand Building and a unique user experience he said.

Vishala Reddy Vuyyala, Founder & Director of IdentCity, the lady behind JAMITI outlined the salient features of JAMITI. It is a hub of culture and creative entrepreneurs(MSME) Initiative of IdentCity Creative Industries Pvt. Ltd. JAMITi offers virtual (self-serviced community) for the CCI(Creative and Cultural Industries) Entrepreneurs from 32 plus creative and culture fields where members can get access to each other, learn, collaborate and network. Besides virtual, it also offers Physical Design Hubs to interact with their potential customers from diverse industries, she said

Speaking further she added that it is something similar to WHAT T-Hub for Startups, T-Works for Hardware Makers and WE Hub for Women Entrepreneurs.

The creative & cultural economy has become a powerful, transformative force in the world today. She added. Its potential for development is vast and waiting to be unlocked. It is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy, not just in terms of income generation but also for job creation and export earnings. However, there are hardly any ecosystem,  networking platforms in India, she added.

The creative industries have become increasingly important to economic well-being, and the “human creativity is the ultimate economic resource

Jayesh Ranjan had a walk through the studio.  He also unveiled the logo and website of the JAMITI Community

Tata group’s IHCL to foray into home delivery of food and beverages

“Source:- IBEF”
Tata group’s Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) is planning to venture into home delivery of food and beverages segment.

“We have had a really nice response to our Hospitality@Home service, where customers can order our products for take away from our hotels across the country.

“Very shortly, we will also be announcing our plans to begin delivering our products to customers. All of this is aimed at helping take our hospitality to our customers’ homes,” said IHCL Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mr Puneet Chhatwal.

The company has also been working on programs like ‘Dream, Drive, Discover, Delight’ where one can book its standalone villas and bungalows while also observing social distancing, he said.

“We will also have technology detox offers because guests have been in their homes for a long time and have been on their phones or watching television a lot more than usual.

“We will be offering many Ayurvedic treatments as part of this offer. And we have many other offers that we are working on,” he added.

The Tata group’s hospitality arm posted an over 24 per cent jump in net profit for the year ended March at Rs 363.74 crore (US$ 51.60 million), as compared to Rs 296.12 crore (US$ 42.01 million) in the previous fiscal.

Mr Chhatwal said, “In terms of the Aspiration 2022 targets on property numbers, you have to know that we are already way ahead of reaching these targets by 2022.”

“We had a target of opening 15 hotels per year for Aspiration 2022, but we have already opened over 50 hotels in the last two years, and our portfolio is now at 200 hotels,” he added.

The company had set a target of 27,000 rooms for 2022, and has already surpassed 25,000 rooms, he said, adding that the remaining 2,000 would been easily achieved in the next two years.

“We have to now look at 2020 as a year of correction and for this we have the R.E.S.E.T 2020 strategy. After R.E.S.E.T is rolled out in the next few months, we will come back with new targets, all of which will be higher than those set for Aspiration 2022. We are very confident that we will meet these higher targets as well,” he said.

R.E.S.E.T (Revenue Growth, Excellence in Guest Wellbeing, Spend Optimsation, Effective Asset Management and Thrift and Financial Prudence) is a five-point agenda to handle the challenges caused by the unprecedented global crisis and aid the company navigate through these difficult times.

For Now, Mr Chhatwal added that he feels the industry has already begun moving towards recovery, with hotels reopening in multiple states as they come out of the lockdown.

“By September-October, we will see domestic travel begin and we believe that in 12 to 18 months, business should come back to pre-COVID-19 levels. In the long-term, we remain very confident about the outlook for the industry,” he added.

Tractor makers explore rental route as agricultural economy grows

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: Tractor makers Mahindra, Tractors and Farm Equipment (Tafe) and Sonalika that have been struggling with customised hiring schemes are looking to cash in on rising demand as the migrant workforce scramble back to their homes in other states.

So far, 65-70% of the districts remain Covid-19 free, fuelling belief that agricultural activities will see an uptick.

“As the agri economy grows, ownership of tractors in the rental segment will get stronger. It is making entrepreneurs of small and marginal farmers through this model while increasing farmer productivity”, says Hemant Sikka, president of Mahindra’s tractor division. Sikka added that the migrants would have less cash in hand to own a tractor and renting it will increase productivity immediately.

Incidentally, Mahindra’s tractor rental project, Trringo, more an experimental model to bring entrepreneurs on one platform, has not done as well as expected.

Tractors are usually bought directly from dealers with the farmer paying 25-30% of the price upfront and the rest financed by specialised rural banks and NBFCs. The average price of a tractor is ₹6-7 lakh. A farmer shells out around ₹2 lakh as down payment. The final quantum of financing and repayment depends on the relationship between the dealer and the farmer.

Loans taken by the farming community primarily from micro finance companies are for tractor and pick-up vehicles, says Paul Thomas, managing director of ESAF, a small finance bank in Kerala that funds tractor hiring.

“What is important is that the harvest has been good for wheat, sugarcane, pulses and the government will buy and warehouse these products. Demand for tractor hiring has since opened up and we are getting close to 20 financing requests daily,” said Thomas.

With the country seeing a good rabi crop and a bumper harvest in the offing, workers see a future for themselves in the agriculture space. Some industry experts think labourers will stay back even for sowing and not come back till November.

“We need to support farmers to increase farm productivity while ensuring reduced operational cost and affordable agri machinery,” said Raman Mittal, executive director, Sonalika Group. These centres, besides renting out high end agri machinery to needy farmers, would also act as ‘agri machinery clinics’ for repairs of implements, adds Mittal.

Manufacturers are looking at multiple models to rent out tractors with TAFE launching a free tractor rental service in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. “The scheme received a good response from farmers and in 60 days, over a lakh acres have been cultivated and rental service has been provided in this crucial cropping season” said TR Kesavan, president, TAFE, who is also the president of tractor association, TMA.

Massey Ferguson last week announced a scheme of owning a tractor on an initial payment of only Rs 5,000.

TAFE manufactures a range of tractors with brands like Massey Ferguson, TAFE Eicher, and the recently acquired Serbian tractor and agricultural equipment brand – Industrija Mašina i Traktora.

The domestic tractor sector has managed to enter positive territory at a much faster pace due to timely relaxation of the lockdown for the agricultural sector. Experts expect the second half to be better for the tractor industry, projecting a surge in demand post the rabi season and a normal monsoon. A significant growth in demand for food grains will drive the farm equipment rental market for the tractor companies.

 

Agri sector may not be hit by lockdown; likely to grow 2.5% in FY21: Crisil

“Source:- Business Standard”

Even as coronavirus pandemic has impacted many sectors, the agriculture could be the only bright spot as real agriculture is likely to witness a 2.5 per cent growth in 2020-21, according to a report.

The report by Crisil Research however listed risks such as any likely impact of locust attacks and impact of lockdown on horticulture produce.

With the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, demand for horticultural produce is likely to be impacted more than that of food grains.

Food grains have the government’s minimum support price (MSP) and procurement support, the report explained.

The government has announced MSP hike for 14 kharif crops, assuring farmers 50-83 per cent returns on their cost of production, it added.

However, horticulture produce is highly perishable in nature and its wholesale prices collapsed in April despite a sharp reduction in their mandi arrivals.

Also a number of standing crops, horticulture produce, which was not harvested because of problems in selling, witnessed locust attacks, the report said.

Similarly, demand for flowers has collapsed as religious places are shut down and marriage ceremonies are kept in abeyance or muted, it added.

Livestock, milk is the largest contributor to this sector with a two-thirds share, followed by meat and a very small share of eggs.

Fortunately, milk consumption from the household segment has remained largely stable despite the lockdown.

Demand from the hotels and restaurants segments, which contributes 15-20 per cent to total milk consumption, has collapsed but is expected to pick up gradually once the lockdown is lifted.

Going forward, the report opined that growth in agriculture and allied activities this fiscal hinges on a bumper food grains production coupled with a normal monsoon.

Horticulture might have to bear some burns because of perishability, it said.

Milk, which comprises the biggest chunk of livestock, is expected to do well and on the other hand, meat, eggs, fishing and aquaculture are likely to face a prolonged impact, as there is a tendency to reduce consumption of non vegetarian food during the pandemic.

A fall in exports in these commodities too is expected to hem in demand, but with the contribution of these items in the agriculture and allied activities sector being relatively lower, the overall agricultural growth may stay resilient, it added.

Aatma Nirbhar Bharat: Govt mulls hike on edible oil import tax to boost local supply

“Source:- Business Today ”
India is considering raising import taxes on edible oils as the country seeks to become self-reliant by boosting local oilseed production with the help of tax revenues, two government and two industry officials told Reuters. The tax hike could curb the world’s biggest vegetable oils importer’s purchases and weigh on Malaysian palm oil FCPOc3, along with soy and sunflower oil prices, while propping up local prices of oilseeds such as rapeseed, soybean and groundnut.

“We’re considering a proposal to increase some tax on edible oil. If we do decide to the funds would be used to increase the production in the country,” a government official, who did not wish to be identified, said. Another government official and an industry source said the tax could be raised by 5%, but that a decision had not yet been taken.

India currently levies 37.5% and 45% import tax respectively on crude and refined palm oil. Imports of crude soybean oil, crude sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil attract 35% import duty. The trade ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

India spends around $10 billion every year on edible oil imports as the country’s reliance on overseas purchases have jumped to 70% from 44% in 2001/02. The latest move is a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push toward reducing India’s dependence on imports and raising cash to support local production.

The government sought industry’s views on how to curb edible oil imports, said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA). “We have suggested various measures to increase oilseed production,” said Mehta, adding the trade body had recommended raising import taxes and using that money to popularize oilseed plantation in fertile north India, where farmers prefer mainly rice and wheat.

America’s DFC to invest $350 million in India

“Source:- Economic Times ”
Kolkata: The US International  Development Finance  Corporation (DFC) is looking to invest $350 million in India to support multiple projects in the country’s financial services sector, health infrastructure , renewable energy and food security space.

DFC, known as America’s development bank, has approved loans worth $142 million for ReNew Power and $50 million for Sitara Solar Energy to build and operate solar power plants in Rajasthan, $50 million for Northern Arc Capital to scale up lending to businesses that expand access to water, sanitation, and food or advance women’s economic empowerment, besides committing to invest in several other projects.

These are part of DFC’s $1 billion commitment approved by its board to firms enaged in developmental works across in Africa, Latin America and other emerging markets. The investments mark one of the largest tranches approved during a board meeting, DFC said.

“The projects have a particular focus on development impact, with nearly 60 per cent of investments in low- and lower middle-income countries,” DFC said in a statement from Washington, adding that the investments are aimed at supporting financial services for women, small businesses, and other underserved groups at a time when capital is in desperate need.

“These projects will uplift some of the most underserved communities around the world,” DFC chief executive officer Adam Boehler was quoted as saying a statement. “The impact of these projects will be particularly meaningful as the world continues to fight the health and economic fallout of the pandemic.”

Northern Arc chief executive Kshama Fernendes expects to receive the funding in the second quarter. “It’s a long term facility and hence very valuable. Fernendes said, adding that interest rate is “very attractive”.

The funding agency has committed up to $20 million to buy equities in delivery app Freshtohome, which envisaged a project to support over 1,500 farmers and fishermen throughout the country; and up to $30 million investment in South Asia Growth Fund II to support businesses in the energy, water, and food sectors. It has also lined up a $27.3 million loan for Paryapt Solar Energy to build and operate a 50-megawatt solar power plant in Gujarat. It has offered $14.6 million loan guarantee to World Business Capital  to enable it to support the expansion of Avanse Financial Services’ student loan program.

DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world.

No better time to bet on India than now, says billionaire Gautam Adani

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: The recent slump in economic growth notwithstanding, India will be one of the world’s top consumption centres and a manufacturing and services hub for the next several decades, billionaire Gautam Adani has said, stressing there is no better time to bet on India than now.

India’s economic growth slipped to 4.2 per cent in 2019-20 fiscal (April 2019 to March 2020)- its slowest pace in more than a decade. International rating agencies as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have forecast a contraction in GDP in the financial year that began in April 2020 on account of the coronavirus-induced slowdown.

“What we must realize is that there are no absolute right or wrong ideas. What is required during an unprecedented, hard to model, crisis like COVID-19, is a Government that is willing to make decisions based on best available information at a given point of time and constantly adapting as new information becomes available,” Adani said in the latest annual report of Adani Gas Ltd.

Countries with greater resources have struggled while India has done well in containing the fallout of COVID-19, he said.

“While our battle with the virus is far from over, I have no hesitation in stating that had the decisions that got made been delayed we could have been facing an unmitigated disaster that would not just impact India but have global ramifications,” he said.

Adani, who heads the country’s biggest infrastructure conglomerate spanning ports to power, said “business has suffered immensely, lives and jobs have been lost, and the migrant worker crisis saddened the entire nation, but the consequences of the unknown alternates would be far grimmer.”

“What the leaders of our nation, the doctors, the healthcare workers, the police, the army, the small street side vendors, and the citizens have done to support each other is truly what defines India and its resiliency,” he said. “Sitting where we are today, I can say that history is in process of being scripted.”

Stating that the short or mid-term possible economic outcomes as a result of COVID-19 are hard to predict, Adani said there cannot be any denying the fact that India over the next several decades will be a market continuously on the up and one that simply cannot be ignored.

“It will be one of the world’s top consumption centers, manufacturing and service hubs and a beacon of stable democratic governance,” he said. “If there was a time to make a bet on India, there may not be a better time than now.”

Adani, who is the chairman of Adani Gas Ltd, said on the other side of this crisis will emerge massive new opportunities, terrific businesses and a few stronger nations.

“Those that succeed will be the ones that understand that resilience is built on the other side of the tunnel of crisis and we are already getting ready for this,” he said.

Adani Group’s six publicly traded companies have each performed well.

“While we may have to do need-based course correction in our strategies in the wake of the challenge that we are facing, the roadmap remains clear,” he said, adding the group’s businesses are closely aligned to the lifeline of the economy, providing essential services and addressing critical national infrastructure priorities.

“Any shock to a system always helps drive home some key points and what the Indian businesses have learnt over the past few years and most certainly post COVID-19 is the value of an optimal and perhaps for some sectors a conservative capital structure as well as the criticality to have systematic risk mitigation plans in place,” he noted.

Adani Group, he added, is focussing on optimising capital utilisation, redesigning the organisational structure to minimise risk in businesses and funding operations in phases.

“I am happy to share that during the year (2019-20), the Group has been able to bring strategic global equity partners in Adani Gas, Adani Green Energy Ltd and Adani Mumbai Electricity Ltd,” he said, adding the total investment of USD 1.6 billion by the partners will help drive future growth.

 

Boost to e-commerce may drive demand for commercial vehicles: Siam president

“Source:- Livemint”

E-commerce will get a huge boost in the post-covid-19 scenario and that may drive demand for commercial vehicles, Rajan Wadhera, president, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) said.

He was talking on Mint’s Pivot or Perish webinar, which explores how the covid-19 pandemic disrupts the conventional ways of doing business.

Wadhera was citing a few changes anticipated by the automotive industry as it gradually resumes operations and seek stimulus from the government to revive demand.

Calling two- and three-wheelers and commercial vehicles as the objects of mobility, Wadhera said that these segments are likely see revolutionary changes.

“E-commerce will come up in a big way and that may result into increased demand for CVs,” he said.

The Siam president also added that auto industry may see changes in several facets of the trade including retail practices, dealing with labour and manpower among others.

“Industries may move into clusters into the rural areas because migrant labour may not return. So the industries may go where the labour is easily available,” added Wadhera.

Expressing his concerns on demand revival, Wadhera said that the supply side of the value chain is not the problem but the demand side is. “We will be able to restart 50-70% of our production. That’s not the problem. The demand side is a huge challenge. We need demand stimulus so that volumes can come back. That’s the biggest challenge the industry is going to face,” he added.

According to the Siam data, FY2019-20 reported 18% decline year-on-year for the passenger vehicle and the two-wheeler segments. The commercial vehicle segment dropped 29% YoY.

“With 45 days of shutdown already and the uncertainty going forward, we have two scenarios of GDP growth rate for FY2021. If India’s GDP grows 2-3% in FY21, then the auto industry volumes decline 18-24%. If the GDP remains flat or posts negative growth, the auto industry volumes will drop at least 35-40%,” he remarked.

“This means we will have two very bad back-to-back years and in such circumstances we will be doing volumes of what we used to do a decade by 2010-2011,” he said adding that the production units are expected to see only 50% capacity utilization this year.

MG Motor India, Tata Power join hands to deploy superfast chargers for EVs at select locations

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: MG Motor India  on Monday said it has joined hands with Tata Power to set up superfast chargers for electric vehicles (EV) at select MG dealerships and offer end-to-end charging solutions. As part of the association, Tata Power will deploy 50KW DC superfast chargers at select MG dealerships besides offering end-to-end electric vehicle charging solutions, the company said in a statement.

Through this association, MG Motor aims to lay a specific focus on the key target cities they will be foraying into as a part of their future EV expansion plans.

“These superfast 50KW DC chargers will be accessible by both MG ZS EV customers as well as other EV owners whose automobiles are compatible with the CCS/CHAdeMO charging standards,” it said.

Combined Charging System (CCS) and CHAdeMO are two different EV charging standards used globally.

MG Motor India President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba said, “Further strengthening our commitment to India, we aim to provide our customers with a robust charging ecosystem to promote the adoption of cleaner and greener mobility solutions”.

Tata Power Company Ltd CEO and Managing Director Praveer Sinha said through the partnership the company will associate with MG Motor India as an end-to-end EV charging partner as also work on second life of battery usage in future.

“As India’s leading integrated player in the EV charging space, we aim to provide customers a seamless charging experience. We are confident that this partnership with MG Motor will further boost our country’s ability to adopt the electrified range of vehicles that MG Motor has to offer,” he added.

MG Motor India said it already has 10 SuperFast 50 kW charging stations across its dealerships in five cities – New Delhi- NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Hyderabad – and is expanding them to more cities.

On the other hand, Tata Power has established an elaborate EV Charging ecosystem with over 180 charging points in 19 different cities under EZ Charge brand along with digital platform to facilitate easy and smooth customer experience.

“The MG-Tata Power partnership will involve core values and operating model in line with their existing customer-centric approach including exploring the possibility of 2nd life management of EV batteries,” the statement said.

 

WeWork India gets USD 100 million from parent company to build flexible workspace model

“Source:- New Indian Express”
NEW DELHI: WeWork India on Friday said that it has received USD 100 million (roughly Rs 750 crore) funding from the parent company, WeWork for sustainable growth and focus on India as a strategic market. The co-working major said that COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for adoption of flexible workspaces for cost reduction purposes.

WeWork said that in line with the future workspaces model, the company will undergo a transformation over the next 36 months and India is a huge market for the American startup.

WeWork India is already profitable and plays an important role in the global scheme of business for WeWork. The WeWork India business will be focussing on showcasing their strengths through their extensive network of partners and vendors in the market, the co-working firm said in a statement.

“The flexible workspace industry in India and around the world is facing its biggest challenge yet. In that, we see a new opportunity that suits our members’ evolving needs. This is driven by an acceleration towards variable real estate costs, the confidence of safe and well-managed workspaces for their employees, and the growth opportunities that are intrinsic to the WeWork community. The fresh round of capital from our long-term partners at WeWork global represents a vote of confidence in our strategy and will help us serve our community better,” said Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India.

In India, WeWork has tied up with real estate giant, Embassy Group which holds 100 per cent rights over WeWork India and now has 60,000 desks in 34 locations, across 6 cities where businesses of all sizes can choose from a range of unique product offerings.

“WeWork is excited to be providing financial assistance to transform the workspace environment in India. WeWork India’s financial performance has shown consistent growth, and with the fundamentals in place at a building level backed by the expertise of the Embassy Group, we believe the WeWork India business has the ability to be our growth vehicle and provide our members with an exceptional experience,” said Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of WeWork.

Anand Mahindra invests US$ 1 million in social media startup Hapramp

“Source:- IBEF”
Mr Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group has invested US$ 1 million in Hapramp, a blockchain-based social media start-up.

Hapramp is a Gurugram-based start-up and plans to use the seed funding to work on big social media challenges such as user privacy, data security, and fair content monetization as part of its product offering.

“Took two years, but I finally found the start-up I was looking for! @Hapramp is indigenous, built by 5 young founders & brings together a best-in-class combination of creativity, technology & data protection,” Mahindra tweeted today.

Anand Mahindra had announced in 2018 on Twitter that he was looking to back an Indian social media start-up that meets certain criteria.

Hapramp was founded in 2018 by a team of five Computer Science graduates and offers solutions that enable people to take control of their data and earn a fair fraction from its monetary value. The start-up has been incubated through its early days by Huddle, a leading sector-agnostic incubator.

“We are extremely excited and proud to be the next-gen Indian social network startup backed by Mr Anand Mahindra. This is a massive approval of our mission to give creators the right to their content. The fact that this comes from him, someone whom we admire and who has always supported creators, gives us confidence,” said Mr Shubhendra Vikram, CEO and co-founder of Hapramp.

Hapramp sees itself as an idea lab working on the ideas that emerge from the confluence of the creative industry and information economy.

The start-up is also working on 1Ramp.io, a rewarding social media platform powered by Steem Blockchain; and Asteria Protocol, a new standard for platforms to privately and securely treat public data, besides its flagship social networking solution GoSocial. Hapramp expects to take them to market in the coming year.

Google Pay’s Nearby Stores is now available in 35 Indian cities

“Source:- IBEF”
Google Pay’s dedicated section, Nearby Stores, which allows customers to locate grocery stores in the neighbourhood is now available in 35 Indian cities. The platform added Nearby Stores in April but was available in a few major cities.

Those merchants that are listed on Nearby Stores can indicate their business hours, what measures are being taken to maintain social distancing inside the store and which essential goods are in stock. The platform will also display whether a store is in the containment zone or not, specially for cities like Mumbai where the lockdown is still applicable in many areas.

The app also allows Pay users across India to book their cooking gas cylinders from HP Gas, Bharat Petroleum or Indane.

The 35 cities where Nearby Stores is now applicable include Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Lucknow, Vishakapatnam, Kolkatta, Patna, Indore and Bhuwaneshwar.

The online platforms saw increase in listing of grocery stores as lockdown started and to make use of it, several payment platforms turned into grocery aggregators, showing nearby stores to their customers. In mid-April, PhonePe launched a similar feature called Stores with 10 million merchant partners across India. PayNearby also expanded its hyperlocal discover feature ByNearby to over 2 lakh grocery stores across India. The company has also tied up with IndusInd Bank to enable contactless payments at the stores.

Google Pay also added a dedicated window for Coronavirus which provides latest, official safety guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and lists names and links of charities that are taking donations to support relief work.

HIL (INDIA) geared to provide locust control Pesticide to Iran

“Source:- IBEF”
Despite logistics and other challenges posed by COVID 19 lockdown Hindustan Insecticides Limited (HIL (India)) a PSU under Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers ensured timely production and supply of pesticides for farming community.

HIL is now in process of production and supply of 25 MT Malathion Technical for supply to locust control programme to Iran under Government to Government arrangement. Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has approached HIL for manufacturing and supply of said commodity to Iran.

Credit rating of Central PSU upgraded to BBB- from BB, which is a stable investment grade.

The Company has exported 10 MT of fungicide – Mancozeb to Latin American country, Peru and another 12 MT will be exported in next one week.

HIL has also signed an agreement with Ministry of Agriculture and Famers Welfare for the supply of Malathion Technical to Rajasthan and Gujarat for Locust Control Programme. HIL had manufactured and supplied 67 MT of Malathion Technical till last week

HIL supplied to malathion Technical to municipal corporations for dengue and chikungunya control programme.

Supply of 314 MT of DDT 50 per cent wdp to various states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh etc was executed as per the supply order placed by ministry of family welfares, NVBDCP programmes. The company is in process of supplying balance quantity of 252 MT to other state.

During the lockdown period till 15th May 2020, HIL produced 120 MT of Malathion Technical, 120.40 MT of DDT Technical , 288 MT of DDT 50 per cent, 21 MT of HILGOLD (Water Soluble Fertilizer), 12 MT of Mancozeb Fungicide for exports and 35 MT of different agrochemical formulations so that farming community and health department may not feel the heat of lockdown.

PM Modi launches technology platform ‘champions.gov.in’ for MSMEs

“Source:- Times Now News”
New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the technology platform ‘Champions’ which stands for Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength to empower MSMEs.

According to a PIB release outlining the platform’s objectives, this portal “is a one-stop place for the MSME sector. The focus areas are support & hand-holding, grievance redressal, harnessing entrepreneurial talent, and discovering new business opportunities.”

Some of the major objectives of this portal are to help the MSMEs in this difficult situation in terms of finance, raw materials, labour, permissions, etc. And, also help the MSMEs capture new opportunities including manufacturing of medical items & accessories.

The platform also aims to identify the sparks, i.e., the bright MSMEs who can withstand at present and become national and international champions.

In a statement, the government said that “It is a technology-packed control room-cum-management information system. In addition to ICT tools including telephone, internet, and video conference, the system is enabled by Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, and Machine Learning. It is also fully integrated on a real-time basis with GOI’s main grievances portal CPGRAMS and MSME Ministry’s own other web-based mechanisms. The entire ICT architecture is created in house with the help of NIC at no cost. Similarly, the physical infrastructure is created in one of the ministry’s dumping rooms in record time.”

Bajaj Auto to enter Thailand with premium motorcycle brands

“Source:- IBEF”
Bajaj Auto Ltd plans to enter Thailand with its premium motorcycle brands, including KTM, Husqvarna, Dominar and Pulsar NS series, by July 2020, said a senior company executive.

“Asean in an important geography for us wherein, apart from Philippines, we are not really present in the other countries. We are now focusing on Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mayanmar, Cambodia, Laos and others,” Mr Rakesh Sharma, executive director at Bajaj Auto said.

“We plan to enter that market (Thailand) by July combining our forces with KTM. We are delayed due to the pandemic as earlier the plan was to enter that market in April,” added Mr Sharma.

The company intends to enter the sports category with premium brands such as Dominar and the Pulsar NS range leading the charge, he added.

A new distributor for Thailand has been appointed by Bajaj Auto who will be responsible for setting up the local network and build the business for KTM as well as other brands.

“We have also identified some dealers and dealer appointment and setting up of the network is underway,” said the senior company executive.

The company targets to strengthen its presence in the region, which is largely dominated by the Japanese automakers.

Bajaj Auto has local subsidiary PT. Bajaj Auto Indonesia in the country for local presence, which overlooks operations of the local distributor appointed for retail and distribution of KTM bikes.

“We are front-ending KTM and Husqvarna brands in Indonesia and will venture with premium Bajaj brands in a year from now,” Mr Sharma said.

The company also has a strong presence in Philippines where it is present along with its partner Kawasaki. He added that Bajaj Auto entered Malaysia 18-20 months ago with the Pulsar series, which is doing well.

“On the three-wheeler business, we have created the market in Philippines, Cambodia and Mayanmar,” Mr Sharma said.

Mr Aditya Jhawar, auto analyst at Investec Capital Services (India) Pvt Ltd said, some of the African countries are facing stress, which are key export markets for Bajaj Auto, and the risk of currency devaluation, the company is aiming on ramping up its presence in the other important regions.

“Asean countries are horizon-one markets for Bajaj Auto, which means they are being looked at with urgency,” Mr Jhawar said.

The company’s domestic sales in FY20 was supported by a 10 per cent growth in motorcycle exports. Though, Bajaj Auto reported 8 per cent y-o-y decline in its consolidated revenues for the March quarter at Rs 6,816 crore (US$ 966.95 million). There was also a drop of 4 per cent y-o-y at Rs 1,354 crore (US$ 192.08 million) in consolidated net profit for the period.

For FY20, Bajaj Auto reported 6 per cent growth in its consolidated net profit at Rs 5,212 crore (US$ 739.40 million) despite a decline of 1.44 per cent in its revenue from operations, which stood at Rs 29,919 crore (US$ 4.24 billion).

The company exported 47 per cent of motorcycles and 45 per cent of three-wheelers produced in FY20.

PepsiCo ties up with Dunzo to enable last-mile delivery of its food brands

“Source:- Livemint”

New Delhi: Food and beverages major PepsiCo India on Tuesday said it has tied up with on-demand delivery service platform Dunzo to deliver its products from four food brands at consumers’ doorsteps.

The initiative has been launched as a pilot in Bengaluru to deliver PepsiCo’s products from food brands Lay’s, Kurkure, Doritos and Quaker.

The company is planning to expand the service to Mumbai, Gurugram, Delhi, and Jaipur, a joint statement said.

As part of the initiative, Dunzo would host Lay’s e-store on its app and would deliver products within an hour of ordering.

“The tie-up with Dunzo will further strengthen our ‘Direct-to-Customer’ initiative and provide our products at the customers’ doorstep,” PepsiCo India Senior Director, Marketing Dilen Gandhi said.

Dunzo CEO & Co-Founder Kabeer Biswas said:“Partnership with PepsiCo India will give users access to the products they love while maintaining the highest quality of safety standards in the packaging as well as the delivery of these essential products.”

During lockdown, several FMCG companies have partnered with app-based delivery platforms to send their essential products at the doorsteps of the consumers.

Gemopai Miso will be India’s first ‘social distancing’ scooter

“Source:- Timnes Now News”
Electric scooter manufacturer Gemopai recently announced that it will soon launch a new e-scooter in India. Christened Miso, this upcoming fully electric scooter can be expected to hit the market next month or by July 2020. While announcing the product, the company also released a teaser hinting at Miso’s silhouette. As seen by this teaser, Gemopai Miso looks like a slow-sped scooter with a single saddle. This electric scooter also gets a utility carrier which, we believe, will be offered as an option. The EV maker also noted that Miso will be India’s first ‘social distancing’ mini scooter, which leads us to believe that it will be suitable intra-city commutation.

The details concerning Gemopai Miso are scarce but the teaser reveals that it will have a very functional design with almost no body panels. It will come with a single saddle, wide handlebars, and alloy wheels. It is expected to get a fully digital instrument panel and offer connectivity features via a dedicated app, which will offer provide the rider with information like battery range, nearest charging station, vehicle status, charging status, etc.

Gemopai Miso will most likely make use of a lithium-ion battery that will offer a riding range of around 60 to 65 km on a single charge. And as for the top-speed, it will be a slow-sped product since it is a mini scooter and we expect a top speed of around 25 km/h to 35 km/h.

In the post-COVID-19 scenario, we expect a lot of people to opt for personal mobility as compared to shared mobility and public transports. A majority of such people are likely to gravitate towards two-wheelers (because of affordability), especially electric two-wheelers, which have a very low running cost. In line with this, products like Gemopai Miso and other entry-level EVs can be more in demand than ever.

Ola Electric acquires Etergo BV, a Netherlands-based electric scooter OEM

“Source:- IBEF”
Ola Electric Mobility Pvt Ltd, the electric vehicle arm of Ola, has acquired Amsterdam-based Etergo BV, manufacturer of electric scooters.

This marks the entry of Ola Electric in the premium electric two-wheeler market. The company plans to manufacture these scooters.

Etergo was founded in 2014 and has developed an all-electric state-of-the-art ‘AppScooter’, first launched in 2018. The AppScooter utilises swappable high energy density batteries to deliver a range up to 240 km.

Though, this concept is still in early stage and Ola plans to introduce these electric scooters on Indian roads by the start of 2021, with manufacturing units set up in the country.

“The future of mobility is electric, and the post COVID world presents an opportunity for us to accelerate the adoption of electric mobility globally. Every year, almost twice the number of two-wheelers is sold across the world compared to cars. With electric, digitally connected capabilities, two-wheelers will further emerge as the most preferred urban mobility paradigm around the world and empower every consumer,” said Mr Bhavish Aggarwal, founder and chairman, Ola Electric.

Mr Aggarwal confirmed that Ola will build engineering, design, and manufacturing capabilities for these products in India.

“We are looking forward to joining Ola Electric and together, reimagining electric mobility to transform the way the world moves!” said Mr Bart Jacobsz Rosier, co-founder and chief executive, Etergo BV.

With this acquisition, Ola Electric’s engineering and design capabilities will be enhanced, considering Etergo team’s vehicle development experience with automotive companies including Tesla, General Motors, Ferrari, Jaguar, and BMW.

Etergo’s team will continue to be based out of Amsterdam as they join Ola Electric.

Ola Electric has been planning to set up extensive charging and swapping networks around the country over the past year and is currently running various pilots to deploy electric vehicles and charging solutions across cities with a focus on two- and three-wheelers space.

According to the company, it claims to be working with power distribution companies for developing a beneficial EV ecosystem through the establishment of battery swapping and charging stations in the national capital.

In July 2019, Ola Electric became one of the fastest unicorns of the Indian start-up ecosystem after it raised over US$ 250 million from SoftBank, pegging the valuation of the entity to a little more than US$ 1 billion.

Apart from Softbank, Ola Electric is backed by the likes of Tata Sons chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, Tiger Global, and Matrix India.

India overtakes Japan with fifth-largest hydropower capacity in the world

“Source:-  Energy Infra Post”
India has overtaken Japan becoming the nation with the fifth-largest hydropower production capacity in the world with its total installed base now standing at over 50 Gigawatt (GW), behind Canada, US, Brazil and China, according to International Hydropower Association (IHA).

The London-based global hydropower trade body has just published the 2020 Hydropower Status Report and Covid-19 Policy Paper. According to data put out in the report, global hydropower installed capacity reached 1,308 GW in 2019, as 50 countries completed greenfield and upgrade projects, including pumped storage.

A total of 15.6 GW in installed capacity was added in 2019, down from 21.8 GW in 2018. This represents a rise of 1.2 per cent, which is below the estimated 2.0 per cent growth rate required for the world to meet Paris Agreement carbon reduction targets. The countries with the highest increases in were Brazil (4.92 GW), China (4.17 GW) and Laos (1.89 GW).

IHA also said hydropower’s flexibility services have been in high demand during the Covid-19 crisis, while plant operations have been less affected due to the degree of automation in modern facilities.

MG Motor to increase investment in EVs from 2022

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI: MG Motors India Pvt Ltd, one of the new entrants in the domestic market, plans to increase its investment in the electric vehicle space in India from 2022.

The company expects economy to return to normalcy in a couple of years and feels such zero emission vehicles will get a significant traction in the domestic market in the medium to long term, a senior executive at the automaker said.

MG Motor will launch an affordable electric vehicle in the range of 12-15 lakh which will qualify for the subsidy under the Indian government’s FAME or Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles scheme. The company will also launch a new variant of ZS electric vehicle that will come with a 500-kilometre range.

It also plans to increase its localization of components of electric vehicles and start assembling lithium-ion batteries and other critical components in India.

Rajeev Chaba, president, MG Motor India said, “This is our mid-term to long term plan. We want to double our bets on electric vehicles in the medium to long term and want to be the leader (in the EV space). That’s why we will come with a battery with 500 kilometres range to show our intent.”

China’s SAIC Corp-owned company will also launch its electric sport utility vehicle, ZS, in five new tier-one cities from June. Initially, the company had focused only on metro cities. The company launched the ZS electric vehicle in January this year, as its second product in the Indian market after Hector, a mid-size sport utility vehicle.

These plans are being firmed up despite a border standoff between India and China and restrictions imposed by India on Chinese investments.

“Government basically has changed the procedure, and has not said no (to any investments), to which one has to apply and the application has to go through that process and may be it takes another two weeks time for approval. This is what the government has even clarified to us,” Chaba said.

The Indian automobile industry is expected to see a significant decline in sales during the current year due to covid-19 induced economic downturn and as most manufacturers are expected to delay their planned investments in different segments, including electric vehicles.

“Even in 2021 everyone is talking about 8% GDP growth because the base will go down in 2020. So, 2022 will be a good year and all these plans are lined up for then. The battery assembly will happen in our plant but whether it will be done by us or a vendor that has not been decided,” added Chaba.

 

Make in India gets a big boost; MoD places indent for supply of 156 upgraded BMP Infantry Combat Vehicles of value Rs 1,094 crore on OFB

“Source:- IBEF”
In a major boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government, Acquisition Wing of Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the approval of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, has today placed an Indent on Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for supply of 156 BMP 2/2k Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) with upgraded features for use of the Mechanised Forces of the Indian Army. Under this Indent, the ICVs will be manufactured by Ordnance Factory, Medak in Telangana at an approximate cost of Rs 1,094 crore (US$ 155.20 million).

The BMP-2/2K ICVs are going to be powered by 285 horsepower engines and are lower in weight which will make them highly mobile to meet all tactical requirements of mobility in the battlefield. These ICVs will be able to reach a speed of 65 kilometres per hour (kmph) with easy steering ability in cross country terrain. They will have amphibious capabilities to travel at 07 kmph in water. These are designed to overcome slope of up to 35° cross obstacles of 0.7 metre and have lethal firepower capability.

With the induction of these 156 BMP 2/2K ICVs, planned to be completed by 2023, the existing deficiency in the Mechanised Infantry Battalions will be mitigated and the combat capability of the Army will be further enhanced.

India as a major country of the world with appropriate technology, capital including FDI and extraordinary human resource contributing significantly to the global economy: Ravi Shankar Prasad

“Source:- IBEF”
The Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always believed in transformative programs be it Digital India, Make in India and Startup India. These initiatives have empowered ordinary Indians, led to digital inclusion, encouraged innovation and entrepreneurship, and raised the stature of India as a global digital power.

Promotion of electronics manufacturing has been a key component of Make in India program. With efforts such as the National Policy on Electronics, 2019, Modified Special Incentive Scheme (MSIPS), Electronics Manufacturing Clusters and Electronics Development Fund etc., India’s production of electronics grew from US$ 29 billion in 2014 to US$ 70 billion in 2019. The growth in mobile phone manufacturing has been remarkable during this period. From just 2 mobile phone factories in 2014, India now has become the second largest mobile phone producer in the world.  Production of mobile handsets in 2018-19 has reached 29 crore units worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore (US$ 24.12 billion) from just 6 crore units worth Rs 19,000 crore (US$ 2.70 billion) in 2014. While the exports of electronics have increased from Rs 38,263 crore (US$ 5.43 billion) in 2014-15 to Rs 61,908 crore (US$ 8.78 billion) in 2018-19, India’s share in global electronics production has reached 3 per cent in 2018 from just 1.3 per cent in 2012.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clarion call for Aatma Nirbhar Bharat – a self-reliant India.  Minister of Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad has often elaborated that this does not mean India in isolation but India as a major country of the world with appropriate technology, capital including FDI and extraordinary human resource contributing significantly to the global economy.

With a view to building a robust manufacturing ecosystem which will be an asset to the global economy we are looking forward to developing a strong ecosystem across the value chain and integrating it with global value chains. This is the essence of these three Schemes namely, the

  1. Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing,
  2. Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS)
  3. Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme

The PLI Scheme shall extend an incentive of 4 per cent to 6 per cent on incremental sales (over base year) of goods manufactured in India and covered under the target segments, to eligible companies, for a period of five years subsequent to the base year. The SPECS shall provide financial incentive of 25 per cent on capital expenditure for the identified list of electronic goods, i.e., electronic components, semiconductor/ display fabrication units, Assembly, Test, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) units, specialized sub-assemblies and capital goods for manufacture of aforesaid goods. The EMC 2.0 shall provide support for creation of world class infrastructure along with common facilities and amenities, including Ready Built Factory (RBF) sheds / Plug and Play facilities for attracting major global electronics manufacturers, along with their supply chains.

The triology of Schemes entail an outlay of about Rs 50,000 crore (US$ 7.09 billion). The Schemes will help offset the disability for domestic electronics manufacturing and hence, strengthen the electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the country. The three Schemes together will enable large scale electronics manufacturing, domestic supply chain of components and state-of-the-art infrastructure and common facilities for large anchor units and their supply chain partners. These Schemes shall contribute significantly to achieving a US$ 1 Trillion digital economy and a US$ 5 Trillion GDP by 2025.

The three new Schemes are expected to attract substantial investments, increase production of mobile phones and their parts/ components to around Rs 10 lakh crore (US$ 141.86 billion) by 2025 and generate around 5 lakh direct and 15 lakh indirect jobs.

European infra company A&M’s JV to invest Rs 100 crore in Mumbai Metro project

“Source:- IBEF”
A&M Development Group, a European infrastructure development company, plans to invest Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.19 million) to a Mumbai metro project along with RCC Infra Ventures through its recently formed Indian arm, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium.

The company, which is backed by Nasdaq-listed Polaris Energy Resources, has written letter seeking permission from Maharashtra chief minister Mr Uddhav Thackeray to invest in Chembur-Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) phase of the Mumbai metro project.

In India, this will be A&M Development Group’s first investment after its announcement in April to invest US$ 20 billion in mega projects including smart cities in the country in the coming years.

Although, the MBZ-RCC Infra Ventures joint venture bagged the contract for the project, but it was cancelled due to the company’s inability to achieve a financial closure.

Now, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium wrote to the state government expressing its commitment to bring in the funds to revive the project.

“We (Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium) are not looking at just government contracts but also helping private companies facing funds shortage in completing various activities,” said Mr Inderjot Singh Oberoi, country head (India-Saarc), Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium. “Out of total US$ 20 billion, our first investment is Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.19 million) with RCC. We plan to take this further to Rs 500 crore (US$ 70.93 million) for completing projects in roads, low-cost housing and other future projects.”

The two companies have formed a pact to explore more investment opportunities with each other, and RCC will also be pitching other projects wherein Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium will come in as a financial partner.

“Despite of best efforts, progress of our MMRDA contract suffered because of site issues and banking impediments,” said Mr Luv Jain, executive director, RCC Infra Ventures. “Though we were in touch with other companies earlier, the tie-up with Oberoi-A&M will help us in finishing not just this contract but also other infrastructure projects that we are working on.”

In April 2020, during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, A&M Development Group established its India office with plans to develop and execute roads, bridges, metro networks, airports, hydroelectric and irrigation dams, smart cities and low-cost housing projects through contracting and finance route.

Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium has also pledged to donate 10 per cent of its profits to the PM’s National Relief Fund for the next ten years.

Microsoft launches program to accelerate growth of agritech startups in India

“Source:- Livemint”
Technology giant Microsoft on Wednesday announced the launch of a program for agritech startups in India that are committed to driving transformation in agriculture.

The Microsoft for Agritech Startups program is designed to help startups build industry-specific solutions, scale and grow with access to deep technology, business and marketing resources, the company said in a statement.

Agritech startups in India are transforming agriculture by developing innovative digital solutions to maximize productivity, improve market linkages, increase supply chain efficiency and provide greater access to inputs for agri-businesses. In its efforts to bolster the country’s startup ecosystem, this program offers the best-in-class tech and business enablement resources to help agritech startups innovate and scale fast.

Startups will also get access to Azure FarmBeats, which enables aggregation of agriculture datasets across providers and generation of actionable insights by building artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) models based on fused datasets.

“Sustainable agricultural technology can transform the global food landscape. Agritech startup innovations are addressing some of our key challenges connected to agriculture and food production. The Microsoft for Agritech Startups program is among the early steps in our journey towards empowering these startups in India and transforming global agricultural practices,” said Sangeeta Bavi, Director, Startup Ecosystem, Microsoft India.

Spread across three tiers, the program offers a range of benefits, including tech enablement and business resources. Qualified seed to Series C startups can boost their businesses with Azure benefits (including free credits), unlimited technical support and help with Azure Marketplace onboarding.

Startups with enterprise-ready solutions can scale quickly with joint go-to-market strategies, technical support and new sales opportunities with Microsoft’s partner ecosystem, while startups that are looking to create digital agriculture solutions have the opportunity to co-build customized solutions with Azure FarmBeats without investing in deep data engineering resources.

European infra company A&M’s JV to invest Rs 100 crore in Mumbai Metro project

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI:
European infrastructure development company A&M Development Group has committed Rs 100 crore to a Mumbai metro project along with RCC Infra  Ventures through its recently formed Indian arm, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium.

The company, backed by Nasdaq-listed Polaris Energy Resources, has written to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking permission to invest in Chembur-Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) phase of the Mumbai metro project.

This will be A&M Development Group’s maiden investment in India after its announcement in April to invest $20 billion in mega projects including smart cities in the country in the coming years.

The MBZ-RCC Infra Ventures  joint venture had bagged the contract for the project, but it was cancelled due to the company’s inability to achieve a financial closure.

Recently, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium wrote to the state government expressing its commitment to bring in the funds to revive the project. ET has seen a copy of the letter.

“We (Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium) are not looking at just government contracts but also helping private companies facing funds shortage in completing various activities,” Inderjot Singh Oberoi, country head (India-Saarc), Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium, told ET. “Out of total $20 billion, our first investment is Rs 100 crore with RCC. We plan to take this further to Rs 500 crore for completing projects in roads, low-cost housing and other future projects.”

The two entities have entered into an agreement to explore more investment opportunities with each other, and RCC will also be pitching other projects wherein Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium will come in as a financial partner.

“Despite of best efforts, progress of our MMRDA contract suffered because of site issues and banking impediments,” said Luv Jain, executive director, RCC Infra Ventures. “Though we were in touch with other companies earlier, the tie-up with Oberoi-A&M will help us in finishing not just this contract but also other infrastructure projects that we are working on.”

In April, amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, A&M Development Group established its India office with plans to develop and execute roads, bridges, metro networks, airports, hydroelectric and irrigation dams, smart cities and low-cost housing projects through contracting and finance route.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium has pledged to donate 10% of its profits to the PM’s National Relief Fund for the next ten years.

India’s online video market to touch US$ 4 billion by 2025

“Source:- IBEF”
The online video market in India is estimated to reach US$ 4 billion by 2025, with subscription services contributing more than US$ 1.5 billion while advertising accounting for US$ 2.5 billion.

The major contribution will be by Google’s YouTube, followed by Disney+ Hotstar.

Disney+ Hotstar is the streaming service owned by Disney India and has potential to acquire 25 per cent of the total online video revenue pie by 2025.

Details of these projections are given under a report titled India Intelligence and Insights: Disney+ Hotstar: The Future of India’s Largest Premium Digital Video Platform brought out by independent research and consultancy services firm Media Partners Asia (MPA).

“In the current COVID situation, audiences are spending more time online and OTT platforms have almost doubled their viewership. This viewership trend is likely to continue at least for a few years. Hence, advertising on the services is likely to surge in the coming years as they increasingly become the choice for content consumption,” said Mr Anita Nayyar, head, customer strategy and relationships, ZEE5.

As per the report by FICCI-EY media and entertainment industry report 2020, television advertising in India, on the other hand, is estimated to reach Rs 388 billion (US$ 5.1 billion) by 2022.

“The pay economy for online content will be successful if we work with quality content, and price it in the right manner,” said Mr Vishnu Mohta, co-founder of Bengali video streaming platform Hoichoi. “It would happen because the COVID pandemic has catapulted OTT growth by some five years. Things that people would have expected to see in 2025, might happen now.”

Mr D Girish, vice-president, strategy at documentary streaming service DocuBay added that the current crisis has expedited the adoption of digital platforms by a large percentage of content consumers.

He added, “SVoD is not dependent on advertising spends by brands that are among the first to be impacted whenever there is a certain corporate or economic downturn; however, greater digital adoption also opens the door for a larger turf for AVoD monetization than in the past.”

According to MPA, Disney+ Hotstar could reach 93 million paying subscribers by 2025 at monthly ARPUs (average revenue per user) under US$ 1. Thus, taking subscription revenue to US$ 587 million by 2025 while advertising sales could reach US$ 314 million.

Though, any impact from new services such as gaming or expansion to south east Asia was not considered in report.

The effect of COVID-19 will be seen on the revenue of advertising market with TV bearing the brunt while digital video will also come under pressure. There is no exception by the Disney+ Hotstar’s advertisement packages.

Although, Disney+ enjoyed the benefit of subscription through the first half of 2020 from its launch in April 2020. Regardless the absence of the popular IPL cricket tournament, Disney+ contributed meaningfully to premium tier subscriber growth and remained churn positive through the period, as per MPA analysis.

According to the report, the strengthen of the platform includes sports, local originals, Hollywood entertainment and its super aggregator strategy. In order to increase subscribers, drive viewership and stay ahead of aggressive global and local competition, the company must sustain and accelerate the pace of its investment in product innovation, content creation and acquisition as well as retain its key sports rights. It must also develop new features and services including gaming and the aggregation of more local live and on-demand content.

It was rebranded as Disney+ Hotstar earlier this year, pricing, content mix and tech are main pillars of the Disney+ Hotstar strategy, added the MPA report. Pricing plays the important role as India’s large pay-TV universe only pays US$ 4 per month for a wide range of live TV channels, including sports and entertainment. Annual offers at attractive rates have been the key to creating an online subscription business at scale. Disney has three distinct offerings – Disney+ Hotstar VIP, Disney+ Hotstar Premium and an ad-supported basic tier. The VIP plan is available for Rs 399 (US$ 5.66) a year while the premium subscription comes for Rs 1,499 (US4 21.26).

Disney+ Hotstar’s major differentiation has been its vast aggregation of premium local and international entertainment and sports, driving its present-day addressable market to 100 million plus subscribers.

Disney+ comes with content bundled from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

PM e-VIDYA initiative to bring more opportunities for ed-tech startups

“Source:- Livemint”
MUMBAI : Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday announced the immediate launch ‘Pradhan Mantri e-VIDYA’ initiative for digital education, which is likely to boost already high interest in the ed-tech startups, given the extended at-home learning requirements that the industry is catering to.

Top 100 universities of the country will be allowed to start online courses by 30 May, Sitharaman said while announcing several measures for the education sector.

“This should create opportunities for the players in the education sector and technology companies to create, distribute and monetize, relevant digital content targeted at all sections of the society leading to a much wider reach and impact. During these tough times, the right use of digital technologies can go a long way in achieving the goals laid out by the government,” said Ashvin Vellody, partner, Deloitte India.

Online education platforms in India have already been raking in huge funding from investors over the past few years. Earlier this year, Ed-tech startup Unacademy raised $110 million from social networking giant Facebook and US private equity firm General Atlantic, at a post-money valuation of $510 million. Byju’s with $5.7 billion valuation is one of the leading Indian unicorns and is still building its funding backbone according to reports.

In challenging business environment like the current pandemic, India saw a number of good-sized deals in this space in Q1CY20. Edtech was a big winner in first quarter with Byju raising $400 million, Unacademy raising $110 million, and Aakash Educational acquiring Meritnation, says a KPMG report.

Sitharaman also announced that Diksha — the CBSE’s learning platform — would be extended to schools in states and Union territories. E-content and QR coded textbooks would be provided for all grades under a one nation – one digital platform initiative. One TV channel for one grade for all classes 1 to 12 – one class one channel for students who do not have access to internet. Radio, community radio and podcasts would be extensively used for the same.

“Initiatives announced by the FM are a welcome move and if given an opportunity, we are always open to collaborate with the government to support students with our commitment to make high-quality education accessible to them and keep them engaged through our adaptive learning techniques,” said Zishaan Hayath, CEO and Co-Founder, Toppr a learning platform for school students.

Sitharaman also said that Swayam Prabha DTH channels were launched to support and reach those who do not have access to the internet. Now 12 more channels will be added. The finance minister announced several new initiatives that will be started by the government in the education sector to promote “technology-driven education with equity post-COVID.”.

Special e-content would be developed for visually and hearing impaired.

Knowing that adoption of e-learning and implementation of tech-driven education is the only way forward, at upGrad, we opened our live learning platform to all schools, colleges, educational institutions, NGO’s and Government Bodies in mid-March itself. The push from the government to online education will further drive everyone to get accustomed to e-learning and with SWAYAM PRABHA DTH, within a short period of time, everyone across the country will seamlessly have access to all educational content,” said Mayank Kumar, co-founder and MD, upGrad.

Currently, over 50 institutions are conducting their classes seamlessly through the upGrad Live platform with over 45,000 students registered. Some of the institutions include Nagpur University, Lovely Professional University, Jamia Hamdard University, Sinhgad Group of Institution, ABES, as well as several colleges from Tripura.

Indiabulls Housing Finance raises Rs 1,030 cr by issuing bonds on private placement basis

“Source:- First Post”
New Delhi: Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd on Monday said it has raised Rs 1,030 crore by issuing bonds on a private placement basis.

The company on May 18 allotted 10,300 secured, redeemable, non-convertible debentures of face value Rs 10 lakh each, aggregating to Rs 1,030 crore, on a private placement basis, the company said in a regulatory filing.

The coupon rate on the bonds with three years tenor is 9.10 percent per annum (payable annually).

Shares of Indiabulls Housing Finance closed 10.87 percent down at Rs 118.85 on BSE.

General Atlantic to invest Rs 6,598 crore in Jio Platforms

“Source:- IBEF”
New York-based private equity giant General Atlantic plans to invest Rs 6,598.38 crore (US$ 936.07 million) in Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in its digital assets subsidiary, Jio Platforms Ltd.

This deal comes just two days ahead of the launch of RIL’s Rs 53,000 crore (US$ 7.52 billion) rights issue and will see General Atlantic pick up a 1.34 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, taking the value of the company at Rs 4.91 trillion (US$ 69.66 billion).

In the last month, with the latest deal, Jio Platforms has raised Rs 67,194.75 crore (US$ 9.53 billion) from marquee tech investors, such as Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners and General Atlantic.

The enterprise value of the Jio Platform has reached Rs 5.16 trillion (US$ 73.20 billion) with the deal with General Atlantic.

“I am thrilled to welcome General Atlantic, a marquee global investor, as a valued partner. I have known General Atlantic for several decades and greatly admired it for its belief in India’s huge growth potential,” said Mr Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, RIL. “General Atlantic shares our vision of a digital society for India and strongly believes in the transformative power of digitization in enriching the lives of 1.3 billion Indians. We are excited to leverage General Atlantic’s proven global expertise and strategic insights across 40 years of technology investing for the benefit of Jio.”

The idea behind the RIL’s strategy to raise funds through a flurry of stake sales is mainly intended at building confidence among potential investors for its mega rights issue amid a volatile equity market during the COVID-19 crisis.

RIL announced raising of Rs 53,125 crore (US$ 7.54 billion) through a 1:15 rights issue (one new share for every 15 shares held) at an offer price of Rs 1,257 (US$ 17.83) apiece on 30 April 2020 and the issue is set to open on 20 May.

RIL will let its subscribers buy the rights issue shares by only making a part payment now and the rest later because of the uncertainties in the market, giving RIL promoters more time to bring in enough money to fully subscribe to the rights issue. Shareholders, those are willing to subscribe to the rights issue will have to pay 25 per cent on application and the rest in one or more tranches. With 50 per cent shareholding, RIL’s promoter group led by Ambani will need Rs 26,600 crore (US$ 3.77 billion) to subscribe to its portion of the rights issue.

Sterling and Wilson Solar bags EPC contract in Australia for Rs 2600 crore

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Sterling and Wilson Solar Limited (SWSL)has bagged an Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contract in Australia for Rs 2,600 crore.

Further, the contract includes operation and maintenance which is estimated to be worth Rs 415 crore for 20 years, the company said in a statement.

This contract, its largest in Australia, comes within 15 months of setting up operations there.
With this order, the Shapoorji Pallonji backed company’s cumulative order book in Australia is estimated to be Rs 4,900 crore.

A substantial portion of the company’s international revenues for the current financial year will come from Australia, South America and the United States (US) where the construction of solar projects has now commenced, the company said. However, it did not provide details of the revenue breakup.

Bikesh Ogra – Director and Global CEO, Sterling and Wilson Solar Limited said, “This is our largest order in Australia and is a culmination of efforts to break new ground in countries like Australia, the United States and South America, where SWSL has invested in a strong team that is completely aligned with the local requirements.”

SWSL has a presence in 25 markets. It also provides operations and maintenance services, for third party projects. Its main markets span Asia, Australia, West Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

Renewable projects in India, which also add up to the company’s revenues, have been allowed to restart now. SWSL is in the process of handing over Covid-19 seems to have passed and the Company is looking forward to increased activity in order booking and revenues, the company said.

Additionally, Sterling and Wilson has signed two projects in India with independent power producers which is valued at Rs 620 crore.

PM gives a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat; PM announces special economic package; comprehensive package of Rs 20 lakh crore

“Source:- IBEF”
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the nation today. Recalling those who have died battling the pandemic, Prime Minister said that the crisis that has emerged due to COVID-19 is unprecedented, but in this battle, we not only need to protect ourselves but also have to keep moving forward.

Self-reliant India

Talking about the pre and post COVID worlds, Prime Minister observed that in order to fulfill the dream of making the 21st century India’s, the way forward is through ensuring that the country becomes self-reliant. Talking about turning a crisis into an opportunity, he gave the example of PPE kits N-95 masks, whose production in India has gone up from almost being negligible to 2 lakh each, on daily basis.

Prime Minister remarked that the definition of self-reliance has undergone a change in the globalized world and clarified that when the country talks about self-reliance, it is different from being self-centred. He said that India’s culture considers the world as one family, and progress in India is part of, and contributes to, progress in the whole world. He noted that the world trusts that India has a lot to contribute towards the development of the entire humanity.

Five pillars of a self-reliant India

Recalling the devastation in Kutch after the earthquake, Prime Minister said that through determination and resolve, the area was back on its feet. A similar determination is needed to make the country self-reliant.

He said that a self-reliant India will stand on five pillars viz. Economy, which brings in quantum jump and not incremental change; Infrastructure, which should become the identity of India; System, based on 21st century technology driven arrangements; Vibrant Demography, which is our source of energy for a self-reliant India; and Demand, whereby the strength of our demand and supply chain should be utilized to full capacity. He underlined the importance of strengthening all stakeholders in the supply chain to increase, as well as fulfil, the demand.

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan

Prime Minister announced a special economic package and gave a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat. He noted that this package, taken together with earlier announcements by the government during COVID crisis and decisions taken by RBI, is to the tune of Rs 20 lakh crore (US$ 283.73 billion), which is equivalent to almost 10 per cent of India’s GDP. He said that the package will provide a much-needed boost towards achieving ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Prime Minister observed that the package will also focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class, industries, among others. He informed that the details of the contours of the package will be provided by the Finance Minister from tomorrow, in the coming few days.

Talking about the positive impact of reforms like JAM trinity and others, brought about in the last six years, Prime Minister said that several bold reforms are needed to make the country self-reliant, so that the impact of crisis such as COVID, can be negated in future. These reforms include supply chain reforms for agriculture, rational tax system, simple and clear laws, capable human resource and a strong financial system. These reforms will promote business, attract investment, and further strengthen Make in India.

Prime Minister remarked that self-reliance will prepare the country for tough competition in the global supply chain, and it is important that the country wins this competition. The same has been kept in mind while preparing the package. It will not only increase efficiency in various sectors but also ensure quality.

Highlighting their contribution to the country, Prime Minister said that the package will also focus on empowering the poor, labourers, migrants, etc., both from organized and unorganized sectors.

He observed that the crisis has taught us the importance of local manufacturing, local market and local supply chains. All our demands during the crisis were met ‘locally’. Now, it’s time to be vocal about the local products and help these local products become global, he said.

Living with COVID

Prime Minister noted that several experts and scientists have said that the virus is going to be part of our lives for a long time. But it is also important to ensure that our life does-not revolve only around it. He exhorted people to work towards their targets while taking precautions like wearing masks and maintaining ‘do gaz doori’.

On the fourth stage of Lockdown, he said that its contours will be completely different from those seen yet. On the basis of recommendations received from states, new rules will be framed, and information about the same will be conveyed before 18th May.

Philips to invest Rs 300 crore in India manufacturing, R&D

“Source:- IBEF”
Philips, Dutch healthtech and consumer electronics company, plans to invest Rs 250-300 crore (US$ 35.47-42.56 million) to boost its manufacturing and R&D facilities in India. It also aims to hire 1,000 people over the next two to three years, adding to its existing workforce of over 6,000 people.

“Even as we work through the current crisis, we are focused on the future and are investing towards it,” said Mr Daniel Mazon, vice chairman and managing director for Indian subcontinent at Philips India.

He added that the company will expand its factory near Pune by 7,200 sq ft to start manufacturing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-ray equipment. Philips is also building a new 650,000 sq ft campus in Bengaluru that can house over 5,000 people and will be ready by 2023.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company witnessed an increase in demand for its connected care solutions. Thus, it plans to work towards more public-private-partnerships (PPP) in this space.

“We currently have about 100 PPPs in India in radiology and cardiology and would like to add more in connected care,” said Mr Mazon. The target is to ramp this up to 200 such partnerships over the next year or so. “We will combine IT and hardware to create a very strong solution in connected healthcare,” added Mr Mazon, that this also ties in with the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

In order to provide better healthcare solutions, the company plans to offer connected care solutions by combining hardware like monitors and ventilators to patient monitoring and access systems. This will also benefit hospitals in smaller towns connect to a speciality hospital in a larger city. The company is in talks with various state governments to start implementation of this, especially as healthcare will start shifting to a more remote model as a result of this pandemic.

Philips has been using its Healthcare Innovation Centre in Pune as a hub to export to several countries across the world, and Mr Mazon said the company will look at exporting the new product lines out of India as well. The HIC focuses on end-to-end product development and manufacturing for key product lines like ultrasound machines and mobile surgery units.

Amazon Business launches ‘Covid-19 supplies store’

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Amazon Business today introduced the ‘Covid-19 Supplies Store’ to provide easy access for businesses to buy Covid related supplies on Amazon. Frontline organizations such as healthcare and government can purchase Covid-19 related essentials in bulk from the store to effectively fight the virus, as per the company’s official release.

The multinational conglomerate said that the ‘Covid-19 Supplies Store’ has been specifically curated to provide instant access to critical medical supplies and safety products. Customers need not spend time searching for individual products. The store has a wide selection of items like N95 Masks, Surgical Masks, Sanitizers, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Kits, Gloves, Shoe Covers, PPE Suits, Facial Shields, and Infrared Thermometers, among others.

Commenting on the initiative, Manish Tiwary, Vice President – Category Management, Amazon India, said in the official release: “The ‘Covid-19 Supplies Store’ is our effort towards providing institutional buyers with a one-stop-shop for all their needs around safety and sanitization products.

He further added: “The store seeks to serve bulk buying needs of healthcare professionals and organizations as the nation continues to fight the virus. In these unprecedented times, Amazon remains committed to serve the nation by providing instant access and delivering products safely to customers across the country.”

Amazon Business claims to support organizations and their employees to stay safe by providing them instant access to various safety products. It stated that institutional buyers can get competitive quotes from multiple suppliers, coupled with safe delivery. These business purchases also come with the benefit of bulk pricing and GST invoices to ensure compliance and claim the input tax credit, Amazon mentioned.

Hyd startup ekincare offers free telemedicine services to India Inc in COVID fight

“Source:- The News Minute”
As the coronavirus wreaks havoc with the healthcare system, telemedicine is proving to be an important weapon in bridging the gap between people, physicians, and health systems. A Hyderabad-based corporate health benefits startup, ekincare is helping India Inc fight COVID-19 by offering free telemedicine services to employees of more than 600 companies and their dependents.

From top Fortune 500 companies like Unilever, eBay, Nike, Kotak Mahindra to startups like Grofers, Faasos, XOXOday and Byjus, a lot of organisations have signed up for ekincare’s online doctor consultations, the company claims.

According to the company, telemedicine reduces the spread of infection by keeping patients away from others. Sick people stay home rather than exposing others, including their doctors and anyone they encounter en route to a doctor’s appointment or in a healthcare facility.

ekincare has doctors on its own payroll and the company says this has helped ensure a 20 second response time to any health query on the platform.

Using the ekincare platform, doctors get access to an individual’s health history once connected and with end-to-end integration with other health services, doctors are able to give prescriptions as per the new telemedicine guidelines, for COVID tests or medications.

In order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, ekincare says it has built a symptom checker for self-assessment, temperature tracking into the platform which enables employees and their dependents to check themselves for the coronavirus symptoms, seek doctor consults if at risk, followed by COVID-19 RT-PCR testing if required by ICMR approved network partners pan India.

The company claims to have seen a 221% increase in online doctor consultations, and says that 76% of doctor consults were non-COVID related. The online healthcare startup has also observed that 65% of the consults were on general health and around 11% were for chronic issues like diabetes, hypertension, etc.

PE firm Vista Equity to invest Rs 11,367 crore in Jio Platforms

“Source:- IBEF”
Private equity firm Vista Equity Partners will invest Rs 11,367 crore (US$ 1.61 billion) in Jio Platforms for a 2.32 per cent stake. This is Jio Platforms’ third deal after Facebook and Silver Lake’s share acquisition plans over the last two weeks.

“This investment values Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore (US$ 69.66 billion) and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore (US$ 73.22 billion),” said Reliance Industries.

“We believe in the potential of the Digital Society that Jio is building for India. Mukesh’s vision as a global pioneer, alongside Jio’s world-class leadership team, have built a platform to scale anda advance the data revolution it started. We are thrilled to join Jio Platforms to deliver exponential growth in connectivity across India, providing modern consumer, small business and enterprises softwareto fuel the future of one of the world’s fastest growing digital economies,” said Mr Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista.

The net combined value of Jio Platform reached Rs 60,596 crore (US$ 8.60 billion) for the unit of Reliance Industries after the investment from Vista equity. The business comprises mainly of its telecom under Reliance Jio Infocomm, which is the largest in the country with over 388 million subscribers.

Vista will be the largest investor in Jio Platforms after RIL and Facebook. On April 22, 2020, Facebook announced that it would invest US$ 5.7 billion in Jio Platforms for a 9.99 per cent stake. Then on May 4, US private equity firm Silver Lake announced an investment of Rs 5,655.75 crore (US$ 802.35 million) in Jio Platforms for a 1.15 per cent stake.

Vista has more than US$ 57 billion in cumulative capital commitments and its global network of companies collectively represent the fifth largest enterprise software company in the world. Presently, Vista portfolio companies have a significant presence in India with over 13,000 employees.

The world’s largest tech investor, Silver Lake Partners announced an investment of Rs 5,655.75 crore (US$ 802.35 million) to buy a 1.15 per cent stake in billionaire Mr Mukesh Ambani’s digital unit that houses India’s youngest but biggest telecom firm.

This investment by Silver Lake was at a 12.5 per cent premium to the Facebook’s US$ 5.7 billion investment for a 9.99 per cent stake in the firm.

Earlier, 9.99 per cent stake in Jio Platforms were brought by Facebook for US$ 5.7 billion at an enterprise value of Rs 4.62 lakh crore (US$ 65.54 billion).

The financial advisor for the completion of deal was Morgan Stanley.

Edtech platform Classplus raises $9 mn in Series A round led by RTP Global

“Source:- Livemint”
Bengaluru: Business-to-business (B2B) edtech startup Classplus has raised $9 million in a Series A funding round, led by early stage tech investor RTP Global. Existing investors including Blume Ventures, Sequoia Capital India’s Surge, Spiral Ventures and Strive also participated in the round.

The Noida-headquartered company enables offline coaching institutes to take their businesses online. Classplus said that it will use the funds to improve its technology and expand its product offerings. Classplus is expanding its product, engineering and business teams, and also working with content publishers to establish easier access to online assessments.

Over 3,500 coaching centres across 70 cities and towns in India use the platform, it said. Classplus was launched in 2018 by Mukul Rustagi and Bhaswat Agarwal.

“We are the category leaders in the segment, and the new fund raise will help us to serve more teachers with a world-class product experience. India is home to the largest after-school tuition market in the world and delivery models keep evolving as we speak. As national examinations move online, so must after-school tuition practices, and this new round of capital is a testament to Classplus’ ability to digitise the ecosystem,” said Rustagi, co-founder and CEO of Classplus.

Kirill Kozhevnikov, Partner at RTP Global, said, “According to the Global Teacher Status Index by the Varkey foundation in 2018, India was among the top-10 in the world in respecting teachers, though was in the last-10 in paying them. Classplus is liquidating this imbalance by empowering tutors with full-stack mobile solutions, while maintaining and further improving the high reputation of tutors.”

India’s logistics aggregator Shiprocket raises $13M to expand overseas

“Source:- Tech Crunch”
Shiprocket, a New Delhi-based logistics aggregator that works with direct-to-consumer sellers including several social media influencers, has raised $13 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand its platform overseas.

Silicon Valley-based investment firm Tribe Capital led Shiprocket’s Series C financing round. Innoven Capital and existing investor Bertelsmann India Investments also participated in the round, which brings the three year-old startup’s to-date funding to $26 million.

Shiprocket works with more than a dozen courier companies in India and negotiates terms such as the fee and shipment tracking with them on behalf of its sellers, Saahil Goel, co-founder and chief executive of the startup, told TechCrunch in an interview last year.

The startup today works with more than 35,000 sellers in India and processes about 2 million shipments each month. It also helps sellers with tackling items that get lost during the shipment and enabling cash on delivery, the most popular payment option among customers in India. Gillettte, beauty product chain Mamaearth, beer franchise The Beer Cafe, coaching institute Aakaash Institute, and craft beer maker Bira are among some brands that use Shiprocket’s service.

Shiprocket has also become one of the top selling partners for social media influencers in India who have to take care of the items they sell to their fans themselves. In recent years, a wave of social commerce startups such as Meesho, backed by Prosus Ventures and Facebook, and Simsim have emerged in India as they attempt to reshape how people think about buying online.

“One of the reasons why the United States and emerging economies have thrived over the last 50 years has been a healthy dynamic of small to medium entrepreneurial businesses alongside consolidation and scaling corporations,” said Arjun Sethi, co-founder of Tribe Capital, in a statement.

“We invested in Shiprocket because they empower the small to medium businesses that truly represent the heart and soul of any emerging economy. Today, the SME segment lacks capital finance and credit, infrastructure, technology, and marketing strategies. Shiprocket has enabled these businesses to grow at a time of emerging competition enabled by mobile internet and corporations,” he added.

Shiprocket says it will use the fresh capital to expand its data science and engineering teams and focus on new initiatives including its international expansions. The startup already ships shipment overseas, it claims it delivers in more than 26,000 zip codes in India and 220 additional countries and markets.

The startup said it was profitable in the financial year that ended on March 31, 2019 and has an annualized revenue run rate between $25 million to $30 million. It did not comment on the impact coronavirus pandemic has had on its business.

Tata Power’s defence business bags Rs 1,200-crore contract to modernise 37 airfields

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (Tata Power SED), a division of Tata Power Company, has signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence for modernisation of infrastructure at 37 airfields.

Under the contract, valued at about Rs 1,200 crore, the company will modernise infrastructure at airfields belonging to the Indian Airforce, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. The contract has to be executed over the next four years, the company said in a regulatory filing.

The contract involves supply, installation and commissioning of modern airfield equipment including Cat II Instrument Landing Systems and Cat II Airfield Lightning Systems, along with other navigational aids and air traffic management systems, besides creating the required civil and electrical infrastructure.

In March 2011, Tata Power SED had won a Rs 1,220-crore contract for modernisation of 30 airfields.

In continuation of the previous order, the new contract for modernisation would provide excellent control of airfield systems to air traffic controllers, enhancing aerospace safety and operational capabilities by facilitating operations in poor visibility and adverse weather conditions.

Tata Power is in the process of selling its defence business (Tata Power SED) to Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) through a scheme of arrangement.

The transfer to TASL has been approved by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and is expected to be completed once regulatory and other routine approvals are received.

NFL’s Fertilizer Sales Jump 71 per cent To 3.62 Lakh Tonnes in April

“Source:- Business Standard”
National Fertilizers Ltd, a PSU under the ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers registered a 71 percent growth in fertilizer sale in the month of April 2020. Despite the stringent restrictions in country in April due to COVID-19 lockdown Company recorded fertilizer sale of 3.62 Lakh MT in April’ 20 compared to 2.12 Lakh MT in the same period last year. Company had to face lot of logistics hurdles due to lockdown but despite that it left no stone unturned to make fertilizers available to farmers during this crucial period.

NFL produces urea at its five plants located at Nangal and Bathinda in Punjab, Panipat in Haryana and two plants at Vijaipur in M.P. Though the company has a production capacity of 35.68 Lakh MT of urea. With all these products, the company has recorded highest-ever sale of 57 Lakh MT in 2019-20, continuously for the fifth time in a row. Maintaining optimum operations of these plants in difficult times is a big success story especially towards fulfilling Government’s commitment to the farming community of the country.

Apart from this to support the efforts of Government to fight COVID-19, NFL employees’ have not only contributed one day’s salary of Rs. 88 Lakh towards PM CARES Fund, but have also contributed an amount of Rs. 63.94 Lakhs under CSR towards PM CARES Fund for the same objective. With this, the company has contributed total amount of Rs. 1.52 crores towards PM CARES FUND.

Jio Platforms gets Rs 5,655 crore investment from PE giant Silver Lake

“Source:- IBEF”
Private equity firm Silver Lake plans to invest Rs 5,655.75 crore (US$ 802.35 million) into Jio Platforms for 1.15 per cent stake. This investment values Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.90 lakh crore (US$ 69.51 billion) and an enterprise value of Rs 5.15 lakh crore (US$ 73.06 billion).

Earlier, a Rs 43,574 crore (US$ 6.18 billion) deal with Facebook was made by Reliance Industries This Silver Lake deal signifies a 12.5 per cent premium to the equity valuation of the Facebook investment into Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).

Other investment made by the firm includes Airbnb, Alibaba, Ant Financial, Alphabet’s Verily and Waymo units, Dell Technologies, Twitter and numerous other global technology leaders.

In order to cut down debt, Reliance was in talks with other strategic and financial investors for a similar-sized deal, after selling a 10 per cent stake to Facebook.

RIL chairman and managing director Mr Mukesh Ambani said, “Silver Lake is one of the most respected voices in technology and finance. We are excited to leverage insights from their global technology relationships for the Indian Digital Society’s transformation”.

While Silver Lake co-CEO and managing partner, Mr Egon Durban said that Jio Platforms is one of the world’s most significant companies, led by an incredibly strong and entrepreneurial management team who are driving and actualizing a courageous vision. “They have brought extraordinary engineering capabilities to bear on bringing the power of low-cost digital services to a mass consumer and small businesses population. The market potential they are addressing is enormous,” he said.

This deal is subject to regulatory and other customary approvals.

India installed 7.3 GW of solar power in CY 2019

“Source:- The Hinsu Busniess Line”
In the calendar year 2019, India installed 7.3 GW of solar power across the country, consolidating its position as the third-largest solar market in the world.

The country also had a robust pipeline of utility-scale projects under development of 23.7 GW at the end of 2019, with another 31.5 GW of tenders pending auction, according to a study by Mercom Communications India, a subsidiary of global clean energy communications and consulting firm Mercom Capital Group.

“The solar market leaders have changed in almost every category compared with last year. With a tough year ahead, we expect strong, resilient, and innovative companies continue to do well,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.

The report reveals that the top 10 large-scale project developers account for 68 per cent market share in 2019. ReNew Power was the top utility-scale developer during 2019, while Azure Power owns the largest project pipeline.

There are around 29 large-scale solar developers with a project pipeline of 100 MW or more in India.

Large-scale solar installations in 2019 accounted for 85 per cent with 6.2 GW. Also, solar accounted for 41 per cent of new power capacity additions in 2019 behind coal which accounted for 44 per cent.

Companies and scale of projects

Companies offering engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) services saw a lot of projects moved to 2020 due to delays caused by general elections, land and evacuation issues among others. Mahindra Susten was the top EPC player for utility-scale solar installations in 2019, followed by L&T.

Tata Power Solar had the largest cumulative rooftop portfolio, followed by CleanMax Solar. At the end of 2019, the top 10 rooftop solar installers represented 34 per cent of the total rooftop solar market share. In 2019, the rooftop solar market growth came down by 33 per cent compared with CY 2018.

Huawei led the solar inverter market in India in 2019, followed by Sungrow.

Other top string inverter suppliers included Growatt, Solis Inverters, and Delta Power Solutions.

At the end of December 2019, Trina Solar was the leading module supplier to India in terms of cumulative shipments, while Waaree Energies, Adani, and Risen Energy held the top spot in CY 2019. The top 10 module suppliers accounted for over 62 per cent of the market in 2019.

Ganges Internationale was the top supplier of solar mounting structures in 2019, followed by Purshotam Profiles and Strolar. Scorpius Trackers was the top supplier of solar trackers in 2019.

Mantra Capital invests in yoga firm SARVA

“Sources:- IBEF”
Mantra Capital has made an investment of an undisclosed amount in SARVA, a yoga and wellness company. The fund will be utilised by the firm to improve its digital footprint.

This round of funding included contribution from the Patni Family and the existing investor, Fireside Ventures.

This is the first strategic investment by Mantra Capital, an early-stage, cross-border venture capital fund focused on investing in tech for human good. The firm was founded by former T-Hub CEO, Mr Jay Krishnan, Mr Srikanth Chintalapati, and Mr Kevin Jacobs early this year.

Earlier, SARVA had raised funds from celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Malaika Arora, Aishwaryaa R Dhanush and Shahid Kapoor.

“During these times, people are constantly trying to find activities that help in redirecting their stress. And what better than yoga, a practice that can help you remain healthy and active, both mentally and physically,” Mr Sarvesh Shashi, Co-founder, SARVA, said.

“While our digital product was under way and ready to be launched, the heightened investor interest and the current situation fast-tracked it. We are in the process of raising more capital to enhance our digital offering,” he said.

Life insurance companies register 11.4% growth in premium income in FY20

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : India’s life insurance companies clocked 11.36 per cent growth in their collective premium income at 48.26 lakh crore during the fiscal ended March 2020, data from Irdai showed. The 24 life insurance companies’ collective premium income stood at 43.33 lakh crore during fiscal year 2018-19.

India’s largest and the only state-owned insurer LIC, however, posted a decline in premium income at 8.32 lakh crore during 2019-20, the data from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) showed.

LIC’s premium collection stood at 10.74 lakh crore during 2018-19. Its market share stood at 82.76 per cent as of March 31, 2020.

The rest of the private sector players witnessed 22.53 per cent rise in their total premium income at 39.94 lakh crore.

Their overall income stood at 32.59 lakh crore in FY19.

The combined market share of all private sector life insurers as of March 31, 2020 stood at 17.24 per cent.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

 

Axis Bank set to acquire 29% stake in Max Life Insurance for Rs 1,592 crore

“Source:- Business Standard”
Private sector lender Axis Bank on Tuesday said it would acquire an additional 29 per cent stake in Max Life Insurance for an estimated price of Rs 1,592 crore, raising its total holding in the life insurer to 30 per cent after the completion of the deal.

Max Financial Services will hold the remaining 70 per cent in the joint venture.

Axis is looking to purchase around 556 million shares of Max Life Insurance at a price of Rs 28.61 per share, but the estimate will change based on the date when the deal is closed. The bank will acquire the shares from Max Financial Services and sign a shareholders’ agreement and a share-purchase agreement.

The boards of Axis Bank and Max Financial Services (MFS) met on April 27 and gave the go-ahead to the deal. This comes after the signing of the confidentiality and exclusivity arrangement on February 20 to explore the possibility of a long-term strategic partnership between Axis and Max Life.

Currently, MFS owns 72.5 per cent, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (MSI) owns 25.5 per cent, and Axis has a minority stake of 2 per cent in Max Life. Of the 2 per cent, Axis will sell 1 per cent to MFS before the deal goes through. Then it will acquire 29 per cent stake in Max Life thereby raising its overall stake to 30 per cent.

MSI is swapping its 20.6 per cent stake in Max Life with 21.9 per cent stake in MFS. And, MFS also plans to purchase MSI’s remaining stake of 4.9 per cent in Max Life.

After the completion of these transactions, Max Life would become a 70:30 joint venture between MFS and Axis. The proposed transactions are subject to approval from corporate and regulatory authorities (including the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, Reserve Bank of India, and Competition Commission of India), the bank said.

“We continue to believe in the long-term prospects of India’s under-penetrated life insurance space, the current environment notwithstanding. We see this joint venture creating immense value for our stakeholders, given our long-standing, high-performing partnership with Max Life,” said Amitabh Chaudhry, Axis Bank’s managing director and chief executive officer.

On a call with the media, Chaudhry said the transaction’s impact on Axis Bank’s capital ratio will be 10 basis points and the aim was to build the Axis franchise as a financial service provider. Max Life will include Axis Bank’s name in its tag line.

The joint venture will significantly improve Max Life’s competitiveness vis-à-vis its rivals, including other private life insurers owned by large banks. In the venture, Max Financial will have the right to nominate four directors on the board of Max Life, and Axis Bank will have the right to nominate three directors. “One nominee director of the promoter group on the board of MFSL shall be a person identified by Axis,” the bank said. The acquisition is expected to be completed in 6-9 months.

“This move is an emphatic signal that Max Life will become an even more formidable player in the Indian life insurance space,” said Analjit Singh, founder & chairman of the Max group.

Axis Bank’s adoption of open architecture had introduced ambiguity in its long-term bancassurance relationship with Max Life. Axis will have more skin in the game with a 30 per cent stake, and, hence, removes the uncertainty, said Prayesh Jain, lead analyst, Institutional Equities, YES Securities.

Axis Bank, already a bancassurance partner of Max Life Insurance, sells Max Life’s products as a corporate agent. The total premium generated through this has aggregated to over Rs 38,000 crore.

Apart from Axis Bank, Max Life’s bancassurance partners include YES Bank and Lakshmi Vilas Bank. Axis also has similar partnerships with the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation, and Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company.

BEML bags Rs 398 crore order from Coal India

“Sources:- IBEF”

BEML Limited, Bengaluru-based ‘Schedule A’ company under the Ministry of Defence, has bagged order from Coal India Ltd for supply of seven 150-T and eight 205E-T Dump Trucks under trial-cum-sale along with 8-year spare parts contract.

Coal India subsidiaries viz SECL’s Gevra Project and NCL’s Amlohri & Nigahi Projects, respectively will be responsible for deploying these dumpers. The order is worth about Rs 398 crore (US$ 56.46 million).

Dump Trucks are indigenously designed and developed by BEML and are being manufactured at its Mysuru complex. These products are expected to address the growing demand for higher capacity equipment in the mining industry and will improve its production substantially.

All these trucks have eco-friendly emissions certificate engines with electronic fuel management system to deliver maximum power. Its wide body design-higher value metric capacity and low body weight ensures high stability and productivity. A state-of-the-art AC drive system have been engineered to provide exceptional road performance with reduced maintenance.

PhonePe gets $28 million funding from parent Flipkart

“Source:- Livemint”
Bengaluru: PhonePe’s Singapore entity PhonePe Pte Ltd has received a fund infusion of $28 million from parent Flipkart last week, according to the regulatory filings accessed by Mint. This is the first round of funding which the company has raised this financial year.

Two people close to the company said, on condition of anonymity, that a larger round of fund-raising is expected in the coming months, which would be upwards of $100 million.

This fresh funding of $28 million comes just two months after the Bengaluru-based payments platform had received 427 crore from its Singapore entity, PhonePe Private Limited.

The company had also raised several tranches of funding last year, around 585.66 crore from its Singapore-based parent in December and another 698 crore in July, last year.

A PhonePe spokesperson declined to comment on the fund-raising.

In a recent interview with Mint, PhonePe co-founder and CEO, Sameer Nigam has said that the payments platform has a line of sight to becoming profitable by 2022 and will file for an IPO in 2023.

However, the current situation around covid-19 has affected the digital payments industry, with PhonePe also witnessing a decline of 35% on overall transactions on its platform.

PhonePe also said that in spite of the tough times, the company will not stop investing in advertising and has recently signed in with Doordarshan and other regional channels to run brand advertisements.

It has also been relying on its O2O (Offline-to-Online) strategy which it started focussing on in 2018, and trying to help users understand which kirana stores are open and delivering, in the current lockdown.

According to the company it will start monetising on its O2O strategy as well as look at revenue streams from Financial Services, commissions from its in-app ‘Switch’ platform as well as Advertising on the app in the coming months as it looks to become profitable.

PhonePe also recently said that it is working with delivery fleets like Swiggy Genie to meet its offline network stores and deliver goods to customers, during the current situation.

Recently, the Flipkart-owned payments entity also said that it will end this financial year with more than 275 million users and gather another 220 million in the next two years.

India ranks 19th in Covid-19 global innovation map

“Source:- Business Insider”
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, startups and organizations have been working day and night on innovations that will help people across the world. According to StartupBlink, which has a global comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research centre, India ranks 19th in the world coronavirus innovation map.

On the innovation map, India has 0.16 score. Meanwhile, the United States of America tops the list followed by Canada and Estonia. The US has a score of 4.28.

“The first run of the rankings reveals an interesting insight that some of the cities that have been badly hit by the crisis such as New York, Milan, Paris, London, Beijing, and Barcelona, are the ones that have been mostly over-performing in the charts. This is counterintuitive since those cities are in a major crisis, but still, manage to excel and innovate due to the needs they are facing,” said the report by

India currently has over 17,200 positive coronavirus cases. Since late March, more and more organizations have been turning their businesses around to support the government during the coronavirus pandemic.

In his most recent speech, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also urged scientists and researchers to come forward with innovative solutions to deal with the coronavirus.

While factories have started producing masks, testing kits and PPE kits, startups have pivoted to build a use case during the coronavirus pandemic. The first Made in India testing kit from Pune based startup MyLabs also recently received commercial approval.

India’s top VCs – Sequoia India, Matrix Partners, SAIF Partners, Lightspeed Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Accel, Chiratae Ventures, Omidyar Network and Nexus Partners along with several startup founders, launched a ₹100 crore grant to fund ideas that will lead the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The grant is purely charitable with no financial interest. The initial grants will be for ₹10 lakh but once the startup can prove a product-market fit, the investment can go as high as ₹10 crore per idea. So far, the VCs committed ₹2.5 crore to startups like IVR project, MyLab and Ventilator Splitter.

 

1,000 foreign firms mull production in India, 300 actively pursue plan as ‘Exit China’ mantra grows

“Source:- Busniess Today”
Amid chances of China possibly losing its tag of preferred manufacturing hub following coronavirus, around 1,000 foreign companies are engaged in discussions at various levels with the Indian authorities. At least 300 of these companies are actively pursuing production plans in sectors such as mobiles, electronics, medical devices, textiles and synthetic fabric, according to top government sources.

These companies see India as an alternate manufacturing hub and have taken up their proposals across various levels of the government, including central government departments, Indian missions abroad and state industry departments. “About 1,000-odd companies are currently engaged in discussion at various levels such as investment promotion cell, central government departments and state governments. Out of these companies, we are targeting 300-odd companies,” the official said.

“We are hopeful that once coronavirus is in control, a lot of things will fructify into actual relocation. And India will emerge as an alternate manufacturing destination. Many countries like Japan, US and South Korea are over-dependent on China and that is now very apparent,” he added.

In a major push to domestic manufacturing, the Centre had in September last year slashed corporate tax to 25.17 per cent. For new manufacturers, the applicable tax was brought down to 17 per cent making it the lowest in South East Asia. Together with reduced tax rate and the roll-out of goods and services tax (GST), India hopes to attract sizeable foreign investment in the manufacturing sector.

It has now directed its focus on reducing the cost of production. With China in the firing line over its way of handling the deadly virus outbreak, major countries are expected to nudge their corporations to relocate production units out of China or set up new units at alternative locations.

In what appears to be early signs of possible changes in geopolitics, US President Donald Trump has questioned China over its response to the outbreak of the deadly virus. China had strongly protested Trump’s “China virus” remark but the American President has been lashing out at the country unabated.

On Saturday, the US President said during a White House briefing that the virus “could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it.”

Meanwhile, Japan has announced $2 billion financial aid for its companies to shift production out of China. Many more countries could follow Japan, which is expected to benefit India. “Now the world is rethinking its strategy of putting all eggs in one basket. A lot of interest is being shown by companies towards India,” says Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

“India is generally considered an attractive destination because of its market size and also India being a possible hub for exports in the region. That’s the reason FDI has been recording very impressive growth in the last 5-6 years,” he added.

While government is making all-out attempt to hard-sell India as a manufacturing hub it may find it an uphill task given that the production cost difference between India and South East Asian countries is about 10-12 per cent.

The government, however, sees large market size of India as a big plus for manufacturers. “If you manufacture mobiles in Vietnam, what do you do with them? You have to essentially export. You can’t sell there as there is no local market,” an official involved with the government’s Make-in-India initiative said.

He explained giving an example of mobile phones. “There is a huge market in India for mobile phones that cost less than $100. For mobiles costing $200 or more there is huge potential of export. So, from the 10-12 per cent (percentage cost difference between India and South East Asia), almost 6-7 per cent is negated or adjusted by India’s market itself. For the remaining 5-6%, a combination of state incentives and central incentives are there,” he added.

 

Bill Gates praises PM Modi’s leadership in combating Covid-19 in India

“Source:- Business Standard”
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has commended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and his government’s “proactive measures” such as lockdown and expansion of focused testing in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in India.

According to officials, Gates, in a letter to Modi, said he was glad that the government is fully utilising its exceptional digital capabilities in its Covid-19 response and has launched the ‘Aarogya Setu’ app for coronavirus tracking, contact tracing, and to connect people to health services.

“We commend your leadership and the proactive measures you and your government have taken to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 infection rate in India,” Gates was quoted as saying in the letter.

He hailed the Modi government’s steps in fighting Covid-19 such as adopting a national lockdown, expanding focused testing to identify hotspots for isolation, quarantining, and care, and significantly increasing health expenditures to strengthen the health system response and promoting Research and Development and digital innovation.

“Grateful to see that you’re seeking to balance public health imperatives with the need to ensure adequate social protection for all Indians,” officials quoted the Gates Foundation co-chair as saying.

Tech Mahindra, IBM tie up to set up innovation centres

“Sources:- IBEF”
Tech Mahindra has decided to set up innovation centres in collaboration with IBM, in order to provide boost to digital transformation and encourage adoption of more cloud-based technologies among its global customers. The centres will showcase IBM’s digital transformation solutions built with Cloud Paks running on Red Hat OpenShift, which could come handy for solving complex business problems for various industries, including healthcare, telecommunication, financial services, manufacturing, insurance and retail.

The company plans to open the first such innovation centre in Bengaluru in 2020 and more such centres will be set up across North America and UK later this year.

“The collaboration with IBM will help us accelerate the development of cloud-based applications for our customers and build multi-cloud data management solutions on the industry-leading hybrid platform. The commitment to building Innovation Centers aligns with our TechMNxt charter, an initiative that leverages emerging technology to solve real-world business problems for customers,” Mr Pawan Sharma, president & global head of strategic initiatives at Tech Mahindra, said.

CloudPaks are containerised software solutions developed to help enterprises move their core business applications to any cloud in an open, faster and more secure way. It consist os containerized IBM middleware and common software services for development and management. As per IBM, it is designed on top of a common integration layer and is developed to decrease development time by up to 84 per cent and operational expenses by up to 75 per cent.

“This collaboration with Tech Mahindra is designed to help speed how businesses migrate critical enterprise workloads to the IBM public cloud and transform their operations using cloud-native technologies,” Mr Bob Lord, senior vice president, Cognitive Applications, Blockchain and Ecosystems, IBM said.

There was boost in IBM’s first quarter results from Red Hat and Cloud services and revenue from cloud and cognitive software increased by 5 per cent, while total cloud revenue for the quarter grew 19 per cent.

Earlier this week, Alibaba Cloud announced an investment of approximately US$ 28 billion on its cloud infrastructure over the course of next three years, with particular focus on data centre technologies to speed up digital transformation and also prepare organisations for future exigencies.

Facebook to invest ₹43,574 crore in Jio platforms

“Source:- Livemint”
Reliance Industries Limited, Jio Platforms Limited and Facebook, Inc. today announced the signing of binding agreements for an investment of  43,574 crore by Facebook into Jio Platforms.

This investment by Facebook values Jio Platforms at  4.62 lakh crore pre-money enterprise value ($65.95 billion, assuming a conversion rate of  70 to a US Dollar). Facebook’s investment will translate into a 9.99% equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.

Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), houses digital services of the group. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, with 388 million subscribers, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jio Platforms.

Jio has built a world-class digital platform powered by leading technologies such as Broadband connectivity, Smart Devices, Cloud and Edge Computing, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Augmented and Mixed Reality and Blockchain.

Jio has created an eco-system comprising network, devices, applications, content, service experiences and affordable tariffs for every Indian to experience the Jio Digital Life. During the current Covid-19 crisis, Jio’s platforms have been a dependable and inclusive Digital Lifeline for our Nation.

Biggest FDI for minority investment

The partnership between Facebook and Jio is unprecedented in many ways. This is the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world and the largest FDI in the technology sector in India.

“The investment values Jio Platforms amongst the top 5 listed companies in India by market capitalisation, within just three-and-a-half years of launch of commercial services, validating RIL’s capability in incubating and building disruptive next-generation businesses, while delivering market defining shareholder value,” the statement said.

Our goal with this investment is to enable new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses across India and create new and exciting digital ecosystems that will empower, enrich and uplift the lives of all 1.3 billion Indians.

“When Reliance launched Jio in 2016, we were driven by the dream of INDIA’S DIGITAL SARVODAYA – India’s Inclusive Digital Rise to improve the quality of life of every single Indian and to propel India as the world’s leading Digital Society. All of us at Reliance are therefore humbled by the opportunity to welcome Facebook as our long-term partner in continuing to grow and transform the digital ecosystem of India for the benefit of all Indians,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Ltd.

“The synergy between Jio and Facebook will help realise Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ Mission with its two ambitious goals — ‘Ease of Living’ and ‘Ease of Doing Business’ – for every single category of Indian people without exception. In the post-Corona era, I am confident of India’s economic recovery and resurgence in the shortest period of time. The partnership will surely make an important contribution to this transformation,” added RIL CMD.

Morgan Stanley as a financial advisor and AZB & Partners and Davis Polk & Wardwell as counsels advised RIL on the transaction.

Electric vehicle sales in India up 20 per cent in 2019-20

“Source:- IBEF”
Electric vehicles sales, excluding e-rickshaws, in India witnessed a growth by 20 per cent at 1.56 lakh units in 2019-20 driven by two-wheelers, said Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV).

According to SMEV’s statement, in 2018-19, total EV sales in India stood at 1.3 lakh units.

Out of the total sales in FY20, 1.52 lakh units were two-wheelers, 3,400 cars and 600 buses. The corresponding sale for the 2018-19 was 1.26 two-wheelers, 3,600 cars and around 400 buses, it added.

“This figure does not include e-rickshaws which is still largely with the unorganized sector with a reported sale of around 90,000 units. The corresponding figures of the e-ricks sold in the previous year have not been documented,” SMEV said.

The growth in the EV sales in the country was driven by the electric two-wheeler (E2W) segment.

It added, “In the E2Ws sold in FY2019-20, 97 per cent were electric scooters and a very small volume of motorcycles and electric cycles filled the rest of 3 per cent. Low-speed scooters that go at a max speed of 25km/hr and do not need registration with the transport authorities constituted a whopping 90 per cent of all the E2Ws sold.”

Though, the sale in electric four-wheeler segment saw a decrease from 3,600 units in previous fiscal year to 3,400 units in FY20. This is mainly due to lack of bulk purchase of e-cars in FY19-20 and discontinuation of one of the leading car models, it added.

SMEV said, “the acceptability of electric cars in the premium segment in the second half of the year was a positive signal of a quantum jump of a much higher volume of e-cars in FY 20-21.”

It added that the e-taxi segment is also starting to get some traction, though the range of e-cars and lack of charging spots in enough density are a deterrent in the growth of e-taxi segment.

Although, the big commitments by state governments for e-buses did not translate into purchases.

SMEV Director General Mr Sohinder Gill said, “the EV industry is taking shape and we believe that despite the COVID-19, FY20-21 will be a defining year for all the EV segments.”

He further added, “while the EV industry is surely going to face the brunt of COVID-19 like any other automotive business, the clearer skies and the cleaner air in even the worst polluting cities is certainly leaving a permanent impression in the minds of the customers about how they can breathe easy and remain healthy if the society moves towards e-mobility.”

Mr Gill said given the right impetus by the government and the industry, “the EV industry can spring back faster than the ailing IC vehicles segment”.

“A pertinent factor that may work in favour of E2Ws post-COVID would be the choice of switching over from crowded mass transport to the sensibly priced electric two-wheelers with almost the same cost of commuting, as of public transport,” he added.

He said there could be an inflection point in the EV industry in FY21-22 because of many factors such as experiments like E2Ws being sold without batteries and customer paying for batteries as a fuel; e-commerce companies realising the economic benefits of EVs and converting their fleets.

Also, e-carts becoming a convenient and cost-effective means of short distance logistics, e-taxis fleets beginning to make money due to lower operating costs may contribute to the growth of the EV industry.

Tata Capital Growth Fund II invests $5 million in SaaS startup Indusface

“Source:- Livemint”
Tata Capital Private Equity-led Tata Capital Growth Fund II (TCGF II), Thursday said it has invested $5 million in software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup Indusface to help the firm accelerate its global customer acquisition and product innovation plans.

The California-based startup, which also has offices across four locations in India, provides application security to over 2,000 active customers globally. The firm uses a cloud-based security platform built using its proprietary web application security scanner and web application firewall that are integrated with a global threat information engine, managed by security experts.

“We believe that the cyber security market will continue to see significant growth as securing digital assets becomes a priority with the increased salience of digital business processes and the consequent reliance on a trusted “digital assurance” provider like Indusface,” said Akhil Awasthi, managing partner at Tata Capital Growth Fund.

After the transaction Pramod Ahuja, partner at Tata Capital Growth Fund would join the board of Indusface.

“In this rapidly changing scenario, as more and more businesses accelerate digitization of their operations via web applications, cloud-based managed application security solutions like ours are projected to be in huge demand,” said Ashish Tandon, Founder and chief executive of Indusface.

TCGF II is the second fund being raised by Tata Capital Growth Fund, which invests into themes of urbanization, discrete manufacturing and strategic services. The private equity fund closed its first fund in 2011 with a corpus of $240 million. The first fund has been completely deployed and has exited five of its portfolio investments, including Home First Finance Co India Ltd and Star Health and Allied Insurance Ltd. The fund typically invests between $10 million and $35 million per transaction.

Natilvelead invests Rs 1.2 crore in dairy products company

“Source:- IBEF”
Native Angels Network, the angel investment arm of Nativelead, has invested Rs 1.2 crore (US$ 0.17 million) in UzhavarBumi Agro Products Pvt Ltd, based in Madurantakam, about 75 km south of Chennai.

Madurai, Karur, Chennai, Coimbatore and Tuticorin participation in the investment round.

According to the press release from Nativelead, UzhavarBumi works directly with farmers and agroworkers, to bring fresh milk to consumers’ tables without chemical interference.

The start-up was founded in 2017 with an aim to establish direct trade between local farmers and consumers. It provides fresh milk (delivered within 12 hours of sourcing), ghee and paneer to the customers.

The idea behind the venture was to make organic and fresh produce available for all, regardless of their socio-economic status, according to Mr Vetrivel Palani, co-founder of UzhavarBumi, a former IT sector employee.

Mr Vetrivel and his friends realised that there was high adulteration in the dairy industry, which became the main reason for founding UzhavarBumi.

The company works directly with individual farmers and cattle owners to source fresh milk which is transported to their facility in Madurantakam where milk is then chilled in sterilised conditions and bottled in eco-friendly glass bottles. The bottled milk is distributed to consumers within 12 hours.

Currently, 4,000 bottles per day are sold by the company, with the milk priced at Rs 60 (US$ 0.85) a litre.

Mr Sankar Kanagasabai, the lead investor, is helping the company adopt global best practices.

NTPC Vindhyachal becomes India’s largest power plant to achieve 100 per cent Plant Load Factor

“Source:- IBEF”
NTPC Vindhyachal has become the largest power plant of the country to achieve a plant load factor (PLF) of 100 per cent. This means that the power plant was run at its full capacity of 3760 MW for a certain period.

The average PLF of power plants across the country hovers at around 60 per cent, thus, making this as significant development. Before this, other NTPC power plants, such as the Talcher Thermal plant of 460 MW has also been run at 100 per cent PLF. Although, no plant with an installed capacity close to NTPC Vidhyachal has achieved this till now.

The 100 PLF was achieved on April 13, 2020.

The total installed capacity of the NTPC group is 62110 MW. It has 70 power stations i.e. 24 Coal, 7 combined cycle gas/liquid fuel, 1 Hydro, 13 Renewables along with 25 joint venture power stations.

The second 660 MW unit of India’s first ultra-supercritical power station NTPC Khargone also became commercial during the lockdown period.

India to boost drug ingredient output to pare China reliance

“Source:- Livemint”

India plans to ramp up production of pharmaceutical ingredients and become an alternative supplier for global drugmakers hit by factory shutdowns in China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Indian government has aggressively begun implementing a policy to ramp up local output and emerge as an alternate to China, according to people familiar with the plan who asked not to be identified as discussions are not public yet. The so-called “China-plus one” strategy involves identifying essential drug ingredients, providing incentives to domestic manufacturers and reviving ailing state-run drugmakers, they said.

The deadly coronavirus, which shut down vast swathes of the Chinese economy before becoming a pandemic, snapped global supply chains as factories in Asia’s largest economy fell silent. For India — world’s single-largest exporter of generic drugs — this triggered raw material shortages and exposed its dependence on Chinese imports. The south Asian nation relies on bulk ingredients from China to manufacture a fifth of the global supplies of drugs that are off patents.

India imports almost 70% of its bulk drugs and intermediates – the chemicals that make a finished drug work — from China. A number of these are sourced from Hubei province, where the pathogen first emerged in late-December. Of the total $3.56 billion imports of such products in 2018-19, China’s share was $2.4 billion, according to information presented in the Indian parliament.

The current crisis also gives an opportunity to India to challenge China’s stronghold on supplying basic drug ingredients.

After announcing a 140-billion-rupee ($1.8 billion) fund last month for setting up three drug manufacturing hubs, the government has identified 53 key starting materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) whose output will be boosted on priority, the people said. These include fever-medicine paracetamol and antibiotics such as penicillin and ciprofloxacin.

Discussions are also underway on the viability of reviving on loss-making state-owned drugmakers Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd. and Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. to speed up this process and ensure affordable medicines, the people familiar said.

“Indian bulk drug manufacturers could grow income by $3.3 billion if they expand capacity and global supply as the virus outbreak disrupts China’s pharma sector,” Mia He and Jamie Maarten, analysts with Bloomberg Intelligence wrote in a March 16 note.

Essential medicines

Of the 373 drugs listed under India’s national essential medicines list, some 200 are imported as APIs, mostly from China, Dinesh Dua, chairman of Pharmexcil, an export promotion council under the trade ministry, told Blomberg over phone.

Sudhir Vaid, chairman and managing director, Concord Biotech Ltd, said the government should support local companies by giving low cost power, subsidies and faster approvals. It takes as long as three years to get approvals, Vaid said.

“If the government goes full throttle with the monetary help in one cluster, it can become a success in two years,” Pharmexil’s Dua said. “In five years, we can replicate that model throughout the country.”

Covid-19 may turn out to be blessing in disguise for Indian firms: Hero Motors

“Source:- Livemint”
The covid-19 pandemic, wreaking havoc on global economies, may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for India, if it can emerge as a credible alternative for companies looking to shift part of their supply chain network from China. In an interview to Mint, Pankaj Munjal, chairman and managing director, Hero Motors Ltd, said India may be looking at a golden period in the post-pandemic world if it can emerge as a trusted partner for global companies. For the medium, small and micro enterprises, Munjal is of the belief that banks should be mandated to help them out while a fiscal package is also the need of the hour for the sector.

Can India become an alternative for companies looking to move away from China?

India is staring at a golden opportunity. The kind of customers that we work with are the likes of BMW, Ducati, Mercedes Benz and Audi and they are giving us future drawings, cash-flows, and telling us how they will earn tomorrow. If India can prove to be a trusted supply chain partner, that means we protect their intellectual properties, patents and technology, and we have the domestic volumes, then the country can be a base and a market for them compared to a Vietnam or a Cambodia. For instance, if we make a component for a large vehicle manufacturer in England and they have a factory in India, then the same component will go to both the places and will generate scale. So India’s golden years may be ahead.

What will be the impact of this pandemic on your bicycle and auto component manufacturing businesses?

Europe is going to bounce back well and we already have a schedule–for supplying parts–from our customers there and North America on when operations will resume. That part of the business is well planned and organised and will pick up much faster. The Indian auto industry was facing a lot of challenges and this pandemic has derailed the recovery process.

In Wuhan, after the lockdown was lifted, people wanted to maintain social distancing as the new normal. So, people are not opting for cabs and metros and are switching to individual transport and that gives me lot of hope. If that culture comes here as well, then personalised transport will get a big push. On bicycles, I am quite bullish. We make 20,000 units every day which caters to the basic necessities. We have to travel from one point to the other, like home to school or work, in rural India.

Will a stimulus package from the government help revive the economy in the coming months and how that should be implemented?

The magnitude of money, i.e the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product that the Europeans are putting, which is around 10% or 20%, is a well-thought out plan. They are not focused on deficit now and are looking at survival and the fundamentals to fall into place. It’s like a ventilator and you have to remove it slowly. In our factories in Germany, we have already received the cheques for salaries from the government. It’s not just a plan, it has been executed.

Here the plan is yet to come. What worries me is that half of India is small and medium enterprise. When it comes to the execution of the rescheduling of loans and the gap in repayment of installments for three months, the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMS) and tier-one component manufacturers will have dedicated teams for this but what about the small and micro enterprises. They are the weak link here and the money has to reach them. In a car or a motorcycle there are lots small components required which are manufactured by tier-two suppliers, who then supply to the tier-one vendors and then that gets supplied to the (OEM).

There are two aspects to this which is demand and supply. To get the whole supply chain moving, the economic package has to be such that it can reach the SMEs which generate half the employment.

Have you deferred the planned capital expenditure for the current year?

At this point of time we can’t say anything. All we read in the media is that demand has gone and everything is down. In China, after the lockdown was lifted, there was spike in purchases of luxury goods and cars. So, that defies everything we are reading now. We have to wait and watch at least a month after the operations start, then we will get hold of some ground reality on the post- covid world.

On the capex side, we will take a call after a month or two. As of now, we can now only speculate about the demand in market. May be it is not that bad as it is projected to be.

What do you think of the measures taken by the Reserve Bank of India till now?

The OEMs are strong companies and are virtually debt free and can negotiate with banks for credit. If a company which falls under the small and medium enterprises goes for a loan then the bank should question its financial ratios since to get the money from the banks one requires a lot of ticks in the boxes. If that SME guy is not ready that will affect the entire supply chain. The banks have to be mandated that they have to assist these companies.

Considering the crisis, what is your expectation from the European business?

We make components for electric vehicles, e-bikes and bicycles which are anyways new age products and are not environmentally damaging. We have a double edged opportunity there. EVs have a very small base and we have tied up with one of the EV truck makers in the US. Fortunately we are in the right business at the right time.

Domestic air passenger traffic in India grew by 8.4 per cent in Feb: IATA

“Source:- IBEF”
Indian domestic passenger traffic witnessed an increase of 8.4 per cent in February as compared to the corresponding month in 2019, according to global airlines body IATA. This indicated that the impact of novel coronavirus was minimal on the country’s aviation sector.

According to the statement by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), “RPKs (revenue passenger kilometres) picked up in India (up by 8.4 per cent year-on-year) as local carriers boosted air travel demand by lowering airfares in the typically weak travel season”.

Around 300 airlines which account for 82 per cent of the global air traffic are represented by the IATA traffic. This measures passenger growth in terms of RPKs, which is calculated by multiplying the number of passengers with the distance travelled by them.

Although, RPKs witnessed a decrease of 14.1 per cent year-on-year in February around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst performance since the 9/11 terror attacks, the IATA said.

WFH accelerates migration to cloud services

“Source:- Livemint”
Indian corporates are seeing a shift towards remote working, which is fuelling demand for cloud services.

Microsoft has seen a significant increase in Teams usage and a three times growth in usage of Windows Virtual Desktop. IBM is seeing demand growing specifically from healthcare, education, telecom and retail industries.

During the first two weeks of the nationwide lockdown, open cloud provider Linode saw demand spike almost 100%, which has since settled to a roughly 75% increase.

“The fundamental value proposition of the cloud is in providing scale and elasticity to adapt to client demands and spikes in application usage, like we are seeing now. We have seen many firms move to all-encompassing work from home without much interruption in large part because of the cloud,” said Lingraju Sawkar, general manager, global technology services, IBM India and South Asia.

Providing virtual desktop access to employees, expanding current virtual private network (VPN) capabilities and providing collaboration capabilities aimed at giving immediate relief from unexpected disruption are some of the cloud-based services that are in high demand.

Even after the lockdown lifts and things return to normal, organizations will be forced to consider digital transformation as part of their DNA as it will prepare them for exigencies.

“A lot of the capabilities established as a reaction to the crisis will eventually become the new normal. Once the lockdown is lifted, we will see businesses leveraging these capabilities in customer outreach and servicing in a larger scale,” said Anoop Nambiar, partner, Deloitte India.

Many organizations will have to cut costs because of the financial impact of the crisis. Market analytics firm International Data Corporation, in an April report, estimated that worldwide IT spending will decline by 2.7% in 2020 because of the impact of covid-19. Will it disrupt the pace of cloud adoption?

“There will be a temporary dip in demand as people will mobilize whatever liquidity they have. Many projects will be put on the back-burner. But fundamental initiatives aro-und secure access, seamless connectivity, team collaboration and productivity trackers will scale significantly,” said Lux Rao, director, solutions and consulting, NTT India.

YouTube adds UPI as a mode of payment for Indian users of YouTube premium

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
YouTube has launched Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as a mode of payment for its users in India for both YouTube and YouTube Music.

Users can now conduct transactions on the app directly from their bank account, using their unique UPI ID.

The UPI payment option on YouTube allows users to purchase monthly or quarterly prepaid subscriptions for YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium, purchase or rent movies, as well as pay for other in-app paid features such as SuperChat and Channel Memberships to engage with and support YouTube creators.

The video streaming platform earlier allowed users to pay for subscriptions and other in-app purchases only through credit and debit cards. The Google-owned video-sharing platform has now introduced the option for its users to “make easy payments through UPI, which is one of the most preferred forms of digital payments in India.”

The move comes as digital payments in India see over a 31 per cent jump in the first quarter as compared to 2019 with BHIM UPI being the most popular means of digital transactions as per previous reports.

Earlier this month, Praveena Rai, COO, National Payments Corporation of India in an interview with BusinessLine had said over 50 lakh new users have been added on Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India.

What else is new on Youtube ?

Along with the UPI payments option, YouTube has also been working on other features to make the platform more user-friendly.

The video-sharing platform last month replaced its “Trending Tab” an “Explore tab” to make it easier for users to discover new videos based on their interest.

The same feature was rolled out for its music streaming platform YouTube Music earlier this week.

YouTube music had a 6 per cent share in India in CY 2019 according to a report by Counterpoint Research.

This crisis will drive digital innovations: Navin Gurnaney

“Source:- Livemint”
Earlier this month, global coffee retailer Starbucks announced the Starbucks Global Partner Emergency Relief Program as part of its $10-million commitment to support its employees around the world who have been impacted by covid-19. In India, Starbucks has a presence through a 50:50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages, and operates 185 stores. In an interview, the CEO Navin Gurnaney speaks about the crisis and how it is going to change the world. Edited excerpts:

How has your sector been affected by the nationwide lockdown?

These are unprecedented times for all businesses and individuals. However, our focus right now is safety and we are hopeful that business will resume slowly but positively once we overcome this. In keeping with government regulations, we have started delivery from select stores and will continue to thoughtfully expand delivery operations as we move ahead.

Are you planning salary or job cuts? What is your manpower in India?

At Tata Starbucks, we always put our partners (employees) and our customers before everything else. As part of our deeply grounded commitment to partner care, we have extended partner benefits and are offering new resources to support partners and their families in response to the unprecedented impact of covid-19. Partners are being supported with pay and access to medical assistance; those diagnosed with covid-19 will be granted paid leave until they recover fully and cleared to return to work. Additionally, Starbucks has announced a commitment of $10 million to establish the Starbucks Global Partner Emergency Relief Program as part of its ongoing efforts to support partners. We currently stand at more than 2,000 partners in India.

Is India staring at a recession? How severe do you feel it would be?

It will be premature at this stage to discuss about what will happen with the economy. I’m sure, currently, the government and all of us are prioritizing the health of our people over everything else. However, the post-covid-19 phase will see some sectors take longer to bounce back, while all of us emotionally, physically and financially recover from this.

Can consumer demand be revived after the lockdown is lifted? What measures will you take to stay in the game?

This pandemic is going to set a new normal in human behaviour. Even after the crisis blows over, customers are going to take time to recover and come back to their usual routines.

This situation is, however, going to drive digital innovations in a big way. For years, Starbucks globally has one of the best omnichannel retail experiences through concepts like electronic payments, mobile apps, pickup-only stores or third-party delivery networks to make the Starbucks experience more ubiquitous.

At Tata Starbucks, we are using these unique experiences to build our brand and make it ready for the future. The launch of the Starbucks Mobile Order Payment app will allow customers to order beverages on their mobile and just pick them up from the store, reducing the time spent in ordering in lines. We will continue to focus on delivery and also launch India’s first drive thru store to allow customers to engage with the brand in new and innovative ways.

What are the prospects for Starbucks once normalcy returns as people may still be wary of eating out?

We are confident of the relationships we have built with each of our loyal customers and we are certain the Starbucks experience will bring them back. Such a crisis requires us to remain patient, and we are dealing with this on a case-to-case scenario—“one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time”. Whatever we do, we will keep safety of our people as our priority, even after resuming business.

Will life and business as we know them change forever post-covid-19?

The world may not be the same again. The rules of business will change. And brands that can use this opportunity to build a world that is more compassionate, connected, experiential and meaningful will emerge stronger on the other side. Our optimism and commitment to the long-term growth potential in India remains intact during the crisis period.

 

Cred launches online lending, bill payment features

“Source:- Livemint”
BENGALURU: Credit card-based loyalty platform Cred has launched a new lending product and recurring bill payment feature for paying rent and other household bills on its app.

Cred’s latest lending product— CRED Stash—will offer a low-interest instant credit line, through a pilot with IDFC First Bank. While its second feature named RentPay allows users to pay recurring household expenses and bills, and monthly rent payments using credit cards.

With the option of paying rent on credit, users can also earn reward points as well. Upon paying their credit card bill, members will also receive Cred coins to spend on products, services and experiences from Cred brand partners equivalent to the transaction value of rent.

On RentPay, users need to add their landlord’s bank account or UPI details and instantly transfer the rent from their credit card, directly on the Cred app. Over time, Cred will enable members to set up auto-pay for timely payments.

Other upcoming features include a feature to make other residential payments such as maintenance charges and security charges through credit card—which can then be financed with affordable EMIs on the Cred app. RentPay can be availed at a small transaction fee that will range from 1% to 1.5% depending on the member’s credit card network.

The mobile app’s latest lending product Cred Stash will offer an instant credit line of up to 5 lakhs to users at an interest rate at one-third of typical credit card interest charges. Cred says that it is able to offer lower interest since only users having a credit score of over 750 are allowed to become Cred members. On completion of the pilot, Cred Stash plans to scale up with multiple bank partners.

Cred members can draw down any amount from their available limit at any hour of the day, and instantly receive the selected amount in their bank accounts. They can also select their preferred duration to pay back (no minimum tenure). Users will, however, have to complete a one-time KYC verification and set up auto-pay for payments from their bank account on a date of their choice.

“With the intent of enabling members to maintain their good credit track record and increase confidence at a time of economic uncertainty, we have fast-tracked the launch of two products with the support of banking partners, including IDFC FIRST Bank. CRED Stash and CRED RentPay are particularly useful in optimizing cash and credit, which is critical in the current environment,” said Kunal Shal, founder, and chief executive of CRED in a statement.

 

Electric vehicle sales in India up 20 per cent in 2019-20

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : Electric vehicles sales, excluding e-rickshaws, in India grew by 20 per cent at 1.56 lakh units in 2019-20 driven by two-wheelers, Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMEV) said on Monday.

In 2018-19, total EV sales in India stood at 1.3 lakh units, SMEV said in a statement.

Out of the total sales in FY20, 1.52 lakh units were two-wheelers, 3,400 cars and 600 buses. The corresponding sale for the 2018-19 was 1.26 two-wheelers, 3,600 cars and around 400 buses, it added.

“This figure does not include e-rickshaws which is still largely with the unorganized sector with a reported sale of around 90,000 units. The corresponding figures of the e-ricks sold in the previous year have not been documented,” SMEV said.

SMEV said the growth of EV sales in India was driven by the electric two-wheeler (E2W) segment.

“In the E2Ws sold in FY2019-20, 97 per cent were electric scooters and a very small volume of motorcycles and electric cycles filled the rest of 3 per cent. Low-speed scooters that go at a max speed of 25km/hr and do not need registration with the transport authorities constituted a whopping 90 per cent of all the E2Ws sold,” it added.

In the electric four-wheeler segment, 3,400 units were sold in FY20 compared to 3,600 units in the previous fiscal year. The decrease in numbers is attributed mainly due to lack of bulk purchase of e-cars in FY19-20 and discontinuation of one of the leading car models, it added.

SMEV said,”the acceptability of electric cars in the premium segment in the second half of the year was a positive signal of a quantum jump of a much higher volume of e-cars in FY 20-21.”

The e-taxi segment is also beginning to get some traction, though the range of e-cars and lack of charging spots in enough density are a deterrent in the growth of e-taxi segment, it added.

When it comes to e-buses, big commitments by state governments did not translate into purchases.

Commenting on the sales performance, SMEV Director General Sohinder Gill said, “the EV industry is taking shape and we believe that despite the COVID-19, FY20-21 will be a defining year for all the EV segments.”

He further said,”while the EV industry is surely going to face the brunt of COVID-19 like any other automotive business, the clearer skies and the cleaner air in even the worst polluting cities is certainly leaving a permanent impression in the minds of the customers about how they can breathe easy and remain healthy if the society moves towards e-mobility.”

Gill said given the right impetus by the government and the industry, “the EV industry can spring back faster than the ailing IC vehicles segment”.

“A pertinent factor that may work in favour of E2Ws post-COVID would be the choice of switching over from crowded mass transport to the sensibly priced electric two-wheelers with almost the same cost of commuting, as of public transport,” he added.

He said there could be an inflection point in the EV industry in FY21-22 owing to several factors such as experiments like E2Ws being sold without batteries and customer paying for batteries as a fuel; e-commerce companies realising the economic benefits of EVs and converting their fleets.

Also, e-carts becoming a convenient and cost-effective means of short distance logistics, e-taxis fleets beginning to make money due to lower operating costs may contribute to the growth of the EV industry.

 

China drives into India

“Source:- Forbes India”
A Chinese storm is approaching India’s automobile sector and it has the potential to change its landscape forever.

The automobile industry in India is dominated by homegrown automobile manufacturers in addition to Korean and Japanese brands. However, at the Auto Expo this year, two of China’s biggest carmakers—Great Wall Motors (GWM) and FAW Haima—announced their intention to sell vehicles in India, across segments, entering into even the fledgling electric vehicle (EV) market. Many more are planning a similar foray into the world’s fourth-largest automobile industry.

GWM, China’s largest sports vehicle manufacturer, showcased its Haval range of SUVs at the Auto Expo, in addition to the GWM EV. FAW Haima showcased the FAW Haima 8S and 7X SUVs, and has firmed up plans with Delhi-based Bird Group to launch an EV priced at less than Rs 10 lakh. In all, Chinese carmakers exhibited more than 20 models at the Auto Expo.

Shanghai-headquartered SAIC Motor has already been selling MG cars in India since last year. Changan Automobiles, a car maker owned by the China government, is also likely to begin operations in India by 2022, apart from other companies like Chery Automobile based in Wuhu and the Geely Auto Group from Hong Kong.

Their planned entry comes at a time when India’s automobile sales declined by 16 percent between April 2019 and February 2020. China also saw its market shrink, with vehicle sales falling by over 8 percent in 2019, forcing companies to look outside the world’s second-largest automobile market, which is behind only the US.

“India is expected to be the third-largest automotive market [overtaking Japan] by 2025 and it is a critical part of Great Wall Motors’ globalisation strategy,” Hardeep Singh Brar, director, marketing and sales, Great Wall Motors, tells Forbes India. “India is undoubtedly one of the most promising auto markets in the world. For foreign investors, the favourable investment environment in India enables it to be their preferred destination for direct investment,” he says, explaining that the Baoding-headquartered company has been paying attention to and studying India “with an objective of executing investment plans”.

According to government think-tank Niti Aayog, only 22 out of 1,000 people own a car in India [compared to 980 in the US and 850 in the UK]. The increasing number of first-time users enhance India’s potential to become the world’s third-largest automobile industry over the next few years.

The government push toward electric mobility through policy changes has also opened avenues for Chinese manufacturers to tap into the Indian market. Apart from reducing GST on EVs from 12 percent to 5 percent last year, the government has provided an income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on loans taken to buy EVs. It has also approved the setting up of 2,636 EV charging stations across 62 cities under the second phase of its FAME scheme.

GWM has lined up investments worth $1 billion (Rs 7,500 crore) for India and purchased General Motors’ manufacturing facility in Talegaon near Pune in January for an estimated $250 million (Rs 1,800 crore). “SUVs are growing at a much faster pace than the rest of the segments and contribute more than 25 percent to the overall market [in India],” adds Brar.“

GWM’s Haval is the number one SUV brand in China… and with the growth in the SUV segment, we feel this is the right time to enter India,” he says.“GWM started as early as 2016 when we launched our R&D centre in Bengaluru… now we will be setting our manufacturing facility in India.

Lining up

India’s automobile industry is dominated by Maruti Suzuki, which controls nearly 50 percent of the market. Hyundai has 20 percent market share followed by others such as Kia Motors, Tata Motors and Mahindra. At the same time, many global car manufacturers, including Nissan [Japanese], Renault [French] and Volkswagen [German], haven’t been able to find much success in India in recent times.

Much of the interest from Chinese auto makers—particularly at a time when American and European car makers are struggling to make inroads in India—comes at a time when SAIC-owned MG Motor India demonstrated the potential of the Indian market for Chinese companies. Since it set up operations here last June, the company has garnered over 50,000 bookings for its wildly popular SUV, Hector, with MG Motor India delivering some 3,000 units every month. At the Auto Expo, the company displayed 14 models.“

Today, the Indian consumer does not care about the country of origin of a vehicle,” says Rajeev Chaba, president and managing director, MG Motor India. “They believe in value for money and are happy as long as their needs are fulfilled. Besides, the automobile industry is a global one, with parts being sourced from many places, and therefore a company isn’t specific to one region alone. Besides, having Chinese resources offer the best proposition.

”In 2017, MG Motor India had taken over a manufacturing facility previously owned by General Motors in Halol, Gujarat, after the American car maker decided to call it quits in the Indian market due to floundering sales. The company spent over `2,200 crore on the acquisition of the facility and expanding its capacity.

“For many global companies, India was just another market,” says Vinay Piparsania, former executive director at Ford India, and consulting director–automotive at Counterpoint Technology Market Research. “Chinese companies, however, hadn’t gone out of their own country and India is only one of the few markets that they are foraying into. With their resources, focus and the potential that the Indian market offers, the Indian automobile landscape is in for some big churn.”

“Essentially, two companies dominate the Indian market,” adds Piparsania, referring to Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai. “While there are challenges as far as perception goes, the success of MG Motor gives confidence to others as long as they can offer a feature-rich product and the right quality. He explains that the situation is somewhat similar to the mobile phone market in India, which was once dominated by domestic manufacturers and South Korean brands before the onslaught of Chinese smartphones led by Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo.

The ongoing slowdown hasn’t deterred companies from firming up their India plan because the market is expected to bounce back later this year. “We have been evaluating the market for a long time and are in the process of finalising the products, location and segments,” says an executive involved in the launch of a Chinese auto maker. “The market will bounce back and there is a massive opportunity there. In 1998, nobody knew about Korean brands in India and today they are the second-biggest in India. There is a similar story waiting for the Chinese brands because the consumer is looking for the best value proposition, which these companies can offer.”

Chinese companies are taking advantage of the cost consciousness of the Indian market as the domestic automobile industry undergoes a transformation. “The Indian automobile market is getting expensive, so much so that even Maruti Suzuki is becoming more expensive,” says Puneet Gupta, associate director for automotive forecasting at IHS Markit. “With their deep pockets and innovative offerings, the Chinese players will be able to offer great features and style to consumers. Time and again, Indian consumers have shifted priorities and they aren’t loyal to one brand.”

EV potential

The Chinese auto makers are also bringing to India their vast experience in the EV segment. China is the world’s largest EV market, accounting for one out of two EVs sold globally. In January, MG Motor India launched its first EV for the Indian market, an SUV named MG ZS EV, priced at around Rs 23 lakh; it has received over 3,000 bookings so far. The vehicle has a range of 340 km.

“Electric vehicles will be an integral part of our strategy,” says Brar of GWM. “It’s because GWM is quite strong in EVs in China. Also, there is a lot of thrust by the Indian government on EVs. Hence, GWM would like to use its expertise and be part of the growth story for EVs in India. We are exploring all forms of EVs at this stage, which include pure EVs, hybrid EVs, and plug-in hybrid EVs.

”In February, Haima Automobile announced a joint venture with Bird Group to launch an electric hatchback, with range options of 200-300 km. The vehicle will be manufactured at a soon-to-be-set-up plant in Manesar in New Delhi.

“With the world moving towards clean mobility with least environmental impact, we are satisfied with the Bird Electric EV1,” Williams Dong, general manager, Haima Automobile International Corporation, said during the launch. “We have entered the fastest-growing segment of the Indian automobile… Bird Electric EV1 will reinvent the game in terms of technology and economy, targeted at a wide set of customers across segments.

”The gamble on the EV market could reap rich rewards, considering the government has been pushing for more EVs and is investing in creating the required infrastructure.

“Until a few years ago, we had not even heard about electric rickshaws,” says Kanv Garg, director for renewables and electric mobility at consultancy firm EY. “The kits came from China and the market grew organically even without government support. Customers only care about high quality and minimum cost and with the Indian companies being in an inertia as far as EVs are concerned; the Chinese have a huge potential.”

It isn’t just car makers who are making a beeline for the Indian market. The two-wheeler market, currently dominated by motorcycles, could also see some serious threat from Chinese companies. Already, Chinese electric two-wheeler maker DAO EVTech has announced plans to set up a manufacturing unit in Andhra Pradesh, while Benling and CFMoto are gearing up to launch electric bikes in India.

Then there are truck and bus manufacturers, including Sinotruk and Foton, which have been operating in India since 2011. Beiqi Foton has tied up with Haryana-based PMI Electro Mobility Solutions Pvt Ltd for manufacturing electric buses, while the $20-billion Shenzhen-based manufacturer BYD Co Limited has a partnership with Hyderabad-based Olectra Electric to supply electric buses for various state governments.

“In many ways, MG Motor has given Chinese car makers the confidence that they will be able to find success in India,” says Gupta of HIS Markit. “What matters is features and style… and the Chinese have been extremely competitive and innovative in that space.”

Brar of GWM agrees. “GWM will bring in technology disruptions in terms of products that the Indian consumer has so far not seen and experienced,” he says. “We will make a bold foray in India to place ourselves as a premium brand, offering the best-in-class fit, finish and interior quality, focusing on technology disruption as a target in the near future for an enriching experience for our consumers.”

With the coronavirus crisis in China and across the world, concerns have risen over the supply chain network of Chinese companies. “The foray into India also provides companies with the opportunity to target export-oriented markets,” says Piparsania. “Every player coming in will set up the ecosystem to remain competitive in the Indian market and supply chains should never be a major concern. In addition, companies are also laying groundwork on building a strong dealership and service network.”

“For now, the focus is on getting the products for the Indian market right,” says the executive working with the Chinese auto maker. “Dealers will always be there and sales and service network aren’t a cause of concern.” GWM, too, has laid out plans to set up its network across Tier I, Tier II and a few select Tier III cities to begin with. “We shall look at select but strong partners with a high degree of customer and brand orientation,” adds Brar.

The Chinese onslaught has begun and India’s auto sector could be in for some serious transformation.

TVS Motor buys UK’s iconic premium bike brand Norton

“Source:-IBEF”
TVS Motor Company has bought UK’s iconic sporting motorcycle brand Norton in an all-cash deal for a sum of about Rs 153 crore (US$ 21.89 million), marking domestic two-wheeler major’s entry into the top end (above 850cc) of the superbike market.

Norton Motorcycles was founded by James Lansdowne Norton, in Birmingham, in 1898, is the most popular British motorcycle brands and is one of the most emotive marquees today.

It is famous for their classic models and eclectic range of luxury motorcycles ranging from authentic retro classic reboots of the famous Commando to their contemporary 200 bhp, 1200cc V4 super-bikes. Its other popular models include Dominator and V4 RR.

The company has presence across 21 countries with portfolio of bikes that are priced in the range of 25,000-45,000 pounds with custom-built features.

Though, it has been facing challenges with its annual sales plunging to 500 units in the past two years.

The deal between two companies involves the acquisition of certain assets of Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd (in administration) through one of TVS Motor’s overseas subsidiaries, and it is not carrying any liabilities of the British company.

“Norton has fantastic global appeal with its British heritage, and we see an opportunity to nurture and grow this brand globally. We will extend our full support for Norton to regain its full glory in the international motorcycle landscape,” Mr Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director, TVS Motor Company said.

The company expects to witness a strong synergy between both the brands and hopes that Norton motorcycles can be benefited TVS Motor Company’s global reach and supply chain capabilities to expand to newer markets.

TVS Motor will hold 55-odd staff of Norton and will strengthen the existing manufacturing facility for future growth.

“We have huge pending orders for Norton bikes, and our immediate focus is to fulfil those orders. Norton bikes are sold across 21 markets. We will strengthen the brand’s presence in those markets first and then look at expanding to more markets, including India,” said Mr Sudarshan Venu.

This deal with Norton is for different segment than the company’s tie-up with BMW.

“Norton will continue to retain its distinct brand identity with dedicated and specific business plans. TVS Motor will work closely with customers and employees in rebuilding the brand for future growth,” he added.

Emami forays into hand sanitiser segment under BoroPlus brand

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI:
Kolkata-based FMCG major Emami Ltd on Thursday announced its foray into the hand sanitiser segment in the wake of coronavirus pandemic with the launch of the disinfectant under its flagship skincare brand BoroPlus.

Emami has prioritised the launch of this hand sanitizer, an essential commodity in midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring maximum available production capacity to bring this product to consumers in the shortest possible time given the dire need for the same, the company said in a statement.

The BoroPlus Advanced anti-germ hand sanitizer, powered by natural antiseptic qualities of neem and tulsi, has an alcohol base of 70 per cent and is clinically proven to kill 99.99 per cent of illness-causing germs within seconds, Emami claimed.

Commenting on the launch, Emami Ltd Director Priti A Sureka said, “there is a huge gap in the demand and supply of hand sanitisers in the market, which puts all of us at risk. We have, therefore, decided to launch the BoroPlus Hand Sanitizer from the house of Emami Ltd.”

Hand sanitizers have a key role and are an integral component in the fight against coronavirus infection as stated by the World Health Organisation and various clinical establishments, she added.

Stating that BoroPlus is well known for its antiseptic benefits, Sureka said, “the launch of a hand sanitiser is a natural extension of the BoroPlus brand promise. We will leverage our strong distribution network as well as modern trade and e-commerce channels to make the product easily available.”

The product will be available across pharmacy stores, modern trade outlets and e-commerce platforms, Emami said.

Hydroxychloroquine production scaled up: Zydus Cadila

“Source:- Economic Times”
New Delhi:Zydus Cadila chairman Pankaj R Patel  has said the company has ramped up its capacity for manufacturing hydroxychloroquine (or HCQ) by nearly 10 times since the outbreak of Covid-19.

India manufactures 70% of the world’s supply of hydroxychloroquine — Zydus and Ipca Labs being the two biggest players.

“Till Covid-19 happened we were manufacturing HCQ for diseases such as Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis; its market was restricted. But now when we need it for Covid patients we have ramped up our capacity multiple times,” Patel told ET, speaking over the phone.

“Earlier, we used to manufacture 2-4 tonnes API every month for domestic supply as well as exports but this month itself we will be meeting our increased domestic target of 20 tonnes API or 10 crore tablets. The target for next month is 30 tonnes API or 15 crore tablets, which we will comfortably achieve.”

Patel explained that a single healthcare worker would need 14 tablets of HCQ, quoting ICMR, and Zydus’ production would be sufficient for more than 7 lakh individuals. He added that the company itself has stopped exporting the drug. AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria separately told ET that as a prophylaxis a person will need nine (400 mg) tablets and asymptomatic contacts of a confirmed case would need five (400 mg) tablets of HCQ.

The company has received orders from Central and many state governments for roughly 15 crore tablets for this month. Pricing will not be higher than normal, “In fact, we are supplying the drug at a lower price to the government,” Patel added.

On being asked about supply chain disruptions in few cities he said, “This is a prescription drug that can’t be bought otherwise. To address the supply chain issue, if any, we are gradually going to supply the drug directly to the market as well. But since there is enough stock with the government, there is absolutely no need to panic or worry.”

He also added that manufacturing of drugs in Sikkim is happening at 100% capacity. At other places, the production capacity is 60-70% which is being scaled up every day. Zydus has plants in Baddi, Ahmedabad, Daman, Sikkim and Goa for formulations and in Vadodara and Ankleshwar for APIs. Manufacturing of HCQ tablets is happening at Ahmedabad, Sikkim and Baddi.

 

India to boost drug ingredient output to pare China reliance

“Source:- Economic Times”
India plans to ramp up production of pharmaceutical ingredients and become an alternative supplier for global drugmakers hit by factory shutdowns in China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Indian government has aggressively begun implementing a policy to ramp up local output and emerge as an alternate to China, according to people familiar with the plan who asked not to be identified as discussions are not public yet. The so-called “China-plus one” strategy involves identifying essential drug ingredients, providing incentives to domestic manufacturers and reviving ailing state-run drugmakers, they said.

The deadly coronavirus, which shut down vast swathes of the Chinese economy before becoming a pandemic, snapped global supply chains as factories in Asia’s largest economy fell silent. For India — world’s single-largest exporter of generic drugs — this triggered raw material shortages and exposed its dependence on Chinese imports. The south Asian nation relies on bulk ingredients from China to manufacture a fifth of the global supplies of drugs that are off patents.

India imports almost 70% of its bulk drugs and intermediates – the chemicals that make a finished drug work — from China. A number of these are sourced from Hubei province, where the pathogen first emerged in late-December. Of the total $3.56 billion imports of such products in 2018-19, China’s share was $2.4 billion, according to information presented in the Indian parliament.

The current crisis also gives an opportunity to India to challenge China’s stronghold on supplying basic drug ingredients.

Coronavirus Outbreak Exposes Faults in Antibiotics Pipeline

After announcing a 140-billion-rupee ($1.8 billion) fund last month for setting up three drug manufacturing hubs, the government has identified 53 key starting materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) whose output will be boosted on priority, the people said. These include fever-medicine paracetamol and antibiotics such as penicillin and ciprofloxacin.

Discussions are also underway on the viability of reviving on loss-making state-owned drugmakers Hindustan Antibiotics Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. to speed up this process and ensure affordable medicines, the people familiar said.

“Indian bulk drug manufacturers could grow income by $3.3 billion if they expand capacity and global supply as the virus outbreak disrupts China’s pharma  sector,” Mia He and Jamie Maarten, analysts with Bloomberg Intelligence wrote in a March 16 note.

Essential Medicines

Of the 373 drugs listed under India’s national essential medicines list, some 200 are imported as APIs, mostly from China, Dinesh Dua, chairman of Pharmexcil, an export promotion council under the trade ministry, said Blomberg.

Sudhir Vaid, chairman and managing director, Concord Biotech Ltd , said the government should support local companies by giving low cost power, subsidies and faster approvals. It takes as long as three years to get approvals, Vaid said.

“If the government goes full throttle with the monetary help in one cluster, it can become a success in two years,” Pharmexil’s Dua said. “In five years, we can replicate that model throughout the country.”

Other panellist on the inaugural session, Shahid Jameel, chief executive oficer of Wellcome Trust DBT India Alliances, said that the number of cases and deaths in India continue to rise and the curve has yet not flattened. Jameel pressed upon advancements towards developing vaccines, therapies and medicines that are presently used to combat against Covid-19.

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI/KUALA LUMPUR:
India has agreed to sell hydroxychloroquine tablets to Malaysia for use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, a Malaysian minister told Reuters on Wednesday, with New Delhi partially lifting its bar on exports of the anti-malarial drug.

India is the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, sales of which have soared across the world including in the United States, especially after President Donald Trump touted it as a potential weapon against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

New Delhi had last month put a hold on exports of hydroxychloroquine to secure supplies for itself, before agreeing this month to supply it to some of its neighbours as well as “nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic”.

“On 14 April, India has given permission for Malaysia to import 89,100 tablets,” Malaysia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Kamarudin Jaffar told Reuters on Wednesday.

“We will try to get more hydroxychloroquine tablets from India, which is also subject to stock availability.”

India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

Malaysia has been using hydroxychloroquine for mild to severe COVID-19 cases along with other drugs, according to its treatment protocol seen by Reuters.

It has the second highest number of infections of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia with nearly 5,000 cases, 82 of whom have died.

India’s decision to sell the sought-after drug to Malaysia signals a turnaround in relations between the countries that had soured because of repeated criticism of some Indian policies by Mahathir Mohamad, before he resigned as Malaysia’s prime minister in February.

Malaysia had asked for more than one million hydroxychloroquine tablets from India, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak with the media.

“Broadly, nations will need each other to fight this pandemic,” said an Indian source with direct knowledge of the discussions with Malaysia. “Globally, there will be a new alignment of relationships.”

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries , IPCA Laboratories and Cadila Healthcare are among India’s leading suppliers of hydroxychloroquine.

Cadila has increased production tenfold to 30 metric tonnes per month and is ready to produce more if needed, Managing Director Sharvil Patel had told Reuters last week.

India has capacity to be global hub for manufacturing test kits

“Source:- Economic Times”
New Delhi:
The ongoing Covid-19  outbreak has shown India has the capacity to emerge as global hub for manufacturing  testing kits, said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson, Biocon, pointing to the quick work by many companies as the need arose.

She was speaking at a webinar held by the Department of Biotechnology, School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at the Bennett University, on Thursday on the theme “Combating Covid-19: Biotech to the Rescue”.

Shaw outlined the potential scenarios and decisions that pharma and biotech experts are working on and the research work that is happening around the world. “It was a wakeup call for India.

The US was inundated with cases and there was an urgent need to ramp up testing in the US. All the test manufacturers were focusing on US,” she said speaking at the inaugural session of the webinar.

In no time India realised that it had quite a few companies that had the ability to develop the kits. “We know that it involves, the primers, the probes and the viral collection and how to interpret them.

It is interesting to know that we had this capability. Mylab came up with the kits and later on many other companies pitched in,” she added. She said right now efforts are being made into making sure that we can manufacture every component of the kit.

“At present, we need to import a lot of components, we need to become good at indigenising every component of the kit.” Shaw said the day is not far when India will become the hub in the world for manufacturing the testing kits. She said that this is an “exciting time” which has brought together, academia, industry, science, engineers, and medical practitioners.

“This is a time when there is a milieu of efforts from different aspects of medical community, engineering community, IT community. Everything is coming together because there are so many opportunities to understand this horrible pandemic and to deal with it in a way that gives us a comfort that we can actually get into amuch safer zone.”

Other panellist on the inaugural session, Shahid Jameel, chief executive oficer of Wellcome Trust DBT India Alliances, said that the number of cases and deaths in India continue to rise and the curve has yet not flattened. Jameel pressed upon advancements towards developing vaccines, therapies and medicines that are presently used to combat against Covid-19.

 

UN body joins hands with Indian think-tank to promote e-commerce amid Covid-19

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI:
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and impacted the daily lives of people and hampered economic activities in many countries across the world. The coronavirus’s continuing spread requires global stakeholders to collaborate, support each other and find innovative solutions together in order to address the core challenges that Member States are experiencing.

In this context, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), have signed an agreement to empower consumers to contribute to the global development agenda as well as support their respective governments in times of global crisis.

Director General of UNIDO, LI Yong, and the Secretary General of CUTS, Pradeep S. Mehta, have signed a memorandum of understanding for five years, which aims to initiate joint technical co-operation projects to support ongoing activities in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

CUTS has expressed a strong interest in supporting UNIDO in promoting e-commerce as a platform to accelerate Member States’ transition to the digital economy and adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. UNIDO and CUTS plan to develop and implement a BRICS e-commerce project that will build upon the success of UNIDO’s pilot e-commerce project implemented in the BRICS countries between 2016 and 2018.

E-commerce is one sector that can contribute to the economy during the COVID-19 emergency. Many lockdowns implemented across the world have required consumers to explore online purchasing options. This clearly indicates that e-commerce has an opportunity to grow as well as expand its attractiveness in countries that have yet to jump on the “e-commerce bandwagon”.

E-commerce can also support the implementation of social distancing measures due to the limited amount of physical contact involved in this activity. However, it is also important to note that there are also challenges that enterprises need to address due to specific restrictions. For example, there are ongoing issues with increasing strains on existing IT infrastructure and reduced supply-chain capabilities.

The proposed BRICS e-commerce project that UNIDO and CUTS intend to implement will encourage governments of these countries to understand different aspects of national and international regulations negotiations with respect to e-commerce.

This project will also encourage MSMEs to use e-commerce platforms to reach consumers’ needs. It is also envisioned that UNIDO and CUTS will develop online capacity building courses to support enterprises’ capacities to take advantage of different e-commerce platforms, as well as target consumers by increasing awareness of consumer welfare and sovereignty.

CUTS has also been invited by UNIDO to contribute to the on-going development of its “Culture of Quality Tool” which will support Member States establish a strong quality infrastructure to promote increased access to global value chains.

CUTS is an India-based institution, established in 1983, working to achieve “consumer sovereignty in the framework of social justice, economic equality and environmental balance – within and across borders”. The core engagement areas of CUTS are promoting good governance, rules-based trade and effective regulations.

CUTS facilitates good governance through grassroots capacity-building, networking, and awareness, leading to government engagement to bring marginalized voices to the table and ensure accountability of policy practices. The organization collaborates with an existing network of more than 60 research and civil society institutions all over the world to assist stakeholders across in developing countries to establish ecosystems that promote rules-based trade for consumers – enabling them to enjoy the benefits of liberalization and integration into the world economy.

CUTS also engages with advocacy partners to ensure regulations are implemented to ensure that consumers can have better access to quality goods and services at affordable prices.

Both organizations will continue to explore other sectors where joint collaboration can be initiated under the purview of UNIDO’s mandate of promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development and CUTS mandate of promoting consumer sovereignty which includes the Sustainable Development Goals

Airtel expands content deal with CuriosityStream to cover DTH service

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: Bharti Airtel  has expanded its content deal with factual entertainment company CuriosityStream to start offering premium content from CuriosityStream to its direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers at no additional cost.

With the deal in place, Airtel Digital TV, the DTH unit of Airtel, will offer the full catalogue of CuriosityStream’s factual entertainment films and series on channel 419 to over 16.5 million subscribers of Airtel Digital TV.

“We brought CuriosityStream content to India about six months back on our mobile platform. Today, we are further strengthening this partnership to become the first and only DTH provider in India to offer the content to customers on their television via the set-top-box enabling an easy access to all the exclusive content to the entire family,” said Sunil Taldar, CEO – DTH, Bharti Airtel.

Launched by John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Channel , CuriosityStream lets viewers explore their passions and discover new ones thousands of films and series covering space, art, volcanoes, history, travel, cars, architecture, dinosaurs and more.

The CuriosityStream TV channel on Airtel Digital TV will showcase exclusive originals, series and features with a schedule of popular titles including coronavirus series ‘Breakthrough’, the Emmy Award-winning ‘Stephen Hawking’s Favourite Places’, ‘Butterfly Effect: Gandhi-The Force of Willpower’, the Emmy and BAFTA-nominated ‘David Attenborough’s Light on Earth’, ‘Asia’s Monarchies: Nepal’ and ‘Age of Big Cats’.

“Now more than ever, viewers are searching for engaging and entertaining factual shows and CuriosityStream is proud to offer our channel to consumers in India who are looking for high-quality programming that ignites their curiosity and can’t be found anywhere else,” said Clint Stinchcomb, President and CEO, CuriosityStream.

Indian healthcare companies see big boost with govt move on telemedicine

“Source:- Economic Times”
BENGALURU: The government’s recent notification regulating telemedicine amid the Covid-19 pandemic has given a boost to the business of healthtech startups operating in the segment, despite certain restrictions imposed on prescribing medicines to first-time patients.

mfine, 1MG, and Practo expect more hospitals and doctors to line up to teleconsult on the platforms, as it is no longer considered a regulatory grey area. Portea Medical , which provides home healthcare support through nurses and doctors, also plans to scale its teleconsulting business. The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown have already led to rising demand for their services.

“Earlier there was a grey area around telemedicine. In the absence of policy, some healthcare professionals were apprehensive about telemedicine. These rules helped us a lot to clarify all the doubts,”

cofounder Ashutosh Lawania said. “Earlier we had questions from doctors whether there was a risk doing teleconsultation. Now we won’t have those questions.”

As Covid-19 outbreak spread in India, mfine has seen patient volume growing fourfold, and hundreds of queries from hospitals.

“These guidelines were the need of the hour. We’ve always had comprehensive protocols in place to ensure a high quality of care, and there’s a huge overlap between our protocols and the guidelines released; over the course of the next few days, we’ll incorporate other finer aspects as well,” said Alexander Kuruvilla, the chief health strategy officer at Practo.

Practo said it had received requests from a large number of hospitals and clinics to make the online consultation services live for them, and that it was also reaching out to a lot of establishments so that they could continue providing consultations to their patients online.

“We have been consulting on the phone but we didn’t prescribe medicines until now. With the new rules it is now possible,” said Meena Ganesh, a cofounder and the managing director of Portea Medical. “We already have enough doctors and nurses. Now it is about making them available on the teleconsulting platform.”

Narayana Health founder and chairman Devi Shetty called the rules “lifesaving” but added that the government needed to do more for first-time consultation remotely as otherwise, the impact would be limited. The rules don’t allow doctors to prescribe most medicines for first consultations.

Gurugram-based 1MG also raised similar concerns. “The regulations have certainly opened the path for telemedicine for patients to access healthcare. However, there are a few fundamental points that will have to evolve for effectiveness,” cofounder Prashant Tandon said. “The regulations have described what you can prescribe and under what scenario. The list for first-time consultation is very restrictive even if the doctor has all the information. It urgently requires updating.”

Ongoing Italian-Indian business partnerships will be a major support to building post Covid19 economy: ArtValley

“Source:- IndiaBlooms”
Rome/Kolkata: Several companies from Italy – one of the nations worst-hit by the Covid 19 pandemic and a resulting dismal economy – are looking forward to furthering their business with India when life returns to a normal pace, according to Italy-based ArtValley, which hosts projects and international forums for the promotion of specific cultural and geo-political initiatives.

Over the past few years, ArtValley has been creating an amenable platform between Italy and India in the fields of enterprise, technology and culture.

According to Francesca Bruni, who spearheads ArtValley, in a situation like this, where there are so many unknowns, it is difficult to gauge exactly when the recovery will start.

“I am sure that the recent measures taken by the Italian government –although these need to be stronger – and other national governments, such as the $2 trillion aid package expected to be passed in the U.S. and the $814 billion recently approved by Germany, as well as those of the ECB (although there is no agreement on Eurobonds yet) and the Federal Reserve, should help to stabilise global markets and give us confidence that we will have the financial agility we need to recover quickly as soon as the situation allows,” said Bruni.

Bruni quoted Italian journalist Mario Sechi, who is also Director of List  and the National Press Agency, AGI as saying, “In any case, this crisis shows the strength (and the great weakness) of China, which lacked timeliness and transparency in its communication about the virus. A new geopolitical game has begun in which Europe will play its cards.’

According to Bruni, Italy and India have much to offer each other and both nations, which are already collaborating on various projects, can continue to work without interruption.

“With the M.Hub [Metal Hub] Italy-India exchange platform, we are looking at India as much more than just a marketplace,” said Bruni, adding that “we see it as a genuine relational and engineering hub.”

“M.Hub is geared towards developing cooperation between Indian businesses and Italian companies, which are working in the capacity of technology integrators with those that are ready to receive these technologies in countries that have a large user base to develop, such as India. So, we are looking forward to a brilliant future, beyond this crisis.”

M. Hub or Metal Hub is an advanced platform targeted at decision makers in the metal industry sectors, and focused on the industrial and cultural exchange between geopolitical areas.

Maurizio Sala, president of Amafond, the Italian Association of Foundry Suppliers, and entrepreneur (Ecocer) said, “India will be an important, even indispensable partner for Italy and for Europe. Why? Because it has the raw materials and produces around 3.5 million tons of primary aluminium. Europe needs 8 so it can buy 6. My company can and must collaborate with Indian foundries, smelters and downstream companies and will also be able to produce locally with a partner who wants to invest in applied technology.”

Giuseppe Sportelli, managing director of Saira in Italy, a company working in the railways interiors sector, said, “The unprecedented world pandemic we are experiencing today could bring with it the risk of creating divisions in a world which is more interconnected now than ever before. It will certainly be necessary to rethink and improve relations between world economies, but what must absolutely be avoided is the creation of walls and borders between countries.”

“In this context, when there are disruptions, a strengthening of relations between Italy and India would help both countries to become less dependent on the accessibility of products and services from a single nation, such as China.”

According to ArtValley, there have been major setbacks to the entire global economy; tourism, HORECA (HORECA is the Dutch-language term for the food service and hotel industries), and the airline industry have all taken a tremendous blow.

Luca Svaluto, a Milan-based investor and expert in financial markets, said, “National debts will be higher, but being all in the same situation there will be mutual trust in the sustainability of that debt.

“Measures could then be taken to obligate private interests to underwrite the debt: for example in pension funds. Perhaps there will be an inflationary period so that the debt will deflate over time. I agree with Mario Draghi (former head of the ECB) that the alternative of structurally reducing production capacity is worse. With current technologies, we may no longer reach the level of employment that preceded this crisis.”

Over the past several years, ArtValley has collaborated in a broad programme of initiatives that have involved promoting cultural and commercial connections between India, especially Eastern India, and Italy.

These initiatives included conferences in Italy and in Kolkata and Orissa as well as bilateral delegations and visits to industrial, business, and cultural hubs.

ArtValley has focused on sectors such as equipment, machinery, transportation, steel and aluminium metallurgy, leather, and tannery, among others.

The states involved, in addition to New Delhi and Mumbai with Maharashtra, are Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Karnataka.

Indian Railways getting ready to provide medical support to National efforts in fighting COVID 19 in a big way; Coaches being modified as Isolation coaches to be available for contingency; 5000 coaches being planned initially; More than 6500 hospital beds of Railways to be made available as prescribed medical specifications

“Source:- IBEF”
In In order to prevent the spread of COVID 19, Indian Railways is making an all-out effort to supplement the health care efforts of Government of India. The spectrum of steps includes modification of passenger coaches as isolation coaches, equipping the existing Railway Hospitals to meet the COVID needs, earmarking of hospital beds to meet the contingencies, recruitment of additional doctors & paramedics etc.

All these facilities will be made available as mandated by the Government of India to those in need. The preparations are being done across all the zones under the supervision  GMs and Medical professionals of Indian Railways.

Indian Railways is planning to initially modify 5000 passenger coaches to meet the requirement of any possible exigency of keeping some corona patients in isolation as and when required by Government. These coaches would be equipped with basic facilities needed for isolation as per medical guidelines. In case need be, more coaches can be modified. Coaches are also going to be equipped with mosquito nets, charging points for mobiles & laptop, space for paramedics etc. These coaches would be prepared zone wise.

Railways has 125 hospitals in India and of that more than 70 are being planned to be kept ready to be for any contingency as and when required. Efforts are being made to designate dedicated COVID wards or floors in these hospitals. Approximately 6500 hospital beds are being made ready to meet the possible needs of patients.

Indian Railways has already  given a go ahead to Zonal heads to explore the possibility of hiring doctors and paramedics from the market and also to re-employ retired railway  doctors as a temporary measure to meet the increased requirement of medical supervision and assist the authorities in charge of  COVID 19 control management in the region.

It may be noted that these efforts of Indian Railways have been mounted not only to supplement the efforts of the Government of India but also to contribute to the national efforts to fight the Corona Virus.

Aavishkaar Capital invests Rs 35 crore in agri-tech start-up Ergos

“Source:- IBEF”
Aavishkaar Capital, the impact investing arm of the Aavishkaar group, has invested Rs 35 crore (US$5 million) in a Series A round in Ergos, an agri-tech start-up.

The company was founded by Mr Kishor Jha and Mr Praveen Kumar, entrepreneurs from Bihar, Ergos has been developing a GrainBank model that has been piloted in Bihar. Ths will help farmers to digitise their food grain and offer doorstep access to end-to-end post-harvest supply chain solutions to the farmers by utilising the technology platform. This platform has provided opportunity for farmers to increase their earnings, according to a press release from Aavishkaar.

The statement added that the Ergos platform operated like a bank and offered storage, digitisation, credit and liquidation facility to farmers.

Ergos was provided seed funding by Aavishkaar in 2015 from an earlier fund at the ideation stage and worked with the promoters in scaling the model. The Series A funding was expected to be a Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.37 million) round with an Aavishkaar Capital Limited Partner and a technology venture capital fund set to join the round.

Mr Kishor Jha, Founder and CEO, Ergos, said that the aim is to build GrainBank to serve the post-harvest requirements of all farmers, especially small and marginal farmers. It also plans to extend it services into nearby states and help more than a million farmers by 2025 with over 2,000 branch locations. The start-up supports more than 20,000 farmers on its digital platform and has a physical footprint in over 60 locations.

SCTIMST ties up with Wipro 3D to manufacture automated ventilators to meet COVID 19 related crisis

“Source:- IBEF”
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), an institute of National Importance of the Department of Science and Technology, has tied up with Wipro 3D, Bengaluru to jointly build up on a prototype of an emergency ventilator system based on Artificial Manual Breathing Unit (AMBU), developed by SCTIMST followed by its clinical trial and manufacture.

The ventilators can help meet urgent requirements arising out of the Covid 19 related crisis that the country is facing. AMBU bag or a bag-valve-mask (BVM) is a hand-held device used to provide positive pressure ventilation to a patient who is either not breathing or who is breathing inadequately. However, the use of a regular AMBU needs a bystander for its operations who is highly susceptible and non-advisable to be in close contact with the COVID-19 patient. Sree Chitra’s Automated AMBU Ventilator with inputs from clinical faculty will assist the breathing of the critical patients who have no access to ICU ventilators.

For enabling rapid production, the device is designed with readily available components so that it becomes an alternative solution. It provides ventilation support to the needy and is an ideal solution for ventilation shortages.

This portable and lightweight device enables positive pressure ventilation with a controlled rate of expiration, Inspiratory to Expiratory Ratio, Tidal Volume, and so on. Also, A PEEP (Positive End Expiratory Pressure) Valve can be added as an extra component to maintain pressure on the lower airways at the end of the breathing cycle, which prevents the alveoli from collapsing during expiration. The compressed gas source can also be attached to the system. The automatic device will minimize the need of support personnel in the isolation room, thereby enabling a safer and effective lung-protective operation to COVID patients.

ZEE invests ₹522 crore in tech startup SugarBox

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : Media and entertainment company Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) said it has invested 522 crore in Margo Networks Pvt Ltd (SugarBox), a tech startup it bought three years ago.

SugarBox helps users access Internet services in areas of bad or no network, ZEEL said. Users at key places of interest (PoIs) can access its servers over a local wi-fi network. PoIs include public transport, public places, rural areas, hotels, co-living spaces and malls where a large mass of users access a host of digital services. Zee currently holds a 80% stake in SugarBox.

Using the SugarBox platform, a user will be able to stream and download videos, listen to music, play games, learn on-the-go, pay bills and access other online services without a mobile data connections. This investment has been made to exploit strong synergies of the technology developed by SugarBox with the current businesses of the company with a potential to significantly augment digital content consumption, ZEE said in a statement.

“The unique technology will enable us to serve content to consumers across the nation, without being restricted by connectivity constraints. We are confident that this synergy will create a strong foundation for us, as we progress towards offering relevant content to consumers across platforms,” Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive officer, ZEEL, said in a note.

Insight – The emerging Indian retail landscape

“Source:- Austrade”
As many Australian clients know, India announced a 21-day lockdown across the entire country, commencing on March 24. At this point, this is the largest lockdown in the world affecting more than a billion people. On April 14, this lockdown was extended until May 3.

In the days preceding this initial announcement, Indians were indulging in bulk-buying of essential groceries and staples, in expectation that the government would move to further restrictions. Indians have largely reacted positively to the government’s call to stay safe at home. Many – particularly poorer – consumers have shifted to survival mode by buying staples such as flour, oil and rice.

This article provides a short overview of the current situation for retail and food logistics.

Delivery challenges

The first challenge and victim of India’s lockdown was the shutdown of trucking operations and those labourers who rely on a daily wage being made jobless overnight, and then making a beeline to their villages in rural India. The government significantly underestimated the impact its lockdown decision would have on such labourers.

The first impact was on supply chains within the country – from small retail stores dotted in every neighbourhood across India, to modern retail stores, e-commerce and medical supplies. It also brought customs clearances to a standstill. Only a fraction of e-commerce was able to operate. Therefore, an immediate issue was the delivery of essential items, particularly via e-commerce platforms, following the announcement. Considerable stocks were being ordered via BigBasket, Amazon, Grofers and others, with reports of delivery drivers allegedly being stopped by police. This is in spite of government assurances that the delivery of essential items would continue.

The government moved rapidly, clarifying what constitutes essential and non-essential goods, and finally allowing the movement of non-essential goods too. But the impact has caused a significant lag in the transport sector. Only 120,000 out of 1.2 million trucks across India are back on Indian roads. To make matters worse, India has entered the harvest season. With reports of produce thrown on highways, or fed to animals for want of transport, the initial trucks have been directed to address the transport needs of fresh produce at the village level.

State police have moved to educate their colleagues responsible for enforcing the lockdown to allow the delivery and movement of goods. The supply chain is slowly improving but there is a significant gap of processed foods in the market, and reports of shortages of other ‘staples’ such as pulses, biscuits and noodles. Startup companies, online food aggregators and QSRs have tried to provide relief by delivering essential items.

A timely trigger for e-commerce

Despite the small mum-and-dad stores being the first point of call for neighbourhoods, and key to supporting the population at the time of lockdown through essential item supply, e-commerce channels have picked up their operations. Customers who sat on the fringe have also jumped in and ordered online. With significant flexibility and home delivery, this outcome has also been driven by the widespread notion that cash is a key carrier of COVID-19. This expanded customer base will help e-commerce companies in the future as some customers will be retained after the crisis abates.

Imported products, as of now, are understandably not the most sought-after items but even products like pastas and flour tortillas are being picked up. Australian products such as Mission Foods’ wraps are in particular demand, according to a national retailer.

Importantly, most supermarkets are open but entry is strictly controlled and the practice of safe social distancing is being followed. This is leading to long wait times to enter retail premises. Difficulty in staffing many retail stores has also impeded operations. In addition, there are increasing stock-out situations for a wide range of stock keeping units (SKUs) due to the break in supply chains as well as imports.

Customs: delays and clearances

The government has confirmed that Customs will work 24×7 and clearances will happen. On the ground, however, many CNF [cost and freight] agents in Delhi and Mumbai say that clearing agents acting on behalf of the owners of goods are not coming forward to clear shipments from the CFS. This is due to a lack of transport and fear of locking in capital till the visibility on payments comes through.

With the availability of trucks, this is expected to pick up. In addition, there are several vessels idling on the high seas (unable to unload cargo at other ports) and it is anticipated that there will be delays in the clearance of containers and turnaround times as operations begin.

For the moment, importers are treading carefully. Their focus is on clearing any shipments that have already arrived at the ports. New orders will have to wait, and many will watch the market trend post-lockdown and keep assessing the situation.

A new e-commerce platform for Australian produce

During these hard times, e-commerce is emerging as a potential source of supply and e-commerce companies are improving their supply chain day by day. Many sites have seen an exponential increase in customers as well as in the volume of transactions. Many first-time users will likely become permanent participants in the e-commerce marketplace.

When the world and India emerge out of these testing times, e-commerce will have inculcated itself in a broader section of the society. The convenience and ease of e-commerce will be an accepted advantage, and we anticipate a tremendous growth in online purchases. This is a significant opportunity for Australian small to medium enterprises in the food and beverage space.

Austrade has worked with Amazon India to help set up an online ‘Australian Store’, and to connect increasing numbers of companies to the digital platform. The Austrade team will also roll out increasing numbers of webinars and insight pieces dedicated to digitally connecting Australian companies with Indian importers and platforms.

Berton Vineyards looks to India for new opportunities

“Source:- Austrade”
Berton Vineyards was founded in 1996 by Bob Berton, who is also the Managing Director. The winery is based in the New South Wales rural township of Yenda, in the Riverina wine-growing region around 550 kilometres southwest of Sydney.

Berton Vineyards is one of the top 20 wineries in Australia, and was the ninth largest exporter in 2019. Its products have received accolades and a number of international awards in recent years including two Trophies, six Double Gold Medals and 35 Gold Medals in 2019 alone.

This modern winery has the capacity to crush 20,000 tonnes and features a sophisticated production line. It can store over 20 million litres of wine and packaged over 12 million bottles in 2019. The company owns a 35-acre vineyard in South Australia’s Eden Valley (part of the famous Barossa ranges), where it grows some of its flagship premium wines. Its portfolio of award-winning products ranges from super premium through to more accessible, commercially priced wines.

Berton sources wine from a number of geographical regions in Australia and its varietals include Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Through its key stakeholders, the winery has a further 900 acres of vineyards in the Riverina region. Berton Vineyards now exports half of its products to 28 markets.

An Indian journey

Berton’s Indian journey gathered pace in 2018 when, late in the year, the company participated in a 16-member NSW Food & Wine Exporters Mission to India. This Austrade-organised event saw Andrew Cudmore (Export Manager), Jason Wood (Production Manager) and Jamie Bennett (Finance Director) immerse themselves in a six-day program in Delhi and Mumbai.

Cudmore was effusive about the mission: ‘Austrade organised two wine tastings by Sommelier Magandeep Singh, B2B meetings with wine importers, visits to a custom bonded warehouse, modern retailers, wine stores and restaurants. We were really supported by Austrade on the ground with logistics and with meetings.

‘Through the mission, Austrade assisted us to identify a good importer (Monika Enterprises) for our own labels/brand and AWS Global for the launch of a private label to India. We are excited to see where the Indian wine market will go in coming years.’

India’s market potential

India is home to approximately 700 million people above the legal drinking age – a number that grows by 19 million each year. Although wine in India has only penetrated a small segment of the population, it enjoys positive consumer associations among an increasingly aspirational consumer base. As Indians travel in ever greater numbers, and as social media drives awareness of international trends, consumer tastes are rapidly becoming more global in this distinctive market.

In 2018, India imported approximately 550,000 cases of wine, an increase of 75,000 on the previous year. The Indian imported wine market has grown at a 15% compound annual growth rate over the last three years, making India a market that international winemakers should be aware of in their expansion plans.

As Cudmore says: ‘Berton Vineyards views India as an important emerging wine market with significant long-term potential. We recognise we’re going to need to invest and support the development of our Outback Jack and Metal Label wines in these exciting early days for this expanding market.’

The Outback Jack range is both affordable and popular. The Metal Label range is a mid-priced presentation of single varietals that is the company’s most successful export line.

‘While China is currently a great market for Australian wines, it is always advisable to consider entering into an emerging wine market like India,’ says Cudmore. ‘We understand the challenges, and to get a footprint in the market know it is likely to take at least 4 to 6 years.’

A market with distinctive features

The landscape for wine in India is quite distinctive. The hospitality sector has a major share of the wine market, in comparison to the organised retail sector, due to Indian Government regulations which allow duty-free imports by hotels (equivalent to 5% of the average foreign exchange earned).

Securing the right distributor is key in a market like India. ‘It’s not a suppliers market but an importers market as many international wineries are trying to enter the Indian market. So the first step is to bring an importer on board, who has complementary wines rather than similar wines from other countries,’ says Mark Morley, Trade and Investment Commissioner, Austrade India.

Morley further indicates that regular market visits are important for any aspiring exporter. Conducting wine tastings at five-star hotels and leading restaurants shows support for importers in their decisions to include the ranges in their portfolios. Helping to secure listings with leading modern retailers is also hugely valuable as is the provision of support in the form of marketing promotion to build the brand(s). Indian wine drinkers are primarily brand-focused purchasers.

The market is not without its challenges. Import taxes for wine are high and value-driven brands have been the first to see early commercial success. There is, however, a small but growing market for more premium products that target an increasingly sophisticated and aspirational consumer audience.

A ban on alcohol advertising also means suppliers have a more limited marketing arsenal at their disposal, and differing state and federal levies on imports can be complex to understand and manage. However, when seen within the context of a long-term and very large emerging market, India remains a market to be explored.

Austrade has a network of offices across India and works with a number of exporters in the wine sector.

‘Austrade’s Food and Beverage team in South Asia is focused on raising the profile of Australia in the Indian wine sector with extensive use of social media, webinars and market insights, and equipping companies with the information they need to make an informed choice about the market,’ says Morley.

Oreo-maker to expand biscuit portfolio in India

“Source:- IBEF”
Chocolate-maker Mondelez India is planning to expand its biscuit portfolio with an intent to increase its distribution reach in the country.

The company, which produces chocolates under the Cadbury brand, has a foothold in the biscuit’s category with Oreo and Bournvita Biscuits. The idea is to increase its portfolio into all biscuit categories including premium ones such as ‘indulgence’ and ‘choco bakery’. The company launched the Cadbury Chocobakes about three months back, targeting urban markets.

Most brands are targeting the choco bakery category as it is pegged to become a US$ 1-billion market over the next five years.

According to the sources, nearly 20 per cent of Mondelez India’s total sales come from rural markets that include smaller value packs of Rs 1 (US$ 0.014), Rs 2 (US$ 0.028), Rs 5 (US$ 0.071) and even Rs 10 (US$ 0.14).

In 2019, the company added nearly 242,000 stores (selling biscuits), of which 107,000 were in rural areas and the remaining 135,000 in urban areas.

According to Mr Sudhanshu Nagpal, Associate Director, Marketing (Biscuits), Mondelez India, the company is planning to increase its presence in its biscuit brands across all markets. For instance, there are distinct plans to expand Oreo’s penetration into the family biscuits category, while Bournvita Biscuits are being placed as a ‘healthy morning snack’ option. Cadbury Chocobake is being placed in the nascent choco bakery category.

“We have taken a long-term view of the country and are working on building our biscuit business accordingly. It’s not a matter of just one or two quarters in terms of putting our expansion plans in place or getting the distribution done. So, we will work out things,” he said.

The lockdown because of the coronavirus outbreak may act as disturbance in the way of quick expansion, industry sources pointed out.

This may cause in delay in launch of products by few quarters while FMCG companies are already staring at supply and distribution chain disruptions.

According to Edelweiss, in a recent report, due to panic buying because of the virus has triggered a stock-out in essentials and is also advancing demand.

“This, we believe, will benefit HUL, GCPL, Nestle, Britannia, ITC and Dabur,” it said, adding that the pandemic is likely to push the already stressed rural areas (growing at half the urban) to the brink. “Overall recovery to be delayed by at least two quarters (from H2 FY21),” it added.

Biscuits are a new category for Mondelez India, and company entered the segment with Oreo in 2011. Over the years, the company explored adjacencies by getting into licensing pacts with ice-cream makers.

A company spokesperson said the immediate concern is to “protect the health and safety of its employees”. “In parallel, we are working to ensure that we continue to make available our products to consumers across the country,” the spokesperson said, adding that the situation is being monitored daily.

Presently, Mondelez has manufacturing facilities in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, in addition to external manufacturing facilities in Ludhiana, Rajpura and Bengaluru.

Mylab ties up with Serum India for Covid-19 testing kits

“Source;- Hindustan Times”
As India faces a severe shortage of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing kits, Mylab Discovery Solutions, the first Indian company whose testing kit was approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has tied up with Serum Institute of India, world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced, to scale up the operations and escalate faster delivery of testing kits.

“…Pune-based molecular diagnostics company Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt Ltd has partnered with Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla and Abhijit Pawar, Chairman of AP Globale. Funds invested will be used for scaling production of COVID-19 testing kits and expansion of molecular diagnostic solutions,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

AP Globale, a positive impact business solutions company, will be helping Mylabs scale its operations within India and globally. Abhijit Pawar, chairman of APG, will be joining the board of the company.

Many of the 51 private labs approved by the ICMR for Covid-19 testing in the country have not been able to conduct tests as per their capacity and demand because of the shortage of kits.

“The kits are in short supply; the orders are getting delayed and, as a result, we are not able to conduct tests. The manufacturers are overburdened,” said Dr Naveen Dang, founder, Delhi’s Dr Dangs Lab, one of the first private labs to have received ICMR approval for testing.

From the day the first batch of private labs was given approval on March 21, all of them put together so far have done about 1500 tests.

With the tie-up, in the next few weeks, the production of kits is likely to be ramped up from the number that currently can perform about 150,000 test kits per week to at least 20 lakh tests per week.

“The shortage of testing kits will come to an end in a month or two,” said Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla.

Mylab is the first Indian company to get commercial approval for its testing kits called Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR kit.

The testing kits that get endorsed by the ICMR are further approved by Indian FDA or Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for manufacture, sale and distribution in India.

“Global innovation is the need of the hour to curb this pandemic that has affected millions across the world. The need for the maintenance and manufacturing of medical and healthcare equipment at the pace required to keep the numbers at bay has never been more important. Mylabs and their team have shown exceptionally innovative capabilities when they were able to develop a time-saving testing kit within 6-weeks of its outbreak. Keeping in mind their resilient approach and quick response, I am certain that the company has a variety of similar innovation-driven projects which will help bring drastic improvements in the healthcare sector. The investment towards Mylab will enable them to build their infrastructure and expand their capabilities further,” said Poonawalla.

“The Mylab manufacturing facility, approved by FDA/CDSCO is compliant with MDR 2017 regulation for Manufacturing Medical Device of Class A,B,C and D and ISO 13485: 2016 certification,” said the company statement.

Sujit Jain, director, Mylab, said, “This will help Mylabs create a world class organization, which will help India become a leader in molecular diagnostics.’’

The ICMR has so far validated four PCR-based testing kits that have not had US FDA or European CE approvals. The US FDA and CE endorsed kits are already eligible for use. However, for the rest, ICMR recommends usage after thorough evaluation.

India to spend $1.3 billion to boost pharmaceutical production

“Source:- Economic Times”
India will set up a nearly Rs 1 lakh crore($1.3 billion) fund to encourage companies to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients domestically after supply chain disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic exposed the country’s dependence on China and raised the specter of drug shortages.

The program includes spending on infrastructure for drug manufacturing centers, and financial incentives of up to 20% of incremental sales value over the next eight years, according to a government statement.

India imports almost 70% of its active pharmaceutical ingredients — the chemicals that make a finished drug work — from China. A number of those chemicals are sourced from Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus  outbreak. As the world’s single largest exporter of generic drugs, India is responsible for about 20% of the world’s supply.

National Supercomputing Mission: a transformative approach in supercomputing

“Source:- IBEF”
The 2020-21 is an important year for India’s National Supercomputing Mission (NSM). The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.

A first of its kind attempt to boost the country’s computing power, the National Super Computing Mission is steered jointly by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and Department of Science and Technology (DST) and implemented by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022. This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems.

With the revised plan in place, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, called Param Shivay, was installed in IIT (BHU) and was inaugurated by the Prime Minister. Similar systems Param Shakti and Param Brahma were installed at IIT-Kharagpur and IISER, Pune. They are equipped with applications from domains like Weather and Climate, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Bioinformatics, and Material science.

Plans are afoot to install three more supercomputers by April 2020, one each at IIT-Kanpur, JN Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru, and IIT-Hyderabad. This will ramp up the supercomputing facility to 6 PF.

11 new systems are likely to be set up in different IITs, NITs, National Labs, and IISERs across India by December this year, which will have many sub-systems manufactured and microprocessors designed in India which will bring in a cumulative capacity of 10.4 petaflops.

Spreading out the reach to the North-East region of the country, 8 systems with a total Compute Power of 16 PF are being commissioned. 5 indigenously designed systems with three 3 PF computing power will be installed at IIT-Mumbai, IIT-Chennai and Inter-University Accelerator Centre (IUAC) at Delhi with NKN as its backbone. It also includes an indigenously build 20 PF system at C-DAC, Pune, and a 100 PF Artificial Intelligence supercomputing system. One midlevel 650 TFs system is also to be installed at C-DAC Bengaluru to provide consultancy to Start-ups, SSIs & MSMEs.

Geared to provide Supercomputing facility to about 60-70 institutions Nation-wide and more than thousands of active Researchers, Academicians, and so on, NSM has gathered momentum and is moving fast not only towards creating a computer infrastructure for the country but also to build capacity of the country to develop the next generation of supercomputer experts.

India is 3rd largest producer of Electricity in the World : Shri R.K. Singh

“Source:- IBEF”
As per the latest key world energy statistics published by the IEA in 2019, India is the 3rd largest producer of electricity in the world and it ranks 106th in terms of per capita consumption in 2017.

Stating this in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today Shri  R.K. Singh, Minister of State (IC) for Power, New & Renewable Energy and the Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship stated that reforms in power sector is a continuous process due to changes in the situation.  India has become power surplus from power deficit situation.  Thus, power sector reforms now focus on supply of 24×7 quality power to consumers, higher standards of service, promotion of renewable energy sources, development of hydro power, improving efficiency, especially in distribution sector, etc.  Reforms linked distribution scheme and changes in tariff policy are some of the measures under consideration in this regard.

Coronavirus could cut global growth by 0.1 per cent to 0.4 per cent: ADB

“Source:- Economic Times”
New Delhi: The Asian Development Bank  (ADB) on Friday said the COVID-19 could reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.1-0.4%, with financial losses forecast to reach between $77 billion and $347 billion.

Economic growth in China and developing Asia, excluding China, could be trimmed by 0.3 to 1.7% and 0.2 to 0.5%, respectively, the ADB said in an analysis that outlined best-and worst-case scenarios.

“There are many uncertainties about COVID-19, including its economic impact,” said ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada.

The virus outbreak could lead to sharp declines in domestic demand, tourism and business travel, trade and production linkages, supply disruptions, hurting growth in developing Asia.

In a moderate scenario, where precautionary behaviors and restrictions such as travel bans start easing three months after the outbreak intensified and restrictions were imposed in late January, global losses could reach $156 billion, or 0.2% of global GDP. China would account for $103 billion of those losses—or 0.8% of its GDP. The rest of developing Asia would lose $22 billion, or 0.2% of its GDP.

India could see a 0.003% decline in tourism revenues or $84.2 million in the best case scenario and 0.009% or $252.7 million fall in the worst case scenario.

As per the report, the coronavirus outbreak will have a significant impact on developing Asian economies through numerous channels, including sharp declines in domestic demand, lower tourism and business travel, trade and production linkages, supply disruptions, and health effects.

However, the multilateral lender cautioned that these should not be interpreted as predictions that an outbreak will occur but are meant to provide guidance for governments as they consider appropriate responses.

Coronavirus could impact 5 million companies worldwide, new research shows

“Source:- CNBC”
The new coronavirus outbreak and subsequent shutdown of huge swathes of China could impact more than 5 million businesses worldwide, according to a new study.

A special briefing issued by global data analytics firm Dun & Bradstreet analyzed the Chinese provinces most impacted by the virus, and found they are intricately linked to the global business network.

The affected areas with 100 or more confirmed cases as of February 5 are home to more than 90% of all active businesses in China, according to the report, and around 49,000 businesses in these regions are branches and subsidiaries of foreign companies.

Almost half (49%) of the companies with subsidiaries in impacted regions are headquartered in Hong Kong, while the U.S. accounts for 19%, Japan 12% and Germany 5%.

As of Monday, over 70,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed in China, resulting in 1,770 deaths, according to the Chinese National Health Commission.

Dun & Bradstreet researchers found that at least 51,000 companies worldwide, 163 of which are in the Fortune 1000, have one or more direct or “tier 1” suppliers in the impacted region, while at least 5 million — and 938 in the Fortune 1000 — have one or more “tier 2″ suppliers.

The impact on businesses in China and around the world is already dragging down economic growth forecasts for the year.

In a research note published Monday, Moody’s revised down its global growth forecasts by two-tenths of a percentage point, expecting G-20 economies to collectively grow at an annual rate of 2.4% in 2020 with China slipping to 5.2%.

This assumes a baseline forecast that the spread of the virus is contained by the end of the first quarter, restoring “normal economic activity” in the second quarter. However, the global economic toll would be “severe” if the rate of infection and rising death toll do not abate, with international supply chain disruptions amplifying the shock.

“There is already evidence albeit anecdotal – that supply chains are being disrupted, including outside China. Furthermore, extended lockdowns in China would have a global impact given the country’s importance and interconnectedness in the global economy,” Moody’s Vice President Madhavi Bokil said in the research note.

The Dun & Bradstreet report identified that the top five major sectors, accounting for more than 80% of businesses within impacted provinces, were services, wholesale trade, manufacturing, retail and financial services.

Dun & Bradstreet hypothesized that a major portion of Chinese employment and sales originate from companies within the impacted region.

The impacted provinces of, for instance, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Beijing and Shandong account for 50% of total employment and 48% of total sales volume for the Chinese economy.

The Chinese economy constitutes around 20% of global GDP (gross domestic product) and analysts estimated that if containment of the outbreak is delayed beyond the summer, the “cascading effect” might cause a drag of around one percentage point on global GDP growth.

“No matter which scenario plays out, the Hubei region, China, and the global economy are indicated to see a churn in their business population and some lackluster employment and revenue growth in the near-term,” the company said in the report.

“When (not if) containment and eradication is achieved, factors within the impacted geography are bound to generate economic activity with consumers, satisfying pent-up demand once improved conditions are underway. The sum of the efforts to revitalize the region will place the global economy back on track for sustained growth.”

Prepare for the coronavirus global recession

“Source:- The Guardian”
Travel bans. Sporting events cancelled. Mass gatherings prohibited. Stock markets in freefall. Deserted shopping malls. Get ready for the Covid-19 global recession.

Up until a month ago this seemed far-fetched. It was assumed that the coronavirus outbreak would be a localised problem for China and that any spillover effects to the rest of the world could be comfortably managed by a bit of policy easing by central banks.

When it became clear that Covid-19 was not confined to China and that the economic effects would be more widespread, forecasts started to be revised down. But central banks, finance ministries and independent economists took comfort from the fact that there would be a sharp but short hit to activity followed by a rapid return to business as usual.

This line of thinking has exact parallels with the events of 2007, when it was initially assumed that the subprime mortgage crisis was a minor and manageable problem affecting only the US – and nobody needs reminding how that ended.

If history is any guide, the global economy will eventually recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, but the idea that this is going to be a V-shaped recession in the first half of 2020 followed by a recovery in the second half of the year looks absurd after the tumultuous events of the past week.

What’s more, policymakers know as much. The Federal Reserve – the US central bank – did not need to be told by Donald Trump that it needed to cut interest rates and resume large-scale asset purchases known as quantitative easing. The world’s most powerful central bank pulled out the stops on Sunday night by slashing rates to nearly zero and pledging to expand its balance sheet by $700bn.

In the UK the coordinated response by the Bank of England and the Treasury last week was seen as a textbook example of how policymakers ought to respond to the crisis. It was, though, only the start. Airline companies will quickly go bust unless they receive financial assistance. The same goes for retailers, many of them hanging on by their fingertips even before Covid-19. Britain has a new chancellor of the exchequer in Rishi Sunak and, from Monday, a new governor of the Bank of England in Andrew Bailey, and they will both be aware that the risks of doing too little too late are far greater than those of doing too much too soon.

So, in the coming weeks the Bank can be expected to cut interest rates to 0.1% – the lowest they have ever been – and to resume its QE programme. Sunak will have to add to the £12bn he has set aside to deal with Covid-19.

As in 2008-09, the authorities in the eurozone have been slowest to act but there have been welcome signs in recent days – from Germany, most significantly – of the need for governments to spend, and spend big.

It has been clear from the start that Covid-19 affects both sides of the economy: supply and demand. The supply of goods and services is impaired because factories and offices are shut and output falls as a result. But demand also falls because consumers stay at home and stop spending, and businesses mothball investment.

Conventional policy measures – such as cutting the cost of borrowing or reducing taxes – tend to work better when there is a demand shock. There is a limit to what they can do in the event of a combined supply and demand shock.

Policymakers know that, which is why Sunak stressed in his budget speech that the economy faced a tough period. The aim is make the downturn as short and shallow as possible, even though the chances of this look vanishingly small.

Despite globalisation, much economic activity remains local but here, too, there will be an impact as people cancel appointments at the dentist, put off having their hair cut and wait to put their house on the market.

Paul Dales, the chief UK economist at Capital Economics, has estimated that output in Britain will shrink by 2.5% in the second quarter but says a 5% fall is possible. The more pessimistic estimate looks quite plausible.

What’s more, in a service-sector dominated economy much of the lost output is never going to be recovered. If people do not go out to their weekly meal at their favourite local restaurant for the next two months they are not going to eat out four times a week when the fear of infection has been lifted.

It also seems likely that the economic pain will go on for longer than originally estimated. Having imposed bans and restrictions, governments and private-sector bodies will be cautious about removing them. Countries such as Italy will be wary of opening their borders while there is a fear of reinfection. The idea that Premier League football will be back by early April is fanciful.

There is also a question of how long it will take consumer and business confidence to recover. Policy action by central banks and finance ministries can help in this respect but only so much. The chances are that the imminent recession will be U-shaped: a steep decline followed by a period of bumping along the bottom. There will be recovery but it will take time and only after much damage has been caused.

TV shipments in India rise 15 per cent to 15 million units in 2019

“Source:-IBEF”
In 2019, shipments of TVs in India increased 15 per cent annually to reach the highest-ever level of 15 million units on the back of rising demand for affordable smart television sets, according to a report by Counterpoint’s TV Tracker service.

The major reason behind the demand was smart TVs, with 32-inch TVs leading the segment and penetrating sub-US$ 150 price bands.

“India is one of the largest markets in the world with more than 200 million potential TV households and is still underpenetrated, which makes India a more attractive growth market for the entire TV and content value chain,” Counterpoint Senior Analyst Mr Karn Chauhan said. “The growing number of smartphone users in India is also driving a need for smart TVs as users look to continue with their streaming content consumption on the bigger screens when at home.”

“The broader broadband penetration in the home will further drive the overall smart TV usage; tough affordability and value for money are the key growth drivers. The new crop of brands such as Xiaomi, TCL and others are tapping their existing relationships with e-commerce channels such as Flipkart and Amazon, to successfully distribute the TVs affordably with a direct-to-consumer model,” he said.

The growth in Non-smart TV was 7 per cent YoY in 2019. Although, Samsung, LG and Sony are witnessing a YoY fall in their non-smart TV business, brands such as BPL and Sansui are still banking on that segment, which mainly caters to the rural market, B2B segment and second bedroom TV segment.

Discovery launches curated video streaming service in India

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: World’s largest factual entertainment company discovery Communications , has entered into India’s video streaming landscape with the launch of ‘Discovery Plus’. Aimed at filling the need gap of premium factual entertainment, the app is available in both – subscription and ad-supported models.

The app is first of its kind service from Discovery globally, where ‘Discovery Plus’ will have aggregated and curated content across 40+ genres including Science , Adventure, Food and Lifestyle from Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, BBC,TLC, Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo, ID, Food Network, HGTV, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Motortrend and VICE.

“Discovery has been leading the factual entertainment space on TV in India for over 25 years now and once of the key reasons was that we started localising by being available across eight languages. But while TV continues to be a strong play, there is a lot of consumption on the go via digital devices,” said Megha Tata, MD – South Asia, Discovery. “So we decided to follow our consumers and launch this service.”

Tata added that there are over 40 video streaming or over-the-top (OTT) services, but most have scripted content. “If you want unscripted, real-life content, there is a big lacuna, which we can fill.”

As per Tata, while other OTT services have to invest a lot of money on original programming, Discovery+ it is negligible. “We have over 300,000 hours of library and we add 8,000 hours of content every year. So our model is very sustainable,” she said.

Priced competitively with an introductory offer of Rs 299 per annum, the app has been developed and curated specifically for India. In the initial phase, the company will reach out to company’s core TV audience base of 25 million consumers across Tier I and Tier II towns, who watch over 3 hours of infotainment content every month.

The service will offer content across multiple languages. While 20% of content is currently available across eight languages including Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi, 70% is available in five languages. Around 10% of content is currently available only on English and Hindi.

While paid subscribers will get a large selection of never-seen-before premium Discovery titles, documentaries, India originals and exclusive acquisitions, free users of the app will have access to all-time favourites from the Discovery library.

The app also has a unique destination titled ‘Shorts’, which features free short-form videos, specially catering to the new and emerging Indian mobile user looking for infotainment on the go.

“Discovery Plus is in a way hybrid app for all types of consumers. It has short form snackable content as well as large form series and documentaries. It allows for easy discovery and sharing of content,” said Issac John, business head – Digital (South Asia), Discovery.

Currently available on Google Play and Apple App Store, the service will be available across Android TVs and Fire TV stick in a few weeks, John added.

Discovery India  has conducted multiple consumer researches to find cues to develop a truly differentiated product. In a nationwide research conducted across 10 cities, 62% of consumers indicated that they are keen to subscribe to a product that will offer interesting knowledge about the world.

Rajinikanth’s TV debut show –‘Into The Wild With Bear Grylls’ will be launched first on Discovery Plus at 6 am on March 23, much before the television premiere which is at 8 pm.

 

Indian sports sponsorship crosses Rs 9,000 crore mark in 2019: GroupM ESP

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: Overall sports sponsorship in India grew 17% in 2019 to cross Rs 9,000 crore mark as per the seventh edition of ‘Sporting Nation in the Making’, an annual report by ESP Properties- the entertainment and sports division of GroupM India.

The growth was primarily driven by media spends and on-ground sponsorship  around cricket with the Indian Premier League (IPL) ) and the ICC World Cup giving a big push to both on-ground sponsorships and media spends.

On-ground sponsorship grew by 25% to cross Rs 2,000 crore mark for the first time, while media spends were up by 18% at Rs 5,232 crore.

Spends across digital media shot up by a whopping 84% to Rs 875 crore during the year, compared to Rs 475 crore in 2018, the report stated.

Cricket alone contributed Rs 1,290 crore to the overall on-ground sponsorship of Rs 2006 crore. It was followed by football (Rs 140 crore), Kabaddi (Rs 128 crore), Marathon (Rs 123 crore), Golf (Rs 54 crore) and other sports (Rs 272 crore).

BCCI home series deals saw double the jump in sports sponsorship amounts. Paytm’s bid was at 58% incremental value in comparison to the previous per match value. Dream11, Lafarge Holcim (ACC Cement and Ambuja Cement), Hyundai will be the official sponsors for the next four years. At Rs 2.59 crore per match, the three sponsors will layout 73% more than the previous round.

Football, meanwhile, witnessed de-growth of 6% as the Indian Super League (ISL) central sponsorships could not match up to the 2018 deliveries. Kabaddi, in the absence of fresh infusion of energy, struggled with the growth conundrum and declined by 15%, thereby dropping below football in overall value to the No. 3 position.

“Indian sports industry is on an upward trajectory breaking new grounds year-on-year. While cricket proved its dominance in 2019, overall the last 5 years the industry has doubled its size,” said Vinit Karnik, business head, SP Properties.

Karnik added that the business of sports has grown at a CAGR of 12.8% over the last decade, making it one of the strong pillars of the Indian economy. “With the sports industry growing at 17% in 2019, the momentum on sports with added thrust from the government provides a holistic opportunity for the sector. Initiatives like Khelo India and Fit India movement are drivers towards making India a truly sporting nation.”

The endorsement industry grew by 11% to Rs 537 crore where cricketers contributed the most. Almost 85% of total brand endorsements have come from cricketers, and Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni cornered 63% of the total brand endorsements.

A total of 329 endorsement deals took place out of which 228 brands signed up with cricketers.

The non-cricketing space was dominated by women athletes, including PV Sindhu, Mary Kom, Hima Das and Sakshi Malik.

Seven Indian firms invest US$ 3.1 million in Bahrain’s ICT space in 2019

“Source:- IBEF”
An investment of US$ 3.1 million has been made by Seven Indian firms in Bahrain’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space in 2019.

According to Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the investment promotion agency for the Kingdom of Bahrain, the investments are made by companies ranging from IT consultants to software and hardware developers.

These include Benzy Infotech (support service arm for Akbar Travels), JKT Technosoft, Zeaway Tech (technology consultants), Expressbase, Zerek Technologies, Hacktech Solutions and Techno Path Solutions that had made the investments.

“India is now Bahrain’s fifth-largest trading partner and trade between the two countries is on the rise. We have been particularly proud to see this longstanding relationship evolve with the times towards the technology space,” Mr Dharmi Magdani, Regional Director-India, Bahrain EDB, said.

“We are seeing growing interest from India in not only our manufacturing sector but also the ICT space. Bahrain’s nimble and innovative regulatory environment with a highly-competitive taxation system and 100 per cent ownership make the kingdom attractive to Indian scale-ups, unicorns, or technology companies seeking access to the growing US$ 1.5-trillion Gulf market.”

Bilateral trade between Bahrain and India stands at about US$ 1.3 billion. There is a sizeable Indian diaspora in the kingdom, at some four lakh, the largest foreign community.

Some leading Indian companies in the kingdom include Tata Consultancy Services, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, SBI Life Insurance, ICICI Bank, SBI, Mukta Cinemas and Chemco Plastics, among others.

Boeing looks to double annual sourcing from India to $2 billion

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Boeing is looking to double its annual sourcing from India to $2 billion in the near future, Salil Gupte, President, Boeing India, said on Friday.

“Currently our annual sourcing from India is around $1 billion. Our goal is to double that over a number of years,” Gupte said, adding that it could possibly happen in the next 5-10 years.

Boeing sources critical components such as aero structures, wire harness, composites and ground support equipment from here. Its suppliers include TAL Manufacturing Solutions and Hyderabad-based Cyient.

Boeing claimed that its investments in India are bolstering aerospace sector, creating jobs and driving innovation.

To a question on the impact of coronavirus on delivery of aircraft to India, Darren Hurst, Vice-President and Global Head, Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, replied in the negative.

Coronavirus impact

Boeing said that as a result of impact of the coronavirus, airlines in the Asia-Pacific region had cut flights by almost 50 per cent. Officials claimed that the daily departures in China have come down to around 3,000 flights a day as against the earlier 15,000. Similarly, in other parts of Asia Pacific, the number of daily flights dipped to 2,500 from around 5,000 daily departures. Boeing officials claimed that whenever there has been a dip in passenger demand, the bounce back has been faster.

Meanwhile, Boeing has estimated that India will require around 2,500 new commercial aircraft by 2040.

Qatar’s Black Cat Engineering ties up with TCS for digital solutions

“Source- Business Standard”
IT firm TCS on Thursday said it has partnered with Qatar-based Black Cat Engineering & Construction (BCEC) to provide digital solutions and innovation strategy.

“Tata Consultancy Services…has been selected by BCEC..as the strategic partner to drive the latter’s digital transformation and co-innovation strategy,” TCS said in a BSE filing.

As part of the tie-up, TCS is enabling BCEC to reimagine its end-to-end business processes from tendering to construction, incorporating EPC industry’s best practices, to design and implement multifunctional and multiservice solution on Oracle Cloud ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).

The seamless enterprise-wide system integrates multiple disparate business functions and eliminates data duplication and redundancy.

“We…will bring our technology expertise, industry experience, proprietary solutions, and innovation ecosystem to make BCEC an industry benchmark,” TCS Qatar Country Head Devashis Goswami said.

BCEC is Qatar’s largest EPC and maintenance contractor for the upstream oil and gas industry.

Lithium Urban Technologies, Fourth Partner Energy tie up to set up solar-powered EV charging hubs

“Source:- IBEF”
Lithium Urban Technologies, a commercial EV fleet operator, entered into partnership with renewable energy solutions provider Fourth Partner Energy to build charging infrastructure across the country.

Both companies formed a 50-50 joint venture named Shuchi Anant Virya. It unveiled its first electric vehicle (EV) charging hub in Gurugram having capacity of charging 25-30 vehicles simultaneously. The facility will be used initially to charge Lithium’s fleet to Wipro and American Express in Gurugram.

Under the venture, Fourth Partner Energy will provide a mix of onsite and offsite solar solutions and RE trading options to power Lithium’s fleet, whereas the latter will be the anchor client offering base demand across hubs.

Mr Vivek Subramanian, Co-founder & ED at Fourth Partner Energy, spoke on the synergies between EV and PV (photovoltaic) being centred around a reduction in carbon footprint. “The global transition to electric mobility can be considered truly green only when the increased demand for energy is met by clean, renewable sources – Shuchi was formed to address this opportunity.”

Currently, Fourth Partner has a pan-India portfolio of 370 MW of solar assets for clients like Coca Cola, Walmart, Schneider, Skoda, Ferrero, TCS and McDonalds. “Partnering with Lithium helps both companies better leverage our strengths in providing sustainable solutions and cost benefits to India’s leading corporate houses,” Mr Vivek added.

The government is currently working in improving public transportation and easy adoption of EVs in order to reduce emission levels as seven of the 10 most polluted cities in the world are present in India. Under the FAME scheme, the Centre is aiming 30 per cent electric mobility by 2030.

Lithium’s all-electric fleet of over 1,000 vehicles deployed across Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Jaipur provides to over 30 corporate clients including Google, McKinsey, Credit Suisse and Barclays, eager on reducing their carbon footprint as well as their transportation costs.

Mr Vikash Mishra, Head of External Relations, Lithium Urban Technologies, said, “Businesses are becoming increasingly conscious of better environmental practices. Solar-powered EV charging infrastructure will not just close the loop on procuring clean energy for electric vehicles but will also result in improved cost efficiency. The domestic EV market is expected to grow by 35 per cent annually till 2026 and fleet operators will be the first to embrace this change. Lithium is readying India for this future of shared, connected, electric mobility. With the help of Fourth Partner Energy, we are confident of enabling this transition in a zero-carbon manner.”

A second charging hub is already been set up in Pune under the JV. “The Pune facility is India’s largest EV charging hub for four-wheelers, capable of charging over 40 vehicles at a time. Shuchi plans to set up 12-15 such hubs which include a couple more charging hubs across Delhi-NCR, and at least one each in Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Mumbai,” said Mr Vinayak Kathare, Business Head at Shuchi.

The two companies plan to invest about Rs 20 crore (US$ 2.86 million) and set up 12-15 EV charging hubs in the near term.

India exploring nuts and bolts of possible FTA with Australia

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”

Trade Ministers of both countries, who met last month, are working on what they can offer each other

India is exploring workable components of a possible free trade agreement with Australia, following the visit of Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham to New Delhi last month, when he discussed the advantages of forging such a pact with his Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal.

“Australia already knows about many of our red lines which include dairy and certain agricultural products and seems ready to accept them. That makes it easier for us to negotiate an FTA,” an official said.

The formal decision to launch negotiations for an FTA — officially known as Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) — between India and Australia will be taken after both sides go through what each is ready to offer the other, in a series of video-conference meetings.

“India and Australia both are working on what they can offer each other. Once it is discussed, a decision can be taken on whether negotiations should begin on a CECA,” the official said.

Decision on agreement

In his meeting with Goyal, the Australian Trade Minister said while his country wanted India to re-enter the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, it was willing to look at India’s proposal of a bilateral pact.

India had exited the RCEP, the 16-member proposed bloc, including the ten-member ASEAN, China, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan and South Korea, in November 2019 as it was not comfortable with the high levels of market access being sought by other members and inadequate protection against cheap imports from China due to less stringent Rules of Origin norms.

“Both India and Australia are willing to see if the work we have done bilaterally in relation to RCEP could be captured between the two countries. We have asked our officials to look at that,” Birmingham had said in a select media briefing following his meeting with Goyal.

Bilateral pact

Trade between India and Australia trade has grown steeply over the last decade but is heavily skewed in Australia’s favour. In 2018-19, India’s imports from the island-nation were valued at $13.3 billion, while Australia’s imports from India accounted for only at $3.52 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of almost $10 billion.

However, as Birmingham pointed out, the imbalance is mostly due to high imports of coal by India from the country.

India and Australia had started negotiating a bilateral CECA in May 2011, but the talks got suspended in 2015 because of disagreement over issues such as the market access in agriculture and dairy products demanded by Australia.

“If Australia adopts a flexible approach in dairy and agriculture and is willing to accommodate some of our interests in the services sector including easier visa rules for workers, a free trade pact can certainly be worked out,” the official said.

India-European Union Flagship Call announced on Integrated Local Energy Systems at India Smart Utility Week

“Source:- IBEF”
India-European Union Flagship Call on Integrated Local Energy Systems was announced at India Smart Utility Week 2020 in the presence of Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology (DST) and European Union Ambassador to India Mr Ugo Astuto.

This partnership between Indian and European Union will help in Clean Energy and Climate and this partnership will foresee strengthened cooperation in energy research and innovation, mainly in renewable energy and its integration in the energy system. The collaboration can make energy supply cleaner, more efficient and affordable to all.

This Indo-EU flagship call is fully in line with both the European Union’s and India’s involvement in Mission Innovation (MI), a global initiative of 24 countries and the European Commission (on behalf of the European Union), committed to reinvigorate and accelerate global clean energy innovation with the objective to make clean energy widely affordable.

This Indo-EU Flagship call will give novel solutions encompassing local integration across various energy vectors and increase the share of renewables in the energy mix and high energy efficiency.

Meanwhile, Sweden and India have announced the India-Sweden Collaborative Industrial Research & Development Programme at India Smart Utilities Week. The joint Programme, co-funded by Indian Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Swedish Energy Agency, will bring together world class expertise of Sweden and India to address challenges in the area of Smart Grids.

Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST and Dr Robert Andren, Director General, Swedish Energy Agency signed the Protocol of Cooperation between Swedish Energy Agency and DST discussed how this will benefit both countries.

“With India raising its ambition for renewable energy manifold, research, development and innovation the area of Smart Grids assumes high priority as essential enabler. High research development and innovation investments, especially, in partnership and collaborations, can accelerate Smart Grid technologies development in the near future. Sharing the common vision on sustainability, Sweden and India are adding one more collaborative programme to their already vibrant partnership portfolio,” said Professor Prof Sharma.

He said that during the last five years DST has set up 3 major international smart grids networked virtual centers and partnered with 24 countries for smart grids research, development and innovation. As co-lead of Mission Innovation (MI) Smart Grids innovation challenge, DST has supported 9 MI projects envisaging partnership of 17 Indian and 20 Foreign Institutions across 9 countries. DST has already made an investment of US$ 60 million in Smart Grids.

India-Sweden Industrial led Research & Development collaborative programme on Smart Grids at a collective investment of US$ 5 million will help to transform the clean energy sector into a secure, adaptive, sustainable and digitally enabled ecosystem and provide reliable and quality energy for all.

Speaking about the new programme from Stockholm, Dr Andren said, “Regardless of the differences between our countries, we share the objectives of a sustainable society and future. A sustainable energy supply is a prerequisite for all societies and therefore we need modern power infrastructures that allow highly increased amounts of renewable energy. Another common challenge we share is the transformation into a fossil free transport sector. These are just two examples of areas where India and Sweden can benefit from concrete co-creation and sharing experiences from each other”.

“India is a highly valued partner to Sweden and the fastest rising research and innovation power in the world. The Sweden and India joint programme will assure that the best of Swedish and Indian innovators can forge partnerships and develop solutions that will benefit both sides”, said MrKlas Molin, Ambassador of Sweden to India.

DST, Government of India and Swedish Energy Agency have created a funding mechanism through which companies may seek support for joint Research and Development projects. The India-Sweden programme aims to foster and support the development of collaborative Research and Development projects that bring together companies, research organisations, academics and other collaborators from both countries for the joint development of innovative products or processes. The project should aim to develop technologies that can be commercialized after two years through cooperation between India and Sweden.

The Swedish Energy Agency commits US$ 2.6 million over four years for research and innovation collaboration in the area of smart grids with India. DST will also fund a matching investment of Rs 18 crore (US$ 2.58 million) for the support of Indian partners towards industrial Research and Development projects, focused on co-development and innovation towards new products, processes or technologies. Product Adaptation projects will be funded under this new programme.

The Sweden-India Science and Innovation Partnership has grown in strength during the last couple of years. High-level visits from both sides have further boosted interest in bilateral collaboration between the two countries. The first ever India-Sweden High Level Dialogue on Innovation Policy was held in New Delhi during the state visit of their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden to India in December 2019.

Mahindra Agri Solutions bets big on organic food

“Source:- IBEF”
Tractor-to-software conglomerate Mahindra Group is planning to introduce its own brand of organic food to tap into the increasing urban market of conscious eaters.

The Mahindra Agri Solutions, a group company, may use the brand name Mahindra in order to gain consumer’s trust in the authenticity of organic food products.

In India, the major two barriers in the market are developing consumer trust in the authenticity of an organic product and the stark price difference between organic and regular food, said Mr Ashok Sharma, managing director of Mahindra Agri Solutions. The introduction of the brand like Mahindra can aid in gaining that trust, he said, whereas the price differential will be narrowed as the business scales.

To explore this business, investment in Mera Kisan, an organic food manufacturing start-up has been made by the company. It is targeting to scale to a supplier base of 25,000 farmers over the next three-four years to source at least 2 lakh tonnes of organic food. Currently, it has about 8,000 certified organic farmers in its fold, Mr Sharma said.

He added, “India itself is a big opportunity,” pegging the domestic organic food market at Rs 1,000 crore (US$ 143.08 million) annually. “There is also demand in exports and there also we want to contribute.”

Currently, the company sell its products through partners like Haiko Supermarket and online retailers like Big Basket, Amazon and Flipkart. Cricketer Mr Ajinkya Rahane has been signed as Mera Kisan’s brand ambassador. The Indian test cricket team vice-captain also picked up a minority stake in the company.

The Mahindra-backed start-up is aiming at break-even by 2024 with revenue of Rs 150 crore (US$ 21.46 million). Its target is to be among the top three organic food brands in India, added Mr Sharma.

Mahindra Agri Solutions sells seeds, micro-irrigation systems, agricultural chemicals, and is also one of the leading exporters of fruits from India to European markets.

Govt approves TCS, DLF proposals to set up SEZs

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
The government has approved the proposals of software firm TCS and realty major DLF to set up special economic zones (SEZs) for IT sector in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The approval was given by the Board of Approval, the highest decision-making body for SEZs, in its meeting on February 26 here. The inter-ministerial body is chaired by the Commerce Secretary. TCS has proposed to set up an IT/ITeS SEZ in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, on 19.9 hectares land. The total proposed investment for the project is 2,433.72 crore.

“The board, after deliberations, approved the proposal for setting up of sector specific SEZ for IT/ITeS at Noida over an area of 19.9 hectare,” according to the minutes of the board meeting.

Similarly, the two proposals of DLF also received nod from the board.

DLF has proposed to set up two SEZs in Haryana. The proposed investments for these projects are 793.95 crore and 761.54 crore.

However, the board said that the approval for DLF is “subject to the condition that the letter of approval for setting up of units would be issued only after the requirement of contiguity of the SEZ is fulfilled by the developer as per the relevant rules and instructions”.

SEZs are major export hubs in the country as the government provides several incentives and single-window clearance system.

As on November 14, 2019, the government has approved 417 such zones in the country. Out of this, 238 zones are operational.

Exports from these zones grew by about 14.5 per cent to 3.82-lakh crore in April-September 2019-20. It was 7.02-lakh crore in entire 2018-19 financial year.

HAL eyes bases in four nations to push ‘made-in-India’ defence products

“Source:- Livemint”
New Delhi: State-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is looking at setting up logistics bases in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Sri Lanka as part of initiatives to woo the countries to buy India’s light combat aircraft Tejas and military helicopters.

Chairman and Managing Director of HAL R Madhavan said the HAL is considering to build logistics bases in the four countries as they use a number of Russian-origin military aircraft and choppers whose serviceability is “very poor”.

He said the HAL is now seriously focusing on boosting exports in sync with the government’s priority and identified South East Asia, West Asia and North Africa to sell key platforms like Tejas, attack helicopter Rudra and advanced light helicopter Dhruv.

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set an ambitious defence export target of $5 billion dollars in the next five years and asked all the key military manufacturers to work hard to achieve the target.

“We are looking at setting up maintenance facilities in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka. We can give them a lot of support to as these countries use lot of platforms which are common to India, and their serviceability is very poor,” he told PTI.

The HAL top executive said the company is looking at setting up maintenance facilities in these four countries as having logistics bases is key to sell the products and ensure after-sales services.

Without divulging details, Madhavan said a number of countries in West Asia are also in touch with the HAL for possible procurement of its key products.

“We now are looking at exports very seriously. A sizeable number of countries are showing lots of interests in the platforms we are producing as they are world class. We are in talks with so many countries,” said the HAL chief.

Specifically, he said that Tejas has a “very good” export potential as it is a four-and-half generation fighter jet which can compete with some of the famous military jets in its class.

The Tejas has been Developed by Aeronautical Development Agency and the HAL. The lifespan of the jet would be a minimum of 30 years just like any other frontline combat aircraft. The combat jets are classified under various generations depending on their avionics, capability and weapons systems. The current fleet of fighter jets with the IAF range from three-and-half generation to the fourth generation.

The Indian Air Force has already placed an order for 40 Tejas and is likely to seal a contract “very soon” with HAL for another 83 aircraft at a cost of around 38,000 crore.

India is one of the largest importers of arms and military platforms globally. The government has been focusing significantly on promoting defence indigenisation by taking a slew of reform initiatives including liberalising FDI in defence sector.

Mahindra Starts Assembling Vehicles in Kenya’s Mombasa

“Source:- NDTV”
Automaker Mahindra & Mahindra has started assembling two of its small commercial trucks in Kenya, it said on Monday, becoming the latest global carmaker to start operations in East Africa’s richest economy. Mahindra’s entry follows that of French carmaker Peugeot SA and Germany’s Volkswagen AG, both of which announced resumption of local assembly in 2017 and 2016 respectively, after decades-long absences.

The interest in the local new vehicle market by international firms, which also include Swedish truck maker Volvo AB, comes in the wake of government efforts to attract investment in the sector to create jobs, by offering a range of incentives such as tax breaks. Nairobi is also planning to limit the age of second hand vehicles that can be imported into the market as part of the drive to encourage investment in local assembly of new vehicles.

Used car imports from countries such as Japan make up 85 per cent of annual car sales in Kenya, while the rest are locally assembled or brand new imports that have already been assembled.

Mahindra has started to assemble its Scorpio Single and double cabin small trucks at a plant in the coastal city of Mombasa. The plant is owned by its local partner, car retailer Simba Corporation, Mahindra said in a statement.

Mahindra plans to use Kenya as a gateway into the wider African market as it looks to grow its share of the commercial and passenger vehicle categories, it said.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked government officials and local lenders to discuss how they can offer affordable auto loans to consumers in order to further boost demand for new vehicles, his office said in a statement.

“I shall continue to provide incentives to expand this sector,” Kenyatta was quoted as saying in the statement.

 

India is driving Puma’s global growth: CEO

“Source- Economic Times”
New Delhi: India’s growing young population and increasing interest in fitness and sports will set Puma up for success in the future, the sportswear brand’s global chief executive Bjorn Gulden said. “It’s great to see the brand record sustained growth in India. It is a strategic market for Puma. A combination of global strength and local execution has accelerated the brand’s momentum in the country,” Puma SE’s chief Gulden said in a statement.

In an earnings statement released late last week, the German sportswear maker called out the Asia-Pacific region as its strongest market with 26% sales growth last year at €1,556.9 million, adding that growth in the region was primarily driven by China and India.

The lifestyle sportswear brand’s India unit reported revenue of Rs 1,413 crore in calendar year 2019, latest regulatory filings show. Like-to-like store sales grew 17%.

Puma, which competes aggressively with Nike and Reebok , said womenswear accounted for 28% sales, up from 24% a year ago.

Puma India  managing director Abhishek Ganguly said the fastest growing segments were tier two and three markets and women’s wear. He said online and offline channels grew equally. “There’s a lot of traction on sportswear now with women, younger consumers and sportswear becoming a lifestyle statement. Apart from the shift in consumer behaviour, we have localised the product portfolio and do channel specific pricing,” Ganguly said.

Puma operates 365 owned stores in India, and over the past three years, has signed up cricketer Virat Kohli , boxer, Mary Kom, footballer Sunil Chhetri and actress Sarah Ali Khan  to endorse its products.

While Gulden said that globally 2019 was the best year in Puma’s history with revenues of €5.5 billion, he warned of slower sales in first quarter of the current calendar year.

 

Top IITs, IIMs launch consortium to boost entrepreneurship ecosystem in Indian

“Source:- India Today”
Premier technical and management institutions in the country have joined hands to launch a consortium to boost Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem through high quality research in innovation, venturing and entrepreneurship.

Called ‘Innovation-Venturing and Entrepreneurship in India Network (iVEIN),’ its founding members are faculty at IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta and IIM Kozhikode. This network of institutions will leverage strengths of the partners and would work with other stakeholders such as incubators, government and investors to generate and disseminate knowledge.

iVEIN was launched on 15th February, 2020 along the side-lines of ‘Dialogue with Stakeholders’ event held by SINE (Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) at IIT Bombay.

Salient features of the initiative

While talking about this consortium, Prof A. Thillai Rajan, Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras, who is coordinating the initiative, said, “Innovation, venturing and entrepreneurship are getting increasing attention from policymakers. These three areas are expected to play a key role in the economic growth of the country in addition to strengthening India’s position as an innovation country.

Further, Prof. B. Ravi, who heads the Desai Sethi School of Entrepreneurship at IIT Bombay, said, “Top educational institutions including IITs and IIMs have been active in nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship. The proposed network will create a strategic bridge between various stakeholders, strengthen the ecosystem and synthesize the knowledge that exist in silos among different groups.”

Prof. Venkatesh Panchapagesan, Chair, NSRCEL, the innovation and entrepreneurship cell of IIM Bangalore, added, “Academic incubators play a critical role and that iVEIN will help create a stronger platform for them to share best practices and take lead in promoting activities like research that are often neglected by the private ecosystem.”

iVEIN to promote start-ups

“iVEIN aims at playing a larger, strategic role in the start-up ecosystem building beyond incubating start-ups. The network backed by academic rigour of premier institutions would help formulate knowledge in the fast-evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country,” said Keyoor Purani, Professor IIM Kozhikode and Executive Director, IIMK LIVE.

He also added,” It would also aid in creation of data-based knowledge and dissemination of such knowledge. This would give a fillip to entrepreneurship in the country by aiding both policy formulation and implementation regarding innovation as well as by helping managerial practice.”

Objectives of the iVEIN network

There are four major objectives of this initiative:

  • Create an interdisciplinary body of knowledge synthesizing multiple perspectives, which would meet the requirements of policy makers, academic researchers, students, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and all those interested in innovation and ventures
  • Track the contours of the vibrant innovation, venturing and entrepreneurship segment in the country and develop a holistic and analytical narrative on the dynamics that drive the development in these areas
  • Help in effective policy formulation at multiple levels; develop thought leadership for practice
  • Seed the creation of a society that will organize annual conferences, publish a journal, and architect a data repository in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship

About the iVEIN Report

The immediate activity that would be taken up by iVEIN would be to publish the India Innovation, Venture and Entrepreneurship Report. Conceptualized as a biennial publication, the first report would be published in 2020 with the theme: Creating Successful Ventures.

Institutes, organizations and individuals, especially policy makers, investment managers, practitioners and entrepreneurs with active interest in entrepreneurship, innovation and venturing are invited to join the network to facilitate and promote collaborative research.

About IIT Madras

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) was established in 1959 by the Government of India as an institute of national importance.

The activities of the Institute in various fields of Technology and Science are carried out in 16 academic departments and several advanced interdisciplinary Research Academic Centres.

IITM has been ranked No.1 in the Overall Institutions category in India Rankings 2019 released by National Institutional Ranking Framework, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India.

Apollo Hospitals gears up for its next phase of growth

“Source:- News break”
CHENNAI: Among the last things you expect as you enter a radiation therapy room for cancer patients is personalised settings for ambient light and music. Depending on whether you select the Underwater, Sky or Jungle theme, the ambience turns to your liking, as you walk through a short, maze-like path, into the heart of the Apollo Proton Cancer Centre in.

Apollo Hospitals gears up for its next phase of growth swank, 150-bed advanced cancer facility, built at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore, is a testament to the ambitions and risk appetite of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, India’s largest hospital chain by beds, revenue and market capitalization, and the unique family-led management at the helm, comprising of 88-year-old chairman Prathap Chandra Reddy and his four daughters.

Why gene data will put India on the map

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: India’s plan to focus on two national-level programmes to build genomic data of the population and crops is expected to help the country in developing personalised drugs, tackle disease and increase yield in crops, experts said.

It is also an attempt by the country to build genomic data of South Asians, who are largely under represented in the databases existing in the world.

Vijay Chandru, CEO of Strand Life Sciences, said initiatives around genetic data mapping by the government took shape in 2018 when K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific advisor to the prime minister, had requested for pre-proposals from researchers in India.

Chandru was a part of the team that drafted one of the first pre-proposals, which was presented to the the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory  Council. He said the proposals had possibly lossevolved into a national scheme and this could be an early announcement of funding support to the scheme. “There is a resolve from the government’s side to create large population databases of genomic data.

This can have an impact on healthcare, drug discovery and agriculture,” said Chandru. Indian ethnicity is under-represented in genomic datasets currently, according to experts, and the diverse population of the country interests genome-mining researchers across the globe.

“Clinically we see very different mutations and variants in South Asian population, for which the interpretation for treatment would be (more) nuanced for South Asians,” added Chandru.

Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw called it investments in leveraging technology to gain a competitive edge for the country. “Building a genetic database for drug innovation and investing in quantum computing are critical components for leveraging technology to gain a competitive edge,” she said.

Domestic supplies to meet 35 per cent of coking coal requirement by 2031

“Source:- Economic Times”
Kolkata: India will require 180 million tonnes of coking coal by 2030-31 to cater to the steel industry, which is aiming to produce 300 million tonnes of steel by then. M Nagaraju, joint secretary at the coal ministry said that the coal ministry has been asked to make sure 35% of the demand for coking coal be met indigenously. He was speaking at a meeting organized by Coal India exploration arm Central Mines Planning & Design Institute (CMPDIL).

“We have considerable resource of medium coking coal estimated around 27.9 billion tonnes, 8.5% of this were not being considered for beneficiation owing to their higher ash content. This category of coal holds at least 35% ash and were not being used by the steel industry. Instead it was getting consumed by the power sector. After addition of two new grades – Washery Grade-V and Washery Grade-VI following re-classification of coking coal, this variety will now be used for the steel sector after suitable beneficiation,” he said.

CMPDI organized a one day workshop followed by round table discussion on “Coal Beneficiation: Optimization of clean coal yield at lower ash.”

At the meeting KK Mishra, director engineering and services, CMPDIL said Rs 1.9 lakh crore was spent on the imported coal and hence utilizing domestic coking coal in metallurgical sector was the need of the hour.

However, it was pointed out that the quality of coking coal reserves in the country was very poor in terms of ash and is difficult to beneficiate. Majority of coking coal produced in India is of Washery Grade-V and beyond. Due to higher ash content only small share of coking coal produced in India has been utilized in metallurgical sector; and remaining major share has been diverted to non-metallurgical sector. The situation is alarmingly critical as we are not only losing valuable coking coal reserves to non-metallurgical sectors, but also it is draining huge Indian foreign currency reserves.

The plan is to receive integrated association of washery operators and consumers with coal producers to work on optimization of available resources. Increased coordination among academia-research institutions and coal industry would facilitate realistic solutions for critical problem in bridging demand and supply gap of coking coal and thus saving of foreign exchange.

 

Coronavirus boosts Indian steel export prospects as China chokes

“Source:- Economic Times”
Steel mills in India are gearing up for an increase in demand from overseas buyers as the coronavirus outbreak chokes supplies from China.

China is the world’s largest steelmaker and accounts for more than half of global output. The virus crisis has crippled demand and led to record high inventories of steel in the country, as migrant workers, who typically staff construction sites or drive trucks, are unable to return to work due to quarantine measures and movement restrictions.

“There are opportunities in certain markets where China is not able to supply because Chinese ports are blocked and movement to the ports is also pretty impacted,” Jayant Acharya, director for marketing at JSW Steel Ltd ., said by phone from Mumbai. Indian steelmakers could gain business from this month onward as supply gaps emerge in Southeast Asia, which is a big market for China, and the Middle East, he said.

Indian mills have been shipping out more steel this year as domestic demand remains sluggish amid the slowest economic expansion in more than six years. India’s exports of finished steel jumped 40% in the 10 months to January to 7.2 million tons, according to the Steel Ministry.

The virus outbreak “provides Indian steel producers an opportunity to cater to the traditional Chinese markets where Indian steel mills are also present,” Ranjan Dhar, chief marketing officer at ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India Ltd., said in an emailed reply to queries. “It is important to note that voyage time from India to these markets is equal or better than China.”

India’s biggest export markets in January were Vietnam, Italy, Nepal, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The country is the second-largest steelmaker after China.

“Any exports will only be after meeting the domestic demand in full,” Dhar said. “Not only steel exports, even auto component exports from India can be an answer to supply disruptions from China.”

Indian steelmakers are also expecting weaker imports from China, South Korea and Japan as these countries have been affected by the virus, leading them to increase prices in the South Asian country despite sluggish demand, Jayanta Roy, senior vice president at ICRA   Ltd., the local unit of Moody’s Investors Service, said by phone.

“Companies would first try to maximize their sales in the domestic market if prices are better here and only then willthey look for exports to ensure a decent capacity utilization,” he said. “It is little unclear at present how long this window is going to be open for them, as one doesn’t really know how long the coronavirus impact is going to stay.”

 

 

Rajasthan Govt Plans To Set Up 30,000 MW Solar Capacity In 5 Years

“Source:- India Project News”
Rajasthan plans to set up 30,000 MW of Solar Power plants in next five years and is in chats with driving private and state-run organizations to create energy parks, the state’s energy minister BD Kalla told ET. This will add to a previously introduced limit of around 50,000 MW in the state, he said.

“We have thought of another solar policy strategy in which we are giving a large group of motivating forces, remembering relaxations for stamp obligation, power obligation and transmission and wheeling charges. We are additionally permitting banking of vitality for hostage utilization and outsider deal on yearly premise,” Kalla said.

As of late, the Center apportioned Rajasthan a 25,000 MW ultra mega sustainable renewable energy park.. The state government has recognized land bank of 125,000 hectares in three locale — Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur—for this park.

“This park would exclusively be created by focal open division units occupied with sun based force age,” said Ajitabh Sharma, head secretary at Rajasthan’s vitality office and administrator of Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation, the state’s nodal organization for renewables.

“In any case, we need to advance both private and open division similarly in Rajasthan, which is likewise one of the goals of sunlight based arrangement. Let us initially assess the suggestion of the ultra uber vitality park,” Sharma said.

He said of the 30,000 MW—the objective Rajasthan has set for next five years—the state is hoping to introduce sun based plants of 10,000 MW in next three years in the main stage. “We are in converses with numerous PSUs including NHPC, NTPC, PFC, Tehri Hydro Power and Sutlej Jal Vidyut among hardly any others. While NTPC is searching for 5,000 MW, others are focusing on 1,000 MW every,” he said.

Maxxis bets big on India as it eyes to enter top 5 global tyre maker list

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Taiwanese tyre major Maxxis Group  is betting big on India, where it plans to build up to five factories, as it expects the country to play a crucial role in its chase to become a top five global player by 2025, according to a senior company official.

The company, which clocked revenue of around USD 4 billion in 2019, is currently the world’s 9th largest tyre brand and sees India along with Indonesia to play significant part in meeting its 2025 target.

The company is investing USD 400 million on its first manufacturing plant at Sanand in Gujarat, where it is working to hike output to 60,000 units of two-wheeler tyres  per day from the current 20,000 units a day, as part of the project’s phase I expansion.

“Maxxis has a group goal of growing into the top five globally in next five years. We have accomplished much in East Asia, Southeast Asia and have significant presence in Europe and in American market.”

“The next major international markets for us will be two places — one is India and the another Indonesia, the major two-wheeler markets in the world,” Maxxis India Marketing Head Bing-Lin Wu said.

He further said, “in achieving the group goal of 2025, India will play a pivotal role. We have estimated a certain output from the Indian market alone that will help us to achieve that target. On backward calculations four or five production units will be the minimum requirement to achieve that.”

When asked about investments and timeline for setting up these plants, he said, “we will start a discussion very soon.”

Also, he said the investments on the new plants would be comparably lesser than on its first plant at Sanand where the company has already made “some heavy advanced investments” on machinery for processes such as mixing, vulcanising and calendering and the “capacity of one machine is so huge that it can supply six to seven production lines”.

“In the subsequent plants, we will try to make an optimisation between our investments and utilising the current capacity of our Sanand plant,” Wu said.

At present, Maxxis India supplies two-wheeler tyres to Honda,Yamaha  and Suzuki from its Sanand plant, while it supplies four-wheeler tyres to Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki and Jeep.

Commenting on Sanand plant expansion, Lu said, “we have used half of the land (106 acres) we got from the Gujarat government for the planned 60,000 units capacity. The other half of the land, we are still deciding whether to put another 60,000 units capacity of two-wheeler or we are going to put four-wheeler tyre production.”

Maxxis has set a target of garnering 15 per cent of two-wheeler tyre market in India by 2023.

Lu said the company expects the Indian market to grow to around 10 crore units of two-wheeler tyres per year and if the company achieves its target of 15 per cent market share “we will more or less utilise the entire capacity of our Gujarat plant and anything beyond will require expansion of production in India”.

On four-wheeler tyre segment, he said the group’s 2025 target and expectations from India are pinned on both two and four-wheeler tyres segment “but volume-wise, definitely two-wheeler tyres in India has more advantage than four-wheeler tyre business”.

When asked about growth prospects for 2020, Lu said Maxxis expects to continue with its growth momentum from last year, despite the automobile industry suffering a downturn as it was able to enhance its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) business share.

“I will say we are still in a position to aim at high growth given that we’re going to have even higher share in the existing partnership and we are looking at multiple projects simultaneously with OE (original equipment) partners,” he said.

Looking to scale up motorcycle biz in India: Suzuki Motorcycle

“Source:- Economic Times”
Suzuki Motorcycle India (SMIPL), the wholly-owned two-wheeler arm of Suzuki Motor Corp , plans to scale up its motorcycle business as it aims the segment to account for 20 per cent of its overall sales volumes in the domestic market, a top company official said. The company, which currently sells five motorcycle models in the country, gets just around 10 per cent of its overall volumes from motorcycle sales.

Scooter sales, on the other hand, account for 90 per cent of the company’s annual volumes in the domestic market.

Terming the motorcycle segment as a “challenge” for the company in the country, Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd (SMIPL) Managing Director Koichiro Hirao told that plans are afoot to enhance presence in the vertical in the next financial year.

“This area (motorcycle segment) is our challenge. In order to push sales in the vertical we have already introduced new models and bike zones inside showrooms in order to give premium experience to the customer,” he said.

Elaborating further SMIPL Vice-President (sales, marketing and aftersales) Devashish Handa said the company has recently launched fully upgraded version of Gixxer 150 and all new Gixxer 250 which has been designed keeping the Indian market in mind.

“This has been done to ensure that we start doing significantly higher numbers than what we are doing today,” he added.

When asked how much the company is aiming for the motorcycle segment to contribute towards company’s overall volumes in the domestic market, Handa said: “We would like to take it up to atleast 20 per cent if we are lucky in a years time, that is our effort.”

The company would like to bring in new products in future but the current focus would be to shore up enhanced sale numbers from the current model line up, he noted.

“We will bring in new products but the precise timeline is difficult to say. Our immediate focus would be to enhance the numbers from the current range that we have,” Handa said.

He further said: “but we definitely have plans to get more products because we have long term plans in India and we would like to increase our presence much more then what it is today. That will be possible only if we get new products.”

Handa said the company would focus on 150 cc and above segment and won’t participate in the commuter segment.

“Our strength lies in performance bikes, value packed vehicles. We will continue to be in our strength area,” he added.

Besides Gixxer range, Suzuki Motorcycle sells 155-cc Intruder and superbikes Hayabusa, V-Strom 650 and GSX-S750 in the country.

In the scooter segment, the company plans to focus on consolidating its two models — Access 125 and Burgman Street, while also preparing for new launches in the future, Handa said.

“Besides, we also plan to have around 600 dealerships in the next fiscal,” he added.

The company currently has 540 dealerships in the country.

The company, is looking to sell 7.2 lakh units in the current fiscal.

“At the start of the fiscal, we planned to sell 8.6 lakh units in the domestic market, but we expect to finish at around 7.2 lakh units… it is less as compared to what we planned at the start of the year but as compared to last year (2018-19) this would be a 7 per cent growth,” Hirao said.

In the next fiscal, the company aims to sell around 8 lakh units in the domestic market, he added.

“It would be 11 per cent growth over 2019-20. We are looking for this kind of growth even as the market conditions are expected to remain challenging,” Hirao said.

When asked to comment on exports from India, Hirao said the company is aiming for 10 per cent increase in shipments per annum.

The company expects to close the current fiscal with 1.05 lakh units with 50 per cent of the shipments headed to Latin America.

 

TVS Motor Co partners Motomundo for sales, service in Honduras

“Source:- Business Insider”
New Delhi -Chennai-based TVS Motor Company on Thursday said it has partnered with Motomundo SA, a business group in Honduras for sales and service of its products in the Central American nation.

As a part of this association, Motomundo SA will facilitate the sales and service of TVS products across all Motomundo stores in the country in a phase-wise manner, the company said in a statement.

Under the partnership, Motomundo stores will start with an exclusive outlet for TVS Motor Co and within a year will expand it to three stores in the country.

Products of the Indian firm will be present in 40 Motomundo outlets and over 25 dealers across Honduras along with 25 service outlets to ensure complete service and spare support.

“The range of two-wheeler offerings will be supplemented with attractive retail finance schemes,” TVS Motor said.

Commenting on the partnership, TVS Motor Co Executive Vice President – International Business R Dilip said: “The unique network of distribution that Motomundo SA has developed makes them the best strategic ally for TVS Motor Company. With this partnership, we will be able to offer customised products with complete service and spare parts for our customers and consolidate our presence in the region.”

Motomundo SA Executive Director Mariano Jimenez Torres said: “All our outlets will be manned by skilled manpower in-line with TVS Motor Company global standards thus reinforcing our commitment towards the Honduran market.”

The technology and quality prowess of TVS Motor Co combined with Motomundo’s network facility will definitely create an impact in Honduras, Torres added. RKL SHWSHW

 

New Microsoft programme to empower B2B startups in India

“Source;- Telangana Today”
Mumbai: Microsoft on Monday launched a new programme to bring 100 companies to commit $100,000 each for enterprise-ready solutions from 100 business-to-business (B2B) startups in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space in India over the course of 18 months.

Called the “100X100X100” programme, the initiative has already witnessed participation of more than 50 startups. India has one of the largest B2B SaaS startup ecosystems in the world, and it’s growing exponentially.

“This initiative will help build scale and create amazing opportunities for startups. Businesses can now fast-track their digital journeys through easy adoption of enterprise-grade solutions. We’re excited to see the outcomes of these partnerships,” Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, told reporters.

The programme was announced as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella began his three-day India visit from Monday.

Launched under the ‘Microsoft for Startups’ initiative, the 100X100X100 programme will help enterprises fast track their digital transformation through faster adoption of SaaS solutions. It will make available a variety of curated, ready to launch, enterprise-grade solutions from startups with a proven track record.

It would also aim to create a profitable domestic market for the fast growing Indian B2B SaaS startup segment by increasing their revenue and customer base.

The programme will be conducted with the support of ecosystem partners and industry associations including the Delhi and Mumbai Chapters of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), Microsoft said.

Microsoft for Startups allows early stage B2B startups to leverage Microsoft Azure marketplace, enterprise sales team and rapidly growing partner ecosystem.

The new programme is open to Microsoft co-sell enabled startups associated with the company.

These startups will also have access to regular speed-contracting sessions with prospective customers at Microsoft industry and customer events.

Govt to give major boost to MSME sector: Nitin Gadkari

“Source:- Livemint”

MUMBAI : Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday said the Modi government was all set to give a major boost to the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

He was speaking at the first-ever Bunts Star Achievers Awards 2020 instituted by the Indian Bunts Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IBCCI).

“MSMEs account for 48 per cent of the exports and employ 11 crore people. We are giving a major boost to the MSME sector…it drives the economy,” Gadkari said.

The MSME minister added that India needs an institute for enterprises and entrepreneurship.

“We need fast decision-making and that is the hallmark of this government,” he added.

He claimed that despite global economic recession, India was the fastest growing economy.

“What matters is conversion of knowledge to wealth and waste to wealth. Environment and development must go together,” he said, adding that a holistic thinking was required to ensure that infrastructure development is not delayed.

Union Chemicals and Fertilizer Minister Sadananda Gowda said that since the BJP-led NDA government came to power, the ease of doing business has improved to the World Bank global ranking of 63 from the earlier 134.

Gowda, a former Karnataka chief minister, also said GST has “changed the scenario”.

“GST Council is an autonomous body and in the last two-and-a-half years there has not been a single incident of dissent,” he said.

By 2025, 100 crore worth infrastructure projects are coming up, he said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

Fintech funding in India doubled to $3.7bn in 2019: Report

“Source:- Telangana Today”
New Delhi: India became world’s third largest financial technology (fintech) centre — behind only the US and the UK in 2019 as fintech investments nearly doubled to $3.7 billion from $1.9 billion in 2018, an Accenture study said on Thursday.

The number of deals was up slightly to 198 last year from 193 in 2018, said Accenture analysis of data from CB Insights, a global venture-finance data and analytics firm.

The vast majority of funds raised last year in India went into payments startups (58 per cent), while insurtechs raked in 13.7 per cent of the investments and fintechs in lending accounted for 10.8 per cent of the total, the data showed.

One97 Communications, the parent company of digital wallet Paytm, raised $1.66 billion from two separate transactions, while PhonePe tapped investors for about $210 million — also from two separate deals — and full-stack financial services company Razorpay raised $75 million.

Other large transactions included $282 million insurtech PolicyBazaar raised from two deals and the $120 million from credit card payments company CRED, the findings showed.

Investments in payments companies more than tripled to $2.1 billion from about $660 million in 2018, while funding into insurtechs also rose strongly, up 74 per cent to $510 million.

“There’s a lot brewing in India’s fintech ecosystem and this steady flow of funds shows investors’ confidence in the industry’s future growth potential,” said Sonali Kulkarni, Managing Director – Financial Services, Accenture in India.

“The increase both in deal value and the number of deals is a good indicator of what’s to come and bodes well for the future development of cutting-edge financial technology in the country,” she added.

Investment in fintech ventures rose sharply in most major markets in 2019, led by gains in the US and the UK and emerging economies such as India and Brazil.

Despite those gains, the total value of fintech deals globally dipped 3.7 per cent, to $53.3 billion from $55.3 billion in 2018, boosted by a record $14 billion from Ant Financial and three other multi-billion-dollar transactions from Chinese companies.

Fintech deals in China dropped 92 per cent in 2019, to $1.9 billion, with the $145 million financing from insurtech Shuidi Huzhu in June being the country’s largest transaction.

“Despite strong demand for fintech globally, it’s likely that, as startups become more mature, investments will flow to fast-growing economies, where there’s still a huge, unaddressed consumer and corporate market thirsty for innovations,” said Julian Skan, a senior managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services practice.

A $21.6 bn retail opportunity for India is knocking at transport hubs

“Source:- Economic Times”
1) Infrastructure development
Infrastructure and related commercial development could open up a $21.6 billion transit retail opportunity at transport hubs — including airports, rail and metro stations and highway and bus depots — in India by 2030, says a Knight Frank report. The operators stand to gain as much as $3.2 billion in lease rentals.

2) $10 billion
The funding the govt. could generate by monetising these transit-oriented retail assets

3) What retailers get
A captive audience with time and means to spend

4) What developers should do
Transport hubs will have to create appropriate space with prominence and visibility, smart revenue models and correct product mix to ensure that retailers see value in their presence at the hub

5) Retail potential best tapped at airports
Retail potential is best tapped at airports now $9.3 bn. Retail opportunity for airports by 2030 $1.6 bn. Lease rental opportunity at airports by 2030.

Delhi
Passenger Traffic: 70 m
Retail Revenue per Passenger ($): 6

Mumbai
Passenger Traffic: 50 m
Retail Revenue per Passenger ($): 7

Bengaluru
Passenger Traffic: 32 m
Retail Revenue per Passenger ($): 4

Changi Passenger
Traffic: 66 m
Retail Revenue per Passenger ($): 32

Heathrow
Passenger Traffic: 80 m
Retail Revenue per Passenger ($): 12

Dallas FW
Passenger Traffic: 70 m
Retail Revenue per Passenger ($): 6

Frankfurt
Passenger Traffic: 70 m
Retail Revenue per Passenger ($): 3

6) Shishir Baijal, Knight Frank India
The focus on developing transport modes is opening up unprecedented opportunities for retail.

Tata Coffee launches e-commerce platform

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Tata Coffee Limited, a subsidiary company of Tata Consumer Products Ltd, announced on Wednesday the launch of its e-commerce platform, “www.coffeesonnets.com”.

The website debuts with three variants of luxury single origin specialty coffee named ‘The Sonnets-The voice of our estates.’

“Through this online platform, Tata Coffee aims to make its finest estate coffees available to consumers across India,” it said in a statement.

“These single estate coffees are processed uniquely with great care, undergoing intense sensorial evaluations by expert tasters. Only the finest and the rarest coffees are carefully selected to be used in The Sonnets range of coffees, showcased this season,” TCL said.

The coffees are directly sourced from two of Tata Coffee’s 19 estates located in Coorg region of Karnataka.

These estates — Goorghuly and Woshully — are recognised for growing some of the best Arabica Coffees in the country, the company said.

TCL MD and CEO, Chacko Thomas, said, “The Sonnets-The voice of our estates’ aims to give coffee lovers across the country access to some of our finest estates’ coffees through our e-commerce platform.”

Metro Cash & Carry to open 5 new stores in India this year, enhance partnership with kirana stores

“Source:- Business Insider”
New Delhi,– German wholesale retailer Metro Cash & Carry is gearing up for expansion in India with the addition of five new stores this year and also plans to accelerate its e-commerce play and partnership with kirana stores, according to a top company official.

The wholesale retailer, which has registered profits in the last two years in India, has so far partnered with 2,000 kirana stores in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Delhi, offering them complete end-to-end retail solutions.

“The company thinks India is a big growth market. The opportunity for growth in India is huge in both physical stores and e-commerce,” Metro Cash & Carry India Managing Director and CEO Arvind Mediratta told .

As part of expansion plans, he said, “we have five stores coming up this year in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.”

Metro Cash & Carry currently has 27 cash and carry stores in India in 17 cities.

When asked about investments for the new stores, he declined to comment but said besides the new physical stores, the company has also been focussing on its partnership with local neighbourhood stores through its ‘Smart Kirana Programme’.

The whole idea is how to make a kirana store smarter in terms of usage of technology, by running business more efficiently, targeting more customers using data analytics, drive more customer traffic and make it more successful and profitable, he added.

“We believe in helping kiranas in increasing their sell-out, not just sell to them because if their sell-out improves, and if they think Metro can help increase their sell-out, we automatically become their preferred supplier,” Mediratta said.

The company has provided point of sale (PoS) devices, which come with a Metro app to kirana owners through which they can order items from Metro online, get daily sales and profit report while also track top customers, the most selling articles and slow moving items.

The device also allows them to accept debit/credit cards and accept wallet payments, which offer customer cashbacks and other offers. It enables passing on of such benefits to the end customer, he added.

“The programme is working well and we believe we now have enough results and have got approval from our global board to expand this programme and take it national. We are now already in the process of scaling it up,” he said.

For scaling up its Smart Kirana Programme, Mediratta, said the company is taking it one step at a time.

“Our idea is to first saturate Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi before you enter newer cities. You get better returns on investment if you do one market and do it really well, this is one of our big learnings when it comes to profitability. Strengthen your dominance wherever you are,” he said.

Metro has partnered with Paytm in Delhi and MSwipe in the rest of the country for digital payments while it has also roped in ePayLater which not only offers credit to kirana stores but also to their end-customers enabling them to shop at specific stores, Mediratta added.

Stating that Indian retail landscape is changing with new-age online players both in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) investing a lot of money, including on pricing which has put a lot of pressure on local kirana stores.

“What we are tying to do is organise loans for these kiranas for remodelling, because it can cost from Rs 75,000 to Rs 2 lakh and the remodelling operations takes only 48 hours,” Mediratta said. RKL DRR

Tritium chargers to power India’s electric vehicles

“Source:- Austrade”
Australian e-mobility industry leader Tritium is supplying its DC fast-charging solutions to Indian conglomerate TATA Group.

Brisbane-based Tritium is a technology company specialising in the design and manufacture of direct current (DC) fast-charging solutions for electric vehicles (EV). Established in 2001, Tritium is one of Australia’s fastest-growing technology companies, with significant operations and commercial success in leading international EV markets.

In a sign of India’s growing attention to sustainable transport infrastructure, one of the country’s leading automotive and mobility component suppliers, Tata AutoComp Systems, has entered into a partnership with Tritium to supply DC chargers for electric vehicles. Tritium’s Veefil-RT DC fast chargers are capable of charging a range of EVs including two-wheelers and passenger and commercial vehicles.

Promoting clean and sustainable mobility in India

According to a recent WHO study, India is home to 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. Rapid urbanisation is creating pressure on an already fragile environment.

India has committed to reducing its use of fossil fuels, and has set a target that will see 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduced by a third from 2005 levels. The country is also keen to reduce its dependency on oil as it currently imports 80 per cent of its transportation fuel.

Against this backdrop, the Indian Government has launched initiatives to promote a more sustainable and cleaner environment. In March 2019, the Government introduced the FAME II scheme to promote the “faster adoption and manufacture of (hybrid and) electric” vehicles.”

It includes Rs10 billion (approximately A$20 million) to set up charging stations for electric vehicles in large metropolitan areas, smart cities and remote locations.

Australian leadership in the EV charging sector

Tritium is focused on helping create cleaner, healthier and more convenient cities. It does this by providing intelligent charging products for electric vehicles to speed up the transition to e-mobility.

Tritium holds a dominant share in many significant EV markets and has installed its Veefil fast chargers in 24 countries. It has an estimated 25 per cent market share in the US, 50 per cent in Norway, 20 per cent in the UK and 90 per cent in Australia.

Although EVs accounted for only 2 million of the 86 million passenger cars sold worldwide in 2018, experts are almost unanimous in their assertion that the shift to e-mobility is both imminent and inevitable.

In India, it is the two- and three-wheeler market that has been the first to see significant changes.

E-rickshaws (which are lower in cost to purchase and operate than passenger cars) offering last-mile connectivity racked up sales of more than 600,000 units in 2019.

However, the current lack of charging infrastructure is putting the brakes on EV sales. A recent Bloomberg report forecasts that EV passenger cars will capture only 6 per cent of the Indian market by 2030.
The Indian Government’s support for EVs is expected to drive growth, with the market forecast to expand to 28 per cent by 2040. This will make India the fourth largest EV market in the world in the next 20 years.

Tritium’s entry into the nascent but potentially enormous market of India will put the company in a leading position when sales of electric vehicles accelerate. The partnership with Tata AutoComp will strengthen Tritium’s market standing.

Tata AutoComp has established a significant presence in the Indian automotive component market with a range of strategic partnerships in products and services for Indian (and international) original equipment manufacturers. It has 7,000 employees and is active across multiple vehicle segments.

Commenting on the decision to partner with Tritium for the supply of EV fast chargers, the MD and CEO of Tata AutoComp, Arvind Goel, indicated that with the arrival of EVs, the need for chargers capable of powering them is significant. He confirmed the company is striving to bring the latest technology and solutions to its customers.

Austrade support

To smooth Tritium’s entry into India, Austrade introduced the company to key stakeholders in the EV infrastructure space, including TATA Group. In a market where the badge of government can often be helpful, Austrade also introduced Tritium to relevant government ministries in India and helped bring the MD of TATA AutoComp to Tritium’s cutting-edge Brisbane facility.

Austrade is currently working with a number of companies developing opportunities in India’s sustainable infrastructure and built environment sectors, where Australia’s leading expertise and innovation is increasingly in demand in the world’s fastest-growing large economy.

Titan buys HUG Innovations to strengthen smart wearables play

“Source:-IBEF”
Titan Company Ltd.’s watches and wearables business has announced the acquisition of HUG Innovations, a Hyderabad-based technology and wearables company.

A 23-member team of HUG Innovations has joined Titan in January 1st, 2020. This team will form the Hyderabad Development Centre and help with its expertise in hardware, firmware, software and cloud technology. With this acquisition, Titan also gets access to HUG Innovations’ consumer platform and Intellectual Property. Mr Raj Neravati, Founder of HUG Innovations, has been appointed as the AVP and Head of Technology for Wearables, Titan Company Ltd.

“We want to move from devices and hardware to developing a complete connected ecosystem. We want to engage with customers not just till the purchase of a Titan product but continue to engage after the purchase. We want to move away from number of units sold, to monthly active engagements with customers,” said Mr S Ravi Kant, CEO, Watches and Wearables Business, Titan Company.

“Earlier, we worked with partners like HP and Intel to launch smart watches and worked with a few start-ups to launch a smart band. We are also working very closely with a company in Singapore to develop some of our products. But now, with the acquisition of HUG Innovations, we believe the time has come to develop tech capability in-house,” Mr Kant added.

The watches and wearables business division has also announced the launch of ‘Titan Connected X,’ a full-touch smart watch with analogue hands, priced at Rs 14,995 (US$ 214.55). This move has been in line with an aim to accelerate company’s technology and wearables play.

This is Titan’s 13th product in the smart wearable’s portfolio, which will be available in all leading Titan stores starting March 2020. The smart watch will come in three variants loaded with 13 tech features like a 1.2 inch full-colour touchscreen with analogue hands, activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, find phone, camera control, sleep tracking, weather, calendar alerts and customisable watch faces, music and selfie control on the go.

Titan began its wearables journey in 2016 when it launched ‘Juxt’. The company has, since then, scaled up its presence with the launch of 12 wearables at price points ranging from Rs 700 to Rs 22,995 (US$ 10.02 to US$ 329.02). These products are majorly targeted at three consumer segments – Youth, Urban Male and Women. Recently, it included a new consumer segment – the First Jobber. Under 10 per cent of its watch sales comes from smart watches, which is expected to grow to under 20 per cent in three years.

‘India has potential to increase exports to $15 billion by 2025’

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
India has the potential to increase its goods and services exports to Australia to $15 billion by 2025 and $35 billion by 2035, according to Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, a former senior Indian Foreign Service (IFS) official. He was speaking about the bilateral trade opportunities at a round-table discussion organised by the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce in the city last week.

Bilateral trade in goods and services between Australia and India stood at $23.3 billion in 2018, of which goods accounted for $17.8 billion while services contributed about $5.5 billion.

In a presentation titled, ‘Economic and Trade potential between India and Australia’, Ambassador Wadhwa highlighted that India accounted for only 2 per cent of Australia’s total merchandise imports and 2.7 per cent of services imports in 2018.

Plans for India

A distinguished fellow at Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), Ambassador Wadhwa was a former secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs and Ambassador of India to Italy, Thailand, Oman, Poland, Lithuania and San Marino. He was tasked with the responsibility of authoring “Australia Economic Strategy” (AES), a reciprocal report from the Indian side to “India Economic Strategy 2035” (IES), a report released by the Australian government in 2018 with a target of making India one of Australia’s top three export markets and the third-largest destination in Asia for Australian outward investment.

The IES was expected to be released by Australian PM Scott Morrison during his proposed visit to India in January 2020. However, the Australian PM had to cancel his first official visit due to the bushfire crisis in his country.

Ambassador Wadhwa’s presentation highlights only the key opportunities based on the 300-page report.

‘Where the future lies’

“We looked at the existing sectors on what more could be done and also futuristic sectors, which is something not happening now but where the future lies,” Ambassador Wadhwa said, adding that technology, services and innovation will be the future of this relationship given the nature of this economy at the moment and what is happening in India itself.

Wadhwa said petroleum products, rail equipment, pharmaceutical products and Automobiles are some of the key products in which India can increase its share of exports to Australia.

“India contributes 7 per cent of Australia’s imports of petroleum and mineral oils. India is a major exporter of refined oil and other products like high-speed diesel, aviation turbine fuel, light diesel oil, etc. It can leverage its strengths in this sector to increase its share in Australia’s imports,” the presentation noted.

India’s Organic Food Business expected to reach; Rs75,000 Crores by 2025

“Source:- IBEF”
With an aim to empower women and promote organic produce, Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) is organizing a National Organic Festival with a special focus on women entrepreneurs, said Smt Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Minister for Food Processing Industries (FPI). Announcing the 3-day long Food festival, during a press meet in New Delhi today, FPI Minister shared that more than 150 women Entrepreneurs and Self Help groups (SHG’s) from all over the country will be exhibiting their organic products in various segments such as fruit & vegetables, ready to eat Products, Spices and condiments, Honey, cereals, dry fruits etc.  Smt Pushpa Subrahmanyam, Secretary in the Ministry was also present.

In order to boost the organic products and promote women entrepreneurship in the area of production and processing of organic products, the MoFPI and Ministry of Women and Child Development (Mo WCD) have joined hands for organising a three-day festival from February 21-23, 2020 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.

The festival cum exhibition that is being held under the theme “Unleashing India’s Organic Market Potential” will be inaugurated by Smt Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries. Women entrepreneurs and SHGs from all over the country will be exhibiting their organic products in various segments such as fruit & vegetable, ready-to-eat products, spices and condiments, honey, cereals, dry fruits, beverages, medicinal plants, oil and value-added products like jam, jelly, murabba, chutney etc. Entrepreneurs and SHGs from 24 states are participating in the festival.

Apart from showcasing the organic products, the event will focus on facilitating business linkages and empowering women entrepreneurs through pre-arranged B2B and B2G meetings. Other softer elements of the exhibition will include, organic food quiz, live culinary sessions, Chef speaks, cultural events, nukkad natak etc.

Smt Harsimrat Kaur Badal shared that the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) and Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) have recently signed an MoU to help women entrepreneurs get connected with Government financial schemes like MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency), Startup India and also meet the compliance needed for being competitive in the global market.

Skill development capacity building training programs for women entrepreneurs and SHGs will be organized to facilitate post-harvest management, value addition and new innovations towards enhancing production efficiency as well to impart comprehensive knowledge about various aspects of the supply chain of organic products. Training on packaging, marketing and innovations on renewable energy will also be imparted to help the producers cater to a broader consumer base. Training on organic certification and FSSAI regulations will be organized as well to familiarize producers with the regulatory processes.

Awareness sessions for consumers on benefits of incorporating organic in daily diet will be held. Also, success stories of entrepreneurs will be highlighted in an exclusive segment. For facilitating business linkages and empowering women entrepreneurs through financial inclusion pre-arranged B2B and B2G meeting will be organized during the exhibition, said the Union Minister.

Talking about the benefits of the Organic food, Smt Harsimrat Kaur Badal said: “How your food is grown or raised can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods often have much more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts”

India’s Organic Market Potential

With ninth largest World’s Organic Agricultural land and largest number of producers India is fast growing in the organic food segment. India produced around 1.70 million MT (2017-18) of certified organic products which includes all varieties of food products namely Oil Seeds, Sugar cane, Cereals & Millets, Cotton, Pulses, Medicinal Plants, Tea, Fruits, Spices, Dry Fruits, Vegetables, Coffee etc.

On the demand side, increasing disposable incomes, increasing awareness around health and wellness and increasing acceptability are driving the growth in the organic food segment which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10 per cent during the period 2016-21.

At the same time the demand for Indian organic food products is on constant increase worldwide with India exporting organic products worth US$ 515 million in 2017-18 with organic products being exported to USA, European Union, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Israel, South Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, Japan etc. The major demands under the organic product category are for oil seeds, cereals & millets, sugar, fruit juice concentrates, tea, spices, pulses, dry fruits, medicinal plant products etc.

As per the Indian Organic Sector – Vision 2025 report, India’s organic business has immense potential to reach the Rs 75,000 crore (US$ 10.73 billion) mark by 2025 from Rs 2,700 crore (US$ 386.32 million) (in 2015).

Tata Power plans to have 700 EV charging stations by 2021

“Source:- Livemint”
Tata Power is planning to increase its network of electric vehicle charging stations to 700 by next year, a top company official said.

The company has already installed 100 fast charging stations in various cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad, which it plans to take to 300 by March 2020.

“We are mapping the locations where EVs are launched and we will be setting up charging stations in those cities. Our aim is to take this number to around 700 by next year,” company’s CEO and Managing Director Praveer Sinha said.

The government’s decision to lower the GST rate on EVs to five per cent from 12 per cent is expected to make EVs affordable for consumers with additional income-tax deduction.

He said the company is not just focusing on public spaces but will also provide home EV charging stations.

“We will create infrastructure for home charging as well as public charging like at metro stations, shopping malls, theatres and highway, among others,” Sinha said.

The company is already in talks with metro rail authorities and municipal corporations for setting up EV charging stations. Besides, it will set up charging stations at Tata Group owned outlets such as Chroma, WestSide, Titan watch showroom, and Indian Hotels, among others.

Tata Power has also signed MoUs for setting up commercial EV charging stations at HPCL, IOCL, and IGL retail outlets.

In Mumbai, the company has already set up 30 station, which it expects to increase to 200 by next year. Company’s Head-EV and home automation Sandeep Bangia said from the standard 15 kW stations, the companies may also look at installing charging stations that will adhere to 30-50 kW standards as demand grows.

 

London-based GFG Alliance acquires Adhunik Metaliks, its arm to mark India entry

“Source:- Financial Express”
Billionaire Sanjeev Gupta-led GFG Alliance on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Adhunik Metaliks and its arm Zion Steel for about Rs 425 crore, marking its entry into the Indian steel market.

London-based GFG Alliance is a global group of energy, mining, metals, engineering and financial services businesses, which was eyeing Indian market for long and has become the second global company to enter the local steel market in past two months.

In December 2019, L N Mittal’s ArcelorMittal completed the acquisition of Essar Steel to enter the Indian market.

GFG Alliance on Tuesday completed the strategic acquisition of Adhunik Metaliks Ltd (Adhunik) and Zion Steel Ltd (Zion) in a Rs 4.25 billion or USD 60 million cash deal. The transaction marks the Alliance’s entry into India, one of the world’s fastest growing steel markets, the London-based group said in a statement.

The immediate focus, it said, will be on reviving and restoring the facilities and operations of the two companies, and once stabilised the business will begin its integration into the Liberty Steel Group, a part of GFG Alliance.

Commenting on the acquisition, India-born British businessman and Executive Chairman of GFG Alliance Sanjeev Gupta said: “Today marks an important milestone in our global steel strategy with the purchase of Adhunik Metaliks and our entry into India. India is one of the fastest growing and most vibrant steel markets in the world.”

Adhunik has an integrated steel plant located at Chadrihariharpur near Rourkela in Odisha. The plant has both blast furnace and Electric Arc Furnace steel making capability with 0.5 million tonne per annum (MTPA) capacity, and a 34 MW captiv

In December 2019, L N Mittal’s ArcelorMittal completed the acquisition of Essar Steel to enter the Indian market.

Billionaire Sanjeev Gupta-led GFG Alliance on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Adhunik Metaliks and its arm Zion Steel for about Rs 425 crore, marking its entry into the Indian steel market.

London-based GFG Alliance is a global group of energy, mining, metals, engineering and financial services businesses, which was eyeing Indian market for long and has become the second global company to enter the local steel market in past two months.

In December 2019, L N Mittal’s ArcelorMittal completed the acquisition of Essar Steel to enter the Indian market.

GFG Alliance on Tuesday completed the strategic acquisition of Adhunik Metaliks Ltd (Adhunik) and Zion Steel Ltd (Zion) in a Rs 4.25 billion or USD 60 million cash deal. The transaction marks the Alliance’s entry into India, one of the world’s fastest growing steel markets, the London-based group said in a statement.

The immediate focus, it said, will be on reviving and restoring the facilities and operations of the two companies, and once stabilised the business will begin its integration into the Liberty Steel Group, a part of GFG Alliance.

Commenting on the acquisition, India-born British businessman and Executive Chairman of GFG Alliance Sanjeev Gupta said: “Today marks an important milestone in our global steel strategy with the purchase of Adhunik Metaliks and our entry into India. India is one of the fastest growing and most vibrant steel markets in the world.”

Adhunik has an integrated steel plant located at Chadrihariharpur near Rourkela in Odisha. The plant has both blast furnace and Electric Arc Furnace steel making capability with 0.5 million tonne per annum (MTPA) capacity, and a 34 MW captive power plant.

Adhunik along with Zion Steel’s steel rolling facility has a combined capacity of 400,000 tonnes per annum. The sites produce products for automotive, energy, engineering and oil and gas sectors.

Budget 2020: Plan to double milk production to 108 MT by 2025

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Giving a big thrust to India’s dairy economy, the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the government’s resolve to double milk processing capacity by 2025.

The Finance Minister stated that the Government looks to facilitate doubling of milk processing capacities from 53.5 million metric tonnes (MT) to 108 MT by 2025. This would help to increase the country’s per capita milk availability from the current about 394 grams per day.

It could be noted that India’s milk production has grown by more than 10 times since 1950.

The FM’s announcement bears significance in the backdrop of India’s growing middle-class and urban consumption of dairy products.

The Government data suggests that, the per capita consumption of milk has improved from 4.3 litre per month in urban areas in 1988 to 5.4 litres in 2012, whereas in rural areas, the same improved from 3.2 litres per month to  4.3 litres per month.

Finance Minister’s announcement comes as a validation to NITI Aayog’s projections of India’s milk production to touch 330 million tonnes by 2033.

Elimination of FMD and Brucellosis

The FM also emphasise on government’s intent to completely eliminate animal diseases for a better health of the cattle.

“Our Government intents to eliminate Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis in cattle and also PPR in sheep and goat by 2025. We are confident that it will be completely eliminated by then,” Sitharaman stated in her Saturday’s Budget Speech in the Parliament.

The Government also looks to increase the coverage of artificial insemination from the present 30 per cent to 70 per cent to create better and high-yielding cattle breeds for increased milk production.

The FM also stated that MNREGA’s coverage would be expanded to develop fodder farms as well.

India ranks as second largest steel producer of crude steel: Dharmendra Pradhan

“Source:- Livemint”
India now ranks as the second-largest producer of crude steel after China, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday.

India’s crude steel production in 2018 was at 109.3 million tonnes, up by 7.7 percent from 101.5 million tonnes in 2017.

This moved up to 111.2 million tonnes in 2019, Pradhan told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply quoting data from the World Steel Association.

On the other hand, Japan ranks third globally with 104.3 million tonnes of crude steel production in 2018 and 99.3 million tonnes in 2019.

In contrast, China remains number one with 920 million tonnes of production in 2018 and 996.3 million tonnes in 2019. The United States and South Korea rank fourth and fifth respectively.

Pradhan said the government does not set any annual targets for steel production as it is a deregulated sector.

“The decision on the quantity of steel production is taken by individual companies based on commercial considerations and market requirements,” he said.

India Inc’s foreign investment jumps 40 per cent to USD 2.10 bn in January

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: Investments by Indian firms in foreign countries in January 2020 rose by nearly 40 per cent to USD 2.10 billion on a yearly basis, according to data by the Reserve Bank.

Indian companies had invested USD 1.47 billion in their overseas ventures in the same month a year ago.

Compared monthly, January investments were higher than USD 1.99 billion in December 2019, showed the RBI data on ‘Outward Foreign Direct Investment  (OFDI)’.

Of the total capital invested by the India Inc   in January this year, USD 793.82 million was in the form of equity capital , USD 368.55 came in as debt capital, while the rest USD 890.75 million was through the issuance of guarantee.

Among the major investors were Bharti Airtel Ltd  which pumped in USD 247.5 million in its wholly owned subsidiary (WoS) in Mauritius; Serum Institute  of India USD 226.07 million in a WoS in the Netherlands and Allcargo Logistics USD 88.08 million in a wholly owned unit in Belgium.

T-Hub Opens Doors to Australian Market for Indian Startups by Signing MoU with inQ Innovation

“Source:- T-Hub News”
India: T-Hub, which leads India’s pioneering innovation ecosystem that powers next-generation products and new business models, today announced its partnership with inQ Innovation, a Global Open Innovation ecosystem headquartered in Sydney, Australia with operations in India. Both these organisations have joined hands to provide Indian growth-stage tech startups with business opportunities, market understanding and access to customers in Australia. In addition, this collaborative partnership would also enable soft landing /launchpad capabilities for Australian Scale-ups to explore and launch into the Indian market.

T-Hub’s CEO Ravi Narayan signed the MoU with inQ Innovation Global’s CEO and Director Irfan Malik at Consulate General of India, Melbourne, to facilitate and support Indian startups with the right resources, market opportunities and connections to foray into the Australian market aligned across industry sectors, while offering Australian startups a platform that enables these organization’s entry into the Indian market.

T-Hub will now roll out a call for applications for startups across India looking to scale into the Australian market based on the specific industry segment and problem statements. The selected startups will bag scale-up opportunities and get access to world-class infrastructure office space at inQ innovation at the Sydney Startup Hub in Sydney or at the Space Station Office in Melbourne and other cities across Australia. They can explore business growth and collaboration opportunities with prospective customers and other ecosystems in the Australian markets.

Ravi Narayan, CEO, T-Hub said, “The Australian startup ecosystem is one of the most exciting and vibrant in the Asia Pacific. Our idea behind partnering with inQ is to create an umbrella of opportunities for Indian growth-stage innovative startups to scale up in the international markets. Additionally, international startups will have a platform for seamless entry to the Indian markets, which will bring more technological advancements to our country. T-Hub’s collaboration with inQ is in the right direction to provide Australian market-access to the most disruptive and deserving startups.”

The startups will also get to validate their products and solutions and strengthen their business models and expansion strategy. They can explore the Australian market landscape through mentors, industry experts, sector peak bodies, subject matter experts and investors. Also, T-Hub will offer reciprocal services to the Australian startups interested in exploring business scaling and investment opportunities in India. The partnership also aims to enhance the global competitiveness amongst Indian and Australian startups to drive innovations within the Asia-Pacific region and cater to broader global markets.

Irfan Malik, CEO, inQ Innovation said ”I believe this partnership with T-Hub will add significant value to the startup ecosystem here in Australia and will provide local startups with a great launch-pad and collaborative relationship with potential partners in India and to validate and scale their solutions globally. In addition, this partnership will help accelerate, generate further momentum and deliver substantial outcomes under the “Australia India Innovation Bridge” program. An ongoing program of activations and cohort exchanges focused on sector-specific opportunities across both these countries have been planned and will be executed with various Ecosystem partners.

The Australian market is poised to be one of the leaders of the startup and innovation ecosystems across the Asia Pacific. Last year, Australia leapt forward six places to become the fifth most startup- friendly country in the world.

About T-Hub: T-Hub enables and empowers an ecosystem hungry for innovation. Based in Hyderabad, India, it leads India’s pioneering innovation ecosystem that powers next-generation products and new business models. It uses the Triple Helix model of innovation based on interaction and collaboration between industry, academia and the government. Incorporated in 2015, it has provided 1100+ national and international startups with access to better technology, talent, mentors, customers, corporates, investors and government agencies. T-Hub also provides thought leadership for Telangana and other state and central government organisations to build innovation ecosystems. It has elevated innovation for leading national and global corporates, transforming enterprise business models for the better.

About InQ: inQ Innovation Global with Headquarters in Sydney, Australia and with branch offices currently in India, offers an open global innovation eco-system offering incubators for start-ups, co-working spaces for early-stage innovative companies and provides a unique global innovation bridge and launchpad activities for its start-up eco-system. inQ Innovation focuses on harnessing international collaboration across broad and vibrant sectors and has set up and incubated several start-ups across Sydney, Dubai and India. In its continued efforts to build stronger Innovation Bridge programs between Australia and India and supporting the Startup/Innovation Eco-System, inQ Innovation also seeks to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals in the global startup ecosystem.

Shunwei Capital, Xiaomi bet big on Indian startups

“Source:- Economic Times”
Two well-entrenched Chinese investors — Xiaomi and Shunwei Capital, which also share deep linkages — have struck their first deals in the new calendar year in the Indian startup ecosystem, as they look to add to their portfolios in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Shunwei Capital, which manages assets of about $3 billion and founded by Xiaomi founders Lei Jun and Koh Tuck Lye, has co-led a $5.5 million (about Rs 40 crore) investment round in regional language podcast app Kuku FM.

This is latest deal struck by the Chinese investment firm, which has emerged as one of the most active dealmakers in India’s startup ecosystem.

The deal will also see the entry of Vertex Ventures, the venture capital arm of Temasek, the investment company backed by the government of Singapore, into Kuku FM’s cap table.

The Mumbai-based company will use the proceeds from the Series A investment to expand its content repository, and to increase the number of languages available on its platform.

The deal will be the 18th funding round that Shunwei Capital has participated in over the course of the last 12 months, according to data collated by industry tracker Tracxn.

In the last two years, the Beijing-based firm — which is investing out of its $1.2 billion sixth fund — has backed the likes of online food delivery platform Zomato, regional language social media company ShareChat, mobile bike taxi service Rapido and social commerce startup Meesho.

“For most of Shunwei’s peers, India and Southeast Asia are natural expansion destinations after the rise and stabilisation of the Chinese ecosystem. While it is not immediately clear that a one-to-one mapping of market models and product strategies will work in the entire region, funds like Shunwei have seen scale like few VCs manage to outside of the US,” said Pranav Pai, managing partner of 3one4 Capital.

3one4 Capital and Shunwei Capital have both invested in consumer lending platform LoanTap and Kuku FM.

Separately, Xiaomi, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in India, has invested Rs 42 crore in WorkIndia, an online and mobile-based platform that connects companies with blue collar employees, based on their location.

The deal, which is believed to have closed last month according to sources, is the latest by the company which has a market capitalisation of about $30 billion. Xiaomi has also backed the likes of Sharechat, Zest Money and TouchTalent over the last 24 months.

Both, Xiaomi and WorkIndia founder Kunal Patil did not respond to emails seeking comment.

This also comes at a time when Chinese investors scouting for deals in India have begun accelerating their deal making activity, leading to a near-doubling of investments in Indian startups to $3.9 billion in 2019, up from $2 billion in the previous year.

Additionally, they are also looking for overseas geographies to park capital in, even as venture investments in the world’s second-largest economy slows.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, venture investments in tech startups in China dropped 51.5% over the previous year, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government-backed research institute.

India’s public cloud deployment to be $8 billion market by 2023: Report

“Source:- Livemint”
India’s public cloud deployments is poised to become an $8 billion industry in 2023, says a combined report by Google Cloud and Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The business efficiencies and growth resulting from public cloud deployments also have the potential to create up to 240,000 jobs and impact another 743,000 jobs through second order effects from 2019 to 2023.

Of the 240,000 direct jobs, around 157,000 will be in digital and technology-related roles such as data scientists, product managers, engineering, design, user experience and infrastructure management jobs with cloud service providers, IT service providers and across industry verticals. Another 83,000 direct roles will be related to core business functions (marketing, finance, operations etc.) across industry verticals, the study said.

India’s digital-native businesses and media and entertainment companies are the biggest drivers of public cloud adoption. Retail and consumer goods players are also increasingly exploring opportunities to digitize and develop capabilities in artificial intelligence and machine learning enabled by the public cloud.

“Traditional retailers are expanding into e-commerce to capture digital and omnichannel revenue growth, and they’re turning to the public cloud to help them scale up quickly and handle peak loads during special sales like Diwali,” said Rick Harshman, managing director of Google Cloud in Asia Pacific.

 

Ford unveils innovation centre in Chennai

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Ford on Thursday inaugurated its technology and innovation centre here. The 15,000 sq.ft centre, located at Ford’s Global Technology and Business Centre (GTBC) campus in SIPCOT SEZ, was inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami in the presence of Michael Brielmaier, President and MD, Ford India.

The centre can house around 10,000 employees. The setting up of the centre highlights the importance of Tamil Nadu to Ford and reaffirms the company’s commitment to India by providing job opportunities, says a company press release.

The centre has multiple facilities for the automotive sector such as simulation labs for virtual models and testing; extended/virtual reality labs to help advanced manufacturing simulations; artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities; and a component and vehicle lab for design, development and testing, says the press release.

One of the features of the innovation facility is the Mobility Experience Lab. The lab includes simulations for Ford’s Office Ride, an app-based shared mobility solution for corporate employees, which has achieved over five million rides since its launch in mid-2018.

Ford’s mobility team, which leads the company’s work in connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles, also has a presence at Chennai’s GTBC.

Ola launches in London with over 25,000 drivers signed up

“Source:- IBEF”
Ola, an Indian ride-hailing company, has launched its services in the UK capital, with over 25,000 drivers registered on its platform.

The Bengaluru-headquartered company said it is fully operational in London across three categories of Comfort, Comfort XL and Exec ride classes and said its focus would be on drivers, safety and a collaborative approach with local authorities and regulators.

“We are thrilled to now be live in London. This is a major milestone for our business and represents the next step in our ambitions to connect people in cities throughout the country,” said Mr Simon Smith, Head of Ola International.

He said, “We are proud of the progress Ola has made in the UK and we look forward to building on our success by offering a differentiated service to Londoners, focused on quality, safety and reliability”.

The company which initially entered the UK market in 2018, starting with Wales and then south-west England, said that the London drivers joining the platform will benefit from six weeks of zero commission and market-leading commission rates thereafter, so they can keep more of their earnings.

The company added, “Ola’s commission commitment ensures drivers always receive the best commission rate in each market. Ola will continue its collaborative approach with Transport for London and local authorities, as well as its clear focus on safety, drawing on industry-leading and global best practices.”

The company has also entered into three partnerships which are focused at driver standards across the market as it teamed up with DriveTech (Part of the AA), Mercer and Pearson in ground-breaking initiatives to offer Ola riders in London the highest standard of driving skills, and driver customer service and communication.

The partnership with DriveTech will involve their driving risk assessment to improve the level of driving skills and knowledge of all drivers on Ola in London.

A risk assessment is completed by every driver and they are also given complimentary E-Learning modules to further enhance their professional development. DriveTech Permit to Drive is given to each driver upon completing these modules, certifying their skills.

Moreover, every Ola driver in London has passed the Versant spoken English test, from education experts Pearson plc, confirming a high level of communication in English.

They have also successfully finished the Ola’s Customer Service Test, created with global selection experts Mercer, certifying they have the skills and mindset to deliver a great experience to their passengers.

The company added, “Ola is raising the standards of safety in the UK ride-hailing industry and bringing global best practice to the market. In a number of pioneering moves for the UK, Ola is launching its flagship global safety feature, ‘Guardian’, which uses AI and machine learning to automatically detect irregular vehicle activity, a ‘Start Code’ feature to ensure customers and drivers are correctly matched, 24/7 voice support for riders and drivers, and a cap of six penalty points for drivers on its platform”.

Ola is also offering its first few passengers a benefit from up to 25 pounds worth of ride vouchers for signing up in the first week after launch.

Budget will prepare India to become a $5 trillion economy, says Piyush Goyal

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : The Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal on Saturday said that the Union Budget for the year 2020-21 is a balanced one that prepares India to become a 5 trillion dollar economy.

“It is a balanced Budget which prepares India for the decades ahead of us and prepares the country to become a 5 trillion dollar economy. It also covers a vast canvas both on the social side, on economic development and ensures that we continue to remain an economic powerhouse,” the Minister told ANI.

The Minister also responded on the proposal to sell a part of government holding in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) through an initial public offering (IPO).

“If a small part of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) goes to the public, it will increase transparency and accountability, after all, it is the public’s property. I do not think there is any harm if a small part of it is with the people,” the Minister said.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday announced that the government proposes to sell a part of its holding in LIC through an initial public offering.

The announcement was made by the Minister in her Budget speech in Parliament.

Budget 2020: New scheme to make India a hub for electronic manufacturing

“Source:- Livemint”
New Delhi: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech on Saturday proposed launching a new scheme to make India a hub for electronic manufacturing. The announcement was in line with the “Assemble In India” proposal of the 2019-20 Economic Survey, presented on Friday.

“India needs to manufacture networked products which will make India part of the global chain. Electronics industry’s potential in manufacture and job creation is immense. We need to encourage manufacturing of mobile phones, electronic equipment and semiconductor. Details will be announced,” Sitharaman said in her Budget speech.

For exporters, Sitharaman announced schemes such as Export Credit Insurance Scheme, NIRVIK, which will increase insurance cover for small exporters, and RODTEP (Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product) which will digitally refund local taxes to exporters and will replace the current Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).

The minister also launched a National Technical Textiles Mission, with a proposed outlay of 1480 crore for 2020-21 to increase technical textile exports.

For quality control of imports into India, Sitharaman said quality standard orders will be issued by all ministries. A new Investment Clearance Cell will be set up for pre-investment advisory, information sharing about land clearance and facilitating clearance at Centre and level.

Budget 2020: Tourism industry cheers FM’s ₹2,500 crore budget boost

“Source:- Livemint”
New Delhi:
India’s tourism industry has lauded the proposed Budget allocation of 2,500 crore for the financial year 2020-21. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said improvement of the tourism industry is directly related to growth and job creation.

“This is an imperative towards education and skill development of our sector (tourism) that contributes a significant 10% to India’s GDP. Additionally, (tourism) plays a critical force-multiplier role in job creation–accounting for 26.7 million jobs in 2018 and is expected to provide employment to nearly 53 million people, directly and indirectly by 2029,” said Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing director, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

The minister, while presenting the Budget for FY21, highlighted that India has moved up from rank 65 in 2014 to 34 in 2019 on Travel & Tourism Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum.

She said foreign exchange earnings grew 7.4% to 1.88 lakh crore for January-November 2019 from 1.75 lakh crores a year ago.

“I expect the state governments to develop a roadmap for certain identified destinations and formulate financial plans during 2021, against which specified grants will be made available to the states in 2020-21,” the minister added.

Vishal Suri, managing director, SOTC Travel also said the new personal income tax regime would put higher disposable incomes in the hands of the individuals, by allowing an option of a lower rate regime if all exemptions (including investment-linked exemptions) are foregone. “This step would induce consumer spends and inevitably help consumption across sectors, especially tourism,” he added.

Sitharaman also said more Tejas Express trains will be started to connect various iconic tourist destinations across the country. Introduced in May 2017, the Tejas-class trains are the country’s first semi-high speed fully air-conditioned trains with modern onboard facilities.

Currently, Tejas trains are operational on four routes in the country–Mumbai-Goa, Chennai Egmore-Madurai, New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad.

Ramesh Ramanathan, chairman and managing director, Sterling Holidays said the Budget will have a multiplier effect across the board. “In addition to the tourism Budget, the allotment of 1.7 lakh crore for transportation and proposal for more transport facilities including 2,000 km strategic highways along with Tejas Express trains, and 100 more airports to be developed by 2024 to support the UDAN (regional airport development ) scheme will make access to more locations easier. The golden quadrilateral (national highway network connecting four metros) will also work towards making travel in India feasible, while improving connectivity,” Ramanathan said.

Meanwhile, the culture ministry has received an outlay of 3,150 crore for FY21. Five archaeological sites have been identified to be developed as iconic sites with onsite museums. These include Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Shivsagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu.

The minister also announced setting up an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under the culture ministry. The institute will offer disciplines such as museology and archaeology.

Apart from re-curation of the country’s oldest Indian Museum in Kolkata, four more museums will undergo renovation, the minister said. The government has also proposed setting up a tribal museum in Jharkhand and a maritime museum at Lothal, the Harrapan age maritime site near Ahmedabad by the ministry of shipping.

 

Opinion | Rural push and entrepreneur-led job creation will boost consumption

“Source:- Livemint”
The budget this year has clearly focused on improving the ease and quality of life for all, with the underlying objective of achieving a consumption-led growth. The 16-point action plan and the  2.83 trillion outlay focused on agriculture and allied activities would bolster rural infrastructure, increase farmers’ produce realisation and drive rural consumption. In this growth agenda, there is no doubt that micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), too, will have a significant role to play in generating job opportunities. The government has acknowledged the role of entrepreneurs, startups, and MSMEs as the aspirational backbone and vital wheels of the Indian economy.

Simple compliance procedures and ease of working capital: Factoring in their importance, budget 2020-21 has proposed reforms to boost entrepreneurial confidence. The government has continued to simplify procedures, reduce the tax burden to ease working capital requirements for MSMEs and establish a single-window investment clearance cell for entrepreneurs. Moreover, the turnover threshold required for the audit of MSMEs has been raised to 5 crore from 1 crore to reduce the compliance burden.

Opportunity in e-logistics space: A National Logistics Policy is in the works, which would create a single-window e-logistics market and focus on generating employment, enhancing skills and making MSMEs competitive.

Additionally, the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), an online platform for public procurement, will now move towards creating a unified procurement system, thereby creating an opportunity for MSMEs to bid for contracts across the country.

Financing schemes: Amendments have been proposed to enable non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to extend invoice financing to MSMEs. A portal will be set up to offer funding assistance to entrepreneurs. Furthermore, MSMEs will be provided subordinate debt from banks, treated as a quasi-equity, and fully guaranteed.

Taxation benefits and funding: The startup community will benefit from increasing the turnover limit for tax exemptions from 25 crore to 100 crore, and eligibility period from seven years to 10 years.

The deferment of tax on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) for five years, or until startup employees leave the company, would help the startup ecosystem retain and add talent, generating significant employment.

Also, early-life funding, including a seed fund, is proposed to encourage startups and build this culture in India. This could help reduce the current high rate of startup closures on a per-year basis.

Skill and knowledge: The government has also proposed cluster-based development in knowledge translation and emerging technology areas, along with an IP (intellectual property) protection digital platform. A new education policy is to be proposed, which will focus on job and life skills in education, apart from literacy.

Leveraging exports: MSMEs also contribute significantly to India’s export. The budget also aims to boost export through the newly-launched Niryat Rin Vikas Yojana, or NIRVIK scheme, for small exporters, which provides for higher insurance coverage, reduction in premium, and simplified procedure for claims settlements.

Another scheme to digitally refund to exporters, duties and taxes levied at the central, state and local levels, has also been proposed.

The budget announcements facilitate a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs, MSMEs and startups through a conducive policy climate, improved ease of doing business, better infrastructure and proliferation of digital technologies. The continued momentum on startups and MSMEs will help augment entrepreneurship and will thus also directly impact job creation.

The announcements and initiatives for increasing rural income, skill enhancement across sectors, MSMEs/startups growth, job creation and infrastructure development, should increase disposable income, thereby boosting consumption, as well as the economy.

Indian pharma industry likely to grow at 10-13 percent in FY21: Icra

“Source:- Livemint”
New Delhi: The growth trajectory for the Indian pharmaceutical industry is likely to remain at 10-13 per cent in 2020-21 despite challenges, according to rating agency Icra.

The expected growth in the next financial year is on the back of healthy demand from the domestic market given increasing spend on healthcare along with improving access, Icra said in a statement.

This along with abatement in pricing pressure for the US market, new launches and market share gains for existing products and consolidation benefits will drive growth in 2020-21, it added.

“The Indian pharmaceutical industry’s growth remained stable at 12.2 per cent during H1FY2020 led by rebound in domestic growth in Q2 FY2020 to 14.2 per cent supported by seasonal factors and stable growth in chronic therapies,” Icra Vice President & Co-Head Gaurav Jain said.

During Q2FY2020, India witnessed outbreak of many diseases in many parts, aiding the growth of the anti-infective segment, he added.

Though margins remain healthy, pricing pressures for the US base generics business (albeit moderating), lack of limited competition products and manufacturing quality issues will continue to put margin pressure, Icra said.

Higher share of domestic business and operational efficiencies will provide overall cushion to margins, it added.

The key sensitivities to growth and profitability estimated of the Indian pharma industry will be regulatory interventions such as price controls and compulsory genericisation for domestic market and continued regulatory overhang with respect to manufacturing quality deficiencies during USFDA audits, the statement said.

“The US market growth at 13.6 per cent in H1FY2020 was impacted by regulatory overhang in the form of warning letters, one-offs such as delayed shipments, voluntary recall, though few limited competition products, lower pricing pressure, volume expansion for existing and new product launches supported growth,” Jain said.

Unlike in the past, when several Indian pharma companies ramped up their R&D spend targeting pipeline of specialty drugs, niche molecules and complex therapies, this time around companies are optimising their R&D spend, the statement said.

“The credit metrics of leading pharma companies are expected to remain stable in view of future growth prospects in regulated markets and relatively strong balance sheets,” Jain said.

The capital structure and coverage indicators are expected to remain strong despite pressure on profitability and marginal rise in debt levels given inorganic investments, he added.

“The key sensitivity to ICRA’s view remains productivity of R&D expenditure, increasing competition in the US generics space and operational risk related to increased level of due diligence by regulatory agencies,” Jain said.

Digital ad industry to cross Rs 50,000-crore-mark by 2025: Dentsu Aegis report

“Source:- IBEF”
By 2025, the digital advertising industry in India is estimated  to cross the Rs 50,000 crore (US$ 7.15 billion) mark supported by faster internet adoption, proliferation of smartphones on the back of cheap data plans and technology advancement, according to a report by Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN), a global ad and marketing services group.

The growth in the digital advertising industry in 2019 was at a faster clip of 26 per cent to reach the Rs 13,683 crore (US$ 1.96 billion) mark. It said, “Digital ad industry is expected to grow at 27 per cent to reach Rs 17,377 crore (US$ 2.49 billion) by the end of 2020,” adding that by the end of 2025 the growth will reach to Rs 58,550 crore (US$ 8.38 billion), clocking a CAGR of 27.42 per cent.

“Advancements in marketing technologies and subsequent fusion with marketing creativity, along with the advent of 5G technology and increased adoption of E-commerce advertising will lead to the evolution of content for the next 500 million internet users, thereby catapulting the digital media industry towards the Rs 50,000 crore (US$ 7.15 billion) milestone by 2025,” stated the DAN Digital Report 2020.

Mr Ashish Bhasin, CEO, APAC and Chairman, India, Dentsu Aegis Network, said, “The media and advertising industry is shifting at a rapid speed and digital is certainly taking charge. Consumers are leaving behind huge digital footprints and there is a lot more emphasis on managing data and developing martech capabilities, now. 2020 is expected to witness a major change in advertising in India, with digital becoming a bigger medium.”

“In fact, by 2021, it should surpass that of print. Yet, despite this progressive swing, the industry has failed to come together to agree upon a common measurement metric for digital. As leaders in digital, Dentsu Aegis Network today stands at the forefront of this evolution and understands the need to have more information on digital,” he added.

Though, the overall ad industry market size increased by 9.4 per cent to Rs 68,457 crore (US$ 9.79 billion) by the end of last year. The largest share of media spends was by television segment (39 per cent), followed by print media (29 per cent) and digital media. The DAN Digital report added that the Indian advertising industry is expected to grow by 10.9 per cent to Rs 75,952 crore (US$ 10.87 billion) by end of 2020 and will achieve a market size of Rs 1,33,921 crore (US$ 19.16 billion) by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.83 per cent.

Swedish security solutions firm Gunnebo opens India Experience Centre in Bengaluru

“Source:- IBEF”
Gunnebo, a 240-year-old Swedish security solutions provider, opened its first ‘India Experience Centre’ in Bengaluru. The company also introduced a range of physical security products.

The company will showcase its biometric access control Chubbsafes and other Hallmark range of safes under the Steelage brand designed specifically for the jewellery segment in India, particularly in the South through this experience centre, said the company.

Mr Sabyasachi Sengupta, Managing Director, Gunnebo India, said, “The experience centre in India, here in Bengaluru, will showcase physical security solutions that include ‘Safe Storage’, ‘Entrance Control’ and ‘Fire-Safe Products’. The company always buys back the safes to prevent misuse and asks customers to upgrade. These safes are also technologically advanced, and we have added innovations over the years. Some of Gunnebo’s products are 185 years old. Customisation is the company’s USP.”

The company’s portfolio consists of Safe Store Auto, which is a robotic locker solution that is claimed to offer 24/7, high security seamless access to its users. The Chubbsafes, a biometric access control safe, provides smart features like dual authentication, duress alarm and smart messaging with a durable battery backup support, making this an ideal solution for banks, NBFCs and corporates, said Gunnebo.

The company also manufactures high quality ATM safes for OEMs. The company has been in Indian market for more than eight decades and offers a part of its global range consisting of Chubbsafes, Steelage and Minimax, a well-known fire safety equipment brand in India.

The company manufactures safes, safe deposit lockers, vault and strong room doors, fire resistant records, filing cabinets and fire safety products at its Halol plant. These products are sold in the domestic market as well as exported.

The experience centre was inaugurated by Mr Raghavendra Auradkar, Director General of Police, Karnataka Police Housing Corporation.

“Considering the changing security scenario along with the growing number of Indian and multinational banks, retail chains and corporates in the city, it is essential for businesses to review and upgrade their physical security infrastructure on an ongoing basis”, said Mr Auradkar.

Warehousing sector to add 40 mn sq ft space across top 8 cities this year: Report

“Source:- Business Insider”
Mumbai, As warehousing is fast becoming an integral part of integrated logistics network due to technological advancement and the reform-led policy measures, the sector is expected to add around 40 million sq ft space across the top eight cities this year, a recent survey said.

According to the study by global property consultant Savills, warehousing space absorption across eight cities like Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Kolkata, is expected rise to 35 million sq ft in 2020.

In 2019, the total supply of warehousing space was 37.94 million sq ft while the absorption stood at 33 million sq ft.

“Warehousing industry in India has come a long way and it’s going to continue to mature as a favourable real estate asset class. The sector has witnessed a massive participation from institutional investors and developers amid raising demand from across the sector like ecommerce, retail, FMCG, 3PL (third-party logistics) , cold storage, pharma and manufacturing,” Savills India Managing Director, Industrial Warehousing and Logistics Srinivas N said.

As per the study, Mumbai and Delhi are expected to see a significant addition of around 8 million sq ft each in 2020, followed by Bengaluru and Kolkata.

Last year, Mumbai witnessed an addition of 5.7 million sq ft while Delhi added 8.1 million sq ft.

“Delhi NCR, Bengaluru and Mumbai followed by Kolkata will be the front runners in absorbing majority of occupiers since these are sourcing and consumption hubs,” the report said.

As per the study, Pune and Chennai will lead in servicing manufacturing clients’ needs, followed by Delhi-NCR and Ahmedabad.

“Government initiatives like make In India, GST, FDI policy, corporate tax reduction, improved infrastructure of road, port, rail and airports has and will continue to impress the growth,” Srinivas said.

He further said that compliance, quality and improved specifications offerings will be the need of the hour with growing requirements at tier-II locations from organised developers.

Srinivas added that tier-II locations like Guwahati, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Jaipur, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Ludhiana, Vapi, Nagpur and Vizag / Vijayawada cumulatively will see a total addition in excess of 6 million sq ft of additional absorption.

Last year, manufacturing sector absorbed around 6 million sq ft pan-India, while e-commerce and 3PL leased around 20 million sq ft. SMEs and electronic components manufacturers and auto sector leased significantly in few cities.

“It’s also important to note that there is in excess of 800 million sq ft of Grade ‘C’ and Grade ‘D’ stock across India which will start migrating to Grade ‘A’ and ‘B’ over the next 3 to 5 years,” Srinivas added. PSK ABM ABM

Big feat! Honda 2Wheelers India cumulative exports cross 25 lakh units landmark

“Source:- Zee Biz”
It is a big feat for Honda 2Wheelers India! The 2 wheeler manufacturer on Tuesday celebrated its latest milestone – Honda 2Wheelers India’s cumulative exports have now breached the 25 lakh units’ mark in its 19th year of operations!

-Honda 2Wheelers India started exports from India in 2001 with its debut model Activa

-In 2015, Honda’s cumulative exports crossed the historic 10 lac mark in its 15th year of operations

– Over the years, backed by fast product portfolio expansion, Honda 2Wheelers India got additional exports allocation by Honda Motor Co. (Japan). As a result, Honda added the next 15 lac units to its cumulative exports in only 5 years, which is more than double the earlier speed.

Commenting on the sales milestone, Yadvinder Singh Guleria, Senior Vice President – Sales and Marketing, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd. said, “Since beginning, Honda has delighted over 25 lac two-wheeler customers through our exports. We are proud to be the No. 1 scooter exporter from India. With an eye on 2020, Honda 2Wheelers India aims to further consolidate its No. 1 position in Honda’s global motorcycle business while unlocking the next chapter of exports growth in the BS-VI era.”

“Parallely, Honda continues to drive scooterization in India and the World as No. 1 scooter exporter of India. Dio – the most preferred moto-scooter by the youth in Sri Lanka, Mexico, Colombia, Nepal etc. continues to reign as No. 1 exported scooter from India. (both data source – SIAM december’19 report). Gaining immense popularity among youth, the FUNtastic NAVi too is now No. 1 selling two-wheeler model of Guatemala,” the two wheelers manufacturer said in a statement.

India’s food tech sector to touch $8 billion by 2022

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : Consumer appetite for food ordering is set to rise with India’s online food ordering market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25-30% to touch $7.5- $8 billion by 2022, up from $4 billion, according to a report by Google and Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Increased reach of internet in India’s smallest cities will help consumers discover new platforms, even as online food companies expand their reach to more cities and rope in more restaurants, prompting users of apps to spend more time and money on them.

“Overall online spending in India is rising rapidly and expected to grow at 25% over the next five years to reach over $130 billion,” said Rachit Mathur, managing director and partner, India lead, consumer and retail practice, BCG. The reach of food tech firms has grown six times over the last couple of years on the back of rapid digitization and steadily growing consumption and will continue to increase, he said.

Between 2017 to 2019, the reach of food tech aggregators grew six times.

The time spent exploring and ordering food online has also nearly doubled from 32 minutes in 2017 to 72 minutes per month in 2019.

The report also expects ordering frequency to grow by 18-20%, though average order values may soften by 5-10% as consumers try small portions but order more. “Higher order frequency though offset by lower average order value,” the report said.

Govt targeting US$ 80-billion exports in next five years: Official

“Source:- IBEF”
In the next five years, the Government of India is targeting at US$ 80 billion of jewellery exports from the present level of US$ 40 billion, as per the statement by a senior official.

The jeweller industry is expected to generate additional employment of 2 million, said Ms Rupa Dutta, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Commerce.
At present, sector provides employment to around five million people.

She added, “Jewellery exports is targeted to touch US$ 80 billion in the next five years. In the 2018-19 fiscal, the country exported US$ 40 billion worth of jewellery”.

Ms Dutta said that this fiscal year, jewellery exports growth witnessed a decline due to the global slowdown.

“We hope to maintain the level of exports at US$ 40 billion in 2019-20, if not more,” she said, speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of eastern India’s first Common Facility Centre (CFC) here.

According to Ms Dutta, CFCs for jewellery trade was envisaged in the 12th Five Year Plan, and this will be the sixth one in the country after Gujarat and Coimbatore.

This centre will provide opportunity for artisans to access modern machines for designing and testing them, the official said.

Ms Dutta said that the entire funding of the CFC, located at the Bowbazar cluster in the city, will be done by the commerce ministry along with a local trade body that will help in operations of the centre.

This CFC is expected to be operational by February.

Chairman of Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), Mr Pramod Agrawal, said it has sanctioned an amount of Rs 5 crore (US$ 0.72 million) for promotion of Indian jewellery in overseas markets.

Godrej Appliances forays into air-cooler segment

“Source:- IBEF”
Godrej Appliances plans to enter into the air-cooler segment, in line with its strategy to expand its cooling product portfolio and expand the brands’ penetration in smaller towns and rural region. The company is targeting a market share of 15 per cent in this category in the next five years.

Mr Kamal Nandi, Executive Vice-President and Business Head, Godrej Appliances, said, “After prices of air-conditioners have increased due to the tightening of energy efficiency norms, a section of first-time buyers is seeking more affordable solutions and downtrading to air-coolers. We believe the air-cooler category will continue to see strong demand in the coming years.”

The prices of entry-level AC have increased by Rs 5,000-6,000 (US$ 71.54- 85.84) because of the tightening of energy efficiency norms, leading to an expensive proposition for first-time buyers.

“It is also a logical extension of our expertise in the cooling solutions space and we think we can add a lot of value to the segment,” he added. The factors supporting the growth of the segment, beside affordability are urbanisation, rising temperatures and pollution levels, said Mr Nandi.

The air-cooler segment is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20 per cent by 2022 as compared to a growth of 17 per cent in the past.

Mr Sanjeev Jain, National Sales Head, Godrej Appliances, said, “In the first year, we expect to sell about one lakh units of air- coolers and garner a market share of about 4 per cent. In the next five years, we aim to gain a market share of 15 per cent in the segment.”

The company also plans to sell its air- cooler range in small appliance stores channel, asides leveraging on its existing retail distribution network, modern trade stores and e-commerce.

The company for now, will rely on third-party manufacturer, for manufacturing this range of air-cooler, in line with the existing industry practices. “As the air-cooler business scales up, we will look at manufacturing these products on our own in the next three years,” Mr Nandi added.

The company is offering a differentiated product proposition to consumers by providing inverter technology in air- coolers and deliver cooling more efficiently with higher power savings.

Mr Nandi added, “We are witnessing early signs of demand for air-conditioners in the southern region. We anticipate the AC sector to witness a growth in excess of 20 per cent this summer season.”

PE, VC investments in India grew 28 per cent to US$ 48 billion in 2019, says EY data

“Source:-IBEF”
In 2019, private equity and venture capital investments in India reached an all-time high in terms of both value and volume. In terms of value, investments increased at 28 per cent to US$ 48 billion, compared to US$ 37.4 billion recorded in 2018.

The growth witnessed was on the back of increased investments in the infrastructure sector which alone accounted for 30 per cent of the overall investments in 2019 by value compared to 12 per cent in 2018, as per the EY data.

The data also included deals that were announced but are still awaiting closure like ADIA, PSP and NIIF’s investment in GVK and others.
In 2019, in terms of volume, there were 1,037 deals recorded witnessing an increase by 35 per cent over from a year-ago period (769 deals in 2018), 60 per cent of which were in the start-up space. Start-ups recorded a 61 per cent rise in terms of number of deals in 2019 as compared to last year (378 deals in 2018).

Though, there was a decline of three per cent in pure play PE/VC investments but there was a significant increase in investments in the infrastructure and real estate asset classes which recorded an increase of 225 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively, on a y-o-y basis.

In 2019, PE/VC investments recorded the highest ever value in the infrastructure sector with US$ 14.5 billion as compared to US$ 4.5 billion in 2018 while real estate received US$ 6.1 billion against US$ 4.6 billion in 2018.

Buyouts overtook growth capital deals for the first time and were recorded as the primary PE/VC deal type accounting for 34 per cent of all PE/VC investments by value in 2019. It recorded an increase of 56 per cent in terms of value with US$ 16.2 billion in 2019 as compared to US$ 10.4 billion in 2018.

In the last two years, buyouts received US$ 26.7 billion in deal value, which is more than the value of buyouts in the previous 12 years combined.

Also, there were 58 deals of buyouts in 2019 which are the highest ever. This was driven by significant increase in the value (180 per cent increase y-o-y) and number (123 per cent increase y-o-y) of buyouts in the infrastructure and real estate sectors. Buyouts in the traditional PE/VC space, though, decreased in both value (26 per cent decline y-o-y) and volume (19 per cent decline y-o-y) in 2019.

In 2019, growth capital investments increased by 9 per cent at US$ 14.5 billion against US$ 14.2 billion in 2018. This too was primarily on account of increase in growth investments in infrastructure and real estate sectors which witnessed a growth by 136 per cent (US$ 7.3 billion in 2019 against US$ 3.1 billion in 2018) in terms of value and 97 per cent in terms of volume (59 deals in 2019 against 30 deals in 2018) respectively.

Though, pure play PE/VC growth capital investments witnessed a decline of 26 per cent in terms of value and 13 per cent in terms of volume.

In 2019, investments in Start-up were the highest ever in terms of value and volume with US$ 7.9 billion as compared to US$ 6.5 billion in 2018. This was 22 per cent growth. OYO received US$ 810 million from Softbank, which was the largest start-up investment in 2019.

There were 111 large deals (value greater than US$ 100 million) recorded in 2019, accumulating to US$ 35.2 billion and accounting for 73 per cent of total PE/VC investments made in year compared to 81 large deals aggregating US$ 27.9 billion in previous year. The value and volume of large deals have been progressively increasing over the past four to five years.

Japan’s NTT to invest estimated $1.5 billion in data centres in India

“Source:- Business Standard”
Japanese tech major NTT on Wednesday said a significant part of its USD 7 billion global commitment for data centres business would be spent in India over the next four years.

The company also feels that there will be margin compression issues for the data centres business in India as capacity supply goes up along with an increase in competition, NTT’s country chief executive for global data centres and cloud infrastructure, Sharad Sanghi, told PTI.

In the last few months, a string of corporates, including the Adani Group, Hiranandanis and Reliance Industries have announced investments in data centres, on the back of regulatory moves like data sovereignity which makes it incumbent upon financial institutions to house their data locally.

“India is the fastest growing region for NTT and a substantial amount of the USD 7 billion commitment will be invested here,” Sanghi said.

When asked if the money will be equally split between the four regions the company operates in, Sanghi said the overall investments are bound to be shared proportionately, hinting that over USD 1.5 billion or nearly Rs 11,000 crore will come into India.

The company, whose revenues have been growing at 30 per cent every year, is targeting to more than double its capacity in the next three years through the investments, Sanghi said.

Its overall capacity, which stands at 1.2 million sq ft at present spread across Mumbai, Noida, Chennai and Bengaluru, will go up by 1.5 million sq ft, he said.

The company is looking at going to newer locations as well and also adding to its land bank to house the facilities, he said.

Demand is coming from global hyperscalers like the cloud service providers, data localisation requirements and as a greater number of enterprises move to the cloud, Sanghi said.

The Adanis have committed Rs 70,000 crore for data centres in Andhra Pradesh, Hiranandanis have committed Rs 14,000 crore and RIL has announced a partnership with Microsoft for the same.

Sanghi said the high quantum of investments in the business will change the characteristic of the market, which has so far been dictated by suppliers, from 2021 onward once the capacities come on board.

While the revenues will keep growing because of the market opportunity, the supply increase can cause a short term blip in profitability by narrowing operating margins, he said, stressing that this will not last for long time.

NTT is confident of guarding its business and growing in the face of competition, he asserted, adding data centres is its core business and clients, who sign long-term contracts, partner with companies which are not into different businesses like power and realty.

There will be a consolidation in the industry due to the dynamics and the smaller entities may find it difficult to survive, Sanghi said, making it clear that NTT does not look at mergers and acquisition as a strategy but may move in opportunistically for the buys.

He also made it clear that aggressive pricing may not work for companies, pointing out to two incidents of companies who tried getting business using this strategy going bust.

Sangi pitched for an improvement in power supply in Noida, Chennai and Bengaluru, saying two hours of power down time per week is a worry.

NTT on Wednesday announced the launch of an integrated division to look over the global data centre opportunity.

FMCG likely to grow 9-10 per cent in 2020: Nielsen

“Source:- IBEF”
According to market researcher Nielsen report, India’s fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market is expected to grow 9-10 per cent in the January-December period, matching the expansion rate in 2019. Since the rural slowdown has bottomed out, demand is expected to stabilise.

The growth witnessed a slow down to 9.7 per cent growth last year from 13.5 per cent in 2018. The growth was slowest in at least three years to 6.6 per cent in the December quarter from 15.7 per cent a year ago.

“A mix of macroeconomic factors and channel and zone factors driven by manufacturers, coupled with consolidation of smaller players, have been instrumental in the slowdown,” said Mr Prasun Basu, South Asia zone president, Nielsen Global Connect.

In 2019, the growth was slow for more than a dozen categories within daily household, personal and food products from 2018 with many segments witnessing growth rates reducing to half. This indicates that the consumer demand was weak despite price cuts to increase growth. The growth rates of the soaps, shampoos, biscuits, tea, hair oil, skin cream and toothpaste, among other categories, fall to low single digits in 2019 as compared with double digits in the previous year, industry executives said.

“The year 2019 was a difficult one when value and volume were both compromised,” said Mr Mayank Shah, category head at Parle Products.

Consumers were cautious to spend as the economy slowed, limiting themselves to spending on essential purchases only, he said. The rural demand which accounts for about a third of the market and had been outperforming urban sales, witnessed a slow-down. It was majorly affected because of lower farm incomes and liquidity constraints, squeezing the wholesale channel.

Nielsen report also stated that the stable consumption was on the back of the final tranche of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) payments, improved ease of doing business ranking to 63 from 77, expectations of budget tax measures and a steady exchange rate.

“There has been a slowdown in consumer demand, more so in the second half of 2019. We expect a gradual recovery over the next three to six months,” said Mr Sameer Shah, head of finance at Godrej Consumer Products.

A shift towards branded products was seen from the unorganised market by the companies, which in many commoditised segments account for more than half the overall consumption. According to the Nielsen report, nearly 5,500 manufacturers, or about 14 per cent of all consumer firms, exited in 2019, against 4,200 or 11 per cent of the overall universe a year ago.

“Following the implementation of GST (Goods and Services Tax), a lot of unorganised players have exited the market across different FMCG categories,” said Mr B Sumant, ITC executive director of FMCG. “As a result, there has been a clear shift in consumption trend from unbranded to branded products.”

According to Marico, a consumer products firm in its quarterly update earlier this month, the consumption trends in December quarter contradicted the expectations of a revival in sentiment on the back of good monsoons and the announcement of various government measures. Unilever chief executive Mr Alan Jope said last month that it might take time to see the effects of these measures and its expected that company’s Indian business could start to pick up the pace in the second half of 2020.

According to Crisil, the government’s steps to restore the economy will have a knock-on effect on consumption. “Next fiscal, growth in rural FMCG revenue will recover to 11-12 per cent from lows of about 8-9 per cent in fiscal 2020, largely driven by better agriculture GDP growth. Besides, higher spending by the government on rural infrastructure could benefit rural incomes and thereby demand for FMCG products,” said Mr Anuj Sethi, senior director, Crisil Ratings.

Passenger vehicle exports rise 6 per cent in April-Dec; Hyundai, Ford lead the pack

“Source:- IBEF”
In first nine months of the current fiscal year, exports of passenger vehicle (PV) from India increased by 5.89 per cent where Hyundai Motor lead the segment with dispatches of around 1.45 lakh units, according to the latest data by SIAM. During April-December 2019, PV exports stood at 5,40,384 units as compared with 5,10,305 units in the same period of 2018-19.

Car shipments witnessed a growth of 4.44 per cent at 4,04,552 units, while utility vehicle exports increased by 11.14 per cent at 1,33,511 units during the April-December period, as per the data by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturer.

Although, there was decline in exports of vans by 17.4 per cent at 2,321 units during the period under review as compared with 2,810 units in the same period last fiscal.

The segment was led by Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL), followed by Ford India and Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) at the second and third positions, respectively.

During the period, HMIL, the South Korean automaker exported 1,44,982 units to overseas markets, up 15.17 per cent over the same period last fiscal. It exports vehicles to over 90 countries across Africa, Middle East, Latin America, Australia and Asia Pacific.

“With cumulative sales of 1,44,982 units and a market share of 26.8 per cent from April-December, Hyundai has once again maintained its leadership position in the exports market with its super performer brands,” Hyundai Motor India MD and CEO Mr S S Kim said.
He further added that the company intends to keep this positive momentum in 2020 also with more world-class products adding meaningful moments for its global customers.

Though, during the review period, Ford India’s export stood at 1,06,084 units, down 12.57 per cent from a year-ago period whereas, domestic car market leader MSI exported 75,948 units across global markets, down 1.7 per cent from same period last year.

Nissan Motor India witnessed a growth by 39.97 per cent from same period last fiscal with 60,739 units shipped out during April-December 2019. Similarly, General Motors India, which has earlier ended selling vehicles in the domestic market, exported 54,863 units during the period.
During April-December 2019, Volkswagen India exported 47,021 units, followed by Kia Motors India which exported 12,496 units. Renault India dispatched 12,096 units during the same period.

During the review period, home-grown auto major Mahindra & Mahindra exported 10,017 units, while Toyota Kirloskar Motor dispatched 8,422 units and Honda Cars India exported 3,316 units to global markets.

Other notable exporting companies during the period included FCA India and Tata Motors with 2,391 and 1,842 units, respectively.

IOC ties up with Cummins for bulk dispensing of diesel exhaust fuel ‘ClearBlue’

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
IndianOil has signed an agreement with Cummins Technologies for bulk dispensing of its diesel exhaust fluid, branded as IOC ClearBlue. The fuel is recommended for advanced engines with SCR (selective catalytic reduction) systems.

Subimal Mondal, Executive Director (Lubes), IndianOil, said: “IOC ClearBlue is recommended for use in all diesel vehicles that have Cummins engines or any other engines with Cummins SCR technology. It adheres to the highest quality standards by meeting IOC 22241 and AdBlue certification.”

Anjali Pandey, Vice-President (Engine Business Unit and Component Business), Cummins Technologies, said: “In the new emission era of BS-VI, all diesel vehicles would require IOC ClearBlue and the right quality would extensively help in controlling NOx (nitrogen oxides) emitted. Also, the easy availability of genuine high-grade IOC ClearBlue at the fuel stations will ensure availability and consistent quality across the country.”

India among top 10 FDI recipients, attracts 49 billion dollar inflows in 2019: UN report

“Source:- India Today”
India was among the top 10 recipients of Foreign Direct Investment in 2019, attracting USD 49 billion in inflows, a 16 per cent increase from the previous year, driving the FDI growth in South Asia, according to a UN report released on Monday.

The Global Investment Trend Monitor report compiled by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) states that the global foreign direct investment remained flat in 2019 at USD 1.39 trillion, a 1 per cent decline from a revised USD 1.41 trillion in 2018.

This is against the backdrop of weaker macroeconomic performance and policy uncertainty for investors, including trade tensions, it said.

Developing economies continue to absorb more than half of global FDI flows. South Asia recorded a 10 per cent increase in FDI to USD 60 billion and “this growth was driven by India, with a 16 per cent increase in inflows to an estimated USD 49 billion. The majority went into services industries, including information technology,” the report said.

India attracted an estimated 49 billion dollars of FDI in 2019, a 16 per cent increase from the 42 billion dollars recorded in 2018, it said.

The FDI flows to developed countries remained at a historically low level, decreasing by a further 6 per cent to an estimated USD 643 billion.

The FDI to the European Union (EU) fell by 15 per cent to USD 305 billion, while there was zero-growth of flows to United States, which received USD 251 billion FDI in 2019, as compared to USD 254 billion in 2018, the report said.

Despite this, the United States remained the largest recipient of FDI, followed by China with flows of USD 140 billion and Singapore with USD 110 billion.

China also saw zero-growth in FDI inflows. Its FDI inflows in 2018 were USD 139 billion and stood at USD 140 billion in 2019. The FDI in the UK was down 6 per cent as Brexit unfolded.

The report added that cross-border M&As decreased by 40 per cent in 2019 to USD 490 billion the lowest level since 2014.

Slowed down by sluggish Eurozone growth and Brexit, European M&A sales halved to USD 190 billion. Deals targeting United States companies remained significant accounting for 31 per cent of total M&As.

The fall in global cross-border M&As sales was deepest in the services sector (a 56 per cent decline to USD 207 billion), followed by manufacturing (a 19 per cent decline to USD 249 billion) and primary sector (14 per cent decline to USD 34 billion), the report said.

In particular, sales of assets related to financial and insurance activities and chemicals fell sharply. The decline in M&A values was driven also by a lower number of megadeals. In 2019, there were 30 megadeals above USD 5 billion compared to 39 in 2018, it said.

Looking ahead, UNCTAD expects the FDI flows to rise moderately in 2020, as current projections show the global economy to improve somewhat from its weakest performance since the global financial crisis in 2009.

Corporate profits are expected to remain high and signs of waning trade tensions emerge. However, the decrease of announced greenfield projects by 22 per cent an indicator of future trends, high geopolitical risks and concerns about a further shift towards protectionist policies temper expectations.

The report said that GDP growth, gross fixed capital formation and trade are projected to rise, both at the global level and, especially, in several large emerging markets.

Such an improvement in macroeconomic conditions could prompt MNEs to resume investments in productive assets, given also their easy access to cheap money, the fact that corporate profits are expected to remain solid in 2020, and hopes for waning trade tensions between the United States and China, it said.

However, significant risks persist, including high debt accumulation among emerging and developing economies, geopolitical risks and concerns about a further shift towards protectionist policies, it added.

Zydus & CMS enter pact for Desidustat in Greater China

“Source- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Pharma firm Zydus  on Monday said it has entered into a licensing pact with China Medical System Holdings  Ltd (CMS) for the development and commercialisation of Desidustat, an innovative candidate, in Greater China.

The agreement is for Desidustat, a novel oral HIF-PH inhibitor for the treatment of anemia  in patients dialysis  in Greater China, Zydus said in a statement.

“Under the license agreement, CMS will pay Zydus an initial upfront payment, regulatory milestones, sales milestones and royalties on net sales of the product,” it added.

Zydus however did not provide any financial details of the agreement and said: “The commercial terms of the license agreement are confidential.”

CMS will be responsible for development, registration and commercialisation of Desidustat in Greater China, it added.

The licensing agreement with CMS will facilitate the development and commercialisation of Desidustat in Greater China, and make this innovative candidate available to millions of CKD patients living with anemia,” Zydus Group Chairman Pankaj R Patel said.

CKD is a serious medical condition which is an unmet healthcare need involving gradual loss of functioning of kidneys eventually leading to kidney failure, Zydus said.

Shares of Cadila Healthcare, the listed entity of the group, closed at Rs 267.25 on BSE, down 0.69 per cent from the previous close.

Delivery hubs planned for Amazon Fresh

“Source:- Economic Times”
BENGALURU: Amazon is looking to build large  delivery hubs  in Bengaluru and Hyderabad  for its Amazon Fresh two-hour grocery and fresh produce retailing service, a person aware of the development said, as the company increases its bet on daily essentials ordered online.

Plans for two hubs have been approved at Amazon in the backdrop of chief executive Jeff Bezos India . The new hubs will consolidate small grocery delivery hubs it uses.

“The plan has been approved and designs shared. Work starts now,” the person told ET , on the condition of anonymity. “The smaller hubs were not working out and a decision was made to consolidate Amazon Fresh deliveries from a single location in order to scale the business.”

“We have 15 Amazon Fresh nodes across four cities in India. We do not comment on what we may or may not do in the future,” an Amazon spokesperson said in response to ET’s   emailed questionnaire.

Blackstone to invest Rs 380 crore in Allcargo’s industrial and logistics parks

“Source:- IBEF”
Blackstone, a private equity firm plans to invest around Rs 380 crore (US$ 54.37 million) in Allcargo Logistics in order to develop industrial and logistics parks across India.

According to Allcargo, the investment by Blackstone in the platform will be done through debt and equity.
Minority stakes will be held by Allcargo in various logistics assets and it will transfer its debt as it relates to these specific assets to their relevant subsidiaries, it said.

This transaction is expected to be done in a phase wise manner over the next 12 months, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions and achievement of certain milestones.

“The Indian warehousing sector is scaling an expansionary curve backed by a robust regulatory environment and government thrust in boosting manufacturing, e-commerce and organised retail. This sector has emerged as an attractive investment destination for global investors. Through this strategic tie-up, we reiterate our commitment and positioning to create a global benchmark in warehousing infrastructure and provide state-of-the-art warehousing solutions to our customers,” Mr Shashi Kiran Shetty, Chairman, Allcargo Logistics Ltd, said.

Allcargo portfolio include the projects completed and also ongoing ones in the advanced stage of developments for 6 million square feet of Grade A logistics parks across the National Capital Region (NCR) Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, JNPT in MMR (Mumbai), Hosur and Goa. The company’s warehousing portfolio of around 80 per cent is pre-leased of which about 1.5 million square feet is already income producing. The company also has projects in the planning stage for another 3 million square feet.

This partnership will aid Allcargo’s growing 3 PL (third party logistics) business and support MNCs and Indian companies access to its world-class warehousing assets.

Thomson gets Android license, to make TVs in India

NEW DELHI: Thomson  TV will become the first television player in the country to make Google’s Android powered televisions, entirely in India using in-house backward integration manufacturing. The company is among the six electronics brands such as Sony  and TCL to have acquired the license from Google  to manufacture and sell Andriod powered television sets.

Avneet Singh Marwah, CEO of Super Plastronics which has the brand licensee of Thomson said that the company started importing Andriod TVs in India from China last year and looking at the great response it received, Google has decided to give it the license to manufacture Andriod TVs end to end in India.

Noida-headquartered Super Plastronics, which has three manufacturing facilities in India and has spent close to Rs. 300 crore in the last two years in expanding its facilities is looking at further expansion this year.

Marwah said that the company already has a research and development center in Banaglore and is now looking at a bigger center. “We will make an expansion announcement soon for this year,” he said. Making the TVs end to end in India will allow for the applications and the operating system to be updated regularly, Marwah added.

The company has set a target of selling close to half million units in calendar year 2021 and is looking to launch the made in India Andriod TVs by February or March this year.

China’s Great Wall agrees to buy General Motors’ India plant

“Source:- Economic Times”
Great Wall Motors (GWM) and General Motors  (GM) today announced an agreement for the sale of GM India’s Talegaon manufacturing facility, subject to requisite government and regulatory approvals.

Under a binding term sheet signed yesterday, the GM India legal entity, which includes the Talegaon facility, will transfer to GWM. GWM Global Strategy Vice President Liu Xiangshang said the transaction would underpin the company’s plan to enter and invest in India.

“The Indian market has great potential, rapid economic growth and a good investment environment. Entering the Indian market is an important step for Great Wall Motors’ global strategy,” said Liu.

Great Wall Motors’ investment will create more jobs, including direct and indirect employment, further enhancing the skill level in the auto industry; promote the development of the local supply chain, R&D and related industries; and contribute more profits and taxes to the government of India and the government of Maharashtra, the company said. “Great Wall Motors will officially debut its Haval brand and GWM EV at the Delhi International Auto Show, and launch its Indian market plan”, informed Liu.

Mindtree Q3 profit rises 3 per cent YoY to Rs 197 crore; revenue grows 10 per cent

“Source: Business Standard”
Mid-tier information technology (IT) company Mindtree on Tuesday reported a 3 per cent year-on-year (YoY) rise in its net profit at Rs 197 crore for December quarter of the financial year 2019-20 (Q3FY20). On sequential basis, numbers grew 45.9 per cent. In the previous quarter, the company had posted profit of Rs 135 crore while in the year-ago period, the numbers stood at Rs 191.2 crore.

Revenue for the period came in at Rs 1,965.3 crore, up 10 per cent YoY and 2.7 per cent QoQ. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew 23.4 per cent QoQ and 8.1 per cent YoY to Rs 306.3 crore.

Diluted earnings per share (EPS) came in at Rs 11.96, up 3 per cent YoY and 45.9 per cent QoQ.

“As we continue to grow revenue, our sharp focus on driving profitable growth has resulted in expansion of operating margin by 2.6% and a rise in net profit by 44.7% as compared to previous quarter,” said Debashis Chatterjee, CEO & Managing Director, Mindtree. “We continue to execute our growth strategy, proactively incubate deals by mining strategic clients and nurture a learning-led culture. The recently concluded Annual Customer Experience Survey results depict industry-leading scores, indicating our exceptional work in delivering quality services to our clients,” Chatterjee added.

Among key highlights, Hi-Tech and Media grew 15.2 per cent YoY while BFSI grew 7.7 per cent YoY. Retail, CGP and Manufacturing grew 1 per cent YoY and Travel while Hospitality grew by 9.3 per cent YoY. The company’s Digital business grew by 13.5 per cent YoY and EBITDA margin improved by nearly 260bps as compared to last quarter.

In US dollar terms, revenue stood at $275.2 million, up 1.5 per cent QoQ and 9.4 per cent YoY. Net profit saw a growth of 44.7 per cent on QoQ basis at $27.7 million. On YoY basis, numbers grew 3.1 per cent.

Microsoft hunts for unicorns in tier 2 cities in India, selects 54 startups

“Source: Business Standard”
Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, is increasing its efforts to empower the startup ecosystem in Tier 2 cities across the country. As part of this initiative, the Redmond, Washington-based firm’s ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns’ programme, has selected 54 startups from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala and Telangana. Some of them include Spider G, NeuroTags, Genrobotic Innovations, AI Aeronautics, Synersense, Dealshare and NanoHealth.

The top tech startups selected through ‘Emerge-X’, a competition for startups, win credits to access Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure and get a host of business and tech benefits. The competition has received over 530 applications and the top three startups from each state gain access to a year-long mentorship program and a two-day founder boot camp. ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns,’ the Microsoft for startups initiative, works closely with local governments to strengthen the startup ecosystem in each state.

“The entrepreneurial energy of startups is rising well beyond the known metropolitan hubs and is remarkably high in Tier 2 cities, despite the obvious challenges. Through ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns, we’ve been able to reach some highly promising innovators from each of the five states,” said Lathika Pai, country head, Microsoft for Startups – MENA and SAARC. “In the next phase of our journey, we look forward to engaging with more startups and accelerating their growth and providing them with Microsoft’s platform to go global.”

The fifth edition of the Microsoft’s outreach programme was hosted at Hyderabad in association with the Government of Telangana. More than 150 innovators and entrepreneurs engaged with Microsoft experts, industry stalwarts and ecosystem stakeholders, including members of the state government.

More than 650 startups that have participated in the five events have benefited from the mentorship and guidance through technology workshops on Azure, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Microsoft said over 75 ecosystem players including the Global Entrepreneurship Network, TiE, Headstart, NASSCOM, and Startup Grind as well as prominent investors, entrepreneurs and executives in the national startup ecosystem have actively engaged with the innovators at each of the locations. Microsoft said firms such as Wholesalebox and Rapidor are among the participating startups in the programme that have received recent fresh funding from one of the participating investors.

India and Finland ink MoU to enhance bilateral defence cooperation

“Source:- IBEF”
Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence of Finland Mr Jukka Juusti signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further defence cooperation between India and Finland, here today. The MoU on co-operation in the field of Production, Procurement, Research and Development of Defence related Equipment and Industrial cooperation has been inked on the sidelines of Raisina Dialogue 2020. Under the broad ambit of the MoU, cooperation between Finnish companies and Indian Defence Public Sector Undertakings could be explored.

A draft MoU between the two countries in the field of defence cooperation amongst others was under discussion since the DefExpo 2018 and has now been formalised in the run up to DefExpo 2020, to be held in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow between February 5-9, 2020.

In 2019, Mr Juusti had led a delegation to Aero India in Bengaluru and post his visit, the Permanent Secretary had evinced their interest to participate in the ‘Make in India’ vision and formalise an arrangement for Defence Industrial cooperation through an MoU.

On February 13, 2016, Prime Minister of Finland Mr Juha Sipila had bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi during his visit to India for the inauguration of the ‘Make in India’ week. In April 17, 2018, Prime Minister Modi held a bilateral meeting with Mr Sipila during the first India-Nordic Summit in Stockholm, Sweden. Also, a delegation from Finland had visited India between November 29 – December 02, 2018 to explore new business opportunities for Finnish companies.

Global green tech revolution at risk, India can play role in reforming mining practices: Experts

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Green technology comes at a price and India can play a pivotal role in breaking the “green curse” by persuading South Asian countries to adopt sustainable practices in mining critical minerals needed for solar power  devices and the like, say experts.

Researchers, including Salim H. Ali from the University of Delaware, published a study recently to discuss how the global revolution to develop green, or low-carbon technology, could be at risk unless new international agreements are put in place to ensure a sustainable supply of rare minerals and metals.

“Many countries are now stricken with the ‘green curse’,” Ali, an environment and energy researcher, told PTI in a telephonic interview.

“Green curse” refers to a situation when a country’s increased investment in renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, generates a new set of resource and energy-related violent conflicts, he said.

The study, published in the journal Science, explained it further.

“Mining for copper, needed for electric wires and circuits and thin-film solar cells, and mining for lithium   used in batteries, has been criticised in Chile for depleting local groundwater resources across the Atacama Desert, destroying fragile ecosystems, and converting meadows and lagoons into salt flats,” the researchers wrote, citing an example.

“Metals and minerals are needed for low-carbon transition. But the current methods used for extracting them are dangerous and damaging to both the environment and surrounding communities,” study co-author Benjamin Sovacool from the University of Sussex in the UK told PTI.

According to Ali, countries like India should look at more sustainable mining models.

“Mining is still done using old outdated models in many low- and middle-income countries,” he added.

In his view, India is well positioned to drive policies and new conversations as the leader of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a coalition of 121 countries initiated by India in 2015 to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

The demand for materials and metals used to build low-carbon technology may grow immensely in the next few decades, the study noted.

“We are not creating a negative outlook, but stating that there is an opportunity for making mining for these minerals more responsible. The projected increase in demand could be potential good news for a country like India but it should be handled with care,” Ali explained.

According to scientists, the amount of cobalt, copper, lithium, cadmium, and rare earth elements needed for low-carbon technologies like solar photovoltaic cells, electric vehicle (EV) motors and batteries, wind turbines, and nuclear reactors will grow at a rapid pace in the upcoming years.

Materials used in electric vehicles (EVs), for instance, may grow in demand by 87,000 per cent, 1,000 per cent for wind power, and 3,000 per cent for solar cells from 2015 to 2060.

While this projected increase could be good news for countries rich in mineral and metal wealth, Ali said the need of the hour is to establish environmentally friendly mining governance across the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Given the centrality of metals and minerals in low-carbon technology, India can help shape the important discussion on the need for materials security policies to be actively incorporated in future climate planning meets, he said.

“Climate goals and targets of countries must include elaborate policies on how these minerals are mined. Separate protocols on material supply for green technology, including their environmental, social, economic outcomes must be drafted,” Ali said.

According to Ali, current mining operations in India are largely domestic, and mostly involve extraction of energy-minerals including coal, oil, and natural gas Vedanta Resources  Limited and Adani Group.

As a result, mining in India is not getting enough foreign attention, he said.

“Strategic foreign investment is needed on non-energy minerals to improve India’s mining contribution. India needs to move away from energy-based minerals and needs to extensively map non-energy ores across the states,” Ali said.

China dominates the global mineral supply chain since it played a pivotal role in extensively mapping its abundance of rare-earth elements (REEs) but its mining practices are environmentally damaging and need to be revamped, he said. REEs like neodymium and dysprosium are needed for magnets in electric generators and wind turbines, and motors in EVs.

“Better coordination between foreign investment, local artisanal miners, and domestic companies in a strategic public-private partnership can benefit India,” Ali said.

“If the reserves are relatively small, small scale mining can be an efficient investment, increasing labour opportunities,” he added.

In the Science study, the researchers also recommended that countries expand the recycling and reuse of rare minerals to extend product lifetimes.

“As the global energy landscape changes, it is becoming more mineral and metal intensive,” Morgan Bazillian, study co-author from the Colorado School of Mines in the US, said in a statement.

“Thus, the sustainability and security of material supply chains is essential to supporting the energy transition . How we shape that pathway will have important consequences for everything from the environment, to development, and geopolitics,” Bazillian added.

India tops power generation tenders globally in Q4 2019, solar accounts for 73.7 percent share

“Source:- Economic Times”
KOLKATA: India topped tenders for power generation capacity globally during the quarter ended December 31.

Top issuers of power plant tenders globally for the quarter in terms of power capacity Solar Energy Corporation of India  (3,000MW) from four tenders, Northern Indiana Public Service in the United States for 2,600MW from two tenders and NTPC at 2,514 MW capacity from nine tenders.

Comparing tenders activity in power plant segment in different regions of the globe, Asia-Pacific held the top position with 209 tenders and a share of 71.8% during Q4 2019, followed by Europe with 36 tenders and a 12.4% share and Middle East and Africa with 29 tenders and a 10% share.

Among the technologies, solar accounted for 216 tenders with a 73.7% share, followed by thermal with 33 tenders and an 11.3% share and hydro with 20 tenders and a 6.8% share.

Globally, however, power plant tenders during Q4 of calendar 2019 saw 291 tenders announced, marking a drop of 28% over the last four-quarter average of 404, according to GlobalData ’s power industry tenders database.

Proportion of tenders by category in the quarter was as follows included project implementation at 213 tenders and a 73.2% share, repair, maintenance, upgrade & others at 40 tenders and a 13.7% share, consulting & similar services at 36 tenders and a 12.4% share, power purchase agreement  at two tenders and a 0.7% share.

GlobalData’s data is based on all publicly-announced tenders including power plants, T&D projects, equipment markets, analysis reports, capacity and generation.

AWS collaborates with Drone Federation to boost drone innovation in India

“Source:- Livemint”
The Drone Federation of India (DFI) announced a tie-up on Monday with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to drive innovation in India’s drone ecosystem.

The not-for-profit, industry-led body will work with AWS as its preferred cloud service, providing drone manufacturers, application developers, and operators a scalable, agile, secure, and robust cloud infrastructure to develop drone applications and accelerate time-to-market in India.

“We are excited to collaborate with DFI, and serve as their cloud infrastructure provider to help shape the drone ecosystem in India,” said Rahul Sharma, president, India, and South Asia Public Sector, Amazon Internet Services Pvt. Ltd. “With the breadth and depth of AWS Cloud services across industry-leading compute, storage, database, IoT, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, drone developers and operators can now test new ideas quickly, and accelerate innovation in the application development that better serve citizens and impact society positively.”

Sharma added that the cloud service provider was trying to create this collaboration space where they will give DFI access to AWS’s technologies, provide them with mentorship and guidance, as well as give them credits for experimentation.

Additionally, the collaboration will identify use cases for drones in India across various application areas such as land survey, precision agriculture, disaster management, and search and rescue missions, and build custom cloud-based solutions for them.

AWS will also give DFI access to it its registry of open data, which means that drone manufacturers and startups can spend more time on data analysis rather than data acquisition.

Using AWS cloud services, DFI will also establish a drone innovation and operations hub in India to support drone-based innovation in the country. The hub will prototype and develop drone applications involving the drone ecosystem in India, comprising of startups, government bodies, and policy makers. The initiative will provide technical expertise in data collection, data processing, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) use cases, and help transform the way organizations collect, store and interpret drone data.

DFI and its partners will leverage AWS’s compute instances, storage services, and database services for drone applications.

“If we want to see food and medicine deliveries, autonomous aerial transportation, large scale business transformation in mining, roads, and disaster management, we will require the power of cloud computing and strong data-based workflows. We believe this collaboration will help enable stakeholders of the drone ecosystem build solutions for the future,”said Rahat Kulshreshtha, president, DFI.

According to Sharma, AWS has the broadest and the deepest set of capabilities that exists on the cloud today, anywhere and getting access to that technology makes the tech giant a preferred provider of choice.

World’s Highest Rail Bridge Connecting Kashmir With Rest Of India To Be Finished By 2021

“Source:- NDTV ”
Jammu: Kashmir will be connected to the rest of India through railway network by December next year as the government has set a fresh deadline for completion of the world’s highest railway bridge.

The rail line is expected to be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower.

Konkan Railway has said it was most challenging project in the post-independent history of the Indian Railways.

“It is most challenging task in the 150-year-long history of the railways. The highest railway bridge in the world, connecting Kashmir with rest of country through rail line will be completed by December 2021,” Konkan Railway Chairman Sanjay Gupta told reporters in Jammu on Wednesday night.

“The construction of the bridge is the most challenging part of the Kashmir rail link project undertaken post-independence and, once completed, it will be an engineering marvel,” Mr Gupta said.

The massive arch-shaped structure, being constructed in hostile terrain, have used over 5,462 tonnes of steel will be 359 metres above the river bed, he added.

Designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 260 km per hour, the 1.315-km-long “engineering marvel” will connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar).

The bridge forms a crucial link in the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal, which is part of the Udhampur- Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.

Once completed, it will surpass the record of the Beipan river Shuibai railway bridge (275 m) in China.

The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project is highly essential to provide an alternative and a reliable transportation system to Jammu and Kashmir to join Kashmir Valley to the Indian Railways network, Gupta said.

He added that in view of the importance of this project in providing seamless and hassle-free connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir, the project was declared as national project in 2002.

Govt approves 2636 EV charging stations in Phase-II to Fame India Scheme

“Source: Business Standard”
Prakash Javadekar says will encourage OEMs to launch new electric vehicles

To give a further push to clean mobility in Road Transport Sector, the Department of Heavy Industries has sanctioned 2636 charging stations in 62 cities across 24 States/UTs under FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India) scheme phase II.

As many as 317 EV charging stations have been allotted in Maharashtra, 266 in Andhra Pradesh, 256 in Tamil Nadu, 228 in Gujarat, 205 in Rajasthan, 207 in Uttar Pradesh, 172 in Karnataka, 159 in Madhya Pradesh, 141 in West Bengal, 138 in Telangana, 131 in Kerala, 72 in Delhi, 70 in Chandigarh, 50 in Haryana, 40 in Meghalaya, 37 in Bihar, 29 in Sikkim, 25 each in Jammu & Kashmir and Chhattisgarh, 20 in Assam, 18 in Odisha and 10 each in Uttarakhand, Puducherry and Himachal Pradesh.

The sanction letters to the selected entities will be issued in phases after ensuring the availability of land for charging stations, signing of necessary agreements/MoU with concerned partner organizations like city municipal corporation, Discoms and oil companies. Subsequently, each selected public entities are required to initiate the procurement process in a time bound manner for deployment of sanctioned charging stations.

Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, Prakash Javadekar said that in future at least one charging station will be available in most of the selected cities in a grid of 4 Km X 4 km. He said it will boost the confidence of users of Electric Vehicles and also encourage the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to launch the new electric vehicle models due to the lack of charging infrastructure.

Department of Heavy Industry had invited the Expression of Interest (EoI) from million-plus cities, smart cities, State/UT capitals and cities from special category states for submission of proposal for availing incentives under FAME India Scheme Phase II for deployment of EV charging infrastructure within Cities.

About 106 proposals from Public/Private Entities for the deployment of about 7000 EV charging stations were received. After evaluation of these proposals as per EoI, on the advice of Project Implementation and Sanctioning Committee (PISC) the Government sanctioned 2636 charging stations to 62 cities submitted by 19 public entities for 24 states. Out of these 2636 charging stations, 1633 Charging Stations will be Fast Charging Stations and 1003 will be slow charging stations. With this, about 14000 Charging Stations will be installed across the selected cities.

Amazon joins hands with Future Group to take on RIL’s Jiomart

“Source:- Livemint”
MUMBAI
 : E-commerce major Amazon has partnered with India’s leading retailer, Future Retail Ltd (FRL), as they seek to expand their reach by leveraging each other’s networks.

While the partnership will allow the Kishore Biyani-led Future Group firm to access Amazon’s online platform, it would also help deepen the US-based e-commerce firm’s presence in the Indian market.

“This arrangement will now build on the robust offline and online capabilities of both organizations, creating significant value for customers,” the companies said in a joint statement.

The announcement also comes at a time when India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is gearing up to take on both e-commerce giants Amazon and Walmart with the soft launch of his “new commerce” venture ‘Jiomart’.

“Amazon and Future Retail share common values of serving customers everywhere in the best possible manner,” said Kishore Biyani, chairman and managing director, Future Retail Ltd.

As part of the agreement, Amazon India will become the authorized online sales channel for FRL stores and FRL will ensure the participation of relevant FRL stores on the Amazon India marketplace and its programmes, the statement added.

“This arrangement will allow us to build upon each other’s strengths in the physical and digital space so that customers benefit from the best services, products, assortment and price,” Biyani said in the statement.

Last year, Amazon had acquired a 49% stake in Future Coupons, which holds about 7.3% in Future Retail through convertible warrants, the company that holds Biyani’s BigBazaar retail chain.

Both companies will focus on groceries, general merchandise and beauty products, apart from fashion and footwear categories.

As part of arrangement, FRL will list its items on Amazon Prime Now programme to reach out to customers within two hours in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The Mumbai-based firm said it will increase existing store-infrastructure at its retail outlets for “facilitating seamless packaging and pickup of products ordered online”.

FRL and Amazon India have already launched this service across 22 stores. Both companies plan to roll it out across the entire FRL store chain.

At present, FRL operates over 1,500 stores across various brands, including Big Bazaar, its flagship chain, and other smaller neighbourhood chains such as EasyDay and Heritage Fresh.

“FRL’s national footprint of stores offering thousands of products across fashion, appliances, home, kitchen and grocery, will now be available to millions of customers shopping on Amazon.in, in hours across 25-plus cities,” said Amit Agarwal, senior vice-president and country head, Amazon India.

In a separate agreement, Future Consumer Ltd (FCL) said Amazon Retail India Pvt. Ltd (ARIP) will distribute FCL’s portfolio of brands online.

Future Consumer has brands and products in multiple categories in food, home care, and personal and beauty care. At present, FCL’s products are available offline through Future Retail stores. Through this agreement, Future Consumer will build an online channel and offer its brands to millions of Amazon’s customers, the statement said.

“The collaboration with Amazon will expand the reach of our brands to new sets of customers on Amazon India’s online marketplace. We will be working closely with Amazon to develop marketing and promotion initiatives and look forward to using its technical expertise and resources to increase the reach of our brands,” said FCL MD Ashni Biyani.

AI & machine learning will contribute US$ 1 trillion to Indian economy by 2035; government committed to ensuring stable environment for investors and startups – Piyush Goyal

“Source:- IBEF”
Commerce and Industry & Railways Minister Mr Piyush Goyal today inaugurated the National Stock Exchange (NSE) Knowledge Hub in New Delhi, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered learning ecosystem that will assist the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector. Speaking on this occasion Commerce & Industry Minister said that although India has developed as the second largest fintech hub in the world, a lot of work still needs to be done in the BFSI sector. He hoped that the Knowledge Hub created by NSE will fill in these gaps and help the financial sector to move into the future.

The NSE Knowledge Hub will enhance skills and help academic institutions in preparing future-ready talent for the financial service industry. It is also available on mobile and attempts to bring together world class content and learners through this state- of- the- art and future- ready platform.

Commerce and Industry Minister said that this industry driven learning eco system will help India in building next generation skills and capabilities in the BFSI sector. The use of AI will ensure that the skill upgradation is affordable and accessible and helps in the creation of a workforce that is adequate for the requirements of the sector said Piyush Goyal. AI and Machine Learning will contribute US$ 1 trillion by 2035 and this is a good beginning by NSE to tap the potential of AI and use it as a tool to create a workforce in the BFSI sector in India added the Minister.

Commerce and Industry Minister assured continued Government support to investors and start-ups and said that India is a safe investment destination today for investors, even the smallest of investors and this Knowledge Hub by NSE will strengthen and empower those working in the BFSI sector and will benefit investors and the financial services to give world class services through knowledge, innovation and value-addition.

India climbed to third spot in number of science and engineering publications in the world: Dr Harsha Vardhan

“Source:- IBEF”
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the 107th Indian Science Congress (ISC) today at University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru.

Delivering the inaugural address, the Prime Minister said, “The growth story of India depends on its achievements in the Science & Technology sector. There is a need to revolutionize the landscape of Indian Science Technology and Innovation.”

“My motto for the young scientists bourgeoning in this country has been – “Innovate, Patent, Produce and Prosper”. He said these four steps will lead India towards a faster development. “Innovation for the people and by the people is direction of our ‘New India”, he added.

He said, “New India needs technology and also a logical temperament, so that we can give a new direction to our social and economic sectors”. He said science and technology provides a level playing field in making opportunities accessible to all and that it also plays a unifying role in the society.

Prime Minister said, “Now the developments in information and communication technology are able to provide cheaper smart phones & cheaper data and that has made it accessible to everyone in the country, whereas it was seen as a privilege of the few earlier. This made the common man now believe that he is not distantly separated from the Government. Now he can directly connect with the Government and make his voice heard”
Prime Minister exhorted the young scientists to work in the field of rural development where there are several opportunities for cheaper and better innovations.

Referring to the theme of 107th ISC – “Science and Technology: Rural Development”, the Prime Minister said that it is only due to Science & Technology, that Government Programs have reached the needy.

He highlighted that India now stands at 3rd position globally, in the number of Peer-reviewed Science and Engineering Publications. “I have been told that India has climbed to third position globally in the number of peer reviewed science and engineering publications. It is also growing at a rate of about 10 per cent as compared to global average of 4 per cent”, he said.

He also mentioned about Improvement in India’s ranking at Innovation Index to 52. He highlighted that Government programmes have created more incubators in the last 5 years than in previous 50 years.

Prime Minister said Technology is being harnessed at a large scale to achieve the objective of Good Governance. “Yesterday our Government was able to release to 6 crore beneficiaries the instalment under the PM-KISAN programme. This was possible only due the Aadhaar enabled technology”, he said. Similarly, he said that it was technology which helped in building toilets and providing electricity to the poor. He said that owing to the technology of Geo Tagging and Data Science, many of the projects in rural and urban areas could be timely completed.

Prime Minister said, “We are continuing our efforts to ensure the ‘Ease of doing Science’ and effectively using information technology to reduce red tape”.

He emphasized that Digitalization, E Commerce, Internet Banking and Mobile Banking services are assisting rural population significantly. He said Technology can be harnessed for several rural development initiatives, particularly in the area of cost-effective Agriculture and Farm to Consumer supply chain network.

He urged everyone to find technological solutions for – stalk burning, maintenance of Ground water tables, prevention of communicable diseases, environment friendly transportation etc. He emphasized that Science and technology has a major role in contributing towards making India a US$ 5 Trillion Economy.

The Prime Minister launched the Indian Scientific, Technology and Engineering facilities Map (I-STEM) Portal on this occasion.

The Union Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan highlighted that as per a recent National Science Foundation (USA) Report, India has already climbed to the third spot in the number of science and engineering publications and that Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advance Scientific Research (JNCASR) in Bangalore has scored the 7th position in the quality of research by Nature Index.

Dr Harsh Vardhan also emphasized that several schemes have been worked out for enhancing the quality of research, empowering young women students and scientists, technology development, creation of an end-to-end startup ecosystem, bringing the best of global science to India, linking of academia-research labs-industry-society, sharing of scientific resources and science communication.

He pointed out that our innovation ecosystem in the last five years has doubled from the previous fifty years and that the Scientific Social Responsibility Policy has been formulated to reach out to the widest-spectrum of stakeholders of S&T with knowledge, human resources and infrastructure.

Dr Harsh Vardhan elaborated that missions have been initiated in the disruptive technologies such as Cyber-Physical Systems, deep-ocean exploration; quantum systems, energy storage and gene editing which are creating unprecedented opportunities for our young and dynamic scientists to work on securing the future. At the same time traditional knowledge systems in areas such as health and well-being, water conservation, environmental management and sources of local livelihood have been strengthened.

He stressed that our scientists would make this decade a Vigyan se Vikas ka Dashak for a rapid, inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth-to aid the Hon’ble PM’s vision of five trillion-dollar economy by 2024-25.

The Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri B.S. Yediyurappa highlighted the importance of agricultural technology in rural development.

The Science Congress which will continue till January 07, 2020 consists of 28 Plenary Sessions on areas ranging from Climate Smart Agriculture for Food Security, Crop Improvement Towards Food & Nutrition Security, Materials Science And Technology For Rural Development, Challenges and Opportunities In Cancer Drug Discovery, Artificial Intelligence And Medical Technology, Advances In Basic Medical And Clinical Interactions, Non-Communicable Diseases In Rural Population as well as Cancer Research – Therapeutic Applications. The areas also include Nano Materials for Energy, Environment and Health Care, Novel Solutions for Oil and Gas Industry Problems and so on in which senior scientists and officials will discuss on the status, challenges, opportunities and scope in these research areas.

The Nobel Laureates who are participating in this Indian Science Congress include German physicist Professor Stefan Hell who is one of the directors of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen, Germany and Professor Ada E. Yonath from Israel.

Apart from this, several senior Scientists from India and abroad along with several government officials are participating in this event to exchange their views on a range of scientific issues, both at the national and international level.

Anne Klein scouts for India partner

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: US women’s fashion label Anne Klein  is in talks with a host of local companies for a partnership to enter the Indian market this year, a top executive has said.

“We are very excited about the Indian market,” said Yehuda Shmidman, chief executive of WHP Global  that acquired the five-decades old apparel and accessories brand in July last year. “We believe that India will contribute a big part of our future global growth.”

Anne Klein already sells its watches in the country in a partnership with Titan. WHP is a $1billion fund set up by investors including Oaktree Capital and Blackrock Capital among others to acquire brands for global expansions.

Founded by fashion designed Anne Klein in 1968, the New York-based brand generates about $700 million in annual revenues. About $100 million out of that from international markets.

Shmidman said his company is aiming to increase Anne Klein’s sales to more than $1billion in the coming years and international expansions and ecommerce are going to contribute significantly to the number.

India will be third country the US fashion brand will enter in 2020 after China  and Mexico  where WHP has singed long term licensee agreements with local players.

The company is also looking to expand into other Asian, Middle East and Latin American countries. WHP is in “active discussion” with a couple of Indian companies to appoint a licensee for the brand here, Shmidman said.

“Entering through a licensee is indeed the business model that we believe is the best because it leverages the best of the brand, which we bring to the table, and, of course, the critical local knowhow and the experience the local partner brings,” he said.

“We will provide all the brains elements needed and then our licensee in India will be our expert on the ground who will have that role and responsibility to build the stores and ecommerce.”

Indian real estate attracts US$ 5 billion PE in 2019, commercial projects lead: Report

“Source:- IBEF”
Indian commercial real estate retained its leading position and continued be a preferred destination for global institutional investors in the backdrop of robust office space take-up, falling vacancy levels and rising rentals.

In 2019, Indian real estate attracted more than US$ 5 billion private equity (PE) inflows, out of which around 66 per cent or US$ 3.3 billion was invested in the commercial real estate. Meanwhile, a slight increase in investment in both retail and residential segments was seen in 2019 as against the preceding year, showed data from ANAROCK Property Consultants.

While the most attractive investment destination for PE funds remained the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), the National Capital Region (NCR) stood out in 2019. NCR was the second-most attractive real estate destination for PE players after Mumbai. Thus, the two mega regions attracted around US$ 2.7 billion which is 53 per cent of overall PE share in Indian real estate in 2019.

“Total PE inflows in Indian real estate remained more or less the same in 2019 against 2018. However, NCR once again emerged as a major hotbed for private equity activity in 2019. Besides office real estate, the retail sector helped NCR gain traction from both foreign and domestic funds,” said Mr Shobhit Agarwal, MD & CEO – ANAROCK Capital. “Residential saw some green shoots of revival in 2019 and this will continue in 2020 as the government’s distress funds are deployed.”

Now, investors are also more interested in last-mile funding for stuck housing projects as compared to previous years. This, along with the government support of Rs 25,000 crore (US$ 3.58 billion) for stressed projects, will go a long way in reducing stress of the residential real estate from its woes.

“Given the government’s involvement, last-mile funding is one of the most sought-after products now preferred by several lenders across geographies. Apart from low execution, land title and sales risk, the segment also stands apart due to faster return of the capital with higher than moderate returns,” said Mr Subhash Udhwani, founder of real estate-focused boutique investment bank, Elysium Capital.

In 2019, retail segments also attracted considerable PE attention based on the high demand for organised retail spaces across the country. There was an annual rise of 170 per cent in the retail sector, as it received nearly US$ 1 billion against $355 million in 2018. Moreover, there was also higher PE inflows in residential sector attracting around US$ 395 million against US$ 265 million a year ago.

Out of major markets, MMR witnessed a 19 per cent rise on-year attracting PE inflows of over US$ 1.8 billion whereas NCR stood out with total inflows of over US$ 845 million in 2019 from mere US$ 195 million in 2018.

PE funds of around US$ 390 million and US$ 615 million were attracted by the Information Technology (IT) hubs of Pune and Bangalore, respectively, in 2019. Both cities witnessed an inflow rise by 210 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively in a year. Although, there was drop in PE funds in Hyderabad, the showstopper of 2018. It attracted PE funds of just US$ 440 million in 2019 against US$ 1.1 billion a year ago. According to experts this drop was expected as 2018 was a one-hit wonder rather than a steady trend.

The funding in logistics and warehousing witnessed a drop of 50 per cent attracting about US$ 200 million in PE funds against the previous year.

Mixed-use developments saw inflows of around US$ 155 million in 2019, as compared to US$ 310 million a year ago.

Panasonic to invest Rs 295 cr in new electrical equipment unit at Sri City

“Source: Business Standard”
Panasonic Corporation announced a plan today to expand its manufacturing footprint in India, with a new factory at Sri City Industrial Park in Andhra Pradesh. The new unit, which will be set up at an investment of Rs 294.6 crore by Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt Ltd, the sales arm of Panasonic Life Solutions Company, will manufacture wiring devices, electrical wire and switchgear.

The unit will be Panasonic’s fourth for manufacturing electrical equipment material in the country. It is slated to start production in 2021.

Stating that the Indian economy has been expanding rapidly in recent years, the company said that with GDP estimated to grow at six per cent a year through 2030, not only big cities but even middle-sized ones are expected to grow in the coming years.

The demand for electrical equipment such as switches, sockets and switchgears is increasing in sync with the surge in construction of office buildings, condominiums and residences. Panasonic said its decision to set up the new factory was driven largely by the need to respond to the brisk demand, which its existing capacity would not be able to meet.

In India, Panasonic has production bases in Haridwar in the north, and in Daman and Kutch in the west, but no none in the south, which has strong purchasing power and great growth potential.

The new factory at Sri City, which the company hopes will give it greater access to the southern market, is scheduled to start production of wiring devices in 2021. The unit will add fans, switchgear and electrical wire sequentially. Panasonic plans to expand sales by broadening the product line-up targeted at the middle class, which is expected to grow exponentially in the future.

The new factory will provide jobs to 600 people and will produce 8.6 milliom units a month.

HAL, Wipro 3D sign MoU for metal 3D printing adoption in aerospace

“Source:- IBEF”
HAL, a Bengaluru-based aerospace & Defence company and Wipro 3D, the metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) business of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering (WIN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to design, develop, prove out, manufacture and repair of aerospace components by using metal additive technology.

MoU also emphasizes the development, prove out and application of new material which will use in metal additive technology.

This initiative will focus on MRO along with the development, prove out and production of aerospace applications by using metal additive technology. The prove-outs and certification of components which will developed by using 3D printings is also a key element of this co-operation.

HAL CEO, Bangalore complex, Mr Shekhar Shrivastava stated, “This initiative between HAL and Wipro 3D will create a unique synergy of capabilities that can accelerate the adoption of metal additive manufacturing in Aerospace in India. Qualification of parts for Aerospace is challenging as it would require prove out and extensive testing followed by certification by regulatory authorities which may also include flight testing.”

Mr Pratik Kumar, CEO, Wipro Infrastructure Engineering declared, “This MoU will bring metal 3D printing into the mainstream of India’s Aerospace. Wipro 3D and HAL have worked together in the past. This further strengthens our collaborative efforts to create additive technology leadership in Aerospace.”

In metal 3D printing, aerospace industry has been one of the leading adopters, globally, due to the benefits of faster design iterations, weight and geometry optimization, performance improvement and flexible manufacturing.

Mr Ajay Parikh, Vice President & Business Head, Wipro 3D, said, “The MoU will provide significant manufacturing and MRO flexibility and freedom to existing, upcoming, and legacy aerospace programmes. The additive technology capability Wipro3D has built over years in aerospace and defence verticals will help us in collaborating with HAL.”

Inox Wind signs pact with Continuum Power Trading for 250 mw power projects

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Inox Wind on Monday said that it has entered into an agreement with Continuum Power Trading (TN) Pvt Ltd to supply, erect and commission 250 mw wind power Gujarat.

“Inox Wind… has signed a term sheet with Continuum Power Trading (TN) Pvt Ltd, part of Continuum Wind Energy group, to supply, erect and commission 250 MW of wind power projects (in two phases of 126 MW and 124 MW) comprising of a mix of 2 MW (113 metre rotor diameter turbine combined with 92 metre hub height) and 3 MW (145 metre rotor diameter turbine combined with 120metre hub height) turbines,” the company said in a filing to BSE.

The first phase of 126 mw of the project is scheduled to be commissioned by the third quarter of FY21 at Dayapar in Bhuj district, Gujarat, and will be executed on a turnkey project basis.

As part of the order, Inox Wind will provide Continuum Power with end-to-end solutions from development and construction to commissioning and providing long-term operations and maintenance services.

“Common infrastructure such as 220 KV pooling substation at Dayapar, 220 KV bay at Power Grid Corporation Of India   Limited (PGCIL) Nirona End, 220 KV transmission line for 72 km is ready and the project will be executed on a plug-and-play basis,” the company said.

AAI to set up India’s first three water aerodromes in Andaman & Nicobar

“Source:- IBEF”
Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to develop three first-of-its-kind water aerodromes in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Currently, AAI is in the process of obtaining environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

These water aerodromes are planned in Long Island, Swaraj Island and Shaheed Island with a total investment of Rs 50 crore (US$ 7.15 million) and clearance for preparing the Terms of References (ToR) is required separately for three airports.

These airports are part of the ten water aerodromes that the Centre plans to develop.

“It was recommended that ‘ToR’ along with Public Hearing prescribed by the Expert Appraisal Committee (Infrastructure-2) should be considered for preparation of EIA/EMP report for the above mentioned project in addition to all the relevant information as per the ‘Generic Structure of EIA’ given in Appendix III and IIIA in the EIA Notification, 2006,” said an Expert Appraisal Committee under the ministry.

“The draft EIA/EMP report shall be submitted to the State Pollution Control Board for public hearing. The issues emerged and response to the issues shall be incorporated in the EIA report,” it added.

It is estimated that the incoming of tourists at proposed project locations will lead to increase in tourism and hotel business at local level. This will also create job opportunity for local people there.

These water aerodromes will provide in increase in level of current social infrastructural facilities of the islands, the EAC said.

The invitation of bids for three unserved airports/airstrips in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and one underserved airport in Lakshadweep Island under the fourth round of the regional air connectivity scheme has been sent out, according to the civil aviation ministry.

Last year, licensing norms for water aerodromes, where amphibian planes can land and takeoff were issued by Director General of Civil Aviation.

Amazon, Flipkart may face tough challenge in 2020 as Reliance firms up plans

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : With more and more Indians taking the online route to fulfill their shopping needs, e-tailers like Amazon and Flipkart are witnessing high demands, including from far-flung and remote areas, but overall slowdown and negative sentiments – coupled with the new e-commerce policy and the likely entry of Reliance into the e-commerce space soon — may spoil the 2020 party for the market leaders, say industry experts.

The later part of 2019 was not all that bad for Amazon and Flipkart as festive sales brought in record revenue for both the companies.

Online retailers in India recorded $3 billion ( 19,000 crore) worth Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) sales between September 29 and October 4, according to Bengaluru-based market research firm RedSeer Consulting. Flipkart and Amazon’s combined sales held 90% of the market share.

A report by Forrester Research also predicted e-retailer sales to hit nearly $4.8 billion during the overall festive season.

Walmart-owned Flipkart claims it has over 60% market share in the Indian e-commerce market while Amazon is believed to have about 30% market share.

Despite facing regulatory hurdles in early 2019, Cloudtail India, which is the single-largest seller on Amazon India, reported revenue growth of 25% for March 2019 quarter.

Cloudtail is owned by Prione Business Services, a joint venture between Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.

Catamaran, which owns 76% in Cloudtail India, is now being headed by ex-Infosys CFO Ranganath Mavinakere, Murthy’s all-time favourite.

According to Satish Meena, Senior Forecast Analyst with Forrester, 2019’s initial months were severely impacted by the new regulation fears.

“There has been an overall slowdown amid negative sentiments in the e-commerce sector. The sales did pick up in the festive season but overall, it has not been a great year and you will see cut in the 2019 growth forecast percentage for the Indian ecommerce industry,” Meena told IANS.

“Profitability is still a concern for the big players. There have been investment in certain new categories but nothing much has changed this year,” he added.

Reliance’s likely entry into the space by Diwali next year will bring in massive competition for both Amazon and Flipkart.

“The discount-driven approach which Reliance has mastered reflects in whatever vertical they put their money into. They will likely enter the ecommerce space with the high-potential grocery segment near Diwali next year or may be later. Timeline is still a concern but they are coming big,” said Meena.

Reliance Retail’s entry into the online retail sector is the biggest challenge for Amazon and Walmart-Flipkart as the Mukesh Ambani-led behemoth is well positioned to create massive disruption in the market.

Reliance Retail operates 10,415 stores in more than 6,600 cities and towns, with 500 million annual footfalls – giving the company the kind of scale required to swiftly launch India-based operations.

Reliance Retail has already launched its food and grocery app for beta testing among its employees.

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), propelled by rising smartphone penetration, the launch of 4G networks and increasing consumer wealth, the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2026.

The ongoing digital transformation in the country is expected to increase India’s total Internet user base to 829 million by 2021.

Another big worry for Amazon and Flipkart is the new e-commerce policy that is still in the consultation stage. India has questioned Amazon’s “predatory prices” and “deep discount sales”.

“In the year ahead, it remains to be seen what shape the new ecommerce policy based on the recommendations of various industry stakeholders takes shape,” said Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR.

“The beneficiaries of the new e-commerce policy would potentially be small and bespoke e-commerce players, who could benefit from the level-playing field that the policy aims to provide,” Ram told IANS.

The grocery segment is a big growth area in 2020.

“We have seen players like Grofers (backed by SoftBank, Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital) making inroads into the segment. Social commerce will be another big growth area in 2010. Facebook has also made investment in Meesho, a platform that enables Indian entrepreneurs to establish online businesses via social channels,” said Meena.

“The viability of the existing and upcoming e-commerce players will be tested big time in 2020,” he added.

Retail industry expects double-digit growth to return in second half of 2020

“Source:- Livemint”
New Delhi:
 As economic slowdown continues to hurt sales, the Indian retail industry expects to bounce back in the second half of 2020 on the back of consumer demand revival and increased spending.

While major players struggled to keep themselves on the growth chart in 2019, they expect a decent double-digit growth coming back in 2020.

But sectoral experts are cautious, saying it would depend on various factors like recovery of manufacturing and other sectors, incentives in the Union Budget and availability of money in the hands of consumers to make purchasing decisions.

“We are hopeful that consumer sentiments will turn positive as the year 2020 rolls out. The second half of 2020 could see a pickup in demand and growth,” Future Retail Joint Managing Director Rakesh Biyani said.

Though the economic slowdown started in high-ticket segments like real estate, auto and consumer durables due to the credit squeeze triggered by the NBFC crisis, it has now spread to other sectors such as retail as the consumption basket shrank.

According to Debashish Mukherjee, Partner and Regional Lead, Consumer and Retail, Middle East & Africa at A T Kearney, in 2019 the sector had challenges in terms of lower growth.

“People expect growth to come back in 2020. However, it depends on (how) consumer sentiments improves and the consumer has to feel really richer than they are.

“It is not that there is zero growth but the growth is not that exciting to make that kind of purchasing decision, which they use to. In some way more money has to come into the hands of people,” he said.

He also noted that there is stress in the system due to lack of funds and that is a reality.

EY Partner and National Leader, Consumer Products and Retail Pinakiranjan Mishra said revival would depend on the coming Union Budget also.

“If the Budget is pro-consumption and has measures so that additional cash is available in the hands of people, it would increase consumption,” he said.

The consuming class has either downgraded or become careful in spending. These things are now behind us. There was a bit of negativity and hopefully, it would not exist next year, he added.

Mishra also said this would also be helped by the initiatives taken by the government such as increased spending on infrastructure projects and corporate tax breaks.

Expressing similar views, Retailers Association of India (RAI) CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said the coming year would have lots of hopes but would also have many challenges as well.

“It would take at least another six months for the economy to showcase itself in the full bloom and (it) may not be very easy,” Kumar said, adding that it would also depend on the government’s support which includes ease of doing business across sectors, which may have an impact on retail as well.

V Mart Retail CMD Lalit Agarwal said though the ‘animal spirits’ were missing in 2019 in the market, compared to the last two years, however, the organised retail would bounce back as it is a cyclical slowdown in consumption.

“We believe that the consumption slowdown, which is a reflection of weaker consumer sentiments, dampened the demand. The impact of this was felt across our key markets” Agarwal said.

“However, the organised retail sector in India has been through the ups and downs of many business and economic cycles over the last decade, and, each time, come out stronger and better. This time too will be no exception,” he said.

According to Mishra, 2019 was a mixed year for the retail industry. Some retailers in value segment have reported good growth.

Rajagopalan said that growth in 2019 was not very good and it was not a very great year for retail. Formal retailers have shown growth but it is not dramatically a double-digit growth, he added.

METRO Cash and Carry India CEO and MD Arvind Mediratta said 2019 was a good year for the small kirana (grocery) shops and retailers and they competed with big retailing houses.

“For Indian retail, 2019 was an exciting year, especially for the Kirana shop owners. We saw them effectively compete with supermarkets and large format retail chains and the heavily funded e-commerce businesses now.

“Amidst stiff competition, the local kiranas proved extremely durable and evergreen due to various factors such as intimate knowledge of the local consumer, region-specific assortment, convenience of home delivery, credit facility etc,” he said.

However, Mediratta suggested that small kirana shops can further consolidate their position in the retail value chain with the right support in the coming year.

“The changes in GST during the year have been a great boost, especially for small businesses, as the retailer below 40 lakh turnover is no longer required to pay GST.

“As champion of independent businesses, we continue to work with the kiranas to digitise and modernise their shops which improved their monetisation by up to 30 per cent,” he added.

According to CARE Ratings, the Indian retail industry accounts for about 10 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and around 8 per cent of the employment and was valued at USD 792 billion as of 2018.

India is the fourth-largest global destination in the retail space after the US, China and Japan.

The industry has witnessed CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of over 10 per cent during 2013 – 2018, close to double the growth witnessed during the 2008 – 2013 period.

CARE expects the retail industry to register a growth rate of about 12-14 per cent over the next three years and reach about $1,150 billion by 2021.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

Reliance’s e-commerce venture JioMart makes a silent debut, calls for pre-registrations

“Source:- Business Insider”
Reliance Industries has silently launched its much talked about e-commerce venture, JioMart.

JioMart is a grocery retail platform that calls itself ‘desh ki nayi dukaan’. The website says that it is currently available in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan – suburbs of Mumbai.

“Yes, we have soft-launched our operations. All Jio  users are sent invites to register to avail of preliminary discounts. Though it is currently only in three regions, we would be scaling it up further. The JioMart app will be launched soon,” an official told Mint.

Reliance is also calling for pre-registrations from users with savings of as much as ₹3,000.

This step can help boost the valuation of the business which has 10,901 physical stores across the country. Reliance Industries said that it plans to spin off its retail venture, and the new digital avatar can boost its valuation.

pegs the value of Reliance Retail at ₹2.4 lakh crore as per a share swap scheme. It basically calculated the value of the business as RIL offered one share of the combined entity for every four shares of retail business. Also,

pegs the value of Reliance Retail at ₹2.4 lakh crore as per a share swap scheme. It basically calculated the value of the business as RIL offered one share of the combined entity for every four shares of retail business. Also, RIL stock touched ₹10 lakh crore this year, boosting the value of all its businesses.

JioMart’s debut is a threat to several e-commerce players who have been scaling up their grocery retail operations like – Amazon, Flipkart to startups like BigBasket, Grofers, Swiggy, Dunzo.

For over a year now, rumours of Reliance e-commerce debut had been doing the rounds. The company has also been buying into startups in the sector.

Going by an offline-to-online model, in December Reliance acquired 85% stake in the Hyderabad-based startup Nowfloats for ₹141.63 crores. Nowfloats offers SaaS based solutions to SMEs, and enables their digital presence.

In August 2019, Reliance acquired a majority stake in the Google-backed fashion e-commerce startup Fynd. In March 2019, Reliance had acquired Mumbai-based logistics platform Grab A Grub.

Reliance Retail has made a much bigger promise to build its online business on the back of its 364.3 million Jio subscribers.

 

Great Wall Motors Confirms Haval and Ora for Auto Expo 2020

“Source:- India Car News”
Chinese automaker, Great Wall Motors has officially confirmed its India entry via official Twitter account handle. The company has tweeted “Namaste India! All set for great things ahead”. GWM official twitter handle suggests that Haval and Ora brands will debut at the 2020 Auto Expo.

For people not in the know, Haval is an SUV-focused brand and Ora is an EV-only brand. Great Wall Motors also owns Wey and Great Wall Pick-up; howeverm these two brands are not likely to arrive in our market. The Chinese automaker is also looking to secure a production plant in the near future.
As per media reports, GWM India is planning to acquire the General Motors’ Talegaon manufacturing facility in Maharashtra. This production plant has an annual production capacity of 1.65 lakh vehicles and 1.60 lakh powertrains. SAIC Motor Corporation is also eyeing this facility.
It is expected that Great Wall Motors will start its India innings with an SUV. The Haval SUV range comprises of the H2, H4, H6 and H9. It is reported that the Haval H6 will be the brand’s first model in our market. The Ora is an electric vehicle brand, which sells 3 cars – R1, R2 and iQ. The company’s twitter handle shows 3 cars including Ora R1, Haval H6 and the Haval H2. These cars are expected to be unveiled at the Auto Expo 2020.
We believe that Great Wall Motors could opt for the CBU or CKD route for its first model in India. The Haval H6 SUV has already been spotted testing on the Indian roads. The SUV will directly rival the likes of the MG Hector, Tata Harrier, Jeep Compass and the Mahindra XUV500.

Ministry of Railways signs MoU with University of Birmingham for establishment of Centre of Excellence for Next Generation Transportation Systems

“Source:- IBEF”
The National Rail Transport Institute, a deemed to be university under the Ministry of Railways, signed an MoU with the University of Birmingham in Rail Bhawan, New Delhi on December 18th, 2019 to set up its first Centre of Excellence for Next Generation Transportation Systems. The MoU was signed by Mr Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board and Chancellor of NRTI, and Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham.

Indian Railways is a founding partner of this centre and would provide proprietary data, professional expertise, spare equipment and other available resources directly or through its Centralised Training Institutes and research organisations. The centre would also invite partnerships from other industry and academic organisations as it develops in the future.

This Centre will be involved in promoting development of the Rail and Transportation sector in India which include offering post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral programmes, customized training programmes for in-service professionals, undertaking joint research projects in areas such as signalling, communication, asset maintenance, traction and safety and developing benchmarks, standards and certifications for specialized skills. It will also be involved in organising knowledge events, conferences, workshops to disseminate trends, latest research, global best practices and developments in the transportation sector, accessible to industry and academia.

The establishment of this centre is yet another step towards building our capacity in the transportation sector, which would prepare our youth for participating in building and operation of national projects such as High-Speed Railways, modernizing Indian Railways signalling systems, rolling stock and operations. Its pedagogy would nurture creativity and entrepreneurship among NRTI students providing them an opportunity to become best in class professionals, influential leaders, nation-builders and value driven citizens.

About the National Rail Transport Institute

The National Rail Transport Institute has been set up as a deemed to be university and has been operational since 2018. In addition to Schools and Departments in various disciplines, NRTI aims to develop interdisciplinary Centres of Excellence which would be collaborative constructs to promote research and education to the transportation sector. NRTI’s strategy is focussed upon sourcing the best expertise from around the world from leading global institutions through institutional partnerships for collaborating on developing curriculum, research projects and executive education programs. Further details about the institution are available at www.nrti.edu.in

About University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is home to the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) with over 150 academics, researchers and professional services staff, delivering world-class research, education and leadership to the global rail industry. The BCRRE is the largest university-based centre for railway research and education in Europe, involved in developing world-leading new technologies alongside higher education programmes, research and innovations in Climate Change, Aerodynamics and International Benchmarking, Power Systems and Energy Use, Railway Control and Operations Simulation.

ABB India: a pure play on digitalization

“Source:- Livemint”
ABB India Ltd’s shares fell 6.7% since 19 December. From 23 December, the stock valuation mirrors all businesses except the power grid (PG) segment, which has been spun off into a separate entity—ABB Power Products and Systems India Ltd (APPSIL).

ABB India will now focus on new-age products and services, with only a 7-8% exposure to projects. It is in line with the Swiss-Swedish parent’s global restructuring to exit the PG business and make it a pure play on automation and digitalization.

Investors have already seen the gains. For September quarter, revenues excluding PG segment, rose 17% year-on-year to 1,746 crore. This was helped by the motion and electrification segments that together comprise 75% of the business.

Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd estimates the return on invested capital of the residual business to grow from 21.3% in calendar year 2018 to 30% in 2021.

That said, while order flows grew 5% year-on-year during the September quarter, there may be volatility in the near term due to the economic slowdown. After all, the restructured ABB India will now have to tap opportunities from smart cities’ projects and private sector enterprises such as automobiles, which could be weighed down by the slowdown.

Meanwhile, ABB India investors get one share of APPSIL for every five held. The PG business revenue was marginally down in the September quarter and profit fell by 23% year-on-year. The PG segment’s 41% jump in order flows may play out favourably when the entity lists in the near future.

Blackstone forms joint venture with Hiranandani for logistics foray

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: US-based private equity major Blackstone Group has entered into a 50:50 joint venture with realty developer Hiranandani Group to build, own and operate Industrial, logistics and warehousing assets across India.

This marks foray on Blackstone, one of the largest owners of warehousing spaces globally, into India’s logistics sector after emerging as the owner of the country’s largest office real estate  portfolio here.

Though this venture, both the entities will be investing over Rs 2,500 crore initially to develop the 12 million sq ft industrial and warehousing assets portfolio of Hiranandani’s logistics venture GreenBase  and additional assets built up coming through acquisitions of land or warehousing assets in other locations.

The platform will initially include Hiranandani GreenBase’s 267 acres in Pune, 115 acres in Chennai’s industrial suburb Orangadum, 73 acres in Nashik and around 25 acres in Durgapur, West Bengal.

ET was first to break the story about both the entities being in advanced talks for this joint venture first on October 26.

Logistics is one of the biggest asset classes for Blackstone globally as it is the largest owner of warehousing spaces. It has so far invested over $50 billion in this segment and owns 565 million sq ft of warehousing space.

In India, Blackstone has so far committed over $6.6 billion across 35 transactions. It owns over 115 million sq ft office spaces and 5.5 million sq ft retail space in the country. However, this will be the first time the global investor will be infusing funds into logistic ventures.

“There could be short-term hiccups, which happens in every economy, but we are certainly on path to become a $5 trillion economy. We have a are very bullish view on the economy in the long term. Logistics and warehousing will be one of the major beneficiaries of this growth,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director, Hiranandani Group while referring to the decision of investing in logistics.

Blackstone declined to comment for the story.

Apart from the Hiranandani joint venture, Blackstone is also in advanced talks with Allcargo Logistics to pick up around 70% stake in its 9 million sq ft warehousing portfolio. The New York-headquartered global investor is expected to be investing over $150 million through both the transactions including $90 million for majority stake in Allcargo Logistics. The private equity firm is said to have invested $60 million for picking up stake in Hiranandani’s GreenBase.

The joint platform is looking to deliver industrial and warehousing assets close to 12 million sq ft, which GreenBase already has under pipeline, in the next 5-7 years. The additional asset built up coming through other acquisitions of land or warehousing assets in other locations would be another 3-5 million.

In December last year, Hiranandani Group started its new vertical to develop industrial and logistics parks across the country. Apart from its own land bank of more than 500 acres in different parts of the country reserved for this purpose, the company is looking to acquire new land parcels either directly or through partnership and joint venture model in strategic locations.

Following the implementation of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) and emergence of ecommerce, Indian logistics and warehousing sector is headed towards transformative growth. The government’s decision to accord infrastructure status to the logistics industry is allowing developers access low-cost funds for the development.

Given the fundamental shifts across the industrial and logistics sector in the past two years, coupled with increasing demand for quality space, developers are more likely to build compliant, large-sized spaces.

Blackstone and Hiranandani’s investment into this sector is strategic as well as opportunistic given the structural reforms like the Goods & Services Tax (GST), road infrastructure , Make in India initiative, which augurs very well for the industrial and logistics sector .

The implementation of the GST propelled India’s logistics and warehousing absorption to an all-time high of over 24 million sq ft in 2018, recording a growth rate of over 40% compared to 2017, showed data from CBRE South Asia that estimated the rising interest of prominent players is likely to result in the country’s warehousing stock to touch 500 million sq ft by 2030.

Mukesh Ambani bets big on drones, SaaS startups. Strengthens ecommerce play

“Source:- Economic Times”
RIL’s new investments

Reliance Industries is going all out to support startups in the country, but its investment thesis point towards strengthening its soon-to-be launched ecommerce venture. The pilot for the ecommerce has reportedly begun, but there is no specific timeline on when it will be launched formally. Recently, the company announced major investments in drone startup Asteria Aerospace and NowFloats Technologies.

Flying high

The investment in Bengaluru-based drone startup Asteria Aerospace for Rs 23.12 crore, was done through Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd. The investment will give RIL a 51.78% holding in Asteria Aerospace. Reliance has also proposed to invest a further Rs 125 crore in the drone startup. The investment which is expected to be completed by December 2021, Reliance will increase its shareholding to 87.3%. On the commercial front, Asteria says it provides drone-based services to survey, inspect and monitor assets in industries such as oil and gas, mining, construction and agriculture. It also works in the security and surveillance sector, supplying drones to military, paramilitary and police forces. (Pic: Asteria Aerospace/Facebook)

Say it with SaaS

Reliance Industries’ subsidiary Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd (RSBVL) has picked up 85 per cent stake in NowFloats Technologies. This startup offers Software As A Solution (SaaS) to small and medium enterprises that enable them to get a digital presence. Its solutions include local content discovery platform, online business management suite, website promotion and marketing solutions. At present the company has around 2,50,000 customers using their products. As Reliance gears up for its ecommerce roll out, getting small stores online will be the key. (Pic: NowFloats Technologies/ Facebook)

Focus on agriculture, healthcare, skill development

In an interview Mukesh Ambani had said, “Jio is a startup built in India, for India, by Indians and we have a special place in our hearts for startups. You may know 80% of the cost of running a startup goes towards cloud and connectivity infrastructure. He added that Jio is ready to take away this cost by making the connectivity and cloud infrastructure absolutely free for budding startups. “I urge all startups to register for their custom designed package on Jio.com and this service will be available from January 1, 2020. Jio will also invest and financially support those startups which have the potential to address India’s big needs in agriculture, healthcare, education and skill development which will boost the creation of new livelihood,” he added.

Picking up stakes

In the last two years, Mukesh Ambani has picked up stakes in over 20 startups and about half-a-dozen small companies. Ambani and his merger & acquisition team have been extremely busy past few months, cherry-picking nearly two dozen startups with visible potential. In April, the company acquired artificial intelligence platform Haptik in a Rs 700 crore deal.

The Haptik story

Haptik is one of the world’s largest conversational AI platforms and counts Samsung, Coca-Cola, Future Retail, KFC, Tata Group, Oyo Rooms and Mahindra Group among marquee clients. Last March, Reliance Jio announced integration of its digital music service, JioMusic, and OTT platform Saavn that powers Amazon Alexa in India. The combined entity, valued at over $1 billion, then brought in JioSaavn to compete with the likes of Amazon Music, Apple Music and Gaana.

Will Fynd challenge Amazon & Flipkart?

In August this year, Reliance Industrial Investments & Holdings subsidiary had invested Rs 295.25 crore in Fynd. This deal saw early backers Google, Venture Catalysts and Kae Capital exiting the retail-focused startup. In a filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange, RIL said its subsidiary has an option to further invest Rs 100 crore in Shopsense Retail Technologies, which runs Fynd, by December 2021. The total investment will translate into an 87.6% stake in Fynd, it said. RIL wants to challenge the mights of Amazon.com, and Walmart owned Flipkart with this purchase.

Betting big on e-commerce

Fynd, which was founded in September 2012, acts as a bridge between physical retail stores and buyers online. While Google and the other early investors are exiting the firm, its founders have held onto their equity, said Harsh Shah, who founded the firm along with Farooq Adam and Sreeraman Mohan Girija. RIL said the investment would further enable the group’s digital and new commerce initiatives. Reliance has been beefing up investments and acquisitions in the tech and Internet space as it prepares to launch services like e-commerce on the back of its huge reach through Reliance Jio Infocomm. (With inputs from Rahul Oberoi)

IBM Watson gains momentum with triple digit growth in India

“Source:- Livemint”
BENGALURU : IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) engine Watson, named after its founder Thomas J. Watson, is gaining momentum in India as businesses look to modernize their IT infrastructure backbone.

“We are seeing triple digit growth in India on the back of our data business,” said Vikas Arora, vice president, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software, IBM India & South Asia.

According to research firm IDC, the worldwide AI market grew 35.6% to $28.1 billion last year with IBM taking the lead with 9.2% share of the overall market. While IBM does not share Watson’s growth separately, revenues from its “cloud and cognitive” software, which includes Watson, grew 6.4% to $5.3 billion globally for the third quarter ended September.

Within “cloud and cognitive”, IBM categorises Watson under the “data and AI” group which is moving to its “second chapter” in India.

“It is about businesses moving from experimental to real mission-critical deployments at scale,” Arora said.

In India, IBM is investing heavily in “multi-dimensional research capabilities” in Watson, Arora said. “A lot of the work that we are doing in agriculture, blockchain, and cognitive retail is being led by our research teams here in India.”

In July this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said it will collaborate with IBM to deploy its precision agriculture solution which combines AI and weather technology to obtain and analyse farm level insights.

As part of the partnership, IBM Watson Decision Platform for agriculture will be implemented in three districts – Bhopal, Rajkot and Nanded – as a pilot study to obtain farm level weather forecast and village level soil moisture.

In the high-growth banking, financial and insurance (BFSI) sector, the State Bank of India (SBI) is using IBM’s technology to carry out deep diagnostics and advanced analytics on their data and run personalised campaigns.

Similarly, HDFC ERGO and IBM are collaborating to co-create new AI-based solutions on IBM cloud. According to IBM, its Watson Analytics service has helped Apollo Munich Health Insurance transform their infrastructure and reduce manual efforts by 80% and increase productivity by 5%.

A lot of use cases of IBM Watson originated in India before going global.

For instance, IBM India was the first to use Watson to recruit and retain employees.

“We use data extensively (through our Watson platform) in hiring, which starts from sourcing applicants to final selection,” Arora said. Last year, IBM India started using Watson in an employee retention programme called “predictive retention” in two of its key divisions – services and infrastructure.

To help organisations overcome barriers to adoption of AI, IBM in February announced its “Watson Anywhere” initiative that involves scaling AI across any kind of cloud computing platform. This is to prevent vendor lock-in and start deploying AI wherever the data resides. Arora said.

Big tech is coming for banking: Experts predict Fintech’s 2020

“Source:- Livemint”

Financial technology startups will enter the next decade with a little more street cred than the last time around.

Nearly 60 upstarts focusing on financial services — from Stripe Inc. to Chime Inc. to Plaid Inc. — have garnered valuations of more than $1 billion in recent years, according to CB Insights. Personal loans — a category popularized by fintechs like GreenSky Inc. or Affirm Inc. — are now the fastest growing form of debt in the U.S., Experian data says. And Robinhood sparked a movement toward free stock trading that has shaken the business models of the likes of Charles Schwab Corp. and E*Trade Financial Corp.

Still, analysts and experts say there’s more to come. Sweeping mergers and acquisitions have transformed some of the industry’s largest incumbents in payments, who are gearing up for a bigger fight for market share with newcomers. And regulators are looking to have more say over how technology companies venture into financial services.

Here’s our annual list of the most important trends, challenges and companies to watch in the New Year.

Exit Strategies

Mergers and acquisitions have historically been small and rare in the fintech space, but that changed in a big way in 2019. Fiserv Inc., Fidelity National Information Services Inc. and Global Payments Inc. did a series of deals that transformed payment processing in the U.S. More recently, PayPal Holdings Inc. made its largest acquisition ever and Charles Schwab announced it would buy TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. for about $26 billion. That frenzied pace of deal-making might continue through (at least some of) 2020.

Lindsay Davis, senior intelligence analyst, CB Insights: “Wealth management will likely see more consolidation from incumbents, who are under pressure to compete for next-gen customers and an army of virally growing fintech apps who have abstracted the client relationship away from the old guard. Charles Schwab buying TD Ameritrade is just the beginning of more strategic consolidation to come.”

Matt Harris, partner, Bain Capital Ventures: “I think there is a window during the first half of the year for IPOs, but once summer hits people will be fundamentally distracted by the election. I certainly don’t think it will be fast and furious.”

Regulatory Scrutiny

Memorably, in 2019 Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook Inc.’s plan to overhaul the world banking system in front of Congress. (Legislators were not amused.) Our experts think there’s plenty more government scrutiny ahead for financial technology players. That’s even though regulators including the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. have sought to encourage banks to work with newer technologies like alternative data in their underwriting in an attempt to bring more people into the financial services ecosystem. Companies will need to adjust their strategies accordingly.

Alyson Clarke, principal analyst, Forrester: “Regulators are going to start taking a closer look and scrutinizing artificial intelligence. The whole Apple Card and the supposed gender bias — I think we’ll see more things like this surface. Transparency in AI is critical and ethics in AI is critical and it needs regulatory oversight.”

Vanessa Colella, Chief Innovation Officer, Citigroup Inc.: “We want to make sure the people who are transacting are who they say they are. As we get to 40 billion devices online, you can see it’s not just about KYC, or Know Your Customer, it’s KYM, or Know Your Machine — and being sure that, as these transactions are happening at the edge, that you’re able to validate what the machine is, and whether the machine has the permission and the capability to make that transaction.”

The Rise of Digital Banks

Chime, the leading U.S. digital bank, is now valued at $5.8 billion. That makes it more valuable than some of the country’s largest banks, including New York Community Bancorp, CIT Group Inc. or Synovus Financial Corp. It’s part of a new class of entrants, known as “challenger banks” or “neo-banks,” that’s raised more than $3 billion in venture funding in the first three quarters of this year. With that has come millions of customers. Will they remain loyal? Or will traditional lenders be able to win them back?

Frank Rotman, founding partner, QED Investors: “While these neo-banks can’t yet match the complete suite of banking products that a traditional branch-based bank can, this doesn’t matter to the typical consumer because they rarely, if ever, use any of the hundreds of products that are in a bank’s arsenal. So we’ll be talking about challenger banks in 2020 and in 2021 and in 2022 and eventually the ‘challenger’ title will be dropped because they’ll be major players in the ecosystem.”

Mitch Siegel, principal, KPMG: “I do believe 2020 is an arms race: You’re going to see a lot of people launching digital banking initiatives. Personalization is what’s changed that game. Cross-selling without personalization seems sleazy but if you can personalize offers, and give me things that are high probability that I actually want them, I’m OK with you trying to sell me other products and services. Make it easy. Know me. Value me. Protect me.”

The Bank of Apple? Big Tech Moves In

If you’ve read this annual post before, you’ll be no stranger to predictions that the technology giants of the world will move deeper in to finance. The pace of those moves accelerated this year, however, with Apple launching a credit card with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Alphabet Inc. announcing a checking product with Citigroup, and Facebook attempting to make a new global currency.

Matt Harris: “I think this is inevitable. Tech companies, large and small, will be looking to incorporate payments, lending and insurance in their business models in the coming years, and the smartest and most capable banks will want to be part of that movement. I do think this raises the stakes for pure fintech startups.”

Frank Rotman: “The trend is broader than ‘tech getting into finance.’ It should be seen as ‘customer-facing organizations’ offering their customers banking products. Many customer-facing organizations have built up trust with their customers — as evidenced by high engagement and high net promoter scores — but don’t want to, nor see the need for, officially becoming a bank. Instead, they can partner with banks that are willing to co-brand or white label their services and offer great banking products to their loyal customers.”

Lindsay Davis: “Netflix could also leverage financial services to compete and enable gig-economy workers and freelancers in the film and TV industry, which have been traditionally too niche to serve, and have a unique set of pain points.”

Pharma sector expected to grow at 10-12 per cent during FY19-22, outlook stable: ICRA

“Source:- IBEF”
ICRA Limited, the rating agency said that the Indian pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow around 10-12 per cent between FY19 and FY22 while maintaining a stable outlook on the sector.

It cited that the growth drivers for the Indian pharma companies are mostly because of the abating headwinds from pricing pressure in the US (which is considered to be the largest regulated market), stable growth for the Indian market driven by increasing healthcare spending and better accessibility along with comfortable balance sheet structure.

Although, ICRA said that the increased cost related to regulatory compliances, mainly for the US market, price controls across markets and compulsory genericisation for Indian market stayed to be the major risks.

“The domestic pharmaceutical industry has gained adequate scale and generic drug development capabilities over a decade of growth which will keep them in good stead to capture bigger opportunities, especially in the speciality/niche segments in the regulated market,” Icra said in a statement. The FY2019-2022 compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to be around 10-12 per cent for domestic pharmaceutical companies, it added.

ICRA said that in FY2019, there was rise in the growth from the US to 12.1 per cent after witnessing a decline of 13.1 per cent in FY2018. “The growth was supported by higher market share for Indian players as several generic MNC players optimised product portfolios along with new product launches,” it added.

In FY2020, the pricing pressure which is led by the consolidated supply chain in US market along with decrease in the faster approvals of the abbreviated new drug application which is expected to remain in mid-single digit compared to low teens in FY2018.

Although, warning was given by ICRA about the growth in US market as it is projected to remain at high single digit to low double digit and will witness some troubles as there are relatively moderate proportion of large size drugs that are going off patent, adoption of generic medicine is reaching saturation levels in the US market and high regulatory scrutiny as reflected in increased issuance of warning letters/import alerts.

The company further said that the major concerns are the productivity of research and development expenditure, operational risk related to increased level of due diligence by regulatory agencies and price controls.

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