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India-US ties promoted in sustained manner by Trump: Report

“Source:THE HINDU”

The CFR in its special report Trump’s Foreign Policy are Better Than They Seem said President Trump “deserves credit for promoting strategic ties with India in a sustained manner”.

The Trump administration has worked to make India a more prominent part of its regional strategy, a top American think-tank has said in a report, lauding President Donald Trump for promoting strategic ties with India in a “sustained manner”.

Asserting that the Trump administration has maintained the success story of US-India relations initiated by George W Bush, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in its report gives the US President a high B+ grade when it comes to America’s ties with India.

The CFR in its special report Trump’s Foreign Policy are Better Than They Seem said President Trump “deserves credit for promoting strategic ties with India in a sustained manner”.

The Trump administration has worked to make India a more prominent part of its regional strategy. After changing the name of US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command in May 2018, the United States is now planning its first tri-service exercise with the Indian military, said the report authored by former US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill.

The report said that New Delhi has accordingly responded with bold initiatives of its own.

“Although it has not entirely endorsed the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, it has applauded the strategy’s declared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region—a concept first articulated by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys an exceptionally close relationship,” the CFR said.

In addition, India has quietly—and sometimes not so quietly—begun to cooperate militarily with the US in significant ways even in peacetime, said the report, in which Blackwill argues that even though many of Trump’s actions have been impetuous and the president oversees a chaotic and often dysfunctional policymaking process, some of his individual foreign policies are better than his critics give him credit for.

Blackwill points to what he sees as a much-needed toughening of US policy toward China, a justified US withdrawal from Syria and disengagement from Afghanistan, and closer relations with India, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, said CFR President Richard N Hass in the forward to the report.

Observing that it is no wonder that Trump is not given sufficient credit for his foreign policies, the report said that after more than two tumultuous years in office, the president has disrupted a whole series of conventions in the international system, some of them undoubtedly needed, but adopted few follow-on strategies and little or no implementation.

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Picture Perfect: Panasonic unveils full-frame mirrorless Lumix S series starting at Rs 2 lakh

“Source:THE ECONOMIC Times”

NEW DELHI: Panasonic on Monday launched its first full-frame mirrorless Lumix S series with two models for the Indian market.

LUMIX S1 is priced at Rs 199,990 and with 24-105mm F4 lens, will cost Rs 267,990 while S1R is priced at Rs 299,990 (body only) and Rs 367,990 with a 24-105mm F4 lens.

The series — LUMIX S1 and S1R cameras with 24MP and 47.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor, respectively — is based on the L-Mount standard, which provides uncompromised imaging experience, the company said in a statement.

“The new Lumix S series boasts intuitive control, a rugged design for heavy-field use, durability and expandability, and is suitable for professional photography and videography,” said Sandeep Sehgal, Business Chief, Panasonic India.

“The Lumix S Series showcases our commitment to India and we are extremely confident to achieve double-digit market share in the next two years,” he added.

The LUMIX S Series comes with industry-leading video recording performance, an effective image stabilization, rich gradation and superior colour reproduction.

Lumix S1and S1R offers a high- speed, high- precision AF system based on advanced control technology over the lens, the sensor and the new “Venus Engine” enable the user to capture the target in sharp focus without fail.

“The imaging industry is a complex and demanding space and we have brought in defining changes by listening to our users and continuous investment in R&D to bring in industry-first technologies,” added Manish Sharma, President and CEO, Panasonic India and South Asia.

LUMIX S1R features a High Resolution mode for the first time as a mirrorless full-frame camera to enable 187MP ultra-high precision photo with a pixel shift technology shooting

 

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FPIs remain bullish on Indian Markets, pour in Rs. 11, 096 cr in April so far

“Source: Business Standard”

Foreign portfolio investors were net buyers for the previous two months as well, infusing a net sum of Rs 11,182 crore in February and Rs 45,981 crore in March.

Foreign investors have pumped in a net sum of Rs 11,096 crore into the Indian capital markets in April so far, driven by global and domestic factors.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPI) were net buyers for the previous two months as well, infusing a net sum of Rs 11,182 crore in February and Rs 45,981 crore in March.

According to depositories data, FPIs invested a net amount of Rs 13,308.78 crore in equities and pulled out Rs 2,212.08 crore from the debt segment during April 1-12, taking the total net investment to Rs 11,096.70 crore.”We are seeing this positive rally since February largely due to the rising confidence in having a stable government post elections. The fear of economic slowdown in the developed world has increased prospects of foreign money in the Indian market,” said Harsh Jain, COO at Groww.

A dovish stance by central banks globally has also contributed to this trend, analysts said.

“The foreign inflows since February are due to the shift in stance on monetary policy outlook by various central banks globally. This along with the expectation of a positive outcome from the US-China trade agreement bolstered the risk-on sentiments among foreign investors,” said Himanshu Srivastava, senior research analyst, manager research at Morningstar.

However, India is not the only country benefitting from the global factors as the trend is similar in other emerging markets as well. India is in the midst of general elections and any surprise on the political or economic growth front could potentially reverse the ongoing trend, he added.

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India, Sweden ink pact to collaborate on solutions for Smart cities, clean tech

“Source: IBEF”

New Delhi: India and Sweden Thursday launched a joint programme that will work towards addressing a range of challenges around smart cities and clean technologies among others.

The programme was co-funded by Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Swedish agency Vinnova.

Vinnova will provide funding to Swedish participants up to 2,500,000 Swedish Krona (around Rs 1.87 crore) as grant. On the Indian side, conditional grant of up to 50 per cent (with a limit of Rs 1.5 crore) per project will be provided to the Indian partners.

“The India-Sweden Collaborative Industrial Research and Development Programme will see Swedish and Indian innovators work together and develop solutions that benefit both sides,” Klas Molin, Ambassador of Sweden to India, said.

He added that India, with its strong talent pool and scale with over a billion people, will play an important role for developing solutions that can address challenges related to healthcare, transportation and public safety.

“We are looking at deepening cooperation in the areas of smart cities, energy, digitalisation, life sciences as well as developing our startup communities,” he said.

Molin highlighted that a ‘triple helix’ model of innovation that involves participation of government, industry and academia would be useful as these partners can work towards using new technologies like artificial intelligence to develop solutions that help meet goals of sustainable development.

He cited the examples of Swedish companies like Volvo and Ericsson that have been present in the Indian market for many years and pointed out that new entrants like IKEA also have drawn up aggressive expansion plans to tap into the opportunity here.

Molin batted for putting in place free trade pact (FTA) saying “the need for regional and bilateral agreements is important” as industries need predictability.

Negotiations for the much-delayed pact between European Union (which Sweden is a part of) and India have been on for many years now.

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India, Netherlands agree to strengthen ties

“Source:JAGRAN JOSH”

Though official relations between the two nations were established in 1947, Indo-Dutch contacts go back to more than 400 years.

India and the Netherlands on April 11, 2019 discussed ways to strengthen bilateral, political and economic ties, including boosting cooperation at the United Nations and other international forum.

This was discussed during the foreign office consultations held in New Delhi, in which the Indian side was led by A Gitesh Sarma, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs and the Dutch delegation by Johanna (Yoka) Brandt, Secretary General, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Key Highlights 

• India and the Netherlands share a multi-faceted relationship. The two nations used the dialogue exchange as an opportunity to review the entire extent of bilateral relations, including political, economic, commercial, scientific and cultural cooperation. They exchanged views on regional and multilateral issues, including cooperation at the United Nations and other international forum.

 India welcomed the participation of the Netherlands as the partner country for the 25th edition of the CII-DST Tech Summit scheduled to be held in New Delhi in October 2019.

• The two nations also underlined the importance of sustaining exchanges at all levels, including the high level.

 

India-Netherlands Relations

 Though official relations between the two nations were established in 1947, Indo-Dutch contacts go back to more than 400 years.

• The main plank of the bilateral ties has been the strong economic and commercial relations. The two countries also share common ideals of democracy, pluralism and the rule of law.

• Since the early 1980s, the Dutch Government has identified India as an important economic partner. The bilateral relations underwent further intensification after India’s economic liberalisation in the early 1990s.

 In 2006, former Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende’s Government declared India, along with China and Russia, as priority countries in Dutch foreign policy. The successful visit of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to India in June 2015 further set the stage to take the ties between the two nations to the next level.

 In 2017, PM Modi visited Netherlands, during the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between India and the nation.

 In terms of trade and investment, India has strong economic interests in the Netherlands, which, in the financial year 2016-17, was the fifth largest investor of FDI into India and the 28th largest trading partner globally.

 The Netherlands is home to a number of multinational and other companies, many of which have their production sites and business operations in India.

• Coming to the diaspora, the Netherlands has the second largest population of people of Indian origin in Europe, next only to the UK.

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Best Start to Financial Year for the Primary Market in 3 years

“Source: IBEF”

The financial year 2019–20 (FY20) has seen the best start for the primary market in the last three years, with the initial public offers (IPOs) of Metropolis Healthcare and Polycab India raising Rs 2,550 crore on the back of strong response from institutional investors.

The fund mobilisation in April 2019 is highest in the last nine months, since July 2018, when two companies had raised Rs 3,925 crore from the primary market. In April last year, not a single company hit the market to raise funds via this route, while in April 2017, S Chand & Company — the sole IPO — had raised Rs 728 crore.

As regards the recent offers, qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) quota in Polycab India was over-subscribed by a whopping 92 times, while that in Metropolis Healthcare by 9 times, exchange data shows.

Analysts attribute this to a renewed buying interest by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) in the secondary market, which saw the S&P BSE Sensex and the Nifty50 hit their respective new lifetime highs last week. In the past month alone, both these indices have rallied 6 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively. FPIs have pumped in net Rs 38,018 crore ($5.5 billion) during this period.

“Investors will lap up issues that are attractively priced, have a good business model and clean management. Things have been improving for such companies mid-and small-cap market segment in the secondary market and such companies are also finding takers in the primary market as well,” said G Chokkalingam, founder and managing director at Equinomics Research.

Going ahead, experts say, the fundraising trend in the primary market will depend on how the secondary market performs in the backdrop of the outcome of general elections and global cues.

Pranav Haldea, managing director at PRIME Database, for instance, believes that election outcome will have a direct bearing on fundraising plans of companies. According to him, if the elections throw up a fractured mandate, companies are likely to allow their approval to lapse. A stable government, on the other hand, could see a flurry of IPOs get launched.

There are 64 companies that have Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (Sebi) approval to raise over Rs 63,000 crore and another eight wanting to raise about Rs 7,600 crore and are awaiting regulatory approval, data shows.

“This pipeline can vanish quickly in case markets are volatile and a bearish sentiment prevails. Already in 2018-19, nine companies that were to collectively raise Rs 6,495 crore, let their Sebi approval lapse despite approvals being valid for a period of one year and after having incurred a lot of time and cost,” Haldea said.

The financial year 2018-19 (FY19) saw fundraising through IPOs drop by a huge 81 per cent to Rs 16,294 crore from Rs 83,767 crore in the previous financial year. The response to IPOs was further affected by the poor listing performance of IPOs of the year.

Munish Aggarwal, director (capital markets) at Equirus Capital, too, believes the fundraising activity in the primary market could slow in case the elections were to spring a surprise.

“The secondary markets are factoring in a stable government at the Centre. In case of a surprise, the benchmark indices will correct. As a result, the primary market activity too will slow and wait for the secondary markets to stabilise,” he says.

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Some reforms in India show benefits of digitalisation: IMF

“Source:THE ECONOMIC TIMES”

WASHINGTON: Some reforms in India have shown the benefits of digitalisation which has also reduced the opportunities for discretion and fraud, the IMF said in its latest report on Wednesday.

The introduction of e-procurement in India and Indonesia has also increased competition and led to better quality of construction, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest edition of the fiscal monitor report released ahead of the its annual spring meeting with the World Bank.
“Some reforms in India show the benefits of digitalisation and reducing opportunities for discretion and fraud,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest edition of the fiscal monitor report released ahead of the its annual spring meeting with the World Bank.

“For example, the adoption of an electronic platform for managing a social assistance programme in India resulted in a 17 per cent decline in spending with no corresponding decline in benefits,” it said.

Similarly in Andhra Pradesh, the use of smart ID cards that are used to identify beneficiaries of specific programmes and improve beneficiaries’ access to information helped reduce leakage by 41 per cent relative to the control group, it said.

According to the Fiscal Monitor report, studies on public procurement show that the design of procedures can have a significant impact on the prices and quality of products.

The introduction of e-procurement in India and Indonesia also increased competition and led to better quality of construction, it said.

External scrutiny by Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), parliaments and civil society helps safeguard the integrity of public finances and hold civil servants and elected officials accountable, the IMF said, adding that focused audits can help fight corruption by identifying waste and miss-management.

“For example, social audits have been in place in India since 2005 to oversee the implementation of a large job guarantee programme  and to fight corruption in the programme,” it said.

These audits were endorsed and supported by the Indian SAI and relied on the strong and direct participation of citizens, the IMF said, adding that SAIs also help promote integrity by reviewing the reliability of the internal control and audit framework.

In its fiscal report, the IMF said the interim federal government budget of February 2019 envisages a slower pace of adjustment than previously planned, primarily due to the newly announced rural farm income-support scheme.

“IMF staff projections are that the achievement of the federal government deficit target of three per cent of GDP will likely be delayed and that the debt target of 40 per cent of GDP will be achieved after 2024,” it said.

On the other hand in China, the government plans a more proactive fiscal stance for 2019 that would include reductions in the value-added, personal income and corporate income tax rates.

General government debt is projected to rise over the medium term to over 72 per cent of the GDP by 2024, the IMF added.

 

 

 

 

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India has world’s second largest startup ecosystem, believe youth delegate at ECOSOC Youth Forum

“Source: THE ECONOMIC TIMES”

UNITED NATIONS: India has the second largest startup ecosystem in the world and the median age of founders of these enterprises is only 31 years, a youth delegate from India said at the UN.

India’s young population is scripting remarkable success stories, said youth delegate Seema Pujani at an interactive round-table on ‘Looking to the Future: A dialogue on the High-level Political Forum (SDG) Summit’ during the ECOSOC Youth Forum here on Tuesday.

India today has the second largest startup ecosystem in the world, she said. “With a median age of about 29 years, India is one of the youngest countries in the world. As a substantial segment of the Indian electorate, the youth stand to influence policymaking in the country.

“The median age of founders of these enterprises is only 31 years. Youth in India are also behind forging new alliances and partnerships across the government, civil society, business and academia which are critical for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Pujani said.

Young Indians are overcoming challenges and shining bright in all walks of life, she said. “Be they athletes like Dipa Karmakar and Hima Das or countless young entrepreneurs, artists, authors, engineers, doctors, lawyers and civil servants, India’s young population is scripting remarkable success stories and making confident strides into the future,” the youth delegate said.

Pujani pointed out that youth empowerment and inclusive social development are at the heart of flagship programmes of the Indian government that seek to target gender equality, increased access to financial services, digital connectivity, skill development and higher education, universal health coverage, sanitation and housing for all.

 

 

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Solar Energy Generation in India: Lighting Lives!

“Source:IBEF”

The generation of power from solely renewable sources like solar energy is a prime focus of India’s energy planning. Started in the early 1970s, the process of creating a sustainable base in the form of renewable energy resources has the support of the Indian government, and steps are being taken to meet and exceed the solar energy generation goals set by the country.

Statistics speak volumes

Solar energy generation is an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds in India. The solar installed capacity in the country at the end of Q3 CY 2018 was about 26 GW, a 53 percent increase compared to 17 GW of solar installed as of Q3 CY 2017. Initially, the National Solar Mission of the government of India had set a target of achieving 20 GW solar capacity by 2022. However, the dedicated steps undertaken by the government to reach the target have helped the country achieve this goal in a phenomenally short amount of time which is four years ahead of the agreed-upon schedule.

Today, the average price of generating solar electricity is 18% lower than the price of generating electricity from coal-based fuel sources. India’s energy goals have been revised in view of the exceedingly good work done in the area. In January 2015, the Indian government released a new and expanded solar plan. Under this new target, India hopes to get US$ 100 billion in solar power investments, 40 GW of solar energy generation solely from rooftop units, and another 60 GW of overall solar capacity by 2022. In total, this means that India hopes to generate 100 GW of solar capacity in the next four years. This is quite a tall order when you consider that the end-to-end solar capacity of the whole world was around 303 GW in 2017. However, owing to marked improvements in the technological field of solar thermal power storage makes India dream a real possibility even on such a short timeline.

Growth of solar energy power generation in India

While it should be noted that coal resources remain the king of power generation in India with thermal energy making up for a whopping 79% of Indian power generation, solar and other renewable sources like hydro power, biomass, wind energy, etc. are making their presence as viable alternatives known clearly. Even though India’s solar capacity has reached the 20 GW milestone, solar energy accounted for 1.67% of the total electricity generation in the country.

When it comes to year-over-year growth though, solar is the clear winner. Growing by a stunning 86% from 2016 to 2017, solar became the most area of most powerful source of electricity generation growth. This is all thanks to a number of initiatives that the Indian government has put forward and successfully undertaken over the last few years.

Solar growth initiatives by India

According to the India Solar Project Tracker by Mercom, rooftop solar energy generation accounts for 1.6 GW with the remaining 18.4 GW coming from utility-scale installations. Telangana leads the Indian states with respect to cumulative solar installations, with other states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan following at its heels. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has announced new programmes and policies to offer incentives for rooftop solar project commission to the various distribution companies.

The rapidly increasing demand for electricity in the remotest corners of the country is expected to continue the upward trend. Government initiatives are largely directed toward meeting this increasing demand by adding to the installed generation capacity in a huge way. Owing to the strong and determined focus on promotion of renewable energy by the Indian government, India now holds the third spot among a total of 40 countries on the EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index. As per the list of electricity accessibility released by the World Bank in 2017, India rose to the 26th rank by moving up 73 spots.

India is also likely to become the first country in the world to use LED bulbs for all of its lighting needs by the year 2019. The Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) operating under the broad marquee of Unnati Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) has already made inroads into achieving this goal by distributing a whopping 280 million LEDs to Indian consumers as of December 2017, in addition to over 524.3 million LEDs that private companies had sold in the same period of time. By becoming a country powered solely by LEDs, India stands to save over US$ 6.23 billion every year.

In 2015, approximately 1 million solar lanterns were sold in India which helped to reduce the dependency on kerosene. In addition to solar home lighting systems and solar street lighting installation projects, the government of India also distributed over 1.4 million solar cookers in the country.

In 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Solar Alliance (ISA) of over 120 countries, in collaboration with the French President Francois Hollande at Gurgaon. The primary focus of this organisation is to promote and develop solar energy products particularly in countries in and around the two Tropics. Initiatives such as the 10-year tax exemption offered on solar energy projects, greenhouse gas emission reduction policies, as well as the plan to specify regulations for the use of drones in the arena of solar power plants, are just a few steps that the government of India is taking to achieve the energy goals set for 2022.

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India to be third largest economy by 2030: Jaitley

“Source: IBEF”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said India is expected to become the third largest economy in the world by 2030 with GDP touching USD 10 trillion, helped by consumption and investment growth.

Currently, the size of the Indian economy is about USD 2.9 trillion, he said while addressing students of the Shri Ram College of Commerce here.

“We keep oscillating between fifth and the sixth largest economy, depending on the dollar rate. As we look at the years ahead, we would be USD 5 trillion by 2024 and USD 10 trillion by 2030 or 2031.

“That’s when we will be amongst first three – US, China and India and then of course, we would in the rat race of the big three wanting to catch up with much mightier competitors. So the sheer size and opportunities is going to expand,” he said.

Talking about avenues of growth for the next 20 years, the finance minister listed infrastructure creation, rural expansion and gender parity, among others.

Jaitley, himself an alumnus of the college, said the 2011 Census showed that 21.9 per cent of India’s population lived below the poverty line (BPL) and with the present rate of growth, this might have further reduced to 17 per cent today.

It should shrink to 15 per cent by 2021 and further down to single digits by 2024-25, he said.

At the same time, the middle class population would increase to 44 per cent from 29 per cent in 2015, he said citing a study.

“Therefore as you look ahead you would see poverty deplete, you will see an exponential growth of middle class and probably by 2030 almost half of India would be in that category (middle class),” he said.

“Going by the data, the size of India middle class would be four times the size of BPL when 2024 general elections takes place and therefore we have to see (whether) public discourse is still behind the curve or it takes the curve further,” he said.

So, consumption will get a boost with rising number of middle class, he said, adding that infrastructure creation, both rural and urban, would also help accelerate the growth process.

He also said some sectors like infrastructure and railways need further fillip.

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India to be among top-10 media markets by 2021: Study

“Source:IBEF “

India is expected to be among the top-10 entertainment and media markets globally by 2021 in terms of absolute numbers, according to a joint study by ASSOCHAM-PwC.

The country’s per capita media and entertainment spending is likely to be capped at USD 32 or Rs 2,080 by 2021, the study noted.

By some estimates, India is among the fastest growing OTT markets in the world and will be one of the top-10 by 2022, it said.

The market size is expected to reach USD 52.68 billion in 2022 from USD 30.36 billion in 2017, it claimed.

“It (India) is set to be in the top 10 entertainment and media markets globally by 2021 in terms of absolute numbers,” the study said.

It attributed growth of OTT content to increasing penetration of smartphones in the country and continuous rise in data consumption.

The OTT market (transactional video on demand and subscription video on demand) is set to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1 per cent during the period 2017-2022.

“During the same period in India, the segment is expected to grow from USD 297 million to USD 823 million in 2022 at a CAGR of 22.6 per cent. With increasing smartphone penetration and lower data tariffs, VoD is showing promising growth,” the report said.

Globally, the industry has recently witnessed a shift in focus from content and distribution to user experience.

“India’s per capita media and entertainment spend will be capped at USD 32 (about Rs 2,080 ) by 2021. The spend is much lower than that of China, which will stand at USD 222 (Rs 14,430 ) for the same period, and that of the USA, which will have the highest spend at USD 2,260 USD (Rs 1.46 lakh),” the study said.

The large number of choices in the video-on-demand segment has spoilt consumers in India, the study noted.

“Hotstar has had a first-mover advantage in the OTT space in India. Other top players in the OTT ecosystem include Voot, SonyLIV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Eros Now and ALTBalaji. Start-ups such as Arre and YuppTV are an additional presence,” it added.

In India OTT players, including Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Eros Now, are not only competing among themselves but also also with DTH players and other means.

“With increasing traffic in metro cities, the time spent on viewing videos is also on the rise. Cab aggregators, such as Ola, have installed tablets inside their cabs with a wide range of curated content for passengers at no additional cost,” the report said.

 

 

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iPhone 7 now being made in India

“Source:THE ECONOMIC TIMES”

Apple has started manufacturing the iPhone 7 model in India, in addition to iPhone SE and iPhone 6s, thus widening its ‘Made in India’ portfolio and signalling its intention of developing the country as a manufacturing hub.

“We are proud to be producing iPhone 7 in Bengaluru for our local customers, furthering our long-term commitment in India,” said Apple in an e-mail to ET exclusively.

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron, which makes iPhone SE and 6s models out of its plant on the outskirts of Bengaluru, has been making the iPhone 7 devices in India since the beginning of March.

People familiar with the matter said that a price drop for the iPhone 7 is unlikely with analysts saying the company will invest the margins made from these devices into a more aggressive sales and marketing play.

The cost of making iPhone 7 devices in India is cheaper than importing them due to the duty concessions any handset maker gets on local manufacturing, a move aimed at boosting the government’s Make in India initiative.

Apple’s latest move comes after Wistron recently received the government’s approval for its Rs 5,000-crore proposal to expand its manufacturing capabilities with the aim of locally producing high-end Apple devices.

The cost of making iPhone 7 devices in India is cheaper than importing them due to the duty concessions any handset maker gets on local manufacturing, a move aimed at boosting the government’s Make in India initiative.

Apple’s latest move comes after Wistron recently received the government’s approval for its Rs5,000-crore proposal to expand its manufacturing capabilities with the aim of locally producing high-end Apple devices.

“iPhone 7 is a low risk kind of product for Apple to make out of India. To that extent, it (local manufacturing of iPhone 7) is about revalidating Apple’s India manufacturing capability before they scale up to other models,” said Navkender Singh, research director at IDC India.

He added that Apple will make more money at the same price points, owing to higher margins now.

“They will use the funds in their channels, for market development purposes most likely,” he said ruling out price cuts. “Apple is price conscious.”

Apple is coming off its weakest year – 2018 – since 2014 and has revamped its management team and sales strategy, with analysts saying it’s clear that the company is planning to treat India more as a manufacturing and export hub – also in the backdrop of the China-US geopolitical pressures – rather than a destination for its products’ sale. The high prices of Apple’s devices and competition from Chinese players offering advanced features at far lower prices meant Apple’s market share in India sunk to around 1.2% in 2018, from 2.4% in 2017.
Singh said that locally manufacturing the iPhone 7 won’t drive up Apple’s volume sales in India in 2019 – which are again expected to be “sluggish” – but it is more about testing waters in the manufacturing segment for high-end Apple phones”.

As per news reports, the company seems to be planning to phase out iPhone 6  and 6s from the Indian market, and this could mean that iPhone 7 now becomes the entry level model for India, he added.

Talking about India as a market for Apple as a whole, Singh said that while the device segment remains hard to crack for Apple, it will be interesting to see the launch of the company’s content services. “We think it will take some time for Apple to launch its video streaming service in India. It could easily be a year before we see Apple’s video content in India”.

Apple last week launched a television and movie subscription service, a credit card, and a digital video game arcade as it sought to reposition itself as an entertainment and financial services company, which also makes smartphones.

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India Successfully launches EMISAT satellite

“Source:THE HINDU”

The EMISAT satellite is aimed at electromagnetic measurement.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the country’s newest satellite, EMISAT, from Sriharikota launch station on Monday. The spacecraft meant to provide electronic intelligence to the Armed Forces is the first of its kind for the country.

“Today PSLV-C45 has successfully injected the ISRO-made EMISAT in a 748-km orbit as well as 28 customer satellite in a 504-km orbit as sought by the customers,” ISRO Chairman K. Sivan announced.

It took off on the four-stage PSLV-C45 rocket at 9.27 a.m., along with 28 small commercial satellites from the second launch pad at the spaceport of Sriharikota. EMISAT, with its core payload or brain coming from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was released first.

The EMISAT was released into its planned slot from the fourth stage or PS4, 17 minutes into the launch.

Thereafter, the mission team fired the fourth stage — still carrying the 28 passengers — twice to bring it down to 504 km from Earth.

New PSLV variant

A new fourth variant of the launcher called the QL was used in this mission. Its first stage was fitted (or ‘strapped on’) with two additional rockets. ISRO scientists who were broadcasting the launch live said, “Collision avoidance analysis [or scanning the flight path for any debris that cripples space missions] is a standard practice before all launches from Sriharikota. A few earlier launches were adjusted between 30 seconds to 2 minutes, as we did for PSLV-C42 and PSLV-C43. However there was no such concern for today’s mission.”

At this point, PS4 released the 28 customer payloads of four countries, all done within five minutes.However, this exercise took an hour and 50 minutes since the rocket took off.

4th stage is reused

ISRO has started reusing PS4 as an innovated, low-cost, space-friendly test bed for its own microgravity experiments and those of others. It has been gradually putting additional support systems also on every new PS4; the power generating solar panels are new this time. This is the third such mission.

The PS4-fourth stage hosts three payloads in this mission. It carries an ISRO test on Automatic Identification System (AIS) related to tracking ships on sea.

AMSAT, or the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, India, has sent a payload called the Automatic Packet Repeating System. This is expected to help amateur radio operators to get improved locational accuracy in their tracking and monitoring.

The third one, the Advanced Retarding Potential Anslyser for Ionospheric Studies, has been sent up by ISRO’s university, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology.

The other 28 international satellites — 25 3U type, two 6U type and one 2U type nano satellites — are from Lithuania (two), Spain (1), Switzerland (1) and the United States (24).

All these satellites are being launched under commercial arrangements, ISRO said.

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With Policy In Place, it’s time for India to step up products game

“SOURCE:THE ECONOMIC TIMES”

A recent visit to Israel — meeting innovators, accelerators, academia and the government — has given me an opportunity to understand why it is truly a product nation. Each stakeholder plays a critical role in driving innovation, which makes Israel the melting pot of future technology products.

The visit coincided with the announcement of the National Policy on Software Products in India, laying out an ambitious vision to scale up product-led technology industry by 10 times in the next  five to seven years. We must work together on the key imperatives to ensure that this target isn’t missed.

From a product standpoint, 2018 was special for us. Freshworks became the first product unicorn from India and Indian SaaS products inched towards the $1-billion revenue mark. Niramai was featured among the Top 100 artificial-intelligence startups globally by CBinsights, Sigtuple won the ‘Google Judges Choice Award for Asia’ and John Chambers invested in cybersecurity  product company Lucideus. Interestingly, Indian services companies also stepped up the action on products — HCL Technologies acquired software products from IBM, Tata Consultancy Services launched SaaS product Jile, and EXL Services announced the global rollout of a digital KYC product.

Rapid technology shifts have led to new opportunities as every use case is ripe for disruption . The massively increased consumption across industries creates the platform to build products  for India.

The policy covers the key imperatives of funding, talent and incubation, but more importantly, introduces new ones as well. Building 20 software product clusters across the country will drive innovation from untapped cities, a Product Mission that includes the academia will build research connect, the focus on research and innovation fund will provide the much-needed investment in intellectual property, and initiatives for market access will expand outreach for Indian products.

Last year, the funding scenario regained momentum. While funding saw a 108% rise, more than 70% of the money went to late-stage companies. The corpus of Rs 5,000 crore, earmarked by the government as a Software Product Development Fund to provide risk capital, would do well to divert more funds into B2B or B2C products. Deeptech adoption is growing at 50%, and requires patient capital.

Innovation can only thrive in an environment of shared learning and collaboration. Israel’s  ecosystem follows a culture of strong interconnection which promotes exchange of ideas. In India, despite multiple accelerators, interconnections across diverse initiatives remains inadequate. While many entrepreneurs are willing to share their learnings, product aspirations require a much deeper mentor engagement — well beyond funding based relationships.

Talent is India’s key strength. A two-pronged approach is needed on research collaboration with academia and skill development across product design, product engineering and product management.

India needs to continue to attract global companies to build R&D capabilities here. A holistic ecosystem of innovations, MNCs, researchers and government will promote the interplay of talent, ideas and collaboration. Ten thousand companies, 10X revenue — India’s vision of a thriving software product sector is most exciting, and we are committed to making this real.

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Automakers invest around US$491 million in Indian start-ups in 2018

“Source:IBEF”

Automobile manufacturers have invested around $491 million in 2018 in Indian automobile industry start-ups, led by Essel Green Mobility’s investment of $300 million into Bengaluru-based on-demand AC bus service provider Zipgo, according to market intelligence firm Venture Intelligence.

There were 13 investments during the year. In 2018, Taiwanese two-wheeler manufacturer Kwang Yang Motor, known as Kymco, invested $65 million in Gurugram-based electric two-wheeler maker Twenty Two Motors, while auto major Mahindra and Mahindra invested $40 million in self-drive car company Zoomcar.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the trading arm of Toyota Group, invested around $30 million in Droom Technology, the operator of India’s largest online automobile marketplace by co-leading Series D fundraising of the company. The firms also concluded a pact on the overseas expansion of the used car and motorcycle marketplace business.

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Global toy firms eye India sourcing

“Source:THE HINDU”

Mattel, Funskool in talks; majors exploring options thanks to U.S.-China trade war

A leading international toy maker has started exploring options for sourcing toys from India, due to the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, said a top industry executive.

“The trade war has put pressure on China. Besides, the labour cost is going up significantly in China,” said Arun Mammen, chairman, Funskool India. “As a result, international companies are planning to source not only toys but also other products from India and southeast Asia,” he said. According to him, toy major Mattel had already initiated talks with Funskool, while other players were seriously contemplating alliances.

For nearly three years, Hasbro has been sourcing products from India and SpinMaster recently started importing products from Funskool Goa factory, he said.

Sensing the demand from the overseas market, Funskool established a new plant in Ranipet to meet the needs of SpinMaster, exclusively. Trial production at the unit, which is about 110 km from Chennai, began on Wednesday. The first consignment will be shipped by June.“The world toy market is estimated at $90 billion and India accounts for 0.5% at $450 million. The global market is getting bigger and is expected to grow at 10% CAGR. India has huge potential,” said John Baby, CEO, Funskool India.

In the last 10 years, the Indian toy industry had grown 8-10%, whereas Funskool had grown 10-15%, he said.

“The Goa unit is running at 80% capacity; Ranipet will also touch 80% in two years. After that, we will put up one more unit in the same premises here,” Mr. Baby said.

Funskool said it would end this fiscal with ₹225 crore in revenue compared with ₹235 crore last year. The dip has been attributed to factors such as customs duty hike, demonetisation, GST and discontinuation of a pact with Lego.

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Sebi lifts foreign Investment cap on Corporate bonds

“Source:The Economic Times”

Markets regulator Sebi on Tuesday withdrew the 20 per cent limit on investments by Foreign Portfolio Investors in corporate bonds of an entity.

In a notification, the regulator said the restriction is being withdrawn in accordance with a circular issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

In June last year, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had mandated that no Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) shall have an exposure of more than 20 per cent of  its corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate.

However, the central bank in February lifted the restriction in view of market feedback.

To give effect to the directions of the RBI, the regulator said provisions of its June 2018 circulars with respect to exposure of more than 20 per cent “stands withdrawn with immediate effect”.

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HUL’s former CEO Paul Polman credits Indian arm for success of Global Giant

“Source :The Economic Times”

Success is relative for Paul Polman, who has just concluded a 10-year stint as CEO of the $60-billion Unilever, during which the global consumer products giant made over 50 acquisitions and reported 300% shareholder returns. Giving credit to Hindustan UnileverNSE -0.71 % (HUL), Polman said the Indian subsidiary has been a big driver of Unilever’s success.

In these 10 years, HUL’s business grew 2.5 times, with share price rising seven times. In an exclusive interview to TOI, Polman said,  “I’m grateful for that. And that’s why I not only love this country (India) for a lot of reasons, but also my job was dependent on the success of HUL. If HUL would have had a cold, I would have been sick.” A couple of years ago, India became the second-largest country for Unilever, after the US.

Polman, 62, said his stay at Unilever was longer than an average CEO’s because he was motivated to bring in transformations. “Bringing purpose to the business is a very profitable agenda.y By delivering top line and bottom line growth, we have proved many critics wrong that Unilever cannot grow the two lines together,” said Polman, who was given a farewell in Mumbai at the same hotel where he was first welcomed in 2008 — an event the Dutch leader would never forget as he, along with other board members of HUL, had escaped the fateful 26/11 terror attack.

Polman’s tenure stands out for the decisions he took, some of which irked certain investor factions — from doing away  with giving guidance on quarterly earnings, to changing the compensation system for the long term and to the failed bid to move Unilever’s headquarters out of London. He appeared nonchalant. “Despite a very tough external environment since the crisis (2007-08) in which many companies have disappeared at a higher rate than ever before, I would tend to believe that if we would not have done some of those things, it could have had serious consequences even for our company,” he said.
Pointing out how the changing environment and technological disruptions were altering client-advertising agency relations, Polman said Unilever no longer runs one big advertisement for a year or two. It makes 5,000 pieces of content every day now. “There’s a need to be very close to the market. The speed and the cost at which you can make these ads, as well as the content, is changing. The ad industry is going through a major revolution. And some of the companies have adapted to that faster than  others. This is forcing ad agencies to become agile,” he said.

Though the new tech-based media companies are disrupting the conventional media industry, Polman believes some of them are grappling with basic values. Factors like data privacy and other issues of concern can devalue brands, he said. Unilever, he said, would work with organisations in the value chain that are willing to progress. “I expect that companies like ours — the biggest advertisers — need to be that force for change. You cannot just celebrate the positiveness and say we connect people or we make education available. You also have to take the responsibility of your total impact,” he said.

A small brand can today be equally fast and close to the consumer. In India, for instance, HUL was facing an onslaught from Patanjali, but the latter has been struggling with its supply chain processes. “Unilever in India, despite the big growth of one of the local competitors, has grown the market share seven times,” he said.

 

 

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Indians to benefit as UK lifts cap on PhD-level work Visas

“Source: Economic Times”

LONDON: Indians are among the largest group of professionals set to benefit from a new UK government plan to remove any limit on the number of PhD-level work visas to be granted.

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond announced on Wednesday in a Budget update, referred to as the annual Spring Statement, that from later this year all such highly-qualified roles will be exempt from any cap on the numbers that can apply and come to work in Britain.

“A key pillar of our plan is backing Britain to remain at the forefront of the technology revolution that is transforming our economy. And to support that ambition, from this Autumn we will completely exempt PhD-level roles from the visa caps,” Hammond said in his speech in the House of Commons.

“From Autumn 2019, PhD-level occupations will be exempt from the Tier 2 (General) cap, and at the same time the government will update the immigration rules on 180-day absences so that researchers conducting fieldwork overseas are  not penalised if they apply to settle in the UK,” he added in his statement.

According to the most recent UK Home Office data, Indians form the largest chunk of highly-skilled professionals within the Tier 2 (General) category of work visas, accounting for 54 per cent of all such visas granted in 2018.

Indian nationals also marked the largest increase in the grant of Tier 2 visas last year, up by 6 per cent at 3,023 more visas compared to the previous year. The UK government’s latest PhD-level visa exemption was welcomed by UK universities, who are key employers of international researchers.

“This is fantastic news for Indian researchers who would like to work in the UK, and for UK universities – who thrive on bringing together a diversity of brilliant minds from around the world,” said Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, the main representative body for UK higher education institutions.

“Many of the UK’s  leading researchers, in fields ranging from biomechanics to gender politics, come from India. Outside of Europe, India is the third-largest country of origin for academic staff in the UK,” she said.

Universities UK International said that despite making up only 0.9 per cent of the global population, the UK is responsible for 15.9 per cent of the world’s most highly-cited research articles.

“The achievements are made possibly as a result of the  international community of researchers that work at and with UK institutions,” Stern said.

The new announcement comes soon after doctors and nurses were removed from the cap to address shortages in the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) last year. Currently, only a limited number of visas are issued every year under the Tier 2 skilled worker section of the visa system. The government’s latest announcement is seen as the first step towards the complete removal of a cap on visas for skilled workers in 2021, when a new immigration system comes into force.

“We already issue more skilled worker visas to Indian nationals than to the rest of the world combined, and I am delighted to see many Indian students coming to study at our world universities,” UK immigration minister Caroline Nokes had said following a Migration Dialogue with Indian government officials in January this year.

“Under the new system, operating from 2021, we will always be open to the brightest and best from India, who wish to come to live and work in the UK,” she said.

 

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Ireland Eyes 15-20% growth in Indian Tourist arrivals in 2019

” Source: IBEF”

Ireland is expecting 15-20 percent growth in tourist arrivals from India this year on the back of new promotions offering new experiences, online visa facility and good connectivity.

“India is one of the fastest growing markets for us.

In 2018, an estimated 45,000 Indians travelled to Ireland and going forward we expect 15-20 percent annual growth from the Indian market,” Tourism Ireland director of markets Siobhan McManamy told PTI in an email interaction.

Around 38,000 Indians visited the island of Ireland in 2017, she said.

She said, Indians travelling overseas has grown significantly with rising disposable income and is forecast for the coming years suggest an even greater rise.

The British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS) allows for travel to and around Ireland and the UK on a single visa creating a big opportunity for Ireland, she added.

Indian nationals visiting Republic of Ireland require an Irish visa or a UK visa under the new British Irish Visa Scheme which allows a short stay applicant from India to travel to and around both the UK and Northern Ireland with only one visa, she said.

An online visa application facility for Ireland is available to Indian visitors making the entire process seamless and easy, she added.

Ireland is planning to attract Indians with various festivals, culinary delights, international sporting events, screen tourism among others, she said.

When asked about the connectivity between both the countries, she said, “we have the best connections to Ireland with airlines like Emirates, Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Increasing air connections between India and Ireland is improving and this will further drive growth, she added.

Further, she said, Ireland is planning to focus on the meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) segment from India, which is constantly growing.

“We will continue to pro-actively target Indian MICE business as Ireland has always been a strong player in the Indian market. Since MICE travel and Indian corporates and business are constantly seeking new and unexplored destinations for MICE travel, we are planning to tap this market,” she added.

Ireland is also looking at targeting Free Independent Traveller (FIT) and group independent travel (GIT) and destination wedding segments, she added.

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