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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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).

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.”

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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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India’s services exports grew by over 5 percent to USD 17.70 billion in October: RBI data

“Source:- Economic Times”
Mumbai: India’s services exports rose 5.25 per cent to USD 17.70 billion in October, while imports remained nearly flat at USD 10.86 billion, data from the Reserve Bank of India  showed on Friday. The services exports or receipts were USD 16.82 billion in October 2018, while the imports or payments were worth USD 10.10 billion.

In September, the exports of services were worth USD 17.54 billion and the imports were of the order of USD 11.10 billion, showed the RBI data on India’s International Trade in Services.

India is one of the major economies contributing to the world services export industry. The services sector contributes to about 55 per cent in India’s gross domestic product.

The data for the latest month comes with a lag of 45 days. The data published by the RBI is provisional and undergoes revision when the Balance of Payments data is released on a quarterly basis. KPM HRS

 

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India Among top 10 Improvers in EODB; India Ranks 63 RD Among 190 Countries; 21,778 Start-ups Recognised Under Start-up India Initiative

“Source:- IBEF”
India’s remarkable jump in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2020.

India ranks 63rd among 190 countries improving by 14 ranks from its rank of 77 in 2019. India has improved its rank in 7 out of 10 indicators and has moved closer to international best practices. The 2020 edition of the Report acknowledges India as one of the top 10 improvers, third time in a row, with an improvement of 67 ranks in 3 years. It is also the highest jump by any large country since 2011.

Startup India- reaching new heights, making India a global leader in Innovation

A total of 21,778 startups are now recognised under the Startup India Initiative, of which 2,912 startups have been recognised since 1st June 2019.
The Startup India Hub has 3,42,614 registered users of which 21,540 users have been added since 1st June 2019. With the amendment in Section 54GB of Income Tax Act on August 1st, 2019 the condition of minimum holding of 50 per cent of share capital or voting rights in the startup has been relaxed to 25 per cent.

India’s remarkable jump on the Global Innovation Index

In the past 4 years India’s rank in the GII has improved from the 81st rank in 2015 to the present 52nd rank in GII 2019 report. India became the first developing country to launch the Global Innovation Index (GII) in association with World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Confederation of India (CII).

In order to promote innovation the following measures have been taken:

Final Patent (amendment) Rules, 2019 – published on 17th September 2019 amending The Patents Rules, 2003 has led to significant simplification of rules, especially for startups and MSMEs.

The Patent (Second Amendment) Rules, 2019 published to reduce fees for small entity/MSMEs for processing of patent applications under various sections of the Patents Act, 1970 will incentivise MSMEs to file for more parents.

In order to promote export, the Department of Commerce has undertaken various measures:

Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) has introduced a new Export Credit Insurance Scheme (ECIS) called ‘NIRVIK’ for exporters in which increased insurance cover for export credit has been extended by banks from existing average of 60 per cent to 90 per cent for both Principal and Interest.

Accounts with limits below Rs 80 crore (US$ 11.45 million), the premium rates will be moderated to 0.60 per annum and for those exceeding Rs 80 crore (US$ 11.45 million), it will be 0.72 per annum for the same enhanced cover. It is expected that the initiative will cost about Rs 1,700 crore (US$ 243.24 million) per annum. It will provide comfort to banks, bring down the cost of credit due to capital relief, less provision requirement and liquidity due to quick settlement of claims and will ensure timely and adequate working capital and relief to MSMEs.

To enhance ease of doing business, Deemed Export drawback has been allowed on All Industry Rate of drawback schedule.

An online portal for filing applications under ‘Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA)’ scheme for Specified Agriculture Products has been launched.

Easing Exporters’ claims with ECGC through transparency

A database has been prepared by ECGC for all pending claims and online access on status of claims has been provided. This will be a critical tool for providing information access to exporters.

The online “Origin Management System” gives single access point for all exporters, for all Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) and for all agencies. India has 15 FTAs/PTAs and 7 lakh ‘Certificates of Origin’ are issued annually. The platform will be made live for FTAs as per the concurrence of the concerned partner countries. This process is electronic, paperless and transparent with real time tracking of FTA utilisation at product level and country level. It will also lead to reduced transaction cost and time.

Scheme for Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) formulated to replace existing Merchandise Exports from India (MEIS) scheme. This will be a WTO compliant scheme for promotion of exports. Textiles and all other sectors which currently enjoy incentives up to 2 per cent over MEIS will transit into RODTEP from 1.1.2020. RoDTEP will span all sectors and the revenue foregone will be about Rs 50,000 crore (US$ 7.15 billion).

Infusion of funds for Export Support

A capital of Rs 389 crore (US$ 55.66 million) has been infused into Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) on 21st June 2019. This will provide extra support to exports to emerging and challenging markets like Africa, CIS, Latin America and Asian countries.

A Grant-in-aid (corpus) of Rs 300 crore (US$ 42.92 million) has been contributed to National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) trust on 21st June 2019, thereby, enhancing its risk-taking capacity to support project exports in challenging markets.

Boost to Gem and Jewellery exporters by resolution of various issues like removal of the requirement of paying IGST on re-import of goods which were exported earlier for exhibition purpose/consignment basis. Allowing partial discharge of bonds executed by nominated agencies/banks for import of gold to be supplied to jewellery exporters, thereby enabling nominated agencies/banks to release bank guarantee of jewellery exporters who have fulfilled their export obligation has helped in release of blocked working capital.

National Logistics Policy, 2019

The National Logistics Policy is being prepared with the aim to bring down total logistics cost from 14 per cent to 9 per cent of country’s GDP. The policy aims to boost business competitiveness, drive economic growth and make India a global logistics hub.

The Multi-Modal Transportation of Goods Bill, 2019 has been finalised for approval. This aims at facilitating the movement of goods for exports, imports and domestic trade. It will help to fix accountability and liabilities for violation of its provisions.

Skilling for Logistics Sector

34 Qualification Packs (QPs) for skill development of manpower engaged in Logistics Sector have been developed and finalised in collaboration with Logistics Skill Council. This is the first time that such qualification packs have been developed.

Implementation of Agriculture Export Policy

The Agriculture Export Policy has been approved with an outlay of Rs 206 Crores (US$ 29.47 million) for 2019-20. In order to establish linkage between FPOs and the exporters a portal has been created by Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). About 740 Farmers Producer Organisation (FPO) have been registered under Farmers Connect Portal.

Schemes for backward regions

Budgetary Support under GST Regime to the units located in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and North Eastern States including Sikkim has been made. Rs 1,700 crore (US$ 243.24 million) has been authorised by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) for disbursement to eligible industrial units. Rs 1,692 crore (US$ 242.09 million) already been disbursed by CBIC under the Scheme till 15th November 2019. During the last 6 months, Rs 86 crore (US$ 12.31 million) was disbursed to 420 industrial units under the Special Package to the Himalayan States.

Ensuring level playing field for domestic industry and farmers

For Antidumping the average number of days taken for initiation of anti-dumping investigations has come down to 32 days in 2019 (up to 1st November) as against 259 days in 2016

Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) for the first time ever initiated 2 cases of bilateral safeguards to protect domestic industry from injury. No bilateral safeguard has ever been initiated in the past by DG Safeguards/Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties.

There has been significant drop in the number of days taken to initiate two cases of Global Safeguards. In 2019, the average number of days taken is just 61, as compared the standard 75 days.

 In order to ensure interests of the Indian industry and farmers in FTAs India successfully laid out its stand in Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) India’s key concerns were not addressed. India took a strong stance to protect the interest of domestic producers. This decision will help vulnerable sectors including farmers and the dairy sector as well as small manufacturers, who would have been threatened by RCEP rules.

India has also secured agreement for review of ASEAN FTA (ASEAN-India Free Trade Area-AIFTA) after repeated follow up. This will help in removing rules that affect Indian producers and exporters and will also promote Indian exports and Make in India.

Steel Import Monitoring System (SIMS)

The SIMS will facilitate the Steel Industry by providing advance information about steel imports to all stakeholders including Government, steel industry and steel importers for effective policy interventions. Importers of specified steel products will register in advance on the web portal of SIMS providing necessary information. The registration will be online and automatic, and no human intervention is required.

SIMS has been notified with effect from 1st November 2019.

Trade Facilitation Measures

The completion of negotiation of India-Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) will enable trade promotion between the two countries.

Improving Trade with Bangladesh – Besides the four operational Border Haats across India-Bangladesh border in Tripura and Meghalaya, construction of three Border Haats in Meghalaya, out of six already identified locations (two in Tripura and four in Meghalaya) has been completed.

Merger of Council of Trade and Development and Board of Trade: providing a common platform for addressing stakeholder concerns
This common platform, comprising of representatives from industry, export promotion councils, Government of India and State Governments and representatives from Banking and Finance Sector is playing a critical role in addressing export related concerns, with a focus on addressing these on a priority basis. The first meeting of this common platform took place on the 6th of June 2019.

Special Economic Zone (Amendment) Bill, 2019; first legislation passed by newly formed Government
SEZ (Amendment) Bill 2019 became the first legislation of the newly formed Government to be passed by the Parliament. This will enable any entity to set up a unit in SEZs, including Trusts. This will help boost investments and create new export and job opportunities.

Investments of US$ 1.1 billion has been proposed since the ordinance was promulgated earlier this year.

Better facilities for employees: SEZ units allowed to create facilities/amenities like creche, gymnasium, cafeteria for their exclusive use as a measure towards ease of doing business.

Promoting Foreign Direct Investment

100 per cent FDI has been allowed under the automatic route for coal mining activities including associated processing infrastructure.
100 per cent FDI under automatic route has also been allowed in contract manufacturing.

Providing more flexibility and ease of operations to Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT) entities. All procurements made from India shall be counted towards local sourcing, whether goods are sold in India or exported. Online retail trading permitted up to two years prior to opening brick and mortar stores.

Boost to Make in India in Government Procurement

Progressive amendments have been made to favour local suppliers like procurement up to Rs 50 lakh (US$ 0.07 million) has been exclusively reserved for local suppliers (except in certain cases). Only local suppliers eligible to bid for procurement of items, where there is sufficient local capacity and local competition, irrespective of purchase value.

Bicycle Development Council constituted for the benefit of Bicycle Industry

The Indian bicycle industry is the world’s second largest bicycle industry. To develop the Bicycle industry and small part manufacturers towards global standards a Bicycle Development Council has been constituted.

National Institute of Design (Amendment) Act, 2019

Amendment to National Institute of Design (NID) Act was moved for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha on 6th August 2019 to confer Institute of National Importance status to the four new NIDs Rajya Sabha has passed the Bill. It will be introduced in the forthcoming session of the Lok Sabha for consideration and passing. The four new NIDs at Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Haryana to be declared as Institutions of National Importance on the lines of NID, Ahmedabad. NIDs, Madhya Pradesh and NID, Assam have commenced academic session of 2019-20 from 29th July 2019.

Establishment of the National Traders’ Welfare Board (July 26th, 2019)

A long pending demand of traders has been fulfilled with the constitution of the Board to understand the issues and problems faced by traders and employees in their day to day business operations and for their welfare. The Board shall have a number of representatives from Traders’ Associations as members.

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Indian sugar exports poised to hit record 5 million tonnes this year

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : India, the world’s biggest sugar producer, is poised to break its own export record this year thanks to a flurry of overseas sales in the past few months, prompted by attractive global prices, trade and industry officials said on Tuesday.

Sugar mills in India have done deals to export 2 million tonnes in the new season that began on Oct. 1, 2019, raising hopes that the country would sell at least 5 million tonnes on the world market in the 2019/20 season, nearly a third higher than the previous year.

“Looking at the current trend, I can tell you with a lot of confidence that we’ll be able to export at least 5 million tonnes this year,” said a New Delhi-based dealer from the Indian unit of a global trading firm.

At 5 million tonnes, Indian exports would surpass their previous peak of 4.96 million tonnes shipped in 2007/08 according to trade and industry data. This was spurred by a rally in international prices, a weak Indian rupee and a clutch of government subsidies which made exports lucrative.

“Compared to last year, exports got the momentum this year from the start of the season due to an improvement in sugar prices,” said Rahil Shaikh, managing director of MEIR Commodities India.

A sharp increase in exports from India, also the world’s biggest sugar consumer, could weigh on benchmark prices in New York and London and trim the market share of rivals Brazil, Thailand and Australia, the world’s top sugar suppliers.

Higher sugar shipments from India could intensify a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Brazil has already said India’s subsidies for sugar exports were not in line with WTO rules and would hurt free competition in the global market. Brazil, Australia and Guatemala have questioned the subsidies at the WTO.

India, struggling with surplus sugar supplies, has approved a subsidy of 10,448 rupees ($145.58) a tonne for exports in the 2019/20 season – a move that encouraged mills to clinch overseas sales deals early this year.

Traders have contracted to export raw sugar at an average $300 a tonne and white sugar $330 a tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, three dealers directly involved in the deals said. They did not wish to be identified in line with their organisations’ policy.

In contrast to the 2 million tonnes of exports contracted so far this year, in the first three of the 2018/19 season Indian mills were only able to sell about 850,000 tonnes of sugar.

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India co-living market size to grow more than double by 2025: report

“Source:- Economic Times”
Co-living market size across India’s top 30 cities is expected to grow more than double by 2025 to $13.92 billion from current $ 6.67 billion. The demand for co-living in terms of beds is slated to grow to 5.7 million from 4.19 million, while the share of private beds is likely to rise from 15% to 30% of total demand in the co-living segment, showed a Cushman & Wakefield India report.

The co-living market in India  is evolving at a rapid pace, with investments from national and international institutional investors bringing in much-needed seed capital as well as future rounds of funding thereby allowing a new business model to thrive and aim towards achieving scale.

“Co-living is an evolving sector and is expected to grow more than 2X by 2025 in the top 30 cities which are the major economic centres in the country…Furthermore, as the business evolves, co-living shall transform the face of the rental housing market in urban centres  market in urban centres, similar to what we are witnessing with flex-working in the office rental space,” said Anshul Jain, Country Head & Managing Director-India, Cushman and Wakefield.

The operators of such facilities are tying up with developers for built-to-suit property options – an upcoming trend likely to prevail in the sector. Operators opting for ready to move in properties, which are refurbished and renovated as per their requirements, are showing preference for properties having at least 50-60 rooms.

 

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Europe’s largest intercity bus network plans to enter Indian market

“Source: Business Standard”
FlixBus, largest intercity bus network in Europe, and backed by investors General Atlantic and Silver Lake, is planning to venture into India.

The company operates on the same model as cab service aggregators such as Uber or Ola. It does not own any bus or hire drivers but facilitates operational support, like scheduling, and ticketing, among other things. The company partners regional bus operators, and offers rides across Europe and in the US. It works on the principle of dynamic pricing, through an online platform and a FlixBus app.

“We recently started our recruitment for the Indian market and the project is still in an early business development stage,” said a spokesperson of FlixBus Global over e-mail.

One of the most successful German start-ups, it was launched by Daniel Krauss, André Schwämmlein and Jochen Engert in 2013, after deregulation of the bus market in that country. FlixBus is a subsidiary of FlixMobility, which has also launched train services. The firm works with around 300 independent bus and train entities.

In 2015, FlixBus began expanding internationally, with long-distance networks in France, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands and Croatia, as well as cross-border services to Norway, Spain and Britain. It connects a little more than 2,000 destinations in 30 countries, says the company.

In August, FlixMobility said it had extended a Series-F funding round by partnering with Baillie Gifford, Luxor Capital Group and Odyssey 44, with additional investment provided through funds and accounts managed by BlackRock. The capital raised will be used to fuel further global expansion and to launch a new FlixMobility service, FlixCar. The latter would be a ride sharing platform that will complement the existing FlixBus and FlixTrain networks, as well as the company’s charter platform, said the company.

The funds would also help in attaining market leadership in the US; by 2020, it will also see buses in South America and Asia, it said.

Apart from new investors, existing shareholders include General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity firm, and Silver Lake, a global player in technology investment. The company entered the US markets last year.

The entry of FlixBus could lead to a big shift in intercity transport in India. While there are operators offering online platforms for ticketing and customer support, there is no Uber-like standardisation of services on a large scale.

According to an official survey titled ‘Key indicators of household expenditure on services and durable goods’ in 2014-15, the bus is the most reported means of transport in both rural and urban areas. About 66 per cent of households in rural areas and 62 per cent in urban areas reported expenditure on bus travel.

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Insight – Uncorking the growing wine market in India

“Source: Austrade”
In a country with a population of 1.3 billion and where around 700 million people are above the legal drinking age – a number growing by 19 million a year – India is a market with many opportunities for Australia’s winemakers.

Exposure to new cultures, growth in foreign tourists, overseas education, and rapidly changing demographics are driving wine consumption in India. Despite high tariffs, wine imports registered 14% growth (by value) from last year. This reflects evolving Indian consumer palates over the past decade, making a case for international winemakers to expand their business in India.

With a young population, increasing urbanisation and the perception of wine as a ‘status choice’, India has parallels with other Asian markets where there is a growing acceptance of and preference for wine among the upper and middle classes. As Indian cities attract greater numbers of increasingly sophisticated residents, exclusive wine bars have emerged and the number of restaurants and higher-quality hotels have increased.

The Indian wine market

The number of wine importers in India has been estimated at between 50 and 100 over the past few years. The five largest importers account for around 60% to 70% of imports, with the balance of active importers, perhaps 30 firms, each handling fewer than 10,000 cases per year. Several importers started as distributors of alcoholic beverages other than wine and subsequently added wine to their portfolios. Additionally, some Indian wine producers who seek to offer their customers a full range of options are importing wines that complement their domestic production.

In 2018, India imported 5.2 million litres of wine with an admittedly low value of US$27.4 million (approximately A$40 million). The country imported approximately 550,000 cases of wine, an increase of 75,000 on 2017. While there is a strong market for bottles priced below A$30 at retail, high duties and taxes on imported wine mean importers ideally look to pay a low FOB price – around A$2 to A$3.50 FOB per bottle.

Australia continues to be the leading exporter of wines to India by value and by volume. According to Wine Australia, for the year ending December 2018, Australian wine exports to India grew in volume and value by 50% and 52% respectively. However, this is coming from a fairly low base – 1.5ML with an FOB value of A$5.3 million. Australian wine exports to India were worth US$6.35 million (approximately A$9.3 million) in 2018–19 (April–March). This represents a 22.64% market share of imported wine in India.

There are over 40 Australian wine companies with a presence in India including established brands such as Penfolds, Lindeman’s, Westend Estate, d’Arenberg, Jacob’s Creek, De Bortoli, McWilliam’s and Wines by Geoff Hardy.

The largest exporters of wine to India are Australia, Spain, France and Italy, who combined supply almost 75% of the country’s wine imports. Secondary exporters include Chile, South Africa and Argentina. The European Union previously supplied over half of India’s wine imports yet over the past two years, Australia has surpassed the EU through more competitive prices and lower logistical costs.

India has its own domestic wine industry too, with Sula Vineyards and Grover Vineyards among the top Indian vineyards and wineries. Collectively, they have 90% of the market and are perceived as ‘better value for money’.

Based on trade sources and available sales data, national wine consumption is over 30 million litres per year. Most of India’s wine consumption takes place in urban centres, including Mumbai (32%), Delhi (25%) Bangalore (20%), Pune (5%) and Hyderabad (3%). At present, consumers have a strong preference for red wines followed by fortified, white and sparkling wines.1

The hospitality sector (hotels, restaurants, catering, clubs and pubs) has a larger market share than the organised retail sector, as the Indian Government allows hotels to import alcohol duty-free (equivalent to 5% of the average foreign exchange earned). This means much of the imported alcohol consumed in India is in five-star hotels in major cities.

Wine’s softer image has also made it more attractive to female consumers. Indian women view wine as classy, healthy and a socially more civilised drink to be seen drinking among family members. These trends suggest a dissolving of social taboos and cultural inhibitions related to alcohol especially for women, and wine is increasingly viewed as an acceptable drink within Indian society.

Market barriers

Alcohol sales have been problematic for certain state governments in India for some time. Alcohol is banned in Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Lakshadweep, with additional restrictions in many other states.

Each state government controls the taxation, distribution and sale of alcohol. Brand/label registration is mandatory for the brand to be sold in the respective states. Separate licences are required to produce, bottle, store and sell all liquor products. Alcohol advertisements are also banned, making it hard for companies to promote their brand(s) directly.

Australian winemakers should note that customs duty on wine is 150% on cost, insurance and freight (CIF). Thus, the final cost to the consumer is around 9 to 11 times FOB in Mumbai, around 7 to 8.5 times FOB in Delhi and around 6 to 7 times FOB in Bangalore.

Despite the sector’s accelerated growth over the past few years, wine penetration is still low with an estimated two to three million consumers consuming 24 million litres.

Many of the established Indian importers carry Australian wines within their portfolios and prefer not to carry similar varietals of wine from the same state. Wineries from new regions or with new varieties may find greater interest among Indian importers. Importers appreciate the superior quality and range of Australian wines but are keen to explore opportunities at entry-level prices.

Opportunities for Australian winemakers

The growing Indian wine market offers Australian winemakers an opportunity to engage at a mid-tier price level. Growth factors – including the rising middle class, a trend towards wine rather than spirits, and the status associated with wine – mean the market is on a strong upward trajectory, regardless of the significant tariff and non-tariff barriers to entry.

Although Australian wineries shouldn’t compare the Indian wine market with China and expect similar growth patterns in the short term, India is a stable and longer-term opportunity for Australian wines.

Austrade is welcoming a ministerial-led trade mission to India in the third week of February 2020. This mission will include B2B meetings with wine importers and retailers and opportunities to showcase Australian wines through tastings in Delhi and Mumbai.

Austrade has a team of eight full-time staff working to promote Australian food and beverage in South Asia across India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Contact Austrade for more information on the trade mission and wine opportunities in India.

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Paytm raises a billion dollars at a valuation of US$ 16 billion, plans expansion

“Source: IBEF”
Paytm, the country’s top financial technology entity, has raised US$ 1 billion (Rs 7,200 crore), at a valuation of US$ 16 billion, from existing shareholders Ant Financial, Softbank Vision Fund and also new investors, including funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates, among others in a mega funding round.

Over the next three years, Paytm plans to invest an amount of Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.43 billion) in order to expand its services in tier-III cities and smaller towns. Discovery Capital, which is an existing shareholder, also participated in the round. Paytm plans to invest Rs 10,000 crore over the next three years, with the stated aim of expanding its services in tier-III cities and smaller towns.

After this funding round, the Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led fintech giant became a top-tier Asian digital firm, much ahead of others. The company has made US$ 1 billion equity closure in this round, where SoftBank Vision Fund (SVF) invested US$ 200 million, Jack Ma’s Ant Financial added US$ 400 million and the rest balance amount came from T Rowe Price and Discovery, among others.

This comes amidst when the investors are not making big bets on companies and SoftBank is still recovering from the WeWork Initial Public Offer debacle. As of now, Paytm has raised an amount a little over US$ 2.5 billion in investments. The investments from the latest round would be focused on further expanding its payment and financial services business.

“Paytm is a great opportunity. We are addressing the India opportunity the best possible way. I think the very business model of acquiring customers and small businesses and bringing them to the formal financial system is viable and our investors understand that. India is underserved when it comes to financial services and this investment will be used to expand in that direction; our investors believe in that goal…Paytm is reaching its monetisation phase, where other financial services in due course will start bringing in revenue, so it becomes a story of a mature digital financial services company,” founder Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma said.

The company started having the talks for the new funding round last year in December and since then had several rounds of discussion with its investors. The existing investors were interested in raising their stakes to fuel the next level of expansion.

“Talks started almost two board meetings back, sometime in December. When we had the Tokyo board meeting in September (this year), we concluded the terms and the agreement happened”,added Mr. Sharma.

The company in its first phase of growth, brought in low-cost digital payments acceptability, using its QR-code technology to shops and retailers and now plans to add a host of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the mix, enabling small merchants in towns to more easily accept digital payment.

“We are adding physical devices, IoT-based devices, which will enable QR payments, card payments. Devices and IoT-led payment solutions would become an important part in our next level of journey. We have been doing beta tests of some of our IoT devices, which are proving quite successful. Payment driven by mobile phone and QR code is taking the next leap, where merchants will have many device options that will help them to avoid fraud, scale (up) business systems and bring efficiency and trust,” promises Mr. Sharma.

According to Paytm, it now serves merchants in a little over 2,000 cities and towns, in 650 districts.

Paytm will use this Rs 10,000 crore to add as many small merchants and businesses as possible into its fold, although, its competition, including Google Pay and PhonePe, are spending massively on cashbacks.

“We are not that much in P2P (peer-to-peer). We will continue to double down and spend aggressively more into better IoT devices, so that it helps us in signing up small merchants. Our primary business model is merchant payments and the larger part of the funds would be spent there,” he added.

Despite the stiff competition faced by Paytm from other players, company has continued to hold its position as the biggest payments’ player in the country. The sector experts believe that this funding round will help strengthen the company.

The main focus of the company is to expand its reach of its financial services for the company and its backers. Mr. Sharma said there are no plan of going public, as of now. “There is no commitment that we have made for going public. We have clearly said that we want the financial services business to (first) take off. Paytm has been able to build a business that is contribution positive; we are since last year getting into financial services,” he added.

As per the company, Paytm Payments Bank has around 50 million accounts and is among the few mandated by the ministry of electronics and information technology to drive the highest targets for merchant acquisition and digital transactions.

Paytm Money, the financial services firm, is at present one of the largest contributors of new Systematic Investment Plans to the mutual funds segment. It has by now received approval to launch stock broking, dematerialisation services and National Pension System services.

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Insight – The growing appetite for international food and beverage in India

“Source: Austrade”
Australian food businesses will find a warm reception in India, where the expanding middle-class population, modern retail formats and entry of international e-commerce platforms are driving growth in the country’s food and beverage (F&B) retail sector.

According to Boston Consulting Group, India is projected to become the world’s third largest consumer economy by 2025. The country’s economy grew 6.8% in the 2018–19 fiscal year.

Of India’s 1.3 billion population, it is the nation’s rapidly growing middle class that presents the Australian F&B industry with the greatest opportunities. Each year, India’s middle class adds approximately 20 million people to its ranks. Increasing purchasing power, the rise in double-income, no-kids households, and consumers moving away from a saving mindset towards living a better quality life are all driving consumption and consumer aspiration.

F&B sector set for growth

India’s F&B retail business was worth an estimated US$500 billion as of 2018 (up from US$380 billion [1] in 2017), according to private estimates.

The market share held by modern retail formats (such as convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets) versus traditional outlets (including market stalls) is expected to double from 2% currently to 4% by 2020, based on developments in 2017–18.

Some of the significant sector developments in India in the last year have included the entry of Lots Group fromThailand, which has opened three stores in the National Capital Region (NCR), and the commitment by 7Eleven to open more stores through Future Group. The sector has also witnessed Spencers Retail’s purchase of the Nature’s Basket chain from Godrej; Walmart investing in Flipkart; and Amazon India in the advanced stages of taking a stake in Foodhall (Future Group). Meanwhile, other modern retail outlets continue with their expansion plans.

The simplification of India’s tax system took a step forward with the 2017 introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), replacing various indirect taxes. The Indian Government has also reduced the time and cost to import by implementing the electronic sealing of containers, upgrading port infrastructure and permitting the electronic submission of supporting documents with digital signatures in 2018–19. These reforms helped India jump to 63rd place out of 190 countries (from 77 the previous year) in The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report. In addition, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India ( FSSAI) has streamlined and simplified the process for imports.

The number of food categories imported into India is rapidly increasing. The size of the imported food category has more than tripled in the last 10 years from US$1.7 billion in 2009 to US$5.3 billion in 2018. This is despite a strong domestic food processing sector and high import tariffs of 30% to 50%.

Globally aware consumers

This growth can be attributed to the rapid increase in exposure of Indian consumers to international food concepts, brands and cuisines. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of Indians travelling internationally increased from 15 million to 25.85 million (estimated to be 27.92 million in 2019).[2] The growing diaspora is also making a difference to F&B tastes. There are around 800,000 Indians living in Australia with extended families in India and around 100,000 students from India in Australia.

India’s consumer story is being shaped by its 440 million millennials and 390 million generation Z (those born after 2000) [3] population. The sheer size of India’s youth combined with improved education paves the way for sustained growth in purchasing power and makes India’s consumer story one of the world’s most compelling for the next 20 years.

According to Euromonitor, a conservative estimate of the target market for high-quality imported foods is approximately 30 million Indians with the propensity to spend over US$30,000 per year, and another 4.8 million Indians with annual incomes in excess of US$150,000 (comprising 960,000 households with five members each). This is the target market for Australia’s premium F&B industry.

In summary, the primary dynamics affecting India’s F&B sector include:

  • a young population with growing affluence
  • a growing middle class that travels internationally and has exposure to different cuisines
  • international F&B players entering the market and modernising Indian retail
  • growth in imported food categories with dedicated aisle space in modern retail outlets
  • implementation of the GST in July 2017 and eased regulations for domestic and imported foods
  • better synergies across markets, reduced waste and trimmed costs.

E-commerce opens up opportunities

The growth opportunities in India’s F&B sector have attracted interest from major Indian corporations that have diversified into retail with long-term plans for this vertical. Companies such as Tata, Reliance, Spencers and Bharti have been investing in India’s booming F&B retail sector.

Along with these retailers, a number of international brands such as Metro and Wal-Mart have entered the market. New retail trade formats such as supermarkets and hypermarkets are also stepping up to fulfil the needs of consumers.

Significantly, it is e-commerce that is driving the biggest change in Indians’ F&B retail market experience. India has the second highest number of internet users in the world at 451 million.[4] According to an Economist article, every second, three more Indians experience the internet for the first time. By 2030, more than 1 billion Indians will be online. By the end of 2018, one in two mobiles used in India was a smartphone, up from one in five in 2016.[5]

E-commerce has given Indians in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities the ability to purchase products they could not otherwise buy in India. E-commerce has helped leapfrog bricks-and-mortar retail, created entrepreneurs across India and generated commerce and employment.

Australian companies can take advantage of e-commerce and a large user base to test the waters. Australian companies and brands using e-commerce to market to Indian consumers include Capilano, Orgran, San Remo, Sanitarium, SPC, Vegemite and Yes You Can.

In the past few years, several online grocery retail sites have been launched, including BigBasket and Amazon Grocery, that offer international foods. Amazon India is looking at F&B contributing US$1 billion to its bottom line by 2020. While online grocery retailing is the smallest retail channel (representing 5% of total retail grocery sales), it is the fastest-growing retail segment and the one with the highest potential.

Internet retailing is expected to increase by almost 27% in 2019. At present, analysts estimate online grocery sales will reach between US$500 million to a little over US$1 billion, with expectations of sales growing to over US$5 billion in the next three to four years.1 Prospects look good for the sector as the consumer base is made up of millennials and affluent consumers who prioritise convenience and quality over price and who are more open to popular foreign brands.

Amazon first launched its online grocery business in 2016 in Bangalore. As of 2018, Amazon’s grocery business has expanded to 40 cities. Last year, Amazon launched a network of 15 specialised fulfilment centres (warehouses) to increase delivery speeds. These fulfilment centres are equipped with temperature-controlled zones to store and deliver perishables and frozen products. However, the sector continues to be limited to metropolitan cities.

The role of media and the ‘Masterchef impact’

For the last two decades, India’s food industry has undergone a sea change. People in India now like to experiment with different tastes and flavours but often add some kind of ‘Indianisation’ to suit regional palates.

Burgers, pasta, pizza and many other international cuisines have made their mark around the country and are often ‘regionalised’ with local flavours. Twenty-four-hour fast-food outlets are open across India and are exploding in popularity. For example, India is Domino Pizza’s second largest market outside the US, operating 1,200 stores in 271 cities (as of 2018). Other popular restaurant cuisines include Italian, Mexican, Thai, American, Mediterranean, Japanese and Korean.

The ‘cult of celebrity’ has also played a huge role in promoting Australian F&B to Indian consumers. The best known Australians in India used to be cricketers or actors, but that was before the advent of cooking shows likeMasterChef Australia. Now heading into the 2019 season of MasterChef India, the show’s three host judges – Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston – are huge celebrities in India.

MasterChef Australia is a highly popular show in India, taking not only cooking but a bit of Australia into every Indian home. Retail managers report that shoppers enter stores and look to repeat menus and recipes from shows aired the previous evening. As a result, retailers have experienced a growth in demand and increase in expenditure for exotic and niche items. Increased exposure to foreign foods and the opportunity to consume them is expected to continue growing India’s F&B sector.

Popular imported F&B categories

The rise of the middle class has brought a cultural shift in attitude towards health and wellbeing. F&B retailers and producers in these categories can expect an increase in demand. ‘Healthier’ food – for example, digestive biscuits, wheat/oat noodles, multigrain flour, heart and diabetic-control edible oils and fortified milk – are emerging as popular growth categories. Convenience and on-the-go snacks, including liquid breakfast drinks, will be another popular category among the middle class.

Popular imported F&B products include:

  • Cereals
  • Edible oils
  • Beverages (fruit juices, concentrates, alcoholic beverages and carbonated drinks)
  • Confectionery items
  • Canned and packaged fruit juices
  • Berries such as cranberries and blueberries
  • Dry fruits and nuts
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Canned and frozen food
  • Preserves, jam, jellies and marmalades
  • Health food products
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Soups, syrups and seasonings
  • Sauces and salad dressings.

Australian F&B businesses interested in exporting to India can contact Austrade for more information. Please provide your product name and HS code, and Austrade will revert with a brief ‘Quick Market Assessment’ outlining the potential of your product in India, competition, tariffs and other recommendations.

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All India Institute of Ayurveda Signs MoU with Western Sydney University Australia

“Source: IBEF”
All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Western Sydney University, Australia at New Delhi. The MoU will promote the collaboration in research and developing guidelines for integrating Ayurveda principles with modern medicine.

Professor Barney Glover, Vice Chancellor, Western Sydney University, Australia and Prof. Tanuja Nesari, Director, All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) signed the Memorandum of Understanding on 22nd November during the visit of the delegation led by Dan Tehan, Minister for education, Australian Government. The signing ceremony took place at Ministry of AYUSH.

The memorandum was agreed and exchange on the occasion of the event “India Australia International Education and Research Workshop” at Ambedkar International Center, New Delhi. The exchange took place in presence of Shri Ramesh Pokharial, Human Resource Development Minister and Dan Tehan Minister for Education, Australian Government along with H.E Ms. Harinder Sidhu Australian High Commissioner to India.

“Both Institutions are committed to take the collaboration to the next Higher Level by identifying specific areas for collaboration in education, research and practices of Traditional medicine while ensuring the quality standards and also by encouraging investment in traditional medicine related infrastructure. Complementing the Traditional Ayurveda Medicine with conventional concepts of Modern Medicine is expected in generating scientific evidences that further help in contributing to the global healthcare”

India is a priority country among Australia’s international partnerships. The signed memorandum is another milestone in the history of health care industry. Combining data-driven precision based technologies and Ayurvedic medicine will be a valuable contribution to the current goals for providing a better and safe health care system to the Universe, specifically towards developing a safe and effective integration of traditional and complementary medicine”, stated Professor Barney Glover, Vice Chancellor WSU.

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Indian IT giant Wipro recognised as top employer in Australia for 2020

“Source: IBEF”
Wipro, an Indian global software major said that it was ranked top employer in Australia for 2020.

“The assessment is based on an HR (Human Resource) best practice survey ‘People Development’ practices across 10 topics, including talent strategy, workforce planning, talent acquisition,” said the city-based IT firm in a statement.

The firm was also assessed for the survey on the basis of other parameters such as on-boarding, learning and development, performance management, leadership development, career and succession management, compensation and benefits and culture.

“To become recognised as a top employer, a company has to prove that the implementation of their people strategies enriches the world of work of their employees,” stated Top Employers’ Institute chief executive Mr David Plink.

“We believe our real asset is the people. We are committed to provide the best employee experience and foster a culture that nurtures talent,” said Wipro executive Mr Manoj Nagpaul in the statement.

The IT behemoth efforts to adopt people practices that are innovative, human centric and help them realise their potential.

 

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Dubai’s Danube Home to take e-comm route in India

“Source: Business Line”
Danube Home, the furnishing and interiors business arm of Dubai-based Danube Group, will soon sell its products online in India. The firm, which opened its maiden store here last year, will start tapping the e-commerce opportunity by offering products on sites such as Amazon in the first quarter of 2020.

“By June 2020, we will have our own e-commerce window,” Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube group, told BusinessLine.

He said the firm will take a call on expanding its presence in the country next year after assessing the progress.

“We have invested about 50 crore so far here. After we firm up our expansion plans, we might invest 150 crore, about 30 crore each on smaller stores,” he said.

He, however, said that the final call on investments and expansion would be made after six months when it completed the assessment of its business in the country.

He claimed that it achieved 90 per cent of the target that it set it for itself for the store.

“We are targeting a growth of 25 per cent in the second year,” he said, without commenting on the revenues it earned in the first year.

“We would like to focus on the e-commerce business as it is expanding steadily in the country. This window would help us reach out to the growing number of millennials that are mostly shopping online,” Shubhojit Mahalanobis, General Manager of Danube Home, has said.

The firm, which has stores in over 22 countries, has tied up with over 20 vendors from Telangana, Gujarat, Mumbai and some other places in north India for manufacture of products to its standards.

The firm said it is planning to increase its exports in home decor and home furnishing products from Indian craftsmen and make it available to markets in the Gulf region.

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ITC bets big on frozen food segment, eyes 20 per cent market share in 3 years

“Source: IBEF”
ITC, a diversified conglomerate is targeting up to 20 per cent of the Rs 7,400 crore (US$ 1.06 billion) frozen food market in India in next three years with the company increasing its offering in the category, as per a senior company official.

Recently, the firm has ventured into the frozen food segment under ITC Master Chef brand aiming both retail and food services players. The company also plan to expand its reach to over 30 cities in the retail segment and 100 cities in food services segment during the period.

“Currently, the frozen foods market in India is about Rs 7,400 crore (US$ 1.06 billion) and it is growing at about 17 per cent annually…Our intention is to explode the category. We are doubling our volumes. Our growth rate is about 6-7 times the industry growth,” said ITC Chief Executive – Frozen Snacks, Fruits and Vegetables Mr Sachid Madan.

He added that the expansion of the product range will aid in company’s progress in the category along with the reason that it is offering freshly frozen food with no added preservatives and can be cooked in multiple ways.

“We are in both (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) segments and we are beyond even chicken. In the categories in the market that we are present, we are aiming at 15-20 per cent share over the next three-odd years as we establish our distribution,” Mr Madan said.

ITC will become the third major organised player in the frozen food segment after McCain, which mainly offers in the vegetarian segment and Venky’s, which offers in non-vegetarian, he further added. Presently, ITC’s market share ranges from 5-15 per cent in the segment depending on outlets and range.

“The market is very small compared to its potential. The idea is if it is growing at 17 per cent how can we accelerate it? When we are growing at 100 per cent, it will definitely grow,” he said.

Around 50 different frozen food products were introduced under ITC Master Chef brand by the company consisting of a variety of Indian flavours such as ‘Mumbai Vada Pops’, ‘Rajmah ki Galauti’, ‘Chicken Galauti’, ‘Falafel Kebab’, ‘Achari Beetroot Kebab’, among others.

Mr Madan said, “These items are now available in 60 cities under the food service portfolio and 11 cities in retail outlets. In the next three years 60 will go to 100 and beyond and 11 will go to about 30.” The focus is on expanding penetration of the category and dispel the myth about frozen foods not being healthy in consumers’ mind, he said.

The company is first planning to expand in metros and urban areas for these products and will also made widely available to consumers and food services segment, including restaurants, cafes and pubs across India, including tier II and III cities, he added.

In order to produce these products, ITC has partnered with American firm OSI and is utilising the latter’s manufacturing facilities in India. “We are manufacturing in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. We are kind of covering most of the places where the markets are,” Mr Madan said.

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PSLV successfully launches RISAT-2BR1 and nine commercial satellites in its fiftieth flight

“Source:IBEF”
India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its fiftieth flight (PSLV-C48), successfully launched RISAT-2BR1 along with nine commercial satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, today.

PSLV-C48 lifted-off at 1525 Hrs (IST) from the First Launch Pad. After 16 minutes and 23 seconds, RISAT-2BR1 was successfully injected into an orbit of
576 km. Subsequently, nine commercial satellites were injected into their intended orbits. After separation, the two solar arrays of RISAT-2BR1 were deployed automatically and the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network at Bengaluru assumed control of the satellite. In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration.

“Today we achieved an important milestone in the history of PSLV by successfully launching its 50th mission” Chairman, ISRO, Dr. K. Sivan declared. A book titled ‘PSLV@ 50’ was released by Dr. Sivan on this occasion. He further added that this versatile launcher has lifted off 52.7 tonne into space, of which 17% belongs to customer satellites.

RISAT-2BR1 is a radar imaging earth observation satellite weighing about 628 kg. The satellite will provide services in the field of Agriculture, Forestry and Disaster Management. The mission life of RISAT-2BR1 is 5 years.

Dr. Sivan appreciated the efforts of the launch vehicle and satellite teams for realizing this mission in a short span of time.

The nine customer satellites of Israel, Italy, Japan and USA were precisely injected into their designated orbits. These satellites were launched under a commercial arrangement with New Space India Limited (NSIL).

PSLV-C48 is the 2nd flight of PSLV in ‘QL’ configuration (with 4 solid strap-on motors). Besides being the 50th launch of PSLV, today’s launch was also the 75thlaunch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.

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Walmart launches Supplier Development Program in India

“Source: Livemint”
New Delhi: Walmart Inc. on Monday said it is rolling out a programme designed to work closely with 50,000 medium and small enterprises (MSME’s) across India to help them scale, build capacity, and perhaps be part of global supply chains.

The Walmart Vriddhi Supplier Development Program (Walmart Vriddhi) will also work to develop 25 institutes in India along with local organizations over the next five years.

“Walmart Vriddhi will actively work with India’s micro- small- and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) to expand domestic capabilities and participate in the global economy,” the company said on Monday. MSMEs will receive in-person training, as well as advice, access to Walmart’s deep global experience and a network of peers and mentors in their local communities.

In India, Walmart operates through the Best Price Modern Wholesale cash-and-carry stores, apart from its investment in online retailer Flipkart that now gives it access to India’s growing e-commerce market.

“Whether a supplier has ambitions domestically or to serve customers around the globe – they’ll have the tools they need to succeed through Walmart’s supply chain or through someone else’s,” said Judith McKenna, President and Chief Executive Officer of Walmart International, while addressing the media on Monday.

The retail giant did not share details of the companies that could participate in the program.

McKenna added that Walmart Vriddhi is an open platform designed not just exclusively for Walmart which implies that these MSMEs will be able to work as suppliers for other competing retailers in the market.

“We will build and expand Walmart Vriddhi so Indian suppliers have the knowledge and resources to truly take advantage of both domestic and global markets,” she added.

The company will open an institute in early 2020, and more over the next five years.

Creating Walmart Vriddhi institutes will directly train MSMEs and help them unlock access to customers both online and offline and give them the tools to reach domestic and international supply chains at Walmart or any other company, the retailer said in its press statement.

“This point is key – this is a pan-India initiative, and we believe it is also unique in its geographic spread which makes it open to many more businesses and entrepreneurs,” McKenna added.

The program can help these MSME’s potentially become a part of the supply chains of Flipkart, Walmart Global Sourcing and Walmart India, or those of other domestic and international companies, the company added.

India is a large sourcing market for Walmart globally. Over the years, the retailer, popular for its large big box retail store formats has sourced goods worth billions of dollars from the country, pushing India among the top 5 sourcing markets for the retailer globally.

To be sure, the announcement from Walmart comes when large foreign retailers including Walmart, and Amazon have been facing resistance from millions of small traders in India. The CAIT or Confederation of All India Traders, that represents scores of local mom and pop stores, has pleaded with the government to closely monitor the e-commerce market here after it complained that retailers such as Amazon, and Walmart-owned Flipkart have been indulging in predatory pricing, subverting investment rules here.

On Monday, CAIT said it strongly opposes the move of Nitin Gadkari-led MSME ministry’s move to join hands with Amazon and Flipkart for online sale of MSME goods. “Traders will bitterly oppose any such move,” Praveen Khandelwal, national secretary general, CAIT said.

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MTPL to set up off-highway tyre facility in Gujarat, invest $107 million

“Source: Business Standard”
Mahansaria Tyres Private Limited (MTPL) will set up a $107-million facility to manufacture off-highway tyres in Gujarat, backed by International Finance Corporation (IFC) through equity and loan.

IFC will provide a loan of up to $30 million and it will buy a stake in MTPL for up to $7.74 million.

MTPL is owned by Ashok Mahansaria, Yogesh Mahansaria and Yogesh Investments Private Ltd. (YAIPL), erstwhile sponsors of Balkrishna Industries and Alliance Tyre Group, and it has over 25 years of experience in off-highway tyres used in agriculture and construction industry.

Cost for phase 1, which will involve setting up 40,000 MT capacity, is $107 million. This will be funded by debt of up to $54 million, including IFC’s loan, which will have a tenor of 10 years.

IFC will also mobilise another loan of up to $24 million on similar terms. This gives the company access to a different fundraising channel –from institutional financiers — and help it develop a more diversified investor base.

“IFC’s investment will provide validation of a greenfield business plan and the growth prospect of the sector. This will send a positive signaling effect to other investors on the soundness of the project and help attract investors for the current and future financing stages,” said IFC.

MTPL estimates exports to account for 70-80 per cent of sales and contribute to India’s forex earnings. The project will support value-addition in the domestic rubber production industry and is expected to create 1,500 jobs in the first phase.

OHT has a small presence India, compared to developed markets such as EU and North America. The size of OHT segment globally is still relatively small as it accounts for only about 10 per cent of the braoder tyre industry. At present, value brands have around 30 per cent share in the global market. Indian players hold half of this market share.

The Indian OHT market is price sensitive due to low farm income. As a result, the product range in India is not as specialized as in the EU and North America, where more application specific solutions are available.

Indian players such as MTPL stand to gain by producing more products in the value brand segment of OHT tyres, given that conversion costs in India are lower than in any other manufacturing bases. This project will demonstrate the competitiveness of Indian players in the global market and increase the overall share of Indian value brands, said IFC.

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Kohler India to double retail network in next three years

“Source: IBEF”
For Kohler Co, the US-based premium sanitaryware brand, India remains one of its three most strategic markets, despite the slowdown, said Mr David Kohler, President and CEO, Kohler Co.

“India have very strong, long term potential and it’s demonstrating that year-by-year with one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world. And the country is making progress. So, to me this is a very different market than other markets in the world… So, there’s a there’s a positive dynamic here,” David said in an interview.

Kohler India is planning to double its retail presence in the next three years, with a focus on the top cities. “We have a network of about 500 showrooms in the country today, and we’re interested in really continuing to rapidly expand that, in tier one and tier two cities,” David said.

For Kohler, across the Globe, India is among one of the most interesting and creative markets it serves anywhere, and the company is focussed on the long-term potential here. It launched its second Kohler Experience Centre (KEC) in the country in Mumbai on Friday and is planning to open one more in Bengaluru soon. The first KEC is opened in Delhi. With only around ten KECs globally, India will be the first to have three KECs, he said, emphasising the importance of the Indian market.

Unlike other regular outlets, KECs are “inspiration zones” sprawled over 16,000 sq. ft., meant more for customer engagement than sales, and are not designed like display centres or showrooms.

Kohler has also launched several new product categories in the country like grooming solutions inside bathrooms, water filtration and bathroom furniture and mirrors.

When asked about the consumption slowdown in India, David said “We think, in kind of every major market or in India, there will be ups and downs and in a high growth market like this, you are going to have some volatility here and there and you’ll go through shorter term cycles, but that really doesn’t make a difference to us, because we’re focussed on the long-term”.

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Insight – India provides fertile ground for agtech collaboration

“Source: Austrade”
The use of innovative technology in agriculture – agtech – has fundamentally disrupted conventional production techniques and market linkages in the Indian agricultural sector.

Agtech and increased mobility, particularly the widespread take-up of smartphones in regional and rural areas, have delivered a diverse range of information into the hands of the farming community. This includes weather data, pest monitoring, crop estimates, agricultural inputs, agricultural finance, agronomic advice and real-time market prices of agricultural produce.

Yet India’s need to feed 1.3 billion people amid decreasing water resources, shrinking arable land and other agricultural challenges means the country is constantly searching for new agtech solutions and services.

India is losing 100,000 hectares of arable land every year to various factors. The heartland of India’s staple crop of wheat – the state of Punjab – is losing close to a metre of groundwater each year [1] . The cost to the Indian exchequer of fertiliser subsidies is close to A$15 billion annually, in addition to the cost of supplying over 100 million small and marginal farmers with average land holdings of less than two hectares.

The imbalance between supply and demand is also an issue. For instance, India’s milk production is growing slower than demand at a ratio of 7:4. This is one reason why 60 per cent of India’s 140 million tonnes of milk is adulterated. Reports also estimate that close to 35 per cent of India’s yearly production of fruit and vegetable of over 314 million tonnes never reaches any market due to poor market linkages.

What’s in it for Australia?

Following her visit to India in October 2019, Dr Anastasia Volkova, CEO and Founder of Australian agtech company FluroSat, said: ‘One can argue that agtech needs are different from country to country. My observations prove the opposite. Maybe the mode of delivery and the business model, yes – but not the problems that are looking for solutions.’

India’s agricultural challenges present promising opportunities for Australian agtech companies to adapt, test and establish proof-of-concept of their solutions through localised delivery models. This can be made easier through partnerships with Indian stakeholders. Technology platforms that can be successfully adapted for the Indian market will reap rewards for Australian providers.

Indian agtech ecosystem

India’s young entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge of resolving India’s agricultural issues. With little to no agriculture background, they are using the power of technology to develop equitable and farmer- and consumer-centric agtech solutions.

India’s startup ecosystem includes 97 incubators dedicated to the agricultural sector, as listed in the StartUpIndia initiative under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. [2]

Between 2013 and 2017, Indian agtech startups have attracted close to US$1.7 billion in funding [3] , with international equity funds such as AgFunder, the Gates Foundation, BlackRock, the Rockefeller Foundation, Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets, BASF Venture Capital and Mistletoe of Japan, committed in the market. India accounts for 10 per cent of agtech startups globally, according to a recent report jointly published by Omnivore VC and AgFunder. [4]

This entrepreneurship drive has been supported by the Indian Government, which is committed to boosting the ease of doing business for startups. Among the programs launched by the Government, one notable initiative is the Agriculture Grand Challenge, which invited Indian startups to submit solutions to 12 challenges in the Indian agriculture sector.

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Eris Lifesciences buys anti-diabetes novel drug Zomelis in India for US$ 13 million

“Source:- IBEF”
Eris Lifesciences announced the acquisition of the trademark for anti-diabetes novel drug Zomelis from Novartis AG for US$ 13 million, as per the company’s press release. This acquisition is only for the Indian market.

The sale of the product by Eris Lifesciences, which is an Indian drug maker, will begin from December 10 in the Indian market, the company said.
Zomelis, commonly known as vildagliptin, is used in treatment of type 2 diabetes. This is the first innovator pharmaceutical product trademark acquisition by Eris Lifesciences.

“The acquisition of Zomelis will help us strengthen our position in the diabetes care market in India. Our inorganic growth strategy continues as we explore good opportunities to strengthen our product offering for patients,” said Eris Lifesciences chairman and managing director Mr Amit Bakshi.

Earlier, the company has done four acquisitions and among those the buyout of Strides Shasun’s branded business portfolio for Rs 500 crore (US$ 72 million) in December 2017 was a major one which assisted the company to gain a foothold in the central nervous system drug segment.

Eris Lifesciences was founded in 2017 and is among the top 10 players in the anti-diabetes drugs segment in the Indian Pharmaceutical Market, as per the data by market research firm AIOCD-AWACS for October.

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Total value of organic products exported from India is Rs 5150.99 crore in 2018-19: Shri Narendra Singh Tomar

“Source:- IBEF”
Government of India has been promoting Organic farming in the country through dedicated schemes namely Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Mission Organic Value Chain Development North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) since 2015-16. Both the schemes aim at promotion of cluster/ Farmers Producer Organization (FPO) based chemical free, low input cost sustainable organic farming and support farmers from input procurement to market linkages.

The quantity of organic product produced during 2018-19 under Participatory Guarantee System-(PGS)-India and National Programme on Organic Production (NPOP) of Agriculture Processed Food and Export Development Authority (APEDA) is given at Annexure I. The total value of organic products exported from India is Rs 5150.99 crore (US$ 737 million) (for 614089.614 MT).

Assistance of Rs 50,000 (US$ 715) per hectare/ 3 years is provided, out of which Rs 31,000 (US$ 444) (62 per cent) is directly given to the farmers through DBT for inputs (bio-fertilizers, biopesticides, vermicompost, botanical extracts etc) production/ procurement, post-harvest management etc in PKVY scheme. Farmers   adopt   low cost Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) of certification for domestic markets.

Assistance of Rs 25000 (US$ 340)/ ha/ 3 years to farmers is provided for both on-farm & off-farm organic inputs, and seeds/ planting material in MOVCDNER and third party certified organic farming is encouraged   for export of niche crops.

Organic Farming has also been supported under other schemes viz Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), Network Project on Organic Farming under ICAR.

The major thrust of the Government has shifted from production centric to market linked production so that farmers can get better returns for their produce including organic produce. To further boost production of organic produce, a dedicated web portal https://jaivikkheti.in/ has also been created to connect farmers involved in organic farming with consumers directly for better prices.

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India on the cusp of digital transformation in all spheres of economy: Oracle India MD

“Source:- Livemint”
One of the leading providers of on-premise services, US-based Oracle has made a smooth transition to cloud services and is now making a strong case for its new autonomous database which uses machine learning (ML) to deliver self-driving, self-repairing and self-securing capabilities for a cloud experience free of disruption. In conversation with Mint, Shailender Kumar, India MD, Oracle talks about the transition from product to services, the importance of India and how the company is catering to the unique needs of start-ups.

Q. Oracle has been transitioning from a product company to being a services company. How has this transition been?

With cloud acquiring extreme dominance in our business agenda, we have embedded innovative technologies in every aspect of our cloud, enabling companies to re-imagine their business and processes. If you see today, our world’s number one database is now autonomous, allowing big enterprises to innovate at the speed of the start-up and achieve their objectives much faster. And who would have imagined that a database firm, that made business selling to large organizations only would itself transform to a complete enterprise technology solution provider.

I would say this is not only one of the company’s biggest transformation, but also the biggest industry transformation. We have also done the right combination of innovation and acquisition. We have been spending approximately $6.5 billion every year in research and development and invested over $80 billion doing 130 odd acquisitions since 2005.

Q. How has Oracle been doing in India? And what is the strategy going forward to take on competition in India?

We are experiencing very good momentum in the country today. Our customers in India have an appetite to try new technologies, and even from their side, they want to deliver ultimate experience to their customers. Talking about cloud, it has really helped us in terms of doubling our customers. In fact, today we have grown our base from 7,500 viewers back to approximately 15,000 customers in the country.

India is on the cusp of digital transformation in all the spheres of economy. We have been able to support start-ups, legacy companies trying to improve their business efficiency, or helping farmers trying to access more markets, enabling quick loans for small finance banks.

Just to give you an example of what we are doing with one of our clients IFFCO, India’s largest cooperative institutions, which is digitally empowering its farmers to procure fertilizers. In fact, they have launched something called eBaazar, an ecommerce platform which is totally Oracle Cloud enabled. And this platform enables cashless transactions allowing farmers to order and pay for their goods online. Federal bank is using our Autonomous analytics cloud to gain a unified single view of ATM availability, branch operations and network availability from its 1200 branches and 1600 ATMs across the country. This has allowed them to take more strategic decisions.

Q. How has India contributed to Oracle’s transformation in recent years? Tell us about the new data centres that Oracle is setting up in India.

India happens to be a very strategic place from research and development, support and from the sales standpoint. India is the only country outside of US, where every line of business from development point of view is represented. All our products have some kind of development happening in India. Also, we want to ensure our customers get an excellent experience and services and having a data centre in India will play an important role in making that happen.

Q. How does Oracle tailor its products for different business sizes in India?

For startups, we have a very unique collaboration. We are delivering a unique acceleration program that enables mutually beneficial business building partnership for these startups. So it starts with free cloud, and expands to a rich collaboration with opportunities to engage with Oracle’s vast network of mentors, product experts and customers. We are offering them free cloud credits of up to 9,000 hours. We are also doing business and technical mentoring. They may have an excellent idea, but how do they nurture that idea with the help of cloud and start working and developing on that. This would allow startups to save 70% on cloud right from day one.

Q. How has Oracle been leveraging emerging technologies like AI, ML and blockchain to improve its services?

Oracle today has been embedding machine learning into several management and security offerings to help monitor, troubleshoot and predict potential outages and security breaches. In fact, we enable automated but personalized interactions across all applications via digital assistance. We have also integrated the AI into analytics to help discover hidden patents and it has been successful.

We have also worked with the NITI Aayog for a project involving Blockchain and IOT. We are using blockchain to ensure if the real drugs are getting replaced with spurious drugs and IOT is being used to ascertain the parameters of the medicines which are being transported from one side to the other side, to ensure the chemical composition of a product doesn’t get lost.

 

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India’s low-cost housing space is increasingly getting global attention

“Source:- Economic Times”
India’s low-cost housing space is increasingly getting global attention. UK-based impact investor Reall has shown interest in this segment with a commitment of investing in Bengaluru-based affordable housing developer Janaadhar India, two people familiar with the development said.

“Investment proposals are underway with Janaadhar and will be subject to an approval process by our investment committee. The first investment proposal under development is for GBP5.5 million over a 2 year period,” said Emma Ahmed, head of Asia Operations at Reall.

The quantum of investment can rise later, two other people said.

Funded by the UK’s Department for International Development  (DFID) and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Reall has been in the affordable housing segment for over 30 years, helping more than 3.5 million people across Asia and Africa.

This is Reall’s first partnership with an Indian developer. Earlier in July, India saw World Bank ’s funding arm International Finance Corporation  investing $100 million in debt into PNB Housing Finance for on-lending to the low-cost housing segment.

Activity in this space has gained traction with push from the government and is expected to bridge the housing gap in the country. Official data suggest that India needs to build 11 million low-cost dwelling units for nearly 50 million people that do not have adequate housing.

A senior official with Janaadhar said that the funding from Reall will be done in a combination of equity, debt and grants. “The fund will be drawn down on a project-by-project basis,” the person said. Unitus Capital was the financial advisor for this partnership.

“The Partnership is one of mutual support and alignment towards delivering quality affordable housing to the bottom 40% of the pyramid in India,” said Ahmed.

The developer is planning housing projects across Maharashtra , Gujarat, Karnataka and the National Capital Region. Each project is expected to cost up to Rs 120 crore, building about 600 to 800 units each (1BHK and 2 BHK). The developer said it plans to introduce precast technology, which allows superior construction and greater efficiencies at lower costs.

To date, Janaadhar has delivered 1,500 dwelling units to the economically weaker and low-income segments across Karnataka and Gujarat.

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India reaches electricity generation capacity of 365 GW: Power Minister

“Source:- IBEF”
The installed power generation capacity in India reached 364.9 gigawatts, that is adequate to meet the country’s electric demand.
Furthermore, the peak alongside with the energy requirement deficit was less than one per cent during the first seven months of 2019-20, Minister of States for Power and New and Renewable Energy Mr. R K Singh said.

“As on 31.10.2019, the installed generation capacity in the country is around 3,64,960 megawatt (MW), which is sufficient to meet the electricity demand in the country. It may be seen that the gap between demand and supply of power during the current year 2019-20 (up to October 2019) both in terms of energy and peak is less than 1 per cent,” he added.

The gap is mainly because of reasons other than the shortage of power availability in the country such as restraints in sub-transmission and distribution network, financial constraints of state power utilities to purchase power, Mr. Singh said.

He added that if there is any shortage in meeting power requirement, distribution companies can also purchase power from power exchanges on a daily basis.

“The government is supporting the states/UTs in augmenting and strengthening the intra-state transmission and distribution network through various schemes including Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and Integrated Power Development Scheme,” the minister said.

The coal stock in power plants as on November 21 stood at 23.1 million tonnes (MT) for 14 days as against 12.1 MT for 7 days on the same day last year, the minister said.

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India becomes first Asian country to participate as ‘Guest of Honour’ in the Book Fair

“Source:- IBEF”
Shri Sanjay Dhotre, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Human Resource Development (HRD) inaugurated the India Pavilion at the International Book Fair at Guadaljara, Mexico. India is the ‘Guest of Honour Country’ in this book fair, and it is the first Asian country to have received this honour.

This fair, which is called Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadaljara in Spanish, is the biggest book fair in the Spanish-speaking world. Shri Sanjay Dhotre delivered the inaugural address at the book fair during its opening yesterday. The National Book Trust (NBT), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) Government of India (GoI), is participating as the nodal agency of the GoI in this book fair.

Shri Dhotre, while speaking at the inaugural ceremony, highlighted the deep literary connection between India and Mexico and referred to the legendry Mexican poet Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz’s first visit to India in 1952. He said, “Paz took deep interest in the culture and heritage of India, and he wrote poems on Vrindavan, Shiva-Parvati, and on Amir Khusro. Shri Dhotre also said that India and Mexico are in opposite directions on the world map and are thousands of miles away from each other, but both the countries have great similarities in terms of their people, biodiversity, family and cultural values, and even climatic conditions. He added that both the countries represent very old civilisations, and both have undertaken a sustained struggle to get independence from the colonial rule.

Referring to the 150th anniversary celebration of the birth of the Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi, Shri Dhotre said that Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy  ‘Let Our Lives Be Open Books’ is the theme of the India pavilion in the fair, as it represents, among other things, an atmosphere of interaction and communication provided by the platforms such as book fairs.

Shri Dhotre expressed hope that this book fair will provide platform for an accelerated literary, academic and cultural exchange between the two countries, and great literary pieces of both the countries will be translated into Indian languages and Spanish. He also invited all the publishers having gathered from across the world to the World Book Fair being organised by NBT in New Delhi, during January 2020.

This is the 33rd edition of Guadaljara International Book Fair will continue till 8 December 2019.

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India conducts 1st night trial of nuclear capable Agni-III missile

“Source:-IBEF”
The first night trial of nuclear capable long-range ballistic missile Agni-III was conducted by India from the Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast on Saturday.

The first night trial of the missile was conducted by the Strategic Forces Command of the Indian Army from launch pad-IV of the Integrated Test Range in Bhadrak district at 7.17 pm, said defence sources.

As per Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Agni-III is considered to be core of India’s nuclear arsenal.
The armed forces introduced the missile in June 2011.

It has a strike range of 3,000 km to 5,000 km and is efficient of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 1.5 tonnes.

The missile is powered by a two-stage solid propellant engine. It is 17 metres long with two-metre diameter and weighs around 2,200 kg.

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Coal production in India up by 164.58 MT in 5 years

“Source:-IBEF”
According to Minister of Coal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Prahlad Joshi, the production of raw coal in the country has increased from 567.77 million tons (MT) in 2013-14 to 730.35 MT in 2018-19. Last year, India had to import 234 MT coal for which it lost Rs 1.7 lakh crore (US$ 24.32 billion) foreign exchange.

“All India raw coal production increased from 565.77 MT in 2013-14 to 730.35 MT in 2018-19, an absolute increase of 164.58 MT as compared to increase of coal production of 73.01 MT between 2008-09 and 2013-14,” he said.

He added that the production witnessed a positive growth in the first quarter of the current year (April- June 2019) but there has been decrease in production since July. One of the main reasons is heavy rainfall witnessed in coal mining areas of the country, he said.

Mr. Joshi said that the growth of production in October was hindered as rainfall continued in the month this year that normally witness growth after the rainy session. He added that during the current year (April-October 2019), though there has been a decrease in dispatch to power sector, it has not affected the coal availability position at the powerhouse end.

Currently, stock at Powerhouse end stands at 22.78 MT as on November 19, 2019, that is equal to 14 days’ consumption with 5 power plants under critical list, as against last year same day’s stock of 11.68 Million tonnes, equivalent to 7 days’ consumption, with 25 power plants reeling under criticality.

“The coal production of CIL and its subsidiaries is being reviewed regularly at the highest level of Ministry. The CIL has been asked to make all out efforts to reach the target by improving production in the remaining months of the current year,” he said.

Mr. Joshi said the focus of the government is on increasing the domestic production of coal by allocating more coal blocks, pursuing with state government for assistance in land acquisition and coordinated efforts with Railways for movement of coal.

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FASTag Sale Grows by 330 Per Cent; Over 70 Lakh Issued till Date

“Source:- IBEF”
Over 70 Lakh FASTags have been issued till date, with highest per day issuance of 1,35,583 Tags on 26th November 2019, whereas 1.03 lakh Tags were issued on the day before. The average daily issuance has grown by 330 per cent from eight thousand in July to thirty-five thousand Tags sold in November 2019. After announcement of waiver of Tag cost from 21st November, there has been a growth in FASTag issuance of over 130 per cent. FASTag is accepted on 560+ Toll Plazas and more number of plaza are getting added on daily basis.

National Electronic Toll Collection (FASTag) programme, the flagship initiative of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and NHAI has been implemented on pan India basis in order to remove bottlenecks and ensure seamless movement of traffic and collection of user fee as per the notified rates, using passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. To give a major fillip to enhance digital payments and bring in enhanced transparency, it has been mandated to declare all lanes of fee plazas on National Highways as “FASTag lanes” by 1st December 2019, while provisioning one lane (in each direction) which would be kept as hybrid lane to accept FASTag and other modes of payment.

With the above mandate, average daily transactions processed through FASTag have grown from 8.8 Lakh in July this year to 11.2 lakh transactions in November 2019, while the average daily collection has grown from Rs 11.2 crore to Rs 19.5 crore for the given period.

Certain commuters face difficulty at Toll Plaza due to low balance in FASTag. To mitigate such difficulty, commuters are advised to maintain sufficient balance in the account/wallet linked to FASTag.  All the available mode of recharge like Debit Card/Credit Card, Net-Banking and UPI have been enabled for loading money to the FASTag account.  For ease in understanding the recharging process, an easy to understand FAQ has been released.

2. I have forgotten my Tag details. How to retrieve information?

a. For bank issued FASTag (i.e. FASTag purchased from a bank)

A customer may call concerned bank’s Toll-free number written on the back side of the tag. Customer has to mention his or her user credentials (mobile number against which the tag has been registered, Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) etc.) On successful verification of use credentials, requisite information shall be provided.

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Cabinet approves big increase in the authorized capital of Food Corporation of India from Rs 3,500 crore to Rs 10,000 crore

“Source:- IBEF”
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved to increase the authorized capital of Food Corporation of India (FCI) from existing Rs 3,500 crore (US$ 500.79 million) to Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.43 billion).

With the increase of authorized capital, additional equity capital can be infused in FCI through Union Budget, to fund the foodgrains stock, perpetually held by FCI. This will reduce the borrowings of FCI, save interest cost of FCI and reduce food subsidy in consequence.

 Background:

The operations of Food Corporation of India require maintaining perpetual stock of food grains which needs to be funded by the Govt. of India through equity or long-term loan. The Govt. of India is providing equity to FCI for maintaining stocks. The present authorized equity capital of FCI is Rs 3,500 crore (US$ 500.79 million) and paid up equity capital as on 31.03.2019 is Rs 3,447.58 crore (US$ 493.29 million).

Food Corporation of India was constituted under the Food Corporations Act, 1964, to implement the food policy of Government of India. Its primary objective is to ensure Minimum Support Price to farmers, maintain buffer stock of food grains and distribution of food grains under National Food Security Act and other welfare schemes of Govt. of India.

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Zoho’s India business grows faster than other countries as more enterprises move to cloud

“Source:-Livemint”
BENGALURU : Spurred by increasing adoption of cloud-based business solutions by enterprise clients and a number of recent wins in that segment, the India business of US- and Chennai-headquartered software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm Zoho Corporation Pvt Ltd is growing at a much faster pace than its global business, according to a top company official.

Sridhar Vembu, founder and chief executive officer of Zoho said, “In India, we are getting into a lot of shortlists, even in leading enterprises. We keep landing bigger and bigger enterprises as customers… Our business in India is growing much faster than our global business.”

With over 300,000 customers, Zoho has a large base of small and medium businesses (SMBs) and an increasing number of enterprise clients, he said. “We are seeing substantial traction in the larger enterprises, in the last two or three years,” he said.

The cloud business software provider offers software solutions that are relatively more affordable, especially for SMBs. Zoho One is suite of over 45 applications across business categories such as sales, customer support, back office operations, and collaboration tools.

“We recently launched our Catalyst service offering (a full-stack serverless platform for developers) and we will do more in that area,” he added.

Zoho has offices in several countries including Japan, China, Mexico, Australia, the Netherlands, and United Arab Emirates. Vembu explained that the company is now growing “evenly across the world”. “The revenue mix is shifting, the US is well below 50% now,” he said.

“We are growing much faster in Europe, Asia Pacific, India, Middle East, Latin America and Africa. In all these markets, it is well-established, mature businesses who want to get on to digital transformation,” he added.

The privately-held company is believed to have a topline of over $500 million, and has close to 8,000 employees. Zoho competes with Salesforce, Microsoft and other SaaS companies such as Freshworks.

Vembu said that their business model and structure gives Zoho a competitive advantage. “We have never sought external funding. We prefer to stay the way we are. Customers have come to appreciate a company like us…long-term focused, private, and not subject to quarterly shareholder pressure,” he said.

“We have always been profitable. And we are growing at a solid clip,” he said.

Mohsin Baig, Market Analyst, Enterprise Software at IDC India, said that the rapid adoption of SaaS solutions by both the enterprise and SMB segments in India is “driven by tactical decisions, where you can see the benefits within 6-12 months”.

Compared to on-premise solutions that require intensive capital investments, SMBs continue to opt for SaaS solutions that enables them to purchase only the solutions they need instead of the entire suite.

Ease of deployment of SaaS solutions, guaranteed implementation of service level agreements (SLAs), abundant availability of workforce for technical support and software development, improved features and functionalities of these products are some of the main reasons for rapid adoption of cloud-based solutions, Baig said.

According to research firm Gartner, the worldwide public cloud services market is forecast to grow by 17% in 2020 to over $266 billion. SaaS, it said, will remain the largest market segment, forecast to grow to $116 billion next year.

In a statement in June this year, Gartner had said that India ranked among the nine countries whose growth rate (of public cloud services revenue) will be higher than the global average growth rate. Gartner estimated India’s SaaS revenue to grow 23% to $1.15 billion, this year.

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India continues to be world’s 3rd largest startup hub, adds 1,300 startups this year

“Source:-CNBC”
India continues to hold its position as the country with the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world with the addition of more than 1,300 startups in 2019, IT industry body Nasscom indicated in its annual report.

With this, the total number of startups incepted during 2014-19 stands at 8,900-9,300, with overall base growing at 12-15 percent year-on-year, said the report.

According to the report, the total funding in startups has come in at $4.4 billion between January and September this year, up 5 percent year-on-year.

Not just this, India also witnessed the addition of seven Unicorns in the first eight months of 2019, taking the total to 24. This is the third-highest number of Unicorns in a single country in the world, after the USA and China, that have 203 and 206 Unicorns, respectively.

The startups have generated an estimated 60,000 direct jobs and 1.3-1.8 lakh indirect jobs this year, Nasscom said.

Nasscom added that the trend seen over the year indicated that startups were focussing more towards the B2B space as almost 50 percent of the country’s total startups were into enterprise-focused services.

More than 18 percent startups are now leveraging deep-tech, meaning there are over 1,600 such companies in the country. The number constituted only 8 percent of startups established in 2014 but has witnessed a 40 percent CAGR over the past five years, the report said.

Although startups have shown steady and sustained growth, Nasscom says the government and corporates need to focus on increasing their role as prominent stakeholders in startups to stimulate innovation.

Nasscom expects that the Indian Unicorn club could grow to 95-105 in 2025. The startups would have a cumulative valuation of $350-390 billion by the year, it added.

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French beauty products retailer Sephora eyes 50 stores in India by 2020

“Source:- IBEF”
Sephora, a French beauty products retailer launched its first store in Gujarat at Ahmedabad, having a range of exclusive brands including Benefit, Caolion, Smash Box, Aveda, Percy. This adds diversification for Sephora India’s master franchisee Arvind Fashions Limited.

The company plans to make the total number of stores to 50 by 2020 and is planning to open stores in Surat and Vadodara. This store marks as 23rd store at Nexus Mall-operated Ahmedabad One mall in the city.

Sephora – a brand of LVMH Moet Hannessy Louis Vuitton made its entry in India market in partnership with Arvind Fashions in 2015. Mr. Vivek Bali, CEO, Sephora India at Arvind Beauty Brands, said that since its India entry, the brand has grown with a CAGR of 63 per cent and gained a market share of 28-30 per cent in the US$ 1.2 billion (roughly Rs 8,600 crore) premium beauty market in the country.

“Our target is to open 6-8 stores every year and reach 50 stores by 2022. The premium category market is growing at 18 per cent, but we have clocked a CAGR of 63 per cent over the last four years,” said Mr. Bali.

The focus of the brand is on make-up, skincare, fragrances, bath and body categories, beauty accessories and haircare categories and provide a curated assortment of 110 top beauty brands including Sephora Collection, new brands, beauty classics, cult favourites and emerging brands.

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Godrej Appliances to invest Rs 700 crore for capacity expansion

“Source:- IBEF”
Godrej Appliances will invest Rs 700 crore (US$ 100.16 million) by 2022, in order to increase its annual appliance production capacity by 19 lakh units to 65 lakh units per annum. This investment takes the tally of Godrej Appliances’ investment in capacity and technology expansion to Rs 1100 crore (US$ 157.39 million) over a period of six years.

The plan is not to just increase capacity but to also add new technologies and carry out backward integration, according to the company.

“This investment broadens Godrej Appliances’ capability and reflects our commitment to providing customers with exceptional products, while attesting our alignment towards ‘Make in India’. Through this expansion, we aim to take brand Godrej to even greater heights utilizing our strength of manufacturing expertise. The proposed expansion once complete will allow us to meet the increasing demand for premium products from Indian customers better,” said Mr. Kamal Nandi, Business Head & EVP, Godrej Appliances.

The company intends to increase the presently available capacity for both fully automatic top load washing machines and semi-automatic washing machines, at its Shirwal and Mohali plant respectively. A new product line will be introduced for fully automatic front load washing machines with 4 lakh annual capacity.

The brand plans to expand the production capacity for its refrigerator category of both premium range and mass range by 33 per cent.

This investment is focused towards manufacturing of power efficient chest freezers and 30 lakh units of compressors utilizing newer technology in the product and processes. Some part of the investment will be used for backward integration of air conditioners at the Shirwal factory.

This capacity enhancement plan for both its manufacturing units is also in line with Godrej Appliances’ ongoing premiumisation focus, it said.

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Paytm raises a billion dollars at a valuation of US$ 16 billion, plans expansion

“Source:- IBEF”
Paytm, the country’s top financial technology entity, has raised US$ 1 billion (Rs 7,200 crore), at a valuation of US$ 16 billion, from existing shareholders Ant Financial, Softbank Vision Fund and also new investors, including funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates, among others in a mega funding round.

Over the next three years, Paytm plans to invest an amount of Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.43 billion) in order to expand its services in tier-III cities and smaller towns. Discovery Capital, which is an existing shareholder, also participated in the round. Paytm plans to invest Rs 10,000 crore over the next three years, with the stated aim of expanding its services in tier-III cities and smaller towns.

After this funding round, the Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led fintech giant became a top-tier Asian digital firm, much ahead of others. The company has made US$ 1 billion equity closure in this round, where SoftBank Vision Fund (SVF) invested US$ 200 million, Jack Ma’s Ant Financial added US$ 400 million and the rest balance amount came from T Rowe Price and Discovery, among others.

This comes amidst when the investors are not making big bets on companies and SoftBank is still recovering from the WeWork Initial Public Offer debacle. As of now, Paytm has raised an amount a little over US$ 2.5 billion in investments. The investments from the latest round would be focused on further expanding its payment and financial services business.

“Paytm is a great opportunity. We are addressing the India opportunity the best possible way. I think the very business model of acquiring customers and small businesses and bringing them to the formal financial system is viable and our investors understand that. India is underserved when it comes to financial services and this investment will be used to expand in that direction; our investors believe in that goal…Paytm is reaching its monetisation phase, where other financial services in due course will start bringing in revenue, so it becomes a story of a mature digital financial services company,” founder Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma said.

The company started having the talks for the new funding round last year in December and since then had several rounds of discussion with its investors. The existing investors were interested in raising their stakes to fuel the next level of expansion.

“Talks started almost two board meetings back, sometime in December. When we had the Tokyo board meeting in September (this year), we concluded the terms and the agreement happened”,added Mr. Sharma.

The company in its first phase of growth, brought in low-cost digital payments acceptability, using its QR-code technology to shops and retailers and now plans to add a host of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the mix, enabling small merchants in towns to more easily accept digital payment.

“We are adding physical devices, IoT-based devices, which will enable QR payments, card payments. Devices and IoT-led payment solutions would become an important part in our next level of journey. We have been doing beta tests of some of our IoT devices, which are proving quite successful. Payment driven by mobile phone and QR code is taking the next leap, where merchants will have many device options that will help them to avoid fraud, scale (up) business systems and bring efficiency and trust,” promises Mr. Sharma.

According to Paytm, it now serves merchants in a little over 2,000 cities and towns, in 650 districts.

Paytm will use this Rs 10,000 crore to add as many small merchants and businesses as possible into its fold, although, its competition, including Google Pay and PhonePe, are spending massively on cashbacks.

“We are not that much in P2P (peer-to-peer). We will continue to double down and spend aggressively more into better IoT devices, so that it helps us in signing up small merchants. Our primary business model is merchant payments and the larger part of the funds would be spent there,” he added.

Despite the stiff competition faced by Paytm from other players, company has continued to hold its position as the biggest payments’ player in the country. The sector experts believe that this funding round will help strengthen the company.

The main focus of the company is to expand its reach of its financial services for the company and its backers. Mr. Sharma said there are no plan of going public, as of now. “There is no commitment that we have made for going public. We have clearly said that we want the financial services business to (first) take off. Paytm has been able to build a business that is contribution positive; we are since last year getting into financial services,” he added.

As per the company, Paytm Payments Bank has around 50 million accounts and is among the few mandated by the ministry of electronics and information technology to drive the highest targets for merchant acquisition and digital transactions.

Paytm Money, the financial services firm, is at present one of the largest contributors of new Systematic Investment Plans to the mutual funds segment. It has by now received approval to launch stock broking, dematerialisation services and National Pension System services.

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All India Institute of Ayurveda Signs MoU with Western Sydney University Australia

“Source:- IBEF”
All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Western Sydney University, Australia at New Delhi. The MoU will promote the collaboration in research and developing guidelines for integrating Ayurveda principles with modern medicine.

Professor Barney Glover, Vice Chancellor, Western Sydney University, Australia and Prof. Tanuja Nesari, Director, All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) signed the Memorandum of Understanding on 22nd November during the visit of the delegation led by Dan Tehan, Minister for education, Australian Government. The signing ceremony took place at Ministry of AYUSH.

The memorandum was agreed and exchange on the occasion of the event “India Australia International Education and Research Workshop” at Ambedkar International Center, New Delhi. The exchange took place in presence of Shri Ramesh Pokharial, Human Resource Development Minister and Dan Tehan Minister for Education, Australian Government along with H.E Ms. Harinder Sidhu Australian High Commissioner to India.

“Both Institutions are committed to take the collaboration to the next Higher Level by identifying specific areas for collaboration in education, research and practices of Traditional medicine while ensuring the quality standards and also by encouraging investment in traditional medicine related infrastructure. Complementing the Traditional Ayurveda Medicine with conventional concepts of Modern Medicine is expected in generating scientific evidences that further help in contributing to the global healthcare”

India is a priority country among Australia’s international partnerships. The signed memorandum is another milestone in the history of health care industry. Combining data-driven precision based technologies and Ayurvedic medicine will be a valuable contribution to the current goals for providing a better and safe health care system to the Universe, specifically towards developing a safe and effective integration of traditional and complementary medicine”, stated Professor Barney Glover, Vice Chancellor WSU.

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Paytm to invest Rs 500 crore in early-stage tech start-ups

“Source: The New Indian Express”
One of India’s biggest start-up success stories, Paytm, has announced that it will start investing in early-stage deep technology start-ups which are building technologies and solutions that can complement the digital payments ecosystem. According to a statement from the firm earlier this week, Paytm is planning to invest as much as Rs 500 crore into such companies over the next few years.

“The company has set aside ₹500 crore to invest in early-stage companies that build complementary technologies augmenting the digital ecosystem,” Paytm said in a statement, adding that it will focus companies that are working on artificial intelligence-based technology and big data solutions to make its investment, in order to acquire or develop innovative solutions that can generate large scale employment.

“We are well aligned with our country’s mission to ensure that the benefits of the digital revolution reach the last mile,” said Paytm Deputy Chief Financial Officer Vikas Garg, “We partner with startups who have capabilities that augment the digital ecosystem for the next wave of growth. These investments are also an indication that Paytm believes India’s entrepreneur ecosystem is innovative”.

Paytm expects to employ technology across the growing internet to become the dominant player in artifical intelligence, it added. Over the recent past, Paytm has typically invested around Rs 200-250 crore every year in intellectual properties or companies building complementary technologies. A few such firms Paytm has chosen to invest in include names like Insider, Nearbuy and Loginext.

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Digital video consumption grows over twofold in two years: BCG-CII report

“Source: Economic Times”
Average digital video consumption  in the country has increased over twofold in the past two years to 24 minutes per day from 11 minutes per day, according to a report. An increase of 10-15 per cent in the number of sessions (hours per day) along with 15 to 25 per cent rise in the average time per session on digital video  from 2018 have helped the average consumption grow, said a Boston Consulting Group-Confederation of Indian Industry report titled ‘The trillion (and growing) touchpoint story – recognising the monetisation conundrum’.

Though India’s per-capita media consumption continues to grow with all forms of media rising simultaneously maintaining the unique multi-modal growth format, digital media is driving overall growth with at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 per cent over the past two years.

“Digital video consumption has increased from 11mins/day to 24mins/day over the past 2 years,” said the report adding that the number could increase further with growing internet  and smartphone  penetration.

It added that internet penetration, along with growing affluence and smartphone penetration, is expected to rise in future, further driving growth in digital.

According to the report, two out of every three phones sold in India are smartphones now.

“India has the second-largest base of smartphones in the world, setting up a massive platform for digital video consumption. Moreover, India has witnessed a dramatic reduction in data cost over the past 2-3 years. This is leading to higher data usage — India has the highest per-capita consumption of data at 9.8 gigabytes per month,” it said.

Besides, advertisements in digital videos are also able to retain more visual attention than traditional TV.

“Fifty-five per cent viewers use TV advertising time in multitasking, switching screens or skipping content. In comparison, mobile advertising commands more viewer attention,” it added.

The industry has set the bar on generating compelling content, creating new experiences for both their viewers and advertisers.

“The coming year is truly pivotal for the industry as they seek to raise the bar once again in possibly challenging times ahead. However, if the past is anything to go by, then the industry will not only rise to the expectations but turn the adversity into an advantage,” the report added.

 

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Tata Communications, Microsoft tie up for developments in connected cars

“Source: Economic Times”
New Delhi: 
Tata Communications  has partnered with Microsoft  to accelerate development in connected cars by enabling auto manufacturers to offer a seamless driving experience.

By combining the IoT (Internet-of-Things) connectivity and network intelligence capabilities of Tata Communications MOVE with the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, Tata Communications will enable automotive manufacturers to offer consumers worldwide more seamless and secure driving experiences, it said in a press release.

“To unleash the full potential of V2X applications, businesses in the connected car ecosystem must be able to capture, move and manage gigabytes of vehicle data securely and seamlessly across the globe. That’s what our latest collaboration with Microsoft is all about – we want to turn that future potential into reality and pave the way for new disruptive connected car services.”

The Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform combines cloud and edge services with a strong partner network. It will be capable to equip vehicles with encrypted vehicle-to-cloud connectivity globally through the Tata Communications MOVE platform to address key challenges that complicate the creation of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) applications.

Those challenges include data security concerns around in-vehicle systems as well as their safety; the scalability, interoperability and effective management of these systems across the connected car ecosystem; and the ability to connect them across country borders.

Tata Communications MOVE also enables automotive OEMs to solve all their vehicle connectivity needs from a single source. By analysing networks in real-time, they are able to choose the best performing and most cost-effective mobile network in any given country, leveraging Tata Communications’ relationships with more than 600 mobile network operators worldwide.

“Connectivity through the Tata Communications MOVE platform, together with the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform’s secure and compliant cloud platform, ensures the security and integrity of data across a range of scenarios, including predictive maintenance, remote monitoring and control, and advanced navigation,” said Tara Prakriya, Partner Group Program Manager, Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform and Mobility, Microsoft.

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MUBI launches in India with a channel dedicated to Indian films

“Source: Economic Times”
MUMBAI: Curated film streaming service MUBI has been launched in India.

The streaming platform offers a collection of hand-picked films, introducing a new film every day, with the selection being guided by local culture and cinema.

The users will be able to select from variety of films through two channels — MUBI India

MUBI INDIA will bring local cinema to the users every day, including Kamal Swaroop’s cult film “Om Dar-B-Dar”, Kanu Behl’s “Binnu Ka Sapna”, and the critically acclaimed, ghost film, “Duvidha” from Indian art-house master Mani Kaul.

MUBI WORLD will introduce one new film from around the globe each day.

Titles playing include Asif Kapadia’s “Amy”, Steve McQueen’s powerful and multi Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave” and “A Bigger Splash”.

The service is available to stream and download on the web, mobile devices, Smart TVs and streaming sticks.

“MUBI’s human approach to curation is refreshingly simple and each day it is guaranteed that you will be able to watch a beautiful, interesting film.

“I’m thrilled we have launched a dedicated channel for Indian cinema as it means that film lovers can now watch amazing films like ‘Salaam Bombay’ and ‘Andaz Apna Apna’, alongside globally renowned gems like ‘Moonlight’,” producer Guneet Monga, who joined MUBI as a content advisor in September, said in a statement.

Efe Cakarel, Founder and CEO of MUBI said they are happy to bring the spotlight on Indian filmmakers through their platform.

“We want more people to watch great cinema. That’s why MUBI exists. I can’t wait to see people enjoying the incredible line-up of films we have, and I’m delighted that we can now spotlight local filmmakers and cinema through MUBI INDIA every single day,” Cakarel said.

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Google enters battle for cloud gaming market

“Source: Livemint”
Ever-expanding Google becomes a gaming company Tuesday with the launch of its Stadia cloud service that lets people play console-quality video games on a web browser or smartphone. The internet giant hopes to break into the global video game industry expected to top $150 billion this year, with cloud technology that could broaden audiences attracted by rich new features as well as ease of access with no more need for consoles.

But analysts say Stadia’s outlook is uncertain as it faces rivals such as PlayStation Now in an emerging and highly-competitive market. Stadia plays into a trend in which content—ranging from blockbuster films to work projects—lives in the cloud and is accessible from any device. “All of these new services are merely pointing out that we don’t need sophisticated hardware in the home to access entertainment,” said Wedbush Securities equity research managing director Michael Pachter.

Google last month sold out of “Founder’s Edition” kits, which are priced at $129. Each kit contains a Stadia controller and a pendant-shaped Chromecast Ultra wireless connection device that plugs into television sets.

Stadia games are playable using Google Chrome web browser software on computers. It also works with Google-made Pixel smartphones from the second-generation onward, and on televisions.

Stadia Pro subscriptions, priced at $10 a month in the US, will be available in 14 countries in North America and Europe. But analysts say Stadia could wind up as another “bet” that Google walks away from if it fails to live up to expectations.

“Stadia will live or die by its content,” said Ovum senior analyst George Jijiashvili.

“The announced 12 launch titles are underwhelming.” Subscribers will be able to buy games that will be hosted at Google data-centers, but some free games will be available to subscribers, starting with Destiny 2: The Collection. Stadia on smartphones will work with WiFi connections rather than rely on mobile telecom services.

Being able to play without lags or interruptions is paramount to gamers, and flawed internet connections could cause frustration. Internet speed will also determine how rich in-game graphics can be.

Some promised features such as integration with YouTube will not be in place at launch.

“Stadia appears to be rushed out the door before fully ready and, worryingly, Google is risking falling short on its promises,” Jijiashvili said.

“These shortcomings however would be easily overlooked if Google can deliver a very reliable and high-quality game streaming service.” Google appears committed to doing just that, according to Ubisoft senior vice-president of partnerships Chris Early.

The French video game giant has been working with Google and its games are among titles coming to the service. “From what I have seen, their plans are too deep; they are too good, and they are too invested,” Early said. “They are not calling it quits any time soon.” He expects a long launch period during which Google will beef up Stadia.

“If there is a one-day problem at launch, it isn’t the end of the world; it isn’t even close,” he said, stressing the potential for Stadia to let people play without investing in consoles.

Sony and Microsoft are also poised to release new-generation video game consoles next year.

“While we expect dedicated consoles to eventually lose relevance in the face of cloud gaming services, there’s no guarantee that it will be Google’s service—rather than Sony and Microsoft’s—that catalyzes this trend,” said Ovum senior analyst Matthew Bailey.

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Airbnb counts India among its top three fastest growing EMs

“Source: IBEF”
India is considered to be the three fastest-growing emerging markets for Airbnb and will continue to see more investments from the online homestay company influenced by the globetrotting Indian millennials, a top company official said.

“Europe and North America are the largest markets for us but from an emerging (economy) standpoint, India is in the top three and growing one of the fastest. I expect it to continue to grow for quite some time as a growing number of people here are discovering travel-both domestic and internationally,” said Mr. Greg Greeley, president of homes, Airbnb.

Kerala has emerged among the top 20 global destinations for 2020 in a study by Airbnb, with increase in India’s popularity on the platform. Airbnb has also entered in agreement with the Nagaland government and will be the accommodation partner for the Hornbill festival next month.

Airbnb was founded in 2008, having presence in 191 countries and launched its platform in May 2016 in India, where it has 54,000 listings across 110 cities. The company offers a range of accommodation options consisting from apartments and villas to castles, treehouses and bed-and-breakfast. Airbnb is the brainchild of three friends, Mr. Joe Gebbia, Mr. Brian Chesky and Mr. Nathan Blecharczyk. It began out as an idea to turn their loft into an area that could fit air mattresses, and offer breakfast, to host travellers coming for a design conference in San Francisco. At present, Mr. Chesky is now the chief executive officer whereas Mr. Gebbia the chief product officer. Eleven years on, the company says it is ready for an initial public offering (IPO) in 2020. It has also announced plans to venture into the transportation segment, and for that it even hired aviation industry professional Mr. Fred Reid as the global head of transportation in January 2019. This, Airbnb believes, is crucial for it to emerge as an end-to-end travel experience provider across categories.

“The big picture for us is the end-to-end journey and if we can bring people powered experiences that are unique, authentic, local and not mass produced,” Mr. Greg said.

“We are positioning ourselves to help our community on the entire trip-from the inspiration of where I would like to go to how do I get there, where do I stay and what do I do when I get there. Also, we would like to help people on their return and that checking back into their own home is as easy as it is to check into a place on your holiday,” Mr. Greeley said.

Aside from accommodation, the platform also offers experiences which are unique to each region such as food tours, biking tours, pottery classes and museum tours, among others.

“We continue to grow the homestay, but we also think about how that can be the anchor for all the other parts of the travel experience. One of the most successful experiences in India booked by guests which sold out very quickly was a thali with food from different parts of the country,” he added.

The Gudliya Suite in City Palace of Jaipur is the new heritage accommodation unveiled by Airbnb. This palace was built in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, who is the founder of the city of Jaipur, and continues to be home to Jaipur’s royal family. Gudliya Suite is rated at US$ 8,000 per night.

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India will emerge as the torchbearer of banking reforms, says Dr. Jitendra Singh

“Source: IBEF”
The Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (I/C), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh has said India will emerge as the torchbearer of banking reforms in the world as we aim to be a global superpower. Inaugurating the two-day India Banking Conclave here today, he said under the leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Government has unleashed the huge potential our Banking Sector is capable of during the last more than five years. “This marks the beginning of India’s journey towards achieving the US$ 5 trillion economy,” he said.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said the Government’s thrust on ‘Make in India’ and ‘Ease of doing Business’ is dependent primarily upon the ‘Ease of Banking’, besides improved communication, digitalization and connectivity.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana has transformed the banking landscape in the country. “From being a Zero Balance account scheme for every family, the deposits under the scheme have swelled to thousands of crores,” he said. “This proves the Jan Dhan Yojana is not only about economic empowerment, but it has become a matter of self-esteem for the poor as they rise to contribute to India’s economy,” he added.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said several such innovative schemes including the Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Mudra Yojana, Stand Up India- Start Up India schemes, PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, geotagging of NG-NREGA and DBT have stopped pilferage and helped better target welfare schemes for poverty alleviation. Minimum Pension has been raised to Rs 1,000 at the initiative of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. “For the first time initial seed capital funding has been introduced under the Venture Fund in the North-Eastern Region with an aim to stem the exodus of people,” he said. “It is the vision of Shri Narendra Modi that the nearly century old Indian Forest Act, 1927 was amended to exempt bamboo from its purview and promote its commercial exploitation which will create jobs and industry in the NER,” he added.

Dr. Jitendra Singh said in 2014, soon after taking over the reins of the Government, the Prime Minister had said he is committed to serve the welfare of the poor. “This is the beginning of a journey from pessimism to optimism,”said Dr. Jitendra Singh quoting from his tweet on the day Shri Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister for the first time in 2014.

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India world’s most open, investment friendly economy: PM Modi at BRICS Business Forum

“Source: Economic Times”
India is the world’s most “open and investment friendly” economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Thursday as he wooed the BRICS  business leaders, urging them to invest in the country and take advantage of its “limitless” possibilities and “countless” opportunities.

Addressing the closing ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum, prime minister Modi said the grouping of five countries had led to economic development despite the global economic slowdown.

“India is the most open and investment friendly economy in the world due to political stability, predictable policy and business friendly reforms. By 2024, we want to make India a five trillion dollar economy. The infrastructure alone requires USD 1.5 trillion investment,” he said.

Noting that India has “limitless” possibilities and “countless” opportunities, the prime minister urged the BRICS business leaders to take advantage of them.

“I invite the business of BRICS countries to build and grow their presence in India,” he said.

“BRICS countries account for 50 per cent of the world’s economic growth. Despite the recession in the world, BRICS countries accelerated economic growth, drove millions out of poverty and achieved new breakthroughs in technology and innovation. Now ten years after the founding of BRICS, this forum is a good platform to consider the direction of our efforts in the future,” Modi said.

The prime minister said simplifying intra-BRICS business will increase mutual trade and investment.

“Tax and customs procedures between us five countries are getting easier. The business environment is getting easier with the collaboration between intellectual property rights, and banks. I request the BRICS Business Forum to study the necessary business initiatives to take full advantage of the opportunities thus generated,” he said.

“I would also like to request that priority areas in business be identified among us for the next ten years and based on them blue print of Intra-BRICS collaboration should be made,” Modi said.

The prime minister said the market size, diversity and complementarities of the members of the BRICS countries were very beneficial to each other and urged the forum to map such complementarities in the five countries.

“If one BRICS country has technology, the other is related to raw materials or markets. Such possibilities are especially in electric vehicles, digital technology, fertilizer, agricultural products, food processing. I would urge the forum to map such complementarities in five countries. I would also like to suggest that at least five such areas should be identified by the next BRICS Summit in which joint ventures can be formed between us on the basis of complementarities,” he said.

“Important initiatives like innovation BRICS Network, and BRICS Institution for Future Network will be considered during tomorrow’s summit. I request the private sector to join these efforts focused on human resources. Connecting young entrepreneurs with these initiatives will also give more strength to business and innovation,” Modi said.

The prime minister said there was a possibility of making travel, business and employment between the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa ) countries more easy.

He thanked President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro  for his government’s decision to give Indians visa-free entry in his country.

“I thank the President of Brazil for deciding the visa free entry to Indians. We five countries should also consider mutual social security agreement,” Modi said.

Prime minister Modi is in Brazil for the 11th BRICS Summit which will focus on building mechanisms for counter-terrorism cooperation and strengthen India’s ties with the world’s five major economies.

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Top IT institutes to build ecosystem for 5,000 startups

“Source: The Hindu Business Line”
The Action For India (AFI), International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-H), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-H) and T-Hub have joined hands to build social entrepreneurship ecosystem to help startups to scale up their reach.

The four entities have signed an agreement on Friday with a target to support over 5,000 startups in the next five years.

The agreement, signed at the annual Action For India Forum 2019 here on Friday, would pool up the experiences and resources to create an ecosystem to support tech-enabled, social impact startups. The partners will help the target group of startups to scale up their operations.

“India requires both venture model startups and social model startups to become a five trillion-dollar economy. The venture model startups have almost reached maturity. But social enterprises that improve quality of life of people by deploying technology need solid support and a robust growth ecosystem,” Ravi Narayan, Chief Executive Office of T-Hub, said.

T-Hub is collaborating with like-minded ecosystem enablers like IITH, IIITH and AFI to utilise their expertise and experiences to build a social impact ecosystem that will provide scaling support to social entrepreneurs, he said.

“The alliance will address the critical challenges that social entrepreneurs face. These challenges include working on their business models, discoveryof markets, building go-to-market strategies and scale-up strategies,” Sanjay Kadaveru, CEO of AFI, said.

AFI, a social impact-driven platform for entrepreneurs, will tap its network to help the startups that would be covered in the initiative. It will also take help from its AFI Impact Investment Fund and Silicon Valley Leadership Circle in this regard.

On their part, IIT-H and IIIT-H will also help the startups by providing technology upgradation and support using their government connections.

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Opinion | To make India the factory of the world

“Source: Livemint”
The best way to look at India’s latest strategic thrust, aimed at turning the country into a manufacturing hub for the world by linking up with supply chains that girdle the globe, is from a global vantage point. With the US-China trade war in its second year now, old business arrangements are under severe stress. American companies that have long used Chinese factories to crank out low-cost products for various markets find themselves under US policy pressure to either pull out of China entirely, or rework their production models to shift key operations elsewhere. US President Donald Trump might just raise tariffs on Chinese imports to 30% this October, enough to disrupt the cost calculations of the most resilient firms that make products in China. This presents India an opportunity to plug a vacuum, and the Narendra Modi government has moved in to seize it. On Wednesday, it said it would open the domestic field of contract manufacturing to 100% foreign ownership of ventures, a move explicitly designed to attract global players currently in search of low-cost locations for production units. Coupled with the easing of local-sourcing conditions imposed on foreign single-brand retailers in India, the reform serves as a big “Welcome” board, especially to chief executive officers in the US who have been mulling a response to the worsening commercial ties across the Pacific. In this context, all eyes are now on Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook. If this marquee brand were to quit China for India, goes the hope, several others may follow.

It is one thing to issue an invitation, however, and quite another to win decisions in India’s favour. Our country does not have much of a reputation for manufacturing efficiency. The sector has languished, as a proportion of the overall economic pie, even as services have leapt ahead. While it is true that new investors could transform the way products are put together by bringing in practices perfected elsewhere, analysts have long expressed concerns about low productivity here. Excessive red tape, which tends to raise corruption levels, has been another deterrent to foreign investment. The ease of doing business in India has risen in recent years though, as measured by the World Bank, and inflows from overseas businesses have been rising apace. Quick ground-level clearances could make a difference as well. In other words, the problems of the past need not persist in the future.

Or could they? For India to try replacing China as the world’s factory, a prospect that holds out the dream of job generation by the million, the country would need to enhance its overall competitiveness as a manufacturer. This is primarily about allowing companies to meet high quality standards at the lowest possible cost. Broadly, the Chinese success formula so far has involved the large-scale use—and even diversion—of state resources to subsidize mass production, not to speak of labour conditions that some consider repressive. In a democracy like ours, due caution should be exercised before attempting to emulate such ideas. Even on keeping export price tags low, China is not a good role model. Indeed, integration with global supply chains would require the Indian rupee’s value to be export-oriented, which could mean letting it slide when appropriate, but policymakers must resist currency manipulation. India must make its market and democratic forces work in tandem as it sets about creating conditions that would spur efficiency and turn “Made in India” into a routine sight across the world.

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Blackstone invests Rs 1,750 cr in Future Lifestyle Fashion

“Source: Economic Times”
Mumbai: New York-based private equity firm has invested Rs 1,750 crore in Future Lifestyle Fashion  (FLF), the Future Group’s flagship fashion business that owns several retail chains including Central and Brand Factory, in an equity and debt deal that the lifestyle retailer has used to reduce pledged stock and potentially pare other liabilities.

Blackstone had acquired about 6% stake in Ryka Commercial  Ventures, the holding company of the fashion business, for about Rs 545 crore through a bulk deal in a secondary market transaction in July. The Rs 1,750 crore investment includes the secondary market component.

ET was the first to report in July that Blackstone would infuse $250 million in FLF through a combination of equity and structured debt to fund the capital expansion of Biyani’s deep-discount retail format, Brand Factory — which is modelled on US retailer TJ Maxx — and improve his promoter-level leverage.

“Blackstone will support us in the continued growth of our fashion business, bringing global perspectives that will help us take FLF to the next level,” said Kishore Biyani , Group CEO of Future Group.

The rest of the money is being pumped in through debentures and will be used to retire or pre-close all existing financial obligations, Future Group said. “This is our first investment in this sector.

We look forward to being a value-added investor as FLF and the Future Group continue to cater to the fashion needs of aspiring India,” said Luv Parikh, who is a managing director in Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities Group in Singapore.

Hindustan Unilever’s former chairman Harish Manwani, who is currently senior operating partner at Blackstone, will act as an advisor. Blackstone will also have a board seat in FLF.

Earlier, 26.4% of the promoter holding in FLF had been pledged to financial institutions, but the Blackstone deal has helped cut that to 18%, Future Group said.

Biyani and family own 53.43% of FLF through entities such as Ryka, Central Departmental Stores and Future Enterprises, among others.

“To fully align with the promoter group, Blackstone has ring-fenced the promoter holding from further dilution,” the company said in an investor presentation.

This means the investment by Blackstone will ensure no more shares are pledged to financial institutions, apart from the current 18%. “FLF has rolled out a strategic plank…business side, capital allocation, cost efficiencies and balance sheet.

As the company continues to deliver on these planks, we do see some scope for re-rating,” said Abneesh Roy, senior vice president at Edelweiss Securities.

FLF’s other prominent investors include L Catterton and PremjiInvest, which together own around 17%, L&T Mutual Fund, which owns 4%, and LIC, which has a 6.5% stake.

This year, the fashion retailer also raised about Rs 300 crore from AION Capital Partners through preferential allotment of shares.

Future Group generates its biggest chunk from food and grocery retailing, but the apparel and lifestyle segment is a higher-margin business. FLF grew 27% last fiscal year, with revenues of Rs 5,728 crore. The firm manages nearly 30 brands, including Indigo Nation and Lee Cooper, through 346 stores across 7.2 million square feet of retail space.

 

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India to spend $1.4 trillion on infra in next 5 years: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

“Source: Business Today”
As part of its goal to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024, India plans to spend USD 1.4 trillion on its infrastructure in the next five years, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.

Addressing the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) here, Sitharaman said a task force has been constituted in the finance ministry that will draw up a national infrastructure pipeline for the next five years.

“As we envisage becoming a five trillion-dollar economy by 2024-25, our focus on creating world-class infrastructure has become even more resolute. If we spent USD 1.1 trillion on infrastructure in the last 10 years (2008-17), we now are going to invest about USD 1.4 trillion in the next five years,” she said.

India, she said, has taken various steps to enhance infrastructure investment by launching innovative financial vehicles such as Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs), Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) and laying down a framework for municipal bonds.

“We are already applying Public Private Partnership (PPP) models in the country. We have adopted the Asset Recycling model to modernize existing infrastructure, like highways, while providing government with upfront capital to support new infrastructure,” she said.

India is also trying to develop brownfield assets as a separate asset class for infrastructure investment, the finance minister said.

Such assets, having passed the stages of land acquisition and environmental and forest clearances, are considerably de-risked and hence, institutional investment from pension, insurance and sovereign wealth funds are forthcoming in such assets, she said.

Another initiative is the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), which is aimed at channeling investments from both domestic and international sources into infrastructure, the minister noted.

India’s experience with such innovative modes of funding holds an important example in financing of infrastructure for other developing countries, she said.

Noting that the rural economy is vital for India, which depends heavily on agriculture, she said the country has achieved high food grains production but returns in the sector are somewhat subdued due to a dip in agricultural commodity prices globally and depressed food prices domestically.

“To provide relief by way of income support to the farmers, the government has announced the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) this year…nearly 145 million beneficiaries in total will stand covered under this scheme,” she said.

Sitharaman said India is adopting Zero Budget Natural Farming model to promote the use of organic seeds and natural fertilizers by farmers.

“This will reduce their expenditure and remove their dependence on credit. Such a step would contribute to our goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022,” she asserted.

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No 5 per cent slump; India continues to be fastest growing economy: Govt

“Source: Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: India is not facing 5 per cent economic slowdown and continues to be the fastest growing economy in the world, Union Minister Anurag Thakur  said in Lok Sabha on Monday.

During Question Hour, Thakur also said that a number of steps are being taken by the government to strengthen the economy that includes merger of banks and tax concessions to industries.

“There is no 5 per cent slump. Where did you get the figure. Show us,” he countered when Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann said the country is facing slump in the economy.

The Union minister of state for finance said India continues to the fastest growing economy in the world even though many countries in the world are facing economic slowdown.

“By 2025, India will be a five trillion dollars economy,” he said.

Highlighting series of steps taken by the government to strengthen the economy, Thakur said tax concessions have been given to industries, foreign direct investments and MSME sector.

The minister said several banks have been merged with bigger banks and ultimate aim of the government is to keep four strong banks with solid footing and ensure increased economic activities.

He said strong actions have been taken against blackmoney and number of tax payers has been doubled due to demonetisation and implementation of the GST  regime.

Thakur said as per the National Statistical Office (NSO), the GDP growth on average was 7.5 per cent in 2014-19, which is the highest amongst G-20 countries.

The minister said the government has been taking several measures to address moderate levels of fixed investment rate in the economy, plateauing of private consumption rate and a modest export performance, with a view to increasing the GDP growth of the country.

Thakur said in the last five years, the government implemented major reforms to build the investment climate in the country for becoming a US 5 trillion-dollar economy.

He said introduction of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) in 2016 is a significant step towards cleaning and strengthening of the financial system of the country.

Implementation of Goods and Services Tax in 2017 stands out as the most important measure for improving ease of doing business in the country and Make-in-India programme is a major initiative towards increasing the indigenous capacity of the country to produce world class goods and services, he said.

Thakur said continuous liberalisation has resulted in record and unprecedented inflows of foreign direct investment into the country and all along the government has kept inflation low, fiscal spending disciplined and current account deficit manageable to ensure macroeconomic stability to sustain a healthy investment climate in the country.

“More recently government has cut corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 22 per cent to boost investment activity in the country. In particular, the corporate tax rate has been cut to 15 per cent for new domestic manufacturing companies which is amongst the lowest in the world,” he said.

Thakur said one of the objectives of GST is to make India a common market with a view to sustaining a high level of GDP growth in the country.

Further, in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 Report, India’s ranking improved by 14 positions to 63 in 2019 from 77 in 2018 after GST was implemented in 2017, he said.

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Netherlands to cooperate with India to become the food factory of the world

“Source: Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Netherlands  can contribute to connect the production capacity of India to consumers worldwide, by excellent logistics and cold chain, says Dutch vice-minister of Agriculture.Marjolijn Sonnema who is India with a trade delegation.

To strengthen the relations in agriculture, horticulture and climate, the delegation of over 37 business delegates under the leadership of minister of Agriculture are engaging with local authorities in Karnataka and business leaders.

“India has the ambition to become the food factory of the world, to double farmers income and to increase the export of agriculture & food products by 2022. The Netherlands is the ideal partner to realize these goals, and simultaneously work together to realize the UN Sustainable Development Goals  (SDG’s) by 2030,” says Sonnema.

The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the world (2018: US$ 100 billion) and has vast experience in managing supply chains for fresh vegetables, food and flowers to market destinations all over the world.

“We are the second largest exporter of agricultural products, but it is certainly not our ambition to feed the population in India. Our strength is that we have the ambition to help Indian farmers to produce food in a more sustainable and efficient way. In fact, Indian agriculture exports to the Netherlands are about six times higher than the other way around,” says Sonnema.

The minister says that many Dutch companies have already strong ties with their partners in the Bangalore region. “We are particularly happy that so many training institutes and knowledge centers are attracted to this mission. Together we can overcome some of the pressing problems facing the sustainability of food production, introducing best practices,” she says.

Another important theme during the trade mission will be making agriculture more resilient in the light of climate change. After two consecutive hot and dry summers in Europe, Dutch farmers are looking differently to the effects of climate change. “By adapting different farming practices and by using better seeds, we can overcome some of the challenges that climate poses, like water scarcity. We also know that India is particularly vulnerable when it comes to water,” says the minister.

The latest drive of the competitive Dutch agricultural sector is circularity. “If we make agriculture circular with less inputs, we can reduce waste, and make food production climate resilient,” the Vice Minister mentions.

The minister is part of the delegation of Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, who are on a state visit to India.

 

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OLX Group to invest up to $400 million in online car marketplace Frontier Car Group

“Source: Livemint”
BENGALURU : OLX Group, the online classifieds business of Prosus, a global consumer internet group and technology investor, will invest up to $400 million in Berlin-based online car marketplace Frontier Car Group (FCG), the company said on Monday.

Last year, OLX India entered into a joint venture with FCG to launch OLX CashMyCar, a platform to buy and sell used cars in India. The statement added that in India, OLX and FCG share technological resources, expertise and knowledge to build and operate OLX CashMyCar stores.

OLX Group’s new investment of up to $400 million, comprises a primary injection of capital in FCG, the contribution of OLX’s joint-venture shares in India and Poland, as well as the acquisition of shares held by early investors subject to a tender offer process, the statement added. OLX invested $89 million in the Berlin-based startup in May last year, through its early-stage investment arm.

Martin Scheepbouwer, CEO of OLX Group, said, in the statement, “Together with FCG, we are aiming to build the leading global used car marketplace, offering a premium and convenient service to millions of car buyers, sellers and dealers. We’re in a unique position to accelerate the expansion of this platform worldwide.”

“Our joint venture with FCG in India will enable us to grow OLX CashMyCar as the leading pre-owned car offline marketplace by offering a reliable and convenient service to the entire pre-owned car ecosystem comprising of car buyers, sellers and dealers. OLX CashMyCar stores have tripled their presence across India in the last year and car purchase volumes are growing by 10% month-on-month with over 1 million users being engaged since January 2019, ” Bhaskar Bagchi, General Manager, OLX Cash My Car, India, said, in the statement. “The low motorization rate and increasing aspiration exhibited by car buyers and sellers will enable us to expand our presence to 150 stores across 40 cities by 2021 from 75 stores across 17 cities currently,” he added.

Martin Scheepbouwer, CEO of OLX Group, said, in the statement, “Together with FCG, we are aiming to build the leading global used car marketplace, offering a premium and convenient service to millions of car buyers, sellers and dealers. We’re in a unique position to accelerate the expansion of this platform worldwide.”

“Our joint venture with FCG in India will enable us to grow OLX CashMyCar as the leading pre-owned car offline marketplace by offering a reliable and convenient service to the entire pre-owned car ecosystem comprising of car buyers, sellers and dealers. OLX CashMyCar stores have tripled their presence across India in the last year and car purchase volumes are growing by 10% month-on-month with over 1 million users being engaged since January 2019, ” Bhaskar Bagchi, General Manager, OLX Cash My Car, India, said, in the statement. “The low motorization rate and increasing aspiration exhibited by car buyers and sellers will enable us to expand our presence to 150 stores across 40 cities by 2021 from 75 stores across 17 cities currently,” he added.

Sujay Tyle, co-founder and CEO of Frontier Car Group, said, in the statement, “FCG has nearly tripled performance across every key metric since the first OLX Group investment less than 18 months ago and has expanded to four new countries in that time. Together with OLX and Prosus, we are aiming to revolutionize the pre-owned car market in India by adding trust, transparency and a comprehensive suite of services to all participants in the ecosystem.”

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Paytm plans to invest ₹500 crore in tech startups

“Source: Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : Digital payments firm Paytm on Monday said it plans to invest 500 crore in early stage startups that build complementary technologies augmenting the digital ecosystem.

The company will focus on artificial intelligence-based technology and big data solutions for new innovations that can generate large scale employment. “The company has set aside 500 crore to invest in early-stage companies that build complementary technologies augmenting the digital ecosystem,” Paytm said in a statement.

The company said it expects to employ technology across the growing internet to become the dominant player in AI.

“We are well aligned with our country’s mission to ensure the benefits of the digital revolution reach the last mile. We partner with startups who have capabilities that augment the digital ecosystem for the next wave of growth. “These investments are also an indication that Paytm believes India’s entrepreneur ecosystem is innovative and is growing well,” Paytm Deputy Chief Financial Officer Vikas Garg said.

The company typically invests 200-250 crore every year in intellectual properties or companies building complementary technologies such as Insider, Nearbuy, Loginext, Ticket New, Hungerbox, Nightstay, QRQL, and RecruiterGrid, the statement said.

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Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship launches Skills Build platform in Collaboration with IBM

“Source: IBEF”
Directorate General of Training (DGT), under the aegis of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE), today announced the launch of Skills Build platform in collaboration with IBM. As part of the programme, a two-year advanced diploma in IT, networking and cloud computing, co-created and designed by IBM, will be offered at the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) & National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs). The platform will be extended to train ITI & NSTI faculty on building skills in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Skills Build offers digital learning content from IBM and partners such as Code Door, Coorp academy and Skillsoft.

The digital platform will provide a personal assessment of the cognitive capabilities and personality via MyInner Genius to the students. They will then learn foundational knowledge about digital technologies, as well as professional skills such as resume-writing, problem solving and communication. Students will also receive recommendations on role-based education for specific jobs that include technical and professional learning.

Speaking about the collaboration, Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship said, “Our Government is using technology effectively for benefiting the public and for bringing innovation in welfare schemes. We understand the importance of AI and the role it can play in improving lives. With the making of our New India, it is imperative that we consistently upgrade ourselves. I extend my gratitude to IBM for this collaboration in empowering students with new-age capabilities and professional skills. This initiative will help the youth to scale themselves as per the changing market trends.”

Dr. K.P. Krishnan, secretary, MSDE said “Technology is constantly evolving and making our lives easier and better. It is imperative that we make the most of it and especially when it comes to skilling our youth. Technology helps in better, more efficient training as it brings with better assessment and outcomes. I look forward to see the outcome of this program and its further expansion towards positively changing the lives of our youth,”.

“Our collaboration with MSDE will help the next-gen to compete in the global economy.  Skills are the new currency and this program will address industries’ constant struggle for job-ready individuals. The platform will help students develop the technical and professional skills needed for competitive “new collar” jobs. Skills Build platform will reinforce IBM’s commitment in enabling life-long learning in India and aligning with Skills India initiative by Government of India,” says Chaitanya Sreenivas, Vice President and HR Head, IBM India Pvt. Ltd.

“We are constantly introducing programs aimed at skilling the youth in this technological age and hand holding them to match their capabilities with the needs of the industry. This collaboration is a step in the same direction and will surely suit the industry requirements. DGT is committed to digitally revolutionize the vocational training system in India and partner with industry leaders to provide the apt industrial exposure to the youth.” said Mr. Rajesh Aggarwal, Director General, DGT about the partnership.

This initiative is part of IBM’s global commitment to create a job-ready workforce and to build the next generation of skills needed for new collar careers. The platform is deployed with the support of leading NGOs like Unnati and Edunet Foundation. IBM Volunteers along with the NGOS will offer students personalised coaching and experiential learning opportunities. IBM joined hands with Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) in early 2018 to launch a first-of-its kind ‘New Collar Curriculum. Post the successful completion of the course, in September 2019, 19 students were offered a five-month paid internship at IBM.

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Despite global headwinds, India to see $52 bn worth of M&A deals in 2019

“Source: Business Standard”
India is expected to see M&A deals of over $52 billion in 2019 as mergers and acquisitions in the country are expected to remain stable despite global headwinds, according to a new report by Baker McKenzie. “Despite the global headwinds, India M&A is expected to remain stable in the next few years, with private investments reviving against the backdrop of a more favourable business environment,” it said

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Eight of top-10 Indian firms add Rs 1.34 trillion in m-cap; TCS tops the chart

“Source: IBEF”
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has emerged as the biggest gainer in the market capitalisation with eight of the 10 most valued Indian firms adding over Rs 1.34 trillion (US$ 19.17 billion) together last week.

For the week that ended on Friday, firms which saw improvement in their market capitalisation (m-cap) other than TCS includes Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), HUL, HDFC, ITC, Infosys, HDFC Bank and SBI, whereas Kotak Mahindra Bank and ICICI Bank finished with losses.

The market valuation of TCS rose from Rs 28,893.36 crore (US$ 4.13 billion) to Rs 8,26,293.87 crore (US$ 118.23 billion).

Infosys’ m-cap grew by Rs 24,704.61 crore (US$ 3.53 billion) to Rs 2,98,535.04 crore (US$ 42.71 billion), while State Bank of India (SBI) increased from Rs 28,469.51 crore (US$ 4.07 billion) to Rs 2,79,786.57 crore (US$ 40.03 billion).

RIL’s m-cap rose by Rs 16,671.95 crore (US$ 2.39 billion) to Rs 9,23,613.71 crore (US$ 132.15 billion) while that of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) spurted Rs 7,977.33 crore (US$ 1.14 billion) to reach Rs 4,71,864.08 crore (US$ 67.52 billion).

HDFC’s market valuation increased by Rs 4,428.96 crore (US$ 0.63 billion) to reach Rs 3,67,534.58 crore (US$ 523 billion), and ITC added Rs 16,525.33 crore (US$ 2.36 billion) to its valuation to stand at Rs 3,21,045.99 crore (US$ 46 billion).

The HDFC Bank valuation increased by Rs 6,739.43 crore (US$ 0.96 billion) to reach Rs 6,78,932.19 crore (US$ 97.14 billion).

On the other hand, the m-cap of Kotak Mahindra Bank decreased by Rs 1,456.04 crore (US$ 0.21 billion) to Rs 3,01,837.35 crore (US$ 43.19 billion) while that of ICICI Bank plunged Rs 4,519.55 crore (US$ 0.65 billion) to Rs 2,98,535.04 crore (US$ 42.71 billion).

In respect of the ranking of the top-10 firms, the top spot was retained by RIL, followed by TCS, HDFC Bank, HUL, HDFC, ITC, Kotak Mahindra Bank, ICICI Bank, Infosys and SBI.

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Build brand India for services sector: Piyush Goyal. Services sector to contribute US$ 3 trillion to Indian Economy

“Source: IBEF”
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry & Railways, Mr. Piyush Goyal, said that brand India will be developed in order to promote the 12 champion services sectors.

He further said that the Commerce and Industry Ministry will support different sectors in the services industry in partnership with States and formulate policies that will enable these champion sectors to grow and expand and contribute in a much more significant way to the Indian economy. The services sector will contribute US$ 3 trillion out of the US$ 5 trillion economy that India is set to grow to.

Commerce and Industry Minister was speaking at the curtain raiser event of the 5th Global Exhibition on Services (GES) in New Delhi today. GES 2019 will be held in Bengaluru from 26th – 28th November 2019. He expressed his happiness at Bengaluru hosting the GES 2019 as the city cherishes tradition along with modernity. He also welcomed Uttar Pradesh as a partner State in GES 2019.

Piyush Goyal appreciated the efforts being made by Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in promoting the services sector in an organized manner and said that the sectors like tourism, health care and education will attract investment and create jobs, promote entrepreneurship and attract foreign exchange earnings. The huge potential of the services sector is yet to be tapped and this sector has the capacity to generate large number of jobs and improve the quality of life of citizens and contribute to the Indian economy said the Minister.

Commerce and Industry Minister urged SEPC and CII to focus on tourism and also sectors like legal services, financial and accounting services apart from IT and ITeS so that a bouquet of services encompassing all aspects can be offered to domestic consumers and those travelling to India from abroad.

Piyush Goyal unveiled the trophy of Nations Cup on e-sports or electronic sports competition. E-sports are organized video game competitions especially between professionals. India is poised to take advantage of this growing business through the entire eco-system of e-sports – in areas of player/ team management, coaches, streamers and venues. The e-sports is one of the highlights of GES 2019.

Karnataka Minister for Medium and Large-Scale Industries, Jagadish Shettar, Additional Secretary in the Department of Commerce, Sudhanshu Pandey also addressed the curtain raiser event. Senior officials of Central Ministries, Departments, State Governments, representatives of foreign diplomatic missions in Delhi and services industry were present during the event.

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Indian firms in Fintech 100 list: Paytm, OlaMoney make it to top 10

“Source: IBEF”
Eight Indian fintech firms were featured in KPMG and H2 Ventures’ ‘Fintech100’ list, with Paytm and OlaMoney making it to top 10. As per the report “In 2019, we have seen the emergence of India as a fintech force”. The Fintech100 list comprise of 27 payments and transaction firms, 19 wealth companies, 17 insurance companies, 15 lending companies, 9 neo banks and 13 companies that operate across multiple sectors.

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India to see US$ 100 billion energy investment by 2024: Dharmendra Pradhan

“Source: IBEF”
India will see a huge investment of around US$ 100 billion, over the next five years, in developing the oil and gas infrastructure as the world’s third-largest energy consumer steps up spending to meet rising demand, petroleum minister Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan said.

He further added, while speaking at KPMG’s Enrich 2019 conference, that energy transition of the country will be in a responsible manner and the country will make its own course, though India is believed to be a major driver of global energy demand in the coming decades.

“India will see an investment of US$ 100 billion by 2024 in oil refining, pipelines, city gas distribution networks, and LNG terminals,” Mr. Pradhan said.

Out of the total investment, US$ 60 billion will be used into creation of gas infrastructure such as pipelines, city gas networks, and import terminals, he said.

He added that the foreign investment inflow into upstream oil and gas exploration and production as well as downstream fuel marketing and petrochemicals is required by the country.

India will obtain capital, world-class technology and implement any policy reforms required to become an international energy leader, he said. “India wants to be the new destination for global energy players.”

Several reforms such as opening of fuel retailing to non-oil companies and overhaul of exploration licensing policy are aimed at attracting investments, he said.

At present, India is the third-largest energy consumer in the world in absolute terms after the US and China. Though, per capita energy consumption in India is only about one-third of the world’s average.

“This makes it imperative to ensure energy justice to all, which essentially means access to energy in an affordable and sustainable manner,” he added.

India will be the key driver of the global energy demand in the coming decades as there is huge energy requirement and growth potential.

This energy demand cannot be met by a single source. “India will chart its own course of the energy transition in a responsible manner and would greatly influence global energy transition,” he said.

“In India, we are finding ways to achieve the twin objectives of more energy and less carbon through a healthy mix of all commercially-viable energy sources. India will chart its own course of the energy transition in a responsible manner.”

The priority of the government is meet the energy demand and growth in a sustainable manner. In order to meet the demand, the world as well as India are seeking out different methods to advance global growth and welfare.

He said the path to end energy poverty in India would be based on special national circumstances, as compared to the rest of the world. This is more so when the average Indian lives only on a third of the per capita consumption of energy that the United Nations believes is necessary for human well-being.

The government has undertaken many structural reforms in the last 5 years in order to create a business-friendly environment. These reforms include insolvency and bankruptcy code, tax reforms and intellectual property reforms. The hydrocarbon sector has seen changes through a series of business-friendly policy measures.

Government is now making all efforts to develop a gas-based economy. An estimated investment of US$ 60 billion is lined up in developing gas infrastructure, which includes pipelines, city gas distribution, and LNG terminals.

Mr. Pradhan also talked about the National Biofuel policy which aims on waste-to-wealth creation and targets to produce various types of biofuels from agriculture residue and municipal waste.

He added that the share of renewable in electricity capacity has considerably gone up now to 22 per cent from around 10 per cent in 2014-15.

Additionally, the ethanol blending percentage in petrol has risen from 0.67 per cent in 2012-13 to close to 6 per cent now.

“Finally, more than 95 per cent households now have access to LPG, making their kitchens smoke free,” he said.

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PVR Cinemas opens its first international property in Sri Lanka

“Source: IBEF”

PVR Cinemas, a leading multiplex chain, launched its first property in Sri Lanka marking its first international venture. The multiplex chain said that it has opened a 9-screen property at Colombo in partnership with the Shangri La Group.

PVR Cinemas had first announced plans to enter Sri Lanka about two years ago.

Mr. Ajay Bijli, Chairman and Managing Director, PVR Ltd. said, “Entering Sri Lanka was part of our business strategy for FY 19-20 and I am happy we have been able to make it happen. The socio-cultural similarity between the two nations makes the scope for business growth clear. The vision has been to introduce new concepts and make regional content more accessible for the audience in Sri Lanka.”

He further added, “The Indian film industry has grown exponentially in last few years and has a global fan base that we aim to cater to through innovation and expansion.”

In India, PVR is the largest film exhibition company and has a total of 809 screens at 171 properties in 70 cities which includes Sri Lanka.

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India retains third spot in global unicorn list

“Source: Economic TimesTimes”
India continues to reinforce its position as the third largest startup ecosystem across the world, as it added over 1,300 startups in 2019, taking the total number to 8,900-9,300 in the last five years, according to the report ‘Indian Tech Startup Ecosystem – Leading Tech in the 20s’ by Nasscom.

India also witnessed the addition of 7 unicorns in 2019 till August, taking the total tally up to 24, which is the third highest number of unicorns in a single country in the world. Here are the key highlights of the report

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Investcorp aims to expand India business to $1.5 bn in five years

“Source: Livemint”
Mumbai: Bahrain-based alternative investment manager Investcorp aims to grow its business in India to $1.5 billion in assets under management over the next five years, said its executive chairman Mohammed Alardhi.

In January, Investcorp forayed into the Indian market through the acquisition of the private equity and real estate investment businesses of IDFC Alternatives. This formed part of the firm’s global expansion plans under which it plans to nearly double its global AUM to $50 billion by entering new geographies and new lines of business. Investcorp currently has $28 billion worth of assets under management.

“Our vision for the firm is that we want to be a respected global investment firm in the alternatives space. Any gaps we have in the alternative space, we want to fill them. So, we didn’t have an infrastructure business, we started an infrastructure business. We were not in India; we are now in India. We weren’t in China; we are now in China. In the US, we started there four decades ago and now we want to go deeper into that economy,” said Alardhi.

He said the company is interested in India “because it is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, it’s the biggest young population there is in the world, hard-working people and entrepreneurial”.

We want to be a part of this growth. Like in any other economy, there are bottlenecks, there are weaknesses here and there, but we’re here for the long-term,” Alardhi said.

Mint reported in July that Investcorp had closed its maiden India-focused private equity fund at around $150 million. The fund is a top-up of IDFC Alternatives’ fourth PE fund, which managed to raise around $70 million before it was acquired by Investcorp. It is also managing the third PE fund raised by IDFC Alternatives. Since January, the PE fund has invested in four companies—spices maker Integrow, online fashion retailer Bewakoof.com, home rental startup Zolo Stays and New Delhi-based value apparel retail chain, Citykart Retail. Its other investments include InCred Financial Services and eye care hospital chain ASG Eye Hospitals. Through its investments in India, Investcorp aims to tap the country’s consumption growth story and its enablers.

“One of the themes in our investment thesis is the mass-consumption story, but for us it is a little broader than just the consumption of goods. It is also making them available in an affordable format and creating access to good quality goods and services. This includes healthcare, financial services, mass-market consumption, consumer-tech,” said Rishi Kapoor, co-chief executive of Investcorp.

The firm is also eyeing opportunities created by the liquidity crunch in the non-bank lending sector in the country following defaults at Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) group last year.

“If you look at what’s happening in India right now, there is a lack of credit availability. So, we have been providing credit within our real estate business. Now it’s a challenging space on one hand, but precisely because it is a challenging space, there is an opportunity around it. There is an opportunity to generate a good risk-adjusted return for a credible provider of capital within the affordable mid-market housing space,” said Kapoor.

In overseas markets, Investcorp’s strategy is largely focused on acquiring controlling stakes in firms. In India, however, it is currently scouting for minority growth capital investments.

“Our DNA is control deals but we recognize that in markets like India, China and the Middle East, which are all emerging markets, growth capital alongside the promoters and founders has a pivotal role to play,” Kapoor said. “As the market matures, it is inevitable that buyouts will become a greater proportion of the overall PE. Right now, if it is around 20%, it may become higher in India and we will also evolve with the market,” he said.

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Coca-Cola brings Rani Float brand to India

“Source: Livemint”
NEW DELHI : Local arm of beverage maker Coca-Cola on Monday said it has rolled out fruit juice brand Rani Float in India in line with the beverage company’s plans to expand its portfolio beyond its core brands here.

The launch is “the latest example of Coca-Cola’s strategy to offer more choices to consumers and catering to their diverse tastes and preferences across beverage categories,” said T. Krishnakumar, president, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia.

The 180 ml can, priced at 35, will be available in two flavours with fruits locally sourced from India. The move is in line with Coca-Cola’s plans to launch more non-carbonated beverages especially as discerning Indian consumers seek more choices.

Rani Float was launched in 1982, by Saudi Arabia based-Aujan Industries. However, the company formed a joint venture with Coca-Cola in 2011 to create Rani Refreshments which is now the owner of the Rani brand of drinks. The brand has a strong presence in the middle-eastern markets where it also sells other variants such as a sparkling drink, as well as a Rani Cubs drink for kids.

“After many months of preparation, Coca-Cola India, together with its manufacturing and distribution partners, have launched Rani Float and we are now ready to make India a major global market for the Rani brand,” said Abdulla Aujan, chairman of Rani Refreshments.

The brand is already available in top metros. Coca-Cola will launch Rani Float across Reliance Retail stores in Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Guntur, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi NCR, Chennai etc.

Coca-Cola sells brands such as Diet Coke, Thums Up, Limca, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Maaza, VIO flavoured milk, Minute Maid, Schweppes, Smart Water among others in India.

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India to invest Rs 1 trillion in setting up 100 new airports by 2024

“Source:- IBEF”
As per the people with knowledge of the matter, to revive economic growth in Asia’s 3rd largest economy, India is planning to start 100 additional airports by 2024. Along with this the proposal includes the 1,000 new routes which is going to be connected with smaller towns and villages, the sources said last week. The plan was discussed in a meeting to review infrastructure needed by 2025, as stated by sources, as the discussion is private, asking not to be identified. Steps to start a plane-lease financing business in the country was also discussed, they said.

With economic activity at a six-year low and probability of further slowdown looming, to revive the growth and achieve a target of making India a US$ 5 trillion economy by 2025, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to double down on infrastructure projects. To compete with the likes of Vietnam and Indonesia for investments amid global trade tensions, Government of India cut the corporate tax rates last month, putting India on par with some of the lowest in Asia.

India’s plan to expedite development of airport still trails that of China’s, which has a goal of having 450 commercial airports by 2035, which is almost double the number at the end of 2018.

According to the people, proposal by India’s think tank also includes enhancing the number of locally trained pilots to 600 a year and double the domestic aircraft fleet to 1,200 during the period. To build airports in next 5 years, Government of India has committed the investments of Rs 1 trillion.

Three years back from now, only 75 of India’s 450 runway were functional, as airlines avoided flying to smaller, World War-era airstrips in smaller towns. But with the support of Modi’s subsidy program, which partly funds the airlines who losses while capping fares on remote routes and at the starting of 2019, has also helped by adding 38 airports to nation’s aviation map, although, the contracts were given to airlines to start flights to a further 63 airports with no or limited connectivity.

While the lure of India, with an emerging middle class flying for the first time, has attracted companies such as Singapore Airlines Ltd. and AirAsia Bhd. to set up local units, provincial taxes in the nation make jet fuel one of the most expensive in the world. The government is aware of the high taxation burden and higher jet fuel prices and will rationalize the tax regime as soon as next year, the people said.

They also said, India will also encourage the use of drones, for which the policy has been announced by government this year allowing unmanned vehicles to fly beyond the line of sight, and sees the number of legal drones reaching a million by 2024. By 2021, country will prepare the drone corridors and by 2023, will allow delivery of goods by drones.

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Gartner sees Indian IT firms growing faster in 2020 on rising client spend

“Source:- IBEF”
India IT services companies are likely to grow at the faster rate in 2020 backed by expected growth in IT spending by clients globally during the said period.

According to global research firm Gartner’s report, total spend in the IT services space is likely to grow by 5.5 per cent in 2020 and will touch US$ 1.08 trillion as compared to 3.7 per cent rise estimated for 2019.

The report also stated that this year’s slowdown in spending is not going to be extended in 2020, despite concerns over recession and companies cutting on discretionary IT spending. Demand will mostly be driven by the companies catching up on cloud spending, the report added.

Report indicates that market size of the global cloud computing was US$ 36.7 billion in 2018, which is likely to grow at a CAGR of 29.2 per cent to reach US$ 285 billion by the end of 2025.

“The first phase of cloud adoption is now over. Companies were initially testing to see how the benefits were playing out, but now they are getting on to mainstream.
The sizes of the deals are becoming larger. That is going to be one of the strongest drivers for improved growth of IT services from next year onwards,” said Mr. Harit Shah, IT analyst at Reliance Securities.

Digital transformation will be increasing because small and medium players are going to increase their digital spend and in order to compete with new age-firms, traditional manufacturers will adopt technology.

“Overall the digital trend will continue to accelerate and every company will grow digitally as it directly impacts company’s products, services, business model and revenue, which will translate to larger IT spending,” said Mr Pareekh Jain, founder of Pareekh Consulting and an IT outsourcing advisor.

The US is leading in terms of cloud adoption, whereas, UK and China are also catching up by giving a boost to total cloud spending universe, the Gartner’s report said. “The US is leading in cloud adoption and accounts for over half of global spending on cloud. The country directly behind the US on cloud spending is the UK, which only spends 8 per cent on public cloud services. An interesting outlier is China that has the highest growth of cloud spending of all countries,” the report said.

On overall IT spending, which includes data centre systems, enterprise software, devices, communication services apart from IT services segment, is also likely to grow at a healthy pace in 2020. Total IT spend is projected to touch $3.87 trillion next year, growth of 3.7 per cent as compared to a rise of 0.4 per cent in 2019.

Apart from IT services, enterprise software will be another growth area, which is anticipated to reach to grow at 10.9 per cent reaching US$ 507 billion in 2020. Even communication services, devices and data centre systems will clock growth in 2020 after witnessing a shrinkage in 2019.

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India’s Strategic and Economic Interests will be Protected in Multilateral Engagements: Piyush Goyal

“Source:- IBEF”
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry & Railways, Piyush Goyal, released the High-Level Advisory Group (HLAG) report today in New Delhi.

In his address at the event Commerce and Industry Minister said that the report shows the way forward for India to become an attractive investment destination by grasping all the opportunities available so that India is able to achieve the target of exports contributing one trillion USD to the GDP. Commerce and Industry Minister thanked the Advisory group for the bold report that has recommendations for industry both manufacturing and services and sectors like textiles, finances and tourism so that India can take its manufacturing potential to 25 percent of the GDP.

During an interaction with the audience after the release of the report Commerce and Industry Minister assured that India will always protect its strategic and economic interests while engaging in multilateral talks. He urged citizens to talk, argue and understand issues and not indulge in creating fear psychosis as the Government of India will never sign on any trade agreement without consultations. He further said that for the regional Economic Partnership Agreement talks that are underway the most extensive stakeholder consultations have been done by the Minister and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

India is also looking at new opportunities and new markets of exports with other geographies like the United States, European Union and United Kingdom informed the Commerce and Industry Minister. He further said that in a globalized world India cannot remain isolated as it will not be in the interests of the industry and the consumers.

The HLAG report has been prepared by the Advisory Group led by Dr. Surjit S. Bhalla to assess the global environment and make recommendations for boosting India’s share and importance in global merchandise and services trade, managing pressing bilateral trade relations, and mainstreaming new age policy making.

The other members of the Group were S.Jaishankar, former Foreign Secretary, Rajeev Kher, former Commerce Secretary and Member, Competition Appellate Tribunal, Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Advisor, Government of India, Adil Zainul bhai, Chairman, Quality Council of India, Dr. Harsha Vardhana Singh, former DDG, WTO, Dr. Shekhar Shah, DG, NCAER, Dr. Vijay Chauthaiwale, Foreign Policy Advisor, Dr.Pulok Ghosh, IIM Bangalore, Jayant Dasgupta, former Ambassador of India to the WTO, Rajiv K Luthra of Luthra & Luthra and Chandrajit Banerjee, DG, CII.

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Vu Televisions emerge as market leaders in large size and 4K category in India

“Source: Livemint”
India has seen a boom in the affordable smart TV segment sales in the last few years. California-Indian television player Vu Televisions was among the first to launch a smart TV at an affordable price in India and also among the first to offer online sale of a consumer electronic product back in 2013 with strategic e-commerce partnerships.

The brand has emerged as a market leader with its 4K range of smart TVs reporting sales of over 1, 50, 000 sets in the second half of 2019.

Since its inception in 2006, Vu Televisions has experienced a 30% Y-o-Y growth. In the large-sized television category, it has remained the single largest player with its Vu 100, which is the world’s first and only 100-inch television.

Vu Televisions is focused on delivering high-quality viewing experiences and is upgrading television choices for consumers. Today, a 4K Vu TV is priced at INR 20,000 to ensure that every household is able to adopt a high-end lifestyle product.

The brand offers smart TVs across six categories in 10 sizes. Recently, Vu launched the Ultra Android TV, with the salient feature of Pure Prism Grade High Brightness Panel.

“The Indian market demands a perfect mix of innovation and technology at the right price point. Today, a television is not just a device for viewing entertainment content, but a go-to screen for work, fitness, and socialising. We understand the evolving needs of our consumers and have stayed relevant all along with our unique product offerings,” said Devita Saraf, Chairman and Founder, Vu Televisions.

She was speaking at an event recently hosted at St. Regis in Mumbai, where the Vu Televisions festive showcase collection was launched. The highlight of the range was the Vu Super TV, a newer and upgraded and newer version of the Vu 100.

“This celebration of our leadership across the large-sized TV and the most sought-after 4K TV category is testimony to our strong reach across a diverse audience, and we’ll continue to innovate on this path of consumer-centricity as we move forward,” she added.

Being the face of her own brand, Devita posed for pictures with her exquisite product range at the festive showcase collection launch. “Luxury and technology have so much in common. They’re both about experiences and evolution, and this event is a reflection of that. We hope to continue to deliver high-quality, luxurious viewing experiences to our consumers across the country,” said Devita.

 

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TVS Motor ties up with Cadisa to expand in Central America

“Source: The Hindu Busniess Line”
TVS Motor Company has entered into a partnership with Cadisa, a business group operating across Guatemala and El Salvador, in a move to strengthen its business and increase two-wheeler sales in Central America.

Cadisa will facilitate the opening of 15 flagship outlets for TVS Motor in a phased manner. TVS Motor will also be present in 17 multi-brand outlets and over 150 retail stores across Guatemala. The company will operate over 25 service outlets, too. The range of two- and three-wheeler offerings will be supplemented with attractive retail finance schemes, according to a statement.

“Cadisa has rich experience and understanding of the needs of customers in this region. With this partnership, we will be able to offer customised products with complete service and spare parts for our customers throughout Central America and consolidate our presence in the region,” said R Dilip, Executive Vice-President, International Business, TVS Motor.

“All our outlets will be manned by skilled manpower in line with TVS Motor Company’s global standards. The technology and quality prowess of TVS Motor Company, combined with our network facility, will definitely create an impact in Guatemala and El Salvador,” said Jorge Siekavizza, Senior Director. Cadisa.

New products

TVS Motor presently retails Apache bikes, Wego scooters and King Deluxe three-wheelers. It will partner with Cadisa to showcase three new products at the Expo Moto, to be held in Guatemala City, on November 1-3. Guatemala is said to be the second largest motorcycle market in Central America after Mexico.

All three home-grown players — TVS Motor, Hero and Bajaj — operate there.

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India’s marine exports to China heading for US$ 1 billion mark

“Source:- IBEF”
India’s exports of marine products to China has tripled and touched almost US$ 800 million, in the first nine months of 2019, as per the data released by China’s customs authority recently. India’s marine exports are expected to cross US$ 1 billion mark by the end of this year.  A Chinese trade delegation visited India on 9th October 2019 and signed a contract for import of marine products worth US$ 500 million in the next two years.

The Embassy of India, consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou, under the guidance of Ministry of Commerce and Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) has been promoting Indian marine products in China and is engaged with various stakeholders. In order to pitch for India’s strength in this sector, the Embassy of India organized a promotional event and buyer seller meet on marine products in collaboration with MPEDA on the side lines of China Fisheries and Seafood expo in the coastal city of Qingdao, which is also a major port of imports.

Chairman of MPEDA, K.S. Srinivas, led a delegation of more than 40 Indian exporters and exporters associations for the expo which witnessed huge response from Chinese importers with more than 50 participants from 25 major importing companies participating in the event. The CCPIT of Qingdao and CFNA partnered with the Indian Embassy for organizing this event.

Chairman MPEDA briefed about India’s strength in this sector with India emerging as the 4th largest exporters of sea food in the world. India is second largest aquaculture producer, 3rd largest fish producer in the world with exports of marine products worth US$ 7 billion. China is a major importer of marine products with imports of around US$ 12 billion. He also briefed about the efforts being made by India for ensuring quality of its marine products.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Prashant Lokhande, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of India Embassy, emphasized on the huge potential and set an ambitious target of achieving US$ 2 billion exports in near future. He assured all support to Indian exporters and China’s importers and thanked China’s Commerce Ministry and GACC for their support.

Embassy of India has been promoting various products such as Indian grapes, sugar, rice, pharmaceuticals, tea, oil meals, IT and ITeS in which India has proven global strength but little market share in China.

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India signs MoU with Saudi Arabia to launch RuPay card in Gulf Kingdom

“Source: Livemint”
RIYADH : India on Tuesday signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to launch the RuPay card in the country, making it the third nation in the West Asia to initiate India’s digital payment system which will benefit not only the 2.6 million Indians in the Gulf Kingdom but also Haj and Umrah pilgrims.

The RuPay card is a first-of-its-kind Indian domestic Debit and Credit Card payment network, with acceptance at ATMs, POS devices and e-commerce websites. It was launched in 2012 to fulfil the Reserve Bank of India’s vision to have a domestic, open and multilateral system of payments.

India has already launched the RuPay card in the UAE, Bahrain, Singapore and Bhutan.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, an MoU was signed to launch the RuPay cards in Saudi Arabia, said a joint statement issued at the end of his visit.

There are over 2.6 million Indians working in Saudi Arabia, the largest expatriate community in the country. Nearly two lakh Haj pilgrims and over three hundred thousand Umrah pilgrims from India visit Saudi Arabia every year and acceptance of Rupay card will allow them to transact at cheaper rates.

RuPay is a highly secure network that protects against cyberhacks and is India’s version of Master Card and Visa.

Today, there are close to 500 million RuPay cards in circulation in India.

RuPay has also tied-up with international players like Discover, Japan Credit Bureau and China Union Pay to enhance its international acceptance and recently achieved a milestone of issuing 25 million RuPay cards.

India’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been on an upswing over the last few years based on burgeoning energy ties besides cooperation in several other areas. Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to Riyadh in 2016 put bilateral ties on a new trajectory.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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NPCI sees UPI’s user base growing fivefold to 500 mn over three years

“Source: Livemint”
National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) expects the user base of real-time payment system Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to expand fivefold to 500 million in the next three years, chief executive officer Dilip Asbe said.

“UPI has recently crossed 100 million users, making it one of the fastest adoptions of any payments system anywhere in the world. NPCI’s objective for the next three years is to expand the UPI user base to 500 million,” Asbe said in an interview. The UPI was developed by NPCI, which is backed by the Reserve Bank of India.

While NPCI will release official data for payments transactions—by value and volume—on November 1, it is learnt from where that UPI transactions hit a new record of nearly 1 billion in October. As much as 955.02 million transactions worth 1.61 trillion were clocked during September, against 93,000 transactions worth 3.1 crore when it was launched three years ago in August 2016.

“It is encouraging to witness digital payments being widely accepted across the country. UPI’s integration with third-party apps and bank support has provided impetus to P2P (peer-to-peer) as well as P2M (person-to- merchant) electronic payments which resulted in this momentous achievement,” Asbe said, adding that in the next two years, the merchant ecosystem will get digitized.

The popularity of UPI can be attributed to its simple, safe and hassle-free system. UPI allows users to transfer money any time across multiple bank accounts, without putting out details of the beneficiary’s bank account.

Amid the government’s aggressive push towards boosting digital payments in the country, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) expects real-time payment system Unified Payments Interface’s (UPI’s) user base to expand five times in the next three years to 500 million, NPCI chief executive officer Dilip Asbe said.

“UPI has recently crossed 100 million users, making it one of the fastest adoption of any payments system anywhere in the world. NPCI’s objective for the next three years is to expand the UPI user base to 500 million,” Asbe told Mint.

The payments system, that has given other digital payment modes such as wallets, debit cards, credit cards, run for their money, was developed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) backed NPCI.

While NPCI will release official data for payments transactions—value and volume–on November 1, it is learnt that UPI transactions have hit a new record of 1 billion in October. As much as 955.02 million transactions worth Rs1.61 trillion were clocked during September, as compared with 93,000 transactions worth Rs3.1 crore when it was launched three years ago in August 2016.

“It is encouraging to witness digital payments being widely accepted across the country. UPI’s integration with third-party apps and banks support has provided impetus to P2P (peer-to-peer) as well as P2M (person-to-merchant) electronic payments which resulted in this momentous achievement,” Asbe said, adding that in the next two years, the merchant ecosystem will get digitized with the number of QR codes set to treble to 30 million.

The rising popularity of UPI can be attributed to its simple, safe, and hassle free system. UPI is a real-time payments system that allows users to transfer money across 24×7 across multiple bank accounts, without putting out details of the beneficiary’s bank account.

Based on the recommendations of the Nandan Nilekani-headed panel report on ‘deepening of digital payments’, NPCI plans to take UPI network global.

“We expect collaboration between fintechs and banks to drive the acceptance abroad. Our focus will always remain on enhancing acceptance infrastructure for digital payments so as to encourage customers towards digital transactions to achieve RBI and government’s less cash objective and facilitate faster adoption of UPI,” he said.

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Adani Group ties up with US-based Digital Realty for foray into data centre domain

“Source:- IBEF”
The Adani Group has entered into a partnership with Digital Realty, which is a San Francisco-based player in data centre, co-location and interconnection solutions. This partnership will give a boost to Adani Group’s foray into the data centre domain.

As per the conditions set in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) which was signed between flagship company Adani Enterprises Ltd and Digital Realty, the two companies will evaluate the development and operation of data centres and data centre parks jointly, and will also cultivate the undersea cable provider communities of interest across India.

This partnership will have effect on the Digital Realty’s experience and solutions for their global data centre customer base, along with Adani’s expertise in full-stack energy management, renewable power, and real estate development and management.

Adani Group Chairman, Mr. Gautam Adani, said, “Data centre infrastructure is critical to enable a Digital India and this partnership leverages several of the capabilities developed by the Adani Group in power generation, transmission, retail electricity distribution, access to waterfronts through the ports business, and real estate management. Also, as one of the top five renewable energy companies in the world, our ability to power our data centres with solar and wind energy is unique and addresses some of the challenges of building and operating data centres. The skill-sets of the two companies are complementary, and together we can provide unmatched products and solutions to customers in India.”

The collaboration between the companies is expected to reshape India’s current data centre capacity, which is currently under-served.

Digital Realty Chief Executive Officer, Mr. A. William Stein, said, “We are excited by the opportunity to enter the Indian market with the Adani Group.”

He added, “Their knowledge of the local market and complementary capabilities are a great fit for us and will significantly accelerate our ability to serve customers in this rapidly growing region… We are strongly committed to working with Adani to build a world-class data centre network in India to support the growth of our global and Indian customers.”

According to a statement, the strong engineering and project management skills of both the companies will lead to execution of the partnership effectively in a complex environment and deliver facilities on time, with the needed high uptime levels.

Digital Realty supports the data centre, co-location and interconnection strategies of more than 2,000 firms situated throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. It has clientele in sectors such as cloud and information technology services, communications and social networking, to financial services, manufacturing, energy, healthcare, and consumer products.

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Mahindra To Acquire 100 percent Stake In Peugeot Motocycles To Explore New Markets

“Source:- Business World”
Mahindra Two Wheelers Europe, a subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra, will acquire 100 per cent ownership of Peugeot Motocycles (PMTC) to drive future growth in core European markets and expand into new geographies, including select Asian markets.

This growth plan is backed by a robust investment plan which includes introduction of seven new products between 2019 and 2021. The brand’s presence in Europe will be fortified, with France remaining a major market and PMTC’s headquarters continuing to be based at Mandeure. Mahindra Two Wheelers had acquired a 51 per cent equity stake in PMTC from Groupe PSA in 2015. It had infused 15 million euros (about Rs 110 crore) into Peugeot to finance projects implemented through the partnership.

“We are seeing positive momentum at Peugeot Motocycles,” said Rajesh Jejurikar, President of FES & Two Wheelers and Member of the Group Executive Board at Mahindra & Mahindra.

“Kisbee becoming the largest selling 50cc vehicle in Europe, Peugeot Metropolis getting stronger in Europe and China, the positive market response to the new launch of the Urban GT connected Pulsion, are all cases in point. We fully support PMTC’s Performance 2020 and look forward to the future with enhanced optimism,” he said in a statement.

The Peugeot brand will continue to be used in the future under the trade license agreement between PMTC and Peugeot. In addition, the Peugeot design teams will continue to assist in the design and development of PMTC products in close cooperation with the PMTC management and the Mahindra Group.

The transaction will be completed after due process. The Mahindra Group has a diverse portfolio of businesses including the Two-Wheeler Division and markets products under several brands including the Peugeot brand.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Kuwait in the field of accounting, finance and audit knowledge base

“Source: IBEF”
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for capacity building and strengthening the accounting, financial and audit knowledge base in Kuwait.

Benefits:

The MoU entails that two entities of India and Kuwait which are:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and Kuwait Accountants and Auditors Association (KAAA) will work together to hold and conduct technical events, seminars and conferences in Kuwait for the benefit of both organizations’ members and development of their professional expertise. Costs will be shared as agreed in writing by both parties for each event.
  • ICAI and KAAA shall work together for establishing possible cooperation in respect of Corporate Governance, technical research and advice, quality assurance, forensic accounting, issues concerning Small and Medium-sized Practices (SMPs), Islamic Finance, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and other subjects of mutual interest. Both ICAI and KAAA will implement and support provisions of the MoU for cooperation, advancement of accounting knowledge, collaboration to hold professional development and technical events, seminars and conferences. KAAA will provide venue for such events and will encourage its students and faculty members to attend these events.
  • Under the proposed provisions of the MoU, ICAI and KAAA will aspire to discuss potential future developments in the area of mutual collaboration. In the first instance these discussions will be based on gaining an insight into the structure and cooperation, external regulatory and self-regulatory framework and measures governing both the profession and the members of both the organizations. This will be in the interests of improving governance and effectiveness of their respective organizations.
  • KAAA and ICAI will collaborate to offer short-term professional courses in the domain of accounting, finance and audit in Kuwait for Kuwaiti nationals and members of the ICAI.
  • ICAI and KAAA will take appropriate steps and measures to work together for establishing possible cooperation in the identified areas of mutual interest. ICAI will offer technical programs to employees of Kuwait Government/Ministries/KAAA members and Kuwaiti Nationals in collaboration with KAAA.
  • In Kuwait, the Indian Chartered Accountants fraternity is helping the local business community and stakeholders on Financial Reporting matters and is held in high esteem. The proposed MoU is expected to consolidate the trust and help to build a positive image for the Indian Chartered Accountants in Kuwait.
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India’s online grocery retail market to touch $10.5 billion by 2023: Redseer

“Source: Livemint”
BENGALURU : Online food and grocery retail, which currently accounts for just 0.2% of the overall market, is expected to touch $10.5 billion or 1.2% of the overall market by 2023, driven by an increased assortment of products and efforts like express delivery operations, according to a report released by consulting firm Redseer on Friday.

As of now, online platforms including Bigbasket and Grofers have been the most prominent players in the industry. Bigbasket currently has over 100,000 orders a day, while Grofers manages more than 40,000 orders day.

Apart from this, food delivery platform Swiggy also recently ventured into grocery, medicine, and other product deliveries through its Swiggy Stores feature. Other competitors in the space include names like Dunzo, Swiggy-owned SuprDaily, Milkbasket, among others.

The Redseer report also mentioned that the average retail shopper has a household income of more than 12 lakh per annum and falls under the age category of anywhere between 30 to 40.

The report also estimates that a retail shopper buys online at least once a month with an average online transaction value of 900-1200.

Around 35-40% of the shopper’s retails spends from online channels, another 30% to 40% of the retail spends are across local kirana stores, while the rest 20% to 30% of the spends is registered across modern retail formats such as organized brand stores, chain stores, and hypermarkets.

Currently India’s modern retail penetration is at 10% or $82 billion of India’s overall retail sector which is currently estimated at $805 billion as of 2018, according to RedSeer. This organized share is expected to grow at 20% over the next few years to achieve a penetration of 11.8% or $118 billion by 2020 and 14.7% or $204 billon by 2023.

However, online retail still held a minor 3% market share in 2018 and is expected to touch 4.6% share by 2020, and 7% by 2023, according to Redseer data. Increased customer comfort and trust in e-tailing, especially across segments such as electronics and fashion coupled with a strong push by e-grocery players are expected to drive the growth in online retail.

Although though India’s modern retail segment has considerable ground to cover, it is still growing at a slower pace compared to other geographies, Redseer added ​in its report.

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Kotak Mahindra Bank launches first overseas branch at Dubai

“Source: Livemint”
Mumbai: Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd has launched its first overseas branch at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the lender said on Wednesday. This is in addition to the banking unit at the International Financial Centre at GIFT City in Gujarat.

With this branch licence, Kotak can now accept offshore deposits from professional clients based outside the UAE; provide, arrange and advise on offshore credit and offer investment advisory services.

The private sector already has a representative office in Dubai through which it promotes products for non-resident Indians (NRI) both on the liabilities and asset front.

As on September 30, 2019, the bank had a network of 1,512 full-fledged branches and 2,429 ATMs.

On Tuesday, Kotak Mahindra Bank reported net profit of 1,724 crore during the second quarter of the current financial year, up 51% year-on-year.

Net interest income for Q2FY20 increased to 3,350 crore from 2,676 crore in Q2 FY19. Net interest margin, a key indicator of a bank’s profitability, rose to 4.61% from 4.19% last year. The bank’s loan book growth during the quarter slowed to 15% versus a growth of 18% in the last quarter and 21% in the same period a year ago.

However, asset quality weakened in the September quarter with gross non-performing assets (as a percentage of gross advances) rising 13 basis points sequentially to 2.32% and net NPA climbing 12 basis points quarter-on-quarter to 0.85% in Q2.

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India’s contribution to global economic growth may exceed US’ by 2024

“Source: The Hindu Business Line”
The global economy, weighed down by tensions that have stalled international trade and elevated uncertainty, is expected to see slower growth in the next half decade across a wide swath of economies.

China’s growth rate is expected to continue to slow, and will be a smaller driver to global GDP growth in the near term. China’s share of global GDP growth is expected to fall from 32.7 per cent in 2018-2019 to 28.3 per cent by 2024 – a relatively steep 4.4 percentage point reduction.

Weaker global growth, expected to fall to 3 per cent this year and the slowest since the global financial crisis, will affect 90 per cent of the world, according to estimates released this week by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The US, while still expected to contribute a sizeable portion to world growth, is projected to fall to third place, after India. America’s share of global growth is expected to slip from 13.8 per cent to 9.2 per cent by 2024, while India’s share is projected to rise to 15.5 per cent and eclipse the US over this five-year period.

Indonesia will remain in the fourth spot as its economy is expected to have a 3.7 per cent growth share in 2024, a slight downward adjustment from 3.9 per cent in 2019.

The UK will see its importance wane amid Brexit as its economy drops from ninth as a share of world growth in 2019, to 13th. Although world GDP growth attributable to Russia is at 2 per cent now and expected to stay there in five years, the country is likely to displace Japan as the number five growth contributor. Japan will fall to the ninth spot by 2024. Brazil is projected to move up from No. 11 to No. 6. Germany’s share of growth is expected to remain at 1.6 per cent and 7th on the list.

The IMF said new growth engines among the top 20 countries in five years will include Turkey, Mexico, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, while Spain, Poland, Canada and Vietnam drop out of the first 20.

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Blackstone crosses US$ 12 billion investment milestone in India

“Source:- IBEF”
Blackstone Group LP, a New York-based firm, has invested US$ 3.6 billion as of end-September in India, which is a record for a single year in the country, according to a person who is directly familiar with the development.

Total investments by the group across the private equity (PE) and real estate deals have crossed US$ 12.6 billion. The company plans to surpass the US$ 13 billion mark by December 2019, that will also mark its 13th year of operations in the country.

As of end-September, Blackstone made real estate investments of US$ 6.6 billion, surpassing private equity funding of US$ 6 billion.

“This has been a blockbuster year for Blackstone in India in terms of investments, the highest since it set up operations here in 2006,” said the person cited above, who declined to be named. “There are multiple deals in the pipeline, both in PE and real estate, and it will easily cross $13 billion by the end of this year,” the person said.

Blackstone in the sector of real estate has mostly focused on commercial real estate deals. This consist of nearly US$ 5.2 billion of the total investments.

The company has invested US$ 1.6 billion in the real estate in this year alone. The largest transaction includes the acquisition of the remaining stake in Indiabulls Real Estate Ltd’s (IBREL) commercial real estate portfolio and taking full control for over Rs 4,000 crore (US$ 572.33 million).

Blackstone has played a major role in launching India’s first real estate investment trust (REIT) along with its developer partner Embassy Group earlier this year.

The Blackstone is planning its second REIT with partner K Raheja Corp. in Mumbai after the co-owned Embassy Office Parks REIT with Embassy Group.

The first real estate deal was signed in 2008 by the company, though, it started buying office assets in 2011. Along with taking early bets in office assets, the company also has adopted the partnership route in India, by collaborating with regional developers. Blackstone, on the private equity front, has invested around US$ 2 billion this year in sectors such as education, fashion, packaging and housing finance. It has also bought a majority stake in Aadhar Housing Finance Ltd and acquired a stake in companies such as Aakash Educational Services, Essel Propack Ltd, and Future Lifestyle Fashion.

“Blackstone, like some of its peers such as Warburg Pincus, enjoyed an early mover advantage as an investor in India. However, Blackstone displayed a lot of maturity and patience in the way it deployed capital, despite the fluctuations in real estate and other sectors,” said Mr. Shashank Jain, partner of transaction services at PWC India.

As of 30 June 2019, Blackstone, which set up shop in 1985, has US$ 545 billion assets under management across the globe.

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India to produce record cotton crop for 2019-20, predicts USDA

“Source: The Hindu Business Line”
India is set to retain its numero uno position in cotton cultivation globally.

The latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimate for the marketing year 2019-20 has projected India’s cotton crop at 305 lakh US bales (each of 217.7 kg), which works out to 390 lakh India bales (each of 170 kg).

Last season in 2018-19, India’s cotton crop was reported decade-low at 312 lakh bales by the apex cotton trade body, Cotton Association of India (CAI).

Increased production

“Production in India — the leading cotton producer — is forecast at 30.5 million bales, 15 per cent above 2018-19, and the second highest on record, as both area and yield in 2019-20 are expected higher. Harvested area in India is projected at a record 12.9 million hectares in 2019-20, as domestic prices and internal support price prospects favour cotton over competing crops,” USDA stated in its international outlook on cotton crop, which was released on October 15, 2019.

The report also noted that the “recent above-average monsoon rainfall will likely provide an extended picking season, which is expected to increase the yield to a 3-year high.”

The cotton trade bodies in India are yet to come out with their own crop estimate while, the first advance estimate by the Government of India has projected cotton crop in the country at 322.7 lakh bales.

This kharif season, India grew cotton on larger area at 127.67 lakh hectares, about 6 lakh hectares more than last year.

It is also indicative from the weak cotton prices in the domestic market, where traders expect crop to be record this year. The cotton prices hovered at 41,900 per candy (each of 356 kg) of ginned cotton with 29 mm variety, down from 43,900 two months ago. International cotton prices quoted at 60.83 cents per pound on ICE futures for December 2019.

As per the USDA, cotton consumption in India is expected to rise 3 per cent, to 247.5 lakh US bales (each of 217.7 kg) in 2019-20 — which is about 316.9 lakh Indian bales (each of 170 kg) — which is equal to the record set in 2015-16.

Supplying cotton to the world

The global cotton players are looking at India, with its record production and likely increased stock situations, to feed the world cotton market.

“India’s increased stock expectations to 134 lakh US bales (or 171.6 lakh India bales)associated with the higher production forecast — contribute significantly to this season’s global stock gain…For India, this season’s projected larger crop is expected to provide an additional 500,000 bales (or 6.4 lakh Indian bales) of exports, with cotton exports rebounding to 4.0 million bales in 2019-20,” the USDA report stated.

The USDA projections hint at expansion in the cotton exports during 2019-20 in Brazil, India and the United States.

The global cotton production in 2019-20 is projected at 124.8 million US bales, about 5.8 million bales (or 5 per cent) above 2018-19. The October production estimate includes decreases for Brazil, Pakistan, Australia, and the United States, which more than offset an increase for India.

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India to spend US$ 1.4 trillion on infrastructure in next five years: Nirmala Sitharaman

“Source:- IBEF”
India plans to spend US$ 1.4 trillion on its infrastructure in next 5 years, to become a US$ 5 trillion economy by 2024, according to Union Minister for Finance, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman.

During the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sitharaman said, for the next 5 years, the task force which has been constituted in finance ministry will draw up a national pipeline. She also said “As we envisage becoming a five trillion-dollar economy by 2024-25, our focus on creating world-class infrastructure has become even more resolute. If we spent US$1.1 trillion on infrastructure in the last 10 years (2008-17), we now are going to invest about US$1.4 trillion in the next five years” along with the statement that the India has took a step forward to enhance the infrastructure investment by launching innovative financial vehicles like Infrastructure Debt Funds (IDFs), Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs), Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) also reposing the framework for municipal bonds.

Sitharaman included the statement, “We are already applying Public Private Partnership (PPP) models in the country. We have adopted the Asset Recycling model to modernize existing infrastructure, like highways, while providing government with upfront capital to support new infrastructure” and for infrastructure investment, India is trying to develop the brownfield assets as a separate asset class.

Another initiative which was set up by government of India is National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) with the aim of achieving channeling investment from the both domestic and international sources into infrastructure.

Sitharaman said “To provide relief by way of income support to the farmers, the government has announced the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) this year…nearly 145 million beneficiaries in total will stand covered under this scheme”. She also stated that to promote the use of organic seeds and natural fertilizers by farmers, India is adopting the Zero Budget Natural Farming model.

She also claimed that, “This will reduce their expenditure and remove their dependence on credit. Such a step would contribute to our goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022”.

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India jumps to 63rd position in World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings

“Source:- IBEF”
India is placed at 63rd position among the 190 countries in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business 2020’ report, 14 places higher than the last time.

The country has improved its performance in six of the ten parameters used for ranking. The improved parameters include starting a business, dealing with construction permits, trading across borders, resolving insolvency, paying taxes and getting electricity.

Though, the performance in areas like getting credit, protecting minor investors and enforcing contracts was same as last year and there was downfall in registration of properties criteria.

The study was carried out in New Delhi and Mumbai, although Bengaluru and Kolkata were speculated to be included this time.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set the target for India to break into the top 50 ranking this year but India will have to wait for another year to achieve the target.

“Those economies that score well in doing business tend to benefit from higher levels of entrepreneurial activity and lower levels of corruption,” the World Bank report said.

The advancement of neighbouring economies provides a push for regulatory change along with the economic reason.

According to the report, India abolished filing fees for the SPICE company incorporation form, electronic memorandum of association and articles of association making it easier to start a business. The process was updated, leading to reduction in the time and cost of obtaining construction permits and improved building quality control by strengthening professional certificate requirements.

Trading across the borders is made easier by enabling post-clearance audits, a single electronic platform integrated for trade stakeholders, upgradation of port infrastructures and enhancement of the electronic submission of documents.

Reorganisation proceedings are promoted in order to resolve the insolvency. The report added, India also made resolving insolvency more tough by not permitting dissenting creditors to get as much under reorganisation as they would receive in liquidation.

The top ten economies that have seen the improvement, including India, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, China and Nigeria, implemented one-fifth of all the reforms recorded worldwide in 2018-19, the report said.

According to the report, ‘Doing Business’ analyses regulation in 12 areas of business activity in 190 economies that encourages efficiency and supports freedom to do business. The parameters that are not included in the ranking process are regulation on employing workers and contracting with the government.

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Honeywell aims to digitally transform commercial buildings in India

“Source:- Livemint”
Bengaluru: The advent of Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technologies is leading the commercial real estate industry to push its boundaries and move towards its long-term goal of achieving self-operating autonomous buildings.

As digital transformation becomes a top priority for the real estate sector, Honeywell with its ‘Forge for Buildings’ platform is aiming to reduce the operating expense of a building by up to 25% with its advanced technologies. The cloud-based software aims to transform the way companies in India collect, analyse and act on data by optimising their enterprise on a single screen using advanced data analytics.

The opportunity for Honeywell to tap the Indian real estate market is significant as the real estate sector in India is expected to reach a market size of $1 trillion by 2030 from $120 billion in 2017 and contribute to 13% of the country’s GDP by 2025, according to India Brand Equity Foundation.

“Honeywell Forge for Buildings converts massive quantities of data from equipment, processes and people into intuitive, actionable insights that enable monitoring of enterprise operations from a single screen. Through predictive analytics it helps identify maintenance issues in advance, enabling workers to be more productive, proficient and safe; reduce costs; and increase productivity,” the company said in a statement.

“Buildings house an incredible amount of data, but most buildings have multiple systems within them making it difficult to access, interpret and put that data to use. Honeywell Forge for Buildings is an enterprise software platform that allows owners and operators to get more insights out of their building data in order to drive significant business results,” said David Trice, vice president and general manager, Honeywell Connected Buildings.

Currently, many building portfolio owners have multiple disconnected systems in each building. These systems often do not communicate with and are not compatible with each other, leading to manual maintenance, data trapped in proprietary systems, disconnected teams and systems, over- or underutilised space, and poor occupant experience.

“Access to new types of building data is giving owners and operators the ability to make more informed decisions to make the most of their technology investments and reap cost savings that affect the corporate bottom line. Achieving operational efficiency will be the key differentiator,” Siddhartha Chatterjee, sales leader, Honeywell Connected Buildings, India said.

Honeywell in India has three manufacturing and engineering operations, and five global centres of excellence for technology development and innovation. Honeywell which announced its third quarter earnings on 17 October said its organic sales grew 3% driven by aerospace, process solutions, and building technologies.

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Coca-Cola says India now fourth-largest market for its ‘smartwater’ brand

“Source:- Livemint”
New Delhi: Indians seem to buying more packaged premium bottled water. In its third-quarter earnings released on Friday, American beverage company Coca-Cola said that India is now the fourth-largest market globally for its brand of premium bottled water called ‘smartwater’.

The company announced its earnings for the third quarter ended September 27, 2019, on Friday.

In the Asia-pacific region unit case volume grew 4%, the company said in its release, “due to broad-based growth across the majority of key markets, partially offset by a decline in Japan. Volume growth was led by Southeast Asia, China and India.”

The company however, does not share India-specific numbers.

Coca-Cola’s push to expand the reach and sell more on-the-go beverage packs of its brands also helped it draw volume growth in the market, the company’s top management told investors.

“In India, for example, immediate consumption transactions have grown double-digits year-to-date, fuelled by adding more than 650,000 new customer outlets during the year and placing more than 25,000 additional coolers in the market,” James Quincey, chairman, and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, told investors during the company’s earnings call. Immediate consumption packs are on-the-go packs which are consumed instantly and different from in-home, large pack sizes.

Price and volume mix grew 2% for the quarter, largely driven by solid performance from the company’s bottling operations in India, the company said of growth in its bottling operations.

The local arm of the beverage maker launched its ‘smartwater’ brand in 2017 in India to expand its portfolio of beverages beyond fizzy drinks to juices such as Minute Maid, bottled water Kinley, energy drink BURN, and flavoured milk, among others.

Its ‘smartwater’ is sold as a premium product globally and became the fourth water brand to be launched by Coca-Cola in India.

In the last one year the brand has leveraged celebrity endorsements to become the second-largest premium water brand in the market, the company said. “In the explorer and challenger phase, the company leveraged local celebrity endorsements and digital marketing to drive brand edge while expanding distribution in select channels as a premium offering,” the company said.

The bottle is sold at 50 for 750 ml on e-commerce websites and modern trade shops and is endorsed by actors Radhika Apte and Rana Daggubati.

The brand has set a target to reach 90,000 outlets by the end of 2019.

Globally, Coca-Cola reported a net revenue growth of 8% to $9.5 billion during the quarter. Its signature Coca-Cola brand posted a retail value growth of 6% globally (year-to-date) “through an accelerated pace of innovation and optimizing price pack architecture in the marketplace.” Interestingly, the largest contributor to this growth was its flagship US market, where business was “driven by continued double-digit volume growth in Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, in addition to strong growth in smaller packages,” the company said.

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With 21 unicorns, India has emerged as the third largest ecosystem for startups.

“Source:- IBEF”
As per the Hurun Global Unicorn List 2019, with the 21 unicorns, India has emerged as the third largest ecosystem for more successful startups right behind the China and US but ahead of Britain and Israel.

In India, payment solution platform, One97 communication (US$ 10 billion), are the leading the bunch followed by cab aggregator Ola Cabs (US$ 6 billion), online educator Byjus (US$ 6 billion) and travel-stay finder OYO Rooms (US$ 5 billion).

China pipped the USA to lead by 206 versus 203, together accounting for over 80 per cent of the worlds’ unicorns. Europe has 35 unicorns. Hurun Research found 494 unicorns in the world, based in 25 countries and 118 cities. Set up seven years ago on average, they are worth US$ 3.4 billion on average and US$ 1.7 trillion in total.

“These young companies, only seven years old on an average, are the worlds’ most exciting start-ups, leading a new generation of disruptive technology,” Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher, Rupert Hoogewerf, said. According to the list, Beijing is leading with 82 unicorns is now the world’s unicorn capital distantly ahead of San Francisco with 55 followed by Shanghai, New York and Hangzhou.

As a region, Silicon Valley leads the world with 102 or 21 per cent of the worlds’ unicorns. The list showed e-commerce and fintech make up 31 per cent of the worlds’ unicorns, followed by cloud and AI.

The worlds unicorns span 25 industries, with the Big 5 Industries making up half of the total.

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India Retains World’s Fastest-Growing Economy Rank, Tying With China: IMF

“Source: ABP News”
New York: In the gloomy global economic picture painted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India retains its rank as the world’s fastest-growing major economy, tying with China, with a projected growth rate of 6.1 per cent for the current fiscal year, despite an almost one per cent cut in the forecast. However, the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO) released on Tuesday projected India’s economy to pick up and grow by 7 per cent in the 2020 fiscal year. The WEO cut India’s growth rate by 0.9 per cent from the 7 per cent made in July and by 1.2 percent from the 7.3 per cent in April.

In contrast to the dark view of the economy within India, when viewed globally, the nation’s picture seems brighter despite the cuts. The world economy is projected to grow only 3 per cent this year and 3.4 per cent next year amid a “synchronised slowdown”, according to the WEO.

Explaining the cut in growth projection for India, the WEO said: “India’s economy decelerated further in the second quarter, held back by sector-specific weaknesses in the automobile sector and real estate as well as lingering uncertainty about the health of non-bank financial companies.”

It added that “corporate and environmental regulatory uncertainty” were other factors that weighed on demand. IMF’s projected growth rate of 6.1 per cent for 2019-20 is consistent with the Indian Monetary Policy Committee’s forecast.

About the international scenario, IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath wrote in the foreword to the WEO: “The global economy is in a synchronized slowdown, with growth for 2019 downgraded again – to 3 percent – its slowest pace since the global financial crisis (in 2007-08). This is a serious climb down from 3.8 percent in 2017, when the world was in a synchronised upswing.”

WEO projected China’s economic growth to slow down to 5.8 per cent next year. In the Euro area, growth is projected to be only 1.2 percent this year and 1.4 next year, with the German economy expected to grow by a dismal 0.5 per cent this year.

United States is expected to slightly better with a 2.1 per cent growth projected for this year and 2.4 per cent for the next. Gopinath blamed the global slowdown on rising trade barriers, uncertainty surrounding trade and geopolitics, and structural factors, such as low productivity growth and an aging population in developed countries.

WEO said India’s growth in 2019 is sharply lower than the 6.8 per cent in 2018 “for idiosyncratic reasons, but is expected to recover in 2020”. The reduction in India’s growth projection for this year “reflects a weaker-than-expected outlook for domestic demand”, WEO said.

India’s future “growth will be supported by the lagged effects of monetary policy easing, a reduction in corporate income tax rates, recent measures to address corporate and environmental regulatory uncertainty, and government programs to support rural consumption”, it added.

In the medium term, the IMF expects India’s growth to stabilise at about 7.3 per cent over the medium term, based on continued implementation of structural reforms. The IMF suggested that India should use monetary policy and broad-based structural reforms to address cyclical weakness and strengthen confidence.

It said: “A credible fiscal consolidation path is needed to bring down India’s elevated public debt over the medium term. This should be supported by subsidy-spending rationalisation and tax-base enhancing measures.”

Other measures it suggested included reducing the public sector’s role in the financial system, reforming the hiring and dismissal regulations that “would help incentivise job creation and absorb the country’s large demographic dividend”, and land reforms to expedite infrastructure development.

The auto sector is one of the areas seriously affected globally, according to the WEO. “The automobile industry contracted in 2018 for the first time since the global financial crisis, contributing to the global slowdown since last year,” it said.

Global car sales fell by three per cent last year, while the number of automobile units manufactured declined by 1.7 per cent, in value terms it fell by 2.4 per cent, WEO said. The number of auto units produced by China fell by four per cent, its first decline in more than two decades, according to the WEO.

It said the two main reasons for the decline of the auto sector were the removal of tax breaks in China and the rollout of new carbon emission tests in Europe. The auto industry, it noted, had a large global footprint and vehicles and related parts are the world’s fifth largest export product, accounting for about 8 percent of global goods exports in 2018.

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Intel aims to boost domestic production, says country head Rai

“Source:- Livemint”
Bengaluru: Over the last two decades, tech giant Intel Corp has invested nearly $5 billion in India. The firm has its second-largest design center in India, after the US. Nivruti Rai, country head, Intel India, believes Intel India is the “microcosm of Intel”, doing cutting edge work in product manufacturing and development as well as new technologies. Edited excerpts:

What is Intel India’s role in enabling local manufacturing of IT products?

The Indian manufacturing industry will play a key role in realising the government’s vision – to become a $5-trillion economy by 2024. Technology manufacturing, in particular, can play an important role in accelerating the growth of this sector and helping realise India’s potential as the manufacturing hub of the world. Intel as a company is trying to boost IT products manufacturing in India and encourage local manufacturing by building a supply chain ecosystem or, match-made them with some of our global partners to ensure that they are going up the value chain of building a new product.

For example, in the case of Coconics, a brand that is being guided and supported by Intel, is a public-private company set up in Kerala aimed at building locally manufactured PCs. Through Coconics, Intel has enabled the local ecosystem to serve the local market needs. At MAIT’s Electronics Manufacturing Summit 2019, Coconics unveiled a range of laptops designed and set to be manufactured in India. These laptops were built with Intel processors and Intel had closely collaborated with Coconics through the course of product development to enable innovation across their product and supply chain. Our work with Coconics is one of several examples where we have not only enabled the local ecosystem to serve the local market needs, but also connected the ‘Make in India’ initiative with both local and global demand.

Tell us about your focus on high-performance computing?

India has a strong foundation and technology capability to continue to expand and develop supercomputers and HPC (high-performance computing) for both major organizations and enterprises. Intel is the foundation of the vast majority of the world’s supercomputers today and we continue to invest in an unparalleled portfolio of data center products with a compelling roadmap that solves our customers’ most demanding and evolving needs. Only Intel offers the breadth of solutions that can be precisely and comprehensively tailored for their specific requirements today plus provide the agility for the future. Intel, along with the HPC community, is driving the paradigm shift to this new era of HPC/AI convergence with advanced technology, service and software support enabling the breadth of innovation throughout the HPC community.

How important is India for Intel?

Intel India is very aptly called the microcosm of Intel, which means that almost every work that Intel works towards creating a product happens out of India as well. And outside of the US, we are the largest design community for Intel. And as a result, we have been doing cutting edge work, whether it is in the technology development like AI (Artificial Intelligence), 5G, Blockchain, graphics, accelerators, or in the space of driving product development, be it laptops, desktops, servers, cloud network, automotive, we are engaged in almost every single technology and every single product.

Having said that, you know, there are certain technologies where we have a tremendous amount of leadership. One of the AI products that drive inferencing, the engine inside that product was ideated, built and developed out of the team here and now, that product is critical for inferencing for the whole company. We have a design center in both Bangalore and Hyderabad. We have invested about $5 billion in the last 20 years. So, you can think that every four years we spent $1 billion and this is about a unique approach that Intel has, where we invest in the country we are in. This means India is important and, therefore, these kinds of investment are being made in design houses, in labs, in technology development.

What are some of the new things Intel India is working on?

The shift that we are making within Intel and Intel India is to become a more and more data-centric company. We believe that for tomorrow, technologies like AI, technologies like cloud-enabling, analytics, better storage, and better transmission will be required in every single segment, whether it is for health, smart Mobility, FinTech, retail or in the space of agriculture. So, we believe this is the enablement that Intel will work on, which is smart network, smart storage, newer technologies, analytics with AI engines, enabling different use cases as well as build the smartest compute.

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‘Dutch companies see India as an attractive investment destination’

“Source:- Livemint”
Indian and Dutch companies have signed about 40 business-to-business (B2B) pacts worth €650 million in areas of water, agriculture, and health, on the sidelines of a visit by the Dutch royal couple King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima to India. Dutch companies see India as a favourable investment destination and are encouraged by steps taken by the Indian government such as the recent reduction in corporate taxes, said Ineke Dezentjé Hamming-Bluemink, the vice president of European employers’ organization, Ceemet, which represents 200,000 companies. Hamming-Bluemink is leading the 150-member Dutch business delegation visiting India. Edited excerpts from an interview.

What is your opinion of the investment climate in India?

I would say that we have had a very successful visit. We have 250 participants in the trade delegation in the field of water issues, in the field of health, and in the field of agriculture and also in the field of high tech(nology). Those really are the issues, the requirements of India of today. If you look at the sustainable development goals and (the aim of) trying to uplift the citizens of India, you will need a lot of technological solutions. Technology will make the world better. The Netherlands is well placed for that because we are number four in the world in innovation. We are number four in the global innovation index and the number one country in terms of competitiveness in Europe. Our secret is—and that is what we would like to share with India—that we work closely together in innovation, with the business community, with the knowledge institutes, and with the government. We call them the triangle because working in this kind of an ecosystem will accelerate innovation. The two days we have spent so far in India have been inspiring. Now, if we could really link our knowledge of innovation and ecosystems to the scale of India with the requirements of today and we did during the last two days and it was a wonderful match. So actually, one of the reasons to come here was also the Tech Summit and the Tech Summit has got co-creation as a theme and this is also what we have experienced—how we can co-create and help each other achieve more.

India recently reduced corporate tax rates for companies. What do you think of the move?

I think that makes India a very attractive destination for investments. I am really very positive about that.

You have been in India for several days now. Has the trade delegation had any success with clinching any business agreements on this trip?

Yes, the agreements we signed total to €650 million of contracts. So, that is quite a lot. More importantly, we are here not for a quick win but for a kind of roadmap for the future. So what we took is an initiative and we call it the “WAH” initiative. In Hindi “WAH” stands for great. But I find it not really a coincidence that it also stands for the abbreviation “Water, Agriculture and Health”, so that is the new name for an initiative that we took for the next few years to work together on this issue. If you look at the sustainable development goals, of course you talk about affordable health for everyone, water management for everyone, anti flooding actions but also clean water and sanitation and for agriculture, doubling the wages of farmers by means of more clever agriculture. We are the second largest exporter in the world in the field of agriculture and horticulture. So we can actually share our knowledge. If you look at how you do business nowadays it is like sharing knowledge, then you can achieve more.

So all the agreements that have been signed are in these three areas, water, agriculture and health?

Yes and also in high tech. There is one huge contract with a Dutch company called NXP. NXP is a chip (semiconductors) maker. It has now found a partner in India with the name HCL with government help to bring the top product because NXP is world leader in this. Together they will bring new chips with new sensors. It is an example of the great success of this mission. This is an example of the great success of this business delegation. I also spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to President Ram Nath Kovind and what we have offered is to join your missions like Make in India, Smart Cities.

India and Netherlands don’t have a Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement. Is that an impediment for inflow of investment into India from your country?

I can’t really answer this question right now. What we have discussed with Indian ministers is “ease of doing business” and we would want this relationship to flourish. Of course, there are obstacles but I am sure we can work that out. That is what is also on our agenda.The obstacles are on the regulatory side so we will work on that. Our business community is really very eager to work with Indian companies.

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Online marketplaces unlock export opportunities in ASEAN

“Source:- Austrade”
Austrade’s new E-commerce in ASEAN: A guide for Australian business report provides a snapshot of the e-commerce market in seven ASEAN countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – to help Australian exporters compare each market and identify which to target.

The ASEAN e-commerce market has quadrupled between 2015 and 2018, generating US$23 billion in gross merchandise value in 2018. Growth is predicted to accelerate to 2025, when e-commerce is expected to be worth US$102 billion.

‘The ASEAN region is one of the fastest growing in the world and it’s right on Australia’s doorstep,’ says Sally-Ann Watts, General Manager ASEAN, Austrade. ‘With online shopping so pervasive among the region’s consumers, Australian companies should consider including e-commerce platforms as a key export channel in their business strategy.’

The growth in e-commerce activity across ASEAN is driven by an aspirational middle class that is comfortable using online marketplaces and social media platforms.

Australian exporters can sell their products on international e-commerce platforms including Amazon and Lazada, or home-grown marketplaces such as Tokopedia in Indonesia.

The report also describes the logistics challenges and opportunities exporters should be aware of when considering a market.

For detailed information on individual ASEAN markets, please read Austrade’s guides to the e-commerce markets in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

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Software products are booming: TCS COO

“Source:- IBEF”
India’s largest IT service company, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. (TCS), is planning to become the country’s largest software product company by following a new way for itself, as the revenues of the company have already passed the billion-dollar-mark.

Digitate, a TCS unit which was created three years back, is a pure-play software products company, having its own HR rules, start-up culture, and different pay scales. Digitate will be soon reaching the targeted US$ 100 million revenue mark. The other software products of the company already generate over a billion dollars in revenues, as per TCS’ Chief Operating Officer, Mr. NG Subramaniam.

Mr. Subramaniam added that overall products business of the company is way above billion dollars already, and in coming future the company could, even list some of these product units on the stock exchange as independent firms.

“We have multiple products companies and our intent is to keep them within TCS. If an opportunity comes to list them separately, we will. But right now, we are building products and services to be a strong services company that also has products,” said Subramaniam.

The chunk of revenues apart from Digitate comes from TCS BaNCS, according to Subramaniam. Digitate is one of the fastest growing pure-play software products in the world.

Mr. Subramaniam added, “Our BFSI platforms is big business right now… TCS BanCs today has close to 500 clients that run their day-to-day core operations on our platform”. In the last few years, the company has focused its investment in three Ps — products, platforms and patents. These Ps help in future proofing the services business along with allowing TCS to create new capabilities that can be sold at much higher margins.

By September 30, 2019, the company has been granted 1,121 patents out of the 4,874 patents that were applied. 192 patents were applied during the first quarter of FY20. The granted patents are mostly for software products. The benchmark set for the products businesses is much higher when it comes to margins, according to Mr. Subramaniam. The investments that comes into the company are aimed at bringing in higher margins along with the ability to offer unique capabilities.

Mr. Subramaniam futher added, “Digitate is a strategic unit; TCS Financial Services that runs TCS BanCS is a separate business unit, and TCS BFSI platform is a separate business unit. We call them strategic growth businesses. We have kept them separate because fundamentally they work differently from services. Pure-play services business remains separate.”

Digitate has only one commercial product, named Ignio, which is a cognitive automation tool that competes with the likes of IBM Watson. TCS other software products include digital learning tool TCS iON, TCS Algo Retail, focused product for retailers; and TCS BaNCS, which is the largest product so far, having a core banking software product suite. TCS is also making use of other channel partners to increase the growth of the products business, starting with selling Ignio.

“So far we had been selling Digitate through our own internal sales team and integrated Ignio into our solutions.

“Now we have taken a conscious decision to appoint channel partners to accelerate sales. We have started onboarding partners in the last two quarters. In this quarter, we onboarded three more partners,” said Subramaniam.

“Opportunity for us is to make, for example, TCS Financial Services a pure products company and outsource implementation to the services team (within TCS) as a systems integrator,” said Subramaniam. In order to avoid any conflict of interest with clients, TCS is keeping the software products divisions completely away from the services unit.

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India to be innovation capital of the world; Start-ups to power India’s growth: Piyush Goyal

“Source:- IBEF”
Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, Mr. Piyush Goyal participated in the 3rd edition of India Energy Forum 2019 by CERAWeek in New Delhi today. Piyush Goyal was part of the Indian Ministerial panel along with R. K. Singh, Minister for New and Renewable Energy and Pralhad Joshi, Minister of Coal and Mines. The discussions were conducted by Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer prize winning author, speaker and energy expert.

During the discussions Commerce and Industry Minister said that India has naturally emerged as the startup capital of the world with the highest registered startups and he applauded the suo moto decision of the oil PSUs, under the Petroleum Ministry, to set up a startup fund that will encourage Indians to innovate and set up their own companies. Piyush Goyal further said that India will soon become the innovation capital of the world and informed that during his interactions with young innovators, even in the remote parts of the country, youngsters come forth with bright ideas to solve number of economic and social problems that prevail in India today. He said that he is extremely proud of the young girls and boys who are the driving force behind the start-up revolution taking place in India today.

Commerce and Industry Minister further said that he is not worried about the state of the world in this time of trade wars as these were issues waiting to be addressed. He further added that countries of the world cannot develop when few countries are giving subsidies and nurturing an eco-system of unfair trade and competition among industries’ the need of the hour to have a more balanced development across the world and distributed sources of wealth creation, said Piyush Goyal. There is need for free trade but there is greater need for fair trade said Commerce and Industry Minister as this will work in the interests of all countries and India supports the new dynamics of world trade. He further said that multilateralism will prevail, and India supports all fair and honest global efforts to do away with all unfair trade practices. He further informed that India will continue to support those countries that are struggling to get manufacturing back to their own countries and hoped that the existing system of prosperous countries outsourcing their pollution and emission to the developing world, in the garb of creating jobs but in reality ruining the health of the population and destroying the future prosperity of the citizens by outsourcing problems to developing countries, must stop immediately.

Piyush Goyal also informed that by 2023 Indian railways will be fully electrified and by 2030 the Indian Railways will use only renewable and clean energy. He hoped that there will be more FDI in the energy sector as 100 per cent FDI is allowed in this sector and there is requirement of around 70 billion US$ investment in India’s energy sector which is on the cusp of a revolution as there is great demand for energy in India because the country hopes to achieve self-sufficiency in domestic production of the energy requirements for every household. During this interaction he further informed that the India – US relations are robust with great potential to move forward and it is time for India – US relations to make a quantum leap if trade between the two countries must reach half trillion US$.

India is the third largest energy consumer in the world in absolute terms, after the United States, but per capita energy consumption is very low. There is need for a healthy mix of all commercial energy sources and India is today on the path of energy transition where 95% of households have access to electricity in the country today but there is increasing demand for energy which has to be fulfilled if India has to achieve the target of 450 megawatts set by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

During the India Energy Forum delegates from Indian and regional energy companies, institutions and governments participated in various sessions related to the energy sector in New Delhi from October 13-15, 2019.

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MG Motor India partners eChargeBays for setting up home charging infrastructure for EVs

“Source: Economic Times”
New Delhi: MG Motor India on Wednesday said it has partnered with eChargeBays, a Delhi-based start-up, for setting up home charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs).

The partnership comes ahead of the company’s launch of the its electric SUV EV., in December 2019.

As part of the partnership, MG will send experts to identify the best way in which MG ZS EV buyers can install an EV charger at home, the company said in a statement.

Commenting on the collaboration, MG Motor India President & Managing Director Rajeev Chaba said, “our latest association is aimed at supporting the government’s EV vision by providing a viable residential EV charging infrastructure.”

It also highlights MG’s commitment towards going the extra mile and delivering a convenient ownership experience for its EV customers, he added.

MG’s partnership with eChargeBays is the latest in a series of alliances with EV charging players aimed at creating a robust charging infrastructure in the country.

The company has already partnered with Fortum  and Delta  Electronics India for the fast charging and slow charging segments, respectively.

Rajesh Singh, Founder & CEO, eChargeBays, said most prospective EV buyers are hesitant on account of the limited charging infrastructure available.

“We aim to provide Indian car owners with a robust and safe one-stop solution for their home charging-related needs using our homeCharge solution,” he added.

Apart from this, eChargeBays will also launch a series of service solutions in the charging infra space which would aim at providing a seamless EV charging experience to EV customers, Singh said.

The MG ZS EV is a global product and has already received 2,000 orders within two months of its UK launch, the company said.

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India soon to become largest market for Unilever, says HUL chief

“Source: The Hindu Business Line”
India could soon become FMCG giant Unilever’s largest market globally driven by the factors such as rising disposable incomes and a large young working population in the country.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the FICCI Massmerize 2019 on Wednesday, Sanjiv Mehta, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Unilever Ltd , said, “ For Unilever, India is currently the largest market in volume terms and the second largest in value terms and in the very near future we clearly see a day when we would become the largest market for Unilever in the world.” He did not specify a time frame for the same.

Mehta’s comments come at a time when the FMCG industry is battling with a consumption slowdown, especially in rural markets.

He said that India’s consumption story is expected to be fuelled by rising affluence as a large chunk of people move from the bottom of the pyramid to the lower middle-class and from the lower middle-class to the upper echelons.

Mehta pointed out that per capita consumption of FMCG products is known to rise by 20-30 per cent with changes in the family structure from a joint family system to a nuclear family system.

Rapid urbanisation, rising number of nuclear families, growing penetration of organised retail and e-commerce channel will also further stimulate consumption in the country, he added.

Betting on kirana stores

He stressed that kirana and general trade stores will continue to play a key role. “In India, we have 10 million stores and for nearly 100 million people food on the table depends on the kirana or neighbourhood stores. So we cannot ignore or bypass them. Today, technology allows us to connect them and bring the science of retail to them,” Mehta said, adding that the onus to make this technological upgradation of the kirana stores also lies on big corporations.

According to a report released by FICCI and Deloitte at the event, Indian retail market is estimated to reach $1,200 billion by 2021 and $1,750 billion by 2026. It added that while the share of the organised retail and the e-commerce channel is likely to increase, the traditional retail is expected to continue to hold a major share of the Indian retail market. “The traditional kirana stores form the backbone of Indian retail, and currently hold an 88 per cent share of the total retail market,” the report said.

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Cargill to invest US$ 160 million in the next three years in new businesses

“Source:- IBEF”
Cargill, a global food and agriculture company plans to invest US$ 160 million in the next three years for fresh acquisitions, including brands, geographical and product-line expansions, two senior officials from the company said. It has promised US$ 240 million investment in the coming three years.

As this investment will be processed, the company’s total investment in India will touch almost US$ 750 million that includes around US$ 500 million in various facilities across the country over the years.

“Discussions are on towards increasing farmers’ income and productivity. We think that Cargill’s various businesses from agricultural supply chain, food and animal nutrition could play a big role in the months to come,” said Mr. Marcel Smits, chairman and chief executive officer, Asia Pacific, Cargill.

Cargill India President Mr. Simon George said, “Cargill has so far invested US$ 80 million of the promised US$ 240 million in India and the remaining will be done in the next 36 months in a host of initiatives.” The so far amount of US$ 80 million has been invested in US$ 20 million in an aqua feed facility in Andhra Pradesh, US$ 20 million in a state-of-the-art silo to store corn in Davangere having a capacity of 60,000 tonnes. The company also plans to set up a feed meal plant in Kota of Rajasthan.

Cargill also has a commodities business in India, under which it has sourced almost 13 commodities from around 300,000 farmers in 2018-19, totalling 600,000 metric tonnes.

“In India, the government plays an important role in the agriculture sector, which is largely self-sufficient. Our commodities business is relatively smaller here compared to other parts of the world and largely domestic. However, all that is rapidly changing. Going forward, one would have to be well integrated with the global supply chains to stay globally competitive,” Smits said.

The intervention by the government makes the business little less predictable for industries like commodities, when compared to other countries, but since the size of commodities business is small, it does not have much impact on their overall operations. According to the company, the policy interventions in duty structure do not impact them much as there is still level field for all.

The edible oil business of the company consists of both as a bulk importer and also a leading player in the branded edible oil segment in India. This forms an important portion of revenues of the company from India.

According to Mr. Smits, “Globally, Cargill has long been a strong votary of free trade and we strongly feel that if the world has to feed 9.5 billion people by 2050, it has to allow comparative advantages to play out which can be best done through free-trade.” He further added that free trade is not a zero-sum game, which means that all sides can have a win-win situation.

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Samsung plans four IoT experience centres in India

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : South Korean multinational Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd plans to set up four more state-of-the-art experience centres to showcase its end-to-end Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to drive growth in its India business.

Samsung said such centres will help familiarize consumers with its solutions for smarter homes and, this in turn, will help boost sales. The experience centres are likely to come up in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.

The company opened its first mobile experience centre for the Indian market in Bengaluru in September 2018.

The 33,000-sq.ft store at the Opera House off Brigade Road—a standalone property used during the British era to stage plays—houses Samsung’s largest mobile experience centre globally.

“We will launch four more such centres in other metro cities,” Raju Pullan, senior vice-president, consumer electronics business, Samsung India, said in an interview.

He, however, did not share the investment details or the timeline for setting up these centres.

The Opera House’s experience zone displays all its existing IoT-enabled products, besides smartphones and wearable devices. Consumers can also experience virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI)-based products.

That apart, consumers can pre-book the home theatre zone at the Opera House to watch movies.

The expansion of IoT experience centres is in line with Samsung’s overall strategy to develop an artificial intelligence-based ecosystem, including solutions for homes and workplaces. These experience zones will be later extended to the company-owned branded stores.

“Samsung Bixby is the platform that we are investing in India. The investments on Bixby have not only been in mobiles or TV, but also to make, for example, refrigerators smarter. Like the Family Hub (for) the fridge, the microwave and washing machine can also be connected to one ecosystem,” Pullan said.

Samsung’s Family Hub smart refrigerators are Bixby-enabled, a virtual assistant developed by Samsung. The fridge allows users to answer calls or access third-party apps from a Galaxy smartphone, or help find nearby restaurants, share notes, pictures, videos and music using the Family Board feature.

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Minda to acquire Germany based lighting company Delvis Gmbh in multi-million Euro deal

“Source – The Hindu Business Line”
Auto components supplier Minda Industries Limited (MIL),part of Uno Minda Group on Tuesday said that it has entered into definitive agreement with shareholders of Germany based Delvis Gmbh, to acquire 100 per cent interest in the company in a multi-million Euro deal.

Delvis Gmbh is an automotive lamps engineering, design company & testing. The enterprise value of the company along with its two subsidiaries Delvis Solution and Delvis Products is around Euro 21 million, subject to adjustments, if any, at closing,Minda Industries Limited said in a statement.

“The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and other regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to be concluded in next two months. The transaction will be funded by mix of debt and equity,” it said.

The acquisition is part of its strategy to augment/acquire technological capabilities in existing product lines (automotive lighting). This acquisition is expected to deliver considerable synergies for growth of lamp business in India and enhance its product offerings to original equipment manufacturers, the company said.

“The automotive lighting industry has seen a major shift in technology with the advent of LED based lighting products. While the global markets had migrated to LED 8-10 years ago, India market is now demanding this technology. This acquisition would help us bridge this gap with cutting edge technology that Delvis has to offer to global markets,” N K Minda, Chairman and Managing Director,Minda Industries Limited said.

Delvis is among the top players with state of the art lighting technology and works closely with German OEMs (Volkswagen/ Audi/ Porsche) in pre-development activities for high end platforms, which deploy the next level of technologies.

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India sets quality standards for global potato trade

“Source: Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Quality standards proposed by India will apply to global trade in potatoes.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international food standards body established jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, has approved these standards at a session in Mexico.

India’s Agriculture commissioner, SK Malhotra, who chaired the global working group for development of standards for potato, told ET over the phone from Mexico that standard and quality guidelines for potato would contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of this international food trade.

“Apart from protecting health of consumers from substandard food products, these standards are recognised as the reference food standards in any WTO dispute settlement under various agreements,” he said.

The standard guidelines cover all the commercial varieties of potatoes, considering shape, skin colour and flesh colour.

“The shape varies from spherical to ovoid and oblong, elongated; the skin colour from white through yellow to tan and the flesh colour from white to yellow to blue. The provisions concerning quality, sizing, minimum requirements and tolerances allowed in each class have been elaborated in standards,” Malhotra said.

Globally, 380 million tonnes of potato is produced in more than 100 countries and 50% of this is consumed fresh. The tuber is important for food security for millions of people across South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

India produced about 53 million tonnes of potatoes during 2018-19. The country exports around 3.5 lakh tonnes of potatoes a year, earning Rs 350-400 crore.

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Keeping data within India a big leap for us: Oracle

“Source: Economic Times”
There is definite hunger and desire among the Indian enterprises to move their workloads to the Cloud and with Oracle Gen 2 data centre now open in Mumbai, we have ensured that sensitive data remains within the boundaries of the country, a top company executive has said.

The Indian CEOs and CTOs are clear on one thing: It’s from my data that I’m going to learn my customers’ behaviour, understand my product better, receive new insights and innovate on top of those.

“Every organization is a data organization today; it’s all about the information and how to analyse it, parse it and create AI-based Cloud models that help the organization grow. We have now fulfilled the most challenging demand coming from the Indian businesses: If the data doesn’t stay on-premise, let it stay within the country,” Andrew Sutherland, SVP-Technology, Oracle EMEA and JAPAC, told IANS.

For Sutherland, it is big leap for Oracle at a time when not only companies but the governments too recognize the value of information and how data is core to the success of any firm across verticals.

“We’re becoming increasingly conscious that there are strong data jurisdictions and we need to respond to that in a sensible way. By putting Gen 2 Cloud data centre here in India, we hope that we will meet those requirements,” the executive noted.

Over 100 enterprise customers in the country have already moved their workloads onto the Gen 2 Cloud data center in Mumbai, which is being run solely by Oracle without any third-party involvement.

The Cloud major has plans to open another Gen 2 Cloud data centre in Hyderabad next year. Customers and partners in India can now harness the power of Oracle Cloud and leading services like Autonomous Database to unlock innovation and drive business growth.

The Gen 2 enterprise cloud supports all legacy workloads while delivering modern cloud development tools, so enterprises in India can bring forward their past as they build their future.

According to Sutherland, to help enterprises achieve greater insights and deliver better customer experiences, we need to have a whole new Cloud architecture that is built around cost, scalability, agility and self-repairing capabilities.

“In the new Oracle Cloud infrastructure (OCI), the multi-layered security provides a different security architecture with incorporating intelligence into it. We’re asking data to look after itself with autonomous database in this infrastructure. That’s what we are confident it will help unlock the modern Cloud era for enterprises,” he elaborated.

Not just big enterprises, Sutherland is confident the new Oracle Cloud will help small and medium businesses (SMBs) shun the legacy infrastructure and begin their Cloud journey.

“There’s hunger and desire to move onto the Cloud among SMBs in India. I don’t think there’s any cultural resistance in any way. There is boldness in their approach. The next step is where to take the first bite to eat and for that, we are here to help,” said the Oracle executive.

 

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Telecom Infra revenue potential may touch Rs 31,000 crore by 2023: Study

“Source: Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Indian telecom infrastructure’s revenue  potential is expected to reach Rs 21,500-Rs 31,000 crore by 2023, as latest information technology developments are driving demand for new business models, an EY study released on Friday evening said. However, in order to catch up with the revenue potential the sector will need investment in the range of Rs 66,000- 93,000 crore, the study said.

“Tower cos today are well placed to tap in on new opportunities that represent a revenue potential of Rs 215 billion-Rs 310 billion by 2023. With the high momentum from tower cos, and government’s push on infrastructure growth, the future is promising for the telecom infrastructure sector,” Prashant Singhal, Emerging Markets TMT Leader, EY said.

As the demand for data and 5G knocking at the door, there is seismic shift in the industry-leading to plenty of opportunities are arising for tower companies to shift their attention from a macro tower focused business, towards new business models hinged on fiber, small cells, data centers, Wi-Fi and smart cities and beyond, as per the study.

Globally, tower companies have started reaping the benefit of results of new areas of investment, it said.

“To tap on these emerging business models at full potential, it would require an investment of approximately Rs 660 billion – 930 billion in the 2018-2023 time-frame,” the report said.

The telecom market has shrunk to a limited 4 (three private and BSNL-MTNL combined) operator format. The data demand is expected to witness five-fold increase 2018-23.

“Next-generation technologies such as 5G and IoT require formidable network performance, which has triggered the need for a diverse infrastructure mix. Infrastructure providers are in strong position to tap on the new opportunities such as fibre, small cells, Wi-Fi and smart cities. Infra cos have the potential to tap 35-40 per cent of the overall addressable market of these new revenue segments,” Bharat Bhargava, Telecommunications Advisory Leader – Performance Improvement, EY said.

The study said that fibre presents significant potential as the overall fibre deployment in the country is expected to increase at a CAGR of 13.6 per cent, from 1.5 million cable kilometers in 2018, to 2.8 million cable kilometers in 2023.

“Wireless, fibre to the home and common infrastructure would be the major contributors to fibre demand. The fiber growth is expected to see a fillip 2020 onward, with expected launch of 5G in 2023,” the report said.

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Ericsson to make 5G radio in India for domestic and global need

“Source: Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson said that it will start manufacturing 5G radio products in India for domestic consumption as well as for exports.

The company has already been making 4G radio products in India for both exports and domestic market in its Chakan factory, Pune.

“Last year, we have started making 4G radio for exports and for India. We are ready switch the production from 4G to 5G. We will locally produce 5G gear in India…when spectrum is allocated,”

Nunzio Mirtillo, Senior Vice President and Head of Market Area South East Asia, Oceania & India said at during his speech at the IMC 2019.

Ericsson’s European rival Nokia  has already been making 5G radios from its Chennai factory.In a recent interaction with ET, Nokia India head Sanjay Malik said that the company has so far manufactured 20,000 5G sites in Chennai.

Malik added that Nokia may ramp up 5G manufacturing in India basis global demand.

Ericsson’s Mirtillo said that 5G technology will enable many industries and their businesses. “It can happen in India as well.”

Ericsson has so far enabled 19 live 5G networks across 4 continents. “We have been always invested in technology and innovation. We are ready to help our customers enable 5G,” he said.

 

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Qualcomm announces support for India’s NavIC Satellite Navigation System

“Source: Economic Times”
BENGALURU: American chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies  in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on Monday announced support for India’s Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC), in select chipset platforms across the Company’s upcoming portfolio.

“The initiative will help accelerate the adoption of NavIC and enhance the geolocation capabilities of mobile, automotive and the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions – with the backing of engineering talent in India,” Qualcomm said in a press statement. The collaboration delivered the first-ever NavIC demonstration using the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ Mobile Platforms on September 19.

The solution is built on Qualcomm Technologies’ leading foundational inventions in location-based position technology. As part of the updated platforms, the Qualcomm® Location Suite now supports up to seven satellite constellations concurrently, including the use of all of NavIC’s operating satellites for more accurate location performance, faster time-to-first-fix (TTFF) position acquisition, and improved robustness of location-based services.

“We’re pleased to enhance our commitment to India by enabling support for NavIC in our chipset platforms and continuing our work with ISRO to accelerate NavIC’s adoption,” said Durga  Malladi, senior vice president, and general manager, 4G/5G, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “This collaboration is the result of our long-standing presence and investments in the region, including a substantive local engineering force and ongoing initiatives aimed at empowering India’s technology and innovation ecosystems, such as the Qualcomm Design in India Challenge and Qualcomm Innovation Lab. We look forward to seeing India continue to leverage next-generation mobile technologies and applications for new economic growth and societal benefits across its industries and communities.”

Support for NavIC will be available in select Qualcomm Technologies’ chipset platforms starting in late 2019 and commercial devices with NavIC support are expected to be available during the first half of 2020.

“NavIC is a critical step forward in our pursuit of harnessing space technology for national development and we are eager to make it accessible to everyone for their day to day use. ISRO is very happy to be working with Qualcomm Technologies to enable NavIC on Mobile platforms. Qualcomm Technologies’ leadership and support for NavIC on their mobile platforms will bring the benefits of this indigenous solution to every Indian. ISRO appreciates Qualcomm Technologies for enabling the technology demonstration of NavIC support on the mobile platform for the very first time.” said Dr. K Sivan, Chairman, ISRO and Secretary, Department of Space.

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Australia to work towards cementing Quad grouping, says PM Morrison

“Source:- Livemint”
New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said his country would work towards cementing the Quad grouping that brings together the US, Japan and India besides Australia more firmly in the Indo-Pacific’ region’s diplomatic and security architecture.

In a major foreign policy speech to the Sydney-based Lowy Institute think tank, Morrison also announced that he had accepted an invite to be the key note speaker at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi in January. The Raisina Dialogue, that takes place in the middle of January every year, is a prestigious annual foreign policy forum modeled on the lines of the Singapore-organised Shangrila Dialogue that gathers leaders, international security experts and foreign policy practitioners.

On the Quad, seen by some as a counter to the aggressively rising China, Morrison said it was “an important forum for Australia and the region” that “complements the role of ASEAN and ASEAN-led architecture.” ASEAN brings together 10 Southeast Asian nations.

While not mentioning China in relation to the Quad, Morrison said: “It is a key forum for exchanging views on challenges facing the region, including taking forward practical cooperation on maritime, terrorism and cyber issues.”

Morrison’s comments come a week after the Quad met at ministerial level for the first time in New York after the concept was revived in 2017.

The Quad has had three meetings at the official level prior to the ministerial meet in New York.

China’s rising military and economic profile besides its aggressive posturing in the South China Sea and other areas in the Indo-Pacific has triggered concerns among countries in the region as well as members of the Quad. The upgrading of the levels of discussion last week, could be seen as a strengthening of the Quad framework to discuss regional security challenges and prospects for coordination

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Syngenta opens agriculture research centre in Andhra Pradesh

“Source:- IBEF”
Syngenta, which is an agricultural company, has set up an innovation and learning centre at Bhimadolu village near Eluru, the district headquarters town of West Godavari, in Andhra Pradesh.

According to Erik Fyrwald, the CEO of the Syngenta, who was on a two-day visit to the country, said,  “Providing food to the rising population of India and the world was a huge challenge and further it should be done in a sustainable manner, without harming the environment”.
The company has succeeded in its attempt to provide solution in reducing the chemical pesticide and fertiliser use without reducing any output. It has provided innovative solutions to the farmers.

The company will set a seed care institute at Bhimadolu. The focus will be to provide customised solutions to the farmers. Dr. K.C Ravi, Chief Officer, Syngenta India, said the company would also focus on women engaged in agricultural activities.

Andhra Pradesh is among the leading agricultural states in India and therefore the company had chosen the location for institute.

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Recycle, reuse policy to drive India’s plan to become resource efficient

“Soure:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : Concerns over resource depletion have soared in India because of rising factory output, urbanization and population putting pressure on existing resources.

Against this backdrop, the Union environment ministry has drafted a National Resource Efficiency Policy, aiming to double the recycling rate of key materials to 50% in the next five years and enable upcycling of waste.

“The agenda is to develop a circular economy. This can be achieved by two measures—firstly by recycling the materials, and secondly, by increasing the efficiency of use of these resources. These are the policy aspects that we are looking at. Recycling is about industries, which will do it. Resource efficiency is a concept which needs to be followed across all sectors,” Union environment secretary C.K. Mishra said.

At least 96% of India’s mining capacity is located in the 13 mineral-rich states of Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharasthra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Goa and Rajasthan.

Though India can meet its current demand for raw materials for thermal power generation, iron and steel, aluminium, cement and mineral fuels for coal and lignite, it remains import dependent for critical materials such as molybdenum, copper and nickel. This could make it vulnerable to supply shocks, considering rising material consumption, which is up sixfold from 1.18 billion tonnes in 1970 to 7 billion tonnes in 2015.

“Linear production and consumption is leading to a lot of wastage in the entire value chain. Opportunities exist at each and every stage of the product cycle which can be utilized, especially at a time, when the economy is going through a rough patch. The automobile sector is under serious stress and dependent on import of a lot of materials; this is the right time for India to position itself better to future demands,” said Souvik Bhattacharjya, fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in New Delhi.

The draft policy, released on 23 July envisions setting up a National Resource Efficiency Authority which will help develop resource efficiency strategies for different sectors and adopt them into a three-year action plan. To begin with, seven key sectors have been identified—automobile, plastic packaging, building and construction sector, electrical and electronic equipment sector, solar photo-voltaic sector, and steel and aluminium sector.

The National Green Tribunal had imposed ban on diesel vehicles more than ten years old in the National Capital Region in view of the rising pollution levels. Following which, more vehicles will end up as end-of-life vehicles. Under the policy, the government plans to set up centres to collect such vehicles and carry out the deregistration process, and shredding centres which would segregate materials for recycling. As many as 20 official dismantlers would be established across major urban centres by 2020. The plan is to ensure 75% recycling rate for vehicles made before 1990, 85% recycling rate for vehicles made between 1990 and 2000, and 90% recycling rate for vehicles made after 2000.

“Be it the electronics and telecommunication sector, plastic industry, photo-voltaic, battery manufacturing and storage, the future depends on how efficiently the raw materials needed are used, how strategically we procure the resources from outside and ensure efficient use of the available ones to reduce wastage. It’s not just about raw materials but critical resources like water too,” said Bhattacharjya.

Another concern is plastic waste, contributing 8% of the total solid waste. The draft policy aims to achieve a 100% recycling and reuse rate polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic by 2025.

The draft policy also aims to gradually reducing dependence on virgin materials and enhance re-use of construction and demolition waste. There will be emphasis on developing codes and standards for quality of secondary raw materials to ensure confidence in the product, so that by 2025, at least 30% of total public procurement of materials for civil construction can be from recycled materials.

“We are a consumerist society and the sustainability of consumption is not that well-recognized. The document has come at the right time, when sustainable uses of resources really need to be pushed forward. The policy is like a guiding document. Now, we need action on ground by the respective ministries and departments. Every sector should move towards sustainable use of resources,” said Shilpi Kapur Bakshi, fellow at TERI, in Mumbai.

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Biocon to set up R&D facility in India to boost biosimilars development

“Source:- IBEF”
In a bid to expand its research base, India’s largest biopharmaceutical company Biocon has acquired some assets from Pfizer Healthcare to set up its second R&D plant in India.

The assets have been acquired by Biocon Biologics, a subsidiary of the Bengaluru-based company, for an undisclosed amount to set up a 60,000 square feet state-of-the-art R&D facility in Chennai.

“The high-end integrated R&D facility in Chennai will enable Biocon Biologics to expand its R&D capability and accelerate its journey towards meeting its strategic long-term goal of addressing the needs of millions of patients worldwide,” said Christiane Hamacher, CEO, Biocon Biologics. The centre will be operational in a few months.

Currently, Biocon has a 200,000 square feet R&D centre at Bengaluru which has a product pipeline of 28 molecules, including 11 with Mylan, few with Sandoz and rest on its own.

This investment will allow the company to fast-forward development of its biosimilars from bench to pilot scale, said a company spokesperson.

“R&D is at the core of what we do, and I believe this facility will enable us to pursue breakthrough innovation in pursuit of providing affordable access to high quality biosimilars and inclusive healthcare solutions aimed at transforming patient lives globally,” said Hamacher.

According to a McKinsey report, the biosimilars market is expected to be pegged at US$ 15 billion by 2020.

“Biosimilars offer attractive prospects for Indian players, especially in the US and EU markets, and this investment will help Biocon capiltalise such an opportunity,” said Gaurav Jain, vice-president, ICRA.

Biocon chose the strategy of acquiring the R&D assets to set up its facility over a greenfield project to accelerate the global development of its biosimilars portfolio, explained the spokesperson.

Once operational, the facility is expected to house over 250 scientists who will have access to the R&D labs equipped with over 500 high-end process and analytical instrumentation.

The company’s biologics business had registered a growth of the 96 per cent at Rs 490 crore in the quarter ended June, led by the expansion of geographical footprint and increased penetration of products in key developed and emerging markets.

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Top 1,000 listed firms may see tax savings of Rs 37,000 crore on tax cut: Crisil

“Source:- IBEF”
CRISIL Research on Sunday said top 1,000 listed companies could see tax savings of Rs 37,000 crore (US$ 5.29 billion) on account of the corporate tax cut.

“Over the past few days, a slew of measures has been introduced to address the slowdown in the Indian economy. Friday’s announcement, however, is the most material…Our analysis indicates these 1,000 companies could see tax savings of Rs 37,000 crore (US$ 5.29 billion), or nearly a fourth of the total savings anticipated by the government,” it said in a statement.

The drop-in tax rate would now bring India at par with most Asian economies, it added.

“CRISIL Research’s analysis of nearly 1,000 companies — spread across 80+ sectors such that they cover more than 70 per cent of NSE’s market capitalisation — indicates that effective tax rates had risen over the past 5 years,” it said.

These companies, including oil & gas and financial services, account for nearly a third of the tax paid by India Inc.

“These estimates are based on profit before tax for fiscal 2019. Given that we expect 5-6 per cent growth in India Inc revenues and EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) for this fiscal, the savings could end up a tad higher,” it added.

In a major fiscal booster, the government on Friday slashed effective corporate tax to 25.17 per cent, inclusive of all cess and surcharges for domestic companies.

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Sponsors feel NBA India may be a slam dunk

“Source: Economic Times”
NEW DELHI | MUMBAI: US President Donald Trump isn’t the only one upping the ante on the first NBA India basketball  games scheduled to take place in Mumbai on October 4 and 5. The games have generated interest and sponsorships from a dozen or so on-ground and on-air sponsors including PepsiCo’s sports drink Gatorade, fashion brand Myntra, phone maker Apple and personal care maker L’Oreal.

During his address at last week’s Howdy Modi event, Trump had said: “Very soon India will have access to another world-class American product — NBA basketball. Am I invited, Mr Prime Minister? I may come.” NBA, a cult sporting event, globally bigger than the Indian Premier League (IPL), will feature the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers in two pre-season games.

“With growing consciousness about sports and fitness among consumers, we believe that the sports nutrition ecosystem in India is poised for quantum growth,” PepsiCo marketing director, hydration and cola, Tarun Bhagat said. The beverage maker’s sports drink Gatorade has signed up as official sports drink partner for the NBA. The brand had signed up in-form athlete Hima Das to endorse it, in addition to badminton ace PV Sindhu, who is also the face of Gatorade. The sports drink is already partner for NBA globally.

A spokesperson for Myntra said it has signed up as official fashion partner for the NBA India games.“NBA has a massive fan-following in India. With this association, customers across the country will now be able to shop for official NBA merchandise on our platform.”

Rohit Gupta, chief revenue officer – ad sales and international business at Sony Pictures Networks (SPN), said advertisers’ response to NBA’s India games was encouraging, considering that it’s a niche sport here. He said Apple, L’Oreal, TVS, Croma Electronics and William Grant were key advertisers for the broadcast, adding that SPN was in talks with a few more advertisers. “Organising the games in India is a great way to promote and build a larger fan base here. It is very good for NBA and India as it will make the sport grow,” Gupta said.

Industry watchers said sports other than cricket have a promising future in the country if they are provided with scale investments.

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Microsoft kick-starts a unique initiative for supporting start-ups

“Source:- Financial Express”
With an effort to promote the Indian startup ecosystem, Microsoft for Startups has launched a new initiative called ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns’ that aims to empower startups with mentoring and technology support for enterprise readiness. As part of this initiative, Microsoft will engage with innovators and entrepreneurs through a series of outreach programmes across tier 2 cities. The American tech major will work closely with state governments to strengthen the startup ecosystems in each state. Organised in collaboration with the Industries Commissionerate and iNDEXTb, government of Gujarat, recently more than 250 startups attended the first event at Gandhinagar.

The impetus on innovation and entrepreneurship in India is helping startups to stem from not just metropolitan hubs such as Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru, but also other tier 1 and tier 2 cities. However, some of the key challenges in scaling their businesses include lack of cutting-edge technology support and dearth of mentorship from ecosystem players.

Lathika Pai, country head, Microsoft for Startups – MENA and Saarc, said, “There is a strong pool of ideas and talent beyond the well-known startup hubs of India. Through Highway to a Hundred Unicorns, we will reach out to startups in tier 2 cities and support them to achieve scale at their place of origin. Our tech expertise and experience of engaging with some of the most successful Indian startups will help innovators across the breadth of the country become enterprise-ready and scale their operations in India and globally.”

The Microsoft ScaleUp programme supports Seed or Series A funded B2B and select B2C tech-enabled startups to co-sell with Microsoft sales teams, get access to top tech VCs globally and receive mentorship from the startup ecosystem. Gaining access to large enterprises to co-create solutions or integrate product offerings and designing robust go-to-market strategies for their industry or customer segments are critical in the startup growth journey.

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Ministry of Tourism launches Audio Guide facility App “Audio Odigos” for 12 sites of India (including Iconic Sites)

“Source:- IBEF”
On the second day of nationwide “Paryatan Parv 2019” Shri Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism in the presence of DG, ASI Smt. Usha Sharma launched the Audio Guide facility Audio Odigos for 12 sites of India (including Iconic Sites). An MoU for Gol Gumbad, Delhi with Government of Delhi and Resbird Technologies was also exchanged for the development of Tourism Amenities during the programme at Paryatan Parv New Delhi, today.

Speaking on the occasion Shri Yogendra Tripathi said that this is the 3rd edition of Paryatan Parv and we are getting good response from general public. We are expecting more than 1 lakh footfalls during the weekend, he added. He also said that in the line of vision of Prime Minister we are not using single use plastic in Paryatan Parv arrangements.

While briefing the media, the Secretary said that today 26th MoU under the ‘Adopt a Heritage, Apni Dharohar Apni Pehchan’ scheme of Ministry of Tourism has been exchanged for development of Tourism Amenities. The project aims to develop synergy amongst all stakeholders and involves active participation of local communities / players to promote ‘responsible tourism’.

He further said that the response to the project has been very encouraging as agencies that have come forward, include not only public and private industry/ individuals but also schools and law firms. Earlier, 42 Letters of Intent have been issued to 38 agencies for 106 sites and 25 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed with 12 agencies for 23 sites and two technological interventions under the project across India.

Shri Yogendra Tripathi said that Ministry of Tourism’s scheme “Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan”, is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Governments / UT Administrations. It aims at involving public sector companies, private sector companies and corporate citizens/individuals to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable through development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/ State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India.

The secretary also said that today we have launched Audio Guide: Audio Odigos, for the benefit of the tourists.  Audio guide odigo offers Government of India verified content, with visuals & voice over support. With Audio Odigos, tourists will now enjoy a more enriching experience and take back historical insights of the Indian culture and heritage. The Audio Odigos app contains an inbuilt map of the site for a smooth navigation during the tour. Listeners will be offered various versions of history like Synopsis, Detailed History and Podcasts. The audio can be chosen in their preferred language & version of the history. Audio Odigos is now available for download on all Android and iOS supported mobile phones.

DG, Tourism Smt. Meenakshi Sharma briefed the media that Audio Guide facility Audio Odigos can be used in 12 sites that includes  Amer Fort, Rajasthan, Chandni Chowk, Red Fort, Purana Quila, Humayun’s tomb, Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh, Somnath and Dholavira, Gujarat, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu and  Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar. She also said that  this app is the outcome of the MoU signed with Resbird Technologies last year under which they have developed the audio guide app as a part of their CSR.

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After FB, Netflix, more US tech giants turn to India for new apps release

“Source:- IBEF”
According to a veteran internet analyst, India is emerging as the testing and acquisition playground for global consumer technology companies, especially the so-called FAANGs.

According to RBC Capital Markets’ Mark Mahaney, self-claimed as Wall Street’s “oldest internet analyst”, India in present scenario is more popular market than countries like China because of the lesser regulations and same growth dynamics.

India is one of the largest economies and most populous countries in the world, making it into a testing ground for companies such as Facebook Inc., which tested its beta-test a payment feature for WhatsApp. Netflix Inc. also introduced its mobile plan in India at Rs 199 (US$ 2.80), which is much cheaper than what it charges for a basic plan elsewhere, and it has also created original content to target more market share.

Mr. Mahaney said, “India does have regulations, but it doesn’t seem to be as protectionist as China.” Although India has been opting to introduce new law that would need personal data to be stored locally, which could disrupt in the operations of the Internet giants but Mahaney remains confident they can still penetrate the market.

Besides organic growth, companies are also focusing on acquisition in India, particularly since they are facing more regulations back in their home grounds and in western Europe. Mahaney added, “There’s an opportunity to build growth” in Asia, particularly in India.

Amazon.com Inc. has already tried its hand at deals in the South Asian nation by trying to acquire Indian e-commerce pioneer Flipkart Online Services Pvt., before it was taken over by Walmart Inc. last year.

Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and Alphabet Inc. can all win big in India, said Mahaney, who has a buy rating on the stocks. “India is less than 5 per cent of the Amazon’s total revenues but it has the potential” to get to that level within five years, Mahaney said.

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DHL Express India to invest Rs 100 crore this fiscal

“Source:- IBEF”
DHL Express India, an International express service provider, plans to invest Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.31 million) this fiscal year. The investment will be focused on expanding its presence by setting up facility centres and investing in technology.

This investment is part of the €250 million (Rs 1,944.81 crore) that Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL, the world’s largest mailing and logistics provider and holding company of DHL Express, had committed as investments in the country till 2020.

India is among the top 10 markets for DHL Express globally and one of the first five business location for Asia Pacific region. The turnover of the DHL Express’ global was to the tune of €16 billion (or Rs 1,25,000 crore).

The company has been facing a slowdown in its growth but has no plans of slowing down its investment plans, according to RS Subramanian, Country Manager, DHL Express India. The growth so far of the present fiscal year across logistics players have been registered to around 7-8 per cent.

The investments done this year will be focused on expanding its facilities area for instance where cargo is handled, upgrade of existing smaller facilities to larger ones, adding new vehicles to its fleet, and towards upgrading technology.

The company has around 60-odd facilities across the country having a direct presence in 25-30 cities. The presence in the rest of the country is indirect through agents. The company offers cross-border solutions across industries, including some specialist solutions for the aviation sector, pharma and life sciences. It offers ‘express’ business, which mainly consist of 20 per cent of documents, and the remaining 80 per cent are parcels.

Mr. Subramanian said, “We are investing at least Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.31 million) in India every year for some two-to-three years now. Yes, compared to 2018-19, there has been a slowdown in growth this fiscal. But it does not mean we have delayed any investments. Our forecast was to grow in double digits, of 10-11 per cent, between 2017 and 2021. We have been in line with the forecast or may be grown 1 per cent ahead of the market.”

He added, “The slowdown is a temporary phenomenon because ‘express’ business in general is more or less resilient to slowdown.”

The DHL Express has planned an average increase of 6.9 per cent in shipment price, that will be effective from January 1, 2020.This surge could go up to 15 per cent for shipments of cross border e-commerce, due to higher costs of delivery.

DHL Express India is also focusing on SMEs to involve them in business as it looks to de-risk the overall business. Around 60-64 per cent of its revenues here come from SMEs.

The company is organising workshops and “road shows” to help these SMEs handle on to the increase in e-commerce market. Furthermore, it is also training them in issues regarding tie-ups with payment solution providers, making their websites e-commerce friendly and even setting up their own websites.

Almost 1,700-2,000 SMEs who are trading online – either via B2B or B2C channels – use DHL Express’ services.

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Tech Mahindra Recognized as a ‘Leader’ in Software Product Engineering Services by Everest Group PEAK Matrix™

“Source:- Mahindra News”
Bengaluru: Tech Mahindra Ltd. a leading provider of digital transformation, consulting and business reengineering services and solutions, has been recognized as a ‘Leader’ in the Everest Group Software Product Engineering Services PEAK Matrix™ Assessment for the year 2019. Focus on future technologies, investments in strategic platforms, customized industry specific solutions and advisory role in customer’s digital transformation journey were amongst the key assessment criteria.

As part of this report, Everest Group classified service providers on the PEAK Matrix™ into leaders, major contenders and aspirants, and positioned Tech Mahindra as a “Leader” for their strong capabilities in software product engineering and successful engagements with customers via innovative constructs such as product carveouts.

Akshat Vaid, Vice President, Engineering Services Research & Advisory, Everest Group“Tech Mahindra maintained its leadership position in the 2019 PEAK Matrix™ assessment as a result of good all-round performance through the year and concerted efforts in further strengthening capabilities in software product engineering. The company has invested in emerging themes such as microservices, user interface/ user experience, cloud enablement and management, and Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning in the form of IP assets and frameworks. Tech Mahindra’s willingness to engage via innovative commercial models, partnering in ideation, and its ability to accelerate time to market are well appreciated by customers.”

Tech Mahindra was evaluated across a range of parameters such as “vision & capability” and “market impact” including services, products, solutions and locations. It was positioned as a ‘Leader’ based on – top quartile performance across market success; delivery capability captured through ability to deliver services successfully through scale, scope, enabling capabilities and delivery footprint; expertise in, and driving focus on technologies of the future, investments in strategic platforms; customized industry specific solutions and advisory role in a customer’s digital transformation journey.

Karthikeyan Natarajan, Global Head, Engineering, Internet of Things and Enterprise Mobility, Tech Mahindra, said, “As part of the TechMNxt charter, Tech Mahindra is focused on leveraging next generation technologies to deliver enhanced experience to customers globally through our next gen software and digital engineering practices. This recognition is a testimony of our continued investments in building IP (Internet Protocol), software platform and automation solutions, enabling our customers to be agile, intelligent and cognitive.”

According to the PEAK Matrix report from Everest Group, Software accounted for nearly one-third of the global engineering research and development spend by businesses in 2018 and it has been the fastest growing segment over the last three years. The global outsourcing market for Software Product Engineering stood at US$11.2 billion in 2018, witnessing a Year on Year (YoY) growth of 20.4%.

Tech Mahindra’s Integrated Engineering Solutions (IES) delivers solutions enabling “Digital Engineering Enterprise” across Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Industrial, Telecom, Hi-Tech, Healthcare, Transportation and ISVs. With 50+ exclusive engineering development centers supporting new program launches and 120+ marquee global customers, Tech Mahindra IES is an established leader for Engineering Services in the industry.

About Tech Mahindra

Tech Mahindra represents the connected world, offering innovative and customer-centric information technology experiences, enabling Enterprises, Associates and the Society to Rise™. We are a USD 4.9 billion company with 125,700+ professionals across 90 countries, helping 941 global customers including Fortune 500 companies. Our convergent, digital, design experiences, innovation platforms and reusable assets connect across a number of technologies to deliver tangible business value and experiences to our stakeholders. Tech Mahindra is the highest ranked Non-U.S. company in the Forbes Global Digital 100 list (2018) and in the Forbes Fab 50 companies in Asia (2018).

We are part of the USD 21 billion Mahindra Group that employs more than 200,000 people in over 100 countries. The Group operates in the key industries that drive economic growth, enjoying a leadership position in tractors, utility vehicles, after-market, information technology and vacation ownership.

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Tech Mahindra and Keysight Collaborate to Accelerate Adoption of 5G Devices Globally

“Source:- Mahindra News”
Santa Rosa, New Delhi : Tech Mahindra, a leading provider of digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering services and solutions, has announced an extended collaboration with Keysight, a leading technology company that helps enterprises, service providers and governments accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world, to support leading mobile operators achieve their goals of successfully deploying new 5G devices.

Due to low latency and high range, 5G devices will be the key catalyst behind the expansion of Vehicle to Everything (V2X) communications, that is, passing of information from a vehicle to any entity like vehicle, infrastructure and grid that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa.

Karthikeyan Natarajan, Global Head – Integrated Engineering Solutions, Tech Mahindra, said, “The successful rollout of 5G is critical for the promotion of the next phase of digital transformation. Tech Mahindra is betting big on the 5G opportunity and is looking at the global markets to achieve growth. The 5G market is moving quickly and our collaboration with Keysight will enable us to provide the customers an environment which supports the accelerated 5G lifecycle.”

Tech Mahindra will leverage Keysight’s 5G protocol and radio frequency/radio resource management (RF/RRM) carrier acceptance toolsets which are part of the Keysight’s suite of 5G network emulation solutions. The solutions will be offered to communication service providers (CSPs) and telecom equipment manufacturers (TEMs) which will help leading 5G mobile operators deliver a superior subscriber experience.

Kailash Narayanan, Vice President and General Manager of Keysight’s Wireless Test Group, said, “We’re pleased that Tech Mahindra has chosen Keysight to help them address key 5G test requirements mandated by mobile operators, device makers and various standards. By offering a strong portfolio of 5G carrier acceptance solutions adopted by a connected mobile ecosystem, we’re accelerating global 5G commercialization of multi-mode devices in different form factors.”

Keysight’s industry-first 5G end-to-end design and test solutions enable the mobile industry to accelerate 5G product design development from the physical layer to the application layer and across the entire workflow from simulation, design, and verification to manufacturing, deployment, and optimization. Keysight offers common software and hardware platforms compliant to the latest 3rd Generation Partnership Project standards, enabling the ecosystem to quickly and accurately validate 5G chipsets, devices, base stations and networks, as well as emulate subscriber behaviour scenarios.

As part of its TechMNxt Charter, Tech Mahindra is focused on leveraging next gen technologies to cater to the customer’s evolving and dynamic needs. As a leading digital transformation company, Tech Mahindra continues to deliver tangible business value and experiences to solve real business problems.

About Keysight Technologies

Keysight Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: KEYS) is a leading technology company that helps enterprises, service providers and governments accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world. Keysight’s solutions optimize networks and bring electronic products to market faster and at a lower cost with offerings from design simulation, to prototype validation, to manufacturing test, to optimization in networks and cloud environments. Customers span the worldwide communications ecosystem, aerospace and defense, automotive, energy, semiconductor and general electronics end markets. Keysight generated revenues of $3.9B in fiscal year 2018.

About Tech Mahindra

Tech Mahindra represents the connected world, offering innovative and customer-centric information technology experiences, enabling Enterprises, Associates and the Society to Rise™. We are a USD 4.9 billion company with 125,700+ professionals across 90 countries, helping 941 global customers including Fortune 500 companies. Our convergent, digital, design experiences, innovation platforms and reusable assets connect across a number of technologies to deliver tangible business value and experiences to our stakeholders. Tech Mahindra is the highest ranked Non-U.S. company in the Forbes Global Digital 100 list (2018) and in the Forbes Fab 50 companies in Asia (2018).

We are part of the USD 21 billion Mahindra Group that employs more than 200,000 people in over 100 countries. The Group operates in the key industries that drive economic growth, enjoying a leadership position in tractors, utility vehicles, after-market, information technology and vacation ownership.

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Ola may have turned profitable, plans to list in India in two years

“Source:- Livemint”
Bengaluru: ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, the operator of ride-hailing service Ola, plans to go public in less than two years after meeting profitability goals required for such a listing in India, two people aware of the discussions said.

Ola is expected to have turned its maiden annual profit in the year ended 31 March, the first step towards the goal of an initial public offering (IPO), as local exchanges require companies to be profitable for at least three years before they go public, the two people said on condition of anonymity. Ola has not filed its financials for FY19 with the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA).

An IPO will help many of the ride-hailing company’s investors, including SoftBank, to exit or partially sell their stakes and return funds to their shareholders.

Ola is eyeing a listing on BSE or NSE, said one of the two people. Ola’s newest investor, Seoul-based ARK Impact Asset Management, recently set up a pre-IPO trust fund, according to ANI Technologies’ filings with the MCA last month.

The trust fund will be co-managed by Ola’s small, medium and individual investors, as well as ARK, according to the second person cited earlier. “Ola has nothing to do with ARK. None of the founders’ stake, etc. is going to go into that (the trust fund). The trust fund is just an investment vehicle set up by ARK,” said the second person.

The impact asset management fund invested around 35.8 crore in ANI Technologies for its ongoing Series J round at a valuation of around $7 billion, show filings.

A valuation report submitted to Ola’s shareholders in February 2017 projected that Ola may report a profit of about 1,170 crore in FY19, with a free cash flow of 698 crore. It reported a 44% rise in revenue to 1,860 crore in the year ended 31 March 2018 from around 1,286 crore in the previous year. Losses for FY18 narrowed to 2,676 crore from 4,816 crore in the previous year.

A spokesperson for Ola did not respond to an email seeking comment on the proposed IPO.

There are frequent differences between foreign investors at the board level, as SoftBank insists that its portfolio companies go public, said the first person.

“Most of the differences on the IPO listing arose between SoftBank, a new incoming Japanese investor, and Mirae Asset Fund, an existing investor… and hence Mirae has got in ARK as a co-investor in the current round… Another investor, Hyundai, also Korea-based, is pushing for an Ola IPO,” said the person.

A company typically sets up a private trust fund to avoid diluting majority control of the main holding company, according to three consultants and valuation experts Mint spoke to. “There are specific categories of investors (in the market), who look at pre-IPO investments only. With pre-IPO trust funds, certain investors look at investing mostly at around late-stage rounds, or to participate as an anchor investor in an upcoming IPO in a company. This gives a benefit of a liquid stock (to the IPO) at a valuation that’s pre-decided,” said Sharad Moudgal, partner at Khaitan and Co.

Ola’s domestic IPO plans come at a time when arch-rival Uber’s (also a SoftBank investee firm) IPO and stock performance on the NYSE has been tepid. Uber, which saw a private valuation of much as $76 billion before its public offering in May, has a market cap of nearly $49 billion now.

The listing plans of Ola contrast with that of other Indian unicorns such as Flipkart and Oyo that are exploring IPOs on the US bourses, as they allow public offerings of loss-making entities too.

To be sure, listing in India is not easy. Ola faces multiple regulatory roadblocks before it can even file a prospectus. Currently, Ola has two available paths to its proposed public listing—through the Securities and Exchange Board of India-regulated Innovator’s Growth Platform (IGP) meant for SMEs and startups, or a direct listing on BSE or NSE. According to the second person, Ola will look at a direct listing, rather than on the IGP platform. This apart, the capital market regulator’s default rules for direct listing state that promoters, including funders, should contribute at least 20% of the total paid-up capital. Ola’s promoters, however, contribute less than 20% of the paid-up capital.

Talks of a public listing come at a time when Ola co-founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati made sweeping changes in the promoter shareholding structure to gain tighter control over ANI Technologies. In April, the co-founders increased their ownership in ANI through a rights issue, according to documents sourced from MCA. In total, the promoters, including founders, directly own 11-12% in ANI, according to Tracxn, a data tracker.

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Eros Now announces collaboration with Microsoft to develop next generation online video platform

“Source:- Microsoft News”
Mumbai: Eros Now, a South Asian entertainment OTT (over-the-top) video platform by Eros International Plc, a Global Indian Entertainment Company, the ultimate one-stop destination for the internet generation to consume captivating content, today announced a collaboration with Microsoft to build a next generation online video platform on Microsoft Azure targeted at its consumers across the globe. This is a unique association for Microsoft in India in the online video space.

Building on its history of innovation, Eros Now will leverage Microsoft Azure for three areas of technology development:

  1. Intuitive Online Video Platform: Using Microsoft Azure and Azure Media Services, Eros will develop a new, intuitive online video platform. The new platform will provide seamless delivery of content for its consumers across geographies and languages, supported by a robust infrastructure including Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN).
  2. Interactive Voice Offerings: Eros will work to create new interactive voice offerings for consumers, powered by Azure AI tools, including OTT app video search experiences and voice search for video content across 10 Indian languages.
  3. Personalized Recommendation Engine: To increase consumer satisfaction and loyalty, Eros will create an engine to deliver personalized content recommendations for consumers by leveraging its own user data, combined with Azure AI, analytics, Cloud Data Warehousing solutions and Azure Media Services

Commenting on the announcement, Rishika Lulla Singh, CEO- Eros Digital, said, “The Online Video market has brought a paradigm shift in the way technology is used and will be used to enhance the customer journey and user experience. We at Eros Now have been the earliest movers in the adoption of technology which is a core strength of the brand. The objective and the goal of this collaboration is to ensure we become the primary innovators for the video business and a gold standard for the others to follow. We have immense respect for Microsoft as a company to help us innovate and pave the path for the next generation of online video.”

Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President, Microsoft, Corp. said, “As an innovator in on-demand video, Eros Now has been transforming the way millions of people access and consume content. By using our combined expertise across technology and media, we have an opportunity to build on that foundation and re-imagine entertainment for the rapidly growing audience of digitally-connected consumers in India.”

“India is one of the fastest-growing digital entertainment and media markets worldwide, driven by the growth in online video content. AI and intelligent cloud tools will be the next drivers of the media business and will impact everything from content creation to consumer experience. We are very excited to work with Eros Now to redefine the online video watching experience for consumers,” said Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India.

Eros’ work with Microsoft will help it transform not only how it delivers streaming services to its consumers but also to reimagine the offerings it can provide. This news today is a step forward in the age of digital transformation to enhance the online video streaming experience and better serve its users globally.

About Eros International Plc

Eros International Plc (NYSE: EROS) a Global Indian Entertainment company that acquires, co-produces and distributes Indian films across all available formats such as cinema, television and digital new media. Eros International Plc became the first Indian media company to list on the New York Stock Exchange. Eros International has experience of over three decades in establishing a global platform for Indian cinema. The Company has an extensive and growing movie library comprising of over 3,000 films, which include Hindi, Tamil, and other regional language films for home entertainment distribution. The Company also owns the rapidly growing OTT platform Eros Now. For further information, please visit: www.erosplc.com.

About Eros Now

Eros Now is Eros International Plc’s On-Demand South Asian Entertainment Video Service accessible worldwide to viewers across internet enabled devices including mobile, web and TV. With 12,000 plus Movie titles, Music Videos, Television Programming and others Eros Now caters to more than 154.7 million registered users and 18.8 million paying subscribers worldwide with the promise of endless entertainment Product features, such as video in HD, multi-language subtitles, movie downloads, and high-quality original drama series differentiate the Eros Now entertainment offering. To see, watch now: www.erosnow.com

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Infosys ranks 3rd in Forbes’ list of ‘The World’s Best Regarded Companies’

“Source:- Business Standard”
Indian companies: Tata Consultancy Services (22nd position) and Tata Motors (31) featured among the top 50 in the coveted list. Other Indian companies in the list include Tata Steel (105), Larsen & Toubro (115), Mahindra & Mahindra (117), HDFC (135), Bajaj Finserv (143), Piramal Enterprises (149), Steel Authority of India (153), HCL Technologies (155), Hindalco Industries (157), Wipro (168), HDFC Bank (204).

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SBI becomes first Indian bank to have office in Australia’s Victoria

“Source:- The Hindu Business line”
State Bank of India opened its Melbourne office on Monday, becoming the first Indian bank to have a branch in the Australian state of Victoria.

The Melbourne office will assist the growing trade and investment relations between Victoria and India and is the outcome of the state’s 10-year India Strategy — our shared future, according to a press release.

Speaking at the inauguration here, Victoria’s parliamentary secretary to the treasurer, Steve Dimopoulos, said, “We are delighted to welcome SBI to Victoria — the first Indian bank to set up operations in our State.”

“This investment by India’s largest commercial bank is a testament to our thriving financial services sector and our highly skilled workforce,” he said.

According to official figures, the two-way merchandise trade between Victoria and India was to the tune of Australian $1.76 billion in 2018.

SBI Managing Director Dinesh Kumar Khara said “It is a great privilege to have our presence in the vibrant and business-friendly city of Melbourne. I am confident that our footprint in Melbourne will further strengthen the relationship between the two countries”

Victoria already has the presence of leading Indian businesses, including Cipla, Cyient, HCL, Infosys, Ramco, Samvardhana Motherson Group, TCS, Tech Mahindra, Ugam Solutions, Wipro, Zoonga and Zomato.

Victoria’s financial sector employs more than 122,000 and generates around A$40 billion every year.

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Samsung ends mobile phone production in China as it expands facility in India

“Source:- Livemint”
Seoul: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has ended mobile telephone production in China, it said on Wednesday, hurt by intensifying competition from domestic rivals in the world’s biggest smartphone market.

The shutdown of Samsung’s last China phone factory comes after it cut production at the plant in Huizhou in June and suspended another factory late last year, underscoring stiff competition in the country.

The South Korean tech giant’s ceased phone production in China follows other manufacturers shifting production from China due to rising labor costs and the economic slowdown.

Sony also said it was closing its Beijing smartphone plant and would only make smartphones in Thailand.

But Apple still makes major products in China.

Samsung’s share of the Chinese market shrank to 1% in the first quarter from around 15% in mid-2013, as it lost out to fast-growing homegrown brands such as Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi Corp, according to market research firm Counterpoint.

“In China, people buy low-priced smartphones from domestic brands and high-end phones from Apple or Huawei. Samsung has little hope there to revive its share,” said Park Sung-soon, an analyst at Cape Investment & Securities.

Samsung, the world’s top smartphone maker, said it had taken the difficult decision in a bid to boost efficiency. It added it would, however, continue sales in China

“The production equipment will be re-allocated to other global manufacturing sites, depending on our global production strategy based on market needs,” it said in a statement, without elaborating.

Samsung declined to specify the Huizhou plant’s capacity or its numbers of staff. The factory was built in 1992, according to the company.

South Korean media said it employed 6,000 workers and produced 63 million units in 2017.

That year, Samsung manufactured 394 million handsets around the world, according to its annual report.

The company has expanded smartphone production in lower-cost countries, such as India and Vietnam, in recent years.

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At 17.5 million, Indian diaspora remains largest in world

“Source:- Times Of India”
NEW DELHI: At 17.5 million, India’s diaspora continues to be the largest in the world – constituting 6.4% of the total world migrant population of 272 million in mid-2019.

While India’s diaspora in absolute numbers has increased 10% from 15.9 million in 2015, as a share of total world migrant population, it’s remained static, according to the UN’s International Migrant Stock released on Wednesday. And it trails the 12% rise in total migrant population, which was 243 million in 2015.

UAE, US and Saudi Arabia – with 3.4 million, 2.6 million and 2.4 million respectively – were the top three destinations for Indians, according to TOI’s analysis of the data. While the Gulf countries continue to have a high concentration of Indians, they’ve lost some of their drawing power, going by foreign ministry figures.

Another report – also released on Wednesday – by OECD, shows Indians moving up one position to No. 3 in 2017 with an inflow of 3.04 lakh – behind China and Romania.

The number of Indians who got US citizenship in 2017 rose 10% to more than 50,000 over the previous year.

UN figures pegging international migrants worldwide at 272 million reflects a rise of 23% over 2010 data, where the migrant population was 221 million. UN’s data set is based largely on collated census figures. UN defines international migrants as anyone who changes their country of usual residence, irrespective of their motive – be it for work or as a refugee.

“Although migration is global, most journeys are taking place within a limited set of countries, with the US, Germany, and Saudi Arabia making up the top three,” said a UN press release. The US hosted the largest number of international migrants (close to 51 million), followed by Germany and Saudi Arabia, with nearly 13 million migrants each.

The UN’s press release quoted John Wilmoth, director, UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) saying: “The link between migration and development is very well established.” “As a general observation, the contribution of migrants both in host countries and countries of origin, includes sending valuable remittances back to countries of origin, and a major social contribution through transmission of ideas,” he said.

Another report, released on Wednesday in Paris , by the Organisation for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD), shows that migration flows to OECD countries rose slightly by 2% in 2018, with around 5.3 million new ‘permanent’ migrants–this does not include temporary labour migration or international students.

Country-wise data for the year 2017 shows that ‘total’ inflow of new migrants to OECD countries in 2017 was 6.8 million, a miniscule decline of 1% over the previous year’s figure. The top three countries of origin of new immigrants were China, Romania and India.

With 3.04 lakh new immigrants from India, the country occupied third place and accounted for 4.5% of total inflows (as opposed to 3.8% in the previous year). In 2016, owing to a heavy influx of migrants from Syria, India had occupied fourth position. China continued to retain its leadership position, accounting for 8.1% of total OECD inflows in 2017.

Countries continue to adjust the criteria on which their labour migration programs are based to ensure better selection and meeting of their skill gaps. Canada’s Express Entry route for skilled labour was modified in late 2017. Australia significantly reformed both its temporary and permanent employer sponsored migration programs for skilled labour in 2018, illustrates OECD’s report.

The majority of developed and high-income countries (36 in all) are OECD members. These include European countries, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Gulf countries, which are an important destination for Indian immigrants, do not belong to the OECD group.

In 2017, around 18.5 lakh foreign residents in OECD countries acquired the nationality of their host country. This is a sharp drop of 11% compared with 2016 when almost 21 lakh people obtained such citizenship. India’s ranking dipped to second in this category, with 1.21 lakh obtaining citizenship of an OECD member country during 2017 as opposed to 1.3 lakh in the previous year. Mexico stole a march over India and became the main country of origin of new citizens of OECD countries in 2017 with 1.22 lakh citizenships being acquired – the majority being in US.

As regards the Indian diaspora, more than 50,000 acquired US citizenship (a 10% rise over the previous year). Also, 10,000 Indians acquired Canadian citizenship and 17,000 obtained British citizenship. These statistics showed a decline of 40% and 33% respectively.

 

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Infosys opens 6th innovation centre in US, to hire 1000 workers by 2023

“Source:- IBEF”
Infosys has opened a technology and innovation centre in Arizona, making it the sixth such centre in the United States (US). The new centre will focus on autonomous technologies, Internet of Things (IoT), full-stack engineering, data science and cyber security.

“We plan to hire 1,000 American workers in the state by 2023. As announced earlier, we have already surpassed the target of hiring 10,000 American workers as part of our ongoing efforts to accelerate the pace of innovation for American enterprises,” Infosys said in a statement.

In May 2017, Infosys had announced it would hire 10,000 locals as part of its localisation efforts apart from setting up technology and innovation centers in this key client geography. The second largest IT services firm has already opened innovation centres in Indianapolis (Indiana), Raleigh (North Carolina), Hartford (Connecticut) and Providence among others.

“The inauguration of our Arizona Center is an important milestone in our efforts to help American enterprises accelerate their digital transformations,” said Salil Parekh, Chief Executive Officer at Infosys. “We are excited to have completed our commitment to hire 10,000 American workers and we look forward to leveraging and empowering this specialized workforce to bridge the technology skills gap in the market and accelerate the digital agenda of our clients.”

The IT firm also said hiring for around 500 staffers was underway at the new Arizona centre. On Saturday, it also announced its partnership with ‘InStride’ as part of its efforts to develop workforce in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skill sets.

With increasing restriction on visa regulations, Indian IT services firms have been building up an employee pyramid in the US in recent years. As part of this localisation efforts, while most companies are building up new delivery centres, these firms are also collaborating with American universities to train fresh graduates with necessary IT skills.

For Infosys, US contributes more than 60 per cent of revenues. The company is ramping up its localisation efforts to reduce its dependence on subcontractors. In the last quarter, subcontracting cost for the IT firm stood at 7.5 per cent of the company’s total delivery cost.

As part of its localisation drive, the company plans to continue hiring locals in the coming quarters.

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Oyo  to  raise  $200  mn for luxury push in US

“Source:- Livemint”
Bengaluru: Oyo Hotels and Homes, the operator of India’s largest network of hotels, is in talks with financial institutions to borrow $200 million to buy premium and luxury hotels in the US, two people familiar with the matter said.

The company, which bought Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas last month, has identified the premium hotels segment as its area of focus outside India, the people said on condition of anonymity.

Oyo’s overseas push into the premium and luxury segment is a departure from its strategy in India, where 25-year-old founder Ritesh Agarwal has signed up thousands of small hotels onto his online platform and helped them upgrade and standardize their rooms to cater to budget travellers.

Agarwal is now spending a major part of his time in the US to expand Oyo’s presence in the world’s largest economy.

“Oyo is going to create a separate entity in the US to help it acquire and run four and five star hotel assets in America,” said one of the two people. “It is in talks with several financial institutions to raise debt to fund these transactions.”

Oyo is likely to own a minority stake in the US entity being created for owning the hotel assets, the person said.

Earlier this month, Oyo purchased a 64-suite building in Ahmedabad for an undisclosed amount. Oyo partnered Gurugram-based Mountania Developers for the transaction as well as to redesign the building into a premium four star hotel by the end of this year.

 

This marked Oyo’s debut into the business travellers’ segment in India.

In its first property purchase in the US, Oyo bought the Hooters hotel in August. In the transaction, Oyo and Highgate, a US real estate investment and hospitality management company, were said to have infused $135 million to develop the asset, a person aware of the development told Mint at that time.

“We are excited with our rapid growth and early success in the US, our newest home market, where our partnership with Highgate to open the doors to our first flagship hotel in Las Vegas, Oyo Hotels and Casino, has been a key milestone,” said an Oyo spokesperson, without commenting on the debt raising process. “We have already hit the 100 hotels mark in a short span. We continue to explore ways to create value for our asset owners, while enabling all our guests to experience #LivingTheGoodLife at an Oyo near them.”

Oyo’s strategy to raise debt to buy hotels is not unique to the US. It has followed a similar strategy in India and Europe. “They have raised a couple of property funds where SoftBank has put in money as well to buy hospitality and other assets here in India and other countries,” said a person familiar with the firm’s strategy, requesting anonymity. “The idea is that they are going to be tenants of these properties, so they want to create real estate investment trust (REIT)-like returns via ownership.”

Oyo has been on a buying spree in the hotels asset space. In May, it agreed to acquire Amsterdam-based @Leisure Group from Axel Springer, a media and technology firm, for an undisclosed amount. @Leisure is a vacation rental company based in Europe, which manages holiday homes and holiday parks, as well as holiday apartments.

Oyo has raised nearly $1.7 billion in funding over 12 rounds. In March, Mint reported that Oyo was tapping the venture debt route to buy properties in India to expand its Townhouse offerings.

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Honda Cars ties up with Orix to launch car leasing service in India

“Source:- IBEF”
Honda Cars India on Tuesday said it has launched car leasing services in association with transportation solutions provider Orix.

As a part of this association, self-employed professionals and salaried individuals can now avail leasing options for Honda CR-V, Civic and City for both corporate as well as individual customers, Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) said in a statement.

Car leasing is gaining popularity in India as it “offers convenience and access to latest vehicles and enables customers to enjoy the perks of using car without having to purchase it,” HCIL Senior VP and Director, Sales and Marketing Rajesh Goel said.

In addition to corporate customers, the programme has been rolled out for individual customers as well, he added.

“Honda Cars India has been an aspirational brand in the country. We believe this partnership will fulfil many young dreams by enabling them to experience HCIL’s premium products through our innovative and curated lease options,” Orix India MD and CEO Sandeep Gambhir said.

The lease plan will have offerings like comprehensive insurance plans, maintenance packages, tax management and curated rentals as per requirement, he added.

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With more than 7,000 start-ups, Delhi-NCR emerges as India’s unicorn hub

“Source:- IBEF”
TiE Delhi-NCR and consulting firm Zinnov on Tuesday released a report, ‘Turbocharging Delhi-NCR Start-up Ecosystem’.

Rajan Anandan, president of TiE Delhi-NCR, said, “NCR’s start-up ecosystem has incredible momentum. Despite the progress so far, we believe we are still in Day One.
With concerted focus on the most important areas, the NCR has the potential to become a Top 5 Global hubs for start-ups, lead innovation across many sectors, create many more start-ups and have at least 30 unicorns in NCR by 2025.”
Key Highlights:
• Delhi-NCR has over 7,000 start-ups, 10 Unicorns and a cumulative valuation of US$50 billion
• With appropriate interventions, Delhi-NCR will become one of the Top 5 Global Start-up hubs with 12,000 start-ups, 30 unicorns and cumulative valuation of about US$150 billion by 2025
• Delhi-NCR has the highest number of active start-ups in India
• Delhi-NCR ecosystem has the highest cumulative private market valuation in India, at $46-56 bn. Bengaluru has US$ 32-37 bn, Mumbai has US$ 10-12 bn
• Three of the four most valuable Internet companies also based here – Info Edge (Naukri.com), Makemytrip, Justdial
• Delhi-NCR has 22 per cent of the country’s active angel investors, but base needs to increase.
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Union HRD Minister launches several initiatives of MIC and AICTE to boost research and innovation in the country

“Source:- IBEF”
Union Human Resource Development Minister, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ attended the First Annual Innovation Festival of the MHRD’s Innovation Cell (MIC). MIC organized the first Annual Innovation Festival in coordination with AICTE here today. During this festival, Innovation cell showcased more than 70 top students’ innovations from across India. Minister of State for HRD, Shri Sanjay Dhotre was also present on the occasion.

Union Minister also launched the Smart India Hackathon 2020, Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020, and Institution’s Innovation Council 2.0. The event also witnessed the release of the Start-Up Policy Document and SIH Report, launch of Technical Teacher’s Training Module, ATAL Academies, Protsahan Mudra Scheme, Vishwakarma Award and the Vice Chancellor’s Meet on the Student Induction Programme, which has bridged the gap between students and teachers through creatively designed programs that have unveiled the best potential of a student outside of the book curriculum.

Speaking on the occasion Shri Pokhriyal said that the MHRD, last year initiated the separate Innovation cell with support from AICTE to foster the culture of innovation in all educational institutions of India.  He said that as India aspires to be 5 trillion-dollar economy by 2024, India needs to emerge as global innovation,
entrepreneurship and start-up hub. He added that considering India’s current demography, youngsters need to be in the forefront of this innovative movement and Indian higher education institutes need to play a key role and emerge as centers of excellence producing global quality research and innovation.

Shri Pokhriyal further said that MHRD’s Innovation Cell with the support of AICTE has undertaken multiple initiatives to ensure that innovation becomes the primary fulcrum of our technical education. He added that All India Council for Technical Education, in its endeavor to bring quality revolution in the standard of technical education of India has undertaken a plethora of activities which includes various schemes, policies, programs and regulations that have evolved to shape the educational domain of India as the ultimate in every sphere and has come forward as emerging giants of global technological warriors.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Dhotre said that in-line with vision of our Prime Minister, AICTE and MIC are promoting start-ups and innovation culture which will eventually result in society of job creators instead of job seekers. He expressed his happiness that AICTE and MHRD innovation Cell have taken up several path braking initiatives to bring the desired tectonic shift in quality of education and many new initiatives are being launched by AICTE and MIC in a single day.

He informed that MHRD has also come up with National Start-up policy framework for students and faculty members who are keen to become entrepreneurs. He appealed to MIC and AICTE to work actively with education departments of all state governments to ensure that this Start-up policy is implemented in all major educational institutions and a regular feedback mechanism should be established to understand emerging challenges and steps should be taken to ensure that a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem is developed in educational institutions.

Shri Dhotre interacted with the participating student-innovators and keenly enquired about their respective innovations, which were related to agriculture, environment, animal husbandry, healthcare etc. He said that each of these innovations has potential to make remarkable and wide- ranging impact on the society.

Shri R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Department of Higher Education, MHRD and Shri Madhu Rajan Kumar, Joint Secretary, MHRD,Shri Anil Sahsrabuddhe, Chairman, AICTE, Professor D.P Singh, Chairman UGC, Dr Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) addressed the gathering with their valuable inputs on enhancing the quality of education in India. The event saw the participation of the Vice Chancellors of Central, State and Private Universities, Directors and Faculty of Institutions and research organizations.

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Indian Railways suspends busy season surcharge from this year. Waives off 15% peak season surcharge.

“Source:- Rail News”
NEW DELHI: Citing economic slump and to give a boost to the economy, Railways on Thursday decided to suspend the busy season surcharge for all freight traffic and said during the last five months it did more business as compared to the last year, but the growth is not what it expected. Member Traffic (Railways) P S Mishra told a press conference at the Railway Bhavan that the levy of Busy Season Charge, which is levied at the rate of 15 per cent from October 1- June 30, has been deferred till further advise (except for iron ore and POL). Coal and coke and container traffic are already exempt. Railways also plans to increase the flow of rakes for auto companies to increase freight traffic contribution from the sector. Details of these measures announced by Member (Traffic) are as under:

Freight rate related measures:

Levy of Busy Season Charge Deferred:

  • BSC, which is levied @ 15% from 1 Oct-30 June, has been deferred till further advice (Except for iron ore and POL).
  • Coal & coke and container traffic are already exempt.

Waiver of Supplementary charges on Mini and Two point rakes:

  • The 5% Supplementary charges applicable on Loading on Mini and Two point rakes is being waived off.
  • This is likely to boost loading of Smaller cargo sizes and help cement, steel, food grains and fertilizers loading.

Round-trip charging on container traffic:

  • As per haulage charge rating of container traffic, 0-50 km is the minimum distance slab for charging.
  • It is seen that container traffic in this ultra short lead (0-50 km) is very low at present.
  • Therefore, round-trip charging of container trip has been introduced for a distance of less than 50 km on each way.
  • Under this scheme, haulage charge for 0-100 km slab will be charged for total to and fro movement, instead of charging for 0-50 km slab each way.
  • Impact- this comes out to be about  35% cheaper per TEU for the complete round-trip
  • It is expected to especially give a fillip to EXIM traffic between ports and Inland Container Depots.

Discount on movement of empty containers and empty flat wagons

  • A discount of 25% discount in haulage charge of containers has been given to encourage movement of empty/flat to ports; thereby increasing loaded container traffic in return
  • It is expected to enhance price-competitiveness of Railway vis-a-vis other modes of transport and expand freight basket by capturing new traffic.

Large-scale de-notification of commodities for container traffic

  • As per container haulage charging policy, notified commodities are charged at Container Class Rates (CCR), which is 15% lower than General Tariff Rates (GTR). Rest of the commodities are charged at Freight All Kind (FAK) rates, which are even lower than CCR.
  • Recently, 90 more commodities have been de-notified, which brought down their haulage charge from CCR to FAK rates.
  • Now, out of total 635 commodities in Goods Tariff, only 38 commodities are under notified/CCR rates (11 of these are POL commodities).

Auto sector’s demand

Mr. Mishra added that the Railways would be increasing the number of rakes for transportation of automobiles from eight to 26, and gradually to 50 rakes by the end of this financial year. “This is being done on the request of the auto sector. We have very limited presence in auto which we are trying to increase,” he said.

He added that at the industry’s request, Indian Railways was also working on a special wagon design for transportation of four wheelers as well as two wheelers as more traffic was expected from the sector despite the slump there. Mr. Mishra expects to increase the present share of 2% in loading auto freight, to around 8-10% by the end of this fiscal.

Freight Marketing initiatives:

  • Induction of more New Modified Goods  car rakes and introduction of new design of Bi level auto car wagons (BCACBM wagons).
  • Rationalization of Road Railer with 4 new weight slabs instead of earlier 3 weight slabs. More competitive rates.
  • Weight and weighment conditions relaxed in perishable traffic  when loaded in goods wagons

Measures to enhance ease of business and digitisation

  1. Pan-India Implementation of eT-RR
  • Facility of Electronic Transmission of Railway Receipts (eT-RR) has been successfully implemented across the country wef 01.08.2019
  • eT-RR is user-friendly and paperless transaction system where Railway Receipt is generated and transmitted electronically to customer through Freight Operation Information System (FOIS). Delivery of goods is given through e-surrender of eT-RR. That is, customer is saved the hassle of carrying physical Railway Receipt from originating to destination station
  • This facility is expected to bring down the transaction costs of rail customers, and also pave the way for greater digitisation.
  1. Weighment-related reforms
  • Pre-weigh bin system for weighment of goods traffic has been permitted in private sidings. This is expected to bring down the time for Weighment and loading, and also bring in higher accuracy in Weighment. It shall go a long way in redressing the issues related to Weighment.
  • As per earlier policy, if a second Weighment of wagons was done, the higher of the two reading was considered final for charging or levy of penalty.  Now, the policy has been modified to state that second weighment will be considered final for charging. This policy change makes the provision of second weighment meaningful and is expected to redress customers’ grievance in accuracy of Weighment.
  • Low density commodities like Pet Coke, Met Coke, Chuni and De-oiled cake have also been exempted from mandatory weighment. This is likely to save transit time and increase fluidity, which translate in to cost saving for customers also.
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We are one of the largest exporters of Pharmaceuticals.

“Source:- International News And Views”
New Delhi,

The Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers Shri Sadananda Gowda inaugurated the Annual Health Conference “Pharma Med HD 2019 Transforming the perception of Indian Health Care Industry” in New Delhi today.

Congratulate PHD Chamber for gathering all the stakeholders of the Healthcare Industry on one platform through such conference, said that the sector is expected to generate 40 million jobs in India by 2020.

The health care industry in India has been one of the country’s largest economic sectors, with regard to both employment and revenue.

Indian healthcare sector, is expected to record a threefold rise, at a CAGR of 22 per cent during 2016-2022 to reach US$ 372 billion in 2022 from US$ 110 billion in 2016, the Minister said.

India ranks 145th among 195 countries in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare. There is immense scope for enhancing healthcare services penetration in India, thus presenting ample opportunity for development of the healthcare industry.

Indian healthcare industry is one of the most knowledgeable and professional industry in the world.

The Minister said that this has been amply proved by the following facts:

We are one of the largest exporters of Pharmaceuticals.

The Indian healthcare Delivery as in the hospitals are one of the most efficient and cost-effective healthcare delivery systems due to our expert doctors and specialists and well-equipped diagnostics and nursing services.

Though we are dependent on imports in medical devices but Indian Medical Device manufacturers have now taken a lead and are producing high quality devices.

India is the only country with largest number of US-FDA compliant Pharma plants (more than 262 including APIs) outside of USA. We have nearly 1400 WHO-GMP approved Pharma Plants, 253 European Directorate of Quality Medicines (EDQM) approved plants with modern state of the art Technology. No other country can boast of such an infrastructure.

Indian pharmaceutical industry supplies over 50 per cent of global demand for various vaccines, 40 per cent of generic demand in the US and 25 per cent of all medicine in UK.

India accounts for 20 per cent of global exports in generics. India’s pharmaceutical exports stood at US$ 17.27 billion in 2017-18 and are expected to reach US$ 20 billion by 2020. In 2018-19 these exports are expected to cross US$ 19 billion.

Indian pharmaceutical sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15 per cent in the near future and medical device market expected to grow $50 billion by 2025. India is the second largest contributor of global biotech and pharmaceutical workforce. The pharmaceutical sector was valued at US$ 33 billion in 2017.

Indian pharmaceutical companies received record 300 generic drug approvals in USA during 2017 where the generic market is expected to reach US$ 88 billion by 2021.

By 2024-25, India’s biotech industry is estimated to increase to US$ 100 billion.

As per industry estimates, the Indian medical devices market will grow to USD 50 billion by 2025. Currently, India is counted among the top 20 global medical devices market and is the 4th largest medical devices market in Asia after Japan, China and South Korea.

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ISRO and DRDO ink MoUs to provide technologies for human centric systems for Human Space Mission

“Source- IBEF”
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has joined hands with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for development of human centric systems for the Human Space Mission to demonstrate its human space flight capabilities. A delegation of ISRO scientists, led by Director, Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair, signed a set of MoUs with various DRDO labs here today to provide technologies for human centric systems and technologies specific to the Human Space Mission.

The MoUs were signed by Directors of Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment (ADRDE), Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), Defence Bio-Engineering & Electro Medical Laboratory (DEBEL), Defence Laboratory (DL) Jodhpur, Centre for Fire, Explosive & Environment Safety (CFEES), Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS) and Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS) in the presence of Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO, Dr G Satheesh Reddy and Scientist & Director General (Life Sciences), Dr A K Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO, Dr G Satheesh Reddy said the technological capabilities existing in DRDO laboratories for defence applications will be customised to meet the requirements of the human space mission of ISRO. Some of the critical technologies to be provided by DRDO to ISRO include space food, space crew health monitoring and emergency survival kit, radiation measurement and protection, parachutes for safe recovery of crew module and others.

DG (Life Sciences), Dr A K Singh said DRDO is committed to provide all necessary support to ISRO for the human space flight and customisation of the required technologies has already been initiated to meet the stringent timelines. ISRO aims to demonstrate human spaceflight capability before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 2022.

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CBSE And Microsoft join hands to build up capacity for AI Learning for Schools

“Source:- Microsft”
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has announced that it will conduct Capacity Building Programs for high school teachers in association with Microsoft India with an aim to integrate cloud-powered technology in K12 teaching. Meant for teachers of grades 8-10, the program will be conducted in 10 cities across the country, starting September 11, 2019.

AI and intelligent technologies are becoming all-pervasive today, transforming organizations across sectors and redefining the way we work. To equip the workforce of tomorrow, it is critical to the ramp up the institutional set-up and build capability among educators as well as integrate advanced technologies into the teaching process.

This program will provide teachers better access to the latest Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and help them to integrate technology into teaching in a safe and secure manner, thereby enhancing the learning experience and 21st century skills of all students. The 1000 teachers nominated by CBSE will undergo a 3-day project-based training for practical, hands-on knowledge of Microsoft 365 tools such as OneNote, Flipgrid, Teams, Outlook & Minecraft and Paint3D Microsoft.

They will also learn about digital story telling; creation of personalized learning experiences for diverse learners; use of Teams for virtual lessons and how to leverage Artificial intelligence tools to create BOTS and demystify concepts around Artificial Intelligence. The program will also offer them the opportunity to become Microsoft Innovative Educators. With this they will have access to free resources, tools and software; as well as mentoring sessions and discussions with global educators. Please read more about it here.

In the next phase the program will be extended to cover skilling workshops for 400 CBSE School on the Microsoft K-12 Education Transformation Framework. Please read more about it here.

Manish Prakash, General Manager, Microsoft India said, “AI has become a strategic lever for economic growth across nations around the world. Through this initiative, we are empowering institutions, educators and students of India to acquire early education/skills in new technologies like AI and cloud to lead that growth in that rapidly changing world. We are excited at the opportunity to partner with CBSE, as our very first endeavour in any country, to transform the education eco-system with the power of AI and cloud.”

Microsoft works closely with schools throughout the entire transformation journey – from research and planning to creating tailored solutions and implementing the technology. Read more about how Microsoft has helped education institutions around the world achieve transformation with its ecosystem of tools, services, and partners here.

About Microsoft India

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft set up its India operations in 1990. Today, Microsoft entities in India have over 10,000 employees, engaged in sales and marketing, research, development and customer services and support, across 11 Indian cities – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. Microsoft offers its global cloud services from local data centers to accelerate digital transformation across Indian start-ups, businesses, and government organizations.

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Tata Group to invest over ₹500 cr to establish two Indian Institutes of Skill

“Source:- Livemint”
New Delhi: The Tata Group will invest over 500 crore to establish two Indian Institutes of Skills (IISs) – one in Mumbai and another in Ahmedabad in collaboration with the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship, the union government said Wednesday.

Inspired by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) model of education, the IIS will be developed on a public-private-partnership (PPP) mode with land coming from government and capital from the Tata Group.

While the IIS Mumbai foundation was laid Wednesday by skills minister M.N. Pandey in the presence of Tata Group Chairman N. Chandrasekaran, a formal announcement related to the Ahmedabad IIS will be made over the next couple of weeks.

“Tata Group will build two IISs and their selection was done after a competitive bidding. They are expected to invest over 500 crore including Rs. 300 crore for the Mumbai institute,” skills secretary K.P. Krishnan said.

The IIS will be modelled after IITs and IIMs and expected to emerge as the tertiary level institute in the skills eco system and cater to the demand of industry 4.O. and offer courses in areas like deep technology, aerospace, etc.

“This is a privilege for us to be a part of something that was initiated and conceptualized by Honourable Prime Minister,” N Chandrasekaran said Wednesday, adding that both the Tata Group and the government was working closely for the last three months on the issue.

“We are aware that jobs are important for the economic growth and it has been noticed that approximately 1 million people join the workforce every year. In such a scenario, skilling is the appropriate solution to help the youth in getting productively employed. There has been a mismatch between the skills that are imparted and the jobs that are available. We need to ensure that there are skills imparted to make the youth ready for 21st century jobs,” Tata Group Chairman said.

“At IIS, we look at providing a curriculum that would help to impart traditional skills along with soft skills. I am optimistic to have worldclass partners who would help us in making our mission through IIS stronger,” he said during his address in Mumbai event.

“The concept of Indian Institute of Skills (IIS) was envisaged by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji himself when he had visited the Vocational Education and Training Center in Singapore… (IIS) will be on the lines of the IITs and the IIMs that we have in our country. It will aspire to earn a similar reputation, stature and world-class infrastructure to cater to the demands of the international market and modern requirements,” skills minister Pandey said.

The skills ministry feels that IIS will be tertiary care institute in the skills eco system and offer best of the industry required courses in emerging and high demand areas including deep technology, aerospace among others. The concept of the IIS is “on the lines of that of the IITs and IIMs in India”.

Government would provide access to its land through a 25 year long licence. Once the institutes are operational, government expects at least 5000 students to pass out of each of these institutes from the fifth years of operation with a placement record of at least 70%.

India will build 3 IIS one fully funded by the government and two in PPP model with Tata Group as it’s partner. The development also marks a shift in skill missions approach from an earlier asset light model to asset creation model with help from corporates.

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India announces contribution of US$ 22 million to GFTAM for 6th replenishment cycle

“Source:- IBEF”
“Under the visionary and dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi ji, India has announced a contribution of US$ 22 million to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFTAM) for the 6th replenishment cycle (2020-22), an increase of 10 per cent over the amount contributed by us in the 5th cycle.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare stated that “India stands firm to its long-standing partnership with the Global Fund and its commitment to eliminate AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria”. India’s pledge for the Global Fund strongly demonstrates its strong political leadership to achieve the universal health for all and its equally strong commitment to work across borders to join hands in fighting the epidemics of these three diseases”.

Dr Harsh Vardhan highlighted that India was the first implementing country to host a replenishment milestone of the Global Fund and now has become first among G20, BRICS and implementer countries to announce the pledge for the 6th Replenishment Conference, setting precedent for other donors to contribute generously for the cause.  He said that we are adequately financing our efforts to accomplish our goals of TB, HIV and Malaria elimination and with our increased pledge, India has inched a step closer in this direction by stepping up the Global Fund efforts to strengthen health systems and save 16 million more lives across the globe.

Partnership between India and Global Fund
India shares a sustained partnership with the Global Fund since 2002 both as recipient and as a donor. Global Fund support with investment of US$ 2.0 billion so far has made significant contribution in attaining targets related to HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria reduction and escalating our fight against these three diseases. In the current funding cycle (2018-21), the Global Fund has allocated US$ 500 million to India. As a donor, India has contributed US$ 46.5 million so far till 2019 including US$ 20 million for the 5th Replenishment.

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Centre to invest ₹25,000 cr in fisheries in 3-5 years

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
As part of the ambitious Blue Revolution project, the Union government has lined up 25,000 crore to invest in different segments of the fisheries sector in the next three to five years.

“We are looking at three types of support by way of infrastructure development in harbours; extending subsidies to joint venture projects to set up hatcheries/nurseries/quarantine facilities as well as viability gap funding to establish processing plants, and cold chain facilities at harvest or landing sites, said Rajni Sikhri Sibal, Secretary, Department of Fisheries.

The amount will be disbursed through different schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Sampada Yojana and World Bank schemes. The government has already started a fishery infrastructure development fund with 7,300 crore, which is an interest subvention scheme, she said.

As inland fisheries contribute only 50 per cent of the total fish production, the government intends to augment its potential by covering reservoirs, wetlands, rivers and streams in different parts of the country. “We are planning to promote cold water fisheries in the entire Himalayan region to rear high-value fish varieties. We will soon sign an MoU with Iceland and Denmark to breed trout fish, a high-value variety. We have already signed an MoU with Norway in this regard,” she said. Considering the low contribution of inland water fisheries, the government is looking to double its production to six million tonnes from the current three million tonnes in the next three to four years. To achieve the target, she said, quality seeds and feeds, aquatic animal health laboratories, and quarantine facilities are required.

The Fisheries Secretary was interacting with BusinessLine on the sidelines of Aqua Aquaria India 2019 organised by Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) in Hyderabad.

Since maintaining the quality of Indian seafood is a major issue, she said the focus would be on ensuring quality, disease control and traceability of marine food products from “farm to fork” or from “catch to consumer.” The government will soon come up with a set of protocols for preparation of feed and certification of seed, she said, adding that all these efforts would help double Indian seafood exports from over 47,000 crore in five years.

The proposed Marine Fisheries Regulation and Management Bill will regulate EEZ of the country and ensure that “our waters are utilised by our own fishermen,” the Secretary said in reply to a query on the reported intrusion of foreign fishing trawlers on the Indian EEZ.

On the juvenile fish catch, she said there is a clear definition in the Bill pertaining to the size of fish to be caught. The Bill, which is in the public domain now, will be introduced in Parliament by the end of this year.

There are also proposals to issue unique license numbers and insurance for fishing trawlers and crew by levying a small fee. The money collected would be used for the safety measures of the fishing community, she added.

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FDI grows 28 per cent to US$ 16.33 bn in Q1 FY20; Singapore largest source: Govt data

“Source:- IBEF”
Foreign direct investment (FDI) into India grew by 28 per cent to US$ 16.33 billion during the first quarter of the current fiscal, according to government data.

Inflow of foreign direct investment during April-June of 2018-19 stood at 12.75 billion.

Sectors which attracted maximum foreign inflows during April-June 2019-20 include services (US$2.8 billion), computer software and hardware (US$2.24 billion), telecommunications (US$4.22 billion), and trading (US$1.13 billion), the commerce and industry ministry data showed.

Singapore emerged as the largest source of FDI in India during the first quarter of the fiscal with US$5.33 billion investments. It was followed by Mauritius (US$4.67 billion), the US (US$1.45 billion), the Netherlands (US$1.35 billion), and Japan (US$472 million).

FDI is important as the country requires major investments to overhaul its infrastructure sector to boost growth.

Recently, the government relaxed foreign investment norms in sectors such as single-brand retail trading, coal mining and contract manufacturing.

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Russia plans to set up above 20 nuclear power units in India in next 20 years

“Source: – Livemint
VLADIVOSTOK: Russia on Wednesday said that it is planning to set up more than 20 nuclear power units in India in the next 20 years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok earlier today, gave a joint statement at the 20th Annual Summit between the two countries, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin by side.

The two sides exchanged numerous agreements, including military and technical cooperation, energy and science, LNG Business and LNG supplies, and natural gas, in the presence of the two leaders.

“I’m honoured to be the first-ever Indian Prime Minister to be coming to Vladivostok. I thank my friend, President Putin for inviting me here. I remember Annual Summit of 2001, first one held in Russia when he was President and I had come with former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s delegation as Gujarat Chief Minister,” the Prime Minister said in the joint statement.

The leaders, on the occasion, noted that the friendship between India and Russia is not restricted to their respective capital cities. “We have put people at the core of this relationship,” the Prime Minister added.

Meanwhile, Putin, on his part, said that both countries share similar perspectives on certain aspects of international issues. The President also recalled that he met Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit recently held in Osaka, Japan, and the Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO) in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.

“Russia and India today signed MoUs in various sectors, including civil nuclear and LNG. Regarding the Kundakulam nuclear power plant, the first and second units are working. The third and fourth are under construction. In addition, we have also decided to set up more than 20 Russian-designed nuclear units in India in the next 20 years,” Putin said.

“I am also looking forward to meeting the Indian Prime Minister at the 11th BRICS Summit that is scheduled to be held in Brasilia, Brazil,” he added.

Meanwhile, a proposal was also made between India and Russia to have a full-fledged maritime route that serves as a link between Chennai and Vladivostok.

“We (India and Russia) both are against outside influence in the internal matters of any nation,” Modi stressed in an apparent reference to Pakistan’s diabolic attempts of internationalizing the Kashmir issue.

The Prime Minister further said that Moscow’s decision to confer him with the highest civilian award of the country– the Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First– is a matter of honour for him as well as the people of India.

Upon his arrival, Modi received a Guard of Honour at the Vladivostok International Airport.

Following, he met the Russian President and paid a visit to the ‘Zvezda’ Shipbuilding Complex and spent “quality time” together onboard a ship as part of a special gesture to further cement cooperation with “a valued friend”, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Modi along with Putin will be addressing the 5th Eastern Economic Forum, wherein the former would be batting for more investment and business ventures.

In his departure statement ahead of his visit to Russia, Modi had said that strong bilateral partnership is complemented by a desire to promote a multi-polar world.

 

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Heartland International Film Festival, USA to explore “Special Focus on India”

“Source:- IBEF”
The Indian Delegation met prominent representatives from the International Film Fraternity on the third day of Toronto International Film Festival 2019. The discussions were wide ranging which included participation at the Golden Jubilee Edition of IFFI, possibility of taking forward Government thrust of “Ease of filming in India”, recent initiatives to promote film facilitation in the form of single window clearance and the growth potential of different verticals under the M&E Sector of India.

In the discussions, Ms. Hannah Fisher, Programming Head of Heartland International Film Festival of USA, suggested that there could be a special focus on India for the Festival commencing from 10th October 2019 under the ‘Foreign Language Category. Ms. Fisher said that this would help in enhancing the positioning of Golden Jubilee Edition of IFFI 2019 among the participants and international audience at the Festival.

The Indian Delegation met CEO / Co-founder of Newport Beach Film Festival -Mr. Gregg Schwenk. The meeting discussed the possibility of enhancing presence of Indian film across North America continent along with exploring business opportunities & collaboration ventures to ensure growth of M&E sector.

The discussion with senior representatives from the Global-gate Entertainment -Mr. William Pfeiffer & Ms. Meg Thompson – focused on the policy framework of films under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India – especially in the context of ease of filming in India. While appreciating the Government of India’s initiatives on ease of shooting, Mr. Pfeiffer suggested if the process of incentivisation could be fast-tracked, it would provide value to the structure & framework, which would help boost filmmaking in India. They also agreed to sensitize participants about IFFI 2019 and suggested to provide names of eminent directors, filmmakers, producers and actors who can be invited to IFFI this year.

Ms. Philippa Mossman, Head of International Screen Attraction, New Zealand Film Commission and representatives from the Israel film fund discussed possibilities of collaborations on convening Festivals; India being the “focus country” in both the festivals and fast-tracking of co-production agreements.  The Indian Delegation also met with Mr. Thomas Rado, President/ CEO, Gibraltar & Palme and Ms. Dilani Rabindran, with whom the prospect of participation in the 50th Edition of IFFI was discussed.

Background

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is participating at the ‘Toronto International Film Festival’ from 5-15 September 2019 in Toronto, Canada. The Indian Delegation includes Shri Chaitanya Prasad, Additional Director General, Directorate of Film Festivals and Ms. Dhanpreet Kaur, Deputy Secretary (Films), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
The market potential for Indian content in Toronto is huge because of the strong presence of the Indian diaspora and great interest in Indian Cinema. India-Canada are in a co-production treaty as well and opportunities to work on co-producing films with Canada will be explored by the Delegation during the Festival.”

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Japan joins a band of Asian countries to tap into Indian tourism market

“Source:- IBEF”
For many Indians, Japan is all about Samurai, Sumo wrestling and Suzuki and their holidays are all about the Alps or London and Paris. That is what the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) hopes to change. With a sharply targeted campaign, including a Facebook contest that busts myths about lack of Indian food in Japan or paucity of destinations, it is going all out to win over the Indian traveller.

Japan joins a band of Asian countries, including Taiwan and Korea among others to tap into the Indian wanderlust. “We are actively promoting the destination as there is a huge potential in the Indian market,” said Yusuke Yamamoto, JNTO’s executive director in India. Last year over 150,000 Indians visited Japan registering a growth of 14.6 per cent over the previous year.

This push comes in the backdrop of Japan’s recent tension with South Korea. Nearly 75 per cent of all its overseas visitors come from East Asian countries. But recent events have impacted the flow. Yamamoto hopes increased air connectivity with India and engagement with local travel partners will help. Japan’s All Nippon Airways is launching a Tokyo-Chennai service in October while Japan Airlines will begin its Tokyo-Bengaluru flight next summer. “Indian tourists like the cherry blossom season but now we are promoting travel in autumn and winter too,” he said.

Tourism authorities of South Korea and Taiwan too stepped up their game. While Korea Tourism Organisation has engaged with bloggers and celebrities to broaden the appeal, Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB) is advertising on Mumbai metro coaches. This is part of a promotional effort that includes tie-ups with media companies and the multiplex chain Inox for a television series in Taiwan. Over the past year TTB has increased its annual marketing budget for India by six fold to US$ 1.2 million.

“Seasoned travellers are looking at unconventional destinations like Japan or Taiwan. We work closely with tourism boards and help drive demand to these destinations,” said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer (B2C), Yatra.com.

A recent Bloomberg report said that South East Asian countries have reported a decline in Chinese tourist arrivals. Though smaller in size, the Indian outbound industry is expected to compensate for some of the loss. Even Vietnam Tourism is looking India-ward. Vietjet has announced direct flights from Delhi to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from December. “India is one of our priority markets,” the airline’s vice president Nguyen Thanh Son said.

Hong Kong, which has in recent weeks witnessed political turmoil has been active too. The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is wooing the corporate traveller. Over 50 hotels are part of its reward programme that includes complimentary meals and experiences such as tai chi lessons and lion dance shows. “Between January and July, we registered a total arrival of 234,368 Indian visitors to Hong Kong which is a growth of 1.7 per cent over the same period last year. During the same period last year we also saw a strong double digit growth in meeting and incentive group travel segment from India,” the HKTB said.

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Fairfax to invest $5 billion more in India in next 5 years

“Source: Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Billionaire investor Prem Watsa  proposes to invest another $5 billion in India  in the next five years, doubling what he’s put in thus far, and says the country offers an “unusual opportunity,” while shrugging off slowdown worries.

Hyderabad-born Watsa, often described as Canada’s Warren Buffett , said his company has invested $5 billion in the country in the past five years. He was in India for less than a day to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi

“I think this is the number one country in the world,” the chairman of the $70-billion Toronto-headquartered Fairfax  Financial Holdings told ET in an interview on Thursday. “India contributes nearly 3% of the world’s GDP but has only a 1% share of global investment money. If this figure were to just double to 2%, that would mean nearly $3 trillion of investments flowing into India.”

Watsa said Fairfax was open to participating in the Indian government’s asset-monetisation and divestment plans. “The government has said they want investment in oil and gas. Canada is a big oil and gas producer,” said the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, alumnus. “So we will look at all of that. If it’s oil and gas, we need someone who has expertise in Canada to come and be partners with. One of the things we want to do is bring good Canadian and American companies and tell them that this is where you should come.”

Watsa said his company would “check” the government’s disinvestment plan for national carrier Air India though he cautioned that Fairfax did not have expertise in the sector. “We have small interest, not significant. We will check it out. We check everything out,” Watsa told ET.

‘India Offers Unusual Opportunity’

The India-born Canadian billionaire was generous in his praise for PM Modi. “This country is so lucky to have a business-friendly man like Modi who is so focused on what’s good for the country,” Watsa said. “Mr Modi has an outstanding 13-year record in Gujarat and a five-year record as Prime Minister. This exceptional experience is highly unusual for a world leader.”

Downplaying worries about slowing growth, Watsa painted a rosy picture of the future of the country, describing its 1.2 billion population as a source of economic prosperity and progress.

“India offers an unusual opportunity,” Watsa said. “I travel all over the place. You know China and the US have some trade questions. Where do people want to put their money if not India? They want to put money in a large market, democracy, in a place that has rule of law.”

A few minor tweaks in government policy and some measures to open up the economy will bring the global investor community to India’s doorstep, he said “I see economic growth coming back to 10%. I cannot say when, but I see it happening,” he said.

Fairfax employs 350,000 people in its companies in India and has investments in sectors such as travel, transportation, warehousing, banking and financial services.

It owns controlling stakes in Bengaluru International Airport, Thomas Cook India, Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB), Quess Corp, National Collateral Management Services, Saurashtra Freight and Privi Organics. It’s the largest shareholder of Nirmal Jain-promoted India Infoline group (IIFL). Fairfax also owns a 43% stake in the Chennai-based Sanmar Chemicals group and has a stake in vessel operator Seven Islands Shipping.

The company will route its investments in India through Canada-listed Fairfax India Holdings and examine investment opportu