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After eight years of intense negotiations, bureaucratic hurdles and a shifting nuclear policy, the Australian government has finally given the green signal to the export of uranium to India "which can begin immediately".

The Australia-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement permits Australian companies to commence commercial uranium exports to India, an important milestone in Australia's relationship with India, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a media release.

While previous Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott was quite gung-ho about the supply of uranium to India, current incumbent Malcolm Turnbull would get the credit for sealing the deal to export uranium to the power-hungry south Asian country.

"The supply of Australian uranium will help India meet its rapidly growing electricity demand and improve the welfare of its people," said Bishop in the media release. "The administrative arrangements have been signed and uranium exports can begin immediately."

Many observers of the bilateral ties would agree with foreign minister's assertion that the export of uranium to India is a milestone in the bilateral relations.

It was Liberal prime minister John Howard who first agreed to sell uranium to India in 2007 in spite of the refusal by New Delhi to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which has been a pre-requisite to receive Australian uranium. It is believed that Australian PM was persuaded by the US to sell uranium to India soon after finalisation of the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement in July that year.

His successor, Kevin Rudd of Labour reinstated the ban on export of uranium to India as it had not signed the NPT, but next Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who deposed Rudd in a bloodless party coup, made a historic shift in her party's policy by agreeing to export uranium to a non-NPT signatory in 2012.

Much more pragmatic than her predecessor, she admitted that a refusal to sell uranium to India had been an "obstacle" to getting a larger slice of the benefits of the booming Indian economy.

Australia is also keen in exporting coal to India to run her conventional power stations. But it was the nod to the uranium deal which was being awaited anxiously by New Delhi watchers in Australia.

Besides India, Australia has also finalized a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the United Arab Emirates.

Source: Times of India


India’s first home-grown conditional access system (CAS) for set-top boxes, that allows television broadcasters to offer programmes on subscription basis has been jointly built by ByDesign, a Bengaluru-based software firm, and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).

The indigenous platform used in cable set-top boxes will bring down the cost of such boxes for manufacturers by as much as Rs 100 for each device. Globally, there are around four to five providers for CAS who charge royalty of $ 2 (Rs 130) per device from manufacturers.

“The normal cost for CAS is about 2-3 dollars per licence. They will make available at half a dollar to domestic manufacturer, so there will be a saving of one and a half to two dollars in the CAS for Indian manufacturers,” said Ajay Kumar, additional secretary at the department of electronics and information technology (DietY).

has mandated to license the technology to Indian manufacturers for a royalty of $0.5 (Rs 33) for a period of three years.

The CAS essentially encrypts information at the broadcasters-end and then decrypts it at the user-end, allowing only users with key to view channels. It allows broadcasters either on cable or direct to home providers to offer specific programmes for a fee.

“One of the conditions is that ByDesign has to integrate with five broadcasters and 2.5 lakh homes commercially. So apart from our testing, there will be a market testing, because broadcasters are not going to integrate if they think there is going to be compromise,” added Kumar.

The government of India, under the ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign, envisions the manufacturing of set-top-boxes in the country to be a $ 10-billion industry by 2020. At present, India imports four of five set-top boxes. Today, the market for set-top boxes in India is worth $ 750 million, with locally manufactured devices contributing between 23-24 per cent of value.

By reducing the cost of CAS, the government hopes Indian manufacturers will be able to  compete better  with importers on price, promoting more to setup local manufacturing units.

“Today, locally we are in a position to only meet 20 per cent of the demand, the rest we’re importing. Developing an indigenous CAS will be a great initiative in terms of filling the gaps in the ecosystem and supply chain. Local production, with the kind of scale the Government is visualising, there will be a significant drop in price (of set-top-boxes),” said MN Vidyashankar, President of the India Electronics and Semiconductor

Source: Business Standard

Plane maker Boeing Co. and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd on Monday formed a joint venture that will manufacture aerostructures for aircraft and collaborate on integrated systems development opportunities in India, seeking to tap a military hardware market estimated to be worth an annual $41 billion in seven years.

The joint venture will initially create a facility to produce aerostructures for the AH-64 Apache helicopter and compete for additional manufacturing work packages across Boeing platforms, both commercial and defence.

The Indian Air Force is evaluating Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook and AH-64D Apache for India’s heavy lift and attack helicopter requirements, respectively.

Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems intend to grow the joint venture partnership in the future, with a focus on opportunities to collaborate on the development and selling of integrated systems, Boeing said in a statement on Monday.

“This partnership will capitalize on India’s industrial capability, innovation and talent to contribute to Boeing’s long-term competitiveness and position us for future growth in the global marketplace,” said Chris Chadwick, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

S. Ramadorai, chairman, Tata Advanced Systems, said this agreement to establish a joint venture will propel the growth of the Indian aerospace sector by leveraging the world-class competencies of the company and its supplier ecosystem.

“Over the last 12 months, we have doubled our sourcing from India and are committed to continue that journey,” said Pratyush Kumar, president, Boeing India.

“Tata Advanced Systems is one of the select few in the private sector in India undertaking manufacturing and assembly of both aircraft and helicopters. The resulting scale and expertise at which the company now operates makes it well-positioned for large-scale systems integration work in India’s aerospace and defence sector,” said Sukaran Singh, managing director and chief executive officer, Tata Advanced Systems.

This is not the first time that Boeing and Tata group companies are coming together.

Tata Advanced Materials Ltd has delivered composite panels for power and mission equipment cabinets and auxiliary power unit door fairings for the P-8I long-range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft.

Tata Advanced Materials also makes complex floor beams out of composite materials for the Boeing’s Dreamliner planes or B787-9. Tata Advanced Materials has also provided ground support equipment for the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter.

In July, the defence division of the Mahindra Group, Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd, and Europe’s Airbus Helicopters signed an in-principle agreement to set up a joint venture to manufacture helicopters in India.

The Mahindra-Airbus joint venture is expected to act as the prime contractor for India’s military helicopter tenders, including the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter, the naval utility helicopter and the naval multi-role helicopter procurement programmes.

With defence equipment forming part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign to encourage manufacturing and attract foreign investment, there is a scramble among companies for licences to manufacture defence equipment.

India will see a total defence budget allocation of $620 billion between fiscal years 2014 and 2022, of which 50% will be capital expenditure, according to a February report by lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and financial services company Centrum Capital Ltd. The annual opportunity for Indian firms—both state-owned and private—is expected to touch $41 billion by fiscal 2022 and $168 billion cumulatively, it said.

Indian companies—big and small, known and unknown—looking for a piece of the defence equipment business have applied for industrial licences from the commerce ministry to locally manufacture everything from airplanes and warships to tanks and howitzers.

The announcement by Tata Advances Systems and Boeing on Monday was an extension of an agreement the firms entered in July to jointly develop products and platforms in aerospace and defence manufacturing, and access new markets together.

The companies did not detail their cooperation plan then.

“The news is a good marker for Indian industry in general as it showcases how Indian companies like Tata Advanced Systems are now well established as a global centre of excellence for aerostructure manufacture and supply,” said Rahul Gangal, partner at consultancy firm Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

Currently, 14 Tata companies are engaged in providing support to India’s defence and aerospace sector. These are the Tata Power Strategic Electronics Division, Tata Advanced Systems, TAL Manufacturing Solutions, Tata Technologies, Tata Motors, Tata Advanced Materials, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel UK, Tata Elxsi, Titan Company (Precision Engineering Division), Avana Integrated Systems, Nova Integrated Systems, CMC Ltd and Tata Industrial Services.

The current order book of the Tata group in the sector is more thanRs.10,000 crore. Other Tata group firms—Tata Advanced Materials and TAL Manufacturing—are also supplying important components to Boeing.

Source: Live Mint