2. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Indo UK Healthcare have signed a pact to open King’s College Hospital, Chandigarh, which will lead to the creation of jobs for 2,500 nurses and 500 doctors
3. Merlin Entertainments plc has announced its first business in India — a Madame Tussauds wax attraction scheduled to open in New Delhi in early 2017. Merlin is also looking to roll out several more of its ‘Midway’ attraction brands such as Sea Life and Legoland Discovery Centres in key cities across India, and expects to invest up to £50 million there over the next ten years
4. Genus ABS will invest £1 million in India, providing latest dairy genetics and constructing a state-of-the-art facility near Pune
5. Solar PV generator in the UK and Europe, Lightsource, has announced a £2 billion investment in India. It will design, install and manage around 3 gigawatts of solar power infrastructure in India over the next 5 years
6. The UK’s Kloudpad Mobility Research Ltd has announced a £100 million investment in South India to ‘Make in India’ the next generation of smart watches, wearables and tablets, creating 2,500 skilled jobs in India and supporting 50 highly skilled researchers in the UK
7. Vodafone has announced a range of further investments in India totalling £1.3 billion (Rs 13,000 crore) to support the Government of India’s ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ campaigns
8. Representatives of the UK’s insurance industry with JVs in India have announced a number of agreements to increase their FDI in the country. For example, should their applications for regulatory approval be granted, Standard Life, Bupa and Aviva have committed to invest a combined total of £238 million of FDI in their Indian joint ventures
9. E-commerce cloud platform provider, cloudBuy, is signing a contract with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for an online business to business marketplace
10. UK technology company Intelligent Energy recently signed an agreement to acquire the energy management business of Indian firm GTL. It will provide clean energy to 27,400 telecoms towers in India, with a contract value of £1.2 billion over ten years
11. Holland & Barrett International has partnered with Apollo Hospitals in a deal worth £20 million. The partnership will open 1,000 Holland & Barrett outlets in India over the next 5 years. The first store will open in New Delhi in January 2016
12. Indiabulls Housing Finance Limited has invested £66 million into OakNorth Bank Limited, a recently authorised bank providing lending to UK entrepreneurs and small business owners
13. SSPSL, a subsidiary of India’s Strides Shasun will announce an £8 million investment in its England based facility
14. Advatech Health Care will invest £5 million in the UK and introduce ‘disruptive’ IT technology to ambulances
15. TVS is opening £20 million advanced logistics facility in Barnsley generating 100 new jobs, growing to 500 over 5 years, in addition to 50 jobs being created through market growth
16. Indian learning solutions provider Dexler is setting up Dexler Education UK with investments of around £10 million
17. London Stock Exchange Group and Yes Bank are signing an MoU to foster collaborations on bond and equity issuance, with a focus on Green Infrastructure Finance
18. HDFC will issue rupee denominated bonds overseas up to $750 million under the RBI guidelines, in one or more tranches. It will list the initial issue of bonds for trading on the London Stock Exchange
19. Bharti Airtel intends issuing its maiden sterling bond of up to £500 million to be listed on the London Stock Exchange
20. State Bank of India and London Stock Exchange Group to collaborate to create the ‘FTSE-SBI India Bonds Indices’ which will be used initially by a new investment fund run by SBI
21. The offshore arm of the UK’s Equiniti Group, Equiniti India announced its expansion plan in Chennai that will create 500 new jobs by end of 2017
22. Zyfin and Sun Global will be listing the world’s first India fixed income ETF on the London Stock Exchange
23. SBI UK will open two branches in Hounslow and Ilford and expand of its Manchester and Leicester branches
24. Wipro has increased its investment in the UK with the opening of its newest office for Wipro Digital
25. TCS, with British Council, will provide opportunities for 1,000 graduate interns from British universities to train and work in India over the next five years
26. HSBC has announced the launch of its ‘Skills for Life’ initiative in India, a programme to skill 75,000 disadvantaged young people and women over five years
27. MoU between the two countries on tech cooperation in the rail sector
Source:- The Indian Express
India aims to scale up start-ups in the biotechnology sector to at least 1,500 in the next two to three years to boost technological interventions in the health and agriculture sectors, a senior biotechnology department official said.
“We presently have around 500 start-ups in the biotech sector. It is less in comparison with other sectors. We plan to scale it up to 1,500 to 2,000 in the next two to three years,” said Renu Swarup, department of biotechnology’s senior adviser and managing director of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
She pointed out that there was a growing market for biotech products and services given India’s population and its needs.
Biotech start-ups are into bio-pharma (diagnostics and therapeutics), agricultural (biofertilisers, hybrid seeds etc.), bioinformatics and drug development, etc.
“They are directly or indirectly linked to the health and agricultural sectors,” Swarup told IANS.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year announced a ‘Start-up India, Stand up India’ campaign to promote bank financing for start-ups and offer incentives to boost entrepreneurship and job creation.
“Under the new initiative, if we can create a favourable business environment, we can tap into our own products and know-how for solutions in health and agriculture,” she said.
It would also help researchers to become ‘tech-preneurs’.
“We have seen good interventions happening in Odisha and Tamil Nadu,” said Swarup.
The Indian biotech industry holds about two percent share of the global biotech sector. At present India is ranked 12th in the world in the biotech sector and third in the Asia-Pacific region.
By 2017, the size of India’s biotech industry is estimated to increase to $11.6 billion from $4.3 billion in 2012.
Indian biotech entrepreneur Kiran Majumdar Shaw has said that the emergence of biotech start-ups is resulting in a reverse brain drain.
Currently, Swarup said, new products have emerged from the Grand Challenges India (GCI) Interventions. The GCI was jointly launched by BIRAC under the department of biotechnology and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013.
“These include improved sanitation technologies and bio-digester designs. Initially, they will be showcased as demonstrations on a large scale and subsequently introduced in the market,” she said.
The Union cabinet on Wednesday got down to business after a two-week gap, clearing decisions focused on building infrastructure, providing relief to exporters, and allowing further disinvestment in Coal India Ltd—all measures that should boost the reformist credentials of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government.
The decisions will, among other things, benefit 34 stalled road projects; allow some exporters to receive bank loans at an interest rate three percentage points lower than what they would otherwise have paid; and put the government on course to meet its disinvestment target for the year by clearing the sale of a 10% stake in Coal India.
D.K. Srivastava, chief policy advisor at EY India, said the decisions will have an incremental impact on the economy. “The government should focus on taking faster decisions like these to stimulate demand. The 7th Pay Commission recommendations will also push demand next year,” he said.
The 7th Pay Commission is scheduled to submit its report to finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday.
Roads and infrastructure
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been allowed to extend the concession period for current projects in build-operate-transfer mode that are incomplete for no fault of the developer. It has also been given the option of paying a compensation for delays. The move will benefit 34 stuck projects. The government also allowed segregating construction cost from civil cost, such as land acquisition and pre-construction activities, for the purpose of appraisal and approval of national highway projects.
In a statement, the government said that multiple stages of examination and appraisal of the same project by different ministries, departments and committees cause delays in award of national highways and empowered the ministry of road transport and highways to decide on any change in the contours of a project and approve projects with civil cost up to Rs.1,000 crore.
While speaking at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) National Strategy Day on India in New Delhi on 4 November, urban development minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said that the government would put in place a single-window clearance mechanism to provide quick approvals for development projects by the end of the month. He had also said that the government has created a unified platform for clearances.
The move should boost much-needed investments in infrastructure, where delays related to land acquisition, availability of fuel (for power projects), and environmental clearances have wreaked havoc on the financials of developers and banks. Many lenders have now become wary of lending to infrastructure projects; at least 25% of their non-performing assets are related to infrastructure projects.
Wednesday’s announcements will help, but more needs to be done, said an expert.
“Though these are good initiatives, we need to have a technology-driven approval system so that there is transparency and we also need robust dispute resolution. Else, we will still have stalled projects in the future,” said P.R. Ramesh, chairman, Deloitte Haskins and Sells Llp.
On Tuesday, Jaitley invited sovereign wealth funds of the United Arab Emirates to invest in India’s National Infrastructure and Investment Fund, which was set up in July with a corpus of Rs.20,000 crore to assist development of infrastructure projects.
The cabinet also approved a policy on bilateral assistance to fast-track flow of overseas investments to infrastructure projects.
“We have today approved a policy on bilateral official development assistance for development cooperation with bilateral partners and modified the existing guidelines,” power minister Piyush Goyal said at a press briefing.
The decision will provide a flexible regime and enable the external affairs and finance ministries to enter into bilateral agreements with various countries which will help India generate large amounts of investment at concessional terms for long durations, the minister said.
It will also help India in developing infrastructure in an expeditious manner, he said.
The decision is aimed at further liberalizing activities under bilateral cooperation agreements with various countries. India has bilateral cooperation agreements with countries such as Japan, the US and Germany. It is developing the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project with Japan’s assistance.
The minister said that the arrangement would largely focus on infrastructure development and will ensure that 50% of the loan is of an untied nature so that it can also encourage more Indian companies to participate in the projects which are awarded through international competitive bidding.
“... the overall framework has been made more liberal to allow faster flow of funds into India through bilateral cooperation with newer countries,” he added.
According to the government statement, acceptance of special loans for capital-intensive projects and other projects of a special nature would be subject to conditions, including the stipulation that the minimum assistance from a bilateral partner would be $1 billion a year, of which at least 50% shall be normal untied loans.
Another condition is that not more than 30% of the total value of goods and services should be required to be sourced from the funding country, it said. Also, the annual rate of interest on special loans should not exceed 0.3% and the tenure should not be less than 40 years (with a 10-year moratorium on repayment).
Individual projects with a minimum project cost of $250 million will qualify for such special loans, it said.
To help exporters become internationally competitive at a time when India’s exports have contracted for the 11th consecutive month, the Cabinet approved a revised scheme for exporters, with an annual outgo of around Rs.2,700 crore, to provide them cheaper credit.
The long-pending so-called interest subvention scheme which expired on 31 March last year has now been replaced by a similar scheme (called the interest equalization scheme) for a period of five years starting 1 April this year. The impact of the scheme on export promotion will be reviewed after three years through a study by one of the Indian Institutes of Management, based upon which further continuation of the scheme will be decided.
Mint reported on 5 October that the scheme may be notified for a period of five years, subject to a review after three years.
All shipments by small and medium enterprises and labour-intensive exports of 416 commodities, including engineering, handicrafts, readymade garments and processed food, will be provided a subsidy of 3 percentage points in rupee credit.
“Financial implication of the proposed scheme is estimated to be in the range of Rs.2,500 crore to Rs.2,700 crore per year. However, the actual financial implication would depend on the level of exports and the claims filed by the exporters with the banks. Funds to the tune of Rs.1,625 crore under the non-plan head are available under Demand of Grants for 2015-2016, which would be made available to RBI (Reserve Bank of India) during 2015-16,” a statement from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) said.
The CCEA approved the disinvestment of 10% stake in Coal India out of the government’s shareholding of 78.65% in the firm through the offer for sale route amid growing concern over its ability to meet its Rs.69,500 crore disinvestment target for 2015-16. The government sold 10% stake in Coal India for more than Rs.25,000 crore through an offer for sale in January. At the current level of market capitalization, a 10% stake sale could fetch about Rs.21,137.71 crore.
So far, the government has garnered Rs.12,642 crore through disinvestment in Rural Electrification Corp Ltd, Power Finance Corporation Ltd, Dredging Corp of India Ltd and Indian Oil Corp Ltd. The volatile equity market and the global meltdown in commodity prices have affected its ability to aggressively push for divestment of commodity stocks.
For the railways, the government committed a sum of Rs.2,774 crore for a rail-cum-road bridge over the Ganga in Munger, Bihar, which has seen no progress in the last 17 years and set a deadline of mid-2016 to open the line. Power minister Piyush Goyal said that the announcement after the Bihar elections by the central government showed its commitment to the people of the state.
This is the second major announcement regarding railways in the state after the National Democratic Alliance lost the assembly elections. On 10 November, the Indian Railways awarded two contracts to General Electric Co. and Alstom to set up diesel and electric locomotive factories, respectively, in Bihar; the estimated cost of the projects is about Rs.40,000 crore.
The cabinet also approved doubling of three rail lines and addition of two rail lines to the East Coast Railway zone in the states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh at a combined cost of around Rs.8,000 crore. The doubling will happen for the Jagdalpur-Koraput section of 110.22km, the Koraput-Singapur Road section of 164.56km and the Kottavalasa-Koraput section of 189.27km.
Additionally, a third and a fourth line between Budhapank and Salegaon via Rajathgarh of 85km each will also be constructed. The project is likely to be completed in the next three years and meet the demands of ever-increasing freight traffic between these sections.
“We believe these four lines will give a boost to the power sector, the coal sector, the steel sector, and to exports, also adding to the utilization of Vizag port,” said Goyal. He added that the other major advantage of these lines will be the impact on the environment, as they will reduce freight movement on roads.
In a first-of-its-kind direct subsidy payment to farmers, the government has approved payment of a production subsidy to sugarcane growers.
For the sugar season that began in October, farmers will be paid Rs.4.50 per quintal of cane crushed by mills and the money will be paid directly to farmers, the cabinet statement said.
The move will ensure timely payment to farmers by mills and reduce their cost of procurement, the statement added.
The subsidy will be paid to farmers on behalf of the mills and will be adjusted against the cane price payable to the farmers towards the fair and remunerative price (FRP), including arrears relating to previous years, the statement said.
FRP is the government-mandated minimum to be paid by mills for procuring cane. The current FRP is fixed at Rs.230 per quintal.
The CCEA approved an initial public offering for Cochin Shipyard, to offload a 10% stake in the country’s largest ship-building and repair facility under its control. Cochin Shipyard’s turnover has increased 5-fold from Rs.373 crore in 2005-06 to Rs.1,859 crore in 2014-15. Its net profit has more than doubled during the period from Rs.94 crore to Rs.235 crore.
The government ratified the articles of agreement to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). “Establishment of the AIIB will help India and other signatory countries raise and avail resources for their infrastructure and sustainable development projects. India stands to become the second largest shareholder of AIIB after China. This is a historic opportunity for India to play a prominent role in the governance of a multilateral institution,” the statement said.
The cabinet also approved the determination of a marketing margin for supply of domestic gas to urea and LPG producers. Calling the move a structural reform, an official statement said “this decision is likely to enhance transparency and provide an element of certainty for future investments in the gas infrastructure sector”.
Marketing margin is the charge levied by a gas marketing company on its consumers over and above the cost or basic price of gas for taking on the additional risk and cost associated with marketing gas.
At present, different transporters are charging different marketing margins for supply of natural gas. With this decision, there will be uniformity in the marketing margin on domestic gas charged by gas marketers.
The statement added that there would be a reduction in marketing margin paid by urea and LPG producers as a result of the decision.
At 108 out of 145 countries, India’s ranking in the global gender index, compiled every year by the World Economic Forum (WEF), has climbed six places, primarily on account of political representation, but continues to be abysmal on the economic and health fronts.
India’s improved overall ranking (up from 114 of the 142 countries examined last year) reflects the fact that there are more women in positions of political leadership, particularly ministers and members of Parliament. With the number of women ministers jumping from 9% to 22% of the cabinet, India ranks among the most improved countries in the region in terms of political representation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet has six women ministers, including in the key portfolio of external affairs. The 16th Lok Sabha also saw a rise in the number of women parliamentarians from 11.4% to 12.15%.
That’s the good news.
Equally, there are many causes for concern.
India fell five places in terms of women in the workforce to hit nearly the bottom of the rankings at 139 of 145 countries, its worst rank in this category since 2006.
Indian women have also regressed in terms of health and survival, placed at a lowly 143 out of 145. India is one of the three countries that have declined the furthest on the health and survival sub-index, the other two being China and Albania.
The WEF’s assessment of India’s ranking in terms of sex ratio at birth (143), a sub-indicator in the health and survival category, is unchanged from last year and is ahead only of China and Armenia.
On educational attainment—a fourth parameter in the overall gender index after political representation, economy and health—India has improved marginally, going up one place from 126 in 2014 to 125 this year.
The report said the female to male ratio in India’s labour force participation is 0.35 now against 0.36 last year. Income disparity is also high, with women earning an estimated average of $2,257 per year, compared with $9,175 for men. While South Africa has narrowed its labour force participation gap by 18% and Japan by 11%, in India, the gap has widened by 7%.
Overall, India’s fall in rank is not only relative to other countries, it also marks a decline in absolute terms—the gap is wider today than 10 years ago.
Ironically, even as India’s gender ranking in education reflects an improvement—119 in primary education enrolment, 118 for secondary and 104 for tertiary education—women continue to be missing from the workforce.
At 53 percentage points, India has one of the worst gender gaps in the world when it comes to labour force participation, 2015 World Bank data shows. Not only other countries in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) grouping, but other emerging economies in Asia such as Indonesia fare much better than India when it comes to employing women, according to the World Bank data.
India’s female labour force participation rate fell nearly seven percentage points to 22.5% between 2004-05 and 2011-12, according to India’s NSSO data (http://bit.ly/1jenLeB), Mint reported in November 2013.
In a paper titled Labour Force Participation of Women in India: Some Facts, Some Queries, published by the London School of Economics’ Asia Research Centre, Surjit Bhalla and Ravinder Kaur point out that discrimination against women, starting from practices such as sex-selective abortion, is a possible reason for poor participation of women in the workforce.
In addition, the lack of safety and supporting infrastructure plays a role in deterring many educated, urban women from pursuing careers.
“India is a very peculiar case where despite increases in incomes and the economy, female labour-force participation has declined. Barring a few metros and some companies, workspaces are not women-friendly. Lack of safety and infrastructural issues have been reasons why women are staying away,” said Shamika Ravi, a fellow at Brookings India, a think tank.
Some have questioned the WEF’s methodology, which they say is anomalous because it looks at political empowerment through representation even though Parliament itself has failed for 20 years to pass a bill seeking to reserve 33% parliamentary seats for women.
“I am not sure how much weightage can be given to having a female prime minister or president as there is no direct link with women in power and feminist notions of empowerment,” said Mary E. John, senior fellow and associate professor, Centre for Women’s Development Studies at Delhi University.
Globally, the gender gap has closed by 4% in the 10 years since WEF began measuring the global gender gap in 2006.
The economic gap has closed only by 3% with wage equality and labour force parity stalling from 2009-10.
The WEF estimates that at this rate, the economic gender gap worldwide will not be bridged until 2033.
As with India, globally, too, the area where the most progress has been made over the past decade is political representation.
For 2015, the top 10 ranked countries in terms of gender include the Scandinavian trio of Iceland, Finland and Norway.
One African country, Rwanda, comes in at No 7 and an Asian country, the Philippines ranks 9.
The Asia-Pacific top 10 include two South Asian countries—Bangladesh at 64 and Sri Lanka at 84.
British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed India’s decision to increase FDI limits in the insurance sector to 49 per cent and said it would result in British insurers investing around approximately 238 million pounds in their Indian joint ventures.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Cameron met here to discuss a host of issues.
Noting that the Indian government recently permitted foreign direct investment (FDI) upto 49 percent in the insurance sector, Cameron noted that several British insurers have announced a number of agreements to increase their investments in their joint ventures in India.
“These agreements would amount to approximately 238 million pounds of Foreign Direct Investment in the first instance subject to regulatory approvals,” a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said.
“This will support the ongoing development of the Indian insurance and reinsurance sectors, which are key elements in promoting sustainable economic growth,” the statement added.
The passing of the insurance bill paved the way for Lloyd’s of London to establish their presence in India and provide local access to Lloyd’s specialist reinsurance services in India.
Life, non-life and health insurers of Britain have their joint ventures in India.
Once the regulatory approvals are given UK based Standard Life, Bupa and Aviva would invest a combined 238 million pounds FDI in their Indian joint ventures.
In addition Prudential and Legal & General, and insurance brokers, Howden, Willis and JLT, continue to grow their operations in India.
Indian insurance regulator is in the process of coming out with regulations to give effect to the legal provisions enabling hike in FDI cap to 49 per cent from the earlier 26 percent limits.
The two prime ministers welcomed HSBC’s “Skills for life” initiative in India, a 10 million pound programme to skill 75,000 disadvantaged young people and children over 5 years.
Source: Economic Times