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India and Israel sign a three-year work program for cooperation in Agriculture

Source : IBEF

Taking forward the ever-growing partnership in agriculture between Israel and India, the two governments have agreed to enhance their cooperation in agriculture and signed a three-year work program agreement for development in Agriculture cooperation, while affirming the ever-growing bilateral partnership and recognizing the centrality of agriculture and water sectors in the bilateral relationship.

India and Israel are implementing the “INDO-ISRAEL Agricultural Project Centres of Excellence” and “INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”.

MIDH, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare, Government of India, and MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation – are leading Israel’s largest G2G cooperation, with 29 operational Centres of Excellence (COEs) across India in 12 States, implementing Advanced-Intensive agriculture farms with Israeli Agro-Technology tailored to local conditions. The Centres of Excellence generate knowledge, demonstrate best practices and train farmers. Every year, these COEs produce more than 25 million quality vegetable seedlings, more than 387 thousand quality fruit plants and train more than 1.2 lakh farmers about latest technology in the field of horticulture.

 

Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare said that the agriculture sector always remains a priority for India. Due to the agrarian policies of the Government of India, there is a definite change in the lives of the farmers and the agriculture sector. Increasing the farmers’ income is the determination of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. The minister said that India and Israel have had bilateral relations since 1993 in the agricultural sector. This is the 5th IIAP. “So far, we have successfully completed 4 action plans. This new work programme will further strengthen the bilateral relations and mutual cooperation between the two countries in the field of agriculture for the benefit of the farming community. The COEs established under these Israeli-based action plans are playing an important role in doubling farmers’ income. The exchange of technology between India and Israel will greatly improve the productivity and quality of horticulture, thereby increasing the income of farmers”, he added.

Mr. Sanjay Agarwal, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare said, “These Centres of Excellence established under Indo-Israel Agriculture Action Plan (IIAP) have become epicentres of transformation in horticulture sector. Our focus during the new work programme will be to convert the villages surrounding these COEs into Villages of Excellence through massive outreach programmes”.

Ambassador Dr. Ron Malka said, “The three-year work program (2021-2023) reflects the strength of our growing partnership and will benefit local farmers both through the Centres of Excellence and the Villages of Excellence”.

The work program will aim to grow existing Centres of Excellence, establish new centres, increase CoE’s value chain, bring the Centres of Excellence into the self-sufficient mode, and encourage private sector companies and collaboration.

As for the “INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”, this is a new concept aimed at creating a model ecosystem in agriculture across eight states, alongside 13 Centres of Excellence within 75 villages. The program will promote the increase of net income and better the livelihood of the individual farmer, transforming traditional farms into modern-intensive farms based on IIAP standards. Large-scale and complete value chain approach with economic sustainability, embedded with Israeli novel technologies and methodologies will be tailored to local conditions. The IIVOE program will focus on: (1) Modern Agriculture infrastructure, (2) Capacity Building, (3) Market linkage.

The work program signing ceremony was also attended by Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Mr. Parshottam Rupala and Mr. Kailash Choudhary along with Senior officers of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare, Government of India.

India attracted highest ever total FDI inflow of US$ 81.72 billion during 2020-21, 10% more than the last financial year

Source : IBEF

Measures taken by the Government on the fronts of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy reforms, investment facilitation and ease of doing business have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country. The following trends in India’s Foreign Direct Investment are an endorsement of its status as a preferred investment destination amongst global investors:

India has attracted highest ever total FDI inflow of US$ 81.72 billion during the financial year 2020-21 and it is 10% higher as compared to the last financial year 2019-20 (US$ 74.39 billion).
FDI equity inflow grew by 19% in the F.Y. 2020-21 (US$ 59.64 billion) compared to the previous year F.Y. 2019-20 (US$ 49.98 billion).
In terms of top investor countries, ‘Singapore’ is at the apex with 29%, followed by the U.S.A (23%) and Mauritius (9%) for the F.Y. 2020-21.
‘Computer Software & Hardware’ has emerged as the top sector during F.Y. 2020-21 with around 44% share of the total FDI Equity inflow followed by Construction (Infrastructure) Activities (13%) and Services Sector (8%) respectively.
Under the sector `Computer Software & Hardware’, the major recipient states are Gujarat (78%), Karnataka (9%) and Delhi (5%) in F.Y. 2020-21.
Gujarat is the top recipient state during the F.Y. 2020-21 with 37% share of the total FDI Equity inflows followed by Maharashtra (27%) and Karnataka (13%).
Majority of the equity inflow of Gujarat has been reported in the sectors `Computer Software & Hardware’ (94%) and `Construction (Infrastructure) Activities’ (2%) during the F.Y. 2020-21.
The major sectors, namely Construction (Infrastructure) Activities, Computer Software & Hardware, Rubber Goods, Retail Trading, Drugs & Pharmaceuticals and Electrical Equipment have recorded more than 100% jump in equity during the F.Y. 2020-21 as compared to the previous year.
Out of top 10 countries, Saudi Arabia is the top investor in terms of percentage increase during F.Y. 2020-21. It invested US$ 2816.08 million in comparison to US$ 89.93 million reported in the previous financial year.
227% and 44% increase recorded in FDI equity inflow from the USA & the UK respectively, during the F.Y. 2020-21 compared to F.Y.2019-20.

India’s millennials drive a shift to consumer demand

Source : IntoIndia

India’s millennials – what a shock – are borrowing for consumables.

This is a massive generational shift in India where previous generations believed in first saving and then buying – even if it took years or ultimately going without.

Consumer credit companies such as TVS Credit and Bajaj Finserv have been increasing the share of their offerings to these niche segments not covered by conventional lenders and NBFCs.

The loans are known as EMI’s (equated monthly instalments) and are used to buy various goods, including mobile phones, consumer durables and small-ticket items on easy, no-cost EMIs via loans or credit cards.

It is the segment of youthful, low-income but tech-savvy consumers that fintech lenders are targeting – half the small loans are of Rs5,000 or less.

The country’s largest AI-enabled consumer lending platform, ZestMoney, noted in a report that it had seen more than 125% growth in EMI funding.

E-commerce majors such as Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, MakeMyTrip, Decathlon and Paytm, among others, have seen a substantial surge in online sales in the past year due to EMI financing schemes – and digital payments mean no cash.

The New India is not afraid of debt – signalling a major uplift in consumer demand for decades to come.

BRICS countries underline importance of enhancing collaboration among astronomers

Source : IBEF

Delegates from BRICS nations highlighted the importance of enhancing collaboration among astronomers from the countries at the seventh meeting of the BRICS Astronomy Working Group Meeting.

Under the Science, Technology, and Innovation track of the BRICS 2021 calendar, India hosted the seventh meeting of BRICS Astronomy Working Group (BAWG) meeting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, as well as astronomers from these countries in online mode from 19 to 20th May 2021.

From the Indian side, the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, and Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India coordinated the meeting. It witnessed participation of all five BRICS countries with more than 50 participants, including researchers, academicians, and government officials.

The delegates deliberated on strategic and operational matters and recommended the networking of existing Telescopes in BRICS countries and create regional Data Network. They agreed to develop flagship project in this area. The members of the working group also indicated future directions of research in this area such as building network of intelligent telescope and data network, study of transient astronomical phenomena in universe, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning application to process the voluminous data generated now a days due to enhance multi-wavelength telescope observatory.

The BAWG which provides a platform for BRICS member countries to collaborate in the field of astronomy recommended that the focal points in each country should present the scientific results of the work being carried out in each country. This will help seek funding support to realize the flagship project whenever funding opportunity announced by BRICS funding agencies. BAWG noted the importance of enhancing collaboration among astronomers from the BRICS countries.

Mr. S. K. Varshney, Scientist G & Head international Cooperation presented India (DST) perspectives and lead scientific researchers from each BRICS country presented their country report highlighting research activities and research infrastructure they have created.

 

The key scientific institutions which participated from BRICS countries included Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, National Centre for Radio Astrophysics Pune, Delhi University from India; National Laboratory on Astrophysics; Brazilian Centre for Research in Physics, National Institute for Space Research from Brazil; the Institute of astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China; the African Astronomical Society, South Africa.

India has assumed the BRICS Presidency from January 2021, about 100 events, including Ministerial level meetings, Senior Official meetings, and sectorial meetings/conferences, will be organized as part of BRICS 2021 Calendar.

Adani takes giant steps towards becoming the world’s leading renewables company

Source : IntoIndia

Adani is taking a massive lead in India into green energy renewables.

But in Australia it is still seen as “the Indian coal company” because of its activities in Queensland – in this market the Adani reputation has taken a hit as a result.

The reality is Adani is a leader in green energy and just got a lot bigger!

Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL), this week signed share purchase agreements for the acquisition of 100% interest in SB Energy India from SBG (80%) and Bharti Group (20%).

SB Energy India has a total renewable portfolio of 4,954 MW spread across four states in India.

Adani is super serious about renewables – the transaction marks the largest acquisition in the renewable energy sector in India. The transaction values SB Energy India at an enterprise valuation of approximately USD 3.5 billion.

The target portfolio consists large scale utility assets with 84% solar capacity (4,180 MW), 9% wind-solar hybrid capacity (450 MW) and 7% wind capacity (324 MW).

With this acquisition, AGEL will achieve total renewable capacity of 24.3 GW (1) and operating renewable capacity of 4.9 GW.

You’ve got to hand it to Gautam Adani who has the vision to be the leader in sustainable energy transition globally and makes it one of the largest renewable energy platforms in the world.

Mr Adani created a vision in January 2020, wherein he laid out our plans to become the world’s largest solar player by 2025 and thereafter the world’s largest renewable company by 2030.

Alankit ties-up with Digital Swiss Gold to offer platform for investment in gold

Source : IBEF

Alankit Imaginations Ltd. entered into a partnership with Digital Swiss Gold (DSG) on Wednesday, which would allow users to trade in gold digitally in Switzerland.

According to a statement, investors could become Digital Swiss Gold members in minutes by opening an account on an app and obtaining Swiss Gold digitally starting at 1 gram after completing the KYC process.

Alankit Imaginations is a division of Alankit, a company that specialises in financial and digital solutions.

Alankit Ltd. Managing Director, Mr. Ankit Agarwal said, “The Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalized Remittance Scheme allows individuals to purchase gold up to a maximum of US$ 2,50,000 every financial year.”

 

After completing the necessary formalities, a buyer can send gold to someone, and physical exchange of gold can occur after completing customs and other regulatory clearance, he said, adding that this is an opportunity to invest, and gold as an asset has offered a return of 10-12% over time.

According to the company, by acquiring gold directly from Swiss refineries and eliminating middlemen, they would be able to offer competitive and transparent pricing to their consumers, saving them up to 10% over posted Indian gold prices.

It added, “DSG’s gold is skilfully crafted to a fineness of 0.9999 and corresponds with the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) gold bar standards. All transactions are permanently recorded on a private permissioned blockchain, and customers are given a digital warehouse receipt as well as a photo of the gold bar with a serial number. The bullion is monitored and held in Brink’s vaults in Zurich, Switzerland, which are fully insured non-bank vaults.”

Mr. Agarwal said, “Apart from all of these advantages, Alankit investors are expected to win gold and other incentives and discounts, invite a friend and get a reward, and receive a monthly newsletter from industry experts as a result of their affiliation with Digital Swiss Gold.”

Digital Swiss Gold’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ashraf Rizvi said, “We want to make physical gold ownership more digital, mobile, and handy for customers while also saving them money. We aim to ensure that digital gold is included in the investment portfolios of people of all ages.”

He added, “Customers will be able to engage more of their hard-earned income in gold, the ultimate store of value, due to increased savings provided by Digital Swiss Gold.”

India’s oilmeal exports jump 51 pc in FY21

Source : IBEF

According to Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA), the country’s oil meal exports increased by 51.44% to 36.8 lakh tonne in FY21 from 24.3 lakh tonne in FY20, attributable to a significant increase in soybean meal shipments.

Oil meal exports almost doubled in value to Rs. 8,850 crore (US$ 1.21 billion) in FY21 from Rs. 4,450 crore (US$ 608.91 million) in FY20.

Oil meals are used in poultry and other industries as animal feed. According to SEA, soybean meal exports increased to 15.64 lakh tonne in FY21, up from 6.92 lakh tonne in FY20.

Similarly, rapeseed meal exports increased to 11.13 lakh tonne from 9.61 lakh tonne in the same period, while rice bran extension exports increased to 5.76 lakh tonne from 2.36 lakh tonne.

According to the SEA, India exported a record 5.76 lakh tonne of rice bran extraction in FY21, driven by rapid demand from Bangladesh as a result of their rice crop failure.

Castor seed meal exports stood at 4.19 lakh tonnes in FY21.

As per SEA, the export performance of soybean meal during the first half of FY22 is projected to be lesser since India is entirely outpriced in the international market due to high domestic soybean prices.

It indicates that, due to lower soybean meal exports, domestic availability will be higher for the domestic feed business, the report stated.

India is a strong supplier to South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and other Far East countries; thus, rapeseed meal exports are likely to remain unchanged from last year. Castor seed meal exports are also predicted to be at the same level as last year.

Apart from the US, the main export markets for Indian oil meals include Southeast Asian countries, the Middle East, and European countries such as Germany.

India ranks third in Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index

Source : IBEF

On Wednesday, India climbed up rank to third place in EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index, driven by strong performance in solar PV, with solar PV capacity expected to surpass coal before 2040.

The US ranks at the top of the Index and is anticipated to maintain that position. China has continued to be a major market, maintaining second place with 72.4 GW of new wind power estimated for 2020.

Somesh Kumar, Partner and National Leader, Power & Utilities, EY India, said, “India has jumped one spot from its previous position in the ranking, owing to its outstanding performance in solar PV. India’s installed solar PV capacity has increased to 39 GW, nearly exceeding wind capacity for the first time.”

He added that solar PV’s economic value and strong competition from the private sector have resulted in record-low tariff offers.

India’s solar market is projected to grow rapidly, with solar PV generation predicted to surpass coal before 2040, owing to the government’s policy aspirations, which have made solar PV a cost-competitive source of power in the region, which is likely to improve further with the passing time.

Despite the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, global renewable energy capacity investments increased by 2% to US$ 303.5 billion in 2020, the second-highest annual number ever reported.

Future development to attain net zero would demand an additional US$ 5.2 trillion investment, highlighting the importance of institutional investors in supporting the energy transition.

Mr. Ben Warren, EY Global power and utilities corporate finance leader and report’s chief editor said, “The economic impact of the pandemic appears to have refocused investors’ attention… As a result, institutional investors have agreed to bring climate-risk concerns into their decision-making strategies, resulting in new investment models for renewable energy development.”

Japan and South Korea, both in East Asia, were ranked eighth and seventeenth, respectively. According to the report, East Asia has a significant stream of clean-energy projects, with over 800 shovel-ready schemes totalling US$ 316 billion in investment potential.

India Second Largest Insurtech Market in APAC: S&P Global

Source : IBEF

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, India is the second largest insurance-technology market in Asia-Pacific, accounting for 35% of the US$ 3.66 billion in insurtech-focused venture investments made in the country.

In Asia-Pacific, at least 335 private insurtechs are operative, with 122 of them reporting a total of US$ 3.66 billion in capital raised through private placement transactions.

According to a survey by S&P Global Market Intelligence, China and India present nearly half of all private insurtech companies in the APAC region, attracting > 78% of all investments.

 

Due to their massive and rapidly rising insurance markets, the two markets will continue to attract the largest share of investor interest, according to the report.

India accounted for 35% of the US$ 3.66 billion in insurtech-focused venture capital invested in the APAC region. The country has at least 66 insurtech companies.

S&P Global Market Intelligence fintech analyst, Mr. Sampath Sharma Nariyanuri said, “India is attracting insurance technology investment since it is one of the world’s fastest-growing insurance markets.”

He added that in FY20, Insurance premiums in India totalled US$ 107 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2020, up 10% from FY15.

According to the survey, tech companies including as Tencent Holdings, Ant Group Co Ltd., Amazon.com Inc, and Grab Holdings Inc will have an impact on the region’s insurtech ecosystem.

Alliances with popular lifestyle and e-commerce platforms could be vital for scaling for technology businesses seeking customers online.

While huge internet companies compete to become insurance’s digital intermediaries, established carriers are developing their own digital channels. Start-ups that help both incumbents and major tech companies make this transformation are likely to succeed.

Reliance Jio joins global consortium to build undersea cable network

Source : IBEF

Reliance Jio announced plans to construct the largest international submarine cable system centred on India with global partners and submarine cable supplier Subcom to cater to increased data demand. The submarine cable networks are used to connect several countries for flow of internet and telecom services.

The two submarine cable systems which the company plans to deploy will connect India with Asia Pacific markets through Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and the other one with Italy, middle and north Africa region.

Reliance Jio President Mr. Mathew Oommen has revealed that in order to meet the demands of Streaming Video, Remote Workforce, 5G, IoT, and beyond, Jio is taking a leadership role in the construction of the first of its kind, India-centric IAX and NSE 1.49 % subsea systems. “Implementing these critical initiatives in the shadow of a global pandemic is a challenge, but the ongoing pandemic has only accelerated the digital transformation and the necessity of high-performance global connectivity for the delivery of a richer experience to enterprises and consumers,” Oommen said.

These high capacity and high-speed systems will provide more than 200 Tbps (terabits per second) of capacity spanning over 16,000 kilometres, according to the statement. The IAX system that will connect India from Mumbai from Mumbai and Chennai to Thailand, Malaysia, and is expected to be ready for service by mid-2023 and the IEX system that will extend India’s connectivity to Italy, landing in Savona, and additional landings in the middle East and North Africa is expected to be ready for service in early 2024.

“Apart from the seamless connection of the IAX and IEX sub-sea systems, the two systems are also connected to the Reliance Jio Global Fibre Network beyond Asia Pacific and Europe, connecting to both the east and west coast of the USA,” the statement said.

India Avenue 36.6% return for Australian investors in India

Source : IntoIndia

INTO INDIA has written before about Aussie fund managers India Avenue Investment Management. Their India Avenue Equity Fund is a standout.

It’s fact sheet for the month ending April 2021 is now available. Contact the CEO Mugunthan.Siva@indiaavenueinvest.com

The fund has delivered 36.6% over the last 12 months outperforming the index by 9.1%.

The Fact Sheet explores how India is progressing through the 2nd wave and what sectors will benefit

The India Avenue story shows why active management through local connectivity in India is of critical importance and why it will continue to win, especially during uncertain times such as the pandemic

The India Avenue Equity Fund is available on the following investment platforms: Macquarie Wrap, Netwealth, Hub24, Mason Stevens, Powerwrap and Praemium. In New Zealand, it is available on FNZ / One Answer, Aegis and InvestNow.

You’ll see many familiar names in their portfolio – Bajaj, Infosys, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra and Tata Consulting Services.

But many have not heard of others such as – Kaveri Seed, Info Edge, Redington, Aurobindo Pharma, Divis Laboratories, Avenue Supermarts and Brigade Enterprises.

India Avenue has a local India team and the ability to drill down beyond the majors favoured by most global funds.

Jio says deploying submarine cable systems to Singapore; Middle East & Europe to address data demand

Source : IBEF

On Monday, Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) announced that it is developing submarine cable systems linking India eastbound to Singapore and beyond, dubbed the India-Asia-Xpress (IAX), and India westbound to the Middle East and Europe, via the India-Europe-Xpress.

The projects are being carried out in collaboration with several key global collaborators and submarine cable suppliers SubCom, with the goal of supporting the region’s “rapid development” in data demand.

Submarine cable systems are considered to be interconnect as well as connect to the largest interexchange points and content hubs for the extension of global service.

According to the company, IAX and IEX will improve consumer and enterprise users’ capability to obtain content and cloud services in and out of India.

These systems with high-capacity and high-speed would span 16,000 kilometres and provide > 200Tbps of capacity. The systems would use open system technology as well as wavelength switched RoADM/branching units.

Mr. Mathew Oommen, President, Reliance Jio, said, “Jio is leading the development of the first-of-its-kind, India-centric IAX and IEX subsea networks to fulfil the requirements of Streaming Video, Remote Workforce, 5G, IoT, and beyond.”

He added, “Implementing these vital measures in the midst of a global pandemic is challenging, but the current pandemic has only intensified the digital transformation and the need for high-performance global connectivity to provide businesses and customers with a richer experience.”

The IAX system links India to Asia Pacific markets with faster connectivity from Chennai and Mumbai to Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, while the IEX system links India’s connectivity to Italy, landing in Savona, and additional landings in the North America and Middle East.

The two networks are both linked to the Reliance Jio Global Fibre Network, which extends across Asia Pacific and Europe to include both the east and west coasts of the US.

IAX is scheduled to be operational in mid-2023, while IEX will be operational in early 2024.

Synechron to hire up to 2,000 professionals to boost India plans

Source : IBEF

Synechron, a digital transformation consulting firm, announced plans to recruit up to 2,000 individuals to expand its India operations in Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Chennai.

Furthermore, the company stated that it will focus to fill job openings in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific.

Mr. Hareesha Pattaje, Managing Director and Delivery Head India, Synechron said, “This year has seen tremendous growth in India, particularly in digital transformation initiatives across various BFSI clientele. Although we will be looking for individuals with robust domain knowledge, we would also be looking for trained individuals with 4 to 10 years of relevant experience.”

Business analysts, java full stack, data engineers, UI/UX specialists, angular/react, Cloud & DevOps, automation engineers, and agile coaches are among the key skills the organization is reportedly seeking for.

Mr. Pattaje added, “We are also bolstering our talent pipeline, who are routinely cross-skilling and upskilling themselves, to be positioned in appropriate roles.”

Synechron successfully completed two acquisitions within six months of each other. Citihub Digital, a technology consulting company for the financial services industry, was the first acquisition, and the second acquisition include Attra, an Australia-based technology services and solutions provider that caters to industries such as payments, banking, and finance.

Mr. Faisal Husain, Co-founder and CEO, Synechron, said, “Synechron has always been successful in providing solutions to our customers worldwide, who are massively investing in digital transformation to enable their end customers to conduct business more effectively and intelligently.”

The corporation increased its global operating locations to 22 in 2021 from 18 in 2020 and has over 10,000 employees and generates > US$ 650 million in annual revenue.

Godrej & Boyce expects double-digit growth in healthcare biz going ahead

Source : IBEF

With the growing demand for key healthcare products and solutions, Godrej & Boyce is expecting double-digit growth in its healthcare business.

The company which is also a leading maker of medical refrigerators in India, is looking for an alliance with any vaccine makers such as Pfizer’s, that needs to be kept in (-) 70 degrees Celsius.

Godrej & Boyce Executive Director Ms. Nyrika Holkar, said that the company’s healthcare businesses are likely to grow in the range of 22-25% in the past year.

Ms. Nyrika Holkar said that since March 2020, when the pandemic started, it has witnessed sustained rising demand for many of its key healthcare products and solutions. The healthcare sector’s revenues contribute less than 10% of Godrej & Boyce’s total revenues, however, this sector presents strong growth opportunities even after the pandemic ends.

 

The business line of Godrej & Boyce in the healthcare sector Godrej Appliances, Godrej Interio and Godrej Lawkim, in areas such as hospital beds, medical refrigerators and calibration services for medical equipment like ventilators.

As per Ms. Nyrika Holkar, the company is also expecting great opportunity from the government plan to strengthen the medical cold supply chain. For example, the company looking forward to strengthening the medical cold supply chain, as the government has announced plans to create 65 new blood banks at the district level. Such precise cooling solutions are also critical for organ storage banks and pharma cold chains including testing labs.

She also added that with Godrej & Boyce’s technology and engineering capabilities as well as a range of suitable products, they are planning to play a significant role in these areas. As the procurement of vaccinations has been opened for private sector corporations and hospitals, they are looking at partnerships and collaborations in this regard.

She quoted that around 90% of the products that Godrej & Boyce sells in the healthcare sector are through local value addition.

The company, in partnership with the UK-based The Sure Chill Company, sells medical refrigerators that use the properties of water to keep vaccines in the desired temperature range.

Last year, Godrej & Boyce has invested 10% of its healthcare revenues back into their business.

The company has also built a new manufacturing plant for Godrej Interio at Khalapur, Maharashtra, with a production capacity of 300 hospital beds per day among other healthcare accessories.

Similarly, in FY20, Godrej Appliances increased its manufacturing capacity by 300% by making investments in foaming plugs, jigs and conveyor lines. Even at component levels, multiple tools were developed to match plant production capacity.

Godrej & Boyce exports its medical refrigerators to over 36 countries covering Africa, the Middle East and SAARC, however, their most of its healthcare products and solutions are focused on the Indian healthcare industry.

Ms. Nyrika Holkar quoted that even after the COVID-19 era, there is an immense potential to further upgrade the healthcare infrastructure in order to bolster India’s immunisation drive and the international markets also offers significant opportunity and would seek an opportunity to step up their exports even further.

Indian NGO wins India-Australia business and community award

Source : IBEF

The IABCA Community Services Excellence Award was given to an Indian NGO that operates to provide vision screening to the underprivileged across the country.

According to a media release, India Vision Institute (IVI) received the award at the India-Australia Business and Community Awards (IABCA) Gala in Sydney on Saturday in front of 1,000 invited guests.

According to the release, the IVI is working to provide access to the underprivileged in remote areas and villages through vision screening and a pair of free spectacles to those who need it across 20 states in India, supporting over 400,000 children and adults.

IVI’s CEO, Mr. Vinod Daniel said, “IVI is honoured to receive the Award, which recognises our contributions to the primary eye care and public health sectors in India. We are especially delighted to receive an award from an organisation like IABCA, which aims to promote the India-Australia association and people-to-people connections.”

He added, “The award will inspire us to do more with our aspiration to bolster India’s primary eye care capability and enable children and adults perform better and be more productive.”

Since its inception in 2014, IABCA has experienced significant annual growth and has established itself as a flagship event on the Australian events calendar

In 25 years Indian Australians are front and centre in our community – but still not heard

Source : IntoIndia

The statistics on Australian migrant communities tell a story of change – as Indian Australians take a leading role.

In 1996 here were the leading migrant communities:

England 956,000

New Zealand 312,000

Italy 250,000

Vietnam 158,000

(India was in 12th spot with just 80,000)

In 2020 Indian Australians claimed a leading place:

England 980,000

India 721,000

China 650,000

New Zealand 564,000

It is time for this community-minded group of Indian Australians to be fully represented in our political and other leading dialogues. US Vice President Kamala Harris has shown what can be done.

Right now, Indian Australians are not being heard.

To counter Biden corporate tax increase, Tech M may do more offshoring: CFO

Source : hr.economictimes.indiatimes

IT company Tech Mahindra may turn to more offshoring to neutralise the tax impact as and when Joe Biden’s corporate tax hike comes into force, said its Chief Financial Officer Milind Kulkarni.

Biden is proposing to hike corporate tax in the US to 28 per cent from 21 per cent currently to fund his ambitious $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. The newly elected President though has softened his stance, indicating he is willing to accept a 25 per cent corporate tax rate. His economic proposals are yet to come into force; they could have implications for Indian IT companies, which conduct significant business from the US geography.

“Obviously, it would mean additional tax liability (for us) like any other company operating in the US. The 28 per cent is a headline rate, on top of it there is also a state tax in the US, which works to about 4 per cent roughly. That’s fine, there is nothing one can do with it. We will have to plan to improve our margin in such a way it absorbs. We will try and do more business offshore from India, to the extent the tax liability in the US comes down,” Milind Kulkarni, Tech M CFO told ETCFO in a phone interview.

The Indian IT companies have a strong foothold in the US and over the several years have adapted themselves well to the changing regulations there, the CFO indicated. “Even four years back, the tax rates in the US were 28 per cent only. We will just go back to that time,” Kulkarni said.

Lockdowns impact

The CFO stated that the lockdowns imposed by various states to contain virus, are unlikely to have a major bearing on Tech Mahindra’s operations, stating the company has learnt its way from last year’s experience of complete lockdown. “The processes related to work from home (WFH) are fully in place, and more than 95 per cent of the company’s associates are operating that way,” he said.

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation for businesses. The IT companies have benefitted from this trend. Tech Mahindra is expecting the momentum to hold up even as the fresh Covid disruptions return.

“Our deal pipeline is looking extremely positive and progressive. They are driven by cloud transformation, as well as modernisation and migration opportunities, which make up 65-70 per cent of the business as we go forward. We are significantly ramping up on that front,” Mitra said.

M&A and capital allocation

Tech Mahindra’s CFO Kulkarni said the virus will not deter the company’s M&A plans. Tech Mahindra, which in April, acquired US-headquartered consulting service company Eventus for $44 million, and hybrid cloud provider DigitalOnUs for $120 million, will be open for more acquisitions as and when the company feels the need to scale up its capabilities.

The finance executive also said the company’s capital allocation policy will remain unaffected by the virus and that Tech Mahindra will continue to strongly reward its shareholders.

“FY21, we declared a dividend which is 95 per cent of profit after tax; we returned 68 per cent of cash inflows. We are quite liberal in terms of returning money to shareholders. We have surplus funds to about $1.5 billion, that’s why we are able to return so much to shareholders despite acquisitions and normal capex. We will not change our policy in any manner,” Kulkarini said.

To counter Biden corporate tax increase, Tech M may do more offshoring: CFOEmployee support

The finance executive shared how Tech Mahindra is supporting employees during Covid-19 situation. He said the company has converted its many office campuses as Covid-19 facilities, has set up a 24*7 Covid-helpline for its 1.21 lakh employee base to help them arrange for beds, or oxygen support in case required, and has also tied up with private hospitals to cover vaccination of its employees.

Currently, 1-1.5 per cent of the company’s employee count is Covid infected, and the company is extending full support to them. “Also, we have tied up with private hospitals, and are further trying to import the vaccine,” the CFO said.

Tech Mahindra does not see any major hurdles on the supply side in vaccinating its employees, and is fully prepared to take care of them, signed off Chief Strategy Officer Jagdish Mitra.

China suspends economic dialogue with Australia

Source : economic times

China on Thursday suspended an economic dialogue with Australia, stepping up a pressure campaign that began over Australian support for a probe into the origins of the coronavirus.

Beijing also has blocked imports of Australian coal, wheat, wine and other goods, plunging relations to a multi-decade low. But it has failed to force Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government to offer concessions.

The Chinese government accused Australia of taking steps “to disrupt normal exchanges“ due to a “Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination.”

Beijing will “indefinitely suspend all activities” under the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue, said a statement by the Cabinet’s planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.

China holds such dialogues with Australia, the United States and some other governments to discuss trade disputes and other economic issues.

`This is unfortunate. We do need dialogue with China,“ said Australian opposition leader Anthony Albanese in Sydney. “It can’t be just on their terms, though. It’s got to be on both countries’ terms.’

China’s relations with Australia, India and some other neighbors are increasingly strained by the ruling Communist Party’s assertiveness abroad, including claims to disputed territory and accusations Beijing is trying to influence politics in Australia and other Western democracies.

China blocked imports of most Australian goods last year after its government called for an investigation into the coronavirus, which emerged in central China in late 2019.

Chinese ministers refuse to take calls from their Australian counterparts.

China is Australia’s No. 1 foreign market, but the sanctions impact has been limited because Chinese steel mills still buy Australian iron ore, the country’s most valuable export.

Last month, Australia canceled two deals signed by the state government of Victoria with Beijing’s multibillion-dollar “Belt and Road” construction initiative on “national interest” grounds.

The Australian foreign minister said the step didn’t target “any one country,” but Beijing warned it might retaliate.

Indian startups – the real story

Source : IntoIndia

Globally start-up names have become common in our lives – twenty years ago, today’s top names such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, WeChat, Baidu, Uber, Ola, Instagram, Slack, PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, Flipkart etc. did not exist or barely made a mark in the mind of consumers. These brands have made it to the top of the valuation charts over the last two decades.

Each firm named above has been funded by the elite global VC and Private Equity firms. This trend continues.

India is still in the catch-upstage of having an organised and monitored ecosystem for its indigenous start-ups. In the Indian start-up ecosystem local ideas and local capital pools locally are mismatched.

Although Indian Angel and Seed investors have been on the rise, risk appetite has not increased.

What is needed to encourage investment? Local investors need a curator who will qualify founders, whet business models and create capacity building. This will allow deep tech to grow locally.

The areas that Indian needs to develop more efficiency in are BFSI (Banking, financial services and insurance), CPG(Consumer Packaged Goods), Smart Infrastructure, Health Care, Real Estate, Defence & Aerospace.

BFSI and Health Care have many start-up names where optimisation and efficiency levels have shown some improvement but many existing large players in Banking and Health Care are dependent on legacy systems which will require a large capex to upgrade.

In CPG & Smart Infrastructure there are fragmented players. Real Estate has many platforms, but they are part of a broken ecosystem as they are mainly matching and advertising platforms. Defence and Aerospace are a restricted sector due to government controls. However, India needs local start-ups to provide the “make & made in India” technology. This is urgently needed.

India based or born start-ups include PayTm, FlipKart, Ola, Oyo, Baiju, Swiggy, Zometo, Grofers, Nyakaa etc. They are all 10-12 years old. None of them have a dominant market share and are burning funds to acquire customers.

With a few exceptions, founders’ stakes are diluted below 15% ownership. I am OK with equity dilution as founders may have faced challenges initially to raise capital. However, if these early-stage capital pools were raised within India and in INR (Indian rupee) that would be preferable to an infusion of USD denominated funds.

Today hardly any start-ups are indigenously funded onshore in India. This is changing. Select names such as Lets Venture, angel groups which are city centric and micro-VC firms have started to commit between $100K to $1 Million in pre-seed or seed rounds.

India needs few hundred start-up names to work along with platforms like Lets Venture and a few more to provide risk capital.

Accelerators are scarce and should be encouraged to scale rapidly as well.

India also needs a centralised monitoring system on how start-ups are faring and what kind of ecosystem support is needed. These platforms can keep an eye on the progress of start-ups and create visibility and business opportunities for start­ups by bringing synergistic players on.

For example, start-ups can raise initial capital and receive visibility on the platform. They are then discovered by larger enterprises that need their services. Such platforms can be initially funded by enterprises (mid to Large) who shall have first access to the innovations of the nurtured start-ups.

Sector Analysis for India

CPG and Retail

There are four big players: Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket, Reliance. The first three are attacking the market from an e-commerce angle with an internet front end paired with a warehouse back end. They negotiate hard with CPG players and offer attractive lower prices to consumers to as well as home delivery. The fourth, Reliance Retail has tied up with Kirana stores for last mile delivery and storage. However, Kirana may lose its business to Reliance Retail in the distant future.

Both the models pose challenges to existing small stores. Today 85% of FMCG & CPG sales are in single or small stores while Ecom and organised retail have a combined market share around 15% (other names like Delhivery, ShopX, Udaan, RingRing are still growing while some have given up).

BFSI

This is the most active and largest sector where digital offerings have taken the front row. Frontend players like Digital Lending / Neo Banks/ Payments/ Foreign Exchange offer services which compete with large banks and lenders. There are many players who digitise middle and back-ops for fintechs, lenders and banks.

Competition is fierce and it is a dog-eat-dog market where service levels and delivery are key as pricing is dictated via negotiated deals. Barriers to entry are also high. Large entrants such as Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Phone Pe Bharat Pe have been more visible than silent players like Razor Pay, Pine Labs, Pay U etc. New Neo Banks have been creating a buzz as well (Epify, Jupiter, Niyo, Ocare etc). I have not factored in Jio, but they have big plans in BFSI.

Smart Infrastructure

One of the biggest markets with select international players in this market as local start-ups do not have enough funding yet. Personally, I would watch this segment carefully as new Indian players enter.

Health Care

This is now a most vibrant sector thanks to the recent pandemic Covid19. Vaccine creation to efficient delivery is a large and needed segment. Connecting the health of each individual (with assessment) into a seamless hospital, insurance and finance model will make a positive impact on many lives. Today we have cashless health insurance, but it is a fragmented system. Start-ups are better positioned to offer a solution to repair such an awkward process.

Real Estate

Real Estate is also a broken system in India. Renting or purchasing needs to be repaired as the experience is not seamless. Only some parts are digitised, and none offers an end-to-end service. This is a totally broken experience and must be repaired end to end.

Conclusion

The Indian market of 1.4 Billion people needs many start-ups to create products and services which suits the needs of Indian people. The road ahead in India and South Asia is extremely optimistic as start-ups can simplify, digitise and link together transactions.

The market opportunity is vast but initial funding needs to be localised and customised to the India based entrepreneur. More platforms that can offer funding, visibility, sales and exit needs to be encouraged.

India’s processed food market to grow to US$ 470 billon: KPMG

Source : IBEF

According to a report released on Thursday by KPMG, the Indian processed food market is projected to expand to US$ 470 billion by 2025, up from US$ 263 billion in 2019-20.

According to the study, the pandemic has established a new standard marked by sustainable food chains, an increasing preference for organic foods, and localised food supply with higher trade barriers.

The report stated that innovative wellness, fitness, and nutrition items are expected to see a lot of traction in the domestic market. The approach to catalysing market development is to embrace a collaborative approach.

It added stating that the government partnerships with private players through adequate PPP models should be taken to ensure a rapid scale up of infrastructure facilities in line with industry demands.

The post-COVID-19 environment plays an essential role for India’s food processing industry, as it reshapes, allowing India to capitalise on new opportunities, optimise its strategy, and prepare for new markets.

According to the report, the government’s Production Linked Scheme (PLI) Scheme is likely to encourage players and improve their processing capacities in order to meet increasing demand.

“Complimentary markets such as ingredients, food processing equipment, food logistics, and food packaging have a great potential. Players, especially MSMEs, would need greater testing and certification infrastructure and improve efficiency and meet hygiene needs on a massive scale.” The report added that the market for processed foods is projected to continue to be driven by rural areas and tier 2/3 cities. As the industry recovers from the effects of COVID-19, the Hotel/Restaurant/Café (HoReCa) segment would be essential.

Major economies are likely to use non-tariff measures such as rigorous sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPSs) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) to ensure food security against transmitted chemicals and diseases in the post- COVID-19 period.

Across the whole value chain, there has been a noticeable change from non-sustainable to sustainable food systems. The use of organic and bio-ingredients in the food supply chain has also increased steadily. According to the survey, India’s food processing exports have remained steady

India’s exports to the top ten food-importing countries in the world has considerable potential. Fisheries, meat and marine, and dairy are three major prospective segments.

The report stated that negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs), lowering non-tariff barriers (NTBs), and expediting the introduction of duty remission are a few ways that the government can boost exporters.

The report further added that there is a significant need to increase cold storage capacity to boost perishable product scalability. India could eliminate wastage during storage and transit by implementing a digital supply chain, smart warehousing, and logistics using industry 4.0 technologies. With a value addition of US$ 1.7 trillion, the food processing sector is one of the world economy’s standouts.

Red tape slashed on grants to support Australian exporters

Source : trademinister

The Morrison Government is cutting more red tape to make it easier to do business, with the release today of simpler rules to access export grants.

The Government’s simplified rules for the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program will ensure Australian small and medium enterprises are supported to start exporting and grow new markets, leading to jobs and opportunities.

The simplified process will have:

Simpler applications requiring less documentation;
Apply once for grants of two to three years, not annually as under the current scheme;
Funding will be specified in the grant agreement;
A new, simpler online application portal.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the reforms would give upfront funding certainty to exporters before they committed to international marketing activities.

“Australia is a trading nation, and the export of our high-quality goods and services supports jobs and businesses in our country,” Mr Tehan said.

“Our Government is supporting Australian businesses to compete and succeed internationally. We provided more than $192 million to more than 4,000 Australian businesses to support their exporting activities through the EMDG program in 2019-20;  these businesses employed more than 70,000 people and generated around $4.3 billion in export income.

“Cutting red tape around the EMDG program will help more businesses take advantage of our Government’s support.”

International success story, Marr Contracting entered its first overseas market, Qatar, in 2008 with the backing of an EMDG grant. It now boasts ongoing projects in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the Dominican Republic and has just completed work on the world’s longest suspension bridge. The Canakkale 1915 Bridge crosses the Dardanelles strait, connecting with the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.

“Working with Austrade to enter new international markets has allowed us to grow our business and future-proof it against the ups and downs of local markets and sectors,” Marr Contracting Managing Director Simon Marr said.

“We’re now a global business with the ability to work across multiple regions and sectors, ensuring we can grow our business sustainably.”

Austrade continues to work with exporters and stakeholders to design a streamlined EMDG experience from application through to payment, employing digital innovation. The new EMDG rules are available at: www.austrade.gov.au/emdg

Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) is working to identify Traditional Organic Areas to transform them into certified organic production hubs

Source: IBEF

“Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) is working to identify Traditional Organic Areas to transform them into certified organic production hubs. The Government of India has certified 14,491 ha of such area under Car Nicobar and Nancowry group of islands in UT of A&N Islands. This area becomes the first large contiguous territory to be conferred with organic certification under the ‘Large Area Certification’ (LAC) scheme of the PGS-India (Participatory Guarantee System) certification programme.

Car Nicobar and Nancowry group of Islands have been traditionally organic for ages. The administration has also banned the sale, purchase and usage of any chemical inputs of GMO seeds in these islands. The administration of UT in collaboration with local communities prepared the island-wise and farmer wise database of land holding, practices being adopted, input usage history etc. An expert committee has verified their organic status and recommended for declaration of the area as certified organic under the PGS-India certification programme. Based on these reports, the Government of India certified 14,491 ha area under Car Nicobar and Nancowry group of islands in UT of A&N Islands.

Besides these islands, agriculture areas in States like Himachal, Uttarakhand, North Eastern states and tribal belts of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, desert districts of Rajasthan which are essentially free from the use of chemical inputs can be transformed to certified organic. Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) in consultation with states is working to identify such areas, transform them to certified organic and facilitate the marketing of area-specific niche products through branding and labelling.

Additionally, to bring isolated individual farmers to the certified organic fold, DAC&FW has also launched an organic certification support scheme under PKVY (Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana). Under the scheme, individual farmers can avail financial assistance for certification under any of the prevailing certification systems of NPOP or PGS-India. Assistance will be available as reimbursement of certification cost directly to certification agencies through the states.

After A&N Islands, UTs of Lakshadweep and Ladakh are proactively taking steps for the transformation of their traditional organic areas to certified organic. Armed with organic certification these hitherto unexplored areas will have direct access to the emerging organic food market of the country.

Targeting Traditional Agricultural Area to Organic through Large Area Certification:

Despite deep inroads of modern agricultural practices, still, there are large contiguous areas in hills, tribal districts, desert and rained areas in India that continue to remain free from chemical input usage. With little efforts, such traditional/ default organic areas can be brought under organic certification almost immediately. Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare under its flagship scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY) has launched a unique quick certification programme “Large Area Certification” (LAC) to harness these potential areas.

As per the established norm of organic production systems, the areas having chemical input usage history are required to undergo a transition period of minimum 2-3 years to qualify as organic. During this period, farmers need to adopt standard organic agriculture practices and keep their farms under the certification process. On successful completion, such farms can be certified as organic after 2-3 years. The certification process also requires elaborate documentation and time to time verification by the certification authorities. Whereas under LAC requirements are simple and the area can be certified almost immediately. LAC is a Quick certification process that is cost-effective and farmers do not have to wait for 2-3 years for marketing PGS organic certified products.

Under LAC, each village in the area is considered as one cluster/group. Documentations are simple and maintained village-wise. All farmers with their farmland and livestock need to adhere to the standard requirements and on being verified get certified en-mass without the need to go under conversion period. Certification is renewed on annual basis through annual verification by a process of peer appraisals as per the process of PGS-India.

Background

Organic farming has been identified as a viable option promising safe and chemical residue-free food and long-term sustainability of food production systems. COVID-19 pandemic has further augmented the importance, need and demand. World over the demand for organic food is growing and India is no exception. Realising the importance of environmental and human benefits of chemical-free farming, the Government of India through the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has been promoting organic/ natural farming through various schemes of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, Organic Mission in North East etc. since 2014. India now has more than 30 lakh ha area registered under organic certification and slowly more and more farmers are joining the movement. As per the international survey report (2021) India ranks at 5th place in terms of area and is at the top in terms of total number of producers (base year 2019).”

Tech Mahindra to acquire Eventus Solutions Group for up to $44 million

Source: hr.economictimes.indiatimes

“IT major Tech Mahindra on Monday said it has acquired US-based Eventus Solutions Group for up to $44 million (around Rs 330 crore). Tech Mahindra, through its wholly-owned subsidiary – Tech Mahindra (Americas) Inc, has approved the proposal to acquire 100% equity shares in Eventus Solutions Group, LLC, a regulatory filing said.

The acquisition will bolster consulting capabilities in customer experience (CX) and customer management space and will enable Tech Mahindra to build an industry leading consulting practice and move up the value chain in the BPS business, it added.

The transaction is expected to close by June 15, 2021.”

Wipro pips HCL Tech in m-cap to become third most-valued Indian IT firm

Source: IBEF

“On Friday, Wipro recaptured the third most valuable information technology (IT) business in India, surpassing HCL Technologies in terms of market capitalization (market-cap).

Wipro was ranked 12th in the overall m-cap ranking at 09:37 a.m., with an m-cap of Rs. 2.65 trillion (US$ 35.28 billion). Meanwhile, according to BSE info, HCL Technologies has stood at number 13 with an m-cap of Rs. 2.62 trillion (US$ 34.89 billion).

After an 18-month period, Wipro has reclaimed this position. Wipro had a market capitalization of Rs. 1.449 trillion (US$ 19.29 billion) on October 22, 2019, while HCL Technologies had a market capitalization of Rs. 1.444 trillion (US$ 19.23 billion).

According to data, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is the most valuable IT company, with a market capitalization of Rs. 11.47 trillion (US$ 152.72 billion), followed by Infosys (Rs 5.72 trillion (US$ 76.16 billion)).

Wipro’s share hit a new high of Rs. 494.50 (US$ 6.58) on Thursday, up 16% in the last five trading days, after the company posted healthy sales growth and margins in the IT services sector in March (Q4FY21). HCL Technologies, on the other hand, was down 2% over the same time period. On January 13, the stock reached an all-time high of Rs. 1,073.55 (US$ 14.29). The company is expected to release its Q4FY21 results today.

Wipro delivered solid results for the third quarter in a row, driven by robust volume growth, after a period of modest growth in recent years.

According to analysts at Edelweiss Securities, “”Wipro’s turnaround has been aided by the new CEO’s approach, as well as a solid demand market. Improved execution, in addition to these, is expected to drive earnings in the future.” Overall, the brokerage firm is positive about the demand environment and keeps its ‘BUY’ rating on the stock, with a target price of Rs. 550 (US$ 7.32) unchanged.

The primary highlights of the period, according to ICICI Securities, were positive deal wins, up 16.7% quarter on quarter (QoQ) to US$ 1.4 billion, a positive net addition of 7,404 hires, and higher offshore, up 180 basis points to 54.5%. It added, “IT services revenues are expected to be in the range of US$ 2,195 – 2,238 million in Q1FY22E, representing 2.0-4.0% QoQ growth. The forecast excludes Capco and Ampion’s reported acquisitions.”

Wipro, according to the brokerage firm, has all of the main ingredients for long-term development. It added, “”In addition, increased deal wins, increased demand in Europe, client mining, the acquisition of new logos, and traction in digital revenues all augur well for sales growth.”” As a result, we are optimistic on the stock in the long run.””

Winning in India – less about sales and more about culture and relationships

Source: Into India

When a company sends a salesperson into the Indian market, the goal is to fill the order book as quickly as possible – there is no time for that person to build ongoing relationships.

The result at best is a quick transaction based on price. It rarely lasts.

India is a country where relationships drive and impact all aspects of business. That is “how they do things there” and expect us to be the same.

Some tips for relationship building in these tough times:

You can build good relationships during Covid by hosting a zoom or similar catchup to see how things are going – no big agenda, just share experiences and listen.
You can join groups and chambers and be seen as a player.
You can accept the intangibility of relationships and give your key executives time and resources to build them.
You can look up Indian culture, architecture and history so you can have informal conversations about things close to their heart.
You will need strong curiosity and listening skills.
Really, decisions about future business with India need to be C-Suite and Boardroom driven, based around a minimum three-year strategy. And giving your people the right to spend time on the intangible of relationships is the best first step.

Come on India and Australia – time for an FTA to be number 1 priority

Source: Into India

It is great to see so much friendship and collaboration between India and Australia – but it is time to go to another level and have a serious shot at getting a free-trade agreement between the two countries.

Here’s 3 reasons why an FTA is now urgent:

India wants greater access to Australia’s resources.

Australia wants alternatives to China for resources and wine.

India wants investment and Australia has huge funds under management.

Patience around the FTA has been a good approach but now we have to step up the pace and get on with it.

We need some form of harvest agreements to take the heat out of agriculture – which is always a super-hot political topic in India.

Also, India seriously wants investment flows and Australia has not been forthcoming. Time for the Australian Government to lead our huge investment funds into India.

The reality is – close relations in trade mostly follow investment, and Australia has not invested heavily in India.

Wine barriers to India are huge – there is a 150% tariff – and yet wines like Orlando Jacob’s Creek have done well there.

One problem for India is they are encouraging their own wine industry, typically at the low end of the market. Perhaps they can free up tariffs on high end wine imports?

The relationship between Prime Ministers Modi and Morrison is close and could be a building block for an FTA.

Let’s put it top of the agenda!

Australia launches grant program to widen Indo-Pacific partnership with India

Source: Defence aviation

Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell, has launched the Australia-India Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative Partnership (AIIPOIP) grant program to help support a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific underpinned by the rule of law and respect for sovereignty.

“This AUD 1.4 million (INR 8.12 crore) grant program is a practical initiative to advance Australia and India’s shared vision for the Indo-Pacific”, O’Farrell said on Monday while launching the program.

“Through this program, we are seeking new proposals on how Australia, India and other regional partners can advance our shared maritime objectives”, he added.

The AIIPOIP grants program will help deliver practical outcomes under the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 14th East Asia Summit in November 2019.

“Australia is proud to be co-leading with India the marine ecology pillar of the IPOI,” O’Farrell said.

The first phase of this multi-year grant program will encourage proposals from Australian and Indian stakeholders to share expertise and resources, complementing the work under existing regional mechanisms such as ASEAN, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and the Pacific Islands Forum.

AIIPOIP is an outcome of the Australia-India Joint Declaration on a Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, signed by Australia’s Foreign Minister Senator the Hon Marise Payne and India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar in June 2020, as part of the Australia-India Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership Agreement.

More details on the program, priority areas and grant guidelines can be found on the Australian High Commission website Australia-India Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative Partnership: Grant Round 1

Austrade helps Australian road-tech company accelerate into India

Source: Austrade

Road safety technology company Acusensus is on a mission to reduce road deaths globally – and it recently cracked the Indian market. Key success factors included:

Finding a local partner with shared corporate values
Working with Austrade to gain introductions to state and federal officials.
‘I think India provides a really unique opportunity to make an impact with our technology,’ says Alexander Jannink, Acusensus Managing Director. ‘It is a market that is in some ways challenging … but it’s also a market that is eager to work with Australian companies.’

Austrade is helping Australian businesses expand into India through the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) program. Find out how to get involved. Contact Austrade online or call 13 28 78.

Australian road-safety AI gains global traction
When Alexander Jannink’s friend was killed by a distracted driver in the US, Jannink saw an opportunity to improve road safety. Across the world, around 1.35 million people die each year due to road traffic accidents, according to the World Health Organisation. Distracted driving – which includes using a mobile phone – is increasingly a leading cause of deaths.

In 2018, Jannink and Ravin Mirchandani co-founded Acusensus to develop an automated camera system that could capture dangerous driving behaviour. The company developed and deployed the world’s first mobile phone enforcement program in New South Wales, which went live in 2019. Acusensus’s solutions harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive behavioural change.

With its vision of making a global impact, Acusensus is now working with governments and transport authorities in Europe, the US, Southeast Asia and the United Arab Emirates.

Three years of steady engagement pay off in India
India has a high rate of road accidents, with an estimated 299,000 road deaths per year, according to the World Health Organisation. Meanwhile, Acusensus was keen to enter the market.

Over several years Austrade arranged introductions to well-placed Indian federal and state government officials. In early 2021, Acusensus’s first deployment in India went live, after three years of planning and negotiation.

‘Winning this important contract would not have been possible without Austrade’s advice and support,’ says Ravin Mirchandani, Acusensus Chairman.

A test bed for Australian technology

The Indian Government has installed a ‘road safety corridor’ along a 30-kilometre stretch of road modelled on an Australian road corridor, as part of the Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project. Acusensus has now deployed a speed-enforcement system along the corridor. It comprises radar-based mobile speed enforcement camera trailers and fixed installations.

In partnership with Ador, India’s largest provider of traffic safety and enforcement solutions, Acusensus developed the solution for the Indian market. It requires minimal power and no fibre optic data cables. Acusensus also worked closely with SaveLIFE Foundation, an Indian not-for-profit working to improve road safety.

‘By being involved on the ground innovating for and with India, we believe we can make a huge difference in starting to bring down the road toll,’ says Jannink. ‘We also hope this will open doors for other model safety corridor projects that can involve other Australian companies.’

 

Four keys to success in India
Four factors were critical to Acusensus’s success:

Selecting a partner with shared values
Acusensus’s partnership with Ador was especially important during COVID-19, because the Acusensus team couldn’t travel to India.

‘Choice of partner is critical, so don’t rush it,’ says Mirchandani. ‘Find a partner that aligns with your values.

‘Keep in mind that a lot of the work a local partner is doing on the ground isn’t being seen. So being aligned on values helps with that trust and communication.’

Designing a market-specific solution
Mirchandani says Indian governments are receptive to Australian technology, particularly in road safety.

‘Market-focused technology is critical,’ says Jannink. ‘Take the market seriously and understand it is different and probably needs a unique approach.’

‘It is a market that is in some ways challenging but it has the ability to provide a great set of opportunities for a business,’ says Mirchandani. ‘It is also a market that is eager to work with Australian companies.’

Having patience in the process
Mirchandani comments that a strategic approach often works best in India. This means taking a long-term view and adopting a step-by-step approach.

‘India is a market that requires investment to understand the local context of where you can make a difference, and … to align your offering with that,’ he says.

Leveraging local connections
Building personal relationships with the right people in India has been vital for Acusensus.

‘That’s where Austrade has played a really important role,’ says Jannink. ‘We’ve worked with Austrade not just in India but across the world in a lot of the emerging markets we’re looking for.

‘Austrade can facilitate a warm introduction, which makes it so much easier. It ensures a softer landing.’

Austrade networks generate vital contacts in India
Acusensus’s relationship with Austrade goes back to the company’s very beginning. Austrade connected Jannink with Mirchandani when he was looking to establish the business in 2017. Since then, Austrade has provided market knowledge, facilitated connections and assisted with funding access throughout the company’s export journey.

‘Austrade’s network has been phenomenally helpful,’ says Jannink. ‘With Austrade, you don’t have to go it alone. There are skilled people who can help you articulate what you’re wanting to achieve and support you in finding the best market.’

Looking ahead, Acusensus is leveraging its success in India to enter new markets.

‘The unique speed enforcement solution we developed for India has presented major opportunities to export into other emerging markets, particularly Africa,’ says Mirchandani.

Africa has the highest rates of road deaths in the world. Acusensus hopes to bring its innovative Australian technology to improve road safety and ultimately save lives.

How Austrade can help
Austrade is ramping up initiatives to help Australian companies export to India. This is because opportunities are growing fast.

Market liberalisation is affecting multiple sectors of the Indian economy – from mining to passenger transport. India is on target to become a US$5 trillion economy by 2025.

To help Australian businesses explore and pursue opportunities, the Australian Government has launched the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) program.

AIBX provides insights, advice, and business connections to grow two-way trade and investment between Australia and India. 

Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative: Australia announces Rs 8.12 crore grant under its partnership with India

Source: Zee News India

New Delhi: As India and Australia increase engagement under the Indo-Pacific vision, Canberra on Monday (April 19, 2021) announced a Rs 8.12 crore grant under the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).

The IPOI was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the East-Asia Summit in November 2019 and Australia is co-leading New Delhi in the marine ecology pillar of the initiative.

Barry O’Farrell, the Australian High Commissioner to India, while launching the grant said, “This AUD 1.4 million (INR 8.12 crore) grant program is a practical initiative to advance Australia and India’s shared vision for the Indo-Pacific.”

He added, “Through this program, we are seeking new proposals on how Australia, India and other regional partners can advance our shared maritime objectives.”

Back in June 2020, after the virtual summit of Indian and Australian PMs, foreign ministers S Jaishankar and Marise Payne had signed the Joint Declaration on a ‘Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific’.

The Australia-India Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative Partnership forms the core of this ‘shared vision’ of both countries.

To apply for the grant, the company or organization should be located in either India or Australia and have partners in either of the two countries. Up to $350,00 is anticipated to be available for allocation in 2020-21 and all applications will be assessed on a competitive basis.

This is to be noted that France last week, during the visit of its foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, had joined the ‘Maritime Resources’ pillar of the IPOI, which was also welcomed by India.

India’s top ten business cities and what they are known for

Source: IntoIndia

Mumbai – beautiful, never sleeps, the financial and commercial capital of India

Mumbai

Mumbai is the ultimate commercial and financial city of India – a true 24/7 powerhouse that never sleeps. It houses the headquarters of a large number of major Indian companies like Tata Group, Reliance Industries, Aditya Birla Group, Larsen & Toubro, Godrej Group, and Hindustan Petroleum among others. The city is also the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of India, National Stock Exchange, Bombay Stock Exchange, and – yes – Bollywood.

GDP (PPP) – 310.0 billion

Delhi

Delhi is the National Capital of India – and on a global scale, it is one of the great capitals of the world. It is also the most populous city in the country. Being the political center, Delhi is home to all the prominent political personalities and officeholders including the President, the Prime Minister, and distinguished ministries. Delhi is a metropolitan city and attracts a large part of the population from all the states. With the ever-growing rates of urbanisation, the city accommodates everyone and has a diversified economy.

GDP (PPP) – 293.6 billion

Kolkata

Kolkata – oh yes, I know it has a reputation as relaxed or even sleepy – but it was the capital of British India and houses India’s oldest stock exchange. Most people are not aware that more than 83 percent of the city’s population is employed in the tertiary sector. Kolkata is the third richest city in South Asia after Mumbai and Delhi. Kolkata is a house of many Indian corporations like Coal India Limited, ITC Limited, Britannia Industries, Allahabad Bank, National Insurance Company, and United Bank of India among others.

GDP (PPP) – 150.1 billion

Chennai

Chennai is one of India’s great southern cities with all the manners, politeness, and conservatism that goes with it. It is the capital city of Tamil Nadu and sits by the Bay of Bengal. Given its glorious history and its significance as Madras Presidency during the British rule, Chennai is historically and culturally rich and diverse, attracting tourism in turn. Besides being a pioneer in art, culture, and music.

GDP (PPP) – 110.0 billion

Bengaluru

Bengaluru used to be called the “garden city” but today is better known for massive traffic jams. It has a “young” feel and houses some of India’s most trendy eating and drinking establishments. It contributes more than 35 percent of India’s IT exports. The city also houses some major manufacturing industries like Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited, and Bharat Earth Movers Limited among others. Infosys and Wipro have their headquarters in Bengaluru. The city is home to 8 billionaires.

GDP (PPP) – 86.0 billion

Hyderabad

Hyderabad comes across first as located in a dry and rocky area – but the city is known for its rich history, food, and its multi-lingual culture, both geographically and culturally. The city has an estimated population of around 8 million, making it the 4th largest city in India, while the population of the metropolitan area was estimated above 9 million. Religiously and culturally, the city is united with Hindus, Muslims, and Christians.

GDP (PPP) – 75.2 billion

Pune

Pune, a place for learning, thinking, and doing. Pune is a city located in the western Indian state of Maharashtra and now closely linked with Mumbai. It is the 8th largest city in India and the second largest in Maharashtra. India’s first Prime Minister called Pune “The Oxford of the East” because Pune attracts students from all over the world. There are a large number of good schools in Pune affiliated either with the Maharashtra State SSC Board or the All-India Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and CBSE boards.

GDP (PPP) – 69.0 billion

Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad was the historic home of Gandhi’s famous ashram and is now a dynamic commercial hub – it is one of the fastest-growing cities and is one of the best cities to live in. Ahmedabad is an economic and industrial hub of India and is the largest city in Gujarat. There are several significant companies located in the city and the place is known for the textile industry. This city attracts a large number of tourists every year as there are several amazing monuments along with numerous modern buildings. Have fun – go there during the amazing kite festival.

GDP (PPP) – 68.0 billion

Surat

Surat is known by several names – the silk city, the diamond city, and the clean city – it is one of the cleanest cities in India and is the best developing urban community. Surat has the largest stone cutting and cleaning centers and is especially known for diamonds. Surat has a large textile industry and there are more than 380 dyeing and printing mills with 41,000 power looms.

GDP (PPP) – 59.8 billion

Visakhapatnam

Thankfully known by the shorter name of Vizag, this city manages to combine a powerful steel industry, major port, and lots of natural beauty. It is a great economic destination that is also known as the financial capital of Andhra Pradesh. This coastal city is also known for its medication, programming, and pharmaceutical industry.

GDP (PPP) – 43.5 billion

Mr. Piyush Goyal launches the Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme

Source: IBEF

“Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution Mr. Piyush Goyal today launched the Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS). The Fund aims to provide financial assistance to Start-ups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry, and commercialization. The Scheme was announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi on 16th January 2021 in his Grand Plenary address of ‘Prarambh: Start-up India International Summit’, marking the five-year anniversary of the Start-up India initiative. Rs. 945 Crore corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible Start-ups through eligible incubators across India. The scheme is expected to support an estimated 3,600 Start-ups through 300 incubators.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Goyal said that this scheme is being launched within 3 months of its announcement, one of the fastest in the recent times. He said that times are tough, but our resolve is strong, and never before has it become more important for us to empower our Start-ups.

The Minister said that the SISFS will Secure seed funding, Inspire innovation, Support transformative ideas, Facilitate implementation, and Start Start-up revolution. He said that this Scheme will create a robust Start-up ecosystem, particularly in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns of India, which are often deprived of adequate funding. The Minister said that he would like to especially encourage innovators from rural areas to come forward and benefit from this scheme.

Mr. Goyal said that under the guidance of Hon’ble PM Mr. Modi, DPIIT has worked tirelessly to bring a tectonic shift in the Start-up ecosystem in India. he assured that the department has been acting as the Facilitator, with Open door, Open Arms & Open Mind, encouraging largescale youth participation in the innovative activities.

The minister said that there has been change in approach, change in mindset from jobseekers to job providers, which is helping Start-ups to become the backbone of New India. He said that Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme will act as a bridge between ideas and their implementation. Independent & ambitious thinking in the Start-up ecosystem will encourage entrepreneurship and create a culture that will recognise innovation

Mr. Goyal said that 2020 is testament to the transformative potential of Indian Start-up- Start-ups with their energy &enthusiasm came up with efficient and cost effective solutions which ensured last mile supply of essential commodities across India. He lauded our young entrepreneurs for the ability, agility & dedication. He said that Indian Start-ups have been inculcating, incubating and innovating not only for the nation but for the humanity.

The minister said that with the motto of Connect, Collaborate & Catalyse, the Government has introduced initiatives like Start-up Innovation Challenges, National Start-up Awards, Ranking of States, SCO Start-up Forum, Prarambh etc.

The online portal created by DPIIT, for the scheme, will allow incubators to apply for funds under it. An Experts Advisory Committee (EAC) has been created by DPIIT to execute and monitor the Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme. Grants of up to Rs 5 Crores shall be provided to the eligible incubators selected by the EAC. The selected incubators shall provide grants of up to Rs 20 lakhs for validation of Proof of Concept, or prototype development, or product trials to Start-ups. Furthermore, investments of up to Rs 50 lakhs shall be provided to the Start-ups for market entry, commercialization, or scaling up through convertible debentures or debt-linked instruments. The detailed guidelines of the Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme are provided on the Start-up India portal (www.startupindia.gov.in).

The promising Start-ups that are supported at their early stages shall create huge employment opportunities for everyone. The Seed Fund Scheme also envisions to promote virtual incubation for Start-ups by enabling 300 incubators to support Start-ups from all corners of the country. The impact of this will be visible by the spur of innovations in tier 2 and tier 3 regions of India.”

L&T Completes 75 Years Of Construction, Mining Machinery Business

Source: IBEF

“On Monday, Larsen & Toubro announced that its construction and mining machinery business (CMB), one of the company’s oldest, has reached 75 years of operation.

During its 75-year association with the construction and mining industries, the company has supplied > 60,000 units of various equipment in the region, according to a statement.

These machines have helped to establish some of the country’s most beautiful landmarks and have made a major contribution to the country’s rising infrastructure.

Mr. S N Subrahmanyan, the CEO and managing director of Larsen & Toubro, said, “L&T has a history of developing essential equipment for accelerating progress and has been at the core of indigenous engineering design and manufacturing capabilities.”

He added, “Over the past 75 years, our construction and mining machinery company has been meeting the demanding needs of the mining and construction industries with ground-breaking equipment and excellent service records.”

Mr. Arvind K Garg, Executive Vice-President, L&T Construction and Mining Machinery, said, “For the last seven decades, we have made it our utmost priority to represent our valuable clients. For the growth of the nation, L&T has pioneered and implemented modern technologies, facilities, and practises. At this critical juncture, we want to express our gratitude to our customers for their support and patronage.” L&T developed its own ‘Make in India’ road machinery, including vibratory compactors and wheel loaders, based on its extensive expertise and experience gained since 1945. These machines, which were built and manufactured in India, are now assisting in road construction and highway production, allowing L&T to step closer to achieving the national goal of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat.'”

TCS, Infosys, Wipro, others plan to hire 1.1 lakh this year from campuses as clients go digital

Source: IBEF

“In 2021, India’s top five IT companies aim to recruit in large numbers to meet the increasing demands for talent who can work on projects remotely for customers looking to digitally transform their businesses. TCS, India’s largest outsourcer, expects to employ > 40,000 employees from campuses in 2021, while Infosys is expected to hire nearly 25,000, according to the Economic Times.

Wipro, which has not published a hiring schedule, has stated that it will hire more employees this year than last.

Last week, Infosys’ chief operating officer, Mr. Pravin Rao told analysts that “”growth has picked up”” and that “”most of the growth volumes are occurring in India, so there is vast potential for talent.””

According to analysts, companies such as TCS, Wipro, Infosys, HCL Technologies, and Tech Mahindra, will employ > 110,000 employees in 2021, up from a net addition of more than 90,000 jobs in 2020.

The business daily quoted Mr. Kamal Karanth, cofounder of specialist staffing agency Xpheno, “Due to higher expected attrition, fresher hiring plans, the emergence of pent-up demand, the return of IT investment, and a re-filling of vacancies to stabilise utilisation rates, FY22 has started with a hiring boost.”

 

Mr. Karanth said, “Last year, the top five outsourcers employed a total of 2.10 lakh people, with more than 1.20 lakh of those hired due to attrition.”

Though TCS had a record low attrition rate of 7.2% in the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal year, Infosys and Wipro’s attrition rates increased dramatically.

Both Bengaluru-based companies indicated that attrition would continue to climb and that they were implementing steps to retain employees.

“Attrition is expected to stay at this pace for the next one or two quarters,” said Mr. Rao of Infosys, as per the business daily.

“We are optimistic that with salary intervention, promotions, and other measures, we will be able to maintain it at this stage. We recruited 21,000 employees from campuses globally this year (FY21), and we expect to recruit 25,000 this year,” according to Mr. Rao.

 

Mr. Saurabh Govil, chief human resources officer of Wipro, said, “It is experiencing continued attrition and has pledged ability-based incentives for niche skill areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and domain experts.”

He said, “There is still a lot of pressure on us. The concept is to ring-fence key talent for our clients. This quarter, we hired 3,000 people on campus, and next quarter will be even bigger.”

Companies including DXC Technology, Mindtree, and others are also planning to increase hiring in the coming quarters to deal with higher attrition rates.

DXC Technology’s India managing director, Mr. Nachiket Sukhtankar, told the business daily that the company made offers to 7,000 people from campuses this year, up from 4,500 last year.

Mindtree chief executive, Mr. Debhashis Chatterjee said, “In the last year, the organisation hired 1,600 employees, including campus and lateral hires. I believe that over the next two years, we will see that number rise as we continue and add to ensure a good balance of campus and laterals.”

Attrition at Mindtree has been steadily decreasing over the last few years, at 12.5%.”

India marks four successful decades of scientific endeavour in Antarctica with the return of the 40th Scientific Expedition to Antarctica in April 2021

Source: IBEF

“The 40th Scientific Expedition to Antarctica (40-ISEA) hosted by the Ministry of Earth Sciences successfully returned to Cape Town on April 10, 2021, after completing a journey of ~12 thousand nautical miles in 94 days, including stopovers. This achievement concludes four successful decades of India’s scientific endeavour in the continent of peace and cooperation.

The 40-ISEA comprised Indian scientists, engineers, doctors, and technicians, who began their journey from the Mormugao Port of Goa to Antarctica on January 07, 2021. The team reached its destination station Bharati on February 27, 2021, and Maitri on March 08, 2021. Bharati and Maitri are India’s permanent research base stations in Antarctica. The stations are approachable only during the austral summer season between November and March. On its way to Antarctica, the voyage team deployed four autonomous Ocean Observing DWS (Directional Wave Spectra) wave drifters between 35-degree and 50-degree south latitudes in collaboration with Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) Hyderabad. The drifters would transmit real-time data of spectral characteristics of waves, sea surface temperatures, and sea-level atmospheric pressure to INCOIS, Hyderabad, which will help validate weather predictions in a big way.

The 40-ISEA was onboard the MV VasiliyGolovnin, a chartered ice-class vessel. It made stopovers at Cape Town for picking up helicopters and replenishing fuel and provisions and at the Indian research bases Bharati and Maitri for resupply and changeover of winter crew. The expedition positioned a team of 20 personnel at Bharati led by Mr. Atul Suresh Kulkarni from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism and 21 personnel at Maitri led by Mr. Ravindra Santosh More from the Indian Meteorological Department.

In the spirit of international cooperation in Antarctic science, MV VasiliyGolovnin took a slight denture while returning to Cape Town in March 2021 and successfully retrieved two remotely operated Norwegian Ocean observing instruments (a sea glider and sail buoy) at ~67 degrees South. These Ocean observing systems deployed during the onward journey and retrieval during the return voyage will help to fill in the gaps of the scantily available information in the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean.

The 40-ISEA was conducted under innumerable challenges due to the persisting Corona virus pandemic. Necessary measures were taken to keep the Antarctic free of coronavirus. The team was subjected to a stringent medical examination by the Goa Medical College before departure and was quarantined for 14 days before boarding the ship.

After accomplishing several scientific objectives, changeover of winter crew, and Bharati and Maitri’s resupply, the 40-ISEA Indian contingent returned to Cape Town on April 10, 2021, marking four decades of success of the country’s scientific endeavour in Antarctica.”

Flipkart to acquire online travel tech platform Cleartrip

Source: IBEF

“On Thursday, Flipkart, an ecommerce marketplace, announced to acquire Cleartrip, an online travel technology firm. Flipkart announced to purchase 100% shareholding of Cleartrip as the company expands its investments to broaden its digital commerce offerings for customers.

Cleartrip would keep operating as a separate brand, with all staff remaining in place, while working in conjunction with Flipkart to create technology solutions that make travel more convenient for customers. Mr. Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO of Flipkart Group, said, “For many customers, Cleartrip is identified with travel, and as we broaden and search for new aspects of technology, this investment would enable us strengthen our broad range of customer offerings.”

In a statement, he said, “”We welcome the Cleartrip team to the Flipkart Group with their extensive industry knowledge and technology expertise and look forward to delivering greater benefit and travel experiences for customers together.””

Cleartrip’s CEO and co-founder, Mr. Stuart Crighton said, “The platform has been a leader in leveraging technology to streamline the travel experience for its customers.”

He said, “We have become the chosen travel partner for consumers in a broad range of sectors across the region as a result of our product-driven emphasis. We’re thrilled to be a part of the Flipkart family, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this partnership can impact our customers and the travel industry at large.” The deal’s completion will be contingent on regulatory approvals.”

Australia’s lithium miners bank on brighter times ahead as prices soar

Source: Auto economictimes

“MELBOURNE: Australian-listed lithium miners are preparing for better times ahead, filings showed this week, as they outlined expansion plans in the wake of soaring prices for the raw material used in electric vehicle batteries.

Mineral Resources Ltd, Orocobre Ltd and Pilbara Minerals Ltd filed reports that pointed to a rebound in lithium demand, through better sales and building out new projects, flagging upbeat earnings as the reporting season begins next week.

The reports suggest that stimulus measures to combat the economic effects of COVID-19 are feeding through to the real economy and to electric vehicle sales.

China, the world’s biggest producer of battery chemicals, reported a sharp jump in economic growth in the first quarter, propelled by stronger demand at home and abroad and continued government support for smaller firms.

Mineral Resources said on Friday its lithium hydroxide plant in Western Australia was on track for commissioning in the second half of the year. It holds 40% of the joint venture with Albermarle Corp.

Orocobre had said on Wednesday that production of lithium carbonate from its Olaroz lithium operations in Argentina is sold out until the end of June 2022, although more will be available in the second half of the year as an expansion comes on line.

Galaxy Resources on Wednesday detailed plans to produce lithium carbonate at its Sal de Vida project in Argentina and updated investors on the amount of lithium reserves it has.

It plans to produce 10,700 tonnes per year of battery-grade lithium carbonate from late 2022, at an estimated capital cost of $153 million.

The expansion progress comes as prices for lithium carbonate have surged by nearly 140 percent over the past six months, half of that coming this year.

In Australia, prices of hard rock lithium, known as spodumene , lagged in the recovery, but have rallied by 50% since the start of March to $640 from as low as $380 late last year.”

Mr. Piyush Goyal chairs the first meeting of National Start-up Advisory Council

Source: IBEF

“Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution Mr. Piyush Goyal today chaired the first meeting of National Start-up Advisory Council (NSAC). Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had constituted the National Start-up Advisory Council to advise the Government on measures needed to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and Start-ups in the country to drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. Besides the ex-officio members, the council has a number of non-official members, representing various stakeholders such as founders of successful start-ups, veterans who have grown and scaled companies in India, persons capable of representing interest of investors into Start-ups, persons capable of representing interests of incubators and accelerators, representatives of associations of stakeholders of Start-ups and representatives of industry associations.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Goyal said that this council shall act as the guiding light for many budding Start-up entrepreneurs in India. He said that this is the first time in our nation’s history where such a high-powered team of people from the private sector and the Government have come together, so that ‘You take your own policy decisions’.

Appreciating the work done by the Start-ups in all sectors, for finding innovative solutions to various problems, Mr. Goyal said that India is hub of innovation & out-of-the-box thinking. He said that Start-up movement has stirred entrepreneurial spirit in last 5 years. “We have witnessed tremendous efforts by stakeholders right from national to block levels towards the realization of our Hon’ble PM’s ‘Start-up India’ vision'””.

Describing the Start-ups as the New Champions of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Mr. Goyal said that we have the potential to become World’s largest and most innovative Start-up ecosystem. He said that the Government has and will always be a supportive partner in charting progress of Indian Start-up ecosystem. Calling for making “Start-up India” a symbol of national partnership and national consciousness, the Minister stressed on the need to sow the seeds of entrepreneurship at school level to encourage students to innovate. He also called upon the successful entrepreneurs to take initiative to share their knowledge, experience, ideas and mentor students and youth. He said that there are innovative ideas with people in rural India, and Tier II and Tier III towns, waiting to be harnessed.

The Minister said that it is our collective responsibility to realise the objectives of ‘Start-up India: The Way Ahead’, which was launched by the Prime Minister in January this year. He said that this will help India reach a stage, where countries around the world would look to model their own Start-up ecosystems based on India’s achievements and will take ‘Start-up India’ to the Global Stage.

The minister said that the Government is ready to act as an ‘Enabler rather than Regulator’. He said that collectively, we have to maximise our efforts to minimise the problems & make sure that India’s cost-effective solutions are made available to serve the needs of the poorest.

During the meeting, the participants gave many meaningful insights into the Start-up ecosystem, and gave ideas and suggestions as to how this can be strengthened further through various measures.”

Citigroup To Exit Retail Banking From India and 12 Other Markets

Source: India dot com

“New Delhi: Citigroup Inc. plans to exit retail banking in 13 markets across Asia and the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. According to a Bloomberg report quoting bank statement, the bank will instead operate its consumer-banking franchise in both regions from four wealth centers in Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and London. Citigroup will exit its consumer franchises in Australia, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, the report further adds.

“This positions us to capture the strong growth and attractive returns the wealth-management business offers through these important hubs,” Fraser said in the statement.

In India, the bank has 35 branches and employs approximately 4,000 people in the consumer banking business.

On Thursday, the bank announced exiting from the consumer banking businesses in 13 countries, with its global CEO Jane Fraser attributing the decision to an absence of scale to compete in these geographies. Contours of the exit were not immediately known and the proposed exit from the consumer banking business will also need regulatory nods.

“There is no immediate change to our operations and no immediate impact to our colleagues as a result of this announcement. In the interim, we will continue to serve our clients with the same care, empathy and dedication that we do today,” Citi India”s Chief Executive Ashu Khullar said.

“… the sharpened strategy announced today will strengthen our ability to bring the full global power of Citi to our institutional clients, reinforcing our leading positions across corporate, commercial and investment banking, treasury and trade solutions, as well as markets and securities services,” he added.

Citi had entered India in 1902 and started the consumer banking business in 1985. Apart from the institutional banking business, it will continue to focus on offshoring or global business support rendered from centres in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai and Gurugram.

Khullar said India is a strategic talent pool for Citi and it will continue to grow the five ”Citi Solution Centers”. At present, there are postings for 4,000 jobs at the solution centres posted on its hiring website, officials said.

Citi had reported a post-tax net of Rs 4,912 crore for FY20 as against Rs 4,185 crore in the previous fiscal. Its retail bank serves people across the spectrum, including the salaried and the high networth individuals, through dedicated offerings.”

India adopting digital payments as Covid spurs rapid move away from cash

Source: INTOINDIA

“I am a big fan of The Hindu Business Line and one of their recent reports shows a big shift in India to digital payments – the cash economy, so long a burden for India, is dying out as a result of Covid and long-term Modi Government efforts.

This has massive positive implications for GST income for government.

Business Line reported that ACI Worldwide released a new report that indicated more than 70.3 billion real-time payments transactions were processed globally in 2020, a surge of 41 per cent compared to the previous year.

This comes as the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated trends away from cash and cheques towards greater reliance on real-time and digital payments, according to the study.

According to the report, India retained the top spot with 25.5 billion real-time payments transactions, followed by China with 15.7 bn transactions.

In 2020, the transaction volume share in India stood at 15.6 per cent and 22.9 per cent for instant payments and other electronic payments respectively, while paper-based payments had a considerable share of 61.4 per cent.

The report speculated that by 2024 the share of real-time payments volume in overall electronic transactions will exceed 50 per cent. This will further touch 71.7 per cent by 2025.

“India’s journey of creating a digital financial infrastructure has been characterized by collaboration between the government, the regulator, banks, and fintech. This has helped to advance the country’s goal of enabling financial inclusion and also provided rapid payment digitization for citizens. The pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of digital payments with many first-time users adopting digital payments and significant uplift by merchants,” said Kaushik Roy, VP, and head of product management, Asia, ME, and Africa, ACI Worldwide.”

India, France explore ways to boost cooperation in Indo-Pacific

Source: economic times

“India and France on Tuesday explored ways to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including under a trilateral mechanism with Australia to address emerging challenges in the maritime and space domains.

In the talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French side also decided to be part of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).

The two sides also recognised the importance of fast tracking the discussions on an India-EU trade and investment agreement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

The two foreign ministers held extensive talks covering all aspects of the bilateral strategic ties as well as regional and global challenges.

“”They explored ways to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including the India-France-Australia trilateral mechanism, addressing emerging challenges in the maritime and space domains and working together in the area of climate action and biodiversity protection,”” the MEA said.

“”In this regard, India welcomes France’s decision to take up the ‘Maritime Resources’ pillar of India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI),”” it said in a statement.

At the East Asia summit in Bangkok in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed setting up of the IPOI to conserve and sustainably use the maritime domain and to make meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain.

Meanwhile, a scheduled meeting between Le Drian and Modi did not take place on Tuesday. There was no official reason cited for it. However, it is learnt that it was done so as part of precautionary measures in view of the pandemic.

About the meeting between the two foreign ministers, the MEA said the they held discussions on a number of regional and global issues of mutual interest and reiterated their shared commitment to a multipolar world and faith in multilateralism.

The French minister arrived here on Monday evening on a three-day visit to explore ways to further boost cooperation between the two countries including in the Indo-Pacific region.

After the talks, Jaishankar said India and France will advance their shared post-COVID agenda through “”close collaboration””.

“”A comfortable, substantive and productive discussion with FM @JY_LeDrian. India and France will advance their shared post-COVID agenda through close collaboration,”” he tweeted.

French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain described the meeting as “”excellent””. “”Excellent meeting b/w @JY_LeDrian @francediplo_EN & @DrSJaishankar @MEAIndia. The ministers discussed all aspects of the bilateral strategic partnership, regional & global challenges and cooperation at the #UNSC,”” Lenain said in a tweet

The MEA said that in the context of the changes in a COVID-impacted world, both ministers recognised the immense opportunities for greater collaboration in diverse sectors such as trade and investments, defence and security, health, education, research and innovation, energy and climate change.

Bilateral trade with France has witnessed a steady rise in the last decade reaching USD 10.75 billion in 2020.

“”To tap the full potential of bilateral trade and economic relations, both sides recognised the importance of fast tracking the discussions on an India-EU trade and investment agreement,”” it said.

On Monday, the MEA said the visit by the French foreign minister will pave the way for further strengthening of bilateral partnership across trade, defence, climate, migration and mobility, education and health sectors in the post-COVID-19 context.

The French embassy said Le Drian is undertaking the visit to strengthen strategic ties between France and India, boost cooperation in several fields, particularly the Indo-Pacific.

The defence and security ties between India and France are on an upswing in the last few years.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafales, has delivered 14 jets to the Indian Air Force so far.”

India looks forward to advance talks for investment facilitation pact with EU: Piyush Goyal

Source: economictimes

“India is keen to advance talks with the European Union (EU) towards an agreement on investment facilitation and protection for mutually beneficial outcome, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday. The minister also emphasised on the need for proportional and simultaneous discussions on both trade and investment so that the two sides have a balanced outcome.

Further, Goyal called for an early harvest agreement and addressing non-tariff barriers between the two sides. He said this while addressing the ambassadors of the EU member states today. “”India looks forward to advance the negotiations towards an agreement between India and EU on investment facilitation and protection for mutually beneficial outcome,”” he said. He also informed that India has sent more than 65 million COVID-19 vaccines to over 80 countries around the world.

Goyal also said that India has proposed TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) waiver at WTO (World Trade Organisation) for a limited period so that humanity at large could have access to the COVID-19 related products, and sought the support of the EU on the issue. EU countries collectively are the largest trading partner for India, as well as one of the largest investors.”

Mr. Piyush Goyal launches “DGFT Trade Facilitation App” for Providing instant access to Exporters/Importers any-time anywhere

Source: IBEF

“Minister for Railways and Commerce & Industry and Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Mr. Piyush Goyal, today launched DGFT ‘Trade Facilitation’ Mobile App during the online video conference, for promoting ease of doing business and providing quick access to information to importers/exporters.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Piyush Goyal said that very often, the simple trade-related process becomes cumbersome, and when they are available with a touch of a button, like with a mobile app, we will ensure the Ease of doing business and the speedy growth in international trade. “We desire to move towards paperless, automated processing systems, simple procedures for trade players, online data exchange between departments & digital payments & acknowledgements.”, he added

Mr. Goyal said that in the post-COVID world, tech-enabled governance will play a key role in determining India’s growth and competitiveness. He said that a Single-window approach has enabled tech transformation of service delivery in India. It has liberated last-mile beneficiary from location based constraints, and enhanced ease of doing business. He said that Progress in technology helps develop the economy and strengthen Indian firms in the competitive global market.

Lauding the initiative of DGFT, Mr. Goyal said that the new Trade Facilitation App is a step in the right direction as it provides easy, omni-channel access to various trade related processes and enquiries at the touch of button. He said that truly imbibing Prime Minister’s vision of Minimum Government, Maximum Governance, DGFT is standing up for businesses as a true leader with e-issuance of certificates, QR scan process to validate documents. It will reduce transaction cost and time for imports and exports related processes, and usher in transparency. He said that ‘Trade Facilitation Mobile App’ is a symbol of India’s idea of Aatmanirbharta – Making governance easy, economical & accessible, as it symbolises shift in traditional thinking.

Mr. Goyal said that Trade facilitation App is READY for Industry 4.0, as it provides

Real-time trade policy updates, notifications, application status alert, tracking help requests.
Explore item-wise Export-Import policy & statistics, Track IEC Portfolio.
AI-based 24*7 assistance for trade queries.
DGFT services made accessible to all.
Your Trade Dashboard accessible anytime & anywhere.
The Minister said that ‘Mobile’ India creates an international trade opportunities for MSMEs and Foreign players. It will enable creation of a quality conscious and cost-competitive domestic industry. Further, it will significantly contribute to export target of $1 Trillion by 2025 and GDP target of $5 Trillion. He said that for advanced App development, more inputs & ideas of all stakeholders should be invited for further refinement which will help in expediting our technological transformation. Mr. Goyal also called for engagement with technology and language specialists to develop Governance Apps in various regional languages, which will support the spirit of oneness amongst our citizens.

 

The new Mobile App of DGFT provides the following features for ease of the exporters and importers –

Real-time Trade Policy Updates and Event Notifications
Your Trade Dashboard Anytime Anywhere
Access all services offered by DGFT in App
Explore Item-wise Export-Import Policy and Statistics
24×7 Virtual Assistance for Trade-Related Queries
Track your IEC Portfolio – IEC, Applications, Authorizations
Real-time Alerts on status of applications
Raise and track help requests in real-time
Share Trade Notices, Public Notices easily
The App will be available on Android and iOS platforms. The App can also be downloaded from the DGFT Website (https://dgft.gov.in). It has been developed by the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS),as per the directions of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).”

Melbourne edtech firm TALi launches learning app in India

Source: INTOINDIA

“I was pleased to hear from Michelle Wade, Commissioner South Asia at Global Victoria, that Victorian edtech and digital wellness company TALi Digital this week launched their Indian platform via the Times of India. The two apps — the TALi app and TALi TRAIN — are designed to improve children’s attention skills, which are so important for their ability to listen, learn and focus on tasks at home and at school. Targeting children aged 3-8.

As Michelle wrote on Linked In – “Very proud of our team, and particularly Annie Santhana, Gopi Shankar and Stuart Bland for the many months’ work and continued support to Tali Digital.”

PM Morrison thanks Sikh community on Vaisakhi for services to Australia

Source: Indian Link

“In his message to the Sikh community in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thanked them for their selfless services at times of crises in Australia. Citing the bushfires and pandemic, the Prime Ministers said that the Sikh community leapt to the task of preparing and delivering food and groceries to the international students, the elderly and the isolated.

As reported in Indian Link, the Sikh community organised not only langar’s in Gurudwaras but also helped with essentials like nappies, tinned food etc when floods hit Northern NSW in places such as Taree. They also provided food to essential service workers through their mobile food vans.

Pm Morrison’s full message is below:

“Sat Sri Akal!

I send my warmest wishes to everyone observing Vaisakhi across Australia, as you celebrate the spring harvest and a new solar year.

Last year, as we faced the emergence of a once-in-a-century pandemic, Sikh communities could not observe this most important holiday with traditional splendour.

Guided by their faith and concern for others, the Sikh community chose to put family, neighbours, community and country first.

It was in keeping with your community’s beliefs, character, and values.

During our Black Summer of bushfires, Sikh volunteers dropped everything and began cooking hot meals for bushfire-affected communities in Victoria.

Likewise, when the pandemic hit, Sikh groups right across the nation leapt to the task of preparing and delivering food and groceries to international students, the elderly and the isolated.

These acts of extraordinary generosity and selflessness speak powerfully to the Sikh spirit of service; a deep humanity that is characteristic of your ongoing contributions to Australia — this special place we call home.

The example you set reflects the best of us.

I send my best wishes to the Sikh Australian community for an enjoyable Vaisakhi celebration. I hope the coming year brings all the blessings you wish for.””

Govt may hike FDI limit in pension sector to 74%; Bill likely in monsoon session

Source: Economictimes

“The government may hike foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in the pension sector to 74 per cent and a Bill in this regard is expected to come in the next Parliament session, according to sources.

Last month, Parliament approved a Bill to increase FDI limit in the insurance sector from 49 per cent to 74 per cent. The Insurance Act, 1938 was last amended in 2015 which raised FDI limit to 49 per cent, resulting in foreign capital inflow of Rs 26,000 crore in the last 5 years.

Amendment to Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Act, 2013 seeking to raise FDI limit in the pension sector may come in the monsoon session or winter session depending on various approvals, sources said.

Currently, the FDI in the pension fund is capped at 49 per cent.

Besides, sources said, the amendment Bill may contain separation of NPS Trust from the PFRDA.

The powers, functions and duties of the NPS Trust, which are currently laid down under the PFRDA (National Pension System Trust) Regulations 2015, may come under a charitable trust or the Companies Act, they said.

The intent behind this is to keep NPS Trust separate from the pension regulator and managed competent board of 15 members. Out of this, the majority of members are likely to be from the government as they, including states, are the biggest contributor to the corpus.

The PFRDA was established for promoting and ensuring the orderly growth of the pension sector with sufficient powers over pension funds, the central recordkeeping agency and other intermediaries. It also safeguards the interest of members.

The National Pension System (NPS) was introduced by the Government of India to replace the defined benefit pension system. NPS was made mandatory for all new recruits to the central government service from January 1, 2004, (except the armed forces in the first stage) and has also been rolled out for all citizens with effect from May 1, 2009, on voluntary basis.

The government had made a conscious move to shift from the defined benefit, pay-as-you-go pension scheme to defined contribution pension scheme, NPS, due to rising and unsustainable pension bill. The transition aimed at freeing the limited resources of the government for more productive and socio-economic sectoral development.”

Foreign Trade Policy 2021-2026: Expectations For The Import-Export Sector

Source: Cogoport

“Come April 1, India will unveil Foreign Trade Policy 2021-2026. The existing policy, extended by a year due to Covid-19, ends on March 31. The foreign trade policy (FTP) outlines government strategies and steps to promote domestic production and exports with the objective of driving economic growth.

The new policy comes at a time when the economy continues to reel from the effects of the pandemic and disruptions to international trade caused by lockdowns and restrictions worldwide. The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects 2021 report says India’s economy shrank 9.6% in 2020 against a global average of 4.3%. It projects a 7.3% growth for India in 2021. Hopes for a turnaround rest largely on exports picking up. Exporters expect the new policy to include initiatives aimed at improving India’s standing in global merchandise and services exports and to correct the deficiencies of Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020.

In this blog, we will discuss:

What is India’s foreign trade policy?
What are the highs and lows of the current foreign trade policy?
What are the expectations from Foreign Trade Policy 2021-2026?

What is India’s Foreign Trade Policy?

The foreign trade policy is essentially a set of guidelines for the import and export of goods and services. These are established by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), the governing body for the promotion and facilitation of exports and imports under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The policy is notified for a period of five years. It is updated every year on March 31, and the changes come into effect from April 1.

While the trade policy covers both imports and exports, its primary objective is to facilitate trade by reducing transaction cost and time, thereby making Indian exports more globally competitive. It aims to:

Accelerate economic activity and make the most of global market opportunities
Encourage sustained economic growth by providing access to raw materials, components, intermediates (goods used as inputs for the production of other goods), consumables and capital goods required for production
Strengthen Indian agriculture, industry and services
Generate employment
Encourage stakeholders to strive for international standards of quality
Provide quality consumer products at reasonable prices

FTP 2015-2020 – Highs and Lows

The current trade policy – which focused on improving India’s performance in existing markets/products and exploring new markets/products – has been praised as “progressive” for the following reasons:

It consolidated a range of export incentives with different eligibility criteria into two schemes – the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) and Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS).
It offered export incentives under these two schemes in the form of duty credit scrips, which can be used by exporters to pay import duties. The scrips are fully transferable, which means that if an exporter has no need for them, they can pass it on to another.
It reduced export obligation from 90% to 75% for capital goods sourced from local manufacturers under the Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme (EPCG).
It allowed manufacturers who are “status holders” (entrepreneurs certified by the DGFT as having helped India become a major export player) to self-certify their manufactured goods as originating from India. This helps them qualify for preferential treatment under various bilateral and regional trade agreements.
It identified 108 micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) clusters for focused interventions with a view to boost exports.
It promoted paperless processing of various DGFT licences and applications.
However, the policy has also had its fair share of criticism. Some of its provisions have been challenged at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by the United States. Some sticking points:

In 2019, a WTO dispute settlement panel, acting on Washington’s complaint, said India’s export subsidy provisions violate WTO rules and must be withdrawn. These included tax incentives under the popular MEIS and SEIS. As India’s per capita gross national product is over $1,000 per annum, it can no longer offer subsidies based on export performance, the panel ruled. This controversy reinforces the growing view in India that the country needs to move away from subsidies and think of other ways to help its exporters.
There is a strong belief in India (bolstered by its trade policy) that free trade agreements (FTAs) haven’t worked for it. One indication of this came in November 2020 when India decided to not be a part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest FTA. Experts and economists believe this cost India a golden chance to be a major player in exports.

What are the expectations from FTP 2021-2026?

Covid-19 was catastrophic for international trade. Indian exports fell by a record 60% and imports by 59% in April 2020. Though the situation has improved, the road to recovery is long and hard. That is why the new trade policy must deliver the goods. Based on inputs from traders, trade associations, members of Parliament and a government-appointed high-level advisory group, some key expectations are:

WTO-compliant tax incentives: With incentives under MEIS and SEIS under a cloud, the need of the hour is WTO-compliant tax benefits. To this end, the government has announced the Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) scheme, effective January 1, 2021. It replaces MEIS. Rates and conditions for the new scheme are yet to be announced.
Easy credit access: A long-standing demand of exporters, especially MSMEs, is credit access. Formal financial institutions such as banks are reluctant to lend to MSMEs due to their lack of adequate collateral. The policy can help open up alternate credit avenues, such as finance technology start-ups. The advisory group suggests raising borrowing limits at the Export Import Bank of India.
Infrastructure upgrade: One reason why China is a manufacturing and export powerhouse is its network of ports, highways and high-speed trains, which are among the best in the world. India needs to learn from its neighbour and improve its flagging infrastructure by upgrading existing ports, warehouses, quality testing and certification centres and building new ones. The Trade Infrastructure for Export Sector, a scheme for developing infrastructure to promote exports, was launched in 2017 for a period of three years. Many in the industry hope it will be extended.
Less subsidy, more support: In 2020, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said quality, technology and scale of production were the answers to India’s global ambitions, not subsidies. Many in the industry agree, saying government support in the form of skill development programmes and technological upgradation rather than subsidies would help them become more competitive. Pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices are some sectors that could do with upskilling. Similarly, the trade policy could include incentives with a focus on research and development, something the government has spoken of in the past. On the technology front, the Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme – which facilitates improvements in investment, productivity, quality and exports in the textile industry through technology upgrades – can be replicated for other sectors.
Tax breaks: If India were to do away with subsidies, exporters would still need some form of government support. Easier and lower taxes are a way of filling this gap. The reduction of corporate tax rates and simplification of duty structures are long-standing demands. The Confederation of Indian Industry suggests simplifying the import duty structure by following “the general principle of higher duties on finished goods and lower/minimal duties on intermediates and raw material”. There are also demands for an overhaul/improvement of existing schemes such as the EPCG and Duty Drawback Scheme.
Digitisation and e-commerce: With Covid-19 disrupting traditional supply chains, India needs modern trade practices. Digitisation and e-commerce are two ways to go about this. Digitisation can start with making common import-export processes paperless. Trade body Nasscom, for example, recommends an online mechanism for Importer Exporter Code (IEC) holders to change their particulars (mobile numbers, e-mail IDs, etc). It also makes a case for encouraging e-commerce exports by a) including e-commerce export platforms under Niryat Bandhu (a scheme for mentoring entrepreneurs in international trade), b) establishing e-commerce export promotion cells within export promotion councils, and c) establishing e-Commerce Export Zones to promote MSMEs.
Export awareness: At times, Indian exporters are defeated not by a lack of trade opportunities but by lack of awareness of the same. The trade policy can make a provision for government workshops and awareness programmes that educate and inform traders about international laws and standards, global markets, intellectual property rights, patents and geographical indication (GI).
Import wishlist: While most of the expectations might be geared towards exports, India’s import community has its wishlist too, which includes permission to import capital goods on self-certification basis and to import prohibited items with the approval of the Central government-approved Board of Approval or Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee.

Road to $5 trillion by 2025

India aspires to be a $5-trillion economy by 2025. To achieve this dream, it needs to:

Register a GDP growth rate of 8% or more in the next few years
Triple its exports to $1 trillion by 2025
This a tough ask, considering Indian exports have hovered around the $300-billion mark since 2011-2012. Battered by the pandemic, exports for the April-November 2020 period stood at $304.25 billion. The country’s GDP reached $ 2.88 trillion in 2019–2020.

In its 2019 report on what India must do for exports to reach $1 trillion by 2025, the high-level advisory group suggested:

Urgent reform of labour laws
Easing of regulatory controls
Lowering the cost of capital
Selection of right trading partners (given India’s unhappy experience with FTAs)
Sector-specific strategies to drive exports, especially in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, textiles and electronics
The formation of a special committee to take quick decisions on foreign direct investment (FDI), including identifying and attracting potential investors
The government, on its part, seems committed to seriously working towards its $5-trillion dream. Briefing MPs about FTP 2021-2026 on January 12, the Ministry of Commerce announced some of its plans for the new policy. These include:

District Export Hubs: The government will identify potential products and services in each district, identify agricultural and toy clusters, map GI products, set up district export promotion panels and district export action plans as part of this initiative targeted at small businesses and farmers.
Correcting imbalances: A persistent demand of exporters/importers is correcting the imbalances in India’s international trade processes. At the meeting, the ministry committed to reducing “domestic and overseas constraints related to the policy, regulatory and operational framework for lowering transaction costs and enhancing ease of doing business”. It also spoke of creating “efficient, cost-effective and adequate logistical and utilities infrastructure”.
If FTP 2021-2026 delivers on the government’s commitments and lives up to industry’s expectations, India as a $5-trillion economy is not a dream too far.”

IMF Projects India’s Growth Rate to Jump to Impressive 12.5 Per Cent in 2021

Source: INTOINDIA

“The International Monetary Fund is now forecasting India to grow GDP at 12.5% in 2021 – the only double digit forecast amongst developed and emerging economies.

Expected global growth of 6% will also play a role in India’s growth given its incrementally increasing role in supply chains, the rise again of the IT outsourcing industry and its strength in pharmaceutical manufacture and export.

In 2022 the IMF forecasts a further 6.9% GDP growth for India – once again the leader of the pack. If India continues to grow like this the US$5tn goal of the Modi’s Government appears within reach in the next 4-5 years.

According to Mugunthan, India’s equity market is evolving nicely given the pivot post COVID. Market breadth has normalised and active managers are dominating the landscape again, as they should in an inefficient equity market like India’s. The next 3 years should see a strong recovery in corporate profit.”

Union Cabinet approves Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for White Goods (Air Conditioners and LED Lights) and ‘National Programme on High Efficiency Solar PV Modules’

Source: IBEF

“The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for White Goods (Air Conditioners and LED Lights) with a budgetary outlay of Rs. 6,238 crore (US$ 848.96 million). The Union Cabinet also approved the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy’s proposal for implementation of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme ‘National Programme on High Efficiency Solar PV (Photo Voltic) Modules’ for achieving manufacturing capacity of Giga Watt (GW) scale in high efficiency solar PV modules with an outlay of Rs. 4,500 crore (US$ 612.43 million).

Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for White Goods (Air Conditioners and LED Lights)

The prime objective of the PLI scheme is to make manufacturing in India globally competitive by removing sectoral disabilities, creating economies of scale and ensuring efficiencies. It is designed to create complete component ecosystem in India and make India an integral part of the global supply chains. The scheme is expected to attract global investments, generate large scale employment opportunities and enhance exports substantially.

 

The PLI Scheme for White Goods shall extend an incentive of 4% to 6% on incremental sales of goods manufactured in India for a period of five years to companies engaged in manufacturing of Air Conditioners and LED Lights. Different segments have been earmarked for different types of components separately to specifically target global investments into desired areas. Selection of companies for the Scheme shall be done so as to incentivize manufacturing of components or sub-assemblies which are not manufactured in India presently with sufficient capacity. Mere assembly of finished goods shall not be incentivized.

Companies meeting the pre-qualification criteria for different target segments will be eligible to participate in the Scheme. Incentives shall be open to companies making brown field or green field Investments. Thresholds of cumulative incremental investment and incremental sales of manufactured goods over the base year would have to be met for claiming incentives.

An entity availing benefits under any other PLI Scheme of Govt. India will not be eligible under this scheme for the same products but the entity may take benefits under other applicable schemes of Govt. of India or schemes of State governments. The Scheme will be implemented as a pan India scheme and is not specific to any location, area or segment of population. A number of global and domestic companies, including a number of MSMEs are likely to benefit from the Scheme.

The Scheme is expected to be instrumental in achieving growth rates that are much higher than existing ones for AC and LED industries, develop complete component eco-systems in India and create global champions manufacturing in India. They will have to meet the compulsory BIS and BEE Quality standards for sales into domestic market and applicable standards for global markets. It will also lead to investments in innovation and research and development and upgradation of technology.

It is estimated that over the period of five years, the PLI Scheme will lead to incremental investment of Rs. 7,920 crore (US$ 1.08 billion), incremental Production worth Rs. 1,68,000 crore (US$ 22.86 billion), exports worth Rs. 64,400 crore (US$ 8.76 billion) earn direct and indirect revenues of Rs. 49,300 crore (US$ 6.71 billion) and create additional four lakh direct and indirect employment opportunities.

Production Linked Incentive scheme ‘National Programme on High-Efficiency Solar PV Modules’

Solar capacity addition presently depends largely upon imported solar PV cells and modules as the domestic manufacturing industry has limited operational capacities of solar PV cells and modules. The National Programme on High Efficiency Solar PV Modules will reduce import dependence in a strategic sector like electricity. It will also support the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative.

Solar PV manufacturers will be selected through a transparent competitive bidding process. PLI will be disbursed for 5 years post commissioning of solar PV manufacturing plants, on sales of high-efficiency solar PV modules. Manufacturers will be rewarded for higher efficiencies of solar PV modules and also for sourcing their material from the domestic market. Thus, the PLI amount will increase with increased module efficiency and increased local value addition.

The outcomes/ benefits expected from the scheme are as follows:

Additional 10,000 MW capacity of integrated solar PV manufacturing plants,
Direct investment of around Rs. 17,200 crore (US$ 2.34 billion) in solar PV manufacturing projects
Demand of Rs. 17,500 crore (US$ 2.38 billion) over 5 years for ‘Balance of Materials’,
Direct employment of about 30,000 and Indirect employment of about1,20,000 persons,
Import substitution of around Rs. 17,500 crore (US$ 2.38 billion) every year, and
Impetus to Research & Development to achieve higher efficiency in solar PV modules.”

India emerging a leader in supercomputing

Source: IBEF

“India is fast emerging a leader in high power computing with the National Super Computing Mission (NSM) boosting it to meet the increasing computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and start-ups in areas like oil exploration, flood prediction as well as genomics and drug discovery.

Computing infrastructure has already been installed in four premier institutions and installation work is in rapid progress in 9 more. Completion in of Phase II of NSM in September 2021 will take the country’s computing power to 16 Petaflops (PF). MoUs have been signed with a total of 14 premier institutions of India for establishing Supercomputing Infrastructure with Assembly and Manufacturing in India. These include IITs, NITs, National Labs, and IISERs.

Infrastructure planned in NSM Phase I has already been installed and much of Phase II will be getting in place soon. Phase III, initiated this year, will take the computing speed to around 45 Petaflops. This will include three systems of 3 PF each and one system of 20PF as a national facility.

The National Supercomputing Mission was launched to enhance the research capacities and capabilities in the country by connecting them to form a Supercomputing grid, with National Knowledge Network (NKN) as the backbone. The NSM is setting up a grid of supercomputing facilities in academic and research institutions across the country. Part of this is being imported from abroad and part built indigenously. The Mission is being jointly steered by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and implemented by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune, and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

PARAM Shivay, the first supercomputer assembled indigenously, was installed in IIT (BHU), followed by PARAM Shakti, PARAM Brahma, PARAM Yukti, PARAM Sanganak at IIT-Kharagpur IISER, Pune, JNCASR, Bengaluru and IIT Kanpur respectively.

A new dimention has now been added in India’s march towards leadership position in supercomputing with the convergence of HPC and Artificial Intelligence (AI). A 200 AI PF Artificial Intelligence supercomputing system has been created and installed in C-DAC, which can handle incredibly large-scale AI workloads increasing the speed of computing-related to AI several times. PARAM Siddhi – AI, the high-performance computing-artificial intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer, has achieved global ranking of 62 in TOP 500 most powerful supercomputer systems in the world, released on 16th November 2020.

The mission has also created the next generation of supercomputer experts by training more than 4500 HPC aware manpower and faculties till date. To expand the activities of the HPC training, four NSM Nodal Centres for training in HPC and AI have been established at IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, IIT Goa and IIT Palakkad. These centres have conducted online training programs in HPC and in AI.

Powered by the NSM, India’s network of research institutions, in collaboration with the industry, is scaling up the technology and manufacturing capability to make more and more parts in India. While in Phase I, 30% value addition is done in India that has been scaled up to 40% in Phase II. India has developed an Indigenous server (Rudra), which can meet the HPC requirements of all governments and PSUs.

The three phases will provide access to High-Performance Computing (HPC) Facilities to around 75 institutions and more than thousands of active researchers, academicians working through Nation Knowledge Network (NKN) – the backbone for supercomputing systems.”

India-Australia trade & investment ties to get major boost with Australia India Business Exchange launch

Source: sambaadpatra

“The trade and investment relationship between Australia and India will get a major boost following the Tuesday’s launch of the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX).

The AIBX will provide businesses in both nations with market insights and connections to foster commercial partnerships that will help generate jobs and business opportunities in Australia and India.

AIBX will assist Australia’s premium food, beverage and consumer product providers to access e-commerce channels to offer Indian consumers greater access to our high-quality products; will support services and technology providers to grow partnerships and build resilient supply chains in the mining, resources and infrastructure sectors.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan launched the Morrison Government’s flagship program to advance trade and investment with India.

“Australia and India already share common values, interests and histories and the Australia India Business Exchange will strengthen that friendship,” Tehan said, adding, “AIBX presents opportunities to build on our close people-to-people ties and shared vision for a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific. AIBX will give business owners the confidence and capability to engage across our two markets.”

“Businesses on both sides need to raise their game, by shedding off their risk aversive attitudes, accepting diversity and differences as virtues, rather than vulnerabilities. This asks for building on deep country literacy, capitalising on diaspora’s established network and focusing on pain points and aspirations,” Natasha Jha Bhaskar, GM Newland Global Group leading corporate advisory firm with a focus on leveraging Australia-India trade relations told ET following the launch of AIBX. .
India was Australia’s eighth largest trading partner and third-largest market for services export in 2019-20. Two-way goods and services trade totalled $26.2 billion in 2019-20, and the two-way stock of investment was $36.7 billion in 2019.

AIBX delivers on commitments in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the Government’s response to the India Economic Strategy. The 2021 program will be overseen by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and include virtual events, in-market activities and online resources to support Australians and Indians throughout the business exchange.”

Wipro appoints Sarah Adam-Gedge as MD for Australia, New Zealand

Source: Economictimes

“Bengaluru: Wipro NSE 2.80 % Ltd. has appointed Sarah Adam-Gedge as managing director for Australia and New Zealand to tap into the region’s growing demand for digital transformation solutions.

Adam-Gedge last served as the managing director of Publicis Sapient Australia. Before that, she held various senior executive roles as MD of Avanade Australia, managing partner and vice president at IBM, managing partner at PwC and partner at Arthur Andersen.

As the P&L leader for ANZ, she would focus on the Bengaluru-headquartered software services company’s vision for business growth, revenue expansion, client relationships, talent development, industry connections and brand building, according to a statement.

Adam-Gedge, who worked in project and service-based consultancies for more than 25 years across Australia and New Zealand, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and Latin America, has experience in leading digital transformation initiatives for large organisations globally with a successful track record of driving growth, profitability, business agility and managing relationships with customers and the influencer ecosystem.

“I’m excited to welcome Sarah Adam-Gedge and confident that her leadership and deep understanding of this market will help clients succeed and drive our growth ambition in this region,” NS Bala, CEO (APMEA) at Wipro, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Adam-Gedge is a Chartered Accountant (member of CAANZ), holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) from the Queensland University of Technology and is a graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is also a non-executive director of Austal, and a member of the National Diversity & Inclusion Council for ACS.

“Wipro has strong values and is highly respected in the market, and this resonates with clients, partners and team members,” she said. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to support Wipro’s clients as they accelerate their digital and technology-led change initiatives.”

Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) – Boosting Business Ties With India

Source: indiaeducationdiary

“New Delhi: The trade and investment relationship between Australia and India will be strengthened by the launch today of the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX).

The AIBX will provide businesses in both nations with market insights and connections to foster commercial partnerships that will help generate jobs and business opportunities in Australia and India.
For example, AIBX:

· will assist Australia’s premium food, beverage and consumer product providers to access e-commerce channels to offer Indian consumers greater access to our high-quality products.
· will support services and technology providers to grow partnerships and build resilient supply chains in the mining, resources, and infrastructure sectors.

Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Dan Tehan today launched the Morrison Government’s flagship program to advance trade and investment with India.

“Australia and India already share common values, interests, and histories and the Australia India Business Exchange will strengthen that friendship,” Mr. Tehan said. “AIBX presents opportunities to build on our close people-to-people ties and a shared vision for a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific. AIBX will give business owners the confidence and capability to engage across our two markets.”

India was Australia’s eighth-largest trading partner and third-largest market for services export in 2019-20. Two-way goods and services trade totalled $26.2 billion in 2019-20, and the two-way stock of investment was $36.7 billion in 2019.

AIBX delivers on commitments in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the Government’s response to the India Economic Strategy. The 2021 program will be overseen by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and include virtual events, in-market activities, and online resources to support Australians and Indians throughout the business exchange.”

Digital payments will grow to 71.7 pc of all transactions by 2025: Report

Source: IBEF

“According to a study released on Wednesday, digital payments will rise significantly over the next few years, accounting for 71.7% of all payments in India by 2025.

Other payment options such as Cash and cheques, will account for 28.3% of the market, according to a study by ACI Worldwide, an organization that offers payment solutions to companies.

According to the survey, According to the survey, India was ahead of China with 25.5 billion real-time payments transactions in 2020, compared to 15.7 billion for the northern neighbour.

Instant payments accounted for 15.6% of total payments in 2020, while other electronic payments accounted for 22.9% and paper-based payments accounted for 61.4%, according to the study.

According to the study, by 2025, instant payments will account for 37.1%, electronic payments for 34.6%, and cash and other paper-based payments will account for 28.3%.

In 2024, the number of real-time payments will account for more than half of all electronic transactions.

Its Vice-President, Mr. Kaushik Roy stated that in India, there is a partnership between the government, the regulator, banks, and fintech that has benefited in the advancement of the aim of facilitating financial inclusion and providing people with rapid payment digitization.

Banks, retailers, and intermediaries around the payment ecosystem are reacting quickly and prioritizing security as the pandemic continues to drive changes in customer and business activity.

According to the global survey, India, China, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Kingdom are the top five countries that will generate real-time transactions in 2020.

In 2020, mobile wallet adoption reached a new high of 46%, up from 40.6% in 2019 and 18.9% in 2018. Mobile wallet adoption is accelerating in countries like Brazil, Mexico, and Malaysia, where several people previously relied on cash.”

Wipro to acquire Australia’s Ampion for $117 million

Source: thehindu

“Wipro Ltd signed an agreement to acquire Ampion, Australian cybersecurity, DevOps and quality engineering services firm, for a purchase consideration of $117 million.

Wipro’s new operating model emphasises strategic investments in focus geographies, proximity to customers, agility, scale and localisation. The acquisition of Ampion is expected to strengthen its commitment towards clients and stakeholders in Australia and New Zealand where the company has been present for over two decades, as per a regulatory filing by the company on Thursday.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the June 30 ending quarter.”

Adani group transforms from coal empire to infrastructure, renewables and data

Source: INTOINDIA

“After spending two decades building a business empire centred on coal, Indian billionaire Gautam Adani is now looking at a different future. His ambitious plans are getting a boost from close friend Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Adani is diversifying into airports, data centres and defence – sectors Mr Modi considers crucial to meeting India’s economic goals. Investors are rewarding the pivot.

In less than two years, Mr Adani has gained control of seven airports and almost a quarter of India’s air traffic.

Adani will boost his renewable energy capacity almost eightfold by 2025.

Last week, he won a contract to co-develop a port terminal in Sri Lanka, a neighbour India is courting to check China’s influence in the region.

Adani Enterprises last month signed a deal with Edge- ConneX to develop and operate data centres across India.

After starting out as a commodities trader in the late 1980s, Mr Adani is now India’s second-wealthiest person, with a net worth of US$56 billion. He has added US$50 billion to his fortune in the past year, about US$5 billion more than Mr Ambani, Asia’s richest man, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.”

India against ASEAN in supply chain trilateral

Source: The Indian Wire

“In a recent move, India has opposed Japan’s strategic suggestion to include the Asean countries in the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI). Supply Chain Resilience Initiative is the initiative which seeks to reduce dependence of countries on China and subsequently aims to build resilient supply chains in the Indo-Pacific region.

Thus, the trilateral (SCRI) aims to create a free and transparent trade and investment environment. Countries which are part of the SCRI are namely India, Japan and Australia. While Japan is keen to include the strategic partnership of 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), officials have maintained that New Delhi wants to safeguard its interests from China’s indirect influence through the bloc as it builds on its self-reliance through reduced dependence on imports. Supply Chain Reselience Initiative was launched byu Japan on August 20, 2020.

An official familiar with the matter has stated that “We aren’t keen on Asean joining the initiative right now. We need to safeguard our interests and China’s influence through the grouping”. Reportedly, the cumulative gross domestic product of the three countries in 2019 was $9.3 trillion, and their services trade and merchandise goods were worth $2.7 trillion and $0.9 trillion, respectively.

Japan’s move to include ASEAN countries comes as it seeks to build upon its existing bilateral frameworks like the Asean-Japan Economic Resilience Action Plan and India Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership to attract foreign direct investment in the region.

Japan’s Kajiyama had suggested the digitalization of trade procedures and support for the capital expenditures as a part of the strategic initiative. Japan wants to build on its pre-existing scheme where japan is already supporting capex into ASEAN countries, which will emphatically serve as one reference point for the initiative.

Though India might be skeptical of the entry of the asean countries in the SCRI at the moment but it is not ruling out the possibility of a future partnership. This can be understood as an official familiar with the matter has also stated that “We will see later if Asean can join, later”.

India’s rejection of inclusion of Asean countries in partnership comes from the fact that the the SCRI was launched to tackle China’s growing political and economic influence in the region, but the inclusion of ASEAN countries could mean indirect Chinese influence, which can go against the strategic Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.

The three countries are additionally considering setting up industrial parks, a mechanism to address resolution of trade and investment barriers. Complementary to the industrial parks, the three countries are also planning on a streamlined risk management system, and improved sea and air connectivity between the three nations.

Moreover, it is to be noted that at least 10 product and services categories have been identified from the perspective of the volume of trade in all categories of goods for collaboration.

Thus it can be rightfully said that signatories of the SCRI are all set to take on China, sending it a grave message for concern and to positively build further upon its strategic partnership to achieve its retaliatory motives.”

Melbourne’s new Indian community centre

Source: Indianlink

“When Vasan Srinivasan pottered around at Melbourne’s new Indian community centre at Rowville on the weekend, he observed compatriots stop in their cars to check out the building.

Some even took photographs.

“It was a wonderful feeling,” Srinivasan beamed as he spoke with Indian Link.

As the driving force behind the new Australian Indian Community Centre that was launched late last week, it must have been satisfying to see that the word had got around so quickly, and had piqued interest in the community.

Community centres have been a pipedream for way too long, and now Melbourne becomes the second hub after Perth to have ‘a place to call home’, as Srinivasan refers to it.

An idea that was floated way back in 2012, it took much lobbying with the government and within the community to finally see it to fruition.

Alan Tudge MP acknowledged this when he said at the inauguration, “This has been the culmination of a big vision and hundreds of hours of work by community leaders.”

The Community Centre at Kingsley Close in Rowville will have hospitality and function centre facilities, and will also host cultural and sporting activities, seniors’ activities and educational programs for the young.

The premises, formerly owned by Salvation Army, include on the ground floor a main hall and a mini hall that can accommodate 250 and 120 people respectively; offices, toilets and showers, and out the back, a sport centre which could convert into a 350-seat dining hall.

Upstairs is home to the Museum of India, now relocated from its temporary home at Dandenong. Filled with artefacts donated by the Parekh family, it will be an added attraction. Some of the collections include nearly 500 coins (some dating back to 600 BC), nearly a million stamps, a large collection of Gandhi memorabilia, no less than 600 paintings, and many sculptures and books.

Outlining the journey of the Australian Indian Community Centre, Srinivasan described, “Some 28 Indian organisations came together as an Indian federation to see this project through. These included local organisations of people hailing from Kashmir to Kerala. While individual organisations continued to carry on their activities, a small group from across the board formed a core committee for major infrastructure projects to service the community at large. This core group, the Australian Indian Community Charitable Trust (AICCT), was made up of like-minded people who would support the projects physically, financially and morally.”

A list of five major projects were drawn up – an ethno-specific aged care facility, a museum of Indian art, an Indian community centre, a retirement village for Indian-origin people, and a school.

“We’ve delivered on three of these,” Srinivasan declared. “The ethno-specific aged care is a 108-bed facility in Noble Park that MiCare will construct and manage. Planning is approved, and construction is due to begin shortly, as COVID played spoilsport. It will have language-based staff and volunteers, prayer rooms and a 300-capacity community hall.”

Museum India was launched in 2014 with collections donated by art collector and connoisseur Dr Dinesh Parekh, who passed only weeks ago.

The Indian Community Centre is currently awaiting Council approval, Srinivasan revealed. “The premises were used previously as a place of training and assembly but ceased operating thus two years ago. We are waiting on Council to reinstate permits for these purposes again; we’re hoping they’ll come through in the next six weeks.”

A website for the community centre is in development: it will enable people to book facilities online, register for events and also see the Museum in 3D.

“We would love to celebrate Independence Day here, but are aiming most certainly for a Gandhi Week in October, with Museum activities and a lecture series,” Srinivasan announced.

It was exactly two years ago the Indian community in Perth secured its India centre, thanks to the Indian Society of Western Australia (ISWA). It was a project on which Srinivasan had advised.

“I worked together with a very committed ISWA team under then President Surya Ambati, to negotiate with the federal government,” Srinivasan recalled. “We were able to secure grants of $2.5 million each. They’re hoping to inaugurate this August too. Of course they’ve had to construct, but we were able to purchase existing premises, even though we’ll have to spend $250,000 for upgrades.”

What about an Indian centre in NSW, we ask Srinivasan.

All he’ll say in reply is, “We are disappointed that the NSW community is not coming together to achieve what we have.””

 

“India to be the third largest economy in 10 years: Indranil Sen Gupta, BofA Securities “

Source: Economictimes

“In a recent note, you said that you expect India to be the third largest economy in 10 years. What gives you the conviction that India is going to take the lead from China, Japan, Europe, and US?
We see the economy growing at 9% nominal, that is 6% growth, 5% inflation, and 2% depreciation for the next two years. There are three drivers. The demographic dividend which we have all been talking about for the last 15 to 20 years is actually going to kick in from 2020 and help savings and investments. Secondly, there is financial deepening. Compare it to GDP ratio, which is around 40 to 50 per cent of GDP, should jump almost 100%. And thirdly, there is the emergence of mass markets, which the US probably saw 100 years ago. For example, the price of an entry level car today is 2.5x down from 14x 20 years ago. We think that is close to 1x on export basis.

Apart from this, there are two big catalysts that we have seen emerge over the last one year. The first is that the RBI has now re-achieved adequacy of FX reserves. We call this ‘India’s silent revolution’ because you now have sufficient FX reserves, and you also are de-risking India from global contagion. You are likely to see a much more stable rupee for the next 10 years. Number two, from 2016, high real lending rates were a drag on the economy and that got corrected after Mr Das took over and began raising on a sustained basis. These two factors – the fact that RBI is backed with adequate FX reserves and their lending rates are now coming off – give me the confidence that India will emerge as the third largest economy.

Are there any assumptions that you are making about inflation and interest rate trajectory when you say India’s economy is going to move up two notches from being the fifth largest in the world already? And are inflation and interest rates also going to be guiding factors for the GDP to move higher?

Yes, we are looking at 6% growth in real terms. We are looking at 5% inflation, which is pretty much in line with our estimates of threshold inflation — that even the RBI has come out with –and 2% depreciation. Interest rates we assume will be at a nominal level.

Will India moving up two notches be at the cost of other countries easing off? Or would you say there is going to be a rising tide which will take the other global economies higher along with India in the next 10 years?

Yes, I think that India has relatively higher growth than the rest of the world. There is a chart in my report which shows that we begin by overtaking Canada in 22 I believe, along the way there was Brazil, Russia, UK, France and then Germany in 2027. We are growing at around 9% nominal. Japan for example is growing at 1.4% nominal.

We are growing faster because of two catalysts — RBI buying back FX reserves and interest rates coming down. Secondly, though the globe matters, India should be doing better than other countries even if there is a global downturn. Especially now, given that we have sufficient FX reserves that de-risks us from the rest of the world. Effectively, large depreciations we saw during the global crises should now be history.

What would be some of the key concerns that you have that could derail growth apart from the coronavirus vaccine? What else would you take cognizance of?

In the medium term it is oil. Obviously, if oil goes beyond $100 a barrel on a sustained basis that will hurt the Indian economy. Otherwise, the internal drivers of the economy are very strong from a structural perspective. Now you have sufficient FX reserves to ward off contagion. When you take both into account, the biggest challenge is oil shooting up and staying at more than $100 a barrel.

How are you looking at the India growth story? What do you make of the current parameters with respect to the fiscal position, the government’s divestment plans, and measures to deal with the pandemic?

In the near term with measures to deal with the pandemic, we expect growth to contract 6.4% this year and rebound by 9%. As far as the current state of reforms go, we have not explicitly modeled them in our numbers. We would probably see 50 to 100 bps increase in GDP growth and then India would overtake Japan in 2030 with steady growth.”

Bill to Increase FDI in Insurance Sector Gets Parliament’s Nod

Source: IBEF

On Monday, the parliament approved a bill to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector from 49% to 74%. Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, who is piloting the Bill, stated that increasing the FDI limit in the insurance sector will support insurers in boosting additional funds and overcoming financial issues.

Last week, the Rajya Sabha passed the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021. According to the minister, the government will finance the public sector insurance organisations, and private players would have to raise their own capital.

The minister also stated that the FDI limit was raised following the recommendations of the regulator IRDAI, which conducted extensive discussion with stakeholders. Following the government’s decision to raise the cap from 26% to 49% in 2015, FDI inflows into the insurance sector grown substantially.

She stated that FDI in the insurance sector has totaled Rs. 26,000 crore (US$ 3.59 billion) since 2015, and that the asset under management (AUM) in the sector has increased by 76% over the last five years.

Is the QUAD becoming more like NATO?

Source: INTOINDIA

The QUAD meeting in March was the first where all four national leaders attended – signalling a new higher level for the group which is India, Australia, Japan and the USA.

China will see this meeting as “containing China”, an attitude likely to harden stances between China and the countries of the region. Although it is far from being another NATO, there is no doubt this meeting moved the QUAD in that direction.

Since its creation in 2004, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue has striven to be a loose cooperation and has tried not to become an overtly security group along the lines of NATO. It is a fine line to tread, as the increasing focus of the QUAD has been China.

Although the word “China” does not appear in the recent statement, all the language points to it – promote free, open rules based order, international law, counter threats, freedom of navigation and overflight, democratic values and meet challenges to the rules based maritime order in the East and South China Sea.

The US did not hold back in its language – US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who sat in on the summit, declared “these four leaders made a massive joint commitment today”.

“We have taken the Quad to a new level,” Mr Sullivan said from the White House.

Yet the QUAD partners have diverse perspectives and perhaps very different reasons for coming together. Certainly, Chinese belligerence has been a big motivation.

Australia has been bruised and somewhat taken by surprise by the recent Chinese trade war which has seen massive decline in Australian products in China – at the same time as Covid has hit the high paying international education market from China. When Prime Minister Morrison went public and alone in calling for an inquiry into the Chinese origins of Covid19, the diplomatic lines of the two countries went blank and the trade war “punishment” from China rolled out – the two countries have not been speaking for some time.

India on the other hand has close commercial and personal (leaders) ties with Japan, plus it has experienced border clashes with China in the Himalayan region.

For India and Australia, the meeting adds to their increasing close relationship with Japan, boosted by recently creating a three-country working group to improve supply chain collaboration. Further bad news for China.

In another step up, the Foreign Ministers will meet at least once a year.

It’s all about – in the QUAD’s own words – “leveraging our partnership to help the world’s most dynamic region respond to historic crisis, so that it may be the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek.”

China will not like what it has seen from this meeting.

China’s “close the doors” diplomacy (as seen with India and Australia) and punitive actions have certainly added urgency to the QUAD dialogue and might in the end be regretted in Beijing. But of course, how would we know? When the doors are closed, there is no diplomacy or discussion with China.

Toys Manufacturing Creating India’s Toy Story

Source: Invest India

“Indian Toys Industry is estimated to be $1.5 bn making up 0.5% global market share. The toy manufacturers in India are mostly located in NCR, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and clusters across central Indian states. The sector is fragmented with 90% of the market being unorganized and 4,000 toy industry units from MSME sector.

The toys industry in India has the potential to grow to $2-3 bn by 2024. The Indian toy industry is only 0.5% of the global industry size indicating a large potential growth opportunity. The domestic toy demand forecasted to grow at 10-15% against the global average of 5%.

Some trends contributing to growing demand:

There will be a 2.5x increase in income per capita from 2016 to 2027
There will be a 1.2x increase in the proportion of affluent and elite consumers in Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities by 2025
80% of the population will belong to Gen ‘I’ by 2027”

Why is the Indian American diaspora so successful and now influential in the US?

Source: INTOINDIA

“The power of India in the US. People hold placards of Kamala Harris, as she prepares to take her oath as vice-president of America, at her ancestoral village in Thulasendrapuram.

Migrants from India are the most successful migrant group in the USA and now they are becoming influential and leading in politics. Even President Joe Biden recently quipped that “Indian Americans are taking over the country”.

These Indian Americans have played a “stellar role” in education, technology and entrepreneurship. Now public administration and politics.

Companies in the US headed up by Indian American CEO’s right now include Google, Microsoft, Albertsons, Micron Technology, Mastercard and Adobe Inc.

Biden should feel close to the Indian migrants – his speech writer (Vinay Reddy), Vice President (Kamala Harris) and the leadership of NASA’s Mars Mission (Swati Mohan) all have Indian heritage. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Indians are a small migrant group – around 3.8 million migrated making up 1.2 per cent of the US population.

But this diaspora is the richest, most educated and among the most successful ethnic groups in the USA.

Why?

Indian entrepreneurial drive makes them unique among migrants

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine of the US in its report titled The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration had said in 2015-16 that “Indian immigrants are the most entrepreneurial of any group including natives, and immigrant businesses represent more than a quarter of businesses in the transportation, accommodation, and recreation and entertainment sectors.”

Indians have chased better education

According to Pew Research Center data from September 2017, about 32 per cent of Indian Americans have a bachelor’s degree and 40 per cent are post-graduates. The comparable figures for all Asian Americans are 30 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively. If all Americans are considered, Indians stand out even more as only 19 per cent of Americans have undergraduate degrees and 11 per cent have post-graduate education.

Indians make more money

The Indian community in the US earn a lot more than all other ethnic groups, white Americans included. A recent survey by Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development found that the average income of Indian American families is $120,000, compared to the overall US average of $88,000.

So, why are Indians the most successful?

A recent book titled The Other One Percent: Indians in America bySanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur and Nirvikar Singh found some answers.

Singh hypothesises that “There is no ‘secret sauce’. There are no peculiarly Indian cultural traits (that make Indian Americans more successful than others)…. They came very carefully selected. They were not coming from poverty. The simplest policy prescription may be this: Make sure everyone has access to education,” he told the media.

The immigration of Indian Americans really began in 1965 when the US lifted caps it had placed on immigrants from some countries. Since then, the visa process has favoured the entry of mostly upper class, educated Indians, their close relatives, students with very high scores and skilled workers.

Summarising why Indians succeed in America

They are a migrant group with access to educational resources and having a stable financial background. Without these two, migrants generally stay at lower levels of income and influence.

You have not seen the best yet!

80 per cent of second-generation Indian Americans are under the age of 25 years. This means their political influence and commercial success is likely to grow further in the years and decades to come. The Indian American population is expected to almost double to 2 per cent of the US population by 2030. They are mostly concentrated in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, California and Texas.

Indians now standing out in public service

President Biden has appointed significant numbers of Indian Americans to his team – Uzra Zeya, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, State Department; Mala Adiga, Policy Director to Dr Jill Biden; Aisha Shah, Partnership Manager, White House Office of Digital Strategy; Sameera Fazili, Deputy Director, US National Economic Council (NEC); Sumona Guha: Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council, White House; and Sabrina Singh: Deputy Press Secretary, Vice President White House.

In addition, two Indian Americans, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal, have already ruled states such as Louisiana and South Carolina as governors.”

PLI Scheme: India Invites Applications For Second Round Of Large-Scale Electronics Manufacturing

Source: IBEF

“The Government has initiated inviting applications for the second round of large-scale electronics manufacturing under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, with a strong reliance on some electronic components such as motherboards, semiconductor devices, among others.

The application window for the scheme has been opened until March 31, 2021, which could be further extended in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Meity (Ministry of Electronics and IT).

The second round of the PLI scheme is available for applications to be accepted. The duration of the second round of the PLI scheme shall be four years and the incentive shall apply from April 1, 2021, according to an official letter dated March 11, 2021.

The first round of the scheme was available until July 31, 2021, which encouraged the participation of major global players such as Apple contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron; Samsung; local players Lava, Optiemus, Dixon, etc. – investing more than Rs. 11,000 crore (US$ 1.51 billion).

Though the first round focused on mobile manufacturing with subsidies for 20 companies, the second round extended the window to up to 30 eligible companies.

The proposed rules have classified components, discrete semiconductor devices, including transistors, diodes, etc., passive components, including resistors, capacitors, printed circuit boards, assemblies, ATMP units (assembly, testing, marketing and packaging), etc. for the second round of PLI.

Subsidies under the second round of the PLI scheme shall apply from April 1, 2021, as indicated in the Guidelines.

The companies whose projects have been approved in the first round of the PLI cannot take part in the second round, their group companies with a minority or non-controlling interest in the applicant companies will be permitted to apply for incentives in accordance with the new guidelines.”

Tesla in talks with India’s Tata Power for EV charging infrastructure: Report

Source: IBEF

“According to CNBC-TV18, that further cited sources, Tesla Inc. is exploring to partner with Tata Sons’ power generation unit, Tata Power, to set up charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in India.

After the statement, Tata Power shares rose 5.5% to their highest closing level since June 9, 2014. The news comes as the Palo Alto-based electric-car manufacturer expects to launch in India later in 2021, including plans to import and market its Model 3 electric sedan.

According to a government document seen by Reuters, Tesla will establish an electric-car manufacturing facility in the Indian state of Karnataka.

The discussions between Tata Power and Tesla are still in the early stages, according to the article, and no agreements have been made yet. The two companies did not respond to requests for comment immediately.

Tesla Motors India and Energy Private Ltd was established in January 2021, with its registered office in Bengaluru, a hub for global technology companies.

Tata Motors Ltd., the Tata Sons carmaker, denied any association with Tesla last week, after media reports indicated that the two firms were evaluating a collaboration.”

Keen to discuss COVID-19, challenges in Indo-Pacific at ‘historic’ Quad meeting: Australia PM Morrison

Source: EconomicTimes

“Terming as “”historic”” his first-ever Quad meeting with leaders from the US, India and Japan, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that he was keen to discuss with “”close friends”” the issues of COVID-19 and security and maritime challenges across the Indo-Pacific region.

Known as the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue,” representatives for the four-member nations have met periodically since its establishment in 2007.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Morrison, and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga will attend the virtual summit, which is the first conclave of the top leaders of the Quadrilateral alliance, on Friday.

“”First of all, I’m looking forward very much to later this evening, in fact, the early hours of tomorrow morning. I will be joining President Biden and Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Suga from Japan in what will be the first-ever leaders meeting of what is known as the Quad,” Morrison said.

Describing it a “historic meeting” of four leaders representing the nations that are “close friends”, the Australian prime minister said he was looking forward to the discussions that will be over a range of topics.

“In particular how we’re dealing in the region with COVID-19, the challenges that we have with security and maritime domain here across the Indo-Pacific and also how we’re working together to achieve net zero into the future on emissions and move to a new energy economy right across the Indo-Pacific region and indeed around the world,” Morrison said.

“I’m sure there will be many other issues that we address and technology partnerships will be necessary to achieve those goals. So, it is an historic moment and I think it does demonstrate Australia’s agency in the world. This is something that we have been working towards for many years now. It has been a goal of ours to see the leaders meeting of the Quad come together,” he added.

The meeting to be held virtually is expected to last about 90 minutes, during which all the four leaders would also lay out their vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. amidst China flexing its muscles in the strategically-vital region.

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years. Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan.

“”There have been meetings of foreign ministers. There have been many other meetings. But when governments come together at the highest level, this shows a whole new level of cooperation to create a new anchor for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and working with important other partners in the region, and particularly the ASEAN nations and their view of the Indo-Pacific that so much informs our own,” Morrison said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Morrison said the Quad was about “”four like-minded countries coming together”” to ensure “”an open, independent, sovereign Indo-Pacific””.

He assured the Quad members “”look into the Indo-Pacific through the same lens as the ASEAN nations and understand the critical role of ASEAN within the Indo-Pacific””.

“”It was one of the first things, the first thing I should say, I discussed with President Biden and I was so pleased the new administration was also so enthusiastic about this programme, and that President Biden is taking this to another level and seeing the Quad as his first engagement in this way, and to elevate it in this way,”” he said in Canberra.

“”It is another key step forward in how Australia has sought to keep Australians safe, by ensuring that we’re working with our partners, with our allies in particular,”” he said.

Federal trade minister Dan Tegan also said the Quad meeting was a historic one with a positive agenda.

“”This is about us engaging with like-minded liberal democracies to address important issues in the Indo-Pacific. And, it’s positive engagement in the Indo-Pacific that has led to our region prospering like it has since the Second World War, and China has been a key beneficiary of that,” he said.

“”The economic growth which has occurred in China since the Second World War has been extraordinary, and we want to make sure that all countries in the Indo-Pacific can enjoy what a free and open Indo-Pacific can lead to,” Tegan said.

The South China Sea and the East China Sea are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade. Although the US lays no claims to the disputed waters, it has challenged China’s growing territorial claims in the South China Sea by deploying warships and fighter jets to assert freedom of navigation and overflight patrols in the strategically vital region.

The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China’s increasing military muscle-flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers. The US has been favouring making Quad a security architecture to check China’s growing assertiveness.”

In a first, Japan-Australia venture starts producing hydrogen from dirty coal

Source: EconomicTimes

“A Japanese-Australian venture has begun producing hydrogen from brown coal in a A$500 million ($390 million) pilot project that aims to show liquefied hydrogen can be produced commercially and exported safely overseas.

The plan is to create the first international supply chain for liquefied hydrogen and the next big step will be to ship a cargo on the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier.

“”We have the potential here to be world leaders in the production and export of hydrogen and this project is developing up that technology to do exactly that,”” Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor told Reuters on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the event.

Australia, already dominant in global liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade, is hoping liquefied hydrogen will give it a greener market for its coal and gas.

Run by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and located in the state of Victoria, home to a quarter of the world’s known brown coal reserves, the project is key to helping Japan meet its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The world’s fifth-largest energy consumer aims to boost its annual hydrogen demand tenfold to 20 million tonnes by 2050, equivalent to about 40% of its current power generation.

Brown coal is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low energy content and has fuelled some of Australia’s dirtiest power stations, some of which have already shut or are slated for closure.

“”The important thing is hydrogen should be cost competitive, and Victorian brown coal is a cheap source of hydrogen,”” said Hirofumi Kawazoe, general manager of Kawasaki’s Hydrogen Engineering Australia unit.

The project is producing hydrogen by reacting coal with oxygen and steam under high heat and pressure in a process that also yields carbon dioxide and other gases.

If the project goes commercial, the carbon dioxide would be buried off the coast of Victoria. The Australian and Victoria state governments are running a parallel project to test transporting and injecting carbon dioxide under the seabed.

Studies show hydrogen produced from coal with carbon capture and storage is half to one-third the cost of producing green hydrogen, said Jeremy Stone, a J-Power director on the project.

Green hydrogen is produced using wind and solar power to split water and unlike hydrogen produced from coal is dependent on the weather.

Groups campaigning to end the use of brown coal say, however, that the project is a waste of money.

“”The technology will be superseded in the next few years by clean hydrogen sourced from renewable energy. Any investment in coal-to-hydrogen infrastructure will quickly become a white elephant,”” said Environment Victoria campaigns manager Nicholas Aberle.

The hydrogen produced in the 70 kilograms a day demonstration plant will be transported by trailer to a port site where it will be liquefied for export.

The first cargo to Japan has been delayed to the second half of this year due to COVID-19 restrictions which have slowed final checks on the tanker.

Partners in the project include Iwatani Corp, Marubeni Corp, Sumitomo Corp and AGL Energy Ltd, whose mine is supplying the brown coal.”

IWD2021: Australia India Business Council Women in Business & Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry FLO MoU to boost bilateral trade & business

Source: AIBC

“Sydney, Australia – The Women in Business (WIB) Chapter of Australia India Business Council Ltd (AIBC), the peak body facilitating bilateral trade and investment between the two nations, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Ladies Organisation (FICCI FLO) for the two organisations to collaborate to boost bilateral trade and business. The MoU was signed by Sheba Nandkeolyar, National Chair of AIBC WIB and Jahnabi Phookan, National President of FICCI FLO on International Women’s Day 2021 at a Consul General of India Sydney boardroom luncheon in the presence of His Excellency Gitesh Sarma, High Commissioner of India (virtual); Mr Manish Gupta, Consul General of India Sydney; Ms Rowan Ainsworth, Consul General of Australia Kolkata (virtual); and Ms Jodi McKay MP, Leader of the Opposition NSW among other high-profile attendees. The MoU aims to:

Increase demand for goods and services supplied by women entrepreneurs in the bilateral Australia – India corridor
Create platforms for increasing trade
Support, initiate or improve integration of women vendors into Australia-India value chains
Build the capacity of trade support institutions to provide better services to women clients,
Increase awareness among policy makers of the potential of women entrepreneurs and raise awareness of barriers that hamper their participation in bilateral trade
Partner the two organisations for Women of 7 Continents, FICCI FLO’s forum for the exchange of information, experience, visibility, and connectivity among women business owners
His Excellency High Commissioner of India to Australia, Sri Gitesh Sarma said: “Women have broken through and touched all frontiers that can be conquered. Today, as we recognise the contributions of women, I offer congratulations to Australia India Business Council Women in Business and FICCI FLO. It is great to see women in both countries are joining together to take our great bilateral ties even further – and what a timely initiative too. This will inevitably bring to life the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison began when they last met.”

Mr Manish Gupta, Consul General of India – Sydney said: “In the Australia India corridor, women have left an indelible imprint. Congratulations to AIBC WIB and FICCI FLO. This MoU will be key to supporting the women-centric chambers that are operating here in Australia as well as in India.”

Ms Jodi McKay MP, Leader of the Opposition NSW presented Sheba Nandkeolyar with a Certificate from NSW Parliament recognising the role that women play in business. McKay said: “On International Women’s Day, we recognise how far we have come, and how far we have to go. FICCI FLO and AIBC WIB are showing that women have a great role to play in the bilateral relationship.”

Sheba Nandkeolyar, National Chair of Australia India Business Council Women in Business Chapter and CEO of MultiConnexions Group said: “I am confident and optimistic about the remarkable potential of this new MoU between AIBC WIB and FICCI FLO to fast-track bilateral trade and business between the two countries. Empowering women could lift the GDP of any country by 1- 2 per cent.

“AIBC WIB vision is 50-50 involvement of women in bilateral business and trade, and I am pleased to see this reflected in the gender diversity of the AIBC National Leadership team, where the board composition is fifty per cent women,” added Nandkeolyar.

Jahnabi Phookan, National President of FICCI FLO said: “I am delighted to sign this MOU today on behalf of FICCI FLO with AIBC WIB. The trade possibilities and potential between Australia and India are endless. Australia and India’s ambitions are possible, with women business leaders playing a strong role. The digitisation of the world post COVID has made it even easier to take advantage of the opportunities and FICCI FLO’s Women of 7 Regions (W7) initiative is working hard to take women into the value chain to make these opportunities easy to grasp.”

Sanushka Seomangal, National Vice Chair of AIBC representing AIBC National Chair Jim Varghese said: “This MOU between Australia India Business Council Women in Business Chapter and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Ladies’ Organisation will further cement the strong bilateral business and trade relationship between the two countries, and provide women entrepreneurs in the bilateral space with solid resources to fast track their plans. Australia India Business Council is committed to promoting and facilitating initiatives that increase trade and business between the two countries, and I am confident today marks a solid step in the right direction with the support of government and business leaders.”

The boardroom session was extremely insightful, with attendees sharing experiences of doing business with India, attendees’ experience of Brand India and business and trade possibilities that India represents.

Other high profile virtual and in-person attendees included Dianne Tipping, Chair of Export Council of Australia; Rose Kerlin, Group Executive Membership, AustralianSuper; Nick Hockley, Interim CEO, Cricket Australia; Sonia Gandhi, AIBC NSW WIB Chair; Julia Niblett, NSW Director of DFAT; Vik Singh, Digital Education Director at Austrade; Helen Hamilton Jones, Managing Partner at Deloitte; Harriet Diana Richards, ANZ Head of Corporate Affairs at TCS; Kavita Singh, Chief Executive, Bank of Baroda; Nimeesha Gupta, Educator and Linguist; Debra Singh, Board Member; Prof. Veena Sahajwalla of UNSW Research; Mala Mehta of IABBV Hindi School; Prof. Neena Mitter of QAAFI Centre for Horticultural Science; Dr Meena Scindia Chavan of Macquarie University; Deputy Consul General of India Sydney Mr Sanjay Muluka; and AIBC WIB leadership Reet Phulwani, Tamanna Monem, and Preeti Daga.”

FDI in computer software, hardware jumps 4-folds to $ 24.4 billion during Apr-Dec 2020

Source: The Hindu

“Foreign direct investments (FDI) in the computer software and hardware sector jumped nearly four-times to $ 24.4 billion during April-December 2020-21, according to the latest data of DPIIT.

While in the year-ago period the sector received $ 6.4 billion FDI, the entire 2019-20 saw overseas investment of $ 7.7 billion, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) data showed.

According to experts, the accelerated digitalisation and increased use of artificial intelligence due to the pandemic led work-from-home scenario have all resulted in a huge opportunity for the computer software and hardware sector.

“”There has been extensive unlocking of value, and we have seen huge FDI into this sector,”” Arvind Sharma, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co said.

Bimal Raj, Partner, Singhi Advisors, too said the sector witnessed an increase in FDI as there was a surge in the electronics and digital transformation globally and the Indian tech firms were ideally poised to capture that potential.

The other sectors which recorded significant growth in foreign inflows during the nine-month period of 2020-21 include construction (infrastructure) activities ($ 7.2 billion), and pharmaceuticals ($ 1.24 billion).

FDI in telecommunication dipped to $ 357 million from $ 4.3 billion during April-December 2019-20. Automobiles too witnessed a slowdown with $ 1.18 billion in April-December 2020-21 as against $ 2.5 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.

Mr. Sharma said key sectors which have potential to attract more FDI include IT, telecom, pharma and electronics manufacturing.

“”With the increased use of high-end technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus of global investors has moved to the IT and telecom sectors. Besides, the government’s continued emphasis on Make in India and its introduction of performance linked incentive schemes for various sectors will also result in accelerated growth and more FDI inflow,”” he said.

Further, during April-December 2020-21, India attracted maximum FDI from Singapore ($ 15.71 billion) followed by the US ($ 12.82 billion), the UAE ($ 3.91 billion), Mauritius ($ 3.47 billion), and Cayman Islands ($ 2.53 billion).

Overall FDI equity inflows into the country jumped 40 % to $ 51.47 billion.”

Mr. Piyush Goyal addresses the FICCI Higher Education Summit; Says National Education Policy will make India the knowledge capital of the world

Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution today said that National Education Policy(NEP) has given focus to innovation, entrepreneurship and skill development. Addressing the FICCI Higher Education Summit, he said that the Education Policy will transform the way we educate our children. The urge to expand education and knowledge will give this initiative a new thrust that will make India the knowledge capital of the world, he added.

Mr. Goyal said that with the NEP, we will feel proud that every child in the country is entitled to and getting equal quality of education. He said that knowledge is an amazing treasure if shared in troves, if unused it shrinks. Every moment in our life is about learning, increasing our knowledge and sharing our knowledge with society. The Minister said that the Policy allows students to be more creative in their chosen fields. He said that the policy has been formulated after extensive consultations, and hence has been widely accepted.

The Minister said that if we focus on personality development, teach responsibility & moral sciences, prepare them to become better citizens, inculcate a spirit of nationalism & develop a reading habit, it will redefine the way we educate our children. He said that Indian education system has to attain that level where the students from even the developed nations would come for higher study in our country, even in institutes other than IITs and IIMs. Mr. Goyal said that together, this country can do wonders. He called upon the people engaged in the education sector to work together in that spirit of oneness and prepare a roadmap for 7 billion citizens of the world.

The Minister lauded the contribution of schools & teachers in nation building, to deal with the future and to alleviate poverty. Mr. Goyal said that education is a great equalizer, empowers everyone, and helps in taking the right decisions at the right time.

Wipro to buy Capco for US$ 1.45 billion; biggest buyout to become ”bolder” company

Source: IBEF

“Wipro, the Indian IT major announced to acquire Capco, a company based in London over a US$ 1.45 billion (> Rs. 10,500 crore) deal and become a “”bolder and ambitious”” firm and rake in bigger revenues from banking and financial services sector.

The acquisition will provide Wipro with 30 large new client from banking and financial sector and strengthen its position in the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector.

Wipro Chairman Mr. Rishad Premji stated that Wipro has made a significant announcement about a transformational acquisition, the biggest in the company’s history. Capco will be acquired by us for US$ 1.45 billion. Capco will give us over US$ 700 million in sales as well as over 5,000 consulting and domain experts based all over the world. Wipro will join a select group of service providers that offer an integrated and end-to-end solution as a result of this acquisition.

He said, “Banking and financial services is our largest field worldwide, as well as a high priority and growth market for us. Capco will bring substantial scale to our BFSI market, as well as a strong product collection of service offerings, combining consulting and database expertise with scale, digital technology, and operations to develop a distinctive combination of consulting and database expertise with scale, modern technology, and operations. We anticipate that this would result in faster development.”

In December 2020 quarter, the BFSI segment accounted for > 30% of Wipro’s IT services revenue at US$ 2,071 million.

Mr. Premji said, “Wipro’s reach will be expanded into a collection of strategic planning accounts that are specifically complementary to the company’s clientele, as well as providing a forum to leverage Capco’s strong connections with CXOs and business leaders of many large customers over the years.”

Wipro CEO Mr. Thierry Delaporte said, “Acquiring Capco allows us to expand our global financial services sector, which is one of our main divisions, with a broad consultancy presence, from US$ 2.5 billion to US$ 3.2 billion. Our market relevance is bolstered by our scale. The acquisition would also help accelerate growth due to the complementary consumer profiles of Capco and Wipro’s BFSI businesses, as well as solution synergy.”

Capco CEO Mr. Lance Levy stated that to establish a new winning partner for the financial services sector, the companies will deliver customised transformational end-to-end solutions, all fuelled by advanced technology at scale.

He said, “We are excited to combine our complementary strengths and cultures to drive market change and provide new opportunities for both our clients and our employees.”

Mr. Delaporte said, “We will provide an integrated plan and implementation approach for common clients to ensure that we maximize relationships, skills, and capabilities, and learn together while working in the model.””

He also stated that the acquisition would affect Wipro’s IT services margin by 2% in FY22, with a non-cash charge accounting for a large portion of the effect.

Customers will gain from a combination of Wipro’s strategic architecture, business and consulting, digital transformation, cloud, cybersecurity, data and IT services and Capco’s comprehensive database and consulting expertise across finance, payments, capital markets, insurance, risk and regulatory offerings.

Capco, established in 1998, has over 100 clients and several partnerships with the world’s leading financial institutions. It employs > 5,000 consultants in > 30 locations around the world, spanning 16 countries. For the fiscal year ending in December 2020, the company’s consolidated revenues stood at US$ 720 million.

According to the filing, the transaction will require antitrust approvals under US, German, Canadian, Brazil, and Austria, as well as other regulatory approvals.”

Suggestions invited on Draft UGC (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Education Institutions to offer Joint Degree, Dual Degree and Twinning Programmes) Regulations, 2021

Source: IBEF

“Union Minister of Education Mr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ today informed that the UGC has placed the draft Regulations on Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Education Institutions to offer Joint Degree, Dual Degree and Twinning Programmes, in the public domain and invited suggestions from all the stakeholders. The Minister sought insights and feedback from the public including the academia and all other stakeholders to enable the Ministry of Education to bring about effective implementation of this aspect of NEP. The Minister also informed that the last date of receiving suggestions/feedback has now been extended to 15th March. Feedback may be sent to ugcforeigncollaboration@gmail.com.

The Government of India is taking a number of initiatives for the implementation of the National Education Policy-2020. The NEP-2020 calls for permitting credits acquired in foreign countries to be counted for the award of a degree. Furthermore, the budget announcement of 2021 proposed regulatory mechanism to permit dual degrees, joint degrees and twinning arrangements. Accordingly, UGC has framed the draft UGC (Academic collaboration between Indian and foreign Higher Education Institutions to offer Joint Degree, Dual Degree and Twinning Programme) Regulations, 2O21.

These Regulations shall apply to Indian Higher Education Institutions intending to collaborate with Foreign Higher Education Institutions leading to award of diploma(s) and degree(s) including Post Graduate and Doctoral programmes, and Foreign Higher Education Institution intending to collaborate with Indian Higher Education Institutions. Academic Collaboration between Indian and foreign higher education institutions under these Regulations shall facilitate Credit Recognition and Transfer, Twinning Arrangement, Joint Degree Programme and Dual Degree Programme.

Under “Twinning Arrangement”, students enrolled with an Indian higher education institution shall be able to undertake their programme of study partly in India, complying with relevant UGC regulations, and partly in the foreign higher education institution. Moreover, credits earned by the students at a foreign education institution shall be counted towards the degree/diploma awarded by the Indian higher education institution. In case of “Joint Degree programme”, the curriculum shall be designed jointly by the collaborating Indian and foreign higher educational institutions and the degree shall be awarded by both the collaborating institutions with a single Certificate bearing the crests and logo of both collaborating institutions, upon completion of the programme. “Dual Degree Programme” under these Regulations shall be conferred by the Indian and foreign higher education institutions, separately and simultaneously, upon completion of degree requirements of both the institutions.

Promotion of foreign academic collaboration shall be strengthened through the introduction of the provisions of joint degree, dual degree and twinning arrangement. This initiative will provide global exposure to the students, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education with internationally relevant curriculum, improve employability, attract foreign students to study in India and improve the standing of the Indian universities in international rankings as internationalization is an important parameter.”

After enhancing ties with Brazil, Australia, ISRO eyes new opportunities with Italy

Source: Economictimes

“Close on the heels of the launch of a Brazilian satellite by ISRO, India and Italy have decided to explore opportunities in the field of earth observation, space science and robotic and human exploration. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) held a bilateral meeting with Italian Space Agency (ASI) on virtual mode on Wednesday, as part of its strategy to strengthen international partnerships.

ISRO Chairman and Secretary in the Department of Space (DoS) K Sivan and ASI President Giorgio Saccoccia led their respective delegations.

“”Both sides reviewed the on-going cooperation and agreed to form more thematic working groups to explore cooperation opportunities in earth observation, space science, robotic exploration and human exploration””, Bengaluru- headquartered ISRO said in a statement.

On February 28, ISRO successfully launched the 637-kg Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1 on board PSLV-C51 rocket from Sriharikota spaceport.

Brazil’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Pontes visited ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district, about 100 kms from Chennai, and witnessed the launch.

The Minister and his delegation later had a meeting with an ISRO team led by Sivan, and both sides agreed to work together to enhance the bilateral space cooperation and take it to the higher level.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who heads the DoS, also had a virtual interaction with Pontes and officials of the Brazilian space agency.

“”Brazil has requested India’s support in procurement of material and systems for its launch vehicle programme,”” a DoS statement said.

“”Cooperation possibilities in future space science missions, utilising ISRO’s PS4-orbital platform (PS4-OP), space weather studies etc. were discussed””, the official statement said.

PS4-OP refers to a novel idea formulated byISROto use the spentPS4stage (fourth stage of PSLV) to carry out in-orbit scientific experiments for an extended duration of one to six months.

Sivan also had a virtual meeting with the Head of Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, on February 17.

“”Both leaders reviewed the status of on-going cooperation activities in earth observation, satellite navigation, space situational awareness and establishment of transportable terminal in Australia to support India’s ‘Gaganyaan’ programme””, ISRO had said at the time.

According to ISRO, India has always recognised that space has dimension beyond national considerations, which can only be addressed along with international partners.”

Embassy partners Canadian fund to set up US$ 500 million platform to build commercial properties

Source: IBEF

“Embassy Group, based in Bengaluru, announced a collaboration with Ivanhoe Cambridge, a Canadian investment company, on Tuesday to establish a US$ 500 million investment platform to develop commercial properties, mainly premium office space.

Ivanhoe Cambridge is a subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a leading institutional fund manager in Canada.

As per the deal, Ivanhoe Cambridge will invest US$ 400 million in the platform and Embassy Group will invest US$ 100 million.

The Embassy Group has collaborated with Ivanhoe Cambridge to launch an investment platform based on office business parks in campus-based and mixed-use environments in India,

All real estate production, project management, leasing, and operations will be managed by the Embassy Company.

The platform will have a US$ 500 million investment potential, with an 80:20 investment ratio between Ivanhoe Cambridge and Embassy, with an initial focus on the markets of Bengaluru and Chennai.

Both companies strive to cater to the needs of the millennial workforce by delivering flexible work environments and developing sustainable communities in key Indian cities. The model is designed to meet the increasing demand for Global Capability Centres and R&D Campuses.

The platform’s initial investment will be the first phase of the 60-acre Embassy East Business Park in Bengaluru’s Whitefield Main Road.

The first phase will be constructed on a 9-acre plot of land with 1.3 million square feet of gross leasable area. Co-living and retail space are also available at the upcoming business park. By early 2024, the first phase of the project is expected to be ready to occupancy.

Mr. Karim Habra, Head of Europe & Asia-pacific at Ivanhoe Cambridge, said, “This new partnership with Embassy will allow us to strengthen our footprint in India, which is an integral component of our Asian diversification strategy.”

He said, “Several global companies have recognized India as a scalable global innovation centre catalysed by a large, world-class talent pool over the last couple of decades. We expect this pattern to continue, resulting in long-term demand for sustainable offices in mixed use campus environments.”

Mr. Chanakya Chakravarti, Managing Director, India, at Ivanhoe Cambridge, said, “We are excited to broaden our portfolio with Embassy, an accomplished developer with an established track record of execution through investment strategies.”

Ivanhoe Cambridge is a real estate development and investment company that focuses on high-quality properties, ventures, and businesses. It makes foreign investments with strategic partners and leading real estate funds partners.

The Embassy Group, founded in 1993, is one of India’s largest real estate conglomerates, with a portfolio of > 62 million sq. ft of premium commercial, residential, and industrial property.

The company has collaborated with global investors such as Blackstone and Warburg Pincus.

The Embassy was a supporter of India’s first REIT, Asia Pacific’s largest REIT office.”

New Industrial Policy of Gujarat _ 7 August 2020 to 7 August 2025

Source: AIBC

 

“Greetings from Consulate General of India, Melbourne!

I would like to share information that, The State Government of Gujarat has announced a new Industrial Policy 2020 (7 August 2020 to 7 August 2025), a copy which is enclosed for ready reference. The new Policy factors in diverse inputs received from various sectors of business and hence is now qualitatively more investor-friendly., especially for MSMEs.

The highlights of the new Industrial Policy are, inter alia:

The state’s next wave of growth will be driven by mega industrial infrastructure projects, such as the Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), Mumbai Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail, Gujarat International Financial Tech (GIFT) City, 30,000 MW Renewable Energy Target by 2022 among others.
To support these projects, the policy introduces Reforms in regulatory mechanisms for Ease of Doing Business and has earmarked land parcels available for industrial use across the state, which may be viewed on an online portal htps://gujarat.ncog.gov.in/indextb). Additionally, the State Government will facilitate industries in getting “Government Land” on lease to industrial enterprises at 6% of the market rate for a long term up to 50 years.
In light of CoVID-19, Gujarat will offer Special Relocation Incentives to industries planning to relocate their operations and/or diversify supply chains.
Iniatives are also being taken by the state to reposition Gujarat’s MSMEs on a global level such as Capital and Interest Subsidy, Quality Certification, etc.
The policy also further eases the process of utilizing rooftop Solar Power in MSMEs.
Provisions are being made to accelerate and strengthen the startup ecosystem through a separate fund under GVFL for smaller ticket funding, Gujarat e-Marketplace, etc.
Financial services, Health services, Transport & Logistics services, Audio Visual services, Construction related engineering services and Environmental services are now eligible for special incentives for service sector MSMEs.
In line with the mission of Atmanirbhar Bharat, the state has identified 15 thrust sectors for industrial promotion which have been segregated in 2 categories: Core sectors and Sunrise sectors (new/upcoming). (Details in Table on Page 17)
Additionally, the policy introduces incentives for greater compliance with environmental standards & supports development of latest sustainable industrial infrastructure to reduce air and water pollution.
To promote Skill enhancement, the State Government intends to introduce industry-specific short term/ long term/ modular courses in the existing ITIs, Polytechnic and Engineering colleges with active participation of the user industry.
We are requesting you to kindly disseminate this information among the interested, especially among the potential investor community, your members, trade bodies, associations, also urge to invite companies & social groups to join promote inbound investments and business interested in the State of Gujarat.”

Deakin University shows how to attract Indian students in the Covid era

Source: INTOINDIA

“Australia is a leading destination for Indian students going overseas for education – and Deakin University has been a pioneer and leader in building a strong presence in the Indian market.

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted plans for many. However, some universities have started offering scholarships and fee cuts to attract Indians.

Iain Martin, President and Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University spoke to Careers360 about the impact and the measures taken.

Q. How many Indian students have applied to Deakin in 2020? Has COVID-19 impacted the admissions?

A. Over the three intakes in 2020, over 8,500 applications have been received from Indian students. Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact, especially with the closed borders prohibiting international students to travel. However, we are working very closely with our Indian partners and networks on innovative opportunities for students to begin their studies online and transition to on-campus study once travel restrictions ease. Deakin is a leader in digital education and we are well-positioned to offer our international students an excellent experience.

Q. Is Deakin offering financial sup-port to Indian students?

A. Deakin University is offering a 30 percent bursary to all Indian students enrolling during these times. Deakin has also awarded 100 percent meritorious scholarships to four deserving Indian students who will be commencing studies in November 2020.

Q. How is Deakin working on blended learning?

A. The university is offering students the opportunity to start their studies online at home through Deakin’s innovative Cloud Campus and then transfer on-campus once the borders are open for travel. Deakin has an inclusive and student-focused culture and a reputation for using innovative digital solutions to provide an engaging and personalised learning experience. One of the benefits of joining a huge online community is the incredible support students get every step of the way.

Students are able to connect with Deakin’s teachers, study mentors, student success coaches and tutors whenever they need to so that they never lose momentum on the way to achieving their study goals. Our dedicated IT support staff are available out-side regular hours, plus you can access our online library 24/7.

Q. What are the challenges and opportunities for international universities in India with the introduction of New Education Policy 2020? Is Deakin planning to set-up a cam-pus in India?

A. The NEP 2020 provides an exciting opportunity for international universities to facilitate ‘knowledge exchange’ with India. The National Education Policy 2020 allowing international education providers to come to India is a step ahead in developing its higher education ecosystem. It will definitely assist in fostering the ‘study in India’ campaign of the Indian government.

The challenges will be clear once we understand the modalities and implementation of these opportunities. Deakin has been engaging in India over the last 26 years and continues its future-focused journey of “in India, with India, for India”. The National Education Policy 2020 has helped propel our strategic vision in this new normal and we will continue to work with our existing partnerships through hybrid models of engagement including digital and face-to-face learning environments.”

You’ve gotta love Jacob’s Creek wines – consumers in India are loving it!

Source: INTOINDIA

“Despite a tariff as high as 150% plus state taxes, Australia’s Jacob’s Creek is a standout leader in the imported wine market of India. This Aussie winemaker is owned by global giant Pernod Ricard.

Here are some stunning statistics – imported wine accounts for 40% of wines sales in India. 70% of that 40% is Jacob’s Creek. This means Jacob’s Creek accounts for over 20% of the wine market in India.

Another stat – every year 19 million Indians reach legal drinking age.

Wine is mainly an urban success story in India, with three cities dominating the consumption – Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. Apparently women are driving demand for wine – while men stick to whiskey and beer, women have become major consumers of red wine.

Jacob’s Creek has succeeded despite stiff competition from local winemakers, including Sula and Fratelli.

In the context of exporters urgently seeking alternatives to China, Jacob’s Creek is a success story that should be studied by those seeking to succeed in India.

Now – about those tariffs. Australia needs a coordinated campaign to get some relief for wine. This campaign needs to encompass governments, industry and culture/education. My advice – don’t go head-on against the tariff. Subtle approaches are best. Work out what we can offer India and how some reduction in tariff therefore becomes mutually beneficial.”

 

PM inaugurates the India Toy Fair 2021; India Toy Fair 2021 is a major step towards building AatmaNirbhar Bharat : PM

Source: IBEF

“Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi inaugurated the India Toy Fair 2021 today through video conference. Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Mr. Nitin Gadkari and Union Minister of Textiles Mrs. Smriti Irani also participated in the event. The Toy Fair will be held from 27th February to 2nd March 2021. More than 1,000 exhibitors are participating in the fair.

The Prime Minister interacted with toy makers from Channapatna in Karnataka, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, and Jaipur in Rajasthan. Through this Toy fair, the Government and the Industry shall come together to discuss how India can be made the next global hub for manufacturing and sourcing of toys by way of attracting investments in the sector and promoting exports.

Addressing the event, the Prime Minister called for bringing out the hidden potential of the toy industry in India and to create an identity for it as a big part of the campaign for Aatmanibhar Bharat. He added this first toy fair is not just a business or economic event. This program is a link to strengthen the country’s age-old culture of sports and cheer. He said this toy fair is one such platform where one can discuss toy design, innovation, technology, Marketing and packaging and also share their experiences. He said the world has done research on toys from the era of Indus Valley civilization, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa.

 

The Prime Minister recalled that in ancient times, when travellers from the world came to India, they used to learn sports in India and used to take it along with them. He added that chess, which is so popular in the world today, was earlier played in India as ‘Chaturanga or Chaduranga’. Modern Ludo was then played as ‘Pachisi’. He said in our scriptures, it was described that Bal Ram had a lot of toys. In Gokul, Gopal Krishna used to play with his friends outside the house in a balloon. Games, toys and crafts have also been engraved in our ancient temples.

The Prime Minister said toys made here contributed to the all-round development of children. He said the way reuse and recycling have been a part of the Indian lifestyle, it is also seen in our toys. Most Indian toys are made from natural and eco-friendly items, the colours used in them are also natural and safe. He said these toys also connect the mind with our history and culture and are also helpful in social mental development and cultivation of Indian outlook. He appealed to the country’s toy manufacturers to make toys that are better for both ecology and psychology! He asked them to use less plastic in toys, to use such things that can be recycled.

The Prime Minister remarked that today across the world, in every sector, Indian outlook and Indian ideas are being talked about. He added it is a specialty of Indian sports and toys that they contain knowledge, science, entertainment and psychology. He added when children learn to play with lattu, they are taught the lesson of gravity and balance in playing lattu. In the same way, a child playing with a slingshot, inadvertently starts learning basics about the Potential and Kinetic Energies. He said puzzle toys develop strategic thinking and problem solving. Similarly, new-borns also begin to feel the circular movement by twisting and rotating the arms.

The Prime Minister said the creative toys develop the senses of the kids and give wings to their imaginations. There is no limit to their imaginations. All they need is a little toy that will satisfy their curiosity and awaken their creativity. He urged the parents to play with their children because toys play a vital role in the learning process of children. He said the parents should understand the science of toys and the role they play in the development of children and he urged the teachers to use it in schools. He said in this direction, the Government has taken effective steps and brought changes through the New National Education Policy.

About the new national education policy, the Prime Minister said it incorporates play-based and activity-based education on a large scale. This is an education system in which special attention has been paid to the development of logical and creative thinking in the children. He said in the field of toys, India has tradition and technology, India has concepts and competence. We can take the world back towards eco-friendly toys, through our software engineers computer games can spread the stories of India to the world. But despite all this, today India’s share in the $ 100 billion global toy market is very small. 85 % of the toys in the country are sourced from abroad. He stressed the need to change this situation.

The Prime Minister said the country has now graded the toy industry in 24 major sectors. The National Toy Action Plan has also been prepared. It has included 15 ministries and departments to make these industries competitive, countries to become self-reliant in toys, and India’s toys also go into the world. Throughout this campaign, state governments have been made an equal partner in developing the toy clusters. He said along with this efforts are made to strengthen the possibilities of toy tourism. Toyathon-2021 was also organized to promote Indian sports based toys and more than 7000 ideas were brainstormed.

The Prime Minister said if there is a demand for Made in India today, then the demand for Handmade in India is also increasing equally. He added today people do not only buy toys as a product but also want to connect with the experience associated with that toy. So, we have to promote Handmade in India as well.”

India-France-Australia firm up deliverables for Indo-Pacific region

Source: Economictimes

“India, France and Australia have finalised their agenda for a trilateral mechanism in the Indo-Pacific region and will support the development of smaller states including island nations to reduce their excessive dependence on China, ET has learnt.

In a meeting held on Wednesday, the three nations decided to focus on better coordination in the Indo-Pacific region with special focus on disaster management, oil spill management, disaster resilience of small island states, renewable energy and marine ecosystems, ET has reliably gathered.

The Indian side was led by Sandeep Chakravorty, Joint Secretary (Europe West) Ministry of External Affairs, while the French side was led by Bertrand Lortholary, Director (Asia and Oceania). The Australian side was led by Gary Cowan, First Assistant Secretary (North and South Asia Division) and John Geering, First Assistant Secretary (Europe and Latin America Division) of its foreign ministry.

India has been at the forefront of assisting many states in the Indo-Pacific region during times of natural disasters, including the 2004 tsunami.

Last year, India came to rescue of certain states to combat the Covid-19 virus outbreak and later gifted vaccines.

It also assisted Mauritius and Sri Lanka to handle an oil spill last year.

The development of a ‘blue economy’ – sustainable exploitation and preservation of the marine ecosystem — for Indo-Pacific states is also one of India’s priorities.

While the Indian Indo-Pacific construct extends from Eastern Africa to the Pacific, France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has territories in the Indian Ocean Region as well as the Pacific Region. Australia’s Indo-Pacific construct – from the eastern coast of India stretches to the Pacific Ocean – with Canberra placing India as a key partner in the region.

Earlier, during a foreign secretary-level dialogue, the three sides discussed economic and geostrategic challenges and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and domestic responses to it.

The three countries plan to cooperate on marine global commons and potential areas for practical cooperation and through regional organisations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Indian Ocean Commission.

The objective is to synergise respective strengths to ensure a peaceful, secure, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific Region, sources said.

India has trilateral dialogues involving Australia-Indonesia; Japan-Australia; US-Japan, besides Russia-Japan and Russia-China.”

Indian food processing _ Mega Food Parks MoFPI

Source: AIBC

“I would like to share the info in regards to the Indian food processing industry is one of the leading contributors in the growth of Indian economy. It creates a direct linkage between the rural economy and the industry and has emerged as a Champion sector making it one of the largest industries in India. India is the largest producer of milk, millets, livestock, and 2nd largest in fisheries, fruits & vegetables, and total food production globally. India’s food processing sector is one of the largest in the world and its output is expected to reach USD 535 Bn by 2025-26.

The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) is committed to focus on increasing the processing levels of various food commodities as well as reduce post-harvest loss of major agricultural produce, thereby focusing on investments into the sector. Regarding the same, MoFPI is taking all necessary steps to develop the sector and to boost investments. The Government has been announcing several reforms such as development of farm gate infrastructure, unified agricultural market etc. to strengthen the agri-food sector in India. The Ministry is implementing a comprehensive package scheme Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) that results in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.

Details of infrastructure created through the Mega Food Parks scheme as part of PMSKY is attached for your perusal.

We would appreciate if you could kindly disseminate this info among your members, trade bodies, associations and also urge to invite companies & social groups to circulate the same with other stakeholders interested in investing in India’s food processing sector. Thank you.”

Cabinet approves Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Pharmaceuticals and IT hardware

Source: IBEF

“The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Pharmaceuticals over a period of Financial Year 2020-21 to 2028-29.

The Scheme will benefit domestic manufacturers, help in creating employment and is expected to contribute to the availability of wider range of affordable medicines for consumers.

The scheme is expected to promote the production of high value products in the country and increase the value addition in exports. Total incremental sales of Rs. 2,94,000 crore (US$ 40.63 billion) and total incremental exports of Rs. 1,96,000 crore (US$ 27.08 billion) are estimated during six years from 2022-23 to 2027-28.

The scheme is expected to generate employment for both skilled and un-skilled personnel, estimated at 20,000 direct and 80,000 indirect jobs as a result of growth in the sector.

It is expected to promote innovation for development of complex and high-tech products including products of emerging therapies and in-vitro Diagnostic Devices as also self-reliance in important drugs. It is also expected to improve accessibility and affordability of medical products including orphan drugs to the Indian population. The Scheme is also expected to bring in investment of Rs. 15,000 crore (US$ 2.07 billion) in the pharmaceutical sector.

The scheme will be part of the umbrella scheme for the Development of Pharmaceutical Industry. The objective of the scheme is to enhance India’s manufacturing capabilities by increasing investment and production in the sector and contributing to product diversification to high value goods in the pharmaceutical sector. One of the further objectives of the scheme is to create global champions out of India who have the potential to grow in size and scale using cutting edge technology and thereby penetrate the global value chains.

The salient features of the Scheme are as follows:-

Target Groups:

The manufacturers of pharmaceutical goods registered in India will be grouped based on their Global Manufacturing Revenue (GMR) to ensure wider applicability of the scheme across the pharmaceutical industry and at the same time meet the objectives of the scheme. The qualifying criteria for the three groups of applicants will be as follows-

(a) Group A: Applicants having Global Manufacturing Revenue (FY 2019-20) of pharmaceutical goods more than or equal to Rs. 5,000 crore (US$ 690.91 million).

(b) Group B: Applicants having Global Manufacturing Revenue (FY 2019-20) of pharmaceutical goods between Rs. 500 (inclusive) crore (US$ 69.09 million) and Rs. 5,000 crore (US$ 690.91 million).

(c) Group C: Applicants having Global Manufacturing Revenue (FY 2019-20) of pharmaceutical goods less than Rs. 500 crore (US$ 69.09 million). A sub-group for MSME industry will be made within this group, given their specific challenges and circumstances.

Quantum of Incentive:

The total quantum of incentive (inclusive of administrative expenditure) under the scheme is about Rs. 15,000 crore (US$ 2.07 billion). The incentive allocation among the Target Groups is as follows:

(a) Group A: Rs. 11,000 crore (US$ 1.52 billion).

(b) Group B: Rs. 2,250 crore (US$ 310.91 million).

(c) Group C: Rs. 1,750 crore (US$ 241.82 million).

The incentive allocation for Group A and Group C applicants shall not be moved to any-any-another category. However, incentive allocated to Group B applicants, if left underutilized can be moved to Group A applicants.

Financial Year 2019-20 shall be treated as the base year for computation of incremental sales of manufactured goods.

Category of Goods:

The scheme shall cover pharmaceutical goods under three categories as mentioned below:

Category 1
Biopharmaceuticals; Complex generic drugs; Patented drugs or drugs nearing patent expiry; Cell based or gene therapy drugs; Orphan drugs; Special empty capsules like HPMC, Pullulan, enteric etc.; Complex excipients; Phyto-pharmaceuticals: Other drugs as approved.

Category 2
Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients / Key Starting Materials / Drug Intermediates.

Category 3 (Drugs not covered under Category 1 and Category 2)
Repurposed drugs; Auto immune drugs, anti-cancer drugs, anti-diabetic drugs, anti-infective drugs, cardiovascular drugs, psychotropic drugs and anti-retroviral drugs; In vitro diagnostic devices; Other drugs as approved; Other drugs not manufactured in India.

Rate of incentive will be 10% (of incremental sales value) for Category 1 and Category 2 products for first four years, 8% for the fifth year and 6% for the sixth year of production under the scheme.

Rate of incentive will be 5% (of incremental sales value) for Category 3 products for first four years, 4% for the fifth year and 3% for the sixth year of production under the scheme.

The duration of the scheme will be from FY 2020-21 to FY 2028-29. This will include the period for processing of applications (FY 2020-21), optional gestation period of one year (FY 2021-22), incentive for 6 years and FY 2028-29 for disbursal of incentive for sales of FY 2027-28.

Background:

Indian pharmaceutical industry is 3rd largest in the world by volume and is worth US$ 40 billion in terms of value. The country contributes 3.5% of total drugs and medicines exported globally. India exports pharmaceuticals to more than 200 countries and territories including highly regulated markets such as USA, UK, European Union, Canada etc. India has a complete ecosystem for the development and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals with companies having state of the art facilities and highly skilled/technical manpower. The country also has a number of renowned pharmaceutical educational and research institutes and a robust support of allied industries.

At present, low value generic drugs account for the major component of Indian exports, while a large proportion of the domestic demand for patented drugs is met through imports. This is because the Indian Pharmaceutical sector lacks in high value production along with the necessary pharma R&D. In order to incentivize the global and domestic players to enhance investment and production in diversified product categories, a well-designed and suitably targeted intervention is required to incentivise specific high value goods such as bio-pharmaceuticals, complex generic drugs, patented drugs or drugs nearing patent expiry and cell based or gene therapy products etc.

IT Hardware

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister; Mr. Narendra Modi has approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for IT Hardware. The scheme proposes production linked incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the value chain of IT Hardware. The Target Segments under the proposed Scheme include Laptops, Tablets, All-in-One PCs and Servers.

The Scheme shall, extend an incentive of 4% to 2% / 1% on net incremental sales (over base year i.e. 2019-20) of goods manufactured in India and covered under the target segment, to eligible companies, for a period of four (4) years.

The scheme is likely to benefit5 major global players and 10 domestic champions in the field of IT Hardware manufacturing including Laptops, Tablets, All-in-One PCs, and Servers. This is an important segment to promote manufacturing under Aatmanirbhar Bharat as there is huge import reliance for these items at present.

Financial Implications:

The total cost of the proposed scheme is approximately Rs. 7,350 crore (US$ 1.02 billion) over 4 years, which includes an incentive outlay of Rs. 7,325 crore (US$ 1.01 billion) and administrative charges of Rs. 25 crore (US$ 3.45 million).

Benefits:

The scheme will enhance the development of electronics ecosystem in the country. India will be well positioned as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) on account of integration with global value chains, thereby becoming a destination for IT Hardware exports.

The scheme has an employment generation potential of over 1,80,000 (direct and indirect) over 4 years.

The Scheme will provide impetus to Domestic Value Addition for IT Hardware which is expected to rise to 20% – 25% by 2025.

Background:

The vision of National Policy on Electronics 2019 notified on 25.02.2019 is to position India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) by encouraging and driving capabilities in the country for developing core components, including chipsets, and creating an enabling environment for the industry to compete globally.

Currently, the laptop and tablet demand in India is largely met through imports valued at US$ 4.21 billion and US$ 0.41 billion respectively in 2019-20. The market for IT Hardware is dominated by 6-7 companies globally which account for about 70% of the world’s market share. These companies are able to exploit large economies of scale to compete in global markets. It is imperative that these companies expand their operations in India and make it a major destination for manufacturing of IT Hardware.

Given the current global scenario, the world of manufacturing is undergoing a paradigm shift. Manufacturing companies across the globe are looking to diversify their manufacturing locations to mitigate the risk involved in depending on a single market.”

Indian media, entertainment sector to see 27pc revenue growth in FY22: Crisil

Source: IBEF

“According to ratings firm Crisil, the Indian media and entertainment (M&E) sector is projected to grow at 27% in revenue to ~ Rs. 1.37 lakh crore (US$ 18.92 billion) in FY22.

Segments which would recover faster to pre-pandemic levels include digital and television (TV) while print, films, outdoor, and radio would take longer to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Crisil Ratings Ltd. Director Mr. Nitesh Jain said, “Advertising and subscription revenues contribute almost equally to the topline of the overall M&E market.”

In FY22, with a strong economic recovery on the way, ad revenue is expected to increase by 31% YoY and subscription revenue by ~ 24%.

The TV segment contributing about half of the sector’s topline, will register positive growth in FY22. In 2020, Ad sales recovered rapidly driven by the airing of new content, sporting events such as the Indian Premier League and an upbeat festive season.

TV segment registered strong growth in 2020 even for subscriptions as consumers stayed indoors.

The print segment, accounts for a fifth of the M&E market. To remain strong, print businesses are reconfiguring their cost structure and accelerating digital adoption.

Crisil Ratings Ltd. Associate Director Mr. Rakshit Kachhal said, “Digital has emerged as the primary medium of choice. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of over-the-top (OTT) channels, online gaming, e-commerce, e-learning, e-papers and online news platforms.

 

Mr. Kachhal added, “This has indicated that advertisers’ emphasis has moved from mainstream to digital media. Over the medium term, we expect the digital segment revenue to increase 14-16% annually. By FY24, its share of revenue in the M&E sector is projected to double to about 20% compared to last fiscal year.”

Due to solid balance sheets, liquidity and the sales recovery, credit profiles of large media firms will be unaffected, whereas mid-sized and small ones could see pressure.

According to Crisil Ratings, with the rollout of vaccination and strong pipeline of content, occupancies in theatres are expected to improve. However, with the continuation of social distancing norms the recovery in the film segment may take longer.

Crisil said significant cost rationalisation strategies have been implemented by M&E companies. With the incorporation of digital media into the conventional businesses, the pandemic-led shift in customer behaviour has accelerated monetisation opportunities for these players.

Over the longer term, some of these factors could lead to structural changes in the M&E sector’s business models.”

India govt IT spending to grow 9.4% in 2021: Gartner

Source: IBEF

“According to Gartner forecast on Tuesday, government IT expenditure in India is estimated at US$ 7.3 billion in 2021, an increase of 9.4% YoY.

Digital census in 2021 is significant for the growth of government’s IT spending in India.

Ms. Apeksha Kaushik, Principal Research Analyst at Gartner, said, “India’s government will transition from being a cautious spender to opening the fiscal floodgates in 2021.”

In 2021, the Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative (self-reliant India), Make in India and Digital India initiatives of the Indian government will be the centre stage of development.

As per Gartner, in 2021, the software segment, which includes application, technology, and vertical-specific software, will exhibit the fastest development.

Government budgets in India will begin to address the recovery and development needs of communities and industries in 2021, with an emphasis on cost optimization.

Ms. Kaushik, said, “Artificial intelligence (AI) adoption, cloud computing and blockchain, along with greater emphasis on ethics and privacy will be core focus areas for the Indian government.”

“It will be essential to invest in addressing digital equity, defining unique Indian 5G standards and ensuring access to remote citizen services.””

India emerges key mover of global S&T partnerships

Source: IBEF

“Devasthal is a picturesque mountain peak in Uttarakhand from which the snow-capped Himalayas is clearly visible and the nearest settlement is 8 Km away.

The tranquil place far from the maddening crowd however stands out from many such hilly spots is being a symbol of India’s rising position in global science and technology.

The world-class 3.6-meter optical telescope set up at the place has assumed global importance for observing a number of time-critical cosmic explosive events such as Gamma Ray Bursts and Supernovae. It is the Asia’s largest fully steerable optical telescope, an international facility for and people from different parts of the world compete for observation and machine time by submitting research proposals.

It was set up in year 2016 by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous research institute of DST with support from Belgian government and established India’s role as a global player in astronomy research and is facilitating strong future collaborations with national, international institutions and industries.

The technological know-how gained from the development of this telescope and back-end instruments are beneficial for optical facilities planned for future such as the Thirty Meter Telescope – one of the mega projects in which the country is participating.

India has emerged a key mover of global S&T partnerships in critical areas like energy, water, health and astronomy which are global challenges to make the world a better and more scientific place to live in.

Some flagship international partnerships which India has driven include Mission Innovation to boost research, development and innovation and related investment in clean energy, the Dutch Indian Water Alliance for Leadership Initiative (DIWALI), a platform where all stakeholders from both countries could participate and form a consortium for designing solution for water challenges, key role in the functioning of the World Health Organisation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Energy: India is a key player in Mission Innovation’

India played a crucial role in sowing the seed of ‘Mission Innovation’, launched as a partnership of 20 countries in 2015. The country funded 9 RD&D projects under smart grids engaging 17 Indian institutes, 22 foreign institutes and 15 industries and 8 innovators. The country has initiated three R&D programs including national and international bilateral programs to bring in affordable heating and cooling of buildings, supporting 40 R&D projects, engaging over 50 Indian institutes, 15 foreign institutes and 20 industries.

The country is one of the co-leads in Smart Grids Innovation Challenge in coordination with the member countries, which targets innovation and deployment of reliable, efficient and affordable smart grids technologies at regional, distribution and micro-grids levels in various geographical areas to achieve the ability to accommodate 100% renewable based energy sources in power grids.

DST has supported 9 Projects involving 8 countries–Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, UK and USA, for large scale renewable energy generation & integration to conventional grid, transition from conventional vehicle to electric vehicle, cyber physical systems in smart grids and financial & market strategies considering renewable penetration.

DST is leading in the thrust area of Thermal Comfort and actively participating in other five areas of the Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings challenge.

It is furthering thermal comfort research and it is dovetailing with building energy efficiency. The ongoing initiatives include delineation of thermal comfort requirements in built environments to regulate the operating set points of heating and cooling systems. A research program on comfort driven Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system control is being conceived by DST. It is also working with Indian Exhibitions Industry Association (IEIA) on a technology called comfort climate box for tropical regions to develop a sustainable, modular and comfortable living environment for tropical regions

DST, Government of India and Rocky Mountain Institute, USA have launched Global Cooling Prize for encouraging development of cooling technology that requires radically less energy to operate, utilizes refrigerants with no ozone depletion potential and with low global warming potential, and has the potential to be cost-effective at scale.

Water: Dutch Indian Water Alliance for Leadership Initiative (DIWALI)

In order to find solutions for water related challenges a platform called DIWALI has been developed in which India and Netherlands could participate for designing solution for water challenges. The consortium of experts from the two counties would explore the potential and sustainability of Dutch Solutions to resolve challenges in specific water challenged sites in India which are scalable, sustainable and affordable.

Under this initiative The Dutch consortia titled “Water for Change. Integrative and Fit-for-Purpose Water Sensitive Design Framework for Fast Growing Liveable Cities” in 2019. It is being led by IIT Roorkee as lead along with other consortia member named MANIT, Bhopal; CEPT University, Ahmedabad; IIT Gandhinagar; CWRDM, Calicut.

Further, based on assessment of R&D needs for cleaning of Ganga system and study on impacts of agriculture on quality and quantity of water in its basin, the DST and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is stimulating sustainable research collaboration between the two countries. They are supporting joint research in which 13 Indo-Dutch proposals involving premier research and academic organisations from both sides have been funded.

A key mover in international health efforts

The COVID-19 established India’s position as one of the key movers in tackling the pandemic crisis. Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, India, was elected the Chair of World Health Organization’s Executive Board in 2020. India is chairing the Executive Board for 2020-21, taking the baton from Japan and led the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chair of the Executive Board is elected by its members on being nominated by the Regional Committees of the six WHO Regions, by rotation. The government has also allocated Rs. 700 crore (US$ 96.49 million) for COVID-19 related therapeutics including vaccine and 100 crore for non-health issues related to COVID-19.

Besides, the global initiative of Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness for Innovation (CEPI) has identified an Indian laboratory for centralised assessment of COVID-19 vaccines. Translational Health Science And Technology Institute (THSTI), has been recognised by CEPI as one of the global network of laboratories for the assessment.

Global Partnerships on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)

Expanding the areas of its foray of global scientific leadership into new and emerging areas of science, India has joined the ‘Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)’ as a founding member to support the responsible and human-centric development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The country will be participating in the global development of Artificial Intelligence, leveraging its experience around use of digital technologies for inclusive growth. AI being a new and emerging area, while firming up its own strength, India is also looking out for global partnerships with countries like US, UK, Germany, France Russia., Korea and Japan.

As India forges ahead in international collaborations in new and emerging areas in science and technology and in other common global challenges, it will take a leaf out of its association with international projects like mega-science projects– European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and Thirty meter telescope (TMT). While in the earlier ones India contributed to set up facilities in other countries, with the 3.6 meter telescope at Devasthal, it has established a key facility for researchers of the International community to probe the origin of the universe and understand stars and black holes on its own soil. India’s key role in international scientific partnerships in establishing such facilities and in key areas like health, energy and so on is helping the country to rise rapidly in the global S&T map.”

How Australia’s efforts to make big tech cos like Google, FB pay for content may change the future of media

Source: Timesnownews

“New Delhi: Australia compelled big tech giants such as Facebook, Google among others to pay traditional media companies for content. It unveiled a legal framework with an aim to support Australian public interest journalism, supported by all media companies. This was followed by a multi-year deal between Google and News Corp that will lead to the tech giant paying for journalism from news sites around the world.

Experts say the Australian government’s move is a step in the right direction and New Delhi should come out with similar legislations so that it will create a stream of revenue for domestic media publishers who invest a huge amount of money in gathering, fact-checking, editing and producing the news content.

Worth mentioning here is the fact that the government often takes cues from the news and views published by media firms for making policy decisions. But media firms hardly get the desired revenue as big tech firms such as Google and Facebook who use the content (produced by news publishers) to attract advertisers based on their dominance over the online space.

Advertising revenue has shifted from traditional media companies towards tech behemoths, leaving the original content producers struggling for survival. Under the present practice, expenditure is incurred by media companies for producing news content, but the profits are largely taken away by the big tech firms, leaving the original content producers struggling for survival.

From a business point of view, the present model is economically unsustainable and many news publishers have suffered due to the predatory practices followed by the big tech firms. On the other hand, Indian readers are not yet ready to pay for quality journalism. In such a situation, it has become difficult for mainstream media companies to create quality content.

Eminent columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar in a piece in ToI on Sunday wrote, “Some newspapers have now opted for a subscription model … some news is free but premium items require payment. However, any demand for payment reduces circulation, and hence advertising revenue. If newspapers are assured a share of the advertising revenue of internet companies, they can afford to go for the subscription model in a much bigger way.”

Experts say the present model is ethically flawed as tech giants who act as distributors of content, make a profit by hosting the content produced by publishers. Good journalism is essential in a democracy as accurate information and civilised debate are essential to hold power accountable. When publishers who produce accurate news content don’t get paid for their work there is a proliferation of fake news, which is evident now. So it is high time that the Indian government takes a principled stand on the issue like that of Australia.”

India, Australia encouraging circular economy: PM Narendra Modi

Source: NewIndiaExpress

“NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said a circular economy could be an important step in solving many problems the world is facing.

Addressing the India-Australia Circular Economy Hackathon, the Prime Minister said: “Recycling, reusing, eliminating waste and improving resource efficiency must become part of our lifestyle. This hackathon saw innovative solutions from India and Australia.

These innovations will inspire our countries in taking circular economy solutions. We must now also explore ways to scale and incubate these ideas.”

The idea of India Australia Circular Economy Hackathon was proposed during the India-Australia Virtual Leaders’ Summit in June last year.

Modi said consumption-based economic models have resulted in a great burden on the planet and urged people to remember that we do not own the planet.

“It is not enough to make production processes more efficient and less polluting. No matter how fast or slow one drives, if the direction is wrong, then one is bound to reach the wrong destination. And so, we must set the right direction.””

Australia mulls global partnership against tech giants

Source: Economic Times

“Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has discussed his country’s media policy and the bill with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their conversation.

The conversation was held in the backdrop of the Morrison government’s negotiation with tech giants Facebook and Google, which led to temporary suspension of many Australian accounts on social media platforms on Thursday.

“As Comprehensive Strategic Partners, we can work together on common challenges including COVID-19, the circular economy, oceans and an open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific. We also discussed the progress of our media platform Bill,” Morrison tweeted following phone call.

Sources from Australia indicated to ET that Morrison proposed to Modi a coalition on the matter of tech giants. There were no comments from the Indian side on the matter.

Australian Finance Minister has also proposed same with his Canadian counterpart.

But it is not just about India and Canada, Australia will try to build partnerships on the issue with other countries as well.

According to the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code Bill 2020, big tech and social media giants like Facebook and Google will have to pay local news outlets for using their content.

Morrison has repeatedly said that his government will not be browbeaten by the power of the social media giants who have been resisting the rule, saying it runs against the fundamental principle of free movement of information online. On Thursday, many Australian entities and individuals were blocked on Facebook, a move described as “unfriending” by the social media giant.

“”People are looking at what Australia is doing,”” Morrison said, revealing that he has already discussed the law with PM Modi and Trudeau. Morrison also called Facebook’s move “”arrogant”” and “”disappointing”” and called on the American social media behemoth to revoke it.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly agreed to talks between company representatives and Australian government officials over the weekend.

Despite earlier threats to pull its search from Australia over the legislation, Google has softened its stance and instead brokered several deals with large media companies, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.”

India to be fastest-growing ad market in 2021: Pitch Madison Report

Source: IBEF

“The Pitch Madison Advertising Report (PMAR), 2021 has been unveiled and it predicts a 26% growth for Advertising Expenditure (ADEX) in 2021, taking advertising expenditure to Rs. 68,325 crore (US$ 9.41 billion), almost the same level as 2019. After a particularly dull year, commercial activities have returned with a vengeance and the report estimates that India will be the fastest-growing advertising market in the world followed by UK (14.7%) and Australia (13.2%) going by WARC estimate of growth of global markets.

Analysis of current economic indicators shows that slowdown is truly behind us and we are onto the path of a robust recovery in the economy. The PMAR expects a wide variation in growth rates across different mediums with Digital growing by 25%, adding Rs. 4,226 crore (US$ 582.28 million) to its kitty. In traditional media, Print is expected to add as much as Rs. 4,175 crore (US$ 582.28 million) and achieve a growth rate of 35%, followed by Outdoor which should add Rs. 1,158 crore (US$ 159.55 million) resulting in a growth of 90%. Cinema is to achieve a growth rate of 161%, which will take Cinema ADEX to Rs. 475 crore (US$ 65.45 million), which is about half of the 2019 number. Radio is touted to achieve a growth rate of 38% in 2021. This will take Radio ADEX to Rs. 1,750 crore (US$ 241.12 million). TV ADEX is set to grow by 17% to close at Rs. 26,350 crore (US$ 3.63 billion). One must remember that these high growth rates are projected for Print, Outdoor and Radio because of high de-growth rates for these media in 2020.

Mr. Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison World, while unveiling the report, said, “Last year COVID-19 caused havoc to our economy; it is no surprise that ADEX could not remain insulated, it dropped by 20% in 2020 over 2019. Also, almost 1/3 of the traditional ADEX got wiped off in 2020, i.e. it dropped by 29% compared to 2019. COVID-19 damage to Print has been massive and it has seen a degrowth of 41% losing Rs. 8,120 crore (US$ 1.12 billion) out of the total Rs. 13,450 crore (US$ 1.85 billion) that ADEX lost. On the other hand, TV got an ego boost with TV’s share of ADEX increasing to 42% from 37% in 2019. Digital was the only medium to have witnessed a growth in 2020, Digital ADEX has grown by 10% to reach Rs. 17000 crore (US$ 2.34 billion). We do not expect Cinema, Radio, and OOH to return to their 2019 levels.””

It does appear that COVID-19’s negative impact on Indian ADEX has been severe, compared to many other countries of the world including the US, by far the largest ADEX market. As per the estimates, in 2020, total ADEX has degrown by 20% and traditional ADEX by as much as 29%. This level of degrowth was predicted in PMAR’s mid-year report released in August 2020.

In absolute terms, ADEX has degrown from Rs. 67,603 crore (US$ 9.31 billion) to Rs. 54,151 crore (US$ 7.46 billion), a drop of a whopping Rs. 13,452 crore (US$ 1.85 billion), the highest ever drop in one year in the history of Indian ADEX. The last time Indian ADEX has seen any negative growth was way back in 2009 when on account of the Lehman crisis Indian ADEX had degrown by 9%. At Rs. 54,151 crore (US$ 7.46 billion) ADEX today has gone back to the level it had achieved in 2017 and if you look at only traditional ADEX, then it has gone back to the level that we achieved five years ago in 2015.

Top 50 advertisers spend 86% (LY 78%) of their budgets on TV and Digital establishing that these are the two dominant mediums of ADEX, and their relative size also confirms this.”

Australia takes cue from India in pushing back against BRI

Source: Economic Times

“NEW DELHI: Australia has taken a cue from India, its key Indo-Pacific partner, and is all set to distance itself within weeks from China’s mega Belt and Road Initiative that has witnessed pushback in various other continents.

Premier of Australia’s Victoria state Daniel Andrews’ controversial Belt and Road deal with the Chinese government is expected to be rejected by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a few weeks, ET has learnt.

The Victoria state signed a deal with China in 2018 to join BRI. But the Morrison government introduced new laws late last year, giving the federal government power to scrap any state or local government deal with a foreign power if it is deemed “inconsistent with federal foreign affairs policy”.

Andrews has defended BRI, saying it could create jobs for locals but the deal came under scrutiny last year as Australia’s relationship with China soured amid the Covid-19 pandemic, diplomatic sources recalled.

India is not a signatory to BRI and did not attend two BRI summits held so far as BRI’sflagship project CPEC passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) violates Indian sovereignty. Delhi is also of the opinion that BRI is pushing countries into a debt trap.

Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane had recently alleged that the BRI aims to “create regional dependencies”. Speaking at Assam Rifles-United Services institution joint annual seminar, he said, “”Regional security environment is characterised by Chinese belligerence in the Indo-Pacific, its hostility towards weaker nations and relentless drive to create regional dependencies through initiatives like the BRI. The resultant Sino-US rivalry has created regional imbalances and instability””.

The army chief had pointed out that “”regional and internal connectivity is acutely linked to security”” and “”it is central to unleashing the potential of the North East and balancing the influence of China””.

India-Australia growing strategic partnership is aimed at counter-balancing Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region and both are part of a resilient supply chain initiative that also involves Japan.

Australian laws could further worsen ties between Australia and its largest trading partner, which have been worsening since last April, when Morrison called for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus. Beijing has since then introduced a range of trade reprisals, including imposing crippling tariffs on Australian barley and wine while blocking coal shipments.

Besides the BRI deal signed by Victoria, which aims to increase Chinese participation in new infrastructure projects, the law may allow the federal government to review and overturn memorandums of understanding between Beijing and the governments of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania in sectors ranging from investment, science cooperation and access to the Antarctic, ET has further learnt. Partnerships between Australian universities and Beijing-sponsored bodies could also be scrapped.”

India, Sweden join hands to host digital hackathon on mobility

Source: IBEF

“India and Sweden will host a 42-hour digital hackathon on mobility to tackle issues regarding safe and sustainable transportation. The ‘Sweden-India Mobility Hackathon: Changing the way we move!’ aims to “”design, test and execute ideas”” for the future and will take place from February 26 to 28.

Organised jointly by the Embassy of Sweden, the Consulate General of Sweden in Mumbai and the Swedish Institute, it invites students, entrepreneurs, innovation enthusiasts, developers, designers, creatives and mobility experts across both the countries.

According to the organisers, the participants will collaborate on digital innovations to create functioning solutions to predetermined challenges like “”lethal accidents in traffic, safe and sustainable transport, air pollution/emissions from the traffic sector, infrastructure for connected vehicles and sustainable logistics””.

“”Sustainable transport and road safety are areas that our governments are deeply engaged in. As emissions, traffic accidents and inefficient traffic flows characterise more and more of the world’s major cities, the hack aims to develop solutions to these problems,”” said Mr. Klas Molin, Ambassador of Sweden to India. “”It’s very encouraging to see that several Indian organisations and companies have joined the hackathon as partners,”” Mr. Molin said.

Ms. Anna Lekvall, Consul General of Sweden in Mumbai, added, Innovation is at the heart of the Sweden India relationship, and safe, sustainable transport has grown immensely as a vital new area of co-operation.”” “”The Sweden-India Mobility Hackathon is expanding this partnership, providing a strong platform for students, start-ups, companies, experts from the two countries to co-create new solutions for mobility. Together, we can change the way we move, Lekvall added.

According to the statement, the theme of the hackathon has a strong connection to the “”joint innovation partnership”” that exists between India and Sweden and the Sweden-India Transport Safety and Innovation Platform (SITIS), which was launched in February last year.

The event is supported by several Swedish and Indian partners including start-ups, incubators, research institutes, innovation cells, road safety organisations and companies in sectors of sustainability, automotive and transport, it said.”

India launches PLI scheme to become hub of global telecom manufacturing

Source: IBEF

“The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products with a budgetary outlay of Rs. 12,195 crore (US$ 1.67 billion).

The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme intends to promote manufacture of Telecom and Networking Products in India and proposes a financial incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract investments in the target segments of telecom and networking products in order to encourage Make in India. The scheme will also encourage exports of telecom and networking products ‘Made in India’.

Support under the Scheme will be provided to companies/entities engaged in manufacturing of specified telecom and networking products in India. Eligibility will be further subject to achievement of a minimum threshold of cumulative incremental investment over a period of four years and incremental sales of manufactured goods net of taxes (as distinct from traded goods) over the Base Year 2019-2020. The cumulative investment can be made at one go, subject to annual cumulative threshold as prescribed for four years being met.

Globally Telecom and Networking Products exports represent and US$ 100 billion market opportunity, which can be exploited by India. With support under the scheme, India will augment capacities by attracting large investments from global players and at the same time encourage promising domestic champion companies to seize the emerging opportunities and become big players in the export market.

In continuation of “”Atmanirbhar Bharat-Strategies for enhancing India’s Manufacturing capabilities and enhancing exports””, this scheme is part of the umbrella scheme approved by the cabinet in November 2020 for implementation of PLI under various Ministries/ Departments including Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

There will be a minimum investment threshold of Rs. 10 crore (US$ 1.37 million) for MSME with incentives from 7% to 4 % and Rs. 100 crore (US$ 13.73 million) for others with incentives from 6% to 4 % over 5 year above Base Year. The applicants with higher investments than specified threshold under MSME and Non MSME categories will be selected through transparent process.

With this scheme, India will be well positioned as a global hub for manufacturing of Telecom and Networking Products. Incremental production around Rs. 2 Lakh crore (US$ 27.46 billion) is expected to be achieved over 5 years. India will improve its competitiveness in manufacturing with increased value addition.

It is expected that scheme will bring more than Rs. 3,000 crore (US$ 411.96 million) investment and generate huge direct and indirect employments.

Through this policy, India will move towards self-reliance. By incentivizing large scale manufacturing in India, domestic value addition will increase gradually. Provision of higher incentive to MSME will encourage domestic telecom manufacturers to become part of the global supply chain”

Made-In-India Koo Gains 900,000 Users In 5 Days

Source: IBEF

“An Indian alternative to Twitter Inc., the Koo app, which lets users send out tweet-like posts in English as well as seven Indian languages, shot to prominence after Twitter got into a weeks-long standoff with the government over blocking certain content.

Koo, whose logo of a yellow chick bears a resemblance to Twitter’s blue-and-white bird, was founded just a year ago and is a fraction the size of Twitter. During February 1-14, Koo generated 2.5 million downloads in India, an increase of 1,556% from the 151,000 installs it accumulated in the two weeks prior, according to Sensor Tower’s estimates.

Twitter’s clash with the government has echoes of its controversial decisions in the US, including the banning of Donald Trump after riots in Washington, DC. In India, the government pressed the social media company to block accounts because of farmer protests over agricultural laws that the government said included misinformation and threats to national security.

Twitter first resisted and then complied with most orders, shutting hundreds of accounts the government had flagged. However, Twitter refused to ban others, citing freedom of expression. Politicians like Mr Piyush Goyal urged followers to go to Koo which led to a 20-fold explosion in daily users Mr. Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder and CEO of Koo, said the start-up’s primary goal is not political at all, but rather to expand the reach of social media to a broader demographic. “”We are building for 100% of India and not just the top 1%. You may not be able to follow Elon Musk on Koo, but you can connect with Indians who speak and write in a multitude of languages.””

The country’s Supreme Court has asked the government and Twitter for input on litigation over how to curb toxic content and fake news online. Any ban on Twitter in India could hit user growth in a critical market. The sudden rise of Koo has sparked privacy concerns over its collection of personal data and security questions because one of its investors is China’s Shunwei Capital. While Koo plans to buy out the Chinese venture firm, Radhakrishna is mostly focused on building the capability to serve more users.”

India & Australia expand space cooperation

Source: Economic Times

“A new agreement between the Australia and India signed on Tuesday will further unlock space collaboration between the two countries as the sectors continue to grow and create jobs.

The amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Space Agency and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), builds on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between Australia and India announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews has said that the new agreement strengthens existing ties between Australia and India and allows the two countries to work closer than ever in space for the benefit of both nations.

“Space is an exciting frontier and we can achieve great things by working together, including enhancing space science, technology and research collaboration – all while boosting our economies and creating jobs,” Andrews said.

“As one of Australia’s National Manufacturing Priorities, space is a key focus of our Government and we are delighted to work closely with India. Discussions are already underway for Australia to host vital tracking infrastructure as part of India’s Gaganyaan missions, which will place India as the fourth country to put humans in space.”

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said the signing symbolises the importance of the strong collaborative partnership between the Agency and ISRO, which will look to identify new areas of cooperation in space technology, applications, education and outreach.

“ISRO’s experience in spacecraft and systems engineering and ground stations to support space activities makes them a strategic partner for Australia as we grow our own national space capability and open doors for Australian business internationally,” Palermo said.

“Today’s signing signals a valuable opportunity for Australia to play a role in the Gaganyaan missions, further engage industry to grow our sector, and expand cooperation with India in space, science and research activities in the years to come.”

The Morrison Government is investing more than $700 million to triple the size of Australia’s space sector by 2030 to $12 billion and create another 20,000 jobs.”

Tata Communications partners with Google Cloud in India

Source: IBEF

“On Tuesday, Tata Communications announced a collaboration with Google Cloud in India to accelerate cloud adoption and transform businesses in India. Tata Communications has also extended their managed portfolio of public cloud services with this alliance to include Google Cloud capabilities.

As part of this alliance, Tata Communications and Google Cloud India will help firms through the IZO Managed Cloud of Tata Communications to implement and access Google Cloud services while providing them with ease-of-use paired with end-to-end services. Such resources include cloud infrastructure preparation, relocation of workloads and ongoing operational support.

It offers resources, technology, and support services to drive business growth and boost performance in order to give users a brief overview of Tata Communications’ IZO Managed Cloud service. Its IZO Cloud Command portal provides a single-pane glass orchestration platform that incorporates into a single dashboard various enterprise IT environments and simplifies the management and orchestration of the IT estate.

Tata Communications stated that as a partner of Google Cloud India, it will help organisations with technology modernization, transformation of data centres, modernization of apps, smart analytics, multi-cloud deployments and more services.

Mr. Amitabh Jacob, Head of Partners and Alliances at Google Cloud India said, “How organisations embrace a cloud-first strategy would be the true test of 2021. We will be able to provide our clients with a unified, end-to-end solution through our collaboration with Tata Communications, which will eliminate the complexities of cloud management and help them transition at speed and scale.””

Amazon India to commence Electronic Devices Manufacturing in India

Source: IBEF

“Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology, Communications and Law & Justice, today held a virtual meeting with Mr. Amit Agarwal, Amazon’s Global Senior Vice President and Country Head for India. Range of issues related to digital sector were discussed during this meeting. After this meeting Amazon India has made an announcement to start manufacturing of electronics products from India. To begin with, Amazon is going to start manufacturing of Amazon Fire TV stick from India.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, Government of India said “India is an attractive investment destination and is poised to become a major player in the global supply chain in the electronics and IT products industry. Our Government’s decision to launch a Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme has received tremendous response globally. We welcome Amazon’s decision to set up a manufacturing line in Chennai, as it will enhance domestic production capacities, and create jobs as well. This will further our mission of creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat which is digitally empowered.” Minister also mentioned that it is only a beginning for Amazon’s efforts to manufacture electronics products from India for India and export markets.

Amazon will commence its manufacturing efforts with contract manufacturer Cloud Network Technology, a subsidiary of Foxconn in Chennai and start production later this year. The device manufacturing program will be able to produce hundreds of thousands of Fire TV Stick devices every year, catering to the demands of customers in India. Amazon will continuously evaluate scaling capacity to additional marketplaces/cities depending on the domestic demand.

India has taken several key steps to encourage electronics manufacturing in India. The Production Linked Manufacturing (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing has emerged as a major success with many international companies commencing production of electronics goods from India. Entry of Amazon in this sector adds to the success story of electronics manufacturing in India.

IT Minister wrote on Koo- “Under the leadership of PM Mr. Narendra Modi, electronics manufacturing in India has recently attracted some of the biggest investments from global giants. Happy to share Amazon India is the latest to join this success story of India.”

https://www.kooapp.com/koo/RaviShankarPrasad-J1VB/CDKEH

Mr. Prasad asked Amazon India to help in taking products made by India’s artisans and Ayurvedic products to global markets through eCommerce Platform. He said, “”Amazon is a global company but Amazon India must evolve as a truly India company deeply connected with Indian business community and culture.”””

RBI announces Rs. 10,000 crore special open market operations on February 25

Source: IBEF

“On February 15, 2021, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced that it would conduct simultaneous sales and purchases of government bonds under a special open market operation (OMO) on February 25, 2021.

On the day (on February 25, 2021), the RBI will purchase and sell bonds worth Rs. 10,000 crore (US$ 1.38 billion) each.

RBI said, “The Reserve Bank has agreed to conduct simultaneous purchases and sales of government securities under OMO for an aggregate amount of Rs. 10,000 crore (US$ 1.38 billion) each on 25 February 2021, following a review of existing liquidity and financial conditions.”

To help the liquidity situation in the market and control the bond price, the RBI conducts special OMOs.

On February 10, 2021, the RBI conducted an OMO under which it purchased Rs. 20,000 crore (US$ 2.75 billion) worth of government bonds. The RBI also plays the role of the government as a debt manager.

Rs. 12 lakh crore (US$ 165.25 billion) massive government borrowing programme for the year was promised by RBI Governor Mr. Shaktikanta Das to be carried out smoothly.

Mr. Vinay Pai, Head-Fixed Income, Equirus Capital stated that to handle the borrowing, the central bank would have to conduct at least Rs. 2 lakh crore (US$ 27.54 billion) value OMOs in the next year. The path to liquidity normalisation has already been set by the RBI, with the cash reserve ratio being restored to 4% in two phases. Treasury dealers expect that to prevent the borrowing cost from rising, more OMOs would be needed.”

Indian IT industry to grow by 2.3% in FY21 despite contraction in tech spends: NASSCOM

Source: IBEF

“In FY21, Indian IT industry revenues are estimated to increase by 2.3% to US$ 194 billion and exports will increase by 1.9% to US$ 150 billion, NASSCOM said on Monday.

In FY20, the industry added 1.38 lakh new employees, taking the total employment to 44.7 lakh.

The body’s president Ms. Debjani Ghosh said, “We have emerged from the crisis more robust and more important. We have been the bellwether to lead the COVID-19 war. Industry has been the first sector to recover from the crisis caused by the pandemic and has hit progress.”

As per the report, the numbers disclosed by listed firms, the total transaction pipeline is over US$ 15 billion.

71% of the 100 industry chief executives stated global technology investment would be higher in 2021, as per the forecast.”

24 countries set to participate in the 2nd MARITIME INDIA SUMMIT- 2021 which starts from 2nd March

Source: IBEF

“Around 20,000 delegates will participate, 24 partner countries will join, and more than 400 Projects are set to be showcased in the 2nd edition of Maritime India Summit (MIS) 2021 to be held virtually from March 2 to March 4, 2021. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Maritime India Summit-2021 on 2nd March. The event is being organised by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) jointly with FICCI as Industrial Partner and EY as Knowledge Partner.

Addressing a Curtain Raiser press-conference today at the National Media Centre, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya said that the Maritime India Summit (MIS) is going to provide a powerful platform for international collaboration and bring in partner countries for mutual exchange of knowledge and opportunities.

Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya and senior officials also launched a brochure and the website www.maritimeindiasummit.in for the MIS-2021 during the press conference. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation, the entire summit will be held on virtual platform www.maritimeindiasummit.in. The registration for the visitors and exhibitors will start from today with the launch.

Dr. Sanjiv Ranjan, Secretary of Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways briefly explained the Budget 2021-22 announcements related to Ports , Shipping and Maritime sector and termed them as pathbreaking initiatives to promote Aatmanirbhar Bharat. A whole new range of opportunities will be opening up with the passing of Major Ports Authorities Bill 2020 in the parliament yesterday, Dr. Rajan added.

The MIS 2021 will provide a unique platform which will have physical and virtual presence of prominent shipping and transport ministers/ dignitaries from across the world. Maritime States of India will participate in the Summit through dedicated sessions. The Summit will also include an exclusive CEOs’ forum and various thematic/ breakout sessions.

For further information, the MIS-20021 website can be accessed : www.maritimeindiasummit.in”

RBI to allow retail investors to directly enter govt securities market

Source: IBEF

“On Friday, in a significant decision aimed at promoting small investors to become direct investors in government bonds or simply an indefinite source of government borrowing, the Reserve Bank said it would enable them to purchase government debt directly, making India the first Asian country to do so and among a few globally.

The central bank, responsible for implementing a value of Rs. 12 lakh crore (US$ 164.37 billion) in the next fiscal government borrowing goal, expects that the change would allow the gold market in particular to become more profound and the overall debt market in general to deepen the financial markets as the lack of depth has been the largest ban on the national debt market all the while.

The RBI has provided a large, endless tap to borrow from the government—just as it is now done in the domestic stock market, with the only exception being that it will be under the RBI’s direct supervision.

The RBI is currently allowing small investors to purchase government bonds through the Gobid BSE and NSE platform

Although no country, allows direct retail participation as RBI has now allowed. Britain, Brazil and Hungary allow small investors to purchase/sell through third-party controls.

This is the second massive opportunity that the RBI is taking to enable retail investors to enter the gold market after a few years ago permitting entry through the stock exchanges.

All investor has to open a golden securities account (‘retail direct’) with the RBI, while specifics of the facility will be released separately.

While announcing the monetary policy, Governor Mr. Shaktikanta Das stated that as part of ongoing efforts to increase retail participation in government securities and to enhance ease of access, it was agreed to step beyond the aggregator model and provide online retail investors with a access to government securities market (primary and secondary). In addition to this, investors have the facility to open a gilt securities account (retail direct) with the RBI.

With several initiatives such as the implementation of non-competitive bidding in primary auctions, allowing stock exchanges to serve as aggregators/facilitators for retail investors and allowing odd-lot segments in the secondary market of NDS-OM (negotiated dealing system-order matching), RBI has long promoted retail involvement in the government securities market.”

India invites global defence and aerospace companies to set up manufacturing units

Source: IBEF

“On Wednesday, India invited global defence and aerospace firms to establish manufacturing plants in the country, taking advantage of various government initiatives in the region. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi stated that India provides limitless defence and aerospace capacity.

Mr. Modi wrote on Twitter, “Aero India is a brilliant forum for collaborations in these areas. The Government of India has initiated ground-breaking reforms In these fields, which will add impetus to our mission to become Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant).” Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Aero India-2021, at Air Force Station at Yelahanka, Defence Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh invited global companies in the field to build production units in the country and leverage various initiatives taken by the government in the field.

Mr. Rajnath Singh said, “The central government has implemented several defence sector reforms since 2014 to create a favourable export, Foreign Direct Investment and offset discharge landscape. I have been told that about 540 exhibitors are engaging in the gathering, including 80 foreign companies, Defence Ministers, Delegates, Chiefs of Service and officials from more than 55 nations. This represents a growing optimism of the global community.”

He further stated that it is pleasing to witness such as a large number of participants at this year’s gathering, considering the constraints posed by the global pandemic. Aero India 21 will demonstrate India’s enormous potential and many prospects that our country provides in the defence and aerospace sectors.”

Infosys Collaborates with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy to Digitally Transform its Operations by Implementing SAP S/4HANA in 50+ Countries

Source: IBEF

“Infosys was selected as a strategic partner by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE), for the implementation of SAP S/4HANA to deliver a globally harmonised ERP framework. The implementation will allow Siemens Gamesa to become an agile, global digitalization organisation, while improving its digital capabilities, supply and competitive capabilities.

A Greenfield SAP S/4HANA solution has been successfully deployed by Infosys across 7 nations, replacing 2 legacy ERP systems. Teams from Infosys and Siemens Gamesa co-engineered and created a solution framework that helped minimise complexity in record time across business processes and technical ecosystems. The solution is intended to increase company output around the supply chain.

This transition will allow real-time reporting, a digitally empowered workforce, reduced go-to-market time and is the cornerstone of the next-generation application landscape of Siemens Gamesa. In addition, Siemens Gamesa has contracted Infosys for an industrialised rollout in more than 50 countries, 22 manufacturing facilities covering all business units (including onshore, offshore, services and corporate functions).

Mr. Alan Feeley, CIO of Siemens Gamesa said, “A key component of our company-wide strategy towards process quality, standardisation and industrialization is the introduction of a single S/4HANA framework across all business units and regions. These first live measures across 7 countries, helping all business forms, have demonstrated the importance of the greenfield opportunity to analyse, achieving a secure efficient environment through Infosys across Hybrid Azure cloud. This single and global framework offers a virtually zero “”change the standard”” approach that provides opportunity for the future in sustainable cost control & upgrade proofing. Infosys has shown admirable ‘staying strength’ and has supplied a good product while completely satisfying our aspirations of becoming a partner.”

Mr. Jasmeet Singh, EVP and Global Manufacturing Head, Infosys, said, “For business continuity, particularly today, an effective ERP system is essential. As we collaborate to deliver innovation through business process harmonisation and technology leadership, leveraging Infosys Cobalt, our strategic collaboration with Siemens Gamesa will take their digital transformation journey to its next stage.””

Rs. 3,05,984 Crore scheme to be launched for a Revamped Reforms-based Result-Linked Power Distribution Sector

Source: IBEF

“Expressing serious concern over the viability of power distribution companies, Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech of 2021-22, proposed an outlay of Rs. 3,05,984 crore (US$ 41.96 billion) over 5 years for a revamped reforms- based result-linked power distribution sector Scheme. The Scheme will help DISCOMS for infrastructure creation, including pre-paid smart metering and feeder separation, up gradation of systems, etc. tied to financial improvements.

In her budget speech, Ms. Sitharaman also pointed towards the monopolies of distribution companies across the country and proposed to put in place a competitive framework to give consumers alternatives to choose from among more than one distribution companies.

“The past 6 years have seen a number of reforms and achievements in the power sector, we have added 139 Giga watts of installed capacity, connected an additional 2.8 crore households and added 1.41 lakh circuit km of transmission lines”, said Ms. Sitharaman.

For a green and sustainable future, the Finance Minister also proposed to launch a comprehensive National Hydrogen Energy Mission in 2021-22 for generating Hydrogen from green power sources fulfilling the announcement made by Prime Minister in November 2020.”

India could be next big trade market for Australian exporters, says Dan Tehan

Source: Financial Express

“Australia’s trade relations with its major trading partner China deteriorated last year when Australia supported a call for an international inquiry into China’s handling of COVID-19.

India could be next big trade market for Australian exporters, says Dan Tehan
By: PTI | January 28, 2021 5:11 PM
Australia’s trade relations with its major trading partner China deteriorated last year when Australia supported a call for an international inquiry into China’s handling of COVID-19.
india australia trade relations

China is Australia’s largest trading partner accounting for over a third of all Australian exports.
India could emerge as the next big trade market for Australian exporters, the country’s trade minister has said, after China imposed heavy tariffs and sanctions on several Australian export commodities amidst a strain in relations with Beijing.

Australia’s trade relations with its major trading partner China deteriorated last year when Australia supported a call for an international inquiry into China’s handling of COVID-19, which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

China took several measures that restricted Australian imports, ranging from levying new tariffs to imposing bans. China imposed sanctions and tariffs on several Australian commodities including barley, timber, coal, cotton, wine and lobster.

Australia, for its part, asked the World Trade Organisation to mediate in their dispute over stiff duties on Australian barley in the Chinese market.

Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan on Wednesday flagged India as its top priority while looking at new trade opportunities across the globe.

“We haven’t had a formal trade ministers meeting with China for over three years, this is something we have been seeking to constructively engage with China for over three years,” he said.

“Looking to really boost the relationship with India, there’s enormous opportunities there. We have to be patient but we have to be very proactive with India,” he said.

He said that Japan, Vietnam, the new Joe Biden administration in the US, all present many opportunities for Australia and that’s what he will be focussing on, as well as seeking to constructively engage with the Chinese.

Tehan said, ”The India relationship — which is incredibly important to us, and I’d really like to prioritise that — is something we’re going to have to be patient about.”

China is Australia’s largest trading partner accounting for over a third of all Australian exports, worth more than 150 billion Aus dollars a year while trade with India stands at over 30 billion Aus dollars.

On Wednesday, Australian treasurer Josh Frydenberg lashed out at China’s recent actions on imposing sanctions and tariffs and said “Well, we agree with that sentiment that big nations should not bully small ones but there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between the words and the actions.”

“The reality is, Australia has been on the receiving end of some pretty harsh actions when it comes to our trade.””

Business and investment can ride the wave of closer relations between India and Australia

Source: IntoIndia

“Yesterday was both Indian Republic Day and Australia Day – and in these times the closeness of the two countries makes us more aware of what we have in common.

Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison wrote yesterday that: “While, for now, our people are separated, the truth is that Australia and India are closer than we have ever been. Our progress is unchecked. We’ve taken huge strides in the last year, and, despite its enormous hardship and loss, 2020 will be remembered as a pivotal moment in our friendship.”

Business and investment can become the next step in the “huge strides” in the friendship of the two great democracies.

India’s growth and demand right now means that every sector of Australian business should have an “India strategy” and become part of this amazing growth story – and the future closeness of the two countries.”

Wonderful coincidence of Republic Day and Australia Day indicates our natural partnership

Source: Economic Times

“A little over two years ago, shortly after I became Australia’s Prime Minister, President Ram Nath Kovind visited our shores. Together, we travelled to Parramatta, in Sydney, to unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and observe multicultural Australia in action. It was a moment I cherish.

That same day, the President spoke of “our togetherness”. When settlers first arrived in Australia in the 18th century, it was India that provided supplies to nourish and house them. This was the beginning of “the India connect” that saw us fight together – “in trenches and faraway lands” – and it continues to grow to this day.

Just over a century ago, one of Australia’s early Prime Ministers Alfred Deakin had a lifelong love of India. For a time, he lived in India, then wrote about it. He wrote this about our two countries: the distance which separates us … is being steadily diminished … year by year.

It is a remarkable history, and our times are drawing us closer. Our nations are guided by the same ideals: of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. And we celebrate these values today – January 26 – as we both mark our national days; a wonderful coincidence of history.

The steady gains we have made over many decades, and especially in recent times, are impressive. But if there was ever a year that might have threatened that progress, it was 2020.

Covid-19 has claimed lives and livelihoods around the world. It has kept us apart from our families, friends and loved ones, and made even the smallest geographical distance seem like a chasm.

We have felt that distance here in Australia. Almost 700,000 Australians have Indian ancestry, and many of our Indian community have told me how hard it was not to be able to travel to see family, or have family visit them, during the pandemic. As a nation continent, border controls have kept Australia relatively safe from Covid-19.

I know that Indian students, many of whom live and study here, have had it particularly tough, and are eager to return. I am looking forward to when more can return.

While, for now, our people are separated, the truth is that Australia and India are closer than we have ever been. Our progress is unchecked. We’ve taken huge strides in the last year, and, despite its enormous hardship and loss, 2020 will be remembered as a pivotal moment in our friendship.

In June, I met virtually once again with my good friend, Prime Minister Modi. Together we elevated our bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

This was truly historic. For Australia, it underscores the importance we place on our partnership with India, and that we see this relationship as one of our most important. Under this agreement we are cooperating in new ways – in the fields of defence, science, technology, commerce, maritime and cyber issues. This growing collaboration speaks to our shared values, common interests, our capabilities, and the trust we have in each other.

Last year also saw Australia and India work together as part of the Quad, which also includes the United States and Japan. The collective resolve of this diplomatic network in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific – the region we call home – has never been more important.

The Indo-Pacific faces unprecedented challenges, and the values we share are under enormous pressure. This will only increase as the region continues to respond to Covid-19, and we need to ensure it remains governed by rules, norms and international law, not power alone. This, of course, includes the Indian Ocean, which is more vital than ever to our security and prosperity.

But such work cannot be done by one country. It will take many of us doing our bit and understanding that we are all here to make a contribution, not just take one. As PM Modi often says: vasudhaiva kutumbakam. The world is one family.

Australia knows that, in India, we have a friend and natural partner who will help build a region where every nation can prosper.

So on this day – Australia Day and Republic Day – let us celebrate our democratic values and the gains we have made across our relationship in the past year. Our countries are closer than ever, and we will continue to close the distance in 2021 – including, I hope, by our people coming together safely once again.”

India is not just an alternate market – India is THE market to vigorously pursue

Source: AIBC

“Dear Editor

India is not just an alternate market – India is THE market to vigorously pursue

The article “India trade pitch a big ask” by Glenda Korporaal in the Australian newspaper edition dated 22 January
is disappointing and demonstrates a surprising lack of understanding of the growing trade and investment
relationship between Australia and India. This was highlighted in these comments from the Hon Simon
Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment: “No single market offers more growth opportunity for
Australian business than India out to 2035”.

Secondly, India like Australia and other countries is combatting such anticipated contraction by taking proactive
economic measures and simultaneously managing the challenges of COVID-19 with a population of over 1.4 billon
people.

Thirdly, Indian economy is rebounding reaching 50,000 points exactly at the same time of your article, which is the highest ever in India’s history and speaks for itself. The China comparison is a red herring. There is a rock-solid relationship of trust between Australia and India that is echoed by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Scott

Morrison. There is a long history of shared western culture, speaking English and a similar judicial system – not to
mention curry, cricket and the Commonwealth. There could not be a starker contrast with China. This is
compounded India’s youthful population contrasting with China’s non-English speaking aging population. This
reality is now understood by the smart business groups like Business Council of Australia, Export Council of
Australia, Australian Industry Group, and received bipartisan support.

The virtual meeting between the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and the nine comprehensive agreements between the two countries, the newly appointed
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan efforts to fast tracking Free Trade Agreement with India speak volumes of
Australia’s confidence and huge trust in India’s economic capabilities. Australia India Business Council through
established Industry Chapters and a pragmatic approach is significantly progressing achieving greater business to
business collaborations and sees itself as a significant player in the growing Australia India economic partnership.”

Science has delivered, will the WTO deliver? TRIPS waiver proposal from India, South Africa and other members

Source: AIBC

“A proposal by India, South Africa and eight other countries calls on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to exempt member countries from enforcing some patents, and other Intellectual Property (IP) rights under the organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, known as TRIPS, for a limited period of time. It is to ensure that IPRs do not restrict the rapid scaling- up of manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. While a few members have raised concerns about the proposal, a large proportion of the WTO membership supports the proposal. It has also received the backing of various international organizations, multilateral agencies and global civil society.

Unprecedented times call for unorthodox measures. We saw this in the efficacy of strict lockdowns for a limited period, as a policy intervention, in curtailing the spread of the pandemic. International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its October 2020 edition of World Economic Outlook states “…However, the risk of worse growth outcomes than projected remains sizable. If the virus resurges, progress on treatments and vaccines is slower than anticipated, or countries’ access to them remains unequal, economic activity could be lower than expected, with renewed social distancing and tighter lockdowns”. The situation appears to be grimmer than predicted, we have already lost 7% of economic output from the baseline scenario projected in 2019. It translates to a loss of more than USD 6 trillion of global GDP. Even a 1% improvement in global GDP from the baseline scenario will add more than USD 800 billion in global output, offsetting the loss certainly of a much lower order to a sector of economy on account of the Waiver.

Merely a signal to ensure timely and affordable access to vaccines and treatments will work as a big confidence booster for demand revival in the economy. With the emergence of successful vaccines, there appears to be some hope on the horizon. But how will these be made accessible and affordable to global population? The fundamental question is whether there will be enough of Covid-19 vaccines to go around. As things stand, even the most optimistic scenarios today cannot assure access to Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics for the majority of the population, in rich as well as poor countries, by the end of 2021. All the members of the WTO have agreed on one account that there is an urgent need to scale-up the manufacturing capacity for vaccines and therapeutics to meet the massive global needs. The TRIPS Waiver Proposal seeks to fulfil this need by ensuring that IP barriers do not come in the way of such scaling up of manufacturing capacity.

Why existing flexibilities under the TRIPS Agreement are not enough

The existing flexibilities under the TRIPS Agreement are not adequate as these were not designed keeping pandemics in mind. Compulsory licenses are issued on a country by country, case by case and product by product basis, where every jurisdiction with an IP regime would have to issue separate compulsory licenses, practically making collaboration among countries extremely onerous. While we encourage the use of TRIPS flexibilities, the same are time-consuming and cumbersome to implement. Hence, only their use cannot ensure the timely access of affordable vaccines and treatments. Similarly, we have not seen a very encouraging progress on WHO’s Covid19-Technology Access Pool or the C-TAP initiative, which encourages voluntary contribution of IP, technology and data to support the global sharing and scale-up of the manufacturing of COVID- 19 medical products. Voluntary Licenses, even where they exist, are shrouded in secrecy. Their terms and conditions are not transparent. Their scope is limited to specific amounts or for a limited subset of countries, thereby encouraging nationalism rather than true international collaboration.

Why is there a need to go beyond existing global cooperation initiatives?

Global cooperation initiatives such as the COVAX Mechanism and the ACT-Accelerator are inadequate to meet the massive global needs of 7.8 billion people. The ACT-A initiative aims to procure 2 billion doses of vaccines by the end of next year and distribute them fairly around the world. With a two-dose regime, however, this will only cover 1 billion people. That means that even if ACT-A is fully financed and successful, which is not the case presently, there would not be enough vaccines for the majority of the global population.

Past experience

During the initial few months of the current pandemic, we have seen that shelves were emptied by those who had access to masks, PPEs, sanitizers, gloves and other essential Covid-19 items even without their immediate need. The same should not happen to vaccines. Eventually, the world was able to ramp up manufacturing of Covid-19 essentials as there were no IP barriers hindering that. At present, we need the same pooling of IP rights and know-how for scaling up the manufacturing of vaccines and treatments, which unfortunately has not been forthcoming, necessitating the need for the Waiver.

It is the pandemic – an extraordinary, once in a lifetime event – that has mobilized the collaboration of multiple stakeholders. It is knowledge and skills held by scientists, researchers, public health experts and universities that have enabled the cross-country collaborations and enormous public funding that has facilitated the development of vaccines in record time – and not alone IP!

Way forward

The TRIPS waiver proposal is a targeted and proportionate response to the exceptional public health emergency that the world faces today. Such a Waiver is well-within the provisions of Article IX of the Marrakesh Agreement which established the WTO. It can help in ensuring that human lives are not lost for want of a timely and affordable access to vaccines. The adoption of the Waiver will also re-establish WTO’s credibility and show that multilateral trading system continues to be relevant and can deliver in times of a crisis. Now is the time for WTO members to act and adopt the Waiver to save lives and help in getting the economy back on the revival path quickly.

While making the vaccines available was a test of science, making them accessible and affordable is going to be a test of humanity. History should remember us for the “AAA rating” i.e. for Availability, Accessibility and Affordability of Covid19 vaccines and treatments and not for a single “A rating” for Availability only. Our future generations deserve nothing less.”

India, Australia will gain from expanded trade of lithium resources, says Aus High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell

Source: Economic Times

“New Delhi: Australia and India both gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources, said the Australian High Commissioner, Barry O’Farrell on Thursday.

While speaking at a session of the Indo-Australian Chamber of Commerce on ‘Lithium: Powering a New Australia-India Partnership’, he said both the countries stand to gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources.

“Lithium, and Li-ion and other technologies, will can play a key role. Indeed, India’s ambitious renewable energy targets have led to an expansion of its clean energy commitments,” he said.

O’Farrell added, “Lithium metal-based battery technologies will form the key component of the push for the rollout of EV and hybrid vehicle–and Australia and India both stand to gain from the promise of expanding trade in lithium resources.

“As many of you are already aware, Australia is a reliable and cost-competitive supplier of resource and energy commodities. Australia is the world’s largest producer of lithium–and has the second-largest lithium reserves in the world. And, as a market leader in Mining Equipment, Technology, and Services (METS), our firms can contribute to the development of India’s own lithium resources,” he said.

The Australian High Commissioner mentioned that India’s ambitious renewable energy targets have led to an expansion of its clean energy commitments, recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambition to achieving 450-gigawatt renewable energy generation capacity by 2030, at the 4th India Energy Forum on 26 October last year.

“Australia’s resource endowment, and our mining capabilities and expertise, well place us to support Prime Minister Modi’s ambitions around the development of India’s new economy sectors,” he opined.

He also said that there couldn’t be better timing for lithium-related trade and investment, in view of the need for both nations to diversify and strengthen the supply chain, and in recognition of India’s drive toward self-sufficiency and the remarkable growth of its new economy sectors.”

AIBC Agribusiness event showcases innovations and huge research opportunities

Source: AIBC

“Agriculture is an important pillar of the Australian and Indian economies with shared opportunities and challenges. Bilateral cooperation in Agriculture and water resources management were included in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) agreements between Australia and India following the virtual meeting of the Prime Ministers of Australia and India held in June this year.

The good news is the Agribusiness sector continues to emerge as a growth sector in both Australia and India in 2021 and beyond despite the Covid 19 impact in both countries. Innovation, Agri Research, and technological advancements in Biosecurity, Food processing, storage, and supply chain logistics are enabling and will result in greater collaborations in business-to-business engagements between the two countries.

Keeping this in view, on 26 November 2020, the Agribusiness Chapter of Australia India Business Council (AIBC) organized a high profile webinar on “Shaping the Future of Agribusiness through Innovation” with eminent speakers from Australia and India including Mr. Richard Katter – Ernst & Young – Agribusiness Lead Oceania, Dr. K.S. Subramanian – Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) (India) – Professor, Dr S.D Sivakumar – Agribusiness Tamil Nadu Agricultural University – Director, Dr Peter Cull – ICT International Pty Ltd – Director, Mr Constantine Tsounis – SwitcH2 Engineering – Co-Founder, Mr Khusal Plepalle and Bijil Subhash of SwitcH2, Mr. Sachin Zagade -Margadarshak Centre for Agribusiness Development (MCABD) (India) – Managing Director & CEO.

Mr. Jim Varghese AM – AIBC National Chair in his opening remarks stated that “growth in agriculture is contributing to bilateral trade. AIBC has organized the webinar to showcase the innovative research and development happening in many segments of Agriculture in both Australia and India.”

Mr. Con Livissianis – AIBC Agribusiness Chapter Chair welcomes the panel of distinguished keynote speakers and presenting an overview of the webinar said “Enormous opportunities exist for Australian agribusinesses engaging with India. Technological developments, research and innovation are key drivers to such opportunities and collaborations in the years to come.”

Mr. Richard Katter – Ernst & Young – Agribusiness Lead Oceania spoke on Sustainable Agriculture and Better Decision Making and stated “Climatic change, market change, and consumer change are having a huge impact in Agribusiness both in Australia and India. There is a relationship between environmental sustainability and long-term economic sustainability. I recommend further research by students in this area. A lot of opportunities exist for collaboration in Agritech and Research.”

Dr. K.S. Subramanian – Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) (India) – Professor, presented Research Accomplishments and activities of the University including crop management techniques, high-density planting, innovative pest management, farm mechanization, and application of nanotechnology in Agriculture. Dr. Subramaniam elaborated on a number of collaborative opportunities with Australian Institutions.

Dr. S.D. Sivakumar – Tamil Nadu Agricultural University – Director Agribusiness elaborated the Agribusiness activities and programs including innovation through incubators, new product developments, Hybrid technologies as well as commercialization of such technologies for export markets.

Dr. Peter Cull – ICT International Pty Ltd – Director presented an overview of Plant, Soil & Environmental Monitoring Solutions & Agribusiness Supply Chains. Dr. Cull elaborated on the “power” of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Agriculture and the huge opportunities in the IoT.

Mr. Constantine Tsounis – switcH2 Engineering – Co-Founder, along with his team members Mr. Khusal Plepalle and Mr. Bijil Subhash presented on the Switch2 Engineering – Start-up converting wastewater to hydrogen and its application in agriculture. Mr. Tsounis highlighted the value proposition of wastewater in Agriculture.

Sachin Zagade – Margadarshak Centre for Agribusiness Development (MCABD) (India) – Managing Director & CEO presented on how the center supports the young entrepreneurs in Agribusiness Development and opportunities of B2B development.

There was a brief Q&A Interactive session with queries moderated by Mr. Jim Varghese AM.

Vish Viswanathan – Make in India Chapter Chair, presented a Vote of Thanks to all keynote speakers. He also acknowledged and thanked the sponsorship and support of Ernst & Young for this important webinar.

Mr. Jim Varghese AM – AIBC National Chair, concluded the successful Agribusiness event with each speaker quoting the three key words as takeaways to progress on bilateral Agri trade.

AIBC will continue to work with the Australian and Indian Industries to provide platforms to promote agricultural services, consulting, and technologies.

The AIBC is a not-for-profit organization facilitating and linking businesses, exporters, and investors in Australia and India.”

Electric vehicle market in India expected to hit 63 lakh units per annum mark by 2027: IESA

Source: IBEF

“According to a report by India Energy Storage Alliance, the electric vehicle (EV) segment in India is anticipated to reach 63 lakh per unit mark per year by 2027. According to the results of the study, which covers the current scenario and projection of the country’s electric vehicle (EV), EV battery and public charging infrastructure industry, the demand for batteries will also increase significantly over the same era.

‘The EV market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 44% between 2020 and 2027 and is forecasted to touch 6.34 million units of annual sales by 2027,’ the IESA report said. Similarly, annual demand for batteries is expected to increase by 32% to reach 50 GWh by 2027, with 40 plus GWh for lithium-ion batteries.

The estimated potential of the battery industry in 2019 is US$ 580 million and is expected to increase to US$ 14.9 billion by 2027.

In India, EV sales were 3.8 lakh units in 2019-20, and throughout the year, the EV battery demand remained at 5.4 GWh. Last fiscal year, electric two-wheelers were the top sellers in the entire category.

Low and medium-speed electric two-wheelers (up to 40 kmph) with traditional lead-acid batteries dominate the market, according to the survey. With more businesses gaining FAME-II certification in 2020, it is anticipated that sales of high-speed electric two-wheelers will increase rapidly.

The study elaborated on the electric bus industry, noting that vertical demand is expected to be driven by subsidy support from the central government due to high upfront costs.

In the future, expansion is likely to be dependent on feasibility and access to funding, it said. In addition, as many new markets, such as Raipur, Indore, Bhopal, opened last year, the electric e-rickshaw industry is anticipated for growth in the coming years.

In addition, in the coming years, the South and North East markets are also expected to open, the report said.

The industry estimates that the demand will expand very rapidly in the coming years, as several state governments intend to turn the current fleet of cars into electricity under their EV policies.”

India releases its first ever “Australia Economic Strategy” as the two countries move closer

Source: Into India

“The launch by India on 18 December of its Australia Economic Strategy (AES) – the first of its kind for India – could be an exciting step along the way to increased trade. As KPMG has expressed it: “It demonstrates India’s intent to fast-track the relationship with Australia in a post-pandemic world.” Exciting.

My view is that as Australia and India move closer together, opportunities will emerge for the two to create and lead an “Indian Ocean Countries Group” – a pathway to peace and prosperity in our region.

The AES is India’s response to Australia’s An India Economic Strategy to 2035 (IES), launched two years ago.

The AES adds to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) announced by Prime Ministers Morrison and Modi in June 2020 – and both are real evidence that India and Australia are moving closer together.

Three pillars of India’s strategy

The AES is based on three pillars: resources; technology & services; and research & innovations.

Five key sectors

According to KPMG there are five key sectors:

The first is Indian investment in Australia’s mining and resources sector, especially lithium, cobalt and nickel, important for a rapidly growing e-vehicle market.

Second is Indian investment in renewable energy both in the establishment & operation of solar farms as well as the supply of EPC services with Sterling Wilson Solar Limited being a case in point.

Third is health and pharmaceuticals. Collaboration in clinical trials, cancer research, medical & health-tech and training, knowledge transfer and sharing of Australian best practices in hospital administration and patient care.

Fourth is investment in Australia’s agribusiness sector including farmlands and Australian food processing capabilities. There is also significant potential for knowledge sharing and collaboration in best practices for dairy processing.

The fifth is software & information technology. India’s tech giants already have sizeable operations in Australia with further organic and inorganic growth on the cards and an opportunity to extend their business portfolio into government accounts. Further, as Australia looks to build up internal capability and capacity, there is opportunity for the tech giants to set-up centres of excellence or innovation hubs in strategically important areas such as cyber security, cloud and digital, for Australia and the wider ASPAC region.

Make in India program

The new AES, and IES and the wider strategic partnership, all serve to complement India’s flagship Make in India program, which makes India a credible alternative for lower cost manufacturing for Australian companies as they look to diversify business and supply chain risk in a post pandemic world.

Conclusion

Close relations have historically been built on a combination of defence/strategic alliances, mutual investment and trade.

For Australia and India, the future is looking bright in all three areas.”

Cisco along with govt launches competition to attract Agri-tech startups

Source: IBEF

“IT firm Cisco India announced a challenge with a sponsorship money of Rs. 2 crore (US$ 271.88 thousand) on Friday to recognise Agri-tech start-ups with innovative ideas.

It said in a statement, the ‘Cisco Agri Challenge’ is co-hosted by Mr. K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, while the ‘The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation’ is conceptualised and operated by NGOs.

The competition will run over 12 months in phases, with a prize fund of Rs. 2 crore (US$ 271.88 thousand). This sum assists stakeholders in designing, testing, and scaling solutions to help mitigate the challenge faced by low-income and lower profits farmers in India.

Such multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder cooperation will play a catalytic role in the implementation of agricultural science and technology initiatives, thereby improving the productivity of farmers and doubling the income of farmers.

Mr. Harish Krishnan, Managing Director (Public Relations and Strategic Engagements) of Cisco India and SAARC, said the organisation aims to drive digital transformation through the ‘Cisco Agri Challenge’ platform in the agriculture sector.

Not only are we incubating Agri-tech start-ups, but we put together a broad ecosystem of investors, domain experts, and government stakeholders to push action and bring scalable solutions to the market that can increase the income of farmers and enhance decision-making,

Cisco stated that it will have a policy network, allowing access for pilots to administrative units and communities.”

Govt sees electronics manufacturing contributing one-fifth to economy by 2025

Source: IBEF

“On Friday, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications, Electronics and Information Technology (IT), stated that the domestic manufacturing of electronic devices, including cell phones and parts, televisions and laptops, is expected to contribute one-fifth to India’s economy by 2025.

At an event organised by industry body Assocham, Mr. Prasad said, “You spoke of the US$ 5 trillion economy. We would be able to add US$ 1 trillion to the country’s economy through proper scaling of electronics output by this development alone. This is what I am aiming for.”

For 2025, the government has set a development target of one billion cell phones, 50 million televisions and 50 million hardware devices such as laptops and tablets. Mr. Prasad stated that India needs to become the world’s top electronic device manufacturing destination.

Following the success of a scheme to manufacture cell phones and their components locally, the government aims to expand the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to domestic laptop and tablet manufacturing.

There are 16 global and domestic mobile and electronic component manufacturers, including Samsung, Foxconn and Bhagwati Products, the Micromax phone manufacturer, which will benefit from the PLI scheme launched in April 2020 by the Centre to improve local manufacturing.

Rising Star, Wistron and Pegatron are the other qualifying foreign phone manufacturers. Except for Samsung, the contract manufacturers for Apple Inc. are other foreign firms. Samsung and Apple together account for about 60% of global smartphone sales.

Mr. Prasad said on Friday that India is not going to compromise on data sovereignty. He said it is possible to acquire data from Indians with consent and use it for refining.

Under the PLI framework for cell phones, the government will offer 4-6% incentives for qualifying electronic businesses to increase sales of manufactured goods for five years, including mobile phones and electronic components such as printed circuit boards and sensors.

Incentives have also been applied to other industries for the local production of products. In November 2020, the Union Cabinet approved the PLI scheme for 10 industries, including the manufacture of telecommunications equipment, which earned an outlay of Rs. 12,195 crore (US$ 1.66 billion).”

India could be Australia’s next big trading partner

Source: AIBC

“Adani Australia has welcomed India’s trade roadmap, the Australia Economic Strategy Report, outlining Australia’s path to its next economic boom by partnering with the world’s fastest growing large economy.

India is currently Australia’s fifth-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade exceeded $22 billion in 2018 and Australia has the potential to strengthen and diversify its international trade and investment portfolio by lifting India into its top three export markets.

Adani Australia CEO and Country Head, Lucas Dow said India offered tremendous trade and investment opportunities for Australia, which could result in significant uplift to our domestic economy.“According to the United Nations, India’s population will grow by 287 million people between 2018 and 2050, and by 2025 one-fifth of the world’s working population will be Indian,” Mr Dow said.

“That population growth means substantially more people who want affordable energy, education, technology, health care, employment and other commodities that ultimately provide for a better lifestyle.“With that national drive and ambition comes opportunities for countries like ours to help India deliver new products, infrastructure, resources, and improved living standards for its people, while also creating a growth catalyst for our own national economy,” he said.

The Australia Economic Strategy Report was written by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa for the Confederation of Indian Industry, in response to Australia’s own trade report – An Indian Economic Strategy to 2035, which was authored by Peter Varghese for the Australian Government in 2018.The Report said two-way trade between the two countries has grown in value from $9.3 billion in 2007 to $ 30 billion in 2019, well below the true potential of the relationship.Key recommendations are subsequently made that encourage better awareness of private sector business opportunities on both sides and trade policy reform that drives economic growth across the two international markets.

Mr Dow said Adani’s own operations in Australia are a clear example of the potential that the burgeoning trade and investment relationship holds between the two nations.

“Since commencing operations in Australia in 2010, Adani has already invested billions of dollars in our local mine, rail, port and renewable energy assets, which will result in lasting infrastructure and commercial ventures that benefit regional communities for generations to come,” Mr Dow said.

“Yet the potential stretches so much further than the energy and resources sector. There are major export opportunities available in education; food and agribusiness; mining equipment, technology and services; tourism; infrastructure; health care; defence, and advanced tech.

“We have the skills, capability and resources in Australia to deliver in these areas and seize on opportunities provided by India’s willingness to improve policies and regulation that encourage bilateral trade and investment.
“The timing and conditions are ideal for Australia to capitalise on India’s rapid development trajectory and ensure our own economy gets the welcome boost it needs off the back of the global pandemic impacts.

“I encourage government agencies, industry and entrepreneurs to read the Australia Economic Strategy Report and see the potential benefits for both yourselves and our country as a whole,” he said.”

INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & GROWTH REPORT

Source: IBEF

“In October 2020, India recorded a significant decrease in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, resulting to a drop in its global ranking—for the number of active COVID-19 cases—from 2nd to 4th as of October 31, 2020, following the US, France, and Spain. As of October 03, 2020, the number of active cases has been steadily declining at a rate of 1.4%. The rate of recovery increased to >90%, as of October 31, 2020, vis-à-vis 83.3% as of September 30, 2020.

However, the focus on taking adequate care to wash hands and social distancing should not be overlooked in the festive season, as a committee of experts—set up by the Department of Science and Technology—advised that if proper precautions are not taken, a second wave of infections could emerge before February 2021. Increased testing is a vital technique to limit the spread of infections and is the first step towards timely diagnosis, prompt isolation and effective care. India screened ~11.07 crore cumulative COVID-19 samples as of October 31, 2020, keeping the focus on the ‘Test, Track and Treat’ strategy.

There has been a significant increase in business activities, indicating India’s systematic management of the pandemic crisis compared to advanced nations. In October 2020, the trend of high frequency indicators specifically pointed to a broad-based rebound of economic activities, mainly in Kharif production, energy consumption, rail freight, car sales, registration of vehicles, collection of highway tolls, e-way bills, digital transactions and GST collections.

The outlook for economic stabilisation is evident in sector indicators with the consumption of petroleum products rising in September 2020 and exports bouncing sharply for the first-time in the last seven months with positive y-o-y growth. Traffic volume in rail freight in September 2020, surpassed the rate of the previous year, driven by strong growth in traffic of iron ore, finished fertilisers and containerised goods. Global investors are optimistic about the economic prospects of India as gross inflows of FDI surpassed US$ 35 billion between April 2020 and August 2020, the highest-ever recorded for the first five months of a financial year.

Among all the key growth generators, the construction sector at present has the capacity to majorly accelerate the Indian economy. In the last five years, the construction sector has contributed an average of 8% to the total gross value added (GVA). In addition, 15.5% of the GVA contributed was associated to services in areas of real estate, housing ownership and professional services. Thus, more than one fifth of the overall GVA was contributed by the construction sector. The role of the construction sector in the Indian economy can be further determined by the fact that it is the largest employment generator, next to agriculture, employing ~12% of the working population of the country, i.e., >51 million people.

The government has mainly concentrated on infrastructure development across various sectors and introduced schemes such as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyothi Yojana (DDUGJY) Nal Se Jal, Sagarmala Bharatmala, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) National Logistics Policy, National Infrastructure Plan Integrated Power Development Schemes (IPDS) and Smart City Mission Railway Station Redevelopment.

In India, there are potential growth opportunities in the shared rental market due to numerous factors such as 5.7 million beds and a co-living penetration of 8.3%, compared with 3.6 million beds in 2018 and a co-living penetration of 2.6% in 2018. The shared rental market is projected to become a Rs. 1 trillion (US$ 13.43 billion) opportunity by 2023. Housing market has received major government support via various policy reforms. Between 2015 and 2020, there are various policies that have taken place in the market such as National Urban Rental Housing Policy (NUHRP), the Model Tenancy Act (MTA), the new Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) policy, etc.

At 4.8% higher than 2019, the monsoon in 2020 called for good sowing of Kharif crops. All regions received higher accumulated precipitation than the Long Period Average (LPA) except for North-West India, which received 16% below LPA rainfall. Live storage in key reservoirs as of October 29, 2020, was 86% of the full reservoir level (FRL), slightly lower than the 2019 level by 4%, but 17% higher than the decadal average.

The first advance estimate (AE) for growth of key Kharif crops for 2020-21 estimated the production of food grains at 1,445.2 lakh tonnes, 0.8% higher than 2019. The total output of kharif pulses and oil seeds is expected to be significantly higher than in the previous year with a growth of 20.6% and 15.1%, respectively.

With year-on-year (YoY) growth in the index of industrial production (IIP) showcasing small contraction in August 2020 at 8.0%, compared with 10.8% in July 2020, industrial output indicates signs of recovery. However, compared with July 2020, IIP contracted by 1.3% on a sequential basis.

Railway freight traffic has significantly improved since August 2020 due to economic recovery and rising demand. It increased by 15.5% (YoY) in September 2020 and 15.4% in October 2020, supported by demand for food grains, domestic coal for steel plants and thermal power houses, pig iron, finished steel, iron-ore exports, clinker cement and domestic containers. In the first twenty days of October 2020, gross revenue from railway passenger bookings stood at ~Rs. 927.55 crore (US$ 124.60 million), meeting 95% of September levels, driven by easing the interstate movement restrictions.

In October 2020, domestic aviation improved and is expected to recover further with the beginning of the festive season, as domestic airlines will soon be permitted to operate up to 75% of pre-COVID capacity, up from the 65% in October 2020. Also, the number of domestic aviation passengers surged from 2.8 lakh in May 2020 to 28.32 lakh in August 2020 and was 39.43 lakh in September 2020.

India’s Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index (PMI) increased to 58.9 in October 2020—the highest figure in over a decade. This boost was driven by the overall economic growth and increase in business activities in the sectors such as consumer goods and investment products. The revenue upturn was the highest since mid-2008. In October 2020, the PMI Services index also increased to 54.1, breaking the seven-month contraction sequence.

Power consumption reported a 12.1% YoY growth in October 2020, fuelled by improvements in commercial and industrial activities, compared with 4.6% growth in September 2020.

A leading indicator of revenue collections, supply chain corrections and logistics growth, the persistent improvements in e-way bills make way for a strong economic recovery. The total value of e-way bills recorded YoY growth of 19% in October 2020, marking a strong economic recovery. Since mid-August, e-way bills have improved significantly to reach Rs. 16.82 trillion (US$ 225.95 billion) in October 2020, surpassing the corresponding levels of Rs. 14.12 trillion (US$ 189.68 billion) in 2019.

Some other infrastructure indicators

UPI payment transactions reached an all-time high in October 2020 at Rs. 3.86 trillion (US$ 51.85 billion) in value and 207 crore in volume terms. Trends in cash withdrawal from ATMs/micro ATMs and banking correspondents (BCs) also indicated improving demand sentiments.

In October 2020, the total daily electronic toll collection and number of transactions stood at Rs. 68.9 crore (US$ 9.26 million) and 39.5 lakh, respectively, compared with pre-COVID daily averages of Rs. 55.4 crore (US$ 7.44 million) and 32.6 lakh, resp., with improvements seen in most states.

In October 2020, FPI inflows remained strong, driven by rising economic normalisation trends and surplus liquidity in the global markets. In October 2020, the FPI reported a net inflow of US$ 3.2 billion, compared with an outflow of US$ 0.16 billion in September.

In October 2020, supported by revived FPI inflows, the Indian rupee strengthened over September. RBI’s dollar purchases in the foreign exchange market, kept the rupee range bound in October at 73.1-73.9 Rs./US$. As of October 23, 2020, India’s foreign exchange reserves stood at US$ 560.53 billion.

Total FDI inflows stood at US$ 35.73 billion between April 2020 and August 2020, the highest ever for the first five months of a financial year and 13% higher compared with the first five months of 2019-20 (US$ 31.60 billion).”

Mr. Piyush Goyal launches India-Australia Economic Strategy Report.

Source: IBEF

“Union Minister of Railways, Commerce and industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public distribution Mr Piyush Goyal today said that there is tremendous scope for Australian investment into India as we ease our FDI norms & open up different sectors. Addressing CII’s session on Enhancing India Australia Bilateral Economic and Trade Relationship, he said that we have also opened up our Agri sector for greater investments in food processing & value addition. The Minister also launched the India-Australia Economic Strategy Report.

The minister said that we are continuously trying to make our FDI policies more facilitative & congenial & supportive of foreign investment. He said that newer areas like space, nuclear energy & defence production will open up good opportunities for our mutual engagement. Emerging sectors of defence, sports, textiles, textile designing, digital gaming, animation, water management, commercial ship-building, space collaboration & digital engagement in education, hold great promise in our efforts to balance this trade relationship, he mentioned.

Mr Goyal said that recent labour reforms will also enable a new ecosystem for labour regulations and flexibility in employment. Areas like tourism will generate a lot of jobs in India under the new framework and will make tourism projects in India more viable. He said that we wish to ensure that the farmers of India get even greater incomes which would only be possible with more value-added on our farm produce and greater engagement with the rest of the world, to meet the needs of the international community.

Mr Goyal specifically mentioned that with 3B objectives: Bigger trade basket – Better trade basket – Balanced trade relationship, we can see huge & exponential growth in our trade relationship.

The Minister said that in the backdrop of the pandemic, the focus of the industry, which had been to bring back economic activity, is yielding very good results. The economy is showing a V-shaped recovery. “India has utilised the opportunity thrown up by COVID 19 to further liberalise our economy & make it easier to do business in India. We are one of the most open economies today particularly with FDI in automatic route up to 100% in almost all sector expect.”

Mr Goyal said that diversification of supply chains is critical for managing the risks associated with the supply of inputs, including disciplining non-transparent & opaque economies. Australia & India have been working together even more closely on the strategic front, be it Malabar exercises, QUAD groupings, the partnership on several strategic areas. He added that this close collaboration will feed into our economic partnership also in the years to come.

Mr Goyal mentioned that efforts like the Australia Strategy Report will help us to align our trade & economic policies to implement this strategy report. “We can find good areas of cooperation which will also dovetail into our negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement”, he added.”

Tremendous scope for Australian investments in India: Goyal

Source: Newindianexpress

“NEW DELHI: There is a tremendous scope for Australian companies to invest in India as the country has liberalized its foreign direct investment (FDI) in sectors like mining and defence production, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday.

He also expressed the hope to take forward the negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement between the countries, which is officially dubbed as a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA).

“I believe there is tremendous scope for Australian investments also into India as we ease our FDI norms and open up different sectors like mining, and defence production. These are the areas which are of natural interest to Australia,” Goyal said at CII’s Partnership Summit.

Australia has been an attractive destination for several Indian companies particularly firms in the areas such as banking, IT, and petroleum, he said.

“We are looking forward to a faster ramp (up) of some of the companies which have faced some problems in Australia and I do hope that they will be able to get back into fast track implementation of their projects and serve the people of Australia with jobs and people of India with requisite raw materials,” the minister added.

Further, he said India’s exports to Australia are at “modest and moderate” levels and it needs to be increased for a balanced trade gap.

India’s exports to Australia in 2019-20 stood at USD 2.9 billion, while imports aggregated at USD 9.8 billion.

Speaking at the webinar, Australian Senator Simon Birmingham said: “I particularly look forward to some early progress on our re-engagement on Australia-India CEPA”.

He said that as the cricket teams of both the countries are engaged in fields right now, “”let’s hit the ball for six by getting a quick move on this agreement and scoring some quick runs””.

He added that India has decided not to join right now the mega trade pact – RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) agreement — and from Australian perspective, the “”doors remain firmly open.”

Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan invites India Inc. to join the Atmanirbhar Bharat Urja initiatives

Source: IBEF

“Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan today said that on the energy front, we are developing a clear roadmap of Aatma Nirbhar Urja for Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. Addressing the ASSOCHAM Foundation Week 2020 today on “Energy Transition to Fuel India’s Growth Path”, he invited India Inc. to join the Atmanirbhar Bharat Urja initiatives and said that we have to ensure energy justice and end energy poverty in the country. This means more energy to improve the lives of Indians with a smaller carbon foot-print. He said that our energy sector will be growth-centric, industry friendly and environment conscious. He said that the energy sector will continue to play a pivotal role in our national development, and in realization of the 5 trillion-dollar economy.

The minister said that at the core of the Government’s efforts is to achieve a growth path that is sustainable, keeping in view our national priorities and resources. He said that speaking at the Climate Ambition Summit last week, Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi ji announced that Centennial India in 2047 will not only meet its own targets but will also exceed your expectations.

Mr. Pradhan said that there is an all-of-the Government approach to realize the energy transition road map. “Our Government is converting Covid-impacted challenges into opportunities. We have initiated the most significant reforms as envisioned by Prime Minister Mr. Modi in building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India. We have already initiated reforms to transform India from being just a passive market to an active manufacturing hub at the heart of global value chains. We are partnering with the industry and other stakeholders in realizing this vision.”, he added.

Mr. Pradhan said that India is now among the fastest growing large economies of the world with a strong determination to end poverty, including energy poverty, in the country. This demands rapid expansion of energy consumption & energy security. “Our Government is committed to meet both these ends in a sustainable manner’, he added.

The Minister said that during the last six years, India’s energy landscape has undergone a transformational change. We are now the third largest energy consumer in the world after US and China.

Mr. Pradhan said that the Covid pandemic continues to inhibit conduct of normal activity. But there are clear indications of improvements and a gradual increase in activity across all States and sectors of our economy. “We see a reflection of these efforts in how India’s energy sector has bounced back with remarkable resilience. Our energy demand has almost recovered back to pre-Covid levels, particularly for petroleum products, on the back of rejuvenation of economic activities. “

The Minister said that the energy transition road map of India has been outlined by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi, who has defined seven key drivers: Accelerating efforts to move towards a gas-based economy, Cleaner Use of Fossil Fuels, Particularly Petroleum And Coal; Greater reliance on domestic sources to drive biofuels, Achieving renewables target of 450 GW by 2030, Increasing contribution of electricity to de-carbonize mobility, Moving into emerging fuels including hydrogen; and digital innovation across all energy systems.

The Minister said that there are enormous opportunities in the energy sector, and there is a lot more that the Indian industry needs to embrace as partners in progress. He talked about a paradigm shift in the philosophy of the Government from revenue generation to production maximization to enhance the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas. Several policy initiatives have been taken and reforms initiated, including facilitating the ease-of-business for the Exploration & Production sector. “We now allow 100% FDI in exploration and production projects and also permit 49% FDI in public sector refining under the automatic route. We have created a friendly tax regime for Sovereign Wealth and Pension Funds. These reforms are translating into increased FDI flow in the sector.”

Mr. Pradhan said that we are ushering a gas-based economy by increasing the share of natural gas in India’s primary energy mix from 6.2% to 15 % by year 2030. Prime Minister has announced last year the target of ‘One Nation One Gas Grid’. India is set to expand the natural gas grid to 34,500 km, by adding another 17000 km of gas pipeline. “Our regasification capacity of existing 42 MMTPA will be expanded to 61 MMTPA by year 2022. Natural gas marketing reforms have been announced to prescribe standard procedure to discover market price across various contractual regimes through a transparent and competitive manner. Also, we have rationalized tariff to make natural gas affordable in every part of the country.” The Minister also talked about launch of India’s first automated national-level gas trading platform and expansion of coverage of City Gas Distribution projects to cover 232 Geographical Areas spread over 400 districts, with a potential to cover about 53% of country’s geography and 70% of population.

The Minister said that we are adopting clean mobility solutions, with greater use of LNG as a transportation fuel including long haul trucking. On the investments front, he said that we have envisaged a spend of US$ 60 billion in creating gas infrastructure till 2024, including for pipelines, LNG terminals and CGD networks.

Mr. Pradhan said that the Government has embarked on a massive programme on alternative fuels for enhancing India’s energy sustainability. “We are tapping into huge biomass potential through National Biofuels Policy. lndia’s Oil Marketing Companies are ahead of the curve having already committed to set up twelve 2G bio-refineries and ethanol blended petrol. We are boosting rural economy by waste to wealth generation, under the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) initiatives. We are setting up of 5000 CBG plants by 2023-24 with production target of 15 MMT with an investment of about US$ 20 billion. Our Government is also giving a push to adopt hydrogen fuel mix. Major oil and gas companies have taken a lead by promoting International Solar Alliance in addition to installing renewable energy capacities through independent efforts.””

L&T Technology Services’ i-BEMS Receives Frost & Sullivan’s 2020 Global Customer Value Leadership Award

Source: IBEF

“L&T Technology Services Limited, a leading global engineering services firm, was recognised for its intelligent building experience management system, i-BEMSTM, with the Frost & Sullivan 2020 Global Customer Value Leadership Award.

Performance indicators, including significant operating performance, customer retention, customer experience, and growth potential, were evaluated for the 2020 award recipients.

I-BEMSTM, a revolutionary smart building platform that provides consumers with a single one-stop solution that brings with cutting-edge digital tools and applications to enable robust control, diagnostics, analytics, and critical building asset optimization, has been recognised by LTTS.

I-BEMSTM enables companies to build sustainable workplaces that are holistically prepared for the future with IoT features like smart parking, smart cafeteria, smart washrooms, and many more. The i-BEMSTM Shield module helps businesses to reduce COVID-19 spread through the implementation of features such as temperature and face detection, occupancy and air quality control, as well as mask detection and touch tracing in their campuses and indoor environments.

Frost & Sullivan lauded the deep foresight, vision, research & development context, and ability of LTTS to adapt to evolving market conditions in order to meet and surpass the needs of consumers and industry.

Mr. Amit Chadha, Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Whole-Time Director at L&T Technology Services, said, “In enabling a green & intelligent ecosystem and an atmosphere to drive excellent customer service and increase employee productivity, the position of wide education campuses, office facilities, and manufacturing plants is tremendous. In the smart campus space, LTTS has been at the core of pioneering cutting-edge technologies and developments that effectively address these objectives. This recognition of Frost & Sullivan’s pioneering smart building solution i-BEMSTM is a confirmation of our commitment to further progress in smart, stable and futuristic campuses.”

Mr. Anirudh Bhaskaran, Senior Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan, said, “Our mission at Frost & Sullivan is to provide a forum for the best of new age innovations and disruptive technologies. Developments in the building management system offer to help minimize risks due to global warming by incorporating a ‘smart’ element into the overall energy consumption of campuses. For its key solution i-BEMSTM and the introduction of i-BEMSTM Shield, Frost & Sullivan is pleased to recognise LTTS for its commitment to energy-efficient, net-zero and future-oriented office space.”

The research approach of Frost & Sullivan seeks to identify best-in-class goods, enterprises, and individuals in order to accelerate creativity and excellence. Based on independent research, the industry analysts of Frost & Sullivan assess market participants and evaluate output for best practises in the industry through interviews, reviews, and detailed secondary research.”

Cabinet approves Auction of spectrum

Source: IBEF

“The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, has approved a proposal of the Department of Telecommunications to conduct spectrum auction through which spectrum will be assigned to the successful bidders for providing commercial mobile services.

The auction will be for spectrum in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz frequency bands. Spectrum will be offered for assignment for validity period of 20 years. A total of 2251.25 MHz is being offered with total valuation of Rs. 3,92,332.70 crore (US$ 53.37 billion) (at reserve price).

By winning right to use spectrum through the auction, incumbent telecom service providers will be able to augment their network capacity whereas new players will be able to start their services.

In the auction, bidders will have to comply with parameters/conditions e.g. block size in which bidders will be able to submit their bids, spectrum cap i.e. the maximum amount of spectrum that can be held by each bidder after the completion of the auction, roll-out obligations, payment terms etc.

Successful bidders may pay entire bid amount in one go (upfront) or may exercise an option to pay a certain amount (25% for spectrum won in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz bands or 50% for spectrum won in 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz bands) upfront and remaining amount in a maximum up to 16 equated annual instalments, after a moratorium of two years.

In addition to the bid amount, successful bidders will also have to pay 3% of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) excluding wireline services as spectrum usage charges for the spectrum won through this auction.

Spectrum auction is a transparent process of spectrum assignment to successful bidders. Sufficient spectrum availability increases the quality of telecom services for the consumers.

It is relevant that the Telecom Sector today is a key infrastructure provider with strong linkages with economic growth, direct and indirect employment generation and expansion of Digital India. Hence the above decision of the Cabinet is expected to have a salutary impact on all the aspects.”

Shri Piyush Goyal invites Foreign Investors to be a part of India’s growth story.

Source: IBEF

“Minister of Railways, Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution Mr. Piyush Goyal has welcomed the Foreign investors to be a part of India’s growth story. Addressing the inaugural session of CII’s Partnership Summit 2020 through virtual means today, he welcomed them with open arms, a red carpet and assured complete assistance, partnership & involvement through your journey in this land of opportunities.

The Minister said that continuing an open path, India has been systematically opening to global investors new sectors of our economy and encouraging businesses through strategic relationships with different investment partners, strengthening our economic plans for the future. He said that FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) flows in India have been continuously growing. “During the first9 months of this year, at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, our FDI has grown. We have one of the most facilitative FDI policies in the world. During the April-September period, FDI inflows are at $40 billion, which has been higher than last year by about 13%. Last year, we announced one of the most attractive tax rates available anywhere in the world at 22% tax for businesses in India and 15% tax for new manufacturing facilities set up after October 2019.”

Shri Goyal said that several new schemes have been introduced including Production-Linked Incentive Scheme to attract industries to come to India. “We have investment promotion cells in all the ministries. Central Govt & States are working together to attract & promote investments even before the onset of the pandemic, India was rapidly announcing a slew of reform measures aimed at improving the economy & productivity levels in the economy. India is introducing conducive reforms & facilitation measures to encourage greater global involvement in our V-shaped recovery. I invite you to board the bus of development, growth & prosperity that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is crafting for the people of India.”

Dwelling on the theme of the partnership summit, which is about partnerships for lives, livelihoods & growth, Shri Goyal said that this will help all of us in our joint endeavor to get our economies back on the growth path & encourage new opportunities. “Our aim is not only to grow sustainably at high levels but achieve the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025. Historic reforms in different sectors will hold the country in good stead in our effort to improve prosperity levels of the people. India does not wish to miss the sunshine under the warm sun that India is blessed with. We believe in the new world there will be new thinking, new opportunities for growth. Alone, we can accomplish little but together our reach may exceed beyond anyone’s imagination. This is the time to be in India, this is the time to expand your presence & investments in India. India is a land of opportunities.”

India public cloud services market to touch US$ 7.4 billion by 2024: IDC

Source: IBEF

“India’s public cloud services (PCS) market is projected to reach US$ 7.4 billion by 2024 at a CAGR of 22.2%, research firm IDC said on Friday.

In the first half of 2020, India’s PCS segment, comprising infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions and software-as-a-service (SaaS), reached US$ 1.6 billion, it added.

IDC India Principal Analyst (Cloud and Artificial Intelligence) Ms. Rishu Sharma said, “The market for public cloud services was driven by the current disruption. Heading to the “” next normal “” allows organisations to leverage the cloud as part of their business strategies.”

Businesses across verticals such as financial services, IT/ITeS, media, education, among others are experiencing an increase in demand, added Ms. Sharma.

IDC said spending continues to strengthen with the top two cloud providers, securing approximately 52% of the Indian market for public cloud services in the first half of 2020.

From a segment viewpoint, with over 63% of the overall market in H1 2020, SaaS is the largest portion of the overall public cloud services market followed by the IaaS and PaaS segments.

Since 2016, the public cloud computing sector has nearly tripled. Reliance on cloud services and networks as well as software as a service will become essential as companies concentrate on gaining agility, versatility, and resilience.

Although the cloud has been embraced by most organisations in India at some point, the recent pandemic situation has now encouraged organisations to focus on IaaS and PaaS public clouds to speed up the process of creation and deployment of enterprise applications.

IDC India Senior Market Analyst Mr. Harish Krishnakumar stated that during the pandemic, companies that embraced cloud and other emerging technology did better than businesses with conventional IT systems, thereby emphasizing the crucial need for digital transformation.

There was a rise in demand for cloud-based collaboration software, content management systems, and online entertainment services during the pandemic, he added.

“”We are experiencing demand from large businesses, tech start-ups and government institutions. The pandemic, along with investments from tech companies is expected to accelerate the adoption of cloud among SMBs,”” he said.”

Foreign investors stock up on Indian equities with record ₹1.4-tn net inflow

Source: Live Mint

“1) Market experts expect the trend to continue for a few more months unless there is a major change in the overall investment scenario
2) A large factor for the massive inflows could be the weakening of the dollar which has caused a shift in money towards emerging countries

Excess liquidity, attractive valuations and weakness in the US dollar propelled foreign investors to flock to the Indian stock market in a big way with the highest-ever net inflow of ₹1.4 lakh core in 2020, but they also dumped debt securities worth a record amount amid pandemic-driven stress in the economy.

The foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) have made a net outflow of a little over ₹1 lakh crore in 2020 so far, though hybrid instruments witnessed a net inflow of more than ₹10,000 crore, as per the latest data available with depositories.

The market men expect a similar trend to continue for a few months unless there is a major change in the overall investment scenario.

“”With some major developments on COVID-19 vaccine front, India stands to benefit. Also, growth in the economy will improve investor sentiments and their outlook towards India. From the risk-reward profile perspective, these aspects make India a good investment destination,”” said Himanshu Srivastava, Associate Director – Manager Research, Morningstar India.

However, if the economy remains weak for a longer period of time, that could be a big deterrent. Also, if there is another wave of the coronavirus pandemic resulting in re-implementation of lockdown measures, that could dampen sentiments and turn foreign investors risk-averse, he added.

As the year 2020 draws to a close, the FPIs have so far made a net inflow of ₹1.42 lakh crore — the highest level of such investment in a calendar year since 2002.

This is the fifth time in history when net investment by foreign investors in equities has crossed ₹1 lakh crore mark in a year. Prior to this, the feat was achieved in 2019, 2013, 2012 and 2010, when overseas investors infused a net sum of ₹1.01 lakh crore, ₹1.13 lakh crore, ₹1.28 lakh crore and ₹1.33 lakh crore respectively.

On the other hand, debt markets have seen FPIs turn net sellers in 2020 as they withdrew a massive amount of ₹1.07 lakh crore from debt, however, they invested a net amount of ₹23,350 crore in debt-VRR. The voluntary Retention Route (VRR) channel was introduced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in March 2019 to attract long-term and stable FPI investments into debt markets.

Broadly, investments through this route are free of macro-prudential and other regulatory norms applicable to FPI investments in debt markets, provided FPIs voluntarily commit to retaining a required minimum percentage of their investments in India for a certain period.

The year 2020 marked the biggest outflow by foreign investors from debt markets since 2002, when bifurcation of net investment data became available.

The previous record outflow was in 2013, when FPIs pulled out a net sum of ₹50,849 crore from debt markets. Also, an exodus to the tune of ₹47,795 crore was seen from such instruments in 2018.

Taking all asset classes together, FPIs have made a net investment of ₹68,200 crore (USD 9.3 billion) in the Indian capital markets (equity, debt, debt-VRR and hybrid) so far in 2020, while a few days of trading is yet to take place.

While FPIs have made gross purchases worth ₹20.7 lakh crore so far this year, they have sold securities worth ₹20 lakh crore across all instruments.

In comparison, the net inflow into Indian capital markets was at ₹1.36 lakh crore in 2019. This comprised a net investment of ₹1.01 lakh crore in equities, ₹25,880 crore in debt and around ₹9,000 crore in hybrid securities.

Experts said availability of excess liquidity in the global financial market, attractive valuation compared to developed markets, and weakness in the US dollar have supported buying in Indian equities.

Nirali Shah, Senior Research Analyst at Samco Securities, said that 50 per cent of foreign inflows in India have been through qualified institutional placements (QIPs) and strategic stake sales such as the HUL-Glaxo deal and the remaining half have been through secondary market purchases.

A large factor for the massive inflows could be the weakening of the dollar which has caused a shift in money towards emerging countries given their interest rates are at the lower end and the inflation-adjusted return is much higher, she added.

According to Morningstar’s Srivastava, one of the primary reasons for investment in equities is the availability of excess liquidity in the global financial markets with major central banks announcing stimulus packages to bring their economy back on track.

India is not the only emerging country to experience a gush of foreign inflows and other emerging markets have also witnessed robust investments in proportion to their weights in the world economy.

“”India has attracted more than a fair share of emerging market inflows due to stronger than expected economic recovery, moderation in active COVID-19 cases since mid-September and a supportive policy framework in terms of an accommodative monetary policy and a fiscal push on promoting manufacturing sector,”” said Gaurav Dua, Senior Vice President – Head Capital Market Strategy & Investments, Sharekhan by BNP Paribas.

Also, FPI flows got a boost from a positive surprise in second-quarter corporate earnings and some structural reforms in labour, agriculture and financial sectors, said Alok Agarwala, Chief Research Officer of Bajaj Capital.

“”The government initiatives to attract FPI/FDI investors through hosting investor conferences, making structural changes to provide ease of doing business, announcing long-term measures like Production Linked Incentives (PLI) under AatmaNirbhar Bharat have resulted in positive flows into India,”” said Divam Sharma, co-founder at Green Portfolio.

On the other hand, foreign investors do not appear positively inclined towards Indian debt securities in the current scenario. In fact, a massive shift has been seen from debt to equities as stock markets have witnessed a higher than expected recovery rate.

“”Debt market has been in turmoil lately due to the rising credit risk. Given the stress in the economy and limited scope for further rate cuts, equity markets offered much better opportunity post the sharp correction earlier this year and that resulted in an outflow from debt markets,”” Dua said.

Green Portfolio’s Sharma said the spread of government securities (G-Secs) with corporate bonds has narrowed, resulting in the selling of debt instruments by FPI.

Further, the cost of funds of government and corporates has moderated on the back of RBI’s monetary easing and liquidity infusion, making the debt markets less attractive due to falling yields.

Sector-wise, banking, financial services, IT and FMCG have attracted higher inflows from FPIs.

According to Sharma, there is an increasing conviction to invest in technology solutions as people continue to work from home, consume more online and reduce physical contact.

When it comes to investing in equities, it was a good year to start with as FPIs put in nearly ₹14,000 crore in stocks during January-February. They went on a selling spree in March as they sold net assets worth ₹62,000 crore, largely a result of the coronavirus outbreak and ensuing risk-averse environment.

Uncertainty over the gravity of the pandemic’s impact on the global economy and financial markets worldwide triggered a flight to safety among foreign investors as they rushed to exit from relatively riskier investment destinations, such as emerging markets like India.

The sell-off continued in April, although the pace of net outflow came down significantly on measures announced by the government and the RBI periodically to revitalise the sagging economy.

FPIs made a comeback in May and the positive momentum continued till August as they pumped in a net amount of ₹91,000 crore during the period under review.

This could be attributed to an attractive valuation of the Indian equities after the sharp correction in March and significant depreciation of the Indian rupee against the US dollar, which provided FPIs a rather good entry point.

Furthermore, the lifting of lockdown curbs and the government’s efforts to kickstart economic activity in the country also garnered positive response from foreign investors.

Certain technical factors including the over-subscribed rights issue of Reliance Industries also attracted significant foreign flows.

The scenario, however, reversed in September as FPIs turned net sellers in equities. The outflow was triggered largely by concerns over the country’s economic growth and rising border tensions between India and China.

The country’s gross domestic product contracted by a huge 23 per cent for the quarter ending in June 2020, denting the investor sentiments. Foreign investors also stayed on the sidelines as COVID-19 cases in Europe and other countries renewed fears of a possibility of new lockdowns, thus dashing hopes of any swift economic recovery.

However, the opening of the domestic economy, resumption of business activities, better-than-expected quarterly results and a fall in India’s COVID-19 active case count helped bring back the foreign investors into Indian equities in October, November and December.

Going ahead, Bajaj Capital’s Agarwala said the pace and sustainability of earnings recovery (as displayed in Q2FY21) and global liquidity situation are the key factors that will determine FPI flows in Indian equities in 2021.

He further said FPI flows in Indian bonds are likely to recover once real interest rates turn positive, which is unlikely to happen before the fourth quarter of the current fiscal.

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

India should open its economy further, says Walmart CEO

Source: retail.economictimes.indiatimes

“New Delhi: Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart Inc., urged India to further open its economy and said the growth recorded by Flipkart, Myntra and PhonePe during the pandemic has cemented the company’s belief in the South Asian nation.

He said Flipkart, the e-commerce company that is its flagship India business, could have one or multiple listings in the coming years.

Walmart plans to increase its exports out of India more than three times to $10 billion by 2027, up from $3 billion at present. It plans to boost exports by expanding its pool of hundreds of suppliers, especially among micro, small and medium enterprises, and the company pledged to strengthen the supply chain ecosystem in India.

McMillon said while waiting for India to allow foreign companies in multi-brand retailing, Walmart will focus on expanding Flipkart and PhonePe, the digital payments service.

“We will be patient and try to show everybody that’s good for the country, and wait for our moment,” he said.

McMillon said Flipkart could go public through one or more public offerings but declined to give specifics or a timeframe.

“Flipkart and PhonePe both need funding. They are both growing so quickly. There is lots of room to invest. And we’re excited about being a majority investor. But there’s room for other people,” he said.

McMillon pitched for India to open its economy further but did not mention any specific reform.

“The more the Indian economy opens, the more opportunities that we will have to reap these benefits,” he said. “We believe India is entering a new era. The country is growing and by many estimates, will be the third-largest economy in the world by 2030 and a leader in many industries,” he said.

The Walmart CEO said Indian consumers are demanding higher quality products at economical prices so that they can save money.

McMillion said the 2018 acquisition of Flipkart for $16 billion has bolstered the company’s bullishness on India. Walmart generated revenue of $524 billion in FY20.

“India is an important part of the Walmart story and all the work we’ve done in India is important to us because we believe in your country’s people and potential for a long time now,” McMillon said at a New Delhi summit via a video link from Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. “And this year has only made us more convinced about the tremendous opportunity ahead for both of us and the positive impact we can have together.”

The Walmart head said e-commerce accounts for only 4% of India’s retail market, which is poised to grow into a $1 trillion business by 2025.

“There are a number of companies competing in the market including Amazon, Reliance, Snapdeal, Paytm and many others. We think this is a good thing. Competition will improve services, bring down costs for consumers and give additional value to producers,” he said.

McMillon said India has the potential to be among the top three economies.

“India is already a great place with a lot of people and a big economy. But it has potential to become something really special,” he said. “India is on its way towards doing that. So when we look at the market, the size of it, the demographics, the potential, we get excited. That’s why we’ve tried to invest in the market in so many different ways.””

Wipro GE Healthcare joins hands with IIT Madras to foster industry-academia collaboration

Source: IBEF

“On Thursday, WiproGE Healthcare Private Limited (WGE) announced a fellowship collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), Chennai, to provide research scholars with increased opportunities to develop and further strengthen the ecosystem of innovation.

WGE will also provide financial assistance and industrial experience to the selected Masters (MS) in Research Scholars at IITM under this scheme.

WGE Chairman Mr. Azim Premji, speaking about the partnership, stated that the field of healthcare is being changed by the use of emerging technology that can solve some of the hardest healthcare challenges.

By creating a shared ecosystem of industry and academic partners, this transition can prove to be a major growth accelerator.

Mr. Premji quoted, “We want to mentor students and their ideas through this collaboration with IITM and help them create accessible healthcare solutions for those in need across the world.”

WGE intends to strengthen an innovation perspective in engineering-skilled students by providing industrial exposure in the company’s healthcare and other technology fields through close partnership with technical experts, it said.

A nine-month long internship opportunity at WGE will also be offered to research scholars of this MS programme.

IITM Director Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, said, “This partnership will provide researchers of the programme with rich experience as they will have the opportunity to work on numerous healthcare initiatives and be mentored by Wipro GE Healthcare industry experts.””

Ola to drive in its electric two-wheeler range in New Zealand

Source: IBEF

“On Wednesday, Ola announced that it plans to introduce its two-wheeler electric range in New Zealand.

This will support the New Zealand government’s goal of getting 64,000 new electric vehicles onto the road by the end of 2021, while helping to make the public sector carbon free by 2025, Ola said in a statement.

The business plans to launch the collection in New Zealand within the next 6-9 months, according to industry sources.

Ola’s vertical electric scooter, soon to be introduced, is part of its electric mobility business that has been established to develop and produce electric two-wheelers that can be purchased and operated by customers.

It is a crucial part of Ola’s wider vision of pushing the world towards solutions for sustainable mobility through shared and proprietary mobility.

Ola is in the early stages of establishing the world’s largest scooter factory in India, as part of electric mobility.

The factory will have the potential to produce over two million scooters a year once completed, it said.

Mr. Bhavish Aggarwal, Chairman and Group CEO of Ola, said, “We welcome and strongly support the Honorable Prime Minister and the Government of New Zealand’s drive towards carbon neutrality, especially in the field of mobility. We are delighted to bring our electric two-wheeler to New Zealand to further accelerate the development of sustainable solutions.”

He added, “Ola is committed to moving the planet through its goods to sustainable mobility. “

Mr. Brian Dewil, Ola New Zealand MD, said, “Ola wants to play an important role in the path to become carbon neutral in New Zealand. We have seen strong and steady growth in the e-scooter and e-bike industry, so we believe that customers would embrace Ola’s new scooter product as a way to contribute to the development of a 0-carbon economy.”

Ola announced plans earlier this year to employ over 2,000 people for its electricity sector. Tiger Global, Matrix India, Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Mr. Ratan Tata and others have raised around US$ 400 million in funding from Ola Electric”

India leads the world in AI adoption amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Source: IBEF

“The pandemic that hit the world disrupting the lives of both individuals and organisations produced a winner—high-tech adoption across the globe, with Indian organisations leading such changes.

The largest rise in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) during COVID-19 has been observed in India, according to a global report by PwC India.

94% of the more than 200 chief executives surveyed in India said that they have either adopted or are preparing to introduce AI in the company.

While the survey was conducted globally among 670 high ranking officials in September-October 2020, the study for India was conducted between August 2020 and September 2020.

Compared to major economies such as Britain, Japan and the US, the study said India witnessed the highest rise in AI use, with over 70% of Indian organisations adopting AI in some functional areas in 2020 compared to about 62% last year.

More than 90% of businesses are also implementing or intend to invest in AI solutions to tackle existing market problems, the survey said.

According to the survey, with 89% of the companies surveyed doing so, AI adoption in India was driven by the travel and hospitality industry, followed by telecoms, media & technology companies (86%), financial services (82%), and 73% of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies adopting it during the year.

AI is deployed across business functions such as customer support, finance, tax, HR, IT, cyber protection, production, operations, R&D, risk, legal and enforcement, sales, marketing, supply chain and logistics.

The survey also shows that confidence with regard to AI in cost reduction and revenue maximisation has risen dramatically from 72% to 92% in India, and since the pandemic affected them, 45% of organisations have increased the use of AI.

In addition, 94% of respondents have either introduced AI in their organisations or are preparing to incorporate it.

Ms. Sudipta Ghosh, a partner and leader for data and analytics at PwC India, said, “AI is now considered as a crucial enabler for organisations to emerge from the current crisis, prepare for transformation and make radical changes to the operating model for enduring competitive advantage.”

Businesses need to begin to perceive it as a necessity rather than a privilege and weave it into the organisational fabric to get the best out of AI, he added.

Companies, however, still find it challenging to embrace AI and fail to realise the optimum value of their AI investments. For example, 37% of them find it challenging to define the correct use cases for AI and 28% have limited knowledge on the high-quality data for use in AI solutions, the survey said.”

6 steps to bring India and Australia closer in 2021

Source: Into India

“6 steps to strong India-Australia ties in 2021

1) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi get on well – they can turn that into specific outcomes by continuing the close dialogue.

2) PM Modi is a politician who likes to think outside the square, so innovative ideas from Australia will be welcome in Delhi.

3) Two-way trade is at around A$30 billion and can grow – aiming for slow and steady rather than dramatic boosts will work well for both sides.

4) Food security and food quality provide collaboration opportunities for both countries. India offers the advantage of diversifying Australian global agricultural exports away from wheat and beef and towards vegetables and fruit.
5) More interaction at all levels of politics (State and Federal, Ministers and Members) will help because India is a complicated political puzzle with Modi pushing more decision making down to state level and competition between states is increasing – and there are 29 of those!
6) Creatively looking for ways to collaborate will work well and move our trade from “transactional” to “relationship”.

With these steps we will see strong India-Australia ties in 2021.”

India in talks with Australia for free trade pact, says S Jaishankar

Source: Live Mint

“Fifteen Asia-Pacific economies signed the RCEP last month, forming the world’s largest free trade bloc that excludes the United States. India pulled out of RCEP talks in November last year, but ASEAN leaders said the door remained open for it to join.
India and Australia are in discussions for a bilateral free trade agreement, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Wednesday, following New Delhi’s decision to walk out of a China-backed trade bloc.

“”There is a discussion on a free trade agreement, a bilateral free trade agreement as well because, as you know, we didn’t sign the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership),”” Jaishankar said in an interview with Australia-based Lowy Institute, a foreign policy research group.

Fifteen Asia-Pacific economies signed the RCEP last month, forming the world’s largest free trade bloc that excludes the United States. India pulled out of RCEP talks in November last year, but ASEAN leaders said the door remained open for it to join.

RCEP groups the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Jaishankar also said India and Australia would have “”very strong defence ties””, adding he hoped for strong trade cooperation.

Last month, India, along with Australia, the United States and Japan conducted their largest joint naval exercises in over a decade, seen as part of efforts to balance China’s vast military and economic power in the region.”

Mr. Bill Gates hails India’s digital finance approach, calls it ‘global model’

Source: IBEF

“On December 8, technology leader Mr. Bill Gates praised India for its policies on financial inclusion and innovation.

Mr. Gates even confirmed that his philanthropic foundation is partnering with other countries to carry out open source technology based on India’s approach to policy implementation.

He said, “If people are going to study in a country other than China right now, I’d suggest they should look at India. Things are really booming there, and creativity is phenomenal around that structure.”

Mr. Gates praised India for developing ambitious universal identification and digital payment systems that include the largest biometric database in the world and a framework for sending rupees between any bank or smartphone app. According to him the policies have enabled reduction in the cost and friction of helping the vulnerable.

As per the info, the Unified Payments Interface, or UPI, was supported by booming smartphone use and wireless data rates after demonetisation in 2016. These are considered among the world’s lowest.

Currently India has required companies (Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc., Paytm, etc.) to use its UPI platform so that all providers can submit payments easily. There is also no usage fee scheme that needs to be maintained.

India’s biometric system called Aadhaar, meanwhile has raised privacy concerns as it can also be used for citizen surveillance by the government. Nonetheless, nations like Russia, Morocco and Bangladesh have voiced interest in the strategy.

On the production of COVID-19 vaccines, Mr. Gates suggested that it should be done in an equitable way to resolve the issue. He said that his foundation partners with multinational suppliers, ensuring that adequate dosage numbers are delivered at fair prices. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in India is working with the Serum Institute.”

Digital May Drive Over 80 Pc Incremental Spend For Enterprises In Near-Term: NASSCOM

Source: IBEF

“The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) said on Thursday that significant growth in digital adoption by businesses and a possible growth in outsourcing intensity due to remote work are leading to a faster than anticipated recovery for the technology services industry.

In the second quarter of FY21, top Indian technology service providers performed better than analyst expectations, it said in the study titled ‘Future of Technology Services — Navigating the New Normal.’

McKinsey & Company has performed independent third-party research and analysis.

The study highlights that from January to July, tech natives and digital reinventors with sales of more than US$ 3 billion have powered 65% of the US$ 6 trillion market capitalization growth, highlighting that technology is now at the centre of future business recovery.

Although COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption across industries, providers of technology services are seeing a sharp growth in digital deals.

After the pandemic, digital transformation deals have seen a 30% rise, 80% rise in cloud investment, and 15% in customer experience.

Companies are also documenting an improvement in their employees’ digital dexterity, with a growing emphasis on remote enablement, and are constantly updating processes to recognise automation and digitisation opportunities.

NASSCOM President Ms. Debjani Ghosh stated that the Indian technology services industry has had an unprecedented effect on the economy over the years through a multiplier effect on job development, balancing import bills through competitive exports, boosting start-ups and driving a significant contribution to GDP growth.

“The next 10 years will be radically different from the past and involve the creation of strategies and perspectives for all stakeholders to identify potential possibilities and reduce risks. Businesses need to build a recovery to ensure a quicker recovery.”

Mr. Noshir Kaka, Senior Partner and Global Leader for Analytics at McKinsey & Company stated that since the beginning of the pandemic, developments in digital re-invention and efficient operations have seen a remarkable expansion. The study indicates that in the last nine months, the world has outpaced toward digital adoption by three to five years.

He said, “We are seeing an intense emphasis on vertical digitalization, and our research shows that COVID-19 resilient digital offerings will drive 80% plus near-term spending.”

The study said businesses and chief investment officers are restructuring their spending on technology to embrace digitalization. In the second quarter of FY2021, major players in technology services recorded better performance than analysts’ estimates.

The technology service providers referred the increase in revenue to cloud and digital offerings, and the benefits accrued by companies from vendor consolidation.”

Business activity rises for 2nd straight month; employment up for first time in 9 months

Source: IBEF

“The Indian services sector rebound was extended in November as new work orders assisted growth in business activity and the jobs increase in nine months, a monthly survey said on Thursday.

For the second month in a row in November, the seasonally adjusted India Services Business Activity Index posted above the crucial 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

Ms. Pollyanna De Lima, Economics Associate Director at IHS Markit said, “From March to September, the Indian service sector continued to recover from coronavirus-induced contractions. Companies have seen a further increase in new job intakes and have responded to this by increasing business activity and jobs.”

In November, service companies recruited additional staff, completing an eight-month round of job shedding. That said, as some businesses reported having enough workers to cope with current workloads, the rate of job growth was marginal overall.

Inflation rates for production expenses and output charges have increased. Enabling factors for domestic demand are low interest rates aimed at mitigating the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy and the recent increase in jobs in services.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) began its three-day deliberation in the middle of expectations of the status quo on benchmark lending rates in light of high retail inflation. On December 4, the RBI will announce its monetary policy review.

Looking ahead, service providers have been optimistic in the coming 12 months of an improvement in market activity. The cumulative degree of optimism improved to a peak of nine months.

Meanwhile, investment in the Indian private sector increased in November for the third straight month, but the rate of growth eased from a near nine-year high in October. The Composite PMI Performance Index, calculating the combined services and output of manufacturing, dropped from 58 in October to 56.3 in November. Slower rises in sales were posted by both product manufacturers and services companies.

Ms. Lima said, “Production and revenues in the private sector have held up well, although there have been some signs of growth among goods producers and service providers losing momentum.”

As a pick-up in manufacturing helped the gross domestic product (GDP) register a lower contraction of 7.5%, India’s economy recovered faster than anticipated in the September quarter and held out hopes for more progress on the bouncing back of consumer demand.

As the coronavirus lockout pummelled economic activity, GDP contracted by a record 23.9% in the first quarter of fiscal 2020-21 (April 2020 to March 2021).”

GDP growth to enter positive territory in Q4: Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Mr. Rajiv Kumar

Source: IBEF

“Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman, Mr. Rajiv Kumar said on Wednesday that the Indian economy is recovering from the pandemic-induced degrowth and GDP growth will reach positive territory in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year.

In an interview with PTI, Mr. Kumar also said that the latest agricultural reform laws of the Centre are aimed at raising farmers’ incomes, and the current conflict was the result of confusion and miscommunication that needs to be eliminated.

The figure for the second quarter of GDP (7.5% contraction) reflects that the economy is coming out of this pandemic-induced period of degrowth, and my hope is that we will achieve the same degree of economic activity in the third quarter as in the previous year.

He added, “And the fourth quarter will show a small but positive growth over the previous year, because many structural reforms have been introduced by the government in this period and some more reforms are in the pipeline.””

Conditions to improve for India Inc in 2021 as economy revives: Moody’s

Source: IBEF

“According to rating agency Moody’s, the earnings of most Indian companies will increase in 2021 as demand begins to recover following a sharp recession, encouraging deleveraging.

Businesses that are financially strong will retain good access to financing, while issuers of risky grades may face challenges.

Situations for Indian companies will improve in 2021, as post-lockdown economic activity gathers pace and earnings rise on the back of robust demand recovery across sectors. This underpins the “”stable”” viewpoint of Moody’s Investors Service for Indian companies in 2021.

Significant GDP growth of 10.8% in India in fiscal 2022 ending March 2022 will be driven by broad-based demand recovery and a low base in 2020. Ms. Sweta Patodia, a Moody’s analyst, said, “Improving market conditions will increase the income of rated issuers, which we expect to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of fiscal 2022. Over the next 12-18 months, a combination of higher earnings and decreased capital spending would encourage deleveraging.”

The low interest rate environment and widespread availability of credit meanwhile will allow companies with strong balance sheets to refinance and expand. Liquidity would however be tight for financially poorer issuers, exacerbating their operational difficulties.”

Lupin gets USFDA nod to market generic Penicillamine tablets

Source: IBEF

“On Tuesday, drug firm Lupin said it had obtained clearance from the US health regulator to sell on the American market its generic penicillamine tablets used for the treatment of Wilson’s disease and cystinuria.

Lupin said in a regulatory filing that the company has obtained approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for the marketing of its USP 250 mg penicillamine tablets.

The product is a generic version of the Depen tablets from Mylan Specialty LP with the same power, it added.

Lupin said that the tablets will be manufactured at Lupin’s Nagpur facility and are expected to be launched soon.

Penicillamine tablets USP had an overall annual selling of around USD 4 million in the US, Lupin said, according to the IQVIA MAT September 2020 results.

Penicillamine Tablets USP, 250 mg, are prescribed for the treatment of Cystinuria, Wilson’s disease, and in patients with serious active rheumatoid arthritis who have not adapted to an effective traditional therapy trial, it added.

On Tuesday, Lupin’s shares closed at Rs. 909.75 (US$ 12.28) per scrip on the BSE, up 2.01% from its previous close.”

Indian SaaS startups to capture 7-9% global market share by 2022: Bain

Source: IBEF

“Software as a service (SaaS) businesses in India are projected to achieve revenue of US$ 18-20 billion and capture 7-9% of the global SaaS market by 2022, as they invest in technology to drive the next growth phase, with heavy COVID-19 tailwinds driving collaboration and efficiency platforms and remote working shifting companies to digital channels.

According to a new report by Bain & Co, SaaS companies such as Zoho, Freshworks, Druva, and Icertis have already pushed through the US$ 100 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) mark, with a strong pipeline of companies well-placed to suit over the next 12 to 18 months.

The study defines SaaS startups as those founded domestically by Indian founders (or founders of Indian origin) serving domestic and global customers with most of their workforce in India.

In a recent interview, Zoho founder Mr. Sridhar Vembu stated that the company aims to hit the one million client mark and further expand its Indian market.

The Bain report said the founders of the first generation, including Zoho’s Mr. Vembu and Freshwork’s Mr. Girish Mathrubootham, played a crucial role in this transformation as they actively engaged in developing a group of budding entrepreneurs, leading to the growth of many new projects and the creation of huge jobs.

Mr. Aditya Shukla, partner, Bain & Company and co-author of the report said, “Indian SaaS companies have stronger competitive advantage over their global peers – they have access to a large pool of qualified talent like 100K+ SaaS developers, substantially lower staff costs (75-85%) compared to developed countries for equivalent sales and production talent, and flexible models such as round-the-clock service with our IT and trained service staff.”

The report also said that in the past two years, SaaS has witnessed substantial funding momentum and will continue to gain investor focus. Investments in these businesses have risen by 20%, from US$ 670 million in the first half of 2019 to US$ 830 million in the first half of 2020.

According to data from Tracxn, SaaS companies received about US$ 2.10 billion in funding between January and October 2020, compared to US$ 1.70 billion in 2019.

Postman (US$ 150 million), Freshworks (US$ 250 million), High Radius (US$ 125 million), and digital applications such as Pine Labs (US$ 85 million) and Khatabook (US$ 60 million) are the top fund-raising rounds.

Mr. Sidharth Malik, chairman, Freshworks India said, “The pandemic has changed the way corporations treat consumer involvement. This has intensified the need for resources that allow organisations to interact and support clients, regardless of where their client-facing teams are located.”

In June, with a financing of US$ 150 million, Postman entered the unicorn group, becoming the fourth Indian SaaS company after FreshWorks, Druva and Icertis to enter the unicorn club. Postman was the fastest of the four to get there, taking six years to valuate it at over US$ 1 billion.

Startups in this sector are also backed by investors such as Tiger Global and Sequoia, who have supported large unicorns such as Flipkart and Ola.

In the future, Bain expects to gain more traction from four models from Indian SaaS firms. These include SMB-focused SaaS companies such as Zoho and Freshworks, targeting global markets with horizontal offerings that are easy to use, globally competitive emerging tech companies such as Postman, domestically targeted business-to-business (B2B) tech products such as Darwinbox and MyGate, vertical-specific SaaS companies such as Locus and Innovaccer, disrupting underserved verticals such as healthcare and logistics.

The study identifies four winning skills that will be crucial for Indian SaaS firms to develop in the current world of covid-19. This include supporting remote sales, setting up an efficient business sales engine to concentrate on going upmarket and expanding at an early stage to broad global markets, establishing a good product-market match and encouraging employee success and creativity within the company as the workforce becomes more dispersed and remote in nature.

Mr. Rajeev Suri, managing partner, Orios Venture Partners said, “SaaS and cloud-based enterprises are real winners and are here to stay. What would have taken 4-5 years has now been zapped into a four-month window because of digitization.”

Finance Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman holds 5th review meeting on CAPEX of CPSEs to boost expenditure in economy

Source: IBEF

“Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman here today held Video Conference with Secretaries of the Ministries of Power, Mines and Department of Atomic Energy and the CMDs of 10 CPSEs belonging to these Ministries, to review the capital expenditure (CAPEX) in this financial year. This was 5th in the ongoing series of meetings that the Finance Minister is having with various stakeholders to accelerate the economic growth in the background of COVID – 19 pandemic.

The overall achievement as on November 23, 2020 is Rs. 24227 crore (US$ 3.28 billion) (39.4%) against the CAPEX target for 2020-21 i.e. Rs. 61483 crore (US$ 8.33 billion).

While reviewing the performance of CPSEs, Mrs. Sitharaman said that CAPEX by CPSEs is a critical driver of economic growth and need to be scaled up for the FYs 2020-21 & 2021-22. The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of the Ministries and CPSEs for making visible efforts to meet out the CAPEX targets. However, Mrs. Sitharaman said that more efforts are still required to achieve the target of 75% CAPEX by Q3 and more than 100% by Q4 of the FY 21. The Finance Minister encouraged the CPSEs to perform better to achieve targets and to ensure that the capital outlay provided to them for the year 2020-21 is spent properly and within time.

Mrs. Sitharaman asked the Secretaries to closely monitor the performance of CPSEs in order to ensure to achieve the target of CAPEX and make plan for it. She also asked the Secretaries to proactively sort out the unresolved issues of the CPSEs.”

PM Inaugurates RE-Invest 2020

Source: IBEF

“Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi inaugurated the 3rd Global Renewable Energy Investment Meeting and Expo (RE-Invest 2020) through video conferencing. The summit is organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The theme for RE-Invest 2020 is ‘Innovations for Sustainable Energy Transition’.

The Prime Minister expressed happiness that in the renewable energy sector, within a short time the progress from megawatts to gigawatts in generation capacity and “One Sun, One World, One Grid” are becoming a reality, all of which were discussed in the earlier editions. He added in the last 6 years, India is travelling on an unparalleled journey. He pointed out that India’s generation capacity and network is being expanded to ensure every citizen of India has access to electricity to unlock his full potential. He showcased that today, India’s renewable power capacity is the 4th largest in the world and is growing at the fastest speed among all major countries. The renewable energy capacity in India is currently 136 Giga Watts, which is about 36% of our total capacity.

The Prime Minister expressed happiness that India’s annual renewable energy capacity addition has been exceeding that of coal based thermal power since 2017. He highlighted that in the last 6 years, India has increased installed renewable energy capacity by two and half times. He said investing in renewable energy early on even when it was not affordable has helped in achieving the scale, which is bringing costs down. He said we are showing to the world that sound environmental policies can also be sound economics. He said we have ensured energy efficiency is not limited to one ministry or department, instead it has been made a target for the entire government. All our policies have a consideration of achieving energy efficiency.

The Prime Minister said after the success of Performance Linked Incentives (PLI) in electronics manufacturing, we have decided to give similar incentives to high efficiency solar modules. He stressed that ensuring “Ease of doing business” is our utmost priority and dedicated Project Development Cells have been established to facilitate investors. He announced that there are huge renewable energy deployment plans for the next decade and are likely to generate business prospects of the order of around $ 20 billion per year. He invited investors, developers, and businesses to join India’s renewable energy journey.”

India’s IT and business services mkt to reach US$ 13 billion by Dec 2020: IDC

Source: IBEF

“By December 2020, India’s IT and business services market is expected to increase by 5.4% annually to reach US$ 13 billion, research firm IDC said.

In the January-June (H1) 2020 period, the segment jumped 5.3% year-on-year (y-o-y), compared to 8.9% growth in H1 2019, IDC said in a report.

The IT services market contributed 77.4% of the IT and business services market in H1 2020, increasing 5.9% y-o-y compared to 9.3% growth in the previous year.

“”IT services market will start picking up momentum gradually from 2021 onwards and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.2% between 2019-2024, to be valued at US$ 13.4 billion by the end of 2024,”” it said.

IDC said, “In the first half of 2020, the growth markets for application hosting services and infrastructure hosting services continued to grow due to the increasing adoption of cloud applications.”

Network services have seen greater adoption due to increased demand for VPN licences and the need for greater network connectivity, it added.

Ms. Garima Goenka, IDC India Market Analyst, IT Services said, “”In H1 2020, the role of IT services vendors gained higher significance, as organisations increasingly approached them to help ensure business continuity by putting in place various technologies, solutions, best practises and frameworks.””

Organizations have made greater investments in collaborative applications, VPN licences, endpoint devices, cybersecurity solutions, cloud, artificial intelligence, and automation in these challenging times.

In addition to ensuring business continuity, IT service providers have also played a role in helping organisations achieve a greater degree of technology resilience and adaptability.

Ms. Goenka mentioned that vendors have launched AI-based applications to assist government and healthcare sectors in providing citizenship services and responding to COVID-19 related queries, and to ensure that their employees are returned to the workplace safely and securely.

IDC India Senior Research Manager, Enterprise Software and ICT Services, Ms. Shweta Baidya said, “Investments in IT across all major sectors such as BFSI, healthcare, telecommunications, IT/ITeS, government and manufacturing have increased significantly to enhance overall experience and maintain business continuity and resilience.”

She added that some of the strict requirements that provided increased flexibility with regard to work from home/anywhere policies were also relaxed by the government.”

Cabinet approves FDI of Rs. 2,480.92 crore in M/s. ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited by M/s. ATC Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd.

Source: IBEF

“he Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has approved the FDI proposal no. 4930 for acquisition of 12.32% of the equity share capital (on a fully diluted basis) of M/s ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited by M/s ATC Asia Pacific PTE Limited as a result of exercise of put option by M/s Tata Tele Services Limited (TTSL) and Tata Sons Private Limited (TSPL).

This would lead to foreign direct investment inflow of Rs. 2,480.92 crore (US$ 335.47 million). With this approval the cumulative FDI of M/s ATC Asia Pacific PTE Limited (ATC Singapore) into ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited (ATC India) will be Rs. 5,417.2 crore (US$ 732.51 million) in financial years 2018-19 to 2020-21.

Details:

M/s ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited is engaged in the business of providing telecom infrastructure services to telecom operators.
The company has existing FDI approval up to 86.36 % and with this approval it will rise to 98.68% (on a fully diluted basis).
Foreign Direct Investment would be Rs. 2,480.92 crore (US$ 335.47 million) in M/s ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited by M/s ATC Asia Pacific PTE Limited during FY 2020-2021 and cumulatively will be Rs. 5,417.2 crore (US$ 732.51 million) considering the approval granted in FDI proposal no. 4854 and 4860 in FY 2018-19.

Impact:

The inflow of foreign investment to India will spur economic growth, as well as foster innovation.

Background:

FDI up to 100% is allowed in Telecom Services Sector wherein 49% under automatic route and beyond 49% through government route subject to observance of licensing and security conditions by the licensee as well as investors as notified by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) from time to time.

The Company is engaged in the business of providing passive telecom infrastructure services to telecom operators pursuant to various approvals granted to it by Department of Telecommunications.”

India may attract US$ 120-160 billion worth investments per year: CII and EY report

Source: IBEF

“India may attract US$ 120-160 billion per year of foreign direct investment (FDI) by 2025, leading to an increase in the ratio of FDI to GDP from 3-4% to less than 2%, a CII and EY researchers reported. Over the past 10 years, the country has seen GDP rise 6.8%, with FDI increasing to GDP at 1.8%.

It reported that in terms of attractiveness, investors ranked India third, at least 80% have plans to invest in India in the next two to three years, and nearly 25% reported investments worth more than US$ 500 million, The Economic Times reported.

As per the report,’ FDI in India: Now, Next, and Beyond if investments come in, India’s GDP growth could also boost to 7-8% growth.

Traditionally, cars, chemicals, medicines, and pharmaceuticals have attracted a majority of 89% of FDI, but boosting electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing, high-end machinery manufacturing, and diversification of cotton textile and mining value chains in service and regionalization will assess FDI in post-COVID movements.

Maharashtra remains the most desirable destination, with 28% of the share, followed by Karnataka (19%), Delhi (16%), and Gujarat (10%). Between October 2019 and June 2020, these four alone captured 75% of the FDI, while the top 10 got 97%, it noted.

Focusing on making low-cost skill sectors attractive to FDI, could therefore also increase job prospects for the ‘huge labor force’ of India and expand investment to potential states, some of which, the report said, also hold larger populations.

Investors surveyed in the report mentioned that investment and attractiveness were affected by India’s workforce, political stability, cheap labor, and policy reforms.”

7 fatal mistakes in Indian market entry

Source: Into India

“India is super exciting, vibrant, colorful and amazingly friendly. People are accessible and available. Deals can be signed and MOU’s are much loved. The population of over 1.2 billion is soon to become the largest in the world and is soon to overtake China.

While India will probably not be “another China”, it is becoming a global power in its own right and an economy that will soon not be too far behind the USA and China.

So, it makes sense to be there real quick, yes?

YES be there – but watch out for these fatal mistakes

1) Trying to do the whole country at once will exhaust and confuse you – even Indian companies take years to cover it. Select your best one or two points of entry and the rest will follow.

2) Going in quick on price might seem exciting – but who is actually winning out of this deal? You become a disposable and cheaper provider – so your future is very short term.

3) Appointing the first person who says “yes” seems exciting and then nothing happens. Later you might work out every Indian says “yes” – in their culture, they have to. It takes time to find a “yes” that is real.

4) Focusing on injustice, slums, inequality, and the Indian way might be something you think is important but of course, it is pretty offensive to your hosts. Sure the traffic is diabolical, but there is no benefit in whinging.

5) A short time frame such as one year is a real killer for Indian market entry. It needs to be a minimum of 3 years. If you cannot give it time, go somewhere else.

6) Going it alone sounds brave – but is stupid and wasteful. India is all about relationships and collaborations. And you will need “hand-holding” by someone who knows the ropes.

7) Ignoring cultural differences is a recipe for misunderstanding and disappointment. Cultural differences between India and the west are massive – and what we have in common is also massive. You need to understand them both.”

Melbourne set to attract more movies and digital games creativity – maybe Bollywood too?

Source: Into India

“Great move by my home town, Melbourne – Victoria’s thriving creative industry received a massive boost with the State Government announcing a record investment of $33.8 million in the 2020-21 Budget in local screen productions to allow more global and local projects to be shot here.

This includes international film Blacklight which started shooting in Melbourne last week. The Liam Neeson feature is one of a number of productions currently shooting in Victoria while adhering to strict COVIDSafe protocols.

Some $19.2 million will be allocated to attract international and interstate screen projects through a new Victorian Screen Incentive. This incentive will target physical productions, visual effects, animation, post-production and, for the first time, digital games projects.

There will be $4.7 million for the development and production of local content across film, television, online and games and $8.6 million to continue Film Victoria’s successful local production investment and industry and skills development programs, on top of Film Victoria’s ongoing operational funding.

As Docklands Studios Melbourne prepares to break ground on its $46 million sixth sound stage, $1.3 million will be allocated to create a trade and technical hub close to the studios for screen crews and support businesses.

Melbourne is a creative city – so if you are a creative, time to take a look…”

Bengaluru Tech Summit 2020: India, Australia, Switzerland to work closely for tech innovation

Source: Deccanherald

“Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday attended the virtual Bengaluru Tech Summit (BTS).
During the event, Morrison while expressing pleasure to lead the contingent of 150 Australian (virtual) delegates at the 23rd edition of the BTS, said that he has plans to take the bilateral relation with India to new heights.

“Bengaluru is the biggest technology cluster, fourth biggest in the world, and is home to a third of India’s technology professionals and to at least 25 Australian companies as well. It is pulsing with energy and ambition and it is a place where it is easy to believe that ‘Next is Now’, your (BTS) conference’s theme,” said Morrison.

“This year, we faced Covid-19 pandemic, global health, and economic crisis. It cost lives and livelihood, devasting for all of us. In the midst of such suffering, we have faced the toughest of the challenges of our time head-on with an accelerated rate of adoption in everything from keeping businesses alive, families and communities connected, and continue our effort to find the vaccine. Here in Australia, we saw rapid uptake of technologies as a direct response to the Covid lockdown. Our businesses were scaling their online presence and even citizens adapted well to the new normal,” Morrison said.

“Technology, we believe, holds the keys to the new science, medical research, reducing carbon emission, addressing the global climate crisis. It is at the forefront of foreign policy and defense. It is pushing us to new frontiers in governance, data protection and privacy and more,” Morrison added

“That is why countries like Australia and India, need to work together on these challenges and opportunities. We have common roots with respect for democracy and rule of law, shared institutions in many respects,” he noted.

“In Bengaluru, our Australian firms ANZ, Telestra, and others employ thousands of people. While, Indian companies Infosys, Wipro, and TCS are growing their footprint here in Australia,” Morrison noted.

“Australia and India have unlimited possibilities of working together in quantum computing, astrophysics, Artificial Intelligence, critical minerals, 5G, Space research, and much more,” Morrison highlighted the bilateral arrangement details, which was signed between the two countries in July.

He also confirmed to launch the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technologies Partnership grant program.

“Switzerland is proud of Roger Federer and loves to see swiss alps in many Bollywood movies. However, Switzerland is a land of innovation and science powerhouse, two key pillars of industries. Switzerland has been consistently ranked as one of the best innovative countries in the world for the past decade,” Parmelin added.

“As a small country with limited natural resources, we have no choice other than to invest heavily in on talent and ideas. The city of Bengaluru is now one of the major tech hotspots and we recognize its potential and have set up to collaborate in the fields of education, agriculture, research, and innovation in India. This year the Bengaluru Tech Summit, our Swissnex team will be working with a focus on food and nutrition” Parmelin noted.

“It is our priority to conclude the India-EFTA (European Free Trade Association (EFTA) negotiation and the new investment protection agreement as soon as possible, These two will help companies of both the countries have better access to the local markets and ecosystem” Parmelin noted.

“India and Switzerland are uniquely positioned to find solutions and together turn challenges into opportunities,” Parmelin concluded. Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on kicked off the virtual Bengaluru Tech Summit.

Speaking through video conference PM Modi highlighted how despite constraints caused by Covid-19, the resilient Indian tech sector turned challenges to opportunities.

They were able to help the employees to work from home and from anywhere. This has become a new normal and is going to stay. We will see a high amount of tech adoption in education, agriculture, and other sectors, Modi added.”

Australia to take bilateral relationship with India to new heights by joining frontier research: PM Scott Morrison

Source: Aninews

“Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], November 19 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said his country plans to take bilateral relationship with India to new heights by working together in frontier technologies. Speaking at the Bengaluru Tech Summit via video conference, Morrison said Australia has plans to take the bilateral relations to new heights. Australia and India have unlimited possibilities of working together in Space research, critical minerals, 5G, AI, quantum computing, and much more. We have signed the landmark Australia – India Technology Framework on cyber and cyber-enabled technology,” he said. The Australian Prime Minister also highlighted that Australia and India are working together for an open, free, safe, and secure internet.”That is the foundation for digital economies to thrive. We will be soon launching the Australia – India Cyber and Critical Technologies Partnership grant program. The relationship between India and Australia is going from strength to strength, we share a deep desire to succeed and see our region prosper in peace and safety, as ultimately that is all our technology ambition is all about, the prosperity and safety of us all,” he said. He further said he is proud to be leading a 150 strong virtual delegation of Australian policymakers, industry leaders, startups and world-leading institutions to the Bengaluru Tech Summit “Bengaluru, India’s biggest technology cluster, fourth biggest in the world, home to a third of India’s tech professionals and to at least 25 Australia companies, is pulsing with energy and ambition and it is a place where it is easy to believe that “Next is Now”,” he said.

When the world is facing a global economic and health crisis that has cost lives and livelihood, Morrison said Australia has faced the challenges of these times head-on with accelerated adaptation, from keeping businesses running, keeping families connected through adopting the technology. Australia has seen a rapid uptake in technology during the pandemic. In the first three weeks of the pandemic, a one-fourth of Australian businesses have changed the way they deliver what they do, almost a quarter changed what they do and almost one-third of them expanded their online presence,” said Morrison. He also highlighted the fact that at least 10 Australian companies came out with new technologies to support business continuity.”We have always been great adapters and implementers of technology, we got plans to bank their rapid progress and support the adaption of technology to help them keep making the most during this hard time,” said Morrison. He said Australia believes that technology holds the key to new science, medical research, reduce carbon emission, addressing global climate change, it is now at the forefront of foreign policy, security and defense.”It is pushing us to new frontiers in civil liberties and law, in data privacy and protection. That is why the countries like Australia and India are coming together to work on the new technology challenges and opportunities,” he said. Morrison also highlighted that his country’s companies have employed thousands of professionals in Bengaluru and Indian companies are also growing their footprints in Australia.” Australia – India Strategic Research Firm, Australia’s largest bilateral science firm with any country, is already forging relationships with universities, research institutes, and businesses. In the past 10 years, 30 AISRF clients have funded Australian and Bengaluru-based universities for some pioneering research like quantum computing, astrophysics,” he added. This year, the theme of the summit is “Next is Now”. The summit will deliberate on the key challenges emerging in the post-pandemic world with a focus on the impact of prominent technologies and innovations in the domains of ‘Information Technology and Electronics’ and ‘Biotechnology’. (ANI)”

Australia ‘will always be Australia,’ PM Morrison responds to China grievances

Source: Economictimes

“SYDNEY: Australia’s Prime Minister has responded to China’s list of grievances over his country’s human rights diplomacy, free media and investment policies by saying “”we will always be Australia””.

China’s embassy in Canberra gave a list of complaints about Australia’s China policy to local media company Nine on Wednesday, a day after China’s foreign ministry in Beijing listed the complaints in a regular press briefing.

Tensions mounted this year between Australia and its largest trading partner China, after Beijing imposed a series of trade reprisals after Australia led calls for an international inquiry into the coronavirus.

Australian government ministers have recently said they want to improve communication with Beijing, but China’s foreign ministry has said Australia needs to “”take concrete actions to correct their mistakes””.

On Thursday, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison referred to the Chinese embassy’s list and said Australia acted in its own interests and would not change its policies.

In an interview with Seven Network’s Sunrise program, Morrison said: “”Having a free media, having parliamentarians elected and able to speak their minds is a cause for concern, as well as speaking up on human rights in concert with other countries like Canada, New Zealand, the UK and others in international forums, if this is the cause for tension in that relationship, then it would seem that the tension is that Australia is just being Australia.””

On Tuesday, Australia and Japan agreed on a breakthrough defence pact during a visit by Morrison to Tokyo, prompting a rebuke from China over statements the two leaders made.

Back in Australia, Morrison told media that it was a mistake for China to believe Australia acted at the behest of the United States. He said Australia formed trade and defence arrangements with Japan and other countries, and set its foreign investment rules, in accordance with its national interests.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday said the cause of the deteriorating relationship is “”Australia’s repeated wrong acts and remarks””.

On Tuesday, Zhao read complaints about Australia’s actions including “”mistakes on issues concerning China’s core interests like Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan””, including actions in the Human Rights Council, and support for Taiwan entering the World Health Organisation.

China also criticized Australia’s action against foreign interference, and being the first country to ban Chinese companies from participating in its 5G network.

The embassy said more than 10 Chinese investments had been blocked in Australia on national security grounds.

“”We won’t be compromising on the fact that we will set what our foreign investment laws are, or how we build our 5G telecommunications networks, or how we run our systems of protecting against interference,”” Morrison told Nine Television.”

Plans To Take India-Australia Relations To New Heights: Scott Morrison

Source: NDTV

“Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said his country plans to take bilateral relationship with India to new heights by working together in frontier technologies.
Speaking at the Bengaluru Tech Summit via video conference, Morrison said Australia has plans to take the bilateral relations to new heights.

“”Australia and India have unlimited possibilities of working together in Space research, critical minerals, 5G, AI, quantum computing and much more. We have signed the landmark Australia – India Technology Framework on cyber and cyber-enabled technology,”” he said.

The Australian Prime Minister also highlighted that Australia and India are working together for an open, free, safe and secure internet.

“”That is the foundation for digital economies to thrive. We will be soon launching the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technologies Partnership grant program. The relationship between India and Australia is going from strength to strength, we share a deep desire to succeed and see our region prosper in peace and safety, as ultimately that is all our technology ambition is all about, the prosperity and safety of us all,”” he said.

He further said he is proud to be leading a 150 strong virtual delegation of Australian policymakers, industry leaders, startups and world-leading institutions to the Bengaluru Tech Summit.

“”Bengaluru, India’s biggest technology cluster, fourth biggest in the world, home to a third of India’s tech professionals and to at least 25 Australian companies, is pulsing with energy and ambition and it is a place where it is easy to believe that “”Next is Now””,”” he said.

When the world is facing a global economic and health crisis that has cost lives and livelihood, Morrison said Australia has faced the challenges of these times head-on with accelerated adaptation, from keeping businesses running, keeping families connected through adopting the technology.

“”Australia has seen a rapid uptake in technology during the pandemic. In the first three weeks of the pandemic, a one-fourth of Australian businesses have changed the way they deliver what they do, almost a quarter changed what they do and almost one-third of them expanded their online presence,”” said Morrison.”

Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine ‘Covaxin’ enters phase-3 trials

Source: IBEF

“Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, is now under phase-3 trials, Mr. Krishna Ella, Bharat Biotech’s Chairman and Managing Director, said on Monday.

Speaking at an Indian School of Business programme, Mr. Ella said the company is also focused on another Covid-19 vaccine that would be in the form of nasal drops and should be ready by next year.

“”We collaborated with ICMR for the COVID-19 vaccine when it reached phase 3 trials,”” he said.

Mr. Krishna Ella said that Bharat Biotech is the world’s only vaccine company with a manufacturing facility for BSL3 (Biosafety level 3).

The vaccine manufacturer confirmed last month that it had successfully completed an interim review of the vaccine’s Phase I and II trials and is initiating Phase III trials for 26,000 participants.

In collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV), Covaxinis is being developed by BharatBiotech.

On October 2, the city-based vaccine manufacturer requested permission from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to perform a phase 3 randomised double-blind placebo-controlled multicentre trial of its COVID-19 vaccine, sources said.

“”We are working on another nasal drop vaccine. My feeling is that it will reach the population by next year,”” Mr. Ella said.

BharatBiotechin September said it had entered into a licencing agreement for a novel “”chimpanzee adenovirus”” (Chimpanzee adenovirus), single dose intranasal vaccine for COVID-19, with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.”

Boost to nurture Indian studies at the University of Melbourne

Source: AII

“The development and support of Indian studies at the University of Melbourne has been given a generous funding boost.

The Australia India Institute will receive a gift of $400,000 over the next four years from Australia India Social and Charitable Ventures Limited, through Mr T. Janardhana Rao OAM and his family.

The financial support will go towards the development of Indian studies and engagement at the University. The funding will also help to provide scholarships to assist students from India, or of Indian heritage, who are facing financial hardship.

Director and CEO of the Australia India Institute and Professor of Geography at the University of Melbourne, Craig Jeffrey, thanked Mr Rao and his family noting that the funding provides an opportunity for the University to grow its expertise in the area of India-focussed research.

“This important gift will greatly enhance the efforts of the Institute and the University of Melbourne to develop the study of India and engage with the Indian diaspora. We are extremely grateful to Mr Rao and his family for their generosity and vision,” Professor Jeffrey said.

Speaking on behalf of his father Mr T Janardhana Rao OAM and the Australia India Social and Charitable Ventures Limited, businessman Harish Rao said the Indian community in Victoria has grown from less than 100 families in 1968 to over 300,000 people of Indian origin now.

Mr Rao emphasised that it is critical the wider Australian community is able to enhance their engagement with the Indian diaspora, and it is equally important for the Indian diaspora to further integrate into mainstream Australian society.

“India and Australia have a tremendous amount in common. We want to highlight the opportunities that exist in the Australia-India relationship, from education, business and commerce through to culture, the arts and sport. It is our hope that this gift and the work of the Australia India Institute will support this important goal,” Mr Rao said.

The Rao Foundation gift will help to facilitate a new program of research and teaching in Indian studies at the University of Melbourne, focusing on the economy, politics, and society of contemporary India as well as the Australia-India relationship.”

India’s economy is reviving, and festive season’s online sales show it

Source: IBEF

“India’s biggest holiday season, starting with Diwali, the festival of lights on Saturday, seems to provide a much-needed boost to demand, with online retail sales to business activity indicators signalling the recovery of Asia’s third-largest economy.

According to estimates from consultancy RedSeer for the period Oct. 15-21, retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart saw a 55% rise in online revenue from a year earlier to $4.1 billion in the run-up to the festival.

During October, data collected by Bloomberg showed a rise in new vehicle registrations, while a separate gauge showed an increase in credit card purchases well ahead of the holidays.

This follows the increase of tax receipts and activities in manufacturing and services, which are the key drivers of job growth. The gains represent a steady turnaround in demand, which accounts for some 60% of an economy that in the April-June quarter shrank a record 24% and is heading for its worst annual contraction.

Mr. Pranjul Bhandari, chief Indian economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in Mumbai, wrote on Thursday, “”The economy shows strong signs of change.”” “”Monthly sales tax receipts have reached Rs. 1 trillion (US$ 13.43 billion) mark, output indicators have rebounded, and there has been something of an acceleration even in struggling capital-intensive industries.””

Although the hinterland of India showed signs of moving the consumption recovery with demand increasing for everything from tractors to personal care goods, data from the Automotive Dealers Association Federation showed that total vehicle registrations across the nation climbed from a month ago in October. They are still below last year, and dealers have been building inventories in expectation of higher demand.

After a shutdown disrupted operations, companies have been recovering in the past few months. With a “”Z-score”” study, the manufacturing sector was particularly eye-catching, showing India’s purchasing managers’ index growing at a rapid pace compared to its average. On Thursday, finance minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman boosted sentiment by extending the overall stimulus to 15% of GDP, including initiatives aimed at attracting new investment.

The economic policy uncertainty index of Baker, Bloom and Davis for India has improved from peaks in May. The index is based on the frequent references in seven major Indian newspapers to political instability. The next economic pulse-check is expected on Nov. 27, when data on the gross domestic product for the quarter ended September is due.

According to the latest data from the central bank, credit card transactions in August increased 8% in the build up to the festival season as Indians pumped up to spend more. According to a survey by International Data Corp. stating the Indian smartphone market alone among the world’s top three, smartphones were among the strongest products, with a growing trend in sales in the third quarter.

Although, the middle and salaried classes have found their feet, the vast majority are still struggling. Many small and medium-sized companies, ranging from hawkers to factory work employees, have shut down and significant portions of the informal sector are without employment. Data from the Centre for Indian Economy Monitoring Pvt. showed an increase in the unemployment rate in October.

In the outcome of the pandemic-induced lockdown, millions were reduced to subsistence living, and the hazards remain. An increase in cases of viruses, subdued investment and a strained labour market may lead to a lower spiral in consumption.

“”A larger section of Indian households face stressed balance sheets, and the fiscal response of the government remains modest,”” said Ms. Tanvee Gupta Jain, an economist with UBS Securities India Pvt. in Mumbai, adding that after the festival season ends in mid-November, demand could taper off.”

Oil India makes gas discovery in Assam

Source: IBFE

“Oil India Ltd, the nation’s second-largest state oil producer, has made a natural gas discovery at a well drilled in Tinsukia, Assam. The company highlighted that the discovery would open up new areas for further oil and gas exploration in Assam and would help in enhancing the gas production with future appraisal and development activities.

Oil India Ltd (OIL) said well Dinjan-1 in Tinsukia petroleum mining lease (PML) in the upper Assam basin struck hydrocarbons.

The well encountered about 10 meters of hydrocarbon-bearing sands, it said. On testing, it produced gas at the rate of 115,000 standard cubic meters per day. OIL, whose majority of operations are concentrated in the north-east, did not indicate the reserves the discovery may hold.”

Moody’s revises India’s 2020 GDP forecast to -8.9% from -9.6%

Source: The Hindu

“Rating agency expects COVID-19 management to improve, allowing for normalisation of economic activity
Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has revised upward India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) forecast for calendar year 2020 to -8.9% contraction from -9.6% projected earlier.

Similarly, the GDP forecast for the country for 2021 is 8.6%, from 8.1% projected earlier, according to the agency’s global macro outlook report released on Thursday.

“India’s economy had the biggest contraction, 24% year-over-year in the second quarter, as a result of a long and strict nationwide lockdown. Restrictions have eased only slowly and in phases, and localised restrictions in containment zones remain. As a result, the recovery has been patchy,” the report titled ‘Nascent economic rebound takes hold globally but recovery will remain fragile’ observed.

If the steady decline in new and active COVID-19 cases since September is maintained, further easing of restrictions may help, Moody’s noted. “We therefore forecast a gradual improvement in economic activity over the coming quarters. However, slow credit intermediation will hamper the pace of recovery because of an already weakened financial sector,” it warned.

Moody’s Vice President-Senior Credit Officer Madhavi Bokil said the scope for additional rate cuts was limited in most emerging market economies (including Brazil, India and Indonesia), and they did not expect emerging market central banks to carry on with quantitative easing measures once the recovery strengthened.

Geopolitical and trade risks
The report stressed that geopolitical and trade risks would remain a key focus in the year ahead as the relationship between the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China, had deteriorated. “Moody’s does not believe that the Biden administration would differ materially from the current administration with regard to these issues,” it said.

“For other countries, the pandemic shock has also led to both economic and national security concerns about supply-chain vulnerabilities and economic dependencies. The emphasis of various governments on shoring up domestic productive capacities can also be viewed as an attempt to reduce their co-dependence on the global economy,” it stated.

Overall, G-20 economies were expected to collectively contract by 3.8% in 2020, followed by 4.9% growth in 2021 and 3.8% growth in 2022, Moody’s said, stressing that its baseline forecasts assumed that difficulty in controlling the virus would hinder the gradual process of recovery in the short term.

Moody’s expected pandemic management would continue to improve over time, thereby reducing the fear of the contagion and allowing a steady normalisation of social and economic activity. As a result, the virus was expected to become a less important macroeconomic concern throughout 2021 and 2022, it said.”

Australia-India Water Centre inaugurated virtually

Source: economictimes

“GUWAHATI: Guwahati: Australia-India Water Centre was inaugurated virtually through a Webinar, in view of the pandemic situation. The Water Centre is led by University of Western Sydney from Australia and IIT Guwahati from India along with 21 other partners from India and Australia.

Dan Tehan, Minister for Education – Government of Australia, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, minister for Jal Shakti – Government of India were present.

The water issues and challenges of India and Australia share many common elements, including natural extremes of floods and droughts, increasing competition for water between urban, peri-urban and rural sectors and increased threats to water security from climate change. There are also pressures due to the over-exploitation and water quality degradation of surface and groundwater resources.

The recent joint declaration at the virtual summit of the Prime Ministers of Australia and India, in June 2020 stated that “Water security is a critical challenge for both countries, and it was jointly decided to deepen policy and technical cooperation on mutually agreed activities to improve water management and sustainable economic development.” With this in view, a number of universities, research organisations and business partners from Australia and India have committed to establish the Australia India Water Center (AIWC).

The MoU signed during this occasion attempts to establish an understanding of cooperation for the Australia India Water Centre (AIWC) between the parties. The Australia India Water Centre will enable Australian and Indian partners to explore opportunities and create synergy for a longer-term collaboration in research and education between the two countries. In particular, the parties anticipate this will include collaboration in water research, a joint Master’s level programme in water futures, sector to government agencies and other participants.

The proposed activities within the MoU (signed for a duration of five years) are to develop longer-term collaboration in water research, capacity building and knowledge and technology transfer, particularly focusing on water and food security, safe drinking water supplies, river health, water-energy-food nexus, water for liveable cities and other related aspects of mutual benefits to Australia and India through:

Shekhawat said, “I am delighted to inaugurate the Australia India Water Center (AIWC) to promote water related research, teaching and training between the two countries in the presence of officials and experts from the water sector of India and Australia. My wishes for making this collaboration towards water sustainability successful!”

Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati, said, “Water is likely to play a key economic and strategic role in the future. This Centre will focus on collaboration in transdisciplinary research, capacity building and knowledge and technology transfer, particularly on aspects of water and food security, safe drinking water supplies, river health, water-energy-food nexus, water for liveable cities and other related facets of mutual benefits to Australia and India.”””

Good opportunity for India to export sugar; reconsidering extension of export subsidy: Govt

Source: IBEF

“According to Food Secretary Mr. Sudhanshu Pandey, the government is reassessing the extension of sugar export subsidies as India has a strong opportunity to sell the sweetener on the global market in the 2019-20 season that started this month between November and April.

To minimise surplus stocks and help cash-starved sugar mills direct sugar payments to farmers, India, the second largest sugar-producing country in the world, had to offer export subsidies over the last two years.

As per official data, sugar mills exported 5.7 million tonnes of sugar compared to the mandatory quota of 6 million tonnes set for the 2019-20 season (October-September).

Mr. Pandey said, “”The production in Thailand is set to decline this year, while the processing in Brazil will only begin in April 2021. India has strong export opportunities from now until April.

“”This is the opportunity that the industry has to consider taking, given that India is expected to have a bumper sugar production this year, we are doing our best,”” he added.

According to official sources, the Ministry of Food is working on a cabinet approval proposal to expand the current sugar export policy to approximately 6 million tonnes for the 2020-21 season.

Food Minister Mr. Piyush Goyal said on October 30, the government was not considering expanding the export subsidy scheme, but after several rounds of consultation with stakeholders and policy makers, sources said, a fresh thought was given to the proposal.

Industry experts say India needs to export more than 5 million tonnes of sugar this year to ensure that domestic prices do not drop below production costs and make it hard for mills to compensate cane farmers on time.

As domestic sugar production is pegged at 31 million tonnes, well above the annual demand of 26 million tonnes, the surplus stock situation is expected to continue this season.

Mr. Pandey said the government is supporting mills to manufacture ethanol rather than sugar to prevent sugar glut-kind of scenario as the former can be used under the National Biofuel Policy for blending with petrol.

Subsidized loans are being granted to millers for distillery capacity expansion to achieve ethanol production of over 360 crore litres and to meet the ethanol blending target of 10% by 2022 and 20% by 2030 for petrol, he added.”

Stable regulatory framework important for Indian renewable energy: Patrick Charignon, V-P APAC, EDF Renewables

Source: financialexpress

“The Indian government ambition is to triple its solar capacities within two years from 35 GW to 100 GW, and EDF, as a global key player in renewables, is very honoured to contribute to this ambitious target for climate change. This participation involves, to a large extent, solar development, of which the costs have drastically decreased in 10 years and benefit from the good irradiation conditions of the country. EDEN Renewables is now an established solar power producer in India, clearly accelerating last year with the signature of long-term PPAs for four solar power projects totalling 716 MW in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which are currently under construction. This trend is now being confirmed with the additional recent successful participation in SECI’s and NHPC’s 2020-solar tenders. EDEN Renewables has won three projects of 300 MW each, to be built by 2022.

A number of players quoting low rates in the past have recently appealed to the government to terminate their contracts. What gives Eden Renewables the confidence that such low rates will remain viable in the near future?
The shareholders of Eden Renewables are two global leaders in the power industry that are committed over the long term and highly experienced, to develop their renewable power generation assets base all over the world. Hence, they have the financial resources and the know-how to deliver within the timeframe the projects that have been contracted in India, subject to unforeseen events or cases of force majeure. The ability to achieve competitive prices for electricity is driven mainly by each project solar resource, the cost to build a solar farm and the cost of capital in the country. It is also worth noting that the growing scale of the projects helps further improving the cost of production. EDF is confident that the solar rates can decrease even further if the technology keeps on progressing and price of the equipment continues to decrease.

Compared to the other parts of the world, how does India fare as an investment destination for renewable energy players? Are the policy signals from the government encouraging?
Regarding renewable power generation, India has developed over the years a policy framework that is comprehensive and procures to the developers, including the foreign ones, a satisfactory level of safety for their investments. The MNRE guidelines regarding the wind and solar PPAs and the efficient role of the regulator ensure the bankability of the projects and India’s legal system efficiency fosters the investors’ trust that they will be maintained in their rights if needed.

This is already a significant achievement, however, some points of attention remain, like the land policies which is source of concerns in some states, or the stability of the regulatory framework as mentioned previously. In order to keep improving the competitiveness of renewable energy in the Indian market it remains important to maintain access for the projects to a competitive cost of capital backed by the overall Indian economy performance with strong rupee, controlled inflation, competitive interest rates and financing terms, and also very importantly a stable and as foreseeable as possible regulatory framework.

Apart from development of standalone renewable energy plants, does EDF also have plans to foray in areas such as storage systems in India?
Storage technologies are progressing fast and we trust that their price will decrease significantly over the coming years. The EDF Group is on the forefront of the use of the storage for electrical systems globally, being a world leader of hydro-electricity generation and storage in the dams and having several utility-scale battery storage systems in construction and operation internationally. We are obviously looking forward to deploying these technologies in India as well.”

India and Australia have a trade relationship that can grow

Source: Into India

“A great source of information about Asia is ASIALINK here in Australia – and for those interested in India their INDIA STARTER PACK is valuable.

Australia’s economic relationship with India has expanded significantly in recent years – particularly exports of minerals and energy, as well as our provision of education services to tens of thousands of Indian students.

We now have the basis to do more. It will take some marketing creativity and a realisation that brand “Australia” goes down well in India.

Two-way goods and services trade between Australia and India totalled AUD 27.4 billion in 2017. Major Australian exports to India included coal (AUD 9.2 billion), education-related travel (AUD 3.4 billion) and vegetables (AUD 1.38 billion). Our main imports from India were refined petroleum (AUD 1.6 billion), medicines (AUD 335 million), pearls and gems (AUD 274 million) railway vehicles (AUD 199 million).

The total value of Australian goods exports to India for 2017 was AUD 15.7 billion, making it our fifth-largest goods export market. We exported an additional AUD 4.4 billion in services to India, a figure primarily made up of education-related travel services and other personal travel.”

India, Australia And Japan Likely To Set Up Trilateral Framework To Boost Trade And Investment, Address Barriers

Source: swarajyamag

“In a big boost to the trilateral engagement between India, Australia and Japan, the three nations are set to institute a framework to address trade and investment barriers along with trade and investment promotion, reports Economic Times.

The three nations are looking to undertake the initiative as a part of the Supply Chain resilience Initiative (SCRI) under which they are looking to set up industrial parks, a mechanism to address resolution of trade and investment barriers, a streamlined risk management system, improved sea and air connectivity among them, digitisation of trade documents and exchange of regulatory information to improve transparency.

In line with the above plan, the three nations are also on course to finalise a track 1.5 dialogue which would involve the industries and academia apart from the governments to bolster the trilateral ties.

Also, it should be noted that the three nations have already identified at least 10 product and service categories to focus on. These include bulk drugs, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, auto and auto components, petroleum and petrochemicals, steel and tourism, information technology and financial services.

First proposed by Japan with the intent of reducing the dependence on China, the SCRI seeks to build upon existing frameworks like the ASEAN-Japan Economic Resilience Action Plan and India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership.”

India will give you ease of doing business, you work for providing ‘ease of living’ to people: Modi to IIT students

Source: financialexpress

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the country will ensure ‘ease of doing business’ for its youth while they should work for providing ‘ease of living’ to people, particularly the poorest of the poor, through innovations.
Addressing the 51st annual convocation of IIT Delhi via video conferencing, he said the post-COVID-19 world is going to be very different and technology will play the biggest role in it.

COVID-19 has taught the world that globalisation is important but self-reliance is equally important, the prime minister said.
“India is fully committed to give its youth ease of doing business so that the youth through their innovation can bring about a change in the lives of crores of people of the country,” Modi said, addressing the graduating students of IIT Delhi.

“The country will give you ease of doing business but you do one thing, through your expertise, experience, talent and innovation…ensure ease of living for the poorest of the poor citizens,” he said.

Modi also urged the graduating students to focus on quality, never compromise, and make their innovations work at a mass scale.

“Your work will give global recognition to our products. Your efforts will lead to swifter recognition of Indian products,” Modi said, referring to students as “brand ambassadors” of “brand India”.

The nation has seen how technology can provide good governance and reach the poor and the needy in the last few years, he said. Technology has made last mile delivery of services efficient and reduced the scope of corruption, the prime minister said.

“You may be disappointed why COVID-19 pandemic happened during our term, but think differently. You have the first advantage to adapt to new norms emerging in the workplace and world. I have realised in every corner of India, some innovation is taking place and it directly correlates with the ideology of Atmanirbhar Bharat,� the prime minister told the students.

A total of 2,019 graduating students were awarded degrees on Saturday.

The institute awarded President’s Gold Medal, Director’s Gold Medal, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma (former President of India) Gold Medal, Perfect Ten Gold Medals and Institute Silver Medals to the graduating students at the convocation.

At the convocation, esteemed alumni were also felicitated with Alumni Awards 2020. Five IIT Delhi alumni received the ‘Distinguished Alumni Award’ and one alumnus received the ‘Distinguished Alumni Service Award’.

Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma Gold Medal is awarded to a graduating PG student who is adjudged the best among all M.Tech graduating students for general proficiency, including character and conduct, excellence in academic performance, extra-curricular activities and social service.

Perfect 10 Gold Medal is awarded to a graduating PG student who secures CGPA of 10 out of 10. The Institute Silver Medal is awarded to a graduating UG student securing highest CGPA in respective programme.

Addressing the graduating students, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said, “Convocation does not mean that education is over. In fact it acts as a strong foundation to your entry into the field of employment.”

“In a competitive environment, the challenges can be deliberated with knowledge and experiences found in institutions to achieve new heights of success…. The new National Education Policy (NEP) has not only been the centre of the biggest deliberations in the world but it has also emerged as the biggest reform in the world,” he said”

India, Japan and Australia to boost trade, investment

Source: economictimes.indiatimes

New Delhi: India, Japan and Australia are likely to set up a trilateral framework to address trade and investment barriers along with trade and investment promotion. As part of the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI), they are also finalising Track 1.5 dialogue wherein industry and academia would be involved apart from government to strengthen trilateral ties.

Australia India Business Council Women in Business Victoria spotlights COVID-19 bilateral opportunities and challenges during high profile webinar

Source: AIBC

“The Victoria Women in Business Chapter (WIB) Chapter of Australia India Business Council (AIBC), the peak body for promoting and enhancing bilateral business and trade between the two countries, recently hosted a webinar on ‘Australia-India Relationship – Women in Business Opportunities & Challenges during COVID-19’. The webinar, hosted with the support of Event Partner Deloitte, was live streamed on social media and attracted hundreds of attendees from both countries to hear from high-profile event speakers including Governor of Victoria, Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC who, in her opening address, reiterated the Victorian Government’s support for Women in Business, highlighted bilateral Victoria-India opportunities during COVID-19 and launched the AIBC WIB Victoria Chapter, which had been dormant for a few years.

Panel members shared their resilience strategies and how they continue to contribute to the Australia India bilateral initiatives in their respective business world and areas of work.

Ms Sheba Nandkeolyar, National Chair of AIBC WIB; AIBC Immediate Past National Chair; CEO of MultiConnexions Group, and moderator of the event said: “Australia India Business Council Women in Business Chapter was launched with a 50-50 vision of empowering women to either lead or own a bilateral business. Australia’s India Economic Strategy to 2035 report highlighted several sectors of opportunity where, I believe, women can set up businesses and lead the bilateral relationship to greater heights. I am pleased to see AIBC WIB VIC spotlighting the tremendous opportunities available to women post-COVID, and am grateful to Her Excellency Governor General of Victoria Hon. Linda Dessau AC for lending her input and support to launch the AIBC WIB VIC Chapter, along with our other esteemed speakers.”

Ms Reet Phulwani, who was recently appointed as the, delivered a Vote of Thanks to the Governor of Victoria and stated: “As the first Female Governor in the state of Victoria Women in Business Chair Victoria Chapter and Director of Medsurge Pharmaceuticals and a role model for women’s political representation, resilience and achievement we are deeply honoured that you are here to help launch the Australia India Business council Women in Business Victoria Chapter “. Reet also shared the vision statement for WIB Victoria Chapter – “We support, promote, empower, and recognize the businesswomen and strive to provide opportunities for women to connect with and support each other. We deliver programs that contribute to the personal and professional development of our members, meeting their needs at the right time in the right way. The chapter will provide opportunities to make professional connections that are needed to take the India-Australia Bi-Lateral business to the next level “

Sheba Nandkeolyar, introduced the panel discussion by stating “COVID has had a profound impact on our lives and our business plans. It has also thrown up business opportunities simultaneously. The challenges faced by women are innumerable, because of the multiplicity of roles whether be it as a homemaker, as a child carer, as the business leader or as a professional in your company.”

The Hon. Jaala Pulford, Minister for Employment; Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and Digital Economy; and Minister for Small Business stated , opened the panel discussion and stated “We have so much to learn from one another and so much to be gained in the best possible working relationship between our business community here in Australia and our business community throughout India.”

Ms Jahnabi Phookan – National President of FLO, Women’s Wing of FICCI; Director, JTI Group stated “We at FLO have started working on the three-pronged initiative which we call the FLO 3C’s: Competency, Capacity and Confidence building with women at the three levels to Skill, Upskill and Re-skill. My mission this year was to work towards sustainable practices and sustainable livelihood for women’s economic upliftment.”

Ms Kaushaliya Vaghela MP – Member of Legislative Council for Western Metropolitan Region and the first Indian-born member of Victorian Parliament also attended and stated, “I’m really looking forward to a stronger relationship between Victoria and India. I hope that AIBC is able to harness the potential of the entrepreneurial women and the work they do”

Ms Michelle Wade – Australian Commissioner to South Asia stated, “Congratulations to the AIBC for the Women in Business Chapter….The industries we are seeing grow are Health and Wellness, Ed Tech and Online Gaming, and we’ve got some exciting companies both small and large looking at investing in Victoria.”

Ms Reet Phulwani – Chair, Australia India Business Council Women in Business Victoria Chapter; Director of Medsurge Pharmaceuticals, presented Medsurge bi-lateral trade story and stated “I believe the greatest opportunities often arise at the toughest times. Since the start of Covid 19 there were unprecedented pressures on the pharmaceutical industry with supply shortages of key medicines, placing the health of vulnerable people at increased risk. As part of that solution Medsurge has decided to establish a Manufacturing and Research and Development facility in Australia, very soon. The proposed facility will stimulate jobs, investment and innovation and meet the health needs of patients that require specific and time critical medications. It will also link our Australian and Indian research institutions together to collaboratively work on leading edge scientific research and support the continued growth and development of both economies. Our project will reflect cooperation on science technology research between the two nations and this will increase the bilateral trade between Victoria and India. I firmly believe that we women we can take on anything and we are masters in creating opportunities in these challenging times.”

Ms Meghan Speers – Partner Financial Services, Deloitte stated, “It is important that Australia is ready for recovery and it is important that organizations are ready too. It was about surviving COVID-19, but now it is how do we as a business community thrive, and how do we now as an Australian community really start to rebuild.”

Dr Ritu Anand – Chief Leadership & Diversity Officer, Tata Consultancy Services stated, “STEM is the way forward. Girls, any field in STEM is the way forward. Parents, this is the time for us to invest because digital grows from STEM.”

Ms Sadhana Smiles – Chief Executive Officer, Real Estate Industry Partners (REIP); and Director, Harcourts Move, spoke about “Like many other industries we as leaders were challenged. Leadership styles had to change we had to learn to connect differently with our teams. As a result there has been a new currency of leadership emerge and mostly that is around kindness empathy and leading from the heart as leaders.”

Ms Mira D’Silva – Co-Founder, Delivery Centric spoke about “We changed our business model from having an ‘analysis and execution’ approach into having a discovery and driven approach by continuous and controlled experimentation and learning.”

Ms Ravneet Pawha – AIBC Victoria President, Deputy Vice President – Global CEO – South Asia, Deakin University delivered a Vote of Thanks and concluded the webinar by stating “Women have a sense of balance… a sense of compassion and .. a sense of resilience and we all here represent that extremely well in our work lives, in our personal lives and in our social lives.”

The Victorian Management Committee was instrumental in the successful delivery of the webinar which launched the Women in Business Chapter in Victoria.”

Adani’s Australia coal mining unit back in the spotlight after name change

Source: economictimes.indiatimes


MELBOURNE: India’s Adani Enterprises, which has attracted criticism in parts of Australia for developing a new thermal coal mine, has drawn attention again by changing the name of its Australian unit to Bravus Mining and Resources.

The rebrand comes as the miner readies to ship out its first coal next year in the face of years of vocal opposition from climate change activists, whose catch cry “”Stop Adani”” became a marketing slogan emblazoned on T-shirts and earrings.

That opposition ultimately helped swing Australia’s national election last year towards a conservative coalition victory, as workers in coal producing regions voted to support new jobs.

“”We will continue to stand up and deliver for the good of our community, no matter how courageous it requires us to be, and Bravus, our new name, reflects this intent,”” Chief Executive David Boshoff said in a statement.

Bravus is building its 10 million tonne per year mine and rail line in the northern state of Queensland even as climate change activists continue to target its bankers, insurers and suppliers.

It has employed more than 1,500 people and issued more than A$1.5 billion ($1.08 billion) worth of tenders, it said.

But some are now disputing Adani’s take on its new name, with both Greenpeace and a scholar from the Australian National University saying the Latin for ‘brave’ is not bravus.

“”‘Bravus’ is …based on the Latin ‘barbarus’, meaning barbarian,”” Greenpeace said in a statement. “”The word itself had much of a connotation of a violent enemy of civilisation.””

Chris Bishop, a classical studies lecturer at ANU in Canberra said in the English language “”the word ‘Bravo’ (derived from the older bravus) can mean ‘a mercenary, an assassin, or a desperado.””

Chris Bishop, a classical studies lecturer at ANU in Canberra said in the English language “”the word ‘Bravo’ (derived from the older bravus) can mean ‘a mercenary, an assassin, or a desperado.””

Adani stuck to its definition when contacted by Reuters.

“”The new name Bravus is derived from the words ‘brave’ or ‘bold’. It includes the ‘us’ suffix, highlighting the inclusive nature of us the company,”” a company spokeswoman said.

Other coal groups have also rebranded this year. Australian coal lobby group Coal21 became Low Emission Technology Australia (LETA) in August, while Arch Coal turned into Arch Resources in May.”

Narendra Modi Highlights: ‘If you want returns with reliability, India is the place to be’, PM Modi tells investors

Source: financialexpress

PM Modi Highlights: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that if the investors want returns with reliability, India is the place to be. Speaking at the Virtual Global Investor Roundtable, Narendra Modi added that the investors get demand with democracy, stability with sustainability, and growth with a green approach in India. PM Modi further said that India’s quest for Atmanirbhar Bharat is not just a vision but a well-planned economic strategy. A strategy that aims to use India’s strength in technology to become the global centre for innovations, and contribute to global development using the country’s immense human resources and their talents. He added that it is a strategy that aims to use the capabilities of Indian businesses, and the skills of the workers to make India into a global manufacturing powerhouse. The Prime Minister also highlighted that the recent reforms in agriculture have opened up new exciting possibilities to partner with the farmers of India.

Australia shows what happens when you get the Chinese offside

Source: Into India

“There is a covert diplomatic trade war between Australia and China, and it is showing the world how China responds when it takes offence or simply does not like your diplomatic stance.

First, responses from China are random and arbitrary – making it hard to respond.

Second, communication about trade bans is always informal and difficult to clarify.

Third, unexplained checks on products slow trade down or lead to damaged goods.

Examples of this use of checks to pursue trade reprisals include looking for weeds in barley, questionable metallic levels in lobsters, or bugs in timber. An aligned strategy includes the Chinese allegations of Australian producers dumping wine, tariff threats on cotton and talk of curbs on Australian copper and coal.

Iron ore – Australia’s major export – is so far not involved.

For Australia, exports to China dominate the economy. Consider these figures of “the top 5” where Australia exports:

China A$150 billion

Japan $52 billion

South Korea $25 Billion

USA $17 billion

UK $15 billion

The world is watching this trade dispute – and learning how China goes about it.”

‘Australia can support India’s initiatives in industry, defence, EV, energy’

Source: thehindubusinessline

“Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell took charge a month before the Covid-19 pandemic struck in India, yet his time here has seen a steady uptick in the momentum of bilateral cooperation including a Prime Ministerial summit in June and, more recently, Australia’s inclusion in the Malabar naval exercises.

He spoke to Narayan Lakshman about the range of cooperative initiatives on the anvil. Excerpts:

Regarding the announcement of Australia joining the Malabar naval exercises, could you explain how this takes forward the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) that Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison agreed in June 2020, in terms of maritime security and broader stability across the region?

It will demonstrate the ability of our navy to work through exercises, warfare serials and the like with the navies of India, Australia, the US and Japan. That is important because, were there to be a regional crisis, like a natural or humanitarian disaster, the ability to work smoothly with partners is critical.

It builds particularly on the maritime agreement that was one of the agreements underneath the CSP, but also to the mutual logistic support arrangement, which is designed to improve the collaboration between our armed forces.

What do you see as the biggest challenges in moving forward quickly on cyber and cyber enabled critical technologies?

Certainly, the Covid-19 pandemic has damaged economies. It has accelerated geostrategic competition, and it has obviously disrupted our way of life. It has highlighted the importance, to countries like India and Australia, of ensuring a safe, secure, and prosperous future for our citizens.

That’s why, as part of the CSP, there were agreements in relation to critical technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G because we recognise the opportunities they present to people, to businesses, to the broader economy, and the fact that they should be guarded by international standards to ensure they do not present risks, to security or prosperity. The Australia-India framework Arrangements on Cyber and Cyber Enabled Critical Technology cooperation will enhance bilateral cooperation. It provides a programme of ₹66 crore over four years for an Australia-India cyber and critical technology partnership to support research by institutions in both Australia and between institutions in Australia and India.

Could you talk a little bit more about special minerals and rare earth products? What exactly are specifics on where Australia can help move things forward?

If you want to build batteries or electric vehicles, lithium, amongst other items, is required. We know that, that your northern neighbour is your most significant supplier of these critical minerals. We know that India is seeking to become more self-reliant. We know that imports from China are reducing. Australia potentially sees an opportunity for us to provide elements into India’s efforts to improve its manufacturing, defence and electric vehicle and energy mission projects.

Given the investments made by India under its national quantum mission, and the aspiration here to build more infrastructure and experimental facilities, how could Australia help India move forward?

Australia is already contributing to India’s national quantum mission by facilitating partnerships with universities, research institutions and businesses. That includes one of the best relationships we have with India, which is the Australian India Strategic Research Fund, which has been going for over 20 years. Since 2013, one of our Australians of the Year, Professor Michelle Simmons, has led a team of researchers at New South Wales University’s (UNSW) Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, seeking to build the first quantum computer in silicon.

Looking at space technologies, India has made critical advances over several decades now, what synergies and opportunities exist between India’s long-standing programme and Australia’s relatively new space ambitions.

Australia and India have been cooperating together as countries since 1987, when we inked our first MOU, and there is a strong engagement between ISRO and Australian agencies. We have undertaken data collaboration on Indian remote satellites. Since 2013, we have been doing laser ranging for Indian regional navigational satellite systems. We are exploring how we can place temporary ground station tracking facilities in Australia to support that Gaganyaan Mission.

Are Australian universities following the online model? How do you see them recovering? When will things open up and what options will Indian students have?

We recognise that it is face-to-face learning, like face-to-face working is still what most people want. A number of Australian States are starting pilot programmes to demonstrate that students can be picked up and returned to Australia into campuses safely given the Covid spread. My Education Minister, Dan Tehan, made the point two weeks ago that the Australian Government is keen for that to happen as soon as possible. The latest part to be announced was one from South Australia that will fly students out of Singapore into Australia. There was an early one announced by the Northern Territory.

On the back of those, there is a hope that we will be able to return students to Australia for Day One, Term One, next year. But it will depend on those State trials. If the trials are successful, I remain confident about next year.”

Australia and India, converging perceptions, aligning interests

Source: indiancgroup

“The Australia-India relationship is perhaps the fastest growing relationship in the Indo-Pacific today, and one that has far-reaching significance for the regional security architecture. The pandemic has provided an opportunity for both New Delhi and Canberra to build on the momentum of the past few years and imagine a solid bilateral relationship in its own right, rather than within the context of the great power competition between the US and China. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed between prime ministers Modi and Morrison this year is reflective of this development.

Covid-19 has helped both nations to overcome the residual negative baggage of the past and move beyond the memories of Australia’s criticism of India’s nuclear tests in 1998 and more importantly, Canberra’s withdrawal from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in 2008. Australia, for its part, has come to see India as an economic and political counterweight to China

The Australia-India relationship is perhaps the fastest growing relationship in the Indo-Pacific today, and one that has far-reaching significance for the regional security architecture. The pandemic has provided an opportunity for both New Delhi and Canberra to build on the momentum of the past few years and imagine a solid bilateral relationship in its own right, rather than within the context of the great power competition between the US and China. The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed between prime ministers Modi and Morrison this year is reflective of this development.

Covid-19 has helped both nations to overcome the residual negative baggage of the past and move beyond the memories of Australia’s criticism of India’s nuclear tests in 1998 and more importantly, Canberra’s withdrawal from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in 2008. Australia, for its part, has come to see India as an economic and political counterweight to China.”

India stepping forward in regional security

Source: Into India

“Thirteen years can be a long time in regional security and diplomacy.

It is thirteen years since the Quadrilateral security dialogue (or the Quad) between the officials of Australia, India, Japan and the US, gave in to Chinese coercion.

This year it is back and potentially stronger.

India has decided to stand strong, as it becomes a significant regional power. It is again leading the Quad in the Malabar series of naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal – the exercises aim to support an “open and prosperous Indo-Pacific”.

In 2007 countries like India and Australia gave in to Chinese pressure and pulled out of the exercises – China then described the Quad as an “Asian NATO” designed solely to contain China.

The Malabar series of naval exercises is a complex annual fixture with ships, aircraft and submarines of the Indian, US, Australia and Japanese navies exercising alternately in the Indian and the Western Pacific Oceans.

India is different from the other Quad members in that it shares a land border with China – so in that way, it has most at risk in stirring up the Chinese. To put it in perspective, this border is the world’s longest unsettled boundary. Recent military escalation along the border has caused global concern.

All four members of the Quad know that China might “punish” them in response to the Malabar exercises, but they are going ahead anyway.

One narrative is driving most of the strategic decisions and activities in the Indian Ocean region – and that is the need to respond to China. China is seen as the only major power acting to the detriment of the order and stability of the region.

Most feel that attempts to appease China have only led to increased belligerence and a disrespect for diplomatic avenues. Hence, the Quad. And hence, India is stepping forward.”

E-commerce in India: Rapid growth means opportunities for Australian business

Source: Austrade

“India’s e-commerce sector is growing rapidly. Access to affordable mobile data means Indian consumers are technically literate and have embraced online shopping. The market is expected to be worth A$175 billion in 2020, led by Flipkart (an Indian ‘unicorn’), Amazon India and bigbasket.com.

The development of e-commerce in India is helping service a growing appetite for international brands and high-quality imports. Traditional retail space is cost-intensive and hard to secure, especially in smaller cities. As a result, e-commerce is evolving rapidly, connecting more consumers with a wider range of products, including those from Australia.”

INDIAN INVESTMENT ABROAD – OVERSEAS DIRECT INVESTMENT BY INDIAN COMPANIES

Source: IBEF

“Introduction

Outbound investment from India have undergone a considerable change, not only in terms of magnitude but also in terms of geographical spread and sectorial composition. Analysis of the trends in direct investment over the last decade reveals that while investment flows, both inward and outward, were rather muted during the early part of the decade, they gained momentum during the latter half.

There has been a perceptible shift in Overseas Investment Destination (OID) in last decade or so. While in the first half, overseas investments were directed to resource-rich countries such as Australia, UAE, and Sudan, in the latter half, OID was channeled into countries providing higher tax benefits such as Mauritius, Singapore, British Virgin Islands, and the Netherlands.

Indian firms invest in foreign shores primarily through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). With rising M&A activity, companies will get direct access to newer and more extensive markets and better technologies, which would enable them to increase their customer base and achieve a global reach.

Market size

According to the data provided by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s outward Foreign Direct Investment (OFDI) in equity, loan, and guaranteed issue stood at ~US$ 806.6 million in August 2020 against US$ 2.6 billion in July 2020.

2019-20 witnessed an expansion in overseas investments by Indian entities in the form of equity and loans to subsidiaries/affiliated enterprises. Countries such as Singapore, the US, the UK, Mauritius, Switzerland, and the Netherlands accounted for 75% of the total overseas investments in 2019-20. Most of these investments were made in sectors such as business services, manufacturing, and restaurants & hotels.

Investments/Developments

Some of the major overseas investments by Indian companies were:

India Inc.’s outward FDI declined to at US$ 5.72 billion in the first four months of FY21.
In 2019-20, India invested in 120 projects and created 5,429 new jobs in the UK to become the second-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI).
In 2020, Zerodha announced to introduce an option to invest in US stocks on its platform.
In August 2020, Axis Securities launched a new platform to invest in US stocks to meet the increasing interest of the Indian retail investors in the US stock markets.
In February 2020, Bharti Airtel invested US$ 978.92 million in its wholly-owned subsidiary in Mauritius.
In January 2020, Callies Infrastructure invested US$ 81.12 million in its wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK.
In December 2019, Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s (IOCL’s) INDMAX refining technology was licensed to Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) of Serbia for the production of higher-value products.
In December 2019, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) and Aramco Asia for developing the MSME Ecosystem in India in the Oil and Gas sector.
In December 2019, Panacea Biotec bagged orders worth nearly Rs 1.7 billion (US$ 24.32 million) from UN agencies, including UNICEF, for the supply of the Pentavalent vaccine.
In December 2019, supply chain focused fintech firm, LivFin, raised US$ 5 million of equity capital from German development finance institution DEG.
In November 2019, PVR Cinemas, a leading multiplex chain, launched its first property in Sri Lanka, marking its first international venture.
In September 2019, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) importer Petronet entered into an agreement with US LNG developer Tellurian Inc. and invested US$ 2.5 billion.
In September 2019, Reliance Power announced a joint venture (JV) with Japanese energy major JERA to jointly set up a 750-Megawatt (MW) gas-based combined cycle power project (phase-1) at Meghnaghat in Bangladesh.
In September 2019, Oyo acquired Copenhagen-based data science firm Dynamic. This marked the fast-growing lodging start-up to expand its business in Europe.
Government Initiatives

To boost domestic investments and reduce outflows, in August 2020, Mr. Piyush Goyal, Commerce and Industry Minister, asked auto manufacturers to find solutions to reduce royalty payments to foreign parent companies for use of technology or brand names
The government of India’s Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) have invested over US$ 15 billion in Russia’s oil and gas projects and are planning to undertake more investments in the country’s oil and gas fields.
The RBI, encouraged by adequate forex reserves, has relaxed the norms for domestic companies investing abroad by doing away with the ceiling for raising funds through pledges of shares, domestic and overseas assets. In addition to JVs and wholly-owned subsidiaries, the central bank has announced similar concessions for pledging of shares in case of a step-down subsidiary.
The RBI also liberalized/rationalized guidelines for foreign investment by Indian companies. It raised the annual overseas investment ceiling to US$ 125,000 from US$ 75,000 to establish JV and wholly-owned subsidiaries. The Government’s supportive policy regime complemented by India Inc.’s experimental outlook could lead to an upward trend in OFDI in the future.
The Union Cabinet has permitted ONGC Videsh to acquire an 11% stake in Russian oil company JSC Vankorneft from Rosneft Oil Co. for US$ 930 million.
Road ahead

Overseas investment is one of the foremost steps to enter the global marketplace and in recent times, India has taken necessary steps to make its presence felt in the global arena. The investment outlook in some of the overseas market looks positive. For instance, the Indian industry is projected to increase its revenue from Africa. IT services, infrastructure, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods are vital to India boosting Africa revenue to US$ 160 billion by 2025 as per McKinsey & Co.

In another development, the Ministry of External Affairs has initiated a move to set up a direct sea and air link between India and the Latin American region as Indian corporates plan significant investments in the mining, oil, IT, and pharmaceutical sectors in that region.

Overseas investment by Indian companies is expected to increase, backed by stable market conditions and considerable impact of the investment on local economies.”

India’s new space policy set to open up new business opportunities for foreign companies

Source: geospatialworld

“India’s new space policy is all set to open up the sector not only to private Indian entities but also to foreign companies to set up facilities in the country.

Department of space (DoS) secretary, K Sivan said to The Times of India that international organizations will be allowed to set up facilities to make satellites and launch vehicles in India. They can set up ground stations and use India’s spaceports. These measures will open up new avenues for Foreign Direct Investment.

According to Sivan, many companies are already showing interest in the sector. For instance, UK-based OneWeb and Norway-headquartered KSAT, a global telecommunications service provider. Both the companies want to set up ground stations in India.”

National policies on e-commerce, retail trade, logistics, industry in final stage of drafting: Som Parkash

Source: Economictimes

“NEW DELHI: Minister of state for commerce and industry Som Parkash on Wednesday said that the government is in the final stages of drafting a National Logistics Policy, New Industrial Policy, e-commerce Policy and National Retail Trade policy. The retail trade policy will benefit 65 million small traders, he said at an event organised by Ficci.

“It is being formulated to support the development of the sector that will benefit 65 million small traders. These endeavours along with the support of the industry would help in contributing a significant chunk to India’s GDP,” he added.

The government has set up a National Traders’ Welfare Board aimed at welfare of traders and their employees, simplification of the Acts and rules applicable to traders, reduction of compliance burden and improvement in access to funds for traders.

Parkash said that the government will extend all support to the e-commerce and retail industry through various policies.

The draft e-commerce policy had proposed that companies that store or mirror Indian users’ data overseas will be subject to periodic audit and a regulator for the sector and an ecommerce law that restricts information these firms can store, use, transfer, process and analyse. It also empowers the government to review, investigate and take action against any ecommerce activity that threatens the country’s security.

The draft logistics policy seeks to reduce logistics costs in the country to 10% of the GDP from around 13-14% now.

As for the new industrial policy, the government aims to create jobs for the next two decades and attract $100 billion foreign direct investment annually through it. This will be the third industrial policy, after the first in 1956 and next in 1991.”

Australia and India: Capturing the opportunities in life sciences

Source: Orfonline

“If the COVID crisis has exposed the fragility of our global supply chains, it has also exposed us to the need to develop effective models of interdependence. The current pandemic has uncovered the limitations to the pharma sector’s business model and has forced companies to address the urgency needed to develop a new model of drug discovery and development, needed for pandemics and neglected diseases. Investments in pandemic preparedness and neglected diseases like tuberculosis, malaria has never been a priority for pharmaceutical drug development, even though annual mortality in these neglected diseases are in the millions. COVID has taught us that there is an urgent need for convergence in the life sciences sector (where R&D, startups, biotech, pharma, digital platforms) all need to come under one umbrella for efficient delivery and effective responsiveness. We need investments in innovations and discover new ways of engaging. An integrated way of working together which involves sharing of skills, resources, infrastructure, and exclusive knowledge.

Can a post-COVID Australia-India partnership be driven by innovation and research that is integrated and opens pathways to build health and wellbeing?

A lesson that all of us have learnt in this crisis, is that drug discovery, clinical trials, launching critical therapies all takes time and is a long-drawn-out process. Fighting a pandemic asks for quicker processes. Hence, it is imperative to identify partnerships with countries that can be effective collaborators in this journey with their respective strengths. Can a post-COVID Australia-India partnership be driven by innovation and research that is integrated and opens pathways to build health and wellbeing?

Identifying synergies in life sciences
India today, is widely called the ‘pharmacy of the world’ with its strong domestic presence and strong global exports. It was also a trusted supplier of critical pharmaceuticals (eg. export of Hydroxychloroquine) to over 120 nations in the recent COVID crisis. India’s pharmaceutical strength can be understood from the huge presence of over 3,000 pharma companies, with over 10,000 manufacturing facilities. India is the source of 60,000 generic brands across 60 therapeutic categories. With its low cost of manufacturing (33% lower than that of the US), India caters to the need of over 50% of the global demand for vaccines. 40% of generic drugs in the US and over 25% of all the medicines in the UK are exported from India. India ranks 3rd worldwide for production by volume and 13th by value. Out of the top 20 global generic companies, eight are from India. The Indian government has also announced a US$ 394 million scheme to promote the development of three industrial parks focused on the manufacturing of APIs and bulk drugs.

India was a trusted supplier of critical pharmaceuticals (eg. export of Hydroxychloroquine) to over 120 nations in the recent COVID crisis.

On the other side, ‘Australia is a leader in R&D in biotech. The 2016 Scientific American Scorecard placed Australia at #5 globally in an assessment of innovation potential in biotech. Australia is also in the top 10 most competitive locations for R&D development.’ The Australian biotech sector has attracted great interest from pharmaceutical companies around the world wanting to invest. Beyond Bio-pharma which constitutes 69% of the Australian biotech sector, Australia also has a strong biotech potential and making its presence felt globally in marine biotechnology, dairy biotechnology, environmental, sustainable water use, agricultural and industrial biotechnology.

The life sciences sector is a sector of strategic priority for Australia. Its competitive and path-breaking research in segments like oncology, ophthalmology, infectious diseases, vaccines, respiratory, neurology, and regenerative medicine offers tremendous opportunities for India to build meaningful collaborations. For Australia, challenges lie in commercialization, cost-effective market access, and its heavily import-dependent medical supply chain. Australia imports over 90% of medicines and is at the end of a very long global supply chain, making the nation vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. Can there be opportunities for building strategic alliances between Australia and India?

Australia also has a strong biotech potential and making its presence felt globally in marine biotechnology, dairy biotechnology, environmental, sustainable water use, agricultural and industrial biotechnology.

• Australia and India can work together on the launch of new chemical entities, complex generics, drug discovery, translational research, community health delivery, and incremental innovation of R&D products.

• India offers cost-effective opportunity for commercialization and scaling up of technology, supplemented by its large and diverse demographic profile, which could offer cheaper and time-efficient drug recruitment and clinical trials.

• Both countries can work together on drug repurposing (drug repositioning), a strategy that enables reuse of existing licensed drugs for new medical symptoms, and can effectively reduce drug development time, the pre-clinical trial phase time, and substantially reduce costs.

• Both countries can together identify new vaccine candidates in infectious diseases (like Tuberculosis), focus on non-communicable and lifestyle diseases, critical therapies, and animal therapeutic products.

• The IP based Australian economy can amplify and accelerate India’s growing bioresearch services, which is the second-largest growing sector after Biopharma. India’s bio-economy is constantly going up (US$ 63 billion), with a target of becoming US$ 100 billion by 2025.

• India offers low cost to innovation and the risk of failure is low, as it offers cost arbitrage to value arbitrage. Australian companies can do more innovation in India, supported by its strong IP framework — India’s market offers opportunities in co-creating and global scale production. Large Australian companies like CSL (which is leading in innovative biotherapies), leading animal healthcare companies to have no presence in India currently.

• Australia’s unique pro-substitution approach to biosimilars is a learning opportunity (which means ‘encouraging prescribing of biosimilars rather than the reference biologic to patients receiving treatment for the first time, also allowing a pro-substitution approach, for example allowing the “a-flagging” of anti-TNF biosimilars. A-flagged biosimilars can be substituted by pharmacists at the point of dispensing without permission from the prescribing clinician. No other regulator currently allows substitution of biosimilars at the pharmacy level).

• Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the regulatory authority for therapeutic goods such as medicines, medical devices, and diagnostic tests is a transparent and robust clinical validation process. India can learn from this, as it evolves its own functioning model.

• Under the New Education Policy, Australia can support India in building its life science workforce. Through its pharmacy education and skill development (short-term PG technical courses in medical specialties, technical short courses, and online modules), the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) is a great foundation for building the life science sector. India can also explore Australia’s expertise in healthcare delivery to remote areas, data analytics techniques to predict future demand for health.

• Indian institutions can learn from Australia’s research ecosystem, which has witnessed strong life science acceleration in the academic system, followed by vibrant spinouts, facilitated by university-industry partnerships.

• Australia and India can together identify the top ten research areas (virology, epidemiology, neurosciences, stem cell research, etc.). Government grants supported by industry should be provided to establish quality output.

Addressing barriers — Australia and India
Affordability, accessibility, and quality are at the very core of India’s life sciences vision. What is required is:

• A deep awareness and recognition of each other’s strengths.

• Creating sustainable institutional channels of engagement (joint working group in the life science sector). There is a strong need to connect all stakeholders (government — academicians — industry) and have their say in policy regulations.

• Creating innovative breakthrough models of engagement that goes beyond the traditional life sciences industry, and is embracing new business models driven by digital technology and artificial intelligence.

• Identify ways where there could be greater alignment between science and business. Australian superfunds with their investment interests in India could consider allocating 2-3% of risk funds for driving collaborative life science innovation.

Going forward, collaboration and commercialization of research should be a key benchmark of Australia and India’s life sciences partnership.”

India may see US$ 206 billion investment in oil and gas in next 8-10 years

Source: IBEF

“Indian oil and natural gas sector is likely to witness an investment of US$ 206 billion during the next eight to ten years.

With Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi addressing the top global executives at the India Energy Forum by CERA Week on Monday, it is expected he would further entice companies to promote an cor a self-reliant India. This when the domestic fuel market is recovering from the pandemic-driven decline.

The three-day India Energy Forum will be participated by Mr. Dan Brouillette (US Secretary of Energy), Prince Abdulaziz (Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia) and Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber (CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company). This event will also see participation from industry players such Igor Mr. Sechin (Chairman, Rosneft, Russia); Mr. Bernard Looney (CEO BP Plc, UK); Mr. Patrick Pouyanne (Chairman & CEO, Total S.A., France); Mr. Olivier Le Peuch (CEO, Schlumberger, USA); Mr. Mukesh Ambani (Chairman & MD, Reliance Industries) and Mr. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo (Secretary General, Opec).

A government official said that such global meets are important when the country is expected to have large investment in this decade. The investments include US$ 67 billion in gas infrastructure — LNG capacity increase, pipelines and CGD networks. Multiple global players such as Total, Exxon Mobil and Shell have shown their interests in this field. The companies such as Reliance-BP, ONGC and Oil India, exploration and production scenario would see investment of around US$ 59 billion. On the other hand, downstream segment, including marketing, refinery expansions and new refinery plans like Vizag, Barmer, Paradip and Ratnagiri may see another US$ 80 billion investments too in the sector.

During the first fortnight of October 2020, the Petrol demand was up by 1.5%; Diesel by 8.79% and LPG by 6.93% compared to October 1-15 period of 2019. The ATF demand is 57% short of last year which means there is a recovery of 43%.

With increased focus on clean energy in recent years in India, the share of renewable in electricity capacity has significantly gone up now to 22% from around 10% in 2014-15. The ethanol blending percentage has increased from 0.67% in 2012-13 to now close to 6%.”

India takes steps to facilitate foreign direct investment in the space sector

Source: ReedSmith

“Indian regulators continue to relax foreign direct investment (FDI) regulation in various business sectors in India. The latest industry to potentially receive greater opportunity for non-Indian investor participation is the space sector.

The Indian space sector has become the latest industry to possibly join the ongoing trend of relaxed FDI regulation in India. This past week, the Indian Space Research Organisation (the ISRO) released a draft of the new Spacecom Policy 2020 (the Policy). The Policy governs the use of orbital slots, satellites and ground telecommunication stations with the goal of providing greater industry access to private companies. Representatives of the Department of Space (the DoS) in India confirmed that the Policy also aims to encourage FDI in Indian space businesses.

Currently, all FDI proposals for Indian space companies are subject to DoS approval. While a foreign investor can technically invest up to 100 percent under the existing Indian space regulation, any such transaction requires approval by the government first. Space industry leaders have been formally requesting the Indian government to permit FDI through the “automatic route,” as opposed to requiring regulatory approval, since June. With less stringent FDI approval rules, India could be poised to attract billions of dollars into the Indian space and satellite sectors. This could establish India as a significant player in the global space communication sector.

The Policy as drafted permits more private activity in the space sector, including the ability to construct ground stations, space ports and manufacturing facilities to make satellites and launch vehicles. While specific mechanics for FDI have not been published, Indian authorities have confirmed to the press that the Policy aims to entice international companies to not only set up private space facilities of their own in India, but to also invest in existing Indian space companies.

Indian lawmakers believe allowing a greater number of private players, both domestic and foreign, in the Indian space sector will enable India to keep pace with the growing worldwide demand for satellite-based broadcasting, network connectivity and mobile personal communication.

The ISRO is accepting comments on the current draft of the Policy until November 4.

Indian companies, their investors and their business counterparts should be aware of the government’s ongoing liberalization trend. FDI specifically has become an area that India has been intently reviewing and reforming across industries. The Policy demonstrates India’s efforts to bring sophisticated first-world capital and technology to its domestic space industry. Space industry groups should monitor the Indian government’s continuing developments and the corresponding reactions of the affected businesses. For overseas companies and investors in particular, the Policy could represent a significant opportunity to participate in the newest phase of India’s economy.

We continue to monitor developments in Indian FDI regulation, both generally and within the space and telecommunications sectors. We summarize the initial announcement of the relaxation of regulations applicable to FDI in India and summarize subsequent FDI movement with respect to the defense sector.

Our India Business team includes multidisciplinary lawyers from the United States, Asia and EME who stand ready to advise you on the issues above or others you may face related to cross-border transactions. ”

Insight – India on the rise in latest ease of doing business rankings

Source: Austrade

“India has moved up 14 places to be 63rd among 190 nations for ease of doing business, in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report, released on 24 October.

The country was 77th among 190 countries in the previous year’s rankings. The World Bank report assesses improvement in the ease of doing business environment in Delhi and Mumbai.

‘It is encouraging to see the steady implementation of reforms in South Asia,’ says Rita Ramalho, Senior Manager of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group, which produces the study. ‘Continued and sustained progress is key to improving the domestic business climate and enabling private enterprise.’

Major improvements were registered in the areas of Starting a Business, Dealing with Construction Permits, Trading Across Borders and Resolving Insolvency.

Importantly for Australian business, importing and exporting has become easier for the fourth consecutive year. India now ranks 68th globally on this indicator and performs significantly better than the regional average: for example, documentary compliance hours for imports averages 22 versus 93.7 hours for the region.

India joins an eclectic group of countries with the most notable improvement in doing business: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, China and Nigeria.

Effective and efficient insolvency laws are vital to stability in financial systems and fundamental to economic growth. Entrepreneurship, by nature, involves risk taking. Some businesses will fail. A sound insolvency and bankruptcy process enables rapid resolutions of such problems.

The establishment of a uniform insolvency code in 2016 as part of wider corporate law reform has led to a gradual increase in the number of reorganisations. As a result, the overall recovery rate for creditors has jumped from 26.5 to 71.6 cents on the dollar (for Mumbai), which is above the OECD benchmark of 70.2.

While there has been progress, India still lags in areas such as contract enforcement (163rd) and property registration (154th), rankings for which did not move and slightly deteriorated respectively. In Mumbai for example, it takes 68 days and costs on average 7.4% of a property’s value to register it, longer and at greater cost than among OECD high-income economies. And it takes 1,445 days for a company to resolve a commercial dispute in the same city, almost three times the average time in OECD high-income economies.

To strengthen Australia’s profile and deepen strategic relationships with India, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit in January 2020.”

To boost shipbuilding in India, Ministry of Shipping amends Right of First Refusal (ROFR) licensing conditions

Source: IBEF

“In pursuance of ‘Make in India’ policy of the Government of India, Ministry of Shipping has reviewed the ROFR (Right of First Refusal) licensing conditions for chartering of vessels/Ships through tender process for all types of requirements.

To promote the demand of the ships built in India, priority in chartering of vessels is given to vessels built in India, flagged in India and owned by Indians under the amendments in the guidelines of ROFR(Right of First Refusal).

Now it has been decided that for any kind of charter of a vessel undertaken through a tender process, the Right of First Refusal (RoFR) would be exerted in the following manner:

Indian built, Indian flagged and Indian owned
Foreign built, Indian flagged and Indian owned
Indian built, foreign flagged and foreign owned

Provided that:

All vessels flying the flag of India (i.e. registered in India) up to the date of issue of new circular by the Director General of Shipping shall be deemed to be Indian built vessels and will fall in category (i) above and
The foreign flagged vessels permitted by DG (Shipping) under Section 406 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 for chartering by an Indian citizen/company/society, who is building a ship in an Indian shipyard for registration under the Indian flag, as a temporary substitute for the Indian ship under construction, meeting the following two conditions shall be deemed to fall under Category (i) above.
25% of the contract money has been paid to the Indian shipyard
50% of the hull fabrication has been completed, as certified by Recognised Organisation.

The duration of licence to such chartered vessel shall be limited to the period of building of the ship, as mentioned in the shipbuilding contract.

It is to be noted that Ministry of Shipping has made provision for long-term subsidy for shipbuilding activities under shipbuilding financial assistance policy (2016-2026). The Ministry has already disbursed an amount of Rs 61.05 crore till date under this policy. It is an endeavour of the Government to further incentivise shipbuilding by providing additional market access and business support to ships built in India.

The revised guidelines will give a boost to the domestic shipbuilding and shipping industries. It will encourage the domestic shipping industry to support the domestic shipping industry.

Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) Mr. Mansukh Mandaviya said, “Ministry of Shipping is working with a focused approach to promote shipbuilding in India as per AatmaNirbhar Bharat vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. The revision of RoFR licensing conditions is a giant step towards AatmaNirbhar Shipping. It will promote ‘Make in India’ initiatives through self-reliance and will give a strategic boost to domestic Ship building industries, contributing towards long-term economic growth of India”.”

India is the world’s fastest growing OTT market

Source: IBEF

“India is gearing to emerge as the world’s sixth-largest OTT (over-the-top streaming) market by 2024. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28.6% over the next four years to touch revenues of US$ 2.9 billion.

According to the Media and Entertainment Outlook 2020, a report by, PricewaterhouseCoopers, OTT video, along with Internet advertising, video games and e-sports and music, radio and podcasts are the top four segments expected to see revenue growth in the country over the next four years.

The report highlights that while changing consumer behaviour may impact traditional sectors like cinema and print adversely, digital E&M (entertainment and media) spending, including OTT subscriptions and mobile data allowance, is being increasingly regarded as a utility and therefore, a non-discretionary expense. India’s total M&E revenue, however, is expected to grow at a robust rate of 10.1% to reach US$ 55 billion by 2024. Overall, though, global M&E revenues will contract by 5.6% in 2020 over 2019.

Rajib Basu, Partner, Entertainment and Media, PwC India has highlighted that while the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the growth of the M&E industry to a screeching halt, the impact of the pandemic has not been felt equally across sectors, while movie theatres and live events, for instance, have taken a hit, Covid has proven a boon for OTT.

Further, the massive investments made by OTT services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ Hotstar and others in originals as well as acquired content will help subscription video-on-demand make up 93% of the total OTT revenue (as compared to 87% globally), increasing at a CAGR of 30.7% between 2019-2024, from US$ 708 million in 2019 to US$ 2.7 billion. The new at-home environment has led to the rise of new direct-to-consumer apps, local ‘bite-sized’ entertainment platforms and user-generated content formats, the report says.

Meanwhile, as the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a seven-month shutdown of movie theatres and several producers have taken their films directly to digital platforms, OTT has seen obvious gains at the expense of cinemas. In 2018, SVoD revenues were a third of India’s total box office revenue but the shift of eyeballs to digital platforms in the medium to long term will ensure India’s movie box office falls by 2.6% over the next four years as SVoD grows by 30.7%. In fact, the report says 2020 presents a key tipping point as SVoD revenue overtakes theatrical earnings, which Basu admitted may have been a function of theatres remaining shut for most of the year.

Gaurav Gandhi, director and country general manager, Amazon Prime Video India had admitted in an earlier interview to Mint that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a steady increase in subscriptions and engagement.

“There was a need for fresh content, and we were able to provide that wholesome experience within the comfort of people’s homes,”” Gandhi had said. The strategy of quick premieres of films and consistent availability of new shows is important, OTT executives say, but so is the quality of content. The presumption is people will take time to go back to theatres even as they begin to reopen, but it is important for web content to also be clutter breaking.

“All entities that only believe in quantity will have to introspect. There will be a problem of plenty if platforms are simply churning out content without making sure they have a unique bouquet to offer,”” Neeraj Roy, founder and CEO, Hungama Digital Media said.

The report says that while Covid has impacted overall advertiser confidence with segments like print losing advertising by 1.5%, Internet has emerged relatively unscathed, estimated to grow at a CAGR of 21.7% between 2019–2024. In fact, India is now the sixth-largest Internet ad market in the Asia Pacific and mobile will continue to be the primary driver of revenue due to increased data affordability, new mobile-first formats, and strategic targeting of consumers. Music and podcasts are other big gainers, with advertising for them estimated to rise by 20%. The TV advertising model, meanwhile, continues to be impacted by the ongoing shift in consumer habits though it is estimated to grow by 2.1% by 2024 too.

Gaming and esports that capitalize on the need to bring live experiences into the home in personalized and engaging ways, are also set to benefit from the pandemic. India’s gaming market is expected to touch US$ 3.2 billion in 2024, increasing at a CAGR of 18.8% with e-sports alone growing at 33%.

Fuelled by the uptake of music streaming brands and people turning to motivational, spiritual, fun and fitness content during the lockdown, India’s has emerged as the third largest podcast listening market in the world after China and the US, with 57.6 million monthly listeners. Further, the segment is expected to touch revenues of US$1.7 billion in 2024, increasing at a CAGR of 13.5%. India will also see strong increase at 30.4% CAGR in its monthly podcast listener base over the next five years, supported by the entry of foreign players and original content on topics including news, society and culture, the report says.”

VC investments in India more than doubled in September quarter: KPMG report

Source: IBEF

“According to Venture Pulse – a quarterly report published by KPMG Private Enterprise, the venture capital (VC) investments was robust world over, despite the pandemic-led disruptions during July-September quarter.

The VC investments In India, grew to US$ 3.6 billion in July-September from US$ 1.5 billion in the June quarter, supported by mega deals including the US$ 1.3 billion raised by online retailer Flipkart.

Mr. Amarjeet Singh, partner, KPMG in India quoted that India continues to be attractive market for VC investors and there is huge demand in the edtech, healthtech and fintech segments.

To accelerate India’s transition to a digital economy, Google had announced a US$ 10 billion fund in July 2020.

Jio Platforms received major investment from Google (US$4.5 billion) and Facebook’s (US$5.7 billion), and it have also made its own investments in Q3, including the acquisition of online pharmacy Netmeds in August.

India’s edtech sector has undertaken four of the largest deals during the quarter. It includes Byju’s (US$ 500 million), Unacademy (US$ 150 million), Eruditus Executive Education (US$ 113million), and Vedantu (US$ 100 million).

Mr. Nitish Poddar, partner and national leader – private equity, KPMG in India stated that edtech has been the hot area for investment and will likely remain so for some time,”” said

The report also states that the investment in Indian start-ups is likely to pick up substantially by end of the year.

At global level, around 4,861 VC deals worth US$ 73.2 billion took place during July–September 2020, higher than $70 billion across 5,674 deals in the June ended quarter.

The major sector likely to attract the investment in coming period are fintech, edtech, healthtech, and biotech.”

Shri Nitin Gadkari Launched Unique Khadi Footwear; KVIC Targets Rs. 5000 Crore Business

Source: IBEF

“Now feel the fineness of handcrafted Khadi fabric in the footwear. Union Minister for MSME, Shri Nitin Gadkari today launched India’s first-ever high-quality Khadi Fabric Footwear, designed by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) through Video Conference. These footwears are made of Khadi fabric like Silk, Cotton and Wool. Shri Gadkari also launched the online sale of Khadi footwear through KVIC’s e-portal www.khadiindia.gov.in.

Shri Gadkari heaped praises on Khadi fabric footwear saying such unique products had high potential of capturing the international market. At the same time, he said, Khadi fabric footwear would create additional employment and higher income for our artisans.

“Khadi footwear is a unique product. International quality and use of fine fabric like Patola Silk, Banarasi Silk, Cotton, Denim would attract the youngsters who can purchase it online. These footwears are cost-effective,” Shri Gadkari said while also urging the KVIC to develop alternatives to leather accessories like ladies’ handbags, purses, wallet in handcrafted Khadi fabric that has a huge potential in foreign markets. “By developing and marketing such products overseas, Khadi India can capture a market worth Rs. 5000 crore (US$ 680.68 million),” the MSME Minister said.

Minister of State for MSME, Shri Pratap Chandra Sarangi said the Khadi fabric footwear is not only environment-friendly and skin-friendly, but it reflects the hard work of Khadi artisans that has been put in to make fabric for these footwears. “I congratulate KVIC for developing Khadi fabric footwear according to the global taste. I am sure by occupying a major share in the footwear industry, Khadi fabric footwear will help in reviving the country’s economy,” Shri Sarangi said.

To begin with, the footwear has been launched in 15 designs for ladies and 10 designs for men. Exquisite Khadi products like Patola Silk of Gujarat, Banarasi Silk, Madhubani-printed Silk of Bihar, Khadi Denim, Tussar Silk, Matka – Katia Silk, a variety of Cotton fabric, Tweed Wool and Khadi Poly Vastra have been used to make these footwears unique and trendy. Available in a wide range of designs, colours and prints, these footwears have been designed to suit clothing for all purposes – formal, casual and festive occasions. The Khadi footwear price ranges from Rs. 1100 (US$ 14.98) to Rs. 3300 (US$ 44.93) per pair.

KVIC Chairman Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena said, venturing into new segments, tapping new markets and diversifying the product range, as envisaged by the Prime Minister, have been the mantra for Khadi’s stupendous success in the last six years.

“The idea behind launching Khadi Fabric Footwear was to tap the international market where a large section of international consumers is increasingly going vegan and hence, Khadi will become a preferred choice of this segment. “Khadi fabric footwear is a small step for people, but it will be a giant leap for our Khadi artisans. Using fine fabric like Cotton, Silk and Wool in footwear will lead to higher production of fabric by artisans as well as increase in its consumption. This will ultimately create additional employment and higher income for Khadi artisans,” Mr. Saxena said. The size of Indian footwear industry is approx. Rs. 50,000 crore (US$ 6.81 billion) which includes exports worth nearly Rs. 18,000 crore (US$ 2.45 billion). Mr. Saxena said our initial target is to capture at least 2% of this Industry that is estimated to be around Rs. 1000 crore (US$ 136.14 million).

Incidentally, the idea behind developing the Khadi fabric footwear also coincides with the Prime Minister’s vision of “Local to Global”. Earlier, KVIC had successfully launched its first-ever Khadi wrist watch in association with Titan which has been a trend-setter.”

India receives highest ever FDI of $35.73 billion during first 5 months of FY21

Source: IBEF

“Between April 2020 and August 2020, India received a cumulative inflow of $35.73 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and this is the highest ever for the first five months of a financial year, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

The ministry said that this fiscal year’s FDI inflow during April-August was 13% higher compared to the first five months of 2019-20 ($31.60 billion).

The ministry said, “The FDI equity inflow received during April-August 2020 stood at $27.10 billion, which is also the highest ever for the first five months of a financial year and 16% more than the same period last year”.

The ministry stated that over the last six years, the overall FDI inflow increased by 55% between 2014 and 2020 compared to 2008-2014. Thus, from $231.37 billion in 2008-14 to $358.29 billion in 2014-20, the FDI rose.

The government said the inflow of FDI equity also increased by 57% from $160.46 billion during 2008-14 to $252.42 billion (2014-20).

FDIs are a major engine of economic growth and a major source of non-debt funding for India’s economic development. It has been the government’s initiative to put in place an FDI policy that is encouraging and investor friendly.

The ministry said, “The intent all this while has been to make the FDI policy more investor friendly and remove the policy bottlenecks that have been hindering the investment inflows into the country. The steps taken in this direction during the last six years have borne fruit as is evident from the ever-increasing volumes of FDI inflows being received into the country”.

Governments have introduced FDI reforms across different industries on the road of FDI liberalisation and simplification.

Government steps taken on the fronts of FDI policy reforms, facilitation of investment and ease of doing business have resulted in increased inflows of FDI into the nation. The following trends in India’s FDI are an affirmation by global investors of its position as a preferred investment destination, the ministry stated.”

Billionaire banker Uday Kotak says now’s the best time to invest in India, lists 5 ‘right sectors’

Source:- Economictimes

“Overseas investors should look to invest in Indian digital to consumer sector companies now as the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic makes valuations of businesses attractive, Asia’s richest banker said

“I have always believed you have to invest in India when things look more challenging,” Uday Kotak, the managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. NSE 12.05 % said in a conversation with David Rubenstein, the co-founder of Carlye Group Inc. at the Bloomberg India Economic Summit Thursday. “That’s the best time to put your money to work.”

With half a billion Internet users and growing, overseas investors had been pouring money into Indian companies in sectors from e-commerce to digital payments — similar to the early days of China’s digital boom. The sector’s importance has only increased this year as the Covid-19 pandemic pushed the South Asian nation to impose the world’s biggest lockdown in late March.

Mukesh Ambani, who’s Asia’s richest man, raised more than $20 billion this year, selling 33% of his technology venture Jio Platforms Ltd. to investors including Facebook Inc. and Google. His Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd. has embarked on its own fund raising spree, mopping up $5.1 billion from private equity and sovereign wealth funds in the past two months.

The “right sectors” to invest in India now include digital, e-commerce, technology, pharmaceutical, and consumers, Kotak, founder of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. said. The health care sector is already seeing a surge in investments. KKR & Co. said in July it would acquire a controlling stake in J.B. Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd., while Carlyle Group purchased a 20% stake in Indian billionaire Ajay Piramal’s pharmaceutical business.

“The best place to invest in the world outside of the U.S. over the next ten years or so are certainly going to be India and China,” said Rubenstein. “India has not had as much capital from outside as China has had, but I do think in the next ten years that would change, and India is increasingly seen as an attractive place to invest for foreign capital.”

Market Share
The nation’s strongest private banks had skirted the shock waves that struck the state-owned banks and the shadow lenders in recent years, and which have left those sectors struggling under mountains of bad debt. Private sector banks have been garnering market share at a rapid pace with faster loan growth when compared with their state sector peers, which have avoided stepping up new lending due to a legacy of bad debt.

The banking sector is “ripe for significant structural change,” Kotak said. The market share of private sector banks in India will rise to about 50% from the current 35% over the next decade, according to Kotak.

Private banks’ loan books grew at an annual 11.3% as of March, more than three times the pace of state-controlled banks, according to RBI data. If asset quality starts to deteriorate, their bad-loan ratios could rise from the 4.2% recorded in March, which was well below the 11.3% for state lenders.

Succession Planning
Kotak also addressed questions about succession. There are no rules as of now that cap his tenure at the Mumbai-based bank’s helm, he said, adding that the lender has measures in place for long-term succession planning. At a later stage, and “not in the near future,” he might consider a role as a non-executive director of the bank he founded and manages, Kotak said.

The Reserve Bank of India has proposed a 10-year cap for bank founders who remain as CEO or full-time director. That could mean Kotak, 61, has to step down from his current role in Kotak Mahindra Bank by as early as 2022 upon the date of implementation of the final rules.

The billionaire banker has been the CEO of the bank for 17 years. Kotak had also cut his stake to 26% from nearly 30%, settling an unprecedented court battle with the RBI earlier this year.

In the bank, “we are 26% shareholders as a family, and we are very committed to continuing as long-term owners, shareholders and value creators for all shareholders,” according to Kotak.”

Govt invites proposals for development of EV charging infrastructure on major highways

Source:- IBEF

“The government has invited proposals from organisations that plan to develop and operate charging infrastructure on major highways and expressways in the country for the construction of charging stations.

An Expression of Interest has been floated by the Department of Heavy Industries to invite proposals to construct and operate public EV charging infrastructure from government agencies, PSUs (State / Central), state-owned DISCOM, Oil PSUs and similar public and private entities.

Proposals for the construction and operation of EV charging infrastructure on the Mumbai-Pune, Ahmedabad-Vadodara, Delhi-Agra Yamuna, Bengaluru-Mysore, Bengaluru-Chennai, Surat-Mumbai, Agra-Lucknow, Eastern Peripheral and Hyderabad-ORR Expressways were invited from interested entities.

Similarly, proposals from highway operators like Delhi-Srinagar, Delhi Kolkata, Agra-Nagpur, Meerut to Gangotri Dham, Mumbai-Delhi, Mumbai-Panaji, Mumbai-Nagpur, Mumbai-Bengaluru and Kolkata to Bhubaneswar have also been invited.

The Government of India (GoI) intends to encourage the growth of the EV charging infrastructure under Phase II of the FAME India Scheme by extending capital grants to organisations encouraging the use of electric vehicles (EVs).

Phase II of the FAME India Scheme [Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India] has been approved by the Centre for 3 years, starting on 1 April 2019.

The electrification of public and shared transportation is its priority.”

India e-commerce industry sees 31 per cent growth in orders in Q3 2020

Source:- IBEF

“For the third quarter of this year, which ended in September, India’s e-commerce industry experienced an order volume rise of 31% compared to the same time last year, a study said on Wednesday.

However, although the order volume has increased dramatically, the corresponding gross merchandise value (GMV) has only increased by 24% due to a five percent decrease in the average order value, said the Unicommerce research, the leading SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform based on e-commerce.

The findings showed that personal care and health and pharmaceuticals emerged as the fastest-growing segments, but while they have lower growth, electronics and fashion remain the largest group with the maximum share of order volume.

Interestingly, the results showed that the brand’s own websites recorded a rise of more than 78% in Q3 compared to 35% from the markets over the same period.

Mr. Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce, said in a statement, “”With the increasing focus of companies on investing in online channels and rising interest in adopting technology solutions to improve business operations, we firmly believe this growth momentum will continue for the next few quarters””.

Consumers living in India’s tier-2 and tier-3 cities are driving the huge growth of e-commerce.

Growth from tier 2 and beyond cities is driven by the growing emphasis on regional markets and rising smartphone adoption.

A growth of over 90% has been shown by tier-3 and beyond cities, said the study.

Reducing return orders is another major news for the e-commerce ecosystem. According to the results, there has been a substantial decrease of approximately 22% in returns per forwarding order, which is possibly representative of a maturing e-commerce ecosystem.”

India to have 100 unicorns by 2025 despite covid impact: TiE report

Source:- IBEF

“According to a study titled ‘Covid-19 and the Antifragility of the Indian Startup Ecosystem,’ India is on its way to having 100 unicorns by 2025, considering the effects that the covid-19 pandemic has had on the Indian start-up ecosystem.

To put it in perspective, four Indian startups, Postman, Nykaa, Unacademy and Razorpay, have become unicorns amid covid-19, despite being jolted by the pandemic, and the nation is on track to have 8 unicorns in 2020, almost the same number of additions as in 2019.

The study launched by TiE-Delhi, a global non-profit organisation supporting entrepreneurship in collaboration with Zinnov, a global management and strategy consulting company, revealed that total funding fell by 50% compared to pre-covid levels during the lockdown. As a result, around 40% of start-ups have been adversely affected and 15% have been forced to discontinue operations.

The third largest start-up ecosystem in the world was jolted by the multi-dimensional pandemic and the effect was extreme during the lockdown period from March to June 2020. However, the rate of recovery, both in demand and in investor sentiment, was faster than anticipated as the economy opened.

Mr. Rajan Anandan, President, TiE Delhi-NCR said, “Although the immediate impact of the lockdowns on the Indian startup ecosystem was severe, we have been amazed to witness how quickly Indian founders have acted to reimagine their businesses. What has been most impressive is how many startups have reduced burn and improved their unit economics very rapidly””.

According to the report, the transition to digital consumption has provided the requisite tailwind for sectors such as education, healthcare and trade, while several negatively impacted sectors such as travel, hospitality and mobility are now on a recovery path. For example, 75% of start-ups are recovering post lockdown gradually, but steadily. About 30% of startups have pivoted to new alternative revenue stream markets, while more than 55% of startups focus on profitability.

In addition, during the quarter ended in September 2020, deal activity, both in terms of overall investments and the number of specific funded startups, has recovered to pre-covid levels. Furthermore, by the end of 2020, the start-up ecosystem is expected to have 7-7.5 direct jobs and 26-28 indirect jobs in total, further cementing its recovery.

Mr. Anandan added, “Investor sentiment has also recovered quickly, and we expect the Indian unicorn club to steadily expand through 2020 and 2021. Although COVID-19 has been a major setback for the ecosystem, we believe that the changes that the pandemic has brought on will make our ecosystem much stronger, across every dimension””.

The ecosystem’s antifragility is exemplified by the courageous reaction of entrepreneurs and the ecosystem, to the confusion brought on by the pandemic, by introducing new business models in line with changing consumer needs and market conditions.

The study demonstrates the spectrum of effects on the different sectors and discusses the measures taken by entrepreneurs to reinvent their business models to minimise the impact of covid-19. Factors that reflect the revival of the ecosystem include the pickup of M&A and seed operations, as well as late-stage funding. The Indian start-up ecosystem showed positive signs of recovery in Q3: funding returned to 98% of Q1 levels, investor sentiments became positive, ticket sizes increased, the number of start-ups raising their first investment round also returned to Q1 levels, ensuring that the start-up ecosystem bounced back, with the expectation of becoming healthier and more vibrant.

Mr. Pari Natarajan, CEO, Zinnov said, “By being nimble and rapidly responding to different challenges, looking at them as an opportunity, the Indian startup ecosystem has displayed its antifragile nature. Despite the trying times, and the death of many startups, the ecosystem has played a key role in employment generation and is expected to create ~15-16 Lakhs direct jobs by 2025. There is clear evidence that India’s future is about technology, policy, innovation, and entrepreneurship””.”

India offers exporters $38 bn opportunity for bilateral trade growth: StanChart

Source:- IBEF

“According to the latest Chartered Trade Opportunity Survey, global enterprises are able to increase exports to India by over $21 billion annually.

The report, which included 10 of India’s main trading partners, also found that an estimated $17 billion in Indian exporters could raise exports to these markets, taking the total bilateral trade potential to $38 billion.

The study highlights markets and sectors with new prospects for trade to develop as economies and companies look to rebound from the effects of COVID-19. The biggest opportunity for businesses in the United States, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the United Kingdom to increase their exports to India is open.

The United States, India’s largest trading partner and market with the greatest potential to improve trade, could raise its exports to the financial services industry by $5.7 billion annually.

For exporters through Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the ASEAN region has a total opportunity of $10.7 billion.

With a combined annual opportunity to grow trade between India and the ASEAN markets by 3.2 billion dollars, the electrical machinery sector stands out.

The focus in South Korea is on the $288 million opportunity to boost automotive exports.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, France and Germany were able to increase their exports to India by a combined $3.2 billion, with a total export opportunity in the organic chemicals sector of $413 million across three markets.

Mr. Gaurav Bhatnagar, Managing Director and Head of Trade for India and south Asia at Standard Chartered Bank, said businesses in India and across the world have faced unprecedented challenges over the last few months. “”Looking ahead, they need to look for new growth avenues and build more resilience.””

Analysis compares real export values with potential export values to discover medium-term prospects, measured by an economic model, looking at the post-Covid-19 world as economies begin to reopen.

The scope includes high-potential exports defined as products or services where, within the boundaries of their home market, enterprises have added value.”

India among top three FDI destinations in near future: CII-EY survey

Source:- Economictimes

“NEW DELHI: A survey by the Confederation of India Industry (CII) and EY of around a hundred companies has revealed that India has emerged as one of the top three choices for overseas investments in the next 2-3 years and about 30% of the firms are planning to invest more than $500 million.

As per the survey, for more than two-thirds of the multi-national corporations (MNC) respondents and 25% of the non-India headquartered MNCs, India as the first choice for investments.

Aimed to gauge the market sentiment among the Indian as well as non-Indian MNCs, the survey noted that about half the respondents see India among the top three economies or leading manufacturing destinations of the world by 2025. It assesses India’s competitiveness in terms of key parameters and analyses whether India is likely to be the “+1” jurisdiction for those seeking to relocate investments or making fresh investments.

The survey themed around ‘How can India step up its game?’ shows that more than 80% of all the respondents and 71% of the non-Indian headquartered respondents plan to make investments globally in the next 2-3 years.

“The CII-EY survey results strongly indicate that India will be the next global investment hotspot with a high proportion of MNCs placing it at the top of their investment agenda,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII.

Market potential, skilled workforce, and political stability are the top three reasons that make India a favoured foreign direct investment (FDI) destination besides cheap labor availability, policy reforms and raw material availability.

Banerjee attributed the global investor interest to the recent major structural reforms, proactive government processes and the quick pickup in economic activity following Unlock measures.

The report comes in the wake of FDI into India in the first quarter of FY21 plunging 60% from a year-ago to $6.5 billion amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“For 40% of the non-Indian HQ companies, effective implementation of labour laws and FDI reforms are very significant, while 52% of the Indian HQ companies believe corporate tax rate reduction would be the prime mover of future investments,” CII and EY said.

However, firms highlighted infrastructure development, faster clearances, and implementation of the improved labour laws and labour availability as the top three issues followed by R&D, and tax reforms besides faster turnaround time for exports- imports, improved cargo handling, and trade facilitation measures.

FDI PITCH
·India is top choice for future investments for 2/3rd of MNCs
·50 % of cos see India among top 3 economies, manufacturing destinations by 2025
·Capacity expansion, digital transformation, R&D to drive new FDI
·Market potential, skilled workforce, political stability make India attractive
·Cos want govt to focus on infra development, faster clearances
·MNCs seek labour law implementation, trade policy reform”

Flipkart, Walmart invest $30 million in Ninjacart

Source:- IBEF

“Flipkart and its US-based parent Walmart jointly made their second investment in fresh produce supply chain start-up Ninjacart, a person aware of the deal told ET, amounting to about $30 million.

In a joint statement released on Monday, Flipkart and Walmart said that the investment would deepen their relationship with Ninjacart and would boost its products and enhance the customer experience.

The investment comes at a time when, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the online grocery sector has seen massive growth. In the e-grocery space, the entry of Reliance Industries’ JioMart has also spurred competition.

Mr Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO at Flipkart Group said, “The e-grocery market in India has seen tremendous growth over the past several months. We will continue to make investments to offer the best products to our customers and support livelihoods and sustainable growth for local farmers, producers, and the supply chain ecosystem”.

Compared to its main competitor, Amazon, Flipkart, which has been a laggard in the grocery market, is using Ninjacart’s fresh produce supply to power its Supermart online grocery service and Flipkart Fast hyperlocal delivery service.

In December last year, Walmart and Flipkart first funded Ninjacart, and have partnered with the company since then on a farm-to-fork pilot. Ninjacart began deliveries of fresh produce to apartment complexes during the lockdown at the end of March and partnered with food delivery services to facilitate deliveries.

FoodPrint, a platform that enables traceability of all goods on its platform to enhance protection, was also launched by Ninjacart.

Mr. Thirukumaran Nagarajan, co-founder and CEO at Ninjacart said, “The fresh set of investments from Walmart and the Flipkart Group takes us one step closer to our vision of making food safe and accessible for the billion people and changing the way food reaches our plate”.

The company said it would use the new capital to expand into new markets and create new offerings for emerging segments of customers. Flipkart and Walmart added that the sale is scheduled to be completed by the end of October 2020.”

Online strategy drives growth for Australian icon, Swisse, in India

Source:- AUSTRADE

“E-commerce is a game-changer for Australian brands exporting consumer goods to India. With the help of Austrade advisors in Melbourne and New Delhi, the supplements icon, Swisse, launched with Amazon India in February 2020, driving strong sales growth across the subcontinent.

Based in Victoria, Swisse is a vitamin, supplements, and skincare brand that manufactures all its products to Australian pharmaceutical standards. The Swisse brand is gaining global traction. Over the past decade, its nutraceuticals have become popular across the Asia-Pacific region and the company’s 200 products boost Australia’s reputation for high-quality wellness products.

In 2019, the company set its sights on India. According to Akash Bedi, Group Chief Strategy & Operations Officer for H&H Group, India was the logical next step for Swisse’s market expansion progression. ‘We looked at growth trajectories for our target customers and saw that India is now a major, long-term opportunity for premium consumer goods — regardless of short-term challenges.’

The timing appeared right. According to Austrade Business Development Manager, Yaser Siddiqui, the rapid growth in India’s middles class and changes in buying habits are powering growth in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector.

‘India is now a major market for consumer goods and a logical next step for companies that have built successful brands in India,’ he says.

Austrade helps de-risk an India-entry strategy
India presents exporters with unfamiliar hurdles, however. Regulation is often highly complex. Warehousing can be difficult to arrange. To try to understand the challenges – and devise solutions – Swisse reached out to Austrade’s market advisors.

‘Austrade advisers gave us their “tales from the trenches”, so we could figure out what’s going on in India’s FMCG [fast moving consumer goods] market,’ says Bedi. ‘These professional insights supplemented the picture we built up from market research from other sources.’

To mitigate risk, Swisse decided on an all-digital entry strategy. This would enable Swisse to build its brand without having to negotiate distribution agreements or invest in traditional advertising. But to execute a digital strategy, Swisse needed e-commerce partners.

Amazon India tours Australia
Austrade had already worked with Amazon in Asia. So when Amazon India announced a roadshow tour in Australia, Delhi-based Trade and Investment Commissioner Dr. Mark Morley, began bringing companies together.

‘An Australia Store on the Amazon India site would be a showcase for Australian brands,’ says Morley. ‘Swisse was a natural partner for Amazon India because of Swisse’s social media skills. With Chris Hemsworth and Nicole Kidman as brand ambassadors, they could instantly build a social media presence on the Amazon platform.’

Morley facilitated a meeting between the Australian Complementary Medicines Association (CMA), key industry players, and Amazon India. After face-to-face discussions, Bedi glimpsed the outline of a market-entry strategy.

‘Amazon India could give us access to millions of consumers,’ says Bedi. ‘Also they could help with logistics and distribution.’

‘Austrade advisors helped us validate our India market-entry strategy,’ he adds. ‘We exchanged scores of emails as we developed our ideas. I would recommend any company thinking of launching in India to consult with Austrade before going forward.’

The Australia–India Business Exchange
The trigger for Swisse’s launch in India was the Australia–India Business Exchange (AIBX) in February 2020. Organized by Austrade, AIBX was a high-profile business delegation to India led by Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham.

‘We had participated in Austrade events in the US and Korea, so we knew their value,’ says Bedi. ‘These trade events deliver good commercial outcomes for us, and we can leverage Australia’s reputation as a source of high-quality produce.’

Swisse had intended to mount a ‘soft-launch’ of its brand during the AIBX visit, but as collaboration increased – with Amazon India, Austrade, and the state agency, Global Victoria – the possibility of a full-scale product launch became more viable.

‘As February approached we progressed faster than expected, so we launched Swisse in Bangalore with Trade Minister Birmingham, Nick Mann, Managing Director for Swisse ANZ, and the Amazon team all in attendance,’ says Bedi. ‘It was a big success: we became the first Australian brand to go live on Amazon’s Australian store in India.’

Austrade delivers local support
During the trip to India, Austrade’s Delhi-based trade advisers provided on-the-spot assistance. ‘We helped to organize interviews with newspapers and meetings with India’s FSSAI [Food Safety and Standards Authority of India],’ says Austrade’s Siddiqui.

‘Austrade has excellent people on the ground who helped us to manage public relations,’ says Bedi. ‘Also, Austrade’s India staff gave us a list of pre-qualified leads who could provide support services and commercial assistance. They made appointments with vital stakeholders and this meant we hit the ground running.

‘During the trip, we did deals with a number of strategic e-commerce platforms including, Nykaa, 1mg, Healthkart, Snapdeal, Health & Glow, Netmeds, Purplle, Pharmeasy, Myntra, and others.’

Enticing prospects in India
When Amazon India launched its Australia Store in February 2020, it showcased just 12 Australian brands; by October there were 37 on the site including Capilano, Carman’s, San Remo, and Sand and Sky Australia. According to Siddiqui, there are approximately eight comparable e-commerce platforms in India, broadening the commercial horizon for Australian exporters.

‘We continue to work with Swisse – helping them to explore sales opportunities and understand labeling requirements,’ says Siddiqui. ‘In India, e-commerce is a game-changer for exporters. Our role is to help brands get up and running in India, so we are eager to connect Australian exporters to e-commerce platforms.’

The prospects for Swisse look excellent. India’s middle class is rapidly developing a taste for premium produce with wellness connotations. Bedi says Swisse is not so much entering an existing market as creating a new one by stimulating demand for nutritional products.

‘We believe that, for Swisse, India will prove as valuable a market as our other export markets,’ he says. ‘Technology and retail are at different stages of development in India and there are many complications. But having launched, we know that India will be a major market for us in the future.’

‘Austrade’s Global Engagement Team in Australia and India will continue to work with Swisse to expand opportunities in India,’ says Chris Morley, Global Engagement Manager, Austrade. ‘As a global team, we will also help Swisse replicate their Indian e-commence success in other global markets.”

Insight – Indian Railways to offer 109 routes to private sector: an opportunity for Australian rail expertise and finance

Source:- AUSTRADE

“In a first for Indian Railways (IR), the government intends to allow private enterprises to create and operate new, premium passenger services on the country’s rail network. This creates partnership opportunities for Australian companies with relevant rail and finance experience, who should track the course of this procurement.

Fresh tracks
On 1 July, the Ministry of Railways in Delhi issued a Request for Qualifications (RfQ) to private sector companies for the introduction of 151 modern, 16-coach trains to operate on 109 new routes.[i]

The initiative has triggered commercial interest. During pre-application meetings, a broad range of reputable local and international companies – including potential investors – appeared likely to respond.

The project will entail an investment of around A$6 billion (₹30,000 crore)[ii]. It aims to unlock the intrinsic value of premium rail travel in India by introducing much-needed efficiencies in train operations and offering world-class services for passengers.

According to the Ministry of Railways: ’the objective of this initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance … [and to] … reduce transit times, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world-class travel experience to passengers… [it also aims to] reduce the demand-supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector”.[iii]

Heavy demand for passenger services
There is significant unmet demand in passenger rail services. During 2019–20, around 50 million potential passengers could not be accommodated on trains. During the summer and in festival seasons, demand outstripped supply by an estimated 13.3 per cent.[iv]

As a result of capacity constraints, the railways are steadily losing market share for freight transport.

The Ministry of Railways wants to allow the private sector to operate trains on commercially viable routes. The Ministry’s goal is to capture demand from passengers who would be willing to pay more for improved services, ease of access and comfort.

It is hoped that the private sector’s ability to create efficient, premium railway passenger services will deliver a better travel experience and increase revenue from meeting the demand.

Project features
It is anticipated that up to 109 routes will be bundled into 10–12 clusters. With approximately 150 rakes (or train sets) required, this will involve around 12 rakes per cluster.

The Ministry is open to suggestions on what technologies should be incorporated into the sets. The Ministry of Railways is also open to flexibility in terms of the sources of technology, subject to required standards and specifications.

The concession will last for 35 years, and will include the right to collect market price-linked fares. Other features include:

flexibility for class composition and halts
the ability to provide value-added and differentiated customer service
access to Indian Railway’s track and signalling network on payment of fixed haulage charges
a ‘gross revenue share’ model.
It is anticipated that operations will start three years after contract award, with 100 percent of trains operating within five years.

There will be a two-stage bidding process consisting of a request for qualifications and a request for proposals (RfP). International entities will be eligible, including private companies and funds.[v]

Potential stakeholders
The project offers bidders flexibility in how they deliver the service, and scope for innovation.

For example, bidders may offer to procure coaches either through purchase or leasing. This means non-rolling stock manufacturing companies can participate.[vi]

Operators will also have the freedom to develop premium on-board, value-add services, and to set fare structures accordingly.

Draft specifications include new safety features like electronic sliding doors, noise-free travel systems, double-glazed safety glass windows, passenger and coach surveillance systems, on-board monitoring, and passenger information systems.[vii]

The project has gained interest from reputed local and international organisations. A pre-application meeting organised by the Ministry of Railways saw participation from 23 businesses including Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, CAF, GMR Infra, Bharat Forge, BEML, L&T Infra, Gateway Rail, Titagarh Wagons, Sterlite, Medha Group.[viii]

A stakeholder meeting to discuss concession agreements was attended by an array of financial institutions, including the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), Macquarie and I Squared Capital.[ix]

Opportunities for Australian companies
This tender creates opportunities for Australian companies with experience of operating sophisticated passenger rail networks.

In addition, there are opportunities for Australian train operators to partner with reputed Indian companies, including those mentioned above.

The project could also open excellent opportunities for Australian SMEs with niche rail-related technologies, including:

on-board predictive maintenance
optimization and scheduling
systems monitoring and control
safety and surveillance solutions
coach interiors and equipment
onboard retail
onboard facility management
human resources training and skilling.
Next steps
Companies looking to pursue opportunities are advised to track the course of the procurement to identify successful bidders and train operators in each cluster.

Australian companies could explore approaching companies that are shortlisted at the RFQ stage to showcase their solutions. Contract awards are expected in early 2021.

Austrade can assist Australian companies who want to monitor this procurement. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Amol Pandey, Business Development Manager, Austrade in Delhi.”

PepsiCo bullish on India, increases investment at snacks plant in UP to Rs 814 crore

Source:- IBEF

“Despite short-term headwinds due to pandemic disruptions and increased investment at its new greenfield snacks plant in Uttar Pradesh, PepsiCo is “highly positive” about the future of the Indian market despite short-term headwinds due to pandemic-related disruptions and increased investment to Rs 814 crore (US$ 111.48 million) to meet rising demand, according to its President of India, Mr. Ahmed ElSheikh.

The company is committed to doubling its snack sector in India and increasing the potential of established food plants in Maharashtra and West Bengal. In addition, the establishment of a greenfield production facility in Assam has been suggested.

“While there have been some short-term headwinds due to COVID-19, we at PepsiCo are highly positive about the future and are committed to delivering the right food and beverage product range for customers,” Mr. ElSheikh told PTI.

In the 30 years since its establishment in India, PepsiCo India has emerged as one of the country’s largest food and beverage companies and is looking to create more, he added.

“Looking ahead, we are committed to double our snacks business in India. In fact, we have increased our investment in our new greenfield snacks plant in Uttar Pradesh from Rs 500 crore (US$ 68.48 million) to nearly Rs 814 crore (US$ 111.48 million), generating 1,500 direct/indirect jobs and enabling a local sourcing ecosystem,” Mr. ElSheikh said.

India’s consumption history has just begun, and India will be the third-largest consumption market by 2025, he said, according to industry reports.

The company expects an increased demand from categories such as snacks, juices, and other carbonated drinks as the festive season starts, powered by the feeling of celebration.

“From an FMCG point of view, the industry is seeing consumption revival, which we expect will only get better with further unlocking and the upcoming festive season,” Mr. ElSheikh said.

Mr. ElSheikh said ‘in-home use’ is experiencing a substantial uptake, reflecting on market patterns, and customers are finding comfort along with the value.

“As people adjust to the ‘new normal’, in-home consumption is witnessing a significant uptake. There is a growing demand for our larger packs as in-home occasions of togetherness have increased manifold. While the consumers are looking at in-home experiences and seeking convenience, they are also looking at value,” Mr. ElSheikh said.

He, however, said, “Today, affordability is key.”

In its beverage portfolio, PepsiCo has launched 1.25-litre PET packages at a very reasonable price of Rs 50 (US$ 0.68) to target ‘in-home consumption’ and has launched various combo packs in the food portfolio. Although it has also strategized price points in the smaller packs to satisfy both rural and urban

“With the Indian FMCG industry slowly showing signs of revival in COVID impacted the world, we have adapted quickly and re-strategized our price-pack programs, enhanced consumer engagement initiatives, and doubled down attention on both B2C and B2B distribution models to meet consumer demand,” he said.

Its profit after tax in FY 2019-20 rose to Rs 329 crore (US$ 45.06 million) from Rs 36 crore (US$ 4.93 million) in FY 2018-19, according to a recent RoC (registrar of companies) filing by PepsiCo India.

While its revenue was down 15.87 percent to Rs 5,264 crore (US$ 720.94 million) compared to Rs 6,257 crore (US$ 856.93 million) in FY 2018-19 due to the refranchising to its bottling partner Varun Beverages Ltd of the remaining bottling operations in the south and west India.

“PepsiCo India’s transformation journey remains on track — the third successive year of profit in FY 2019-20 which has been all about building ‘a faster, stronger, better company’ in India,” he said.

While its total volume of beverages increased during the 2019-20 fiscal year, its beverage revenue in the last quarter of March 2020 was lower due to refranchising and the effects of COVID-19. Due to strong growth in the Lays, Kurkure portfolio, and Doritos, its food revenue rose.

“Focus on the core brands yielded results with growth across the portfolio namely Lay’s & Kurkure portfolio, Lay’s Maxx, and Doritos. Similarly, Core brands drove beverage growth, led by Pepsi, Mountain Dew & Slice,” Mr. ElSheikh said.

In its global Q3 results last week, PepsiCo announced organic growth in sales in some international markets, including India.

“Within our international markets, developed market organic revenue growth increased 8 percent and outpaced developing and emerging markets which increased 2 percent,” PepsiCo’s chairman and CEO Mr. Ramon Laguarta had said on October 1, 2020.

Double-digit organic sales growth in France, Australia, and Brazil, high-single-digit growth in India and mid-single-digit growth in the UK, China and Russia are some notable highlights, he said.”

Flipkart, Walmart invest $30 million in Ninjacart

Source:- IBEF

“After China and the US, India will become the world’s third-largest economy by 2050, a report published in Lancet said. When India was the seventh-largest economy, the paper took 2017 as the base year. It said India will move towards being by 2030 the fourth-largest economy and by 2050 the third largest. Now, India is the world’s fifth-largest economy.

The research published in the medical journal reported that, in 2100, India would hold the same role. The result was obtained by converting the countries’ working-age population into GDP scenarios.

Although there would be a big decrease in the working-age population in China and India, the paper said, the latter would continue to hold the top spot. In countries like Nigeria, there will be a rise in the working-age population. By 2100, India, followed by Nigeria, China, and the USA, was forecast to still have the world’s largest working-age population. Despite fertility rates lower than the replacement level, immigration retained the US workforce in our reference scenario, it said.

Owing to a rise in immigration, countries such as Australia and Israel will increase in global rankings by GDP. Japan, which is also expected to see a sharp decrease in the working-age population, will remain the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2100.

The paper claimed that the rate of decline in fertility and slow population growth would be increased by access to contraceptives and continuing trends in female educational achievement. “In many countries, including China and India, a sustained TFR (total fertility rate) lower than the replacement level will have economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical implications. Policy options would be critical in the years to come to adjust to continued low fertility while preserving and improving female reproductive health.”

India has comparable aspirations, too. By 2025, the Modi government plans to put India’s economy to $5 trillion. The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown, however, have thrown a spanner into the works. India was facing an economic downturn well before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Gurugram-based SplashLearn launching its programs in Australia, Canada, UK

Source:- Economictimes

“SplashLearn, the popular game-based learning company that is headquartered in the US, with a corporate office in Gurugram, has announced the launch of its primary and early years Maths and Reading programs in Australia, Canada, and the UK.

Offering Maths to classes PreK to five and Reading to classes PreK to two, the program is made fully aligned to the local curriculum of the respective countries. The Maths program is available free of charge to all schools and teachers for use.

Over the last 10 years, SplashLearn has been used by more than 30 million children across 150+ countries. “Our game-based learning program is a step towards helping kids learn on their own. It creates a personalized learning path for each child and provides tools to their parents and teachers that allow them to track the child’s progress and address learning gaps,” said Arpit Jain, CEO, and co-founder of SplashLearn.

Talking about the timing of the launch, he said, “These countries have vibrant edtech sectors and together form our second largest customer base, so expansion to these countries was always on the cards. But we’re happy it’s at a time when we can provide assistance to schools and parents struggling with remote learning.”

PM delivers Keynote address at Invest India Conference in Canada

Source:- IBEF

“Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi delivered the keynote address at Invest India Conference in Canada through video conference today.

The Prime Minister said India is undisputedly the only country shining in all their investment parameters like having political stability, investment and business friendly policies, transparency in governance, skilled talent pool and a large market. He said there is an opportunity for everyone including Institutional Investors, manufacturers, supporters of innovation ecosystems and infrastructure companies.

The Prime Minister said in the post-Covid world, India showed resilience and emerged as a land of solutions to overcome various kinds of problems related to manufacturing, supply chains, etc. He added, despite disrupted logistics, money was directly delivered into bank accounts of over 400 million farmers, women, poor and needy people within a matter of days. He listed various initiatives taken by the Government to overcome the disruption owing to the pandemic and stressed that this shows the strength of governance structures and systems that have been built over the last few years.

The Prime Minister said while the entire country was in a stringent lockdown, India was providing medicine to around 150 countries and played the role of the pharmacy to the world. He added during March-June of this year, agricultural exports rose by 23%. He said before the pandemic, India hardly manufactured PPE kits but today not only does India manufacture millions of PPE kits every month, it exports them too. He committed to ramping up production and helping the entire world in vaccine production for Covid-19.

The Prime Minister explained how India’s story is growing stronger by listing the initiatives of the Government in creating a business-friendly environment. He listed initiatives like liberalizing the FDI regime, creating a friendly tax regime for Sovereign Wealth and Pension Funds, bringing significant reforms for developing a robust Bond market, Incentive schemes for Champion sectors. He said schemes in sectors like Pharma, Medical Devices and Electronics Manufacturing are already in operation. He added for ensuring high-level attention and effective hand-holding for investors, a dedicated Empowered Group of Secretaries has been formed. He emphasized proactive monetization of assets across sectors like Airports, Railways, Highways, Power Transmission lines, etc. He said Real Estate Investment Trusts and Infrastructure Investment Trusts have been fully enabled for monetization of both public and private assets.

The Prime Minister said today India is undergoing a rapid change in mindsets as well as markets. It has embarked on a journey of deregulation and decriminalization of various offences under the companies act. He said India has risen from 81 to 48 in the Global Innovation Index rankings and risen from 142 to 63 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in the last 5 years.

The Prime Minister said due to these improvements, India received around USD 70 Billion from Institutional Investors between January 2019 to July 2020. This is almost equal to that received in four years between 2013 and 2017. He stressed that continuing confidence of the global investor community in India is seen by the fact that FDI into India went up by 20% in 2019 when global FDI inflows fell by 1%.

The Prime Minister said India has already received over USD 20 Billion during the first 6 months of this year from across the globe when Covid-19 has been at peak globally. He said India has adopted a unique approach posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He said relief and stimulus packages were given to the poor and the small businesses and at the same time this opportunity to undertake structural reforms which will ensure more productivity and prosperity.

The Prime Minister said India has undertaken a trinity of reforms in the field of education, labour and agriculture. Together, they impact almost every Indian. He said India has ensured reforms of old laws in the field of labour and agriculture. They ensure greater participation of the private sector while also strengthening the government’s safety nets and will lead to a win-win situation for entrepreneurs as well as for our hard-working people. He said the reforms in the field of education will further harness the talent of our youth and have set the stage for more foreign universities to come to India.

The Prime Minister said the reforms in the labour laws greatly reduce the number of Labour codes and are both employee and employer friendly and will further increase ease of doing business. He added the reforms in the field of agriculture are far-reaching and will not only give more choice to farmers but will boost exports. He said these reforms will support our efforts to build an AatmaNirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India and by working towards self-reliance, we seek to contribute to global good and prosperity. He highlighted that India is the place to partner in the field of education, to invest in manufacturing or services and to collaborate in the field of agriculture.

The Prime Minister said India-Canada bilateral ties are driven by shared democratic values and many common interests. He said the trade and investment linkages between us are integral to our multifaceted relationship. He highlighted that Canada is home to some of the largest and most experienced infrastructure investors. He said Canadian Pension Funds were the first ones to start investing directly in India. Many of them have already discovered great opportunities in a range of areas like highways, airports, logistics, telecom and real estate. He said Mature Canadian investors who have been in India for many years now can be our best brand ambassadors. Their experience, their plan to expand and diversify can be the most credible evidence for other Canadian investors to come here too. He promised no barriers for the Canadian investors in India.”

Australian investment funds see opportunities in India

Source:- Thehindubusinessline

“Look at growing demand for infrastructure here
Prominent Australian large investment funds are looking to invest in India, Australian High Commission in India said here on Thursday. The funds include several of the country’s big pension funds and the Future Fund (independently managed sovereign wealth fund).

The funds together manage assets of more than ₹38 lakh crore (A$736 billion)

This statement came after virtual meetings between representatives of Australian funds with India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) to explore investment opportunities here.

“In responding to the economic challenges of Covid-19, we have seen India adopt fundamental reforms that have opened up its sectors to new investment,” Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell AO, said while adding that despite the pandemic, there are real opportunities for investors in India.

Australia-India two-way investment flows have doubled in the last five years to reach ₹1.6 lakh crore (A$30.7 billion) in 2019, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“There will be high growth in demand for infrastructure as India looks to support its economic recovery, presenting opportunities for Australian investors,” O’Farrell said.

According to the Willis Towers Watson Global Pensions Asset Study, Australia finished 2019 with the world’s fourth-largest pension market in the world, valued at ₹150 lakh crore (A$2.95 trillion).

Australia, India ties
Organized by the Australian Government and the NIIF, the virtual delegation follows in-person tours to New Delhi and Mumbai in 2018 and 2019 facilitated by the Australian Government. The virtual delegation delivers on a commitment made in June between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison, when they elevated Australia-India ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, to raise awareness among Australian funds of the opportunities in India’s infrastructure sector with the NIIF.

Australian investors also heard from representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Confederation of Indian Industry on how recent policy reforms enable greater ease-of-doing-business in India.

“While Australian investors will make their own commercial decisions, increasing Australian investment stocks in India deepens our economic integration. The Australian High Commission is happy to support knowledge and network building among investors,” O’Farrell said. He said Australian funds are attracted by the NIIF’s model, which benefits from association with the Indian Government yet is independent in its investment decisions.

In August 2019, Australian Super, Australia’s largest superannuation fund, signed an agreement for investment up to $1 billion with the NIIF Master Fund. The agreement included $250 million in the Master Fund and co-investment rights of up to $750 million to build up to $750 million of transport, energy and urban infrastructure.”

With 41 million real-time transactions a day, India leads the world: Report

Source:- IBEF

“Thanks to the pandemic, with 41 million transactions a day, the country has been the world leader in real-time financial transactions, more than double that of the previous year, according to an international survey.

India has doubled its daily real-time transactions to 41 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest FIS survey, which is a leading provider of technology solutions for retailers, banks and capital markets companies worldwide.

According to a study released on Wednesday, six other countries have also seen their real-time payment transactions more than double year-over-year, while four have seen at least a two-fold rise in the volume of their transactions.

But in terms of growth rate, Bahrain tops the list with 657% growth, followed by a 488% clip in Ghana, a 309% rise in the Philippines, 214% in Australia, and 208% in Poland.

According to the survey, India ‘s growth was 213%, managing 41 million transactions a day.

India leads global real-time payments, handling 41 million real-time transactions every day, more than any other nation in the world, “”the report says, adding that with the launch of comprehensive real-time rail business services, including IPO subscriptions, mandate management, and invoice-in-the-box, the country continues to innovate.””

The highest number of real-time transactions per capita was recorded by South Korea, with 75 transactions processed annually. In the US, real-time payments are currently being introduced by over 130 financial institutions, a five-fold rise since September 2019.

The pan-European Sepa Credit Transfer Instant Payments Network, which brings cross-border and instant payments to 20 countries, has been joined by over half (56%) of all European payments service providers.

Since last year, Vietnam and Hungary have been introducing real-time payment networks, taking the total number of countries with such systems to 56.

According to FIS, the Request for Payment (R2P), cross-border payments and business-to – business corporate treasury payments are driving the global adoption of real-time payment networks. R2P systems give individuals, enterprises and governments a simple and versatile way to request a third-party payment.

In 24 countries, including Australia, Britain, China, India, and the US, FIS facilitates real-time payments worldwide and handles instant transactions.

Mr Raja Gopalakrishnan, the head of global real-time payments at FIS, said: “”The current pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of quickly getting funds, whether for individuals or businesses.”””

Torrent Gas to invest Rs 8,000 cr in city gas business, set up 500 CNG pumps

Source:- IBEF

“On Tuesday, Torrent Gas Ltd said it will spend Rs 8,000 crore (US$ 1.1 billion) over the next five years to expand its urban gas operations with the aim of setting up 500 CNG dispensing pumps by March 2023.

Torrent Gas, the $3 billion Gujarat-based Torrent Group’s city gas distribution arm, holds a city gas licence for the sale of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and piped cooking gas (PNG) to factories and kitchens in 32 districts across seven states.

Torrent Gas set up 100 CNG pumps within 18 months of its operations, its owner, Mr Jinal Mehta, said at a virtual event organised to announce the commissioning of 42 CNG stations.

This commissioning, he said, brought the number of CNG stations to 100 under the Torrent fold.

Mr Mehta said, “”Torrent Gas intends to make a total investment of Rs 8,000 crore ($1.1 billion) over the next 5 years towards the creation of CGD infrastructure in the country, of which Rs 1,050 crore (US$ 143.45 million) has already been invested””.

Torrent Gas was able to set up 100 CNG stations within a reasonably short period of time, considering the constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Mehta said, “”We are now working towards our near-term goal of setting up 200 CNG stations by March 2021 and medium-term goal of setting up 500 CNG stations by March 2023, apart from making PNG widely available to industries and residences in our authorised areas””.

City gas distribution projects are crucial to achieving the vision of the government to increase the share of natural gas in the energy basket from the current 6.2 percent to 15 percent by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions.

Oil Minister Mr Dharmendra Pradhan, speaking on the occasion, said CNG pumps should look to become energy suppliers by also selling conventional fuels such as petrol and diesel alongside alternatives such as biogas and LNG.

He said the government wants to increase the country’s number of CNG stations from about 2,300 at present to 10,000 over the next four to five years. The CNG stations commissioned on Tuesday are located across different states, including 14 in Uttar Pradesh, eight in Maharashtra, six in Gujarat, four in Punjab and five in Telangana and Rajasthan, respectively. In addition, City Gate Stations have also been commissioned in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.

Mr Mehta said Torrent plans to make CNG and PNG accessible in Chennai, the only metro city that has yet to be reached by CNG and PNG.

A crucial step towards energy sufficiency and meeting India ‘s commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions is the availability of clean and economical CNG and PNG across the world.

A crucial step towards energy sufficiency and meeting India ‘s commitment under the Paris Agreement is the availability of clean and economical CNG and PNG across the country.”

Aequs to invest Rs 3,500 crore to set up consumer electronics cluster in Karnataka

Source:- IBEF

“On Tuesday, the Karnataka government approved Aequs SEZ Private Limited’s Rs 3540 crore (US$ 483.64 million) investment to establish a cluster of consumer electronics and durable goods (CEDG) in Hubballi, about 430 kilometres from Bengaluru.

At the State High Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC), chaired by the Karnataka chief minister, Mr B S Yediyurappa, the investment was approved.

In line with the Atmanirbhar or self-reliance initiative of Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi-led Union government, this is India’s first sector-specific investment, the state government and Aequs said.

The investment is expected to create about 20,000 jobs and the company has applied for the allocation and acquisition of 400-acre land in Ittigatti Village in Dharwad by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB), a senior government official said seeking anonymity.

The planned industrial unit would, as planned, consist of storage facilities, a distribution facility, a skills growth centre and other support services.

In Karnataka, the sealing of the investment comes at a time when the state has been seeking industries and other companies to set up shop in the cash-hungry southern state and help bring in new and much-needed capital inflows to help revive its fledgling finances.

Mr Aravind Melligeri, Chairman & chief executive officer of Aequs Inc said in a statement to Mint, “”CEDG will be globally competitive and a self-sustained ecosystem, generating employment, creating significant opportunities for the region, and nurturing the country’s manufacturing potential. This campus will be spread across 400 acres with benefits of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Domestic Tariff Area (DTA)””.

The CEDG is expanding the Aequs footprint in Karnataka, where a production SEZ in Belagavi is already running, as well as a key stakeholder in the growth of the toys cluster in Koppal.

The company has investments in India, the USA and France in precision engineering, aerospace and allied industries.

The distress in Karnataka ‘s economy has been added to by revenue deficiencies due to the reduction in goods and services tax (GST) compensation, financial effect due to covid-19 induced lockdown, heavy rain related damage and other factors. In line with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled government at the centre, the Karnataka government has proposed changing labour, land and industrial laws to bring in more investors into the country.

According to officials, the SHLCC, held on 30 September, cleared six investment proposals worth around Rs 15,045 crores (US$ 2.06 billion) that have the potential to create 21028 new jobs.

The government of Karnataka is proactively seeking developers, but due to endless delays in clearances and obstacles to land acquisition, it has had trouble converting plans into real investments.

State government data shows that delays in ironing out long winding issues on land availability for industries cost Karnataka an opportunity to transform investments totalling over Rs 39,000 crore (US$ 5.33 billion) and a chance to generate over 80,000 jobs between 2013 and 2019.

Of the total of 142 proposals, totalling Rs 49,379.13 crore (US$ 6.75 billion), approved between 2013 and 2019 pursuant to section 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act for the establishment of new projects or existing manufacturing units in sectors such as automobiles, textiles, mines, among others, over 90 remain non-starters, including 23 which, according to government data, have been fully abandoned.”

IBM to set up centre of excellence for AI in partnership with GeM

Source:- IBEF

“In collaboration with Government e-Marketplace, IBM will set up a center of excellence for artificial intelligence (AI) in India, a top official of the firm said.

IBM CEO Mr. Arvind Krishna said at RAISE 2020 summit, “I am happy to announce we are creating an AI center of excellence in partnership with Government e-marketplace (GeM). Our goal is to apply the power of AI to improve usability and transparency and drive efficiency in cost saving in public procurement”.

According to studies conducted by Accenture, AI can increase India’s annual growth rate by 1.3 percentage points and add USD 957 billion to India’s economy by 2035.

More than 38,700 stakeholders from academia, the science industry, and government representatives from 125 countries have registered to participate in RAISE 2020, according to official data.

The National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (NSAI) highlighted the ability of AI to increase India’s annual growth rate by 1.3 percentage points by 2035 and established priority sectors funded by the government for the implementation of AI.”

India, US, Japan and Australia’s Quad: A comprehensive regional construct

Source:- Financialexpress

“Developments over the last few months in the Indo-Pacific as a result of the economic and security fallout of the pandemic and China’s criminal withholding of information about it leading to its spread across geographies were further aggravated by China’s subsequent effort to exploit the vulnerabilities thus created to its advantage.
In a rare departure from the existing precautionary protocols of virtual Summits due to the COVID pandemic, the physical meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the four nations that comprise the QUAD(Australia, India, Japan and the United States of America) over the next two days in Tokyo assumes significance for many reasons. Developments over the last few months in the Indo-Pacific as a result of the economic and security fallout of the pandemic and China’s criminal withholding of information about it leading to its spread across geographies were further aggravated by China’s subsequent effort to exploit the vulnerabilities thus created to its advantage. Its military belligerence across the land border with India in the high Himalayas, ratcheting up the tension with the US in the South China Sea, intimidation of Taiwan and its rabid denouncing of Australia’s and Japan’s attempts to free themselves of Chinese business shackles besides its aggressive actions against some of the ASEAN members have disturbed the fragile security environment in the entire region. This has resulted in a wave of anti-China sentiment across the world and specifically in this region, the vehemence of which has probably even taken China and its megalomanic leader Xi Jinping by surprise.
China, as is its wont, had sought to take advantage of a global vulnerability caused by countries grappling to contain the spread of the pandemic but now finds itself on the back foot and vulnerable. This is perhaps the right opportunity for the Quad countries to wrest back the initiative collectively (in addition to their individual efforts) through an inclusive developmental agenda centred on security and economic capacity building and capability enhancement which can effectively counter the Chinese predatory model of economic support. Countries like France, Germany and the UK have also developed their Indo-Pacific strategy towards supporting the existing rules-based international order and a Free and Open Indo-Pacific for the safe passage of global commerce, a critical imperative in this era of globalisation and trade dependencies.”

Best time to invest in Pharma & Medical device sector in India; likely to grow to 65-billion-dollar industry by 2024: Shri Gowda

Source:- IBEF

“Union minister For Chemicals and Fertilizers, Shri Gowda has said that this is the best time to invest in Pharma & Medical device sector in India as It is likely to grow into a 65-billion-dollar industry by 2024 to 120 billion dollars by 2030.

Shri Gowda was addressing the Inaugural Session of “CII Life Science Conclave 2020”, in New Delhi yesterday.

He said business-friendly reforms carried out by Government have helped India to emerge as one of the best investment destinations among emerging economies. Implementation of policies to promote financial inclusion and to check corruption and easing of compliance of labor laws & regulations has made India the best destination for investment.In 2018-19, India attracted FDI inflows of 73 billion dollars, up 18 % from the previous year. Especially mentioning the pharma and medical device sector, he said, this is the most opportune time to invest in this sector in India as It is likely to grow into a 65-billion-dollar industry by 2024 to 120 billion dollars by 2030.

Union minister said the Indian pharma and medical device sector have immense potential to contribute towards making India a 5 trillion-dollar economy in the next 4-5 years. The Medical Devices industry in India has the potential to grow at 28% per annum to reach the US $ 50 Billion by 2025. In this backdrop, the Indian Government is supporting the development of three Bulk Drugs and four Medical Device Parks with State of Art Infrastructure and world-class Centres of Excellence across the country. The government will also provide Production Linked Incentives (PLI) to eligible new manufacturing units to ensure a level playing field to domestic manufacturers.

Highlighting the contribution of the pharma industry during this testing time of the covid-19 crisis he said that the Indian pharma and medical devices industry was able to rise to the occasion. The crisis is being turned into opportunities by supporting the development of mega bulk drug and medical device parks through a mix of the right policies. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji himself has been personally involved in this, right from the initial stage of conception. It is expected that these schemes of the Union Government for the development of bulk drug & medical device parks will attract cumulative investment of Rs 78000 crore (US$ 10.60 billion) and can generate about 2.5 lakh employment.

He said it is a matter of great pride for millions of Indians that from being a net importer, India became the second-largest producer of PPE Kits in the world with daily production capacity surpassing more than 5 lakh per day. Similarly, within a very short span of time, the indigenous production capacity of ventilators has increased to 3 lakhs per annum. We have also achieved self-sufficiency in the production of N-95 masks

Shri Gowda said that there is a need for the pharma industry to focus on R & D activities to remain as one of the leading global suppliers of medicines. The full potential of growth cannot be fully tapped unless we come up with the discovery of a new drug or repurposing in India. He expressed hope that the Indian pharma sector will be among the first ones to develop and supply low-cost vaccines for covid-19.

He appreciated the efforts of the CII Life Sciences conclave for providing the necessary platform for stakeholders across the world to converge and embed their ideas to help usher in a new era of competitiveness of the Indian pharma segment in the post-COVID-19 world.

Shri P D Vaghela Ji, outgoing Secretary & new TRAI Chairman, Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, D/o Biotechnology, Dr. V G Somani, Drugs Controller General of India, Ms. Samina Hamied, Executive Vice Chairperson, CIPLA Ltd, Dr. Rajesh Jain, Chairman, CII Biotechnology Committee, Shri G V Prasad, Chairman, CII Committee on Pharma, Shri Vivek Kamath, Vice Chairman, CII Committee on Pharma and Captains of Industry were present on this occasion.”

General Atlantic to invest Rs 3,675 crore in Reliance Retail

Source:- IBEF

“On Wednesday, Reliance Industries Limited and Reliance Retail Ventures Limited announced that General Atlantic would invest Rs 3,675 crore (US$ 498.58 million) in RRVL, a Reliance Industries subsidiary. At a pre-money equity valuation of Rs 4.285 lakh crore (US$ 58.13 billion), this investment values Reliance Retail. The investment by General Atlantic would translate on a completely diluted basis into a 0.84 percent equity interest in RRVL.

This marks General Atlantic’s second investment in a Reliance Industries subsidiary, following a RS 6,598.38 crore (US$ 895.18 million) investment in Jio Platforms announced earlier this year.

In the past few weeks, Reliance Retail raised a combined Rs 13,050 crore (US$ 1.77 billion) from private equity company Silver Lake Partners and US buyout company KKR & Co in exchange for 1.75% and 1.28% stakes, respectively.

Mr. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said, “I am pleased to extend our relationship with General Atlantic as we work towards empowering both merchants and consumers alike, and ultimately transforming Indian Retail. Like Reliance Retail, General Atlantic believes in the fundamental ability of digital enablement to drive progress, growth, and inclusion across India and the world. We look forward to leveraging General Atlantic’s extensive expertise at the intersection of technology and consumer businesses, and two decades of experience investing in India, as we create a disruptive New Commerce platform to redefine retail in the country.”

Mr. Bill Ford, Chief Executive Officer of General Atlantic, said, “General Atlantic is thrilled to be backing Mukesh’s New Commerce mission to drive substantial positive change in the country’s retail sector, which goes together with his vision to enable a Digital India through the work of Jio Platforms. General Atlantic shares Reliance Industries’ foundational belief in the power of technology to foster transformative growth, and we are excited by the immense potential of the full Reliance ecosystem. We are honored to again be partnering with the Reliance team to meaningfully accelerate India’s position in the global digital economy.”

With approximately 12,000 outlets, Reliance is India’s biggest retailer and has been looking to expand its so-called new e-commerce venture as it vies for market share in India’s rising retail space.

Morgan Stanley was Reliance Retail’s financial advisor, and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas and Davis Polk & Wardwell were legal advisors. For General Atlantic, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as legal counsel.”

India’s AI spending to grow at 30.8% CAGR to USD 880.5 million in 2023: IDC

Source:- IBEF

“Research firm IDC said on Wednesday that India’s AI (artificial intelligence) investment is projected to rise at a CAGR of 30.8 percent to cross USD 880.5 million (around Rs 6,490.6 cr) in 2023.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Artificial Intelligence Spending Guide Forecast, “”Enterprises are relying on AI to maintain business continuity, transform how businesses operate and gain competitive advantage. India’s AI spending will grow from USD 300.7 million in 2019 to USD 880.5 million in 2023 at a CAGR (Compound annual growth rate) of 30.8 per cent””.

Ms Rishu Sharma, Principal Analyst (Cloud and AI) at IDC in India, stated that COVID-19 is pushing the boundaries of organisations’ AI lens.

She said, “”Businesses are considering investments in intelligent solutions to tackle issues associated with business continuity, labor shortage, and workspace monitoring. Organisations are now realising that their business plans must be closely aligned with their AI strategies””.

The study cited the 2019 Cognitive AI Adoption Survey from IDC to claim that approximately 20 percent of companies are still designing AI strategies to pursue new companies and projects.

Trustworthiness of data and difficulty in choosing the right algorithm are some of the key difficulties that discourage organisations from adopting AI technology.

Complex AI algorithms are powering the spectrum of industry-specific tech solutions funded by emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, blockchain, etc., and are cloud-enabled to achieve their full potential.

Mr Ashutosh Bisht, Senior Research Manager for IDC ‘s Customer Insights and Analysis division, said that in India, BFSI and manufacturing verticals are the two largest AI spenders in different use cases, accounting for almost 37 percent of AI spending in 2019.

He added that more than 60 percent of AI applications will be migrated to the cloud by 2024 with the quick adoption of cloud technology in India.”

India’s Media, Entertainment Segment To Reach Rs 1,86,600 Cr Revenue In FY22: Report

Source:- IBEF

“According to a survey, the media and entertainment industry, which was badly affected by the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to recover to reach a revenue of Rs 1,86,600 crore (US$ 25.32 billion) in 2021-22, owing to the acceleration of digital adoption among users across geographies.

KPMG in India Partner and Head (Media and Entertainment), Mr Girish Menon stated that the sector should recover and post a 33 per cent growth in 2021-22, following a contraction of 20 per cent in 2020-21, which still implies a loss of around two years of growth, said

He quoted the ‘A year off script: Time for resilience’ KPMG Media and Entertainment (M&E) report, which explores the performance of the M&E sector during a particularly challenging period.

He stated that India’s continued economic growth and the uniform acceleration of digital adoption by users across geographies, are the two areas that offer encouragement.

He added, ‘As per our revised estimates, India could be home to a billion digital users by 2028 rather than the earlier projected 2030 timeline’.

Menon added that due to the experience of the lockout, there have been many systemic improvements to digital behaviour, resulting in a new homogeneity between users. It is our hope that many of these improvements will translate inside the country into a more democratic and sophisticated digital citizen.’ The overall revenue of the industry during 2019-20 was Rs 1,75,100 crore (US$ 23.76 billion), according to the report, which is expected to contract to Rs 1,40,200 crore (US$ 19.02 billion) during the current financial year and recover to Rs 1,86,600 crore (US$ 25.32 billion) in 2021-22.

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, India was already facing a slowdown in economic activity, and the onset of the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown dealt a serious blow to the Indian economy, the study said.

The M&E industry has been affected, albeit to varying degrees, such as outdoor entertainment formats (films and events) and conventional media (to some extent print and TV) have been badly affected as people stayed indoors and dried up advertising spending, it said.

Digital advertising spending is now expected to exceed TV spending by 2020-21, which is a major milestone and turning point in India ‘s growth of media and entertainment, the report said.

KPMG in India Partner and Head (Technology, Media and Telecom) Mr Satya Easwaran added, ‘The distinction among segments of M&E has become more pronounced with the lockdown. Marketing spend has moved perceptibly towards digital media and away from traditional segments like print, radio and to some extent TV’.

Mr Easwaran added that for these conventional media segments, a greater dependence on subscription and other paying alternatives, as well as the creation of a viable digital business model, would be unavoidable.”

Start-up hub! Indian start-ups attracted $63 billion investment between 2016 to H1 2020

Source:- Financialexpress

“Some players have acquired the status of a unicorn without using even $1 billion of capital. While funds have flowed into the food delivery and ed-tech spaces this year, 2019 saw a staggering $20 billion invested, across 1,854 deals.

India’s start-up ecosystem has attracted $63 billion between 2016 and H12020, making it the world’s third-largest tech start-up hub. With close to 35 unicorns now, the country now boasts a bunch of businesses that are expected to thrive and survive.

Players such as Paytm, Byju’s, Swiggy, Zomato, and OYO have each received more than $1 billion from investors, some more than $2 billion, and are among the success stories. Some players have acquired the status of a unicorn without using even $1 billion of capital. While funds have flowed into the food delivery and ed-tech spaces this year, 2019 saw a staggering $20 billion invested, across 1,854 deals.

Cumulatively, the valuation of start-ups that were launched between 2014 and 2019 has touched a little over $60 billion, the report showed. “E-commerce and tech start-ups have shown resilience during Covid fundamentally altering their unit economics to become more sustainable,” Madhur Singhal, MD, Praxis Global Alliance, said.

The data was collated by Praxis and Indian Private Equity & Venture Capital Association.”

Airtel And Radware Partner to Offer Cloud Security Services to Businesses in India

Source:- IBEF

“Radware, a leading provider of solutions for cybersecurity and application delivery, and Bharti Airtel (‘Airtel’), the largest integrated telco in India, today announced a collaboration under which Airtel will provide enterprise customers with Radware’s Cloud DDoS Protection, Cloud WAF, and Bot Manager cloud security services.

Traffic from Airtel customers will be secured as part of the agreement through a new India-based scrubbing service center, which is hosted by Nxtra Data from Airtel.

Ms. Harmeen Mehta, CIO & Head of Cloud and Security business, Bharti Airtel said, “As businesses undergo digital transformation, their security requirements are also evolving given the ever-changing, increasingly complex threats. We are delighted to partner with Radware and offer their solutions to customers in India as part of our Airtel Secure portfolio. We are also happy to host Radware’s new scrubbing center in India and the facility will bring new security capabilities to customers in the region.”

Mr. Roy Zisapel, President and Chief Executive Officer for Radware, said, “Airtel serves businesses as an ISP, a data center operator, a mobile and telecom operator, and a managed security service provider, making them an ideal partner for us. Airtel’s comprehensive services and global customer footprint necessitate cloud security solutions that give their customers the flexibility, scalability, and visibility they need to grow and protect their businesses, no matter where they are. The partnership is a natural fit.”

By offering visibility, optimization, agility, scalability, protection, and control to efficiently manage IP services for Telecom Providers, Cable Multiple Systems Operators (MSOs), and Cloud Providers, Radware applications for service providers turn carrier networks into more service-aware, resilient and cost-effective networks for their enterprise clients.

With its integrated solutions, Airtel serves over one million businesses in India and is the largest player in the enterprise connectivity market.”

B2B tech startups driving tech adoption in India: NetApp Zinnov study

Source:- IBEF

“There are over 4,200 Business to Business (B2B) tech new businesses in India, 63 percent of which, according to a study by NetApp and Zinnov, are taking a shot at big business innovation in the BFSI, medical care, retail and car verticals.

The report, Leveraging Start-Ups to Unlock Digital Opportunities in Large Industries, found that B2B tech organizations are around 44 percent of all new firms, and 43 percent of Indian unicorns are new B2B tech companies. A unicorn is a company with an over $1 billion valuation.

About 24 percent of new B2B companies operate in cutting-edge innovation regions such as AI, blockchain, and IoT and drive cutting-edge technology selection in Indian endeavors.

Mr. Ravi Chhabria, VP, and overseeing chief, NetApp India said, “Big data, analytics, AI, and ML are advanced technologies in focus for B2B startups. Enterprises in every industry want to gain the first-mover advantage using the power of these technologies. Today’s infrastructure investments mark a clear preference for technology providing business-relevant solutions that can be adopted across the value chain”.

Over 415 new B2B tech companies secured a $3 billion cumulative value subsidy with a two-fold increase in usual financing. An expansion of cloud-conceived new businesses that are using trend-setting innovation to unravel new use cases across companies is a key driver of this growth.

Mr. Pari Natarajan, CEO, Zinnov said, “The global digital engineering spends, which is expected to reach $750 billion by 2023, underscores the trend of accelerating enterprise digital transformation and creates a massive opportunity to be capitalized on. As companies rethink resilience, forge newer partnerships, and leverage the external ecosystem, new-age infrastructure becomes critical”.”

India, Australia Discuss Cooperation In Energy Sector

Source:- BusinessWorld

“New Delhi [India]: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan held a meeting with Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell on Wednesday and discussed about Australian companies actively partnering and investing in India’s gas infrastructure and in developing the hydrocarbon value chain in the country.
They discussed several aspects of cooperation in the energy sector, which are integral to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry said in a tweet.
“They discussed about the participation of Australian companies to actively partner and invest in India’s gas infrastructure and in developing the hydrocarbon value chain in India,” it said.
Pradhan reviewed the supplies of coking coal, LNG, and other energy supplies from Australia.
“O’Farrell assured Australia of being a strong partner in this context, and the need for working together to ensure secure and reliable supply chains, and in this context referred to the QUAD meeting at Foreign Ministers’ level next month in Japan,” the ministry said. (ANI)”

ITI will be able to produce 4G, 5G equipment in a few months: Tech Mahindra

Source:- IBEF

“IT company Tech Mahindra is in advance of sharing technology with ITI Limited, and in a few months, a senior official of the Mahindra group company said, the state-run electronics manufacturing organisation will be able to manufacture 4 G and 5 G equipment.

Tech Mahindra Network Services CEO Mr Manish Vyas told PTI that the country’s ability to generate talent and software on a large scale, coupled with China’s geo-political scenario, poses a wonderful opportunity for India to indigenize technologies.

In June, the company signed an agreement to develop 4 G and 5 G technologies with ITI Limited.

Mr Vyas said, “”We are in the stages of exchanging design, starting to plan and also doing a couple of test runs and trials based on the technology that they are looking to manufacture. Pretty advanced stages, it’s not something that will take years but months for them to start doing it and of course, it depends on how quickly they start winning business in this area””.

He stated that the technology exchange partnership with ITI is in line with the strong desire of the government to bring the state-run business back to manufacturing high-end technology goods.

He further said, “”We are going to be helping them with the reference design with the transfer of technology that will enable them to put together the process and the plans to start manufacturing the radio units which are very specific to both 4G and 5G going forward, to an architecture which is an open source, open radio access network-based architecture””.

Under government law, ITI earns a certain quota to include equipment that can be installed in the BSNL and MTNL network of public sector telecom companies.

ITI has also secured a $7,796 crore contract for the Defence sector to develop communication networks.

Mr Vyas stated that it would be a great opportunity for them and other Indian producers to bring ITI back into high-end manufacturing.

He added, “”This (India) market will require hundreds of thousands of radio units in the next few years globally. Millions I would say, and it will require a facility that people can trust, a country that people can trust, in terms of security from a data standpoint, I think it’s a wonderful job. Our partnership is built around enabling them to be able to get back to manufacturing and to seize this moment and opportunity””.

Tech Mahindra is already collaborating with Rakuten Mobile of Japan on 5 G technology development.

Mr Vyas stated that the organisation would not enter directly into the manufacture of telecom equipment but will assist companies worldwide in the growth of their network gears.

He said, “”Tech Mahindra today works for every single major telecom firm outside China. Every single major service provider anywhere in the world, in every country that we care for, in the sense we operate in, in Africa and Latin America, in Europe and Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Japan, America, Canada. It gives us an opportunity to participate with 150 operators globally. The world of opportunity exists for us across the board””.

He further stated that in most of the countries where Tech Mahindra operates, all the top three or four service providers are its clients.”

India working with Japan, Australia for global supply-chain diversification: PM Modi to Denmark PM during summit

Source:- Economictimes

New Delhi: India and Denmark share rules-based, transparent, humanitarian and democratic value-system and the events of past few months have made it clear how important it is for like-minded countries to work together, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.

The Prime Minister, who took part in a virtual summit with Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, did not name any country and said COVID-19 has shown that it is risky to have global supply chains dependent on a single source.

He said India is working with Japan and Australia for supply-chain diversification and resilience and other like-minded countries can also join in this effort.

COVID-19 originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and many companies are planning to shift their manufacturing bases from China.

“The events of the past few months have made it clear that how important it is for like-minded countries, who share rules-based, transparent, humanitarian and democratic value-system, to work together,” the Prime Minister said.

“COVID-19 has shown that it is risky to rely excessively on any single source of global supply chains. We are working together with Japan and Australia for supply-chain diversification and resilience. Other like-minded countries can also join this effort,” he added.

The Prime Minister said that the virtual summit will not only be useful for bilateral relations between India and Denmark but also in contributing to a shared approach to global challenges.

Noting that he had a “very productive meeting with Denmark’s Prime Minister a few months back, the Prime Minister said they talked on increasing cooperation between the two countries in several areas.

“It is a matter of happiness that we are giving new direction and speed to these intentions through the virtual summit,” he said.

India hosted the virtual bilateral summit

Bilateral trade in goods and services between India and Denmark has grown by 30.49 per cent, from US$ 2.82 billion in 2016 to US$ 3.68 billion in 2019.

Around 200 Danish companies have invested in India in sectors such as shipping, renewable energy, environment, agriculture, food processing and smart urban development.

PM Modi’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ important initiative: IMF

Source:- IBEF

“Calling for an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi is a significant initiative, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday.

Mr Gerry Rice, Director, Communications Department, IMF, said, “The economic package under this self-reliant India initiative, which was announced in the aftermath of the coronavirus shock, has supported the Indian economy and mitigated significant downside risks, so we do see that initiative as having been important”.

Looking ahead, as the Prime Minister said, for India to play a greater role in the global economy, it is important to follow policies that stimulate the economy by improving productivity and competitiveness, he said, referring to a query on Modi’s call for an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat.’

Mr Rice said, “To achieve the stated ‘Make For The World’ goal in India, the priority is to remain focussed on policies that can help further integrate India in the global value chain, including through trade, investment and technology”.

In response to another issue, the IMF’s joint study with NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Finance showed that India would have to steadily increase its overall investment in the healthcare sector from the current 3.7% of GDP to achieve high performance in health-related sustainable development objectives.

Mr. Rice stated, “More generally, beyond the health sector, comprehensive structural reforms are needed to achieve more inclusive and sustainable medium-term growth. We have talked about those reforms before — infrastructure, land reforms, product market and labour market reforms, increasing female labour force participation, access to finance and better jobs”.”

Online grocery to become $18 billion industry in India by 2024: Report

Source:- IBEF

“A new report said on Friday that online food is going to be the next battlefield for growth, growing to over $18 billion by 2024, as businesses from Reliance to Amazon put their top dollar at your doorstep in serving regular groceries.

According to a joint initiative study by Bengaluru-based market research company RedSeer and Bigbasket (Brand Intelligence), led by the substantial increase in organic adoption during Covid-19, eGrocery in June this year saw an increase in gross merchandise value (GMV) of 1.7 times compared to January.

For the rest of the year, online groceries will remain steady to hit more than $3 billion, the study noted.

Mr. Hari Menon, co-founder, and CEO of BigBasket said, “The industry has seen more than 70 percent ARR (annual recurring revenue) jumps in the last quarter across categories. This brings the opportunity to serve a larger set of customers and some challenges with it”.

The report found that after the pandemic, demand for comfort foods such as noodles and cookies, immunity boosters such as lemon, and hygiene items such as sanitizers picked up while essentials stayed high.

Pre-Covid snacks and branded foods rose 5 percent quarterly, but growth in the June quarter soared to 75 percent.

Biscuits and cookies were the largest sub-category of snacks and advertised foods and developed the most in Q2.

Pre-Covid beverages rose by 2 percent quarterly, but growth in Q2 soared to 50 percent.

Mr. Anil Kumar, founder, and CEO of consulting firm RedSeer said, “Personal Care grew by 5 percent quarterly pre-Covid but jumped to 24 percent in Q2 due to Covid. We have observed that traditional brands which pivoted quickly to be digitally ready brands have seen a 2x+ jump in sales compared to offline brands. We are excited to have this opportunity to serve the ecosystem”.

Pre-Covid home utilities rose by 6 percent quarterly, but in Q2 they jumped to 11 percent.

Within home services, the largest sub-category was detergents and dishwash, but in the last quarter, it increased the least.

Home services have not been seriously impacted by the pandemic, according to the report.”

“Biotechnology sector is recognized as the key driver for contributing to India’s $ 5 Trillion economy target by 2024” – Dr Harsh Vardhan

Source:- IBEF

“Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has been established by Government of India as a Public-Sector Enterprise under Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in March 2012 to foster and nurture the Startup Ecosystem and promoting Academia –Industry Collaboration in Biotechnology.

BIRAC, through its various funding schemes, supports all stages of product development right from proof-of-concept demonstration to product commercialization. The schemes support entrepreneurs, start-ups, Companies and academic institutions, to work on research ideas that have translational potential. The details of Programs undertaken and their output during the last three years and the current year including funds allocated may please be seen at Annexure – A.

The Department of Biotechnology has a major focus on the promotion of Biotechnology through Research & Development and in terms of Human Resource and Infrastructure Development. The key areas of support are Research and Development, Demonstration, Product Development and Commercialization, Capacity building through Human Resource Development, and Infrastructure strengthening.

DBT’s major focus is on building the Centre of Excellence in different areas. DBT also has 16 Autonomous Institutions under its administrative control with a focus on promoting and strengthening Biotechnology through national and international partnerships. The key activities supported under Human Resource and Infrastructure are enlisted below.

The biotechnology sector is recognized as the key driver for contributing to India’s $ 5 Trillion economy target by 2024. The biotechnology sector, mainly due to its multi-disciplinary approach holds the potential to provide an array of solutions for challenges in Health, Agriculture, Environment, Energy, and Industrial Processes. This includes innovative solutions for various societal challenges, the use of biosimilars for helping millions of people around the world in battling life-threatening medical issues, development, and manufacture of vaccines for nearly 60% of global immunization.

Improved crop varieties for increased production and providing better yields to the farmers while reducing the dependence on heavy consumption of water and energy. Industrial biotechnology is being channeled to produce biofuels that can help in ensuring a cleaner environment. Biotechnology impacts each sector and the Biotechnology Sector in the country is growing rapidly.

The Biotechnology research and development activities involving the use of rDNA technology and/or hazardous microorganisms are being regulated in accordance with Rules for the manufacture, use, import, export & storage of hazardous microorganisms, GE organisms or cells,1989 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) established under the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science, and Technology to monitor the safety of on-going research projects and activities (including small-scale field trials, import, export, etc.) involving genetically engineered organisms.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.”

Tech Mahindra to be preferred partner for Japan’s Rakuten Communications Platform

Source:- IBEF

“Tech Mahindra, an Indian IT service provider, and Rakuten Mobile, a mobile communications company in Japan, are working together to build and deploy Rakuten Communications (RCP) solutions for global customers.

Tech Mahindra has also sold its investment in Delaware-based Altiostar for US$45 million to Rakutan.

Through this agreement, Tech Mahindra will be the preferred partner for RCP, where the former will provide technology and software capabilities to support development and deployment of mobile networks for global customers of RCP. The company will also provide managed IT, security and network services.

RCP was developed by Rakuten Mobile and is based in Japan on its next generation mobile network that incorporates the latest virtualization and automation technology. It is cloud-native and helps telecoms and businesses to build stable and open mobile networks at low cost and speed.

Mr Mickey Mikitani, Chairman, President and CEO, Rakuten, Inc said, “With groundbreaking technology and the launch of our world-first fully virtualized mobile network in Japan, we are redefining the delivery of mobile services. With a common vision for digital transformation of the telecommunications industry, I am very excited about the potential this partnership with Tech Mahindra must bring more agile, responsive and efficient services to customers around the world”.

Tech Mahindra also said it had sold its interest in the Altiostar virtualized RAN technology firm to Rakuten, where the two firms had previously invested. Tech Mahindra partnered with Rakuten earlier this year to introduce a 4 G network identified by cloud-native apps in Japan.

Mr CP Gurnani, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra, stated, “This first of its kind collaboration with Rakuten Mobile not only strengthens our existing partnership with them, but will also enable us to drive innovation in the telecom space, provide enhanced customer experience and lead the transformation in mobile network technology from the forefront”.

Tech Mahindra and Rakuten Mobile will use their collaboration to build and deploy RCP-based virtualized mobile networks to change the telecommunication landscape. RCP covers all aspects of the Rakuten Mobile network, including multi-vendor telco apps and applications, OSS and BSS, edge computing, and virtual network management functionality.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.”

Byju’s continues to rack up more funds, this time from three new US investors

Source:- IBEF

“Byju’s education technology company said it signed three new US investors — the world’s largest wealth manager, a hedge fund, BlackRock, Sands Capital, and Alkeon Capital — to its long list of supporters as it continues to collect cash gobs during an online education boom.

The investment is part of an ongoing funding round announced earlier this month under the leadership of US private equity major Silver Lake, which made news in India earlier this year by joining Reliance Jio’s mega fundraising.

According to a source, Byju’s valuation has jumped to US$11.1 billion, up from US$10.8 billion, when it announced its latest US$500 million funding round led by Silver Lake earlier this month. Existing investors General Atlantic, Owl Ventures, and Tiger Global were also participating in the new round.

Byju’s Mr. Raveendran stated, “We are excited to welcome Blackrock, Sands Capital, and Alkeon as our partners. Partnerships like these reaffirm our commitment to build and transform the global learning landscape through technology, innovation, and quality pedagogy.”

Byju’s, which until the end of 2019 had raised a total of about $916 million, appears to have raised close to or more than that in 2020 alone. The value has also risen from $5.7 billion in July 2019, to around $11.1 billion at present.

As per Byju, it has added >25 million new students to its platform since the start of the lockdown, taking its base of users to 70 million, including 4.5 million paid subscribers. Byju’s is aiming to utilize the fresh investments for inorganic growth and enter lucrative markets such as the US.

Last month, the company announced the $300 million acquisition of WhiteHat Jr, a network that teaches students to code in the K-12 space and wider edtech market, an increasingly growing segment. Last year, Osmo, an ed-tech start-up based in the US, was also acquired to get its foot in the door in that market.

Byju also acquired Hubli-based LabInApp last week, a startup that produces virtual simulations of science experiments, an in-demand solution at a time when schools are closed, and science laboratories are not open to students.

A $150 million investment round led by SoftBank Vision Fund at a valuation of $1.45 billion was recently revealed by Rival Unacademy. Also, the executive education business Eruditus recently raised $113 million led by Leeds Illuminate and Prosus Ventures, the South African internet giant, along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan’s philanthropic fund Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). CZI is also an investor in Byju’s, while Facebook is an investor in Unacademy.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.”

InsuranceDekho to get USD 20 million funding from GirnarSoft

Source:- IBEF

“InsuranceDekho (an omnichannel insurance platform and a subsidiary of GirnarSoft) announces that GirnarSoft has committed US$ 20 million (~Rs 147 crore) investment in the company.

InsuranceDekho stated that the funds will be invested in branding, and strengthening the technology, product, and sales teams.

The funds will also be used to strengthen InsuranceDekho’s transaction businesses and expand its footprint in the country. Recently, InsuranceDekho announced plans to incorporate 1 lakh insurance advisors across the country. The company stated that it has enrolled ~20,000 advisors successfully.

Mr. Amit Jain, CEO and co-founder of GirnarSoft said, “This proposed fund infusion is our vote of confidence in their ability to build India’s most enduring insuretech business in India”. The other ventures of GirnarSoft include CarDekho.com, Zigwheels.com, and gaadi.com.

Mr. Ankit Agrawal, CEO, and co-founder, InsuranceDekho, stated, “This new capital infusion will be used to expand our digital footprint. We are already a force to reckon with in the B2B space. With this round, we aim to invest in branding and marketing to further strengthen our B2C platform which has been seeing strong traction over the last 2 quarters.”

InsuranceDekho allows consumers to compare various insurance plans, both online and offline, and has tie-ups with over 26 general insurance providers. The company is currently at an annualized run rate of 20 lakh policies and plans to close March 2021 at an annualized run rate of 36 lakh policies, it said.”

Government to set up Medical Devices Park in Kerala

Source:- IBEF

“Kerala will soon house one of the first medical device parks in the country, focusing on the high-risk medical device sector to provide full range of services for the medical devices industry like R&D support, testing, and evaluation.

MedSpark, the medical devices park envisaged as a joint initiative of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India, and the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (KSIDC), the industrial and investment promotion agency of the Government of Kerala is going to be established in the Life Science Park, Thonnakkal, Thiruvananthapuram.

This medical device park will stand out with its emphasis on the high-risk medical device sector involving medical implants and extracorporeal devices, in which SCTIMST scores with its knowledge.

The Medical Devices Park will create an enabling support system for R&D, testing and evaluation of medical devices, manufacturing support, technology innovation, and knowledge dissemination, all of which are the full range of services that the medical devices industry seeks. These services can be utilized by the medical device industries located within the MedSpark as well from other parts of India. This will benefit small and medium-sized medical devices industries, which dominate the medical devices sector.

Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister, Government of Kerala, will lay the foundation stone for Medical Devices Park on Thursday, 24th September 2020.

“Sree Chitra has made substantial contributions to the biomedical devices sector over the last 30 or more years and has established itself as a pioneer in this field. This is a milestone for biomedical devices industry in the country and is fully aligned with the Honorable Prime Minister’s Vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat”, said Dr. VK Saraswat, NITI Aayog Member and the President of SCTIMST

“The aspect that will distinguish this Medical Device Park from the few other similar projects proposed in the country is that it will focus on the high-risk medical device sector involving medical implants and extracorporeal devices, the domain in which SCTIMST has considerable expertise and experience,” Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary DST commented.

“The park is being established under the Technical Research Centre for Biomedical devices program of the DST, through a knowledge partnership with KSIDC, Government of Kerala, tapping the ecosystem that exists in the city with several research and academic institutions and health care centers. It was possible with the support of various departments of the Central Government and Niti Aayog,” said Dr. Asha Kishore, Director, SCTIMST.

MedSpark can leverage the existing advantage of the Kerala State in the high-risk medical device manufacture and develop it into the most sought-after destination for setting up medical device industry in India.

Currently, Kerala has several medical device companies with an annual turnover more than Rs. 750 crores (US$ 102.06 million), most of them operating with technologies transferred from SCTIMST.

When completed, the MedSpark will have:

A Medical Device Testing & Evaluation Centre accredited to international agencies
An R&D Resource Centre for facilitating R&D in medical device domain, the services of which would be shared by the entities within the Park
A centralised Knowledge Centre for skill up-gradation with facilities for conducting training and providing support on regulatory issues, clinical trials, etc.
A Technology Business Incubation Centre for promoting start-ups and early-stage companies
A set of Modular Manufacturing Units for lease by the industries coming to the park or land modules for setting up manufacturing units
The business model for the MedSpark is self-sustaining in which its operational expenses will be generated from its revenue streams. Funding from the state and central governments (both Kerala State and Central) through various schemes will meet the capital expenditure and deficit in income against expenses during the initial stages
It is expected that the project would provide direct employment to 1200 people. Besides, employment generation up to 4000 – 5000 jobs through the supporting industries like OEM suppliers, service providers, and marketing/post marketing support activities.
Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.”

India, Australia have greater opportunities to collaborate in space: Experts

Source:- DeccanHerald

“With India opening up its space industry for private players, Australia feels the move would present greater opportunities for both countries to collaborate in the crucial space sector. Panelists from India and Australia at an exclusive webinar on the Australia Space ecosystem on Wednesday saw the move as another way that both countries can work for the betterment of its people.

Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell said that his country has many unique advantages, from its geographical position in the southern hemisphere to its wide-open spaces and relatively low light pollution, to its expertise in satellite data applications. He also spoke in detail about the partnership between India and Australia in different sectors and virtual meetings that leaders of the two countries held during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The High Commissioner said that India and Australia are “ideal partners” in space management activities and welcomed the Indian Government’s move to privatise the space sector.

“People-to-people ties and vital economic integration comes at a time the strategic relationship between the two countries is at an all-time high. It was built on the momentum created by Australian Trade Minister (Senator Simon Birmingham) in February and the virtual summit of our Prime Minister in June,” he said.
Anthony Murfett from the Australian Space Agency said that the two countries will have great programmee. “Gaganyaan human space flight program is an inspiration to all people, and Australia is looking into how we can support this important mission,” he added.

The panelists also said that Australia and India are looking to update an MoU they signed in 2012 to include more agencies and encourage the private sector, to work together for the benefit of both countries.

G Narayanan, Chairman, and Managing Director, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), said that active discussions are on in the Indian government on the modalities for private players to enter the space industry.

India’s economy to contract 5.9 per cent in 2020, says UN trade body

Source:- Business-standard

“The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has projected India’s economy to contract 5.9 percent in 2020 and warned the country to not repeat its past mistake of announcing austerity measures. It forecast the economy to grow 3.9 percent next year.

“In the case of India, the baseline scenario is a sharp recession in 2020 as strict lockdown measures to stem the virus’s spread brought many productive activities to a halt across the country,” UNCTAD said in its report for 2020, titled From Global Pandemic To Prosperity for All: Avoiding Another Lost Decade.

It said, “Although we expect a rebound in 2021 in line with the growth rates of the Indian economy in recent years, the contraction registered in 2020 is likely to translate into a permanent income loss.” However, these numbers are based on constant dollars with 2015 as the base year and hence exchange rates might have played an important role in these estimations.

India was not projected as the fastest-contracting economy as the UK, France, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil were forecast to witness more shrinking growth rates in the current calendar year. In fact, the GDP of Argentina and Mexico is pegged to fall in double digits this year. However, UNCTAD expected India to witness the steepest contraction in Asia in 2020.

It warned against expenditure compressing measures which countries such as India, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa have implemented in the past. “Among G20 countries, Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, and South Africa have all implemented austerity in the past years but are now struggling to access reliable sources of finance,” the report said.

t said austerity always has a contractionary effect on growth and, absent a large enough current account surplus, drags the private sector into debt.

“Conversely, a stimulus can be self-sustaining and produce the result fiscal hawks long for in a better and faster way.” It said fiscal contraction does not guarantee a country’s public debt sustainability.

“Indeed, especially in weaker economies, fiscal deficits have often derived from government’s squeezing of the private sector, which results in lower tax receipts and higher unemployment. Nor has austerity rewarded its adherents with reliable access to financial markets.”

India had announced a Rs 20-trillion stimulus package for vulnerable sections of society and small businesses. Experts, though, have pegged the fiscal cost of these measures at Rs 2 trillion as many of these had been announced earlier.

India also took certain expenditure compressing steps such as freezing of dearness allowance to government employees, putting curbs on expenditure in departments and ministries, etc.

UNCTAD expected the global economy to contract an estimated 4.3 percent this year, leaving global output by year’s end over $6 trillion short of what economists had expected it to be before coronavirus began to spread.

“In short, the world is grappling with the equivalent of a complete wipeout of the Brazilian, Indian and Mexican economies,” UNCTAD said, explaining the severity of the contraction.

And as domestic activity contracts, so goes the international economy; trade will shrink by around one fifth this year, foreign direct investment flows by up to 40 percent and remittances will drop by over $100 billion, UNCTAD pointed out.

It said the world needs a global recovery plan that can return even the most vulnerable countries to a stronger position than they were in before Covid-19. According to the report, the key to success will be tackling a series of pre-existing conditions that were threatening the health of the global economy even before the pandemic.

These include hyper inequality, unsustainable levels of debt, weak investment, wage stagnation in the developed world and insufficient formal sector jobs.”

STPI sets up IoT open lab in Bengaluru

Source:- IBEF

“Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), partners with Arrow Electronics, to set up a Centre of Excellence – STPI IoT OpenLab. The lab is spread over an area of 4,200 sq ft. and aims to support and nurture around 500 startups over a period of five years.

STPI stated in a statement on Monday that the first batch of IoT startups is on board.

It added that The STPI IoT OpenLab would bring about revolutionary changes in IoT innovation, product creation, and IPR creation by fostering promising technology start-ups while providing a compelling collaborative forum. IoT OpenLab will enable creative start-ups to build disruptive IoT-based technologies, products, and solutions in various market verticals such as defense, aeronautics, aeronautics, industrial, agriculture, health, automotive, and education.

IESA and TiE (Industry Association Partners) are supporting the IoT OpenLab to provide network resources for start-ups, PES Institute of Technology and RV College of Engineering (Academic Partners) to provide start-ups with academic knowledge and mentoring, and CyberMedia and Platform Synergy (VC / Angel Partners) to provide start-ups with funding access and resources.

The statement said that the industry partnership covers ONsemi, Kyocera, NXP, Analog devices, ST Micro, Infineon, Silicon Labs, Microchip, Littelfuse, and KEMET.

STPI Director-General Mr. Omkar Rai, in his keynote address during the webinar of Going Live with STPI IoT OpenLab, stated that startups can access the STPI IoT OpenLab from across the country and leverage the potential of mentor pool.” STPI is an autonomous society under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.”

HCL Technologies to acquire Australian IT solutions company DWS

Source:- IBEF

“HCL Technologies (HCL) announced to acquire DWS Limited, an Australian IT, business and management consulting group. The transaction is expected to be completed in December 2020, subject to regulatory approvals. The acquisition aims at enhancing HCL’s contribution to digital initiatives in Australia and New Zealand while strengthening HCL’s client portfolio across key industries.

DWS, has ~700 employees and offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Canberra. The company provides a range of IT services to clients across verticals.

Mr Michael Horton, executive vice-president & country manager, Australia & New Zealand, HCL Technologies stated that the companies’ combined strengths will further accelerate the digital transformation journeys of its clients and innovations for end customers.

HCL currently employs 1,600 employees in cities, including Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. It is committed to enabling digitalization and growing the local ecosystem.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.”

Indian market ‘attractive’ proposition for FPIs; net investment at Rs 3,944 cr in Sep so far

Source:- Economictimes

“New Delhi: Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) have put in Rs 3,944 crore so far on a net basis in domestic markets in September, with participants seem heading to “”attractive”” investment destinations like India for potential better returns.

Overseas investors bought equities worth a net Rs 1,766 crore and put in Rs 2,178 crore in the debt segment between September 1 and 18, depositories data showed.

This translated into a total net investment of Rs 3,944 crore during the period under review. Prior to this month, FPIs remained net buyers for three consecutive months.

They had invested Rs 46,532 crore in August, Rs 3,301 crore in July and Rs 24,053 crore in June on net basis.

“This could be attributed to the excess liquidity, which is available in the global markets, making its way into Indian equities” Himanshu Srivastava, associate director – manager research, Morningstar India, said.

Also, the rebalancing of FTSE’s Global Equity Index Asia Pacific ex Japan and China could have also attracted flows, given the addition of few Indian stocks into the index and increased weightages in few, he added.

Regarding investment in the debt segment, Srivastava said that amid aggressive bond buying by the US Federal Reserve, the yields there have come down and this could be one of the reasons for FPIs to look for other attractive investment destinations like Indian debt markets, which could potentially offer better returns.

Rusmik Oza, executive vice president, head of fundamental research at Kotak Securities, said, “The investment in Indian markets during the period under review came even as FPIs remained consistent sellers in emerging markets internationally on both weekly and monthly basis. FPI flows remained positive in developed markets like US and Europe.”

This has mostly been because the valuations of other emerging markets had reached unattractive levels while India’s valuations were still attractive in comparison, he said.

Harsh Jain, co-founder and COO at Groww, said, “The US Fed has indicated that it plans to keep the interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future while also printing money and this makes parking money in the US and other developed markets a poor proposition and makes emerging markets (like India) seem attractive.”

New global mining rush brings India and Australia together

Source:- Intoindia

“When Australia and India signed a strategic partnership in June, we knew it was “about China” but we did not know was just how much it was about China.

Now we find that the strategic partnership allows for Australia to supply “rare earth” resources to India.

Why is this so strategically important?

Your phone, camera, or electric car are completely dependent on key “rare earth” minerals that are processed only in China.

Only a year or so ago, this dependence on China seemed to be OK. Now nations are not so sure, and the Japan, India, and Australia collaboration on supply chains is just one of many responses.

Here is how vital these “rare earth” minerals are – there are 0.15 grams of palladium in an iPhone, 472 kilograms of combined rare earths in an F35 fighter jet, and four tonnes in a Virginia-class submarine.

But the big one in this group is graphite – it is a key for the lithium-ion batteries in phones, laptops, military and medical equipment, and electric cars.

China provides 70 per cent of the world’s exports of graphite and has declared it a “strategic material”.

Graphite illustrates the scale of the world’s dependence on China and you can see how global concerns have now become a mix of commerce and defence. Graphite is in demand because it is the most electrically conductive mineral known.

Australian Resources Minister Keith Pitt expressed the global concerns this way: “It does not matter if you are importing loaves of bread or anything else, if you only have one supply line, that is an increased risk.”

Graphite and other “rare earth” minerals are far from being loaves of bread, for they hold the key to making most of our digital economies and defences work. Australia has lots of graphite – there is one graphite reserve in South Australia of 200 million tonnes.

In addition to the deal with India, Australia has recently announced several deals in the US and there could be more to come.

No wonder the world is keeping an eye on Australia for “rare earth’ minerals, and no wonder India and Australia have firmed up their strategic partnership.

It is easy to see how Australia’s deals on “rare earth” minerals work in conjunction with strategic arrangements – therefore the deals are with the US, Japan, India, and parts of Europe.

Everyone is now making a priority of having a diverse source of materials – not just China – and this whole new “minerals rush” is bringing India and Australia closer together.”

HCL Tech enters top-10 most valued firms club; surpasses ITC in m-cap

Source:- IBEF: September 18, 2020

IT major HCL Technologies joined the list of top 10 most valuable companies in India after the stock rose almost 4 percent on Thursday to Rs 817 (US$ 11.09) on the BSE after the company and Google Cloud expanded partnership to deliver accelerated business intelligence platform.

HCL Technologies reported a market capitalisation (m-cap) of INR 2.2 trillion (US$ 29.89 billion) at 10:36 pm and was ranked 10th in the overall ranking, BSE data shows. The company surpassed ITC, cigarette major and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, which has the market-cap of INR 2.19 trillion (US$ 29.75 billion).

With Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on the top of the list, HCL Technologies now become the third IT company featuring in the top-10 most valuable firm in terms of market-cap. TCS has INR 9.32-trillion (US$ 126.61 billion) market-cap followed by Infosys, which a market-cap of INR 4.32 trillion (US$ 58.69 billion).

On September 14, 2020, HCL Tech stated that expects the revenue and the operating margin for the July-September quarter of FY21 to be better than the top end of the guidance it had provided in July 2020.

The company added, “We have seen strong execution during the quarter to date and continue to execute to the plan this month. The Revenue growth for the current quarter is expected to exceed 3.5 percent quarter on quarter in constant currency (CC), enabled by broad based momentum across all service lines, verticals and geographies.”

HCL Tech further stated that the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margin for the current quarter is expected to be between 20.5% and 21.0%, driven by good performance from the segments – life sciences & healthcare, telecom & media, and financial services verticals. The pipeline continues to look healthy across service lines, verticals, and geographies.

Analysts at JP Morgan have ‘overweight’ rating on the stock. While HCL was a leading vendor for Gen 1 infrastructure management services contracts over 2007-14, it lagged peers on application services. “Its aggressive M&A-led build-out of its products and platforms business over the past four years diluted its focus on scale DX adoption and made it a laggard despite strong cloud roots,” the brokerage firm said.

JP Morgan analysts have a portfolio ranking of ‘overweight’. Although HCL was a leading supplier of contracts for Gen 1 infrastructure management services over the period 2007-14, peers lagged on application services. Over the past four years, its aggressive M&A-led development of its goods and platforms business has blurred its emphasis on DX scale adoption and made it a laggard amid deep cloud roots, “stated the broker.

There is a r greater emphasis on digital transformation, followed by progress in major hybrid-cloud and adoption deals with DX. In the last three years, this has resulted in the organic growth of HCLT accelerating back to a market leader of more than 15 percent. Although earnings growth in FY21 is likely to be slight due to Covid-19, the brokerage company expects earnings growth to recover sharply from FY.”

E-commerce and wellness trends spark new opportunities in South Asia, says Austrade

Source:- intoindia

“The health & wellness trend

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers in South Asia have focused on boosting their health and immunity. This is a sector where Australian companies have already made commercial inroads — and more opportunities will arise. Australia’s iconic wellness brand, Swisse, reacted quickly and is now selling across 10 major e-commerce platforms in India.

Indian consumers are highly receptive to Australian wellness products. Consumers appreciate our clean, green and reliable manufacturing standards, and these high standards confer an automatic brand premium on Australian wellness products.

Similarly, there is increased demand across South Asia for products that are perceived to boost people’s immune system. In India and Bangladesh this applies to fresh produce, and in particular to Manuka honey. The demand for Australian citrus in Bangladesh has remained high this year, even during the local harvest season.

E-commerce: the next big shift

The rapid growth of e-commerce in the health and wellness sector is accelerating opportunities for Australian companies and South Asia is uniquely poised for a boom. With a combined 670 million internet users – and over 130 million online shoppers – the region is the second largest mass market for Australian companies, second only to China.

Growth in regional e-commerce is rapid. Online retail clocked A$75 billion in sales across South Asia in 2018–19. With year-on-year growth of over 40 per centthe region’s internet economy is forecast to be worth more than A$200 billion within the next five years.

Based on market observations by Austrade in South Asia, we forecast that the market for Australian e-commerce products will grow exponentially in the coming years. This applies especially to health, beauty, nutraceuticals and processed-food products.

The impact on Australian exporters

These two consumer trends – a growing appetite for wellness goods and enthusiasm for e-commerce – create good scope for Australian companies wanting to diversify their export markets to the South Asia region. Australian companies with a brand narrative that speaks to health and immunity will likely find ready markets among consumers.

Thanks to Austrade for the above analysis”

Australia looks to boost trade with India after relations with China sour

Source:- Fincial Express

“Australia’s escalating tensions with Beijing have shown up its reliance on China trade and propelled a push to increase links with Asia’s other giant economy, India.

Australia’s escalating tensions with Beijing have shown up its reliance on China trade and propelled a push to increase links with Asia’s other giant economy, India. New enrollments of international students from India expanded 32% in 2019 from a year earlier and it’s the fastest growing major market for Australian services. India has overtaken China as the largest source of net migration to Australia, and its diaspora is the third largest Down Under, just behind China and the U.K.

India’s swelling population — set to overtake China’s in 2027 — suggests ongoing opportunities for Australia to diversify a trade portfolio that currently makes it the developed world’s most China-dependent economy. The need to switch things up has accelerated as ties sank to their lowest ebb in 30 years after Canberra’s calls for an international inquiry into Covid-19’s origins was taken by Beijing as a political attack, with China imposing barriers on barley, beef and wine from Down Under.

This has Australia looking to its democratic, cricket-loving ally to fill the void. Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a virtual summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in June and the two signed a defense agreement and upgraded ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The trade ministers of Japan, India and Australia recently agreed to work toward achieving supply chain resilience in the Indo-Pacific region.

“We can sell India education, health care, and there’s potential in science and technology,” said Ian Hall, a professor of international relations at Griffith University in Queensland. “It’s much more the consumer market of India’s growing middle class than goods.”

Yet trade with India has its own challenges. Its government is wedded to economic nationalism, as showcased last year when it pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership designed to free up trade.

Delhi wants to send lots of people to Australia on work visas and doesn’t want to reduce tariffs, according to former Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who initiated the Australia-India free trade negotiations in 2011, resulting in a two-way trade around just one tenth of China-Australia shipments.

“India is highly concerned about its trade deficit,” said Lai-Ha Chan, a political scientist at the University of Technology in Sydney, who notes that after signing free trade agreements with South Korea and Japan, India’s trade deficit with those nations ballooned. “It would be very worried about Australian farm products, like dairy, harming Indian farmers.”

Australia’s most valuable export — iron ore — hasn’t been caught in China’s cross hairs yet, perhaps due to a lack of alternative suppliers. Yet Beijing appears to be giving itself greater flexibility, with Emerson noting that China is buying ore carriers that improve the economics of long-distance shipping from Brazil and purchasing Guinea mines.

“It’s entirely possible China, once it gets all three mineral provinces in a row — Guinea, Brazil and Australia — will play one off against the other to get a better price,” he said. “If you’re China, you’d say ‘where’s our vulnerability? Iron ore. So let’s diversify, let’s fix that.’ They may never need to activate it, but it’s there, it’s available.”

What Bloomberg’s Economists Say
Australia’s services exports have been experiencing a quiet tectonic shift over the past 18 months. In education, growth in Indian enrollments has seen the number of Indian student visa holders eclipse Chinese students. While China’s dominance of Australia’s goods exports reflects commodities demand, in the employment-intensive services sector China’s importance has been challenged by a doubling of services exports to India over the past two years.

James McIntyre, Economist”

With China relationship on the rocks, Australia eyes India for trade

Source:- Business Standard

“Australia’s escalating tensions with Beijing have shown up its reliance on China trade and propelled a push to increase links with Asia’s other giant economy, India.

New enrollments of international students from India expanded 32% in 2019 from a year earlier and it’s the fastest growing major market for Australian services. India has overtaken China as the largest source of net migration to Australia, and its diaspora is the third largest Down Under, just behind China and the U.K.

India’s swelling population — set to overtake China’s in 2027 — suggests ongoing opportunities for Australia to diversify a trade portfolio that currently makes it the developed world’s most China-dependent economy. The need to switch things up has accelerated as ties sank to their lowest ebb in 30 years after Canberra’s calls for an international inquiry into Covid-19’s origins was taken by Beijing as a political attack, with China imposing barriers on barley, beef and wine from Down Under.

This has Australia looking to its democratic, cricket-loving ally to fill the void. Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a virtual summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in June and the two signed a defense agreement and upgraded ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The trade ministers of Japan, India and Australia recently agreed to work toward achieving supply chain resilience in the Indo-Pacific region.

“We can sell India education, health care, and there’s potential in science and technology,” said Ian Hall, a professor of international relations at Griffith University in Queensland. “It’s much more the consumer market of India’s growing middle class than goods.”

Yet trade with India has its own challenges. Its government is wedded to economic nationalism, as showcased last year when it pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership designed to free up trade.

Delhi wants to send lots of people to Australia on work visas and doesn’t want to reduce tariffs, according to former Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who initiated the Australia-India free trade negotiations in 2011, resulting in a two-way trade around just one tenth of China-Australia shipments.
“India is highly concerned about its trade deficit,” said Lai-Ha Chan, a political scientist at the University of Technology in Sydney, who notes that after signing free trade agreements with South Korea and Japan, India’s trade deficit with those nations ballooned. “It would be very worried about Australian farm products, like dairy, harming Indian farmers.”

Australia’s most valuable export — iron ore — hasn’t been caught in China’s cross hairs yet, perhaps due to a lack of alternative suppliers. Yet Beijing appears to be giving itself greater flexibility, with Emerson noting that China is buying ore carriers that improve the economics of long-distance shipping from Brazil and purchasing Guinea mines.

“It’s entirely possible China, once it gets all three mineral provinces in a row — Guinea, Brazil and Australia — will play one off against the other to get a better price,” he said. “If you’re China, you’d say ‘where’s our vulnerability? Iron ore. So let’s diversify, let’s fix that.’ They may never need to activate it, but it’s there, it’s available.”
What Bloomberg’s Economists Say

Australia’s services exports have been experiencing a quiet tectonic shift over the past 18 months. In education, growth in Indian enrollments has seen the number of Indian student visa holders eclipse Chinese students. While China’s dominance of Australia’s goods exports reflects commodities demand, in the employment-intensive services sector China’s importance has been challenged by a doubling of services exports to India over the past two years.”

After Reliance, TCS becomes second Indian firm to cross Rs 9 lakh crore market valuation

Source:- “IBEF: September 15, 2020

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) becomes the second leading Indian firm to achieve a market valuation of INR 9 trillion, after Reliance Industries. The market valuation of the company reached INR 9 trillion in in early trade helped by a rally in its share price.

The stock of the software services firms also reached its record high on the BSE — gained 2.91% to INR 2,442.80, while on the NSE, it achieved its lifetime high — jumped 2.76% to INR 2,439.80.

The company’s market valuation increased to INR 9,14,606.25 crore on the BSE in early trade, due to surge in its share price. In terms of market capitalisation, it is the second most-valuable domestic firm.

Reliance Industries Limited is the first Indian firm to have crossed the market valuation mark of INR 9 trillion.

In October last year, the country’s most valued firm achieved this milestone. Currently, its market valuation stands at INR 15,78,732.92 crore — the highest of any listed company in the country.”

Insight – LNG infrastructure in India

Source:- AUSTRADE

“Since 2011, India has been the world’s fourth largest importer of LNG[i], due to an increase in domestic consumption and a decline in domestic production. As the Government of India expands the share of gas in India’s energy mix – and extends the country’s pipeline network – this insight explores some of the opportunities open to Australian companies.

LNG in India today
Currently, LNG constitutes a relatively small share of India’s total energy consumption. Fossil fuels dominate the energy mix, with coal and oil accounting for 82 per cent of consumption and natural gas just 6 per cent[ii]. It is widely accepted that natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel. To improve air quality, the Government of India has an ambitious target: to increase the share of natural gas within India’s total energy consumption from approximately 6 per cent to 15 per cent by 2030[iii].

India’s LNG imports
LNG imports for the 2019–20 financial year were 33,680 million metric standard cubic meters (MMSCM). This was 17 per cent higher than imports during the 2018–19 financial year, at 27,740 MMSCM.
Domestic demand was expected to reach 25 million tons per annum (MTA) in 2020; however the disruption caused by COVID-19 could see this fall to 23 MTA.
LNG is imported through Open General License (OGL) in India by the gas marketer under various long-term, medium-term and spot contracts. The price and utilisation of imported LNG is mutually decided by buyers and sellers.
In recent years, India has been unable to import large volumes of natural gas owing to inadequate import infrastructure, and limited storage and distribution networks. As a result, usage is limited. Currently, India uses LNG as a feedstock in the manufacturing of fertilizers, plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals. It is also used as a fuel for electricity generation, and for heating purposes in industrial and commercial units. LNG is also used for cooking in domestic households and as a transportation fuel for vehicles.

In the 2018–19 financial year, total domestic gas production was about 90.05 million metric standard cubic meters (MMSCMD)[iv]. Domestic LNG is supplied from oil and gas fields located in western and southeastern areas (including the Hazira Basin, the Mumbai Offshore Basin and the KG Basin) as well as the northeast region (Assam and Tripura). LNG is supplied and distributed according to government guidelines, which cover pricing and utilisation.

LNG infrastructure in India
The further development of LNG infrastructure is vital if LNG is to fulfil growing demand and complement domestic production. As in most parts of the world, gas reserves and natural gas consumers are geographically separated. The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) notes that 66.4 per cent – or 988.9 billion cubic metres (BCM) – of domestic natural gas reserves are offshore and only 33.6 per cent – or 499.6 BCM – is on onshore[v]. Consequently, massive infrastructure development is required to transport natural gas from offshore production sites to consumption centres. This includes new processing platforms, offshore pipelines, cross-country pipelines and distribution pipelines.

LNG terminals
The west coast of India has three principal terminals, two in Gujarat and one in Maharashtra. These terminals account for approximately 75 per cent of India’s overall import capacity. The Dahej terminal is owned by Petronet LNG Limited and the Hazira terminal is owned by Royal Dutch Shell and Total Gaz Electricite. Both are being expanded.

Besides these two terminals, a third at Mundra – also in Gujarat – is owned jointly by Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) and an Indian conglomerate, the Adani Group. The Indian Oil Corporation also owns a terminal at Ennore, near Chennai on India’s east coast. GSPC’s LNG terminal at Mundra and Indian Oil’s Ennore LNG terminal were both commissioned in 2018–19 and are now ready for operation[vi].

Besides existing regasification terminals, about 35.5–36.5 MMTPA of LNG regasification infrastructure is currently being planned or is under construction by various developers. It is important to note that some of these planned developments are still subject to technical and commercial feasibility studies. A table below includes all existing and planned LNG terminal infrastructure in India:

LNG terminal infrastructure in India
No. Terminal Developer Capacity MMTPA
Existing terminal

1.

Dahej

Petronet LNG Limited

17.5

2.

Hazira

Royal Dutch Shell, Total Gaz Electricite

5.0

3.

Dabhol

GAIL, NTPC

5.0

4.

Kochi

Petronet LNG Limited

5.0

5.

Ennore

Indian Oil Corporation

5.0

Total existing

37.5

Construction completed

6.

Mundra

GSPL, Adani Group

5.0

Under construction

7.

Jaigarh (FSRU)

H Energy

4.0

8.

Dhamra

Adani Group

5.0

9.

Jafrabad (FSRU)

Swan

5.0

10.

Chhara

HPCL & Shapoorji Pallonji Group

5.0

Total under construction, or completed and not yet in operation

24.0

Proposed

11.

East Coast

Petronet LNG Limited

5.0

12.

Kakinada/Krishnapatnam/Karaikal

Others

2.5

13.

Kolkata/Digha Port

H Energy

2.5

Total proposed

10.0

Total

71.5

Source: Ministry Of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India

LNG pipelines
To ensure adequate availability and an equitable distribution of LNG, the Government of India envisages an interconnected ‘National Gas Grid.’ India has a relatively under-developed gas pipeline infrastructure compared to developed countries. At present, India has 16,788km of pipeline, which the government wants to increase to 30,000km to ensure continuous nation-wide supply. This means approximately 12,678km of extensions are required to complete the planned National Gas Grid. The accompanying map shows current pipelines, as well as those that are planned or under construction[vii].

According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, which is part of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas[viii], natural gas is primarily sourced domestically from KG-D6, the Mumbai Offshore Basin, the Cambay Basin, Ravva Offshore, the KG Basin and the Cauvery Basin, and then imported through various terminals.

There are three major pipeline entities engaged in natural gas transportation in India and two smaller entities. The principal organisations are GAIL (formerly, the Gas Authority of India Limited); Reliance Gas Pipeline Limited (RGPL); and Gujarat State Petronet Limited (GSPL) State-owned GAIL is by far the largest (see below).

Major gas pipeline companies in India
No. Transporter Length (KM) Percentage share
1.

Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL)

11,411

69.9%

2.

Reliance Gas Pipeline Limited (RGPL)

1,784

10.9%

3.

Gujarat State Petronet Limited (GSPL)

2,692

16.5%

4.

Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL)

297

1.8%

5.

Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL)

140

0.9%

TOTAL

16,324

100%

Major gas pipeline networks in India
Network/region Entity Length (km)
Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur Pipeline/Gas Rehabilitation and Expansion Project Pipeline/Dahej-Vijaipur Pipeline & Spur/ Vijaipur-Dadri Pipeline

GAIL

4,554

DVPL-GREP Upgradation (DVPL-II & VDPL)

GAIL

1,385

Chhainsa-Jhajjar-Hissar Pipeline (CJPL) including spur lines

GAIL

310

Dahej-Uran-Panvel Pipeline (DUPL/ DPPL) including spur lines

GAIL

928

Dadri- Bawana-Nangal Pipeline (DBPL)

GAIL

852

Dabhol-Bengaluru Pipeline (Including Spur)

GAIL

1,116

Kochi-Koottanad-Bengaluru-Mangalore (Phase-1)

GAIL

48

Tripura (Agartala)

GAIL

60

Gujarat

GAIL

685

Rajasthan
GAIL

151

Mumbai (Uran-Thal-Usar & Trombay-RCF)

GAIL

131

KG Basin

GAIL

884

Cauvery Basin

GAIL

306

East-West Pipeline

RGTIL

1,480

Shahdol-Phulpur Pipeline

RGPL

304

GSPL network

GSPL

2,692

Assam network

AGCL, DNPL

297

Dadri-Panipat

IOCL

140

Total

16,324

Source: Pipeline Operating Companies, Compiled by Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell, Government of India

Proposed gas pipeline projects in India
Project Developer Coverage (km)
Jagdishpur–Haldia/Bokaro–Dhamra Pipeline Project (JHBDPL) & Barauni– Guwahati Pipeline Project (BGPL)

GAIL
(Gas Authority of India Limited)

2,655

North East Region Gas Grid

GAIL, Indian Oil Corporation, Oil India Limited, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, Numaligarh Refinery Limited

Entire North East

Kochi-Koottanad–Bengaluru-Mangalore Pipeline Project (KKBMPL)

GAIL

41 (Phase I)

887 (Phase II)

Ennore–Thiruvallur–Bangalore–Nagapattinum–Madurai–Tuticorin Natural gas pipeline (ETBNMTPL)

Indian Oil Corporation

1385

City gas distribution networks
Authorisation to develop a city gas distribution (CGD) network – including a piped natural gas (PNG) network – falls under the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) Act 2006. The CGD sector takes gas in two different forms:

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which is predominantly used as auto-fuel
PNG, which is used in domestic, commercial and industrial segments.
Regulations concerning authorisation for CGD networks and related bidding processes were amended in 2018. The revised regulatory framework attracted more involvement from the public and private sector in CGD networks. This has led to a planned expansion in CGD coverage to 228 geographical areas (GAs) spread over 406 districts in India. This expansion has the potential to cover about 53 per cent of India’s geography and 70 per cent of India’s population.

To promote the development of the CGD network, the Government has accorded priority to CNG and PNG in terms of domestic gas allocation. It has been decided to meet 100 per cent of the gas requirement for CNG (transport) and PNG (domestic) through the supply of domestic gas, which is cheaper than imported gas. At present, the CGD sector consumes approximately 14.4 MMSCMD of domestic gas for CNG (Transport) and PNG (Domestic). Around 10.9 MMSCMD of imported re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) is used by commercial and industrial customers within CGD networks[ix].

Opportunities for Australian businesses
India currently imports LNG from Australia on long-term contracts. The Government of India allows 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) into oil and gas in the following areas:

Exploration activities in oil and natural gas fields
Infrastructure related to the marketing of petroleum products and natural gas
The marketing of natural gas and petroleum products
Petroleum product pipelines and natural gas pipelines
LNG regasification infrastructure
Petroleum refining – subject to existing sectoral policy and regulatory frameworks.
Current project opportunities in the LNG sector
Project Amount (A$m) State Sub-sector
Floating Storage & Regasification Unit Project
510

Maharashtra

Transportation & storage / pipeline

Underground Piped Gas Network Project

240

Madhya Pradesh

Transportation & storage / pipeline

Source: Invest India

In addition, there are collaborative opportunities in India for Australian LNG operators, and services and equipment providers:

Long-term technology, and research and development partnerships with Indian LNG companies
Capacity-building partnerships with Indian technical training institutions in the LNG sector.
Opportunities for Australian businesses
Areas Potential Business Opportunities
Physical infrastructure
Pipeline integrity-management solutions
Corrosion-monitoring systems
In-line inspections (onshore and offshore) using integrity-assessment methods
Big data analysis, quantitative risk assessments, and hazard and operability studies
Audits of existing pipeline networks
Consultancy in pipeline health assessments
Environmental impact assessments for oil and gas facilities, and pipelines
Research & development

Collaboration between Australian research and academic institutions, and Indian energy companies and technology providers
2D & 3D seismic studies for exploration blocks
Advisory

Reviews of existing operation and maintenance practices for LNG facilities, including: gap analyses; comparative studies; and benchmarking of standard operating procedures
Ultra-deep resources exploration
Education & training

The design and construction of LNG import terminals
Operations procedures in LNG import terminals
Gas exploration and production – especially offshore
LNG floating storage and regasification units
Route-to-market insights
India is a relationship-driven market and finding the right partners will be the key to success.
A market-entry strategy must include an understanding of business culture, market-entry structures, a plan to find the right partners, and the insights to prioritise stakeholders and networks. It also requires an understanding of legal considerations.

Having a local partner in India is advantageous if not essential – though this could take the form of a distribution or an agency agreement. A local partner will have relevant in-market intelligence and contact networks, and can act as your eyes and ears on the ground.

Alternative approaches may include participation in exhibitions and specially curated business fact-finding missions, when COVID-19 restrictions allow. Such opportunities may provide a platform to network with key stakeholders across the value chain.

Austrade is well-positioned to assist and guide Australian businesses who want to investigate or enter India’s LNG infrastructure market and its related value chain.

Contact: rahul.ranjan@austrade.gov.au”

India and Japan sign agreement on Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between Forces of both countries

Source:- IBEF

“Press Information Bureau: September 11, 2020

India and Japan signed an Agreement between the two countries concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the Armed Forces of India and The Self-Defense Forces of Japan. The agreement was signed here yesterday by Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Ambassador of Japan Mr Suzuki Satoshi.

This agreement establishes the enabling framework for closer cooperation between the Armed Forces of India and Japan in reciprocal provision of supplies and services while engaged in bilateral training activities, United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Humanitarian International Relief and other mutually agreed activities.

The agreement will also enhance the interoperability between the Armed Force of India and Japan thereby further increasing the bilateral defence engagements under the Special Strategic & Global Partnership between the two countries.”

Govt plans to offer Rs 1.6 trn package to lure global manufacturers: Report

Source:- Business Standard

“India is planning to offer incentives worth Rs 1.68 trillion ($23 billion) to attract companies to set up manufacturing in the South Asian nation, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will offer production-linked incentives to automobile manufacturers, solar panel makers, and specialty steel to consumer appliance companies, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg News. Textile units, food processing plants and specialised pharmaceutical product makers are also being considered for the plan.

The incentive program, being spearheaded by the country’s policy planning body, uses the template of a scheme implemented earlier this year to draw businesses away from China. About two dozen companies including Samsung Electronics Co., Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., known as Foxconn and Wistron Corp pledged $1.5 billion of investments to set up mobile-phone factories in the country, according to the government, after authorities offered to pay them an amount equivalent to 4%-6% of their incremental sales over the next five years.

New Delhi has been working on attracting investments to revive an economy that posted its worst slump among major economies last quarter, when it contracted 23.9%. Corporate taxes are already among the lowest in Asia, while insolvency rules were overhauled to improve the ease of doing business. But those have done little to make it the first choice for businesses looking to diversify supply chains away from China.

Vietnam continues to be the most favoured destination, followed by Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand, according to a recent survey by Standard Chartered Plc.

“The move will definitely have a positive impact on manufacturing, especially for so-called booming sectors such as solar and electronics,” Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Care Ratings Ltd. said. “It is a good way of attracting investments and has potential to make a difference in these sectors”.

The government is also planning to introduce a phased manufacturing program for other sectors to allow companies to gradually increase local value-addition. The program, currently in vogue for components and accessories used for mobile phones, is proposed to be extended for furniture, plastics, toys and low-value consumer durables. Most of these items are currently imported from China.

The details of both the programs are being worked out and would be put up for the approval of the federal Cabinet soon, they said.

A spokesperson for Niti Aayog, the government’s policy think tank, didn’t answer a call made during business hours.

India imported goods worth $65 billion from China in the year ended March 31, while its exports to the neighboring nation stood at $17 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $48 billion, according to latest government data.”

Khadi’s E-Market Portal Goes Viral; Indians Go Vocal for Local

Source:- Press Information Bureau: September 10, 2020

Khadi and Village Industry Commission’s (KVIC) venture into the online marketing segment has quickly established a pan-India reach enabling the artisans sell their products to the remotest parts of India through the KVIC E-Portal – www.kviconline.gov.in/khadimask/. The online sale that was launched with just Khadi Face Masks on July 7 this year has evolved into a full-fledged E-market platform with 180 products as on today and many more in the pipeline.

As per KVIC, the product range includes hand-spun and hand-woven fine fabric like Muslin, Silk, Denim and Cotton, Unisex Vichar Vastra by Ritu Beri, Khadi’s Signature Wrist Watch, a variety of honey, Herbal and Green Tea, Herbal Medicines and Soaps, Papad, Kacchi Ghani Mustard Oil and a range of herbal cosmetics among many others. KVIC is adding at least 10 new products to its online inventory on a daily basis and it has set a target of adding at least 1000 products by October 2 this year. In less than two months’ time, KVIC has served nearly 4000 customers.

KVIC Chairman, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena said the online sale of Khadi products is a big push to “Swadeshi” and aims at empowering the local artisans. “Khadi’s E-market portal is providing our artisans an additional platform to sell their goods. This is a concrete step towards building of Aatmanirbhar Bharat,” Saxena said, adding the product range is priced from Rs 50 to Rs 5000, keeping in view the choice and affordability of all sections of buyers.

“Earlier products of Khadi institutions were sold only through outlets and hence their visibility was confined to a few states only. However, with KVIC’s E-portal, products are now reaching to the far-flung areas of the country and thus giving wider marketing spectrum to Khadi institutions which will ultimately increase their production and add to the income of artisans.

Customers, too, have expressed great satisfaction over the online sale of Khadi products. A regular Khadi customer in Delhi who used to buy products from the Khadi India outlet in Connaught Place could not find the same products in Assam where he is posted now. However, the E-market platform has enabled him to order his desired products online and receive the same at his doorsteps.

KVIC has received online orders from 31 States and Union Territories that include the far-flung Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. KVIC has fixed the minimum order value at Rs 599 for free delivery of goods. It has entered into an agreement with the Postal Department for delivery of consignments via Speed Post.

According to KVIC, it has developed the E-portal in-house and thus saved crores of rupees to the exchequer. The exercise is similar to the PMEGP E-portal developed in-house by KVIC where it saved at least Rs 20 crore on website development and maintenance.

KVIC’s online inventory also includes stitched Modi Kurta and Modi Jackets for men and palazzo and straight trousers for women. Several other products like Khadi Rumal, spices, herbal neem wood comb, shampoo, cosmetics, cow dung and cow urine soap, yoga dress and several varieties of ready-to-eat food have been included so far.”

Silver Lake to invest Rs 7,500 crore in Reliance Retail

Source:- IBEF: September 10, 2020

US private equity firm Silver Lake will invest Rs 7,500 crore in Reliance Retail which marks the second billion-dollar investment by Silver Lake in a Reliance Industries subsidiary after the $1.35 billion investment in Jio Platforms announced earlier this year. Shares of RIL traded 1.07 percent higher at Rs 2129.60 after the announcement, while the benchmark BSE Sensex was down 0.49 percent at 38,179. “Reliance Industries and Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL) announced that Silver Lake will invest Rs 7,500 crore into RRVL, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries. This investment values RRVL at a pre-money equity value of Rs 4.21 lakh crore. Silver Lake’s investment will translate into a 1.75 percent equity stake in RRVL on a fully diluted basis,” RIL said in a release. “We believe technology will be key to bringing the much-needed transformation in this sector so that various constituents of the retail ecosystem can collaborate to build inclusive growth platforms. Silver Lake will be an invaluable partner in implementing our vision for Indian Retail,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries.

Egon Durban, Co-CEO and Managing Partner of Silver Lake, said, “Reliance’s New Commerce strategy could become the disruptor of this decade. We are thrilled to have been invited to partner with Reliance in their mission for Indian Retail.” Silver Lake is the global leader in technology investing, with over $40 billion in combined assets under management. The company has a terrific track record of investing in some of the largest and successful tech companies globally such as Twitter, Airbnb, Alibaba, Dell Technologies, ANT Financials, Twitter, Alphabet’s Waymo and Verily amongst others.”

Telemedicine market in India to reach USD 5.5 bn by 2025: EY-IPA study

Source:- “IBEF: September 09, 2020

According to an EY-IPA study, the domestic telemedicine market is expected to reach USD 5.5 billion by 2025, and Indian healthcare industry should shift from traditional method of doctor-patient interaction to digitally-enabled remote consultations

Evolution of teleconsultation and e-pharmacy will be the new norm and around 15-20 percent of the healthcare ecosystem is expected to shift to virtual care across triaging, consults, remote monitoring, home health, etc. The healthcare industry, driven by the increased digitisation will require a strong regulatory framework to protect the patient’s data privacy and prescription substitution.

The study stated that the telemedicine market in India will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31 percent for the period 2020–25 and reach USD 5.5 billion.

There is a growth in virtual care such as tele–consult, telepathology, teleradiology and e–pharmacy in India due to the current pandemic situation. Teleconsultation and e-pharmacy will account for around 95 percent of the telemedicine market by 2025 which amounts to USD 5.2 billion

As per the study, India’s e-pharmacy market is projected to reach 10-12 percent of the overall pharmaceutical sales in the next five years driven by strong regulations, increased funding and creation of digital infrastructure, it added.

Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) Secretary-General Sudarshan said that with the challenges due to the COVID-19, consumer behaviour and patterns are changing and the new norms of social distancing traditional ways of in-person doctor-patient interaction are being digitally enabled by remote consultations.

EY India Life Sciences – Partner & Leader Sriram Shrinivasan quoted that the current levels of adoption by the patients and doctors along with emerging technologies, India will experience a growth in the digital health ecosystem, however, it will also need a robust regulatory and governance framework that provides the right support for growth”

India’s agriculture technology can grow to $24.1 billion in 5 years: Report

Source:- IBEF: September 08, 2020

India’s agriculture technology sector has the potential to grow manifold to $24.1 billion in the next five years, according to a new report. With a turnover of $204 million, India’s agri-tech sector is at under 1% of its market potential today.

A big chunk of the gains will likely be made by companies addressing supply chain and financial services solutions, driven by the availability of affordable high-speed internet and maturing of India’s digital content ecosystem, the EY report on India’s agri-tech potential said. The report has also forecast consolidation in the agri-tech space along with start-ups expanding horizontally to service the end-to-end needs of farmers within the next few years. “Attractive market opportunity, nascency in investment funding and minuscule penetration by incumbent agri-tech players offer an opportunity for established players such as institutional retailers, ecommerce players and food processing companies to create impact at scale,” said Ankur Pahwa, partner and national leader — ecommerce and consumer internet at EY India.

EY estimates that five key categories of agri-tech will control the lion’s share of the sector’s turnover, with the agri-tech market for supplying farm inputs being as big as $1.7 billion by 2025, the market for precision agriculture and farm management growing to $3.4 billion in that time, while the market for quality management and traceability could be worth $3 billion. The market for tech enabled supply chain and output market linkages will be the largest segment, which could be worth $12 billion by 2025, according to EY. The second largest segment in the overall agri-tech market could be for financial services, with a market potential of $4.1 billion in the next five years. Funding in the sector so far is also skewed towards start-ups serving these five sectors, with a bulk of the money being pumped into start-ups building agri supply chains and market linkages.”

Government approves proposal to export made in India mobile phones worth $100 billion

Source:- IBEF: September 08, 2020

The government has reportedly cleared a USD 100 billion proposal that allows manufacturers to export smartphones made in India to other parts of the world. Smartphone brands such as Samsung, Lava, Karbonn and contract manufactures Foxconn, Wistron, Pegatron are cleared to export smartphones made in India.

A senior government official quoted that the empowered committee which includes Niti Aayog CEO, secretaries of economic affairs, expenditure, revenue, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has approved applications estimated to export around USD 100 billion worth mobile phones under the production linked incentive scheme (PLI) and all the applications will be placed before the cabinet probably this week.

The applicants include seven Indian and five overseas manufacturing companies, along with six applicants from the components manufacturing scheme.

According to the applications, Foxconn, Wistron, Pegatron, and Samsung have submitted production estimates worth USD 50 billion each in the next five years

The government had launched the PLI scheme to boost the manufacturing of smartphones in India and several brands and suppliers showed interest by applying for the scheme and gain benefits worth Rs 41,000 crore.

Samsung is looking to manufacture mobile phones worth Rs 3.7 lakh crore in India over the next five years. Out of this, smartphones worth USD 30 billion, or Rs 2.2 lakh crore will be produced under the PLI scheme.”

Tech Mahindra teams up with AWS to offer Blockchain solutions

Source:- IBEF: September 08, 2020

IT major Tech Mahindra has announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build solutions based on Blockchain technology across verticals, including aviation and aerospace, telecom, and healthcare. Tech Mahindra will introduce Blockchain solutions built on Amazon Managed Blockchain to global customers using AWS and other leading organizations across the globe, it said in a statement.

“”Our collaboration with AWS will support future pandemic preparedness and accelerate an economic rebound post Covid-19 for organizations operating global supply chains and eliminate silos,”” said Rajesh Dhuddu, Blockchain and Cybersecurity Practice Leader, Tech Mahindra. Amazon Managed Blockchain is a fully managed service that makes it easy to create and manage scalable blockchain networks using the popular open source frameworks. Tech Mahindra plans to develop and market several transformative Blockchain solutions across a gamut of industries like banking and financial services, telecom, retail, manufacturing, oil and gas, travel and logistics and healthcare in the next 12 to 18 months. The collaboration is in line with Tech Mahindra’s ‘TechMNxt’ charter, which focuses on providing solutions that enable digital transformation and meet the customer’s evolving needs.”

Shri Piyush Goyal says country’s Exports and Imports are showing positive trends; Trade deficit is narrowing

Source:- IBEF

“Press Information Bureau: September 07, 2020

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal met the Office-bearers of various Export Promotion Councils (EPCs), to discuss the issues concerning the country’s global trade, ground level situation, and problems being faced by the exporters. Shri Goyal has been holding a series of discussions with the EPCs, particularly since the lockdown. The Commerce Secretary Dr Anup Wadhawan, DGFT Shri Amit Yadav and other senior officers of the Ministry were present in the meeting.

In his opening remarks, the Minister said that the country’s exports as well as imports are showing positive trends. The exports are approaching the last year’s levels, after making a sharp dip in April this year due to pandemic. Regarding imports, the positive thing is that the Capital Goods imports have not declined, and the reduction in imports has been seen mainly in crude, gold and fertilizers. He added that the trade deficit is reducing drastically and our share in the global trade is improving, thanks to our resilient supply chains, and perseverance and hard work of our exporters. The minister also said that we are trying to generate more reliable and better trade data so that nation can do better planning and frame policies accordingly.

The Minister said that 24 focus manufacturing sectors have been identified which have the potential to expand, scale-up operations, improve quality, and lead enhancement of Indian share in global trade and value chain. These sectors have capacity to do import substitution and push exports. He said that India is being seen in the world as trusted and resilient partner in global value chain.

On the issue of recent changes in the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS), the Minister said that the capping of Rs 2 Crore will not affect 98% of the exporters who claim benefit under the scheme. The Government has already announced Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) scheme for exporters to take the place of MEIS, and a Committee has also been set up to determine the ceiling rates under the RoDTEP scheme. This new scheme would reimburse the embedded taxes and duties already incurred by exporters.

The Minister, after listening to the challenges, experiences and suggestions of the EPC office-bearers, expressed thanks for their valuable feedback, saying that Macro-numbers sometimes don’t make one realize the difficulties being faced by the Exporters. He acknowledged that certain sectors, which are primarily dependent on the discretionary spending, are under severe stress. Shri Goyal promised to help the Exporters as much as possible, and take up such issues, which fall outside the ambit of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with concerned departments. He said that SEZ issues are being taken up with the Finance Ministry. He called upon the exporters to engage with the Steering Committee set up to promote Indian manufacturing.”

Japan to subsidise manufacturers if they shift to India from China: Report

Source:- IBEF: September 07, 2020

A Nikkei Asian Review report has stated that Japanese manufacturers will be eligible for government subsidies if they shift production out of China to India or Bangladesh. The subsidy aims to diversifying Japan’s supply chains. Manufacturers can receive subsidies for feasibility studies and pilot programs. The total amount granted is expected to run into the tens of millions of dollars.

The subsidy aims to reduce Japan’s reliance on a handful of links in its supply chains, particularly China, and ensure a steady flow of such products as medical supplies and electrical components in an emergency, said the Nikkei report.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while to speaking to an Indo-American business summit, on Thursday called for a coordinated global effort to get back growth in the coronavirus pandemic.

“”This pandemic has also shown the world that the decision to base global supply chains should not only be based on cost but also on trust. Along with affordability of geography, companies are now also looking at reliability and policy stability. India is the location that has all these qualities. As a result, India is also becoming one of the leading destinations of foreign investment,”” Modi said.

The Nikkei report said Japan’s first round of subsidies announced in July granted more than 10 billion yen to 30 companies relocating manufacturing to Southeast Asia, such as Hoya, which is moving production of electronic components to Vietnam and Laos. Another 57 are receiving support for shifting production facilities to Japan.”

Foreign investors pour $6 bn into India stocks despite sinking economy

Source:- Business Standard

“India’s shrinking economy is not stopping foreign investors from pouring money into the nation’s stocks betting on a recovery.

International buyers plowed a net $6 billion into shares in Asia’s third-largest economy in August, the most since March last year. That’s as all other markets in the region excluding China suffered net withdrawals during the month.

Part of it is a bet that Indian equities will play catch-up after trailing the region’s benchmark so far in 2020: the S&P BSE Sensex has underperformed the MSCI Asia Pacific Index by about 6.5 percentage points. Foreigners were also drawn to share sales by some of India’s marquee financial firms — ICICI Bank Ltd., Axis Bank Ltd. and mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp raised a combined ($4.7 billion) last month.

“We place India at the top of the list with China for investment returns over the next 12-24 months,” said Nuno Fernandes, who helps oversee more than $2 billion in emerging-market assets at GW&K Investment Management LLC in New York. “India equities represent one of the fastest growth areas in the world.”

Foreigners have remained net buyers even after data Monday showed India’s economy shrank by a record 23.9% in the June quarter, putting in a net $231 million in the first three days of September. Helping them look past the grim GDP data is the improvement in business activity from July after the lockdown curbs were eased.

“We need to look beyond the near term and consider companies that will benefit from the normalization of economic activity and demand,” said Amit Goel, a fund manager at Fidelity International. Goel, who oversees $1.6 billion in India Focus Fund, said he bought shares of private banks, a large staples company and health-care firms in the past three months.

Still, rapidly rising virus cases have put a dampener on investor confidence. With the number nearing 4 million, India is becoming the world’s new virus epicenter.

“As long as Covid-19 cases continue, localized lockdowns are likely to hinder an economic recovery,” said Kristy Fong, senior investment director for Asian Equities at Aberdeen Standard Investments. Aberdeen has turned “more defensive” as it expects a “patchy rather than a V-shaped recovery,” she said.

For the bulls, there remain plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Indian shares.

“The worst is behind us and we’re steadily heading toward a recovery,” Amit Shah, head of India equity research at BNP Paribas said in a note Thursday, citing improving auto sales, plentiful rains that will improve rural wages and the central bank’s easy monetary policy. BNP expects the Sensex to end the year at 41,500, 8% higher from Friday’s close.”

Foreign investors pour into India stocks despite sinking economy

Source:- The Economic Times

“India’s shrinking economy is not stopping foreign investors from pouring money into the nation’s stocks betting on a recovery.

International byers plowed a net $6 billion into shares in Asia’s third-largest economy in August, the most since March last year. That’s as all other markets in the region excluding China suffered net withdrawals during the month.

Part of it is a bet that Indian equities will play catch-up after trailing the region’s benchmark so far in 2020: the S&P BSE Sensex has underperformed the MSCI Asia Pacific Index by about 6.5 percentage points. Foreigners were also drawn to share sales by some of India’s marquee financial firms — ICICI Bank Ltd. NSE 1.52 %, Axis Bank Ltd. and mortgage lender Housing Development Finance Corp raised a combined ($4.7 billion) last month.

“”We place India at the top of the list with China for investment returns over the next 12-24 months,” said Nuno Fernandes, who helps oversee more than $2 billion in emerging-market assets at GW&K Investment Management LLC in New York. “India equities represent one of the fastest growth areas in the world.””

Foreigners have remained net buyers even after data Monday showed India’s economy shrank by a record 23.9% in the June quarter, putting in a net $231 million in the first three days of September. Helping them look past the grim GDP data is the improvement in business activity from July after the lockdown curbs were eased.

“We need to look beyond the near term and consider companies that will benefit from the normalization of economic activity and demand,” said Amit Goel, a fund manager at Fidelity International. Goel, who oversees $1.6 billion in India Focus Fund, said he bought shares of private banks, a large staples company and health-care firms in the past three months.

Still, rapidly rising virus cases have put a dampener on investor confidence. With the number nearing 4 million, India is becoming the world’s new virus epicenter.

“As long as Covid-19 cases continue, localized lockdowns are likely to hinder an economic recovery,” said Kristy Fong, senior investment director for Asian Equities at Aberdeen Standard Investments. Aberdeen has turned “more defensive” as it expects a “patchy rather than a V-shaped recovery,” she said.

For the bulls, there remain plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Indian shares.

“The worst is behind us and we’re steadily heading toward a recovery,” Amit Shah, head of India equity research at BNP Paribas said in a note Thursday, citing improving auto sales, plentiful rains that will improve rural wages and the central bank’s easy monetary policy. BNP expects the Sensex to end the year at 41,500, 8% higher from Friday’s close.”

India’s apparel exports to register 40% growth in FY21: AEPC

Source:- IBEF: September 04, 2020

Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A. Sakthivel, quoted that the apparel exports from the India is likely to expand by about 40 per cent in the current financial year.

While addressing the 41st Annual General Meeting of the industry body, the Chairman said: “”We are working with a target to achieve a 40 per cent increase in apparel exports this financial year with major focus on new medical textiles, which will take the total apparel exports from $15.4 billion in last fiscal to about $22 billion in 2020-21.””

He also thanked Union Minister of Textiles, Smriti Zubin Irani for the initiatives taken to help this industry.

He urged the international buyers to do ‘commerce with compassion’ and honour their export orders.

Besides this, he facilitated the apparel into production of personal protective equipment (PPE) making India the second largest producer of medical textiles within a short period of time.

He further said the industry needs product diversification into Man Made Fibre (MMF) and plans to sign MoUs with several MMF manufacturers, including Reliance Industries Ltd, to improve the sector as MMF plays an important role in increasing India’s textile exports to the global market.”

India jumps 4 places on Global Innovation Index to enter top 50 league

Source:- Business Standard

“India has moved four places on the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020 to rank at 48 since 2019. This makes it the third-most innovative lower-middle-income economy in the world, according to the report. India at the 48th place also retains the highest rank in the central and southern Asia region.

The index, compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), along with Cornell University and the INSEAD Business School, presents the latest global innovation trends and annual innovation ranking of 131 economies.

India increased the most in three pillars: Institutions (61, from 77 in 2019), business sophistication (55, from 65 in 2019), and creative outputs (64, from 78 in 2019), it noted.

Under institutions, the country’s rank on indicators, such as political and operational stability (from 91 to 83), government effectiveness (from 65 to 55), and ease of resolving insolvency (from 95 to 47), improved remarkably.

Under business sophistication, indicators such as expenditure financed by business was not available last year; this time India came in at 48.

India also bettered its rank in both intellectual property payments (27, from 29 in 2019) and research talent (38, from 46 in 2019).

Under creative outputs, India increased its ranking by a combination of performance improvements and model changes. It gained 18 places in cultural and creative services exports to 21 and it ranked 31 on the new indicator on global brands, thanks to its 164 brands in the top 5,000, led by Tata Group.

However, India continued to lag in infrastructure, even as it moved up four notches to come in at 75, from 79 in 2019. Also, it lost seven places to move down to 60 in human capital and research, from 53 in 2019.

India came out as an innovation achiever for the tenth consecutive year. It was so because India was on the list of the first 10 countries, income-group wise.

However, Vietnam continued to leave India behind by coming in at 42, topping the list of lower middle-income group. Ukraine came in second, improving its ranking to 45, from 47 in 2019.

The report titled Who Will Finance Innovation? said gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) in India increased to $63.2 billion in purchasing power parity terms in 2017–2018, from $50.3 billion in 2014–2015, accounting for 2.9-per cent share in the world.

GERD in India is mainly driven by the government sector, of which 45.4 per cent is the central government, 6.4 per cent state governments, 6.8 per cent higher education, and 41.4 per cent industry — with 4.6 per cent from public sector industry and 36.8 per cent from the private sector during the year.

Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, which is a partner of WIPO in India, said, “The GII report could be India’s one-stop reference to plan and accelerate our journey towards the future we imagine for our people. I encourage you to refer to this report, discuss it with others, and consider ways we can improve as individual nations and as a global community.””

Insight – E-commerce and wellness trends spark new opportunities in South Asia

Source:- AUSTRADE

“India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have fast-evolving retail ecosystems and strong trade relationships with Australia. Even during COVID-19 lockdowns, these economies remain strong importers of Australian processed food and agricultural products. The Indian market, with 1.3 billion consumers, now features in the export strategies of many Australian FMCG companies, as they seek to diversify their export markets.

This insight examines the surge of interest in Australian-made health and wellness goods, and how e-commerce platforms are transforming accessibility for Australian exporters.

The health & wellness trend
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers in South Asia have focussed on boosting their health and immunity. This is a sector where Australian companies have already made commercial inroads — and more opportunities will arise. Australia’s iconic wellness brand, Swisse, reacted quickly and is now selling across 10 major e-commerce platforms in India.

Indian consumers are highly receptive to Australian wellness products. Consumers appreciate our clean, green and reliable manufacturing standards, and these high standards confer an automatic brand premium on Australian wellness products.

Similarly, there is increased demand across South Asia for products that are perceived to boost people’s immune system. In India and Bangladesh this applies to fresh produce, and in particular to Manuka honey. The demand for Australian citrus in Bangladesh has remained high this year, even during the local harvest season.

Breakfast cereal boom: oats are ‘in’
In India, there is increased demand for breakfast-cereal oats. Oats are generally seen as ‘clean’, immune-boosting products and a desirable alternative to traditional breakfasts.

The breakfast cereal market is now thriving across South Asia. In India this market is now worth A$301 million annually and growing at 18 per cent per year. Oats dominate, taking a 30 per cent market share of breakfast cereals by value. Australia continues to lead in Indian imports, with a market share of 70 per cent for processed oats and 74 per cent for raw oats.[1] Leading cereal mills and food manufacturers have approached Austrade seeking B2B import opportunities from Australian suppliers.

Other categories in high demand include functional foods with health-promoting properties such as protein bars. Sales of whey protein have also accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic, although there are high tariffs associated with these processed food products. Several new brands of Australian protein bars and whey protein will launch in Indian in the upcoming months.

E-commerce: the next big shift
The rapid growth of e-commerce in the health and wellness sector is accelerating opportunities for Australian companies and South Asia is uniquely poised for a boom. With a combined 670 million internet users – and over 130 million online shoppers – the region is the second largest mass market for Australian companies, second only to China.[2]

Growth in regional e-commerce is rapid. Online retail clocked A$75 billion in sales across South Asia in 2018–19. With year-on-year growth of over 40 per cent[3] the region’s internet economy is forecast to be worth more than A$200 billion within the next five years. [4]

This acceleration in e-commerce represents a revolution for retail in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. For the first time, modern, western brands will become accessible to the majority of consumers, bypassing the traditional local store and its cumbersome distribution channels.

Based on market observations by Austrade in South Asia, we forecast that the market for Australian e-commerce products will grow exponentially in the coming years. This applies especially to health, beauty, nutraceuticals and processed-food products.

The impact on Australian exporters
These two consumer trends – a growing appetite for wellness goods and enthusiasm for e-commerce – create good scope for Australian companies wanting to diversify their export markets to the South Asia region. Australian companies with a brand narrative that speaks to health and immunity will likely find ready markets among consumers.

Meanwhile, the rapid shift to e-commerce gives Australian companies a more effective route to market than ever before. Additionally, e-commerce platforms provide Australian companies with the chance to test products in the region without making a significant up-front investment.

Get connected with e-commerce companies
Following recent successes, Austrade has ongoing engagements with some of the leading e-commerce platforms in the region. These include the Australian Store on Amazon India; launched in February 2020 the store currently sells over 250 SKUs.[5]

For more information, please contact Yaser Siddiqui:

yaser.siddiqui@austrade.gov.au

+91 (11) 4575 6232”

RIL’s retail arm to acquire Future Group’s key businesses for Rs 24,713 crore

Source:- IBEF: August 31, 2020

Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd. (RRVL) plans to acquire Future Group’s retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing businesses for Rs 24,713 crore (US$ 3.51 billion), said the Reliance Industries subsidiary in a release. The deal between RIL and Future Group was announced on Saturday following a board meeting of Future Enterprises Ltd (FEL).

The all-cash deal has been carried out on a slump sale basis, said a media statement by RIL.

The deal is subject to adjustments as set out in the composite scheme of arrangement said the release.

Under the agreement, Future Group will first merge certain companies carrying on the aforesaid businesses into Future Enterprises Limited (FEL).

Reliance Retail and Fashion Lifestyle Limited (RRFLL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of RRVL will get retail and wholesale undertakings of Future Group along with its logistics and warehousing undertaking.

“As a result of this reorganization and transaction, Future Group will achieve a holistic solution to the challenges that have been caused by COVID and the macroeconomic environment. This transaction takes into account the interest of all its stakeholders including lenders, shareholders, creditors, suppliers and employees giving continuity to all its businesses”, said Mr. Kishore Biyani, Group CEO, Future Group

RRFLL also plans to invest an additional amount of Rs 1,200 crore (US$ 170.24 million) in the preferential issue of equity shares of FEL to acquire 6.09 percent of post-merger equity holding and Rs 400 crore (US$ 5675 million) in a preferential issue of equity warrants which, upon conversion and payment of balance 75 percent of the issue price, will result in RRFLL acquiring further 7.05 percent of FEL.

Ms. Isha Ambani, director, Reliance Retail Ventures said, “With this transaction, we are pleased to provide a home to the renowned formats and brands of Future Group as well as preserve its business ecosystem, which has played an important role in the evolution of modern retail in India. We hope to continue the growth momentum of the retail industry with our unique model of active collaboration with small merchants and kiranas as well as large consumer brands. We are committed to continue providing value to our consumers across the country.”

The company release added, “This will help Reliance retail to accelerate providing support to millions of small merchants in increasing their competitiveness and enhance their income during these challenging times.””

Reliance Retail will acquire all Future group’s key consumer-facing businesses built and owned by Biyani.

“RRFLL and RRVL will take over certain borrowings and current liabilities related to the business and discharge the balance consideration by way of cash,” said a release by Future Group.

Although, FEL will hold the manufacturing and distribution of FMCG goods and integrated fashion sourcing and manufacturing business and its insurance JVs with Generali and JVs with NTC Mills.

Under this deal, there will be a merger of five listed units of Future Group across grocery, apparel, supply chain and the consumer business into FEL, which currently manages the group’s retail back-end infrastructure.

After this deal, Reliance will become one of the largest retail formats in India, which will further RIL’s e-commerce ambition to leverage Jio’s subscriber-base and attract the large mass of customers belonging to non-metros and compete for head-on with existing rivals Amazon and Flipkart.

The Reliance will have an immediate edge in the market as retail brands Big Bazaar, Fashion at Big Bazaar, Easy Day, and Brand Factory, are going to the company. The oil-to-telecom conglomerate already has an in-house multi-brand retail product. The deal will include retail, logistics, and warehousing assets.

Reliance Retail runs several retail formats in the grocery, electronics, and apparel space but it does not have as large a reach as Future Group, especially in the grocery business.

Reliance Retail will have a greater hold in the modern trade market with additional 1,700-1,800 stores spanning fashion, lifestyle, and grocery segments.

Future Enterprises will subsequently sell by way of a slump sale the retail and wholesale business that includes key formats such as Big Bazaar, fbb, Foodhall, Easyday, Nilgiris, Central and Brand Factory to RRFLL.

“These businesses will further benefit from a supply agreement with RRFLL. This deal will also enable FEL to focus on the creation of new-age brands in the FMCG and fashion space and expand its reach. The transaction will help FEL to expand with a focussed business model and a stronger balance sheet,”” said the Future Group release.

The investment banker to Future Group was JM Financial.”

Cooperation, Collaboration and Commitment will guide the strategic partnership between India and ASEAN countries, says Shri Piyush Goyal

Source:- IBEF: August 28, 2020

Commerce and Industry Minister Shri Piyush Goyal today said that 3Cs- Cooperation, Collaboration, and Commitment, will guide the strategic partnership between India and ASEAN countries. Addressing the ASEAN-India Business Council virtual meet, Shri Goyal said the COVID-19 pandemic period provided a unique opportunity to India to demonstrate itself as the trusted partner to the world, particularly in times of stress. Shri Goyal extended a hand of friendship to the ASEAN region, which he described as deep and valuable partners and partners in the progress.

The Minister said that Aatamnirbhar Bharat connotes a self-reliant country which is ready to engage with the world from the position of strength and confidence, and on equal and fair terms. He said that India and ASEAN have not been able to harness the full trade potential, for various reasons, but now is the time to open a matrix to expand trade, address concerns of all nations and businesses, and resolve the differences. He extended India’s friendship and partnership to ASEAN through businesses, so that together both the partners can succeed, secure future, work together, attain prosperity, and achieve a target of US$ 300 billion trade. Shri Goyal said that the business council meeting is a good forum to discuss concerns and best practices, share ideas, and flag the problems.

Shri Goyal said that during the early days of the pandemic, India went out to the world for its requirements to fight COVID-19, but didn’t get much traction, as everyone was holding on for their own requirements. But, India, on the other hand, with the ability to provide medicines, acted as the Pharmacy for the world. We supplied medicines to over 150 countries of the world, to every part of the world, particularly to the less developed nations. Restrictions were imposed initially but that was with the noble intent of ensuring that the poor nations are not deprived of the medicines. All this showed that India is a resilient country, a trusted partner, and a friend indeed.

Shri Goyal said that the country developed adequate capacity to manufacture PPE, masks, and ramped up our testing capabilities from under 1000 per day to about a million a day. “We have been self-sufficient under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. During the period, Indians developed commitment and consciousness to maintain social distancing, to adequately take care of personal hygiene, always wear a mask and care for near ones.”, the Minister said. He said that India demonstrated its resilience, ability to overcome problems and our collective efforts ensured that we could protect lives and livelihoods. We enforced the strictest lockdown to save lives, and then ensured quick un-lockdown to bring take care of the livelihood issues, he added.”

Infosys inks five-year deal with Genesys

Source:- IBEF: August 28, 2020

IT services major Infosys signed a five-year deal with the cloud customer experience and contact center solutions provider, Genesys.

This five-year partnership with Genesys will help both companies to develop and deploy innovation and best-in-class solutions in the customer experience market said a statement released by the company.

Under this partnership, Infosys will launch Genesys’ contact center solutions in the market.

“Clients of both organizations stand to benefit from the enhanced capability that will come from a combined investment in innovation, a broader ecosystem of strategic partners, and a shared commitment to delivering world-class customer experiences,” it added.

Moreover, Infosys will utilize the Research and development (RandD), operations and customer service for Genesys PureConnect, it said.

“It (partnership) will bring the industry-leading cloud communications solutions from Genesys to our clients and partners and enhance our ability to accelerate their migration to cloud communication solutions,” said Infosys CEO Mr. Salil Parekh.

Sales and marketing will be managed by Genesys along with additional functions for this solution, the statement added.

“Our strategic partnership with Infosys will be instrumental in enabling organizations of all sizes around the world to realize the Genesys vision of Experience as a Service,” said Mr. Tony Bates, CEO of Genesys.

“Both companies share a commitment to ongoing investment in the latest contact center technologies and delivering the highest levels of support so that customers can always provide differentiated and personalized experiences – a paramount component for business success today”, he added.”

Mahindra ties up with Israel’s REE Automotive to develop commercial Evs

Source:- IBEF: August 27, 2020

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) entered in a partnership with Tel Aviv-based REE Automotive to explore the production of electric commercial vehicles.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the two companies to explore the development and manufacturing of electric commercial vehicles for global markets, said M&M.

Under this collaboration, the company will use REE’s revolutionary electric vehicle corner module and platform technology of integrating powertrain, suspension, and steering components in the arch of a vehicle wheel. Along with Mahindra’s well-established vehicle design, engineering, sourcing capability and manufacturing assets, is set to be a win-win strategic partnership for both companies it added.

It is expected that the partnership will support REE’s global customer need for up to 250,000 electric commercial vehicle units over a few years, including any volumes for Mahindra’s domestic and international markets, it added.

“”Our collaboration with REE has the potential to bring a disruptive approach to a new age of vehicles capitalising on our respective strengths,”” said M&M Executive Director (Auto and Farm Sectors) Mr Rajesh Jejurikar.

REE Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mr Daniel Barel said, “Mahindra’s unique cost structure, design and engineering capabilities and volume flexibility will be key to the company’s ability to address the majority of the commercial EV market with both large volume vehicles as well as more targeted mission-specific vehicles.””

Flipkart aims 100 per cent transition to electric vehicles in next 10 years

Source:- IBEF

“IBEF: August 26, 2020

Flipkart, Walmart-owned e-commerce firm, has pledged to transition to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 across its e-commerce value chain by partnering with Climate Group’s global electric mobility initiative, EV100.

The company is working together with environment-friendly companies towards accelerating the transition to EVs and making electric transport the new normal by 2030.

“Our commitment to the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative ties in with this larger vision of environmental sustainability and allows us to learn from the most forward-thinking global perspectives as part of the EV100 ecosystem,”” said Mr Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive officer, Flipkart.

The company plans to add electric vehicles into its entire fleet over a 10-year period by placing requirements in service contracts signed with EV suppliers, installing charging infrastructure close to its 1,400-supply-chain premises, conducting awareness programmes and incentivizing delivery executives towards the use of EVs.

It will, thus, be leading the e-commerce sector’s sustainability transformation, and support India’s ambition of ensuring 30 per cent electric mobility by 2030. “Sustainability is a key pillar for Flipkart… we have already deployed EVs in Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Bhubaneswar. Pilots have been successfully conducted in Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Lucknow and deployment will begin in September,”” said Mr Mahesh Pratap Singh, head-sustainability and social responsibility, Flipkart.”

Government of India and AIIB sign agreement for $500 million to improve the network capacity, service quality and safety of the suburban railway system in Mumbai

Source:- IBEF

“The Government of India, the Government of Maharashtra, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) today signed a loan agreement for a US$ 500 million Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III to improve the network capacity, service quality and safety of the suburban railway system in Mumbai.

The Project is expected to increase network capacity in the region with the reduction in journey time and fatal accidents of commuters. It is estimated that among primary beneficiaries of the project, 22 per cent are female passengers who will benefit from improved safety and quality of service.

The loan agreement was signed by Shri Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India, Shri Sanjay Kumar, Chief Secretary on behalf of the Government of Maharashtra, Shri R. S. Khurana, Chief Managing Director on behalf of the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation and Shri Rajat Misra, Director General (Acting), Investment Operations on behalf of the AIIB.

Shri Khare said that this project will assist in improved mobility, service quality and safety of passengers of the sub urban railway system of Mumbai, by providing faster, more reliable, and higher quality transport services compared to road-based transport. There will be direct safety benefits to passengers and the public through introduction of trespass control measures.

With a population of 22.8 million (2011), Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is the most populous metropolitan region in India and is expected to reach 29.3 million by 2031 and 32.1 million by 2041. This population growth represents the core driver behind Mumbai’s urban expansion, compelling the state of Maharashtra to prioritize sound urban and infrastructure planning which balances economic activities, mobility as well as the optimization of environmental and social outcomes.

Around 86 percent of Mumbai commuters rely on public transport. However, supply has not kept pace with rising travel demand. The Mumbai suburban railway network, which carries three-quarters of all motorized travel (78 percent of passenger-km or eight million passengers per day) increasing at three percent annually, suffers from some of the most severe overcrowding in the world. User experience is further compromised by the low amenity of carriages, substandard stations and station access, and serious safety concerns. Between 2002-2012, there were more than 36,152 fatalities (on average, 9.9 fatalities per day) and 36,688 injuries on the Mumbai suburban railway network. A key reason for accidents and deaths is trespassing at or between stations as well as overcrowding of both stations and train cars.

AIIB Vice President D.J. Pandian said that this project represents another major step in supporting our member countries in their efforts to provide transport capacity while removing transport bottlenecks, and thus improving the daily commuting experience of millions of Mumbaikars. In line with our Transport Sector Strategy, the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III will also help in reducing carbon emissions by shifting passengers away from higher-carbon road transport towards efficient and convenient rail-based mobility. In addition, female passengers will benefit from improved safety and quality of service.

The total estimated cost of the project is US$ 997 million, of which US$ 500 million will be financed by the AIIB, US$ 310 million by the Government of Maharashtra, and US$ 187 million by the Ministry of Railways. The US$ 500 million loans from the AIIB has a 5-year grace period and a maturity of 30 years.”

India, Japan and Australia are working on a supply chain pact to counter China

Source:- The Print

“New Delhi/Tokyo: Japan, India and Australia are seeking to build stronger supply chains to counter China’s dominance as trade and geopolitical tensions escalate across the region, according to people in Tokyo and New Delhi with knowledge of the matter.

The three nations are discussing building a “supply chain resilience initiative,” according to the people, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media about internal discussions. The talks are at a working level currently, but Japan would like to bring them to a higher level at some point, according to a person in Tokyo.
India’s government is considering the plan and will make a decision soon about whether to participate, some of the people said. An Australian official declined to confirm the talks.

The discussions were earlier reported by The Economic Times.

The intensifying U.S.-China conflict and worsening diplomatic relations across the region are forcing companies to consider whether they can continue to do business in China as before. In addition, the disruptions to trade caused by Covid-19 brought home how dependent many nations were on China for essential goods such as ventilators or masks, spurring talk about diversification.

Factory diversification
Japan is trying to pare its reliance on Chinese factories, with the government subsidizing some companies to shift or expand operations in Japan and Southeast Asia. So far 87 firms are participating in the program, which will pay out 243.5 billion yen ($2.3 billion).

Both India’s and Australia’s trade and diplomatic relations with China are fraying. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government restricted some Chinese imports and banned several Chinese apps after a deadly border clash with its neighbor. In Australia, exports like beef, barley and now wine have been targeted by China amid deteriorating ties between the two nations.

The quad
Along with the U.S., Japan, Australia and India are members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, a loose grouping for national security consultation.

Two calls and a text message sent to India’s trade ministry spokesperson during business hours were unanswered.

A spokesman for Australia’s foreign ministry said the nation is working with a range of partners to ensure supply chains are kept open and resilient during the recovery from Covid-19 but did not confirm whether it was working on a deal with Japan and India. There’s no clear agreement between the three nations on any action yet, an official from Japan’s trade ministry said.

Earlier this year Australia and India agreed to work together on diversifying supply chains.

The new proposal will seek to lean on such bilateral agreements between countries and put in place further measures for trade facilitation and attracting foreign direct investment in the Indo-Pacific region, the people said. Nations from Southeast Asia would also be invited to participate, they said. –Bloomberg”

Tata Tele partners FirstWave solutions to expand cyber security portfolio

Source:- IBEF

“Tata Teleservices (TTSL) has partnered with Australian cloud security company FirstWave Cloud Technology to expand its cybersecurity portfolio.

Under this partnership, TTSL will use FirstWave’s Cloud Content Security Platform (CCSP) to provide email security, web security, next-generation firewall, endpoint security, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) Security Services.

The SMB customers of Tata Teleservices will have access to a comprehensive smart perimeter security proposition that is robust, scalable and can be rapidly deployed at an affordable cost as a part of this agreement, the company said.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic has created a unique set of opportunities and threats in its wake. We are excited to partner with FirstWave to offer Customers a world-class Platform based Security Portfolio that will enable them to meet these cybersecurity threats, efficiently and cost-effectively,” TTSL president for enterprise business Harjit Singh said.

The company will offer security solutions for customers using public and private cloud business applications.

Tata group had earlier sold consumer mobile business to Bharti Airtel but continues to operate the enterprise division of TTSL.”

Maruti Suzuki partners with IIM Bangalore to incubate mobility startups

“Source:- IBEF”

In order to increase its engagement with start-ups in the area of mobility, India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India entered in a partnership with the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB).

This is the first-of-its-kind initiative taken by the company that will help the early-stage start-ups in becoming a large-scale business. There will be a 3-month (pre-incubation) and 6- month (incubation) engagement period for mobility start-ups at the Nadathur S. Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL), the start-up hub and incubation center of IIMB.

Maruti Suzuki India said that it expects to provide aid to start-ups working in technology-based innovations that can be applied in the mobility sector.

“Mobility start-up incubation program addresses the needs of early-stage start-ups, which have the potential of becoming large-scale businesses. This partnership with IIMB will spearhead innovation in the mobility space. The Indian start-up community provides much-needed impetus to Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of Start-up India. The tie-up is aimed to nurture the next generation companies that will define future mobility solutions and can make a significant contribution to create jobs,” said Mr. Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director & CEO, Maruti Suzuki India.

In January 2019, the company had introduced MAIL (Mobility and Automobile Innovation Lab) to support start-ups by co-creating innovative business solutions in the mobility space.

Prof Venkatesh Panchapagesan, Chairperson, NSRCEL, said “Our mobility program provides start-ups the practical expertise of a leader like Maruti Suzuki with the incubation support depth and experience of NSRCEL. We will leverage the broader IIM Bangalore’s network of faculty, students, and alumni as well as the expertise and counsel of a host of partner institutions who are active in this domain.”

Aid will be provided to start-ups under this program, where early-stage start-ups will get incubation support and an opportunity for potential partnership with Maruti Suzuki to fast-track the growth of their venture. Maruti Suzuki will provide full support for need assessment, access to a domain expert, investor connect, mentoring, guidance to regulations, and demo day to catalyze growth to these start-ups.”

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