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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.”

Artificial Intelligence could add $450-$500 billion to GDP by 2025: Nasscom

“Source:- Economic Times”
Pune: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data could add $450-$500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025, industry body Nasscom said in a report.

According to the ‘Unlock Value from Data and AI: The Indian Opportunity’ report, this could in turn aid India’s economic growth and recovery.

Nasscom’s action plan recommends focusing on five key areas — strategy, data, technology stack, talent and execution.

According to the report, if India acts quickly, it can become a leader in building a holistic data utilization and AI effort, especially as countries emerge from the pandemic and global economic slowdown.

The action plan and report has been reviewed by industry leaders including N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons; Rishad Premji, Chairman, Wipro; UB Pravin Rao, Chairman, Nasscom and Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India.

The recommendations were also presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it said.

“Digital India has reimagined how our government connects with citizens and accelerated deployment of AI and other emerging technologies will help further this objective. In order to harness its full potential, India needs to embrace AI innovation and regulation with an open, inclusive…and a collaborative mindset,” said Minister of Law and Justice, Communications, Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the virtual launch of the report, Wipro chairman Rishad Premji said it was important to have a comprehensive view of what India can drive.

“How do we ensure we move beyond from pilots to scalability. We do a great job in starting ideas off and getting them into pilot mode, but how do we get real scale where the magic lies andidentify the challenges that lie in getting a pilot to scale,” said Premji.

Rao, echoing similar sentiments, said the country needs a razor-sharp focus on execution, given that there are opportunities to use AI in every sector.

The report suggests three key interventions to create a vibrant data economy in India.

This includes identifying datasets of national importance with each ministry with specific use cases, launching a program to create a marketplace of data and derived assets, and establishing a central agency for defining and enforcing data standards.

It recommends focusing on building a vibrant data economy by developing high quality datasets, data governance standards and data marketplace and strengthening capabilities which could position India as a global hub, enabling investment, jobs and innovation.

“India is at the inflection point of its digital journey… India has the potential to become a global hub for data and AI. The moment is now, to support and grow a vibrant AI ecosystem in India,” said Microsoft India President Anant Maheshwari.

of its digital journey… India has the potential to become a global hub for data and AI. The moment is now, to support and grow a vibrant AI ecosystem in India,” said Microsoft India President Anant Maheshwari.

“Data and AI’s true potential emerges from its ability to drive transformation across multiple sectors through a diverse range of applications. The report articulates the key structural steps that India needs to take to realise the value of this opportunity,” said Debjani Ghosh, President, Nasscom.

FPL Technologies secures $10 mn funding from Sequoia India, others

FPL Technologies on Tuesday said it has raised $10 million (about 74.6 crore) in funding from Sequoia India, Matrix Partners India and Hummingbird Ventures.

A number of angel investors also participated in the series A round, the company said in a statement.

The latest investment brings FPL Technologies’ total funding since launch to approximately $15 million, it added.

The funding will help the company rapidly scale up its engineering and product teams to develop and grow the issuance of ‘OneCard’ to more customers, it said.

The company has launched its mobile-first credit card, OneCard, that is built by FPL on a full-stack proprietary technology platform in India.

A VISA Signature metal credit card is issued in partnership with a banking partner.

OneCard is currently available across 12 cities in India, inclusive of Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Indore, Jaipur and Kolkata, the statement said, adding that plans for further geographic expansion are underway.

“We are absolutely convinced about the potential of the Indian credit card market on the back of massive growth of card acceptance, consumer adoption towards digital payments and availability of a large base of risk-scored customers in bureaus,” FPL Technologies co-founder and CEO Anurag Sinha said.

Ultratech to invest ₹1500 crore in capex in FY21: Kumar Mangalam Birla

India’s largest cement company Ultratech Cement Ltd will invest 1500 crore in capital expenditure this fiscal despite the constraints of an ongoing pandemic, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, said at the annual shareholder meeting today. With a slew of acquisitions made in the last two years, Ultratech’s global capacity is now 114.8 million tonnes per annum and is the is the only company to have a capacity of over 100 million tonnes in a single country, outside of China.

“The company has planned total capex cash outlay of 1,500 crore for a range of key initiatives,” Birla said. “These include installation of 66 MW of waste heat recovery systems (WHRS), 1.2 million tonnes per annum brownfield cement capacity addition in West Bengal and Bihar, pending work for phase 2 of the Bara grinding unit in Uttar Pradesh, coal block development in Madhya Pradesh, new Ready Mix Concrete plants and other plant upkeep capex. With these expansion plans, your company’s consolidated cement capacity will stand augmented to 118 million tons per annum and green power capacity will increase to 185 MW for Waste Heat Recovery Systems and over 350 MW for solar and wind power.”

Ultratech recorded net revenues of $ 5.94 billion (Rs. 42,125 crores) and operating profit of $1.40 billion (Rs. 9,930 crores) during 2019-2020.

The cement industry, after witnessing a healthy demand growth of ~ 13% in 2018-19, exhibited a decline in growth in FY20, Birla said. “Cement demand was sluggish during H1FY20 exacerbated by the general economic slowdown. The second half of the fiscal witnessed extended monsoons, low capital expenditure on infrastructure and road activities, along with financial stress in the NBFC and housing sectors. The improving demand situation since December 2019 could not be sustained, with the outbreak of covid-19.”

With the Indian economy expected to contract during FY21, Birla said he was confident that the economy will revert to the 6 to 8% growth trajectory in the next fiscal.

Amazon launches online pharmacy in India

“Source:- BBC”
Online retail giant Amazon has launched an internet pharmacy in India, marking its entry into the country’s online medicine market.

Amazon Pharmacy will make its debut in Bangalore and it may be trialled in other Indian cities.

The move comes as the online drugs business has been given a major boost during the coronavirus pandemic.

This year US technology giants have invested billions of dollars in the Indian economy.

  • Amazon trials online food delivery in India
  • Google latest US tech giant to invest in India’s Jio
  • Amazon’s Bezos announces $1bn Indian investment

The Amazon Pharmacy service offers prescription, over-the-counter and traditional Ayurveda medication as well as basic health devices.

“This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

Amazon started its move into pharmaceutical retailing in 2017. The following year it bought US-based home delivery medications startup PillPack.

At the end of last year, the company introduced its Amazon Pharmacy branding to PillPack’s service.

In January, Amazon filed to trademark the name Amazon Pharmacy in the UK, Australia and Canada.

The move was seen as a sign that the company was set to significantly expand its prescription drugs business outside of the US.

US tech billions

In recent months India has seen billions of dollars of investment by US technology giants.

Earlier this year, Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos pledged to make major investments in India.

Speaking at a company event in New Delhi in January, he said the 21st Century is “going to be the Indian century”.

Amazon has set ambitious plans for expansion in the world’s largest democracy, where it has invested some $6.5bn (£5bn). Like rival US retailer Walmart, it sees major growth potential in the fast-growing economy.

In May, Amazon entered India’s meal delivery business with a trial in four parts of Banglore.

Last month, Google became the latest big American player to invest in Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries’ digital business.

The Alphabet-owned search engine agreed to pay $4.5bn for a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms.

Reliance’s billionaire owner Mukesh Ambani said the two companies would develop phones for 4G and 5G networks.

Also in July, Google said it would invest about $10bn in India over the next five to seven year, joining a list of new investors in Jio that includes Facebook, Intel and Qualcomm.

Israel’s Coralogix to invest over $30 million in India in 5 years

“Source:- Livemint”
Israel-based Coralogix, provider of machine-learning based log analytics and monitoring solution, on Thursday announced a strategic expansion into India with a commitment to invest over $30 million in the next 5 years.

As part of its expansion plans, Coralogix will set up a new Amazon Web Services (AWS) Mumbai region to help companies with regional server support, data storage capabilities, and compliance with the upcoming security laws.

“By localizing data, Coralogix will help customers meet compliance requirements for India’s new data privacy laws and dramatically improve service performance,” the company said in a statement.

Coralogix is also rolling out an onsite team to provide sales and customer success support to India-based companies.

“With today’s strategic move, we are proactively addressing new Indian data privacy laws scheduled to take effect in 2021 by providing Coralogix customers with a solution well ahead of most of our competitors,” said Ariel Assaraf, CEO and cofounder, Coralogix. “When the new laws are enacted, we anticipate a profound sense of urgency for companies who fall under domestic compliance rules to store their data locally and avoid being penalized for non-compliance.”

Cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology companies that collect user data are expected to be affected by these new laws. Several regional brands operating within these industries have already signed on as Coralogix customers including Postman, Jupiter Money, BookMyShow and more.

India ranks first in number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming; Major organic exports from India are flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice and pulses

“Source:- IBEF”
The growth story of organic farming is unfolding with increasing demand not only in India but also globally. In a world battered by the COVID pandemic, the demand for healthy and safe food is already showing an upward trend and hence this is an opportune moment to be captured for a win-win situation for our farmers, consumers and the environment.

India ranks first in number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming. Sikkim became the first State in the world to become fully organic and other States including Tripura and Uttarakhand have set similar targets. North East India has traditionally been organic, and the consumption of chemicals is far less than rest of the country. Similarly, the tribal and island territories are being nurtured to continue their organic story.

With the aim of assisting farmers to adopt organic farming and improve remunerations due to premium prices, two dedicated programs namely Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD) and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) were launched in 2015 to encourage chemical free farming. With the simultaneous thrust given by the Agri-export Policy 2018, India can emerge as a major player in global organic markets. The major organic exports from India have been flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice, and pulses, which were instrumental in driving an increase of nearly 50 per cent in organic exports in 2018-19, touching Rs 5151 crore (US$ 730.74 million). Modest commencement of exports from Assam, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland to UK, USA, Swaziland, and Italy have proved the potential by increasing volumes and expanding to new destinations as the demand for health foods increases.

Certification is an important element of organic produce to instill customer confidence. Both PKVY and MOVCD are promoting certification under Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) respectively targeting domestic and exports markets. The Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017 are based on the standards of NPOP and PGS. The consumer should look for the logos of FSSAI, Jaivik Bharat / PGS Organic India on the produce to establish the organic authenticity of the produce. PGS Green is given to chemical free produce under transition to ‘organic’ which takes 3 years.

About 40,000 clusters are being assisted under PKVY covering an area of about 7 lakh ha. MOVCD has brought in its fold 160 FPOs cultivating about 80,000 ha. For these clusters to become sustainable, it is important that henceforth market led production starts in a contract farming mode, so that there is a ready market for the produce and industry also gets the desired quality and quantity when required. This is being pursued in right earnest with bulk buyers including the phyto extracts industries. The commodities with highest potential include ginger, turmeric, black rice, spices, nutri cereals, pineapples, medicinal plants, buckwheat, bamboo shoots, etc. Supplies have started from NER including for Mother Dairy from Meghalaya, Revanta Foods and Big Basket from Manipur. Number of instances of farmer groups setting up markets in RWAs and selling directly is increasingly becoming common especially in Maharashtra and Karnataka where fresh organic produce is lapped up by the urbanites and farmers get a better bargain with no intermediaries. The presence of aggregators is imperative to bring about economies of scale for the small and marginal farmers. Hence the concept of market led One district – One product is being encouraged, as also development of more clusters in the vicinity of bigger towns where the appetite for organics will be much more.

When the pandemic struck India, access to quality food was as high on priority for the country as much as health. Advisories to States on supporting direct marketing in order to decongest mandis led to number of States issuing orders and amending legislations, thereby opening up market options to farmers. Working within the constraints posed due to disruption in logistics, access to regular markets, decrease in demand, number of States and clusters innovated and converted this crisis into an opportunity. The Green Caravan of Kohima created market linkages from all villages of Nagaland to urban areas for vegetables, handicrafts, and handlooms (www.instamojo.com). There was online sale of fruits and vegetables by FPOs in Maharashtra and doorstep delivery in specially designed electric vans in Punjab. Manipur Organic Agency (MoMA) mobilised all the 15 FPCs of MOVCD to collect produce and transport to two organic wholesale centers at Sanjenthong and Chingmeriong in Imphal for onward delivery to consumers.

The organic e-commerce platform www.jaivikkheti.in is being strengthened for directly linking farmers with retail as well as bulk buyers. Infusion of digital technology in a much bigger way has been a major takeaway during the pandemic period and is a welcome norm here to stay, saving in expenses on travel, logistics, etc while not compromising in any way on the quality of information sharing. In fact, video conferencing and webinars makes possible outreach with many more in the field, with minimum disruption in their works too and which was not possible in physical meetings. The NER States also participated in a webinar on Integrated Organic Farming models developed by ICAR, for increasing productivity, integrated nutrient and pest management and hence increase in farmers’ income. Video conferences are being held to understand the issues being faced by companies and strengthen the conversations with States and Regional Councils responsible for handholding clusters and in the process new partnerships are being forged for direct procurement from the farmers/farmer groups.

Natural farming is not a new concept in India, with farmers having tilled their land without the use of chemicals – largely relying on organic residues, cow dung, composts, etc since time immemorial. The philosophy underlying organic farming of integration of the elements – soil, water, microbes and ‘waste’ products, forestry and agriculture is the correct recipe for sustainable use of natural resources, which are coming under severe stress due to ever increasing requirement of food and feedstock for agri based industry. This is also in sync with the Sustainable Development Goal 2 targeting ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.

Hence with greater awareness and capacity building of the producers on compliance with international standards, Indian organic farmers will soon be reinforcing their rightful place in global agri trade.

Medha invests Rs 1,000 cr, sets up rail coach factory in Telangana

“Source:- Business Standard”

Hyderabad-based diversified firm, on Thursday laid the foundation for setting up a rail coach factory in Telangana at an investment of Rs 1,000 crore.

State Minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao participated in the ground-breaking ceremony of the Medha Rail Coach Factory in Kondakal village in neighbouring Rangareddy district, an official press release said.

The factory is expected to create 1,000 direct and 1,200 indirect jobs in the region, said the release.

“The facility will have a capacity of manufacturing coaches, locomotives, inter-city train sets, metro trains and monorail, among others. Production capacity is planned for 500 coaches of various types and 50 locomotives per year,” Medha Servo said.

Medha Servo Drives Pvt. Ltd designs and manufactures various world-class high-tech electronics products for application on locomotives, train sets, coaches, railway stations and yards, making it the largest propulsion equipment supplier to the Indian Railways.

Speaking at the ceremony, Rama Rao said Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao-led governments pro-active approach and conducive policies have encouraged Medha Group to establish its world-class rail coach factory.

The Minister said the facility is expected to create an eco system for rail coach manufacturing in the state.

Medha Servo Drives claims the new factory to be the largest private sector rail coach manufacturing unit in the country.

CarDekho to invest US$ 20 million in used car business in FY21

“Source:- IBEF”
CarDekho Group intends to invest US$ 20 million in used car business in FY21 as it forays into selling pre-owned vehicles through its upcoming franchise retail network, the company said.

The Girnar Software Pvt Ltd-owned venture, also a leading vehicle search platform, plans to open 250 franchise stores this year and ramp up this network to over 1,000 retail locations by 2022. The franchise outlets would be branded CarDekho Trustmark stores.

There has been an increase in demand of used cars as buyers are opting for budget-friendly personal transport while avoiding public transportation due to COVID-19 scare.

According to Mr Amit Jain, co-founder and chief executive officer, CarDekho, “Used car transactions for every new car sold would increase from 1.3 in FY20 to over 1.8 during FY21 as commuters are increasingly opting for personal mobility at a lower cost.”

In India, pre-owned car market had crossed 4 million units in size as the industry saw major changes after the GST rationalization to 12-18 per cent and penetration of organized channels, said findings of the Indian Blue Book, compiled by Mahindra First Choice Wheels Ltd, released last year.

The company also plans to launch its first franchise store for sale of certified used cars in Jaipur and has upcoming stores planned in Delhi NCR and Bengaluru respectively, it said in a statement.

It currently operates over 50 CarDekho Gaadi stores across India where it acquires used cars from their existing owners.

These CarDekho stores would be part of the fast penetrating organized channel in the pre-owned segment, similar to that of Maruti Suzuki True Value, Hyundai Motor’s H-Promise, Mahindra First Choice Wheels, Honda Auto Terrace, Toyota U Trust, among others.

It is seen that online sales platforms such as CarDekho are contributing considerably to the penetrating organized channel in the used car segment, which is expected to grow at 15-20 per cent year-on-year for next few years.

Similar user experience will be offered by CarDekho’s Trustmark stores that buyers get while visiting a regular new car showroom.

“Our pre-owned cars are checked for more than 200 parameters that includes previous accidents, tampering of odometer, among others. In a recent pilot project carried out in Delhi, only 30 out of 100 cars could meet the Trustmark criteria,” said Mr Jain.

“We don’t take used cars that are driven more than 90,000 kms and are more than 9 years old,” he added.

CarDekho also plans on offering 6-month or 7,500 km warranty on the vehicle’s engine and transmission to the buyer after stringent quality checks.

It also intends to offer financing and insurance options to its customers at the Trustmark stores. “We disburse car loans of about Rs 120 crore (US$ 17.02 million) per month,” Jain said.

Currently, there are about 4000 used car inspections per month done by the company, Mr Jain said his used car business is doing better than the pre-COVID levels.

“CarDekho Gaadi stores are operating at higher run-rate currently,” he said.

There was a 99 per cent recovery in customer traffic for used cars seen in June 2020, after the lockdown wherein cars in the Rs 1-5 lakh (US$ 1418- 7093) range saw maximum traction.

Top 8 Indian cities to add 10 million sq ft data centre space in next 2-3 years: Report

“Source:-  Economic Times”
MUMBAI:
Top 8 Indian cities are expected to add around 10 million sq ft data center space in the next 2-3 years aided by data localization norms and the massive digital push initiated by the Covid-19 pandemic, said an ANAROCK Property Consultants report.

Currently, data centres in India’s top 8 cities occupy 7.5 million sq ft space. The key cities leading demand for data centres include Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, among others. The demand resulted post the pandemic is expected to be lucrative for this segment fetching annual rental yield of 10-14%.

“The pandemic has been a massive catalyst for digital adoption across the spectrum. Work-from-home (WFH) compulsions, online education, video-based medical consultations, a huge increase in ecommerce and business-related video conferencing and webinars are increasing the demand for data centres,” said Shobhit Agarwal, MD & CEO, ANAROCK Capital.

Immediately after India went into a lockdown mode due to COVID-19, there was a 25-35% increase in data centre capacity usage as companies began to overhaul their digital infrastructure to deal with the new work environment.”

“Furthermore, the government’s move to make data localization mandatory ensures a promising future for data centres in the country,” Agarwal said.

Leading corporate entities like Adani Group, Hiranandani Group and  Salarpuria Sattva   have already rolled out significant investment plans for building data centres in India over the next decade and more.

As per industry estimates, the data centre outsourcing market in India is worth more than $2 billion and is projected to grow at 25% CAGR to reach $5 billion by FY2023-24. In fact, data centres are emerging as an alternative real estate asset class with huge potential, and leading real estate developers are zeroing in on this opportunity to reap superior returns from early investments.

 

Wiserfunding enters Indian market, to provide lending solutions for SME sector

“Source:- Livemint”
INDIA : The UK-based fintech firm Wiserfunding on Tuesday said it has entered Indian market, and will tie-up with banks and NBFCs to provide credit risk assessment solutions for targeted lending to SME sector.

Wiserfunding has launched its Artificial Intelligence (AI) backed cloud-based credit risk assessment tool targeted for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), it said in a release.

The existing models in lending sector are not specific to the SMEs, largely non-technology based and have low prediction accuracy, it added.

“The London headquartered fintech aims to invest USD 3–5 million (about 37 crore) over the next three years to tailor credit risk models specifically towards Indian SMEs to reach an accuracy level above 80%,” Wiserfunding said.

“The company plans to partner with 3-4 banks and 8-10 NBFCs in India and cover 8.5 million Indian SMEs through its models by end of the financial year,” it added.

The investment will also be towards creating technology to connect to various public and private databases to source all inputs to fully automate its models as it already does in Europe.

The fintech firm is backed and co-founded by Professor Edward Altman, one of the pioneers of credit risk analytics since the late 1960s and the inventor of the famous Z-score.

The new SME Z-score by Wiserfunding uses AI to provide accurate, reliable and unbiased credit risk assessment tools to assess the credit quality of SMEs using financial history.

It also uses publicly available structured and unstructured data such as corporate governance, management experience & macroeconomic indicators for lending assessment, the statement said.

Wiserfunding said its model is unique as it provides geographical and sectoral segmentation to maximise prediction power and is tailored specifically for SMEs.

“Typical to any economic shock, bank lending is expected to reduce for SMEs, making it more difficult for them to survive. It will be important to have a reliable and accurate assessment of businesses’ viability, and technology will be central to such analysis,” said Altman.

He said Indian banks and financial institutions will definitely see a significant benefit in using a more independent and unbiased risk assessment platform with the entry of AI-powered models

Wiserfunding aims to target bank and non-bank lenders, investors, funds, insurance companies and SMEs, its India country head Avantika Goel said.

The company has been operating globally across 38 countries and its solution has been adopted by more than 40 bank and non-bank lenders and investors across the world, it added.

 

Byju’s buys code training app WhiteHat Jr for $300 million

“Source:- Business Today”
Education Technology company Byju’s has acquired Mumbai-based code training app WhiteHat Jr for $300 million as it looks to expand its dominant reach in the country.

The all-cash deal is Byju’s fifth acquisition and also its largest to date.

It had last acquired Osmo, a US-based educational gaming company, for $120 million in a stock-and-cash deal. The Osmo deal was Byju’s first-ever purchase of a US company in January 2019.

WhitHat Jr is a coding platform founded by Karan Bajaj the former CEO of Discovery Networks India. The ed-tech startup teaches students the fundamentals of coding and helps them build commercial-ready games, apps and animations.

In an official statement released by Byju’s on Wednesday evening, it will make substantial investments in WhiteHat Jr’s technology platform as well as product innovation whilst broadening the teacher base to cater to demand from new markets. Meanwhile, Bajaj will continue to head and scale the business in India and the US.

“WhiteHat Jr is the leader in the live online coding space. Karan has proven his mettle as an exceptional founder and the credit goes to him and his team for creating coding programs that are loved by kids. Under his leadership the company has achieved phenomenal growth in India and the US in a short span of time,” Byju’s founder and chief executive Byju Raveendran said in the statement.

WhitHat Jr had recently announced that it is mulling to expand to other markets like Australia, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand, besides already having a presence in the US since February 2020.

Where the acquisition will enable Byju’s to launch coding to students which is fast emerging as a key skill for the future, it will give WhiteHat Jr’s investors a strong exit from the company.

Reliance ranked No 2 brand globally after Apple in FutureBrand Index 2020 list

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries has been ranked second biggest brand after Apple on the FutureBrand Index 2020.

“This year’s highest entrant at number two, Reliance Industries excels on every attribute,” FutureBrand said, releasing its 2020 Index.

One of the most profitable companies in India, Reliance is, “very well respected” and “seen as behaving ethically” as well as being associated with “growth”, “innovative products” and “great customer service”, it said. “In particular, people have a strong emotional connection with the organisation.”

FutureBrand, which is a global brand transformation company, said part of Reliance’s success could be attributed to Mukesh Ambani’s recasting of the firm as a one-stop-shop for Indians.

“The chairman built on the existing petrochemicals business, transforming it into a digital behemoth designed to meet every customer need.

“Today, this company is engaged in a number of sectors including energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications. Now that Google and Facebook are taking equity stakes in the firm, we may see Reliance jostling for the top spot in the next Index,” it said.

FutureBrand said six years on from the first FutureBrand Index, the world has changed dramatically, priorities have shifted and the globe’s top 100 companies are dealing with challenges unthinkable even 12 months ago.

“The FutureBrand Index is a global perception study that reorders PwC’s Global Top 100 Companies by Market Cap on perception strength rather than financial strength,” it said. “While the FutureBrand Index 2020 has uncovered a number of seismic shifts in the way companies work and how they present themselves to the outside world, one key theme has stood out: individuality.”

The 2020 list is topped by Apple, while Samsung is ranked third, followed by Nvidia, Moutai, Nike, Microsoft, ASML, PayPal and Netflix.

Reliance ranks 91st on PWC 2020 list, it said.

“A slew of new entrants to our Index include ASML Holdings, PayPal, Danaher, Saudi Aramco, and American Tower Corporation. In total, there are 15 new entrants this year, seven of which make it into the top 20, including Reliance Industries slotting in at number two,” it said.

The FutureBrand Index is not based on consumer research. Unlike most other rankings, the Index offers a rigorous assessment of how prominent companies are doing and are likely to do over the next few years.

“We are living in unprecedented times,” it said, adding the world is living through the worst healthcare crisis in a century.

“But out of this will emerge a reimagined world, and it will be up to leading companies and the people who work for them to respond to new demands and new expectations,” it said.

The FutureBrand Index 2020 examines the world’s leading firms and determine how they have fared over the past year.

“Our unique perspective shines a light on the innovators as well as the brands which have successfully navigated sector-specific rough waters. As we discovered, it can be premature to write off a company in difficulty and risky to extol the virtues of a seemingly unbreakable brand,” it added.

 

Electronics manufacturing in India to grow 30% annually for next 5 years: IT Secy

“Source:- Finanacial Express”
The government is expecting electronics manufacturing in the country to register an annual growth rate of 30 per cent over the next five years and clock Rs 11.5 lakh crore additional production during this period, electronics and IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney said on Thursday. Also, the exports of electronic products will grow in the range of 40-50 per cent annually over the next five years, he added.

“Electronics manufacturing in India has been growing quite significantly. We have registered 23 per cent cumulative annual rate of growth over past five years. Now in this journey the growth is expected to be 30 per cent year on year for next five years,” Sawhney said at the Invest India Exclusive Investment Forum – Japan Edition.

He said that mobile manufacturing in the country has grown from 6 crore handsets five years ago to 33 crore at present, and over 90 per cent of country’s mobile phone requirements are met through domestic production.

“Last year we have seen spurt of 25 per cent. In next five years, growth in exports could be 40-50 per cent year on year at a bare minimum,” Sawhney said.

The country’s electronics production will grow at least by USD 153 billion (around Rs 11.5 lakh crore) in the next five years, the secretary said.

As many as 22 domestic and international firms, including iPhone maker Apple’s contract manufacturers as well as Samsung, Lava, Dixon and so forth, have lined up with proposals for mobile phones production worth Rs 11 lakh crore over the next five years.

According to Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, these proposals under the government’s Rs 41,000-crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for mobile phone manufacturing are expected to create around 12 lakh jobs, 3 lakh direct and 9 lakh indirect employment opportunities in the country.

Sawhney said that Japanese companies have tremendous expertise and market share in capital goods which are used in the factories that manufacture electronic goods, digital displays, semiconductors, and India is looking forward to their engagement in the domestic market.

“I would say India and Japan have a tremendous complimentary position especially in the electronics sector. It is time for us to bring in more investment from Japan into India, more technologies into India,” Sawhney said.

 

Telangana to be major base for Electric Vehicles

“Source:- Telangana Today”
Hyderabad: To reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, the State Cabinet on Wednesday decided to encourage and promote usage of Electric Vehicles (EVs) across the State. The Cabinet approved the new Telangana State Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Solution Policy, during the meeting held at Pragathi Bhavan here. It was also decided to encourage the production of electric vehicles in the State by giving them incentives.

The new policy is aimed to make Telangana a preferred destination for EVs and component manufacturing units, besides making the State a major base for EV and energy storage sectors by attracting large scale investments and creating employment. It also proposed to develop an ecosystem of shared mobility through charging and swapping infrastructure, and proactively supporting creation of EV charging infrastructure. The State government will also provide preferential market access to the companies which establish their manufacturing plants in the State.

Under the new policy, the State Cabinet decided to provide 100 per cent exemption of road tax and registration fee for first EVs to be purchased in the State after the policy comes into force. Accordingly, the incentives will be extended to two lakh two-wheelers, 20,000 three-wheelers, 5,000 commercial passengers vehicles (taxi, tourist cabs etc), 10,000 electric light goods carriers, 5,000 private cars and 500 e-buses.

The State government will extend incentives and subsidies to the manufacturers as well as per the Electronics Policy 2016 which includes 20 per cent capital investment subsidy, SGST reimbursement, power tariff discount, electricity duty exemption, interest subvention, transportation subsidy and other expenditures like stamp duty, transfer duty, registration fee, lease rental assistance and others. India’s leading e-bus manufacturer Olectra Greentech-BYD and electric three-wheeler manufacturer Gayam Motor Works already have their base in the state, while several other companies like e-bus manufacturer Mytrah, batter manufacturer Exicom and other expressed interest to establish their units which will result in proposed investment of Rs 4,600 crore, creating nearly 4,200 jobs. The State government is also establishing an Energy Park at Divitapally and plans to develop another EV Park, besides using the existing Electronic Manufacturing Clusters at Raviryal and Maheshwaram for facilitating establishment of the new EV plants.

Sources said the State government is expecting an investment of Rs 30,000 crore to the State in the next a few years, apart from providing 1.2 lakh direct and 2.5 lakh indirect employment opportunities. The government plans to spend around Rs 1,425 crore towards incentives and make 775 acres available for EV manufacturers.

Kodak TV India to invest Rs 500 cr for new plant in UP

“Source:- Economic Times Telecom”
New Delhi: Kodak TV India on Tuesday announced that it would invest more than Rs 500 crore in the next three years to set up a fully automated TV manufacturing plant at Hapur in Uttar Pradesh.

The new plant would be used to develop and test Android TV products so as to reduce dependency on other countries, a company statement said.

Avneet Singh Marwah, founder and CEO, Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd, Kodak Brand Licensee in India, said: “Currently, the Indian TV industry imports most of the raw material and has a value addition of only 10-12 per cent. However, with this investment, Kodak HD LED TV aims to increase the value addition to 50-60 per cent.”

“After the investment, we aim to increase the Kodak Smart TVs’ market share up to 10 per cent by 2021-22,” he said.

According to Marwah, around 2,000 new jobs would be created through this plant.

The majority of the brand’s investment in this plant will be used to set up an R&D centre and also create a complete ecosystem for smart homes, he said, adding that the company would continue to invest in its infrastructure.

Kodak TV plans to set up more than 38 warehouses and 600 service centres across India, Marwah added.

The certified Android TV manufacturing plant with complete backward integration and R&D centre would be made operational by 2021. With a capacity to produce a million TV sets annually, the new facility would be equipped with two fully automated, AI-enabled manufacturing lines to facilitate near-contactless production.

The facility would also adhere to all international guidelines for product and employee safety, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said.

The increased production capacity will also enable Kodak TV India to export TVs to other major Android TV markets.

The development comes in the wake of the enthusiastic response to the Kodak CA Series launched in March 2020 and the recently launched 7XPRO Model, as per the statement. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Kodak TV India has recovered 65 per cent of its sales after resuming operations due to the growing ‘Make in India’ sentiment and its aggressive pricing, it said.

Airtel, AWS to make joint investments to build cloud expertise in India

“Source:-  Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel has signed a multi-year Strategic Collaboration Agreement (SCA) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to offer a comprehensive set of cloud solutions to large enterprise and small and medium enterprise (SME) customers in India.

Both companies will make joint investments to build the cloud expertise and train hundreds of employees to sell services to enterprises and SMEs, Harmeen Mehta, CIO & Head – Cloud and Security Business, Bharti Airtel said on Wednesday.

“300 people are already AWS certified and the next round of training is starting. There is a deep commitment and investment from both sides,” she added. “There are professional services for which training is happening for sales, technology and go to market.”

ET broke the story first in its August 5 edition.

Airtel said that it will co-create cloud solutions and services for various verticals and industries.

Airtel serves over 2,500 large enterprises and more than a million emerging businesses and companies with an integrated product portfolio, including Airtel Cloud, a multi-cloud product, and solutions business.

“For new customers, we at AWS has a large team and will be focusing on solving industry-specific problems. The intent is to give interesting experience in terms of go to market and experience,” Puneet Chandok, President, Commercial Business, India and South Asia, Amazon Internet Services Private Limited said.

Mehta said that India is seeing a lot of acceleration in terms of cloud adoption especially after the lockdown in the country.

“As we went to the lockdown situation, companies on cloud found it easy to keep operations running, which is one of the reasons why many organizations are thinking deeper than before how do they want to run businesses…cloud is biggest enabler…they are going to invest in this. There has never been a better time to rethink policies about this even though they are tighter on spend,” Mehta added.

Airtel Cloud will build an AWS Cloud Practice supported by AWS Professional Services, as well as develop differentiated Airtel Cloud products and capabilities leveraging AWS services, Airtel’s data center capabilities, and Airtel’s network and telecoms offerings.

Airtel has previously partnered with Google for its GSuite service and Microsoft for Azure. “We work with multiple partners to best serve the need of enterprises and SMEs. We do have a multi-partner environment for hybrid and multi-cloud use for customers,” Mehta said.

She added that SME is a big focus area for both the companies.

Airtel also said that it is focusing on ensuring security for its enterprise and retail customers. “It is an area where we are focusing on immensely since there is a big rise in phishing attacks on customers. While it is easier to manage this in the enterprise, but a lot of this is happening for our regular users who face these issues via SMS, personal email and even WhatsApp,” Mehta said.

Airtel will again start an awareness campaign for its customers in India regarding these phishing attacks.

Byju’s: Billionaire Yuri Milner all set to invest $400 million in Indian education startup

“Source:- Livemint”

DST Global, the investment firm headed by billionaire Yuri Milner, is close to investing as much as $400 million in Indian online education startup Byju’s, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.The deal values Byju’s at $10.5 billion and could be signed as early as this weekend, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified as the talks are private. The transaction would make Byju’s India’s second-most valuable startup after Alibaba Group Holding-backed financial payments brand, Paytm.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire, one of the world’s best-known technology investors, is an early backer of the largest internet firms including Alibaba, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. His DST has also funded a string of high-profile Indian startups such as online retailer Flipkart Online Services Pvt., ride-hailing startup Ola, food-delivery startup Swiggy and business e-commerce startup Udaan.

DST and Byju’s didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comments about the funding talks. Leonid Solovyev, a DST spokesman, declined to comment.

Byju’s, whose investors include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers Ltd. and Tiger Global Management, simplifies math and science concepts for K-12 students through games and videos. It was founded by Byju Raveendran, a former teacher and son of educators, who conceived the smartphone app in 2011. In a country that places a premium on education, he launched the app just as smartphones were becoming ubiquitous.

The app caters to students from kindergarten through 12th grade and has over 57 million registered users and over 3.5 million paid subscribers. It’s adding over 300,000 new subscribers every month. Byju’s doubled revenues in the year ended March 2020 to 28 billion rupees ($373 million) from the previous financial year and is profitable, a rarity for Indian startups.

India’s online education segment is on fire after the raging coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns shuttered schools across the country, prompting a never-before migration to online learning. According to an estimate about 250 million school-going children in the country have been affected by pandemic-induced school closures. Even parents, teachers and schools skeptical of the online model have been forced to adopt digital learning tools that have prompted an unprecedented surge of users to online portals such as Byju’s run by Think & Learn Pvt. Byju’s has raised $400 million this year alone and was last funded by Bond Capital co-founded by Silicon Valley investment guru, Mary Meeker, formerly of Kleiner Perkins. Its rivals are gathering backers, too. Last month, online learning startup Vedantu raised $100 million from U.S.-based investor Coatue Management. Unacademy, another leading startup is said to be raising funds at a valuation of over $1 billion, which would make it the country’s second edtech unicorn.

Australia’s export sector continues to boom despite ongoing challenges

“Source:- Trade Minister”
Australia recorded its largest financial year trade surplus in 2019-20, off the back of booming goods exports, according to new data released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The data shows that despite severe global economic shocks from COVID-19, Australia posted a record financial year trade surplus of $77.4 billion in 2019-20 with Australian goods exports growing by $9.29 billion or 2.5 per cent. Australia also recorded its 30th consecutive monthly trade surplus in June 2020, worth $8.2 billion, the second highest monthly trade surplus.

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the COVID-19 pandemic was testing all Australian producers and businesses, but today’s data highlighted the incredible strength and resilience of our export sector.

“Despite the ongoing domestic and international challenges, Australian exporters across a range of sectors like resources, agriculture and advanced manufacturing continue to withstand global economic shocks and remain highly sought after in our key markets,” Minister Birmingham said.

“It is a credit to our hard-working exporters that even in these incredibly challenging economic times, their high-quality, safe and reliable product remains in demand around the world.

“Notwithstanding factors such as rising export costs and disruptions to supply-chains, our exporters continue to show incredible resilience and ability to navigate through these significant global economic headwinds.

“The continuing strength of our exporting sectors reinforces the importance for Australia of keeping trading channels open and accessible, expanding market access through even more trade agreements and continuing to support a global, rules based trading system.

“We also recognise the current COVID-19 crisis continues to place immense pressure on parts of our services sector, including tourism and education businesses, many of whom felt the earliest and deepest aspects of the economic downturn.

“That is why our Government has taken significant steps to support businesses and jobs across the tourism sector through cash payments of up to $100,000 and the extension of the JobKeeper payment until the end of March next year.

“We’ve also taken action to keep supply chains open for our agricultural and fisheries exporters through initiatives such as our $350 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism, which has so far supported over $1 billion in exports and helped to protect regional jobs.

“Our Government’s strong track record of delivering high-quality free trade agreements with our key-trading partners has helped cushion the blow for our exporters. That is why we continue to pursue agreements with our key trading partners including with European Union and United Kingdom, to open up new markets for Australian farmers and businesses.”

Hughes to invest $50 million in Bharti-UK consortium for OneWeb

“Source:- Hindu business Line”
Bharti Enterprises on Monday said that Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes) has agreed to invest $50 million in the winning consortium, led by the UK government and Bharti Enterprises, that will take over OneWeb.

Hughes is the global leader in broadband satellite networks and services.

Additionally, Hughes will continue as a trusted technology and distribution partner to OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite operator which had launched 74 satellites before filing for Chapter 11 protection in March.

Bharti Enterprises has won a bid to pick up 45 per cent stake in OneWeb with an investment of $500 million. OneWeb, a UK-based company, has proposed a mega-constellation of satellites in low-earth orbit to deliver affordable wireless Internet services to anywhere in the world.

“The investment by Hughes underlines OneWeb’s exciting commercial prospects, reflected in the ongoing discussions with some of the world’s leading strategic and financial investors,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, said.

Consummation of the consortium is contingent upon execution and effectiveness of definitive agreements. Confirmation of OneWeb’s reorganisation is contingent on certain conditions established by the Bankruptcy Court, Bharti Enterprises said.

“Our continuing and strengthened involvement with OneWeb extends naturally from our position as a leading geostationary satellite operator and ground network innovator, along with a meaningful partnership with Bharti and long-standing relationship with the UK through our business operations in both countries,” Pradman Kaul, President, Hughes, said.

Through its Hughes Europe division, which is headquartered outside of London, and sister company EchoStar Mobile Ltd, Hughes has worked closely with the UK government. Furthermore, Hughes Communications India Ltd, (HCIL), a majority-owned subsidiary of Hughes, and Bharti Airtel Ltd (Airtel), are in the process of combining their satellite broadband operations in India.

The merger, which was announced in 2019, is pending regulatory approvals and is expected to bring greater scale, operational efficiencies and market reach to deliver solutions for enterprise and government networks.

Big Boost to Khadi; Indian Red Cross Society to Buy 1.80 lakh Face Masks from KVIC

“Source:- IBEF”
As the popularity of the Khadi Face Masks grows across the country due to its fine quality and affordable price, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has received a prestigious purchase order from Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) to supply 1.80 lakh face masks.

As per KVIC, the IRCS masks will be made of 100 per cent double-twisted handcrafted cotton fabric in brown colour with red piping. KVIC has especially designed these double-layered cotton masks for the Indian Red Cross Society as per the samples provided by them. The mask will have suitably printed IRCS logo on the left side and the Khadi India tag on the right side. The supply of masks will begin by next month.

The execution of this order will require over 20,000 meter of fabric which will generate 9000 additional man days for the Khadi artisans.

KVIC Chairman, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena welcomed the purchase order from the Indian Red Cross Society and said the massive demand of Khadi Face Masks is a major step in the direction of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat”. “This order will help our Khadi artisans to produce more yarn and fabric and will further add to their income in these difficult times,” Saxena said.

KVIC has added that so far it has sold over 10 lakh face masks which include double layered Cotton Masks and triple-layered Silk Masks. The biggest order for face masks that the KVIC received was from the Jammu & Kashmir government for 7 lakh masks that has been delivered on time.

Approximately 1 lakh meter of Cotton fabric worth over Rs one crore (US$ 0.14 million) and nearly 2000 meters of Silk fabric of different colours and prints has been used in making these masks till recently.

KVIC received repeat orders from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Prime Minister’s Office, Central Government ministries and orders from public through KVIC’s E-portal. KVIC has supplied over 20,000 face masks to the Indian Railways too. Apart from the sale, KVIC has free distributed nearly 10 lakh Khadi masks to the District Authorities though its Khadi Institutions across the country.

“Face Masks are the most critical tool to fight the Corona Pandemic. These masks prepared from Double Twisted Khadi fabric not only meet the quality and scale of demand but are cost effective, breathable, washable, reusable and bio-degradable” Saxena added.

 

Tata Capital Growth Fund to invest ₹225 Crore in Biocon Biologics

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI : Biotechnology major Biocon on Friday said Tata Capital Growth Fund will invest USD 30 million ( 225 crore) in its subsidiary Biocon Biologics to acquire 0.85 per cent equity stake in the company.

The firm said this deal values Biocon Biologics at USD 3.5 billion.

In a regulatory filing, Biocon said the board of its subsidiary Biocon Biologics India has approved a primary equity investment by Tata Capital Growth Fund.

As per the terms of the proposed agreement, Tata Capital will invest USD 30 million ( 225 crore) for a 0.85 per cent minority stake in the biosimilar business.

Post the completion of this transaction, Biocon will hold 95.25 per cent stake in Biocon Biologics, the biotechnology major added.

The transaction is subject to standard condition precedents and approvals.

Dr Christiane Hamacher, CEO, Biocon Biologics, said this equity infusion is the next step in the company’s journey of unlocking value.

“Through prudent investments in research and development and high-quality manufacturing infrastructure we are confident of achieving our aspiration of serving 5 million patients through our biosimilars portfolio and achieving a target revenue of USD 1 billion in financial year 2021-22,” Hamacher added.

Akhil Awasthi, Managing Partner, Tata Growth PE, said this investment is in line with its focus on export-oriented manufacturing in world beating companies.

Shares of Biocon were trading 0.53 per cent higher at 405.55 apiece on BSE.

 

Mother Dairy Enters Bread Segment, Aims Rs 25,000 Cr Turnover By 2025

“Source:-  Business World”
Mother Dairy, a leading milk supplier in Delhi-NCR, on Thursday forayed into bread segment as part of its strategy to diversify business, and announced its target to more than double its revenue to Rs 25,000 crore in the next five years.

Mother Dairy has launched three types of breads — sandwich, brown, and fruit & milk — in a price range of Rs 15-40 per packet.

The breads will be initially available at its 1,800 milk booths and ‘Safal’ outlets in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The company is targeting a revenue of Rs 100 crore from bread segment over the next three years.

‘We are diversifying into confectionery and bakery segment with the launch of our breads,’ Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable Pvt Ltd Managing Director Sangram Chaudhary told reporters in a video conference.

He said the size of the bread market in India is estimated to be Rs 5,300 crore currently and is growing at an average rate of 10 per cent for the last five years. The highest consumption is of white bread.

Chaudhary said the company has introduced around 20 new products in the market, including five types of sweets.

Asked about the company’s current turnover and future outlook, he said Mother Dairy’s current annual revenue is around Rs 10,000-11,000 crore.

‘We are targeting to reach Rs 25,000 crore turnover by 2025,’ he said, adding that growth could be slow this year because of COVID-19.

He said consumption pattern has changed a lot because of pandemic, with people preferring home delivery of products.

Elaborating on bread business, Chaudhary said, ‘The bread market in India is localised due to logistical and supply chain issues. With Mother Dairy, this has never been a challenge because of our existing network. Hence, having bread in our kitty was a natural fit.’ The company is also exploring a larger bakery play, he said.

Sanjay Sharma, business head of dairy products, said breads are being currently manufactured by a third party and will be sold through 1,800 company outlets in the first phase.

However, retail distribution network as well as product portfolio would be expanded based on customers’ response, Sharma said.

‘We are looking at Rs 100 crore business in bread category over the next three years,’ he said.

A 500 gm packet of sandwich bread is priced at Rs 30, while the cost of 700 gm packet is Rs 40. Brown bread packet of 400 gm is priced at Rs 30, while the rate for fruit & milk bread is Rs 15 for 150 gm packet.

Multi-grain bread, whole wheat bread and kulchas would be introduced later.

Asked about quality concerns over fruits and vegetables sold through Safal outlets, except some stores in Lutyens and South Delhi, Choudhary said the procurement system has been restructured and the entire purchase is being done from farmers directly.

He said the quality of fruits and vegetables has improved now.

Mother Dairy sells over 30 lakh litres of milk per day in Delhi-NCR. Milk and other milk products are sold under Mother Dairy brand.

It sells fresh fruits and vegetables through around 400 Safal outlets. Frozen vegetables, pulses and honey are sold under the ‘Safal’ brand.

The company manufactures and markets edible oils under ‘Dhara’ brand. It has also entered into organic food business.

Mother Dairy was commissioned in 1974 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).

It was established under ‘Operation Flood’ initiative, world’s biggest dairy development program launched to make India a milk-sufficient nation.

 

Airtel renews Pan India Managed Services Partnership with Ericsson

“Source:- Ericson”
Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), India’s largest integrated telco, has renewed its agreement with Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) to provide pan-India managed network operations through Ericsson Operations Engine.

The three-year deal will see Airtel launching Ericsson Operation Engine during 2020. Ericsson will deploy the latest automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to enhance Airtel’s mobile network performance and customer experience. Ericsson will also manage Airtel’s network operations center and field maintenance activities across India.

Ericsson will also provide Network Optimization Services, combining multi-vendor networks expertise with its state-of-the-art machine learning/AI-enabled Cognitive Software Suite. This will deliver a better customer experience and ensure a superior return from Airtel’s deployed network assets.

The agreement builds on the 25-year collaboration between Ericsson and Airtel in India and will use Ericsson’s global capabilities in AI-based data-driven automated technology upgrades to boost Airtel’s network performance and operational efficiency.

Randeep Sekhon, Chief Technology Officer, Bharti Airtel, says: “We are pleased to strengthen our deep partnership with Ericsson as part of our vision to build a future ready network that enables world-class experience for our customers. We are confident these new technologies will enable us to serve the emerging data requirements of customers in a digitally connected India.”

Nunzio Mirtillo, Head of Ericsson South east Asia, Oceania and India, says: “Ericsson Operations Engine consolidates our position as the industry leader in network managed services. With more than 300 global contracts, Ericsson has proven capabilities in managing and operating multi-vendor and multi-technology networks. This agreement demonstrates the continued confidence in our products and end-to-end solutions in Bharti Airtel’s network and IT operations. We will continue to develop data-driven insights to deliver enhanced performance focused on end-user experience.”

Airtel and Ericsson’s long-standing technology and services partnership has spanned 2G, 3G, 4G provision and more recently, live 5G trials.

Twenty First Century Media announces foray into eSports business, launches TCM eSports

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI:  Twenty First Century Media (TCM), a full-service sports marketing and management company, has launched a new eSports marketing division – TCM eSports.

The new division will create engagement opportunities for brands and publishers to reach out to a vast majority of eSports fans who do not watch TV.

As per global data measurement agency Nielsen, gaming in India has grown by 24% in June versus pre lockdown period.

“As people continue to practice social distancing  and stay home amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, mobile gaming has become a preferred pastime for not just entertainment but also social connection,” said Lokesh Sharma, managing director, TCM.

“There is a widening of the digital media landscape  and the rise in popularity of mobile gaming, eSports, influencer-marketing, digital videos that provide huge digital audiences,” he added.

TCM already holds exclusive ground rights across various cricket stadiums in India and globally. Outside India, TCM holds the exclusive naming, sponsorship, and in-stadia rights across New Zealand Cricket, Cricket West Indies and Asia Cup tournaments (Asian Cricket Council). Besides this, TCM has on-ground partnerships with the cricket boards of South Africa, Bangladesh, England and Australia.

“The average weekly time spent for gaming in India stands at a whopping 3 hours and 7 minutes. This creates a great opportunity for brands that want to reach, engage and create a sustainable relationship with an otherwise hard to reach the audience and for sports properties that want to groom and engage the next generation of their fans,” said Basant Dhawan, CEO, TCM.

Experts believe that whether it’s any of the established domestic leagues in India or an incipient sports property, eSports will become a major fan engagement tool for traditional sports to reach and engage this young, digitally savvy consumer.

TCM eSports has also been appointed as the knowledge partner for the upcoming India Gaming Summit, scheduled from July 28th to 30th.

India E-Commerce To Grow 27%; Reliance To Capture Half Of Online Grocery Sales: Goldman

“Source:- Business World”
India’s e-commerce business is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent to reach USD 99 billion by 2024, Goldman Sachs said projecting that Reliance Industries would capture half of the online grocery sales through its Facebook.

In a report titled ‘Global Internet: e-commerce’s steepening curve’, Goldman Sachs said the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a doubling of penetration of e-commerce globally with categories such as consumer packaged goods driving as much as three years of penetration growth in three months.

‘We forecast India e-commerce will reach USD 99 billion by 2024, growing at a 27 per cent CAGR over 2019-24, with grocery and fashion/apparel likely to be the key drivers of incremental growth in our view,’ it said.

Online penetration of retail is expected to reach 10.7 per cent by 2024, versus 4.7 per cent in 2019.

‘The biggest near term theme in India internet, in our view, is the foray of Reliance Industries (India’s largest market-cap company with presence across sectors such as energy, telecom, and retail) into e-commerce, and the company’s tie-up with WhatsApp for online grocery,’ it said.

Facebook has picked up a 9.99 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, the subsidiary of RIL that houses the country’s youngest but biggest telecom company as well as an array of apps. RIL’s e-commerce venture, JioMart plans to use Facebook’s WhatsApp to connect local grocery stores with customers.

Goldman Sachs said Bigbasket and Grofers accounted for more than 80 per cent of the market in 2019 in online grocery.

Online grocery has been growing at over 50 per cent year-on-year for the last couple of years, but with the outbreak of COVID-19 resulting in shift to online, and the recent entry of RIL, the growth will accelerate to 81 per cent CAGR during 2019-24, it said.

‘We believe RIL’s partnership with Facebook could result in the company becoming a market leader in the online grocery space, with more than 50 per cent share by 2024,’ it said. ‘Having said that, we do see grocery as a large category for two or more players to co-exist over time.’ Growth in India’s e-commerce, the brokerage said, is likely to come from better penetration into categories such as grocery/FMCG, improving payment ecosystem and ease of shopping through WhatsApp etc.

‘We expect non-grocery e-commerce penetration to see a sharp increase of 500 basis points over the next two years to reach 16.1 per cent by 2021,’ Goldman Sachs said adding the last 500 basis points of the increase took four years.

While online penetration in categories such as consumer electronics is fairly high at about 40 per cent as of 2019, there exists significant growth in categories like apparel, appliances, health and personal care, where online penetration in India remains materially lower when compared with peers such as China.

‘As far as incremental growth in e-commerce is concerned, we expect grocery to be the biggest driver with 40 per cent contribution to incremental e-commerce GMV (gross merchandise volume) between 2019 and 2024,’ it said.

Grocery in India is a USD 380 billion category as of 2019, making up for 60 per cent of the total retail market.

‘However, online penetration currently stands at less than 0.5 per cent (absolute size USD 2 billion), one of the least among categories,’ it said projecting the online grocery market in India to grow 20x over the next 5 years, to reach USD 29 billion in value (5.1 per cent penetration) by 2024.

It saw a higher acceptance of online purchases among Indian consumers, especially since COVID-19, as one of the key drivers.

Other drivers include RIL’s foray into the space leveraging its large offline distribution capabilities and ability to order groceries through WhatsApp – a platform with more than 400 million users in India.

‘Overall, we forecast online grocery orders to grow from 300,000 per day in 2019, to more than 5 million per day by 2024,’ it said.

Goldman Sachs said the coronavirus pandemic has driven an acceleration in the adoption of countless technologies and consumer behaviours, chief among them being e-commerce.

‘What started at first with panic buying, hoarding and nest feathering out of necessity has turned into an array of adaptations that have driven e-commerce penetration from 16 per cent of retail spending in the US in 1Q19 to over 40 per cent in May driven by year- over-year growth of nearly 70 per cent,’ it said.

Innovations can help India”s biotechnology economy to hit USD 100 bn by 2025, says Kant

“Source:- The Outllok”
New Delhi :-
The Indian biotechnology space has potential to grow to USD 100 billion in size by 2025 on the back of innovations in bio-manufacturing technologies, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Friday.

Addressing a webinar titled ”Global Perspective on India”s Biotech Potential: Manufacturing Hub & Foreign Investment”, Kant said India is working to boost the biotechnology sector under the flagship programmes like ”Make in India” and ”Startup India”.

“India”s biotechnology economy can approach USD 100 billion in 2025 if the right policies are put in place, giving industry the required stimulation,” he said.         Kant said India has established biotechnology parks and incubators across the country to facilitate scientists and MSMEs with technology demonstration, along with pilot studies for accelerated commercial development.

Noting that an increase in the number of biotech incubators can boost research and promote the growth of startups, Kant said, “Innovations in bio-manufacturing technologies are critical for the success of the Indian biotech industry.” PTI BKS MKJ MKJ

Clean energy capacity: India to have 60% renewable energy by 2030, says power minister

“Source:- Economic Times”
India will have around 60 per cent of its installed electricity generation capacity from clean sources by 2030, Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister R K Singh said on Tuesday. The minister also exuded confidence that the renewable energy capacity would touch 510 GW by 2030, including 60 GW of hydro power.

In September last year at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced increasing the renewable energy target to 450 GW by 2030 from 175 GW by 2022.

Participating in a webinar organised by The Energy Resource Institute (TERI), Singh said, “I would say that by 2030, 60 per cent of our capacity will be from renewables, and that is on a conservative scale.”

The minister explained that by 2030, 450 GW of power generation capacity would come from renewables like solar and wind.

Besides 60 GW would come from hydro-electric power, he said.

About the progress on clean energy, he said that India’s clean energy capacity including under development projects and hydro electric power is around 190 GW, which is more than the targetted 175 GW by 2022.

During the webinar, the minister launched a report, titled ‘Renewable Power Pathways: Modelling the Integration of Wind and Solar in India by 2030’.

The minister also launched a report titled ‘Bending the Curve: 2025 Forecasts for Electricity Demand by Sector and State in the Light of the COVID Epidemic’.

The two reports have been prepared by Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) India, which is a research platform based at the TERI headquarters in New Delhi.

Unilever to retain tea business in India and Indonesia

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : Packaged consumer goods company Unilever on Thursday said it intends to retain its tea businesses in India and Indonesia, months after it announced a global a strategic review of the packaged tea business. Its tea business in other markets will be built as a separate entity going forward.

“In January Unilever announced a strategic review of its global tea business, which includes leading brands such as Lipton, Brooke Bond and PGTips. This review has assessed a full range of options. We will retain the tea businesses in India and Indonesia and the partnership interests in the ready-to-drink tea joint ventures,” the Anglo-Dutch company said on Thursday when it also announced first half results for 2020.

The remainder of the tea business will be hived off into a separate entity.

“The balance of Unilever’s tea brands and geographies and all tea estates have an exciting future, and this potential can best be achieved as a separate entity. A process will now begin to implement the separation, which is expected to conclude by the end of 2021,” the company said.

The tea business that will be separated generated revenues of €2 billion in 2019.

The news comes a few days after Hindustan Unilever Ltd., reported a stunning 51% quarterly jump in its foods and refreshments business in India as the lockdown prompted more households to buy its packaged coffee, tea and Kissan branded jams in the April to June quarter.

Its acquired Horlicks health foods drink brand grew well too during the quarter. Foods and refreshment revenue jumped 51.7% year-on-year, including GSK business, with nutrition, tea and coffee delivering good performance.

“Riding on the ‘In-home, wellness and immunity’ trends, Foods, Tea and Coffee delivered strong performance with double digit growths,” HUL that sells Dove, Rin and Sunsilk brands in India said earlier this week. Its domestic nutrition business performed well, the company added.

Indian direct selling industry records US$ 2.47 billion sales in 2019, ranks 15th globally

“Source:- IBEF”
The Indian direct selling industry has recorded sales of US$ 2.47 billion in 2019, reporting a growth of 12.1 per cent, according to a report by World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA).

India has improved its rank to the 15th from the earlier 19th a year before, said The Global Direct Selling – 2019 Retail Sales report by Washington-based WFDSA.

Furthermore, India stood at sixth position in terms of the number of direct sellers, providing employment to 57.50 lakh people.

Although, there was decline in the global direct selling industry of 4.3 per cent in sales to US$ 180.47 billion in 2019.

As per the report, with a contribution of 20 per cent of the global direct selling industry, the US is leading in the list with sales of US$ 35.21 billion, though it has registered a marginal de-growth of 0.4 per cent.

China contributed 13 per cent contribution, followed by Korea and Germany with 10 per cent each and 9 per cent by Japan.

This was a positive sign for the industry, Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA) said it targets to find space in the top five players globally much earlier than the previous estimates of a decade.

According to the association’s statement, India recorded the highest year-on-year growth and CAGR over three years, in top 20 Direct Selling markets around the world.

“India has recorded the highest year on year growth rate of 12.1 per cent and the highest CAGR of 16.3 per cent over the period of last three years, amongst the top 20 direct selling markets across the globe,” IDSA Chairperson Ms Rini Sanyal said.

According to a latest joint report by IDSA and data insight firm Kantar, the Indian direct selling industry has observed a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 16 per cent and grown from Rs 8,308 crore (US$ 1.18 billion) in 2015-16 to Rs 13,080 crore (US$ 1.86 billion) in 2018-19.

The leading segment in the chart of Direct Selling was wellness followed by cosmetics and personal care. The Indian Direct Selling Industry’s contribution to the exchequer stood at around Rs 2,500 crore (US$ 354.66 million) in 2018-19, said the IDSA report.

SpiceJet acqui-hires airline e-commerce technology company Travenues

“Source:-  The Hindu”
Budget carrier SpiceJet on Tuesday said it has acqui-hired the team and technology of the Bengaluru-based airline e-commerce technology company Travenues, a wholly-owned subsidiary of online travel platform ixigo.

The move would help SpiceJet in strengthening its e-commerce platforms, a release said.

In acqui-hiring, a relatively a new concept in the tech industry, the employees of a company are recruited rather than gaining the control of its products or services.

“We are glad to welcome team Travenues to SpiceJet. This acqui-hire will help SpiceJet strengthen its e-commerce platforms as we continue to innovate across multiple technology areas and achieve our vision of being the worldwide leader in aviation technology,” said Ashish Vikram, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, SpiceJet.

With this acqui-hire, the technology team of Travenues has joined SpiceJet.

SpiceJet will inherit the Travenues’ airline technology and commerce platform that specialises with its deep tech advancements in mobile apps, cross-selling, payments, ancillaries, among others, the release said.

“We are proud of the team and the full stack airline commerce suite we have built and we wish the SpiceJet team all the best in taking it to the next level with a talented and motivated team, said Chandramouli Gopalakrishnan, Chief Digital Officer, Travenues.

Founded last year, Travenues offers a comprehensive travel-tech optimised airline commerce and ancillary sales platform to air operators that allows for extensive customisation and personalisation.

Last year, Travenues had signed its first technology partnership with SpiceJet for digital transformation of its consumer-facing experiences.

Commenting on the deal, Rajnish Kumar, Co-founder & CTO, ixigo said, we are happy that we were able to incubate a startup and build a next generation platform with a tightly-knit team that can truly disrupt airline direct sales and airline commerce.”

Electric vehicle market likely to be Rs 50,000 crore opportunity in India by 2025: Report

MUMBAI: The electric vehicle  (EV) market is likely to be a Rs 50,000-crore opportunity in India by 2025, with two- and three-wheelers expected to drive higher electrification of the vehicles in the medium term in the wake of COVID-19, according to a report.

The report by Avendus Capital , which is an investment banking arm of financial services provider Avendus Group, also said the total cost of ownership (TCO) in case of low- and medium-speed electric two-wheelers  is already lower than internal combustion engine vehicles.

“With the present and projected level of EV penetration in the country, EVs in India could represent a Rs 500-billion opportunity by 2025. Two- and three-wheelers will lead the electrification movement in India in the medium term,” it said.

The report also said it expects 9 per cent penetration by 2024-25 in the two-wheeler segment and with the right  macroeconomic environment, the number can further go up to 16 per cent and while the segment could grow to Rs 12,000 crore by 2024-25.

E-rickshaw has also emerged as a large market in India in a short time frame even as a large part of this market is still unorganised and based on lead-acid batteries, the report stated.

It added that this market is expected to rapidly shift to lithium-ion battery and by 2024-25, as much as 40 per cent of the e-rickshaw market is expected to be li-ion based.

“Over the past decade, the economics of the technology used in this sector has improved significantly, and today, EVs make economic sense across multiple use cases,” said Koushik Bhattacharyya, director and head (industrials) at Avendus Capital, at the launch of the report.

He added that the inevitability of transition to EVs is accepted by the world, however, the timeline for mass adoption is still a topic for debate. “But, we believe that we are moving quickly towards a mobility regime where EVs become mainstream.”

The current COVID-19 situation is expected to accelerate the rate of adoption of EVs in the medium term as customers look for environment-friendly and cost-effective personal mobility solutions, and also because online commerce is fast becoming the norm, the report said.

“India represents the fourth-largest automobile market in the world and the second-largest two-wheeler market with around 20 million units. It is also a country with massive dependency on oil imports, with a USD 112 billion oil import bill in FY19,” added Bhattacharyya. He added that pollution in many Indian cities has reached alarming levels. “All these factors combined make a strong case for EV adoption in India.”

On the ownership cost of high-speed electric two-wheelers and other use cases such as retail four-wheelers and commercial vehicles, it said the TCO will become favourable as the battery prices drop further.

“E-auto makes economic sense on a TCO basis. We expect to see intensive action in this space going forward. We expect around 20 per cent EV penetration in e-auto category by FY25. We expect this segment to be Rs 40 billion (Rs 4,000 crore) by FY25,” said Ankit Singhal, vice-president (industrials) at Avendus Capital.

In the medium term, we expect the EV adoption in the four-wheeler category to stay limited to commercial or fleet applications. The overall penetration in the electric four-wheeler segment is expected to be about 2 per cent, he said.

With the right macroeconomic environment, it could go up to 5 per cent, he said adding, “We expect this segment to be Rs 100 billion (Rs 10,000 crore) by FY25.”

Avendus Capital said it expects factors mainly policy, battery cost, charging infrastructure and supply chain localisation driving the adoption of EVs in various segments in the country over the next decade.

On the commercial vehicle side, e-buses are expected to lead the category with regulatory push expected to drive this category, rather than TCO.

“We expect EV adoption in the bus category to be about 13 per cent by 2024-25 and segment to be Rs 60 billion (Rs 6,000 crore) by that time.

“Light commercial vehicles (less than 3.5 tonnes) in the EV category  also make TCO sense and we forecast about 4 per cent EV adoption in this segment by FY25, translating into a Rs 15 billion (Rs 1,500 crore) market opportunity,” Singhal said.

Welspun launches Rs 1100 crore manufacturing facility in Telangana

“Source:- Money Control”
Welspun Flooring Limited, a fully integrated and independent flooring vertical of the USD 2.7 billion Welspun Group, has launched its Rs 1,100 crore manufacturing facility at nearby Chandanvelly. Telangana minister for IT and Industries KT Rama Rao inaugurated the facility, a company press release said.

Spread across 200 acres, the state-of-the-art facility which employs 1600 people, will have a production capacity of40 million square metres annually.

Adjacent to this facility, Welspun Group is also establishing a manufacturing plant for its emerging business Advanced Textiles. The minister laid the foundation stone for the-unit, which will commence its functioning soon. The company will invest Rs 400 crore over a span of two financial years, it said.

Commenting on the launch, B K Goenka, Chairman, Welspun Groupsaid, “We are nowentering another exciting phase of our growth with foraying into the flooring segment. This emerging business is poised to benefit from the synergies with our existing businesses and large customer base, thereby creating a strong domestic as well as global growth opportunity. I am confident that through our new innovative product offerings in flooring, we will create a differentiation for ourselves to drive the next phase of our growth and further consolidate our global leadership position.”

Mukesh Ambani’s RIL overtakes Exxon to become world’s no 2 energy company

“Source:- Livemint”
Reliance Industries Ltd., controlled by Asia’s richest man, toppled ExxonMobil Corp. to become the world’s largest energy company after Saudi Aramco, as investors piled into the conglomerate lured by the Indian firm’s digital and retail forays.

Reliance, which manages the biggest refinery complex, gained 4.3% in Mumbai on Friday adding $8 billion to take its market value to $189 billion, while Exxon Mobil erased about $1 billion. Reliance’s shares have jumped 43% this year compared with a 39% drop in Exxon’s shares as refiners across the globe struggled with a plunge in fuel demand. Aramco with a market capitalization of $1.76 trillion is the world’s biggest energy company.

While the energy business accounted for about 80% of Reliance’s revenue in the year ended March 31, Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s plan to expand the company’s digital and retail arms has helped him attract $20 billion into the Jio Platforms Ltd. unit. That in turn helped add $22.3 billion to Ambani’s wealth this year, propelling him to the fifth spot in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Ambani’s dealmaking has lured investments from Google to Facebook Inc. into his digital platform in recent months. The 63-year-old tycoon has identified technology and retail as future growth areas in a pivot away from the energy businesses he inherited from his father who died in 2002.

Meanwhile, large scale global oil demand destruction — some 30 million barrels a day, or a third of regular usage, in April — sent energy markets into a second-quarter tailspin, from which they’ve only recently started to recover. Worst-in-a-generation oil prices combined with OPEC production cuts, collapsing refining margins and millions of barrels of unsold crude have hurt big oil companies including Exxon and Chevron Corp.

Mobile game developer Nazara buys 51 per cent stake in Paper Boat Apps

“Source:- Outlook India”
New Delhi :
Mobile game developer Nazara Technologies on Thursday said it has acquired a 51 per cent stake in Paper Boat Apps, which offers ”Kiddopia” learning app for pre-schoolers.

Under the transaction, Nazara has invested a total of Rs 83 crore in Paper Boat Apps in multiple tranches, valuing the company in excess of Rs 150 crore.

Paper Boat Apps has issued shares worth Rs 43 crore as part of the final tranche under the deal, Nazara founder and Managing Director Nitish Mittersain told PTI.

“Gamified edu-tech is the only way to deliver high-quality learning to such young kids on digital devices. Kiddopia is a perfect example of this overlap between gaming and learning, and their popularity amongst parents and kids speaks for itself,” he said.

According to him, about 20 million children are already part of its ecosystem and Kiddopia will help further strengthen Nazara”s position in the kid”s edutainment vertical.

Edu-tech startups are witnessing strong growth across markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic as schools and educational institutions are going online to conduct classes.

“Kiddopia is fast becoming one of the most successful ”Made in India” apps globally and is seeing strong usage in the North America market apart from India. The company is also looking at rapidly expanding into other geographies such as Europe and the Far East,” Mittersain said.

Kiddopia was launched in 2017 by husband and wife Anupam and Anshu Dhanuka, who own Paper Boat Apps. The app has been downloaded by more than 5 million users globally and currently has over 300,000 active subscribers.

“This investment has helped us focus on product enhancement and marketing, thereby leading to a 3X growth in subscriber base. We have just finished our best month and we expect our topline to grow 2X in annual revenues by March 2021,” Anupam Dhanuka said.

He also noted that the company will leverage Nazara”s network of 100 million monthly active users to grow Kiddopia”s subscriber base.

“As a leading preschool app in the US, we will now use the funding to replicate our success in countries across Europe, Latin America and Asia,” he added.

Nazara Technologies has been an aggressive investor in the gaming ecosystem and has invested in many gaming firms like Nextwave Multimedia, Halaplay Technologies, Nodwin Gaming, Qunami, and Bakbuck. It has consummated transactions worth USD 50 million in the last three years.

The company has also taken licensed mobile gaming rights for popular Indian IP characters like Chhota Bheem, Motu Patlu, Mighty Raju, Shikari Shambhu, Roll #21, Eena Meena Deeka, Oggy and the Cockroaches and Shin Chan in the kids” category.

Nazara is backed by investors, including West Bridge Capital, IIFL Special Opportunities Fund; Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Turtle Entertainment GmbH, the IP owner of the world”s largest esports franchise (ESL). PTI SR SHW RAM

Google to invest ₹33,737 cr in Reliance Jio Platforms

“Source:- Livemint”
Reliance Industries has announced a new stakeholder in Jio Platforms. The company has announced Google as a new strategic partner. The company has claimed that the search giant will invest 33,737 crore with a stake of 7.7%. This takes the total investment by stakeholders to 1,52,056 crore.

Before the Google announcement, Reliance Industries had sold stakes worth 1,18,318.45 crore which includes other investors like Facebook. While the lockdown and times of uncertainty hit the share values of most companies, Reliance Industries has managed to soar through by an increment of over 120% since the lockdown began in mid-March. Other major investors and collaborators from the tech world include chipset makers Intel and Qualcomm.

Globally, the company has managed to make space for itself in the list of top 50 most valuable publicly traded firms globally.

Mr. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said, “Google has empowered millions of Indians to access helpful information and, like Jio, is a force for change and innovation. We welcome Google onboard and are excited about our partnership for what it can deliver to Indians, from universalising Internet usage to deepening the new digital economy and providing a prime mover to India’s economic growth. Together, we hope to play a strong facilitative role in the transformative journey of building a new, Digital India.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai also spoke at the Reliance AGM, confirming the tech company’s strategic partnership in India with Jio Platforms.

Mr. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said, “Reliance Industries, and Jio Platforms in particular, deserve a good deal of credit for India’s digital transformation. The pace and scale of digital transformation in India is hugely inspiring for us and reinforces our view that building products for India first helps us build better products for users everywhere. Google is proud to invest  33,737 crore into Jio. I am excited that our joint collaboration will focus on increasing access for hundreds of millions of Indians who don’t currently own a smartphone while improving the mobile experience for all.”

Reliance Industries conducted its 43rd annual general meeting (AGM) for the first time through a virtual medium, given the current Covid crisis.

Explained: What the $10 billion investment means for Google, and India

“Source:- Indian Express”
Tech-giant Google Monday announced plans to invest $10 billion in India over the next 5-7 years by way of equity investments, partnerships and other arrangements to “accelerate digitisation” in the country.

The announcement assumes particular significance given the impending gap in the country’s tech investment ecosystem following the Centre’s clampdown on Chinese technology firms.

How will Google invest from the $10-billion fund?

Google said its $10-billion fund would focus on areas such as enabling affordable access to the Internet and to information for every Indian in their own language; building new products and services in segments like consumer tech, education, health and agriculture; empowering businesses, especially small and medium ones, to transform digitally; leveraging technology and artificial intelligence for digital literacy, outbreak predictions, and support for rural economies.

These investments will be made through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, operations, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. These include Google’s existing projects such as Internet Saathi for spreading awareness of the Internet in rural villages and an artificial intelligence-based flood forecasting system, among others.

Is this a reaction to the curbs on Chinese companies?

While the fund may have been in the works since before the clampdown on Chinese companies, the development did present an opportunity for tech majors like Google to grow their share in India’s internet pie.

Big technology companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter are, in any case, prohibited from doing business in China. Potential hurdles for Chinese companies investing in India could provide better prospects for American giants to strengthen their position in a market which has the second-most Internet users in the world.

What are Google’s top investments in India so far?

Google has invested in various startups and ventures in India through several of its investment vehicles. On November 1, 2013, the company invested Rs 3.13 crore in Sana Ventures in the seed funding round, and Rs 3 crore in Agastya International Foundation.

Since then, it has invested in $45,000,000 in Dunzo and Rs 39 crore in the online education portal CueMath.

In its latest investment on June 24, Google put $27,500,000 in the Series E funding of a Gurugram-based company Aye Finance.

How does this compare with Google’s global investments in tech ventures?

Compared with its global investments, investment in India dwarves, but the $10 billion as part of the ‘Google for India Digitization Fund’ will boost Indian companies in Google’s portfolio. Between January 1, 2010 and July 13 this year, Google and its venture capital arms have invested in more than 900 companies globally. Among these, it has the maximum investments of $1.5 billion in Indonesian multi-service startup Gojek, $1 billion in ride-sharing firm Lyft, $1.4 billion in its rival Uber, and $1 billion in Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

How does this announcement figure in big-tech’s outlook on India?

Google’s investment plan is in line with big-tech’s bullish outlook on India. Earlier this year, Amazon said it would invest an additional $1 billion in India. This was followed by a marquee investment announcement of $5.7 billion by Facebook in the country’s largest telecom company Reliance Jio. Last month, Microsoft’s venture fund M12 said it would open an office in India to pursue investment opportunities focusing on B2B software startups.

 

Indian online grocery market can exceed $3 billion sales in 2020: Sanjiv Goenka

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI:  The Indian online grocery market could exceed sales of USD 3 billion (about Rs 22,500 crore) in 2020, a substantial 76 per cent jump over the previous year, Spencer’s Retail Chairman Sanjiv Goenka said. The preference for online delivery of products became more visible following the COVID-19 outbreak, he added.

Spencer’s Retail, part of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka (RPSG) Group, had acquired online supermarket and grocery store Nature’s Basket in July 2019.

Consumers opted to buy essentials and other products from home in a bigger way than they had done in the past, he said.

“The result is that India’s online grocery market could exceed USD 3 billion in sales in 2020, a substantial 76 per cent increase over the previous year following a demand spike for the home delivery of fresh produce,” Goenka said in his address to shareholders in the company’s Annual Report for 2019-20.

With increased access to smartphones and low data costs, shoppers now prefer an omni-channel shopping experience, he added.

Spencers Retail is attractively positioned to capitalise on the omni-channel opportunity, he said.

“The company did not just respond to this sectoral inflexion point with a relevant mobile application and home delivery; it invested in enhancing proximity to consumers through phone call-based delivery, Chatbots and WhatsApp-driven product delivery using its stores as hubs,” Goenka said.

Besides, the retail chain collaborated with Uber  and other delivery partners for product supply, strengthening its last-mile capability.

According to Spencer’s Retail CEO Devendra Chawla, the company’s online business experienced a milestone in FY20 where it not only consistently scaled the number of monthly active users but also positively turned around its unit-level economics.

“Our unit-level economics grew 45 per cent with a substantial increase of 125 per cent in our registered customer base. On the overall, the number of orders grew 175 per cent, which helped us significantly moderate delivery costs,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company operated 90 per cent of its stores across the country

“We will accelerate our transformation and deepen our relevance,” said Goenka. “We believe that our competitiveness will be derived from omni-channel consumer access, judicious store rollout, distinctive positioning in the minds of our consumers, a balance of lifestyle and essential products, a shift towards nonfood & apparel in the product mix.”

Headquartered in Kolkata, Spencer’s Retail operates 191 stores (including Nature’s Basket) of various formats in 42 cities.

Spencer’s Retail posted a revenue of Rs 2,373.29 crore in FY 2019-20.

Apple supplier Foxconn plans to invest US$ 1 billion in India: Sources

“Source:- IBEF”
Foxconn plans to invest up to US$ 1 billion to expand a factory in southern India where the Taiwanese contract manufacturer assembles Apple iPhones.

This is can be considered as a move by the company to shift its base because of the disruptions from a trade war between Beijing and Washington and the coronavirus crisis.

“There’s a strong request from Apple to its clients to move part of the iPhone production out of China,” according to one of the sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Though, there was no official statement by Foxconn or Apple regarding the matters.

The investment is planned over the course of next three years in the Sriperumbur plant, where Apple’s iPhone XR is made some 50 km west of Chennai. It is expected to manufacture other iPhones models at the plant.

Foxconn is headquartered in Taipei and will add some 6,000 jobs at the Sriperumbur plant in Tamil Nadu state under the plan. The company also operates a separate plant in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where it makes smartphones for China’s Xiaomi Corp, among others.

Last month, Foxconn Chairman Mr Liu Young-way has said it would ramp up its investment in India, without giving details.

In India, the world’s second-biggest smartphone market, Apple holds about 1 per cent of smartphone sales here. iPhones is status symbol in India because of its pricey nature.

This move is also expected to help Apple save on import taxes that further push up its prices.

Apple assembles a few models through Taiwan’s Wistron Corp in the southern tech hub of Bengaluru. Wistron is also set to open a new plant, where it plans to make more Apple devices.

“With India’s labour cheaper compared with China, and the gradual expansion of its supplier base here, Apple will be able to use the country as an export hub,” Mr Neil Shah of Hong Kong-based tech researcher Counterpoint said.

The government of India has been working to boost electronics manufacturing by firms such as Foxconn and launched a US$ 6.65 billion plan last month, offering five global smartphone makers incentives to establish or expand domestic production.

This is move of manufacturing locally is expected to be a boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship “Make in India” drive, aimed at creating new jobs.

Milk production is expected to touch 330 million tons by 2024, says dairy minister

“Source:- Agri Times”
NEW DELHI : Indian minister for animal husbandry and dairying Giriraj Singh today while launching the implementation guidelines for Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) worth INR 15,000 crore said by 2024, country’s milk production is expected to touch 330 million tonnes.

While speaking at the launch, the minister said, “India is producing milk of 188 million tonnes and only 20 percent to 25 percent milk is coming under processing sector and government is trying to bring the same up to 40 percent.”

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for announcing the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund (AHIDF), Giriraj Singh said that India is engaged in breed improvement to increase milk production and on the other hand also taking care of the processing sector and informed that the Dairy Processing Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) is being implemented for infrastructure development in cooperative sector and AHIDF is a first type of scheme for private sector.

Millions of farmers will be benefited once the infrastructure is created and more milk will be processed. This will also increase export of dairy products which is presently negligible. India needs to go up to the standards of countries like New Zealand in the Dairy sector, Singh stressed.

Expressing satisfaction that during Covid-19 lockdown, dairy farmers could maintain steady supply of milk to the consumers in the country, the minister said that government has been implementing several schemes for incentivizing the investment made by dairy cooperative sector for development of dairy infrastructure. The AHIDF has been set up as MSMEs and Private companies also need to be promoted and incentivized for their involvement in processing and value addition infrastructure.

AHIDF to facilitate investment in dairy sector

AHIDF would facilitate much needed incentivisation of investments in establishment of such infrastructure for dairy and meat processing and value addition infrastructure and establishment of animal feed plant in the private sector.

The eligible beneficiaries under the Scheme would be Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), MSMEs, Section 8 Companies, Private Companies and individual entrepreneurs with minimum 10 percent margin money contribution by them. The balance 90 percent would be the loan component to be made available by scheduled banks. Government of India will provide 3% interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries. There will be 2 years moratorium period for principal loan amount and 6 years repayment period thereafter.

Government to set up Credit Guarantee Fund

Government of India would also set up Credit Guarantee Fund of INR 750 crore to be managed by National Bank for Agriculture and rural Development (NABARD). Credit guarantee would be provided to those sanctioned projects which are covered under MSME defined ceilings. Guarantee Coverage would be up to 25 percent of Credit facility of borrower.

The beneficiaries intending to invest for establishing dairy and meat processing and value addition infrastructure or strengthening of the existing infrastructure can apply for loan in the scheduled bank through ‘Udyami Mitra’ portal of SIDBI.

Huge potential for private sector in dairy

There is huge potential waiting to be unlocked in investment through private sector. The INR 15,000 crore AHIDF and the interest subvention scheme for private investors will ensure availability of capital to meet upfront investment required for these projects and also help enhance overall returns/ pay back for investors.

Such investments in processing and value addition infrastructure by eligible beneficiaries would also promote export of these processed and value added commodities.

Since, almost 50 percent to 60 percent of final value of dairy output in India flows back to farmers, therefore, growth in this sector can have significant direct impact on farmer’s income. Size of dairy market and farmers’ realization from milk sales is closely linked with development of organized off-take by cooperative and private dairies.

Fund will provide employment to 35 lakh people

Thus, investment incentivization in AHIDF would not only leverage 7 times private investment but would also motivate farmers to invest more on inputs thereby driving higher productivity leading to increase in farmers’ incomes. The measures approved through AHIDF would also help in direct and indirect livelihood creation for 35 lakh persons.

Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Pratap Chandra Sarangi said that Government has decided to vaccinate 53.5 crore animals and 4 crore animals have already been vaccinated. Breed improvement is taking place through technology intervention.

However, we are lagging behind in processing sector. Using the AHIDF, processing plants can be established for fodder also. This will help in doubling farmers’ incomes and also contribute in achieving Prime Minister’s dream of a USD $ 5 trillion economy.

Qualcomm picks 0.15 per cent stake in Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms for Rs 730 cr

“Source:- Hindustan Times”
Qualcomm Ventures has picked up 0.15 per cent stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 730 crore, Reliance Industries said on Sunday.

Qualcomm is the 12th investor in Jio Platforms in as many weeks.

“Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated, an industry leader in wireless technologies, has committed to invest up to Rs 730 crore in Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore.

“Qualcomm Ventures’ investment will translate into 0.15 per cent equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis,” the company said in a statement.

 

Facebook makes education push in India

“Source:- Tech Crunch”
Facebook,  which reaches more users than any other international firm in India, has identified a new area of opportunity to further spread its tentacles in the world’s second-largest internet market.

On Sunday, the social juggernaut announced it had partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in India, to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.

Through these subjects, Facebook and CBSE aim to prepare secondary school students for current and emerging jobs, and help them develop skills to safely browse the internet, make “well informed choices” and think about their mental health, they said.

Facebook said it will provide training in various phases. In the first phase, more than 10,000 teachers will be trained; in the second, they will coach 30,000 students. The three-week training on AR will cover fundamentals of the nascent technology, and ways to make use of Facebook’s Spark AR Studio to create augmented reality experiences.

“I encourage the teachers and students to apply for the programs commencing on July 6, 2020,” said Ramesh Pokhriyal, Union Minister of Human Resources Development in India, in a statement.

Facebook has in recent years ramped up its efforts to create awareness about the ill side of technology as its platform confronts misuse of its own services in the country. Last year it partnered with telecom giant Reliance Jio Platforms — in which it would eventually invest $5.7 billion — to launch “Digital Udaan,” the “largest ever digital literacy program” for first-time internet users in the country. India is the biggest market for Facebook by user count.

Instagram’s  Guide for Building Healthy Digital Habits, which has been developed in collaboration with the Jed Foundation and Young Leaders for Active Citizenship, aims to help youngsters better understand the “socio-emotional space” they operate in and engage in health conversations.

“I am proud to share that CBSE is the only Board that has introduced the modules of Digital Safety and Online Well-being, Instagram Toolkit for Teens and Augmented Reality. Incorporating technology and digital safety into school curriculum will ensure students are not only gaining knowledge to succeed in the digital economy but also learning and collaborating in a safe online environment,” said Manoj Ahuja, chairperson of CBSE, in a statement.

The announcement today caps a remarkable week in India that started with New Delhi blocking nearly 60 services developed by Chinese firms over cybersecurity concerns. TikTok, one of the services that has been hit by India’s order, identified Asia’s third-largest economy as its biggest market outside of China.

The service, run by Chinese giant ByteDance, reaches more than 200 million users in India, most of whom live in small towns and cities. TikTok  began working with scores of content creators and firms in India last year to populate its short-form video service with educational videos.

Agritech sector could attract over $500 mn in VC investment: report

“Source:- Outlook India”
New Delhi- Investments from venture capital firms in agri-tech startups are expected to exceed USD 500 million (around Rs 3,730 crore) in the next two years as entities engaged in helping farmers, enabling financing for them and enhancing farm mechanisation attract significant interest, a report by Maple Capital Advisors said on Monday.

India”s agritech sector attracted about USD 245 million in investments from venture capital firms in 2019, the report titled ”India Agritech – Investment Trends” said.

“The golden age of Indian agriculture may well have just begun backed by unparalleled digital access to farmers, overarching reforms and government support. The farmer as a consumer and a producer is now being empowered by access to information, inputs, farm to fork linkages and financing support,” Maple Capital Advisors managing Director Pankaj Karna said.

He added that the investment momentum is expected to continue on back of significant reforms and digital inclusion.

The report said there are more than 500 active agritech startups in the country that are working towards solving the problems and challenges in the agriculture sector. The agritech revolution has empowered farmers to get better quality inputs, timely information, access to markets and thereby, the potential to yield higher income levels, it added.

“Farm and fork linkages model is expected to continue to attract major investments in years to come,” the report said.

It noted that the government has announced a number of policy measures for the agriculture sector, and these steps are expected to strengthen infrastructure logistics and capacity building. It also paves the path for increased private sector participation across the farm-to-fork chain.

Notable deals in 2019 and 2020 included Tiger Global investing USD 89 million in Ninjacart, AgroStar raising USD 27 million in funding led by Bertelsmann India, and fresh produce distribution startup WayCool receiving USD 17 million from LGT Impact, Caspian and Northern Arc, it added. PTI SR SHW SHW

Unacademy acquires PrepLadder for $50 million

“Source:- Livemint”
MUMBAI: Facebook-backed online learning platform Unacademy has acquired ed-tech startup PrepLadder for $50 million. The Chandigarh-based startup primarily provides preparatory help with medical entrance exams.

The acquisition highlights how ed-tech startups are favourites of investors in current times. In the first six months of 2020, venture capital investors pumped in $795 million in the segment compared with $108 million in the year-ago period.

This move will strengthen Unacademy’s presence in medical entrance examination category such as NEET PG and FMGE. As a part of its inorganic growth strategy, Unacademy recently acquired Kreatryx and took over the custodianship of CodeChef.

Started in 2016, PrepLadder specialises in medical examinations and provides access to education services and preparation material for exams such as NEET PG, AIIMS PG, NEET SS, and FMGE. Founded by Deepanshu Goyal, Vitul Goyal, and Sahil Goyal, the company claims to have over 85,000 active subscribers.

“As we strengthen our position as a market leader in the test prep market, bringing PrepLadder on board will play a strategic role for Unacademy in the medical entrance examinations category. PrepLadder is doing great work in its field and we hope they go into more markets and continue this work,” said Gaurav Munjal, founder and CEO, Unacademy.

Deepanshu Goyal, co-Founder, PrepLadder said, “We are extremely happy to be a part of the largest learning platform in India. Unacademy and PrepLadder are working towards the common goal of making quality education accessible to all. We believe that the synergies between both products will truly create a mark in the industry.”

In February, Unacademy raised $110 million from social networking giant Facebook and US private equity firm General Atlantic at a post-money valuation of $510 million.

Existing investors Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital and Blume Ventures also participated in the round, apart from investments by Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Udaan cofounder Sujeet Kumar in their individual capacities.

In the last three months, Unacademy has recorded a 100% increase in its paid subscriber base given the emphasis on online learning. The average daily watch time across Unacademy platforms has also risen significantly, with monthly watch time minutes at an all-time high of over 1 billion.

Over 525,000 learners attempted various mock tests on the platform for competitive examinations such as UPSC, NEET-PG, and CAT among others during this period.

With schools shut because of the coronavirus pandemic, online learning platforms have stepped in to fill the gap – providing investors with robust prospects.

Ed tech funding has largely been led by Byju’s, now valued at $10.5 billion, after Tiger Global invested $200 million in the entity in January.

India ranks 34th in Global Real Estate Transparency Index 2020 by JLL

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line ”
India’s real estate industry has registered one of the largest improvements globally and regionally in Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) biennial Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI).

The country ranks 34th globally on the index, with higher levels of transparency observed in India due to regulatory reforms, enhanced market data, and sustainability initiatives, JLL mentioned in its official release.

JLL stated that the improvement is led by the progress in the country’s Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) framework attracting greater interest from institutional investors.

India has also edged into the top 20 for Sustainability Transparency through the active role of organizations like the Indian Green Building Council and Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment.

The 2020 Index is launched at a time of massive economic and societal disruption where the need for transparent processes, accurate and timely data, and high ethical standards are in closer focus.

The backdrop of Covid-19 is also ensuring that transparency within Asia Pacific’s real estate legal and regulatory systems is more important than ever to global investors as they look to deploy approximately $40 billion* in dry powder capital into the region.

Speaking on India’s rank, Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head (India) JLL said in an official statement: “India has seen a steady improvement in the Global Transparency Index over the years. In fact, along with Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam, we are among the handful of countries that have seen the highest improvement owing to positive governmental support and an enhanced ecosystem of transparency.”

He added: “In particular, the national REIT framework has been a major contributor to transparency in India, and with ongoing progress and governance, will continue to attract more interest from institutional investors.”

According to him, India has also edged into the top 20 for Sustainability Transparency through the active role of organizations like the Indian Green Building Council and Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment.

“I see these as extremely positive signs of how much we have covered in the real estate sector and a strong base in which to build on transparency gains,” he believes.

According to JLL, pressure exists from investors, businesses, and consumers to further improve real estate transparency to compete with other asset classes and meet heightened expectations. This also pushed further the industry’s role in providing a sustainable and resilient built environment in the age of Covid-19. Furthermore, innovative new property technology (proptech) is changing how real estate data is gathered and interpreted, and influencing industry transparency at a regulatory level.

“While investment into commercial real estate has inevitably paused during the pandemic, the overarching trend toward rising allocations to this asset class will continue. As investors look to allocate more capital into Asia Pacific real estate, transparency becomes fundamentally more important, as will the enforcement of robust regulatory frameworks,” said Dr. Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head – Research & REIS, India, JLL.

The rankings have six Asia Pacific markets – Mainland China (32nd), Thailand (33rd), India (34th), Indonesia (40th), Philippines (44th) and Vietnam (56th) – among the top 10 biggest improvers globally. Mature markets such as Australia (3rd) and New Zealand (6th) have maintained their positions near the top of the global ranking.

Over the last decade, India has shown promising developments and is now at the cusp of being ‘Transparent’ within the GRETI 2020 rankings. At the same time, India’s rank in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Ranking’ improved significantly from 142 in 2014 to 63 in 2019.

Amongst the indicators, India’s ranking for ease in obtaining construction permits witnessed the highest jump from 182 to 27 in the same period.

Within the realty sector, key structural reforms made in the recent past include the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act 2016 (RERA), GST, Benami Transaction Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 2016, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, digitization of land records, among others.

JLL has been tracking real estate transparency since 1999. This 11th edition of GRETI covers 99 countries and territories, and 163 city regions. This latest survey has been extended to quantify 210 separate elements of transparency, with additional coverage on sustainability and resilience, health and wellness, proptech, and alternatives sectors.

Amazon parent invests Rs 2,310 crore in Indian unit

“Source:- IBEF”
Amazon.com, Inc. has invested about Rs 2,310 crore (US$ 327.71 million) into Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd, its marketplace unit in India, according to filings with the corporate affairs ministry.

These new funds are expected to help the US e-commerce giant to expand its seller network in India, where a three-month-long strict lockdown aimed at curbing COVID-19 has severely disrupted businesses.

Amazon Corporate Holdings Pvt. Ltd, a Singapore entity, and Amazon.com has made the investment, which was approved by the board of Amazon Seller Services at a meeting on 25 June.

This is the second investment done by the company this year in the Indian marketplace. In January 2020, the company infused over Rs 2,500 crore (US$ 354.66 million) into Amazon Seller Services and Amazon Data Services India.

According to the latest data available, Amazon Seller Services decreased its loss 9.5 per cent year-on-year to Rs 5,685 crore (US$ 806.50 million) for fiscal year 2018-19. Revenues surged 55 per cent to Rs 7,778 crore (US$ 1.10 billion) in 2018-19.

Amazon founder Mr Jeff Bezos pledged US$ 1 billion in new investments to help take small Indian businesses online, as he pulled out all the stops to encourage local merchants, and the government amid regulatory scrutiny and protests by traders.

These investments are expected to help around 10 million small and medium businesses, including manufacturers, resellers, local offline shops, and brands.

More than 600,000 sellers are currently listed on the Amazon marketplace.

In April 2020, the online retailer announced plans to invest Rs 10 crore (US$ 1.42 million) in ramping up a pilot programme that saw Amazon Seller Services reach out to 5,000 local stores selling electronics, apparel, toys, furniture, grocery, home furnishings, to list on its platform as the company continues to expand its range of sellers and products.

The company has extended its work with India’s small business owners, manufacturers, and suppliers. It has been working in attracting more sellers and partnering into its fold to grow its share in the country’s retail market.

In the meantime, large Indian e-commerce firms have been moving up to provide increased support to their seller ecosystem, to guarantee business continuity, after the lockdowns heavily impacted the operations of small and medium-sized businesses.

Amazon has Walmart-owned Flipkart as its competitor in India. Flipkart has also been ramping up its seller network.

As the offline retail has become challenging with current situation, online retail is gaining momentum with the gradual unlocking of businesses.

In May 2020, Amazon said that its India operations were the worst-affected across all its operations worldwide by the pandemic as the Indian government ordered the company to halt the sales of almost all items but groceries during the lockdown that was first imposed on 25 March.

Flipkart Group invests ₹260 crore in Arvind Youth Brands

“Source:- The Hindu”
Flipkart Group has invested ₹260 crore to acquire a significant minority stake in Arvind Youth Brands, a subsidiary of Arvind Fashions Ltd (AFL).

Flipkart Group is part of Walmart comprises Flipkart, Myntra and PhonePe.

Arvind Youth Brands owns the Flying Machine brand. An iconic Indian brand with a 40-year legacy, Flying Machine has been retailing on the Flipkart Group platforms of Flipkart and Myntra for more than six years.

Through this investment, Flipkart Group and Arvind Fashions will work collaboratively to identify opportunities and synergies to innovate and develop products with strong value propositions at attractive price points, the companies said in a joint statement.

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group, said, “Through this investment, we look forward to partnering with the team at Arvind Youth Brands to continue to grow the market for its portfolio of products and enhance the strong brand equity that has been built over the last few decades.”

J. Suresh, MD and CEO Arvind Fashions, said, “The partnership with the Flipkart Group will help us accelerate our online growth strategy as we focus our efforts on developing an omni-channel retail approach for Arvind Youth Brands and Flying Machine.

“Given the strong existing relationship with the Flipkart Group, and their presence in online fashion, it was an obvious choice for us to enter into this engagement through which Flipkart and Myntra will be our preferred online partner for the Flying Machine brand, while we continue to grow our offline sales through channels like exclusive brand stores, department stores and multi-brand stores,” he added.

The transaction is subject to customary conditions.

Tritium to work with TATA AutoComp to supply DC fast chargers for electric vehicles

“Source:- Austrade”
India’s highly respected TATA Group has selected Australian industry leader Tritium for its DC fast-charging expertise.

Tritium Pty Ltd is a technology company specialising in the design and manufacture of direct current (DC) fast-charging solutions for electric vehicles (EV). It was established in 2001 and is one of Australia’s fastest growing technology companies, with significant operations and commercial success in leading international EV markets.

India prioritises clean and sustainable mobility

In a sign of India’s growing attention to sustainable transport infrastructure, one the country’s leading automotive and mobility component suppliers, Tata AutoComp Systems of Pune, has entered into a partnership with Tritium to supply DC chargers for electric vehicles. Tritium’s Veefil-RT DC fast chargers are capable of charging a range of EVs including two-wheeler, passenger and commercial vehicles.

In March 2019, the Indian Government introduced the FAME II scheme for the “faster adoption and manufacture of (hybrid and) electric” vehicles. It includes Rs10 billion (approximately A$20 million) to set up charging stations in large metros and other smart cities as well as more remote locations.

India has already committed to reductions in the use of fossil fuels, and has set a target that will see 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduced by a third from 2005 levels. Rapid urbanisation is creating pressure on an already fragile environment and India is home to 14 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, according to a recent WHO study.

The country is also keen to reduce its dependency on oil as it imports 80 per cent of its transportation fuel needs. Against this backdrop, the FAME II initiative demonstrates clear intent on the part of the government to prioritise a more sustainable and cleaner environment.

Australian leadership in the EV charging sector

Tata AutoComp has established a significant presence in the Indian automotive component market with a range of strategic partnerships in products and services for Indian (and international) original equipment manufacturers. It has 7,000 employees and is active across vehicle segments.

Commenting on the decision to partner with Tritium for the supply of EV fast chargers, the MD and CEO of Tata AutoComp, Arvind Goel indicated that with the arrival of EVs, the need for chargers capable of powering them is significant. He confirmed that the company, part of India’s TATA Group, is striving to bring the latest technology and solutions to its customers.

Tritium is a company that is focused on helping create cleaner, healthy and more convenient cities. It aims to support this by providing energy freedom to EV owners and drivers using an ecosystem of intelligent charging products that help speed up the transition to e-mobility.

Tritium holds a dominant market share in many significant EV markets and has installed its Veefil fast chargers in over 30 countries. It has an estimated 25 per cent market share in the US, 50 per cent in Norway, 20 per cent in the UK and 90 per cent in Australia.

Its entry into the nascent but potentially enormous market of India was supported by the Indian network of Austrade, with introductions to some of the key stakeholders in the EV infrastructure space.

In a market where the badge of government can often be helpful, Austrade also made introductions for Tritium to private corporates and assisted in organising a trip for key TATA AutoComp stakeholders to Tritium’s cutting-edge Brisbane manufacturing facility in Australia.

Looking ahead to the future

Although EVs accounted for only 2 million of the 86 million passenger cars sold worldwide in 2018, experts are almost unanimous in their assertion that the shift to e-mobility is both imminent and inevitable.

In India, the two- and three-wheeler market has seen the first significant changes. Low cost e-rickshaws, offering last-mile connectivity, racked up sales of more than 600,000 units in 2019.

The passenger car segment will be slower to evolve as the Indian market is currently constrained by the purchasing power of its drivers. Although it is the world’s largest market for small cars, fewer than 50 per cent of sales occur at prices above A$12,000. Furthermore, the lack of EV charging infrastructure in India to date still acts as a brake on sales of electric vehicles.

This may help explain why a recent report by Bloomberg forecasts Indian EV passenger car penetration of only 6 per cent by 2030. However, rapid growth is expected to see this reach 28 per cent by 2040, making India the world’s fourth largest EV market in the world in the next 20 years.

Austrade is currently working with a number of companies developing opportunities in India’s sustainable infrastructure and built environment sectors. Australia’s leading expertise and innovation is increasingly in demand in the world’s fastest-growing large economy.

 

Convergent Finance invests US$ 14 million in Jyoti Foods

“Source:- IBEF”
Convergent Finance LLP, the Mumbai based private equity fund, invested Rs 107 crore (US$ 14.1 million) in Jyoti International Foods, an end-to-end Supply Chain solution provider in Indian food services industry, for acquiring a minority stake.

According to company’s statement, this investment will be utilised for technology upgradation and new market development besides as an equity tap to undertake mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and business expansions plans.

Jyoti offers it service to a wide range of customers within the food services, quick-service restaurants (QSRs), cloud kitchens and cinemas. It also provides a variety of solutions – managing end-to-end logistics, warehousing, and procurement planning. The company was set up in 2005 and has clientele including Subway, Rebel Foods, Cinepolis, Chili’s, Holiday Inn among others, across 150 plus cities in 25 states across the country.

“We are really excited and look forward to this new partnership which will assist and guide us to scale up our business, thereby enabling us to become the market leader in providing world class end-to-end SCM solutions. We intend to draw upon the deep expertise of the Convergent team in M&As,” said Mr Akhil Puri, Managing Director of Jyoti.

“Given our track record of working with great platform companies to help transform them into global leaders, Jyoti will benefit from our network of relationships, strategic insights and operational expertise,” said Mr Harsha Raghavan, Managing Partner at Convergent.

Convergent Finance acquired a minority stake in Hindustan Foods Limited, a contract manufacturer for the FMCG industry, in February last year, as its debut deal. Hindustan Foods manufactures a range of products in food and non-food, extending to cosmetics, personal care, and home care products.

Convergent is led by Mr Harsha Raghavan, an industry veteran who previously founded and led Fairfax’s investment activities in India.

Milkbasket raises US$ 5.5 million funding led by Inflection Point Ventures

“Source:- IBEF”
Milkbasket, a grocery delivery platform, has raised US$ 5.5 million as a part of its ongoing series B round led by the Inflection Point Ventures.

The round also saw participation from existing investors including Blume Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Mayfield India, Unilever Ventures and BeeNext.

Though, the valuation at which the funds were raised was not disclosed.

So far, Milkbasket has raised over US$ 33 million in funding.

“This is probably our last fundraise on our path to profitability – that we target to achieve in 2020. Our Gurgaon, Noida and Bengaluru operations are already breaking even with other cities on an accelerated track,” Milkbasket co-founder and CEO Mr Anant Goel said.

He added that these funds will “provide a further boost in our efforts to achieve the same and necessary buffers to deal with any eventualities”.

Presently, Milkbasket serves over 1.3 lakh households and offers over 9,000 products across fruits and vegetables, dairy, bakery and other FMCG categories. The company is operational in Gurugram, Noida, Dwarka, Ghaziabad, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru.

“…Milkbasket has a very lean delivery model using the milk-run concept that enables them to run a very efficient and cost-effective supply chain. This will help them become profitable very soon and first among the various competitive players in the market,” Mr Vinay Bansal, Founder CEO of Inflection Point Ventures said.

Unicorn India Ventures invests $6,50,000 in Blockchain startup ChitMonks

“Source:-  CXO Today”

Mumbai-based early stage venture capital Fund house Unicorn India Ventures has announced second investment from Rs 400 crore Fund II in a Hyderabad based Fintech/Blockchain startup ChitMonks. The Company has raised $6,50,000 in a pre-series A round from UIV.

ChitMonks has developed a Blockchain-based product empowering the state government regulators to administerChit fund operations across the state on a private permissioned Blockchain network. They are extending their services to Chit fund companies of any size and anywhere in India,by digitally enabling them with process efficiency (payment collections, online* auctions, eKYC, eSign etc), better underwriting (bank statement analysis, credit profiling, credit liabilities) and making their offerings more inclusive.

Bhaskar Majumdar, Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures, says, “Even before the current Covid 19 scenario, we saw the potential in ChitMonks to revolutionize the current antiquated system of the chit fund industry by bringing the whole ecosystem online. It is in-line with our philosophy of investing in businesses which can digitize current processes and make them more transparent and accessible.”

Chit Fund as an asset class has been serving millions of subscribers since ages long before banking expanded to its current state. But as a sector, chit funds and their companies don’t enjoy goodwill from govts, new generation customers and other stakeholders. According to ChitMonks’ research there are about 30,000 registered chit fund companies in India, which are operating registered Chit fund business with approximately Rs1,50,000 crore AUM (Asset Under Management).

Pavan Adipuram, Co-founder, CEO ChitMonks, says, “Our team comes from a strong finance and tech background hence fintech as a space was a natural choice. Based on our research in the fintech space, we believed that foundational technologies likeBlockchainfor fintech products were redefining the trust and transparency at a new dimension. We believed that such technologies can redefine chit funds and they can re-emerge as a bonafide sector where retail investors can invest and borrow money in a trustless manner.” Getting backing from Unicorn India Ventures lends credibility to our vision and proves that we are not the only one who thinks some old economy sectors need a new age shake up and a pinch of technology to usher them in the digital transformation world and beyond, he adds.

The funds raised will be used for product development, market expansion, strategic hiring and further investment in scaling up the current business.

About ChitMonks

Founded in 2016, ChitMonks a product from Pangean Global Services Pvt Ltd with a singular vision of – “Making investments in Chit Funds more Accessible, Credible and Rewarding”, is tirelessly working with all the relevant stakeholders to build a Financially Inclusive Bharat with chit funds at its core. Building India’s largest Blockchain network for Savings and Borrowings, ChitMonks synergizes Chit Fund Companies, Regulators, Subscribers, Banks, Service providers, EcoSystem enablers to drive the largest trusted network of Savers and Borrowers platform. ChitMonks ecosystem will stand for three things Trust, Efficiency and Inclusion. Their product has been awarded Gold at National level for implementing emerging technologies like Blockchain to bring trust in administrative process of Chit fund operations.

About Unicorn India Ventures

Unicorn India Ventures is a Mumbai-based fund house started in 2015 by Anil Joshi and BhaskarMajumdar. The Fund House has also launched a UK India cross border fund for funding UK startups looking to enter India and have invested in 6 UK startups so far. From its first fund, UIV has invested in 18 companies like VLCC VanityCube, Inc42, Sequretek, Pharmarack, GrabonRent, Inntot, Genrobotic, SectorQube, Perfit, NeuroEquilibrium, SmartCoin, Open Bank, Boxx.ai, Clootrack and Openapp. Unicorn India has also announced Fund II, which is a Rs 400 crore fund launched in 2019. It has also marked its first close $12 million and has announced 2 investments.

MCL plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore in Odisha in five years

“Source:- IBEF”
Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) in Odisha by 2025-26.

According to the company’s official statement, the investment will be focused in acquisition of land for three new Mine, Develop and Operate projects, namely Siarmal (50 MTY) in Ib Valley coalfields, Subhadra (25 MTY) and Balbhadra North (10 MTY) in Talcher coalfields, as well as expansion of existing projects. It targets to increase its coal production capacity to 300 million tonnes (MT) in about three years.

In order to increase the capacity building for the new and expansion of existing projects, the company plans to invest in procurement of heavy machinery, besides setting-up of 1600 megawatt (MW) (2×800) super critical thermal power plant with planned investment of Rs 11,363 crore (US$ 1.61 billion) in Sundergarh district of Odisha.

It also plans to increase coal production by investing in strengthening coal evacuation infrastructure, like doubling of 53-km-long Jharsuguda-Sardega railway line with a flyover at Jharsuguda railway station and construction of 12 Rapid Loading Systems (RLS).

The company along with state government has planned for developing social infrastructure, like roads, flyovers, parks, etc. under its Command Area in Sundergarh, Jhasuguda, Sambalpur and Angul districts of state. It plans to spend Rs 31,000 crore (US$ 4.40 billion) out of the Re 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) for mining and social infrastructure development by 2023-24.

The company is also focusing on land reclamation and environment-protection, thus, the Innovations Cell at company headquarters is undertaking various initiatives to introduce best technology and practices for dust suppression, firefighting, eco-friendly coal loading, etc.

In order to increase its green footsteps, MCL is going to set-up more solar power plants, besides biological reclamation of mined-out area and bringing it to original form by laying top-soil, adopting best agricultural and afforestation practices.

The company has also adopted a part of tribal-dominated area under its command in Sundergarh for development under Gram Samridhi Yojana, to improve the quality of life in and around MCL’s projects.

This investment in social and mining projects is expected to increase direct and indirect employment for local youth and provide opportunities for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs).

COAI, 5G-ACIA sign MoU to shape 5G for India’s manufacturing industry

“Source:- IBEF”
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with global forum, 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation, or 5G-ACIA, to give shape to India’s 5G mobile communications in different industries, especially in the manufacturing and process sectors.

The technology is yet to be launched in India. Although, the spectrum auction to roll out 5G services in the country is scheduled for this year. The government is yet to decide on the date of it.

The MoU is a not-for-profit type and will be valid for three years till 2022. It will facilitate cooperation between the country’s apex telecom association and the global platform on issues related to 5G and its adoption for industry automation across sectors.

According to a statement released by the COAI, “Under the partnership, both bodies will identify topics of common interest and work to strengthen their relationship and foster closer cooperation on common agenda by joint participation in events, meetings, promotional activities and many other joint initiatives”.

According to the 5G-ACIA’s LinkedIn page, it is the central global forum for shaping 5G in the industrial domain. On the platform, various industries from all over the world jointly create a new information and communications technology (ICT) and operation technology (OT) ecosystem and set framework for a highly attractive emerging market.

“We are excited to partner with the 5G-ACIA, as we endeavour to continuously build our understanding and expertise towards the advancement of modern communication in the country. We truly believe that this partnership will be mutually beneficial and build on insights and learnings to shape Industrial 5G mobile communications and technology effectively” said Mr Rajan S Mathews, director general, COAI.

It is expected that 5G technology will act as a driving force and have a significant impact on design, operation and maintenance of factories and their production across the world. In India, the contribution of manufacturing is about 15 per cent of the overall GDP and supporting the sector with 5G will be crucial, said Mr Andreas Müller, chairman of 5G-ACIA.

“The world is looking towards India how it shapes its Industry 4.0 revolution and high-performance wireless communication services as provided by 5G certainly represent a critical enabler in this respect. We are very happy to partner with COAI towards the growth of such technologies and excited to share knowledge and collaborate on various topics of mutual interest with one common goal: Making Industrial 5G become a major success,” Mr Muller said.

Bridgestone ties up with Microsoft to develop tyre damage detecting system

Mumbai: Tyre maker Bridgestone  on Tuesday said it has partnered with Microsoft  to develop a tyre damage detecting system  on a real-time basis. Under the collaboration, Bridgestone will use the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform   (MCVP), which not only reduces accidents caused by technical failure but also increases road safety.

The tyre damage issues account for around 30 per cent of total car accidents caused by technical failure, as per Bridgestone.

The system delivers real-time awareness of damage to the tyre, using MCVP cloud framework together with existing sensor data, from hardware that is already installed, and uses algorithms to detect events affecting the tyre surface, and carcass, the company said in a release.

Currently, this system is available to all vehicle fleets and OEMs that use MCVP, it said adding, the partnership also enables Bridgestone to further develop its solution to meet the requirements of fleets and key OEM partners around the world.

“By teaming up with Microsoft, we have the opportunity to bring our Tyre Damage Monitoring System to millions of drivers, offering them better safety and peace of mind,” said Laurent Dartoux, CEO and President, Bridgestone EMIA.

Microsoft partners with mobility companies to support their transformation into smart mobility service providers, said Tara Prakriya, General Manager, Azure Mobility, and MCVP at Microsoft.

“With the MCVP, our mission is to help businesses accelerate the delivery of safe and personalised connected mobility experiences,” Prakriya said.

Stating that the tyre damage, which often cannot be detected without close, manual inspection, and which can potentially occur at any time, can also adversely affect other components of the vehicle, such as the wheels, Brigestone said in the release.

MCVP will also provide Bridgestone with a digital infrastructure that will accelerate its delivery of connected mobility solutions, providing access to a multitude of Microsoft Azure cloud, AI, and IoT capabilities, it said.

“This tie-up gives Bridgestone India the opportunity to bring state-of-the-art and pioneering technology in mobility solutions to the country and allow it to further collaborate with its OE partners,” said Bridgestone India Managing Director, Parag Satpute.

 

Global PE firms eye India’s auto components sector

“Source:- IBEF”
Top private equity (PE) firms such as Temasek, Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, Samara Capital, and Baring Private Equity Asia are actively exploring investment opportunities in India’s auto parts manufacturing sector. These firms are convinced that India’s auto parts industry has long-term potential to provide to the local markets and overseas. Thus, companies are focusing on investing on the low market valuations of most of these auto parts vendors due to COVID-related uncertainties to purchase minority or controlling stakes. These firms are looking for makers of parts for internal combustion engine vehicles, and electric mobility.

According to some sources, the PE firms have approached some companies based in the automotive hubs of Chennai and Pune in the past few months.

The auto component manufacturers have been facing financial stress due to drastic decrease in vehicle sales since FY19, worsened by the lockdown since March-end. This situation has left promoters with an urgent need of funds to ramp up production and invest for the future but due to weak demand and depressed valuations, options have been limited. Banks and other financial institutions are also been careful of extending credit due to fear of loans turning bad. Some promoters are worried about taking on fresh debt, making PE investments a more viable option.

“The current fiscal will be a tough one for the auto sector since sales were down by almost 18 per cent last fiscal. Also, most promoters have invested heavily because of the upgrade to Bharat Stage VI norms. So, most of them will need partners who can guide them on investment and acquisitions in the long term as well as provide capital in the short and medium term,” said the first person connected with deals.

According to a survey of the top 300 auto parts makers by ratings agency Crisil, combined revenues of the sector are likely to drop 16 per cent this fiscal due to the coronavirus-induced economic slowdown. EBITDA or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of these companies is expected to drop 30-35 per cent in FY21.

“Possibly for the first time in over a decade, we are seeing demand from OEMs, exports and the aftermarket in the red this fiscal, in addition to demand slowdown for two consecutive years,” said Mr Anuj Sethi, analyst, Crisil.

According to another source, promoters of auto component companies are also looking for opportunities outside India, especially in electric mobility, and the presence of a global PE investor on board is likely to help in arranging capital and other aspects of managing operations overseas.

“PE firms always look at the long-term potential and India is the only market expected to grow in the next decade as markets like China and US had already slowed before the pandemic. Most PE firms have also realized that current valuations make these companies quite lucrative and promoters also need capital. We expect consolidation in the component industry in the next two years,” said another source.

Though, there has been no official announcement from any of the companies.

Daily average electronic transactions increased from 66 Lakh in 2014 to 16.3 Crore in 2020; E-services increases from 2,463 in 2014 to 3,858 till May 2020

“Source:- IBEF”
Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Minister for Electronics & IT, Communications and Law & Justice, has said that the digital journey has focused on empowerment, inclusion and digital transformation and its positive impact is being felt in all aspects of the lives of Indian citizens. While addressing a video conference marking celebration of five years journey of India’s Digital India Programme here, today, he stated that in the current pandemic scenario, thanks to JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar an Mobile), people are able to work from home, people are able make digital payment, students are able to learn through TV, Mobile and Laptop, patients are able to take tele-consultation, and farmers in remote corner of India is able to get PM-KISAN benefits directly in their bank accounts.

The conference was organised by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to celebrate 5 Years of Digital India progressing towards Digital Bharat – AatmaNirbhar Bharat. This conference was graced by the presence of MoIT, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology, Shri Sanjay Dhotre, Additional Chief Secretaries of some States, Shri Nandan Nilekani, the IT Secretaries of all States, representatives from Ministries, Industry and the academia. The conference was attended by 1,500 delegates all over the world.

The Digital India journey in the past 5 years has centred around empowerment, inclusion, digital transformation. It has positively impacted all aspects of the lives of Indian citizens identity management through Aadhaar, Direct Benefit Transfer, Common Services Centres, DigiLocker, mobile based UMANG services, participatory governance through MyGov, Jeevan Pramaan, to UPI, Ayushman Bharat, e-Hospital, PM-Kisan, e-NAM, Soil Health Cards, SWAYAM, SWAYAM PRABHA, National Scholarship Portal, e-Pathshala, and so on. A ‘National AI Portal’ and ‘Responsible AI for Youth’ was launched recently to lay the foundation for an AI-powered future. Digital India’s initiatives have also played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 situation, such as Aarogya Setu, E-Sanjeevani, sensitisation through MyGov and Social media platforms etc.

Pointing  out that the number of e-Services has increased from 2,463 in 2014 to 3,858 till May 2020 and daily average electronic transactions have increased from 66 lakh in 2014 to 16.3 crore in 2020, the Union Minister shared that Aadhaar has been issued to 125.7 crore residents and 4,216 crore authentications have been facilitated. “Direct Benefit Transfer to the tune of Rs 11.1 lakh crore (US$ 157.47 billion) has been disbursed for 426 schemes from 56 Ministries and has led to the saving of Rs 1.7 lakh crore (US$ 24.12 billion) due. Jan Dhan Accounts have reached 38.73 crore beneficiaries, with a total of Rs 1.33 lakh crore (US$ 18.87 billion) in beneficiaries bank accounts. Mobile and internet connections are being used by 117 crore and 68.8 crore users, respectively. DigiLocker, launched on July 1, 2015, has 378 crore issued documents. Unified Mobile App for New-Age Governance (UMANG) has 860+ services operational and more than 3 crore downloads have taken place, he further added. MyGov has been launched to facilitate participatory governance in the country, with a total of 1.17 crore registered participants, while facilitating the Mann Ki Baat of the Prime Minister.

Emphasizing the Digital India’s initiatives during the COVID-19 situation, such as Aarogya Setu for its ground-breaking development time of 3 weeks and localisation in 12 Indian languages with 13 crore downloads, with additional 3 crore for Kai OS, he informed that it has helped identify over 350 COVID-19 hotspots. He further said that sensitization through MyGov and Social Media Platforms have played a crucial role in tackling the pandemic through user friendly graphics, video, quotes to citizens through the MyGov website and through all social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedln, Telegram, and YouTube. He also spoke briefly about other initiatives such as E-Sanjeevani, SAMHAR-COVID-19, Ayush Sanjivani Mobile app, and VC and e-Office.

While concluding, he reiterated that Digital India’s achievements can be attributed to the united efforts of Central Government, State Governments, Industries and Academia, all key parts of Team India. Lastly, he stated that India’s talent pool of skilled people, technology prowess and geo-political advantages are poised to make India an inspiring country in the 21st Century for the welfare of Indians and the world.

During the event, a panel discussion was held regarding public digital platforms. Shri Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, MeitY spoke about ‘Building Digital Government Platforms for the Digital Economy of the Future’. Shri Nandan Nilekani, Non-Executive Chairman, Infosys, spoke about the relevance and success of public-private partnership models in e-Government Development, where he touched four dimensions-Government as an enabler of technology, as a customer of Technology, as a platform provider and the Government as collaborator to provide solutions. He congratulated Hon’ble Minister on the successful implementation of Digital India in the country. The building of Aatma Nirbhar Digital Systems also deliberated extensively. ‘AatmaNirbharta’ or ‘Self-Reliance’ implies development of in-house capacity and capability to drive economic and social development of the country.

Intel Capital invests Rs 1,894 crore in Jio Platforms

“Source:- IBEF”
Intel Capital plans to invest Rs 1,894.50 crore (US$ 268.76 million) in Jio Platforms Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore (US$ 69.66 billion) and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore (US$ 73.20 billion). Intel Capital’s investment will translate into a 0.39 per cent equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.

The total investment received by Jio Platforms has reached Rs 117,588.45 crore (US$ 16.68 billion). Intel Capital has joined the list of marquee firms who have recently invested in the firm. Jio Platforms has more than 388 million subscribers. It has made significant investments across its digital ecosystem, powered by leading technologies spanning broadband connectivity, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, augmented and mixed reality and blockchain.

The investment made by Intel Capital are focused on innovative companies that have portfolio in disruptive technology areas like cloud computing, artificial intelligence and 5G – opportunities where Jio is also innovating and investing for growth. Intel Capital is the investment arm of Intel Corporation, a leader in the semiconductor industry, shaping the data-centric future with computing and communications technology that is the foundation of global innovations. It has operated in India for more than two decades and currently employs thousands of employees there with state-of-the-art design facilities in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

“We are extremely delighted to deepen our ties with technology leaders that embody our vision of transforming India into a leading Digital Society in the world. Intel is a true industry leader, working towards creating world-changing technology and innovations. Intel Capital has an outstanding record of being a valuable partner for leading technology companies globally. We are therefore excited to work together with Intel to advance India’s capabilities in cutting-edge technologies that will empower all sectors of our economy and improve the quality of life of 1.3 billion Indians,” Mr Mukesh Ambani, CMD of Reliance Industries said.

“Jio Platforms’ focus on applying its impressive engineering capabilities to bring the power of low-cost digital services to India aligns with Intel’s purpose of delivering breakthrough technology that enriches lives. We believe digital access and data can transform business and society for the better. Through this investment, we are excited to help fuel digital transformation in India, where Intel maintains an important presence.”

Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisor to Reliance Industries and AZB & Partners and Davis.

Oracle sharpens focus on India with new cloud data centre in Hyderabad

“Source:- IBEF”
Technology major Oracle Corp. launched its second cloud data centre in Hyderabad to support the increased customer demand for enterprise cloud services. This is in line with the Oracle’s global plan to operate 36 “second generation” cloud data centres or regions by the end of 2020.

In 2019, Oracle launched its Mumbai cloud region, making India its latest country with multiple cloud regions available. India has now joined US, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the European Union in having multiple Oracle Cloud regions that enable better disaster recovery strategies.

“Hyderabad’s data centre launch is part of Oracle’s dual-region strategy. Both our Mumbai and Hyderabad are second generation cloud regions, helping our customers meet India’s stringent requirements for data privacy and residency,” said Mr Shailender Kumar, regional managing director, Oracle India.

“It is aimed at enabling customers to comply with local data-related regulatory compliances and address operational issues related with operating in multiple countries. Also, customers get an unmatched BCP (business continuity planning) environment spanning two different seismic zones, inter-connected by low-latency Oracle backbone,” Mr Kumar said.

Despite of increase in its growth, both globally and in India, Oracle is believed to be a late entrant to the cloud business. Its cloud services and licence support revenues grew 1 per cent y-o-y to US$ 6.8 billion even as total revenues declined 6 per cent y-o-y to US$ 10.4 billion for the fourth quarter ended 31 May 2020. Oracle follows the June-May fiscal year.

As per the company, India has been the “best performing” region for Oracle within Japan and Asia-Pacific region consecutively for the last four years. “We have been clocking double digit growth for the last 5 years, doubling our overall customer base from 7,500 to 15,000 in the same timeframe,” Mr Kumar said.

Oracle has signed up a five-year contract with leading non-banking financial company Manappuram Finance Ltd to deliver its cloud solutions earlier this year. “With Oracle Cloud, we will gain 2-3x performance improvements over the next 5 years vis-à-vis our current IT setup, while also unlocking 30-40 per cent additional cost savings,” said Mr Raveendrababu BN, executive director, Manappuram Finance.

The company is also providing help to enterprises in India through artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled digital assistants in their core business processes. For example, Bajaj Electricals is using ‘Bajaj Paddy’, an AI chatbot to transform its customer interactions, said Mr Suhas Uliyar, vice president-Digital Assistant, AI & Integration, Oracle.

“Most importantly, there are no privacy issues and we can easily comply with the country regulations. All the data resides with our customers and we are not using customers’ data to train our models,” Mr Uliyar said.

Brands looking to shift production from China to India

KOLKATA/NEW DELHI: Indian contract manufacturers said there is a surge in interest from brands to make products like televisions, air-conditioners, microwave ovens, shoes, speakers, ear phones, set-top boxes and apparel in the country as companies fear consumer backlash against ‘Made in China’ products and expects surge in import duties by the government as a retaliatory step against China due to the Galwan crisis..

Third-party manufacturers like Dixon, Videotex International, SSIPL amongst others said companies were already exploring options to reduce their dependence on imports of finished products since the Covid-19  crisis disrupted their supplies from China, but the recent border issue and government’s vocal for local pitch has increased interest in last one week.

However, companies said China will still play a big part in sourcing of raw materials and components since no other country manufactures them as competitively.

“Companies will act according to the decisions of the Indian government. If India adds some additional duties on imports, then they will immediately look for alternatives,” said VK Mishra, chairman of India China Trade Centre.

chairman Sunil Vachani said brands are trying to de-risk themselves from tariff barriers which the government may put against China. “Consumers want to know the origin of the product and more interest for made in India which is triggering such increase in enquiries,” he said.

Electronics industry body, CEAMA president Kamal Nandi said 30% of air-conditioners are imported in India and majority of microwave ovens, with most of them coming from China. “We expect these will change by next year as several manufacturers are beefing up their capacities in India,” he said.

Arjun Bajaaj, director at Videotex International, said several brands, including the new entrants in TV category, want to start local production with contract manufacturers which will only further grow pace. The company already designs and manufactures for 15 television brands.

Even Chinese brands like OnePlus and Realme will be manufacturing their TVs in India.

The Centre is reportedly preparing a list of imports from China, including finished products, to curb them after the border tension at Galwan Valley. It is also scrutinising import of made in China products from ASEAN nations misusing the trade agreements.

Rishab Soni, managing director at SSIPL Group, which manufactures for brands such as Puma, Asics, Lotto and Power, said several brands have increased talks to move their China production not just to India but also ASEAN nations.

Shoe maker Woodland India   managing director Harkirat Singh said while it imports specialised footwear from China, it is looking at newer sourcing avenues including India. “The cost of production may go up by 5-10%, but we will absorb it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) is preparing a list of categories they currently import from China and identifying the products its members can ramp up or shift manufacturing in India.

“Sentiments will be driven by the consumers. If the consumers take even more aggressive stand, then the industry would be compelled to take immediate and dramatic steps,” said Rahul Mehta, chief mentor of CMAI.

He said India still has to build capabilities and expertise in areas of winter clothing, active-wear, speciality clothing and specialized sportswear.

Mishra said some companies are looking to route products through countries that enjoy trade concessions from both India and China like in the case of ASEAN countries and Bangladesh.

MCL plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore in Odisha in five years

“Source:- IBEF”
Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) in Odisha by 2025-26.

According to the company’s official statement, the investment will be focused in acquisition of land for three new Mine, Develop and Operate projects, namely Siarmal (50 MTY) in Ib Valley coalfields, Subhadra (25 MTY) and Balbhadra North (10 MTY) in Talcher coalfields, as well as expansion of existing projects. It targets to increase its coal production capacity to 300 million tonnes (MT) in about three years.

In order to increase the capacity building for the new and expansion of existing projects, the company plans to invest in procurement of heavy machinery, besides setting-up of 1600 megawatt (MW) (2×800) super critical thermal power plant with planned investment of Rs 11,363 crore (US$ 1.61 billion) in Sundergarh district of Odisha.

It also plans to increase coal production by investing in strengthening coal evacuation infrastructure, like doubling of 53-km-long Jharsuguda-Sardega railway line with a flyover at Jharsuguda railway station and construction of 12 Rapid Loading Systems (RLS).

The company along with state government has planned for developing social infrastructure, like roads, flyovers, parks, etc. under its Command Area in Sundergarh, Jhasuguda, Sambalpur and Angul districts of state. It plans to spend Rs 31,000 crore (US$ 4.40 billion) out of the Re 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) for mining and social infrastructure development by 2023-24.

The company is also focusing on land reclamation and environment-protection, thus, the Innovations Cell at company headquarters is undertaking various initiatives to introduce best technology and practices for dust suppression, firefighting, eco-friendly coal loading, etc.

In order to increase its green footsteps, MCL is going to set-up more solar power plants, besides biological reclamation of mined-out area and bringing it to original form by laying top-soil, adopting best agricultural and afforestation practices.

The company has also adopted a part of tribal-dominated area under its command in Sundergarh for development under Gram Samridhi Yojana, to improve the quality of life in and around MCL’s projects.

This investment in social and mining projects is expected to increase direct and indirect employment for local youth and provide opportunities for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs).

Dell partners Nasscom to help SMEs, startups with business continuity

“Source:- Livemint”

Bengaluru: Dell Technologies has collaborated with IT industry body Nasscom to help and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups run their operations and maintain business continuity amid the challenging business environment due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Part of Nasscom’s SME Advantage program, this partnership intends to “build a robust ecosystem to support them, by bringing together important products and services, indispensable for any business, at a competitive price,” Dell said.

Dell’s association with Nasscom is expected to help more than 2,400 SMEs, and 9,000 startups that are part of the Nasscom 10,000 startups network. “They will be provided with exclusive offers and rates on Dell’s client and infrastructure solutions. With these solutions, the organizations can equip their teams with industry leading technology and ensure business resiliency.”

“This partnership will present exclusive offers on Dell’s client and infrastructure solutions to the Nasscom members enabling them to keep their organizations agile, secure and growing in today’s rapidly changing environment,” said Alok Ohrie, president and managing director, Dell Technologies India.

The partnership is aimed at helping the SME and startup ecosystem evolve digitally, while reducing their operational costs by leveraging the products and services from Dell Technologies at competitive prices.

“The client solutions offered are designed to keep the organization secure and their employees productive, no matter where they work from. Along with this, Dell’s infrastructure solutions will enable them to have greater control of their IT and, help protect their business and customer data with better security measures,” Dell said.

 

Nutrition brand OZiva raises US$ 5 million from Matrix Partners India

“Source:- IBEF”
OZiva, a plant-based nutrition brand, has raised US$ 5 million, as part of Series A round, led by Matrix Capital India. The funding round also witnessed the participation from existing investor Titan Capital.

The company plans to use these funds to boost Research and Development (RandD), technology and expand its team along with widening customer base.

It was founded by Ms Aarti Gill and Mr Mihir Gadani in 2016. OZiva provides everyday fitness, skin, and hair nutrition products.

“We started OZiva with a simple vision of enabling millions of people to be healthier and better. Having a strong digital ecosystem and personalised consultations has helped us in delivering more than just the product and has reflected in our growth numbers as well as unit economics”, said Ms Gill, co-founder, OZiva.

The target audience of company is mainly women in the 18-55 age group.

“OZiva symbolizes the future of wellness and nutrition, with its vision to be the #1 Plant-based nutrition brand in the country. Its maniacal product focus using the highest quality ingredients, as well as leveraging the power of content and community to educate and learn from consumers makes it a truly differentiated offering”, said Mr Sanjot Malhi, director, Matrix India.

Presently, several start-ups in India are focusing on plant-based nutrition products for customers. Apart from OZiva, there is also Mumbai-based EVO Foods, which offers plant-based eggs, to cater to vegetarians.

Matrix Partners has also invested in other food and nutrition start-ups including, Nothing Else, a clean label food brand; Open Secret, an FandB brand focused on the healthy snack market; Delight, a direct-to-home, mass premium milk brand, Mosaic Wellness, a lifestyle and wellness consumer brand; aandMe, a FandB brand focused on women’s health and wellness.

Tehan tells concerned school leavers that uni fee shake-up is fair

“Source:-SMH ”
Education Minister Dan Tehan has told upcoming school leavers aggrieved about sudden fee hikes for their chosen university degrees that the new system will be fairer and still majority-funded by taxpayers who have mostly not benefited from a university education.

The fee overhaul, which has increased fees for some courses while dropping the cost of “job-relevant” degrees, will be in place from next year and has triggered concerns for school students who have picked year 11 and 12 subjects based on the degrees they have committed to.

Education Minister Dan Tehan has called on concerned students to consider that the new system is fairer. Alex Ellinghausen

Responding to the complaints, Mr Tehan said Australia was facing the greatest economic contraction since the Great Depression and the government wanted students to think about choosing university subjects that would boost their employment prospects.

“You will not pay one cent upfront – you have access to the best HELP loan scheme in the world. And we want to ensure that in choices you make getting a job is one of the key considerations,” he said.

“We want you to think about not just looking at your degree as a silo. Look at it as an opportunity to diversify across disciplines.”

Mr Tehan said the funding system would be fairer because the government was matching government and student contributions to universities with the actual cost of teaching courses.

Replay

Major overhaul of university fees

A university funding overhaul intends to encourage young Australians in to jobs of the future.

Announcement of the New Australian Greens Senator for Victoria

Victorian Deputy CHO gives COVID-19 update

“Students also need to understand that the cost of degree here in Australia is less than the cost of a degree in the UK and US,” he said.

“And also that 60 per cent of Australian taxpayers have never been to university and they still make a contribution which is greater than 50 per cent to higher education.”

Under the shake-up, the cost of humanities and communications courses will more than double, with a year of full-time study costing $14,500 from next year, up from $6804. Fees for law and commerce will increase 28 per cent to $14,500 a year, up from $11,155.

Teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English, languages, maths and agriculture courses will cost $3700 a year, down by 46 to 62 per cent. Fees for science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and engineering will drop 20 per cent, with a year of study costing $7700.

 

IoT spending to grow at 8.2 per cent in 2020 due to covid-19: IDC

“Source:- Livemint”

Global spending on Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to grow at a single digit figure of 8.2% y-o-y (year on year) in 2020, due to the coronavirus induced economic fall out, missing the previous growth forecast of 14.9% for the year, IDC (International Data Corporation) said in a report.

Despite the current setback, global IoT spending is expected to return to double-digit growth rates in 2021 mustering compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.3% between 2020 and 2024, the report adds.

The decline in spending can be attributed to the economic setback in consumer services industry which includes hotels, theme parks, casinos, and movie theatres. Spending in discrete manufacturing (growing at 4.3%), resource industries including oil and gas (growing at 5%), and transportation (5.7%) is also expected to shrink.

Strong investments in IoT in 2020 are expected to come from healthcare (14.5% growth), insurance (12.3%), and education (11.9%), the IDC report says.

Consumer driven smart home spending, which includes expenses on products like smart speakers, internet cameras, smart bulbs, smart locks, smart mesh WiFi routers will grow 14.4% y-o-y in 2020.

This is the second largest use case in terms of overall spend.

“Although the current pandemic forced many organizations to pause some innovative IoT deployments, IoT will be a key return to growth accelerator with selected use cases being safe bets for end users to focus on in order to reach a new level of automation, remote everywhere experience, and hyper-connectivity,” Andrea Siviero, associate research director, Customer Insights & Analysis, IDC said in a statement.

Further, the report states that covid-19 and it’s economic fall out will force companies to revise their technology roadmaps and this may widen the gap between the two types of IoT adopters – determined advanced users and those who were struggling to understand ROI and monetize their IoT initiatives.

Svetlana Khimina, senior research analyst with Customer Insights & Analysis, IDC, feels, this will force the second group to postpone their IoT investment in all likelihood. As a result, they will fall further behind, while others will leverage their IoT expertise focusing on the use cases that will help them secure a more advanced position in the next normal.

In terms of region specific spending, China, US, and Western Europe will account for roughly 75% of all IoT spending during the forecast period. China with 13.4% CAGR will have a slight lead over US (9%) and Europe (11.4%).

However, fastest IoT spending growth is expected in Middle East & Africa (19% CAGR), followed by Central and Eastern Europe (17.6%).

EXCLUSIVE: Hero Group Chairman Pawan Munjal invests in car servicing startup GoMechanic

“Source:- Business Insider”
Hero Group’s Chairman Pawan Munjal has invested an undisclosed amount into car servicing startup GoMechanic. Munjal’s investment is a part of the Series B round raised by GoMechanic where they have already raised $15 million from Chiratae Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Orios Venture Partners.

Munjal’s investment is in his personal capacity, similar to how he has invested in Ola Electric.

“We had been in talks with the investment team of Mr Munjal, and we couldn’t have asked for a better partner – an industry veteran with years of experience and standing in the market,” Amit Bhasin, co-founder of GoMechanic told Business Insider.

GoMechanic has 280 technology-enabled multi-brand network of car service centers and workshops across twelve cities in India. The four-year old startup has big plans for the year despite the pushback from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Currently we service anywhere close to 15,000 cars a month. We will be hitting those numbers by next month, right now we are at 80% of the pre covid numbers, By December, we aim to double these numbers,” said Bhasin.

During the lockdown, the founders only saw the need for such a service. They now plan to expand to more Tier 2 cities.

“Ours is a technology-first place which also gives us the opportunity to scale much faster. Tech ensures that the brand experience remains constant while we scale cities in a very cost effective manner,” said Kushal Karwa, cofounder of the company.

The startup has also redesigned its operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We have invested heavily in technology to reduce human interactions. Currently, most of our orders are being done with the pick up and drop model, while all the updates are available on the app,” said Bhasin.

But they are also aware of the future – electric vehicles. The startup has partnered with Revolt Bikes, which produces EV bikes, and is the default after sales workshop for them which includes – repair and services, swapping of batteries. They had also brought on board Suyash Kumar, who was the eMobility business lead for Ashok Leyland and is now leading the startup’s EV strategy and plan. “We have also partnered with companies to set up EV charging stations within our workshops,” said Karwa.

Indian economy to recover very fast: HDFC Bank’s Aditya Puri

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : HDFC Bank MD and CEO Aditya Puri has said Indian GDP will recover “very fast” and pointed out that it is essential to get the growth rate back to the pre-COVID levels. The largest lender in the private sector will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic “way way stronger” than it ever was, Puri said in an e-mail to the bank’s employees earlier this month.

It can be noted that the economy is widely expected to contract in FY21, with some analysts pegging the GDP to decline by 5 per cent. The entire first quarter has been a washout due to the continuing lockdowns with only essential services being allowed to operate.

Earlier on Thursday, worries over growth led global agency Fitch to revise down its outlook on the sovereign to “negative” while affirming the rating.

“The COVID crisis is a health crisis which killed supply and over a period of time demand as well. However, I am confident in the future of India and even brighter future of HDFC Bank. The GDP and the country will recover very fast,” Puri, the founder chief executive of the lender who has been at the helm for 25 years, said.

The key factor, Puri said, is for the economic growth rate to come back to the pre-COVID levels very quickly.

He said companies with a good strategy, technology, capital, liquidity and a motivated team will emerge as winners after the crisis.

“I am confident that we will emerge from COVID way way stronger in the market than we ever were,” he said.

The CEO also said the bank is one of the few companies which has maintained bonuses, increments and salary in these difficult times.

Puri, who is scheduled to retire in October, said the bank has an excess liquidity of USD 2 billion, a high capital adequacy of 17.5 per cent and trained manpower.

He further said the bank will complete a technology transformation by September which will make dealings with customers frictionless.

Former Google executive Sunil Rayan to head Disney Hotstar India

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: Star and Disney India has tapped senior Google executive, Sunil Rayan, to head its video streaming service, Disney+ Hotstar in India as its president.

In his latest role, Rayan served as managing director of Google Cloud for Games, at the internet giant’s headquarter at Mountain View, California in US.

In an internal memo to staff, Uday Shankar, chairman Disney & Star India and president, Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific, made the announcement.

“With over 20 years of experience, Sunil brings a rare mix of product engineering and commercial expertise. He has a stellar track record of scaling and growing complex businesses. Sunil is a truly global executive, bringing experiences from across the world – having scaled businesses in the US, setting up large teams in South East Asia, and working with super app players in Latin America,” Shankar wrote.

Ryan has spent the last 7.5 years at Google and has also headed its Mobile App ads business till July 2018, before moving to Google Cloud.

Presently based in California, he put in his papers in April and will be relocating to Mumbai.

The position of head of Disney+ Hotstar (formerly Hotstar) has been lying vacant since CEO Ajit Mohan quit in later 2018 to join Facebook  as India head.

Ryan will report to Shankar, who has been overseeing the digital service since December last year, when Sanjay Gupta, former managing director of Star and Disney India, quit to join Google India  as country manager.

“Five years ago, we set out to disrupt the way India consumed content and that mission has turned out to be totally revolutionary,” Shankar said. “Sunil is an exciting talent with global accomplishments and I am very excited to have him lead the talented Disney+ Hotstar team. At Disney+ Hotstar India, we are on a mission to create the country’s largest and most advanced platform for curated content, and Sunil is just the right person to drive that ambition.”

Rayan has also worked at McKinsey & Co., IBM, iGate Mastech and Infosys.

India-China face-off: No incursion, no loss of territory, says PM Modi

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI
 : There has been no intrusion into Indian territory in Ladakh and not a single Indian border post has been overrun, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an all-party meeting on Friday, amid an unequivocal condemnation by Indian democracy of Chinese aggression that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

“Neither anyone has intruded into our territory nor taken over any post. Our forces are doing what they have to do to protect the country, whether it is deployment, action or counter-action. Our patrolling capacity has increased due to newly built infrastructure, especially along LAC,” Modi said, referring to the line of actual control (LAC) between India and China.

At the three-hour-long meeting, Modi said that while India desired peace and friendship, “sovereignty is most important”.

“We have asked armed forces to take appropriate action and, simultaneously, we are reaching out to China through diplomatic channels to clearly state our views. Be it trade, counter terrorism, India has never come under pressure from outside,” he added.

Brahma Chellaney, a defence analyst with the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, said Chinese troops through their aggression have halted India’s patrolling.

“Does Modi’s statement signal India is willing to live with China’s forcible change of the status quo in the Galwan Valley and at Lake Pangong? By occupying unoccupied areas, China has put a halt to India’s patrolling of those areas and built positions overlooking Indian defences,” Chellaney asked.

Abhishek Singhvi, national spokesperson for the Congress, said that he feared Modi cleared China of any wrongdoing. “Genuinely worried at PM’s certificate that China has not crossed LAC! Hopefully not premature? Should not match China’s stand which says same thing! If such a serious skirmish with huge loss of Indian (and possibly Chinese) casualties, how can there be no transgression by China?” Singhvi said on Twitter late Friday night.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) parliamentarian Manoj Jha said: “I would like to believe PM Modi but I also want to know why were our soldiers martyred in such a barbaric manner? We stand with our forces and the government but we will continue to ask questions.”

Earlier in the all-party meeting, opposition parties, primarily the Congress, questioned the government’s handling of the issue, saying the all-party meeting should have been called earlier and that opposition parties should be regularly briefed by the government.

Among suggestions were continuation of construction work along the border, placing curbs on imports from China, and barring Chinese firms from entering strategic sectors.

The sharpest remarks came from Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She called for regular briefings for political parties, and said “valuable time” was lost between 5 May and 6 June when meetings of corps commanders took place.

“This meeting, in my view, should have come sooner and immediately after the government had been reportedly informed about the Chinese intrusion on May 5th, 2020 into several places in Ladakh and elsewhere. As always, the entire nation would have stood together like a rock and fully supported the government of the day in the steps required to defend the territorial integrity of the country. Alas, that was not to be,” Gandhi said in her opening remarks. “The entire country would like an assurance that status quo ante would be restored and China will revert back to the original position,” she added.

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee demanded that the Union government bar Chinese firms from entering sectors such as telecom, railway and aviation, even as she highlighted the need for India’s approach to be based on “democratic principles”.

 

Google to support Indian startups creating solutions for the new normal

“SourceL- Economic Times”
New Delhi: Google on Wednesday expanded its programme for startups to support startups working on the solutions to solve real-life challenges towards the new normal post COVID-19 landscape in India.

Google for Startups has opened applications for the new batch of Google for Startups Accelerator, with a special focus on health-tech, fin-tech, edu-tech, agri-tech, retail and SaaS startups, the company said in a statement.

The next batch will commence in August 2020 and the last date of applications is June 30. This will be the fourth class of startups mentored by Google, which has so far closely mentored over 60 startups in India to date.

“We have been working very closely with over 250 Startups founders over the last two months, holding consults with our network of experts, mentors and VCs to help solve for the immediate challenges faced by the founder community,” informed Paul Ravindranath G, Programme Manager, Google for Startups Accelerator India.

In addition to the fresh call for applications, Google for Startups also announced the launch of ‘Emerging stronger: Playbook’ for startups to face the Covid-19 Challenge.

“We have captured the work of these last two months into a handy playbook which we hope will benefit the larger ecosystem,” Ravindranath added.

Beyond the Accelerator, Google for Startups will continue to offer support to startups via its partner programme and mentor network.

Digital will get a lot of push in the days to come: J Ranjan

“Source:- Siasat”
Hyderabad: Digital technology will transform the landscape of  school education, health care delivery, commerce, marketing and many more areas in such a way that impacts every area of your business observed Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Government of Telangana.

Speaking while interacting with few select Design Professionals at JAMITI(Sacred Geometry), a Creative and Culture Entrepreneur’s Hub, on Tuesday here in the city at Manikonda, he said Digital will get a big push from everybody. We are living in two different worlds–real and virtual. So Digital will get a lot of prominence.

Besides that, due to COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown, children are going through online classes. Health Care professionals are remotely delivering healthcare services by way of digital consultancy, virtual medicine, Telemedicine, Tele consultancy, Diagnostic Services at the comfort of home etc. Digital technology is serving these new consumers like students and patients in rural and far-flung places.

These new consumers have not experienced any digital technologies before. So people will work on offering new user experience. And new tools will be introduced.

Due to COVID now, hospitals are not catering much to non-COVID patients. People are putting up with their minor elements. But, they can’t postpone their treatment for long. That is where Telemedicine, Tele and Virtual Consultancy will come into place, explained the top bureaucrat of the State.

Also, a lot of new and never heard technologies like contactless, touch-free, hands-free technologies are gaining a lot of prominences. All these need to provide seamless user experience better than normal.

Mr.Jayesh Ranjan said that the  space in the restaurant is shrunk. Sitting and chatting for a long time in restaurants may not be permitted in future. Restaurants will work on quick turnaround time in serving customers. So they may make Menu available to customers, even before they arrive and orders will be taken. The moment they walk in their food may be served. This we will experience soon because restaurants have to put to use their limited space to maximum extent. All these are new things which soon will become normal. So how do you create a user experience in these areas? That is where the design element comes he added

Adding further he said, Universities are known by the quality of faculty they provide. Now under new normal, Universities may not need fulltime faculty. In future,  the classes will be both physical as well as virtual. In such a case, the faculty may remain on the rolls of the college to be available on the demand. The same thing goes with manufacturing. So what we need for future are Design Thinking. Brand Building and a unique user experience he said.

Vishala Reddy Vuyyala, Founder & Director of IdentCity, the lady behind JAMITI outlined the salient features of JAMITI. It is a hub of culture and creative entrepreneurs(MSME) Initiative of IdentCity Creative Industries Pvt. Ltd. JAMITi offers virtual (self-serviced community) for the CCI(Creative and Cultural Industries) Entrepreneurs from 32 plus creative and culture fields where members can get access to each other, learn, collaborate and network. Besides virtual, it also offers Physical Design Hubs to interact with their potential customers from diverse industries, she said

Speaking further she added that it is something similar to WHAT T-Hub for Startups, T-Works for Hardware Makers and WE Hub for Women Entrepreneurs.

The creative & cultural economy has become a powerful, transformative force in the world today. She added. Its potential for development is vast and waiting to be unlocked. It is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy, not just in terms of income generation but also for job creation and export earnings. However, there are hardly any ecosystem,  networking platforms in India, she added.

The creative industries have become increasingly important to economic well-being, and the “human creativity is the ultimate economic resource

Jayesh Ranjan had a walk through the studio.  He also unveiled the logo and website of the JAMITI Community

Tata group’s IHCL to foray into home delivery of food and beverages

“Source:- IBEF”
Tata group’s Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) is planning to venture into home delivery of food and beverages segment.

“We have had a really nice response to our Hospitality@Home service, where customers can order our products for take away from our hotels across the country.

“Very shortly, we will also be announcing our plans to begin delivering our products to customers. All of this is aimed at helping take our hospitality to our customers’ homes,” said IHCL Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mr Puneet Chhatwal.

The company has also been working on programs like ‘Dream, Drive, Discover, Delight’ where one can book its standalone villas and bungalows while also observing social distancing, he said.

“We will also have technology detox offers because guests have been in their homes for a long time and have been on their phones or watching television a lot more than usual.

“We will be offering many Ayurvedic treatments as part of this offer. And we have many other offers that we are working on,” he added.

The Tata group’s hospitality arm posted an over 24 per cent jump in net profit for the year ended March at Rs 363.74 crore (US$ 51.60 million), as compared to Rs 296.12 crore (US$ 42.01 million) in the previous fiscal.

Mr Chhatwal said, “In terms of the Aspiration 2022 targets on property numbers, you have to know that we are already way ahead of reaching these targets by 2022.”

“We had a target of opening 15 hotels per year for Aspiration 2022, but we have already opened over 50 hotels in the last two years, and our portfolio is now at 200 hotels,” he added.

The company had set a target of 27,000 rooms for 2022, and has already surpassed 25,000 rooms, he said, adding that the remaining 2,000 would been easily achieved in the next two years.

“We have to now look at 2020 as a year of correction and for this we have the R.E.S.E.T 2020 strategy. After R.E.S.E.T is rolled out in the next few months, we will come back with new targets, all of which will be higher than those set for Aspiration 2022. We are very confident that we will meet these higher targets as well,” he said.

R.E.S.E.T (Revenue Growth, Excellence in Guest Wellbeing, Spend Optimsation, Effective Asset Management and Thrift and Financial Prudence) is a five-point agenda to handle the challenges caused by the unprecedented global crisis and aid the company navigate through these difficult times.

For Now, Mr Chhatwal added that he feels the industry has already begun moving towards recovery, with hotels reopening in multiple states as they come out of the lockdown.

“By September-October, we will see domestic travel begin and we believe that in 12 to 18 months, business should come back to pre-COVID-19 levels. In the long-term, we remain very confident about the outlook for the industry,” he added.

Tractor makers explore rental route as agricultural economy grows

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI: Tractor makers Mahindra, Tractors and Farm Equipment (Tafe) and Sonalika that have been struggling with customised hiring schemes are looking to cash in on rising demand as the migrant workforce scramble back to their homes in other states.

So far, 65-70% of the districts remain Covid-19 free, fuelling belief that agricultural activities will see an uptick.

“As the agri economy grows, ownership of tractors in the rental segment will get stronger. It is making entrepreneurs of small and marginal farmers through this model while increasing farmer productivity”, says Hemant Sikka, president of Mahindra’s tractor division. Sikka added that the migrants would have less cash in hand to own a tractor and renting it will increase productivity immediately.

Incidentally, Mahindra’s tractor rental project, Trringo, more an experimental model to bring entrepreneurs on one platform, has not done as well as expected.

Tractors are usually bought directly from dealers with the farmer paying 25-30% of the price upfront and the rest financed by specialised rural banks and NBFCs. The average price of a tractor is ₹6-7 lakh. A farmer shells out around ₹2 lakh as down payment. The final quantum of financing and repayment depends on the relationship between the dealer and the farmer.

Loans taken by the farming community primarily from micro finance companies are for tractor and pick-up vehicles, says Paul Thomas, managing director of ESAF, a small finance bank in Kerala that funds tractor hiring.

“What is important is that the harvest has been good for wheat, sugarcane, pulses and the government will buy and warehouse these products. Demand for tractor hiring has since opened up and we are getting close to 20 financing requests daily,” said Thomas.

With the country seeing a good rabi crop and a bumper harvest in the offing, workers see a future for themselves in the agriculture space. Some industry experts think labourers will stay back even for sowing and not come back till November.

“We need to support farmers to increase farm productivity while ensuring reduced operational cost and affordable agri machinery,” said Raman Mittal, executive director, Sonalika Group. These centres, besides renting out high end agri machinery to needy farmers, would also act as ‘agri machinery clinics’ for repairs of implements, adds Mittal.

Manufacturers are looking at multiple models to rent out tractors with TAFE launching a free tractor rental service in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. “The scheme received a good response from farmers and in 60 days, over a lakh acres have been cultivated and rental service has been provided in this crucial cropping season” said TR Kesavan, president, TAFE, who is also the president of tractor association, TMA.

Massey Ferguson last week announced a scheme of owning a tractor on an initial payment of only Rs 5,000.

TAFE manufactures a range of tractors with brands like Massey Ferguson, TAFE Eicher, and the recently acquired Serbian tractor and agricultural equipment brand – Industrija Mašina i Traktora.

The domestic tractor sector has managed to enter positive territory at a much faster pace due to timely relaxation of the lockdown for the agricultural sector. Experts expect the second half to be better for the tractor industry, projecting a surge in demand post the rabi season and a normal monsoon. A significant growth in demand for food grains will drive the farm equipment rental market for the tractor companies.

 

Agri sector may not be hit by lockdown; likely to grow 2.5% in FY21: Crisil

“Source:- Business Standard”

Even as coronavirus pandemic has impacted many sectors, the agriculture could be the only bright spot as real agriculture is likely to witness a 2.5 per cent growth in 2020-21, according to a report.

The report by Crisil Research however listed risks such as any likely impact of locust attacks and impact of lockdown on horticulture produce.

With the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, demand for horticultural produce is likely to be impacted more than that of food grains.

Food grains have the government’s minimum support price (MSP) and procurement support, the report explained.

The government has announced MSP hike for 14 kharif crops, assuring farmers 50-83 per cent returns on their cost of production, it added.

However, horticulture produce is highly perishable in nature and its wholesale prices collapsed in April despite a sharp reduction in their mandi arrivals.

Also a number of standing crops, horticulture produce, which was not harvested because of problems in selling, witnessed locust attacks, the report said.

Similarly, demand for flowers has collapsed as religious places are shut down and marriage ceremonies are kept in abeyance or muted, it added.

Livestock, milk is the largest contributor to this sector with a two-thirds share, followed by meat and a very small share of eggs.

Fortunately, milk consumption from the household segment has remained largely stable despite the lockdown.

Demand from the hotels and restaurants segments, which contributes 15-20 per cent to total milk consumption, has collapsed but is expected to pick up gradually once the lockdown is lifted.

Going forward, the report opined that growth in agriculture and allied activities this fiscal hinges on a bumper food grains production coupled with a normal monsoon.

Horticulture might have to bear some burns because of perishability, it said.

Milk, which comprises the biggest chunk of livestock, is expected to do well and on the other hand, meat, eggs, fishing and aquaculture are likely to face a prolonged impact, as there is a tendency to reduce consumption of non vegetarian food during the pandemic.

A fall in exports in these commodities too is expected to hem in demand, but with the contribution of these items in the agriculture and allied activities sector being relatively lower, the overall agricultural growth may stay resilient, it added.

Aatma Nirbhar Bharat: Govt mulls hike on edible oil import tax to boost local supply

“Source:- Business Today ”
India is considering raising import taxes on edible oils as the country seeks to become self-reliant by boosting local oilseed production with the help of tax revenues, two government and two industry officials told Reuters. The tax hike could curb the world’s biggest vegetable oils importer’s purchases and weigh on Malaysian palm oil FCPOc3, along with soy and sunflower oil prices, while propping up local prices of oilseeds such as rapeseed, soybean and groundnut.

“We’re considering a proposal to increase some tax on edible oil. If we do decide to the funds would be used to increase the production in the country,” a government official, who did not wish to be identified, said. Another government official and an industry source said the tax could be raised by 5%, but that a decision had not yet been taken.

India currently levies 37.5% and 45% import tax respectively on crude and refined palm oil. Imports of crude soybean oil, crude sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil attract 35% import duty. The trade ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

India spends around $10 billion every year on edible oil imports as the country’s reliance on overseas purchases have jumped to 70% from 44% in 2001/02. The latest move is a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push toward reducing India’s dependence on imports and raising cash to support local production.

The government sought industry’s views on how to curb edible oil imports, said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA). “We have suggested various measures to increase oilseed production,” said Mehta, adding the trade body had recommended raising import taxes and using that money to popularize oilseed plantation in fertile north India, where farmers prefer mainly rice and wheat.

America’s DFC to invest $350 million in India

“Source:- Economic Times ”
Kolkata: The US International  Development Finance  Corporation (DFC) is looking to invest $350 million in India to support multiple projects in the country’s financial services sector, health infrastructure , renewable energy and food security space.

DFC, known as America’s development bank, has approved loans worth $142 million for ReNew Power and $50 million for Sitara Solar Energy to build and operate solar power plants in Rajasthan, $50 million for Northern Arc Capital to scale up lending to businesses that expand access to water, sanitation, and food or advance women’s economic empowerment, besides committing to invest in several other projects.

These are part of DFC’s $1 billion commitment approved by its board to firms enaged in developmental works across in Africa, Latin America and other emerging markets. The investments mark one of the largest tranches approved during a board meeting, DFC said.

“The projects have a particular focus on development impact, with nearly 60 per cent of investments in low- and lower middle-income countries,” DFC said in a statement from Washington, adding that the investments are aimed at supporting financial services for women, small businesses, and other underserved groups at a time when capital is in desperate need.

“These projects will uplift some of the most underserved communities around the world,” DFC chief executive officer Adam Boehler was quoted as saying a statement. “The impact of these projects will be particularly meaningful as the world continues to fight the health and economic fallout of the pandemic.”

Northern Arc chief executive Kshama Fernendes expects to receive the funding in the second quarter. “It’s a long term facility and hence very valuable. Fernendes said, adding that interest rate is “very attractive”.

The funding agency has committed up to $20 million to buy equities in delivery app Freshtohome, which envisaged a project to support over 1,500 farmers and fishermen throughout the country; and up to $30 million investment in South Asia Growth Fund II to support businesses in the energy, water, and food sectors. It has also lined up a $27.3 million loan for Paryapt Solar Energy to build and operate a 50-megawatt solar power plant in Gujarat. It has offered $14.6 million loan guarantee to World Business Capital  to enable it to support the expansion of Avanse Financial Services’ student loan program.

DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world.

No better time to bet on India than now, says billionaire Gautam Adani

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: The recent slump in economic growth notwithstanding, India will be one of the world’s top consumption centres and a manufacturing and services hub for the next several decades, billionaire Gautam Adani has said, stressing there is no better time to bet on India than now.

India’s economic growth slipped to 4.2 per cent in 2019-20 fiscal (April 2019 to March 2020)- its slowest pace in more than a decade. International rating agencies as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have forecast a contraction in GDP in the financial year that began in April 2020 on account of the coronavirus-induced slowdown.

“What we must realize is that there are no absolute right or wrong ideas. What is required during an unprecedented, hard to model, crisis like COVID-19, is a Government that is willing to make decisions based on best available information at a given point of time and constantly adapting as new information becomes available,” Adani said in the latest annual report of Adani Gas Ltd.

Countries with greater resources have struggled while India has done well in containing the fallout of COVID-19, he said.

“While our battle with the virus is far from over, I have no hesitation in stating that had the decisions that got made been delayed we could have been facing an unmitigated disaster that would not just impact India but have global ramifications,” he said.

Adani, who heads the country’s biggest infrastructure conglomerate spanning ports to power, said “business has suffered immensely, lives and jobs have been lost, and the migrant worker crisis saddened the entire nation, but the consequences of the unknown alternates would be far grimmer.”

“What the leaders of our nation, the doctors, the healthcare workers, the police, the army, the small street side vendors, and the citizens have done to support each other is truly what defines India and its resiliency,” he said. “Sitting where we are today, I can say that history is in process of being scripted.”

Stating that the short or mid-term possible economic outcomes as a result of COVID-19 are hard to predict, Adani said there cannot be any denying the fact that India over the next several decades will be a market continuously on the up and one that simply cannot be ignored.

“It will be one of the world’s top consumption centers, manufacturing and service hubs and a beacon of stable democratic governance,” he said. “If there was a time to make a bet on India, there may not be a better time than now.”

Adani, who is the chairman of Adani Gas Ltd, said on the other side of this crisis will emerge massive new opportunities, terrific businesses and a few stronger nations.

“Those that succeed will be the ones that understand that resilience is built on the other side of the tunnel of crisis and we are already getting ready for this,” he said.

Adani Group’s six publicly traded companies have each performed well.

“While we may have to do need-based course correction in our strategies in the wake of the challenge that we are facing, the roadmap remains clear,” he said, adding the group’s businesses are closely aligned to the lifeline of the economy, providing essential services and addressing critical national infrastructure priorities.

“Any shock to a system always helps drive home some key points and what the Indian businesses have learnt over the past few years and most certainly post COVID-19 is the value of an optimal and perhaps for some sectors a conservative capital structure as well as the criticality to have systematic risk mitigation plans in place,” he noted.

Adani Group, he added, is focussing on optimising capital utilisation, redesigning the organisational structure to minimise risk in businesses and funding operations in phases.

“I am happy to share that during the year (2019-20), the Group has been able to bring strategic global equity partners in Adani Gas, Adani Green Energy Ltd and Adani Mumbai Electricity Ltd,” he said, adding the total investment of USD 1.6 billion by the partners will help drive future growth.

 

Boost to e-commerce may drive demand for commercial vehicles: Siam president

“Source:- Livemint”

E-commerce will get a huge boost in the post-covid-19 scenario and that may drive demand for commercial vehicles, Rajan Wadhera, president, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) said.

He was talking on Mint’s Pivot or Perish webinar, which explores how the covid-19 pandemic disrupts the conventional ways of doing business.

Wadhera was citing a few changes anticipated by the automotive industry as it gradually resumes operations and seek stimulus from the government to revive demand.

Calling two- and three-wheelers and commercial vehicles as the objects of mobility, Wadhera said that these segments are likely see revolutionary changes.

“E-commerce will come up in a big way and that may result into increased demand for CVs,” he said.

The Siam president also added that auto industry may see changes in several facets of the trade including retail practices, dealing with labour and manpower among others.

“Industries may move into clusters into the rural areas because migrant labour may not return. So the industries may go where the labour is easily available,” added Wadhera.

Expressing his concerns on demand revival, Wadhera said that the supply side of the value chain is not the problem but the demand side is. “We will be able to restart 50-70% of our production. That’s not the problem. The demand side is a huge challenge. We need demand stimulus so that volumes can come back. That’s the biggest challenge the industry is going to face,” he added.

According to the Siam data, FY2019-20 reported 18% decline year-on-year for the passenger vehicle and the two-wheeler segments. The commercial vehicle segment dropped 29% YoY.

“With 45 days of shutdown already and the uncertainty going forward, we have two scenarios of GDP growth rate for FY2021. If India’s GDP grows 2-3% in FY21, then the auto industry volumes decline 18-24%. If the GDP remains flat or posts negative growth, the auto industry volumes will drop at least 35-40%,” he remarked.

“This means we will have two very bad back-to-back years and in such circumstances we will be doing volumes of what we used to do a decade by 2010-2011,” he said adding that the production units are expected to see only 50% capacity utilization this year.

MG Motor India, Tata Power join hands to deploy superfast chargers for EVs at select locations

“Source:- Economic Times”
NEW DELHI: MG Motor India  on Monday said it has joined hands with Tata Power to set up superfast chargers for electric vehicles (EV) at select MG dealerships and offer end-to-end charging solutions. As part of the association, Tata Power will deploy 50KW DC superfast chargers at select MG dealerships besides offering end-to-end electric vehicle charging solutions, the company said in a statement.

Through this association, MG Motor aims to lay a specific focus on the key target cities they will be foraying into as a part of their future EV expansion plans.

“These superfast 50KW DC chargers will be accessible by both MG ZS EV customers as well as other EV owners whose automobiles are compatible with the CCS/CHAdeMO charging standards,” it said.

Combined Charging System (CCS) and CHAdeMO are two different EV charging standards used globally.

MG Motor India President and Managing Director Rajeev Chaba said, “Further strengthening our commitment to India, we aim to provide our customers with a robust charging ecosystem to promote the adoption of cleaner and greener mobility solutions”.

Tata Power Company Ltd CEO and Managing Director Praveer Sinha said through the partnership the company will associate with MG Motor India as an end-to-end EV charging partner as also work on second life of battery usage in future.

“As India’s leading integrated player in the EV charging space, we aim to provide customers a seamless charging experience. We are confident that this partnership with MG Motor will further boost our country’s ability to adopt the electrified range of vehicles that MG Motor has to offer,” he added.

MG Motor India said it already has 10 SuperFast 50 kW charging stations across its dealerships in five cities – New Delhi- NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Hyderabad – and is expanding them to more cities.

On the other hand, Tata Power has established an elaborate EV Charging ecosystem with over 180 charging points in 19 different cities under EZ Charge brand along with digital platform to facilitate easy and smooth customer experience.

“The MG-Tata Power partnership will involve core values and operating model in line with their existing customer-centric approach including exploring the possibility of 2nd life management of EV batteries,” the statement said.

 

WeWork India gets USD 100 million from parent company to build flexible workspace model

“Source:- New Indian Express”
NEW DELHI: WeWork India on Friday said that it has received USD 100 million (roughly Rs 750 crore) funding from the parent company, WeWork for sustainable growth and focus on India as a strategic market. The co-working major said that COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for adoption of flexible workspaces for cost reduction purposes.

WeWork said that in line with the future workspaces model, the company will undergo a transformation over the next 36 months and India is a huge market for the American startup.

WeWork India is already profitable and plays an important role in the global scheme of business for WeWork. The WeWork India business will be focussing on showcasing their strengths through their extensive network of partners and vendors in the market, the co-working firm said in a statement.

“The flexible workspace industry in India and around the world is facing its biggest challenge yet. In that, we see a new opportunity that suits our members’ evolving needs. This is driven by an acceleration towards variable real estate costs, the confidence of safe and well-managed workspaces for their employees, and the growth opportunities that are intrinsic to the WeWork community. The fresh round of capital from our long-term partners at WeWork global represents a vote of confidence in our strategy and will help us serve our community better,” said Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India.

In India, WeWork has tied up with real estate giant, Embassy Group which holds 100 per cent rights over WeWork India and now has 60,000 desks in 34 locations, across 6 cities where businesses of all sizes can choose from a range of unique product offerings.

“WeWork is excited to be providing financial assistance to transform the workspace environment in India. WeWork India’s financial performance has shown consistent growth, and with the fundamentals in place at a building level backed by the expertise of the Embassy Group, we believe the WeWork India business has the ability to be our growth vehicle and provide our members with an exceptional experience,” said Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of WeWork.

Anand Mahindra invests US$ 1 million in social media startup Hapramp

“Source:- IBEF”
Mr Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group has invested US$ 1 million in Hapramp, a blockchain-based social media start-up.

Hapramp is a Gurugram-based start-up and plans to use the seed funding to work on big social media challenges such as user privacy, data security, and fair content monetization as part of its product offering.

“Took two years, but I finally found the start-up I was looking for! @Hapramp is indigenous, built by 5 young founders & brings together a best-in-class combination of creativity, technology & data protection,” Mahindra tweeted today.

Anand Mahindra had announced in 2018 on Twitter that he was looking to back an Indian social media start-up that meets certain criteria.

Hapramp was founded in 2018 by a team of five Computer Science graduates and offers solutions that enable people to take control of their data and earn a fair fraction from its monetary value. The start-up has been incubated through its early days by Huddle, a leading sector-agnostic incubator.

“We are extremely excited and proud to be the next-gen Indian social network startup backed by Mr Anand Mahindra. This is a massive approval of our mission to give creators the right to their content. The fact that this comes from him, someone whom we admire and who has always supported creators, gives us confidence,” said Mr Shubhendra Vikram, CEO and co-founder of Hapramp.

Hapramp sees itself as an idea lab working on the ideas that emerge from the confluence of the creative industry and information economy.

The start-up is also working on 1Ramp.io, a rewarding social media platform powered by Steem Blockchain; and Asteria Protocol, a new standard for platforms to privately and securely treat public data, besides its flagship social networking solution GoSocial. Hapramp expects to take them to market in the coming year.

Google Pay’s Nearby Stores is now available in 35 Indian cities

“Source:- IBEF”
Google Pay’s dedicated section, Nearby Stores, which allows customers to locate grocery stores in the neighbourhood is now available in 35 Indian cities. The platform added Nearby Stores in April but was available in a few major cities.

Those merchants that are listed on Nearby Stores can indicate their business hours, what measures are being taken to maintain social distancing inside the store and which essential goods are in stock. The platform will also display whether a store is in the containment zone or not, specially for cities like Mumbai where the lockdown is still applicable in many areas.

The app also allows Pay users across India to book their cooking gas cylinders from HP Gas, Bharat Petroleum or Indane.

The 35 cities where Nearby Stores is now applicable include Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Lucknow, Vishakapatnam, Kolkatta, Patna, Indore and Bhuwaneshwar.

The online platforms saw increase in listing of grocery stores as lockdown started and to make use of it, several payment platforms turned into grocery aggregators, showing nearby stores to their customers. In mid-April, PhonePe launched a similar feature called Stores with 10 million merchant partners across India. PayNearby also expanded its hyperlocal discover feature ByNearby to over 2 lakh grocery stores across India. The company has also tied up with IndusInd Bank to enable contactless payments at the stores.

Google Pay also added a dedicated window for Coronavirus which provides latest, official safety guidelines from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and lists names and links of charities that are taking donations to support relief work.

HIL (INDIA) geared to provide locust control Pesticide to Iran

“Source:- IBEF”
Despite logistics and other challenges posed by COVID 19 lockdown Hindustan Insecticides Limited (HIL (India)) a PSU under Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers ensured timely production and supply of pesticides for farming community.

HIL is now in process of production and supply of 25 MT Malathion Technical for supply to locust control programme to Iran under Government to Government arrangement. Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has approached HIL for manufacturing and supply of said commodity to Iran.

Credit rating of Central PSU upgraded to BBB- from BB, which is a stable investment grade.

The Company has exported 10 MT of fungicide – Mancozeb to Latin American country, Peru and another 12 MT will be exported in next one week.

HIL has also signed an agreement with Ministry of Agriculture and Famers Welfare for the supply of Malathion Technical to Rajasthan and Gujarat for Locust Control Programme. HIL had manufactured and supplied 67 MT of Malathion Technical till last week

HIL supplied to malathion Technical to municipal corporations for dengue and chikungunya control programme.

Supply of 314 MT of DDT 50 per cent wdp to various states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh etc was executed as per the supply order placed by ministry of family welfares, NVBDCP programmes. The company is in process of supplying balance quantity of 252 MT to other state.

During the lockdown period till 15th May 2020, HIL produced 120 MT of Malathion Technical, 120.40 MT of DDT Technical , 288 MT of DDT 50 per cent, 21 MT of HILGOLD (Water Soluble Fertilizer), 12 MT of Mancozeb Fungicide for exports and 35 MT of different agrochemical formulations so that farming community and health department may not feel the heat of lockdown.

PM Modi launches technology platform ‘champions.gov.in’ for MSMEs

“Source:- Times Now News”
New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the technology platform ‘Champions’ which stands for Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength to empower MSMEs.

According to a PIB release outlining the platform’s objectives, this portal “is a one-stop place for the MSME sector. The focus areas are support & hand-holding, grievance redressal, harnessing entrepreneurial talent, and discovering new business opportunities.”

Some of the major objectives of this portal are to help the MSMEs in this difficult situation in terms of finance, raw materials, labour, permissions, etc. And, also help the MSMEs capture new opportunities including manufacturing of medical items & accessories.

The platform also aims to identify the sparks, i.e., the bright MSMEs who can withstand at present and become national and international champions.

In a statement, the government said that “It is a technology-packed control room-cum-management information system. In addition to ICT tools including telephone, internet, and video conference, the system is enabled by Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, and Machine Learning. It is also fully integrated on a real-time basis with GOI’s main grievances portal CPGRAMS and MSME Ministry’s own other web-based mechanisms. The entire ICT architecture is created in house with the help of NIC at no cost. Similarly, the physical infrastructure is created in one of the ministry’s dumping rooms in record time.”

Bajaj Auto to enter Thailand with premium motorcycle brands

“Source:- IBEF”
Bajaj Auto Ltd plans to enter Thailand with its premium motorcycle brands, including KTM, Husqvarna, Dominar and Pulsar NS series, by July 2020, said a senior company executive.

“Asean in an important geography for us wherein, apart from Philippines, we are not really present in the other countries. We are now focusing on Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mayanmar, Cambodia, Laos and others,” Mr Rakesh Sharma, executive director at Bajaj Auto said.

“We plan to enter that market (Thailand) by July combining our forces with KTM. We are delayed due to the pandemic as earlier the plan was to enter that market in April,” added Mr Sharma.

The company intends to enter the sports category with premium brands such as Dominar and the Pulsar NS range leading the charge, he added.

A new distributor for Thailand has been appointed by Bajaj Auto who will be responsible for setting up the local network and build the business for KTM as well as other brands.

“We have also identified some dealers and dealer appointment and setting up of the network is underway,” said the senior company executive.

The company targets to strengthen its presence in the region, which is largely dominated by the Japanese automakers.

Bajaj Auto has local subsidiary PT. Bajaj Auto Indonesia in the country for local presence, which overlooks operations of the local distributor appointed for retail and distribution of KTM bikes.

“We are front-ending KTM and Husqvarna brands in Indonesia and will venture with premium Bajaj brands in a year from now,” Mr Sharma said.

The company also has a strong presence in Philippines where it is present along with its partner Kawasaki. He added that Bajaj Auto entered Malaysia 18-20 months ago with the Pulsar series, which is doing well.

“On the three-wheeler business, we have created the market in Philippines, Cambodia and Mayanmar,” Mr Sharma said.

Mr Aditya Jhawar, auto analyst at Investec Capital Services (India) Pvt Ltd said, some of the African countries are facing stress, which are key export markets for Bajaj Auto, and the risk of currency devaluation, the company is aiming on ramping up its presence in the other important regions.

“Asean countries are horizon-one markets for Bajaj Auto, which means they are being looked at with urgency,” Mr Jhawar said.

The company’s domestic sales in FY20 was supported by a 10 per cent growth in motorcycle exports. Though, Bajaj Auto reported 8 per cent y-o-y decline in its consolidated revenues for the March quarter at Rs 6,816 crore (US$ 966.95 million). There was also a drop of 4 per cent y-o-y at Rs 1,354 crore (US$ 192.08 million) in consolidated net profit for the period.

For FY20, Bajaj Auto reported 6 per cent growth in its consolidated net profit at Rs 5,212 crore (US$ 739.40 million) despite a decline of 1.44 per cent in its revenue from operations, which stood at Rs 29,919 crore (US$ 4.24 billion).

The company exported 47 per cent of motorcycles and 45 per cent of three-wheelers produced in FY20.

PepsiCo ties up with Dunzo to enable last-mile delivery of its food brands

“Source:- Livemint”

New Delhi: Food and beverages major PepsiCo India on Tuesday said it has tied up with on-demand delivery service platform Dunzo to deliver its products from four food brands at consumers’ doorsteps.

The initiative has been launched as a pilot in Bengaluru to deliver PepsiCo’s products from food brands Lay’s, Kurkure, Doritos and Quaker.

The company is planning to expand the service to Mumbai, Gurugram, Delhi, and Jaipur, a joint statement said.

As part of the initiative, Dunzo would host Lay’s e-store on its app and would deliver products within an hour of ordering.

“The tie-up with Dunzo will further strengthen our ‘Direct-to-Customer’ initiative and provide our products at the customers’ doorstep,” PepsiCo India Senior Director, Marketing Dilen Gandhi said.

Dunzo CEO & Co-Founder Kabeer Biswas said:“Partnership with PepsiCo India will give users access to the products they love while maintaining the highest quality of safety standards in the packaging as well as the delivery of these essential products.”

During lockdown, several FMCG companies have partnered with app-based delivery platforms to send their essential products at the doorsteps of the consumers.

Gemopai Miso will be India’s first ‘social distancing’ scooter

“Source:- Timnes Now News”
Electric scooter manufacturer Gemopai recently announced that it will soon launch a new e-scooter in India. Christened Miso, this upcoming fully electric scooter can be expected to hit the market next month or by July 2020. While announcing the product, the company also released a teaser hinting at Miso’s silhouette. As seen by this teaser, Gemopai Miso looks like a slow-sped scooter with a single saddle. This electric scooter also gets a utility carrier which, we believe, will be offered as an option. The EV maker also noted that Miso will be India’s first ‘social distancing’ mini scooter, which leads us to believe that it will be suitable intra-city commutation.

The details concerning Gemopai Miso are scarce but the teaser reveals that it will have a very functional design with almost no body panels. It will come with a single saddle, wide handlebars, and alloy wheels. It is expected to get a fully digital instrument panel and offer connectivity features via a dedicated app, which will offer provide the rider with information like battery range, nearest charging station, vehicle status, charging status, etc.

Gemopai Miso will most likely make use of a lithium-ion battery that will offer a riding range of around 60 to 65 km on a single charge. And as for the top-speed, it will be a slow-sped product since it is a mini scooter and we expect a top speed of around 25 km/h to 35 km/h.

In the post-COVID-19 scenario, we expect a lot of people to opt for personal mobility as compared to shared mobility and public transports. A majority of such people are likely to gravitate towards two-wheelers (because of affordability), especially electric two-wheelers, which have a very low running cost. In line with this, products like Gemopai Miso and other entry-level EVs can be more in demand than ever.

Ola Electric acquires Etergo BV, a Netherlands-based electric scooter OEM

“Source:- IBEF”
Ola Electric Mobility Pvt Ltd, the electric vehicle arm of Ola, has acquired Amsterdam-based Etergo BV, manufacturer of electric scooters.

This marks the entry of Ola Electric in the premium electric two-wheeler market. The company plans to manufacture these scooters.

Etergo was founded in 2014 and has developed an all-electric state-of-the-art ‘AppScooter’, first launched in 2018. The AppScooter utilises swappable high energy density batteries to deliver a range up to 240 km.

Though, this concept is still in early stage and Ola plans to introduce these electric scooters on Indian roads by the start of 2021, with manufacturing units set up in the country.

“The future of mobility is electric, and the post COVID world presents an opportunity for us to accelerate the adoption of electric mobility globally. Every year, almost twice the number of two-wheelers is sold across the world compared to cars. With electric, digitally connected capabilities, two-wheelers will further emerge as the most preferred urban mobility paradigm around the world and empower every consumer,” said Mr Bhavish Aggarwal, founder and chairman, Ola Electric.

Mr Aggarwal confirmed that Ola will build engineering, design, and manufacturing capabilities for these products in India.

“We are looking forward to joining Ola Electric and together, reimagining electric mobility to transform the way the world moves!” said Mr Bart Jacobsz Rosier, co-founder and chief executive, Etergo BV.

With this acquisition, Ola Electric’s engineering and design capabilities will be enhanced, considering Etergo team’s vehicle development experience with automotive companies including Tesla, General Motors, Ferrari, Jaguar, and BMW.

Etergo’s team will continue to be based out of Amsterdam as they join Ola Electric.

Ola Electric has been planning to set up extensive charging and swapping networks around the country over the past year and is currently running various pilots to deploy electric vehicles and charging solutions across cities with a focus on two- and three-wheelers space.

According to the company, it claims to be working with power distribution companies for developing a beneficial EV ecosystem through the establishment of battery swapping and charging stations in the national capital.

In July 2019, Ola Electric became one of the fastest unicorns of the Indian start-up ecosystem after it raised over US$ 250 million from SoftBank, pegging the valuation of the entity to a little more than US$ 1 billion.

Apart from Softbank, Ola Electric is backed by the likes of Tata Sons chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, Tiger Global, and Matrix India.

India overtakes Japan with fifth-largest hydropower capacity in the world

“Source:-  Energy Infra Post”
India has overtaken Japan becoming the nation with the fifth-largest hydropower production capacity in the world with its total installed base now standing at over 50 Gigawatt (GW), behind Canada, US, Brazil and China, according to International Hydropower Association (IHA).

The London-based global hydropower trade body has just published the 2020 Hydropower Status Report and Covid-19 Policy Paper. According to data put out in the report, global hydropower installed capacity reached 1,308 GW in 2019, as 50 countries completed greenfield and upgrade projects, including pumped storage.

A total of 15.6 GW in installed capacity was added in 2019, down from 21.8 GW in 2018. This represents a rise of 1.2 per cent, which is below the estimated 2.0 per cent growth rate required for the world to meet Paris Agreement carbon reduction targets. The countries with the highest increases in were Brazil (4.92 GW), China (4.17 GW) and Laos (1.89 GW).

IHA also said hydropower’s flexibility services have been in high demand during the Covid-19 crisis, while plant operations have been less affected due to the degree of automation in modern facilities.

MG Motor to increase investment in EVs from 2022

“Source:- Livemint”
NEW DELHI: MG Motors India Pvt Ltd, one of the new entrants in the domestic market, plans to increase its investment in the electric vehicle space in India from 2022.

The company expects economy to return to normalcy in a couple of years and feels such zero emission vehicles will get a significant traction in the domestic market in the medium to long term, a senior executive at the automaker said.

MG Motor will launch an affordable electric vehicle in the range of 12-15 lakh which will qualify for the subsidy under the Indian government’s FAME or Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles scheme. The company will also launch a new variant of ZS electric vehicle that will come with a 500-kilometre range.

It also plans to increase its localization of components of electric vehicles and start assembling lithium-ion batteries and other critical components in India.

Rajeev Chaba, president, MG Motor India said, “This is our mid-term to long term plan. We want to double our bets on electric vehicles in the medium to long term and want to be the leader (in the EV space). That’s why we will come with a battery with 500 kilometres range to show our intent.”

China’s SAIC Corp-owned company will also launch its electric sport utility vehicle, ZS, in five new tier-one cities from June. Initially, the company had focused only on metro cities. The company launched the ZS electric vehicle in January this year, as its second product in the Indian market after Hector, a mid-size sport utility vehicle.

These plans are being firmed up despite a border standoff between India and China and restrictions imposed by India on Chinese investments.

“Government basically has changed the procedure, and has not said no (to any investments), to which one has to apply and the application has to go through that process and may be it takes another two weeks time for approval. This is what the government has even clarified to us,” Chaba said.

The Indian automobile industry is expected to see a significant decline in sales during the current year due to covid-19 induced economic downturn and as most manufacturers are expected to delay their planned investments in different segments, including electric vehicles.

“Even in 2021 everyone is talking about 8% GDP growth because the base will go down in 2020. So, 2022 will be a good year and all these plans are lined up for then. The battery assembly will happen in our plant but whether it will be done by us or a vendor that has not been decided,” added Chaba.

 

Make in India gets a big boost; MoD places indent for supply of 156 upgraded BMP Infantry Combat Vehicles of value Rs 1,094 crore on OFB

“Source:- IBEF”
In a major boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government, Acquisition Wing of Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the approval of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, has today placed an Indent on Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for supply of 156 BMP 2/2k Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) with upgraded features for use of the Mechanised Forces of the Indian Army. Under this Indent, the ICVs will be manufactured by Ordnance Factory, Medak in Telangana at an approximate cost of Rs 1,094 crore (US$ 155.20 million).

The BMP-2/2K ICVs are going to be powered by 285 horsepower engines and are lower in weight which will make them highly mobile to meet all tactical requirements of mobility in the battlefield. These ICVs will be able to reach a speed of 65 kilometres per hour (kmph) with easy steering ability in cross country terrain. They will have amphibious capabilities to travel at 07 kmph in water. These are designed to overcome slope of up to 35° cross obstacles of 0.7 metre and have lethal firepower capability.

With the induction of these 156 BMP 2/2K ICVs, planned to be completed by 2023, the existing deficiency in the Mechanised Infantry Battalions will be mitigated and the combat capability of the Army will be further enhanced.

India as a major country of the world with appropriate technology, capital including FDI and extraordinary human resource contributing significantly to the global economy: Ravi Shankar Prasad

“Source:- IBEF”
The Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always believed in transformative programs be it Digital India, Make in India and Startup India. These initiatives have empowered ordinary Indians, led to digital inclusion, encouraged innovation and entrepreneurship, and raised the stature of India as a global digital power.

Promotion of electronics manufacturing has been a key component of Make in India program. With efforts such as the National Policy on Electronics, 2019, Modified Special Incentive Scheme (MSIPS), Electronics Manufacturing Clusters and Electronics Development Fund etc., India’s production of electronics grew from US$ 29 billion in 2014 to US$ 70 billion in 2019. The growth in mobile phone manufacturing has been remarkable during this period. From just 2 mobile phone factories in 2014, India now has become the second largest mobile phone producer in the world.  Production of mobile handsets in 2018-19 has reached 29 crore units worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore (US$ 24.12 billion) from just 6 crore units worth Rs 19,000 crore (US$ 2.70 billion) in 2014. While the exports of electronics have increased from Rs 38,263 crore (US$ 5.43 billion) in 2014-15 to Rs 61,908 crore (US$ 8.78 billion) in 2018-19, India’s share in global electronics production has reached 3 per cent in 2018 from just 1.3 per cent in 2012.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clarion call for Aatma Nirbhar Bharat – a self-reliant India.  Minister of Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad has often elaborated that this does not mean India in isolation but India as a major country of the world with appropriate technology, capital including FDI and extraordinary human resource contributing significantly to the global economy.

With a view to building a robust manufacturing ecosystem which will be an asset to the global economy we are looking forward to developing a strong ecosystem across the value chain and integrating it with global value chains. This is the essence of these three Schemes namely, the

  1. Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing,
  2. Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS)
  3. Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme

The PLI Scheme shall extend an incentive of 4 per cent to 6 per cent on incremental sales (over base year) of goods manufactured in India and covered under the target segments, to eligible companies, for a period of five years subsequent to the base year. The SPECS shall provide financial incentive of 25 per cent on capital expenditure for the identified list of electronic goods, i.e., electronic components, semiconductor/ display fabrication units, Assembly, Test, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) units, specialized sub-assemblies and capital goods for manufacture of aforesaid goods. The EMC 2.0 shall provide support for creation of world class infrastructure along with common facilities and amenities, including Ready Built Factory (RBF) sheds / Plug and Play facilities for attracting major global electronics manufacturers, along with their supply chains.

The triology of Schemes entail an outlay of about Rs 50,000 crore (US$ 7.09 billion). The Schemes will help offset the disability for domestic electronics manufacturing and hence, strengthen the electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the country. The three Schemes together will enable large scale electronics manufacturing, domestic supply chain of components and state-of-the-art infrastructure and common facilities for large anchor units and their supply chain partners. These Schemes shall contribute significantly to achieving a US$ 1 Trillion digital economy and a US$ 5 Trillion GDP by 2025.

The three new Schemes are expected to attract substantial investments, increase production of mobile phones and their parts/ components to around Rs 10 lakh crore (US$ 141.86 billion) by 2025 and generate around 5 lakh direct and 15 lakh indirect jobs.

European infra company A&M’s JV to invest Rs 100 crore in Mumbai Metro project

“Source:- IBEF”
A&M Development Group, a European infrastructure development company, plans to invest Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.19 million) to a Mumbai metro project along with RCC Infra Ventures through its recently formed Indian arm, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium.

The company, which is backed by Nasdaq-listed Polaris Energy Resources, has written letter seeking permission from Maharashtra chief minister Mr Uddhav Thackeray to invest in Chembur-Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) phase of the Mumbai metro project.

In India, this will be A&M Development Group’s first investment after its announcement in April to invest US$ 20 billion in mega projects including smart cities in the country in the coming years.

Although, the MBZ-RCC Infra Ventures joint venture bagged the contract for the project, but it was cancelled due to the company’s inability to achieve a financial closure.

Now, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium wrote to the state government expressing its commitment to bring in the funds to revive the project.

“We (Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium) are not looking at just government contracts but also helping private companies facing funds shortage in completing various activities,” said Mr Inderjot Singh Oberoi, country head (India-Saarc), Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium. “Out of total US$ 20 billion, our first investment is Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.19 million) with RCC. We plan to take this further to Rs 500 crore (US$ 70.93 million) for completing projects in roads, low-cost housing and other future projects.”

The two companies have formed a pact to explore more investment opportunities with each other, and RCC will also be pitching other projects wherein Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium will come in as a financial partner.

“Despite of best efforts, progress of our MMRDA contract suffered because of site issues and banking impediments,” said Mr Luv Jain, executive director, RCC Infra Ventures. “Though we were in touch with other companies earlier, the tie-up with Oberoi-A&M will help us in finishing not just this contract but also other infrastructure projects that we are working on.”

In April 2020, during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, A&M Development Group established its India office with plans to develop and execute roads, bridges, metro networks, airports, hydroelectric and irrigation dams, smart cities and low-cost housing projects through contracting and finance route.

Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium has also pledged to donate 10 per cent of its profits to the PM’s National Relief Fund for the next ten years.

Microsoft launches program to accelerate growth of agritech startups in India

“Source:- Livemint”
Technology giant Microsoft on Wednesday announced the launch of a program for agritech startups in India that are committed to driving transformation in agriculture.

The Microsoft for Agritech Startups program is designed to help startups build industry-specific solutions, scale and grow with access to deep technology, business and marketing resources, the company said in a statement.

Agritech startups in India are transforming agriculture by developing innovative digital solutions to maximize productivity, improve market linkages, increase supply chain efficiency and provide greater access to inputs for agri-businesses. In its efforts to bolster the country’s startup ecosystem, this program offers the best-in-class tech and business enablement resources to help agritech startups innovate and scale fast.

Startups will also get access to Azure FarmBeats, which enables aggregation of agriculture datasets across providers and generation of actionable insights by building artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) models based on fused datasets.

“Sustainable agricultural technology can transform the global food landscape. Agritech startup innovations are addressing some of our key challenges connected to agriculture and food production. The Microsoft for Agritech Startups program is among the early steps in our journey towards empowering these startups in India and transforming global agricultural practices,” said Sangeeta Bavi, Director, Startup Ecosystem, Microsoft India.

Spread across three tiers, the program offers a range of benefits, including tech enablement and business resources. Qualified seed to Series C startups can boost their businesses with Azure benefits (including free credits), unlimited technical support and help with Azure Marketplace onboarding.

Startups with enterprise-ready solutions can scale quickly with joint go-to-market strategies, technical support and new sales opportunities with Microsoft’s partner ecosystem, while startups that are looking to create digital agriculture solutions have the opportunity to co-build customized solutions with Azure FarmBeats without investing in deep data engineering resources.

European infra company A&M’s JV to invest Rs 100 crore in Mumbai Metro project

“Source:- Economic Times”
MUMBAI:
European infrastructure development company A&M Development Group has committed Rs 100 crore to a Mumbai metro project along with RCC Infra  Ventures through its recently formed Indian arm, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium.

The company, backed by Nasdaq-listed Polaris Energy Resources, has written to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking permission to invest in Chembur-Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) phase of the Mumbai metro project.

This will be A&M Development Group’s maiden investment in India after its announcement in April to invest $20 billion in mega projects including smart cities in the country in the coming years.

The MBZ-RCC Infra Ventures  joint venture had bagged the contract for the project, but it was cancelled due to the company’s inability to achieve a financial closure.

Recently, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium wrote to the state government expressing its commitment to bring in the funds to revive the project. ET has seen a copy of the letter.

“We (Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium) are not looking at just government contracts but also helping private companies facing funds shortage in completing various activities,” Inderjot Singh Oberoi, country head (India-Saarc), Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium, told ET. “Out of total $20 billion, our first investment is Rs 100 crore with RCC. We plan to take this further to Rs 500 crore for completing projects in roads, low-cost housing and other future projects.”

The two entities have entered into an agreement to explore more investment opportunities with each other, and RCC will also be pitching other projects wherein Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium will come in as a financial partner.

“Despite of best efforts, progress of our MMRDA contract suffered because of site issues and banking impediments,” said Luv Jain, executive director, RCC Infra Ventures. “Though we were in touch with other companies earlier, the tie-up with Oberoi-A&M will help us in finishing not just this contract but also other infrastructure projects that we are working on.”

In April, amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, A&M Development Group established its India office with plans to develop and execute roads, bridges, metro networks, airports, hydroelectric and irrigation dams, smart cities and low-cost housing projects through contracting and finance route.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium has pledged to donate 10% of its profits to the PM’s National Relief Fund for the next ten years.

India’s online video market to touch US$ 4 billion by 2025

“Source:- IBEF”
The online video market in India is estimated to reach US$ 4 billion by 2025, with subscription services contributing more than US$ 1.5 billion while advertising accounting for US$ 2.5 billion.

The major contribution will be by Google’s YouTube, followed by Disney+ Hotstar.

Disney+ Hotstar is the streaming service owned by Disney India and has potential to acquire 25 per cent of the total online video revenue pie by 2025.

Details of these projections are given under a report titled India Intelligence and Insights: Disney+ Hotstar: The Future of India’s Largest Premium Digital Video Platform brought out by independent research and consultancy services firm Media Partners Asia (MPA).

“In the current COVID situation, audiences are spending more time online and OTT platforms have almost doubled their viewership. This viewership trend is likely to continue at least for a few years. Hence, advertising on the services is likely to surge in the coming years as they increasingly become the choice for content consumption,” said Mr Anita Nayyar, head, customer strategy and relationships, ZEE5.

As per the report by FICCI-EY media and entertainment industry report 2020, television advertising in India, on the other hand, is estimated to reach Rs 388 billion (US$ 5.1 billion) by 2022.

“The pay economy for online content will be successful if we work with quality content, and price it in the right manner,” said Mr Vishnu Mohta, co-founder of Bengali video streaming platform Hoichoi. “It would happen because the COVID pandemic has catapulted OTT growth by some five years. Things that people would have expected to see in 2025, might happen now.”

Mr D Girish, vice-president, strategy at documentary streaming service DocuBay added that the current crisis has expedited the adoption of digital platforms by a large percentage of content consumers.

He added, “SVoD is not dependent on advertising spends by brands that are among the first to be impacted whenever there is a certain corporate or economic downturn; however, greater digital adoption also opens the door for a larger turf for AVoD monetization than in the past.”

According to MPA, Disney+ Hotstar could reach 93 million paying subscribers by 2025 at monthly ARPUs (average revenue per user) under US$ 1. Thus, taking subscription revenue to US$ 587 million by 2025 while advertising sales could reach US$ 314 million.

Though, any impact from new services such as gaming or expansion to south east Asia was not considered in report.

The effect of COVID-19 will be seen on the revenue of advertising market with TV bearing the brunt while digital video will also come under pressure. There is no exception by the Disney+ Hotstar’s advertisement packages.

Although, Disney+ enjoyed the benefit of subscription through the first half of 2020 from its launch in April 2020. Regardless the absence of the popular IPL cricket tournament, Disney+ contributed meaningfully to premium tier subscriber growth and remained churn positive through the period, as per MPA analysis.

According to the report, the strengthen of the platform includes sports, local originals, Hollywood entertainment and its super aggregator strategy. In order to increase subscribers, drive viewership and stay ahead of aggressive global and local competition, the company must sustain and accelerate the pace of its investment in product innovation, content creation and acquisition as well as retain its key sports rights. It must also develop new features and services including gaming and the aggregation of more local live and on-demand content.

It was rebranded as Disney+ Hotstar earlier this year, pricing, content mix and tech are main pillars of the Disney+ Hotstar strategy, added the MPA report. Pricing plays the important role as India’s large pay-TV universe only pays US$ 4 per month for a wide range of live TV channels, including sports and entertainment. Annual offers at attractive rates have been the key to creating an online subscription business at scale. Disney has three distinct offerings – Disney+ Hotstar VIP, Disney+ Hotstar Premium and an ad-supported basic tier. The VIP plan is available for Rs 399 (US$ 5.66) a year while the premium subscription comes for Rs 1,499 (US4 21.26).

Disney+ Hotstar’s major differentiation has been its vast aggregation of premium local and international entertainment and sports, driving its present-day addressable market to 100 million plus subscribers.

Disney+ comes with content bundled from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

PM e-VIDYA initiative to bring more opportunities for ed-tech startups

“Source:- Livemint”
MUMBAI : Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday announced the immediate launch ‘Pradhan Mantri e-VIDYA’ initiative for digital education, which is likely to boost already high interest in the ed-tech startups, given the extended at-home learning requirements that the industry is catering to.

Top 100 universities of the country will be allowed to start online courses by 30 May, Sitharaman said while announcing several measures for the education sector.

“This should create opportunities for the players in the education sector and technology companies to create, distribute and monetize, relevant digital content targeted at all sections of the society leading to a much wider reach and impact. During these tough times, the right use of digital technologies can go a long way in achieving the goals laid out by the government,” said Ashvin Vellody, partner, Deloitte India.

Online education platforms in India have already been raking in huge funding from investors over the past few years. Earlier this year, Ed-tech startup Unacademy raised $110 million from social networking giant Facebook and US private equity firm General Atlantic, at a post-money valuation of $510 million. Byju’s with $5.7 billion valuation is one of the leading Indian unicorns and is still building its funding backbone according to reports.

In challenging business environment like the current pandemic, India saw a number of good-sized deals in this space in Q1CY20. Edtech was a big winner in first quarter with Byju raising $400 million, Unacademy raising $110 million, and Aakash Educational acquiring Meritnation, says a KPMG report.

Sitharaman also announced that Diksha — the CBSE’s learning platform — would be extended to schools in states and Union territories. E-content and QR coded textbooks would be provided for all grades under a one nation – one digital platform initiative. One TV channel for one grade for all classes 1 to 12 – one class one channel for students who do not have access to internet. Radio, community radio and podcasts would be extensively used for the same.

“Initiatives announced by the FM are a welcome move and if given an opportunity, we are always open to collaborate with the government to support students with our commitment to make high-quality education accessible to them and keep them engaged through our adaptive learning techniques,” said Zishaan Hayath, CEO and Co-Founder, Toppr a learning platform for school students.

Sitharaman also said that Swayam Prabha DTH channels were launched to support and reach those who do not have access to the internet. Now 12 more channels will be added. The finance minister announced several new initiatives that will be started by the government in the education sector to promote “technology-driven education with equity post-COVID.”.

Special e-content would be developed for visually and hearing impaired.

Knowing that adoption of e-learning and implementation of tech-driven education is the only way forward, at upGrad, we opened our live learning platform to all schools, colleges, educational institutions, NGO’s and Government Bodies in mid-March itself. The push from the government to online education will further drive everyone to get accustomed to e-learning and with SWAYAM PRABHA DTH, within a short period of time, everyone across the country will seamlessly have access to all educational content,” said Mayank Kumar, co-founder and MD, upGrad.

Currently, over 50 institutions are conducting their classes seamlessly through the upGrad Live platform with over 45,000 students registered. Some of the institutions include Nagpur University, Lovely Professional University, Jamia Hamdard University, Sinhgad Group of Institution, ABES, as well as several colleges from Tripura.

Indiabulls Housing Finance raises Rs 1,030 cr by issuing bonds on private placement basis

“Source:- First Post”
New Delhi: Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd on Monday said it has raised Rs 1,030 crore by issuing bonds on a private placement basis.

The company on May 18 allotted 10,300 secured, redeemable, non-convertible debentures of face value Rs 10 lakh each, aggregating to Rs 1,030 crore, on a private placement basis, the company said in a regulatory filing.

The coupon rate on the bonds with three years tenor is 9.10 percent per annum (payable annually).

Shares of Indiabulls Housing Finance closed 10.87 percent down at Rs 118.85 on BSE.

General Atlantic to invest Rs 6,598 crore in Jio Platforms

“Source:- IBEF”
New York-based private equity giant General Atlantic plans to invest Rs 6,598.38 crore (US$ 936.07 million) in Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in its digital assets subsidiary, Jio Platforms Ltd.

This deal comes just two days ahead of the launch of RIL’s Rs 53,000 crore (US$ 7.52 billion) rights issue and will see General Atlantic pick up a 1.34 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, taking the value of the company at Rs 4.91 trillion (US$ 69.66 billion).

In the last month, with the latest deal, Jio Platforms has raised Rs 67,194.75 crore (US$ 9.53 billion) from marquee tech investors, such as Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners and General Atlantic.

The enterprise value of the Jio Platform has reached Rs 5.16 trillion (US$ 73.20 billion) with the deal with General Atlantic.

“I am thrilled to welcome General Atlantic, a marquee global investor, as a valued partner. I have known General Atlantic for several decades and greatly admired it for its belief in India’s huge growth potential,” said Mr Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, RIL. “General Atlantic shares our vision of a digital society for India and strongly believes in the transformative power of digitization in enriching the lives of 1.3 billion Indians. We are excited to leverage General Atlantic’s proven global expertise and strategic insights across 40 years of technology investing for the benefit of Jio.”

The idea behind the RIL’s strategy to raise funds through a flurry of stake sales is mainly intended at building confidence among potential investors for its mega rights issue amid a volatile equity market during the COVID-19 crisis.

RIL announced raising of Rs 53,125 crore (US$ 7.54 billion) through a 1:15 rights issue (one new share for every 15 shares held) at an offer price of Rs 1,257 (US$ 17.83) apiece on 30 April 2020 and the issue is set to open on 20 May.

RIL will let its subscribers buy the rights issue shares by only making a part payment now and the rest later because of the uncertainties in the market, giving RIL promoters more time to bring in enough money to fully subscribe to the rights issue. Shareholders, those are willing to subscribe to the rights issue will have to pay 25 per cent on application and the rest in one or more tranches. With 50 per cent shareholding, RIL’s promoter group led by Ambani will need Rs 26,600 crore (US$ 3.77 billion) to subscribe to its portion of the rights issue.

Sterling and Wilson Solar bags EPC contract in Australia for Rs 2600 crore

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Sterling and Wilson Solar Limited (SWSL)has bagged an Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contract in Australia for Rs 2,600 crore.

Further, the contract includes operation and maintenance which is estimated to be worth Rs 415 crore for 20 years, the company said in a statement.

This contract, its largest in Australia, comes within 15 months of setting up operations there.
With this order, the Shapoorji Pallonji backed company’s cumulative order book in Australia is estimated to be Rs 4,900 crore.

A substantial portion of the company’s international revenues for the current financial year will come from Australia, South America and the United States (US) where the construction of solar projects has now commenced, the company said. However, it did not provide details of the revenue breakup.

Bikesh Ogra – Director and Global CEO, Sterling and Wilson Solar Limited said, “This is our largest order in Australia and is a culmination of efforts to break new ground in countries like Australia, the United States and South America, where SWSL has invested in a strong team that is completely aligned with the local requirements.”

SWSL has a presence in 25 markets. It also provides operations and maintenance services, for third party projects. Its main markets span Asia, Australia, West Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

Renewable projects in India, which also add up to the company’s revenues, have been allowed to restart now. SWSL is in the process of handing over Covid-19 seems to have passed and the Company is looking forward to increased activity in order booking and revenues, the company said.

Additionally, Sterling and Wilson has signed two projects in India with independent power producers which is valued at Rs 620 crore.

PM gives a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat; PM announces special economic package; comprehensive package of Rs 20 lakh crore

“Source:- IBEF”
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the nation today. Recalling those who have died battling the pandemic, Prime Minister said that the crisis that has emerged due to COVID-19 is unprecedented, but in this battle, we not only need to protect ourselves but also have to keep moving forward.

Self-reliant India

Talking about the pre and post COVID worlds, Prime Minister observed that in order to fulfill the dream of making the 21st century India’s, the way forward is through ensuring that the country becomes self-reliant. Talking about turning a crisis into an opportunity, he gave the example of PPE kits N-95 masks, whose production in India has gone up from almost being negligible to 2 lakh each, on daily basis.

Prime Minister remarked that the definition of self-reliance has undergone a change in the globalized world and clarified that when the country talks about self-reliance, it is different from being self-centred. He said that India’s culture considers the world as one family, and progress in India is part of, and contributes to, progress in the whole world. He noted that the world trusts that India has a lot to contribute towards the development of the entire humanity.

Five pillars of a self-reliant India

Recalling the devastation in Kutch after the earthquake, Prime Minister said that through determination and resolve, the area was back on its feet. A similar determination is needed to make the country self-reliant.

He said that a self-reliant India will stand on five pillars viz. Economy, which brings in quantum jump and not incremental change; Infrastructure, which should become the identity of India; System, based on 21st century technology driven arrangements; Vibrant Demography, which is our source of energy for a self-reliant India; and Demand, whereby the strength of our demand and supply chain should be utilized to full capacity. He underlined the importance of strengthening all stakeholders in the supply chain to increase, as well as fulfil, the demand.

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan

Prime Minister announced a special economic package and gave a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat. He noted that this package, taken together with earlier announcements by the government during COVID crisis and decisions taken by RBI, is to the tune of Rs 20 lakh crore (US$ 283.73 billion), which is equivalent to almost 10 per cent of India’s GDP. He said that the package will provide a much-needed boost towards achieving ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Prime Minister observed that the package will also focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class, industries, among others. He informed that the details of the contours of the package will be provided by the Finance Minister from tomorrow, in the coming few days.

Talking about the positive impact of reforms like JAM trinity and others, brought about in the last six years, Prime Minister said that several bold reforms are needed to make the country self-reliant, so that the impact of crisis such as COVID, can be negated in future. These reforms include supply chain reforms for agriculture, rational tax system, simple and clear laws, capable human resource and a strong financial system. These reforms will promote business, attract investment, and further strengthen Make in India.

Prime Minister remarked that self-reliance will prepare the country for tough competition in the global supply chain, and it is important that the country wins this competition. The same has been kept in mind while preparing the package. It will not only increase efficiency in various sectors but also ensure quality.

Highlighting their contribution to the country, Prime Minister said that the package will also focus on empowering the poor, labourers, migrants, etc., both from organized and unorganized sectors.

He observed that the crisis has taught us the importance of local manufacturing, local market and local supply chains. All our demands during the crisis were met ‘locally’. Now, it’s time to be vocal about the local products and help these local products become global, he said.

Living with COVID

Prime Minister noted that several experts and scientists have said that the virus is going to be part of our lives for a long time. But it is also important to ensure that our life does-not revolve only around it. He exhorted people to work towards their targets while taking precautions like wearing masks and maintaining ‘do gaz doori’.

On the fourth stage of Lockdown, he said that its contours will be completely different from those seen yet. On the basis of recommendations received from states, new rules will be framed, and information about the same will be conveyed before 18th May.

Philips to invest Rs 300 crore in India manufacturing, R&D

“Source:- IBEF”
Philips, Dutch healthtech and consumer electronics company, plans to invest Rs 250-300 crore (US$ 35.47-42.56 million) to boost its manufacturing and R&D facilities in India. It also aims to hire 1,000 people over the next two to three years, adding to its existing workforce of over 6,000 people.

“Even as we work through the current crisis, we are focused on the future and are investing towards it,” said Mr Daniel Mazon, vice chairman and managing director for Indian subcontinent at Philips India.

He added that the company will expand its factory near Pune by 7,200 sq ft to start manufacturing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-ray equipment. Philips is also building a new 650,000 sq ft campus in Bengaluru that can house over 5,000 people and will be ready by 2023.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company witnessed an increase in demand for its connected care solutions. Thus, it plans to work towards more public-private-partnerships (PPP) in this space.

“We currently have about 100 PPPs in India in radiology and cardiology and would like to add more in connected care,” said Mr Mazon. The target is to ramp this up to 200 such partnerships over the next year or so. “We will combine IT and hardware to create a very strong solution in connected healthcare,” added Mr Mazon, that this also ties in with the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

In order to provide better healthcare solutions, the company plans to offer connected care solutions by combining hardware like monitors and ventilators to patient monitoring and access systems. This will also benefit hospitals in smaller towns connect to a speciality hospital in a larger city. The company is in talks with various state governments to start implementation of this, especially as healthcare will start shifting to a more remote model as a result of this pandemic.

Philips has been using its Healthcare Innovation Centre in Pune as a hub to export to several countries across the world, and Mr Mazon said the company will look at exporting the new product lines out of India as well. The HIC focuses on end-to-end product development and manufacturing for key product lines like ultrasound machines and mobile surgery units.

Amazon Business launches ‘Covid-19 supplies store’

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Amazon Business today introduced the ‘Covid-19 Supplies Store’ to provide easy access for businesses to buy Covid related supplies on Amazon. Frontline organizations such as healthcare and government can purchase Covid-19 related essentials in bulk from the store to effectively fight the virus, as per the company’s official release.

The multinational conglomerate said that the ‘Covid-19 Supplies Store’ has been specifically curated to provide instant access to critical medical supplies and safety products. Customers need not spend time searching for individual products. The store has a wide selection of items like N95 Masks, Surgical Masks, Sanitizers, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Kits, Gloves, Shoe Covers, PPE Suits, Facial Shields, and Infrared Thermometers, among others.

Commenting on the initiative, Manish Tiwary, Vice President – Category Management, Amazon India, said in the official release: “The ‘Covid-19 Supplies Store’ is our effort towards providing institutional buyers with a one-stop-shop for all their needs around safety and sanitization products.

He further added: “The store seeks to serve bulk buying needs of healthcare professionals and organizations as the nation continues to fight the virus. In these unprecedented times, Amazon remains committed to serve the nation by providing instant access and delivering products safely to customers across the country.”

Amazon Business claims to support organizations and their employees to stay safe by providing them instant access to various safety products. It stated that institutional buyers can get competitive quotes from multiple suppliers, coupled with safe delivery. These business purchases also come with the benefit of bulk pricing and GST invoices to ensure compliance and claim the input tax credit, Amazon mentioned.

Hyd startup ekincare offers free telemedicine services to India Inc in COVID fight

“Source:- The News Minute”
As the coronavirus wreaks havoc with the healthcare system, telemedicine is proving to be an important weapon in bridging the gap between people, physicians, and health systems. A Hyderabad-based corporate health benefits startup, ekincare is helping India Inc fight COVID-19 by offering free telemedicine services to employees of more than 600 companies and their dependents.

From top Fortune 500 companies like Unilever, eBay, Nike, Kotak Mahindra to startups like Grofers, Faasos, XOXOday and Byjus, a lot of organisations have signed up for ekincare’s online doctor consultations, the company claims.

According to the company, telemedicine reduces the spread of infection by keeping patients away from others. Sick people stay home rather than exposing others, including their doctors and anyone they encounter en route to a doctor’s appointment or in a healthcare facility.

ekincare has doctors on its own payroll and the company says this has helped ensure a 20 second response time to any health query on the platform.

Using the ekincare platform, doctors get access to an individual’s health history once connected and with end-to-end integration with other health services, doctors are able to give prescriptions as per the new telemedicine guidelines, for COVID tests or medications.

In order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, ekincare says it has built a symptom checker for self-assessment, temperature tracking into the platform which enables employees and their dependents to check themselves for the coronavirus symptoms, seek doctor consults if at risk, followed by COVID-19 RT-PCR testing if required by ICMR approved network partners pan India.

The company claims to have seen a 221% increase in online doctor consultations, and says that 76% of doctor consults were non-COVID related. The online healthcare startup has also observed that 65% of the consults were on general health and around 11% were for chronic issues like diabetes, hypertension, etc.

PE firm Vista Equity to invest Rs 11,367 crore in Jio Platforms

“Source:- IBEF”
Private equity firm Vista Equity Partners will invest Rs 11,367 crore (US$ 1.61 billion) in Jio Platforms for a 2.32 per cent stake. This is Jio Platforms’ third deal after Facebook and Silver Lake’s share acquisition plans over the last two weeks.

“This investment values Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore (US$ 69.66 billion) and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore (US$ 73.22 billion),” said Reliance Industries.

“We believe in the potential of the Digital Society that Jio is building for India. Mukesh’s vision as a global pioneer, alongside Jio’s world-class leadership team, have built a platform to scale anda advance the data revolution it started. We are thrilled to join Jio Platforms to deliver exponential growth in connectivity across India, providing modern consumer, small business and enterprises softwareto fuel the future of one of the world’s fastest growing digital economies,” said Mr Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista.

The net combined value of Jio Platform reached Rs 60,596 crore (US$ 8.60 billion) for the unit of Reliance Industries after the investment from Vista equity. The business comprises mainly of its telecom under Reliance Jio Infocomm, which is the largest in the country with over 388 million subscribers.

Vista will be the largest investor in Jio Platforms after RIL and Facebook. On April 22, 2020, Facebook announced that it would invest US$ 5.7 billion in Jio Platforms for a 9.99 per cent stake. Then on May 4, US private equity firm Silver Lake announced an investment of Rs 5,655.75 crore (US$ 802.35 million) in Jio Platforms for a 1.15 per cent stake.

Vista has more than US$ 57 billion in cumulative capital commitments and its global network of companies collectively represent the fifth largest enterprise software company in the world. Presently, Vista portfolio companies have a significant presence in India with over 13,000 employees.

The world’s largest tech investor, Silver Lake Partners announced an investment of Rs 5,655.75 crore (US$ 802.35 million) to buy a 1.15 per cent stake in billionaire Mr Mukesh Ambani’s digital unit that houses India’s youngest but biggest telecom firm.

This investment by Silver Lake was at a 12.5 per cent premium to the Facebook’s US$ 5.7 billion investment for a 9.99 per cent stake in the firm.

Earlier, 9.99 per cent stake in Jio Platforms were brought by Facebook for US$ 5.7 billion at an enterprise value of Rs 4.62 lakh crore (US$ 65.54 billion).

The financial advisor for the completion of deal was Morgan Stanley.

Edtech platform Classplus raises $9 mn in Series A round led by RTP Global

“Source:- Livemint”
Bengaluru: Business-to-business (B2B) edtech startup Classplus has raised $9 million in a Series A funding round, led by early stage tech investor RTP Global. Existing investors including Blume Ventures, Sequoia Capital India’s Surge, Spiral Ventures and Strive also participated in the round.

The Noida-headquartered company enables offline coaching institutes to take their businesses online. Classplus said that it will use the funds to improve its technology and expand its product offerings. Classplus is expanding its product, engineering and business teams, and also working with content publishers to establish easier access to online assessments.

Over 3,500 coaching centres across 70 cities and towns in India use the platform, it said. Classplus was launched in 2018 by Mukul Rustagi and Bhaswat Agarwal.

“We are the category leaders in the segment, and the new fund raise will help us to serve more teachers with a world-class product experience. India is home to the largest after-school tuition market in the world and delivery models keep evolving as we speak. As national examinations move online, so must after-school tuition practices, and this new round of capital is a testament to Classplus’ ability to digitise the ecosystem,” said Rustagi, co-founder and CEO of Classplus.

Kirill Kozhevnikov, Partner at RTP Global, said, “According to the Global Teacher Status Index by the Varkey foundation in 2018, India was among the top-10 in the world in respecting teachers, though was in the last-10 in paying them. Classplus is liquidating this imbalance by empowering tutors with full-stack mobile solutions, while maintaining and further improving the high reputation of tutors.”

India’s logistics aggregator Shiprocket raises $13M to expand overseas

“Source:- Tech Crunch”
Shiprocket, a New Delhi-based logistics aggregator that works with direct-to-consumer sellers including several social media influencers, has raised $13 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand its platform overseas.

Silicon Valley-based investment firm Tribe Capital led Shiprocket’s Series C financing round. Innoven Capital and existing investor Bertelsmann India Investments also participated in the round, which brings the three year-old startup’s to-date funding to $26 million.

Shiprocket works with more than a dozen courier companies in India and negotiates terms such as the fee and shipment tracking with them on behalf of its sellers, Saahil Goel, co-founder and chief executive of the startup, told TechCrunch in an interview last year.

The startup today works with more than 35,000 sellers in India and processes about 2 million shipments each month. It also helps sellers with tackling items that get lost during the shipment and enabling cash on delivery, the most popular payment option among customers in India. Gillettte, beauty product chain Mamaearth, beer franchise The Beer Cafe, coaching institute Aakaash Institute, and craft beer maker Bira are among some brands that use Shiprocket’s service.

Shiprocket has also become one of the top selling partners for social media influencers in India who have to take care of the items they sell to their fans themselves. In recent years, a wave of social commerce startups such as Meesho, backed by Prosus Ventures and Facebook, and Simsim have emerged in India as they attempt to reshape how people think about buying online.

“One of the reasons why the United States and emerging economies have thrived over the last 50 years has been a healthy dynamic of small to medium entrepreneurial businesses alongside consolidation and scaling corporations,” said Arjun Sethi, co-founder of Tribe Capital, in a statement.

“We invested in Shiprocket because they empower the small to medium businesses that truly represent the heart and soul of any emerging economy. Today, the SME segment lacks capital finance and credit, infrastructure, technology, and marketing strategies. Shiprocket has enabled these businesses to grow at a time of emerging competition enabled by mobile internet and corporations,” he added.

Shiprocket says it will use the fresh capital to expand its data science and engineering teams and focus on new initiatives including its international expansions. The startup already ships shipment overseas, it claims it delivers in more than 26,000 zip codes in India and 220 additional countries and markets.

The startup said it was profitable in the financial year that ended on March 31, 2019 and has an annualized revenue run rate between $25 million to $30 million. It did not comment on the impact coronavirus pandemic has had on its business.

Tata Power’s defence business bags Rs 1,200-crore contract to modernise 37 airfields

“Source:- The Hindu Business Line”
Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (Tata Power SED), a division of Tata Power Company, has signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence for modernisation of infrastructure at 37 airfields.

Under the contract, valued at about Rs 1,200 crore, the company will modernise infrastructure at airfields belonging to the Indian Airforce, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. The contract has to be executed over the next four years, the company said in a regulatory filing.

The contract involves supply, installation and commissioning of modern airfield equipment including Cat II Instrument Landing Systems and Cat II Airfield Lightning Systems, along with other navigational aids and air traffic management systems, besides creating the required civil and electrical infrastructure.

In March 2011, Tata Power SED had won a Rs 1,220-crore contract for modernisation of 30 airfields.

In continuation of the previous order, the new contract for modernisation would provide excellent control of airfield systems to air traffic controllers, enhancing aerospace safety and operational capabilities by facilitating operations in poor visibility and adverse weather conditions.

Tata Power is in the process of selling its defence business (Tata Power SED) to Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) through a scheme of arrangement.

The transfer to TASL has been approved by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and is expected to be completed once regulatory and other routine approvals are received.

NFL’s Fertilizer Sales Jump 71 per cent To 3.62 Lakh Tonnes in April

“Source:- Business Standard”
National Fertilizers Ltd, a PSU under the ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers registered a 71 percent growth in fertilizer sale in the month of April 2020. Despite the stringent restrictions in country in April due to COVID-19 lockdown Company recorded fertilizer sale of 3.62 Lakh MT in April’ 20 compared to 2.12 Lakh MT in the same period last year. Company had to face lot of logistics hurdles due to lockdown but despite that it left no stone unturned to make fertilizers available to farmers during this crucial period.

NFL produces urea at its five plants located at Nangal and Bathinda in Punjab, Panipat in Haryana and two plants at Vijaipur in M.P. Though the company has a production capacity of 35.68 Lakh MT of urea. With all these products, the company has recorded highest-ever sale of 57 Lakh MT in 2019-20, continuously for the fifth time in a row. Maintaining optimum operations of these plants in difficult times is a big success story especially towards fulfilling Government’s commitment to the farming community of the country.

Apart from this to support the efforts of Government to fight COVID-19, NFL employees’ have not only contributed one day’s salary of Rs. 88 Lakh towards PM CARES Fund, but have also contributed an amount of Rs. 63.94 Lakhs under CSR towards PM CARES Fund for the same objective. With this, the company has contributed total amount of Rs. 1.52 crores towards PM CARES FUND.

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