IndUS Business Journal

Jaitley raises issue of ‘discriminatory’ hike in US visa fee

Apr 14, 2016 0

Washington–Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has raised the issue of hike in the US visa fee for Indian technology professionals, which he said was targeted largely at the Indian IT (information technology) companies.

“The finance minister held a bilateral meeting with United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman expressing India’s concern over the hike in the H-1B and L1 visa fee which is discriminatory and in effect, largely targeted at Indian IT companies,” the union finance ministry said in a statement.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Jaitley is currently on a seven-day official tour to Washington DC to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and other associated meetings.

Jaitley is accompanied by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan, Secretary Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das, and Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian.

Jaitley also emphasised upon India’s keenness for early conclusion of a Totalization Agreement with the United States, for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of incomes with respect to social security taxes.

“As per industry estimates, Indian professionals have contributed more than $25 billion to the US social security during the last decade, without being able to retrieve their contributions,” the statement said.

Jaitley added that India looks forward to strengthening and deepening of its economic engagement with the US.

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India bright spot in weakening global recovery: IMF

Apr 14, 2016 0

Washington–The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said India remains a bright spot, even as global economic revovery has weakened and risks to global financial stability have increased, all of which call for a combination of monetary, fiscal, and structural actions.

“India remains a particular bright spot with rising real incomes and confidence boosting domestic demand,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in her global policy agenda, just ahead of the Spring Meeting of the Fund and the World Bank.

Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde

“Global economy is expanding moderately, but the outlook has weakened further since October and risks have increased,” she said, adding this may well prove to be a deterrent to higher living standards, fresh employment levels and controlling debt of nations.

The IMF chief said there could emerge some indirect ramifications from factors like geopolitical shocks from conflicts, terrorism, refugee flows, a potential exit of Britain from the European Union and global epidemics.

At the same time, there were some positives also, she stressed.

“Some recent improvement in data releases, somewhat firmer oil prices, reduced pressures on outflows from China, and actions by major central banks have all contributed to improving sentiment,” said Lagarde, but felt these needed to be built upon.

“A three-pronged approach with monetary, fiscal, and structural actions can work as a virtuous trinity, lifting actual and potential growth, averting recession risks, and enhancing financial stability.”

Among the various policy prescriptions, Lagarde said more needs to be done to support efficient infrastructure investment in all countries and that a new infrastructure policy initiative will be piloted this year to scale up spending in this area and improve institutional capacity.

This apart, she said, the Fund will also assess the size and implications of the problem, and examine options to reduce the risk of adverse balance sheet effects from the rising private sector indebtedness, and unresolved crisis legacies in banks. (IANS)

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Modi launches e-market for farm produce

Apr 14, 2016 0

New Delhi–Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched an e-trading platform for agricultural products, terming it a “turning point” to ensure transparency in buying and selling of farmers’ produce across the country

The Internet-based e-NAM (National Agriculture Market) is aimed at integrating ‘mandis’ to help both farmers and buyers by providing them data of produce available, its quality and the price being offered at the bidding markets.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

“This is a turning point for the agriculture community. The agriculture sector has to be looked at holistically, and it is only then that maximum benefit of the farmer can be ensured,” said Modi, addressing a gathering of farmers at Vigyan Bhawan here on the occasion.

He said that the e-trading platform will help farmers and buyers access a huge market and help them to decide for themselves by providing choices.

“It’s (e-NAM) a very big possibility. This is for the time that the farmers will be able to decide where, when and on what price they want to sell their produce,” Modi said amid cheers from the audience.

Initially 21 mandis from eight states have been linked to the NAM and as he pressed a button, all 21 logged in to the portal.

The government plans to link 200 mandis to the portal within five months and 585 by March 2018.

Modi also emphasised that farmers’ income can be doubled only by applying scientific methods.

Giving example of a child, who would not be benefited if bathed in a bucket of milk but would grow faster if fed in small quantities by a spoon, he said that that flood irrigation was a “thing of past” and new techniques of drip irrigation were to be adopted in the 21st century.

He also urged farmers to get their soil tested and then farm accordingly.

Speaking on the occasion, union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that the government was working hard for the welfare of the farmers and launch of eNAM is a step in this direction.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was a “day of change” that will empower farmers.

Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Mohan Bhai Kundaria and Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha and Agriculture Secretary Shobhana Patnaik were also present on the occasion.

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Gold down sharply after dollar strengthens

Apr 14, 2016 0

Chicago– Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell on Thursday as the US dollar rose sharply, putting pressure on the precious metal.

The most active gold contract for June delivery fell $21.8, or 1.75 percent, to settle at $1,226.50 per ounce.

Gold_ShotThe precious metal was put under pressure as the US Dollar Index rose sharply, reaching above a 95.1 level during intraday trading but is at 94.82, representing a 0.4 percent gain by 18.25 GMT, Xinhua news agency reported.

The index is a measure of the dollar against a basket of major currencies.

Gold was put under further pressure as a report released by the US Department of Labor on Thursday showed the weekly jobless claims falling by 13,000 to a 253,000 level during the week ending on April 9. Analysts note that this report was much better than expected and is a sign of strong US employment.

Stronger US equities also put pressure on the precious metal as the US Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 28.93 points, or 0.16 percent, as of 18:30 GMT. Analysts note that when equities post losses, the precious metal usually goes up, as investors are looking for a safe haven, while the opposite is true when the US equities post gains.

The precious metal was prevented from falling further as a report released by the US Department of Commerce on Thursday showed the consumer price index rising by a worse-than-expected 0.1 percent. Analysts note that this is a sign of soft inflation data, but is not necessarily a bad sign for the US economy in the wider sense of things.

Silver for May delivery lost 15.2 cents, or 0.93 percent, to close at $16.173 per ounce. Platinum for July delivery dropped $10.1, or 1.01 percent, to close at $992.90 per ounce. 

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US Reaches FY 2017 H-1B Visa Cap

Apr 7, 2016 0

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS_Sig_Rib_VertUSCIS will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general cap. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ended April 7. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2017 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

• Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
• Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
• Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
• Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.
We encourage H-1B applicants to subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Cap Season Web page.

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Desh Deshpande Writes His First Book: On Entrepreneurship and Impact

Apr 6, 2016 0

WALTHAM, MA—Philanthropist, serial high tech entrepreneur and venture and angel investor Desh Dehspande has published his first book:  On Entrepreneurship & Impact; and probably he is the best person to talk about entrepreneurship and its impact on society.

His first three questions are:  (1) Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? (2) Is entrepreneurship worth It? (3) Is entrepreneurship an art or a science?

Deshpande-Book CoverThe book is published by Deshpande Foundation and its foreword is written by N. R Narayana Murthy, founder of Indian tech giant Infosys. Even the foreword by Murthy makes you think right away.

“In business, you might be able to gain some kind of advantages using shortcuts. These advantages are short-lived. If you want to gain long-term advantage, you need the right foundation of values and principles at play,” Murthy says.  “On Entrepreneurship and Impact” is a refreshing take on the themes of entrepreneurship and impact. Every article highlights a value, principle, mindset or an approach at the foundational level rather than providing a popular tip or a technique. The focus is on the long-term win rather than gaining a fleeting advantage.”

And then again who know entrepreneurship better than Murthy himself and who knows Deshpande better than Murthy, his brother-in-law.

Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande

Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande

“I have been a witness from close quarters to watch Desh build multiple successful technology companies in the first phase of his career and now repeating his success via thoughtful philanthropy and innovative ecosystem building initiatives like the Sandbox at Hubli and other locations,” Murthy says in the foreword. “In this book, Desh generously shares his practical insights that will create a lasting impact on the thinking of those that are aiming to create a lasting impact.”

The book has only 105 pages, but each page contains powerful, practical and inspiring message. The book is divided into six sections: (1) Start, (2) Manage, (3) Grow, (4) Develop, (5) Impact, and (6) Engage.

In acknowledgement of the book, Deshpande says that it is collection of some of his reflections on entrepreneurship and social impact.

“Building a company is very much like a childbirth in many ways. It is an unique experience for every parent and they have to go through the experience to understand the pain and the joy,” says Deshpande. “ However, over time the process of childbirth has improved dramatically with better understanding.  Similarly, a better understanding of the entrepreneurial  path is improving the entrepreneurial success rate attracting more people to entrepreneurship as a career.”

In the introduction of the book, Deshpande says that the world has changed dramatically in the last six decades that he has witnessed.

“Most of the changes have been brought about by technological innovations and entrepreneurs who have put them to good use.  Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty.  The power of innovation and entrepreneurship continues to multiply in the connected world we live in,” says Deshpande.  “However, the difference between those who benefit from this new economy and those who get left behind continues to widen.  While there is a lot of conversation about a ‘shared economy’ there is no obvious solution in sight.  In some ways entrepreneurship is what is creating this divide.  However, I think entrepreneurship can also fix this problem.”

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MIT India Conference Highlights Social, Business and Political Challenges

Apr 6, 2016 0

By Geetha Patil

CAMBRIDGE, MA–The MIT India Conference 2016, which was organized by the MIT MBA students and teachers, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, highlighted the key social, business, and political challenges, practices, and innovations that are shaping India today and will shape tomorrow.

This conference addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Startup India” initiative and focused on how to create a booming environment in India to put “Startup India” into action and active growth.

Mit-PanelThe conference brought together number of successful young startup entrepreneurs from India and the United Stated who joined in the ‘Startup India’ initiative to share their leading business experiences and challenges, and any thriving, new, and need-based business opportunities for upcoming graduates and midlife career seekers in one of the world’s largest economies.

Rafael Raif, MIT president, sent out his welcome letter and his best wishes to MIT India conference attendees to enjoy the stories of adventurous startup entrepreneurs and join hands with MIT in the powers of innovation and entrepreneurial partnership to bring change in the world.

Aditi Sarangi, Aditya Rao, Munaf M, Kachwala and their team formally received hundreds of audience and distinguished speakers to the conference and helped them with registration and breakfast. Awelcome address was given by S.P. Kothari, Prof. of Accounting and Finance at the Sloan School of Management.

Dr. Mukesh Aghi, president of the U.S.-India Business Council, gave opening remarks at the conference and mentioned that his organization is dedicated to strengthen the economic and commercial relationship between the United States and India and serve as a direct link between business and government leaders.

The keynote speaker of this conference was Arvind Subramanian who currently serves as the chief economic advisor to the government of India. Prof, Kothari facilitated Q&A session of Mr. Subramanian. Ron Spangler, a graduate of MIT spoke on what new technology transition opportunities in energy and defense are available with this ‘Startup India’ Initiative.

There were three panel discussions. The first panel focused on, ‘Transforming ideas into reality – Milestones and decisions in the early years’ with enterprising and ingenious speakers who were led by a recognized host Christina Chase. She is a lecturer and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, where she has helps hundreds of teams go from concept to company.

The second panel emphasized on, ‘The Journey to scale — Growing sustainably in a complex market’ with speakers’ experiences and challenges.’ Yasheng Huang, International Program Professor in Chinese Economy and Business and a Professor of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management shrewdly stimulated speakers and assisted the session to run smoothly with Q&A part.

Rakesh Pandey, a distinguished Research Scientist at Olin College of Engineering and Executive-in-Residence at Northeastern University, facilitated the third panel on, ‘Creating lasting impact — Opportunities in social entrepreneurship.’ These entrepreneurs made huge impact in community by helping villagers in India even though there are no tangible indicators to measure their social impact.

As a second keynote speaker, Desh Deshpande, president and chairman of Sparta Group LLC and co-chair of a National Council that support President Obama’s innovation and entrepreneurship strategy, shared his own entrepreneurial experiences, projects that help school children with mid-day meal program and farmers with watershed programs etc. and he also gave some tips on how to solve challenges and hold on to optimism to obtain success in our ventures.

This dedicated team of MIT students: Aditi Sarangi, Aditya Rao, Munaf M, Kachwala, Rahul Arora, Alok Singh, Ishan Gokhale, Sheila Chheda, Manisha Singh, Grace Kermani, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Jaswanth Madhavan, Shahid Azad, Sruthi Reddy Chintaunta, Naina Saxena, Alankrita Nigam, Siya Purohit, Sharvi Mewada, Karthik Gopalakrishnana, Juhi Singh, Remya Kurup, Rishi Gohil, Francis Goyes, Kairav Shroff, Malika Shahrawat worked very hard for the past 8 months to put this event together.

Aditya Rao thanked his teachers, mentors and peers for putting this conference together and making it a grand success. He thanked sponsors of the conference namely, The Times of India, ET, BS, Indian Express, NDTV, Yahoo, The American Bazaar, India New England News. In addition, he also thanked MIT Community poster presenters for their showcasing their innovative projects that focus on helping out grass-root people.

He also acknowledged humbly MIT’s support by providing them with a beautiful media lab for hosting this great conference. He expressed his gratitude to all the speakers for coming and sharing their experiences with others and willing to help and guide others with their startup undertakings. He showed his modest gratitude to all audience for supporting this event with their active participation in all the sessions. Last but not the least, he appreciated with gratitude his peers’ dedication, support, encouragement, and time.

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Meet Sanjiv Gupta, man seen as potential buyer of Tata Steel UK

Apr 6, 2016 0

Mumbai– He has emerged as the man to watch out for when Tata Steel initiates the formal process to sell its UK assets. Meet Sanjiv Kumar Gupta, founder of the UK-based Liberty House.

Gupta is the key man British Business Secretary Sajid Javid met in London on Tuesday, just before flying to Mumbai for a meeting with Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry. Gupta, in fact, has already indicated his intention to stop widespread job losses in Tata Steel UK.

Sanjiv Kumar Gupta

Sanjiv Kumar Gupta

“I am pleased to report we had a positive meeting today. UK government appears highly supportive and is proactively engaged in finding a long-term solution,” Gupta is quoted as saying after his meeting with Javid.

“The next step is for Tata (Group) to define the formal sales process and request indications of interest from potential buyers. We await further details on this and then will assess our own next step.”

For the record, Liberty Group has revenues approaching $5 billion, covering steel, raw materials and non-ferrous metals, while employing more than 2,000 people globally. It also produces about 5 million tonnes per annum of steel and steel products.

Gupta is also not new to takeovers.

Ten days ago, Tata Steel UK announced it has reached an accord to sell its Clydebridge and Dalzell steel facilities in Scotland. The deal involved the sale of the two plants to the Government of Scotland, which was to, in turn, sell them on to Liberty House.

Prior to that, Gupta’s group had acquired a 1.5 million tonnes per annum steel plant in Wales that was set up as an integrated producer of steel based on electric arc furnace route with downstream hot rolling mill.

This complex was shut for over two years, before Liberty’s takeover. Now the mill’s operations have commenced and plans are on the anvil to eventually revamp the steel melting shop and grow the rated capacities of the mill — a testimony to Gupta’s turnaround skills.

Liberty’s other investments include medium-sized mills and service centres in markets such as India and Ghana to strategic stakes in large producers, like a 2.5 million tonne per annum mill for steel and value added products.

As per the group’s website, it operates from four financial hubs in London, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong with a network of offices spread across 30 countries around the world.

And “SKG”, as Gupta is called by his peers, comes from a successful business family of Punjab. The 44-year-old left for Britain when he was 12 years old as a resident student at St. Edmunds College, Canterbury, in Kent.

He graduated from the Cambridge in 1995 and was subsequently awarded his Master’s from Trinity College. Since then, he has been trading in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

“From 2000 onward, SKG’s focus has been on growing the trade in steel, metals and raw materials while developing the industrial asset base of the group,” the Liberty website said.

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Want to make India global media, entertainment hub: Ministry

Apr 1, 2016 0

New Delhi–Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry Secretary Sunil Arora on Friday said that the ministry’s objective is to make India the hub of media and entertainment industry in the world.

“One of our primary objectives is to bring down the number of visitors to Shastri Bhavan and move towards less regulation and facilitate India to become the hub of media and entertainment industry,” Arora said during Ficci-Frames 2016, held in Mumbai.

Bollywood-Image-Actress Kareena KapoorFicci-Frames is the annual conclave of media and entertainment industry attracting policy makers, producers, distributors, media and entertainment industry professionals in large numbers. The theme for 2016 is “Year of the Digital: Change or Perish”.

Speaking to Star CEO Uday Shankar and filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, Arora said that the ministry has expedited the clearance for new TV channels over the last six months.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs has agreed to most of the suggestions made by the I&B Ministry about liberalising several conditions,” he said.

Arora also said the ministry was guided by the ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ philosophy and remained committed to promoting ease of doing business in the media and entertainment sector.

“The government and ministry was completely committed to digitisation programme, but expressed concern over less than 10 per cent share of Indian-made Set Top Boxes (STB). We want the industry to look at this as an opportunity under the Make In India initiative and produce more STBs.”

He also disclosed that the government will set up the National Centre of Excellence in Animation, Gaming and Visual Effects in Mumbai, for which the Maharashtra government is providing 25 acres of land near Film City in Goregaon, Mumbai.

The government has also approved Rs.598 crore National Film Heritage Mission to preserve and promote India’s rich film and cultural heritage.

“National Museum of Indian Cinema is coming up in Films Division complex on Pedder Road (Mumbai) with several interactive exhibits. The prime minister has taken a keen interest in this museum, which is being curated by the National Council of Science Museums, Kolkata”, he added.

Arora said that a Film Facilitation Office has also opened in the National Film Development Corporation to function as a single window service for film related clearances.

“An award has been instituted as part of the National Film Awards to honour the states that are most film friendly. In 2016, Gujarat has been adjudged the most film friendly state, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Kerala,” Arora said.(IANS)

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India’s media, entertainment revenues seen at $33 billion by 2020

Mar 30, 2016 0

Mumbai–The media and entertainment industry will grow at 14.3 percent annually to touch earnings of Rs.2.26 trillion ($33 billion) by 2020 led by a fast growth in advertising revenues, said a study released here on Wednesday.

The report prepared by Ficci and KPMG says advertising revenue is expected to grow by a 15.9 percent annually to Rs.994 billion ($14.8 billion), with digital advertising expected to retain its strong run, having grown by 38.2 percent in 2015 over the previous year.

A. Didar Singh

A. Didar Singh

“We are going through a phase of rapid, sustained technological innovation that will permanently change the way consumers will access and consume content,” said Ficci director general A. Didar Singh, releasing the report at the Ficci-Frames conclave on media and entertainment here.

“Changing user habits will disrupt existing business models as content providers and brands will need to match consumer expectations. While this will pose multiple challenges, we believe there are significant opportunities for media, entertainment firms to leverage the digital ecosystem.”

Jehil Thakkar, partner and head of media and entertainment with KPMG India, said the films sector also returned to growth in 2015 led by Hollywood and regional cinema, rather than Bollywood.

According to the report: “Studios are also experimenting with fresh talent, which comes onboard for a lower fee. For instance, talent costs at Yash Raj Films are approximately 25 percent lower than the industry average because bulk deals are signed with new actors.”

“Print saw a slower growth in the past year but TV and digital advertising have exceeded expectations.”

As per the report, at 7.6 percent, the print industry witnessed a marginal slowdown in 2015 compared to 2014 — an election year. For English language publications, e-commerce stood out as a category in a year of muted growth.

It said the television sector witnessed strong advertising-led growth at 17 percent with increase in e-commerce spends. Growth in subscription revenue was slower at 12.8 percent due to the delay in Phase III digitisation and further delays in securing on-ground benefits of Phase I and II.

Thakkar said that with the wide rollout of 4G finally underway, coupled with the “Digital India” initiative, the future of digital advertising is very bright.

“The year 2015 saw a number of OTT services being launched, and we expect this trend to continue in 2016 as well. However, this industry is yet to find a sustainable business model in India, which is likely to emerge in the next 12 to 24 months,” Thakkar added.

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