IndUS Business Journal

India tops in sending scientists and engineers to the US

Jan 14, 2016 0

WASHINGTON– Among Asian countries, India continues its trend of being the top country of birth for immigrant scientists and engineers to the US, says a latest report, adding that with 950,000 out of Asia’s total 2.96 million, India’s 2013 figure represented an 85 percent increase from 2003.

Overall, the number of immigrant scientists and engineers in the US has risen to 18 percent from an earlier 16 percent and 57 percent of those were born in Asia.

National_Science_Foundation_logo_From 2003 to 2013, the number of scientists and engineers residing in the US rose from 21.6 million to 29 million.

This 10-year increase included significant growth in the number of immigrant scientists and engineers, from 3.4 million to 5.2 million, said the report from the National Science Foundation’s National Centre for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).

In 2013, 63 percent of US immigrant scientists and engineers were naturalised citizens, while 22 percent were permanent residents and 15 percent were temporary visa holders.

“Also since 2003, the number of scientists and engineers from the Philippines increased 53 percent and the number from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, increased 34 percent,” the report added.

The NCSES report found that immigrant scientists and engineers were more likely to have earned post-baccalaureate degrees than their US-born counterparts.

In 2013, 32 percent of immigrant scientists reported their highest degree was a master’s (compared to 29 percent of US-born counterparts) and 9 percent reported it was a doctorate (compared to 4 percent of US-born counterparts).

“The most common fields of study for immigrant scientist and engineers in 2013 were engineering, computer and mathematical sciences and social and related sciences,” the findings showed.

Over 80 percent of immigrant scientists and engineers were employed in 2013, the same percentage as their US-born counterparts.

Among the immigrants in the science and engineering workforce, the largest share (18 percent) worked in computer and mathematical sciences, while the second-largest share (eight percent) worked in engineering.

Three occupations — life scientist, computer and mathematics scientist and social and related scientist — saw substantial immigrant employment growth from 2003 to 2013, the report said.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

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Indian pharma sector can touch $55 Billion

Jan 13, 2016 0

NEW DELHI– The Indian pharmaceuticals industry, growing currently at around 14 percent per year, can double its worth in the next four years to touch $55 billion (or Rs.4 lakh crore), union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Ananth Kumar said on Wednesday.

Ananth Kumar

Ananth Kumar

“Pharmaceutical sector in the country is a sunrise industry. From around Rs.2 lakh crore currently, we are targetting this sector to touch Rs.4 lakh crore mark, or around $55 billion, by 2020,” the minister said here while releasing the report of the task force on “Development of Manufacturing Capabilities in each Medical Vertical in Pharmaceutical Production”.

“The sector needs to increase its growth rate by 1-2 percent every year. That’s why we have taken various policy initiatives and will keep doing that,” the minister said.

Noting that India can be a world leader in pharma, Ananth Kumar said the government is working to set up pharma parks, bulk drugs parks and medical devices parks, while the first medical devices park in the country was coming up soon.

“In the next 3 years, the country will have 6 pharma and 2 medical devices parks. There will be Rs.30,000 crore, or around $6 billion, investment on this count,” Ananth Kumar said.

He pointed out that pharma industry development was almost entirely private sector driven, with only 4-5 public sector undertakings in the sector.

“We have been telling the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to come out with a separate ministry of pharmaceuticals. It needs a full-fledged ministry,” he said.

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Silicon Valley veterans invest in Indian hike messenger

Jan 12, 2016 0

NEW DELHI– Hike messenger, India’s first homegrown messaging app, on Tuesday announced that tech veterans from Silicon Valley have invested in the company and are playing advisors to it.

Aditya Agarwal

Aditya Agarwal

These top veterans include Adam D’Angelo, founder and CEO of Quora — a US-based question-and-answer website; Aditya Agarwal, vice president, engineering, of Dropbox — file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc.; Ruchi Sanghvi, former vice president, operations at the Dropbox; and Matt Mullenweg, founder and CEO of Automattic Inc. and co-founder of WordPress publishing platforms.

“It is great to have the world’s top brains in tech share hike’s vision; and not just entrust us with their investment, but more importantly, also advise us on our product and strategy,” Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO of hike messenger, said in a statement.

D’Angelo previously served as chief technology officer at Facebook, where he oversaw new product development and managed the engineering team.

Prior to that, he led the Facebook Platform team and, as an engineer, built the initial infrastructure for news feed.

Agarwal, one of the first engineers at Facebook, came to Dropbox via the acquisition of Cove, a company he co-founded that was focused on improving group collaboration and communication.

Sanghvi was responsible for product, recruiting, marketing, communications, and other functions at Dropbox.

The first female engineer at Facebook, Sanghvi has been awarded the TechFellow award for ‘Engineering Leadership’ and featured by BBC as one of five Indian technology pioneers.

“It’s quite clear that messaging is playing a key role in bringing people online in a mobile first market like India and hike messenger has begun to play a pivotal role in that market. We are both aligned to hike’s vision and are excited about what comes next,” Sanghvi and Agarwal said.

An online social media entrepreneur, Mullenweg, supports the startup community through his angel investment firm Audrey capital, which has backed over 100 companies since 2008, many of which have been acquired.

“I believe in hike messenger’s vision and I can see the team gearing up and are well positioned for aggressive growth in the country,” he noted.

“Each of the them brings with him/her a core area of expertise, which we at hike find immensely useful as we aggressively grow in India,” Mittal added.

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Indian diaspora students offered internships in 23 Indian firms

Jan 9, 2016 0

By Arun Kumar

WASHINGTON–Indian diaspora/NRI students will be offered 60 paid short term internship positions in 23 Indian companies in major Indian cities during the summer of 2016 under a public-private partnership.

The Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC), set up by the Indian government in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), launched the India Corporate Internship programme for Indian diaspora students during the Regional Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas in Los Angeles in November 2015.

Internship-nriInternship positions are being offered at Apollo Hospitals, Blue Star, Flipkart, Forbes Marshall, Godrej group of companies, Infosys, Kirlosker Brothers, TATA group of companies and Wipro among others.

Major Indian cities covered include Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune. The internships will include monthly stipends and accommodation, according to CII.

The initiative aims at reaching out to Indian youth across the globe to understand the dynamics of corporate India as well as take part in India’s transformation.

This programme, according to a CII release, aims to provide an opportunity for students of Indian origin to learn from the stalwarts of the Indian industry, work in a multicultural environment and re-connect with their roots in India.

They will work in diverse sectors such as Aerodynamics, Automotive, Banking & Financial services, Healthcare, Incubation centres for Indian start-ups, IT, Manufacturing Power, Retail & e-commerce and Social Enterprises.

Students can apply for the internships through the OIFC website www.oifc.in

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India to invest $140 Billion in railways in next Five Year Plan

Jan 8, 2016 0

Indian_RailwayKOLKATA– The government has decided to pump in $140 billion in the railways in the next Five Year Plan as infrastructure investment, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said here on Friday.

“We have taken a decision to invest $140 billion in the railways in the next Five Year Plan,” he said at the Bengal Global Business Summit here.

Prabhu said that the dedicated freight corridor will be completed in another three years speeding up the movement of goods and ensuring direct linkages with ports.

The railways have awarded tenders of Rs.19,000 crore over the past six months and the amount will be doubled in the near future.

He said the proposed East-West metro, which links the satellite town of Salt Lake to Howrah, has been put on the fast track and is slated to be completed in two and a half years.

The first phase of the metro services would become operational in June 2018, said Prabhu.

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India and World Bank Sign $50 Million Project to Improve Education & Skills Training for Minority Communities in India

Jan 7, 2016 0

NEW DELHI – The Government of India and the World Bank have signed a US$ 50 million credit for the Nai Manzil: Education and Skills Training for Minorities Project to help young people from minority communities complete their education and gain from market-driven training programs with the aim of improving their employment outcomes.

At the signing - Michael Haney, Operations Advisor, World Bank, Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Dinesh Singh Bisht, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs

At the signing – Michael Haney, Operations Advisor, World Bank, Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Dinesh Singh Bisht, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs

The project will support the Government of India’s national Nai Manzil (New Horizon) Scheme, a comprehensive education and skills development program for youth from minority communities, launched in August this year. The project will reach out to disadvantaged youth from minority communities and support their enrolment in open schooling, as well as provide hands-on vocational training. It will also provide post-placement support to assist them in finding sustainable employment.

“The Nai Manzil Scheme is designed as an integrated education and training program that provides youth from minority communities skills that are needed for different tasks in a rapidly changing world. Interventions under this project will support the Nai Manzil Scheme in improving the employability and performance of minority youth in the labor market,” said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

The credit agreement for the project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India and Michael Haney, World Bank’s Operations Adviser in India, on behalf of the World Bank.

“India’s demographic dividend can be harnessed only if all young people from all sections of society are equipped with the education and skills needed to make them productive members of the economy,” said Michael Haney, Operations Adviser, World Bank, India. “This project reflects the government’s intent to provide opportunities for youth from minority communities to acquire the education and training that they might have missed out on. We hope it will improve the employability and earning capacity of youth, particularly that of women, in these communities.”

Twenty percent of young people (i.e. those between 17 and 35 years of age) from minority groups (notified minorities consist of Muslims, Parsees, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and Sikhs) are out of the labor force, which is higher than their share of the youth population. While overall the trend has been for youth in India to receive more years of formal education, youth from certain minority communities are more likely to experience lower levels of education and are more likely to be unemployed. According to the National Sample Survey 2011-2012, Muslim youth have the lowest labor market outcomes. They earn 25-30 percent lower wages, are 50 percent less likely to be engaged in the formal sector and have higher rates of unemployment.

A recent World Bank study of select skills training programs in five states of India found that well designed skills training programs make a positive difference; beneficiaries were found to experience a seven percentage point increase in employment (with a stronger result for women than for men) and a 21 percent increase in their wages. In addition, formal education continues to shape employment outcomes and long-term productivity of the youth. Youth with primary education (or less) receive 12 percent lower wages than those with secondary education, the study found.

“The objective is to help these youth to extend their formal education and enter the labor market with better employment prospects. The project will also incentivize the education and training providers to provide placement support to these students, and track them for a certain period after they have completed the study or training program,” said Muna Salih Meky, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank and John D. Blomquist, India Program Leader, Inclusion and the World Bank’s Task Team Leaders for the project.

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – the credit is on IDA terms with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period.

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India remains global growth champ with 7.8 percent economy expansion in 2016

Jan 7, 2016 0

By Arul Louis

UNITED NATIONS– India remains the global growth champion with its economy set to increase by 7.8 percent in the new year although a World Bank report released Thursday cut it from the 7.9 projected last June.

Overall the bank’s Global Economic Prospects Report painted a gloomy global outlook cutting the global growth by almost a half percent to 2.9 percent in 2016 from the 3.3 percent forecast last June.

In the growth race among the major economies, China remains the runner-up with its economy projected to grow by 6.7 percent this year and 6.5 percent next year. The growth projections for U.S. economy are 2.7 this year, 2.4 next year and 2.2 in 2018.

It kept India’s economic growth as measured by increase in gross domestic product at 7.9 percent for 2017, “although the pace of reforms has slowed somewhat.” For 2018, it cut the projection from 8 percent made last June to 7.9 percent.

The report recognised India’s resilience saying, “Compared to most other major developing countries, India is well positioned to withstand near-term headwinds and volatility in global financial markets due to reduced external vulnerabilities, a strengthening domestic business cycle, and a supportive policy environment.”

However, it also drew attention to the dark clouds overhanging the reform process. “In India, progress in reforms is not assured as the upper house of parliament, which the ruling party does not control, has the power to block the government’s legislative agenda,” the report said. “A failure to pass the goods and services tax (GST) could hamper the government’s ability to ramp up spending on infrastructure needs and preserve the status quo of fragmented domestic markets.”

“Slow progress on land reforms could add to investment delays,” it added. “And private investment growth may be unable to build further momentum. The financing of public-private partnerships also remains a challenge.”

The report also referred to another area of concern, the slowdown in industrial production. Both the services and manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Indices (PMIs) have softened, it said. The PMI fell from 54.5 for December 2014 to 49.15 last month.

On the bright side, the report said, “The investment cycle is gradually picking up, led by a government efforts to boost investment in infrastructure, particularly roads, railways and urban infrastructure.” It added that India’s currency and stock markets weathered the volatility in the global financial markets last year. Sensex, a key Indian stock market index ended 2015 up 1.08 percent.

“Progress on infrastructure improvements and government efforts to boost investment are expected to offset the impact of any tightening of borrowing conditions resulting from tighter U.S. monetary policy,” the report said. “Such investment will also lift potential growth over the medium term. Low international energy prices and domestic energy reforms will ease energy costs for Indian firms that tend to be energy intensive.”

Other positives on India’s report card that the World Bank noted were:

* Sharp reduction in current account deficit, to about 1 percent of GDP in the second quarter of 2015 from about 5 percent in mid-2013 during the turmoil in the financial markets over U.S. Federal Reserve policy.

* The central bank rebuilding reserves while net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have stayed positive.

* Reduction in the central government’s fiscal deficit close to 4 percent of the GDP, down from a peak of 7.6 percent in 2009 through fiscal consolidation.

* The recently announced salary increases for public sector employees and support for urban spending from lower inflation offsetting fall in rural incomes because of two successively weak monsoons.

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Mamata to woo investors at the Bengal Global Summit

Jan 6, 2016 0

KOLKATA– In a bid to give an image makeover to West Bengal as a “new business ready” state, the two-day Bengal Global Summit 2016 begins here on Friday, with the state government hoping to draw huge investment commitments from both domestic and international industry captains.

Months ahead of the crucial Assembly polls, the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress regime is showcasing the event in a grand manner to dispel the negative perceptions about Bengal in business circles and attract much needed big ticket projects that would in turn ensure jobs for a large number of unemployed youths.

Mamta Banerjee

Mamta Banerjee

The state, where the East India Company first set up base ushering in British colonial rule for two centuries, was known as an industrial hub till the first decades of independence.

However, militant trade unionism and what critics have called a deteriorating work culture saw a flight of capital and the industrial scenario turned bleak over decades.

Though the erstwhile Left Front government – that was in office for a record 34 years till mid 2011 – has been largely blamed for the decline, the scenario has remained unchanged, and even worsened to some extent, since Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took over.

Her hands-off policy on acquiring land for industries, and widespread allegations of thriving extortion rackets have turned away prospective investors. Consequently, heads of India Inc’s big guns like the Tatas, Birlas and the Ambanis – regulars at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Meet – have so far given a miss to the Bengal summit.

However, Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani attended Banerjee’s investment meet in Mumbai in 2013, and speculation is rife that he may be the star attraction in the upcoming summit.

State Finance Minister Amit Mitra who was camping in Mumbai to woo the country’s top industry mandarins, asserted the investment commitments in the coming summit would surpass last year’s figure of Rs 2.43 lakh crore.

“We will surpass last year’s investment commitments of Rs 2.43 lakh crore. Besides India Inc., you will see a lot of interest from foreign investors,” said Mitra, while not disclosing names of industrialists expected to be present.

In the run-up to the summit, the Bengal government had organised an investment road show in New Delhi in September.

Business delegates from a host of countries including the US, Britain, Japan, China, South Korea among others would participate in the summit that focuses on emerging areas like start-ups, design, intelligent cities, IT/ITes, financial hub and industrial infrastructure.

Besides Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu and Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari are expected to be present at the gala event. Bangladesh commerce minister Tofail Ahmed and British Minister of State for Employment Priti Patel are also scheduled to attend the summit.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal,his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad have also been invited by Banerjee. Kejriwal would be present at the inauguration ceremony, according to official sources.

With the opposition targeting her government over the poor industrial scenario and flight of capital from the state, Banerjee has been widely publicising the event inviting investors to “ride on the growth”.

Claiming that the state has outperformed the country on several economic parameters, Banerjee has been calling Bengal as “the destination for industries today”.

The event would include plenary sessions addressed by national and international entrepreneurs, sectoral breakaway sessions and business to business (B2B) and government-to-Business (G2B) interactions along with expositions and exhibitions.

Exuding confidence about the success of the summit ASSOCHAM President Sunil Kanoria stressed on the need for knowledge-based service industry hub.

“To arrest the ‘brain drain’ and convert it into ‘brain gain’ the state government should seriously consider positioning itself as a knowledge-based service industry hub by setting up more number of institutions for research,” said Kanoria.

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New FICCI chief bats for GST, rate cut, demand push

Jan 6, 2016 0

NEW DELHI– Lauding the government for pursuing reforms, new FICCI chief Harshvardhan Neotia lamented that banks were yet to pass on the interest rate cuts to industry while appealing to all political parties to ensure early roll out of the pan-India Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

FICCI chief Harshvardhan Neotia

FICCI chief Harshvardhan Neotia

Otherwise, he said, India’s superior macro-economic fundamentals, higher economic growth, declining inflation and the benefit from falling commodity prices have made foreign investors view Indian companies quite favourably.

“The GST can prove to be a game changer,” Neotia told IANS in an interview, emphasising that it was not only the most far-reaching reform in independent India’s tax regime, but also held potential to spur growth and make India a single market.

“We have to improve consumption, which means generating demand. So how do you spur demand? One is moderation of interest rate by making monthly instalment payments more attractive, and thereby, boosting demand.

“The full benefit of the reduction in the policy rates by the Reserve Bank of India hasn’t yet come through. It is one area that FICCI can help articulate concerns of industry,” said the new president of the 89-year old Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

He said the proposed GST, stalled in the Rajya Sabha for the ruling NDA’s lack of majority in the upper house, will bring more people under the tax net, broaden its base and perhaps lower the effective rate, boosting consumption.

“I feel that the tax buoyancy will increase, compliance will improve and yet there will be some reduction in taxes and the impact of all these would be one to two percentage points rise in GDP,” said the 54-year-old Neotia — who also owns an Indian Super League football team along with former cricketer Sourav Ganguly.

Overall, he said, India’s superior macro-economic fundamentals, higher economic growth, declining inflation and the benefit from falling commodity prices have made foreign investors view Indian companies quite favourably, and has resulted in their premium valuation compared to those from other emerging markets.

“India’s economy is more insulated from a global slowdown being largely driven by domestic consumption,” said Neotia, who is chairman of Ambuja Neotia Group with business interests ranging from real estate, including housing, to hospitality, healthcare and education

Among his priorities as FICCI president, he said was following up on the Paris declaration on climate change talks about which industry is quite enthused.

“It is time for the industry to gear up in tackling the challenge of climate change in a renewed confidence. FICCI will engage in developing a viable mechanism by which green technology can be further encouraged in Indian industry,” he said.

In light of the Justice Lodha panel’s recent report recommending legalising betting in Indian cricket, Neotia said it is always better to have a situation where betting is regulated.

“Betting is there in India, so it is always better to have it brought in the mainstream and regulated,” he said.

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India’s scheme to turn the deprived into entrepreneurs

Jan 6, 2016 0

NEW DELHI– Targeting some 250,000 women and scheduled castes and tribes people, the government on Wednesday approved the “Stand Up India” scheme to foster entrepreneurship among them with a corpus of Rs.10,000 crore, and extend loans of up to Rs.1 crore for new projects.

The scheme, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day 2015 address, was given the go ahead by a meeting of the union cabinet chaired by him here, with a mandate to the department of financial services to anchor it.

“The scheme is intended to facilitate at least two such projects per bank branch — on an average one for each category of entrepreneur. It is expected to benefit atleast 2.5 lakh borrowers,” an official statement said.

The expected date of reaching the target of at least 2.5 lakh approvals is 36 months from the launch of the scheme, it added.

As per the scheme, a refinance window through Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will be created with an initial amount of Rs. 10,000 crore, along with credit guarantee norms via the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company.

Borrowers will be provided handholding support both at the pre-loan stage and during operations. This would include increasing their familiarity with factoring services, registration with the online platforms and e-market places, along with sessions on best practices and problem-solving, the finance ministry said.

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