IndUS Business Journal

India’s real challenge is to grow at 9-10 percent: Niti Aayog CEO

Apr 22, 2016 0

New Delhi– India has been the fastest growing economy but the real challenge that lies ahead is to achieve 9-10 percent growth rate, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Friday.

“FDI (foreign direct investment) into India has gone up by 48 percent at a time when FDI across the world has fallen by 16 percent. The challenge before India now is to grow at 9-10 percent for three decades or more,” he said here at the 24th annual general meeting of American Chamber of Commerce in India (AMCHAM).

Niti Aayog Chief Executive Amitabh Kant

Niti Aayog Chief Executive Amitabh Kant

Kant however stressed that for India to grow at a 10 percent growth rate, it needs to become a very easy place to do business and embrace free trade and innovation.

“India needs to embrace free trade to penetrate its exports. India can grow only if investments come in and for that it has to be a part of the global supply chain. Basic essence of free trade and free investments must grow.

“India has opened up its multiple sectors from railways to pension funds to medical devices for foreign investment. India needs to do smart sustainable urbanisation and it will have to be in cooperation with the American companies. IBM, Cisco, Honeywell are top class global US companies that have done well in India. Honeywell could not have achieved the growth it has, had it not been for its growth in India,” he said.

“We have opened our sectors. America too should open its service sectors for Indians as cooperation can’t be one way,” he said, adding that India will be the vanguard of the technological innovation that will happen.

“India needs to become an innovative society. We need to strengthen relationship with American universities. Future of India will depend on ability to design and innovate. US has a merit-based society. It is this merit-based society based on innovation is what India needs to capture, if it wants to grow at 9-10 percent growth rate,” he said. (IANS)

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Trying to get US investments in power sector: Minister

Apr 22, 2016 0

New Delhi–The government on Friday said that it might get leading US investors to invest in India’s power sector.

According to the Minister for Coal, Power and New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal, the government is trying to rope in major US based investors like the Blackstone Group to invest in the country’s power sector.

Goyal, who is on an official tour to the US, disclosed the information on the micro blogging site Twitter.

“@PiyushGoyal may get leading US investors-Blackstone Group, Warburg Pincus n others 2 invest in India’s power sector,” Goyal tweeted.

On Thursday, the minister informed that state-run Energy Efficiency Services (EESL) will open it’s 21st overseas office in New York in the near future.

“We will go back by the weekend and my office will get cracking with the EESL on Monday to set the ball rolling on EESL’s US chapter,” Goyal said.

“There was huge enthusiasm shown by the Green Bank and the Energy Council of the US earlier in the day during my meetings with them,” the minister spoke at the Renewable Energy Investors Roundtable.

The roundtable was co-hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the US India Business Council in New York on Thursday.

The move assumes significance as India will take EESL to the US to share innovative ways to mainstream energy efficiency, primarily on the back of economies of scale and transparent procurement.

“The pricing of LED bulbs in India has been a game changer with prices falling by over 83 percent in one year,” the minister said in a statement.

Currently, EESL has completed distribution of five crore LED bulbs under its Domestic Efficient Lighting Program.

Responding to investors queries on the volatility of the exchange rate and the need to address the hedging issue, Goyal said: “I am open to an earlier proposal of linking the debt to a basket of currencies including the US dollar (USD), the Japanese Yen (JPY) or even options like inflation linked tariffs to cover hedging risk.”

He, however, pointed out that the Indian rupee has been relatively strong over a long term and will be one of the strongest currencies given India’s growth potential.

In addition, Goyal said that other issues like the need for a stable and simplified policy and regulatory regime; standardised PPAs (power purchase agreement) and equipment standardisation were discussed during his visit to the UK and the US.

Further, Goyal projected India’s growth to be in double digits by next year, if not this fiscal itself.

Besides, the minister called upon natural gas producers to explore investment opportunities in India.

“India is willing to take gas for its gas based power projects and sign long term contracts of 10-15 years but this can be done at a fixed price of $5 per/mmbtu as the power sector is a price sensitive sector in the country,” Goyal said.

“With about 28 GW of stranded gas assets in the country, this is a huge and promising market as long as the prices are right and given the current Baltic index, I believe that this is a viable proposition.”

He further added that India is currently exploring all means of gasification including coalbed methane.

The union minister also talked about the ‘Make in India’ initiative, about which he said: “To incentivise manufacturing in solar, the government is exploring options of long term power contracts and long term land lease contracts for solar manufacturers.”

The minister reiterated India’s position for just climate action and re-emphasised that Indians and India need to get their chance to develop.

“India cannot be held responsible for the emissions although India believes in being a responsible global citizen and doing its part,” the minister added. (IANS)

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US to focus on infra investment in smart cities: Ambassador

Apr 22, 2016 0

New Delhi–United States Ambassador to India Richard R. Verma on Friday said the US will continue to focus on making investments in infrastructure in Indian smart cities, which have an investment potential of $1.5 trillion.

“Infrastructure development in smart cities in India will continue to be the focus of the US government. There is a market potential of $1.5 trillion in smart cities,” Verma said at the 24th annual general meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in India.

Richard Verma

Richard Verma

“Investment in smart cities’ infrastructure is one of the pillars of the India-US commercial dialogue. The US will collaborate with governments at the Centre, states and India’s finance sector to take the smart cities projects off the ground,” he added.

Currently, around 38 dialogues are in progress between India and the US at the government level, he said.

“38 dialogues are on between India and the US, amongst which a number of US agencies are talking to the Indian government on smart cities,” the American ambassador said.

“There is massive urbanisation happening in India at levels we have never seen earlier. Opportunities in rural India are drying up. India needs to construct a Chicago city every year to accommodate people moving to its cities,” Verma said.

He said the US government had initiated a reverse trade mission under which 14 officials from the Vizag smart city project visited US cities to analyse the infrastructure requirements of a smart city.

Talking about the growing partnership in India, he said: “We have seen broadening and deepening of our relationship. Year 2015 saw the India-US bilateral trade scale new heights. Soon the two countries will hit the $108 billion-mark.”

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Committee to interact with industry on jewellery excise duty

Apr 22, 2016 0

New Delhi– The central Government on Friday said that it has constituted a committee to interact with the trade and industry bodies on the imposition of central excise duty on jewellery sector.

“The central government has set-up a sub committee under Ashok Lahiri, to interact with the trade and industry on the imposition of central excise duty on jewellery,” the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.

“All associations/trade and industry will be given an opportunity to submit their representations before the sub-committee in writing. All India Associations will also be given an opportunity to state their case in person.” (IANS)

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International Solar Alliance a trillion dollar opportunity: Piyush Goyal

Apr 22, 2016 0

New Delhi– The government on Friday said that the International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a trillion dollar opportunity to serve humanity.

According to the Ministry of Power, this was stated by the Minister for Coal, Power and New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal in New York.

Power Minister Piyush Goyal

Power Minister Piyush Goyal

“The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a trillion dollar opportunity to serve humanity and those in the dark,” Goyal said at the roundtable on ISA-the Trillion Dollar Opportunity.

The roundtable was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Terrawatt Initiative (TWI) under the aegis of the ISA.

“India has launched this initiative as an obligation towards the larger humanity as an article of faith,” Goyal said.

The ministry elaborated that ISA which comprises of 121 countries that lie partially or fully between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn is intended to create a platform for larger collaboration for technology, research and development and capacity building.

“This is about improving the quality of life of large number of people who are still grappling with problems of energy and accessibility at affordable prices,” the minister added.

The ministry added that the Global Solar Council has committed to create 25 million jobs in the solar space among the ISA countries.

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50 Taj hotels bag EarthCheck Gold Certification for savings

Apr 22, 2016 0

Mumbai–As many as 50 hotels, palaces and resorts of the Taj Group have bagged the EarthCheck Gold Certification for savings of $6,107,585 through reduction in energy, water and waste, it was announced on Friday.

In hotels ranging from Rambagh Palace, Jaipur to Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites & Residences, London, data revealed 28.6 percent reduction in wastes, water and energy, as part of the group’s drive for sustainable and responsible tourism management.

Rambagh Palace

Rambagh Palace

“Taj Group is the first in the world to have 50 hotels achieve Gold Certification in the same year, having completed a minimum of five years of continuous benchmarking through EarthCheck Certified,” said EarthCheck founder-CEO Steward Moore.

“We believe what’s good for the planet can also be good for business, and we are thrilled to release such positive data-based evidence of cost and resource savings for these Taj Group hotels,” he added.

Billed as a world-first milestone in sustainable and responsible tourism management, it was achieved through an eight-year collaboration between Taj Group and EarthCheck, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group.

Since 2008, under EarthCheck Certified, the Taj group saved energy equivalent to 172,232 four-member family Indian homes, 1.8 billion litres water corresponding to 719 Olympic-sized swimming pools and 11.4 million litres waste equal to 344 standard cargo containers – totally valued at savings of $6,107,585.

“Taj is committed to environmental sustainability through efficient management of all its assets and resources and constantly works towards closely integrating our operations with product design and development coupled with responsible sourcing,” said Taj’s associate vice-president, public relations, Rakhee Lalvani.

She said that the Taj Earth sustainability programme is aligned with the Tata ethos of keeping communities at the heart of doing business.

“We have several on-ground green initiatives that enable us to function in tandem with the environment and over the years, we have implemented innovative changes that now collectively make a significant impact on sustainability and also resonates with our guests,” Lalvani said.

Currently, 77 Taj Group hotels are enrolled in EarthCheck Certified, of which 50 are Gold Certified in the world’s most rigorous and scientifically accurate program of its kind in the tourism industry, operational in 70 countries.

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Mahindra: Climate change pact launched; redemption opportunity for business

Apr 22, 2016 0

By Arul Louis

United Nations, NY–The historic climate change agreement was ceremonially launched Friday with 171 countries lining up to sign the document that US Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed as a “new covenant with the future”.

Indian business magnate Anand Mahindra, speaking on behalf of the world’s corporate sector at the start of the ceremony, said it gave an opportunity for business “to redeem itself from the trust deficit”.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the UN Messenger of Peace, who addressed the opening of the signing ceremony for the Paris climate change agreement, seen with Seceretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday, April 22, 20016. (Credit: UN/IANS)

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the UN Messenger of Peace, who addressed the opening of the signing ceremony for the Paris climate change agreement, seen with Seceretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday, April 22, 20016. (Credit: UN/IANS)

In a singular honor, the chief executive of the Mahindra Group, shared the platform with presidents, prime ministers, the US secretary of state and a princess who spoke at the ceremony, which also featured the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the UN Messenger of Peace.

Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar was scheduled to sign the agreement formally binding India to the pact to fight climate change later Friday with 171 leaders lining up for it. On Thursday, speaking at the UN General Assembly, he had called the implementation of the agreement a “test” for developed and developing nations on how they “walk the talk”.

Mahindra, in his address, likened the process of arriving at the agreement to the ‘manthan’ or churning in the Hindu scriptures that brought forth ‘amrit’ or nectar of everlasting life, in this case the pact to “safeguard the world as we know it”.

“This agreement has not come easily,” he said. “It came after much debate, much discussion, much churning. And the word churning brings to my mind a story form Indian mythology, about manthan, the great churning of the cosmic ocean. In that story after of eons of bitter divisions, gods and demons decide to put aside their differences and work together to jointly churn the cosmic ocean to obtain its treasures.

“That churning is not easy. It results in great upheaval and in turbulence. But at the end of this joint enterprise wonderful things begin to emerge from the churned ocean,” he said. “Most importantly, there emerges the amrit, the nectar of eternal life, which is now available to all those who participated in the journey.”

“Now our transition to a greener way of life is also happening after much churning,” he said. “But in this indisputably positive things are beginning to emerge.”

“For corporations this is the first step towards visibly integrating our interests with the interests of the future of the planet,” he said. “It is our responsibility because we have contributed to the problem. And it is up to us to help mitigate it.”

“But it is also an opportunity because this mitigation gives business a chance to redeem itself from the trust deficit it has been facing after the 2008 Occupy Wall Street Movement,” he added, referring to the youth-driven anti-capitalist movement that rocked New York, the world’s financial capital, and spread elsewhere.

Anand Mahindra of the Mahindra Group addressed the opening of the signing ceremony for the Paris climate change agreement Friday, April 22, 2016, on behalf of the world's corporate sector. (Credit: UN/IANS)

Anand Mahindra of the Mahindra Group addressed the opening of the signing ceremony for the Paris climate change agreement Friday, April 22, 2016, on behalf of the world’s corporate sector. (Credit: UN/IANS)

He said that investments in renewable energy are outstripping investments in conventional energy for the first time and Mahindra Group has “invested more than $350 million for the green revenue portfolio and it is going to be one of the best investments we have made”.

Mahindra’s place on the podium reflected the important role UN is giving the private sector to achieve the climate change goals and expected contributions of India.

At the start of the ceremony, Ban sounded an alarm for the environment: “We are breaking records in this chamber – and that is good news. But records are also being broken outside. Record global temperatures. Record ice loss. Record carbon levels in the atmosphere.”

“The window for keeping global temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees, is rapidly closing,” he warned. “We are in a race against time.”

“The era of consumption without consequences is over,” he added.

Urging fast international action, DiCaprio said: “Now think about the shame that each of us will carry when our children and grandchildren look back and realise that we had the means of stopping this devastation, but simply lacked the political will to do so.” (IANS)

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Arts to the Outdoors Vermont in May

Apr 22, 2016 0

Montpelier, Vt. – When the calendar hits May in Vermont, a host of events and outdoor activities await visitors and residents in the state. From the performing arts, to walking tours, to exciting sporting events, here’s a sample of things to check out this month:

Vermont-Marathon-sCATS The Musical
May 1-8, The Green, Woodstock
A Pentangle Arts production in collaboration with ArtisTree based on the universally popular poetry of T.S. Eliot, CATS tells the story, in song and dance, of the annual gathering of Jellicle cats at which time one special cat is selected to ascend to the Heaviside layer.

Vermont Inn-To-Inn Walking Tour 
Throughout May, Chester
An Inn-to-Inn walking tour is one of the most independent and relaxing ways to observe Vermont’s natural beauty at close range. Explore historic sites, swimming holes, antique shops, book stores, covered bridges, farms, lakes and mountain streams along the way.

The Curious Cousins of Vermont Outsider Artist Gayleen Aiken 
May 3-21, Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, Middlebury
Gayleen Aiken (1934–2005) is recognized as an idiosyncratic 20th century folk and outsider artist. As a child in Barre, Vermont, Gayleen created a family of fictional cousins, with the last name of Raimbilli. Gayleen told stories and envisioned hobbies for each one. The cousins are illustrated in oil and mixed media paintings and drawings, many with descriptive writings penned on the bottom or in a corner of the canvas.

ARTstravaganza 
May 6-8, Arts Council of Windham County, Brattleboro
Where creativity grows. Come find out why! Featuring over 30 exhibitions in Brattleboro.

VNA Vermont Respite House 5K Fun Run & Jiggety Jog 
May 7, Allen Brook Elementary School, Williston
Participants of all ages and fitness levels will walk, run, bike, push strollers and pull wagons to raise pledges for the VNA Vermont Respite House.

Shen Yun 
May 7, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington
There was a time when the world was full of magic and splendor, as if all on Earth existed in harmony with Heaven. You could see it in the arts, feel it in the air, and hear it in the beat of a drum. This was a land of heroes and sages, dragons and phoenixes, emperors and immortals. Known today as China, this place was once called “the Middle Kingdom” and “the Land of the Divine.” What if you could journey back and visit this lost world…? Now you can.

The Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge and State Agency Race 
May 12, State House Lawn, Montpelier
The Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge and State Agency Race is a 5 kilometer team running/
walking event open to businesses, government and non-profit organizations in Vermont. The proceeds from this event benefit the many programs and events of the Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Lyle Brewer Concert 
May 14, ArtisTree Community Arts Center, South Pomfret
Steeped in jazz, blues, pop, and rock…we welcome back Lyle to the stage at ArtisTree! Lyle Brewer. Brewer has been a staple of the Boston music scene for the last ten years.

Ben Williams Quartet 
May 14, Vermont Jazz Center, Brattleboro
The Ben Williams Quartet displays world-class bass playing, and an original approach to arranging and youthful vitality.

Pentangle Arts: The Malek Jandali Trio 
May 21, North Universalist Chapel, Woodstock
World-renowned composer and pianist, Malek Jandali, recognized as a leading figure in today’s piano world will be presenting for the first time at Pentangle with Abdulrahim Alsiadi and one of our very own local cellists.

Celebration of Peonies 
May 21, Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, Manchester
Traditionally the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June when the Formal Garden signals the beginning of the season with thousands of peony blooms; many of them from the original 1907 plants.

Randolph Center Tractor Pulls and Farmers Swap Meet 
May 28, Smith’s Farm, Randolph Center
This well-loved event has been a small community staple for many years. The event is free and open to the public.

Vermont Open Studio Weekend 
May 28-29, Vermont Route 100, Stockbridge
You will find a list of 194 participants this year. The Vermont Crafts Council produces the Vermont Studio Guide, which contains maps, directions and contact information about participants, and posts the same material on its website.

Killington Stage Race 
May 28-30, Killington Area Green Mountains
The Killington Stage Race is a series of three races structured to cover a variety of terrain and distances, and set against the cool, lush landscape of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Nearly 500 cyclists venture to the heart of the Green Mountains to Race the Legend each year.

People’s United Bank Vermont City Marathon & Relay 
May 29, Battery Park, Burlington
The course winds through the city streets of Burlington, and includes spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and lake. Run as little as three miles or as many as 26.2. Run for a cause, with a friend or for yourself.

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Babson’s First India Symposium Draws 250 People, Pitches India as Next Business Destination

Apr 22, 2016 0

WELLESLEY, MA– Babson College’s first ever Babson India Symposium drew about 250 people, four keynote speakers and over two dozen accomplished panelists. The event was held on April 16 at the Sorenson Theater of Babson College in Wellesley, MA.

Rohan Murty in a candid conversation with Prof. Bala Iyer

Rohan Murty in a candid conversation with Prof. Bala Iyer

This year’s symposium provided a great platform for business leaders, entrepreneurs, and academicians to share their experiences on starting up and investing in India.

The range and selection of topics were diverse and varied interests of the audience were catered, organizers said.

The opening key-note by Rohan Murty of Catamaran Ventures/Infosys spoke about the influence of technology on the world, while the closing key-note by V.G Siddartha, CEO of Café Coffee Day, spoke about varied opportunities to pursue business ideas and how important it is to dream big.

Family business panel with Prof. Sam Hariharan

Family business panel with Prof. Sam Hariharan

In his key-note address, Vallabh Bhansali, Founder of Enam Securities, explored the idea of India becoming the next economic superpower, which was aptly followed by a fiery keynote from Laxman Narasimhan, CEO of PepsiCo Latin America. He spoke about how to understand the billion consumers which India offers.

The panel discussions included engaging topics such as conducting business within family businesses and starting up in India. The importance of value-driven and conscious work culture was exemplified by Karambir Kang, the hero of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and a long-standing employee of the Taj Group of Hotels (TATA group). Stand-up comedian, Abish Mathews spoke about unconventional careers alluding to India truly being the land of opportunities.

The entire day was jam-packed with compellin

Intimate conversation between Mr. Karambir Kang, savior and survivor of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and presently Area Director of Taj Hotels, USA and Prof. Raj Sisodia

Intimate conversation between Mr. Karambir Kang, savior and survivor of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and presently Area Director of Taj Hotels, USA and Prof. Raj Sisodia

g topics and engaging discussions, and definitely drove the point that India is the next big destination, with immense potential and with a huge scope to scale up.

Challenges notwithstanding, India promises to provide enormous opportunities, and the student community at Babson promises to return next year with a bigger and a better edition of the India

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India needs more technology start-ups: IIT-Delhi director

Apr 21, 2016 0

By Archana Rao

New Delhi– More technology-based start ups are needed in India to create inventions to help enhance the quality of life of the people, V. Ramgopal Rao, director of the premier IIT-Delhi says.

“One thing which needs to happen in the country is more technology start ups. There are a lot of start up companies in India but many of them are e-commerce based,” Rao told IANS as the institute prepares to host on April 23 its 12th Open House that gives an insight into the massive research work happening on the campus.

V. Ramgopal Rao

V. Ramgopal Rao

“The technology start-ups will actually create inventions. They have the potential to boost agricultural productivity and can add to the wealth of the nation,” he added.

The Open House is set to feature over 20 “high societal impact” projects along with 500 research projects and 80 demo projects.

“Among some of the projects to be showcased at the Open House, the technology can be bought by people and help enhance the quality of life. Technology-based entrepreneurship, product development still hasn’t been taken up in India in a big way,” Rao noted.

Rao said that an ecosystem needs to be created for those who create technology-based products.

“When a person creates such a (technology-based) product, he takes it to the market. One way is to license it to a company which is already in that space, but it may not always be possibleÂ… If a researcher wants to start such a company, the person would want to scale up production facilities which requires investment. For this you will need vice chancellors to support you. This technology incubation is where we (IIT Delhi) are going to put emphasis now.”

The director also said events such as Open House will help connect institutes like IITs with the society.

“I see a lot of hope (through such events). The activities have already begun in that direction. IITs are doing research, publishing papers, but we’re not connecting strongly enough with society. But now it seems that things are beginning to happen,” Rao said.

On the fewer number of women in the field of science and research, Rao said: “I am ashamed over the ratio of female researchers to male researchers at the IIT campuses. There are not even many women in the leadership position in the country right now. This is not a good sign. At IIT Delhi we have actually consciously asked why is that we don’t have dean who are women. We have to address this issue.” (IANS)

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