IndUS Business Journal

India ranks 130th in Human Development Index: UNDP

Dec 15, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its latest report has placed India’s Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2014 at 0.609, as the country climbed five spots to 130 in a list of 188 countries and territories.

Between 1980 and 2014, India’s HDI value increased from 0.326 to 0.609 — an increase of 68.1 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.54 percent.

UNDPThe HDI is a summary measure of assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development — long and healthy life, access to knowledge and decent standard of living.

“India loses 28.6 percent HDI due to inequalities, largely due to inequalities in education (42.1 percent). Among BRICS, South Africa has the highest loss due to inequalities at 35 percent and lowest is for Russia at 10.5 percent,” said a note circulated with the report.

On the Gender Inequality Index (GII), India ranks 130 out of 155 countries with a value of 0.563.

The GII reflects gender-based inequalities in three dimensions — reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity.

The 2015 Global Human Development report by UNDP, named “Work for Human Development”, was released on Monday in Ethiopia.

The report encourages governments to look beyond jobs to consider the many kinds of work such as unpaid care, voluntary or creative work that are important for human development.

As per the report, 2 billion people have moved out of low human development levels in the last 25 years.

The report shows that providing universal social protection in India could cost an estimate 4 percent of GDP.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of direct jobs in information and communications technology in India jumped from 284,000 to more than 2 million.

As per the data provided in the report, only 39 percent of women in India were internet users compared to 61 percent of men in 2013.

The report cites that off-grid solar photovoltaic technologies will generate 90 direct and indirect jobs per megawatt in India.

For India, unpaid work, predominantly performed by women, is estimated at 39 percent of GDP.

It further stated that India’s workforce participation of women is declining — from 35 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2013.

In 38 countries, including India, Pakistan, Mexico and Uganda, 80 percent women were unbanked.

Globally, 74 million youth were unemployed. In India, over 10 percent of youth were unemployed, the report says.

Haoliang Xu, assistant administrator and director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, said: “The availability and quality of work are key for human development in Asia and the Pacific, a region that is home to two-thirds of the world’s working-age population.

“In order to ensure that the work-force is capable of adapting to rapidly changing demands, the governments need to make strategic investments into education and health care.”

Commending the Indian government for its leadership role in the design and adoption of the Sustain Development Goals, Yuri Afansasiev, UN resident coordinator and UN resident representative in India, said: “With national development programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Skill India, Digital India, and Make in India in place, the government of India is on a strong footing for the SDGs.

“A greater focus on work, especially for women and youth will undoubtedly ensure success in the achievement of Agenda 2030.”

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India’s packaged food market to be worth $50 billion by 2017

Dec 13, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– India’s packaged food business has grown manifold, and it is estimated to grow to $50 billion by 2017 from $32 billion at present, a survey said on Sunday.

“There has been a major shift in food habits in metropolitan cities. About 79 percent of households prefer to have instant food due to steep rise in double incomes, standard of living and convenience,” said an Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) survey.

packagedIt found that 76 percent of parents in big cities, mostly both working and with children under the age of five, are serving easy-to-make meals at least 10-12 times every month in some form or the other.

“The consumption of packaged food is much higher in the urban areas, especially metros, where life is fastpaced, attracting a lot more companies to launch new types of products and variants,” Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat said in a statement.

India’s packaged food market is characterised by a large divide between urban, semi-urban and rural consumers.

Urban areas account for 80 percent of the demand for all packaged food, the report said.

The main packaged food include bakery and dairy products, canned and frozen processed food, ready-to-eat meals, diet snacks, processed meat, health products and drinks.

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Paris Agreement draws applause, some concerns remain

Dec 13, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– The Paris agreement on climate change was largely welcomed by stakeholders in India and abroad, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, but there was also the concern that the rich countries could have done more to save the planet from the effects of global warming.

Prakash Javadekar

Prakash Javadekar

Modi hailed the agreement on climate change as the collective wisdom of world leaders to mitigate the danger, adding that there were no winners or losers in the outcome of the agreement.

“Deliberations at the 21st Conference of Parties (CoP21) and Paris Agreement demonstrate the collective wisdom of world leaders to mitigate climate change,” Modi said on Sunday. The outcome of the Paris agreement has no winners or losers; climate justice has won, he said.

The landmark Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted by 196 countries, committing them to curb global warming to well below two degrees Celsius and outline a roadmap to raise $100 billion annually towards a green fund for developing nations.

“For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

US President Barack Obama called the agreement a “turning point for the world” and said it sent powerful signal that the world was firmly committed to a low-carbon future.

Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar said the pact could have been more ambitious as the commitment from rich nations was “much below” what was expected of them, but the basic concept of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ was largely addressed.

“To achieve big things as there are languages and many issues, when 196 countries are putting their efforts together, one needs to be accommodative without changing the thrust of the agreement. We’ve done everything to maintain that thrust,” Javadekar said.

“Today is a historic day. What we have adopted today is not only an agreement but a new chapter of hope in the lives of seven billion people,” the minister said at the closing plenary in Paris.

“Today we reassure our future generation that we all will mitigate the challenge posed by climate change and give them a better future.”

At the Conference of Parties (CoP), India provided leadership to the interests of the developing countries and lesser developed countries, Minister of Power Piyush Goyal said after the Paris accord was adopted.

“At CoP 21,196 countries assembled to tackle the most difficult problem facing our planet. 1,600 dissent points reduced to 0 in 10 days,” Goyal said.

Nirmala Sitharaman, minister for commerce and industry, also applauded India’s role at the CoP 21 and hoped for climate equity and justice for India.

However, environment protection organisation Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) called the deal “weak and unambitious” as it erases the historical responsibility of the developed countries.

“The draft Paris agreement continues to be weak and unambitious, as it does not include any meaningful targets for developed countries to reduce their emissions,” said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE, in a statement.

Narain added that the agreement did not operationalise equity and that the term carbon budget did not even find mention in the text, which would end up furthering “climate apartheid”.

CSE analyses that India will be under constant pressure to take more burden for mitigating climate change by 2020 and beyond, especially when the next review of all the nationally determined contributions of countries take place.

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India, Japan ink 3 agreements for railway cooperation

Dec 13, 2015 0

NEW DELHI– India’s railway ministry on Sunday said three agreements has been signed with Japan during the ongoing visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, including on a loan for high-speed rail link between Ahmedabad and Mumbai using Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train technology.

Modi-Japan“The (Japanese) loan is for a period of 50 years with a moratorium of 15 years, at an interest rate of 0.1 percent,” said a railway ministry statement.

A joint feasibility study for the project was conducted by the Indian Railways and Japan International Cooperation Agency in July this year. The cost of the 505-km corridor is estimated at just under Rs.100,000 crore ($15 billion).

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said on Saturday that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project will be completed in seven years.

Two other partnership agreements with Japan on rail sector will also address many issues including safety, cleanliness and research being faced by Indian Railways for years.

There will be comprehensive technological cooperation with Japan including sharing of information and best practices, exchanges of officials and technicians, conducting joint research and studies, the statement said.

The agreements also envisage cooperation in areas of safety in train operation, advanced techniques of maintenance and use of environment-friendly technologies, among other areas.

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US rate hike decision to determine Indian markets’ movements

Dec 13, 2015 0

By Rohit Vaid
MUMBAI– An imminent US rate hike, coupled with upcoming macro data and developments on passing the goods and services tax (GST) bill passage during the winter session of parliament, will dictate the trajectory of not only Indian equities but also the rupee during the week ahead, market observers said on Sunday.

Bombay Stock Exchange

Bombay Stock Exchange

“The focal point will be the outcome of the US Federal Reserve (US Fed) meeting. The probability of a rate rise up to 25 basis points is now more than 70 percent. The US Fed driven volatility and year-end inactivity will keep the markets on a leash,” Devendra Nevgi, chief executive of ZyFin Advisors, told IANS.

“Global cues remain important, including the movement of the yuan.”

The chances of a US interest rate hike has been heightened with positive macro economic data and after US Fed Chairperson Janet Yellen said that she is looking forward to an interest rate hike, which will be seen as a testament to the country’s economic recovery.

The US Fed will conduct its FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting on Wednesday. A hike in interest rates which have been at near-zero levels since the last decade will send shock waves across the world’s capital markets.

A rate hike could potentially lead to a massive pull-back of foreign funds from emerging economies like India. It is expected to dent business margins as access to capital from the US will become expensive.

In addition to the US, Indian markets can come in for a bombardment as frantic dollar buying will devalue the rupee.

On a weekly basis, the rupee weakened by 17 paise at 66.89 (66.8850) (December 11) to a US dollar from its previous close of 66.70 (December 4).

“The rupee value is expected to be under pressure till the Fed conducts its FOMC,” Anindya Banerjee, associate vice president for currency derivatives with Kotak Securities, told IANS.

“It is expected that the Fed will likely increase the interest rates during its meeting slated for next week. This will not only dent the Indian rupee but all the other EM (emerging market) currencies as well.”

Moreover, the FOMC decision will point to the future course of action of foreign investors, who have been on a selling spree in the Indian markets since March.

“It would be interesting to see the Fed’s roadmap for the next 12 months as it will certainly influence the decisions of foreign investors. This is extremely relevant for Indian markets,” Pankaj Sharma, head of equities for Equirus Securities, told IANS.

The National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) figures showed that the FPIs (Foreign Portfolio Investors) were net sellers during the week ended December 11. They sold Rs.3,495.29 crore or $522.98 million in equity and debt markets during December 7-11.

The data with stock exchanges showed that the FPIs sold stocks worth Rs.1,437.46 crore in the week ended December 11.

Besides, foreign investors have taken out Rs.23,352 crore during August-September. In November, foreign investors off-loaded stocks worth around Rs.9,000 crore.

The silver lining on the cloudy horizon is the hope that consensus finally builds between the government and the opposition on the GST bill.

“One big hope locally is that the Congress may allow the GST bill to go through after the party’s strategy of linking the National Herald case with disruption in parliament has not really been successful,” Sharma cited.

Besides the GST, volatility is expected next week on account of other major events like the release of domestic inflation data points of the consumer price index (CPI) and wholesale price index (WPI).

“Investors will watch out for consumer inflation data on Monday which is expected to inch up marginally to 5.4 percent. The US will also release its core CPI data on Tuesday which could impact the markets,” Vaibhav Agarwal, vice president and research head at Angel Broking, told IANS.

Furthermore, the Indian markets are expected to open Monday’s trade on a positive note after domestic monthly factory output data showed robust growth, Agarwal said.

The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data showed that India’s factory output rose sharply by 9.8 percent in October, due mainly to a robust 10.6-percent growth in the manufacturing sector.

The growth had decelerated to 3.84 percent in October, and was at (-)2.7 percent last October.

The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (S&P Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), declined by 594 points or 2.31 percent to 25,044.43 points from its previous weekly close at 25,638.11 points.

Similarly, the wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) receded during the week under review. It ended lower by 171.45 points or 2.20 percent to 7,610.45 points.

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TAPI pipeline will integrate South, Central Asia

Dec 13, 2015 0

MARY, Turkmenistan– Assuring his country’s “constructive and cooperative approach” to the project, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari said on Sunday that the much-awaited TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline will help integrate economies of South and Central Asia.

“The idea of an economically-integrated South and Central Asia is an idea whose time has come,” Ansari said at the ground-breaking ceremony of the ambitious project in this Turkmen city.

India's Vice President Hamid Ansari

India’s Vice President Hamid Ansari

Among others present at the ground-breaking ceremony of the 1,800-km-long TAPI gas pipeline were Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Describing TAPI as much more than a gas pipeline project for the four countries, Ansari said that it was a reflection of the common desire of the four member countries to re-connect themselves.

“We are seeking to reclaim our shared geography and revitalise an age-old legacy of our mutually enriching interactions. The launch of TAPI also marks the first step towards fulfilling the vision of an economically integrated region stretching from the Bay of Bengal to the Caspian Sea,” he said.

He said the fact that the ground-breaking ceremony was being conducted in the historic Silk Road city of Mary – earlier known as Merv – was entirely appropriate as “it was here, centuries ago, that caravans carrying goods paused to refresh themselves and thereby bestow on generations to come a colourful tapestry of mutually beneficial exchanges”.

Thanking President Berdimuhamedow for his “untiring leadership and the strength of your commitment towards TAPI”, Ansari also lauded Ghani and Sharif for their active involvement in the project.

“Your strong support for TAPI reflects your interest in securing the economic future of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively. Your personal commitment to the success of our common venture augurs well for the entire region and for the people of all our countries,” he said.

The Indian vice president said India would take a constructive and cooperative approach towards addressing issues related to the TAPI project.

“We are confident that all issues can be addressed through a spirit of mutual accommodation and sharing of costs and benefits,” Ansari said.

Conceived in the 1990s, initially Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed a framework agreement to implement the ambitious project after a meeting in Islamabad in 2002 and the preliminary feasibility studies were done by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The Indian government requested the ADB for joining the project as an official member in 2006 and became a permanent member during the 10th steering committee meeting in 2008.

With construction expected to be completed in three years, the TAPI pipeline is expected to last 30 years with a proposed annual capacity of transporting 33 billion cubic metres of gas from Turkmenistan’s mammoth Galkynysh field, the world’s second largest reservoir of natural gas.

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Retail businesses underestimated Indian consumers

Dec 12, 2015 0

BENGALURU– Retail businesses and brands have underestimated the Indian consumer so far and have only concentrated on profits and expansion, said a top industry executive on Thursday.

“I think brands and businesses have underestimated (consumers) so far. Every company wants some topline growth. I believe the focus is shifted only to numbers and not in what the product should mean for them and what is the value that consumer gets of that product,” said Reliance Ecommerce head Chandrima Pareek said at the South India Retail Summit 2015.

In the long run, Pareek said, sustainability should be the focus than mere numbers.

A galaxy of top Indian retail executives gathered at summito deliberate on the state of retail industry and touched upon various factors influencing the industry.

PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC) associate director Rashmi Nair highlighted Indian consumers are reluctant to share their credit information online.

“Security of online transaction continues to be a concern, with reluctance to share financial information online,” she said.

Stressing upon the importance of interactive shopping experience, AT Kearney principal Siddarth Jain called upon retailers to deliver a dynamic and interactive shopping experience.

“India is on the cusp of a digital revolution with 45 percent of urban Indian youngsters shopping online monthly,” he said.

However, senior vice president Gautam Kotamraju pointed out that infrastructure is a huge challenge in India for retail industry.

“Infrastructure is a huge problem in India which will stem the growth and expansion of market. Government should understand that as ecommerce players expand, we bring in more liquidity in the market,” he said.

He said 4G service being rolled out across India is not satisfactory while digitalization remain a challenge.

Kotamraju said ecommerce players should be excluded from the ambit of Goods and Services Tax (GST) as they were only service providers.

According to Pareek, share of ecommerce in retail industry is only 0.4 percent in India compared to 12 percent in the US.

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India asks US to push technology transfer approvals

Dec 12, 2015 0

By Arun Kumar

WASHINGTON– Citing “numerous positive changes” in the defence field in India, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has asked the US to reciprocate positively for technology transfer approvals and leverage opportunities created by New Delhi.

Manohar Parrikar

Manohar Parrikar

“In the past one year, there have been sincere attempts from the Indian Ministry of Defence to change the mindset,” he said at a roundtable with senior executives of American and Indian aerospace and defence companies.

“Numerous positive changes have been incorporated through the revision of the offset policy and the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP),” Parrikar said at the event organised by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) Wednesday.

“The US government needs to reciprocate positively for technology transfer approvals and leverage opportunities created by the procedural changes in Indian defence procurement,” he said.

Apart from a Ministry of Defence delegation accompanying Parrikar, US Under Secretary of Defence Frank Kendall, and both US and Indian Ambassadors also attended the meeting.

Discussions focused on pushing the needle forward on ‘Make in India’ and challenges around technology transfer, according to a media release.

Over the past year, scientists and engineers from the two militaries have conducted five workshops in Autonomy, Cognitive Sciences, Directed Energy, Materials, and Munitions/ CIED. More workshops, including one on manufacturing, are expected soon.

Welcoming the minister, USIBC president Mukesh Aghi said, “The past decade has been a period in which our bilateral security ties have seen robust growth, not just in value, but in the level of technical partnership as well.”

Noting that Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) has become a key part of India-US defence relationship, Kendall said the two sides had identified many new areas for cooperative research and development.

Both sides are also committed to continue to exchange ideas in the search for additional projects for possible co-development and co-production that meet the spirit of DTTI, he said.

Pathfinder projects under DTTI include the Raven mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), “roll-on, roll-off” mission modules for C-130J aircraft, Mobile Electric Hybrid Power Sources (MEHPS) and Next Generation Protective Ensemble (NGPE) for soldiers.

As many as 17 new ideas for cooperation under the DTTI are also being discussed. The US proposed 11 new ideas for possible cooperation while India has offered six new proposals.

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India imposes anti-dumping duty on steel to curb imports

Dec 12, 2015 0

NEW DELHI–The Indian government on Thursday imposed anti-dumping duty, ranging from five percent to a whopping 57 percent, on cold rolled steel from China, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and the US to curb its imports.

According to an official notification, anti-dumping duty of 9.47 percent has been levied on stainless steel from the US, 29.41 to 52.56 percent from European Union (EU) and 5.39 percent from Thailand. Import from China will attract highest levy — 57.39 percent.

“Though the volume of imports has declined after anti-dumping duties were imposed five years ago in 2010, dumping of cold rolled flat products has been continuing from many producing countries,” the notification said.

The dumping of imported steel also affected the domestic industry’s production and sales and diversion of their products to end-users.

The latest attempt comes in wake of the 20 percent import tax failed to check cheaper imports, resulting in losses to domestic producers such as the state-run Steel Authority of India Ltd.

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US firm to set up $100 million solar plant in Karnataka

Dec 12, 2015 0

BENGALURU– US-based Triton Solar would set up a $100-million (Rs.670 crore) plant in Karnataka to manufacture nanotech-powered solar panels for the renewable energy sector, an official statement said on Thursday.

Triton Solar panel

Triton Solar panel

An agreement to set up the hi-tech facility was signed by Triton’s Indian-born chief executive Himanshu B. Patel and state’s Additional Chief Secretary Ratna Prabha in New York last week.

Prabha was in the US along with state Industries Minister R.V. Deshpande on a roadshow to woo American investors and enterprises to the ensuing ‘Invest Karnataka 2016’ event on February 3-5, 2016 in Bengaluru.

“Triton will ‘make in Karnataka’ solar panels for the world and its investment will generate 250 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs,” Deshpande said in the statement here.

The New Jersey-headquartered Triton makes printed solar panels, lighting and batteries using nanotechnology.

The statement, however, did not disclose the proposed plant’s location and other specifics.

“I am confident of producing world class solar products from Karnataka,” the statement said quoting Patel.

Patel, who founded Triton, also lauded the state government for facilitating its investment and supporting its foray into the southern state.

Using nanotechnology, Triton also makesAprintable batteries, printable lighting and printable solar panels.

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