Mizoram to get first regional agricultural centre with Israeli collaboration

Feb 21, 2018 0

Guwahati– A regional centre for agriculture set up with Israeli collaboration will be inaugurated in Mizoram — the first of its kind in the northeast region — on March 7.

The centre has been set up to exclusively process citrus fruits.

Israel will provide the expertise and professional support to run the centre, which will cater to the entire northeast, Israel Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon said during a meeting with Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Jitendra Singh.

An official statement said that the project was a result of the collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and the governments of Israel and Mizoram.

There are 22 such centres operational in India, including in Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. The first such centre was established in 2008 in Haryana.

Carmon said that Israel wants to establish one centre in each of the remaining states in India in the future.

The Ministry for the Development of North Eastern Region will coordinate wherever required.

“It will benefit the farmers of northeastern region in the long run. It will also serve as a model of learning for other countries in the Indian subcontinent,” Singh added. (IANS)

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India contributes $1 mn for Tonga devastated by Cyclone Gita: UN

Feb 21, 2018 0

By Arul Louis

United Nations– India in contributing $1 million for relief efforts in the Pacific Ocean Kingdom of Tonga that was devastated by Cyclone Gita last week, according to the UN.

Of that $500,000 would be given as immediate relief to Tonga and another $500,000 would be allocated to it from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund (I-UNDPF), the UN Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) announced Monday.

“Following the assessment of the damages caused and priorities needing support, the Government of Tonga will identify the rehabilitation projects to be supported through the I-UNDPF,” UNOSSC said.

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the Category 4 cyclone was the worst on record to hit Tonga.

Cyclones of that intensity can have gusts between 225 and 279 kilometres per hour.

The nation’s parliament was destroyed by the storm, which caused extensive damage across the archipelago.

The International Red Cross said that according to initial assessments about 70 per cent of Tonga’s population are affected. Tongatapu, where the capital of the country’s capital NukuEalofa is situated, is among the worst hit areas, it said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a message of sympathy to Tonga’s Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva, according to a press release from the Suva, Fiji-based Indian High Commission that also covers Tonga.

“India stands in solidarity with the friendly people of the Kingdom of Tonga in this difficult hour of adversity,” Modi said in his message offering the $1 million aid, according to a High Commission press release on Twitter.

The first project under the I-UNDPF is a Climate Early Warning Systems in Pacific Island Countries including the Cook Islands, which covers Tonga and other island nations in the region, UNOSSC said.

“The project aims to increase resilience from natural disasters of these seven Pacific island countries and contribute toward the Sustainable Development Goal of Climate Action,” it added. (IANS)

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Dyson launches in India, opens first demo store

Feb 15, 2018 0

New Delhi– Global technology company Dyson on Thursday said it has launched its latest products, including cord-free vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and its range of intelligent air purifiers, in India at its first demo store here.

The company, which is also the developer of high-performance machines, said it will invest over Rs 1,200 crore in India over the next five years and will expand at a fast pace opening a total of 20 stores in the country.

“We are launching a range of products using our patented technology which we believe will bring meaningful benefits,” said Jake Dyson, Chief Engineer and member of the Dyson Board.

Headquartered in Britain’s Malmesbury, the James Dyson-founded company holds 7,500 patents worldwide and is focused on combining hardware, software and algorithms to make intelligent machines. (IANS)

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India reassures aid for Iraq rebuilding process

Feb 14, 2018 0

New Delhi– India on Wednesday assured its commitment to help war-torn Iraq in its rebuilding process while complimenting the nation for its victory over the Islamic State (IS) terror outfit.

“India responded to the need for humanitarian assistance even while the war was at its peak in Iraq: among other things, in August 2016, we proposed to reconstruct the hospital in Karbala,” Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said while speaking at the International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq in Kuwait.

“India responded to the urgent needs of Iraq for relief and economic reconstruction both directly and as part of international efforts under UN auspices,” Akbar said, adding that on the UN Secretary General’s urgent appeal, India contributed $20 million for assistance to the Iraqi people.

He said that under this pledge, India provided milk food supplies through World Food Programme, and along with it, provided assistance to Iraqi school children and Iraqi refugees in Syria. It also trained Iraqi Foreign Service officers in diplomacy, and other Iraqi officials in information technology.

“In addition, India contributed $10 million towards the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq for investments, reconstruction and development in Iraq.”

Akbar said that the conference offered an opportunity for the world to congratulate the people and government of Iraq for their historic victory over a “vicious contemporary menace” of IS, and its allies, “who used a volatile fusion of false ideology and barbaric terrorism to become a regional epicentre of upheaval and violence against innocent civilians and legitimate government”.

“We must win both the battle and the argument,” he said, adding the answer to terrorism lies in security, prosperity and reaffirmation of sovereignty and “the three sustain each other; any indifference or complacency towards any side of this triangle will make the rehabilitation process infructuous”.

On behalf of India, Akbar also also complimented all those nations which, directly or indirectly, came together to defeat the regressive and extremist forces that spread their tentacles far beyond Iraq.

Terming terrorism, fundamentalism and extremism the scourge of the 21st century, he said: “We must be united in our defence of pluralism and civilisation without ifs and buts. There is no ‘good terrorism’ or ‘bad terrorism’: all terror is an unmitigated evil. India has always supported a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal and unified Iraq.”

Akbar also appealed to the international community for early adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN.

He said India continued to assist Iraq in capacity building through training of Iraqi officials under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme and to broadbase services, also established a Consulate General office in Erbil.

Welcoming Baghdad’s announcement that it was now open for investment, he said India would play its part with project-specific proposals.

“We support the important role assigned to private sector investors in rebuilding of the terrorist-affected areas in Iraq,” Akbar said, adding India was willing to play a substantive role in major projects in petrochemicals, health, education, infrastructure and other sectors. (IANS)

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IBM eyeing BFSI, telecom sector for growth in India

Feb 14, 2018 0

By Krishna SinhaChaudhury

Mumbai– When it comes to digital transformation, sectors like the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI), and telecom, will become the growth engines for India and IBM is ready to meet the technology requirements, a top company executive has said.

“The biggest growth for us is going to come from the financial services. We are going to consolidate telco and look at new revenue streams because telco is an industry that is turning on its head. There’s going to be a lot of conversations around integrated telcos which is getting into network domains,” Lula Mohanty, Managing Partner, IBM Global Business Services, told IANS in an interview.

IBM organised a two-day “The THINK Forum” here on February 12-13 attended by senior IBM and key business leaders from across the country who discussed the future of business and technologies that will shape the economy and society.

“The third vertical which we are very interested in is what’s going on in the domain of the retail industry in terms of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms as a service on products,” she noted.

When it comes to skilling and preparing a workforce for New-Age technologies like Artificial Intellignece (AI), robotics, Big Data and IoT, IBM is working with some of the state governments via skill development centres.

“We are also in talks with NITI Aayog and other learning and development organisations to understand what is the platform that we can put in place to skill more people,” Mohanty told IANS.

IBM recently announced a collaboration with the Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC) to spur emerging technology skills in the domestic telecom industry.

IBM’s student developers’ programme (career education) that infuses software capabilities that are industry-specific and market-relevant has helped more than 24,000 students and faculty members develop industry-relevant software capabilities.

Present in India since 1951, IBM India has expanded its operations with regional headquarters in Bengaluru and offices across 20 cities.

With the aim to help Indian enterprises deliver next-generation consumer experiences, global consulting agency Bluewolf, an IBM company, also announced a new practice in the country with “Salesforce”, a global leader in the customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

The dedicated practice will leverage Bluewolf’s expertise and delivery capabilities in Augmented Reality (AR) and innovation strategy — combined with IBM’s leadership in cognitive and design-thinking with “Watson” — to help clients connect customer experience to value.

IBM currently manages 100-200 customers for the Salesforce practice in the country and expects the number to grow significantly in the coming years as enterprises and government agencies begin riding on digital transformation initiatives.

“India is one of the highest-growth markets for Salesforce,” said Sunil Jose, Senior Vice President and Country Leader, Salesforce India.

“We will continue to double our investments in the country. We welcomed our 1,000th employee in India in November last year. We will hire 1,000 more employees in Hyderabad alone by 2020,” Jose told IANS.

“We already have a strong base in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi. India is the market that is continuously growing for us,” Jose added.

Highlighting the strategy for the country, he said: “To drive business value, success and growth for its customers, Salesforce will focus on customer-centric digital transformation.”

The customer relationship management (CRM) solutions provider also has a “Centre of Excellence” in Hyderabad, which is its first major centre in India. (IANS)

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China introduces changes in restrictions on overseas investment

Feb 12, 2018 0

Beijing– China has restricted the investments its companies can make overseas in several sectors including property, hotels and equity investment funds while easing curbs in sectors like electricity and telecoms, it was reported on Monday.

The National Development and Reform Commission has updated its list of “sensitive sectors” in which investment in other countries will be restricted. The new list will be effective from March 1, the People’s Daily reported.

Under the new regulation, Chinese companies wanting to invest overseas in projects concerning telecom, large-scale land development, electric mains and power grids will only need to complete record filings with the authorities like other common sectors without the need for special official approval.

These sectors have been removed from the “sensitive sectors” list for the first time since 2014.

Among the sectors added to the list by the Commission were the arms industry, investment in property, hotels, cinemas, entertainment, sports clubs and equity investment funds, Efe news cited the daily as saying.

Cross-border water resource development and news media were retained on the list. The decision was part of the government’s desire to reduce “irrational investment” overseas.

China’s non-financial outbound direct investment in 2017 fell 29.4 per cent year-on-year to $120.08 billion. (IANS)

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India, Guyana sign three agreements

Jan 30, 2018 0

New Delhi– In a bid to enhance New Delhi’s ties with the Caribbean region, India and Guyana on Tuesday signed three agreements, including on renewable energy and cultural exchange, following bilateral talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Second Vice President and Foreign Minister of Guyana Carl B. Greenidge here.

“Three memorandums of understanding (MoUs), namely, renewable energy, cultural exchange programme and framework agreement on International Solar Alliance (ISA) were signed,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

“Guyanese delegation also presented the Instrument of Ratification of the International Solar Alliance,” it stated.

The India-initiated ISA, launched at the UN Conference of Parties (CoP) climate summit in Paris on November 30, 2015, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, is conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

According to the External Affairs Ministry statement, Sushma Swaraj, during the meeting, referred to the historical and multifaceted ties between the two sides.

“The subsequent discussions focused on further strengthening India-Guyana bilateral relations, through cooperation in capacity building, promotion of business and trade, enhancement of people to people contact, cooperation on pharmaceuticals, sharing India’s experience in information technology by setting up IT centres of excellence in Georgetown,” the statement said.

Views were also exchanged on regional and multilateral issues such as climate change, solar alliance and UN Security Council reforms.

Bilateral trade between India and Guyana stood at $34.58 million in 2016-17.

India has done some high-visibility projects under line of credit (LoC) in Guyana, including a cricket stadium, traffic lights in capital Georgetown and supply of 14 irrigation drainage pumps.

An LoC of $17.50 million for modernisation of three primary health centres has been approved by the Indian government.

Guyana is also home to a large number of people of Indian origin, comprising nearly 40 per cent of the country’s total population of around 738,000.

Most of them are descendants of indentured labour taken from India in the 19th century and early 20th century to work in sugarcane plantations. (IANS)

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Sri Lanka receives highest ever FDI in 2017

Jan 29, 2018 0

Colombo– Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Sri Lanka reached an all-time high of $1.63 billion in 2017, doubling from the $802 million received during the previous year, Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment (BOI) said in a statement on Monday.

The highest FDI came from China, followed by India and Singapore.

BOI, the agency tasked with promoting and facilitating FDIs, reported that the number achieved in 2017 was the highest ever, surpassing the $1.61 billion mark in 2014, with solid growth across key sectors.

“The strong growth is a direct consequence of the government’s reorientation of economic policy towards investment and export-driven growth, rather than debt-funded public infrastructure spending,” the BOI statement said, reports Xinhua.

Among the highest growth sectors were export-oriented manufacturing and services, which includes tourism, IT and infrastructure.

Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama said that while Sri Lanka had achieved strong FDI results in 2017, the country had only scratched the surface of its full potential.

“This is not a time for complacency but renewed focus to use the momentum to strengthen reforms to improve our Ease of Doing Business ranking, and efforts to attract high-quality investors from countries we have renewed bilateral relationships with,” the minister said.

He added that the country’s target was to achieve $5 billion in FDI per year by 2020 and it was confident of achieving $2.5 billion of FDI in 2018. (IANS)

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31% growth in Indian tourists visiting Israel

Jan 29, 2018 0

New Delhi– Israel has registered a record 31 per cent growth in tourist arrivals from India, with about 60,000 Indian tourists arriving in the country in 2017, according to data released by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism.

“Israel, for the second consecutive year, has broken its tourism record of Indian arrivals, reaching an all-time high of 31 per cent growth from January to December 2017 with around 60,000 Indian tourists visiting the country. This marks a whopping growth of 48 per cent in the last two years,” an official release said.

Hassan Madah, Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism India and Philippines, said India has been an important market and Israel has witnessed constant growth in arrivals over the last four years.

“The past year has been outstanding, and by far the best year for Israel tourism in India and worldwide. With over 20 million outbound tourists a year, India has been an important market for us,” he said.

He hoped that Indian tourist arrivals will go up to one lakh in 2018 with initiatives such as ease in the process of visa issuance and better connectivity.

The release said there has been a renewed interest in all travel segments among Indians to visit the Israel following the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India and the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel last year.

It added that there is also growing interest among Bollywood producers to shoot in Israel. (IANS)

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India-Cambodia summit meeting on Saturday

Jan 26, 2018 0

New Delhi– Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a bilateral summit meeting with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen here on Saturday, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday.

“Tomorrow, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is here with a large delegation, will be on a State visit,” Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said at a media briefing here.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will call on Hun Sen on Saturday morning following which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold delegation-level talks with the Cambodian leader.

Hun Sen will also call on President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday.

Hun Sen arrived here on Wednesday to attend the Commemorative Summit hosted by India on Thursday to mark 25 years of the India-Asean Dialogue Partnership.

The Cambodian leader was among the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Heads of State or government who attended Friday’s Republic Day celebrations here as guests of honour, a first in the history of independent India.

The Asean comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

India is a major developmental aid partner for Cambodia and has so far extended lines of credit totalling $65.20 million to the Southeast Asian nation for water development and transmission line projects.

India-Cambodia trade basket is small and stood at a little over $153 million in 2016, according to figures provided by the External Affairs Ministry.

Hun Sen last visited India in 2012 to participate in the Commemorative Summit to mark the 20th anniversary of the India-Asean Dialogue Partnership, during the course of which he held a bilateral summit with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. (IANS)

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