Indian Business Briefs

Jan 29, 2016 0

Obama: Both U.S. and India Can Increase Trade and Investment
President Obama welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to cut red tape and make it easier for doing business in India. In an interview to PTI, Obama said that both countries can do even more to increase trade and investment that create jobs in both nations. “The United States continues to look at our export controls to make sure Indian companies have the same access to American technology as our closest allies,” Obama said.

Ambassador: Partnership Between U.S. Innovation, Indian Startups
There is a deep partnership between innovation in the U.S. and startups in India, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Arun K. Singh said, days after Prime Minister Modi launched the ambitious Startup India program in New Delhi. “In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of energy in the startup domain in India,” Singh told in a recent interview.

Report: Foreign Investment to India Doubles to $59 Billion in 2015
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow to India nearly doubled to $59 billion in 2015, largely boosted by steps taken by the Government to improve the investment climate, according to UNCTAD’s latest report on global investment flows. Globally, FDI flows surged 36 percent to an estimated $1.7 trillion, their highest level since the financial crisis of 2008-09.

Govt. To Organize India Investment Summit from Feb.4-6, 2016
The Finance Ministry will organize an “India Investment Summit” during February 4-6, 2016 in New Delhi. A large number of long-term investors are expected to participate in the Summit. Apart from infrastructure related Federal Ministries and Departments, many State Govts. will also take part.

International Solar Alliance to Have Headquarters in India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of France Francois Hollande laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) headquarters in Gwalpahari, Gurgaon. The ISA is part of Modi’s vision to bring clean and affordable energy within the reach of all and create a sustainable world.

Govt. Creates Body to Speed Up Incorporation
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has launched the Central Registration Centre with the objective of providing speedy incorporation related services within stipulated time frames which are in line with international best practices. The body will further automate the approval processes by utilizing advanced software tools and engines, rationalizing and modifying rules and engaging professionals to expedite the process of manual scrutiny.

Global Accounting Standards for Banks, Insurance Firms
The Government has issued the roadmap for implementation of globally accepted accounting standards for commercial banks, insurance companies and non-banking financial companies. The new accounting standards have been converged with International Financial Reporting Standards.

Cabinet OKs New Power Tariff Policy
The Cabinet has allowed amendments to the national tariff policy that provide for differential power prices in a day, and allow power companies to pass on central taxes to consumers and expand existing generation capacity by 100 percent. “The new amendment would allow consumers to become producers of electricity,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal said.

Shipyards Gain Infrastructure Status
The Government has granted infrastructure status to the shipyard industry, a move aimed at promoting the “Make in India” initiative. With the infrastructure status, the shipyard industry will be able to receive flexible structuring of long-term project loans, long-term funding from infrastructure funds at lower interest rates and other benefits.

IMF Keeps India Two-Year Growth Forecast at 7.5%
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) retained India’s growth forecast for the next two years in its latest update of the World Economic Outlook.The update released expects the Indian economy to grow 7.5% in Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018, the fastest among major economies.

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Telangana to be most preferred technology investment destination

Jan 26, 2016 0

HYDERABAD– Telangana has conceived a unique Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy to make the state the most preferred technology investment destination in the country, Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan said on Tuesday.

In his address at the main Republic Day celebrations at Parade Grounds here, he said that the youngest state of India is seen as a global investment destination given its progressive policies in infrastructure and power.

Telangana Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan with Prime Minister Modi (Photo: Wikipedia)

Telangana Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan with Prime Minister Modi

Narasimhan, who is the governor of the two Telugu states, rushed to Hyderabad after unfurling national flag and reviewing the parade at the main celebrations at Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, his cabinet colleagues and top officials attended the ceremony.

The governor pointed out that Telangana has notched up IT exports of Rs.68,258 crore with as many as 1,300 companies including 500 global firms having their operations.

The IT Infrastructure Region (ITIR) being promoted with the central support in and around Hyderabad is geared up to generate IT exports of Rs.235,000 crore eventually with a projected direct employment of nearly 15 lakh and indirect employment of nearly 53 lakh. This may fetch additional tax revenue to the state of over Rs.30,000 crore.

The state launched T-Hub, the largest startup incubator in the country, with 70,000 square feet space in Hyderabad. The second phase with an investment of Rs.150 crore and built up area of 3 lakh square feet is scheduled for rollout by the end of this year.

Under its investor friendly initiative TS-iPASSs, the state has attracted Rs.25,000 crore investment by permission for setting up of 1,013 industrial units with employment potential of 75,000.

Narasimhan pointed out that Hyderabad accounts for 20 percent of India’s total pharma exports. The government plans to set up new pharma city with public private partnership to cement the state as a leader of pharma sector.

Several mega industrial programmes like Hyderabad-Warangal industrial corridor and textile hub at Warangal were initiated to kickstart the economy and enhance employment opportunities for youth.

He said the state created a landmark with a budgetary outlay of more than Rs.1.15 lakh crore for 2015-16 with a plan allocation of more than Rs.52,000 crore. Under this, the per capital plan allocation has doubled compared to financial year 2013-14.

The government is spending Rs.43,000 crore exclusively on welfare sector. “This testimony of the commitment to significantly improve public spending for the development of the state,” he said.

He said the government through its policies and strategies ended chronic power deficit and made the state free from bane of power cuts. The goal is to make available 25,000 megawatt of additional power.

Mission Kakatiya, one of the flagship programmes, is aimed at reviving 45,300 irrigation tanks with an outlay of Rs.22,500 crore over next five years.

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Time Inc. Names Finalists for Inaugural TIME India Awards

Jan 22, 2016 0

DAVOS, Switzerland–Time Inc. announced nine companies in sectors ranging from automobile engineering to steel manufacturing as the finalists for the inaugural TIME India Awards at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. McKinsey & Company is the knowledge partner on this project.

Time logoNorman Pearlstine, Chief Content Officer for Time Inc. will announce the winners at a ceremony in Mumbai on Feb. 13, at which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the guest of honor. The event will kick-off a weeklong series of events to mark the Indian government’s “Make in India” initiative to boost the country’s manufacturing sector.

The nine finalists were selected from a pool of approximately 3,000 manufacturing companies after a rigorous evaluation of qualitative and quantitative parameters.

A jury of leading international business figures will select the winners of the TIME India Awards in each category. Judges include General Electric Vice Chairman John Rice; Infosys Founder N.R. Narayana Murthy; ICICI Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar; Renault and Nissan Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn; TIME Assistant Managing Editor Rana Foroohar; and Kevin Sneader, Chairman, Asia, at McKinsey & Co. Pearlstine will chair the jury.

The awards encompass three categories: Best in Class Manufacturing, Manufacturing Innovator of the Year and Young Maker of the Year.

The finalists for the 2016 TIME India Awards:

Best in Class Manufacturing

Hindustan Unilever Limited

Shahi Exports Private Limited

Tata Steel Limited

Manufacturing Innovator of the Year

Hero MotoCorp Limited

Mahindra & Mahindra Limited

Samsung India Electronics Private Limited

Young Maker of the Year

Yogesh & Rajesh Agrawal, Ajanta Pharma Limited

Anant Vardhan Goenka, CEAT Limited

Anil Rai Gupta, Havells India Limited

Time Inc. is one of the world’s leading media companies, with a monthly global print audience of over 120 million and worldwide digital properties that attract more than 140 million visitors each month, including over 60 websites. Time’s influential brands include People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Time, Real Simple, and Southern Living, as well as more than 50 diverse titles in the United Kingdom.

McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm, deeply committed to helping institutions in the private, public and social sectors achieve lasting success. With consultants in more than 100 offices in over 60 countries, across industries and functions, McKinsey brings unparalleled expertise to clients anywhere in the world.

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India’s Start-ups Action Plan: Highlights

Jan 16, 2016 0

Following are major policy highlights of Start-ups Action Plan Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled on Saturday in New Delhi while launching the ambitious ‘Start-up India’ campaign to boost digital entrepreneurship at the grass-root level:

* Income Tax exemption for first three years

* Tax exemption on capital gains

* No inspection of start-ups for three years on labour and environment law compliance post-self certification.

* Compliance regime based on self-certification

* Single point of contact for Start-up India hub as friend, mentor and guide

* Corpus of Rs.10,000 crore through Fund of Funds, Initial corpus: Rs.2,500 crore

* Faster exit through a new insolvency and bankruptcy laws to wind up a start-up in three months (90 days)

* Mobile app will be launched on April 1 to register start-ups in a day

* Portal for clearances, approvals and registrations

* Atal Innovation Mission for impetus to innovation and encourage talent, sector-specific incubators, 500 tinkering labs, pre-incubation training and seed fund for high-growth

* Norms to be relaxed for public procurements. No requirement of turnover or experience, but no relaxation of quality

* Faster patent registration and protection for IPRs

* Fast-track mechanism for start-up patent applications

* Panel of legal facilitators for start-ups to file IPRs on patents, designs, trade marks

* 80 percent rebate on filing of patent applications

* Public-private partnership (PPP) model for 35 new incubators, 31 innovation centres at national institutes, seven research parks and five bio-clusters

* Innovation core programmes for 10 lakh students in five lakh schools across the country.

* National and international start-up festivals to provide visibility

* Annual incubator grand challenge to create world class incubators

* Credit guarantee fund for start-ups.

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Taj Group’s fourth luxury Mumbai hotel opens near airport

Jan 14, 2016 0

MUMBAI– The Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces on Thursday announced the opening of its fourth luxury property, the Taj Santacruz, in Mumbai near the airport here.

Located just off the Western Express Highway, it offers close access to the city’s financial and entertainment hubs and is minutes away from both the domestic and international terminals of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

Taj Santacruz Mumbai_Facade_Early morning

Taj Santacruz Mumbai_Facade_Early morning

“With its distinctive design, spacious rooms and warm service, Taj Santacruz is a luxurious new addition symbolic of the cultural melting pot that is quintessentially Mumbai and the hotel captures the spirit of the city,” said general manager Pankaj Sampat in a statement.

Taj Santacruz’s architecture, colours and styles mirrors the smorgasbord of cuisines, languages, art, cinema and festivals within its walls which are decorated with paintings and traditional sculptures by Indian artists.

“A benchmark for luxury in north Mumbai, Taj Santacruz will be an oasis for business and leisure travelers alike – it is the new jewel in the Taj crown,” said senior vice president, West India and Africa Operations, Farhat Jamal.

The hotel has 279 rooms and suites – among the largest in the city with a base of around 575 square feet, modular designs, luxuriously appointed amenities, ideal for fly-in fly-out business meetings.

Besides Taj Santacruz, the group already has its iconic first hotel Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Hotel President and the Wellington Mews, all in south Mumbai, and the Taj Land’s End in Bandra west.

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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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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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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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