Six Indian startups shortlisted for Google’s Launchpad Accelerator Program

May 12, 2016 0

New Delhi–Internet behemoth Google on Thursday announced it has shortlisted six Indian startups under the Google Launchpad Accelerator Program for mentorship at its headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.

Taskbob, Programming Hub, ShareChat, RedCarpet, PlaySimple Games and Magic Pin are the six startups which will start the programme on June 13, 2016.

Google“The six month long mentorship programme for mid to late stage start-ups will include $50,000 in equity-free funding, a two-week all-expenses paid bootcamp at Google headquarters, six months of ongoing mentorship and access to Google’s full suite of Launchpad initiatives and connections and product credits including Google Cloud and other products,” said a Google statement.

Google India program manager Paul Ravindranath said, “Access to good mentoring and advice at early to mid-stage has been a big gap which we are looking to fill. In our experience many startups struggle with UX, building scalable architectures and go to market strategy.”

He said the Launchpad Accelerator Program brings together mentors and experts from Google and outside to help the startups see success.

Mumbai-based Taskbob offers a range of home services, while Programming Hub, also from the same city provides an app to learn as many as 15 programming languages like Python, HTML, C and others.

ShareChat from Bengaluru is a social networking chat platform in Indian languages, which enables sharing videos, jokes, songs, images and others.

PlaySimple Games, also from Bengaluru, empowers a user to build simple and fun social games, the statement said.

While Delhi-based startup RedCarpet gives instant credit for online purchases to be paid by in installments.

MagicPin, another startup up from the national capital, enables users to discover local merchants and transact with them, it also provides a platform to offline merchants and shows their promotions and loyalty programs in real time.

As part of the second class of Launchpad Accelerator Program, the six startups will join 18 others from Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.

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India moving to be world leader in scientific research

May 12, 2016 0

New Delhi–President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday asserted that India is moving towards becoming the world leader in the field of scientific research.

“India is enviably placed among the top five nations in the field of space exploration. It is gradually inching towards becoming the leader in the field of scientific research,” Mukherjee said in his address at the National Technology Day celebrations.

Pranab Mukherjee

Pranab Mukherjee

He congratulated the entire community of Indian space scientists for their unique “Made in India” accomplishments.

“ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 35th flight recently, successfully launched a 1,425 kg satellite into the orbit. This was the seventh and the final satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System enabling us to enter an exclusive club of nations,” added the president.

He also emphasized that India must not rest on its laurels as the recent achievements should propel the country to further upgrade the existing technologies.

“With rapid changes occurring in science education and research, only those countries having a technological edge will emerge successful in the fiercely competitive global market,” Mukherjee said.

The president asserted that innovation is the antidote to stagnation.

“The youth of our country are brimming with ideas and enterprise. They are harnessing technology to find solutions to day-to-day problems of the common man,” he said insisting, “Ingenuity aided by technology can bring substantial welfare benefits.”

“With an estimated 4,300 start-ups, India is the third largest start-up eco-system in the world today. A central feature in this ‘start-up movement’ is the greater involvement of our youth,” Mukherjee said.

“In fact, 72 percent of the start-up founders in India are below the age of 35 years. The combined might of this talented breed of new-age entrepreneurs is there to be tapped,” added the President.(IANS)

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Deadline for TiE ScaleUp is May 20

May 11, 2016 0

CAMBRIDGE, MA—TiE-Boston is now accepting applications for its TiE ScaleUp program, which creates a new model for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business beyond seed financing. The deadline for filing an application is May 20.

Satish Tadikonda (Photo: INDIA New England)

Satish Tadikonda (Photo: INDIA New England)

TiE ScaleUp works closely with select companies and mentor them to refine their business model, obtain access to capital and tap into a peer network for ongoing support.

Satish Tadikonda, an entrepreneur and TiE-Boston charter member, said the TiE ScaleUp program started in 2015 and has been very successful.  Fourteen companies have already graduated from this program.

Tadikonda, who has been one of the main organizers of this program at TiE-Boston, said that many companies fail even after getting early seed stage capital.

“They need to learn how to refine their pitch and think through their future financing needs,” Tadikonda told INDIA New England News. “We made an assumption that after starting a company and raising the seed capital, the entrepreneur has passed the early test and now needs focused mentoring, and that is what we provide at TiE ScaleUp.”

He said a number of experts from various business disciplines and entrepreneurs come together and create an intense five-month program. The next TiE ScaleUp program starts in June. The deadline for application is May 20. For more information, visit www.TieScaleUp.org.

TiE ScaleUp begins the program with an initial pitch to venture capitalists and angel investors, and then taps into Boston’s academics and subject matter experts to deliver a curriculum tailored to the challenges faced by companies looking to scale.

The five-month program also includes mentorship, access to funding sources and executive roundtables, culminating with a Demo Day to leaders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, according to the organization’s website.

The companies which have been part of this program include Antera, ArtLifting, Biena, Birdzi, DropWise, Energysage, QMedic, Repsly, RueBaRue, Spot, Streetscan, VocalID, Zakipoint Health, and ZyPit.

The program consist of 10 workshops, 800 hours of mentorship over five month, 2 invite-only demo days with over 100 investors from top venture capital firms and angel groups from New England, 6-plus new investor connections per company, and five sessions of peer-to-peer learning through CEO roundtables.

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Setback for Amitabh Bachchan in KBC tax case

May 11, 2016 0

New Delhi–In a setback to Amitabh Bachchan, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a plea by income tax authorities challenging the Bombay High Court order permitted the mega star tax relief in earnings made from ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (KBC).

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan

An apex court bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C. Pant said: “We are of the opinion that the present is a fit case for exercise of the suo motu revisional powers of the CIT (Commissioner of Income Tax) under Section 263 of the (Income Tax) Act.”

Restoring the income tax commissioner’s order, the bench set aside the August 28, 2007 order of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and the August 7, 2008 order of the high court.

Disposing of the plea by the income tax department, the bench said: “However, we have to add that as the re-assessment order dated December 29, 2006 had not been tested on merits, the assessee would be free to do so, if he is so inclined and so advised.”

The matter relates to the assessment order passed on March 30, 2004 in respect of the star’s income from the popular quiz show KBC in the fiscal year 2001-02.

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GM India rolls out first Beat for Argentina market

May 9, 2016 0
Chevrolet Beat-Green

Chevrolet Beat

Mumbai– General Motors India on Monday rolled-out the first left-hand drive Chevrolet Beat for export to Argentina.

According to General Motors India, Argentina is slated to become its sixth major export market.

“In keeping with our commitment to the Make in India program, we are proud to celebrate the roll-out of the first vehicle for Argentina,” said Kaher Kazem, president and managing director, GM India.

“In 2016, we plan to export over 50,000 vehicles, compared with 21,000 vehicles last calendar year, reinforcing our commitment to the Indian market and our strong local supplier base. This is part of GM’s strategy to make India an export hub for global markets and will help increase capacity utilization at our Talegaon plant.”

The automobile manufacturer said that it already exports the left-hand drive Beat to countries including Mexico, Chile, Peru, Central American and Caribbean Countries (CAC), and Uruguay.

 

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Indian woman claims lawsuit win against Wipro in Britain

May 4, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Shreya Ukil, a 40-year-old Indian woman who was formerly a senior techie at the Wipro back office in London, claimed to have won a lawsuit in a British tribunal against the IT major for sacking her on the grounds of gender discrimination, unequal pay and victimisation.

Wipro, however, said the tribunal upheld the dismissal as appropriate and rejected claims of adverse cultural attitude towards women in the organisation.

Shreya Ukil (Photo: Linkedin)

Shreya Ukil (Photo: Linkedin)

“Wipro leadership team, including its (then) chief executive T.K. Kurien, conspired to push Ukil out of her job and her role in Britain,” her lawyers Slater & Gordon said in a joint statement from London on Wednesday.

The judgment of the London Employment Tribunal found that the direction (to sack her) had come from the very top and was followed through with considerable resolve.

“Ukil was victimised by Wipro’s leadership for speaking up about sex discrimination, unequal pay and a culture of sexism,” the statement asserted.

Wipro, however, contradicted Ukil’s claim, and said in a statement later that “it was pleased the tribunal had upheld the dismissal of the complainant from the services of the organisation as appropriate and rejected claims of adverse cultural attitude towards women in the organisation”.

In an e-mail response to Wipro’s statement, Ukil told IANS that she had won on her claim for equal pay, as she did same work as her male peers in same grade and that she was paid significantly lower than her male colleagues.

“The court also ruled in my favour on sex discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal,” Ukil reiterated, adding that the verdict on her charges was published on April 18, while the verdict on equal pay was published on July 7, 2015.

Enclosing parts of the judgment’s operative portion to contest Wipro’s counter-claim, Ukil said the tribunal found that the company’s rejection of her resignation in September 2014 was an act of victimisation and that she was dismissed unfairly.

“The tribunal found that I was a victim of acts of sexism and racism, as the company did not upheld the well-founded complaints of discrimination against me,” Ukil said.

The tribunal also accepted that Ukil was asked to sign an indemnity to prevent from bringing claims against the company in October 2013 as an act of victimisation.

“The court verdict is in public domain. There is no out-of-court settlement,” she affirmed.

Ukil, who worked with Wipro for almost 10 years and won multi-million-dollar contracts for it, started raising concerns in 2012, which went unheeded.

Instead of addressing Ukil’s concerns, a series of decisions were made by the management behind the scenes, including chief legal counsel Inderpreet Sawhney, human resources global head Saurabh Govil and Kurien in a bid to remove her from her role in London.

Ukil sued the Bengaluru-based outsourcing firm in October 2015, seeking one million pounds compensation for gender discrimination, unequal pay and harassment.

“Compensation (referred to as ‘remedy’) will be decided at a later date,” Ukil noted.

Sacking Ukil and her superior Manoj Punja, 54, the company said then that they were relieved from service after an internal inquiry established that they were into a relationship but did not report about it to the company as a policy.

Ukil, who was sales and market development manager for the back office operations in London, filed the lawsuit with the tribunal, claiming she was forced into an affair by Punja, a married man, who was head of its business process outsourcing (BPO) office in London.

Having lost all faith, Ukil raised her final grievances with Wipro chairman Azim Premji, who assured her of a fair and impartial investigation.

When she resigned from her role in September 2014 in an e-mail to Premji, her resignation was not accepted and she was fired four days later whilst still on sick leave.

The tribunal found that comments made by Wipro employees, Sid Sharma and George Joseph on separate occasions reflected an “extra undercurrent of sexism in their attitudes” towards Ukil, with remarks that aceplainly conveyed a sexist innuendo”.

“I hope that following this judgment, companies will again reconsider their treatment of female employees, ensuring they are treated fairly and equally,” Ukil added. (IANS)

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56.4 percent of Indian rural households own no land

May 4, 2016 0

By Sumit Chaturvedi

Land

Photo: INDIA New England News

Why it is difficult to reverse more than half-a-century of land-reform failures?

Five facts, gleaned from the 2011-12 agricultural census and 2011 socio-economic caste census and this correspondent’s data, summarise the failure of India’s land reforms:

* No more than 4.9 percent of farmers control 32 percent of India’s farmland

* A “large” farmer in India has 45 times more land than the “marginal” farmer

* Four million people, or 56.4 percent of rural households, own no land

* Only 12.9 percent of land marked – the size of Gujarat – for takeover from landlords was taken over by December 2015

* Five million acres – half the size of Haryana – was given to 5.78 million poor farmers by December 2015

What has largely failed nationwide – with the exception of West Bengal – over 54 years since a land-redistribution law was passed is not likely to improve, according to data this correspondent received to a right-to-information (RTI) application filed with the Department of Land Resources of the Indian government’s Ministry of Rural Development.

The average land given to the rural landless is small and falling, from 0.95 acres in 2002 to 0.88 acres in 2015 – a 7.4 percent drop over 13 years – and a slowdown is evident in the process of taking land away from rich landlords, the RTI data revealed.

As of December 2015, land declared “surplus” (meaning, it could be taken away from landlords) across India stood at 6.7 million acres; the government took over 6.1 million acres; and distributed 5.1 million acres to 5.78 million people.

Similarly, the land declared surplus has fallen over the years. Between 1973 and 2002, an average of 150,000 acres was declared surplus, and an average of 140,000 acres was distributed every year. In contrast, between 2002 and 2015, the land declared surplus every year was 4,000 acres, while land in government possession and distributed declined by 29,000 acres and 24,000 acres per year, respectively

This means that there is less land declared surplus every year over the past 13 years and what was once a growing trend of government possession and distribution has reversed.

The slowdown and fluctuations in land-distribution data over the years are usually because of disputes over how much is to be taken away; courts restored some land to original owners; and some land was unfit for cultivation, according to a 2009 report from the Centre for Rural Studies, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie.

The surplus land under litigation increased by 23.4 percent, from 920,000 acres to 1.14 million acres between 2007 and 2009. Some states, such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra, created land tribunals to quickly settle such cases.

Irrespective of the fluctuations, the land declared surplus, up to 2015, is 12.9 percent of the 51.9 million acres that should be taken away from landlords, the LBSNAA estimated as cited in the report of the Committee on State Agrarian Relations and Unfinished Task of Land Reforms from 2009. The land in government possession and land distributed is 11.7 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively of the 51.9 million acres that should be declared surplus.

Why land is important to further economic progress

As many as 570 million Indians, or 47.1 percent (including 6.7 percent in urban areas), still depend on agriculture, which contributes 15 percent to the GDP, according to a 2011-12 National Sample Survey Office 2011-12 report and 2011 census data.

South Korea and Taiwan – and Japan before them – implemented sweeping land reforms before transforming agriculture and moving their people to manufacturing, Jayati Ghosh, a professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, wrote in a 1997 column for the Economic and Political Weekly. As agriculture’s importance diminished, agricultural productivity kept rising.

But as India tries to ramp up manufacturing-through programmes such as Make in India – the failure of land reforms may worsen rural poverty.

India has 101 million landless, equivalent to populations of Germany and Sri Lanka

West Bengal – land-reforms champion – gives rural landless area larger than Goa

The RTI response received by this correspondent revealed that West Bengal has outperformed other states.

It has declared the most land “surplus” (1.41 million acres, or nearly one-and-a-half times the area of Goa), and accounts for 21 percent of such land so declared nationwide.

West Bengal has taken possession of 1.32 million acres, 93.6 percent of land declared surplus statewide, and distributed 1.05 million acres, 79.8 percent of the land in the state’s possession.

West Bengal also accounts for more than half (54.2 percent) of India’s land-reform beneficiaries. As many as 3.14 million of the rural landless got free land over 60 years.

The Draft National Land Reforms Policy has credited West Bengal, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir for having performed best in surplus land distribution.

Jammu and Kashmir is the worst performer, according to data from the RTI reply, which is also riddled with inaccuracies.

The draft National Land Reforms Policy, prepared in 2013, suggests policy correctives:

* Stopping land-holding exemptions to religious, educational, charitable, research and industrial organisations beyond 15 acres

* Allowing smaller land-holdings in states where the existing limit is more than five to 10 acres for irrigated land and 10 to 15 acres for non-irrigated land

* A “single-window” to redistribute surplus land within a specified time

* A crackdown on benami – in someone else’s name – land

* A database of land inventories available for public scrutiny

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Sumit Chaturvedi is an independent journalist and a blogger at opiniontandoor.in. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend.) (IANS)

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Mexico largest Latin American investor in India

May 2, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Mexico is India’s largest Latin American investor, with an FDI of over $800 million from 2009 to 2015, said Mexican Ambassador Melba Pria.

“Trade between the two countries grew 387 percent between 2004 and 2014 to $6.4 billion. (As much as) 85 percent of Mexico’s exports to India are oil related and 15 percent are manufactured items,” said Pria on Monday at the CII Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Outreach Programme where 14 ambassadors and senior officials from the region participated.

Melba Pria

Melba Pria

In response to the Mexican interest in doing business with India, nearly 60 Indian companies, mainly from automotive, pharma and IT sectors set up base in Mexico, she said.

Talking about the past relationship between India and LAC and the potential for the future, Ecuadorian Ambassador Mentor Villagomez said in two decades, the partners have reached a level of growth which cannot be reversed.

“India perceives the LAC region as a long term contributor to its energy and food security and the county now has a growing presence in the LAC region in remarkably diverse sectors,” said Villagomez.

The envoy said Indian companies have invested about $12 billion in the region in sectors such as IT, pharmaceuticals, agro-chemicals, mining, energy, manufacturing and many other verticals mostly driven by private companies.

Inviting Indian investments in their country, Venezuelan Ambassador Augusto Montiel promised uninterrupted oil supply to meet the entire nation’s demand.

Noting the shifting economic trade landscape, CII Karnataka’s former chairman T. Parabrahman said Mexico overtook South Africa in 2015 as the largest importer of cars from India.

“Brazil imports roughly 47 percent of its diesel from India while Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador have recently started exporting gold to India. India is amongst the top five buyers of copper from Chile and the largest buyer of soybean from Argentina. There are more than 130 Indian companies in LAC region,” he said.

Another past CII Karnataka chairman S. Chandrasekhar highlighted India’s imports from Venezuela were more than imports from Japan or Australia while its exports to Brazil have overtaken those to France or Italy.

“Off late more and more Indian companies have started looking to LAC region to diversify their business. Indian companies from sectors like pharmaceuticals, oil, automobiles and IT are already nearshoring and use the region’s growing talent base to grow,” said Chandrasekhar.

Signifying rising trade and importance, CII is planning to organise its first large scale India-LAC conclave in Mexico and launch an Indian Business Forum for LAC countries.

Ambassadors and top officials from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela among others deliberated in the outreach programme. (IANS)

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‘Cautious’ fiscal policy, low inflation helped India reach 7.8 percent growth: UN official

Apr 29, 2016 0

By Arul Louis

United Nations– A cautious fiscal policy and lower inflation coupled with reforms in some areas are putting India on its trajectory to hit a 7.8 percent growth rate, according to a UN economics specialist.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) 2016 survey released Thursday estimates that the Indian economy grew by 7.6 percent in 2015 and is projected to grow at the same rate this year and reach 7.8 percent next year, the highest in the region and overall in the world for a large economy. In 2014, the growth rate was 7.3 percent.

Sebastian Vergara, Economic Affairs Officer at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), left, said at a press conference Thursday, April 28, 2016, at the United Nations that a combination of cautious economic policies that promoted reforms, domestic consumption and lowering inflation contributed to India's high growth rates. Hoi Wai Cheng, another DESA Economic Affairs Officer is seen with him. They spoke to the media after thre release of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) 2016 survey. (Credit: UN/IANS)

Sebastian Vergara, Economic Affairs Officer at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), left, said at a press conference Thursday, April 28, 2016, at the United Nations that a combination of cautious economic policies that promoted reforms, domestic consumption and lowering inflation contributed to India’s high growth rates. Hoi Wai Cheng, another DESA Economic Affairs Officer is seen with him. They spoke to the media after thre release of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) 2016 survey. (Credit: UN/IANS)

On the inflation front, ESCAP estimates last year’s rate fell to 5 percent from 6.7 percent in 2014, but is expected to rise to 5.2 percent this year and 5.6 percent next year.

“The macro economic policy has been cautious, especially in the fiscal side but this has been a positive development in order to provide a good framework to increase the sentiment of the consumer,” said Sebastian Vergara, the Economic Affairs Officer at the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Asked at a media briefing here after the report’s release about India’s performance, he added, “At the same time the monetary policy has played an important role in reducing inflation reducing which is also playing a positive role for the Indian economy.”

While the reforms will continue to contribute to high growth, he added a note of caution. “With respect to the structural reforms, I would say the picture is mixed,” he said. “In some areas the Indian government has made important effort and I think that effort is beginning to pay off leading to increase in investment, but there are some areas where the pace of reforms are making slow progress.”

The ESCAP report stressed the importance of private consumption as the main driver of the growth story in India in contrast to some of the countries in the region. This is “reflected in robust services activities relating to trade, finance, transport and communications, and real estate.,” it said.

However, “rural demand was weaker due to the muted agricultural activity and slower rural wage growth due to subpar monsoon seasons,” the survey noted.

With India’s growth relying heavily on internal demand, the report said that “progress made in implementing structural reform and how rapidly large-scale stalled infrastructure projects are unlocked” will determine its course.

The report expected steady employment growth in the near term. It referred to the progress in reforming fiscal policy like the rationalisation of fuel prices, but noted that the implementation of the goods and services tax “remains an important reform that is being held up due to political deadlock.”

Referring to the “Make in India” program launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the survey said it “affirms that India is open for business” and also and noted India’s better ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index where its poition rose by four places to 130 this year.

Looking at entire Asia Pacific region, the report said that economic situation is broadly stable, but the outlook is cloudy, the report said. The slowdown in China and its uncertain outlook are among the reasons it cited for the cautious prognosis. Others include the gradual rise in the US interest rates and the currency volatility and the capital outflows.

To reboot regional growth, ESCAP said broad-based productivity gains and rebalancing the economies towards domestic and regional demand was necessary, rather than relying on exports.

Improving productivity in the rural sector is important in battling poverty in the region, the survey said, because more than half the population – about 2.1 billion people – live in rural areas.

“Industrialising agriculture and raising agricultural productive must be at the centre of this effort in view of the great mass of the remaining poor and the food insecure people who live on agriculture and inhabit rural areas,” it said.

The problem of a large and unsustainable “surplus labour” in agriculture can only be solved through policies that enable the movement of labor and capital across agriculture, service and manufacturing sectors, ESCAP said emphasising the importance of rural industrialisation in meeting the goals of poverty alleviation. (IANS)

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Indian Business Briefs

Apr 28, 2016 0

Report: India Becomes Top FDI Destination in 2015

India has become the top destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) by attracting $63 billion worth of FDI projects in 2015, says fDi Intelligence, a division of The Financial Times.

Power Minister Goyal Attracts Global Investors

Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, visited the U.S. recently to participate in the launch of the International Solar Alliance programs. Attracting global investors, including private equity giants such as Blackstone and Warburg Pincus, Goyal highlighted the initiatives taken by the Government to make India more business friendly.

Indian Ambassador Arun Singh (file photo)

Indian Ambassador Arun Singh (file photo)

Atlantic Council Launches India-U.S. Trade Initiative

Top U.S. think tank, the Atlantic Council, has launched an India-U.S. trade initiative aimed to strengthen economic ties. On this occasion, India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Arun K. Singh said, “India and the United States enjoy a robust and thriving trade relationship which holds tremendous potential for the future in a number of sectors including renewable energy, infrastructure, smart cities, IT services, digital economy, and defense.”

India Beats 2015-16 Solar Energy Target by 1.5x

India has surpassed its solar energy target for 2015-16 more than one and a half times, commissioning 3,018 MW during the year vs. the 2,000 MW target. At the end of 2015-16, country’s cumulative solar capacity stands at 6,753 MW, up from 3,744 MW a year ago. Rajasthan state remains No.1 in overall installed capacity at 1,264 MW.

Big Companies Bet Big on India’s ‘Smart Cities’

Global firms such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and Cisco are betting big on India’s “smart cities” project, which is estimated to be an up to $50 billion business opportunity over five years. Players like Ericsson and Huawei have started working on some of the projects in the country, while Cisco is involved in more than 25 cities, including the Government’s 20 official smart cities shortlist.

 India Signs Paris Climate Pact

India signed the historic Paris climate agreement along with more than 170 nations, bringing together developing and developed nations to begin work on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar signed the agreement in the UN General Assembly.

Govt. Increases Highway Construction Target by 2.5x

Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari has fixed a 2.5 times increase in the target for award and construction of National Highways for the year 2016-17. The Minister has set a target of 15,500 miles of National Highways to be awarded in 2016- 17 up from 6,200 miles awarded in 2015-16.

 Roadmap to a $10 Trillion Indian Economy by 2032

NITI Aayog – National Institution for Transforming India  – has laid out a roadmap to help Asia’s third-largest economy cross the $10 trillion mark by 2032.  NITI Ayog has listed seven key areas, including infrastructure, skill development, ease of doing busing business etc., where the government needs to focus to ensure 10% growth.

Ministry of Commerce & Industry Launches ‘Twitter Seva’

To be more responsive to the populace, the Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (I/C) Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has launched a “Twitter Seva.” Through this Twitter Seva, queries on matters relating to the Department of Commerce and the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion will be answered. Those with questions can use the hashtag #mociseva.

Govt: Automatic Approval Likely for More Sectors

Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said India plans to further liberlize rules for overseas investors as the Govt. looks to reduce the need for number of approvals. He also said investors appreciate the accelerated pace of decision making and are positive about India.

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