Indiginise more for defence self-reliance, official exhorts Indian firms

Aug 9, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Indian aerospace and defence manufacturers should indigenise more to help achieve self-reliance in arms production for the three armed forces, an official said on Thursday.

“As the government is keen on self-reliance in the defence sector, the manufacturers — especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups — should strive for greater indigenisation in arms production,” Defence Production Secretary Ajay Kumar said at an event here.

Addressing the fifth ‘Aerospace and Defence Manufacturing Show’, Kumar said that the MSMEs and start-ups should make the best use of opportunities in the sector as the government had liberalised the procurement process and simplified procedures.

“The MSMEs and start-ups should meet the needs of state-run defence units and the armed forces with greater indigenisation,” asserted Kumar.

State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) Chairman T. Suvarna Raju, speaking at the inaugural session, said that MSMEs and start-ups have huge potential to reduce imports in the defence and aerospace sectors.

“As defence units like HAL depend on private suppliers for critical components and systems, MSMEs and start-ups should ensure high standards and quality of the parts they make and supply to the original equipment manufacturers,” said Raju.

Inaugurating the two-day event at the HAL Convention Centre, Karnataka Industries Minister K.J. George said it will give an opportunity to the MSMEs and start-ups to showcase their capabilities and manufacturing prowess to the state-run defence units, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and the armed forces.

“The event highlights Karnataka’s leadership in the aerospace and defence sectors. Many state-run defence units and OEMs across the country will find suppliers of components and systems at the show,” said George.

Organised by the city-based Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies and Industries (SIATI), the trade show saw the participation of over 70 exhibitors from both public and private sectors.

The exhibitors included HAL, Defence Research Development Organisation labs, Indian Army, Navy and Indian Air Force, Blaser SwissLube, Siemens and Alpha Design Technologies.

The second day of the trade show on Friday will include sessions on indigenisation of IAF and Navy, and opportunities for the industry. (IANS)

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India’s energy deficit down to 1% in four years: NITI Aayog

Aug 8, 2018 0

New Delhi– The installed power generation capacity in India has risen to 344 GigaWatts (GW) and its energy deficit, which stood at over 4 per cent in 2014, has shrunk to less than one per cent in 2018, an official release said on Wednesday.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant made a presentation at a review meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday that looked at the progress of key infrastructure sectors — power, renewable energy, petroleum and natural gas, coal, and mining, the release said.

“In course of the presentation made by CEO NITI Aayog, it was noted that the installed power generation capacity in India has risen to 344 GW. India’s energy deficit, which stood at over four per cent in 2014, has shrunk to less than one per cent in 2018.

“Significant capacity additions have been made in transmission lines, transformer capacity and inter-regional transmission,” it said.

The release said that India now ranks 26th in the World Bank’s “Ease of Getting Electricity” Index, up from 99th in 2014.

The meeting reviewed progress in household electrification under the SAUBHAGYA initiative. Discussions also focused on last-mile connectivity and distribution, in both urban and rural areas.

“In the new and renewable energy sector, cumulative installed capacity has nearly doubled, from 35.5 GW in 2013-14 to about 70 GW in 2017-18. In solar energy, installed capacity has increased from 2.6 GW to 22 GW in the same period,” the release said.

Officials expressed confidence that the country is on track to comfortably achieve the target of 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022.

Modi urged the officials to work towards ensuring that the benefits from increase in solar energy capacity reach the farmers through appropriate interventions such as solar pumps and user-friendly solar cooking solutions.

The meeting noted that the targets set under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana will be comfortably achieved in the current financial year.

In the coal sector, discussions focused on further augmentation of production capacity, the release added.

The review meeting was attended by top officials from infrastructure-related Ministries, NITI Aayog and the Prime Minister’s Office. (IANS)

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After IKEA, UAE’s Danube Home to open store in Hyderabad

Aug 8, 2018 0

Hyderabad– After leading Swedish home furnishing company IKEA, Danube Home of United Arab Emirates (UAE) is also entering India.

Like IKEA, Danube Home, the home furnishing arm of Danube Group, is also opening its first store in Hyderabad.

On a day when IKEA announced formal opening of its first India store in information technology hub of HITEC City, a top Telangana government official said Danube will be launching its first store in September.

Danube, said to be the biggest home furnishing company in the Middle East, has taken leased premises to open the store at Kothaguda, near HITEC City.

Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Industry & Commerce, Government of Telangana, said investment and other details would be known soon.

A top official of Danube Home had said in May that they are looking to expand in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and also entering Indian market with an investments of 300 million Dirham.

Adel Sajan, director, Danube Group was quoted by a media report that India is a huge market and they can open up to 25-30 stores in five years.

The company currently has 25-plus stores across Middle East and North African Region. In May it opened its 9th and the biggest showroom in Abu Dhabi, spanned over 75,000 sqft with 30,000 home furnishing products.

Sajan had said that they are entering Indian market as India’s economy is growing and the middle income class population is also expanding rapidly. (IANS)

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CCI nod for Walmart-Flipkart deal, traders’ body to move court

Aug 8, 2018 0

New Delhi– Fair trade watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of e-commerce major Flipkart by Wal-Mart International Holdings.

However, a traders’ body said that it will move the court against the approval.

“@CCI_India approves proposed acquisition of Flipkart Private Limited by Wal-Mart International Holdings, Inc,” CCI said in a tweet on its official Twitter handle on Wednesday.

On May 9, global retail giant Walmart Inc announced it was buying 77 per cent equity stake in the country’s largest e-tailer Flipkart for $16 billion, subject to regulatory approval in India.

The acquisition of the majority stake makes the $500-billion Walmart the largest shareholder of the Flipkart group and will help accelerate its mission to transform e-commerce through digital technology.

Reacting to the development, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said that it will move the court against the CCI decision.

“It is most unfortunate that leaving aside the objections raised by CAIT in CCI, the Commission has approved the deal,” CAIT Secretary-General Praveen Khandelwal said.

“Without giving any opportunity of hearing to CAIT, the CCI has flayed principle of natural justice. We deeply condemn such an attitude and will certainly move to Higher Court against the decision of CCI.”

According to Khandelwal, CAIT has called for an emergency meeting of its governing council on August 19 at Nagpur.

The traders, protesting under CAIT, have denounced the deal arguing that it would create “unfair competition” and demanded that the government scrap it. (IANS)

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Hiring activity rises 9% in July

Aug 7, 2018 0

New Delhi– Hiring activity increased by 9 per cent in July, on a year-on-year basis, said a Nauraki.com report released on Tuesday.

The Naukri JobSpeak Index for July 2018 was at 2,101, marking a 9 per cent increase in hiring activity from July 2017. The index was at 1,928 in July 2017.

Industry-wise, “hiring activity in July 2018 was driven by industries like insurance and banking and financial services with a growth of 34 per cent and 21 per cent respectively,” the report said.

Recruitment in the automobile segment rose by 31 per cent in July 2018 compared to the corresponding period of 2017.

Hiring in the industry products and heavy machinery segment rose by 23 per cent in July and in construction and engineering sector, recruitment was up 20 per cent.

According to naukri.com, the index has been calculated based on job listings added to the site month-on-month. July 2008 has been taken as the base month with a score of 1,000.

Among the metropolitan cities, Delhi NCR registered the highest growth with 14 per cent increase, followed by Chennai and Mumbai, where hiring was up 13 and 4 per cent respectively. (IANS)

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Only 19% use Internet in India, says study

Aug 7, 2018 0

New Delhi– A mere 19 per cent of people in the 15-65 age group use Internet in India, a report said here on Tuesday.

About 35 per cent of those in the age group are aware of Internet, said the report named “AfterAccess: ICT access and use in India and the Global South”. It was published by Lirneasia, a policy and regulation think tank in collaboration with the Cellular Operators Association of India.

“The lack of Internet awareness is a considerable problem in India, with just 35 per cent of the 15-65 (years) population aware of what the Internet is. The level of use is thus even lower at 19 per cent,” said the report.

On the findings of the report Chief Executive Officer of Lirneasia Helani Galpaya said: “India has only connected around 20 per cent of the adult people who you would expect to be on line. So that’s pathetic… and the contradiction is, this (India) is one of the most affordable markets in the world.”

The report further showed that out of the total Internet users in the age group of 15-65 years, around 27 per cent mostly spend time on social media. (IANS)

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Congress seeks JPC probe into Rafale deal

Aug 7, 2018 0

New Delhi– The Congress on Tuesday demanded a JPC probe into the Rafale fighter jet deal with France, alleging that the change of terms and conditions of the previous agreement negotiated by the then UPA government had caused a loss to the exchequer.

The demand for the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe was raised by party leader K.C. Venugopal in the Lok Sabha during a debate on the first batch of supplementary demands for grants for 2018-19.

Later, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge also repeated the demand, saying the Modi government had not replied to the points raised by Venugopal and had “accepted” what he said.

The Congress and some other opposition members also staged a walkout in the House.

Venugopal, who initiated the debate, said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had refused to disclose the price of the fighter jet under the new deal, citing an agreement with France, when the government had given out the price in an answer to a parliamentary question.

“The UPA government revealed the cost under the previous defence deal in Parliament itself. In addition to this, public entity Hindustan Aeronautical Limited was bypassed for getting more than Rs 30,000 crore in offset contract,” he said.

The Congress leader said that under the deal negotiated by the earlier UPA government, Bengaluru-based HAL would have got licence to build 108 of the 126 Rafale aircraft and only 18 aircraft were to be built in France.

He said that it would have provided jobs for lakhs of youths and also technology transfer.

The Congress lawmaker said that Dassault Aviation of France sold the same 48 Rafale jets to Egypt and Qatar in 2015 for Rs 1,319.80 crore per aircraft.

“I am telling this in Parliament. You can inquire. Hence, there is a scam. We demand a JPC inquiry. You created so much noise when the Bofors (scam) happened. This is a major scam. Therefore, we demand a JPC inquiry,” he said and alleged that the government was trying to hide matters.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey objected and said that the Congress member was referring to a “confidential” paper and should authenticate it and place it before the House.

Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Roy also referred to the Rafale deal and said that a “full-fledged inquiry should be made by the government.”

Opposition members also slammed the government over unemployment and management of Indian economy, saying the credibility of the nationalised banking system has been severely affected. (IANS)

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Customs duty doubled on over 328 textile products

Aug 7, 2018 0

New Delhi– To promote domestic manufacturing, the government on Tuesday increased the customs duty on over 300 textile products to 20 per cent.

A notification seeking to “increase customs duty on 328 tariff lines of textile products from the existing rate of 10 per cent to 20 per cent under Section 159 of the Customs Act” was tabled in the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Finance Pon Radhakrishnan.

Last month, the government had increased customs duty on over 50 textile products including woven fabrics, dresses, trousers, suits, jackets, baby garments and carpets. (IANS)

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Startups urged to develop tech for ‘Made in India’ defence arms

Aug 6, 2018 0

Bengaluru– Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday called upon startups to develop technologies and weapons for the Indian armed forces.

“We (Ministry of Defence) want you to provide Indian solutions to problems faced by the armed forces. By indigenisation, India doesn’t need to import many of the products that we do,” Sitharaman told startups in this tech hub.

“India wants its sectors disrupted through technological advancements,” she said at the launch of “Defence India Startup Challenge”, a national contest for startups to develop arms and technologies for the defence sector.

“Indigenisation has been a priority for India, however, we did not indigenise sufficiently enough,” the Minister added, addressing a gathering of 200 startups, incubators and defence officials at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Convention Centre in the city centre.

Through the contest, startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and individual researchers and academic institutions can take part in 11 different categories of creating technologies and products that can be used by the armed forces.

The 11 categories in which the startups and researchers can develop products or solutions include building see-through armour for the army, development of 4G-based tactical Local Area Network for the Navy, and laser weaponry and unmanned surface and underwater vehicles development for the Air Force, among others.

Select few startups will also receive a funding of up to Rs 1.5 crore through the Ministry for developing their ideas, and given access to test their products.

As part of the event, a Bengaluru-based firm Tonbo Imaging has been given an order to make night fire control system for Russian-made grenade launcher AGS-30.

“The Ministry will ensure the startups working on their ideas get the orders,” Sitharaman said.

Noting that unmanned drones with missiles are the envy of many countries, the Minister added it is not beyond India’s capacity to develop them.

The Defence Ministry, on the occasion, also tied up with five business incubators to promote and support the startups, including Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship with Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad; Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay; T-hub startup incubator in Hyderabad; ‘Forge’ incubator in Coimbatore; and IIT Madras.

“The contest is in line with the Innovations for Defence Excellence (IDEX) scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier in April during Defence Expo in Chennai, to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in defence sector,” an official statement said.

The competition will also give a fillip to the country’s innovation potential and create networks for collaboration between defence sector and startups, it added.

Over 200 startups, 50 SMEs and 12 business incubators took part in the defence-business gathering. (IANS)

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SEZ space accounts for 22% of office space across metro cities: Report

Aug 6, 2018 0

New Delhi– Office space in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) accounts for about 22 per cent of the total office space across seven major cities in India, a report of CBRE, well-known real estate consultancy firm, said on Monday.

On the supply front, more than 20 per cent of the upcoming office space supply lined up for completion over the next two years is expected to consist of SEZ developments, the report said.

“SEZ space currently accounts for about 22% of the total office stock in India across seven leading cities. Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi-NCR and Hyderabad house almost 80 per cent of this SEZ stock,”it said.

Overall, the technology sector dominated SEZ space take-up with over 60 per cent space absorption in the past three years, as per the report.

Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune are the other three cities covered under the survey.

Commenting on the findings, Anshuman Magazine, Chairman, India and South East Asia, CBRE, said: “We feel that the space take-up in SEZs should remain strong till the end of 2019. We also expect that at least till the end of 2019, there will be a continuity in several trends in the SEZ segment of the commercial real estate market with growing preference for SEZ spaces by corporate…” (IANS)

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