Bankers welcome Raghuram Rajan’s successor Urjit Patel

Aug 20, 2016 0
Urjit Patel

Urjit Patel

New Delhi– Banking industry captains on Saturday welcomed Urjit R. Patel as Raghuram Rajan’s successor at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The government on Saturday named economist and banker Urjit Patel the next Governor of the apex bank to succeed Raghuram Rajan.

Patel, 52, a Deputy Governor since January 2013, will take over as the 24th chief of India’s central bank on September 4.

Arundhati Bhattacharya-SBI

Arundhati Bhattacharya

“Appointment of Urjit Patel comes as a welcome move. Dr. Patel has been at the helm of institutionalizing the inflation targeting regime in the monetary policy framework.

“His appointment signals continuity of policy intent, both on part of RBI and Government,” said State Bank of India’s Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.

Congratulating Patel, ICICI Bank’s MD and CEO, Chanda Kochhar said, “Urjit Patel has played a key role in developing the new monetary policy framework that has focused on reigning in inflation and has imparted stability to the currency.”

She also said his appointment would ensure a smooth transition and continuity in monetary policy, as India puts in place major structural reforms to transition to a higher growth path.

“I am confident that this transition will ensure efficient monetary policy management. Patel is an astute economist with a clear vision, who will surely continue to de-risk the Indian economy and strike the fine balance between growth imperatives and inflation management,” said Yes Bank’s MD and CEO Rana Kapoor.

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New Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel has wide experience

Aug 20, 2016 0

New Delhi–Opting for talent within, the government on Saturday named economist and banker Urjit R. Patel the next Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to succeed Raghuram R. Rajan — a development eagerly awaited for two months now.

Patel, 52, a Deputy Governor since January 2013 and on a three-year further term since January this year, will take over as the 24th chief of India’s central bank on September 4, according to an official communique.

As per the decision taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Patel gets a three-year tenure, a press note said. Rajan, too, had a three-year stint.

Urjit Patel

Urjit Patel

“The appointment has been made based on the recommendations of the Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Search Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary. The Committee undertook an extensive exercise to suggest a panel of names to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet,” it said.

“For the first time, a systematic approach and an objective mechanism have been put in place. The committee met twice to discuss the possible names that can be considered for this assignment and had submitted a short panel of names to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.”

Official sources said several names were tossed up, including State Bank of India (SBI) chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, former bureaucrats Vijay Kelkar and Ashok Chawla, and economists Rakesh Mohan, Ashok Lahiri and Subir Gokarn.

Ever since Rajan, in an unprecedented letter to his colleagues in June, said he was opting out of a second term at the helm of India’s central bank, speculation has been rife over who his successor would be — particularly given the outspoken nature of the incumbent and the eyebrows he raised.

Rajan is going back to academics at the University of Chicago.

His successor — who is a Ph.D in economics from Yale and M.Phil from Oxford — was clinched on Thursday at a meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the sources said.

He was particularly picked for his expertise in inflation-control, which has become the main task of the central bank, ever since the government, under statute, set it a target of 4 percent, plus or minus two percentage points, based on consumer price index.

Patel, whose experience includes a mix of stints with multilateral institutions, bureaucracy, central bank, global consultancies and even private companies, has previously served the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the US, India, Bahamas and Myanmar.

He was also a consultant in India’s Finance Ministry, in the Department of Economic Affairs, and an advisor at The Boston Consulting Group. This apart, he has been a non-resident Senior Fellow of The Brookings Institution.

According to some senior officials at the Reserve Bank, Patel was particularly chosen by the IMF in 1996-97 to provide advice on the development of the debt and currency markets in India, as also on banking and social security net reforms.

Some of his stints with the private sector include: President, Business Development with Reliance Industries, Executive Director of Infrastructure Development Finance Company and Board Member of the Gujarat State Petroleum Corp.

Patel worked closely with several central and state government committees — especially those on direct taxes, market studies, anti-trust laws, Prime Minister’s Task Force on Infrastructure and sectors like telecom, aviation, power and pensions.

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French companies to invest 8 billion euros in India

Aug 19, 2016 0

Kolkata– Describing India as a strategic and economic partner, France’s Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler on Friday said French companies would be investing to the tune of eight billion euros in India in the next two-three years.

“We have invested 20 billion USD in India so far with a presence of 394 major French conglomerates. In the next two to three years, French companies will be investing eight billion euros more in India,” Ziegler told reporters on the sidelines of a CII event here.

Alexandre Ziegler

Alexandre Ziegler

“We don’t look at India as a market. Rather India is an important strategic and economic partner. We are not just investing in India but also making in India and innovating in India. More than 25 R&D centres of various French companies are in India,” he said.

Besides strategic cooperation, Ziegler said the Indo-French economic ties have been steadily rising and sectors like renewable energy, sustainable urban development and agri-food and health care are set to witness increased mutual cooperation.

Inviting investment to his own country, the envoy said the recent terror attack in Nice in which at least 85 people were killed, has not affected France’s prospects as a preferred investment destination.

“Such attacks are highly condemnable but have been happening in several places. As a country we are doing everything possible to prevent any terror attacks. France has been a preferred investment destination with the presence of over 20,000 foreign companies employing in excess of two million people,” he said.

On the issue of Britain’s exit from the European Union, Ziegler conceded the move has affected the organisation but exuded confidence of EU continuing to do well.

“EU has been facing challenges and it is desirous that all your partners are there to fight those challenges. But then it is their decision and we respect that. As one of the founders members, France is not concerned about EU’s future. EU has been doing well and will continue to do so,” he added. (IANS)

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JDA Announces $570 Million Equity Investment from Blackstone and New Mountain Capital

Aug 19, 2016 0

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz–JDA Software Group, Inc. announced that it has completed an agreement with funds managed by Blackstone (NYSE: BX) and New Mountain Capital (NMC) to effect a recapitalization of the company through a $570 million equity investment.

Viral Patel

Viral Patel

The new capital will be used to fuel JDA’s product innovation and growth plans to deliver next generation cloud-based solutions and accelerate opportunities for current product development and enhancements. With this strategic investment, JDA will be well-positioned to continue building on its market-leading portfolio of supply chain and omni-channel retail solutions. The new equity investment is expected to be completed by early Q4 2016, pending customary closing conditions.

“We are thrilled to partner with New Mountain Capital to make this strategic investment in JDA,” said Viral Patel, Managing Director at Blackstone. “We are confident that the company is primed for accelerating growth in the years ahead.”

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms.

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Women Start 50 Percent of Businesses but Get Only 3 Percent of Venture Capital Funding

Aug 18, 2016 0

PROVIDENCE, RI–With a packed crowd that allowed for minimal standing room, the IIT Alumni Leadership Conference in Providence kicked off to a great start with a well-organized set of sessions by the IIT Women, saying that although women start about 50 percent of businesses, they receive only three percent of venture capital funding.

2016 Leadership Conference, which was held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI, from August 12 to 14, was organized by the IIT Association of Greater New England and PANIIT. The theme of the conference was: “Leading Transformation for a Better Tomorrow: Technologies that lift the human spirit.”

iit-women-audience-sThe conference was chaired by Raj Laad and co-chaired by Mandy Deb Pant.  The conference brought together an array of thought leaders in areas where New England leads the rest of the world, such as Life Sciences and Healthcare, Energy and Environment, Big Data, and Education.

Mandy Pant

Mandy Pant

In her introduction speech, Pant, IIT Kharagpur alumna and Co-Chair of the conference, emphasized conference goals of networking, learning, inspiring and influencing.

The panel on May the Force Be With Women Entrepreneurs was moderated by IIT Kanpur alumna, Gitanjali Swamy, an entrepreneur herself.

“The panelists shared some very startling statistics including the fact that women entrepreneurs start about 50% of businesses, but get only 3% of VC funding– a stat that hasn’t changed over a decade,” Pant said. “The panelists agreed that women are enterprising about finding solutions to funding needs, but additional techniques that could help range from establishing deeper networking for women to recognition for men who enable women entrepreneurs.”

The panel on solving the hidden challenges that women face in leadership moderated by IIT Bombay Alumna, Durriya Doctor talked about micro-inequities that make it harder for women to climb. Panelist, Anu Chitrapu quipped on the importance of women speaking up and raising their hand to volunteer whenever an opportunity arises as it may open new doors.

IIT-women-1-s“What differentiated this panel from other panels on similar topics was that here all the women related their personal stories of their challenges and how they overcame them,” said Chitrapu. “This was a panel where topics like unconscious bias were discussed via real experiences with solutions on how to deal with them.”

Anu Chitrapu

Anu Chitrapu

A session on how to become a person of influence was led by Jo Miller on Friday. Saturday saw two powerful panels, one on women advancing the common good through technology and one on women impact the next generation of STEM professionals. The former featured India New England News 2013 Woman of the Year, Poonam Ahluwalia and India New England News  2012 Woman of the Year and IIT Bombay alumna, Ranjani Saigal who shared deep insights on how each has impacted the social community through their work.

Panelist and IIT Madras alum, Savitha Sridharan, through her startup, talkied about targeting lighting up 100 villages across the world with renewable energy solutions . Young panelist Amrita Saigal inspired the attendess by sharing details about her MIT startup that has been launched to provide women in rural India access to biodegradable sanitary pads. The STEM panel was moderated by INEN 2016 finalist, Rita Advani.

The fact that the parallel system of expensive tutoring is what is impeding girls in India today from making it into coveted STEM institutions of higher learning was shared by panelist Prof Sudeshna Sarkar, IIT Kharagpur alum and now HOD of the Computer Science and Engineering department.

A dynamic mentor/mentee session led by Ranjani Saigal and Meenakshi Narain (IIT Kanpur alum and Brown Univ professor ) wrapped up the women’s sessions at the conference on Sunday, where conference co-chair, Mandy Deb Pant requested that in addition to the initial goals called out at the conference start, the attendees should take what they have learnt forward helping each other out.

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External Affairs Ministry comes up with Facebook app to reach out to more people

Aug 18, 2016 0

New Delhi– The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday launched a Facebook application to help people connect with the Indian missions across the globe any time of the day.

Announcing the launch here, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “The social media has been a game changer in the way we communicate with each other and the world”.

Ankhi Dass

Ankhi Dass

He said the ministry has been a pioneer in adapting to digital tools, starting in 2010.

“The ministry handles on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, G+, Soundcloud etc. have a collective viewership exceeding four million,” he said, adding this particular application will help people in various ways.

Speaking on the occasion, Ankhi Dass, Pubilc Policy Director of Facebook for India, South and Central Asia, said it was a good step from the government’s side to help people and getting them involved in foreign policy matters directly.

“This really is the consumerisation of foreign policy and you have taken distress mitigation and grievance redress literally to the next stage. I think with this app what is happening is that you are putting power in the people’s hands to be able to contact to the missions directly,” she said.

“This is very useful, particularly in distressing times,” she said. (IANS)

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Distressed Indian workers in Saudi Arabia have only two options:either to return to India or to relocate to a different company

Aug 18, 2016 0

New Delhi/Jeddah– Indian workers in Saudi Arabia retrenched by three Saudi companies have only two options left — either to return to India or to relocate to a different company in the Gulf kingdom.

Explaining the situation faced by the retrenched Indian workers of Saudi Oger, Saudi-bin Laden and Saad Group, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing in New Delhi on Thursday that Saudi authorities have offered to facilitate speedy repatriation of those seeking to return home or to assist those wishing to relocate.

Vikas Swarup

Vikas Swarup

“Following the high-level discussions that Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh had with Saudi authorities during his visit to Saudi Arabia in July, the Saudi authorities took a magnanimous view of the situation and agreed to the speedy repatriation of those Indian workers wishing to return to India and also assisting those workers wishing to relocate to other companies,” Swarup said.

“No other option is available to Indian workers belonging to these three companies.”

The spokesperson said Singh is again in Saudi Arabia now as there are some issues which need to be addressed so that the retrenched workers either seek alternate employment or return to India.

“Minister of State will try to reach out to them to impress upon them to cooperate and facilitate in this process,” Swarup said.

However, according to an IANS report from Jeddah, Singh is facing an uphill task in convincing the workers of one of the companies to return home and wait for their pending arrears, as the workers are not in a mood to heed the minister’s advice.

The minister visited a workers’ accommodation on Makkah highway on Thursday and told them to “seek alternative employment offered by other employers, if you are willing, or return home and wait there for your dues”.

He also emphasised that it was not in the interest of either party to continue to stay for an indefinite for their pending claims.

Singh reiterated that both the governments of Saudi Arabia and India were working seriously on the issue and would be sort it out, as there were many formalities and procedures involved.

He had also visited another workers’ camp of the same crisis-hit construction company in Jeddah on Wednesday.

Aggrieved workers were demanding to spell out time bound period or assurance in writing by officials regarding their due arrears.

In Riyadh, Indian Ambassador Javed Ahmed met with Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister, Adel Al Jubeir and handed over a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, according to a statement issued by the embassy.

It also further stated that the Ambassador had discussed the welfare of Indian workers in the Gulf kingdom but did not specify details.

In a related development, Saudi Labour Minister Mufrej Al Haqbani held meeting on Thursday with Pakistan Minister for Overseas Pakistani Affairs Pir Syed Sardaruddin Shah Rashidi and his accompanying delegation to discuss their nationals working in some of the crisis-hit companies.

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Indian-Pakistani Community in Massachusetts to Raise Half Million Dollars for Hillary, Former President Clinton to Attend the Event

Aug 17, 2016 0
Ashraf M. Dahod (Photo: Neil Pandit Photography)

Ashraf M. Dahod (Photo: Neil Pandit Photography)

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

ANDOVER, MA—The Indian-Pakistani community in Massachusetts is hoping to raise $500,000 at a fundraising event in support of the Hillary Victory Fund on Aug. 22 in Andover, MA. Former President Bill Clinton will attend the event.

If the group is able to raise half million dollars, it will be for the first time that Indian and Pakistani community would have jointly raised such a large amount of money for a political campaign in New England.

The fundraising event is spearheaded by high-tech serial entrepreneur Ashraf M. Dahod, and Shahid Khan, a businessman who sits on the board of American Energy Group.

“We are expecting to raise half million dollars,” Khan told IndUS Business Journal and its sister publication, INDIA New England News. “We expect 70 to 80 people to attend the event.”

Khan said donors can contribute in chunks of $10,000, $33,000 or $50,000. He said the fundraising event with President Clinton will be held in Andover, but the venue has not yet been finalized.

Dahod is president and CEO Altiostar. Before founding Altiostar, he had co-founded Starent Networks, which was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2009. Prior to Starent, Dahod had co-founded NetCore Systems, Inc, Sigma Network Systems, Inc  and Applitek Corporation.

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India ranked world’s top exporter of information, communication technology

Aug 16, 2016 0

By Arul Louis

United Nations– India has been ranked the world’s top exporter of information and communication technology in a UN agency report that recommended that the country leverage this lead to innovate in emerging areas where biology and materials sciences intersect with computing.

Overall, India leapt 14 places from the 85th rank last year to the 61st in the latest Global Innovation Index (GII) released in Geneva by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Monday.

India ranked 8th in the world for producing graduates in science and engineering and showed the most significant improvements in human capital and research moving up 40 places to 63.

CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee

CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee

WIPO, a specialised agency of the UN, worked also with Cornell University and INSEAD, the international business school, to prepare the ninth edition of the index.

In a nod to India’s “jugaad” tradition of innovation, the report said that its culture of “frugality and sustainability” can help it capture global markets.

“For this to happen, however, India’s industries need to have the hunger to be at the top of the value chain, its customers have to be more demanding, its policies have to be more transparent, and its talent pool has to get more hands-on experience while simultaneously growing to leverage the global talent pool,” the report said.

WIPO quoted CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee as saying: “The commitment of India to innovation and improved innovation metrics is strong and growing, helping to improve the innovation environment. This trend will help gradually lift India closer to other top-ranked innovation economies.”

Areas where India is lagging include the business environment, where it is ranked 117, and education at the 118th spot.

To leapfrog into the emerging areas that combine biology, computing and material sciences, the report recommended that the industry double its research and development (R&D) investment and the government provide R&D grants to industry.

World Intellectual Property Organisation\'s Director General, Francis Gurry, at the release of the Global Innovation Index release in Geneva on Aug. 15, 2016. (Credit: WIPO/IANS)

World Intellectual Property Organisation\’s Director General, Francis Gurry, at the release of the Global Innovation Index release in Geneva on Aug. 15, 2016. (Credit: WIPO/IANS)

“Investing in innovation is critical to raising long-term economic growth,” WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry said while presenting the report. “In this current economic climate, uncovering new sources of growth and leveraging the opportunities raised by global innovation are priorities for all stakeholders.”

Another recommendation was to developing the research capabilities of universities. “Industry and government should team up with universities to create meaningful graduate research programmes utilizing global collaboration models where appropriate,” the report said.

In these emerging fields, the report said: “Applications include developing sustainable fuels for transportation, predicting and preventing disease, determining ways to improve wellness, and delivering better nutrition” – areas that meet immediate needs of India.

The report cited the US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue as initiatives that had the potential for bilateral funding of R&D.

Among innovators in India measured by the number of patents obtained in the last five years, Infosys led with 281; it was followed by TCS with 244, Ranbaxy 196, Wockhardt 160, and SunPharma 84.

During this period, about 2,000 patents received by GE had Indian inventors, the report said. IBM came next with Indians involved in nearly 1,900 patents.

Overall, Switzerland ranked first globally as the most innovative economy on the index. It was followed by Sweden, Britain, the United States, Finland and Singapore. China for the first time muscled its way into the ranks of the top 25, just landing the spot. (IANS)

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Piramal Enterprises to buy US firm for $53 million

Aug 16, 2016 0

Mumbai– Piramal Enterprises on Tuesday announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase the entire stake in US-based contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) Ash Stevens for $42.95 million and an earn-out consideration capped at $10 million.

The company said in a stock exchange filing here that its “wholly-owned US subsidiary has entered into an agreement to acquire 100 per cent stake in Ash Stevens Inc. in an all-cash deal for a total consideration of USD 42.95 million plus an earn-out consideration capped at USD 10 million, subject to achievement of certain EBITDA targets, payable over next six months.”

Vivek Sharma

Vivek Sharma

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of August.

“The acquisition of Ash Stevens fits well with our strategy to build an asset platform that offers value to our partners and collaborators,” said Vivek Sharma, chief executive of Piramal Pharma Solutions.

“Currently, around 25 per cent of the molecules in clinical development are potent. Our clients are looking for reliable partners that can assist them in advancing these programmes forward.

“We expect this acquisition to also be synergistic with our Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) and injectable business. We can now fulfil client requirements for a single source of supply for both high potent APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) and drug products,” he added.

“We look forward to working with the Piramal leadership and management team, to develop API solutions that benefit customers and improve the lives of patients,” Ash Stevens CEO Stephen Munk said.

Ash Stevens is a full service CDMO focused on development and manufacturing of high potency active pharmaceutical ingredients.

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