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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Christians condemn Patanjali’s Holy Cross commercials

Aug 16, 2016 0

Mumbai–The Indian Christian Voice (ICV) on Tuesday condemned yoga guru Baba Ramdev for a TV commercial which depicts the holy Cross while urging Indians to boycott all foreign products.

While the Christian community has no objections to Baba Ramdev’s boycott call, it is unhappy over the use of the holy Cross to show British rule in India.

“We strongly object to the depiction of the holy Cross, the very symbol of the Christian faith. We feel this is Baba Ramdev’s agenda of targeting a particular minority community. We demand that this commercial should be immediately withdrawn from all public domains,” ICV President Abraham Mathai told IANS.

Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev

Such demagoguery would definitely result in increased attacks on churches and Christian institutions in India, Mathai pointed out.

He added that ICV was writing to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other concerned officials and departments on the objectionable commercial.

The latest commercial shows a black-and-white clip depicting the pre-Independence ‘Swadeshi’ movement and suddenly zooms to a map of India with three crosses jutting out in three directions.

Between the crosses the words E, I and Co. are shown to represent the East India Company which subsequently paved the way for British colonial rule in India.

The ICV chief said that by obliquely singling out a particular minority community would make them vulnerable to hate attacks and extremism.

“All Indians of all communities have been living harmoniously side by side for centuries. The last thing we need is someone trying to make us a ‘one-religion’ country. Baba Ramdev and his followers would do well to understand the beauty of Indian democracy and brotherhood,” Mathai said.

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People on the Move: Sanj Patel, Prasad Parmeshwaran, Gaurav Sharma and Sandip Patel

Aug 15, 2016 0

Sanj K. Patel Joins the Board of Syros Pharmaceuticals

Sanj K. Patel

Sanj K. Patel

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Sanj K. Patel, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Synageva BioPharma Corp., has joined the board of directors of Cambridge, MA-based Syros Pharmaceuticals.

Syros Pharmaceuticals is pioneering the understanding of the non-coding region of the genome to advance a new wave of medicines that control expression of disease-driving genes. Syros has built a proprietary platform to systematically and efficiently analyze this unexploited region of DNA in human disease tissue to identify and drug novel targets linked to genomically defined patient populations.

Prasad Parmeshwaran Joins Cowen Group as Managing Director

Prasad Parmeshwaran

Prasad Parmeshwaran

NEW YORK- Prasad Parmeshwaran has joined as a managing director of the Health Care M&A and strategic advisory efforts at the Cowen Group, Inc., a diversified financial services firm.

Previously, Parmeshwaran spent over a decade at Goldman Sachs, initially in healthcare investment banking and then as an independent advisor for select Goldman Sachs health care portfolio companies.

Prior to joining Cowen, Parmeshwaran founded a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on investing and advising companies in the space. He began his career with Merrill Lynch’s investment banking team. He received a post graduate diploma from the Indian Institute of Management and an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

Cowen Group is a diversified financial services firm and, together with its consolidated subsidiaries, provides alternative asset management, investment banking, research, and sales and trading services through its two business segments: Ramius and its affiliates make up the Company’s alternative investment segment, while Cowen and Company, a member of FINRA and SIPC, and its affiliates make up the Company’s broker-dealer segment.

Sandip H. Patel Listed Among 2017 “Best Lawyers in America”

CHICAGO– Sandip H. Patel, a patent attorney with Chicago-based intellectual property law firm Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP, has been named to the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Published since 1983, Best Lawyers is called “the definitive guide to legal excellence” because it is based on over four million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers. Lawyers are selected for inclusion on the Best Lawyers in America list based exclusively on merit. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional experience, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.

MetLife Appoints Gaurav Sharma as CEO Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam–MetLife last month announced the appointment of Gaurav Sharma as Country CEO (General Director) for its Vietnam business, BIDV MetLife Life Insurance Limited Liability Company (“BIDV MetLife”). Sharma will be based in Hanoi, Vietnam and will report to the Board of Members of BIDV MetLife and also to Dr. Nirmala Menon, Head of Designated Markets and Health, Asia. The appointment is subject to regulatory approval.

Sharma began his career at MetLife in May 2007 and has been employed in a number of senior roles at PNB MetLife India Insurance Company Limited.. Sharma recently served as the Vice President and Head of Operations for the Designated Markets region and had direct responsibility for the operational set up of the Vietnam business.

Commenting on the appointment, Dr. Nirmala Menon, Head of Designated Markets and Health, Asia said: “I am delighted Gaurav has decided to take the role of country CEO. With more than 20 years in the industry, he has built a reputation for operational discipline, strong leadership, and consistent delivery against commitments. Gaurav is well positioned to leverage the combined strengths of MetLife and BIDV to capture the growth opportunities we see in Vietnam as we look to bolster the provision of insurance products and services to meet the rising demand.”

Sharma holds a Master’s in Business Law (National Law School of India) and is a Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI). He has also completed the prestigious Advanced Management Program from Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

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Indian economy highlights from Modi’s Independence Day address

Aug 15, 2016 0

New Delhi– Major comments on the Indian economy made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day address to the nation from the Red Fort here on Monday:

Modi-India Day-cut* Be it the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the World Economic Forum, they have all declared India to be the best destination for global capital.

* GST is one such tax reform that will help us bring financial stability. One nation, one grid and one price is what we have worked on.

* We are working with the RBI to bring inflation to the 4 per cent, plus-minus 2 per cent range. Under the previous government, the inflation level had crossed the 10 per cent mark, but we did not let it rise above 6 per cent.

* The government had brought down the cost of a Rs 350 LED bulb to Rs 50. We want to distribute 77 crore more LED bulbs.

*Earlier village roads were constructed at the rate of 70-75 km per day. Now we construct 100 km in a day.

* Public sector companies were always seen as ones that make losses. My government succeeded in bringing Air India back to a situation where it is logging operational profits. BSNL has also managed to report operational profit.

* The impossible was made possible by adding 21 crore people in the Jan Dhan Yojana.

* The government was trying to link all government schemes with Aadhaar to avoid leakage.

* Post offices will be converted into payment banks. With the advent of technology post offices are becoming irrelevant and the government is focusing on keeping them relevant.

* The government had decided to complete around 118 projects worth Rs 7.5 lakh crore of previous government which were pending for years.

* Pension for our freedom fighters will be increased by 20 per cent. So those who are receiving Rs 25,000 will now get Rs 30,000.

* It is my dream to double the income of farmers by 2022.

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Fact check of Prime Minister’s 70th Independence Day speech

Aug 15, 2016 0

New Delhi–A fact check on claims made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort:

* Claim: Linked 700 million to Aadhar and direct benefits

Modi-India DayFact: 716.7 million Aadhar-linked beneficiaries through various schemes as on March 31, 2016

* Claim: Solar energy grew by 116 per cent over one year

Fact: Growth of 95 per cent from 4 GW in June 2015 to 7.8 GW in June 2016

* Claim: Added 201 million people under JDY

Fact: More than 228 million bank accounts opened, 24 percent have no money

* Claim: Five million connections under Ujjwala LPG scheme

Fact: Applications cleared — 3.5 million, connections issed to 1.7 million households

* Claim: Mudra yojna benefited 35 million families; 80 per cent women benefitted

Fact: In 2015-16, 34.8 million accounts received loans; 79 per cent loans were for women, 18 per cent for SCs and 5 per cent for STs.

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Kejriwal announces 50 percent hike in minimum wages

Aug 15, 2016 0

New Delhi– Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday declared that minimum wages in Delhi will go up by about 50 per cent.

He also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement this throughout the country.

“Those who have less in life should have more in law. So we have decided to increase minimum wages in Delhi by about 50 per cent,” Kejriwal told a packed Chhatrasal Stadium on India’s 70th Independence Day.

He added that the decision would be notified after a cabinet meeting next week.

Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal

“The gap between the rich and poor increased due to the way previous governments functioned. The rich got richer and the poor became poorer,” he said.

“Now it is our government’s responsibility to improve the lot of the poor through policies like this,” the Aam Aadmi Party leader said to huge applause.

Once the notification is done, the minimum wage in Delhi for unskilled worker will increase from Rs 9,568 to Rs 14,000, for semi-skilled worker from Rs 10,600 to Rs 15,600 and for skilled worker from Rs 11,600 to Rs 17,000.

Kejriwal added that this will also give a boost to economy.

“We will make Delhi a happy place to live by using all the powers we have in our hand,” he said.

Delhi Law Minister Gopal Rai had on August 5 announced that the AAP government will be a gift to labourers on the occasion of Independence Day. (IANS)

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Yoga guru Baba Ramdev openly attacking multinationals, calling their products dangerous

Aug 15, 2016 0

By Sidhartha Dutta

New Delhi– Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is promoting ‘Make in India’ and actively seeking foreign investments, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev is openly attacking multinationals, calling their products “dangerous” in a concerted ad campaign.

MNCs are terming the campaign a marketing gimmick, but they can’t entirely ignore it either, as Ramdev’s consumer products empire is rapidly growing and challenging their bottomlines.

At stake is a piece of the $40 billion processed food industry, growing annually at 11 percent per year. Stakeholders hope the government will eventually crack down on the “misleading” advertisements of the Baba Ramdev-led Patanjali, whose top brass is considered close to the powers that be.

Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev

“We live in a democratic nation, where the consumer is king. The consumers decide what is good and what is bad for them,” said Sagar Kurade, President, All India Food Processors’ Association (AIFPA), reacting to the advertisements.

“This country has a policy in place where any multinational company is free to invest in the food processing sector and any domestic company is free to grow, considering the rules and regulations associated with the sector are adhered to,” Kurade told IANS.

In a promotional by Patanjali on 104.0 Fever FM, Baba Ramdev is himself leading the charge.

“Hair oils have cancer-causing mineral oils, biscuits and noodles have refined flour, drinks have cold drink (aerated drinks) and liquor, food items are adulterated, cosmetics have chemicals. These products, and foreign companies, are dangerous for us and our country,” he says.

“Since they take the country’s wealth outside and don’t do any charity work here, the alternative is Patanjali’s pure and home-produced campaign, the main aim of which is charity and patriotism. Adopt Patanjali and give economic freedom to our country.”

Such an advertising campaign comes close on the heels of India relaxing its foreign equity norms to allow 100 per cent investment in trading of food products that’s manufactured or produced in India, including sales through e-commerce, to cut wastage, check price rise and help farmers.

“In a vibrant economy — whether a domestic company is trying to become a multinational or a multinational is trying to capture domestic market — they are free to compete against each other,” Kurade said.

“Baba Ramdev is now a business professional like any other company. He’s promoting his brands. If the outlook was that only Indian products will be sold, then there are a number of Indian companies — Dabur and Emami are Indian companies,” added Amit Dhanuka, CEO of Kejriwal Bee Care India.

“This is just a marketing gimmick and nothing else,” added Dhanuka, a past President of AIFPA.

“There has already been a complaint against him (Baba Ramdev) the way he has been advertising and it is just a matter of time before the government will become harsh on him. This is something which is momentary and with time people will understand and all the image he has built will wane.”

Patanjali spokesperson S.K. Tijarawala defended the campaign. “Modi is the head of the government and free to keep the government’s view. I don’t think there’s any bar on trading and dealing with Indians,” he said, alluding that allowing foreign equity does not bar the domestic industry.

Both Kurade and Dhanuka, as also other stakeholders IANS spoke to — most of whom requested anonymity — felt that a large market like India cannot be dented by a single company, more so as it is dominated by small-scale units and the unorganised sector.

“The fact of the matter is that almost 75 per cent of the food processing industry is small- and medium-sized enterprises-sector driven. Big companies are primarily competing for 25 per cent of the market share,” said Kurade.

But the market for big players is also not small either. Patanjali, whose turnover was not officially known being a private, unlisted enterprise, recently said its income during 2015-16 was Rs 5,000 crore, with a target of Rs 10,000 crore this year.

In contrast, the operating income for the Indian arm of Nestle — that has a presence in this country for over 100 years — was a little over Rs 80,000 crore last calendar year, while for Britannia, which was set up around 125 years ago, it was around 8,500 crore in 2015-16.

Dhanuka also made a technical point on the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

“He (Baba Ramdev) is showing his products are approved by FSSAI. The fact is it doesn’t approve a product. It is a regulatory body. It comes out with different standards. As an Indian company, it (Patanjali) should follow them. Every company follows those regulations, not just Patanjali.”

Without going into the specifics of any issue, Patanjali’s Tijarawala said there was a need for an institution that trades in home-grown products and uses the profits for the development of the country.

“They (foreign companies) are taking the profits with them and that is of no use for India. Our country will strengthen only when we promote trade in the country by promoting and manufacturing of swadeshi (home-grown) goods. This will also generate employment,” he said.

Asked if this did not go against the government’s policies, Tijarawala said: “We don’t have any differences with the government. Let them bring FDI. Let them push ‘Make in India’. That’s their job. Our job is to strengthen our people by providing opportunities. Where is the controversy?”

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Tina Ambani launches multiple cancer initiatives for Maharashtra

Aug 13, 2016 0

Mumbai–In a major boost for oncology treatment, the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH), Andheri, here will set up 18 sophisticated cancer care centres in mofussil areas, a top official said here on Saturday.

KDAH Chairperson Tina Ambani also announced the launch of Edge Radiosurgery system — a first in South Asia — to offer a precise, non-invasive alternative to conventional cancer surgery.

“The launch of Edge and 18 cancer centres in Maharashtra not only represents a significant milestone in our journey but reaffirms KDAH’s endeavour to make international innovations available and accessible to all Indians,” Tina Ambani said on the occasion.

She described cancer as “one of the biggest public health challenges of our times” which the KDAH was ready to tackle head on with its medical talent and world-class technology as part of its focus on advancing healthcare technologies and medical excellent to facilitate healthcare access in the country.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the launch of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospitals Oncology Program

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the launch of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospitals Oncology Program

Lauding the KDAH move, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said it would take the fight against cancer to the next level and the state needs many more such institutes to take the initiative in advancement in healthcare.

“The launch of Edge is important because the precision technology will not only bring down cost but also reduce the pain and trauma of the patients and their families. KDAH has become a technological milestone in the country,” Fadnavis said.

The Reliance Group’s KDAH will acquire 18 advanced TrueBeam medical linear accelerators to equip the new cancer centres in Maharashtra, the first of which are likely to be operational in Akola, Gondia and Solapur in 2017, and the rest will roll out in a couple of years.

The evolution in advanced surgery was facilitated in the presence of internationally renowned radiation oncology specialists — Dr. M. Salim U. Siddiqui from Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, USA and Prof. Carlo Greco, Managing Director and Director of Clinical Research, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal.

The two medicos Siddiqui and Greco are in India to share their knowledge and expertise in the new technology among leading oncologists from India.

Explaining the benefits of Edge Radiosurgery, KDAH’s head of Radiation Oncology Dr. Kaustav Talapatra said its a non-invasive technique using a GPS-enabled tracking device that helps the radiologist constantly track the movement of affected cells even as treatment is being delivered, allowing treatment with a high degree of accuracy.

“This precision radiation provides huge advantages in term of convenience, cost and comfort for patients as the number of sessions reduces significantly, with no incision or hospital stay, thereby enabling them to return to their normal lives within 15-30 minutes or less,” Talapatra said.

Ashok Kakkar, Sr. MD, Varian India which is the market and technology leader in radiotherapy and radiosurgery systems, said KDAH’s plan to install 18 TrueBeam machines is the largest, one-time commitment by any single institute.

“This is a major investment program by KDAH to remain ahead of the curve in adopting latest technologies in line with the best global practises in the area of Cancer care across the state of Maharashtra,” Kakkar said.

KDAH’s Centre for Cancer deals with the widest range of cancers and brings together multidisciplinary expertise under a single roof to offer a broad scope of cancer services, public education, screening, diagnosis, treatment, pain management and palliative care.

According to National Cancer Institute, a whopping 1.25 million new cancer cases are reported every year in India, but there are only a few comprehensive cancer care centres in the country, with a majority located in the metros. (IANS)

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Indian-American, who sold two firms for $340 million, sentenced to jail for domestic violence

Aug 13, 2016 0

San Francisco– A San Francisco judge has sentenced former technology mogul Gurbaksh Chahal to one year in jail for violating his probation in a 2014 domestic violence case.

Chahal, 34, who made a fortune in the advertisement technology business, has been charged with domestic violence for allegedly hitting his then girlfriend 117 times in 2014, reported on Saturday.

Gurbaksh S. Chahal (Photo courtesy: Under 30

Gurbaksh S. Chahal (Photo courtesy: Under 30

He was accused of attacking another woman in the same year.

Chahal was, at the time, already on probation after pleading guilty to two misdemeanours of battery and domestic violence.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Tracie Brown has now ruled that there was enough evidence in the case to revoke Chahal’s probation.

Brown ordered him to turn over his passport as well as transfer the ownership of Gravity4 — his ad tech company — to his sister.

Chahal gained fame when he sold his startup ‘BlueLithium’ for $300 million to Yahoo at age 25.

Born in 1982 in Punjab, Chahal is the youngest of four children and moved to the US with his parents at age 3.

At 16, in 1998, he dropped out of school to start his own digital advertising company, Click Agents. Within two years, Chahal sold Click Agents for $40 million.

By 2008, he became a Silicon Valley legend.

In 2009 the syndicated entertainment programme “Extra TV” named him one of the America’s “most eligible bachelors.”

Oprah Winfrey interviewed him on a segment of her show she called “Millionaire Moguls.”

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