Archive for ‘India alert’


India’s Car-Sharing Startups Look to Change a Driving Culture – Businessweek

The startups, modeled after U.S. car-sharing service Zipcar (CAR), are gaining in popularity. Slow economic expansion has frozen income growth, and prime lending rates have risen 26 percent in the past five years, discouraging people from taking out car loans. “A lot of people don’t want to invest in cars,” says Abdul Majeed, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chennai. “With traffic congestion and cost of ownership rising, and with poor public transport in most cities, car-sharing is bound to take off.” For younger Indians joining the workforce, car-sharing comes free of the hassle of maintaining the cars.

Bandra–Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, India

Zoomcar, based in Bangalore, has attracted U.S. investors, including venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, which led an $8 million investment round in October, and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. Americans Greg Moran and David Back started the company in February 2013 with $650,000. They raised another $3 million last year. Summers was an early investor. “There were small-time operators, mom-and-pop type shops that didn’t have the technology and the right product,” says Moran, who, along with Back, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007.

via India’s Car-Sharing Startups Look to Change a Driving Culture – Businessweek.


South Asia Summit Nearing Failure as India, Pakistan Bicker – Businessweek

South Asian leaders overseeing a quarter of the world’s people struggled to agree on how to ease trade barriers in the region as India and Pakistan continued a decades-long row over a disputed border.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to meet every regional leader except Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a one-on-one meeting during a gathering in Nepal starting today. Leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, last held a summit in 2011.

Failure to agree on cross-border travel and electricity supply would risk derailing Modi’s plan to turn the bloc into a regional force that can counter China’s growing influence. Chinese leaders have promised to invest part of a $40 billion Silk Road fund on infrastructure in South Asia.

via South Asia Summit Nearing Failure as India, Pakistan Bicker – Businessweek.


China looms over South Asian summit in the Himalayas | Reuters

When eight South Asian leaders gather for a summit in Kathmandu on Wednesday, they will meet in a conference center donated by China to its cash-strapped Himalayan neighbor Nepal 27 years ago.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi watches a guard of honour upon his arrival for the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 25, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

In the decades since it built the modernist brick and glass hall, China has massively stepped up its presence in South Asia, supplying ports, power stations and weapons.

China’s advance has been aided by bickering between India and Pakistan that stymies almost all attempts at integration in a region that is home to a fifth of the world’s population but has barely any shared roads, fuel pipes or power lines.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not welcomed Beijing’s renewed suggestion its status be raised from “observer” in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), in which India is presently the only major power.

SAARC summits bring together leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Modi’s hope of using the group as a counterweight to China is unlikely to gain traction at the two-day Kathmandu meeting, with officials saying Pakistan is blocking deals to increase transport and energy connections.

Pakistan mooted the idea of upgrading China’s and South Korea’s status in the organization at a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers on Tuesday. It was quickly rebuffed by India.

via China looms over South Asian summit in the Himalayas | Reuters.


News Corp. invests in India real estate website – Businessweek

News Corp. says it has invested in a real estate website in India as it tries to grow its digital business.

The New York-based media company, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, owns the Wall Street Journal newspaper and HarperCollins book publisher and runs the real estate website

News Corp. said Monday that it paid $30 million for a 25 percent stake in Elara Technologies Pte Ltd., which owns the Indian website, A News Corp. executive will join Elara’s Singapore-based board.

Last year, News Corp. split its newspaper and publishing business from its more-

via News Corp. invests in India real estate website – Businessweek.


India to Double Renewables in Energy Mix, Minister Says – Businessweek

India plans to more than double the share of renewables in the mix of fuels it consumes, an effort to reduce the dominance of coal.

Renewables such as solar and wind may account for 15 percent of India’s energy supply in the next five years, up from 6 percent currently, said Piyush Goyal, a government minister in charge of power, said at a conference in New Delhi.

“While coal will continue to dominate our energy mix for sometime, we are taking steps to protect the environment,” Goyal said today. “Neither India nor the world has the luxury of time when it comes to protection of the environment.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to speed up clean energy deployment in India as it tries to attract more than $100 billion of investment for the industry in the next four years. At present, coal generates 60 percent electricity in a nation that suffers from chronic blackouts.

The minister reiterated his previously stated view that renewables can’t count on government subsidies for too long. He said the industry should focus on convincing banks to make funding for projects as easily available as loans for cars.

Modi’s administration reintroduced a tax break for the wind industry earlier this year. Goyal said he hopes those will help turbine installers add 8 gigawatts of capacity every year, a level that would make India one of the biggest wind markets in the world.

India plans to require power purchasers and generators to include renewable energy in their suppliers and will penalize those that don’t, he said.

India will host a renewables conference from Feb. 15 to Feb. 17 to encourage growth in the industry.

via India to Double Renewables in Energy Mix, Minister Says – Businessweek.


Nepal to ink India power deal during Modi visit – Businessweek

Nepal’s government is signing an agreement Tuesday with an Indian company to build a hydroelectricity plant that will export power to India and also boost supplies in the energy starved Himalayan nation.

The inking of the deal with Indian company Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. to build the 900 megawatt Arun III hydropower station will coincide with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to Nepal for a South Asian regional summit.

The $1.04 billion project is expected to begin producing electricity in 2020. More than three quarters of its output will be exported to India, said Ghanashyam Ojha, external affairs official at the Investment Board Nepal.

The Arun III agreement, which was endorsed by Nepal’s Cabinet late Monday, comes just two months after a similar deal with another Indian company.

They are the two biggest private foreign investments in Nepal, and put India ahead of neighboring China, which has long shown interest in developing Nepal’s power industry.

In September, Nepal signed an agreement with Indian company GMR to build the $1.15 billion Upper Karnali Hydro power plant.

via Nepal to ink India power deal during Modi visit – Businessweek.


India-Pakistan Sparring Opens Door for China in South Asia – Businessweek

For a senior Afghan diplomat sitting in India’s capital, it’s easy to explain how a region with a quarter of the world’s people can account for only five percent of global trade.

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping

“India and Pakistan need to overcome their problems,” M. Ashraf Haidari, deputy chief of mission at Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi, said in an interview ahead of this week’s meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC. “Summits happen, leaders come, there’s all this consensus and declarations announced. But unfortunately it doesn’t happen in reality.”

As leaders of eight SAARC countries meet in Nepal this week for the first time since 2011, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more reasons than ever to turn the bloc into a regional force to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia. Doing so will require him to overcome differences with Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif.

So far, things aren’t looking good. Modi’s government scrapped talks with Pakistan in August, which was followed by the worst border fighting between the countries in a decade. At the same time, China has promised SAARC nations part of a $40 billion Silk Road fund to finance infrastructure investments.

“SAARC won’t be able to counter China’s influence,” said Nishan de Mel, executive director and head of research at Colombo-based Verite Research Pvt., a policy research group. “China tends to have an approach that isn’t too demanding and isn’t politically difficult for the partner country and where the partner country will tend to see benefits quite quickly. India’s approach tends to be more hard-nosed.”

via India-Pakistan Sparring Opens Door for China in South Asia – Businessweek.


Priyanka Chopra in Pink Rubber Gloves Joins Modi’s Clean India Campaign – India Real Time – WSJ

In pink rubber gloves and a surgical mask, former Miss World and Bollywood movie star Priyanka Chopra is the latest celebrity to be enlisted to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Clean India Campaign.

In an 11-minute-film posted on YouTube, Ms. Chopra can be seen beginning a cleanup of an area where she filmed part of the movie “Agneepath.”

“I remember that there are people who live here and children who play on mounds of garbage and that is their life,” Ms. Chopra says in the short film as she directs a group picking up garbage in Versova in Mumbai. “The idea of doing this is to create something that is long-lasting,” Ms. Chopra adds during the video. “ I wanted to do something a little more than just cleaning a few piles of garbage.”

The film ends with shots of the area spruced up with murals and flower pots.

The Clean India campaign is Mr. Modi’s plan to create a sanitized India by 2019 in honor of the 150th anniversary of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. Ms. Chopra is the latest Bollywood star to get involved after Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan who have both been pictured with brooms in hand pledging support at the prime minister’s request.

via Priyanka Chopra in Pink Rubber Gloves Joins Modi’s Clean India Campaign – India Real Time – WSJ.


Mrs. Modi, This Is What You’re Entitled to as Wife of India’s PM – India Real Time – WSJ

Narendra Modi’s wife wants to know what privileges she is entitled to as the spouse of India’s prime minister.

Six months into the role, Jashodaben Chiman Modi has asked police why she must use the bus when her security detail travels in a government car and what perks she should be getting as the wife of the country’s most-powerful man.

“I am the wife of the prime minister and as per formal procedure, I want to know what other services am I supposed to get,” Mrs. Modi wrote in a submission under India’s right to information law, according to a spokeswoman at the police station where the document was received.

An odd request for such a person to make you might think but here’s the thing.

Until he filed election nomination papers in April ahead of national polls, Mr. Modi had never mentioned his wife publicly.

The pair had an arranged marriage in their teens and Mr. Modi left her soon after the ceremony. The couple have lived apart since though they are not divorced.

But, after Mr. Modi swept to power in May, his wife, a retired school teacher, was allotted 24-hour protection from five security commandos by the Gujarat police.

In the RTI application submitted Monday, Mrs. Modi stated that “I want to know under which legal clauses/provisions and acts of [Indian] Constitution have I been given the security cover,” according to the police spokeswoman. Mrs. Modi could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for the prime minister was not immediately available for comment.

Referring to the assassination of former prime minister of Indira Gandhi by her security guards in 1984, Mrs. Modi said she “is frightened by the presence” of the commandos and “asked for all the details of her personal bodyguards,” the spokeswoman said.

Besides, she also asked for information about the “other honors and benefits” she is authorized to receive as the prime minister’s wife.

via Mrs. Modi, This Is What You’re Entitled to as Wife of India’s PM – India Real Time – WSJ.


India names special envoy for China border talks | Reuters

India on Monday named its powerful national security adviser as a special envoy on China, opening the way for resumption of talks on the disputed border, where tensions have risen in recent months over border patrols and stiffer defenses.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool

Ajit Doval, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will lead the negotiations with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi to try and reach a settlement on dispute over the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border that has clouded rapidly expanding commercial links.

In September, the two armies were locked in a faceoff in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi.

Both leaders vowed to work together to resolve the border row that has defied a solution even after 17 rounds of high level talks over the last decade and negotiations even earlier between the diplomats of the two countries.

China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

Doval, a hardliner on national security issues, will conduct boundary negotiations as well as strategic consultations with China, Modi’s office said in a statement.

New Delhi has vowed to beef up defenses along the border to narrow the gap with China’s network of roads and communication links. Beijing has expressed concern about India’s plan to build roads and border outposts in Arunachal Pradesh in the east, which it refers to as south Tibet.

Indian officials say Chinese border patrols have been intruding deeper into their side of the de facto border, in a sign of assertiveness that has fueled concern in the region.

(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

via India names special envoy for China border talks | Reuters.


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