Archive for ‘India alert’

22/01/2015

Now Is the Time to Start a Company in India says Pulse Founder – India Real Time – WSJ

Ankit Gupta, the co-founder of Pulse a news aggregating app that was purchased by LinkedIn, has spent the past two weeks traveling across India meeting startup founders and trying to find out what is behind the recent surge in acquisitions of Indian companies by U.S.-based firms.

His conclusion? Now is the time to start a company in India, but if that sounds too risky, here are a few other ways he suggests you can contribute to the startup ecosystem.

Work for an Indian startup. There is a huge demand for good talent, especially at senior levels. Salaries over $200,000 aren’t unheard of.

Invest in startups. Your college network can be very effective in finding them. Angel list and termsheet.io are good resources as well.

Use Indian products and send them feedback. Help Indian products get distribution in your country.

Signup for this newsletter Mr. Gupta started to stay informed about new products launching in India.

via Now Is the Time to Start a Company in India says Pulse Founder – India Real Time – WSJ.

22/01/2015

India wants to reduce subsidies to cut expenditure – Jaitley | Reuters

India wants to reduce its subsidy bill, estimated at near two percent of its gross domestic product, to cut down state expenditure and transfer funds to other sectors, the finance minister said.

“Subsidies for the poor will remain, but we intend to rationalise it,” Arun Jaitley said at an event in Davos on Thursday.

“Elimination of subsidies in India, where one-third of the people are still living in poverty conditions, is not possible, is not desirable.”

Jaitley will present his first full-year budget for 2015/16 fiscal year on Feb. 28.

via India wants to reduce subsidies to cut expenditure – Jaitley | Reuters.

21/01/2015

India’s Poor Are More Upwardly Mobile Than You Think – India Real Time – WSJ

Despite India’s reputation as a country where millions of families are stuck in grinding poverty, a new World Bank report shows that a surpassingly large portion of the South Asian nation’s poor population has been finding its way out of poverty.

The report titled “Addressing Inequality in South Asia,”– which looked at the gaps between the haves and have-nots in India and its neighbors– looked at different income groups and how they changed over the five year period up to March 31, 2010.

Over that period close to 40% of the people that had been classified as poor had clawed their way above the poverty line. Of course, the income mobility went both ways, but was not as bad on the down side. Around 15% of the people that had been previously classified as middle class or just above the poverty line fell into poverty over the five years.

via India’s Poor Are More Upwardly Mobile Than You Think – India Real Time – WSJ.

21/01/2015

India’s Tiger Population: Reading Between the Lines – India Real Time – WSJ

India this week cheered figures that showed it now has the largest tiger population in the world.

A 30.5% jump in the big cat headcount since the last census in 2011 means there are now 2,226 tigers in India – that’s 70% of all the tigers in the world.

“That is a huge success story,” Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar said. “We must be proud of our legacy and we must be proud of our efforts.”

But what the minister didn’t say was that the rate of tiger poaching has been increasing over the same time, according to figures from the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

The government says that between 2011 and 2014, there were 274 tiger deaths. Most of them –192 — lost to poaching or unexplained causes.   Authorities said poaching caused 83 of the total number of tiger deaths and acknowledged that they have not identified causes for 109 other deaths.

The WPSI says that those figures are an underestimate. According to data it has compiled, 110 tigers were killed by poachers between 2011 and 2014. Even that may be understating the actual number, says Tito Joseph, program manager at WPSI. “Because of demand for tiger products from other countries, we can only assume that some cases go undetected,” Mr. Joseph said. Those deaths that are unexplained could be as a result of poaching, he added.

via India’s Tiger Population: Reading Between the Lines – India Real Time – WSJ.

21/01/2015

As Obama visits, signs that India is pushing back against China | Reuters

When Sri Lanka unexpectedly turfed out President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an election this month, it was the biggest setback in decades for China’s expansion into South Asia – and a remarkable diplomatic victory for India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a campaign rally ahead of state assembly elections, at Ramlila ground in New Delhi January 10, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

Despite New Delhi’s protestations, diplomats and politicians in the region say India played a role in organizing the opposition against pro-China Rajapaksa.

His successor, President Maithripala Sirisena, has said India is the “first, main concern” of his foreign policy and that he will review all projects awarded to Chinese firms, including a sea reclamation development in Colombo that would give Beijing a strategic toehold on India’s doorstep.

India has pushed back against China elsewhere in the region since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May, improving ties with Japan and Vietnam, both locked in territorial disputes with Beijing, and contesting a port project in Bangladesh that could otherwise have been a cakewalk for China.

The new robust diplomacy, which Modi calls “Act East”, has delighted Washington, which has been nudging India for years to dovetail with the U.S. strategic pivot toward the region.

When President Barack Obama makes a landmark visit to India starting Sunday, he will be the chief guest at New Delhi’s showpiece Republic Day military parade, and rarely for a presidential trip, is not scheduled to visit any other country before returning to Washington.

“What is appealing to me and my colleagues is the fact that Prime Minister Modi has undertaken to build from what has been a ‘Look East’ policy to an ‘Act East’ policy,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel said in Washington last month.

“He has shown in word and deed his interest in involving India in the thinking and the affairs of the broader region. That’s very much to be welcomed.”

Washington made no bones about its distaste for Rajapaksa, who critics accuse of war crimes, corrruption and nepotism. But until last year India was indecisive, perhaps afraid of pushing the hero of the war against Tamil separatists even closer to China.

That changed in September, when Rajapaksa allowed a Chinese submarine to dock in Colombo, without informing India, as it was bound to under an existing agreement.

“That was the last straw,” a senior Indian diplomat told Reuters.

“He told Modi: “the next time I will keep you informed,”” the diplomat said, a promise that was broken when the submarine visited again in November.

In the build up to the Jan 8 election, India played a role in uniting Sri Lanka’s usually fractious opposition, for which the station chief of India’s spy agency was expelled, diplomatic and political sources say.

“At least that was the perception of Mahinda Rajapkasa,” said M.A. Sumanthiran, a prominent member of the Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of parties close to India. “He managed to get one of their top diplomats recalled.”

The Indian government denies any of its officers was expelled. But Sumanthiran said Modi had in a meeting encouraged the Tamil alliance to join forces with others in politics.

“The Indians realized that you can’t do business with this man and they were hoping for a change,” he said.

“FAMILY MATTER”

On Friday, Sri Lanka said it would review a $1.5 billion deal with China Communication Construction Co Ltd to build a 233 hectare patch of real estate on redeveloped land overlooking Colombo’s South Port.

In return, China was to get land on a freehold basis in the development. This is of particular concern for India, the destination for the majority of the trans shipment cargo through Colombo.

“The message is clear, that you do not ignore Indian security concerns,” said the Indian diplomatic source.

Modi is looking for similar good news elsewhere in South Asia. He has already visited Nepal twice, becoming the first Indian prime minister to travel to the Himalayan buffer state with China in 17 years, and signing long delayed power projects.

India has muscled into an $8 billion deep water port project that Bangladesh wants to develop in Sonadia in the Bay of Bengal, with the Adani Group, a company close to Modi, submitting a proposal in October. China Harbour Engineering Company, an early bidder, was previously the front-runner.

“Modi is willing to engage on long-term issues that stretch beyond India’s border, including maritime security in the South China Sea, as well as North Korea and Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria,” said Richard Rossow at policy think tank CSIS.

“That’s when we start to think about India as a regional global provider – or as a global provider of security.”

However, the bonhomie has limits – India and the United States do not see eye-to-eye on Pakistan, New Delhi’s traditional foe that enjoys substantial funding from Washington.

Tricky conflicts over trade and intellectual property hold back business, and India has limits to its ability to project force outside its immediate neighborhood.

But Modi’s policies mark a departure from India’s traditional non-aligned approach to foreign power blocs.

“Having the U.S. president at the Republic Day celebration is a good thing, he is blessing Modi,” said Mohan Guruswamy, of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a think-tank.

“And that is a lesson to the Chinese that you have to mend your fences with us.”

via As Obama visits, signs that India is pushing back against China | Reuters.

20/01/2015

Obama’s Seven Habits for a Highly Successful India Visit – India Real Time – WSJ

U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to India won’t be his first trip to the country.

Mr. Obama and the First Lady last swept through Delhi and Mumbai in November 2010 in a carefully- choreographed charm offensive, addressing sensitive issues such as Pakistan and the U.N. Security Council, while finding time to dance at a high school and speak a bit of Hindi.

Much has changed in India since Mr. Obama last arrived on its shores: the government, the prime minister, the number of international coffee and burger chains. Many things haven’t altered however and by the time he leaves next week, the president will be something of an old hand in the world’s largest democracy. By visiting a second time, he becomes the only serving U.S. president to have made two official trips to India.

1. Back a Bid

India has for years coveted a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. In Mr. Obama’s 2010 visit, he used a speech to the Indian Parliament  to back the country’s inclusion “in the years to come” as a permanent member of the council with power of veto.

2. Tread Carefully on Pakistan

Any world leader visiting India must choose their words on the country’s rival Pakistan carefully.  In the same speech to the Indian Parliament, Mr Obama said the U.S. insisted Pakistan limit terrorist-safe havens within its borders, adding: “We must also recognize that all of us have an interest in both an Afghanistan and a Pakistan that is stable, prosperous and democratic—and none more so than India.”

3. Make a Trade Announcement…

Mr. Obama was in Mumbai when he announced a loosening of restrictions on U.S. exports to India. The move was aimed at making it easier for U.S. companies to export technology for military and non-military use after the U.S. imposed controls on trade with India in dual-use technologies — items that have both military and peaceful purposes – after India’s nuclear-weapons tests in 1998.

The president said: “We’re taking the necessary steps to strengthen this relationship.”

4. …And Ask for Something Back

Mr. Obama asked India to reduce barriers in sectors such as agriculture, retail and telecommunications to promote trade. “In a global economy, new growth and jobs flow to countries that lower barriers to trade and investment,” he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, embrace following a joint statement and press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2010. Associated Press

5. Work on Chemistry

Ahead of the 2010 meeting, both Mr. Obama and then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh echoed each other’s language on the relationship between their two countries. “I think the India-United States relationship has entered a new phase,” Mr. Singh said before Mr. Obama’s visit.

6. Pick Your Battles

There was much speculation that Mr. Obama would touch on the issue of the outsourcing of U.S. jobs to India during his 2010 visit. In the end, he deftly sidestepped the issue in the name of healthy competition:

“There are many Americans whose only experience with trade and globalization has been a shuttered factory or a job that was shipped overseas,” he said, adding that many Americans still had a “caricature” of India as a place with call centers where U.S. jobs have been outsourced.

On another touchy subject, Kashmir, Mr. Obama let Mr. Singh do the talking. Mr. Singh said he wanted to reduce tensions with Pakistan, including over Kashmir, but could not do so unless Islamabad cracked down on terrorism.

U.S. President Barack Obama bows as he arrives to deliver a speech at Parliament House in New Delhi Nov. 8, 2010. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

7. Visit the Right Places, Wear the Right Things, Use the Local Lingo

Photogenic India provided Mr. and Mrs. Obama with ample visual material. Mrs. Obama gamely joined children dancing at a high school in Mumbai, eventually persuading the president to join her. She also took part in a game of hopscotch and urged students at a college in Mumbai to “keep dreaming big huge, gigantic dreams–for your community and for your world.”

Perhaps the most arduous part of the visit of any dignitary to another country is avoiding any faux pas, embarrassing photographs or poor sartorial choices.

Mr. Obama’s staff carefully chose Humayun’s tomb in New Delhi as an appropriate tourist destination for the president.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama’s outfits were carefully scrutinized for any embarrassing mistakes – which she seemed to avoid.

Mr. Obama rounded off the whirlwind tour with the crowd-pleasing cry in Hindi of ‘jai hind!’, or ‘hail India!’ at the end of his speech to the Indian Parliament.

via Obama’s Seven Habits for a Highly Successful India Visit – India Real Time – WSJ.

19/01/2015

“Take money from BJP & Congress, but vote for AAP” – The Hindu

Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal was on Sunday at the centre of a controversy when he asked voters in Delhi to take the money offered by the BJP and the Congress but “fool” them by voting for the AAP in the coming Delhi Assembly elections, drawing sharp criticism from both the parties.

Mr. Kejriwal asked voters to “fool” BJP and Congress by voting for AAP even after accepting the “bribe money” as the parties have been “fooling people for the last 65 years.”File photo

“It’s election time. When people from the BJP and the Congress come offering money, don’t refuse, accept … some have looted money from 2G, some have looted money from coal scam.”

“And if any party does not show up, go to its office and take the amount saying we were waiting but you didn’t come,” Mr. Kejriwal said amid cheers from the crowd.

The former Delhi Chief Minister was speaking at a rally in West Delhi’s Nawada area in support of the AAP’s Uttam Nagar candidate, Naresh Balyan.

“Take money from both the parties but vote for the AAP. We will fool them this time. They have been deceiving us for the last 65 years. Now it’s our turn,” he said.

The BJP lashed out at the AAP chief saying his comments amounted to questioning the authority of the Election Commission apart from being an affront to the voters.

“He is essentially saying that voters accept money and alcohol. His comments also mean that the EC is not working properly as money and alcohol are getting distributed,” BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said.

The Congress said the party would seek legal opinion to approach the EC against Mr. Kejriwal for “insulting” the people of Delhi.

“Making such statements is illegal. It is like offering money to the people,” said Ajay Maken, who is campaign committee chief of the Congress in Delhi.

via “Take money from BJP & Congress, but vote for AAP” – The Hindu.

19/01/2015

India’s New Pink Taxi Fleet for Women Offers Pepper Spray, Panic Buttons – India Real Time – WSJ

One of India’s largest taxi companies says it has a solution for women worried about their safety after the alleged rape by an Uber driver: pink cabs with pepper spray.

Meru Cab chief executive Siddhartha Pahwa announced the new service–called Meru Eve– Friday from a dais decorated with daisies and gladioli.

“The incident last month forced all of us to think how we can make roads safer for women,” he said.

Its new line of taxis in Delhi will be driven by women . They will have pepper spray and panic buttons that immediately notify Meru if there is trouble.

There have been taxi services for women for years-such as ForShe Taxis and Sakha Cabs–but Meru Eve promises to take the concept to the next level. The service started in the capital region Friday with around 20 vehicles and may be rolled out in other cities later.

Meru worked with the Delhi police to equip the cabs and give the women drivers self-defense training to protect themselves and their passengers.

Meru’s Mr. Pahwa said that after the alleged rape of a female passenger by an Uber driver, Meru received calls from anxious passengers asking for female taxi drivers.

“This is an important step towards women’s empowerment,” said Tajender Singh Luthra, a joint commissioner of police in Delhi.

Meru’s regular drivers have always been given specific training on the appropriate ways to interact with women passengers. It says it has never had a complaint but decided to go further to make women passengers feel more safe.

“These drivers come from small towns and are not used to big city culture, like women smoking, wearing a short dress or travelling alone at night,” Mr. Pahwa said. “We train our drivers to avoid eye contact with women, maintain two feet of distance and not to adjust the rear view mirror to watch the passenger.”

The Meru Eve drivers will wear pink vests and drive white-and-pink hatchbacks.

One of the new drivers, 22-year-old Sarita Dixit, said that she expects her income to jump with demand for women drivers as more companies start women taxi services. Meru drivers typically earn between 20,000 and 30,000 rupees ($322 to $483) a month, which is more than she earned in her last job working as a chauffeur.

The new services will not only help empower women that can afford taxis but also woman looking for work, said Vimla Mehra, Delhi’s special police commissioner for administration.

“You don’t see many women professionals in India. Programs like this build confidence in women to earn a living. They become role models,” she said.

via India’s New Pink Taxi Fleet for Women Offers Pepper Spray, Panic Buttons – India Real Time – WSJ.

17/01/2015

IAF gets first light combat aircraft – The Hindu

Thirty—two years after the project was sanctioned, the first indigenously—built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was handed over by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to the IAF on Saturday, a red letter day for the Indian defence and aerospace sector.

A file photo of the Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' at the Yelahanka Air Base in Bengaluru.

The handover signals the start of a process of induction of the fighters being built at home under a project which has already cost the exchequer nearly Rs. 8,000 crore.

The entire project by the DRDO and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is estimated to cost over Rs. 30,000 crore.

The aircraft that has been handed over has got Initial Operational Clearance—II, which signifies that Tejas is airworthy in different conditions, sources said. The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) is expected by the year—end.

This version of the aircraft lacks the latest electronic warfare suite, which was integrated into one of the LCAs two weeks ago, mid—air refuelling and long—range missiles capabilities, among other things that the FOC—configuration aircraft will have.

The IOC—I was granted to the aircraft, being built by state—owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), in January 2011.

via IAF gets first light combat aircraft – The Hindu.

15/01/2015

India’s Courts Resist Reform; Backlog at 31.4 Million Cases – Businessweek

Puneet Mittal, trim and sharply dressed, walks into the lobby of his law office in affluent South Delhi, a smartphone pressed to his ear. He turns to a recently hired associate, Bhavesh Verma. “We’re leaving at 9:30. And I don’t want to waste time.” But through no fault of his own, that’s just what Mittal’s going to do.

India’s Supreme Court

He is making his daily plunge into India’s court system, a maze of delays and procedures that puts even the most basic justice out of reach for millions. At the end of 2013, there were 31,367,915 open cases working their way through the system, from the lowest chambers to the Supreme Court. If the nation’s judges attacked their backlog nonstop—with no breaks for eating or sleeping—and closed 100 cases every hour, it would take more than 35 years to catch up, according to Bloomberg Businessweek calculations. India had only 15.5 judges for every million people in 2013, then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the time. The U.S. has more than 100 judges for every million.

Beneath a top layer of established attorneys such as Mittal, the courts are plagued by “goondas in black,” a phrase that pairs the Hindi word for “goons” with a sly reference to the black suit jackets lawyers wear in court. To keep collecting fees, these lawyers demand one hearing after another, with no intention of seeking a resolution for their clients, says Alok Prasanna Kumar, senior resident fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, which advocates for a more efficient system. Or, he says, they resort to extortion to make up for a lack of income. A “significant number” of the lawyers, especially outside the capital, have practices that don’t sustain them. That leads them to clog the system with pointless litigation: “The bar in India is in a very bad shape,” Kumar says.

In 2013 there were 31,367,915 open cases in India, from the lowest courts to the Supreme Court

Even the best attorneys can have low-stakes lawsuits last a decade or more. New Delhi lawyer Murari Tiwari describes one 20-year property dispute: His original client has died, as has one of his sons. While the case crawls through the courts, Tiwari says, the two families in litigation, one including an auto-rickshaw driver and the other a retired policeman, live on opposite sides of the same building in an icy détente.

via India’s Courts Resist Reform; Backlog at 31.4 Million Cases – Businessweek.

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