Archive for ‘India alert’


Modi woos investors in Singapore – The Hindu

Promising more reforms to make India more attractive for foreign investments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday assured investors that he would “carefully hold” their hands and expressed hope that the GST would be rolled out in 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Institute of Technical Education College in Singapore on Tuesday.

Speaking at the India Singapore Economic Convention, Mr. Modi said India is exploring a potential partnership with Singapore’s Changi Airport for developments of two Indian airports and invited companies to join in building smart cities.

“In the last 18 months, the runways for the take-off of the economy have been made. Reforms are happening in a big way. They are now reaching to the last mile. Reform is to transform the system so that they perform. They aim at helping people realise their dreams. It means more charm on the faces and less forms in the offices. Efforts to deepen financial markets have been made,” he said.

‘Most open economy

The Prime Minister said his government began to liberalise FDI laws soon after coming to power last year and the latest round of FDI reforms have made India the “most open economy” in the world.

“We are also conscious of last mile operational issues in such matters and we are fine tuning the norms. Recently, we further eased FDI norms, after which India is the most open economy in terms of FDI,” he added.

While talking about 40 per cent increase in FDI and improvement in rankings like ease of doing business and world competitiveness index, Mr. Modi said, “Perceptions are turning into positive outcomes”.

“We are hopeful to roll out GST regime in 2016. The company law tribunal is being set up. FDI inflows have gone up by 40 per cent compared with previous year’s comparative period. Perceptions are turning into positive outcomes. FDI commitments are translating into reality,” he noted.

Modi also outlined 14 decisive steps taken to address regulatory and taxation concerns and said that India offers tremendous opportunities for investments, ranging from affordable housing to smart cities, railways to renewable energy.

Source: Modi woos investors in Singapore – The Hindu


How Modi Dealt With Pointed Questions From the British Press – India Real Time – WSJ

Narendra Modi hasn’t given a news conference in India since becoming prime minister last year.

So when he arrived in the U.K. on Thursday and addressed the media with his counterpart, David Cameron, British reporters seized the opportunity to ask a few pointed questions.

Referring to recent incidents of religious violence, BBC correspondent Justin Rowlatt kicked off by asking Mr. Modi: “India is becoming an increasingly intolerant place. Why?”

Mr. Modi answered, in Hindi: “India is the land of Buddha. India is the land of Gandhi. And so, it is in our culture and blood that we don’t accept anything against the basic values of society.”

He continued: “For us, every incident is serious. We don’t tolerate it under any circumstances. Law takes strict action and will continue to do so. India is a vibrant democracy, and its constitution provides for the safety of people from all strata of society. We are committed to protecting freedom of thought.”

A little later in the news conference, Guardian reporter Nicholas Watt asked Mr. Cameron what he felt about the visit. “How comfortable do you feel welcoming Prime Minister Modi to this country given that for the first two years of your premiership he was not permitted to visit this country because of his record as chief minister of Gujarat?”

The U.K. distanced itself from Gujarat and Mr. Modi after religious riots in the state that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in 2002, when Mr. Modi was the state’s top official. Mr. Modi has denied wrongdoing and court investigations have said there isn’t enough evidence to prosecute him.

Mr. Watt then asked about Europe’s migrant crisis and the U.K.’s referendum on European Union membership before turning back to India.

“Prime Minister Modi, can I ask you: Tomorrow night you will obviously have a rapturous reception at Wembley Stadium. But there are a number of protesters out today who are saying—and I am wondering what you say to them—that given your record as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, you do not deserve the respect that would normally be accorded to the leader of the world’s largest democracy.”

Mr. Cameron answered by citing Mr. Modi’s “record and historic majority” in the Indian parliament after the 2014 election. Mr. Modi then said he was never denied entry to the U.K. The U.S. refused him a visa in 2005 based on his response to the riots but issued him one in 2014, after he became prime minister.

“To keep the record straight, I would like to give some information,” Mr. Modi said. “I came here in 2003 and received a big welcome and respect, and participated in several programs. The U.K. has never stopped me from coming here, has never imposed any restrictions. I couldn’t come here due to a lack of time. That’s a different issue. So this is a wrong perception. Please correct it.”

Mr. Modi then spoke on the British referendum and proceeded to take a question on trade and economic cooperation from an Indian reporter. He never directly addressed the last part of Mr. Watt’s question.

Source: How Modi Dealt With Pointed Questions From the British Press – India Real Time – WSJ


LIVE: PM Modi arrives in UK – The Hindu

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Air India aircraft made touchdown this morning at 10 a.m. in Heathrow for his long-awaited bilateral level visit to the United Kingdom — his first since becoming Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron with their delegations during talks at 10, Downing Street in London on Thursday. Photo: PMO

He was met at the airport by Hugo Swire, Minister of State for the Foreign Office, and Priti Patel, Minister for Employment and Diaspora Champion in the David Cameron government. His visit carries expectations for agreements and partnerships worth billions of dollars across defence, security, finance and sectors like education, research and health.

Mr. Modi is accompanied by a high power business delegation that included Cyrus P. Mistry, chairman, Tata Sons, Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman, Bharti Enterprises Limited and N. Chandrasekaran, CEO and managing director of Tata Consultancy Services.

Mr. Modi will be greeted by a Guard of Honour at Westminster,which will be followed by delegation level talks at 10 Downing Street with Mr. Cameron. The two Prime Ministers will address a joint press conference after which Mr. Modi will deliver his speech in parliament. He will also garland the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. The evening will see important agreements between the two country delegations finalised at Guildhall, City of London. Mr. Modi will stay the night at the Prime Minister’s country residence at Chequers.

The pomp and ceremony attached to the visit is expected to include a special tricolour flypast by the Red Arrows Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerobatic Team over the Buckingham Palace before the Prime Minister sits down for lunch with Queen Elizabeth II ahead of his mega diaspora address at the iconic Wembley Stadium in north London.

Source: LIVE: PM Modi arrives in UK – The Hindu


Modi pledges 800 billion rupees in relief and development for Kashmir | Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged 800 billion rupees ($12.10 billion) in funds to bolster development and economic growth in Kashmir, a year after the worst flooding in more than a century destroyed half a million homes there.

Addressing several thousand people in a cricket stadium in the northern state’s capital of Srinagar, Modi said he wanted to go beyond helping flood victims. He promised to create jobs for Kashmiri youth by improving education and promoting industries, including tourism and cashmere wool.

“The biggest task at hand here is to find work for the youth of Kashmir and Ladakh … our youth should get the cheapest and the best education, and of global standards,” he said. Ladakh is another mountainous region in the north.

Saturday’s visit is Modi’s first this year to the disputed territory which has been plagued by militant violence for years. Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part.

Violence in India’s only Muslim-majority region has eased significantly from levels in the 1990s, when armed revolt against Indian rule erupted.

Kashmiris have been protesting against a lack of central aid for last year’s floods that the state government estimates caused $16 billion of damage.

Security forces in Kashmir detained nearly 400 separatists on Friday to prevent them from holding an anti-government protest march during Modi’s visit.

Hours before Modi’s rally, in footage screened on national television, police detained an independent parliamentarian, Engineer Rashid, for protesting with black flags.

Security was tight with paramilitary forces and sharpshooters deployed, while schools and colleges were shut. Internet services were suspended hours before Modi arrived.

In his 40-minute speech, Modi highlighted progress, promising improved road and rail networks, as well as branches of India’s prestigious management and technology institutes.

“Kashmir has suffered a lot … the dreams of several generations have been shattered, but I have the confidence that my Kashmir will rise again,” he said.

Comparing the devastation from the floods to that in his home state of Gujarat after an earthquake in 2001, Modi said: “thousands died … homes were destroyed … nobody believed we would be able to rebuild so quickly.”

India accuses Pakistan of backing the separatist militants fighting security forces in Indian Kashmir. Pakistan denies that saying it only offers diplomatic support to Kashmir’s suppressed Muslims.

Source: Modi pledges 800 billion rupees in relief and development for Kashmir | Reuters


India’s Consumers Are World’s Most Confident – India Real Time – WSJ

India might be facing a slow recovery, but consumers aren’t deterred, putting the country at the top of a confidence survey of major economies.

India came first for consumer confidence among 61 countries in the July-September period in the online survey conducted by New York-based research firm The Nielsen Company.

The country’s positive reading, which measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and spending intentions, comes at a time when confidence declined in eight of the 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Indian consumers continue to declare a resilient outlook in the face of uncertainty in the broader economy,” said Roosevelt D’Souza, senior vice president, Nielsen India Region.

Despite weak economic indicators, a poor monsoon and volatility in the job market, Indians’ belief in the fundamental prospects of the country’s economic future appear unshaken and the proportion of consumers who see brighter days ahead are growing, Mr. D’Souza said.

The Indian central bank’s softer interest rate regime and lower inflation are also likely to brighten the prospects of further improvement in consumer confidence, the survey shows.

This might be good news for the economy and consumer goods companies, who reported slow growth in their revenues for the past few quarters because of lower purchases by rural consumers.

China, India’s bigger neighbor and the world’s second-largest economy, ranked ninth in the survey, while the U.S. occupied second place.

The U.S. showed the biggest quarterly improvement of 18 points in the consumer confidence index, but China showed a decline of one point. Its economy has been racked in recent months by an unexpected slowdown and stock market rout.

Other Asian countries that found a place in the top 10 are the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand.

Source: India’s Consumers Are World’s Most Confident – India Real Time – WSJ


Xiaomi’s Big Bet on Indian Internet Revolution Starts to Pay Off – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The sales are a significant rise compared with the three million phones the company said it sold in its first year of business in India.

Xiaomi aims to sell 80 to 100 million smartphones this year and has been valued by investors at $46 billion. But increasing competition at home, from companies who mimic Xiaomi’s business model of selling high-end phones at low prices, will make it tough to meet its sales target. So the five-year-old startup is setting its hopes on growth in India. Xiaomi found success in China by combining razor-thin profit margins on hardware with glitzy product launches that helped build its fanbase.

The closely-held company needs to prove that it can export its business model to other countries to continue to justify its high valuation.

Xiaomi introduced its first model, the Mi 4i, outside China, at a launch in New Delhi in April. In August, it said it would begin assembling its entry-level Redmi 2 Prime in India.

Xiaomi’s recent success in India shows that its model can work there, said the company’s Vice President Hugo Barra. Since January, sales in the South Asian country increased 45% quarter-over-quarter, on average.

The firm’s Indian office is tweaking Xiaomi’s model of Internet flash sales, designed to boost demand and cut costs. During the company’s sale for the Hindu holiday Diwali, items were sold for as little as a rupee. “Some people bought a Mi TV for one rupee,” Mr. Barra said. One rupee is equal to $0.02. The heavily discounted deals meant that Xiaomi spent nothing on marketing. “This is an idea the India team came up with that you will see reused in other markets,” he said. The company still faces challenges in India.

While Xiaomi says it sold three million phones in its first year in India, market leader Micromax Informatics Ltd. says it sells three million phones a month. While the Chinese company relies mostly on online sales to cut costs, the majority of Micromax’s sales are in brick-and-mortar retail outlets, where most Indians still shop.

It remains unclear how much India can help bolster Xiaomi’s balance sheet. While smartphone sales are booming in India, the market is still tiny.

Xiaomi’s Mr. Barra says the company will slowly add to its catalogue of products in India, which currently includes phones and a handful of accessories like headphones and a fitness tracker. In China, Xiaomi sells everything from water purifiers to power strips.

Next up could be the company’s line of Internet routers, Mr. Barra said, which includes a model with six terabytes of storage.

“We are looking at bringing the router family to India,” he said. But don’t expect the smart bathroom scale to show up in India right away, or even the company’s newest gadget: a cut-price Segway-like device. “We carefully select things that will sell in India in good volumes. We have to be thoughtful and plan carefully.”

Source: Xiaomi’s Big Bet on Indian Internet Revolution Starts to Pay Off – China Real Time Report – WSJ


The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India | McKinsey & Company

India has a larger relative economic value at stake from advancing gender equality than any of the ten regions analyzed in a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth.

If all countries were to match the momentum toward gender parity of the fastest-improving countries in their region, $12 trillion a year could be added to global GDP. What’s more, India could add $700 billion of additional GDP in 2025, upping the country’s annual GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points (exhibit).

Our new report, The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India, reveals that about 70 percent of this “best in region” potential would come from raising women’s participation in India’s labor force by ten percentage points between now and 2025, bringing 68 million more women into the labor force—70 percent of them in just nine states. This will require bridging both economic and social gender gaps. To determine this, we have created a measure of gender equality for Indian states: the India Female Empowerment Index, or Femdex. Our analysis shows that scores vary widely, and India’s challenge is that the five states with the lowest gender inequality account for just 4 percent of the female working-age population; the five states with the highest inequality account for 32 percent.

Eight priority actions can help accelerate progress, including education and skill-building, job creation in key sectors, corporate policies to promote diversity, and programs to address deep-rooted mind-sets about the role of women in work.

Source: The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India | McKinsey & Company


India’s Bharat Petroleum Wants to Use Gas Stations to Bring E-Commerce to Rural India – India Real Time – WSJ

Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd., India’s lumbering state-run fuel company, is planning use its nationwide network of 12,800 gas stations to deliver online retail to rural India.

The oil refiner and retailer is hoping it can leverage its outlets and logistical staff across India to succeed as a latecomer to India’s ongoing online retail boom. It is upgrading its technology and logistics network to be able to sell farmers everything from fertilizer to smartphones.

The e-commerce push will begin December, with BPCL’s rural gas and cooking gas distributors starting to accept orders and payments online, said BPCL Chairman and Managing Director S. Varadarajan.  As early as next year, the company is also considering using its urban branches to sell and distribute groceries.

While the early movers in e-commerce in India such as Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd.’s, Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd.’s and Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd.’s are still struggling to find cost-effective ways to reach the hundreds of millions of Indians who live outside the biggest cities, BPCL already has employees and properties throughout the country.

“About 30% of our retail outlets are in rural India,” Mr. Varadarajan said. Rural customers can shop online then “pick up stuff when they fill fuel at their local gas station.”

India’s state-run oil refiners are desperate to find new sources of revenues as the fall in oil price as well as increased competition from the private sector weigh on their sales.

BPCL’s retail ambitions are “a response to competition by improving margins,” said Deepak Mahurkar, head of PwC’s Oil & Gas Industry practice in India.

Analysts say that while BPCL does theoretically have unique access to much of India’s middle class, which uses its stations to refuel their cars and motorcycles, whether this traditionally slow-moving company can capture a corner of the rapidly-evolving online retail business remains to be seen.

BPCL has prime properties on the main streets and highways across the country, but few of its gas stations have the facilities or the staff to do more than pump gas. Many don’t even have running water in their bathrooms, much less the Internet connections, storage facilities and delivery technology a vibrant e-commerce company would require.

Diving into e-commerce would necessitate a big change in mindset for BPCL which is not used to worrying much about competition or consumers, said Anand Kumar Jaiswal, who heads the Centre for Retailing at IIM Ahmedabad, an Indian management school.

“I am really skeptical about it,” said Vishnu Kumar, an assistant vice president for research at Chennai-based broker Spark Capital Advisors (India) Pvt. Ltd.  “If I am a consumer I am not going to check with BPCL for a microwave.”

Even people within BPCL’s own network doubt the company can pull it off.

Sachin Shah, the manager of a company that delivers BPCL cooking gas cylinders to more than 20,000 customers in the southern city of Hyderabad, said the company will have to radically improve its logistics system to guaranteed delivery if it wants to sell more than gas cylinders and gas stoves

“If Bharat Petroleum doesn’t deliver, I will lose face,” he said.

BPCL’s Mr. Varadarajan said the company is confident it can deliver because it will use its best dealers and a new distribution system to get products to customers.

Source: India’s Bharat Petroleum Wants to Use Gas Stations to Bring E-Commerce to Rural India – India Real Time – WSJ


Top African leaders to meet PM Modi in his trademark jacket

PM Narendra Modi has not only gained prominence across world for giving a personal touch in his diplomatic efforts but he is also famous for his impeccable dress sense. Prime Minister will take the diplomatic skills to new level when he will host a dinner for top African leaders later this month.

Top African leaders to meet PM Modi in his trademark jacket

According to a report in The Times of India, All of the 42 heads of state and government, who are attending the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit, from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, will attend the dinner wearing Modi’s trademark jacket. They are specially designed by government agencies.

The bundi waistcoat that PM Modi made his own accessory will be at the heart of his latest bit of sartorial diplomacy. The sleeveless jackets will be available in several brilliant colours.

The African leaders will also be wearing unique ‘ikkat kurta’ (no pyjamas) being gifted to them by the government during their visit to India.

A senior African diplomat said to TOI that he was really impressed with the attention PM Modi was giving to the summit despite his hectic campaigning for Bihar elections.

Source: Top African leaders to meet PM Modi in his trademark jacket


Sonia says Modi govt imposing its ideology on people – The Hindu

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday blamed the Modi government for the growing intolerance to intellectuals and communal tensions in the country. The government, she said, was anti-poor and corporate-friendly.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi at an election rally in Buxar, Bihar on Saturday. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

“Ever since Narendra Modi came to power, the intellectuals are being harassed and an effort has been made to stoke communal tensions through rumours. The BJP is trying to enforce its own ideology on people. It is shameful,” she said at election meetings at Buxar and Chappra. Her comments refers to the recent lynching of a man at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and writers returning their Sahitya Academy awards.

“Modiji, Hindu aur Musalmaan apas main ladte nahi, balki unko ladaya jata hai… kyunki communal jhagde band ho gaye toh kuch logo ki dukaandari band ho jayegi, aur yeh BJP se behtar kaun janta hai? [Mr. Modi, Hindus and Muslims don’t clash with each other but they are being pushed to do it … If communal clashes are being stopped, many people’s business will be closed, and who knows this better than the BJP?],” she said.

Ms. Gandhi said the Modi government worked only for big businesses and had no concern for the poor.

She said the Congress would not allow the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill to go through the Rajya Sabha as it was against the welfare of the people. “The UPA government wanted the GST law for the development of industry, but we are opposing it now for the welfare of the people,” she said.

“Mr. Modi speaks much but delivers little. Has he delivered on the tall claims made by him during the last Lok Sabha polls,” she asked. When the crowd yelled “no”, she said: “It is high time he understood the pain of the people.”

The government was silent when pulse prices were rising, farmers were committing suicide and unemployment among the youth was rising, she said.

Taking on Mr. Modi for alleging that the Congress had done little in the past 60 years of its regime, Ms. Gandhi said: “When we got freedom, we had nothing; but the Congress government did revolutionary works in education, health and employment in the past 60 years. We maintained the unity and integrity of the country and strengthened democracy.”

Source: Sonia says Modi govt imposing its ideology on people – The Hindu


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