24/02/2015

Retail dilemma in India – nice malls are few and far between | Reuters

A severe shortage of attractive malls has made setting up shop in India easier said than done, crimping expansion plans for both foreign retailers such as Lacoste and domestic giants like department store chain Shoppers Stop (SHOP.NS).

A private security guard stands guard inside the premises of the MGF mall in New Delhi February 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

India’s searing heat, heavy traffic and cluttered pavements make malls the most popular option for urban middle class consumers looking for a day out. But many centres – despite having been built in the last decade – are struggling to draw shoppers or retailers because of poor design or because they are difficult to manage.

P.S. Puri, CEO of MGF Mall Management, which runs MGF Metropolitan, knows this all too well. Located in a posh district in the south of New Delhi, security guards and sales staff outnumbered shoppers last Tuesday evening in what was once a bustling mall.

It has restaurants but lacks popular attractions like a food court and a cinema. The sale of shop ownership piecemeal has made management difficult and now only one quarter of the space is occupied by fashion retailers – about the same amount that is vacant.

via Retail dilemma in India – nice malls are few and far between | Reuters.

22/02/2015

Modi bets on GM crops for second green revolution | Reuters

On a fenced plot not far from Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s home, a field of mustard is in full yellow bloom, representing his government’s reversal of an effective ban on field trials of genetically modified (GM) food crops.

A scientist points to a patch of genetically modified (GM) rapeseed crop under trial in New Delhi February 13, 2015. REUTERS-Anindito Mukherjee

The GM mustard planted in the half-acre field in the grounds of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi is in the final stage of trials before the variety is allowed to be sold commercially, and that could come within two years, scientists associated with the project say.

India placed a moratorium on GM aubergine in 2010 fearing the effect on food safety and biodiversity. Field trials of other GM crops were not formally halted, but the regulatory system was brought to a deadlock.

But allowing GM crops is critical to Modi’s goal of boosting dismal farm productivity in India, where urbanisation is devouring arable land and population growth will mean there are 1.5 billion mouths to feed by 2030 – more even than China.

via Modi bets on GM crops for second green revolution | Reuters.

22/02/2015

China protests Modi’s visit to disputed border region | Reuters

China said on Friday it had lodged an official protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to a border region claimed by both countries.

China disputes the entire territory of Arunachal Pradesh, calling it south Tibet. Its historic town Tawang, a key site for Tibetan Buddhism, was briefly occupied by Chinese forces during a 1962 war.

“The Chinese government has never recognized the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’,” a statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry‘s website said on Friday.

It said Modi’s visit was “not conducive to the overall development of bilateral relations”.

Modi visited Arunachal Pradesh on Friday to inaugurate the opening of a train line and power station. He did not mention China but pledged billions of dollars of investment to develop infrastructure in the region.

“I assure you that you will witness more development in the state in the next five years than it has seen in the last 28 years,” Modi said, addressing a huge crowd.

Faster transport links and exploitation of Arunachal Pradesh’s hydro-electric potential are the keys to fighting poverty and bringing about rapid development in the frontier state, he said.

In January, China objected to statements by Japan’s foreign ministry supporting India’s claim to the region.

A visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to India in January was widely seen as a sign Modi is moving closer to the United States, to offset rising Chinese influence in Asia and, in particular, intensifying activity by the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.

via China protests Modi’s visit to disputed border region | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Indian IT firms eye robotics, driverless cars for next round of growth | Reuters

After decades of low-margin work like server maintenance, India’s information technology services firms are moving upscale in search of lucrative contracts for driverless cars and other advanced projects as online innovation changes clients’ needs.

Employees walk along a corridor in the Infosys campus in the southern Indian city of Bangalore September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Abhishek Chinnappa/Files

Companies from Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS.NS) to Wipro Ltd (WIPR.NS) are all joining Infosys Ltd (INFY.NS) in investing in new, high-end technology, industry watchers say. Earlier this week Infosys bought U.S. automation specialist Panaya Inc for $200 million.

Triggering change is a wave of invention allowing machines to talk to each other online, dubbed ‘the Internet of things‘. Customers are ramping up: from about 5 percent now, strategy advisor Offshore Insights estimates automation and artificial intelligence work will grow to 25 to 30 percent of an IT outsourcing market seen by the national industry association as worth $300 billion by 2020.

“We’re in the midst of a new wave of software, and IT services companies really don’t have a choice,” said R. Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research.

via Indian IT firms eye robotics, driverless cars for next round of growth | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Subsidy cuts in budget may disappoint investors | Reuters

India may slash its food and fuel subsidy bill by about $8 billion in next week’s budget, two sources said, but despite the impressive headline, the cut is not as radical as free market champions had hoped for in Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s first full budget.

A view of the Indian parliament building is reflected on a car in New Delhi April 24, 2012. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files

Most of the 20 percent cut in the budget for subsidies results from lower global oil prices rather than structural changes, with the government’s appetite for reform tempered by a heavy local election defeat in New Delhi this month.

“The total subsidy bill could come down to around 2 trillion rupees ($32 billion),” a senior government official, who has direct knowledge of the matter, told Reuters. That calculation was echoed by another source privy to budget discussions.

via Exclusive – Subsidy cuts in budget may disappoint investors | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Turkey eyes deal with China on missile defense despite NATO concern | Reuters

Turkey‘s defense minister said on Thursday the country does not plan to integrate a new missile defense system with NATO infrastructure and officials said a $3.4 billion deal with China was still under consideration.

NATO member Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp as a preferred bidder in 2013, prompting U.S. and Western concern about security and the compatibility of the weaponry with NATO systems.

Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, in a written response to a parliamentary question, indicated Ankara planned to go ahead with the Chinese system, saying the evaluation of bids had been completed and no new offers received.

“The system in question will be integrated with the national system for Turkey’s defense and will be used without integrating with NATO,” Yilmaz said.

However, other government officials later made clear that did not mean a final decision had yet been reached.

“We are continuing discussions with all the bidders,” the undersecretariat for defense industries said in a statement.

via Turkey eyes deal with China on missile defense despite NATO concern | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang | Reuters

China’s top cotton producer, a quasi-military body formed 60 years ago to settle the far west Xinjiang area, is resisting a government policy that could force it to cut output in an industry employing hundreds of thousands in the restive region.

Farmers stack cotton at a cotton purchase station in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in this November 3, 2010 file picture. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Beijing has pledged to end a costly stockpiling program that has artificially inflated cotton prices and in Xinjiang helped underpin an influx of Han Chinese workers, creating friction in an area home to the Muslim Uighur people.

Reluctant to accept the current weak market price, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) has asked the government to buy part of its crop and store it in state reserves, said two trade sources with knowledge of the issue.

XPCC, also known as the army corps, or ‘bingtuan’, has become a sort of state within a state and gained a dominant role in industries such as cotton, where it employs about 200,000 mainly Han Chinese on some of Xinjiang’s best land.

“Cotton is intimately associated with land usage, ownership, employment and Han in-migration. It’s all tied up,” said Tom Cliff, a scholar at the Australian National University.

Beijing has promised subsidies to help cushion the impact of ending stockpiling, but the total amount is unclear and with the local cotton price plunging any threat to the industry could be a fresh source of competition for jobs.

via Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Sri Lanka reviews land transfer to China as port deal draws scrutiny | Reuters

Sri Lanka is reconsidering the outright transfer of a parcel of land to China under a $1.5 billion port city deal signed by a previous government, the energy minister said, amid concerns it could be used for Chinese naval activity.

China’s port and other infrastructure investments in Sri Lanka are under the scanner ever since former president Mahinda Rajapaksa lost power in an election last month. He had pursued close ties with Beijing, drawing neighboring India’s ire.

Under the plan, 108 hectares of land next to the main commercial port of Colombo would be taken over by China Communications Construction Co Ltd, including 20 hectares on an outright basis and the rest on a 99-year lease.

The development would include shopping malls, water sports, golf, hotels, apartments and marinas.

“There is a new suggestion not to give freehold land and that land should be controlled and subjected to the Sri Lankan law,” Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka told a Foreign Correspondents Association Forum.

India, which lost out to China in infrastructure development on the Indian Ocean island, was in particular worried about the security threat posed by Chinese ownership of land, aggravated by the docking of submarines in Colombo last year.

via Sri Lanka reviews land transfer to China as port deal draws scrutiny | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Big data reveals movement of New Year travelers – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Beijing and other first-tier cities in China remain the major sources of outflux of passengers in this Spring Festival travel rush but the capital is also one of the top three destinations for the influx of travelers, according to search engine giant Baidu.com.

Big data reveals movement of New Year travelers

This is an indication that an increasing number of people who work or study away from their hometowns are choosing to invite their families to celebrate Spring Festival at big cities rather than head home.

According to the latest data until Monday morning, the top five cities that saw most outflow of passengers were Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Dongguan and Guangzhou, where there are huge number of migrant workers.

The top five cities of influx of travelers were Chongqing, Ganzhou in Jiangxi province, Beijing, Yulin in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and Fuyang in Anhui province. Apart from Beijing, the other four cities have been major sources of labor flow over the years.

An interactive map by baidu.com shows China’s top 10 cities with the largest outflux of travelers.

Big data reveals movement of New Year travelers

The trips from Shanghai to Lu’an, and Fuyang, two cities in East Anhui province, were the two busiest travel routes, the data showed.

Beijing to Zhoukou, Central Henan province, and Beijing to Harbin, Northeast Heilongjiang province, were also on the list of the 10 busiest travel routes. The other busy travel routes on the list include Shenzhen to Chongqing in Southwest China, and to Huanggang, Central Hubei province.

The list showed the difference of the sources of migrant workers in the three first-tier cities.

Baidu has been tracking the mass movement of people for this year’s Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, since February 7, three days after the kick-off of the annual Spring Festival travel rush, also known as chunyun in Chinese.

The Ministry of Transport is anticipating an overall holiday-season passenger flow of more than 2.8 billion person-times in this year’s Spring Festival travel, a 3.4 percent growth over 2014.

The interactive map of the research, which can be seen at http://qianxi.baidu.com/, is updated hourly, and has been logging the locations in which data requests were made to its maps service.

via Big data reveals movement of New Year travelers – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

20/02/2015

In Tibet, two celebrations coincide – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

The streets are more crowed and business is booming in Lhasa at the approach of Losar, Tibetan New Year, which coincides this year with the traditional Chinese Spring Festival.

In Tibet, two celebrations coincide

This year, New Year falls on the same day, Thursday, in both traditions. Losar dates to about 100 BC, the time of the ninth king of Tibet, Pude Gungyal. The celebration runs as long as 15 days.

Although the heavy snow that fell in Lhasa two days ago has not melted yet, residents are gearing up for the festival. Many of the hot shopping spots, such as the Ramoche Road and the Barkhor Shopping Mall, are packed with customers.

“My business is much better than last year. With the New Year festivals together, I had more shoppers,” said Basang Lhamo, a stall owner in the Barkhor market.

“I did not have time to prepare for my own Losar,” said the 38-year-old, adding that she will close her business on Tuesday, one day before New Year’s Eve.

As hordes of shoppers prepared for the festival, some bus drivers find it difficult to avoid traffic jams. “Ahead of Losar, with buses and streets crowded with people, it is hard to keep the bus moving smoothly,” said Nyima Tsering, a driver in Lhasa.

Karma Sonam, 43, a restaurant owner in the city, said his business has boomed this month. “My restaurant has been so full that my wife and our staff don’t have time for lunch most of the time,” he said. His family will travel to Xigaze for the festival, and he will give the staff a 15-day holiday.

Sonam Droma is a Tibetan woman who married a Han. They plan to spend the festival on the grassland. “It is more fun to embrace Losar in a remote grassland, as we enjoy the evening bonfire dancing and singing,” Sonam Droma, 27, said. “It is happier on the grassland.”

via In Tibet, two celebrations coincide – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 576 other followers