Posts tagged ‘Business’


Bridge Collapse Is Latest Tragedy on India’s Roads – India Real Time – WSJ

The collapse of a bridge in the western Indian state of Maharashtra this week that left 14 people dead and 18 others missing wasn’t the first road tragedy to hit the area.In 2013, a bus veered off a 80 year-old bridge on the Jagbudi river, which flows parallel to the Savitri about 70 kilometers (43 miles) to the south, killing 37 of the 52 people on board.

That accident happened when a bus flew off the bridge and flipped in midair before landing on its roof 30 feet below.

The Wall Street Journal took a deep look into the tragedy.

Such incidents are alarmingly frequent on India’s roads.

India has been spending more money to improve its bridges, ports and airports, but the Savitri accident is yet another example of how the country’s depleted infrastructure is under increasing strain due to the rising demands of a fast-developing economy.

Its ageing road network, the world’s second-largest after the U.S. but largely made of dirt tracks, is particularly challenging. India’s roads are the most dangerous in the world: In 2015, the country accounted for almost one in 10 road casualties world-wide, according to the World Health Organization.

While India reported 137,000 deaths due to road crashes in 2013, the WHO estimated the figure was much higher. Those deaths cause an approximate 3% loss in economic output, it said.

Two buses and a number of cars plunged into the Savitri river in the early hours of Wednesday when the bridge in Mahad, built before India gained independence from Britain in 1947, crumbled into the waters below amid heavy monsoon rains.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a judicial probe into the accident and said government technicians will carry out a safety audit of old bridges in the state.

The bodies of 14 people were recovered from the waters of the Savitri by Friday morning, and 18 more are missing, National Disaster Response Force Commandant Anupam Srivastava said.

Source: Bridge Collapse Is Latest Tragedy on India’s Roads – India Real Time – WSJ


Unwanted model | The Economist

MARCHING by the thousands this week in stifling heat through their small coastal village, residents of Wukan carried Chinese flags and shouted out slogans in support of the Communist Party. That was just to protect themselves from retribution by the riot police, who watched them closely but did not intervene. Their real message was in other chants: “Give us back our land!” and “Free Secretary Lin!”

The secretary in question was their village chief, Lin Zulian, whom they elected in 2012 in what was widely hailed at the time as a breakthrough for grassroots democracy. Mr Lin had led Wukan in a months-long rebellion against local authorities. Villagers kicked out party officials and police from their offices in protest against the alleged seizure of some of Wukan’s land by corrupt officials who had lined their pockets with the proceeds of selling it. Police responded by blockading the village, turning it into a cause célèbre—including in some of the feistier of China’s heavily censored media. In the end the government backed down: it allowed Wukan to hold unusually free elections and it promised to sort out the land dispute. The “Wukan model” became Chinese reformists’ shorthand for what they hoped would be a new way of defusing unrest.

They have been disappointed. Villagers did not get their land back, or the money some wanted in lieu of it. Mr Lin, who won another landslide victory in elections two years ago, announced plans on June 18th to launch a new campaign for the return of the land. That was clearly too much for the local government: Mr Lin was promptly arrested on charges of corruption. Angry residents took to the streets again.

Villagers in China often stage protests over land rights; local authorities usually deal with them either with force, or by promising concessions and then rounding up the ringleaders. Restoring calm to Wukan will be tougher. Because of its fame, journalists have poured in, especially from nearby Hong Kong. Local officials may be reluctant to resort to the usual thuggish tactics in front of such an audience.

In an effort to undermine support for Mr Lin, the government has tried blackening his name. On June 21st officials released a video showing him confessing to bribe-taking. But that merely stoked the villagers’ anger. His wife, Yang Zhen, says she is certain the confession was coerced. His halting delivery in substandard Mandarin, she believes, was his way of letting villagers know this. “They are trying to deceive everyone, but no one believes it,” she says. Dozens of furious villagers went to a local school where nervous officials had barricaded themselves behind metal doors and barred windows; they kicked the doors and shouted abuse. As The Economist went to press, Wukan was preparing to embark on its sixth consecutive day of protest.

Many residents say they have lost all faith in the local government, and that only the central authorities in Beijing will be able to find a fair solution. “They took our land. My father and grandfather farmed it, and now I have nothing. No work and no other path forward,” says a 39-year-old villager. “We have a black government, all corrupt. They cannot trick us again with more talk of the ‘Wukan model’. We need our land back,” he fumes.

But the central government will be reluctant to cave in to the protesters’ demands. “Handling the Wukan problem well means much to the rest of China,” said Global Times, a pro-party paper in Beijing. But it warned that if the “drastic actions” of Wukan’s villagers were copied by others, China would “see mess and disturbance” at the grassroots. In a country where many seethe with grievances similar to Wukan’s, officials do not want the village to become a model for revolt.

Source: Unwanted model | The Economist


How Modi’s Social Media Skills Earned Him a Spot on Time’s Internet Influencers List – India Real Time – WSJ

Since Narendra Modi took office nearly two years ago, his social media might has helped cultivate his international profile as an Indian prime minister who receives rockstar welcomes at concert venues and sports arenas overseas, shares smiling selfies with other heads of state and boasts among the biggest banks of Twitter followers of world political leaders.

This week, he burnished that image by winning a spot for a second consecutive year on Time magazine’s list of the 30 most influential people on the Internet.

The roundup of online luminaries describes Mr. Modi as an “Internet star,” noting that the prime minister, unlike other world leaders, uses social media to break news and conduct diplomacy. With 18.7 million followers, Mr. Modi ranks second only to President Barack Obama among political leaders.

The magazine’s picks of Internet A-listers also includes U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who has nearly 7 million Twitter followers, artist Kanye West and the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling.

Mr. Modi used Twitter to announce Mr. Obama’s visit to India last year as the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day parade, and signaled a breakthrough in tense relations with neighboring Pakistan by tweeting that India’s foreign secretary would travel to that country. He tweets in several languages, shouting out to other world leaders on their birthdays and congratulating them on election victories.

The digital-savvy leader and his Bharatiya Janata Party’s social media team runs a full-time, data-driven operation. It coins hashtags and uses what one member called “online volunteers”–a digital army to retweet and comment on posts relating to the prime minister and his policies–to keep him trending.

They also use specialized software to study social media behavior and track the ebbs and flows of online sentiment to Mr. Modi’s speeches and actions, funneling their analysis to help craft his message–and to tweak it when traffic turns unfavorable.

Mr. Modi appears to have become a regular on Time’s rankings. Last year, he was on its “100 Most Influential People” list where Mr. Obama called him India’s “reformer-in-chief.”

Source: How Modi’s Social Media Skills Earned Him a Spot on Time’s Internet Influencers List – India Real Time – WSJ


Indians Are Among the Most Satisfied at Work, Says a Study. Here’s Why – India Real Time – WSJ

Indians are among the most highly stimulated and satisfied at work, a new report claims.

Some 28% of workers in the South Asian nation reported being highly engaged and fulfilled in the office, a full 15% above the global average, in a survey of workers in 17 countries conducted by Ipsos for furniture and workspace systems company Steelcase Inc.

Other nations with the largest proportions of satisfied workers were Mexico, at 22%, the UAE and South Africa, where around one in five people described themselves in that way and Saudi Arabia, with 18%.

American offices came sixth. About 14% of those surveyed there reported being highly engaged and satisfied at work.

Only 4% of Indian workers were highly dissatisfied and disengaged, compared with 11% on average globally.

Indians also provided the second-highest average score, of 7.4, when they rated their quality of life at work out of 10. Only Mexico scored higher with 7.5.

The authors of the report said the secret to the happiness of Indian workers could be to do with the fact the country’s employers haven’t yet embraced open-plan work spaces and also a result of  the hectic pace of life outside the office walls.

Only 14% of the offices the employees worked in were open plan. Meanwhile, 70% of the workers surveyed sat in a private or shared private office at work.

“Culturally, having a workspace of one’s own, even if it is compact and modest, is a signal of belonging and importance, which may explain the overall high degree of workplace satisfaction,” the report said.

In densely populated countries like India, the workplace can be a haven, the report said.

Indians are much more likely to say, for instance, that their work environment allows them to feel relaxed and calm. A total of 73% agreed with that in the survey, much higher than most other countries, the report said.

Workers in Indian offices are also likely to have access to shared spaces like meeting rooms, cafeterias and canteens. They also have the most access to sport or exercise facilities.

Indians’ enthusiasm about their office spaces might be relative. The most highly engaged employees came from emerging economies, the report said.

“Many Indian employees’ expectations may be shaped by their comparatively modest living conditions,” the report said.

And they are more likely to say that they work remotely–55% said they sometimes work away from the office, and 20% said they did so every day.

They also believed that their employer took a genuine interest in employees, with 79% agreeing with the statement.

All of this might reflect employers’ efforts to keep their workers happy, the report said. “In India’s highly competitive and fluid job market, providing a desirable workplace can be a powerful strategy for attracting, retaining and engaging the talent that can help an organization thrive,” the report said.

Source: Indians Are Among the Most Satisfied at Work, Says a Study. Here’s Why – India Real Time – WSJ


13 Million Guangdong Migrants Could Gain Permanent Residence By 2020 – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Faced with a persistent influx of rural workers, China’s most populous province plans to allow more migrant residents to settle permanently in its cities, in its latest effort to ease decades-old curbs on rural-urban migration.

Under new guidelines published this week, Guangdong authorities aim to grant local household registration to roughly 13 million migrant workers by 2020, allowing them to access public services—spanning housing, health-care, social security and education—that are typically reserved for urban residents.

Guangdong has often taken the lead in efforts to liberalize the hukou system, a national household-registration regime that curbs rural-urban migration by tying benefits like health care and pensions to a person’s place of birth. Experts say the system forces many rural migrants to live as second-class citizens in urban areas, aggravating social inequality while fueling tensions between locals and outsiders.

Hukou reforms are a pressing matter for Guangdong, a southern Chinese manufacturing hub that hosts the country’s largest transient population. Among its roughly 110 million residents, more than 24 million are migrants from other regions, while another 10.6 million have relocated within the province.

“Reforming the household-registration system will speed up our province’s urbanization process, and facilitate the coordinated development of the Pearl River Delta region,” Peng Hui, deputy director-general of Guangdong’s public security department, told a news briefing this week.

As part of the reforms, provincial officials will aim to “equalize” the provision of public services and ensure “balanced” economic development between rural and urban areas, according to the new guidelines.

China has used the hukou system since the 1950s to keep people from moving to the cities and forming the sort of slums that plague other developing nations. In recent decades, however, rural migrants have increasingly bucked the system to seek better opportunities in urban areas, without approval to live there.

Beijing, for its part, has since changed tack and pushed to urbanize its population of nearly 1.4 billion people, of which about 45% still in live in rural areas. But experts say the government must speed up its dismantling of the hukou system, warning that social tensions could fester and even boil over in the coming decade as China’s “floating population” of more than 250 million continues to expand.

Last year, Beijing pledged some changes to the hukou system, with restrictions to be lifted first in small towns. More stringent requirements will remain on those who want to live in larger cities, which are generally more attractive to migrants.


Guangdong’s plan follows a similar approach. Provincial officials say they plan to “fully liberalize” settlement rules in small, county-level cities and so-called “administratively designated towns,” where migrants with legal and stable places of residence will be allowed to apply for permanent residency.

via 13 Million Guangdong Migrants Could Gain Permanent Residence By 2020 – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


India’s tech opportunity: Transforming work, empowering people | McKinsey & Company

Millions of Indians hope for a better future, with well-paying jobs and a decent standard of living. To meet these aspirations, the country needs broad-based economic growth and more effective public services. Technology can play an important role in enabling the growth India needs. The spread of digital technologies, as well as advances in energy and genomics, can raise the productivity of business and agriculture, redefine how services such as healthcare and education are delivered, and contribute to higher living standards for millions of Indians by raising education levels and improving healthcare outcomes.

India’s tech opportunity: Transforming work, empowering people

Empowering technologies in India

McKinsey’s Noshir Kaka and Anu Madgavkar discuss how India could transform its economy by employing 12 technologies.

A dozen empowering technologies

A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report identifies a dozen technologies, ranging from the mobile Internet to cloud computing to advanced genomics, which could have a combined economic impact of $550 billion to $1 trillion a year in 2025. The selection of the 12 technologies for India was based on a similar process established by MGI’s earlier work on disruptive technologies.1 For India, we used additional criteria to identify the technologies that would have a direct impact on the country’s economic and social challenges in the coming decade. As a result, we include technologies such as electronic payments, which are well established in other parts of the world but not well developed in India. By 2025, however, electronic payments could help 300 million Indians join the country’s financial system.

We group the 12 technologies into three areas: digitizing life and work, smart physical systems, and energy technologies:

digitizing life and work—the mobile Internet, the cloud, the automation of knowledge work, digital payments, and verifiable digital identity

smart physical systems—the Internet of Things, intelligent transportation and distribution systems, advanced geographic information systems (GIS), and next-generation genomics

energy—unconventional oil and gas (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing), renewable energy, and advanced energy storage

Each of these technologies has the potential for rapid adoption in India between now and 2025 (exhibit) …

via India’s tech opportunity: Transforming work, empowering people | McKinsey & Company.


Consumers Drive Chinese Internet But Enterprise Use Lags – China Real Time Report – WSJ

By some measures, China’s Internet dwarfs that of the United States.

China has the world’s largest Internet population with 618 million users, well over twice as many as in the U.S. China also has the world’s largest online retailing industry, with e-commerce giants like Alibaba that sprawl far larger than the likes of eBay EBAY +1.08%.

But a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute argues that enterprise use of the Internet is still lagging in China and that the country’s businesses will need to catch up in this area to unlock economic gains.

“The Web is just beginning to penetrate many Chinese businesses – and the most sweeping changes are yet to come,” said the report, which was published this week.

MGI estimates that increased adoption of Web technologies like cloud computing and big data by China’s enterprises can add 0.3 to 1.0 percentage points to China’s GDP growth rate. By 2025, it could translate to annual economic gains of between 4 trillion yuan ($645.5 billion) and 14 trillion yuan, the research firm said.

China’s Internet has outpaced the U.S. among consumers. Alibaba’s online shopping platforms Taobao and Tmall have nearly twice as many active buyers than the U.S. site eBay. Jonathan Woetzel, one of the MGI study’s authors and a partner of the firm, told The Wall Street Journal that Chinese consumers spend more time shopping online and make more purchases than their American counterparts.

“China’s consumer generation has shown up at the same time as the Internet,” he said. “They have the money, but the offline shopping platforms like malls haven’t been built up fast enough to accommodate their expectations and needs. So more of them shop online.”

But when it comes to China’s businesses, they still lag in use of Web technologies, he says. The typical Chinese company spends 2% of revenue on IT, half of the international average, according to an MGI survey of CIOs. The enterprise cloud adoption rate in China is 21% compared to 55%-63% in the U.S.

Some sectors that stand the most to benefit in China include the financial services, health care and automotive industries, MGI says. Big data can help financial firms manage risks and reduce non-performing loans, while remote monitoring of chronic diseases can save costs for the health care industry.

via Consumers Drive Chinese Internet But Enterprise Use Lags – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


Indian Budget 2014: Biocon chief wants more R&D incentives, fewer essential drugs – Reuters

India’s $15 billion healthcare industry has taken hits on several fronts in recent years, from slow approvals for drugs in clinical trials to several run-ins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the quality of its generic drugs.

Market growth fell to less than 10 percent last year after the increase in the number of drugs that the government said should be subject to price caps so that poor and middle-class people could afford them (Only 15 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people have health insurance).

Now, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinting at a “bitter pill” to rescue India’s economy, the pharma industry wouldn’t want to be at the receiving end of tough decisions; it would be difficult for a business that’s used to making medicine instead of taking it.

via India Insight.


CaptureSolar Raises $107 Million for India Solar Project – Businessweek

CaptureSolar Energy Ltd. raised $107 million for a solar park to supply Indian businesses suffering from rising costs for power generated mostly from coal.

The utility will get 86 percent of the $125 million for the project from Cyprus-based Concept Solutions & Innovations Ltd., CaptureSolar Chief Executive Officer Raju Bhosale said today by phone. Pune-based CaptureSolar will pay for the rest.

The 75-megawatt photovoltaic park will be completed in two phases by March 2015 and charge about 6 rupees (10 U.S. cents) a kilowatt-hour under a 25-year contract, Bhosale said. The price is about 8 percent below the level industrial and commercial businesses currently pay, he said.

via CaptureSolar Raises $107 Million for India Solar Project – Businessweek.


China Wants America’s Milk, and U.S. Dairy Exports Benefit – Businessweek

Increased demand for dairy products around the world, particularly in China, is doing for U.S. farmers what decades of farm policy could not: sell off all the milk their cows can produce at record-high prices.

Hunter Haven Dairy Farm in Pearl City, Ill.

The good fortune of U.S. dairy farmers is due to exploding demand from an emerging global middle class, but also to misfortunes elsewhere. In China, domestic dairy has been hampered by production problems and lingering distrust among consumers about safety. In New Zealand, the global leader in dairy exports, a 2013 drought reduced the country’s ability to meet foreign customers’ needs. In the first quarter of 2014, the value of U.S. dairy exports grew 39 percent.

“China buying has been through the roof,” says Alan Levitt, spokesman for the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “We shifted from a period of structural oversupply to structural undersupply.” Exports have been rising steadily during the past decade, but they surged in the past year—evidence that the U.S. can be a viable player in the global dairy market.

via China Wants America’s Milk, and U.S. Dairy Exports Benefit – Businessweek.

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