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Agriculture & Rural Development

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 oct 2019

Agriculture is one of the critical sectors of Indian economy as it employs about 50% of the working population and contributes 15-16% to GDP. Even though government policies are designed to make the sector benficial for those engaged in it, but the media is full of news describing the ailing condition of India's agriculture at the ground. Can entrepreneurs, full of ideas and working zeal, coupled with effectiveness and efficiencies of technology, become harbingers of change and transform the condition of not only the farms and their produce, but also the farmers and all other hard working people employed in the sector. Abhishek Agarwal, co-founder of TechnifyBiz, suggests that agri-tech entrepreneurs can tackle some of the problems of Indian agriculture and help grow the sector. He cites following issues - Depleted ground-water, low-quality seeds and ravaged soil quality due to over-use of chemicals; Lack of market linkage creates a considerable gap in the industry; Inadeguate transporation and storage; Scarcity of credit and high lending rates. He suggests that agri-startups can assist in standardization of agri-market practices through technology, aggregation and organized marketing. According to NASSCOM, sector had secured a funding of US$ 73 million in 2018. The agri-tech industry has been able to raise financing of over US$ 248 million till June 2019. Accenture says that digital agricultural services market is set to touch US$ 4.55 billion by 2020. Mr. Agarwal explains, 'Market linkage, farmer markets in the digital space, superior database management, digital agriculture and micro-financing are gaining in popularity, making the sector conducive to attract funding.' Agri-startups are encompassing both the production and after-harvest side of agriculture. He says, 'The various areas of improvement, like the reduction of input costs, better nutritional value in food crops, better quality seeds that drive crop production and improving soil quality. Using technology to predict weather patterns, irrigation cycles and soil quality are the focus of some startups. This enhances the quality of production...The use of smart technology and superior logistics infrastructure has created a new eco-system of agri-marketing. New-age startups are leveraging technology to tap the retail as well as B2B marketplaces through digital agronomy startups.' Read on...

India Today: Agri-tech: The emerging field for an Indian entrepreneur to grab more opportunities
Author: Abhishek Agarwal


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jul 2019

According to the online research by Booking.com, 59% of youth surveyed want to give back to society as part of their travel experience. This is almost double the global average (31% of Gen Z) that want to volunteer while travelling. Report surveyed 21807 respondents of 16 years or above in 29 markets with about 1000 from each country. 71% of Gen Z travellers consider volunteering as enhancement to their trip's authenticity - more interaction with local people and making a difference. Sustainability travel is also on the rise with care for environment at the top of traveller's mind. Ritu Mehrotra, country manager India at Booking.com, says, 'Over 71% of all travellers want to reduce their carbon footprint by limiting the distance travelled. This number increases further among the Gen Z to 76% as they want to use more environmentally-friendly transport, walking or biking, during the holidays.' Read on...

Devdiscourse: More youth want to volunteer while travelling: Report
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2019

Even though India has achieved success consistently in agriculture sector through policy and reforms, but there is still a lot to be desired. Farmer suicides and droughts become headline news from time to time. Ken Ash, Director of Trade & Agriculture at OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and Silvia Sorescu, Policy Analyst at OECD, provides an overview of India's state of agriculture and what needs to be done to tap opportunities. According to them, many smallholders have not been able to exploit the opportunities opening up to them; they remain hampered by low productivity, an under-developed food processing and retail sector, and water and environmental degradation. They explain that India faces 'triple challenge' in the agricultural sector similar to other countries - delivering safe and nutritious food to a growing population at affordable prices; providing a livelihood for farmers and others in the food chain; and overcoming severe resource and climate pressures. According to the OECD and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) report in the Agricultural Policies in India 2018 study and the 2019 OECD Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation, India's domestic and trade policies (like restrictions due to agri-marketing regulations, export restrictions, huge farm subsidies for farm inputs etc) have combined to reduce Indian farm revenue by an estimated 5.7% in the past three years. Moreover, funding for public services - such as physical infrastructure, inspection, research & development, and education and skills - that are essential to enable the long-term productivity and sustainability of the sector has not kept pace. India can draw lessons from Ashok Gulati's analysis of farm policy developments in China, and also from EU's (European Union) agricultural policy reform experiences. Persistence is critical for the success in the sector. Electronic National Agricultural Market (eNAM), the 2017 marketing model act, and the recently implemented direct cash transfers scheme to small-scale farmers, are steps in the right direction. Authors suggest, 'Scarce financial resources should be directed towards investment in public services that enable a productive, sustainable, and resilient food and agriculture sector. Doing so would require strengthening the institutional framework; eliminating duplication and fragmentation is a pre-requisite to ensuring coherent policy packages are developed and consistently implemented. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing the 'triple challenge' will require new policy directions in India, as elsewhere.' Read on...

Financial Express: Opportunity knocks for Indian agriculture
Authors: Ken Ash, Silvia Sorescu


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 apr 2019

Biotechnology is expected to be the next big thing for the Indian economy, just like the IT industry has been, explains Amit Kapoor, President & CEO of India Council on Competitiveness and Honorary Chairman at Institute for Competitiveness. According to him, '...biotechnology industry seemed poised to take over the mantle. In the span of a decade beginning in 2007, the industry has grown exponentially in size from about US$ 2 billion to over US$ 11 billion in terms of revenue. By 2025, it is targeted to touch US$ 100 billion.' In the past, both Green Revolution (agricultural transformation) and White Revolution (dairy sector transformation) became successful because of the contributions from biotechnology. At present India's rising competitiveness in pharmaceuticals is also the result of biotechnological advancements and research. Moreover, energy needs of rural areas are also met by biomass fuel, produced through application of biotechnology. Mr. Kapoor explains evolution of biotechnology in India, 'As early as 1986, Rajiv Gandhi, recognising the potential of biotechnology in the country's development, set up the Department of Biotechnology...Department of Biotechnology has set up 17 Centres of Excellence at higher education institutions across the country and has supported the establishment of eight biotechnology parks across different cities...Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in 2012, which has successfully supported 316 start-ups in its six years of existence...As of 2016, India had over a thousand biotechnology start-ups.' According to Mr. Kapoor, the sector faces many challenges and they need to be addressed effectively and promptly - (1) India's research and development expenditure is quite low at 0.67% of GDP, not only compared to mature biotechnology economies such as Japan and the US (around 3%) but also in comparison to emerging economies like China (around 2%). (2) Specific to the biotech pharmaceutical sector, there are a few India-specific challenges with the country's IP regime. There are two main areas of contention for the industry in India's approach to intellectual property. The first issue lies in Section 3(d) of the Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005, which sets a higher standard for patentability than mandated by TRIPS. The industry argues that India's stricter standards for patents discourages innovation and dampens foreign investment. The second issue is that of compulsory licensing, which gives the government power to suspend a patent in times of health emergencies. Although India has used this option only once, the industry feels that such regulations keep investors clear of Indian markets. (3) Another challenge lies in the risk involved in the Valley of Death, that is, the risk of failure in the transition of innovative products and services from discovery to marketisation. Most of the early research funding, often provided by universities or the government, runs out before the marketisation phase, the funding for which is mostly provided by venture capitalists. It becomes difficult to attract further capital between these two stages because a developing technology may seem promising, but it is often too early to validate its commercial potential. This gap has a huge impact in commercialisation of innovative ideas. Read on...

The Economic Times: Why biotechnology can be Indian economy's next success story
Author: Amit Kapoor


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 jan 2019

According to the 'Global Highly-Cited Researchers 2018 List' by Clarivate Analytics, India has only 10 researchers among the world's 4000 most influential researchers. Even though India has many globally renowned institutions, but it lacks breakthrough research output. Top three countries in the list are - US (2639), UK (546), China (482). Prof. CNR Rao, world renowned chemist from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Sciences and named in the list, says, 'About 15 years ago, China and India were at the same level, but China today contributes to 15-16% of the science output in the world, while we currently contribute only 4%.' Prof. Dinesh Mohan, environmental science academic at JNU and included in the list, says, 'Areas such as climate change, water and energy are areas where research is more relevant nowadays. Where you publish your work is also important for impact.' Dr. Avnish Agarwal, also named in the list, says, 'We need to improve our research ecosystem...There is a lack of focus on quality research in Indian academia. If teachers do not do high-quality research, they will not be updated with new developments.' Others in the list are - Dr. Rajeev Varshney (Agriculture researcher at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics-ICRISAT); Dr. Ashok Pandey (Researcher at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research); Dr. Alok Mittal and Dr. Jyoti Mittal (Researchers in environmental science, water treatment, green chemistry and chemical kinetics at the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology); Dr. Rajnish Kumar (Researcher and professor at IIT Madras's Department of Chemical Engineering); Dr. Sanjeeb Sahoo (Researcher in nanotechnology at the Institute of Life Sciences); Dr. Sakthivel Rathinaswamy (Professor and researcher in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Bharathiar University). Read on...

Firstpost: ONLY 10 AMONG THE WORLD'S TOP 4000 INFLUENTIAL RESEARCHERS ARE INDIAN: REPORT
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 nov 2018

There are many sides to India's agriculture story. But, what we often hear is the sad one of farmer poverty and suicides. Although many challenges remain including that of humanitarian crises of farmer suicides, but Indian agriculture is going through many positive transformations. According to recent data, tractors sales ended the last fiscal year with a growth of 22% due to good monsoon and strong rural demand. Improvements in road connectivity has boosted tractor sales even in the remote parts of Jharkhand, Telangana, Haryana and other states. The Bloomberg Indian rural economy indices provide a steady upward movement in rural output growth. Two-wheeler sales, a positive indicator of rural growth, have also picked up in recent months. Moreover, there are other visible innovative aspects of Indian agriculture that are good news. India is one of the biggest agrarian economies and even though it lacks in productivity but with 30% of world's organic farmers it is the largest organic farming country. People like Subhash Palekar, who preaches 'zero budget spiritual farming', or farming using only natural and low-cost fertilisers and techniques, are bringing the much needed change. His work has had an impact on 400000 farmers in Maharashtra and adjoining states. Top Indian restaurants and chefs now promote black rice and brown rice grown in India. Customers are also willing to pay a premium for organic produce, thus encouraging cropping up of startups and entrepreneurial ventures in organic farming space. Sikkim has recetly won a prestigious United Nations award for its status as an organic food-only destination. There are also innovations happening in dairy sector with startups putting the certain regions into limelight. India remains as one of the top milk producing countries in the world. Indian agri-tech startups have grown to such an extent that they now have their own exlusive expo that promotes diverse innovations like new pumping techniques, soil testing and management systems, and raw food supply chain breakthroughs. Read on...

Fortune: How to join the dots of growth in Indian agriculture
Author: Hindol Sengupta


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2018

Education and awareness about protecting environment at the early stage of student learning can play a big role to save it. Bhavisha Buddhadeo, a social activist and an expert in organic farming and kitchten gardening based in Gurgaon (India), is doing just that as a mission to promote ecological wellbeing and safeguard environment. She conducts learning workshops and lectures on importance of sustainability and how to better care for the environment. Ms. Buddhadeo says, 'I have engaged children and women in plantation drives, kitchen garden activities and (a) solar energy initiative to educate them regarding the utmost importance of conservation of nature. Schools are doing environmental education and (the) best have made sustainability a school-wide, hands-on project, rather than just another topic for children to write reports on. My programs offer opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom, (and) enable students to make connections and apply their learning in the real world.' In her career spanning about 20 years she has taught 100000 students from across many states of India. Read on...

The Times of India: Green warrior who gives kids environment lessons
Author: Rohit E. David


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2018

According to meteorologists, the recent flooding in southwestern state of Kerala in India has occured due to two-and-a-half times the normal monsoon rains. Climate scientists caution that if the global warming continues unabated more unusual weather events will happen. Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, says, 'It is difficult to attribute any single extreme weather event - such as the Kerala flooding - to climate change. At the same time, our recent research shows a three-fold increase in widespread extreme rains during 1950-2017, leading to large-scale flooding.' According to the study published in Nature last year that Mr. Koll co-authored, flooding caused by heavy monsoons rainfall claimed 69000 lives and left 17 million people without homes over the same period across India. Kira Vinke, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany), says, 'These floods that we are seeing in Kerala right now are basically in line with climate projections. If we continue with current levels of emissions - which is not unlikely - we will have unmanageable risks.' Mr. Koll explains the weather patterns behind the excessive rains, 'Rapid warming in the Arabian Sea and nearby landmass causes monsoon winds to fluctuate and intensify for short spans of three-to-four days. During those periods, moisture from the Arabian Sea is dumped inland.' Elena Surovyatkina, a professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences and monsoon expert, says, 'Over the last decade, due to climate change, the overheating of landmass leads to the intensification of monsoon rainfalls in central and southern India.' According to a World Bank report titled 'South Asia's Hotspots', 'On current trends, India's average annual temperatures are set to rise 1.5 degree Celsius to 3 degree Celsius compared to that benchmark by mid-century. If no corrective measures are taken, changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures will cost India 2.8% of its GDP and will drag down living standards of half its population by 2050.' Ms. Vinke says, 'What we will see with climate change in India is that the wet season is going to be wetter and the dry season drier. Already we are observing that the monsoon is becoming harder to predict with traditional methods.' A recent research predicted, 'If man-made carbon emissions continue unabated, some regions in northeast India could literally become unlivable by the end of the century due to a deadly combination of heat and humidity during heatwaves.' Read on...

The Economic Times: India's devastating rains match climate change forecasts
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2018

India has to give special emphasis to agriculture to ensure food security for its large population. Recent report, 'Agricultural Policies in India' (Authors: Ashoka Gulati, Infosys chair professor for agriculture at ICRIER; Carmen Cahill, Deputy Director for trade and agriculture at OECD), jointly developed by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), provides outcomes of the research conducted for over two years to map and measure the nature of agricultural policies in India and how they have impacted producers and consumers. The report includes key policy indicators like the producer support estimates (PSEs) and consumer support estimates (CSEs). According to the authors of the report, 'The methodology adopted is a standard one that OECD has applied to measure PSEs and CSEs for 51 countries over the last 30 years. In the case of PSEs, it basically captures the impact of various policies on two components: (a) the output prices that producers receive, benchmarked against global prices of comparable products; and (b) the various input subsidies that farmers receive through budgetary allocations by the Centre and states. The two are combined to see if farmers receive positive support (PSE), or negative, as a percentage of gross farm receipts. A positive PSE (%) means that policies have helped producers receive higher revenues than would have been the case otherwise, and a negative PSE (%) implies lower revenues for farmers (a sort of implicit tax) due to the set of policies adopted.' The report found India's PSE, on average, during 2014-15 to 2016-17 was -6% of farm receipts. Contrary to this most other countries have positive PSEs. Overall, PSE (%) was negative to the tune of 14%, on average, over the entire period from 2000-01 to 2016-17, indicating that, despite positive input subsidies, farmers in India received 14% less revenue due to restrictive trade and marketing policies. To incentivise farmers to raise productivity, build an efficient and sustainable agriculture that augments farmers' incomes and foster rural growth and jobs all along the value chain, authors suggest - (1) Change policies to 'get the markets right' by reforming domestic marketing regulations (ECA and APMC), promoting a competitive national market and upgrading marketing infrastructure. Also review restrictive export policies for agri-products. (2) The report recongnizes concerns of the policymakers to protect consumers from price rise. But, it argues for switching to an income policy approach through a direct benefit transfer (DBT) targeted to the vulnerable sections of the population. (3) Indian agriculture and farmers would be much better off if input subsidies are contained and gradually reduced, and the equivalent savings are channelled simultaneously towards higher investments in agri-R&D, extension, building rural infrastructure for better markets and agri-value chains, as also on better water management to deal with climate change. (4) A greater degree of coordination is required between the Centre and the States, and also across various ministries, for a more holistic approach towards reforming agriculture. Read on...

Financial Express: From plate to plough: India must get its agri-markets right
Authors: Ashoka Gulati, Carmel Cahill


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2017

Industry experts are bullish on India's agriculture and suggest that it has potential to double farmer's income and grow exports to US$ 100 billion by 2022. Rajju Shroff, President of Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) and MD of United Phosphorus Ltd, says, 'Globally, exports in agricultural products is over US$ 1500 billion annually as per the latest data from WTO and India's share is less than US$ 35 billion at present.' According to the latest report by Centre for Environment and Agriculture (Centegro) and Tata Strategic Management Group, released by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, 'Agriculture's contribution to India's economy extends beyond the rural economy and encompasses many activities in manufacturing and services sector. Export surplus from the country's agricultural trade is higher than the corresponding figure achieved by the manufacturing sector.' Report urges the government to launch 'Grow In India' campaign to achieve gains in agri-exports with a single authority to monitor India's international agricultural trade. Report suggests that organic farming is not sustainable because of low yield and need for huge amount of unavailable manure. Mr. Shroff explains the dynamics of India's agricultural growth, 'This is all due to small and marginal farmers who deploy family labour and engage in intensive multi cropping all year round. They also manage livestock & poultry efficiently using agriculture waste as animal feed and to produce manure.' Read on...

The Economic Times: Agriculture exports may grow to $100 billion by 2022 - Experts
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2017

Agriculture is a critical component of the economy and farmers are the nation's backbone. India's 2017 food-grains production is around 273.83 million metric tonne. World Bank predicts Indian food-grain production to reach 280.6 million metric tonne by the year 2020-21. Following are key areas that India's agriculture should pursue for growth and development - (1) Demand Strength: Large population is key driver of agrarian demand growth; Rise in urban and rural income; Increase export demand particularly from Middle-East and Central Asia. (2) Attractive Opportunities: Hybrid seeds; Chemical Fertilizers; Organic Fertilizers. (3) Competitive Advantages: High proportion of over 157 million hectares of agrarian land; Leads in production of jute, pulses, milk, buffalo meat export; Second largest producer of wheat and paddy. (4) Government Policies: Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana has led to development of various organic clusters with very low chemical dependency; Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana has also played a major role to irrigate the agrarian lands; Step towards unified agriculture market; 100% FDI under automatic route for development of seeds; Reduction in wheat import duty from 10% to almost zero and capping import limits to two lakh tonnes by importers in pulses. (5) Development Of Rabi And Kharif Seasons: Kharif season (Summer - April to September) mainly for paddy and Rabi season (Winter - October to March) for wheat production, have registered good growth. In March 2017, almost 64.5 million hectares of agricultural land were sown, out of which over 19 million hectares land was insured during Rabi season. More than 16.4 million farmers were benefitted by the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna. Read on...

Businessworld: Key Focus Areas For Indian Agriculture Sector
Author: Prabodh Krishna


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jan 2017

Marc Faber, editor and publisher of 'The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report', while speaking on Indian economy, says, 'It does not matter whether India grows at 5% per annum or 7% per annum but if you look at the next 10 years or so, you could easily expect an economy that on an average grows anywhere between 4% and 7% per annum. That is a very high growth rate compared to practically no growth expected from the US or in Europe.' On sectors that would be attractive for investments, he comments, 'In 2017, some commodity related stocks including oil and gas will be reasonably attractive. What I have noticed to be the most attractive sectors are plantation companies, agricultural companies and fertiliser companies. They have significant potential on the upside because agricultural commodity prices have been very weak since 2011. These agricultural commodity prices will pace them out and start to increase. The agricultural sector, fertilisers are relatively attractive.' Read on...

The Economic Times: Expect India to grow between 4%-7% in next 10 years: Marc Faber
Author: Tanvir Gill


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 may 2016

India's healthcare is an opportunity that has room for growth for all - public or private, for-profit or non-profit, foreign or domestic entities. According to the latest CII-KPMG report, Indian healthcare sector is estimated to reach US$ 160 billion in 2017, accounting for about 4.2% of GDP. It is further expected to grow to US$ 280 billion by 2020. India currently spends only 1.05% of GDP on public health. Over the years, governments have tried to develop policies and have taken steps to provide better healthcare for its citizens. But India's large size, huge population (1.25 billion) and ineffective implementation at various levels, has created lop sided infrastructure and uneven development in healthcare. While bigger towns and cities have developed state of the art healthcare facilities, the rural part has lagged behind on multiple counts. Inspite of all the challenges, India is taking a stride into the next phase of healthcare, riding on technological advances, new financial models and corporatization of hospitals. Timely provision of healthcare assistance is the key to save cost and save lives. Multipronged strategy is the need of the hour. Technology, skilled and trained medical professionals, substantial investment and effective execution of best practices will help India provide what the today's citizens expect from the growing economy. Read on...

ilmeps/read: India's Healthcare - Overcoming Challenges and Moving into the Future To Provide Better Health and Save Lives
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2016

Government policies and budgetary allocations play an important role in building a business-friendly environment. Since startups are essential for growth of economic activity, they need to be nurtured during their early stages of development. Government has to provide facilitating ecosystem for entrepreneurial ventures and give special consideration in annual budgets. Indian government's campaigns like 'Make in India', 'Startup India', 'Digital India' and 'Skill India', are driven to stimulate economic activity and support local business development along with attracting global investments. To fulfil these ideas and particularly 'Startup India', Indian government's Budget'2016 should have specific allocations for startups. Following is the list of 19 entrepreneurs and their expectations from the budget - (1) K. Balakrishnan, MD & CEO, Servion Global Solutions: Provide necessary incentives, legal/tax framework and infrastructure support to IT and Electronics industry; Increase investments in broadband connectivity; Improved IT infrastructure and e-governance. (2) Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, Lybrate: Increase the tax holiday period from 3 years to at least 5 years; Profitable startups be charged less corporate tax; Benefit of tax rebate on healthcare expense should be for entire tax payer class and not just for salaried class. (3) Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-founder, ixigo: Tourism-friendly policies; Focus more on infrastructure and develop airports and provide better connectivity to smaller towns; Better definition for online aggregators and their taxation norms; Clearly define online marketplace. (4) Sobhan Babu, Professor at IIT Hyderabad and founder of Plianto Technologies: Support for startups in the tender bidding process with easy norms. (5) Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director of Bird Group and Member of CII National Committee on Civil Aviation: Draft aviation policy and development of airports in tier-I and tier-II cities is a positive step; Address challenges related to complex policies, aggressive price cuts, multi-tiered tax system and infrastructure deterring the true potential of the Indian aviation industry; Treat aviations sector as national priority. (6) Rohan Bhargava, Co-founder, CashKaro.com: Fund-of-funds and tax benefits for startups need to be implemented effectively; Set out clear and measurable timelines with minimal bureaucratic intervention; Provide clear tax policy that will address the complications of the current tax structure faced by ecommerce sites; Present GST roadmap. (7) Manish Kumar, CEO & Co-founder, GREX Alternative Investments Pvt Ltd: Fund-of-funds should invest directly in startups; Proposed US$ 1.5 billion in FoF is not enough to make impact; Remove 'angel tax'; Relaxation on capital gain tax; Explore alternative ways for raising funds like venture debt; Promote risk investing through proper framework for investor exit. (8) Geetha Kannan, Managing Director, The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) India: Expecting 'gender mainstreaming'; Integrate gender perspective to all relevant policies and initiatives; Special allocation for women entrepreneurs; Provide women-friendly facilities and infrastructure in '100 Smart City' initiative; Focus on women-safety; Get more aggressive on women-specific policies. (9) Ankita Tandon, Chief Operating Officer, CouponDunia: Minimal government or bureaucratic intervention in channeling startup funds; Further increase existing tax exemptions for startups; Better internet connectivity in tier-I and tier-II cities; Introduce tax incentives for startup employees to encourage youths to join startups. (10) Srikanth Reddy, Founder/Chairman, Palred Technologies & LatestOne.com: Encourage participation of Indian institutional investors in startups; ESOP/Sweat Equity shares should be taxed when they are actually sold. (11) Deepit Purkayastha, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Inshorts: 'Skill India' program should work with 'Startup India'; Maket investments to impart contemporary skills and entrepenerial education; Overhaul of university incubators; Exempt tax on angel investments and ESOPs and relaxed regime for startups to go public and launch IPOs. (12) Pushpinder Singh, CEO & Co-founder, Travelkhana: Announce separate railways startup policy; Include only the transportation cost on rail ticket with additional facilities like food, blankets etc kept as optional charges; Develop a system to utilize data generated by railways everyday. (13) Sanjay Sethi, CEO & Co-founder, Shopclues: GST should become a reality; Tax incentives for startup employees; Policy support for startups going for IPO. (14) Mohit Dubey, Co-founder & CEO, Carwale: Steps toward concrete vehicular pollution policy; Incentives and rebates for hybrids and less polluting vehicular technologies; Fuel policy towards global quality standards and encourage less polluting fuels. (15) Vipin Pathak, Co-founder & CEO, Care24: Easy FDI investment norms, licensing and startup support (tax, documentation, licensing, legal). (16) Manu Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Naaptol: Provide clarity to taxation laws relatd to online marketplaces; Better infrastructure and logistic systems like larger ports and transit systems are need to facilitate imports. (17) Hitesh Doshi, CMD, Waaree Energies: Push for solar manufacturing industry through fulfilling material's requirement locally; Encourage local production through incentives and implementation of anti-dumping policies; Investments in solar energy R&D and technology innovation; Policy reforms like that of depreciation benefits. (18) Amit Mishra, Co-founder & CEO, Quifers: Streamline tax on capital deducted at source like giving first year start-ups the benefit of tax exemption at source; Decreasing service tax by a certain percentage in the first year of operation; Giving out tax benefits and incentives to early stage investors. (19) Chirag Haria, CEO of Aarogyam Energy Jewellery: Utilization of India Post Rural Network with incentives on Cash on Delivery (COD) orders in Rural India, to help increase rural spending; Income tax benefits for individuals/trust investing in Gold Monetization Scheme to bring down gold imports; Increase Excise Duty exemptions from 1.5 crore to 5 crore to encourage small scale manufacturing and prevent black marketing. Read on...

TechStory: What Startups Want From Budget 2016?
Author: Dipti Gore


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 feb 2016

Make in India Week has now started in Mumbai and along with it India Design Forum (IDF) 2016 is developing strategies and advocating how a facilitating design environment and culture can be nurtured to enable growth of manufacturing. IDF is integrated into Make in India campaign's plan to demonstrate the potential of design, innovation and sustainability across India's manufacturing sector. Rajshree Pathy, founder of IDF, explains, 'Design is not merely about clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery, as is commonly believed. Those are incidental. Design is, in fact, at the heart of the manufacturing process. It is not a 'thing', it is a way of thinking.' Satyendra Pakhale, an Amsterdam-based designer, citing Tata Nano's example says, 'It is a good example of Indian design, which combined engineering innovations with a careful consideration for the demands of the domestic market. In fact, one of India's most famous qualities - jugaad - is indicative of an innovative mindset.' According to Simran Lal, CEO of Good Earth, 'It's important that we bring rural design and India's rural design communities along on this journey.' Time is now ripe for India to upgrade to a design-driven manufacturing ecosystem, attract global investments, partner with global corporations and manufacture for the world, but without losing the focus on serving the needs of the large local market. Read on...

The Indian Express: Make in India Week - Putting design at the heart of manufacturing
Author: Pooja Pillai


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 dec 2015

The PPP Knowledge Lab of the World Bank defines a PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) as, 'A long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance.' Different countries are incorporating modified version of the definition in their laws depending upon their own legal and institutional framework. Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman of Cargill India, suggests a PPP framework for India's agriculture for sustainability and better rural development, in which the government provides and co-finance the back-end of the value chain, while the rest is done by the private sector and the farmers. Although India has made continued progress in food security, quadrupling its food grain production. But a lot more is desired as its crop yield still hovers between 30% to 60% of the best sustainable crop yields achievable in developed and some other developing countries. There is substantial room for increase in productivity and total output gains. Moreover India has some of the highest postharvest food losses due to poor infrastructure and unorganized retail. To overcome infrastructural and supply-chain inefficiencies, degrading of land and water, effects of climate change etc, India requires a collaborative multipronged strategy in the form of PPP to utilize technologically advance farming practices, build efficient supply chains and develop organized marketing and retailing. Mr. Chaudhry details the role of various PPP models that bring together all the stakeholders of the agricultural ecosystem for making India's agriculture as the engine of rural growth and development, to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and in addition be a major source of food for the world - (1) Investing in smarter value chains: Develop food processing industry. Provide farm extension services. Enhance price realization. Cut out intermediaries. Improve supply chain through forward and backward linkages. (2) Improving access to credit, technology and markets: Utilize advance information technology and biotechnology. Provide farmers agricultural knowledge and guidance. Develop high-yield, pest resistant crops. Enable better management of natural resources. (3) Building farmer resilience to environmental shocks: Provide financial security to farmers. Enable them to de-risk through insurance etc. Develop integrated value chains. He cites the example of Maharashtra government's PPP for Integrated Agricultural Development (MPPIAD), that was catalyzed by World Economic Forum's New Vision for Agriculture (NVA), to develop integrated value chains. Read on...

Livemint: Making India's agriculture sustainable through PPPs
Author: Siraj Chaudhry


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 dec 2015

United Nation's '2015 Climate Change Conference' is being held in Paris (France) where 196 countries are on the table to reach consensus on tackling climate change and contain global temperature rise and keep it below 2°C. The recent study, 'Climate Change and India: Adaptation Gap (2015) - A Preliminary Assessment', conducted by Prof. Amit Garg of IIM Ahmedabad, Prof. Vimal Mishra of IIT Gandhinagar and Dr. Hem Dholakia of Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), found that India would need over US$1 trillion from now until 2030 to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. The study identifies India's preliminary financial, technology, and knowledge gaps in adaptation, as well as capacity building and institutional needs. The study also estimates that about 800 million people living across nearly 450 districts in India are already experiencing significant increases in annual mean temperature going above 2°C warming pathway. For the whole of India the estimated increase will be 1-1.5°C in the near term (2016-2045). The implications would be disastrous for agriculture and crop production, and the effects could be more pronounced due to estimated increase in extreme precipitation events, resulting in flooding and significant damage to infrastructure. While commenting on the importance of the findings, Mr. Ashok Lavasa (Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), said, 'Supporting and enhancing the sustainable development of 1.25 billion people is at the heart of India's adaptation gap filling strategy. The fruits of development should not be lost due to increasing adaptation gap in the future.' Read on...

CEEW: India's Climate Adaptation Gap Amounts to USD 1 Trillion, reveals CEEW, IIM-A, IIT-Gn study
Author: NA

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