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Policy & Governance

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2020

The 'Report of the Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting' was recently released by Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA, Govt. of India) by MCA Secretary Rajesh Verma. The expert members of the committee include Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh (Chairman of the Committee & Joint Secretary, MCA), Amarjeet Singh (Executive Director, SEBI), Chandan Kumar (Deputy Director, MCA), Ashish Garg (President, The Institute of Company Secretaries of India, ICSI), Atul Kumar Gupta (President, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, ICAI), Balwinder Singh (President, The Institute of Cost Accountants of India, ICMAI), Shankar Venkateswaran (Adjunct Faculty, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, IICA) and Viraf Mehta (Adjunct Faculty, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, IICA). The report, as part of new Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) regime, suggests that businesses will have to disclose in detail how they try to influence regulatory policies and public opinion and list the public policy positions they advocate. The report proposes two different reporting procedures - one comprehensive mandatory reporting for large listed and unlisted companies and the other 'lite' reporting version for smaller businesses to adopt voluntarily. Disclosure of lobbying is considered an essential reporting requirement. The report says, 'Businesses, when engaging in influencing public and regulatory policy, should do so in a manner that is responsible and transparent.' Businesses also have to disclose details of public policy positions they advocate, methods resorted to for advocacy and whether information on this is available in the public domain. The report considers inclusion and diversity, and environmental considertations as important components of reporting. Former Secretary of MCA, Injeti Srinivas, who formulated the committee, writes in the report, 'With several global companies being larger than many nation states in terms of turnover, the responsibility of businesses to their stakeholders will only increase in the coming years. The NGRBC (National Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct) and its companion BRSR is a significant step to enable businesses in India to not just behave responsibly, but to also demonstrate to its stakeholders that it walks the talk. We can then proudly say 'Make in India - Responsibly'.' Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh, Chairman of the Committee & Joint Secretary in MCA, writes in the report, 'The endeavour of the Committee has been to ensure that the BRSR reporting format would serve as a single source for all non-financial disclosures. Over the last two decades, public policy across the world, has been moving in this direction. In designing the structure of the report, the Committee has made a conscious effort to balance the objective of self-regulation through disclosures while ensuring that there is no undue compliance burden on companies.' Read on...

Livemint: 'Firms must reveal how they influence policy'
Author: Gireesh Chandra Prasad


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jul 2020

India has developed expertize in chip design and microchip design related services and its R&D centers are world renowned. On the contrary, it lacks sunbstantially in chip fabrication and manufacturing facilities. Over the years not much investment has been made in this regard and India lags far behind countries like Taiwan, China and the US. Experts suggest that building chip fabrication facilities and ecosystem require huge investments and takes time along with conducive government policies. Moreover, manufacturing is expensive unless it can achieve economies of scale like in Taiwan and China. To reduce its dependancy on China and finding an opportunity to become an alternative destination for chip manufacturing, Indian policy makers and businesses have to consider long-term strategic planning in this regard. Aditya Narayan Mishra, Director and CEO of CIEL HR Services, says, 'Chip design and manufacturing is a highly capital-intensive business...We need access to capital, favourable policies and investment on the ecosystem from design to application engineering...The government has to decide if this is an industry which needs to be promoted.' Dr. Satya Gupta, Chairman of India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), says, 'A fabrication facility for chip manufacturing requires on an average US$ 8-to-10 billion of investment...Most chip designers outsource to third-party manufacturers who have the expertise and scale in developing such chips.' Ganesh Suryanarayanan, CTO of Myelin Foundry Pvt. Ltd., says, 'Companies in China and Taiwan have had a lot of government support over the last couple of decades to foster such an ecosystem, which consists of materials, machinery, manufacturing, testing, packaging, and sales...Indian government tried one initiative called the Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (HSMC)...which did not take off-based on the need for heavy initial investment and delayed return on investment.' Read on...

THE WEEK: Why India is good at designing chips, but not at manufacturing them
Author: Abhinav Singh


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2020

In the recent report, 'Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index Into Action' by Katrin Kinzelbach (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg - FAU), Robert Quinn (Scholars at Risk Network), Janika Spannagel (Global Public Policy Institute - GPPi) and Ilyas Saliba (GPPi), that introduced Academic Freedom Index (AFi), India has a low score of 0.352 out of the maximum value of 1. India is in the same category [D Status (0.2-0.4)] as Algeria (0.357), Cameroon (0.361), Palestine/Gaza (0.371), Russia (0.364), Saudi Arabia (0.278), Vietnam (0.379) etc. The top category [A Status (0.8–1.0)] include countries like Uruguay (0.971), Portugal (0.971), Latvia (0.964), Germany (0.960), UK (0.934) etc while the bottom category [E Status (0.0-0.2)] include countries like North Korea (0.011), Eritrea (0.015), Bahrain (0.039), Turkey (.097), United Arab Emirates (0.103), Iran (0.116) etc. India is also one of a handful of countries whose AFi dipped by at least 0.1 points in the five years until 2019. The AFi has eight components. Three are based on factual data and the remaining five are 'expert-coded' - they’re based on the 1810 scholars' assessments 'integrated in a Bayesian measurement model'. The components are - (1) Freedom to research and teach (2) Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination (3) Institutional autonomy (4) Campus integrity (5) Freedom of academic and cultural expression (6) Constitutional protection of academic freedom (7) International legal commitment to academic freedom under the the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (8) Existence of universities. Atanu Biswas, a professor at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI-Kolkata), says that the report's accompanying 'codebook' doesn't have many details about the technique used to 'integrate' the assessments, called 'Bayesian factor analysis'. Madhusudhan Raman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR-Mumbai), also cautioned against over-interpreting conclusions based on one figure. Read on...

The Wire: India Registers Low 'Academic Freedom Index' Score in New International Report
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 jun 2020

India's agriculture should scale up to the next level in terms of empowerment to farmers, enhanced supply chain and logistics networks, advanced technological usage, superior quality of produce and global competitiveness. Recent announcement of reforms by the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitaraman, focusing on amendment in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, the Essential Commodities Act, and facilitating contract farming through price and quality assurance, has drawn a positive response from Ashok Gulati, former chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, who termed it as 'A 1991 moment for Indian agriculture.' M. R. Subramani, executive editor of SwarajyaMag, explains the present focus and what more is required for India's agriculture to revolutionalize itself and move into an era of overall success. He points out three areas - (1) Food Stocks: Going beyond fulfilling domestic demand; Food Corporation of India (FCI) show that current foodgrain stocks in the country are nearly three times the mandated operational and reserve storage norms; Indian agriculture should look more closely at consumers' interests, export markets and making optimum use of its human resources; Focus on producing healthy foods like diabetic-friendly varieties etc; Encouraging the production of coarse grains such as ragi, maize, bajra and sorghum will help farmers diversify and getter higher returns. (2) Focus on Inputs: Focus has been on the input side of agriculture such as seeds, pesticides and insecticides only and most subsidies are directed here; Efforts should focus on the output side of agriculture such as marketing and meeting consumer needs; Change in farmer's mindset is needed to think beyond just selling their produce only to meet their next crop's input costs and keeping a portion for personal consumption; To keep next generations engaged in farming new methods and processes are to be introduced for increased productivity and profitability. (3) Minimum Support Price (MSP) System: Indian MSP policy is under the scrutiny of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for distorting markets and is supposedly flawed as it does not reward productivity; Incentivise foodgrain production by rewarding farmers producing more per hectare, and this is necessary particularly when the outlook shifts towards meeting the consumer or export market demand, in addition to staying self-sufficient. Read on...

The Hindu: India needs a paradigm shift in agriculture
Author: M. R. Subramani


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 may 2020

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) spend is mandatory for certain profitable corporations in India. Most businesses are strategically utilizing their CSR funds. Moreover, Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent directive by government for corporates to participate in Covid-19 relief as part of their CSR activity, has prompted companies to innovate their CSR spends. Gaurav Patra, founder of Value360 Communication, explains how marketers are utilizing the challenge posed by Covid-19 as opportunity to strengthen their brands by strategically focusing on CSR to support society and connect with communities. He says, 'In this hour of global crisis, various marketers are stepping up and aligning their strategy in line with the announcements made by the government. Brands should take this as an opportunity to look inward and be as resourceful as possbile towards the cause. Many companies and businesses are donating certain amounts to the 'PM Cares Fund' formed by the Government of India, while others focus on facilitating vital necessities like masks, sanitizers, gloves, medicines, food to the underprivileged, health institutions, hospitals, etc. Marketers and brands are also committing a certain portion of their CSR funds towards Covid Fund. They are also placing health check-up camps in tier-2 cities in order to help migrants get tested first hand. Few brands have also come forward to manufacture ventilators, sanitizers, thermal testers, drones lending assistance to the government in combating this pandemic situation.' Companies are utilizing various media channels like print, television, social media etc to create awarenesss and educate the masses through creatively designing campaigns with Covid-19 theme. Mr. Patra suggests, 'Given the scale and urgency of the situation, brands should co-create their solutions as an effective response to Covid-19 outbreak. Together, through the right channel, one voice, we can safeguard our nation and help fight this global pandemic.' Read on...

Business Insider: How marketers are now focusing on CSR in current COVID-19 situation
Author: Gaurav Patra


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 mar 2020

India needs to upgrade its education system to build trained human resources and benefit from the demographic dividend. Amit Dasgupta, former Indian diplomat, author, educator and Inaugural India Country Director of UNSW (Sydney, Australia), explains, 'In a world of ageing societies, this demographic dividend can be leveraged to global advantage. But for this to happen, the young population needs to be in tune with the demands that future societies would require. This is fundamentally where Indian education fails as it clings on to an obsolete system of pedagogy with an acute resistance to change.' He says that education is about individual's overall development and Australian education makes it possible for students with diverse career aspirations, to gain deeper knowledge in the sectors of their interest. Moreover, it is not restricted to classroom and relies on broad engagement activities, personality development seminars, and soft-skill workshops. He provides lessons that India can learn from Australia's education system - (1) Need for dynamic faculty: Consult with potential employers, understand their expectations and design courses accordingly. Enhance learning experience through experiential or project-based learning. (2) Globalising education: Include, accept and celebrate diversity. Nurture and value different ideas and perspectives. Welcome students from all walks of life and different backgrounds. (3) Quality education: Avoid exclusivity and broaden intake of students. Have clarity in educational objectives. Institutions shouldn't function like business ventures but they should be knowledge imparters and focus on human development. (4) Robust research culture: Research is crucial part of the teaching and learning process. It provides students with in-depth knowledge on the subject and assists individuals in forming clearer opinions and promotes innovation. Read on...

India Today: 4 things we can learn from Australia's education system
Author: Amit Dasgupta


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 mar 2020

Empowering women and girls in rural India is a necessity that can't be ignored. Initiative taken by Gurdev Kaur Deol of Ludhiana (Punjab, India) is trying to achieve it by a self-help group (SHG). She is marketing their produce through Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and making them self-reliant with sizeable income. There are other nonprofits that are transforming lives of women and their families by engaging in various ways. Ms. Kaur says, 'Initially, I formed SHGs involving 15 rural women...Later, I made 'Global Self-Help Group FPO' which is now engaged in production, manufacturing, processing and marketing of food processing items such as pickles, squash, honey besides staples. Currently, we have 300 farmers with 50% of them being women.' Deepika Sindhwani, president of NGO Mahila Kalyan Samiti, says, 'These rural women are talented and need guidance. We have formed 350 SHGs...We have imparted them training in phulkari, jute bags and food processing.' National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is also assisting through SHG Bank Linkage Programme by providing credit, skills and micro entrepreneurship development training. J. P. S. Bindra of NABARD says, 'During the past one decade, we have also started forming Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to increase farmers' income. A few of our FPOs have successful women farmers.' Read on...

The Tribune: Self-help groups empowering rural women in Punjab
Author: Vijay C. Roy


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 feb 2020

Recently published book 'Make Health in India: Reaching a Billion Plus' by Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and adjunct professor at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, analyzes India's health sector since the 1990s, explores the challenges in delivering healthcare to the large Indian population and provides recommendations on various policy and management matters. The book starts with health data and indicators. This provides how some overall figures have improved but digging deeper shows marked inter-state variations. Due to this it is recommended that there is a need to customize policy-making specific to each state. India has poor immunization rate (62-64%), which is even lower than some under-developed economies of sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, public health expenditure in India is among the lowest in the world (0.9-1.2% of the GDP). Another chapter explains how 55-63 million people in India have been pushed to poverty over the past decade because of out-of-pocket expenditure on health as families spend 10-40 per cent of their income on health. WHO recommends out-of-pocket expenditure not to exceed 15-20% of the total health expenditure. The book says, 'To achieve that even in stages, India must aim to bring it to 50% or lower as first step,' suggesting his would require 5-6% of GDP. The book discusses tussle between center and states over increasing in health budgets with Niti Ayog asking states to double their contributions. Currently center contributes 1/3 of total public health spending. Niti Ayog's proposal to hand over district hospitals to private medical colleges in public-private partnership (PPP) mode makes the author to term it as the 'partnership-for-private profit' model, showing discontent with the concept. Another chapter tackles the issue of inaccessibility of medicines - out of 55 million who became poor due to healthcare expenditure in 2011-12, about 38 million were impoverished because of spending on medicines alone. Although India is known as the producer of inexpensive drugs and is recognized as 'global pharmacy'. The book explains, 'While the low purchasing capacity of a large segment of the Indian population may be a contributing factor, the main reason is that many drugs in India are priced higher than they should be. While a reasonable level of profit is acceptable, high mark-ups over the manufacturing cost makes the drugs costlier than they need to be.' The book also addresses Ayushman Bharat scheme and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) - 'While the activation of HWCs (health and wellness centers) is welcome, but the budgetary allocation to the National Health Mission (which covers rural and urban health missions) in 2018 and 2019 does not reflect the commitment to boost rural primary healthcare to the level needed. It is also disappointing to see that the Urban Health Mission component has been virtually ignored in these budgets.' 'In absence of effective primary health services, the uncontrolled demand for services under PMJAY will drain the health budget, and in turn, reduce the funds available for primary care and public sector hospital strengthening.' To address shortage of healthcare providers can debilitate the health system, the book recommends creation of a National Commission for Human Resources in Health. To tackle 'maldistribution of doctors', the book recommends establishment of a National Medical Service which should recruit fresh graduates in rural areas, post-graduates in district hospitals, and create a permanent cadre of specialist doctors. Read on...

DownToEarth: Unhealthy affair: Book review - Make Health in India
Author: Banjot Kaur


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jan 2020

Team of researchers led by Prof. Saptarshi Ghosh of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur have developed an AI-based (Artificial Intelligence) system to automate reading of legal case judgements. Although in countries like US, Britain, Japan, Singapore and Australia, AI is utlilized for legal research, review documents during litigation and conduct due diligence, analyse contracts to determine whether they meet pre-determined criteria, and to even predict case outcomes. But this research can become pioneering in Indian context as AI use in legal field is just taking off. India follows a Common Law system that prioritises the doctrine of legal precedent over statutory law, and where legal documents are often written in an unstructured way. The paper, 'Identification of Rhetorical Roles of Sentences in Indian Legal Judgments', based on the research received 'Best Paper Award' at JURIX 2019, the International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems, at Madrid. Other researchers in the project are - Paheli Bhattacharya (IIT Kharagpur), Kripabandhu Ghosh (Tata Research Development and Design Centre, Pune), Shounak Paul (IIT Kharagpur), Adam Wyner (Swansea University, UK). Prof. Ghosh says, 'Taking 50 judgments from the Supreme Court of India, we segmented these by first labelling sentences...then performing extensive analysis of the human-assigned labels and developing a high quality gold standard corpus to train the machine to carry out the task. We are trying to build an AI system which can give guidance to the common man about which laws are being violated in a given situation, or if there is merit in taking a particular situation to court, so that legal costs can be minimised.' The neural methods used by the team enables automatic learning of the features, given sufficient amount of data, and can be used across multiple legal domains. This method can help in several downstream tasks such as summarization of legal judgments, legal search, case law analysis, and other functions. Read on...

Outlook: IIT Kharagpur develops AI-powered tech for reading legal cases
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2019

According to nseinfobase.com, CSR spends of Indian corporates have increased 17.2% to Rs. 11867.2 crore in FY19 from Rs. 10128.3 in FY18. This is the highest spend since FY15 (Rs. 6552.5 crore), when the CSR spend was made mandatory through Companies Act 2013. It is observed that corporates are increasingly using their CSR spends on charitable contributions. The highest amount of Rs. 4406 crore were for schedule VII (II) that focuses on education. The next big spend was Rs. 3206.5 crore under VII (I) for eradicating hunger, poverty, malnutrition and promoting health and hygiene. Rural development got Rs. 1319 crore and remaining went for projects that include environment protection, benefits to the armed forces, disaster management etc. From geographical point of view Maharashtra and Gujarat were at the top to get contributions while Bihar and North-East states got the least CSR funds. Experts say that large spends have also seemed to have prompted closer attention to how the money is spent. Amit Tandon, founder and MD of Institutional Investor Advisory Services India (IiAS), says, 'There are more and more companies who are doing impact assessment...people recognise the need to do it.' Pranav Haldea, MD at Prime Database, says, 'Low CSR budget could act as a constraint for some companies to adopt monitoring mechanisms. It may only make sense for firms with very large budgets. Smaller companies may find it too expensive to employ an agency for external audits on a regular basis.' Read on...

Business Standard: Companies spent Rs 11,867 cr on CSR activities in FY19; highest so far
Author: Sachin P. Mampatta


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2019

Social enterprises can become an important pillar of Indian economy just like corporations and businesses. India has more than two million social enterprises that include nonprofits, for-profits and hybrid models. According to a McKinsey study, 'impact investors' in India poured a total of US$ 5.2 billion between 2010 and 2016, with substantial focus on sectors like financial inclusion and clean energy. A survey conducted by Brookings India found that 57% of the social enterprises identify access to debt and equity as a barrier to growth and sustainability. In the budget Indian government proposed a social stock exchange (SSE) to list social enterprises and voluntary organisations. Suresh K. Krishna, MD and CEO, and Geet Kalra, portfolio associate, at Yunus Social Business Fund, explain what benefits this social stock exchange will bring to the social enterprise ecosystem and suggest that careful planning is needed in designing it. They explain, 'SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) set up its working committee on SSEs on September 19, however, many experts have already proposed distilling learnings from those of other countries. Some of these exchanges are either information sites, like in the case of the London Stock Exchange, or list nonprofit projects only. Canada's Social Venture Connexion (SVC) and Singapore's Impact Investment exchange are more advanced in terms of accreditation, valuation and monitoring, whereas the Brazilian model didn't use such valuations at all. While formulating a similar product for India, we need to have an extensive as well as 'cautious' approach. There is no consensus in the wider social impact community about what is and isn't a social enterprise, therefore the definition itself first needs more objectivity...Once we have a shared frame of reference in place, we can design impact valuation parameters for social enterprises based on social and environmental mission, target beneficiaries, service delivery, stakeholder involvement, and impact measurement.' SSE listing will provide visibility to social enterprises and assist in attracting funds in the form of private equity and debt. Listing debt products on the SSE would encourage banks, NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Company) and other investors to participate in the growth of social enterprises and enhancing their impact. Moreover, SSE impact valuation will encourage development of more innovative financial products. SME exchanges operated by BSE and NSE can also provide valuable learning in effectively designing SSE. Mr. Krishna and Mr. Kalra suggest, 'For a social stock exchange to meet its intended objectives, we need to take measures such as: educating market participants about the valuation metrics weighing both on social and financial returns; amplifying the efforts of creating and supporting social businesses; bringing policy and regulatory reforms to support investors, and facilitating research and development for small social enterprises.' Read on...

The Hindu: A social stock exchange will help in raising capital
Authors: Suresh K. Krishna, Geet Kalra


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 nov 2019

Human health is closely linked to the condition of the surrounding environment. According to the National Health Report (NHP) released on 31 October 2019, a degraded environment filled with air and water pollution continues to affect health of people in India. Air pollution-linked acute respiratory infections contributed 68.47% to the morbidity burden in the country and also to highest mortality rate after pneumonia. While contaminated drinking water caused acute diarrhoeal diseases that led to second highest morbidity at 21.83%. Moreover, cholera cases went up to 651 in 2018 from 508 in 2017. While releasing the 14th National Health Profile 2019, Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India), said, 'Data helps us to navigate health needs and issues, and helps devise area specific programme strategies.' But despite the increasing burden of diseases in the country, the budgetary allowance for controlling diseases has been steadily dipping in the last few years, says the report. According to 2017-18 budget estimates, India spends only 1.28% of its GDP as public expenditure on health. The NHP report pointed out that per capita public expenditure on health has gone up to Rs 1657 in 2017-18 from Rs 621 in 2009-10. While states are bearing 63% of this expenditure, out of pocket expenditure by the patients are not included in this estimate, which is known to be the biggest reason behind increasing debt in the population. Read on...

DownToEarth: Diseases linked to a degraded environment continue to ravage India
Author: Vibha Varshney


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 | 07 sep 2019

Trust between patients and care givers is one of the critical factors in determining success of healthcare system. And trust develops over a period of time through positive experiences that are achieved by providing quality care at the right time, effectively and efficiently at the right price. But, it seems, India's healthcare is lacking behind in satisfactory healthcare delivery. According to the recent report by Ernst & Young (EY) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), 'Re-engineering Indian Healthcare 2.0', based on an online survey of 1000 patients across six geographical zones in India, 'There is a growing mistrust among patients against healthcare providers and the Indian healthcare system needs to tailor its current model for inclusion and mass healthcare to deliver true care with a focus on primary care, wellness and health outcomes.' The report finds that - 61% patients believe that hospitals did not act in their best interests; 63% of patients indicated that they were not happy with hospital responsiveness and waiting times; 59% patients felt the hospitals were not concerned about feedback and do not actively seek it. Kaivaan Movdawalla, Partner at EY India (Healthcare), says, 'For realising the aspired levels of efficiency, it is imperative for healthcare providers to shift from an incremental performance plus approach to a radical design to cost or direct-to-consumer approach for redesigning their operating models and cost structures.' Dr. Arvind Lal, Chair at FICCI Healthservices Committee and CMD of Dr Lal PathLabs, says, 'There is an urgent need to bridge the 'trust deficit' between the patient and the doctor; patient and the hospital; as well as government and the private healthcare provider for the Health of the Indian Healthcare.' EY recommends a '5E Framework' for building trust across all principal stakeholders, that is, policymakers, healthcare providers, payors and the public. This framework comprises integrating empathy, efficiency, empowerment, ease and environment to achieve the agenda of universal health access and the right to health. Read on...

Business Today: Most patients are dissatisfied with India's healthcare system, says EY-FICCI report
Author: P. B. Jayakumar


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 | 22 may 2019

India's CSR legislation is a step in the right direction and is globally praised. Recently, 47 participants from 33 global multinational companies that are associated with WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) visited India to learn about sustainable businesses. WBCSD Leadership Program is a year-long series of engagements and learning exercises in partnership with Yale University. Rodney Irwin, Managing Director of WBCSD's Redefining Value and Education program, says, 'The legislation asking large companies to spend 2% of their profit on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is appreciable, but large companies should not stop there. These large firms should look at making their businesses sustainable by integrating the concept of environmental, social and governance advantages into the core business.' He advocated the need for integrating sustainable approach to doing businesses along with maintaining profitability. He adds, 'In long-run, profitability can be greater if you embrace opportunities that accompany sustainable approach.' Since a number of large Indian companies are family-owned, he says, 'The companies that have family connections tend to not just make the businesses successful but they want to make sure that the business can be passed on to the next generation. They have a long-term vision.' Read on...

IndiaCSR: Large companies should look beyond CSR mandate at sustainable ways: Rodney Irwin
Author: NA


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 | 06 apr 2019

India is a diverse economy with a large population size. The availability of correct data is a challenge. But there are reliable and free sources that contain datasets and data visualisations of the Indian economic scenario that can be utilized by data scientists - (1) NITI Aayog (Salary Expenditure): It is part of data.gov.in website. An expense or expenditure made to the employees for their work in terms of salary is known as Salary expenditure. It is an outflow of money from the Government for different services. The Data contains Actual, Pre-actual and Budgeted Expenditure for Salary expenditure, total expenditure, Revenue Expenditure, Salary expenditure as percentage of revenue expenditure (net of IP & Pension) and Salary expenditure as percentage of total expenditure of states & union territories. (2) Open Budgets India (openbudgetsindia.org): The portal provides budget information of different tiers of government in India (Union Budget, State Budgets, and Budgets of several Municipal Corporations across the country) in accessible and open (non-proprietary) formats. The four major features of the portal, as of now (in the beta version), are - Budget documents (i.e. the original PDF documents); Machine Readable Datasets (for those budget documents, where it was technically feasible to prepare machine readable datasets); Visualizations (or infographics) generated from the machine readable datasets; and Budget basics (for greater familiarity with budget concepts, processes and documents). The portal includes twelve broad sectors that represent Union and State Budget expenditure on both Economic Services and Social Services. It has 10.6k datasets from 509 budget sources. (3) Ministry Of Statistics (Indian Income Tax): It is part of data.gov.in website. The data refers to details on receipts under income tax from 2000-01 to 2011-12 in head of account such as Minor Head-Other Receipts, Minor Head-Surcharge, Penalties, Interest Recoveries, Primary Education Cess, Secondary and Higher Education Cess. (4) NITI Aayog (Manufacturing GDP): It is part of data.gov.in website. The data refers to information on contribution to manufacturing GDP in the 11th Five-Year Plan and employment in 2009-10 in different segments of the manufacturing sector. It projects employment in 2016-17 and 2024-25 in different segments of manufacturing in two different scenarios. (5) Ministry Of Finance (Statistical Appendix): It is part of the Economic Survey. Website is mofapp.nic.in:8080/economicsurvey. Includes Economic Survey 2017-18 and previous ones. The Statistical Appendix has following sections along with their sub-sections - National Income and Production; Budgetary Transactions; Employment; Monetary Trends; Prices; Balance of Payments; Foreign Trade; External Assistance; Human Development Indicators. Data files can be downloaded in Excel and PDF formats. (6) Ministry of Finance - Department Of Economic Affairs (Trade Balance Of India): It is part of data.gov.in website. The trade balance is the difference between the monetary value of exports and imports of output in an economy. It is one of the most important macroeconomic parameter. Data contains Exports, Imports and Trade Balance of India (in Rs Crore and US$ Million) from 1949-50. It also contains the percentage rate of change of exports as well as imports with respect to the previous year. The data has been provided by Department of Economic Affairs. (7) The World Bank (data.worldbank.org/country/india): Includes time series data on variety of topics like GDP, Population, School Enrolment, CO2 Emissions etc. DataBank is an analysis and visualization tool. (8) IMF DATA (data.imf.org): It provides access to macroeconomic and financial data. Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook (APDREO) provides information on recent economic developments and prospects for countries in Asia and Pacific. India is included in this region. Read on...

Analytics India Magazine: 8 Free Resources On Indian Economy You Can Use For Your Data Science Projects
Author: Ram Sagar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2019

Companies Act of 2014 made India the first country that made CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) mandatory for a section of corporates. The companies were expected to integrate social development programs into their business models and culture. KPMG's 2018-19 report that analyzed the CSR work of 100 companies found that corporates increased their prescribed amount for CSR expenditure from Rs 5779.7 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 7096.9 crore in 2017-18. Moreover, they were actually spending more than what was prescribed (Rs 4708 crore in 2014-15; Rs 7424 crore in 2017-18. But India's most backward districts remain deprived these CSR funds. According to the Ministry of Rural Development, 115 of the 718 districts in India are backward. NITI Aayog suggests that corporates can contribute to the development of these districts. Jharkhand (19 districts, 1% CSR funds received); Bihar (13, 2%); Chhattisgarh (10, 1%); Madhya Pradesh (8, 3%); Odisha (8, 11%). While Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which account for only 15% of such districts, have received 60% of the CSR money. The most backward districts got only 13% of this year's funds and not more than 25% of the total projects. Companies have found convenient ways to direct their CSR funds and shrug off their social responsibility. In July 2018, 272 companies were served notices by the Registrar of Companies for non-compliance with CSR expenditure. Between July 2016 and March 2017, about 1018 companies were issued notices for non-compliance. KPMG has identified three principal areas of non-compliance - disclosure of direct and overhead expenditure on projects, details of overhead expenses, and keeping these overhead expenses below 5% of total CSR spends. Sujit Kumar Singh, senior program manager at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says, 'There is no data to know if companies are undertaking need-based assessment studies, a must since it prioritises the requirements of the impacted communities.' Mr. Singh adds, '...Often, professionals handling CSR are not trained to comprehend societal nuances. In most cases those heading the human resource department handle CSR activities. The need now is a policy which drive companies towards self-regulation, the key to CSR.' According to the reporting guidelines that CSE has prepared, 'Companies should self-regulate and be responsive to the disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised sections of society. They should respect and promote human rights, make efforts to protect and restore the environment, and support inclusive growth and equitable development. The guidelines show how to improve accountability and transparency in CSR spending, and make it an integral part of business.' Read on...

DownToEarth: Indian firms' CSR spending needs more accountability and transparency
Author: Vikrant Wankhede


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 feb 2019

India's 'Development Agenda' as outlined by current government includes development of 100 smart cities, 40 million dwelling units, 20 million affordable homes, better infrastructure facilities through the AMRUT scheme, focus on urban development and transformation, slum rehabilitation, and 'Housing for All' by 2022. It is estimated that to fulfil this agenda there is requirement of 75 million skilled people in real estate and infrastructure. Moreover, according to reports there is need of 4 million core professionals (architects, engineers, planners). Shubika Bilkha, Business Head at The Real Estate Management Institute (REMI), explains the key aspects that architectural graduates and planners should keep in while building their skill set in evolving environment - (1) Be Multifaceted: Take advantage of a number of roles- from design architecture, structural or liaisoning architects, to urban planning, property development, sustainable development, teaching or getting involved with disaster relief/re-building communities. Require skills such as engineering, design, supervisory skills, managing people/teams/vendors/client expectations, an understanding of key building/designing/construction/smart technology, strong communication and persuasion skills to communicate their vision. Have much larger role and bigger scope getting involved from pre-design services, to cost analysis and land-use studies, feasibility reports, environment studies to developing the final construction plans etc. (2) Be Business Minded: Understand key real estate and planning concepts and calculations, municipal and local development regulations, legal limitations, the social and urban infrastructure, fundraising/financing and the evolving policy framework. (3) Be Responsible: Consider social and environmental impact of the recommendations. Understand sustainability and implement it effectively. Read on...

India Today: Architecture career trend in India: 3 things to keep in mind to be a skilled architect
Author: Shubika Bilkha


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 | 31 dec 2018

In India there are central government run healthcare institutions, public state run institutions and private medical colleges that provide modern healthcare education mainly the four year degree MBBS and after that post-graduate degrees of MS and MD. India also have a number of institutions that provide degrees in other healthcare systems like Ayurveda (BAMS), Unani-Greek (BUMS), Homoeopathy (BHMS), Naturopathy etc. Moreover, there are vocational training institutes that provide skills and courses to develop other medical staff like nurses, health assistants etc. There are also corporate run and other private medical colleges and universities and training institutes. India's healthcare facilities are generally concentrated in urban areas while rural areas are generally served by public hospitals and centers. Private clinics are also present in both rural and urban areas. They are generally run by a single doctor or doctor couple and provide basic healthcare. Diagnostic centers are spread all over due to technological advancements and compact and affordable equipments. Healthcare has major disparities between urban and rural areas when it comes to healthcare access. Healthcare has become one of India's largest sectors - both in terms of revenue and employment. The industry comprises public and private hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, pathology and diagnostics, medical devices industry, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. The public sector constitutes primary health centers, central research centers and hospitals, state-run research institutes and hospitals etc. The private sector provides majority of secondary, tertiary and quaternary care institutions with a major concentration in metros, tier-I and tier-II cities. According to National Family Health Survey-3, the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for 70% of households in urban areas and 63% of households in rural areas. Rise of technology is creating new business models in the healthcare industry. Healthcare through smart phones and fitness trackers is new trend. Information technology is automating and streamlining various healthcare processes. Big data is creating new ways of improving healthcare delivery. Startups in India are promising to provide best healthcare at affordable cost more effectively. Latest healthcare equipment is not only imported but also manufactured in India. Digital technologies are enhancing every aspect of healthcare. Technology solutions are able to modernise current medical practices, reduce costs, eliminate any duplication of tests as well as streamline processes and update medical records in real time. Modern technology has great potential to increase access of healthcare services in rural communities, especially the ones where there is serious shortage of doctors. India has demonstrated since long a commitment to offer comprehensive healthcare to all citizens. This has been reaffirmed in the 12th Five-year Plan, National Health Assurance Mission, and more recently through Ayushman Bharat Program. However, the challenges remain and this goal has not been achieved as of yet. There are two critical components of successful healthcare systems. One is the financial aspects whereby citizens are protected against any eventuality and don't get into penury due to health spending. Second is the provision and delivery of healthcare services. It is imperative to ensure that healthcare infrastructure is sufficiently equipped to provide effective healthcare when needed by its citizens. Technology, public-private partnerships, access and affordability are the critical component in the future of India's healthcare. Better healthcare with policy, financial and physical framework will bring long-term benefits to the nation. Develop effective mechanisms to improve general health, and disease prevention strategies through campaigns, advocacy etc. To make India's citizens more aware about their health, inculcate better sanitization and cleanliness habits will help to improve overall health of India. Prevention before cure becomes the key for the country with the size and demographic profile like India. Health aware citizens, trained, sensitive and caring medical staff, cutting edge technologies and modern infrastructure, are the golden elements for a healthy future of India. Read on...

ilmeps/read: Healthcare in India: An Overview (Part 2)
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 dec 2018

India is adopting emerging technologies and its future progress will be defined by their effective utilization. A recent study by Cisco and IDC suggests that globally the net job addition in new technologies will be more than 5.9 million by 2027 out of which 1.4 million will be in India. India is building its capacities in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). Government has special focus on AI, as between mid 2017 and early 2018, the government constituted two AI Task Forces, first under the Ministry of Commerce and the second under the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Information Technology has also set up four committees to encourage research in the field. Niti Aayog has also published the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence. Similarly, efforts have been underway by goverment to promote the development and adoption of IoT since 2016 with the release of a draft policy on IOT by MeitY. Private sector too has made massive investments in IoT. Another technology that India has to focus on is Data Science as it has enormous potential in promoting development and humanitarian efforts. Data Science has the capability to provide effective solutions to problems faced by the developing world. It can significantly make an impact in decision and policy making. India has to understand the advantages of using Data Science to complement policy efforts and exploit its potential accordingly. Read on...

The Economic Times: India cannot afford to ignore Data Science
Author: Deepakshi Rawat


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 oct 2018

Indian corporates that fulfil the conditions of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 relating to mandatory spending of 2% of last 3 years average profit on CSR are making a difference in vulnerable communities in India. According to the latest India CSR Outlook Report published by NGOBOX, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, Wipro, Tata Steel, NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation & ONGC spent more than their prescribed CSR budgets in FY 2017-18. The report analyzed CSR spends of 359 companies. The prescribed CSR budget of these 359 companies was Rs 9543.51 crore whereas the actual CSR spend was Rs 8875.93 crore (3/4th of total CSR spend in India). There is an increase in the prescribed CSR from 6% to 8% in the actual CSR spend from FY 16-17 and the number of projects have also increased by 25% from the previous year. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat together received over 1/4th of India's total CSR fund. North-eastern states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have received least funds; Public sector contribution is over 1/4th of the total; Oil, refinery and petrochemicals account for alsmost 1/4th of the total while healthcare and pharma contributes the least with just Rs 294 crore; CSR funding on education and skill increased by 50% from last year and is 1/3rd of the total CSR spend; Over 1/4th is spend on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and healthcare projects. Read on...

Business Today: Corporates spend 50% CSR funds in education, skill development: Report
Author: Sonal Khetarpal

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