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Assocham: Country’s economy to improve within six months

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Economy of India

New Delhi: According to Assocham Bizcon Survey, the state of country’s economy would improve in the coming six months but investments in the private sector will still be a concern because of under utilisation and pressure on profit margins.

Nearly 63 per cent of the poll respondents felt “the state of the economy would be better in the coming six months”.

However, it found that lack of investment appetite in the private sector in the backdrop of lower capacity utilisation, excess supply and continuous pressure on profitability are the key areas of concern for the next few quarters.

In terms of the domestic investment, 58.3 per cent respondents felt there has been no change in the investment plans at the level of individual firms.

The sentiment seems to remain muted, going forward with 62.5 per cent respondents of the view that January to March 2016 quarter would not see much change in the investment levels.

“Thus, there seems to be a continuing lack of appetite for new investment in the private sector,” the survey noted.

Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat shared the concerns brought out by the respondents in terms of pressure on profitability and lack of investment.

“Global deflationary situation creeping into India in several sectors is hitting investor sentiment. The consumer confidence can return only if there are more job opportunities through higher investment into productive areas of the economy like construction, infrastructure and manufacturing.

“The lead has to be taken by the government which has an onerous task before itself along financial sector regulators like RBI and SEBI to ensure investor confidence in the markets which can then feed the investment climate,” Rawat said.

The respondents seem to be highly optimistic with regards to their firm’s future performance as 70.8 per cent of them feel that they will be in a better position in the coming six months.

As many as 41.7 per cent of respondents felt that there is a decline in the sales volume during October to December 2015 while expecting better sales volume during January to March 2016 and 45.8 per cent expect that their sales volume will increase in future.

In terms of the future capacity utilisation, 66.7 per cent said the industry will be engaged at higher levels.

Besides, 54.2 per cent said there was no change in the cost of credit during October to December 2015.

“This is slightly surprising considering the fact that the monetary authority has reduced the policy rates. The possible explanation to this could be that the benefit of the rate cuts is not being passed onto the industry appropriately,” Assocham said.(IANS)(image: internetblog.urg.uk)

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A welcome step for women empowerment laws, soon to be introduced law will help to prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages: Rakesh Srivastava

Rakesh Srivastava talked about increasing women employment, equal work participation, and gender equality

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A soon to be introduced law will help in women empowerment as it will prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages
A soon to be introduced law will help in women empowerment as it will prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages. Pixabay
  • Efforts are required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment
  • In November the government will honor 100 women achievers
  • Gender Equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment

New Delhi (India), September 7, 2017: Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development said that very soon a law will be finalized which will protect Indian women who are abandoned by their NRI husbands or foreign partners. He said this on 6th September 2107. It will be a praiseworthy step for women empowerment.

Srivastava was present for the inauguration ceremony of 2nd Conference on Women at the workplace- “Role of Leadership”, New Delhi. The Conference was organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Women Empowerment by increasing job opportunities for women

According to ANI report, Rakesh Srivastava said “India has taken a lead role in gender budgeting in the world. Efforts are also required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment in both organized/unorganized sectors, including entrepreneurial development.”

Women Achievers will be honored

Srivastava also informed that in November the government will honor 100 women achievers. The event will be held in Hyderabad and will possibly be attended by The US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. The government decided to honor women achievers will inspire other women to reach great heights of success, this step will foster women empowerment.

Equal Opportunities for Women

He further added that if suitable strategies and also laws which help in women empowerment are implemented- it will ensure equal opportunities for women to enter as well as enjoy decent work in a healthy work environment. This will also include fair and equal wages, health measures, social security measures and occupational safety.

Also Read: Misery of the outcast wives in India by their NRI husbands

Knowledge about Gender Equality will increase Women Empowerment

He cited that gender equality is critical for the development of any country. Srivastava said that by removing barriers which prevent women from having the same access to economic opportunities, education, and productive inputs as men will lead to productivity gains. It is a crucial step to be taken in today’s globalized and competitive world.

Srivastava said, “India has been ranked 87 out of 144 countries on the latest World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2016, but in the economic sphere, much work remains to be done as India ranks 136 in this pillar out of 144 countries.” He added that gender equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment.

Workforce Participation Rate in Men v/s Women

“In 2011, the workforce participation rate at all India level is 25.51% for women as compared to 53.26% for men. While there is no urban-rural gap for males (53%), there is a considerable rural-urban gap for females, when workforce participation rate for rural women is 30% it is only 15.4% for urban women,” Srivastava said, mentions ANI report.

Also Read: In Netherlands, PM Narendra Modi pitches for Women Empowerment in India

Women Empowerment by building women’s Hostels for widows and women in distress

Rakesh Srivastava, the secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Development also shared that the government is working on women’s hostels that can also be utilized by the widows and women in distress in India.

Srivastava said “Women form an integral part of the Indian workforce. They need to be equal partners in the society for them to be equal participants in work. Women have to contend with discriminatory laws, institutions and attitudes that restrict their leadership and full participation in public life.” He added that what prevents women from becoming effective leaders is unequal access to resources.

October 15 will be observed as ‘Women Farmer’s Day’ all thanks to Krishna Raj, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. This move by a minister, noticing rural women’s contribution in farming paves way for women empowerment of rural women.

Krishna Raj said, “Women can make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.”


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Scientists report Groundwater replenishment in West and South India

An international team of researchers, including experts from IIT-Kharagpur and  NASA, has observed groundwater storage replenishment in certain Indian regions

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Scientists noted Groundwater replenished
Scientists noted Groundwater replenished. Pixabay
  • The implementation of ingenious groundwater management strategies in both Indian public and private sectors
  • Long-term ground-based measurements and decadal-scale  satellite-based groundwater storage measurements
  • The Indian groundwater withdrawal and management policies for sustainable water utilization

August 12, 2017: An international team of researchers, including experts from IIT-Kharagpur and NASA, has reported discernible groundwater storage replenishment in certain Indian regions, in a new study, attributing it to changes in strategy in the public and private sectors.

Published in the Nature Scientific Reports in August, the study says this groundwater storage (GWS) rejuvenation may possibly be attributed “to the implementation of ingenious groundwater management strategies in both Indian public sector and private sector”.

A research team from IIT-Kharagpur in collaboration with NASA American scientists has observed regional-scale water replenishment through long-term (1996-2014, using more than 19,000 observation locations) ground-based measurements and decadal-scale (2003-2014) satellite-based groundwater storage measurements, in large parts of India.

While the northern and eastern parts of India are still undergoing acute usable groundwater depletion and stress, encouraging, replenishing such scenarios are detected in western India and southern India under proper water resource management practices, the study notes.

“Our study shows that the recent paradigm shift in the Indian groundwater withdrawal and management policies for sustainable water utilization, probably have started replenishing the aquifers by increasing storage in western and southern parts of India,” said research leader Abhijit Mukherjee from IIT-Kharagpur on Friday.

The team used numerical analyses and simulation results of management and policy change effect on groundwater storage changes in western and southern India for this study.Mukherjee drew attention to the recent changes in Indian central/state government policies on its withdrawal and stress on management strategies.

Strategies such as restriction of subsidized electricity for irrigation, separate electricity distribution for agricultural purposes (e.g. Jyotigram Yojana), construction of large-scale, regional enhanced recharge systems in water-stressed crystalline aquifers (Tapti river mega recharge project), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, enhanced recharge by interlinking of river catchments (e.g. Narmada-Sabarmati interlinking), will probably start replenishing the aquifers by increasing groundwater storage in near future.

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Chief of Hydrological Sciences Laboratory Matthew Rodell at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, helped in interpreting the NASA satellite (GRACE) data (2003-2014) of the above-mentioned water source storage changes in India for this study.

The co-authors are — Yoshihide Wada affiliated to International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria; Siddhartha Chattopadhyay of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur; Isabella Velicogna and Kishore Pangaluru from the University of California, the USA; James S. Famiglietti of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the US.

“We conclude that in India, where huge groundwater consumption is widely known to be leading to severe dwindling of groundwater resource in recent times, previously unreported, discernible GWS replenishment can also be observed in certain Indian regions,” said lead author Soumendra Bhanja affiliated to Hydroscience and Policy Advisory Group, Department of Geology and Geophysics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, as well as to Hydrological Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. (IANS)

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Economy, Culture and Human bonds most important Ties that bind Saudi Arabians and Indians together

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Egypt, Pixabay

May 2, 2017: Economy, culture and human bonds are the most important ties that bind Saudi Arabians and Indians together. Our association is one of the fondest and one of the oldest in the world, going back all the way to the third millennium BC. There had been ancient peaceful contacts and interactions between the two peoples, including immigrations from both sides.

India has for many centuries welcomed Arabs, who have come here to settle, study or for trading. Over the years that I have proudly served as Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of India, I have come across so many stories of the deep human bonds that exist between the peoples of Saudi Arabia and India. I have heard stories of Arabs who came decades ago to Gujarat, Bombay (now, Mumbai), Delhi and Hyderabad for learning, trade and work. No wonder the name of India, “al-Hind”, is very common in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. Several Indian goods that entered the Arab world were named after their place of origin. Indian swords, a favourite in the Arab world, were known by names such as Hindi, Hindawani and Muhannad.

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Evidently, Saudi Arabia and India have a shared history of culture and of people’s ties. As recently as the beginning of this century, there were approximately 1.5 million Indians working and living in Saudi Arabia. That number has now risen to over three million people. Doctors, engineers, IT professionals, workers, academicians, scientists and chemists are all part of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia, working hard to establish themselves in almost all economic sectors, given the plethora of opportunities. We look at them as partners. Ravi Pillai is a good example that comes to my mind. Mr. Pillai moved to Saudi Arabia in the late 70s, and since then, he has established himself as one of the most successful businessmen across the region — in construction, hospitality, education and retail. His businesses today employ more than 70,000 people.

Consider this as an example: A billionaire industrialist who owns multiple hospitals in the region, a visionary doctor, a multi-millionaire in retail business, a successful investment banker, all have one thing in common — they all are Indians who have established their fortunes in Saudi Arabia and the region.

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Success stories around Indians are not an exception in Saudi Arabia. They are highly regarded for their educational and technical achievements; for their integrity and sense of discipline; for their honesty and devotion to work. The contribution of Indians in economic development has been acknowledged by our government and we have made significant efforts to make them feel at home. Employees of large companies have access to state-of-the-art housing facilities and their children have access to schools with a board of education of their choice. For instance, the Indian board of education of CBSE following NCERT curriculum is taught in many schools across the country. Be it education or housing, jobs or lifestyle choices, there is access for everyone — natives or expatriates.

We have worked diligently to ensure that the guests of the Kingdom have an accessible redressal system to protect them from any violations. When it comes to the rights of workers, all contracts that each of them gets into with their employers are detailed out addressing every aspect of their work life. Saudi labour law provides to all expatriates full legal protection, which includes a unified labour contract, and provisions that prohibit employing persons in jobs different from the profession stated in the contract or holding their payments. Article 61 of the labour law requires the employer to “treat his workers with due respect and refrain from any action or utterances that may infringe upon their dignity and religion”.

It also lays down guidelines of giving workers the time required to exercise their rights without any deductions from their wages. Further, Article 101 lays down provisions for rest periods wherein “no worker shall work for more than five consecutive hours without a break of no less than thirty minutes each time during the total working hours for rest, prayer and meals”.

In fact, we always aim to ensure best practice. For instance, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced on April 23, 2017, that they will open bank accounts for domestic workers in the country. This has been done to ensure that all domestic workers get their wages and entitlements on time and that employers honour their contracts. Job security will also improve through this move, as employers will have to register their contracts electronically.

We also have one of the most progressive corporate policies around employees serving their notice period. In such situations, these employees are entitled to eight fully-paid hours per week or a full day per week to look for alternative employment.

I will re-emphasise that there are provisions and guidelines for any employee in any sector to seek legal redressal in case of dispute or violation of their labour rights. Violators in Saudi Arabia are penalised and punished for violating labour laws.

The Kingdom also has a very strong law prohibiting the trafficking of humans. In 2009, Royal Decree number M/40 dated 21/7/1430H declared that any person who was convicted would be liable to face imprisonment and pay a huge fine. The law was further strengthened last year ahead of the anti-human trafficking day (August 9), reinforcing the commitment of our government against this injustice. The Ministry of Interior also issued an order regarding human trafficking, emphasising the need and the importance for everyone to come and work together, to prevent it.

“Treat people as you would like to be treated” is an Islamic principle. You have a similar saying in the Indian text of Hitopadesha which states that, “one should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated”. This principle, and the bond of friendship have been brought to life many times. One such instance that immediately comes to mind is that of an Indian guest worker in Saudi Arabia, who was jailed for two months after getting into an altercation with his colleague in a third country. His parents sought help from his Saudi-based employer, who readily made all arrangements to get him out of prison, including physically travelling from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi to secure his release. This is just one of the many examples of friendship and goodwill that exist between the people of the two countries.

A bilateral agreement on labour cooperation for recruitment of General Category Workers was signed during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in April 2016. The two countries are constantly working together to improve the situation of workers. An agreement on Labour Cooperation for Domestic Service Workers Recruitment was signed between Saudi Arabia and India in 2014. Additionally, in 2014, the two governments signed a bilateral agreement that allows prisoners to spend their sentenced term in their home country if they wish.

Also, a Joint Working Group on consular issues was established under the umbrella of the India-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission to discuss consular issues on a regular basis.

Recently, while going through news clippings from across the Kingdom, one particular news item caught my attention — a Saudi Arabian employer threw a wedding reception for her help and even paid for her honeymoon. Stories like this are not rare in our country and employers across Saudi Arabia recognise and appreciate the hard work and dedication of those that work for them.

There is always a significant reward for hard work and perseverance, and that is true for most of our Indian guests who have come to Saudi Arabia and have embraced us as their own, collaborating with us in our journey of growth and development.

(Saud M. Al-Sati is Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to India. The views expressed are personal)

(IANS)