Tuesday December 12, 2017
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Modi, Merkel seek to bolster bilateral ties

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NewsGram Staff Writer

Bengaluru: With Indian and German companies signing five agreements and automotive giant Bosch announcing Rs.650 crore investments in India on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel aimed at providing a new direction to bilateral ties by strengthening economic and business links.

Modi exhorted German industry to invest and ‘Make in India’ for a growing domestic market and huge export markets the world over, while Merkel exuded great confidence that ties would see a quantum leap.

Flagging the opportunities, ranging from building 50 million houses to setting up 100 smart cities, Modi said German investors and companies could also explore modernisation of the vast state-run railway network and stations to setting up of new railway corridors.

“Generation of 175 giga-watt of renewable energy to construction of transmission and distribution networks, national highways, bridges, and metro rails are among the investment opportunities beckoning the robust German industry,”  Modi said.

Digital India, Skill India and Startup campaigns were showcased to the high profile business delegation accompanying Merkel, who began a three-day official visit Sunday night.

Indian and German companies signed five agreements on smart mobile urban solutions, Software Defined Radios, development of solar projects, skills development in electrical semi conductors and collaboration in machine tools on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Bosch Ltd announced that Rs.650 crore would be invested in India for developing its innovation network when Modi and Merkel visited its establishment here.

At the Indo-German summit themed “Digitizing Tomorrow Together”, Modi assured global investors on the ease of doing business in India and addressed taxation concerns which many of them have.

Modi assured India would not resort to retrospective taxation, noting it had not levied minimum alternative tax (MAT) on foreign portfolio investors and deferred implementing the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) by two more years.

He said they were hopeful of rolling out the Goods and Services Tax Bill from April 2016, and also announced a new bankruptcy code to hasten the pace of liquidation in stress cases.

“We are working on a new bankruptcy code and a company law tribunal will be set up to improve ease of doing business in India with a transparent and predictable tax regime,” Modi said

Stressing that the government had no business to be in business, he said the country was committed to protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) of all innovators and entrepreneurs.

In her address at the summit, Merkel said here country is interested in partnering with India in skill development, railways, infrastructure, energy, mobility and training.

“India needs highly skilled jobs and Germany needs highly skilled labour. In the framework of Skill India we need business links, science links and political links” she said.

Terming India as the silicon valley of Asia, she said 170 German companies are operating in Bengaluru and nearly 1,600 companies all over India, some of which are older than 100 years.

Merkel also highlighted that Indo-German bilateral trade reached up to 60 billion Euros and with a business volume of 10 billion Euros through German companies in India, Germany has become an important investor.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Facebook Introduces Digital Training and Start-up hubs in India to Promote Digital Economy

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Facebook launched digital training in India
Facebook launched digital training in India.Pixaby.

New Delhi, Nov 23: Facebook on Wednesday introduced its digital training and start-up training hubs in India aimed at helping small businesses and people grow by giving them the digital skills they need to compete in today’s digital economy.

Facebook said it plans to train more than half a million people in the country by 2020 through these online training hubs, which are being rolled out first in India.

The learning curriculum which is personalised to the individual’s needs and available in English and Hindi on mobile, the social network, which is used by 217 million people in India, announced.

“We believe the best way to prepare India for a digital economy is by equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to succeed,” said Ritesh Mehta, Head of Programmes, Facebook, India and South Asia.

To develop the learning curriculum, the social network worked with several organisations, including Digital Vidya, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), DharmaLife and the government’s StartupIndia initiative.

The curriculum includes vital skills for digital skill seekers and tech entrepreneurs, including how to protect their ideas, how to hire, how to go about getting funding, what regulations and legal hurdles they need to consider, how to build an online reputation, and a host of other critical skills.

This could mean teaching a small business owner how to create an online presence; helping a non-profit reach new communities and potential donors; or it could mean helping a tech entrepreneur turn their product idea into a startup through practical business advice.

Facebook said its digital training hub would provide free social and content marketing training for anyone – from students to business owners – who is looking to develop their digital knowledge and skills.

According to new research by Morning Consult in partnership with Facebook, small businesses use of digital translates into new jobs and opportunities for communities across the country.

Since 2011 Facebook has invested more than $1 billion to support small businesses globally.

The “Boost Your Business” and “SheMeansBusiness” initiatives have trained more than 60,000 small businesses, including 12,000 women entrepreneurs, in India, Facebook said. (IANS)

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Will India be able to travel in the Bullet Train Soon? Yes, Say Railway Officials; Indian Railways Target Completing the Project Before the August 2022 Deadline

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14

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Bullet Train
Railway Board Chairman held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, and Niti Aayog Vice Chairman. (representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : Unfazed by opposition criticism, Indian Railways is working overtime to push ahead with the much-talked about the “Bullet Train” project, aiming to complete it ahead of the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, who has a reputation of a turnaround man, has taken up the task of monitoring and chairing the periodic review meetings of the project that is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore ($15 billion).

Lohani held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Central government officials, Principal Secretary-rank officials of Gujarat and Maharashtra, officials of NHSRCL (National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited), officials of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the General Manager of Western Railway.

A senior railway board member, requesting anonymity, told IANS, “The railways is in no mood to delay the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project. Lohani will now hold a review meeting once every three months… And even on weekly basis, if required.”

Emphasising on the government’s intention, the official said, “The attendance of the Niti Aayog Vice Chairman, the Japanese Ambassador and the CRB in the review meeting is a clear signal that the government is taking the project seriously and there is no scope for any delay.”

“The CRB wants Indian Railway officials to take lessons from their Japanese counterparts about meeting deadlines,” he said.

The opposition has attacked the government for taking up a project at a huge cost instead of focusing on safety, a dire need of the time, and on schemes to improve passenger amenities.

The official said it was also decided at the meeting that “a road map for consultancy and civil engineering works will be prepared by January 2018”.

A ministry official associated with the Bullet Train project said a report on the signalling system and electrical reports would be ready by April 2018. According to him, the tracks and most of the signalling system would be brought from Japan.

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14.

Of the Rs 1.08 lakh crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent for 50 years. And the repayment will begin only after 15 years.

The railway official said that to encourage the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme, “an appeal will be made to Indian and Japanese companies to make use the opportunity to work together”.

Meanwhile, the officials of the government of Maharashtra and Gujarat assured the railways of their help in land acquisition and smooth shifting of raw materials to construction venues.

A three-level monitoring committee was also constituted, including the Vice Chairman of Niti Ayog and Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister.

A working group led by Managing Director of NHSRCL Achal Khare and consisting of representatives of the ministries concerned, and the representative of JICA, has been formed. Besides the two committees, a technical expert committee led by the Managing Director of NHSRCL has also been formed.

Of the 508 km stretch, 92 per cent (468 km) of the route will be elevated, six per cent (27 km) will be in tunnels and the remaining two per cent (13 km) will be on the ground .

The high-speed train would also pass through the country’s longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under the sea.

Twelve stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.

The distance will be covered in two hours and seven minutes if the train stops at four stations — Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai. If the train stops at all 12 stations, it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

According to Railway Ministry officials, the operating speed of the bullet train would be 320 kmph and the maximum speed would be 350 kmph.

 

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Anand K. Singh and was first published by IANS. Anand can be contacted at can be contacted at anand.s@ians.in)

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With 100% FDI, Narendra Modi calls Food Sector a Priority in Make in India Programme

Modi said India with its rich legacy of spices could provide solutions and offer a win-win partnership as the world was becoming increasingly averse to the use of artificial colours, chemicals and preservatives.

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Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 3, 2017 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the food sector that allows 100 per cent foreign investment was the priority in the government’s ambitious Make In India programme.

Launching a three-day global conference on the food industry here, Modi said food processing was an age old practice in India and simple, home-based techniques like fermentation had resulted in the creation of our famous pickles, papads, chutneys and murabbas that now excite both the elite and the masses across the world.

He said the government had taken a range of transformational initiatives to make the country most preferred investment destination in this sector.

It is priority sector in our ‘Make in India’ programme. 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment is now permitted for trading including through e-commerce of food products manufactured or produced in India, Modi told the World Food India conference that will see the participation of over 2,000 delegates from 200 companies from some 30 countries.

Apart from representatives of 28 states, it will also see participation of 18 ministerial and business delegations, nearly 50 global CEOs along with heads of all leading domestic food processing companies.

Modi said a single-window facilitation cell provided hand-holding for foreign investors and there were attractive fiscal incentives from the Union and state governments.

Loans to food and agro-based processing units and cold chains are classified under priority sector lending, making them easier and cheaper to obtain, the Prime Minister said.

Modi said the recently launched unique portal – Nivesh Bandhu (investor’s friend) – would bring together information on central and state government policies and incentives provided for the food processing sector.

He said private sector participation had increased in many segments of the value chain but sought more investment in contract farming, raw material sourcing and creating agri linkages.

There were opportunities in post-harvest management such as primary processing and storage, preservation infrastructure, cold chain and refrigerated transportation, the Prime Minister asserted.

There is immense potential for food processing and value addition, especially in niche areas such as organic and fortified foods.

Modi said India with its rich legacy of spices could provide solutions and offer a win-win partnership as the world was becoming increasingly averse to the use of artificial colours, chemicals and preservatives.

Modi said the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana aimed at creating world class food processing infrastructure was expected to leverage investment of $5 billion, benefit two million farmers and generate more than half a million jobs over the next three years.

Narendra Modi said the government was planning to link agro-processing clusters with production centres through Mega Food Parks, which will offer immense value proposition in crops such as potato, pineapple, oranges and apples.

Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal in her address said agreements worth $10 billion were expected to be signed during the three-day global event.

Our demand of food is set to double over the next five years. Being six largest food and grocery market in the world, India is a destination that merits global attention in the food sector.

She said there was a need to wage war on food waste to ensure adequate food for all and to avoid a food crisis as the world’s population was set to increase by 25 per cent and the demand for food by 50 per cent by 2050. (IANS)