Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
17 May 2012

Nargesh Keisham: A Manipuri Entrepreneur

Imphal, May 17 : Young entrepreneurs in the state are coming up with innovative business models that not only generate employment and revenue, but serve a larger social purpose, like prevention of global warming.

Nargesh Keisham is one such young man. Founder and Chairman of Sui Generis Inc that produces caffeine free Cymbopogon Cytratus tea, he started his venture in 2006 by planting several lemon grass saplings in half an acre of land.

The caffeine free tea is fast gaining popularity in the local market due to its medicinal properties.

Today he employs 50 people and produces 3000 tea packets monthly.

Keisham is optimistic about the growth of his company and has plans to expand his venture too.

' In another 7 to 8 months, we will be in a position to produce 1-lakh packets in a month. Then there will be around 200 or more employees. In the coming 5 years we are going to produce 10 lakh products per month and we will be generating around 5000 employment opportunities,'he said.

Sui Generis Inc. owns large tracts of land and grows Lemon Grass, Patchouli, Sandalwood and Jatropha.

It is also venturing into extraction of oil from Lemongrass that has medicinal usage and is used in perfumes and cosmetics.

In about five years, Nargesh has made it big and is a source of inspiration for the youth.

' My vision in this company is that we can generate a lot of employment for the youth of Manipur so that it will also change the economic scenario of the region,' said T. H. Ranjan, COO of the company.

The workers are happy at Sui Generis and are able to look after their families with the money that they earn.

' I have learnt many things about these products. I am earning well and have enough for my household and enough for my personal expenditure,' said Indu Devi, a worker at the company.

Nargesh was also behind the 'Plant a Million Tree Campaign' in Manipur.

He is now trying to market his products across the country.
10 May 2012

Singapore Seeks To Strengthen Business in Northeast

Guwahati, May 10 : Singapore foreign minister K Shanmughan on Wednesday said his country wanted to strengthen business in the northeast with hospitality and tourism as the major potential areas of cooperation.

"Assam and the northeast are generally not identified as business destinations, but the region has a lot of potential," Shanmugam, who is on a day-long trip here, said while addressing local industry leaders and senior government officials.

"It is heartening to know that the security situation is improving in the region. The region is exciting from the point of view of the hospitality sector and we believe there is opportunity for Singapore business houses to tap the potential of hospitality in this region," he said.

Singapore, one of the founding members of Asean, is also looking at the northeast as a bridge between it and India. "We think Assam and the northeast has potential beyond investment destinations. There is also the issue of connectivity," he said.

"There are plans within the Asean to establish strong connectivity between the north and south and I know that the Indian government is also looking to connect the northeast to some of the Asean countries. These plans have to be taken further," Shanmugam said.

He said another India-Asean car rally, on the lines of the one undertaken in 2004, is being planned. "We are planning another car rally. This time it will culminate in Guwahati," the minister said.
29 April 2012

Shut Down Air India? Who Else Will Fly To Northeast India? in the red, rising airfares and a sick industry - civil aviation minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh may have run into rough weather in his new job, but the pressures of his work sit lightly on him.

He tells Shobha John that though this happened because of too-fast growth, it's a passing phase as aviation is at take-off stage with a growing middle-class demand and great potential in tier 2 and 3 cities.

Airport charges in Delhi have been hiked greatly. What's the use of privatization if passengers are going to be burdened further?

These charges go up over a five-year period. For the last three years, they didn't . So the airport is trying to recover them now and there will be a steep rise. Meanwhile, in less than two years, user development fees will be non-existent.

Air India has been given a Rs 30,000 crore equity infusion. Will it give the much-needed impetus for a turnaround ?

AI's equity and interest rate ratio was skewed. Its interest burden should go down by Rs 1,000 crore a year with this infusion. But don't forget, this is a service industry and the customer is king. AI has to change its culture. It had an excellent reputation but we have to infuse fresh spirit. Of course, the merger of AI and IA created problems. But there will be parity in pay scales between both after implementation of the Dharmadhikari report. And no one will be laid off.

What are your plans for AI's turnaround ?

We have set stringent milestones. We cannot keep pouring public money into AI. With Rs 43,000 crore debt, no one will buy this airline. Its ontime performance has to go up from the present 72% to 90% in two years, passenger load factor should be 73% by 2015 and teams will be appointed for speedy monetization of its assets, be it property or paintings. They will decide whether to lease or sell them.

We hope to generate Rs 5,000 crore in 10 years this way. As regards fleet utilization and yield, by 2013-14 , the difference between AI and the market leader should not be less than 3% and 5% respectively. And while its employee/ plane ratio is considered high, it's similar to airlines in France and the UK.

Also, don't forget the services AI offers --ground handling and engineering MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facilities. With both expected to be hived off, AI can service other airlines too.

But there are calls for AI to be shut down.

We cannot shut it down. If we did, what would happen to connectivity to the north-east ? Who would do the uneconomical routes? People don't realize the consequences of shutting down AI. This is not a free-market enterprise.

Will FDI in aviation take off or flounder like in retail?

I am hopeful. We want other airlines to invest here. The commerce ministry hasn't got any objections in this regard . FDI in retail is different as it affects far more lives than aviation does.

Detractors say FDI is being brought in to favour Kingfisher.

People said the same thing when we allowed import of ATF ( aviation turbine fuel). But which was the first airline to do so? SpiceJet. Policies aren't meant for one airline alone. Already, there is 100% FDI in cargo and 74% in non-scheduled operations. Routes will also be vetted by the home ministry, so where's the problem? We've also given licenses to eight regional airlines.

You said Kingfisher can't be closed down just because it's making losses . But shouldn't tougher action be taken if passengers suffer?
Yes, Kingfisher didn't stick to its promises twice but when the government said it won't bail it out, the airline came around. It needs capital infusion but it's for the owner to decide.

But the real reason for floundering airlines is high ATF prices and sales tax on it. If Chhattisgarh and Kerala can reduce sales tax from 32% to 4%, why can't others?
We have appealed to states but haven't got much response. We will keep at it. States should realize that reduced sales tax will increase business and tourism.

Some foreign carriers want to increase flights to India after exhausting their bilateral rights. Will India ask for similar rights?

We have given the okay for 250 new flights to countries such as Kazakhstan and in a few months, this will go up to 400. Until India exhausts its bilateral rights, we won't give more to foreign airlines. India should have become a major aviation hub by now.
13 April 2012

Maruti Ertiga Launched; Expects Growth in Northeast India

Maruti ErtigaGuwahati, Apr 13 : The country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) is looking at a double-digit sales growth in the north eastern market in 2012-13.

"We expect the car market to grow by at least 10 per cent nationally this fiscal. Similarly, we are also expecting a similar jump in our sales including in the north eastern states," MSI Chief General Manager (Parts & Accessories) Amitava Roy said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the company's multi-purpose vehicle 'Ertiga' here. The company had sold over 36,000 units of its various models in the north eastern states in 2011-12. Its compact car 'Alto' contributed to over 40 per cent of the total sales.

"We are also looking at ramping up our dealership network in the region along with rest of India," Roy said without quoting any figures. MSI currently has 19 retail outlets and 12 e-outlets in the North East.

Roy said MSI expected the Ertega to perform well in Assam and the north eastern region. MSI formally made its foray into the multi-purpose vehicle segment with the launch of Ertiga at an introductory price of up to Rs 8.81 lakh (ex-showroom Guwahati). The car would be available in both petrol and diesel variants.

"This is a family vehicle but for multiple purposes and we are tyring to create a new segment with the Ertiga," Roy said. The Ertiga will be in the same MPV segment as Toyota's 'Innova' and Mahindra & Mahindra's 'Xylo'.
26 March 2012

RBI To Compensate Banks For Loss in Northeast Service

Shillong, Mar 26 : Having prioritised to provide banking service to the people of North-East, Reserve Bank of India had decided to compensate commercial banks for revenue loss in the process, RBI officials said on Friday.

"RBI will compensate 100 percent revenue loss to banks for five years as an incentive to push banking inclusion in the region," Deputy General Manger RBI, T Jamang told PTI here on the sideline of an annual payment conference of RBI here.

The parameters set by RBI was that each village or cluster of nearby villages with a population of 2000 people should have a banking facility by March 2012, he said.

However, relaxation would also be given in certain areas in which the population is more than 1000 and more, Jamang said.

"Our intention is to have villages covered by way of banking correspondent and mobile individuals to sensitise people and have them included in banking services," the RBI official said.

Further, the official said the RBI is working on a strategy to improve e-banking penetration in the region which is aimed at giving people easy access to banking.

"We would like to give people mobile banking facilities in which banking transaction need not take place at the banks but at their fingertips," he said.
27 February 2012

US Keen To Invest in Northeast India

Guwahati, Feb 27 : United States Ambassador Peter Burleigh on Saturday said trade missions from his country will visit the north eastern region soon to explore possibility of investment in key sectors.

"Trade missions of US to India's major cities are going on and we are in the process of expanding it to other areas including the north east," he told reporters here.

"We are learning about increasing business opportunities in the N E region and American companies have shown interest for investments," the envoy, who is on a visit to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, said.

Climate change and renewal of energy were being focussed on by the USA, Burleigh said his country was, however, open to collaboration in almost all major areas of interest. "We are open to exploring virtually any area for investment."

USA was currently participating in a conservation programme at Kaziranga National Park in Assam, he said and expressed satisfaction at the 'amazing' pace of development activities taking place in the state and its congenial atmosphere for investment.
19 January 2012

Bird Flu Fears May Make Eggs Cheaper

By Anindita Dey

Mumbai, Jan 19 : Cautious exports due to bird flu fear in Orissa and Meghalaya may result in softening of egg and poultry product prices in the domestic market.

According to industry sources, India has just started receiving orders from West Asia and Saarc countries after the export ban was lifted a month before. However, orders were suspended after bird flu was confirmed in Orissa and Meghalaya. Both states have now put a quarantine procedure in place and started bird culling.

Some hatcheries have reportedly stopped selling in the north-eastern states as a precautionary measure.

As a fallout, industry sources say domestic prices may soften a bit due to an artificial increase in supply in some parts of India, while demand remains the same. “The first impact is that people just stopped buying eggs and poultry on such news. Besides, egg is a perishable commodity. Even if the shelf value is bit longer due to winters, except for very cold places, many parts of India, especially in central western and southern parts, it needs to be sold fast,” added sources.

However this may bring some relief to retail customers, who have witnessed a sharp surge in egg prices in the last few months. From Rs 2 per egg in the beginning of 2011, prices have doubled to Rs 4. In some places, it is even available at Rs 5-6 per egg. In Chennai, reportedly, prices have already been slashed from Rs 3.20 to Rs 2.95 per egg, due to resistance from buyers.

In December, the National Egg Coordination Committee, besides raising prices, had also raised the prices for layer birds to Rs 43 a kg (Rs 38), while the Broiler Co-ordination Committee’s rate for cull birds is up by Rs 9 a kg to Rs 50. According to egg producers, the sharp increase in prices is attributed to the cold wave in north India and cyclone in the south India, which is a hub for poultry. These two factors have led to a decline in production.

In 2008-09, following the outbreak of bird flu in northeast India, the West Asian countries banned poultry products from India and it led to a fall in egg exports, especially from the Namakkal zone in Tamil Nadu, otherwise dubbed as an export hub for poultry.

Currently, while there is no export ban from India, importers are holding back orders and watching the situation, said an egg exporter from India.

18 January 2012

RBI Extends Banking Facilities To Remote Areas of Northeast

Agartala, Jan 18 : The Reserve Bank of India, recently conducted a financial outreach camp in remote villages of Tripura.

For the people of Bagmara village in Tripura's Dhalai District, banking facilities was just a dream till some years ago, but today, hundreds of them are a part of it, thanks to the financial outreach programme that has been initiated by the RBI.

They villagers are happy, as more than 725 of them got their zero balance accounts and for the first time they will have a passbook.

325 soft loans were also disbursed mainly among the women self help groups of the region.

Apart from Reserve Bank, State Bank, NABARD, United Bank of India and Tripura State Cooperative Bank had also set up stalls.

The main aim behind organizing this camp was to aware and educate people and prevent them from putting their money in the unauthorized non banking financial companies and institutions in hope of hefty returns.

"Education on financial literacy is one of the most important areas that require focus and our officials are working in collaboration with the local bodies. They are very active in educating people on various facilities available to the people from the bank," said S Karuppasamy, Executive Director, Reserve Bank of India.

This was the 18th camp organized by RBI in Northeast since 2009 for enhancing banking facilities.

Through these camps, the central bank has included more than 1000 villages and spread awareness on various banking facilities and security features of currency notes in northeast.

Reserve Bank aims to improve the credit-deposit ratio, increase the agri credit flow and the number of branches would increase to stimulate growth of industry, trade and commerce in region.

"We have received a soft loan of Rs 12,000 at very low interest rate from a bank during this camp. With the money, there will be rise in our income and it would enable us to run our families better and educate our children," said Sima Narang, member, Self Help Group.

"We have received loan from the bank to cultivate mushroom. We hope to make good profits now and also expect similar co-operation from the bank in future," said Ratna, another member of Self Help Group.

These facilities will not just help people keep their money safe but also pave way for the economic development of the region.

Extending banking facility in the northeast is a huge challenge for the banks because of the regions difficult terrain, lower population densities, poor infrastructure and communication facilities and law and order problems.
22 December 2011

Can Northeast Be The Next Driver For Indian Stock Market?

Can North East be the next driver for Indian stock market?

UTI CNBC-TV18's special show Financial Advisors Forum focused on the techniques of increasing investment penetration in a market like Guwahati. There are lots of tools available and most people have a lot of money in savings, but they don’t know whether they want to put that into investment. The discussion highlighted on that idea for the people.

The forum also targeted on various aspects of how to mould a client into becoming an investor. North East is a labour oriented industry with timber and tea exports. The people there don’t plan for retirement and could have a lack of funds post retirement.

A lot of North East youth and children go out to metros to pursue higher education. The programme also focused on how parents fund their education costs. The aspects like how can financial advisors tap a market, penetrate this market and make these savers into investors would also be covered.

The panellist for the discussion included BP Muktieh, chairman and managing director of North Eastern Development Finance Corporation; Naresh Pachisia, managing director of SKP Securities and a certified financial planner; Debashish Mohanty, country head of retail network at UTI and RK Garg, chief general manager of North Eastern circle at SBI.

Here is the edited transcript of their discussion.

Q: How to increase the investment penetration? What should be the roadmap for it?

Mohanty: The investment penetration is very low in this part of the country and whole of the country. Out of 120 crore population, there might be around 1.5 crore unique mutual fund investors. It clearly states the agenda that we need more penetration.

This product is intangible which delivers value at a future point of time, and need a bit of effort to explain and create the need in the minds of investor who doesn't feel the necessity on its own. For this, we need to create more number of advisors, whether it is an individual financial advisor or a banker acting on behalf of its remote branch or a post office or a sub-broker of a distributor.

At present, we have only 40,000 KYD compliant advisors to promote or penetrate in 120 crore population. We should encourage and facilitate anyone coming for more advisors.

We should also create an atmosphere of investment by spreading investor education, which not only required creating the amount the people who can invest, but it can also be started at an early age in school or colleges by inculcating the right curriculum.

Q: What has been your experience? You have seen this market. Do you think that your bank is playing a crucial role in terms of penetrating in this market in terms of financial planning?

Garg: The awareness about investment product is very low here. People mostly back with different banks, put their money in fixed deposits or savings bank accounts and wait for that annual rate of interest.

Therefore, SBI reaches out to different clusters of people spread across the North East, for example, executives of Oil India, ONGC and army establishments as we have nearly 200 thousand army men across seven states.

We organise groups, collect 50 people and send out people to inform them to improve their returns from various types of investments.

Q: What is the key factor needed to penetrate a market like this? What are the challenges that a financial advisor has to go through?

Pachisia: More number of advisors penetrating a very under penetrated market of investors potential investors, who are right now savers but not yet investors, and educating them about the need to think of the financial wellbeing of their family. Then, they create of a good relationship with them and think of this profession on a scalable basis.

Q: The advisors should meet the needs of the customers or harp on those needs. What is the mindset of people here? Most of the youth go out of North East to metros to pursue higher education and the costs are large. Are parents doing enough? Is it a need that financial advisors can look into and everyone needs to be trained on that?

Muktieh: As far as North East is concerned, it is a very potential market and very underserved. The capital market has been largely ignored. There is a need for advisors where people from the region can attend to and they can advise them on how to invest.

As of now, when we look at the region, each of these states have been growing at a very high rate almost at the all India level in the last seven-eight years. People will be turning to the capital markets only when they are confident.

Since there is a lack of knowledge, there is a need to educate them and that’s the role of the financial advisor. For that, they need to be very confident themselves. There is need for the advisors to upgrade and educate themselves. Their confidence will encourage these people to invest in these areas.


Source : CNBC-TV18

21 November 2011

Adidas To Launch USD 1 Shoe in India

Adidas, the German sportswear and equipment maker, is to launch a shoe costing one dollar a pair in India, boss Herbert Hainer said, despite the failure of a similar venture in Bangladesh.

He told the Sunday newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag that unlike in Bangladesh mass production would be possible to supply the growing Indian market.

“The shoe will be sold in villages through a distribution network,” Hainer said, adding, “We want the product to be self-funding.”

Will Adidas' USD one shoe work in India?

He gave no indication of when or where it would be launched.

Adidas had announced plans to sell a one dollar shoe in Bangladesh last year, but Hainer said it had not worked as expected.

“We sold 5,000 pairs during a test phase but we made only losses,” he said. “The shoes cost us three dollars to make and we had to pay USD 3.50 in import duty.”

Earlier this month Adidas said it was raising its full-year earnings targets after a stronger-than-expected third quarter and first nine months.

It was now pencilling in sales growth of close to 12 per cent instead of 10 per cent previously, while earnings per share were projected to rise by nearly 16 per cent.

“Our brands and products are resonating with consumers around the world like never before,” Hainer boasted on November 3.

18 November 2011

Nestle To Set Up Northeast India Unit

By Tejeesh NS Behl, Nov 18 : Swiss dairy major Nestle’s Indian subsidiary, Nestle India, on Thursday said it is actively scouting for locations in the north-east for setting up a manufacturing plant in the region.   The company will initially focus on packaged foods such as noodles and chocolates “We

have been planning to expand our presence in the north-east and intend to set up a manufacturing base there, with a go-to-market readiness of the unit in the next one-and-a-half years,” Antonio Helio Waszyk, chairman and MD, Nestle India, told HT.

The company has shortlisted four sites across two states and the deal is likely to be signed in the next quarter. Waszyk, however, declined to divulge investment details or names of the states where it is scouting for the sites.

Nestle India currently has seven manufacturing facilities across the country (see table). The company’s factory at Tahilwal in Himachal Pradesh is expected to be commissioned next year.

The company’s business model for distribution in the north-east would be different from its existing models elsewhere in the country, said Waszyk, a Brazilian.

“Since sourcing of milk in the region may be difficult, we intend to initially focus on packaged foods such as noodles and chocolates and we may need to depend on our existing suppliers in other parts of the country for sourcing the ingredients,” he said.

The company, which entered the pasteurised and ultra-high temperature (UHT) processed milk segment in 2000, also plans a re-launch of the product in December, in a bid to boost its market share.

The company has registered a 40% growth in rural sales last year. “The five rupee Kitkat, the one rupee ├ęclair and the Chotu Munch are doing extremely well in the rural areas,” said Waszyk.

16 November 2011

SBI Awarded Northeast's Most Preferred Bank

state bank of IndiaGuwahati, Nov 16 : The State Bank of India (SBI) was adjudged as the most preferred bank of North East at the second Northeast Consumer Awards, presented here on Saturday.

Constituted by regional Hindi daily Dainik Purvoday, the awards were based on a survey covering 3,000 households by research agency MaRs across 5 cities of the region.

The category list this year had increased from last year’s 30 to 37 to include airlines, watches, apparels, shoes and even digital cameras.

Besides SBI winning the ‘most preferred bank’ award, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LICI) won the most preferred life insurance company award.

While Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) was adjudged the best company of the year award.

The other winners of the Northeast Consumer Awards were Maruti Suzuki, Hero Honda, Tata Motors, Airtel etc.

The awards were awarded by JB Patnaik, Governor of Assam and Bhubaneshar Kalita, Rajya Sabha MP.

07 November 2011

Tap Indian Neighbours For Profit Punch


New Delhi, Nov 7 : India is finally waking up to the huge benefits it can derive from trade in its immediate neighbourhood.

Bilateral trade with its South Asian neighbours rose more than a third in 2010-11 over the previous year to nearly $16 billion. Trade with Bangladesh alone has almost doubled to more than $4 billion over the same period.

To fuel this growth, India is building a web of ports, highways and railways that will help it to integrate better with the markets of the sub-continent.

Next week, even as the heads of states of the region meet in Male, Indian businessmen have started talking about a trans-subcontinental gas grid, which would carry gas from Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar and Turkmenistan through the region and an electricity grid to distribute electricity generated in India, Bhutan and Nepal to other power-starved parts.

Bangladesh bond

In just one year, India’s two-way trade with Bangladesh has gone up from $2.68 billion to $4.05 billion. If illegal cross-border trades in cattle to Bangladesh and sarees to India are added, the figure can surge to well over $7 billion.

“Good relations and adroit commercial diplomacy by the two sides has helped us along and we hope this will grow with transit and water sharing treaties,” says Tariq Ahmad Karim, Bangladesh’s high commissioner to India.

The sudden jump was a result of an almost 68 per cent increase in Bangladesh’s exports to India over the previous year. India’s exports went up about 43 per cent over last year.

Trade is expected to be even better this year with India deciding to allow duty-free import of 43 lines of garments.

Amit Ladsaria, who runs the Calcutta-based Turtle brand, said, “They are cheaper and have huge high quality garment making capacity. So, we are testing waters. If the dollar rate holds, then we will go ahead and give contract manufacturing orders to Bangladesh units.”

Transit through Bangladesh for northeastern products could, however, be the real game changer.

Many expect Cachar in Assam, which has a history of industrialisation, and Chittagong, which could be the Northeast’s entrep├┤t, to become processing zones for minerals, farm and textile goods, benefiting both India and Bangladesh with the mushrooming of industries in these areas and low cost sale to mainland India and abroad.

A high-level Bangladesh tariff commission has made recommendations to the Sheikh Hasina government on the rates it should charge from Indian businesses for transit through that country. The rates roughly work out to 7 cents a tonne a km for roadways, 3 cents for railways and 2.5 cents for waterways.

Ficci secretary-general Rajiv Kumar says, “It would be a big positive for both countries if the transit treaty comes through. Just the fact that Bangladesh has decided on a rate list is good news.”

The actual deal would of course depend on political will. Sheikh Hasina has hinted that transit can be allowed if India signs treaties for sharing river water flowing from Assam and Bengal to Bangladesh.

For Bangladesh, however, there is another game changer — hooking on to India’s electricity grid. This will give it access to electricity generated not only in India but also in Bhutan and Nepal.

Bangladesh’s unmet electricity demand is estimated at over 1,200MW for 2011 and has resulted in crippling power blackouts for up to 9-10 hours in peak summer.

“We are willing to invest in Indian, Bhutanese and Nepalese thermal power plants,” for a steady supply of power, said Ahmad Karim.

Access to Pakistan

India-Pakistan trade is set to grow to $8 billion in five years with the South Asian neighbours taking steps to boost economic ties.

Trade relations between the two countries, which had gone into a deep slumber, seem to be once again waking up with Islamabad agreeing to grant India the most favoured nation status (MFN) — which means Pakistan will charge the same duties on Indian produce that it does on any signatory to the WTO trade agreement.

CII director-general Chandrajit Banerjee said, “Pakistan’s decision to grant the MFN status can transform the whole trading environment in the region.”

Pakistan still has to work on the fine print and decide which items will be off its list of imports to protect its domestic industry.

Still, New Delhi can hope to gain market access for its pharmaceutical, plastic and industrial chemical producers. Pakistan would get access for its farm products, textiles, cement and surgical instruments.

The power-deficit Islamic nation is also looking to set up transmission infrastructure in a joint ownership to facilitate the wheeling of around 500MW of electricity via Amritsar.

India is keen to export petroleum products and get natural gas through a pipeline from Turkmenistan and Iran. This will not only provide several hundred millions of dollars to Pakistan as transit fee but also spur industrial activity in the region.

Besides, the two nations are looking to ease investment norms, liberalise the visa regime and set up banks.

Analysts said the opportunities for strengthening bilateral trade and investments were huge but mostly untapped.

While Pakistan stands to gain from entering the fast growing Indian market, New Delhi, too, sees the benefit of having access to natural resources and trade routes from Asia to Europe through Pakistan.

Increased trade would also push Pakistan’s about $200-billion economy to grow at a faster pace.

At the time of independence, trade relations were very strong — 70 per cent of Pakistan’s trade were with India and New Delhi exported 63 per cent of its goods to Islamabad. It came to less than one per cent in 2010-11.

The decline in trade relations also got reflected in the economic growth of the two nations, with Pakistan’s economy growing at 2.4 per cent in 2010-11 fiscal, while India expanding 8.5 per cent during the same period.

Concerns that Indian goods could flood Pakistan’s markets and affect their domestic industry were a misnomer. Nisha Taneja, trade analyst with the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, said, “China is the biggest trading partner of Pakistan and New Delhi would have to be competitive to get its market share.”

However, the big boost would come with the preferential trade agreement, which would provide lower duties and spur greater economic activity.

Scope in Afghanistan

India is looking beyond the Silk Route to strengthen economic relations with Afghanistan. The transit trade agreement between Islamabad and Kabul will open the land route for the movement of goods through the Wagah border. New Delhi is likely to ask Islamabad to provide transit facility for its goods.

Apart from the land route, alternative trade channels are being worked out by New Delhi to strengthen economic relations between the two countries. India is looking at developing ports, rail line and roads to boost trade relations after gaining the confidence of the people of Afghanistan by setting up hospitals and other facilities.

India and Afghanistan have reached a pact on strategic and economic co-operation, including the exploration of untapped mineral wealth in the war ravaged nation.

New Delhi plans to construct a 900km railway line that will connect Chabahar port in Iran to the mineral-rich Hajigak region of Afghanistan. This will open up opportunities for Indian companies to explore Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, believed to be worth $1-3 trillion. It will also reduce Kabul’s dependence on Islamabad by gaining access to sea.

US geologists and government officials estimated last year that Afghanistan was sitting on unexploited mineral reserves such as copper, iron ore, lithium, gold and cobalt worth over $1 trillion. Gaining access to the unexplored mineral would boost the Indian economy.

The $7.6-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline is likely to provide natural gas to India and boost industrial development across the pipeline in the neighbouring nations, apart from a transit fee.

“Afghanistan’s economic integration with the Indian economy and South Asia as a whole is in the national interest of the people of Afghanistan, and one of the ways to achieve this is to promote closer trade, investment and transit links,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said.

21 October 2011

Broadband Subscribers In India, By Service Area

By Saptarishi Dutta

In  a time period from August 2010 to April 2011, the total number  of broadband connections in India have shot up by 20.57%. The North East, that includes Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland & Tripura had registered  the maximum growth with 31.42% albeit on a low base. Total number of connections for April 2011 stood at 44,036. On the other hand, Delhi ( including NCR) registered the minimum growth of 4.35% taking its total connection base to 10,05,750.

As on April 2011:

- Maharashtra had the maximum connections with 20,37,796, an increase of 1.06% from March 2011.
- Jammu and Kashmir had 5,3907 connections- the lowest after North East.
- The average growth rate from March 2011 to April 2011 had been 1.24%.
- Andhra Pradesh registered the maximum growth rate of 2.12% with 11,38,688 connections while Karnataka witnessed the minimum growth rate of 0.59% with 12,22,528 connections.

Data Source: TRAI, via RTI

Share data sources with us: contact


Northeast India Emerging As Rubber Hub

A scene from a rubber plantation near Kochi in Kerala. Photo: H. Vibhu.

A scene from a rubber plantation near Kochi in Kerala. Photo: H. Vibhu.

Guwahati, Oct 21 :  The North-East is emerging as the rubber hub of India as experts believe that large-scale cultivation of the crop can bridge the shortfall in supply amid rising demand.

Traditionally, rubber is grown in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but an increase in demand for the crop has resulted in a search for other regions where cultivation can be pursued.

Rubber planting has not expanded to the desired extent in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra and Orissa, where climatic conditions support their growth.

“We believe that now we have to look to the North-East to produce more natural rubber,” Mr K.G. Mohanan, Additional Rubber Production Commissioner of the Rubber Board, said.

A search was launched and it culminated in attempts by the board to grow rubber in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, he said.

“Though the agro-climatic conditions prevailing in some parts of the region are moderately suitable for planting rubber, it has been proven through experimental plantation that under appropriate agro-management practices, the commodity can be grown as an economically viable crop,” Mr Mohanan said.

As per reports, the Soil Conservation Department of Assam planted rubber in the state as early as 1950s and the first commercial planting was done by Tripura’s Forest Department in 1963.

Encouraged by the success of pilot plantations, the Tripura Government had set up Tripura Forest Development Plantation Corporation Ltd (TFDPC) in 1970, while seven years later, the Government launched a pilot scheme for the economic settlement of tribals displaced because of rubber farming.

Mr Mohanan said substantial progress in rubber plantations in the region was achieved during the V11th Plan, when the Centre sanctioned a scheme for Accelerated Rubber Development in the North-East.

Exploratory surveys done by the board in the past indicated that a total of 4,50,000 hectares of land in the region is suitable for rubber plantations.

Another positive aspect is that the region is generally free from the major plant diseases that are prevalent in the traditional belt and soil is sufficiently ‘deep’ and easy to work, he said.

“However, proper care has to be taken in selecting land as water-logging and erosion are a common problem,” he observed.

Rubber planting helps in socio-economic development of the rural people and has proven to be an effective programme for economic settlement of tribals.

Scientifically raised rubber plantations provide a green leguminous ground cover and a green umbrella cover. They purify the atmosphere and improve soil properties, he said.

28 September 2011

India Wants To Double Trade With Myanmar

india Burma trade in MizoramNew Delhi, Sep 28 : Leveraging the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, India wants to double its commerce with Myanmar and diversify the bilateral engagement to agro-research and natural gas exploration.

The India-Myanmar trade, comprising pulses, meat, products, timber and pharmaceuticals, is only USD 1.5 billion at present.

"I propose that we work towards doubling of bilateral trade by 2015. We also need to work towards broad-basing our trade basket," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said while chairing Joint Trade Commission meeting along with Myanmar Commerce Minister U Win Myint here.

Sharma said business community of the two countries should utilise Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme and the ASEAN FTA channels to diversify the bilateral trade.

India has operationalised its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a leading member.

Sharma said construction of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project comprising waterway and roadway by 2013 would transform the trade between India's north-eastern states and the rest of the world.

Being built at USD 120 million, the project envisages a direct trade corridor between Indian ports on the eastern seaboard and Sittwe Port in Myanmar and then through riverine transport and by road to Mizoram.

The two countries have recognized the need to collaborate in building a land customs station at India-Myanmar Border (at Mizoram).

It was noted that the border trade point at Moreh, on Indian side and Tamu, on Myanmar side, is stabilising.

Sharma invited his Myanmar counterpart to inaugurate the second border trade point at Zowkhatar (Mizoram) that will connect to Rhi in Myanmar. The ministers stressed the need for two additional border trade points - Pangsau Pass (in Arunachal Pradesh) and Avangkhung (in Nagaland).

India and Myanmar have also expanded the list of items for border trade from 22 to 40.

Sharma offered India's assistance for capacity building in agricultural research and improving the seed variety in Myanmar.

He said India is keen to participate in the gas sector of Myanmar. Indian companies have shown interest in setting up of gas-based units and invest in LNG infrastructure.

He also pushed for Indian participation in allocation of gas blocks in Myanmar. The Myanmar side showed strong support for the proposal, a Commerce Ministry statement said.

Myanmar is source of one-third of India's imports in pulses and one-fifth in timber.

With the implementation of India-ASEAN FTA and the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme, the two countries can step up the commercial engagement, it was noted at the meeting.

16 September 2011

Northeast Buyers Welcome Bangladeshi Products

By Zahid Al Amin

Millions of fashion-conscious residents of North-Eastern states in India are excited to learn about recent duty-free access facilities accorded to Bangladeshi products, including textile items, which will not be flooding in the North-Eastern markets, as Bangladeshi products are cheaper in price and much superior in quality, comparing to those manufactured in India. Bangladeshi textile products already remain much ahead of the products manufactured in India, because of superior craftsmanship in Bangladeshi factories. Moreover, Bangladesh updates the latest trend and design almost on a daily basis, keeping eyes on the international market. That has possibly placed Bangladesh in the leading position as textile product exporters in the world.

The traders in North-Easter states in India believe that once Bangladeshi goods enter the Indian market, the retail prices of garments there will fall by 20-30 per cent because of the cheap labour and low production cost of goods in Bangladesh. Moreover, transportation cost of Indian textile products to the North-East is much higher than the transportation cost of Bangladeshi products to those markets. In addition to denim items and fashion textiles, Bangladesh will also have a huge market of cotton lungi and Bangladeshi Jamdani saree to this market. Leaders of Bangladeshi textile products are seeing a new scope of exporting textile products worth US$ 2-3 billion in the North-Eastern part of India as well as Nepal and other neighboring countries, under the current trade benefit accorded by the Indian government. Importers and traders in the North-Eastern states in India will also find interest in buying various types of stock lots of textile items from Bangladesh.

In addition to the textile items, Bangladesh will also be able to export its world-class ceramic items to the North-Eastern states in India. Bangladeshi ceramic items are currently exported in a number of Western countries as well as America and the Middle East.

Monno Ceramic Industries began producing porcelain tableware for the Bangladesh home market in 1985, and secured its first export order the following year. Monno soon earned an enviable reputation for both quality and value. The subsequent introduction of bone china to its range of quality dinnerware has only served to strengthen that reputation. As the original exporter of porcelain dinnerware 'Made in Bangladesh' Monno is proud to contribute to the growth of the Bangladesh economy. In a developing country the kudos accorded to exports and the valuable foreign exchange derived is significant. Today in Bangladesh Monno is a household name and regarded as one of the country's premier companies.

Monno offers products in Porcelain, New Bone China, Ivory China, and real Bone China. In fact they source the materials in their bone china body and glaze from Stoke on Trent, to which is added pure water filtered from their own wells. So Monno likes to think of it as 'English' Bone China. Customers include many well known prestigious department stores, speciality and chain stores around the world for whom they manufacture own label products. Some customers have been with Monno for as long as 20 consecutive years and Monno is proud to enjoy a close relationship with them. They work with customers to develop their own shapes or decorations, or can offer designs from their extensive stable. Their talented teams of artists and designers work closely with the experienced technicians of an own in-house decal print unit. That combination of man and machine helps achieve striking results.

Monno's Porcelain & Bone China factories are perhaps unique in being able to offer under one roof the flexibility and versatility of many manufacturing methods as best suit the size or nature of the product. Monno has invested in modern machinery and can boast high pressure casting, ISO Static Pressing, auto cup lines, auto dip glazing, spray drying, and an open firing system. That technology helps them in their never ending pursuit of excellence. Manufacturing capacity is in the order of 2 Million pieces per month.

Monno Products are safe! Tests carried out by CERAM show their products fall well below the thresholds for lead and cadmium release in tableware or cookware coming into contact with foodstuffs as specified under current European regulations. They also meet Australasian and US Federal requirements as well as those specified by California's very tough 'Proposition 65'.

RAK Ceramics is one of the leading ceramic factories in Bangladesh. RAK Ceramics [Bangladesh] Limited, a UAE-Bangladesh joint venture company, was incorporated in Bangladesh on 26 November, 1998 as a private company limited by shares under the Companies Act 1994. The name of the Company was thereafter changed to its name from RAK Ceramics [Bangladesh] Private Limited to RAK Ceramics [Bangladesh] Limited as a public limited company. The company is engaged in manufacturing and marketing of ceramics tiles, bathroom sets and all types of sanitary ware. It started commercial production in November, 2000. The commercial production of new sanitary ware plant started in January, 2004.

The company has over 1,000 different models and shapes of its products and regularly adds newer designs to the product portfolio. RAK's production capacity is 22,000 square meter floor/wall tiles and 3,400 pieces of sanitary ware per day. Products of the company are regularly exported to the Middle Eastern markets. RAK Ceramics [Bangladesh] Limited is an ISO 9001:2008 certified organization.

Shinepukur Ceramics Limited is a member of the Largest Private Sector Conglomerate, BEXIMCO, in Bangladesh with about 30,000 people in the permanent payroll, handling a diversified range of merchandise to and from Bangladesh. The Group's in-house manufacturing interests encompass Seafood, Jute Yarn, Pharmaceuticals, Textiles, Knit, Denim, Garments, Real Estate and Engineering. BEXIMCO is also involved in Media, Computers and the IT Arena's. As part of a meticulously planned expansion program of the Group, BEXIMCO has setup this state-of-the-art Ceramic Tableware Plant, SHINEPUKUR CERAMICS LTD. (SCL) on the outskirts of Dhaka in 1999. SCL is a 100% export oriented unit, equipped with the latest and modern Machinery's and Kiln's from TAKASAGO MINO, and SKK Japan and comprises of two independent units producing high quality Porcelain and Bone China Tableware. The Porcelain unit has a capacity of 60,000 pieces, whilst the capacity of the Bone China unit being 10,000 pieces a day. The Bone China unit has in fact been setup on the basis of the latest technology from NIKKO Japan, coupled with extensive training facilities to our Production team, both locally and internationally.

In addition, SCL is equipped with the top-of-the-testing and Quality Control Laboratory facilities, Decal Plant, Carton-Packaging Plant, Modeling Unit, and has at its disposal its captive gas-based Power Generation capability, and the best effluent discharge mechanisms in place. The Company is also an ISO 9001/2000 certified Company.

Since commencement of the commercial production at the end of 1999, Shinepukur has successfully developed a substantial export market for the top-of-the-line Bone China and Porcelain Tableware and the customer portfolio now includes world-renowned Tableware companies in the UK, USA, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Russia, UAE, Denmark, Germany, France, Mexico, Turkey, and India.

Decal Plant and Design Studio: Decal production started in August 2001. Total Printing Capacity is about 120,000 Sheets per Month, starting from single color upto 8 Colors with Gold/Platinum, both Onglaze [840 degrees Celsius] and Inglaze [1220 degrees Celsius], and completely Lead and Cadmium Free. The Company has set up Designing Studio in the Plant in 2005 and in Italy with Rody Time s.r.l. in 2006.

Packaging Plant: Production in the Packaging Plant started in June 2003. Assorted about 300,000 Pieces White and/or Brown Cartons per month are presently being produced in this facility. In addition, the Company also supplies 4-6 Color Printed Cartons.

Exports from Shinepukur Ceramics comprise about 60% of the National Tableware Export turnover of Bangladesh. As recognition of this contribution, SCL has been awarded National Export Trophy [Gold] in December 2003 for the Financial Year 2000-2001and 2002-2003.

Fu Wang Ceramic Industry Limited is a Taiwan-Bangladesh joint venture company established in 1995 which manufactures various types of floor and wall tiles. In 1998, the company went into Stock market as a Public Limited company. Fu Wang products are already exported to India, Taiwan and Bhutan.

FARR Ceramics Limited manufactures world class ultra white hard Porcelain Tableware with its state-of-the- art production facilities. The entire plant was set up with machinery from Germany, Italy and Japan. The main production process entails transformation of plastic clay into finished product within twelve hours production cycle.

Since FARR Ceramics desires to become the leader in the market of quality tableware producers, the company utilizes only the best quality raw materials, e.g., New Zealand Kaolin [CCP] from New Zealand, Ball Clay from Japan, China Clay from China, Alumina from Japan, Feldspar and Quartz [the top graded only] from India, Zero Leaded Gold and Colors from Germany.

China-Bangla Ceramic Industries Limited [CBC] production lines are equipped with world's most modern machineries from Italy. Under the dynamic leadership of its Chinese promoters and experts CBC is producing a wide range of Wall and Floor, Homogeneous, Decor and Border tiles with innovative designs in different sizes to cater the market demand with affordable and competitive price.

Buyers in the North-Eastern states, especially the traders prefer buying Bangladeshi products because of quicker shipment facilities. It takes only 24 hours for Bangladeshi goods to reach any of the destinations in the North-Eastern states, while transportation cost is also comparatively lower than those imported from other parts of India.

Other Bangladeshi items, which would have demand in the North-Eastern states are: cement, cosmetics, medicines, electrical items, electronic items, paints, biscuits, footware, toiletries, edible oil, vegetable ghee, fruit juice, potato chips, pickles, ketchup, laundry soap, detergent powder, mosquito repellant etc.

22 July 2011

Airtel Call Rates Hiked in 6 Circles

Bharti Airtel

Bharti, the fifth-largest mobile operator globally by subscribers, operates in 19 countries in South Asia and Africa.

New Delhi, Jul 22 : Leading telecom service provider Bharti Airtel on Friday hiked call tariffs by 20% in six major circles including New Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The hike in tariff will be passed on to pre-paid customers as well.

Tariffs have been hiked from 1 paise per second to 1.2 paisa per second. Sources say that other telecom players will follow suit. Bharti Airtel stock price rallied by 4% and was trading at Rs 411 at 2.50pm on the BSE.

Bharti Airtel added 2.12 million mobile subscribers in June, taking its total to 169.2 million, data from Cellular Operators Association of India said.

India is the world's second-biggest mobile-phone market after China. Bharti, the fifth-largest mobile operator globally by subscribers, operates in 19 countries in South Asia and Africa.

Earlier this month, Bharti Airtel announced it was streamlining its India and South Asia operations to create a leaner cost structure in order to boost its financial performance.

The restructuring comes as Bharti battles fierce domestic competition that has slashed call rates and is grappling with high interest costs on debt accumulated to purchase mobile licences in India and to expand into Africa.

Bharti paid $10.7 billion last June for the Africa business of Kuwaiti telecom operator Zain.

Its interest costs have soared due to the African purchase as well as from paying $3.3 billion to buy third-generation (3G) spectrum in India to offer mobile and wireless broadband services.

Oriflame Plans Big For Northeast Market


Guwahati, Jul 22
: Swedish cosmetics major Oriflame today announced that the Northeast market had grown by 50 per cent and that it might source some ingredients for its products from the region.

At a news conference here today, Oriflame India managing director Marcus Sandstrom said, “We might source some of the ingredients for our products from the region like we source vanilla from south India. The region is known for its herbs”.

He said the region held vast potential with its growing fashionable population and Guwahati had emerged as one of the biggest branches in the country. People in the region had a great understanding of beauty and well-being. “From our top 10 branches in India, two are from Guwahati,” he said.

Sandstrom said the Northeast was an integral region for the brand, which had added another stock point in Shillong — making a total of four in the region, the highest in any zone. The region accounts for 20 per cent of the country’s sales.

The company is adding 25 more Service Point Oriflame (SPO) in the region that will help it to reach 100. It currently has 73. Service Point Oriflame looks after those cities where the company does not have a branch.

Oriflame India offers a portfolio of over 650 products for men, women and children in four key categories of colour cosmetics, skincare, personal and hair care, fragrances and accessories. The company started its operations 15 years back.

In the Northeast, fragrances, colour cosmetics and skin care are the top three selling categories.

“We have skin care products for all and not only for the young. There are skin care products even for 55-plus people. Men’s creams is a fast moving segment,” Sandstrom told The Telegraph.

He said the company now had products suited to the Indian market and these were doing quite well.

With the company now doing good business in the region, it is looking forward to starting a corporate social responsibility initiative.

The original business concept of Natural Swedish cosmetics, sold from friend to friend based on trust, still holds true for the company. Its products are now marketed through a sales force of approximately 3.6 million independent consultants around the globe.

Oriflame Cosmetics offers 900 cosmetic products at any given time, more than a third of which are introduced every year. The products, based on natural ingredients, are never tested on animals.

20 July 2011

Free Trade Jitters in Northeast Region

(From left) P.B.M. Basaiawmoit, Kavaljit Singh and U. Nobokishore interact with reporters in Shillong on Tuesday.

Shillong, Jul 20 : An indigenous group from the Northeast today added steam to the dissent against the European Union-India Free Trade Agreement demanding transparency in the talks which have been held under “secrecy” for the last four years.

The EU and India began negotiations in 2007 on a free trade agreement, which could generate a two-way trade annually amounting to $134 billion.

Members of the North East Dialogue Forum, in an interaction with reporters here, said, the region stands to lose if the free trade agreement, which would be a legally binding document, is allowed to materialise.

The forum, with its headquarters in Imphal, has nearly 200 NGOs under its ambit in all the eight states of the region.

“We fear that if the free trade agreement materialises, our mountains will disappear as there would be large-scale mining of minerals; our rivers would diminish as huge dams would be built for power generation; our paddy fields would be converted into lands for sowing cash crops,” forum convener U. Nobokishore claimed.

He said the region is endowed with several minerals, which could attract huge foreign direct investment once the agreement comes into existence.

On agriculture, he said the paddy fields would cease to exist, as cash crops would be sowed to yield greater benefits. “What will happen to the indigenous people once the land becomes exhausted?” Nobokishore asked.

P.B.M. Basaiawmoit, a church leader and member of the forum, said the free trade agreement would facilitate the selling of “Californian oranges” at the cost of locally-grown oranges from Sohra (Cherrapunjee) and Ri War areas of Meghalaya.

“Californian oranges would be sold at a cheaper rate compared to the oranges from Sohra and Ri War areas. Then what will happen to our farmers?” he asked.

Throwing light on the free trade agreement, Kavaljit Singh from the Public Interest Research Centre, New Delhi, said the agreement, which would be a legally binding document, would adversely affect India as it involves a whole range of public issues.

“Although 13 rounds of talks have been held between India and the EU on the agreement, the government has never disclosed the framework of the negotiations,” Singh said.

He also pointed out that the agreement would pave the way for EU enterprises to foray into India’s strategic domains, which include fisheries, textiles, processed food, automobiles and wine.

Singh said ever since UPA I came into power, there has been a strategic shift in India’s economic policies whereby multilateral trade agreements are no longer the order of the day. “Since 2005, the government’s focus has been on bilateral trade. Earlier, the government would sign trade agreements even with poorer countries. But now, the spotlight is on bigger powers.”

“If the free trade agreement with the EU comes through, it would be the biggest ever in the world. But the repercussions on India would be real,” Singh claimed.

Singh said the agreement would also allow European investors to sue the Indian government in a court located in a third country.

He demanded that if not the negotiations, which resumed in New Delhi yesterday and will conclude on Thursday, the public should at least be made aware of the framework of the talks.

“The government should weigh the pros and cons of the agreement before agreeing to it. Look at the costs and benefits of it. It (the government) should also convince the people why the agreement is favourable for India. We also demand that all international trade agreements be ratified by Parliament,” he added.

When pointed out that the agreement could also facilitate greater investments in the region, Singh said, “We have to see whether the investment is good.”


source: Telegraph India