Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
12 November 2014

Accenture building mobile governance platform for Arunachal Pradesh

The contract, worth $70,000, also requires Accenture to develop a web-based portal for the health, police, tourism, disaster management, agriculture, land management, social welfare and employment departments. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Hyderabad, Nov 12 : Consulting and outsourcing company Accenture Plc is building mobile platforms and a website for 21 government services of the Arunachal Pradesh government.

Called Arunachal m-Seva, the mobile government system, when completed, will give citizens access to government services ranging from safety and health alerts to employment services and pension benefits, Accenture said in a statement on Monday.

The services of eight state departments will be available on marketplaces such as Google Inc’s Play, Mirosoft Corp’s Windows Phone Store, Apple Inc’s iPhone App Store and Nokia Oyj’s Nokia Store.

Emergency, safety and health alerts will also be shared by text messages (SMS). The contract, worth $70,000, also requires Accenture to develop a web-based portal for the health, police, tourism, disaster management, agriculture, land management, social welfare and employment departments.

“The new mobile government system will provide increased opportunities to help us meet the needs of our citizens in new ways,” Er. Gaken Ete, secretary of Arunachal Pradesh’s information technology department said in the statement.

Arunachal Pradesh, India’s most far-flung state in the north east, has a population of 1.3 million with 66.95% literacy rate.

Its official language is English. The north east, a long-neglected region, has recently seen a spurt in tourism and hydro-electric power projects.

“Arunachal m-Seva is an exciting move toward a more citizen-centered government for the state,” G. Sethuraman, managing director of Accenture’s health and public service business in India said.

15 September 2014

Toyota looks to enhance operations in India's North East

Toyota looks to enhance operations in India's North East
Guwahati: Japanese car giant Toyota plans to increase operations in India's North Eastern region, where its sales have grown at double the national average of 3 percent annually.

The company, which is present in India through a joint venture with Kirloskar group, is looking to set up an area office in the North East considering its rising importance.

"The North East market is currently growing by 6 percent in our representative segment against a national growth of 3 percent. It is expected that in the second half of the year, the North East market will show much healthier growth," Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Senior Vice President and Director (Sales and Marketing) N Raja said.

The North East market contributes 20 percent of the total eastern market, therefore making it very significant region for TKM, he added.

Last month, TKM sold 11,215 units in India, down 6.6 percent as compared to 12,007 units in August 2013.

With rising sales in the eight states of the North East, the auto maker plans to strengthen presence in the region.

"We do intend to establish an Area Office in Guwahati at the right time in future," Raja said without giving any timeline for having the establishment.

Currently, the entire North East market is being addressed out of the East Regional Office in Kolkata.

The company, however, has exclusive sales, service and customer relation personnel in the region.
When asked if the company planned to invest in the region for building capacity or other activities, Raja said: "...We will study the market and decide accordingly."

Talking about sales, Raja said petrol variants of TKM models contribute to around 45 percent of sales on an average, while diesel ones contribute to about 55 percent.

"Innova, Etios, Liva, Cross and Fortuner have seen very good response in the North East region. We also have seen growing demand for premium vehicles like Camry and Land Cruiser," he added.

Comparatively a new entrant in the region, TKM is selling approximately 150 cars per month in North East with Assam contributing the highest at an average of 110 units a month.

Talking about future roadmap, Raja said: "We are in the process of establishing and stabilising our network in North East. The customers are now getting the touch and feel of world-class quality of Toyota vehicles and at the same time, the exposure to international sales and service infrastructure."

TKM has six dealerships in the region at Guwahati, Nagaon, Silchar and Dibrugarh in Assam, Dimapur in Nagaland, and Shillong in Meghalaya.
11 June 2014

This Startup Wants to Turn Your Old Electronics Into Solid Gold

By Issie Lapowsky  

Image: BlueOak
Image: BlueOak
Sometimes, numbers say it all.

About 50 million tons of electronic waste were generated worldwide in 2012, according to a United Nations report. The same report predicted that number would grow to 65.4 million tons of e-waste by 2017. To put that in context, that’s about 200 Empire State Buildings or, for the more worldly, 11 Great Pyramids of Giza.

While some of that waste—from old televisions to smartphones—is refurbished and recycled, a troubling amount of it is shipped to landfills around the world, where often it’s incinerated, leaching toxic chemicals into the environment. In Guiyu, China, a now infamous dumping ground for electronics, studies have found startlingly high levels of lead in children’s bloodstreams.

But Priv Bradoo believes she can change things with the promise of gold and silver
Sometimes, no amount of sick kids and loaded landfills can convince the world to change its dangerous behavior. But Priv Bradoo believes she can change things with the promise of gold and silver. Bradoo is the co-founder and CEO of BlueOak Resources, a Burlingame, California-based startup that wants to help the country mine precious metals from its stream of e-scraps. The hope is that we’ll soon see our e-waste as a source of revenue, instead of letting it tumble into landfills.

As it turns out, a lot of the world’s e-waste is stuffed with valuable metals like gold, silver, and copper. One ton of circuit boards has anywhere from 40 to 800 times the amount of gold in it than one ton of mined gold ore, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In other words, the mining industry spends a fortune extracting these metals from the ground. Corporations spend even more buying the materials and molding them into a highly concentrated form. Then, after all that, we dump them by the ton back into the ground like so many chewed up wads of gum.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” Bradoo says. And that’s why she and her co-founder, Bryce Goodman, started BlueOak to focus on what they call “above the ground recovery” of high-value materials. Yes, there’s already a booming recycling and refurbishing industry worldwide, and in places like Europe, Asia, and Canada, there are already large-scale smelters who can extract these precious materials from e-scrap. But Bradoo says there’s a gap in the system. Many of these smelters only deal in mass quantities of scrap, she explains, meaning some smaller collectors can’t even send their scrap abroad. Those who can, Bradoo says, are effectively sending potential profits overseas. So, on Tuesday, BlueOak is breaking ground on the first urban e-waste mining refinery in the United States.

Turning Trash Into Treasure

Bradoo is not new to the waste recovery industry. Before launching BlueOak, she was vice president of business development for LanzaTech, a startup that turns toxic waste gasses from factories into high-value fuel. She was working as a faculty adviser at Singularity University, an educational organization for socially conscious tech entrepreneurs, when she met Goodman, who was a student at Singularity. They bonded over a shared interest in the concept of “upcycling,” or converting waste into value, and in 2011, they launched BlueOak.

Image: Bryce Goodman and Priv Bradoo
Image: Bryce Goodman and Priv Bradoo
By building a refinery in the United States, BlueOak is launching a new industry here, one that Bradoo hopes will encourage more American consumers and corporations to think twice about tossing their used electronics out with the trash. The first refinery in Osceola, Arkansas is set to be completed by next year and will start off processing 15 million lbs of scrap per year and grow from there. BlueOak will partner with collectors who gather used electronics primarily from corporations. Those collectors separate the plastics and other materials from the waste, and send BlueOak the parts that contain high value metals. The company charges these collectors an upfront processing fee.

Then, after the precious metals are extracted and sold, it returns the majority of the profits to the collectors. This model has attracted investor interest from the likes of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, which participated in BlueOak’s seed round in 2011. More recently, the company raised another $35 million from the Arkansas Teachers’ Retirement Fund and the Arkansas Development Finance Authority to build the Osceola facility. “I liked the fact that it’s an acute problem, and it has exponential growth potential to it,” says Amol Deshpande, a partner at Kleiner Perkins. “All these devices and their obsolescence creates an issue around waste toxicity that needs to be addressed, and it can’t be addressed with landfills.”

‘A Wicked Problem’

Still, some experts argue that BlueOak, and indeed the rest of the e-waste industry, may be overstating their potential for impact. According to Josh Lepawsky, who has studied the e-waste problem as associate professor of geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the vast majority of waste in the world actually comes from manufacturing and production. Used materials, he estimates, make up about 3 percent of the waste in the world. Used electronics are just a fraction of that.

“It’s not that I don’t think what they’re doing might be positive,” he says of BlueOak’s work, “but it’s going to be directed at that roughly 3 percent of all waste and within that, an even smaller slice. And yes, that slice is growing very quickly, but it’s still a thin slice.” A better approach for BlueOak, he says, would be to collect the waste that’s coming out of the manufacturing process, itself. “Anything that moves material and energy recovery up the value chain prior to purchase is going to have a much more substantial impact,” he says.

It’s an intractable issue, and Bradoo admits that what BlueOak is doing is only part of the solution.
Still, Lepawsky argues that to truly solve what he calls a “wicked problem” like e-waste, there would need to be a massive reduction in the volume of gadgets and devices that are currently being produced. “We all know the waste hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle,” he says. “It’s incredibly telling that almost all of our focus is spent on recycling and nothing on reduction.”

Bradoo, for one, agrees that the glut of new products in the market is the real culprit. Tech companies are under tremendous pressure from Wall Street to roll out the “next big thing” every few months, and as a result, the lifespan of the “last big thing” gets shorter by the day. It’s an intractable issue, and Bradoo admits that what BlueOak is doing is only part of the solution. “As long as you’ve got the companies developing these devices and consumer behavior that propagates the proliferation of devices, you’re going to see an exponential rise in electronic waste,” she says. “We need to be thinking about how we want technology to impact the world, not just in our utilitarian use, but at the end of life, too.”
09 June 2014

NRL May Export Fuel To Myanmar

By Surajit Khaund

Guwahati, Jun 9 :  Taking advantage of the ‘Look East Policy’, the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) is now exploring opportunities to export its products to Myanmar and is understood to have initiated a process to ink a deal with the neighbouring country.

“We have already started a discussion with the Ambassador of Myanmar to India and he is positive in this regard. But the discussion is now at an initial stage,” P Padmanabhan, Managing Director (MD) of NRL, said while sharing his future plan with this correspondent here today.

He, however, admitted that the deal would take some time to materialise. According to a study, the demand for oil products in Myanmar is expected to reach 60,000 barrels per day, and, therefore, major oil companies are now targeting the Myanmar market to fuel their growth.

Asked whether the deal would be possible given the current law-and-order situation along the international border, especially in the Moreh area, Padmanabhan replied in the affirmative, saying the Indian Petroleum Ministry is optimistic about the deal.

After signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with ASEAN, Myanmar has now become a strategic business point for India, and during the last couple of years, the Indian Government has extended soft loans to Myanmar in the energy and IT sectors. “We have a mega expansion plan from the current level of 3 million metric tonne per annum (MMTPA) to 9 million metric tonne per annum (MMTPA).

So, we will be able to export our products to Myanmar and Bangladesh,” the MD of NRL said, adding that NRL has already signed an agreement with the Nepal-based Birat Petroleum Pvt Ltd (BPPL) for sale of motor spirit (MS) and high speed diesel (HSD).
05 February 2014

The twin down South

Vim recently released a campaign featuring a Mizoram-based family with 160 members. The campaign comprises two identical films featuring different brand ambassadors - one famous in the North and the other in the South. A look at the geography-sensitive, dual-celeb route, something other brands have also taken of late.

Vim, dishwashing brand from HUL, recently launched two 30 seconders. The Hindi ad features Sakshi Tanwar, TV actress of Hindi GEC fame and the Tamil ad features Devayani, film actress down South. What caught our attention is that both ads are identical, except for the celebrity and of course, the language.
Vim Hindi TVC featuring Sakshi Tanwar
Vim Tamil TVC featuring Devayani
Santoor TVC featuring Saif Ali Khan
Santoor TVC featuring Mahesh Babu
Oreo TVC featuring Ranbir Kapoor
Oreo TVC featuring Karthik Sivakumar
R Sridhar
Mahuya Chaturvedi
Few weeks back, Santoor, soap brand from Wipro, did the same with Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan and Telugu actor Mahesh Babu. Not long before that Mondelēz International's Cadbury India, launched a couple of ad films for its cookie brand Oreo; Ranbir Kapoor featured in the national campaign and Tamil actor Karthik Sivakumar (aka Karthi) featured in the TVC that was aired across Tamil Nadu and Kerala-specific media. Just like in the case of Vim, in these cases too, both ads were identical on all fronts - script, overall treatment, creative execution, costumes and actors' expressions.

Pan-India Ideas?

R Sridhar, founder, brand-comm, a brand consultancy, says that while brands have historically been launching separate campaigns for the South market, the point to be noted here is that today, the national and South campaigns are identical. This, he notes, is possible only if the core theme is very broad. "While Coca-Cola has been endorsed by Aamir Khan nationally and by superstar Vijay in the South, the scripts of the ads featuring each were completely different. The trend we see today is that the themes brands are selecting for their campaigns are very generic and inherently pan-India." Oreo's brother-sister play or Vim's utensil cleaning challenge are not ideas that are intrinsically rooted in a particular geography. "Brands seem to be coming up with 'general' ideas such as these," Sridhar says.
This also solves the problem of translating the script at a later date. Often in translation, the essence of the original script gets lost. But as is seen in this trend, the two scripts are thought of right at the inception stage itself and are then executed simultaneously; not as an after-thought that goes, 'Now let's translate and dub this Hindi ad into Tamil.' "In the future, I do see more ads with such general themes, that is, themes good enough to hold nationally," predicts Sridhar.

The "cultural contexts" in the North and South, as Mahuya Chaturvedi, managing partner, Cogito Consulting (independent consulting division of the Draftfcb Ulka Group) points out, are believed to be opposite. The flamboyance and high decibel entertainment of the North is in direct contrast to the disciplinarian and information-hungry stance of the South. "Likewise, in advertising," she says, "while the South would like to know 'what benefit?', 'why?', and details about ingredients, the North enjoys the narrative, the humour and the music."

"Which is why, when marketers hit upon an emotional hotspot, like women's quest for eternal youth (read: Santoor), the transferability across borders is more effortless," she says, about the trend.
Chaturvedi shares an example of a brand that, in the past, has created entirely different campaigns for the North and South markets: Tetra Pak conveyed its 'protection proposition' to its Northern audience by using the black tika (dot) on a new born baby, while in the South the same end was achieved by demonstrating the actual stamina and energy of a kid. While the current trend of creating identical ads with different celebrities is a sustained admission that the two markets are indeed different, it is also a time-effective way out, from an effort-and-execution perspective.

She points out yet another trend: The use of 'South characters' and 'South lingo' in pan-India campaigns. For instance, Idea Cellular showed a South Indian dad playing Holi with kids in an ad film not too long back and Mahindra's ad for the Duro featured Kareena Kapoor - a star with far less appeal in the South than the North - liberally using 'Romba Nalla' as the catch phrase all through the Tamil commercial. "These ads caught a chuckle because of the surprise value," Chaturvedi says. Some experts attribute this ancillary trend to "media overlap" between the South and other markets.
According to experts, the 'dual-celeb, identical ad' trend is here to stay. Chaturvedi alerts us to a study by Millward Brown, a research agency, which suggests that only one in seven ads travels well across the country and has similar likeability/enjoyment scores; in all, 1,000 ads were studied. Maybe the dual-celeb route was born out of such findings. Come to think of it, the only endorsers left with national appeal are perhaps cricketers. So would a Dhoni have appeal in Chennai? Yes. But whether it is because cricket surpasses state boundaries or because he is captain of Chennai Super Kings is anyone's guess.

Vim Story
The Vim commercials feature the world's largest family (160 members) that resides in Mizoram. The ads are shot in and around their home.

Joshua Thomas, creative director at Lowe Lintas & Partners India, stumbled upon information about this family, while working on a Vim brief. The agency then went ahead and presented a campaign idea, centered on this family, to the brand team. "Vim communication is always set in a 'challenge' context. This family seemed like a perfect fit for a 'torture test' brief. The brief came first and the idea of using the family came later," informs the HUL company spokesperson.

In a sense, the campaign takes the brand out of the kitchen and onto a larger canvas. Will going back to the previous 'kitchen imagery' be a challenge for the brand in the days ahead? "When you view the advertisements, you will notice that the brand is still shown in and around the kitchen. It is just the context and story that take place in a larger setting. Dirty utensils exist everywhere and this was just one way of conveying the brand's message. So in that sense, we don't really see any problem for subsequent campaigns," says the spokesperson.

The shoot took around four days to complete, although a dialogue with the family was initiated a few months back. A lot of the shots in the films are candid shots of the family members going about their daily routine. Understandably, both logistics and language were challenges the agency was faced with. The family speaks Mizo and the services of an interpreter were availed for this campaign.

Interestingly, the extreme North and North Eastern parts of India don't get featured much mainstream ad campaigns, unless of course, the effort is to show that the product/service is available in every nook and corner of India - like in the case of the recent Tata Sky commercial, shot in Leh Ladakh, in the Northern most state of J&K; "India ke kisi bhi koney se..." went the voice-over artist.

While integration was not an agenda - ("This advertisement was made with the sole aim of communicating the brand's message and hence should be viewed through that lens only," goes the HUL spokesperson) - it may well be a welcome byproduct of the Vim campaign.

The media agency is Mindshare and the production house is All in the Family. The ads have been directed by Vishal Gehani.

11 December 2013

Myanmar Starts Biggest SEZ Project

Yangon, Dec 11 : Myanmar began implementing the first phase of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project, the country's largest SEZ of its kind of international standard, on the outskirts of Yangon.

The first phase of the project covers 400 hectares out of the overall 2,400 hectares.

The Thilawa SEZ is jointly developed by Myanmar and Japan. Two Myanmar companies and two Japanese companies have established a joint venture under the name of Myanmar-Japan Thilawa Development Co Ltd in Tokyo to operate the project, reported Xinhua.

The company's share ratio is 51 percent by Myanmar and 49 percent by Japan.

The project includes factories, high-tech industry, textile, labor intensive industry and manufacturing industry.
20 November 2013

NE Business Summit to address development issues of region

The Union Ministry of Development of North East Region (DoNER), along with the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), has organized the ‘North-East Business Summit’ in Dibrugarh, Assam from November 22-24.

This will be the ninth edition of the summit, which is the largest trade and investment conference-cum-exposition on India’s North-East Region (NER). 

This is the first time that the event is being held in the interiors of the region, in Dibrugarh in Upper Assam, making it an ideal forum to address grassroots-level developmental issues, an official press release said.

Two Chief Ministers from the neighbouring country of Myanmar - U Thar Aye of Sagaing Region and U Ye Myint, Chief Minister of Mandalay Region - will attend the inaugural session of the summit.

This visit is extremely important, given that Myanmar is India’s true Gateway to the ASEAN markets, and that it has opened up its economy to Asia and the world, the release said.

The Ministry of DoNER is responsible for matters relating to the planning, execution and monitoring of development schemes and projects in the North Eastern Region. Its vision is to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development of the region so that it may enjoy growth parity with the rest of the country.

One of the prime objectives of the Ministry is to showcase the inherent economic, social and cultural strengths of the North East Region as well as to mainstream the region with the country.

The ICC has been assigned by the Ministry of DoNER to organize this summit as the nodal chamber for the North-East.

The Ministry of DoNER, over the years, has strived to showcase the economic potential of the NER to domestic and international investors through meaningful, and strategic initiatives with the help of ICC.

So far, the Ministry of DoNER has organized eight North East Business summit in various part of the country.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce has also organized mega trade and investment shows on the North-East abroad, particularly in South and South-East Asian countries having potential to be natural trade partners of the North-East region because of its strategic location and proximity to these countries.

More than 500 delegates from across the country, and also from neighbouring countries are expected to attend the event, which will be chaired by Union Minister of DoNER Paban Singh Ghatowar.

Union Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers of North-Eastern States, policy-makers, industrialists, economists and analysts are also expected to attend the summit.
04 October 2013

Mother Dairy Enters Northeast, Launches ice Creams in Guwahati

Guwahati, Oct 4 : Mother Dairy entered the North East on Thursday with the launch of its ice creams in Guwahati and plans to expand its reach to over 1,000 outlets within one year.

"North East has big potential as none of the existing players has tried to expand the categories here. We are here not only to capture market share, but expand the segment," said Subhashis Basu, business head of the dairy products division at Mother Dairy Fruit and Vegetable Pvt Ltd.

To start its journey in this region, the company has launched ice creams and frozen vegetables in Guwahati.

Talking about Mother Dairy's sales plans, Mr Basu said, "We want to tap all the potential. Our target is to reach to 1,000 retail outlets within next one year, besides 300 street vendors."

Mr Basu also said that the company aimed to sell 15-20 lakh litres of ice creams every year in Guwahati.

He said the products will be sourced from its facilities in Kolkata and Delhi. The company has already set up two cold storage units here.

The New Delhi-based firm, a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Dairy Development Board, was commissioned in 1974.
20 September 2013

The Price Of Beer At Oktoberfest Completely Defies Economic Logic

By Roberto A. Ferdman
Beer is what economists call an elastic good; the more it costs, the less of it people buy. But at Oktoberfest, Germany’s debaucherous annual beer festival in Munich, the rule doesn’t exactly hold. In fact, it gets flipped on its head.

When this year’s beer festival kicks off on Saturday, more than 7 million beer drinkers will gather to drink some 15 million liter glasses. If they are sober enough, they will notice that their lagers, ales and stouts cost more than they did last year. As is the case almost every year, the price of beer at the Oktoberfest has risen faster than inflation, according to UniCredit Research’s Oktoberfest 2013 report. The average beer at this year’s festival will cost €9.66 ($13)—3.6% more than it did last year.

Considering that inflation in Germany is currently hovering somewhere closer to 1.5%, festival goers should be outraged. And yet, like they have virtually every year before this, they will buy and drink more beer per head than they did the year before. Beer consumption per capita at the annual beer festival (the red line in the chart below) has been rising steadily since the mid 1990s.

UniCredit Research
And it isn’t as though beer prices on the whole in Germany are outpacing inflation. Bottled beer prices have been rising at a much slower pace than Oktoberfest beer prices.

UniCredit Research
Normally, beer buyers shy away from this kind of price-hike craziness. “On average, a 1% increase in the price of beer triggers a roughly .3% decline in the demand,” according the report. But Oktoberfest, it appears, is anything but average. Dating all the way back to 1980, a 1% increase in beer prices at the event has, rather incredibly, corresponded with a 0.3% increase in demand. Oktoberfest beer, the report explains, falls into the category of what economists call a Giffen paradox, whereby the demand for and price of a good increase simultaneously.

The festival as a whole follows a similarly peculiar pattern of behavior. Oktoberfest-goers have continued to spend more per capita, despite hikes in the price of, well, everything. UniCredit’s Wiesn Visitor Price Index (WVPI), which tracks the cost of visiting the event by accounting for public transportation, beer and food prices, has increased by 4% every year since the bank began to track it in 1985.

UniCredit Research
As with so many other festivals, Oktoberfest has become something very different to what it once was. When originally conceived back in 1810, it was held to celebrate the marriage of Bavaria’s Crown Prince. Over 200 years later, it has become something of a beer-drinker’s mecca, and economic wonder. Without a detailed understanding of the costs involved in hosting the event—and, really, whether they have been rising quickly as the festival’s beer prices have—it’s probably safest to say that until beer-drinkers stop celebrating the price hikes, Oktoberfest is going to keep pouring them on. (The organizers of Oktoberfest didn’t respond to a request for comment.)
13 September 2013

Arunachal Pradesh Beats Karnataka in Investment

By Asha Rai
Bangalore, Sep 13 : Karnataka is a classic case of a state supposedly set on a trajectory of fast growth finding itself decelerating. In this sense, it mirrors India's growth story where projections for sustained, long-term growth have been abruptly reversed.

According to RBI data for the fiscal 2012-13 , Karnataka was placed a miserable 12th in terms of attracting investments, slipping from its second position the year before and fourth in 2010-11 . Last year, Karnataka managed to attract just 20 projects and accounted for just 1.5% of the envisaged cost of projects for which institutional assistance was sanctioned in 2012-13 against 12% the earlier year.

It's galling that a small state like Arunachal Pradesh, more in the news for Chinese incursions than for industrial enterprise, is two ranks ahead of Karnataka in the investment sweepstakes. Worse, neighbouring Andhra Pradesh - which is being split into two, and which has been racked by violent protests - has consistently stayed in the top 5.

Andhra Pradesh has managed to remain at the top in terms of attracting investment in the past four years, whereas Karnataka has slipped in and out of the list.

The reasons for Karnataka's fall from grace as a favoured investment destination and a showcase for modern India are not far to seek. Policy paralysis and political instability the state has witnessed in recent times are coming home to roost.

In particular, the past two years have been bad as the state has had no administration to speak of. With the BJP government trying to hang on to power at any cost amid ballooning corruption scandals, a jailed chief minister and a breakdown in civic services, there was no interest in governance. With politicians engaged in survival, the bureaucracy went into slumber, resulting in the current pathetic scenario.

It looks like the second rank in 2011-12 was courtesy the empty hype of the Global Investors' Meet of 2010. As TOI reported earlier, it transpires that less than 5% of the total Rs 4 lakh crore investment was actually implemented. The story of the second edition of GIM (in 2012) is worse: less than 0.5% has been implemented.

Doing business in Karnataka is getting increasingly difficult, says industry. Single-window clearance, in reality, means approaching more than a dozen agencies; it takes 4-6 months to get a company started; and land acquisition is well nigh impossible. The South Korean giant Posco pulled out its $6-billion steel investment due to a gridlock over land acquisition.

"It's becoming practically impossible to do public-private partnership projects honestly at scale. There have been dishonest ones at scale and honest ones that are popcorn stands. But the grid box of honesty at scale is missing," says Manish Sabharwal, chairman, TeamLease Services, a temp-staffing company.

The government's failure to be an enabler is another issue. Says civic analyst Ashwin Mahesh: "In the past, we used to focus on enabling investments by the state - in science and technology, infrastructure, policies -and left it to others to develop the society and economy using these inputs. In recent years, this has changed. Now, the state itself wants to be the developer of the economy, or leading politicians in the state government want to do it themselves. This is mired in illogic and conflict of interest."

It's not a stretch to link this lack of enablement with the massive scams our politicians have found themselves mired in recently.

All of which means that the country's seventh largest economy is less attractive than those of its less-fancied neighbours. Instead of spurting ahead, Karnataka will first have to pull itself out of the hole that it has dug for itself.
03 September 2013

EXIM Bank To Focus On Horticulture And Handloom Sector, Northeast India

EXIM bank to focus on horticulture and handloom sector, Northeast IndiaEXIM bank to focus on horticulture and handloom sector, Northeast India

Guwahati, Sep 3 : Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM) will aggressively promote the horticulture and hand loom sector of the eight states of Northeast India.

TCA Ranganathan, Chairman & Managing Director of EXIM bank who in Guwahati on Monday to attend a programme on promoting horticulture sector in the Northeast region said, "Northeast India has the advantage of going for high end horticulture and handloom products."

He added that there is some problem somewhere as these sectors are not developing in the desired level. "We have roped in companies including ITC, Godrej Agrovet and Emami Group to figure out as why the sector is not developing to the desired level."

He said that the bank will work for improving the distribution- marketing and positioning of the horticulture products. "Across the world there is going craze for organic agriculture produce and ethically branded textile. The region can take advantage of both this aspects to position itself."

Ranganathan said, "We will draw a road map for sustainable production while also identifying avenues to create markets and linkages for farmers and entrepreneurs from the region."

India is the second largest producer of both fruits and vegetables globally after China accounting for 14 percent and 12 percent respectively of world production. However India's share in global export of horticulture products is low.

According to EXIM bank, India's export of horticulture products is US$2.7 billion (1.3 percent of global exports) as compared to china's export of US$ 18 billion (9 percent of global exports).
29 August 2013

Decline in Citrus Orchards in Northeast India

Nagpur, Aug 29 : Despite a sharp rise in area and production of citrus in northeastern hill (NEH) region in seven years (2005-12), there has been huge decline in citrus orchards in this region due to climate change and weather vagaries. The NEH region includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

The area under various citrus crops has increased from 71.8 thousand hectares (TH) in 2005-06 to 139.86 TH and the average production in region in the same period increased from 289.1 thousand tons (TT) to 737.08 TT. Yet there has been little increase in productivity during these years as the productivity increased from 4 tons per hectare (t/h) to 5.27t/h.

"Northeast is the primary source of citrus biodiversity in the country. Yet due to climate change the productivity levels are the country's lowest here. Climate change and natures vagaries have led to a severe decline in citrus orchards in region. There is a strong need to conserve all the 23 species of region," said SV Ngachan, scientist, NEH Indian Council of Agricultural Research at Umiam in Meghalaya.

He was in the city recently for the National Citrus Meet hosted by the National Research Centre for Citrus. Ngachan said that research was needed especially to protect and improve the Khasi mandarin of the region.

Talking about constraints and strategies, Ngachan pointed out that acidic soil, high humidity, and climate change are environmental constraints. But non-availability of quality planting material, farmer's mindset which does not allow them to use pesticides and adopting modern technology has added to the decline in productivity.

Production of elite disease-free planting material, development of new citrus-based integrated farming systems, sequential replanting of senile orchards through participatory approach and rejuvenation of dying orchards could prove to be good for the region.

In addition, Ngachan said that setting up processing units with pre-planned marketing strategies and proper extension can reverse the scene.
28 August 2013

Rupee Sinks to 68 Against Dollar

Market mayhem continues, rupee breaches 67 against dollar The partially convertible rupee was trading at a record low of 67.40/45 per dollar.

Mumbai, Aug 28
: Continuing its free-fall, the rupee on Wednesday breached the 68-mark against the dollar on strong demand for the US currency amid rising concerns over fiscal burden after the passage of the food bill.

The rupee also dragged the BSE sensex down by over 400 points in early trade, following persistent selling by funds.

The sensex was trading at 17,539.28 points at 10.25am.

Stocks of banking, oil and gas, PSUs, realty, FMCG, auto and capital goods sectors were major losers, dragging down the benchmark sensex.

Brokers said sustained selling by funds and other participants triggered by sliding rupee which breached 68 to a dollar and a weakening trend on the other Asian bourses, tracking overnight losses on the US market as the West stepped up preparations for a military strike on Syria, mainly dampened the trading sentiment here.

The wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty was also down almost 100 points.
At the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market, the local currency opened lower at 67.06 a dollar from its previous close of 66.24 and breached 67-mark to trade at a fresh low of 67.42, down by 118 paise, or almost 1.8 per cent.

It later breached the 68 mark.

Forex dealers said besides strong month-end demand for the American currency from importers, concerns related to subsidy burden after the passage of Food Security Bill and capital outflows mainly weighed on the domestic currency.

Further, rising crude prices in the global market also put pressure on the rupee, they said.

The rupee had recorded a steep fall of 194 paise, or 3.02 per cent to close at record low of 66.24 against the dollar in the previous session.
26 August 2013

What Is Money?

One of our favorite questions from readers for Economics in Plain English was deceptively simple: What, after all, is money? And what sets it apart from something that's simply valuable? A big abstract idea like this called for a hands-on experiment.
In this episode, business editor Derek Thompson pays a visit to a branch of EagleBank in Arlington, VA, to bother the world's friendliest bank teller with a series of dumb requests. As goofy as it seems, this little experiment is a helpful way to illustrate three essential functions of money: a store of value, a unit of account, and a medium of exchange. But you'll have to watch to see why.

What Is Money? from Atlantic Video on Vimeo.

Watch more from Economics in Plain English:
24 August 2013

Will Taka, Rupee Be At Par Soon?

New Delhi, Aug 24 : The Bangladesh Taka has been gradually appreciating against the Indian Rupee over the past year and if the trend continues, both the currencies will become equal in value, according to foreign exchange traders.

The Bangladesh Taka, which was more than Tk 1.70 against a Rupee in early 2012, continued to appreciate against the Indian currency since then and on Thursday, it came to Tk 1.19 a Rupee to register some 30 per cent appreciation in Mumbai inter-bank trade, foreign exchange dealers said in Dhaka on Friday.

However, the depreciation of Indian currency has boosted exports of Indian goods to Bangladesh, which depends greatly on India for imports of most of its essentials including cotton and commodities worth $4.5 billion, they said.

Bangladesh exports goods including the recently allowed garments to India worth nearly $600 million a year. However, the depreciation of Rupee against US dollar and also against Taka is likely to hurt exports of Bangladesh to India.

This depreciation of Rupee will widen the existing huge trade deficit further for Bangladesh, Bangladesh exporters said.

The partially-convertible Rupee slumped by 2.21 per cent to hit a new record low of Rs 65.56 against a dollar at the inter-bank foreign exchange market, surpassing its previous record low of 64.11 on Wednesday, said Indo Asian News Agency (IANS).

On the other hand, a US dollar that cost around Tk 80 in 2012 was available at Tk 77.70 on an average in inter-bank trade on Thursday.

The BB intervened whenever there was excess supply of dollars in the market to prevent Taka from further appreciating.

The BB purchased a record US$ 4.539 billion from the commercial banks directly in the just concluded fiscal year (FY), 2012-13, to keep the inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market stable, officials said Thursday.

The depreciation of Rupee has slowed Indian imports of fish and other edibles from Bangladesh, as importers in India do not find trading on Bangladeshi goods viable in their domestic retail markets especially in northeast states of India. Most of these Indian states depend on imports of some essentials from Bangladesh.

The US dollar is used as the international currency for the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India.

Despite a temporary export ban on certain items including fish and vegetables imposed during Muslim fasting month Ramadan, withdrawn on August 10, many Indian importers are yet to resume imports from Bangladesh.

Volume of trade between northeast Indian state of Tripura and Bangladesh fell by 85 per cent in July last due to the escalating exchange rate of the US dollar, which remains almost unchanged against Taka in inter-bank foreign exchange trade.

In fact, suspension of international trade at Akhaura for over a month has severely affected fish supply to the state of Tripura and the resultant shortage has led to escalation of fish prices from Rs 300 to Rs 1,200 per kg in all city markets, a report from Agartala (capaital of Tripura) published in the Times of India newspaper on Monday last said.

Tripura can only cater to 40 per cent of the state's total fish requirement and the remaining 60 per cent comes to the state from West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Bangladesh, it said.

Meanwhile, as of the last week the Bangladesh currency is likely to be appreciated further against Rupee and remain steady against US dollar at its forex reserves have reached a record $ 16 billion, spurred by a double-digit growth in exports and low food imports, foreign exchange dealers said.

A slump in food imports following high agricultural output, improvement in payment system and a double-digit export growth have all contributed to robust forex reserve, they said.

Bangladesh received a record $14.46 billion in remittance in the fiscal year (FY) 2012-13 which was 12.6 per cent higher than the previous FY. The export income in the 2012-13 fiscal was $27.02 billion, 11.18 per cent higher than the year before, the BB data said.
21 August 2013

Auto Makers Maruti, Honda, GM Turn Towards Northeast, Eye 50% Jump in Sales

Guwahati, Aug 21 : With country's auto sector going through tough phase, the industry is looking towards the North Eastern market that promises good opportunity with major manufacturers expecting growth of up to 50 per cent in sales.

Major auto makers Maruti Suzuki, Honda Cars, General Motors India and Toyota Kirloskar Motor are planning to expand their reach in the region that has largely been untapped. "The North Eastern market is very fertile. I think, the future of this region is very bright.

Opportunities are there for auto makers," Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) Deputy Director General Sugato Sen told PTI.

The rate of owning a car in India is 18 units per 1,000 people and it is even lower in North East (NE), he added.

Expecting a huge growth in the market, the wholly-owned Indian subsidiary of Japanese car major Honda is increasing its focus in the eight states of the region and plans to expand its base aggressively in the coming months.

"The North East market is increasingly gaining significance for Honda as this market has a lot of sales potential for hatchbacks and compact sedans. We are hoping more than 50 per cent jump in our sales in the region," Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) Senior Vice President (Marketing and Sales) Jnaneswar Sen said.

Considering the current industry growth, which is negative since last several months, the NE region is still expected to post a double digit growth, he added.

Sen further said the growth in the NE will be huge due to the fact that the automobile players are increasingly focusing on this market and it currently has a smaller base.

Talking about the company's dealership expansion plans in the region, he said: "In next 18 months, we will be expanding our presence in the entire North East and will have new facilities coming up in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.

"The company, which opened its first dealership in this region at Guwahati in 2008, is currently present in Guwahati and Dibrugarh in Assam, and Gangtok in Sikkim.

The country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India is also expanding its presence in rural and remote parts of NE as it expects "rapid growth" in the region in the next 3-4 years.

"North East market has always been very important for Maruti Suzuki. We believe that there is a huge opportunity in rural areas of North East, besides the major cities," Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Chief Operating Officer (Marketing and Sales) Mayank Pareek said.

Currently, this region contributes around 4 per cent to the total domestic sales of MSI and it is "significant considering the socio-geographical nature of the region", he added.
15 August 2013

America’s Most Profitable company per employee makes your phone work—and it’s not Apple

You’d be forgiven for not recognizing the name InterDigital, despite the fact that it has been around since 1972 and developed many of the technologies that are critical to our increasingly mobile, wireless world. As a result, per employee, InterDigital is the most profitable company in the US, with a net income of $937,255 per worker, according to Bloomberg’s just-released visual compendium of data. And the only thing InterDigital produces is designs for new technology—and the occasional lawsuit.

But whatever you do, don’t call InterDigital a patent troll—CEO William Merritt hates that term. And it’s admittedly not a fair label for InterDigital, in contrast to firms that merely buy up patents in order to then sue other people over them. Like ARM, the Cambridge, UK-based company that designs the chips that are in practically every mobile device on the planet, InterDigital does not manufacture anything itself. Yet the company employs more than 200 engineers who have collectively helped InterDigital amass a trove of patents that could be worth billions. InterDigital also creates working prototypes of all of its technologies, in order to demonstrate them to industry partners like Alcatel-Lucent, who later incorporate them into their products.

InterDigital isn’t shy about both licensing the technology it develops and selling it outright. In 2012, InterDigital sold 1,700 patents to Intel for $375 million, which led InterDigital’s stock to surge 27% in a single day as the markets speculated that the rest of the company’s patent portfolio might be equally valuable. In 2011, the company’s stock shot up 70% when its leaders announced the company would be for sale, and rumors circulated that Apple and Google would bid on it, in an attempt to lock up InterDigital’s intellectual property. (InterDigital’s attempt to sell itself ended in January 2012, when the company opted to license its IP instead.)

Using that patent portfolio in court cases appears to be as important to InterDigital as licensing its technology to mobile companies—you might call it the carrot (develop new wireless standards and technology) and stick (sue anyone who violates your intellectual property) approach to innovation. Presently, InterDigital is suing Nokia, Huawei and ZTE for violation of its patents, seeking a ban on import of their products. However, the company’s case may have weakened, and its stock has declined, after another patent case—this one by Samsung against Apple—came to naught when president Barack Obama vetoed an import ban on older Apple products.

InterDigital’s job pages reflect the company’s dual nature. They include openings for both hardware engineers and patent managers. While the company has yet to sell itself, its per-employee revenue suggests that the only thing more profitable than either inventing or suing is doing both at the same time.
06 August 2013

Maruti Suzuki to Expand Dealer Network in Remote Parts of Northeast

Guwahati, Aug 6 : Country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki today said it will expand its presence in rural and remote parts of North East as it expects "rapid growth" in this region over the next 3-4 years.

The company, which first opened its outlet in North East 30 years ago at a time of rolling out its first car in the country, currently sells an average of 3,000 vehicles every month in the region. "North East market has always been very important for Maruti Suzuki...We believe that there is huge opportunity in rural areas of North East states, besides the major cities," Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Chief Operating Officer (Marketing and Sales) Mayank Pareek told PTI.

Currently, this region contributes around 4 per cent to the total domestic volume of MSI and it is "significant considering the socio-geographical nature of the region", he added.

Asked about growth expectations from the region, Pareek said: "We are very confident that this share will only rise in coming years as North East offers vast potential. The region is expected to grow rapidly over the next 3-4 years. However, putting a number to that will not be prudent."

The company had sold a total of 10.5 lakh vehicles in the domestic market in 2012-13. Out of that, around 40,000 units were contributed by the North Eastern states, translating to a sales revenue of approximately Rs 1,200 crore.

Among all the North Eastern states, Assam contributes the highest in terms volume with a share of almost 60 per cent in the total sales of MSI from the region.

"However, as road and other infrastructure develops, going forward we expect the share of other states to increase. The awareness about advantages of a dependable personal vehicle will surely bring more opportunity for us," Pareek said.

To increase sales, the company is expanding its dealership and service network across the region that is geographically challenging.

"We are planning to expand all across North East region. However, our primary focus would be to expand our reach in rural areas of the region. We want to be present to customers in far flung areas of the entire North East.

"North East region has always found special focus in company strategy for reach, volumes and customer service. Maruti Suzuki products have always found deep trust among customers in North East. Based on the potential, we have progressively increased our sales and service network in the region," Pareek said.

At present, MSI network has 39 dealer showrooms and 52 workshops in the region. The first showroom came up in the region 30 years back in 1983, when the then Maruti Udyog Ltd had begun making and selling cars in India.
15 July 2013

Honda expects over 50 per cent jump in sales in Northeast

Honda Honda Cars India is expecting over 50 per cent jump in its sales in the North East region during 2013-14 even as the total four-wheeler market in the country is going through sharp decline in the recent months.

The wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese car major Honda is increasing its focus in the eight states of the region and plans to expand its base aggressively in the coming months to tap the potential of this market.

"If we look at the current industry growth, which is negative since last several months, the NE region is still expected to post a double digit growth," Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) Senior Vice President (Marketing and Sales) Jnaneswar Sen told.

The growth in the NE will be huge due to the fact that the automobile players are increasingly focusing on this market and it currently has a smaller base, he added.

When asked how much growth HCIL expects in this fiscal, Sen said: "The North East market is increasingly gaining significance for Honda as this market has lot of sales potential for hatchbacks and compact sedans...We are hoping more than 50 per cent jump in our sales in the region."

On the models that are driving the company's growth in the region, he said small car Brio and sedans Amaze and City have highest demand.

The company has posted 26 per cent jump at 469 units during April-June quarter this year over the same period last year in the region.

During last fiscal, HCIL had sold a total of 73,483 units across the country.

Out of this, only 1,212 units were sold in the NE region.

Talking about the company's delearship expansion plans in the region, Sen said: "In next 18 months, we will be expanding our presence in the entire North East and will have new facilities coming up in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland."

The company, which opened its first dealership in this region at Guwahati in 2008, is currently present in Guwahati and Dibrugarh in Assan, and Gangtok in Sikkim.

Car sales in India fell for a record eighth month in a row in June with a dip of 9 per cent as economic slowdown and low consumer sentiments continue to hit demand.

The continuous decline in the automobile market prompted the industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) to seek stimulus package from the government, similar to the one given during the 2008-09 downturn, in which excise duty on two-wheelers, small cars and commercial vehicles were reduced to 8 per cent.

With actual sales in the first quarter of this fiscal turning out to be wide off the mark from what it had forecast in April, SIAM stayed away from revising sales projections it had made in April this year and stated that even those targets were unlikely to be met, except in two-wheeler segment.
09 July 2013

Northeast Has Huge Business Potential: UK Envoy

Guwahati, Jul 9 : British high commissioner Sir James Bevan said the dividend of prevailing peace in the northeast is evident in the development that the region has been experiencing.

At an interactive programme organized by the Youth Forum on Foreign Policy (YFFP) here on Monday, Bevan said with peace there has been a marked confidence among people in taking the region to the path of development. The forum is an NGO and Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi's son, Gaurav Gogoi, is its secretary.

"The infrastructure is growing. Soft infrastructures like healthcare and education is also progressing. The growth of the region is remarkably good. As a whole there is huge potential in the region," Bevan observed.

Although Bevan mentioned about the northeast's challenges primarily because of its location sharing border with many countries, at the same time he talked about the region's opportunities in terms of business investment and its location in proximity to Southeast Asia.

"There are challenges, but also immense opportunities. We want to be a partner in the development of the region. Britain has a lot to offer to the northeast. A lot of investors are willing to invest in various sectors. There are immense potentialities in tourism, agriculture and hydro-power. British companies have lot of expertise in the infrastructure sector. Education is also a sector where we collaborate," Bevan said.

The diplomat recalled a comment of a top bureaucrat of the northeast during his earlier visit to the region. He said, "I asked the bureaucrat if I came back to northeast after 20 years, what would you tell me? The bureaucrat replied the region will be the richest place in India. 'I am confident," he added.

Bevan also met chief minister Tarun Gogoi before the interactive session. He talked to Gogoi about how Britain can help in mitigating climate change in the northeast, in general and Assam, in particular.

With Edward Snowden leak creating flutter in media, the diplomat had to face questions from one of the participants during the interactive session about ethics of spying.