Such has been the disastrous pollution in Delhi and its environs in recent days. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal , driven to desperation, announced that schools in the city would be closed temporarily to prevent serious damage to the health of children. Kejriwal, floundering around for answers, asked for artificial rain, but harassed citizens might well feel his removal would be a good beginning to end the capital’s deepening blight. Instead of devoting the desired attention to Delhi, Kejriwal was strutting around Punjab promoting his unelectable and increasingly ridiculous Aam Aadmi party. This backwoodsman from nowhere emerged into the limelight as a Magsaysay Award winner. It was set up in the Cold War as a memorial to the Filipino president Ramon Magsaysay, who was killed tragically in an air crash. The aim of the award was to promote the careers of young men and women in public life across Asia in fulfillment of the American dream to recast the continent in its own image.
Surgical strike on black money
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a surgical strike on black money. It was swift, and sudden, catching the country by surprise – which clearly was the goal of the exercise before the rats scuttled to safety with their hoard intact. All notes of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 were put out of circulation at the midnight hour of November 9. Those in possession of such notes would have to change them at banks for new notes that were believed to be equipped with chips to prove that they were genuine.
‘It is a major move which will help curb unaccounted for cash, particularly in the real estate sector. We have just witnessed a tremendous step towards increased transparency in the Indian real estate sector. The effort will be far-reaching and immediate, and shake up the sector in no uncertain way,’ said Anuj Puri, Chairman and Country Head, JLL India (Business Line November 9)
Dud notes a security threat
Counterfeit rupees had assumed alarming proportions through smuggling, mostly by jihadi groups in Pakistan seeking to cripple India in multiple ways. President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his warm approval of this bold and resolute measure. Another respected voice joined the chorus of approvals. Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Shah told the media that, ‘You have to understand there is no other alternative. This is one of the methods to end circulation of unaccounted wealth across the country.’ (Business Line, Hindu, Mint, Telegraph November 9)
Rahul Gandhi to be Congress President
Heir apparent Congress party Vice President Rahul Gandhi chaired a meeting of its top brass in the absence of his mother Sonia, the party President, who was reported ill. Whether the move can revive what has become a corpse is open to doubt. Nothing in his performance, thus far, indicates that he has the qualities to take Congress forward and make it a credible national force. His slogans are trite, his antics juvenile. (Hindu, Times of India, Business Line November 8)
India’s mobile phone dream
While India seems condemned to bear the cross of its legion of discredited politicians, its advances in multiple fields of endeavour continue apace – the one abiding factor that prompts entrepreneurs and businessmen and women from afar to come calling. During the recent Diwali festivities the demand for Micromax phones shot through the roof. The Gurgaon-based handset manufacturer was busy launching a new model every week, its primary factory in Uttarkhand struggled to keep up with the frenetic demand, so much so that it ran out of storage space, forcing the local management to set up a makeshift canopy to house the products coming off the line.
In 2015 financial year, Micromax Informatics earned a consolidated revenue of Rs10,984 crore and a profit of Rs 176 crore. In the corresponding period for 2016 during the Diwali season the revenue touched $2 billion or Rs 13,400 crore, propelling Micromax to second spot nationally. There are over a billion mobile phone users in the country who buy approximately 250 million new phones a year (Business Line November 8)
Biotech betting big
Bangalore-based Biotech will be soon filing for a biosimilars version of trasfuzumahb. Used for the treatment of breast cancer in the US, said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Biocon Chairperson and Managing Director. The company has filed for marketing rights for the drug in Europe and expects regulatory clearance in the next 12 to 18 months. She said that the launch of insulin glargine in Japan has been a positive development, opening up other markets for glargine (Mint October 24)
Karnataka CM on British visa rules
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddararamaiah, welcoming British Prime Minister Teresa May to Bangalore , told her, during one-to-one talks, to rethink her country’s restrictive visa regulations for Indian software engineers wishing to enter the UK for temporary jobs in local or Indian companies, pointing out that that the movement of skilled workers from India should be a trade priority and not an immigrations issue.
He said, ‘Temporary placement of highly skilled individuals in the UK provides a significant economic boost while having a negligible impact on net immigration.’
Around 15 per cent of UK-based companies in India have an expanding presence in Bangalore, with a total workforce of 23,000. Some of the biggest Indian software firms such as Infosys, Wipro, Tata Consultancy Services and Dynamic Technologies continue to expand their footprint in the UK (Hindu November 9)
Indian start-ups vibrant
The Indian start-up scene has been vibrant for the last few years, with a total venture investment in start-ups of Rs 1,11,700 crore between 2005-2015, The average yearly investment flow was 42 per cent higherer during this period, according to the eighth Annual Report on Indian Venture Capital and Equity on Start-ups. Over 10,000 start-ups received funding. Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder of Infosys, told a panel discussion that the aspiration of Tamil Nadu and Chennai to start an appropriate ecosystem was encouraging.
Madras IIT model
He said, ‘ I am positive and optimistic that it can be done with ecosystems like the IIT-Madras Research Park. There is a strong linkage between research institutions and start-up ecosystem. IIT-Madras is an example of that with over 100 start-ups. We need to replicate, grow and sustain this.’ (Hindu November 9)
India to acquire T-90 Russian tanks
India is to acquire the latest T-90 model Russian tanks for the armoured divisions of the Indian Army. This latest version is equipped with thermal imaging night vision cameras. Major General (Retd) R.K.Arora, Chief Editor of the Indian Military Review, says, ‘We may have 800 or so T-90 tanks just now. The government is planning to buy 460 more that will make it about 1,300 T-90 tanks in the fleet.’ The deal, estimated to be worth $2.1 billion, is likely to include a Make in India component. India currently has about 13 regiments of T-90 tanks. This figure will increase to 21 regiments by 2020. (Sputnik, November 2)
Invitation to join fast reactor project
A fast neutron reactor is one in which nuclear fission is sustained by neutrons. This multipurpose research reactor project is located in the Russian city of Dimitrovgrad in the Ulyanovsk region. India has been invited to participate in this cutting edge endeavour by Rosatom Project Manager Alexander Zagornov during a recent visit to the country. The step-by-step deepening Indo-Russian cooperation in diverse fields has been welcomed as an instance of forward planning by Vyacheslav Trubnikov, a former Russian ambassador to India and now a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow
India prevails in Ladakh stand-off
The Indian Army has completed its project to construct an irrigation pipeline for a village in the Demchok region of Ladakh, having prevailed in a stand-off with a Chinese military unit which had raised objections to the scheme because of its location near the border. The Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force, which had increased their force levels, prevailed in this trial of wills (Hindu November 7)
Ford to invest $195 million in Chennai
US auto company Ford is setting up a $195 million Ford Global Technology and Business Center in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The center will serve as a hub for product development, mobility solutions and business services for India and other global markets. It will have 3000 scientists, engineers and a skilled workforce over the next five years.
Home from home
William Clay Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company, said at the launch: ‘Chennai is Ford Motor’s home away from home. It will be our third global product development centre in the Asia Pacific area….With about 12,000 employees in total, the Chennai facility will become the second-largest centre of employment globally outside the US.’
Speaking to the media, Clayton Ford said that ‘our sales in India are up this year quite dramatically…we are very pleased with our growth in India.’ (Business Line November 9)