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India's students have poor learning levels. Can foundational education help them? | Hindustan Times, 10 oct 2019
India biggest success story among malaria-endemic countries | CNBC TV18, 10 oct 2019
Pathology has the power to be able to strengthen the core elements of global health | Express Healthcare, 09 oct 2019
Indian Economy Likely To Face More Risks In Near Term: RBI | NDTV, 08 oct 2019
Hacks for investors in a stalling economy | Livemint, 08 oct 2019
Most business leaders feel India's regulators just don't get tech | Quartz, 08 oct 2019
Agriculture a potential enabler for the Indian economy revival | Skymet Weather, 07 oct 2019
Evolving Scenario Of Higher Education In India | Businessworld, 06 oct 2019
'Indian varsities need to blow their trumpets to improve global ranking' | The Hindu, 06 oct 2019
This is how health insurance policies discriminate in India | Moneycontrol, 04 oct 2019
Policy & Governance
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 oct 2019
Agriculture is one of the critical sectors of Indian economy as it employs about 50% of the working population and contributes 15-16% to GDP. Even though government policies are designed to make the sector benficial for those engaged in it, but the media is full of news describing the ailing condition of India's agriculture at the ground. Can entrepreneurs, full of ideas and working zeal, coupled with effectiveness and efficiencies of technology, become harbingers of change and transform the condition of not only the farms and their produce, but also the farmers and all other hard working people employed in the sector. Abhishek Agarwal, co-founder of TechnifyBiz, suggests that agri-tech entrepreneurs can tackle some of the problems of Indian agriculture and help grow the sector. He cites following issues - Depleted ground-water, low-quality seeds and ravaged soil quality due to over-use of chemicals; Lack of market linkage creates a considerable gap in the industry; Inadeguate transporation and storage; Scarcity of credit and high lending rates. He suggests that agri-startups can assist in standardization of agri-market practices through technology, aggregation and organized marketing. According to NASSCOM, sector had secured a funding of US$ 73 million in 2018. The agri-tech industry has been able to raise financing of over US$ 248 million till June 2019. Accenture says that digital agricultural services market is set to touch US$ 4.55 billion by 2020. Mr. Agarwal explains, 'Market linkage, farmer markets in the digital space, superior database management, digital agriculture and micro-financing are gaining in popularity, making the sector conducive to attract funding.' Agri-startups are encompassing both the production and after-harvest side of agriculture. He says, 'The various areas of improvement, like the reduction of input costs, better nutritional value in food crops, better quality seeds that drive crop production and improving soil quality. Using technology to predict weather patterns, irrigation cycles and soil quality are the focus of some startups. This enhances the quality of production...The use of smart technology and superior logistics infrastructure has created a new eco-system of agri-marketing. New-age startups are leveraging technology to tap the retail as well as B2B marketplaces through digital agronomy startups.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 sep 2019
Trust between patients and care givers is one of the critical factors in determining success of healthcare system. And trust develops over a period of time through positive experiences that are achieved by providing quality care at the right time, effectively and efficiently at the right price. But, it seems, India's healthcare is lacking behind in satisfactory healthcare delivery. According to the recent report by Ernst & Young (EY) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), 'Re-engineering Indian Healthcare 2.0', based on an online survey of 1000 patients across six geographical zones in India, 'There is a growing mistrust among patients against healthcare providers and the Indian healthcare system needs to tailor its current model for inclusion and mass healthcare to deliver true care with a focus on primary care, wellness and health outcomes.' The report finds that - 61% patients believe that hospitals did not act in their best interests; 63% of patients indicated that they were not happy with hospital responsiveness and waiting times; 59% patients felt the hospitals were not concerned about feedback and do not actively seek it. Kaivaan Movdawalla, Partner at EY India (Healthcare), says, 'For realising the aspired levels of efficiency, it is imperative for healthcare providers to shift from an incremental performance plus approach to a radical design to cost or direct-to-consumer approach for redesigning their operating models and cost structures.' Dr. Arvind Lal, Chair at FICCI Healthservices Committee and CMD of Dr Lal PathLabs, says, 'There is an urgent need to bridge the 'trust deficit' between the patient and the doctor; patient and the hospital; as well as government and the private healthcare provider for the Health of the Indian Healthcare.' EY recommends a '5E Framework' for building trust across all principal stakeholders, that is, policymakers, healthcare providers, payors and the public. This framework comprises integrating empathy, efficiency, empowerment, ease and environment to achieve the agenda of universal health access and the right to health. Read on...
Most patients are dissatisfied with India's healthcare system, says EY-FICCI report
Author: P. B. Jayakumar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2019
Even though India has achieved success consistently in agriculture sector through policy and reforms, but there is still a lot to be desired. Farmer suicides and droughts become headline news from time to time. Ken Ash, Director of Trade & Agriculture at OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and Silvia Sorescu, Policy Analyst at OECD, provides an overview of India's state of agriculture and what needs to be done to tap opportunities. According to them, many smallholders have not been able to exploit the opportunities opening up to them; they remain hampered by low productivity, an under-developed food processing and retail sector, and water and environmental degradation. They explain that India faces 'triple challenge' in the agricultural sector similar to other countries - delivering safe and nutritious food to a growing population at affordable prices; providing a livelihood for farmers and others in the food chain; and overcoming severe resource and climate pressures. According to the OECD and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) report in the Agricultural Policies in India 2018 study and the 2019 OECD Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation, India's domestic and trade policies (like restrictions due to agri-marketing regulations, export restrictions, huge farm subsidies for farm inputs etc) have combined to reduce Indian farm revenue by an estimated 5.7% in the past three years. Moreover, funding for public services - such as physical infrastructure, inspection, research & development, and education and skills - that are essential to enable the long-term productivity and sustainability of the sector has not kept pace. India can draw lessons from Ashok Gulati's analysis of farm policy developments in China, and also from EU's (European Union) agricultural policy reform experiences. Persistence is critical for the success in the sector. Electronic National Agricultural Market (eNAM), the 2017 marketing model act, and the recently implemented direct cash transfers scheme to small-scale farmers, are steps in the right direction. Authors suggest, 'Scarce financial resources should be directed towards investment in public services that enable a productive, sustainable, and resilient food and agriculture sector. Doing so would require strengthening the institutional framework; eliminating duplication and fragmentation is a pre-requisite to ensuring coherent policy packages are developed and consistently implemented. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing the 'triple challenge' will require new policy directions in India, as elsewhere.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2019
India's CSR legislation is a step in the right direction and is globally praised. Recently, 47 participants from 33 global multinational companies that are associated with WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) visited India to learn about sustainable businesses. WBCSD Leadership Program is a year-long series of engagements and learning exercises in partnership with Yale University. Rodney Irwin, Managing Director of WBCSD's Redefining Value and Education program, says, 'The legislation asking large companies to spend 2% of their profit on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is appreciable, but large companies should not stop there. These large firms should look at making their businesses sustainable by integrating the concept of environmental, social and governance advantages into the core business.' He advocated the need for integrating sustainable approach to doing businesses along with maintaining profitability. He adds, 'In long-run, profitability can be greater if you embrace opportunities that accompany sustainable approach.' Since a number of large Indian companies are family-owned, he says, 'The companies that have family connections tend to not just make the businesses successful but they want to make sure that the business can be passed on to the next generation. They have a long-term vision.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 apr 2019
Biotechnology is expected to be the next big thing for the Indian economy, just like the IT industry has been, explains Amit Kapoor, President & CEO of India Council on Competitiveness and Honorary Chairman at Institute for Competitiveness. According to him, '...biotechnology industry seemed poised to take over the mantle. In the span of a decade beginning in 2007, the industry has grown exponentially in size from about US$ 2 billion to over US$ 11 billion in terms of revenue. By 2025, it is targeted to touch US$ 100 billion.' In the past, both Green Revolution (agricultural transformation) and White Revolution (dairy sector transformation) became successful because of the contributions from biotechnology. At present India's rising competitiveness in pharmaceuticals is also the result of biotechnological advancements and research. Moreover, energy needs of rural areas are also met by biomass fuel, produced through application of biotechnology. Mr. Kapoor explains evolution of biotechnology in India, 'As early as 1986, Rajiv Gandhi, recognising the potential of biotechnology in the country's development, set up the Department of Biotechnology...Department of Biotechnology has set up 17 Centres of Excellence at higher education institutions across the country and has supported the establishment of eight biotechnology parks across different cities...Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in 2012, which has successfully supported 316 start-ups in its six years of existence...As of 2016, India had over a thousand biotechnology start-ups.' According to Mr. Kapoor, the sector faces many challenges and they need to be addressed effectively and promptly - (1) India's research and development expenditure is quite low at 0.67% of GDP, not only compared to mature biotechnology economies such as Japan and the US (around 3%) but also in comparison to emerging economies like China (around 2%). (2) Specific to the biotech pharmaceutical sector, there are a few India-specific challenges with the country's IP regime. There are two main areas of contention for the industry in India's approach to intellectual property. The first issue lies in Section 3(d) of the Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005, which sets a higher standard for patentability than mandated by TRIPS. The industry argues that India's stricter standards for patents discourages innovation and dampens foreign investment. The second issue is that of compulsory licensing, which gives the government power to suspend a patent in times of health emergencies. Although India has used this option only once, the industry feels that such regulations keep investors clear of Indian markets. (3) Another challenge lies in the risk involved in the Valley of Death, that is, the risk of failure in the transition of innovative products and services from discovery to marketisation. Most of the early research funding, often provided by universities or the government, runs out before the marketisation phase, the funding for which is mostly provided by venture capitalists. It becomes difficult to attract further capital between these two stages because a developing technology may seem promising, but it is often too early to validate its commercial potential. This gap has a huge impact in commercialisation of innovative ideas. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Why biotechnology can be Indian economy's next success story
Author: Amit Kapoor
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 apr 2019
India is a diverse economy with a large population size. The availability of correct data is a challenge. But there are reliable and free sources that contain datasets and data visualisations of the Indian economic scenario that can be utilized by data scientists - (1) NITI Aayog (Salary Expenditure): It is part of data.gov.in website. An expense or expenditure made to the employees for their work in terms of salary is known as Salary expenditure. It is an outflow of money from the Government for different services. The Data contains Actual, Pre-actual and Budgeted Expenditure for Salary expenditure, total expenditure, Revenue Expenditure, Salary expenditure as percentage of revenue expenditure (net of IP & Pension) and Salary expenditure as percentage of total expenditure of states & union territories. (2) Open Budgets India (openbudgetsindia.org): The portal provides budget information of different tiers of government in India (Union Budget, State Budgets, and Budgets of several Municipal Corporations across the country) in accessible and open (non-proprietary) formats. The four major features of the portal, as of now (in the beta version), are - Budget documents (i.e. the original PDF documents); Machine Readable Datasets (for those budget documents, where it was technically feasible to prepare machine readable datasets); Visualizations (or infographics) generated from the machine readable datasets; and Budget basics (for greater familiarity with budget concepts, processes and documents). The portal includes twelve broad sectors that represent Union and State Budget expenditure on both Economic Services and Social Services. It has 10.6k datasets from 509 budget sources. (3) Ministry Of Statistics (Indian Income Tax): It is part of data.gov.in website. The data refers to details on receipts under income tax from 2000-01 to 2011-12 in head of account such as Minor Head-Other Receipts, Minor Head-Surcharge, Penalties, Interest Recoveries, Primary Education Cess, Secondary and Higher Education Cess. (4) NITI Aayog (Manufacturing GDP): It is part of data.gov.in website. The data refers to information on contribution to manufacturing GDP in the 11th Five-Year Plan and employment in 2009-10 in different segments of the manufacturing sector. It projects employment in 2016-17 and 2024-25 in different segments of manufacturing in two different scenarios. (5) Ministry Of Finance (Statistical Appendix): It is part of the Economic Survey. Website is mofapp.nic.in:8080/economicsurvey. Includes Economic Survey 2017-18 and previous ones. The Statistical Appendix has following sections along with their sub-sections - National Income and Production; Budgetary Transactions; Employment; Monetary Trends; Prices; Balance of Payments; Foreign Trade; External Assistance; Human Development Indicators. Data files can be downloaded in Excel and PDF formats. (6) Ministry of Finance - Department Of Economic Affairs (Trade Balance Of India): It is part of data.gov.in website. The trade balance is the difference between the monetary value of exports and imports of output in an economy. It is one of the most important macroeconomic parameter. Data contains Exports, Imports and Trade Balance of India (in Rs Crore and US$ Million) from 1949-50. It also contains the percentage rate of change of exports as well as imports with respect to the previous year. The data has been provided by Department of Economic Affairs. (7) The World Bank (data.worldbank.org/country/india): Includes time series data on variety of topics like GDP, Population, School Enrolment, CO2 Emissions etc. DataBank is an analysis and visualization tool. (8) IMF DATA (data.imf.org): It provides access to macroeconomic and financial data. Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook (APDREO) provides information on recent economic developments and prospects for countries in Asia and Pacific. India is included in this region. Read on...
Analytics India Magazine:
8 Free Resources On Indian Economy You Can Use For Your Data Science Projects
Author: Ram Sagar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2019
Companies Act of 2014 made India the first country that made CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) mandatory for a section of corporates. The companies were expected to integrate social development programs into their business models and culture. KPMG's 2018-19 report that analyzed the CSR work of 100 companies found that corporates increased their prescribed amount for CSR expenditure from Rs 5779.7 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 7096.9 crore in 2017-18. Moreover, they were actually spending more than what was prescribed (Rs 4708 crore in 2014-15; Rs 7424 crore in 2017-18. But India's most backward districts remain deprived these CSR funds. According to the Ministry of Rural Development, 115 of the 718 districts in India are backward. NITI Aayog suggests that corporates can contribute to the development of these districts. Jharkhand (19 districts, 1% CSR funds received); Bihar (13, 2%); Chhattisgarh (10, 1%); Madhya Pradesh (8, 3%); Odisha (8, 11%). While Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which account for only 15% of such districts, have received 60% of the CSR money. The most backward districts got only 13% of this year's funds and not more than 25% of the total projects. Companies have found convenient ways to direct their CSR funds and shrug off their social responsibility. In July 2018, 272 companies were served notices by the Registrar of Companies for non-compliance with CSR expenditure. Between July 2016 and March 2017, about 1018 companies were issued notices for non-compliance. KPMG has identified three principal areas of non-compliance - disclosure of direct and overhead expenditure on projects, details of overhead expenses, and keeping these overhead expenses below 5% of total CSR spends. Sujit Kumar Singh, senior program manager at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says, 'There is no data to know if companies are undertaking need-based assessment studies, a must since it prioritises the requirements of the impacted communities.' Mr. Singh adds, '...Often, professionals handling CSR are not trained to comprehend societal nuances. In most cases those heading the human resource department handle CSR activities. The need now is a policy which drive companies towards self-regulation, the key to CSR.' According to the reporting guidelines that CSE has prepared, 'Companies should self-regulate and be responsive to the disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised sections of society. They should respect and promote human rights, make efforts to protect and restore the environment, and support inclusive growth and equitable development. The guidelines show how to improve accountability and transparency in CSR spending, and make it an integral part of business.' Read on...
Indian firms' CSR spending needs more accountability and transparency
Author: Vikrant Wankhede
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 feb 2019
India's 'Development Agenda' as outlined by current government includes development of 100 smart cities, 40 million dwelling units, 20 million affordable homes, better infrastructure facilities through the AMRUT scheme, focus on urban development and transformation, slum rehabilitation, and 'Housing for All' by 2022. It is estimated that to fulfil this agenda there is requirement of 75 million skilled people in real estate and infrastructure. Moreover, according to reports there is need of 4 million core professionals (architects, engineers, planners). Shubika Bilkha, Business Head at The Real Estate Management Institute (REMI), explains the key aspects that architectural graduates and planners should keep in while building their skill set in evolving environment - (1) Be Multifaceted: Take advantage of a number of roles- from design architecture, structural or liaisoning architects, to urban planning, property development, sustainable development, teaching or getting involved with disaster relief/re-building communities. Require skills such as engineering, design, supervisory skills, managing people/teams/vendors/client expectations, an understanding of key building/designing/construction/smart technology, strong communication and persuasion skills to communicate their vision. Have much larger role and bigger scope getting involved from pre-design services, to cost analysis and land-use studies, feasibility reports, environment studies to developing the final construction plans etc. (2) Be Business Minded: Understand key real estate and planning concepts and calculations, municipal and local development regulations, legal limitations, the social and urban infrastructure, fundraising/financing and the evolving policy framework. (3) Be Responsible: Consider social and environmental impact of the recommendations. Understand sustainability and implement it effectively. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 jan 2019
According to the 'Global Highly-Cited Researchers 2018 List' by Clarivate Analytics, India has only 10 researchers among the world's 4000 most influential researchers. Even though India has many globally renowned institutions, but it lacks breakthrough research output. Top three countries in the list are - US (2639), UK (546), China (482). Prof. CNR Rao, world renowned chemist from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Sciences and named in the list, says, 'About 15 years ago, China and India were at the same level, but China today contributes to 15-16% of the science output in the world, while we currently contribute only 4%.' Prof. Dinesh Mohan, environmental science academic at JNU and included in the list, says, 'Areas such as climate change, water and energy are areas where research is more relevant nowadays. Where you publish your work is also important for impact.' Dr. Avnish Agarwal, also named in the list, says, 'We need to improve our research ecosystem...There is a lack of focus on quality research in Indian academia. If teachers do not do high-quality research, they will not be updated with new developments.' Others in the list are - Dr. Rajeev Varshney (Agriculture researcher at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics-ICRISAT); Dr. Ashok Pandey (Researcher at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research); Dr. Alok Mittal and Dr. Jyoti Mittal (Researchers in environmental science, water treatment, green chemistry and chemical kinetics at the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology); Dr. Rajnish Kumar (Researcher and professor at IIT Madras's Department of Chemical Engineering); Dr. Sanjeeb Sahoo (Researcher in nanotechnology at the Institute of Life Sciences); Dr. Sakthivel Rathinaswamy (Professor and researcher in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Bharathiar University). Read on...
ONLY 10 AMONG THE WORLD'S TOP 4000 INFLUENTIAL RESEARCHERS ARE INDIAN: REPORT
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 dec 2018
In India there are central government run healthcare institutions, public state run institutions and private medical colleges that provide modern healthcare education mainly the four year degree MBBS and after that post-graduate degrees of MS and MD. India also have a number of institutions that provide degrees in other healthcare systems like Ayurveda (BAMS), Unani-Greek (BUMS), Homoeopathy (BHMS), Naturopathy etc. Moreover, there are vocational training institutes that provide skills and courses to develop other medical staff like nurses, health assistants etc. There are also corporate run and other private medical colleges and universities and training institutes. India's healthcare facilities are generally concentrated in urban areas while rural areas are generally served by public hospitals and centers. Private clinics are also present in both rural and urban areas. They are generally run by a single doctor or doctor couple and provide basic healthcare. Diagnostic centers are spread all over due to technological advancements and compact and affordable equipments. Healthcare has major disparities between urban and rural areas when it comes to healthcare access. Healthcare has become one of India's largest sectors - both in terms of revenue and employment. The industry comprises public and private hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, pathology and diagnostics, medical devices industry, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. The public sector constitutes primary health centers, central research centers and hospitals, state-run research institutes and hospitals etc. The private sector provides majority of secondary, tertiary and quaternary care institutions with a major concentration in metros, tier-I and tier-II cities. According to National Family Health Survey-3, the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for 70% of households in urban areas and 63% of households in rural areas. Rise of technology is creating new business models in the healthcare industry. Healthcare through smart phones and fitness trackers is new trend. Information technology is automating and streamlining various healthcare processes. Big data is creating new ways of improving healthcare delivery. Startups in India are promising to provide best healthcare at affordable cost more effectively. Latest healthcare equipment is not only imported but also manufactured in India. Digital technologies are enhancing every aspect of healthcare. Technology solutions are able to modernise current medical practices, reduce costs, eliminate any duplication of tests as well as streamline processes and update medical records in real time. Modern technology has great potential to increase access of healthcare services in rural communities, especially the ones where there is serious shortage of doctors. India has demonstrated since long a commitment to offer comprehensive healthcare to all citizens. This has been reaffirmed in the 12th Five-year Plan, National Health Assurance Mission, and more recently through Ayushman Bharat Program. However, the challenges remain and this goal has not been achieved as of yet. There are two critical components of successful healthcare systems. One is the financial aspects whereby citizens are protected against any eventuality and don't get into penury due to health spending. Second is the provision and delivery of healthcare services. It is imperative to ensure that healthcare infrastructure is sufficiently equipped to provide effective healthcare when needed by its citizens. Technology, public-private partnerships, access and affordability are the critical component in the future of India's healthcare. Better healthcare with policy, financial and physical framework will bring long-term benefits to the nation. Develop effective mechanisms to improve general health, and disease prevention strategies through campaigns, advocacy etc. To make India's citizens more aware about their health, inculcate better sanitization and cleanliness habits will help to improve overall health of India. Prevention before cure becomes the key for the country with the size and demographic profile like India. Health aware citizens, trained, sensitive and caring medical staff, cutting edge technologies and modern infrastructure, are the golden elements for a healthy future of India. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 dec 2018
India is adopting emerging technologies and its future progress will be defined by their effective utilization. A recent study by Cisco and IDC suggests that globally the net job addition in new technologies will be more than 5.9 million by 2027 out of which 1.4 million will be in India. India is building its capacities in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). Government has special focus on AI, as between mid 2017 and early 2018, the government constituted two AI Task Forces, first under the Ministry of Commerce and the second under the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Information Technology has also set up four committees to encourage research in the field. Niti Aayog has also published the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence. Similarly, efforts have been underway by goverment to promote the development and adoption of IoT since 2016 with the release of a draft policy on IOT by MeitY. Private sector too has made massive investments in IoT. Another technology that India has to focus on is Data Science as it has enormous potential in promoting development and humanitarian efforts. Data Science has the capability to provide effective solutions to problems faced by the developing world. It can significantly make an impact in decision and policy making. India has to understand the advantages of using Data Science to complement policy efforts and exploit its potential accordingly. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 oct 2018
Indian corporates that fulfil the conditions of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 relating to mandatory spending of 2% of last 3 years average profit on CSR are making a difference in vulnerable communities in India. According to the latest India CSR Outlook Report published by NGOBOX, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, Wipro, Tata Steel, NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation & ONGC spent more than their prescribed CSR budgets in FY 2017-18. The report analyzed CSR spends of 359 companies. The prescribed CSR budget of these 359 companies was Rs 9543.51 crore whereas the actual CSR spend was Rs 8875.93 crore (3/4th of total CSR spend in India). There is an increase in the prescribed CSR from 6% to 8% in the actual CSR spend from FY 16-17 and the number of projects have also increased by 25% from the previous year. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat together received over 1/4th of India's total CSR fund. North-eastern states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have received least funds; Public sector contribution is over 1/4th of the total; Oil, refinery and petrochemicals account for alsmost 1/4th of the total while healthcare and pharma contributes the least with just Rs 294 crore; CSR funding on education and skill increased by 50% from last year and is 1/3rd of the total CSR spend; Over 1/4th is spend on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and healthcare projects. Read on...
Corporates spend 50% CSR funds in education, skill development: Report
Author: Sonal Khetarpal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 sep 2018
India's large size with huge population (1.25 billion), substantial part of which resides in rural and underdeveloped regions, brings both challenges and opportunities for implementing healthcare policies and initiatives, both public and private. Over the years ineffective implementation of such initiatives at various levels, has created lopsided infrastructure and uneven development in healthcare. Indian health system also lacks effective payment mechanism and has a high out-of-pocket expenditure (roughly 70%). Adverse health events (health shocks) have considerable impact on India's overall poverty figures, adding about seven percentage points. Health is associated with the overall wellness of the citizens. Good health reflects on the productivity and growth of the nation. More so in the case of India as substantial population is young. India has more than 50% (about 662 million) of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. By 2020, the average age of India's population is expected to be 29 years. Aging of this large population will happen at the same time. Having adequate infrastructure is key to avoid a massive health catastrophe for this elderly population in future. Health is also a key issue in the public policy sphere. In the public policy context healthcare issues are often related to accessibility, affordability, socio-economic disparities, healthcare delivery mechanisms, illness and diseases and their impact on society etc. India have a conceptual universal health care system run by the constituent states and union territories. The biggest challenge is to make it accessible and affordable for the overall population. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2018
India has to give special emphasis to agriculture to ensure food security for its large population. Recent report, 'Agricultural Policies in India' (Authors: Ashoka Gulati, Infosys chair professor for agriculture at ICRIER; Carmen Cahill, Deputy Director for trade and agriculture at OECD), jointly developed by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), provides outcomes of the research conducted for over two years to map and measure the nature of agricultural policies in India and how they have impacted producers and consumers. The report includes key policy indicators like the producer support estimates (PSEs) and consumer support estimates (CSEs). According to the authors of the report, 'The methodology adopted is a standard one that OECD has applied to measure PSEs and CSEs for 51 countries over the last 30 years. In the case of PSEs, it basically captures the impact of various policies on two components: (a) the output prices that producers receive, benchmarked against global prices of comparable products; and (b) the various input subsidies that farmers receive through budgetary allocations by the Centre and states. The two are combined to see if farmers receive positive support (PSE), or negative, as a percentage of gross farm receipts. A positive PSE (%) means that policies have helped producers receive higher revenues than would have been the case otherwise, and a negative PSE (%) implies lower revenues for farmers (a sort of implicit tax) due to the set of policies adopted.' The report found India's PSE, on average, during 2014-15 to 2016-17 was -6% of farm receipts. Contrary to this most other countries have positive PSEs. Overall, PSE (%) was negative to the tune of 14%, on average, over the entire period from 2000-01 to 2016-17, indicating that, despite positive input subsidies, farmers in India received 14% less revenue due to restrictive trade and marketing policies. To incentivise farmers to raise productivity, build an efficient and sustainable agriculture that augments farmers' incomes and foster rural growth and jobs all along the value chain, authors suggest - (1) Change policies to 'get the markets right' by reforming domestic marketing regulations (ECA and APMC), promoting a competitive national market and upgrading marketing infrastructure. Also review restrictive export policies for agri-products. (2) The report recongnizes concerns of the policymakers to protect consumers from price rise. But, it argues for switching to an income policy approach through a direct benefit transfer (DBT) targeted to the vulnerable sections of the population. (3) Indian agriculture and farmers would be much better off if input subsidies are contained and gradually reduced, and the equivalent savings are channelled simultaneously towards higher investments in agri-R&D, extension, building rural infrastructure for better markets and agri-value chains, as also on better water management to deal with climate change. (4) A greater degree of coordination is required between the Centre and the States, and also across various ministries, for a more holistic approach towards reforming agriculture. Read on...
From plate to plough: India must get its agri-markets right
Authors: Ashoka Gulati, Carmel Cahill
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2018
According to the report by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), 'Anatomy of an Internet Blackout: Measuring the Economic Impact of Internet Shutdowns in India', 12615 hours of mobile Internet shutdowns in India cost the economy approximately US$ 2.37 billion and 3700 hours of mobile and fixed line Internet shutdowns in India resulted in a loss of approximately US$ 678.4 million during the period 2012 to 2017. Most affected by the shutdowns were e-commerce businesses and online freelancers operating from small towns. Tourism is another sector affected. Rajat Kathuria, Director & CEO of ICRIER, says, 'The objective of the study is not to pronounce on the efficacy of a state decision on an Internet blackout, rather to estimate the economic costs associated with the event. However, policy makers would be well advised to consider these costs in the final decision on a shutdown. If digital use were to proliferate as envisaged under the Digital India programme, the magnitude of loss could increase in the future.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 mar 2018
According to the recent report based on PRIME Database, listed Indian companies that total 1019 have spent Rs. 9034 crore in 2017-18 to fund their CSR (Corporate Social Resposibility) projects and activities. Nearly 37% of these funds were used for education and vocational skill training activities. This development area also witnessed the largest absolute increase in allocation of resources and funds. Moreover, the biggest increase was found in activities that support and benefit the armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents. Other focus areas that saw increased in expenditure were community development, infrastructure, environment sustainability, social welfare, sports, and slum development. But, eradication of hunger and poverty, and promotion of healthcare and sanitation had expenditure decreased by 18.6%, from Rs. 2944 crore to Rs. 2394 crore. Report by KPMG, 'India CSR Reporting Survey 2017', showed that while education and healthcare have been in focus for the past three years, organizations have slowly begun diversifying their area and geography of development in the last one year. Another recent report found the total CSR expenditure figure at Rs. 7050 crores and said that out of India's top 100 firms, 59 met their CSR targets, while 33 companies had an expenditure of less than required 2%. This report also listed educational projects, rural development, and healthcare as the key focus areas of the companies. Read on...
India Inc.'s CSR spend highest on education and skilling - Report
Author: Manav Seth
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2018
Social entrepreneurship ecosystem conference, 'Development Dialogue', organized by Kakatiya Sandbox, was recently held in Nizamabad (Telengana, India). Experts emphasized the need for greater collaboration between government and innovators to build the ecosystem. This year's theme was 'Collaborating for Big Bets'. Gururak Deshpande, venture capitalist, philanthropist and founder of Deshpande Foundation, says, 'We should not expect governments to innovate. Instead, we need to develop a system via philanthropic money to experiment, and if something works, the government needs to acquire it. That way we will be able to bring about transformations that are systemic and large.' NVS Reddy, Managing Director of Hyderbad Metro Rail (HMR), says, 'Out of more than 200 mass transportation projects in the world, only four metro projects are making profits. When we took up the Hyderabad Metro Project under the public-private partnership (PPP) model...world's biggest metro project...many were sceptical about its success. We were able to tackle all the challenges with a collaborative approach.' Phanindra Sama, Chief Innovation Officer of Telangana and co-founder of Kakatiya Sandbox, says, 'Governments are now open to innovative ideas. The onus is on the individuals to seize this opportunity and make an impact from within...' Read on...
The Times of India:
'Must build ecosystem for social entrepreneurship'
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jan 2018
India's growth trajectory can slow down if firms are not able to grow and banks are not able to lend. Restructuring can be an immediate policy solution for the twin balance-sheet problem. But, for the long-term growth and job creation, the causes of financial misallocation have to be deeply considered and mitigated. Growth needs more efficient firms to produce more output and use more factors of production, which includes ease of access to bank loans. Contrary to this in India, a case of financial misallocation is a common phenonmenon, where less efficient firms get more bank loans reducing the ability of more efficient firms to grow and scale up. The cause for India's financial misallocation is distortion in the land market, as less efficient firms can access more land consequently enhancing their ability to get loans. Land provides strong collateral to access bank loans. Financial misallocation is a bigger problem in the manufacturing sector, that is more land intensive, as compared to services industry. World Bank lead economist, Ejaz Ghani, alongwith Gilles Duranton, Arti Goswami Grover and William Robert Kerr, examined plant-level data on millions of formal and informal enterprises, in both the manufacturing and services sectors, in more than 600 districts in India and provided important insights into the geographic and industry distributions of financial and land misallocation in their World Bank research report, 'Effects Of Land Misallocation On Capital Allocations In India'. According to Mr. Ghani, 'Most bank loans in the manufacturing sector are taken up by large firms in the organized sector. The small firms in the unorganized sector, which account for nearly 80% of jobs, and about half of the value of land and buildings held in the manufacturing sector, pull in a very small share of bank loans. The value of financial loans reported in the informal sector is barely 2-6% of the value of total bank loans reported in the manufacturing sector.' Mr. Ghani explains, 'We computed an index of misallocation in manufacturing and services, and the organized and unorganized sectors, in the districts. The indices of misallocation for output, value added, and factors of production were computed individually for financial loans, land and labour. India is one of the most land-scarce countries in the world. Land and financial misallocation trumps labour misallocation. The former appears to be at the root of much of the misallocation of output in the manufacturing sector...poorly functioning land and financial markets explain why India has so few start-ups; entrants are constrained by financial misallocation, and incumbents don't grow in the manufacturing sector.' Mr. Ghani recommends, 'Policy makers need to pay more attention to addressing the underlying causes of financial misallocation. This would involve removing land market distortions, better land-use regulations, and more efficient taxation of properties. Faster growth requires marching ahead with even stronger policy reforms to promote competition and innovation, and enabling more efficient firms to grow faster.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 dec 2017
Entrepreneurship as a thought process is to be inculcated at the very early stage among children. It is also essential to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in India that brings all the elements together for entrepreneurship to thrive. In a recently held panel discussion in Hyderabad (India) on developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, moderated by Ramesh Abhishek (Secretary at the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion), Patricia G. Greene (Director of Women's Bureau, US Department of Labour) said, 'This effort should begin right from the pre-school days in children where teachers can drive kids to become future entrepreneurs.' Another panelist, Ravi Kailas (Chairman at Mytrah Energy) said, 'The ecosystem has a huge impact on creating different types of entrepreneurs...Innovative ideas and ventures will always bring in funds.' While Amit Ranbir Chandra (MD and India Head at Bain Capital) emphasised the need for domestic capital to address the requirements of entrepreneurs and less dependency on government funding. Read on...
Inculcate entrepreneurship spirit from 'pre-school days'
Author: G. Naga Sridhar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2017
According to the recent UNICEF report, 'Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017', India has witnessed 66% decline in the under-5 mortality rate from 1990 to 2015 but most of the newborn deaths (24% of all) still occur in the country. With this reduction India has met one of its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets. The report emphasised the need for equitable access to healthcare for girl child as under-5 mortality for girls in India remains 12.5% higher than the boys. Major barriers in seeking healthcare for the girl child include the high out-of-pocket expenses and cultural issues. The report stressed that investment in the education of the girl child is crucial and acknowledged that 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' scheme could be used for addressing the prevailing negative social norms towards the girl child in India. The report said that most of newborn deaths occurred in two regions: South Asia (39%) and sub-Saharan Africa (38%). Read on...
66% decline in child mortality rate but most newborn still die in India: UN report
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2017
India's future success will be defined on the basis of how its positive elements like demographic dividend, IT and software, manufacturing, agriculture, government initiatives (Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Startup India) etc, gel together effectively and grow. Adding to all these, focus on research, design and innovation, will further propel creation and development of new and emerging technologies and concepts. Specifically, Indian auto industry does have R&D capabilities, but it is mostly driven by foreign collaborations and partnerships. Moreover, Indian operations of most foreign auto makers rely on their global development centers when it comes to technological innovations. But the dynamics of the industry are shifting, and companies are mobilizing resources and assets towards design and development also, in addition to manufacturing. The change is also visible in the electric vehicle segment with a strong policy focus. Recent conference organized by NASSCOM and Autocar Professional was directed towards discussing the design, R&D and technology based future of the industry. Sameer Yajnik, COO-APAC of Tata Technologies, says, 'Indian engineers, thus far, have brought together just a few parts of the jigsaw puzzle in terms of vehicle development, but this is set to be transformed. With EVs, ADAS, autonomous, connected cars, et al, there are a slew of technology-driven changes that need to be responded to and India is an excellent place.' Patrick Newbery, Chief Digital Officer of Global Logic, says, 'Design and engineering work best when coupled together, and the Indian start-up ecosystem has displayed a good show of that already...Amalgamating design and engineering, as well as with its ability to innovate and create as a response-stimulus to change, India holds a strong place in developing new future technologies, where even the US would be looking outside to outsource these innovative solutions. There is more likelihood of innovation coming out of such environment.' Current spend in automotive engineering and R&D of Europe is 35%, that of US is 25% and, India's is at 10%. This is expected to triple in next 3 years. Sanjeev Verma, CEO of Altran India, says, 'India holds a very important place in the whole jigsaw and especially can play a great role in designing passive safety and IoT systems...With the whole ecosystem springing up now, the next three to four years are going to be extremely transformational for the development vertical in the Indian automotive sector.' Commenting on design in India, Raman Vaidyanathan of Tech Mahindra says, 'Indian engineering is bound to be more frugal, compared to the rest of the world because of the country’s legacy in being cost conscious. This is very positive as it implies that a good quality product, designed and developed to a cost in India could be produced in the emerged markets, while the reverse is going to prove rather expensive.' The challenge of skilled human resources in design and engineering in India remains. NASSCOM has started a foundation course in integrated product development that has reached 1000 colleges since CY2015. Government, academica and industry has to come up with integrated strategies that need to be applied to upgrade the knowledge and skills of graduates coming out of technology institutes and ensure success of design, research and development in India. Read on...
Beyond Make in India - Design and develop in India now imperative
Authors: Sumantra B. Barooah, Mayank Dhingra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2017
Industry experts are bullish on India's agriculture and suggest that it has potential to double farmer's income and grow exports to US$ 100 billion by 2022. Rajju Shroff, President of Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) and MD of United Phosphorus Ltd, says, 'Globally, exports in agricultural products is over US$ 1500 billion annually as per the latest data from WTO and India's share is less than US$ 35 billion at present.' According to the latest report by Centre for Environment and Agriculture (Centegro) and Tata Strategic Management Group, released by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, 'Agriculture's contribution to India's economy extends beyond the rural economy and encompasses many activities in manufacturing and services sector. Export surplus from the country's agricultural trade is higher than the corresponding figure achieved by the manufacturing sector.' Report urges the government to launch 'Grow In India' campaign to achieve gains in agri-exports with a single authority to monitor India's international agricultural trade. Report suggests that organic farming is not sustainable because of low yield and need for huge amount of unavailable manure. Mr. Shroff explains the dynamics of India's agricultural growth, 'This is all due to small and marginal farmers who deploy family labour and engage in intensive multi cropping all year round. They also manage livestock & poultry efficiently using agriculture waste as animal feed and to produce manure.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Agriculture exports may grow to $100 billion by 2022 - Experts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2017
Agriculture is a critical component of the economy and farmers are the nation's backbone. India's 2017 food-grains production is around 273.83 million metric tonne. World Bank predicts Indian food-grain production to reach 280.6 million metric tonne by the year 2020-21. Following are key areas that India's agriculture should pursue for growth and development - (1) Demand Strength: Large population is key driver of agrarian demand growth; Rise in urban and rural income; Increase export demand particularly from Middle-East and Central Asia. (2) Attractive Opportunities: Hybrid seeds; Chemical Fertilizers; Organic Fertilizers. (3) Competitive Advantages: High proportion of over 157 million hectares of agrarian land; Leads in production of jute, pulses, milk, buffalo meat export; Second largest producer of wheat and paddy. (4) Government Policies: Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana has led to development of various organic clusters with very low chemical dependency; Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana has also played a major role to irrigate the agrarian lands; Step towards unified agriculture market; 100% FDI under automatic route for development of seeds; Reduction in wheat import duty from 10% to almost zero and capping import limits to two lakh tonnes by importers in pulses. (5) Development Of Rabi And Kharif Seasons: Kharif season (Summer - April to September) mainly for paddy and Rabi season (Winter - October to March) for wheat production, have registered good growth. In March 2017, almost 64.5 million hectares of agricultural land were sown, out of which over 19 million hectares land was insured during Rabi season. More than 16.4 million farmers were benefitted by the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2017
According to the Economic Survey 2016-17 (Vol. II), employment in India poses a great challenge in terms of its structure, with it being dominated by informal, unorganised and seasonal workers. It highlighted the deceleration in hiring being faced by the IT-BPM (Business Process Management) sector. It said, 'The IT-BPM industry is also feeling the pinch of the global slowdown and global political uncertainties as clients go slow on their decision-making and investment processes.' The survey cited McKinsey report, saying that nearly half of the workforce in the IT services firms will be "irrelevant" over the next 3-4 years and the bigger challenge ahead for the industry will be to retrain 50-60% of the workforce with a significant shift in technologies. The survey also noted that the growth in digital tech like cloud-based services is happening at a much faster pace and the companies have to learn new technologies and reskill. It quotes 2016 World Bank report that said, automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while it threatens 77% in China. The survey added that skilled labour force is essential to meet diversified demands of a growing economy, to tap the benefit of demographic dividend. According to India Skill Report 2016, the present demographic advantage of India is predicted to last only till 2040. Read on...
Adoption of new technologies, reskilling key for job growth
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 may 2017
India's demographic dividend can only achieve full potential if its young population continues to update their skills, the private sector continues to upgrade its processes, technologies and management practices to remain profitable and growth oriented, and government continues to improve infrastructure, ease regulations to do business, and attract internal and foreign funds as investments in various industries and businesses. Approximately half of India's 1.2 billion people are under the age of 26. By 2020, around 64% of India's population will be in the working age group of 15-64 years, and it is forecast to be the youngest country in the world, with a median age of 29. Moreover, India is a US$ 2 trillion economy, growing at approximately 7% year on year. It has a strong domestic focus with approximately 75% of the GDP generated on domestic consumption. India's demographic dividend will work in favour of the Indian economy when its young, educated and healthy population, is trained, skilled and gainfully employed, giving rise to an upwardly mobile consumer class. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jan 2017
Economists from Deloitte, Richa Gupta and Rishi Shah, explain the emerging risks that India's economy faces - (1) Protectionist Trade Polices: G20s in 2016 took restrictive trade measures. Such policies create uncertainties as they are meant to provide immediate stimulus and therefore tend to be more variable and less consistent. In addition India, large importer of oil, also get affected by OPEC cuts and hardening prices. (2) Global Growth Faltering: Global growth is expected to pick up in current fiscal on a premise of US stability and higher growth, stable China and rebound in some emerging economies. China's policy of expected Yuan devaluation would affect India as it would mean depreciation of the domestic currency to maintain competitiveness. (3) Brexit and its Implications: Uncertainties and possibility of 'Hard Brexit' will impact India due to linkages in financial markets as adverse events would cause some outflow of funds. (4) Effect of Demonetisation: Expected 7.1% growth for FY17 would further get affected due to demonitisation that resulted in consumer's inability and hesitancy to spend. This will lead to short-term vicious cycle of lower expected consumption feeding into lower investment expectation. (5) Disruption on GST: Disruptions would emerge as the numerous small businesses learn to adapt to not only a new taxation system but also to an incremental digital framework for compliance with the new regime. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Five risks that may hamper India's economic growth
Authors: Richa Gupta, Rishi Shah
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 nov 2016
Opinions on India's demonetization policy vary from masterstroke to hasty and unplanned, and a lot of uncertainty in between. Some experts consider it as a 'short-term pain to long-term gain' scenario. Report from CRISIL, a credit rating agency, analyzes the impact of demonetization policy on the overall economy, both now and beyond - (1) Government revenues to increase, as people deposit more cash in banks and government gets opportunity to tax. (2) Fiscal deficit to narrow in medium to long-term. (3) Public investments to rise as a result of higher tax collection. More spending in infrastructure is expected. (4) Economy to grow in medium to long-term, while there is expected fall in GDP in short-term. In future, government spending will generate employment and income. (5) Inflation to fall near-term but in long-term minimal impact. (6) Increase in liquidity in banking system, an opportunity for banks to profit through lending. (7) Keeps the interest rates lower in long-term due to government's lower fiscal deficit. (8) Demand for gold will fall in short-term due to cash crunch. But in long-term gold hoarding will increase leading more gold imports and higher import bill which means a larger Current Account Deficit (CAD). (9) Digital payments will increase, enhancing the trend toward cashless economy. (10) Sectors affected include real estate, jewellery and cement, as most transactions are in cash. Luxury auto sector will also get impacted. Organized retail sector will benefit due to digital transations. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 oct 2016
Design is critical for national and industrial competitiveness. Prof. Sanjay Dhande, former director of IIT-Kanpur and chief mentor of design-centered Avantika University, explains the value of design in India's competitiveness for manufacturing and service industries, analyzes the evolution of design education and suggests how India can further develop design education to impart skills and training, and nurture creative talent that keeps it at the cutting edge of innovation and design. He says, 'By incorporating design, which by and large shapes our ideas better is inherent in our every act. We design, we create experiences to make the life of individuals more comfortable, information readily available, work more efficient, spaces more convivial, and in turn making peoples' life more meaningful...The government of India has initiated a consultee approach with industry and designers to develop the broad contours for a combined vision towards a design enabled Indian industry.' National Institute of Design was first setup in 1961 by Government of India based on the report on design education developed by American industrial designer duo Charles Eames and his wife Ray Eames. Since then, to fulfil the demand of growing design professionals, number of institutes have come into existence over the years, giving rise to a thriving design ecosystem. But to maintain high quality of design education is an obvious challenge. According to Prof. Dhande, 'Though with a faster-changing world even the standards in design education are very high. And the question remains around how can we remove the loopholes and sustain a high-quality education from a conventional structure?...There is a growing need to eradicate the redundancies in the traditional course curriculum. A strategic streamlining of the education structure which offers practice exposure encourages focussed learning is much required.' He suggests continously evolving and innovation directed approach to design education, starting with admission process, practical learning, quest for right faculty, learning environment and a specialization focus. He concludes, 'Innovation is essential to be able to adapt to, for creating that difference in Indian design education to help students work better in unpredictable market conditions and intense global competition. Incremental improvements by themselves will not do and hence the listed points will help address improve the quality of design training in India.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2016
According to the conditions set forth in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Law in India, all companies with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or revenue of Rs 1000 cr or net profit of Rs 5 cr should spend 2% of last 3 years average profit on charity work. CSR management firm, NextGen, studied the annual reports of the top 100 firms by market capitalizations on NSE (National Stock Exchange) for 2014-15 & 91 firms for 2015-16. The total spend on CSR activities for 91 firms is Rs 6033 cr for FY16, while it was Rs 4760 cr by 100 companies in FY15. According to Abhishek Humbad, co-founder of NextGen, 'More and more companies are realizing that not meeting 2% makes them look bad, and for large companies, it can turn out be a reputational risk.' The energy sector accounted for nearly 26% of the total CSR spending. Reliance was the largest spender in FY16, using 2.3% of its profit (Rs 652 cr) on education, health and other social activities. Jagannatha Kumar at chairman's office of RIL says, 'The amount spent on each of the focus areas varies on an annual basis depending on the scope of work for the year.' In FY16 RIL spend on healthcare halved to Rs 314 cr while on education it increased to Rs 215 cr from Rs 18 cr in FY15. According to Parul Soni of Thinkthrough Consulting, a CSR consultancy, 'Manufacturing companies like automotive have been well poised to do CSR because they focus on communities around their plants and it helps build engagement with local communities. Also, many of them are working in skill development.' Some of the top causes that corporates spend on are healthcare, poverty eradication, education, skill development, rural development, and environment. Noshir Dadrawala, CEO of Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, says, 'Skills have been trendy. These causes have seen an increase because many of the skilling initiatives instead of being classified as an education initiative is being put under providing employment and reducing poverty. Also when it comes to healthcare, conducting blood donation camps is a popular way of doing CSR as it is easy and effective.' Ravi Chellam, ED of Greenpeace, points out that environment is not a priority issue for most Indian corporates. He says, 'On environmental issues, companies seem to prefer to focus on either their own campuses or areas immediately surrounding their locations.' According to Loveleen Kacker, CEO of Tech Mahindra Foundation, '50% of all our CSR capital goes into empowering women and another 10% for the disabled. We believe that any development can happen in any of the areas - from nutrition to sanitation, only when women are empowered. And we feel only economic empowerment of women can bring about social empowerment.' The top geographical regions that were beneficiary of CSR funds for FY16 are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Vinod Kulkarni, head of CSR at Tata Motors Ltd, says, 'It is part of our policy to invest CSR funds in geographies in close proximity to our area of operation. It amplifies the outcomes and impact.' Arun Nagpal, co-founder of Mrida Group, comments, 'The reasons for firms to select geographies close to manufacturing plants or areas of work are valid but this leads to an imbalance in the division of CSR funding.' Read on...
Firms ramp up CSR focus on healthcare, poverty, hunger
Authors: Arundhati Ramanathan, Moyna Manku
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2016
Machine tools industry is critical for the success of 'Make in India' and 'Skill India' initiatives. V. Anbu, Director General of the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers' Association (IMTMA), explains, 'Machine tools are considered a strategic industry segment. It is part and parcel of manufacturing, particularly discreet manufacturing segments such as automobiles, defence, railways, plastic machinery, medical electronics and white goods.' GLOBAL SCENARIO: 'Japan and Germany are strong in production and degree of sophistication/technology level. Global production of machine tools is worth around US$ 84 billion. In volume, China leads the pack; in technological maturity, Germany and Japan are at the same level. China's machine tool production is about US$ 24 billion.' INDIA'S MACHINE TOOL INDUSTRY: 'The Indian machine tool industry will touch US$ 1 billion in 2016. We are looking at getting into high-end manufacturing in sectors like railways, defence and aerospace. Automotive will become bigger, while medical electronics is also expected to grow...India is the 10th biggest market for machine tools. Of the market size of Rs 10,300 crore, domestic production is worth Rs 4,500 crore, which is about 42%. India has limited capability when it comes to high-accuracy machine tools.' INDIAN GOVERNMENT'S ROLE: 'We need much faster, single-window clearances. We are also looking forward to results on GST, policy on land acquisition, and ease of doing business...The government must create a financial mechanism to allow Indian companies to acquire firms abroad.' ISSUES WITH INDIA'S MACHINE TOOL INDUSTRY: 'Technology-gap is one major issue. To have an efficient model or mechanism for companies, they need to improve their own technology. Supply-chain is another issue. Payments and taxation and procurement are the other issues.' SKILL GAPS AND ROLE OF IMTMA: 'We are looking at bringing depth to manufacturing which will help the end-user. IMTMA conducts about 150 training programmes all year. Over 35 companies have lent their support to this initiative...Broad domains that are covered include productivity, design, maintenance, and automation. Most programmes are on metal cutting. We have deliberately added a few topics on metal forming too.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 aug 2016
According to the latest OPPI-KPMG's 'Report on Healthcare Access Initiatives', India spends less on healthcare than most other middle income countries. It's total healthcare expenditure of about 4.1% of GDP is among the lowest in the world. The report highlights the following main gaps in India's healthcare - POOR HEALTHCARE INDICES: Life expectancy (68 years in 2015) one of the lowest among Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC); Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of 38/1,000 live births and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of 174/100,000 live births in 2015, highest among peer group. GROWING NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES (NCD) BURDEN: NCDs account for nearly 60% of deaths annually; Indian economy set to lose US$ 4.58 trillion by 2030 due to NCDs. INADEQUATE HEALTHCARE INFRASTRUCTURE: Number of hospital beds of 0.9 per 1,000 population is lowest among BRIC; 75% of dispensaries and 60% of hospitals are in the urban areas. NEED FOR MORE TRAINED HUMAN RESOURCES: Lowest number of physicians per 10,000 population among BRIC; 80% of doctors are in the urban areas serving only 28% of the population. POOR AVAILABILITY: In rural India, only 37% of people have access to In-Patient Department (IPD) facilities within a 5km distance, and only 68% have access to an Out-Patient Department (OPD). BURDENED CARE: Nearly 63 million people are in debt due to health expenditure; Nearly 1/3 of population is driven below the poverty line due to health expenses. INADEQUATE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: The government funds only 1/3 of health expenditure; Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spend on healthcare (4.1%) lowest among BRIC. POOR INSURANCE COVERAGE: Nearly 75% of population uncovered. Out-of-pocket (OOP) contributes close to 86% of private and 60% of overall healthcare expenditure. Report suggests a patient-centric approach to tackle India's healthcare challenges and points out that awareness and education can strengthen the four pillars (4As) of healthcare - Availability; Affordability; Accessibility; Acceptability. Utkarsh Palnitkar, Partner at KPMG, says, '...Only a long-term, proactive strategy with education and awareness at its centre, involving all stakeholders, i.e., healthcare providers, insurance companies and healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, can achieve the desired vision of a healthy country.' Shailesh Ayyangar, President of Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), says, 'Universal Healthcare is a social priority...India's healthcare strategy requires a holistic approach and a critical evaluation of our existing systems. We need sustainable policy solutions to address healthcare financing, infrastructure and human resource challenges.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
India's total healthcare expenditure at about 4.1% of GDP, among the lowest in the world - OPPI-KPMG report
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 aug 2016
The competition is heating up between the US technology giants, Google and Facebook, to provide internet access to India's substantially untapped market of 1.25 billion people. Google has already taken a slight lead by clinching a deal with Indian Railways to provide high-speed Wi-Fi services at railroad stations. These services are currently free but would become paid eventually. The number of users is presently about 2 million for the 23 stations that have the hot spots and is expected to increase to 10 million for 100 in future. After the earlier setback in 2015 for its Free Basics scheme that was struck down by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Facebook is getting back in the race by initiatives that provide internet services in the rural parts of India. The scheme is called Express Wi-Fi and streamlines the process through which people buy data allocations from local Internet service providers. Currently, it allows people to use their purchased data bundles through one of 125 rural Wi-Fi hot spots. Both companies seems to be looking at long-term stay in the Indian market and will monetize their services at the right time. The strong advertising model that both these companies have will finally make their efforts and investments profitable in future. Read on...
MIT Technology Review:
Facebook and Google Are Racing to Supply India with Internet Access
Author: Jamie Condliffe
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 aug 2016
According to a research paper by McKinsey Global Institute titled, 'India's Ascent: Five Opportunities for Growth and Transformation' [Authors: Noshir Kaka; Anu Madgavkar; Rajat Gupta; Shirish Sankhe; Jonathan Woetzel; Jacques Bughin; Ashwin Hasyagar; Shishir Gupta], there are five areas that could have a substantial impact on India's economy - (1) From poverty to empowerment: Acceptable living standards for all (2) Sustainable urbanization: Building India's growth engines (3) Manufacturing for India, in India (4) Riding the digital wave: Harnessing technology for India's growth (5) Unlocking the potential of India's women. But the paper suggests that this will require leaders at all levels - local, state and national - to adopt new approaches to governance and provision of services. Moreover, the government agencies must ramp up their capabilities to meet the enormous challenge. It's been 25 years since the economic liberalization process got started and India has been able to improve living standards of its citizens, but there is lot more to be done. The report explains, 'It (India) offers attractive long-term potential, powered largely by a consuming class that we expect will more than triple, to 89 million households, by 2025. The challenge for Indian policy makers is to manage growth in such a way that it creates the basis for sustainable economic performance. India's transformation into a global economic force has yet to fully benefit all Indians.' It further says, 'To achieve its full potential, the country will need to address deprivation using a new set of parameters that address quality of life and access to basic services. This is certainly within India's capacity, but it will require policy makers to promote an agenda that emphasizes job creation, growth-oriented investment, farm-sector productivity, and innovative social programmes so that the benefits actually reach the people who need them.' Read on...
Five areas that could have an impact on India's economy
Author: Pretika Khanna
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 jul 2016
According to the latest CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) survey of 200 Indian firms of varying sizes, the Business Confidence Index rose to 57.2 points in April-June of FY17, compared to 54.1 in the previous quarter. Indian companies are more confident in the first quarter of the current financial year about the macroeconomy and their own companies than any of the previous six quarters. But excess capacity is putting the brakes on these companies to increase their investments. Survey found the following key concerns of the Indian companies - Weak global recovery; Low consumption demand; High borrowing costs; Lack of political consensus on economic reforms. CII said, 'So far this year, price pressures have been on the rise due to increasing food and fuel costs and in expectation of the salary and wage increase of central government employees under the 7th Pay Commission. However, a normal monsoon may provide some relief from food inflation in the latter half of the year.' About 43% attributed the recovery in corporate sector to increased government spending, while 41% of the respondents attributed this recovery to increased consumption demand (private consumption expenditure). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jun 2016
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, 'Scaling New Heights: Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor, India's First Coastal Corridor' (Authors - Sabyasachi Mitra, Rana Hasan, Manoj Sharma, Hoe Yun Jeong, Manish Sharma, Arindam Guha), the service sector has been a driver of the Indian economy but the country needs to expand its manufacturing base - through initiatives like Make in India and the development of economic corridors - if it hopes to reach the next level of growth. Here are 12 main things to know about Indian economy, manufacturing and 'Make in India' - (1) India is the world's third largest economy. (2) Service sector is main driver of economic growth and contribute substantially to GDP. (3) India major exporter of IT, BPO, & software expertise through skilled workers. (4) Service sector employs less than 1/3rd of labor force. (5) India's manufacturing has lagged. Only 17% of GDP, while Malaysia has 24% and Thailand has 33%. (6) Manufacturing sector lags due to bad infrastructure, complex regulations, limited finance and inadequate supply of skilled workers. (7) Indian government recognizes that to spread benefits of economic growth, manufacturing sector need to be strengthened. (8) India seeks to increase manufacturing's share to GDP to 25% and create 100 million jobs within a decade. (9) Indian government is promoting 'Make in India' initiative and trying to attract global firms for investments through tax incentives and simplified regulations. (10) India is promoting manufacturing through development of economic corridors, routes along which goods and people move. (11) Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is the India's first and most advanced econoic corridor. (12) In line with 'Make in India', Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor is being developed as the first coastal economic corridor. Read on...
Manufacturing and Make in India - 12 Things to Know
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jun 2016
The Nikkei Services Business Activity Index, which maps the services sector activity, fell from 53.7 in April to 51.0 in May, pointing to a slight expansion in business activity which has been the weakest since last November. A reading above 50 represents expansion, while one below 50 means contraction. While, the Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index, which maps both manufacturing and services sectors, fell to a six-month low of 50.9 in May, from 52.8 in April. According to Pollyanna De Lima, economist at Markit, 'Latest PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) numbers raise doubts about the effectiveness of economic and monetary policies. The gloomy growth picture will be a concern to policymakers and will raise the chances of further cuts in interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This would be supported by subdued inflationary pressures, with May data pointing to weaker increases in both costs and charges.' Read on...
The Financial Express:
Services sector contracts for 2nd straight month in May
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 may 2016
India's healthcare is an opportunity that has room for growth for all - public or private, for-profit or non-profit, foreign or domestic entities. According to the latest CII-KPMG report, Indian healthcare sector is estimated to reach US$ 160 billion in 2017, accounting for about 4.2% of GDP. It is further expected to grow to US$ 280 billion by 2020. India currently spends only 1.05% of GDP on public health. Over the years, governments have tried to develop policies and have taken steps to provide better healthcare for its citizens. But India's large size, huge population (1.25 billion) and ineffective implementation at various levels, has created lop sided infrastructure and uneven development in healthcare. While bigger towns and cities have developed state of the art healthcare facilities, the rural part has lagged behind on multiple counts. Inspite of all the challenges, India is taking a stride into the next phase of healthcare, riding on technological advances, new financial models and corporatization of hospitals. Timely provision of healthcare assistance is the key to save cost and save lives. Multipronged strategy is the need of the hour. Technology, skilled and trained medical professionals, substantial investment and effective execution of best practices will help India provide what the today's citizens expect from the growing economy. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 may 2016
India's educational institutions need to ramp up their focus on research and innovation, in addition to quality of teaching, to improve their global rankings and stand at par with world's leading institutions. According to Prof. C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor of O. P. Jindal Global University and Dean of Jindal Global Law School, 'The reason why Indian higher education institutions constantly fail to feature in the annual world university rankings is because we have failed to appreciate the inter-disciplinary approach in higher education. In India, the gross enrolment ratio is less than 20% and the aspiration is to increase this to 30-40% in the next decade or so. Also, there is a high level of distrust between the government and the providers of higher education. We have a lot to learn for institution-building and there is a need for emphasising 'Making of India' rather than Make in India.' He further suggests, 'Widening the reach of education in the country, promoting research and world-class training programmes for academic administrators are some key measures needed to create a sustainable future for the country and its citizens.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 apr 2016
India's demographic dividend will reap full benefit only when it successfully nurtures its young population through integrated actionable strategies related to skills development, job opportunities in diverse areas and creating entrepreneurship ecosystems. The latest Asia-Pacific Human Development Report points towards challenges that India faces regarding availability of employment to the increasing population. The report released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that between 1991 and 2013, the size of the 'working age' population increased by 300 million while only less than half (140 million) could get absorbed in the workforce, suggesting limited capacity of the Indian economy to generate jobs. The report estimated that by 2050, at least 280 million people will enter the job market in India. Moreover, according to India's Ministry of Labour & Employment data, an estimated 1 million people enter the workforce every month, while many others choose to study further. At any given point, around 30 million students are pursuing higher education in India. The UNDP report includes India into countries that have large low-income population, big agriculture sector and high rural-to-urban migration, and suggests that India can focus on specific industries, particularly in manufacturing, to create jobs considering that its manufacturing base is still small, contributing to only 15% of GDP and 11% of employment. According to Professor N. R. Bhanumurthy of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, 'The creation of fewer jobs between 1991 and 2013 was largely because of the nature of growth the Indian economy experienced. It was mostly services-led growth with low employment intensity...The problem could be addressed if the government's effort to create more manufacturing jobs through programmes such as Make In India and Startup India fructifies.' India's large informal sector, which accounts for 84% of current jobs, adds to the workforce complexity and resulting challenges. The report suggests that measures need to be taken to tackle issues and concerns related to informal employment. The measures could include universal registration of workers; effective implementation of existing labour laws; formal binding guidelines for contracts between employers, recruiters and workers; reform and harmonization of major labour laws applicable to the industry; and reform of social security laws to allow more effective implementation. Read on...
India to see severe shortage of jobs in the next 35 years
Author: Asit Ranjan Mishra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2016
India's healthcare landscape is undergoing continuous transformation. Although there is substantial reduction in IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) and MMR (Maternal Mortality Ratio), but at the same time rising cost of healthcare for its citizens is a cause of concern. Public health spending has been reduced by government from 1.47% of GDP in 1986-87 to 1.05% in 2015-16. According to Vandana Prasad, national convener of Public Health Resource Network, '...We have made gains in maternal and child health by establishing public health systems in rural areas...' Health surveys by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) show that Indians are now more dependent on private healthcare and this trend is clearly visible if the figures of 42nd and 71st NSSO reports are compared - 60% availed public health services in 1986-87 and remaing went for private, while only 41% utilized public health system in 2015-16. Prof. Rajesh Kumar of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh, says, 'Out-of-pocket expenditure is the main cause of worry for the patients. A number of people fall from above poverty line (APL) category to below poverty line (BPL) category because of this. Nearly 70% of out-of-pocket expenditure is due to medicines...' Ravi Duggal, health economist at International Budget Partnership, points out how reduction in budgetary allocation to health by government affects public health system. He says, 'What this under-financing did was to reduce the credibility of public health institutions among general people. And doctors and nurses left the public health system, creating huge vacancies in primary health centres and public hospitals.' Other health-based challenges that India faces include the increasing burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. According to a 2014 report by the World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health, the economic burden of lifestyle diseases like heart diseases, stroke, pulmonary diseases and diabetes, account for about 40% of all hospital stays and roughly 35% of all recorded outpatient visits. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 apr 2016
Globally, women entrepreneurs are trying to find their place in the male dominated bastions of the private enterprises. In some societies they get equal opportunities to work their ways to succeed but in some others they have to continuously struggle to survive, as they are ignored and their quest is hindered and restricted. Even though India provides sufficient support for women to make their mark in entrepreneurship, but the recent numbers released by India's Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), paint a different picture. It should be a cause of worry as gender equity in all spheres is on India's inclusive agenda. Following are some highlights from the 'All India Report of Sixth Economic Census' by MOSPI on the state of women entrepreneurs - Women constitute only 13.76% (8.05 million) of the total entrepreneurs (58.5 million); Out of these entrepreneurs, 2.76 million women (34.3% of the total entrepreneurs) work in agriculture sector whereas 5.29 million females (65.7% of the total entrepreneurs) work in non-agricultural sectors; Among the states, the largest share in number of establishments under women entrepreneurship is of Tamil Nadu (13.51%) followed by Kerala (11.35%), Andhra Pradesh (10.56%), West Bengal (10.33%) and Maharashtra (8.25%); Average employment per establishment for women owned establishments is 1.67. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2016
Harvard University academics, Prof. Mark R. Kramer and Prof. Michael E. Porter, introduced the concept of 'Creating Shared Value (CSV)' in HBR (2011), as an approach that takes into account social problems which intersect with businesses and makes it a major part of the core business strategy of a company. In the context of India the approach is much more relevant as it is still struggling with numerous social issues like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, health etc. The academics feel that Indian businesses are still missing something in their view of long-term sustainabile business models. While speaking at 'Shared Value Summit 2015' in India, Prof. Kramer said, 'You cannot have a successful business in a failing society...for the CSV model to become a part of corporate hygiene anywhere needs major mindset change where we embrace a problem solving approach that goes beyond thinking what we can do in our company alone to also what we can do for society that we operate in.' He further explains that, 'CSV doesn't replace CSR and philanthropy, but can be in addition to them, such that businesses can find new opportunities for competitive advantage by beginning to think about these social issues as part of their overall corporate strategy.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2016
Government policies and budgetary allocations play an important role in building a business-friendly environment. Since startups are essential for growth of economic activity, they need to be nurtured during their early stages of development. Government has to provide facilitating ecosystem for entrepreneurial ventures and give special consideration in annual budgets. Indian government's campaigns like 'Make in India', 'Startup India', 'Digital India' and 'Skill India', are driven to stimulate economic activity and support local business development along with attracting global investments. To fulfil these ideas and particularly 'Startup India', Indian government's Budget'2016 should have specific allocations for startups. Following is the list of 19 entrepreneurs and their expectations from the budget - (1) K. Balakrishnan, MD & CEO, Servion Global Solutions: Provide necessary incentives, legal/tax framework and infrastructure support to IT and Electronics industry; Increase investments in broadband connectivity; Improved IT infrastructure and e-governance. (2) Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, Lybrate: Increase the tax holiday period from 3 years to at least 5 years; Profitable startups be charged less corporate tax; Benefit of tax rebate on healthcare expense should be for entire tax payer class and not just for salaried class. (3) Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-founder, ixigo: Tourism-friendly policies; Focus more on infrastructure and develop airports and provide better connectivity to smaller towns; Better definition for online aggregators and their taxation norms; Clearly define online marketplace. (4) Sobhan Babu, Professor at IIT Hyderabad and founder of Plianto Technologies: Support for startups in the tender bidding process with easy norms. (5) Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director of Bird Group and Member of CII National Committee on Civil Aviation: Draft aviation policy and development of airports in tier-I and tier-II cities is a positive step; Address challenges related to complex policies, aggressive price cuts, multi-tiered tax system and infrastructure deterring the true potential of the Indian aviation industry; Treat aviations sector as national priority. (6) Rohan Bhargava, Co-founder, CashKaro.com: Fund-of-funds and tax benefits for startups need to be implemented effectively; Set out clear and measurable timelines with minimal bureaucratic intervention; Provide clear tax policy that will address the complications of the current tax structure faced by ecommerce sites; Present GST roadmap. (7) Manish Kumar, CEO & Co-founder, GREX Alternative Investments Pvt Ltd: Fund-of-funds should invest directly in startups; Proposed US$ 1.5 billion in FoF is not enough to make impact; Remove 'angel tax'; Relaxation on capital gain tax; Explore alternative ways for raising funds like venture debt; Promote risk investing through proper framework for investor exit. (8) Geetha Kannan, Managing Director, The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) India: Expecting 'gender mainstreaming'; Integrate gender perspective to all relevant policies and initiatives; Special allocation for women entrepreneurs; Provide women-friendly facilities and infrastructure in '100 Smart City' initiative; Focus on women-safety; Get more aggressive on women-specific policies. (9) Ankita Tandon, Chief Operating Officer, CouponDunia: Minimal government or bureaucratic intervention in channeling startup funds; Further increase existing tax exemptions for startups; Better internet connectivity in tier-I and tier-II cities; Introduce tax incentives for startup employees to encourage youths to join startups. (10) Srikanth Reddy, Founder/Chairman, Palred Technologies & LatestOne.com: Encourage participation of Indian institutional investors in startups; ESOP/Sweat Equity shares should be taxed when they are actually sold. (11) Deepit Purkayastha, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Inshorts: 'Skill India' program should work with 'Startup India'; Maket investments to impart contemporary skills and entrepenerial education; Overhaul of university incubators; Exempt tax on angel investments and ESOPs and relaxed regime for startups to go public and launch IPOs. (12) Pushpinder Singh, CEO & Co-founder, Travelkhana: Announce separate railways startup policy; Include only the transportation cost on rail ticket with additional facilities like food, blankets etc kept as optional charges; Develop a system to utilize data generated by railways everyday. (13) Sanjay Sethi, CEO & Co-founder, Shopclues: GST should become a reality; Tax incentives for startup employees; Policy support for startups going for IPO. (14) Mohit Dubey, Co-founder & CEO, Carwale: Steps toward concrete vehicular pollution policy; Incentives and rebates for hybrids and less polluting vehicular technologies; Fuel policy towards global quality standards and encourage less polluting fuels. (15) Vipin Pathak, Co-founder & CEO, Care24: Easy FDI investment norms, licensing and startup support (tax, documentation, licensing, legal). (16) Manu Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Naaptol: Provide clarity to taxation laws relatd to online marketplaces; Better infrastructure and logistic systems like larger ports and transit systems are need to facilitate imports. (17) Hitesh Doshi, CMD, Waaree Energies: Push for solar manufacturing industry through fulfilling material's requirement locally; Encourage local production through incentives and implementation of anti-dumping policies; Investments in solar energy R&D and technology innovation; Policy reforms like that of depreciation benefits. (18) Amit Mishra, Co-founder & CEO, Quifers: Streamline tax on capital deducted at source like giving first year start-ups the benefit of tax exemption at source; Decreasing service tax by a certain percentage in the first year of operation; Giving out tax benefits and incentives to early stage investors. (19) Chirag Haria, CEO of Aarogyam Energy Jewellery: Utilization of India Post Rural Network with incentives on Cash on Delivery (COD) orders in Rural India, to help increase rural spending; Income tax benefits for individuals/trust investing in Gold Monetization Scheme to bring down gold imports; Increase Excise Duty exemptions from 1.5 crore to 5 crore to encourage small scale manufacturing and prevent black marketing. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 feb 2016
Experts at the international health conference, 'Delivering On the Promise of Universal Health Coverage in India: Policy Options and Challenges', suggested that India has to sincerely and immediately resolve the issues related to the healthcare sector. Over the years the sector has been neglected, policy decisions are influenced too much with politics and the sector was unable to provide quality services. According to Prof. T. Sundararaman, dean of School of Health Systems Studies at TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), 'The 12th Five Year Plan said it will be the health plan but soon after funds dried up.' Prof. Sundararaman mentioned some of the important issues adversely affecting the growth of the health sector - re-positioning the role of states, contradictory assessment of NRHM (National Rural Health Mission), contradictions in HR policy and a gap between expectations and reality in private sector engagement. Anjali Chikersal of Center for Policy Research said, 'The first thing we need is availability of data. India has critical shortage of manpower in the sector but we also have imbalances.' According to Ravinder Singh Duggal of Internatinal Budget Partnership, 'We are producing adequate number of doctors but we do not capitalise on that. India needs consolidated National Health Rights Bill as our approach to health is very fragmented.' Prof. Richard Cash of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health commented, 'India needs to learn from others, especially from those who share like experiences.' Ajith M. Sharan, Secretary at Ministry of AYUSH, added, 'We need to look at different kind of paradigm with more focus on paramedics.' Read on...
India needs to urgently resolve healthcare issues - Experts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 feb 2016
Make in India Week has now started in Mumbai and along with it India Design Forum (IDF) 2016 is developing strategies and advocating how a facilitating design environment and culture can be nurtured to enable growth of manufacturing. IDF is integrated into Make in India campaign's plan to demonstrate the potential of design, innovation and sustainability across India's manufacturing sector. Rajshree Pathy, founder of IDF, explains, 'Design is not merely about clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery, as is commonly believed. Those are incidental. Design is, in fact, at the heart of the manufacturing process. It is not a 'thing', it is a way of thinking.' Satyendra Pakhale, an Amsterdam-based designer, citing Tata Nano's example says, 'It is a good example of Indian design, which combined engineering innovations with a careful consideration for the demands of the domestic market. In fact, one of India's most famous qualities - jugaad - is indicative of an innovative mindset.' According to Simran Lal, CEO of Good Earth, 'It's important that we bring rural design and India's rural design communities along on this journey.' Time is now ripe for India to upgrade to a design-driven manufacturing ecosystem, attract global investments, partner with global corporations and manufacture for the world, but without losing the focus on serving the needs of the large local market. Read on...
The Indian Express:
Make in India Week - Putting design at the heart of manufacturing
Author: Pooja Pillai
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
A panel of health experts from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Public Health Foundation of India and the National Institute of Nutrition, recently demanded pictorial and health warning on junk food packets in order to provide information to people on health issues caused by them. According to Prof. Vandana Jain, in-charge of Division of Pedriatrics Endocrinology at AIIMS, 'We have recommended pictorial warnings on junk foods...or health warnings saying that this product contains fat and salt in excess of what is recommended or even a picture of liver may be put on pack indicating that consuming them may lead to fatty liver in children and adults.' Consumption of products with high sugar, fat and salt have adverse health implications and World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the best way to prevent obesity among children is to put restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Health experts demand pictorial warnings on junk food packets
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
According to the 2016 Best Countries Ranking of U.S. News, prepared in collaboration with Wharton School and BAV Consulting, India is included at top of the Movers ranking of countries with up-and-coming economies, and overall it is ranked 22nd. Prof. David J. Reibstein, who teaches marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and participated in developing the rankings, says 'Nations should pay attention to how they are seen by others, since enhancing these perceptions could create a large economic benefit. The experience of tourists is just one of the factors that colour those impressions, along with the experiences of customers, investors, followers of global news and social media, and what people hear from others.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 jan 2016
Technology-driven healthcare startups are finding new opportunities in India's mostly traditional healthcare system. But it is not an easy ride, with lack of digital orientation, policy and regulational scenario, slow pace of change in the healthcare industry etc. Simply put, these healthcare pioneers in India face more challenges than what the normal startups actually do. Mudit Vijayvergiya, Co-founder of Curofy, provides five most relevant challenges that all healthcare startups are broadly facing in India - (1) Slow Growth: Sluggish pace of growth of the industry is hard for survival. (2) Complex Industry: Complex rules and regulations can be obstacles for entrepreneurship and innovative thinking. Various policies are unclear and cause confusion at workplace. (3) Doctors are Tough: Miserable doctor patient ratio of 1:1700 and horrible 1:60000 in rural areas, make availability of doctors rare. Moreover digital healthcare is last on their mind. (4) Monetization: Slow growth of sector makes startups hard to monetize and to have a sustainable revenue model. Moreover social nature of the market and lack of financial ability of patients make it hard for private startups to make money. (5) Lack of Healthcare Mentors in India: Although India has large pool of trained medical professionals, but it has very few seasoned mentors and investors in the health-tech space to share their experience with entrepreneurs. Moreover track record of startups in healthcare is not very good either. Thus India currently lacks a win-win scenario for mentors, investors and entrepreneurs. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 dec 2015
The PPP Knowledge Lab of the World Bank defines a PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) as, 'A long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance.' Different countries are incorporating modified version of the definition in their laws depending upon their own legal and institutional framework. Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman of Cargill India, suggests a PPP framework for India's agriculture for sustainability and better rural development, in which the government provides and co-finance the back-end of the value chain, while the rest is done by the private sector and the farmers. Although India has made continued progress in food security, quadrupling its food grain production. But a lot more is desired as its crop yield still hovers between 30% to 60% of the best sustainable crop yields achievable in developed and some other developing countries. There is substantial room for increase in productivity and total output gains. Moreover India has some of the highest postharvest food losses due to poor infrastructure and unorganized retail. To overcome infrastructural and supply-chain inefficiencies, degrading of land and water, effects of climate change etc, India requires a collaborative multipronged strategy in the form of PPP to utilize technologically advance farming practices, build efficient supply chains and develop organized marketing and retailing. Mr. Chaudhry details the role of various PPP models that bring together all the stakeholders of the agricultural ecosystem for making India's agriculture as the engine of rural growth and development, to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and in addition be a major source of food for the world - (1) Investing in smarter value chains: Develop food processing industry. Provide farm extension services. Enhance price realization. Cut out intermediaries. Improve supply chain through forward and backward linkages. (2) Improving access to credit, technology and markets: Utilize advance information technology and biotechnology. Provide farmers agricultural knowledge and guidance. Develop high-yield, pest resistant crops. Enable better management of natural resources. (3) Building farmer resilience to environmental shocks: Provide financial security to farmers. Enable them to de-risk through insurance etc. Develop integrated value chains. He cites the example of Maharashtra government's PPP for Integrated Agricultural Development (MPPIAD), that was catalyzed by World Economic Forum's New Vision for Agriculture (NVA), to develop integrated value chains. Read on...
Making India's agriculture sustainable through PPPs
Author: Siraj Chaudhry
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 dec 2015
Recently published paper in The Lancet, 'Assuring health coverage for all in India' by a team of researchers (Vikram Patel; Rachana Parikh; Sunil Nandraj; Priya Balasubramaniam; Kavita Narayan; Vinod K. Paul; A. K. Shiva Kumar; Mirai Chatterjee; K. Srinath Reddy), explores India's healthcare delivery system and found structural deficiencies inspite of continuous efforts by the policy makers to improve it. Large healthcare disparities continue to exist from region to region and from section to section in society. The system is unable to cope with the enormous demand that is placed on it. Researchers suggest that India's healthcare sytem requires a radical transformation in its architecture if it wants to efficiently fulfil the vision of the government to provide affordable healthcare for all. Presently the skyrocketing cost of healthcare in India is driving millions of its citizens to poverty and it is one of the most disturbing indicator of the deficiencies in the healthcare system. According to Prof. Vikram Patel (Public Health Foundation of India and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), 'The health time-bomb ticks on due to the rising burden of non-communicable diseases. Suicide is now a leading cause of death for young Indians, and an Indian is likely to suffer from a heart attack at least ten years earlier than in developed countries and yet the health care system has barely responded to these urgent health crises.' Experts believe that insufficient and ineffective regulation on the private sector has led to corruption across the sector, with consequent poor quality of care and impoverishment of patients. The paper mentions that the single biggest impediment to a holistic approach to health governance in the country is the lack of convergence between ministries related to health, water, sanitation, and national vertical targeted programs. The authors argue that it is essential for the state to prioritise health as a fundamental public good, central to India's developmental aspirations, at par with education. The researchers argue that India's healthcare system not only need more resources but it requires an integrated national healthcare system, built around a strong public primary care system with a clearly defined supportive role for the private and indigenous sectors, that addresses acute as well as chronic health care needs. The paper recommends, 'In the immediate future, both the central and state governments should jointly launch a campaign to explain the principles and benefits of universal health coverage and engage with all concerned stakeholders in an atmosphere of a national mission. The role of communities and civil society is critical and they must be actively empowered to engage with this more radical vision of health care.' Read on...
The Asian Age:
India's healthcare in need of radical transformation
Author: Teena Thacker
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 dec 2015
United Nation's '2015 Climate Change Conference' is being held in Paris (France) where 196 countries are on the table to reach consensus on tackling climate change and contain global temperature rise and keep it below 2°C. The recent study, 'Climate Change and India: Adaptation Gap (2015) - A Preliminary Assessment', conducted by Prof. Amit Garg of IIM Ahmedabad, Prof. Vimal Mishra of IIT Gandhinagar and Dr. Hem Dholakia of Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), found that India would need over US$1 trillion from now until 2030 to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. The study identifies India's preliminary financial, technology, and knowledge gaps in adaptation, as well as capacity building and institutional needs. The study also estimates that about 800 million people living across nearly 450 districts in India are already experiencing significant increases in annual mean temperature going above 2°C warming pathway. For the whole of India the estimated increase will be 1-1.5°C in the near term (2016-2045). The implications would be disastrous for agriculture and crop production, and the effects could be more pronounced due to estimated increase in extreme precipitation events, resulting in flooding and significant damage to infrastructure. While commenting on the importance of the findings, Mr. Ashok Lavasa (Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), said, 'Supporting and enhancing the sustainable development of 1.25 billion people is at the heart of India's adaptation gap filling strategy. The fruits of development should not be lost due to increasing adaptation gap in the future.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 nov 2015
India's agriculture and farming products contribute to 15% of its exports (US$ 40 billion), 17% to its GDP, and employs nearly half of its total workforce. R. Gopalakrishnan, business leader and currently non-executive director at TATA Sons Ltd., suggests that policy makers should not ignore India's agriculture sector and bring it into the main policy agenda. The sector is in a great need for a business model innovation. Government programs like 'Digital India' can connect farmers through smart phones, 'Make in India' can work to enhance exports and 'National Skills Development Mission' can upgrade skills of the 260 million farming and agricultural workforce. Experts suggest that India has the potential to double its agricultural exports and increase its farm output by lesser but better trained workers. Senior scientist and director of the Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Narendra Pratap Singh, while explaining India's pulses crisis says, 'It is not lack of research as much as policy support that is currently missing in pulses.' Mr. Gopalakrishnan recommends innovative and intelligent approach to agriculture. Collaborative programs between the center and the states can bring the next green revolution. A research paper that Mr. Gopalakrishnan co-authored with Y.S.P. Thorat (former chairman and MD of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), titled 'Sarthak Krishi Yojana', suggests a coherent framework to transform agriculture and is inspired by the national industrialisation experiences through five pillars - technology, risk, institutionalisation, policy and skills. Read on...
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