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In-principle decision to open Janaushadhi Kendras at Railway Stations taken: Shri Suresh Prabhu
Jun 13,2017

Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar held a detailed discussion with the Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu for opening of Janaushadhi Kendras at Railway Stations and other Railway establishments.

Assuring firm support to the PMBJP scheme from Ministry of Railways side, Shri Prabhu informed the media persons that an in-principle decision to open Janaushadhi Kendras at Railway Stations and other Railway establishments has been taken during todays discussions. Railways being the largest employer in India, the amalgamation of efforts between the two Ministries for the percolation of generic drugs would increase their accessibility to the common man manifold, Shri Prabhu added.

Briefing the media on the outcome of the meeting, Shri Ananthkumar informed that the meeting was very fruitful and Shri Prabhu has extended full support from Railways to take ahead the vision of the Prime Minister. n++We will utilize the vast Railway Infrastructure to increase Accessibility of Cheap, Quality Generic Drugs for the common mann++, said Shri Ananthkumar.

Further, Shri Ananthkumar said that the Government is pursuing in full force the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, to make cheap and quality medicines accessible to all citizens of the country. The Minister added that currently over 1600 Janaushadhi Kendras have been opened in over 450 districts across India under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) and all the drugs available at these stores meet the WHO GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) benchmarks.

The Ministers have directed senior officers of the two Ministries to work out the modalities and the strategy for roll out of the plan in detail.

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Ind-Ra: Improvement in Aggregate Liquidity Profile of States
Jun 13,2017

India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) says aggregate liquidity position of the states has improved during FY16 (revised estimate (RE)) and FY17 (budget estimate (BE)). As the Reserve Bank of India is no longer publishing the information relating to the number of days of ways and means advances (WMA) facility being utilised by various states, Ind-Ra has computed a WMA utilisation ratio of states to analyse the liquidity position of the states. This WMA utilisation ratio, which bottomed out at 1.6x in FY10 rose to 5.1x in FY15. Thereon, it moderated to 4.2x in FY16 (RE) and was budgeted to soften further to 2.7x in FY17 (BE).

Notwithstanding the recent divergence, Ind-Ras analysis indicates states liquidity position broadly moves in tandem with their fiscal position in the medium-to-long term. Barring few exceptions, WMA utilisation by the states has broadly moved in tandem with their fiscal deficit/GSDP ratio. Moreover, WMA utilisation/GSDP ratio is on the higher side for highly indebted and fiscally weak states. On aggregate basis, states utilisation of the Reserve Bank of Indias WMA facility has varied between 0.2% and 0.6% of GDP since FY06.

The states use WMA facility to manage their short-term revenue and expenditure mismatches. It has been observed that states with higher deficit and/or debt depend more on WMA facility. Some of the states that have been depending heavily on the WMA facility are Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Nagaland, Punjab and West Bengal.

Ind-Ra believes the reasons for divergence between fiscal performance and liquidity conditions during FY16 (RE) and FY17 (BE) were due to enhanced liquidity provision for states from January 2016 and impact of Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana on states fiscal position.

Another aspect of states liquidity management is surplus management. Surplus cash of state governments is invested in auction and intermediate treasury bills. These investments enable the states to earn some return on surplus cash while managing their liquidity. While the above mentioned six states have a very low investment, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu budgeted to have the highest cash balance as at FYE17.

There exists divergence between states liquidity position and the payment track-record of the selected states power utilities. While some of the states have healthy liquidity position as evinced in their WMA utilisation ratios, the performance is not reflected in the states utilities. The vice-versa also holds true. While payment by state power utilities is not a direct obligation of state governments, disparity and delay in payment of dues by the utilities plague and often constrain the financial health of counterparties.

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Government emphasizes that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to roll-out on 1st July, 2017
Jun 13,2017

The Government of India has emphasised that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to roll-out on 1st July,.2017. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in coordination with the State Governments have increased their outreach programmes with regard to Goods and Services Tax (GST) so as to reach the last trader. The GST formations are being notified shortly. The window for migration to GSTN has re-opened to assist the remaining taxpayers. The preparations are in full swing for a smooth implementation of the landmark tax reform from 1st July, 2017.

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Government emphasizes that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to roll-out on 1st July 2017
Jun 13,2017

The Government of India has emphasised that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is scheduled to roll-out on 1st July 2017. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in coordination with the State Governments have increased their outreach programmes with regard to Goods and Services Tax (GST) so as to reach the last trader. The GST formations are being notified shortly. The window for migration to GSTN has re-opened to assist the remaining taxpayers. The preparations are in full swing for a smooth implementation of the landmark tax reform from 1st July 2017.

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Industrial production improves 3.1% in April 2017
Jun 13,2017

Indias industrial production (base year 2011-12=100) increased 3.1% in April 2017 over April 2016. Meanwhile, the growth for March 2017 has been revised upwards to 3.8% from 2.7% reported earlier. The manufacturing sectors production rose 2.6% in April 2017. Meanwhile, mining output moved up 4.2% and the electricity generation galloped 5.4% in April 2017.

As per the use-based classification, the primary goods output improved 3.4% in April 2017 over a year ago, but the output of capital goods declined 1.3%. The intermediate goods output moved up 4.6%, while the output of Infrastructure/ construction goods also increased 5.8% and consumer non-durable durables 8.3%. However, the production of consumer durable goods declined 6% in April 2017 over April 2016, while recording fall for fifth straight month.

In terms of industries, fourteen out of the 23 industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth in April 2017 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

Industrial production rose 5% in April-March FY2017, compared with 3.4% growth in the corresponding period last year. The manufactured product sector output improved 4.9%, while the mining and electricity generation improved 5.3% and 5.8% in April-March FY2017.

The industry group Manufacture of pharmaceuticals, medicinal chemical and botanical products has shown the highest positive growth of 29.1% followed by 17.9% in Manufacture of tobacco products and 9.5% in Manufacture of machinery and equipment.

On the other hand, the industry group Manufacture of beverages has shown the highest negative growth of (-) 19.2% followed by (-) 15.6% in Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers and (-) 14.4% in Manufacture of electrical equipment.

Some important items showing high positive growth during the current month over the same month in previous year include Digestive enzymes and antacids (incl. PPI drugs) (113.4%), Printing machinery (57.2%), Meters (electric and non-electric) (45.1%), Bidi (38.7%), Tea (33.8%), HR plates of mild steel (26.6%), Industrial Valves of different types- safety, relief and control valves(non-electronic, non-electrical) (25.2%), HR coils and sheets of mild steel (24.6%) and Steel frameworks or skeletons for construction of towers including pit props (21.3%).

Some important items that have registered high negative growth include Shelled cashew kernel, whether or not processed/ roasted/ salted (-) 72.9%, Axle (-) 60.3%, API & formulations of hypo-lipidemic agents (-) 44.8%, Rice (excluding basmati) (-) 39.9%, Plastic jars, bottles and containers (-) 39.7%, Air filters (-) 31.9%, Tooth Paste (-) 31.8%, Air/ gas compressors of all types (incl. compressors for refrigerators) (-) 31.6%, Stainless steel utensils (-) 29.6%, Commercial Vehicles (-) 28.8%, Aerated drinks/ soft drinks (incl. soft drink concentrates) (-) 26.5%, Beer & other undistilled and fermented alcoholic liqueurs other than wines (-) 26.1% and Vaccine for veterinary medicine (-) 24.2%.

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51 EMR Schools made Functional during The Last three years
Jun 13,2017

Ministry of Tribal Affairs has actively initiated various efforts during the last three years to make more Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) functional. As a result, 51 new EMRS were made functional during the last three years. 161 EMR Schools are functional right now, while this figure was at 110 in the year 2013-14. More than 52 thousand tribal students are taking education in 161 EMR Schools of 26 States.

Eklavya Model Residential School Scheme was started in 1998 and first school was started in the year 2000 in Maharashtra. A total of 259 schools have been sanctioned during the last 17 years, out of which, 72 EMRS were sanctioned during last three years. EMRSs have been functioning as institutions of excellence for tribal students. Results of these schools have been generally better than other Government schools in the tribal areas. Average pass percentage of students in Class Xth and XIIth in these EMRS is above 90%. Many EMRS students have been reported to be faring well in higher studies and competitive examinations.

In order to further educational opportunities for more ST children, Government seeks to extend the facility of EMRSs in all the 672 Blocks where ST population is more than 50% of the total population in a span of next five years.

As per existing EMRS Guidelines of 2010, at least one EMRS is to be set up in each Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) / Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) having 50% ST population in the area. The capital cost for setting up the school complex, including hostels and staff quarters etc. has been earmarked at Rs. 12 crore with a provision to go up to Rs.16 crore in hill areas, deserts and islands. Recurring cost during the first year for these schools would be Rs. 42000/-per child, with a provision of raising it by 10% every second year to compensate for inflation etc.

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CPI inflation dips to 2.18% in May 2017
Jun 13,2017

The all-India general CPI inflation dipped to fresh record low of 2.18% in May 2017 (base 2012=100), compared with 2.99% in April 2017. The corresponding provisional inflation rate for rural area was 2.30% and urban area 2.13% in May 2017 as against 3.02% and 3.03% in April 2017. The core CPI inflation eased to 4.14% in May 2017 from 4.44% in April 2017. The cumulative CPI inflation was lower at 2.58% in April-May FY2018 compared with 5.61% in April-May FY2017.

Among the CPI components, inflation of food and beverages dipped to (-) 0.22% in May 2017 from 1.29% in April 2017 mainly contributing to the dip in CPI inflation. Within the food items, the inflation slipped for vegetables to (-) 13.44%, pulses and products (-) 19.45%, fruits 1.40%, spices 0.52%, cereals and products 4.81% and prepared meals, snacks, sweets etc 5.17%. The inflation also declined for milk and products to 4.56%, sugar and confectionery 9.84%, oils and fats 2.70%, egg 0.72% and non-alcoholic beverages to 2.66%. The inflation was nearly flat for meat and fish at 1.87% in May 2017.

The inflation for housing was steady at 4.84%, while that for miscellaneous items dipped to 3.81% in May 2017. Within the miscellaneous items, the inflation for transport and communication eased to 3.46%, personal care and effects 3.27%, education 4.90% and health 3.80%, while it rose slightly for household goods and services to 3.97% in May 2017.

The inflation for clothing and footwear eased to 4.41% in May 2017, while the CPI inflation of fuel and light dipped to 5.46% in May 2017.

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Indian electronics market expected to reach $400 billion by 2020: study
Jun 13,2017

The demand of electronic products in India is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 41% during 2017-2020 to reach USD 400 billion by 2020, the domestic production which is currently growing at a CAGR of 27% may touch USD 104 billion leaving a huge gap for import to the extent of USD 300 billion, according to the joint study brought out by ASSOCHAM and NEC.

A joint study undertaken by NEC Technologies and ASSOCHAM reveals, India is becoming home to a growing middle class population. Increasing disposable income has led to increased consumer demand for electronics products specially advanced TVs, mobile phones and computers. This surge in demand is huge which shows a positive outlook for the industry.

However, what needs to be addressed to meet governments vision of turning India into a manufacturing hub is the domestic production. Demand for electronic products in India is poised for significant growth in the next few years, driven by a strong economic outlook. The Indian electronics and hardware market grew by 8.6% YoY to reach USD 75 billion in 2015, driven by rising local demand. The worldwide electronics industry was valued at around USD 1.86 trillion in 2015, noted the study.

Electronics industry valued at USD 1.75 trillion is the largest and fastest growing industry in the world, highlighted the study.

Indias total electronics hardware production 2014-15 is estimated at USD 32.46 billion. This represents a share of about 1.5 per cent in world electronic hardware production. The domestic consumption of electronic hardware in 2014-15 was USD 63.6 billion out of which 58% was fulfilled with imports. With demonetization adding to the demand for POS devices and mobile phones, this demand is going to increase manifolds.

The investments in electronic manufacturing which was just INR 11,000 crores in June 2014, has increased exponentially to INR 1,27,880 crores in 2016. This is also due to the Governments efforts to create an enabling policy ecosystem in the sector bringing through initiatives like Make in India and Digital India and providing special focus to schemes like the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) and Electronic Development Fund (EDF).

However, even though there are signs of promising growth, the local production of electronic products has to be increased significantly to meet the domestic demand. The industry suggest the government to focus on both infrastructural as well as at the policy level, increased emphasis has to be provided for increasing the percentage of local component manufacturing in India. Simplifying the complex regulatory structure for making compliance easier for new entrants and developing a participatory approach, where all the stakeholders are involved in the policy making process.

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Atal Pension Yojana (APY) included under Section 7 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016
Jun 12,2017

With an objective of bringing in transparency, efficiency and to enable beneficiaries to get their entitlement directly in a convenient and seamless manner, Aadhaar card has been constituted as the primary document in identification of the beneficiary under the Aadhaar Act which came into effect from 12th September 2016.

Atal Pension Yojana (APY) has now been included under the Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act. As per the provisions of the Act, any individual who is eligible to receive benefits under the APY will have to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo enrolment under Aadhaar authentication. A copy of the notification is attached.

Accordingly, an APY subscriber will have to get the Aadhaar number recorded in his or her APY pension account and also in his/ her savings account where the periodic pension contribution instalments are debited and government co-contribution is to be credited. In case a subscriber is not yet having an Aadhaar card, he/ she should immediately get him/ her enrolled for the Aadhaar card for which he or she can visit the nearest Aadhaar enrolment centre. The list of all such centers is available on UIDAI website,

PFRDA has identified nearly 12.35 lakh subscribers who are eligible for Government of India co-contribution for an amount upto Rs 1000 for the financial year 2016-17 which will be released to the eligible subscribers savings bank accounts which are seeded with Aadhaar. These subscribers are advised to approach their Bank or Postal Branch for seeding their Aadhar Number.

In the recent times, various new initiatives like online viewing of Statement of Transactions (SOT) and online PRAN card under APY have been taken up by PFRDA for facilitating subscribers under the scheme.

Atal Pension Yojana currently has more than 54 lacs subscribers with an asset base of more than Rs. 2,200 crores.

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Let farmers, rural landscape partake in services economy, raise income: ASSOCHAM
Jun 12,2017

Economic hardships of farmers and the entire rural landscape with near about 70 per cent of the population can be mitigated only when their claim on national income is substantially increased from a mere 17 per cent, which is possible by taking key service sectors like trade, hotels, transport and housing to the hinterland through massive investment in rural infrastructure, an ASSOCHAM Concept Note has said.

Of Indias total income, measured by the Gross Value Addition (GVA) of Rs 136.69 lakh crore for 2016-17, the share of agriculture, forestry and fishing was just about Rs 23.72 lakh crore or 17 per cent.

n++In other words, of the total national income (GVA based) close to 70 per cent of our people got just a slice which is less than one-fifth of the cake. This defies social equity and is economically unsustainable. Though migration continues from rural to urban areas, our cities are choked and hardly have any more absorption capacity. The answer lies in revisiting in all sincerity the laudable idea of former President late APJ Abdul Kalam-(Providing Urban Amenities and Rural Areas).

n++Creation of rural infrastructure like roads, broadband telecom, financial services through technology based inclusion would lead to substantially enhanced economic activities in the rural landscape and result in a big jump in their income,n++ said the ASSOCHAM Concept Note, authored by senior political -economic analyst and commentator Prakash Chawla.

In the total services pack, the trade itself contributes a major portion. Though Indias consumption demand is significantly driven by the larger proportion of the population in the rural and semi-urban areas, the multiplier impact remains restricted as the purchasing power of the people there is just one-fifth of the total national resource. n++There is a limit. How much multiplier can you have with just about 17 per cent of the national income at the hands of those 70 per cent living in the villages; but imagine the kind of a trigger which can be generated by raising their income. If we double their income in the next 5-7 years which is possible through integrating the city based services economy to rural India as well, the countrys Gross Value Addition and then the Gross Domestic Product can be enhanced to well above USD 3.5-4 trillion in the same periodn++. The entire great India consumption story so often parroted by the stock market analysts could be realised effectively.

Commenting on the hardships of the farmers, the ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S Rawat said, n++In most of the developed world, the countryside is much more prosperous than the cities. This is eminently possible even in our country. It all depends how soon the governments both at the Centre and states can create the required infrastructure in terms of all-weather motorable roads, electricity, telecommunication, hospitals, schools to villages, tehsils and other semi-urban clustersn++.

Given the cultural, geo-climatic diversity of our country, even small hotels and motels can spring up on the highways, state express ways and even in interiors if each of states takes up promoting short-duration tourism in the earnest. n++ Lakhs of personal vehicles from big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Ahmedabad and other big cities crowd the holiday get-aways nearby during the week ends. Why should rural tourism not be promoted, for which the state governments must follow pragmatic policies like easy land use change and other clearances. Such propositions would generate a real multiplier for the employment in the rural areasn++ the concept note suggested.

Same is true about schools, hospitals, dispensaries. n++Once the basic infrastructure for a good life is created, the hesitation on the part of doctors and teachers to work in rural areas would also go away. Kerala is a good example of integrating cities with small towns and villages. As they say, there are no villages in Kerala.n++

Services, including construction, real estate, transport contribute near 40 per cent to the countrys GVA and their participation in the rural economy is indispensable though efforts to increase share of manufacturing in the economy must also continue on a parallel track.

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Deal with NPAs in flexible, pragmatic way: ASSOCHAM
Jun 12,2017

Reviewing the state of economy, ASSOCHAMs Managing Committee, the top most organ of the apex chamber, has most urgently and strongly impressed upon the government and the RBI to take a pragmatic approach while resolving the complex issue of non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banks so that the same can be nursed back to health and the biggest hurdle to growth is removed.

It also expressed concern that the RBI, in its credit policy review, has missed yet another opportunity to lower the policy interest rates and help revive the industrial and overall economic growth.

n++The national wealth is not segregated into private sector or public sector resources. Whatever the circumstances, most of which beyond the control of the promoters, might have been, all out efforts must be made to resurrect the stressed or non-performing assets. It will be only when a realistic assessment of the state of the stressed or NP assets is done and commercial decisions are taken by the banks or other intermediaries without fear of being haunted that the gigantic problem could be resolved, the ASSOCHAM said, airing the collective views of its Managing Committee comprising countrys top industrial houses, professional bodies and organisations representing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The ASSOCHAM President Mr Sandeep Jajodia said, the terms of different schemes for resolution of the NPAs should be flexible and liberal enough to be accommodative, rather than being rigid. n++Once an account is turned into NPAs, the avenues for working capital are choked which hastens the curtains on the enterprise. Thus, whatever chances are there for survival and revival of a stressed enterprise or a project, are gone once the working capital requirements are not met.

He said there are several incomplete projects, especially in the real estate sector, where the developers have run out of cash at a stage where the projects are almost near completion. With little more cash, the projects can be completed and handed over to those who have booked the same; it could be win : win for all the stakeholders: families or entities which booked the flats or commercial space, developers and the banks. But the banks need to be supportive and the government must encourage them.

He also said, for converting standard account into an NPA, the 90 - day limit for non-payment of interest or principal should not be treated sacrosanct. n++Because, the moment an account becomes an NPA, all finance channels are chocked. Besides, the NPA resolution would also lead to cleaning up of the bank balance sheets. The RBI itself has underscored the need for revival of the banks health and uptick in the private sector investment.

The Managing Committee also said that as indicated by the latest data of GDP for the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal, the NPAs and the lack of private sector investment are the biggest road blocks for the economic growth. Unless we bring a sustainable growth of at least 8-9 per cent across the spectrum, we will not be able to generate jobs; so the stakes are high.

Besides, the interest rates need to come down further with inflation at the retail level staying below three per cent. Moreover, full transmission of the policy rates should be ensured. While the bulk of the deposits have been mobilised by the banks at the CASA (Current Account Saving Account) of 3-4 per cent, most of the borrowers are charged a double digit and plus rates. Such a large gap cannot be justified and are a big drain on the balance sheets which are under heavy leverage.

The top policy making body of the chamber also took note of the July 1 roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax. While, the GST would no doubt be a game-changer for the Indian economy over a medium and long term, the teething troubles cannot be ruled out. The tax authorities have so far been quite supportive and we hope that even after July 1 a friendly approach towards the tax-payers would be followed with a common objective of making GST a success. The unintentional lapses should be dealt with in a friendly manner rather than in an adversarial way.

The chamber also expressed optimism that the Monsoon would be normal this year as well, and the agriculture would remain a major trigger for growth. However, farmers should be equally helped for an overall development of the economy. The policy and fiscal support along with active involvement of the state governments would go a long way in improving the lot of the farmers, the chamber President said.

He also said a close watch needs to be kept on the unfolding and somewhat uncertain geo-political situations in the Middle East, while new situation in the US should be met with new solutions. At the same time, India must also be pro-active in dealing with the post-Brexit scenario both with the United Kingdom and the European Union.

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Depression over northwest & adjoining northeast Bay of Bengal intensified into deep depression and crossed Bangladesh coast
Jun 12,2017

The depression over northwest & adjoining northeast Bay of Bengal moved north-northeastwards with a speed of about 30 kmph in past six hours, intensified into a deep depression and crossed Bangladesh coast near Khepupara between 0430 and 0530 hours IST of today, 12th June 2017. It lay centered near Latitude 22.5n++N and Longitude 90.5n++E over south Bangladesh & neighbourhood about 60 km northeast of Khepupara (Bangladesh) and 170 km south-southwest of Agartala. The system is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards and weaken into a depression during next 12 hours.


(i) Heavy Rainfall warning: Rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places is very likely to occur over Assam & Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura during next 24 hours and heavy rainfall at isolated places during subsequent 24 hours. Rainfall at most places with heavy rainfall at isolated places is also very likely to occur over coastal districts of north Odisha and West Bengal during next 24 hours.

(ii) Wind warning: Squally winds speed reaching 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph would prevail along & off north Odisha and West Bengal coast during next 12 hours. Strong winds of order 30-40 kmph gusting to 50 kmph would prevail over Assam & Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura during next 48 hours.

(iii) Sea condition: Sea condition would be very rough along & off north Odisha and West Bengal coasts during next 12 hours.

(iv) Fishermen Warning: Fishermen along & off north Odisha and West Bengal coasts are advised not to venture into sea during the same period.

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Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) signs Agreement with the Metal Industries Development Institute (MIDI), Ethiopia
Jun 12,2017

Keeping in line with Prime Minister Modis stress on stronger and long-term cooperation between African countries and India for mutual benefits in the areas of agriculture, women empowerment, rural development, infrastructure etc., while addressing the annual meeting of African Development Bank at Gujarat recently, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has entered into an agreement with the Metal Industries Development Institute (MIDI), Ethiopia to implement a twinning programme. The same is aimed at R&D capacity building of MIDI. CSIR has clinched this multi-million US dollar assignment through a process where many international organisations were considered. The twinning is one of the largest programs (in terms of contractual amount) between a CSIR institute and a foreign entity. It should also facilitate CSIRs future collaborations with African Organizations.

Dr. Girish Sahni on the occasion said that the knowledgebase of CSIR in the identified areas could be of immense importance for leveraging the technology capacity of African countries. He invited the industry to join hands with CSIR and its counterparts in respective African countries to deploy the technology for benefitting the masses in the region.

The agreement was signed by the Director of National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur (CSIR-NML) on behalf of the participating CSIR Laboratories, and the Director General of Metals Industry Development Institute (MIDI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. CSIR will enhance the capacity and capability of MIDI under the twinning arrangement and thereby enable it to contribute more efficiently towards the development of Metals and Engineering sectors in Ethiopia and thus enhance their competitiveness. The MIDI will be positioned to emerge as a globally competitive center of excellence in the field of Metals and Engineering, through the twinning programme.

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ASSOCHAMs six point growth agenda for State - Study
Jun 12,2017

Apex industry body ASSOCHAM has submitted a six-point innovative five-year-development agenda to the Chief Minister Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath to serve as a quick guide to the areas needing interventions to help new government focuses its energies for growth of the state.

The Action Agenda was jointly prepared by ASSOCHAM and Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI).

The study has recommended a slew of measures for making Uttar Pradesh a vibrant economy with a focus on skill development, agriculture, horticulture, handicraft, handloom, leather and leather products.

Suggesting an economic road map for the next five years to the Yogi Adityanath Government, the study noted that the net migration of people in the age-group of 20-29 years was found to be 58,34,000 between 2001-11 up from 29,55,000 in 1991-2001. The net migration is more than double that of the next state in the pan-India list - Bihar. Besides, it is not always that only illiterate and labour class migrate; often highly skilled talents are also lost to migration.

Monitoring and management centres of the State Skill Development Mission should be set up at district level. Focus of skilling programme should be on high growth areas such as agriculture, building and constructions, handloom and handicraft, food processing, healthcare, leather and unorganised sector - beauty culture, security guards, facility management etc, adds the paper.

District-specific policies for skilling and livelihood generation in migration-hit regions should be formulated. Focus of skilling should be on trades in which they gain employment outside the state construction, (ii) organised retail, (iii)transportation (drivers) to help them gain competitive advantage, highlighted the study.

Economic growth of Uttar Pradesh is critical for India since it is the most populous state as well as home to the most number of poor - 17% of the total population and 22% of the total poor (Census 2011). An economically stronger Uttar Pradesh with its huge market can be an engine of growth for rest of the country.

The states economic growth (GSDP) has been, for most of the time in the past decade, lower than the national average. This lower growth has been accompanied with a higher population growth. Its decadal growth in population between 1991 and 2001 was 25.8%, as against the national average of 21.3% and that between 2001 and 2011, it was 20.9% against the national average of 17.64%, noted the study.

If we look at the sectoral composition of GSDP, it is the services sector which drives the growth and contributes about 60% to the total income. This is followed by agriculture and allied activities, contributing more than 20%. The industries contribute the least, reflecting poor industrial activities in the state.

There is, therefore, a need to rework the states strategies towards improving public investment and encourage private participation in agriculture and allied activities. Not only is there need to catch up with the higher productivity level of Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu in food grains by providing improved seeds, training farmers to adopt modern and scientific practices, but there is also a need to pay attention to neglected crops like sugar, maize, groundnut, fruits and vegetables in terms of availability of improved seeds and marketing facilities. Promoting bio-technology and genetic engineering could help. Since farming is rain-dependent, the priority should be to develop community-based surface water irrigation.

The states industrial sector is driven by the small and medium scale industries - contributing about 60% of total manufacturing output and significant employment (about 60 lakhs). The states strategy of setting up industrial clusters has produced rich dividend and should be continued. However, poor marketing linkages and skill level are lingering concerns which needs to be addressed. Common skilling centres for a group of product cluster in modern design, production management, sales and marketing, inventory management and soft skills would help.

The state should also focus on the development of integrated industrial towns (NIMZs) in Auraiya and Jhansi,setting up of Dadri-Noida-Ghaziabad Investment Region, IT Investment Region (ITIR) along Agra-Lucknow expressway and mega food park in Jagdishpur - all are either proposed or cleared. More such projects could be taken up.

Finance is a major concern, especially for SSIs and MSMEs, since long term loans are not available in the existing financing channels. There is a need to revive the erstwhile state industrial development corporations. FDI inflows have been meagre, in comparison to states like Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka and Gujarat. It is important that the state studies the FDI policies of those states and tweaks its own policies accordingly and take steps to improve ease of doing business to attract more investment.

The services sector has been doing well and driving the states growth but there is a greater potential to grow, especially in education and health services, given the poor state of affairs in these areas. The budget allocations need to at least double to catch up with the rest of India in terms of coverage. Low literacy base, high drop out of students, poor student-teacher ratio and lack of adequate higher education institutions should be addressed by roping in private and voluntary sectors.

Tourism is another area in which growth prospects are high but require significant investments. Encouraging private sector to build hotels, recreation facilities and development of civic facilities in existing tourist destinations and developing new tourist centres to attract tourists to religious and historical places and wildlife sanctuaries/parks could pay rich dividend.

Infrastructure has emerged as a major constraint for growth. The states power shortage was highest in India in 2015-16 (12.5%). The per capita consumption of power is nearly half the national average. The state needs to revisit its 2009 energy policy to bring greater participation of the private sector, improve transmission and distribution through modernisation and cut in AT&C loss (about 50%). Efforts should also be made to complete the ongoing projects since about 68% of all power sector investment are under implementation stage.

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Punjab should invite top global universities, focus on food processing, industrial hubs, says ASSOCHAM in presentation to CM
Jun 12,2017

Offering itself to be a Value Partner in the development of Punjab, ASSOCHAM suggested to the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh that tens of thousands of students, boys and girls migrating abroad for quality higher education can be provided the top global standards of learning here, if well known foreign universities, particularly from the US, Canada and UK are roped in to set up their campuses in India.

n++We have suggested that since not all students aspiring for quality education can afford to go abroad and there are limited number of A-grade institutions within the country and the state, Punjab should take a lead and collaborate with some top foreign universities, preferably from the Canada, UK and the US,n++ ASSOCHAM president Mr Sandeep Jajodia said after his meeting with Captain Amarinder Singh along with chambers secretary general, Mr D S Rawat, Chairmen of ASSOCHAM Regional Council Mr. A S Mittal and ASSOCHAM Punjab State Committee, Mr. Suneet Kochhar here today.

n++We should allow them to set up full-fledged campuses here, which would mean that the best of education can be imparted within the country at one-third or one-fourth of the cost which is spent by the aspiring students,n++ he said.

n++Though the policy parameters for opening doors for foreign universities largely fall within the purview of the Centre, states like Punjab can take a lead in working with the Union Government to bring the best of the foreign universities within the country,n++ added Mr Jajodia.

n++The favourite destinations for students and young professionals are Canada, the USA, UK and other European countries. While, the state surely gets remittances, those choosing to stay within the country and the state are bereft of adequate opportunities in upgrading their skills, education and gainful employment,n++ he said further.

Supplementing the point, ASSOCHAM secretary general, Mr Rawat said, n++Quality education would open up several opportunities and lead to industries, especially those in high-end manufacturing, agro-industries, food processing, information technology, health services, financial services to invest in Punjab.n++

The ASSOCHAM chief said there are several other areas which give distinctive advantage to Punjab and in all these areas, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can be roped in to be part of the overall supply chain, rather than operate in isolated manner.

For instance, the organised retail need not always be big time hyper stores; the neighbourhood kirana shops can become part of a well-integrated supply chain with the help of modern IT applications. Likewise, SME traders and manufacturers of textiles in Ludhiana need to remodel their businesses with the help of the state government and policy support of the Centre, in terms of becoming more cost competitive and quality-oriented.

n++If gainfully utilised, the biggest resource for Punjab is its youth who need employment outside agriculture into different sectors viz., industry, trade, health, education, transportation, food processing, dairy products and tourism. All these sectors need a re-look and infrastructure support along with friendly policy environment,n++ Mr Jajodia said.

Sectors like food processing and dairy products would be transformational for the farmers and entire rural landscape. Besides cooperatives, the private sector entrepreneurs should be involved in the value-additions in the entire agri-chain. n++Here, there are some examples to be replicated by the successful NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) who can be roped in to look back and handhold the budding entrepreneurs.n++

n++The traditional industrial hubs like Jallandhar should be given a lift-up with liberal infrastructure support, particularly for SMEs. These cities can be catalysts again for re-invigorating the industrial development while cities like Patiala should reach out to top notch foreign universities. While the policy has to be dealt largely with the Central Government, Captain Saheb can take up the issue with New Delhi and get the policy re-aligned. In the process, not only Punjab but other states would also gain,n++ said the ASSOCHAM president.

When it comes to the states agricultural economy, water management is key. It appears to be a somewhat paradox that while Punjab is considered to be a land of rivers, its dependence on groundwater has been rather excessive, leaving the negative fall-outs like toxicity. The state should work closely with the Centre and work out some large irrigation and water management projects which can help both the hinterland as also cities for the drinking water.

On tourism, while religious tourism is on top the chart, with Punjab being the land of the revered Gurus and the holiest Golden Temple, the state can become a major centre of other opportunities like conferences, conventions including those from the government agencies and India Inc.

Cities like Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jallandhar, Mohali should be promoted for organising meetings, conferences by the private sector companies. ASSOCHAM would like to work with the state government in this regard.

Mr Jajodia said ASSOCHAM would be happy to partner with the Punjab Government to hold Invest in Punjab events supported by expositions in different sectors.

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