Weekly Indian Economic & Commercial Report (27th April – 3rd May 2020)

Source: IBEF News Letter 

Team led by IIT Bombay student develops low-cost mechanical ventilator Ruhdaar
27.04.2020

The Government has said that “the COVID-19 infection curve has begun to flatten and that the outbreak is under control”.

According to the Health Ministry, among those getting infected, around 80 per cent will experience only mild illness, around 15 per cent will need oxygen support and the remaining 5 per cent who get critical or severe will need ventilators.

Ventilators are thus an important component of the medical infrastructure required for treating infected patients, providing critical breathing support to those falling critically ill.

Considering this, the government has been adopting a two-pronged approach, augmenting domestic manufacturing capacity as well as scouting across the world for medical supplies. Accordingly, as per the update given to the Group of Ministers meeting held on April 25, 2020, production of ventilators by domestic manufacturers has already started and orders for more than 59,000 units through nine manufacturers have been placed.

In this context, it is heartening that the Indian inventive and creative spirit has been reaping good fruit in this crisis situation. The entire scientific community, including CSIR and its 30-plus labs, institutes such as IITs and many from the private sector and civil society, have come up with various solutions, each of which contributes in some measure to our battle against the pandemic.

A team of engineering students from IIT Bombay, NIT Srinagar and Islamic University of Science & Technology (IUST), Awantipora, Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir is one such group of creative individuals who have come forward to solve the problem of ventilator requirement. The team has come up with a low-cost ventilator using locally available materials.

Here is how the Ruhdaar ventilator, as the team has named it, took birth. The project head Zulqarnain, a first-year student of Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, had gone to his hometown Kashmir, when the institute closed due to the pandemic. On getting to know the ground situation as the pandemic progressed, he understood that there were only 97 ventilators in the Kashmir Valley. He sensed that the need was more and that the concern about shortage of ventilators had become a big worry for many people.

So, Zulqarnain teamed up with his friends P. S Shoib, Asif Shah and Shakar Nehvi from IUST, Awantipora and Majid Koul from NIT Srinagar. Taking assistance from the Design Innovation Centre (DIC) at IUST, the team has been able to design a low-cost ventilator using locally available materials. While their initial aim was to replicate a tried and tested design, as they began to work on it, they developed their own design of the ventilator.

Zulqarnain says “the prototype costed the team around Rs 10,000 (US$ 141.86) and that the cost will be much lower, when we go for mass production.” He said that while high-end ventilators used in hospitals cost in lakhs of rupees, “Ruhdaar provides necessary functionalities which can provide adequate breathing support necessary to save the life of a critically ill COVID-19 patient.”

Talking about next steps, Zulqarnain said “the team will now go for medical testing of the prototype. Once it is approved, it will be taken for mass production. The effort is to make it amenable for production by small scale industry. The team will not charge any royalty for the product.”

Zulqarnain said that the main problem the team faced was lack of resources. The team tried many designs including a design developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. The team came up with their frugal design, considering the resource constraints. The design has been made using advanced software and the team is satisfied with the results, he said.

Asif, who is an alumnus of IUST and CEO of Symcore Technologies, says that “the idea was to design and develop a low-cost alternative to the conventional ventilator. Our team has been able to achieve control of basic parameters such as tidal volume, Breaths per Minute and Inspiratory: Expiratory Ratio and to also monitor pressure continuously during its operation.”

Coordinator, DIC, IUST, Dr Shahkar Ahmad Nahvi said that the team of youngsters was driven by a desire to make a beneficial contribution to the society in this hour of need. He said that the ventilator is functional from the engineering perspective but requires clearance and validation by the medical community.

Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IUST, Dr Majid H. Koul said that the low-cost frugal ventilator was developed using components available at DIC. Facilities at the Centre such as 3-D printing and laser-cutting technologies also were instrumental in the success of the prototype. The Centre is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

Production capacity of coveralls required by medical personnel treating COVID-19 cases in the country has been ramped up to more than 1 lakh per day; cumulative production till date is approximately one million coverall units
27.04.2020

Production capacity of coveralls required by medical personnel treating COVID-19 cases in the country has been ramped up to more than 1 lakh per day. Bengaluru has become a major hub for PPE Coverall production in the country to combat COVID-19 cases. Nearly fifty percent of the Coverall production in the country is from Bengaluru. Since Body Coveralls (PPE) is a specialized protective suit meant for high level of protection to the health professionals, it has stringent technical requirements as prescribed by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. M/s HLL Lifecare Limited is the designated single-window procurement agency for the hospitals and healthcare organisations under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.

Other than Bengaluru, PPE Coveralls are also being manufactured by approved production units in Tirupur, Chennai and Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Ahmedabad and Vadodara in Gujarat, Phagwara and Ludhiana in Punjab, Kusumnagar and Bhiwandi in Maharashtra, Dungarpur in Rajasthan, Kolkata, Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and few other places. The cumulative production till date is approximately one million Coverall units.

During the last week of January 2020, the technical standard for the Coveralls was prescribed as per WHO class-3 exposure pressure in accordance with ISO 16003 or its equivalent. Such materials were being manufactured by a few international companies, who expressed their inability to supply on account of a complete glut in stocks and ban of exports by the source countries. Only a limited quantity was offered and procured by the procurement organization of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare finalised the technical requirement on 2nd March 2020, based on the indigenous availability of materials and the technical requirement for a high level of protection of the healthcare professionals who would deal with the COVID-19 cases, in consultation with medical experts in the field. The specification was published on the official website of HLL Lifecare Ltd on 5th March 2020, inviting manufacturers having adequate capability to participate in the procurement process.

As of now, there are four laboratories in the country which have the Synthetic Blood Penetration Resistance Test facilities as well as necessary approvals for conducting tests and certification for Body Coveralls (PPE) required for COVID-19. These are – South India Textiles Research Association (SITRA), Coimbatore, Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), Gwalior, and two laboratories under Ordnance Factory Board – Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi and Small Arms Factory, Kanpur.

For each such test conducted in respect of a fabric and the PPE Coverall garment, for which prototype samples are sent by the respective manufacturers, a Unique Certification Code (UCC-COVID19) is generated. This code has records of the type of fabric, type of garment, its date of testing, testing standard and other relevant particulars. The UCC issued to each passed sample is published on the official website of DRDO, OFB and SITRA for verification by any user of the product. With a view to further streamline the process of testing and to ensure that the quality of the PPE Coveralls is maintained, the testing laboratory will now accept the sample for testing only on submission of an affidavit in the prescribed format by the organization intending to get their PPE Coverall sample tested in the approved laboratories.

The PPE kits are being sent to the States by the Ministry of Health as per requirement. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Department of Pharmaceuticals, and Ministry of Textiles are continuously working with various industry bodies, stakeholders and manufacturers on 24×7 basis, to streamline the supply chain, remove bottlenecks and maintain a steady supply of all materials required for the healthcare professionals.

Bira91 raises US$ 30 million funding led by Sequoia India, Sofina
27.04.2020

B9 Beverages Pvt. Ltd, the maker of Bira 91 brand of craft beer, has raised US$ 30 million in funding led by its existing investors, Sequoia India and Belgium-based investment firm Sofina.

Mumbai-based consumer-focused venture capital fund, Sixth Sense Ventures, Korean private equity fund Neoplux, and certain family offices also participated in the round, the company said in a statement.

These new funds will be used to further expand its India footprint and consolidate its leadership position in the premium beer market in India.

In 2019, the firm commissioned two new breweries, one each in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and quadrupled its production capacity. The company achieved market share near to 3 per cent of the overall beer market with the launch of Boom, its latest mass market beer brand. The company has presence in over 400 cities, as of fiscal year ended 31 March 2020.

“We continue to grow our business in both existing and new markets. Our market shares in several markets are now higher than 5 per cent of overall beer and more than 20 per cent share of premium beer market,” said Mr Ankur Jain, chief executive at the firm.

“Along with Boom, our other new launches of Bira 91 IPA with Pomelo and the Malabar Stout have been well received. 2020 is a key inflection point for the company where we expect to reach double digit market shares in a number of states through the year,” he added.

JioMart starts home delivery in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan
27.04.2020

Reliance Industries (RIL) has started home delivery of essentials in partnership with local kirana stores in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan. These services are available under JioMart, an e-commerce venture of Reliance Retail, an RIL subsidiary.

Under the deal signed between Facebook, this is the first of the deal to use WhatsApp.

The orders can be placed by 5 pm every day and would be available for pick up from the customer’s nearest JioMart Kirana store within 48 hours, as per a message sent to customers across these locations.

Registration is required first where customer has to provide details such as mobile number, area, locality, society name and customer details.

According to the sources, these are the first locations where the services are being launched and would be extended to other cities in the country in a phased manner.

To order customers can send a “Hi” message to JioMart’s WhatsApp number (88500 08000) on their phones, following which the company will send a link to take orders.

Global tech giant Facebook signed a binding agreement to invest Rs 43,574 crore (US$ 6.18 billion) in RIL wholly-owned subsidiary Jio Platforms.

WhatsApp has more than 400 million users in India, while the company is readying to insert payments feature in the messaging and Voice over IP service platform.

Natilvelead invests Rs 1.2 crore in dairy products company
27.04.2020

Native Angels Network, the angel investment arm of Nativelead, has invested Rs 1.2 crore (US$ 0.17 million) in UzhavarBumi Agro Products Pvt Ltd, based in Madurantakam, about 75 km south of Chennai.

Madurai, Karur, Chennai, Coimbatore and Tuticorin participation in the investment round.

According to the press release from Nativelead, UzhavarBumi works directly with farmers and agroworkers, to bring fresh milk to consumers’ tables without chemical interference.

The start-up was founded in 2017 with an aim to establish direct trade between local farmers and consumers. It provides fresh milk (delivered within 12 hours of sourcing), ghee and paneer to the customers.

The idea behind the venture was to make organic and fresh produce available for all, regardless of their socio-economic status, according to Mr Vetrivel Palani, co-founder of UzhavarBumi, a former IT sector employee.

Mr Vetrivel and his friends realised that there was high adulteration in the dairy industry, which became the main reason for founding UzhavarBumi.

The company works directly with individual farmers and cattle owners to source fresh milk which is transported to their facility in Madurantakam where milk is then chilled in sterilised conditions and bottled in eco-friendly glass bottles. The bottled milk is distributed to consumers within 12 hours.

Currently, 4,000 bottles per day are sold by the company, with the milk priced at Rs 60 (US$ 0.85) a litre.

Mr Sankar Kanagasabai, the lead investor, is helping the company adopt global best practices.

Six courses of SWAYAM appear in best 30 online courses of 2019 in the Class Central list
28.04.2020

The Class Central (a free online course aka MOOC aggregator from top universities like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, etc.) has released the list of best 30 online courses of 2019 out of which 6 courses are from SWAYAM.

The ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM) an integrated platform for online courses, using information and communication technology (ICT) which covers school (9th to 12th) to Post Graduate Level. Till date, a total of 2867 Courses have been offered through SWAYAM and 568 courses have been uploaded to offer for January 2020 Semester. About 57 lakhs (57,84,770) unique users / registrations have been made on SWAYAM platform and about 1.25 crore (125,04,722) enrollments in various courses of SWAYAM. It also offers online courses for students, teachers and teacher educators. It may be accessed on swayam.gov.in.

Following 6 courses of SWAYAM have been listed in the best 30 online coursed of 2019.

1. Academic Writing: H.N.B. Garhwal Unicersity (A Central University) Srinager Garhwal

2. Digital Marketing: Punjab University Chandigarh.

3. ANIMATIONs: Banaras Hindu University.

4. mathematical Economics: Doon University, Dehradun

5. Python for Data Science: Indian Institute of Technology Madras

6. Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE): Avianshilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore.

Contactless shopping and delivery startup Wagonfly raises $500,000
28.04.2020

Wagonfly that provides contactless shopping and delivery experience for its customers, has raised about US$ 500,000 from Investment Trust of India (ITI) group-led early stage venture capital fund, ITI Growth, and angel investor Manoj Kumar.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is used by the company for identifying and tracking objects, to tag items in a retail store for providing an end-to-end smart shopping solution from inventory management to asset tracking and smart checkout without the need for any human intervention.

“While this is a 25-year old technology, over the years the cost of RFID tags have come down considerably, which has helped us create a contactless shopping experience and a seamless supply chain solution for retail outlets,” said Mr Mohit Gulati, managing general partner, ITI Growth Opportunities Venture Fund.

He added, “We have already partnered with the men’s apparel brand Wrogn and are looking to partner with more brands after the lockdown gets lifted. Wagonfly’s solution is what will help retailers build trust in shoppers to walk into brick and mortar stores – by creating a completely contact-free shopping experience with zero human interaction and cashier-less stores. It is imperative that brick-and-mortar update their stores into experience centers than mere transactional avenues, now more than ever”.

The start-up was founded by Mr Raghavendra Prasad in 2018. It also operates on an online platform, CafeFLY, that let customers to order all household essentials such as food grains and personal care items online. The delivery is made within 24-hours and is completely contact-free.

“Covid-19 has changed the complete retail paradigm. In the coming days, whenever the retail opens consumers are going to prefer contactless journey in brick and mortar as well as in e-commerce,” said Mr Prasad.

“Wagonfly is going to play a lead role in creating contactless retail experience to customers in stores as well as in malls through their contactless checkout technology, in addition it allows the merchandise to be tracked from the factory till the consumer providing companies lot of data points for necessary actions to benefit the consumers as well as the companies,” he added.

BEML bags Rs 398 crore order from Coal India
28.04.2020

BEML Limited, Bengaluru-based ‘Schedule A’ company under the Ministry of Defence, has bagged order from Coal India Ltd for supply of seven 150-T and eight 205E-T Dump Trucks under trial-cum-sale along with 8-year spare parts contract.

Coal India subsidiaries viz SECL’s Gevra Project and NCL’s Amlohri & Nigahi Projects, respectively will be responsible for deploying these dumpers. The order is worth about Rs 398 crore (US$ 56.46 million).

Dump Trucks are indigenously designed and developed by BEML and are being manufactured at its Mysuru complex. These products are expected to address the growing demand for higher capacity equipment in the mining industry and will improve its production substantially.

All these trucks have eco-friendly emissions certificate engines with electronic fuel management system to deliver maximum power. Its wide body design-higher value metric capacity and low body weight ensures high stability and productivity. A state-of-the-art AC drive system have been engineered to provide exceptional road performance with reduced maintenance.

PhonePe gets US$ 28 million funding from parent Flipkart
28.04.2020

PhonePe’s Singapore entity PhonePe Pte Ltd has received an investment of US$ 28 million from parent Flipkart, according to the regulatory filings by the company. This is the first round of funding raised by the company this financial year.

Company plans to raise around US$ 100 million in 2020.

These fresh funds of US$ 28 million comes just two months after the Bengaluru-based payments platform had received Rs 427 crore (US$ 60.58 million) from its Singapore entity, PhonePe Private Limited.

Several funds were raised by the company last year, around Rs 585.66 crore (US$ 83.23 million) from its Singapore-based parent in December and another Rs 698 crore (US$ 99.02 million) in July, last year.

PhonePe co-founder and CEO, Mr Sameer Nigam said that the payments platform plans to file IPO in 2023 and reach profitability by 2022.

Although, current situation around covid-19 has affected the digital payments industry, with PhonePe also witnessing a decline of 35 per cent on overall transactions on its platform.

However, PhonePe plans not to stop investing in advertising and has recently signed in with Doordarshan and other regional channels to run brand advertisements.

The company has relied on its O2O (Offline-to-Online) strategy which it started focussing on in 2018 and is providing help to users understand which kirana stores are open and delivering, in the current lockdown.

According to the company it will start monetising on its O2O strategy as well as look at revenue streams from Financial Services, commissions from its in-app ‘Switch’ platform as well as Advertising on the app in the coming months as it looks to become profitable.

The company is also working with delivery fleets like Swiggy Genie to meet its offline network stores and deliver goods to customers, during the current situation.

Currently, the Flipkart-owned payments entity also said that it will end this financial year with more than 275 million users and gather another 220 million in the next two years.

More than one crore face masks prepared by Self Help Groups across the country
30.04.2020

More than one crore face masks have been made by various Self-Help Groups across the country. It shows relentless effort, positive energy and united resolve of SHGs to fight Covid-19 under DAY-NULM flagship scheme of Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

At the core of this proud moment is a strong face of women entrepreneurs supported by the Mission. Their resilience is motivating others to multiply the efforts with more energy and determination. It is women empowerment safeguarding lives in true sense.

Ms Shubhangi Chandrakant Dhaygude, President, Samrudhhi Area Level Federation (ALF) has a distinct smile on her face that symbolizes satisfaction and pride. She collects orders through phone and stitches masks at her home in Titwala, Maharashtra. She says that they have made 50000 masks and 45 more women are involved in making masks with her.

Ms Meenu Jha, member of Savarni SHG in Kota, Rajasthan says that even she did not imagine that this small step can be so inspiring for others. These lines of Ms Meenu Jha reiterate the fact that all of us have unique capability of contributing to this fight even during lockdown.

Gamocha, the traditional cloth and symbol of respect in Assam has today become a symbol of health, safety and hygiene. Ms Rashmi from Nagaon, member of Runjhun SHG is busy preparing masks using this traditional cloth.

Ms Updesh Andotra, member Prayas Self Help Group in Kathua, J&K feels proud while making the tricolour masks.

JNCASR scientists develop a natural product based Alzheimer inhibitor
30.04.2020

Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre For Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India have modified the structure of Berberine, a natural and cheap product similar to curcumin, available commercially, into Ber-D to use as a Alzheimer’s inhibitor. Their research work has been published in the scientific journal iSceince.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder and accounts for more than 70 per cent of all dementia. The multifactorial nature of the disease attributed to multifaceted toxicity has made it difficult for researchers to develop effective medication.

Prof T. Govindaraju, a Swarnajayanti fellow from JNCASR, led his team in the quest to discover natural product based therapeutic candidates for Alzheimer’s disease, and selected isoquinoline natural product berberine found in India and China and used in traditional medicine and other applications. However, berberine is poorly soluble and toxic to cells. So they modified berberine to Ber-D, which is a soluble (aqueous), antioxidant. They found it to be a multifunctional inhibitor of multifaceted amyloid toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease.

Protein aggregation and amyloid toxicity predominantly contribute to multifaceted toxicity observed in neuronal cells, including generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial dysfunction, interfering with synaptic signaling, and activation of premature cell death. The JNCASR team developed this multifunctional inhibitor to ameliorate in cellulo multifaceted toxicity.

The structural attributes of Ber-D are such that they prevent the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and rescue biomacromolecules from oxidative damage. Ber-D inhibits aggregations of metal-dependent and -independent Amyloid beta (Aβ) (which are the peptides of amino acids crucially involved in Alzheimer’s disease as the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease).

The team developed Ber-D to effectively target multifaceted Aβ toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease. Berberine has 4 Phenolic hydroxyl groups which are methylated, hence water-insoluble. Natural product berberine was subjected to demethylation to obtain water-soluble polyphenolic derivative Ber-D. Treatment of berberine with demethylation agent BBr3(Boron tribromide) gave Ber-D Because of demethylation of berberine, 4 phenolic groups are free, increase water solubility, antioxidant property, and Cu-coordination to ameliorate multifaced toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease Detailed studies showed that Ber-D modulated Aβ toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease. Ber-D treatment averts mitochondrial dysfunction and corresponding neuronal toxicity contributing to premature apoptosis (cell death) making Ber-D a potential therapeutic candidate to ameliorate multifaceted Aβ toxicity in Alzheimer’s disease.

The antioxidant Ber-D efficiently quenched both Reactive nitrogen species(RNS) & reactive oxygen species (ROS) and prevent DNA damage, protein oxidation, and lipid peroxidation, which cause numerous adverse biochemical cascade reactions leading to neuronal death. Ber-D inhibits the formation of toxic Aβ fibrillar aggregates and protects mitochondria from dysfunction, one of the major causes of neuronal death. Their design strategy of synthetically transforming berberine to Ber-D, a multifunctional antioxidant and aggregation modulator, effectively ameliorate multiple Aβtoxicity both in vitro and in cellulo conditions.

These multifunctional attributes make Ber-D a promising candidate for developing effective therapeutics to treat multifaceted toxicity of Alzheimer’s disease.

HCARD, a robot, to assist frontline COVID-19 healthcare warrior
30.04.2020

Healthcare workers at hospitals are risking COVID-19 infection while taking care of those infected by it 24/7. Perhaps the level of risk may get reduced hereafter with the help of a new friend, HCARD. The robotic device HCARD, in short for Hospital Care Assistive Robotic Device, can help frontline healthcare workers in maintaining physical distance from those infected by coronavirus.

HCARD is developed by Durgapur-based CSIR lab, Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute. The device is equipped with various state-of-the-art technologies and works both in automatic as well as manual modes of navigation.

This robot can be controlled and monitored by a nursing booth with a control station having such features as navigation, drawer activation for providing medicines and food to patients, sample collection and audio-visual communication.

Prof (Dr) Harish Hirani, Director, CSIR-CMERI stated that “This Hospital Care Assistive Robotic Device could be effective for frontline healthcare officials dealing with COVID-19 patients in delivering services while maintaining mandatory physical distancing”. The cost of this device is less than Rs 5 lakh (US$ 7,093.2) and the weight is less than 80 kilograms, added Prof Hirani.

CSIR-CMERI is working on war footing to minimize the impact of COVID-19 through technological interventions. As spelled out by WHO, personal protective equipment (PPE) is very important in preventing transmission of coronavirus in the society, thus the Institute has channelized its resources optimally to develop PPE and community-level safety equipment for helping the public at large and healthcare institutions.

Scientists at CMERI have also developed a few other customized technologies, including Disinfection Walkway, Road Sanitizer Unit, Face Mask, Mechanical Ventilator and Hospital Waste Management Facility.

Fintech startup NIRA closes US$ 2.1 million pre-series A funding round
30.04.2020

NIRA, Fintech startup, which provides small ticket loans to blue and grey collared workers through its mobile app and website, has closed US$ 2.1 million in pre-series A funding from existing and new angel investors in UK, Europe, and India.

These funds will be utilised in hiring new talent, developing its product and technology further and scaling up its lending volumes.

“We’re delighted to move to the next phase of our journey with this new raise. While we did get offers for funding from a couple of VCs, we decided to stick to our existing investors and take more time to find the right long-term partners” said Mr Rohit Sen, chief executive and co-founder of NIRA.

“In the last 12 months, we’ve found a good product-market fit, so now we want to build on this strong foundation to scale our business.”

The startup was founded in 2018 by former Goldman Sachs executives Mr Rohit Sen and Ms Nupur Gupta. The Bengaluru-based firm has thousands of customers in over 100 cities across the country. The company presently offers loans of up to Rs 1 lakh (US$ 1,418.64) for up to a year through its app-based credit line.

Daimler sells 1 lakh BharatBenz trucks in India
30.04.2020

Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), Daimler’s commercial vehicle subsidiary in India, has sold more than 1 lakh medium- and heavy-duty trucks in India, since it started production in 2012.

“BharatBenz trucks are specifically designed for India. Reaching 1 lakh truck sales so soon shows how much Indian customers appreciate Daimler’s quality and value,” said Mr Rajaram Krishnamurthy, Vice President Marketing and Sales, at DICV.

Furthermore, around 4,500 BharatBenz buses have been sold by Daimler Buses in India since the start of operations in 2015. Since 2012, more than 30,000 vehicles have been exported by DICV under the brands BharatBenz, MercedesBenz, Freightliner and FUSO to more than 50 markets around the globe.

Additionally, the company has exported 130 million parts to other plants within the production network of Daimler Trucks since 2014.

Shri Gadkari launches Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation & Research Portal on MSMEs
01.05.2020

Union Minister of Road transport & Highways and MSME Shri Nitin Gadkari today launched Bank of Schemes, Ideas, Innovation and Research portal (http://ideas.msme.gov.in/) on MSMEs through Video Conference from Nagpur in the presence of Shri Pratap Chandra Sarangi, MoS for MSME along with Secretary MSME Dr Arun Kumar Panda and DC, MSME Shri Ram Mohan Mishra and others senior officers. The Portal gives access to all Schemes of Union, State and UT Governments. It has the provision for uploading Ideas, Innovations & Research in the sector. The portal has unique features of not only crowd sourcing of Ideas, but also evaluation and rating the ideas by crowd sourcing. It can also facilitate inflow of venture capital, foreign collaboration etc.

Speaking about the importance of the portal, Shri Gadkari said that this portal will prove to be of great transformational significance to the MSMEs in particular and the economy in general. This is a very good beginning, Shri Gadkari added. He also suggested that category-wise classification and analysis of information and the achievements which may be published so that others learn/take lessons from successful experiences. Shri Gadkari advised that the portal should be handled by quality professionals to keep it updated on sustained basis. He stressed upin the need for conversion of knowledge into wealth. Shri Gadkari also said that there is a need for greater work on Research, Technology, Innovation which can bring down cost and improve quality.

Shri Pratap Chandra Sarangi, MoS for MSME said, this portal will help the MSMEs in a big way through information sharing. He also said that this will help in the research activities like those in rural tribal knowledge, skills will get a chance for spreading their knowledge. Similarly, it can assist the farmers in planning, production, storage and marketing of their produce.

Users who have idea, innovation or Research with him/her can share it on this platform which will be reviewed by the concerned Officer and publish them for public view. Registered users can rate these ideas (Crowd sourcing) and venture capitalist can connect with user having idea, innovation and research.

The online forms for Idea, innovation and research can be easily filled in 5-6 Minutes. Person can choose Areas (Credit/Finance, Human Capital Development, Technology, Infrastructure, Marketing, Policy, etc)

Person can indicate his Sector (Rural Technology Innovation, Waste-to-Wealth, Agro-Processing, Manufacturing, Services, Khadi, Coir, etc)

The portal has the facility to indicate the stage of Idea (Concept, Prototype or Commercialized) to make more user friendly. Papers and photo related to Idea and Video and Social Media links can also be uploaded.

The portal will benefit the potential entrepreneurs as One stop compendium of Ideas, innovation and research ready for commercialization. The Rating of Ideas can be seen publicly which will help in decision making. Venture capitalists can interact with Person and MSME having Idea or innovation. Similarly, options are available for adding Banks, Government Labs, Incubators, Accelerators, Foreign collaboration in future.

AYURAKSHA-Corona Se Jung – Delhi Police Ke Sang launched by All India Institute of Ayurveda
01.05.2020

The All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), under Ministry of AYUSH and Delhi Police organised AYURAKSHA programme for Delhi Police personal at New Delhi today. The joint programme titled AYURAKSHA “Corona Se Jung- Delhi Police Ke Sang” aims to fight against corona through simple and time-tested Ayurveda immunity boosting measures.

These measures are as per the advisory issued by the Ministry of AYUSH. The recommended formulations like Chyawanaprasha (Amla as main content), Anu Taila and SanshamaniVati (prepared from Guduchi) have simple herbs which are time tested and scientifically proven for enhancing the immunity.

On this occasion, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, highlighted the role of Giloy as Vayasthapana (Anti-aging herb). He mentioned that the Ministry is working for AYUSH medicines to be given as add-on therapy for COVID 19 positive cases. He also appreciated the efforts of Delhi Police as frontline warriors.

Delhi Police Commissioner Shri S N Shrivastava appreciated the efforts of the Ministry of AYUSH & AIIA toward health promotion for Delhi Police. He highlighted immune boosting effect of simple Ayurveda herbs which are time tested and scientific. He mentioned that the joint venture of AIIA and Delhi Police is biggest ever first of its kind and will be successful and role model for others.

Delhi Police has come forward with a proposal for maintaining the health of front line COVID warriors like Delhi police personal through Ayurveda immunity boosting measures. The proposal would be implemented in a phase wise manner. The distribution will take place for nearly 80000 personal of Delhi police across 15 districts of NCT Delhi. All India Institute of Ayurveda has nominated 3 main coordinators under the Director of Institute. 15 nodal officers of AIIA have been identified for 15 districts of Delhi State who will be working in close coordination with 15 Nodal officers from Delhi Police.

  1. Phase I: All quarantined police officers and officials
  2. Phase II: Police officials/officers deputed in containment zones
  3. Phase III: Police officials/officers deputed in quarantine zones
  4. Phase IV: All policemen working as front-line workers in field.

The All India Institute of Ayurveda has also planned for identifying police officials/officers with co morbid conditions like Diabetes, Stress, Hypertension etc. who are more susceptible to this pandemic. These officials/officers will be provided additional support and care. A proper health record would be maintained in a digital format for all the officers/officials taking these medicines. For this a specially designed questionnaire and Digital Arogya Sanjivani developed by Ministry of AYUSH would be used.

For distribution of medicines, special Kits are to be prepared which will contain the formulations, method of use and advisory issued by Ministry of AYUSH in Hindi and English. The medicines would be procured from government pharmacy (IMPCL) under Ministry of AYUSH.

It has also been planned to set up a Kiosk in every Delhi police district headquarters wherein the complete diet and lifestyle related information as well as usefulness of Ayurvedic formulations in boosting the immunity would be explained by consultants of All India Institute of Ayurveda initially for 15 days.

Promotion of health and prevention of diseases by a healthy daily regimen of lifestyle and immune boosters is the core objective of Ayurveda.

SNBNCBS develops Nanomedicine to alter oxidative stress for better immune power to treat viral infections including COVID-19
01.05.2020

Scientists at S. N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata (SNBNCBS) have developed a safe and cost-effective nanomedicine that promises treatment of a number of diseases by altering oxidative stress in the body. The research may provide a ray of hope in India’s fight against COVID-19, as the nanomedicine can decrease or increase reactive oxygen species (ROS) in our body, depending on the situation and cure the disease.

The ability of this research for controlled enhancement of ROS in mammals raises hopes of a new potential for the application of nanomedicine in controlling virus infections, including COVID-19. Animal trial for the Reduction & Oxidation processes (Redox) healing of several diseases is completed, and now the institute is looking for sponsors to start clinical trials on humans.

The medicine combines nanoparticles extracted from manganese salt with citrus extract, like from lemon. A crucial combination of manganese and citrate employing tricks of nanotechnology produces the nanomedicine. The artificially made nanomedicine was found to be important to maintain a balance of reduction and oxidation processes (Redox) in our body’s tissues. Redox reactions in cells add or remove oxygen and are essential for many processes such as generating energy in cells. The redox reactions can also create products harmful to cells called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can instantly oxidize lipids (fat), proteins, and nucleic acids, accelerating the ageing process. However, it has to be noted that our immune cells naturally produce ROS or generate oxidative stress to kill viruses or bacteria and infected cells in our body. Thus, controlled increase of ROS or oxidative stress aids our immune cells to perform their natural functions more efficiently.

Enhancement of oxidative stress by nanomedicine in animal tissue is also commendable and finds application in curing diseases, including neonatal jaundice. Recently the institute has shown that the added oxidative stress upon administration of the nanomedicine can break down bilirubin (the toxic molecule causing jaundice), providing a cure for hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice). In a trial on mice, the nanomedicine was found safe and swift, precisely bringing down bilirubin levels within two and a half hours. This ability of controlled enhancement of oxidative stress (ROS) in mammals paves new potential for the application of nanomedicine in controlling virus infection, including COVID-19. Recently, local administration of hydrogen peroxide, which is in a class of ROS, is recommended to be a way of surviving COVID-19. The excess ROS was achieved by applying the hydrogen peroxide chemical in respiratory track through a nebulizer is advised in order to inactivate COVID-19 by breaking down the viral structure. As a direct application of hydrogen peroxide create several complications, including direct oxidation of normal body cells, replacement of the chemical by the nanomedicine would be beneficial.

These findings have been published in international journals. In October last year, a comprehensive review entitled “Role of Nanomedicine in Redox Mediated Healing at Molecular Level” of all the development has been published in the journal Bimolecular concepts. The concept got immediate attention of international experts in the field and referred as “a new front in redox medicine, the emerging field of ROS-based nanomedicine, involving nanomaterials with ROS-regulating properties, holds promise for optimized therapeutic efficacies” in a recent Nature journal in March in this year. The efficacy of the developed nanomedicine in balancing oxidative stress (ROS) in mice was tested recently by injecting Lead (Pb) ions to create higher oxidative stress (ROS) and liver damage. It was found that the nanomedicine reduces oxidative stress of the mammal due to lead-exposure and also helps to remove the toxic ions from the liver (popularly known as chelation therapy in medicine) reversing the damage of the organ. Recently, ChemMedChem has highlighted this work on the front cover.

Mantra Capital invests in yoga firm SARVA
01.05.2020

Mantra Capital has made an investment of an undisclosed amount in SARVA, a yoga and wellness company. The fund will be utilised by the firm to improve its digital footprint.

This round of funding included contribution from the Patni Family and the existing investor, Fireside Ventures.

This is the first strategic investment by Mantra Capital, an early-stage, cross-border venture capital fund focused on investing in tech for human good. The firm was founded by former T-Hub CEO, Mr Jay Krishnan, Mr Srikanth Chintalapati, and Mr Kevin Jacobs early this year.

Earlier, SARVA had raised funds from celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Malaika Arora, Aishwaryaa R Dhanush and Shahid Kapoor.

“During these times, people are constantly trying to find activities that help in redirecting their stress. And what better than yoga, a practice that can help you remain healthy and active, both mentally and physically,” Mr Sarvesh Shashi, Co-founder, SARVA, said.

“While our digital product was under way and ready to be launched, the heightened investor interest and the current situation fast-tracked it. We are in the process of raising more capital to enhance our digital offering,” he said.

DGH approves investments worth US$ 4.8 billion during lockdown
01.05.2020

The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has given investment approvals worth nearly approximately Rs 36,000 crore (US$ 4.8 billion) during the last two weeks for upstream oil and gas activities in India.

Projects in the Krishna-Godavari Basin, including projects of ONGC and Reliance Industries Ltd. in Rajasthan are among the project given approval. These are given approval as ‘work-plan budgets.

“Taking into account approvals for exploration activities too, investment approvals worth nearly US$ 4.8 billion were given by the DGH in the last two weeks alone,” said a DGH official.

The official added, “In the last two weeks, more than 55 management committee meetings have been conducted online.”

The petroleum operations are overseen by management committees and then decisions are taken that dictate oil and gas production activities in India. “In fact, we have decided that all management committee meetings will be held online in the future, too. The system we have devised is much more convenient and there is a fixed time at which everyone needs to be present. This is the new protocol we have established, which will continue after the lockdown as well,” the official said.

DGH control room is also made that operates round-the-clock, seven days a week. The control room coordinates with different levels of the government to ease movement restrictions for upstream projects during the lockdown, the official said.

The official further added: “The prices may remain low in the short-term, but not in the long-term. This is actually a big opportunity for domestic players. These domestic projects have been visualised assuming that the price of crude oil will remain at around US$ 40 a barrel. It is expected that crude will regain those levels once normalcy resumes.”

Best Regards,
Manoranjan Sahu
Attache ( Economic & Commerce)
Embassy of India, Bangkok
46 Prasarnmitr, Sukhumvit Soi 23
Klongtoey, Wattana, Bangkok – 10110 (Thailand)
T: +66 2 2580029 (Direct), +66 2 2580300-06 (Extn. 162)
F: +66 2 2584627 Email: com.bangkok@mea.gov.in