Weekly Indian Economic & Commercial Report (11th April – 17th May 2020)

PM gives a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat; PM announces special economic package; comprehensive package of Rs 20 lakh crore




Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi addressed the nation today. Recalling those who have died battling the pandemic, Prime Minister said that the crisis that has emerged due to COVID-19 is unprecedented, but in this battle, we not only need to protect ourselves but also have to keep moving forward.

Self-reliant India

Talking about the pre and post COVID worlds, Prime Minister observed that in order to fulfill the dream of making the 21st century India’s, the way forward is through ensuring that the country becomes self-reliant. Talking about turning a crisis into an opportunity, he gave the example of PPE kits N-95 masks, whose production in India has gone up from almost being negligible to 2 lakh each, on daily basis.

Prime Minister remarked that the definition of self-reliance has undergone a change in the globalized world and clarified that when the country talks about self-reliance, it is different from being self-centred. He said that India’s culture considers the world as one family, and progress in India is part of, and contributes to, progress in the whole world.  He noted that the world trusts that India has a lot to contribute towards the development of the entire humanity.

Five pillars of a self-reliant India

Recalling the devastation in Kutch after the earthquake, Prime Minister said that through determination and resolve, the area was back on its feet. A similar determination is needed to make the country self-reliant.

He said that a self-reliant India will stand on five pillars viz. Economy, which brings in quantum jump and not incremental change; Infrastructure, which should become the identity of India; System, based on 21st century technology driven arrangements; Vibrant Demography, which is our source of energy for a self-reliant India; and Demand, whereby the strength of our demand and supply chain should be utilized to full capacity. He underlined the importance of strengthening all stakeholders in the supply chain to increase, as well as fulfil, the demand.

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan

Prime Minister announced a special economic package and gave a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat. He noted that this package, taken together with earlier announcements by the government during COVID crisis and decisions taken by RBI, is to the tune of Rs 20 lakh crore (US$ 283.73 billion), which is equivalent to almost 10 per cent of India’s GDP. He said that the package will provide a much-needed boost towards achieving ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Prime Minister observed that the package will also focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, MSMEs, labourers, middle class, industries, among others. He informed that the details of the contours of the package will be provided by the Finance Minister from tomorrow, in the coming few days.

Talking about the positive impact of reforms like JAM trinity and others, brought about in the last six years, Prime Minister said that several bold reforms are needed to make the country self-reliant, so that the impact of crisis such as COVID, can be negated in future. These reforms include supply chain reforms for agriculture, rational tax system, simple and clear laws, capable human resource and a strong financial system. These reforms will promote business, attract investment, and further strengthen Make in India.

Prime Minister remarked that self-reliance will prepare the country for tough competition in the global supply chain, and it is important that the country wins this competition. The same has been kept in mind while preparing the package. It will not only increase efficiency in various sectors but also ensure quality.

Highlighting their contribution to the country, Prime Minister said that the package will also focus on empowering the poor, labourers, migrants, etc., both from organized and unorganized sectors.

He observed that the crisis has taught us the importance of local manufacturing, local market and local supply chains. All our demands during the crisis were met ‘locally’. Now, it’s time to be vocal about the local products and help these local products become global, he said.

Living with COVID

Prime Minister noted that several experts and scientists have said that the virus is going to be part of our lives for a long time. But it is also important to ensure that our life does-not revolve only around it. He exhorted people to work towards their targets while taking precautions like wearing masks and maintaining ‘do gaz doori’.

On the fourth stage of Lockdown, he said that its contours will be completely different from those seen yet. On the basis of recommendations received from states, new rules will be framed, and information about the same will be conveyed before 18th May.

Ministry of MSME Launches CHAMPIONS Portal www.Champions.gov.in




In a major initiative Union Ministry of MSME has launched CHAMPIONS portal www.Champions.gov.in, a technology driven Control Room-Cum-Management Information System.  The system utilising modern ICT tools is aimed at assisting Indian MSMEs march into big league as National and Global CHAMPIONS.

The CHAMPIONS stand here for Creation and Harmonious Application of Modern Processes for Increasing the Output and National Strength. Accordingly, the name of the system is CHAMPIONS.

As the name suggests, the portal is basically for making the smaller units big by solving their grievances, encouraging, supporting, helping and handholding. It is a real one-stop-shop solution of MSME Ministry.

While taking over as Secretary MSME on 30th April evening, Mr AK Sharma had indicated that an ICT based system would be set up to help the MSMEs in present difficult situation and also to handhold them to become national and international champions. Accordingly, a comprehensive system known as CHAMPIONS was trial launched on 9th May 2020.

It is a technology packed control room-cum-management information system. In addition to ICT tools including telephone, internet and video conference, the system is enabled by Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics and Machine Learning. It is also fully integrated on real time basis with GOI’s main grievances portal CPGRAMS and MSME Ministry’s own other web-based mechanisms. The entire ICT architecture is created in house with the help of NIC in no cost. Similarly, the physical infrastructure is created in one of ministry’s dumping rooms in a record time.

As part of the system a network of control rooms is created in a Hub & Spoke Model. The Hub is situated in New Delhi in the Secretary MSME’s office. The spokes will be in the States in various offices and institutions of Ministry. As of now, 66 state level control rooms are created as part of the system.

A detailed operating procedure has been issued, officers have been deployed and training has been conducted.

On May 9th, Mr Sharma did a trial launching of the champions system amidst his officers and staff. On this occasion around 120 locations of the country were connected through video conference.

While trial launching the system, Mr Sharma said that it is meant for the MSME units and people depending on them. He also said that these units and people need our help badly. We will do everything to help, re-start and rejuvenate them.

India needs a 30-fold increase in renewable energy, 30-fold increase in nuclear energy and doubling of thermal energy, making 70 per cent of energy carbon-free: Dr. Anil Kakodkar





On the occasion of National Technology Day, a day which marks the anniversary of Pokhran Nuclear Tests of 1998, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and Chairman, Rajiv Gandhi Science & Technology Commission, Padma Vibhushan Dr Anil Kakodkar, has conveyed a message to the people of India, about Dealing with energy needs in the Context of Climate Crisis.

‘National technology day is celebrated to commemorate the nuclear test that took place 22 years ago, that brought us national security’, he said in his online lockdown lecture organised by Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai, while talking about India’s progress in the field of science and technology. After that India has entered into many International agreements with various countries to promote nuclear commerce for peaceful purposes. The idea was to secure energy security through nuclear energy, he added.

In his presentation, he explained about the correlation between Human Development Index (HDI) and Per Capita Energy Consumption all over the world. As per the statistics, countries with higher HDI where citizens enjoy high quality of life have higher per capita consumption of energy.

However, with the rising climate issues, a developing country like India faces the challenge where we are caught between energy security on one side and climate security on the other. “The need of the hour is to strike a balance between enhancing the quality of human life as well as keeping a control over the climate crisis.”

Researchers across the globe are studying about climate change on how to control CO2 emissions, which is a serious threat to the environment. As per the report of Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, “staying below 1.5 degree increase in 2,100 will require cuts in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions of 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030 and to net zero by 2050”; which means we have only 10 years left to realise deep CO2 emission cuts while ensuring development aspirations of many countries across the world.

To achieve this, the world must act now by leveraging available/rapidly deployable technologies. This is where the requirement of nuclear energy, which can easily meet the ‘zero emission’ target, arises. With the contribution of nuclear energy, the cost of deep decarbonisation can be reduced. Decarbonising means reducing carbon intensity, i.e. reducing the emissions per unit of electricity generated (often given in grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour).

Decarbonisation of energy production in the country is essential since the demand for electric power from industries/commercial sector is high. Decarbonisation is possible by increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources, particularly renewables like solar, hydro and biomass together with nuclear which can greatly contribute in achieving zero emissions to a great extent.

Action Required:

Even when many countries are making active efforts in the field of energy efficiency the CO2 emission is still high when compared to preceding years. This shows we need better plans to control the same.

In order to control CO2 emission, different levels of consumption strategy need to be observed by different countries based on their HDI. For example, those countries with high Human Development Index, should reduce their energy consumption since it may not affect their HDI, much. In addition to this they should also decarbonise their electricity generation. And the countries with moderate HDI should focus on non-fossil electricity consumption while countries with low HDI should be able to provide subsidised source of cleaner energy to their citizens. This way every country can actively contribute towards low / zero emission.

Japan is a country which has seen the brunt of the negatives of nuclear energy – the cruellest nuclear bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki that raised the global sensitivity of nuclear energy. But still the country has drafted an energy plan, to generate 20 per cent to 22 per cent of their total energy consumption as nuclear energy, to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030. Countries like Germany and Japan are already planning to cut GHG emission by 2020 and 2030 respectively which has allotted huge amount on production of renewable energy.

For a country like India, in order to decarbonise the energy consumption, we need a 30-fold increase in renewable energy, 30-fold increase in nuclear energy and doubling of thermal energy which would make 70 per cent of energy carbon free.

Indian nuclear power at a glance:

To meet the energy requirements of the country, currently there are 66 units with the capacity of 49,180 MWe (including projects that are operating, under planning, under construction and those that are approved).

Nuclear Waste:

The major concern that pops up now is of how to manage the nuclear wastes, that is produced during energy generation. Dr Kakodkar said, India adopts the policy of ‘Nuclear Recycle Technology’ – where the nuclear fuel – Uranium, Plutonium etc, once used for generation of energy, is reused as a resource material by the commercial industries to be recycled. More than 99 per cent of Nuclear waste is reused as the waste management program in India prioritises recycling.

Philips to invest Rs 300 crore in India manufacturing, R&D





Philips, Dutch healthtech and consumer electronics company, plans to invest Rs 250-300 crore (US$ 35.47-42.56 million) to boost its manufacturing and R&D facilities in India. It also aims to hire 1,000 people over the next two to three years, adding to its existing workforce of over 6,000 people.

“Even as we work through the current crisis, we are focused on the future and are investing towards it,” said Mr Daniel Mazon, vice chairman and managing director for Indian subcontinent at Philips India.

He added that the company will expand its factory near Pune by 7,200 sq ft to start manufacturing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and x-ray equipment. Philips is also building a new 650,000 sq ft campus in Bengaluru that can house over 5,000 people and will be ready by 2023.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company witnessed an increase in demand for its connected care solutions. Thus, it plans to work towards more public-private-partnerships (PPP) in this space.

“We currently have about 100 PPPs in India in radiology and cardiology and would like to add more in connected care,” said Mr Mazon. The target is to ramp this up to 200 such partnerships over the next year or so. “We will combine IT and hardware to create a very strong solution in connected healthcare,” added Mr Mazon, that this also ties in with the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

In order to provide better healthcare solutions, the company plans to offer connected care solutions by combining hardware like monitors and ventilators to patient monitoring and access systems. This will also benefit hospitals in smaller towns connect to a speciality hospital in a larger city. The company is in talks with various state governments to start implementation of this, especially as healthcare will start shifting to a more remote model as a result of this pandemic.

Philips has been using its Healthcare Innovation Centre in Pune as a hub to export to several countries across the world, and Mr Mazon said the company will look at exporting the new product lines out of India as well. The HIC focuses on end-to-end product development and manufacturing for key product lines like ultrasound machines and mobile surgery units.

Jubilant Life Science inks pact with Gilead to make remdesivir




Jubilant Generics Ltd, a subsidiary of Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd, has entered into a non-exclusive licencing agreement with US-based Gilead Sciences Inc to manufacture and sell the potential COVID-19 drug remdesivir in 127 countries, including India.

As per the deal, Gilead will provide Jubilant the right for a technology transfer for manufacturing remdesivir to scale up production and allow expedited access to COVID patients after approvals by authorities in various nations, it said in a regulatory filing.

All low-income and lower middle-income countries, as well as several upper-middle and high-income countries that are witnessing significant hurdles in accessing healthcare are covered under the deal.

“We will be monitoring the clinical trials and regulatory approvals very closely and would be ready to launch the drug shortly after the required regulatory approvals. We also plan to produce the drug’s API in-house helping its cost effectiveness and consistent availability,” said Mr Shyam S. Bhartia, chairman and Mr Hari S. Bhartia, co-chairman and managing director of Jubilant Life Sciences.

Aside Jubilant Life Sciences, Gilead is also in talks with other companies, including Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Cipla, for a voluntary licencing pact along similar lines.

Remdesivir was granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration on 1 May for treating COVID-19 patients.

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