Weekly Indian Economic & Commercial Report ( 1st – 7th June, 2020)

Source: IBEF News Letter 

Make in India gets a big boost; MoD places indent for supply of 156 upgraded BMP Infantry Combat Vehicles of value Rs 1,094 crore on OFB






In a major boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government, Acquisition Wing of Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the approval of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, has today placed an Indent on Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for supply of 156 BMP 2/2k Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) with upgraded features for use of the Mechanised Forces of the Indian Army. Under this Indent, the ICVs will be manufactured by Ordnance Factory, Medak in Telangana at an approximate cost of Rs 1,094 crore (US$ 155.20 million).

The BMP-2/2K ICVs are going to be powered by 285 horsepower engines and are lower in weight which will make them highly mobile to meet all tactical requirements of mobility in the battlefield. These ICVs will be able to reach a speed of 65 kilometres per hour (kmph) with easy steering ability in cross country terrain. They will have amphibious capabilities to travel at 07 kmph in water. These are designed to overcome slope of up to 35° cross obstacles of 0.7 metre and have lethal firepower capability.

With the induction of these 156 BMP 2/2K ICVs, planned to be completed by 2023, the existing deficiency in the Mechanised Infantry Battalions will be mitigated and the combat capability of the Army will be further enhanced.

India as a major country of the world with appropriate technology, capital including FDI and extraordinary human resource contributing significantly to the global economy: Ravi Shankar Prasad






The Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always believed in transformative programs be it Digital India, Make in India and Startup India. These initiatives have empowered ordinary Indians, led to digital inclusion, encouraged innovation and entrepreneurship, and raised the stature of India as a global digital power.

Promotion of electronics manufacturing has been a key component of Make in India program. With efforts such as the National Policy on Electronics, 2019, Modified Special Incentive Scheme (MSIPS), Electronics Manufacturing Clusters and Electronics Development Fund etc., India’s production of electronics grew from US$ 29 billion in 2014 to US$ 70 billion in 2019. The growth in mobile phone manufacturing has been remarkable during this period. From just 2 mobile phone factories in 2014, India now has become the second largest mobile phone producer in the world.  Production of mobile handsets in 2018-19 has reached 29 crore units worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore (US$ 24.12 billion) from just 6 crore units worth Rs 19,000 crore (US$ 2.70 billion) in 2014. While the exports of electronics have increased from Rs 38,263 crore (US$ 5.43 billion) in 2014-15 to Rs 61,908 crore (US$ 8.78 billion) in 2018-19, India’s share in global electronics production has reached 3 per cent in 2018 from just 1.3 per cent in 2012.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clarion call for Aatma Nirbhar Bharat – a self-reliant India.  Minister of Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad has often elaborated that this does not mean India in isolation but India as a major country of the world with appropriate technology, capital including FDI and extraordinary human resource contributing significantly to the global economy.

With a view to building a robust manufacturing ecosystem which will be an asset to the global economy we are looking forward to developing a strong ecosystem across the value chain and integrating it with global value chains. This is the essence of these three Schemes namely, the

  1. Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing,
  2. Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS)
  3. Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0) Scheme

The PLI Scheme shall extend an incentive of 4 per cent to 6 per cent on incremental sales (over base year) of goods manufactured in India and covered under the target segments, to eligible companies, for a period of five years subsequent to the base year. The SPECS shall provide financial incentive of 25 per cent on capital expenditure for the identified list of electronic goods, i.e., electronic components, semiconductor/ display fabrication units, Assembly, Test, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) units, specialized sub-assemblies and capital goods for manufacture of aforesaid goods. The EMC 2.0 shall provide support for creation of world class infrastructure along with common facilities and amenities, including Ready Built Factory (RBF) sheds / Plug and Play facilities for attracting major global electronics manufacturers, along with their supply chains.

The triology of Schemes entail an outlay of about Rs 50,000 crore (US$ 7.09 billion). The Schemes will help offset the disability for domestic electronics manufacturing and hence, strengthen the electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the country. The three Schemes together will enable large scale electronics manufacturing, domestic supply chain of components and state-of-the-art infrastructure and common facilities for large anchor units and their supply chain partners. These Schemes shall contribute significantly to achieving a US$ 1 Trillion digital economy and a US$ 5 Trillion GDP by 2025.

The three new Schemes are expected to attract substantial investments, increase production of mobile phones and their parts/ components to around Rs 10 lakh crore (US$ 141.86 billion) by 2025 and generate around 5 lakh direct and 15 lakh indirect jobs.

Mandatory Public Procurement of Chemicals and Petrochemicals to boost Manufacturing and Production of Goods, Services and Works to promote Make in India: Shri Mansukh Mandaviya





Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has recently revised the Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order, 2017 on 29.05.2019 to encourage Make in India and to promote manufacturing and production of goods, services and works in India with a view to enhance income and employment.

While identifying Chemicals and Petrochemicals, prescribing minimum local content and the manner of calculation, the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals has assessed the domestic manufacturing available capacity and the extent of local competition. As many as 55 various types of Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Pesticides and Dyestuff have been identified. The minimum local content for these Chemicals & Petrochemicals has been prescribed by the Department beginning with local content percentage at 60 per cent for the year 2020-2021 and thereafter, raising it to 70 per cent for the years 2021-2023 and 80 per cent for the years 2023-2025. Out of the 55 Chemicals & Petrochemicals identified by the Department, local suppliers shall be eligible to bid for the estimated value of procurement of more than Rs 5 lakh (US$ 7,093) and less than Rs 50 lakh (US$ 70,932) for 27 products and in respect of remaining 28 Chemicals & Petrochemicals, the procuring entities shall make procurement only from local supplier irrespective of bid amount as there is sufficient local capacity and local competition.

This step will strengthen #Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan launched by the Prime Minister and will also boost domestic production under “Make in India”.

Lauding the important decision, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State – Mos (i/c) for Shipping and MoS for Chemicals and Fertilizers said, “Mandatory Public Procurement of Chemicals and Petrochemicals to boost Manufacturing and Production of Goods, Services and Works will promote Make in India”

Biocon arm Syngene develops ELISA test kits, ties up with HiMedia for production





Syngene International Ltd has developed its own ELISA antibody testing kits at its research facility in Bengaluru and has partnered with bioscience firm HiMedia Laboratories for manufacturing and distribution of the testing kits.

The testing kit is developed by Biocon Ltd’s contract research arm. The kit claims that it has a capacity to test multiple samples together in a single run and generates results within 3 hours. Although, details about number of samples that can be tested simultaneously was not given by the firm.

The test kit will be launched under the brand name ‘ELISafe 19’ and will be manufactured by HiMedia at its facility in Mumbai and be distributed across India, said Syngene.

Though, Indian Council of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology in Pune must first validate any testing kit before they are mass produced and commercialised, and Syngene’s test kit has to start the process.

“We will be sending the testing kits for validation soon. The process will start now,” said a spokesperson for HiMedia.

ELISA, an acronym for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, is a test which measures IgG antibodies present in the blood against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. ELISA test kits have routinely been used to detect HIV infection in patients.

COVID-19 can be diagnosed by RT-PCR tests, whereas, antibody tests are crucial to understand the proportion of population exposed to the infection, and are used for surveillance purposes.

This development comes a few days after the ICMR advised states to conduct a survey of exposure of their population to the novel Coronavirus, officially called SARS-COV2, using the ELISA antibody test.

An indicative list of different groups has been listed by India’s apex biomedical research body for adequate representation in the survey, which includes immuno-compromised patients, healthcare workers, security personnel, journalists, among others.

“At a time when the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing at an alarming rate across the country, there is an urgent need to make available reliable testing kits using advanced technology to test patients and identify positive cases. To fill this gap, Syngene, with its expertise across diverse scientific domains, has developed an ELISA kit that allows higher throughput and generates faster results,” Syngene International chief operating officer Mr Mahesh Bhalgat said.

MG Motor to increase investment in EVs from 2022





MG Motors India Pvt Ltd, one of the new entrants in the domestic market, intends to increase its investment in the electric vehicle space in India from 2022.

According to a senior executive, the economy is expected to return to normalcy in a couple of years and company feels that such zero emission vehicles will get a significant demand in the domestic market in the medium to long term.

The company plans to launch an affordable electric vehicle in the range of Rs 12-15 lakh (US$ 17,023-21,279), eligible for the subsidy under the Indian government’s FAME or Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles scheme. It will also launch a new variant of ZS electric vehicle that will come with a 500-kilometre range.

The company intends to enhance its localization of components of electric vehicles and start assembling lithium-ion batteries and other critical components in India.

Mr Rajeev Chaba, president, MG Motor India said, “This is our mid-term to long term plan. We want to double our bets on electric vehicles in the medium to long term and want to be the leader (in the EV space). That’s why we will come with a battery with 500 kilometres range to show our intent.”

China’s SAIC Corp-owned company will also introduce its electric sport utility vehicle, ZS, in five new tier-one cities from June. The focus of the company was primarily only on metro cities. In January 2020, the company launched the ZS electric vehicle, as its second product in the Indian market after Hector, a mid-size sport utility vehicle.

These plans are being firmed up irrespective of border standoff between India and China and restrictions imposed by India on Chinese investments.

“Government basically has changed the procedure, and has not said no (to any investments), to which one has to apply and the application has to go through that process and may be it takes another two weeks-time for approval. This is what the government has even clarified to us,” Mr Chaba said.

Due to COVID-19 induced economic downturn, the Indian automobile industry is expected to see a significant decline in sales during the current year. Most manufacturers are expected to delay their planned investments in different segments, including electric vehicles.

“Even in 2021 everyone is talking about 8 per cent GDP growth because the base will go down in 2020. So, 2022 will be a good year and all these plans are lined up for then. The battery assembly will happen in our plant but whether it will be done by us or a vendor that has not been decided,” added Mr Chaba.

Union Power Minister launches pan-India Real Time Market in electricity






Shri R. K. Singh, the Minister of State (IC) Power and New & Renewable Energy & Minister of State (Skill Development and Entrepreneurship), launched pan-India Real Time Market in electricity through video conference in New Delhi, on 03rd June, 2020. This has placed Indian electricity market amongst a league of few electricity markets in the world, which have real time market.

While speaking at the event, the Power Minister highlighted that real time market is an organized market platform to enable the buyers and sellers pan-India to meet their energy requirement closer to real time of operation. Introduction of real time market will bring required flexibility in the market to provide real time balance while ensuring optimal utilization of the available surplus capacity in the system. It will also help manage diversity in the demand pattern in the country with an organized market at national level.

Real time market would be for every 30 minutes in a day based on double sided closed auction with uniform price. The concept of “Gate Closure” has been introduced for bringing in the desired firmness in schedules during the hours of market operation. Buyers/sellers shall have the option of placing buy/sell bids for each 15-minute time block. The proposed real time market would provide an alternate mechanism for Discoms to access larger market at competitive price. On the other hand, generators would also benefit by participating in the real time market with their un-requisitioned capacity. A mechanism has been provided for generators having long-term contract and participating in this market to share the net gains with the Discoms. National Load Despatch Centre-POSOCO is facilitating necessary automation in coordination with power exchanges to ensure faster transactions and settlements in the real time market framework.

The Government of India’s target of 175 GW RE Capacity by 2022 is driving accelerated renewable penetration pan-India. The real time market would help to mitigate challenges to the grid management due to intermittent and variable nature of renewable energy generation and therefore, help to integrate higher quantum of renewable energy resources into the grid.

It is expected that shorter bidding time, faster scheduling, and defined processes (e.g. gate closure) are expected to enable the participants to access resources throughout the all India grid, promoting competition. It would lead to better portfolio management by the utilities with efficient power procurement planning, scheduling, despatch, and imbalance handling.

The distribution companies would be able to manage their power purchase portfolio optimally and need not tie up excess capacity. It would lead to cost optimization of power purchase and serving the consumers with reliable supply as any last-minute requirement of power can easily be bought from the Real Time market. Earlier regime of managing the grid by load shedding due last-minute changes can be easily avoided. Thus, it is win-win for all stakeholders generators having opportunity to sale their surpluses, better management of variability of RE generation, better utilization of transmission systems, discoms opportunity to buy or sell power and finally consumer getting reliable power supply.

Cabinet approves establishment of Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) as Subordinate Office under Ministry of AYUSH






The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to re-establish Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) as Subordinate Office under Ministry of AYUSH by merging into it Pharmacopoeia Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM) and Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Laboratory (HPL)- the two central laboratories established at Ghaziabad since 1975.

Presently, Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) is an autonomous body under the aegis of Ministry of AYUSH established since 2010. The merger is aimed at optimizing the use of infrastructural facilities, technical manpower and financial resources of the three organizations for enhancing the standardization outcomes of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs towards their effective regulation and quality control.

This merger will facilitate focused and cohesive development of standards of AYUSH drugs and publication of pharmacopoeias and formularies. It is also intended to accord legal status to the merged structure of PCIM&H and its laboratory by virtue of making necessary amendment and enabling provisions in the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945. Consultation in this regard has been done with the Director General Health Services, Drugs Controller General and Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani Drugs Technical Advisory Board (ASUDTAB), which is a statutory body under the provisions of Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 meant for advising Central and State Governments in regulatory matters of ASLT drugs. Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance has concurred the proposal of realigning the posts and hierarchical structure of the merged organisations.

PLIM & HPL being the subordinate offices and PCIM&H- an autonomous organization under Ministry of AYUSH are going to be merged to establish PCIM&H, as a subordinate office of the Ministry with a common administrative control.

Post-merger PCIM&H will have adequate administrative structure under the Ministry to strive for augmenting the capacity and outcomes of pharmacopoieal work, achieving harmonization of pharmacopoeial standards of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs, preventing duplication and overlapping of drug standardization work and optimal utilization of resources in effective manner.

European infra company A&M’s JV to invest Rs 100 crore in Mumbai Metro project







A&M Development Group, a European infrastructure development company, plans to invest Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.19 million) to a Mumbai metro project along with RCC Infra Ventures through its recently formed Indian arm, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium.

The company, which is backed by Nasdaq-listed Polaris Energy Resources, has written letter seeking permission from Maharashtra chief minister Mr Uddhav Thackeray to invest in Chembur-Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) phase of the Mumbai metro project.

In India, this will be A&M Development Group’s first investment after its announcement in April to invest US$ 20 billion in mega projects including smart cities in the country in the coming years.

Although, the MBZ-RCC Infra Ventures joint venture bagged the contract for the project, but it was cancelled due to the company’s inability to achieve a financial closure.

Now, Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium wrote to the state government expressing its commitment to bring in the funds to revive the project.

“We (Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium) are not looking at just government contracts but also helping private companies facing funds shortage in completing various activities,” said Mr Inderjot Singh Oberoi, country head (India-Saarc), Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium. “Out of total US$ 20 billion, our first investment is Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.19 million) with RCC. We plan to take this further to Rs 500 crore (US$ 70.93 million) for completing projects in roads, low-cost housing and other future projects.”

The two companies have formed a pact to explore more investment opportunities with each other, and RCC will also be pitching other projects wherein Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium will come in as a financial partner.

“Despite of best efforts, progress of our MMRDA contract suffered because of site issues and banking impediments,” said Mr Luv Jain, executive director, RCC Infra Ventures. “Though we were in touch with other companies earlier, the tie-up with Oberoi-A&M will help us in finishing not just this contract but also other infrastructure projects that we are working on.”

In April 2020, during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, A&M Development Group established its India office with plans to develop and execute roads, bridges, metro networks, airports, hydroelectric and irrigation dams, smart cities and low-cost housing projects through contracting and finance route.

Oberoi-A&M Infra-Consortium has also pledged to donate 10 per cent of its profits to the PM’s National Relief Fund for the next ten years.

Tata Power’s Skill Development Institute trains 23k individuals in FY20







Tata Power’s Skill Development Institute (TPSDI) has trained close to 23,000 individuals in FY20.

With this, total of 69,700 individuals have been trained across five centres of Tata Power’s not-for-profit technical training institute.

In 2015, TPSDI started with providing skilling programs for the blue-collared workforce and underprivileged sections of the society in India and offers over 160 courses across electrical, mechanical, instrumentation, renewables, safety, and other areas.

“We have always believed that in order to succeed, professionals need to boost their employability by developing skills demanded in the industry. Reaching the milestone of 69000 trained candidates last year within just four years of our inception is a testament of our easy-to-access market-driven and employment-oriented training programs that have changed so many lives. We look forward to reach more such milestones and will ensure a substantial set of skilled workforces for the Indian power sector,” said Mr Jayvadan Mistry, Chief, TPSDI.

Around 208 trainees were enrolled in initial period and this not-for-profit integrated technical training institute by Tata Power crossed the mark of 69,000 trainees last year and trained over 22,858 individuals in FY20 across five training hubs in India. These training hubs includes- Shahad – Mumbai; Trombay – Mumbai in Maharashtra Mundra – Kutch, in Gujarat, Maithon – Dhanbad, and Jojobera – Jamshedpur in Jharkhand. Currently, around 160 courses are offered by TPSDI across Electrical, Mechanical, Instrumentation, Renewables, Safety, Allied sectors, etc.

It also consciously works towards providing greater access to its courses to the unemployed youth, women, members of disadvantaged sections of the society including those in the below-poverty-line (BPL) category as part of its Affirmative Action Policy offering them opportunities to enhance their livelihood.

Prime Minister Addresses the virtual Global Vaccine Summit 2020; India pledges US$ 15 million to Gavi, the international vaccine alliance





India has today pledged US$ 15 million to GAVI, the international vaccine alliance.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was addressing the virtual Global Vaccine Summit hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which over 50 ​countries – business leaders, UN agencies, civil society, government ministers, Heads of State and country leaders participated.

In his address the Prime Minister said India stands in solidarity with the World in these challenging times.

Shri Modi said, India’s civilization teaches to see the world as one family and that during this pandemic it had tried to live up to this teaching. He said India did it so by sharing the country’s available stocks of medicines with over 120 countries, by forging a common response strategy in its immediate neighbourhood and by providing specific support to countries that sought it, while also protecting India’s own vast population.

Prime Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic, in some ways, has exposed the limitations of global cooperation and that for the first time in recent history, the humankind faces a clear common enemy.

Referring to Gavi, he said it is not just a global alliance but also a symbol of global solidarity and a reminder of that by helping others we can also help ourselves.

He said India has a vast population and limited health facilities and that it understands the importance of immunization.

Prime Minister said that one of the first programmes launched by his government was Mission Indradhanush, which aims to ensure full vaccination of the country’s children and pregnant women, including those in the remote parts of the vast nation.

He said in order to expand protection, India has added six new vaccines to its National Immunization Programme.

Prime Minister elaborated that India had digitized its entire vaccine supply line and developed an electronic vaccine intelligence network to monitor the integrity of its cold chain.

These innovations are ensuring the availability of safe and potent vaccines in the right quantities at the right time till the last mile, he said.

Prime Minister said India is also the World’s foremost producer of vaccines and that it is fortunate to contribute to the immunization of about 60 percent of the World’s children.

Shri Modi said India recognizes and values the work of GAVI, that is why it became a donor to GAVI while still being eligible for GAVI support.

Prime Minister said India’s support to GAVI is not only financial, but that India’s huge demand also brings down the Global price of vaccines for all, saving almost US$ 400 million for GAVI over the past five years.

Prime Minister reiterated that India stands in solidarity with the world along with its proven capacity to produce quality medicines and vaccines at low cost, its own domestic experience in rapidly expanding immunization and its considerable scientific research talent.

India not only has the capacity to contribute to the global health efforts, but also has the will to do so in a spirit of sharing and caring, he said.

TULIP – Urban Learning Internship Program for providing opportunities to fresh Graduates in all ULBs & Smart Cities launched; MoU signed between MoHUA & AICTE for Implementation




Mr Ramesh Pokhriyal `Nishank’, Minister of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Mr Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) launched an online portal for `The Urban Learning Internship Program (TULIP)’ – A program for providing internship opportunities to fresh graduates in all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Smart Cities across the country, here today. The portal for TULIP has been launched in the presence of Shri Amit Khare, Secretary, HRD, Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA, Chairman, AICTE and officers of both Ministries and AICTE.

TULIP is a program for providing fresh graduates experiential learning opportunities in the urban sector. It is the result of the visionary leadership of our Prime Minister who firmly believes in the power of the youth and their ability to not only bring positive change in our country but in the world. The Prime Minister has emphasized the important role the youth of India has to play in the future of our country.

Smart Cities Mission – Snapshot of progress

The Smart Cities Mission has made significant progress over the last three years in laying the foundation for future of urban India. Till date, projects worth over Rs 1,65,000 crore (US$ 23.41 billion) have been tendered of which projects amounting to around Rs 1,24,000 crore (US$ 17.59 billion) are in the implementation stage. Projects worth Rs 26,700 crore (US$ 3.79 billion) are already completed and delivering benefits to the citizens. Our Smart Cities have been at the forefront in leveraging technology to manage COVID crisis, with 47 of them using their smart command and control centres as crisis management war rooms and 34 cities working to complete them at the earliest. In order to boost walkability, non-motorized transport and public transport, our cities have completed 151 smart road projects worth Rs 2,300 crore (US$ 326.29 million) and 373 projects worth Rs 18,300 crore (US$ 2.60 billion) are near completion. 91 PPP projects worth Rs 3,700 crore (US$ 524.90 million) have been completed and 203 projects worth Rs 21,400 crore (US$ 3.04 billion) will be completed soon. 51 projects worth Rs 800 crore (US$ 113.49 million) in the domain of vibrant urban spaces have been completed. 67 projects worth Rs 2,300 crore (US$ 326.29 million) related to smart water and 41 projects worth Rs 200 crore (US$ 28.37 million) under smart solar have been completed.

TULIP has been conceived pursuant to the Budget 2020-21 announcement by the Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman under the theme ‘Aspirational India’. The announcement read as follows: “The Government proposes to start a program whereby the urban local bodies across the country would provide internship opportunities to fresh engineers for a period up to one year.”  Such a program will help reap the benefits of India’s demographic dividend as it is poised to have the largest working-age population in the world in the coming years. India has a substantial pool of technical graduates for whom exposure to real world project implementation and planning is essential for professional development. General education may not reflect the depth of productive knowledge present in society. Instead of approaching education as ‘doing by learning,’ our societies need to reimagine education as ‘learning by doing.’

TULIP would help enhance the value-to-market of India’s graduates and help create a potential talent pool in diverse fields like urban planning, transport engineering, environment, municipal finance etc. thus not only catalysing creation of prospective city managers but also talented private/ non-government sector professionals.  TULIP would benefit ULBs and smart cities immensely. It will lead to infusion of fresh ideas and energy with engagement of youth in co-creation of solutions for solving India’s urban challenges. More importantly, it will further Government’s endeavours to boost community partnership and government- academia-industry-civil society linkages.  Thus TULIP- “The Urban Learning Internship Program” would help fulfil twin goals of providing interns with hands-on learning experience as well as infusing fresh energy and ideas in the functioning of India’s ULBs and Smart Cities.

This launch is also an important steppingstone for fulfilment of MHRD and AICTE’s goal of 1 crore successful internships by the year 2025. The digital platform powering TULIP enables discovery, engagement, aggregation, amplification, and transparency. The platform is customizable and provides immense flexibility to both ULBs/ Smart Cities and interns to enable convenient access. Security features have been thoroughly tested and the platform has been made scalable, federated, and transparent by design.

An MoU has also been signed between MoHUA and AICTE. The MoU, inter alia, lays down roles and responsibilities of AICTE and MoHUA over a period of 5 years. Technical support for the platform shall be anchored by AICTE and the programmatic non-technical support shall be anchored by MoHUA. A Steering Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary, HUA including Chairman AICTE and other officials from MoHUA and AICTE has also been constituted to review the progress of the program on a periodical basis.

For ease of implementation, Guidelines have also been formulated which spell out the objective, eligibility conditions, duration of internship, terms of engagement, logistics and other operational features of the programs etc. These Guidelines also provide illustrative roles for interns which can be further refined at the level of ULBs and smart cities at their discretion. A Handbook for ULBs/ Smart Cities and interns has also been prepared for ease of implementation. MoHUA has also agreed to allow use of administrative expenses under its Missions/ programs for the payment of stipends/ perks under the program.

MoHUA would reach out to State Governments to help boost internships in their cities. It will undertake capacity building initiatives in partnerships with State Governments to enable participation of ULBs and smart cities under TULIP.  As States & UTs have a deeper understanding of the regional challenges and opportunities at the urban level, they can effectively implement TULIP by matching their needs with skills developed through such internships.

State Governments/Union Territories are also urged to explore scaling up TULIP to parastatal agencies/ State Financial intermediaries and other organizations/ agencies related to urban development in their respective jurisdictions. Since the technology platform for TULIP is open, scalable and federated, such additions would be very easily possible.

World Environment Day 2020 Indian Navy’s Green Footprint to its Blue Water Operations






Environment Protection and Green Initiatives have always been a key focus area of the Indian Navy. A responsible multi-dimensional force, the Indian Navy has embarked on reducing its environmental footprint through energy conservation, minimising marine pollution and use of alternative sources of energy. The ‘Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap’ (INECR) has been the guiding document and key enabler for progressively achieving this vision of the Indian Navy to add a Green Footprint to its Blue Water operations.

The World Environment Day has grown to become a global platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, global warming and sustainable consumption. Indian Navy conducted the World Environment Day this year adhering to the lockdown measures in force. Educational awareness programs, lectures and webinars were conducted over electronic media in Naval stations in lieu of the otherwise regular outdoor activities.

With the aim of reducing pollution from engine exhausts, the Indian Navy collaborated with IOCL to revise the fuel specifications. The new specification surpasses international norms and includes reduced sulphur content which in the long run will reduce emissions levels as well as maintenance requirements onboard. Whilst recognising the significance of biodiversity, which incidentally is the theme for World Environment Day-2020, ample emphasis is being accorded within the Navy in protecting ocean ecology. Indian Navy has voluntarily implemented all six schedules of International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) regulations. All Naval ships have been fitted with MARPOL compliant pollution control equipment such as Oily Water Separators (OWS) and Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) for treating waste generated onboard. Further, to ensure upkeep of harbour waters, accelerated bioremediation technology has also been developed through Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), Mumbai.

In efforts to reduce carbon footprint, measures have been brought in force for a steady increase in utilisation of e-vehicles such as e-cycles, e-trolley and e-scooters. As a long-term strategy, it is being planned to gradually reduce the usage of fossil-fuel based vehicles during working hours through use of e-vehicles or bicycles. To promote the same, units observe ‘No Vehicle Days’ regularly and the concept of a ‘Vehicle Free Base’ is also being introduced in some Naval establishments.

An ongoing area of focus within the Navy, is the reduction of overall power consumption through a progressive induction of energy efficient equipment. Substantial efforts have yielded a near-complete transition from conventional lighting to more energy efficient solid-state lighting. Other notable energy saving measures incorporated across Indian Navy establishments include use of capacitor banks to maintain high power factor, use of transparent acrylic sheet roofs to harness natural light, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) based electricity metering for effective monitoring, use of occupancy sensors, sky-pipes and turbo-ventilators in workshop floors, to name a few.

In line with emerging trends and Govt of India policy, efforts have also been made in the Navy to enhance the share of renewable energy. 24 MW of Solar Photo Voltaic projects are at various stages of implementation in the Navy’s shore establishments. In addition, individual units have also installed solar powered appliances which have progressively replaced conventional equipment.

All Naval units have adopted aggressive waste handling processes for collection, segregation and subsequent handling as per GoI Green norms. An Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility (ISWMF) is being setup at Naval station, Karwar, which includes a centralised waste segregation plant, Organic Waste Converter (OWC) for wet waste and a facility to handle dry/ unsegregated domestic waste. Green Initiatives of the Navy have also been augmented by afforestation and plantation drives. In the past one year, over 16,500 trees have been planted which would mitigate an estimated 330 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide.

Community participation has played a major role in implementation of these initiatives. Successful institution of green measures in the Navy has been possible through a self-conscious Naval community, well-aware of the necessity of environment remediation and energy conservation. To foster a sense of responsibility towards the environment, various mass participation events such as mass ‘shramdan’, coastal cleanship drives etc are organized regularly. Further, a trophy introduced to recognise the unit adopting best green practices for the year, has proved useful in encouraging units to embrace Green initiatives.

Overall, Indian Navy has maintained a steadfast focus towards sustainable future while integrating energy efficiency and environment conservation within its operational and strategic roles.

DocsApp announces merger deal with healthtech platform MediBuddy





DocsApp, online doctor consultation app, announced a merger with Bengaluru-based healthcare platform MediBuddy, in early signs of consolidation in the online health care segment. Although not many details of the deal were disclosed by the company. It includes an exchange of both cash and stock.

It is expected to aid in expansion of business into new healthcare categories including online specialist doctor consultations, lab tests, preventive health checks, and delivery of medicines.

The app was launched in 2015 and help patients connect and talk to specialist doctors online using the app. It offers consultation with doctor over video calls, voice call and an in-built chat application.

MediBuddy was founded in 2000 and was initially launched as a tool to schedule hospital visits, raise, and track health insurance claims, search for insurance-covered network hospitals. The business was later expanded to doctor consultation and home-based blood tests.

It is estimated that the merged entity will serve the healthcare needs of over 3 crore Indians, with a partner network of over 90,000 doctors, 7,000 hospitals, 3,000 diagnostic centres and 2,500 pharmacies covering over 95 per cent of pincodes in India, according to a press statement.

“This combined entity will offer a comprehensive platform to our customers that delivers on the promise of a digital healthcare future,” said Mr Satish Kannan, chief executive of the merged entity.

Since its launch in 2015, DocsApp has raised close to US$ 19 million in venture capital and debt funding. Its merger with MediBuddy is important considering that many consumer-facing startups are facing bankruptcy due to COVID-19.

In India’s healthtech space, the last substantial merger and acquisition was in 2015 when Bengaluru-based doctor discovery platform Practo acquired smaller rival Qikwell.

Separately, DocsApp announced a US$ 20 million Series B round of funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, Fusian Capital, Mitsui Sumitomo (MSIVC) & Beyond Next ventures. Existing investors including Milliways Ventures and Rebright Partners also participated in this round.

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Manoranjan Sahu
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