Weekly Indian Economic & Commercial Report ( 15th – 21st June, 2020)

Source: IBEF News Letter 

NHAI becomes first construction sector organisation to go ‘Fully Digital’


As one of the biggest reform, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) under Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has gone ‘Fully Digital’, with the launch of unique cloud based and Artificial Intelligence powered Big Data Analytics platform – Data Lake and Project Management Software. The entire project management workflow of NHAI is transformed from manual to online portal based, wherein the complete project execution operations including ‘workflow with timeline’ and ‘alert mechanism’ have been configured. All project documentation, contractual decisions and approvals are now being done through portal only.With advance analytics, the Data Lake software will forecast the delays, likely disputes and will give advance alerts. Thus, apart from expediting the decision making, it will also facilitate in taking correct and timely decisions as the system is likely to predict financial impacts of different alternatives based on the historical data. This will reduce a lot of disputes.

NHAI has a history of having large number of arbitration cases pending with huge number of claims and counter claims. Majority of the disputes are generic in nature like delay in handing over of encumbrance free site, shifting of utilities, idling charges of plant, machinery, equipment, manpower and delay in decisions etc. These disputes can be minimized as the Data Lake software has provisions to keep track and check on all these constraints and will ensure work is carried out within the deadlines in a transparent manner. As all processes are going to be portal-based, decision-making is going to be faster and will eventually diminish chances of litigation in future.

The complete project documents and correspondences will be stored in Digital format in the cloud-based ‘Data Lake’ linked with GIS tagging and Unique Project ID, so that the project data can be easily retrieved as and when required from any location. NHAI’s all contractors/ concessionaires/consultants/Authority Engineers (AE)/ Independent Engineers (IE) and Project Directors (PDs)/ Regional Officers (ROs) have already started using it extensively. NHAI’s e-Office module is also integrated in the system so that all correspondences can flow digitally in a secured manner from field units to HQ seamlessly.

In the current COVID-19 pandemic scenario, when most of the organizations are facing serious challenges in working, NHAI employees are continuing their works undeterred and happily without any fear of physical contacts and touching of physical files.  Rather, lockdown period was used by NHAI to train its employees about using Data Lake.

The Data Lake will bring revolutionary changes to NHAI with benefits like No delays, Quick decision making, No question of missing records, Work from anywhere/anytime. It will enhance transparency, as all officers and stakeholders, connected with the project can see what is going on real time basis which will amount to concurrent performance audit by the seniors.

Aarogyapath, a web-based solution for the healthcare supply chain that provides real-time availability of critical supplies launched


A CSIR National Healthcare Supply Chain Portal that aims to provide real-time availability of critical healthcare supplies https://www.aarogyapath.in has been launched on June 12,2020. AarogyaPath would serve manufacturers, suppliers, and customers. During the present national health emergency arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, where in there is severe disruption in supply chain the ability to produce and deliver the critical items may be compromised due to a variety of reasons. The information platform named AarogyaPath with a vision of “providing a path which leads one on a journey towards Aarogya (healthy life)” was developed to address these challenges.

This integrated public platform that provides single-point availability of key healthcare good scan be helpful to customers in tackling a number of routinely experienced issues. These issues include dependence on limited suppliers, time-consuming processes to identify good quality products, limited access to suppliers who can supply standardized products at reasonable prices within desired timelines, lack of awareness about the latest product launches, etc.

It also helps manufacturers and suppliers to reach a wide network of customers efficiently, overcoming gaps in connectivity between them and potential demand centers like nearby pathological laboratories, medical stores, hospitals, etc. It will also create opportunities for business expansion due to an expanded slate of buyers and visibility of new requirements for products. Over time, analytics from this platform is expected to generate early signals to manufacturers on over capacity as well as on looming shortages. This would help to reduce wastage of resources due to inefficient forecasting and excess manufacturing, generate awareness about the demand for new technologies.

CSIR expects AarogyaPath to become the national healthcare information platform of choice in the years to come, filling a critical gap in last-mile delivery of patient care within India through improved availability and affordability of healthcare supplies.

It was launched by Shri Rajesh Bhushan Officer on Special Duty, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in presence of DG CSIR, Dr Shekhar C. Mande. Shri Sudhir Garg Joint Secretary, Ministry of MSME and Dr Vijay Chauthiawale Pharma Sector Expert were guests of honour at this event. Dr Shekhar Mande complemented the CSIR team involved in development of the portal, which was led by Dr Anjan Ray, Director CSIR-IIP. The portal was developed in partnership with Sarvodaya Infotech and institutional users and manufacturers/authorized suppliers of healthcare essentials are encouraged to register and participate actively.

Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers, Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar launches Sahakar Mitra: Scheme on Internship Programme, an initiative by National Cooperative Development Corporation


In keeping with Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s clarion call for AtmaNirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India) emphasizing the importance of local for vocal, Sahakar Mitra: Scheme on Internship Programme (SIP) was launched by Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Mr Narendra Singh Tomar. Launching the scheme, Shri Tomar said that the unique cooperative sector development finance organization, National Cooperative Development Corporation, NCDC has embarked upon a series of initiatives in the cooperative sector entrepreneurship development ecosystem through capacity development, paid internship to youth and assured project loans on liberalized terms to young co-operators on start-up mode.

The Minister said that NCDC has been proactive in delivering innovative solutions for the cooperative sector. In the series of initiatives by NCDC, the new scheme called Sahakar Mitra: Scheme on Internship Programme (SIP) will provide the young professionals an opportunity of practical exposure and learning from the working of NCDC and cooperatives as a paid intern. NCDC has also introduced a complementary scheme to promote start-up cooperative ventures. Sahakar Mitra would also provide an opportunity to professionals from academic institutions to develop leadership and entrepreneurial roles through cooperatives as Farmers Producers Organizations (FPO).

Sahakar Mitra scheme is expected to assist cooperative institutions access new and innovative ideas of young professionals while the interns gain experience of working in the field giving confidence to be self-reliant. It is expected to be a win-win situation both for cooperatives as well as for the young professionals.

Under the scheme, professional graduates in disciplines such as Agriculture and allied areas, IT etc. will be eligible for internship.  Professionals who are pursuing or have completed their MBA degrees in Agri-business, Cooperation, Finance, International Trade, Forestry, Rural Development, Project Management etc. will also be eligible.

NCDC has earmarked funds for Sahakar Mitra paid internship program under which each intern will get financial support over a four-month internship period. Online application portal for internship application available on NCDC website, was also launched by the Union Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Minister.

Jio Platforms Ltd emerges as biggest private equity magnet


Jio Platforms Ltd, the digital services subsidiary of Ambani-promoted Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL),  has appeared as India’s biggest private equity (PE) magnet, at a time when much of the world is in a lockdown and businesses are facing an uncertain future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jio sold 22.38 per cent stake worth Rs 1.04 trillion (US$ 14.75 billion) to 10 global investors in a span of eight weeks. This the largest continuous fundraise by any company in the world. Out of the total, at least Rs 60,753.36 crore (US$ 8.62 billion) came in the form of PE investments from eight marquee global investors. This is by far the largest known PE investment in a single company in India so far.

On June 13, 2020, company attracted investment from California-based TPG Capital and Greenwich-headquartered L. Catterton, the two PE firms plan to invest Rs 4,546.80 crore (US$ 645.03 million) and Rs 1,894.50 crore (US$ 268.76 million) respectively at an equity value of Rs 4.91 trillion (US$ 69.66 billion) and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 trillion (US$ 73.20 billion).

These investments will translate into a 0.93 per cent stake for TPG and a 0.39 per cent stake for L. Catterton in Jio Platforms.

Mr Jim Coulter, co-CEO TPG, said, “Jio is a disruptive industry leader that is empowering small businesses and consumers across India by providing them with critical, high-quality digital services. The company is bringing unmatched potential and execution capabilities to the market, setting the tone for all technology companies to come.”

TPG is an alternative assets investor with at least US$ 119 billion worth of assets under management.

Mr Michael Chu, global co-CEO of L. Catterton, said, “We’re strong supporters of fostering growth through product development, enhanced digital capabilities and strategic alliances.”

With about US$ 20 billion of equity capital across seven fund strategies in 17 offices globally, L. Catterton is the world’s largest consumer-focused PE firm.

ArcelorMittal plans Rs 2,000 crore investment in Odisha


ArcelorMittal Group plans to invest Rs 2,000 crore (US$ 283.73 million) in Odisha, said its Group Chairman and CEO Mr L N Mittal. Mr Mittal was interacting with Odisha Chief Minister Mr Naveen Patnaik through a video conference.

ArcelorMittal Group is the world’s largest steel maker.

“We already have a Rs 2,000 crore (US$ 283.73 million) investment plan in Odisha which is already going on with support of your administration, your people and your guidance. You have a great experience and you have managed the COVID crisis very well which is good news,” said Mr Mittal to Mr Patnaik during the interaction.

Mr Mittal added that the “company could not produce in Hajira, the full production, we would produce in Odisha and export pellets”.

“But, what we like is that we have a lot of ideas to continue our expansion in Odisha. We are working on two mines – Sagasai and Thakurani,” he said.

The company won one of the two mines through auction, which was organised in a very transparent manner.

“So, I see that this auction process which you designed is one of the best auction processes. The people have seen the transparency in governance. That is the most important thing as an international company. We see this as very important for us,” Mr Mittal said.

Mr Patnaik assured Mr Mittal to provide all support from the state government and added that the Chief Minister’s Office will interact with the ArcelorMittal office so that your (Mittals) project gets headway very soon.

Mr Patnaik also provided advise to the company to add value to the mineral resources procured from Odisha in the state itself so that more employment opportunities are created and help in the development of the state economy.

In the meantime, a statement released by the Chief Minister’s Office said that the company is planning to expand its pellet plant at Paradip and increase its production capacity from 6 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 12MTPA.

There are also plans to expand its iron beneficiation plant at Baduna in Keonjhar district from 5 MTPA to 16 MTPA.

ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel acquired Essar steel. The Essar plant has 6 MTPA pellet plant at Paradip. ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India) is the new name of Essar Steel India after it was acquired by a joint venture between ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel Corporation.

With the acquisition of Essar Steel at a cost of more than Rs 50,000 crore, as much as US$ 7 billion has been invested in India, which is considered as one of the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI), the CMO statement said.

NABARD fund makes first investment in fintech startup Jai Kisan


NABVENTURES Fund I, the investment arm of agriculture and rural development institution Nabard made its maiden investment in Mumbai-based rural fintech start-up Jai Kisan as part of a Rs 30 crore (US$ 4.26 million) funding round.

The pre-Series A round of funding was led by Arkam Ventures (formerly Unitary Helion) along with participation from existing investors Blume Ventures, Prophetic Ventures and Better Capital. The round also saw investments from other investors including The Chatterjee Group (TCG), Mr Rajiv Sahney of New Vernon Capital LLC and Mr Sanjay Mariwala of OmniActive Health Technologies.

NABVENTURES was launched in May 2019 with a proposed corpus of over Rs 500 crore (US$ 70.93 million).

Jai Kisan plans to use the funds in hiring across roles in operations and process management, as well as invest in its technology platform, as it plans to offer newer financial services.

The start-up was founded by Mr Arjun Ahluwalia and Mr Adriel Maniego and is a technology platform which focuses on offering credit as well as a suite of financial products to the rural economy. It partners with equipment dealers, agriculture retailers, collection centers and market linkage platforms, to directly provide credit to farmers, working in the agriculture, poultry, and dairy value chain.

“Adriel and I started Jai Kisan to facilitate rightly priced credit (and other financial services) to rural borrowers. Over the past few months, we have built a diverse book while ensuring delivery of credit instantly and more importantly – cheaply, across 10 states including the most backward parts of the country.” said Mr Arjun Ahluwalia, co-founder and CEO of Jai Kisan.

He added that these direct loans to farmers provide aid to build their credit profile and history, making it easy to access direct loans and financial services for them in the future.

In the last six months, Jai Kisan said it has disbursed over Rs 50 crore (US$ 7.09 million) in working capital loans to more than 5,500 farmers across various income groups from 10 states.

The interest rates for loans offered by Jai Kisan stands at 16 per cent-18 per cent, with the company presently partnering with 3 banks and 5 NBFCs including Avanti Finance, which is backed by Ratan Tata and Nandan Nilekani.

“Very few start-ups have the commanding view of a large untapped space. Even fewer start-ups have the luxury of tail winds in these challenging times. Jai Kisan is a rare combination of both of the above along with a unique business model that adds value to multiple participants of the agri supply chain”, said Mr Rahul Chandra, Managing Director of Arkam Ventures.

“We appreciate the efforts of Jai Kisan to emerge as a frontline agri/rural fintech player on the strength of its tech prowess, low cost of operations along with reasonable security levels,” said Mr G.R. Chintala, chairman, Nabard.

It has also been disbursing close to Rs 8 -12 crore (US$ 1.13-1.70 million) in credit monthly, with average ticket sizes ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh (US$ 709.32 to 1,418.64).

“Jai Kisan is charting a new course in agri-rural digital lending. Even in a COVID scenario, it has delivered stellar growth. NABVENTURES would continue to back such tech-driven agri/rural start-ups which are at the forefront of agri/rural transformation in India,” said Mr Rajesh Ranjan, CEO of NABVENTURES.

The company is also operating closely with banking partners to expand their offerings of insurance and saving products to farmers in the rural economy. It expects to expand its services to eastern and north-eastern parts of India in next six months and take the total loan book size to Rs 150 crore (US$ 21.28 million).

CoinDCX launches online learning platform for crypto, blockchain content


CoinDCX, which claims to be India’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, launched an online platform, DCX Learn, to provide resources for cryptocurrency and blockchain educational content.

This followed the company’s US$ 3-million Series A funding round from private investment firm, Bain Capital, and others, as well as strategic investment of additional US$ 2.5 million from Coinbase Ventures and Polychain Capital.

He company launched DCX Learn amid news reports that a Government has removed the ban on cryptocurrency in India for inter-ministerial consultations by the finance ministry.

In early 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had prohibited the use of the banking system for crypto-related payments but this was struck down by the Supreme Court (SC) in March 2020, leading to an increase in the Indian cryptocurrency market.

“With the potential to accelerate financial inclusion in India, as well as opening gateways to new forms of investing, cryptocurrencies can benefit everyone. However, for Indians to take full advantage of crypto, we need to lay the groundwork through appropriate education,” said Mmr Sumit Gupta, co-founder & chief executive officer (CEO), CoinDCX.

“…We believe it is our duty to give people the tools needed to unlock the benefits of digital assets, and we are sure that DCX Learn will be vitally important in achieving our goal of onboarding 50 million Indian crypto users,” Mr Gupta said.

The DCX Learn platform will offer learning material in form of guides and articles, online courses, interactive lectures, and free quizzes, designed to all levels of crypto users ranging from novice to advanced market participants. Topics on the platform will include blockchain, cryptocurrency, trading, economics, and security.

Crypto security will be a major focus on the platform providing information and knowledge for safe trading.

“The content available on DCX Learn will also be supported by collaborators from leading global industry thought leaders including CryptoKanoon, CoinCrunch, Inlox Network, Cashaa, and many more to be announced,” the company said.

Ministry of Tourism organises 32nd webinar “Trekking in the Himalayas- Magical Experiences” under DekhoApnaDesh Webinar Series


The 32nd session of the Dekho Apna Desh webinar series of Ministry of Tourism titled “Trekking in the Himalayas-Magical Experiences” highlighted the potential of tourism in the Indian Himalayan mountain range that offers experiences that are unique and magical.  In the Indian Himalayas, one can see the pristine nature, snow covered thick pine forests and hidden secrets that can enthral and captivate trekkers from all over the World and across age groups and fitness levels.  Exploring the myriad trails, engaging with the friendly local villagers and taking in the wonder of the lakes, rivers, meadows are guaranteed to leave one with experiences of a lifetime to cherish and plan a trip again. DekhoApnaDesh Webinar Series is an effort of Ministry of Tourism to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme.

The session of the DekhoApnaDesh webinar series on 13th June 2020 was moderated by Ms Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism.  The session was presented by Mr Anupam Singh, Co-Founder and Director, shared reach and Mr Parag Gupta, Co-founder & Partner, The Bucket list Travel Company. The two presenters virtualised a mesmerising trip to different treks ranging from easy, moderate, and difficult ones which are truly magical and breathtaking.

The famous quote by Bill Aitken –“The inescapable logic of desire leaves the mountain traveller no choice but to plan his next expedition to the very peak that may have just rejected vociferously the most single minded of advances” set the tone of the presentation.

Mr Anupam Singh shared stories about every rock, peak, pristine natural beauty, amazing spectacular sunset, the colours of fall and the spring. Important treks and tips for trekking were enthusiastically shared by Mr Singh.

  • How to go about for Trekking- Understand the season, choosing a trek, Trek operator/guide
  • Preparing for the trek – Fitness, Clothing, gear/equipment
  • Be prepared for the unforeseen.
  • On the trail, leave only footprints behind
  • Survive to tell the tale about flora, fauna, big, small, tiny findings your way, snow
  • Acute mountain sickness or altitude sickness
  • Listen to guides and no need to take shortcuts
  • Family trek is fun and interesting

The presenters shared following famous treks which they called as “Experiences of a lifetime”.

  1. Kuari Pass (Uttrakhand) – (3800 m/12500 ft) is classified as an easy- moderate trek. Best time for this trek is from April to mid-June and in Spring from mid-September to Early November. The trek starts at 6,900 feet at Dhak and reaches a maximum altitude of 12,516 ft above Mean Sea Level on the pass crossing day. On the Kuari Pass trek, you’ll be trekking for an average of 4-5 hours every day, except the pass crossing day which will be 8 hours long.

Delhi to Haridwar by Rail or road. From Haridwar – Joshimath – Gulling top – Tali Forest camp -Kuari pass and back via Khullara top. Tali Forest Camp- Joshimath via GursonBugyal and Auli. Joshimath- Haridwar.

The majestic and magical experience of HathiGhori Parbat, Dronagiri and Nanda devi peaks can be enjoyed.  One gets to see lovely alpine lake on the way, snow covered mountains, golden meadows, and a heavenly experience.

  1. The Brahma Taal (3,855m/12,650 ft) takes one to a frozen alpine lake with a mythology to match, it is an easy to moderate level of trek. The trek requires 6-7 days from Kathgodam to be completed. Best time for this trek is from December to February. The place is easily accessible from Delhi where one must reach Kathgodam and then a drive from Kathgodam to Lohajung. The climb starts from BekalTaal, a frozen alpine lake and camp on the snow. The trails go through a forest and when you reach Telindi top, behold the enchanting views of the mighty Himalayas. Next day climb to Brahma Taal, the mystical lake where it is believed that Lord Brahma meditated. After a night on the snow, climb to Brahma Taal top, for enjoying the magnificent views. Next day, descend down directly to Lohajung and conclude the trek and depart to Kathgodam.
  1. The HarkiDoon Valley (3,566m/11,700 ft) located at the Valley of Gods, in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. It is a moderate level of trek and requires about 6 days from Dehradun. Best time for this trek is from April to June and September to December. From Dehradun, drive to Sankri, then onwards to Taluka, via Mussoorie. From Taluka the real trek begins up to Seema village and then from Seema climb up to HarkiDoon with an overnight stay at HarkiDoon. En-route one will witness the Swargrohini-I (6,525 m/20,512 ft) regarded as the Gateway to Heaven and is associated with the   mythological tales of Mahabharata. The next day, one can directly descend to Seema, via the hanging village of Osla. The village has historical temple wherein Duryodhana is being worshipped.
  1. The Fotoksar (4,100 m/16,000 ft) is a picturesque village in Ladakh. It is the part of the Lingshed- Padum trek (also known as The Great Zanskar trek)- not accessible for about 6 months every year due to heavy snows and avalanches. It is a moderate level of trek and requires 9-10 days from Delhi. The best time to visit is from June to October. There are options for homestays which would help in gaining local experience and supporting the local economy. From Delhi one can take flight to fly in at Leh (3,500 m/11,500 ft). It is advisable to acclimatize in Leh to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). From Leh, drive to Lamayuru-Kargil road and reach the Wanla Village. After an overnight stay at the village, next day proceed towards Yapola river and stay at Hanupatta village before climbing upto the SiSir La Pass at 4,890 m/16,000. Next day descending to the Fotoksar village, hanging off the edge of the cliff.
  1. The Roopkhund (4,785m/15,700 ft) is another popular trek of Garhwal region, Uttarakhand. The level of difficulty lies from moderate to difficult and requires about 6 days from Kathgodam to Roopkhund trek. Best time to do this trek is from December to February. A drive from Kathgodam to Lohajung. Trekking through Lohajung pass, crossing the Bedniriver and overnight stay at Didana village. The next day a steep climb to Ali Bugyal (12,500ft), the largest meadow in Asia. With an overnight stay at BedniBugyal, next day proceed to an amazing camp site next to glacier Bhaguwasa (14,100ft). Next day start an early morning trek up to Roopkund Lake. Visit to the lake side and return to the camp by lunch time. The next day descent to Lohajung. The mystery of skeletons lying in the Roopkund trek is that about these are the skeletons of about 500 people who were crossing Roopkund caught in a lethal hailstorm around the 820 AD. This fact has also been confirmed by the scientists after inspecting the bones and dating the carbon within them.

Mr Rupinder Brar, ADG Tourism stated that the trekking and experiencing the Himalayas are on the Bucket List of many people, across all age groups and fitness level and therefore as soon as COVID-19 is subdued one could plan to experience and explore them thus peeking into the thrill of adventure, wonderful flora & fauna and the awe of the mysteries that the “Abode of Snow” hides.

The moderator informed that trekkers to identify the tracks of their choice. For most of the destinations there are local guides and one can contact any tour operator who is a member of ATOAI, i.e. Adventure Tour Operators Association of India

As a responsible trekker, we must abide by certain basic guidelines:

  • Do not litter. Nothing other than your footprints should be left behind
  • Keep the trek clean
  • Do not disturb the animals and birds
  • Don’t create any noise
  • Privacy of the locals must be respected
  • Respect the local customs and their place

The DekhoApnaDesh Webinars are conducted in association with National e-Governance Division (NeGD) created by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY).

The sessions of webinars are now available on are now available on the https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbzIbBmMvtvH7d6Zo_ZEHDA/featured and also on all social media handles of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.

The next episode of the webinar scheduled on June 19, 2020 at 11.00 am, on Topic: YOGA & WELLNESS – An Offering for Challenging Times!

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