Weekly Indian Economic & Commercial Report ( 8th – 14th June, 2020)

Source: IBEF News Letter 

Awareness and not Anxiety is the key to fighting COVID-19: DrJitendra Singh; Launches COVID BEEP, India’s first indigenous, cost effective, wireless physiological parameters monitoring system for COVID-19 patients

Union Minister of State (I/C) for Development of North Eastern Region and Minister of State in Prime Minister’s office, Dr Jitendra Singh said here today that awareness and not anxiety, is the key to fight COVID-19 pandemic. Launching COVID BEEP (Continuous Oxygenation & Vital Information Detection Biomed ECIL ESIC Pod), India’s first indigenous, cost effective, wireless physiological parameters monitoring system for COVID-19 patients, developed by ESIC Medical College Hyderabad in collaboration with IIT Hyderabad and Department Of Atomic Energy, he stressed on the importance of prevention and awareness in dealing with this pandemic effectively, now that the process of unlock has started in a phased manner after an effective and timely lockdown for close to two months.
Lauding the efforts of ESIC Medical College Hyderabad, which has come up with yet another innovation in collaboration with eminent institutes like IIT Hyderabad, ECIL, Hyderabad and TIFR, Hyderabad for the welfare of Insured Persons during the present COVID-19 crisis adding to its long list of devices, Dr Singh said that the COVID BEEP is a perfect example of how synergy amongst the reputed institutes of India can offer solutions to most of the challenges faced by the country with minimum cost and thereby make the country Atmanirbhar in true sense. Dr Singh also said that COVID BEEP would emerge as an effective antidote to the original COVID; the pandemic which the entire world is currently grappling with.
The latest version of COVID BEEP has incorporated the following:
1. NIBP monitoring: Affected aged people have the highest death rates in COVID-19. Hence, NIBP monitoring becomes imperative in this context.
2. ECG monitoring: The drugs used as prophylaxis and /or treatment like Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin etc. have effects on heart and hence the importance of ECG monitoring.
3. The Respiratory Rate: Is calculated by Bio Impedance method.
COVID BEEP will greatly reduce the transmission risk as well as help save resources like PPEs.
Dr Singh appreciated the work of Department of Atomic Energy, under which ECIL falls, in developing solutions to many health-related issues. Contrary to the popular perception, Department of Atomic Energy is actively involved in promoting the benevolent use of nuclear energy for the greater welfare of mankind. Be it in the field of generating electricity, augmenting agricultural produce, food preservation or administering the much renowned oncology centre by the name TMC in Mumbai, the department of atomic energy has always risen to the occasion to stand by the country in its hour of need.
The development of COVID BEEP is another step in the same direction. Prior to Dr Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sh. G Kishan Reddy, Secretary Department of Atomic Energy, Mr K N Vyas, Dean ESIC Medical College, Hyderabad, Prof Srinivas, Chairman and Managing Director ECIL, Hyderabad, Rear Admiral Sanjay Chaubey (Retd.) also spoke on the occasion underlining the importance of such inventions in the present context.

IASST develops an artificial intelligenc–based computer diagnosis framework for rapid and accurate diagnosis of oral cancers

Scientists at the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Govt of India, have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) based algorithms as an aid to rapid diagnosis and prediction of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
The framework developed by the research group at the Central Computational and Numerical Sciences Division, IASST led by Dr Lipi B Mahanta, will also help grading of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
An indigenous dataset was developed by the scientists through collaborations to make for the unavailability of any benchmark oral cancer dataset for the study. Exploring different state-of-the-art AI techniques and playing with their proposed method, the scientists have gained unprecedented accuracy in oral cancer grading. The study was conducted applying two approaches through the application of transfer learning using a pre-trained deep convolutional neural network (CNN).
Four candidate pre-trained models, namely Alexnet, VGG-16, VGG-19, and Resnet-50, were chosen to find the most suitable model for the classification problem, and a proposed CNN model developed to fit the problem. Although the highest classification accuracy of 92.15 per cent was achieved by the Resnet-50 model, the experimental findings highlight that the proposed CNN model outperformed the transfer learning approaches displaying accuracy of 97.5 per cent. The work has been published in the journal Neural Networks.
As of now, the group is set for converting the algorithm into proper software to move on to carry out field trials. This is the next challenge that the group is prepared to meet, considering the ever-present gap between the health and IT sectors. Dr Mahanta aspires for all the advanced infrastructural support to meet these challenges and feels that the software needs to be actively tested in hospitals, to make it truly robust, more accurate, and real-time worthy.
Around 16.1 per cent of all cancers amongst men and 10.4 per cent amongst women are oral cancer, and the picture is all the more alarming in NE India. Oral cavity cancers are also known to have a high recurrence rate compared to other cancers due to the high consumption of betel nut and tobacco.
This cancer group is characterized by epithelial squamous tissue differentiation and aggressive tumour growth, disrupting the basement membrane of the inner cheek region and thus can be graded by Broder’s histopathological system as well-differentiated SCC (WDSCC), moderately differentiated SCC (MDSCC) and poorly differentiated SCC (PDSCC). The cellular morphometry highlighting the tumour growth displays a very minute histological difference separating the three classes, which are very hard to capture by the human eye. It has remained elusive due to its highly similar histological features, which even pathologists find difficult to classify.
The advent of deep learning in AI holds an extraordinary prospect in digital image analysis to serve as a computational aid in the diagnosis of cancer, thus providing help in timely and effective prognosis and multi-modal treatment protocols for cancer patients and reducing the operational workload of pathologists while enhancing management of the disease.

RCF Crosses Rs 100 Crore Mark in Cumulative Sales of its Industrial Products in Current Financial Year

Despite the current COVID-19 situation, Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd (RCF), a PSU under the Department of Fertilizers, Government of India, has been successful in keeping its operations running and has crossed Rs 100 crore (US$ 14.19 million) in sales of its Industrial Products in the first two months of the current Financial year 2020-21.
Major Products are:
Ammonia- as refrigerant, for nitriding of steel, rocket fuel, pharmaceuticals.
Ammonium Nitrate- in explosives for coal mining etc.
Ammonium Bi-Carbonate- for bakery products, tanneries.
Methyl Amines- in pesticides, dyestuff, pharmaceuticals.
Concentrated Nitric Acid: in explosives, pharmaceuticals.
Dilute Nitric Acid: in jewellry, propellant.
Argon – arc welding.
Formic Acid – in rubber, leather.
Di-Methyl Formamide – as solvent for fibres, spandex, polyamides.
Di-Methyl Acetamide – as solvent for polyester film, acrylic fibres.
Sodium Nitrate: in propellants, explosives
RCF’s Q4 2019-20 Profit after Tax rises over 190 per cent over Q4 2018-19.
Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd. (RCF) tripled its standalone profit after tax in the March quarter to Rs 142.28 crore (US$ 20.18 million) from Rs 48.47 crore (US$ 6.88 million) in previous year registering an increase of 193.54 per cent.
RCF’s Profit after Tax for FY 2019-20 rises 49 per cent over FY 2018-19
Profit after tax for financial year ended 31st March 2020 surged to Rs 208.15 crore (US$ 29.53 million) from Rs 139.17 crore (US$ 19.74 million) in previous year.
Annual revenue from operations jumped 9 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) to Rs 9698 crore (US$ 1.38 billion), which is the highest ever since inception. Annual EBIDTA before exceptional items grew 36 per cent y-o-y to Rs 711.96 crore (US$ 101 million).
Despite various challenges being faced by the Company, the financial performance for the current year has been better as compared to previous year.
Fertilizer industry got some relief as Government approved vintage allowance of Rs 150 (US$ 2.12) per tonne to certain plants (30 years old + converted to Gas) and additional fixed cost of Rs 350 (US$ 4.96) per tonne of Urea as per Modified NPS III which was long awaited. RCF has accounted for the same in Q4 of FY2019-20.
The Board has recommended a dividend of 28.40 per cent, its highest-ever dividend declaration in the history of the Company.
S.C. Mudgerikar, CMD RCF, has stated that during the FY2019-20 the overall sale of manufactured & traded fertilizers increased by 7 per cent over previous year. Company’s Complex Fertilizer-Suphala sale increased by more than 15 per cent over previous year. RCF launched two new products during FY 2019-20 viz. Organic Growth Stimulant & Water-Soluble Silicon Fertilizer. RCF commissioned 15 million litre per day capacity Sewage Treatment Plant during FY 2019-20. RCF also got recognized as a State Trading Enterprise for import of Urea on government account & imported 16 lakh MT of Urea.
Going forward, the farming sector is expected to get help from a good monsoon forecast in FY 2020-21. In the ongoing current COVID-19 pandemic, Company is fully geared -up to face the upcoming challenges and ready to capitalize on the opportunities coming its way.

Now, ADIA’s arm invests Rs 5,683.50 crore in Jio Platforms

A unit of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) invested Rs 5,683.50 crore (US$ 806.28 million) in Jio Platforms, taking the total capital raised by its digital services subsidiary to around Rs 1 trillion (US$ 14.19 billion) in just seven weeks.
This investment comes two days after Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) announced two large investments by foreign investors adding up to Rs 13,640.4 crore (US$ 1.94 billion) in Jio Platforms. This latest investment was by an undisclosed, wholly owned subsidiary of ADIA, valuing Jio Platforms at Rs 4.91 trillion (US$ 69.66 billion).
“I am delighted ADIA, with its track record of more than four decades of successful long-term value investing across the world, is partnering with Jio Platforms in its mission to take India to digital leadership and generate inclusive growth opportunities. This investment is a strong endorsement of our strategy and India’s potential,” said RIL chairman and managing director Mr Mukesh Ambani.
So far, Jio Platforms has raised Rs 97,885.65 crore (US$ 13.89 billion) from seven marquee global investors.
On May 5, a 1.85 per cent stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 9,093.60 crore (US$ 1.29 billion) were bought by Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Co. Silver Lake also announced an additional investment of Rs 4,546.80 crore (US$ 645.03 million), which had earlier invested Rs 5,655.75 crore (US$ 802.35 million) in Jio Platforms on 4 May, bringing its aggregate investment to Rs 10,202.55 crore (US$ 1.45 billion), for a 2.08 per cent stake.
The company has been raising funds since April end, starting with Facebook’s Rs 43,574 crore (US$ 6.18 billion) investment in April, Jio Platforms has sold stakes to private equity firms KKR & Co., Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners, General Atlantic, Mubadala, and now ADIA.
According to RIL statement, the latest investment will fetch ADIA a 1.16 per cent stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.
ADIA, which is a globally diversified investment institution, invests funds on behalf of the government of Abu Dhabi through a strategy focused on long-term value creation. It has made several investments in India, mostly through its private equities department.
“Jio Platforms is at the forefront of India’s digital revolution, poised to benefit from major socioeconomic developments and the transformative effects of technology on the way people live and work. The rapid growth of the business, which has established itself as a market leader in just four years, has been built on a strong track record of strategic execution”, said Mr Hamad Shahwan Aldhaheri, executive director of the private equities at ADIA.
“Our investment in Jio is a further demonstration of ADIA’s ability to draw on deep regional and sector expertise to invest globally in market leading companies and alongside proven partners,” said Mr Aldhaheri.
Jio, with 388 million users, combines all of RIL’s digital and telecom initiatives, including Jio digital services, mobile and broadband, apps, tech capabilities such as artificial intelligence, Big Data, and Internet of Things, and other investments such as in Den Networks, Hathway Cable, and Datacom

Maruti commissions 5 MW solar plant at Gurugram

Maruti Suzuki India (MSI), India’s largest carmaker, commissioned a 5 megawatt (MW) solar power plant at Gurugram, in the national capital region (NCR). The plant will provide to the internal energy requirements of the company’s Gurugram facility by synchronising with the captive power plant, according to MSI.
It added that the solar power plant is expected to offset 5,390 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, for the next 25 years, with an investment of around Rs 20 crore (US$ 2.84 million).
It will also give an additional output of 7,010 MWH of power annually, the automaker said.
The photovoltaic solar panels of the power plant will also act as a roof for the newly constructed car parking area.
In 2014, the company set up its first solar power plant of 1 MW at the Manesar facility, Haryana, which was further upgraded to 1.3 MW in 2018.
The company now has increased its total solar power capacity to 6.3 MW with this plant, it said.
“We are committed for enhancing sustainable manufacturing and to achieve self-sufficiency in many of our functions. The new solar power plant will complement our efforts to adopt environment-friendly technologies and lower the carbon footprint,” MSI MD and CEO Mr Kenichi Ayukawa said.
In April 2019, company introduced its first BSVI compliant petrol car and at present has its entire portfolio is BS VI compliant.
Cumulatively, the automaker has sold around 7.9 lakh BSVI vehicles till date.
The BSVI compliant petrol vehicles lead to a substantial reduction of nearly 25 per cent in Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions.

India and Denmark sign MOU for developing cooperation between two countries in the power sector

The Memorandum of Understanding on Indo-Denmark Energy Cooperation between the Ministry of Power, Government of the Republic of India and the Ministry for Energy, Utilities and Climate, Government of the Kingdom of Denmark  to  develop a strong, deep and long-term co-operation between two countries in the power sector on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit was signed on 5th June , 2020.
The MoU was signed by Mr Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, Secretary (Power) from the Indian side and Mr Freddy Svane, Ambassador of Denmark to India from the Danish side.
The MoU provides for collaboration in areas like offshore wind, long term energy planning, forecasting, flexibility in the grid, consolidation of grid codes to integrate and operate efficiently variable generation options, flexibility in the power purchase agreements, incentivize power plant flexibility, variability in renewable energy production etc. The Indian electricity market would benefit from cooperation with Denmark in these areas.
For implementation of the identified areas, a Joint Working Group (JWG) will be established under the MoU. The JWG will be co-chaired by Joint Secretary level officials and will report to a Steering Committee, jointly chaired by the Secretary level officer from both the sides.
The Governments will endeavour to take necessary steps to encourage and promote strategic and technical co-operation in the power sector for mutual benefit in the identified areas through the MoU.

MOU entered between NIPER Guwahati and Hindustan Antibiotics LTD for large scale industrial grade manufacturing and commercialization of of 3D antimicrobial face-shields to control spread of Covid-19

National Institute of Pharmaceuticals Education and Research (NIPER)-Guwahati, a premier Institute of National Importance under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Govt. of India is committed to providing a useful contribution cum solution in terms of developing Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPEs) to avoid the fatal spread of COVID-19 transmission .
Director Dr U S N. Murty informed that he signed MoU with the Hindustan Antibiotic Limited (HAL, a PSU under Dept. of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India), Pimpri, Pune for large scale industrial-grade manufacturing and commercialization of their 3D printed antimicrobial face-shields.
NIPER-Guwahati has also filed both an Indian design patent and provisional patent at Indian Patent Office, New Delhi on their 3D printed antimicrobial face-shields.
NIPER-G has designed, developed & validated 3D-printed antimicrobial face-shield to control the spread of novel coronavirus, after careful analyses of several resources for risk measurement and on how viruses spread through bare hands and other body cavities like oral, ophthalmic & olfactory, etc. (even though ear as well). Some of the salient features of their developed 3D printed antimicrobial face-shields include, highly occlusive, transparent, easy-to-design, low cost, easy to wear, antimicrobial in nature, excellent chemical stability, non-fragile and easy to clean with the existing sanitizers or any alcoholic disinfectant.
In addition to this, NIPER-G designed & developed a 3D-printed multi-layer antimicrobial face mask to control the spread of novel coronavirus. The first layer of this mask will be anti-bacterial casing, the second layer will be the sanitizing layer and reducing exposure of airborne particulates. finally, the third layer will be the medicinal layer to prevent extra microbial attacks, etc.
Finally, NIPER-G has also developed & validated a 3D-printed hands-free multi-tasking object for opening or closing of the doors, windows, drawers (both vertical & horizontal), refrigerator handle, elevator buttons, laptop/desktop keyboards, including turning on/off switch buttons. This product is very handy, user-friendly, non-fragile, and easy to clean with the existing sanitizers or any alcoholic disinfectant.

Highest ever allocation of Rs 1,01,500 crore made under Mahatma Gandhi NREGS during financial year 2020-2021; a sum of Rs 31,493 crore has already been released

A provision of Rs 1,01,500 crore (US$ 14.40 billion) has been made under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the current financial year 2020-2021. It is the highest ever provision of funds under the programme.
A sum of Rs 31,493 crore (US$ 4.47 billion) has already been released in 2020-2021, which is more than 50 per cent of the budget estimate of the current Financial Year.
A total of 60.80 crore person days has been generated so far and work has been offered to 6.69 crore persons. Average number of persons to whom work offered in May 2020 has been 2.51 crore per day, which is 73 per cent higher than the work offered in May last year, which was 1.45 crore persons per day.
A total of 10 lakh works has been completed so far during the current Financial Year 2020-2021. A sustained focus is on taking up works related to water conservation and irrigation, plantation, horticulture and Individual Beneficiary works for livelihood promotion.

MG Motor India, Tata Power join hands to deploy superfast chargers for EVs at select locations

MG Motor India entered in partnership with Tata Power to set up superfast chargers for electric vehicles (EV) at select MG dealerships and offer end-to-end charging solutions. Under this association, Tata Power will deploy 50KW DC superfast chargers at select MG dealerships besides offering end-to-end electric vehicle charging solutions, the company said in a statement.
With this, MG Motor plans to lay a specific focus on the key target cities they will be venturing  into as a part of their future EV expansion plans.
The company said, “These superfast 50KW DC chargers will be accessible by both MG ZS EV customers as well as other EV owners whose automobiles are compatible with the CCS/CHAdeMO charging standards.”
The Combined Charging System (CCS) and CHAdeMO are two different EV charging standards that are used globally.
MG Motor India President and Managing Director, Mr Rajeev Chaba said, “Further strengthening our commitment to India, we aim to provide our customers with a robust charging ecosystem to promote the adoption of cleaner and greener mobility solutions”.
Tata Power Company Ltd CEO and Managing Director, Mr Praveer Sinha said through the partnership the company will associate with MG Motor India as an end-to-end EV charging partner as also work on second life of battery usage in future.

IL&FS completes 50 per cent stake sale in GIFT city to Gujarat government

Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) has completed the sale of its 50 per cent stake in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Ltd (GIFTCL) to the Government of Gujarat, represented by the Gujarat Urban Development Company (GUDCL).
Under the sales, IL&FS received Rs 32.71 crore (US$ 4.64 million) as equity value for shares and this will additionally reduce consolidated debt of IL&FS by over Rs 1,230 crore (US$ 174.49 million), the company said in a press release.
So far, company has an outstanding debt of over Rs 1 trillion (US$ 14.19 billion).
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Principal Bench gave the approval for sale on May 22, 2020.
GUDCL, is a joint venture partner and the holder of the remaining 50 per cent in GIFTCL, offered to purchase IL&FS Ltd.’s share in GIFTCL through exercise of a contemplated right of first refusal under the joint venture agreement.
GIFTCL is a company involved in the business of real estate development and is presently developing an international financial services city in the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Region, including design, development, financing, operation and maintenance of the same.
“This development represents another key milestone in the overall resolution for the IL&FS group under the new board,” the release said. “As part of the overall resolution plan to address a significant portion of the Group’s debt, the sale of a number of other Group assets are currently in various stages of progress.”

JNCASR signs MoU with incubated company for scaling up technology for reducing CO2 to methanol & other useful chemicals

An agreement has been signed between Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Breathe Applied Sciences, a company incubated at JNCASR for transfer of technology based on lab-scale research on reducing CO2 to methanol and other useful chemicals and fuels.
The research was carried out by Prof Sebastian C Peter and his group from the New Chemistry Unit at JNCASR. The start-up company Breathe was started from the generous funding from DST Nano Mission Project and will focus on scaling up the technology to the pilot level and then commercialization.
While signing the MoU on world environment day Prof G. U. Kulkarni, President, JNCASR said that the institute was happy to incubate the startup in its new campus, Chamundi. “The Breathe team (Prof Sebastian Peter, Prof Umesh Waghmare and Dr Rakshith Raghavan) over the last few years has undertaken several translational activities, participated in global competitions, and has several accomplishments to its credit. I wish all success to the startup,” he added.
Prof Sebastian C. Peter, one of the Founder Director, Breathe Applied Sciences Pvt. Ltd said that the milestone has been achieved from the initial research activities on the CO2 reduction and with the guidance and encouragement received from Prof C. N. R. Rao, generous funding of Technical Research Centre, JNCASR and various schemes of the DST including Swarna jayanti Fellowship as well as funds received under Nano Mission project.
“In the pilot mode, the current capacity of CO2 conversion is 300 kg per day, which can be scaled up to 500 tons in an industrial scale. It will take almost a year to reach the level of industrial production. Companies like Tata Steel, and Coal India Limited are in discussion with us for potential use of our developed technology soon,” he added.
The event was attended by Bharat Ratna Prof C. N. R. Rao, Prof G. U. Kulkarni, President, JNCASR, Prof Chandrabhas Narayana, Dean, Rand D, Mr Joydeep Deb, Administrative Officer, JNCASR, Founding Directors – Prof Sebastian C. Peter and Prof Umesh V. Waghmare and Members of Technical Research Centre, Faculty of New Chemistry Unit and other staff and officers from JNCASR.
The MOU will help in smooth translation of the research in CO2 reduction to useful chemicals and fuels from the laboratory scale to pilot scale economically. It will highlight the scientific contribution of a research institute translating to the industry to solve the problems associated with renewable energy and environmental pollution. It will also help in developing an indigenous technology in line with government policy.
“Conversion of CO2 to clean fuels such as methanol and other useful chemicals on scale with cost-effectiveness is the holy grail of science to address sustainable development, environmental and climate. The developments at JNCASR is an extraordinary example of converting cutting-edge science into technological opportunities,” said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.
The scientific activities which have been agreed upon as part of the MoU are the development of efficient catalysts for the conversion of CO2 to methanol and other chemicals, improvisation of the process engineering to enhance the production of chemicals and fuels from anthropogenic CO2 generated from various sources including coal and natural gas power generation sectors, steel industry, cement industry, and chemical industries and integrating multiple components involved in the CCUS (Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration) to develop a complete solution for the environmental issues due to global warming.

EPFO settles 36.02 lakh claims during lockdown; More than 74 per cent beneficiaries are low wage earners

To enhance the ease of living experience of its members during the challenging times of COVID -19 lockdown, Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), a statutory body under Union Ministry of Labour & Employment, has left no stone unturned in ensuring timely and effective delivery of services to its members. Despite the lockdown restrictions EPFO settled a staggering 36.02 lakh claims thereby disbursing Rs 11,540 crore (US$ 1.64 billion) to its members during the last two months of April and May 2020. Out of this, 15.54 lakh claims, disbursing Rs 4,580 crore (US$ 649.74 million) to claimants, were related to the recently introduced COVID-19 advance under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).
The COVID-19 advance has been a great help to EPFO’s members during these difficult times, especially for the members with monthly wages of less than Rs 15,000 (US$ 212.79). Receiving the COVID-19 advance to the extent of basic wages and DA for three months or up to 75 per cent of the amount standing to member’s credit in the EPF account, whichever is less, has provided timely relief to many workers, preventing them from falling into indebtedness.
A look at wage slab-wise data points out that more than 74 per cent of total claimants during the lockdown period belonged to slab of less than Rs 15,000 (US$ 212.79) wage. The high-income category with wages more than Rs 50,000 (US$ 709.32) accounted for a mere 2 per cent of the claimants. Approximately 24 per cent of claims were made by the members with wages falling in the Rs 15,000 (US$ 212.79) to less than Rs 50,000 (US$ 709.32) category.
Respecting the social distancing norms at workplace, EPFO worked with less than 50 per cent staff during the lockdown. Notwithstanding the shortage of manpower, EPFO significantly brought down the claim settlement period from around 10 days to roughly 3 days for COVID-19 advances.  Moreover, against 33.75 lakh claims settled in April-May 2019, a total of 36.02 lakh claims were settled in April-May 2020, with less than 50 per cent staff being able to attend work, which is more than 100 per cent increase in productivity of workforce. Apart from commitment of staff, use of artificial intelligence played a big role in achieving new benchmarks in claim settlement.
As EPFO offices operated with skeletal staff, an out of the box innovation was needed to meet the expectations of its members. Turning adversity into advantage, EPFO launched its first fully automatic claim settlement system in a record time of just five days. Almost 54 per cent of the COVID-19 claims are now being settled through the auto mode. This system is expected to drastically cut down claim settlement time for EPFO in future.
With automation and dedicated workforce, EPFO is settling more than 80,000 claims every working day amounting to about Rs 270 crore (US$ 38.34 million), ensuring social security support for its members in times of crisis.

NCERT and Rotary India digitally sign MoU for e-learning content telecast for class 1-12 over all NCERT TV channelsin the presence of Union HRD Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’

To make e-learning more constructive, NCERT and Rotary India digitally signed MoU for e-learning content telecast for class 1-12 overall NCERT TV channels in the presence of Union HRD Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’ today in New Delhi. Secretary of Department of Education & Literacy Smt. Anita Karwal also attended this digital event.
During the event Union HRD Minister said he is happy to announce signing of MoU between NCERT and Rotary Club. He hoped that amidst COVID-19 the collaboration of Rotary India Humanity Foundation and NCERT with the guidance and support of MHRD will ensure that e-learning reaches children across the country with NCERT approved content.
Shri Nishank said that it is great pleasure to know that under Vidya Daan 2.0 Rotary International will provide the e-content in Hindi language to NCERT for classes I to XII for all subjects. Union Minister added that this material is of high class and very high quality; it will benefit all our children very much. Shri Nishank said that along with this Rotary International will provide material for special needs children as well as contribute its entirety to the Adult Literacy Mission. They will also provide the Teacher Training (including professional development) content, he added.
The Union Minister said that since March 2020 when the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was declared pandemic, learners, teachers, parents, and the entire education community have been gravely affected.  In this scenario MHRD is working tirelessly to develop best education system rooted in Indian ethos with technology and innovation as strong pillars, Shri Nishank added.
Union Minister said that MHRD have been working on integration of technology in education through various schemes and initiatives like Operation Digital Board, DIKSHA, E–Pathshala, SWAYAM and SWAYAM PRABHA. Shri Nishank said that in order to strengthen innovation and digitization in education, the Ministry of Human Resource Development is focusing on creating e-learning, accurate and updated study material for all and learning enhancements so that students can access quality education at home. The Minister said that through e-learning we want to fulfill prime ministers’ vision of ‘ one nation one digital platform.
Shri Nishank said that we have resolved to reach our students through radio and TV where there is no internet or mobile connectivity available and this MoU is a big step in that directiom.He hoped that through this MoU quality education will reach to students more effectively.
Secretary, SE&L Smt. Anita Karwal thanked Rotary India Humanity Foundation for their efforts in providing high quality e-learning material for class I to XII students in various languages.
The MoU between NCERT and Rotary India Humanity Foundation signed by NCERT Director Prof Hrushikesh Senapaty along with Joint Director of NCERT Prof Amarendra Behera and on behalf of Rotary India, in person by Director Rotary India Water Mission Shri Ranjan Dhingra.
Rotary International Director 2019-21 Shri Kamal Sanghvi informed about the details of the tie ups, which includes:
4. NCERT TV Tie-up: There will be curriculum modules telecast for classes 1-12 through twelve national Television channels of NCERT, to be available from July2020 (content to be vetted by NCERT as per their curriculum).
5. DIKSHA App tie-up: The e-Learning modules would also be available through GOI’s national mobile app, DIKSHA, at the same time.
The content is currently available in Hindi (and Punjabi) and hence shall be implemented immediately across 12 states/ UTs schools of approx. 10 crore students. The intellectual rights to the content would be with Rotary and provided to NCERT, so that the said content can be translated to all regional languages by NCERT & the respective state SCERTs in the next few months.
Rotary International President for 2021-22, Shri Mr Shekhar Mehta said, “Rotary has curated e-Learning content for classes 1-12 through our partners & we plan to provide it free to the nation, as a home-based teaching solution related to their school curriculum. Rotary has a vast experience in e-Learning, having installed e-Learning software/hardware to over 30,000 Govt. schools across India, in the past 5 years”.

Bharti Airtel arm buys 6.3 per cent more stake in Robi Axiata from NTT Docomo

Bharti Airtel’s subsidiary bought an additional 6.3 per cent stake in Robi Axiata from NTT Docomo for an undisclosed amount.
Bharti International (Singapore), a whole owned subsidiary (step-down) of Bharti Airtel presently owns 25 per cent stake in Robi Axiata, an entity in Bangladesh. BISPL has acquired additional 6.3 per cent stake in Robi from NTT DOCOMO and its group entities.
The deal was done at mutually agreed valuation.
The company said in BSE fining, “The said valuation is non-material and is not disclosed herein due to reasons of confidentiality.”
Robi is a subsidiary Company of Axiata Investments (Labuan) Limited, which is also the subsidiary of the leading Asian telecom giant, Axiata Group Berhad, which is based in Malaysia.
It is the second largest mobile network operator in Bangladesh.

Adani wins world’s largest solar project; to invest Rs 45,000 crore

Adani Green Energy won a major tender to set up 8 Gigawatt (GW) of manufacturing-linked solar energy projects with an investment of Rs 45,000 crore (US$ 6.38 billion).
Mr Gautam Adani, the chairman and founder of the Adani Group, said that the group is looking for potential equity and strategic partners for solar equipment manufacturing, where technology is changing at a fast pace. The group has a track record of being the only Indian business house with a series of 50:50 ventures with international players such as Total and Wilmar.
Adani Green Energy aims to become the world leader by 2025 with a capacity of 25 GW, which will exceed the thermal capacity of Adani Power that would be 18-20 GW by then, he said.
The latest project consists of 8 GW of solar power and 2 GW of solar cell and module manufacturing capacity. It is expected to create 400,000 jobs.
He added that the country was rapidly moving towards self-reliance in the sector. “The 90 per cent import of Chinese equipment will fall to 50 per cent, and ultimately zero. In 3-5 years, it will be negligible,” Mr Adani said.
He is positive about investment in the expansion to become world’s top company.
“Our financial planning is fully geared up to raise funds to achieve 25 GW. Adani Green is the only renewables company outside the OECD countries which has a sovereign rating. International rating agencies know our track record and our abilities,” he said.
The group’s target is in aligned with the country’s aim formulated by the Prime Minister, who initially set a target of 175 GW by 2022 and raised it to 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.
“You have to realise that you need to pay some more price to build up the capacity. So as a country, we have to be prepared to pay a little more for self-reliance. How to pay? The government cannot give cash incentives, so there has to be policy intervention such as safeguard duty, anti-dumping duty, customs duty,” Mr Adani said. In the latest tender, the Government allowed 15-20 paise higher tariff for projects using local equipment.
“This 15-20 paise is not a permanent feature. Once you have capacity, you can also compete with China. But initially, you have to sacrifice somewhere,” he said.
Although, the company had successfully bid for the project on its own but may get in partnership for manufacturing. “Technology is also changing fast. It is better to bring in a good global giant, who also wants India as a market. We are working on bringing in partners,” he said.
“Whoever wants to come to India will find a good partner in Adani. We have several 50:50 ventures. It is unique how we manage partnerships. Like the 22 years of Adani-Wilmar partnership — it is running beautifully. We are so proud of having our partners. No other group has such longstanding partners, that too 50:50, not 51:49. We know how to nurture and respect partners, how to work and deal with partners.”
Adani added that Indian entrepreneurs, ranging from street vendors to big industrialists, were resilient enough to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic although the lockdown had created uncertainty and many companies had invoked the ‘force majeure’ clause.

Govt of India approves Rs 1,280 crore for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in Madhya Pradesh during 2020-21

Madhya Pradesh State presented the Annual Action Plan for 2020-21 for consideration and approval of National Committee chaired by Secretary, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti. Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) implemented by Ministry of Jal Shakti in partnership with States aims to provide adequate drinking water of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis to every rural household of the country by 2024.  This Mission focusses on ‘service delivery’, not on infrastructure creation.
The Mission was announced by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his last Independence Day speech. With an objective to bring improvement in lives of rural people and to reduce the drudgery of rural women especially girls, this Mission expects to bring reforms in drinking water sector. A budget of whopping Rs 3.60 lakh crore (US$ 51.07 billion) has been allocated for this transformational programme.
Government of India approved Rs 1,280 crore (US$ 181.59 million) for implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in the State in 2020-21. With an amount of Rs 244.95 crore (US$ 34.75 million) as unspent balance and this year’s Central allocation and matching State share, Rs 3,093 crore (US$ 438.79 million) will be available with the State this year.
Under this life changing Mission, Madhya Pradesh has planned to have 100 per cent Functional Household Tap Water Connection (FHTC) by 2023-24. Out of 1.21 crore rural households in the State, 13.52 lakh households are already provided with tap connections. The State plans to provide tap connections to 26.27 lakh households in rural areas in 2020-21. While planning for universal coverage of households, priority is given to water scarce areas, quality-affected areas, SC/ ST dominated habitations/ villages, aspirational districts and Sansad Adarsh Gramin Yojana villages, particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
Potable water supply to water quality-affected habitations is a top priority under JJM and the State intends to provide potable water in 395 such habitations by making provision of household tap connections and community water purification plants.
Following true spirit of 73rd Amendment of the Constitution, under JJM, local village community/ Gram Panchayats and/or user groups are being involved in planning, implementation, management, operation and maintenance of water supply systems in villages to ensure long-term sustainability to achieve drinking water security. In all villages, IEC campaign along with community mobilization is to be taken up to make Jal Jeevan Mission truly a people’s movement. Voluntary organisations, self-help groups are roped in for community mobilization for their active participation in planning, implementation as well as operation & maintenance of water supply schemes meant for them.
Under Jal Jeevan Mission, emphasis is being given on water quality surveillance through active participation of frontline functionaries as well as involving the community i.e. in every village, 5 persons especially women are being trained.  School and college students are being encouraged to use the Field Test Kits to test the quality of water being provided in the rural areas.  Every source needs to be tested once every year for physical and chemical parameters and twice for bacteriological contamination.
In every Gram Panchayat, GP or their sub-committee i.e. Village Water & Sanitation Committee or Paani Samitis have been constituted for planning at village level. Based on Village Action Plans of villages, the Annual Action Plan for the State has been finalized. State is ensuring convergence of funds from various sources like MGNREGS, 15th Finance Commission Grants to rural local bodies, SBM, CAMPA, District Mineral Development Fund, Local Area Development Fund, etc. for taking up works related to strengthening of water resources, aquifer recharge, grey water management, etc.
It’s the endeavour of the Government to provide tap connections in rural households on priority basis during prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation, so that rural people don’t have to go through the hardship of fetching water from public stand-posts and standing in long queue. Government intends that the poor and marginalized sections of the society get water through tap connections inside their house premises and avoid going to standposts and ensuring social distancing, thereby keeping the rural communities safe from being infected.
With summer in full swing, monsoons fast approaching, and country grappling with COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more imperative to provide livelihood to the migrant workers who have returned to their native villages. These migrants are basically skilled and semi-skilled ones, whose services could be effectively utilized in villages by providing jobs related to water supply especially plumbing, fitting, water conservation works, etc. in every village to ensure sufficient ground water availability leading to water security, water availability for agriculture and most importantly will help in provision of drinking water to every rural household.

NFL has started tying up with ITI to train youth in various trade

To give thrust to the “Skill India”, initiative of the Government of India, National Fertilizers Limited (NFL), a CPSE under the Union Department Of Fertilizers, has started tying up with Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) located near to its plants to train youth in various trades so as to enhance the chances of their employability in heavy and process industry.
The Nangal plant of the company in Punjab has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ITI, Nangal to train youth in 12 trades. The students will be skilled under Dual System of Training Scheme under which they will learn theoretical skills in the institute and on-the-job training in NFL Nangal plant.
The MoU was exchanged between Ms Renu R P Singh DGM (HR) I/c, NFL Nangal unit and Sh Lalit Mohan, Principal of ITI, Nangal.
ITI, Nangal is one of the oldest institutes in Punjab. With the signing of this MoU with ITI, NFL becomes first CPSE to take this initiative in the state of Punjab.
The company plans to explore more such options in future to give impetus to Skill India by training more youth from institutes.
NFL has five gas-based Ammonia-Urea plants viz. Nangal & Bathinda plants in Punjab, Panipat plant in Haryana and two plants at Vijaipur at District Guna, in Madhya Pradesh.

Anand Mahindra invests US$ 1 million in social media startup Hapramp

Mr Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group has invested US$ 1 million in Hapramp, a blockchain-based social media start-up.
Hapramp is a Gurugram-based start-up and plans to use the seed funding to work on big social media challenges such as user privacy, data security, and fair content monetization as part of its product offering.
“Took two years, but I finally found the start-up I was looking for! @Hapramp is indigenous, built by 5 young founders & brings together a best-in-class combination of creativity, technology & data protection,” Mahindra tweeted today.
Anand Mahindra had announced in 2018 on Twitter that he was looking to back an Indian social media start-up that meets certain criteria.
Hapramp was founded in 2018 by a team of five Computer Science graduates and offers solutions that enable people to take control of their data and earn a fair fraction from its monetary value. The start-up has been incubated through its early days by Huddle, a leading sector-agnostic incubator.
“We are extremely excited and proud to be the next-gen Indian social network startup backed by Mr Anand Mahindra. This is a massive approval of our mission to give creators the right to their content. The fact that this comes from him, someone whom we admire and who has always supported creators, gives us confidence,” said Mr Shubhendra Vikram, CEO and co-founder of Hapramp.
Hapramp sees itself as an idea lab working on the ideas that emerge from the confluence of the creative industry and information economy.
The start-up is also working on 1Ramp.io, a rewarding social media platform powered by Steem Blockchain; and Asteria Protocol, a new standard for platforms to privately and securely treat public data, besides its flagship social networking solution GoSocial. Hapramp expects to take them to market in the coming year.

Welspun India forays into health and hygiene category

Welspun India Limited, a home textile firm, makers of Terry towels and Spaces linens, has forayed into the health and hygiene category with products that include medical gowns, disposable linen, coveralls, hand sanitizing wipes, surface disinfectant wipes, masks and PPE.
The Welspun Health plans to target both consumers as well as front line workers. It is the first to offer branded disposable linen with products such as bedsheets and pillow covers, towels, blankets as well as aprons. The company will also offer coveralls made with pre-approved fabric medium, that are in line with government approved laboratories and are undergoing secondary product certification.
It is also manufacturing washable medical gowns made from soft lightweight fabric. Welspun is producing 10,000 disposable coverall suits per day made from lightweight fabric with taped seams.
According to the company, it is manufacturing 250,000 masks per day including 3 ply surgical mask, reusable mask and N95 respirator.
“Catering to the ever-evolving customer as well as institutional needs, we have used our existing competence and enhanced our capabilities to introduce a wide range of certified, advanced Health & Hygiene products. With this launch, we are hopeful to fill an existing gap in the health and hygiene segment,” said Ms Dipali Goenka, chief executive and joint managing director, Welspun India Limited.
It is in competition with companies such as Wildcraft for PPE and masks, Future Consumer Ltd-owned Kara wipes as well as Himalaya Drug Company’s wet wipes but there is no organised player offering disposable towels, bedsheets or pillow covers.
“It’s an open space and that too evolving. Consumer sentiments are towards this direction and surely therefore they will pay attention to these products. The behavioural theme of consumer around safety, preventive health etc are important levers for this space to grow,” said said Mr Ankur Bisen, senior vice president, retail and consumer, at Technopak.

Amul launches ‘Tulsi’ and ‘Ginger’ milk to boost immunity amid coronavirus

Amul, an Indian dairy cooperative society, launched ‘Ginger’ and ‘Tulsi’ variants in order to boost immunity amid the COVID-19, said Managing Director Mr R.S. Sodhi.
This comes amid when the coronavirus vaccine is still to come. The company plans to ensure that people have enough immunity till then to fight the deadly virus. The company will manufacture these new products at plants in West and North India having production capacity of 2,00,000 packs per day.
It also plans to launch more such healthy drinks in the market.
Amul was recently in news over their Twitter account briefly being restricted over their apparent anti-China post.


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Manoranjan Sahu
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