Weekly Indian Economic & Commercial Report (22nd – 28th June, 2020)

Source: IBEF News Letter

PM addresses nation on International Day of Yoga; Yoga Day is a day of solidarity and universal brotherhood, says PM; Yoga promotes family bonding: PM


The Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, addressed the nation today on the occasion of International Day of Yoga via video conference. Prime Minister said, International Yoga Day is a day of solidarity. This is the day of universal brotherhood. Due to COVID-19 global health emergency, this year International Yoga Day is being observed through the electronic and digital platform.

Prime Minister said, People are practising Yoga at their homes with their entire families.

He said, Yoga has brought us together.

The Huge participation of people in ‘My Life – My Yoga’ video blogging competition from across the globe reflects the growing popularity of yoga, he said.

Today, all of us should stay away from large gathering and practice yoga at home with our families. This year’s theme is ‘Yoga at Home and Yoga with Family’. Yoga promotes family bonding as children, youngsters, elders in family come together to practise yoga, there is a flow of positive energy in home. Yoga also promotes emotional stability, PM added.

“Yoga boosts immune system of the body. You must include Pranayama in your daily life. Pranayama Yoga or breathing exercises strengthens our respiratory system. It is more relevant in the current times as it is the respiratory system of the body that is most adversely affected by the COVID-19 virus”, Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister said, yoga has emerged as a force for unity. It deepens the bonds of humanity as it does not discriminate. It goes beyond race, colour, gender, faith, and nations. Anybody can embrace Yoga. If we can fine tune our chords of health and hope, the day is not far away when world will witness the success of healthy and happy humanity. Yoga can help us make this happen.

“As conscious citizens, we will move forward as a family and society in unison. We will try to make ‘Yoga at home and Yoga with family’ a part of our lives. We will surely succeed, we will surely win”, Prime Minister added.

NCERT launches Online Yoga Quiz Competition to promote integration of Yoga in school curriculum


Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) through National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has undertaken multi-dimensional initiatives to promote integration of Yoga in school curriculum. NCERT has developed textual materials on Yoga for Healthy Living for Upper Primary to Secondary Stages and has been organising Yoga Olympiad since 2016. In COVID-19 situation children are being guided by their teachers and parents at home to do yogic practices along with physical exercises based on Alternative Academic Calendar developed for different stages of school education. But due to the outbreak of Corona pandemic, it is difficult to organise Yoga Olympiad this year. To enable students to learn at home and be safe, Union Human Resource Development Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ through social media launched an Online Yoga Quiz Competition organised by NCERT.

Speaking on the occasion Union HRD Minister said that the objective of this Competition is to create awareness and to motivate children to acquire comprehensive information from authentic sources on different yogic practices. The Minister said that the competition aims at developing deep understanding and motivating children to apply the understanding of these practices in one’s life and living. He added that the Competition will also help children to develop healthy habits and lifestyle and thereby promote a sound emotional and mental wellbeing.

Shri Pokhriyal informed that the Yoga Quiz Competition will be on different dimensions of yoga: Yama and Niymaa Shatkarma/Kriya, Asanas, Pranayama, Meditation, Bandha and Mudra based on the syllabi developed by NCERT. He further informed that the competition, is open for all students of classes 6 to 12 across the country. The Minister highlighted that the steps have been taken to promote active participation of students with special needs by converting question from text to audio.The questions asked in this online Competition will be of Multiple-Choice type. These will be available to children both in Hindi and English language. The Child can opt appropriate language. Certificate of merit shall be issued to 100 top scorers.

The detailed scheme has already been uploaded on NCERT website (ncert.nic.in). The quiz will be open for one month, starting on 21st June and will close on 20 July midnight, 2020. Link of the quiz is given as under:

English Quiz=https://bit.ly/EYQ_NEWS

Hindi Quiz=https://bit.ly/HYQ_NEWS

National Testing Agency (NTA) launches Hindi Tests feature on National Test Abhyas mobile app; More than 9.56 lakh students have downloaded National Test Abhyas App and more than 16.5 lakhs tests have been given by students on this app – HRD Minister


Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ today announced that National Testing Agency (NTA) has launched Hindi Tests feature on National Test Abhyas mobile app. He said that competitive exam students preferring Hindi can now practice on their mobile devices with Hindi mock tests released on the National Test Abhyas smartphone app by NTA.

Shri Pokhriyal informed that last month, National Testing Agency (NTA) which conducts competitive exams like JEE and NEET has launched its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered smartphone app to empower engineering and medical aspirants to prepare safely from their homes, for entrance exams including JEE Main, NEET. So far, more than 16.5 lakh tests have been given by students on this app, and more than 9.56 lakh students have downloaded the App.
Students preferring Hindi medium were requesting to launch papers in Hindi language in order to help in their preparation. Keeping this in mind NTA has launched this feature for the app. Now Hindi language candidates will be able to practice or give mock tests for these competitive exams in Hindi. Hindi version is a boon for students across India, as now, it has become even more accessible to students whose first language is not English. It is sure to be used now by several more students, to prepare for their entrance exams.

Students who have already downloaded the app can start attempting mock tests in Hindi right away, or if they do not have the app, it can be downloaded free of cost from the Google play store. The latest version of the app offers navigation, instructions, test taking and analysis in both languages, English, and Hindi. Once the app is downloaded on their smartphone or tablet, students will need to sign up with their details, and then, they can choose Hindi as their language preference, and start giving mock tests for their selected examination in the Hindi language.
Similar to the experience in English language, every day, the NTA will release one new test in Hindi on the app, which students can download to attempt. They can attempt these tests offline, while their device is on ‘Airplane’ mode, and will need to go online once again, to submit the test and view their result. With a list of daily tests for exams including JEE Main, NEET and other exams to be added soon, students will be able to practice and attempt these tests from their homes, and can view their detailed test results immediately, along with a detailed analysis of their performance, all in their preferred language, whether Hindi or English.

Glenmark launches antiviral drug Favipiravir, trials show encouraging results in patients with mild to moderate COVID


Glenmark Pharmaceuticals launched an antiviral drug Favipiravir (brand name FabiFlu®) for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 patients.

The drug, Favipiravir, showed clinical evidence demonstrating encouraging results in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. The antiviral offers broad spectrum RNA virus coverage2 with clinical improvement noted across age groups 20 to >90 years.

According to the company’s official statement, “Favipiravir can be used in COVID-19 patients with co-morbid conditions such as diabetes and heart disease with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. It offers rapid reduction in viral load within 4 days and provides faster symptomatic and radiological improvement. Of most importance, Favipiravir has shown clinical improvement of up to 88 per cent in COVID-19 mild to moderate COVID-19 cases.”

Glenmark, a research-led, integrated global pharmaceutical company received manufacturing and marketing approval from India’s drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), making FabiFlu® the first oral Favipiravir-approved medication in India for the treatment of COVID-19.

The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and the formulation for FabiFlu® was developed by Glenmark through its own in-house R&D team.

“This approval comes at a time when cases in India are spiralling like never before, putting a tremendous pressure on our healthcare system. We hope the availability of an effective treatment such as FabiFlu® will considerably help assuage this pressure and offer patients in India a much needed and timely therapy option,” said Mr Glenn Saldanha, Chairman and Managing Director of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Mr Saldanha explained that FabiFlu® has demonstrated a positive response in mild to moderate COVID-19 patients during clinical trials. The drug is orally administered, making it as a more convenient treatment option over other intravenously administered medications. The company plans to work closely with the government and medical community to make FabiFlu® quickly accessible to patients across the country, he said.

Favipiravir is approved in Japan since 2014 for the treatment of novel or re-emerging influenza virus infections. The drug has a unique mechanism of action where it is converted into an active phosphor-ribosylated form (favipiravir-RTP) in cells and is recognized as a substrate by viral RNA polymerase, thereby reducing RNA polymerase activity.

It can benefit patients exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms. The drug will be available as a prescription-based medication for Rs 103 (US$ 1.46)/tablet, with recommended dose being 1800 mg twice daily on day 1, followed by 800 mg twice daily up to day 14.

Glenmark had earlier announced that it is conducting another clinical trial to assess the efficacy of two antivirals Favipiravir and Umifenovir as a combination therapy in moderate hospitalized adult COVID-19 patients in India.

In India, as on June 20, the total number of COVID-19 cases crossed 4 lakh mark with a record fresh 15,790 cases in last 24 hours taking the total tally to 4,00,034. The death toll stood at 13,026. So far, a total of 2,13,830 patients have been cured of COVID-19 taking the recovery rate to 54.13 per cent. Currently, there are 1,68,269 active cases and all are under active medical supervision, the Government said in a statement. The number of government labs has been increased to 715 and private labs has been increased to 259 (A total of 974). In the last 24 hours, 1,89,869 samples were tested. The total number of samples tested thus far is 66,16,496, the Union Health Ministry said.

MCL plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore in Odisha in five years


Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, plans to invest Rs 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) in Odisha by 2025-26.

According to the company’s official statement, the investment will be focused in acquisition of land for three new Mine, Develop and Operate projects, namely Siarmal (50 MTY) in Ib Valley coalfields, Subhadra (25 MTY) and Balbhadra North (10 MTY) in Talcher coalfields, as well as expansion of existing projects. It targets to increase its coal production capacity to 300 million tonnes (MT) in about three years.

In order to increase the capacity building for the new and expansion of existing projects, the company plans to invest in procurement of heavy machinery, besides setting-up of 1600 megawatt (MW) (2×800) super critical thermal power plant with planned investment of Rs 11,363 crore (US$ 1.61 billion) in Sundergarh district of Odisha.

It also plans to increase coal production by investing in strengthening coal evacuation infrastructure, like doubling of 53-km-long Jharsuguda-Sardega railway line with a flyover at Jharsuguda railway station and construction of 12 Rapid Loading Systems (RLS).

The company along with state government has planned for developing social infrastructure, like roads, flyovers, parks, etc. under its Command Area in Sundergarh, Jhasuguda, Sambalpur and Angul districts of state. It plans to spend Rs 31,000 crore (US$ 4.40 billion) out of the Re 60,000 crore (US$ 8.51 billion) for mining and social infrastructure development by 2023-24.

The company is also focusing on land reclamation and environment-protection, thus, the Innovations Cell at company headquarters is undertaking various initiatives to introduce best technology and practices for dust suppression, firefighting, eco-friendly coal loading, etc.

In order to increase its green footsteps, MCL is going to set-up more solar power plants, besides biological reclamation of mined-out area and bringing it to original form by laying top-soil, adopting best agricultural and afforestation practices.

The company has also adopted a part of tribal-dominated area under its command in Sundergarh for development under Gram Samridhi Yojana, to improve the quality of life in and around MCL’s projects.

This investment in social and mining projects is expected to increase direct and indirect employment for local youth and provide opportunities for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs).

Shri Mandaviya inaugurates India’s one of the largest 1st Virtual Healthcare & Hygiene EXPO 2020


The Minister of State for Shipping (Independent charge) and Chemicals and Fertilisers, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya today inaugurated India’s one of the largest first Virtual Healthcare and Hygiene EXPO 2020. The Expo has been organised by FICCI.

The event was inaugurated virtually which will be live daily from 22nd to 26th June 2020. Shri Anurag Sharma, M.P., Jhansi and Chairman, FICCI, AYUSH Committee, Dr Sangita Reddy, President FICCI, Ms P.V. Sindhu, eminent sports personality, Shri Badhri Iyengar, Chairman, FICCI Medical Devices Fourm and other representatives from the industries attended the Virtual EXPO.

This is the first ever largest virtual exhibition in India making a new beginning. This is the new norm, wherein business will happen virtually as Digital India is now making a way forward.

Speaking at the Inauguration, Minister said that an ecosystem is being built for a self-reliant India, which will help in ramping up domestic production in Pharmaceutical Sector and Health & Hygiene Sector. Health, Hygiene and Sanitation, Medical Textiles and Devices, AYUSH and Wellness sector assume greater significance in our resolute fight against the COVID 19 pandemic. He highlighted various initiatives announced in this direction by the Honourable PM since 2014 such as providing toilets for every household, “Ayushman Bharat” to cover 10 crore family for healthcare, “Swatch Bharat Abhiyan”, “Suvidha Sanitary” Napkin etc.. He also spoke about Jan Aushadhi stores which are providing quality medicines at affordable price for everyone. Shri Mandaviya elaborated how all these initiatives became possible due to firm vision of Narendra Modi Government.

The Minister emphasised the importance of better Women Health which he said is an area where we all should focus and work upon. He gave the example of “Suvidha Sanitary” Napkin sold in Jan Aushadhi Stores at Rs 1 (US$ 0.014)/- per pad. Such initiatives are unique way of ensuring health hygiene of womenfolk of the country. He agreed with Ms P V Sindhu that Fitness and Hygiene are integral part of Healthcare sector. “One has to be physically fit and manage exercise routine to keep one healthy,” he added.

Shri Mandaviya also spoke about the recent policy announcement of Government giving incentives for setting up of Bulk Drug Park and Medical Device Park in India. He said that Government is ready to help the Private Sector if they want to set up such parks in India by equity participation. He explained how such announcements will act as a cog in the wheel of #Atmanirbharat Abhiyan announced by the Prime Minister.

Minister acknowledged the efforts by all citizens and especially praised the frontline workers, the doctors, nurses, police etc. He appreciated and made special acknowledgement to the manufacturing community who rose to the occasion converting challenges into opportunity. From ramping up the health infra, creating beds to manufacturing PPE Kits, Masks, Ventilators, and devices. He stated that India Inc. has supported the government shoulder to shoulder.

Shri Mandaviya also spoke about the benefits of AYUSH and how the preparations of AYUSH are immunity booster. “Traditional medicines are playing an important role in supporting the Government’s efforts to tackle the Corona crisis,” he said.

Union Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar inaugurates Virtual India Pavilion at Cannes Film Market 2020


Indian Participation at Cannes Film Festival – 2020 began today with the e-inauguration of the Virtual India Pavilion by Hon’ble Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Shri Prakash Javadekarji. The Festival will be held from 22 – 26 June 2020.

The virtual edition of Cannes Film Market exemplifies, what our Prime Minister has said, “togetherness and resilience” when the humanity is facing a common challenge.

Addressing the film fraternity and film lovers across the Globe, the Hon’ble Minister said, “virtual inaugurations are the new normal and these virtual spaces are the new places for real partnerships”. He added that films are India’s soft power and the film facilitation office would be made a single window for all Center and State government permissions. The Minister invited international film fraternity to come shoot in India and sell in the world market. The Minister express hope that the two films sent to Cannes from India would be appreciated world over.

The Indian Pavilion at Cannes has always been a hub of activity. It is here that the Indian film makers and delegates interact with the international community, who while experiencing the colour, flavour and aroma of Indian cinema, also explore the opportunities of working with Indian film makers and to shoot within Incredible India that has almost unparalleled variety of locations and people.

This  year too, adopting the new normal, and to keep the ethos  of the Indian participation the prestigious film festival alive, the Indian Pavillion is expected to be buzzing with activities around co-production and film shooting in India, exports of Indian films and content, post production activities in India and fruitful business networking among delegates.  The Pavillion will facilitate B2B meetings and linkages between film makers and other media and entertainment industries stake holders.

There are couple of first-time events in the participation this year.  Two film screenings, MaiGhat: Crime No 103/200 (Marathi) and Hellaro (Gujarati) which are National Film Award winning movies are being screened in the Market.  Additionally, to mark the Centenary year of legend film maker Satyajit Ray next year, a preview festival of some his films as also music and documentary by and of Satyajit Ray will be show cased at the Indian pavilion Website.  The Website will also make available the data on film shooting in India, producers who have experience in co-production as also a list of producers who are interested in linkages with international media and entertainment industry.

In another first, Film Bazaar is featuring at Cannes, wherein NFDC’s Film Bazaar is partnering with Marche’ du Films and is taking 5 Films from Film Bazaar 2019 for pitching in the Market.

An ensemble list of achievers, stakeholders of the media & entertainment industry, and senior Government officials attended the inaugural session at the Virtual India Pavilion. These included Shri Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of I&B, Government of India, Mr Atul Kumar Tiwari, Additional Secretary, Ministry of I&B, Government of India, Ms TCA Kalyani, Joint Secretary (Films), Ministry of I&B, Government of India and MD, NFDC, Government of India, Ms Shrila Dutta Kumar, Minister (Consular) Embassy of India to France, Mr Prasoon Joshi, lyricist Chairman, CBFC, Mr Madhur Bhandarkar, National Award-winning Director, Mr D Suresh Babu, National Representative, Active Telugu Film makers Guild, Mr Colin Burrows, Special Treats Productions, Ms Kangana Ranaut, Film Personality, Ms Usha Jadhav, Actor, Mai Ghat.

The festival, in its virtual mode, apart from facilitating from B2B meetings, will also have a series of round table sessions each day on various aspects of the media and entertainment industry with panellists participating from the world over as also B2G and G2G meetings. The website of the Pavilion can be accessed at www.indiaatcannes.in and at www.marchedufilms.com.

Over 2000 people viewed virtual inauguration today.

Decarbonising Transport: International Project to Develop Pathway to Low-CO2 Mobility for India


NITI Aayog in collaboration with International Transport Forum (ITF) will launch the “Decarbonising Transport in India” project on 24 June, with the intention to develop a pathway towards a low-carbon transport system for India.

India has been a member of ITF, an intergovernmental organisation for transport policy, since 2008.

ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim and NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant will open the public online launch event. Senior officials of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, and ITF will also be present.

The online event will inform transport and climate stakeholders in India about planned project activities. It will also offer the opportunity to provide inputs regarding India’s transport challenges and how they relate to CO2 reduction ambitions. The discussion will help to focus the project further on India’s specific needs and circumstances.

The “Decarbonising Transport in India” project will design a tailor-made transport emissions assessment framework for India. It will provide the government with a detailed understanding of current and future transport activity and the related CO2 emissions as a basis for their decision-making.

  • What: Launch of “Decarbonising Transport in India”
  • When: Wednesday, 24 June, 17:00–19:00 IST.
  • Where: YouTube livestream at https://youtu.be/l2G5x5RdBUM

The India project is carried out in the wider context of the International Transport Forum’s “Decarbonising Transport” initiative. It is part of the “Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies” (DTEE) family of projects, which supports transport decarbonisation across different world regions. India, Argentina, Azerbaijan, and Morocco are current participants. The DTEE is a collaboration between the ITF and the Wuppertal Institute, supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

Milkbasket raises US$ 5.5 million funding led by Inflection Point Ventures


Milkbasket, a grocery delivery platform, has raised US$ 5.5 million as a part of its ongoing series B round led by the Inflection Point Ventures.

The round also saw participation from existing investors including Blume Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Mayfield India, Unilever Ventures and BeeNext.

Though, the valuation at which the funds were raised was not disclosed.

So far, Milkbasket has raised over US$ 33 million in funding.

“This is probably our last fundraise on our path to profitability – that we target to achieve in 2020. Our Gurgaon, Noida and Bengaluru operations are already breaking even with other cities on an accelerated track,” Milkbasket co-founder and CEO Mr Anant Goel said.

He added that these funds will “provide a further boost in our efforts to achieve the same and necessary buffers to deal with any eventualities”.

Presently, Milkbasket serves over 1.3 lakh households and offers over 9,000 products across fruits and vegetables, dairy, bakery and other FMCG categories. The company is operational in Gurugram, Noida, Dwarka, Ghaziabad, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru.

“…Milkbasket has a very lean delivery model using the milk-run concept that enables them to run a very efficient and cost-effective supply chain. This will help them become profitable very soon and first among the various competitive players in the market,” Mr Vinay Bansal, Founder CEO of Inflection Point Ventures said.

L&T signs MoU with US-based KBR for building refineries


Larsen & Toubro’s (L&T) hydrocarbon arm signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with US-based engineering company KBR for construction of modular process plants for refinery and petrochemicals projects.

KBR and L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering (LTHE) will cooperate to expand business opportunities for refineries and petrochemical units.

“Through this MoU with KBR, LTHE will combine its best-in-class engineering, world class modular fabrication facilities and core strength of project management and construction to offer safe, reliable, and optimized solutions to our customers,” said Mr Subramanian Sarma, managing director and chief executive officer of LTHE.

This has given LTHE opportunity to exclusively bid for KBR’s solid acid alkylation technology, solvent de-asphalting technology, and catalytic olefins technology for global projects with special emphasis on India, South East Asia, Middle East, and Africa.

In FY20, L&T’s hydrocarbon has reported a decline of 25 per cent in new orders at Rs 20,964 crore (US$ 2.97 billion) due to delay of orders mainly in onshore vertical. The companies across the world have delayed petrochemical projects in view of the economic slowdown and ongoing uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immunity booster Herbal Tea from NIPER Mohali


National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPERs) have introduced many   innovative products like safety devices, sanitizers, and masks to fight COVID epidemic. At the same time, it has also come up with an immunity booster Herbal Tea to strengthen physical resistance to infection.

As no new effective drug and vaccine is available yet to treat COVID-19, it is important for people to have a strong immunity system so that they can fight any kind of infection easily and keep themselves safe. Keeping this in mind department of natural products, NIPER at SAS Nagar, Mohali has developed Immunity booster Herbal tea. This Herbal Tea is aimed at modulating immune response in body so that it may be used as a preventive remedy against COVID-19 viral infection.

A strong immune system protects individuals from infections and has the ability to neutralize and eliminate pathogenic micro-organism such as bacteria, viruses and any other kind of toxic products. Modulation of immune response could provide a substitute for anti-viral/anti-microbial drugs. Herbs are known to possess immunomodulatory properties which mean that they produce both specific and nonspecific immune responses.

This Herbal Tea is a combination of 6 locally available herbs like Aswagandha, Giloe, Mulethi, Tulsi and Green Tea that are mixed in carefully selected proportion keeping in mind their action as immunity enhancer, sensory appeal, ease of preparation and acceptable palatability. The selection of Herbs was based on RASAYANA concept described in Ayurveda. Rasayana means rejuvenation. These Herbs have long been used in various Ayurvedic formulations and are known for their immunomodulatory effects. These Herbs act at the cellular immunity level and boost the immune response generated by our body to fight viral/bacterial diseases. The formula has been designed in a way to achieve maximum immune boosting effect.

This tea can be taken 3 times a day. It is also safe for children and aged persons. It is soothing on throat and can help the body to fight seasonal flu problems also. It is an inhouse preparation with all the Herbs collected/procured from the NIPER medical plant garden in the campus.

NIPERs are the institutes of national importance under the aegis of the Department of Pharmaceutical, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers. The seven institutes are functional at Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, Hajipur, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mohali, and Raebareli.

Vedantu invests US$ 2 million in doubt solving app Instasolv


Vedantu, an edtech start-up, invested US$ 2 million in Instasolv, a doubt-solving app for high school students and for IITJEE, and NEET aspirants along with full rights to acquire the app. This investment was a part of Instasolv’s pre-series A funding round.

This marks Vedantu’s first investment in an EdTech company and will strengthen its focus in the doubt-solving space, where doubts are solved by quality teachers in a chat format.

Instasolv is a start-up dedicated on doubt-solving category and helps students to resolve doubts instantly with a focus on grades 6 to 12 and students aspiring for IIT JEE and NEET. Here, students can get answer instantly within seconds by uploading the photo of a question on the app. The app has database of 7 million question and answers (Q&As) and it answers almost 100,000 questions daily.

“Through Vedantu’s investment in Instasolv, we plan to expand our offering and enrich features so that students can access learning on the app itself. We believe that providing access to great teachers and vernacular content (keeping in mind state syllabi) at a price accessible to Tier 3 & Tier 4 town will help drive access to students,” said Mr Aditya Singhal, chief executive, and co-founder, Instasolv.

Vedantu is also expanding its focus into Tier 3 and Tier 4 towns where the availability to quality teachers is a challenge and doubt solving is a key imperative for students.

Vedantu witnessed an increase during COVID-19 lockdown, thus it announced free access to its complete learning platform during this time. It also claims to have solved over one million doubts for its students. The number of subscribers on the platform has increased exponentially to 1.1 million users.

“Our investment in Instasolv is a strategic step to strengthen our play in doubt-solving, which is one of the key aspects of learning online. We are excited to partner Instasolv and leverage the category as more students join this new learning wave in Tier 3 and Tier 4 markets,” added Mr Vamsi Krishna, chief executive, and co-Founder, Vedantu in a statement.

Vedantu presently offers both one-to-one and one-to-many tutoring on its platform for students from 6th to 12th grades, in all major subjects, including mathematics, science, social studies, and English, for the Central Board of Secondary Education, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, and International Baccalaureate.

Vedantu has received funding of US$ 85 million from investors such as GGV Capital, Accel Partners, Omidyar Network, Westbridge Capital, Tiger Global, and others.

Convergent Finance invests US$ 14 million in Jyoti Foods


Convergent Finance LLP, the Mumbai based private equity fund, invested Rs 107 crore (US$ 14.1 million) in Jyoti International Foods, an end-to-end Supply Chain solution provider in Indian food services industry, for acquiring a minority stake.

According to company’s statement, this investment will be utilised for technology upgradation and new market development besides as an equity tap to undertake mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and business expansions plans.

Jyoti offers it service to a wide range of customers within the food services, quick-service restaurants (QSRs), cloud kitchens and cinemas. It also provides a variety of solutions – managing end-to-end logistics, warehousing, and procurement planning. The company was set up in 2005 and has clientele including Subway, Rebel Foods, Cinepolis, Chili’s, Holiday Inn among others, across 150 plus cities in 25 states across the country.

“We are really excited and look forward to this new partnership which will assist and guide us to scale up our business, thereby enabling us to become the market leader in providing world class end-to-end SCM solutions. We intend to draw upon the deep expertise of the Convergent team in M&As,” said Mr Akhil Puri, Managing Director of Jyoti.

“Given our track record of working with great platform companies to help transform them into global leaders, Jyoti will benefit from our network of relationships, strategic insights and operational expertise,” said Mr Harsha Raghavan, Managing Partner at Convergent.

Convergent Finance acquired a minority stake in Hindustan Foods Limited, a contract manufacturer for the FMCG industry, in February last year, as its debut deal. Hindustan Foods manufactures a range of products in food and non-food, extending to cosmetics, personal care, and home care products.

Convergent is led by Mr Harsha Raghavan, an industry veteran who previously founded and led Fairfax’s investment activities in India.

Union HRD Minister virtually launches ‘YUKTI 2.0’ platform for Higher Education Institutes in New Delhi


Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, today launched an initiative ‘YUKTI 2.0’ to help systematically assimilate technologies having commercial potential and information related to incubated start-ups in our higher education institutions. Minister of State for HRD, Shri Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Additional Secretary (Higher Education), Shri Rakesh Ranjan, Chairman, AICTE Prof Anil Sahasrabudhe, Member Secretary, AICTE, Dr Rajiv Kumar and Chief Innovation Officer, MHRD’s Innovation Cell Dr AbhayJere were also present during the occasion through online medium.

Earlier, the Minister had launched the YUKTI (Young India combating COVID with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation) web portal on 11 April 2020. Ministry of HRD prepared the portal in view of Coronavirus. The portal intends to cover the different dimensions of COVID-19 challenges in a very holistic and comprehensive way. Through this portal, the Ministry of Human Resource Development will endeavour to ensure that students, teachers, and researchers in higher educational institutions are getting appropriate support to meet the requirements needed to advance their technologies and innovations.

While addressing the participants Shri Pokhriyal said that YUKTI 2.0 is logical extension of earlier version of ‘YUKTI’, an initiative of MHRD, to identify ideas relevant in COVID pandemic. He also informed that all the outcomes of earlier version of ‘YUKTI’ will be released soon.

The minister appreciated the initiative and said that our Prime Minister has given us the mission of making Bharat ‘Atmanirbhar’ and, YUKTI 2.0 initiative is a very important step in that direction.He said that our youngsters are very capable of thinking innovatively and we should make every possible effort to help them convert their ideas into enterprises. More importantly, initiative like YUKTI 2.0 will also help in fostering the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in our academic institutions”.

The Minister expressed his happiness while launching the YUKTI portal. He also invited students, faculty members, start-ups and other stakeholders of higher education institutions to register on the YUKTI portal and share their technologies and innovations.

Shri Pokhriyal said that this database will provide a clear picture of the state of the innovation ecosystem of our higher educational institutions. This will also help the government to identify bottlenecks and formulate appropriate policies to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in the country. Ministry will provide the best possible help to support creative innovations and technologies to help the society at large. The Minister hoped that this portal will prove to be a milestone towards promoting innovations and entrepreneurship culture in our higher education system and involving youth in nation building.

Minister of State for HRD, Shri Sanjay Dhotre also congratulated the entire team of MHRD’s Innovation Cell and AICTE for this unique initiative. He said that the “innovations in medical field developed by engineers have resulted in disruptive technologies. The Minister hoped that even ‘YUKTI 2.0’ will help us identify many more disruptive solutions from our higher and technical institutions.”

Chairman AICTE Prof Anil Sahasrabudhe informed about the need of such platform and emphasized on the need to support student entrepreneurs keen on pursuing their start-ups along with academics while Mr Rakesh Rajan, Additional Secretary, MHRD said that YUKTI 2.0 needs to emerge as Market place for connecting innovators with investors, so that innovative technologies can be taken forward for commercialization.

For more details visit the website: www.mind.mic.gov.in.

Government Schemes for MSMEs & NBFCs creating significant impact – Sanctions under Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) cross Rs 79,000 crore


The interventions by Government for MSMEs, have been gaining rapid traction.  Under the Emergency Credit Line backed by a Government guarantee, Banks from Public and Private Sectors have so far sanctioned loans worth over Rs 79,000 crore (US$ 11.21 billion) as of June 20, 2020, of which more than Rs 35,000 crore (US$ 4.97 billion) has already been disbursed.

The top lenders under the Scheme are SBI, HDFC Bank, Bank of Baroda, PNB and Canara Bank. This has helped 19 lakh MSMEs and other businesses restart their businesses post the lockdown. As part of the Aatmanirbhar package Government had announced its plans for Rs 3 lakh crore (US$ 42.56 billion) as additional credit to MSMEs and small businesses. Such enterprises were to be eligible to receive up to 20 per cent of their existing borrowing as additional loans at interest rates which were capped.

Separately, under RBI’s Special Liquidity Facility announced in March-April 2020, SIDBI has sanctioned over Rs 10,220 crore (US$ 1.45 billion) to NBFCs, Micro Finance Institutions and Banks for lending to MSME and small borrowers. National Housing Bank (NHB) has sanctioned its entire facility of Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.42 billion) to Housing Finance Companies. This refinance by SIDBI & NHB is in addition to ongoing schemes through which over Rs 30,000 crore (US$ 4.26 billion) has been sanctioned. NBFCs and MFIs are being further helped under the Extended Partial Guarantee Scheme where approvals have crossed Rs 5,500 crore (US$ 780.25 million). Transactions for another Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 709.32 million) are under process of approval while certain other deals are currently under negotiation.

PFC ends FY 2019-20 on strong note with loan sanctions of more than Rs 1 Lakh Crore


Power Finance Corporation (PFC), India’s leading NBFC in power sector and a central PSU under Ministry of Power, ended financial year 2019-20 (April-March) on a strong note despite numerous challenges including outbreak of COVID 19.

The lending institution delivered a sound financial performance with loan sanctions of more than Rs 1 lakh crore (US$ 14.19 billion) along with Loan Disbursements of about Rs 68,000 crore (US$ 9.65 billion) in the last financial year. The highlight of the year was disbursement of Rs 11,000 crore (US$ 1.56 billion) in the last week of March 2020 despite the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID 19. Backed by strong IT infrastructure, PFC managed this feat of sizeable disbursement even though the employees were working from home.

During the year, PFC also registered 16 per cent growth in its standalone revenue while it managed 16 bps reduction in cost of funds. The net NPAs of the company reduced to 3.8 per cent from 4.55 per cent, showcasing the robust performance of the lender. Further, the Company registered a 10 per cent growth in its Loan Assets, 16 per cent bps reduction in cost of funds, and 16bps increase in Interest Spread. Further, during the fiscal, PFC resolved two stressed projects – Rattan India Amrawati & GMR Chhattisgarh worth Rs 2,700 crore (US$ 3.83 billion).

Despite challenging environment, Y-O-Y Net Profit is comparable at Rs 6788 crore (US$ 962.97 million) for FY20 as against Rs 6953 crore (US$ 986.38 million) of FY19 excluding one-time impact of DTA due to change in corporate tax rate. Profit has also been impacted due to extraordinary exchange rate variation of 6 per cent in the last 45 days of FY20.

Financial highlights of FY 2019-20 (Consolidated basis) include 15 per cent Revenue Growth, 12 per cent Loan Asset Growth, Net NPAs reduced to 3.57 per cent from 4.20 per cent

KVIC launches Sandalwood and Bamboo plantation, a new initiative to spur monetization of its assets


The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), in a first of its kind initiative has begun exploring the untapped but highly profitable venture of sandalwood and bamboo tree plantation for monetization of its assets. Seeking to encourage commercial plantation of sandalwood and bamboo, the KVIC has begun a drive with plantation of 500 saplings each of sandalwood and bamboo at its Nashik training centre spread over 262 acres of land.

Union Minister for MSME, Shri Nitin Gadkari has lauded the initiative of KVIC.

KVIC has procured sandalwood saplings from Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre (FFDC) Kannauj, a unit of the Ministry of MSME, in Uttar Pradesh and Bamboo saplings from Assam. Plantation ceremony was launched through videoconference by KVIC Chairman, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena yesterday.

The plantation of the Sandalwood has also been planned with an eye on creating an asset for the KVIC as it is estimated to fetch between Rs 50 crore to Rs 60 crore (US$ 7.09 to 8.51 million) in the next 10 to 15 years. A sandalwood tree matures in 10 to 15 years and as per the current rate, sells at Rs 10 lakh (US$ 14,186) to Rs 12 lakh (US$ 17,023) each.

Likewise, a special variety of bamboo, Bambusa Tulda, used for making Agarbatti sticks, brought from Assam has been planted in Maharashtra with an aim to support the local Agarbatti industry and to create regular income for the training centre.

One bamboo plant gets ready for harvesting in the third year. Each matured log of bamboo, weighing approximately 25 kg, sells at an average of Rs 5 (US$ 0.07) per kg. At this rate, one matured log of bamboo fetches nearly Rs 125 (US$ 1.77). The bamboo plant has a unique quality. Each bamboo plant, after the third year, produces minimum 5 logs and thereafter, the production of bamboo logs doubles every year. This means, the 500 bamboo saplings will provide at least 2500 bamboo logs in the third year and will generate an additional income of nearly Rs 3.25 lakh (US$ 4,610) to the institution which will grow every year by nearly two-times.

Further, in terms of quantity, 2500 bamboo logs will weigh approximately 65 MT of bamboo that will be used for making Agarbatti sticks and thus create large-scale local employment.

In the last few months, KVIC has planted nearly 2500 trees of Bambusa Tulda in different parts of India. 500 saplings of Bambusa Tulda have been planted in each of the cities like Delhi, Varanasi and Kannauj apart from the latest plantation in Nashik to ensure local availability of raw material for Agarbatti manufacturers at a reasonable cost.

“Plantation of sandalwood and bamboo trees on vacant land aims at monetization of the property. At the same time, it will serve the dual purpose of meeting the huge global demand of Sandalwood while Bamboo plantation will support the local Agarbatti manufacturers in the light of recent decision taken by the Central government to make India ‘Aatmanirbhar’ in Agarbatti making,” KVIC Chairman, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena said. “We are identifying more such properties of KVIC across the country where such plantations can be launched,” Saxena said, adding if the farmers start planting just two sandalwood trees in their fields, they will be economically self-dependent to meet any financial eventuality.

Plantation of sandalwood trees has high potential in the export market as well. Sandalwood and its oil have high demand in countries like China, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, and the USA. However, there is a short supply of sandalwood and hence a great opportunity for India to increase sandalwood plantation and occupy the position of a global leader in sandalwood production.

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurates Product Application and evelopment Centre at Paradip, Odisha;


Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel Shri Dharmendra Pradhan along with the Chief Minister of Odisha Shri Naveen Patnaik today inaugurated a Product Application and Development Centre (PADC) setup by Indian Oil at Paradip, through video conference.

PADC has been setup by IndianOil at Paradip with a capex of Rs 43 crore (US$ 6.10 billion), adjacent to its Refinery and Petrochemicals complex. There are 4 laboratories in PADC namely Polymer Processing Lab, Analytical Testing Lab, Chemical Analysis Lab and Characterisation Lab. The Technical centre is equipped with 50 latest sophisticated polymer testing and processing equipment to cater to the needs of customers and new investors. PADC, Paradip is recognized as a research centre by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt of India.

PADC will act as incubation centre for new entrepreneur development in and around Odisha in the field of Plastics. The centre will render assistance to customers and investors in product and application development for polymer finished products such as moulded furniture, houseware, woven sacks for packaging cement, fertiliser, healthcare applications like baby diaper, personal protective suit, mask etc. The centre will carry out testing and developmental activities for investors of Paradeep Plastic Park and other clusters like Balasore and Khurda. The centre will impart requisite product and process training to the prospective and budding investors including hand holding activities for plant set-up, selection of machinery and material. PADC will provide quality assurance, complaint handling, customer support, benchmarking studies, new and niche grade development, and application development activities.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Pradhan said, “Fueled by the Honorable Prime Minister’s vision of Mission Purvodaya of ensuring eastern India-led national growth, centre and Odisha Government are working together to ensure development of Odisha. The state holds immense potential in petrochemicals, steel, mines and coal, Aluminium, tourism, textile, agri entrepreneurship. Government of India is committed to promoting entrepreneurship in Odisha across sectors which will lead to large scale job creation.”

“The world class facility inaugurated today will ensure availability of raw material, facilitate entrepreneurs in petrochemicals sector and provide training to the prospective and budding investors. This centre-of-excellence will help in creating several new employment and self-employment opportunities for the Odia youth, women and hardworking workforce and will further boost state’s revenue and economy. This is a big milestone in the development of Odisha and will contribute to the making of an AatmanirbharOdisha and subsequently contribute to the overall vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.”

Chief Minister, Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik expressing happiness at the inauguration said, “This centre will not only perform a pivotal role in developing new material and innovative applications, it will also help investors to set up manufacturing units in plastic and polymers sectors”. He said that IOCL has been acting as an anchor in development of plastics and polymer industry in the state, and the new Centre will further support the innovation and entrepreneurship in the area.

The Secretary, Ministry of PNG, Shri Tarun Kapoor and Chairman IOCL Shri Sanjeev Singh also spoke on the occasion. Officers of Odisha government, M/PNG and IOCL were present in the virtual ceremony.

Nutrition brand OZiva raises US$ 5 million from Matrix Partners India


OZiva, a plant-based nutrition brand, has raised US$ 5 million, as part of Series A round, led by Matrix Capital India. The funding round also witnessed the participation from existing investor Titan Capital.

The company plans to use these funds to boost Research and Development (RandD), technology and expand its team along with widening customer base.

It was founded by Ms Aarti Gill and Mr Mihir Gadani in 2016. OZiva provides everyday fitness, skin, and hair nutrition products.

“We started OZiva with a simple vision of enabling millions of people to be healthier and better. Having a strong digital ecosystem and personalised consultations has helped us in delivering more than just the product and has reflected in our growth numbers as well as unit economics”, said Ms Gill, co-founder, OZiva.

The target audience of company is mainly women in the 18-55 age group.

“OZiva symbolizes the future of wellness and nutrition, with its vision to be the #1 Plant-based nutrition brand in the country. Its maniacal product focus using the highest quality ingredients, as well as leveraging the power of content and community to educate and learn from consumers makes it a truly differentiated offering”, said Mr Sanjot Malhi, director, Matrix India.

Presently, several start-ups in India are focusing on plant-based nutrition products for customers. Apart from OZiva, there is also Mumbai-based EVO Foods, which offers plant-based eggs, to cater to vegetarians.

Matrix Partners has also invested in other food and nutrition start-ups including, Nothing Else, a clean label food brand; Open Secret, an FandB brand focused on the healthy snack market; Delight, a direct-to-home, mass premium milk brand, Mosaic Wellness, a lifestyle and wellness consumer brand; aandMe, a FandB brand focused on women’s health and wellness.

Best Regards,

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