Source: IBEF News Letter

Sowing area of Kharif crops 21.2 per cent more compared to last year
20.07.2020

As on 16.07.2020, actual rainfall received in the country is 338.3 mm against normal of 308.4 mm i.e. departure of (+) 10 per cent during the period from 01.06.2020 to 16.07.2020. As on 16.07.2020 as per report of CWC, the live water storage available in 123 reservoirs in the country is 150 per cent of live storage of corresponding period of last year and 133 per cent of storage of average of last ten years.

As on 17.07.2020, total kharif crops have been sown on 691.86 lakh ha area against 570.86 lakh ha area during the corresponding period of last year, thus increase in area coverage by 21.20 per cent compared to last year in the country.

The sowing area coverage under Kharif crops is as follows: Farmers have sown

Rice on 168.47 lakh ha against 142.06 lakh ha area last year i.e. increase in area coverage by 18.59 per cent,

Pulses on 81.66 lakh ha against 61.70 lakh ha area last year i.e. increase in area coverage by 32.35 per cent,

Coverage of Coarse Cereals reported on 115.60 lakh ha area against 103.00 lakh ha area last year i.e. increase in area coverage by 12.23 per cent,

Oilseeds 154.95 lakh ha area against 110.09 lakh ha area last year i.e. area coverage increased by 40.75 per cent,

Sugarcane on 51.29 lakh ha area against 50.82 lakh ha area last year i.e. increase in area coverage by 0.92 per cent

Under Cotton, area coverage reported on 113.01 lakh ha area against 96.35 lakh ha area last year i.e. increase in area coverage by 17.28 per cent and

In case of Jute and Mesta, on 6.88 lakh ha area against 6.84 lakh ha area last year i.e. increase in area coverage by 0.70 per cent reported in the country.

Mobile App of PM SVANidhi launched to bring Microcredit facility for street vendors at their door steps
20.07.2020

Mr Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched the Mobile Application of PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) here today. This App aims to provide user friendly digital interface for Lending Institutions (LIs) and their field functionaries for sourcing and processing loan applications of street vendors under the Scheme. The launch event was organised through a video conference in which, besides senior officials from the Ministry, Principal Secretaries dealing with Urban Development Department and other officials from the States and UTs participated.

PM SVANidhi Mobile App is a step towards boosting the use of digital technology and will enable field functionaries of LIs like Banking Correspondents (BCs) and Agents of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/ Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs), who have proximity with the street vendors, to ensure maximum coverage of the Scheme. It is believed that launch of Mobile App will give impetus to the implementation strategy of the Scheme besides promoting paper-less digital accessing of micro-credit facilities by the Street Vendors.

Ministry has already launched the Web Portal on June 29, 2020. This App has all the features similar to the Web Portal of PM SVANidhi added with the feature of easy portability. The features include vendor search in the survey data, e-KYC of applicants, processing of applications, and real time monitoring. The App can be downloaded from the Google play store for use by the LIs and their field functionaries. Since the commencement of lending process under PM SVANidhi on July 02, 2020, more than 1,54,000 Street Vendors have applied for working capital loan across States/ UTs and out of which over 48,000 have already been sanctioned.

PM SVANidhi was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, on June 01, 2020, for providing affordable Working Capital loan to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected due to COVID-19 lockdown. This scheme targets to benefit over 50 lakh Street Vendors who had been vending on or before 24 March, 2020, in urban areas including those from surrounding peri-urban/ rural areas. Under the Scheme, the vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs 10,000 (US$ 141.86), which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year. On timely/ early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy @ 7 per cent per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on quarterly basis. There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan. The scheme promotes digital transactions through cash back incentives up to an amount of Rs 100 (US$ 1.41) per month. Moreover, the vendors can achieve their ambition of going up on the economic ladder by availing the facility of enhancement of the credit limit on timely/ early repayment of loan.

CSIR-CMERI, Durgapur, unveils the COVID Protection System (COPS) for Workplace
20.07.2020

CSIR-CMERI, Durgapur, unveiled the COVID Protection System (COPS) for Workplace as a game-changer in the current Pandemic Scenario. Prof (Dr) Harish Hirani, Director, CSIR-CMERI, Durgapur, while unveiling the COPS for Workplace conglomeration of technology, stated that, “Apart from the Healthcare Workers, the frontline Security Guards of any organisation are also very vulnerable to COVID through infected individuals and contaminated objects. CSIR-CMERI, Durgapur, in the near future will be developing a Digital Entry Management Systems whereby workflow would be automated and would be based upon Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things. The COPS for Workplace includes contactless Solar Based Intelligent Mask Automated Dispensing Unit cum Thermal Scanner (IntelliMAST), Touchless Faucet (TouF) and 360° Car Flusher are now available for Technology Transfers and Product Orders.”

Dr Hirani further stated that, “CSIR-CMERI, Durgapur, aims to support and align the Start-Ups and Entrepreneurs while developing its technologies to give boost to their aspirations and give them a platform to showcase their Innovative potential. CSIR-CMERI is also focused upon developing products Made in India, which will consequently boost the Atma-Nirbhar Bharat flagship initiative of the Government of India”.

The COPS is a conglomeration of the following technologies:

Solar Based Intelligent Mask Automated Dispensing Unit cum Thermal Scanner (IntelliMAST)-The Solar Based IntelliMAST is an Intelligent surveillance kiosk which identifies the body temperature and whether an individual is wearing Face Mask or not through customised Software solutions. The information about an employee not wearing a Face Mask is provided to the Administration for Cashless delivery of the Mask and later deduction of the price from the Salary. In this regard the system harnesses Internet-of-Things in a seamless manner. The in-built Thermal Scanner detects probable rise in Body Temperature through forehead scanning and audio-visual alert the Security Guards. The IntelliMAST will help ensure safety of supervising staff and implementation of precautionary measure in any large organization. The IntelliMAST will also facilitate Identity Card based Mask Dispensing & Attendance System. Facial Recognition based and ID Card based Attendance System will be incorporated into the system soon and therefore may act as a comprehensive solution for Office and Industrial Complexes as well as School and College campuses. This system uses Artificial Intelligence and Information Technology to give real-time results and can be synchronised with the Human Resource Data of any organisation for any real-time data response and dissemination of information. The IntelliMAST system is backed up by Solar Power for uninterrupted Power Supply during blackouts. The power supply requirement of the IntelliMAST is 40-50 Watts sourced through a Hybrid combination of Solar Power & Electricity.

Touchless Faucet (TouF)- The Touchless Faucet (TouF) is being launched for households and Office Spaces. The system dispenses Liquid Soap and Water from the same Faucet with a time-gap of 30 seconds, which is as per the latest Government guidelines. The Faucet can be very easily mounted on top of any Wash-Basin and will be available in Plug and Play mode for very easy installation. This System dispenses Water 30 seconds after dispensing Soap in a Touch-free Mechanism as per Local Government guidelines and can be very easily mounted on top of household wash basins. This domestic variant of the Dispensing system will help in arresting the contamination and help in further containing the spread of infection among the family members, for any asymptomatic individual. The technology has a power supply requirement of only 10 Watts.

360° Car Flusher: The CSIR-CMERI developed 360° Car Flusher is a Sodium Hypochlorite Water Screen which uses specialised Nozzle Design to ensure that the Sanitizer Diffused Water is evenly spread over and under the Car Body/Wheels with adequate Water Force and coverage. The Architecture of the 360° Car Flusher is based upon a Water Channel Frame with appropriate number of specialised Nozzles which can be customised and modified as per the specific requirements of any particular organisation. The Water Channel Frame and Nozzle Design of the Flusher have been optimised to ensure Water Efficiency and reduce Water Wastage. It requires 750 watts of power required to run a pump.

Excitel eyes Rs 200-crore fund raise, to expand to 50 Indian cities
20.07.2020

Broadband service provider, Excitel plans to raise Rs 200 crore (US$ 28.37 million) in funding as it plans to expand FTTH (fibre to the home) deployment on its network and establish presence in 50 cities by December 2021.

Currently, the company has about 4 lakh subscribers and operates in nine cities including Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Vijayawada, Kanpur, Lucknow, Jaipur, Jhansi, and Guntur.

According to Excitel CEO Mr Vivek Raina, wireline broadband is a highly unserved category in India with about 2 crore users for a population of 120 crore people.

“Telcos, traditionally, have been focussing on pockets of Indian cities for rolling out wired broadband services and these pockets are either high-end colonies or multi-story buildings where deployment is easy but that is 20-25 per cent of the city,” said Mr Raina.

He added that the company’s approach is to partner with local cable operators and local Internet operators, particularly to get coverage in the 75 per cent of the city which other operators/telcos are unable to cover.

He said that the company is in talks with investors to raise Rs 200 crore (US$ 28.37 million) in funding.

“This will be utilised for expansion and FTTH (fibre to the home) deployment. The transaction is expected to be closed by October this year. We are talking to various investors. We had previously raised about Rs 50 crore (US$ 7.09 million) from investors in Europe,” he said.

Presently, the company has 1,100 partners and is working on expanding the network of 2,500 partners by the end of 2021.

It has also set aim to expand its user base to 5 lakh users by December 2020 and double it to 10 lakh by December 2021. This growth will come on the back of the company’s expansion to 50 cities by December next year, including state capitals and class B cities like Mysore, Mangalore etc.

He added, “By end of 2020, we will sell only FTTH. The plan is to start converting legacy (copper) infrastructure to fibre starting next year and in 2021, complete the transition to completely fibre. The investment will be made by both Excitel and the local partner”.

According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data, the number of broadband subscribers had increased from 681.11 million at the end of February 2020 to 687.44 million at the end of March, with a monthly growth rate of 0.93 per cent as per the reports received from 342 operators. This consist of wired subscribers, mobile devices users (phones and dongles) and fixed wireless subscribers (Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, point-to-point Radio and VSAT).

The number of wired subscribers stood at 19.18 million at the end of March 2020.

Around 98.99 market share were held by the top five service providers at the end of March 2020. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd had 388.39 million users, Bharti Airtel (148.57 million), Vodafone Idea (117.45 million), BSNL (24.50 million) and Atria Convergence (ACT) (1.61 million).

The revenue of Excitel in FY20 was of Rs 135 crore (US$ 19.15 million), and the company is targeting a top-line of RS 200 crore (US$ 28.37 million) in the ongoing fiscal, said Mr Raina.

It provides employment to approximately 3,000 people, directly and indirectly (partner staff), and plans to double to around 6,000 people by the end of 2021, he added.

“Pre-COVID consumption was about 7-8 GB/day for a subscriber, and this has increased to 11-12 GB a day. People are working and studying from home, which is driving higher consumption. Since lockdown began, we have added 52,000 new users of which 30,000 were in Delhi-NCR alone. There has been a 30-35 per cent increase in sales per month since lockdown,” he added.

Zydus Cadila gets USFDA nod to market generic tension headache tablets
20.07.2020

Zydus Cadila, an Indian drug firm, received final approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to market generic Butalbital, Acetaminophen and Caffeine combination tablets to treat symptoms of tension headaches.

It received final approval from USFDA to market Butalbital, Acetaminophen and Caffeine tablets in strengths of 50mg/325mg/40 mg, as per the Zydus Cadila statement.

The company will manufacture the drug at Nesher Pharma’s manufacturing facility at St. Louis in the US, it added.

This combination medication is used to treat symptom complex of tension (or muscle contraction) headaches, Zydus Cadila said.

So far, the group has received 294 approvals and has filed over 390 abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) since the commencement of the filing process, it added.

India’s first of its kind public EV Charging Plaza inaugurated by Union Power Minister
21.07.2020

With a focus on enhancing energy efficiency and promoting e-mobility, Shri R.K Singh, the Minister for Power, New & Renewable Energy, today inaugurated India’s first public EV (Electric Vehicle) charging plaza at Chelmsford Club in New Delhi. While speaking at the occasion Shri Singh said, “The EV charging plaza is a new avenue for making e-mobility ubiquitous and convenient in India. Such innovative initiatives are imperative for the creation of a robust e-mobility ecosystem in the country. My congratulations to both EESL and NDMC.”

EESL is spearheading the EV ecosystem development in India by undertaking demand aggregation for procuring EVs and identifying innovative business models for implementation of Public Charging Station (PCS). EESL in collaboration with NDMC has established India’s first of its kind public EV Charging Plaza in Central Delhi. This plaza will host 5 Electric Vehicle Chargers of different specifications.

Speaking on the inauguration of public EV plaza Shri Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, Secretary, Ministry of Power said, “The charging plaza, with its compatibility with a wide range of electric vehicles will greatly spur e-mobility adoption. This would make EV charging hassle free and convenient for the consumers, thereby making e-mobility adoption an attractive proposition.”

Union Power Minister Shri R K Singh also launched today “Retrofit of Air-conditioning to improve Indoor Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency” (RAISE) national programme. At the launch, Shri R.K Singh stated, “I believe the RAISE initiative can potentially alleviate the issue of bad air quality in workspaces across the nation and pioneer ways to make them healthier and greener. I look forward to the success of their programme and wish both EESL and USAID best of luck for their future endeavours.

Poor air quality has been a concern in India for quite some time and has become more important in light of the COVID pandemic. As people return to their offices and public spaces, maintaining good indoor air quality is essential for occupant comfort, well-being, productivity, and the overall public health.

In that context, EESL has undertaken a retrofit of its office air-conditioning and ventilation system. This is a part of the larger initiative to “Retrofit of Air-conditioning to improve Indoor air quality for Safety and Efficiency” developed for healthy and energy efficient buildings, in partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) MAITREE programme. EESL’s corporate office in Scope Complex has been taken up as a pilot for this initiative. The pilot focuses on improving indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal comfort, and energy efficiency (EE) in EESL office’s air conditioning system.

As per EESL, pilot project has shown very impressive results – about 80 per cent improvement in Air Quality parameters with almost no implementation hassles. Considering employee’s occupational health and safety is paramount in any workplace amidst the COVID-19 scenario, EESL is keen to provide such solutions across the country with standardisation and demand aggregation approach.

Both the initiatives reaffirm the pledge for ecological preservation and building a resilient energy sector, undertaken by EESL and other key stakeholders during the “#iCommit” campaign held on World Environment Day.

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports partners with UNICEF to strengthen resolve to mobilise 1 crore youth volunteers to achieve goals of Atmanirbhar Bharat
21.07.2020

In a step to realise the vision of  Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mr Kiren Rijiju to mobilise 1 crore youth volunteers in India and contribute to Prime Minister’s call for Atmanirbhar Bharat, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports signed a Statement of Intent with YuWaah (a multi-stakeholder platform formed by the UNICEF) to work in partnership to promote volunteerism among the youth of India as well as to help them transition from education and learning to productive work, skilling and being active citizens. The partnership was launched by Ms Usha Sharma, Secretary, Youth Affairs and Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India in the presence of Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Kiren Rijiju.

Speaking about the importance of the partnership, Shri Kiren Rijiju said, “This partnership is very appropriate in these challenging times. I am confident that it will give a strong focus to our existing policies. The Prime Minister has laid out a clearly charted roadmap for the youth of India and given a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat, which the youth of India will have to drive. India being such a young country with a huge population, the contribution of the youth in any sphere can make a huge difference, not just in India but at the global platform.”

Kiren Rijiju further added, “The Government of India is committed to listening to young people’s opinions and ideas. These new ways of thinking are what we need to address many of India’s persisting and upcoming challenges. Towards this end, the MYAS can be an effective bridge between young people together with partners like YuWaah and the Government machinery.”

The partnership will leverage both the Ministry and UN efforts to work with young people to co-create and implement solutions at scale tackling education, skilling, and unemployment challenges for young people in India. This will include collaboration on supporting young people in entrepreneurship, upskilling young people, creating linkages with aspirational socio-economic opportunities, promoting changemaking and civic participation among young people, providing career guidance support to young people, supporting direct dialogue and the establishment of a feedback mechanism between young people and policy stakeholders, and building the capacity of the NSS and NYKS cadre and volunteer force on sustainable development goals.

Speaking about the partnership, Smt Usha Sharma, Secretary, Youth Affairs said, “We, at the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, see YuWaah as a unique opportunity that can provide a platform to fulfil ambitions and dreams ‘of the youth, for the youth and with the youth’. The partnership promises to give a great platform to our NYKS, NSS volunteers, even as they get a chance to interact with global experts.”

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India, and UN Resident Coordinator a.i. said, “The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, a key stakeholder of YuWaah, has spearheaded youth development and youth participation for several decades. YuWaah, through this partnership with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and UN agencies in India will support young people of this country to build, lead their own agendas and thrive. This especially relevant today as we need to prepare young people for a rapidly changing world, to involve them in decision making and amplify their views on issues/matters that concern their lives, inspiring them to take action.”

Tamil Nadu government signs MoUs for Rs 10,000 crore new investments, jobs creation
21.07.2020

The Tamil Nadu Government signed eight new Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) worth Rs 10,399 crore (US$ 1.48 billion).

It is estimated that these projects will create 13,507 jobs across the state in solar cells, data centres and industrial parks, according to an official release.

These MoUs will attract investments in the areas of solar cells and modules manufacturing, agro-tech and iron foundry, among others.

The MoUs were signed in the presence of chief minister Mr K Palaniswami. Out of the eight MoUs, five were signed in the presence of the CM, while three were done through video conferencing.

The release added that the projects will be implemented in Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu, Ranipettai, Coimbatore, Viluppuram and Erode districts.

The project will be monitored by a high-powered committee, chaired by the chief minister, and will accelerate various clearances and establish a Special Investment Promotion Task Force under the chairmanship of the chief secretary.

Industries minister M C Sampath and chief secretary K Shanmugam were present during the signing of the MoUs.

Britannia plans Rs 700 crore capex, bullish on rural demand
21.07.2020

Britannia Industries, FMCG major, plans to invest around Rs 700 crore (US$ 99.30 million) over the next two-and-half years for its new facilities.

Although, the rural demand remained stable during the coronavirus outbreak and the company will focus more on its core products, its managing director Mr Varun Berry said.

Mr Berry added, “The company is looking at some capex (capital expenditure) of more than Rs 700 crore (US$ 99.30 million) over the next two-and- half years.”

The company plans to set up new manufacturing facilities in UP, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Odisha, he said.

The company’s net profit increased by 118 per cent to Rs 542 crore (US$ 76.89 million) and the turnover was Rs 3,420 crore (US$ 485.18 million), up by 26.6 per cent in the first quarter of current fiscal year, over the corresponding period last year.

The company plans to prioritise its core products as the future is uncertain for the next six to nine months. The focus will be on less on innovation, Mr Berry said.

He added that the rural demand was not affected by the coronavirus pandemic and it will continue to grow at a higher pace than urban.

The COVID-19 crisis will leave a permanent impact on the consumer behaviour, and home consumption will increase.

“During the first quarter, the company has been able to unlock efficiencies and prioritised on high gross margin and premium products,” he said.

The cost has been cut by reducing working capital as the inventory levels were low, he added.

Regarding commodity prices, Mr Berry said there was deflation in flour and milk products, while sugar saw a three per cent price rise.

MPowered raises US$ 21 million as part of pre-Series A funding
21.07.2020

Gurugram-based asset management firm, MPowered raised US$ 21 million, as a part of its pre-series A round, from a group of US-based ultra-rich individuals with real estate veterans Mr Ashok Nichani and Mr Shelly Nichani leading the round.

The company plans to utilise these funds in expanding to new verticals of real estate such as warehousing, residential, and commercial spaces. It will also use some of its fund to develop tech-solutions that will enable ease-of-use in day-to-day real estate transactions and management.

“This fundraise will be a great head-start to MPowered’s journey as India’s most futuristic asset-management firm that converges deep-rooted understanding of Indian real estate and thorough knowledge of global real estate concepts from countries including USA, Canada, Germany, Poland and the UK among others,” said Mr Sudeep Singh, Founder and CEO, MPowered.

The company was incorporated in June and specialises in asset-management solutions, to help property owners convert their real estate liabilities into profit-generating ventures either as co-living or co-working spaces, for long term use.

The company plans to transform the un-utilised real estate into A-grade facilities by investing in them and executing various models on the properties as per the fitment in terms of size, location, infrastructure, among other things.

“MPowered brings to the table end-to-end solutions for landlords and property owners who may lack the time, knowledge or skills to put their real estate assets to good use and yield high returns on it,” added Mr Ashok Nichani.

The firm also has a technology tool, MGage, that manage workspaces efficiently.

Due to the current situation of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, realty investors are looking at an alternative asset class beyond commercial offices and shopping malls. As a result, investors are determined to venture into the warehousing segment, as demand for high-quality, automated facilities for smooth supply chain processes is at an all-time high.

Though, the demand for commercial offices has decreased because of the uncertainty around the pandemic and many start-ups and businesses are planning to scale down their real estate footprint.

Jal Jeevan Mission: States compete among themselves to outperform others; 7 States achieved more than 10 per cent of the target of 2020-21
22.07.2020

Launched in August 2019, in 7 months of implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019-20, around 85 lakh rural households were provided with tap connections. Further, amidst COVID-19 pandemic, since Unlock-1, about 55 lakh tap connections have been provided so far in the year 2020-21. Thus, daily about 1 lakh households are being provided with tap connections.

As of today, 7 States viz. Bihar, Telangana, Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Mizoram have achieved more than 10 per cent of the target household tap connections they had fixed for themselves. States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha, and Manipur have shown good progress during the corresponding period. This shows the commitment of the States to provide the basic services to the people residing in rural areas as envisaged under the flagship programme, Jal Jeevan Mission, as well as the speed and scale with which the States are making efforts to provide tap connections.

Out of 18.93 crore rural households in the country, 4.60 crore (24.30 per cent) households are already provided tap connections. The objective is to cover remaining 14.33 crore households in a time-bound manner while ensuring the functionality of all tap connections. With this goal in mind, States/ UTs are providing tap connections at the rate of more than one lakh connections daily.

In 2020-21, a sum of Rs 23,500 crore (US$ 3.33 billion) has been allocated for the implementation of JJM. Further, 50 per cent of 15th Finance Commission grants to Rural Local Bodies, i.e. Rs 30,375 crore (US$ 4.31 billion) have also been earmarked for water supply and sanitation. 50 per cent of this amount has been released to the States already, which will help in better implementation, management, operation, and maintenance of drinking water supply systems in villages to ensure people get potable water on regular and long-term basis.

The Ministry of Jal Shakti has been implementing Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in partnership with States with an aim to provide potable water in adequate quantity of prescribed quality on regular and long-term basis through tap connections to every rural household in the country by 2024. All out efforts are being made by the National Mission under Ministry of Jal Shakti to handhold the States/ UTs for the implementation. The progress of the mission is being monitored on day-to-day basis.

Various States/ UTs have committed to achieve the goal of the Mission well before 2024. In 2021, Bihar, Goa, Puducherry and Telangana have planned for complete saturation; similarly in 2022, States/ UTs of Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Meghalaya, Punjab, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh are planning for 100 per cent coverage. While Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura have planned for full saturation in 2023, States like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and West Bengal have planned for 2024.

In line with the appeal of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to further improve ‘ease of living’ in rural areas by providing facilities like financial inclusion, houses, road, clean fuel, electricity and toilets, the Jal Jeevan Mission is providing drinking water in every rural household, which will certainly improve the lives of rural population especially women and girls and save them from drudgery as well as water-borne diseases.

HIL (India) has supplied 20.60 MT of DDT to South Africa for Malaria control program
22.07.2020

HIL (India) Limited, a PSU under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, has supplied 20.60 Metric tonne of DDT 75 per cent WP to South Africa for their Malaria control program yesterday.

HIL (India) is the sole manufacturer of DDT globally. The company was incorporated in the year 1954 to manufacture and supply DDT to Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for malaria control programme. In the year 2019-20, the product was supplied to 20 States in the country. The company is also exporting the product to many African countries.

The Department of Health, South Africa shall be utilising DDT in three province adjoining Mozambique. The region is highly affected with Malaria and it has reported maximum morbidity and mortality due to the disease in recent years.

Malaria continues to be one of the major public health problems globally. In 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and most malaria cases and deaths (93 per cent) were reported from African Region. In the South East Asia Region, India accounts for majority of cases and death. Spraying of insecticides inside the human habitants i.e. Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) has proven to be effective mosquito control tool. World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends DDT as one of the efficient IRS chemicals to curb malaria mosquito menace and it is widely used by Southern African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique etc. and India.

The Company is further in process of supplying DDT 75 per cent WP to Zimbabwe (128 MT) and Zambia (113 MT) in the current FY2020-21.

HIL (India) Limited has recently exported 25 MT of Malathion Technical 95 per cent to Iran under Government-to-Government initiative for the Locust Control Programme and exported Agrochemical-fungicide (32 MT) to Latin American region.

2 Mega Watt Solar Power Plant Inaugurated at Naval Station Karanja, Uran
22.07.2020

Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, e-inaugurated the first Two Mega Watt Capacity Solar Power Plant of the Western Naval Command on 20 Jul 2020.

The Plant has been installed at Naval Station Karanja and is one of the largest solar plants in the region. The Solar Plant comprises of 100 per cent indigenously developed solar panels, tracking tables and inverters. The plant is grid interconnected utilising the state of art single axis sun tracking technology with computerised monitoring and control.

The project is a significant step by the Indian Navy towards harnessing Solar energy and use of renewable source of energy for meeting the power supply requirement of Naval Station.

SpiceJet acqui-hires Bengaluru-based airline e-commerce technology company Travenues
22.07.2020

SpiceJet, low-cost airline and air cargo operator, acqui-hired the team and technology platform of Bengaluru-based e-commerce technology company Travenues, a wholly owned subsidiary of online travel aggregator ixigo.

Acqui-hiring is a new concept where the company hires the employees rather than gaining the control of its products or services.

The Travenues technology team will join SpiceJet, while SpiceJet will inherit the airline technology and commerce platform built by Travenues that specialises in mobile apps, user experience (UX), engagement, cross-selling, payments, personalisation, among others.

“We are glad to welcome team Travenues to SpiceJet. This acqui-hire will help SpiceJet strengthen its e-commerce platforms as we continue to innovate across multiple technology areas and achieve our vision of being the worldwide leader in aviation technology,” said Mr Ashish Vikram, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, SpiceJet.

“We are proud of the team and the full stack airline commerce suite we have built and we wish the SpiceJet team all the best in taking it to the next level with a talented and motivated team,” said Mr Chandramouli Gopalakrishnan, Chief Digital Officer, Travenues.

Travenues was founded last year and is a technology platform business for travel suppliers and offers a travel-tech airline commerce and ancillary sales platform to airlines that allows for extensive customisation and state-of-the-art personalisation.

It aimed to help airlines power their own consumer experiences through this B2B offering and use deep tech integrations to further help airlines with UX around engagement, segmentation, targeting, cross-selling, payments, and customer service.

Last year, Travenues had signed its first technology partnership with SpiceJet for digital transformation of its consumer-facing experiences.

“We are happy that we were able to incubate a startup and build a next generation platform with a motivated tightly-knit team that can truly disrupt airline direct sales and airline commerce. The possibilities this unfolds for SpiceJet are endless!” said Mr Rajnish Kumar, co-founder and CTO, ixigo.

Bijnis raises US$ 10 million in Series A led by Sequoia, Matrix Partners India
22.07.2020

Bijnis, a business-to-business marketplace for unorganised retail segment, raised US$ 10 million in Series A, co-led by Matrix Partners India and Sequoia Capital India, along with existing investors InfoEdge and Waterbridge Ventures.

The company plans to utilise these funds in helping manufacturers grow their business by expanding their distribution network of retailers across India. It will also use the capital for building out more products and scalable technology focused on manufacturers in the footwear and fashion categories.

The company was founded five years back by Mr Siddharth Vij, Mr Chaitanya Rathi, Mr Siddharth Rastogi, and Mr Shubham Agarwal. It was formerly known as ShoeKonnect and later renamed as Bijnis, focuses on simplifying a digital transaction layer between manufacturers and retailers in the unorganized categories of footwear, fashion, and accessories. Presently, it enables 400 plus manufacturers to serve 60,000 plus retailers across 700 (out of 729) districts in India.

“Traditional B2B supply chains are still largely unorganized and fragmented. There lies an immense opportunity in building a digital ecosystem around the same. Building the model for one category over the last three years has helped us understand the problems that lie at the core of unorganized supply chains. We believe we are on the right track and positioned to expand and revolutionize the traditional B2B ecosystem around the fashion and lifestyle categories, ” said Mr Siddharth Vij, chief executive officer and co-founder of Bijnis.

In India, the traditional supply chains across fashion and footwear category are highly unorganized and fragmented. The industry is witnessing a massive transformation on the back of rapid digitization across various layers in these supply chains. “Bijnis is leveraging these trends to build the next-gen product for small manufacturers who are the backbone of these supply chains in India. We are excited to partner with the Bijnis team in their mission to digitize small manufacturers and empower them by bringing information symmetry, efficiency and expanding their reach,” said Mr Shraeyansh Thakur, vice-president at Sequoia Capital India LLP.

USIBC Summit: PM Modi urges US investors to invest in India’s growth story
23.07.2020

Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi said India and the US together can play an important role in helping the global economy bounce back quicker post the coronavirus pandemic and urged the US investors to invest in India’s growth story.

Mr Modi was addressing the India Ideas Summit organised by the US-India Business Council (USIBC). He said, “US-India friendship has scaled many heights in the past. Now it is time our partnership plays an important role in helping the world bounce back faster after the pandemic”.

He added, “The rise of India means a rise in trade opportunities with a nation that you can trust. A rise in global integration with increasing openness.”

Due to the effect of coronavirus pandemic on economic activities, International Monetary Fund projected the global economy to contract by 4.9 per cent in 2020 with India’s economy estimated to shrink by 4.5 per cent during FY21.

Mr Modi said even during the ongoing pandemic, India has attracted FDI of more than US$ 20 billion in April-July period while pledged investments from US has already crossed US$ 40 billion this year.

He said that global business is too attentive towards the efficiency and optimization. “We forgot to focus on resilience against external shocks. Global economic resilience can be achieved by stronger domestic economic capacities. This means improved domestic capacity for manufacturing, restoring the health of the financial system and diversification of international trade,” he added.

He further invited US companies to invest in sectors like technology, healthcare, insurance, civil aviation, defence and infrastructure, Modi said there cannot be a better time to invest in India. “India offers a perfect combination of openness, opportunities and options. India celebrates openness in people and in governance. Open minds make open markets. Open markets lead to greater prosperity,” he added.

The ground for quick adoption and acceptance of insurance products was laid by the government with the success of the health assurance scheme Ayushman Bharat, crop insurance scheme PM Fasal Bima Yojna, and Jan Suraksha or social security schemes. “There are large untapped opportunities for increasing insurance cover in health, agriculture, business and life insurance. To generate long term and assured revenues, the Indian insurance sector is one of the best investment options right now,” he added.

Gujarat: Third unit at Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant achieves criticality
23.07.2020

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has achieved criticality of a third unit of 700 MWe (Megawatt electric) at the plant in Tapi district which is fully based on indigenous technology. This comes almost 25 years after the last unit was commissioned at Kakrapar Atomic Power Plant.

“The first two units at Kakrapar of 220 MWe each were based on Canadian technology. The third unit is fully indigenous,” said an official from the power plant. The first unit was the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) of 220 MWe and was commissioned on May 6, 1993, while the second unit of similar capacity was commissioned on September 1, 1995.

Whereas the third reactor at Kakrapar is the front runner in a series of 16 indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs which are under various stages of development. First criticality was achieved by the third unit at Kakrapar at 9:36 am on July 22, 2020. Scientist were congratulated over the tweet by both Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Mr Amit Shah for this feat.

“A reactor is said to be critical when the nuclear fuel inside a reactor sustains a fission chain reaction, where each fission event releases a sufficient number of neutrons to sustain a series of reactions. Criticality is first step towards power production. In the coming days, we will be testing various parameters and the power production will be slowly scaled up,” the official told.

This development was termed as “historic” by NPCIL, Indian industries have manufactured the components and equipment for the reactor and the construction and erection was undertaken by various Indian contractors.

The work on third and fourth unit of 700 MWe each began in 2011, the official said. Loading of fuel for the reactor core was completed by mid-March 2020. The indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs have advanced safety features like steel lined inner containment, passive decay heat removal system, containment spray system, hydrogen management system, among others.

So far, NPCIL has seven more reactors under construction including a fourth unit of 700 MWe at Kakrapar. These reactors are expected to be completed and achieve criticality next year onwards.

Societe Generale buys 1.47 lakh Shriram Transport Rights Entitlement shares
23.07.2020

Societe Generale, French bank, bought 1,47,407 Rights Entitlement shares of Shriram Transport Finance Co Ltd.

As per bulk deals data available on the National Stock Exchange, these shares were bought by Societe Generale at Rs 102.04 (US$ 1.44) per share.

These shares will permit Societe Generale to invest in the ongoing rights issue of Shriram Transport.

Shriram Transport, commercial vehicles financier, has launched its rights issue on 16 July and will close on 30 July to raise Rs 1,500 crore (US$ 212.80 million).

The company had fixed a price of Rs 570 (US$ 8.08) per share for its proposed rights issue. As on the record date of 10 July, investors holding 26 shares will be qualified for three rights offering. The full amount of the issue price of Rs 570 (US$ 8.08) per rights equity share will be payable on application.

Promoter entities will be subscribing to the entire portion of rights shares they are eligible for and will also reserved the right to subscribe to additional equity shares in the rights issue, including for any rights entitlements renounced in their favour or in favour of any entities controlled by them.

For the quarter ended on 31 March 2020, Shriram Transport reported a drop of 70 per cent in its standalone net profit to Rs 223.38 crore (US$ 31.69 million) against Rs 746.04 crore (US$ 108.39 million) for the same period last year. The company’s total income stood at Rs 4,173 crore (US$ 592 million) in Q4 FY20, up 7 per cent from Rs 3,883.38 crore (US$ 550.91 million) in Q4 FY19.

The Shriram Transport Finance stock closed at Rs 695.10 (US$ 9.86), up 2.30 per cent on NSE on July 22, 2020, while the Shriram Transport Rights Entitlement closed at Rs 108.05 (US$ 1.53) up 8.16 per cent.

Sunteck Realty adds new housing project in Mumbai, aims Rs 5,000 cr revenue in 5-7 years
23.07.2020

Sunteck Realty entered a joint development agreement with land-owners to construct a housing project in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region that has a revenue potential of Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 709.32 million) over the next five-seven years.

According to the company’s regulatory filing, the agreement was done between multiple parties that own the land for the residential project in Vasai (West).

The company, in a separate filing, said that it has acquired a prime project of about 50 acres in Vasai (West), having a development potential of around 4.5 million sq ft in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

“The project will have a revenue potential of Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 709.32 million) over the next five-seven years, further strengthening the cash flow and the balance sheet of the company,” the company said.

Mr Kamal Khetan Chairman and Managing Director of Sunteck Realty said, “The project will largely cater to the mid-income segment, especially post the COVID-19 scenario, since it fulfils the emerging customer needs: residential premises that complement today’s luxurious lifestyle and suit the requirements for work-from-home”.

Mumbai-based Sunteck Realty is a luxury real estate development company and has a portfolio of about 31 million square feet spread across 26 projects.

Panasonic turns focus on tier 2 and tier 3 towns, bets big on first time buyers
23.07.2020

Local arm of Japanese consumer electronics major Panasonic has speeded up the plan to take its products into India’s smaller towns, as COVID-led lockdowns have encouraged shoppers in these markets to buy new home appliances and electronics while they spend more time at home.

Bharat Marketing was set up by the company as a separate function internally. The main work of Bharat Marketing is to connect with more trade partners, use technology to gather real time information on its inventory in smaller markets and also customize products to suit needs of shoppers in the country’s tier 2, 3 cities and rural pockets.

“What we are doing we are now mapping India separately—which is the bigger cities and urban markets. All the universe of trade channels, the display of products and partners whom we deal with—will be separate for bigger towns and separate for smaller towns. So we have formed a function in our organization called Bharat Marketing with a focus group to create and execute a strategy towards smaller towns, rural markets,” Mr Manish Sharma, president and CEO, Panasonic India and South Asia said.

There was increase in first time buyers in small towns and semi-urban areas, once the COVID lockdown restrictions were eased. This, said Mr Sharma, has prompted the company to accelerate its plans.

“Ideally this was planned for next financial year i.e. April 2021. But we really understood that it was important for us to set up this focus group as immediately as possible because the opportunity is exponentially shaping up,” he said.

Panasonic has portfolio in range of home appliances such as direct cool refrigerators, one tonne air conditioners, semi-automatic top load washing machines, and small screen television sets that has already reached India’s smaller markets.

This increase is on the back of COVID-19 and the following restrictions on movement, which has left millions spending more time at home. It has pushed consumers to upgrade appliances and go for bigger refrigerators and television sets; shoppers also bought laptops and mobile phones as they work and study from home. In order to ease the household chores, first time buyers have also shown up at stores asking for washing machines and refrigerators.

Furthermore, with consumers turning frugal and cutting back on discretionary spends in a post-COVID world, Mr Sharma reckons they are spending on items they urgently require.

Although, most retailers mainly apparel and footwear, are still struggling with sales severely affected by COVID, appliance and consumer electronics retailers have seen a surprising uptick in demand.

Sales in the month of June across retailers of electronics and appliances was 70-75 per cent pre-COVID levels.

Mr Sharma says the uptick in home appliances and consumer electronics is likely to sustain, especially as penetration of white goods in India is still low. For instance, refrigerator penetration in India is at 34.1 per cent, while that of washing machines is 14.3 per cent, for air conditioners it is much lower 4.8 per cent. While, LED TVs have a much higher penetration rate at 61.9 per cent.

“This is a tectonic shift in the way we live, so in some sense it isn’t just a pent up demand situation we are looking at, this is a situation which is going to continue,” he said.

The company also plans to accelerate customizing products for such markets. The group will simultaneously focus on identifying products that need to be customized for those markets, Mr Sharma said.

Nitin Gadkari launches advisory platform, RestartIndia, to help MSME sector
24.07.2020

The Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs) sector, Mr Nitin Gadkari launched www.restartindia.in, a mentoring platform primarily aimed at aiding the sector to restart businesses across the country.

This was developed jointly by Muthoot Fincorp and INKtalks as an open platform for advisory support. It is expected to help the common man by bringing global management information and expertise to the doorstep, said Mr Gadkari.

It is in sync with Atmanirbhar project and is a single platform to get information on various schemes that the Government has initiated and to connect with professionals/experts from various fields, added Mr Gadkari.

According to Muthoot FinCorp release, experts from various fields and industry domains will address the questions and provide information on schemes and initiatives of the government.

It is designed to help the MSME sector, particularly the nano and micro enterprises. It will provide solutions to the problems faced by many women entrepreneurs making a livelihood by setting up very small businesses, following the pandemic crisis.

The website also provides details of various MSME-focused governmental/institutional support and resources on how to run or set up a sustainable business venture.

“The objective is to raise the self-confidence primarily of small businesses by creating an environment for the re-establishment and progress of their businesses”, said Mr Thomas John Muthoot, Chairman and Managing Director of Muthoot Fincorp.

India to set up solar power park in Sri Lanka
24.07.2020

India plans to build a solar power park in Sri Lanka as part of a strategy to project its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) amid Chinese attempts to lure nations into its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.

India’s largest power generation utility NTPC Ltd plans to set up this project in the island nation under the aegis of International Solar Alliance (ISA).

This comes as the presence of Chinese in the Indian Ocean Region has been increasing and is considered as sphere of influence by India. On July 20, 2020, the Indian Navy conducted joint exercises in the Bay of Bengal with the US Navy, which sailed in with an aircraft carrier battle group led by the USS Nimitz.

“We are looking at setting up a solar park in Sri Lanka,” said a senior Indian government official.

India has been working on improving the energy infrastructure in Sri Lanka. State-run Ceylon Electricity Board has an installed power generation capacity of around 35.8 gigawatts (GW).

Earlier, Petronet LNG Ltd announced its plans of setting up a liquefied natural gas terminal in Sri Lanka.

It is also exploring laying an overhead electricity link with Sri Lanka as part of efforts to create a new-energy ecosystem in the South Asian neighbourhood. China is already one of the biggest investors in infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka.

This will be NTPC’s second foray after Colombo scrapped a proposal to set up a US$ 500 million coal-fuelled power project in Trincomalee over environmental concerns in 2016.

Though, no official statement was released by NTPC or India’s ministry of new and renewable energy.

With an installed capacity of 62.91 GW, NTPC’s Sri Lanka solar move is one of several such contracts being pursued to help build 10 GW solar capacity in ISA member countries.

Currently, Green energy projects accounts for more than a fifth of India’s installed power generation capacity of 370 GW.

Largest Solar Power Plant of Navy Commissioned
24.07.2020

Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, PVSM, AVSM, NM, VSM, ADC Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command commissioned a 3 MW Solar Power Plant at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala on 22 July 2020, via virtual conferencing. This is in line with the Govt of India initiative of ‘National Solar Mission’ to achieve 100GW of solar power by 2022.

The solar plant is the largest in the Indian Navy and has an estimated life of 25 years. All components have been indigenously sourced, including 9180 highly efficient monocrystalline solar panels employing the latest technology. The project has been executed by Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (KELTRON).

Despite heavy monsoons and restrictions due to COVID-19, all concerned agencies including Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) continued work on the project adhering to all guidelines/ protocols against COVID-19 and executed the work in a timebound manner.

The Solar Power Plant project will help Naval Station Ezhimala in reducing the carbon footprint and is one of the many initiatives undertaken by INA towards a clean and green environment. Surplus power generated will also feed the KSEB electricity grid.

Flipkart buys Walmart India’s wholesale biz
24.07.2020

Flipkart acquired the Indian operations of Walmart Inc. as its US parent consolidates its operations in this fast-growing retail market to compete with Reliance Industries Ltd and Amazon, among others.

Flipkart will take over Walmart India Pvt. Ltd, which operates the Best Price cash-and-carry wholesale stores and will launch a digital marketplace, Flipkart Wholesale, which is in pilot mode, in August, to expand its business-to-business (B2B) vertical.

This acquisition brings Walmart’s entire portfolio in India under the Flipkart group, two years after it bought a majority stake in the homegrown e-tailer for US$ 16 billion. The 28 Best Price stores will remain operational.

It is expected that the Walmart India’s team based in Gurugram will be shifted to Bengaluru, where Flipkart is based, next year.

Walmart first entered India in 2007 in partnership with Bharti Enterprises. It went solo with its cash-and-carry stores after parting ways in 2013 with Bharti Enterprises.

Flipkart Wholesale will initially operate with the fashion category and will expand gradually to grocery, home, large and small electronics products. This new vertical will be headed by Flipkart veteran Mr Adarsh Menon while Mr Sameer Aggarwal, CEO of Walmart India, will move to another role within Walmart after the transition.

Mr Menon, senior vice-president, and head-Flipkart Wholesale said that the B2B market size of finished goods across all categories is an estimated US$ 650-700 billion.

“We are looking at a part of that market, which is valued at US$ 150 billion, as the online B2B business continues to grow as a critical channel. Flipkart Wholesale can leverage Walmart India’s merchandising experience, strong relationship with brands and over 12 years of experience of operating Best Price stores, most of whom are small businesses,” he added.

It is expected that Flipkart’s new B2B or online wholesale business will cater to the largely unorganized kirana segment and smaller shops who can order goods directly through this platform.

Currently, around 1.5 million members are supported by Best Price, including kirana stores, food service and hotel industries, and other medium and small enterprises.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, the total income of Walmart’s 28 Best Price stores was Rs 4,095 crore (US$ 580.93 million), while losses stood at Rs 171.68 crore (US$ 24.36 million), according to data sourced from Tofler.

This deal also comes at a time when retailers are focusing on B2B models, digitising kiranas and leveraging online sales to draw benefits from India’s large consumer base.

JioMart, Reliance Industries’ e-commerce portal, is operating with small shopkeepers or kiranas to facilitate online deliveries. It plans to scale up the model further, going forward and is expected to expand to apparel, electronics and healthcare. It began with pilots in May in Maharashtra, and orders through the hyperlocal retail business have scaled to touch 250,000 per day.

“It is process integration and how Flipkart wants to grow the food and grocery business in India. The food and grocery business is still small for them, and with its ability to reach the market and technology that it has, Walmart would want to alter the cash-and-carry model of not just being a brick-mortar-led store but use e-commerce so they can ramp up faster,” said Mr Ankur Bisen, senior vice president, retail and consumer products, Technopak.

“Walmart wants to grow the business by collaborating with traditional retail rather than competing with them. Even JioMart is trying to grow the business by on boarding kiranas as a model to grow,” Mr Bisen added.

Flipkart Group said it is set to receive a US$ 1.2 billion fund infusion led by Walmart, along with a group of existing shareholders. The investment values Flipkart at US$ 24.9 billion in post-money valuation, with funds expected to arrive in two tranches over the rest of the fiscal.

Mr Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart group, said, “…The acquisition of Walmart India adds a strong talent pool with deep expertise in the wholesale business that will strengthen our position to address the needs of kiranas and MSMEs uniquely.”

Mr Judith McKenna, President, and CEO, Walmart International, said, “Today marks the next big step as Walmart India’s pioneering cash-and-carry legacy meets Flipkart’s culture of innovation in the launch of Flipkart Wholesale.”

“Reliance and its kirana strategy have shaken up a lot of things in the B2B market over the last six months. If Walmart wanted to build its B2B side of the business just by way of their own stores, the only way to succeed is to have Flipkart do it because that’s the way they can scale,” said an analyst.

Amazon to open 10 new India warehouses; offers insurance
24.07.2020

Amazon.com Inc’s India unit announced its plan to open 10 new warehouses in the country and begin offering auto insurance, in moves that will help the e-commerce giant widen its reach in a key growth market.

Amazon will now have over 60 warehouses or fulfilment centres across 15 Indian states with an area equivalent to more than 100 football fields, said the company.

It plans to add these new warehouses in 10 Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, it added.

India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing markets for US-based Amazon, although the company had to face the most regulatory hurdles, and a backlash from traders over accusations of offering discounts.

Amazon also said that its local payments arm, Amazon Pay, has partnered with private firm Acko General Insurance to offer car and motor-bike insurance. This marks India as the first market where Amazon is offering such a financial service.

The insurance service is available on Amazon’s app and mobile website.

Customers of Amazon’s Prime loyalty programme — which promises free movies and music streaming as well as faster deliveries for an annual 999 rupees (US$ 13.36), will also get extra benefits and more discounts, Amazon said.

The service will compete with local rivals including SoftBank-backed digital payments firm Paytm and insurance aggregator Policybazaar.

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