India Bulids Towards Reforms

first_imgWhen Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a simple majority in the recent general elections, India’s business community was sure that a new reform era was about to begin. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index (Sensex) rose 1,745 points (7.81%) in three sessions on the strength of opinion polls predicting a BJP victory even before the results were announced. It surged nearly 1,500 points on the day of the results.The first statement of the government’s intent was the Union Budget. But finance minister Arun Jaitley rolled out what was widely considered to be a very pedestrian effort. On July 11, a day after the Budget was made public, the Sensex stood at 25,024 following a single-day drop of 348 points. The peak of 26,100, recorded on July 7, now seems like another mountain to climb.What went wrong? The Budget was expected to mark a new direction for India and its economy — but it did nothing of the sort. “It’s not a radical Modi budget but a [former Congress finance minister P.] Chidambaram budget with saffron lipstick added [saffron is the house color of the BJP],” wrote economist Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar in The Times of India. “Many thought Jaitley’s maiden budget would produce a vision for five years, major reforms and some bitter medicine. Sorry, there was no great fiscal vision, only minor reform, and sugar-coated pills rather than bitter ones.”Commented Business Standard: “This was a Budget prepared by incumbent bureaucrats, not incoming politicians. This was a Budget that represented stale continuity when the need of the hour was demonstrable change.” Chidambaram himself took a shot at Jaitley, noting that the BJP had campaigned for an India free of the Congress Party, but proved that it couldn’t even produce a Budget free of the Congress Party.But Wharton management professor Jitendra Singh says the budget has done “a reasonable job” and provided “a good starting point for bolder steps” that may follow. “Critics, some of whom are quite vocal, need to take a step back and view matters with the appropriate perspective,” he notes.Saikat Chaudhuri, executive director of Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management, adds: “Like most people, I was a bit underwhelmed, as I did not see a marked shift or new impetus.” But he notes that critics should “give some benefit of doubt and grant more time, until the next budget, to see the contours of the Modi government’s new thrust. There simply wasn’t sufficient time to understand, analyze and plan for a new direction a month into assuming office.”The expectations placed on the new government’s budget “would be high to begin with,” says Wharton professor of finance Krishna Ramaswamy. “Their eye on a weak monsoon and unresolved global economic recovery uncertainties might have tempered their desire to make aggressive changes that might affect the deficit.” In particular, he adds he would have looked for “more positive measures” in the tax initiatives.Fiscal DeficitThe key elements of continuity from Chidambaram’s interim Budget are the fiscal deficit numbers. The February 2014 Budget had set the target for 2014-2015 at 4.1% of GDP. “The target of 4.1% fiscal deficit is indeed daunting,” said Jaitley in his Budget speech. “Difficult as it may appear, I have decided to accept this target as a challenge. One fails only when one stops trying. My roadmap for fiscal consolidation is a fiscal deficit of 3.6% for 2015-2016 and 3% for 2016-2017.”Not everybody thinks he can do it. “The Budget announcement lacks details on revenue and expenditure measures to lower the deficit, making it difficult to assess the likelihood that future deficit targets will be met,” according to a report by Moody’s Investor Service. Adds an analysis by India Ratings: “The Budget arithmetic is slightly optimistic.”The economy appears to be swinging into a growth phase, so Jaitley’s numbers may yet have a chance. On the other hand, the Iraq conflict, which has resulted in higher prices for oil (India’s main imports), and a very poor monsoon to date may send the calculations awry.With so many imponderables, there is some praise for Jaitley’s efforts. “I believe this is a prudent, courageous budget,” says Wharton professor of marketing Jagmohan S. Raju. “The Budget provides incentives in important sectors such as infrastructure and manufacturing, with plans to keep deficits under control.”Wharton professor of operations and information management Kartik Hosanagar praises the budget for providing a boost to manufacturing, saying that such a measure “is exactly what India needs right now.” He adds that more progress is needed on this front. “For example, the import tax on finished products was lower than that on parts, which hurt Indian manufacturers. They fixed that,” Hosanagar says. “They will need to do more, but it’s a good start.” He lists other priorities the Modi government must respond to: “India needs to address its deficit and reduce some of the mass subsidies, and offer subsidies in a more targeted fashion.”At the same time, it is important to note that Modi’s approach to developing Gujarat, the state where he served as chief minister from 2001-2014, “was not a flashy one,” notes Chaudhuri. “[Modi] spent years developing infrastructure and accumulating land, as well as streamlining policy and administrative processes, before being recognized for attracting industry and economic growth. So he may not be one to offer ‘quick fix’ type approaches, but will emphasize building fundamentals.”The Union Budget demonstrates a similar focus, adds Chaudhuri, pointing to moves including the formal sanction of the dedicated Eastern freight corridor with industrial parks around it, development of the Ganga waterway for transport, various cluster initiations in biotech and the completion of a number of ongoing, but slow-moving, infrastructure projects. He expects “a clearer vision” of the Modi government’s agenda to emerge over the coming months through policy modifications, culminating in the next budget.“Given the limited time since being elected and the current state of the economy, I don’t think big-bang reforms were quite possible yet,” says Pankaj Dinodia, CEO of the Delhi-based Dinodia Capital Advisors. “But the Budget has set the tone right and has all the ingredients to put India back on growth track.”Creating a CatalystManish Sabharwal, co-founder and chairman of staffing services firm TeamLease, notes that the role of the Union Budget is “not to set things on fire but to create the conditions for spontaneous combustion,” namely “a number of genetically diverse and statistically independent tries by all kinds of entrepreneurs — small, big, local, foreign.“In 1991, we wrongly defined reforms as purely fixing the sins of commission — what the state was doing wrong — but our big problems are the sins of omission — what the state is not doing,” Sabharwal notes. “The four big themes of this Budget — urbanization, infrastructure, education and entrepreneurship — are about the sins of omission. India should have become a very attractive destination [during] the global financial crisis, but we got a heavy dose of friendly fire. Of course, the finance minister could have done more and I am confident he will. But there is a difference between the list of ingredients and the recipe. This government understands that prioritization, sequencing and tradeoffs are the key to execution because they have a decisive mandate for five years.”But the problems many critics have with the Budget is not the recipe, but some specific ingredients. Take, for instance, retrospective taxation, which was used in the 2011-2012 Budget to impose a $2.2 billion liability on Vodafone after the company had won its case in the Supreme Court. The case has now gone for arbitration.It was expected that Jaitley’s budget would address the Vodafone issue, which has been a deterrent to foreign investment. Instead, the Budget states that “the sovereign right of the government to undertake retrospective legislation is unquestionable.” Thus, the Vodafone case is expected to drag on. Jaitley did, however, throw a bone to investors, noting that “this government will not ordinarily bring about any change retrospectively which creates a fresh liability.” Curiously, however, the Budget elsewhere introduced some minor taxation changes with retrospective effect.“It is not as if the current government has created all the vexing issues India finds itself beset with,” says Wharton’s Singh. “The rather pointless tamasha [Hindi for “theatrics”] with Vodafone, which has done grave damage to India’s image in the global business community, was not authored by the Modi government. Neither was the grim situation with the fiscal deficit.” Singh agrees the government could have done more with the budget, but he wants to give it more time to set a longer-term agenda for reforms.On the subject of retrospective taxation, Singh notes that he can understand why no government would want to tie its hands and rule out the possibility of changing the tax laws with retrospective effect. Even so, a better option for the Jaitley budget would have been to focus on how the Modi government does not intend to move toward retrospective changes in tax laws, he adds.As for the Vodafone matter, Singh says it would be best if the Modi government settles the issue quickly, as much damage has already been done as a result of what Singh calls an “embarrassing mistake.” He notes that “ignoring the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in favor of Vodafone, the incumbent government went after the company, with quite negative results overall. Settling the Vodafone matter would be a positive symbol of the direction the Modi government is moving in.”Clearly, the Vodafone controversy is a test case for foreign investors. “There has been no other single largest deterrent to foreign investment in India than the Vodafone case,” says Dinodia. “Every single company that has looked to set up operations in India has hired an advisory firm to do a deep dive into the Vodafone case and see the probability of them [ending up in a similar situation.] I think the expectations were high that the government would give a clear and direct answer with regard to retrospective amendments. While I don’t think they have sidestepped the issue, it will need to be addressed with further clarity in the next few months in order to bolster investor confidence. Just saying that it won’t happen in the future is sometimes not enough.”Higher FDI LimitsForeign investors are also being wooed by a move to raise the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in defense and insurance from 26% to 49%. Observers say it’s a good beginning, and potential Indian joint venture partners are keen to pursue projects. But the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) points out that U.S. companies may not be queuing up at India’s doors. This is only an incremental step, according to the group, and U.S. defense firms would not be enthusiastic about transferring sensitive technology or conducting innovative research unless they have ownership of the joint venture — i.e. a minimum 51% ownership.The USIBC has welcomed the increase in the insurance cap as a sea change. But the “full Indian management and control” stipulation in the Budget may not sit well with some foreign firms. At the same time, India is one of the most underinsured markets in the world — less than 5% of its population has life insurance coverage. While foreign insurance companies could be looking at further relaxations in the future, not all Indian firms are happy with the change. Insurance is a capital-intensive business; not all of them have the deep pockets to match foreign funding. They could be reduced to minority partners when the laws so permit.One other provision of the Budget could cheer foreign investors. “Foreign portfolio investors have invested more than $130 billion in India,” Jaitley said in his speech. “One of their concerns is uncertainty in taxation on account of characterization of their income. Moreover, the fund managers of these foreign investors remain outside India under the apprehension that their presence in India may have adverse tax consequences. With a view to put an end to this uncertainty and to encourage these fund managers to shift to India, I propose to provide that income arising to foreign portfolio investors from transaction in securities will be treated as capital gains.”Jaitley’s two-hour plus oration was the longest Budget speech on record. Among other notable provisions: The public sector banks will recapitalize, but the government will maintain 51% control. There is $33 million for a statue of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel — the country’s first home minister and deputy prime minister, known as the “Iron Man of India” — being built in Gujarat. On the revenue-garnering side, there have been steep increases in imposts on cigarettes and tobacco products and aerated waters. “These are healthy measures,” said Jaitley. India may be the first country to put carbonated drinks on the same platform as cigarettes.Waiting for the Fine PrintThe Budget also sets aside $1.66 billion for a fund to finance start-up ventures, but the details are unclear.Bharati Jacob, managing partner at VC firm Seedfund says: “It is very refreshing to hear words like entrepreneur, start-up, incubator and accelerator in a budget speech — outside of the word entrepreneur, all others were used for the first time. It is also great that the government has recognized entrepreneurs as a distinct class and also recognized the role they play in job creation, since jobs are the need of the hour for India. [But] I would like to see finer details [of the $1.66 billion] before getting excited about it. What is it meant for? How will it be deployed? If the government uses the money to become a venture investor, it will be disastrous. That job should be left to professional investors. On the other hand, if the government were to use this to create physical incubators — such as the Startup Village in Kochi — managed by professionals, we might see greater impact. So I would wait to see the fine print before getting excited.”E-commerce companies, too, are waiting for the fine print. Jaitley has allowed manufacturing companies to sell their products on e-commerce platforms without any additional approvals. But the issue of FDI in e-commerce remains in limbo.“The Finance Minister’s statement of allowing manufacturing units to sell their products through e-commerce platforms without any additional approvals is a positive statement of intent for the e-commerce industry,” says a spokesperson for Amazon India. “It recognizes the role of e-commerce companies in the growth of the manufacturing sector. Following this statement, we are hopeful of a more positive and liberalized policy on e-commerce in the near future aimed to help grow the manufacturing industry.”Jaitley’s initiative is not so much about e-commerce as manufacturing. “The manufacturing sector is of paramount importance for the growth of our economy. This sector has a multiplier effect on creation of jobs.” said Jaitley in his speech. According to a report by Barclay’s Capital: “The Budget appears to reflect the strong intent of the government to boost the manufacturing sector…. We expect specific action plans to follow in the next few months. The National Manufacturing Policy proposed by the previous government — but yet to be implemented — intended to boost manufacturing to 25% of GDP (from 15% currently) and create employment for 100 million workers in the next 10 years. If the current government sticks to similar targets, it could be a complete game-changer.”Laurent Demortier, CEO and managing director of Avantha Group company Crompton Greaves, says that the government should have done more. “If India needs to be a world-class manufacturing hub, the ecosystem has to facilitate that and incentives for innovation have a big role to play in actualizing this ambition,” he notes. “The big disappointment is the lack of incentives for R&D and innovation.”Job CreationThe manufacturing focus, as Jaitley points out, is necessary for job creation. The Budget also proposes a national program called Skill India, intended to provide training for younger workers, with a focus on employability and entrepreneurship. The proposal gets right to the heart of India’s greatest challenge and opportunity: While the world is aging, India is adding to its numbers in the working age group. The problem, however, is that workers’ skills don’t match the requirements of jobs that employers are seeking to fill.“Job creation is about fixing India’s five geographies of work — physical, sectoral, enterprise, education and legislative,” says Sabharwal. “Fixing the physical geography of work is about urbanization and infrastructure; there was a lot in the Budget about that. The sectoral geography of work is about increasing manufacturing employment … and reducing low productivity agricultural employment …, and there was a lot in the Budget about that.”According to Sabharwal, the enterprise geography of work is about more productive companies. “Today, our 62 million enterprises only translate into 900,000 companies. Of these, only 7,500 have a paid-up capital of more than $2 million,” he notes. “There was a lot about improving the ease of doing business and giving access to credit to entrepreneurs via small banks and the start-up fund.” He adds that the education area also had significant representation.The missing piece, he says, “was probably action around the legislative geography of work. But action on labor law reform began many days ago on the website of the central ministry of labor and in states like Rajasthan. So, overall, I think the Budget was consistent with their election manifesto and what most people believe is needed. Obviously the magic lies in execution. But, as Victor Hugo said, there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come. Skilling and employment at the heart of the policy are ideas whose time has come.”Wharton’s Hosanagar notes that the government has demonstrated its willingness to take bold and decisive steps, some of which will be symbolic of the measure of its commitment. He points out the fare increase in the railway budget that preceded the Union Budget as one among “several unpopular measures.” A $340 million allocation to clean up the Ganges River is consistent with the priorities Modi outlined in his election campaign, he adds, although he describes the allocation for a Vallabh Bhai Patel statue as “populist.”Cleaning up the Ganges might be a more welcome action and offer a sensible long-run benefit to all, according to Ramaswamy. “It would have been best to show the right way by leaving the statue-raising to privately-funded groups,” he says.Singh believes that the Ganges cleanup plan is symbolic in many ways. “Indeed, the Ganges can best be viewed as a symbol of much that has gone wrong in India in recent decades, with words sometimes becoming substitutes for decisive action, while serious problems linger beneath the surface,” he says. “We need to see a cleaned-up Ganges, and that will have a salutary effect. This is worth repeating: The importance of symbols in any change program cannot be overstated. This could well prove to be a visionary example of change leadership, though only if the desired results are achieved.”While there is no dearth of critics, Sabharwal and many others are willing to give Jaitley another shot. “We believe a single Budget or one year’s efforts cannot bring the economy out of the low-growth phase; a concentrated effort will be required,” says India Ratings chief economist Devendra Pant. Adds Dinodia: “Hopefully this was a good trailer to a great movie that will be shown in the next full Budget to be presented in February 2015.”As Jaitley himself told the media in Delhi: “This is the beginning of our journey, not the end.” Related Itemslast_img read more

AD-Vantage BJP

first_imgNever in the annals of political advertising in India has such heat and dust been generated as in Election 2014( All three players, especially traditional rivals Congress and the BJP, pulled out all the stops to turn on the heat, blitzing all conceivable traditional and new-age channels, including social media, to offer a 360 degrees whammo, like there was no tomorrow.Yup. The NaMo-RaGa slowdowns were show-stoppers all the way, but as the results rolled in, the Congress blamed its advertising agency Dentsu for its poll debacle. No doubt, the inside track of the blame-game will undoubtedly take on a life of its own — losers are always bad news — and clearly the strategy to position Rahul Gandhi as a young and dynamic leader out to empower the common man, didn’t work.The BJP campaign was brilliantly structured, strategically sound and totally clear.The BJP recruited two of the biggest and finest ad practitioners in the business, Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, and Prasoon Joshi, chairman and chief, South Asia, at Ogilvy and Mather. They both come with a dazzling track record and a proven connect through their insightful understanding of the mitti of the land.Joshi explains that the BJP communication demanded two kinds of messaging: Tactical, embracing the here and now. Conceptual, playing out the party’s philosophy. For the latter, the multi-faceted ad-man (who is also a celebrated Bollywood lyricist and a fine, published poet in his own right) created an anthem called Saugandh, to which the prime minister designate gave his voice. Joshi’s deep understanding of the party’s brand values helped him pen the lines, which formed an intrinsic part of the overall communication, used in digital and TV film, as well as audio-track to enthuse, motivate and inspire party workers.Regarding the now famous tag line Ab ki baar, Joshi confides that his preference was Desh ki pukaar, Modi sarkar to emphasize the disappointment, disillusionment, frustration and the feeling of being let down by the general public, but Team BJP over-ruled it, going with Ab Ki baar, Modi sarkar, because Ab ki baari, Atal Bihari had worked brilliantly in the past. Joshi had no hesitation in admitting that they struck target because their version was direct and simpler.Both Joshi and Pandey were clear from day one to not confuse political campaign with regular brand-building campaign. Joshi lays it on the line when he explains that a product has no personal voice. Political parties, however, are live, throbbing, vital entities, consumed by their constituencies, all the time. They communicate to their target audience across a wide variety of forums, with rallies, interviews, speeches, press conferences, debates, etc. on an overdrive. Most of these today are telecast and on the net, so they work like ads. Secondly, unlike a product, where you interact only with the product’s marketing and brand managers, here, tons of party workers are on your radar and their suggestions — many brilliant — need to be considered and sometimes executed, because they are the foot soldiers, umbilically connected with the flotsam and jetsam of the public mood. Egos and arrogance — major issues in adland, especially with creative mavericks — also need to be under a tight leash, because this is a different ball game and the insights of non-expert party functionaries are likely to carry more weight than conventional advertising wisdom. It also needs to be understood therefore that this brand of communication is a collaborative venture, where chest-thumping by a single genius plays no role.Congress Party’s ad campaign was as listless as the man it was peojecting.Pandey says there is a popular misconception that political parties are usually clueless about the art and science of advertising, the perception and positioning aspects, which direction the communication will pursue, why and when to garner what kind of specific result. He was startled by the detailed homework the BJP team had done in terms of research, locating and understanding their target group’s mindset, what to say, whom to say, including tone-of-voice. The brief — the best he has come across in his entire career — was simple: Prepare a message around the sad state of affairs the country faced during the UPA regime and communicate it simply, but engagingly, across the country.It was all brilliantly structured, strategically sound and totally clear. The BJP core team leveraged the creative talent available from the right creative teams, comprising writers and musicians, picked their partners judiciously and divided and compartmentalized responsibilities in amazing fashion.Regarding social media, Pandey explains that despite the ridicule and mockery from some sections of the Congress Party regarding being a conservative, old-fashioned lot, ignorant of new-age digital communication, fact is, Team BJP was there well before the basic brief was culled and ad agencies selected. Why? To understand the critical issues and problems plaguing the common man before addressing them with passion and purpose in their quest for vote support. Ultimately however, both Joshi and Pandey agree that the product advertised needed to be solid and credible with a brand promise that rung true and a credible solution. A bad product is killed faster with good advertising, because it generates excitement and curiosity that belies the performance slot — an unforgivable marketing sin.Compared to the brilliant strategic and tactical ad campaign of BJP, the Congress campaign was listless, tepid, boring, uninspiring and lacking credibility. Sans style, substance, form, content, the Rahul Gandhi-specific campaign (Har haath shakti, har haath tarakki) was a giant leap in the wrong direction. Unlike the BJP narrative, it had no new, urgent story to tell, churning out a tired combination of old slogans about empowering the have-nots and new fantasies about the young. No wonder people fell, in large numbers, at seductive slogans like Achche din aanewala hain and Ab ki baar …When you goof up on the four basic principles of effective advertising — Attention, Interest, Desire, Action — then your achche din turns into a nightmare. Perhaps, agli baar? Related Itemslast_img read more

Overturning Fighting Faiths

first_imgThe seemingly interminable 2016 presidential is finally ending — and all the weather wanes are pointing to a victory for the Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. However, the surprising resilience of Donald Trump, notwithstanding his crass, narcissistic and disastrous campaign, has pointed a searchlight on the profound sense of national unease that is at the bedrock of his support.Thirty-two years after Ronald Reagan coasted to a landslide victory over Walter Mondale riding his optimistic “Morning in America” campaign slogan, Trump’s dystopian political strategy has pried open every national scab, with an apocalyptic vision of a country overrun by rampant violence, criminal aliens, crumbling infrastructure and mismanaged by confused, feckless leaders.It is a remarkable and humiliating decline for a seemingly proud and confident nation that strode as a colossal astride the better part of the past century. Somehow, fully a third of the American people seem convinced that the country has been reduced to a Third World colony of faceless globalists and bureaucrats.The vast majority of Trump’s support comes from less educated Whites, who have conflated their aggrieved circumstances with the hyped up threats of foreigners stealing their jobs, undermining their identity and endangering their security.Opinion polls show wide disparities on public perceptions of personal finance and security based on income and education. A Pew Center survey found that 75 percent of those with incomes higher than $100,000 believe their family finances are keeping pace or improving with inflation. By contrast, a majority of those with incomes below $75,000, and nearly two thirds of those with income under $30,000, say they are falling behind financially. While two thirds of those with college degrees feel that their economic situation is steady or improving, a majority of those without a college degree say it is declining. 81 percent of Trump’s supporters feel that life in America is worse today than 50 years ago and 68 percent believe that it will be worse for the next generation. In comparison, a majority of Clinton’s supporters believe the opposite.By all accounts, Donald Trump is a product of the corrupt political and economic system that frustrates and disillusions his followers. A child of privilege, he abused every loophole in the rigged system that he has so effectively inveighed against to not just enrich himself by buying favors with politicians, but also to evade taxes, stiff vendors and businesses by declaring multiple bankruptcies, and even his customers, such as students of the discredited Trump University. Indeed, there could be no better a poster child of the crooked insider system than Trump. He has, of course, brilliantly disarmed that critique by acknowledging it, and asserting, counter intuitively, that his insider experience best positions him to disassemble it.By publicly threatening to swing a wrecking ball against the rigged system on which he has coasted, Trump has been able to tap into the visceral anger that millions of marginalized Americans feel. They forgive his dishonesty and failures — and they likely don’t even believe that he will transform anything, because for the most part, they are past caring. They want only to stick it to the establishment. And by electing Trump, regardless of what he does, they will have accomplished that.As the Las Vegas Review Journal, the lone major newspaper to endorse the Republican nominee, wrote: “Mr. Trump represents neither the danger his critics claim nor the magic elixir many of his supporters crave. But he promises to be a source of disruption and discomfort to the privileged, back-scratching political elites for whom the nation’s strength and solvency have become subservient to power’s pursuit and preservation.”The palpable anger that animates his followers will outlast Trump. Democrats and Republicans alike need to find answers for those who are dislocated by the technological, trade and economic gales that are tearing through traditional industries, jobs and communities. Immigrants, crime and trade deals may be bogeymen for demagogues like Trump, but the distress and dislocation is real.The answers to the genuine problems of real people rest in an activist, progressive state that is people centric — one that guarantees healthcare, a livable minimum wage, a robust safety net, retraining programs for the new economy, enhanced educational opportunities, etc. Republicans have spent two generations demonizing the government and any attempt to leverage it for public good will be heretical to keepers of the flame.But there is no other escape. Already, the political sands are shifting. The Democratic Party’s union constituency has traditionally been more hostile to immigration and free trade. Recent surveys, however, show that Democrats are now more favorably disposed on both issues, whereas Republicans have shifted in the opposite direction. In another reversal in the most recent election cycle, the Democratic presidential candidate is far more hawkish on foreign policy than her Republican opponent. Both political parties risk alienation and irrelevancy if they are unable to sever the shackles of dogma and orthodoxy that have outlived their lifespan.Over the centuries, time and tide have overturned even mightier fighting faiths. Related Itemslast_img read more

Transition to GST Smooth, Arun Jaitley Says in New York

first_imgIndia’s transition to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been “fairly smooth”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the US Chambers of Commerce in New York. Jaitley is on a week-long visit to the United States to attend the annual meets of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.Jaitley also decried attempts by “ill informed” Opposition leaders to derail the implementation of the GST. “Many attempts have been made by political groups to derail the GST, but I am glad that their own state governments are not listening to them because they know 80 per cent of the money is going to come to them so they don’t have to appease an ill-informed central leader of the party and let the revenues of their own state suffer,” Jaitley said to the New York audience. “So, the state governments are being wiser.”The central government has unveiled schemes for the non-compliant as well under the GST, he added, saying that the obvious issue in GST is that the non-compliant are going to come into the net as well.“So the lowest slab in India is five per cent, which doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. That is because of the non-compliant tax character of the Indian society. You make it easy for people to enter the taxation system that you are able to expand. In the GST, for up to 10 million turnover we now have a scheme for them,” he said.“We are trying to bring them into the tax net because the first two months data has shown that almost 95 per cent of the tax is just being paid by 400,000 accesses. Therefore, it’s very top heavy in terms of payment. And there’s a need to continue to expand the tax base at the bottom itself.”Jaitley also spoke about the GST Council in the event, called “India’s market reforms: The Way Forward”. The Council sits every month to review the situation and the rates.Jaitley also spoke to American investors on recent economic reform initiatives, saying India is a better place to do business now because of the measures taken by the BJP-led government. “The procedures have been simplified and as as much as 95 per cent of the investments are through automatic route, and foreign investment promotion board has been abolished. Today, 99 per cent of tax queries are addressed online,” he said. Related ItemsArun JaitleyArun Jaitley GSTArun Jaitley US visitArun Jaitley World BankGoods and Services TaxJaitley International Monetary FundLittle Indialast_img read more

Modi Calls Trump, Offers Condolences On New York Terror Attack

first_imgPrime Minister Narendra Modi during a call to the White House on Nov. 1 offered his condolences to the families of victims killed in the New York City attack, and strongly condemned terrorism.A readout of the call, issued by the White House, said that Prime Minister Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump have resolved to jointly fight the war against terrorism. Trump accepted Modi’s condolences over the attack that saw eight people dead and dozen others injured.“The two leaders resolved that India and the United States will continue to fight together against the global scourge of terrorism,” according to the White House statement.Prime Minister of India Mr. @narendramodi spoke to President Trump and conveyed his condolences on the New York terrorist attacks.— India in New York (@IndiainNewYork) November 2, 2017Modi had condemned the attack that had been linked to the Islamic State group in a tweet on Nov. 1. “Strongly condemn the terror attack in New York City. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with those injured,” he tweeted.Strongly condemn the terror attack in New York City. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with those injured.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 1, 2017British Prime Minister Theresa May also spoke to Trump over a call, in which they emphasized the importance of coordination between the two countries. “President Trump and Prime Minister May agreed on the importance of closer counterterrorism coordination between the United States and the United Kingdom,” the White House said.Eight people were killed when 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov drove a pickup truck into bicyclists and pedestrians near the 9/11 memorial. Six of those who were killed were tourists. The statements he made after the arrest linked the attack to the Islamic State group, the authorities said. Saipov came to the United States in 2010.No Indians were hurt in the attack, the Consulate General of India in New York said. The consulate tweeted: “Our sources in the New York Police Department (NYPD) indicate there are no Indian names amongst the casualties. So far preliminary information.” The Indian embassy is in touch with the NYPD for more details, the tweet said.Our sources in NYPD indicate there are no Indian names amongst the casualties. So far preliminary info. We are ascertaining. @SushmaSwaraj— India in New York (@IndiainNewYork) October 31, 2017 Related ItemsIndia US tiesIslamic State US attackLittle IndiaModi TrumpModi White HouseNew York truck attackUS terror attacklast_img read more

2-Year Multiple Entry UK Visa for Indians Depends on Pilot Program for China

first_imgThe British government will consider two-year multiple entry visas for Indians after analyzing the results of a similar program that is being tested out for China, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said in the Parliament earlier this week. The matter has been raised with the UK government on multiple levels.Singh was responding to a question by KVP Ramachandra Rao, a Member of Parliament of Congress party from Telangana, in Rajya Sabha on Dec. 20.The matter was taken up by Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju during the recent visit of UK Minister of State for Immigration Brandon Lewis to India on Nov. 6, as well as during the India-UK Home Affairs Dialogue held in London in July 2017. “The UK authorities have taken note,” he said.Meanwhile, Virendra Sharma, a British MP of Indian origin, asked Lewis after his return from India in November, “We are now coming to the end of a very successful two-year pilot allowing Chinese nationals a two-year, multiple-entry visa for the price of a six-month single-entry visa. It looks as though that will be made permanent in the new year. Will the Secretary of State commit to introducing the same scheme for Indian nationals, our best allies in trade post-Brexit?”Lewis had told Sharma during a debate at House of Commons that the two-year multiple entry visa will be considered on a case by case basis after reviewing the similar pilot project for China.“I was in India just a couple of weeks ago, and I had some conversations about the pilots we are running in China. The hon. Gentleman is a little premature, because the pilot with China is still running. It is based on a different situation from the situation with us and India, but we will look at that pilot, and I will feed back after it has ended and we have a chance to review it,” Lewis said on Nov. 20.British Prime Minister Theresa May, who also visited India in 2017, and who is focused on reducing net immigration in the nation and includes students in the statistics, told New Delhi that its visa offer to India would change only if the return of the Indians who don’t have the “right” to stay can be expedited. Related ItemsBritainUnited Kingdomlast_img read more

India to Discontinue Haj Subsidy

first_imgThe Government of India will be discontinuing the Haj pilgrimage subsidy from 2018, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi confirmed on Jan. 16.“This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” Naqvi was quoted as saying by the Times of India.The funds that were used for the Haj subsidy will now be used for educational empowerment and welfare of girls from minority communities. The government is also going to offer two transport options now — air and waterways.The new policy seeks to rationalize distribution of the quota between Haj Committee of India and private tour operators in 70:30 ratio in the next five years. It also seeks to get rid of the cartel of contractors by inviting other contractors through a transparent bidding process.With the subsidy, thousands of Muslims from India were able to get cheaper air tickets to Saudi Arabia to go to Mecca. However, Saudi Arabia has now allowed waterways travel for Indians.“We believe in empowerment without appeasement,” Naqvi said, adding that 1.75 lakh Muslims would be going for the pilgrimage in 2018 since Saudi Arabia increased India’s quota by 5,000.“Muslims didn’t benefit from it. Development with dignity is what we believe in. The subsidy will be used for educating girls,” Naqvi said.The subsidy is being scrapped as per a 2012 Supreme Court order asking the Center to abolish it gradually by 2022.“A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, during the Congress regime, directed that the Haj subsidy be done away with (till 2022). Hence, in the new policy, as per the recommendations of a committee, we have decided to do away with the Haj subsidy gradually,” Naqvi had said earlier.In an effort to ease travel for Muslim women, the government had earlier said that women aged above 45 years can go on Haj in a group of four without any mehram — male relatives they cannot marry. Related ItemsIslamMeccaSaudi Arabialast_img read more

Qatar Seeks Indian Security Experts for FIFA World Cup 2022

first_imgQatar is seeking to make Indian detectives a part of the security assistance program for the FIFA World Cup scheduled to take place in the country in 2022. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will make a list of names of over 20 officers of the Indian Police Service from various parts of the country for a security seminar in Doha, the Indian Express reported.Officers from Maharashtra and the National Security Guard (NSG) have been told to send names of officials holding the rank of the Superintendent of Police and Deputy Inspector General, and those who have been involved in crucial events like the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.Similarly, other states like West Bengal have been asked by the Home Ministry to nominate names of officers who are experienced in organizing the Indian Super League and FIFA Under-17 World Cup, among other big events. These officers are also well equipped to handle and manage the crowd, as well as assess threats and risks.“States and union territories have been told to nominate officers after we received communication from Doha and FIFA. The event will be a good exposure for our officers, and our forces can benefit from their experience in the near future,” the publication reported a senior government official as saying.Nominations are being sought from the Intelligence Bureau (IB), according to the report.The seminar will involve experts discussing the security arrangements for the mega football event.Officials working in the area of international engagement and cooperation are required to work alongside international agencies to tackle terror threats. Another requirement is that the officer should be well versed and have good command over English. Also, the candidate should not be facing corruption charges.“It is desirable to sponsor such officers who have expertise in more than one field and the nominated officer should be in excellent health and fit to travel,” said the Home Ministry, the report added.The first completed tournament venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is the Khalifa International Stadium that received a major sustainability certification last year, reported The stadium has a seating capacity of 40,000 and became the first in the world to be awarded a four-star rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS), administered by Qatar-based Gulf Organization for Research & Development (GORD). The stadium officially reopened in May 2017, after undergoing some major redevelopment. Related ItemsdohaQatarTerrorismlast_img read more

India Slips 10 Spots to Rank 42 on Global Democracy Index

first_imgIndia has been ranked 42nd, 10 spots down from last year, on the recently-released Global Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). India remains classified under “flawed democracies,” and the slide in the ranking has been attributed to the “rise of conservative religious ideologies” in the country.“The rise of conservative religious ideologies also affected India. The strengthening of right-wing Hindu forces in an otherwise secular country led to a rise of vigilantism and violence against minority communities, particularly Muslims, as well as other dissenting voices,” the EIU, the research and analysis division of the UK-based media giant the Economist Group, said, PTI reported.The index also gauged media freedom and noted that Indian media was “partially free.” It said: “India has also become a more dangerous place for journalists, especially the central state of Chhattisgarh and the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. The authorities there have restricted freedom of the press, closed down several newspapers and heavily controlled mobile internet services. Several journalists were murdered in India in 2017, as in the previous year.”The report has ranked 165 countries and two territories on these five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. India scored well on electoral process and pluralism, while it did not do too well in political culture, functioning of government, political participation and civil liberties.After the ranking, the countries have been divided into four categories — full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime and authoritarian regime. The top 19 countries belong to the category of full democracies. Along with India, other flawed democracies are the United States, Japan, Italy, France, Israel, Singapore, and Hong Kong.The United States was demoted from a full democracy to a flawed democracy in 2016. Almost one-third of the world’s population is under an authoritarian regime, EIU observed.The top three positions have been occupied by Norway, Iceland and Sweden, respectively. Norway has the perfect 10 scores for electoral process, pluralism, political participation and political culture.The rest of the top 10 countries include New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Finland and Switzerland.The EIU was established in 1946 and helps businesses, financial firms and governments to understand how the world is changing and how that creates opportunities to be seized and risks to be managed. Related ItemsSocietylast_img read more

Police Raid Gupta Family’s Home in South Africa

first_imgAn elite unit of South African police raided the home of the influential Gupta brothers, the Indian-origin businessmen friends of South African President Jacob Zuma on Feb.14, during an investigation into allegations that the family used their links with the president to win state contracts and Cabinet appointments.The raid, which marks an escalation of pressure on Zuma, resulted in three arrests. A dozen officers cordoned off the streets leading to the Gupta house in Johannesburg’s upscale Saxonworld suburb. Police also raided the Guptas’ Oakbay holding company in Johannesburg’s Sandton financial district, Reuters reported citing a security guard stationed outside the building.The raids comes at a time when country is waiting to see if Zuma steps down after being asked to do so by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.The Gupta family, central to allegations levelled against Zuma, is said to have had access to sensitive state information and government contracts, and played a role in hiring and firing of Cabinet ministers.Zuma and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing, and the family’s lawyer said he cannot comment on the raid as he is yet to see a search warrant, according to reports.The spokesperson of Hawks, South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Hangwani Mulaudzi asserted they are not “playing around” as the raid is a part of investigation into influence peddling and corruption in the government, the reports said. “We’re viewing this investigation in a very serious light. We’re not playing around in terms of making sure that those who are responsible in the so-called state capture, they take responsibility for it,” he said, the reports added.Mulaudzi declined to comment further, saying a full statement would be released later. “Finally something is being done about it. These guys must get out of our country. They must leave us alone. They have done enough damage,” Tessa Turvey, the head of the local residents’ association, told the media about the Gupta family who were accused by local publications for “state capture.”The Guptas have a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media. The three brothers — Atul, Rajesh and Ajay — came to the country in 1993. Zuma’s son, daughter and one of his wives have worked for the Gupta family’s firms.Zuma was expected to respond on Feb.14 morning to the ruling ANC order asking him to step down as head of state.Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had said Zuma would speak at 0800 GMT on Feb. 14. While journalists and satellite trucks were in position at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, the seat of the government, Zuma’s office denied any “official communication” of an impending address.The ANC had on Feb.13 asked Zuma to step down. The president is also facing a no-confidence motion moved by the opposition in parliament, set for Feb. 22. If Zuma refuses to resign, the ANC is expected to back the no-confidence motion, even though the entire Cabinet will have to resign if it is passed. Related ItemsGupta FamilyJohannesburgSouth Africalast_img read more

India has Fourth Strongest Military in the World: Global Firepower List

first_imgIndian military has been placed as the fourth strongest in the world in a global index that ranks 133 countries on the basis of their global military prowess annually. India follows the United States, Russia and China (in that order), on the Global Firepower list (GFP) in 2017. The other countries that feature in the top 10 are France, United Kingdom, Japan, Turkey and Germany.Global Firepower has been analyzing military data since 2006.While Indian military has maintained its position in the top five military powers in the world since 2013, its western neighbor Pakistan broke into top 15 only last year. Pakistan is number 13 on the list.According to GFP’s assessment, India is ahead of China in terms of total armed personnel, with India’s 4,207,250 personnel against China’s 3,712,500. China, however, has more active personnel, with 2,260,000 troops compared to India’s 1,362,500. India’s reserve components (2,844,750) are higher than China’s (1,452,500).The Indian Army is equipped with 4,426 combat tanks, 6,704 armored fighting vehicles, and 7,414 towed artillery guns, as opposed to the Chinese Army’s 6,457 tanks, 4,788 armored fighting vehicles, and 6,246 towed artillery guns. Indian Air Force lags slightly behind its northern neighbor, with 2,102 aircraft as compared to China’s 2,955.While the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers (three) outnumbers China (one), China has more submarines, destroyers , and a total naval assets when the judgement of maritime strength is made.The list ranks a country’s military prowess on 50 parameters, including military resources, natural resources, industry, geographical features and available manpower. India and China’s rankings have been attributed to the sizeable number of armed forces personnel with the respective countries. As per the report, China looks to be in a position where it can topple Russia out of its second place, with more number of aircraft and naval ships. However, Russia’s current total tanks in service far outnumber China’s.While the index didn’t count nuclear stockpiles for the ranking, it did give points for nuclear capability. The index also looked into the defense budget allocation. As per the report, China allocates over three times the amount that India has kept for its military.The only area where Pakistan fares better than India is the number of attack helicopters, self-propelled artillery and waterway coverage.Global Firepower spoke about their assessment methods in a statement: “Our formula allows smaller, though more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. Modifiers (in the form of bonuses and penalties) are added to further refine the list.”Top 10 Countries in Global Firepower Military Strength Index 2017United StatesRussiaChinaIndiaFranceUnited KingdomJapanTurkeyGermanyEgypt Related ItemsChinaDefenseUnited Stateslast_img read more

Over 90% H-4 Visa Holders Receiving U.S. Work Permits in 2015-17 were Indians

first_imgAs many as 71,287 spouses of H-1B visa holders were issued work authorization documents by the United States between 2015 and 2017, out of which 93 per cent were from India, according to a report by Migration Policy Institute that was released on March 28.In the fiscal year of 2015, a total of 26,668 H-4 visa holders — the spouses of H1-B visa holders — were granted work authorization. In 2016, the number was 31,638, while till February 2017, 12,981 spouses received work authorization.The report, titled Evolution of the H-1B: Latest Trends in a Program on the Brink of Reform, said that out of those H-4 spouses who had been granted work authorization till early 2017, 94 per cent were women, and 93 per cent were from India, while 4 per cent were from China.With more workers staying for longer periods in  the United States as they wait for a green card, there is a growing pool of H-1B visa holders in the country who renew their visa beyond the typical six-year limit. “Even as Indian renewals are rising, with Indian workers representing 80 percent of petitions approved for continuing work, the brief also finds that Chinese immigrants represent growing numbers of initial applicants,” the report said.In the financial year of 2016, a total of 185,489 H-1B petitions were approved for Indian nationals already in the H-1B status, which is more than 80 per cent of all petitions approved for continuing employment.“With demand for H-1B high-skilled visas far outstripping supply, employers are gearing up to mail in applications on April 2, the day the lottery opens this year for 85,000 of the temporary visas,” the report said.However, most H-1B visas are awarded outside the cap, with an average 212,000 such petitions approved annually in the last five years. A total of 345,262 H-1B petitions were approved in fiscal 2016, including 230,759 in uncapped categories — the highest level yet.The increase in the uncapped categories results mainly from petitions by continuing workers, many of whom are in extended H-1B stays as they await a green card, especially Indian immigrants, who face average waits of 9 to 11 years depending on the green card category.Almost one-third of all approved H-1B petitions in fiscal 2017 went to only 20 companies, although 40,645 firms were approved to sponsor H-1B visas that year. “The top employers are either foreign consulting firms, some accused of using the visa to outsource US jobs, or US high-tech giants such as Amazon, Apple and Google,” the report added.H-4 visa holders received work authorization in 2015 during the Barack Obama era, a policy that the Trump administration has signaled it wants to put an end to. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a court filing earlier this year that it was reviewing the economic impact of terminating work authorization for H4 visa holders and has pushed back terminating the permit till June. Related ItemsH-1B visah-4 visaUnited Stateslast_img read more

Indian Politician Targeted by Protesters During Kabaddi Event in Melbourne

first_imgFormer Punjab minister Sikander Singh Maluka was booed, and saw shoes and bottles hurled at him during a sports tournament in Melbourne on April 8, SBS Punjabi reported. Maluka has been involved in run-ins with the Sikh diaspora earlier, and was stopped by the Canadian police from entering a meeting venue in Abbotsford following protests by the Sikhs in 2015.The Shiromani Akali Dal politician from India, who was invited as the chief guest at the Kings International Kabaddi Cup at Errington Reserve in St Albans, Melbourne, was met by angry protesters at the venue once again. Videos of the incident posted on social media show demonstrators throwing shoes and water bottles towards the stage where Maluka was seated, asking him to “go back.”The fracas began during the semi final match between Australia and Pakistan. “The match was on when Sikh men began raising slogans against Maluka. Bottles were thrown towards the stage, someone also hurled a shoe in the direction [of Maluka],” Charanjit Singh, a journalist present at the site, told SBS Punjabi.The stage was covered with fence from all sides, Singh said. “But the most disturbing thing is, someone also threw a metal clamp used to hold the fence together towards the spectators and it could have caused very serious harm to anyone it struck,” he added.Maluka, who is the president of Punjab Kabaddi Association and chairman of All India Circle Style Kabaddi, was escorted out of the venue under police protection.The anger against Maluka stems from an incident in 2015, when he asked people to celebrate Diwali, after Sikh groups had called for a Black Diwali to protest against the alleged sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari in Kotkapura, Punjab. The anger against him gained more fuel when he attended a function in December 2016 at Rampura Phool where the  pattern of Sikh prayer was copied in a controversial manner.Maluka, however, denied that shoes were hurled at him during the event, and said that the protest was due to some fight between the kabaddi clubs. “No shoe was hurled on me, there was some sloganeering, but it had no political motive, rather two kabaddi clubs of Melbourne had some tussle with each other and hence persons from other club came to spoil the atmosphere,” he said, the Indian Express reported.The tournament organizers believe the protest was “preplanned,” according to SBS Punjabi.“There were just a handful of people who had planned this protest in advance and they filmed it as well,” Shammi Singh, one of the organizers, was quoted by the website as saying. “The start of the final match was delayed but Maluka stayed until it started and left as he had to be somewhere else,” he said.One man was detained by the police and later released, according to reports. Related ItemsMelbourneSikander Singh MalukaSikh diasporalast_img read more

Mapping Invisible Jobs to Help Measure India’s Real Growth

first_imgFor those trying to solve the Indian economy jigsaw puzzle, reliable jobs data has been one crucial missing piece. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a plan to fix that defect.The government is set to map employment in the economy’s vast informal sector when the labor ministry starts publishing quarterly surveys on jobs in about a year’s time, covering enterprises with less than 10 people, including those who are self-employed. These are businesses that are typically cash-based and don’t pay tax.“It’s a huge survey and takes the entire country into account,” B.N. Nanda, senior labor and employment adviser in India’s labor ministry, said in an interview at his office in New Delhi last week. “This will be the first informal sector data from the government, enterprise-wise.”With more than 90 percent of India’s labor force estimated to work in the informal economy, a lack of periodic and credible data in this sector makes it difficult to assess the impact of policy actions and measure true growth.Multiple data sets for formal jobs point in different directions, giving the perception that Modi has failed to generate employment. That’s denting his popularity among young voters ahead of next year’s election. He swept to power in May 2014 with the biggest electoral mandate in three decades after promising to create 10 million jobs each year for the country’s burgeoning youth population.About 12 million young people are set to enter the workforce every year in Asia’s third-largest economy over the next two decades. The World Bank says India must create 8.1 million jobs a year to maintain its employment rate.The state of joblessness is so dire that over 28 million people applied for about 90,000 vacancies this year at Indian Railways, the country’s biggest employer, while engineers and lawyers vie for low-skilled jobs in the government.Much of the government’s annual jobs data based on household surveys, which also captures the informal sector, is dated. The survey published for 2015-16 put the unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. The labor bureau will soon publish the data for 2016-17 — after a lag of two years — and has discontinued any more surveys, Nanda said.The organized sector, for which data is available from multiple sources, creates some confusion. The labor ministry’s figures released in March show India added 136,000 workers across eight sectors in the quarter starting July 2017, against 64,000 additions in the previous quarter.The first set of data released by social security organizations in April showed over 3.5 million new payrolls were generated in the six months through February. As the levels of employment are from various sources, there are elements of overlap and the estimates are not additive, the statistics ministry said in a statement Wednesday.NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think tank, had in April said the monthly payroll data was an “eye opener” and puts an end to “speculations and conjectures regarding job creation.”But not everyone bought the argument because payroll data could be more of a reflection of a formalization of jobs rather than a creation of new jobs.“This, of course, is not employment data,” Mahesh Vyas of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt., a business information company, wrote in a column published on CMIE’s website. “Growth in EPFO enrollments largely reflect the conversion of hitherto informally employed people into formal employment,” he said, referring to the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization data on payroll.Private surveys paint a bleak picture. India’s jobless rate rose to 6.23 percent in March from 6.06 percent in February — the highest monthly rate in the past 15 months, data from CMIE show.The statistics office has also started conducting surveys for generating estimates of various labor force indicators on a quarterly basis for urban areas and an annual basis for rural. The results of the surveys will be published this year.The economy, which saw world-beating growth prior to a surprise cash ban in 2016, is forecast to have slumped to a four-year low of 6.6 percent in the fiscal year 2018 that ended March 31. Unemployment remained high even during the boom years and that led to Modi’s opponents concluding that the $2.3 trillion economy was seeing jobless growth. The International Monetary Fund sees India’s economic growth at 7.4 percent in fiscal year 2019.“I don’t believe in all this talk about jobless growth because your economy cannot grow at 7.4 percent without employment,” said Nanda. “If productivity has not been spectacular and capital growth isn’t remarkable the growth is basically coming from employment.”–With assistance from Bloomberg’s Pradeep Kurup .(c) 2018, Bloomberg  Related Itemslast_img read more

Iran’s Right to Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy Should be Respected: India

first_imgAfter the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, India responded a day later, on May 9, saying that the country’s right to “peaceful uses of nuclear energy” should be respected by all parties involved in the deal.“India has always maintained that Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and diplomacy by respecting Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and international community’s strong interest in exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said, according to the Times of India.“All parties should engage constructively to address and resolve issues that have arises with respect to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” it said.The decision by U.S. President Donald Trump on May 8 has led to an outcry in the global diplomatic circles. French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had met Trump a day before to dissuade him from leaving the nuclear deal with Iran but were unsuccessful in changing his mind to leave a deal that he said was “defective at its core.”However, the Iranian nuclear deal is “not dead” despite Trump’s decision, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was quoted as saying by BBC on May 9.The deal was agreed in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia — plus Germany, under the leadership of former U.S. President Barack Obama. According to the deal, Iran would eliminate its nuclear stockpile but maintain its peaceful nuclear program, and in return, would receive relief from the nuclear-related economic sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union, and the United Nations Security Council.The other signatories have said that they will remain in the deal.India is speaking in support of Iran because of its interests in the Chabahar Port located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman, which gives India access to Afghanistan and Eurasia, bypassing Pakistan. It serves as India’s answer to China developing the Gwadar Port in Pakistan as part of its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.It was reported in February this year that India would invest in Iran to bypass impending U.S. sanctions, according to the Economic Times. The decision was reportedly made during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to India in February. India is already set to develop the Chabahar Port at a cost of $85 million over the course of 18 months. India has also extended a $150 million credit line to Iran through Exim Bank of India and offered to supply $400 million worth of steel towards the construction of the rail link between Chabahar and Zahedan.India has also engaged with the United States as part of a quadrilateral that also includes Australia and Japan to stop China’s aggressive growth in the Asia Pacific region.  Related ItemsDonald TrumpIranUnited Stateslast_img read more

UAE Announces 10-Year Residency Visa for Investors, Science Specialists

first_imgThe United Arab Emirates has launched a 10-year residency visa for investors and specialists, the country’s government announced on May 20. The long-term visa, valid for 10 years, will be offered to specialists such as doctors and engineers, exceptional students, and entrepreneurs.“The UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors. Our open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation are the best plan to attract global investment and exceptional talents to the UAE,” Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said while announcing the decision, Gulf News reported. The decision, announced by Shaikh Mohammad following a Cabinet meeting, aims to strengthen the UAE’s position as an attractive destination for global investment and talent.Sheikh Mohammed also posted on the social media that global investors can have full ownership of their companies in the country.Those eligible for the 10-year visa under the new policy include specialists in medical, scientific, research and technical fields, scientists and innovators, and entrepreneurs, the Khaleej Times reported. The visa validity will also apply for families of the people falling in these categories, the report added. Five-year residency visas will also be offered to students studying in the UAE, while top performing students will be eligible for 10-year visas.At today’s Cabinet meeting, we decided to allow 100% foreign ownership of companies in UAE, with a 10 year visa for investors,scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators.The UAE has always welcomed, and always will, innovators and business leaders— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) May 20, 2018The changes will come into effect by the third quarter of this year.This decision will be enforced by third quarter this year .Our open society, tolerant values, excellent infrastructure and flexible legislation offer the best environment for international investment and exceptional talent.— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) May 20, 2018Sheikh Mohammed has also directed officials to review the current residence visa scheme so that dependents can be offered an extension of the duration of visa validity after they have completed their university studies in order to facilitate their future residence in the UAE.This will give them the opportunity to study their practical options in the future.The move was welcomed by leading businessmen in the country.“This is a landmark announcement (and is) sure to further boost the UAE’s image as the most investor-friendly economy in the region,” LuLu Group chairman Yusuffali MA, was quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times. “This new long-term visa will go a long way in attracting and retaining not only investors but also top notch professionals who are very essential in today’s highly competitive world,” the UAE-based Indian-origin billionaire added.“Ten-year visa – this is great news as it will further boost the confidence of investors. UAE has always been in the forefront of taking pragmatic, business friendly and investor friendly decisions,” the publication quoted Al Maya Group Director Kamal Vachani, another Indian-origin businessman, as saying. Related ItemsDubaiUAElast_img read more