Category — Politics

Mondelez, Colgate Upbeat about India in 2018

Reporting significant sales growth in the latest quarter, global companies such as Mondelez, ColgatePalmolive and Unilever are upbeat about opportunities in India and said the country remains a bright spot. Several companies posted a double digit year-on-year volume growth for the December quarter.

“India is very strong, we had a 27 percent growth in Q4, but that’s of course lapping the demonetization. Still, we grew double-digits without that, and overall for the year India is up 12%,” Brian Gladden, CFO at Mondelez, said in an earnings call. “We see a growing middle class, we still have a low per capita consumption of chocolates, and the GDP growth rates are pretty strong. So we are overall very bullish on India,” he added.

Toblerone by Mondelez

Companies expect a volume boost from price-cuts that started in July last year and were further accelerated after the GST Council dropped tax rates on 200 products, including chocolates, toothpaste, shampoo, washing powder, and shaving creams, to 18 percent from 28 percent.

February 17, 2018   No Comments

U.S., India, China Step-Up Moon Exploration

NASA scientists have plans to visit the Earth-Moon Lagrangian point, or EML-2, about 37,000 miles above the far side of the Moon, where the gravitational pull of two separate bodies creates “parking places” or stable areas to land orbiting spacecraft. There is no clear timeline to this plan yet. China plans to land on the far side of the Moon some time this year. And this summer, India plans a tricky, soft landing on an ancient high plain of the Moon, where scientists think the rock may be 4 billion years old, some 370 miles from the lunar south pole. A landing so far from the lunar equator will be a first of its kind.

India’s ISRO the state-owned Space Research Organization is in the last phase of testing its Chandrayaan-2 mission (in Hindi, chandra means Moon, and yaan means vehicle). Chandrayaan-2 is an unmanned mission with three components: orbiter, lander, and rover, which will represent the country’s second visit to the moon. In particular, ISRO wants to to ascertain the Moon’s temperature near its poles; record moonquakes; gather data about charged particles in its atmosphere; and determine how water circulates on it. (The new mission’s predecessor, Chandrayaan-1 carried an American instrument which found the first evidence that there was water ice on the moon.)

Chandrayaan 1 Lift Off

So far, no country has been able to land on the far side of the moon, or near its shadowy poles. India wants to tackle both those firsts this year.

February 12, 2018   No Comments

Senior American Defense Staffers Visit Indian Counterparts

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein visited India in the first week of February. General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander, Pacific Air Forces, and Heidi Grant, deputy under secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, also traveled to India with General Goldfein.

 The U.S. team met with Air Chief Marshal B. S. Dhanoa, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat and Defense Secretary Sanjay Mitra. Their discussions focused on ways to strengthen the strategic military-to-military partnership with India.  

“During these meetings, GenerakGoldfein emphasized the U.S. Air Force’s commitment to strengthening its relationship with the Indian Armed Forces and discussed ways that the U.S. and India can deepen the relationship between their two air forces through bilateral engagements, exchanges and exercises,” the U.S. Embassy in Delhi said.

India is a leading power and strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific region. From our presidents, to our defense secretary, to our air force chiefs, we’re working together and looking for opportunities to enhance the inter- operability of our two forces as major defense partners in the Indo-Pacific region,” Goldfein said.

US and India Flags

February 7, 2018   No Comments

India To Extend Healthcare to 100 Million Families

In the annual budget for 2019, India’s minister for finance, Arun Jaitley, announced a National Health Protection Scheme that will provides health insurance coverage for 100 million of India’s most vulnerable families up to 500,000 rupees, or about $7,825 each year, an amount in India that would cover the equivalent of five heart surgeries. With approximately 500 million beneficiaries, “this will be the world’s largest government-funded healthcare program,” Jaitley told parliament in his speech. “The government is progressing towards a goal of universal health coverage,” he added.

Jaitley also announced the creation of Health and Wellness Centers, which will “bring healthcare closer to home.” 150,000 such centers will provide comprehensive health care for non-communicable diseases, maternal and child health services, essential drugs, and diagnostic services. $314 million has been allocated for this in the current budget.

Additional funding may be channeled via Corporate Social Responsibility programs, and philanthropic institutions will be encouraged to “adopt” some of these Health & Wellness Centers.

Picture of India's finance minister Arun Jaitley

Arun Jaitley, minister for finance, India

“This is huge. It’s the biggest step the government has taken in 20 years in health care,” said Dr. Ajay Bakshi, the former chief executive of Manipal Hospitals, a chain of 16 private hospitals based in Bangalore.

India spends a little over one percent of its GDP on public healthcare — one of the lowest proportions in the world — a sum the government is aiming to increase to 2.5 percent by 2025. Currently the government provides $470 toward healthcare for poor families, but that sum is insufficient to cover most medical procedures. Jaitley stated that the government was “seriously concerned” that millions of Indians had to borrow or sell assets to receive adequate treatment in hospital.

The government will levy a surtax that will raise about $1.7 billion a year specifically for health care programs, as well as introduce a new tax on capital gains. Jaitley added that 24 new state-run medical colleges will be set up, and rural hospitals will be upgraded.

February 1, 2018   No Comments

India’s Modi Assails Protectionism, Terrorism

At the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, called for International cooperation on climate change and stressed that the rise of protectionism is a threat facing the world, a threat that is as grave as terrorism.

In defense of globalization, Modi quoted the founding father of India, M.K Gandhi, who said, “I don’t want the walls and windows of my house to be closed from all directions. I want that the winds of cultures of all countries enter my house with aplomb and go out also. However, I will not accept my feet to be uprooted by these winds.”

In a reference to the popular Indian practices of yoga and meditation he declared, “We have always believed that victory over oneself is the greatest victory. To achieve this one needs to control one’s mind to gain victory over it. This is our soft power; in fact, our real power. Now, the whole world has started recognizing it.

Another concept that our sacred texts extol is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. This is a phrase in Sanskrit which means ‘the world is one family.’ That is why India has always seen the home nurtured and the global as mutually reinforcing and inseparable parts of the same organic arrangement. We rush to help people in need whether in the neighborhood or at far away locations. We have fought wars when no strategic interests of our own were involved.”

Fractures at the international level, according to Modi, are: direct and indirect control of territories; and control of transactions, including cross-border trade and movement of people; terrorism, and climate change.

“We all must unite in the fight against terrorism. India stands firmly with all such forces. I must also take the opportunity to appeal to all of you to see that such groups do not get money, arms, and ammunition. Without peace, progress and prosperity are not possible.”

He ended his speech by saying that India affords scope and opportunity for ideas and concepts to flourish and outlined opportunities for business and investment:

->  We need to build 50 million houses for the poor

->  We need to build metro rail systems in more than fifty cities

We must go horizontal as well as vertical.

->  From distribution of LED bulbs to laying down heavy transmission lines

->  From cooking gas in every kitchen to the National gas grid and LNG terminals

->  From roads in villages to the Bharatmala (meaning a necklace for India) road network garlanding the borders of the country

The needs of our fast track development process are lifetime opportunities for companies in various fields:

->  India’s steel consumption is 60 kg per person, against a global average of 218 kg per person

->  India’s per capita electricity consumption at 1100 kWh is the lowest among BRICS nations and is just 1/3rd of the world average

->  In India, there are 25 vehicles per 1,000 people, as against about 500 in European countries. (134th place in world and lowest in top 10 car making countries)

“Think of the revolutionary effect on your industry if the consumption needs of 1.25 billion people become at par with, or closer to, the world average in some of these sectors.”

The full text of the speech can be found here.

January 30, 2018   No Comments